DrumBeat: July 24, 2007

Phil Flynn: You got to love those OPEC softies

The sentiment was almost touching. OPEC is concerned about us and our economic well being. Doesn’t that make you feel good? It almost brought a tear to my eye and a lump to my throat when it was reported that OPEC is concerned about the potential impact of near record oil prices on the world’s economy. Isn’t that just the sweetest thing? The cartel that helped bring the world $76 a barrel oil is now all of a sudden feeling a rush of concern that these prices are a danger. Not that they see any problems right now with the world's economy mind you, but they stand ready to pump more oil if needed. Never mind that some estimate that OPEC production fell last month. That was afterall, the old OPEC. This appears to be a new loving, caring cartel.

Canada: Energy pussycat

Stephen Harper likes to describe Canada as an "energy superpower." It's a catchy claim, but a ridiculous one.

Surely an "energy superpower" would be a country that, at the very least, is assertive in taking care of its own energy needs.

Not Canada. Indeed, Canada has been almost negligent in this regard, having surrendered an astonishing degree of control over our energy to the United States in the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Since then, Canada has been more energy pussycat than superpower.

China: More oil reserve bases to be built

China plans to build four levels of crude oil reserves made up of two parts - the government reserve and enterprise storage - according to a source with the nation's largest oil company.

"The government reserve will be at two levels, a strategic crude oil reserve base by the central government, and an oil reserve base by local governments," an official with PetroChina, who declined to be named, said.

Migrating to New Energy Paradigms Part 2 - The Economic Importance of Crude Oil

Emerging energy paradigms drive technological innovations by entrepreneurs, which, as a consequence of their commercialisation and market penetration drive the world economy.

Armed with this understanding, we see that the US's (and Australia's) failure to ratify the Kyoto protocols was life threatening to all of humanity. The core issue had nothing to do with CO2 emissions. The core issue had to do with the march to market of new energy related technological innovations which would drive the world economy. Failure to ratify the Kyoto protocols was an attempt to block the forces of Nature so as to protect the interests of those whose financial interests were dependent on the previous (oil and coal) related energy paradigms.

Labor Disputes and Oil Drill Shortage Cause Problems for Venezuela’s Oil Industry

With oil prices hitting an 11-month high of $78.40 a barrel in London last week, Chavez remains confident, “Oil is going straight to $100 [per barrel]. No one can stop it,” Chávez said yesterday.

Iraq unions vow 'mutiny' over oil law

Iraq's unions say that the draft oil law is a threat and threaten "mutiny" if parliament approves the bill.

"This law cancels the great achievements of the Iraq people," Subhi Al Badri, head of the Iraqi Federation of Union Councils, told the Al Sharqiyah TV station. He referred specifically to laws that nationalized Iraq's oil sector.

Iraq oil exports to U.S. second lowest in near 4 yrs

Iraq's crude oil shipments to the United States in May fell to the second lowest monthly level in almost four years, the U.S. Energy Department said on Monday.

Iraq exported 341,000 barrels of crude oil a day to the U.S. market in May, down 39 percent from the month before.

How Our Fossil Fuel Dependence Is Jeopardizing Our Healthcare System

Our country's dependency on oil and natural gas cannot be overstated. Nowhere is this truer than in our medical system. This means that the looming energy crisis is also a healthcare crisis.

Oil and Gas: Peak Oil Caucus chairs Bartlett, Udall comment on National Petroleum Council report

Last week, the National Petroleum Council released its new report, "Facing the Hard Truths about Energy," stressing the increased development of alternative energy sources in order to meet global energy demand -- a demand that will likely not be met solely through global oil and gas production. During today's E&ETV Event Coverage, Reps. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.), co-chairmen of the Congressional Peak Oil Caucus, discuss the NPC report and explain why they believe it hides the truths about global energy.

Book examines how dwindling oil supplies will cause economic crisis

Today, with oil more than $60 a barrel and more than double the price in 2003, “The Coming Economic Collapse” is a book to be read by anyone who is concerned with how the escalating prices of oil and gasoline will affect the future of our economy.

Kissinger’s secret meeting with Putin

America’s preeminence in the world depends to great extent on its ability to control the global economic system. That system requires that the dollar continue to be linked to oil reserves. But everywhere the petrodollar is under attack. The only solution is to control two-thirds of the world’s remaining petroleum -- which is in the Caspian Basin -- and demand payment in dollars.

But that plan has failed. The war in Iraq is lost and the longer America stays, the harder the fall will be. Oil will not continue to be traded in petrodollars, the USD will lose its place as the world’s "reserve currency," and America will slide into a long and agonizing economic downturn.

The machinations and secret "shuttle diplomacy" of Kissinger and his cohorts will amount to nothing. The situation is irreversible. Geography is fate.

We need to extend the olive branch to Russia and prepare for the inevitable shifting of world power.

How the Energy Dice Were Loaded

The names of some of the corporate big shots and industry lobbyists who helped shape the deliberations and conclusions of the super-secret Cheney energy task force in 2001 are now beginning to surface, thanks to a former White House aide who provided a list to The Washington Post.

It’s interesting to discover that Kenneth Lay, Enron’s chairman, was favored with two audiences. But the rest is sadly familiar. The task force, which developed a national energy policy, had all the time in the world for the big energy producers — some 40 meetings with the oil, gas and coal companies and their trade associations — but barely a moment for environmentalists. It’s hardly surprising that its report favored producers of fossil fuels at the expense of conservation and alternative fuels.

Electricity Showdown in California

California passed two major greenhouse gas laws last year. One mandates reducing CO2 emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 -- perhaps as much as a 40% cut. The other prohibits the renewal of electricity contracts from traditional coal-fired plants. Together, these laws threaten to increase the cost of all forms of energy, making the Golden State less competitive and throwing thousands of Californians out of work.

Interstate Fuels Mountain Economy In Colorado

"Peak oil is a phenomenon where we get to the maximum production rate that the world will ever see, the supply of oil," he said. "Some experts say it's happened already, others say it'll happen sometime between 2010 and 2014. And what that means is, not that oil is going to go away, it just will become very expensive. So I see these things leading toward driving becoming more expensive.

"You have a combination of things. Not one of them is significant by itself to say we're not going to be driving the way we are today in 2025, but when you take a look at the big picture and all of these things, you really start to wonder if we are going to be traveling the same way we are today."

FedEx cuts fuel surcharge 25% amid soaring energy prices

Logic suggests that FedEx would lose money on this announcement. However, management believes the move will provide them an advantage in the market. Douglas G. Duncan, President and CEO of FedEx Freight said, "By significantly reducing our fuel surcharges, we offer immediate and long-term assistance to shippers who are facing both a challenging economy and volatile fuel prices." Both units update fuel surcharges on a weekly basis based on prices published by the DoE.

U.S. Department of Energy Web Site Features Report Citing Global Resource Corp.'s Alternative Energy Technology

Company's environmentally friendly gasification process could potentially unlock oil hidden in U.S. natural resources, and is included among leading unconventional fuel production technologies.

Commodities Report: China's Big Oil Shows Reserve

Conventional wisdom says Chinese oil companies are buying every oil barrel in sight -- no matter where, no matter the cost. Mr. Conventional is sometimes wrong.

The parent company of Hong Kong-listed PetroChina, China National Petroleum Corp., turned down a chance to buy a stake in the South American assets of Spanish oil company Repsol YPF SA. People familiar with the proposed deal said CNPC, China's leading oil-and-gas producer by output, feared the wave of nationalization spreading across South America could imperil the return on investment.

Saudi Arabia Hires Sander for Red Sea Oil and Gas Search

Sander Geophysics Arabia, a petroleum explorer, will survey Saudi Arabia's Red Sea coast for oil and gas deposits after winning a contract that may help the world's largest holder of hydrocarbons tap new stocks.

BP profit down, but tops forecasts

BP Plc posted a 1 percent drop in quarterly post-tax profit to $6.087 billion as production fell and refinery outages prevented the oil giant from taking full advantage of near-record refining margins.

London-based BP said in a statement that the drop in its second-quarter replacement cost net profit would have been larger had it not been for non-operating gains totaling $741 million, largely from the sale of oil fields and a UK refinery.

Oil drillers Transocean, GlobalSantaFe to merge

Deal will create energy services behemoth.

China’s Shift to Natural Gas Vehicles - Boone Pickens Ahead of the Curve with CNG Fueling Stations

In a recent television interview, Boone Pickens told a reporter he was surprised to discover there were 9,000 buses in China running on natural gas.

In an era of worrisome global warming events, it’s hard to argue with a transportation system that has proven to reduce particulate emissions by 95 percent compared to diesel engines and which also reduces carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides by 75 percent and 49 percent, respectively.

Prius sales up 65 percent in Bay Area

The Prius' newfound status reflects the continued greening of Silicon Valley. Rod Diridon, executive director of the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State, and a Prius owner, listed sustained higher gas prices, the availability of car pool lane stickers for solo Prius drivers -- no more are being issued -- and the intelligence of local residents as factors in the Prius' popularity.

Fuel costs forcing charity to turn away patients

To save fuel, volunteer pilot Bill Davidson now packs more than one sick passenger onto his shiny six-seat Piper Malibu airplane when he makes a hospital run.

So, on a recent afternoon flight from Houston back to Denton, 19-month-old Marisol Salas, who suffers from a nerve disorder called brachial plexus, sat across from Lenore Kinzenbaw, a 58-year-old woman with breast cancer. Both Marisol and Ms. Kinzenbaw had needed a flight to Houston hospitals for treatment. And Angel Flight – a free Addison-based transportation service provided by pilots flying their own planes and often buying the gas – was their most comfortable and affordable option.

Chile: New Hydro Plant Opens In Region VIII

Hydroelectric plants, upon which Chile relies for a significant part of its electricity production, have been a hot topic of late. Chile’s other principal source of electricity is natural gas, almost all of which comes from neighboring Argentina. Over the past few years, however, Argentina has limited the amount of gas it sends to Chile, creating what many in the media call an energy “crisis.”

Nigeria: Rich in Oil, Dependent On Firewood

It is a paradox of note: the fact that while Nigerians live in the world's sixth-largest oil producer, most of them still rely on wood for their fuel.

Energy Crisis Could Cost Argentina Almost $3.9 Bn This Year

Argentina will have to spend some $3.87 billion this year to confront the country's energy problems, which forced Buenos Aires to ration natural gas and electricity consumption, Spanish news agency EFE has said.

Kenya: Acute Gas Crisis Hits Towns

An acute shortage of liquefied petroleum (cooking) gas has hit major towns countrywide.

A Sunday Nation survey yesterday showed that some dealers had not received fresh supplies for the past three months.

Zimbabwe government to take over fuel importation: report

Zimbabwe's government is planning to take over the importation of all fuel in a bid to stop the abuse of foreign currency by private importers, South African public television reported Monday.

India: RIL ready for a fertiliser foray

RIL has proposed to use some of the Krishna-Godavari gas as feedstock bought at market prices. RIL has been facing a huge backlash from fertiliser and power companies over the gas price it is offering them. Now, plans are afoot to take up the challenge by becoming a player itself.

Nigeria: kerosene scarcity will persist, says govt.

Millions of homes in Nigeria are without cooking fuel known as kerosene and the situation will persist for an indefinite time, the government announced here on Monday.

No to nukes

It's tempting to turn to nuclear plants to combat climate change, but alternatives are safer and cheaper.

Energy industry gears up for 'nuclear renaissance'

Twenty years after the Chernobyl disaster poisoned the world's taste for reactors, a French firm is sniffing out fresh uranium supplies in Canada. And the race for nuclear power is back on.

World's largest uranium deposit could light up Paris

In 2006, one quarter of the world's total uranium supply of 39,429 tonnes originated from just three mines in this region about 1,000 kilometers north of Regina: McClean Lake, Rabbit Lake, and McArthur River, which is co-owned by Areva and Canada's Cameco, the world's largest uranium producer.

Quake hits Japanese nuclear plant: a Russian view

The expert dismisses speculation that seismic danger was underestimated when the plant site was chosen: "The Japanese are top-notch professionals, and exacting and pragmatic to the utmost degree in choosing plant sites. It was a mere accident, I think."

Forget the Ethanol Myth - Avoid Biofuel Bubble

Running the numbers on how much land could be put into production for corn-based ethanol makes it clear how little of the fuel could be produced to help curb America's energy gluttony.

Britain's emergency committee meets over worst floods in 60 years
Britain's emergency contingencies committee met Monday night to discuss further measures to combat the worst flooding in 60 years, which Prime Minister Gordon Brown linked to climate change.

Large swathes of central and western England were submerged as rivers swelled and burst their banks during four days of heavy and persistent rain, leaving thousands without clean water or electricity and facing the prospect of more rain.

Humans to blame for global changes in rain: study

Human activities that spur global warming are largely to blame for changes in rainfall patterns over the last century, climate researchers reported on Monday.

Warm Water Creatures May Soon Rule the Oceans

Warm-water sea creatures may one day rule the oceans as their cold-water competitors fail to adapt to climate change.

This scenario is suggested by a new study which concludes that a species of Antarctic limpets, a type of small mollusk, can't grow as fast as their limpet cousins in warmer climates. Being introduced to warmer water only stunts the growth of the Antarctic creatures even more.

A new Round-Up has been posted at TOD:Canada.

Water concerns are emerging in North America as the world warms. The US wants a continental approach to water supply, but Canadians disagree. Meanwhile, in parts of England, there's "water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink".

The 'true north' tries to be 'strong and clean', but can't seem to do a proper energy audit. Arctic gas pipelines move a step closer to reality. Power supply in Ontario tightens further, while Cameco discovers uranium in the soil. Can we harness tornado-power next?

The insatiable debt-monster of Wall street spreads from subprime to Alt-A, bond ratings spawn legal action, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac attempt a subprime bail-out. The savings rate stays negative south of the border, as Americans keep borrowing just to stay on the treadmill.

I don't recall where I saw it, but the U.S. Great Lakes basin states have a compact which disallows the export of lake water from the watershed. There is one town that straddles the divide and they have quite the issue dealing with the compact.

Many of these maneuvers depend on the rule of the law and respect for property rights. We know with exacting detail just how little the Bush administration cares for that first bit and a quick look at Zimbabwe shows what happens when things are scarce. A large portion of these rules will simply evaporate in the face of the new reality ... and Canada's provinces will become new U.S. states as soon as survival is at stake.

Hope for the best, plan for the worst.

I tend to have the thought that water is attainable as long as sufficient levels of cheap energy are available. Desalination, distillation, and other methods of treatment can produce good water when it's hard to find otherwise. There are a few areas where water cannot be found at all to be purified, such as the desert, and in those circumstances, we shouldn't be living there to begin with. Where I am, the humidity level is so high, you could get all the water you needed by simply running a dehumidifier and having the captured water go into a sistern. This isn't possible in a desert area, however.
~Durandal (http://www.wtdwtshtf.com/)

As was on the Drum Beat a few days ago:


BP Whiting refinery vs City of Chicago.

Let the water wars begin!

TOD:Canada Round-Up update:

Oil pipeline accident causes spill in Burnaby, B.C.

The oil gushed for a reported 25 minutes before crews were able to staunch the flow.

"We had a vehicle hit an oil head," Cpl. Jane Baptista, of the Burnaby RCMP, told The Canadian Press on Tuesday.

"There was some oil spilled over the road. We have hazmat (hazardous materials) and Burnaby Fire Department on scene. Police have assisted with some evacuation of some residents there."....

....There are fears that a major environmental problem may be developing.

Local radio station News1130 reported that witnesses are described the scene as a "river of oil."

Hello TODers,

Canada: Energy pussycat
The upcoming SPP meeting could be crucial to North America, but I have no idea whether this is the best plan. It would seem that breaking up North America into biosolar watersheds/habitats would make more sense. But feel free to agree/disagree.

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

Edited to remove the long excerpt. I already posted an excerpt and a link up top.

Thxs Leanan, for the edit,

On another note: from your plethora of Drumbeat keylinks today, I notice the problems in Africa seem to be spreading and cascading blowbacks. From a quick eyeball of the just-updated 2007 info from the CIA Factbook [Life expectancy at birth (years) by country]:


It is easy to see that this continent's people have their lives foreshortened by 20-30 years compared to much of the rest of the planet. Angola, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe appear to be the worst off.

In response to the long Drumbeat yesterday: if most of your people are dead by their thirties--technology doesn't even have a chance to get rolling, much less hoping to advance it to solve our PO & GW problems.

Assuming the CIA is still around in ten years of postPeak decline & ELM: it will be interesting to see if this rank table has gotten better or worse:

Life expectancy at birth:

This entry contains the average number of years to be lived by a group of people born in the same year, if mortality at each age remains constant in the future. The entry includes total population as well as the male and female components. Life expectancy at birth is also a measure of overall quality of life in a country and summarizes the mortality at all ages. It can also be thought of as indicating the potential return on investment in human capital and is necessary for the calculation of various actuarial measures.
If technocornucopia is successful, these numbers should all be much improved in ten years time. My SWAG is that they will be worse. Time will tell.

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

Hi Totoneila

Lifespans have really increased in the last century. I look at historical land and probate records, and in the US the average lifespan was about 50 a hundred years ago. If you'll look at paleolithic lifespans from archeological sites, I think you'll find that most people lived to about 40. In other words, modern technology has doubled human lifespans through nutrition and medicine. You can see that reflected in region of total collapse anarchy like the Congo.

Another way to think about it: What other animal in a natural state outlives its breeding life?

Bob Ebersole

Bob: Globally, average lifespan increased dramatically up until about 1998. It has since been on a gradual decline.

Actually, the lifespan didn't really get an increase so much as we made a huge impact on Childhood diseases.

Take a look at the life expectancy of someone 50 years old in 1900. It was about 70ish. BUT the life expectancy of a newborn was only 40-50ish.

In 1900 if you made it to 40 or 50 you could expect to live to almost the same age we do now.

We didn't really extend how LONG someone could live, We just increased the number of people reaching adulthood(ie getting rid of whooping cough, and other childhood diseases).

True, although the life expectancy of someone 50 years old today (in a developed nation) would surely be well over 80, so there has been some improvement at the upper end.

Thanks to a lot of expensive geriactric drugs, pace-makers, etc., modern hospitilization and nursing home intervention. This postponement of death isn't getting any cheaper and won't prevail much longer in a declining petroleum regime.

Note on lifespans.

From a purely population point of view, medicine is almost irrelevant (of course, on a personal level you may need medical intervention to survive). The greatest boon to health in our society is clean water, sewerage, food, etc.

If you are considering a downslope in living conditions, then basic hygene and sustenance are your key factors to staying healthy. Childhood and adult diseases killed enormous numbers of people in western countries (1 in 1000 and more per year for some of them) through till the late 1800s/early 1900s, thanks in large part to sewerage systems that were completed in major cities.

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

This (childhood mortality) is in line with research I've seen.
Also the introduction of antibiotics has made a dent.
In recent decades the adoption of foods which have no history of safe consumption (highly processed, GMO, less and less vitamins minerals, high-fructose corn syrup, chemical concoctions) and a reduction in exercise are leading to a reduction in lifespan due to so many people being overweight, obese and getting the slew of diseases that come with such a diet/lifestyle (cancer, autoimmune diseases, CHD, diabetes and more). In particular bypass operations and the ilk do not extend the life of people with CHD (chronic heart disease) and so we'll continue to see lifespan decrease as more people (tr)eat their way to heart attacks. Healthy At 100 is an interesting book about people with a history of long life.
Note that infant mortality took an upturn when doctors got involved in births (partially delt with thanks to Louis Pastour) however, infant mortality is lower when midwives, and not MDs attend the birth (read The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth).
The loss of antibiotics in recent history and the breeding of superbugs by feeding our best antibiotics to animals on unimaginable scales will come home to roost.
A loss of travel speed and distance and less people in general will help with this.
The best thing would be to put a stake into the heart of modern meat production and get people onto a mostly vegetarian/vegan diet.

What evidence is there that it is modern technology that is responsible for the longer lifespans. Can you disentangle "nutrition and medicine" from simple improved hygiene?

And to answer your last question - plenty.

I consider improved hygiene to be medicine. Until the germ theory of disease there was a lot less hygiene.

Look what happened to the population of India after the British cleaned up the water supply.

Bob, polio is an exception to the hygine rule. Polio was known as 'rich kids disease' because it struck so often in the very clean homes of the wealthy. That is also why so much money was poured into a vaccine for polio.

If you can find a copy of 'The River: A Journey To The Source Of HIV And Aids' I believe you will enjoy reading it. I also believe some of the scientists in the search for an oral polio vaccine were involved in an early attempt at population control. Great whodunnit.

Interesting that convincing people to take their drinking water upstream from where they bath and defecate becomes "modern technology."

To the extent that technology is the application of scientific knowledge, and the germ theory of disease is indeed scientific knowledge, then the rest--the actions taken involving implementing mitigation techniques, seem to quite easily fall under the rubric of being a type of practical "technology".

In fact, I do believe that some of these "implementations" I speak of were indeed spurred on by pure, hard, engineering (ie water distribution systems, etc.)

Alas, fire again...

The devil is in the details - or in this case, the context. The discussion was in reference to the wonderful impact of "modern" technology - not just technology in the abstract.

It was modern about 2300 years ago when the Romans installed municipal water systems and municipal sewerage. They also had double doored, meaning inner and outer, hot baths (saunas)and earth tube air conditioning. I don't believe they had germ theory... but they had figured out the concept of clean versus dirty.

There were cholera and typhoid fever epidemics in New York and London in the 19th century. They were both big killers in the armies fighting in WWI.

There's a classic history text you might enjoy, called "Rats, Lice and History" about how sanitation changed modern warfare, also read about Typhoid Mary, a chronic carrier of typhoid fever who accidentally infected many people working as a maid.

Another book that's fascinating on the subject is "1491", about the die-offs of the indians in the Americas from various plagues.

Bob Ebersole

not clear to me what your point is.

Thanks for the book recommendations, though. R,L&H sounds interesting. I've read 1491, or at least as much as I'm going to. Interesting premise, but kind of week on execution, I thought.

But, so what was it you were trying to demonstrate by observing that disease still exists?


My point is, if we get a collapse from running out of energy, our lives will become shorter and more brutish. And if you have a realistic assessment of odds of survival, most of us aren't going to make it.

So, it behooves all of us to work towards a sustainable future, and take care of our population. I have 1 son, and got a vasectomy because I didn't want to add to the population.

I want to see a decent, clean world for my son, and every other child on the planet. I don't want to see armies of child soldiers swarming over the landscape like in the Congo. I don't want to see people so desperate for water because municipal pumps don't work that they drink polluted water. I don't want to see homeless, starving people outside my door. I don't want to shoot someone to protect food for my family. I don't want to see women and men prostituting themselves for a meal, or a place to sleep. I don't want to see climate change refugees streaming into the USA. I don't want to see religeous nuts set uo theocratic states all over the globe

So I will work as hard as I can to preserve a decent future for all of us. We are all in this together, and a hide out in the hills is a fantasy. That's why we have to wake people up and try to save our world.

Sorry for the rant. Bob Ebersole

In general the problem with pre-modern (and post peak oil?) mortality is focussed on the childhood years.

Child mortality is high... but once people survive to adulthood they tend to live "reasonably" long lives.

Don't confuse "average" life length with life expectancy of a person who survives to 15 years of age... two very different things.

oilmanbob, you may be in danger because of specific health conditions, but the general life expectancy for a modern and pre-modern 50 year old may not be that different.... it is childhood that is deadly.

I'd like to offer some solid numbers here, and they are available, but if you hunt around you'll find them. I'm sure that 50 year olds have better life expectancies now than 100 or 200 years ago.... but again the improvement has been much less than the improvement in the average life span, which has increased because of childhood survival rates increasing so dramatically.

Alright, I see where you are coming from. And I think we were just talking at cross purposes. My point earlier was that our health in general is not dependent on modern medicine, though that may be different for individuals with specific problems (especially those with "modern" or "industrial" health problems).

But I look at the coming changes not as descent into some Mad Max world, but as an opportunity to correct the problems of a social and economic system gone astray. I do not see the modern world as something worthy of sustaining, even if climate change threats can be overcome. I am as concerned about the "pollution" to our beings, physical, social, psychological and spiritual as I am about the ecosystem.

I'd urge you to consider that many of those "collapse" scenarios are a reflection of the modern world or of civilization in general, not a necessary aspect of the loss of central authority. For example, homelessness is an issue created by the concept of private property, prostitution occurs where women's role in society is degraded below that of men (which occurs concomitantly with the introduction of agriculture). The rest I will leave to you to imagine. But I will end with this - there are more choices available than just the collapse scenario and the clinging desperately to a technological existence scenario.


