DrumBeat: August 19, 2007

Raymond J. Learsy: The Oil Patch Cheers On Hurricane Dean

The price of crude oil is down some 8 percent since August 1. What the oil patch and every oil trader knows, one of the quickest ways to turn around this tumble is the drama of a good old fashioned hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico wending its way toward the Texas and Louisiana coasts. And Shazam! Here comes Hurricane Dean!

Hurricane Dean's every little ripple will be reported by the oil industry flacks and their willing mouthpieces in the media. The crescendo of ominous events will be forecast and analyzed, all with a unanimity of purpose leading to higher and higher oil prices. Whether the storm actually hits or not, one thing is sure. The mere specter of the event will have the oil industry and the oil trading community cheering, "Go Big Dean, Go".

A free-for-all over oil money in Nigeria

The fire burned strong for 45 days and 45 nights, blanketing the village with ash and torching the young cassava plants in Ada Baniba's field. As she weeded, the flames flared out of the leaking oil pipeline behind her.

It wasn't that no one could put the fire out. It was that no one would — not the oil company that owned the pipeline, not the government and not the villagers breathing the fumes.

The tale of Kegbara Dere's fire shows just how desperate the long-neglected communities of Nigeria's oil-rich river delta have become.

The average Nigerian still survives on less than $2 a day, despite the country's $20 billion rise in oil exports to the United States over the past five years. And so Kegbara Dere villagers saw the fire less as an environmental crisis than as a negotiating tool — risking their health, land and even lives to grab their bit of the spoils from the multinational oil companies that rule the region.

Hurricane Dean heads for Jamaica after swiping Dominican Republic

In Mexico the government called a state of emergency and state oil company Pemex launched its hurricane response plan, shutting down production platforms and evacuating personnel, as Dean appeared headed toward its southern Gulf of Mexico oilfields and the refining center of Tampico.

Sacked Iran minister warns of energy 'catastrophe'

Iran's sacked oil minister has issued a parting warning to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, predicting a looming "catastrophe" in the Iranian energy sector because of high consumption, media reported Sunday.

"If we do not find a solution to the energy problem in the next 15 years, the country will face a catastrophe," Kazem Vaziri Hamaneh was quoted as saying at his farewell ceremony late on Saturday by the ISNA student news agency.

"I am ready to prove that if the fuel situation continues along current trends we will face an energy crisis in the future," he said. "The current pattern of consumption is a disaster for the country."

Energy policy is kowtowing, not co-operating, critics charge

Canada's approach paradoxical, puzzling. We sell more natural gas to the U.S. than we use.

Oil giants rush to lay claim to Iraq

The world's oil majors will descend on two key conferences about Iraqi oil next month, seizing their last chance to jockey for position before the expected passing of the country's hydrocarbon law sets off a scramble for its vast energy resources.

India: Tough time ahead for refining & exploration companies

The refining margins of Indian refinery and exploration (R&M) majors in the coming quarters is expected to be lower than the first quarter of the current financial year. And if oil majors want to end the fiscal in the black, then oil bonds are necessary. These are but some issues highlighted in a recent Merrill Lynch report in the backdrop of a fall in international crude prices.

Oil-rich Kazakhstan soaring

ONCE a provincial Soviet town known for its fragrant apples and snow-capped mountains, Kazakhstan's largest city, Almaty, is now engulfed in exhaust fumes and construction sites, an emblem of rapid progress choking on its own oil-fuelled economic boom.

China, Kazakhstan to Build Pipelines From Caspian Sea

The leaders of China and Kazakhstan agreed to finance and build a network of pipelines to supply the world's fastest-growing major economy with oil and gas from the Caspian Sea region.

Canada: Coal plants keeping the lights on

A temporary shortage of electricity from nuclear reactors in Ontario is forcing the province to run its coal plants longer to keep the lights on, causing a spike in greenhouse gas emissions and a potential headache for Premier Dalton McGuinty.

Texas Trader Admits Guilt in Iraq Oil-for-Food Fraud

The trader, David B. Chalmers Jr., admitted that he and two companies he ran, Bayoil USA and Bayoil Supply and Trading, made millions of dollars in kickbacks to the Iraqi government — as well as huge profits — while trading oil under the $65 billion aid program.

When food makes fuel

World agriculture is at a turning point: energy and climate change are re-defining the global food situation. As demand for affordable energy increases, along with greenhouse gas emissions, bioenergy is increasingly seen as an economically and environmentally sound solution. The growing potential of biofuels appears to create a substantial opportunity for the world's farmers in both industrialised and developing countries.

A blend of new, existing energies

Inexpensive power is important because it is what drives the economy. Low-cost power can give businesses a competitive advantage in the global economy.

So it came as good news that American Electric Power recently entered into a 20-year agreement to buy 100 megawatts of wind energy for customers of Indiana Michigan Power and another 100 megawatts for its Appalachian Power unit in Charleston, W.Va.

Mud: building block of the future

New homes built of mud or straw, with a lawn on the roof, sheep fleeces for insulation and heat from the ground or a boiler fired with sawdust – this is one vision of the future for our green and pleasant land.

It sounds good, but turning garbage to energy has downsides, critics say

Drastically reducing the amount of garbage going to landfills while creating a clean energy source in the process - it sounds like the perfect solution to the world‘s environmental woes.

But critics argue that the process of heating garbage to create a gas that can then be used to produce heat and electricity - a process known as garbage gasification - is an unsustainable solution to the problem of overflowing landfills that will ultimately cause more harm than good to the environment and human health.

New Field for Earmarks in U.S. Goals on Energy

Enthusiasts call it cutting-edge research on a crucial national priority. Critics of this new genre of federal spending call it “green pork.”

European smart cars kick off national tour

Popular in Europe, the ultra compact cars will be available for sale in the United States next year. Shunning national advertising, the distributors are taking pre-order reservations for $99 online and during road show stops.

It's a "grass-roots" effort, allowing potential customers to see, touch and drive the two-passenger cars that start at prices under $12,000, said Ken Kettenbeil, company spokesman.

Hundreds protest in Myanmar over fuel price hike

Pro-democracy activists led hundreds of people in a rare march through Myanmar's main city of Yangon on Sunday, in protest against an enormous hike in fuel prices last week.

Myanmar's ruling junta doubled key fuel prices on Wednesday without warning, leaving many urban workers unable to afford the cost of simply getting to their jobs.

Hopes dim for 180 trapped miners in China

More than 180 trapped miners in China have slim hopes of survival as the shafts they were working in are almost completely filled with the raging waters from a broken levee.

Officials said on Sunday operations in other coal mines in Shangdong province had been halted as a precautionary measure, a move angry relatives said should have been taken days earlier, underlining the country's reputation as the world's deadliest coal industry.

Sri Lanka: Norochcholai power project will generate 3,000 jobs directly

The balance requirement of around 65 per cent of the country's energy was provided by the existing Diesel-powered stations located in an ad-hoc manner around the country. The escalating costs of oil in the world market by the day, proved beyond doubt that the diesel-powered generator was not the panacea for the aggravating energy crisis.

Federal lawmakers need to move now to make CTL fuel available ASAP

Plenty of deep thinkers were crowded into the Coal To Liquids Coalition conference last week at Glade Springs, and while plenty of technical jargon was put out there, the real message was quite evident — federal lawmakers must get on board quickly for America to realize the multiple benefits the synthetic fuel offers to the U.S.

'N-deal no solution to India's energy crisis'

Nuclear affairs analyst Praful Bidwai is not in favour of the Indo-US nuclear deal. Bidwai vehemently opposed the nuclear deal saying it was not a long-term solution to India's energy crisis.

"It is going to promote nuclear power which is a very dangerous, highly uneconomical and flawed source of energy which cannot be a long term solution to India's energy security issues. So I am opposed to the nuclear deal," Bidwai said.

West Texas, UT system pushing for first-of-a-kind reactor in U.S.

his small West Texas town that decades ago grew up out of the oil boom now wants to leap into the nuclear age.

Though years from becoming reality, a cutting-edge nuclear reactor — the first built on U.S. soil in 30 years — is being pursued not as a power source but as part of an energy research complex that could lead to advances in hydrogen power.

Ex-nuclear plant gathers dust

Eighteen miles south of Fayetteville, on the edge of the Ozark National Forest, sits a dilapidated monument to both the promise of nuclear energy and the problems it can create.

Domestic demand set to drive Saudi Arabia's growth to 2010

Domestic demand will be the main engine of growth in Saudi Arabia for the period 2007-2010, according to a report by the Riyadh-based Jadwa Investment.

The report, released recently, said that the megaproject implementation and broad liberalisation will push real non-oil private sector growth up to an average of nearly 8 per cent with growth being fastest in manufacturing, communication, finance and construction.

Gaza power plant shuts down amid fuel shortage

Gaza’s main power plant shut down operations on Sunday after the plant said it had depleted its fuel reserves, despite a pledge from Israel to resume deliveries that were halted late last week.

Israel opened the Nahal Oz crossing in central Gaza to allow fuel into the Hamas-controlled coastal strip, but power plant officials said the private Israeli fuel company Dor Alon has yet to deliver any fuel.

