DrumBeat: July 27, 2007

Oil Prices Close One Penny From Record High

Light, sweet crude for September delivery rose $2.07 to settle at $77.02 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The highest-ever settlement price for a front-month contract was $77.03 a barrel, set July 14, 2006.

Chevron's earnings rise

Chevron Corp. said Friday its second-quarter earnings rose due to higher profits from its refineries and the absence of year-earlier charges.

Net income in the quarter increased to $5.38 billion, or $2.52 a share, from $4.35 billion, or $1.97, last year.

Warren Buffett sells 16.9 mln shares in Hong Kong-listed PetroChina

Businessman and global investor Warren Buffett has sold 16.9 mln shares in PetroChina Co Ltd, reducing his personal stake in the Hong Kong-listed Chinese oil company to 10.96 pct from 11.05, PetroChina said in a filing with the stock exchange.

The unintended consequences of the ethanol quick fix

The push to increase ethanol production and ease dependence on oil has created a price runup in fuel and food prices.

Bombing of Mexican Pipelines Puzzles Security Experts

At first, some thought the explosions may have been caused by accidents, but investigators at the bombing sites in north-central Mexico found evidence of sophisticated explosives, and a leftist insurgent group from southern Mexico, the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) claimed responsibility. President Felipe Calderon pledged to protect the infrastructure of the state-owned energy company, Petroleos Mexicanos, called Pemex for short, and he dispatched military units to patrol various pipeline routes.

But the attacks remain a mystery, and speculation continues as to who was really responsible. The EPR had never ventured that far north before and never appeared to have access to the explosives and bomb-making skills that were employed in these attacks.

Mexican Company Predicts End of Oil

Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) announced that oil reserves may run out in seven years.

"Supplies of this economically exploitable resource are running out," informed a report sent by the state owned company to the United States stock market.

Peaks, Plateaus and Premonitions

The main questions were generally the same: "Wouldn't the effects of peak oil take years to be felt? This would suggest that we would see a powering-down over time rather than an overnight panic."

I gave them the positive answer first . . .

"I hope." The truth is that we have no way of knowing how people will react.

However, I think history can give us some examples. We know how people reacted to the stock market crashing almost seven decades ago.

Granted, circumstances were different back then. Let's take a look at a more relevant event . . .

Crash Homes on Brazil Infrastructure Woe

Aviation chaos, unpaved highways and the threat of energy rationing point to perhaps Brazil's greatest challenge in its quest to become an economic superpower: How to upgrade its overburdened infrastructure.

The government is planning to spend billions of dollars in coming years to modernize and expand strained roads, power plants and ports in a bid to accelerate growth in South America's largest economy.

But decades of infrastructure neglect, due to years of economic instability in the wake of the Latin American debt crisis of the 1980's, will not be quickly remedied. The strain, in some cases, is having disastrous consequences.

Profit from Oil's Next Surge

I have bad news: If you think oil prices are high now, you ain't seen nothin' yet. The good news is that you can profit from oil's next move. That should help you pay your soaring bills when gasoline accelerates past $4 a gallon. More on that in a moment. First, let's talk about why energy prices are on the move.

Roller coaster ahead for oil prices

Analysts are predicting that global demand for oil could exceed supply by as soon as 2015. However, the situation is not quite as simple as the newspapers make out. First, the world isn't running out of oil; it's running out of cheap oil. Canada alone has an estimated 180 billion barrels of recoverable oil, enough to meet global demand for the next century or so.

The problem is, you can't run your car off oil in the ground. The global oil shortage is a refining problem, not a lack of resources. As oil becomes harder to extract, it becomes more expensive. As oil becomes more expensive, major oil users will look elsewhere for energy, or simply reduce their energy use. Oil will remain a major global energy source for the foreseeable future, but only where there is no economic alternative.

South Africa: Strike could 'cause fuel shortage'

An indefinite strike in the petroleum sector might result in a shortage of fuel when Ceppwawu members go on strike next week, the union said on Friday.

Looming drought may bring water, power outages to Philippines

Falling water levels had affected the operations of hydroelectric dams that provide power to metropolitan Manila and surrounding areas, forcing the state-run National Power Corp. (Napocor) to introduce daily three-hour outages which started Wednesday, the firm said.

BANGLADESH: Power Plants on Rental Basis

Most of the leading dailies have reported about a tender notice of Bangladesh power cell seeking proposal for prequalification about supply of rental power plants published with 14 days notice. Dailies have rightly questioned about the very short notice for such power plants.

As Cheap Oil Ends, American Standard of Living Will Decline

“Americans are delusional,” began James Howard Kunstler, speaking to the investment conference we are attending here in Vancouver.

“They think they can continue living the way they’ve been living for the last 50 years. They think the key to it is to find a way to keep getting fuel. And Vice President Cheney summed up this line of thinking when he said, ‘the American way of life is non-negotiable.’ The trouble is, Americans may not be willing to negotiate. But if they don’t, they are going to find that someone else is negotiating for them. And that someone else is called reality.”

Reading Oil’s Tea Leaves

A recent study from the U.S. National Petroleum Council (NPC), led by former ExxonMobil chairman Lee Raymond, asserts global energy consumption will increase as much as 60 percent by 2030 but assures “the world is not running out of energy resources.” The report says the world is entering an era of tight energy supplies where global oil production could drop to 5 percent below current output by 2030. The Financial Times says the NPC study represents “a defining moment in the history of the global energy industry” crystallizing the “unease about global energy supplies that has been accumulating over the past couple of years.”

The World at $100 a Barrel

Oil prices have surged again, and investment bank Goldman Sachs thinks they have the potential to spike to near $100 a barrel by the end of summer unless Middle East production increases. How would a rise to, say, $95 a barrel affect the global economy?

Weak Dollar Gives OPEC Little Incentive to Up Output

A plunging U.S. dollar gives OPEC's key Middle East members little incentive to pump more crude to ease high prices amid rising concerns about the impact of the weak greenback on their economies.

Americans’ Insatiable Thirst For Energy Must Be Moderated

As you know, many serious problems are associated with our insatiable thirst for energy. The reason is simple: To gain the energy we must burn the fuels. The combustion, by the way quite inefficient, causes huge gaseous emissions polluting the air and forming an invisible screen responsible for the famous " green house effect ", i.e., blocking the dissipation of heat and thus causing the feared warming up of our planet, with deadly consequences for nature and man.

There is only a finite amount of oil in the world. Everybody knows this. Someday, we'll run out. It will be gone.

World Energy: A Slippery Bet

We're gambling on positive hearsay about energy issues, just as we did on global warming.

WoodMac: US Gulf Lease Sales Could Be Biggest in Nine Years

The U.S. government's upcoming sale of drilling rights to swaths of the deepwater Gulf of Mexico has the potential to top $1 billion for the first time in nearly a decade, according to a report by Wood Mackenzie.

The sales, expected later this year, include many newly available blocks in the lower tertiary, an area 150 miles off the coast of Louisiana where no oil is currently produced, but where the energy industry has made several large finds.

Venezuela US Envoy: We Must Be Ready For Gas Nationalization

Venezuela must be prepared for the possibility of nationalization of its natural gas sector, the country's ambassador to the U.S. said Wednesday.

Brazil oil boomtown draws splendor, misery

From Dubai in the Middle East to Maracaibo in Venezuela, oil industry booms have brought luxury downtown, while the numbers of indigent mushroom in worker camps and slums in the suburbs.

Wells Take Voyage to Bottom of the Sea

Standing on the deck of Anadarko Petroleum Corp.'s Independence Hub platform, crew chief Darwin Nichols can't hide his enthusiasm. "You can see everything from here," he marvels.

His view: a computer screen with a spider web of wells, pipes and flow lines used to extract natural gas, all of which are invisible from the platform because the wellheads, pumps, separators and meters distinguishing most petroleum platforms sit on the ocean floor.

Senior Chinese official hints at raising domestic oil price

A higher domestic oil price would benefit China's aim to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, Cao Changqing, an official with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said on Thursday, in the clearest indication yet that the government is considering raising the price of oil.

China's Oil Trio Domestic Exploration Costs Surge - Woodmac

Despite concerns about intensifying competition between China and the West for energy resources, China's listed oil trio increased their spending on domestic exploration and production from 2004 to 2006 by more than their total international expenditure last year.

Biofuel: Power from the poor

On one hand the rising population of millions of people in the world is creating a surge in demand for food and on the other, is the use of food crops as a source of energy in place of oil, the so-called bio-fuels boom.

Texas leads list of dirtiest U.S. power plants

Texas leads the list of having the dirtiest power plants in the United States, while New England and the Pacific Coast produce cleaner energy and less carbon dioxide emissions linked to global warming, an environmental group said on Thursday.

Lawmakers grill EPA chief on Calif. law

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency refused on Thursday to say whether he knew the Transportation Department was lobbying against a California global warming law.

Listen to Earth, Pope Says in Environmental Plea

Pope Benedict said the human race must listen to "the voice of the Earth" or risk destroying its very existence.

The Pope, speaking as he was concluding his holiday in northern Italy, also said that while there is much scientific proof to support evolution, the theory could not exclude a role by God.

The May issue of the IEA Oil Market Report had world oil production at 85.5 million barrels per day in April. The latest July full market report just came out and they have world oil production at 84.3 mbd in June, down 1.2 mbd in the last two months. They blame the drop in June on maintenance in the North Sea and seasonal factors limiting North American output. But they say not to worry because “non-OPEC supply should rebound in July before maintenance again dents August output.”,

They say output from Saudi was lower in June.

A very interesting admission from this IEA report, from page 16:

Original non-OPEC forecasts for 2005 and 2006 proved
over-optimistic to the tune of 1.0 mb/d-plus, or around 2%. Moreover, OECD supply has consistently
come in below initial forecasts for the past ten years. In part, this derives from a prevailing ‘business as
usual’ methodology, with normal operating conditions and on-schedule project completions assumed until
contrary evidence arises. And while the past twelve months have seen non-OPEC annual growth recover
again to around +1.0 mb/d, large risks remain for the 2007-2012 outlook.

They are saying “we were over-optimistic in the past and we may be a little over-optimistic in our 2007-2012 outlook. The IEA is starting to hedge their bets folks. Can you blame them?

It’s starting to get interesting folks.

To get the latest IEA Oil Market Report click on the link then go to the bottom of the page and click on: “The latest free issue of the full OMR”. It now brings up the July issue instead of the June issue.

Ron Patterson

The IEA Oil Market Report is interesting. If I am reading the report right, it sounds like starting in the middle of the second quarter of 2007, they are trying to adjust for the consistent upward bias in some of the non-OPEC numbers. It is hard to understand what they are doing - one place they talk about an adjustment of -410,000 barrels per day; another place they say the adjustment for this month totals -220,000.

Another thing that becomes clear from the report is that the high demand numbers seem to be driven by the transportation sector. The transportation sector shows high demand growth, in country after country.

Ah! Welcome to the Wild, Wacky, Wonderful World of IEA accounting.

Rule # 1
All numbers, including numbers for years & months gone by, and especially forecasts, are subject to revision at any time. Therefore, every Oil Market Report is just a fleeting snapshot in time.

Rule # 2
Revisions made under Rule # 1 are also subject to meta-revisions without notice should past estimates, even when they've already been revised, be shown to be totally out of touch with reality.

And always remember to have fun! Enjoy yourself!

Hey Ron (above) and Gail, see my latest column Inside the IEA Medium Term Report.

And they also expect world demand to be 88 mbd in Q4 2007.

Bush Administration blames Saudi Arabia for troubles in Iraq


Doesn't this seem counterproductive, even insane, in view of Peak Oil? It appears that soon, we will have alienated everyone in the Middle east.





The Bush/Cheney regime seems to be thrashing around like an addict searching for a fix.

Of course, problems in supply are always someone else's fault. And some else will pay for reducing supply!

The addiction, however, is not an issue at all.

No energy policy. Only war policy.


Bush may have a motive for doing this. He needs an excuse (an event) to justify making the US a police state so he and Cheney can take over the reigns permanently.

Check out this article:

Old-Line Republican warns 'Something's in the works'

"Americans think their danger is terrorists," said Roberts. "They don't understand the terrorists cannot take away habeas corpus, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution. ... The terrorists are not anything like the threat that we face to the Bill of Rights and the Constitution from our own government in the name of fighting terrorism. Americans just aren't able to perceive that."

The perfect event for Bush to keep his foot on our necks would be a severe oil shock and economic depression. Pissing off SA would certainly assist in creating an oil shock. So would bombing Iran.


Tom A-B

Tom A-B,

The article you link to refers to a Whitehouse executive order dated July 17 and available on the Whitehouse website. Google Bush,executive order and you'll find it. I commented on it on yeaterday's drumbeat. Its scary as can be, they have given themselves authority to arrest anti-war activists and confiscate their estates.

This isn't a political issue, its a basic American rights issue. Don't believe me or anyone else without reading it for yourself.
Bob Ebersole

I have now read the order and it certainly is scary. As you said Bob, in effect, any activism against the Iraq war could be considered threatening to the stabilization efforts in Iraq, which according to this executive order could or will lead to arrest and confiscation of property.

So, I suppose the general public will really be up in arms about this and we'll see lots of people supporting the impeachment of Bush. Or not.

If Bush or Darth Cheney don't leave office in 2008 I wonder what the reaction of the citizenry will be. I'd like to think we'll revolt, but I wouldn't be surprised if complacency rules.

Tom A-B

We need the order to be renamed the "Anna Nicole Order" for our fellow citizens to careBob Ebersole

I'd like to think we'll revolt, but I wouldn't be surprised if complacency rules.

I'm beginning to think that we may be focused on feeding ourselves (see, for instance, the article -- Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) announced that oil reserves may run out in seven years).

The logical conclusion is that the US has justification (because of interference in Iraq) for seizing Iranian and Saudi oil reserves.

Might the Saudis Blow Up Their Oil Infrastructure?
by Daniel Pipes
May 11, 2005

Investigative writer Gerald Posner reveals something most extraordinary in Secrets of the Kingdom: The Inside Story of the Saudi-U.S. Connection, his book to be published by Random House later this month: that the Saudi government may have rigged its oil and gas infrastructure with a self-destruct system that would keep it out of commission for decades. If true, this could undermine the world economy at any time.

Posner starts by recalling various hints that Americans dropped back in the 1970s, that the high price and limited production of oil might lead to a U.S. invasion of Saudi Arabia and a seizure of its oil fields. For example, in 1975, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger murkily threatened the Saudis with a triple-negative: "I am not saying that there's no circumstances where we would not use force" against them.

This sounds wild, but would not surprise and may be the "Ace in the Hole" that KSA holds over the US administration's head to get what they want from the US.

It's difficult to tell who is the Alpha when it comes to US/KSA relations.

It does sound a bit wild and you have to wonder how they would guard against home-grown saboteurs. Even if it is just a story, its existence might say something about the true nature of America's "special relationship" with SA.

I think this story has been planted as part of a back-story to explain future events. ("A guy wrote a whole book predicting that this would happen!!") Should such a thing be needed, of course. Reminiscent of sending a few Arab types to flight school.

Why would the Royal Family do something like this? They're all stinking rich, at least the top dogs cetainly are. They'd be hunted worldwide if they were held responsible for collapsing the world's economy.

Well, discussing whether KSA is going to self-destruct as reported by one of the head honcho neocons at least reveals that for all the smiles they put out--they're not too chipper.

Remember how Muad Dib ultimately took power - by setting a self-destruct on the spice.

Frank Herbert was a bright dude. I can't imagine anyone coming to this site hasn't read Dune but if so, now might be a good time.

Yes...good observation....and yes...we've discussed the analogies between Dune and Middle East current day situation several times here at TOD.

(I shall not fear, fear is the mind killer, fear is the little death that leads to total obliteration --)

You know, it's been years(actually decades). It would be truely enjoyable to read them all over again. Frank Herbert is like J.R.R. Tolkien.

From Dune...."He who can destroy a thing (spice) controls it.
I have read the Saudi's have "mined" their oil fields with radioactive materials which they will detonate if a "foreign power" tries to take them (from Seymour Hersh the reporter, I believe).

Daniel Pipes is a right wing neo con lunatic. Gerald Posner wrote a book a couple of years ago expounding on 'why everything that the Warren Commission found about the JFK assination was absolutely and without a doubt unquestionably correct'...Draw your own conclusions.

I had Frank Herbert as one of my guest professors in A Future Of Man class at UCSB (Among the others were Buckminster Fuller and BF Skinner)--
Dune is one of the classics--
I doubt that education experience is available to the "education as a capital investment" generation of worker bees currently in the Factory.

Cool. Skinner was an interesting guy too... I liked his pigeon-guided missile.

