DrumBeat: July 31, 2007

Oil settles above $78, sets new record

Oil futures settled at a record high above $78 Tuesday on expectations that crude inventories fell last week and reports of new violence in Nigeria, a large oil producer and key supplier to the U.S.

Investors believe Wednesday's inventory report by the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration will show that refiners drew down oil inventories as they continued to increase gasoline production last week, analysts said.

...Light, sweet crude for September delivery gained $1.38 to settle at $78.21 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That puts futures within striking distance of the intraday record, and beat the settlement price record of $77.03 set the same day.

Why oil is rising but gas gets cheaper

Higher refinery activity has pushed crude to record highs but helped gasoline prices drop 11 percent. Will the trend continue?

Plateau Oil

The report blames the Russians for not boosting production. In past reports, the IEA assumed that inefficient and somewhat corrupt Russian state oil companies could greatly increase that nation’s oil export capacity. It also assumed that Russian leaders would overlook harsh criticism by some Western powers and invest billions of dollars in new oil fields to keep the worldwide price of oil down. Not surprisingly, Russian oil production has not risen sharply, but has declined since February.

Report blaming quake stokes Indonesia volcano row

A report blaming an earthquake for a 2006 mud volcano eruption in Indonesia stoked a dispute on Tuesday about whether a gas drilling well or geology caused the disaster that engulfed thousands of homes.

Solar power makes tiny village beam

In Gudda, a village with very little, residents are literally beaming. Just two years ago, villagers had never seen light after dark, unless it came from the moon. Then, solar light arrived and changed everything.

Geopolitics, Oil And Water

The most troubling element of the latter-day industrial revolutions in India and China may lie in their soaring energy demands. The rise in the consumption of natural resources is significant because of the sheer number of people involved: There are a combined 600 million Americans and Europeans, but more than a billion Chinese and a billion Indians. India's oil consumption has doubled since 1992, and China's has doubled since 1994. Today, India and China have low per-capita petroleum consumption, but if the two nations used as much oil as the U.S., there wouldn't be enough oil for the world.

The race for resources like oil can put countries at loggerheads, and the foreign policies of both India and China are increasingly dictated by their energy needs. They have made up with historical enemies and, more alarmingly, have cozied up to nations led by despots or in otherwise unsavory states of affairs. Before our eyes, post-Cold War political alliances are shifting.

House Moves Favor Energy Industry: Democrats Drop Some of Bill's Provisions

Bowing to pressure from energy-state Democrats, House leaders have yanked some of the more industry-unfriendly provisions embedded in their proposed energy package.

But Democratic leaders have yet to decide whether to allow a vote to raise fuel mileage standards for cars and trucks.

Hoping to quell a revolt among producing-state Democrats and bring an energy bill to the floor by week's end, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., agreed to back off some proposals critics had complained could hamper domestic energy production.

Marathon Oil buying Western Oil

Energy company Marathon Oil Corp. said Tuesday it has agreed to buy Western Oil Sands Inc. for $5.5 billion in cash and stock, giving it a stake in Canada's oil sands market.

New hope for uranium wealth in Dar

Tanzania is set to experience a flurry of activities in its mining industry as recent explorations have identified uranium rich sandstone formations in the country.

Cap on wind power riles critics

The Stelmach government foresees nearly doubling the amount of wind-power generation allowed in Alberta, even as the province remains the only jurisdiction in Canada to cap the production of wind energy.

Coal could pay to save forests

The stark truth is that sustainable forest management in natural forests in the tropics is very often simply not as rewarding economically as the combination of rapid logging and conversion of the land to other uses.

Crudely put, natural forests are seen by many national and local interest groups as being worth more dead than alive.

Exposed: The Truth Behind Popular Carbon Offsetting Schemes

Academics and environmentalists are questioning the ethics and impact of offsetting -- and suggesting that offsetting schemes have not been as effective as claimed.

Indonesia sees slower palm oil expansion from 2010

Indonesia expects palm oil output to grow sharply in the next two years but stricter forest protection may then slow expansion, a senior industry official has said.

Chavez backs Energy Minister Ramirez despite scarcity of oil drilling rigs

President Hugo Chavez is backing Venezuela's Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez despite repeated opposition criticism of his management of the nation's oil industry, Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and a current scarcity in oil drilling rigs.

Oil inches near record high

U.S. oil climbed above $77 a barrel Wednesday, rising toward its all-time high, on forecasts for another weekly decline in crude stocks in top consumer the United States and a recovery in world share markets.

U.S. crude was up 50 cents at $77.33 a barrel in electronic trading after hitting $77.43, the highest mark since Aug. 8, 2006. London Brent crude was up 58 cents at $76.32.

Stocks around the world bounced back sharply Tuesday as volatile credit markets stabilized.

UK oil sector needs greater investment, output study

The multinational oil companies are jeopardising the UK's "energy security, and possibly future wealth" by their reluctance to invest at higher levels, according to the Royal Bank of Scotland's UK Oil and Gas Output index, published yesterday.

Despite near-record investment in the past year, it has failed to reverse the year-on-year decline in North Sea oil and gas production.

The survey also noted the upward trend in monthly output changes came to an abrupt end in May, delivering further evidence that the underlying longer-term decline will not be stemmed, said the survey.

Kazakh PM Sees Kashagan Delay as Breach of Contract

The Kazakh government views the failure of the consortium developing Kashagan to start production by 2008 as a breach of contract, the news agency Interfax quoted Prime Minister Karim Masimov as saying Monday.

"Through the press I warn the company that we consider changes to the timeline for Kashagan to be a change of the contract itself," Masimov said.

...Italy's Eni, the operator of the project, formally notified the government last week that the first oil from the project would be produced only in 2010.

This is the second delay for the Kashagan project after the initial 2005 start date was postponed.

Rethinking Three Mile Island

Ralph DeSantis was home in bed before dawn on March 28, 1979 when his phone rang. It was his shift supervisor at Three Mile Island (TMI), calling from the plant. "'We have an emergency at Unit II and it's serious,'" is the first thing DeSantis remembers hearing. Then he heard the alarms going off.

Twenty-eight years after the worst accident in the history of the US nuclear power industry, the alarms are still going off, and the consequences are still being felt. That's why I made TMI one of my first stops on a two-week, 7,000-mile road trip through the past, present and future of nuclear power in America.

To Peak or not to Peak – A View from the Front Line

Yes, I work for a company that is a member of the NPC, but I am not a big hairy monster who dips his food in crude oil before devouring it. Similarly, I do not believe that the NPC and its affiliate members are conspiring to cover up a scenario that paints a dire end time for the world as we face more and more extreme difficulties on the O&G supply side. I challenge you to read and reread the NPC’s executive summary bullet points, both the observations and also the recommendations. I put forth that if one did not know the identity of the authoring body, or if one were not as intimately in tune with the current energy situation as all of you reading this assuredly are, you might think that this was a rather enlightening piece of work. Admittedly I may be biased as an industry participant, but please know that my passions reside firmly in the middle ground here and I seek only solutions as do all of you.

White House sees black gold in melting sea ice

The Bush administration is worried about missing out on a bonanza of oil and other resources in the Arctic unless Congress approves a treaty that helps determine who has rights to the area's wealth.

Arctic sea ice has decreased nearly 20% in the last two decades as the Earth's climate warms, making access to the area easier. The eight countries bordering the region, including the USA, are now staking competing claims.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the Arctic seabed and subsoil hold as much as 25% of the world's undiscovered oil and gas. Other resources such as nickel and diamonds also are present.

Saudi Aramco to invite bids for US$10 billion Manifa developments

Saudi Aramco is expected to invite companies in August to help develop Manifa oil field, with a potential production of 900,000 barrels of oil a day, sources familiar with the company's plans said earlier this week.

Aramco, the world's largest oil supplier, plans to invite prequalified companies to bid for an estimated US$3 billion worth of contracts on the company's largest-ever offshore project.

UK launches CO2 car rankings Web site

Britain's Department of Transport has launched a Web site designed to let new car buyers choose the most environmentally friendly vehicle for their needs.

China's energy efficiency improving

The energy efficiency of China's fuel-guzzling economy is improving but the country — the world's No. 2 oil consumer — is still struggling to meet self-imposed conservation targets, the government said Tuesday.

Feds search Sen. Stevens' home

Federal agents searched the home of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens on Monday, focusing on records related to his relationship with an oil field services contractor jailed in a public corruption investigation, a law enforcement official said.

New study on uranium from phosphates

Nuclear fuel analyst and trader Nukem has agreed to conduct a study for CF Industries on extracting uranium as a biproduct from operations at the Plant City Phosphate Complex in Florida, USA.

A new and different kind of nuclear race

According to the International Energy Agency based in Paris, the world's energy needs will rise by 51 percent by 2030 due to world-wide industrialization and population growth, which could in turn lead to an environmental nightmare. Everyone wants more environmental-friendly energy and many have focused on the pollution-free benefits of nuclear power.

In addition to the issue of global warming and greenhouse emissions, many nations are also concerned about the stable supply of fossil fuel, especially from the Middle East, and the ever-rising oil prices in recent years. As a result, nuclear energy is now viewed not only as a greener option, but also a cheaper one - unlike fossil fuel, there is plenty of uranium supply in the global market right now and at least 19 countries are currently mining uranium and countries like Australia, Kazakhstan and Namibia have all recorded significant production increases between 2003 and 2006.

Oil Companies Continue to Take Risks Despite Objections

A group of U.S. pension funds, including the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (Calpers), the New York State Common Retirement Funds, and New York City Pension Funds, have leveled pointed criticisms at several oil and gas companies for their involvement in Iran’s energy sector. The letter went out to such prominent global energy giants as Royal Dutch Shell Plc., Total, Eni, Repsol, and Gazprom.

Toyota will offer a cheaper Prius

Coming soon to a Toyota dealer near you: a slightly less expensive Prius.

Toyota Motor Corp. said Monday it would introduce a new "standard" version of its popular gas-electric hybrid for the 2008 model year with a base price of $20,950, not including destination charges. That's 5.5 percent - $1,225 - less than the lowest-cost 2007 model.

Delaware crop damage getting serious

"It's a rough time for farmers," said Mark Collins, a Laurel watermelon, grain and poultry farmer. "If this isn't a disaster, I don't know what is."

Collins said farmers whose fields aren't irrigated are seeing their corn and soybeans dying in the fields. He expects to pay 50 percent more in fuel costs this year because of the extra diesel fuel and electricity needed to irrigate his crops.

Officials visit clean CTL plant

Pike County officials say they made a trip to North Dakota last week to prove it's possible to turn coal into liquid fuel in a clean manner, but are still reluctant to say how close the county is to landing such a facility.

Russia reaps rich harvest with potash

Two demand drivers lift the potash price in Asia. Food is one; fuel, that is to say biofuel, is the other.

As an agricultural fertilizer, the fundamentals for potash are unique. Nitrogen and phosphate are the other essential ingredients for plant growth, but both are produced from natural gas; they are abundant in supply; and because they depend on rising gas prices, profit margins for producers are being squeezed.

UN General Assembly to hold informal debate on climate change

The informal debate, which will bring together prominent scientists, business leaders and UN officials, is "to consider how to translate the growing scientific consensus on climate change into a broad political consensus for action," a UN statement said.

Interesting Q&A on CNBC this morning regarding oil prices:

Q: Are oil prices up because of inflation or because of economic growth?

A: A little of both.

Of course, there is a third possibility--declining production.

However, there was a very interesting discussion later, including Peter Schiff--who pretty much took on all of the talking heads. Schiff said that the primary reason that interest rates are not higher is that some foreign governments are still buying US Treasury bonds--basically "at gunpoint."

He said that just as the subprime (prime?) mortgage bonds were mispriced, US Treasury bonds, US stocks and US real estate are all mispriced, and he predicted that all three would crash. Needless to say, his message was not well received by the talking heads.

"At gunpoint"? What did he mean by that?

He didn't elaborate, and the talking heads didn't ask. IMO, two possibilities (both may be correct): (1) Foreign governments, especially exporters to the US, are afraid of what might happen if they stop buying US bonds and/or (2) The US government is making an offer that some governments "can't refuse."

Marc Faber (in Barron's in January) described the 30 year US Treasury bond, held to maturity, as "The world's worst investment."

Do watch Motormouth Cramer on this little video: Just walk away

"By the way, I'm not distinguishing anymore between subprime and prime: When your house loses 20% of its value, it's better to just walk away [or sell it], even if you're wealthy. You don't want to lose your credit card, and you don't want to lose your car. Your house is the one thing that's fungible".

Translation: if it loses 20%, it'll lose more.

the more i see that Cramer guy, the more i like him. He might be ADD on steroids.. but he seems to speak more reality than any of the others.

High noise:signal ration though
When no-one around you understands
start your own revolution
and cut out the middle man

He got in trouble for suggesting on air people walk away from their mortgages and they made him come on and say, he wasn't telling people to walk away from their mortgages, then went on to qualify it saying HE would. You could see that just before he went on camera he had just been is a major argument and was adrenaline rushing. (Yes, I know he always looks like that, but you could see he was red faced and still angry.)

On another note, this could be it. The Hang Seng is down almost 1,000 points, close to 5%. All of Asia is significantly down. Nikkei is also down almost 5%. Today, all day they were talking about the FEAR that was a tangible presence on the trading floor. This from people who hold a pep rally whenever the market is even slightly down. Fear is a word they are not allowed to use.

FTSE 100 and CAC 40 just went into freefall. Dax off over 2%.

Ahha - I was surprised interest rates were not up already. There had to be a reason.
When do the heavy handed players Russia/China get (more) fed up. Allow a slow unwinding or push back a bit?

The video on housingdoom.com had an interesting comments. We should "plow under" the excess houses to maintain prices and sell all real estate!(that should help)

Everyone makes the assumption that all participates in the market act in their own economic best interest; but many times, they do not.

Peter is correct; the statistics show that the bulk of our T-Bill purchases are being done by foreign central banks, not individual investors. Foreign central banks do not always act with a profit motive; they act with geo-political motives, which results in situations that do not make economic sense (al la China and USA).

i thought that a lot of the t-bills were being bought up by "offshore" banks, i.e. cia laundered money.

I heard Martians

Yes Mssr. Schiff certainly took his lumps from the MSM CNBC cheerleaders, et al. The "gunpoint" reference escaped them. No country wants to be the parent to tell his spoiled child that they don't get any more allowance, when the parent is selling candy. Schiff may have also been eluding to our sale of weapons, e.g. gunpoint to KSA, etc.

All the while, consumer confidence now at 6 year high *amazing*

-- All the while, consumer confidence now at 6 year high *amazing*

Which tells you, right there, that the person in the street has no clue as to the seriousness of our energy/geo-political/economic/climate predicaments. My guess is that the number is traceable to one simple event -- the DOW hitting the 14,000 mark.

What is so bad about all this is that not everyone is the man on the street. A Friend of mine ran for Governor of the state of Arkansas last year. We only met this year, he manages a store in the River Market area of downtown Little Rock around which I do some of my work with the Homeless.

The whole company is working a more Green effort. Recyclables in almost all of their products, and foodware, They are a food company. (( Best cheese selction this side of say Memphis ))

His lastest blog effort points out the headwinds we are all facing.


In a comment he makes about running for Governor of Arkansas in 2006. The media really does not get it. In my work for HUSH (Homeless United to Save the Homeless) I know that when we depend on the mainstream Media in our own backyards to do their part they drop off the map and can't remember where they last left their notes.

The Person on the street is not the worst issue here it is the Media, and When looking at Rod's site check out the Bill Moyers bilp.

Where is Max Headroom when you need a good Blip-vert.

On January 14th, 2000, the DJIA closed at 11722. If you use the Federal Reserve's own inflation calculator, and plug in 11722 and 2000 into the start value and year and then advance to 2007, you will see that the DJIA would have to get to 13988 just to break even. And this assumes that the Federal Reserve inflation numbers are accurate, a subject which is hotly disputed by many observers who contend that the Federal Reserve and the BLS both deliberately understate inflation.

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

Heh. Nice. Simple. Direct.

I would like to compare a bunch of things like the DOW/price of oil/etc... to some non-standard costs - does anyone know if this has been done by anyone else (I know the DOW has been)?

E.g. What is the price of oil compared to gold historically, or the average/median/lower and upper percentiles of wages, etc...

Will have a search later, but if anyone has come across any comparisons like this, info would be greatly appreciated. Cheers.

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

Marc Faber (in Barron's in January) described the 30 year US Treasury bond, held to maturity, as "The world's worst investment."

Far from it: some of the mortgage backed instruments are going to zero. And there are ways to actually end up owing lots of money. Any form of long term bond is, however, a very bad investment, no matter what asset backs it.

...no matter what asset backs it.

Correction: I should have said "even if, unlike Treasuries, an asset backs it".

"By the way, I have here a million-dollar bill. In my lifetime I will need a million dollars to buy a cup of coffee."

-- Marc Faber (in Barron's, January issue)

Faber sounds like a lunatic sometimes.

RE the "at gunpoint" remark.

What's to "elaborate" on or even bother to "ask" about it.

IMO, the *gun* is the insane system of profligate economic growth that makes an addict of everyone for the same thing, underpinned by the US leading the way to global consumption disease.

It's the classic "Monkey Trap" and in this case everyone has their hand in the trap but no one wants or dares to pull theirs out, because this one is rigged to go off like an IED.

Sooner or later, one way or another, everyone is going to get their hands blown off, but meanwhile they play along hoping to escape with just losing a pinky.

I think he meant China buys a bunch to make sure we keep buying their exports and our "friends" in the Middle East keep buying so that they can get that recent deal on our latest weaponry package.


As Freud said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Look at Iraq, Iran, etc.

Well, buying treasury notes redeemable for advanced weapons is pretty much like paying with advanced weapons instead of U$S.

That's part of it.

When you really look at the whole picture, then we are paying twice what we are being told because other parties get an equivalent amount of weapons at no cost and for no valid reason at all, and in a strange way reflects a 50% discount on the US paper.

Sure it sounds like a stretch, but think about it.

This may be another piece of evidence that some of those
foreign countries that are feeling that hard, cold
finger of steel just behind their occipital lobe may
be starting to ponder a Van Damme-turnaround-jump-kick.

And a fourth possibility (in addition to the third) - the cheap oil supply is being slowly replaced by a more expensive oil supply...causing higher prices.

Net Oil Exports From Top 16 Net Oil Exporters (Graph by "Mr. 5%"):

Neat graph. Is that a permanent link and will the graph be updated?


I haven't seen "Mr. 5%" around lately. Apparently, his name is symbolic of the fact that his graph shows a 5% decline in total liquids net exports by the top 16 (about 90% of total net exports in 2006) from 9/05 to 3/07.

This link has the data tables:

I haven't seen "Mr. 5%" around lately. Apparently, his name is symbolic


It began with a character known as "Mr. 5%"- Calouste Gulbenkian - who, in 1925, slicked King Faisal, neophyte ruler of the country recently created by Churchill, into giving Gulbenkian's "Iraq Petroleum Company" (IPC) exclusive rights to all of Iraq's oil. Gulbenkian flipped 95% of his concession to a combine of western oil giants: Anglo-Persian, Royal Dutch Shell, CFP of France, and the Standard Oil trust companies (now ExxonMobil and its "sisters.") The remaining slice Calouste kept for himself - hence, "Mr. 5%."

Looking at the net oil exports chart it would seem that a near term bottom was reached in 2002 at around 32,000,000 of barrels per day, followed by a rise to about 40,000,000 in 2005.

Since then exports have been falling and now are about 38,000,000 barrels per day. If the ELM is correct, then all exportable oil will be eliminated by 2013?

Kind of feels like when a doctor tells a patient he has only so many more months to live.....

Flavius Aetius

Continuing clarification: The Export Land Model (ELM) is for a hypothetical country, which is consuming 50% of production, at peak production and peak exports.

Some countries will do better than the ELM--and some will do, or have done, worse (e.g., the UK).

One additional point might be that if they stop buying treasuries (since they own almost $2.2 trillion worth) the U.S. might face an economic meltdown which could well melt down the rest of the world's economies with it. If they pull their funds, what are the U.S. options? Default on the remainder of the debt? Print more money to cover that portion of the debt (obviously highly inflationary and would probably cause meltdown on its own)? Raise interest rates to appease foreign investors (and partially make up for the declining value of the dollar) which would then finally kill our housing and financial markets? As someone said, geopolitical concerns might outweigh immediate economic returns and the need to support the U.S. economy probably factors into the investment decisions.

Wait till the ratings agencies have to come clean.....