Jet fuel runs out at some Nunavut airports

Airports in Rankin Inlet, Resolute Bay and Baker Lake are out of jet fuel, while the supply in Hall Beach is running low, according to a Nav Canada notice issued Thursday.

As a result, Calm Air had to turn back two flights that day, while the Nunavut government said it plans to fly in more fuel Friday to tide over the Rankin Inlet airport until its usual supply comes in by ship.

Courage must fuel renewable energy

Well, I would submit that all of this is because few of us really want to see energy prices rise to a point where alternative energy is directly competitive with traditional energy. Even though we know, in our hearts of hearts, that nothing serious is going to be done about any of these issues until the economics favor alternatives, we mostly cling to the notion that with the "right" policies, energy prices will drop -- they always have in the past and they well may well fall in the future. Therefore, why worry? Sure a few of us have lowered the price of gasoline to $1.50 per gallon by doubling our mileage with hybrid cars, but most of us still prefer traditional SUVs.

Gulf oil companies prepare for deadly hurricane

Gulf of Mexico oil and natural gas producers were evacuating offshore workers and shutting small amounts of production on Saturday as they watched powerful Hurricane Dean storm across the Caribbean Sea toward an entry into the Gulf next week.

Forecasts and computer models point Dean away from the paths taken by 2005's devastating hurricanes Katrina and Rita through offshore oil production areas and onshore refining centers.

Taking a lesson from Katrina, which defied forecasts showing it would confine its damage to Florida, companies with operations from the central to western Gulf continued pulling support workers who were not essential to keeping offshore production running.

Conservationists Cannot Escape the Laws of Energy

I came here to discuss energy conservation with several engineers from General Motors. We wound up talking about religion.

That is not as far-fetched as it seems. It has everything to do with the laws of thermodynamics -- that energy can be changed from one form to another but cannot be created or destroyed; and that in all energy exchanges, absent the addition or subtraction of energy from a given system, the potential energy of the changed state will always be less than that of the initial state.

Russia Keeps World Leadership in Oil Extraction

Russia retained the international leadership in oil extraction in June 2007, with a volume of 9.47 billion barrels a day, as reported by the National Statistics Committee Saturday.

Russian gas production falls for 3rd consecutive month

Russian natural gas production dropped for the third consecutive month in July, the Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat) said on Thursday.

Gas production dropped 2.8% in July 2007 from July 2006. Gas output dropped 0.7% in June 2007 compared to June 2006 and 1.8% in May.

Norway: Record low oil production in June

The production of oil on the Norwegian Shelf in June was the lowest for the month in 15 years. The average daily production reached 1,866,000 barrels, against 2,604,000 a day in June last year.

Amid crisis of waste, why not turn valley back to agriculture?

How can Albuquerque survive a major economic downturn brought on by a confluence of drought, aquifer depletion, water pollution, an oil crisis and unpredictable weather patterns? Such a mess is on the way.

The E.U.'s Wind Power Self-Deception

Anyone who keeps half an eye on the world energy scene might have been seriously baffled by some of the recent news from Europe. Since the 1997 Kyoto Protocol agreement on climate change, no government in the world has been proclaiming its desire to save the planet from the evils of global warming more loudly than the European Union, now representing 27 nations.

The E.U. has pledged, for instance, to go far beyond its agreed Kyoto targets for reducing its CO2 output, promising to cut its emissions by no less than 60 percent by 2050 (yes, you read that right: 60 percent, in little over four decades). To achieve this highly implausible goal, the E.U. particularly looks to generating its electricity from renewable sources; to this end, it has set itself a target of producing no less than 20 percent of its energy produced from renewables, as soon as 2020.

Hundreds get naked on glacier to expose climate change

Nearly 600 volunteers stripped before the camera on a melting Swiss glacier high in the Alps on Saturday as part of a publicity campaign to expose the impact of climate change.

Climate protesters march at Heathrow airport

Hundreds of climate change protesters marched near London's Heathrow airport on Sunday and pledged civil disobedience to draw attention to the impact of aviation on global warming.

Protest organizers say they plan to form a human chain at the site of a proposed third runway at the world's busiest international airport and to picket the headquarters of Heathrow's operator BAA through the night.

Gold Mine of Data on Energy Use by Urban Density

gTrout found the following paper and, on my first reading, I was impressed with the data. I do not have time ATM to analysize properly today, but I would encourage others to download the pdf and digest it.

I think it could form the basis of a good article.


Best Hopes for Good Data,


Table 5. Summary of Key Findings Pertaining to Low- and High-Density Development Case Studies Considered

Study element Key conclusions

1. Building materials

a. Brick and Drywall in residential buildings contribute disproportionately to urban embodied
energy/GHG emissions.

b. Materials required for non-housing infrastructure do not contribute significantly.

c. Material production overall accounts for about 10% of total life-cycle energy use/GHG emissions from residential development.

2. Building operations

a. Building operations account for 60–70% of life-cycle energy use in new residential development.

b. Building operations for low-density development are 2X as energy and GHG emissions intensive as high-density development per capita.

c. Building operations for low-density and high-density developments are about equal in energy and GHG emissions intensiveness per unit of living space.

3. Transportation

a. Transportation accounts for 40–60% of life-cycle GHG emissions in residential development.

b. Public transit accounts for only 2–5% of total transportation energy use/GHG emissions.

c. Transportation requirements for low density suburban development are nearly 4X as energy and
GHG emissions intensive as high-density urban core development per capita.

d. Transportation requirements for low density suburban development are 2X as energy and GHG emissions-intensive as high-density city core development per unit of living space.

4. Comparison of high and low urban density

a. Low density suburban development is 2.0–2.5X as energy and GHG emissions intensive as high-density urban core development per capita.

b. Low density suburban development is 1.0–1.5X as energy and GHG emissions intensive as high-density urban core development per unit of living space.

c. The choice of functional unit is highly relevant to understanding life-cycle density effects.

(Table reformated for easy html)

It is true, we really could save a lot of energy and reduce GHG by just abandoning a lot of the low density suburbs and increasing the number of people living in existing urban housing.

" It is true, we really could save a lot of energy and reduce GHG by just abandoning a lot of the low density suburbs and increasing the number of people living in existing urban housing."

Ya' know what? Unless you could figure out a way to make "Pack 'em in like sardines" more attractive in terms of quality of life than rural/suburban living, you'd likely have a serious fight on your hands. You would never get me back in some inner city hi-rise rat trap while I'm alive. Laws, fuel , and eminent domain be damned.

I think it will happen on its own. Probably the only government "intervention" necessary is to turn a blind eye to current local laws about how many unrelated adults can live in one house.

There's no need for the government to force anyone to move. It will happen. People will lose their jobs and/or be foreclosed on. What will they do? Move in with family or friends, many of whom will be glad to have some help with the rent.

Companies also are likely to move back to the cities, where they were before suburbia. There will be workers there who can walk to work if necessary, plus the supply lines that created the cities in the first place.

As we've already seen, when supplies are tight, it's those at the end of the line or out in the boonies who suffer. Cities will have access to fuel, food, jobs, and government handouts that rural or suburban areas won't. People will want to move back to the cities, and if that means sharing an apartment with grandma, grandpa, and your sister's family, you'll do it.

What we have now is a planning and regulatory regime that in most cases mandates low density, separated use, auto-dependent neighborhoods. About one-third of the U.S. market is looking for something different, but government regulation and industry inertia prevent any options from reaching the market.

About one-third of the U.S. market wants neighborhoods with a greater variety of housing types, mixed use, walkable streets and transit access. That proportion is projected to increase due to to demographic factors, and if peak oil and global warming impacts start affecting housing choices those trends will only accelerate.

Best hopes for freedom of choice.

while I'm alive

Male life expectancy declined by 10 years during the transition from the Soviet Union to Russia.

Mortality in New Orleans is about 50% higher today than demographics would suggest.

So that condition may not be a given.

Besides, Americans are herd animals when it comes to housing.

When 25% of your Suburban neighborhood is not merely empty but abandoned, boarded up. overgrown landscaping (perhaps minimal grass cutting to avoid citations), nearest grocery store & dry cleaner closed, sky high property taxes and fewer and fewer services (nearest fire station closes, you cannot remember last time police cruised by your home while crime is *UP*), random power outages, "those people" moving into cheap housing with large families & friends, and squatters starting to show up, you may re-decide.

And as I have stated before, the alternatives are not just Manhattan (or downtown Toronto) or Phoenix/Houston sprawl.

I live in a neighborhood with equivalent energy efficiency to Manhattan. 1 to 3 (a couple of 4) stories tall. A few SFR (single family residences), duplexes and mostly small apartment/condos in subdivided older homes (I live quite happily in 1890 home cut into 6 apartments). QUITE beautiful and walkable (walk score 77 http://www.walkscore.com ) with a streetcar 2.5 blocks away. Unlike the sterility endemic in Suburbia & Exurbia, I know my neighbors.

But I am becoming more convinced that the founding principles of Suburbia were bigotry and fear (certainly white flight was a major force in their founding) and some of that lingers.