We're on the same page. Its going to take a giant attitude shift, a real inventory of our values and what's important to us, and a lot of personal investment in trying to make things work. Fortunately, most people really try to be good people, there's a lot of good in the world. The question is: How do we wake them up?

Bob Ebersole

That wasn't a rant - I think you coherently articulated what many of us on here are thinking.
When no-one around you understands
start your own revolution
and cut out the middle man

Mass production/distribution of information via books, radio, etc is what allowwed for the information regarding hygiene to be spread so far and wide.

Nice try, but not accurate. Information about hygiene was spread amongst primarily illiterate populations. While it may have been assisted by modern forms of media, it was not dependent on it.

Right, but how do you think the smarty pants people were able to come up with these ideas?

Take germ theroy for instance:


I don't think it's a coincidence that the theory did not gain widespread acceptance until the industrial age in England had been going for 100 years. There needed to be developed an entire foundation of higher learning in order for people like John Snow to get to the point where they could figure this stuff out.

I think the reason such things took so long to catch on was in part because people tend to resist new ideas that challenge their world view.

The idea of hygiene, and in particular washing hands, was considered and pushed foremost by a doctor in the 1800s (Dr. Semmelweis). He demonstrated that when he and his staff washed their hands after seeing a patient and moving on to another (something that wasn't done by other doctors) the death rate of patients in his hospital dropped dramatically (birthing mothers was his area of specialty I believe).

What did the medical profession think of this? They poo-pooed the idea and thought it was ridiculous. It took many years for the idea of cleaning ones hands to catch on in the medical profession.

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

Carl Sagan has written quite eloquently on this topic.
Certainly I probably wouldn't be still alive today if it weren't for modern technology (specifically, antibiotics)...nor would my son (well, technically, he would never have been born, as we required significant fertility treatment - so he doesn't really count).
I'm willing to be at least a third of the participants here owe their life to modern medicine.

I'm less than convinced that our nutrition is substantially better now than it was at, say, the start of the 20th Century.

What other animal in a natural state outlives its breeding life?

Bob, it's very likely that the value of "old age" to an "intellectual" species such as ours lies in the opportunity to impart wisdom gained through vast experience -- no small thing. Of course, this wisdom is only valuable if someone is listening...

I didn't say that old age had no value, but rather that its a result of technology and nutrition. I'm 55, and I've had a couple of illnesses that would have killed me before modern medicine. I have Type 2 diabetes, and know that the great grandfather from which I inherited the tendency died at 50 around WWI.

If we do have a societal collapse, I'm going to die fairly quickly and not very pleasantly. And, so will most of us over 50. I guess that's why I get horrified by the doomer porn idiots, it spells my death and the death of most of the people I love. And that's why I care about peak oil. It is no joke a matter of life and death for perhaps 5/6ths of the people on this planet. So we had better have a slow slope down,and start working on solutions. Loading the silver BB's for the werewolves of doom!

I know of no better place to start than the people who care about peak oil, and no better time to start than now. That's why we all need to be at the ASPO convention in Houston October 17-20th. Network!
Bob Ebersole

So an outcome that someone sees as possible but which that person also does not want, so horrifies you that you will attack them for posting "doomer porn" rather than attempt to intellectually deal with the topic?

And this is supposed to help solve such possible problems exactly how?

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone


Reread what I said. If modern technological society collapses, I'm dead, and so are most of the people I care about. We're older, and only young, breeding age people have much of a chance-look at other animal die-offs. A die-off to a sustainable level of population means that 5 people out of six are going to be history. Sure, its a possibility, but there have been people predicting apocolypse since I was a child being taught to "duck and cover" and kiss my ass goodbye in my elementary school. And, there have been people doing the same thing since prehistory! Sooner or later I guess they'll be right, but the odds aren't very good that I'm going to be snatched out of my sandals for the Rapture, or die in a thermonuclear flash.

I don't mind some of that talk-I think its cautionary. But every so often we get people on The Oil Drum who seem to be setting themselves up to be warlord of a cannibal crew. Talk of that kind is negative and detracts from what I see as our message-be prudent and change, or we're all going to be very sorry. It drives off reasonable people, who then associate us with Millenarian cults. Its one of the cheif weapons of the cornucopians and global warming deniers-they must be crazy, look at who they hang out with. Thats why CERA gets away with calling us peakists and a cult.

I don't like suppressing free speech. But I'm going to ridicule ridiculous positions-and let the sunlight of open discourse disinfect poisonous ideas.
Bob Ebersole

And I suggest you re-read what I said, Bob. There you are praying for a slow downslope when we don't even know what the downslope will look like yet. People keep suggesting 1% or 2%, hoping against the fates that it won't be so bad as to knock us all off our rockers. But what if it is 6%? What if it is the 8% suggested by the CEO of Schlumberger? Oh, he must be a "doomer" and not worthy of serious consideration just because he utters "doomer porn", right?

Ridiculing a problem will not make it go away. Ridiculing Hansen's work that suggests that 2-3 degrees celsius can raise ocean levels by 25 meters won't make that go away. All that ridiculing does is chases the idea out of public debate but it does not stop the real underlying problem. You might choose to ridicule conclusions but I would caution you to not ridicule basic ideas just because the consequences appear disastrous. And that is exactly what your original comment seemed to say to me - that you will attack any "doomer porn" because it scares you. If you meant something else, then maybe you need to find a better way of expressing yourself.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

A few days ago, PG posted news about digg and reddit. I think threads like this may be part of our problem. MSM don't like too much realism, and almost everybody doesn't like gloating over someone else's misfortune.

In the case of Peak Oil, we don't need to openly estimate the kill rate needed to achieve a world population that is sustainable in a post petroleum world. Any estimate made on the basis of current social theory is surely mistaken and largely irrelevant to discussion of the peak oil phenomenon.

But I do wonder what will happen, in the expected collapse, to discussion groups like this and to the internet in general ;-)


I'm pretty sure that Schlumberger is right about the depletion rate of oil fields in the rest of the world. Those guy's are really good.

What may slow it are 1. a huge depression cutting demand 2. growth in all liquids from ethanol, unconventional oil, gas-to-liquids, ect.3. enhanced oil recovery, economics changing on production because of price and fields produced longer

If you want to be depressed about the situation, O.K. Considering the lack of leadership in the US, its understandable.

But, if we switch to electric rail, ride bicycles and walk, act like rational humans with a plan and try to save our society it could very well work. We are not running totally out of oil, just cheap oil. We have decent people in most of the world who can cooperate. Its going to take changing expectations and values and a hell of a lot of work.

Predicting doom and doing nothing is self-indulgent and lazy. Glorying in thoughts of walled compounds fending off barbarian hordes sound like a plot for a video game, or fighting hordes of plague infected cannibals with your large breasted raven haired consort handing you ammunition on your organic farm. Come on, get real. That kind of doomerism is counter-productive.

The fact is the ice cubes haven't slid off Greenland yet. Yes, we need to cut our CO2 emmissions drasticly.No doubt we need immediate mitigation strategies. But wallering in gloom, glorying the collapse of civilization? Its doomer porn, and it diverts attention for real solutions and wastes more precious time.

This is my last post about this today. I can't believe I'm getting in an arguement about what should be obvious if we really expect to do anything. Try prozac, or zoloft or welbutrin if continue to feel depressed, I swear its pathological. I, by the way, do take welbutrin, as I've had depression all my life, its apparently genetic, plus I think I really screwed my brain chemical balance with too much dope as a kid. That's not an off the wall slur.
Bob Ebersole

Try prozac, or zoloft or welbutrin if continue to feel depressed, I swear its pathological. I, by the way, do take welbutrin, as I've had depression all my life, its apparently genetic, plus I think I really screwed my brain chemical balance with too much dope as a kid.

You've had depression, you admit you screwed up your brain's chemical balance via heavy drug use, AND you are now on powerful psychactive medications but you are accussing the doomers of being the unbalanaced ones?

It's time somebody calls shenanigans on you here.

Look guy, I've never had any depression what so ever, never done any drugs, never had a need for any psychoactive medicaiton and am as doomeristic as it comes. Perhaps my good mental health is what enables me to handle the bad news while your admitted imbalance(s) are what cause you to indulge in the false hope that "we" are all going to do much different than what we're already doing which is spending trillions on killing arabs and grabbing their oil & water for our corporate overlords.

Not trying to flame you . . .

I have a pet theory that people on anti-depressants are more likely not to be able to come grips with the reality of our situation then people who are mentally healthy. Your use of them is a single data point backing up my theory.

Have a day.

>I have a pet theory that people on anti-depressants are more likely not to be able to come grips with the reality of our situation then people who are mentally healthy. Your use of them is a single data point backing up my theory.

I have a pet theory that drug abuse will soar once reality of our situation sinks in. There is no better escape from reality than illicit drug abuse!

TechGuy: How about a girlfriend? Steep competition there.

DrivingChimp: Alcohol is a drug--a powerful one, deeply entrenched in our culture, amongst a myriad of others, both legal and illegal. If you don't drink now, you'll perhaps be drinking soon (judging by your very own prognostication of the patient). That is, after you're done tilling the land, in whatever ghost-town you've finally decided to set off to, and if you can even manage to keep the barricades' defenses up against the raving biker gangs armed to the teeth trying to take over your thermal energy greenhouse...

[edit] Everyone in general: all good points. I'm including myself here, humbly =]

TechGuy said;"There is no better escape from reality than illicit drug abuse!"

You said: "TechGuy: How about a girlfriend? Steep competition there."

Having a girlfriend is having reality come and smack you upside the head..... unless you're already married.

How true.

[edit: My eyes see the word reality I always take it to mean "reality", I forget others don't know that I'm making an inversion and then I remember it's the internet and it's too late... Semantics always gets me caught up.]

Well, chump, I mean chimp, you are trying to flame me. I am at least honest about myself and where I come from, while you make a living trying to terrify people and bully them. You are a psychic vampire.

And if you aren't depressed, then you are a narcissistic evil asshole. The pornmeister of doom himself.

Bob Ebersole

Hey...omb...you're not alone out there.

I've been on Paxil for going on 5 years now, supplemented with daily chocolate and occasional Brandy. My chronic depression is also hereditary (so they say), but really didn't manifest until I lived in Texas for a year. Guess who was Governor at the time? I moved out of Nacogdoches one year before bits of the space shuttle came crashing down. Perhaps my depression was founded in reality.

Anyways, here's to honesty and the constant battle against internal demons....cheers.

I sympathize with the fact that many people suffer from depression, for genetic and environmental reasons (in varying ratios).

oilmanbob, just when I thought I hadn't gotten mad at anything you'd written for a while now you write:

"And if you aren't depressed, then you are a narcissistic evil asshole. The pornmeister of doom himself."

"Narcissistic evil asshole." Way to practice what you preach. All this peace, love and understanding suddenly becomes the above clause. Interesting.

To the Chimp: I suggest you co-opt bob's slur and turn it into a marketing ploy on your website. You could even register pornmeisterofdoom.com

Can I get some royalties? ;]

"Narcissistic evil asshole." Way to practice what you preach. All this peace, love and understanding suddenly becomes the above clause. Interesting.

What I said obviously had a lot of truth to it. That's why Bob got so upset by it and resorted to this. Whatever . . . (rolling my eyes)

Although my avatar over at the LATOC Forum is a picture of Dr. Evil:


Man, obviously from that picture and all those fawning cult members--you have to be the happiest narcissistic evil asshole on your block (and that's not easy in California.)

With that said, time to go recharge the neurons/glia...

My board certified psychiatrist friend (up to her eyebrows in New Orleans doing her residency here) has accused me of "catastrophicism", taking the worst possible view of what could possibly happen (a psychological trait) post-Peak Oil.

I assured her that I was on the optimistic side !


Best Hopes,



I assured her that I was on the optimistic side !


That is priceless, and just goes to show you how relatively meaningless, yet very funny, "Doom Romping" can be. Even many of the non-CERAesque TOD optimists will be labeled the ubiquitous "Doomer" to average Joe and Jane if you printed out transcripts of TOD threads, particularly DrumBeats.

The relatively positive forward looking oilmanbob or others in his league (or people like yourself, and other good samaritans) try to describe the issues at hand will most likely have no better luck than LATOC's Dear Civilization letter. So I say, let both styles flourish. They'll discount you as a catastrophist, or a neo-malthusian or just think you really love trains (which I'm sure you do, and god bless you for it--honestly.) They'll be sent an email with a link to LATOC and either shrug, chuckle or descend into the forums never to return again ... Either way, no matter how you approach it, as Leanan has written before in the past--a plurality of voices is a good thing.

I think you mean she said "catastrophism". I'll just note that it has religious overtones. Harper's Magazine actually ran a cover article on peak oil, I'm sure you remember. The Harper's article insinuated that any doom PO inspires is the 21st century version of the Millerites, or maybe it was just trying to underhandedly prop us up by throwing in some pangs of self-criticism, but I seriously doubt it. Acceptance that PO is a "logical result of a limited resource base" is one thing... Getting people to realize the scale and magnitude of the issues involved without them just screaming "Doomer" (or its other euphemisms) at you in ridicule, is quite another...

heh Alan stick with it ;)

>I assured her that I was on the optimistic side !

I'll second that opinion.

Talk about psychological projection!

Never have I said that I was depressed, Bob. Angry maybe, but not depressed. I am not happy with the situation I see developing but I am coming to grips with it the best I can. One need not be depressed if one is not "happy". There are other emotional states in there too, you know. But it is irrational to ignore what is happening around you just because you dislike it.

So stop projecting your own psychological problems on others. I've dealt with lots of situations in my life and fortunately never been clinically depressed. With luck, I will maintain that record whether I have one year left or fifty.

As for why I've developed negative conclusions about civilization, it's due to having studied what is happening from many angles while not seeing any viable response from my own civilization. And while you might find it untenable to live in anything other than the modern world, I do not automatically come to the conclusion that I have to be unhappy or depressed if modern society goes away. No, I won't like it as I said above but I think I can cope with it, especially without serious brain altering chemicals.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

''Reread what I said. If modern technological society collapses, I'm dead, and so are most of the people I care about.''

You and me both, but for different reasons.

Fifty, both knees shot from propping at rugby football in my green years. Looking at onset of rhuematoid arthritis, and an almost certain hip replacement (''Its not the age, its the mileage''...) Cannot plant enough for a hamster, let alone a family.

I spent about 4 years tracing one branch of the family back to the 16th Century (records become flimsy before 1538).

Take out child-bed deaths and dont count them, then about half the children died before 21. In the 16th and 17th Cents, most males averaged 65. They were Yeomen (farmers), By the 18th Century, small time Yeomen were up against it.

Dual income became the norm: Days in flax weaving, spare time on the farm. Age of death averaged 55.

Later, as the flax industry took off, people left the land, going into the flax mills. Later still, cotton arrived and they left the land to work in the dark, satanic mills of Bradford and Manchester, and the woolen mills of Yorkshire.

Truly wonderful to exist in these times: Average age at death dropped another decade to 45. Mostly Lung Diseases

Women: Something happened...

In the 15th to 17th Centuries, the women of the family were baby factories and rarely outlived the men but with two notable exceptions (childless).

From the mid 19th Century, a different story unfolded. Still pumping out babies, but surviving.


Mass produced, easily available, coal-tar Soap.

IMHO: Soap and an understanding of general and clinical hygene occuring at roughly the same time as germ-theory, plus our predeliction for Tea (boiling drinking water) offset a lot of the problems associated with mass migration to slum tenaments.

Methodism helped as well, along with the harsh penalties of ostracism that went hand-in-hand with slovenliness or strong drink and not keeping up standards. You cannot survive opprobrium in a small, tight community attending the same chapel...

Of course the un-waged poor still died like flies. But thats enough of them :-)

Where is this leading? (or meandering?)

On the way up the energy slope, industry, commerce offset rural problems enabling raw materials to be turned into finished goods by (now) landless peasants.

Science, Engineering, Medicine led to access to mitigators such as Soap, Tea, Bleach, scrubbing brushes, water closets and sewage systems. Add anesthetic and vaccination, add wound hygene and child bed hygene and then add the Victorian ethics of moral uplift, continence and self development and muscular christianity (we had an empire to run...) Then you gotta a 19th Century winner: Population Growth.

Malthus delayed.

We are now on the energy down slope.

Executive Summary: Expect the film reel to play backwards to the 16th Century.

While i agree that life on the downward slope could get nasty, basic hygiene is quite high on the nescesity list, and low on the energy consumption list, and as such it should not quickly disappear (even mad max would know to boil his water before drinking it).

Picture your modern city: there's lots of people living in a small area. Generally the water is pumped in. Maybe it can be gravity fed to the area, but at the very least apartment buildings need electricity to pump the water up to the higher floors. Picture a situation in that some times there is water, sometimes not. That puts a damper on the effectiveness of the toilet (in it's present form as a water flushed, indoor device for a private household).

Another thing, boiling water requires energy, be it electricity, gas, or woodstove. Even Mad Max might find that boiling water adds an extra twenty minutes of work to his daily routine.

We might even speculate on what happens when gas gets expensive and the garbage truck comes once a month instead of once a week. (Its the big rats rustleing around in the garbage piles that bug me, although the flies aren't that great either.)

Sure the hygene is possible, but it becomes more difficult as energy gets scarcer. People who are tired or poor are especially likely to start cutting corners. But you don't need to imagine or watch mad max. Go visit a third world city. Stay in a cheap hostel and see what it's like. For a lot of people and municipalities in the third world enegry is already quite expensive.

Sounds like New Orleans shortly after my return.

Simply getting food was quite a challenge. No place to wash clothes except at a friends.

Half the population in 20% of the housing.

I can still remember the cheers when the first garbage truck came be (they only picked up 2 bags from each building, many with 4 to 8 apartments).

I went through the first winter without natural gas (no hot water and only an electrical space heater for heat). Natural gas is out again for the last week as they replace a section corroded by salt water during Katrina.

Best Hopes,


PS: Alcohol consumption is up with half the population and a drop in tourism.

Thank you, Alan.

The rest of you look at what Alan is saying. This is New Orleans while the US is still supposedly the strongest, richest nation on the face of the planet and it can get assistance from outside its local environment. What would have happened if New Orleans stood alone like an ancient city-state? What would be the fate of New Orleans in a poorer or more fragmented United States and world?

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

Some experts believe that the Black Death was caused in part by "peak wood." The population had grown to the point that there was a wood shortage. That meant ordinary people could no longer heat water for bathing and washing, and hygiene suffered.

Though popular belief is that people back then didn't care for baths, the fact is that they liked to wash. They simply could not afford it. Before the 13th century, most towns had a public bathhouse, where people could soak in tubs of hot water. But the forests were cut down for fuel and cleared for farming, and they could no longer heat water for the bath houses.

The fact that many people were malnourished - famine was a recurrent problem at the time - also aided in the spread of disease.

Some other experts think that the Black Death was caused by "peak cats". A medieval belief developed that cats were satanic, so they were not exactly welcomed. Fewer cats = more rodents. More rodents = more fleas & lice. There's your disease vector.

It's still not certain that the Black Death was bubonic plague. If it was, it was a different form than had been seen before or since. Many researchers believe it was a different disease, maybe even several different diseases.

The SODIS system of solar disinfection uses PET bottles in sunlight, with a reflective base. 5 hours of sunlight effectively sanitizes the water. This would be for household use.

I assume windmills like the ones on my Grandparent's farm would be sufficient for lifting water.

I suspect that water sanitation may not be as hard as other things to deal with post-peak.

Feeling that pain! Rugby takes a lot out of the old legs and I didn't play that long. At least I played in the back field and not Prop! I had a dream last night where my legs were in pain every time I walked and I have some idea of what you are up against. My knees where shot primarily from Football (Soccer) and excessive jumping (high jumping and jumping like white men are not supposed to), so my final Rugby game was when a loose scrum collapsed on me and I just couldn't get up to follow the play.

And now another irony. My family tree goes back to 965 A.D. to the Court of King Edgar. I have no claims to understanding longevity other than staying out of the way of politics and keeping your head. Our ancestors sided with William The Conqueror, changed their mind, but lost land and title after the Anglo-Saxons drove the Normans out. Anyway, great discussion of hygiene based upon personal history. That is what we need, a deep understanding of our history to give us some speculation about where things will go.

I wish people would refrain from the term 'doomer porn'

Collapse is, to my mind, an increasing and disturbing possibility.

As a society we are not doing anything near enough to mitigate energy loss and the alternatives to fossil fuels are, to date, frankly feeble. The up and comming loss of Terrawatts will cripple us and no amount of ethanol / bio diesel / algae scams or hydrogen / potential energy storage from wind farms will bail us out.

UKGov announced a new Train and Station 30 year plan today. Nice...

What about the three + new nukes we will need to electrify the rails?

As things stand, we loose all our nukes by 2020 and 30% of our coal fired electricity by 2015.

Talk about 'joined-up-government'...

I've been away for awhile, but hadn't we once coined the term "pornucopians" to offset the "doomer porn" thing?

To my mind both sides are simply displaying a rather uncritical acceptance of Hollywood created images of the future.

The fact that menopause exists suggests that humans are meant to live to be old. (Assuming they survive childhood, that is.)

Most animals are fertile until they die. Often, they grow more fertile the older they are. Only a few species, among them Homo sapiens, have the shutdown in fertility we know as menopause.

Why is this? Likely because at a certain point, a female is better off helping her children raise their kids than having more of her own. Childbirth is risky for a woman, and childhood is long. If the mother dies before her child is able to support itself, the child will likely die, too. Helping your family group with their kids is a better strategy once a woman reaches middle age.

The other animals who have menopause (among them whales) are also extremely social animals with relatively long lifespans and long childhoods.

P.S. This difference shows up when you look at what human males find attractive. Men in all cultures prefer young females. Youth (and health, as reflected in beauty) are where it's at for male humans.

Is this "natural"? No. Male chimps do not like young females. If there's a middle-aged female around, they will cluster around her. They prefer older females as strongly as humans prefer younger ones. Chimps do not suffer menopause. Older females are as fertile as young ones, and they are more knowledgeable mothers, more likely to raise babies successfully.

Think about how weird that is from a human perspective. Chimps would prefer, say, the chimp Martha Stewart to the chimp Paris Hilton. Hot young studs like athletes, rockers, and movie stars would be dating women much older than they are, rather than women much younger. That is actually the more natural situation. Humans are different, and it's (partly) because we have such long lifespans.

Leanan, I must have a lot of chimp blood. I don't think women are even interesting to talk to until they are past 35, and a dirty mind is wonderfully sexy. And, it must be a bonobo chimp at that, I'd much rather make love than fight!Bob Ebersole

Easy there, Bob! ;-)

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

Spot on.

Another theory (no references, a discussion in the pub with a Zoology lecturer).

Women survive past menopause to help out with complex, long term grand-child rearing, but start to fail very soon after the youngest daughter commences menopause. Maybe true, maybe not. Who knows?

One truth: 'It takes a village to bring up a kid'...:-)

Not so much modern technology (as commonly understood) but modern infrastructure. Public works providing clean water. That sort of thing. Tainter uses this as an example. Most of the health benefits in US were achieved by the 40s (if my memory is right) and would properly be understood as simple public health efforts.

cfm in Gray, ME

Have you heard of AIDS?

The experience of Russia during the post-USSR collapse is instructive in this regard. Life expectancies didn't plunge to African levels, but they did decline substantially.

I wonder if some of the decline was due to depression induced alcoholism which became rampant in men post-collapse.

A lot of the decline is indeed caused by rampant alcoholism. Here's just one source:

Alcoholism is the main reason the average life span for Russian men has dropped to just 58. It’s also the fastest growing beer market in the world, partly due to state encouragement, as the high taxes on beer are a lucrative form of income. Many Russians labour under the misapprehension that beer is a soft drink, and that’s the way it’s marketed. To compound the problem, vodka is cheaper than most soft drinks, because it’s barely taxed.


Well, this IS the most convincing evidence presented to date for ethanol use saving energy.

Sorry, sorry..... but it's just, y'know, true

You think those Russian men are ignorant? They deserve to get a buzz on and make their own decisions, and I may well make the same one in the future.

Sometimes life is so crap that falling asleep in the snow is a preferred option...

It’s also the fastest growing beer market in the world, partly due to state encouragement, as the high taxes on beer are a lucrative form of income.

Do you mean to say that high taxes do nothing to stop consumption?
How strange!

Well, you drink beer as long as you can afford it; eventually you will have to switch to dirt cheap vodka.

