DrumBeat: August 27, 2007

Energy futures rebound on refinery woes

The September gasoline contract led the way, reversing an early loss of more than a cent and gaining more than 5 cents on continued concerns about the impact of a mid-August fire at Chevron Corp.'s 330,000 barrel per day Pascagoula, Miss., refinery.

Trade media reports late last week said Chevron had canceled a 550,000-barrel Venezuelan crude order. The company has declined to verify that report, but did say, "we are working closely with our crude suppliers and expect some crude shipments may be canceled or rerouted to other refineries in our global network."

Forecast for solar power: Sunny

Solar power has long been the Mercedes-Benz of the renewable energy industry: sleek, quiet, low-maintenance.

Yet like a Mercedes, solar energy is universally adored but prohibitively expensive for most people. A 4-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system costs about $34,000 without government rebates or tax breaks.

As a result, solar power accounts for well under 1% of U.S. electricity generation. Other alternative energy sources, such as wind, biomass and geothermal, are far more widely deployed.

The outlook for solar, though, is getting much brighter. A few dozen companies say advances in technology will let them halve the price of solar-panel installations in as little as three years. By 2014, solar-system prices will be competitive with conventional electricity when energy savings are figured in, Deutsche Bank (DB) says. And that's without government incentives.

If that happens, solar panels would become common home and business appliances, says Brandon Owens of Cambridge Energy Research Associates.

The rise and fall of great space powers

This upsurge of interest may represent the anxieties of the moment more than any real move in this direction, of course, and as a practical matter can do little to alleviate the causes of those anxieties. The plans are too long range to do anything about the price of oil this year or the next, or if the peak oil theorists are correct, the big crunch due in the next decade. Helium-3 may not be a practical energy source for decades, if ever, and in either case, a great deal of work likely remains to be done both lowering the cost of space launch, and reducing the size and weight of the payloads needed to get a space-based infrastructure up and running. (See “Diversifying our planetary portfolio”, The Space Review, August 6, 2007) Still, if these or other such plans were realized they would mark the end of the time when space was just a critical node in terrestrial information flows, and the beginning of one in which space itself provides substantial, tangible, essential resources.

Raymond J. Learsy: The Iowa State Fair, America's Energy Future. Better Over a Bushel Than Over a Barrel

It is on the demand side of the equation where national leadership is lacking. Certainly one of the most effective and immediate ways to break our "oil addiction" is to legislate a cap on the nation's gasoline consumption and to fairly distribute the available gasoline through a rationing or a voucher distribution program. In spite of its many attributes given the manifold dynamic of our looming energy crisis, one can fairly ask who among the myriad of presidential hopefuls jousting through Iowa these past weeks even uttered let alone permitted the words "gasoline rationing" to pass their lips. Such is its perception by mainstream politicians and much of the media as being unthinkable policy, and politically anathema. Yet times they are a-changing! America's public may be well ahead of our politicians in comprehending that a sea change in direction is now imperative.

How low can oil go?

Fundamentals are in place to support the oil price above US$60 a barrel, says economic analyst.

King Coal: What It Costs Us

Claims about a 250-year supply of coal won't stand up to scrutiny for long, either. Yes, the United States has more coal than any other nation. But we've been mining coal in this country for 150 years -- all the simple, high-quality, easy-to-get stuff is gone. What's left is buried beneath towns and national parks, or places that are difficult, expensive and dangerous to mine. The blunt truth is, if we're going to become more dependent on coal, more miners will die. How many mining tragedies will we accept in the name of "cheap" electricity?

With coal production, cleaner skies could mean more landfills

As the nation's coal-fired power plants work to create cleaner skies, they'll likely fill up landfills with millions more tons of potentially harmful ash.

UK oil firms cheating investors, says Russia

Russia stepped up the pressure on British-listed energy and mining companies yesterday with an influential Moscow regulator alleging that some of them were "cheating" investors by exaggerating their reserves.

Iran sees no oil project funding problems

Iran will not have problems financing energy projects, the caretaker oil minister said in recent remarks, despite US pressure and UN sanctions.

Iran is enjoying windfall oil revenues because of high crude prices but foreign firms are increasingly reluctant to do business with the Islamic Republic because of sanctions imposed in a row with the West over the country's nuclear ambitions.

'In the oil industry, we will not face financing problems. Of course there are some limitations in this regard, but they can be solved,' Jahan-e Eqtesad newspaper quoted acting Oil Minister Gholamhossein Nozari as saying.

Dubai takes centerstage at Oil Barons Ball in Aberdeen

'The message was loud and clear - forget Dallas, Dubai is the centre of the oil and gas world,' said Michael, who is now working on Dubai's fifth edition of the Oil Barons Ball to be held at Emirates Golf Club 9th November 2007.

China: More funds to face 'vital situation'

The central government will pour billions of yuan into special projects to help meet the country's energy-saving targets.

Local officials are also about to come under increased pressure to toe the government line to meet the targets, otherwise their political futures could be in jeopardy.

Vietnam to tap new energy source of gas hydrates

Vietnam will probe into gas hydrates, a new source of energy, found on seabed and continental shelf to replace the gradual exhaustion of its oil and gas reserves.

Turkey measures wind energy amid shortage concerns

The Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources is turning to alternative energy sources as a means of combating electricity shortages expected to hit the country in a few years, provided sufficient resources to satisfy the booming demand cannot be found.

Nature trumps decades of effort

Experts said that, in spite of major gains made since the 1950s in improving farming practices and controlling floods in the steep valleys of the Driftless Area, the storms show how difficult it can be to control such historic rains. With nature at its absolute worst, one of the few ways to save homes and businesses is to make sure they 're built out of the path of floods in the first place, they said, adding that affected communities such as Gays Mills should consider that fact as they rebuild.