I wonder just how the U.S. will actually take the Iranian oil reserves, or even the Saudi reserves, given that our military is spread paper thin already covering Iraq and Afghanistan. there are some 65 million people in Iran and lots of them would apparently like to self destruct if in so doing they would kill an American or 2.

A large part of our problem in Iraq was the result of our failure to put enough boots on the ground to hold things together after we destroyed the Iraqi army. How are we going to protect the infrastructure, let alone secure the cities? Look at the story about the Mexican pipeline attacks. They have 60,000 km of pipelines. Would it take 1 soldier every 200 meters to keep the bad guys away? That's 300,000 soldiers. Next, think of the rail lines. Put a guard or 2 on every bridge or culvert?

Well, lets draft a few million, just in case. Better do that before the invasion of Iran. Like maybe, starting next week.

E. Swanson

I am reminded of Hitler in his bunker. As the Russians closed in on Berlin, I believe that he was sending orders out to armies that had long since been overrun by the Allies. I believe that Hitler put a new general in charge of the German air force, not long before the Russians took Berlin.

Of course, Hitler didn't have thousands of nukes, and the US military is battered, but still very effective.

However, as it becomes increasingly clear to American soldiers that they are dying to keep the petroleum flowing to American SUV's, I have long thought that we might see more and more refusals to deploy, at least in the junior to midlevel officer ranks. As General Newbold pointed out in an essay in Time Magazine a couple of years ago, military officers do not swear to obey orders. They swear to uphold and defend the Constitution.

Black_Dog: You assume our mission in Iraq is to "hold things together". The actions of viceroy Bremer and others do not seem to indicate that your assumption is warranted.

wt: Better watch yourself in light of the new EO! We were disposing a violent dictator and are spreading democracy. Pure and simple--it has nothing to do with these "SUV's" you write of.

Upon careful and mature reconsideration, I have concluded that George Bush is my hero, that he is incapable of making a mistake and that I believe everything he says.

I think it was Michael Klare who said recently that the US WILL lose control of ME oil. The only alternative is to blow it all up so nobody else can have it.

I just tried to work out a way that blowing up Saudi Arabia might be attractive to the neocons, and it just got too complicated. If the booby-traps are there, then even if we exterminated the regime in Riyadh, we'd lose the flow from Saudi Arabia for years. The problem is that the other exporting nations would then move to fill the gap in the global marketplace, forcing the US into a bidding war. I heard that right now the US gets shares of roughly over 10% each from Saudi, Kuwait, Mexico, Canada and Nigeria. If Saudi goes down, the Persian Gulf becomes pretty unusable so I think we can kiss Kuwait goodbye. I'm just not sure that Canada and Mexico can fill our demand even at gunpoint. We need to wait for more oil sands infrastructure to be built in Canada and Venezuela so our troops can get it easily. Nigeria might just ship more oil to Europe.

Now if we could be absolutely certain that the booby traps weren't there, then the old Kissinger plan of seizing the fields but leaving the government intact is an option, but I'd be damn scared of the retaliation. The Saudis seem to have a record of backing elusive insurgents successfully.

It seems that, just as 1930s Japan found that it couldn't solve its economic problems without a series of acts that ultimately would mean war with the US, and thus cut to the chase by bombing Pearl Harbor, now the US can't get out of its hole without nuking a bunch of countries at the same time, because otherwise the survivors would unite against us and bring down our global economic empire. As the world's 2nd biggest nuclear power and its biggest oil producer, Russia is where all the madness must culminate. We'd have to do the Big One. Well what if we hit 'em with a thousand nukes, took out the government, and there were still 100,000,000 Russian survivors marching West? It's no good. We are borrowing so much money from so many countries that we can't afford any disruption in the global bubble. Or we must enslave everyone in the world at the same time and overnight convert to a Nazi-style theft economy. There's no in-between.

I bet they stay awake at night in Washington trying to figure out how to pull it off, though.

Why nuke Russia? They export oil, we import oil. Nuke western Europe instead.

West Texas: Its wonderful to read that you have given your unqualified support to our dear beloved Great Decider! wink,wink,nudge,nudge

Did you comment on the thread yesterday about England? It's got to be the poster child for the ELM; declining production meeting rising internal consumption means no exports.

Flavius Aetius

The UK hit peak production and peak exports in 1999. They were a net importer in 2006. Their decline rate in net exports, from 2000 to 2005, was 60% per year. This was actually worse than the decline rate for my hypothetical Export Land Country.

Yes, and this would suggest you are being conservative in your model.

The wheels should start falling off England's cart pretty soon.

Flavius Aetius

You can't refuse, but there are drugs in Iraq, just like in Vietnam. Drugs, the escape for an inescapable situation. You watch. And just like Vietnam the drugs will come back home.

I wonder just how the U.S. will actually take the Iranian oil reserves, or even the Saudi reserves, given that our military is spread paper thin already covering Iraq and Afghanistan

You've heard about developing a fusion-powered economy?

That may be the plan. Not a GOOD plan, but no more delusional than the other plans we've seen lately. The way it works is you convince the rest of the world that you're crazy and belligerent enough to drop fusion devices on them, and they give you cheap oil and other stuff. Very high EROEI.

It won't WORK, but that's currently not a popular criterion for energy plans anyhow.

Finally fusion is past break-even!

They don't need to take control - only to deny access to others. Part II of the plan is the dieoff. The dieoff is necessary - so it is better to control it than to let it happen.

Yes, it is way too complicated. It needs to be gamed out by a number of groups of well informed people. I don't have a clue how to set that up. But don't tell me Cheney et al aren't doing it on an ongoing basis. They have their version of the Second Foundation going. Traces of it leak out of the Manhattan Institute now and then - I'm thinking of their work on controlling language at the level of what thoughts one can formulate.

Tainter is our best hope. Third Foundation on Tainter; localization destroys the First and diversity the Second.

cfm in Gray, ME

our "failure in iraq" began with a 5-4 vote in the supreme court in november 2000.

The irony, of course, is that the Bush administration is actually telling the truth this time about the Wahabbist Saudis' responsibility for the majority of US casualties in Iraq, both directly and through backing of Iraqi Sunnis.
But who hasn't known that for years now, MSM silence notwithstanding? The question we should be asking here is, "Why now?" The theories I read here go like:
- The desperation of a flailing, helpless US administration.
- Creating a fall guy for the imminent FF shortages.
- Establishing a pretext for seizing the SA oilfields.
- Intimidation/threatening the house of Saud, for occult reasons.
- As a limited hangout, because the Dems are about to blow the lid off it.

The last theory makes sense to me because Hillary has the same devotion to Israel that GWBush does, but she isn't hobbled by those troublesome ties to the Saudi royals. She could sure make hay from our talking-tough-on-terror CiC, who is in fact coddling the bad guys that are old family friends!

Many of these people were around in the Nixon admin and learned the lesson - never give in. They think Nixon blew it by resigning. During the Reagan scandals, they were too weak and the republican moderates got the upper hand. This time they are stronger and prepared to go all the way. In fact, they are relishing the opportunity. They've pretty much got everything in place. The open dissent of the 60's and 70's will not be allowed this time around. They will come down hard this time and shut it down.

As a teenager I lived in Argentina from 1976 to 1978 and I saw first hand how the powers that be shut down dissent - suspected leftists and troublemakers were rooted out, hunted and exterminated. At the time, I saw military operations in the streets and the searching of homes etc. I later found out that thousands were disappeared - missing, flown drugged over the Ocean and dumped etc.

When the day comes here, most of us will be oblivious to it. We will notice certain public figures may go missing, certain activists will not show up for work, certain reporters and talk radio hosts may disappear, but nothing concrete will be reported in the media. The internet, or parts of it, will be shut down. A definite chill will be in the air and then it may spread depending on the circumstances. We delude ourselves if we say it can't happen here. It can happen here and when it does, it has the potential of being more repressive than anything experienced in Latin America - after all, we taught them much of how to do it.

My impression is that there has been a huge struggle within the Administration and the party over power and control of the apparatus that conceivably would launch such a repression. Like I said, all of the pieces appear to be in place, the issue is whether "they" have sufficient power to pull it off. With Bush and Cheney in place they probably do.

The question is: what event or set of circumstances will trigger the start of the real repression? (Some would argue that "repression - light" has already started. Note the Executive Branch power grabs, etc.)

Hi Bob, I read that the other day when you posted the note on it. It doesn't affect me directly of course, but these are all wider problems that will have some impact on everyone, whether indirectly or directly.

Interesting times...

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

It seems to me that for a long time now Bush has wanted out of his job. He is so uncomfortable up there, so over his head, taking this pummeling.

There may well be plans to maintain power, but I can't see Bush being the strong man to pull something like that off.

I have been saying for several years now that while the framework of a police state is being created in the U.S., it is very unlikely that anyone currently in power is likely to be a beneficiary of it - which, considering that the U.S. has had one of two families at its helm since 1988, is something to mull over. And the idea that someone named Bush or Clinton has had uninterrupted presidential powers since then is a fascinating comment itself, isn't it? Especially in the realistic light that another person named Clinton could conceivably be in power for another 8 years - an entire generation of Americans will have grown up with the idea of the presidency being passed between two families at that point.

Sounds like you are trying to deflect attention from the Republicans who have been behind the erosion of the Constitution and Bill of Rights since Reagan first took office. Just like the underclass is rising up in Mexico, the population in the US will see a sea change once they realize they are not included in the future prosperity. You thought the French Revolution was bloody, Americans are armed and dangerous.

Americans are armed and dangerous

When TS hits TF, it will be interesting to see what the citizenry will rally around. On the one hand you've got a state with increasing dominion over its citizenry (at least it seems to be going that direction). On the other hand you've got desperate people who can't find employment, fuel, security, and perhaps food.

I tend to think if those two scenarios play out at the same time, the citizenry will rally behind anyone or anything that puts bread on the table. If the police state can do it, the police state will survive. If not, the police state won't have a chance and a revolution will occur, resulting in regional nation-states loosely organized around trade and geography.

Tom A-B

I think the different factions of the anti-Bush movement are kind of like the different factions of the anti-Saddam movement in Iraq. We really don't agree with each other about anything positive, so when the dictator falls, we will all go for each others' throats.

Otherwise known as the 2008 (tentative) election.

I think it is underestimated how large a constituency there is in the US for authoritarian rule (if not outright fascism).

Many that have pushed libertarian reasons for being armed in the US really would be happy to see a police state - once assured that "their" guns are safe...
When no-one around you understands
start your own revolution
and cut out the middle man

Nope - the people who get the contracts for constructing databases are generally interested in money - IBM is neither democratic nor republican, but it most certainly has interests which mesh well with whoever is writing the checks and laws. The same is true of AT&T, or any other phone company, for example, along with the credit agencies, private prison companies, airlines - the list is very, very long, and to get into the subject seems to stamp one as being part of the fringe.

I truly think the paradigm of republican/democrat is likely to break down, and it will be those replacing them which will appreciate the tools so profitably constructed over the last decades.

America is likely to become the first profitable police state in human history - the tools were always built with profit in mind - just look at the history of credit cards - in the mid-1980s, a credit transaction was checked in a few seconds from a terminal using a region wide radio system - or at least it was where I worked. The technology has improved vastly since then. And America has essentially nothing in terms of data protection laws, or even an awareness of the need for protecting personal data from being collected in the first place. At least in Germany, my concerns don't sound strange, they sound like recent history.

One of the things about following the housing bubble has been how most Americans seem to be no longer able to comprehend living without credit - and here I am, never having had a credit card in my life. There is a lot I don't understand at this point about my fellow Americans, and they have little interest in my factual discussions of the world they live in. It has become very difficult for me to try to describe the U.S. to Germans at this point - and time to stop before we drift into discussing how many American beliefs about evolution. The U.S. is much less part of the industrial West than it was before Ronald Reagan was elected, both in manufacturing and in social terms.

Expat: Not the first- China is extremely profitable.

Expat: Another point- as long as this "police state" lets persons with a net worth exceeding $10 million US do basically anything they want (as long as they are not politically involved)it will be supported strongly by the media and a good % of the public.The American public has shown beyond a doubt that they love to see the poor get smacked around.

"The American public has shown beyond a doubt that they love to see the poor get smacked around."

What goes around, comes around.

I think the Pinochet regime in Chile was the test-run by the precursors to the neocons.

Now there's a cheerful thought! :-(

Test runs? Try, not just Chile, but Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, every country in Central America except Costa Rica, Iran, etc in the recent past. (The list could go on.) All of them suffered CIA/US Corporate involvement in propping up or installing right-wing authoritarian regimes that decimated the democratic opposition. See my post up thread. There have been plenty of test runs in the last 50 years. They are well prepared.

They are well prepared.

One learns by his mistakes but do you really think they learnt anything?

Perhaps they learnt they might just get away with it, with a bit of luck. Scot-free, so to speak.

The start, of course, was 1980, when H.W. Bush entered the White House as vice-president. That could conceivably make the Bush-Clinton period 36 years, 1980-2016, if Hillary were elected, and counting.

One of the ideas floated on why the Democrats are mute on the police state laws is that the power they provide to the President and her entourage, would automatically pass on to Hillary in January 2009.

This is why I think that HRC is a suicide candidate for Dems. Many think they cannot lose - but ultimately Bush gets hung around the Dems neck not the Republicans if HRC is the nominee because the argument will be made for change... against the failed nepotism of the Bush II Presidency...
When no-one around you understands
start your own revolution
and cut out the middle man

Let's inject a bit of reality into this thread. At noon on January 20, 2009, a new U.S. President will take the oath of office. George W. Bush will get on a plane and fly back to Crawford, Texas. You will be able to see highlights on the evening news.

The new President will probably be a Democrat, but it's too soon to be sure.

That is no more "reality" than any other scenario that hasn't happened yet.

I love hearing senators downplay court action against the Bush Admin because "they will be out of office by the time this is resolved."

SO WHAT! Don't let this current Presidential power grab(s) slide into the next administration.

Let these battles work their way through the court system for the next 10 years if need be. Don't just give it away. Argh.

Rigged Diebold machines.
Convenient terrorist attack.
Rudy "Il Duce" Giuliani, 44th and last President of the United States.
Like Bush, he's proudly ignorant about foreign policy. He was kicked off the Iraq Study Group for non-attendance. Who will he turn to for guidance? Cheney, Abrams, Wolfowitz, Bolton, Bolten, Feith, unpunished Libby.
He lived in the mansion with his girlfriend and got away with it. That's the stench of monarchical self-entitlement.
Bush didn't want to hear that people were being tortured. Giuliani gets off on it.
Nothing important improves.

The king of SA cannot possibly keep track of the political mechinations and dispersal of funds of 3,000-4,000 Saudi princes. Some of the princes are known followers and supporters of Osama Bin Laden, some are certainly going to support the Sunni faction in Iraq by whatever means at their disposal.

The House of Saud is not small. There are 3,000 to 4,000 Saudi princes (some 30 to 40 new males are born every month) receive an annual stipend of $500,000 plus various other perks including 'grace-and-favour' tickets on the national airline and favourable access to appropriated land to enhance their real-estate portfolios. In the meantime the income of the average Saudi citizen fell from $14,600 in 1982 to $6,5s6 in 1998. The Saudi state has run budget deficits for 17 straight years. It now has a public debt of 150 per cent of annual income - roughly equivalent to that of Lebanon with its legacy of war. Virtually every part of the Saudi budget has been cut with the exception of the royal family's upkeep and the military budget.


The Saudi princes are not out friends. 16 out of 19 hijackers on9 11 were Saudis. The princes fund Al Qaida, and the Sunni Militias that cause 86% of the American casualties in Iraq.

I think they know the jig is up. Falling production will very likely wake up the underclass in Saudi Arabia, and they will have a revolution or coup, so they are thoroughly looting the treasury first.
Bob Ebersole

Bob, yup...'looting the treasury'...similar to what is going on here.

I do not want to start a 9-11 conspiracy thread but I really have some reservations about the identities of the hijackers. Some of the 'hijackers' turned up alive and well after the attack. Then there is the mysterious find of one of the hijackers passport on the street near the wtc...slightly singed...and with the smell of bs.

I definitely believe the jig will soon be up in SA. The only way the lid has been kept on the country is by extremely good security and an internal investigative unit that stays on top of things. Bin Laden/Zawahiri are waiting patiently in the wings and will pounce when they think the time is right. Meanwhile, the Swiss banks are doing a booming biz.

I think the identities of actual Saudis with pilot training - airlines, air force - were stolen and provided to the hijackers. Question is, by whom? Not like the Saudi airline is any less a state institution than their air force.