Note also:

the high taxes on beer are a lucrative form of income.

Imagine that! A government is using taxation to secure income.
It's almost as if they wouldn't want that source of REVENUE to dry up!

There has been a long standing silent conflict between the US and Canada, and that has been about water. We were happy to trade in lumber and we were happy to trade in oil and natural gas, but we knew the desire for our water assets would be the beginning of the end. Because we knew that when they came for our water they were beyond the limits of sustainability.

This is crossing one point too far, and be warned. Sure we're all polite and friendly and like our beer and Hockey Night in Canada, but we probably know how to shoot a rifle better than most Americans. Iraq will seem like a church quilting should the US get aggressive about Canadian resources. Sure, they are attempting it through the SPP, but I can only hope that fails because it doesn't do Canada any good in the long run.

Ouch! Ya, well it's come to that my dear American neighbours. Your addiction coupled with very poor market force residential planning has you painted into a corner. Capitalistic infinite market expectations have hit the brick wall called finite resources. I always wondered about the mindset that thought launching a product into a seemingly infinite market space was the recipe for success? Entropy wins every time.

We're content with the lumber (traded fairly mind you), the oil and gas, the minerals, and even the brain power (I stand guilty), but come after our water and it's a whole different ball game! Beware the fury of the patient man. [Chinese Proverb]

What do people know about the "gassification" technology mentioned in
U.S. Department of Energy Web Site Features Report Citing Global Resource Corp.'s Alternative Energy Technology

I know that there is also a different technology that China is trying to work on, sometimes called Underground Coal Gasification. If any of these things could be made to work, it would greatly increase the amount of recoverable resource - also make global warming worse. I expect the cost would still be pretty high with oil shale and the like, because of the large amount of extraneous material.

Isn't the material that is likely to be produced akin to natural gas? This would have to be converted to a gasoline or diesel substitute, if one is looking for a liquid fuel substitute.

There is also the issue of "scaling-up". How far away would actually producing gasoline / diesel in large quantities be, if the gasification process could be figured out today.

This technologiy really is more about subjecting oil shale, coal, residual plastics, oil slurry to microwaves. At certain frequency the molecules shake (like the water in your food in your home microwave) and turn to a gas which is then able to be collect as oil and gas. The technology has been looked at by DOE and looks very promising. They even claim to get 18 times more energy than they are putting in. So the EROEI is looking good thus far.

does that 18:1 include the mining and transportation energy, plus the energy involved in disposing of the ash?
That sounds too good to be true.
Bob Ebersole

This is a insitu process. In the same way a microwave is more efficient at heating your food than a conventional oven. Their microwaves are much more efficient than heating the rock with conventional heating. This is the claim. One of their units has been bought by Gershaw Recycling in New York to microwave plastic refuse into oil. It will be very interesting to see what Gershaw has to say about the unit after it uses it.

Well, I hope it works. I first read about using microwaves for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) in the early 1980's. The problems, as I recall were that you had to lower the microwave generator down the casing to the formation face, and then pump the oil out through another well bottom holed about 10 ft. away in the formation. Way too many holes to do anything deep-but it might work on very shallow heavy oil.

The problem with tuning refuse into oil is the small amounts of plastic and tires. Its not rare in garbage, but we're not using that much petroleum and gas to manufacture products that end up in the trash, and you can't get more out than you put in. So it may be another 1% solution.

Kuntsler's right about wasting time and resources to maintain a car culture. Alan's electric rail plan makes the most sense to me for the long haul.
Bob Ebersole

Collection may be an in-situ process but I'm presuming that the burning of these hydrocarbons will not be ("Did you tank up the Hummer today, Dear?").

Industrial society is faced with two big problems -- How to get our next hydrocarbon fix and how to ensure that "shooting up" doesn't kill us.

Unless you address the second problem, you have no solution at all.

In the same way a microwave is more efficient at heating your food than a conventional oven.

This is only true for small items. A 15 lb. turkey will take just as long to cook in a microwave since the microwaves only penetrate an inch or so into the meat, the rest is cooked 'conventionally' with conduction heat.

My Dad was an electrical engineer and at one point some wacko inventor was bugging him about a 'revolutionary' system using PV solar to produce microwaves to heat water, etc. etc. Dad just couldn't get it across to this guy that the whole process was massively inefficient given the nature of microwaves and the losses of energy at each step. Oh well, you know they laughed at Galileo.....

How efficient would klystrons be at creating the microwaves anyway? You heat the shale with natural gas you get 100% of the heat in the shale, and you don't get an EROEI of 18. Natural gas -> electicity -> microwaves -> heat seems a bit roundabout.

Maybe the point is to heat the liquid/tar, and not the rock, using something around the same 4GHz frequency that makes water molecules spin in my home appliance. If you can get the oil out before its heat is all conducted away into the rock, it could indeed be more efficient than bulk heating.
I remember the figure of 80% conversion efficiency of electricity to microwaves and vice-versa, but the highest number that's popping up on Google is 62%.

The reason why microwave is efficient is because waves are enclosed and can't escape. So after bouncing around few billion times they will get absorbed even if there is relatively low change of absorption on single pass. Here they are talking about something opposite. No enclosure which mean that loses will probably be huge.

Nah, I don't buy it: The rock impedance is low, so the VSWR is high, and the microwaves bounce off, channelling through the cracks in the rock. Of course you need a microwave frequency that's absorbed well enough by the tar so that it's all soaked up within meters, not kilometers.
I remember the ground penetrating radar made by an aerospace company - It had to operate down at rf, terrible insertion loss, just enough signal back to see a buried pipe a few meters down. No chance of microwaves getting into any but the driest and lowest density of soils - They just bounce off.

Even if this tech doesnt work in situ, there is always the possbility it could be done ex-situ after excavation in large mircowaves that this company is devloping. Would be much more efficient than current oil sand technologies and require far less water.


it probably could be done by excavation, but what does that do to the Energy Return On Energy Invested?

You've got to excavate the sand or shale, put it in the microwave heater, generate the microwaves with electricity, then move the residue to the disposal area and bury it.

The whole reason oil is cheaper than water at the grocery is the lack of handling. You drill a hole, install some production equipment and it flows out of the ground into a pipeline, is pumped to the refinery, and then flows or is pumped through the refinery. A huge amount less labor than shoveling coal or whatever. And there is no way to replicate that efficiency with any dry solid.That's why they use all that water in Alberta-making a slurry to pump, and using hot water to wash out the tar. Its not efficient. They are spending $30 to $40 a barrel just in processing costs, plus trying to amortise an investment of $100,000 per barrel per day of production.

Bob Ebersole


I'll second that.
Having tested industrial microwave plants for heating and curing chipboard and MDF, I am not an optimist.Regular oil heated hot presses were far more efficient. As the Germans will say " viel Geschrei und wenig Wolle :-).
Where microwaves work best is in laminating wood where resorcinol binders, aminoplast binders and similar polar binders can be used

Microwaves has to be produced, with a loss. The machinery could be excessively expensive and volominous compared to steam generation. The microwaves have to excite a polar material. Oil is not very polar. So poor efficiency. And oil is in contact with stone material and heat will immediately be conducted to the rock so any advantage is lost immediately.
Kind regards/And1

Hi Gail,

According to the Wikipedia article, coal gasification has been around for 200 years. It produces a range of gases, including 10% carbon monoxide and a whole lot of CO2.

From what I understand, the Chinese are planning in situ gasification by thermal processes-in plain english, setting the coal on fire underground and using the heat to produce gas. I'm sure they will be using coal beds too deep to mine by conventional means.

Coal, when heated, produces kerosene and coal tar. I don't know if these substances can be recovered in addition to the methane and ethane, but I suspect that those are the fuel for the combustion.

China uses quite a bit of gas directly in vehicles, without converting the gas to liquids. We do a lot of that here, plus run vehicles on liquified petroleum gas too (LPG). There's no technology problem, it costs around $2,000 a vehicle to convert cars to LNG. There's about 650,000 vehicles in the US using liquified natural gas (LNG) and LPG. Most of the city busses in Houston run on LNG, and you'll see them if you come to the ASPO convention October 17-20 this year. I think that LNG is the best bridge technology while we convert to electric vehicles and trains.

But, coal gassification scares me. Too much pollution.
Bob Ebersole

Starting underground coal fires sounds like a bad idea to me, because once you do that you can't put 'em out! And according to Jeff Goodell - "Big Coal" (very entertaining and informative read, highly recommended!) these underground coal fires can burn for "hundreds, even thousands of years" (p.11) We really need to start being nicer than that to our atmosphere...

These are some of the scarier aspects of climate change, the runaway processes we don't have a rat's rear end worth of mitigation. The methane production of thawing permafrost, underground coal fires-discussed also last week-China's existing fires are immense, but PA contributes some of her own.

Fires underground are perfectly okay, so long as they are controlled.

The chinese use 2 holes and control the O2 supply to the fire. The coal is well below the autoignition temperature, so everything is fine.

it's a good idea that they are persuing

If it does catch fire maybe they can douse it with something, like Kool-Aid.

There are various things written about underground coal gasification. This is an a href= "http://www.theoildrum.com/story/2006/3/5/010/09681?nocomments">article by Heading Out on the subject. The Coal of the Future report prepared in February 2007 for the European Commission also talks about this, from page 33 onward.

Apparently, if one can do it, one can (theoretically) also do some carbon sequestration as well. If there is more energy to be gained by not sequestering, there is a clear temptation to forget about it, however.

I can understand the attraction of all of these techniques. If they could be make to work, a fair amount of our unreachable "resources" could be transformed to "reserves".

Regarding LNG, don't you have to cool this to -160 degrees Celsius and put it in special boats to ship it? It seems like it would only be available in parts of the world with good supplies of natural gas. In the US, it seems like we would not have sufficient natural gas to use this as an alternate fuel.

Gail, yes, LNG has to be cooled, and compressed.

There's a hell of a lot of unconventional gas in this country-Mississipian and Pennsylvanian shales, and coal bed methane. The problem is it will cost $5 per thousand cubic feet (mcf) to drill the horizontal holes, frac it and get rid of the water. The latest estimates I've seen project 1.7:1 at $6.00/mcf, and thats over 30 years, its about like the tar sands. You could make better money buying government bonds if it were'nt for the subsidies.

There is no cheap substitute for oil that will keep us all driving internal combustion engines, IMHO.
Bob Ebersole

It sounds like what you are saying is that current cost estimates are projecting natural gas prices of $6.00/mcf, while the cost of producing natural gas from oil shale is expected to be $5,00 /mcf. At a price of $6.00/mcf, an oil shale investment will return 1.7 times the original amount invested over 30 years, which is a pretty poor return.

It seems like there would be more incentive to drill oil shale if natural gas prices increase. At $9.00/mcf or $12.00/mcf, I would expect the returns to be a lot better.

If natural gas prices go up a lot, do you see the natural gas from oil shale being developed? Would it be sufficient in quantity to offset the decline in natural gas from other sources?


The expected cost of producing natural gas is necessarily false, it will always be higher than what is published as "expected". That is what receding horizons are about. Costs in both price and energy for all forms of energy "production" increase at exponential rates, so much so that no reasonable expectations can be formulated without taking this into account.

Which is not to say that it doesn't happen, evidently. It's still, however, shoddy science and shoddy accounting. It hooks in suckers, that's the whole story.

Projected costs are now $5, and the price is $6. If the price becomes $10, the cost will in all likelihood be $9 (or more), because both price and cost increase for the exact same reasons. These are margins that leave no room for unexpected mishaps, which will always occur. I'd like to see the EROEI too for shale gas, no confidence there either.

I'm going to be an oil business heretic and tell you the truth. Due to intangible drilling costs and depletion, plus tax credits for 3-d seismic and accelerated depreciation on capital equipment costs, a good accountant can make a high income tax liability disappear. So just getting your money back with a small profit can look pretty good to a lot of people-some people think of it as trading dollars. Its also the basis of a lot of tax schemes, and I think the Canadian Tar Sands and Barnett Shale wells are mostly in that category. Where the investors intend to make their profits are through inflation in oil and gas prices.

But, as a grey-headed scarred-up veteran of the oil patch, I'll give anyone this good advice-If anyone mentions tax sheltering effects before they mention return on investment(ROI), or mentions Jesus, or tells you how they are very conservative, put your hand over your money and take a hike. But if they're putting a good piece of their own money in the deal, start talking about getting your money back in less than a year, talk about a realistic range of returns-and I mean 400% or better to justify the risk, then at least think about it a little more.

Those shale wells may last 30 years, but they have to be re-fractured every five years to maintain production, and that costs as much as the original frac. The frac water has to be separated and disposed of, and since the wells are making water, they take a lot more work and equipment than a standard gas well. Same with coal bed methane, the water must be pumped off and disposed of to produce commercially, plus the gas must be compressed to enter a pipeline, mostly around 1,000 PSI in the US.

Any water coming out of a hydrocarbon well is considered a low level hazerdous waste in the US. An operator must take it to a disposal well and pump it down, it can't be evaporated in a pond or dumped in a creek. That's very expensive-sometimes as much as a couple of dollars a barrel. That's why wells are plugged-protect fresh water resources. I don't know why the Canadians are letting the tar sands operators get away with disposal pits, but they may very well change their rules in the future.

But, I think all the hydrocarbons are going to be developed as long as anyone can convince themselves that there will be a profit. Prices will go up, but maybe not for a couple of years for natural gas. I think its the best automotive fuel for the near future, and look at Boone Picken's LNG stations in the Dallas area-he does, too.
Bob Ebersole

Thanks for the honest reply!

My God thats a depressing article, WT. Its worse than I'd heard! 13% of the horizontal wells reach pay-out, and 30% of the verticle holes!

Looks like George Mitchell was the smartest one of all, selling out to Devon. About like Claton Williams at Giddings, selling out at $32 dollar oil in 1981.
Bob Ebersole

I guess I won't hold my breath on gas from shale coming to the rescue. It sounds like there are some real problems with profitability - and horizontal drilling seems to make the problem worse, rather than better, so far.

Based on the descriptions given here, and my knowledge of physics and radar technology, the process in massively goofy.

1) the right frequency is the optimum one for absorption of microwave energy into the oil. With good adsorption, the mean distance of propagation from the antenna into the oil deposit will be a few wave lengths of the microwave, i.e. a few tens of centimeters.

2) the oil is in very small channels within the rock or sand or whatever (on order of millimeters to microns in smallest dimension). Heat transfer from the hot oil to the ambient temperature rock will rapid. The whole body of rock/oil will heat together in the small region where the energy is applied (see point 1 above)

3) Electromagnetic energy penetrates earth/rock only a few tens of feet at any frequency, so even the worst wrong frequency by the microwave heating hypothesis doesn't have the range to heat an oil deposit effectively.

For coal, in situ gassification has been proposed using the 19th century technologies of the producer gas process and/or the water gas process. Both require the coal seam to be gas tight. I understand that China has real problems with coal seam fires that they can't extinguish. The fact of these fires indicate the existence of leaks that allow combustion air into the seam and combustion products to escape. Perhaps the Chinese plan a massive application of silicone caulk to the overburden on their coal_;-)

I like your silicone caulk idea! LOL

>Isn't the material that is likely to be produced akin to natural gas? This would have to be converted to a gasoline or diesel substitute, if one is looking for a liquid fuel substitute.

The material produced from in-situ (or in ground) coal gasification is producer gas which contains nitrogen, oxygen, Carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrogen and contaimnents. Its best suited for use in power plants but its not really pratical for conversion into plastics or liquid fuels. For conversion the feedstock much be a near pure version called syngas which is mostly Carbon Monoxide and hydrogen. Another problem is that coal usually contains high levels of sulphur and other containments which degrade or interfere with the cataylsts used to convert syngas into other products.

The power output that can be extracted using producer gas is considerable lower than natural gas. I don't have figures on hand, but I would guessimate that a gas turbine using producer gas would operate at about 30% of output power compared to using natural gas. I think maintaince would also be much higher since the sulphur and other containments (even using scrubbers) will corrode and foul up turbines over time. FWIW: I have no doubt that when North America Natural gas reserves enter depletion, that we'll see use of in-Situ coal production to keep those gas turbine cranking out megawatts.

>There is also the issue of "scaling-up". How far away would actually producing gasoline / diesel in large quantities be, if the gasification process could be figured out today.

I suspect that CTL (coal to Liquids) isn't going to scale very well. If we examine similar projects, such as the Canada oil sands and the Natural Gas to Liquid projects in the Middle East, the costs soar exponentially to production volume. CTL would even likely be more expensive than the Tar Sands and GTL projects since its adds at least another layer of complexity. If we are lucky, North America might be able to use CTL to produce enough liquid fuels to keep agraculture going to feed our population, but I wouldn't bet on it.

FWIW: In-situ coal gasification is a act of last minute desperation as it cannot seriously replace natural gas as feedstock for petrochemicals (at least at current production volumes and cost) and nor can it match the energy performance of natural gas. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

The Other elephant in the room: (or maybe even the only real elephant...)

Prof. Rapley - New Head of the Science Museum.


It is Rapley's view that the "jury is still out" on the prediction by Thomas Malthus, the 19th-century demographer, that the human race would exceed its food supply by having too many children.

Last year, Rapley wrote an article on the BBC website saying that "if we believe that the size of the human 'footprint' is a serious problem (and there is much evidence for this) then a rational view would be that, along with a raft of measures to reduce the footprint per person, the issue of population management must be addressed".

"My position on population is that I am disturbed that no one will talk about it," Rapley says.

His proposal that the human population should be managed was met with two reactions: hundreds of emails from people around the world supporting him for standing up and being counted, and what he describes as a "daft response" from commentators including Dominic Lawson, warning that Rapley was out to curb our freedom to procreate.

It isn't the "other" elephant...IT IS THE ELEPHANT!

Peak Oil, water, food, etc. Are all caused by our over-population directly.

Our mismanagement, and lack of foresight (in many matters) only aggravate the situation.

75 Million more this year. They need to be fed, drink, bath, clothed, and probably kept warm.

/Rant Off

On the bright side (is there a bright side), maybe a quick realization of Peak Oil and an Energy induced depression(?) will begin to curb growth.

Because just like KSA - "It's isn't happening voluntarily"

I'm not sure that I accept the direction of causality that you are suggesting. There is something to the argument that industrialization engendered the population "explosion" and as such, it is consumption that causes over-population, not the other way around. That said, it doesn't deny the connection between the two, just questions whether or not the attention should be on absolute numbers or on the socio-cultural issues which drive "growth" (not just population, but economic in general).

There seems to be an assumption on the part of many first worlders that if the population were smaller than we could all live fabulously wealthy, consumption heavy lives without concern about the environment or impact on resources. To my mind, this misses the fundamental necessity of continued growth to drive the sort of wealth generating economy we have.

...fundamental necessity of continued growth to drive the sort of wealth generating economy...

That's the economists' mantra: growth, growth, growth.

When does it become 'a growth'? ( as in, "I have a growth on my ___" )

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

You're not the first, nor will you be the last to suggest that humans are but a cancerous growth on the (fill in body part here) of the planet.

This is exactly the sort of exchange that just annoys the piss out of me. DIYer points out that the concept of growth is not always a positive thing, and shaman accuses DIYer of hating the whole human race. A direct personal attack having nothing to do with the issues involved here.

This is the kind of BS I encounter whenever I try to discuss anything important with anyone. Which is why I've given up. For now...

shaman, one very simple concept you obviously don't get: the world is round. Finite. Infinite growth IS NOT POSSIBLE on a finite planet. See Albert Bartlett's video.

and stop insulting people...

Wow, talk about a misinterpretation! Take a look again. I'm agreeing with DIYer. It was not an insult, it was meant to be a humorous aside. Reread my first post in this thread - it's hard for me to see how you can read it as a defense of growth. But then, I'm not wearing your specs, if you'd be so kind as to point out where I went wrong in my explanation, I'll try to improve in the future.

(Oh, and just a suggestion, but you might want to use a person's screen name as a means of determining how to "read" them. Would you really expect a "shaman" to be extolling growth?)

It is easy to bring population growth to zero, and it works cross culture--
Conditions must be created in which women have equal economic and political rights (and the education that follows). Population rate usually go negative as this happens--
Just look at Europe, or other developed industrial democracies.
Of course, with religion, and other toxic memes, this is impossible.

hightrekker, you are so right about the importance of empowering women. Ancient Egypt, possibly the longest-running culture in the history of the planet (approx 5000 bce to approx 1500 ce when overrun by Islam), never overshot their narrow river valley. This was due to at least two factors: birth control, and empowerment of women in decision making. When the ancient Greeks visited Egypt, they regarded the Egyptian men as a bunch of wimps because women owned businesses, initiated divorce, etc.

While I'm on ancient Egypt, IMO another factor in their sucess was an acceptance of circumstances. They considered it to be just fine to continue to use knapped stone tools well into the bronze age, because they had plenty of stone but no coal or wood for smelting metal. The chariots you see in "The Ten Commandments" were not a local innovation; chariots were used by a conquering army that it took the Egyptians generations to overthrow/assimilate.

I'll wrap this up with my own wack-ass view of history: almost everyone in ancient Egypt was somewhat drunk all of the time. They consumed much of their daily calories in what archeaologists call "beer", but was more like a mildly alcoholic soup. This was a staple in the diet of men, women and children, but they still managed to put up the pyramids.

I've also read that about the time of the American revolution, the per-capita ethanol consumption was about a quart per week of distilled spirits. As this includes men, women, and children, I'll conjecture the average male put away more than a quart of whiskey or rum per week. Its only since centralized industry demanded unimpared productivity and work on dangerous equipment that being drunk "at work" became an issue to be controlled. I'll suggest that 20 years from now a lot more ethanol will be going into Americans than into their cars.

Errol in Miami

Interesting. Do you have a book recommendation? Do you know off hand what was the method of birth control?

Putting a baby in a basket of reeds and floating it down the river?

Crocodile Dung...

You work out the details for yersel...

any more info about the beer theory? I want to know more.

I'd heard that, too. (My aunt was told by her doctor to drink beer while she was pregnant, because it was "good nutrition for the baby." That sounds completely wacko by today's standards.)

Anyway, the argument is that, for Stone Age peoples, whole grain was not very nutritious. The "bread" they baked with unrefined flour and often no leavening was so hard it was basically inedible, and even if you did eat it, you wouldn't get much nutrition out of it. Beer was far more nutritious than bread, at least until modern grains and flour-processing techniques arose.

Some scientists tried making beer according to the ancient recipe in the Hymn to Ninkasi.

Although Sumerian beer was made several millennia after barley was first domesticated, the process used by the Sumerians is a "time platform" from which we can ask questions about earlier practices. When the "Hymn to Ninkasi" was written, beer was made using bread. But bappir, the Sumerian bread, could be kept for long periods of time without spoiling, and so it was a storable resource. We also know, from various annotations on bappir and beer in the Sumerian and Akkadian dictionaries, that bappir was eaten only during food shortages. In essence, making bread was a convenient way to store the raw materials for brewing beer.

A history of beer

Once upon a time some dumb Neanderthals left a bunch of grain in the rain (or a really damp cave) in Spain, and the dumbest of them all drank some of it after a few weeks (yeah, he was pushed). He laughed for 24 hours straight, which made the others really jealous (Neanderthals, like Germans and Australians, are, to this day, not known for a sense of humor by anyone but themselves).

There was one smart one among them, who figured out what happened: Grain+rain+a few weeks=lots of fun. And this was before they tried it on the women.

To enhance his inclusive fitness in the tribe, he tried to reproduce the sequence, and -amazingly- succeeded. He then fed the brew to all the others. Big mistake, since one of them turned out to be a bad drunk, and he got his skull smashed in. That left it to the 2nd smartest one to repeat the process. This of course took about a 1000 years, but his g-g-g-great-grandson managed to do it. And drank it all himself, too scared (and attached to his skull) to feed it to the others.

Bad idea. Another 1000 years down the road, another great-g-g-grandson gave everyone a little bit, but no more. That was a real smart move, so they called him OneStone, a big honor. They were living in Germany at the time.

1000 years later, a great drought happened. All there was to drink for a whole year was the brew (yes, they made a lot, at the girls' insistence). Now the tribe figured out (remember, the Neanderthals had bigger brains than us) that all of a sudden much less tribesmen and women got sick and died. At that point, it just so happened there was another smart one in the tribe. If you've kept score, you know a smart he, no, wait, she, of course, popped up only once every 1000 years . Time was not really an issue in those days.

She connected the dots: by drinking beer instead of water, the tribe stopped dying, by at least 50%, from water diseases, germs, worms, spontaneous exploding and other unspeakable parasitical afflictions.

