DrumBeat: July 25, 2007

Oil futures jump $2 after report

Oil futures jumped more than $2 a barrel Wednesday, pulling gasoline futures higher after the government reported that inventories of crude oil at a key Oklahoma terminal fell last week. Gas prices at the pump, meanwhile, extended their decline.

Crews clean up after oil geyser near Vancouver

Experts assessed on Wednesday the environmental damage from a ruptured pipeline that showered a residential area near Vancouver with crude oil, some of which seeped into a Pacific Ocean inlet.

Crews attempted to mop up pools of thick black oil left by the accident on Tuesday in Burnaby, British Columbia, when a road construction crew struck the line used to load crude from Alberta on to ships in Vancouver's port.

The Buses From Brazil

Despite constant warnings over the past decade about climate change and peak oil, nine in ten Americans still commute via car. Even relatively transit-friendly Oakland is only slightly better, with 72% of residents driving to work daily. With a new proposal aimed at introducing an innovative mode of transit, AC Transit is hoping to make a dent in that number.

For the past few decades, light rail has been the vogue for American cities wanting to improve their transit options. However, prohibitive capital costs and high operation expenditures have prevented it from getting off the ground in any serious manner in most US cities. While we were busy chasing trains, Latin America was experimenting with a cheaper method of high capacity public transport – bus rapid transit, or BRT.

British professor shot in Nigeria

Gunmen wounded a British professor and a security guard in oil-rich southern Nigeria on Wednesday, a day after a Nigerian oil worker was killed.

Alberta building unions threaten oilsands strike

Five Alberta construction unions have voted in favor of their first strike in a quarter of a century as they seek higher wages and improved working conditions at a slate of multibillion-dollar oilsands projects.

Investors handed a no-lose proposal

How hungry are investors for profits? Yesterday's merger between Transocean Inc. and GlobalSantaFe Corp., two offshore oil and gas drilling companies, shows that investors are ravenous.

The deal does not give shareholders on either side a premium for their shares. Instead, it monetizes part of the two companies' back orders of drilling contracts to 2015 -- worth a combined US$33-billion--and has handed both shareholder groups nearly half of that value in the form of a special dividend.

Clean Coal: How to Make Rock into Biofuel

Despite a Senate battle leaving out important funding for liquid coal research in the new energy bill, gasification remains an important engineering process to our green future.

Economic Theory and OPEC - Part 2

Murray Duffin notes that “the supply of light sweet crude has surely peaked already, and about 70% of world refining capacity is geared to light sweet crude (2007). He adds that upgrading refineries to handle heavier crude is going to be an expensive proposition, but I suspect that this is exactly the sort of challenge that the oil producers of the Middle East are in position to accept.

Quake cleanup delays reactor core checks

Tokyo Electric Power Co. may not be able to begin reactor core checks of its quake-hit nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture until September because it needs to clean up contamination inside one of the seven reactors and remedy other safety woes, company officials said Monday.

Japan says nuclear closure could affect CO2 target

Japan's plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions under the Kyoto Protocol could be affected if an earthquake-hit nuclear power plant is closed for a long time, the country's trade minister said on Tuesday.

Attacks on Mexico pipelines show extensive knowledge of energy infrastructure, officials say

Saboteurs who blew up natural gas pipelines that shut down one of Mexico’s main industrial regions this month also crippled a crude oil pipeline, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

The operation indicated extensive knowledge of Mexico’s energy infrastructure, the officials said.

Not only were oil and natural gas pipelines made targets, but also the bombers knew enough about energy installations to destroy the shutoff valves along several pipelines that allow for the wide national distribution of oil and natural gas.

“These are massive steel valves,” a U.S. official familiar with the bombing investigation told McClatchy Newspapers. “These are major, very expensive shutoff valves that control the flow of all this petroleum (and natural gas). This wasn’t a round tube in the middle of nowhere.”

The bombers knew which side of the valve they should strike, ensuring that crude oil did not flow to a nearby refinery and that natural gas did not flow to foreign and Mexican manufacturers in the central Bajio region, the official said.

Lester R. Brown: Water Tables Falling and Rivers Running Dry

As the world’s demand for water has tripled over the last half-century and as the demand for hydroelectric power has grown even faster, dams and diversions of river water have drained many rivers dry. As water tables fall, the springs that feed rivers go dry, reducing river flows.

Scores of countries are overpumping aquifers as they struggle to satisfy their growing water needs, including each of the big three grain producers—China, India, and the United States. More than half the world’s people live in countries where water tables are falling.

Renewable energy projects will devour huge amounts of land, warns researcher

Large-scale renewable energy projects will cause widespread environmental damage by industrialising vast swaths of countryside, a leading scientist claims today. The warning follows an analysis of the amount of land that renewable energy resources, including wind farms, biofuel crops and photovoltaic solar cells, require to produce substantial amounts of power.

Dramatic increase in biofuel consumption

Consumption of biofuels in the EU rose dramatically during 2006, new figures reveal.

Biofuel use in the EU went up by 78 per cent from 2005 to 2006 - from 3 million to 5.38 million tonnes - according to a report published by EurObserv’ER, an industry consortium for renewable energy.

Manpower crisis cripples oil industry

The shortage of manpower felt throughout all sectors of the oil industry is not just a Middle East problem, it's worldwide.

China's risky bet in Somalia

Chinese investments have come under attack in recent months, and a general wariness about closer ties with Beijing has become part of the political dialogue in most African countries where China does business. Days after the June meeting in Somalia, a Chinese mining executive was kidnapped in Niger. The incident followed the killing of nine Chinese workers in Ethiopia, near the border with Somalia, in April. Chinese workers have also come under attack in Nigeria in recent months.

China consumes record amount of oil in first half

China's consumption of apparent crude oil and refined oil products hit a record high in the first half of the year, totaling 173.03 million tons and 106.112 million tons respectively, up 6.8 percent and 9.6 percent on the previous year.

UK: Passengers to pay billions more as rail capacity expands

Farepayers will nearly double their contribution to the cost of running the railways by the middle of the next decade, the government said yesterday.

Pakistan heading towards serious gas crisis: study

Pakistan is heading fast towards serious gas crisis as its demand and supply ratio is not showing equilibrium beyond 2007, Hagler Bailly, Pakistan, claims in a feasibility study conducted in 2006, for Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas line project.

Interview with Rafael Ramírez, Minister of Energy and Petroleum, Pdvsa CEO

There is indeed operational emergency and the board of directors declared it. If we do not speed up the bidding processes, production plans are at risk. This means chaos.

We're all big energy wasters, says Lunn

As energy ministers from the U.S., Mexico and Canada met in Victoria yesterday to sign an agreement to co-operate on energy science and technology, Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn pointed at private homes as pools of energy waste.

Appliances such as microwaves and televisions, left on 24 hours a day, are one of Canada's largest untapped sources of energy, Lunn said.

Energy divides House Democrats

The masters of the House have been wrestling among themselves over what to include in an energy bill, with large blocs of Democrats at odds over issues such as fuel mileage standards, oil and gas drilling and tax provisions targeting the energy companies.

One cable collapses, plunging Barcelona into total darkness

The collapse of a single power cable has brought chaos to Barcelona, with thousands of residents in one of Europe's most sophisticated cities struggling without power for a second day yesterday.

Spain's second city which is famed for its stylish urban efficiency, scrambled for candles, emergency generators and manual typewriters, while the electricity company, Fecsa-Endesa, warned that supply might not be fully restored "for days or weeks".

Soaring Prices for Salvaged Metals Spark a Wave of Property Crimes

On several occasions this month, thieves dug up hundreds of feet of underground copper cable used to illuminate ball fields in Anne Arundel County, forcing the organizers of a youth baseball tournament to reschedule a half-dozen games. "We got hit three times in eight days," said Ray Fox, president of the Linthicum Ferndale Youth Athletic Association.

Theft sparks Nigeria kerosene shortage, tanker jam

Constant theft of kerosene from a pipeline near Nigeria's largest city Lagos has caused a shortage across the country and long tanker queues offshore, the head of the national oil company said on Tuesday.

Thieves regularly bore into the fuel pipeline near the country's main import terminal at Atlas Cove, siphoning fuel into jerry cans for sale on a thriving black market.

ConocoPhillips Profit Plunges on Exit From Venezuela

ConocoPhillips, the third-largest U.S. oil producer, said second-quarter profit tumbled 94 percent after Hugo Chavez's government seized the company's assets in Venezuela.

Fed's Poole says energy costs not hurting US economy

Oil prices may be rising as fast as they did in the 1970s, but energy in the United States remains relatively inexpensive and is not damaging the US economy, St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President William Poole said Tuesday evening.

The Upside of Down, by Thomas Homer-Dixon

The Upside of Down isn't an environmental book, exactly, though it does deal with environmental and energy issues. While it shares some themes with more explicitly environmental books (like Jared Diamond's Collapse), the core of the book is more political and sociological. Homer-Dixon is asking why societies collapse - what are the pressures our society faces today, and what, if any, are the positive results from the kind of collapse he's talking about?

Color it green

A recent report from the United Nations predicts that as much as one-quarter of the world's electricity could come from renewable sources by 2030.

The U.N. noted that more than $100 billion has been invested worldwide into wind, solar and biofuels in 2006 -- nearly double what was spent in the preceding year. While energy from renewable sources accounts for only 2 percent of the world's total, the U.N. found that nearly 20 percent of all power plants under construction are in this sector.

Going nuclear

The industry is gearing up to build its first new plants in decades. But are we comfortable with that? A road trip into America's nuclear future.

Russia delays Iran nuclear plant to 2008

Russia has no chance of finishing Iran's first nuclear power station before autumn 2008, a year behind schedule, a Russian subcontractor helping to build the plant told RIA news agency on Wednesday. Russia has used the Bushehr nuclear plant as a lever in relations with Tehran which chilled this year after a row over missed payments for building the plant in southwest Iran.

The Hidden Agenda behind the Bush Administration's Bio-Fuel Plan

In the mid-1970’s Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, a protégé of the Rockefeller family and of its institutions stated, "Control the oil and you control entire nations; control the food and you control the people." The same cast of characters who brought the world the Iraq war, the global scramble to control oil, who brought us patented genetically manipulated seeds and now Terminator suicide seeds, and who cry about the "problem of world over-population," are now backing conversion of global grain production to burn as fuel at a time of declining global grain reserves.

Saudi Arabia 'to keep dollar peg until 2010'

Saudi Arabia will ride out the latest spell of dollar weakness and maintain the riyal's exchange rate against the US currency at least until 2010, Jadwa Investment said in a research note.

...Markets have been betting delays to a regional monetary union project and the dollar's decline to record lows against the euro this month would tempt some Gulf states to change dollar-pegged exchange rates, especially after Kuwait broke ranks and adopted a currency basket in May.

Ed Koch: Is There a Viable Solution to Our OPEC Dilemma?

Every presidential candidate, Republican or Democrat, should now be asked - "If you become President, will you direct the Department of Justice to sue OPEC?"

Japan crude imports to rise on extra demand

Japan's crude oil demand is expected to rise on year in August as refiners are likely to step up imports to meet extra demand from utilities for sweet crude and low-sulfur C-fuel oil after Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501.TO) shut its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant last week following a strong earthquake.

Oil firms find reserves elusive

This decade's high crude prices mean there's plenty of incentive for Daniel O'Byrne, chief operating officer of Calgary-based Provident Energy Trust, to keep finding oil and gas for his company to produce. But he faces a problem - there's less and less reserves to locate, and the costs of developing them haven't stopped going up.

The third trillion barrels of oil: the three steps to finding them

Today the mind-set of assumed surplus appears to be changing rapidly. People (and governments in particular) are increasingly concerned with where the next barrel is coming from. The prevailing mind set is becoming one of anxiety and insecurity. And not just about the quantity of supply – but who controls it. Concern about climate change adds to our fears. Energy has risen to the very top of political agendas around the world, and it's likely to stay there for the foreseeable future. That is the context in which we are looking for the third trillion.

So where do we look for the third trillion?

Preparing for tougher times

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka is reshuffling senior officials, at the same time as his energy minister is in Moscow for talks over an unpaid US$500m gas debt. The two issues are related, for cheap energy and a strong “power vertical” have been the bedrock of Mr Lukashenka’s rule. With the era of cheap Russian energy coming to a close this year, it is all the more important for Mr Lukashenka to be sure he has a firm political grip on the country.

What to Say to Those Who Think Nuclear Power Will Save Us

As the energy crisis heats up, you may need a refresher on the evidence against nukes.

The Western Governor's Association Energy Efficient Buildings Workshop

Energy Efficiency can and will do more to meet the challenges of Global Warming, Peak Oil, Environmental Degradation, and Energy Security than any other form of Alternative Energy.

More of NASA's James Hansen on Old King Coal

One other reality, albeit not physics, must be recognized: we can not (successfully) demand that countries such as Saudi Arabia and Russia not mine and sell their oil. And it hardly matters how fast they mine it. We can conserve energy and oil to beat the band, but the readily available oil is still going to be mined in coming decades, not 500 years from now. So, there is just one way we can keep CO2 within, or at least within hailing distance of, the dangerous limit. Indeed, it is a sensible, doable proposition: we must agree to use coal only in (truly) clean-coal power plants at which the CO2 is captured and sequestered. By phasing out existing old-fashioned dirty coal plants over the next few decades, we can keep CO2 below 450 ppm

Petrologistics: OPEC oil output to rise in July

OPEC oil output is expected to rise this month due to higher supply from members including Nigeria, Iraq and Angola, a consultant said on Wednesday.

OPEC's 10 members subject to output limits, all except Iraq and Angola, are expected to pump 26.9 million bpd, up from 26.8 million bpd in June, said Conrad Gerber, head of Petrologistics, which tracks tanker shipments.

The estimate, while showing rising supply in some OPEC countries, indicates top world exporter Saudi Arabia is keeping a cap on output in spite of a jump in oil prices towards a record high above $78 a barrel.

Iran, Analysts Dampen Hints of Imminent OPEC Move

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries doesn't yet see any indication of heightened demand for its oil, a top Iranian oil official said Tuesday, with other officials and analysts pouring cold water on the prospect of an impending change in the producer group's current "do-nothing" policy.

United States Oil Reserves: Four Scenarios

Having evaluated current data on reserves, consumption and production of oil in the United States, I have compiled four charts which illustrate various scenarios of what might occur over the next ten to twenty years. The data sources for this brief study are the United States Department of Energy and the CIA World Factbook. *All chart numbers reflect billions of barrels.

Pemex, BP Agree to Collaborate on Technology

Mexican state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos said Tuesday that it signed three technology-sharing agreements with the U.K.'s BP PLC (BP), including one for deepwater exploration.

The five-year agreements, which are technical in nature and don't involve funding, also include a general collaboration accord and studying the potential of injecting air instead of nitrogen in fractured deposits to improve extraction.

Oil firms get U.S. letters in bribery probe: report

Eleven oil and oil-services companies have received letters from the U.S. government seeking information in a probe into suspected bribery of customs agents in Nigeria and elsewhere, according to a Dow Jones report on the Wall Street Journal's Web site on Tuesday.

Toyota plug-in hybrid to hit the roads

Toyota Motor Corp. said Wednesday that it had taken a step closer to launching its plug-in hybrid vehicle, which has become the first of its kind to get a roadworthiness certificate in Japan.

The Fragile State of Oil

For the last 147 years, ever since Edwin Drake drilled his first well in Pennsylvania, we've enjoyed cheap and easy-to-get oil. Unfortunately, those days have come to an end.

When will the dam break?

Oil Junkies for Jesus vs the Oil Crisis

US involvement in Iraq is complicated by weird theology. Fundamentalist Christians insist upon an unconditional pro-Israeli policy no matter what! Israel is God's chosen nation. To oppose Israel, they say, is to damn our nation to hell. Another complication is our nation's symbiotic relationship with oil producing "infidels". GOP faithful believe that middle east oil is ours to plunder. Oil Junkies for Jesus openly boast of stealing Iraqi oil. For them, waging war for oil is not a war crime, it's a crusade, it's not an atrocity its a commandment. SUV's are not abominable energy hogs, they are God's own chariot. While we fear the mother of all energy crunches, Hubbert's Peak, oil junkies for Jesus look forward to just flying away from it all.

Are Britain's Floods Linked to Global Warming?

Though Britain is known for its typically rainy climate, the torrential downpours of the past month have been anything but typical. The relentless rains have brought central Britain the worst floods it's seen in half a century, and some wonder whether global warming might be to blame.

Study: Rising temperatures pose danger

Rising temperatures in eastern Canada are making it more dangerous for the native Inuit population in the province of Quebec to travel and hunt by snowmobile, and a new study recommends that they return to using the traditional dogsled.

Drip, drip of global warming spells change in northern Russia

It is summer in this reindeer-herding village in northern Russia and with not an iceberg in sight, residents are acquiring a taste for bathing in the local river.

"We used to have ice on the river all year round. The warming process is speeding up," said the worried head of the state-controlled reindeer company at Kanchalan, Arkady Makhushkin.

'Dead Dollar Bounce...Tumbling Dollar Good For US Economy.'


'And of course, one of the new rationales to justify the dollar trend of late is that a tumbling dollar is "really very good" for the US economy. Yeah, sure it is! Can you imagine how much better off the average US citizen would be if the dollar fell to say 40 on the US$ index? Heck, in a world where Mr US Consumer imports more goods than he ever did in the past, imagine if his global purchasing power was cut in half. That would be just dandy wouldn't it! Where do they come up with this nonsense?

Stocks got whacked on Tuesday as the US dollar index pierced the 80 level, as you can see in the first chart. SPU is now testing its uptrend line going back to mid February. Maybe Mr Market isn't as sanguine on a banana republic-like paper as some economists' seem to be.

There comes a point, in a currency crisis, when a country can face a "triple-whammy" threat. That's defined as a run on all asset classes - currency, stocks and bonds. That's not a pretty picture. We're not implying we are anywhere near there yet - or that we will get there. We are only making the point that the currency is not simply an input item in some econometric model.

A currency is ultimately a reflection of confidence in a country's prospects and status in the world financial system, especially in the so-called "free-floating" world. If a falling currency is a magic bullet for improving one's financial picture, then Zimbabwe should soon leap to its rightful place among the world's global economic elite.'


Dude, you can't compare the US to zimbabwe c'mon. And yes a weaker dollar is better for the US manufacturing sector. A weaker dollar forces Americans to buy less stuff from overseas therefore reducing the trade deficit as well.

TAD, I am not comparing anything. If you had read the link you would see that everything in my post is quoted from Jack Crooks site. Perhaps you saw the recent experiment where a lady attempted to feed and clothe her family with goods made 'not in China'...she found out that it couldnt be done. So where are Americans to find stuff that is not from overseas? Perhaps Americans can starve and shiver while manufacturing in the US restarts?
BTW, I am not a dude or dudette. Thanks.

As for clothing, feeding, etc. without products made in China - not that hard in Germany, even if you throw in that everything has to be made within some arbitrary boundary - 100 miles, 500 miles, etc. And most of what you will be purchasing as food can be organic - no problem at all, as long as you don't want things like bananas or out of season produce.

It will, however, cost a fair bit.

Expat, ...snip...'Not that hard in Germany'?...snip...
Well, that is just fine. Americans can stop buying products made in China and purchase even more expensive items made in Germany? Perhaps you didnt read the original post? The topic is the falling dollar, not just against Chinese currency but aginst the Euro as well.

River, you make a good point. Try and buy American made clothing and see what you come up with (socks, sweats, and maybe some specialty items like bicycle clothing). Same goes for a lot of hardware, tools, household items. Even food (China owns 80% of the vitamin C market, for instance).

What some fail to see is that once a "skill set" is lost through job-outsourcing, it is that much harder to re-establish an industry. Some will no doubt try and point out that most manufacturing jobs these days don't require a big skill-set. To that I say: When was the last time you saw a job posting that said "No experience required?" Even relatively low-skilled workers have to have some familiarity with computers and machinery. Then, you've got your higher skilled workers -- machinists, woodworkers, etc. Tell me that you can teach those skills to someone in 30 days.

Nope. America is currently (and seemingly gleefully) hanging itself by the throat. When all is said and done, our entire economy will consist of people delivering pizzas to one another -- on bicycles, of course.

When all is said and done, our entire economy will consist of people delivering pizzas to one another -- on bicycles, of course.

I've got to disagree with this. I believe that as outsourcing and importing become less economical we will see skill sets in the US change to accomodate the needs (needs) of the population here in the US.

I believe we're going to see manufacturing, salvage, textiles, food production, etc come back to some degree, and hopefully soon while there are still folks around who can teach these things to the younger generation.

People won't be employed in the service industry much longer.

Tom A-B

"When all is said and done, our entire economy will consist of people delivering pizzas to one another -- on bicycles, of course."

Is that a step up or down from selling ourselves houses with borrowed Chinese Money, which is the current economic model?

Salvage for sure. That will be a big one. I don't know if the woman who tried to avoid buying goods made in China thought about secondhand and thrift stores...If I need anything that is where I go first. However, once imported goods become harder to get, or people can't afford them, secondhand shopping will likely become more expensive or dry up altogether. How about salvage from landfills? Dumpster diving? AG

That's certainly where I see the future going. I plan to be in a business that relies on resurrecting old stuff in new forms when the economy changes.

For example, tools made from spring steel found on old vehicles. Metalworking will be a crucial skill, as will woodworking (tools usually have handles). As I've said before, the downslope doesn't have to be gloom and doom. I think this kind of work, while unprofitable now, could be enjoyable and lucrative in the post-peak era.

Tom A-B

I agree. I think a solar powered forge would be ideal. One idea I saw for this was using old TV satellite dishes (the large ones) and coating it with reflective mylar. Here in Colorado where the sun is intense anyway this would be a great tool to help recycle and reform a lot of discarded materials. I could even imagine such a setup to melt down polyethylene and PETG bottles and reform into other shapes and building materials.

i think your mistaken. mythbusters made what you call a solar forge and it was barely able to light wood on fire, due to the way the parabola is shaped the hottest spot in it would be too close to the object to allow more then one to focus on the same spot without one shading the other from the sun.
leaving this alone it still would not generate enough heat for long enough to even soften iron let alone steel for blacksmithing. it /might/ be enough to soften decorative metals such as silver and gold.

I didn't see this episode and I can't tell from your description, but I don't think it sounds like they built it correctly. Putting mylar inside a dish in its original shape, which is what it sounds like they did from your description is not the way they are built.

You don't need a dish to do this, a square box would work I hear.

The parabola is made by use of a suction pump. The mylar is stretched across the frame and a seal is made. A small suction pump is used to draw the mylar back into the frame. You have to work out distances etc. But this is supposed to make a small point for a tiny hot beam. I found a website in Africa that has the design and comments by a builder who gives away the idea and plans.

Sounds like myth busters didn't get the full scoop,.. so to speak/

How did they build their unit.

"you can't make a foul ball fair by moving the foul line" Roger Maris.

I had read about the mylar vacuum parabola and the satellite dish on another blog/energy site. I confess that I didn't checked it out or actually think of the power density issue.
Many ideas to tinker with once we have more time on our hands. Old fashioned charcoal forges should work fine too.

To carbonize the steel you still want to add carbon to the mix. For plastic you don't need too much, but how useful is plastic if it breaks quickly?