The agonies of agflation: Fuel for the body and the car

SHARING pain is usually deemed a good thing. So advocates of dishing out agony will be gladdened that the wallet-crunching pangs of car drivers filling up with petrol are now equalled by the wince-inducing stabs felt by shoppers piling up their supermarket trolleys. As oil prices stay high, wheat prices hit an all-time peak of over $7.50 a bushel for December delivery at the end of trading in Chicago on Thursday August 23rd.

The soaring prices of bushels and barrels are not unconnected. The cost of agricultural commodities, just like oil and metals, has gone up sharply over the past couple of years. Aside from wheat, the prices of corn, rice and barley have all risen by over a third since 2005. Food prices around the world are rising so quickly that a new term has been coined to describe the ballooning price of breakfast staples and dinner-time favourites: agflation.

Don't blame ethanol for the price of food

A number of recent news stories and radio talk shows have claimed that higher corn prices due to the demand for ethanol are causing higher food prices. These reports are usually vague about the specific connection and usually have few if any facts that higher corn prices have influenced consumer food prices.

In fact, there is little evidence to link a rise in any food category to higher corn prices.

Ethanol Industry Goes Into Spin Mode On Livestock Feed

The one thing proponents of ethanol have been trying to sweep under the table during their endless drive to cram the fuel down our throats with endless subsidies and mandates is the fact that widespread use of one of our staple crops for fuel is going to make livestock feed more expensive. A cost that will, along with the rising cost of corn due to more of it being diverted to ethanol production, be passed on to those buying foods

So now the ethanol industry must do something to keep up their ag-friendly appearance and convince us all that the fuel isn’t a pipe dream that will eventually do more to line the products of big-ag and big-biofuel moves-and-shakers than solve our fuel problems. Their answer? They put out propaganda about ethanol byproducts being used as livestock feed

Ethanol offers clean energy source

The first plant to produce ethanol fuel from biomass in Viet Nam is expected to come on line in 2008. Petrosetco deputy director Ho Sy Long spoke to Dai Doan Ket (Great Unity) newspaper about the project.

Protesters defy junta crackdown in Myanmar town

Around 50 members of Myanmar's main opposition party staged a protest march in a provincial town on Monday, witnesses said, as a major junta crackdown failed to stifle rare displays of public anger at soaring fuel prices.

United Nations warns fuel price hikes could worsen Myanmar's economic situation

The United Nations Monday warned fuel price hikes in Myanmar could worsen the country's precarious economic situation, as dozens of pro-democracy activists resumed their protests against the increase.

UN rights chief tells Myanmar to release protesters

Myanmar should immediately release about 65 protesters arrested earlier this month during a demonstration against fuel price increases, the top U.N. human rights official said.

Junta Urges Monks Not to Protest

Burma’s military leaders have been trying to persuade monks in Mandalay not to take part in protests that began last week in response to a sharp rise in fuel and commodity prices, according to local monks.

Sinopec posts sharp rise in profit as oil prices slip

China Petroleum & Chemical, the biggest Asian oil refiner, said Sunday that its profit surged 66 percent in the first half of this year on rising demand for gasoline and chemicals and falling costs for crude oil.

Kuwait records second largest surplus in its history, despite a huge increase in spending

In its latest economic brief on public finance, National Bank of Kuwait reports that Kuwait closed the year on another massive budget surplus driven by high oil prices. Although down on last year’s number, the 2006/07 surplus, at KD 5.2 billion before payments into the Reserve Fund for Future Generations (RFFG), was still the second highest in Kuwait’s history.

Stop Congress before it makes another big mess

Congress is behaving just as it did in 1973 after the OPEC embargo. The same caterwauling about alleged obscene profits and price gouging that is being sounded today was reverberating 34 years ago, and Congress' response was to pass a series of laws that did little or nothing to enhance the nation's energy supply.

Instead, the heavy hand of government intervention distorted the marketplace and wasted billions of taxpayer dollars on impractical or uneconomical alternatives to conventional energy supplies. Sometimes referred to as a "travesty in five acts," our national energy policy in the early 1970s actually increased rather than decreased our dependence on foreign sources of supply.

Mutiny Shakes US Food Aid Industry

One of the largest international aid organizations in the world turned the food aid industry on its head recently by declaring that they will turn down 46 million dollars in food subsidies from the U.S. government.The United States budgets 2 billion dollars a year in food aid, which buys U.S. crops to feed populations facing starvation amidst crisis or those that endure chronic hunger.

But the U.S.-based CARE International has forfeited its substantial slice of the food aid pie that is the U.S. “Food for Peace” program, claiming that the way the U.S. government distributes food hurts small poor farmers in the very communities and countries the program is supposed to help.

Local trucking company unveils new generation smog-free truck

The new 2007 model trucks are equipped with a device known as a particulate trap, which filters out microscopic particulate matter known to be harmful to human health.

...The engines also use ultra low sulphur diesel fuel and have been designed to meet new government standards that mandate all new engines from 2007 onward must reduce smog and greenhouse gas emissions.

But being environmentally-friendly doesn’t always come cheap. The trucks cost about $8,000 more than last year’s model without the environmental package and are a big investment for any company.

Toyota wary of real consumer demand in U.S. for plug-in cars

Toyota Motor, maker of the best-selling gasoline-electric car in the world, has said that extensive U.S. consumer tests are needed before it offers hybrids that can be recharged at household outlets for limited all-electric driving.

The end of traffic jams?

A remarkable study into the way millions of people will travel in the future reveals a world where cars drive themselves, people could be tagged so they are constantly monitored, and nearly all modes of transport can be run by computers rather than people.

Kazakhstan suspends Kashagan oilfield

Kazakhstan suspended work at the huge Kashagan oilfield for at least three months on Monday, raising the stakes in the long-delayed project developed by a consortium of Western oil majors.

The project's start-up delays and cost overruns have long irked Kazakhstan. It has threatened to revoke a permit held by an Eni-led group to exploit the Caspian Sea site, the world's biggest oil find in decades, over ecological concerns.

Fire at UAE port's chemical depot put out

Fire-fighters extinguished a blaze that tore through a chemical storage depot at Jebel Ali port in the United Arab Emirates on Monday, the second fire in two weeks at a cargo port in the Gulf Arab oil exporter.

