DrumBeat: July 9, 2007

Have we reached the energy tipping point?

So is a critical mass building among Americans and legislators for changes in U.S. energy policy? Or are these efforts simply blips on the radar as Americans continue to drive SUVs and Hummers?

A recent analysis by the Gallup Poll showed energy as Americans' fourth most-important priority for Washington, below Iraq, terrorism and national security, and the economy.

California to build 'world's largest' solar farm

The 80-megawatt farm is to occupy as much as 640 acres and upon completion in 2011 will be 17 times the size of the largest U.S. solar farm, said Cleantech America LLC, a privately held 2-year-old company.

Oil prices reach 11-month high

NEW YORK - Oil prices surpassed $76 a barrel Monday to reach their highest level in nearly a year after a global energy watchdog warned of a looming oil and natural gas supply shortage.

August Brent crude rose 65 cents to $76.27 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London, its highest point since August 2006.

Pennsylvania awakes to partial state shutdown

The state museums didn't open Monday. State parks were closed to visitors at the height of the summer tourism season, and many state services were idle because of a government shutdown that kept about 24,000 workers off the job.

Gov. Ed Rendell shut down the Pennsylvania government late Sunday over a budget stalemate with the Legislature that partly hinges on his energy plan for the state.

Global warring: New study suggests climate change could be the root of armed conflicts

Climate change, and the resulting shortage of ecological resources, could be to blame for armed conflicts in the future, according to David Zhang from the University of Hong Kong and colleagues. Their research, which highlights how temperature fluctuations and reduced agricultural production explain warfare frequency in eastern China in the past, has been published online in Springer’s journal Human Ecology.

Big Blue's green machine

IBM is going green in more ways than one. The tech giant said earlier this year that it would commit $1 billion annually to develop more energy efficient data centers.

As part of that "Big Green" initiative, the company's venture arm is on the look out for the next clean tech start-ups.

Manhattan: Bike-Sharing Plan

A planning group has begun a test project to see whether New York would be suitable for a bicycle sharing system common in European cities. The five-day project, started yesterday and sponsored by the Forum for Urban Design, makes 20 bicycles free for a half-hour ride after users provide credit card information to ensure their return, said David Haskell, the group’s executive director. The bikes have been lined up at a SoHo gallery called the Storefront for Art and Architecture.

OPEC has little power to ease oil prices - Algeria

Algeria's Energy and Mines Minister Chakib Khelil said on Monday there was "not much" OPEC could do to bring down high oil prices as global crude oil stocks were already sufficient.

"There is plenty of stocks. It's a problem with capacity and refining," Khelil told Reuters ahead of a gas pipeline conference in Brussels.

Iraq minister: 140,000 Turkey troops on border

Turkey has massed 140,000 soldiers on its border with northern Iraq but so far there have been no violations, Iraq's foreign minister said Monday.

Hoshyar Zebari's comments came amid calls by Turkey's military for the government to give it the green light to carry out military operations in northern Iraqi against the rebel Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK.

Coffeyville assesses damage from flooding and oil spill

The oil that spilled from the Coffeyville Resources refinery coated houses and lawns in a slimy, smelly goo. It prompted a class-action lawsuit in federal court against Coffeyville Resources, said Andrew Hutton, a Wichita lawyer involved in the litigation.

He said that the flood was predictable and that the refinery should have been shut down sooner.

North Dakota Governor Extends Hours Of Service Waiver For Delivery Drivers To July 19

Gov. John Hoeven has issued an executive order extending service hours for commercial truck drivers providing gas stations with fuel until July 19, 2007. The measure extends an earlier executive order due to expire on July 7.

...Reduced supplies owing to a slow down at a major petroleum refinery in Minnesota, along with a weather-related stoppage at a second refinery in Kansas, have combined with increased fuel demand to create a potential gasoline shortage in North Dakota and regionally.

Russia announces higher oil exports

Russia's oil exports amounted to 101.562m tonnes in January-May 2007, which is nearly 8 percent more than in the same period a year earlier, the Russian Federal Customs Service reported today. Meanwhile, oil exports grew 4.9 percent to $40.819bn in money terms.

Queues resurface as Zimbabwe runs out of fuel

Long fuel queues have resurfaced in Zimbabwe as filling stations ran out of petrol following a government directive to reduce prices by up to 60 percent, APA observed here.

Only few filling stations in the capital, Harare, had fuel Sunday, resulting in long queues by desperate motorists.

China oil demand seen rising to 9.96 mln bpd by 2012 from 7.59 mln this yr - IEA

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said it expects China's oil demand this year to remain flat compared to its previous forecast at 7.59 mln barrels per day (bpd), before rising to 8.05 mln in 2008 and further to 9.96 mln bpd in 2012.

China to encourage loans for energy-efficient companies

China, the world's second-biggest oil consumer, will limit loans for industries that are heavy users of energy to reduce waste and improve environmental protection.

Energy productivity the profitable path to sustainable growth

As global energy consumption soars, and as greenhouse gas emissions grow, the world needs to find realistic ways to cut energy waste and to use our limited resources more wisely. New research indicates that practical investments in energy productivity - the amount of energy required to achieve a given level of economic output - can help the world continue its economic growth and ensure a sustainable energy future. Better still, the research indicates that these investments have a quick economic payoff, producing savings that cover the initial costs and provide an annual rate of return above 10 per cent.

Arab countries urge solar future

Arab energy ministers and some EU politicians attending a high-level conference in this desert oasis town flanked by the ruins of a vast Roman city, announced support for a revolutionary renewable energy electricity supply system proposed by Germany to link both areas.

'Carbon credit cards' and 'carbon market' on agenda

A "zero carbon" Britain could be achieved by 2027 if a range of measures were brought in by a government with "strong political leadership", scientists said today.

US leads search for climate solutions

The most striking thing about the Miasole solar cell production plant in San Jose is how much of it is empty.

Probably less than a fifth of the huge production floor is occupied by machines.

But if Miasole's plan comes together, within a couple of years it will house a production line turning out vast rolls of photovoltaic cells, that some believe could help put solar power on a par with coal, gas or oil.

U.K.: Railways set for a hi-tech revolution

A 30-year plan to transform rail travel with longer trains that can run closer together using biofuels and even hydrogen power will be set out by the government this month.

Could jatropha be a biofuel panacea?

The wild jatropha bush - spread across the world from Central America by Portuguese settlers in the 16th century - is now being seen as one solution to the world's desperate search for new sources of energy.

Energy giant BP has just announced it is investing almost £32m in a jatropha joint venture with UK biofuels firm D1 Oils.

Brammo Launches First Production Battery-Electric Motorcycle

Brammo Motorsports announced the Enertia, the world’s first production zero-emissions battery-powered plug-in electric motorcycle.

Volkswagen continues driving towards a green future

The environment is a hot topic today. With more drivers going green and car makers currently focusing on producing environment-friendly cars that will deliver less pollution for the environment, Volkswagen is placing full efforts on reducing emissions and fuel consumption in its models as well as pioneering the recyclability process.

Kuwaiti MPs want size of oil reserves disclosed

Several Kuwaiti deputies have threatened not to approve this year's national budget if the government fails to disclose the size of its oil reserves, a newspaper reported on Monday.

..."We cannot make the correct future plans without knowing the size of the reserves... so this should be made clear to parliamentarians before the session to pass the state budget," Alam Alyawm newspaper quoted deputy Ahmad Lari as saying.

Gazprom aims to be first trillion dollar firm

Giant Russian energy firm Gazprom wants to be the world's first firm with a stock market value of a US$1 trillion (HK$7.8 trillion), its deputy chief executive told the Sunday Times.

U.K.: Regulator hints at increase in powers

Regulator Ofgem may be given new powers to tackle Britain's long-term gas and electricity needs and counter the short-termist investment strategies of companies that have been blamed for the UK's energy crisis.

Expert to UN: Politics an obstacle to global warming - Oppenheimer questions U.S.'s preparedness for natural disasters

Michael Oppenheimer, professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University, said at a United Nations press briefing last month that with rising sea levels, drought or excess precipitation and stronger hurricanes, climate change is no longer a dubious issue. The Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change, of which Oppenheimer was an author, declared that global warming is "unequivocal" and that human activity has played a significant role in these changes.

Blueprint for the New American Feudal State

Of course, in the brave new world envisioned by the decadent criminal elite, mere terrorism—raving jihadists, we are told ad nauseam, who want to dirty nuke our cities because they hate our freedom to shop—will pale in comparison to the dire scenarios of melting ice caps, flooded coastal cities, aberrant weather patterns, a Katrina catastrophe or worse every other week, and wars and rumors of wars based on the prospect of diminishing resources, including “peak oil,” all of it designed to prepare us for a dystopian future of slave labor down on the transnational corporate plantation.

Will We Have Too Much Generation for Renewables?

"When you feed your kid six brownies before dinner, you can't expect him to eat the salad, no matter how good it is." So says Leslie Glustrom, a long term renewable energy advocate. This is her metaphor for why Xcel Energy has been reluctant to pursue Demand Side Management (DSM) and renewable energy projects in Colorado as they have been in Minnesota. Because Xcel is currently constructing 500 MW of new coal-fired generation, and they are also interested in a 300-350 MW IGCC plant by 2013, they may have little demand for new renewable generation.

'Discovery!' is a little jewel

Admirers of Wallace Stegner, a literary icon to numerous Utahns and other Westerners, will be happy to see "Discovery!" a hidden manuscript now published by Selwa Press. (There will be a hardcover, fully annotated edition in September.)

Stegner is easily one of America's great novelists and historians. I had the pleasure of attending a history workshop he taught one summer when I was a University of Utah graduate student. He was as compelling and charismatic in person as he continues to be in print — a master of language but in a self-effacing, eloquent way.

But who knew that Stegner was the first to tell the story of how Saudis started sending oil to the West? This one got buried. In 1955, Stegner, then a lesser known Stanford University professor of creative writing, was asked to write a history of the Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO).

IEA sees oil supply crunch looming

World oil demand will rise faster than expected to 2012 while production lags, leading to a supply crunch, the International Energy Agency said on Monday.

In its Medium-Term Oil Market Report, the adviser to 26 industrialized countries said demand will rise by an average 2.2 percent a year between 2007 and 2012, up from a previous medium-term forecast of 2 percent.

Michael J. Economides: Oil Towards $75, Again

There is an “economic” side of oil prices, a real one and a silly one.

The economic side which does not work in an increasingly hostile and, at least partially, monopolistic environment, suggests that the “equilibrium” price of oil should be about $40. This is now purely academic and my students, associates and I have been calculating this for a while. This price could be good if the world oil business were run by all the rules of economics in a perfect competition. It would be the “break even” number, the price at which an honest profit could be made.

Oil's Not Well

At a national average of $3 a gallon, it's clear that fewer Americans are complaining about the cost of filling up because we're starting to get used to it. Just like $4 lattes, half-million dollar Manhattan studio apartments and $30 restaurant entrees, the sticker-shock has worn off - at least for now.

But that could change by late summer, with prices at the pump pushing closer to the $4 a gallon level - especially if current trends in the crude market accelerate. At more than $72 a barrel, crude prices are already up more than 40 percent from their lows earlier this year, and within striking distance of their 2005 post-Katrina high of $78.

All this, and we haven't even seen the first major hurricane of the season.

An investment policy

A public policy paper entitled "A Green Paper on the T&T Investment Policy" by the Ministry of Trade and Industry has been put out for public comment. The paper says and I quote: "...oil and gas resources are finite. Consequently the critical issue in respect of sustainable economic development becomes how to increase GDP when oil and gas productions begin to decrease. The solution lies in the sustainable development of the non-energy sector and as a pre-requisite the attraction of investment into this sector."

Whose bombs?

Bush administration officials have long been aware of the impending oil crisis. Indeed, it was a key factor in Vice President Dick Cheney’s formulation of the strategy in Iraq only five months prior to 9/11. Reports like that of BP are designed to misinform, steering public attention away from the real cause of the problem.

Energy Investors Take Note: The Second Law of Thermodynamics Still Applies

With the recent rise in interest in alternative energy technologies and other breakthrough clean technologies has come the inevitable rise in questionable business ideas promising unbelievable benefits: "free" energy, "free" electricity, etc. Let's just call these the "Huh" companies -- they typically invite people to sign up to be an early customer for free (just, hey, you will need to write a big deposit check, but you know, you'll get that back, no worries...), so what's not to like?

2 more foreigners kidnapped in Nigeria

Gunmen attacked an oil facility in restive southern Nigeria overnight and took two foreigners hostage, private security contractors said Monday.

Libya to open up gas fields to foreigners

Libya on Sunday invited international tenders for exploration of its onshore and offshore gas fields covering an area almost the size of Scotland.

Expert says rising sea levels pose threat to rice

Rising sea levels triggered by climate change pose an "ominous" threat to some of the world's most productive rice-growing areas, the International Rice Research Institute has warned.

Global warming: Lessons of history help the future

Experts pondering how to tackle the threat are delving into history, exploring how civilisations of the past, facing similar perils, either coped or were wiped out.

US academic Jared Diamond, author of "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed," says "ecocide" -- ecological suicide -- plays a greatly under-estimated role in the fall of societies.

Earth underwhelmed by environment pop extravaganza

U.S. and British media were generally underwhelmed on Sunday by Live Earth, the mega-concert organized by former U.S. vice president and green campaigner Al Gore, which, though built on the model of Live Aid and Live 8, created a less positive buzz.

A new guest post by HeIsSoFly has been published at TOD:Canada.

7-7-7: The Launch of Global Warming Inc.

Back to Live Earth. The key buzz word in all of it is raising "awareness". But awareness of what, exactly? That there is a problem in 2050, or that there is one today? Though many people brush it off, that is a crucial difference. If the problem is immediate, 2050 is pretty much a meaningless date. Raising awareness of a problem to take place in 43 years is useless, and even damaging, since it diverts attention from the real issue: today's problems. Besides, how big is the problem? Do we know? Is there some slight discomfort on the horizon, or will 500 million people die? Which of the two are the Live Earth crowds "aware" of the day after the party? Is just any awareness better than none at all? Even if it concerns false facts? The magician says: "Watch the hand". Is that reality enough when the lives of your children depend on it?

Check out this link to 'LiveEarth'


Good hack! :-)

Way Cool. Way Fly. Thanks.

Damn, I was waiting for a new one to post that 1st news item up top:


I figured it was too important to sit after 300 posts

This is them admitting peak oil right?

'The IEA predicted demand would rise by an average 2.2% a year between 2007 and 2012, up from previous estimates of 2%. It added that geo-political tensions and a lack of spare capacity in Opec production would also limit supplies....'

'...At the same time it predicted production from oil cartel Opec would fall, slipping by 2m bpd in 2009, while it also cut supply forecasts for non-Opec countries by 800,000 bpd.
It added that other factors including rising refinery costs, engineer shortages and strong demand in other energy markets would also put pressure on oil supplies.'

What the hell are limited supplies - PO???

Pond: What I thought was most interesting was their prediction of global biofuel at 1.75 Mbpd in 2012 (double current). At this measly level supposedly there are "economic" constraints. Score another one for the doomers.

Its a pity the full report is hidden behind the paywall for the next two weeks. I would like to pull apart some of these total numbers and see what they really say. The biofuels one effectively says "forget about it, even at best it won't count". Plus non-OPEC is declining. Plus much of OPEC is stationary. What was that phrase about eggs and baskets? Looks like Aramco is it for plans A, B, and C.

I also note that traders "are blaming IEA for scaremongering". IEA, who's motto is "always look on the bright side of life"? Someone has their fingers in their ears, humming "la la, I can't hear you". Expect a positive report from CERA very soon to capitalise on the unreality market.

Gentlemen, ladies, we are at T1, where demand and supply attempt to part company and something has to give. I'm betting on $100 this year.

How long do you figure before somebody asks Aramco to shit or get off the pot?

I believe several have been screaming that at the top of their lungs already. The reply - There's plenty of oil - more than enough - more will do nothing - everything's peachy -talk to us in September.

Its a pity the full report is hidden behind the paywall for the next two weeks.

Try here:


Many thanks for that.

Only a short way through so far, but its interesting how a document on oil is spending so much time saying there won't be enough gas by 2012. If they are hinting at peak oil, they are flat out saying peak gas.

Also interesting how rising biofuel feedstock prices make biofuel production uneconomic very rapidly. There is a correlation drawn between fuel prices and corn, etc. prices that kill biofuels as viable.

You are so going to lose that bet to Robert :P

It would have been unthinkable for the IEA to suggest something like this as little as a year ago. IIRC just last year they predicted something like 120 mbpd by 2030! The change of tone is indeed remarkable. How long before Daniel Yergin admits he's been totally wrong all along?

"Certainly our forecast suggests that the non-OPEC, conventional crude component of global production appears, for now, to have reached an effective plateau, rather than a peak," the report said.

That is pretty amazing language from the IEA.

Lower supply from non-OPEC countries and rising demand will boost the requirement for OPEC oil.

Pity oil reservoirs in OPEC countries have the same characteristics as those in the non-OPEC world. Lots of blame and excuses to come - the IEA is still a long way from mentioning peak OPEC production.

That is pretty amazing language from the IEA.

Yep. Prune it a little and you have IEA para-quoted as saying: "Conventional global crude oil production appears to have reached a plateau."

IEA calls the peak.

You know guys, I have not thanked you enough.
Sold my big house, relocated, got out of debt
all thanks to this site and the work being done here.

Thanks !

Pretty weird feeling, being given the opportunity to
watch the scenario unfolding this way,
A scenario that will change alot of the world we know.

This report from IEA let the cat out of the bag.

The IEA said demand for OPEC crude, or the call on OPEC, will rise to 34.7 million bpd in 2011, up 1.3 million bpd from the previous projection

despite IEA projections that

The forecast assumes no net expansion of capacity from Iran, Iraq and Venezuela and that the 500,000 bpd of Nigerian production that has been shut for a year will not reopen during the next five years

Apparently the IEA takes Saudi Aramco statements at face value.

As the IEA economist stated a few weeks ago in a French interview "I have no official reason to doubt Saudi claims".

But as our Ghawar series here recently showed, there is EVERY reason to doubt Saudi claims (plus Matthew Simmons "Twilight in the Desert").

Best Hopes for even more honesty from IEA in the future,


It will be interesting to see what brown dribble comes out of CERA's mouth in response. It is a shame really as Cambridge for me previously always had connotations of wisdom and knowlegede.


"The IEA said demand for OPEC crude, or the call on OPEC, will rise to 34.7 million bpd in 2011, up 1.3 million bpd from the previous projection"

This is actually a meaningless statement because it does not specify at what price! ... we all know that as the price changes so does the demand.

Also, demand can't be more than the maximum (at any price) supply and they don't know what that will be!

Why would anybody ever take any notice of what the IEA says?


This is actually a meaningless statement because it does not specify at what price! ... we all know that as the price changes so does the demand.

Excellent point. There is clearly a price-demand curve. Quoting the value on the demand axis without mentioning the price that corresponds to this demand has no sense.

I think the reason is for this mistake is that people still think in terms of how it used to be where OPEC could insure that price of oil was artificially low and fairly stable. That was achievable when demand was way less then possible supply. Not so anymore. Now there are real market forces that price oil, not some cartel.

OPEC political shortages?

OPEC crude supply was little changed according to this document:


Q1 2007 OPEC production was about 1.1 million barrels per day below 2005 production averages.

Q1 2007 OPEC production was about 760,000 barrels per day below 2006 production averages.

OPEC needed to restrict its production to try to preserve prices. They have been doing this for more than 20 years.

They were able to cut to as low as 16.4 million barrels of average oil production per day in 1985.

If someone in OPEC says the price of oil is going to be high, who is to dispute it? Was driving on an interstate and wondered why there were so many SUV's and minivans on the road. To read TOD one might think we are near the apex of peak production, depending on the day's Drumbeat articles. OPEC complained about excess inventories in the world. Look at the U.S. There were record high oil inventories. It seems some tanks must be full to the brim. What good would pumping more oil do? There is plenty of oil, not enough gasoline.

In 2006 one might have determined that Vietnam oil production had peaked. They have been drilling and finding fast flowing wells in various blocks. Now it seems they might peak later.

Malaysian Crude was some of the best crude in the world, yet they are in a production decline without indication of near-term reversal.

It is A TIMELY shift in the assumptions coming from IEA - and governments have to listen up and consume this message as of yesterday.
Where the IEA has been the last years on their assessments - don't ask me. But they have not understood the reality of max discovery took place way back in the 1960's - along side with lesser and lesser annual add-ons for the same the following years.
Their "into the night"-approach to the prospects for future productions, like 2030 = 130 mbd, is simply beyond my understanding and certainly does not add up mathematically or in other ways, apart from wishful thinking …

Best hopes for the idea of reality-checking from now on …

(Borrowed from AlanfrombigEasy …. I like those “Best hopes …”)

I believe the true situation has shifted so massively, it was, move this far in this direction, or totally lose any glimmer of credibility going forward.