Madcowprod.com has been tracking down and interviewing people in Venice, Florida for years about Mohammad Atta. He seemed to hang out with a lot of mysterious white guys. One of whom, Wolfgang Bohringer, is a freelance German pilot who resurfaced in the South Pacific with the FBI on his tail. Atta also hung out with a Lebanese convenience store owner who disappeared and resurfaced in, dig it, Saudi Arabia as a contractor for Titan, a creepy military services firm that's all over both Iraq and the Cunningham scandal. Then the Lebanese, safely protected in Saudi, sued Titan for $22 million for wrongful termination. He also sued Madcowprod, so he must have pretty sharp lawyers.

So yeah, I think there's a Saudi connection, but I don't think the hijackers were necessarily from the countries they were said to be from.

It didn't help that the Feds suddenly claimed two years ago that their list of hijacker names came from a piece of luggage that a SUICIDE hijacker CHECKED ONTO his plane but miraculously was put on the wrong plane and thus preserved all sorts of incriminating evidence inside. That was just an insult to the intelligence of the American people.

That was just an insult to the intelligence of the American people.

Sorry, nobody can do that!

"No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public."
-- H.L. Mencken

So in other words, pretty much the same thing as here.

16 out of 19 hijackers on 9 11 were Saudis. Interestingly the FBI was able to positively identify all 19 in less than 24 hours.

Curiously, at least 5 of those identified as hijackers are still alive leading their normal lives in the middle east. One is a pilot for an airline in Algeria. I am not aware of any official corrections to the original identities.

I don't want to be a conspiracy advocate, but when you review the facts, it is all a conspiracy. Just a question of which conspiracy you choose to believe.

It ain't what we don't know that gets us in trouble, it's the stuff we know for certain that just ain't so... M. Twain

An interesting (and sad) story for those of you following rail and transit issues, found in Bill Bradley's politics column:

THE BIG CUTS IN LOS ANGELES public-transit funding by state lawmakers have a sudden impact on Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who, in his current scandal-struck state, didn’t show up to lobby for his own program. The Legislature stepped into the power vacuum, slashing $336 million earmarked for Los Angeles and imperiling the long-promised Expo Line to the Westside.


I have much to say about this topic, but will save it to later. In summary, the long awaited next move to grow LA's nascent rail system has been derailed for lack of diligence. In the competition for tax revenues, he who snoozes loses.



California requires a 2/3rds majority for passing a budget.

In practice this means that the Republican minority controls it. This Republican minority is remarkably right-wing on just about everything except the religious stuff.

As a result the only spending that Republicans and Democrats reliably agree upon is more and more prisons. And very well paid prison guards. I believe entry-level guards (High School diploma required, near employment for life, strong union and benefits) now earn about as much or more than than Assistant Professors in the UC system (top top of class, 5-6 years PhD, 3-5 years postdoc, publish, get grants or get fired).

They can't disprove evolution, but they can reverse it.

I can't second guess that. They'd have to pay me a heck of a lot more to agree to be a prison guard than it would take to get me to agree to be an assistant professor.

In fact, if I had another viable way to make a living I would be unwilling to be a prison guard at any price. Those guys more than earn their money if you ask me.

In fact, if I had another viable way to make a living I would be unwilling to be a prison guard at any price

Maybe because it is you making this judgement, not them. There are all sorts of people.

hmmm. Depriving people of their freedom.

Probably angry people, who have possibly committed nasty crimes in the past. People who might use manipulation or violence. People who don't get to visit their family, who have to ask permission to go to the bathroom, who receive punishment not rehabilitation.

I wouldn't want to be a prison guard either. I think that many of the people who would deeply enjoy controlling others.


Could you run down the pros and cons of light rail versus guided bus transport?

Also, how do the costs of installing light rail using LR55 track compare to conventional track designs?


Best Hopes for low-cost transit infrastructure!

I would like to see a large scale trial of LR55. It has some promising potential advantages.

AFAIK, it has only been put into service in a short stretch of one tram line in England, and that was a straight stretch (curves are likely to be more problematic).

Someone needs to guarantee that if problems develop, it cna be torn up and conventional rail installed to replace it.

Guided bus seems to be a solution to a problem that does not exist.

Gadgetbahn with no apparent advantages (except it pulls up precisely to the curb fro wheelchair access. Just an electric trolley bus with an "operator" instead of a driver that cannot operate in mixed traffic (AFAIK).

ETBs are inferior to trams/streetcars because the buses last 12 to 15 years, they run on tires (x5 rolling resistance, do not last as long as steel wheels), they require pavement (rails can operate over grass when not in mixed traffic).

The French city that has the Michelin HQ went with a "rubber tired" tram (light rail) (tram de pneu) and results from that show no real advantage and some operational disadvantages. I see a place for ETBs, but guided bus just seems like useless tech.

Of course the Bush Administration is pushing bus above all else !

I think Las Vegas had problems getting their guided bus to work, so they now use it just at stops to pull close to teh curb and the "operator" now drives the bus.

It costs about $1 million/mile for sidewalks in the USA. The French can build new trams (rail, electrical, vehicles, maintenance) for about 20 to 25 million euros/km.

Best Hopes for Real Solutions,


I'm pissed! It also means that the high speed rail through the San Joaquin Valley will be further delayed, if ever built. If they could get a high speed train to connect Northern and Southern California, I would seriously consider a move to the San Joaquin Valley and commute to LA via train.

I noticed the funding in the budget for the California high speed rail authority is essentially nothing (as usual.)

In this case though I suspect that the wise thing to do is to work on the community level first. Inter-city high speed rail is a nice idea but practically depends upon the viability of the starting and ending locations.

In Japan a few years ago I had a Malaysian friend who had an engineer-businessman friend who wanted to propose a high speed rail line for LA - Vegas. I tried to convince my friend that it wouldn't work... because on both ends automobiles are the only functional option for transport, so one ends up with a rental car anyway.

It was a pleasure to always do the Tokyo-Osaka shinkansen (and no auto was needed on either end...), and I wished there were something similar to connect Northern and Southern California. However it is much more important to me to see that SoCal find a way to implement local transit first.

What is so very sad about the LA mayor's error is that the money was going to be spent anway, somewhere somehow in California. While I have great reservations about many government projects, there is no doubt that spending on much needed infrastructure is the forward looking thing to do.

You have a very good point that I have also made. Inter-city passenger rail has very limited value without an Urban Rail SYSTEM in at least one and preferably both cities.

The electrified NorthEast Corridor serves Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington DC. All but Baltimore have good Urban Rail systems and Baltimore has one subway and one light rail line.

Best Hopes for interconnected SYSTEMS,


Science has an article about peak oil, but it's behind a paywall.

OIL RESOURCES: Even Oil Optimists Expect Energy Demand to Outstrip Supply

And the lowest oil company forecast in the study equaled that from the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas, which shows world production peaking ...

What do people see as the future of natural gas to liquid (GTL, not LNG)? Apparently Oryx, the largest GTL plant in the world (in Qatar), is slowly getting up to speed.

No quick fix in the Gulf for Sasol/Qatar Petroleum Oryx GTL plant

Sasol confirmed that implementing its back-up solution is expected to take until the middle of 2008. This would delay the full commissioning of the $950m Oryx joint venture (JV) project until much the same time. The plant has been producing on a restricted basis for the past four months, and shipped first product to the market in April.

At full production Oryx is set to produce around 34,000 barrels a day of natural fuels, mainly an ultra-pure diesel, as clear as water. The world has been watching progress at Oryx as it moves to full production, with Oryx seen as a global prototype of big-scale GTL in action. There are plans to expand the initial nameplate capacity of the Oryx plant to as much as 100,000 barrels of liquids a day, and yet further plans to construct an integrated GTL plant with stand alone capacity of 130,000 barrels of liquids a day.

A couple of links:

Hi Gail,

Gas to liquids is a useful technology, and world wide gas production has a long time to peak. As long as the price that the refiner has to pay is less than 1/6th of the price of a barrel of crude, it should be economicially feasable. Right now crude is about $70-$75/bbl, so a gas price at the delivery point of less than $12/MCF works. Gas reserves are translated to "oil equivalent reserves" on company financial statements at this rate.

I question the wisdom of using natural gas, a very high quality fossil fuel, to power 18 wheelers and military vehicles, but I have no doubt it will be done. Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) can be used directly in internal combustion engines that run on gasoline through fuel injection modifications too. Boone Pickens is promoting natural gas as a vehicle fuel and has some gas fueling stations in Dallas. Ferrell gas has some too, but I don't know their marketing area. The have some in Houston, the city busses run on CNG.

My position is that this should be only a stop-gap measure, and we need to implement Alan Drake's electric rail plans as soon as possible, and solar cell generation for electricity, as well as wind turbines, Robert Rapier demonstated the efficiencies in his thread yesterda..

Hi Gail

This is a good question. It really will come down to the relative financial and energy cost/benefit vs LNG production. LNG costs a third or so of the gas (is this correct?), if GTL is less costly, it may well be a better way of capturing stranded gas.

It calls into question the Canadian tar sands operation - would it be better to use the gas for GTL?

GTL would produce liquids containing less energy than the gas contained. Using it to produce tar sands would produce more, some have estimated three times as much energy as was put into producing it.

"We are burning coal and we need to make that absolutely clear," Houldin said. "The gasification process produces a synthesis gas that is then cleaned in excess of 95 percent of all bad actors prior to any combustion taking place. This clean gas is then used to produce two products, electricity and clean diesel fuel."

"There will be no smoke stacks, no waste to ship from the facility," Houldin said. There will be byproducts of vitrified ash, sulfur, and fine ash." [more]

Coming soon to a community near you....

cfm in Gray, ME

You still have a CO2 byproduct yes? Yes.

Good luck to us all!

the Kunstler link should be http://www.dailyreckoning.com/Issues/2007/DR072607.html , I believe.

Paul Krugman talks about peak oil in his column in today's NY Times:

Krugman: The Sum of Some Fears

It's TimesSelect, so it's not free for non-subscribers.

I’ve written less about oil prices, so let me emphasize two points about the oil situation. First, we’re now in our third year of very high oil prices by historical standards — prices as high, even when adjusted for inflation, as those that prevailed in the early 1980s, after the Islamic revolution in Iran. Second, unlike the energy crises of the past, this price surge has happened even though there hasn’t been any major disruption in world oil supply.

It’s pretty clear what’s happening: economic development is colliding with geology.

The “peak oil” theorists may or may not be right in asserting that world oil production is already as high as it will ever go — anyone who really knows what’s going in Saudi Arabia’s fields, please drop me a line — but finding new oil is getting a lot harder. Meanwhile, emerging economies, especially in Asia, are burning ever more oil as they get richer. With demand soaring and supply growth sluggish at best, high prices are what you get.

(This was also discussed at the end of yesterday's Drumbeat.)

The “peak oil” theorists may or may not be right in asserting that world oil production is already as high as it will ever go
Now, Paul. Some "peak oil" theorists assert that world oil production is already as high as it ever will be. Some do not, estimating that it may climb a bit more before it peaks. We'll wait & see. Either way, the end result will be the same.

And yes, high prices are what you get any way you look at it.

Paul, it's good to hear your 2 cents from the New York Times Op/Ed peanut gallery. The Times is, after all, the Paper of Record, always on top of a breaking story.

Well, with the NPC report including ASPO estimates and speaking several times of them as "the lower bound", I think the issue is now embedded in the mainstream.

And Krugman reflects that.

Here's a mention by another widely known center-left economist (Jamie Galbraith) and he sounds downright doomerish! But the immediate context of the 2nd quote below is global warming.

So what comes next? Climate change and peak oil (the eventual start of decline in world oil production) are inevitable; we will have to scale back.

...It’s a beautiful tale, but it can’t be altogether right. The climate collapse—which may bring the flooding of New York, Boston, London, Calcutta, and Shanghai—will be a calamity next to which the end of the Soviet Union will seem very small. Long industrial chains, for jet aircraft, automobiles, telecommunications, electricity, and much else, will crumble, as they did in the USSR and Yugoslavia, particularly if new interior boundaries form and countries break up. And interior boundaries will form, as those on the high ground seek to defend it. The demographic effects will be similarly dire: Older, urban males (like me) with no survival skills will die. Rural New England will turn into a deforested exurban slum.

Orlov goes mainstream!!!


EDIT: actually more accurate to say, mainstream goes Orlov!

They've pulled out the biggest guns. Bush's entire economic team is currently on CNBC. Even the President came on to mention the GDP number. They must be really worried.

GDP number of course includes inflation and population growth.

What really matters is inflation adjusted, per person.

And we know how accurate the official inflation numbers are.

Mark Haines on CNBC just said, "If you can keep your head while those around you are losing their's, perhaps you just don't understand the situation." Too funny. While everyone else is waving the pom poms yelling, "buy, buy, buy" there are some, at least, not willing to tow the line.

OMG, they just had someone on talking about "those trying to sell the market off", like investors trying to divest are actually terrorists trying to hurt the market. It was said with exactly that tone.

CNN's rightwing analyst, Ali Belshi (sp?) had the pom-poms out this morning. Nothing to worry about, don't even look at the Dow-Jones today. And, oh, invest in real estate. That always appreciates in the long term.

CNBC = Money Porn

They've jaw boned through these mini-crises before and it's worked every time. It may not be enough, but it will certainly have its effect this time too I'm sure.
It reminds me of the forest service's fire suppression policy that allows the undergrowth to accumulate, and then when it goes up it's an inferno.


It reminds me of the forest service's fire suppression policy that allows the undergrowth to accumulate, and then when it goes up it's an inferno.

That's not fire suppression, it's just good forest management - a retreat towards what the planet has evolved as normal, rather than the demands of overpopulation.

[and again, I'm contibuting to deviation from energy discussion - doh]


There will be a change in the lives of Americans and it might just be for the better. No more huge SUVs and monster houses. You do not need a 5000 pound SUV to get groceries or to pick the kids up at school. You do not need a 5000 square foot home for a family of four. It is time that we get back to what we need and away from what we THINK we want.

It won't matter what your MPG is when you can't get gasoline.

Re: Kunstler's thesis that Americans are delusional. Delusion connotes a threshold level of consciousness, however, deluded.

I live near one of the primary centers of happy motoring as I live near a major tourist area, Estes Park, Colorado. Both happy motoring and the prevalence of monster trucks and SUVs has only increased during the last few years. The roads are more crowded than ever as people drive around aimlessly in search of their next diversion and happy shopping experience.

All these people seem quite happy with the status quo. The look on their faces appears to have been induced by anesthesia, complete lack of awareness of anything that is going on in the world, much less peak oil, gas prices, or global warming. Perhaps they have reached some sort of nirvana like state, leaving perpetually in the eternal now, the now that will never end, forever and forever, Amen.

On the other hand, paradoxically, there has been an awakening, as of late, amongst an increasing minority of those who live in the town. I gave a presentation recently to the utilities commission at 8 in the morning on a weekday about the need fo net metering, solar incentives, and renewable energy in general. Over 45 people showed up to support what I was doing. This was a truly astounding showing for this town and was over 45 more people than have showed up for any utility meeting in the last year.

To be fair, the tourists are on vacation. Vacation time is not when one wants to think about reality.

While Kunstler is correct, his thesis is of not much benefit as it just points out the symptoms without advancing a theory as to how to reach people. Most of us are pretty good at reaching the converted. But how does one reach those who are in an ignorant state of bliss or denial? I wish I knew.

Recognizing the limitations of my personal opinion, Kunstler is much less interested in solutions than he is in replacing suburbia.

Though his hatred is easily understandable to me, at times I think he is as short sighted as those he rails against. He wants suburbia gone, and that is a goal sufficient unto itself.

Tstreet, explaining the problem over and over again, and giving speeches on college campuses around the nation is an attempt to reach people. Strange you cannot understand that.

And Expat, replacing suburbia is a sloution. I find it astonishing that the solution most people are looking for is one that would keep our SUVs running, on dark matter if necessary, so we can keep our ranch style home in suburia.

America is built around suburbia. We use massive amounts of energy commuting to and from our jobs. And people, apparently like Expat, are looking for solutions that will allow us to keep up this gross misallocation of energy.

Kunstler is delivering the correct message. But now I understand why so many TODers rail against him. He tells the truth and, in a line from "A Few Good Men," You can't stand the truth!

Ron Patterson

Far from supporting it - suburbia disappearing into the sunset should have happened decades ago. Before 'exurbia' became a recognized form of development, exurbia meaning plowing farmland to build McMansions for people who think a small SUV makes them green.

My point is that Kunstler is in the dismantling business - and he is in a tiny minority, at that.

However, he is not part of the reconstruction crew. Not everyone is.

And his writing in terms of describing the origins of suburbia should be required reading for anyone studying recent American history - 'Georgraphy of Nowhere' is a well researched explanation of what America has become, and how it happened. More frightening, to me, is how a book from the early 1990s can be accurately applied to 2007 - nothing has changed significantly in that time, except for the amount of oil which has been burned.