Peak Oil - less Govt revenue

Governments like ours, that depend generally on taxes from Big Oil for their revenues to support the county's economy, then have to give more and more incentives to encourage Big Oil's exploration. Countries with the Dutch disease are caught in a Catch 22 situation since the exploitation of and returns from the natural resource are the unique drivers of the economy.

The revenues due to government, that reflect the new exploration and increased production costs funded by further incentives, will be consequently reduced. Peak Oil/Gas is reached then for such governments when change in revenue from taxes etc, with respect to corresponding change in production (i.e. marginal returns to government on production) is inconsequential.

Gas down nearly 3 cents in 2 weeks

The national average price for gasoline dropped about 2.9 cents over the last two weeks, according to a survey released Sunday.

Cities block bulky homes on little lots

Cities continue to rein in "teardowns" of old houses and the giant homes that replace them despite a housing slump that has slowed construction.

The outcry over huge new homes squeezed onto small lots has not let up. Residents are angry because expensive new homes raise property taxes. Neighbors resent the shadow they cast over their older, modest bungalows and ramblers. Preservationists say they destroy the historical character of neighborhoods.

Doc displays 'Way to Go' in oil usage

"What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire" is a documentary hardly named for the cliché words of encouragement, "way to go." While it may not be the type of film that pats society on the back, it aims to educate and even to warn.

Merkel presses China on climate change

German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged China on Monday to do more to halt climate change, prompting the response that the developed West has been polluting the skies for much longer than the newly developing Chinese.

Securitized Mortgage Fraud - The Ponzi Unwinds

Even in good times the Ponzi business model employed by most of the mortgage banking industry required ever increasing loan volumes to keep default rates down. New loans typically don’t go bad as fast as bad loans, so the rapid growth rate of the sector helped hide the truth about the quality of their holdings. Now that the sector is having trouble growing, reported default rates are on the rise and profits are evaporating.The market for mortgage backed securities grew far too rapidly, and the supply of easy credit had to end.


Ponzi’ finance units must increase outstanding debt in order to meet its financial obligations.” - Hyman Minsky

Credit Suisse on a monthly basis puts out one of the most data filled reports in the biz on mortgage and consumer finance. A careful reading of the latest issue, enables one to piece together the nature of the American asset Bubble consumer financing Ponzi scheme.
The macro question is, how can this benign “risk free” environment continue if Ponzi equity extraction from declining housing values abates at all? And even worse, what happens if large layoffs spread into the real estate and construction areas of the economy.


Like a Ponzi scheme, it is good until it isn’t. Think of it as musical chairs. When chairs are plenty, everyone is having fun. Yet as the music winds down, we know that eventually only one person will be able to sit.


Noticed all those "ReFi" commercials have pretty much disappeared. Guess the House of Cards has collapsed. All that's left is the unwinding and the pain.(a clear understatement on my part)

It's very hard to overstate the scale of what's happening. The US housing market is one of, if not the single largest asset classes in the world. The nominal value of this asset class doubled and tripled and more in a very short period of time. A large part of that paper increase was extracted and consumed. What backs the $20+ trillion (US) in paper held by the investors all over the world?

All prior Ponzi schemes were of such a scale that they could be followed yet larger ones after a decent interval. What can follow this one? It would seem the the US and even the world economy is a Ponzi scheme, one that is rapidly unwinding.

Yep, this is the big one. They've squeezed the world dry and the Fat Lady is singing the final number. Let me coin the phrase now. "The Greater Depression."

Another truth respecting the vigilance with which a free people should guard their liberty, that deserves to be carefully observed, is this--that a real tyranny may prevail in a state, while the forms of a free constitution remain.

Screw it. Lock and Load.

No, I'm calling it The Great Decline. "Depression" holds out hope that it is just a temporary dip, followed by a recovery. This time, we level off permanently lower.

Permanently? Remember, forever is a very long time indeed.

Depends - is this 'experiment' controlling for population levels? I'm betting with a greatly reduced population - the way the survivors live could be quite well.

You would be more honest to call it "The End." We will not level off. We will go down, down, down, down, Rock Lobster! :)

"It's very hard to overstate the scale of what's happening."

Oh Contrare', Dave, it's been VERY easy to overstate the scale of what's happening.

A few upmarket Wall Street and MSNBC bubble makers lose 3% to 5% of their mistress bait townhouse on the beach or luxury vacation home on the lake, which already overvalued by 150% and they whip up a frenzy in hopes of having someone come in and bail them out.

"Ponzi scam" is the right word, but they want us to be their losers in proxy.
So the press runs stories (calling them "news stories" would discredit the concept of "news") showing some crying "middle class" person saying they are going to lose their house, a house that no middle class person I ever knew would have been dumb enough to buy that looks like the ranch house on Southfork used in the set of "Dallas".

In the meantime, charming old 2,000 square foot houses sit for sale down in the shady nieghborhoods of town, because banks won't finance "old sheds" like them...."interest is low, why don't you just get a NEW HOUSE, WITH ALL THE LUXURIES, IMPRESS YOUR FRIENDS WHEN THEY COME OVER, huh?"

And if the Chinese and German bankers were idiots enough to buy into this mess, well, sorry for your lot boys, but we have all taken flyers. Take your whippin' and get it over with.

For 3 plus years anybody with a brain knew this housing thing was out on it's latter legs, especially the way the game was being played....the same ones who put pretty talking heads on the air saying "there's still lots of life left in the housing boom!" and "prices, while up greatly, still show lots of room on the upside!"

Now they howl. They overstated it on the way, they are far overstating it on the way down. The best thing to do is get out of the way and sweep up the rubble later. We do not owe them a rescue, which is what all this hysteria is all about.



I read what you said several times as I couldn't tell whether you were agreeing or not. I finally came to the conclusion that you recognize what's happening but not the SCALE of what's happening. As far as the financial markets are concerned, this is an extinction level event. Like a big financial asteroid coming down and wiping out the markets.