Bear, Lehman, Merrill, Goldman Traded as Junk, Derivatives Show 

On Wall Street, Bear Stearns Cos., Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., are as good as junk.

Bonds of U.S. investment banks lost about $1.5 billion of their face value this month as the risk of owning the securities increased the most since at least October 2004, according to Merrill indexes. Prices of credit-default swaps based on the debt imply that their credit ratings are below investment grade, data compiled by Moody's Investors Service show.

“Wall of Worry'

Prices of credit-default swaps for Goldman, the biggest investment bank by market value, Merrill, the third largest, and Lehman, the No. 1 mortgage bond underwriter, also equate to a Ba1 rating, data from Moody's credit strategy group show. Bonds of New York-based Goldman and Merrill are rated Aa3, seven levels higher than swaps suggest. Lehman is rated A1, the same as Bear Stearns.

About 1 percent of the thousands of companies followed by Moody's have a gap of more than five levels between their actual and implied rankings, analyst Tony Smith said in a July 19 report titled “Broker Securities Climb a Wall of Worry.''

I caught Peter Schiff bantering with the others on inflation, bonds, etc. It was great. It was basically one Austrian economist against and panel of roughly 5 Keynesians plus the hosts. I still find it shocking that CNBC even lets him on. I think it is their way of being “fair and balanced”; al la Fox News. They bring him on to provide an alternative point of view, but then all the other panelists and the even the hosts make fun of Peter’s point of view.

The hosts did ask Peter if the issues with credit drying up will result in a deflationary event. He said no; the Federal Reserve will do what ever means necessary to pump the market with liquidity and it will ultimately result in a higher inflationary environment.

So many people are freaking out that the drying up of available credit is going to bring the next 1929. Please read the pdf document written by two members of the Dallas Federal Reserve:

In the document, the authors outline that the Fed could move into market areas that are currently restricted from the Fed participating in; such as corporate bonds, commercial paper, equities, and mortgages in an effort to prop up the market and prevent deflation. Every single method they use will only result in more inflation.

We will not have deflation… we will have dis-inflation, followed by lots and lots of inflation….

George Ure's comments on the same subject, from Urban Survival:

Our continuing words of caution about investing in real estate (except farm land) for the last several years seems to have worked out spot on. Two years or so, back, I advised one of my sons in law not to buy repo homes in the Valley of the Sun/Phoenix area yet. Then yesterday, as we were talking about something else, he happened to mention that 'a lot of homes in the Phoenix area were down 20% pr more..."

Not that it came as any surprise to us, as our deflationist friend, Jas Jain, had been telling everyone (including our kids) more than two years ago that the Housing Bubble was fizzling. His concern - and it's almost a sure bet - is that Peak Debt, which comes along with Peak Oil, Peak Consumerism, and Peak Everything, will lead most people to financial ruin shortly.

Or will it? With the housing bubble imploding, the best Treasury Secretary Paulson has been able to do is beg the Congress to raise the debt ceiling to well over $9-trillion in order to avoid "unnecessary uncertainty" in the financial markets.

I've used the metaphor of the US consumer at a four way intersection with four 18 wheelers headed his way:

(1) Flat to declining real wages, because of inflation and because of foreign competition for jobs;

(2) Declining real estate values;

(3) Rising food & energy prices;

(4) Rising health care costs and interest rates.


I've used the metaphor of the US consumer at a four way intersection with four 18 wheelers headed his way:

Only I would see that as a fun game of chicken. I habitually cross roads when the car facing me is mere inches from me. (( yes I am crazy, enough said )) Unless the four trucks were going at the exact same speed I think I could avoid them, honest.

LMAO. The RUSH would be intense though.

For the average guy, or gal it is going to be scary and they are likely like the rest of us just going to die. I hold no credit debt. Very little of anything. But I know so many other people that this is going to hurt that all I can say is. I know where all the soup kitchens are.

I have been up to many hours writing.

The gloom with the Fed is just to much for me to handle over all this talk of Climate Change and who to vote for in 2008. Are we going to make it to 2008 without someone suggesting that we just not hold elections that year?

I honestly do wonder this.

The Fed is in a terrible bind. Raise interest rates any higher and the entire US economy goes into core meltdown mode. However, if they lower interest rates any, then the US dollar goes into the tank, the trade deficit balloons, oil gets priced only in euros, and blue jeans at WalMart cost $100 per pair. And if they do nothing, they get criticized for doing nothing!

The big secret nobody is talking about: Global capital is invested in countries in the same way that corporate capital is invested in products or lines of business. Everybody likes a Rising Star (fast growth, increasing market share, lots of profit potential); that's what the USA used to be up to about 1970 or so, but no longer, China is the rising star now. Cows (slow growth "mature markets") are only good for milking, which is what global capital has been doing to the USA for the past quarter century. Dogs (declining "has beens") are best sold out and killed; global capital is thus in a disinvest and offshore mode as far as the US is concerned.

Once one understands this basic template, then a lot of things that have been carefully obfuscated start to become very clear. This isn't some deep dark conspiracy, just the sum total of thousands of business decisions, all carefully and rationally made. The USA is being bled dry of investment capital because it no longer makes good business sense to invest in the US. It didn't have to be this way -- it is the consequence of over a quarter century of dysfunctional government, disasterous leadership at all levels, and societal attitudes and behaviors bordering on the psychologically disturbed.

The Fed can do nothing about this underlying reality. All they can do is to contribute plays to the game that make all this a little less obvious to the general public. After all, much of that global capital has US ownership (though increasingly with offshore post office boxes), and they still need a window to complete their disinvestment in the US economy.

Actually, a falling dollar will eliminate our trade deficit, as our good become 'cheaper' and we import less because they are more 'expensive'.

"eliminate" our trade deficit ? where will all that imported oil come from ? party on party guy!

And, PartyGuy, what would we be selling? Financial Services? Last I checked, we don't make a whole lot of anything anymore other than airplanes...

Franc (penguinzee)

That's blatantly untrue though - the U.S. still has the largest single manufacturing sector on the planet, responsible for almost 15% of the country's 13 trillion dollar GDP. And adjusted for inflation, supposedly it's little changed from any point in the last 30 years.

And note there's going to be a market for selling services (Financial and otherwise) internationally for the foreseeable future.

That did not sound right, so I checked.

According to the US Department of Commerce, Manufacturing was 15.3% of GDP in 1998 and had fallen to 12.0% in 2006.


And that 12% is probably off as well. If I recall correctly the Bush administration has reclassified all sorts of work as "manufacturing" including fast food workers.

Give us credit - We do manufacture a huge number of hamburgers and french fries

12% of 13 trillion is still a hellavu lot (my data was from 2002). And it's a long way from the being the "death of manufacturing": it wouldn't seem unreasonable to expect that the falling value of the U.S. dollar should at least help it claw back to 2002 levels.

I think it was President Hu of China who said something like "We have to sell 600,000,000 tee-shirts to buy 1 Boeing 747".

Franc: The USA will be exporting wedding planners and personal trainers (both growth industries in the economy of 2007).

>The Fed is in a terrible bind. Raise interest rates any higher and the entire US economy goes into core meltdown mode. However, if they lower interest rates any, then the US dollar goes into the tank, the trade deficit balloons, oil gets priced only in euros, and blue jeans at WalMart cost $100 per pair. And if they do nothing, they get criticized for doing nothing!

The Euro won't fair any better tban the USD:

1. Euro interest rates are below US, and there currency is inflating faster (see EU M3).

2. As the prices of US imports rise, americans will buy much less. This will cause overseas manufacturing to decline, resulting in much higher unemployment. Currently the unemployment rate in the EU is double the US. I have no doubt that a US recession will result in a global recession.

3. World growthed is capped by energy production. Ultimately global GDP cant increase without more production and without less expensive energy.

4. Energy exports have trillions in USD reserves, to abandon the dollar would mean its all worthless. Even with inflation pennies are still worth something. Might as well go on a buying spree and get what ever value you can out of the USD before it truely becomes worthless.

US unemployment numbers are massively fudged so the actual rate is probably quite a bit higher here. Also in general in the US we tend to have a lot of underemployment and people taking low wage jobs its my understanding in Europe with the better unemployment benefits people are more inclined to stay on unemployment until they find equivalent work.

The key with fiat currencies are the relative valuations of the currencies. We can expect the dollar to fall relative to the rest of the fiat currencies the absolute devaluation is not so important.

Europe is in far better shape than Japan and the US so the key point for Europe is not that it won't suffer but that its better than the rest. And of course its far better off to handle high oil prices compared to the US and this is where peak oil will play a important role beyond the financial games. Don't forget that Japan is in as bad a position as the US.

Next Europe will probably continue we a sane approach of hiking interest rate or standing as others are forced to lower so you should see the Euro strengthen.

And last but not least because the Euro is not as easily manipulated as the Yen and the Dollar of the fiat currencies its probably the stablest.

And to repeat the issue is how does Europe stand in relation to the other large economies the answer is its comparatively well off. In effect its the exact reverse of the situation in 1929 with Europe in the position of maybe bailing out the US this time around but what about Japan ?

Or maybe not on second thought.

"US unemployment numbers are massively fudged"

Even John Williams at shadowstats doesn't doubt the gov't "household survey" -- where the gov't polls people to see if they are employed or not. In fact I mailed my (first ever) one of these back to the government yesterday! I'm a statistic now!

There were lots of basic questions about my household, and who was working, going to school, recently working, incapable of work, how we get to work, at what time, how many hours, etc.

>US unemployment numbers are massively fudged so the actual rate is probably quite a bit higher here. Also in general in the US we tend to have a lot of underemployment and people taking low wage jobs its my understanding in Europe with the better unemployment benefits people are more inclined to stay on unemployment until they find equivalent work.

Same is true in Europe. France for instance as a cap on workers hours on the premise that if each worker worked less, then there are more jobs to go around.

>Europe is in far better shape than Japan and the US so the key point for Europe is not that it won't suffer but that its better than the rest.

>Next Europe will probably continue we a sane approach of hiking interest rate or standing as others are forced to lower so you should see the Euro strengthen.

I doubt that very much since France, Germany and other nations with economies dependant on foriegn trade are practically demanding the EU Central bank to lower rates to prevent further currency appreiciation. Sooner or later the EUROs appriecation will take a toll on unemployment. Already the EURO's apprieciations is begining to affect trade and tourism.

I doubt that very much indeed. Europe is mostly based upon socialism, and the majority of its population is utterly dependant on gov't wealthfare. Its population is aging much more than the US and its pension liabilities are substantially higher. On top of that, Europe has few energy resources and is completely deplendant on imports. The US has large coal reserves, Uranium and more oil and gas reserves per capita than Europe.

> In effect its the exact reverse of the situation in 1929 with Europe in the position of maybe bailing out the US this time around but what about Japan ?

Europe is in no position to bail out the US as the EU has the same problems financial problems as the US does, but they are caused by its huge entitlement and wealthfare programs. I strongly believe that Europe is on the road to neo-facism, as its gov'ts have been heading into the direction of strong centralization. When jobs disappear and the entitlement programs and wealthfare problems surface the EU's favor of strong centralized gov't significantly increases the chances of a dictatorship(s).

>And last but not least because the Euro is not as easily manipulated as the Yen and the Dollar of the fiat currencies its probably the stablest.

I disagree. Look at the EU M3 and trade surplus figures. the EU is following in Japan's foot steps with lower interest rates than the US, increasing gov't debt and entitlement liabilities. The only thing keeping the EU afloat is Exports to US. When Americans cut back on EU imports Europe's problems will come home to roost.

It looks like oil prices are once again above Two "Yergins." (One "Yergin" = $38)

For the benefit of the oil trader types out there, I posted the following note on 6/28/07:


CNBC just quoted Daniel Yergin as saying that, without the "fear premium," oil prices next year should be down to $60.

Most of you probably recall Daniel Yergin's previous predictions for lower oil prices. Based on prior experience, once Yergin issues a prediction for lower prices, one should expect oil prices to be 100% or more higher than his predicted price, within one to two years of his prediction--think $120 or more within one to two years.

Regarding his $38 prediction (do a Google search for Daniel Yergin and click on "Daniel Yergin Day").

From Daniel Yergin Day Article (7/13/06):

CERA (Robert Esser):
"Rather than a 'peak,' we should expect an 'undulating plateau' perhaps three or four decades from now."

"Contrary to the theory, oil production shows no signs of a peak... Oil is a finite resource, but because it is so incredibly large, a peak will not occur this year, next year, or for decades to come"

ExxonMobil Advertisement in New York Times, June 2, 2006

"We in Opec do not subscribe to the peak-oil theory."

Acting Secretary General of Opec, Mohammed Barkindo
July 11, 2006

NYMEX hits $78.12 as of 12:11 Eastern Time. Is that a new record? I forgot what the old one was.

I think $78.40 is the number to beat.

That was the within day high. The settlement high was $77.02 (for that same day).

Record high oil price, eh.

Did OPEC say they don't believe in peak oil AGAIN!!

Perhaps its a code...



The market is well-supplied with crude oil and the current prices do not reflect market fundamentals.

Sound familiar?


There's also the possibility that the Treasury is setting up fake hedge funds to but its own bonds and thus disguise weakness in bond prices and avoid interest rate hikes to cover inflation and declines in value of the dollar.

Bob Ebersole



That sounds like a theory about a conspiracy of people operating as the government.


You're right. it does sound like a conspiracy theory. I guess I'll just have to get out my roll of aluminum foil and make a new hat to blot out their mind warp rays!

But, since the Fed makes the money, and hedge funds are under no regulation or oversight, it sure would be easy to do. And, if they're not doing it yet, I want a commission on the idea!

Bob Ebersole

>There's also the possibility that the Treasury is setting up fake hedge funds

Well the Fed can purchase treasuries and they do frequently. Research Fed Repos. No need for a fake hedge fund, when they can do it in the open.

However, I came across this article which raises an eyebrow:


Citadel Takes Over Most Sowood Assets After 50% Loss

"Citadel Investment Group LLC bought most of the assets of Sowood Capital Management LP after the Boston-based firm's two hedge funds plunged more than 50 percent this month amid the rout in credit markets."

A little digging and this isn't the only defunct hedge fund they snapped up. Either this guy is betting that he can turn around these assets for a major profit (aka Richard Rainwater style) or something else (I'll leave the speculation up to you). Since this is likely just the beginning of a much bigger fallout, it seems awfully foolish to snap these up so quickly. In a few months there will likely be even better and bigger bargins.

Normalized plot of US Personal Saving Rate Versus Brent Crude Oil Price (Year 2000 = 100, Khebab's Graph):

Two Drudge Report Headlines Today:



It's not often that I feel like saying this, but...

What a beautiful graph!

Behold Peak Oil...

To give that graph meaning and causality, you HAVE to include the average US home price development.

As is, it is far too easy to ridicule a graph like that by setting Personal Savings vs qumquats, or designer underwear, or you name it..

It says very little, and that is because spending on homes, as well as using them as leverage, is a far bigger factor than gas prices in overall spending and debt.

Following is an excerpt from an article by Kurt Cobb. He shows the US economy, with the usual pie chart approach, and then based on importance.

The second graph is very interesting:

Published on 29 Jul 2007 by Resource Insights. Archived on 29 Jul 2007.
Upside down economics
by Kurt Cobb

This method for depicting the economy was suggested to me by two things.

First, Liebig's Law of the Minimum states that an organism's growth is limited by the amount of the least available essential nutrient. In the case of world society that nutrient would be food, though many would argue that fossil fuels are the essential nutrient since so much food production depends on the use of fossil fuels and their derivatives including fertilizers and pesticides.

Second, a piece by Dmitry Podborits argues that it is nonsense to say that the U. S. economy is less vulnerable to oil supply disruptions today than in 1970s because it produces twice as much GDP per barrel of oil. Instead, Podborits suggests, we are more vulnerable to oil supply disruptions because we have so much more GDP balanced on each barrel of oil. The same argument might be made with respect to agriculture which in the United States in 1930 employed 21.5 percent of the workforce and made up 7.7 percent of GDP. In 2000 the numbers were 1.9 percent of the workforce and 0.7 percent of GDP.

The graph in your top link, and the top three steps in particular, tell you everything you need to know about the US economy long term.

I understand the suggestions, but they are simply not strong enough to present as evidence of pretty much anything. Just because 2 things happen at the same time, does not establish a correlation.

Consider the graph below, or 100 others I've seen recently. This one is gold vs USD. Same pattern: divergence starts in 2004.

Now, does the combination of the two graphs tell me that gold follows the price of oil? Or that Personal Savings follow the dollar rate? Does the dollar tank as oil prices go up? Do rising gold prices destroy Personal Savings?

All are unclear, but thinking about them is already more interesting than just linking gas prices to savings.

To make any point , you will need absolute numbers spent, not percentages or other mere relational figures.

NB: neither the Blogger pic nor the Cobb article shed much light. GDP% spent on transport is 2.8%, which would throw your graph right out the window, but that's not the whole picture: the rest of the oil use is hidden in other numbers, and therefore invisible.

Don't get me wrong, the ideas are interesting, but conclusions should not be drawn too easily from graphs. You would, in this instance, have to know what % of Personal Income is spent on gasoline, to make a valid link for a connection with Personal Savings. Especially in light of rising housing prices.

The way to avoid the trap of unprovable correlations is, besides the absolute numbers, the use of more than two variables in a graph.

A graph doesn't have to be meaningfulto be pretty and elegant looking. I think you're a spoil sport!

Bob Ebersole

Would including world oil production in the graph make it more compelling?


Look! Listen! How am I a spoil sport?

My graph has more colours, more text, more wigglies!

I think I'll call it "meaningful elegance".

It's from my blue period.


Graphs need scrutinizing, and Jeffrey needs to show that there is a connection between the data he suggests have one. I can pick a baseball player who's had a few good seasons and conect that to oil prices, or, alternatively, pick any NY Yankee and illustrate the tragic fall of the US dollar. That graph would look spectacular, I assure you.

I think WT makes the link between gas prices and Personal Savings too easily, and I think you need to be careful with that sort of thing. Let's see if we can get Khebab the home price numbers to include in the graph. Wait, maybe we should include John Williams' Shadow M3 stats.

Gas prices follow general price inflation or probably better cause it and the personal savings rate is tied to the cost of goods.

The implied connection is between commodity prices and savings.

I think thats pretty obvious.

If anything it needs real wages included.

If wages don't increase and prices go up savings goes down.

I think your making way to big a deal about nothing and your arguments are spurious to say the least not sure what the style is called but its similar to straw man argument. Since your implicitly asserting that their is no connection between prices for goods and savings which can simply be dismissed. If gas went to a 100 dollars a gallon and wages did not increase what do you think would happen to the personal savings rate ? These variables are obviously dependent.

This is why I am interested in either finding or constructing a graph of oil prices (and other things) vs income levels. No correlation required, just straight comparisons.

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

FYI, Jeffrey. The BEA revised the personal savings rate in the latest GDP report. It is now positive for years 2004-06.


Wow, that's weird. Anyone know if they have ever gone back that far with revisions? The PSR had been negative since the 2nd Quarter of 2005.

Peter Schiff, on CNBC this morning, openly questioned whether government statistics were being manipulated.

The prior 3 years NIPA stats are revised annually with the release of the Q2 GDP report. So any given year will be subject to 3 revisions. The 2005 PSR will be revised again next year.

The personal savings rate is a near meaningless statistic because it does not include capital gains or losses on such as homes, stocks and bonds. For example, a person who's house has increased in value will in fact have more savings and will feel richer. The statistic completely ignores this phenomenon.

My understanding is that it is basically a cash flow metric, i.e., the money left over after paying the bills each month, and not a measurement of total savings.

If one sticks to fairly strict definitions of what constitutes money, neither home equity nor stocks nor bonds are considered money and not part of the savings picture. A person whose house is decreasing in value will not have this reflected on the savings graph either.


that is more important than appears at first sight

because your bank will make a "margin" call for more equity if the difference between home value and mortgage loan becomes too large

and that loan is in your savings "record"

So why do the reports so utterly contradict each other?

Purely anecdotal but..

I moved to Oregon 5 years ago from Monterey Bay CA. (Silicon Valley west). For the last 8 to 10 years I have witnessed dozens, (increasing every day) of friends and colleagues discontinue their profession, from machinist, CAD engineer, professor, to MD, to be a “stay at home investor” (read gambler, nonproductive).

I now believe that this phenomenon is massively wide spread. In fact I believe that this is how the FED has tapped into a vein in order to keep the US economy ZOMBIE from flat lining.

OOOOOHHH! Wait. The BEA just revised my brain and I now believe that everything is A-OK. Nothing to see here…. Move along.