Best Hopes for a Dying Changing Suburbia,


Bigotry and fear were used to promote and justify the suburban life, but they were only tools, not the founding principles. I think the real driver was simply the energy gradient created by the discovery and development of fossil fuel. Here, suddenly, was all this potential energy-- locked up in the ground-- that could be turned into money if people could be harnessed to that purpose.

The achievements of the media and advertising industry have been absolutely remarkable in convincing us of the absolute necessity of the stupidest things-- all to the purpose of moving electrons in a giant redox scheme that piles up money in the bank by oxidizing all the reduced carbon formed by hundreds of millions of years of plant life on Earth in a just a few decades.

The gradient is decreasing, and themodynamic equilibrium is approaching. Things will work out (though possibly not in a nice way.)

"Bigotry and fear were used to promote and justify the suburban life, but they were only tools, not the founding principles. I think the real driver was simply the energy gradient created by the discovery and development of fossil fuel."

There is also a less insidious reason. Don't forget GIs following WWII: They returned "home" - but they didn't actually go home to the farm. After they'd seen Paree, thousands of people settled in big cities and the newly developing suburbs. It was the "modern" thing to do at the time.

Yes, the herd instinct. Do as the rest are doing.

Although there was no modern Suburbia in WW II Europe.


Seldom have I laughed so hard at a statement encapsulating such bitter doom, NLNG. Kudos from a fellow physical chemist.

I think you're right here. During the '30s and early '40s the big propaganda for the idea of mass suburbanization came from progressives who wanted to improve the lives of the workers packed into tenements. They, in turn, could be said to be following in the footsteps of that Nazi, Henry Ford, who built Greenfield Village as his reactionary vision of how the working class should live. Both the left and right were wrestling with the bad conditions of cities at that time because it was turning workers into potential revolutionaries. If gas is cheap, and I want to head off a revolution, I want to disperse the disgruntled masses and equip them with cheap V-8s.

What I found interesting in the New Deal propaganda films is that no one thought that urban neighborhoods could be revitalized by rising incomes. Instead, we've gone through one bizarre urban scheme after another, dispersal, high-rise slums, now back to two-floor buildings. Something seems to be missing in our beliefs about cities.

The bigotry and fear are primarily class bigotry rather than race bigotry, and I think I've decided the root of most of the craziness in America is television. Because its such a passive media and people can't affect the outcomes of the shows, they carry this attitude into their lives.

Fear and sex are the two main methods of manipulating people, they speak to primal instincts. If a person spend the majority of their free time watching cop shows, they seem more prone to a fearful attitude than people who go outside and take walks in theit neighborhood.. People are taught by advertisers to immitate the actor's on TV, so they want a solution that works in 40 miutes max. The villains are portraed as lower class people, so the ignore the villians who are looting their 401K'S.
Bob Ebersole

I have talked to several older people that "escaped" New Orleans as young adults to the suburbs (white flight). They still have a nostalgia for the old neighborhoods and the relationships there and think of moving back on occasion.

When asked, they will say is was never like that in the Suburbs.

Walking and talking and spending time outside are, I think, the keys. And if we can do this in the heat & humidity of New Orleans, anyone can :-)

But I think race was a major factor.



I am in your fair city today and I am ensconced at Cafe Rose Nicaud on Frenchman Street. A lovely area and one unlike to those I find in the racist suburbs of my backward city Dayton, Ohio. I agree that people wanted to live in a semi farm setting with the amenities of the city but the Johnson administration's civil rights policies did not work for Dayton. It did not heal the rifts from the Civil War or Civil Rights movements. This one size fits all did not work for Dayton, with no geographical barriers to growth. Whites took their money and political power and drove infrastructure growth to the suburbs.

Of course Dayton is observing rapid population decline coupled with an astronomical foreclosure rate at the same time the local planning council is constructing a new sprawl inducing interchange south of the City. Dayton is going to reap the whirlwind, but in the next 5 years you may be able to get a free house in Downtown Dayton as long as you can pay the property Tax.

How long will you be in town ?

Perhaps we could meet. I have not tried Cafe Rose Nicaud.

Best Hopes,



I am in town today (Sun) and then I drive to the Cane River NP to do some work and I will return to NO on Thursday the 23rd and I leave Saturday at 1200. Thursday Night or anytime on Friday the 24th. I would enjoy discussing relationships between our cities connected by electric trolleys and the river. The Great Miami flows through Dayton on the way to the Ohio.

I saw a nice local band at dba on Saturday.

Hope we can connect.


I recommend editing you remark and deleting eMail address. "bots can gather it for spam.

Sent you an eMail.


Print that offer in Spanish and you'll get more takers than the INS can catch.

"My City Was Gone"

-The Pretenders




The Pretenders backed up The Who last fall in Minneapolis and this night they stole the show.

special meaning for me, I grew up in Cuyahoga Falls.

Too bad Limbaugh uses that music on his show.

There have been lots of claims as to why the suburban explosion happened after World War Two. The popular one among city planners is that the Interstate Highway system caused the rapid suburban growth. I think this was more an effect than a cause. In reality I think it was a confluence of many things. Cheap energy, good roads, GI’s returning and wanting their house “in the country,” government policies (FHA, GI bill), herd mentality, and yes racism.

Two racist practices fueled suburban growth: red lining and block busting. In block busting and unscrupulous real estate agent would work to move a black family into a working class white block. Then he would go to all the neighbors and say that “those people” are moving into the neighborhood and you all know what will happen to your property values….. BUT luckily Mr. unscrupulous agent is here to sell your house for you. There are stories of blocks turning over in a couple of weeks from this practice. It was only successful because of racist attitudes of the whites who lived there. The newly formed black neighborhood was then likely red lined. This is a practice by banks where they would not loan money to certain neighborhoods usually based on race. The neighborhood would into decline do to lack of investment further pushing the middle class out to the burbs.

In a funny turn of events, many of those areas in the biggest cities are now being gentrified back into expensive places to live. The boomers who fled these areas can no longer afford to move back. They should have kept the land. Over the long term it would have been a good investment,



"No man who owns his own house and lot can be a Communist. He has too much to do." (Bill Levitt - 1948)

One book that explores that thesis is Behind the Gates: Life, Security and the Pursuit of Happiness in Fortress America by Setha Low.

Book Description

In 2002 it was estimated that one in eight Americans will live in gated communities. What has sparked this alarming trend?

Behind the Gates is Setha Low's revealing account of what life is like inside these suburban fortresses. After years researching and interviewing families in Long Island, New York and San Antonio, Texas, Low provides an inside view of gated communities to help explain why people flee to these enclaves. Parents with children, young married couples, "empty-nesters," and retirees express their need for safety, their secret fears of a more ethnically diverse America, and their desire to recapture the close-knit, picket-fenced communities of their childhood. Ironically, she shows, gated neighborhoods are in fact no safer than other suburbs, and many who move there are disheartened by the insularity and restrictive rules of the community.

I'm sure the author's inclusion of San Antonio was no accident...

How will they feel being drafted into a neighborhood militia when the managers go broke and can't pay the security mercenaries? Really old guys and brain-dead teenagers. Might as well draft the staff at McDonald's - our version of Hitler's Volkssturm.

Yes, this gated community nonsense continues. My home (recently sold) was in a suburb engulfed by greater Miami; just a few blocks from US 1 and rapidly gentrifying, it is considered very desireable. Enough well-to-do's moved in to petition the county to wall it off and gate it. I spoke at 3 of 4 public hearings, largly because these are public streets and all the "guards" can do is record tag #s. The next to last hearing I finally understood what this was all about when someone let slip the word "schwartzas" ("blacks" in Yiddish).

Despite my best efforts it went through, they assessed me thousands to put up walls and stupid airconditioned guard houses, and cut off streets so I could no longer walk to the local convenience store.

Hurricane Andrew in 1992 accelerated white flight from Dade County, which is now majority Hispanic. The anglos took their insurance settlements and moved to shiny new suburbs (in drained Everglades) in an adjacent county.

Suburbia is indeed all about racism.

Errol in Miami

But I am becoming more convinced that the founding principles of Suburbia were bigotry and fear (certainly white flight was a major force in their founding) and some of that lingers.

That seems blindingly obvious to me. PO is not going to change that. Lets face it, humans are not evolved to be comfortable living close to people that do not look or act like they do. Individuals may be able, but there is zero chance that the future of america will be a multicultural country all packed together in cities like a bunch of mixed nuts.

I think you are making things more complicated than they are.

IMO people chose suburbs simply because they are more convenient to live in. They are also much cheaper and spacious than crowded downtowns.

I have lived in both environments, actually both extremes - from an overcrowded Sofia quarter moving to a typical Atlanta suburb. Cultural shock aside, I find living here much more easier, but, maybe strange to many people this does not mean I like it more. Quite the opposite actually. I think that American culture has evolved to embrace easiness and convenience as the definition of high quality of life, and maybe this is the root of its tragedy.

Amen brother. My PV topped work-from-home burbs house is as much city as I can stand. I used to wait 10 minutes for the elevator to come in my "efficiency" Chicago high rise.

And, half the people/doomers on this site would build armed megabunkers on 40 acres in the name of conservation.