I like the imagery. But I'm having a hard time finding the place where you prove that this is a big asteroid and not just a shooting star. Mostly what I'm seeing (and to be clear, it isn't only you) is scare mongering and hyperbole. I'm not saying the current events aren't "it," just saying I've yet to see the proof.

Proof you won't get, except from the passage of time. But the scale of the event is what is crucial. I made a mistake in saying $20+ trillion in paper is held -- that's the total market value (at peak) of the US housing stock. But some significant part of that is mortgaged. But that peak value is rapidly disappearing, not simply because of defaulting mortgages. Also playing into it is what we are all aware of here at TOD -- peak oil. This too will lead to a complete devaluation of US housing stock, especially suburbia, but not just. The failure to expand would be bad enough, because this is what allowed the extraction of equity. But with decline, not only will extraction of equity cease, mass consumption and therewith all other sectors of the economy become involved. Further, the housing Ponzi scheme is not the only one that's been going on. The hedge funds and the LBO's are a whole other area, but I've followed it much less carefully.

Paint me a picture whereby things end up other than quite disastrously. Please.

"Paint me a picture whereby things end up other than quite disastrously. Please."

Screw it. Disaster is good. It cleans out all the bs. Bring it on. I no longer give a shit.

Disaster has often been the lot of humans in this world. This century we've largely whipped infectious disease, done amazing things in terms of food production, the continental U.S. hasn't seen a land war in a century and a half, and we've gone forty years without a land war involving large numbers of citizens. We're totally, completely, utterly spoiled compared to how 99% of humanity has made their way in our history.

Instead of recognizing this boon for what it was we did what every spoiled rich child does - binge, binge, binge. Now the trust fund is down to a small three digit number and we're looking around trying to figure out how to have another great big party. This will not happen.

The only peaceful road out of this is a Ghandi caliber leader who can turn the whole world from material consumption to things of an intellectual and spiritual nature.

So ... we're basically screwed.

Paint me a picture whereby things end up other than quite disastrously. Please

I hope for nothing worse than post-Katrina New Orleans for the USA post-Peak Oil.

If we work quite hard we can limit suicides to x6, overall mortality up only 50%, population density tripled in viable housing with most housing uninhabited, very limited health care, transportation, food supplies, erratic water & electricity, skyrocketing crime and a "Don't Give a Damn, You know they deserved it" attitude by the rest of the world.

Best Hopes,


"Mostly what I'm seeing (and to be clear, it isn't only you) is scare mongering and hyperbole."

IT'S ABSOLUTELY ASTOUNDING what the press is doing! ABC News had a piece on making claims that "the worse drop in housing values since the great depression" and "the biggest drop in housing values ever recorded", (SOURCE PLEASE!)

Then, in the ultimate irony the broadcaster says "The effect on consumer confidence could effect the whole economy, possibly causing a recession."

WHAT, A recession in a depression?

She then says, I kid you freakin' not, "consumer confidence has went down more in the last week than at anytime in the last 20 years."

DUH! With this shrill hysterical crap on every network, half the country will be hiding under the bed!

I am now assuming the press has made up it's mind it wants the Republicans OUT, and knows just how to do it (they used the same stuff on Carter)

While that goal may be laudable, people need to settle down....How many people are (a)trying to sell a house (b) trying to borrow money against a house (c) are in trouble on a house as a percent of the national market?

HINT: Don't watch the news to find out, all you will get there is a bunch of hysterical ninnys. Think it's fun now, wait untl FOX owns the freakin' Wall Street Jounal.


You can go back to watching television, Roger. Nothing in reality to concern you, certainly nothing as serious as what is on the tube.

Hank Paulson, who made $700 million at Goldman Sachs before taking over the US Treasury this year ... has reactivated a crisis team with a command centre in Washington to cope with the 'systemic risk' in a market melt-down. His worry? 8,000 unregulated hedge funds with $1.3 trillion at hand, and derivative contracts now worth $370 trillion. 'We need to be very careful here,' he said.

A well-sourced article in Washington's Weekly Standard says Mr Paulson fears a "serious crisis that would be a body-blow to the US economy".

Hmmm. Let's see. Debts of $370 trillion, likely highly leveraged, Cash on hand - $1.3 trillion. I don't see any problem here. Do you?

Lecture me about what's on television and you would source the Weekly Standard?

Here, have some more "Well sourced" Standard,

This is the type of crap we are now taking in our constant search for a catastrophe....and frankly, we need one, given that we missed the $100 barrel of oil what, three years running, we missed the gas lines and the riots in the street for about the last two summers, we missed the complete exhaustion of natural gas causing the collapse of the storage salt domes for two winters straight, we missed the invasion of Iran now for two years in a freakin row, we missed the overthrow of the House of Saud since Elvis was alive....
and people complain that folks just won't take the Peak Oil crowd seriously....here's a hint......GIVE IT A FREAKIN REST, WILL YA???

There are threats, and there is IDIOCY. Is there NOTHING that won't set off a panic here?


"8,000 unregulated hedge funds"

And we are going to just go ahead and make the assumption that every fvckin one of those hedge funds has EVERY DIME of that multi trillion dollar debt in unsecured mortgage paper, right... and to top it off, every single mortgage holder is going to be unable to make their payments, ALL at the same time....why would we make such an idiotic assumption?



8,000 unregulated funds ... and two big ones just flat collapsed. The source of a good bit of their stuff is the mortgage market ... twenty billion in ARMs resetting every month for the next ten months straight? OK, and a few months of a quarter of that rate sank the Bear Stearns stuff. Let me think on this for a bit.

Whether peak oil was 11/2005, or last summer, or not for two more years when things really get rolling there will be across the board degradation and periodic spectacular collapses. Perhaps those hedge funds are worth 95% of their claimed value ... today ... but if houses are going to be worth a third of what they are now in the near future ... *B00M.