Live long and prosper


Unusual Culprits Cripple Farms in California
Published: July 31, 2007

BUTTONWILLOW, Calif. — The alfalfa here went unwatered for about 10 days, and $10,000 worth of it withered. About 20 miles to the north, the almond trees were also left thirsty, as were melons, pistachios and tomato crops, for weeks on end.

The culprits were not the typical ones — heat waves, fires or drought — but thieves, who have been stripping the copper wires out of irrigation systems throughout California. The rampant thefts have left farmers without functioning water pumps for days and weeks at a time, creating financial loss and occasional crop devastation in a region still smarting from a spectacular freeze last winter.

The descent may have begun quicker than even some here have predicted. This is not just stealing copper, but stealing food, seemingly a crime worth double the normal penalty, certainly on a par with terrorism, including so called eco terrorism. Is Mad Max already here?

I recently saw a short information about raising rates of agricultural esp. potato theft in German news TV (acc. to the accent I guess in poorer Eastern parts of Germany). People drive up to the fields in cars or bikes and dig up the potatoes, if the farmer turns up they tell him to get lost ...
Good luck to all farmers near somewhat larger settlements. There was a good reason that in the depression area in Austria all the small agri-plots in the outskirts were heavily fenced with barb wire on top.


Yikes. And potatoes are supposed to be relatively safe from theft, being underground and all.

Easy to dig 'em up. Stick a shovel under the plant, grab the base of the greens with your other hand, and leverage the whole thing out of the ground. It's a high bang-for-your-buck crop-- you'll miss a few tubers if you're in a hurry but you'll get most. If the soil is dry and loose a lot of the tubers will stay right with the base of the plant, and the shovel is optional.

Next year I'm putting a fence around my vegetable plot. Away from the towns, four legged thieves are just as affective at removing whole crops. Assorted raiders on my plot include deer, rabbits, hares, coypu, small rodents and birds.

Between the above, the weather, insects and diseases there isn't a lot left for hungry towns folk to steal. Perhaps its the people in towns who need worry about armed bands from the countryside raiding their shops, allotments and carrying off their women :)

Triumvirate of collapse - Economy, Ecosystem, Energy

Speaking of fences, I live in the food part of California and farms are putting up Prison quality fences around lettuce fields and everything else. Supposedly, it's to keep bacteria infested animals away. I didn't ask which animals, but I think I get it.

I wish I had a picture. This one fence, miles of it, is just incredible.

>Next year I'm putting a fence around my vegetable plot. Away from the towns, four legged thieves are just as affective at removing whole crops. Assorted raiders on my plot include deer, rabbits, hares, coypu, small rodents and birds.

$7.99 says that you won't keep out two legged thieves:


"Cut through cable up to 7/8" in diameter. Rugged heat-treated drop forged steel. Handles are double-dipped for added safety. 10" long... $7.99"

I got mine for $3.99.

Too bad the farmer can't reply with a load of buckshot to the ass of the potato thief.

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

As Heinberg says, "You have to sleep some time."

Potato mines!

I definitely like the idea of potato mines. Of course, disarming your potato minefield would make harvest time entertaining.

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

Weapons of mashed destruction.

And I thought I was funny.

Yeah that was a good 'un.

But what in the hell are we entertaining here?
All this talk of building lifeboats flies in the face of the news we see today.
After 20 yrs (last 5 intense) of constructing mine, it seems I'd been better off buying new hiking boots and a backpack tent. Plus a full auto.

No but Rock Salt works very well.

Guess they need to do as the Romans and built irrigation infrastructure out of stone.

Not a bad idea considering the aqueduct's across Europe are still standing (what has been made in the last 100 years that will be standing over 2,000 years later?).

The parking lots at malls will be standing in a couple of thousand years, and the freeway overpasses!
Bob Ebersole

Indeed, barring nuclear warfare, massive asteroid strikes, unprecedented seismic activity or of course (and far more likely) a deliberate program to demolish them, I can't see really see why most large modern reinforced concrete structures shouldn't remain standing for 1000s of years. Whether they'll be anything to be proud of is a different matter. Many of them probably won't be much use for anything.

1. Rust.

2. Uneven daily heating cycles uncontrolled by any HVAC system, causing steel-concrete interfaces to become sources of slow crumbling.

Fair enough...but would that really be enough to bring them to the ground entirely, in a couple of thousand years?
We now have reinforced concrete structures over a 100 years old that look almost as good as new - how much maintenance is done on the actual steel structure?

In Quebec recently there has been a lot of alarm as freeway overpasses crumble, causing not only disruption but some loss of life. These structures date from the 1970s.

Perhaps elsewhere this sort of structure is built to higher standards, sometimes. But it seems unlikely they will stand for millenia.

Yes, I'd concede that I wouldn't really expect unmaintained freeway overpasses to last millenia, although that's primarily a hunch, not based on any real engineering knowledge.

Bridges ain't lookin' so good either...apparently this one was undergoing repairs...


Concrete may be mined for rebar several hundred years in the future if there are any people left.

If not, they may stand awhile.

Look upon our public works, ye mighty....

Many, but not all, major tunnels may well survive for 2,000 years. Some may still be in use (Moffett rail tunnel west of Denver comes to mind). But will mule carts or mag lev trains be using it ?

And most large dams (Hoover Dam is a monolith of concrete).

Best Hopes,


Who knows...we could all be living in those tunnels hundreds of years into the future...

Of course, making predictions about human behavior that far in the future is largely pointless (if diverting). The best we can do is look at what known, well-understood natural processes are likely to do to such structures. I'm sure far more ancient architecture would still be standing today if it weren't for human destructive ability.

The asphalt will be mined long before that, if the miners are more technologically advanced than hunter/gatherers.

They won't last 100 years.

As Perry says in this thread, Quebec, over the collapse of an overpass that killed 5 people last year, was forced to come up with a list of structures, from bridges to overpasses, that need to be intensively scrutinized.

(Quebec is a province that would dwarf any American state, is 2,5 times as big as all of Western Europe combined, and has a little over 7 million residents)

They came up, 8-9 months later, with a tally of 135 structures. That's just what they themselves find too risky to not check out according to "normal" standards. The same standards that completely overlooked the collapsed overpass.

But wait! it gets much better still. A week or two after that 135 number came out, Canadian newspapers reported that the number did not include any structures within city limits. Cities in Quebec are Montreal (Greater Montreal has 3.5 million people, half that of the entire province), Quebec City, 1 million, Trois Rivieres and more, and they're all responsible for their own stuff.

So the number of bridges and overpasses in real danger will be much higher that 135; they kind of tend to be concentrated where people live, and in Quebec, most people live in cities.

Montreal just banned all heavy traffic from the 9 worst overpasses, these things look worse then your long deceased ancestors, and are from the 1960's-70's.

Now the Montreal mob may have had a large hand in construction and cement/concrete quality (a great story in itself, the 1976 Olympics), but would it be that much different from the rest of the continent? Nah....

Not 100 years for most of it, is my guess, if it's not maintained.

You've just touched on a big issue. We need to be making massive investments in energy efficiency projects (Alan Drake's electrified transport, for example). We need to be making massive investments in renewable energy resources (wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, tidal). We need to be making massive investments in getting what we can of conventional and unconventional fossil fuels, and maybe building more nuclear power plants. All the while, we ALSO need to be making massive investments in repairing and replacing a crumbling infrastructure.

Where is all the money going to come from? Especially considering that the infrastructure wouldn't be crumbling if investment levels had been up to par all along, and we'd already be farther along than just starting with the energy efficiency and renewables.

A huge chunk of the GDP needs to be reallocated. That has to come out of somebody's pockets, some way or another. I don't hear very much talk about this, which leads me to very much wonder whether it will ever really happen at all.

That has to come out of somebody's pockets, some way or another

Consumption. Simple.

From memory, Almost a third of China's GDP goes into capital investment (including those planned 17 subway lines in Shanghai :-)

Home building straddles the fence between consumption and investment.

There are many ways to redirect consumption spending into investment, but few if any that are politically acceptable.

I am about to propose a 3% tax on all imports (loophole in WTO rules) to spend on Urban Rail and electrifying freight railroads.

Best Hopes for the WILL to act,


The lots(and roads for that matter) in the North don't take well to the freeze/thaw cycle.
That goes for concrete as well.
Come spring negotiating these can be quite daunting, especially on a bike.


INDIANAPOLIS - Thieves stole copper pipe from a freezer at the state's largest food bank, wasting nearly half a million dollars worth of food meant to help the poor, police said.

The copper theft was captured by security cameras Friday night, police said, but the freezer's failure wasn't discovered until Monday. By then, thousands of pounds of groceries at the Gleaners Food Bank had become unusable.

It was the third time in two months that copper had been taken from Gleaners.


Copper can be sold for around $3 per pound, and thefts have become common across the country. In the food bank's case, it is unlikely the thieves got more than a few hundred dollars if they sold all the copper tubing to a scrap yard, ..."

Putting tar on copper dramatically reduces theft. It reduces the value at the scrap yard and makes it harder (and messier) to deal with.

Just a tip,


Some California organic produce costs for British Columbia (CDN $):

Grapefruit, Star - Medium - 2 $2.62
Kiwis - Medium - 4 $3.28
Lemons - Medium - 2 $3.90
Melons - Honey Dew - Large -$4.42
Celery - $2.12
Onions - Red - 3lb - $6.78
Potatoes - Russet - 5lb - $8.10

Hello AlanfromBigEasy,

Thxs for this tip. Hopefully postPeak, police will be stationed at every scrapyard to closely scrutinize all items for recycling. Mandatory drug-testing of scrap-sellers could immediately halt most of this crime.

This copper theft at a food bank is a very upsetting, high leverage example of the magnitudinal power of cascading blowbacks. In the future: thieves will quickly swing from trees, or be Darwin Award recipients of bullets.

My earlier posts on sequential building of biosolar habitats, by using the Foundation concepts of predictive collapse and directed decline: this would allow designated urban & suburban blocks to be evacuated, securely fenced off, then methodical recycling of the contents within. The worries of thieves, arsonists, and vandals would mostly be eliminated. The next step would be earthen berms and setting gravity driven sewage flows for rapid topsoil enrichment Before the sewage spiderweb becomes energetically non-functional.

Recall my other postings detailing how using sewage as an elite weapon to speed migration has non-optimal concerns, thus I hope citywide industrial scale Humanure Recycling predominates early. But this newslink details how us 'Moderns' will be highly reluctant to change; we are mentally frozen into an obsolete belief system thinking that pooping into a water fountain made of rock is better than pooping on the grass [as mentioned in the Thermo/Gene Collision by Jay Hanson]:

Study: Toilets Need Radical Redesign

The Western World's dependence on flush toilets could be its environmental downfall.

Since the 1900s, scientists have known that flushing away human waste comes with environmental consequences, such as using precious, potable water. Each year, a typical person will use almost 4,000 gallons of drinking water to flush away 75 pounds of feces and 130 gallons of urine, according to a 2001 study by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

The East Asians successfully sustained high-density populations on humanure-based agriculture for over 4000 years. Farmers of Forty Centuries is the classic text about this. (Available for free download, just google it)

Here's an unsettling but practical notion: how about making all the copper used in public infrastructure mildly radioactive? It'd then be easy to keep it from resale; and indeed any stolen public copper would spoil any other copper it was melted down with. Geiger counters at scrap dealerships would be cheap and unambiguous.

Dealing in radioactive copper could be made a felony. Sounds extreme, but might be a pretty lightweight way to help keep grids up...

Patent pending....

Neat idea, but copper doesnt have any radioisotopes with half lives longer than a few hours.

Yeah, I figured that out after posting. Still, I'll bet there's something you could adulterate it with to achieve the same effect.

I can see Brita rushing to the market now!

Nickel 59 (Ni58 + n) has a half life of 76,000 years, and the electron capture provides easy detection and not so attenuated x-rays.

Any "R"value in tar?

The copper theft was captured by security cameras...

I'm surprised they didn't steal the wire from the security cameras.... or the cameras themselves.

stealing food

Happens all the time in my gardens.

At least the urban ones.

We have spent the last 100 years replacing people on farms with oil-based Systems that are farther and farther from the farmer's house. If we take our food and survival seriously, we'll need to increase the number of farmers per acre once again.
An ancient Chinese proverb goes "The best fertilizer is the farmer's footsteps." In other words, if the farmer isn't there, all kinds of bad things can happen. Weather will happen anyway, but in order to know when to do something about it, the farmer has to be present, not at a conference in Hawaii or Florida on new irrigation robots made from platinum. The modern petro-ag system has given us cheap food. Cheap food has let people spend money and time doing other things than gardening. It also opened up a lot of land for mergers and acquisitions, which always puts the same value on a housing bubble as they do on ethanol production.

Three meals to a revolution.

"If you want Change, keep it in your pocket."

I might be crazy, but that is why I am an "Eat your yard" type of gardener. Most people do not know what grows wild in their part of the world. I know just about every edible plant in downtown Little Rock to about 10th Street and covering East West about a mile. I also know enough plants and places to get food within my own walking distance which is up to 5 miles in a radius of my house.

We can farm and grow ten times what we could 150 years ago. But we can still eat the same plants we did 2,000 year ago.

It is just us knowing which plant at what time and where to get that plant that limits us.

A common tree in the Southern US, the Honey Locust. Early June, so about mid summer, the trees have long green pods, Look like long Flat Green Beans. The seeds are relatives to the Green Bean. Edible and can be eaten raw, or cooked. Not something most of you knew about yesterday. I was eating them last month.

The elder berries are in high cotton just about now. Go an enjoy a few, better to make juice and jam out of or wine, but in a pinch a nice mid-day snack if you have to walk somewhere.

If I want change, I try to learn more about where my food is going to come from. And yes I can share, but will you eat the grass if I tell you too?


Where can I get one of your calenders? The one's that I have always used says that in "early June" summer has not yet arrived - much less than claiming that it is "mid-summer."

You do not live in South Louisiana >:-)

Best Hopes for Free Outdoor Saunas,


The cause of the seasons is that the Earth's axis of rotation is not perpendicular to its orbital plane, but currently makes an angle of about 23.44° (called the "obliquity of the ecliptic"), and that the axis keeps its orientation with respect to inertial space. As a consequence, for half the year (from around 20 March to 22 September) the northern hemisphere tips to the Sun, with the maximum around 21 June, while for the other half year the southern hemisphere has this honour, with the maximum around 21 December. The two moments when the inclination of Earth's rotation axis has maximum effect are the solstices.


Those dates are just averages, each area has their own heating and cooling cycles.

But I can knock together a few calenders for you if you are willing to buy them. Big Grin.

Actually, people used to consider the seasons to start on the cross-quarter days. Halloween - Groundhog day was Winter, Groundhog day to Mayday was Spring, Mayday to Aug 1st was Summer (and thus summer solstice was Midsummer Day), and Aug 1st to Halloween was Autumn. This way of reckoning still makes quite a bit more sense to me, at least in my part of the country.

In New Orleans we have Oyster Season, Crab Season, Shrimp Season and Crawfish Season (with lots of overlap). And the Hot and Not Quite So Hot Seasons :-)

Best Hopes for Culinary Seasons,


As Alan states, above, summer is relative to where you live.

Around here summer starts about mid May, the temps get up there and you start to sweat about 10 am. if you are outside for more than going to get the mail. Our Summer stops about October or so, depending on the rainy season, and the year.

Arkansas has had a very rainy year, see my post on lastnights Drumbeat, about Arkansas River levels. We have 5 times the normal flow through a local Damn than we normally do. And it rained yesterday and that puts my yard at about 8 to 9 inches of rain for the month. Higher than the Local average but higher than I have ever seen it here in this yard.

It is starting to hit the mid 90's now, so it is about mid summer. Not the first part of summer, that happens in early May. Those dates they say things start on, like the Summer Solstice and all that is the average for the 30 degrees on either side of the Equator, and not even considered right as far as most of us are concerned.

Man we could use that rain.
I peeked inside a road construction project just the other day and 8ft.!!!! down it was dusty dry.
Anything North and East of Detroit dries out due to the massive thermal the Big D gives off.

The English name for the summer solstice (slightly shifted to June 24, if I remember right, to coincide with the feast of St John the Baptist) is Midsummer. The traditional scheme of having the seasons begin at the solstices and equinoxes is very illogical, and only appears plausible because of the heat inertia of the atmosphere. From the point of view of "what are the longest days" (another reasonable interpretation of "summer") the answer is: that season centered around (not beginning on) the summer solstice.

To quote from Wikipedia on elderberries: "The berries are best not eaten raw as they are mildly poisonous, causing vomiting (particularly if eaten unripe)." I can attest to that from personal experience.

There are two species of elderberry in the NE. One ripens to a bright red berry, and one ripens to a dark purple, almost black, berry. Steer clear of the red ones - very cathartic indeed!

The dark purple are the ones around here, and as I said, I do tend to know what I am eating. If I don't know a plant and still sample it, I only sample it and check to see if any ill comes my way.

It is just like Sumac, there are poisonous kinds and edible kinds. Even the Locust tree has one that is edible and one that is not edible.

Lots of things which can't be eaten raw, can be cooked, or rendered less toxic by heat or water leaching. Water leaching is the case for Acorns. There the tannic acid has to be leached out of the acorns before you can make cakes out of the meal made from them.

Learning about the plants for food and other uses is just good horse sense in my book.

Yikes. Since I have a EE degree and I do IT for a living, my first response to peak oil has been to brush up on my EE and learn the state of the art for the renewables, especially wind. The rash of copper thefts is giving me serious doubts on whether I took the right approach.

Are we still exporting a lot of scrap Copper to China? Should that be a policy option, to tax that exportation? A copper shortage would be a very expensive proposition, no matter what power sources we wanted to build out.


( I don't think you can go wrong with EE at this point; we're not nearly done with electrons yet.. but you might want to try some gardening as a 'serious hobby' )

Tax it? Why not just stop it?

Becuase it is the infastructure, make the jail time a felony and make the sentence something like 10 years.

I thought some states were cahnging the Recycling laws at the centers, so that people showing up with more than spooling from a motor would be required to have a scrap premit or something. There are easy methods to make this hard to do. We just need to get the states and cities to all work on an action plan at the same time. What are we a bunch of unconnected city states or something?

Oh my bad, yes we are.

Great, just what we need, more Americans in cages. Two million and counting:
America's still the world leader in one area, and will stay that way, if the trend continues.

We're talking about poor people here, not international masterminds. Sure, some of the people stripping copper wire are alcoholics and drug addicts, but I for one don't think that exempts them from a proportionate, compassionate response. Their crimes may cause a disproportionate downside to the victim, but the system itself is partly to blame for its fragility and lack of backup.

PBS just ran a documentary about the US prison system, about sentences that are 5-12 times longer than those meted out in the rest of the industrialized world, and all the compounding effects and consequences of locking up nonviolent criminals for disproportionate periods. Half those in cages in the US are there for nonviolent acts, many for simple possession of small amounts of drugs, the "poor man's vacation."

FWIW, I've been a crime victim, and all it taught me is that laws shouldn't be made by aggrieved parties. That's how we end up with abominations like Three Strikes here in California, where not only are bicycle thieves doing life, but rapists are being released to make room for them!


They go and steal enough of this stuff and you have no AC for next month.

I did not say kill them where they stand, but I might have.

If you smoke a bit of weed, you should not be in the prison in my mind. Not that I smoke anything, but we do have backwards facing laws in this country.

But stealing Copper from the people that still are using it is not something we want to see run rapid in the cities just yet, Think about it.

Going along and you wonder why your house is dim and not the ones down the block. Oh why bother you think, it's just kids stealing the copper for game money.


Dismantling power and water systems in inhabited buildings (for the purpose of stealing the copper) should be regarded as similar to arson, as the consequences put the occupants at risk, and are far worse than the simple lost value of the copper.

Sorry, but the people who commit these minor crimes of opportunity are not disposed to studying the law ahead of time. Like those poor saps who happened to be 1,999 feet from a school when they sold a nickel bag at midnight. Too bad for them that their sentence is many times longer than somebody doing the same thing who is 2,001 feet from the same school. The same goes for the guy who steals some wire, never even considering if the apartment that it connects to is inhabited.

We here in the intelligentsia have no idea what it's like for these bottom dwellers: Some are predators, but most are poor but crafty dimwits, at least the ones I've crossed paths with. Do you really think that we can dent the national supply of crafty dimwits through incarceration? Especially as the number of desperately poor mushrooms in the next couple decades.