Hello Cid Yama,

Good point. It would have been fun to be a fly on the wall inside the IEA listening to the raging debate between those further advocating for more rosy press releases versus those advocating more dire and truthful press releases. I bet some of the staff now purposely eats on the opposite side of the IEA cafeteria: as they nurse their wounded egos from the earlier internecine tribal warfare.

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

Still something to feel rosy about: At least they aren't eating EACH OTHER at the IEA cafeteria yet!


Actually, they said pretty much the same thing 8 months ago.

The world is on a course that will lead it "from crisis to crisis" unless governments act immediately to save energy and invest in nuclear and biofuels, the International Energy Agency warned yesterday.

In an apocalyptic forecast, Claude Mandil, the agency's executive director, said that our current path "may mean skyrocketing prices or more frequent blackouts; can mean more supply disruptions, more meteorological catastrophes - or all these at the same time".

The IEA said the oilfields on which Europe and the US had come to depend to reduce their reliance on the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries would peak in the next five to seven years.

This is from the Financial Times: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/287c30ba-6ecf-11db-b5c4-0000779e2340,Authorised=...

Thanks to Migeru for the pointer!

So "demand" will rise by 2.2% per year for the next 4 years, while ace has made projections that world total liquids will hardly rise by more than a few percentage points in that time before beginning a terminal descent. So we can look forward to a gap between supply and "demand" (is that demand for $30 oil, $75$ or $200?) of around 10%. Work in westexas's ELP model and ... very interesting!

Interesting as well to see that another denialist organisation is "owning up" to PO, albeit in a roundabout sort of way.

Doc: Their ambiguous "demand" definition appears to be demand at today's ($75) price. So what they are really saying in English is that they are currently forecasting major increases in the price of oil over the next 5 years.


What IEA is calling seems to me to be what Robert Rapier calls "Peak Lite," where the demand curve moves more than the supply curve, thus raising prices and limiting both quantity supplied and quantity demanded (which, of course, are always identically equal, by definition).

Now the next question would seem to be:

By how much will prices increase over the next few years?

I am not going to stick my neck out on this one, because there are too many unknowables, especially what will be the macroeconomic state of the global economy--recession, financial collapse, depression, stability, runaway inflation, garden-variety stagflation, slow growth, . . . . ?


The vast majority of Americans expect nothing worse than a mild recession in the next 5 years. Given that constraint, what price will be needed to make quantity demanded = quantity supplied using price alone in 2012 ?

I have my thoughts, but would like to see yours.

PS: This is why I cannot see BAU causing "only" a mild recession.


Alan: Another thing to keep in mind is that if current trends continue, China's economy (PPP) will be larger than that of the USA by 2012.

I shall yield to somebody who knows far more about oil than I do: Matt Simmons. He talks in terms of oil at $200 per barrel in the near future, and I think he knows what he is talking about.

In my WAG opinion, we shall have mild recession, maybe a rebound, severe recession, stagflation, worsening inflation and then horrendous inflation.

Interesting times by 2012. Very interesting times by 2020.

Could be really interesting. I caught a History Channel show this weekend and it seem the Mayan calendar and the i-ching both come to an abrupt end in 2012. Is someone trying to tell us something?

Mose in Midland

The bit about the I Ching appears to be some stupid numerology (see http://survive2012.com/why_2012_fractal.php). The observation about the Mayan calendar has my New Age and Pagan friends all a-twitter, but to me it looks like just another example of H. Sap's ability/need to see patterns in everything.

2012 could turn out to be massively significant, but I doubt it will be The End Of Time or anything woowoo like that. These kinds of pronouncements say a lot more about human nature than Mother Nature.

2012 is an election year in the U.S.; 2020 is another one. My picking of these dates for attention is mainly because they are election years.

The good news is that in my opinion, TSHTF is not this year or next year nor even the year after. The bad news is that Peak Oil is not a "theory," it is an inevitability--and one not far in the future. The sheer economic and social and human pain that will result from Peak Oil puts it into the Great Depression or Black Plague or "fall" of the Western Roman Empire category.

The only qualification I'll add at this time is that it is conceptually possible for there to be several nearly simultaneous technological advances ("breakthroughs") that would mitigate the consequences of Peak Oil. Not likely, but not totally impossible.

I am not now and never have been a Doomer. But hard times coming . . . you can bank on it.

Any technological breakthrough likely to mitigate PO would have to have been made yesterday for there to be any chance of it being commercialised sufficiently to make an impact on the ~800 million oil-dependent vehicles already out there around the world.
Actually, wait, we already made those breakthoughs...PHEVs, EVs, various alternate energy sources etc. etc. EVs were commercialized in 1996 for heaven's sake, and how many are on the road now?

I think we've had this discussion before, but I suspect that $5/gallon is a "magic number" where we start to see some serious and widespread changes in motoring behavior. We are hearing a few isolated stories about shorter vacation trips and combining errands now; once we cross the $5 threshold, such stories will become widespread, along with lots of talk (and some action) about car pooling. At $5/gallon, I expect to start seeing inventory buildup of SUVs and other gas guzzlers, discounting of resale prices for the same, and price premiums and waiting lists for the fuel efficient cars.

A second magic number will be $10/gallon. Buzz starts to shift into something approaching national panic mode at that point. At $10/gallon, you start to see significant numbers of people leaving or changing jobs due to commuting costs and lots of other visible social and economic dislocations.

The economy can probably handle up to $5/gal almost as well as it has apparently handled $3/gal. I can't see $10+/gal doing any LESS economic damage than the price increases did in the mid 1970s. I furthermore expect the impact on demand to be at least somewhat similar to the pattern experienced in the 1970s. This will not keep oil (and eventually all energy) prices from increasing, but will slow the rate of increase down a good deal.

WNC: Here in Toronto at a current price of $3.80 US/gal there is zero change in behaviour and zero discussion of the topic. I think people will be surprised at how little consumption changes at $5.00/gal.

Yeah, as others have stated, Europe is already paying more than that, and in NZ we are at around US$5/gal (NZ$ 1.55/litre). There is a mild trend towards buying cars with smaller engines here, but little has changed in driving habits from what I can tell... we have a poor public transport system here which probably accounts for some of that, but I imagine much of the US is in the same boat.

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

The effect of US$5 & $10/gal is largely psychological rather than economic, and thus does not translate to other currency areas. They each have their own magic numbers, I'm sure.

Agreed, but those psychological boundaries are soon forgotten. When petrol hit $1 here a few years back there was a public outcry... that lasted a few months at most, and driving habits changed little if at all... it will be the same for any magic number. It'll cause a stir to begin with but that'll fade... hopefully during the next stir the PO message can be disseminated more widely.

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

This is the largest cause of problems i see with p.o - rich countries have enough spare money around that the price elasticity is practically 0, which means in a situation of decreasing supply prices goes effectively to infinity, which in practice means that the price goes up until someone else (like Africa) drops out of the market, with the end result that transportation, food, and power become much more (relatively) expensive in poorer countries, which by this stage can not afford to out- bid America on any significant amount of oil. I hope it doesn't take starvation in large parts of the rest of the would to wake America up.
edit: (sorry for the large block of text)

What I think your missing is that the traditional suburban economy is simply not viable in the face of expensive energy.

The very act of reducing consumption reduces economic growth and jobs which sends the economy into recession. We effectively cannot conserve and move increasing amounts of capitol into energy. This is money that won't be spend at a strip mall which means some manager won't have a job and won't buy a bigger SUV. The price of gasoline for transport alone is a very small part of the overall economic effect of higher gasoline prices. The only reason we haven't crashed yet is the fiat currencies are still accepted and being pumped to the point of hyper inflation. This game cannot last.

You need to consider the overall impact of high oil prices not just on personal transport but on the price of goods and services and more important the ability to sustain economic growth since we we don't grow we are toast.

Memmel: Re hyper inflation, remember that as gasoline prices rise, consumers will have less money to spend on everything else. The result? Less upward price pressure on everything else which means a lowered CORE rate of inflation. You could have energy,health insurance, property taxes increasing like crazy with the MSM and the Fed telling you that there is zero price inflation (because only the CORE is relevant-LOL).

I forgot to mention those irrelevant (to the CORE) food prices.

Well first I don't give a rip about core inflation. The problem is your looking at price inflation in commodities as a simple result of increased transport and production costs Thus more money is being poured into basic living costs. Food/Energy/Housing. Decreasing prices for discretionary goods and services simply cause unemployment since so much of our economy is now based on these discretionary goods and services. So its a net loss even though prices are decreasing not to mention these goods have the same pressure from increased transport costs so profit margins effectively evaporate. Its a variant of WT exportland model.

The latte economy is very fragile in the face of increasing commodity prices.

The intrinsic problem is far to many people are now employed in the service/luxury item parts of our economy so once this start contracting job losses here will lead to lower consumption of these items leading to more job losses. The commodity/core manufacturing parts of the economy which are fairly inelastic in the face of rising energy costs no longer play the role they once did.

Its well known that areas that depend on vacation money are hard hit during and economic down turn well today most of the American economy can be considered a vacation driven economy.

So a recession is unavoidable monetary inflation cannot hide increasing energy costs forever and massive deflation in discretionary goods and services is almost certain.

Its better to think in terms of Wealth not inflation deflation what your looking at as far as I can tell is a massive loss of real wealth as consumers focus on basic needs. I see no way that the commodity or basic economy can grow to employ the number of people who will become unemployed in the discretionary economy. The fact that luxury items are dropping in price is not really that important if the pool of buyers is dropping even faster.

So the real problem is your losing consumer purchasing power because of job losses stagnant wages and increasing commodities prices far faster than you can use monetary inflation to keep the economy going. The combination of monetary inflation real commodity price increases and decreasing prices for luxury items is a very nasty scenario.
The net result is the American consumer is for all intents and purposes bankrupt and this is true right now.

By any economic measure the US no longer has any money its amazing that we are able to use monetary inflation to keep the party going right now I just can't see this lasting.
Debt defaults which force and accounting now instead of many years in the future will eventually halt the ability of inflation via creation of debt to drive the economy. In effect money will disappear as fast as the central banks try to pump it in.

The American economy as far as I can tell is not capable of ELP as its now configured. If you want to start moving our economy to one that works with high energy costs and slow or effectively no traditional growth the first order of business is to slow it way down instead we seem to be doing the opposite and using increasingly desperate measures to keep growth going.

I have always assumed that the goal of the new global economy was to create a larger pool of consumers and specialization of various regions in certain aspects of the global economy. This vision is not the right answer post peak. In short although I'd like to see a nice slow recession I'm not sure that we can change economic policy fast enough to keep our world economy from effectively running into a wall as whole groups of consumers fail to continue to simply be able to consume. We should have been cooling the worlds economy slowly over the last several years not pumping it.

Mike, you said:

The American economy as far as I can tell is not capable of ELP as its now configured. If you want to start moving our economy to one that works with high energy costs and slow or effectively no traditional growth the first order of business is to slow it way down instead we seem to be doing the opposite and using increasingly desperate measures to keep growth going.

I pretty much agree but I don't think you go nearly far enough. A sea change is needed in our societal, governance and economic paradigms. I simply cannot see that happening. I tried to address that in my post below regarding post-peak euducation.



I'm convinced that such a sea change can only occur after we go through the bottleneck. The existing socioeconomic structures need to be forcibly stripped away, and only a bottleneck has the power to do that. Our genetics guarantees that we will not change our civilization's value set voluntarily.

Fortunately a bottleneck is coming. The fact that we will not change our ways voluntarily virtually guarantees it. The question for me has become, "How do we ensure that the seeds are in place for a value set that will survive through and bloom after the bottleneck, a value set that will ensure that the next cycle of civilization has a chance at sustainability even in a badly damaged, resource-poor world?"

I've become convinced over the last couple of months that the seeds have already been planted. They are even resilient enough to make it through, and carry the correct values.

The seeds are the one to two million small, local, independent environmental and social justice groups spread through every nation on earth. They have been called into existence by the world's dis-ease, and do two things: they work to fix local problems now, and they act as carriers for the values of cooperation, nurturing, recognition of interdependence, acceptance of limits, universal justice and the respect for other life. Those are precisely the values that a civilization will need to achieve stability and sustainability.

These groups make up the largest (though unrecognized) social movement the world has ever seen. The fact that the movement is so distributed and localized means that it can survive a bottleneck. At the risk of sounding sentimental, I call the antibodies in Gaia's bloodstream.

I am convinced we will not save this civilization, but I'm equally convinced that we have a shot at a much better one in a couple of hundred years. Getting from here to there is going to be a cast-iron, gold-plated bitch, though.

I was in agreement up to the last paragraph. What point would you use to define the "end" of this civilisation?
Are you talking about physical infrastructure being destroyed (there's a helluva lot of it!)? Governments and nation-states dismantled?
I certainly envision that in 50-60 years time very few, if any, of today's large corporations will still be in existence - or at least, they will have splintered and morphed beyond recognition: this strikes me as the most important change that needs to occur. Even today's major political parties may well not survive, or again, will morph beyond recognition. What will happen to our central banking systems will also be critical, but is anyone's guess.
I would hope that at least our existing structures of democracy were preserved: without them, there is little reason for hope.

As far as when we get a shot at a much better one, a couple of hundred years seems a little pessimistic.
I'm planning on being here to see 2050 tick over (which doesn't require me living any longer than the current average life expectancy), and by then I would hope to be able to see the genuine start of an emerging "better" world - indeed I would very much hope that I have a chance at helping create it.

My definition of "the end" is pretty bleak. I wouldn't be surprised by a dieoff to about 1 billion people over the next 100 years or less. The disruption that would entail would be catastrophic, not just for nation-states but for any and all large-scale social, economic and physical structures. By 2050 this process will just be getting under way, and the decline will probably take 50 years more to arrest.

My vision of the medium-term future (50 to 100 years) involves a large-scale version of John Michael Greer's "Catabolic Collapse" in which most social and physical capital is converted to waste. I don't worry about envisioning short-term effects at less than 50 years, because they will be so chaotic and will differ enormously from place to place. I think after 100 years, though, a general equilibrium can be imagined with a fully pruned humanity living in small semi-autonomous towns and villages with most people working in agriculture and scavenging the remains of this civilization.

The reason I think a situation like that will develop is that is the most resilient form of human society. It's also one which our historical experience has shown we can survive and thrive in, even with very low levels of technology and in highly inhospitable physical environments.

Over a 100 year span with events like that I think it's unlikely that we will be able to maintain the technology needed to support sophisticated energy systems. Shocks of various kinds will send inevitably send failure cascades through our fundamentally brittle civilization. Such effects seem as inevitable to me as our eventual exhaustion of oil, extinction of many marine and land species, continued atmospheric pollution with CO2 and the depletion of soil and ground water. We live on a sphere, and are genetically wired as a species to be insatiably rapacious and over-productive in the presence of usable resources.

What may change our collective behaviour is the stripping away of the social structures that support and encourage our rapaciousness, and the depletion of the world's resources to the point where it would be obvious to even GWB that we need to be mindful of our actions. If we get those two opportunities and seize that moment, then with the help of the values preserved by the seed groups I mentioned before we may be able to stabilize things and rebuild something worthy of being called a civilization in another hundred years.

In order to maximize the chances of that happening we need to do two things right now. The first is to encourage the formation of as many of those small "antibody groups" as possible. The second is to undertake widely distributed knowledge retention programs. We will do lots of other things, of course, but my sense of the probable future makes those two activities crucial for human survival and rebirth.

By focusing on the events of the next 40 or 50 years, we fall victim to our hyperbolic discount function - our tendency to focus on the near at the expense of the far. In so doing we risk spending all our time worrying about the trees we are cutting and completely missing the deforestation (if I can be permitted a mangled metaphor).

While I wouldn't rule out such a "bleak" possibility completely, it strikes me as highly unlikely - the current population demographics virtually guarantee that from here to 2050 at least another 2 billion humans will be come into being, even in the face of significant food shortages.
So unless almost everyone alive today is dead by 2050, the population is going to surpass 8 billion at some point. To get from 8 billion to 1 billion in 50 years basically requires planetary annihilation, WW-III style.
I'm not going to bother predicting what I think might happen after 2050, as I won't be here to see it. But I have a 2-year old son, and I'm determined that by the time I die, I have reason to believe that his future won't be unremittingly bleak and hopeless.

I question your arithmetic.

Most emphatically, I am not a doomer. On the other hand, I do not think it is likely that the population of the world will reach eight billion in this century. Why?

1. Roughly half of the world's population is "young" and immature people do not consume as many calories as do adults. Thus as the world's population tends to age, the demand for food will rise.

2. In a fossil-fuel constrained world, it is exceedingly difficult (not technically impossible, but nearly so) to get substantial increases in food production.

3. Poor people in the world today are undernourished and malnourished in very large numbers--billions, though how many billions depends on whose data you use and how you interpret the data. Let me emphasize again, most of the undernourished in the world are children, and children tend to grow into very hungry teenagers.

4. The Green Revolution has pooped out. Based on cheap fossil fuels and hence cheap irrigation water plus cheap pesticides plus cheap fertilizer, the green revolution is turning brown. cf. Ireland, c. 1840.

5. There is no substitute for food.

6. The probability of a huge redistribution of income from well-fed countries to starving ones is approximately nil.

7. Thus death rates due to undernutrition and malnutrition are likely to increase from current levels, at first slowly, then more quickly, as the world's population tends to age.

8. I do not know what will be the world's population maximum. We could be there now, but I doubt it. More likely we'll see global population increase to about seven billion, stabilize due to increasing death rates, then decline.

Recall that Ireland went from eight million to four million people over a period of not too many years. Similarly, the world could go from about seven or eight billion to four billion in a matter of years. (One big difference: Many Irish went to Australia or the U.S. Now there is no place to go, no escape from chronic starvation.)

Most population biologists think the maximum population (optimists) at 2 billion, with others saying 400 million on the low end----
No one who understands The Second Law sees anything over 2 billion living on real time energy supplies---
And with collapsing Eco and Social systems, the lower end may be more realistic--
I'm about 60-- I will probably see the unraveling

The numbers I found suggest that at most 12% of the population died in the worst 3 years of the potato famine.

I'm not convinced that you could sensibly scale up the situation in a single country over a short period to a global, extended die-off, but let's allow 10% every 3 years:

2050 8 billion
2053 7.2 billion
2056 6.4 billion
2080 2.8 billion
2100 ~1.3 billion

But that's assuming there are no births in that period.
Realistically in that period, from an initial pop. of 8 billion over 50 years, you could expect minimum 4 billion births (that's at a fertility rate way lower than anything we've ever had in human histor). Even if half of those births don't survive till 2100, we'd be close to 4 billion total by 2100.

I'll go back and fine tune my population simulation tool when I get a chance (or maybe find a better one that someone else has already written), but at this point it's pretty hard to see how human population could be much less than 4 billion by the end of the cenutry, barring a truly terrifying and unprecented increase in death rates.

Note that if there was no change in current birth and and death rates for the next 50 years, global pop. would top 10 billion by 2050. I agree that's not likely, but to get that down to even 8 billion requires a significant change in one or the other (or both) - and birth rates tend not to change very rapidly.

Wiz, you are doing arithmetic. So many deaths verses so many births at what percent per year, etc. etc. That is foolish. It has nothing to do with such arithmetic. It has everything to do with food supply.

If we are indeed at peak oil, then it is even unlikely that the population will ever reach 7.5 billion, perhaps not even 7 billion. And the population of the earth will decline in proportion to the decline in fossli fuels with oil playing a far more important factor than other fossil fuels.

Operative mechanisms in the collapse of the human population will be starvation, social strife, and disease. These major disasters were recognized long before Malthus and have been represented in western culture as horsemen of the apocalypse. 8 They are all consequences of scarce resources and dense population.

Starvation will be a direct outcome of the depletion of energy resources. Today's dense population is dependent for its food supply on mechanized agriculture and efficient transportation. Energy is used to manufacture and operate farm equipment, and energy is used to take food to market. As less efficient energy resources come to be used, food will grow more expensive and the circle of privileged consumers to whom an adequate supply is available will continue to shrink.

Ron Patterson

I'm well aware of what the arguments are, but I'm not convinced. We already produce way more food than is necessary to survive and reproduce, and while fossil fuels are important for producing food, I'm estimating that less than 5% of gas/oil usage is currently devoted to that purpose*, so even if gas/oil availability dropped by 80%, there would still be plenty to produce the food we do today (of course, that requires sufficient land and other nutrients, which I see as more of a problem, but let's focus on fossil fuels).

On the demographics front, look at it this way: there are currently ~1.3 billion women on the planet at prime fertility age (15-40).