Approximately 2 1/2 weeks after, the last Neanderthal was unceremoniously slain by our very own forefathers. 5000 years later, by pure accident, our first (and last) real smart forefather was born. We killed her on the stake, but this time we kept the recipe. We learn slow, but we're not completely clueless.

Still, if for a moment we allow ourselves to look beyond personal tragedy, and set sight on the larger picture of our glorious historic achievements, that's why we drink beer to this day.

Well, not the Russians, obviously, who use beer just to brush their teeth, and then spit it out over their left shoulder. Or the Scots, who use it to scratch the itch of whatever's left under their kilts, or the Americans, whose "beer" must by law resemble buffalo piss, or the French, who invented a pre-mating ritual which requires grapes and bare feet, etc. etc., but you get the idea.

(all dates are approximations)

1000 years later, a great drought happened

What followed the great drought?
A greater draught, of course.

Heh, I'm a sucker for puns--and that is a good opportunistic one right there. Salute

oh man, that was one of the most entertaining posts I've read in a while! I'm going to repost it at LATOC, assumming you don't mind.

long as you make sure to carry the message forth:

we drink beer to stay alive,
and staying alive's hard work, as everybody would confirm,

well, when asked the right way, of course
but that's what polls are all about to start with

so we've established that drinking beer is hard work
and now I'll suggest I should be paid to do it

because not only is it hard work
I also save the health care system a lot of money
there's far more truth in there than people like

the society of 5% sloth

maybe I can do a children's version
called 'beer in the time of the dinosaurs'
I been told that kids like dinosaurs

so that would be like the educational version of the history of beer
two pterodactyls with one stone

see?, there's Albert again
big honor, one stone, king of scientists
and king of beers

I would have loved to spend some time with that man
he must have been a riot, Herr one stone
mean to women, mind you
but then there's lots of that in the history of beer

not to worry, girls, you always win in the end
fun for the whole family

I'll drop you a line if I can find a mail address on your site (wait, just did through killer ape) and we can discuss how their profound knowledge of beer enabled the foaming German vandals to sack the wining Roman empire

Errol, it was the Hittites that gave the Egyptians a hard time. Ramses took his army to fight the Hittites and was nearly surrounded and killed but was saved at the last moment by his own army. Ramses agreed to a truce with the Hittite king but upon arrival back in Egypt Ramses made up a big story about how he whipped the Hittites and had all the battle scenes carved on his monuments and temples. Ramses had some good pr people.

You are correct about the rum. Only a bit over a hundred years or so ago, rum was part of the daily wage and consumed in large quantities - even for breakfast - here in New England. Hard cider too. In part because there wasn't always good water. Nutrition too, perhaps.

cfm in Gray, ME

The first time I was going to Russia my father told me to have a generous serving of vodka the first thing every morning. He said that was the only way to avoid stomach pains and a horrible diarrhoea. And it's always worked so far: I have never had an upset stomach in Russia or any other country with relatively low levels of hygiene. It's good fun too.

That's true, too. If the water isn't clean, you are better off drinking beer or wine.

But the wine was usually mixed with water. One part wine to three or four parts water. It seems that even in ancient times, they were aware of the dangers of too much alcohol, because drinking wine straight was often frowned on.

"It is harmful to drink wine alone, or again, to drink water alone, while wine mixed with water is sweet and delicious and enhances one's enjoyment."

I found a link that provides some evidence about the correlation between education and birth rate. I would be interested if anyone else knew of more solid information sources.


Sunspot, my sentiments exactly! I get so damn tired of hearing people just uttering stupid platitudes and think they are saying something profound. If a person would criticize another’s argument then they should do it with a counter argument, Not some dumb platitude like:

You are not the first nor will you be the last to…blah, blah blah.


Yes, we have heard all this before. We have been running out of oil ever since….


This is just doomer porn, how can you live with your miserable self if you believe this?

And I could perhaps dig back through the archives and dig up dozens of other such rational fallacies. They go by several names but the above are known as “The Fallacy of Special Pleading” or the second one above is "The Fallacy of the False Analogy". They are all covered in a great book by Morris Engel called: With Good Reason: An Introduction to Informal Fallacies.

Is the art of argument completely lost? Definitely not. Some people still know how to make a logical argument but others either don’t know how or are just too damn lazy. Or perhaps there is another reason they choose to utter stupid platitudes instead of trying to answer another’s argument. Perhaps deep down they know the other argument is correct and would rather utter some non-answer rather than face the truth.

Ron Patterson

OK, shaman, I reread the whole thing. Including your first post upthread, which is:

"What evidence is there that it is modern technology that is responsible for the longer lifespans. Can you disentangle "nutrition and medicine" from simple improved hygiene?

And to answer your last question - plenty."

I get nothing from that, really. And a screen name of "shaman" doesn't imply any certain worldview to me, but maybe that's just my ignorance of that subject.

Anyway, clearly you think I misinterpereted your views, so I apologize. Make my point a general one and not aimed at you. And thanks for the support, Ron!

All fine and well, but if you would read a little closer, you might just understand that I was not arguing against DIYer.

The first step in participating in an artful argument is listening to (or reading)the person you are arguing with. When you go off half cocked arguing against something that is your preconception of what you think the other person would probably be saying (because you've seen it all before), you just make everyone involved look foolish.

Okay. We look foolish. Thanks for playing your part!

Back to the "artful argument"...

His proposal that the human population should be managed was met with two reactions: hundreds of emails from people around the world supporting him for standing up and being counted, and what he describes as a "daft response" from commentators including Dominic Lawson, warning that Rapley was out to curb our freedom to procreate.

Unfortunately, humankind seems to prefer war, disease and famine, to family planning.

humankind seems to prefer war, disease and famine,

I surmise this is because they think (wrongly) that they have more chance to escape these predicaments than to escape some rule of the community "curbing their freedom" (to procreate, drive SUVs, etc...)

"Land of the Free and Home of the Brave", in their bodybags...

CHESHIRE - A mother and her two daughters were killed during a home invasion Monday morning that ended with the arrest of two suspects who rammed several police cars as they tried to escape, authorities said.

A fourth family member -- the woman's husband and the father of the girls -- was badly beaten in the hours-long invasion. He was in serious but stable condition at St. Mary's Hospital in Waterbury.


The morning news strikes closer to home than usual when something like that happens in quiet little Cheshire. I've spent a lot of time helping to rebuild and then visiting my best friend's house in Cheshire. I even lived in his basement for a month or two. Everyone seemed to know each other and everyone seemed to get along well. Even though it is close to several large cities, Waterbury, New Haven, Hartford, and not all that far from NYC, you couldn't ask for a safer-seeming community.

Edit: My friend tells me he and his kids knew one of the perps - lived in a house with a clay court, but nothing was maintained and the house went downhill over the years.

LATOC has been posting articles to the effect that the ten-million-and-up crowd have already retreated to gated communities:



... and events like this could drive any of us that can afford it to find a place to hide our families from the turmoil.

Fixed fortifications are not the answer for security of the wealthy, or anyone else. Fixed fortifications (gated communitites) will be the first places to attract the attention of a starving people, and in the US those people will be armed. Low profile, stealth, along with community networking, is a better way to go imo. Wealthy people living in gated communities, paying rent-a-cops close to minimum wage to guard their homes, are only fooling themselves if they believe they have achieved security.

Richard Rainwater (net worth $2.5 billion plus) appears to be integrating himself into (and investing in) a small agricultural community in the Carolinas, while increasing his ability to grow his own food.

I can't see ol Dick Rainwater actually sowing and tilling his own food, more like increasing his ability to have others grow his food.

Landowners for the win.

looks like we are going back to a feudal society folks!

But those were part of the good ol' days, right? Lets ask Kunstler what he thinks...

A plantation in South Carolina - what a novel idea!

This really bothers me, the notion of hordes of "starving mutant ninja biker zombies" (excuse the sarcasm) always being able to overcome any defenses that rational nice people might erect. This assumes that the defenses are piss poor. This assumes that those doing the defending are not as well armed as the attackers. This ignores historical facts about battles in which the defender almost always has superiority and that it often requires from 3:1 to over 8:1 attacker advantage to even have a hope of overrunning a location. It ignores that as people spread out from urban centers that their density per square mile drops as the square of the distance from city center (in other words extremely rapidly). It ignores so many things that I have to even wonder if you understand ground warfare at all, in the up close and personal sense.

I spent over 9 years in the US military. When they told me I could not be an operator, I briefly put up with being a REMF before I finally decided to get out. I believe, from that other life a few decades ago, that I know a wee tiny little bit of whereof I speak regarding military matters. And I am telling you that if you believe that static defenses are automatically useless in a collapse scenario then you are, in my opinion of course, completely, utterly, and totally wrong.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

And if you thing a gated community can be defended by the typical occupants you are completely, utterly and totally wrong. The rent-a-cops are not going to stick around and fight for something they have no vested interest in. Plus, those living in the community must come and go to get necessities so they will be at risk during the time they are out of the community. I believe the entire concept is poorly thought out. It might work while rule of law exists but I not without real cops to help protect the place.

Perhaps skilled fighters will see a return to high status.

I recall a Wash Post article from several years ago whereby Potomac, I think, rejected a less expensive housing development intended for teachers, state police, and others of that income level. The average Potomac resident didn't want to live near those people. They might have to reconsider.

I also recall I Will Fear No Evil, by Heinlein, in which rich people travel between home and office in Rolls-Skodas, armored limousines with a crew of bodyguard/gunners.

It seems you are unfamiliar with such simple things as Blackwater, just one of many mercenary military companies in existence today. Blackwater is amongst the most well known of these companies, which taken together are actually supplying several tens of thousands of "contractors" in Iraq. They supplied security for the wealthy in the wake of Katrina in New Orleans. If you think the "ten-million-and-up crowd" that Donal originally mentioned are not capable of hiring serious security as opposed to "rent a cop" security, then we simply must disagree here.

Now I freely admit that not all such gated communities will be well run or well defended, but some will. Are you planning to gamble on which ones will or will not be?

I suspect you are thinking about gated communities today which might include someone who has a large mortgage and no appreciable savings but a job that lets them live that way. That was not the subject of Donal's observation though, was it? Donal was talking about people seriously wealthy enough (the "ten-million-and-up crowd") to engage functional private security.

I suggest you re-read the thread and establish context to your replies.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

It's not the gated communities per se, but your average rural farm. I'm hesitant to get into the "doomer porn", but if the collapse they envision proceeds, I can't see any way of defending the small farm or co-ops they aspire to. You could hole up and shoot back, but for how long? Meanwhile, your place is marked, esp after the shooting. Your livestock? Gone. Hay or crops? Burned. Water supply, like a creek-great place to dump rotting livestock.

Which is one of several reasons that I believe the present strategy of buying farmland as a hedge against complete collapse questionable. You'll be growing for others. If this is your vision of post peak oil, that of complete societal collapse, I think a better strategy would be preparing for life as a nomad.

Bury basic items you might need such as footwear and clothes (used to thwart later theft or envy) and a small pocketknife-one that is completely in your pocket, forget the swiss market with a gadget for every occasion, a small blade works wonders in countless situations, and is easily hid. The used 25 gallon juice concentrate containers would hold all you need for a long while, esp spread out over a large area.

From today's LATOC update

The Wealthy Will Hire Mercenaries to Protect Themselves from Systems Disruptions, Power Failures

If these [systemes disruption] techniques are even lightly applied to the fragile electrical and oil-gas systems in Russia, Saudi Arabia, or anywhere in the target-rich West, we could see a rapid onset of economic and political chaos unmatched since the advent of blitzkrieg.

Wealthy individuals and multinational corporations will be the first to bail out of our collective system, opting instead to hire private military companies, such as Blackwater and Triple Canopy, to protect their homes and facilities and establish a protective perimeter around daily life.


Yes, yes, I know "that's just doomer porn!" Not get back to writing your congressman kiddies . . .

Now, now, FastCompany is a reputable magazine, they know better than that! Really worry when stories like this hit People. Until then, what's the weather?

OK...this is starting to sound like the plot line for the 1974 movie Zardoz.


The Wealthy Will Hire Mercenaries to Protect Themselves from Systems Disruptions, Power Failures

I keep wondering what the 'Wealthy' will have for 'wealth' except for the physical ownership of their property. How will they pay these private armies if the whole system has collapsed and there is no more fiat (or toyota or ford.....).

We better think these things through guys, this is important stuff........

Your point about the $10 mil and up crowd is a given. They represent about 1-2% of the population and a tiny % of the people living in gated communities.

Yes, I am well aware of Blackwater. They are mercenaries that work for the higest bidder. Not exactly a new concept, and not an option for most living in gated communities.

MY POINT is that the vast majority of the people that are living in gated communities and believe that they have security are dead wrong.

"starving mutant ninja biker zombies"

I used to party with those guys at the Viking Bar and Grill in Detroit.
Bunch of animals.

Of course, if one of the residents telephones his friend Dick Cheney and requests that the USAF be called in to open up a free fire zone around the perimeter, that might change the whole outlook a bit. . .

Also, Gated communities are not designed or built as defensive positions.

Small towns that have good enough leadership to pull together and form an effective militia should be able to hold their own pretty well unless they have to go up against any US military units (official or rogue). The loner in a cabin cannot hope to hold out indefinitely.

WNCO, exactly the point that I was attempting to make before someone that lives in a gated community got their ego bruised.

A small town or community that is close has a better chance than a gated community. The town has water, sewer, electricity, as long as there is energy for these utilities to continue to run. Their greatest asset is people that know each other and have some degree of trust in each other. A community like this can choose to limit the number of entrances and exits, can work together on projects of mutual interest, and cover each others backs. In our community we have worked at establishing this type of relationship and cooperation. Will it pay off? I dont know, but it is a good feeling to have a close community and I feel safer here than I would in a gated community.

To whom are you referring, River? Me? Go ahead, you can name me and it certainly looks like you meant me given that we were the two most deeply involved in that discussion. For your information, I do not live in a gated community so you are wrong again. I was simply pointing out the fallacies of your position, of which you seem to have many.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

>I believe, from that other life a few decades ago, that I know a wee tiny little bit of whereof I speak regarding military matters. And I am telling you that if you believe that static defenses are automatically useless in a collapse scenario then you are, in my opinion of course, completely, utterly, and totally wrong.

FWIW: There is a significant difference between preping for a collapse scenario and relocating to a gated community. River and others are right, a gated community offers zero protection or immunity to a collapse. When the bolsheviks seized power, gated dwellings did little good to the aristocrats. Plus Its silly to compare a military fortication to a gated community. People living on the inside are dependant on the people on the out side to supply them with food, fuel, electricity, water, etc. I

don't any of the wealthy consider a collapse envitable. More likely the probably believe the global economy will fall into a depression (aka housing bubble/pending credit crunch) where money still buys them everything they need to live well, while limiting themselves to exposure of poverty that would surround them.

Fixed fortifications with stored energy have another name:


At what point do the hired security guards realise that rather than guarding the rich, they can exterminate them and move their own families in?

Who guards the guards?

And once again, we learn that the police will save us from the bad guys "in time." People know not to break into people's houses when people might be home where I live, as they'd end up leaving the scene via a coroner's van. People who live in "nice, rich" areas think they are safe just because their neighbors aren't crackheads, while simultaneously forgetting that those same people can hop in a car and come to the nice neighborhood. Even then, the nice rich guy next door might lose his mind somehow, and decide to pay you a visit.

My parents are like that. They moved to "nice" neighborhoods, and think that doing so will save them from potential violence. It doesn't matter where you live, and especially when TSHTF, it's the "nice" neighborhoods that are going to get sacked by the hungry masses, because they know there will be plenty to loot, and for some reason the rich people have a propensity to not arm themselves.
~Durandal (http://www.wtdwtshtf.com/)

Durandal: Your parents are right. Contrary to popular mythology, violent criminals lack the necessary motivation and foresight to travel great distances to commit crime. If your house is attacked, it will overwhelmingly be from someone living in the vicinity. Another reason for this is that most violent criminals are not committing rational, goal-oriented crime, rather they are impulsely reacting and when one is in such a animalistic psychological state an unfamilar area will be threatening. These animals are far more dangerous on their own turf.

This will be true as long as the invaders are essentially criminals. That's the case today because competent, rational people are gainfully employed and can easily feed themselves and their families.

If in the future the doomer scenario comes to pass, things are different.

The invaders will no longer be from the irrational, stupid, criminal class, but they will be determined and hungry. They'll put their competence into figuring out how to take what they need to survive.

I doubt there will be major energy/thermodynamic problems in primary food production capability, even in a seriously oil constrained future. This, as in sum food calories produced divided by population.

The problem will be that many people won't have the money to buy it because they won't have a decent paying job. This isn't theoretical, it already happens in Africa; some people starve or have little access to good food while excellent agricultural produce is flown to Europe.

Just as there's probably (wild ass non-quantified guess) enough oil production divided by global population to propel every adult on an efficient scooter for a couple hundred miles per month. But that's not how it works, is it?

In energy constrained future, which will show up for most people as a money constrained reality, the hypercapitalist way leads to revolution. Let's hope we choose the FDR way instead of the fascist or communist ways. I fear the leaders will choose the Louis XIV way.

False statement in the current environment.

I suggest you study Washington, DC, the public transportation system there, and the spread of crime from the city center to the suburban enclaves and how it occurred. And mind you, Washington, DC is not unique in this regard.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

Grey: Did you even read what I wrote? Yes, crime can spread to a suburban enclave, because the criminals can take up residence near a suburban enclave. If you have evidence that gangs of home invaders are getting on Greyhound buses and travelling great distances to attack nice looking places at random, please present it. If you have info re DC you think is of interest, provide a link or something (or just reminisce about your glory days as a grunt).

Ah, the obligatory personal attack, plus a strawman assertion that I never made. How cute...

Ok, let's look at a few things just to get you started.

This first is just one of many criminology papers that is refocusing away from individuals and away from neighborhoods to "places" and why certain places become crime focal points.


This next paper is an examination of serial violent offenders (without regard to specific type of violent offense). It discusses the application of computer technology towards mapping the likely locations of an offender's residence against the crimes committed. In other words, "locality" is a very vague idea that depends on many other factors and many crimes that would be seen as "local" are crimes that still might cover many miles of distance.


There are lots more here but a key concept in investigating criminal hotspots is the notion of "awareness" of a space and familiarity with it. In Los Angeles, for example, crime spaces are often seen covering several miles (easily taking you from the urban city into some of the suburbs). Locality in Manhattan is different from Los Angeles. In Washington, DC, particularly on the Maryland side, "locality" appeared to extend several miles outward perhaps as far as Rockville but not as far as Gaithersburg.

The US DOJ has a "weed and seed" program that attempts to attack criminal hot spots by "weeding" out criminals and "seeding" human services to then keep them out. A "weed and seed" block may be as small as a few blocks but can be as large as 15 square miles. Given that criminals have shown predisposition towards leaving a buffer zone around their own residence, this again fits the notion that criminal activity can cover several miles of area. And this is borne out by real life observations. In Houston, I've seen reports of crimes in La Porte having been committed by persons later arrested but who lived in inner city Houston. That's a range of about a dozen miles right there and La Porte is a suburb of Houston. I've seen the same thing with Pasadena but not with Clear Lake and Friendswood, probably because there are large buffers between them and the rest of Houston (Ellington Air Field and Hobby Airport respectively).

DOJ Weed and Seed program:

If you start reading up on locality and "places" in crime theory, it can absorb you for many hours but the key thing I've taken away from that topic is that what a given criminal perceives as "local" varies widely, depending often on the places themselves, such as Los Angeles and Manhattan experiencing clearly different perspectives of locality.

In Great Britain, for example, they had to create a specific program for criminals using the M11 as a transit route between London and the more northern parts of the country.


So what I am saying is that assuming that you are safe in some suburban enclave is not a fixed truth at all. The distance criminals are willing to travel varies between cities and depends on factors that allow your location to become "local" to criminals in their experience.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

Grey: I shouldn't get personal. Re location, I basically agree with you-it's just a judgement of how far the animals are likely to roam in any given city/area. The other thing is that in the USA, the police forces often treat different neighbourhoods differently e.g. Beverly Hills gets more effective and responsive policing than East LA. If things get really bad in the USA, I would expect to see the local police forces given powers that are inconceiveable right now.

As a sidebar one thing police look for in serial murder/rape cases is the perpetrator usually has a vehicle with lots of miles on the odometer.
They do a lot of driving while on the hunt, which is pretty much all the time.

Places like Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Simi Valley and quite a few others have their own police forces. That's why they can use more effective tactics, they don't have to answer to the LA political "leadership".
LAPD has no jurisdiction. Many LA cops live in Simi Valley because it isn't even in LA County.

Um, I come from there, and that is the first I've heard of that. Not in terms of shoplifting, which is another subject (and a fairly ugly one - let's just say that store security always seems to pick out the suspicious customers unerringly, and only occasionally had to pay a massive fine for detaining a black customer who actually did buy the coat they were wearing, for example).

But then, during the late 80s crack epidemic 2 people a day on average were being killed in DC (no, those weren't firecrackers you heard then) - at the peak of that crime wave, essentially all the murders were in open air drug market areas.

Obviously, a 17 year old who can take Metro to a suburban mall is more likely to shoplift than a 45 year old office worker - interesting that the 17 year old just might be the office worker's child, who gets a warning in that case. A 17 year who had probably applied to college - it was certainly the pattern I knew when growing up in Northern Virginia. The morals of the middle class kids in Fairfax at that time were certainly no better than those of DC residents (we had more disposable income for drugs and abortions, not to mention to buy a replacement car after another drunk driving accident), it was just that the 'justice' system was more concerned about making sure our youthful indiscretions didn't ruin our future. Sort of like our current president experienced, which likely formed his sympathetic view of waiving jail time for faithfully perjuring government employees.

I haven't lived there for a good while, but such studies would be taken with a big grain of salt from my own perspective. Especially since it is so convenient to blame other people without actually questioning what is happening with your own children. Watching this happen around me while growing up certainly formed some of my more deeply held convictions about American society. We punish the weak as an example, and coddle the well off instead of holding them to the same standard expected of the poor, while decrying how the system has grown too lax. Which is actually true, though not the way that most people spouting such platitudes believe. Or to put it differently - the fact that ExxonMobil's management and shareholders can't even be bothered to adequately fund a 4 billion dollar pension shortfall out of less than half of one quater's profits seems much more criminal to me than some 14 year old stealing lipstick from Macy's at The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City.

Yes, expat:
It's social inequality in yet another form.

Now in China they just executed the head of their FDA for corruption. They may have done so simply for business reasons, to resume food exports, but he's just as dead. Could you imagine how many US officals would be twisting slowly, slowly in the wind, were that standard applied here?

As they say in Middle Earth, "Kill one to warn one hundred."

This is a big reason people resist public transportation. They're afraid if you build a subway, they will come. Criminals and other "undesirables," that is.

I have to say, almost every time I read TOD I come away thinking that America is almost like a different planet.
The idea that anyone would resist public transportation because the fear of undesirables travelling on it is completely foreign and bizarre to me. Almost everyone here is absolutely clamouring for better public transportation - the main reason we're not getting it, according to some commentators anyway, is the culture of privatisation, PPPs and avoiding government debt at all costs. But it getting to be enough of a vote-changer that I expect (/hope) there will definitely be more action soon.


I live in the bluest, most liberal, anti-Bush, anti-Big Oil city (Santa Rosa) in the US. To illustrate, when Al Gore came to speak at one of the bookstores, you had women practically throwing their undies at him.

Strangely, I'm the only middle or upper middle class person who rides the public transit here. It's most the very elderly, the indigent, and the (obviously) chemically-dependent or mentally impaired. (And me)

Well...sure...but are you suggesting that the undie-throwers really don't want more public transport because they're worried about 'undesirables'?
Surely the main reason people don't use PT in your part of the world is just because it's so bad? I mean, ours is not great, but its functional. Yesterday I wanted to see if I could get to my son's playgroup by bus - and sure enough there was a single bus that went almost door-to-door (5 min walking at either end). Only came every 30 minutes, but for me that wasn't an issue.
And I live in one of the worst parts of my city as far as public transport goes.

The "leftie/liberal" middle class types here tend to live close to the city, or at least close to train lines, so tend to use PT a fair amount.

Trust an American to give you the common American consensus - you will be robbed, beaten, raped, and murdered if you ever think about taking public transportation, because all the decent people drive, and only the dregs of society even consider getting around that way. As a matter of fact, the same thing will likely happen to you if you ever think of actually going into an American city, period.

And when that happens, it is your fault anyways.