Also to get a solar powered forge you would probably need a Fresnel lens 100mx100m (you would end up being able to focus ~2,000,000W, or 2 MW of heat flux onto 1 sq m at high noon.) excluding heat losses and transmission losses through the lens.

A projection-tv-sized Fresnel lens will melt a penny, according to unofficial testing in the parking lot at Science Surplus.

Melting points (deg C):

zinc 419.5
aluminum 660.3
silver 961.7
gold 1064.1
copper 1084.6
steel ~1370

I've only seen a few Mythbusters and haven't been impressed. A 8.5 x 11 in. Fresnel lens will cause wood to burst into flame with an audible (if tiny) pop.

If the forge isn't hot enough, use multiple lenses and mirrors. Be sure to check out Random Destructive Acts via Focussed Solar Radiation.

Probably still cheaper to ship the spring steel to China for rework on an updated clipper ship. Like laundry back in the gold rush days.

Or better yet, exporting the springs to pay off your indenture/mortgage.

Seriously, I think economies of scale will still be in play. Large factories of unskilled labor will work with supervision and lots of jigs. As always, skilled craftsmen doing one-offs will be supplanted by semi-skilled foremen, jigs, and hordes of unskilled workers. Capital always wins.

It is certainly possible to train Americans to do these jobs in about as much time as it took 50 years ago.

The real reason for this is that the companies don't want to bother and when they can't get "qualified candidates" this is the excuse used to shut down the factory and send it to China, a decision made ahead of time.

In China the people aren't born with magic machining skills either---they learn them on the job, like always.

The point being that they're given an entry-level job to learn them on.

The other point is that the 0.1% class in the USA has its future geared much more strongly with increasing prosperity in China over increasing or maintaining prosperity in the USA.

There is no actual shortage of labor and with a little bit of traning and education there could be plenty of people in the USA able to do just about any job. But not at 20 cents an hour.

MB: Haven't you heard? All problems will be solved when the average American wage is 20 cents an hour. Just ask the AntiDoomer (or any MSM mouthpiece). The important thing is to keep major banks loaning millions of dollars (unsecured) to their cronies in the "hedge" fund biz to play with (usually very poorly). Then they can be bailed out by the same "government" that figures 20 cents an hour is a fair wage.

i'll take it in stride, but if inflation is above the rate of wage growth, soon we will be back at 20c/hr real wages.

There is a thing happening here in America that is like a tumbling house of cards in motion. We are seeing it in slow motion and making cutting remarks about which card will fall and land flat on the table next.

I work with people who are more than happy to get a low paying Hamburger joint job, because yesterday they were sleeping under a bridge and getting handouts for food everyday.

I have two such people living in my house right now, in my room. They fell through the cracks of our Glorious Service Economy. Chris, got hit by a drunk driver and is still trying to figure out if he will be able to keep his legs. If he had had insurance at the time of the accident and could have stayed in a hospital or nursing home for 4 to 6 months, his legs would have healed just fine and he'd be back on the roofs laying tiles. But the Drunk was un-insured and he had not worked at a job long enough to get insurance, even though he was making over 100 dollars a day at the job.

We are basically creating some of our own problems.

One of my platforms as someone asked a while back, is a form of socailized medicine. We need it, we should be able to have it, and we are the only country in the G-8 that doesn't. Freedoms should not mean free to die like a dog in the street. We have better PET laws than we have human laws in some places.

The problem is I don't see enough changes taking place in the next 10 years.

I see companies failing and then our economy failing to a point where we literally have demand destruction and don't need 20 million barrels a day anymore.

When will the credit fall out really hit, a Long time before the Next president takes office, but maybe things will hang on for just a while longer and more people will be in the soup lines at the StewPot on 9th and Cumberland in Little Rock Next year. I'll be the guy with the big wooden walking stick with sand colored yarn attached to it, Just ask for Charles, folks know me.

sorry to hear your malody, hope all turns out well!

When I first came to America I was shocked by how uncaring the society was... the homelessness situation was really shocking... seeing all the poor and disabled turfed out to beg with humiliating signs of how god blesses those that donate them some spare change... disgusting...

i still think that the society functions in a permanent state of denial about so much (including for instance its foundation of institutionalised genocide) but the homelessness problem just lays bare the myth of a booming economy in which a rising tide lifts all boats... unless in that metaphor some people are not so much boats as limpets
When no-one around you understands
start your own revolution
and cut out the middle man

But this is getting pretty close to what we really need to be talking about. If the present levels of consumption are unsustainable, and if sustainability can only be achieved at a much lower level of consumption, then per-capita average income (and thus per-capita average wages) will also need to be at a small fraction of the present levels. We probably really will need to have some chunk of our workforce working for $0.20 (in 2007 dollars) per hour, and a lot of the rest of us will have to get by for not all that much more.

The 2006 per-capita income in Costa Rica was $4980, and to my way of thinking that is about as good of an endgame target that we can dare hope for. If we end up that well off two decades from now, we'll have really dodged a bullet.

That $4980 works out to slightly under $2.40/hour, given a 40 hour work week; at what might become a more realistic 60 hour work week, we are talking about an AVERAGE hourly wage of a little under $1.60. (Looking at it in terms of purchasing power parity looks a litte better: $10,770 per capita, or $5.18/hr @ 40 h/wk, $3.45 @ 60 h/wk. This compares with 2006 US $44260, 21.27/hr @ 40 hrs, 14.19 @ 60 hrs/wk.)

Will there be people working for as little as twenty cents per hour? You bet! There will obviously also be people working for more -- but not that many people (we can't all be "above average"!), and not all that much more.

This all raises a question: How do we restructure US society so that people can exist on these types of wages?

Obviously, even most people with above average income would not be able to drive anything like our existing automobile fleet on anything like a typical commute today; a very well off person might still be able to just manage it in something like a Prius, but that's about it. For almost everyone, it is going to have to be electrified commuter rail and/or biodiesel-fueld shuttle buses and/or NEVs and/or bike/trike and/or walking. In such a transport environment, people are obviously going to have to rearrange themselves so that their homes and workplaces are in closer proximity. Places (a.k.a. suburbs) located far away from ANY employers are going to have to decline and probably be largely abandoned; opportunities may be found in such places for building materials salvage and farmland reclamation. Population densities in those remaining areas located closer to employment opportunities will have to increase, through infill development, conversion of single family into multi-family housing, and sharing of housing by larger groups of related or unrelated people. People are going to have to get used to living in homes that are a lot darker and colder in the wintertime, and warmer in summer; they'll whine, but they'll live.

Food is going to have to take up a much higher percentage of that per-capita income. Under such circumstances, grass lawns will be something only the fortunate wealthy elite can afford to maintain. Most lawns will be come gardens, and community gardens will have to spring up on many a vacant lot. Beef is going to have to become a hugely expensive, rarely enjoyed luxury for most people, as diets typically shift farther down the food chain; most people will be subsisting on legumes, grains, vegies & fruits, with some dairy and very little meat (most of which will be poultry). Between the walking/bicycling, gardening, harder work, colder homes, and more expensive food, weight control will very likely become less of a problem. Nutritional deficiency and outright starvation will be an ever-present worry.

We are talking about a future where the average closet only holds a few clothes, and a person might be able to buy (or more likely, make by hand) a couple new pieces per year; these will have to be durable and functional, forget the frivolous fashion crap. Entertainment will have to become more localized and simple - perhaps a few folks sitting on the front porch with someone playing a guitar, perhaps listening to a hand-cranked radio, perhaps reading a book borrowed from the library. Life will have to get pretty simple and basic for most people.

This is not the end of the world. There are many places in the world where people are living good lives in just this way. There are other places where people wish and pray that they had it even this good. The truth of the matter is: it really is good enough for anyone, including us. We truly don't need all the excess CRAP that is causing us to burn through the earth's non-renewable resources like maniacs.

Th challenge: How to get from here to there, while avoiding a crash to zero (a.k.a. extinction)?

One answer is to simplify, de-accumulate, and powerdown our lifestyles now; start living as if this already was the norm. The more people that do this, the smaller the problem.

Another answer is to not just educate people about the problem of PO, but also to put before them a vision of the future like this.

Obviously there are a whole cluster of policies that must be implemented as well, many of which we have discussed.

WNC: I have spent some time in CR-those numbers don't tell the whole story. Compared to the USA, IMHO $30000 a year in CR is equivalent to $120000 a year in the USA. With health insurance, property taxes, house insurance, car insurance,increased food costs, and greatly increased heating and A/C expense, IMHO, people would literally die in the USA on $1.60 an hour. The important thing is to make sure they are taxed even if they are making $1.60 an hour.

I have spent some time in CR-those numbers don't tell the whole story. Compared to the USA, IMHO $30000 a year in CR is equivalent to $120000 a year in the USA.

Your $30K:$120K proportion pretty much matches up with the $10,770:$44260 PPP numbers I posted - a 1:4 ratio. As a reality check: Could a US economy (and US energy demand) that is 25% of its present size be sustained by reasonably potential US renewable energy resources? My gut level guess is, yes.

Of course, there is a problem with trying to make such comparisons between countries. Places are different. CR is tropical and has essentially a 365 day growing season; except on the southern edge, most of the US is looking at something like 150-250 days max. That makes a big difference on the amount of food that can be produced per capita and per acre. CR also gets more rainfall than most of the US. It is also a tiny, compact country, the US is huge and sprawls. Of course, much of the US has winters requiring heating, CR doesn't. On the other hand, the US also has some advantages over CR: greater diversity in the range of crops that can be grown, a larger internal market, huge investments in health care & higher education, etc. While our manufacturing industry has been gutted, there is enough human capital still out there that a restoration of our ability to make most of the essential stuff we really need might still be possible, making us potentially more self sufficient than CR.

Nevertheless, I think that there is value in thinking of CR as a rough model of the type of target US society we can aspire to as a realistic best case. There was an article by Francois Cellier posted on TOD a little over a month ago, plotting countries by level of socioeconomic development and ecological footprint.


Cuba came in as the only truly sustainable society; unfortunately, there is so much baggage associated with THAT example that we might as well disregard it. However, CR was a very close runner up; Uruguay was close behind, with Ecuador, Dom. Rep., Phillipines and Thailand not much further behind. Those are all more palatable models. CR especially has an unusually positive image; of the seven countries I just mentioned, I have no doubt that CR would get the first place vote of just about anyone.

Since CR generates relatively positive vibes, it commends itself as a good model to visualize as we try to think about the future pathways we might choose. In terms of broad economic measures like per capita income, I really do believe that we are going to have to be looking at the CR level as just about the best case level at which we can have any realistic hope of stopping the slide.

Of course there will be differences. Almost anywhere in the US (or any formerly constituent parts thereof), a greater percentage of per-capita income will have to be allocated to winter heating, and maybe to food and to transport as well. This just means that there are going to have to be some aspects of material life in the USA (or constituent parts) that are going to be at a lower level than what is commonly enjoyed in CR. The per-capita budget pies for CR and for the USA will be sliced differently, but we need to be thinking in terms of similarly-sized pies.

With health insurance, property taxes, house insurance, car insurance,increased food costs, and greatly increased heating and A/C expense, IMHO, people would literally die in the USA on $1.60 an hour.

As I indicated in my previous post, some things are going to have to go.

A/C? Forget it, get a fan and a porch or shade tree.

Heating? Get used to 55-60F max indoors in the wintertime. Stock up on sweaters and long-johns and down comforters now - they will be available then, but cost a big chunk of the household budget. Increased numbers of people living in each housing unit will help (body heat, you know).

Health insurance? We're going to have to re-do the way we do health care - maybe not to the way Cuba does it, but the present system will be unaffordable. Different states or other constitutent successor units of the USA will undoubtedly experiment with different models, but all of them are going to end up with lower cost - and probably lower quality -- health care. There will probably be an affordable system of basic care that is good enough for most people, and there will probably continue to be elite-level care for elite-level patients for elite-level $$$. Some non-elite people with chronic conditions might need to just tough it out and live with it, and it might be worse than that.

Car insurance? Good news! No car = no car insurance! Some people might want bicycle insurance, but a very good lock and chain might be the best insurance you can get.

House insurance? We won't be able to afford to insure folks living in flood zones or along hurricane coasts or on active fault lines. Subtract out those high-cost risks and most property owners will probably continue to find some type of property insurance affordable and essential.

Property taxes? These can't keep going up. In fact, the entire government "take" at all levels will have to decrease substantially. As it is at the local level that most of the really important services are provided, this implies only one thing: The US Federal government is totally unsustainable, unaffordable, and will be only a memory of history in such a downsized USA. Best case, perhaps some sort of interstate or interregional compact can sustain some sort of very loose continental free trade area and regional security alliance. You can just about draw a line though every single item in the US federal budget, though -- it can't figure into a US economy that is only 25% of the present size. There would still be room for some local property taxes, and maybe for a very small local consumption tax as well.

Food? As I indicated, this will be taking a larger slice of the personal budget pie. If food prices go up, people WILL change how they eat. If beef is unaffordable (which it will probably have to be, it is way too energy and land intensive), people will switch to chicken, then to beans. Also, people can just eat less; most of us should anyway. As I said, maintaining a lawn of grass will look absurd under such conditions, so the lawns will be dug up and the potatoes and other garden crops will go in. Very few people will be able grow 100% of their own food, but there will also be very few people that could not participate in growing SOME of their own food, and very few that will be able to afford to avoid doing so.

The CR - US comparison is apt in another way, ironically. Both economies are propped up by cheap foreign labor, Nicaraguan in CR and Mexican (and other) in US. A colleague of mine is working on this, I don't have quantitative data on scale at hand.

Heating? Get used to 55-60F max indoors in the wintertime.

Bah. Piker. 45F. Ya sleep in a sleeping bag. Live like the Japanese sit-coms...where the joke is how the family is gathered around the heated table and one of persons really needs to go to the bathroom but doesn't want to leave the heated table.

No joke, that kills old people here in Japan all the time.

Apparently its a huge strain on the old ticker to leave your heated table (kotatsu) and walk across the house to a freezing cold bathroom.

But its not all bad. We do have heated toilet seats :-)

This all raises a question: How do we restructure US society so that people can exist on these types of wages?

The only way that we can significantly reduce wages in the US is to have all internal and external debt wiped away.

That will be right after the pigs start flying out of my butt.

Hyperinflation can and probably will wipe out all debts.

Those birds flying out of your bottom are pigeons, aka flying pigs.

As surely as water tends to flow down hill, the dollar will tend to lose value in the future. Look at the history of the Mexican peso over the past sixty years, and then I think we'll have some notion of the future of the dollar.

(Historical note: For centuries the Mexican peso and the U.S. dollar were exactly equal, both based on the same weight of silver in a dollar and a peso--because each were derived from the same original Thaler that evolved into the Spanish "piece of eight," i.e. eight bits. I would not be surprised to see the Mexican peso again worth exactly the same as a U.S. dollar.)

I would not be surprised to see the Mexican peso again worth exactly the same as a U.S. dollar.

If they coin their pesos in more pure silver as they once did, and there is some consideration to try and do that, it would then be worth a lot more than our toilet paper of a dollar.

Don, that only works if your wages rise with inflation. What happens if wages do not rise with inflation? In other words, what happens if one section of society is being indexed for inflation (having sufficient dollars to buy the same goods regardless of increasing price) while other sections of society do not get increased dollars yet are expected to perform the same work while living on less and less?

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

Some wages will rise to keep up with inflation, but most will not. This is how real wages will be drastically reduced. See the classic, "The German Inflation of 1923."

Here are some incomes that I believe will not keep up with inflation:
1. Social Security benefits.
2. Medicare benefits.
3. Private pension benefits.
4. Government salaries of all kinds.
5. Retail wages.
6. The incomes of people in the discretionary sector, everybody from lawyers and psychologists right down to the bottom rungs of pizza delivery people and street prostitutes.

Here are some incomes that I think will keep up with inflation:
1. Chemical engineers.
2. Petroleum geologists.
3. Bicycle mechanics.
4. Skilled people in manufacturing, e.g. tool and die makers.
5. Sailing instructors;-)

I'll bet taxes keep up with inflation.

taxes tend to be a fixed percentage of income, it is unlikely that would increase strongly in a strongly inflationary period, as it would (probably) be political suicide to push through large tax increases during a time of financial hardship.
Unfortunately there are 2 other options - the government pays for 'stuff' with borrowed money, or the government stops doing 'stuff'. This is one of the problems with going bankrupt - all the options hurt, compared to maintaining the overspending of the past.

Inflation is a hidden tax.

Governments have essentially two different ways to raise money:
1. taxes
2. inflation

To a large extent, these two techniques are substitutes for one another. You want to reduce inflation, then raise taxes (which allows for a restrictive monetary policy). Or if you don't raise taxes, then just have the government "print" more money and run ever more humongous deficits, which is what creates inflation.

Note the great popularity of increasing and unexpected inflation among debtors. In the U.S., we have plenty of debtors--who vote. Creditors can and probably will be thrown to the wolves; too bad for savers.

My thoughts also. It's what we have seen so far-stagnant, or falling wages when job export considered, versus increasing commodity, healthcare and real estate prices. How does 10-20 an hour buy a 200K to 300K home?

>Hyperinflation can and probably will wipe out all debts.

A large percentage of US household debt is variable (ARMs, Credit cards, etc). As inflation picks up so will the interest rates on those debts. Hyper inflation is also bad for a nation dependant on energy imports used for its factories and transportation systems.

>I would not be surprised to see the Mexican peso again worth exactly the same as a U.S. dollar.)

They'll both likely meet at zero, since as the dollar declines and mexico energy exports disappear the value of the peso will also fall. There are a lot of manufacturing jobs in Mexico that produce goods sold in the US. Plus a lot of Mexican immigrants (illegal and legit) send money in USD back to family members still living in Mexico which help support local mexican commerce.

As depletion kicks into higher gears, Washington will become even more useless and states will begin to take action on their own. I think that the US federal gov't will lose power and probably serve more like the UK monarchy does today. I think we can already see some signs as states like California are taking action on issues that Washington ignores. Probably in the next couple of years will see more pull back from more states as the try to work out their own solutions to thier problems. Birth of the "Divided States of America". I doubt we'll see states officially announcing sucession from the union but an steady erosion of authority away from washington, and into state gov'ts. If states start issuing their own currency the US as a union ceases to exist.

The end of the War of Northern Aggression.


It is not commonly known (because it is never taught in school civics classes and obviously never mentioned by any elected or appointed federal government official), but the US Constitution does in fact include a perfectly legal provision for its own dissolution.

Under Article 5, two-thirds of the state legislatures can adopt resolutions for a Constitutional Convention, which must then be held - neither the Congress nor White House can legally block it. Said convention can submit directly to the states proposed amendments to the constitution, which become effective upon ratification of 75% of the states; again, Congress & the White House (& the Supremes, for that matter) are all totally out of the loop.

Furthermore, there is absolutely nothing which says that said amendment could not be structured in such a way as to effectively terminate the entire Constitution on a specified date.

There is even a precedent for this. The convention that wrote our present constitution was called for the purpose of amending the Articles of Confederation. That amendment process resulted in the effective termination of the Articles and their replacement with the present Constitution. Any good constitutional attorney should be able to argue that the "original intent" of Article 5 was to provide for that same scenario to be possible again.

As for that "War of Northern Agression", if the southern states had pursued this route FIRST, then very possibly they could have amended the Constitution to allow for their legal secession, or dissolved the Union altogether, without a shot ever being fired.

Hyperinflation probably is the most likely scenario to wipe out debts. It will probably most likely also play a leading role in the demise of the US Federal Government (which is the largest debtor in the world, after all). Of course, this also means that the debts that future Social Security and Medicare obligations represent will go away as well. Those of us at or approaching retirement age better take note: don't count on those programs continuing very long, and you better inflation-proof your other assets and income sources.

Don't worry about the elites -- they can and will move their money out of US$ denominated assets long before you and I do, so don't think they will be desperate to continue to prop up the currency and the federal gov't. Once the USA is in a permanent decline mode then it ceases to become a "cow" to be milked and becomes a "dog" to be sold out.

At a certain point, the soldiers and sailors and airmen and bureaucrats will just get tired of being "paid" in worthless money, and will walk away to find work that actually does pay. At a certain point, the state governments will come to the conclusion that the federal government has become irrelevant and too expensive to bother to maintain, and you will be amazed at how quickly the whole thing can actually be shut down.

"This all raises a question: How do we restructure US society so that people can exist on these types of wages?

The only way that we can significantly reduce wages in the US is to have all internal and external debt wiped away."

You're thinking of money and wealth as the same thing. You're right that the debt could be a problem depending on how forcefully the creditors try to collect, but it could also be inflated away.

What America needs to do to deal with lowering wages is exactly the same thing America needs to do to deal with declining energy (because energy is wealth). This country needs an infrastructure that can function on less energy. People will conserve energy in their homes on an individual basis when price forces them to, but when transportation of goods can no longer be accomplished because this country is only accessible by automobiles and trucks, we may have some bigger problems than wearing a sweater in the winter. I can be optimistic looking at Alanfrombigeasy's rail propasals that it can be done, but also pessimistic about whether it will.

The huge problem is investment capital. We need to make huge investments in electrified rail passenger and freight transport, and we need to make huge investments in renewable energy, not to mention huge investments to enhance recovery from existing fossil fuel resources plus explore and develop unconventional ones. If the US economy soon stagnates and then goes into steep irreversible decline, where is that investment capital going to come from?

where is that investment capital going to come from ?

In extremis, scrap off the gold plate (1% for Art in Transit is my favorite "economy"), big bucks can be saved by using fewer consultants (however, consultants, like lawyers, are a renewable resource :-)

Adopt French standards and practices. They build light rail to a high aesthetic standard for 20 to 25 million euros/km.

In the USA, every system designs their own rolling stock, just as every US nuke plant is unique. The French build standardized nukes and trams.

The FTA process is designed to slow down building Urban Rail (as a means of rationing). An easy 50% increase in prices to follow the federal process.

The US GNP circa 1910 was about 3% of today's GNP (inflation adjusted). Coal was dug by hand and hauled out by mules, as were tunnels. Yet the US built subways in their largest cities and streetcars in 500 cities and towns (and yes, most were in built up areas).

A small fraction of the economy (however configured) can build a LOT of Urban Rail and electrify & enlarge our freight railroads !

Best Hopes,


Well, there will be good opportunities for older folks that thought they were going to retire and count on Social Security & Medicare. When those benefits get cut back (or, more likely, eroded by fraudulent inflation indexing), lots of retired folks are going to need to find work to supplement their incomes. Fortunately, there will be demand for older people who know how to do things, at least to assist with the initial set-up and workforce training as essential manufacturing relocates to the US. As these types of jobs will probably only need to be part-time and short-term, they will actually work out pretty well for the older set.

Fortunately, there will be demand for older people who know how to do things, at least to assist with the initial set-up and workforce training as essential manufacturing relocates to the US.

Maybe this is why I've seen so many oldsters bagging groceries lately. Skilled profession that. Remember, don't but the bread on the bottom.

We're still in an offshoring mode. I wouldn't expect to even begin to see the first hints of what I describe until we are in a mode where manufacturing begins to be repatriated. We are probably a good 8-12 years away from that at a minimum.


Make mine with extra cheese, italian sausage and anchovies!

$2 surcharge on that OMB -- imported ingredients.

I see the recurrent snippiness here has yet to be nipped in the bud!