I see the only way out as through community, like the kind of belonging that makes Alan feel so at home in Nawlens, a city that I'd be hesitant to walk around in. My approach is to insinuate myself into concentric circles of family, friends, neighbors, and the neighborhood, in that order. You bet I watch out for the neighbors' houses during the day, since I work from home. Nobody asked me to - they didn't have to.

But every so often, crime happens, and the solution isn't spending $26,000 per year (CA, 2003) to keep some knucklehead from inadvertantly messing up our teetering infrastructure. That money could be better spent, well, just about anywhere.

They are, however, highly disposed to keep the likelihood of being caught in mind, and what would happen if they were caught.

Community is part of the solution, though. THey won't do this anymore once they no longer have gas for a quick getaway. Gonna be a while, though.

I see the only way out as through community, like the kind of belonging that makes Alan feel so at home in Nawlens, a city that I'd be hesitant to walk around in

Two stories.

A few months I was pulled over for an illegal left hand turn (guilty) taking building materials (new fans) for a drowned home being rebuilt. As I was waiting another cop drove by and saw me (and my distinctive old white Mercedes). He stopped and talked to the arresting cops. The cop came up and said "I heard that you were a good guy. Just be more careful next time".

At a Road Home seminar (to pay for rebuilding costs of homes) last Sunday. I had a few questions for an elderly gentleman just discharged from the hospital. Three people recognized me, including a nun that works in outreach for Road Home.

I am not immune to crime, but I also know that I have been in drowned neighborhoods that were a bit rough before Katrina with a fair number of squatters, some recent murders, etc. and I have been asked if I am the guy helping so and so. I say yes and we talk a bit. The drug dealers never approach me, thinking I might be trying to score.

The long tradition of everybody talking to everybody, regardless of class & race helps. I also make it a point to wear my "FEMA Sucks" T-Shirt (I made up several hundred after Katrina and sold most of them) when in a rougher neighborhood. Since everybody feels this way and I get lots of laughs from the sayings underneath, it would be "wrong" to mug me. I am one of them, not the "other".

Later I will post my "FEMA Sucks" t-Shirt sayings.

Best Hoeps,


In Detroit the attitude you espouse will identify you as an easy target. Or worse, a notable one.
Certainly to the "coolies", those too young to know much other than proving themselves to whatever gang they want in with.
Coolies also benefit from the reluctance society prosecutes them as adults, which is also the main reason they are so actively recruited.
Take care Alan.

Criminals are part of the culture they grew up in and currently live in. Some rockstars and speed freaks are so hooked and desperate that they develop tunnel vision, but they do not last long.

About a half mile from here Catholic Charities established a cafe (breakfast & lunch) Cafe' Reconcile in the middle of a very tough neighborhood about 8 years ago. It survived and prospered off the lunch business from downtown (good place to see and be seen BTW) and has pulled in several other developments next door and down the street.

The Catholics were wise to bring in a number of African-American churches to help.

New Orleans is not Detroit. We still have a strong though highly stressed culture here, and traditions of communication. People do not rob the Catholic Church, the Red Cross, volunteers gutting houses, etc. even if that is how they support themselves.

Best Hopes,


IMHO, the thieves should be made possible nominees for the Darwin award.

James Gervais
Hope was the last ill to escape Pandora's box.

I do know how it is like, I deal with the homeless on a day to day basis. But this is not the Homeless doing these things.

If the infastructure bites the dust first, then it might be party's over faster than you might think.

I never said our prison system was prefect, just that this still should be a felony type of crime. Putting prisoners back to work and no TV till after you have finished your shift making things or growing your own food. The prison system and the laws that put people there do need reform. But still, stealing Copper needs to be nipped in the bud or else we are not going to like the results any better than the full prisons.

I get pretty furious when I think about thieves, but I do have to remind myself to look at the whole 'Thief-Industrial-Complex' before I take it out on the little guys. They are more a symptom of industrial disease than they are the cause or the key to solving it. I'm much more worried about our exporting this precious 'Value-subtracted' material, and what that means for America's position for rebuilding energy infrastructure, rail, grid, manufacturing etc.. it's like an open vein, bleeding out more of the stuff we'll need to patch ourselves up..

"Steal a little and they throw you in jail. Steal a lot and they make you King." Bob Dylan


Going back to the root of this thread, I was thing more of another Dylan 'final' line:

The pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handles -- Subterranean Homesick Blues

Thanks Bob, I did not mean to throw the baby out with the bathwater. But the people that are stealing the copper for whatever reasons they need the cash for, are making an easy target of the things that normally keep everyone else safe.

Like I pointed out up thread, why don't we stop shipping our copper overseas? If it has made it to the point of being crushed to big blocks, we should be the ones recycling it, not the Chinese or others.

I still get this feeling that we are heading for the edge of a cliff, and I am driving my van full of homeless people telling them the fall will be fun, nothing like jumping off a high bluff into the air below!


Dude, if this doesn't stop, there will be lynchings in the rural areas soon.

stop it?
china will pull the rug out from under our feet if we do anything to stop their growth.

Given the sheer number of empty shipping containers going west on the Pacific, "we" can export the stolen copper illegally just as easily as legally.

The Ostrich Approach to Global Issues

From "The Pump Handle" public health blog: Diseases Cross Borders? Administration Official Doesn’t Want to Hear It

After former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona testified that White House officials tried to weaken or suppress important health reports for political purposes, Washington Post reporters Christopher Lee and Marc Kaufman followed up on the case of a 2006 surgeon general’s report on global health (draft here) whose publication was blocked.

Carmona told lawmakers that, as he fought to release the document, he was “called in and again admonished . . . via a senior official who said, ‘You don’t get it.’ ” He said a senior official told him that “this will be a political document, or it will not be released.”

Move along. Move Along. Nothing to see here.

The great biofuel fraud


That bowl of Kellogg's cornflakes on the breakfast table or the portion of pasta or corn tortillas, cheese or meat on the dinner table is going to rise in price over the coming months as sure as the sun rises in the East. Welcome to the new world food-price shock, conveniently timed to accompany the current world oil-price shock.

Curiously, it's ominously similar in many respects to the early 1970s when prices for oil and food both exploded by several hundred percent in a matter of months. That mid-1970s price explosion led the late US president Richard Nixon to ask his old pal Arthur Burns, then chairman of the Federal Reserve, to find a way to alter the Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation data to take attention away from the rising prices.

The result then was the now-commonplace publication of the absurd "core inflation" CPI numbers - sans oil and food.

The center of Bush's program, announced in his January State of the Union address, is called "20 in 10", cutting US gasoline use 20% by 2010. The official reason is to "reduce dependency on imported oil", as well as cutting unwanted "greenhouse gas" emissions. That isn't the case, but it makes good PR. Repeat it often enough and maybe most people will believe it. Maybe they won't realize their taxpayer subsidies to grow ethanol corn instead of feed corn are also driving the price of their daily bread through the roof.

The heart of the plan is a huge, taxpayer-subsidized expansion of use of bio-ethanol for transport fuel. The president's plan requires production of 35 billion US gallons (about 133 billion liters) of ethanol a year by 2017. Congress has already mandated with the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that corn ethanol for fuel must rise from 4 billion gallons in 2006 to 7.5 billion in 2012.

To make certain it will happen, farmers and big agribusiness giants like ADM or David Rockefeller get generous taxpayer subsidies to grow corn for fuel instead of food. Currently ethanol producers get a subsidy in the US of 51 cents per gallon (13.5 cents per liter) of ethanol paid to the blender, usually an oil company that blends it with gasoline for sale...snip...

The green claims for biofuel as a friendly and better fuel than gasoline are at best dubious, if not outright fraudulent. Depending on who runs the tests, ethanol has little if any effect on exhaust-pipe emissions in current car models. It has significant emission, however, of some toxins, including formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, a suspected neurotoxin that has been banned as carcinogenic in California...snip...

This year the Massachusetts Institute of Technology issued a report concluding that using corn-based ethanol instead of gasoline would have no impact on greenhouse-gas emissions, and would even expand fossil-fuel use because of increased demand for fertilizer and irrigation to expand acreage of ethanol crops. And according to MIT, "natural-gas consumption is 66% of total corn-ethanol production energy", meaning huge new strains on natural-gas supply, pushing prices of that product higher...snip...

Big Oil is also driving the biofuels bandwagon. Professor David Pimentel of Cornell University and other scientists claim that net energy output from bio-ethanol fuel is less than the fossil-fuel energy used to produce the ethanol. Measuring all energy inputs to produce ethanol, from production of nitrogen fertilizer to energy needed to clean the considerable waste from biofuel refineries, Pimintel's research showed a net energy loss of 22% for biofuel - they use more energy than they produce. That translates into little threat to oil demand and huge profit for clever oil giants that re-profile themselves as "green energy" producers...snip...

Just like the "Exposed: The Truth Behind Popular Carbon Offsetting Schemes" above, global warming and peak oil tools that some people exploit for political and monetary gain. Sad.


rant warning!

The cost of prepared foods like Corn Flakes is already absurdly expensive compared to the ingredients. We've allowed the so-called convenience foods to rob us of money, while they mostly take as much time to prepare as slow food, aren't nearly so nutricious and taste of either too much sugar or too much salt.

Fast food is even worse, grease is the main calories. I question whether piling in a car, idling in a drive through where the order's wrong at least half the time, then driving back home and disposing of all the trash is really any more speedy than getting some food at the grocery and cooking.

i'm sure you are right that the costs of food will go up as a result of higher fuel bills. But its just going to be an excuse to raise our food bills, and we'd all eat better if we cook more meals and packed lunches for work, and save $$ too.

Rant over.

By the way, the fishing's been kind of slow around Galveston. We had 13 inches of rain this month, and all the rivers have been at maximum discharge so the water is murky. that's about 10 inches of rain more than normal, very unusual without a tropical storm or hurricane. The weather patterns definitely seem more extreme more often, I guess its global warming.
Last year in Central and East Texas they were hollering about a hundred year drougth, now everybody's drowning or swatting mosquitos.

Bob Ebersole

As a Chef, I rarely eat fast food. I do go for the ice-cream creations a lot more than anything else, unless we are traveling then I eat a Salad of some sort.

Hunt down your farmer's markets. Hunt down the Farmers Co-OPs that sell food by the month, or seasonally. Hunt down the pick your own truck farmers in your area. If you don't have any of these things, start them yourself with friends and nieghbors.

We need to get as local as we can as fast as we can. Start gardening even if it is in a few containers on your driveway. ( Containers need to be watered every day that it does not rain, The soils can't hold the moisture that the ground can. ) Most of this should have been done decades ago, but even this late in the game it will help some.

So where is all this ethanol going?
Are "E85" pumps springing up like mushrooms after a rain in your neighborhood?

Re: Delaware crop damage getting serious

Not just Delaware, around the globe there is wholesale destruction of crops and harvests being caused by climate change. For example:

Heat wave wreaks havoc across Southeast Europe

Romania has already lost almost 1.7 million hectares of its grain crop, out of a total 2.8 million. Experts from the National Meteorology Agency project that up to 90% of the crop will eventually be destroyed

Added to weather related damage we then have this kind of madness:

Serbian bio-ethanol plant to be largest green field investment in Southeast Europe

The plant will require one million tonnes of wheat and 500,000 tonnes of corn a year, or almost 50% of Serbia's annual output of both crops

Hopefully, economic and climate chaos will combine to bankrupt such schemes and their investors. Unfortunately, it will probably also bankrupt the rest of us too.

Another interesting article about food security by Colin Tudge:

Reap what we sow

But there is nothing special about Britain. It's all part of the global pattern some scientists have been forecasting for decades, and which many in positions of influence have chosen to ignore, scorn, or lie about. The climate is indeed changing. We will never see "normal" times again - or at least not for many centuries - and agriculture, our food supply, is in the firing line. Sometimes the weather will be too dry, sometimes too wet, and although it will generally be warmer it is likely in some places to be colder than ever remembered. The "good" and "normal" years will be the aberrations.

So it was that in 2006 Australia lost half its grain to drought. Yields were down in all the major wheatbelts - the EU, US, Canada and the Ukraine. Wheat, together with rice and maize, provides humanity with half our calories and two-thirds of our protein. At present the world's stocks of wheat and maize are at a historic low.

As someone trying to grow vegetables, I can vouch for the difficulty in doing so with current weather conditions. I imagine the same could be said just about anywhere on the planet at this time. Although 50% of the world's population now lives in cities, so they will be mainly unaware, apart from perhaps the rising cost of food.

Triumvirate of collapse - Economy, Ecosystem, Energy

Climate Change + Biofuel madness = worldwide hunger.

I am especially appalled by the news you are citing, because both countries - Serbia and Romania are neighbors of my home country - Bulgaria which was also badly affected by the heatwaves this year. All of this - knowing very well that the region has a century old traditions in agriculture and a general respect towards the land. Doh

Think that's bad! I was completely unaware of this weather related catastrophe. I guess the crops were also affected :(

Deadly deluge

With almost half of Bangladesh submerged, according to officials, and torrential rains pelting Nepal and India, more than 25 people have died as a result of the weather since Saturday

Half the country underwater! And its not even made the news. Amazing! That tells a story in its own right.

Triumvirate of collapse - Economy, Ecosystem, Energy

The problem with Bangladesh is that there is a large portion of the population living in the flood plain. Just inches above where any big rain fall can swamp them.

You have this in any region that grows a lot of rice, even the Arkansas River region where a lot of Rice farmers flood their feilds with ground water or old river lakes or current river water brought to bare.

We are seeing though through the increase in Ocean levels the flooding of low lining areas, and that includes a lot of Bangladesh.

Who knows what will happen in next years monsoons, or next years flood cycles. We are literally seeing the edge of the dragon whipping it's tail and telling us that we have pissed it off and it is going to fry us to a crisp.

(( The Dragon metaphor is from my latest Sci-Fi story line, sorry no Chinese harm meant. ))

From climate Chaos ( Sustainalble Ballard, posted a few days ago which is linked to this site ... http://sustainableballard.org/wiki/index.php?title=Welcome_to_Sustainabl... ))led me to think about it as Climate Chaos, not just global Warming, which is not the end result. It is really Climate Chaos. The norms you thought were what you grew up with are not what you are now feeling.

I am willing to bet that Ecosystem changes will kill more of us than Peak Oil even if we were growing all that grain for food, we'd be screwed either way.

How many of you know which swamp plants you can eat?


The Internet is so great. Now everyone knows what the weather is in every part of the entire world at any instant in time. Fifty years ago, it was great to know that you had normal weather and a normal harvest. Now you know that somewhere else it is too wet, too dry, too hot, too cold, too windy, too many insects, not enough bees, etc.

A while back we discussed the price difference between NYMEX Crude Future and Dated Brent Spot and WTI Crushing Spot. NYMEX Crude was always lower.

Now they are pretty much back to "normal", 77.31, 77.02 and 77.29 as I type this.

Any idea what changed to cause them to go back to being pretty much the same?

Thanks in advance,

there was a big drop in inventory of crude at Cushing, Oklahoma last week. See Robert Rapier's key post last week.
Bob Ebersole

Hi everyone,

I started thinking a little about Global Warming. I believe it is happening, but have to admit it is out of anecdotal evidence and because other people, like here, believe it is happening. I really don't have any facts to support my view when talking with someone like my boss who thinks it is a left wing hoax. So, yes I am going to do some of my own secondary research, but I thought I would ask people here: what are your top 5 data points supporting that the world is in fact warming and that it is mankinds fault? I know this isn't Peak Oil, but it does get discussed here, so I hope you don't mind me asking. Thanks in advance.

The 'hockey stick' chart of warming that tracks almost identically with industrialization. It is a very dramatic chart and is difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile without increased greenhouse gasses. Although the 'hockey stick' study is being disputed by some, it remains convincing imo. For a link to the disputed data see...


Go to realclimate.org and you will find everything that you need from real live climate scientists. If only GW was just anecdotal. I wish.

Thanks, I'll check out that site.

And really, you can't do much better than Al Gore's DVD and book (the book is terrific!). Watch it yourself and don't tell your boss where the info comes from.

Other books would be Tim Flannery's "The Weather Makers", Eugene Linden's "The Winds of Change", and my personal favorite, about the ice caps, Richard Alley's "The Two-Mile Time Machine". Richard is one of the world's foremost climate researchers, listen to him!

GW may not be anecdotal, but I suspect a big part of the reason more and more people are coming around to accepting the seriousness of the problem is becaues of more and more anecdotal reports of unusual/extreme weather.
Scientifically, however, this isn't particularly strong evidence for anthropogenic global warming: for a start, there is always unusual/extreme weather somewhere in the world, and even if there were no trend of warming, there are always years where weather is even more unusual/extreme than usual. The evidence for the effects of warming on weather really only applies at a multi-decadal level: comparing how many floods/heat-waves/droughts/tropical storms/etc. there are in the period 1998-2007 to 1988-1997 or 1978-1987 etc.
On top of that, none of this is evidence that the warming is human-induced: for that we need the GCMs, measurements of the levels of CO2 (and other GHGs), and the underlying physics that is our best understanding of how the Earth's atmosphere operates.

It would be a remarkable "left wing" that could somehow compel the national science academies of the entire developed world to publicly endorse a "hoax". In fact, the shoe is on the other foot: the hoaxers are the diminishing but increasingly shrill and irrational deniers. Others have pointed out realclimate.org as a good source of information on the science; I would add desmogblog.com as a source on the PR shenanigans of these characters. One funny comment I read in that regard: thanks to the (presumed) permanence of web-based chatter, climate change deniers are going to have to live with their grandchildren's recognition that "Granddad was a complete idiot."

Not that I have any quibbles with GW in general, but national "scientific" bodies have been duped and supported hoaxes in the past (and still do), and there is no reason to believe they wouldn't again. I don't know that duped is the right word... there is an aspect of who has the money to back/refute ideas...

IMO, of course :)

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



Working Group I Report "The Physical Science Basis"
Full report now available online

Also not bad as a link for global warming background is this blog:


I would suggest you start with the oldest posts and work forwards.

You might say something like: "I suppose it is POSSIBLE that almost every single climatologist in the world might be wrong about global climate change. . . but is it LIKELY?"

In the 1970s I saw the Mauna Loa carbon dioxide chart.

This is gas sampled from the purest air in earth, coming off thousands of miles of Pacific Ocean at high altitude, over 10,000'.

Once the chart was readily available on-line, but in a RIGHT WING CONSPIRACY you now have to down load a pdf and it only goes from 1958 to 2004 (I was an R till GWB cured me).


Download Graphics in Upper Left.

The sawtooth is the annual spring-fall carbon capture by leaves and release in the Northern Hemisphere.

I released that we were playing chemistry experiments with our atmosphere (I had one as a kid) but without "adult supervision". We quite literally DID NOT KNOW WHAT WE WERE DOING !

A bit later I found out about "greenhouse effect" of CO2, how it reflects back infrared heat waves like a cloudy winter night (MUCH warmer than a clear night).

By 1990 or so, I was convinced that the theory was beginning to have observable effects. And I watched the CO2 levels rise year by year.

A close examination shows that there is a NOT a strict 1:1 correlation with fossil fuel use over the years. Some of the CO2 is going "somewhere" out of the air, or CO2 is coming in from somewhere "else". But humans are the primary cause, there can be no doubt in that !

Hope this helps,


More recent Mauna Loa data here:

[I was an R till GWB cured me]

True for a lot of us.

I was a capitalist and a technophiliac till TOD cured me.

[Now I'm just another lemming waiting on the ledge.]

Funny, since coming to TOD, and the extra reading it has encouraged me to do, I've become far more confident that an essentially capitalistic pursuit of technological advancement is an important part of human existence, and will be for the foreseeable future.

It's also convinced me that extreme belief in neo-liberalism and technology's ability to solve everything is one of current Western civilisation's greatest weaknesses.

wizofus writes:

Funny, since coming to TOD, ... I've become far more confident that an essentially capitalistic pursuit of technological advancement is an important part of human existence


I don't see how you rationally come to such a conclusion.
The "essentially capitalistic" model not only includes the concept of personal and exclusive ownership of property, but also the concept of each of us focusing on how to maximize his (or her) own accumulation of wealth with disregard to what happens to others or to the system as a whole.

With that basic capitalist model in mind, let's consider 4 people:

1. Oil man Ollie,
2. Car maker Carl
3. House builder Harry
4. Mortgage seller/ refinancer Marty

They form part of what Westexas refers to here on TOD as the "Iron Triangle".

It is in the personal interest of Oil man Ollie to keep you (& me, all of us) addicted to oil and to see to it that we cannot get off that gravy train (gravy for him).