There is a reason why the U.S. seems to be ruled by fear and fantasy - it is.

I think the undie throwers and white liberals refust to use public transit for one of three reaons, or a combination:

1. It's not as quick and convenient as a car

2. It's considered low-status

3. They have safety concerns

1. ...is surely patently untrue along peak hour commuter routes...well, here anyway.

2. I can sort of believe that. My wife grew up in the U.S. (in the Valley), and is basically disdainful of P.T., refusing to even consider it, even though it would be by far the easier and quickest way for her to get to work (she just started a full-time job at an office this week - fortunately they'll allow her to work from home 2 days week).

3. Well, sure, people have odd ideas about what things in life present the most risks, but how many people can genuinely believe that travelling by P.T. is less safe than driving a car?

At any rate, those reasons aren't SO unbelieveable as Leanan's apparent claim that people don't want better public transport because it will encourage the wrong sort of people into their neighbourhoods.

I agree. This article, from the Albany paper years ago, expresses the concerns people have about public transportation. It's a humor piece, but the reason it's so funny is because there's so much truth in it.

(CDTA is for "Capital District Transit Authority." I was a carless student in the Capital District in my college days, which is one reason I kept this article. I rode the bus a lot.)

There is a reason why the U.S. seems to be ruled by fear and fantasy - it is.

3. They have safety concerns.

These two quotes seem to go together
With 40,000 dead and 1 million plus injured in car accidents every year in the US, people worry about the safety"" of public transit. That is exactly fear and fantasy, when fatality rates for bus travel are less than 10% of auto deaths per mile traveled.

Is it really as high as 10%? I don't ever remember hearing of anyone being killed in a metropolitan bus accident here, yet 100s are killed in cars every year.
Trains are supposed to be even safer - although there are train deaths reported resaonably often: just not usually passengers on the trains.

Pretty much a myth.

It is very difficult to walk from the nearest subway station to a "nice" residential area, break in, steal the TV, computer, silver ware, etc., walk back with the stash to the subway station, wait for the next train on the platform (long wait if late at night), ride back with the other passengers and their loot, get off near home, and then walk the streets with their haul to a pawn shop or other fence.

*MUCH* easier to use a car !

But you are correct, irrational fears affect decisions; when all Urban Rail will do is make it easier for the maid to get to their home.


Of course, if you commit a crime like rape, you don't have to worry about carrying loot.

Honestly, it's not theft those middle-class suburbanites are afraid of. It's personal violence. And it's just having "those people" in the neighborhood, and fear of what it will do to property values, what will happen if "those kids" play with their kids, etc.

It certainly played a major role in how Metrorail was laid out in Washington - and in the completion schedules of the Green and Yellow lines, which took literally decades longer to complete, and also just happened to coincidentally destroy a couple of small retail areas - which a few years later, became available for 'redevelopment.'

And Metrorail is one of the most strictly policed public areas I have ever experienced in my life - and yes, they have arrested teenagers for eating french fries, and given tickets to middle aged office workers for eating bananas.

You know what is interesting about my experiences with public transportation (Amtrak, Toronto, Chicago, NYC subways)...I have met some interesting people while riding them. Public transportation actually allows people to slow down a bit and have a face to face conversation, unlike driving in a car where people have their ears glued to a cell phone/bud (unless you are carpooling).

I've ridden public transportation a lot, from the time I was a child. And I've rarely talked to strangers on the bus or train. It's the big city thing, I think. You're so crowded that everyone ignores each other. In small towns, you're expected to smile and say hi. In big cities, everyone pretends everyone else doesn't exist.

One of the last times I rode the bus was from a mall in Albany, NY. A bunch of kids were waiting with me. One of the boys was carrying a gun. It was hidden in his jacket pocket, but he couldn't resist showing it to all his friends. The kid looked like he was maybe 10 years old, though his friends looked a couple of years older, so maybe he was just small for his age.

You can imagine my delight when the bus came, and that boy sat down in the seat right behind me.

I talk all the time on the streetcar in New Orleans (maybe just a Naw'lins thing). And I saw our local billionaire ride a few times before he passed away with a heart attack.

One Shell Square, 52 story office building, is built between the one way tracks of the St. Charles Streetcar Line. One the afternoon side, they have marbles steps to sit on while waiting for the streetcar ! (hard to get a seat after the streetcar passes One Shell Square, pre-K of course, not yet running again).

Best Hopes,


Uh Oh, Conan the Barbarian and Atilla have found the viagra in the medicine cabinet! Its doomer porn time!

All the best hot, d00mer P0rn at WWW.doomladenapoarachy.com

Hello Donal,

Sadly, we haven't seen anything yet compared to what is coming postPeak: Hans Selye's General Adaptation Syndrome [GAS], full-on resource wars [Battle of Kruger on Youtube], and articles in this Reg Morrison website:

FREE WILL? … IT'S UNAVOIDABLE! Tyrants, beware.

HYDROGEN: Humanity's Maker and Breaker

NATURE v NURTURE? … NO CONTEST! The secret evolutionary deal that lies behind the gaudy facade of culture.

EDIT: A small snippet:

Evolution’s ‘biological rocks’

"Fragile though they are in a purely physical sense, some genes have, via accurate repair and replication strategies, outlasted the rise and fall of mountains and the drift of continents around the planet. ...SNIP... In short, our genes are so durable they make Earth’s geological features seem as fragile and ephemeral as snowflakes."

Harare - A seven-year-old girl was allegedly gang-raped during breaktime by a group of schoolboys in the Zimbabwean capital, said reports on Tuesday.

According to reports, the rape took place in the playground of a primary school in one of Harare's plush northern suburbs. The boys came from a nearby high school, said the report.
The techno-solutionists better get cracking to win the race before the entirely natural, no-tech DNA-evolutionists' machete' moshpit really gets up a head of steam. DNA has roughly a 4 billion year headstart.

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

I keep thinking that the only way to survive the coming crash is to be somewhat of an outlaw. Maybe a Robin Hood type. Steal from the rich (govt, rich folks, corporations) and give to the poor(me, my family, friends). I will be able to travel around to follow the resources that are left.

if I were to start a farm and support myself, chances are large that someone or group will violently end my ownership of said farm and then i will be S__T out of luck. Only to start my crime family later.

Is there any corollary in history???

Are there any primate scientists aboard here? Humans are merely sophisticated apes, so look at what a tribe of apes would do and you probably have your answer.

The reason I think you'll find your answer here is because society set rules and constructs by which members of society need to live. Once societal breakdown occurs these rules become irrelevant and we'll all regress to behavioral levels that resemble our cousins, the apes.

Apes like to beat the shit out of each other to gain advantage, so why shouldn't humans?

I believe the future will require a balance of power and force, politics, and compassion. Really these can all be summed up as infuence. A successful Old-Duvai Gorgist will figure out the right formula of these to influence those he/she comes in contact with to gain advantage.

Something a lot of people seem to contend about societal collapse is that life will suck. I don't believe this has to be so. There will still be a place for compassion, love, friendship, laughter. The right frame of mind is the most important ingredient to enjoying (or at least finding some joy in) the future.

Of course this all assumes things get "worse", which is not an assumption made by all who read this site.

Tom A-B

I'll go looking for the Bonobo colony, because it's apt to be a lot more fun than the African Chimps - even those who can drive.

In my writings I often describe what I believe the situation will be like about a decade or two after Peak Oil. Actually I cannot even be that exact with the date but the simple fact that almost all of our extrasomatic energy will eventually disappear will also mean that all the good times made possible by this massive cache of energy will disappear also. The situation is described best by Dr. David Price in his great essay Energy and Human Evolution.

By using extrasomatic energy to modify more and more of its environment to suit human needs, the human population effectively expanded its resource base so that for long periods it has exceeded contemporary requirements. This allowed an expansion of population similar to that of species introduced into extremely, propitious new habitats, such as rabbits in Australia or Japanese beetles in the United States.

It is important to remember that this extrasomatic energy is responsible, not just for the massive amounts of food that feeds 6.5 billion people, but the means of employment for the vast majority of those billions who are employed. When that energy disappears, not just the food it produces will disappear, but also the means of employment of most of the world’s people will disappear also. All the “things” produced with all that energy, which we purchase with wages we made from producing those things, will no longer be produced or purchased. All our energy slaves will disappear and with it all the things produced by those slaves.

Roger Connor, yesterday, complained that this was “doomer porn” and further stated:

If i ever start to believe the kind of fantastical shiit that David Price writes, you ask me for my address, and come down and put me out of my freakin' misery, will ya?

No one ever attempts to counter the argument made by William Catton in “Overshoot”, or Reg Morrison in “The Spirit in the Gene”, or David Price in the above essay. They, like Roger, simply choose to call the argument vile names instead. After all if you cannot answer a man’s argument all is not lost you can still call him, (or it), vile names.
One more point. I suggested that a period of chaos and anarchy will take place as people get desperate during the decline of energy. Some purists dislike my use of these terms. ImSceptical, (James Gervais) wrote:

You will notice that [definitions from Wikipedia] that anarchy has no authority, and chaos has nothing to do with authority. This consistent mangling of the language creates problems in understanding.
Please learn the meaninig of word before you use them.

The definition in the dictionary usually lists the most used definition of a word first, then the second most used and so on. The following is from “dictionary.com”.

an•ar•chy ˈæn ər ki - [an-er-kee]
1. a state of society without government or law.
2. political and social disorder due to the absence of governmental control: The death of the king was followed by a year of anarchy.
3. a theory that regards the absence of all direct or coercive government as a political ideal and that proposes the cooperative and voluntary association of individuals and groups as the principal mode of organized society.
4. confusion; chaos; disorder: Intellectual and moral anarchy followed his loss of faith.

cha•os ˈkeɪ ɒs - [key-os]
1. a state of utter confusion or disorder; a total lack of organization or order.
2. any confused, disorderly mass: a chaos of meaningless phrases.
3. the infinity of space or formless matter supposed to have preceded the existence of the ordered universe.
4. (initial capital letter ) the personification of this in any of several ancient Greek myths.
5. Obsolete. a chasm or abyss.

So thank you Mr. Gervais but I will continue to use the words "Chaos" and "Anarchy" in the same way the vast majority of English speaking peoples use them.

And by the way Robert Kaplan wrote a great essay which he called The Coming Anarchy in The Atlantic Monthly in 1994. Kaplin believes the anarchy has already started but not because the decline of fossil fuels. He says: “scarcity, crime, overpopulation, tribalism, and disease are rapidly destroying the social fabric of our planet.” Robert Kaplin, you ain’t seen nothing yet, just wait until the decline of fossil fuel kicks in and adds to that anarchy.

Ron Patterson

Kaplan's books The Ends of the Earth and Eastward to Tartary are a particularly good read for anyone interested in socio-poltical trends in far flung places, and the lessons they hold for the rest of us. I'd recommend them both highly, although readers will have to add the peak oil backdrop in their own minds.

Why does the neo-malthusianism pseudo-darwinism doomings always come back whenever mankind faces a sustainability problem? I don't want to counter these kinds of arguments because they have their own internally created logic: life is about energy (I'd say its about sex, but what do I know?); in fact everything is about energy (no doubt allowed); oil is peaking (fact); in fact everything is peaking (doubtful fact); so life is peaking (hmmmm what?); if life is peaking, surely death is coming in (obviously); thus we're dead (QED).

In fact, we're nothing more than energy photons or dynamic equation derivations. So anyone who tries to tell you that you are more than a derivative of a function slap him in the face. You know better than that.

Don't you?

Luis, do you have an argument to make? If so, then please make it. Or are you simply satisfied to utter dull absurd platitudes and pretend that you said something profound?

Ron Patterson

I'm not trying to offend you personally, mr Patterson. I respect everyone's opinion. I just really don't go along with it.

But answer me this question that puzzles me:

Did you take into account in your own maths the fact that 5% of those 6 billion people use somewhere in the 80%s of the planet's resources, and that the 4 billion down are exactly those which are climbing in pop numbers and only account for like 20% of the total footprint (meaning they aren't overshooting at all?).

Did you take into account that the footprint growing monster that China is has already faced the pop. control problem decades ago and its pop numbers are pretty much controlled?

What is your take of these things?

Because it all seems too simplistic to me that oh "6 billion is too much" message. Cause we are not that equal, us the 6 billion. Not at all.

I'm not trying to offend you personally, mr Patterson. I respect everyone's opinion. I just really don't go along with it.

Luis, you did not attack me personally and I never said you did. You did attack my argument without making any kind of argument yourself.

Did you take into account in your own maths the fact that 5% of those 6 billion people use somewhere in the 80%s of the planet's resources, and that the 4 billion down are exactly those which are climbing in pop numbers and only account for like 20% of the total footprint (meaning they aren't overshooting at all?).

Now you are really out in left field. Do you even bother to check your figures Luis? The US has 5% of the world’s population and we use 25% of the world’s crude oil, not 80% of the planet’s resources. Good God man, have you no sense of proportion? When you argue do you always argue with gross exaggeration?

Did you take into account that the footprint growing monster that China is has already faced the pop. control problem decades ago and its pop numbers are pretty much controlled?

That is pure baloney. Check your facts again Luis. China’s population is almost 1.322 billion and is growing by .606 percent per year. That is an annual growth rate of over 8 million people. That is one New Your City every year!

Because it all seems too simplistic to me that oh "6 billion is too much" message. Cause we are not that equal, us the 6 billion. Not at all.

It is not simplistic at all, 6.5 billion is way, way too much. Two billion of those six billion already goes to bed hungry every night. Many of them starve to death every year. Another two billion or so live on the very margins of hunger and will drop into the “starving” category if the world economy turns down.

Yes, the other two billion plus are probably well fed. And those two billion use about 60% of the world’s oil, but not the world’s resources. There is difference here and you seen to confuse the two. So if we take your argument, and spread the wealth as petroleum supplies disappear, we can simply push more and more of those two billion into the “near hunger” range while pushing many of those into the “starving” category.

But the bottom line is you cannot simply redistribute the world’s supply of petroleum and fix the problem. By attempting to do so you would only exacerbate the problem. You would only get far more resource wars, more disruption in the oil supply and greatly exacerbate the anarchy and chaos that will surely happen when the world’s petroleum supply drops below half its current value.

Ron Patterson

I don't want to counter these kinds of arguments because they have their own internally created logic: life is about energy (I'd say its about sex, but what do I know?); in fact everything is about energy (no doubt allowed);

This in not an internally created logic. It is testable. But does anyone really need to conduct the test to see if creatures can live without energy (food)? No, not really.

Catton's major point is that connected regions can support more people than isolated regions. That is also clear because the farms grow the food and the cities create the farming implements. Because of that food production is higher and more people are supported. Separate the two and food production declines and population declines.

Do you really disbelieve these two points? I would guess no. Instead, your (well made) argument is that it is a matter of degrees. You don't feel the current population is in overshoot yet.

But that is a question that can be investigated. Instead of bashing each other, what needs to be answered to find the truth? What studies and papers are needed to answer these questions.

Best hopes for rational thinking....


That's an interesting question. I think its the psycological mechanisms of projection and transference.I like Carl Jung a lot, and although a lot of his work seems to be refuted by modern brain chemisty stuff, some of his approach is valid.

Apocalypse has been in human religeon since the beginning. Certainly in the Persian cosmology,the Hindu cycles the Judeo-Christian mythologies and the old Norse. Jesus was very likely another prophet of the immanent end of the world and it continues today in the environmental catastrophe folks, with about a zillion end-of the world cults since.

What I think may happen is that a person realises they are going to die, and since that means his(or hers) world is ending, they project it on to the rest of the world and its all pretty unconcious. And, I think pathological-maybe part of depression.

I knew one of those guys pretty well. his name was Larry S., and he was the doctor who mixed up the koolaid at Jonestown.He was my best friend's older brother's best friend. We all did acid. I'd use his name but Larry's family is still alive and decent people, they don't need internet publicity.

At any rate, Larry was socially isolated and didn't really relate well with other guys. He went out to San Franciso, got a medical degree and the rest is history.

Beware end of the world cults, and don't drink the Koolaide!
Bob Ebersole

Bob Ebersole writes -

"What I think may happen is that a person realizes they are going to die, and since that means his(or hers) world is ending, they project it on to the rest of the world and its all pretty unconscious. And, I think pathological-maybe part of depression."

That's how I view all end of the world stuff. It's really an end to MY world. The world keeps on going. I don't. My culture doesn't. But the world keeps on going.

Most of mainstream American society can be accurately described as a consumer cargo cult.

As far as doomsday warnings, yes they've been around forever. In many cases, the doomsday prophets turned out to be correct. I assume you are familar with the Roman, Viking Norse, and Rapa Nui cultures? Each of them saw their populations fall by about 90%.

Another, more contemporary example: about a year before Hurrican Katrina, National Geographic ran this TOTAL DOOMER PORN article about how New Orleans would be destroyed by a hurricane in the near future.

AS we all know, technology and human ingenuity/flexibility stepped in and those silly doomers at National Geographic were proven to be a bunch of depressed, acid-taking jerk offs who were projecting fears of their own death (or other psychological shortcomings) on the city of New Orleans.


Then, there were those a-hole doom prophets who said that if Bush invaded Iraq, the place would be plunged into a apocalyptic horror show. Gee, I wonder what they were projecting? Fortunately, they turned out to be wrong as doom prophets always do. In this case they were far too quick to dismiss all the great technology the u.S. would bring. They also underestimated the degree to which the Sunni, Shia, and Kurd factions would cooperate with each other.

Those silly doomers, when wil they learn?

A few months before 9-11, FEMA published a report on the most likely serious disasters to affect the U.S. There were three: a terrorist attack in NYC, a Category 5 hurricane hitting New Orleans, and a major earthquake in San Francisco.

If I lived in SF, I'd be getting a little nervous.

Oh, I am. I posted this to LATOC last week, it's pretty horrible what will happen when/if the hayward fault blows:


I'm betting though that the chance of an earthquake causing you serious injury or death is negligible compared to the chance of being involved in a road accident (even if you do mostly use P.T.).

I didn't know you were in SF. I thought you were in Sacramento for some reason.

My sister lives in Sacramento. Which, according to at least one study, is in even more danger from failing levees than New Orleans.

Those silly doomers, when will they learn?

Well done, counselor.

(Image to the right is an art work involving Cassandra, a doomer of old. They never listened to her either.)

You don't try to counter these because you cannot.

Clearly, the earth is finite.

Clearly, the earth can sustainably support a finite number of human beings at a specific standard of living.

Clearly, if that limit is exceeded, then negative consequences shall follow.

The first statement is fact. If you deny the first statement then we cannot even have a conversation because I refuse to talk to idiots who believe in magic.

The second statement would be agreed to by just about every rational human being on the planet with the sole disagreement being about the exact number and the specific standard of living.

The third statement is the logical outcome of the first and second statements, derived from actual observation of living creatures ranging from single celled organisms to other mammalian species. In every single case of which I am aware, population overshoot has resulted in negative consequences for the species involved. Sometimes those consequences were mild but most often those consequences were catastrophic.

This is the fundamental problem facing humanity. I believe we are in overshoot but others do not. However, I am not aware of a single rational human being who would argue that at some number of people we will enter into overshoot. Further, I would argue that the vast majority of biological scientists today would argue that we have exceeded or are very close to exceeding our sustainable capacity on the planet.

You as an individual will exhibit unique behavior but the sum of human behavior in large numbers is simply a statistical problem. You may not like that but it is exactly why people can profit in the stock market, why advertisers can invest money in marketing and get specific results, and why candidates will appeal to certain ideas to win elections.

Your lame attempts to discredit have only shown the spotlight brightly on your own incompetence and your own refusal to actually observe reality. Human overshoot in limited regions exhibits the exact same properties as other mammalian species in overshoot have exhibited. Thus, unless you can come up with a remarkable argument to the contrary, there is every reason to expect human overshoot on the entire planet to exhibit the same properties as human and mammalian overshoot in localized regions.

I await your refutation.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

"I believe we are in overshoot but others do not."

Right. This sounds like the bone of contention. Has anyone here read the studies done by Mathis Wackernagle or the WWF Living Planet Report? I have not. They are both quoted in "Limits to Growth" as showing that we have exceeded the planets carrying capacity.

From what I understand, we have mostly exceeded the planets ability to absorb CO2 (but possibly other limits as well). But even if that is the only place we have exceeded, can it be shown that the current population is supportable without current levels of CO2 production?

Reviews of those two papers (books?) would make a good article. This seems to be the huge question that splits the "doomer" and "non-doomer" crowd. It would be nice to move toward a fact based consensus.

Human population overshoot is certainly possible, and it is also possible that we might have already entered overshoot territory.

Even if we haven't hit overshoot yet, it would probably be wise to transition to a somewhat lower global population in any case, because there are so many benefits to the environment and to human quality of life. Some nations and regions are managing to transition to zero and even negative population growth.

While it is true that the population of caribou peaked and crashed on that island, and yeast does the same in vats of wine, I wonder if the same pattern MUST apply to the human population? In other words, is the future really as deterministic as some are making it out to be?

Someone's signature (I forget who) has the tag line "Are humans smarter than yeast?" We'll see, but at least the question is still open. Unlike stupid animals and mindless micro-organisms, at least some members of the human species can actually anticipate and think about and talk about these things, as we are doing right now. I am not suggesting that we are smart enough to figure out how to continue to overshoot the carrying capacity indefinitely. I am only wondering if it is really so certain that we (the human species, or at least some sub-sets of it) are really so incapable of making ANY interventions in our own behalf to make the downward slide a little less catastrophic?

Again, as I say, we'll see.


However, I am not aware of a single rational human being who would argue that at some number of people we will enter into overshoot.

This should read:

However, I am not aware of a single rational human being who would NOT argue that at some number of people we will enter into overshoot.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

I dunno, Julian Simon would probably try his best.

And actually, I would too. If we collectively invested all our time and energy into simply allowing as many of us as possible to survive on the planet, I don't doubt our numbers could spiral into the 10s of billions. But it would be a pretty nasty world to live in, with little non-human life left on it.

On that basis, I'm not convinced there's anyway you can prove we are in "overshoot", because there's no way you can prove how much technology could allow us to keep feeding ourselves. What I do accept is that given the current structure of the global economy, the current way we consume resources, and the current standards of living that we enjoy and/or aspire to, there are definitely too many of us.
All of those things are going to change in next 100 years...unfortunately population is most likely to go up for at least another 30 years before it starts to decline again, so the global economy and our standards of living are bound to transform somewhat, and most likely not in a good way.

Do you actually believe that homo sapiens can survive if we destroy the entire ecosystem around us, let alone grow in numbers? Well, apparently you do so I see no point in having further discussions with someone whom I would consider a madman for holding positions that are clearly beyond crazy.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

I don't see any technical reason we couldn't "survive", if we converted the entire planet into a human-feeding and reproducing machine, but it would be a miserable sort of existence. I always see absolutely zero likelihood of it actually happening, for a number of reasons (not least because, ultimately, the natural world is a source of joy and inspiration to us, which is most likely behind the intuitive sensation most of us have that it's "wrong" to wantonly and carelessly destroy it).

"Your lame attempts ... "

Hey GZ, cool it. Except for first sentence, your reasoning up to this phrase was clear and useful. But from this phrase on it is unreasonable nastiness. I think you must realize that there is a serious failure to communicate. I hope you will abandon this conversation as unproductive.

life is about energy (I'd say its about sex, but what do I know?);

For once you are right... and yet you're wrong because it is sex which makes us squander energy and all manners of ressources!

Ron, even without PO the earth will not carry 6.5 billion people during or after a quick climate shift. Imagine the disruption of oil flows via tankers if the oceans and some major ports are frozen year round, or almost continuous storms sweep the seas. It will not take a lot of disruption to cause havoc.

During the mini ice age as much as 1/3 of the populations of Europe succumed to a succession of famines and diseases related to malnourished people...not counting the many wars triggered by food shortages...all of that because of a minor hiccup in the climate...and there was no PO involved.

Its a good thing that that is exactly what's going to happen too! Welcome to the Day After Tomorrow World, brought to you by River!

Forgive me for being mean, but human beings are TERRIBLE predictors of the future.

I dont think you are mean...after reading your past posts I try not to think of you at all.

Yes, but even given the degradation of the environment that has occurred, I suspect that the carrying capacity of the earth is still significantly above zero. The REALLY BIG QUESTION that humankind now faces is whether or not we can figure out a way to transition down to that lower number (and stay there) rather than crashing down to zero.

No one ever attempts to counter the argument made by...David Price in the above essay.

That's because he does not present an argument to counter!