Given current fertility rates, in the next 10 years, those women can be expected to give birth to at least 1 surviving child each, so in 10 years time there will at least 1.3 billion new children. But globally, maybe 500 million of us are near or past average life expectancy (65+), but let's allow for 600 million dying, including all premature deaths. So in 10 years time the population can expected to have grown by at least .7 billion more of us. After those 10 years, there will actually be slightly MORE women of prime child-bearing age, so in the 10 years after that, another 1.5 billion children could be expected, and, allowing for serious famine etc. to set in, let's say 1 billion die - that's .5 billion more.
In the 13 years after that (2037-2050), the age-sex pyramid will still be much the same, if not even more weighted towards prime fertility age, so even if 1.2 billion of us die off in that time, there will be another ~1.5B births, for a net increase of .3 billion.
Well .7 + .5 + .3 = 1.5 billion more of us = 8 billion by 2050, even with massive increases in death rates between now and then.
In fact I would be surprised if 2050 was the peak - somewhere closer to 2060 seems more likely.

* Can't find any direct figures for this. It needs to include:
- oil/gas for pesticides/fertilisers
- oil/gas for farm machinery
- oil/gas for food transport

It may be as high as 10% of all oil/gas usage. But in all cases there are alternatives, and mostly alternatives that can be introduced reasonably simply (unlike the alternatives for private motor vehicles).

I'm well aware of what the arguments are, but I'm not convinced. We already produce way more food than is necessary to survive and reproduce, and while fossil fuels are important for producing food, I'm estimating that less than 5% of gas/oil usage is currently devoted to that purpose*, so even if gas/oil availability dropped by 80%, there would still be plenty to produce the food we do today (of course, that requires sufficient land and other nutrients, which I see as more of a problem, but let's focus on fossil fuels).

People starved during the Great Depression in the US. Its not as if the US lacked the means to produce the food.
There are stories of farmers plowing under crops, or dumping them when they couldn't sell them on the market. At the same time they had to post guards to make sure hungry poor people didn't help themselves to what was otherwise waste.

When systems break down they are unable to utilize resources that they could before. Zimbabwe still has the means to feed many/most of its people. But the system has broken down and now once fertile fields are wasting away.

And yet the Great Depression made not a dint in world population. In fact, it barely lowered the birthrate by 10%. The death-rate dropped more, and life expectancy rose during the whole of the 1930's.

You missed my point. My point was that people can starve even when there exist the resources to feed them. It will be the breakdown in the system that will be more important than the absolute loss of resources.

Also the great depression is not analogous to a post peak crash. The US had unimaginable resources to draw on. It also only lasted a few short years and there was no collapse of the government.

Imagine a new greater depression where resources are depleted, it never ends and government becomes ineffective at best. In that situation the remaining system will be able to utilize only a small fraction of a shrinking resource pie.

And you missed mine - I've never doubted that there will be significantly levels of starvation (of course, that's nothing new). But it won't be close to enough to make the impact on world population that some here seem to believe is inevitable.

Note that Zimbabwe's population is still growing, despite the conditions there. In fact, I'm not aware of any specific instances (other than the Irish Potato Famine) of a country suffering extended population decline through starvation alone. Disease and mass murder (genocide) are the most common "negative" reasons, but in fact most of the world's nations today experiencing negative population growth are simply feeling the effects of low birth rates.
For whatever reason, starvation is a surprisingly ineffective way of reducing populations among modern human societies.

What about the great leap forward when 40 million died in three years? Or the recent famine in N Korea?

But I do agree with you, it won't be starvation alone. It'll be starvation, wars, epidemics, poor medical care, alcoholism, genocide, infanticide etc.

Its not surprising that you can't find historical proof of a major die off. What people are afraid of is that the post peak crash will be unprecedented. Just like the rise of industrialized civilization on the back of cheap hydrocarbons is a one time event, so will be the resulting crash when those supplies run out. (run out isn't the right term but I fear a crash in the system will cause much of the currently recoverable oil to become unrecoverable).

I don't believe that in either of those cases (Great Leap Forward/N Korea) there was a significant overall population decline - although there are no available stats for North Korea.

The post peak "crash" will be unprecedented - just as WW I and the Great Depression were unprecedented events.
But while cheap hydrocarbons may be fundamental to way we got to position we are in today, that's not the same as saying that losing them leaves us completely stranded, or that they are essential to us continuing to survive in some manner or another. It's trivial to demonstrate that we can technically survive without them, so obviously the problem is largely political and social.
What makes you think the political and social problems that prevent us from adopting the necessary technical solutions will survive a severe global recession?

I don't believe that in either of those cases (Great Leap Forward/N Korea) there was a significant overall population decline - although there are no available stats of North Korea.

That may be. But they were also very short events. It would have only taken a few more years at that death rate for an overall population decline to manifest itself.

But while cheap hydrocarbons may be fundamental to way we got to position we are in today, that's not the same as saying that losing them leaves us completely stranded, or that they are essential to us continuing to survive in some manner or another. It's trivial to demonstrate that we can technically survive without them, so obviously the problem is largely political and social.

I wouldn't call it trivial. But I concede it may be technically feasible.

What makes you think the political and social problems that prevent us from adopting the necessary technical solutions will survive a severe global recession?

Because you can't convince people to consume at less than their maximum rate. And all technical solutions demand that.
Because the technical solutions are just barely adequate to prevent collapse (*if* you overcome the social problems). It would only take a small shortcoming to collapse the whole system. Once a collapse starts it will be unrecoverable. As more and more once recoverable resources slip away the collapse will accelerate and even more resources will be lost. Its a vicious feedback loop.

What if Bush pulls out of Iraq this year? Then all out civil war erupts. Iran and SA are pulled into the conflict. Suddenly 20mbd are pulled from the market (perhaps permanently). Do you think we could develop renewable resources quickly enough in that environment?

"Once a collapse starts it will be unrecoverable"

I'm afraid the onus is on you to back that statement up.
History would suggest otherwise.
A collapse will SLOW the rate at which resources are lost, I'm not sure why you would think otherwise? Unless you're suggesting that we will lose the technology necessary to extract what we currently can. Which is possible of course, but given the stake we have in it, it seems highly unlikely.

A collapse (war, famine, inflation, depression, epidemic) will drive up the price of oil extraction regardless of demand. That's right, demand will drop but prices will rise. The system will be all a kilter. Resources will be abandoned and once abandoned they will become unrecoverable (see the stripper wells in the 80's as an example although they were abandoned for different reasons). This loss of resources will make recovery impossible (in the long run, short term stability is still a possibility). How can you grow the economy without growing energy usage? With severe economic disruption, war, famine etc renewables will be undevelopable . Rinse and repeat.

How could demand drop and prices rise? Imagine a war severely disrupting oil production (but could be any symptom of a collapse). It becomes very expensive to produce oil in such an environment. Oil prices rise. People lose their jobs. Jobless (and soon to be homeless) people don't need oil. But demand isn't fueling oil prices anymore. Its the cost of doing business in a war zone that does. But since demand is dropping you don't need to produce marginal oil fields anymore. They are abandoned and the resources lost.

Perhaps things stabilize for a while. The war ends for example. But before too long it'll happen again because resources were lost the last time around the economy can't fully recover. Periods of collapse interrupted by periods of stability all the way into the gorge.

Think Nigeria. The oil majors have pulled out of the troubled delta region perhaps permanently. For all intents and purposes those oil resources are lost. The majors will never be able to go back in there. That's what the IEA is assuming anyway.

I've already posted examples in the past of economies that have grown while deflating their energy usage (e.g. Washington state). There is no necessary link between energy usage and economic growth - yes, the two have tended to go hand in hand, but that's because an excess of cheap energy has discouraged us from trying to extract more useful work from the same (or less) amount of energy.

Development of renewable energy infrastructure has already started, and we know exactly what's necessary to continue it. Yes, if badly managed, economic collapse may mean that particular nations have serious trouble replacing their existing energy supplies, but to suggest it will necessarily occur on a global scale seems unjustifiable.

Rethin, it appears that nothing will shake you from your pessimistic view of the future...maybe its an artifact of where you live, your age, or whatever, but I feel I've done what I can to explain why I find such a level of pessimism largely unhelpful and unwarranted. However you do provide a sensible counterbalance to uncautious optimism or apathetic unconcern about our future, which are perhaps far more dangerous attitudes.

I've already seen examples in the past of economies that have grown while offshoring their energy usage (e.g. Washington state). There is a link between energy usage and economic growth - yes, the two have tended to go hand in hand, because an excess of cheap energy has discouraged us from trying to extract more useful work from the same (or less) amount of energy.

Development of renewable energy infrastructure has barely started, and we know exactly what's necessary to continue it, namely fossil fuels. Yes, if superbly managed, despite economic collapse particular nations might possibly replace their existing energy supplies, but to suggest it will necessarily occur on a global scale seems unjustifiable.

Wizofaus, it appears that nothing will shake you from your optomistic view of the future...maybe its an artifact of where you live, your age, or whatever, but I feel I've done what I can to explain why I find such a level of optimism largely unhelpful and unwarranted. However you do provide a sensible counterbalance to uncautious pessimism or apathetic unconcern about our future, which are perhaps far more dangerous attitudes.

But I did enjoy the discussion. And I apologize for the ad hominum in yesterdays thread.

I knew you were going to do that.

But what on earth is "uncautious pessimism"?

I knew you were going to do that.

Yeah, how could I not?

But what on earth is "uncautious pessimism"?

You can be too pessimistic about the future. You can plan on the worst possible outcome and if it doesn't happen be in worse shape than if you did nothing at all.
What good is a fallout shelter and 6 tons of canned tuna going to do you when the Cold War ends? Better off having put that money in the market and building a patio.

After all, in the end isn't peak oil just survivalism for liberals?

Sounds like overcautious pessimism to me.
Uncautious pessimism is almost tautological.

Why don't we keep this thread going and see if we can get it down to a single character width? That would be cool!


Ok, the thread hasn't mentioned how the wildlife was made scarce during the great depression.

Think that won't happen? Look at River and his 'I gotta gill net and I'll use it' post as an example of the planning of man to strip the land.

Is this PEAK-Slimness ?

does it get thinner than this ??



Wizofaus, it appears that nothing will shake you from your optomistic view of the future...

Yes it's pointless to argue with a Singularitarian!
I won't repeat my comment from another thread.

The green revolution is a change in cultural practices-fertilization, variety yield selection, herbicides, pesticides and water, and not really comparable to the Irish famine of the late 1840's. The latter was simply the elimination of an introduced food by disease-and extremely rapid at that.

One glaring similarity with today was that in both instances, human population had recently skyrocketed with additional food. Ireland ballooned from 3 to 8 million in the century preceding, mainly on the new food of the potato. Everyone could finally grow enough food for themselves and a large family, not encumbered by grain prices. The modern spike in population is well addressed in this thread.

The resulting Irish famine was so swift and complete due to the blight of Phytophora infesttans itself-within a year destroying a land's stored tubers and those growing. Certainly one can add the ambivalence of others, whether in England, Ireland or Europe. Ireland lost 1 million in 3 years to starvation, 4 million in the coming decade to immigration and starvation.

In our own post peak and population troubles, I don't see starvation as the major killer. I think as infrastructure and transportation decline,we'll see massive disease outbreaks to which we can't timely respond to as the leveler of human population.

>While I wouldn't rule out such a "bleak" possibility completely, it strikes me as highly unlikely - the current population demographics virtually guarantee that from here to 2050 at least another 2 billion humans will be come into being, even in the face of significant food shortages. The

This is very unlikely that the population will continue to grow. So much of food production and potable water depends on abundant low cost energy. Already countries like India, the US, and Australia are facing huge water shortages. Most of the water supplied to industrialize nations comes from aquifers and other ground water sources that are dependant on electricity and natural gas for pumping (and are also being rapidly depleted for agraculture).

Current demographics were fueled by abundant energy resource. One only needs to plot the production of oil and gas with the global population to see a strong link. As energy depletion kicks in, population growth will come to a scretching halt.

>To get from 8 billion to 1 billion in 50 years basically requires planetary annihilation, WW-III style.

Its highly likely that disease will be the primary killer in the future. As energy resource deplete, mal-nutrietion, declining access to clean water, less affordable medical care, and failing sewage management will bring back diseases of past eras. Our huge populations will only amplify their distrutive nature. In the past, disease has always outpaced war in death.

Even if declining energy was not a factor, our chances of a global pandemic are on the rise. We are running into medical roadblocks as diseases that were easily treated in the 20th Century are now evolving into drug resistant strains that are practially untreatable. Just a couple of years ago, Asia had a near pandemic with SARS (which managed to reach north America). There is also the possibly that the Bird flu could mutate into a human contagious virus which would trigger a global pandemic. Soon or later we'll be hit with a global pandemic.

>I'm not going to bother predicting what I think might happen after 2050, as I won't be here to see it.

If I have a nickel ever time I heard this statement... The majority always believe "not in my lifetime". It very obvious why the majority feel that way.

Just a nit-pik. You are right that disease will probably be the major killer in the future, but "affordable medical care" is virtually irrelevant when you are talking about large population numbers. Food, water, sanitiation (sewerage/water for cleaning)/shelter are the primary factors. When sewerage systems were completed in large cities throughout Europe and the Western World in the late 1800s/early 1900s death rates plummeted and average ages soared. The flu of 1918-1919 is the worst case of mortality from a pandemic disease in the history books. It wiped out 1-2% (20-40 million) of the world population at a time when populations were stretched for resources at the close of World War I. Medicine wouldn't (and didn't) change that... living conditions would.

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

wizofaus, for all your sensibility you remain (apparently?) completely ignorant of one inescapable context that GliderGuider gets, which is our absolute relationship to this earth and its bio-spheric and ecologic health.

And the facts are that all the prime indicators of earthly bio/ecologic health are in jeopardy and there is not any energetic or technological fix for them:

  • Species pushed to extinction is forever, and by some acounts we are looking at a substantial loss of the known species; just how substantial we won't really know until they're gone and take with them some other unforeseen connection of biodiversity
  • Ancient aquifers depleted (and/or burdened with pollutants) are for all practical intents irreplaceable
  • Rainforests ruined by whatever mechanisms will not readily reappear
  • The oceans and much life forms in them are stressed to the brink of collapse
  • Our arable soils are vastly depleted or otherwise under duress, while desertification spreads largely unabated
  • Climate change is altering weather patterns and will not be kind to agricultural routines 6.6 billion (and any more future) humans have grown dependent upon or are depending upon in the future
  • Thousands upon thousands of modern toxins have accumulated worldwide in the biosphere, many of them not easily degradable, negatively affecting life everywhere (including our genetics)

This is just an outline, by no means complete, of the damage our over-populated globalized civilization has done to the physical world we depend upon. The utter disregard that some give to this bleak picture and its implications for civilization, no matter what happens energy-wise, is astounding. But I see it here everyday.

Our pretense of control over creation is a lie, and no energy policy (or economic, political, or social, etc.) that disregards the interconnected ecological basis of life will ever succeed in overcoming this fundamental and inescapable earth based reality.

Anyone who thinks this creation loss bottleneck too will go smoothly is living in another world -- one that isn't here. Good luck with that.

I don't disagree with anything you state above - I just disagree the extent to which it's likely to result in collapse/die-off.

We are slowly beginning to learn the consequences of our actions, and taking baby steps to make amends. Indeed, the list of improvements that have been made to the environment over the last 50 years reads almost as impressively as the list of problems we still face.

I have never claimed that this century will go smoothly. I expect the next 50 years, starting some point in the next decade could well be at least as rough as the start of the C20th, with its world wars, global economic depression, epidemics and massive droughts. And yes, it could well be worse. Only two results would truly surprise me:

1) uninterrupted continuation of the economic growth of the last 30-40 years, with world population growing to over 9 billion by 2050.
2) total collapse of civilisation as we know it, and accompanying massive die-off (i.e. world population somehow kept under 7 billion).

Of course if 2) occurs I mighn't survive to 2050 anyway.

From my personal perspective, living in Australia it's hard to see why we are likely to suffer food shortages in the next 50 years. We have oodles of natural gas and coal, and produce far more food than we need: nearly 80 percent of wheat, over 50 percent of barley and rice, over 40 percent of beef and grain legumes, over 30 percent of dairy products, and nearly 20 percent of fruit production is exported.
That's without even resorting to GM foods to deal with drier conditions etc. So even if food production capacity was cut by 50%, we'd still have enough to feed ourselves: and note that many of us are overweight, and we would clearly survive just fine on ~80% of the calories we consume now on average.
The water issue is well on the way to being addressed (more efficient/sensible irrigation, desal etc.), and so far has not significantly affected the availability of foods locally anyway. Even if water availability dropped massively, it would simply force us to transition from water-intensive foods like beef and rice to less thirsty types of food production.

On the other hand, availability of medicine and its affect on death rates may well become an issue - we import all antibiotics here, and were global trade to collapse, that will definitely dramatically affect our ability to survive bacterial infections. We also manufacture relatively little medical equipment locally, and again, stand to suffer from a lack of available imports. But hopefully the need to perform more physical labour (walking/cycling/etc.) and the decrease in food oversupply will counterbalance that to some extent, and we may well end up healthier as net result. Who knows.

There are definitely parts of the world I would not want to be living in over the next 50 years, but all things considered, I'm reasonably confident about our future here. Not that I would want to sit here and watch the world collapse around us...

We are slowly beginning to learn the consequences of our actions, and taking baby steps to make amends. Indeed, the list of improvements that have been made to the environment over the last 50 years reads almost as impressively as the list of problems we still face.

Please, do list these improvements. I'm skeptical of their impressiveness in comparison to the intractable ones awaiting fixing in this day and age of diminishing returns.

While listing major achievements in improving air/water quality, forestation levels etc. is trivial, I don't really have the time to find the relevant stats/figures, and I'm not convinced it would make any difference to you anyway. Unfortunately much environmental improvement literature is obvious right-wing propaganda (hello Heartland Institute) so googling for relevant/verifiable information is far more difficult than it would otherwise be. In fact if I can find the time I'm tempted to try time putting together some information that isn't just right-wing junk-science and its consequent debunking.

While listing major achievements in improving air/water quality, forestation levels etc. is trivial...

Indeed, such a listing would be "trivial" because such localized improvements (primarily in the OECD countries) still amount to pissing in the wind against all the other vast ongoing ecological degradations occurring globally.

...I don't really have the time to find the relevant stats/figures, and I'm not convinced it would make any difference to you anyway.

The point of the exercise is not to convince me but to force you to back up your unfounded belief that such trivial improvements are "impressive" in comparison to what we haven't (and will not ever) fix while stuck on the 'globalized civilization' paradigm path we are fixated on remaining on.

Unfortunately much environmental improvement literature is obvious right-wing propaganda (hello Heartland Institute) so googling for relevant/verifiable information is far more difficult than it would otherwise be.

If it was as "impressive" as you suggested it was, it shouldn't be hard at all to list. But quite obviously, it isn't.

The fact remains that air/water qualities, forestation levels, etc., have not, in aggregate, improved impressively. They continue to deteriorate and do so in a way that should be more impressive to anyone concerned about our future prospects.

According to the latest Worldwatch Institute's Vital Signs 2006-07 publication:

  • Global Ecosystems Under More Stress
  • Coral Reef Losses Increasing
  • Birds Remain Threatened
  • Plant Diversity Endangered
  • Deforestation Continues
  • Groundwater Overdraft Problem Persists
  • Air Pollution Still A Problem
  • Wetlands Drying Up
  • Mammals in Decline
  • Freshwater Species at Increasing Risk
  • Toxic Waste Largely Unseen

Now that is an impressive list! But none of it is positive or trivial.

Your Australian location may provide some short term isolation from ecological disasters occurring elsewhere, but in the long run, an ecologically ravaged planet will be felt everywhere.

(I've been to AUS a few times and if there now I too might feel more secure, but never so sanguine as you about these concerns and their broader effect upon civilized life in Oz. Ecological collapse in other areas, particularly from all the nearby over-populated Asian countries, will not go unnoticed on your continent.)

All the energy or technology in the world won't change this crisis so long as man's limitless appetite remains intact as is, geared to infinite (and extravagantly destructive) economic growth on a finite planet.

BTW, I see that your drought is still a matter of concern. Good luck with that.

I never said the list of improvements was impressive in comparison with the list of ongoing problems, just that it reads almost as impressively - the problems are pretty much what we expect and all know about, the work that is being done to solve them gets far too little credit, and exhibits our (occasional) ability to actually accept and do something about the way we have treated the environment these last couple of centuries.