By my comprehension, expat was not contending your point, river. He was only offering a point of view about how it is in Germany PERIOD.


I was not being snippy to Expat...I simply did not understand what he was trying to say. I had no idea that he lived in Germany...I sent my crystal ball out for a repolishing. Thanks.

No - but just because the U.S. seems to have decided to step off a cliff doesn't mean the rest of the world has.

Nobody in the world believes in 'free trade' like Americans - but then, considering that America relies on playing the sucker while piling up the consumer goods, the rest of the world has a pretty hard time understanding the U.S.

Getting a haircut this morning, talking to the person doing the work, I wasn't able to really explain what is happening in the entire subprime/current account/budget deficit financial universe. She can't imagine that any normal human being wouldn't consider debt bad, and asked who is paying for the Iraq War - I told her it seems to be the Chinese and Japanese footing the bill for that - until they try to collect, of course, then we'll see who was really footing the bill. Oh, she was married to a Canadian, so it isn't as if she has no experience of North America.

What is striking is that you thought I was talking about imports - I'm talking about actually being able to meet the requirements of daily living with what is around you. That 'localize' idea is considered pretty ho-hum here.

One reason for the 'doomer porn' at times is that a fairly intelligent person, looking at America today, assumes that the entire world is equally unable to prepare for the future, or live in a way which has a future.

America is pretty much unique. The broader discussion of whether what we consider 'civilization' can survive peak oil is one thing, but my opinion is that America as it is currently understood won't. The hard question is how many non-Americans will it bring down first. I think it is fair to say if you are either Canadian or Mexican, your future is likely inextricably tied to America's.

Hmm, I dunno, Australia's current government are certainly devotees of the "free trade" ideal, scrapping import tariffs left right and centre - mostly to please the Americans, from what I gather.

And if the U.S. economy does step off a cliff, I'm not sure that the rest of the world would have much chance of hanging on to the cliff-top for long. For a start, China's economy seems to be very largely dependent on the spending power of U.S. consumers. Australia's is certainly dependent on both, although we did manage to weather the last U.S. recession (a mild one, admittedly) with no ill effects.

Europe I'm not so sure about.

>Nobody in the world believes in 'free trade' like Americans - but then, considering that America relies on playing the sucker while piling up the consumer goods, the rest of the world has a pretty hard time understanding the U.S.

I guess thats why the choose to dump there excess production on the US market and hold trillions in trade surpluses. Without free trade to the US for them to dump their goods and services on the US, they would all be happily employeed living off each others socialism.

Your view of free trade appears a bit odd... or am I misreading it - you are saying the US is the sucker in Free Trade? The whole free-trade scam is set up to give the US the ability to seize resources it no longer has in adequate abundance at home... by conning the world into accepting fiat currency for them... no?

Now, it's out of control and the blowback is a bitch, but the Free trade system has played to America's advantage for a long time at the expense of poorer nations. As a long term strategy it'll be doomed to failure due to us now being a nation that - as someone so elegantly put it upthread - sells each other houses for a living on money borrowed from China. Eventually not making anything and having no resources will leave the economy in tatters... but the short term was great for wealth accumulation - of course we allowed it all to be seized by a tiny minority at the top but that's a whole other story...

...or am I misreading what you were arguing?

...of course you are 100% right that this America will not survive... but gotta say, looking at the alternative ways of doing things around the world, objectively it's hard to hold on too sentimentally to the way things are done in the US today...
When no-one around you understands
start your own revolution
and cut out the middle man

Hi Expat,

Are you suggesting we all move to Germany? It continues to sound like a mythical utopia.

I know I probably sound like a dick, but for some reason my hackles go up every time I read a response about how Germany does it better than the US, and how the US it gonna fry while Germany gracefully floats above the struggles of the rest of the world.

Perhaps it's envy. At any rate, I don't intend to attack you for sharing your perspective from Germany. It just sounds too good to be true, as if there isn't anything Germany can't do.

Tom A-B

I don't know what Expat will say, of course, but I have to weigh in here.

The thing is, there is a strong, belligerent thread in American culture to resist doing what clearly MUST be done, until the very end of the eleventh hour, if at all. ('That's just what they're expecting us to do!' Lloyd Bridges- Airplane).. while Germany and some other places seem to have a constitution that says 'Let's bite the bullet and do what must be done ahead of time'. I had dinner with a friend visiting from Germany last year sometime, and he said that the adjustment when East/West Germany reunited had been really tough on jobs, taxes and the economy in general, but that they were plugging through. In so many ways, I think we fix the 'wheel squeaks' by just turning up the radio and partying harder. "La, la, la, la!"

They've got their problems, but we'd be smart to see what they do right and take a hint from it, if we weren't so touchy about taking that 'Global Test' and being shown up by 'old Europe'.. again and again..

Bob Fiske

Jokuhl, as Churchill said 'We can count on the Americans to do the right thing...after they have tried everything else.'
Some of the skills that America has lost will be very difficult to replace...like die making, machinists that make precision machinery, shipbuilding, heavy equipment manufacture, textile manufacture, etc. We are also on the verge of losing our auto industry. Americans have imported a lot of the savings from the rest of the world...yes, some people in the world still save money. Now Uncle Sam is going to repay those savings with deflated dollars.

There is an interesting option for the Chinese. They could buy up lots of American houses at depressed prices with depreciated dollars and move a lot of their population into America. That way China could not only own the US on paper but they could sway American politics by their sheer numbers. I have not heard this idea elsewhere...probably for good reason.(humor)

Kidding me? You think US immigration is just going let 10 million chinese in the country? Jesus H.

Well, presumably they would at least pay property taxes, unlike the 20 million illegal mexicans that work under the table or with false documentation. LOL.

I thought that was Robert Stack.

You might be right. I guess I picked the wrong week to quit Amphetamines..


yeah - gotta say you are right on this

i lived a few years in Germany, and have extended family there... they just seem to act like grown ups in a way most Western nations seem to have forgotten how to do (many Americans seem to grow up till they are about 15 then freeze emotionally and psychologically forever)
When no-one around you understands
start your own revolution
and cut out the middle man

Could it possibly be that "they act like grown ups" because they have more recently been humbled and have collectively been through very hard times? The USA has not had a real hard downturn for almost a century. We are a young and cocky nation, and I am afraid we are about to get our comeuppance.

Switzerland has not been humbled in at least two centuries, yet they voted in 1998 a MASSIVE improvement to their rail system. Not finished till 2020 (quite a few of the voters would be dead by then).

Several goals, but #1 is to transfer freight from trucks to electric rail.

31 billion Swiss francs; adjust for currency and population and it would be like the USA voting $1 trillion !

The Swiss are rich, conservative and think long term.

Best Hopes for Adults,


We don't need to be humbled, we are bound to this state because of our low weight, to say the least, in the leading of the world's affair...

Well, if it makes you feel better, the German economy is intricately tied into manufacturing autombiles, and if and when that goes smash, millions and millions of Germans will lose their jobs. There are two major fears in Germany in terms of society - joblessness and inflation. In the case of the auto industry crashing, you'd likely get both.

The broader point, as someone above phrased it, Germans don't seem eager to hang themselves by the throat - they aren't ignoring the future while living for the present alone. More to the point, they aren't focusing exclusively on the present as a response to avoid looking at the future.


Well said, and thanks for the dash of reality you included about the German auto industry. I'm glad to know you're not a blind optimist.

One of the frustrations of being a US citizen is that no one here wants to face the music, or even acknowledge the music.

The only satisfaction I get with this whole turn of events is that my cynicism about our inaction is proven correct time and time again. Not so satisfying, considering mine is one of the throats getting hanged.

Tom A-B

In Germany, and in lots of Europe (though sadly less in my native UK which is becoming more like America every day) there is the simple fact that you can have the sort of conversation with everyday people about this kind of thing, and the kind of life changes that would be necessary without risking the visceral reaction you get when bringing it up with most Americans.

Most people here seem just leap up and scream and rant when confronted with the idea they have to fundamentally change their consumption habits. Europeans seem to have internalized this conclusion long ago, and though reluctantly they are starting to do more and more to fix the problem (though probably not enough).
When no-one around you understands
start your own revolution
and cut out the middle man

Hi tanderson,

About your hackles going up every time you hear how Germany or, I guess any other country, is better than the US. Don't you think that sounds like a knee jerk reaction. Isn't that what got us into Iraq? Hackles going up is a defense mechanism. It means you've been threatened in some way and you're ready to pounce. Just because our president behaves like a monkey, we don't all have to.
I'm an American BTW and I'm assuming you are too. I'm deeply embarrassed by the way my fellow citizen's hackles go up whenever they're shown up or offended or threatened. America - the land of liberty and independance and of the short sighted, viceral, knee-jerk response to everything we don't like. We all think we're John Wayne. These tendencies have been codified as memes in our brains and it's killing us.

Maybe my tagline should be "America is Dying"


Hi igdonp,

I hear what you're saying about knee-jerk reactions. I certainly don't aim to get into any conflicts. But I think the world, including expat, tends to generalize everyone in the US as a bunch of "Bubbas" (you know, idiots) who will keep the pedal to the metal until we all crash into the brick wall.

I don't particularly appreciate that generalization. I am certainly frustrated that more Americans than not don't care to think critically about the way this country operates. I do believe we're going to experience rough times, probably worse than what happens in Germany in the next 20 years, but I don't believe every American is going to fall down crying, banging fists on the ground, complaining about how the SUV doesn't go anymore.

Some of us, including me, are going to innovate and come up with better ways of doing things in the new era. Unless I get thrown into the Halliburton labor camp first.

As for your tagline, America probably is dying, but that doesn't mean I have to die with it. It's turned into a shitty republic anyway, but what's to say my Great Lakes Region won't become a continental powerhouse?

You know what I'm saying?

Tom A-B

Sure, I know what you're saying, and I guess I overly generalized Americans too. But you've gotta do that. You can't say 'everybody but you, you and you'. We all have to live with generalizations. A person can stand up and say 'I'm not like that' without challenging the generalization. You and I have to be painted with the same brush as the rest of America.
I think the rest of the world still gives americans a lot of credit in general, (maybe more than we deserve), and realizes that we're not all alike. And even the extremists distinguish between the American people and our government, although I don't think it's sincere.
However, its the rule that matters more than the exception.


Exactly - it is trivial to the point of not being said that when you talk about a group that NOT EVERYONE in the group is exactly at the median point. So we tend not to say it.

With Americans of course there is a broad range... but what matters is what on the whole the group actions are resulting in...

...for decades one of the big distinctions between Americans (on the whole) and furriners was that most outside of America clearly distinguished between American people and the actions of its government - whereas most Americans seemed to equate the too and villify those from nations that were our enemies (e.g. Russians during the cold war)... again broad brushstrokes... (and not worth arguing this particular line that heavily if you disagree - the second half is just an observation based on my experience)

However what I AM seeing recently is actually that people around the world are losing patience with the American people and starting to say - well you know what, if they really disagree with the government that much they'd stop its actions which have been so consistently negative in XYZ area (whatever is being discussed at time) for so very long... and they have a point... we cannot pitch ourselves as the freest country with the best system of government - best democracy in world blah blah blah - and then expect people to give us a pass if that government acts like an ass... people are starting more and more to equate ALL Americans with the group as a whole... it's a slow process, but it's real... and it's dangerous
When no-one around you understands
start your own revolution
and cut out the middle man

You can find most of the things you want that are Made in the USA if you take the time to look - And are willing to pay a fair price for quality labor and materials.



You just won't find many of the Made in the USA products at the Big Box cheap (and inexpensive) products stores. {They are more like foam BB's than Silver BB's?}

they are not made in the us. they are made in a us own territory under the exact same conditions as china. us company's have been using this loophole for years so they can pay china like costs for making them yet charge people the extra premium that is on top of the cost on anything with the 'made in America' tag has on it.

I consider my 5 years in the US Navy as being patriotic.

I consider buying a poorly made car manufactured by a company that doesn't give a damn about the environment or anything else as being stupid.

Those sites would have you believe that you can more patriotic if you bought one of those behemoth F-450 SuperPenis Editions?

My solar panels and my TV are both Sharps, and they're fantastic! My Honorable Discharge is in a frame Made in China. Target, three bucks!

Just what manufacturing sector are you referring to? Mcmansions? SUV's? MTV and Hollywood celebrities? When the only viable parts of our country's economy consist of disenfranchised/alienated/increasingly hard pressed workers constantly repeating "Welcome to Wal-Mart" or "Would you like fries with that?", we got serious problems, indeed. Of course, if you run a hedge fund or are a CEO of a large corporation, you can just take your tanking dollar assets and buy into other currencies, so great worry there. But if you are a working stiff (like me, and most people I know) life can get really ugly, real quick.

Anti: Sure-you've got it all figured out. Explain to the class how a crumbling dollar reduces oil prices (a major and growing chunk of the trade deficit).

Of course it will reduce the oil price. But in Europe, not in USA. :D

So I think it's great!! :P

(No, I don't.)

Yesterday, I visited the UK Parliament for the first public meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil and Gas.


In my experience the ‘Peak Oil News Feed’ on their site is mostly links to ‘The Oil Drum’ … Leanan do you put your stuff on here as well as TOD or do they just steal it?

David Strahan, author of 'The Last Oil Shock' and board member of the Oil Depletion Analysis Centre, presented the reasons why there is fast growing concern that global oil production will reach its peak in the near future. Chris Skrebowski of the Energy Institute also gave us interesting information.

The meeting was the first step on what I suspect is a very long road to the British Government recognising Peak Oil. It seems, at the moment, the Government thinks that Peak Oil, if it is even real, will only happen around 2030! So there’s no need for any mitigating or planning just yet! … Carry on partying.

If any Brits are reading this please contact your MP and make sure he/she knows about Peak Oil, also try and persuade them to join the all-party group. MPs are only human so, probably like the rest of society, only a small number of them understand what it is about.

John Hemming MP has called upon the government to review its prediction for the peak of global oil supplies in a written parliamentary question following the IEA's recent ‘Medium Term Oil Market Report’. If the IEA is correct in their latest view of future supply we have 5 years to peak!

My opinion, judging by the increase in annual average price of a barrel of crude from $10 in 1998 to around $65 so far this year, is that we are now at “Peak Light” at the very least (and post peak on EIA statistics!)

As demand can’t exceed supply, and supply post peak will be even more constrained than now, we will definitely be using less oil than now … since in the UK we have no mitigating plans then less means recession … the way we will be forced to use less is by the price of oil going much higher than now … we saw what that does in the 70’s.


I will be talking later today with senior engineer with Landsvirkjun, Iceland's national power company.

Years ago they made queries to UK about an undersea HV DC to sell power to the UK, but no interest down south.

What is level of interest now ? Combination of hydro, geothermal, and wind shipped to Scotland ?



That sounds interesting ... good stuff for anti global warming anyway.

I'm not sure we have many things that currently run on oil that can run on electricity ... although I did see several electric cars parked up in Westminster yesterday ... sadly there were even more SUVs.

BTW we are now having our own New Orleans style flooding in the UK!


*BTW we are now having our own New Orleans style flooding in the UK!*

In response to the above, and speculation yesterday about UK govmint's handling of the "Brit Katrina;" www.ukgovfibs.com reports:

1. All flood victims will be relocated, free of charge and within six months, to beautiful new homes with granite work tops, being built even now, on the sunny foothills of the English Alps.

2. Compensation of 50,000 US dollars (we've got rather a lot of those) will be paid, tax free, to every displaced householder.

3. Further; in the subsequent six months, those now living on flood plains and in other flood prone areas, will also be rehoused on the same terms as above.

Commenting on the rescue plans, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said; "The first 1,000 families have already taken up residence, whether they wanted to or not. Recompense for these unexpected costs will be sought from those third world countries which have permitted their populations to burn bio fuels like wood, dung, and iPod cartons, on their fires (without using those catalytic converter thingies), thus foisting global warping on the rest of us. Also, have any of you noticed what a lovely vibrant colour brown is? I will be urging my cabinet to get those ugly green benches in the Commons Chamber recovered in lovely brown velour, as soon as possible."

As Mr. Punch would say: "That's the way to do it."


1. All flood victims will be relocated,

If you did not buy the gov backed flood insurance - well, you were just asking for it.

*wave bye*

2. Compensation of 50,000 US dollars

Not needed if you bought the insurance. And because the free market works, you'll get prompt an honest care because you selected for that...what with the free market.

3. Further; in the subsequent six months, those now living on flood plains and in other flood prone areas, will also be rehoused

Rehoused? Elsewhre - well that is why the US goverment backed insurance matters.

xeroid wrote:

"The meeting was the first step on what I suspect is a very long road to the British Government recognising Peak Oil..."

Well, given that Campbell told them about it way back in 1999, I think they are being a bit slow in catching on.


Of course, they had all that oil from the North Sea to burn up before they had to face the Peak Oil problem. That didn't take very long and now Britain is fast becoming another oil importing nation. There are still lots of folks out there that don't have a clue about where oil comes from and what is going to happen as peak production is realized. It is to be hoped that the necessary transition will be done in a manner that won't make the other big problem, that of Global Warming, much worse.

E. Swanson

Black_Dog wrote

"It is to be hoped that the necessary transition will be done in a manner that won't make the other big problem, that of Global Warming, much worse."

I wouldn't hold your breath ... if they knew what to do about peak oil they would do it. Also, when they see that reducing global warming means no more growth IMO they will forget Kyoto targets if the electorate let them. Who would you vote for ... a party that aims for growth or a party that aims for recession?

I haven't seen any demand projections from the likes of the IEA that even consider Kyoto targets. It certainly wasn't considered in any meaningful way in yesterday's discussions.


Something to throw out for discussion - some may remember that I predicted a 'mysterious' rise in oil prices starting in the weeks after Gonu. Remember Gonu, a minor blip involving a minor oil exporter, only causing minor damage and minor disruption? I also predicted that no one would mention that event in connection with oil prices, if they should rise.

Whether this is just a result of the clock being broken and being right for a brief moment, or if there are some hard facts not currently apparent might be an interesting area to investigate.

Above ground factors are going to get much, much harder to untangle as time goes on - the aftermath of Gonu might be a good place to hone some skills, especially in how much one can trust self-interested sources of information. There is no truth in Izvestia and no news in Pravda (Izvestia nye Pravda, y Pravda nye Izvestia) is an old Soviet joke - it just needs a Wall Street/OPEC makeover.

Yeah, I thought that at the time, but I have had other things to worry about. I think there is much micro analysing of events without any knowledge of the time constants and delays in the systems debated. Yes, at the time of Gonu someone quoted 40 days for supertankers to reach destinations, so 40 days for a hiccup to appear in the shortfall + a week in the refinery chain + 1 week to drain the pumps low, reorder stock......then the stretch as delivery is limited by supply = price rise

I think someone needs to seriously explain the throughput delays for the whole oil picture, so that we can model better. Obviously, there is also feedforward pricing issues too, where traders are given info on current or future events.

Someone posted on here some days ago, figures for 'oil in transit' for the month following Gonu, showing down 12.4 million barrels, if my memory serves me correctly.

Yet even without Gonu, the inevitable trend has been up, up, up...


Data from EIA Weekly Price History series:

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

'China shying from shaky US mortgage market'

'HONG KONG - While China is eager to invest a portion of its US$1.33 trillion foreign-exchange reserve overseas, it is unlikely to take a chance on buying additional US mortgage-backed securities (MBS) as they are now considered too risky, Chinese economists said.

During a recent trip to Beijing, US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Alphonso Jackson tried to sell China on the idea of buying more MBS. Investing in MBS offers better returns for China than US Treasury bonds, and at the same level of risk, Jackson claimed.

He called it a "win-win" situation in a statement released prior to his Beijing trip. "China has bought some mortgage-backed securities from us, but not in great numbers," Jackson said.


Jackson pressed his MBS case with People's Bank of China governor Zhou Xiaochuan, Construction Minister Wang Guangtao, and officials of Chinese commercial banks. Without elaborating, Jackson said his department wants to sign a memorandum of understanding with Wang when the latter visits the US next month.

However, it promises to be a tough sell for Jackson. The Chinese government may decline the offer given the current surge in mortgage defaults in the US, Chinese economists said. Moreover, China has invested most of its foreign reserve funds in US-dollar assets and wants to diversify its investment.'



The securities that the HUD secretary wanted the Chinese to buy are GNMA (Ginnie Mae) which are, unlike securities from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, officially backed by the US Treasury and have equal credit risk as US Treasuries. The US taxpayer is on the hook for any deficiency.

They differ in complex ways due to prepayment and "convexity" but these are very standard now in the bond world and easily dealt with. There ought to be no issue from the plummeting 'subprime' stuff---those are entirely private mortgage-backed securities issued by private entities with lower-quality assets and of course only 'private' instead of US Treausury 'insurance'.

The real answer is that the Chinese don't want to buy more dollars in whatever form---the excuse about mortgages just a superficial excuse. To them the difference strategically between a Treasury and a GNMA is miniscule, and GNMA's offer more complexity and less liquidity for what they see as negligible rate of return benefit.

Thanks for your insight. Very interesting.

I think there's more here, it's not about mortgages, nor the shape and form of securities. China says NO to 100% US government-backed securities, simply because they are guaranteed in US dollars only.

In other words: the US dollar is now deemed pretty much worthless, at least when it comes to investments that one might expect to hold for a year or longer. They will soon start selling off much of their holdings in US dollar denominated securities/treasuries etc.

The Chinese predict the US dollar will tank big time, within a year.

Also, it's remarkable that 2 weeks ago, the US had no doubt that China would buy the Ginnie Mae paper:

U.S. Urges China to Buy Mortgage-Backed Securities

The Bush administration is urging China's central bank to buy more government-backed mortgage bonds in an effort to sustain financing for U.S. home loans.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson is in Beijing to persuade the Chinese central bank to buy more securities from Ginnie Mae, a corporation under HUD that guarantees $417 billion in federally insured, fixed-rate mortgages.

"It's not a matter of whether they're going to do more business in mortgage-backed securities,'' Jackson told reporters in Beijing. "It's who they're going to do business with.''

Something went wrong.....

The hot potato, goes round and round
To pass it quickly, you are bound
If you're the one, to hold it last
The game is past, and you are out!

So far, the only one in Washigton who's openly worried is David Walker.

US financial watchdog says economy at risk from ‘non-ally’ bondholders

America’s leading public finance watchdog has sounded a warning that the US economy is vulnerable to hostile financial actions by nations that are not its “allies”.

David Walker, the US comptroller general, indicated that the huge holdings of American government debt by countries such as China, Saudi Arabia and Libya could leave a powerful financial weapon in the hands of countries that may be hostile to US corporate and diplomatic interests.

Mr Walker told The Times that foreign investors have more control over the US economy than Americans, leaving the country in a state that was “financially imprudent”.

He said: “More and more of our debt is held by foreign countries – some of which are our allies and some are not.”

This month Mr Walker described the US as suffering from a "fiscal cancer" because of the massive long-term healthcare liabilities that the nation faces. The financial burden caused by healthcare entitlements has increased from about $20 trillion to $50 trillion over the past six years, representing a $440,000 bill for every American household, he explained. He also added that in 2005 and 2006, Americans spent more money than they took home, the first such pattern since 1933.

The Chinese predict the US dollar will tank big time, within a year.

Does that mean that they will be able to pay the bills for the Olympics more easily?