I don't think anything will save the American suburban lifestyle - unfortunately, I think its downfall will involve what could have been an easily avoided level of misery, if the 1970s had turned out differently. Worse, I think far too many people will mourn its passing, without recognizing how flawed it was. 'The greatest misallocation of economic resources in human history' sounds about right to me, along with the 'psychology of previous investment' being an insurmountable obstacle to changing how Americans live until reality forces them to.

Sorry Ron, I disagree about most of that.

Yes, he may be telling a lot of truths within his message, but if it's presented it as a baseball bat, then is it any wonder why so many still see him as a crank? He is some getting traction with college students and some of the converted, but does it have a chance to reach those who are filling that tank every day, oblivious, distracted, and possibly already on the defensive.. so clearly, it's just a step forward, and two steps back.

With any luck, the adage that there's no such thing as BAD publicity will work in our favor, but my advice to on him last week's thread basically amounted to 'Don't confuse Brutal Honesty with mere Brutality' If he's going to continue to spit out terms like 'Nascar Morons', then the only response from that de-idealized part of the country is 'Frickin Wack Job!' Great way to get a message across..

or as my brother recounts from an imaginary relationship.. " You never told me you couldn't communicate!"

Bob Fiske

The problem is Kunstler is right. People who love NASCAR are quite dumb on so many levels. Now, you may argue that we need these people on the side of peak oil, or at least on the side of doing something about it, but the truth is these are the people who elected that retard better known as Resident Bush. This man is responsible for killing thousands of Americans for a lie, for raping the environment, for coddling the rapacious rich, for gutting the treasury, for undermining societies social nets, for gutting the constitution, and all under the guise of patriotism. Yet the NASCAR people keep supporting him. The don't give a damn about anyone or anything except their right to drive big ass cars and go shoot stuff whenever they feel like it.

I've got news for you. These NASCAR people do not read. Sure, maybe one or two percent read the comics, but the rest get their information from FAUX News. Which, if you have ever watched this right wing propaganda machine, does nothing except fill the NASCAR people with hate and lies.

You are never going to get the NASCAR people to listen to anything you say unless you are Bush or one of the wack jobs passing for news people in the right wing noiz machine.

So, in conclusion: Getting worked up by Kunstler's dissing of the sturmtruppen of the Bush assministration is a pointless and diverting enterprise. In fact, I can almost guarantee you that nine times out of ten if you approached one of the NASCAR people and presented your thesis about peak oil in a really nice professorial tone complete with grin, they would nod politely and then call you a pencil-necked fag behind your back and wonder if all "them collitch edjumuhcated commies were fags?"

As shrill and self-satisfied as ever. You make my point as well as I do.. these stereotypes that you see as 'reality' have you as blind to this country as those you are trying to describe and decry. In both cases, we get nowhere except more shouting matches.

"People who love NASCAR are quite dumb on so many levels. " Cherenkov, even without using your family name, you shame your family with comments like this. It says more about you than about anyone else. Have a little pride.

Yes, certain people surely do call me a Fag and all sorts of other names, to my face and behind my back.. it doesn't impress me, and it doesn't stop me.. but name-calling is not exclusively the domain of this prize 'Nascar' crowd that you're trying to evoke, as you so clearly show. And it will get you just as far as it gets anyone who has learned this proud verbal tradition.

Take a hint, brother. It's another dead end.


Oooh. A Kunstler fight!
Can I join in?
Sure he's right, but he's a weenie and doesn't go nearly far enough. Promoting, while jetting around the world, some asinine designer thing called "New Urbanism."

And he rips off phraseology from well know porno films too (my latest research indicates Clusterfuck Vol 18 has just been released). Plus, he's only really known for these ripped off phrases, not his ideas. And I can prove it:


If one relies on the college tour folks, bloggers, or New York Times columnists to spread the word, the word will be spread pretty thin.

One really needs Louis Althusser now. Despite his "personal" shortcomings he really did have the correct approach to cultural analysis. It is incredibly unfortunate that those who want to point out the error of our consumptive ways still want to maintain the economic order that is responsible for them. Why is this?


How much do you make if you get someone to click on the link? LOL.

Nothin' :-(

"Replacing" suburbia sounds like a solution to me. Or perhaps, "modifying" it would do.

I like the burbs. I work from home on a computer and really don't want to live 8 feet away from crying babies.

I can go for a walk without getting mugged.

When I have to drive up to visit The Man, I drive a Prius. When I'm on vacation, 40' CatPowered Motorhome with 5000 pounds of minivan behind me.

When geological circumstances change, so will I. Yelling at me and calling me an idiot, when I'm sure I'm more intelligent than most, serves no appreciable purpose. Other than selling ads on his web-site using technology created by people like me, working in the burbs.

Strange place indeed.

tstreet, 'How does one reach those who are in an ignorant state of bliss or denial?'

We have discussed this question before. people that are in denial about any subject must first admit to themselves that they are wrong. It is not as simple a process as it sounds. First, the person has to reconstruct their memory to mitigate their former position. This is the way all people keep from bruising their own egos and is not a conscious decision but is done slowly and automatically as facts overcome their previous belief. It takes time. There is nothing that we can do except make the facts available in a way that does not push the believer into a defensive posture, for this will simply prolong the time to change their mind. None of us should feel superior simply because we have come to a conclusion before some other individuals. When I look at the bs on 'main stream media' I find it a wonder that any American knows anything except what celebs names are currently on some police dockets.

I agree. To absorb the impact(s) have taken me some time. It is depressing to understand fully the waste of resources (concrete, steel, oil, labor,etc.) of our unsustainable US motoring lifestyle. From drive-in movies, to asphalt ribbons across usable land and in millions of different expressions of the same unrecognized illusion of permanence.

We have been on a path of greater use of technology since the beginning. Some of us have foresight, or gain it through age and experience(s), however we are all trapped in the society we live in and collectively we will choose our destiny.

"When the pain of not changing is greater than the pain of changing - change will occur" GB

may we live in interesting times...

I agree,

Another term for it is Learning Readiness. A person can't accept and asimillate new knowledge unless they're in the proper position or 'mood' for it. Once the necessary preconditions are met, it's easy to learn new things and change.
As for JHK, he should absolutely stay on his message. I don't know what percentage of listeners he convinces or converts, but I think it is significant or he wouldn't be invited to speak and his books wouldn't sell. He can only do that if he's sincere about what he says. In my opinion, he's on to something and he knows it. More power to him.


I agree, igdonp.

My experience with current college students is that they are a snarky lot, so I think that Kunstler's style speaks their language. IMO Kunstler has correctly guessed that his ideas would get a poor reception from the NASCAR crowd regardless of how phrased, so he speaks the language of a receptive subgroup.

Errol in Miami

I'd rather be blissfully ignorant.


I have found that being blissfully ignorant is, in truth, not really a choice. I have wished for ignorant bliss in the past, but alas, my DNA is constructed such that I have an insatiable desire to know what is happening in the world and why - I cannot get away from it, no matter what. There are others in my family who are legitimately content to not know and to not care why things are like they are or why they happen. It's just in their DNA. They are oblivious, not by choice, but because that's how their brain works. Hmmmm.

jteehan, your attitude is understandable. It has been suggested that PO/GW/peak debt outreach is needless cruelty to average Americans. The hour is so late, they are so in debt, they are so out of shape, they have so few low-energy-input skills that their future is grim despite whatever action they could take now.

It is indeed crushingly sad.

Errol in Miami

I think that writing you would rather have the ignorant bliss, on this website, is some sort of an oxymoron.

Your plaintive question: "But how does one reach those who are in an ignorant state of bliss or denial?" is hard to answer. Here in the Northwest, we've made some small headway at raising peak oil and global warming awareness, with over 20 local Puget Sound groups active now in the community. Our Senator, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, just came to talk to us about energy legislation on Monday.

But it takes effort, and sometimes we just have to accept we are "holding space". I can recommend Relocalize.net if you are seeking a local group of kindred souls.

On a bright note, we received positive press about our green recycling efforts and 5,000 bus ticket giveaway at our big Summer Festival this weekend, Seafoodfest:

Plus SeafoodFest is proud to be one of Seattle’s first Carbon Neutral event courtesy of NativeEnergy. And a big thanks to Sustainable Ballard for helping make our event more green, including a solar powered generator for one of our stages, a major recycling and composting effort and help in encouraging the use of METRO for getting to the festival.

If you're in the Seattle area, stop by.

OTTAWA — Could it really be so - that GM's Hummer is more than 40 per cent greener than Toyota's Prius? That Ford's F-Series pickup is greener? That GM's Silverado pickup is greener? That Dodge's Ram pickup is greener? That Cadillac's DTS, a full-sized luxury sedan with a V8 engine, is greener? Could it be, in fact, that seven different luxury-class automobiles are all greener - and that three of them are Cadillac models?

Well, indeed, it really could be. And, if so, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's new-car incentive program is a huge environmental mistake.

Oregon-based CNW Marketing Research Inc. has conducted the world's most comprehensive analysis of the "life cycle" energy requirements of more than 100 makes and models of cars and trucks. Given the thousands of parts and processes in the manufacturing and operation of cars, it was a complex task and took the company two years to complete. Volvo once tried to do it - and gave up in frustration (though it does publish "life cycle" analysis for its own makes).

CNW identified 4,000 "data points" for each car, ranging from the energy consumed in research and development to energy consumed in junkyard disposal. It calculated the electrical energy needed to produce each pound of parts. It calculated greenhouse gas emissions. It calculated mileage, too - adjusting for the differences between rush-hour Tokyo and rural America.

Found this behind a paywall but it will likely show up outside the wall in a few hours. The mode of analysis is not defined but it is described as "dust to dust," detailing all energy used in the planning, design, parts sourcing, assembly, transport, use and disposal of a specific car model. Under this analysis a Hummer uses less energy then a Prius.

I am not completely clear on how they made the tradeof between CO2 emitted during usage vs CO2 emitted during the full product lifecycle but I suspect we will see more of this type of analysis with equally startling results.

Old news. The rightwing nuts have been touting this meme for awhile now.

I believe the way they do it is that they assume the Prius will last only a fraction of the time a truck or Hummer will, thereby increasing the "life cycle cost."

No reason given for the short projected life of the Prius vs. the gas-guzzlers.

CNW's assessment of the hybrids has irritated some of the car companies.

Toyota says that CNW credited Prius with only half its 200,000 lifetime miles. CNW says that Prius owners drive less than 7,500 miles a year - meaning that these cars will be scrapped long before they use their expected lifetime mileage (in 26 years). CNW says that hybrids fare poorly because of increased complexity. Honda's conventional Accord gets rated at $2.18; its Accord Hybrid gets rated at $3.29 - an environmental cost 50 per cent higher.

I believe you called it correctly Leanan. Credit the Prius with the full lifetime miles and it's rating would be around $1.43 to the Hummer's $1.90.

Not to get flamed or anything - I think SUV's should be crushed into little cubes and stacked, if only for art's sake.

But a lot of people don't drive a car 200,000 miles. I sure as hell won't, I only drive 500 miles per year, and expect to live somewhat less than 400 years.

It is absolutly reasonable to consider the actual CO2 and scarce-resources cost of a car or anything else.

I picked up a 2002 Hyundai Accent which had been sideswiped and vandalized. The locks punched in, the sunroof torn off, the stickshift knob gone.... I picked it up for $1100, glued a $10 piece of plexi over the hole where the sunroof had been, stuck on a gearshift knob, got the locks working so you could open and close the doors, and intentionally didn't fix anything else. It's a 5-speed with 80k miles, I get 40-50mpg the way I drive it, and it may last me the rest of my life.

Indeed, with my driving habits a used SUV might have been easier on the planet than a Prius. Not only would I seldom have it running, but by 'sequestering' it from the market I would limit it to 500 miles per year.

If you're planning to drive 200,000 miles and aren't running a taxi or co-op, you're probably part of the problem.

ok, flame away

500 miles/year ! I *AM* Impressed !

I try to do 150 to 180 miles/month, although I do some good with those miles (about to leave to pick someone up from a hospital 15 miles distant after they are discharged, so 35 miles RT in a triangle).

I like my old car, 26 years old next month, and only 87,2xx miles on the odometer :-) 31 mpg in the city.

Best Hopes !


Clearly none of those 500 miles are driven on "date nights."

I think the theory is that the Hummer is so heavy that as it crushes through the forests, it applies enough heat and pressure to the plants beneath it that it creates oil as it moves thereby having a minimal net energy impact. Now granted, it comprises a huge oil slick in its wake, but the new oil is there nonetheless.

That is about the dumbest damn theory I ever heard of. Crushing plants in the forest does not create new oil, it only creates destruction.

Oil is not created from forest, it comes from algae that sinks to the bottom of shallow seas in times of intense global warming. There is no oxygen down there so the algae does not decay. It is eventually covered with sediment, buried deeper, and eventually cooked into oil and gas.

Coal comes from tropical forest and peat bogs. But I don't think a Hummer crashing through a peat bog would create more coal either.

Ron Patterson


Did you really think I was serious? I know there are some pretty silly ideas/theories batted around at times, but come on. Of course a Hummer crashing through the forest is not going to create oil and will merely create destruction (although I am not sure my theory is any more ridiculous than the idea that the making and using of a Hummer is more "environmentally/energy friendly" than making and using a Prius). But take ridiculous arguments as being meant to be tongue-in-cheek. Only think the person is serious when he keeps coming back to it.


Come on, VT.. you could have strung him along for a while. I thought it was entirely plausible, AND that you were being completely serious.

I thought you were going to count the Testosterone into the EROEI somehow. (Can we reorder that so the acronym spells OREO? It might have more mass appeal.)

Sorry, Ron. Maybe you were being sarcastic, too.. or just extremely distracted.


Hmmm, OREO:

Oil Reported Extremely Optimistically

Oil Reporting Errs Often

Osama Religion Ends Oil

Oh Rats, Energy Over

Oh Rats, Energy Over

I know



Maybe I too failed to recognize sarcasm if it were there in Ron's response; however, I have seen a lot of threads that are extremely vitriolic, so I thought it best to head it off quickly. I do like the OREO suggestion, especially the follow-up thread's "Oh Rats Energy's Over"


(vt - I "got" your post right away as satire. Onion-esque)

I know sometimes people's humour can be so dry as to be missed - but this was pretty bloody obvious if you ask me... gave me a wry smile...

...who left Ron with the Starbuck's card this morning?
When no-one around you understands
start your own revolution
and cut out the middle man


It's cruel to mention Starbuck's to someone in VT. I moved here last year from Seattle where I had 4 Starbucks within a 2 mile radius of my house (and I was in the suburbs) and now live where there are 4 in the entire state, and they are all near Burlington and nowhere near me. Caffeine withdrawal is painful stuff.

Caffeine withdrawal is painful stuff.

A perfect example of cascading failure, lack of caffeine destroys your ability to provide for caffeine by yourself...

Cruel? What's cruel is the way the proliferation of Starbucks here is slowly taking over establishments that actually know how to make caffiene products.

In the three or so weeks I spent in the US last year in various states (NH,MA,NY & CA) I never once found anywhere that served a decent cup of coffee. The closest was a small coffee shop in the Little Italy part of Boston.

According to Walk Score http://www.walkscore.com

The closest coffee shops to me are:

Boston Tea Co 0.23 mile

Mojo Coffee House 0.26 Mi (the one I go to)

Still Perkin' 0.52 Mi

Starbucks Coffee Co 0.58 Mi

C C's Gourmet Coffee 0.68 Mi

Rue De La Course 0.82 Mi

Puccino's 0.83 Mi

Pj's Co 0.83 Mi

I think we have two Starbucks in New Orleans (more in the suburbs), but most of the local coffee shops make a pretty good brew.

We have a custom coffee roaster in town (as well as Folger's, Union & CDM) that will work with coffee houses and restaurants for specialty coffees.

Best Hopes for Good Coffee,


Ha ha, thanks for posting the link again...the site had exceeded it's limit the last time I tried. I knew the result would be entertaining.

Walk Score: 0 out of 100

...and it only got worse from there ;)

I've never been to a Starbucks. I get my methylxanthines on the cheap.

To extend my previous observation...and the more doomerish your outlook is, the more your awareness of peak oil is fundamentally incompatible with a sense of humour...

But Leanan, you thought vt was being serious, right?

Not for a minute. I thought it was a hilarious post.

As did I. Darwinian, were you serious? Maybe that was your odd way of joking? If you weren't, that is pretty sad, and you need to get your sarcasm detector checked ASAP.

I'd also say that one can have a very bleak view of things and also have a wonderful sense of humor... Dare I mention that most great comedians are not optimists.