So we talk about the "thermonuclear blast" about to hit the mortgage market, but its really more like trench warfare in world war II. We've got a million mortgage wave of shells coming, then the whistle blows, and discharged employees go racing into a no man's land of unemployment, no insurance, and blog posts with too many capital letters in them ...

if houses are going to be worth a third of what they are now in the near future ...

The housing market will overcorrect to the downside and certain markets may experience a greater decline in valuation than others but I think 30% of present value is overstating it a bit.

Roger is correct in that the problems in housing will provoke a change in consumer psychology. When the IT industry collapsed as the .com boom imploded the only people affected were those in the industry and those in the markets. The rest shrugged it off.

This problem is far greater in both dollar value and scope. Hard to avoid concern if you see all those for sale signs going up. If consumers retrench then that will bring on a recession.

What is not being addressed in the media is the fact that Hedge funds used significant amounts of borrowed money to perform buy outs of public companies. After the buy out they then added to corporate debt. The result is that you have many firms that may encounter debt service problems if the original rosy projections turn sour. Since labour costs are 70% of corporate expenses trimming the workforce is likely and this further impacts consumer demand. These cuts would be in addition to the likely job losses in the real estate sector. This sector provided approximately 46% of all job growth since 2001.

I was certainly affected by the dotcom bust. Many of our school clients were spooked, and put their building projects on indefinite hold. Suddenly my employers had more staff than work. They laid me and several other people off. There wasn't much to do but leave the area to find work.

wait untl FOX owns the freakin' Wall Street Journal.

I thought FOX (Murdoch) already did own the Wall Street Journal

The Evils of Ethanol

Recent arguments for Ethanol has supporters arguing crops other than corn (cellulosic ethanol) or types of corn not eaten by humans are being made into Ethanol.

The issue is not what particular crop is used to make Ethanol. The issue is the conversion of food producing ACREAGE to ethanol producing acreage. Less food producing acreage = higher food prices. Higher food prices lead to demand destruction. Where food is concerned, demand destruction = starvation. Anyone promoting conversion of food producing acreage to ethanol producing acreage is promoting malnutrition and starvation among the poorest segments of our population who will be 'priced out of the market' for food. That won't just be a problem for the poor. Malnutrition among a growing segment of the population can lead to pandemics the will affect the population as a whole. Politically, Look to the Russian Revolution and the French Revolution. Both were the result of economic decisions made that resulted in reduced food supply. Next time you put Ethanol in your tank, think of the child who is going hungry so you can do that. Next time you make a profit on ethanol, think of the people who are going hungry for you to make that profit. Ethanol profits are blood money.






Another truth respecting the vigilance with which a free people should guard their liberty, that deserves to be carefully observed, is this--that a real tyranny may prevail in a state, while the forms of a free constitution remain.

I've been curious whether, as a matter of chemistry, the same processes that turn cellulose into fuel alcohol couldn't also turn it into directly-edible carbohydrates? Of course, this is what range-cattle and their rumens do - but inefficiently. As a vegan, I think it would be a neat technical twist if the scientific attempt to create cheap new fuels actually provided humans with a whole new source of non-animal food.

Are you mad? Every scientist who even thinks about "improving" or "creating" food should be bound, gagged and thrown in a deep dark dungeon for ever. Don't you think they've done enough destruction to our food already? Hospitals are near bursting with broken humans due to science interfering with our food and food supplies.

Triumvirate of collapse - Economy, Ecosystem, Energy

I won't go into it, but by far the biggest problem is the overabundance of very cheap foods that require no physical effort for the consumer to procure. We are fat, getting fatter and can't control ourselves. Dwarfs any other health problem.

"the biggest problem is the overabundance of very cheap foods that require no physical effort for the consumer to procure"

And who's fault was that? In fact, as well as the utopian minded scientists, better toss all the economists into an even deeper and darker hole just to be on the safe side. Unlike the scientists, who'll find some new way to meet their maker, the economists will be able to feed themselves once they get a free market up and running :)

Then we have hedge fund managers, estate agents, marketing people...

Damn it! Where's Haliburton when you need them?

Triumvirate of collapse - Economy, Ecosystem, Energy

I'm 45 and in the best shape of my life.

Laziness is a choice. I've seen the people dropping their fat kids off at school each morning, and believe me, they need large trucks to get around. Soon they'll need dump trucks.

I realize everything is society's fault, but I think there is a possibility, however remote, that personal responsibility may play some small part in what's going on.

I can't wait until we run out of gas! My only hope is they finish repaving everything the day before so that we have coast to coast bike lanes.

Choices are always constrained, however.

A couple years ago I was planning a trip to a workshop in Austin, TX. I reserved a room at the workshop hotel. A few hours later I got a call from somebody in the travel dept - my room, at $185, was over the limit. I would have to stay elsewhere.

OK, there are other cheaper hotels not too far away. I like to walk. The exercise will do me good. I call a few of these cheaper hotels to check: can I walk from your hotel to the workshop hotel?

Every one of these other hotels said: no, utterly impossible. It's all freeways, limited access highways. No way for a pedestrian to cross! And when I got there, I confirmed this. Utterly unwalkable.

In the end I did manage to stay at the conference hotel. The whole thing was absurd. I was going to have to rent a car for maybe $50 a day to save maybe $20 a day on the hotel!

Exercise really works when it is just an ordinary part of one's daily activity, instead of some wierd isolated extra errand. But our infrastructure is generally designed to make walking and biking impossible or at best extremely treacherous.

Society is of course made up of individuals. Trying to solve these chicken-and-egg paradoxes is a waste of time. The thing to do is to look for places to intervene, to shift the pattern. And a good way to do this is to look around to see what others have tried, what works and what doesn't.

I live in the Tanasbourne development outside Hillsboro, Oregon. For a newly built-up region, I think it is exemplary. For six years I didn't own a car at all. I finally did buy a car but generally drive it just on Sundays, to church and back. Public transportation isn't always practical, unfortunately!

Hospitals are near bursting with broken humans due to science interfering with our food and food supplies.