It is in the personal interest of Car maker Carl to keep you (& me, all of us) addicted to cars (and trucks) and to see to it that we cannot survive without use of a private car and reliance on private trucks. Suburbia plus government funded highways are the perfect vehicle for the realization of Carl's dreams. Oh wait, it already happened. Carl just needs to make sure it never "unhappens".

It is in the personal interest of House builder Harry to keep you (& me, all of us) addicted to the American Dream of owning a McMansion with a giant lawn in the front, heated pool plus sauna in the back and air conditioning galore throughout. This way Harry can keep building and selling homes forever, especially if the population maintains its "growth" forever. For some strange reason, Harry is an ardent opponent of birth control. Ollie and Carl see it the same way.

It is in the personal interest of Mortgage seller/ refinancer Marty to keep you (& me, all of us) not only addicted to the American Dream of owning ever larger McMansions, but also to owning ever bigger, ever fancier SUV's; bigger, fancier other "stuff" as long as we keep borrowing and borrowing like there's no tomorrow and we keep enslaving ourselves to Marty.

Recently, Marty, Harry, Carl and Ollie heard of this new guy on the block, Solar-cell Sam. Sam is proposing to upset the happy Iron Triangle setup the rest have. They don't like it. So they go to Congress and buy themselves a bunch of Senators and Congressmen.

That's capitalism for you.

That's your "basic capitalist model", not mine.

a) I disagree that humans are incapable of always acting with "disregard to what happens to others or to the system as a whole". Indeed, those that do act like that will not tend survive long anyway.

b) An "essentially capitalistic pursuit" does not mean focusing entirely on accumulating personal wealth. It simply means having the freedom to pursue methods of creating wealth (e.g. better technology), and being rewarded accordingly for it. This is what makes it the antithesis of communism, which essentially requires totalitarian government to prevent such activities.

Read some stuff by John Mackey (CEO of Whole Foods) to get an idea of where I'm coming from. I don't entirely share all of his views, but his writings certainly convinced me that capitalism isn't (or at least, needn't be) the bogeyman many make it out to be.

As far as "disregard for the system" goes, capitalism has a much better track there than any other form of economic/political system tried, especially if by the system you include the environment. This makes an interesting read (again, note that there is much I disagree with in this article):

In answer to your other post, "neo-liberalism" is essentially an ideological faith in the free-market: that the free market is not only always the best way to create new technology and create wealth, but it will never fail to do so, given the right signals.
That there are plenty of examples to demonstrate that a) perhaps our most sophisticated technology of all was not developed by the free market and b) free markets fail all the time, for all sorts of reasons seems to make no difference to the powers that be that hold them as so sacred.

wizofus writes:

extreme belief in neo-liberalism and technology's ability to solve everything is one of current Western civilisation's greatest weaknesses.

I'm not sure what "neo"-liberalism is.

I do know that "neo-con"-ism means that one has the deluded beliefs that "they" will greet us with flowers after we invade their country and liberate their oil. I do know that "neo-con"-ism means that one has the deluded beliefs that "they" are in the last throes of their in-surgency and that our renewed "surge"ncy will fix the current emergency.

As to blind faith in the "Technology will save us" religion, I do agree with you. However I don't see how that is a fixture of "Western civiliZation". Except for a rare few Luddites, pretty much everyone around the world is sold on having a computer and blogging their lives away. (Oops, does that include you and me?)

(I was an R till GWB cured me).

You didn't think the history of the Bush family wasn't warning enough?

Sad part, I've JOINED the Republican party because Ron Paul is the only one talking sense WHEN compared to the rest of the wackos who are running.

While Paul talks a good game WRT things like Executive orders - wonder if he'd keep being Dr. No when EO's are shoved under his nose as 'Da leader of da free world'?

For climate change you can go to http://www.realclimate.org or http://www.ipcc.ch/ or any general peer-reviewed scientific journal like Science or Nature, and find more solid facts than you can possibly digest.


The Earth is 70% covered by water ... what would happen to that if it warmed? ... would it expand or contract? ... we actually see the sea level RISING ... that means either it is expanding or fresh water ice is melting (actually it's a bit of both)... either way it is being warmed ...

You'd better hope it is caused by man 'cos then something might be done to stop it. But I wouldn't hold your breath on that, its probably too late to stop serious climate change now whatever we do.


Hi shawnott - U are probably discussing with the wall aka your boss

BUT there is one overall argument that is not possible to deny regarding the GW issues and that is the one of the changing of the markup of the atmosphere (!) We are ADDING MORE of some substance namely CO2..

..and here is my point, all the way back to primary school :

From chemistry- and physics lessons in school – WE ALL learnt that changing any parameter in any equation and we are getting a different result –

AND that’s IT
– We increase the amount of CO2 , AND as a result from this we receive a higher TEMPERATURE (..with consequences…)is this hard to understand? - not for me!

And many of us feel the changes are visible already – maybe because – HALF OF ALL OIL (and gas?) WAS EXTRACTED AND FUMED SINCE 1984 – that is 1/2 trillion barrels …. In a mere 20 years ….

The problem is that we are trying to explain the laws of cause and effect to people prone to wishful thinking and denial.

For such people the cause-effect relationship is not given, but subject to individual interpretations. That is, whenever they want a certain action may lead to its logical effect. But whenever it is not in their interest it may not, and they will always find a rationale for it. People are imaginative.

The way around this I think is to constantly repeat the arguments until they get some traction. A frustrating task, but it has to be done...

Hey Shawnott;
I'm not a climate scientist, so I have to find ones who I can listen to and try to gauge whether their perspective is plausible, whether they are referring to peer-reviewed materials, and where the 'scientific community' (as if that is easy to define) stands on such claims.

My Brother in Law is a PaleoClimatologist, and has written and spoken publicly on the matter. Here is an opinion piece he submitted recently with his colleagues at UW Madison, to counter the 'CC Debunking Claims' of an article the paper had posted earlier.

"The scientific evidence for human causation of global warming is now very strong, and gets stronger every year. Evidence includes well-documented rises in carbon dioxide concentrations and global mean temperatures, and repeated validations of the global climate models used to predict future climate changes. In Wisconsin, we have all noticed winters are becoming shorter and milder (perhaps welcome by some, but a problem for businesses depending on snowmobiling, ice fishing, and skiing).

To support his claims, Professor Bryson offers only assertions and character attacks against other climatologists. Some of Professor Bryson's statements are incorrect, notably his claim that "we have not been making very much carbon dioxide for 300 years." From 1750 to 2005, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations increased 35 percent, and they will at least double this century, barring some massive switch from fossil fuels. Moreover, climate models and paleoclimatic data show that the CO2 effect on climate is certainly not "tiny," especially when amplified by positive feedbacks in the climate system."

And here is Bryson's article, that he/they are responding to..

Bob Fiske

In Wisconsin, we have all noticed winters are becoming shorter and milder (perhaps welcome by some

Just wait 'till the termites arrive - the people who've LIKED the warmth won't like their building being eaten.


After you visit realclimate.org and absorb everything there about global warming, you will then want to watch the BBC documentary about global dimming.

About all I will say is that if the dimming data is correct, then global warming is far, far worse than we originally thought and we've just managed through sheer luck to not already be experiencing 3-5 degree celsius increases in temperature. Otherwise watch the video.

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

I too watched the BBC "global dimming". Very compelling. Could that effect explain the lag in all the ice core graphs of Co2 and heat?

They missed the boat, IMCO, by not distinguishing between the visible spectrum that plants need and the IR that's the manifestation of warming.
Those clouds that are causing the dimming aren't only reflecting more; there are more soot and SO2 nuclei than there used to be, so they're also absorbing more. But measurements on the ground can't distinguish whether the dimming is due to absorption or reflection of the visible light. The question is, how much more IR are the clouds reradiating than they used to?
I'm not arguing that there is no cloud-induced dimming effect; the data from 9/11-13/01 are compelling. It's just that anthropogenic aerosols can potentially be contributing to visible dimming and IR heating at the same time, especially if they contain opaque particulate nuclei.

I am going to call it Global Climate Chaos, See an above post of mine.

1.. Artic sea ice decrease.

2.. Larson B ice shelf colapse.

3.. European weather just not the same

4.. African Monsoon off target for a few years

5.. IPCC reports, not to mention James Hansen too.

If these don't get them then they have their head in the sand and they have not looked out their own window lately.

They taxed the carbon dioxide emmissions then ordered their energy intensive manufacturing from China and India where there are no CO2 laws. It is hypocrisy.

Mentioning Hansen's latest work to skeptics = bad idea

what are your top 5 data points supporting that the world is in fact warming and that it is mankind's fault

That covers only three of the five arguments you need to prove to convince skeptics.

The list I've seen:

First argument: The global climate is warming.

Second argument: The climate is warming due to increased levels of carbon dioxide.

Third argument: The climate warming is man-made.

Fourth argument: Global warming is as harmful.

Fifth argument: Global warming will cause more harm than the changes needed to prevent it.

There probably should be another argument added to this list: CO2 reduction is the only way to combat global warming.

Alternative methods of stopping global warming have been proposed such as dumping iron into the oceans to create algae blooms or adding SO2 aerosols to the stratosphere to reflect sunlight.

I started thinking a little about Global Warming. I believe it is happening,

Beyond belief is acceptance.
Whether or not the issue of the Greenhouse Effect as the root cause of Global Warming having not yet been fully acredited does not preclude you from ferretting out the facts yourself.
Is human activity to blame? Or a trigger?
Please inform us of your findings.

From Earth2tech Posted 7/30/07, written by Katie Fehrenbacher:

Interview with Martin Roscheisen, CEO of thin film solar company Nanosolar

Martin Roscheisen answers questions about the state of the photovoltaic industry and some recent Nanosolar happenings.

Q). Will Nanosolar begin production this year?

A). Yes, we’re on track with this. Do not expect an Apple style product launch though. Our first 100,000 panels are already set to go into closed, private, utility-scale deployments, with a tall fence around them and not much accessibility to the general public.

Thanks for posting that. It'll be interesting to see if they pull it off.

Roscheisen talked about the antiquated US electric code requirements. Is anyone here able to say what some of the key differences are in Germany and other places? I've never been a fan of many of the methods used to wire American homes, but have no experience with the setups abroad.

"For the United States to also become a truly scalable market, some ingrained bureaucracy stands in the way for that still — everything from 1920s-era conduit-around-cables and grounding requirements to insanely complicated town-by-town permitting processes. It’s hard to believe that California is more bureaucratic than Germany — but it is so in solar power. Fortunately, people are beginning to realize this and so change is possible even if it affects electric code rules designed around 1920s electric technology."

Bob Fiske

Although the tone here is mostly for pedestrian and bike-friendly development, the viewpoint on other sites can be quite different:

The battle to shape the urban landscape continues, with plenty of planners considering cars machina non gratis. Despite the automotive demonization, some cities have realized that pedestrianization sacrifices commerce on the altar of political correctness. Providence, Rhode Island and other urban centers have learned that lesson the hard way. Add St. Albans, West Virginia to the list. The Sunday Gazette-Mail reports that the town is about to re-open the pedestrianized city center to four-wheeled travelers, hoping to recapture lost biz from the suburban malls. The move is in sync with former New York City urban planner Alexander Garvin theories, as found in The American City, What Works, What Doesn't. "Well-conceived, privately managed shopping centers manipulate the flow of customers from their point of arrival to their destinations. For the most part, cities are unable to do this because they neither own the properties that abut the public streets nor determine who will lease them. In short, "pedestrianization cannot attract a market where none exists."

Note that pedestrian-oriented development is demeaned as "politically-correct."


I think pedestrian-friendly cities, where you can walk from home to a bunch of different types of shops, are great. I drive to them and spend a day walking around spending money pretty often.

But even in Europe, or in college towns here, that doesn’t obviate the usefulness of a car. You need to bring in people and let your people get out beyond your tiny borders.

"You've gotta have a car!" - an old girlfriend.

Pedestrianization always did strike me as a nice idea in theory but lousy in practice. It really only works if you have two things going: Enough people living within or close by the zone to make it pay or enough of a reason to make people want to go to the hassle of driving to the zone, parking somewhere outside it, and walking around in it. The problem with the former is that urban living isn’t fashionable to most people who can afford land, and the problem with the latter is that the zone is completely unattractive to anyone who isn’t willing to spend a good chunk of time it in. The person running a quick errand or two isn’t going to bother with it. With more to do than that they might, but if they still have to head out to some strip mall because they cannot get everything done in the zone then the zone looses (sic) since the rest of the errands can probably be accomplished at the same mall or somewhere on the way.

I'd agree that the suburbs are more attractive to most people than the city. But will that continue to be the case?

It’s unsurprising that cities are getting rid of their pedestrian malls. Any contemporary urban planner worth his or her salt knows that cities are at their most vital when there is a mix of access modes. If city planning allows for either the car or the pedestrian to be dominant, then it will fail. Both downtown pedestrian malls and downtown parking lots/garages tip the balance artificially in one direction or the other. Successful cities organically (dare I say ecologically?) balance the needs of cars, pedestrians, cyclists, trains, and everybody else into an urban ecosystem.

I tend to agree with this last comment. Despite the risks of adjacent traffic, most people want to walk, drive and bike where the action is. (Of course they want to limit traffic in front of their homes.) As long as the car is viable it makes sense to accommodate it, but it makes no sense to favor auto traffic to the effect of excluding pedestrians and bikes.

Those pedestrian malls were really big in the '70s, and now most are being torn out, if they haven't been already.

The problem, IMO, is that they were never implemented correctly. You can't just close down Main St. and expect people to figure, "Hey, might as well shop since we can't drive."

The guy who originally came up with the pedestrian mall was from Europe, I believe. Sweden, or someplace like that? He was very clear that the point of the design was to absorb the cars, not just block them. His designs included parking garages and public transportation, not just closing Main St. to cars. But the vast majority of cities that tried to emulate him - and there were probably hundreds - just closed off Main St. Naturally, it was a monumental failure.

Look at Little Rock before Clinton Came to be Prez. The whole downtown section Main and Capital got paved over. Now the whole area is dead as a door nail and Nothing can be done to re-start it, save for the small shops that have the walking homeless as their best customer.

MetroCentre Mall lived about 5 years then died. Government Office in all but a few of the buildings in that neck of the woods.

The River Market is the next best thing in the whole area, But it is down 3 blocks and hemmed against the Clinton Library and the county Courts. About 10 blocks long, I walked most of them this morning parking in free areas near the River market to walk up river to the County Courts for a hearing.

What's the local industry about down there in Ark? I ask to try to grok whether it's more the city or the state. Maine has been shedding industry for decades, with recent papermill closings leaving a few more daggers in the limping beast. State Capitals and Cities can pick up a lot of burden from an underproducing state.


Arkansas is the head quarters of Wal-Mart up in the Northwest part of the state. The Federal Government is a big employer locally, with Camp Robinson/Camp Pike, and Little Rock Air Force Base just north of here. C-130 training base, not going to be closed for a while. The state government employees the next biggest chunk of people here in the Capital area. Little Rock being the Capital, and place where almost all the state services run out of as well as most of the City offices. I really don't know to much about the big industry, we have The Arkansas river going through the state and loads of river barge traffic, and then that hits the Mississippi on the east side.

We have Loads of Rice prodution. Southern Pine forests, old oil wells down that way too.

Both North Little Rock, ( Formerly known as Argenta, in the 1900's ) and Little Rock are working to make the region where all the major bridges cross the river into a big entertainment and Hotel filled area. Putting in Condo towers, and bringing in anybody and everybody for the Clinton Library which is within walking distance of the River Market area.

UAMS University of Arkansas Medical Sciences Hospital and Campus is Huge. Arkansas Children's Hopsital is also Huge. We have the needed hospitals, just not all the needed programs for everyone.

Hope that helps.

Not a failure everywhere. In Glasgow (Scotland), Buchanan St (pedestrianised) is part of the "golden-Z" of pedestrianised streets, which represent the most lucrative retail sites in the city.

True, there are a few cross streets (and plentiful public transport). But no cars actually on it.

Both the Pedestrian malls in Denver and Boulder, Colorado have been in place since the 1970s and are doing better than ever, thank you. In fact, the mall that is failing in Boulder is the new "suburban" one which has a road going right down the middle of it. I expect it to last five years, max. I visited it once and will never go back. There is no way they are going to duplicate the ambience of Boulder's Pearl Street Mall. It is not an either/or situation. Both the Denver and the Boulder Pearl Street mall are accessible by multiple modes. In Denver, you can get there by auto, light rail, bicycle, walking, and bus. In Boulder, the mall is easily accessible by all those modes except light rail.

But then, Boulder started in the 1960s making sure it would never be surrounded by sprawl, buying up most of the surrounding land as making it open space. Same thing applies to Boulder County which has bought up thousands of acres. Denver wisely started decases ago making sure that the downtown was an interesting place to be, shop, and recreate. It is much more viable and interesting now than it was in the early 1970s. Downtown Denver thrives despite its suburbs

People may beg to differ on the causes but the reality is clear; these pedestrian malls are sucessful.

I guess you can say that Denver and Boulder are "balanced". But "balanced" doesn't mean you get rid of your malls.

Personally, I would like to see the auto (at least the ICE) mostly banished from Boulder. But that's another story.

Another thing which I think helps Denver's mall ( a very long one) is that there is a free, very quiet hybrid bus provides free rides up and down the middle of the mall. So, you can wialk or ride, take your choice, but you don't have to be confronted with the noise, danger, and pollution of the auto.

But then, Boulder started in the 1960s making sure it would never be surrounded by sprawl, buying up most of the surrounding land as making it open space.

Not that Boulder has done everything right. The open space and other zoning restrictions limit the amount of housing in town at a level well below the number of jobs, and has resulted in real-estate prices above what can be afforded by many of the workers. The open space simply pushes their share of the "sprawl" into surrounding communities. The rush hour traffic problems were bad when I moved to the area 20 years ago, and are still getting worse. I live between Denver and Boulder, and getting into downtown Boulder is, IMO, now harder than getting into downtown Denver. On days when there's an inversion, Boulder's "brown cloud" is as bad as any in the metro area, clearly visible as you come over the hills from the south, east, or west.

Tstreet and McCain, I agree. I moved to Boulder County 20 years ago and have noted both the continual improvement of the public transit system here (Boulder/Denver) and the meteoric rise in the cost of housing. Housing prices seem to be stagnating at present but are still extremely high - enough to make owning a house unaffordable for many (including me). However I choose to continue to live here (I rent within the City of Boulder) because it is possible for me to bike, walk or bus just about anywhere I need to go. It is, in my opinion, one of the best public transit systems in the country. And the City is also good at creating attractive open-air public spaces such as the Pearl Street Mall.

and getting into downtown Boulder is, IMO, now harder than getting into downtown Denver.

Replace "getting" with "driving" in the above quote and it nearly makes sense. Downtown Boulder has frequent, fast buses linking it with Denver and US 36. There is nothing hard about riding a bus to downtown Boulder. But I agree that driving is "hard" as it should be (and it will only keep getting harder everywhere, including Boulder).

The open space is not the sprawl-generator, but Boulder's limitations on building height and density clearly drive sprawl development. Boulder has plenty of pseudo-enviro NIMBYs, unconcerned with what happens outside the city limits.

Almost every Euro city I have visited has a dedicated pedestrian district, all thriving at least as well as Boulder/Denver's. I thinkg the difference is 1) Non-motorhead culture 2) Adequate transit 3) Dense mixed-use development in and near the ped zones. Few of these successful ped zones had structured parking nearby.

Cities that are ripping out their car-free zones at the same time that inactivity-driven obesity reaches record limits will regret it soon. Instead of ripping them out, these cities should be adding transit connections and encouraging dense mixed-use development in and around their ped zones.

The key is making the vehicles behave (whether they be cars or horse-draw carriage), not eliminating them from the city. When cars first were introduced into the cities, the speed limit on city streets was 5 mph. In many cities, people tried to lower them from there, because many were driving 10 mph and killing all the pedestrians. Eventually, everyone gave up, widened the streets and made them highways. Then, they tried seperating pedestrians from the high speed traffic by these pedestrian-only 'malls' or skywalk systems. Never really worked. They are OK in places in Europe because the densities are just so much higher.

Like the Ramblas in spain

Not going to drive cars through that.

Magazine Street in New Orleans (2.5 blocks from my home) is about 5 miles of small shops (one Whole Foods supermarket). almost all of the rest are not chain stores.

It is HELLL to drive, narrow 2 lane street with parking on both sides that curves and jogs. Bicyclists usually take the residential streets one block over.

Difficult to drive, and slow. Hence the active market activity.

Best Hopes for fewer auto sewers,


A big ol American SUV would go though that crowd like a knife through butter.