Mr. F, give it a rest. There was obviously a post or two previous to the one I replied to which I obviously did not read. My big mistake. Had I read that post, which I obviously should have, then it would have been obvious. But I did not and therefore your post was only slightly dumber than a lot of other crap I read on this list.

Ron Patterson

Woah, okay there, dude... I'll try to "give it a rest" after my one comment here... (Now my second.)

The comment you didn't seem to read was the one you directly replied to with an in depth explanation on how crude oil was formed? So, that still makes no sense.

I do appreciate your explanation, and all your contributions to this site... I was just saying that was pretty funny that you responded with a serious explanation to what was clearly an absurd joke!

Now, please reply again and tell me how dumb this comment is (because I agree). Just felt like I had to reply to your not-so-humble "therefore your post was only slightly dumber than a lot of other crap I read on this list" reply.

Way to redeem yourself after looking like an ass. You are a smart man, but clearly you have faults like the rest of us.

Take the batteries, for example. Toyota buys 1,000 tonnes of nickel a year from Ontario (mined and smelted in Sudbury). This nickel gets shipped to Wales for refining, then to China, for further processing, and then to Toyota's battery plant in Tokyo - a 10,000-mile trip, mostly by petrol-gulping container ships and diesel-powered locomotives.

Found this factoid in article referenced above. It does not include the additional step of transporting the finished battery and car assembly back to the dealership in Sudbury, Ontario.

Clearly this global system of interchange is one that will not survive for long once the market recognized PO and applies a scarcity premium to FF.

Clearly this global system of interchange is one that will not survive for long once the market recognized PO and applies a scarcity premium to FF.

Actually, it probably will.

Long-distance cargo ships use low quality oil (not petrol == gasoline), and once upon a time they ran on coal.

Some locomotive lines are electrified but even Diesel-powered they're efficient.

But more pertinently the fuel cost for the transportation in cargo ships and trains are a small fraction of the value of the goods. In fact, the value of one or two loads of cargo of container ships can be more than the entire ship itself, much less its fuel tank.

Ocean going ships and trains will still be 'worth it', even with substantially more expensive fuel costs.

What is really expensive is diversified truck and car local distribution.

I think that with increased costs for everything global interchange will be even more important since everybody is going to scream for the rock-bottom price no matter what.

And the value of a hybrid battery in such a scenario will be so high that it will easily pay for long distance travel for its components.

This is why I don't necessarily believe that re-ruralization is going to work for most people. Rural life is more fossil-fuel dependent than city life---until your standard of living declines enormously. Since local distribution is the fuel-intensive part, many prices will be substantially cheaper in cities with ports and rail hubs. At some point it will not be cost-effective to truck out all the goods in small quantities to widespread rural shops.

We've been there before. Just think of the 19th century. The Sears catalog worked and was a godsend for the rural inhabitants---if they could get themselves to a railroad station.

Mb: You summed it up. IMHO, we are far from peak globalization.

My rough calculations (I am NOT a naval architect) is that the future Panamax ships (12,000 TEU if containers) can economically sustain a single small nuclear reactor with oil backup.

Combine with 5 masted schooners (apparently best balance in design. 8 might be too much) of 4,000 tons or so for slow, low value cargoes.


did you have any comment on this critique of
a light rail project in the Seattle area? Seems
the tunneling required really pushes the overall carbon
benefit in a negative direction. Generally I like
rail but wonder if big money interests are exploiting
fancy rail projects when things like bicycles could save
more carbon more quickly.


Roy (aka twowheels) in Santa Clara

Overall. it was a hatchet job by a long time opponent of Urban Rail in Seattle.

One example

If all the energy consumed by tunnel-excavating and hauling is generated by gasoline or diesel, it will emit nearly 1.3 million tons of greenhouse gases, CO2, into the environment

The TBM Tunnel Boring Machine is driven by electricity, as is the conveyor belt. And diesel is *NOT* the way they make electricity in Seattle !

The bicyclist "alternative" is a false choice. Portland has the highest bicycling commuting in the USA, 3.5% (vs. overall avg of 0.4%). Similar weather (a little drier I think) but far fewer hills.

Promoting bicycling should not be in conflict with light rail; the opposite is true ! (See Portland, ALSO the poster child for Light Rail in the USA). When demand for bike space in Portland rail vehicles grew, they took out more seats and added more overhead racks. NOT A BIG DEAL !

The real choice facing Seattle is replacing an elevated freeway along their waterfront. TPB want a wider (more lanes) tunnel for billions $. Electric rail tunnels do not require ventilation (except emergency), but auto, truck & SUV tunnels require MASSIVE fans pumping air 24/7 to clear the exhaust gases.

An aggressive light rail building program (with the effects of Peak Oil) could allow Seattle to demolish the elevated freeway and not replace it.

The carbon savings are understated.

Indirect savings from Urban Rail via changes in the Urban form (i.e. TOD) almost always exceed the direct savings; and he counted only the direct savings.

Also, anytime an Urban Rail system is expanded, ridership density on the older sections increases. Seattle already has plans to expand their starter line south to the airport and north to at least the University (from memory). Both these expansions will increase ridership density in the tunnel and increase both TOD and carbon savings.

The Portland tunnel (Phase II of Blue Line for them) was expensive but required to create the SYSTEM that Portland is building. Today, Portland has the Blue (20+ miles long E-W), Red (to Airport), Yellow (Gold ?) north on East bank in poorer area (designed to go across Columbia River to Vancouver Washington one day) and under construction Green Line (south on East bank) and a commuter train that feeds into the "other side" of the tunnel.

IMO, the expense and carbon of the tunnel can be justified by the SYSTEM created, one must allocate over the entirety.

All electricity used is assumed to be carbon source. Not true in Seattle.

One last point, I rode everyday to the ASPO-Boston meeting on a subway opened in 1897. They do last (unlike vans in van pools).

Best Hopes for Long Lived Infrastructure,


Alan, I am impressed with your familiarity with critical issues in Puget Sound transportation. I agree that 'no-build' could be best option for decaying elevated roadways in post-peak environment. I am curious about your views on the rail-to-trails movements. One would assume you to be adamantly opposed to sacrificing RR right -of-way under any circumstances, but many of the abandoned right of ways are circuitous or not easily adaptable for pax or mass transit. Personally, I have a hard time supporting reversion of even abandoned freight lines for hiking/biking trails. Even though I am a proud member of the aristocracy of the fit, I think we already have enough places to play, and the future utile functions of rail bed trumps recreational and health value. Any thoughts? Should all rail bed conversion be resisted?

Rails to Trails

Through bitter experience, Transit supporters have learned to erect "No Trespassing" signs on ROW being landbanked for future transit use. Letting others use it today, means it cannot be used tomorrow for it's intended purpose.

Both uses CAN co-exist (most US RR ROWs are 100' wide) but trail users do not want the disruption to their serenity. Unlike examples from Europe.

OTOH, it is better to preserve from development a ROW by converting it to a trail and then "dual use" it post-Peak Oil.


Especially given that the bike trails of tomorrow are what we now call "roads."


While I am basically a hiking foottrail person, I have interfaced some with rails to trails groups in my region. They actually are a way of preserving the ROW for abandoned rail lines. They rarely obtain actual title to the ROW but usually just have a lease to use the ROW as long as it is not needed by the RR for transportation. In other words, if the RR decides to reinstall rail they can do so at any time. However most of the deeds to the ROW have clauses in them that the land reverts to the original land owners if the railroad actually abandons the ROW. In places where the Rails to Trails movement has not taken up abandoned ROW, the landowners have fenced it off and are now using it themselves which would make obtaining it for ROW again more difficult. So actually the Rails to Trails are preserving ROW for future rail use. Most of these groups that I have worked with understand that and hope that if the ROW is ever taken back for actual rail use that they will be allowed to simply move their trails over to the side of the ROW.

"Best Hopes for Long Lived Infrastructure"

Agreed. Thanks for the additional info.


My rough calculations (I am NOT a naval architect) is that the future Panamax ships (12,000 TEU if containers) can economically sustain a single small nuclear reactor with oil backup.

Combine with 5 masted schooners (apparently best balance in design. 8 might be too much) of 4,000 tons or so for slow, low value cargoes.

I somewhat doubt that sailboats for cargo will ever be used again... Simply because slow cargo means less trips and less product delivered. Low value cargo has to move fast in order to recoup the capital invested in the boat.

Civilian nuclear ships may have a future, but I just cant see oil getting expensive enough to make it worth the first adopter risk.

Perhaps a recomissioned aircraft carrier will be first.

Recent research by a German company indicates a hybrid solution is best. They deployed a large kite - no kidding - from an ordinary merchant ship at those times when it was an advantage, and took it down when it wasn't. This is the problem with sailing ships. Their masts just make drag part of the time. The kite solution is really only going to slightly reduce the amount of fuel consumed, but it can be cheaply applied to all existing merchantmen.

Savannah was not a commercial venture. She was a showboat. The only niche that nuclear shipping has so far demonstrated a clear superior advantage in is icebreaking.

For huge cargo container ships, there hasn't been a first adopter yet; Maybe someday.


I've lived in the boondocks a long, long time and I have to disagree with this statement:

Rural life is more fossil-fuel dependent than city life---until your standard of living declines enormously.

FF usage of those of us who are established is far lower than our urban/suburban counterparts. And, my standard of living is pretty good compared to the times I've lived in developed areas/cities.

What your post doesn't address that is relevant to re-ruralizations is the psychological changes necessary to survive. Rural living isn't suburbia with fewer neighbors and better views. It is a different reality.

One of the first things that men encounter is that they have no status based upon their business card. No one cares what you did before. It's your performance now.

Women face similar difficulties because they will have lost their network of friends.

Both may find that they have difficulty being accepted by the old-timers. It's sort of, "Got along without you before I met you, gonna get along without you now."

There is also the issue of personal responsibility. There is no one to blame but yourself if things get screwed up.

Time usage is different. My wife and I haven't eaten out for so long I can't even think of when we did the last time. We don't go out for entertainment. The only time I've been to a movie theater in the last 25+ years was to see "An Inconvient Truth." What we do do is work around the place. We decided to stop getting TV a few years ago since it wasn't worth it to us. We watch part of an old show we recorded years ago after dinner for 45 minutes or an hour.

The skills needed to survive are so vast that city people think it's a joke. Yet, they are necessary because you either can't afford to have someone else do it or it needs to be done right now.

Finally (although there is much more), there is the isolation. It isn't party-hardy time in the boondocks. Further, in my mountain area, we get snowed in for days or weeks at a time. If I can't get through with my 4x4, we just wait for the snow to melt.

Our experience is that about half the city realtionships break-up within the first five years because one of the partners can't stand the boondocks.

So, all in all, re-rurualization is likely to be a failure but not because of FF.


A different reality...
Yes, and they do not seem to notice. New comers still drive to get a burger. We stock up.
Police - you will be dead by the time they show up, and the fire department - your house will be ashes.
I find it amazing the actual fear you see in some peoples eyes when they come out here. Oh well better they don't stay or this would be another subdivision.

Work, work, work, you better like it, most don't...


Eleanor Agnew in "Back From the Land" voices the same sentiment that often the back to land experiments of the 70s failed because one of the partners was not as committed to it as the other. Another primary cause was undercapitalization and the inability to meet unexpected expenses (medical, car, whatever). But re-ruralization and relocalization of food sources may soon be forced on us which will go a long way toward making life in the boonies a little more bearable. It may be much better than life in the suburbs.

I might add that one other thing that will load sand into the gears of re-ruralizations is that people from developed areas who move to the boondocks is that they invariably "want to change things." It may be the schools or how the back roads are maintained or the house with the junk you see when driving into the town.

The old-timers say, "If they don't like the way things are why did they move here?"

My guess is that re-ruralization would set up a farmers vs cattlemen situation so that the cooperation new people will need to survive will simply not be given; destroying any chance for their success.

...people from developed areas who move to the boondocks... invariably "want to change things." and "If they don't like the way things are why did they move here?" makes me think of the old joke:

A woman marries a man and expects that she can change him, but she can't. A man marries a woman and hopes she won't change at all, but she always does.

Har-dee Har Har!

Tom A-B

"I might add that one other thing that will load sand into the gears of re-ruralizations is that people from developed areas who move to the boondocks is that they invariably 'want to change things.'"

T...As you well know, we get some of that in town. My advice woud be to keep quiet for the first 5 or so years, and not piss off the community by trying to change it. We like it the way it is, or we wouldn't be here, right? It's real tempting to move to town and run for the school board or the Municipal Advisory Committee. (Like..."I'm a college prof; I've got the way for you" :>) Don't do it. And, if you don't like smells like poultry or cattle ranches and freshly sulfured vineyards,, don't move next to them.
And, if you are serious about moving out to areas like ours for survival purposes, any diversion into community politics is a big waste of time. It's hard enuf to homestead without having to put time into community development.


Good advise Mike. But remember I ran for the school board around 1990 or so when I was "The Chemical Devil." Were you at the candidates meeting that night? I forget.

The joys of a small town.



I was one of the people on the organic committee...I was getting the quotes on the organic fertilizers.

You make a good point - it is a very different lifestyle, and not one everyone will appreciate (you sound like you are more remote than I am). Although I do not farm (yet), I have lived in a rural area all my life. When I am at work, I cannot wait to be home, and when I'm home there is nowhere I want to go. I am thought of as boring, because I do not relate much to sports or leisure activities - my leisure is mostly work I do for my family. No one bothers to ask me if I saw the latest show or caught the game last night, as they know I didn't. There is wood to be cut and split, brush to be cleared, many projects on house and barn, equipment to be maintained, etc. My weekend attire is ripped jeans and work boots, and by the evening on a weekend I'm usually dirty and exhausted.

I enjoy living this way, but I also know many people who would hate it and go nuts. It is dark and quiet, and I rarely have any contact with anyone other than the neighbor going by on the lane - I have seen people who are quite frightened and must keep all the lights on and doors locked. And frankly, there is just so much to learn, so many skills that people will not have. I will be in somewhat of the same boat when I attack gardening is earnest nest year, as I did not grow up in a farming family and my knowledge is not what it should be. But at least I have done some gardening as a teenager, I have people to use as a resource, and I have realistic expectations.

My main challenge is to transition what are now essentially hobbies into a way to make a living and provide food.

By the time you reach adulthood, or certainly middle-age, it would be a very hard thing to utterly change your environment - to throw away everything you've learned and adapted to for your whole life, and then to hope to be proficient (competitive?) in an entirely different one. It would be the same for me if I were to move into an inner city neighborhood I guess. It is my understanding that past attempts to force people out of the cities and into rural agriculture have generally been a disaster.


I may be an exception but we made our move in 1972 (bought the land and moved onto it in 1974) when I was around 34 . Now, I lived in what was called the country (12 miles from downtown Cleveland) until I was 12 so I had some idea of what I was getting into.

What pushed me along is that I had risen high enough in the executive ranks (I had been a process development manager and then plant manager) to know how the game was played. I said, "This is a crock of shit." I was then faced with a choice put up with it or do something else. Well, I had been working myself up to leaving the chemical industry for years so it wasn't a big deal psychologically. But, it was a big deal financially in that I've given up millions in income over the years.

It's interesting that my first job here (I'm in the Coast Range Mountains of northern California) was being the elementary school custodian...they didn't want to hire me because I was over qualified. I loved the job after the BS with the chem plant - and I got benefits! Did it for four years until I moved into house design and construction and then on into other occupations.

I was thinking about status - I drive an '84 Subaru, live in jeans and work boots like you, wear a filthy cowboy hat and used to have my 30-30 on a rack in my truck until they changed the law.

This leads to what I think is a funny story. I had to go to Oakland,CA for a licensing exam. After the test I got lost and ended up in a "bad" area. Here I am in my black truck, with a black tool box in the bed with CB and scanner antenas with my rifle in the rear window. Now, I get bears and lions around our place but they don't scare me nearly as much as that time in the city.


My company is now a huge multinational. I have not walked away yet, because I figure it won't last much longer anyway, and this is likely the most money I will ever make - by a long shot. I did move out of management and back to engineering, so that it would at least be tolerable. However, I find that the conflict between the time I need to prepare a local, sustainable means of supporting us and the time I have to put in to this job (a legacy of an increasingly irrelevant past) is crushing me. I don't make enough to hire people to do the projects I need to attend to, and I don't have the time to do both. The problem is that I lose much more if I make the move than if they do.

I suppose we all want to have "status" in some social group or another - there are people who I respect and would want to be respected by - but displays of wealth (real or not) are not part of it for me.

I'm right there with you Twilight.

I don't plan to leave my current job until my highly profitable, privately held employer lays me off and closes up shop. I'm going to roll with the punches and hope for the best. It may mean I won't be able to pay the mortgage, but niether will any of my neighbors and friends.