That is a gross exaggeration if one ever existed. The world is full of people because of science interfering with our food supplies. Science created the green revolution. Science is responsible for all fertilizers and pesticides that give us bumper crops every year. And yes science has given us genetically modified foods that have dramatically increased yields. (Apparently that last one is the one you believe is responsible for our full hospitals.)

But you are correct in one sense. If it had not been for science meddling with our food supply the world would have a population of about half a billion people. So in that sense I suppose they are responsible for most of our current problems caused by overpopulation.

Ron Patterson

Ron, science has indeed done all the things you say and I'm sure economists are very happy with the result. Unfortunately, you've missed the important bit, the really really important bit as far as humans are concerned. Food's nutritional value.

As the scientists have been running their magic wand over our food crops and economists weeding out the least economically efficient food types, the quality and variety of our food has gone into terminal decline. From one report I read it seems that the nutritional value of our food has declined by some 50% since the wonders of the Green Revolution started. I even heard of one major producer whose oranges contained no vitamin C (Hey! But it still looks good after several weeks on the shelves, doesn't dry out and can be used as a football in emergencies).

And that's before we even look at GMO's. No wonder liver damage is on the increase.

We may be well fed, but we're increasingly becoming malnourished due to the quality and type of foods we eat. Under nourished people are susceptible to many and varied illnesses. Evolution's way of weeding out the least fit in a changing environment. Hospitals are attempting to cope with a mass case of food intolerance due to a changing diet which most are unaware is even changing. Whilst in hospital the unfortunates are stuffed to the eyeballs with highly profitable, but mildly toxic pharmaceuticals that attempt to relieve symptoms without treating causes - sometimes with nauseating and embarrassing side effects.

But not to worry, a scapegoat is at hand, The Law of Unintended Consequences. No one's to blame, as everyone was doing what they thought was right and proper. Er! the population increase was also unforeseen, hopefully we'll catch that one next time round, after the unpleasantness of TSHTF.

Wow! And not a conspiracy to be found anywhere :)

Triumvirate of collapse - Economy, Ecosystem, Energy

There are 30,000 species of Rice. We plant less than 30 of them. It is modern harvesting methods as well as other things that have impacted our food.

One of them is the need to package food for shipment more than 100 miles from the source. Small farmers with local markets to seen all their food stuffs to, will increase the numbers of species of plants grown. But if you have to package for shipment, you can't have most of the crops you might otherwise grow, because they can't travel and last on store shelves.

That is one reason I support local farmering, Local eating type of programs. That and the FF use should be less.

Obesity is also from cheap foods being the worst for you foods. High carbs, High amounts of High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugars in all your drinks. 35 to 48grams of sugars per can of soda pop. Your average person consumes more than the 2,000 calories per day. You have to walk 1 mile to burn 100 calories. We eat to much and burn to few calories, and we get fat.

Cutting the high amounts of sugars out of the American diet can do wonders for us, but that is not going to happen willingly very often.

Hi Ron,

I know this reply is late-in-the-day but...

Do you have any independent studies confirming a substantial increase in yields for GM crops? What I have seen is herbicide-resistance but lower yields.

As someone who grows a lot of food, I have become convinced that less-productive heirloom varieties often taste better and seem more satisfying...my body seems to like food grown on healthy soil more than supermarket food. It could be entirely psychosomatic.


That is a gross exaggeration if one ever existed.

Not if you look towards MRSA and believe this come from the use of antibiotics in the food supply.

Or is MRSA "a conspiracy" and therefore not worth considering?

Hospitals are near bursting with broken humans due to science interfering with our food and food supplies.

If this is an exaggeration, it isn't off by much. My wife, an RN of 30 years experience tells me stories daily of the obesity epidemic and all the co-morbidities of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, etc. etc. The hospitals are indeed full of people suffering from mal-nutrition (as opposed to under-nutrition) and twisted lifestyles.

The nurses on her shift were elated when they got two more hydraulic lifts capable of 1000 lbs. for their 'bariatrtic' patients. The new hospital being built will be equipped with tracks in the ceiling-- similar to how a meat-packing plant is designed-- for transporting these patients. Fully 2/3 of Americans are said to be overweight and if my memory serves, at least half could be classified as 'obese.'

My wife weighs in at a whopping 100 lbs and when she had finished assisting a 400 lb patient to the toilet, an aide asked her what she would do if the patient started to fall. "Yell 'TIMBERRRR' and run." was the answer.

Everyone dies sooner or later, but the critical care ward nurse I dated last year used to tell the most stomach turning stories about what happens to the badly overweight before their time is through. She was a ferocious hundred and forty pound bundle of muscle and it often took her and two other equally well tended nurses to handle some of the larger patients.

And it is an epidemic, as is clearly seen from this map.


My pet peeve as a respiratory therapist. Had too many friends injured by 400 lb patients. Lots of cute little nurses in the mix. Occupational hazard, without hazardous duty pay.

Why should ICU nurses have to call maintenance for 4 big guys to move a patient? Even with the lifts and stuff. Ain't fair.

With a name like that do you have a bag of yellow balloons in your glove compartment?

Just a bottle of Ripple

he same processes that turn cellulose into fuel alcohol couldn't also turn it into directly-edible carbohydrates?

They are called Mushrooms, and oyster mushrooms are able to be grown on straw, chairs, newspaper, et la. Straw, once colonized can then be fed to livestock.

"Rainy day mushroom pillow, colors green, brown and yellow..."

From a story in the Wall Street Journal today (behind a paywall):

What If Iran Blocks The Strait of Hormuz?


About 17 million barrels of crude oil moved through the Strait of Hormuz daily last year...expected to grow to as much as 32 million barrels a day by 2030 as Persian Gulf countries increase production, according to the IEA's 2005 World Energy Outlook.
Now sheikdoms in the United Arab Emirates -- the third-biggest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries -- are looking at projects that would keep oil and commerce flowing if the strait is blocked.
Abu Dhabi, the key oil producer among the U.A.E.'s seven semiautonomous enclaves, is planning an oil pipeline to the eastern emirate of Fujayrah, where it can be carried to the sea without passing through the strait.
It is expected to move 1.5 million barrels a day.
it will account for less than 10% of the normal amount of oil going through the strait.