Let's examine his "argument". By my reading, he states his thesis in paragraph 3:

But the exhaustion of fossil fuels, which supply three quarters of this energy, is not far off, and no other energy source is abundant and cheap enough to take their place. A collapse of the earth's human population cannot be more than a few years away. If there are survivors, they will not be able to carry on the cultural traditions of civilization, which require abundant, cheap energy. It is unlikely, however, that the species itself can long persist without the energy whose exploitation is so much a part of its modus vivendi.

This entire paragraph is essentially nothing more than wild and totally unsupported assertions. Let's look at them, one at a time:

  • "no other energy source is abundant and cheap enough to take their place"

What is "cheap enough"?

Solar and wind are certainly abundant enough, so the question is really abundance at an affordable price. Large-scale wind can generate power at 5-10c/kWh, which is cheaper than the cost of industrial electricity in Europe today, so it's not at all clear that non-fossil-based energy sources will be too expensive to be practical.

  • "A collapse of the earth's human population cannot be more than a few years away."

Based on?

He provides no reason whatsoever to believe his claim, and you'd be wise not to - he made the claim 12 years ago - more than "a few" - and the world has behaved exactly oppositely to his prediction.

  • "If there are survivors, they will not be able to carry on the cultural traditions of civilization, which require abundant, cheap energy."

Define "civilization". Were the Italian city-states of the Renaissance not part of civilization? Or is he simply defining it tautalogically as "people using fossil fuels"?

Not that he gives any reason for believing a reduced population won't be able to continue to use substantial amounts of energy, of course.

  • "It is unlikely, however, that the species itself can long persist without the energy whose exploitation is so much a part of its modus vivendi."

Modern humans survived for millenia without fossil fuels; more than that, they thrived. Based on what does he assert all humans now are utterly unable to survive in a manner similar to humans 500, 5000, or 50000 years ago?

Basically, the key problem with his essay is summed up with his concluding statement on the rapid growth of human population:

This cannot go on forever; collapse is inevitable. The only question is when.

He is assuming that collapse is the only possible result of an increased population, and is ignoring any other possibilities. In particular, he's ignoring the possibility that population growth will slow, leading population to gently crest and decline. Indeed, evidence suggests that such a trend may be likely - it's already happened in Germany and Japan, and the global population growth rate has been steadily declining for decades.

Indeed, his "argument" seems to mainly consist of repeating this unfounded assertion over and over. He ends the section on energy with:

But when one understands the process that has been responsible for population growth, it becomes clear that an end to growth is the beginning of collapse. Human population has grown exponentially by exhausting limited resources, like yeast in a vat or reindeer on St. Matthew Island, and is destined for a similar fate.

He asserts - without evidence - not only that slowing population growth can only presage a catastrophic collapse, but that people who don't agree with him simply don't "understand".

Wild claims? Check.
Hubris? Check.
Supporting evidence? Uhhh...

Even if world population could be held constant, in balance with "renewable" resources, the creative impulse that has been responsible for human achievements during the period of growth would come to an end.

Based on?

Germany and Japan have declining populations, yet have thriving creative groups, generating substantial artistic and intellectual material every year. Evidence does not support his claim.

Which, I suppose, is why his essay was so light on evidence.

It's possible he'll turn out to be right, but the problem is that's not what he's claiming. He's claiming that he must necessarily be right, and the evidence available simply doesn't support anything near that level of certainty. He writes like a prophet, full of certainty in his Truth. And, alas, full of such blind faith in his beliefs that he can't see the massive gaps in his argument, or perhaps thinks they simply don't matter. The result is his essay is not at all persuasive to someone who doesn't already agree with him.

At any rate, the reason people so rarely attempt to counter "arguments" like the one you refer to is simply that they are not arguments - they're statements of belief, and trying to rebut deeply-held beliefs is typically an exercise in futility.

Finally something I can sink my teeth into. Pitt’s comments are in italics, Price’s in blockquote.

That's because he does not present an argument to counter!
Let's examine his "argument". By my reading, he states his thesis in paragraph 3:

(Snip entire paragraph but taking the paragraph one assertion at a time.)

This entire paragraph is essentially nothing more than wild and totally unsupported assertions. Let's look at them, one at a time:

"no other energy source is abundant and cheap enough to take their place"

What is "cheap enough"?

Solar and wind are certainly abundant enough, so the question is really abundance at an affordable price. Large-scale wind can generate power at 5-10c/kWh, which is cheaper than the cost of industrial electricity in Europe today, so it's not at all clear that non-fossil-based energy sources will be too expensive to be practical.

Solar and wind energy converted to usable energy is neither abundant nor cheap. The tiny fraction of solar and wind energy that we do convert to usable energy is miniscule compared to the amount of fossil fuels that are used daily. Get real Pitt! One cannot run the world’s automobile fleet, tractor and farm equipment fleet, truck fleet or fleet of ships on solar or wind energy. The tiny fraction of solar and wind energy that we do convert to usable energy is miniscule.

"A collapse of the earth's human population cannot be more than a few years away."

Based on?

He provides no reason whatsoever to believe his claim, and you'd be wise not to - he made the claim 12 years ago - more than "a few" - and the world has behaved exactly oppositely to his prediction.

God man, cannot you not even read? The whole essay is the explanation. Fossil fuels supplied the energy that allowed our population to explode. When that fossil fuel is gone, that energy will not be there. Your argument that we can simply convert to sunshine and wind energy and keep on trucking is the poor argument, that is by far the unsupported assumption here.

"If there are survivors, they will not be able to carry on the cultural traditions of civilization, which require abundant, cheap energy."

Define "civilization". Were the Italian city-states of the Renaissance not part of civilization? Or is he simply defining it tautalogically as "people using fossil fuels"?

Don’t be daft! You know very well what he is talking about and pretending you do not just makes you look silly. Yes civilizations of the past existed. They supported far fewer people on much less energy. Civilizations of the past lived at the Malthusian edge of their existence. It was only the advent of fossil fuels that allowed technology to expand to employ billions of people and modern farming to produce enough food to feed those billions of people.

Not that he gives any reason for believing a reduced population won't be able to continue to use substantial amounts of energy, of course.

As I stated above, there exist not one whit of proof that we can produce enough sunshine or wind energy to continue our exuberant lifestyle. Try farming using wind or solar energy. And also, PV panels, batteries and wind farms are produced using enormous amounts of fossil energy. How much wind energy would it take to build a windmill? It is a gross unsupported assumption that we can just convert wind or solar energy into the fuel needed to manufacturer all the things that are needed to support 6.5 billion people, not to mention the fuel to produce and deliver the food needed to feed them.

"It is unlikely, however, that the species itself can long persist without the energy whose exploitation is so much a part of its modus vivendi."

Modern humans survived for millenia without fossil fuels; more than that, they thrived. Based on what does he assert all humans now are utterly unable to survive in a manner similar to humans 500, 5000, or 50000 years ago?

But of course. How many people did the earth support without fossil fuels?

Basically, the key problem with his essay is summed up with his concluding statement on the rapid growth of human population:

This cannot go on forever; collapse is inevitable. The only question is when.

He is assuming that collapse is the only possible result of an increased population, and is ignoring any other possibilities. In particular, he's ignoring the possibility that population growth will slow, leading population to gently crest and decline. Indeed, evidence suggests that such a trend may be likely - it's already happened in Germany and Japan, and the global population growth rate has been steadily declining for decades.

Wrong! That is not at all the argument he is making. He is arguing that collapse is the inevitable result of an increasing population and a disappearing extrasomatic energy supply. Yes perhaps we could, over a period of several hundred years, reduce our population growth or even put it into decline. But a declining population growth in Japan and Germany is the result of special conditions brought about by the actual use of more and more fossil energy. Most of the world is not so fortunate as Japan and Germany and they are still growing by about 1.3 percent per year. Even the population of China is growing by about half that rate.

If we could keep the world well fed and if we could educate them on the arts of birth control, and if we could convince them to have an average of one child per family, then perhaps we could reduce the world’s population, in about 5 or 6 hundred years to a level where we could live on renewable resources.

All those ifs are simply not possible nor do we have 5 or 6 hundred years to try to make them work.

Indeed, his "argument" seems to mainly consist of repeating this unfounded assertion over and over.

No that is what you are doing. You assume that we can simply reduce our population, by voluntary means until we could live on renewable resources. You give no explanation as to how this might be done. You simply assume that it is possible. A little rational thought however blows that theory straight to hell. The world will behave as it has always behaved, breeding to the very limits of it existence. And the disappearance of fossil energy will vastly reduce those limits. Your cornucopian dream of voluntary reducing the population would require a one world dictatorial government holding a gun to everyone’s head and dictating their reproductive choices. I would not argue whether such a government is desirable or not, I would only argue that it is impossible.

Ron Patterson


. How much wind energy would it take to build a windmill

My example is;

Picture a D9 Cat bulldozer in your mind, You gonna build that in a factory that runs on wind power/solar power?

How about a Aluminum smelter? Run it on your windmills?
(ya, next to a hydroelectric dam, I know, right)

Where's my Electric Airliner?

I am waiting till someone starts producing millions of pounds per year of Polyethylene or PolyProp. with a windmill/solar.

What storage mechanisms do we have? Lead/Acid battery?

Show me something that will store the amount of energy in a can of diesel fuel for a year or two and not have any deterioration or lessening of power content.

Batteries, flywheels, pumping water up a hill...
ALL pale in comparison to what FF have in this catagory.

I am waiting till someone starts producing millions of pounds per year of Polyethylene or PolyProp. with a windmill/solar.

Try polyethylene from bio-ethanol.

IMHO, the BEST that we can hope for is a quick and bumpy transition down to an average material lifestyle roughly equivalent to what an average person experiences in places like Cuba, Thailand, the Phillipines, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, or (if we are lucky) maybe Costa Rica or Uruguay. Those types of societies are examples of what is about the maximum that is possibly sustainable. Of course there will be a few elites that have it a little better than the average, and plenty of poor people suffering a below average life. But take all the stuff that we are enjoying now in the US above and beyond that baseline (what I'll call the Excess), and subtract that out -- it is good as gone.

It may not be possible to pull the entire globe through, but there may be some "lifeboat societies" that manage to make it.

Whether we can possibly come up with a plan to make the transition to this type of sustainable society, and to do it quick enough, is very dubious. As long as I'm alive and still able to type a message on the Internet, though, I guess I not ready to give up all hope quite yet. But I have given up all hope in the Excess. I'm paring down my life as quickly as I can to that level, I might as well get used to it now. Everyone else should, too.

How much wind energy would it take to build a windmill?

Roughly 3-6 months of production of a well-sited turbine.  And the land around the turbine wouldn't take all that long to capture the carbon for the plastic resins for the blades, either.

If we could keep the world well fed and if we could educate them on the arts of birth control, and if we could convince them to have an average of one child per family, then perhaps we could reduce the world’s population, in about 5 or 6 hundred years to a level where we could live on renewable resources.

Given known productivity rates for algae ponds and fish, we could feed 9 billion indefinitely on less land than we use now.

I don't disagree with your conclusion E-P, but I'd still like to see a clearer case put out. Your actual article didn't go into much detail regarding food production, it seemed to be scattered through-out the comments.

And of course the biggest criticism I've had of trying to suggest something similar is essentially "in the face of massive economic/civilisation collapse, none of these ideas is going to be feasible". Of course that's purely unprovable conjecture, but you need to be able to make a good case that most of the necessary changes can be done even in the face of tough economic times.

You set a high bar; in the face of a massive collapse, anything which requires more than shovels and local materials is going to be unmanageable.  This is why we need to get started before that.

"You set a high bar; in the face of a massive collapse, anything which requires more than shovels and local materials is going to be unmanageable. This is why we needed to get started before that."

Fixed that for ya :-)

Germany and Japan have declining populations, yet have thriving creative groups, generating substantial artistic and intellectual material every year.

Germany and Japan have populations that are currently shrinking at a miniscule rate (0.033% for Germany, 0.088% for Japan, according to CIA Factbook). In essence the populations are essentially static. Given their current birth rates and assuming no external factors, the populations in Japan and Germany will eventually begin shrinking by about 1% a year. While a static population can thrive, a rapidly shrinking population will have problems. The structure of a welfare system is one obvious problem, a shrinking workforce could lead to a shrinking economy, there will be deflationary pressure, etc.

Russia's population is shrinking at a rate of 0.48%, and it seems to have caused them difficulty, though the oil prices are allowing them to enjoy at least a temporary burst of economic renaissance.

A shrinking population doesn't necessarily mean a limitation on economic growth for a single nation as they can invest, trade, expand, into other nations, thereby expanding the base of their economy. (As an aside, to me this is why we've seen such growth in the global economy over the last twenty years, it has been expanded to include 2 billion plus who weren't a part of it in the 70's and early 80's.) But if there is no possibility of expanding the economic base by extending it beyond national boundaries, say, if there is a single global economy, then I would expect that population decline would indeed lead to economic decline.

The world population was about 2 billion in 1950. That is probably a sustainable level, but it may be more. Look at India- a population of well over a billion in an area 1/2 the size of the continental United States. But, they are very poor.

I don't say our planet is infinite. I want my son to be prosperous, and his child (if he has one) to be prosperous and live a healthy satisfying life. And, I'd like to see the same for every human being. To do this we are going to have to change our lifestyles and attitudes, but its not impossible.

Bob Ebersole

Try 2.5 billion, Bob, with 2 billion being around 1930. Yeah, that's right - the biggest war in the history of the planet happened in that same 20 year period and population increased by about 25%.

Here's food for thought. I am not going to say we are in overshoot though I do believe that but I ask you what if we are? What if human population has to decline fairly rapidly in order for homo sapiens to survive as a species? What solutions do you see for this and how do you intend to get them implemented worldwide? And also, if we are in overshoot, do you think that we can avoid globally the same fate that humans and other creatures have experienced in overshoot in specific locations?

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

You pick:

1) Let nature take its course, and have billions die through disease, resource wars and starvation over a rapid period.

2) Reform our agricultural practices and eating habits to ensure that we can continue to feed our current numbers, in parallel with better education, birth control, and medicine in developing countries to assist in reducing fertility rates.

3) Wait for aliens from another planet to save us.

3) Wait for aliens from another planet to save us.

I agree...
That's just as likely as 2)

Dear Ron:

The Coming Anarchy:

Never heard of it, or Kaplan, before today.

Good Essay.

Thanks for that.

Read it in full, not a stroke of work done this afternoon...

This bit got to me: 'after dark, the government has no writ.'...

Dorme Bien.

Mudlogger, I am glad you liked the essay but sorry it kept you from doing any work this afternoon. It is a great essay isn't it. "Haunting" is how I would describe it.

And thanks to Samsara for your insight and explination of why solar and wind can never replace fossil fuel. It is really a no brainer isn't it.

Ron Patterson

>And thanks to Samsara for your insight and explination of why solar and wind can never replace fossil fuel. It is really a no brainer isn't it.

The problem is explaining issues that require a level of knowledge of 10 to people that are only willing to examine at level 1. Not that they are stupid or ignorant, but they simply aren't willing to put the time or effort required grasp the concepts at the level that is truely required.

For instance, wind is a prime example. People believe that a 1 megawatt wind turbine can replace 1 megawatt of a fossil fired plant and 1000 one megawatt wind turbines can replace an entire fossil plant. They fail to realize the vast complexities, such that the wind doesn't always blow enough to produce one megawatt of power per turbine, or that it wind must be backed up with storage system, or the complexity of converting megawatts of distributed and unstable electricity into the synced 60 hz AC grid power. These are just some of the rather obvious issues with wind and there are dozens of more issues that each compound the problem.

Unless people are willing to open their minds and fully explore the complexities, they will never succeed to grasp it. Although as depletion kicks in, they will no longer need to grasp the issues as they will have first hand experience.

“For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.”
—Richard Feynman

Where's that "yeast pop. in a wine must vs human pop. since fossil fuels chart" when you need it?
Sure as hell convinced me about dieoff.

Ask and you shall receive.


"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

Thanks Grey,
Still scares the crap out of me.

Actually, Darwinian, I've made several attempts to answer the points regarding food-production especially.
All I've had in response is "won't happen", "can't be done", "do you really believe that...", or "Joe Sixpack is so shortsighted that he'd rather keep driving his Hummer than allowing the government to control oil supplies to ensure there's enough food for his next meal" etc. etc.

There's no question losing a substantial portion of our "extra-somatic" energy supply will have severe economic consequences. But as I've said before there's no reason for that loss to be permanent. And there will be plenty of energy left even after all the oil is mostly gone to provide most essential services. What there won't be available are the huge amounts of energy we expend on wasteful, inefficient forms of transportation, on production of luxury consumer goods, on building and maintaining inefficient residential infrastructure etc. etc. And yes, all those things create jobs, jobs that will be lost, creating considerable unemployment. But we've been there before, and we've recovered. I see no reason to believe it's necessarily the end of the civilisation as we know it.

Regarding the expected oil export crisis is this not just one particular case of prioritisation. Domestic oil demand will be placed ahead of oil export. There are many other cases of how oil priorities may affect oil availability. Demand higher up the priority scale will experience a more secure energy supply than demand at the bottom the heap. The low priority oil demands will disappear first and suffer the worst. Higher priorities may continue to be well fuelled for decades. It could help to inform our view of the future to look at these priorities. Rationing, corruption or prices may determine the priorities.

As a first stab at oil supply priorities:
(highest to lowest)
domestic military
foreign military
cars for the rich and powerful
food distribution
fire fighting
food growing(food can be grown with horse and people power)
oil exports for hard currency
public transport
cars for the poor
mass aviation

Private motoring could fall much faster than a global 2% decline rate would imply as it would be the lowest priority.
Any comments.



Most national rational schemes work with a prioritization list somewhat along the lines of yours. They may include a few sectors that you have neglected to mention, and the prioritization may differ in a few details.

I have no doubt that you will eventually have a ration scheme implemented in the UK. Your government by its nature will be quick to move to such an approach.

We might possibly get rationing in the US as well, but it will take a lot longer before it is implemented. Whoever is in government at the time will have to be dragged into it kicking and screaming, when all other alternatives are absolutely exhausted.

In the absence of any rationing scheme, dollar bills or pound notes will serve as the ration coupons.

In the absence of any rationing scheme, dollar bills or pound notes will serve as the ration coupons.

I wonder if there's a plan to perform dollar bill gasification any time soon. The US can mint many more worthless dollars than it can import barrels of oil.

"The U.S. government allows nuclear plants to operate under a level of secrecy usually reserved for the national security apparatus. Last year, for example, about nine gallons of highly enriched uranium spilled at a processing plant in Tennessee, forming a puddle a few feet from an elevator shaft. Had it dripped into the shaft, it might have formed a critical mass sufficient for a chain reaction, releasing enough radiation to kill or burn workers nearby. A report on the accident from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was hidden from the public, and only came to light because one of the commissioners wrote a memo on it that became part of the public record."


"In Japan, 200 kilograms of plutonium from a waste recycling plant have gone missing; in Britain, 30 kilograms can't be accounted for. These have been officially dismissed as clerical errors, but the nuclear industry has never been noted for its truthfulness or transparency. The bomb dropped on Nagasaki contained six kilograms."

Darned Scaremongers!

Aside from breakdowns and Danger!, here's the upshot from Amory Lovins in 2005..

"A popular euphemism holds that we must “keep nuclear energy on the table.” What exactly does this mean? Continued massive R&D investments for a “mature” technology that has taken the lion’s share of energy R&D for decades (39% in OECD during 1991–2001, and 59% in the United States during 1948–98)? Ever bigger taxpayer subsidies to divert investment away from the successful competitors?45 Heroic life-support measures? Where will such efforts stop? We’ve
been trying to make nuclear power cost-effective for a half-century. Are we there yet? When will we be? How will we know? And would nuclear advocates simply agree to re-subsidize the entire energy sector, so all options can compete on a level playing field?"


Highly enriched uranium a liquid? I don't have any direct experience with the stuff, but this doesn't ring true.

Probably compressed uraninum hexaflouride.


Or the nitrate mentioned. In short some compound of uranium thats a liquid or easily compressed to a liquid.

Highly enriched uranium is generally only used for weapons. Current nuclear plants use low enriched fuel, and some planned designs use medium enriched fuel (25% U235). The only reason I can think that they would be processing highly enriched U is if this was part of the weapons stockpile being converted to fuel program.


"The spill last year involved about 35 liters of highly enriched uranium solution that leaked into a protected glovebox, then onto the floor in a facility where highly enriched uranium is “downblended” to a lower enrichment for use in commercial reactors, including TVA’s Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Alabama."

"According to the NRC’s report, there were two chances for a “criticality” accident, where a nuclear chain reaction releases radiation. If such an incident occurred, “it is likely that at least one worker would have received an exposure high enough to cause acute health effects or death,” according to the report."

"“Thus, the public and Congress have been kept in the dark regarding NRC’s decision to withhold all documents regarding the NFS plant from public view,” the congressmen wrote."

"The policy was supposed to cover only documents related to Nuclear Fuel Services’ and another contractor’s program to make nuclear fuel for Navy submarines. Treadway said last year’s spill was not related to the company’s production of naval fuel."

Back to work, slaves. Arbeit macht frei. The truth will just make more paperwork!


Translation from bureaucratese: "We screwed up big time"

If we stop subsidizing everything, dirty coal wins 100% of all pure short-term economic considerations.

I don't believe in that. I don't think that all options should compete on a level playing field, as in reality that field will fail to include greenhouse gases.

What is R&D expended per useful watt delivered?

Nuclear power provides enormously more real world power (continuous power is worth more than unpredictably intermittent power) than wind, even though wind is getting really good now versus how it used to be.

That isn't entirely because of the supposed R&D subsidy, it's because of fundamental thermodynamics and laws of physics. The energy density in nuclear power is so much higher than in wind. That accounts for all the good---and bad---properties of the two.

I don't believe in coal with carbon sequestration either because the temptation to stop the sequestration and immediately get 30-40% more power will be tremendously attractive. And CO2 sequestration is currently an imaginary technology.

Nuclear power is subject to sudden (and sometimes all reactors in a class) long term shutdowns. Thus it fails the continuous power test.

All B & W reactors went down after Three Mile Island for long term retrofits. If TMI had been a Westinghouse reactor instead of a Babcock & Wilcox the US would have had to do what UK did when they found that the wrong type of nut & bolt had been used in ALL of their reactors, let them continue to operate regardless of safety risk. See also Brown's Ferry I (20+ year shutdown after a fire).

France found a common design flaw in all of their N4 reactors (only four reactors and fortunately NA to earlier designs so France could take them down for redesign & retrofit).

The annual contribution of wind turbines is fairly steady (about 15% variance). Couple them with HV DC and pumped storage and they will give what the market needs. VARIABLE power on demand (continuous power is no good for more than a fraction of baseload demand, i.e. 4 AM demand). France gets high % only because they sell off-peak power to neighboring countries. Switzerland buys dirt cheap power over night from France and sells peak hydropower at several times that price).

And by 2015 (if not sooner), wind will contribute more MWh per $ of R&D than nuke.

Nuke will continue as a medium sized source of energy with minimal growth while wind explodes IMO.

Best Hopes for Renewable Energy,


You probably have seen it, but Westinghouse just signed with China for 4 new nuclear plants.


Nuclear needs to be part of the mix, and is quite under-represented in China, and SLIGHTLY under-represented in the USA.

I would welcome 40, not just 4, new nukes in China but with at least four different designs (eggs in basket). Toshiba-Westinghouse, Mitsubishi, Areva and either Russian and/or Candu.

And I welcome the two new Mitsubishi nukes in Texas (on-line 2015 to 2020) and hope for a few more (plus other makes). I welcome even more T Boone Pickens 4 GW wind investment in Texas.

It should be noted that THE WORLD'S LARGEST NUCLEAR PLANT suddenly went down for over a year (last I heard). This would never happen to wind.

Best Hopes for 25% nuke in the USA, and 50% wind,


I agree, Alan. When I add up the numbers, I do not see any way that the level of growth in wind and solar can be sustained short term to match the possible decline in fossil fuels. This makes nuclear, warts and all, absolutely necessary if we are to avoid the grimmer possibilities out there.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

You misread me.

Nukes have the long lead times and moribund industry that will take two decades# IMHO to ramp back up to completing 4 new nukes/year in the USA. Personnel shortages alone are a major hurdle. And the USA will not be alone in competing for limited nuke grade materials and supplies and people.

OTOH, Wind can continue 25% annual compounded growth for as far as the eye can see. Higher rates (35%) may be possible, but I am less certain of that.

The needed HV DC and pumped storage units will slow down wind penetration at some point (say 10% to 15% of US electrical generation). One solution is to waste excess wind generation for a limited time until these are built (it is called spill in hydro).