I believe times will be so vastly different in the near future that plans made for the future will be irrelevant once the future arrives, given all the assumptions one has to make about the future to plan effectively for it. This get's hashed out over and over here at TOD. Someone says "I'm preparing for the future by doing this and that" and someone else says "Your plans are bunk, sucker, because you didn't think of this and that other thing that will foil your plans."

The best prep is to enjoy every day as much as possible and to learn how to influence people to your advantage.

Good luck,
Tom A-B

However, I find that the conflict between the time I need to prepare a local, sustainable means of supporting us and the time I have to put in to this job (a legacy of an increasingly irrelevant past) is crushing me. I don't make enough to hire people to do the projects I need to attend to, and I don't have the time to do both.

I could have written that, Twilight. Your living situation sounds about like ours. My wife finds her job tolerable, but I work for a tech firm that is starving the stateside shop to build the shop in China. You can imagine what that has done for morale.

Anyway, I'm going next week to interview for a lower wage job close to home. If we can figure out how to make ends meet, I'm gone.


Let me add a few more things about my change in the hope that it might help others like you.

First, I knew that I was kissing my prospects for future employment in the chemical industry goodbye. Who is going hire a guy whose next line on the resume after plant manager is - Built geodesic dome and works as a custodian.

Second, I had never built a house (although I designed and built a number of conventional houses in later years). I did the grading, foundation, framing, plumbing, electrical, roofing based upon a belief in myself. It was the first fully code, permitted dome in the county.

Third, we lived in a 6x9' tent with our two cats for 6 months. We cooked our food on a camp stove under the trees and took showers from a 2 gallon bag we warmed in the sun hung from a tree branch.

Fourth, we took such jobs as we found. I got the custodian job but my wife worked in the lath shop of a lumber mill. Dirty, noisy and always too hot or cold since it only had a roof. Later she became a fire lookout and had to work six, 24 hour days at the lookout and 7 days off. She had been a recuiter for a large telephone company. There's more to the work we did but this gives an idea of what might be necessary.

Entertainment consisted of hand cranking ice cream with some friends or skinny dipping in the creek.

However, it also allowed time for community service. I was the chair of a committee appointed by the county to develop the local general plan. I was able to serve on the board of our local food co-op. And I became the unpaid VP of an incorporated, non-profit food trucking company.

What all this kind of stuff takes is an absolute committment by everyone involved. My wife also gave up all the status symbols that I did. Our first house back east was in a yatch basin where we could dock our boat in the front yard. We had plans for a big sail boat once we sold our little power boat. But I changed jobs and moved to NJ where we had a neat log cabin. Then to DE where we had a neat converted barn plus a lot more status.

People who haven't done it have no idea of what is required so I'll quit here. There's much more people have to understand about life's choices.


Sounds like a fun ride - lots of work, but rewarding!

My biggest concern is of course my two kids, and with them the requirement to maintain health insurance, etc. I personally could live on very little, and my wife too, but the children limit our options and ability to assume risk somewhat. Beyond that, they tend to absorb a large amount of time! The costs of food are increasing rapidly (especially real food), and we hope still that they will be educated (even though it's value in terms of employment potential is dropping). My daughter would make a heck of a veterinarian, IF we can afford it by then.

Oh well, the kids have grown up with horses and goats and chickens and dogs and cats, and parents that think different (although my daughter is calling me "Daddy Doom" now). I'm hoping it makes a difference in the long run.

Todd, have you considered writing a book? I get the impression you could both inform and entertain based on your life experience.

I completely sympathize with this. My wife and I make a ton of money doing things that we both enjoy, but we both feel a pull to get out of the working job and put down roots somewhere an in such a manner that an economic meltdown won't destroy our lives. The conflict comes in realizing how much it will cost and wondering where the money will come from. For now, we're "part of the problem."

- Scott
"Try sour grapes; you might like them."


There are still things you can do to at least get somewhat prepared: get out of debt to whatever extent possible, figure out an area you might like to live and buy a piece of unimproved land (or with a tear-down) that you can buy and slowly build infrastructure and acquire tools as time and money allow. Get some books dealing with how to do things by hand. Spend your down time reading up and finding out how people used to do things for little to no money. Practice--bake your own bread (grind your own flour if you can); plant a small garden--on your own place or on a friend's/neighbor's (Thoreau didn't own Walden Pond,
Emerson did) or on a vacant lot (with permission of course). Reading will also help you learn what you need in the way of land to survive. If you own the land and at least have enough tools with which to build a simple shelter, cut firewood, and grow a garden, it's a start. At least then you have something to fall back on if things go south in a hurry.

I'm there too. I actually have a lot of things in place to walk away from whatever it is I'm doing to enhance economic growth. The big question is when does TSHTF exactly. And how much time after that is there going to be for people to realign their lives. I don't think it will be as bad or as quick as some here predict. I think there will be a period for people's eyes to be opened to what the future holds. I just have to hope that it will be after Jan 2009 and there is a Democrat in the White House, preferably Gore. Someone who has some credibility in this area and who won't just start pushing buttons.


"When" and "how quickly" are indeed the big questions. I tend to be a doomer anticipating a fairly rapid collapse but more because of our economic condition than a rapid collapse in oil supply. Oil prices, not necessarily decline in production, will simply push us over the edge. We have too many bubbles and risk cascading failures, and the fix for one reinforces the next. Oil prices and a hot economy cause inflation; the traditional fix for inflation is to raise interest rates; raising rates will increase our federal deficit (we have already moved from paying $320 billion per year in interest to over $400 billion as rates have increased since 2003) and cause more defaults for those with ARMs; more defaults and foreclosures further hurt the housing market (construction, real estate, and mortgages make up a substantial portion of our GDP); a slowing economy coupled with higher prices as energy costs filter through everything from gas to food to heating and cooling puts more strain on peoples' finances causing more defaults, foreclosures, etc. It is a positive feedback loop and is self-reinforcing. Alternatively, lowering interest rates to maintain economic growth (and Bernanke has written essays that the great depression was prolonged due to tight money supply so he may be in favor of lowering rates) continues the sub-prime problems and, coupled with tremendous weakness of the dollar against other currencies, risks having foreign investors, who hold 50% of our publicly-held debt (or about $2.5 trillion) put their money elsewhere. How then do we refinance that portion of the public debt when we are running $400 billion deficits? What happens when government-backed mortgages go into default or banks fail because of mortgage woes and the feds have to pay off bank accounts with FDIC? Do the feds default on these obligations or just print money to pay them off? That would certainly be inflationary. None of the options look good, and a rapid economic collapse is very possible.

I will be in somewhat of the same boat when I attack gardening is earnest nest year, as I did not grow up in a farming family and my knowledge is not what it should be.

I am just getting started in that area myself. Next year I plan on moving from my disorganized, half-assed attempts and following the Square Foot Gardening method.

I have also started vermicomposting in my apartment this year, although at first I had a hard time finding redworms (had to have them shipped). It's time to harvest the "castings" now but I am having trouble getting the worms to move over to the new bedding. Fun fun fun.

On a thus far completely academic level, I have also been reading about recycling human "waste", in The Humanure Handbook. The thought of shitting in a bucket is not all that pleasant (nor does it have to seem so much like using an outhouse), but considering climate change and water depletion it may be another change "forced" upon us in the future; i.e. at some point we're probably going to have to stop shitting in perfectly good drinking water.

You're absolutely right about the human waste thing and perfectly good drinking water. I do wonder how much the dry desert southwest could benefit by not using 1.5+ gallons of drinking water to dispose of 8oz of urine for every person 5 times a day.


I've suggested before that among the first things to ruin a lot of people's lives in any extensive black out situations will be the loss of functioning flush toilets. I believe this was a big problem in New Orleans after Katrina.

The Humanure Handbook is not just a fact filled book about how to make compost out of our humanure, but quite funny too.

I've been "shitting in a bucket" for 5 years now, but this description is a bit too simplistic and harsh. My bathroom *throne* is indeed a 5 gal. plastic bucket (with spares), but one that is housed inside a very attractive looking wooden box of scrap plywood & mahogany (all oil sealed), with a regular toilet seat to sit on. Cost to make and install myself: ~ $10, as many its parts were scavanged from the town dump.

Better yet, my humanure mixed with garden and most all kitchen scraps is turned into rich no fuss compost that when ready I add year after year into my vegetable garden!

In short, the process works exactly as nature intended!

Pooping in potable water and flushing it away is the premier "mop & bucket" example of our civilized insanity. It just shows up somewhere else as a pollution problem that costs us more and more in half-assed quasi-solutions that solve nothing.

But we can't (refuse actually) to see the tap to turn off the flood. Grab another mop, boys & girls, the shit is backing up everywhere!

Me, I'm going to go pick and eat some fresh homegrown produce. Yummy!


I'm a little jealous that you have a five year head start. Glad to hear it's working for you (and your garden).

I think it was a couple years ago when I was first exposed to composting toilets, in a Canadian documentary on FSTV, which is also the same channel where I first heard the phrase "Peak oil", from Jim Kunstler. Anyway, if I recall correctly it was in that program where they had an image of a lake bottom generated from depth data -- maybe one of the Great Lakes -- at the end of a sewage pipe draining from a city in Canada. There was this giant pyramid shaped pile of crap that had been accumulating for decades. It's the kind of grabs one's attention.

I think it was also in that program where they showed what they have in Europe, toilets with two flush buttons, one each for numbers one and two. So you don't have to empty the tank for urine. Could we do that in this country? Of course not. A couple of decades ago we decided to just make all the tanks smaller so that now even the daintiest of shits can require two flushes, canceling out any gain.

Yep, I think the bucket is the way to go. They have plans and lots of photos in THH and those "thrones" do indeed look perfectly pleasant to use.

One thing I am curious about, though, is, um, how well does the bucket method work when one is sick and the stools come out in spray form? It's not such a big deal with a flush toilet, since the bowl gets rinsed from the inside. But with a bucket the idea is to make your deposit and then cover it with sawdust, peat moss, leaves or whatever, which seems difficult to do if inside of the bucket has splatter on it.

These are the things I think about.

Heh. Nice queries. Well, interesting... maybe not nice. I wouldn't mind hearing answers to them, too.

I am in the publishing industry and a few years ago I worked on a book about organic composting using worms - including dry toilet systems where the worms broke down human waste. They definitely sounded like great systems. I really should track down a copy of it...

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

All I can say is that The Humanure Handbook is the best book on the subject and there is no better and easier way to make good compost than mixing humanure with vegetable wastes.

As far as worms go, build a humanure compost pile and they will find it and blossom in it.

Build a pure vegetable compost pile and more often than not you get a slimey mess. Worms will make do with it but not flourish.

For several years I tried a pricey indoor big bin type composting toilet system but it didn't work well at all. Joe Jenkins' Humanure compost method is the best. It's all about working with nature.

For anyone interested, The Humanure Handbook is in, I think, its third edition. The second edition is available online at http://weblife.org/humanure/.

As far as worms go, build a humanure compost pile and they will find it and blossom in it.

Most human pathogens are destroyed in such a system - HOWEVER the 'government approved' method would have the fecal material at 165+ deg for (is it 30 mins or 3 hours...don't 'member)

Yes, there are "government approved" compost toilet systems, but not all of them are required to 'bake' with heat to achieve sterilization. That requirement is usually for small compost toilet units in which the compost chamber is so small that the material build-ups quickly and has to be removed sooner. I think the +165 deg bake off time is 30 mins. But why waste the electricity if you don't have to.

A good outdoor compost pile can quickly achieve and sustain temperatures of around 100 deg. F. over many days time, and it is the temperature duration along with all the other microorganism competitive processes of decay and transformation in a compost pile that eliminates human borne pathogens.

There have been studies done whereby compost piles have been used to render completely non-toxic all manner of contaminated military munitions waste sites. The same has been done with insecticide, herbicide, heavy metal, and petroleum laced soils. Chlorinated chemicals and PCB's are compost resistant overall.

But in most regards a good compost pile is a miracle of nature in action, turning "waste" into fertility.

The same has been done with insecticide, herbicide, heavy metal, and petroleum laced soils.

Excuse me but NO composting can get rid of heavy metals.
Sometimes they can be collected by biochemical process (concentrated in some organisms) but they have to be physically removed from the mix.
You don't seem to know much chemistry, do you?

Did I say "get rid of heavy metals"?

I tried to be specific about soils laced with such ingredients and how compost piles have been used to treat and render them non-toxic.

I otherwise accept that this may have overstated the case with regard to heavy metals, but there is some validity to what I was trying to convey.

The following is the direct quote from The Humanure Handbook as can be found on page 56, in Chapter Three: Microhusbandry (FYI: the numbers in the quote are for the reference notes.)

Compost seems to strongly bind metals and prevent their uptake by both plants and animals, thereby preventing transfer of metals from contaminated soil into the food chain.62 One researcher fed lead-contaminated soil to rats, some with compost added, and some without. The soil to which compost had been added produced no toxic effects, whereas the soil without compost did produce some toxic effects.61 Plants grown in lead contaminated soil with ten percent compost showed a reduction in lead uptake of 82.6%, compared to plants grown in soil with no compost.63

Such results do speak of the potential of compost to render heavy metal laced soils a lot less toxic if not completely non-toxic. I do believe this is in line with your point about biochemical process of collection.

In any event, snide remarks directed at persons are not appreciated by me.

In any event, snide remarks directed at persons are not appreciated by me.

I guess you mean this : "You don't seem to know much chemistry, do you?".
This isn't a "snide remark" and this isn't "directed at persons".
This is my best guess about the knowledgeability of some poster (you in this case) about a very technical field of expertise.
Do you know chemistry?
Though I am not myself a chemist either I know enough to avoid some gross blunders.
This is the plague of TOD (as well as almost all other forums), amateurs though they should not be discouraged to participate should know their limits and avoid making definitive assertions on topics they cannot really grasp.
That would be very good for the noise level, there are already enough willfull trolls contributing to the noise, no need to inadvertantly add more noise.

Bench & anyone else so interested:

The best material to use for covering humanure is fine saw dust, preferably somewhat aged. I like pine saw dust although other types of tree species saw dust work too, but you generally want to avoid those types that are rot resistant. Good sources of fine saw dust are from woodshops. Saw mills are another but the saw dust can be less fine which can take longer to breakdown if too chippy and may not offer the best adherance coverage and odor suppression as fine saw dust does.

Anyway, shit happens, and sometimes that includes the messier kinds. A 5 gal. plastic bucket is wide enough around that less gets spattered to it than you're imagining compared to a toilet bowl, even under the worst of circumstances. What does can be coated with fine saw dust, or just use a wet toilet brush to wash it off the bucket wall.

Something Joe Jenkins didn't really cover in his book that I use when emptying my bucket into the compost bin is a cedar shingle ~3 inch wide to scrape out any remnant material. Most of it slides right out, but this cedar shingle tool works great for what doesn't, gets rinsed off along with the bucket after the compost dump, and lasts a long time. Another useful cleaning tool is a pot or vegetable type scrubber. Better even than a regular toilet bowl type one.

Really, the biggest thing to get over is being at all squeamish about dealing with humanure. Dealt with responsibly it's not as icky as most make it out to be. Going to my town's waste disposal transfer station is more disgusting in smell and many other ways to me than my humanure and chore of attending to it.

Doing what I do feels right and natural. Once you get the hang ot it you'll think so too. Using a water flush toilet makes me feel like a piece of shit.

It's not often something so simple can make such a difference. This is one of those things.

Interesting - from my rather shoddy memory of it, I think the worm book mentioned that the best permaculture resulted in a mix of animal waste and vegetable matter, particularly layers of dried leaves (probably similar to your sawdust method).

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

Funny that. You'd think we'd see by now that when it comes to soil fertility and its sustainability nothing beats how it works in nature.

First of all, nothing in nature is a "waste" product. (Well, maybe oil. Unfortunately for us nature didn't bury it well enough for us to never find it and now look at the mess we are in.;-) But shit is good stuff that should be returned to the soil!

Anyway, permaculture is great in how it considers how man can fit into nature as an enhancing agent or facilitator of natural processes rather than a heedlessly arrogant (as in: we can fix it!) and destructive one in this creation.

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

Da Vinci: ... in her [Nature's] inventions, nothing is lacking and nothing is superfluous.

If only people would pay more attention to that kind of thinking.

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

This is one of those things.

Yes but only one.
What about toilet paper?
How do you shave? (razor blades...)
What about other toilet commodities and cleaning products in general?

My grand mother used non caustic soda (carbonate) as detergent but it amounts to throwing salt (sodium) in the dump.

Worms (and other organisms) will eat the toilet paper too.

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

Worms (and other organisms) will eat the toilet paper too.