A quick look at the Chinese dollar holdings (http://ustreas.gov/tic/mfh.txt) shows that they have been lowering their holdings since March. Perhaps this is why they are reluctant to increase it.


Any thoughts on what US oil production is likely to look like in the years ahead?

Financial Sense University has some projections by Chris Geerlings here. Does anyone else have some thoughts?

How would these change if we started drilling in ANWR? In restricted Outer Continental Shelf? Both of these would be years off, and the impact would extend over a number of years.

I think the US's own production is going to become increasingly important in years ahead, as imports become more difficult.

Hi Gail,

Isn't Chris including reserve growth of various values...which would include drilling in those areas to get some of those reserve growth numbers?

Scenarios 3 and 4 include a 5% increase in reserves for each year offsetting production drawdown somewhat.

This is not a prediction of what will be, but I HOPE we can hold ANWR in reserve for a true emergency. We really do need to keep that one ace up our sleve. It will not make any difference in the long term, but could make a difference in how the game plays out.

Should it be developed before the true emergency?

How long would it take to setup operations?

ANWR would take about a decade from decision to first production.

Save ANWR for our farm tractors.

My rule of thumb - It is time to start the 10 year clock when it has been six months since I have seen a Hummer, an Escalade or an Expedition.

Best Hopes,


Concerning the above link: "United States Oil Reserves: Four Scenarios", there is a flaw in Chris Geerlings caculations. He is comparing apples and oranges. US oil reserves are reserves of crude oil. But when Geerlings does his caculations, he uses all liquids.

We produce about 5.2 million barrels a day of crude oil. That comes to about 1.9 billion barrels per year. Geerlings uses 2.77 billion barrels per year, (all liquids), which comes to 7.58 million barrels per day. In his caculations he is drawing down our reserves by 870 million barrels per year faster than it is actually happening.

This is why I say we should use crude oil rather than "all liquids" when doing any caculations. All liquids, which includes Natural Gas Liquids, Ethanol and host of other liquids, are not crude oil and are not included in the estimate of our oil reserves. All Liquids is nothing more than a confusing fudge factor. And to make things worse, when we talk about US consumption or US imports, one never knows which figure they are using.

US Crude oil reserves are crude only. The SPR is crude only. US inventory, quoted today by the EIA, is crude only. So why the hell when we talk about oil consumption do we use "all liquids"? This just confuses people like Chris Geerlings and causes them to make a lot of caculations that are just plain wrong.

Ron Patterson

Geerling also made no provision for economic reserve growth. As prices get higher, there will be a lot of Enhanced Oil Recovery. I think the NPC's suggested levels are delusional, they seem to think its going up by a factor of 20 and that recoveries are going to go up to 2/3rds of what has been discovered since 1850. But I also think we can significantly ease the downslope with EOR.

I trust our fine economists and mathematicians at TOD whole lot better than I do a guy working for a website that sells gold and goldmining stocks. Roberts peak lite model, or Jeffry's/Khebab's ELM model seem the most likely to play out. But with my level of math and statistics, that's hunchology, not an expert opinion.
Bob Ebersole

Naw, we are seeing stripper wells come on line that produce only a couple of barrels per day. True, at lower prices these wells would not be on line but their contribution to total US oil production is absolutely miniscule.

I just did some quick caculations and found that since 1997 US production dropped an average of about 2% per year. This, mind you, is after a lot of new Gulf of Mexico oil came on line during the last ten years. Without those additions we would be dropping much faster.

What you should do is ignore what is said to be in the ground. Reserves are only best guess estimates anyway. Look at flow rate, that is all that matters. We are bringing new wells on line every year in the Gulf but we are still dropping by 2% per year.

That is all the information you really have and that is all you really need to know in order to understand what is really happening.

Ron Patterson


If some of the abandoned fields are reengineered and redrilled, there should be a lot of economic production brought on line. The exact methods I suggest are:
1. drilling for attic oil-using modern methods to get bypassed oil at the tops of structures
2. repressurising abandoned solution gas reservoirs
3. reassessing old fields by testing sands and limestones that were abandoned early, and by drilling for traps that were considered non-commercial or overlooked before modern seismic and imaging techniques. I'm talking onshore frio and miocene trend salt domes on the Gulf Coast
4. getting salt water disposal wells permitted, and running a water skimming operation on horizons that were abandoned early because they declined to a 10% or 20% oil cut
5. using modern directional drilling to overcome surface use objections

There's a bunch of old oil fields in the Houston area that are virtually abandoned that could be brought back to life. They include:
Humble-about 160 million barrels produced
Damon Mound-about 16 million bbl
South Houston- about 200 million bbls.
Goose Creek-about 200 million bbls
Pierce Junction-about 60 million BBls.Bob Ebersole
S. liberty
Sour Lake
West Columbia
Boling Mound
Esperson Dome
Blue Ridge Dome

In addition, there are shallow heavy oil deposits in many fields that have never been exploited. The fields include Hockley, Moss Bluff, High Island, Boling Mound, Damon Mound, Brenham, Clay creek, Blue Ridge.

All in all, its a target of at least a couple of billion barrels of old production that could possibly be redeveloped yeilding an additional 10%-20% of oil. And I'm not talking about 2 bbl a day of production.There are literally thousands of reservoirs in these fields, and they are being ignored.

This isn't the first time the oil patch has suffered because of untrained personel. In the thirties hundreds of fields were abandoned because oil sank to low levels of price, and the wildcatters focused on finding new fields. In the fifties cheap foreign imports and low allowables made working over old fields not worthwhile. During the last boom, the old oil-new oil horseshit of the Nixon price controls made everyone focus on new exploration only. There are no geologists who know doodly about old salt dome fields, and an incredible shortage of petroleum engineers.

A whole lot of the information about these old fields is public record, and can be worked profitably. I've got more good ideas than I can pursue, and I'd like some help-calling frio and miocene geologists!Calling workover rig owners on the Gulf Coast! Lets make some $$$

You're right, at our monsterous useage this isn't going to help the whole scheme of energy supply. But its going to help a lot of independents get rich, and help our country on the downslope.

I thought that I would chime in on the comments about my FSO essay. I appreciated Ron's criticism as I was not aware of the all liquids vs. crude distinction. I found that after redoing the numbers with those Ron provided on production and consumption of crude, reserves of 18.41 billion barrels would remain in 2026. What does not change, however, is the percentage imported. Therefore, as many TOD readers might agree, imports matter much more than reserves, especially taking into consideration the Export Land Model. If domestic production+imports are insufficient to meet demand, then "less than optimal events" (as Mark B, I believe, put it) will occur--regardless of reserves.

Re the article on property crimes for salvaged metals - I was in Palm Springs over the weekend and, while stopped at a red light, noticed a huge billboard offering a $1000 reward for information leading to the arrest of copper wire thieves. The first time I had ever seen anything like that. So how much is a penny really worth these days?

A penny is worth 1/100th of a rapidly depreciating dollar. It's illegal to destroy coinage for copper, and they're now made out of zinc.
Bob Ebersole

an alloy of zinc and copper actually.

the amount of zinc and copper in a penny is worth well more than the penny itself.

There are likely smelting operations goign on in canada/mexico/china to separate the two metals.

remember folks, bad money drives the good out of circulation

That penny in your pocket's exact value is $0.0094414479379551 as of about 11:35 this morning. That is, if the penny is 1982 or later. A copper penny (prior to 1982) is currently worth $0.0244866.

For details visit this site - http://www.coinflation.com/

We've been discussing this off and on in side comments, but this coper wire theft thing really bears closer monitoring. It is the type of thing that has been flying in under the radar, but will probably explode as front page news in a matter of months.

Also, while it may be illegal to melt down old pre-zinc pennies, I doubt that this fact would stop the sort of people working the copper wire racket. I wonder what type of impact a sudden and unexpected loss of 50% or so of the nation's penny supply would do on the ability of retail businesses to make change?

I don't think the loss of pennies would be a big deal. Most places ignore them anyway. People pay with plastic, or they have "need a penny/take a penny" trays by the register.

What I do find just a little unnerving is the steps they are taking to combat metal theft. They are changing the law so that you can't sell scrap to a dealer unless you have ID, proof of ownership, etc. They are requiring dealers to notify the government if "unusual" items are sold for scrap. Reasonable precautions, not too onerous...yet.

I just got back from a trip to the scrap yard with a load of metal from my yard-old wood stove, bent re-bar, metal bed frame, etc. 1100 lbs of junk @ $75 per ton. Walked away with $41. The same size load last year I could swear netted me $10. Wow. And that's just the crappy price for a mixed load, I'm not sure what I would have got for half a ton of straight copper. Now, everywhere I look I see dollars disguised as rusting junk. I think we will eventually have to restrict general public's access to metal recycling yards.

Large-scale renewable energy projects will cause widespread environmental damage by industrialising vast swaths of countryside, a leading scientist claims today. The warning follows an analysis of the amount of land that renewable energy resources, including wind farms, biofuel crops and photovoltaic solar cells, require to produce substantial amounts of power.

Wind turbines should be put on farms where they're growing food. Solar panels should be put on top of houses and commercial buildings. Land should not be devoted exclusively to any of these items. There's no reason that they can't be placed on land that's used for other stuff already.
Biofuels are a total waste, however. Net energy loser that uses fossil fuel based fertilizer. It's as bad of a scam as hypedrogren.
~Durandal (http://www.wtdwtshtf.com/)

Yeah he was definitely spreading bad propaganda. I too noticed he lumped the useless [biofuels] with the possible [solar+wind] just to stir the mud.

Also no tidal [guaranteed] or wave [dependable]. And of course the biggest volcanic magma plume on earth is just waiting for someone to stick a waterpipe into it - but of course the racoons and bison would get upset by the view - right?

Also no comparison to land consumption by coal mining. I tried to calculate that comparison a little while back. It's complicated because coal seams can be so variable in the amount of energy they provide per acre. Solar generating plants also can be highly variable in the amount of energy they provide per acre, depending on the technology used.

I found that coal would use the same amount of land as solar thermal in anywhere from 15 to 120 years. My rough guess as to the most likely number is 30 years. That's also the stated lifetime of most solar systems.

When you throw in the environmental damages caused by coal mining, and the possibility that solar systems may continue functioning for more than 30 years (and even if they don't, the same land can be reused), it's likely the land consumption advantage goes to solar.

wrong. solar is extremely dependable.

Once you put it in, and take off the tarp you have power for >40 years

With coal you can have floods and fires and cave-ins, all bad stuff.

The sun will keep on rising every day until it expands and nearly engulfs the earth in a couple billion years.

Laurence, that was a little more than a little while back at this point...I didn't quite realize how far until I went digging for it:


Seems like a bit of an unfair report. Wind power using larger turbines 5MW ~ 4W/m and using larger 10MW machines would be up to 6W/m. Whilst having a footprint of only 1-2% of the available land space leaving the rest of it free to do something useful with. No mention of tidal or wave power, offshore wind or run of river hydro or geothermal as has been pointed out. I agree biofuels are a crazy idea, but digestion of biological wastes and using waste streams from certain food manufacturing processes makes sense on a small scale. Nuclear power seems to be in competition with renewables but we are going to need both to stand a chance of fighting PO and GW. I thought they should be on the same side, if course nuclear can only work on large centralised grids, which is a separate issue all together. No mention of efficiency or demand reduction/management either, if I was a teacher I would mark this 'Could try harder' :)

Local bio-digesters running local CHP gas engines? They would be expensive but would only run at peak time. Plus you would get a gate fee to take the waste :)

The most useful thing we can use bio tech for is construction materials and crazy things like feeding people.

I agree his numbers are way off. Corn, not counting the fossil energy in, gives about 0.25 W/m^2 for ethanol and 0.02 W/m^2 for oil. Switchgrass gives about 0.652 W/m^2 so unless he is going with tropical cane with several cuttings a year, his 1.2 W/m^2 is high. He must also have picked a very northern place to calculate PV rather than a population based latitude because PV gets about 40 W/m^2 not his 6 or 7. I remember being a little suprised by Monbiot's emphasis on wind until I realized England is so cloudy. But, when you are estimating land use for solar, you need to look at where it is going to be appropriate, and that is going to be on rooftops where land is already being used in climates that get sun.

This map shows what is incoming on average and accounting for clouds in the US for a latitude tilted plate. At 19% efficient (typical of what is coming on line), the 5 kWh/m^2/day regions come to 40 W/m^2. You can adjust down for latitude to estimate land use, or just assume that if you are not using a rooftop, you'll use a hillside.

He has also comitted error number one when comparing renewables with depletables. He compares land area used for solar with the amount of fuel in a reactor. This neglects the fact that the same land can be used for solar for the next 2 billion years while the decomissioned reactor area can't be used for the next 1 million. If you need to decommission every 50 years, that is a lot of land to use up if you think that breeders let you keep going. If not, then you better compare with how long you think it will take for the fuel to run out.

With so many errors, this seems to me to be nuclear industry FUD. To me, the motive seems understandable, but throwing out numbers like that seems a little too much.

He also neglected to mention that in the western part of the US, the best wind and solar sites are too dry to be farmland.

Wind turbines are being built like crazy in West Texas and the Panhandle. They are a wonderful deal for everybody; the landowner gets $4,000 per year per wind tubine as royalty, the county and schools get taxes, and the local communities get well-paying jobs. The utilities get cheap power, the investors get tax shelters and we all get less CO2.

You can damn sure put one in my backyard, and I'd like a gas well, too.

Bob Ebersole

I'd let them put one in my back yard just so I could look at it. Although, $4,000/yr would be nice too. Maybe just give me free electricity instead? :)
~Durandal (http://www.wtdwtshtf.com/)

He also neglects to mention that in places like West Texas, the shading provided by solar mirrors might make lands better for some forms of farming.

I've suggested in several posts that PV panels could be erected above parking spaces in lots to provide metered recharging stations for NEVs & PHEVs. This would take zero unused space, and make NEVs & PHEVs more feasible by bringing recharging PVs into proximity with the vehicles during max daily insolation. Parking under the panels would also protect the vehicles from rain or snow, and would result in a cooler vehicle to begin the trip home.

The only serious land use issue is with biofuels. We do not have enough land to produce enough biofuels to keep the entire present vehicle fleet running. It can't happen, no way, period. We can probably produce enough biodiesel to keep essential service vehicles and equipment running, without too bad a hit to food production capacity. But that is it.

I had a weird business idea a few years ago. it goes like this: You have a house. I come to you and say "I want to rent your roof". Then I install solar panels and sell the electricity. I didn't look in to the figures but I doubt it would be economical.

GDM - Turns out it is. Companies like SunEdison and Sun Farm Ventures absorb the high first cost and get ROI by selling power back to the host (ie the customer) for a fixed term, using a PPA power purchasing agreement. Customer essentially continues paying a slightly reduced bill, now partly to the solar installer. Leases available also.

WNC - This is coming. PHEVs and EVs can and will repace the ICE. Even at small scale, intermittant renewable energy will charge batteries that act as storage and will reduce peak demand. Oh - and no tailpipe.

BTW - Biofuels - Now that's koolade (they suck bigtime).

Just beware of companies like Citizenre.

Yes, see here also for what Leanan is referring to. I don't know if this is the solar industry policing itself, but I would steer clear of Citizenre.

But SunEdison and Sun Farm Ventures are real, quality companies, and there are many others such as Conservation Services Group. I'm not a fan of PPAs but it does provide a means to address the high upfront installation cost, a key barrier (like other renewables) for many people. Those interested should contact their state clean or renewable energy program, and by all means get bids from multiple installers on any work.

>Wind turbines should be put on farms where they're growing food. Solar panels should be put on top of houses and commercial buildings.

How does that work in high-density cities? The roof area of a high rise can at best supply electricity for a tiny fraction of apartments or offices. Plus PV systems are very expensive and the payback is measured in decades. I can't see millions of homeowners and business purchasing trillions in PV panels to required. Plus all that sillicon production would create heaps of toxic waste. Then their are issues with toxic batteries used to store excess power.

Wind needs to be backed up with hydro which means a lot of land occupied by water to store sufficient energy. Water reservoir also need to be situated with a gravity potential to produce electricity efficiency and energy storage can't complete with water use for agraculture, residential and commerial needs. Like PV, the cost of setting up a large percentage of electricity using wind would cost in the trillions.

In order to transition to a sustainable foot print, we probably need to decrease energy consumption by a factor of at least 1:10,000. I don't see that happening without a major population reduction.

I think if you study PV and wind extensively as you have done with hydrogen and biofuels, you'll no longer have a strong positive position on PV and wind.

It was back in 1981 when I first started writing the Future Tech series of stories and I thought of all the roof spaces that went unused by the solar collection market.

I have solved all this stuff long ago in a SCI-FI story that has been mutated into an AutoBiography of the Second in command of the company Future Tech. ( Future of 2063 he is writing his history for all the worlds that he helped make happen. On his 100th birth-year )

Back then I worked with my dad on the roof top of the store MMCohn 510 Main St Little Rock Arkansas, The building is still there and I have been everywhere inside it and outside it. (( Even in the pit of the elevator shafts )).
Ah those were the days when my dad maintained 5 buildings and I was his assistant.

But roofs all over the place were just hot bare tar-paper and gravel I had great plans for most of them, from roof top gardens, to solar and wind collection.

All this stuff is so old this was over 25 years ago and see where we are right now, just talking about it again.

See where I have become convinced that humans just will not learn till it is forced upon them to learn or die.

Oh my! I wouldn't have imagined that my hometown would make TOD headlines one day!!!

Here, as you may suppose, local politicians are blaming each other for the blackouts, and blaming Spanish electrical utility Endesa (beware, Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia, which is officially Spain, but there is a strong nationalist tradition here, and besides, Endesa bought the regional utility FECSA and now it seems they get 25% of their income from Catalonia, but they spend just 15% in maintenance and new capacity here).

Meanwhile, people who still are in the dark 48 hours after the incident are naturally outraged, making roadblocks and banging on pots and pans, they scream "Queremos luz!" (We want lights) and wondering how can this happen in a modern XXI century city...

And we still don't know officially how the fall of a cable could cause this mess (the electrical utility is having a monstrously bad PR performance), with still 10k people in the dark.

Very few commentators talk about the complexity and fragility of centralized power grids, the necessity of conservation, etc. In fact, the government asked the population to save energy to allow a faster recovery of the grid, and last night, in the revolting neighborhood where they still don't have electricity they were even more outraged, as the only building that was illuminated was Gaudi's Sagrada Familia...

Gaudi's Sagrada Familia

Is that a church?

Yeah, and a nice one:


Still unfinished, it has an interesting history

It's a basilica, though unfinished.


I had the good fortune to spend a morning climbing around those towers.

There's a difference between a church and a basilica?

(Sorry, I'm a heathen. I just found out a few weeks ago that you aren't supposed to leave a Catholic service right after they give out the juice and crackers. Everyone always left then in the services I've been dragged to. I had no idea that that ticks off the priest and you're supposed to stick around.)

And it's unfinished? After being asked to conserve electricity, they lit up a church that isn't even finished???

There is no need to engage in anti-religious bigotry by hurling gratuitous insults at religious faiths you do not agree with. What you refer to as "juice and crackers" is believed by faithful Roman Catholics to be the Body and Blood of Christ, and one need not agree with this in order to refrain from ridiculing what these same Catholics regard as the most sacred rite of their religion.

What you refer to as "juice and crackers" is believed by faithful Roman Catholics to be the Body and Blood of Christ,

And you eat it? You Cannibal!

Sorry for the sarcasm Phil but I do not respect the religion of my father, he was a Hardshell Baptist, and I do not respect yours. Any religion that urges people to "go fourth and multiply" in a vastly overpopulated world, is doing far more harm than good.

I am fed up with the fundamentalists trying to stop birth control, prohibit stem cell research, promoting creationism, and all the other holier than thou crap they do.

So lighten up on Leanan before I really get nasty.

Ron Patterson

All I can say to you is that the kind of immature ridicule and bullying that pervades your post is one of the principal reasons why my esteem for this site has diminished greatly over time. Reading posts such as yours makes one feel as though one were attempting to converse with a ten-year old "king of the playground," rather than with a rational and civil adult.

As if "faithful Roman Catholics [believing crackers and wine] to be the Body and Blood of Christ" is a illustrative of a "rational and civil adult"...

I have no problem ridiculing such nonsense in the confines of TOD--even if the Pope is reading.

I'm sorry that you do not respect the religion of your father, nor anyone else's. To "go fourth and multiply" is, however, not only a christian rule, but the most critical life's rule. You ought to know better, mr Patterson.

I am fed up with the fundamentalists trying to stop birth control, prohibit stem cell research, promoting creationism, and all the other holier than thou crap they do.

Well, don't listen to them. They have a right to speech. Still, most chatolics that I know of aren't that passionate about those subjects, they understand the difficult greyness of them (when they even exist). But the european catholic church is way less fanatical than the american protestants, so I have not to deal with the stuff you do have. I believe that such radicalism and extreme polarisation in the USA about religion is destroying your own culture. Really. Get over with it.

Sorry, Luis, but this is just too funny:

To "go fourth and multiply"

The idea is to go first and multiply, I'm sure.

Go first not needed. You'll have to kill all the rest if you don't, actually, or optionally convert them. You must decide which is more favourable to you. So it has a little hard work involved being only the fourth, but you can prosper a little faster with your slaugthered pagan's infrastructures in your own hands...

The proper spelling is "Go Forth and multiply". Too bad God didn't add "and learn the exponential function too." to that particular commandment.
Bob Ebersole

'Pizza pope' builds a Catholic heaven

Abortions, pornography and contraceptives will be banned in the new Florida town of Ave Maria, which has begun to take shape on former vegetable farms 90 miles northwest of Miami.


"prohibit stem cell research"

hum, and why not promoting cloning, it could save lives too...

Phil: Don't you wish we could roll back the clock about 500 years then we could burn Leanan at the stake for being a practising witch? Ah, those were the days (mumbling something vaguely Latin sounding).

Did I say anything whatsoever about burning Leanan at the stake, and condemning her as a witch? No, I did not. I merely pointed out that she had hurled an unjustifiable insult. Why are you sticking these sorts of words into my mouth, when nothing could be farther from my mind?

Phil: It is furthest from your mind because it is illegal. You would be thrown in prison. Back when guys like you had total power, that is what you did to women who insulted the church- you burned them alive.

Friggin H Christ. Here comes the usual anti-christian flame rants. Get over with it. Those were times where there wasn't free speech, democracy wasn't a word, people were killed for robbery, children who stole bread to eat were sentenced for life. So stop listing all the bad things the church has done in a time that was so much more brutal in the overall environment than you can possibly imagine.

Well, you can imagine. Imagine Iraq.

Luis: Shouldn't you and Phil be busy molesting a choirboy?

Redraw your comment.

Like, right now.

Luis: I think you mean "Withdraw your comment. Like, right now."

Joke with the christian portuguese.

See my reply to Darwinian above.

I know you are trying to be civil Phil, but there are a lot of folks here and in America who are fed up with having to tip-toe around "sacred" topics and personal beliefs. It is not that safe in America to be openly critical of religion. The Internet has added a layer of safety and anonymity that I think is letting folks be more blunt and honest.

I consider myself a "recovering Catholic". I almost never missed weekly mass for the first 21 years of my life. The more I became educated and began thinking independently, the more I became convinced that religion is THE great problem preventing America from advancing and fixing the looming population/PeakOil problem.