What they hope is that everyone else moves back to the city.

Here's a quick summary. The study looked at two cases. One, a glass and concrete 11-story condo near downtown Toronto. The other, a standard wood-frame, brick facade suburban house in the outer suburbs of Toronto.

The study modeled the embodied energy of the construction materials, the energy used in building operations, and energy used in automobile and transit transportation. The study also modeled the greenhouse gas emissions.

For building materials, low density housing uses 1.5 times the energy as high density housing -- on a per capita basis. But on a square foot basis, the high density condo uses 1.25 times more energy.

The difference can be explained by the fact that dwelling units are smaller in the condo building.

Brick, windows, drywall, and structural concrete are the top four materials in terms of embodied energy.

For building operations, low density housing uses 1.8 times the energy as high density housing on a per capita basis. On a square foot basis, the high density condo uses about the same amount of energy.

For transportation impacts, low density housing uses 3.8 times the energy as high density housing on a per capita basis. On a square foot basis, low density housing uses 2 times times more energy.

When all the energy requirements are totaled up, low density housing uses 2 times the energy as high density housing on a per capita basis. On a square foot basis, low density housing uses about 14% more energy (the researchers round that off and say low and high density housing use about the same amount of energy on a square foot basis).

For greenhouse gas emissions, low density housing emits 2.5 times the GHG as high density housing on a per capita basis. On a square foot basis, low density housing emits 1.5 times times more GHG.

The study concludes:

Broadly speaking, this study shows that urban form and density considerations should be given a brighter spotlight within the overall energy conservation and climate change policy debate. The results clearly suggest that climate- and energy-oriented urban planning should give priority to policies that reduce automotive transportation in suburban settings (such as mixed-use policies reducing required travel distances), reduce operational energy associated with high-density high rise development (such as district heating/cooling projects), increase public transit use, and shift land use to higher density development closer to a city’s core employment areas. Furthermore, a shift to alternative fuels and renewable energy sources can assist in reducing transportation and operational energy use and GHG emissions associated with residential development.

In addition, it would be useful to model housing types that are more energy efficient than glass and concrete high rises. We need to see energy analyses of rowhouses and low- and midrise multifamily buildings, especially those that use green materials and systems.

Thanks Laurence! I expected the difference would be larger. Double is a lot (and ~4 times for transportation) but I was expecting 10 times or so.

I will keep an eye out for more studies. I would also like to know more about the 3-4 story brick buildings that make up most of the main streets here in the midwest. It is hard to know if they were built because it was efficient to build and heat them, or they are dense and so it is easy to walk.

I wonder if brick construction didn't come about because it is high energy in one central location (the kiln) but very low energy at the widely distributed construction sites. No cranes (for steel) or concrete pumping trucks either.

Jon Freise
Analyze Not Fantasize -D. Meadows

I expected the difference would be larger. Double is a lot (and ~4 times for transportation) but I was expecting 10 times or so

Both buildings were designed in times of cheap energy. And suburban Toronto is not the worst case of Suburbia.

And I think low rises (3-4 stories) are generally more energy efficient that mid-rises (isolated from density issues). It much more cost effective to hyper-insulate an apartment/condo than a SFR (less surface area/sq ft living area and fewer sq ft/person in multi-family).

A number of brick kilns have located next to landfills and use mainly low quality landfill gas for firing. The alternative use is to run diesel generators with landfill gas (lower efficiency than other, large scale means of generating electricity). Thus brick energy value might be adjusted.

Bricks also store quite well, and production is often seasonal if they do use natural gas.

I think that we will see solar assisted brick firing soon. Use solar to "preheat" and then go for required heat with minimal gas (landfill or natural).

Best Hopes for Energy Efficiency,


There is an article on the front page of the Galveston Daily News this morning examining low rise vs. high rise development www.galvnews.com Bob Ebersole

Chinese Cyberwar Alert! U.S. Air Force Cyberspace Command

"Q: Why was the Air Force Cyberspace Command established, and where does it stand today?

A: The Air Force Cyberspace Command is an operational level command that was established to provide combat-ready cyber forces trained and equipped to conduct sustained offensive and defensive operations through the electromagnetic spectrum. The Cyberspace Command will leverage, consolidate, and integrate unique Air Force capabilities and functions, including command and control, electronic warfare, network warfare, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance."






We may need cyber body armor just to be out here.

Russia Back on the Military Stage

The carefully staged pictures of the president stripped to the waist and striking various manly poses on vacation in Siberia last week are not the only Russian muscle-flexing that has been going on in recent months.


The US Air Force has been looking for a niche since their daylight strategic bombing campaign of WW2 proved incapable of halting Nazi wartime production of war materials. In fact, Nazi production of war materials was higher at the end of WW2 than it was at the beginning of that conflict, after many hundreds of bomber crews and aircraft had been sacraficed. My father was among these bomber crews. The AF has been kicking dirt on this failure in a furious manner since the end of WW2 and military aircraft manufacturers have been helping them. Now the 8th AF is morphing into a 'cyber warfare' outfit. Good luck to them in outsmarting the Chinese in this field of endeavor. I believe that the AF should stick to the two things that it has proven that it can do successfully. 1) Drop nuclear weapons from aircraft or by ICBMs. 2) Firebomb civilian centers, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians in the resulting firestorms (another action not proven to shorten wars). Rumsfeld was simply another in a long line of fools that thought that high tech was the solution to fighting and winning wars. In Iraq, as in Viet Nam, Korea and WW2, we are seeing that to win a conflict and stabilize a country a vast number of 'boots on the ground' (artillery, armor, infantry, intelligence) are required, as has always been the case. A bunch of geeks sitting behind computers will never occupy and subdue a country, especially where the goal is to steal natural resources. Of course, selling all this high tech stuff can be very profitable and few of the public know enough about the subject to cry 'gold hammer' or '$800 toilet seat.'

Wow, River:
Sounds like you're packin' some serious baggage there, about the Blue Suiters.

I think you're neglecting what the AF used to call the High Frontier. That's where the money goes and that's where the US intel edge comes from, although the means and mechanisms aren't for public view.

I could go on about how the contractors were required to distribute their R&D costs across all their hardware delliveries, how that "$800 toilet seat" was actually a toilet shroud (like in an RV), and how when it finally went out for competitive bid, nobody could beat the original price. But I wouldn't want to pee on your campfire when such a good ole tale is being spun.

I put in fifteen years as a worker bee for government contractors. The widely accepted heirarchy of competence goes as follows: The Air Force and agency guys are the smartest, and some of them are the best. It's a big step down to the Navy guys, who are still a lot smarter than the Army knuckleheads. But NASA takes the cake for bureaucrats, boobs, and buffoons. I'll take the AF customers any day, thank you.

Apologies to youse guys in KSC and Houston; mostly I dealt with the Huntsville boys.

There is some truth in what you have to say about the general competence of the services except that you may have confused what is going on with the Navy. In past dealings I have found Navy types to be much less by the book than the Air Force, but at least as effective in getting things done.

Also, the $800 coffee pot had a lot more to do with building one coffee pot to spec and then consistently applying indirect costs over appropriate direct costs (as required by Government regulations) than it does with black programs. Some of these indirect costs are R&D, but most are just normal supervision, fringes and occupancy costs.

[edited to delete reference to NASA]

Yes, the AF and the rest of our intel agencies do such a wonderfull job...They spend tons of money ($60 billion per yr?) spread over...what?...16 different agencies now? ...And they did not even know that the CCCP was on the verge of collapse on the day the Russkies went in the can? These are the same folks that brought us the 'bomber gap' and the 'missle gap.' Yup, they are doin' a hell of a job! What about the 9-11 intel? 'US intel edge???' You must be out of your mind! Is the pre invasion intel on Iraq an example of our 'intel edge'? Shrub put that AF general that reminds me of 'poppin' fresh', the Pillsbury Doughboy, in charge of the CIA and last time I saw him he was still wearing his little blue uniform to work. Perhaps someone should tell him that he is in charge of a spy agency and should dress like a spy? You know, a trench coat? Dark glasses? Anything else will do! How convenient that the 'means and mechinisims' for the AF intel program are not for public view. As long as the items being procured are not visible to the public no one can question the $s spent on them. Once the US had a decent human intel group but it was not a money maker, so it was replaced with those wonderfull 'high frontier satellites'...sometimes known as 'high dollar satellites' and now we have zippo for humint. Oh sure, we can probably monitor every phone call sent by every soccer mom on earth. Lot of good that does. If the wheat cannot be sorted from the chaff, its worthless. I too could go on... :)


Of course 'nobody could beat the original price.' That is the way the contractors play the game. Once the toilet seat became a public and political football no other contractor was going to go public with an admission that the damn thing could have been made for far less $. It is more than a 'good ol tale' and it is not spun...It happens to be the truth and if you were there feeding at the trough you know it.

As for rating procurement idiots in various branches of service...who cares? I worked around DC a long time and found most of them to be worthless bureaucrats. The bureaucrats that try to do the right thing; i.e., save the taxpayers some money, are soon gone from their posts. Saving money is not what the pentagon and industrial military suppliers are about.