If they really can ramp up to 32 million bbl/day, they would require 21 pipelines to move all of that oil. Looks like they haven't heard about Peak Oil. Or maybe they have heard, so they are planning for the resulting conflict!!

E. Swanson

Black_Dog said,
"If they really can ramp up to 32 million bbl/day, they would require 21 pipelines to move all of that oil. Looks like they haven't heard about Peak Oil."

Long story short, if they can ramp up to 32 million bbl per day, then there is no peak oil until we in an old foks home with dribble running down our chin, and far past remembering that the concept of peak oil ever existed...

Middle East at 32 million a day is the heart of the whole bet....it they can do it, game, set, match, we lost. Folks who come here are betting they can't even get close.


Here's a link that's not behind a paywall:

What Happens If Iran Blocks The Strait Of Hormuz?

Regarding Iran. . .
(Kind of makes you wonder about what will happen in the US when we confront gasoline shortages)

August 28, 2007
The Gasoline Crisis in Iran
By Y. Mansharof and A. Savyon*

Iranian Website Warns of Impending Crisis

An analysis posted July 22, 2007 on the Alef website criticized the government propaganda, which is emphasizing the achievements of the rationing program while disregarding the hardships that the people are experiencing under it. The following are excerpts:

"During the past two or three weeks, confidential reports have given an alarming picture of the state of the urban and intercity public transportation: [Public] services are shutting down; some taxi drivers are trading in gasoline [rationing cards], while others do not [even] receive [the cards]; taxi services are gradually coming to a standstill; prices of intercity public transportation have significantly risen… The public is feeling the effects of this [crisis] directly.

"Right now, in mid-summer, when the demands on urban public transportation are minimal, [these] reports may appear negligible. However, each one of them is a piece of a puzzle which, if put together, would present an alarming picture of impending crisis: torched buses, looted banks and shops, gas stations set on fire by people fed up with the inflation, apartment shortages, and interminable lines of [standing] buses, trains and taxis - [and all this] by mid-September 2007 (when the demands on public transportation will be at their peak)."

What if the Wall Street Journal came out and it didn't contain a neocon concern troll story?

Last fall we installed a whole house tankless electric water heater, the Powerstar 115. Powerstar is the electric version of the Bosch gas-fired tankless units. Ours seemed to work fine, but my stepson told us that it has been performing badly for the last three months and has now stopped providing any hot water at all. After running a few tests, he blames the sensor. So now I have to call an 866 number and try to get the part replaced.

It seemed like a good idea, but now I wonder if it will cost me more in the long run.

Limescale? [carbonate deposits] Elements burn out quickly when coated, especially high powered 'instant heat' types

Check the warranty. My instant electric is guaranteed for life
to the original purchaser. I had trouble after three years and sent it back to the manufacturer who replaced it for no charge. The only trouble was going without hot water for five days.

I asked a plumber I regard highly about instantaneous electrics a couple years ago, and he said he hasn't seen any that he trusts yet, and won't install them until that changes.

According to him, the stress of the heating process happening that quickly makes the heating-elements and exchange piping die far too quickly. I suspect that combining an instantaneous with preheating, as with solar hot water would give you a system that is less-strained, since the temperature rise required is far lower. (also reducing energy-demand, of course, while maintaining a consistently heated water source..)


As far as my stepson can tell, it is the heat sensor that has failed, not the heating elements. That would seem to me to be an electronics issue.

But this does give me pause regarding the idea of being an early adopter of some sort of expensive EV. An $800 Izip bike that fails is one thing, a $30,000 Lion or Twike is quite another.

Every time I try to envision the ideal EV, I scale up and down, and end up with a regular bike again! I did have a new 'hybrid EV' idea today, which is a 30-mile range Pickup Truck, and you can rent, or otherwise toss into the bed an emissions-approved Generator-set, for your weekend trip out of state.. that, or the Gennie is on a trailer behind a sedan or wagon. Don't know about how you'd insure THAT package, though.

re: Water Heater - if it is the sensor, at least that should be a cheap fix. I'm hoping the basic technology is basically durable. I've wanted them for our two apartments, but something in the 'Philosophy and Geometry' of the thing is just too much like 'Just-in-time' Inventory mentality. Minimal Resiliency. I'm a hoarder, I would rather scavenge my heat throughout the sunny days and have it already stashed in a heavily insulated place like a responsible squirrel, instead of taking the 'I want it HOT, NOW!' approach, only to have the universe go Ha-Ha!.


I suspect that combining an instantaneous with preheating, as with solar hot water would give you a system that is less-strained, since the temperature rise required is far lower.

Some brands of tankless heater require a minimum temp. difference between the input and output sides to switch on. The issue is that the burner is designed with enough output to heat cold water very quickly, if the water is allready quite hot the flow rate through the heat exchanger may not be enough to prevent overheating (worst case the water boils and blows off via the emergency release valve on the unit onto the floor or wherever). Check with the companys tech folks to be sure that the unit being considered is compatable with this sort of hook up prior to ordering...

The Bosch AquaStar 1600PS NG (Natural Gas) Solar Tankless Heater is specifically made to work with solar hot water heaters. The only model AFAIK.

Best Hopes for energy efficiency,


Rove, Snow, now Gonzales

A bunch of pole climbers seemingly without a shred of moral compass voluntarily jumping ship before the autumn. Tell me I shouldn't be getting worried by that...

This morning, I listened to the local Neocon radio here in Dallas/Fort Worth (WBAP, Limbaugh, Hannity, Levin, et al), checking for some traffic updates--my daughter's commuter train was running late and she called to ask if I had heard anything--and I heard an interesting conversation.