Organized religion has caused vastly more problems than it has helped humanity. Now I am unaffiliated with any mainstream religion, but am deeply spiritual. I even call my self a Christian, but I doubt that 99.9% would.

IMVHO those who get upset about people attacking religion are insecure in their beliefs and the absolute authority and power of G-d. To we we are co-creators and how we get into the PO mess, how we react to PO, and how we move forward will express much more about our personal spiritual or religious beliefs than any church or organizational affiliation.

G-d is secure and truly cannot be insulted. That goes for Bro Jesus too. They simply are all above the fray and any insult I am sure is take humorously by the Almighty. If he can deal with it, I think we should be able to. My vision of the divine is not too far off from the Morgan Freeman character version in "Bruce Almighty". He's given us the power and it's up to us to learn what is really of value and to learn to make better choices. The moment in that movie where Jim Carey says his first genuine prayer is touching and hits the center of this PO + G-d dilemma, when the sh!t is hitting the fan, is our response to look out for ourselves or to care about others? ;-)

IMVHO those who get upset about people attacking religion are insecure in their beliefs and the absolute authority and power of G-d.

I agree 100%

G-d is secure and truly cannot be insulted.


Leanan described - accurately so - a religious ritual involving "juice and crackers" and PhilRelig has a cow! (Can I say that without too being accused of bigotry? ... awaits a Hindu to enter the fray)

Way to go over an insult that wasn't there!

Odysseus and Godraz,

Let me ask you something. Suppose Leanan had made some sort of flip joke at the expense of Jews, instead of at the expense of Catholics. Let's say the punchline involved an insinuation of some sort of slur such as "everyone knows that all Jews are greedy, and out to rule the world." And suppose I happened to be the only Jew who frequented TOD.

Just as appears to be the case under the present real-life circumstances, I would be the only one who happened to be PERSONALLY offended by such a slur. Yet, I have no doubt that others who post on this board would be outraged by Leanan's anti-Semitism, and would, perhaps, be quick to let her know (keep in mind, please, that this is a strictly hypothetical scenario).

And what's more, I know based on experience (involving an anti-Semitic poster named Wadosy from almost two years ago) that the editorial staff on TOD wouldn't stand for such bigoted jokes for a minute. And the editors would take steps to nip such conduct in the bud regardless of whether they themselves are Jews or not, and regardless of whether the slur is thus applicable to them or not. (In the afore-mentioned instance involving the anti-Semitic poster Wadosy, it was Stuart Staniford who stepped in and publicly demanded that he take his anti-Semitic insinuations elsewhere - and as far as I know, Stuart Staniford is not Jewish.)

Well, the mere fact that Leanan's bigoted crack is directed at Catholics rather than at Jews, and the mere fact that no one other than myself who reads this site seeems to be personally insulted by it, doesn't make it any less bigoted either. And it also doesn't matter whether Leanan's crack involved malice, or mere ignorance, or whether she got caught in a weak moment, or whatever. None of these things would exonerate her of the charge of bigotry if she were insulting a Jew, either.

Give it a rest, please. Just be strong in your faith.

Seriously, if you are a Catholic, you are a priori just as bigoted as Leanan could ever hope to be in her wildest dreams. Not just Catholics - pretty much any of the Abrahamic monotheistic religions. Seems to come with the territory. "I'm right, you're damned."

Talk about insults.

(Which begs the question... Leanan - what are your wildest dreams?) (I keed, I keed! None of my business!)


For pete's sake it IS juice and crackers!

Get over it!

In saying this, you, too, reveal yourself to be no better than an anti-Semite.

Oh come on! At the risk of seeming insulting, you are becoming ridiculous.

Why not sit back, take a deep breath, and meditate for a while, and reflect on why you are getting these reactions?

You prattle on about justice and respect, but you seem to have zero awareness of your own absurd self-righteousness and bigotry.

Why not just leave it?

Please read my reply above to Oddyseus and Godraz, and see if you can refute my logic, before you hurl unfounded accusations of self-righteousness and bigotry at me.

I will leave it eventually - but I would leave it right now if Leanan were to apologize and acknowledge her error.

Ah, good old Christian mercy and repentance... Jesus, go read The Stranger. Check out the ending. I'll still love you.

I'm an anti-all-religion-on-TOD that doesn't have anything to do with the real world problems we're facing.

I'm tired of you and other posters inserting your religion into the discussions here.

How right you are--but if people are going to insert their choleric defenses of religion I am more than willing, and happy, to respond (albeit, belatedly...)

Suppose Leanan had made some sort of flip joke at the expense of Jews, instead of at the expense of Catholics.

PhilRelig, for the last time, your mistake is in perceiving a "flip joke" where there was NONE!

No where in Leanan's post is she 'joking' with malicious intent.

She begins by asking a simple and direct question. Next she goes on to say, apologizing even, that as a "heathen" (you do know what this means?) she's completely ignorant of such religious matters. If anything she is 'joking' at her own expense.

She goes on to describe a Catholic church experience of hers in which she very accurately (a lot of Catholic churches do in fact serve "juice and crackers"!!!) and simply descibed a ritual that has no meaning to her PERIOD.

It's clear that she has been to church services before, but whether they were Catholic or not, we don't know. However, she did also say that she'd only just recently found out that you weren't supposed to leave "a Catholic service" right after the blood & body of Christ rite. In all her prior church service experiences that is what she witnessed. End of story!

As I noted elsewhere, had Leanan really wanted to offend I am absolutely certain she could have and would have in an unmistakable way.

As I and others have said, what's crystal clear is your own religious insecurity over a slight that wasn't made as you keep on insisting it was!

This entire tempest in a teapot is of your own making but you just don't get it and your G_d (as if he really cares) is probably crying at your complete lack of ability to see whatever cosmic joke there is in all this stupidity is on you and of your own making.

It's no wonder people think religion is a hoax. Just look at what you've wrought here today.

I don't know why so many people claim to know what only Leanan herself is in a position to know - namely, the reasons why she did what she did, and what exactly she meant to say.

Good G_d, man, where you come up with this stuff is astounding, but not surprising.

Phil, no one is *claiming* to know anything about her "reasons". Did I say anything about her "reasons"? (Checks post... Nope.) Nor has anyone else that I am aware of -- well, there is you, but that's the sticky wicket which you've hung yourself up to get pelted on throughout this whole laughable affair.

For the record, all I did was re-read her words and offered my interpretation of them in the context of her post and this particular originating topic. It is an interpretation that is entirely reasonable, not to mention one supported by most everyone else here. It's not that hard to do (well, for most of us it seems) seeing as it is written in plain english; as is her use of correct spelling and grammer.

Not that Leanan needs my approval but I thought she expressed herself quite succinctly and plainly, with no ill intent. Certainly not at all in the way you saw fit to raise cain over.

The full context and tone of her post is not one that in any way warranted the accusations which you leveled against her. I've explained why I think you are mistaken. Others have done so in their own way too.

As far as I'm concerned she conveyed (here's a hint for you: communicated) herself quite clearly, simply and plainly in describing a church going experience of hers -- one that illustrated her self-deprecating "heathen" ignorance!

(To which one might suggest, were you a better practicioner of your faith, you might have thought then and there to offer up a small prayer to your all powerful G_d and savior for Leanan's soul. Alas, you are not such a wise man of your faith. You are clearly something else but we've been over this already and repeating it won't matter.)

Phil, you keep chasing after imaginary demons of Leanan's "anti-religious bigotry" and all manner of other completely loony assertions and absurd demands (you want an apology, you want justice!) all the while making quite a spectacle of yourself.

Had you any common sense you could have avoided this public fiasco by sending an email to Leanan expressing your concern. Of course, had you any plain & simple capable reading comprehension and or a lot less insecurity, you wouldn't have gotten yourself all worked up over Leanan's unremarkable "juice and crackers" description in the first place.

G_d sure does work in mysterious ways! ;-)

Both Jews and people of color are minorities and historically WERE persecuted for hundreds of years. It has been only recently that there has been some degree of tolerance and civil rights. These are very recent changes in historical terms. Christians are in the majority in historical Europe, which is where most Anglos immigrated to the USA from. Christianity is the most popular religion in the USA and by definition is in the majority. Usually the majority is fair game for satire and criticism as they are the ones in power.

Your whole "strictly hypothetical scenario" reeks of Mel Gibson style misunderstanding of other religions. With the Vatican bringing back the Latin Mass I would suggest Catholics particularly be careful about citing too many Jewish hypothetical scenarios. Antisemitism IS on the rise in Europe, and more disturbingly, among a lot of the liberal left and intelligentsia in the USA. Both are troubling trends in my mind and reveal a misunderstanding of how short a time there has been since the Holocaust and centuries of Catholic oppression and conversion attempts.

Much as I have little time for religion, it's a stretch to claim that it's what's preventing America from addressing Peak Oil, seeing as there are plenty of other Western nations that are not doing anything serious to address PO, and are not particularly religious (I live in one of them).
I'd much sooner say it was a near-religious faith in neo-liberalism and unchecked economic growth that was a root problem.

You're right it is a stretch... one can jump into a rant here and get carried away... BUT although I agree religion is not a direct cause of what is preventing the US from addressing PO. I do think it is part of the unique American world view that was expressed as "Manifest Destiny" in the 1800's and our more recent Duddly Do-Right role as self-assigned world cop (eg. Iraq).

Many if not most Americans believe Democracy is the best system of government and that Capitalism works best is assumed. I think both are rather narrow minded world views that contributed to us getting into the Iraq mess and to the pervasive magical thinking that the market forces will make more oil available.

OK, it's a tenuous linkage at best but in my mind's eye the two subjects of P.O. denial and the USA (at least self identifying themselves as)being dominantly Christian are somehow linked.

I think the acceptance that Democracy is the best system of government is pretty widespread - even among Arab states. Like many others, I prefer "least worst" to best, but I'm quite prepared to defend it as such.

Likewise, I think there is now a general acceptance that capitalism fundamentally works "better" than communism or other forms of authoritarian government where free enterprise is suppressed or strongly discouraged. I have a lot of time for John Mackey's belief in "ethical capitalism", which moves away from the Friedmanesque view the corporate responsibility is to the immediate bottomline only. I also accept that capitalism can work just as well with big government/high taxes (e.g. Norway) as it can with very small governmant/low taxes (e.g. Hong Kong). And democracy is the "least worst" way of letting each country decide what form they prefer to take, acting as a check on how far the system can drift to either extreme.

World cop? You insane, or just not being payin attention? Bully boy, that's more the terminology. Duddly do-right role is not a consequence of religion fanatism. You got it totally backwards, Odysseus.

First, you must realise that the role of America in the world is to try to conquer it, to become the single superpower in the world who deals the cards. That's its purpose, its objective. In order to do so, political manouvers, wars and the likes are necessary. In order to do so, one has to "deal" with the Americans themselves, give them a speech of ideals for which to fight for and for which to believe. It just so happens that Americans are christian. They could have been bhuddists, and we would be here discussing the connections between bhudism and the surge to war. Instead they are mostly christian, and thus the neocons (specially them, despite the fact that every american politician must be a good christian) embraced christian semantics to the politics to mobilize people. They'll use every semantical tool they think it is useful from the christian teachings, while embracing "christian" causes like, abortion, genes, etc, just for face show. It's a friggin charade.

And you bought it.

How naive.

I'm no buddhist, but from my understanding getting a nation of buddhists to "surge", let alone start a war, is and would be quite impossible. Of course, having a nation of American Buddhists who behave like the average American is an inherent contradiction also. I'll reference Tibetan Buddhists, who have laid down and truly "turned the other cheek" in the face of a violently forceful Chinese expansion into Tibet (even with hundreds of religious sites decemated by the Chinese, the Tibetan Buddhists have not had any violent uprising, in anyway). You won't find Buddhist suicide bombers...

I don't think you and Odysseus probably disagree much about this. You just have a problem with the "world cop" term, which I think is justified since you are right, we clearly are not the world's cop... We selectively pick our "enemies" and "engagements" in a quite self-interested manner based on location and the prospective propaganda purposes those enterprises may serve.

I agree somewhat with all of you--wizofaus, odysseus, and luisdias...

There is definitely a connection between religion in America and the secular neoliberal cornucopian faith that wiz mentions above. The problem at root in both is an unfounded faith--or, as you all have said, and has been said a million times on TOD, wishful thinking. However, religion on a whole (while ignorant and blinded by a childish certainty) is not altogether a bad thing, and it obviously not responsible for PO, or for whatever it may bring... That responsibility lies with the managers and powerful members of society--who have consistently made choices without thinking of the ramifications (usually because next quarter, ya gotta turn a profit!)

I became convinced that religion is THE great problem preventing America from advancing and fixing the looming population/PeakOil problem.

I was surprised this morning to hear the new lady doctor on NBC TV admit on MSM camera that we are "herd animals". (Sorry, I don't remember her name.) She was talking about this study regarding contagion of obesity.

Anyway, the point is that we are herd animals.

Religion is just an expression of the herding instinct. We all want to "congregate" together in some building and mumble to ourselves about how great we are and how different we are from all the other animals.

Religion per se is not the problem.
The fact that we are irrational herd animals, that is THE PROBLEM.

P.S. Here is the NBC story.

Again, then it's the laws of physics that are real problem.

Point being that there's not much point blaming things we can't realistically change. The influence of religion DOES appear to be something that can be changed, because it's obviously very different from country to country, and has changed enormously over the last 1000 years.
How America, founded by a bunch of agnostics and deists (among others), turned into a country so dominated by a particular strain of fundamentalist Christianity, is something of a mystery, given that virtually every other western nation has slowly being sloughing off the shackles of religious dominance.

In some ways, I wouldn't be overfully concerned about it though, because immigration and demographics will take care of it eventually (although making that sort of prediction for a post-PO world is a bit academic). And from http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_tren.htm:

The percentage of American adults who identify themselves as Christians dropped from 86% in 1990 to 77% in 2001. This is an unprecedented drop of almost 1 percentage point per year.
The percentage of American adults who identify themselves as Protestants dropped below 50% about the year 2005.

I wonder what the EROEI on burning witches is?

"Why did they use to burn witches?"
"Cheaper than oil, I expect"

Two words:

Thermal Depolymerization.

Just kidding, folks! :-/

I wonder what the EROEI on burning witches is?

Harry Potter is not amused with this bigotry of yours!

Harry Potter is not amused with this bigotry of yours!

Now thats funny! Because it was some of the utra conservative Christians that once harry became popular tried to convince people that the book was made by the occult and would turn children to Satan.

I can't think of a Catholic that I know, and I know a few, who would find her comment bigoted. I don't think it's bigoted to recognize that we do often find each others' unusual traditions as a little bit funny.

Tat Tvam asi, brother. 'That thou Art'


Yes, I am very well aware that the vast majority of Catholics have lost any true sense of what their faith stands for. But that doesn't change the fact that Leanan's crack amounts to a grave insult directed toward the minority who do. She owes them an apology.

Comeon, making fun of other peoples religion is always appropriate. I mean, it's not like religious insults have ever caused a conflict before.

Big cup of sarconal this morning.

Personally, I deeply respect and will fight for people's right to believe in whatever they choose to hold sacred, and to put those beliefs into practice within the law.

I include in that my right to believe it's not only appropriate, but good for humanity, to take the piss out of demonstrably irrational belief at every opportunity.

Actually, i think this thread is emblamatic of a trend within theoildrum that needs rapid action to draw to a halt - and while I don't mean taking the piss out of anything, I do mean off-topic commentary that has nothing to do with oil or energy.

The explosion in drumbeat and other comments adds community (in good and bad ways) but dilutes the import and integrity of the site; which seem to me too important to risk.

So I apologise for my comment above - not the words, just where they appeared.

If she knew what the "juice and crackers" were, she'd only say it if she were cruel, which she isn't. She simply doesn't know and from where I sit appears to be speaking with a certain degree of bravado and humor. (Unfortunately, I know many practicing Catholics who also don't "know.")

The Body and Blood of Christ is sacred to me as well; however, to know this is a grace. People are people. This is a humanist site with enormous integrity and I read TOD for the great scientific, ethical, and sociological work done here--not for spiritual wisdom, devotion or respect. She's not trying to inflict pain, so I ignore it and go on. She provides more service here than 99% of the other members. Others are trying to inflict pain, so I think I'll stop reading for the day.
All the best,

I would prefer it if Leanan spoke for herself regarding the reasons why she said what she said. Only she truly knows this.

Ah, an inquisition on everything and anything you deem "offensive"--which for you is just another way of saying "that is bordering on being analogous to anti-semitism". Great smear. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Please go read your own extensive history and then come back to TOD and hypocritically preach about anti-semitism, or throw out absurdities like "you're probably a racist too!". Smooth. The gall of people of faith to cry out and accuse others never fails to surprise me--and it only furthers my strong commitment that mental midgets such as yourself and other moralizing preachers and religious demagogues should stick to the cultivation of their own "soul" if they are so devout in living in Christ's wake, and stop worrying about others'.

Maybe she doesn't want to address you because you are behaving like a child by indulgently throwing around wild accusations, and otherwise being unreasonable.

I Better stop calling them 'Mackeral Snappers' then.

Juice and Crackers ha ha ha. Laughed all the way home to my Catholic wife.

She thought it funny too

I think it is a great pity that your wife has so little regard for her faith. Evidently, the fact that she is a Catholic means next to nothing to her.

Phil: REDRAW that comment. Like, right now.

A patronizing Catholic, who would have guessed? Phil, you really do a poor job representing your faith (or maybe a good job? Lets hope not). Talk about shooting at nothing--except save your own foot.


She is a fine woman and after 25 years of putting up with me, a living saint.

She too just has a sense of humour and a fine sense of the ephemeral.

She loves catholic jokes, just as most jews love jewish jokes.

Oy-vey Maria....

Why is it the first thing fundies loose any sense of humour or proportion?

Anyway, An Anglican dies and goes to heaven. He meets Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates. Peter says 'welcome, we take all types here, let me give you a tour'.

So off they go, across a long green sward of grass. Here and there they see Zoroastrians playing lawn chess with Moslems, Budhists sharing food with Sikhs at a picnic, Methodists drinking tea with Shintoists (you get the picture).

Then Peter and the Anglican reach a very high brick wall. Peter says 'shush now, be very quiet and tiptoe past this wall'.
'Why ? ' says the Anglican.

Peter replies: 'Well, behind the wall are the Catholics. They like to think they are the only ones here...'

I thank you

PERFECT! Thanks for sharing. I too enjoy the jokes.

Folks who think religion cannot be joked about are scarily close to those who killed Theo van Gogh or who issued a fatah against S. Rushdie.

Intolerance reveals ignorance. Where apostasy or blasphemy are a crime, be assured reason is absent and madmen rule.

We are not talking about criminalizing demeaning talk about religion here. I never said any such thing. It is simply a question of common decency, and of respect for what others hold profoundly sacred. It is the mark of a mature person to give others the esteem of being guarded in what they say about things that are profoundly important to them, even if the things in question are not important to the mature person him or herself.

I fully grant that it is a free country, and that Leanan therefore has the freedom to make gratuitously demeaning remarks about religion if she wishes. But such conduct is morally unjustified and unbecoming, and others have a right to point that out and request an apology, since they live in a free country also.

It would be a much better site as a very general matter if people were much more disciplined about these sorts of things than in fact they are - in short, if people would behave with more civility toward one another. And unfortunately, nothing seems to bring out a lack of civility more forcefully than anything that smacks of an orthodox Christian standpoint.

And, as I pointed out before, the fact that Leanan permits herself to make such remarks even though she is an editor multiplies the degrading effect of her remarks on the overall content of the posts, since as an editor she enjoys a certain amount of authority, and since others will therefore unconsciously tend to follow her lead.

When Christians show something besides snotty contempt for non-Christians, then it will be time to talk about civility.

There is a bit of the "tragedy of cyberspace" here. If we were talking face to face, I am sure compassion and intent revealed through body language and tone of voice would alter this whole thread.

What we get through cyber communication is egos either attacking or defending; not necessarily people communicating and reaching understanding. Often these emotionally charged topics devolve into a battle of ideas not a joining of minds or of any real learning.

Freedom of expression is so important because the corollary is that everyone who hears someones' speech is interpreting it uniquely through their values, sacred cows, prejudices, and beliefs. I would suggest that Jesus' admonition to forgive others because they do not know what they are doing is to prevent US from getting all pissed off from misunderstandings. My reading of Jesus' actions show an iconoclast who made "gratuitously demeaning remarks" about the main stream religion of his day. If he were here today I would not be surprised if he wouldn't have uttered something provocative like the wine-and-crackers comment just to stir up people's thinking.

"If he were here today I would not be surprised if he wouldn't have uttered something provocative like the wine-and-crackers comment just to stir up people's thinking."

Exactly! Some of my favourite Zen stories reflect that kind of thinking - like the one when a Zen master peers over the wall next to his temple and sees a gardener who has raked up all the leaves under the tree in the centre of the garden. The gardener greets him and asks what he thinks of his neat, tidy lawn. The Zen master says "There's something missing. If you help me over the wall I think I can fix it for you." The gardener helps him over. The Zen master walks up to the tree, shakes it vigorously so that loose leaves rain back down over the garden, and says "There. That's better."

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

You got my point exactly! Sometimes a good Zen whack on the head with a stick is the best answer to long-winded circular debates. Real sages are very often tricksters tying dislodge our thinking ruts.

'...the fact that Leanan permits herself to make such remarks....'

'Permits' herself? That is a stunningly revealing mark, somehow.

You do realize that most Protestants also think that what occurs at a Catholic Mass also involves rituals concerning pressed grape fluids and milled and baked flour, right? That the miracle of transubstantiation is not even accepted?

The following information is interesting - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transubstantiation#Views_of_other_Churches_...

For example, Luther may not have insulted your faith, but he did explicitly reject Catholic teaching about transubstantiation. The Anglican church has a fascinating non-discussion policy (some believe it happens, some think it doesn't), while such groupings as the Baptists are very far from any Catholic understanding of this practice.

I guess this means they are all insulting Catholicism - but then, the Pope also recently said they are lesser ('wounded,' which is tactful, even if 'juice and crackers' isn't), so who cares?

What you seem to be somewhat unaware of, and which some people are trying to point out, is that your convictions about insulting speech are not exactly new - they have been, in part, the basis for centuries of bloody European warfare.

And it appears that instead of Islam changing its understanding of its place in society to the post-Reformation or post-Enlightenment understanding found in Western nations, there are a number of people who believe various Christian beliefs should return to more 'traditional' understandings - though sadly, it is difficult to find much support for such ideas in the words of Jesus Christ. However, the Catholic Church has never found itself bound by the Bible alone - but then, that is another area of large disagreement between Catholics and various Protestant churches.

I do hope none of this basic factual discussion has insulted you personally, or your faith. And if it has, well, sometimes, there are people beyond the realm of civilized discourse. You found this true with a flippant comment (yes, I know, she needs to 'defend' herself in your eyes), and most of the rest of us have found this true with your repeated discussions, including questioning the faith and devotion of various members of your own faith, as they do not share your understanding of that faith.

Something to note, which I have tried to keep in mind since first reading it in a SF novel from Spinrad, is that the first thing a true fanatic loses is a sense of humor, which is a certain indication of that fanaticism.

.. or a pity that you have so little room to consider that she may have a deep, wise faith, AND a sense of humor.