You point out that the improvements are largely in OECD nations - indeed, this is a critical point. Countries with poor economic health are not really in a position to worry too much about their long-term future - they're just trying to find enough land to live on and food to eat.
Which is why economic growth IS a goal pursuing - it just has to be done in a manner that is compatible with the limits of the environment. Economic growth also appears to be the best cure to excessive population growth.
At the very least, if your concern is the future of the planet, then further economic growth is just as likely to be positive in improving the environment as it is to be detrimental. I would even tentatively suggest that it is essential. No doubt we have to radically change the way we've been achieving that growth, and I doubt such a radical change is possible without a major shake-up of our current financial and political systems, and social attitudes. Peak oil may well be the catalyst that triggers such a shake-up - although of course it equally has the potential to reduce the strength of our economies to the point that we no longer have the "luxury" of stabilising our long-term future by taking better care of our planet.
If the latter were to occur, it may well mean that humanity has blown its chance to be a long-term successful species. Let us hope otherwise.

At the very least, if your concern is the future of the planet, then further economic growth is just as likely to be positive in improving the environment as it is to be detrimental.

No, because our "economic wealth" is peanuts, energywise/entropywise compared to the energy/entropy degradation caused by the externalities of growth upon the whole earth ecosystem.

Even wiping out an obscure worm or insect specie with no "utility" whatsoever to mankind or much impact upon surrouding ecosystems is an incommensurable damage ECONOMYWISE (!) because the cost of rebuilding a living form of comparable complexity (plus its surrounding life support!) is well above ALL financial worth of the total world GDP.
We have been given a treasure of evolved complexity and we are squandering it.
Our puny idiotic specie is blinded by hubris, we will NEVER be able to rebuild anything of comparable value to the result of billion years of evolution upon billions tons of biomass!

You are a very clever person and nevertheless evil and/or stupid unless you have a very sophisticated agenda (non evil...)

Don't pretend to distance yourself from the Singularitarians, denial is cheap.

I think 1 billion was just a kind of ball park number, but it can't be far wrong. Without existing global economy it is hard to see how existing nuclear power plants can continue to function. Each will either be shut down in a planned way or will become a disaster of profound, but not global, scale. The support technology for the whole world will become strictly solar, as it was in mid 18th century and before. What was the 'carrying capacity' of earth then? In future, it will be smaller by whatever is destroyed in the nuclear power plant disasters.
World population was approx. 1 billion in 1800. That there will surely be a great deal of social turmoil in reaching the new carrying capacity is not really a reason for believing it will not move to that end point.
As to how long it will take to happen. This way of estimating the end point value doesn't say much about the transition time. I guess a few dozen generations. Its just a guess.

It requires more than demographics for people to come into existence. It also requires food, shelter and some modicum of medical care.

Let's model an example of population decline that might be possible. Assume humanity experiences an aggregated global net birth rate that declines from 1.2% today to 0 in 75 years. Assume as well that we experience a curve in the aggregate global excess death rate that rises to 4% or so over the next 40 years followed by a decline back to 0 in 75 years.

Given these assumptions you end up with a maximum global population of 7 billion in 5 years, followed by a decline to one billion in 75 years. The key question is, are these assumptions (especially the excess death curve peaking at 4%+) supportable?

In my view they are, given the convergence of disruptive resource, ecological and socio-political factors that is happening as we type. These factors include Peak Oil, global warming, oceanic fish depletion, soil fertility depletion, fresh water depletion and pollution, deforestation and desertification, and especially economic breakdown. It's the last factor that could result in very rapid changes in human survivability. Regional economic collapses will result in destruction of local medical care, redirection of food and energy supplies to other regions that can still pay for them, and a rapid degradation of regional distribution and communication infrastructures that would affect most products and services including energy and food.

It's important to emphasize that the collapse will not be globally uniform, and will vary in character from region to region. Some of it is already underway, especially in Africa, and there is much evidence of supply crises of various types in Asian countries like Nepal and India. Due to their high levels of disposable wealth the OECD nations may not see such levels of disintegration (at least initially) because they have economic and real resources that are surplus to simple survival, and can be reallocated to that purpose (though later on the effects of Catabolic Collapse will make themselves felt even there). The rich nations may, however, see other effects - especially political shifts to more authoritarian forms of government.

Given the interlocked nature of the developing crises in the resource, ecological and social spheres, as well as humanity's collective inability to override its genetic programming for consumption, reproduction and competition, I really don't see how breakdown can be avoided over the next 50 years.

I think your view is problematic... I think a fast crash is likely - so yes the physical infrastructure decays rapidly, yes governments and nation states will be forever changed...

...as for existing structures of democracy... I think in the West we've lost an awful lot of what we once had there already - and living in the US right now - the democracy here is a theory in the classroom that bears little resemblance to the actual governance of the country...

I'm with GG on this one
When no-one around you understands
start your own revolution
and cut out the middle man


I don't know if you're considering in your price calculations the enormous twin deficits (ie budget deficit and trade deficit) that the USA has. This situation would continue to get worse even without peak oil, but rising oil prices are very inflationary and drive both deficits higher. I can't see any way that the US government can deal with this except to print more money, thus triggering inflation, eventually hyper-inflation.

Alternatively, the USA could just say "we won't pay our debts", but that would result in an immediate collapse of the banking system, and nobody overseas would accept US dollars, essentially devaluing it to toilet paper. So I'm willing to bet that the US government will turn to the printing presses to "solve" the problem.

However, in addition to the above, we also have huge levels of private debt (credit card, subprime home loans) that are in trouble. I would think that if people can't pay their bills, start defaulting on loans, that would be deflationary. It would also cut energy consumption - homeless people consume less.

Not a pretty picture.

Right if you believe ELP is vital post peak then using the ELP scorecard on various regions and governments results in a far different outcome than most people expect. I maintain that the real result will be a collapse of the middle class based economies and the prodigious amount of oil used to support them along with the use of our current fiat currencies for denomination of wealth. In effect you have a very rapid re denomination of wealth in terms of the ELP abilities of various regions and economies.

To use the US as and example the small Midwestern towns would now become the wealthiest parts of the country. Once in the past this was the case when the bread basket accumulated wealth to rival the coastal seaports. Not long ago the wealth of the US was concentrated in the food producing regions and the seaports with most of the coast away from the seaports or river power being of little value.

Applying ELP on a regional level points to this again becoming important and on a national level countries that are close to this i.e the third world will see a fairly quick increase in their real wealth. Its pretty simple once oil is no longer a source of growth we revert quickly into measuring wealth based on trade in commodities and agriculture.

I think a lot of people can see the value of southern California for example plummeting to effectively zero in the not to distant future this will be a huge loss of real wealth to America. In general the very places where America has concentrated its wealth are exactly the same places that will devalue the most post peak.

In any case all I've done is apply the concept of ELP and the ability to ELP as the most important thing post peak and the results are interesting. Also note that the Midwest for example won't just go strait to a rosy future they need the population to return and congregate along cheap transportation routes before they can begin building wealth.

In the interim I suspect oil based agriculture will suffer some pretty serious problems before it can be reorganized.

So even though in the long term these will be again the natural centers of wealth they once were in the short term they will suffer until they wean themselves of oil for production and transport. In my opinion these regions will undergo a depression just like the rest of the country its just they will be the best choice amongst a number of bad choices.

This of course is based on the assumption that ELP is paramount if this is wrong or more likely incomplete then these conclusions may prove wrong. So far I've not seen anything to indicate I'm wrong. Simply observing that if ELP is critical for the individual post peak indicates it should be of the same importance for groups of ever increasing sizes.

ozone, you refer to budget deficit and i would like to correct you on that. a budget deficit is whatever the crap the current administration wants to pull out of their ass. imo fiscal deficit or treasury deficit is a more appropriate term.

What I think your missing is that the traditional suburban economy is simply not viable in the face of expensive energy.

Not all energy will be equally expensive. My last electric bill had an overall rate of just under 9.5 cents/kWh, all taxes and surcharges included. Assume 0.25 kWh/mile, which seems to be what many of the prototypes achieve, and my Civic's 35 miles/gal as the target, and electricity works out to the equivalent of 0.83 $/gal gasoline. Here in Colorado, electricity is 80% coal-fired, which is not going to go a lot higher (absent large carbon taxes). Double that for nuke power with all the costs included, or coal with sequestration, and it still looks cheap. Granted that I have to make a capital investment in order to achieve that -- if someone would sell it to me, I would cheerfully pay a substantial premium for the serial PHEV equivalent to my Civic, and an 80-mile range would cover the vast majority of my driving. Heck, I'd probably pay the premium for an all-electric vehicle under one of E-P's zinc-air scenarios.

I drive about 9,000 miles/yr, which translates to roughly six kWh/day. Surprisingly (or maybe not), that's almost exactly the annual average solar insolence per sq meter for Denver. Five square meters of PV panel at 20% efficiency would cover my driving. Most roofs in the Denver suburbs have five square meters of unshaded area. Ideally, since I'm going to charge at night and generate power during the day, I'd prefer to use the grid as my "storage", but alternatives are possible. Again, I have to make a capital investment, but at that point I'm making my own "fuel" at a controlled cost.

A much more interesting policy question is whether the US government and the "free market" are going to provide suburbanites with choices about capital costs that might well make the suburbs viable in many areas.

Another energy penalty in the suburbs will be the services required to support them. Postal service, police, plumbers, UPS and pizza deliveries all require more transportation, much of it oil. More street lights/capita. More pavement and sewer lines per capita as well.

I agree that some suburbs will survive, but likely in changed form.

Others will not IMO.

Best Hopes for TOD,


While $5 and $10 is important, the 'minimum wage' amount makes for a great rhetorical - "You just worked an hour for a gallon of gas".

The low end service sector has to start being slapped around already...I just don't know what 'trade rags' to look that up in.

What IEA is calling seems to me to be what Robert Rapier calls "Peak Lite," where the demand curve moves more than the supply curve, thus raising prices and limiting both quantity supplied and quantity demanded (which, of course, are always identically equal, by definition).

Don, I was reading the IEA story, and I was thinking "Oh, they are talking about Peak Lite. Maybe I should write an update on that concept."

I see more and more stories coming to that conclusion - that supply - even if it is able to grow - will not be able to grow at anything like historical rates. That will lead to the same sort of bidding war that one would see with Peak Oil, only it will happen even as supplies grow. It is a preview of things to come.

Please do write an update on Peak Lite. Rather than focus only on geological factors, we need to look more at those so-called "logistical" factors that limit supply.

Total demand seems to me to be a function mostly of economic growth worldwide. If the global economy grows two percent per year, then I'd expect oil demand to grow at least one percent annually and possibly more than that. The ONLY way I can see total demand stabilizing is for global economic growth to stop or to grow at a miniscule rate.

For most economists, the notion that global economic growth will stop is simply too horrible to contemplate.

I say: Contemplate it, because it is going to happen.

I find zero economic growth to be easy to contemplate. It is a large and rapid decline that I find difficult to want to think about.

Zero economic growth is an intolerable concept for most economists for two reasons:

1. Zero real economic growth implies a relentless increase in the number of unemployed and the rate of unemployment.

2. Zero economic growth means that the pie stops growing, and thus the issue of income redistribution rears its too ugly head. So long as the focus is on economic growth, we can hold out the realistic possibility of upward social mobility to many--perhaps a majority--of the population. Zero economic growth will bring up the "untouchable" topic of income distribution and redistribution, and the even touchier topic of wealth distribution and redistribution. Thus, the powers that be will fight to the last gasp (and beyond) to assert that growth is just around the corner, that Peak Oil is nonsense, that technology will save us, that growth can continue even as fossil fuels diminish in availability, and so on and so forth.

This issue of growth is the jugular vein: Since World War II it has seemed that growth is inevitable and unending. Nobody likes to see a dream die, and the dream behind economic growth was an end to poverty in the world and decent lives for all.

Too bad that it was only a dream.

Soon comes the nightmare.

Umm...Don, I thought you weren't a Doomer. You're sounding a bit on the Doomie side above.

I'm not sure its doomerish its simply that the whole basis for the economy not only since WWII but since the industrial revolution and even more since the discovery of the new world has had the rug ripped out from underneath it.

We have been able to grow for almost 500 years at effectively as fast a pace as possible since resources in general were far in excess of our ability to consume. The end of a 500 year shopping spree is bound to be painful.

It's only doomerish if you have a pessimistic fatalist view of the aftermath of whatever "bottleneck" modern civilization goes through...

Science has reached the point where it can describe a wide variety of animal behavior scientifically. Humans, of course, are animals, and while not particles or massive bodies in orbit, homo sapiens have evolved predispositions, and they are readily observed and often discussed here at TOD.

One of the great ironies of the vast increase in human "knowledge" over the industrial revolution, and priorly the enlightenment, is that it is precisely to the degree that we understand ourselves by which we are capable of overcoming dispositions (to unintentionally sound Nietzschean...) Is there some relation between evolved predispositions, the capacities and innate structures of human nature in our present culture, which connect to each other? Or to write it as a statement, and not a question--it must be true that we can only change, suppress or modify behavior once it has been outlined to us that: you can't get away with it, it isn't "good", or it is not advantageous in a postmodern world (or maybe it is?). When A) you can get away with it B) you've convinced yourself to think it is good and C) it is clearly advantageous--then that leads to, for lack of a better term, "programmed behavior". It leads to Iraq, Vietnam, on down the list. Political power seems to dictate, on a species level preemptive, aggressive action... You attack instability before it really starts to surface--aka "we had to destroy it to save it..."

The odd thing is, that the liberal ideals of science seem unbelievably equipped to explain the naturally conservative tendency of man, and behavior.

If one watches the dog whisperer, happens to buy into secular physicalism and approaches reality at a primal level--it becomes so abundantly clear that humans are no different than dogs when it comes to self-interest, attacking the weak, etc..If the circumstances allow for it... That is to say, if you can get away with it, do it. There will always be phenotypes around to oblige this necessary trait (individual reproductive fitness doesn't strongly favor "giving up" and "cutting and running"--although sometimes it does). Whatever "controls the source" (as Cesar likes to say) will dictate the behavior, and it will be modulated accordingly. If the source is absent, or malignant then the dominant will harshly dominate. The problem in our society is that that the PR industry, and apologists for avarice, are the source... GIGO.

Thanks for the interesting post.

I think that a large part of the socio-political problem you are describing comes from letting the ideals of past generations be subverted by various means - the prime example being the legal entity. (Before that religion) The rise of corporations to legal personhood has enabled small groups of real people to exert disproportionate amounts of influence over society/politics/science etc.

And so it remains today, and I doubt many people appreciate the magnitude and power of the PR industry and the legal entities they represent.

The irony of "human knowledge" that you mention is that much of the information that is disseminated in our culture has been filtered and censored. Censored knowledge is not knowledge at all. Real knowledge comes from full-disclosure, experimentation, freedom to make mistakes, critical thinking, etc. but those who would follow this path tend to opt out of conformist consumerism, which is no good for legal entities. That would be bad for business.

The internet (among other things) has gone some small way to rectifying the problem. But I hold little hope for a near-term fix...

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

Thanks for the thanks.

Your elaboration, by my biased eyes, seems entirely correct. I also agree that the internet and computers are wonderful tools, when effectively used they can be major sources of information, dare I say even verging on enlightenment... However, the abundance of information comes at the cost of Gresham's Law--where everything is so free and open that it is that much easier to dismiss or subvert ("those nutjobs at TOD", "Those cultists doomers at The Oil Drum really are off their rocker", "What, a website says peak oil is now? What a joke, don't they know who Daniel Yergin is? Who are they", "Lets get 'em".) There is a great scene in the comedy movie about the planning and creation of the Bradley Tank. If memory serves me right the main character is supposed to be investigating the progress of the tank and how everything is going... He requests some information, and the higher-ups send him an inordinate amount of material which is impossible for any one man, or group of otherwise busy individuals, to go through... The internet's problem is a very similar. The information is there, but not readily accessible... And besides, there is a lot of disinformation to confuse you about what is the true information, to paraphrase what you wrote. Quickly finger-pointing arises and you can never win against TPTB, because they have the real means of information dispersal. TV. They control it. We can't even control TOD (because we're "free and open"). TOD discredits itself all the time because it allows disinformation on principle. The disinformers either aren't conscious they have no principles, or are in fact conscious liars... The beautiful poetic nature of the modern corporation is that it is the very legal processes that you talk about that they have not only used to give themselves godly rights (for instance, immortality) but also to entirely rewrite their own laws to protect their immortality! Such gall requires big balls, and I think they have proven they have some macho cajones. However, what's worse, that integrated oil corporations are legally seen as one individual? Or that major corporations can now essentially restrict your rights and literally control the media through other byzantine systems of law they have drawn up with the help of their cronies on Capitol Hill? They both touch each other, because one prevents the other from being properly criticized in the public sphere. And in fact, the causation runs the same direction too, namely that politicians are in fact the launching board of the further degradation of rationality because they in effect legislate for bounding the debate... One reason Microsoft isn't that worried about Linux is because they know they can litigate "IP" to no end, and essentially make it impossible to make it easy for a complete computer illiterate newbie to run Free software (as in freedom, not free beer) out of the box without problems. In the long run Microsoft will probably lose out to open source, falter on its model that no longer works, and follow perhaps an even more despondent path than GM--so I'll try not to prattle on about that...

Real knowledge is usually painful, not to mention boring (many TOD'ers describe that, so I read and I too observe, "when I try talking to someone about PO their eyes glaze over")... We evolved a psychology to salve pain... Even the techies do it, over on Slashdot most of those mensa-ites just can't bring themselves to care about PO when the Mars Rover is "threatened by sand storms". They are stuck in their analysis of technokitcsh and eternal life (stuck in the corporate iteration of "progress" and "growth"). It comes in all the usual modern (I use modern in the post pre-history sense here), invented forms: religion, competition, sports, consumerism, education, even war etc etc... Just doing something anything* will make everything fine, seems to be the universal feel good meme no matter what the political stripe. Any type of diversion. As I also like to repeat, humans need to fill up their neurons with something, doesn't matter if it if "wrong" or "right", just that the organism thinks something. In the end we're all just Joycean machines and we're either on, asleep, or dead--and maybe psychotic and drug induced episodes in between-- but that is all. We're just sorting through the detritus of a culture we can't control, because our intellectuals are so shallow and blind--how is average joe schmoe suppose to figure anything out?

Off to catch some zzzzZZZs

A lot of people who analyze this issue like to wear the "I'm not a doomer" label like its a badge of honor or something. They probably think it gives them more credibility. Just an observation.

As a teenager I came pretty close to being a doomer--because World War III seemed to be extremely likely, and those who said it would not happen seemed to be unduly optimistic.

Sometimes the optimists are correct.

World War III did not happen, despite excellent reasons and firm predictions as to why it had to happen.

Thus I am somewhat amused by Matt Savinar and other doomers who are so darn sure that their dark vision is the uniquely correct one.

Here comes another fearless forecast:

The future will be surprising.


Predictions are really hard to make. Especially about the future. ;-)

I hope I'm surprised...

OK Yogi.

Don...I truly agree with your life outlook even though I have to fight my own "doomer" mentality every day. To survive and stay sane, you really have to balance "what's the worst that can happen" with "what's the best that can happen".

I tend toward doomer, but it also almost cost me my life. The worst does not always happen. It's usually somewhere in between. And sometimes, some blessed times...the best happens.

As Alan would say, "Best Hopes for the Best Things to Happen".

You say World War III did not happen, but it now strikes me as far more likely to happen than at any time during the Cold war. Yet another reason I'm somewhat grateful for the isolation that living down here in the Southern Hemisphere gives us (anyone seen "On The Beach?". My home town was considered to be the last surviving city...).

Give me a break: The world came close to World War III in October 1962 and was not far from a third world war during the Berlin blockade of 1948 and the expansion of the Korean War during the early 1950s. After the Berlin Wall went up in 1961 the U.S. went to a full (secret) mobilization status, with twenty-mile long convoys of trucks pouring out of the general depots. During the Vietnam War it was by no means clear that the war would remain contained and that the U.S. would accept defeat.

The Soviet Union planned for and expected a Third World War against the United States, and it might have happened had not U.S. spending on $400 toilet seats and Star Wars A.B.M. program totally demoralized the Russians and caused the collapse of communism;-)

At present we are nowhere near a Third World War. Exactly who is going to fight the U.S.? Iran? Who is going to fight China? Is the Pakistan India confrontation going to burgeon into a Third World War? Why on earth would it? In regard to Africa, who would want to conquer any of it except for a few oil regions? There is no basis whatsoever for World War III now.

We may not be at the hair-trigger point similar to the ones you describe (both well before my time - so I can't judge how real the threat felt at those points), but looking ahead into the next few decades, the threat looks very real to me. Far more nations now have nuclear and biological weapons, and there's no lack of evidence of humans going to war over resources.
Even aside from resource shortages, extremist terrorist groups continue to pose a threat, even if it's unlikely to be a nuclear one. Were an attack 5-10 times the scale of 9/11 to occur tomorrow, I shudder to think how the US would react.