So a "good future" could see 25% nuke generation and 50% wind generation. Add some hydro & solar & bits of geothermal & biomass.

Best Hopes,


# The two Texas nukes are scheduled fro completion in 2015-2020 (multi-billion project with VERY fuzzy completion dates !!) So we finish the first 2 in a decade or so. Start another one to six new nukes next year with completion dates a year after the Texas nukes (2016-2021). Ditto 2009 until snafus and critical parts backlogs cause problems in under construction nukes (See Areva nuke in Finland).

Go slow pause while this is worked out, then resume order stream, steadily increasing. Meanwhile older nukes retire, so net new nukes are small. By 2023 we are completing 2 or 3 new nukes/year and starting 4 to 8 and construction times start to shorten. Meanwhile wind passes the 250 GW installed base.

"Nuclear power provides enormously more real world power (continuous power is worth more than unpredictably intermittent power) than wind,..."

Got some numbers on this? That energy density is surrounded by layers of complexity and politics (ie, Above Ground Factors)

From the Amory Lovins article.. (Wind plus other alternatives, incl. co-gen.-)
"Nuclear power worldwide has less installed capacity and generates less electricity than its decentralized no- and low-carbon competitors—one-third renewables (excluding big hydroelectric dams), two-thirds fossil-fueled combined-heat-and power."

I'm responding mainly to your "Enormously" and "Real World Power" claims, which both tend to weaken your statement. Minus the CHP generation, surely wind is less, but not really enormously less, and at it's growth-rate, the hyperbole erodes more and more.

And I'll say again, this insistence on 'baseload power' is all well and good.. but I'm not expecting that the Uranium Gods or any other fickle energy-deities will give us a guarantee on 'steady, uninterrupted power'.. much as we may demand it. We'd better be ready to design our systems on 'making hay while the Sun shines'..

"We'd better be ready to design our systems on 'making hay while the Sun shines'.."

I think you make a critical point here. We have coped with agricultural systems that only deliver one burst of energy a year.

If home usage of electrical power was split between a small circuit of guaranteed power, and a larger circuit of "power company optional" power, could most rolling blackouts could be averted?

The power company offers such a service on AC for regulating peak demand. Anyone know the cost of the regulating unit?

I don't know the device you mean. I know there are GridTie Inverters that also provide for battery storage, and there is talk of smart-metering, which 'buys' electricity when the price is best, tho' I don't know if that means scheduling things like furnaces and fridge compressors to stockpile during offpeak hours or something.

Ultimately, the 'Grid-baseload' argument sounds entirely like the 'just-in-time' mfr-ing systems, which avoid storage costs but also have no leeway if the supply chain fails. [While I argued against the 'Efficiency' statement Leanan made some weeks ago, I don't view a form of 'expediting' like JIT as a real 'efficiency' measure, which just like Nuclear, ignores the failure modes at its very great peril.]

In a more immediate example, I never really trust that I'll ever find the really informative 'HowTo' websites when I really need them, so I save the whole HTML on my own computer, if there's vital info involved. (Tutorials on how to wire inverters, build wind generators, etc) We have gotten to the point where we are ground to a halt if the internet is down for whatever reason.. another needle in our arm, keeping us afloat, like the lights, water, sewage, cable, garbage trucks, grocery trucks, mail trucks..

'If you got it, a truck brought it.'


Your Amory Lovins statement seems disingenuous. It is trying to make renewable electrical power seem bigger than it is by binning it in with cogeneration, where cogeneration with fossil fuels, while commendable, is still just coal power plants, with all of their problems.

You've likely already noticed it, but he says 'EX-cluding Large Hydro'.. besides that, I would have to suggest that 'Big' is relative, particularly regarding Hydro, which can cover a great range of small to large, while Nuclear seems to be generally just large. (Like its promises)

Some folks keep saying PV isn't 'scalable', and I've never gotten that. There are multi-megawatt installations all over the world, while underneath them, engineers are crunching formulas on ~.01 watt solar calculators. Maybe they mean it in some economic sense..


Apologies for the apparently non-related reply. You must have edited this comment, which had originally (or somewhere else on the thread..) talked about hydro being Big and Centralized.

Yes, I used a quote (and annotated as much) that Lovins was mentioning a number of 'distributed generation' sources which were growing quickly in current market conditions, wind being one of these, but still one that was growing particularly well, and was not 'Enormously' behind the 'Real' power that we are retrieving from Fission.. to allow mbkennel's characterization to tweak me a little more.

The Uranium Gods have been doing a good job so far.

Oddly enough, someone has run some numbers, and it's not looking good for your side:

"Prof Ausubel investigated how much land renewable energies would need to provide electricity for large populations and compared them to output from nuclear power stations."

"Prof Ausubel investigated how much land renewable energies would need to provide electricity for large populations and compared them to output from nuclear power stations."


"Turning to wind Ausubel points out that while wind farms are between three to ten times more compact than a biomass farm, a 770 square kilometer area is needed to produce as much energy as one 1000 Megawatt electric (MWe) nuclear plant. To meet 2005 US electricity demand and assuming round-the-clock wind at the right speed, an area the size of Texas, approximately 780,000 square kilometers, would need to be covered with structures to extract, store, and transport the energy."

"As a Green, one of my credos is 'no new structures' but renewables all involve ten times or more stuff per kilowatt as natural gas or nuclear," Ausubel says.

Land "covered" by wind turbines cna still be used for a wide variety of other of purposes, such as ranching and farming and recreation.

Houses and commercial buildings have to outside the radius if a WT collapsed.


They're doing a fabulous job, and to celebrate, they are washing up on Beaches in Scotland, sloshing around in Gloveboxes in Tennessee, and seeping out of cracks in Japan. They also like to retire as magical pixie dust on the pleasant sands of Iraq, where the little children frolic with them.

Ausubel's article is "Renewable energy wrecks environment" ??
He's off to a glorious start! When does he cancel Christmas?

"No economies of scale benefit renewables. More renewable kilowatts require more land in a constant or even worsening ratio, because land good for wind, hydropower, biomass, or solar power may get used first."

Oscar: 'Murray, I don't have time to unravel your logic!'

He's priceless. I don't think he's as green as he believes, either. Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to be brief, as the saying goes.

More Amory (Same article)http://www.rmi.org/images/other/Energy/E05-08_NukePwrEcon.pdf
P.2 "Nuclear power is an inherently limited way to protect the climate, because it makes electricity, whose generation releases only two-fifths of U.S. CO2 emissions; it must run steadily rather than varying widely with loads as many power plants must; and its units are too big for many smaller countries or rural users. But nuclear power is a still less helpful climate solution because it’s about the slowest option to deploy (in capacity or annual output added per year)—as observed market behavior confirms—and the most costly. Its higher cost than competitors, per unit of net
CO2 displaced, means that every dollar invested in nuclear expansion will worsen climate change by buying less solution per dollar. Specifically, every $0.10 spent to buy a single new nuclear kilowatt-hour (roughly its delivered cost, including its 2004 subsidies, according to the authoritative
2003 MIT study’s findings expressed in 2004 $) could instead have bought 1.2 to 1.7 kWh of windpower (“firmed” to be available whenever desired), 0.9 to 1.7+ kWh of gas-fired industrial or ~2.2–6.5+ kWh of building-scale cogeneration (adjusted for their CO2 emissions), an infinite number of kWh from waste-heat cogeneration (since its economic cost is typically negative), or at least several, perhaps upwards of ten, kWh of electrical savings from more efficient use. In
this sense of “opportunity cost”—any investment foregoes other outcomes that could have been bought with the same money—nuclear power is far more carbon-intensive than a coal plant. For these reasons, expanding nuclear power would both reduce and retard the desired decrease in CO2 emissions. Claims that more nuclear plants are needed to protect Earth’s climate thus cannot withstand documented analysis or be reconciled with actual market choices. If you are concerned about climate change, it is essential to buy the fastest and most effective climate solutions. Nuclear power is just the opposite. Claimed broad “green” support for nuclear expansion, if real (which it’s not), would therefore be unsound and counterproductive. And efforts to “revive” this moribund technology, already killed by market competition, only waste time and money."

from p13, Under the Heading:
"Comparative size of the practically and economically exploitable resource base How about the ultimate potential size of the competing resources? Is it true, as nuclear advocates often claim, that only nuclear power is big enough to take on such gigantic tasks as powering an advanced industrial economy and displacing carbon emissions? Clearly not.23 Just add these up:"

#3 of 8 " Windpower’s U.S. potential on readily available rural land—equivalent to a few of the larger Dakota counties—is at least twice national electrical usage.25 European experience confirms that windpower’s intermittence even at penetrations of at least ~14% for Germany26 or 30% for West Denmark27 would be manageable at modest cost if renewables are properly dispersed, diversified, forecasted, and integrated with the existing grid and demand response.28 LBL-58450 notes that 2014 resource plans include 20% wind for SDG&E and 15% for Nevada Power—neither near a limiting value. Though intermittence does require attention and proper engineering, it is neither a serious issue nor
unique to renewables. Whenever renewable penetration levels of supposed concern have been approached in practice, they’ve faded over the hazy theoretical horizon. The more
distributed intelligence permeates the grid, the farther off that horizon will recede."

#5 of 8 "Even at such a scale for a diversified renewable portfolio, land-use concerns are unfounded. For example, a rather inefficient PV array covering half of a sunny area

Wow, Nymex Brent has dropped to $76.

Looks like Peak Oil has been cancelled.

Of course...OPEC is going to "consider" pumping more.

Just like they promised to pump more in 2005...but oddly never did.

We're all saved.

And as an encore, they are going to build huge farming and living complexes in the "Empty Quarter" - "Should last decades" Saudi prince quoted saying "as soon as we build our huge Sand Dams"

(above is a joke)

Just like they promised to pump more in 2005...but oddly never did.

For that reason, I don't think the KSA decision on September 11 will be all that telling, unless they say 'no we won't raise output' - which they shouldn't, even if they can't. It's better for all concerned if they say they will and then don't. Then it will be up to others to figure out whether they actually raised output or not.


Good, I was afraid that there would be nobody left silly enough to sell naked crude call options cheap before my check clears at the brokerage...

Net Oil Exports and the "Iron Triangle”
Jeffrey J. Brown

If one resides in the oil industry leg of the Iron Triangle, and if one has concluded that Peak Oil is upon us, or extremely close, does one say, "We cannot increase our production," and thereby encourage massive conservation and alternative energy efforts, or does one say "We choose not to increase production and/or we are temporarily unable to increase production for the following reasons (fill in the blank)?"

Phil Flynn (regarding OPEC, from up top):

Not that they see any problems right now with the world's economy mind you, but they stand ready to pump more oil if needed. Never mind that some estimate that OPEC production fell last month.

Hello WT,

I just wanted to congratulate you & Khebab for your first two parts of a four part interview series I found on Bart's Energy Bulletin--Big Kudos to you!!!


Keep up the good work and keep kicking ass!!!

I also want to thank Darwinian, or Ron P. for all his hard work on keeping detailed oil-stats all these years.

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

I did an extended interview with Bill Paul, a journalist who worked at the WSJ for a long time, and who runs the Energy Tech Stocks website. He is a very sharp guy by the way. In any case, he thinks that the oil export issue is on the verge of going "mainstream."

That would make a lot of sense from a PR point of view, since it allows for shifting the focus on both the blame and the attention.

Q: "Why are we having $10 gasoline and oil shortages?"

A: "Because they're keeping it for themselves, those countries with their inefficient nationalized state-run and heavily subsidized industries".

It sounds like an Iron Triangle dream-come-true publicity field day.

WT, this is an indirect way to tell the American people 'we are in the mid east for the oil,' and, at the same time, deliver the message that we might have to go elsewhere and intervene so that the natives will not be tempted to use 'our oil' for their own benefit.

From How To Survive a Disaster

In my catastrophe research, I stumbled one morning onto a video of Sandman speaking to the financial industry about pandemic flu and ended up spending the rest of the day poring over his fascinating Web site. In a field that pits jargony scientists against skittish politicians against a sensational press against a confused public, Sandman (whose name I am not making up) serves as a valuable navigator who can help different constituencies understand one another. It turns out that when trying to communicate risks and hazards to the general public, you don't necessarily want to simply stick the facts out there—third-most seismically active region, etc. Rather, you want to strategize against what the public already knows or thinks it knows. People, he explains, are inherently ambivalent and will usually compensate for whatever side of the argument is not being made: If you emphasize the low probability of a particular catastrophe occurring, for example, the listener's mind will usually rush to the other side and worry about its potential devastation. If, on the other hand, you emphasize its potential devastation, the listener will respond by lending more weight to its low probability.

GDM - very entertaining and interesting article. Thanks. Prof Sandman's work is worth looking at more carefully. Seems quite relevant in the context of the Drumbeats of the last two days.

Too bad no other posters commented (I'm guessing they didn't read the links?), but it's a fast and furious pace here: post first - ask questions later, seems to rule. Or maybe I'm just getting slow to think that reflection takes hours, sometimes days.

Fom Richard Duncan: I can't access Oil and Gas Journal, nor post the entire text (unless on express demand). WT?

Subject: OPEC "diminished"

Background: Previously we’d discussed that world oil production had declined by 0.3 percent from January-April 2007 compared to January-April 2006 (O&GJ, July 2, 2007, page 21). Then yesterday Walter called my attention to the following article by Sam Fletcher (O&GJ, July 16, 2007,. After explaining its importance and relevance, he added: “It appears that Matt is correct about Saudi oil. Moreover, 100 years seems about right for Industrial Civilization.”

OPEC spare productive capacity ‘diminished’

Increasing global demand for crude and natural production declines have diminished the excess productive capacity of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its power to manipulate oil prices, said analysts J. Marshall Adkins and Collin Gerry in the Houston office of Raymond James & Associates Inc.

Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s biggest oil producer, plans to raise its production capacity to 12.5 million b/d by 2012 from 10.5 million b/d currently. “For the record, we don’t think the magnitude of this increase is attainable,” said Adkins and Gerry in a July 9 report. “The more relevant issue is that declining productivity and political instability of other OPEC member nations are likely to mute any success that Saudi Arabia has with increasing OPEC’s productive capacity,” they said.

Potential OPEC production increases are offset by five member countries that are facing either permanent production declines or structural constraints, they said. “Over the past 40 years, OPEC has historically had a cushion of anywhere between 4-16 million b/d, excluding certain geopolitical events (which occurred mainly in the 1970s),” Raymond James reported. That gave the cartel its control of oil markets. “Today, OPEC’s excess capacity has all but disappeared,” the analysts said.

Oil & Gas Journal July 16, 2007
volume 105, issue 27
Author(s) : Sam Fletcher
To access this article, go to:
Copyright © 2007: PennWell Corporation, Tulsa, OK; All Rights Reserved.

I didn't like Flynn's naive rant. It sounds as if the guy is completely clueless about what's going on, but not that an idiot too. Of course when he says that "The oil price increase has been a reflection of good economic times" he's completely blown away. Perhaps the mirage of the DOW increase is blinding too many people...

BTW, was yesterday the record for any DrumBeat or article? I'm not even going to try to get through 160+ new messages this morning.

I reckon banning just two names in todban saved me from about 250 to 300 useless posts. Banning Asebius would have saved even more, but I don't see him as a troll.

FWIW, I believe Asebius was expressing sincere concern, even if many took offense to his "solution."

I emphatically am sincere in my concern. But I made a mistake in casting my net too wide. After yesterday, I no longer think the TOD leadership knew that Jeff is an anarchist, nor that he had sought and received a book endorsement from Zerzan. I also owe Nate Hagens an apology for a dumb insinuation.

I got up this morning and there was more great content.

Thankyou TOD, from a loyal but crusty reader.

Welcome to the diminishing returns of herd behavior.

As an increasing number of people feel compelled to write an increasing number of comments, an even faster increasing number feel even more compelled to not read them anymore. Also, and obviously, the quality of what is said diminishes neatly in tune with the quantity.

I noted yesterday the irony of having a Drumbeat with so many comments about Kunstler that his own comment was relegated to page 2. Which nobody reads. Just checked, and I was right: all new comments since last night are on page 1.

First time I realized that there was a page 2. I first thought there was a problem with the site but after three tries to correct it, I saw that it actually folds to a second page.

I noted yesterday the irony of having a Drumbeat with so many comments about Kunstler that his own comment was relegated to page 2. Which nobody reads. Just checked, and I was right: all new comments since last night are on page 1.

Yes, that is because there is a flaw in the software. When you go to the second page you lose all the "New" flags. I just checked and it said there were 22 new posts. There were 18 on page one and none on page two. I have never seen a new flag on page two and never will until the bug is fixed. They really need to fix that problem if we continue to get so many posts.

Ron Patterson

The excess posts should self-correct when the population declines..

I've been trying to convince SuperG that the default Drupal behavior is broken, and he claims that fixing the "mark-everything-read-whatever-you-do" behavior means more hassle because it's not in the mainline code.

This suggests one of two things to me:

  1. Fix the problem and submit the improvements for the mainline.
  2. Get rid of Drupal, as it's obviously too lightweight for TOD (we still don't have comment history with reply counts).

As it is, trying to cover every response in a thread requires reading to the end before posting any replies (this one is my fourth stacked up on this) and reloading just before posting all of them.  If you accidentally do something that reloads — you're screwed!

Did I mention that Drupal is broken yet?

fixing the "mark-everything-read-whatever-you-do" behavior means more hassle because it's not in the mainline code.

Very likely, doesn't SuperG know his turf?

Fix the problem and submit the improvements for the mainline.

Please go ahead!

Get rid of Drupal, as it's obviously too lightweight for TOD

-ibidem- You're welcome to do the port to something else.

trying to cover every response in a thread requires reading to the end before posting any replies

I have another technique, whenever I want to post not only I use the "Reply in new window" link but I load yet another copy of the page in another window just before issuing the final "Post comment", the new copy will have all new comments issued during my reading time correctly tagged as new.
It fails however when you are unlucky enough so that someone posted something during the delay for your post to be accepted, which happens once in a while for 1 or 2 missed comments.
In any case you know that you missed some comments if the comment count returned from you post exceeds the count in the duplicated page.
Many duplicated pages can be stacked while replying to several comments.

However the tagging in the second page (continuation) seems hopelessly trashed.
The only semblance of remedy for wiped out "new" tags is to search the thread for posting dates and times which lay beyond the latest correctly tagged comment (quite awkward).

We have fixed the problem.  The bug where Drupal marks the entire thread read because you posted a response is fixed by a one-line deletion.  (Why the designers thought that an entire thread should be marked "read" because it fed your just-posted reply back to you, I don't know; I think they're either clueless or nuts).  The problem is getting this rolled into the mainline code so updates don't require a ton of patching.

California passed two major greenhouse gas laws last year. One mandates reducing CO2 emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 -- perhaps as much as a 40% cut. The other prohibits the renewal of electricity contracts from traditional coal-fired plants. Together, these laws threaten to increase the cost of all forms of energy, making the Golden State less competitive and throwing thousands of Californians out of work.

Thanks for the work, Leanan. Truly great.

But check out that story I've quoted. Ain't it an inhumanity? How dare they? How can they strive for a more environmental society? How can they forbid the americans of choosing what's best for them? If they want cheap clean, great coal, why should this fascist governor forbid them?

Think of the children! The children!

Of course, this kind of idiocy is all around us. They fail to understand that renewable energy is a primer in creating jobs. Take Germany for instance: their renewable's industry has more jobs now than their acclaimed and successful auto industry. But to take out the choice of Coal! How dare they indeed!

Solar power, in any form, is costly and eats up large amounts of real estate. Solar photovoltaics (PV) use toxic materials and wear out after about 20 years -- well before any rooftop investor would recover his financial cost.

Further reading indicated that he's a nuke guy. Talk about FUD. These morons simply don't understand the need of energy we have now. To simply dismiss renewables because they show signs of toxicity is laughable! Yeah, Solar is toxic, let's turn to nuclear instead!

Have people gone mad or smth?

This is the first time I've ever heard of Solar being toxic!

Lesson being? Don't eat your solar panels! :-)

Remember, we are only one cubic mile from from freedom

I think they must mean the fab of silicon PV, which does indeed use hideously dangerous chemicals, and produces lots of toxic waste. Oh, and consume a lot of very pure water, too.

The productiong of high grade sillicon produces extensive wastes (especially water pollution). Search for Silicon production and "water pollution" or learn what the process is use to produce sillicon from raw materials. This of course the mining of trace dopenants used to form N and P junctions in semiconductors. The other non-silicon PV panel usually contain heavy and toxic metals and also produce extensive mining wastes. PV is a very dirty industry.


PV and Chip production is a heavily watched industry. Would that the DEP and DOE take such care with Coal Plants..

(Originally in Homepower magazine, Issue #100)

"A while back, there was a media barrage claiming that
photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing was extremely hazardous
to the environment. PV manufacturing does require the use
of chemicals that are designated as toxic by the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Employee safety is
paramount during the manufacturing process, and
chemicals used must be disposed of in an environmentally
sound manner.
The federally funded National Renewable Energy
Laboratory (NREL) researched the media claims and
concluded, “By using well-designed industrial processes
and careful monitoring, PV manufacturers have
minimized risks to where they are far less than those in
most major industries. All of these risks fall well within
the range already protected by OSHA and similar

By using well-designed industrial processes
and careful monitoring, PV manufacturers have
minimized risks to where they are far less than those in
most major industries

Such as manufacturing it overseas where EPA rules don't apply. PV product is a drop in a barrel of where it would need to be to make serious offsets in electrical power generation.

Ohh The Huge Manatee

If people would just think with their head instead of their butt or whatever they are thinking with.. Stop being Joe Sixpack and actually give a crap maybe just maybe things would change for the better. By doing the cut requires new infrastructure anyway and people to maintain it so yeah it will give jobs. But all throughout history _OLD_ jobs and _OLD_ ways of doing things are always faught as extremely hard as humanly possible to not allow progress due to the Joe Sixpack complacent approach.

I do believe that's plagiarizing Dr. Fun:

In regards to the story above about I-70 in Colorado, I was in Colorado over the winter for a week of skiing and experienced traffic jams about 50% of the time on I-70. In contrast, I went to Colorado in 1997 for a similar week of skiing and never had traffic congestion.

One of the things the reporter points out in the story is that expansions need to occur to relieve congestion, but that this work could take years and lead to severe congestion while the work is taking place.

There seems to be no consideration made for alternative methods of transport. Why is it that the obvious idea of putting a train down the median of the interstate is left out of the discussion. This would have to be cost effective when compared to years of interstate expansion. Plus, it would deal with the issue of congestion, use less energy, and be less vulnerable to weather delays, which were rampant on my ski trip. A little blowing snow and lookout! Traffic Jam...

Another startling thing about the story is how surprised the business owners in mountain resort towns are about their reliance on the interstate. If there's an extended closure there aren't any customers and there aren't any deliveries. Go back 30-40 years and towns like Frisco, Aspen, and Breckenridge were in the boonies. Travel on old US-6 and you'll understand why.

Tom A-B

There were plans to use a mothballed rail line & tunnel (perhaps replaced by Moffet tunnel) and related plans for a streetcar system in Vail or Aspen, Vetoed by Colorado DOT from vague memory.

Quite frankly, I did not follow this project proposal closely since skiing is not a vital economic activity in my world view.


Tom, the idea of rail in the median is a good one and works well where it has been implemented, however, when installing the rail there will be traffic disruption due to delivery of all the materials to build the system.

There seems to be no consideration made for alternative methods of transport. Why is it that the obvious idea of putting a train down the median of the interstate is left out of the discussion.

Some of the technical problems are, I believe, considerable. I'm no expert -- perhaps Alan can make comments. (1) There are stretches where the grade is in excess of 7%; what problems does this create? (2) There are some stretches where the median is minimal and substantial new construction would be required; I assume this problem would be even worse if two sets of tracks, one for eastbound trains and one for westbound, are required. (3) I-80 tops out at the Eisenhower Tunnel at about 11,000 feet. Taking away one of the two tubes for use by trains makes the congestion even worse; boring another tube will take years; the altitude may be an issue.

1) Every axle being driven (common in light rail) allows up to 10% grades (Pittsburgh had a streetcar that climbed icy hill of 14.7% from memory. Modern operators would not do this). Railroads dislike anything much above 1.5% (up to 2% and more "depending". lots of experience world wide). Cog railways a different technology.

2)Good controls would allow alternating stretches of single and double track with acceptable loss in capacity. I doubt service would need more than 1 train every 15 minutes.