Is it the Bodhisattva that stays back from nirvana so he can be altruistically insulted at perceived slights to someone else's faith?

Go slip on a Banana already!

Suppose I were black, and Leanan had insinuated that I am a n*gger. Would you tell me to "go slip on a banana" then? Not if you didn't want to reveal yourself publicly to be a racist, you wouldn't. Even if Leanan's hypothetical n*gger joke were uproariously funny to those on the site who are racists, very few would consider that a laughing matter. My own grievance is not fundamentally different - not at all.

I have noticed that the gutter language that was hurled my way essentially ceased after I put the spotlight on it, and that for some time now people have been urging me to "lighten up - come on now , appreciate Leanan's sense of humor, for crying out loud; and cut her a break, since she comes from an atheist background, after all."

Well, lots of people harbor racism against blacks because they grew up in the South, where racism is still common; and I am sure many of the racist jokes they tell can be quite funny to those who partake in the same attitude of racism. But I don't think anyone on this site would excuse or condone such racism on either of those counts, would they? Certainly none of the editors would.

Bigotry is bigotry, whether it is directed against Jews, Blacks, or Catholics - and today's episode has revealed to me that there is an awful lot of it on this site that is directed against orthodox Christians in general. No one who has participated in today's rampage of insults against orthodox Christians is any different, fundamentally speaking, than an anti-Semite or a down-home southern racist.

You are making no sense. Christians are not a minority in this country, by all accounts. Talk about insults - equating Christians with real minorities that face real structural racism. As if Christians are some disadvantaged minority...

In fact, Christians have been throwing their weight around, politically speaking, these past few years, to the point of affecting national politics, and enough is enough.

So spare me the victimhood. You've done your bit for the faith today, gotten your martyr points, or whatever it is you're trying to prove. Now just let it go.

Again I say, if you want to claim that you have The Truth, and everyone else is wrong (if not evil!), you can expect some push back. And don't prattle about how "I never said that ..." If you claim the mantle of orthodox Christianity, you know exactly what that means.

PhilRelig wrote:

Suppose I were black, and Leanan had insinuated that I am a n*gger."

You are the one who is outrageous!

Now, below, Darwinian cogently explains why...

(Not that it will matter.)

PhilRelig’s problem

Phil mistakes remarks about his religion for attacks upon people. There is a tremendous difference. He keeps comparing people who make despairing remarks about his religion to anti-Semites and racists. That is totally absurd. Even a child should see the fallacy here. I think my Father’s religion was just down in the dirt stupid. But I loved my father dearly and I understand why he believed such very stupid things as Noah’s flood and the virgin birth. But when I make despairing remarks about his religion it is no reflection on him. Of course it does piss me off that my Dad was so indoctrinated in this religion that he could not understand how dumb many of his beliefs were.

I love Catholics but I think their belief is utterly dumb. I love Jews but I think their religion is stupid. And I know a lot of Jews who feel exactly the same way. It is religion that we keep making despairing remarks about, not those who practice that religion. They are, like my dear departed dad, victims of a malicious mind control system.

Religion is an affliction of the mind. Most of the people of this world have this affliction. The vast majority of them were born into it and indoctrinated almost from birth with their religion. By the time they become adolescents the belief is set like a stone set in concrete. It will be there forever. The Jesuit maxim is so very, very true: "Give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man."

Immature and defenseless children are early indoctrinated with religious ideas by their parents, grandparents, Sunday school teachers, etc. By adulthood they become convinced that they possess the truth, and spend the rest of their lives elaborating and defending their religion.

Ron Patterson

No child under the age of fifteen should receive instruction in subjects which may possibly be the vehicle of serious error, such as philosophy or religion, for wrong notions imbibed early can seldom be rooted out, and of all the intellectual faculties, judgment is the last to arrive at maturity.

There is no absurdity so palpable but that it may be firmly planted in the human head if only you begin to inculcate it before the age of five, by constantly repeating it with an air of great solemnity.
Arthur Schopenhauer
On Education, 1851.

Well said, Ron.

"You attack a belief I hold dear, therefore you attack me! I demand justice!"

I doubt the significance will sink in...

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

Well put Ron. It is so hard to shake off early religious indoctrination.

In a similar vein it will be very difficult for most Americans to understand WHY energy is limited in supply or expensive because from an early age they were born in and grew up in an automobile.

If incredibly intelligent people still cling to fundamental religious beliefs that make no sense then how will ordinary folks grasp the reality of the end of growth in oil extraction rates. Yikes.

I'd like to point an obvious thing. This atheist belief that you somehow "should" save christians from their beliefs, by "shaking them off", that by clearing the indoctrinated minds that their vision is wrong, there's no god at all, and they've been brainwashed to death, and that such visions are the basis to the wars and famines and suffering in general is a very christian thing in itself !!! In the dark ages, christians tried very hard to indoctrinate the pagans with their own light, blaming their false gods for their own misery. Now you try to do the same unto christians. You forget that the world doesn't decide to wage wars because some guy thought god commanded him to do so. Wars are fought for resources.

Why can't we just be nice with eachother?

And ignore Phil already. He's becoming too much in love with his own discussion.

Your first point is misplaced. I don't think anyone is trying to convert Phil to atheism, or agnosticism, or secular humanism or whatever the hell you want to call it. Let him be a Catholic. Someone just please tell him to go pray for us instead of scolding us poor bastards! Tell Phil to read the TOD masthead--it doesn't say "Discussions about the Supernatural and our Future", does it? Crude oil exists (how much, an entirely different matter) and that is enough without bringing in the Milk and Cookies of imaginative wishful thinking.

I just personally believe it is ridiculous that he has to side track TOD threads like this, and that he in essence forces these responses because I am unwilling to let his religious belligerence and intolerance fly through TOD without taking a personal stand against it, as strongly as possible.

This is an open forum as Phil, you and I and everyone else knows... People can judge the merits of the comments from their own perspectives. I would only hope that these
"types" of discussions are very limited as they are superfluous to the overall objectives of this site. Phil's nick is religious, and I state how I feel about the matter by quoting my favorite scientist in my profile--that is all I care to engage in, and Phil's nick is all I wish to know about his religion (I'm pleased to read Phil on other relevant topics, which I have done numerous times outside of this thread...) However I must reiterate, when religious people force the issue, I will stand up. Period.

I used to think that, but I've read some quite convincing defenses of the need for "atheist evangelism", and why it differs from religious evangelism. I don't practise it personally mainly because I don't come across too many believers anyway, and even if I did I'm not sure I'd be very good at it.

Suppose I had added you to todban last night, then I wouldn't have wasted time reading such a weak argument this morning. Juice and crackers is not at all comparable to a religious or racial slur.

We used to get tracts, from Christians, telling us that we were going to Hell because we were Catholic, we believed in works over faith, blah-blah-blah, quoting this, quoting that.

Had these tracts pointed out that our bureaucracy was protecting pederasts, I would have had to admit it, but as shepherds of many religions prey on their flocks, they probably shy away from calling the kettle black. Had they pointed out that we had a bloated upper bureaucracy that lived quite well, I would have had to admit that, too, but as officers of many religions live quite well, that would hardly do.

Lightning struck a steeple here in Baltimore last week, and it burned and collapsed. It turns out that the First Mount Olive Free Will Baptist Church was in foreclosure for two properties, while their Bishop drives a Bentley.

There are a lot of reasons to question Religion and you can't dismiss them as bigotry.

Is juice & crackers not appropriate, considering that's what most churches give out? Instead of the WINE and BREAD that Jesus gave out, instead they're giving out grape-juice and wafers that sure look like crackers to me. Now, mind you, I've been to churches where they actually have WINE and a big loaf of bread that you tear a piece off of, but those are few and far between.

~Durandal (http://www.wtdwtshtf.com/)

'they actually have WINE and a big loaf of bread that you tear a piece off of, but those are few and far between.'

naah. They are secretly Mediterranean Pantheists..:-)


One of the best things about TOD is the complete separation of church and state. On most other sites, (except maybe anti-religious, anti-catholic etc...) I guess you could expect a lot more moral support for your position and you'd probably get it. How dare people disparage what I hold sacred. There are all kinds of politically correct responses that one hears when religious ideas of any kind are questioned or slighted. They all seem very labored and insincere.
Well, the thing is, nothing can be considered sacred under the hot light of reason. And rationality and reason are the cornerstones of this site. Not that everyone agrees with that or practices that all the time :). But that's what's supposed to give this site credibility. So everything is grist for the mill and fair game. So no one should expect anyone to give a rat's ass about someone's personally held belief that things are such and such and so and so. If you make a claim, show some evidence and/or expect to be challenged. No one really has the time to worry about stepping on someone's delicate toes everytime they try to make a point.


I support your viewpoint, igdonp.

I view the discussion following Drumbeat as a science and engineering debate society, and a damn good one at that. Thus I expect to see any and all statements subjected to rational scrutiny and debate ( except mine of course ; )

Here's to narrowing probabilities of facts, as opposed to repeating religious "truths".

Errol in Miami

... hurling gratuitous insults at religious faiths ...

I know just how you feel. Earlier this year, John Michael Greer said I have to take my little plastic Carl Sagan off the shelf and toss it in the recycle bin :(

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

It's been unfinished for decades. It's also one of the biggest tourist attractions in Barcelona, which is probably why they left it lit.

A Basilica is a church designated to be of special significance - generally old and/or beloved. A Cathedral is a church that is the seat of the Bishopric. You'll see a fancy throne somewhere in a cathedral.

Yes, you are supposed to wait until dismissal, but the choir prefers that you join in the final hymn, too.

Even though unfinished, what is there is unique and very beautiful. And they have an excuse: Way back when, it was partially destroyed by ...

wait for it, now



Oh, my. That's just perfect.

It should be pointed out that not all anarchists believe in blowing stuff up.

But many of those who don't tend to walk around trumpeting that it's all going to fall down by itself and hoping somebody else blows it up.

The trick to understanding anarchists is to realize that they are completely screwed unless something catastrophic happens. Otherwise they are left with only the frustrated dreams of their extreme version of perfect justice and happiness.

The world as it has existed for 1000's of years, cannot accommodate their desires. It really is a case of wanting too much.

I believe there is book on the movement with a title to that effect. Haven't read it though.

Phil: Accusing people of bigotry is something you should think about before writing it down. Look at yourself first, don't be self-righteous. Wouldn't that be kind of like Jesus' message?

It's not as if the catholic church invented the blood and body rituals. They come from far older religions that the catholic church in its bigotry (I can play that game) names "pagan". And so do the dates at which Jesus' birth and death are commemorated.

Leanan: It's not a basilica till the pope says so. But that's just the catholic version of the term, they have no monopoly.


The Latin word basilica (derived from Greek, Basiliké Stoà, Royal Stoa), was originally used to describe a Roman public building (as in Greece, mainly a tribunal), usually located at the center of a Roman town (forum). In Hellenistic cities, public basilicas appeared in the 2nd century BC.

After the Roman Empire became officially Christian, the term came by extension to refer to a large and important church that has been given special ceremonial rites by the Pope. Thus the word retains two senses today, one architectural and the other ecclesiastical.

La Sagrada Família (Catalan, 'The Holy Family') is a large Roman Catholic basilica under construction in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. Its formal title is Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família. Antoni Gaudí worked on the project for over 40 years, devoting the last 15 years of his life entirely to this endeavour. On the subject of the extremely long construction period, Gaudí is said to have joked, "My client is not in a hurry." After Gaudí's death in 1926, work continued under the direction of Domènech Sugranyes until interrupted by the Spanish Civil War in 1935.

Parts of the unfinished building and Gaudí's models and workshop were destroyed during the war by Catalan anarchists. The design, as now being constructed, is based both on reconstructed versions of the lost plans and on modern adaptations.

I stand by what I said: Leanan's crack was bigoted and uncalled for, and she owes any devout Catholic who happens to be reading this site an apology. For that matter, she owes ME an apology, since I agree with this particular Roman Catholic belief, even though I am myself no longer a Roman Catholic. Thus, I too feel unjustifiably belittled by her crack.

What exactly is self-righteous about pointing this out, and thus standing up in defense of the piety of Roman Catholics? If someone gratuitously insulted your girlfriend, let's say, would you refrain from confronting such a person and asking for an apology merely because to do so would be self-righteous? I think not.

And you are quite mistaken in thinking that Jesus was the sort of person who refrained from denouncing wrong-doing in the most forceful terms, merely in the interests of being "nice." Just consider Matthew Chapter 23, in which Jesus denounces the Pharisees of his day in the most bruising fashion. Here are a few lines:

23"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

25"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

27"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. 28In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

So Phil, should we refrain from making fun and showing respect of any ritual of any religion, such as the auditing one of Scientology? Why should I respect someone’s irrational belief? And how respectful was the recent edicts by the Popenfuher to turn back the clock before Vatican II?

I think the auditing is pretty cool. :) Awesome brainwashing techniques.
~Durandal (http://www.wtdwtshtf.com/)

Leanan's crack was bigoted and uncalled for, and she owes any devout Catholic who happens to be reading this site an apology. For that matter, she owes ME an apology,

Whatever Phil. It's about you, isn't it? She owes you diddly squat.

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!

What makes you so sure he wasn't talking about you?

Who are you to appropriate his words and use them to your own advantage?

There was a time when the Church ruled the world. It was called The Dark Ages!

Ron Patterson


Its a pity then that the approaching Dark Age is the result capitalist materialism. It appears humanity has tried all its options as the road runs out.

By the way the Holocaust was a wonderful experiment with Darwins theory bringing many advantages to humanity.

Anyone following this thread think that humanity has a chance??

Its a pity then that the approaching Dark Age is the result capitalist materialism. It appears humanity has tried all its options as the road runs out.

It’s a pity that you don’t know what you are talking about.

- The destruction of the natural world is not the result of global capitalism, industrialization, 'Western civilization' or any flaw in human institutions. It is a consequence of the evolutionary success of an exceptionally rapacious primate. Throughout all of history and prehistory, human advance has coincided with ecological devastation.
John Gray, "Straw Dogs"

You wrote:

By the way the Holocaust was a wonderful experiment with Darwins theory bringing many advantages to humanity.

The Holocaust had absolutely nothing to do with Darwinism. Darwin simply described how natural selection worked. That is all, nothing more.

Anyone following this thread think that humanity has a chance??

Absolutely, Homo sapiens will survive. Will civilization as we know it survive? Not a chance.

Ron Patterson

Anyone following this thread think that humanity has a chance??

I must admit, it's threads like this that push me toward the doomer side. And that's why I don't think it's really off-topic. Even here at TOD, we can't discuss politics or religion without people going all pear-shaped. Which doesn't bode well for the future.

Hey, I eat pears and I take offense to that remark! As if being 'pear shaped' is a bad thing...


I'm waiting for the Knights Who Say Ni to show up, and demand that we not use The Word That The Knights Who Say Ni Cannot Hear. ;-)

Sheesh, I wish my wife could appreciate Monty Python!
It definitely helps to keep a sense of humor with threads like this.

If someone gave PhilRelig a shrubbery would he drop this argument??? ;-)

Dear Leanan,

I am preparing to retire for the night, but I would like to take this opportunity to address you directly before I do so. I have a genuine desire to bring this controversy to an amicable conclusion, and I will be forwarding you my private email address shortly, in case you are so inclined also.

I am readily amenable to the possibility that I may have misperceived the tone of your post that launched this entire controversy, and that I may have therefore been off the mark in some of my argumentation over the course of this thread with regard to the true significance of what you said.

But I think it is also very important not to lose sight of the fact that there are larger issues at stake here than today's controversy. It is my sincere and ardent hope that you and the other editors on TOD will also appreciate the necessity - on the basis of today's episode, among other things - of creating a more tolerant space on The Oil Drum for perspectives relating to Peak Oil, etc., that are based on avowedly religious points of view.

The truth of the matter is that we have a lot to contribute - if only you would give us the chance!

With genuine warmth,
Michael (aka "PhilRelig")

Michael - you're two different people. I am responding to the more recently rational one.

Please express in more detail your statement 'I think it is also very important not to lose sight of the fact that there are larger issues at stake here than today's controversy'. I would look forward to hearing your thoughts on that, because, really, how can that be wrong? Give it some thought and post in the future. I expect the (rough) crowd here will give you no slack, but that hasn't stopped you before.

hum, this should be moderated. The church people were the only left who could read and write so we owe them the transmition of the ancien cultures and knowledges..

Phil: I know Jesus personally. He talks to me everyday. He says you are a jerk. He might be right.

See my reply to Darwinian above.

I did, and it seems as if BrianT is correct!

Phil, chill out. This is The Oil Drum, not Atheist.org or smth. Easy with the religion.

I appreciate some of your other remarks that were somewhat in my defense, but I am disappointed by your admonition that I "chill out" - and frankly, I find it somewhat patronizing.

The fact is that the level of intolerance and venom that has been directed toward those of the Christian faith on this site for a long time involves a degree of narrow intolerance and bigotry that rivals that of the most extreme sorts of religious fundamentalists. I regard this as a very serious matter; and I also regard it as a very serious matter when someone of Leanan's stature contributes to the poison by her juvenile insults. Since she is an editor, others on the site naturally feel inclined to follow her lead - straight into the gutter. This is borne out by many of the comments that the present controversy has elicited - which, as far as Leanan herself is concerned, have conveniently shielded her from having to deal with the situation as any mature adult ought to.

Phil: Two points: 1. I do feel somewhat guilty lumping Luis in with you- as his last comment illustrates, he has a sense of proportion and somewhat of a sense of humour 2. You are right about Leanan- we follow her unquestioningly like a goddess (or a witch)-it is all her fault-Forgive them Father for they know not what they do-My biblespeak might not be that accurate-I got most of it from the CAPE FEAR remake with DeNiro. I preferred the first one with Mitchum. You would have loved NIGHT OF THE HUNTER.

Your comments over the course of this controversy undoubtedly take the cake for the sheer level of their venom. If I detect a hint of shame about this in your post to which this is a response (something about which I am not certain), then that is all to the good.

Phil: I think I should lighten up. Venom isn't my intention-it is always a balancing act when you are joking about religion. I am lucky I am only kidding with you-not everybody (or every religion) is as understanding. You can ask Salman Rushdie about that.

"frankly, I find it somewhat patronizing."

"conveniently shielded her from having to deal with the situation as any mature adult ought to."

Pot... Kettle... Black

Let's try to make it clear:

No one on this planet has ever been, nor ever will be, as smug and patronizing as the many religious wack-jobs many of us encounter day to day, be they Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Whatever.

When you consider that we're being told that if we don't believe in what you believe in, we are consigned to burning for eternity in hell, I think you should consider yourself lucky to get by with a couple of fairly low-key insults.

Just take a deep breath, and think about it. What could possibly be more patronizing than someone claiming they have the One and True Answer?

Please look at all of my comments on this thread carefully. I never consigned anyone to burning in hell for eternity. Nor did I ever claim that I have the One and True answer. The question of which religion is the true one, or whether there is even any true religion at all, is not a relevant factor in this controversy.

As I emphasized from the very beginning, Leanan's transgression does not consist in her failure to agree with Catholic belief. It consists rather in her flippant lack of respect for something that many consider to be highly sacred, and is therefore very near and dear to their hearts. It is thus an insult that is akin to telling someone "your girlfriend is fat and ugly."

And I do not consider it patronizing to seek redress for an insult. It is merely what justice requires.

As I emphasized from the very beginning, Leanan's transgression does not consist in her failure to agree with Catholic belief. It consists rather in her flippant lack of respect for something that many consider to be highly sacred, and is therefore very near and dear to their hearts.

Phil, I am deeply insulted. You failed to mention that I, in addition to Leanan, was also rather flippand and lack respect for something many consider deeply sacred. In fact I would put my disrespect for religion on par with anyone's.

I feel completely ignored! I am deeply hurt!

Ron Patterson

I feel completely ignored! I am deeply hurt!

dont worry, another religion will come along in a minute :-)

The question of which religion is the true one, or whether there is even any true religion at all, is not a relevant factor in this controversy.

Um, actually, that is the question--since you are in fact stating that the only reason Leanan's "Cookies and Milk are the body of Christ" clause made you go off into the deep end is because you obviously think you are right (which is absurd, but thus goes religion.) Well, I've got news for you, a lot of others don't think you are right--and we will voice ourselves.

You write about "controversy" and "transgression"?... Well, isn't that quaint. Yeah, all a variety of your very own! Aren't you proud. Perhaps next you will suggest that we "teach the controversy". Shame? You are shameful. Go pray for us and please stop deploying your unimaginably weak arguments of banality in defense of your feel-good superstitions. Offending religious people is the least of my worries here at TOD, particularly if one chooses to make it a point to spout an asinine displeasure at mere jokes and then only to disengenuously claim that their arguments aren't about "truth". Yeah right! Why would you get so touchy if this wasn't about "truth" (or for that matter, what you "faithfully" believe is "truth"...)


My family has been Protestant for four hudred years. I'm descended from both Puritans and Mennonites, people who came to this continent so they could be just as bigoted and small minded as they wanted to be.

I'm an Episcopalian. We're the people who can't play chess because we can't tell a Bishop from a queen. Mainly, we don't care what you believe, we just don't want you to tell us about it. And, no matter what you believe, you can probably find another Episcopalian who believes that too. Bishop James Pike was an atheist!

I want to vouch for Leanan. She is a person who has no religeon-its not in her family tradition. I doubt she meant an insult to Catholicism, or Christianity in general, and I didn't take it as an insult. You are the one who is taking this as an insult, and that's being thin skinned.

Again, I would like to have Leanan speak for herself as to why she said what she said. Only she fully knows this - though one may make certain inferences based on the tone of her post.

...unlike me, I guess Leanan has learned not to feed trolls. Hmmmm.... I'm just a slow learner.

I guess Leanan has learned not to feed trolls.


And this is not directed at you personally, Odysseus, it's just a convenient place to park a general reminder...

Remember, folks, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Continue to beat this horse until there's nothing left but a faint residue of equine DNA if you must...in this thread. Attempts to move it over to the new DrumBeat will be deleted.


And I do not consider it patronizing to seek redress for an insult.

There was no "insult" except as you construed one -- mistakenly so!

As a self-professed "heathen," Leanan described an experience of hers in which she very accurately and simply descibed a ritual that has no meaning to her. Ergo there was no ill-intent in such a description on her part.

I'm quite sure that had she wanted to offend she would of done so in a way that was unmistakable in intent!

The problem here is entirely with your insecurity about any such perception of slight.

It is merely what justice requires.

What a load of bullocks! If anything, a just requirement would be your apology for taking offense where there was none, making such a stink over your own insecurities, and dragging us all along for the ride.

Expecting some form of personal justice here for your own failings is a real hoot.

Apart from the demeaning phrase she used, the tone of her remark did not give evidence of any esteem or respect for something that is precious and sacred to many - to say the least. And it was also laced with a noticeable element of mocking contempt. I consider such a tone to be quite callous and uncivil.

Of course, if I have in any way misconstrued her intent by misinterpreting the tone of her language, then I am open to being corrected - but only by her, not by anyone else claiming to speak on her behalf, who cannot know what they are talking about. Being corrected by her in this way also assumes that she is capable of genuine emotional honesty.

I note that she has finally resurfaced on this thread in a couple of brief comments, lamenting the chaos for which I am supposedly responsible on this thread today; but she is still hiding behind her phalanx of defenders - some more honorable in their defense of her, some much less so.