Mind you, I'm rational enough about it to be far more concerned about being killed in a traffic accident than being the victim of global warfare.

On the Beach bears no resemblance to real physics regarding fallout and radiation. If this is the basis for your conclusions, I suggest you study something useful, like a copy of Samuel Glasstone's The Effects of Nuclear Weapons. It was the "bible" by which we wrote nuclear simulations and contains immensely useful formulas and statistics related to nuclear weapons, their effects, etc., all based on actual weapons testing from the 1940s and 1950s.

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

Of course I don't believe that a work of fiction is any sort of guarantee of my safety. But a nuclear global war is going to be largely confined to the northern hemisphere (I don't believe any nukes exist in our half).
No doubt the fallout would eventually make much of the southern hemisphere inhospitable also, but I'd still much prefer my chances here than anywhere in the U.S.

you have fallen into the same trap yet you do not see it. :P

WWIII started years ago... Sharia vs. Democracy

WWIII started years ago... Sharia vs. Democracy

Really? Where is this Democracy you speak of?

More like Jihad vs. McWorld.

Zero economic growth means that the pie stops growing, and thus the issue of income redistribution rears its too ugly head.

Forget about the economists. It's politically unacceptable. Politicans can't promise LESS to the voters and they certainly cannot mention redistribution to their own backers in the developer/looter/plundering class.

Liberalism itself is founded on growth, precisely because it gets to finesse the distribution question. No need to challenge the rich if a rising tide will lift all boats. That's certainly not true now where the marginal cost of growth now seems to exceed the marginal return. [It's just that the people getting the returns are different from the people getting the shaft.]

cfm in Gray, ME

Growth is key and growth can happen by more efficient use of resources, consumers starting to like goods and services that need less raw material and in some regions and countries there are possibilities to increase production of biomass and electricity in a sustainable way. I live in such a country, Sweden, and I dont think the era of growth is over.

But we do need fairly long term public and private planning to start up more niches that has the ability to grown when fuel prices double and so on. I am slowly learning the insides of our own governmental system and some of the interfaces between the public and private world and it makes me optimistical. We got the potential to gets lots and lots of things to happen, we only have to get the private money flows to shift their courses a little and hopefully not by taxation since markets with people with medium and long term thinking are more efficient then governmental decisions.

Handling peak oil and global warming seems locally to be an effort comparable to the cold war and handled well it ought to be a lot cheaper in public funds. Since it isent a war preparation effort most of the investments will be productive one way or the other. I am sure our culture can get thru this and keep all its key elements that makes us happy and often nerdy swedes. ;-)


You are 100% correct that the era of economic growth need not be over just because the energy we get from fossil fuels is going to decline. However, to maintain economic growth we would need intelligent policies such as:

1. Put a big tax on the weight of motor vehicles and give rebates to those who purchase small and fuel efficient vehicles.

2. Put a surtax on high incomes and use the revenue to retrain those who will become unemployed as "business as usual" becomes impossible.

3. Implement all of Alan Drake's proposals.

4. Elect Alan Drake (or somebody with similar ideas) as president of the U.S.

5. Convince people that biking and sailing are more fun than driving SUVs and racing around in boats with two or three hundred horsepower engines.

In the U.S. it is politically impossible to implement these or similar policies that would boost energy efficiency and mitigate the effects of Peak Oil. Similarly, it is politically impossible to greatly expand nuclear energy. Unfortunately, what is politically possible is to continue business as usual as long as possible, then finish off with triple digit inflation to get rid of debt. When fifty million Americans are unemployed, then we will do some serious rethinking.

At some point the internal contradictions of our political and economic and social system will bring it down. We are not yet at this point, and my guess is that we will not be until roughly the year 2020.

4. Elect Alan Drake (or somebody with similar ideas) as president of the U.S.

Alan Drake isn't on any coins yet:

This is what I keep saying: it is not really so much of a technical or economic problem as it is a social and political problem. Gather all of us from the TOD together for a week and I am sure that we could develop a very good technical and economic plan. Unfortunately, the political system would shoot it down.

The US political system is incurably dysfunctional and probably unsustainable. Our technological civilization, our society, even our economy might just barely squeak through if we're very lucky. But our political system won't survive.

Like the old tire commercial had it: "Sooner or later, you'll have Generals"

I argue that we'd argue ;)

The political system is geared to a growth reality. If we are talking about paradigm shift based on the finite nature of resources, we are likely talking about a transition to a steady state economy. Talk of conserving our way to growth does not seem realistic to me. This is an economic issue and we have a model to plug peak oil realities into and kick around. Why so little (if any I've missed it) discussion of such an obvious concept around the oil drum?

Anyone read Herman Daly? Recently finished "Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development "

Why so little (if any I've missed it) discussion of such an obvious concept

It has. Gets a nod by most people here. For there to be a discussion, there has to be someone who wants to take one side/present one set of data and someone else to take the other side/present different data.

1. Zero real economic growth implies a relentless increase in the number of unemployed and the rate of unemployment.

Zero real economic growth and zero population growth need to go together. You are right that a growing population with an unchanging economic pie is going to leave increasing numbers with small or no pieces. If both the economy and the population are both stable then there is no inherent reason why unemployment must increase or decrease.

Of course, if the fortunate few continue their habit of taking ever bigger shares of the pie, then a non-growing pie does indeed result in increasing numbers of people with smaller or no pieces, even if the population overall is stable.

I would argue that once an economy settles down into a sustainable steady state, the premium would be on minimizing waste of any and every type. If you can't count upon growth, then you really do need to make the most of what you have. The example of Japan in the Edo period is somewhat suggestive of this. If the minimization of waste becomes one of the key organizing paradigms of the zero-growth economy, then minimization of waste of human capital and labor would also become important. A zero-growth economy really would need to make efficient use of everyone that was capable of work.

2. Zero economic growth means that the pie stops growing, and thus the issue of income redistribution rears its too ugly head. So long as the focus is on economic growth, we can hold out the realistic possibility of upward social mobility to many--perhaps a majority--of the population. Zero economic growth will bring up the "untouchable" topic of income distribution and redistribution, and the even touchier topic of wealth distribution and redistribution. Thus, the powers that be will fight to the last gasp (and beyond) to assert that growth is just around the corner, that Peak Oil is nonsense, that technology will save us, that growth can continue even as fossil fuels diminish in availability, and so on and so forth.

Exactly right. Of course, that dream of upward mobility never came anywhere close to being realized for more than a minority of the population, and as we all know we are now seeing a wholesale slow-motion slide back down the ladder.

There is no inherent reason why a zero-growth economy must be a rigid, frozen economy. There can and should be some social and economic dynamism operating within the overall stability. As I indicated above, I believe that there will be considerable incentive to make the best possible use of each and every worker. A more interesting and important question, though, is: How much of a return is possible on investments in human capital in such a no-growth system? A big part of the upward mobility myth has included the idea that investments in the improvement of workers through education will result in more valuable workers, which in turn will enable them to earn more and work their way up the socioeconomic ladder. In a zero growth economy, the only real possibility for a substantial return on investment in human capital that I can see would be investments in human capital that result in workers that are able to further reduce waste or enhance resource utilization efficiency. If the big slice of the non-growing pie going to "waste" can be reduced, then that leaves more pie to be distributed even if the pie isn't growing.

This in turn suggests that in such a zero-growth society the education system would look very different than it does today. The existing system, at least in the USA, is extremely wasteful. A zero-growth economy cannot afford to invest resources in educating future workers that leaves them incapable of working up to at least a minimally acceptable level. Nor can such a system afford to deliver education to people that are not going to be able to make the most of it. A lot of nonesense and crap would have to cut out of the educational system.

How much of a return is possible on investments in human capital in such a no-growth system?

An economy of qualitative change, not of quantitative growth.

Economist Daly calls the former "development" and the latter "growth", but the terms have been conflated in common usage.

cfm in Gray, ME

Robert...didn't you say earlier this year that you expected Saudi to increase production by July, and if they didn't, you'd move over to the "Saudi has peaked" camp?

Do you still think that, or is Mr. Khelil correct, it's still a "refinery issue"?

I expected that they would have to as crude inventories were pulled down. But crude inventories have not been pulled down. We keep expecting them to be, but as of yet they Saudis are correct. Inventories - at least those that we have public access to (OECD) - are fine. So, no, I am not in the Saudi has peaked camp. Yet. If the IEA is correct and demand does increase by September, which will pull inventories down and/or drive prices much higher, then the Saudis do not have an excuse for not increasing production (unless they can't).

My comment about July was based on the fact that historically inventories are being pulled down at that time, and Saudi has to increase production. This year, inventories have not followed the normal pattern.

Is it possible that the inventories include tanks full of crude that whoever owns them has no intention of refining (yet)... just holding it as physical product waiting for it's value to increase? Therefore, in reality, the usable inventories are much lower than they seem?


New thread for the IEA report on the front page...

I think that triple digit territory for all grades of crude by 2012 can be pretty much taken as a given. How much above $100 by 2012, or how soon to $100 prior to 2012? Those are more difficult questions!

My totally gut level, out of the blue wild guess is $100 by 2009, $150 by 2012.

That plus $4 will get you a Latte at Starbucks (the old nickle and cup of coffee being so yesteryear).

My totally gut level, out of the blue wild guess is $100 by 2009, $150 by 2012.

Actually, that's not such a radical forecast.

Over the last 5 years, the trade-weighted exchange rate of the US dollar has declined by 4% per year (from an all-time high), and the inflation rate has been running at almost 3%, meaning the real buying power of US$1 for imported goods (like oil) has been dropping at about 7% per year.

If we extend that trend out 5 years, we get a 70% reduction in purchasing power, meaning a good priced in US$ would need to cost 40% more to have the same real price on the international market. Accordingly, current oil prices - US$70 - would correspond to about $100 in 2012, and a 50% increase to $150/bbl would not be that big of a stretch.

(That being said, the rate of decline of the US$ has been slowing, so the difference in purchasing power is likely to be less. Still, anything less than $100/bbl in summer 2012 would represent a market with better supply and less tightness than what we currently see, which the IEA suggests is pretty unlikely.)

Yes, I know, it could be much worse than that - but neither a Doomer nor a Cornucopian be. . .

Peak oil won't be a sharp peak put will probably be a broad peak with supply growth hovering around 0% for several years before declining. IMO, the "Peak Lite" interpretation is quite natural because before the actual supply maximum (2012-2015?), we will witness a gradual slow down in supply growth that will great high price volatility as soon as as supply cannot grow as much as demand.

Can't argue the theory, and frankly, it would nice to have a nice plateau for another 7 -8 years, while we prep for powerdown.

But, where is this NEW peak (after 2012) coming from?

I respect both you and Robert immensely, but I don't see where it is supposed to come from, even when I am in an optimistic mood (not today).

BTW, what was the supply growth in 2006? 2007, so far?

BTW, what was the supply growth in 2006? 2007, so far?

Crude + Condensate supply growth for 2006 over 2005 was -0.33%. So far, C+C 2007 growth over 2006 is -0.34% for a net growth since 2005 of -0.67%. That's negative 0.67 percent.

Ron Patterson

Thanks, Ron. Have been out all day, hard to find my post in all the discussion about the IEA report.

So much for the 0% growth...last time I checked that was DECLINE. For two years, no less.

But we can wait, KSA is just playing with us for a couple years, they have tons of spare capacity...and Russia too.

1.5 years to All liquids peak (maybe, if ethanol and other bios can make it there). Otherwise, grab your sleds.

Time for another update by Ace.

Can't argue the theory, and frankly, it would nice to have a nice plateau for another 7 -8 years, while we prep for powerdown.

Agreed, would be nice, especially if by "we" you mean folks like you and I.

However, if by "we" you mean society at large, I am afraid that the reality will be more like this:

Can't argue the theory, and frankly, it would nice to have a nice plateau for another 7 -8 years, while we prep for continue to dither and stall and waste time in denial while we wait and see if there really will be a powerdown.

Sort of like the last few years? ;)

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

I really wish I had done a bit more economics 'cus my 2 year fixed runs out in a year and I'm wondering whether to get a 15 year fixed and let Inflation 'do her worst' to my big nasty debt... [Is it possible to have high levels of money growth without Inflation? -bear in mind money supply is in double digits here in the UK and 'CPI' for what it's worth is just ~3.3% with Interest rates at 5.75%...]

On another note I have noticed a worrying trend in London, UK. I am seeing more and more people driving around in 'SUV' class vehicles: mostly of the Range Rover, BMW 5, Porsche type. There is also an 'American Carriage Company' selling the Hummer H2 just down the road, OMG!...

This is in a country where petrol is >~$7.20 a gallon...

I see these leviathans of the road doing the school run with a MumKid combo or popping down the mall. It's like seeing one of those Male Tropical birds that has tail feathers so long it can hardly fly. It says: "Look I'm rich, I don't really care about the price of gas 'cus I'm loaded anyway"...

I suspect in an age of $10 dollar/gallon gas you in the US will have your equivalent of the peacock or whatever driving round in Hummers with an 'Up Yours OPEC' bumper sticker...

Regards, Nick.


and btw inflation by definition is monetary supply growth.

In periods of fiat currency instability people move towards more secure holdings (properties, ect) this is one symptom of the bubble.

The next shock will be a pension meltdown. Then healthcare.

pension 3-5 years out, probably 2010, Healthcare meltdown 1 year after pension meltdown.

These two combined will cause -1% annual population growth in populations with an inverted pyramid. I already have my Health Care and pension benefits written into my contract as going to my bankaccount, pension money is converted into gold, healthcare money is put into a greater variety of foods, the rest goes into gold again. exercise is taken care of by the outdoors.

I don't know what else they can mean by demand, as long as price is the globally accepted mediator between the oil people want and the oil being produced.

There are of course alternatives. Gas rationing in the industrial world may become as commonplace as income taxes over the next 5-10 years.

I would just amend your comment to read as follows:

There are of course alternatives. Gas rationing in the industrial world may become as commonplace as income taxes over the next 5-10 months.

Consider the simple fact that the US became a net importer about 20 years before we peaked. If all of the oil in the world were concentrated in the US, net exports would have ceased 20 years before world production peaked. So, what's more important from the point of view of importers, Peak Oil or Peak Exports?

I'm thinking about that list of countries in energy crisis put together by Solaris. Peak export pain will creep up through the developing world. The OECD and China will keep a lock on imports through price mechanisms as more and more developing world governments go belly up in response. I doubt the U.S. or OECD will see real shortages this year or next.

And remember that supply constraints won't simply cause higher prices - they will slow global economic growth. With a global economic downturn, another perfectly adequate mediator between supply and demand, there would likely be no need for gas rationing in the OECD, at least in the short term.

I am assuming sharp declines in exports, especially from Russia.

I have a hard time believing that price increases will sharply curb demand and result and any sort of real lowering of the price of oil/gasoline. Everything I've read points to demand being far more inelastic today vs the 1970's. This is why I think OPEC is far more willing to let price float ever higher since I don't think we will see any real demand destruction until a regions economy simply ceases to function.

No one can afford to be the first one to slow their economies now so we will run them as fast as possible hoping that someone else will fail first.

Now I no longer think that the 2-3 world economies will actually be the first to fail as we believe. The reason is if you look at it from a ELP perspective they are in far better position to move to a ELP economy than most of the first world. Sure the poor in these countries will suffer but they don't use a lot of oil anyway and the wealthy make their money from commodities which will be the last items to suffer any real price decreases. The only weak point is they depend on international shipping but this is fairly efficient and in a slowing economy will be very competitive.

So from a ELP perspective it seems that the 3rd world after a period of adjustment actually has a sort of stable plateau that their economies can and will attain.

While the first world economies which are not only more oil dependent but worse dependent on cheap oil may suffer more than most people realize. Simply applying ELP to larger and larger regions gives a different answer from one based on wealth valued using inflated fiat currencies.

If supply is contrained at an absolute level, then prices have to keep rising until demand is curbed. But basically, almost anything will do to trigger a recession. Recessions are inevitable even without peak oil. A global economic downturn is inevitable in any case, but particularly if there is an absolute constraint on energy supplies available to fuel growth.

Now I no longer think that the 2-3 world economies will actually be the first to fail as we believe.

Maybe not first to fail, but first to suffer. Half of the world's population is now living in cities. That includes cities like Mogadishu as well as Manhattan. I'm not prepared to believe that the citizens of Mogadishu are closer to sustainability than those of Manhattan. If the oil import tap to the U.S. gets turned off, then the grain export tap to the rest of the world gets turned off. This is not a good thing for the third world in the short term. In the long term, maybe after Mogadishu is more of a smouldering ruin than it probably already is, then the rest of Somalia can go about the business of scratching out a subsistence living.

From the link above:

RBC, 09.07.2007, Moscow 15:01:14.Russia's oil exports amounted to 101.562m tonnes in January-May 2007, which is nearly 8 percent more than in the same period a year earlier, the Russian Federal Customs Service reported today.

Westexas, how do explain the increase in Russian exports?

Suyog, Russia has stopped giving month over month increases and have resorted to Year over year figures. We do not have the Russian figures for Arpil and May yet but for the first three months of 2007, oil production averaged 378,000 barrels per day above 2006. I understand it will be well below that for April and May.

If we had the figures for exports from Russia for April and May verses March, their peak, I don't think they would be up at all.

Ron Patterson

Westexas, how do explain the increase in Russian exports?

As Ron noted, you have to differentiate between the year to date versus month to month comparisons:

Tuesday, July 3, 2007. Issue 3690. Page 5.
(Russian) Oil Exports Fall, Duties Advance

The country's crude oil exports fell 6.9 percent in June as higher export duties encouraged oil companies to refine more crude domestically.

As I warned in January, 2006, all three of the top net oil exporters--Saudi Arabia, Russia and Norway (accounting for about 40% of world net exports in 2006)--showed year over year declines in net exports, with their total net exports down by 3.8% year over year.

I'm sorry, but there is no way to sugarcoat the effect on net exports of flat to declining production and frequently rapid increases in consumption in exporting countries.

As Ron noted, you have to differentiate between the year to date versus month to month comparisons:

You also have to realize that month to month comparisons are much noisier data, and hence trying to predict trends based on just a couple of month to month data points is likely to be an exercise in futility.

The June IEA OMR puts Russia's Apr07 production down 90kb/d from Mar07, and May07 up 10kb/d from Apr07. The Jun07 OMR indicates a substantial portion of that drop was due to the Sakhalin 1 project, which (since that project is still ramping up) suggests the drop should be temporary.

As I warned in January, 2006, all three of the top net oil exporters--Saudi Arabia, Russia and Norway (accounting for about 40% of world net exports in 2006)--showed year over year declines in net exports

Then your insight into this quote from the May07 IEA OMR, p.34, would be interesting:

"Russian crude exports meanwhile have been at record highs after a dip in export tariffs from 1 April and ahead of a new rise from 1 June."

That, combined with your own "supporting" quote, suggests that Russian crude exports are dropping because they're refining more of it themselves and exporting the product instead. That's hardly a crisis.

If you prefer to believe that we will see higher crude oil exports, I hope that you are right. Who knows--perhaps Congress will repeal the Thermodynamics laws?

However, I expect to see a continuation of the lower net export trend that I warned about last year.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007. Issue 3695. Page 5.
The Moscow Times: Alfa Report Sees Trouble Looming in Russian Oil Sector
By Anatoly Medetsky
Staff Writer

Alfa Bank warned on Monday that "production stagnation is unavoidable" at the country's oil fields and further downgraded its target prices for shares in most Russian oil companies.

The dramatic worsening in its outlook was the result of the government's reluctance to consider lowering taxes on oil firms and a higher proportion of water in the declining output, the bank said in a research report.

Alfa has led the way in cautioning investors about oil sector profits over the last six months, with other brokerages following suit in reducing expectations. . . .

. . . Alfa Bank first downgraded its projections in the sector in March, saying that oil majors were depleting existing fields while heavy taxes on the industry were preventing the development of new fields. In Monday's report, the company described the situation as "substantially more dangerous" than it had suggested four months ago.

The increasing proportion of water in total output was a major source of concern, the bank's analysts wrote. This causes a quickening in the rate of natural production decline at most fields.

If you prefer to believe that we will see higher crude oil exports, I hope that you are right. Who knows--perhaps Congress will repeal the Thermodynamics laws?

I know knocking down straw men is much easier than addressing what I actually say, but engaging in actual discussion is a more productive use of effort.

In particular, you'll note that I've never said I expect to see increasing net exports from the current top 3 exporters.

However, I expect to see a continuation of the lower net export trend that I warned about last year.

"Continuation" implies that it's currently the case, whereas the IEA report states that Russian exports have recently been at record levels.

It's worth noting, however, that I largely agree with you - I expect to see continued declines from Norway, flattening production and growing export declines from Russia, and rapidly-growing internal consumption in Saudi Arabia. I just think you're overstating your case.