You're assuming that because the Air Force priesthood is smart, it's not evil. Remember when everyone still thought the Neocons were smart? What, 24 months ago?

The $800 toilet seat was a very small part of River's post. You never addressed the charge of mass murder. The issue he's hitting is the satanic cult of bomberism, supported by your tax dollars. A very smart guy might be able to build a cushy career selling a lie. Priesthoods were probably the smartest guys on average in ancient societies, and they sold a lot of lies.

The Air Force's intel in Iraq proved as useless as its violence because the religion requires certain prejudices towards non-American humans. In order to claim the right to punish the world, we must imply we're more human than the people we bomb. If Arabs are subhumans, then they (a) are darkies who want to be like us or (b) are animals who must be eliminated. Exactly the same slave/animal bifurcation characterizing white attitudes to African Americans. It's okay to bomb (a) because the goodies they will earn under US domination will make them love us, and it's okay to bomb (b) because they're animals. Subhumans are always assumed to lack true courage and sustained determination, but only are capable of short bursts of animal fury. So if we bomb them every day, we will break their will forever.

Can you deny that all these attitudes made the massive bombing of Vietnam seem reasonable? Arabs, Orientals, blacks. It's stupid because it does not reflect how these humans will really react in the face of our violence, but it's very smart if the only goal is to manipulate the racism of US taxpayers for a steady stream of imperial pork. Yeah, the USAF has been very good at that High Frontier.

Check out the documentary "The Fog of War" where Robert McNamara talks frankly about his relationship with Curtis LeMay during the terror bombing of Japan - as he names Japanese cities they destroyed, a graphic matches them up with American cities of comparable size: "70% destroyed, 85% destroyed". Then he says that LeMay admitted that if they had lost the war, they would indeed have been prosecuted as war criminals.

"Remember when everyone still thought the Neocons were smart?" LOL Right! I must have missed it. ROFLMAO!

I worked in Huntsville for 5 years with a company that did work for the US Government and others. Nelsone, did you live there, or just work with them?

While building the Space Station, EVA bolts, those things that might have to be taken out for replacement of parts on the station, were coated in Silver. Silver though will Oxidize in the Orbit that the Station is at, because of Free Oxygen. The best fix for this is to coat the Bolts in Gold. When thinking about telling the Press about this "We have a Gold plated Space Station" kept ringing in the ears of the folks at NASA so they decided to use something else besides Gold. The next best thing is a dry film of Moly-disulfide. All in all, the Gold would have been cheaper to have been used. But Imagine the Press and the Tax payers not understanding and thinking forever that they had a GOLD Plated Space Station....

My Brother worked as a Designer for parts of the Space Station. And now is on the team working on Orion, The CLV that will replace the Shuttle.

NASA is just another place where cost overruns can happen but not for the reasons that everyone thinks are the real reasons.

Sorry, CEO, really, it's just an old saw that I was repeating. The old white men in grey suits that I "worked" with at NASA never made anything more than viewgraphs in their careers, which maybe was for the best.

But good god, you'd think the Air Force gave the orders, reading these posts. They have no choice but to "salute smartly and charge up the hill," as Ollie North said. The strategy of mass murder didn't come from them, only the tactics needed to meet their orders.

As far as not getting the intel right pre-9/11, yes, exactly, spot on. You'd have to be either be a blind, deaf, incompetent bunch of morons to have allowed such an intricate sequence of devastating security failures to occur, or...?

Now Picture this...The carefully staged pictures of the president stripped to the waist and striking various manly poses on vacation in Crawford, TX last week... Too Funny :)

Perhaps cutting brush while topless...lol...

Hopefully cutting poison ivy with a weed whacker while topless.

If shrub is in hospital recovering from poison ivy will vader have control of the country again?

On second thought...

Want to see something really scary?

And just for clarity....

That is some of the most grotesque photoshopping I've ever seen. Nice!

LOL! Maybe that's Jenna in 20 years if she continues her partying ways.

How about Bush versus Putin, both shirtless, with weed whackers equipped with titanium wire? It's about time our warmongerers put their own hides on the line. I'd put my money on the KGB veteran, though.

A two tribes fight redux music video?


How about carefully staged pictures of Cid Yama trying to get his head out of his ass. Too Funny - it will never happen. (Getting his head out, that is).

Ooooooh I must have offended a lurking neocon - I'm just shaking in my boots (I suppose I should be careful. They might sic the U.S. Air Force Cyberspace Command on me.) ;)

Cid, not to worry. We will be first on our block to get a free trip to one of the new detention centers. This means we will get first choice of accomodations... :)

Since the polops removed from shrubs ass reportedly resembeled the faces of Vader, Condi, Rummy, Rove and Scooter I now believe all is possible. I have heard that there is a book in publication linking polops to creation baloney...er...science. Already a screen play has been written and a movie is in the works entitled 'A Great Man and the Polops Behind Him.' A reward is being offered to the person that submits the best final title...I set 'em up, you knock 'em down... :)

Nearly 600 volunteers stripped before the camera on a melting Swiss glacier high in the Alps on Saturday as part of a publicity campaign to expose the impact of climate change.

Global climate change porn is the best kind of porn.


Norwegian ecoporn


Leanan, could you make the above disappear? I'm sure Alan would like to take it back if he could(especially since he is running for President).

If he wanted to take it back, he could have. At least until you replied to it. ;-)

I like the site, I think its self-description as art pretty well covers the reason for it. The fact is that sex sells, and its in all of our advertising. So if you want to publicise a fund to help save the rain forest, then this is a pretty good idea. Its certainly fummy.
Bob Ebersole

I like the site, I think its self-description as art pretty well covers the reason for it. The fact is that sex sells, and its in all of our advertising. So if you want to publicise a fund to help save the rain forest, then this is a pretty good idea. Its certainly funny.
Bob Ebersole

As a tree chauvinist, I think it's a lot less obscene than a biodiesel plantation...

Errol in Miami

Remember the Ice Age man who melted out of a Swiss glacier a while back? http://www.crystalinks.com/oetzi.html Frozen Fritz suggests the climate cycles are not entirely new, though perhaps the scale of things is different now.

Re: Conservationists Cannot Escape the Laws of Energy

Warren Brown's comment at the Washington Post is just another example of how little most folks (including those who work in the MSM), understand about energy.

Strangely, he tries to equate the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics with religion. The fact that all energy flows downhill, so to speak, and can only be used once is not a religion. It's a statement of the facts of physics. The difference between science and religion is that science does not accept the supernatural. The so-called Laws of Physics are not subject to repeal by some unseen (presumably external) actor, as far as the scientists have been able to determine. That statement is based on careful study and measurements, not faith. Of course, the whole ball of wax could be a great game of Sim Universe being played in some other dimension, but so far, there is no indication of that that I'm aware of.

Brown concludes:

Does this mean we should do nothing about energy conservation? Of course, it doesn't. Movement is a requirement of life. Movement requires energy. No movement, no life. No energy, no movement. The world as we know it stops and becomes something else.

Energy conservation, in that light, is nothing more than an attempt to delay and manage the inevitable. It requires intelligence. It demands compromise. You can even argue that, to do it properly and fairly, it requires a certain amount of love. Essentially, it is an act of faith in something better.

The fact that all of civilization runs on solar energy (all our food comes from sunlight) and that we can also use renewable solar energy sources to supply some of our present energy needs instead of fossil fuels is NOT AN ACT OF FAITH. It's a statement of scientific fact.

E. Swanson

B_D, you are absolutely correct. But, the objective of Warren Brown and his ilk is to blur the line between sience and religion. In this particular case it is easy to look at the source of the publication and recognize the agenda. I could have predicted the nature of the drivel prior to reading the article...

Yawn to the Brown article. IMO, the WaPo is excellent on news and analysis, and out to lunch with it's opinions page. Boring stuff frankly, but hey if it gets people talking...

Yeah, those last two sentences are particularly woolly-headed. No surprise coming from Brown, who has previously argued that small cars should be outlawed because they're supposedly unsafe. Or his claim that

For example, current nickel-metal hydride battery gas-electric cars supposedly have a useful battery life of eight years. In the prime of their useful lives, they save gasoline in urban traffic where their electric power systems carry most of the workload. But when their batteries die, when they become entropic, the cars are practically useless until the dead batteries can be replaced. And those dead batteries have to be buried somewhere.

No one buries dead batteries - they recycle them at a significant energy savings over new production. This is just more of the Iron Triangle's propaganda war on hybrids.

I really wondered about that.

Brown's article really seemed to me to be a bunch of unsubstantiated -- and perhaps very wrong -- opinion.

What concerns me also is that he kind of "blesses" his discussions with these auto engineers with a dose of religiosity that appeals to many people, right along with a dose of technobabble.

This combination gets at people in a way which sets attitudes and beliefs while bypassing rigourous analysis of facts and hypotheses.

I find that plenty of times we baptise our own "exemptionalism" (E.O. Wilson's term) or "Exceptionalism" in religious or technomagical superstition. Maybe it makes us feel better and more certain of ourselves.