I also think the editors need to do something to stem the tidal flood of intolerance of religion that has, obviously, become very much dominant on this site.

I do want to say, though, that none of this is intended to impugn her efforts with regard to collecting articles and links day after day for the DrumBeat, which I also appreciate greatly, along with many others who visit TOD.

You sound like an immature, spoiled child. If you still believe in sky fairies then that is your perogative, but please don't insult us adults by subjecting us to your unreasonable demands. Grow up.

Unlike your own hurling of accusations without any connections to the facts, and without any semblance of reasoned argument, I back up the accusations I have advanced with hard evidence and reasoned argumentation. Please refrain from your unfounded slurs until you have thoroughly examined the reasons I have advanced my accusations, and until you are in a position to mount a cogent argument against them. By failing to so refrain until you are sufficiently cognizant of the facts, you reveal the irrationality of your own assertions.

Phil - By now you've demonstrated quite well you're no catholic in practice, and indignation is clearly a game you play and enjoy. Leanan offended no one; you don't speak for me or any other catholic, so don't go throwing the weight of anyone but yourself around.

You have a problem. It's too bad too many have indulged you - john

Cheers* to that! I raise my coffee cup into the air and acknowledge I have sinfully indulged this fruitless escapade.

I also think the editors need to do something to stem the tidal flood of intolerance of religion that has, obviously, become very much dominant on this site.

Religion should never be tolerated. Not on this site, not on any site.

But you go ahead and eat the flesh from your zombie king. Maybe your sky wizard will magic you up some fresh oil and we can all get on with our lives.

In saying that "religion should never be tolerated," you reveal yourself to be as narrow-minded and intolerant as the worst sort of Christian fundamentalist. Your explicitly stated intolerance is in fact a mirror-image of their intolerance for irreligion.


Get back to me when anti-theists are damming souls to eternal torture for something as simple as being gay.

I suppose it's probably worth distinguishing between "religion in general" and "discrimination and hurtful actions based on extreme religious beliefs".
In that the former doesn't necessarily lead completely inexorably to the latter, there is some room for "tolerance" of it. More to the point, specifically refusing to tolerate religion at all isn't likely to be helpful in the long run - Stalin demonstrated that reasonably comprehensively.

I suppose it's probably worth distinguishing between "religion in general" and "discrimination and hurtful actions based on extreme religious beliefs".

Have you read "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins or "God is not Great" by Christopher Hitchens?

It's pretty clear there is no distinction.

I'm quite familiar with both authors (what serious atheist isn't?). I also know a number of people with essentially unobnoxious religious beliefs, who keep it very personal with no attempt to evangelise, or foist their particular world-view on anyone else. I don't see any point in refusing to tolerate their religion.

Do they vote?
Do they support their church?
Do they teach their childrem about their religion?

None that I know vote on the basis of their religious beliefs. None attend church regularly (maybe once a year, at Christmas - note I used to attend church weekly, singing in various church choirs. It only reinforced my opinion of Christianity.). At least one does teach their child about their religion - and indeed, I intend to teach our child about religion too. But we all indoctrinate our children, knowingly or otherwise, with all sorts of illogical belief systems, and I don't see the very mild, private version of religious belief that I'm talking about as essentially worse than most of the other misplaced ideologies we grow up with.

Doesn't sound like very much of a religion.

Stalin and mass starvation in the Ukraine because farmers refused to go along with collectivism.


1. In Phil's quest for vindication, he has spent an incredible amount of time reminding us all of the hilarious ("insulting", "demeaning") remark that Leanan made, thus fueling his own state of being offended and also keeping the "juice and crackers" meme alive and well. This might be why Joshua Bin Josef suggested turning the other cheek.

2. "We're Christians, and we don't like what you said!"
"Then forgive me."
-- Bill Hicks

3. If the gods had wanted people to be able to criticize the gods themselves, they'd have given people intellect, opinions, and voiceboxes.

4. I, too, was a Christian until I reached the age of reason.

This is the best comment on this "controversy" thus far.

710, I present to you the TOD Hall of Fame Gold Medal for Brevity and Substance.

Good job summarizing this misplaced theological frolic-of-his-own episode that I hope TOD doesn't have to veer off into again due to an angry religious person's protests against free speech and, incidentally, humor--as it usual goes, unfortunately...

Don't forget, my favorite, the ludicrous "transgression".


I didn't mean that you, personally, in this particular thread, claimed this or that. (Although, if you are Catholic, you didn't really have to, did you?)

The point of my post was that you should try to understand the kind of arrogant, smug ,supercilious stuff that is dished out by religious people quite regularly, and not be surprised when some folks have simply had enough. If anything, we've been overly indulgent.

As far as seeking redress for an insult... I'd say just grow a thicker skin. You wouldn't believe the insults I've gotten from "religious" folk. Scathing stuff. Just so you know where these things come from...

Frankly, I think you're being a bit silly by talking about the "demands of justice", and "redress for an insult". This is a discussion thread - just let it go!

Why is it that all you religious types find it so easy to be offended? Muslims. Jews, Christians all seem to feel they have a divine right not to be offended or insulted.

Critcise Israel for being a bully and you are an anti Semite, Try doing a cartoon about Allah and see what happens. make a harmless joke about your rituals and you go into a major snit.

Incidentally how is it that G-d is always on both sides in any war? I cannot recall any conflict between various branches of atheism or agnosticism that ended in loss of life

I think that it is rationalism that is under attack and needs to be defended

Sorry, I have no sympathy for your hurt, get over it.

I cannot recall any conflict between various branches of atheism or agnosticism that ended in loss of life

Germany vs. Soviet Union

Also the unprovoked war of aggression by Germany against various nations and Soviet Union vs. Finland.


Good point Alan

However I would have thought the war between Hitler and Stalin was economic, political, territorial, and expansionist, not a fight about which G-d they did not believe in.



Fascism supported by nationalistic mythos vs. communism with official atheism and universalism.

The way that they did not believe in G-d was in violent conflict

Belief systems at war.


Josef Mengele had a PhD in Anthropology.

Well Its interesting that until Hitler launched Barbarossa
there was a Soviet-Nazi pact in place, So up to the moment osf the surprise German attack their belief systems had been getting along just fine, No violent conflict there then.

The reason Barbarossa was launched was in no small part in order to gain control of the oilfields and indeed they captured Maikop. What failed the campaign was Hitlers absurd conceit about capturing Moscow. That and the Russian winter in which a Blitzkrieg army was ill equipped to fight.

To me, the Nazi system was religious, based on the old pre-Christian Germanic beliefs, but probably somewhat distorted. Certainly Hitler wasn't appealing to their rationality, but rather to their sense of group - ein volk, ein reich.

James Gervais

You are basically correct, but the involvement of both the Catholic and Lutheran Churches in 'allying' with National Socialists in the sense that the enemy of my enemy is my friend is one of the more sensitive areas in recent German history.

As was apparent when the newly selected German Pope suggested that a small band of criminals was responsible for Germany's crimes during that time, thus seeming to close the book in his eyes on all those bishops and priests that were fervent supporters of many goals of National Socialism, especially the ones concerning eliminating communism and removing Jews from society (for the sake of balance, most religious figures most certainly did not support the mass murder of millions of human beings - but many did support various measures such as property confiscation or rules forbidding Jews from schools or holding government positions). Seeing a picture of a bishop wearing a swatiska on his robes, giving a Nazi salute, is truly eye opening the first time you encounter it.

However, it is definitely true that in both Nazi Germany and the Stalinist Soviet Union, religion was strictly subordinated to the goals of the state, and that neither ideology was based on religion.

Atheism kills just fine on its own without resorting to wars. You should read up on Stalin's killings which even exceeded Hitler's, or Mao's killings which numbered in the tens of millions. Homo sapiens, regardless of whether religious or not, has been a violent creature throughout its existence.

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

Yes GZ, I concede that one

The point I was trying to make was that while many Holy wars are fought because the opposing side does not worship the true faith, (and many have died for that notion.) The prime causes between the the opposing sides in non-religeous wars are factors other rather than their mutual disbelief.

In other words Atheism or Agnosticism are not a factor as religeous beleifs are in Holy Wars, The old territotial, and economic factors are often the driving force and ,yes, results are no less terrible, but it is not a battle about mystical belief

I am agnostic, That is to say I have no problem with the idea of a G-d. I just think it cannot be proved either way,

I do have a problem with with religion and the men and women who attempt to enforce their notions on the rest of society and who claim to be insulted at every turn.and will actually kill you for it (see fatwah) thats all very man-made and I have no respect for that stuff at all.

And as for the good that the churches do with the poor and sick, agreed. but then many secular organisations do a similar thing and dont claim to be doing anything holy or special because of it

I wish it were true, but unfortunately Stalin, Mao Zedong and Pol Pot all at various points used what was essentially an atheistic ideology as an excuse to kill off what they saw as unwanted threats to their power base.
Of course, their ideology went further than "pure" atheism (= lack of belief in gods), and extended into out-right anti-theism (because they saw theism as a threat to their communistic/Marxist ideology). But I profess to having an anti-theistic streak too, even though it risks putting me in the same boat as bloodthirsty dictators. Mind you, my grudge is mainly against God himself, should he actually turn out to exist, rather than those who believe in him.

Yep all that you say is true but there are evil bastards everywhere, Not all atheists are Pol Pot and not all Muslims are terrorists.

That is to say the huge majority of Muslims are peaceable people who would recoil from terrorism just as I would recoil from Stalin. Mao Zedong, or Pol Pot

a belief system should not be judged simply on extremists

Sure, but if there is a tendency of a particular ideology to produce extremists, then there are grounds for criticizing the ideology itself. On that basis, I accept that anti-theism is a potentially dangerous ideology, even though it fundamentally appeals to me.

"And I do not consider it patronizing to seek redress for an insult. It is merely what justice requires."

Phil, I think your reaction would be shared by many people. And that is a shame.

What is this justice you speak of? Ah, the flippant use of a word that is used to justify (being from the same root word) the actions of revolutionaries and tyrants alike!


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

Phil appreciate most of your comments and understand the frustration that many on this site find it necessary to demean people's religious preferences. I don't believe Leanns comments were mean spirited but what followed was. Time to turn the other cheek and realize that its easier for some to indict all people of faith because not everyone that claims to be religious is perfect. That some of mankind has found ways to prevert religious teachings into selfish actions for virtually all recorded history is true. Because of this I guess any person of faith is now guilty of those crimes by association. Seems a bit extreme to me but how do you argue with that kind of logic? While I find that criticism is readily thrown out at Christians I wonder are the critics aware of whose people feed the hungry, cloth the unclothed, shelter the homeless, provide to the needy, and heal the sick. Look around and you will find the answer. Are we perfect? no..most of us are work in progress. Deserving of continued ridicule...again no.
I would hope at this site that respect for personal beliefs could be exempted from personal attack because you personally disagree with the posters views. I would just as soon leave those discussions off this board as its not the focus here.

A basilica is higher in the church hierarchy than a regular parish church, and is often the seat of a bishop.

There's a difference between a church and a basilica?

All basilicas are churches, not all churches are basilicas. It gets worse: some, but not all, basilicas are cathedrals, and some, but not all, cathedrals are basilicas.

To further complicate matters: "basilica" was originally an architrctural term denoting a type of public building (rectangular with clerestory, to put it simply) developed by the Romans. Once Christianity was "legal", the earliest "official" churches often were built on the same style (or were simply converted public basilica-style buildings). Thus the initial application of the term basilica to church buildings. I suppose it is possible to build a secular building in a neo-basilica style; would such also be called a "basilica"?

Any RC TODers can correct me if I'm wrong, but it is my understanding that "basilica" is a term awarded by the Vatican to church buildings that are of important historical or architectural significance.


The term 'basilica' has architectural meaning.


Two quotes from August issue of The SUN magazine that seem to sumarize the long thread today:

"Cars today are almost the exact equivalent of the great Gothic cathedrals: I mean the supreme creation of an era, conceived witht passion by unknown artists, and consumed... by a whole population which appropriates them as a purely magical object."
-Roland Barthes

"I think God's going to come down and pull civilization over for speeding."
-Steven Wright

A fun picture that illustrates the situation in Barcelona, blackouts and politics mix well.

As some buildings had power and others don't, someone used a projection device to paint this message in the dark facade of an unlit building: "Montilla light the bulb" (as you can see, "bombilla", the Spanish word for light bulb, rhymes with "Montilla", which is the name of the current president of Catalonia and former secretary of industry and energy in the Spanish government)

My ASPO Presentation

No Oil Needed

Hope this does not spoil it for anyone (still working on draft). Do not read if you want the full impact Oct. 19th in Houston.

I also want to be a poster at ASPO (provide more specific, take home information as a poster).

Action is needed on mitigation. Action is prompted by emotions more than logic (although logic is needed for support of the actions).

I have been tuning my speech for logic with a strong emotional punch. Many who understand Peak Oil are, quite frankly, scared. I want to provide a path "out" (Yes, not enough of a path, but we need to start on a partial solution NOW !) with the fear providing some of the motivation to DO SOMETHING WORTHWHILE !

I have been working to "tune" the presentation emotionally. Entice with a bit of an implied "over promise" No Oil Needed, give a series of "amazing" facts (all true BTW), show that others have done this, and then a final surprise/shock !

*WE* did it before !

I picked 44 star US flag to announce surprise. This symbol looks both familiar and strange, which helps break through defenses and opens people up to new concepts.

I am, quite frankly, aiming at a standing ovation. This group affirmation will resonate emotionally and imprint the message.

Attached is my draft outline (framed around the Power Point slides).

Slide “Oil Not Required”
What y’all worried about ? Oil disappearing ? No need to worry (joke)
And no “Just in Time” Technology Fairy required !

Slide - Map of Switzerland 1945 (6 Year 100% Oil Embargo ?)
1/400th USA per capita use by 1945

Slide - Fake Newspaper Headline “USA Joins OPEC
Switzerland 1948 – If USA had same per capita consumption
Rest of my talk is how to move towards Swiss 1948 levels

Slide – “20 to 1
20 BTUs Diesel or Gasoline for 1 BTU electricity end use
Good for Global Warming

Slide - US Railroads that looked at Electrification in 1970s
Electrify Freight Railroad
Few Drops of Lubricating Oil to get from UK to Pacific

Slide – Map of Miami Urban Rail Plans
Washington DC Metro 4% to 40% Public Transit Commuters
More savings indirect thru TOD than direct. 90,000 barrel/day oil field that NEVER depletes, only grows
Miami needs 25 years to build – WHY ?

Slide - Map of US Railroads that looked at Electrification in 1970s
Minimum case USA reduce oil consumption at rate of 1.5%/year
Maximum Case – Elasticity of Supply – Worse things get, more rail & bicycles can do

Slide - Switzerland Voted to Spend $1 Trillion on Improved Rail
Adjusted for Currency and Population (31 billion Chf)
#1 Goal switch freight from heavy trucks to hydroelectric rail

France is Creating non-oil transportation system top to bottom

Slide - Map of EU High Speed Rail
TGV we all know, more regular speed passenger rail

Slide of Paris Rent-a-bike
10,000 Rental bikes today, 10,000 more on the way

Slide – Map of France with 5 towns >100,000 without trams or plans for one

Slide – Map of France with two towns under 100,000 with trams

Slide – Map of France with all trams
Build new tram lines in 3 to 4 years, Lyon two lines in 3 years 5 months
Mulhouse pop 112,000, first tram in 2006, three by 2012 – More than Houston
Slide – Map of Grenoble Rail
Goal is Bicycle and Tram Transportation System for average person

Slide of Madrid Metro
City of 3.4 million, less than Houston
-88% built in last 17 years
Blue line stats 40 km in tunnel, 1.1 billion euro, 4 years

Slide – “In Just Twenty Years”

Most Amazing Example
Slide - Developing nation, 3% of USA 2006 GNP, <100 million people

Slide – 20 Years - subways in largest cities - streetcars in 500 cities towns and villages

Slide – 44 star USA flag underneath “1897 – 1916”

Slide – Workmen in 1907 photo laying track with horse beside them

We did it before … With Coal … Mules ,,, And Sweat
We CAN do it Again !

Any comments or suggestions ?

Best Hopes,


Great Job! Since the presentation is going to be in Houston, I hope you have some comments on the Houston Metro light rail plan. Like Miami, its going to be on a twenty-five year schedule and has been funded by an election and a sales tax, but its needed immediately. I've got an old friend working on the ROW purchase.

Here's hopes we can get the same light rail we tore out in 1936! I want a light rail to Galveston again, and an expansion of our small system here.Bob Ebersole

Comparisons to Houston will be mostly unfavorable. By 2012, Mulhouse France (pop 112,000) will have about as much light rail as Houston will have in 2012.

And Madrid (pop ~3.2 million) has built a staggering amount of Urban Rail in the last two decades ! One "bypass" semi-circular line is 40 km (24 mile) long ALL IN TUNNEL, built for 1.1 billion euro and construction took 4 years.

But of course, we have American bureaucrats and they have French and Spanish bureaucrats >;-P



Please make the unfavorable comparisons. The people need to be awakened in Houston to the reality, and I'm sure you can be both diplomatic and forceful.

I'm hoping that since the mayor will be there plus several congressmen, and at least one presidential candidate that you can get some real publicity. The hundred dollar oil prediction a few days ago has really shaken some people up-look at the number of posts on TOD.

I heard that ASPO is trying to set up a presidential debate on energy, and I'm excited about going. October 17-20th, Houston.

And, I modestly claim expertise in cheap ethnic overeating opportunities in Houston. See you there!


I will be taking Amtrak to Houston (runs every other day) and I was wondering whether to arrive October 15th or 13th (10 PM). I can help Nan Hildreth get things together on the 16th for the conference (she is in charge of volunteers in you want to help). If I came in on the 13th we could have more time to talk, and sample out-of-the-way ethnic restaurants :-)

Best Hopes,


My eMail is in my profile

Bob, did you see the photos of the new Miami light rail cars? They are water tight and fitted with snorkels...

I am, quite frankly, aiming at a standing ovation. This group affirmation will resonate emotionally and imprint the message.

Not to mention imparting a well-deserved sense of satisfaction and accomplishment to the presenter!

I like the minimum and maximum case approach. Presenting a range of scenarios is more professional than just advocating a single path. It shows a deeper and more flexible understanding of the forces that will influence the future. Also, people like having a choice.

Alan, here in Barcelona, a new bycicle rental service has gone from zero to 60.000 users in less than three months.

It is called bicing. You pay 24€ year and you can use a bycicle for half an hour for free. Each half and houre extra costs 0,30€ and there is a 2 hour limit. There are 100 automated stations throught the city, you use your smart card to take and park the bycicle, the idea is to use it in combination with public transport or alone, as a "point to point" transport (that's why using the bycicle for more than 2 hours is penalised with 3€).

From Monday to Thursday the service runs from 5 am to 12pm and weekends is 24hrs!

BTW, the blackout affected the power supply of the automated stations... some aren't working yet (small photovoltaics panels should be mandatory there!)

It's a brilliant idea! Please, keep updating info on how that thing is working!


Aren't you concerned there'll be a level of anti-European backlash? The idea of turning the USA into Switzerland or France doesn't strike me as one that will appeal to many, even among those that need convincing the most.

I'm probably least qualified to comment, but I would think that perhaps more emphasis on "American know how" and past examples of Americans achieving the seemingly unachievable might resonate more.

Thus my last example, the surprise, is what the USA did from 1897 to 1916 (a story few know). I use a 44 star US flag to spring the surprise. 13 stripes, blue field in corner, but the stars look "funny".

Actually, I am hoping for a bit of American chauvinism (named for Marshall Chauvin, one of Napoleon's generals) by some; "DAM, those frogs can do it ! We sure as he111 can too !"

Best Hopes,


Do you think you run the risk that if you make it seem too easy to build rail, that the politicians will think (if not speak) that they can then ignore the option, as it will always be there as a quick fall-back position?

Which leads to the political question... of how to execute a long term plan (for electrification of transport) when times are good and gasoline is flowing freely? Privation is not a well known concept in these days.

Never heard, "Marshall" before. I read in high school that he was a nasty French bureaucrat, but wiki says he was just a soldier, perhaps even mythical:


"... the term "chauvinism" was coined as a term for excessive nationalistic fervor."

Total net imports (crude + product) are up 1.0% YTD, says today's EIA report. If there is an export crisis, the USA is outbidding everyone else. Gotta keep your 5% population consuming 25% of the petroleum - it's non-negotiable!

Big mess in Dallas. A business that sells LNG had some of their inventory explode. Big explosions, shrapnel flying everywhere. They've had to close the interstates near downtown Dallas.

It's probably LPG (propane).

You can watch real time video: http://www.nbc5i.com/news/13751997/detail.html

They said it was liquified natural gas on CNN, but it wouldn't surprise me if they were wrong. It's a welding supply store, apparently. A truck loaded with oxygen tanks caught fire, and set everything else off.

Yeah, Channel 8 is reporting that it is primarily acetylene tanks that blew up.

This was a comment made yesterday on Drumbeat:

I think that LNG is the best bridge technology while we convert to electric vehicles and trains.

If, in fact, we start using more LNG, we are going to have to learn how to prevent explosions.

According to the local news (e.g. wfaa.com) It was acetylene, used for welding. I am almost positive that the AP story used the incorrect term.

Tony Meggs, BP Group VP for Technology isn't at all worried about that 2nd trillion barrels, he is now looking for the third trillion. Tony knows that technology is up to the task, due to many miracles that include horizontal drilling, miscible gas injection, and 4D seismic.

Look at Prudhoe Bay! We've recovered 60% of the oil there, and there's more where that came from. Never mind that Prudhoe Bay's production has been declining for many years now. The glass is still half (uhhh, 40%) full. Worry warts like me should seek therapy and cheer up, life is good!

Tony is relaxed, nattily-dressed, self-assured, confident, a man-about-town (but only on the road!), an engineer's engineer — as only a highly paid executive who knows he's going to keep his job can be. Look at that winsome smile! Tony is not a paid flack, a toady, a propagandist, a brown-nose! Tony truly believes in oil field recovery technology, and knows that he can make it work. The value of BP stock shares is always secondary, NO!, tertiary, in his mind. Family first, technology second, money third, that is Tony's motto.

These are Words to Live By.

Tony knows that we will find lots more oil in the Arctic, after that inconvenient ice has melted away, and in the ever-deeper water — but not on the deep ocean floor, he admits. Still bioscience will soon make biofuels easy and cheap, there's nothing a little gene-splicing can't do. Better living through chemistry, too, for "chemical process engineering, will be the major factor in enabling the conversion of any carbon source into useful energy products. Improved understanding of subsurface chemistry will also help us to get more oil out of the ground." Any carbon source. Don't you scoff, you skeptics — Tony means what he says and says what he means.

Tony knows that things will work out. Don't ask how, he just knows. How wonderful everything will soon be. It's a Wonderful Life! And there's more, because...

The future is digital. Over the next decade or so, most technology will converge in the digital space. Distinctions between classical science and engineering and the IT department will disappear and these skill sets will cohabit in a digital world.
Hang on! Tony has gotten confused! That digital 4-D seismic (that 4th dimension must be Time) has blurred together with his Blackberry, and his adorable son's IPhone. But give the man a break! All this technology, it's just so wonderful, so full of magical power, so life-enhancing, so ... impressive! — anyone could get confused.