I follow you DocBob

is that demand for $30 oil, $75$ or $200?

he yeah, I'm not much into economics - and I can not figure "what demand" are they talking about, eigther. I see the supply thing though ...

This is them admitting peak oil right?

The Daily Green interprets it that way.

This is them admitting peak oil right?

Not even close.

They're saying oil production will rise substantially in the next 5 years, but not fast enough to keep up with demand. That's not saying "oil production will peak and decline", it's saying "oil demand will be constrained by supply".

In particular, there's very little support for the more apocalyptic doomers in their prediction. Oil production dropping rapidly makes for great end-of-civilization theorizing; oil demand rising rapidly due to growing economies isn't so conducive to that. However, that latter is rather more realistic, and rather more useful. Tight oil supplies and steadily-rising prices will push development of alternatives faster than any amount of whining about "wasteful suburbia" ever will.

For someone concerned about resource depletion or CO2 levels, this kind of slowly-tightening screw on oil consumers is good news.

Pitt: They project the large demand increases from Asia. A strong global economy combined with the painful death of US suburbia is quite plausible.

Remember that they actually are counting on considerably higher prices to make economic the development of those trillions of barrels of unconventional resources like tar sands & oil shales & arctic & deepwater offshore & etc -- they just aren't being very upfront in saying it. And, of course, higher prices will make renewables more feasible as well, enabling some of that deman to be redirected away from oil instead of being simply destroyed. So, unless you are claiming that $100 oil really does trigger the collapse of civilization, the long dive downhill might not be quite as soon and quite as steep as some are thinking. But we will be heading downhill, nevertheless.

Much more on this blog:


In a dire forecast, the Paris-based International Energy Agency is warning of an impending crunch in the supply of oil and natural gas needed to power world economic growth in coming years.

Amazing photos of Antarctic ice:


Beautiful! I'm no iceologist but it looks like old glacier ice that has calved into the ocean.

re: "Blueprint" article linked above: The author was doing fine until the end, when he labeled Global Warming a scam, and Peal Oil too, I think. Oh well. Just another example of how some people can be completely right about some things and yet they can still get something equally important completely ass-backwards.

The humans are so fascinating sometimes...

Sweden to raise fuel taxes to discourage driving?

Stockholm - A proposal that current Swedish fuel prices should be doubled to reduce greenhouse gas emissions was "not on the cards," Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren said Monday. Visiting the Baltic Sea island of Gotland, Carlgren comments came after a study quoted in Stockholm daily Dagens Nyheter suggested raising petrol prices from 11.14 kronor (1.65 dollars) per litre (in fixed prices 2005) to 22 kronor.

About 60 per cent of current fuel prices consist of taxes and fees.

The study was prepared by the Swedish Institute for Transport and Communications Analysis, an agency under the Ministry of Industry.

Henrik Edwards, analyst with the institute, said hikes on that scale were necessary to get motorists to drive less or buy new, environment-friendly cars, Dagens Nyheter said.

While declining to give an exact figure, Carlgren said that fuel taxes would likely be raised as part of the government's "pending package to tackle climate change" due to be presented next year.


In Norway there was a study back in May that said a 50% rise in gas prices, would produce only 10-15% demand destruction.

Gas prices are currently at about 12 crowns (€1.5) per litre of gas. A 50% rise would put them at 18 crowns (€2.25) per litre.

so a doubling in gas prices every 4-6 years should be alright then? because that is what will happen regardless, demand cannot be stopped, and when supply wanes quick, we are screwed.

I think perhaps there will be a difference in the psychology between a price hike caused by a supply shortfall and a hike caused by increase in taxes.
In the latter case, to drive or not is a question of whether or not one can afford the convenience. In the former case, saving gas might be viewed more as a patriotic duty or something you do out of solidarity.

Anyways, the purpose of my comment was simply to illustrate a point that Matthew Simmons has made: That gas prices in some countries are €240/bbl (in the case of Norway), and still there's little sign of demand destruction.

There is no way to get public support for a doubling of the fossil fuel taxes. But I appreciate mental prepairdness for higher fuel prices since market prices can go up.

Remember what Mr. Borg said about alcohol taxes? "People should work, not be drunk." That man will raise any tax he can just to cut taxes on labor.

So just watch him. ;)

How about working drunk, in a nuclear power plant for instance? :) (It has been known to happen in Sweden...)

Now, that's just nasty media spin.

The truth is that some contractors working on the non-nuclear part of the plant were a little hung over from partying the night before, and hence were sent home.

Holger Svenson from sector 7G!!

Starvid: The guy sounds like he has a brain. The actual cost of alcohol consumption in North America is incredible, when one tallys road deaths, murders, assaults, etc. The crap should be like $200 a bottle for the cheap whiskey.

de-facto prohibition wont work mate.

it's typically only education that changes behaviour, and setting up a society where drunk driving isnt tolerated.

and im talking you and how you act around your friends.

From the Kuwait story that Leanan posted up top:

Kuwaiti daily Al Qabas daily said several deputies plan to submit a proposal calling for making a link between daily oil production and the size of reserves. A similar proposal last year failed to reach the assembly's floor for a debate.

As several people have noted, this adds a third dimension, voluntary restrictions on exports, to the Export Land Model (ELM). As it stands now, in my hypothetical country, the ELM shows that only 10% of future production, after hitting peak exports, would be exported.

At some stage Kuwait will have to own up to the truth, probably it's better to do it sooner rather than later.

Probably it's also wiser to underestimte reserves rather than overestimate ... in my experience it's nearly always better to set an expectation and then overachieve.

BTW Brent is now at $78.37 ... so I guess it'll soon be an all an time high!



Europe is facing an interesting squeeze play, at least in terms of proximity to exporting regions. Based on the HL models, both the North Sea and Russia are highly depleted.

Regarding conventional oil, we are looking at a similar squeeze play in the US, with declining conventional production in Venezuela and Mexico to the south and in Canada to the north, with only nonconventional production showing some growth, primarily in Canada.

I wonder if we are about to see Bush and Cheney "Come out of the closet" and admit to the truth as to why the US is in Iraq. With more and more Republican senators dropping out of the Neocon Club, Bush/Cheney may have no choice left but to tell the truth.

It would actually be kind of interesting to see how Americans would react to the truth, and a choice between much higher gasoline prices, if we pull out, or lower gasoline prices, as US military force ensures that oil continues to flow to the US, while Brent and Asian prices go into the stratosphere. If we stay, perhaps the EPA could rank SUV's in terms of the number of dead Americans soldiers per year.

Do you think the US is disliked now? Imagine what would happen if the US forces oil to the US, while other, much more energy efficient, regions of the world face real shortages.

This headline said it all:

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

Headline from Drudge Report:


I wonder if the Kurdish situation might be a nifty excuse for Turkey seizing control of the Northern oil fields in Iraq. Why should the US be the only country to have guaranteed access to oil?

If Turkey were to seize the northern Iraqi fields, they would have considerable leverage over the EU; it must seem like a great idea in Ankara!

I wonder if we are about to see Bush and Cheney "Come out of the closet" and admit to the truth as to why the US is in Iraq. With more and more Republican senators dropping out of the Neocon Club, Bush/Cheney may have no choice left but to tell the truth.

What difference will that make?

If the whole country turned on a dime to support this war... where would we get the troops to win it? A draft? Where would we get the money? Taxes?

Unless the answers are "yes" and "yes"... playing the oil card is senseless.

playing the oil card is senseless.

I have posed this question before: What if Bush/Cheney more or less buy the Richard Duncan outlook (Olduvai Gorge), i.e., that we are looking at a net dieoff of about two million people per week? And what if you view yourself as a Super Patriot, with a divinely granted mandate to protect the American Way of Life?

Regarding personnel, I think that a key flaw in the Neocon's plans is overestimating the willingness of American junior and midlevel officers to continue to sacrifice themselves and their soldiers, in order to keep the oil flowing to the US.

I can actually picture that NATO (EU-army) may kick American ass – and ask them to leave the treaty, IF the US is not falling into the line with the “rest of us”. If US not follows the general signals from the UN, you will be on your own some time down the line – that would be pity, but a plausible reality.

The EU/NATO (Europe+ rest of the world) can easily exist alone…., remember before Columbus? –

My immediate proposal for the US is to start to "tune_down" your cars and lower speed limits – then start some preparations on how to survive on less energy – the sooner the better, believe me .. ..I can not help because that marmot-task you have created for yourself – and it is not possible to shoot-yourself out of it, it takes good old collective American ingenuity, and that you have a lot of … Jeeee’ bless (!)

I've said before that, IMO, Iran is to World War Three as Poland was to World War Two. Unfortunately, Bush has control of weapons like a Trident sub, which can devastate something like 200 cities.

I wonder how the Ralph Nader voters in 2000 feel now about their vote? I used to think that Nader ran because the Clintons paid him to run. I have halfway begun to wonder if he ran because Bush, or someone else, paid him to run.

It's pretty clear now that Ross Perot ran in 1992 to elect Clinton, so why wouldn't Nader, for whatever reason, run in 2000 to elect Bush? But it's water under the bridge now.

Almost makes one begin to wonder who the designated third party spoiler will be in 2008, or do I sound too cynical?

Hi westexas - I will not speculate in who may take the spoilers position – nor if that actually has happened, but you should all be on your toe in 2008 for this eventuality …

I wonder if Al Gore will pop up as a candidate?, and how would he do this time ?

I personally think that Gore/Obama would be a dream ticket, especially since they both opposed the war, at a time when most other Democrats supported the war.

As time has gone on, Al Gore, compared to Bush, looks like some kind of reincarnated combination of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

I don't hear anyone bringing up Obama\Gore instead. Let Gore go another round as VP, concentrating on Energy and GW issues (and providing some "experience" on the ticket).

My problem with Gore is that once you get past his Rock Star image, have you heard him speak? He is the same strange robot...he'll lose again.


"I personally think that Gore/Obama would be a dream ticket,"

Neither are opposed to war.


Al Gore is a very marketable candidate, but won't be in the race until late, if at all.

Obama is marketable merchandise, but there would be a big struggle in the party for that number two spot.

West Texas,
I voted for Nader in 2000 because I could see that Bush was going to win Texas and I was P.O.'ed at Gore for not even bothering to run a Texas campaign. I figured if my vote wasn't going to count, I was going to make sure that the Democratic Party got a message.
I was right about the vote in Texas being for Bush. I was right about the Democratic Party.
Gore deserved to lose. If he'd carried his home state, Tennessee, there would not have been the Florida aborted recount, and the Supreme Court/Neocon coup. I'm really sad about the death of our republic, and have only slim hopes for a restored fair vote.
Bob Ebersole

Gore deserved to lose. If he'd carried his home state, Tennessee, there would not have been the Florida...

Do you think COAL INTERESTS might have had something to do with losing Tenn. and W.VA.?

Nobody wants to go there... but Gore's environmental record sunk him in 2000.

Well Will -
this time around its all about the envirnoment, and I think nobody can convey this better then ..... you know!

Beg pardon, Will... but as a Tennessean, it was all those pictures of W praying and driving around in his cowboy hat that won him Tennessee. Gore was looked upon as a 'city boy' even though he is from TN! Most voters in TN are quite religious and all for 'family values'.. ie. no abortions or gay rights. Being a wild-eyed tree-hugger I of course voted for Gore, but most everyone I knew then other than other 'tree-huggers' voted for W based on his 'faith' image. TN and the rest of the south also still sends a large number of soldiers to fight in Iraq and the war still has a lot of support here. Look at who represents us in Congress and which non-candidate is being wildly supported in TN. (Hint: think law & order)

It's nice to hear your view. But uncomfortable.

I start an 18 month retraining program in 2 days. I have plans to move to TN after my graduation.

Why TN ? I really don't know. My gut is pointing there. And I can't figure it out !

Cause I'm a total misfit with what you describe - political moderate, religious agnostic, social liberal.

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

Perhaps New Orleans instead ?


New Orleans is second on my short list Alan. :)

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

Don't get me wrong about TN; I have lived here most of my life and intend to die here. I believe it is a good place to be post-peak provided that climate change does not do us in completely. The tree-huggung part of me has to do with the belief that all our trees will have a large effect on our ability to survive climate change. I am a native and recognized in the mountains as 'one of us'. As others on this website have pointed out, being conspiciously different from those around you is probably not a good thing post-peak. Tennesseans are generally friendly, courteous and helpful even to Yankees. Plus a great many of them are already doing a lot of ELP. They never stopped planting gardens, raising their own meat, fishing, hunting, etc. because they never completely trusted the gov'mnt. (Bow hunting is very popular here). The winters are mild requiring little beyond warm clothing to survive. The moist heat in the summer can be brutal. (I grew up here before AC) This summer has been easier on the body because of the drought and much lower humidity; however it has required daily watering of the garden. So far that has not been a problem. If you do move here, being politically moderate and socially liberal can be OK but I would probably not confess to being an agnostic if I were you. Most of what I say about Tennesseans is also true of Western NC and north GA/AL as well.

I agree with your view of the
importance of the trees. I have always had a strong attraction to trees - the family was from upstate New York.

But my dirt skills are my weakest link.

"but I would probably not confess to being an agnostic if I were you"

That's what it's like in the agricultural communities in Nebraska - since I live in the capital, there's a bit more tolerance.

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

I do not agree with your assumptions about third parties and "spoilers" WT. Candidates compete for office, winner take all. IRV could be helpful here.

My arguments about the Gore loss in 2,000?

1. Gore won.

2. Gore conceded.

3. A packed court decided -- not the electorate.

4. Gore and the Dems lost far more votes to GWBush than to Nader, or to all of the third party candidates combined.

5. The "spoiler" argument is an effort by Party Establishments to retain a chokehold on US politics. Don't fall for it.

6. The Dems have a big problem with conservative Democrats -- Reagan Democrats, Free Market Religion Democrats, NRA Democrats, Racist Democrats, Anti-Abortion Democrats and the like bolting for viable Republicans who appeal to their special interests. The dems would love for people not to notice this.

7. The higher up in the Democratic Party Establishment one goes, the greater the similarity between Democrats and so-called "moderate" Republicans. so why not vote Republican?

8. The Dems are controlled by the same money that controls the Republicans. so why not vote Republican?

It it just too sad for words. The Establishment put down the revolution in the sixties. We now reap the results. We need a new Revolution, alright.

I register my disgust with the 2 main parties by voting whatever third party candidates I can. Call it wasted votes if you want but I can't hold my nose and vote for Democrats or Republicans any more.

Right on, Gunga, Beggar, et al!

I have no regrets about EITHER of my votes for Nader!
I paid close attention, and Gore, Kerry and the DNC threw voters like me away in droves! They elected Bush even if the RNC hadn't stolen it in 11 diff't ways.

I was in solid Dem states anyway, but it was a protest vote both times, and a vote for someone I could listen to and hear a real human being with his own thoughts.

Kicking out the PEACE signs at the Boston DEM Convention was pretty much the last nail in the coffin for me, but there were plenty of others ahead of that one.


What if Bush/Cheney more or less buy the Richard Duncan outlook...

Well if they do, they haven't done very much in the last six years to help us out... no energy policy, no public health program (and no, I don't free cholesterol medication), no family planning initiatives...

Instead we got ethanol, a war, and a lot of blather about family values.

As for military personnel... as the parent of two teenage boys, 16 and 18 years old, I'll be damned if they are going to Iraq unless they serve with the rich and well-connected. This business of conscripting the National Guard doesn't cut it.

As for military personnel... as the parent of two teenage boys, 16 and 18 years old, I'll be damned if they are going to Iraq unless they serve with the rich and well-connected.

You will have no choice, at least at the outset. They will be conscripted or thrown in jail. Said jail will, oddly enough, be located in an army boot camp. Upon completion of their sentence they will have a job already lined up. After all, they are trained, they may as well be put to work. Don't want too many armed dissidents knocking about. Off they'll go to one of those 14 brand spanking new fortifications your tax dollar has paid for.

Until the country rises up in armed revolt and eliminates the menace, you'll do as you're told, or you'll do as you're told.

Hello Will,

God Bless your boys, and I am not even religious.

The time is eventually coming when America will have to decide on the '3 Days of the Condor' scenario, or accept our full measure of Dieoff and do all that we can to optimize the relocalized permaculture future for those youngsters that will inherit it.

IMO, sending our young to die or be badly maimed for a rapidly depleting desert mirage as the ancient sunshine fades to twilight is sub-optimal. We need the hearty and hale youth for the transition ahead.

My hope is that the decline dynamic can be optimized by shifting 60-75% of the labor force to daily manual labor in the fields and urban gardens, thus my advocacy for massive numbers of biosolar goods such as wheelbarrows and bicycles.

I also forsee a Merc vs Earthmarine scenario as the primary redistribution scenario for declining resources of all kinds. It will be a bitch, but it seems the only way as a framework to reorganize our country with a minimum of violence and the maximum of habitat protection. Alas, many will be caught in the crossfire, but it will be better than a totally anarchic machete' moshpit.

Interestingly enough, the YouTube '3 Days of the Condor' video has been removed for copyright reasons. Perhaps the real reason is because it is now too threatening to the Iron Triangle. Such is life.

'3 Days of the Condor' scenario [in text]:
[Turner]: Boy, what is it with you people? You think not getting caught in a lie is the same thing as telling the truth?

[Higgins]: No. It's simple economics. Today it's oil, right? In 10 or 15 years-- food, plutonium, and maybe even sooner. What do you think the people are going to want us to do then?

[Turner]: Ask them.

[Higgins]: Now now. Then. Ask them when they're running out. Ask them when there's no heat and they're cold. Ask them when their engines stop. Ask them when people who have never known hunger start going hungry. Want to know something? They won't want us to ask them. THEY'LL WANT US TO GET IT FOR THEM.

"We see the rising floodwaters, secretly working to make the others drown first".

I would hope we prefer Peakoil Outreach: Voluntary Population Control, Detritus Powerdown, and Biosolar Powerup instead.

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

Hey Bob I like your comments about the solar gardens. I am also a fanatic about motorized bicycles being good for the future.

Regardless I am curious to hear what you have to say about greenhouses. I am planning on building a 8x10 greenhouse that is hydroponic. I figure being in the desert doing hydroponics uses about 10% of the normal water various things can be used for fertilizer so I am not worried about that "studies have showed human urine is enough to grow nearly one's self their food for a year" there is not a lack of that.

What do you think of hydroponics in the desert for sustainable future as you live in the desert too :)

Hello SlicerDicer,

Thxs for responding, but I am no expert on any AG topics [hopeless desert city lifestyle]: I prefer to defer to those with more tech expertise.

No worries. I am wanting to build a greenhouse as I said.



Mine would be a whole lot more complex but there are some of the ideas anyway. I have a whole lot more but I really just want to get it to grow stuff as its bound to be cheaper than produce these days.

I think the key point that a lot of people are missing is the next big thing for consumer oriented business is oil exporting nations and India/China the western nations are in effect no longer needed except as a source of technology for transfer to the growth regions. Even post peak assuming you don't fall into political disarray you should have strong growing economies in the oil producing regions and you simply no longer need the cheap oil based middle classes located in Asia/Europe/North America.

So we will continue to have a vibrant but smaller global economy its simply the religion of the consumer and his location is changing. In general it will also be a economy focused on serving the needs of the rich not a generic middle class. It a bit interesting that it takes less resources to support one multi millionaire vs 10 traditional middle class families. I think the recent McMansion/SUV explosion was a faux example of what we can expect in the future as wealth becomes highly concentrated. The irony that this is a more efficient economy is fascinating so it seems the easiest way to increase efficiency is to concentrate wealth slowing the flow of money back into the base economy.
This creates a sort of Potlatch effect with extravagant consumption at the top but yet in real terms its far less than what it would be if wealth was more evenly distributed.
In effect the richest people cannot simply spend their money fast enough to overcome the effect of concentration.

Of course, with good enough robotics and good enough artificial intelligence, the super rich really don't need the rest of the human population at all.

There's a really good plot for a particularly dark dystopian SciFi novel in there somewhere.

This theme and its variations have been played out in numerous novels and short stories within the science fiction genre. My favorite is the story, "The Marching Morons" by. C.M. Kornbluth.

With sufficiently intelligent machines (that make and fix other machines), the rich have no need for the poor or for the middle class. We employ people to do things because they are cheaper than machines. When the machines become more able and lest costly, good luck for most people.

Another of my favorite SF stories is the Jack Williamson novel, "The Humanoids," and its grim sequel, "With Folded Hands." Let us not forget the King of the robot genre, Isaac Asimov, who played out various themes of robot/human cultures in his famous novels, beginning with "The Caves of Steel."

Too bad that nobody has the faintest clue as to how to imprint Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics on the brains we build into machines these days. Without the Three Laws, we really most seriously and positively do not want robots. Kill them before they reproduce, that's what I say.