The problem is that misinformation can be made to really stick at a non-rational level. Much of this mis-information sets us up to do more damage than ever even while we feel better about ourselves.

What a species, eh?

Greetings From Idiot America.

I'd wager most of us who read this forum fancy ourselves skeptics, or even "scientists," and would cheer Pierce's article (I know I did).

But get this: peak oil is not even granted the decency of "balance" in the media as hoaxes such as Intelligent Design are. The Pierces, Dawkinses, Shermers of the world ignore us.

Peak Oil is just too beyond the pale. It's apparently too much for everyone--skeptics and believers alike--to point out to them that you can't have unlimited growth against a finite resource base. It's more interesting to argue about whether or not humankind saddled up dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden.

In recorded history humans have not had to face a cataclysm like PO so it is easy to be in denial about the subject. The nearest to such a disaster as PO was probably the Black Death that swept Europe during the dark ages, but that event did not have such a long lead time in which to consider actions and consequences and it was not abstract but an 'in your face' event. IMO, most humans will remain in denial about PO untill it overwhelms them.

River, most likely yes. I have had exactly 3 successes in the last 3 years as far as getting the message out. And I'm not sure if I should count 1 of them as he is a religious survivalist.

And believe me it's not for a lack of trying...

I have much higher success rates. Perhaps living in disaster zones strips away pretense and denial. Or being close to the Oil & Gas industry. Or ... ?

Two friends have promised to pay their way to ASPO-Houston, others ask questions about developments as time goes on, etc.

Several tankless hot water heaters bought, more insulation, veggie gardens, Energy Star appliances, two Honda Civic Hybrids, one old M-B diesel and a couple of scooters & bicycles so far as well.

In general, they hope Robert is right and we are in Peak Lite. I also HOPE that is true, but may not be.

Worst Hopes for Denial,


"I have much higher success rates. Perhaps living in disaster zones strips away pretense and denial. Or being close to the Oil & Gas industry. Or ... ?"

Agreed proximity (time or place) to real disaster should lower the trigger threshold of one's awareness of future potential for disaster.

Any other obvious point, graph, argument, bottom of the line statement, or otherwise clear turning point that triggered a conversion?

(for those looking to move a few legislative bodies at the one key legislator at a time mode.)

Any other obvious point, graph, argument, bottom of the line statement, or otherwise clear turning point that triggered a conversion ?

A good key phrase for opening discussion is "I think we have seen just the first breezes of a coming oil price storm". I then quote the President of Mexico about double digit declines in Cantarell (60% of their oil in 2004), UK is now break even and soon an importer, Norway also down, Iran imposing gas rationing, Russian production up but exports flat. I also mention that Angola is one of two bright spots in the world, and there are 400,000 Chinese there busy building roads, airports, hospitals, etc.

The kicker is when I mention Stuart's analysis of Saudi and that it appears that 40% of KSA production in 2004 is close to watering out.

I almost always do not say "Peak Oil" till the second conversation. Do NOT "jump to the conclusion" but bring them along the same general logic train. A to B to C. Be natural and do not force feed info. Develop interest and "wait till next time".

Better a hook (first breezes ...) and nothing more and then more later when they have time to digest and more problems develop. Every person is an individual. Feed enough but not too much to trigger rejection. Be sensitive to their interest & tolerance. Talk solutions as well.

With law makers, I would suggest a hook (first breezes) and I have a PARTIAL solution (which is true) that will make it somewhat better/easier to adapt. Leave off the full impact till later.

Someone posted a quote (by Yeats ?) on the telephone pole around the corner "And time yet for a hundred indecisions
And a hundred visions and revisions".

I do not know if this is true, (I fear not) but if all I do is prepare ground for a future reaction that works, rather than preparing ahead of time, so be it.

Hopes this helps,


Thanks, Alan. Appreciate you taking time for the suggestions. I also don't use peak oil in a first discussion, and also know each approach is individualized.

Between my first and this post, said goodbye to neighbors (holiday's over), and breeched the subject; and the son (born ca 1947) said in 2 decades we'll have EVs and renewables and nuclear and we won' be changing much of how we live. The father (born ca.1915, he's 90+), was much more reserved. Then he started talking to me about rail transit...

BTW, the quote is from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by TS Eliot. Ahhh..with google, one can always appear much more worldly and smarter than one is :)

I hope my friend Jason is listening.

Good to know the source of the quote. Better to live in a nieghborhood where such appears on telephone poles.

Best Hopes,


Iran is gas rationing

now that one I wouldn't use, someone will call you out and tell you that it is because they like any refining capacity and has nothing to do with their 200 billion barrels of oil.

No i would nominate the tamboria(spelling?) caldera super eruption the reduced our numbers to a few thousand and is responsible for the near genetic uniformity in our species.

Thanks for the post, TK. I did not know that posters on this site were aware of Tambora (I think that is the correct sp) but hoped that some were. What I find amazing is that the Tambora eruption occured a mere 75-85,000 years ago yet humans have diversified so much in such a short period of time. Then again, many anthropologists have said that it took only about 20,000 years for black populations migrating out of Africa to northern climes to lose their skin pigmintation and become white. There is more genetic diversity in a single troop of chimps than exists in all of humanity. That begs the questions: If we cannot get along now, with our close genetic bonds, can we ever learn to get along? Do we have the mental capacity and the will to become less competitive and war like? I have considered these questions and more for a long time and have come to no conclusions. One of the problems is age differences...Youth is afflicted with raging hormones and a lack of life experience, thus wisdom. Another problem is the differences in IQ between the sheep and the sheared. Lots to ponder. Perhaps there are only choices...and no answers.

Interesting comment about genetic diversity. Perhaps aspects of human culture didn't or don't require as much genetic diversity as chimps. As tool users, I can see how we adapt with tools externally rather than physically.

That said, what proportion of overall DNA relates to intelligence and mental structure and diversity? Also, there are aspects of all creatures that respond to the living conditions of forebears regardless of DNA. The whole business of understanding this is still in its infancy, so reaching any hard conclusions is difficult.

Your question is at the heart of whether in an emergency you look for a group to protect you or head for the hills alone. The majority have usually banded together in order to be in the surviving group, but in a plague that can be a poor choice except that the survivors will pass on resistance.

There's still a lot of oil to burn before this one's over. Fossil fuels may just go out of fashion as we fashion better tools.

Also, there are aspects of all creatures that respond to the living conditions of forebears regardless of DNA. The whole business of understanding this is still in its infancy, so reaching any hard conclusions is difficult.

Ghost in the Genes story, e.g., from BBC last year. http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/tvradio/programmes/horizon/ghostgenes.shtml

Not regardless of, but in addition to, DNA. Imprinting is passed-down regulation of certain genes. Like great-Grandma's stress response to the famine. And I always thought I was a worry wart for other reasons.

The more we know, the more we should walk and talk softly.

River, Tambora is not the volcano you're referencing. It is Lake Toba, also in Indonesia [Sumatra}. Tambora, on the island of Sumbawa, blew up in 1815, and while it's effect caused the biggest famine of the 19th century, it was nowhere near the size of Toba.
James Gervais

Of course if the Yellowstone Cauldera erupts tomorrow, then Peak Oil suddenly is no longer a problem.....

Thanks ImSceptical, you are correct. It is believed that Toba was the biggie that caused the die off of most humans about 80,000 years ago. It was the great die off of that time, reducing the total population of humans on earth to less than 10,000 persons, and maybe much less, that caused the lack of genetic deversity that we have today.


Next time you choose a handle for a blog, please choose one that's easier to copy!

Thats a great article, greetings from idiot america. He's nailed the phenomenon, that most people are willfully stupid. It's not that people can't see the obvious about peak oil, that if you use anything it eventually runs out, but rather that they choose purposely to ignore the truth.

Its a type of infantile magical thinking, and it might be fostered by television. After all, if you don't like a program, all you have to do is point the infrared channel changer and click, its gone. And thats how the American public seems to be leading their lives.
Bob Ebersole

I do regret my "handle" now. It's just my last name with the "E"s turned into "3"s. But now it's set in stone.

Mike "Bendzela"

I think his name is in one of the new Cyber-Scribe-Languages, I am not sure which one though, better ask him Bob.

Upon further reading of the article I do see the author's point. I don't try to point to my Faith as a way to make the world work better as a World. It is something only for me. It helps me live my life better, and helps me be a better person while I am around here interacting with others.

I have always seen the term "faith based" as another False Prophet saying. I can't convince anyone that my faith will save them, it is my faith not theirs. My actions speak louder than my words anyway.

"A Wise man knows he knows nothing. A Fool thinks he knows everything." My own Quote.

I used to Pray to be wise, Now I understand Wisdom is not all it is cracked up to be.

I have seen the sea change in the last few decades and know that a lot of people are going to lose their Faith, because they have been listening to the wrong message. Peak Oil and Climate Chaos and all the other things that are going to cause vast amounts of changes in our world are going to shake the very foundations of our Global Civilization. It will be scary for a lot of people who call themselves Christians.

Just another fact of life I have learned to understand is coming our way.