Sorry, I have been ambiguous, I was questioning about the source of toilet paper and other commodities, not only their disposal.

Thanks, godraz.

Using a water flush toilet makes me feel like a piece of shit.

That's great. I don't type this very often, and I am somewhat reluctant to do so now, but what the hell; LOL.


That was a particularly salient, well-written post. My hat is off to you. Many people seem to believe that rural life is some sort of lesser activity that only losers still desire. It is akin to the sentiment that people who can, do; those who can't, teach.

I think this is why so many of the cornucopians are in full-tilt denial when it comes to the viability of the city. For those who love the overbuilt, high-energy-sink cities, the idea that tech may simplify denies the viability of that beloved environment. I think that their flawed reasoning is the result of the psychology of previous investment (thanks Jim), the belief that this cannot possibly go away because they grew up with it, because it has always been here (at least for their lives).

Here, in the sticks, we see these creepy people who stop by to buy "antiques" to ogle the foliage or smirk at the natives as people too clueless to survive the coming troubles.

We generally look at them and ask:

1. Could that person raise their own food?

2. Could that person provide a service other than some sort of cubicle farm asshattery?

3. If you were in a fair fight with them, could you take them and by extension all of their hoarded goods?

Many people seem to believe that hordes of badass ninjas from the city will scour the countryside in search of Wonder bread and bologna and kill all of us hapless geeks waiting with open arms and empty hands for our destruction.

I have news.

First: These people in the city may have the latest scoop on how to find the best deli or dry-cleaner, but as far as how they might find their way to the countryside is up in the air. Will they take a bus? The el? Perhaps walk out to the farm, hiking their droopy shorts every few steps? I think not.

B: Should some of these hapless city folk somehow manage to get to the country, they will find many helpful people who will do remarkable things to help their fellow Americans when in need.

III. Should some of these city people decide to take by force what is not theirs, they will be shot. Remember, the people in the country actually hunt for sport. They have all the tools necessary to pop a marauder's head like a blood-filled balloon at a mile's distance. And, many of these people are the same people who volunteered for our little misadventure in Iraq. They have skills. Terrible, terrible skills. Where I live, you can't swing a dead cat at a country bar without hitting a blooded veteran.

All in all, I believe that people in the city will bear the brunt of the coming dieoff.

Again, thanks Todd!

I love the rather illogical argument that global commerce will continue just because it had happened in the past. What is not mentioned in this argument is that pre-oil the planet's population was about one billion people. Of those people who were actually moving stuff around the globe, you would find that the number of pounds moved per mile per person would be substantially lower then than now. In other words, yes there will be ships with sails, perhaps with diesel, perhaps with nukes still plying the trade winds and routes, but these ships cannot possibly be hauling anywhere near the current tonnage.

While the author may have intended that this be his message, the actual deconstructed trope says, "Hey kids! It's business as usual."

As a further bonus:

The cornucopians would have you believe that we will somehow have business as usual lite. That we will have a wonderful easy slide into a lifestyle still chock-a-block full of consumerbots who are buying some lesser form of tech while calmly chatting about the latest consumer porn in the Sears catalog.

The power of delusion is always at its highest not when things are bad but when things are going well.

The cornucopians seem to have some sort of Victorian setting in mind from the Gilded Age where somehow ordinary people will be transformed into enlightened puckish people who wait and chat patiently while all this sordid energy shortage stuff gets sorted out.

Let's listen in:

"I say, good sport. What are your considered opinions on our slow economy?"

Charles Goodtech looked over to his esteemed colleague and drawing room debating partner and patted him gently on his leg. "Oh, my good friend, William. You always are so hot-headed, using such loaded terms as 'slow.' Can't you see fit to call it by a more genteel modifier? Something like 'wonderful' or 'extra-special.' If you keep speaking such inflammatory words, you might scare the children into believing that there is something wrong with eating nothing but nettles for two weeks! For shame. For shame."

"Oh, Charles. You are so right. Forgive me my slip into emotional usages. How dreadful it would be that passions were inflamed. We must trust our leaders and give them only our good words, our gentle words. For remember, it was not by arms that we achieved this great democracy. It was not by inflammatory rhetoric hurled at the British that changed things, no. It was our good quiet talk that had them change their minds."

"There you go. That's the way to change things. Let's send each other emails and blog in quiet calm terms and never make any call to action that may hurt someone's feelings, because we all know it is more important that we all feel good rather than improve our lot."

"Well put. Well put. I have to go now."

They both stood. Charles motioned to the door. William wagged his finger. "Oh no, you first."

Charles laughed heartily. "Oh, no. That would be impolite. You first, my good friend."

William countered, "Please, this is your house, you must go first."

The two gently urged each other forward until they both expired for lack of water.

Two cornucopians down. At least several thousand to go.

I think the limiting factor will not be the fuel to run the ships, but problems with monetary supply and debt. Countries will still be willing to trade, but they will expect to be paid in things that they need now in return (food, guns, consumer goods, construction equipment) - not dollars that are worth less day by day, and bonds that will never be paid off in dollars anything like current dollars.

Just to back Gail up:

Transport via ship is about the most efficient there is.

See: Food Miles

The study found energy and carbon dioxide emissions used in producing New Zealand lamb were around a quarter of those required to produce British lamb.

... including transport.

There is no relative rational reason to argue against transport of food, or indeed anything, across the planet to save on either oil, or CO2, provided the transport is by sea, if the gross enery cost to produce the goods at source is less.

Stuff will still be being shipped globally, long after the reality of peak oil (+ global warming) is accepted.

I kind of feel like we're in the control room on Jurassic Park, with the lights and computers on, and nothing seems ALL THAT wrong.

It's in the book, not the movie, but I found an early draft that still has it..

What's that, John?

Wu points to the screen behind Arnold's head. In the upper right-hand
corner, it blinks a yellow warning: AUX PWR LOW! Ellie regards it.

You running on auxiliary power?

I'm not.

Looks like you are.

Can't be.

Print the system status log.

Arnold nods and rapidly strikes keys. In the corner, a printer whirs to
life. Moments later, it spins out a single page. Arnold tears it off.

Ellie continues to stare at the screen. It now flashes red: AUX PWR
FAIL! An alarm klaxon BLARES.


I made a new Bumper Sticker yesterday..


Coming Soon to a Highway Near You!

Got Options? "

(With the picture of the Globe and the 'Empty Gauge -Arrow', and an old Rusty Rt66 Gas Pump at the ends of it..)


Interesting article on power transmission and how it can help us with using wind and solar. I would imagine we should switch the grid to DC power.

Dr Schmid calculates that a DC grid of the sort he envisages would allow wind to supply at least 30% of the power needed in Europe. Moreover, it could do so reliably—and that means wind power could be used for what is known in the jargon as base-load power supply.

nukes + hydro for baseload power supply, wind on top of that.
hydro is built out, nukes we can always have more of, and same with wind power

Peak Hydro :-(

I was on Lake Mead for the 4th of July - its down a hundred feet since I was last there in the mid 1990s. I did some reading - Lake Powell, upstream from there, is 43% of full and power production is down to 70% of peak due to reduced pressure at the turbines.

It doesn't get a lot of coverage, but the massive, long term drought in the west is going to take that hydro base right out from under us about the time Peak Oil effects really start showing.

I was on Lake Powell this summer too - it's down 85-90ft from it's maximum. Everyone talks about the drought, but I would like to see some data on the other side of that equation, namely how much have water withdrawals increased to supply the cities of the southwest? There has been enormous growth, so the effect cannot be negligible.

I didn't have time to read the article completely, It seemed to ramble a little. Interesting that the battle they claim existed was between Edison and Westinghouse. No, it was between Edison and Nikola Tesla, the inventor of AC, whoops. Westinghouse bought out the patents which is another story.

Also the claim is that DC does a better job of carrying voltage. OK, but what about amperage, how does it do when it has to carry a lot of amperage. Thats the question, and its overlooked.

40000 volts is squat at very low amperage it is a discomfort if shocked. Static electricity is an example of high voltage with low amperage., yet 1 volt at 1 amp can kill you. Its the amps not the volts that matter when carried down the line.

What kind of amperage is seeing going down the line to use DC, that would need to part of the equation wouldn't it.

This all started by the way in NY with Niagra Falls and the first hydro plant. That too is a long and interesting story. The Niagra falls you see today is nothing of what it once was.

DC when its close to the source that will use it does make better sense. The distance from Niagra to the city that needed the juice was the deciding factor. If the use is close to the point of creation then DC is a better source on that point. Ac also will kick you back if you make a mistake. DC grabs you and your metal bowler when stuck against bars, just ask oddjob. Safety could be another issue.

About the Mexico Pipeline attacks, article appears to be deflecting attention away from the actual perpetrators. Better to blame foreign terrorists than admit that the underclass in Mexico, disenfranchised by the stolen elections, might be fighting back, as what actually appears to be the case.

countries whos livelyhoods depend on oil which mines the ore to sell to the rich countries are going to have a tough time when oil gets expensive.

I also want to point out that to keep tax revenue constant on falling production causes production losses(traditionally, here is probably just puts pressure to not expand production) through increased taxation on a falling production. The effect is non-linear.

Thus a positive feedback cycle unfolds, more taxes on less production begets more taxation on an even lower production. This will be the fall of Norway and other oil exporting nations. It is even worse for locals which subsidize their own populaces use of oil, because this subsidy must come out of government revenue on oil production!

Hello Cid Yama,

Consider the typical protection racket marketing scheme: if Blackwater wants to get hired to protect the future privatisation of Pemex's shrinking infrastructure from the common Mexican, then an explosion as a business sales pitch can be quite effective.

Speculation, no proof. See my previous postings in the archives.

EDIT: Only a spider, merely trying to survive, is vitally concerned about protecting its spiderweb. A bug, looking for energy, will be ensnared:

Gazprom to raise its own private army to protect oil installations
Perhaps Pemex is trying to do the same thing.

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

A recent study from the U.S. National Petroleum Council (NPC), led by former ExxonMobil chairman Lee Raymond, asserts global energy consumption will increase as much as 60 percent by 2030 but assures “the world is not running out of energy resources.”

from this link

Ohh, here we go again, and I who thought the downward drive-shift taken by IEA recently was a sign of new realism… and for the better

I’m starting to feel that those “ExxonMobil and Cera”- alikes are among the most scary idea-makers of this planet, and it all hailed next to the newly approved Golbal-warming issues - Where is the UN on energy, afterall ?

... and where does the above "ENERGYFOREVER claims" coincide with this fresh info claimed to be from PEMEX …
Mexican Company Predicts End of (their)Oil within 7 years

Anyone ?

... and where does the above "ENERGYFOREVER claims" coincide with this fresh info claimed to be from PEMEX …
Mexican Company Predicts End of (their)Oil within 7 years

Oh that's easy, you know. While Mexico announces running dry the French go to Lybia, promise Mr Gaddafi a brand new nuke plant and sign oil exploration contracts.
I read they wanna ramp up daily production from 1 mbd to more than 3. That's about the oil that will be gone in Mexico.

And nobody wants to talk about the Lockerbie victims any more.

U.S. second-quarter GDP rises 3.4%

Fastest pace since first quarter of 2006; consumer spending slows

After hitting a pothole in the first quarter, the U.S. economy rebounded in the second quarter, growing at an annual rate of 3.4%, the fastest pace since the first quarter of 2006, the Commerce Department said Friday.

The improvement in the second quarter was concentrated in a stronger trade performance, better investment in structures, faster government spending and a rebuilding of inventories after significant reductions in the past two quarters. Business investment was strong, led by the fastest growth in spending on nonresidential structures in 13 years.

These offset a sharp slowdown in consumer spending and a decline in investments in homes.
[translation: the poor just got poorer]

The increase in real gross domestic product was slightly below market expectations for a gain of 3.6%, according to a survey of economists conducted by MarketWatch. See Economic Calendar.

It was a bullish report for Wall Street, with strong growth and falling core inflation, said Miller Tabak & Co. chief bond market strategist Tony Crescenzi.
GDP rose just 0.6% in the first quarter, revised down from the previous 0.7% estimate.

Economists said the weakness in the first quarter and the subsequent strength in the second quarter are both overstated, and the best way to understand the economy is to average the growth rate over the past six months. This produces a 2.0% average growth rate for the first half of the year.

The economy has grown 1.8% in the past year.

The inflation picture was mixed. The core price index (excluding food and energy) retreated to a 1.4% annual rate in the second quarter from 2.4% in the first, pushing the on-year gain down to 2.0%, the top of the Fed's perceived "comfort zone" on inflation.

But headline consumer inflation accelerated to a 4.3% annual rate, the fastest pace since the fourth quarter of 1990.

Apparently, HeIsSoFly feels no comment necessary.


From the just-auto blurb:

"Canada alone has an estimated 180 billion barrels of recoverable oil, enough to meet global demand for the next century or so."

Deeper analysis of Athabasca aside,

1.8E11barrels / 8.5E7barrels/day = 5.8years.

On the flip side

1.8E11 / 100 years / 365 days = max daily output of 4.93E6 b/d. No way production is ever going to get anywhere near 85 Mb/d. I doubt it will even get anywhere near 4 Mb/d. Third I doubt that 180 Bbl is realistically recoverable.

Remember: that its not important how much recoverable oil remains, but out much of it can be produced daily at an economically cost.

FBI Chief Contradicts Gonzales Testimony

The head of the FBI contradicted Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' sworn testimony and Senate Democrats requested a perjury investigation Thursday in a fresh barrage against President Bush's embattled longtime friend and aide.

In a third blow to the Bush administration, the Senate Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas to compel the testimony of Karl Rove, Bush's chief political adviser, in connection with its investigation of the firings of federal prosecutors.

"It has become apparent that the attorney general has provided at a minimum half-truths and misleading statements," four Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote in a letter to Solicitor General Paul Clement calling for a special counsel to investigate.

I think we're getting closer to the moment when Bush/Cheney/Rove just give us the finger and dare us to do anything about it.

about time... maybe finally the 'reasonable' talking heads will be forced to see their BS for what it is...

and besides, it'll be nice for the Bush folks - they've been itching to do this for years... feint heart & all that
When no-one around you understands
start your own revolution
and cut out the middle man

U.S. natural gas supply situation looks good in the short term. From this week's EIA report:

Working gas in storage was 2,763 Bcf as of Friday, July 20, 2007, according to EIA estimates. This represents a net increase of 71 Bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 6 Bcf higher than last year at this time and 384 Bcf above the 5-year average of 2,379 Bcf.

This is the first time since February that supplies have exceeded last year's level.

Looks like Natty continues to dodge bullets as U.S. summertime temps are averaging as much as 9 degrees below average. Hurricane probabilities have been reduced. The mountain west has had it tough the rest of the country is taking it easy on the A.C.

There has been a bunch of new NG coming onstream from the new floating platform, the Independence Hub. Stories on the rigzone indicate that is about 1 BCF per day, and that total reserves are about 2 trillion cubic feet. That's in addition to all the gas coming onstream from the new unconventional gas sources, and all the new LNG terminals.Compare that to the 2.7 TCF in storage caverns in the US.

We're going to be oversupplied for at least the next 1 1/2 years with NG. Good for consumers, not so good for producers. And that's why I have a big preference for oil deals over gas prospects when its my money.

Bob Ebersole

So just another 1.5 years until the red queen makes her untimely comeback to mainstream TOD.


That's interesting news....and as you said, "Good for consumers, not so good for producers."

Something else gets caught in this bit of "surplus" gas too....what does it do to LNG import terminal and LNG tanker financing? And who is going to be willing to sign long term LNG contracts on the American side when, if we were to have a very mild winter (Climate change and all that...) we would be up to our ears in cheap domestic gas?

Hmmm, finance can be such a stressful business.....

Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom

Did I hear the CNN hairdo correctly? Oil settled a penny from the record high?

Yes, NYMEX Crude right now at 77.12, up 2.17

and the DOW blew off another 208 points today.

Referring to the NY Times article about SA, It's just another example of how the Bush Administration miscalculated the Iraq invasion. Of course SA is Sunni, and won't stand by to watch them get slaughtered by the Shiites in Iraq. As the article says, they've made this clear to the Bush gang for 2 years now. The relationship with SA is going to be tested severely if Condi goes over there and tries to strong arm them.


Flight to safety = flight to oil futures??

Now that crude futures are in backwardation.....


This means that USO should keep it's value with respect to the crude contracts it is supposed to be tracking.

So the little guy can hedge now too. Over the past year, USO lost maybe 30% of its value wrt futures because of the dreaded contango. But for the past couple of weeks it has behaved as it should.


[interactive chart]

Did I hear the CNN hairdo correctly? Oil settled a penny from the record high?

I think so.