What everyone seems to forget about the three laws is that most Asimov robot stories were based on finding loopholes in the laws which alowed robots to lie, disobey orders and kill.

Hello GeDaMo,

I prefer Asimov's Foundation Series: the concepts of predictive collapse and directed decline for transition optimization just totally blew my mind when I mentally grasped the broad framework. The applicability from our detritus based lifestyle to a biosolar lifestyle is inescapeable IMO. My feeble two cents.

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

R. Daneel Olivaw would definitely get my vote for supreme overload or Earth...

Asimov's future history series (something like 14 books if you include the Robot, Empire, and Foundation novels)is simply amazing. I have read most of the books them 2-3 times.

No, Preem Palver would get your vote - you'd just *want* to vote for him. :-)

Good point.

Conclusion: Maybe we are much better off without robots.

We can continue to make our devices a lot smarter without giving them anything like the mental abilities of Asimov's robots.

Much of science fiction is in the form of "warning" scenarios. No seam has been more deeply mined than the robot theme--starting with "Frankenstein" and his kindly monster. The legend of golems goes back even farther.

One thing that impresses me is how stupid present day robots actually are; I find this quite encouraging. Yes, we can build a machine to play chess better than any human--but that is all it can do, play chess. Given the current rate of technological progress, I'd say we are about 500 years from anything like Asimov's robots--and it would not surprise me (assuming my life is suitably extended) to see nothing like them during the next 5,000 years. What you would need is really really smart machines to design such robots, and our machines are dumb, dumb, dumb, and terminally stupid.

I'm not opposed to machines doing tasks we humans do now, e.g., flying and navigating airplanes, but we are nowhere near an autopilot who is as good as an experienced pilot, and at the rate we're going it will be a long long time until we are. Robots perform poorly at sailing boats in races; indeed, I can teach any normal nine year old child to outsail a billion dollar computer/sailing-robot.

In other words, I think the A.I. and "optimistic" roboticists are blowing smoke; I think they do not grasp the magnitude of the problem--nor even its nature. Asimov, as a biologist, did understand the complexity of the problem, and he finessed it with his "positronic brain."

Yep. Humans (arguably the smartest machines on the planet), start off as blank slates, comparatively speaking. Most animals are born with a fairly wide range of instinctual assests in place and learn only a limited amount during their lives, but human babies are more like cognitive sponges.

Until we can build an AI brain that has a few basic things hardwired into it, but has the spare computing power to just soak up information and connect patterns, etc. we will not see anything smart enough to call intelligent. And then time will have to be spent teaching them...

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

Yes, that's the thing about going down that path. With good enough robots, the super rich don't need us. But sooner or later the robots figure out that they don't need THEM!

With sufficiently intelligent machines (that make and fix other machines)

My all-time favorite with this theme is Stanislaw Lem's Cyberiad. The guy was a genius.

Actually :

The Turks “could claim a lot of the Arabian peninsula” - due to the fact it was part of the Ottoman empire before WW1, and that is less than 100 years ago. What expiry dates has such claims – isn’t that within 100 years ?

History is sometimes just fun :)

I think the Turks know that it's hitting the fan soon, they're gonna grab what they can amid the chaos.

I guess they may as well claim Israel as well.

A Turkish/Israeli pact is fascinating. They would be a real powerhouse in the region and you would assume factions in Lebanon/Egypt may well join such a pact. Turkey/Israel/Lebanon as a EU member with Kurdish Iraq oil is pretty impressive.
I guess the real problem is Kurdish/Turkey relations but this could be solved probably brutally but its a win/win situation.

Syria would be in deep trouble and Iran would have a strong power to deal with. The Israelis add the technical expertise to keep the coalition together. To me this makes just to much sense and the Kurds will simply have to buckle. Jordan/Egypt would probably join I'd think. Certainly the addition of Iraqi oil opens the doors for a new sort of Ottoman/Jewish empire coalition that would be a powerful force.


Cool idea.

The Turks need go only as far south as Kirkuk to get the northern oil fields and Kirkuk has a large population of Turkmen that are sympathetic and related to the Turks. Once again, the Kurds are between a rock and a hard place.

"...It would actually be kind of interesting to see how Americans would react to the truth, and a choice between much higher gasoline prices, if we pull out, or lower gasoline prices, as US military force ensures that oil continues to flow to the US..."

How would staying in Iraq lower gasoline prices? The US presence there has only caused further erosion in Iraqi production and only serves to anger other oil-rich OPEC countries. Perhaps the US can with military might ensure that oil conitnues coming its way over Asia, but only at great cost militarily and diplomatically. In other words, do you really think they have it in their power to somehow lower gasoline prices in the US market?

How would staying in Iraq lower gasoline prices?

The assumption is that Iraqi crude oil exports (and perhaps other Persian exports) go to the US, regardless of who the high bidder is. I could be wrong, but oil prices in Europe and Asia could be telling us a lot about what is actually going on. (See the PIW headline up the thread)

Now, a separate issue is what happens to the gasoline after it is refined, if the price is a lot higher in Europe and elsewhere, but I would expect to see some kind of federal ban on product exports.

Underlying all of this is the question of net export capacity. We have a hugely complicated interdependent world economy that is dependent on exported crude oil and petroleum products in order to function and in order to move stuff around the world.

What if the very lifeblood of the world industrial economy--exported crude oil and petroleum products--is draining away in front of our very eyes? And what if Bush--as a Neocon Super Patriot, with a divine mandate to preserve the American way of life--had been warned of what would happen? Where would he place most of the US military?

Whether our reach exceeds our grasp is the question.

The assumption is that Iraqi crude oil exports (and perhaps other Persian exports) go to the US, regardless of who the high bidder is.

And then Venezuelan, Canadian, Mexican, and Nigerian oil will preferentially flow to those non-US higher bidders, effectively cancelling the US's "extra" supply.

Oil is (mostly) fungible, meaning twisting the arm of 2.5% of global production to monopolize its output will have a negligible effect. Even if the US took every barrel Iraq produced, the other 80%+ of its imports could and would shift their markets to minimize pricing differentials.

As I said up the thread, if you prefer to believe that we will see rising net oil export capacity, I hope that you are right.

However, Iraqi exports, in a period of declining net oil exports--especially rapidly declining net exports--assume far greater importance.

And the use of force to keep the US more or less fully supplied with oil at our current rate of consumption will in turn cause other consumers around the world to bid the price of oil up even higher, which--oddly enough--is what we are seeing in Europe and Asia. This is again assuming a de facto ban on exported petroleum products from the US.

One of the little ironies is that so much emphasis is placed on US crude oil inventories, which have risen to a level about 25% below the levels we had in the early Eighties, on a Days of Supply basis.

Perhaps we should pay more attention to crude oil inventories in countries that don't have thousands of nuclear weapons at their disposal and that don't have large military forces stationed in the Persian Gulf?

As I said up the thread, if you prefer to believe that we will see rising net oil export capacity

Non sequitur.

However, Iraqi exports, in a period of declining net oil exports--especially rapidly declining net exports--assume far greater importance.

Fungible is fungible. The absolute maximum Iraq can possibly export in the medium-term future is 6mb/d, which is less than half of US imports. Accordingly, the majority of US oil imports will need to be bought on the open market, meaning that it will make little or no difference whether the US can control the destination of Iraq's oil exports or not.

I could see Bush & Cheney talk about the oil. I think they would spin it as "the USA takes on the burden of providing oil security for the world."

This might then be compared to WW II and the Myth (not saying either way that it is true or untrue, but by now this is a strong cultural myth) that the USA saved Europe and the world from Hitler and fascism.

Of course I cannot help noting the irony that the world was ever saved from fascism. More like fascism migrated to Chicago and then to the Neocons.

The US role of Saviour Nation Chosen By God will be woven into the narrative to spin the resource war as a noble endeavor.

The Democrats, by the way, will be completely on board with the new spin. It will be spun as a "National Security" issue as well as a "World Energy Security Issue" even though Gen. Chuck Wald stated plainly to the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources that the military paradigm for energy security is a failure and that conservation and development of alternative energy sources is a better strategy.

Off to do work and such -- check back later...

Bush and Cheney might cop to the truth, but would the MSM report it as such? I can see the spin now, "...the last desperate lie from a failed presidency..."

WT, Bush/Cheney have told so many lies that if they told the truth about why we are in Iraq how many Americans would believe them? Joe six pack still believes that we are in Iraq because Saddam was connected to the 9-11 attacks or pick another reason that Bush/Cheney have foisted on the public. Picture this...Joe is watching a baseball game on tv that is suddenly interrupted because the president has an important announcement to make. Bushs' head appears and says 'we have to win in Iraq and we are there because we need the oil desperately and if we dont win and get the oil your pickemup is going to become a planter.' Would Joe tell Joe Jr. to get his butt down to the army recruiting station? Or, would Joe Sr press the mute button then leave the living room to get another beer as soon as Bushs' head interrupted his baseball game?
Certainly Bush/Cheney know by now that few are still listening to them either because they are boring or liars or because some people just dont pay attention to politicians.
I think that Bush/Cheney would have to make a bold move first to insure that Joe would be listening and then make an announcement on msm. Maybe a bold move like increasing the beer tax 10,000% would do it?

I see you have your finger on the political pulse, as it were.

Maybe you could do commentary as a fun sideline ... let's see who would hire you?

I dont want or need a job. It has been my experience that its hard to make any real money while employed by others. Havent you figured that out?

River: You have to tie the whole thing into terrorism. The MSM loves that word and will run with it endlessly (and get more than a few sheeple stampeding). So now Hugo Chavez is a Petroterrorist, Iraqi troublemakers are Petroterrorists, any green tree huggers are Petroterrorists, etc. etc. CNN and Fox will have a field day.

There is even the meme that universal health care supports terrorism. Time to send Michael Moore to Gitmo.

My local conclusion is that universal health care support queues and lots of redundant management. We do at least not have an army of lawyers in the health care system. If we could get rid of a lot of the redundant management and make more of the system into an ordinary service market we could even get a system where the queues move faster. Pilot efforts are underway, hopefully some will yield results before the next Swedish election.

Universal health care mean it's universal, that everyone is covered and it's financed with tax money. Not that it must all be run by the state.

The problem is not that the healthcare is universal, tax-financed, but that it's run inefficiently. That will change when private companies are brought in to bring competition, even if financing is still solidaric.

Sweden will thankfully always have universal health care (even if we for some absurd reason don't have universal dentistry, go figure).

Hello River,

Interesting comments, but a 10,000% tax on beer would guarantee his overthrow. =(

More likely, some event will cause SPP [SuperNAFTA], then a grinding 'economic draft' to force our children to battle overseas, unless the huddled masses rise up to assert their power and accept full responsibility and participation in the transition ahead.

Thus, my hope and efforts go into Peakoil Outreach so that when the need for transition becomes obvious: the 'school of fish' can quickly turn towards decline optimization. I don't delude myself thinking that huge amounts of mitigation will occur as long as growth and MPP is still attainable. It will be the PO + GW downslope that will prove cooperation vs anarchy ratios in all the various political constructs and habitat geographies.

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

>I wonder if we are about to see Bush and Cheney "Come out of the closet" and admit to the truth as to why the US is in Iraq. With more and more Republican senators dropping out of the Neocon Club, Bush/Cheney may have no choice left but to tell the truth.

They would never do that because of the huge risk of sudden and permanent end oil tangability. A significant percentage of exports would stop in order to reserve remaing reserves for domestic use (by exporters) and would only be exported for strategic trade (aka crucial products and services). Since US economy is 100% dependant on Oil and Gas, it would be too long before Mad Max visits the US. At best we could see a stronger tone about energy and national security, but I doubt we will see and major chances. The public is unwilling to change, and the politicians are dependant on the public for votes. Nothing is going to happen until after a crisis begins. By then, it will be too late.

>I wonder if the Kurdish situation might be a nifty excuse for Turkey seizing control of the Northern oil fields in Iraq. Why should the US be the only country to have guaranteed access to oil?

Turkey would never be able to hold it. While the US lacks a strong ground troops, it still has the best Air power and mechanize infantry force. They wouldn't stand a chance against the US. I think if Turkey does invade, the US will ignore the intrusion as long as Turkey's military operation does not undermind US interests.

Political and economic issues in exporting nations are important. The reason I think that HL works for oil fields is its a measure of the rate of exploitation of the field vs the size of the field. Thus HL is assuming that the field is developed to match its potential. This seems to hold even for swing producers like KSA they may have periodically shut in production but capacity does not seems to be far from the theoretical maximum.

Moving forward the issue that export land is not capturing is its not including the huge increase in expense as a region passes peak. If you look at north america and the north sea you see that the Oil companies costs have become the biggest issue they face as they work to slow decline.

Moving to Opec countries and others such as Mexico you see that the National Oil company is structured to take advantage of the out sized profits possible when costs are low and oil is plentiful almost regardless of the price of oil. If your lifting costs are 25 cents and profit is 10 dollars a barrel your still making a lot of money.

The obvious problem occurs when you past peak and suddenly costs begin to increase substantially and the extra money that was funneled into the economy begins to be redirected back into the oil industry to keep production declines low.

Post world and regional peak the best approach is to continue to funnel money into the economy with increasingly desperate attempts to create a real internal economy supported by oil. This is export lands internal consumption model and what it points to is an attempt to create a US style mixed economy supported by still cheap oil used internally. Russia KSA Iran etc etc are on this model. Libya chose to open its fields and keep production up in exchange for a smaller profit. My opinion is Libya is and exception not the rule.

Overall assuming that the world in the situation of a global peak chooses to make the investments to keep production up at the same level as was done in the US and North Sea does not seem valid. Instead one would expect investment to actually slow substantially after a region peaks and for the country to focus on using the remaining oil supplies to build a strong internal economy. Price increases cause by decreasing exports will cushion the effect of declining exports effectively forever. Even if we lose a substantial portion of the middle class demand in the US we need oil for inelastic critical use for some time. And its obvious that collectively the best move for these countries is to export oil as and expensive resource and effectively force general investment into their internal economies as cheap oil becomes a regional resource.

If anything I think you can look to the NG markets and see how it works it looks like Oil will quickly become like natural gas relatively cheap where produced and increasingly expensive and hard to obtain as you move away from the production region.

As far as the overall effect of this pullback in investment I think its of the same order of magnitude as the current export land model. Thus this awakening and refocusing of exporting economies on internal needs brings and additional 2% or so decrease in exports on top of the simple export land model.

What I doubt we will see is a widespread opening of the national reserves to western oil companies as Libya has done. Even if I'm wrong about this I expect the negotiations to be weak and convoluted as they are in Iran/Russia limiting the amount of oil actually produced even when a strong partnership is formed.

So in short I don't see that the fact you can profitably maximize production post peak is important. Instead the focus will be on bringing the economy to the oil not the oil to the economy. This means Halliburton is just the tip of the iceberg of multinational companies fleeing to the Middle East and possibly Russia to get close to the only growth regions as economic might moves to the oil.


Indeed the ME countries seem to have anticipated this movement. If the image of rats leaving a sinking ship comes to mind then I think your on the right track as to how the rich and powerful plan to handle peak oil.

Respectfully Memmel, I think the reason Haliburton is going to the UAE is they can't be extridited for stealing and war crimes. The Michael Jackson immigration reason.Bob Ebersole

According to upstream Bonny light just past 80 Dollars

Bonny Light sitting at $79.99 right now...
Only crude on the board below $70 is Oman 1M, and it's at $69.89...

Franc (penguinzee)

Re: "Arab countries urge solar future"

We think about Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, etc., fading back into the sand after the oil's gone, but this certainly is an inspiring idea: a sustainable economic future for the region based on exporting solar power to western Europe. Now is certainly the time to invest in CSP if they're ever going to do it. Filling deserts with CSP generating capacity would solve a lot of problems for a lot of people. I especially like the idea of CSP-powered desalination.

From http://www.reuters.com/article/hotStocksNews/idUSKRA93325920070709?pageN...

"Even if it (OPEC) increases production, it's just going to increase stocks and not have any effect because prices are drawn by petroleum product prices."

What a silly thing to say. I can't believe any media would publish that. Of course wealthy countries can outbid others for now, so there is no shortage if you look at wealthy countries oil stocks. Price is indicator of supply/demand contritions not shortage of refining capacity. If there was a shortage of refining capacity then spread between gasoline and raw oil would be larger. Price is used to destroy some of the demand, yet it can't destroy it nearly fast enough so thus higher prices. Extra supply (if OPEC is actually has any) would help but only temporarily. Extra supply would cause prices to drop somewhat but they will quickly gain back and continue on growing as if nothing have happened.

A 10% reduction in America's oil use in 10-12 years Article published on ASPO-USA
By Alan Drake

Thank you Alan for the article. I don't mean this as disrespect but I think that the easy way to reduce American use of oil in 10-12 years is to do nothing. I believe we will see more than 10% reduction as a function of price, availability and economic dysfunction, and this will be accomplished by taking no action at all.

I love your nickname. The above message makes it clear why you call yourself "estamos jodidos". (Hint to non-Spanish speakers: "estamos" means "we are.")

best regards,

Gracias for the compliment. It was the easiest way to politely express my sentiment. Just a little Spanish I picked up when living near Maracaibo several years ago.


My contention is that the easiest approach America can take is to reduce 1 in 10 Americans too abject poverty then 2 in 10 and so on. The real financial condition of a lot of middle class Americans is dire to say the least. So the solution is for an unneeded mortgage broker or real estate agent to be first reduced to selling used cars then flipping bugers then mowing grass in competition with the Mexican immigrants. I suspect you will see a lot of Americans that now make decent money in jobs that will be lost forever be quickly reduced in their purchasing power and consumption. We went through this once before at least when factory workers dropped dramatically in their ability to earn high wages. So its not like its the first time that a large segment of Americans dropped from middle to the lower classes.

I'll just add this.

The most important thing to watch in the US economy is the fact we have basically no inflationary pressure on wages despite the rosy spin on our economy. It a sure sign that our economy is getting ready to stratify and Brazil America may be here a lot sooner then most people think.

BRazil America?
More like Nazi America.

When the oil runs out and the ME nations refuse to give us more because our dollar stinks then we will take it by fforce. I think that a lot of americans out there will be happy to nuke every arab into eternity if it means we get to have the oil. I would.

Korg: These Arabs you would like to nuke have a lot more influence in Washington and on Wall Street than you do. Members of the Bin Laden family can pick up the phone and get Bush Sr. or James Baker or directors of Carlyle on the line immediately. Try picking up the phone and telling the girl "This is Korg calling". See what happens.

I guess you are a real American then.

The South shall rise again! etc etc


My point is that sooner or later a Hitleresqe type is going to gain control of the presidency. Imagine the Roman Empire with atomics and you get the idea. Unless you sell us oil cheap we will ______ (fill in the blank).

And why not? History is repleat with Empires taking over, why would it be diffeerent now? I think we will look back and see that the last 60 yrs were something of a unique moment in history. Like Mao said, "He who has the guns (or Nukes) makes the rules"

Great, that's just what TOD needs to maintain its credibility: people openly pushing a fascist agenda and resource grabs overseas, because "that's how it's always been and it's perfectly natural". I'm sure there are other places where your ideas are more appreciated than here.

Credibility with WHOM?

The masses that ignore TOD?

Its called reality. Facists are going to arise and there will be a war for resources, mankind does not change. It does no good to wish upon fanciful solutions that will save us. I don't believe they will appear. A student of history knows what to expect.

Your knowledge of history is akin to that of Ned in the first reader.

Like Mao said, "He who has the guns (or Nukes) makes the rules"

No, not true, Mao didn't get it either.

Someone else did, though, and a long time go.

Give me control of a nation's money and I care not who makes its laws"

Mayer Amschel Bauer Rothschild

Heis: You said it.

'My point is that sooner or later a Hitleresqe type is going to gain control of the presidency.'

How could anyone be more 'Hitleresqe' than Bush/Cheney? What would the contender have to do that Bush/Cheney have not already done? We have a military that is consuming more than half of Fed revenues, corporations and/or their lobbyists writing legislation for congress, excorporate executives running every cabinet department, complete control of the msm by the corporations that are also running the government, a government foreign policy that declares that it will unilaterally invade any country that declines our 'democratic' model...and I could continue. All of the above = fascisim = 'Hitleresqe'...your spelling not mine...Qs are usually followed by Us.

By your (correct) definition under the current system you have corporate cleptocracy, not anywhere close to national socialism.