Bob, you are correct regarding infantile thinking. I have seen 16 year old guys who were raised by TV cartoons and wear a Scooby Do backpack to high school! And of course the high school girls are wearing Tinker Bell backpacks. As I see it, advertisers encourage unquestioning IDs as ideal consumers.

There is a branch of hip-hop that celebrates stoooopid. I guess it's "pride" and "diversity" on crack. Sorta like American foreign policy philosophy: you don't have to be smart if you're ruthlessly violent.

Errol in Miami

just distraction. The MSM is not about any kind of intelligent debate -- it's just about selling papers. Peak oil doesn't sell (yet.)

As a Christian I have been warned about guys like Mr. Ham, who spread themselves out to the public and get my label of False Prophet.

I have my own belief of why we have a record of a 4 Billion year old earth, If you want it, e.mail me.

When anyone tries to do what Mr. Ham is doing he creates more issues than he solves.

My faith in Christ does not make me discount the facts that humans have caused their own environment to wreck havoc on the things that they have built or will build. I fully trust that we are killing ourselves slowly but surely with Climate Chaos and Peak Oil.

Take Mr. Ham for what he is and don't start labeling me with the same text you would use for him, just because he calls himself a Christian.

Using the earth for what it is does not mean abusing that gift. That is one reason I hate the laws that make me mow my lawn, they are just another waste of resources and misunderstanding of how to live in harmony with the rest of nature.

Ps. I don't think GOD will save us from Peak Oil, Christ came to save our Souls, not give us a duty free world.
Be kind to one another works best, but it is still hard work for most people, they have to fight their own natural need to claw for what they think is their birthright.

Michael Shermer's Skeptic Magazine sponsored an annual conference "Environmental Wars" in 2006. One of the featured speakers was Dr. David Goodstein, author of "Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil".


Why drag Dawkins into this? His crusade is against religious superstition and anti-science attitudes. His expertise is not in fossil fuels, energy management, oil geology, etc. He definitely would agree that facts and logic (scientific reasoning versus faith) should dictate our stance towards all phenomena, including peak fossil fuels and environmental matters.

That said, you're correct that there is not enough attention paid to "peak" issues in many sectors of our society.

Today's headlines in the Local paper, an unused Nuclear plant long ago used for testing.

So how many of them are out there, already planted in the ground, just no one is getting power from them. How many old Nuclear plants can we get out of mothballs and revamp to use again for the energy they can produce?

At least the Nimbys might not be able to say they don't want "one of them things" in their backyards, because it has been there all along.


Just a thought.

An interesting old test reactor that has apparently not been dismantled entirely. I wonder why and just who has that liability.

That old plant will never produce a kilowatt, but the site might be useful for another all new reactor.

Everyone agrees that almost all new USA nukes will be on sites approved in the 1950s to 1970s, usually with reactors already operating. Sites with decommissioned reactors and canceled partially completed reactors (dozens of these) will also see new nukes.

AFAIK, Amarillo is the only new site, new nuke "in the queue" ATM. All the rest are going onto old sites.

An interesting quote from the article

According to a 2003 report by the Congressional Budget Office, the risk of default on construction loans would exceed 50 percent because high construction costs would make it difficult to operate the plant and make a profit and because the technology planned in the new facilities is relatively untested


For you "electric assist" bicycle fans:

The Insane-a-cycle :)

From the video clips, it appears the rider doesn't even pretend to pedal. This appears to be an electric motorbike built on a bicycle chassis. If it is really as fast as presented, then in my area (British Columbia) it would have to be licensed as a motorcycle.

it appears the rider doesn't even pretend to pedal.

Hence the quotation marks. Yes, something that fast would need to be classified and tagged as a motorcycle in the US. Neat, though.

Thanks, that wss fun!

"The E.U.'s Wind Power Self-Deception"

For quite a long time I haven't read such a bunch of nonsense. The author is repeating old errors and didn't bother to research orderly.

Denmark, Ireland abandoning wind energy? Ridiculous. Mr Booker obviously never was there. There are some problems with off shore wind, but these come from on shore turbines which are being replaced right at this time.
On the german peninsula Fehmarn large numbers of first generation wind turbines were replaced by new ones. Two third the number of previously existing turbines now generate more than double as much electricity. That's why off shore wind is having difficulties to compete (and there are more reasons, such as the widespread NIMBYism on german coasts.)

Germany already surpassed its wind energy targets easily. Obstacles to expanding wind energy mainly are in the grid, where there is an ongoing battle between the big four energy companies and the German state. But these issues will be solved.

And the cream of the crop: the Europe-wide power outage last year. Mr Booker might be the last person on this planet who still believes the tall tale of wind turbines having caused this interruption.

Even the CEO of German energy company E.on, who at first frivolously blamed the 'intermittent' wind energy, had to admit publicly some days later he had shot in his own foot.
Everybody hurrying ahead with such insights has become pretty silent in 2006. But not Mr Booker. And to add insult to injury he made a book out of all this...

Wind energy is undergoing huge growth worldwide. The new turbines have superior electrical controls and the capacity of new machines is rated up to 5MW and they are likely to go beyond that in the future. The turbines only use a few % of total land area, and normal farming can be carried out around them. The only possible problem is high wind speeds causing a large wind farm to shut down, but as mentioned before the technology is improving performance under high wind speeds. Winds price is garantueed for the life as the turbine as there is minimal costs for the running of the site.

Loved the electric bike but could be a bit powerful.
Electric recumbents (trike?) are the way to go lower drag and less pressure on sore backs.

New nukes on old nuke sites seems a logical plan but may be issues with it as mentioned. Nuclear CHP is a locical solution but good luck building them in built up areas.


I don't think God made the earth, not just because of the overwhelming scientific evidence, but most of all its becuase of those barbed fish that swim up inside uretha when someone pee's under water!!


You have no idea how much you've just made my day.

No idea!

Well, if He did, then it's definitely the Angry and Vengeful Old Testament god.. youch!

From the article about Iran, up top, "Sacked Iran minister warns of energy 'catastrophe'"

"If we do not find a solution to the energy problem in the next 15 years, the country will face a catastrophe," Kazem Vaziri Hamaneh was quoted as saying at his farewell ceremony late on Saturday by the ISNA student news agency.

If we extrapolate the production decline (-2%) and consumption increase (+5%) that Iran demonstrated, from 2005 to 2006, the former Iranian oil minister is correct, Iran--the world's fourth largest net exporter last year--will be a net importer in less than 15 years, a long term decline rate of more than 20% per year in net exports.

However, the Export Land Model (ELM) indicates that the decline rate in net exports accelerates with time, about 15% per year for the first half of the decline and about 45% per year for the second half of the decline (for my hypothetical country).


Scientists hail ‘frozen smoke’ as material that will change world

Earlier this year Bob Stoker, 66, from Nottingham, became the first Briton to have his property insulated with aerogel. “The heating has improved significantly. I turned the thermostat down five degrees. It’s been a remarkable transformation,” he said.

Researchers believe that some versions of aerogel which are made from platinum can be used to speed up the production of hydrogen. As a result, aerogel can be used to make hydrogen-based fuels.

Sounds excellent. Anyone got info on costs and mass production lead-times?

Just to temper the enthusiasm, it will only really make a difference if the production costs allow it to substitute for older methods of insulation/protection etc. Otherwise it'll be like carbonfibre on bikes - great for the top-end but no practical difference for the 95% of users. We've had carbonfibre for 20 years and most bikes are still TIG-welded alu or butted steel.

Re: When food makes fuel

I came across an interesting paper that may have been referenced before on TOD.

The link is http://www.nativegrassenergy.org/
click on U. Minn. Economic Feasibility Report,
Energy and chemicals from native grasses

Sorry, could not get the direct link to the study.

This study talks about different uses for native grass in the production of energy in the form of bio-oil, dry grass mixed with coal in electrical generation and as a stand alone fuel for electricy generation.

Several key points:

The bio-oil does offer some promise but it sounds as though only as a possible replacement for heavy distillates, unless further refinement can make this fuel usable for more applications.

The study considers the feasibility of harvesting native grass (warm season, C-4) in a 50 mile radius and the costs associated with production and transportation.

Land currently enrolled in CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) is considered, this is erodible land not currently producing grains and receiving yearly government payments.

A bi-annual harvest was thought to be optimum for soil building, carbon sequestration and wildlife value.

Earnings from the sale of dryed native grass could offset or eliminate CRP payments while maintaining and building soil fertility, the production and transportation costs are estimated to be about $50.00 per ton.

(My take) At $50 per ton and 15.5 million btu's per ton there is a good possibility of pelletized native grass being used as a heating fuel, this is a bit over $3 per million btu's, much less than the cost of natural gas, this resource is readily available and sidesteps the "food as fuel debate".