Given the "every axle being driven" requirement, freight would be limited to trolley freight (containers on light rail type flat cars) so no freight trains.

3) In the USA, RAIL CANNOT TAKE LANES AWAY FROM RUBBER TIRES !! Once this changes, more can happen quicker. The French routinely take road lanes away for tram lines, and build new lines in 3 to 4 years from concept to ribbon cutting !

I-80 is a vital truck route and we cannot take capacity away today. A new tunnel (no ventilation required since it will be electric) would be the way to go.


>3) In the USA, RAIL CANNOT TAKE LANES AWAY FROM RUBBER TIRES !! Once this changes, more can happen quicker. The French routinely take road lanes away for tram lines, and build new lines in 3 to 4 years from concept to ribbon cutting !

A lot of interstate highways are useless for rail conversion because the grades are much steaper. Much of the alternate bypasses with acceptable grades for rail are already occupied by residential neighbors and commerical properties which would be extremely costly to displace.

I live in Denver and drive I-70 on a regular basis. Weekend traffic has increased substantially in past 10 years or so. In bad weather it can take several hours to drive the ~85 miles from Summit County and Vail (the most popular ski destinations for Denver residents) to Denver.

The Colorado Environmental Coalition has put together plans for an elevated light rail based on a swiss vehicle that can do 65mph up a 7% grade: http://i70mountaintransit.org/railoni70.htm

I would very much like to see a rail line put in along that stretch of the interstate. My concern is that it would see low ridership during all but ski season, because during the summer months not everyone is going to the ski resorts. People are going to campgrounds, rivers and trailheads throughout the mountains. They are also bringing along kayaks, campers, and other bulky toys.

The site above does not estimate the cost to ride the train, but at $3/gallon, it costs four people in an SUV less than $10 each for the round trip to Summit County and back. And yes, people do tend to carpool. There are large (and being upgraded) park and rides on the west side of Denver where people leave their cars.

So under current economic conditions, I'm not sure the train makes sense, as much as I'd like it to. If gas goes to $10, will there be many people left who can afford to ski?


Looks like there was a party @ drumbeat yesterday and no one invited the TOD TROLL with the SARCONOL.

I'm thinking of opening an online pub called The Elephant In The Room.

Free shots for all!!!!!

Troll update;

Just sold our 4000 sq' house for twice what I paid 5 yrs ago... to the RE agent that sold it to me!!!!

Talk about optimism.

We are renting a 1200 sq' cutie with lots of raised bed garden space, woodstove, walk to work.

Man it feels great to not owe a dime to anyone.

It might be worthwhile to start scouting for a vacant lot to build a hyper-efficient home nearby. Kind of fun to plan and in the middle stages of the looming real estate crash, materials and labor MAY become significantly cheaper.

Look and plan first would be my advice.

Best Hopes,


Thanks Alan - I have an ever-increasing group of like-minded folks with diverse abilities and we are looking for a few acres to place several small houses interspersed with productive garden. Those with gardening skills can spend more time there and pay less into the pot. Those who can still go out into the world and bring home the bacon will put in proportionately more money. All work hard, all eat.

I came up a term for this, UTOPIA!!!!!

Sounds cool huh!

I know totally cornucopian but a guy can dream can't he?

I am stocking up on 50# sacks of red and brown lentils as a back-up. They have increased in value by almost 50% in the last year.

Just one thought.

A common building (perhaps 2 stories, perhaps 3, with basement) with separate entrances (for privacy) is more energy efficient than separate bungalows. And leaves more space for gardens.

And a couple of rental units is always good :-)

That is a ten unit "condo" with 8 unit owners and two rental units (for a local cop and local doctor say) could be a ver good idea. Add one space that could be commercial (bicycle shop, barber, tailor, shoe repair, etc.)

Just thoughts of mine,


Well, yes. Green building actually doesn't advocate isolated houses, but instead a mild dense urbanism with 3 4 stories high. The less walls you have to insolate from the exterior the best conservation you'll end up with. Furthermore, the not-so-wide streets are very good at keeping radiation heat inside the town, as buildings don't radiate to the sky, but to the neighbour buildings.

Even though I'm in the Northeast US, my 'Dreamhouse' for multiple families/rental, etc, is modeled on a Mexican Hacienda, perhaps modified to let the central courtyard be glassed-over and South-exposed in Winter to work as a greenhouse/garden. The units share walls, but not so many that everyone is right on top of each other with no room to breathe. One or two big common rooms and the capacity to cook for large groups.

Bob Fiske

I've been wondering about the relationship between the peak in US oil production in the early '70s, and the change from a manufacturing to a service economy.

I can think of some possibilities, but I wondered if anyone had any analysis or explanation?

Sure, Ronald Reagan got elected, and he made it possible for manufacturers to build overseas, move their headquarters to a tax haven and not pay any taxes while leaching off the US economy. Meanwhile, he cut rich people's taxes and middleclass services like education grants, while using the media to convince fools to vote against their own interests. He allowed the domestic oil industry to collapse by letting the Majors cut prices below production costs through cheap foreign imports, and since he cut rich people's taxes, no one needed tax shelters. Even stupid rich people could pay low taxes.

He then added huge amounts of debt to the government so his buddies could get commission's selling bonds and the big insurance companies could get lots of interest. Debt's great for bankers, not to good for people paying it back.

This has been going on now for 30 years, and thanks to globalisation, we now compete for jobs with people in third world countries . The party is over for the working people and middle class, unless they have a job where the key question is "Do you want fries with that?"

So, How 'bout them fries!

Bob Ebersole

OK, thanks Bob. I haven't had my head hidden under a rock for the last 25 years, so I understand the political aspect pretty well. However, I was looking for a more direct connection, other than the fact that our knee-jerk reaction to US peak oil was to elect an idiot pawn of the wealthy elite.

It seem so me that as we moved from a net energy producer to an energy importer, perhaps the real cost of energy (including military costs, increasing debt, etc.) might have helped to make our manufacturing economy uncompetitive. Just wanted to hear if anyone had a good explanation reasoned out already.

... the relationship between the peak in US oil production in the early '70s, and the change from a manufacturing to a service economy[?]

I don't think one has much to do with the other.
Instead it was the rise of the MBA mentality that spawned our "service" oriented economy. MBAs are trained to seek out endeavors that maximize $RO$I (dollars returned on dollars invested). Manufacturing is capital intensive. On the other hand, a couple of computers, a couple of high school hackers and Bamo, you're swimming in loot. What could be better than that?

Well, I suppose that any link might be pretty indirect, and I also recognize that there are a lot of other factors too.

I agree about the MBAs - I don't know what they've been teaching these people of late, but the level of lunacy is amazing. Somewhere along the way the idea of "adding value" got replaced with "intellectual property" - which too often is just stupid marketing and financial schemes. Then you combine this with a focus on short term profit, and you're left with.....an empty shell.

I suspect that in the world of the future people may come to realize that it's all well and good to KNOW something, but you have to actually be able to DO something with that knowledge too, and that there is some skill involved with turning theory into practice!

A 21st century catastrophe

Flood-ravaged Britain is suffering from a wholly new type of civil emergency, it is clear today: a disaster caused by 21st-century weather.

This weather is different from anything that has gone before. The floods it has caused, which have left more than a third of a million people without drinking water, nearly 50,000 people without power, thousands more people homeless and caused more than £2bn worth of damage - and are still not over - have no precedent in modern British history.

Nothing in the past hundred years, in terms of flooding caused by rainfall, has been as bad. According to the Environment Agency, even the previous worst case, the extensive floods of spring 1947, which were aggravated by the vast snow melt that followed an exceptionally hard winter, has been surpassed.

"We have not seen flooding of this magnitude before," said the agency yesterday. "The benchmark was 1947, and this has already exceeded it." And the 1947 floods were said to have been the worst for 200 years.

Most remarkable of all is the fact that the astonishing picture the nation is now witnessing - whole towns cut off, gigantic areas underwater, mass evacuations, infrastructure paralysed and grotesquely swollen rivers, from the Severn and the Thames downwards not even at their peaks yet - has all been caused by a single day's rainfall. A month's worth and more in an hour.

And I was thinking to move to London.... darn.

What a mess.

Except this flooding also occurred around 60 years ago. Truly unprecedented imho.

I told you a few days ago to go read and then come back. But that's not much use, you apparently can't even read this short article.

"We have not seen flooding of this magnitude before," said the agency yesterday. "The benchmark was 1947, and this has already exceeded it."

How hard is that?

HISF - I was reprimanded upthread for not paying more attention to screennames. Perhaps this is where that principle should be applied...

Can I be the first to call this "The British Katrina"?

Quick GW primer:

Global Warming causes climate change
Climate Change causes changes in weather patterns.
Changes in weather patterns cause changes in weather - SOMETIMES.
If the weather changes become permanent, that's a climate flip. This would be that "totally different planet" that the climate researchers warn of.

The UK is highly vulnerable to the three elements which I believe will lead to collapse; economy, ecosystem and energy. After evaluating the situation in 2004 I sold everything and left the UK. My house was on the bank of the river Thames and I saw first hand the flooding in 2000 and 2003.

Of course Britain isn't the only country in the World suffering at the hands of a changing climate, huge swathes of the Planet are currently being affected. Surprisingly, the thing which is not getting much mention is the devastation being wrought upon agriculture. Even in the relatively benign weather of Europe, agriculture is being stressed by heat, cold, draught and flood.

Triumvirate of collapse - Economy, Ecosystem, Energy

Hello Burgundy,

It will be interesting to see how this tragic flooding affects UK politics going forward: will the UK now really start to get serious about PO & GW mitigation?

How will a changed UK mindset affect the global scene?

Wild & Crazy Speculation ahead:

Europe really working to help collapse the US economy to help force CO2 reductions?

British MI-6 secret agents doing assassination hits on US politicians that keep legislating for more infinite growth?

British & French boomer-subs threatening to launch on the US to finally force us to cut-the-crap, go to full Peakoil Outreach, and unequivocably jumpstart meaningful US mitigation of PO & GW?

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

China grapples with epic flooding

Heavy rains have inundated the central part of the nation, affecting 100 million people. More than 1million have been evacuated.

Over the weekend, Chinese President Hu Jintao visited the hard-hit city of Chongqing, wading through the streets in black galoshes and promising help. "This once-in-a-century rain has destroyed your homes and washed away your belongings, causing significant losses," he said, according to state media. "I am as sad as you. We must have the determination and courage to overcome this."

The evacuation process hasn't been perfect — more than 500 people nationwide have lost their lives in the flooding. But compared with some of the epic floods in Chinese history, in which tens of thousands — or hundreds of thousands — of people have died, it has been a relatively efficient response.

"Different countries have different systems," said Xu Long, the vice president of Fengtai County in the eastern province of Anhui, which includes Huainan. "Maybe China has the unique advantage of having the party hierarchy."

Many Chinese now view the Communist Party as anachronistic in a nation with a rapidly expanding market economy. Many quietly resent its intrusion into all aspects of life, not to mention its periodic ruthlessness in stilling dissent.

But if there's one thing the party knows how to do, it is mobilize. And that has turned out to be a good thing when floodwaters are lapping at the door.

Chinese bestseller: "Fleeing for Dummies"

Hmmm. Maybe we should translate it into 150 languages and distribute it widely. Might be THE hot title of "The New American Century."

More climate change effects....

Invasion of the jumbo squid

It sounds like something out of a monster movie.

A mysterious sea creature, up to 7 feet long, weighing up to 100 pounds. It hunts in packs of hundreds, flying through the water at 25 mph, changing color.

With a parrot-like beak and arms covered with thousands of sharp barbs, it attacks and tries to eat nearly anything it sees, including fish, scuba divers, even its own kind.

But it's not a creature of Hollywood. It's real. And it's reached the Monterey Bay. The Humboldt squid, also known as the giant squid or jumbo squid, traditionally has lived in warm waters off South America and Mexico, where fishermen call it "diablo rojo," or "red devil."

For reasons that still aren't entirely clear, large numbers of the scrappy cephalopods have been steadily expanding their range north, first off San Diego and Los Angeles, where hundreds have washed up on beaches in recent years.

Now they appear to have taken up residence in Monterey Bay, according to a study released Monday by researchers from Stanford University and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) compiled with more than 16 years of underwater video.

"These are aggressive, pugnacious bullies," said Bruce Robison, senior scientist at MBARI, based in Moss Landing. "They are a sight to behold."

The squid are not to be confused with a species of giant squid known as Architeuthis that can grow up to 60 feet. Those are the stuff of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" and other fantastic stories. Last year, for the first time, a 30-foot giant squid was filmed off Japan, although none has ever been filmed in Monterey Bay..

Well, at least we'll have plenty of Calamari to munch on as we watch the planet burn.

Wow, what a drop in prices:

Brent is down 3.4$ (4.3%)

Doesn't look like there is a bidding war going on. I know this is is a bad forum to say this, but looks like supply is plentiful.

Yes its interesting. For all the talk of production being down 1 million barrels a day and of demand being up the price is still NOT able to crack last years highs (and never mind the fact that the $ price in abolute terms is down on this time last year). My back of the fag packet calculations indicate that oil (Brent) would have to crack something like $83-84 to equal last years high (in adjusted $).

It's not the only thing that is falling; Dow down 200 points and the S&P a whopping 27 points. Perhaps prices are reflecting constricting credit conditions due to a shutdown in the CDO money printing machine.

So what do we have:

Economy failing - check!
Ecosystem failing - check!
Energy supply failing - check!

Everything looks on-track. So why shouldn't the price of oil collapse along with everything else?

Triumvirate of collapse - Economy, Ecosystem, Energy

Well a recession due to a credit crunch spreading around the globe is probably the only thing that would collapse oil to below $50 (with a reduction in worldwide demand back to say 80-82mbd).

According to the pundits that be, the drop in crude is due to 2 reasons:
1. OPEC hinting they will consider raising output in September.
2. Gasoline inventories have increased over the last week by something like 2.3 mbd.

It seems to me that these markets are either not rational (in the short term), or they are controlled by factors that the general public is mostly not informed of.


I think that Total also resumed its exports from Angola, but given the recent run-up in prices, I'm sure that this was an attractive time for some oil traders to lock in some profits.

The top 16 net oil exporters represent close to 90% of total world net oil exports. The following chart, done by "Mr. 5%," shows a 5% decline in net exports by the top 16. For every 20 barrels of oil that that these countries exported in September, 2005, we had already lost one barrel, as of March, 2007--in the space of only 18 months.

Given the advanced state of depletion in most major oil exporting countries and rapidly increasing domestic consumption, I don't see anything that will turn the decline around.

Net Oil Exports From Top 16 Net Oil Exporters:

Not rational markets about covers it. When 5 times more contracts are traded in crude than is produced daily, and at least 80% is speculators, I think of grandmothers, beanie babies and a limited supply of grandchildren who are allowed to play with beanie babies. Just think, someone actually calls them investors!

When do this months futures close out?

Bob Ebersole

Triumvirate of collapse - Economy, Ecosystem, Energy

And on top of them sit the most important umvirate: population.

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

T-minus 5 months until someone finds out that X hedge fund shifted their balance of goods again?

I am sure that hedge funds are (at least partially) responsible for wide movements. But I do not think that hedge funds would be able to lover oil price is there really was a bidding war going on.

The fact that opinions and perceptions can change this price shows that so far we are still in the same situation as before. Supply is fairly plentiful. If price could go down becasue of perception it mean that it probably went up because of perception and not the actual shortage.

Let's see of course what tomorrow's report will show about crude in storage in US.

1) Trading closed on the front month, August delivery contract at the end of trading on Friday, 20-July.

2) Front month futures are at their most-removed from real-world conditions immediatly after the previous expiry.

I infer therfore, that the front-month contract is most affectable by rhetoric the trading day that it becomes the front-month.

3) OPEC's Qabazard made his statement sometime around midday GMT on Sunday 22-July.

They timed it perfectly, if the intent was to maximise the impact of the statement, and not the real situation, on prices.

Perhaps this is normal timing for OPEC statements around supply, but if so, I have never noticed it before.

Hmmm at the merest hint that OPEC will turn the taps on oil prices show a reversal and are down about 3%. The market still seems to pay attention to OPEC. The COT reports for the past 2 weeks show big long positions for specs but the real big buyers have switched over to a less bullish stance. Remember last year and things looked set for $80plus in Sept? Instead of which there was an early reversal and the market started its downtrend? Thusfar the Gulf has been quiescent. Personally I would have thought we are yet to see highs but the traders are still in thrawl to OPEC; I was surprised that there spokesman did not lift the line in the sand that they wanted to defend closer to $70.

Yeah, I don't remember when it was that my own kids quit paying attention when I told them to behave or I was going to come in there and they would be sorry. OPEC is trying that out on the markets for the umpteenth time, and one more time, the markets bit. So, you all watch out. OPEC is going to come in there and increase production, and if they have to, you're all going to be sorry.


I don't know if it has been talked about today or not, but here goes anyway.

Yesterday in all the posts there was a ray of thought that needed to get out a bit for some fresh air.

Now that we know we are going to have a collaspe what do we do with that information, How do we set up knowledge bases and help models to help the flow of collaspe not be so bad.

Of all the people that have been here posting at TOD for almost all of the 2 plus years it has been around, we should have at least talked about this subject a bit.

I seem to remember us doing so, but I think it was just a discusion in the comments, not an actual post to comment on.

Seems like a good time to start thinking about it, while we still have running water.
Charles E. Owens Jr.


We need one of these for the Oil Peak Production Bubble.

In stores soon.

System vulnerabilities and failure seems to be coming rather common these days. So we can now add the US/San Francisco to our list of first world countries turning into third world countries.


About 3,000 evacuees are still living in shelters following the Niigata Prefecture Chuetsu Offshore Earthquake that struck on July 16, it has been learned, with many expected to be unable to return home for an extended period.

A week after the quake, an estimated 40 percent of households and local facilities are still without running water. The elderly have been particularly hard hit, with many evacuees suffering chronic diseases, elevated blood pressure, insomnia and other disorders. Officials are concerned the problem will be exacerbated by the hot weather, which they believe could leave many suffering dehydration or food poisoning


Residents of flood-hit areas in England have been told not to panic as a massive operation takes place to get clean water to those left stranded.

Emergency services have been battling to deliver supplies to the 350,000 people across Gloucestershire without running water since Sunday

Triumvirate of collapse - Economy, Ecosystem, Energy

I lost power in my San Francisco office six times today. Each time it was out for 2-3 minutes then back on. It stayed on just long enough to be able to boot up the computer, open what I was working on, then it would crash again.


Here's the note we got from PG&E:
Many of you have been impacted by the numerous momentary and sustained outages that have occurred in SF and the northern Peninsula. At this point all I can tell you is that we have had at least 52,000 customers out of power, but 24k customers have been restored, including most all customers SF. We have experienced multiple fluctuations to our 230 kVA transmission voltage distribution line coming up through the Penninsula. This has contributed in knocking out power to several banks at our Embarcadero and Martin Substations.

More information to follow as it becomes available.

If you have any questions, please call me at the number below. Thanks and have a safe day!

I don't know about anyone else, but it seems to me that we have quite a few new folks(possible trolls) who are posting comments with the intent of distracting us, or diffusing the message about our energy crisis. Lets deal with them intelligently!

There certainly has been a heightened volotility to the discussions the last couple of days. Maybe that reflects the overall markets.


Apologies if this has been posted already (from a couple of days ago but I didn't see it in other drumbeats):


Slope production drops faster than estimated
State officials say their overestimating could hurt budget plans

By Tim Bradner
Alaska Journal of Commerce

Alaska North Slope oil and gas fields declined 12.5 percent in production of crude oil and natural gas liquids last year, according to an analysis by the state Department of Revenue.

...But the data also shows a steepening of the natural decline of the large, older fields on the Slope, rates that exceeded estimates by the producers and the state.

...The Prudhoe Bay field, which suffered a partial shutdown in August and September 2006, showed the most dramatic decline in total annual production, a drop of 19.4 percent, according to the analysis. Prudhoe is the largest field in northern Alaska and accounts for roughly half of total North Slope production.

The Kuparuk River field, the second largest field, showed an 8.8 percent decline. Endicott, an offshore field that started production in 1987, showed a 20.2 percent decline. Alpine, a relatively new field that began in 2000, showed a decline of 14.8 percent. Production from small satellite fields near Alpine has keep the field processing facilities at maximum capacity.

Perhaps this is not appropriate here, however every now and then the folks here should take a break from their opinions of high intellect, and review the errors espoused by some of the experts in their day. I am sure most of you are already familiar with nearly all of these blupers from the past.

As Yogi said: “some things are hard to predict especially about the future”.

"Man will never reach the moon regardless of all future scientific advances." -- Dr. Lee DeForest, "Father of Radio & Grandfather of Television."

"The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives." - - Admiral William Leahy , US Atomic Bomb Project

"There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom." -- Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923

"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons." -- Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers ." -- Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

"I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year." -- The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957

"But what is it good for?" -- Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.

"640K ought to be enough for anybody." -- Bill Gates, 1981

This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us," -- Western Union internal memo, 1876.

"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?" -- David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.

"The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C,' the idea must be feasible," -- A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)

"I'm just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling on his face and not Gary Cooper," -- Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in "Gone With The Wind."

"A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make," -- Response to Debbi Fields' idea of starting Mrs. Fields' Cookies.

"We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out," -- Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.

"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible," -- Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.

"If I had thought about it, I wouldn't have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can't do this," - - Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M "Post-It" Notepads .

"Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy," -- Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.

"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau." - - Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University , 1929.

"Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value," -- Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre , France .

"Everything that can be invented has been invented," -- Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, US Office of Patents, 1899.

"The super computer is technologically impossible. It would take all of the water that flows over Niagara Falls to cool the heat generated by the number of vacuum tubes required." -- Professor of Electrical Engineering, New York University

"I don't know what use any one could find for a machine that would make copies of documents. It certainly couldn't be a feasible business by itself." -- the head of IBM, refusing to back the idea, forcing the inventor to found Xerox.

"Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction." -- Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse , 1872

"The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon," -- Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria 1873.

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

And last but not least...

“The volume of Oil extracted will reach a long undulating plateau after 2040” Daniel Yergin 2005

A lot of those are urban legends, or taken out of context/extremely exaggerated.

Ahhh: Its not meant to be serious stuff, just a break from all the serious stuff I have been reading here.

From reading TOD, I've come to the inevitable conclusion that awareness of peak oil and a sense of humour are fundamentally incompatible.
Which is a problem, because a good sense of humour is what we're all going to need if life really does become as miserable as some here anticipate.

Why is it that the poorest of us (especially in Africa) seem to laugh and smile so much more?

There's nothing as funny as a German or an Austrailan complaining about other people's sense of humor.

Well, there's the French, of course.

But they are at least funny to look at.

From reading TOD, I've come to the inevitable conclusion that awareness of peak oil and a sense of humour are fundamentally incompatible.

You gotta be kidding!

IMO, a lot of peak oilers have great senses of humor. Even the most pessimistic of doomers. One reason it's so much fun to read the likes of Kunstler and Savinar is that despite the depressing subject matter, they express themselves so wittily.

Thanks for proving my point...

Did I really seem like I was being serious?

Yes. And I still think you were.

You're gonna force me to start using smileys then...which I'm pathologically opposed to.

From http://www.physorg.com/news104473084.html:

This research is an important first step, Nayak and Shemella said, for developing a way to mass produce metallic graphene that could one day replace copper as the primary interconnect material on nearly all computer chips.

Another point to Julian Simon?

Maybe. A lot of the stuff in PhysOrg never proves to be practical, or is years or decades away from being so.

I suspect we will find out Simon is right only as long as energy is cheap and abundant. We can make substitutes for anything...if we have the energy to do so.

About :

How Our Fossil Fuel Dependence Is Jeopardizing Our Healthcare System


Fuel costs forcing charity to turn away patients

articles posted by Leanan, see up top.

there is one blogger, *Peak Oil Medecine*, who is treating such topics. Mainstream public health blogs don’t. For what it’s worth: blog

Durandal posted:

I tend to have the thought that water is attainable as long as sufficient levels of cheap energy are available.

That is exactly right. The ‘water’ crisis in Africa is in part a gvmt/infrastructure/energy problem. And water is the number one health priority, which is why I mention. (err after food). Iraq is a good example...

Just one excellent public health blog, sharp and very readable, US:

Stayin’ Alive

I didn’t read all the posts above, just chipping in.

It is important that public health fix priorities that are flexible, a ‘return to basics’, which has to be planned, or at least envisaged, anticipated. Very complex, as it involves *transport*, global health measures like vaccines, hygiene, baby care, community spirit, caring professionals who are not out for profit, add in all the rest...