Borat: If this car drive into a group of gypsies, will there be any damage to the car?
Car Dealership owner: It depends on how hard you hit them and all that.
Borat: *Hard*
Car Dealership owner: You might-if somebody rolls on the windshield, they could crack your windshield.
Borat: How fast do I need to go to guarantee I kill them?
Car Dealership owner: Uh-let me tell you something with this vehicle here probably doing 35-45 miles per hour will do it.

I love this part: "or enough of a reason to make people want to go to the hassle of driving to the zone, parking somewhere outside it, and walking around in it." Sounds like a trip to the shopping mall to me!

I suspect that a big part of the issue is the width of the street. When there is only one lane each way with sidewalks on both sides and pedestrian crossings every block, then vehicular and pedestrian traffic seem to be able to co-exist fairly well almost anywhere. This seems to be the classic "default" downtown mode that has naturally evolved, probably for a good reason.

The Bank of Scotland gets the dumb award for today. The oil companies, who reportedly are already engaging in record levels of investment, are "jeopardizing" the U.K.'s security and future wealth. Therefore, faced with decreasing marginal returns on their investment, they should double up and jeopardize their own profits for the future of the U.K. I am no fan of the oil companies not do I have any stock in them, but I expect them to act as a rational business and not voluntarily jeopardize their business because of clueless opining of the likes of the Bank of Scotland.

If the U.K. or any other national government does not like the way things are going in the oil investment sector, and it determines that said behavior is critical to the national security, then nationalize the industry. Why mess with the free market when a more direct approach is readily available. Just ask Chavez.

We are still operating under the classical paradigm that, faced with a problem like declining oil production, all we have to do is just shift the money around a bit. A subsidy here, a tax break over there will fix the problem. When all else fails, appeal to a higher power and tell the oil companies it is their moral duty to save the country.

It is we, the citizens of the world, who are eating our own seedstock and jeopardizing our future. Think Iraq, but on a world wide basis as we descend into chaos, thinking that all we need to do is a bit more of the right kind of investment.

Oh, yes, and I hear on CNBC today that there is absolutely no problems in the yacht market. The super rich are doing better than ever; perhaps they will be able to ride out the whatever storm comes their way in the future. But then, perhaps by that time we will have reached the storm that cannot be ridden out.

Agree with your points but its the Royal BOS not the BOS.

The RBOS = Natwest

The BOS + Halifax [bank-ish thing] = HBOS

confused? I am.

UK banking is very murky nowadays

There was an article, I think in yesterday's Drumbeat, on hedge funds and their ability to create stock out of thin air and replace it with IOUs. How does that affect the investment pool? Does the money get withdrawn - so people can build yachts - or does it get freed up so in theory it could be invested? [Having written that, it strikes me as maybe a dumb question....]

cfm in Gray, ME

From the article about uranium from phosphates:

Around 22 million tonnes of uranium exist in phosphate deposits worldwide

So... let's see. Current world uranium consumption is less than 70,000 tonnes a year. Let's say this doubles to 140,000.

22mln.tonnes / 140,000 = 157 years.

So we've got 157 years of U at the cost of $27-45/lb only from phosphate deposits (and current price is $120/lb). Can I hear again about that "we will run out of U in 40 years" thing? I just love listening to bull&*%!.

U308? What use is that? IMO would have a vanishingly short half life ... If it even exists?


From wikipedia:

The most common forms of uranium oxide are triuranium octaoxide (U3O8) and the aforementioned UO2.[42] Both oxide forms are solids that have low solubility in water and are relatively stable over a wide range of environmental conditions. Triuranium octaoxide is (depending on conditions) the most stable compound of uranium and is the form most commonly found in nature.

That should be read as U3O8. It's one of the uranium oxides, not some previously unidentified isotope.

LOL that explains it... I was wondering why the question, but a new isotope never came to my mind. U308 even if it could possibly exist would be one hell of a element.

What is the HTML for underscript ?

Looks better than CO2 :-)



Use the <sub> tag. For example: H2O. And, if you wanted know how I got the < and > in the text, I used &lt; and &gt; . (Note that "lt" and "gt" stand for "less than" and "greater than.") Carrying on, the amerpersand is reached with &amp; .

sub is the code for subscript

ex. U<sub>3</sub>O<sub>8</sub> => U3O8

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

I’ve owned a 100 gram tube of U3O8 for about 20 years and I ain’t dead yet. The new form of ‘yellowcake’ is ammonium diuranate which starts out dark green in colour then lightens.

Enough sunlight falls on the earth in 24 hours to provide energy for how many years?

You can't get one gram of uranium out of phosphate rock without a massive investment.

As I understand it, the phosphate mining process already exists, it's just the recovery process that needs to be ramped up. Until recently it has cost more than the price of U308, so hasn't been viable.

OK, calculate the investment to cover the Earth with solar panels and store the energy produced (somehow!).

Then compare it to the investment of mining rocks, producing uranium and producing reliable electricity using an already proven technology.

Come back with the numbers and then let's talk again... everything else is handwaving. FWIW there are enough hydrocarbons on Jupiter to power the Earth until the Sun dies but I'm not advocating going there and mining them.

FWIW there are enough hydrocarbons on Jupiter to power the Earth until the Sun dies but I'm not advocating going there and mining them.

An UTTERLY idiotic statement.
And I am not talking practical feasibility issues.
This is typical of the lay public misunderstandings about energy.

Hydrocarbons DO NOT "contain" energy!!!

Hydrocarbons allow to collect energy from their combustion (a process) PROVIDED YOU CAN BURN THEM.

That is, you must have oxygen at hand beside the hydrocarbons.
There is no (free) oxygen on Jupiter therefore the energy potential of hydrocarbons there is ZERO!!!

And, as for "moving" the Jupiter hydrocarbons to Earth in order to burn them it is not a matter of "practical" feasibility either it is a matter of theoretical impossibility, the energy needed for the transport in the theoretical best case EXCEEDS the energy made available when they reach the Earth and can be burned.
The EROEI isn't below 1 or even 0, the EROEI is NEGATIVE (*).
(recall that starting from Jupiter there's no oxygen to burn them...)

Could the various clowns on TOD make a bit less noise, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE.

* An abuse of language, using daftspeak in the hope of improving communication with the adressees.

An UTTERLY idiotic statement.
Looked to me like simply rhetorical; Something like stating we could mine pixie dust for power for the ages and then you countering with a diatribe of 'How stupid are you? Pixies dont exist!'

But, dont let that get in the way of your furious screed.

But, dont let that get in the way of your furious screed.

I see you don't let common sense stand in the way of your "understanding" (or at least pretend to) and you are doing your paid job wholeheartedly.

It is not that that I didn't catch the sarcasm of refering to "Jupiter hydrocarbons" (an obviously over the top silly proposal) and it is not the sarcasm I criticised, it is the use of DELIBERATELY MISLEADING ideas within the sarcasm with the probable intent of confusing ever more the lay public (or else is it plain and genuine idiocy of the author?).

What I criticised is twofold :

- Hydrocarbons are NOT "energy".
- Bringing anything in and out the planets gravity well is ridiculously expensive energywise and cannot realistically be relied upon to fetch any ponderous ressources.

I see you don't let common sense stand in the way of your "understanding" (or at least pretend to) and you are doing your paid job wholeheartedly.

Sorry, what am I being paid for? Will you send me a check?

It is not that that I didn't catch the sarcasm of refering to "Jupiter hydrocarbons" (an obviously over the top silly proposal) and it is not the sarcasm I criticised, it is the use of DELIBERATELY MISLEADING ideas within the sarcasm with the probable intent of confusing ever more the lay public (or else is it plain and genuine idiocy of the author?).

Sorry, I thought he was adressing you, not the lay public. Are you confused?

- Hydrocarbons are NOT "energy".
- Bringing anything in and out the planets gravity well is ridiculously expensive energywise and cannot realistically be relied upon to fetch any ponderous ressources.

Pff, its a silly piece of rhetoric, and thats intentional. You're going off on this looks dumb, but just for fun lets examine the energy costs of shipping hydrocarbons from say Titan.

Running some numbers...

The amount of potential energy contained within the 1 kilograms of methane (when oxidized of course, calm down) is maybe 5.56 * 10^7 Joules

Escape velocity of titan is roughly 2.65 km/s... so you'll need to spend 2650^2/2=3511250 joules to get out of the gravity well, maybe by a giant nuclear powered electromagnetic slingshot. So when it gets to earth it only burns 6% of its energy to get out of the gravity well of titan and maybe another 4% to get here in less than 20 years. So while its a ridiculous way of doing things, it is possible, if just plain silly and never competitive with say, photovoltaic solar.

With Jupiters escape velocity of roughly 60 km/s, it of course wont ever work.


The 40 year depletion rate is not assuming present consumption rates. It assumes we use nuclear to replace oil. Roughly 2000 large reactors to a cubic mile of oil.

TOD Getting a Grasp on Oil

This can be significantly extended with breeder reactors which at present are not economically practical. There is also potential for Thorium reactors, which again would extend our reserves for nuclear. There are of course large costs associated with this which, in our present political climate, are unacceptable.

My kids have been talking about Leonardo DiCaprio's new documentary "The 11th Hour".


The trailer is making the rounds on youtube and myspace. He addresses the PO, CC, and more.The younger generations Al Gore.

The timing of this thing could be perfect, (if not already too late)

Sorry if this has already been discussed but I have been souper busy working on getting a Sarconol serving license.

My sarcanol comment upon viewing the trailer for this movie was, "No more worries about wholesale environmental destruction. We're saved! Leonardo DiCaprio's on the case!"

Seriously though, the movie looks interesting and I will definitely go see it when it comes out, but I suspect that it will largely be ignored by the public and DiCaprio will be excoriated by the main stream media (MSM). Look at the recent treatment of Michael Moore on CNN as an example of how someone who points out shortcomings in our current system.

You don't need to see a movie to get information about climate change, loss of biodiversity and habitat, groundwater contamination/depletion, fossil fuel depletion, etc. One only needs to make periodic trips to the library and frequent forays onto the intertubes to penetrate the morass of distraction that is the MSM.

We have a free press and the people have voted. No one wants to hear that anything they might be doing could harm the environment. We'd much rather hear about the latest sporting event, hollywood breakup, celebrity DUI, missing child or woman story than how we're blithely approaching the cliff of overshoot.

Of course, this is all my humble opinion, and I could be wrong...

Man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against the absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind. -- Thomas Jefferson

DiCaprio will be excoriated by the main stream media (MSM). Look at the recent treatment of Michael Moore

You miss the fundamental distinction between the two - no one wants to get hold of Moore's bits. Okay, maybe they do, but they have different objectives.

The MSM will probably just totally ignore DiCaprio on this one.

Although I note they both have people in wheelchairs.

[obligatory avoidance of thread destruction - that's a good thing]
Jaymax (uber-techno-conucopian-doomer)

The MSM will probably just totally ignore DiCaprio on this one.

I expect that when this movie is released, you will hear many MSM pundits using the following argument to brand DiCaprio as hypocrit regardless of the desirability of his bits.

The Hollow Environmentalism of Leonardo DiCaprio

How do you explain this? Movie star Leonardo DiCaprio turns Chicken Little for the environment and makes the big movie to alert us all of pending ecological disaster. Its called the "11th Hour" and will be in theaters this August. At the same time, however, his own industry (Hollywood) is using rain forest wood to make movie sets. Yet, big movie star turned eco-warrior doesn't see that as a problem. I mean, he doesn't mention it in his film. Nor does he ever talk about it. So what gives?


But what else would explain him jumping in bed with Warner Brothers as his distributor? Forget about Warner Brothers as a huge consumer of rain forest wood. This is a company that would never consider helping the environment by showing DiCaprio's film on the Internet instead of the movie theater that you have to drive to in your pollution machine. These "concerned" movie marketers wouldn't think about going digital in theaters either. Instead they produce hundreds (if not thousands) of chemical intensive film prints that then need to be moved around by big fat UPS planes and trucks - all so you can learn the perils of human impact on the environment!

Man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against the absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind. -- Thomas Jefferson

Once it's out - let's compare notes.

One or the other of us is seriously going to have to reconsider our world-view - and I'm not even talking about anyones 'bits' here -- Even if the argument had much valadity [which I don't think it does] -- it's far too abstracted to sell MSM to the public.

Also, you said: "you will hear many MSM pundits using the following argument to brand DiCaprio as hypocrit"

I offer this quote from the 5th para of the article you quote from.

DiCaprio and company are not hypocrites

No dig meant, but if counterpunch doesn't see him as a hypocrit, it's somewhat unlikely MSM will.
Jaymax (uber-techno-conucopian-doomer)


"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?" – H. M. Warner, co-founder of Warner Brothers, 1927.

- I like Leo and I'm gonna listen to this movie ...


I see someone has recommended realclimate.org to you, but I jotted down the 1st 5 things about climate change that came to my mind:

1. CO2 levels at Mauna Loa, HI (where we have a weather station on top of a remote mountain that measures CO2 levels...of course it's gove way up in the past 30 years)

2. Rising worldwide temps

3. Thinning ice sheets in Greenland, Antarctica, etc.

4. melting glaciers in the Alpa, Himalayas, even the US Northwest like WA & MT

5. Alarmingly higher nightime temperatures (which speaks to the presence of high carbon levels, whihc serve to trap heat)

And I didn't even get into other anecdotes from nature, such as disrupted migratory and growing patterns, decreasing maple tree production, etc.

Cheers. Good luck with your boss, but don't expect much. Most climate change deniers insist on facts, and then when presented with facts, they say "that doesn't prove anything blah blah blah". Remember, you are most likely debating the Flat Earth society.

And bosses suck, anyway.

Thank you for the 5 data points. Those are the kind of items I was looking for.

Having followed the climate change debate since the late 80's, I also like to point out something that I've noticed about people in the "denier" camp. Many of the same people who claim today that climate change is not being caused by increased CO2 levels, also made feverish arguments throughout the 90's and beyond that global warming was not occurring at all. It was only when it was became too obvious to refute, that they admitted that warming was occurring.

Man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against the absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind. -- Thomas Jefferson

this is exhaustive:


how far you need to go down the list depends on the level of sophistication / delusion of the skeptic (sic).

Is increased solar activity causing GW (the latest conservative dodge) or are Greenhouse gases ?

Satellites should have observed increased solar activity, and other than the 11 year cycle, there has been no observed increase since 1960 (that is 4+ cycles).

Daytime temperatures should have increased more if solar activity is going up, Nighttime if GHG. Nighttime up more.

Equatorial areas should heat up more if increased solar activity is to blame, Arctic if GHG. Arctic up more.

Summers should have heated up more than winters if increased solar activity, winters more if GHG. By a slight margin, winters are heating up more.

As for Neptune getting warmer, it recently passed closest to the sun (as in June 21st is the day with maximum solar input here in the USA) and it is now mid-summer on Neptune with their 200+ year long "year".


"An improvement in business conditions and the job market has lifted consumers' spirits in July," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "Looking ahead, consumers are more upbeat about short-term economic prospects, mainly the result of a decline in the number of pessimists, not an increase in the number of optimists. This rebound in confidence suggests economic activity may gather a little momentum in the coming months."


So does this mean the market WON'T crash, or that it's time now?

If you whistle in the dark while passing a graveyard, you won't be possessed by evil ghosts. Same thing.
Bob Ebersole

mainly the result of a decline in the number of pessimists, not an increase in the number of optimists

Peak realism?

We are way past this one

On Leanans link:

Saudi Aramco to invite bids for US$10 billion Manifa developments

Surely this is very interesting. If Saudi doesn't want to develop this goo on their own then who does? Was a three stage contract awarded to multinationals not so long ago not dumped/mothballed/diluted? I'm sure I remember reading about this in Simmons's book.


If Saudi doesn't want to develop this goo on their own then who does?

I DO !!

At least a piece of it.

An almost pristine, low cost (relatively) 900,000 or so b/day oil field. Special refining required.


I would love to quote you some of the dificulties/technical challenges of this field but I don't have my source text in front of me!!!

China's energy consumption per unit of GDP falls 2.78% in first half


The same article states: "The power consumption per unit of GDP, however, climbed 3.64 percent year-on-year in the first six months, according to the statement."

Can somebody tell me (non English native) what the broader technical term is? Is it energy or power?

Thank you

Energy would be everything; oil, natural gas, coal, hydroelectricity, wood, nuclear.

Power is generally considered to be electricity.

I am glad that I learned English at ages 1 and 2. It was easier then :-)


Thank you, I was unsure where to put steam power and combustion power ;)

Not to be picky but... from scientific perspective everything is energy in different forms, even matter.

The above mentioned materials and technologies are just ways for us humans to convert one type of energy to another, so they are no more energy than you and me... Power then should be defined as the speed (or rate) we are able to transform one form of energy (unuseful for us) to another (useful) type of energy. Sorry if I made things much more confusing than they already are, but that's what it is...

Not from a Government statistics POV.

Words have different definitions within differing contexts. And I gave the Gov't stat definition.


Energy is the ability of a material to do "work" in the sense of classical physics. The British Thermal Unit (BTU) is a well known measure, and the BTU content of a gallon (or pound) of gasoline, kerosene or LPG, etc., is the reference often used for comparison in English units. Of course, there are comparable units in the mks system. Power is defined as the rate of use of energy, as in horsepower or kilowatts. And, electric power is not a primary source of energy, only a transport medium.

That the MSM don't understand the difference and conflate "power" with energy supplied in the form of electricity is just another symptom of the poor educational system. It's sort of like the bimbo TV weather presenter that says something like: "Now, lets look at the satellite...".

E. Swanson

And they say "kilowatts" when they mean "kilowatt-hours", and use cockamaynee units such as "kilowatt hours per year" when they could correctly use "kilowatts".

And my "favorite" is reports like "the new power station generates X megawatts, which is enough to power Y homes for a year". I suppose at the end of the year the station is assumed to self-destruct? And of course never a mention that it could power 2Y homes if they bothered to conserve a bit, such as turn some unneeded lights off once in a while. (In the US they typically assume that a "home" needs 1 kilowatt average power, which equals about 730 kilowatt-hours per month.)

Hello TODers,

Thxs to Leanan for the topthread newslink on Potash, I hope people will check it out. I hope to make a mental connection in people's head that every future time you encounter the critical alarm words, "food, or biofuels, or FF-fertilizers" that you will think of our need for potash.

Photosynthesis requires elements from the Periodic Table in various percentages--there is no substitution. That is why most fertilizers have the elemental NPK ratio:

Fertilizer ratios indicate the % of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, by weight, in a particular fertilizer. Ratios are always given as the % nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). For example, a 10-10-20 fertilizer contains 10% nitrogen, 10% phosphorus, and 20% potassium.

Before the use of fossil fuels, "They Burned The Woods and Sold the Ashes":

A remarkable land-use industry developed in upstate New York in the late 1700s and continued well into the 1800s. The raw materials for this industry were trees, millions and millions of trees. The product was potash, millions of tons of potash. The impact this industry had on the forests and the finances of early settlers was so enormous, it seems impossible it was all but lost to history.
I hope this adds to my previous postings on the Merc vs Earthmarine Dynamic and Foundation: to help optimize the Bottleneck Squeeze we need to protect our habitats from rapacious Detritovores.

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

Fertilizer ratios indicate the % of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, by weight, in a particular fertilizer. Ratios are always given as the % nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). For example, a 10-10-20 fertilizer contains 10% nitrogen, 10% phosphorus, and 20% potassium.

Bob, that's almost right but phosphorous is usually reported as phosphoric acid -- P2O5 -- and potassium as potash -- K2O. Nitrogen is simply reported as N.

To convert P2O5 to P, multiply by 0.44. To convert K2O to K, multiply by 0.83.

So, your 10-10-20 fertilizer is 10% N, 4.4% P, and 16.6% K.

(ortho) phosphoric acid is H3PO4. Potash is K2CO3.
Fertilizer constituents are indeed often reported as phosphorus pentoxide (P2O5) and potassium oxide (K2O).

Thanks, nelsone. Obviously, I shouldn't use the terms "potash" and "phosphoric acid" (though I have seen them used on fertilizer bags in reference to K2O and P2O5).

As noted in your post K is easily available by burning wood. N is easily created by cover cropping with a legume. What is going to get small-scale growers will be phosphorous and calcium. Although Ca can be made by burning limestone (burned lime), P is a whole other thing. To me, this is what will result in wornout soils in the medium term. Some crops such as wheat will simply not head out without adequate P.

P is one reason I started to convert my growing areas to Terra Preta two years ago since it supposed to hold P well. In my case, I make the charcoal from slash from cutting firewood. But note, charcoal and wood ashes are incompatable since you obviously don't burn the wood to ashes if you want charcoal and vis versa.