The idea of using native grasses to burn directly as a source of energy has been around a while. There was an interesting study in SCIENCE last year. Here's a comment from the NSF:


Here's a link to Tilman's paper referenced in the NSF press release.
Science 8 December 2006:
Vol. 314. no. 5805, pp. 1598 - 1600
DOI: 10.1126/science.1133306

Carbon-Negative Biofuels from Low-Input High-Diversity Grassland Biomass
D. Tilman, J. Hill, C. Lehman

Biofuels derived from low-input high-diversity (LIHD) mixtures of native grassland perennials can provide more usable energy, greater greenhouse gas reductions, and less agrichemical pollution per hectare than can corn grain ethanol or soybean biodiesel. High-diversity grasslands had increasingly higher bioenergy yields that were 238% greater than monoculture yields after a decade. LIHD biofuels are carbon negative because net ecosystem carbon dioxide sequestration (4.4 megagram hectare–1 year–1 of carbon dioxide in soil and roots) exceeds fossil carbon dioxide release during biofuel production (0.32 megagram hectare–1 year–1). Moreover, LIHD biofuels can be produced on agriculturally degraded lands and thus need to neither displace food production nor cause loss of biodiversity via habitat destruction.

I think Tilman's point is that the EROEI from mixed native grasses is much greater than other biofuel options, since the crop is not cultivated like row crops and does not require as much fossil fuel input. Lets make hay while the sun shines...

E. Swanson

"The idea of using native grasses to burn directly as a source of energy has been around a while."

And is arrant insanity. The way native grasses work is that when they die, their biomass goes back into the "matrix". That's the only way it works. The notion that you can burn "native grasses" for sustainable energy is idiocy.

Actually when the native grasses reach dormancy in the fall much of the plant energy leaves the plant and goes down into the root system, the harvest every other year of this plant material is ideally the following spring when ash content is lowest. A two year rotation would allow for an increase of organic matter in the soil.

If you read the Tilman study referenced above, the above ground plant material from the multi-species plots was removed every year and each following year the biomass increased. I know this sounds hard to believe but I have a 15 year old restoration with a prairie species composition almost exactly like the top biomass producing plot in David Tilman's study and I have observed the same thing.

The prairie supported 60 to 70 million bison at one time and the remaining prairie remnants are still vibrant. Grazing, harvesting the prairie can go on indefinitely.

It sounds very hard to believe indeed, and I'll have to do some reading - thanks for not being too put off by my rant :-/ OTOH, I am an ecologist.

There are differences, however, between what bison do with that biomass, and what burning does. Including, prominently bison-do. I.e., it all stays in the ecosystem. So it's not quite fair to equate grazing with "harvesting". Carting it off and burning it is not equivalent to bison grazing.

Any biofuel plan requires removal of the plant material and it's conversion to some other more useful form of energy. I think that the necessary nutrients should be returned to the land for maximum production. However, we have lands near where I live that are regularly cut every year for hay and there is no attempt to fertilize. The production would be higher if there were application of fertilizer, but that takes money and increases the energy input.

Tilman notes:

Plots were unfertilized, irrigated only during establishment, and otherwise grown with low inputs....some amount of N fertilization may be useful in dry habitats that lack efficient N-fixing species. Application of P or other nutrients may be needed if initially limiting or to replace nutrient exports.

They ran the experiment for 10 years. They estimate that the same process could be continued for 100 years. I suggest you should read the report to get the details.

E. Swanson

This is the beauty of the prairie "matrix". When I did my 1993 restoration I used 6 different prairie grasses, 5 warm season and 1 cool season along with about a dozen forbs (wildflowers) including white and purple prairie clover and leadplant, these nitrogen fixers are most apparent where the soil is the least fertile. The interspecies relationship in the tallgrass prairie is really something to observe and it seems with some sensible management the grassland could provide a modest energy source.

Over the years about another dozen or so wildflowers have taken up residence in my restored prairie including "wood lily" and "small white lady's slipper".

This report is from a fairly high rainfall area of CRP, esp when compared to CRP in the rest of the nation-see fig 2 of report. This caveat should be front and center when extrapolating from it.

Also, those are costs listed. Not many of us like working for free.

The costs of transport have the authors suggest a max 50 miles to the plant.

The other big thing is a caution the authors give. They didn't even look at the land. They realize much may be bunk as CRP land may be too rocky, hilly or bumpy to allow mechanical harvest.

The biggest eye opener in the study to me was their graph that showed 85% of the study area CRP contracts will expire in three years, but esp in 2007. I had little idea the rollover was so close for so much land, at least in the Dakotas and MN. With wheat pushing $6.50 to $7 this last week, that could change the dynamics, and the CRP enrollments, in a hurry.

The higher commodity price could take some land out of CRP, a lot of the acreage is held by retired farmers and they probably will stay in the program. Production costs have gone through the roof in the last few years with fuel, fertilizer and chemicals leading the list, I have to wonder if $6.50 wheat will pay the bills.

When retired farmers own the farmland, they are usually leasing the more productive parts to relatives or younger farmers and the CRP is leased to the government. Hard to predict how they will respond, but wheat prices today will more than pay the bills if a farm's yields were ok, even with production costs skyrocketing.

Travel thru a small town in wheat country today. The euphoria in the air is palpable after such a long spell of near gloom. I see the price proclaimed daily on a bank's marquee, like the temp might be in a more urban area. But behind it is the fear that these prices will collapse by next year, and it will be the same old ---. It's a year of relief, of sharpening pencils, and trying to best figure how to approach the next season.

I get two cuttings from my hay ranch every year.

However, the cows would be extremely unhappy if I turned their winter feed into fuel pellets for people's furnaces.

Maybe we don't need grass-fed beef any more?


The study I cited focused on CRP land, please keep grazing your cattle, this is sustainable agriculture.

My dad and I were discussing hand crank radios. And he pointed out that was what the hand cranking for the radios like those used in the wars of southeast asia. He was over there when I was 3 yrs old.

But the point is my dad and I wondered if a system could be set up to run our computer off the same capaciter system. My dad was trained in electronics in the Air Force, and thinks it'd be possible. What do you hobbists and degreed people think.

Bike riding to get your internet fix?

There are already people selling kits that do that.

Most of the customers appear to be parents who want to make their kids exercise more, so they make them peddle to power their Nintendos, computers, TV, etc.

And here I thought the peddling occurred when the kids sold Mom the line that anything but Nintendo/computer/TV was unutterably boooooorrring and uncool, while the electrical power was to be supplied by pedaling... ;)

The $100 laptop, coming soon to a developing country near you.


In addition -- for use at home and where power is not available -- the XO can be hand powered. It will come with at least two of three options: a crank, a pedal, or a pull-cord. It is also possible that children could have a second battery for group charging at school while they are using their laptop in class.

Sign of the times on the Bob Brinker radio show here in the US (Brinker has a good track record in calling stock market changes, and he is very Peak Oil aware).

In any case, this afternoon he warned everyone to pay attention to the FDIC limits on deposit insurance for US banks.

The Oil Patch Cheers On Hurricane Dean

Pretty f'd up in my opinion that anyone "cheers" for death and destruction.

Haha... Learsy stultifies himself whenever he sits down to slowly fire his rapidly depreciating synapses. I'm amazed whenever I read him. He just has to be a front for something, if not, he must have the dumbest singular take on the oil situation that I have ever read. Probably even surpassing butthole surfing fests like The Bottomless Well: The Twilight of Fuel, the Virtue of Waste in asinine pronouncements. I think I learned more from that "book" than all the Learsy articles I've read over the last year.

From the looks of it Learsy appears to serve a role as an unthinking apologist for Democrats (I guess in order to create balance)--and in that role he never misses a beat in caricaturing and wholly distorting the energy situation in order to sell his "the only problem with energy is that big oil is ripping you off!"

It's just the

"agghh they're gouging us" whiny lament we always hear, except he repackages it every few weeks...

I wonder if he checks the oil drum? He probably thinks tracking a storm is equivalent to cheering it on.

What are those things called in toy stores that you can hit and then they forcefully pop back up because they're weighted by a sand compartment on the bottom? Learsy is just like one of those things. Weighted inflatable non-sex (rings closely to "nonsense") dolls? There just has to be a short sweet term for these things. Ditto our culture, in fact.

I guess I waste my time with these comments because it's a virtue...

Not readin it that way. Went thru a bunch of his posts over at Huff, seems like stuff I see encouraged here but more tame.

The oil patch ain't the oil drum.

Nothing personal here, right? He lays (rightly or not) into the NYT.

...twice, three times and gone.

Please, lay into the NYT as much as you like--hell I'll even applaud Learsy for doing it (it's just too easy.)

I don't like Learsy because he plays down the idea of what he would probably call "the so-called peak oil theory" and at the same time plays way up his meme that oil corporations "could give you a good deal but they just won't."

He's a partisan cheerleader who doesn't offer any insight, just the usual false-flag, nothing-to-see-here, keep-on-trucking mantra like the rest. I personally think his articles are either ridiculously feigned fodder, or he is just a crackbrained simpleton. Take your pick.

Okay, but won't take a pick yet. I'll read more by him tomorrow to see where it takes me. Damn, tomorrow is today already. Read? Sleep? Read? ...

I liked the Non-sex/nonsense bounce back to you beat up doll comment. Reminds me of the webbles wobble but don't fall down toys, I am old enough to have had a few as a kid, or was it my younger brother's toys that I was trying to kill.

But big oil is cheating us! They should be giving it all away free, it is our birthright as americans to get things from everyone for free. .....sarcasic comment off....