Light, sweet crude for September delivery rose $2.07 to settle at $77.02 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The highest-ever settlement price for a front-month contract was $77.03 a barrel, set July 14, 2006.

I thought it was a bit higher but that was probably an interday high I was thinking of.

Ron Patterson

On the top of a fuel pump at a Conoco station I stopped at yesterday was a small brochure entitled something like "How we can reduce gas prices together."

It explained refinery shortages and advocated easier permitting processes to expand/build refineries. Less expected was that it encouraged people reduce demand by carpooling and using public transport!

Can you imagine walking into a McDonalds and seeing a brochure talking about how people were eating too much junk food and that they should buy less of McDonald's products?

I found it pretty telling.

I agree. A lot of similar stuff coming out of some sectors of the industry over just the last few months. You just have to read it from the oil point of view to get the real meaning. (Still a firm believer that the multitude of May 'refinery problems' was just toooo pat, lol.)

I still believe that the April/May time frame marks the beginning of the end of the production plateau. Like the U.S. peak in 70, it will take some time to fully recognize. It took roughly 2 years to really be acknowledged that time, probably shorter this time, so much hinges on it and ALL of the big players playing. But then again FUD tactics may tend to put off official recognition.

The price getting ready to blow through the old high is right on schedule. We are starting to see just a few analysts acknowledge that the 'sub-prime' mortgage problem may be more widespread. Well duh. I still have not heard anyone state publicly that it was all triggered by oil, the price surge in July/August 2005 was much more than a coincidental factor imo.

I just hope that the Feds don't feel tempted to bail out the financial giants that go down the tubes, although I suppose they are going to lean that way, evidenced by the cajoling of China to throw money that direction.

I am out of all the majors except CVX, argh. I believe the fundamentals for RIG just got even better, so continue to hold there. (Nice spike the other day on that news!) Anyone familiar with AWNE? (Wind turbines.) Chart may be trying to make a double bottom on the 3 month chart, couple more days should tell. Have small stake, may be time to triple down or something. Here's a micro oil service co. I am trying now- WRNW. Can only play small due to low market cap but interesting potential. Another chart that may be making a bottom. (I used to have a rep for that with small caps, see if I still have it, rofl.)

Wish I had the cojones to short the big financials, but just isn't me, sigh.

August surely isn't going to be pretty, but may be a picnic compared to after that.

Sorry, I get carried away and ramble.

Say RR. I haven't time during the week usually to keep up here, has there been a resolution to that algal bio-diesel you were looking into? The one with the 'black box'?

Ray McGovern on George Kenney's Electric Politics.
Twenty+ years CIA veteran has a psychoanalyst diagnose Bush's brain in order to figure out possible future scenarios concerning US actions towards Iran. It is a good listen. There is a lot more in this 1hr and 30min mp3.

First, you'd have to prove Bush has a brain to analyse. Be a lot better if it were Cheney or Rove's brains.
Bob Ebersole


While I was sitting at the computer, reading TOD, and deciding whether or not I wanted to go to the big ASPO-USA conference. Well, let’s be honest, it would be a bit of a downer if it stays true to mesage, you know, “oil’s peaked, there are no workable options, big depression, riots in the street, etc, now let’s go down to the steakhouse and eat....”

And then I found a more exciting take on things, by way of todays Drumbeat,
“Peaks, Plateaus and Premonitions”

“No matter how devastating this energy crisis turns out to be, it will present you with the investment chance of a lifetime.

Now that’s more like it! :-) A money making take on this thing!

“Today, Exxon Mobil's net income in the second quarter experienced a loss of $100 million. I'll keep my opinions to myself, for now. Remember, this is the same oil company that's been laughing at the idea of peak oil, insisting new discoveries and technology would certainly be enough to keep up production . . .

Actually, you can hear it straight from them.

According to their chief equity strategist, Barry James, "We're starting o see a crack in the production side."

One hundred million dollars is a big crack.”

Well, for me and maybe for you, it would be a pretty big crack, but in the oil business, they shake that kind of money out of the leather chairs in the executive club room...
Take Chevron....again, reference todays Drumbeat...”Net income in the quarter increased to $5.38 billion....hmmm, so Exxon down 100 million while smaller Chevron up 5.38 Billion....oil may be fungible but profit doesn’t seem to be?

Back to a nice summer, trip, why go to the downer of the ASPO-USA Conference when instead....

I'd like to invite you to see for yourself, though. On September 13-16, 2007, you can join me at our conference 2007 Angel Research "Profit from the Peak" Summit in Philadelphia. But there are only a few days left before discounted rates are closed, so if you're interested, visit here now. I look forward to hearing from you personally.”

The time has now come: The peddling of peak has begun. Ahhh, it feels like the old days in the late 1970’s/early ‘80’s when books and tapes hit the stores, “Howard J. Ruff’s Coming Bad Times”, and “How to Survive the Coming Depression”, and “How to Prosper in the Bad Times Ahead”, etc, etc,.....sadly of course, for those who bought in, they missed the best years of the biggest wealth producing boom in world history...oh well, it’s only money....

Of course, you don’t want to make it too depressing, or people will actaully get afraid....after all, what’s a bunch of paper dollars gonna’ do for you if your fending off the “Mad Max” gangs, and living in a barn drinking pond water?

Thus we see yet another peak peddlers column, linked again on Drumbeat....
Profit from Oil's Next Surge

They predict the horrors of $4.00 gasoline, and $100 dollar a barrel oil....which begs the question, who would notice? I recently went to a lake resort for my high school reunion....a pleasant drive down curvy hilly roads in my 1981 Diesel 240D Benz....but I had to be careful not to be run over by giant SUV’S trying to do 60 down the curvy roads, all the while pulling huge cabin cruiser speedboats....when I got to the reunion I parked near the other “small car” on the lot, a 2005 Mercedes sedan with over 270 horsepower....(my old oil burner makes maybe 60 or 70)...most of the rest of the lot was filled with the above mentioned large SUV’s (“we need it to take the grandkids on vacations with us...”)

Wait, I just noticed, I could make the trip to the”peak peddlers” thing on September 13-16, 2007, and learn how to make a buck on this thing, and still be able to make the ASPO-USA trip to Houston on Oct. 17 through 20, and hear lectures by people who have just flown or driven in about how “you people” need to learn that we are all going to have live and think differently ahd consume a fraction of the fuel.....etc

Hey, I know I swore off road trips this summer, but fuel is still cheap and well, it won’t matter that much will it? It is for a good cause, and the food may be good.....

Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom

Heh. Don't worry - there will be plenty of people (there already are) making a killing off PO. In more ways than one.

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

Executive Summary

These comments are about oil, innovation, environment, terrorists and politics. Each has a loose, yet common link with the other.

Americans are spending more than $1 billion dollars per day for imported oil, nearly $2 trillion since 9/11.

To help the environment, reduce terrorism, and demand political focus only one issue must be addressed. That issue continues to be the development of an alternative fuel that will allow anyone to safely store and transport the energy from clean, non-polluting energy resources such as wind, wave, tidal, geothermal, and solar. Hydrogen is too dangerous and the “Hydrogen Economy” has failed. It is time to consider other options, other fuels.

• Money - A barrel of oil cost $11 in 1998 and is over $77 today (27 July 2007)
• Innovation –We need a non-explosive, environmentally safe, and energy dense transportation fuel that could be sold in a container from either a grocery store or “gas” station. The distribution infrastructure must be via common freight, such as food.
• Environment - Whether you believe in Global Warming or not, nearly everyone agrees that gasoline and diesel fuel must be replaced with fuels from non-polluting and renewable energy sources.
• Terrorists - Oil money funds most terrorist groups, either directly or indirectly. Replace oil and the funding for terrorism is reduced. Public safety and energy independence are tied together.
• Politics - Defining the problem. What can the average citizen do?

Goal - The goal is to stimulate development of a renewable fuel when made from clean, non-polluting energy resources – a fuel that is less expensive than gasoline or diesel fuel and will result in the net long term sequestration of carbon dioxide.

Re: Bullet # 1 - Money

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is an international oil monopoly. Both OPEC and the multi-national oil companies that transport and distribute OPEC’s product support each other. Indeed, they need each other for collecting and transferring the vast quantities of money used to buy imported oil. For obvious reasons, neither major oil companies nor OPEC wish to see their cash flow stopped. Any National Energy Policy designed to not use oil would be bad for both sides of this monopoly.

In a global sense, an energy monopoly by definition means the majority of the world’s people are being manipulated on a far-reaching scale. The price of oil has risen from $11 in 1998 to over $77 per barrel today (27 July 2007). Since 9/11 the cost of imported oil to the American public has been around $2 trillion. At today’s prices for imported oil, another 2/3rd trillion more dollars will be spent before a new President takes office. That equates to about $2,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States.

Re: Bullet # 2 - Innovation

Any physics professor can tell you that the energy density of wind within an area of 20X200 miles in the Aleutians would replace all transportation fuels in the United States if this energy could be safely stored and shipped as an alternative fuel. Geothermal energy is widely available over much of the western United States. Wave and tidal energy are sitting off the coast of most of our largest cities. Only twenty square miles of ocean wave generation off the coast of Oregon roughly equals the output of one nuclear power plant, such as that produced by the now decommissioned Oregon Trojan Nuclear Power Plant. The coast line of Oregon is 296 miles long. Solar energy is everywhere. The question is not whether renewable energy sources are available on a scale capable of replacing oil but rather how to convert this energy into a fuel that is safe and easy to transport. What must be done is unite public policy with new energy guidelines. Incentives, a fundamental change in energy policy at a national level, emerging technologies and, most importantly, leadership are required to make this happen. The answer to energy independence is in Washington DC.

On the first day of every month each Senator and Congressman should ask the US Department of Energy (DOE), “What results toward a method of storing and transporting clean energy do you have to show us?” The public must also become involved. However to do that the DOE must become more open and must educate everyone equally as to what can and cannot be done. To develop a level playing field the DOE must explain what is being done now, and why. Most importantly, tell us the timelines. No one is interested in a renewable energy agenda that might take place in 10-20 years.

Tangential to this monthly effort from the DOE should be a process where any inventor, entrepreneur, or corporation in the world would have an incentive to become involved. To get thousands of individuals and corporations working on the different aspects of renewable energy requires motivation and nothing seems to stimulate motivation better than cash. It is suggested that Oregon’s Senators and Congressmen consider national legislation toward a significant prize for a proven method of storing and transporting energy from clean, non-polluting energy sources. Possibly an amount equal to 1% of what has been spent on the failed “Hydrogen Economy” would be enough to spur public input and innovation. Whatever the prize or reasoning, the point is to stimulate innovation on a more unrestrained scale.

The primary objective must be the development of a renewable transportation fuel from non-polluting energy sources. This fuel must be non-explosive, environmentally safe, energy dense and physically in a form that could even be sold in a container from a grocery store. The FreedomCAR program parameters should be considered - but only from clean, non-polluting energy resources and only when the alternative fuel is synthesized with a net sequestration of carbon dioxide.

United States citizens have waited for our government to lead in finding an option to buying more oil. Nothing tangible has come of it. Change the structure. If a prize is considered, open the prize to any person or any corporation and bypass government departments and agencies. If an American can’t come up with a method of becoming independent of oil and fossil fuels, possibly someone else will? This is a world issue, not just ours alone. It is time to try new approaches and stimulate answers from anyone, everyone.

Re: Bullet # 3 - Environment

Another issue that is becoming critical to Americans is the logic and witness of oil and coal negatively impacting our environment. If Global Warming is real our grandchildren will suffer enormous hardships involving food, water, displacement and war over what meager pickings are available. The oil conglomerates say there is plenty of oil but they do not mention at what price.

Wind, geothermal, wave and solar generated power are clean certainties. They are renewable and clearly important options for becoming energy independent. Yet, neither the cost of oil or serious climatic change seems to create a sense of urgency in our government to replace fossil fuels on a massive scale. As with the hydrogen in the “Hydrogen Economy” the problem is how to store this energy in a transportable way so that transmission lines and the grid are not overloaded.

Climate-change issues are not just the oil and coal lobbies blocking clean energy technologies, as utility companies also protect their turf. Indeed, utility companies only make money when electricity flows through their power lines. Although utility interests develop wind generated power when windy areas transect available power line capacity, this energy is merely a pittance of what is required to replace the energy within transportation fuels.

By any honest method of measurement, utility and coal interests for building 150 more coal fired power plants in the United States over the next 10-20 years is going to dump millions, probably billions of tons of carbon dioxide and other pollutants into our environment. This is clearly the wrong direction as roughly half of our pollution problems are with oil and half with the coal-utility industry. A paradigm shift with both oil and coal is needed.

Re: Bullet # 4 – Terrorists

Terrorists often get their cash to operate from the sale of oil, sometimes directly and most often indirectly. That is not a secret. Oil money is the currency for buying the bullets and roadside bombs that kill our soldiers. In straightforward terms we are funding those with whom we fight. Hundreds, if not thousands of our soldiers have died from bullets or roadside bombs paid for with oil-money that came from America. Not a single politician in Washington, DC disputes this fact. Yet, while our politicians hotly debate immigration, stem cell research, gay marriage, abortion, cars getting more miles per gallon, Scooter Libby, Wall Street greed and on-going congressional summons and now contempt citations the attention span of political Washington never seems to focus long enough on how to eliminate this cost so that our nation becomes energy independent.

Homeland Security and military operations are costing hundreds of billions of tax dollars every year. A logical argument can be made that the most important element in both military Defense and Homeland Security spending is to replace oil and reduce, even eliminate, terrorist funding. The current choice of political Washington, DC is to focus on more weapons of war overseas and more security here at home. That translates into more soldiers on the ground and more cops in our airports. However, the fundamental issue in stopping terrorism is not being addressed with more soldiers and police. Stop the flow of cash going into terrorist hands and terrorism stops as well.

Unfortunately, some form of bully or terrorist will always be a factor in a non-perfect world. These comments represent only a different viewpoint and offer merely a single step, although a focused step, toward what should be rather than what is.

Re: Bullet # 5 – Politics

The American public has become an international sucker on a number of different levels. We are paying for the bullets that kill our soldiers and continue to not recognize a monopoly is stopping development of a new National Energy Policy. Our country is spending trillions of dollars on imported oil and trillions more on war materials and homeland security. Blood is being shed for access to oil, not in all scenarios but certainly in some.

Replace oil and other fossil fuels with alternative fuels made from clean and renewable energy sources and global temperatures will fall into more historical patterns - if man is indeed the cause of this problem. If Global Warming is caused by man there is no choice but to take action as soon as is possible, as each year that passes the scale of the problem becomes more and more critical. Finally, local production and distribution of new transportation fuels means hundreds of thousands of new, well paying jobs. Circulating and re-circulating a trillion dollars every 2-3 years within our economy, any economy, will change the entire infrastructure of that country for the better.

This essay urges that the first of every month our leaders ask themselves, “Are we closer to becoming energy independent?” If this question is not the first on their monthly agenda, something must change. Quite honestly, few citizens expect anything other than the current energy-status-quo from Washington, DC. That hurts to say because I am a Republican and a handful of Republican Senators and Congressmen are blocking development of clean, non-polluting energy sources. This is called an expedient political agenda for those who support fossil fuels and a sorry state of affairs by everyone else.

Americans expect our elected officials to demand change when results don’t come about. If the DOE can not produce results, get someone who can. Any political agenda or national interest, other than to craft and pass into law a new National Energy Policy promoting a very short timeline for the exclusion of oil, will allow the oil companies and OPEC to continue their ways. The focus of our Senators and Congressmen must be to demand that the DOE develops a method of storing energy from clean and non-polluting energy sources within a timeline that lights a fire under the DOE bureaucracy. Without a timeline, nothing happens. By nudging political direction in any direction other than this focus, the result will be the status quo and continuation of trillions of dollars leaving this country for imported oil. The overall costs associated with homeland security and military requirements will be dramatically reduced, not increased as the stage becomes set for eliminating oil.

In conclusion, on your Senate or Congressional door we ask that you paste “#1” as a reminder of this goal. Additionally, on the 1st business day of every month your public asks that you require the Department of Energy to update you regarding continuing efforts toward energy independence, specifically what exact developments for storing energy from clean and non-polluting energy sources have been achieved in the previous month. If you believe terrorists are being funded with oil money then consider those who have died from your State. If you believe that Global Warming is a critical issue then factor that into your thinking. Americans, indeed most people in the world, desire a proactive energy policy change. These issues are at least partially linked with a single technology breakthrough of how to safely store and transport the energy from wind, waves, geothermal, and solar power.

It’s time for bipartisan support and a paradigm shift in all energy related matters. The place to start is at the US Department of Energy. If you are a Republican as I am, think of it as the # 1 issue for the foreseeable future, your future.