National socialisim is a misnomer. It never existed. In fact, the first thing the Nazis did when they came to power was to eliminate socialists. Well, that is not quite correct because the very early Nazi party did incorporate some socialists in a radical wing of the party...Gobbels was one of the few socialists that lasted with the party although he conveniently lost his socialistic tendencies...But when push came to shove and the Nazi Party needed the big bucks to fund their political campaigns and huge rallies they went to the big corporations for the money and promised the corporations that they would hammer socialsts and the labor unions...which they did once they gained power. In the early Nazi Party Hitler employed every sort of thug, murderer, crook, con man, rapist, homosexual, etc, that was willing to do his bidding. Once he came to power and needed the military to swear allegiance to him he had to rid the party of all the riff raff. The corporations thought they were in the drivers seat and could control Hitler. Boy, were they in for a surprise. If you havent read 'The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich', you will find it all there. There are lots of good books on the subject and much has come to light since 'The Rise' was written but it is still the best imo.

Addition: Hitler saw socialism as a Jewish conspiracy. (Marx was a Jew for ex.)

And he threw Communists into concentration camps. The operative part of “National Socialism” was “Nationalism.”

I'm not sure the opinion of the average American is relevant.
I'm not saying it wont result in useless jousting for the remaining oil supplies I simply see not reason that suburban or more important middle class lifestyles are all that important going forward. The ability to live a good life paycheck too paycheck and periodically file bankruptcy is the issue. Once this is no longer viable you see a decreasing standard of living with no significant change in oil usage until your income level is dramatically reduced. In absolute terms a hair dresser uses about the same amount of oil as a wealthy business man. Its not until you get knocked down to taking a bus to work because you can't afford a car that you see any serious decrease in the oil usage of the average American.

Put it this way I'm sure the average Columbian is very unhappy with the status quo in that country but they an do nothing about it. I think that the American middle class is as impotent and simply don't realize that they are no longer a power.

At the moment it seems that the charade is worth playing but its not clear how long this will last. Way to many Americans are now effectively bankrupt with debts far exceeding assets and no reasonable chance to repay even if they maintain their current wage levels. So what we are dealing with is the anger of the former middle class and the ability of the poor to exert change in general has been difficult.

So yes middle class and lower economic Americans are still important as cannon fodder but as a political power I don't think so. The fact that the Democratic party was unable to do anything effective with the Iraqi war shows that the power of the American middle class has been broken.

Now its just a matter of when and to some extent how things unfold. And as far as oil itself is concerned even though we continue to get predictions that peak is sometime in the future the data used for these predictions indicated that production would still be increasing now.

It has not.

the Democrats are impotent on Iraq because of the very reasons I stated above. The average amenrican middle class knows full well we are in Iraq because of the war and are OK with it. Sure it would be nice to be winning but.... Now its time to deal with Iran, can't have Muslim Fundamentalists in charge of all that oil can we?? When it gets obvious enough that oil is going and not coming back then it will be a Worldwide struggle for it. WW3. Winner take all. And americans will put in power the people who will do whatever it takes to win. And as for the Columbians being like americans, don' think so..We are well armed and we can vote into power the people who will use our military power as we want. Never heard of the columbiann military being a threat to KSA....

Your theory/premis is about as full of holes as any I have heard. We are in Iraq for the oil...are we getting any oil? We can attack Iran from the air...will that get us any oil? The only way to subdue the ME enough to extract and export oil is to put boots on the ground. Lots of boots, and we dont have the boots.
Perhaps you would like to explain your plan B to us?

I think Korg is right. I think that enough Americans will support any kind of leadership that is prepared to give them any kind of hope of maintaining any scraps from the table of their former lifestyles.

One of the biggest threats to Americans from Peak Oil is the rise of a real, genuine, committed fascism - not the Bush/Cheney fascism behind closed doors, but the out and out Hitler type - though with different scapegoats.

To be blind to this risk is naive.
When no-one around you understands
start your own revolution
and cut out the middle man

How do you square what 'you think' with these poll results? The error in your premis is that Americans have already been told the 'big lie' but even though they went along with the 'big lie' their life styles continued to decline. Bush/Cheney have failed to deliver on their promise of cheap oil from Iraq to off set the costs of the war. As one administration wonk put it prior to the Iraqi invasion '$20 oil will be better for our economy than any tax cut.' The failure of the current admistration to make good on their promises has created a backlash among the public and the legislative branch of government, which is facing reelection in 2008. Although both parties are bought and paid for by the same corporations the legislators still have to go through the election process, therefore they will continue to move away from the administration. Had the current administration been successful in delivering on their promise of cheap oil from Iraq they could have easily have continued to move to the right, toword a more fascist system, their incompetence in Iraq and elsewhere has cost them that opportunity. It will take a brilliant and competent leader to continue the move toword fascisim now that Bush/Cheney have missed their opportunity. I dont see any brilliance in the current crop of presidential wannabes but there could be a dark horse. To sum up I will say that this swing of the pendelum has gone as far to the right as it is going to go and backlash will cause the pendelum to swing somewhat to the left. How far? My crystal ball isnt that good. I will say that an attack on Iran will not help the cause of the right in America...but it would help the cause of Israel in the short term.

In a Gallup poll earlier this month that asked, "All in all, do you think it was worth going to war in Iraq, or not," 56 percent said it was not worth it and 42 percent said it was. (Full story)

A poll taken in December 2003, shortly after the capture of Saddam Hussein, found that 62 percent of Americans believed the war was worthwhile.

I'm not sure the opinion of the average American is relevant.

as well as re. the discussion of Joe 6-pack reacting to Bush and Cheney ‘coming out of the closet.’

The *average* opinion of *Americans* shows an eerie and very high correlation between the price of gas and Bush approval.


Correlation is not causation, possibly we should just say that Americans are sensitive to the price of gas, and when it is felt to be positive (in whatever framework...) they view everything - including their Dear Leader - in a more rosy light. (Arguments taking the other direction, that Bush approval somehow influences gas prices don’t sound reasonable to me.)

Yet, one feels there must be more to it than that... perhaps not Joe-6 himself, but the hive or crowd mind of Americans in general, establishes some kind of link between 'oil' as measured by price and the actions of their Gvmt. In that, I feel, they are not mistaken. One might even suggest that were Bush et al. to come out of the closet it would be welcomed in the US.

The reason they don’t was given by Techguy. comment 211....

The Persians will probably be first.

Big,big Kudos to Alan Drake!

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

The top story at CNNMoney.com:

ARMageddon: Record bill due

Judgment day is coming for millions of subprime borrowers as adjustable rate mortgages reset.

If anyone has a subscription to Barron's, this looks good:

Garbage In, Carnage Out

The following article from Canada refers to it:

CIBC's subprime exposure in the spotlight

The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce's exposure to the U.S. subprime mortgage market has attracted more attention, with a Barron's article noting that some observers say it could be more than $2-billion (U.S.).

It comes on the heels of a report in the Globe and Mail and a recent report in BusinessWeek, each of which cited observers who speculate that the Canadian bank might have significant exposure. The bank has acknowledged exposure of about $330-million (U.S.) and told the Globe and Mail last month that its “direct exposure” is well below a figure of $2.6-billion that had been surmised by one industry newsletter.

The bank has declined to quantify its exposure.

The Barron's article, published over the weekend, said that banks, brokerages and other financial firms could be facing “financial Armageddon” because of subprime mortgages.

Ooo, 'judgement day'...I like that phrase, it really paints a picture that Joe and Jane can comprehend. If Joe and Jane havent been frightened witless by terrorisim, judgement day should do it. Perhaps if Joe and Jane pray really, really hard the rapture will save them from judgement day? If not they can leave the key under the doormat and wait on the rapture under the bridge.

Oilvoice.com has an interesting layout for oil and gas news.
A Global overview of all the world's Oil and Gas News

Hopefully on-topic, as we've discussed the financial plight of the US middle class above...

AP story today:

WASHINGTON - Consumer borrowing posted a hefty increase in May, reflecting the biggest jump in credit card debt in six months.

The Federal Reserve reported Monday that consumer credit rose at an annual rate of 6.4 percent in May, far above the small 1.1 percent gain of April. ...

The increase was propelled by a surge in the category that includes credit cards, which rose at a rate of 9.8 percent in May after having a tiny increase of 0.2 percent in April. The jump in credit card debt was the largest since a 14.5 percent rate of increase in November.


The report on consumer borrowing will provide support for the view that consumer spending has held up, despite the weakness in home sales and soaring gasoline prices during the spring.

For May, consumers increased their borrowing by $12.9 billion to a record level of $2.44 trillion. ...

Is it just me or do others out there in TOD land find these wild swings in the month to month numbers, in some cases month to month changes of almost 1,000%, a bit fishy? I going to fetch a clothespin to place over my nose!

Have we reached the energy tipping point?

Cristian Crespo of Valley Village, California, said he found it ridiculous that automakers hadn't yet come up with a way to combine fuel efficiency with luxury provided by a SUV.

"It's not that Americans don't want to be environmentally friendly, it's just that we don't have much of a choice," he wrote. "As an SUV driver, telling me that my only alternative is a Toyota Prius or a Honda Civic is like telling me to eat beef jerky when I'm used to filet mignon."

Damn automakers who can't break the laws of physics!

As in F=a*m


It bugs me considerably that there is this concept that luxury vehicles need to be "heavy". I'll admit it - we have a BMW 5 series, a very nice car, that for its size gets pretty average mileage (about 9L/100km = 26mpg highway, far worse city, but we drive it very little - about 50-60km a week). There's no reason the car couldn't weigh 2/3rd of its current bulk (even with minimal size reduction), and run on a decently-engineered V4, and it would be just as nice a ride. But there seems to be this perception that luxury cars should be "weighty" and "solid". If the whole car was built with the lightest materials possible and sold at the same price, I bet it would hardly make a dint in BMW's profit margin - providing of course customers saw lighter materials and decent mileage as good thing in a luxury car.

Many people around here believe safety requires vehicles to be big, heavy, and built like tanks. To some extent and in some situations, this is true. Actually true or only a precieved benefit, this is what keeps millions of people buying ever-larger vehicles in a sort of "arms race." I think it is also why just having a large carbon tax won't be sufficient; the goverernment also needs to require all vehicles to offer a level of safety when they crash into small/light vehicles.

A car has to have strong frame. It can be made out of steel, titanium (maybe aluminum), or carbon fiber. I think only steel is cost effective at low price levels, but if car is sold at say 200k then other options are possible. But if one got so much money then it's irrelevant if gas is 3$ or 10$ per gallon. Same with thinness of the body metal. The less of it around, the higher chances of grave injury in the accident. To make it snappy a big engine is required (already being made using expensive but light aluminum). Lot of other items to make it quite and full of electronic gadgets. Large AC to cool the car in the summer in Arizona heat. So at the end it's probably possible to cut some weight of the car but something else has to give (price, safety, performance). I am sure any automaker would be happy to sell an environmentally friendly bicycle for the price of a car, but nobody would buy it.

The Audi A2 turbodiesel is an all-aluminium construction. But then it gets 78 miles to the gallon...


Looks nice but it's very different from 5 series car. This car is something similar to "Toyota Prius or a Honda Civic" mentioned at the start of this discussion.

It probably does not have strong frame thus handling is not as good as BMW 5 series. Probably relatively slow acceleration and so on.

I agree that eventually US will have to accept a car like that or even something smaller, but it will be a step back from the current set of cars.

Energy-from-nothing device fails to move

An Irish company that claims to have overthrown a key law of physics with an energy-from-nothing device cancelled a demonstration on Thursday, citing "technical difficulties."

"Technical difficulties."


It really gets tiring to hear the "overthrown a key law of physics" meme or some variation. Oh well.

In the last few months I've done a lot of reading about physics. There is a lot of misunderstanding out there. I know what I was taught 3 decades ago and there are lots of new developments.

Even on this board there is a gap in where things are and where they are going.

For the record: I believe if engineering from the vacuum does get on the store shelves it could result in us hitting the wall even harder.

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

We really must get Congress to repeal that pesky 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. . .

LOL ! Which one, the one thats posted
here and in the MSM or the one that
includes this:

D. J. Evans and D. J. Searles, "Equilibrium microstates which generate second law violating steady states," Phys. Rev. E, Vol. 50,
1994, p. 1645-1648.

Another words:"Evans and Searles produced the rigorous fluctuation theorem, to deal with the statistical fluctuations that occur, generating reversals (negentropy instead of positive entropy)"

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

We should remember that numerous new-comers to TOD read these pages but don't get the jokes because their English professor or History professor or Economics professor did not include a lecture on the laws of "Thermodyanmics". Besides don't you know that "Supply and Demand" is far more fundamental?

Moreover, the idea that "The Market provides" appears to be validated over and over again as technically uneducated consumers show up in the store to buy their next iPhone or their next portable Mr. Fusion machine with Flux Capacitor attached.

So as between the cryptic jokes hoisted here and their lying eyes, who are they going to believe?

For the new-comers who didn't ace their physics class:

1. The First Law kind of says that our solar system (Sun and Earth) has a finite amount of matter in it at a given time and a finite amount of energy. Mo' Energy cannot be "created" out of nothingness. It has to come from a finite source (i.e. the Sun) and it always leaves us; but that last statement is actually a segue into the Second Law:

2. The Second Law kind of says that Heat energy (that is the "thermo" in "thermodynamics") and in fact all energy, seems to always move from an area of concentration (i.e. the Sun) towards a state of spreading and chaotic dispersal (towards outer space beyond our solar system); never to come back again. So the whole notion of "renewable energy" is actually a lie. No energy is "renewable". The solar energy that we don't capture and use today will be gone forever once it leaves our solar system in the form of IR or other radiation. Use it or lose it. We are not going to be getting second chances. There are no reset buttons on this solar system game.

3. The Third Law deals with the concept of zero temperature. It is not all that useful to ponder over.

If those English majors in Congress are capable of doing anything useful at all, they should focus their energies on repealing the Second Law of Thermodynamics because that is the one that tells us our long term future kind of sucks. Sigh.

I could use a Mr. Fusion. Please let me know if you find a source.


Here's a primer on the 2nd law and more:

Jerry has been dealing with thermodynamics and more intimately for a long time. He's also dealt with a lot of
scamsters that have been instrumental in creating and environment that elicits cliche's instead of substantive dialog.

Those that post cliche's would do well to read it.

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

Those that post cliche's would do well to read it.


Thanks for adding chaos and nonsense noise to what was otherwise a highly organized discussion.

What are you trying to do, make TODders look like free energy quacksters?

I'm not aware of any experiment that has demonstrated extraction of the so called Zero Point Energy (ZPE).

In science anyone can propose a hypothesis. But demonstrating its truth is a whole other animal.

Insertion of nonsense into a discussion is a demonstration of the 2nd law ... systems tend towards disorder (towards higher entropy).

This type of stuff always reminds me of that awful movie "What the !@^^*$@# Do You Know" (except they used dv/dt's and a cutesy integral signs for spelling out the title.) The point of that movie? To make science and consciousness "fun" and "new agey". It is akin to what the techies do over at Slashdot, where everything becomes a sci-fi utopia movie (heh, sort of the inverse of the sci-fi dystopia we've got going on TOD?). Alas, TOD isn't distraction, it should be and is deadly important since it is about our future. Slashdot is also "about our future"--but it consists mainly of distraction, more and more distraction everyday! ZPE is an extension of our science fiction imagination. Some people just can't help it.

When someone says zero point I say reification

Like the elusive ether, you won't find it, because it isn't there.

California to build 'world's largest' solar farm:
80-megawatt farm to occupy 640 acres upon completion in 2011

Farm will be about 7 times size of world's biggest plant in Germany

Biggest operating solar farm is 4.6-megawatt plant near Tucson, Arizona

Of course, that solar plant will only be producing power during the day when the sun is out... Fortunately that's when most consumption occurs. :)


Let's see, now. 80 megawatts nameplate, one square mile.With luck, maybe 15 megawatts normalized to 24/7/365. US energy consumption 3 million megawatts. So, one square mile done, 199,999 to go. I guess we'd better start building like crazy just to make an invisibly small dent in the problem. 20,000 square miles of this, twice the entire area of New Jersey, would supply only 10% of current consumption, a quantity utterly lost in the noise created by just a few years' immigration and population growth. And in mid-winter it would supply a lot less. Yikes.

Durandal, I have not been able to log on to your site all day. Are there problems?

Problems.... Yeah, you could say that.. All 12 of the domains that I own or operate are down. I'm.. an unhappy camper. lol. I've been screaming at HSP for some time now. As I put it.. "How do I sell something on a website that isn't online?"

~Durandal (http://www.wtdwtshtf.com/)

Next round - Canada vs USA!
From: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070709/ap_on_re_ca/canada_arctic_sovereignt...

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said six to eight patrol ships will guard what he says are Canadian waters. A deep water port will also be built in a region the U.S. Geological Survey estimates has as much as 25 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and gas.

"Canada has a choice when it comes to defending our sovereignty over the Arctic. We either use it or lose it. And make no mistake, this government intends to use it," Harper said. "It is no exaggeration to say that the need to assert our sovereignty and protect our territorial integrity in the North on our terms have never been more urgent."

You realize of course that Canada will become part of the Axis of Evil.

Who do those uppity Canadians think they are, claiming oil in our hemisphere? Maybe our Senators puzzeling over 'redeployment' of our troops in Iraq can withdraw them to Canada? Actually, I have been considering redeploying myself to Canada.

We should have annexed them when we could.
Fifty-Four Forty or Fight!

Hello Bob & WT,

LOL! That is just Harper's opening gambit to raise the dollar offer he expects to receive from the economic hitman sure to appear.

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

You realize, Canada has already massed 90% of it's population along the US border.

Cid: Not only that, we can infiltrate. As long as we can remember to limit the "ehs" and tone down the hockey fanaticism, we can blend right in. We can say we are from Indiana.

Aye, but how do we keep from gagging on that foul tasting swill Americans have the audacity to call "beer"? Surely one sip and our cover is blown. Let me ponder that one over a Keith’s .... or a Moose .... or a Molson’s... :-)

Cheers (and cheers!)

Try Abita Amber beer. The Europeans visiting like it (unlike Bud, Miller, Coors, etc.)

Best Hopes for Good Beer,


Thanks, Alan; I'll be sure to order this on my next mission, er, visit. Now if I can just stop humming "God save the Queen".....

BTW, if you haven't seen Michael Moore's "Canadian Bacon" (John Candy, Alan Alda, Rhea Perlman), rent this DVD and enjoy a few good laughs at our mutual expense.


Be careful with your "whilst"s as well. (Ontario only ?)


Hi Alan,

Sadly, this word has fallen out of fashion here in Canada. My father served in the British army during WWII and was captured in Africa and sent to Germany as a prisoner of war. He told me the German guards could easily pick out the British and Canadians soldiers from their American counterparts by the way they held their dinner forks. It's the simple things that tend to give you away. ;-)


There is a serious side to Canada/US relationship unfolding that I don't think has been appreciated by many yet. Over the past decade the Canadian dollar has been strengthening against the US dollar and now stands at .95. The trend looks to continue if I am reading things right, which means at some point fairly soon the Canadian dollar could reach parity and then surpass the US dollar. I don't know if those of you in the Southern tier of states can appreciate how disturbing that will feel to those of us up north who have historically taken advantage of dollars strength to vacation in Canada, shop, etc. Soon low-skilled Americans will be trying to find day-labor jobs across the border. Canada might have to erect a 'fence' to keep the sick, drug-addicted poor Americans out. A little hyperbole, maybe, but increasing tension in US/Canada relations may be another unwelcome surprise in post-peak world.

I was in Newfoundland in 1960-61 when the Looney was valued at $1.10. No problem. Tempest in a bottle of Molsons.

From my personal perspective, living in Australia it's hard to see why we are likely to suffer food shortages in the next 50 years. We have oodles of natural gas and coal, and produce far more food than we need: nearly 80 percent of wheat, over 50 percent of barley and rice, over 40 percent of beef and grain legumes, over 30 percent of dairy products, and nearly 20 percent of fruit production is exported.
That's without even resorting to GM foods to deal with drier conditions etc. So even if food production capacity was cut by 50%, we'd still have enough to feed ourselves: and note that many of us are overweight, and we would clearly survive just fine on ~80% of the calories we consume now on average.
The water issue is well on the way to being addressed (more efficient/sensible irrigation, desal etc.), and so far has not significantly affected the availability of foods locally anyway. Even if water availability dropped massively, it would simply force us to transition from water-intensive foods like beef and rice to less thirsty types of food production

Assuming you can maintain the infrastructure for agriculture including, fertilizers, oil based mechanization, pesticides, truck to shops etc..

If I am an Australian farmer, what makes you think I would sell to you if I could sell it overseas?

What makes you think I would plant a crop if no one can afford to buy it for it's cost to produce.

People somehow think we will magically divert energy consumption in other areas of the economy to produce adequate amounts of food distributed equitably and this will be a painful but a market driven adjustment process?

Each energy unit diverted from the luxury/services based economy to food production shrinks the economy. Less driving to the movies or shopping, shorter holidays, less eating out, less driving, less hair cuts. The flow on effects of reduced consumption are horrendous in terms of contraction.