I thought lime was used as a pH modifier, not a nutrient. There's a lot more magnesium in most green plants than calcium. Of course there are exceptions - oddballs like Horsetail are even full of silicon!
Phosphorus is an absolutely critical element, and could become the tall pole in the farming tent. But animals have higher P concentrations than plants, so planting a fish at the base of each corn plant like the Pilgrims were taught to do could become popular once more.

Lime is generally used to modify soil pH -- at least in the eastern US. Given that plant nutrient availability is correlated with soil pH and that most field crops like a pH of somewhere between 5.5 and 6.5, you don't want to dump lime onto your soil without some consideration of its effect on pH. Soil pH can be tested with a kit available from your garden center (quick and dirty) or by your state university or private soil testing lab.

Note that manures and bone meal are also good sources of P.

Hello to all TODers that replied to this mini-thread,

Thxs for responding. Recall my earlier post on geologic depletion of phosphates: FF-depletion will only accelerate the farming blowback from this energy intensive mining process. My Thxs to TODer Todd for his farming expertise on how P-shortages, as a Liebig Minimum, will keep grains from fruiting, even if one has plenty of the other elements to drive the photosynthesis process [I am a woefully ignorant city-boy].


In regards to optimizing our decline: I would expect the future value of P to rise to the point where phosphate mining will be done this way:


This method, plus evaporating urine, should be preferred to the processing method of acidizing ground-up bones as mentioned in the Wiki-link. I will leave the likely Overshoot source of those bones to your owm imaginations.

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

Manures have P but really aren't good sources. According to the Western Fertilizer Handbook, the highest one is goat manure with 1.78% as P2O5. Dairy manure is 0.30 and steer is 0.54. Chicken is 1.25.

On a realistic basis, if things turn ugly, people are not going to have access to bone meal (12-14%), tankage (8.6%) or fish meal (5.9%). Nor are they going to access to rock phosphate, super phosphate or what ever.

To put P in perspective, here are average P lbs/Ac(as P2O5)application rates in CA (from Knott's Handbook for Vegetable Growers): Beans - 61, beets - 54, carots - 95, celery - 123, potatoes - 86, tomatoes - 80. In other words, you are talking lots of tons per acre.

In the case of calcium...
Yes, it's good for pH adjustments but it plays a vital role in plant nurtition as home gardeners know when they get blossom end rot. It is also vital in maintaing cation exchange capacity in soils. Ideas in Soil and Plant Nutrition by Joe Traynor has an interesting chapter on Ca. Also, for real life experiences with Ca, I love Louis Bromfield's books such as "Out of the Earth", "Plesant Valley" and "Malabar Farm".


have you ever tried comfry as a green manure
sounds incredible

Deep rooted plants like comfrey are good for "dredging up" nutrients that are out of the rooting zone of most plants. Additionally, they are valuable for their ability to loosen compact sub-soils.

Quite a good number of very interesting online(pdf) texts on agriculture / plants can be found here:


on above page look for comfrey to find:

Hills, Lawrence D. Russian Comfrey: A Hundred Tons an Acre of Stock or Compost for Farm, Garden or Smallholding. London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1953.

The definitive and thoroughly referenced study of the growing, harvest and feeding results using all varieties of comfrey on numerous kinds of livestock and for making compost. Handsomely illustrated. Downloads as a single PDF file of 1.78 mb.Total time to prepare this book: 7 hours, 10 minutes. OUT OF PRINT.

I've heard that comfry also works pretty well as rabbit food (for ones you are raising for food, that is, not the wild ones - though they probably like it too)

Todd, I agree. Bone meal, for instance, is a by-product of our hugely energy-intensive animal production industry. Take away the feedlots and slaughter houses and you aren't going to find bone-meal for sale. Same with many other readily available fertilizers. In a worst case scenario, you are going to be dependent upon (a) native soil fertility, (b) composted manures and (c) cover crops and green manures and (d) composted kitchen scraps/leaves/grass clippings and whatever other organic materials you can scare up.

Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) - Buckwheat is a very rapidly growing, broadleaf summer annual which can flower in 4 to 6 weeks. It reaches 2 1/2 ft in height and is single-stemmed with many lateral branches. It has a deep tap root and fibrous, superficial roots. It can be grown to maturity between spring and fall vegetable crops, suppressing weed growth and recycling nutrients during that period. Buckwheat flowers are very attractive to insects, and some growers use this cover as a means to attract beneficial insects into cropping systems. Buckwheat is an effective phosphorous scavenger. It is succulent, easy to incorporate, and decomposes rapidly. The main disadvantage to buckwheat is that it sets seed quickly and may, if allowed to go to seed, be a weed problem in subsequent crops.

makes a good dark honey, too.

And good pancakes. . .

I thought lime was used as a pH modifier, not a nutrient.

Not at all. Ca will boost worm cocoon production, and has some 6 or so "key" biological reactions.

There are 3 'macro' plant nutrients and 16 'micro' nutrients.

Phosphorus is an absolutely critical element, and could become the tall pole in the farming tent.

Yes, and this is the most discussion TOD has had on the topic of P.

USGS says 130 years of 'economic mineable' resource. Now, think about what the USGS is using as a base set of assumptions for the 130 year assumption?

Humans going into space, harvesting solar energy to process space-based material to import back into the biosphere to put onto croplands would be a far different future than what it looks like it will be - humans using trees and alphal (both deep rooted) to take sub-soil materials to the top soil, animals to concentrate the materials in thier flesh, bones and fecal matter and that will be used to feed the gardens/crops.

*points to the overpopulation section of TOD"
Move along, move along.

so planting a fish at the base of each corn plant like the Pilgrims were taught to do could become popular once more.

Myth. Put in the press of the day to show 'America is so bountiful that you can plat a fish with corn - that is how much excess capacity is there'

Oh, come on - Everybody in my neighborhood in Ohio used carp, sheephead, and other trash fish in their gardens. Grampa's roses were always the best, and the soil was loaded with worms that he used to collect more carp from good ole Lake Erie.

Eric meant there's not enough fish left.

There's a lot more magnesium in most green plants than calcium.

Not true, according to below source. Phosphorus has a relatively low leachability, particularly compared to potash. If we didn't piss it into the sewer, then we wouldn't need to add it to the soil. Footsteps and tilling lower pH, if it isn't already lower from disturbance.

From page 175 of "Edible Forest Gardens" by Dave Jacke

% dry weight by nutrient (first three groups for brevity)

Group 1:
Carbon 45%
Oxygen 45%
Hydrogen 6%

Group 2:
Nitrogen 1.5%
Phosphorus 0.2%
Sulfur 0.1%

Group 3:
Potassium 1.0%
Calcium 0.5%
Magnesium 0.2%

Stupid question about Terra Preta: I understand it can "hold" more P and such, but for the plants to grow they need to actually take that P up into the plant - and some of it is then removed when the produce is harvested. So, how does the "hold" that the charcoal have on the nutrients of benefit? In any case for long-term fertility you'd have to return the nutrients to the soil, via compost and humanure.

Also, regarding the K from burning wood: if you don't burn it to ash, but instead bury it as charcoal, or even as green wood, isn't the K still in it and will eventually be released to the soil?

vtpeaknik, I'm no expert on TP. Soils that are high in soil organic carbon, clays, and Fe and Al-oxides tend to have a greater ability to bind plant available nutrients. And it is certainly true that most nutrients in such soils are not readily plant-available -- i.e. not easily dissolved in the soil solution. This is a good thing as it prevents excessive leaching losses, particularly in humid environments.

The reactivity of any plant nutrient, at any given time, in the soil solution is dependent upon many factors -- colloidal reactions with soil constituents, soil pH, soil temperature and microbiological activity, etc.

With regard to soil organic carbon, it is highly reactive and tends to release nutrients slowly over time (as opposed to a quick shot as would be supplied by commercial fertilizers). Compost and composted manure (and presumably TP) would certainly add relatively stable organic carbon compounds to the soil and could be expected to slowly release bound plant-available nutrients as they decompose.

You are correct in assuming that any nutrient removed by crop harvest will eventually need to be replaced.

I have been adding Charcoal to my potting mix for ages, it was something an old gardening friend told me about.

Any gardening soil needs loads of compost. Which if made right is slow cooked almost like charcoal is, though they are not the same things.

We just don't have the time to re-introduce the best gardening practices into the farming world and expect the result to be anywhere near the yeilds we have today.

FF has really done us in as a farming practice.

You forgot the history of collecting bones, then making bone black to put in the soil.

Hello Eric Blair,

I am just further extrapolating my Wild & Crazy speculative thoughts here for other TODers to consider.

If we seek to optimize the Bottleneck Squeeze and speed the transition to natural, organic processes, the ownership of these phosphorus and potassium geosources, along with the other essential minerals besides NPK, should be owned/controlled by biosolars/farmers/Earthmarines.

This way, we can have the greatest effect on topsoil sustainability, and fight deforestation and desertification by replanting/reseeding the forests and grasslands to prevent, as much as possible, the extinction of other plant and animals species. My hope is that earlier posts on stockpiling natgas for chemically-fixing [Nitrogen,the N component] would help bridge this overall NPK process.

The flip side of infinite growth by detritovores/city Overshoot/Mercs is the present FF-leveraged extraction of NPK for explosives [bullets on up to bombs], FF-fertilizers, pesticides & herbicides to leverage Overshoot, and the mining of non-essential vanity minerals [gold, gemstones, etc]. The classic battle of the exosomatic sword vs the earth-rooted plowshare dynamic in elemental NPK human social terms; Mercs vs Earthmarines.

I think this is inevitable until this dynamic exhausts itself in 'optimizing the Paradigm Shift' conflict; when the parasitic Mercs finally switch to become restorative Earthmarines themselves, hopefully resulting in a new mindset [As in the fiction of Asimov's Foundation & JRR Tolkien, the Elysian Fields "Undying Lands"].

My earlier postings with TODer TGP80 alluded to this theme, and since he proclaimed himself to be a high-level mercenary principal [Blackwater?]: I hope he understood the gist of my then brief outline. Time will tell.

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

LS9 promises 'renewable petroleum'

50% more energetic content and is made via a process that uses 65% less energy.


7 years from the doomed USGS "here is how much we think there is left in the world" Report and they are still using that old data?

Black gold in the Great Open Ocean at the top of the World, Just great, Russia now the USA going to get the gold right out of them icebergs.

Well at least they are seeing a silver lining to New York being underwater.

At least when Florida looses the Miami shore front and those 20,000 new condos this year alone, noone will worry because you can get it all back for the kiddies in the Cruise the Top of the World fun fest we will have.

Okay, Why am I even running for the President job. I can just let the next guy or gal take the job and tell people why the world is so screwed up.

Sarcasm Off, or at least muted to some point.

Back to writing about the big Red Dragon that takes over the planet. In Sci-Fi I can make anything happen, it is fiction after all, I control the whole world that you read about.

Fact: This century will see the world run out of Fossil Fuels, most metals, and enough fresh water.

Fact: By mid century we will be at ~9 billion people.

Fact: We cannont feed these people without FF and modern agricultures inputs.

Fact: Billions upon billions will die soon.

Fact: FF will never come back, having taken ~100 million yrs to create. We will have burned through them in a few hundred yrs.

After 1000 centuries humanity has created an impressive technological world with one fatal flaw. It is not sustainable. The people at the top know this. Hell, even most people at TOD know this.

What to do??

1. Let things continue as they are and by the end of this century mankind will have destroyed the planet and most of its life. We will never rise from the ashes so to speak. The best we will hope for in the next 1000 centuries is a 17th century life.

2. Remove the overshoot problem. Remove most of the people. Suppose a spaceship arrived tomorrow and took 6 billion people away to new planets, never to come back. We would have a chance to start anew, with the technology and science we have, to try to create a truly sustainable lifestyle for all people. One that can last 1000 centuries more.

3. No spaceships are coming.

4. Biological culling of the species will be required to implement 2 above.

5. Expect this to start soon.

OK, I'll bite. I think you should take time to review the commenting guidelines. Here are the relevant guidelines:

Commenting guidelines
1. When citing facts, provide references or links.
2. Make it clear when you are expressing an opinion. Do not assert opinions as facts.
3. When presenting an argument, cite supporting evidence and use logical reasoning.

Your facts, sound suspiciously like predictions. Unless you tell me that you meditate daily and enter an Edgar Cayce-like state that allows you to tap into the hidden knowledge of the universe, it's hard to credit your predictions as "facts".

If you cited some sources for your facts, maybe people would take them more seriously. Or, maybe if you stated that these "facts" are actually your opinion, people would give you more credence. Prefacing your statements with the word "Fact:" is not enough to make it true.

As far as this being too horrible to contemplate as the reason no one has answered your post, I think it is more of a matter of there not being much to answer. Predictions of this type which are not based on any linked article or Drumbeat post IMO are better suited for peakoil.com.

I personally find myself squarely in the doomer camp, but IMO, your post does not advance this position with much success.

Man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against the absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind. -- Thomas Jefferson

Hi Phree,

It would probably be best not to take the bait.


Let me try...

Fact: This century will see fossil fuel extraction rates decline to vastly less than current levels, possibly as low as 10 or even 5%.
Some rarer metals will no longer be economically available for mining, and will only be available via extensive recycling.
Fresh water supplies will most likely be tight for much of the century, until better infrastructure to capture the world's abundant supplies of water (fresh and otherwise) is in place.

Fact: By mid century, current population demographics suggest a population of around 9 billion by mid-century. However food and water shortages, increased disease outbreaks etc. may well keep this number as low as 8 billion.

Fact: Feeding this many people will require modern agriculture's inputs, including significant extra-somatic energy inputs. Some of this will come from FF (which will still be available in significant quantities by mid-century), some from other technologies.

Fact: Millions upon millions will almost certainly die from starvation and disease, probably at rates significantly greater than current trends. Billions may well have to get used to eating less.

Fact: FF will not be recreated in any meaningful timeframe as far as human civilisation is concerned, so we have no choice but to diversify our energy sources: fortunately there are no shortage of options.

Oh and one last one...

Fact: "die-off" doomers and techno-worshipping cornucopians both think that their vision of the future is a fact. The rest of us accept that the future is full of uncertainty and a range of possible outcomes exist.

>Fact: By mid century, current population demographics suggest a population of around 9 billion by mid-century. However food and water shortages, increased disease outbreaks etc. may well keep this number as low as 8 billion.

I doubt that the population will grow anywhere near 8 billion. We would need a source of cheap energy to expand the food supply. With global grain reserves shrinking fast and a potential serious wheat blight, its highly probably that food shorages will arrive soon. As mal nuetrietion rises, related diseases will rise increasing infant mortality rate as well as promoting regionalized panademics.

>Fact: FF will not be recreated in any meaningful timeframe as far as human civilisation is concerned, so we have no choice but to diversify our energy sources: fortunately there are no shortage of options.

A big enough die-off will cull the human population to the point its sustainable again. With a massive reduction in the population, water, energy, and food shortages are no longer a problem. There is the possiblity that in the future that humans will be able to maintain a lifestyle and technology well above the 17th century. Although this isn't a sure thing. For instance, a nuclear\biological war could cull too many human to the point where the knowledge base cannot be maintained. After the fall of Rome it was about a 1000 years later than civilization resumed its technological growth. Technological growth isn't dependant on our huge population. Our large population was largely created by our technological advances (ie Tech to extract and utilize Fossil fuels). Of course the cycle is likely to repeat. Perhaps 500 to 900 years after the cull, our population will once again exceed its sustainablity and repeat another culling. Its happend in the past (last time was during the little ice age, and prior to that it was the fall of Rome).

Whereas I highly doubt the population can be kept as low as 8 billion. With a current population of almost 6.5 billion and over 2 billion females at prime-fertility, and another 2 billion expected to enter that phase in the next 20 years, if each of them only has a single child survive till 2050, and each of the 1 billion surviving new females likely to be born in the next 20 years has only a single child that survives to 2050, that's 5 billion extra people right there, meaning that 3.5 billion of the existing population would have to die between now and then to keep the population under 8 billion, to give a total death rate that would exceed ten times the current rate.*

We need surprisingly little food to survive and reproduce at least once; perhaps half as much as the amount of food available today. Of course, if this continued for much longer (one surviving child per couple), at a generational time of 25 years, the population would quickly subside, potentially as low as 3 billion by 2100 and under 1 billion by 2150.

This would definitely classify as a major "die-off", but it needn't be a particularly nasty one. It's essentially what would happen if we all voluntarily and collectively stuck to a 1 child policy for the next 100 years or so.

* Current global death rate is ~56 million a year. It would need to average 82 million a year for 3.5 billion to die in the next 43 years, most likely by climbing more or less steadily from 56m/y now to 112m/y by 2050. But that's only talking about the existing population: for females to have, on average, only one surviving child each, given current fertility trends, at the very minimum 2 in 3 new babies would be dying, which is 10 billion infant deaths. For 13.5 billion people to die in the next 43 years is almost unthinkable, at a staggering average annual death rate of 314 millon a year, implying a climb from the current rate of 56m/y to over 560 million a year by 2050.

yes the death rate will be staggering. Just as the PO induced growth has been staggeering.

Well for one, you have to prove that it really was oil that was responsible for the "staggering" population growth of the 20th century (I'll accept FF-inputs made it possible to maintain the pace established in the first half throughout the latter half, but there's a lot more to population growth than saying "oil-did-it").

Secondly, you have to demonstrate how we'd see anything like the reduction in food supplies necessary to cause starvation on the levels you're talking about. People can survive and reproduce on a quarter of the calories many of us Westerners are accustomed to.

Wiz, what then do you think allowed for the staggering pop explosion seen in the 20th century?

And I suppose if society was somehow able to organize in such a manner that all resources were allocated to food prod and dist than yeah, perhaps the world could feed 8 billion people. Perhaps you could illustrate how this is going to come about?

We've been through this several times before. Probably most of the rise in population in the first half of the century was due to improved sanitation and medicine that allowed us to dramatically cut infant mortality.
I've already stated that fossil fuel inputs were vital in enabling to maintain food production to keep increasing at the levels necessary to support the population growth through the latter part of the century. However, they weren't the only factor by any means: the Green Revolution was just as much about improving crop yields by selective breeding and increased irrigation. And as I've repeated many times previously, the necessary amounts of fossil fuel required to sustain food production are relatively minimal - most likely around 5% of total usage worldwide (though it may be higher in western countries with extensive distribution channels).

Resources will be allocated to food production and distribution simply because people need to be fed before any other consideration. You may argue all you like whether Joe Sixpack with his Hummer will vote for a government that is threatening to prioritize oil/gas usage to ensure food production can be maintained, but he will have very little impact on how the world goes about solving its food supply problems.

I noted there was an article in the other day's drumbeat talking about how scientists were worried that rice yields were only increasing at 1% a year, and working on ways to increase it. But 1% increase a year means a 53% increase in 43 years: meaning if we all ate rice (and nothing else!), there'd be enough to feed nearly 10 billion of us by 2050. Personally I'd prefer to see scientists working on ways to reduce the rate at which rice yields could be increased, to ensure there's no way we can let our population get that high. And yes, of course we don't all eat rice, although I certainly wouldn't be surprised if by 2050 the average Western diet consisted of a lot more low-intensity foods like rice and a lot less meat products.

You are going to have to source that 5% of energy needed for food production.

But your second paragraph, well, lets just say we don't see eye to eye on that.

Resources will be allocated to food production and distribution simply because people need to be fed before any other consideration.

How how will this allocation take place? Who decides what gets allocated where and when? Who decides you give up the gas for your commute to power a tractor?

You may argue all you like whether Joe Sixpack with his Hummer will vote for a government that is threatening to prioritize oil/gas usage to ensure food production can be maintained, but he will have very little impact on how the world goes about solving its food supply problems.

No? He's not allowed to vote anymore? Are you going to abolish the free market so Joe can't out bid poor african farmers for oil?

I'm trying to find a definitive source for the total percentage of world FF supplies currently needed for food production and distribution. I have one source giving 4% for food production in the U.S. (almost entirely as fuel for agricultural machinery: only tiny amounts are needed to produce fertilizers), then a further 10% to process and distribute it. But food is processed and transported very extensively and inefficiently in the U.S., so these figures seem unlikely to apply world-wide. In many countries, food is mostly unprocessed, and transported with no oil needed at all: witness the barges of food that constantly ply the canals of Bangkok.