And all that sulfur-eating bacteria up there in BP's North Slope pipes that caused that oil spill... well, OK, Mistakes Were Made! Tony knows it won't, can't, happen again.

I'll sleep better tonight knowing Tony is on the job. This peak oil business is so hard, so depressing, so literally unrewarding. Maybe tomorrow I'll take that Burger King job offer, because knowing that my future is in Tony's capable hands makes that job flipping burgers look attractive, somehow. So, I gotta run, you all take care...

PS — Just in case you're interested, you might want to look at my ASPO-USA column Inside the IEA's Medium Term Oil Market Report.

"If the Oil's out there, a Knox Engineer will find it, cause a little time may be all we have left.."

Local Hero - 1982

That digital 4-D seismic (that 4th dimension must be Time) has blurred together with his Blackberry, and his adorable son's IPhone.

Dave, Tony might just be onto something. Think about it: When it comes to looking for oil, we've only really explored three dimensions. I'm no mathematician, but my understanding is that one can mathematically define an infinite number of dimensions.

Think of all the oil that must exist in those other dimensions. Try not to drool on yourself...

Hyperoil. Unfortunately we'd have to store it in tesseracts.

This very blog is an examination of that fourth dimension. The reservoirs, of course, are finite in this dimension as well as the other three.

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

You should know better. We, the rational ones, always knew that when we got to digital selfs, we would stop to have material needs. All we need is a plug where we can be uploaded into a completely beautiful landscape of opportunities and happiness. All our voyages to exterior planets, conquering galaxies, all will be possible, but hahem, it will be virtual, so we won't need anything for real. Ah! We've beaten mathmatics! We've beaten thermodynamics! We'll have eveything we'll ever need!

Until of course, lack of electric power turns off the computer, poised in front of a dehydrated, malnutritioned dead human body, who thought he could beat the material world inside his own Matrix...



Your "Tony" is GREAT !!!

And I was thinking if only we could get the Disney Corp. to design and construct all our cities and park spaces with Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World" blaring from the PA systems, it would just all be so marvey.

I have no doubt they will find and recover more oil. The much more expensive and harder to get oil. This fundamental seems to get lost on most people. As someone else said, "It's not the size of the tank, it's the size of the tap."

EIA Weekly petroleum report:

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic
Petroleum Reserve) declined by 1.1 million barrels compared to the previous
week. However, at 351.0 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories remain well
above the upper end of the average range for this time of year. Total motor
gasoline inventories increased by 0.8 million barrels last week, but remain
below the lower end of the average range. An increase in gasoline blending
components more than compensated for a slight decline in finished gasoline
inventories. Distillate fuel inventories rose by 1.5 million barrels, and are
near the middle of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene
inventories inched higher by 0.1 million barrels last week. Total commercial
petroleum inventories rose by 4.7 million barrels last week, and are in the
upper half of the average range for this time of year.

Utilization 91.7%

Gasoline imports 1.7 MMBPD

Gasoline inventory up 0.8 Million barrels


At 1,700,000 bpd gasoline imports set a new high last week. But with all that gasoline washing ashore from somewhere else, inventories rose by only 800,000 barrels. Had imports come in at only 1,600,000 bpd instead--which still would have been a record--inventories would have remained flat.

A consumption rate of 9.7 million bpd is simply not sustainable for more than a couple of weeks IMO without retail prices moving back up. Which nations generously cut back so that we could reach new pinnacles of happy motoring?

What about next summer ?

Anyone Anyone ?

Dont' think we need to wait that long (without external disruptions) for problems to become more apparent.

Late this fall will be one moment of pause as we try to fill the gap between the IEA's current production (~86 MMBPD) and their projected demand of 88.5 MMBPD.

2007 will still be the year to test if KSA can pump more.

Of course, economies collapsing, war, hurricanes, meteors..and other unknowns could/will change the outcomes.

Correct our first taste of the real effects of peak oil start this fall but I think we will live through it. Its next summer that the fireworks start since we won't be able to import gasoline like we did this summer so we will have actual shortages.

This fall will be high prices but supply will be available for a price next summer their simply won't be enough gasoline for export to meet demand.

Now as far as refining capacity being a bottle neck obviously right now we can get all the gasoline we are willing to pay for so thats a myth. And KSA is stuffing the channel so to speak by sending crude to the US while refining capacity is down then using the higher crude levels in the US to justify not increasing output.

A lot of people don't realize that KSA is actually actively working to keep the price of crude low in the US without pumping more crude.

I don't see how this game will last into next summer.

One more thing we should begin to see economic collapse start by Jan or so and this will help somewhat lighten demand but more important as the US is forced to declare a real recession and the dollar tanks KSA will be "forced" to cut oil output to maintain pricing levels.

So if they play the game right as the economies tank demand lessens and they work hard to reduce exports to keep the price up. Citing the economic recession and the resulting short lived price collapses as the reason.

The point is we will see a brief collapse and oil prices and thats the only excuse KSA needs but it will in effect be engineered.

Rinse and repeat.

They can play this game all the way down.


I figured it out. The Fed will let the dollar slide increasing inflation until they are forced to raise interest rates. The Fed goal is to preserve the capitol of the wealthy and this means getting interests rates back above the rate of inflation. US housing has been sacrificed for the greater good.

At the same time we will see very tight oil markets and increasing oil prices esp in dollars. So the Saudi's will at some point increase output for a short time as the Feds raise the interest rates. This will crash the price of oil and lead to the excuse that KSA needs to make deep cuts in production to give them a good cushion against decline so they can continue to act as a swing producer albeit at a much lower production level. And increasing interest rates will keep KSA pegged to the dollar for the next few years.

The key to the whole game seems to be to engineer one more collapse in the price of oil thats all they need.

After this the US will probably let the dollar continue its downward slide but the brief boost will buy KSA time to diversify the problem they have is way to many dollars.

Thus the powers that be need one more price collapse for oil.

Memmel, perhaps you are right, but I think Bernake is terrified to raise interest rates above inflation. Ben wishes to avoid stalling the economy into stagnation. Right now there are still some signs of life but to crank up interest rates might flat line it. It is interesting to watch the events unfold...morbid fascination.

The point is they will have to if they want oil. I suspect thats the bargain with KSA that we will at some point crank the interest rates to stop the dollar slide and they will for a short time pump some more oil and tank the price of oil.

Then they cut big time because see we told you so the price dropped. They get a relatively strong dollar for a bit and high prices after they cut back. We get our interest rate up and a short period of cheap oil to stimulate the economy.

Viola instance short term stimulus. But this means the Fed needs a good dose of inflation ASAP so they can increase rates.

I suspect I'm the only one predicting a Fed rate increase this fall and oil below 60 this winter after a mini surge by KSA. Also we will have American refineries at full strength by then.

Thence a massive cut by OPEC "to protect" the price of oil.

Then next summer the real party begins since we won't have enough gasoline for the world. And KSA has from 2008 to 2010 to get of the petrodollar as the US lets it die for real.

So we have one more move this winter before the real end game begins.

Actually gasoline inventories declined this week.... The trusty old blending components...ethanol anyone saved the day and distorted the real picture. Would appreciate any of you experts out there defining what composes the universe of "blending components" Thanks

From the EIA report

Total motor
gasoline inventories increased by 0.8 million barrels last week, but remain
below the lower end of the average range. An increase in gasoline blending
components more than compensated for a slight decline in finished gasoline

Overall, and the last few weeks, have led me (and others) to not distinguish the two, since this weeks excess blending components might turn into substantial excess finished gasoline next week...so far seems to balance out, IMO.

Plenty of great links today as usual.

Before I head out to work,I wonder if anyoneknows more about the natural gas tankexplosions in or near Dallas. I saw a blurb about it on the comcasthomepage when I went online,but there was no real info about the size of the explosion, or about probable cause.

Never mind -- you all posted on it while I wastyping and then away attending to family -- kids & puppy.

Using a novel technology that adds multiple innovations to a very high-performance crystalline silicon solar cell platform, a consortium led by the University of Delaware has achieved a record-breaking combined solar cell efficiency of 42.8 percent from sunlight at standard terrestrial conditions.


Not really earthshaking but cheered up my morning. Maybe someday there will be a practical ultralight vehicle powered by sun shining on its roof! (Perhaps an overgrown bicycle :*)

I am wondering about the complexity of this method. The reason that most solar panes are very inefficient is that they can only absorb efficiently light of a certain wavelength. Light with larger wavelength (less energetic) is completely wasted. Light with smaller wavelength (more energetic) only generates as much energy as target wavelength (wasting extra energy that it packs). They solved it by separating light into 3 different bins first. Each bin can then extract energy from a limited wavelength range. Effectively light first hits a prism and then sent off to 3 different bins. Very simple idea, but might be hard to manufacture items of this complexity at reasonable price.

Even at only 5% efficiency, a solar roof would be preferable to stupid composite shingles. Not really earth shaking either, but these folks have been working on it for decades:


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

so another one to add to the pile? honestly there has been about half a dozen or so, in as many or more years, of these kinds of venture capital ad story's on solar. each one promising Real Soon to have these things for sale/ mass production in a few years.

The article on manpower shortages just points out how ahead of the game Matt Simmons has been. He was writing about a looming shortage of qualified personnel in the oil patch in the mid 1990's. While not all of his short term projections have been on target, his long term projections have been frighteningly accurate.

Every presidential candidate, Republican or Democrat, should now be asked - "If you become President, will you direct the Department of Justice to sue OPEC?"

This is just silly; OPEC countries don't sell oil in the US, so are not subject to any of the anti-trust laws. IIRC, if you want to buy oil from any of the OPEC members, you have to make the purchase in their country, so they are not subject to anyone's anti-trust laws.

Oil Junkies... Jesus freaks hardly have a monopoly plundering middle east oil to drive huge SUVs to their Al Gore rallies.

Russian Gazprom Neft promises to boost oil output 6% by 2010. Also mentioned a current oil production decline.


Therefore, Gazprom Neft will reverse in 2007 the trend of oil output decline and will ensure steady crude production growth

westexas...I think they are thumbing their nose at you with this!! It's a challenge...of course, but 2010, who the heck will remember that they made this claim?

It is interesting that they admitted that their oil production is currently in decline.

As I said before, if Russian crude oil production is currently declining--and recent stories seem to suggest that it is--I expect to see Russian oil exports fall by 50% or so within three years.

In regard to Russian plans for rising production, I am once again reminded of a statement by the Texas State Geologist at an oil industry meeting in Dallas in 2005 (in response to a question from yours truly):

While Texas may not be able to equal its peak production, we can, with the use of better technology, significantly increase our production.

Texas production has declined at a rate of about 4.1% per year since 1972. Note that we are still finding new fields, even in mature regions like Texas. What we can't do is to offset the declines of the old large fields like the East Texas Field.

I am beginning to wonder if so many oil patch types are optimistic about oil production because they are focused on and enthusiastic about the "trees," i.e., their own projects, while not focusing on the forest, i.e., world oil production. Just because I can find small, missed fields in Texas doesn't mean that I can replace the East Texas Field, and I suspect that the Saudis will have the same kind of problem trying to replace the Ghawar Field.

The Texas decline rate, 4.1%, the overall Lower 48 decline rate, 2%, and the North Sea decline rate, 4.5%, probably represent the "best case" range for post-peak decline rates worldwide.

Ace several days ago said:

According to IEA, current Peak Oil (total liquids) is potentially 86.13 mbd on Jul 2006. One year later, production in Jun 2007 was 84.3 mbd, which is a drop of 1.83 mbd or just over 2%/yr. This is a bigger drop than I have forecast! I hope that Jun 2007 was just an unusual month.

Here we are at the top of the plateau just starting to experience decline when it should be at its most gentle and there it is, sticking right in our collective faces...

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

In a reply to me, he used the 85MMBPD as base against the 88.5MMBPD for the fall demand(IEA).

If it is below 85 already and stays there, the gap widens to more than 4MMBPD...shockingly large in such a short time.

Elephant...yep...front row seats...with a eye on the exit :P

I think that Texas oil producers are so optimistic as an ego thing. They've done a wonderful job of providing cheap energy all their lives, and their parents and grandparents did the same. They consider it a patriotic duty, and are justly proud. But, now things are changing very rapidly-the cheap oil is history, and they are being attacked as profiteers and crooks and rapists of the environment, when all they've ever tried to do is work hard and be good citizens.

So the producers strike back. They fund global warming deniers and lobbyists who tell them exactly what they want to hear-the IHS bunch, CERA. They put out reports like the NPC report because it's what they want to hear, and they probably told Cheney that there were only technical problems with supply and it was going to all work out in the secret energy hearings. Its country club groupthink.

Peak oil has blind-sided them, and they truly don't know what to think, so they focus on their latest prospect while telling each other that nothing's wrong.
Bob Ebersole

Good summary. Wouldn't be surprised if it was right on the money.

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

Hello TODers,

Erosion may send Alaska oil wells into the ocean

The BLM has already cleaned and plugged the J.W. Dalton well in 2005 after more than 300 feet of shoreline was eaten away in a single summer. That well, drilled in 1979, is now underwater.

There was sort of a mass failure in terms of the land that just melted away," said Wayne Svejnoha, a BLM scientist, adding the cleanup is expected to cost around $20 million per well.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Totonelia, are the wells you mentioned far enough north to be sited on permafrost? Some of the Inuit villages are moving from their long time locations because the ice is not thick enough to dampen the storms. Consequently, waves are breaking directly on shore lines, melting the permafrost quickly and eroding the land. Some parts of Alaska that are built on permafrost are a mess, power lines are leaning and falling, roads and railroads are heaving, houses are sinking, pipelines are sinking, etc.

Hello River,

Thxs for responding. All I know is what is in the article, and I have never been to Alaska. I have no doubt things are akimbo from the melting permafrost. I thought it was interesting how far and how fast the ocean has move inland with just a slight rise in sea level.

ANWR may need ocean rigs instead of land rigs at this rate.

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

There is permafrost at least as far south of Anchorage. Ugly stunted trees (if there are trees) is a tip off and the general vicinity of Anchorage has plenty of them.

I'm surprised there's no mention in the main Drumbeat about the pipeline break and spill in Vancouver/Burnaby yesterday.

They had to shut the transmountain pipeline (Alberta-BC/Wash) for an unknown time. That's 250,000bpd to the West Coast offline.

Dont know how long or if it's still shut.

Yes, having lots of natural gas, that's pretty sad, indeed. The world is a whole different place when observed through the eyes of an economist.

Natural gas glut foreseen

'It's A Sad Message' For The Canadian Sector, Analyst Says

North American natural gas inventories are building toward last year's glut level but at an even faster rate, dimming hopes Canadian producers, drillers and oilfield service companies, hit hard by soft prices, will see a significant rebound by fall or winter.

Weak natural gas demand and robust supply helped fill U.S.-based stockpiles to about 3.45 billion cubic feet by the end of October last year -- a modern-day storage record.

The result was a major meltdown in natural gas prices last September, and in Canada it meant the continuation of a pullpack in spending among producers.

The continent is charging down the same path during this year's injection season -- the period between March and October when inventories at U.S. and Canadian storage facilities typically climb, said Martin King, commodities analyst at FirstEnergy Capital Corp. in Calgary.

"It could be well into 2008 before we see any kind of sustained uptick in natural gas prices," Mr. King said on a day natural gas prices at major trading hubs in Alberta and on the New York Mercantile Exchange fell to levels not seen since December.

"It's a sad message for the [Canadian] sector, but the more things I look at, that's the way it's trending."

Wow. another day another surprise... But now an upswing

NYMEX is up almost 3.5%. Huge jump. Why? I heard that electronic trading (on CME ?) broke down and trades were done using paper... ?

Is somebody (hedge funds) are playing with prices?

After yesterday, the plunge protection team probably brought in extra help today.

has anyone else noticed that over the past 6 months or so that the Dow and oil prices seem to have become yoked, at least as far as trading on a daily up or down basis? Maybe I'm wrong, or it's strictly coincidental or statistically insignificant, but it does seem counter-intuitive and therefore inherently interesting. My WAG is it has to do with market expectations of inflation/growth.

Here is a link to an incredible video about a dad and his paralyzed son that I just discovered.

http://cjcphoto.com/can/ scroll to the bottom of the page.

True, it is completely off topic and unrelated to oil, however it is such a great video of a dads love for his son I thought it was worth sharing. Sometimes I think we need to balance out the 'doomer porn' and arguements within the drumbeat with something positive. Yes, the music is overtly religous, but that is not why I posted it, I just wanted to share something positive.

I learned about these two about a year ago, and was completely blown away by that display of love. As a father, I find that video to be incredibly powerful

Hello TODers,

I got a kick out of Leanan's toplink on the pipeline explosions in Mexico: how it wasn't a pipeline pinprick, but more a slash to a vital artery. Recall my many earlier speculative posts on how this all goes down.

Gazprom to raise its own private army to protect oil installations

I consider this explosion as just part of the industry marketing campaign for their own security.

But most Americans are riveted on Lindsay Lohan and the crooked NBA referee.

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

Bob, have you seen this?
JOURNAL: Just-in-time Disruption begins in Mexico

"The order to begin a national campaign of punishing the interests of the oligarchy and this illegitimate government has been put in play.." EPR Web site message after the attacks.
Mexico's Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR), a splinter of the original group formed in 96 (in south-west Mexico), blew up a PEMEX 36-inch natural gas pipeline that shut down two auto assembly plants (Nissan/Honda) in Guadalajara. Two other pipelines were shut down (gas and crude oil) affecting the Salamanca oil refinery (domestic production).

The operation was small, and according to the group required eight charges set by small teams in three locations. The charges were set with a time delay (to detonate on the 5th and the 10th in the early morning). Nobody was caught and there were zero casualties. I suspect the returns on investment for the attacks, particularly given their ability to impact just-in-time production facilities, were amazing.

Update: 800 1,200 businesses have been shut down in addition to the gas supply to Guadalajara, Aguascalientes, Querétaro, León y Celaya. The cascade's effects grow...
Update 2: Nissan's Aguascalientes factory produces 1,300 vehicles daily. Honda produces 120 Accord sedans daily. Further, the attack on the natural gas pipeline was on a valve complex (a particularly good systempunkt).


Here is another, same subject. Here is a novel idea, perhaps the corporate globalization pushers might consider locating manufacturing in a country where rule of law still exists. Nah, they would never admit they were wrong.

The successful series of attacks on Mexico's energy infrastructure in early July that disrupted 1,200 business (including several very large Just-in-Time assembly facilities) and refinery infrastructure, was very sophisticated. Not only were the bombs well constructed, the selection of a the targets were excellent examples of systempunkts.
Notes on Method

Instead of attacking guarded facilities, the attacks were made against sections in the pipeline infrastructure that were not guarded (survivability). Timing devices were used to spread the attacks out over a ten day period (repetition). Multiple points of attack on the same pipeline multiplied the scale of the damage and caused fires (one forced the evacuation of parts of a nearby city) that complicated/delayed recovery efforts. Finally, by focusing the attacks on a limited geography critical to three major pipelines, the attack maximized almost all of the following dependencies while limiting the size of the team necessary for the attack:
Input -- material delivered by one network is used by another.
Mutual -- networks that serve as inputs for each other. Example: oil and power generation.
Co-location -- different networks that are located in the same geography.
Shared -- networks that share physical components, transport, or facilities.
Exclusive -- a network that can only support one or few outputs, may be transient.
As a result, there were multiple cascades of failure that swept through large sections of Mexico.
The Dilemma

The immediate impact of this attack, beside the significant economic damage, was to force Mexico to deploy the recently created United Forces for Federal Support to guard energy infrastructure. However, with only 5,000 troops, the force is unlikely to provide any serious opposition to the attackers. The bulk of Mexico's forces are now allocated to an increasingly militarized drug war in the north with narco-guerrillas.

The dilemma is that with Mexico's future as part of the global supply chain at risk, follow-on attacks could quickly put Mexico into a position similar to Turkey in WW1 -- when Lawrence's (of Arabia) guerrilla attacks on Turkish railway infrastructure forced a massive misallocation of forces from the front facing the Brits to infrastructure protection. This dilemma will be exacerbated by the fact that amount of infrastructure that needs to be protected is several orders of magnitude larger and more complex.

Like the US, Mexico is about to find out that playing with war while embroiled in cut-throat global economic competition is increasingly difficult as offensive 4GW gains strength.

link: Global Guerrillas, see above post.

Hello River,

Yep, I check John Robb fairly frequently: he has very good viewpoints. I have no proof, of course, but this could just be a false flag op for the future privatization of Pemex. The spiderweb infrastructure will inevitably shrink to a much smaller defensive size that can be reasonably cost-effectively protected when most Mexicans cannot afford fuel anymore.

I expect the same here in the US eventually. Someone blowing up the pipelines from CA and TX that supply Phx/Vegas will happen, I am just not sure by whom. Being at the end of a pipeline will be precarious in the future.
Another example: if the UK is at the end of the Russian spiderweb, there are a lot of countries that could cause mischief to keep the FFs from reaching the UK.

But, in the larger scheme of things, depletion never rests: sucking on an empty pipeline won't do any good.

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

totoneila and River

Stuff just keeps getting worse in Mexico. I'm not seeing as many documentationaly challenged people at construction sites, mainly because there aren't many construction sites. They been sending a lot of money home for years, so mama and the kids may be getting hungry, especially with tortillas at 6-8 pesos a kilo. Are there fewer or more people at the money transfer stores? That will be the real indicator of hard times.

I think if the wall successfully keeps out immigrants, or the economy here collapses from the mortgage meltdown, we're looking at a revolution in Mexico. if you didn't notice, it said the Army was busy with the drug gangs in the north. And, if that happens, bye bye Mexican oil exports. 2 1/2 mbopd will put a real crunch on the system, we're looking at $100 oil for sure.


russian pipeline go boom early this morning .

I've been reading through all these comments on the economy and the gutting of our manufacturing base but it seems to me that once the North American Union is in place, then we will have lots of ultra-cheap labor and more access to Canadian energy to rebuild the manufacturing base. Yes, I'm being somewhat sarcastic because I have no idea what will happen to *me* as all this unfolds but am I wrong?

anyone here from lower Kentucky? email me. I have some questions.

I'm finally giving up on Drumbeat after this thread. I still think that religion and politics should be off limits on TOD, they always generate this kind of useless verbiage. There is very little useful discussion to be found in all this. Not worth wading through

(Edit: I meant to put this on previous page, obviously.)


Maybe TSHTF isn't in the cards for Mexico just yet, but TS backing up is considered highly eminent in Mexico City:

Sewage Spill Looms as Mexico City Mayor, President Cast Blame

July and August are the crucial months, when most of the area's 76 centimeters (30 inches) of annual rainfall occurs. Calderon warned that the city is on the brink of ``catastrophe.''

He isn't exaggerating, said Jose Ramon Ardavin, deputy director of the National Water Commission. Location, soaring population and crumbling infrastructure combine to put the city at risk.

A failure in a single section of the main drainage canal could flood 210 square kilometers (80 square miles) and require the evacuation of 4 million people, according to an Inter- American Development Bank report.

``The question is not whether a catastrophe is going to happen, but when is it going to happen again,'' said Exequiel Ezcurra, former head of Mexico's National Institute of Ecology. ``It's a predicted catastrophe,'' he said.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?