I'm not expecting there will be too much in the way of international-level rationing of oil supplies, and I agree that very poor countries whose food production is highly dependent on oil will suffer the most. However, let's take sub-Saharan Africa: several countries there (including of course Nigeria) produce far more oil/gas than they use themselves. If those countries kept exporting at their current rate to the U.S. and other wealthy countries, eventually they'd be left with insufficient quantities to sustain their own food production: I'm sorry, but no country is going to let its people completely starve to death just for the sake of a few export dollars. And if they fail to ensure that surrounding African nations with no local oil or gas production are also adequately supplied, they know they risk being overrun by refugees, so from a purely self-interest point of view, we can be reasonably confident that Africa will ensure it keeps enough oil/gas supplies to itself to keep itself fed.

There never has been a completely free market for oil, and in the coming decades it will almost certainly become less and less so.

But wiz, this is where we fundamentaly disagree.

You need to identify the mechanism where mankind devotes more and more of its remaining resources to food production and distribution. If you can do this I will entertain the idea that a mass die off can be averted.

You just said you don't forsee any major international rationing/reallocation of oil supplies. I agree, it'll never happen. And this condems just about every non oil producing country to a massive die off.

Next is a viable mechanism to ration/reallocate oil supplies within oil producing nations themselves. How are you going to ensure a farmer in Iowa has the fuel he needs if Joe is out buying him in NYC?

This is where your argument of a happy shiny future falls short. You can't identifty a mechanism which will accomplish the goals you need. Namely the reallocation of oil from wasteful uses to critical uses like food supply.

There never has been a completely free market for oil, and in the coming decades it will almost certainly become less and less so.

How will it become less so? Via what mechanism. You need to answer this question.

So to sum up your argument (correct me where I'm wrong)
1. There will be little to no internatinal oil rationing/reallocation
2. Exporting nations will cut off exports at the point they can't feed their peoples.
3. Importing, but oil producing nations will via some yet unknown mechanism correctly reallocate oil production to maintain food production/distribution.

My retorts
1. I agree. and this means all non oil producing nations will but up shiats creeek without a paddle.
2. Ha! only in your fantasies. Rulers have let people starve for a buck in the past, they do it now, and they will do it in the future. Besides, they'll starvation in these nations long before (there is already starvation now) they cross some mythical sustaiablity threshold you keep talking about.
3. Unless you abolish the free market and do strictly enforced rationing it'll never happen. Even then, it doesn't matter much if Joe gives his gas to Farmer Bob in Iowa if Joe can't afford to drive to work and buy Bob's food.

Hello Wizofaus,

Did you read Leanan's topthread Potash link, my today's posting on Potash, and yesterday's posting on Phosphate mining? In my opinion, the geo-depletion of these drivers of photosynthesis; elements P,K as Liebig Minimums, plus depletion of FF, plus climate change, will create tremendous blowback.

It would not surprise me if China/Russia war broke out over future control of these Russian mines. Recall the famous 'Guano War' or the more polite title:

The dry climate of the area had permitted the accumulation and preservation of huge quantities of high-quality nitrate deposits — guano and saltpeter — over thousands of years. The discovery during the 1840s of their use as fertilizer and as a key ingredient in explosives made the area strategically valuable; Bolivia, Chile and Peru had suddenly found themselves sitting on the largest reserves of a resource that the world needed for economic and military expansion.

Not long after this discovery, world powers were directly or indirectly vying for control of the area's resources. The USA had passed legislation in 1856 enabling its citizens to take possession of unoccupied islands containing guano...
Essentially, the Atacama desert was the 'Ghawar king', and anyplace that had big piles of birdpoop or batcrap were the smaller queens, princes, and lords of the pre-FF age.

Please do not delude yourself on how critical is the need for essential chemical compounds to support agricultural photosynthesis and explosive power.

Men have climbed mountains, sailed the seas, and fought and died for it.

As can be seen elsewhere in this issue, guano has the power to stir men’s souls. There are virtually no lengths—or heights—to which adventurous types have not gone in pursuit of the dried excrement of bats and birds. Centuries before Columbus, Peru’s Inca rulers divided the Chincha Islands among the empire’s provinces and assigned certain times when guano could be harvested from them. They also prohibited killing the islands’ birds or disturbing them while nesting. The penalty was death...
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

...geo-depletion of these drivers of photosynthesis; elements P,K as Liebig Minimums, plus depletion of FF, plus climate change, will create tremendous blowback

I agree entirely. Which is one reason I think the world population will quite possibly barely top 8 billion by 2050, as opposed to the 9 or 9.5 billion that might otherwise be expected. After this the situation may well be considerably worse, resulting in a quite dramatic population drop: possibly back down to 5 billion by the end of the century. This requires death rates far in excess of what we see today (although, in principle, it could be acheived just as well with severe voluntary restrictions in fertility - i.e. 1 child per couple, but that just isn't going to happen on a global scale in that time period).

A fall in global population some time this century has always been on the cards anyway, given steadily declining fertility rates. But once you factor in everything that is likely to impact on food production in that time period, it seems almost certain to occur sooner and more dramatically than previously believed.

However, the claim that purely on the basis of FF depletion, most of the world's population will necessarily die off within the next 50+ years is not supportable by the facts.

there's a lot more to population growth than saying "oil-did-it"

Fertilisers did it.
Fertilisers = ammonia/nitrates = Haber-Bosch process = energy = oil.


And you accuse me of being a troll?

Fertilisers are mostly manufuactured using natural gas, requiring roughly 5% of world supplies:


However, they can in principle be manufactured using any energy source. Overall, they use a whole 2% of world energy supplies. Even if oil and gas stopped flowly suddenly the world over tomorrow, we'd have plenty of energy left to manufacture fertilisers with (having said that, I would agree that such a scenario would almost certainly lead to mass die-off in a pretty short amount of time: just not for lack of fertilizer feedstock).

wiz, keep up the good work. I enjoy your factual post. If your facts don't support running around wearing leather hides and scavenging for scraps in 20 years, you're considered a "troll" around here.

I enjoy your factual post.

I hope you will enjoy my "factual post" below too...
(Not "guidelines compliant" but well deserved)

don't support running around wearing leather hides and scavenging for scraps in 20 years

Where are we going to get the leather ?

We barely make enough for shoes (a % of shoes) and belts (narrow) and a few odds & ends with feedlot agriculture (NG > fertilizers > corn > feedlot cattle > hides > leather). Once this collapses, leather production should plummet.

And with a worthless US$, we will have to export what little leather we produce for a few drops of oil. And if that breaks down, how we be able to tan the few hides we do get ?


< /sarconol >

And you accuse me of being a troll?

Yes you are!
Quoting from your link :

The entire fertilizer industry uses less than 2% of world energy consumption, and this is overwhelmingly concentrated in the production of ammonia. The ammonia industry used about 5% of natural gas consumption in the mid-1990s.

About 97% of nitrogen fertilizers are derived from synthetically produced ammonia, the remainder being by-product ammonium sulphate from the caprolactam process and small quantities of natural nitrates, especially from Chile. The production of anhydrous ammonia is based on reacting nitrogen with hydrogen under high temperatures and pressures. The source of nitrogen is the air, the hydrogen being derived from a variety of raw materials, including water, crude oil, coal and natural gas hydrocarbons. The hydrocarbons provide the energy for the energy-intensive process. The high-temperature catalytic synthesis of ammonia from air is by far the main consumer of energy in the fertilizer industry. Nitrogen and hydrogen are universally available and the issue is the availability of energy.

Said they...
But you can't expect the industry website to be absolutely fair to the truth:

the hydrogen being derived from a variety of raw materials, including ... coal and natural gas hydrocarbons ...

Coal a primary source of hydrogen?
There is certainly a bit of hydrogen in the raw coal but this seems a weird engineering choice...

Actually the main source of hydrogen is the methane from natural gas because it is technically much more convenient and energetically cheaper to break the C-H bonds from methane (CH4) rather than the H-O bonds from water (H2O) to get hydrogen.

Even if oil and gas stopped flowly suddenly the world over tomorrow, we'd have plenty of energy left to manufacture fertilisers

A silly "theoretical" argument!
It's assuming :

- That fertiliser production will get the top priority among all potential uses.
- That existing plants can switch energy sources AND HYDROGEN SOURCES at will and at negligible cost.
- That 2% of today worldwide energy use is a "negligible amount", IT IS NOT!

Worldwide energy use 2006 * is 409 quads (quadrillion Btus) 2% make 8 quads whereas worldwide energy use in 1900 was only 21 quads.
2% of today's is more than a third of 1900 worldwide energy use!
So if we get back to 1900 ressources there won't be "plenty" of energy available for fertilisers.

Yes indeed "Thanks largely to benefits from fossil fuels, world population nearly quadrupled from 1.6 billion in 1900 to 6.1 billion in 2000. Human energy use grew even faster, from about 21 quads in 1900 to over 350 quads by 2000."

* Source Statistical Review of World Energy 2007 [BP]

Don't listen to the naysayers - with you all the way on this one....
When no-one around you understands
start your own revolution
and cut out the middle man

"[T]he foreign policies of both India and China are increasingly dictated by their energy needs. They have made up with historical enemies and, more alarmingly, have cozied up to nations led by despots or in otherwise unsavory states of affairs."

Despots like the Shah of Iran, Chiang Kai-shek, Diem in Vietnam, Pinochet (after the coup), or Saddam Hussein? Oh, no, wait, that was us.

It's always amusing the way we denounce others when they mimic our behaviors such as squandering energy, polluting, or supporting despots to achieve one's own ends.

And don't forget, setting up oil cartels to keep the price up. :)

The most troubling element of the latter-day industrial revolutions in India and China may lie in their soaring energy demands. The rise in the consumption of natural resources is significant because of the sheer number of people involved:...

When you have two variables over time, say X and Y, and you want to hide the fact that X is much larger than Y, what you do is shift attention to a comparison of the first derivatives (with respect to time). If that doesn't work, then shift to the second derivatives. And so forth. Is one always able to find a diversion thusly? I'll leave it to some whippersnapper to discuss that.

Oil just closed at a new record high $78.23, according to CNBC
Bob Ebersole

Oh, boy. I guess those "refinery issues" have been fixed.

Just wait till we get a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. Bob Ebersole

Hey, looks like Trilby Lunberg says it's ok to drive more and not worry. Looks like she never heard of Peak Oil.


I'll bet she and brother Jan have some interesting conversations.

Wow, I just googled Jan and read some of his comments and saw this page:


You're right they must have some interesting conversations if they speak at all.

"Just wait till we get a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico"

Hurricanes in the entire Atlantic this season = zero.


The upper shear winds have recently disappeared from the Caribbean but are still there (a bit weaker) over the GoM.

Best Hopes for Upper Shear Winds,


Tomorrow will be interesting. A strong drawdown in crude inventories might push it over $80, but on the other hand after strong moves up or down, we tend to see some corrections.

In any case, regardless of short term changes in prices/inventories, depletion marches on . . .

Sharp combines LCD, solar wafer production

Since the first steps of the coating process are identical for solar cells and LCD panels, parts of the installation will be co-used for the production of both product groups, explained a Sharp spokesperson. Sharp earmarks a solar panel production volume of 1000 Megawatts per year.

Hello WaltC,

Thxs for the info. If I was king--I would outlaw big screen TVs and remote controls on the principle of Tonto*: "Indian makes small fire, stands close. White man makes big bonfire, stands back."

People should only be able to buy up to a 19 inch Tube-TV or LCD panel-TV, then walk to change the boobtube channel like in the old days. The exercise and energy-savings would be good.

* please, no flames. No racial or ethnic slurs intended in this post, in fact, I greatly admire the Native Americans.

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

If you outlawed big screen TVs, there'd be more PV manufacturing capability. Works for me!

Do big screen TV owners need to form a National Rifle Association (NRA)-type lobbying organization? Here's some possible quotes...

"If you outlaw big screen TV's, only outlaws will have big screens."

"You'll pry this remote from my cold, dead hands."

Man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against the absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind. -- Thomas Jefferson

Big screen TVs don't kill people,

... unless they fall on ya.

Who cares? THis will not make one iota of difference to the FF catastrophe we are facing. see my comment above. No one answered it because the truth is too horrible.

I guess I'm not that pessimistic. It's true the U.S. (and world) should be doing a much better job getting ahead of the curve on Peak Oil and I have to think that declining world oil exports are going to hurt the U.S. like heck, but dramatic energy conservation (I think there's a lot of potential there) along with steep growth in alternative sources can go a long way towards making the difference between massive die-off and massive slow-down.

In terms of PV, the underlying material cost (silicon) is cheap and thin film cells have the potential to bring system costs down to competitive levels. If we doubled PV production every year for the next 10 years (it's that Exponential Function thing) we could go from PV being .04% of total energy to 40%.

And meanwhile there are other alternative sources that can help fill the gap too.

If that could happen, we might all care.

From the Oil Drum banner:

“I'd put my money on solar energy… I hope we don't have to wait til oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”
—Thomas Edison, in conversation with Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone, March 1931

In terms of PV, the underlying material cost (silicon) is cheap and thin film cells have the potential to bring system costs down to competitive levels.

Silicon (via sand) is abundant, but purifying it will always cost in terms of energy. Silicon doesn't work in thin films because the absorptivity of light is too low. The materials currently useful for thin films are much less abundant than Si, especially in this country. In short, we have a ways to go.

No Korg, there are other reasons noone answered.

You're in a dark, dark place today, man. I usually don't advocate such things, but go eat some Poptarts or something.



If you'd just commit suicide it would take the culling out of the hands of random chance. Think Jonestown and Koolaide.
Think of your gift to humanity and the natural balance of the world, just go to the light.

I'm not volunteering, I'd rather work towards solutions, but there's always a choice.

Bob Ebersole

American Home Mortgage's survival in doubt

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- American Home Mortgage Investment Corp. said on Tuesday it can no longer fund home loans and may liquidate assets, putting its survival in doubt and sending its shares plummeting 90 percent.

The large U.S. mortgage provider and real estate investment trust said its lenders cut off access to credit, leaving it without cash on Monday to fund $300 million of loans it had agreed to make.

It also expected to be unable to fund $450 million to $500 million of loans on Tuesday.

Man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against the absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind. -- Thomas Jefferson

See yesterday's Round-Up, and the next one etc.

Cobbler.....after my own <3


windmill built from scrap timber, an old bicycle frame, and blades made from PVC pipe heated and pounded into flat blades.

And why are these guys laughing?

At Rentech's research and development laboratory in Denver ... facilities engineer Eli Philipp, left, and Mark Koenig, director of investor relations, stand outside the company's Fischer-Tropsch reactor.

Dave, they're high from the oxogen deprivation caused by all the CO2 in the air. Hope they don't get too much drain bammage, like glue sniffers.
Bob Ebersole

I'll bite: there's a camera pointed at them?

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

Hi NZSanctuary,

On yesterday's thread you were asking me what I was looking for in NZ property. That is a good question. The short answer is a reasonable price. I can recall buying a very nice 200 m2 executive home in Oregon on a large landscaped lot with old growth redwoods and wild deer for 200 oz of gold. At that time well watered grazing land in western Oregon was available for 1 oz gold/acre.

Now a crappy bare 800 m2 residential section with no landscaping or view in NZ costs over 200 oz of gold. As for the existing structures, don't get me started. There are houses here on sale for 600 oz of gold and up that would have been considered teardowns in N. America even 50 years ago - ugly old steel roof, no insulation, no heating, drafty, crappy carpet, ugly wallpaper, in a gang tagged neighbourhood to boot. When housing is overpriced compared to Caifornia, that is just sick. Yes, there are some lower priced houses in undesirable areas in NZ, but the equivalent structures in the California central valley are now selling for as low as 40 oz of gold at foreclosure auctions.

The only semi-reasonable deal in NZ is bulk grazing land in remote areas for 2 oz gold/acre. Even that is non-competitive with what is available in South America, which is important if you are going to try to sell your commodity (lamb, milk, wool, beef, venison, whatever) on a global market. Some of the local dairy people are selling their NZ farms and buying dairy farms in Uruguay.

Basically, I am thinking that NZ real estate at current prices is one of the worst possible real investments in the world. So I am looking to rent for the forseeable future. I am thinking that prices - for both farm land and residences - will need to be cut in half just to get back to the long term trendlines. In SW Florida, that has already happened, the current phase of the formerly US$300,000 townhomes of 2005 are being auctioned off at US$145,000. If I get to the point where I have enough capital so I can buy a nice NZ property as a discretionary throwaway consumer purchase rather than an investment, maybe I will then. Until then, my capital will stay in the vault and on NYMEX.

Hi Micro,

Thanks for the reply. My wife and I are not buying now either because of the ridiculous prices here - we are actually down-grading our living situation to share a house to help save/invest while we raise our baby sans crache/daycare. I like your gold ounce price comparison technique. Sometimes simply things like that bring a lot of perspective.

Will be interesting to hear your other thoughts on NZ if/when you post them.

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

i second that

i am also looking to new zealand, as a brit it retains certain cultural needs of mine, and i have friends out there - on top of the obvious reasons... but yeah - price has been an issue for me too
When no-one around you understands
start your own revolution
and cut out the middle man

WSJ article which will most likely appear in Wednesday's print edition:

High Oil-Field Costs Crimp Search for New Supplies, by Bhushan Bahree

Fierce cost escalation in the oil patch is complicating the industry's ability to respond to higher prices with new supplies, setting the stage for still-higher prices in the months and years to come.

During past surges, higher oil prices pinched consumers and the economy but also made a greater amount of untapped oil economical to pump. As a result, new supplies eventually came online, putting downward pressure on prices. That dynamic helped tame the high oil prices of the early 1980s.

But during the current four-year rise in oil prices, inflation for equipment, labor and other crucial oil-field needs has largely kept up with the rise in oil prices. In recent quarters, this has crimped results at the world's oil producers, including Western majors such as Exxon Mobil Corp. as well as the world's biggest state-run oil companies, and has also led to delays and cancellations of major projects. While plenty of activity remains in place, the high prices are nibbling away at other projects that were expected to bring significant new supplies of oil and natural gas to the world.

"Supply is going no place, and demand is rising 2.5% to 3% a year," says economist Philip Verleger Jr. of Aspen, Colo.

I have noticed a lot more citations of WSJ articles on TOD lately. Are these articles now free for non-subscribers?


I find the deletion of off-topic comments while trying to influence a political process, though pragmatic and certainly a normal practice for many reasons, disappointing.

Nonetheless, for those who feel that the political process as such is part of the problem which has led to what seems to be a fairly grim future for America, this is just confirmation.

For those who feel that broad participation of the citizens will result in their broad belief being represented in decision-making, simply remember that evolution is not a majority belief in America.

I'll probably repost this, with a few additions, in the next Drumbeat. Yes, yes, a minor breach of TOD protocol, but as was requested, off-topic posts were not desired. And broad questioning of a system directed at those who benefit from that system is essentially always off topic. In honesty, often enough, they are working very hard to keep things running, to the best of their abilities, for reasons they consider worthwhile.

The 'last minute' appeal in the American political process seems to have been institutionalized in the U.S. over the last generation, along with the skills to bury formerly obviously unacceptable changes into very dark corners of federal law making. And it is exactly this sort of never-ending crisis which now somehow seems to dominate so much American decision-making now. Last minute appeals hadn't developed into political theater while Nixon was committing his various 'high crimes,' it was simply the steady work of many millions of Americans expressing their beliefs that forced him out of office.

Now, Greenpeace sends junk mail advertising jet travel to tropical islands as an incentive to donate money, part of the process to keep the funds rolling in so they can keep raising funds for whatever it is Greenpeace finds important to focus on. Like finding the right logo, with consultants merely 'donating' their time at 200 dollars an hour - and even if Greenpeace doesn't, everyone else on K Street knows how to use the system - after all, they wrote most of the rules of the game we are forced to play.

The best way to change a deeply flawed system is to withdraw from it as far as possible, but most people will continue to rationalize their reasons for what they do.

Human nature - you never leave home without it.

I'm sorry expat, but you don't live in the US. I really don't think you should have much input in our political process, nor should I in the German political process.

As far as censorship on a thread which is intended to influence our congress, I'm in favor. I trust Professor Goose to be fair minded, and the giving input to the U.S. Congress is of the utmost importance. The comments need to be on topic, sane and civil.I don't think their content has to conform to any point of view, and I suspect Professor Goose doesn't care either. But if you want to "withdraw from a deeply flawed system", don't bother to post on a blog. Just pout, pick up your toys and go home. But we probably won't notice.

Bob Ebersole

what a load of bollox - besides isn't expat a US citizen - so regardless of where he currently resides he has every bit as much right to talk about it
When no-one around you understands
start your own revolution
and cut out the middle man