The general drift of the discussion was that we need to either get out of Iraq, or get much tougher, by "killing almost everyone." The other host agreed and replied that he hoped we could accomplish our goals without turning the whole region into "glowing green glass."

The "optimistic" take on this is that they are trying to pin the Iraq failure on the Democrats, i.e., they forced Bush to withdraw.

Alternatively, the Neocons could be collectively slipping further into madness, suffering from extreme cognitive dissonance, insisting on more and more attacks--until their world view is validated.

Likely the latter. But look for regime change coming soon to a country near you.

Combine all this with those ads that have started appearing on TV against withdrawal, and it sure sounds like we are being prepared for something big coming down the pike -- probably a major escalation/expansion.

Which begs the question; "You and who's army?"

Many Take Army's 'Quick Ship' Bonus
$20,000 Is Lure to Leave Within Days

By Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 27, 2007; Page A01

More than 90 percent of the Army's new recruits since late July have accepted a $20,000 "quick ship" bonus to leave for basic combat training by the end of September, putting thousands of Americans into uniform almost immediately.


$100Million will buy 5000 quick ship bonuses. According to the story, about 3800 new recruits have signed on.

So for pocket change, the government can buy cannon fodder.

Does it really matter at this point who gets blamed? I seem to recall pretty much everybody in politics wanting this mess, on both sides.

Since WWII, this country is 0-2-2 in war fighting. That's generously calling Korea and the first Gulf Wars ties.

When I was in the Navy, we shot down 2 Lybian fighters but lost 275 Marines in Beirut, so I would categorize my five years in the loss column as well.

And I forgot Somalia. But we did win in Grenada! Woo hoo!

I think running out of gas is going to be damn good thing, personally, even if I end up starving to death.

The mandate for Desert Shield/ Storm was to eject the Iraqi military from the country of Kuwait. The road north from Kuwait City was so littered with Iraqi troops and materiel that many in the press began to call the allies conduct overkill.
Desert Shield/Storm was a win.

garyp, there are many possible reasons for the resignagions of the prominent political staff resignations that you mentioned. Here is one...BTW, the entire transcript is worth a read.

Friday, August 24th, 2007
Political Prosecution? Justice Dept Holds onto Docs in Case of Jailed Alabama Governor Siegelman



AMY GOODMAN: Scott Horton has been closely following this story. He’s a Columbia Law professor and contributor to Harper’s magazine, where he writes the blog "No Comment." He joins us now in our firehouse studio here in New York. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Scott Horton. Tell us who Don Siegelman is.

SCOTT HORTON: Good to be with you. Well, Don Siegelman is the most important Democratic Party politician in Alabama in recent years. He was an electoral wonder, a figure who was able to command a good part of the vote even in the largely Republican south part of the state. He was elected to every major office that the state of Alabama had to offer. He was viewed essentially as the nemesis of the Republicans in Alabama.

AMY GOODMAN: And what happened?

SCOTT HORTON: It now looks increasingly like he was a target of a political vendetta that reached into and involved the Department of Justice in a political prosecution. And, in fact, we had a really astonishing development in this case back in May, when a Republican lawyer, Jill Simpson, who had been involved in the electoral campaign of his Republican opponent, Bob Riley, filed an affidavit, in which she described a conversation she had participated in with a man named William Canary. Now, he's a native New Yorker, actually, referred to frequently by Alabamians as “the carpetbagger,” who is a prominent Republican kingmaker in Alabama, the head of the Business Council of Alabama. And he stated in this conversation that he had talked to Karl, and Karl had spoken to the Department of Justice, and they didn't have to worry about Don Siegelman anymore. He was going to be taken care of. And he went on to say, “My girls are going to take care of Siegelman.”...clip...

I'll agree that they might be trying to put distance between themselves and a court case for the whole organisation. However putting yourself at a distance from the reins of power is a risk strategy if the dogs are on the scent - too much possibility of being hung out to dry.

And why all of them, now, all together?

The only thing it seems coincident with is the credit crunch.

I think Snow is resigning of his own free will. He said that he needs to make more money, he has kids ready for college, he only makes $166,000 per, etc, and now that he has had exposure as white house press secretary he can certainly make more money as an outsider. Rove and Gonzales are in another category...one that I would not want to be in. In any case this is a very big story and has received no coverage (that I have seen) except on Democracy Now. Do you have any ideas about why this story has not been covered by the MSM?

Here is a DOJ link to the court case...http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/2006/June/06_crm_409.html

Not only that...he has cancer. And the kind of cancer he has...it's not likely he will recover.

I think he's just trying to provide for his family while he can, and spend time with them while he can.

Right Leanan...I had forgotten about the cancer. Snow strikes me as a good person in a crappy job. Have you seen any mention of the court case or the intervention by the DOJ or Rove to go after the dem Gov of Bama?

I think he's a good liar in a job that requires a good liar.

Found this through a link at EB this morning. It's not really news, since it's from 1956, but it's amusing...

Destination Earth (1956)

In this corporate-sponsored cartoon, Martian dissidents learn that oil and competition are the two things that make America great.

I actually saw that in elementary school.

Wow, that cartoon is a neat slice of history. Interesting to note tht 1956 was the year Hubbert predicted the US peak. I love the "competition" part, certainly an anti-communist theme there. I don't think competition will work so well in the post-peak world, we might actually be forced to try "cooperation". Oh, the horror...

I was meaning to write to the EnergyBulletin who also posted it.

It was a "Special Feature" on the EndOfSuburbia DVD.


I watched on my copy of that.


You know an empire is in its golden age when even the propaganda looks good.

Most of the homeless have jobs

A quote from the head of New Orleans Baptist Missions.

Many more families than before, they just have no place to live.


IME, this is true of a surprising number of homeless everywhere.

There are a lot of homeless in Israeli cities, none in the far poorer West Bank. Simply because families in the West Bank would never think of letting their own live in the streets.

How the rest of the world is seeing the housing crisis in the US.


Another truth respecting the vigilance with which a free people should guard their liberty, that deserves to be carefully observed, is this--that a real tyranny may prevail in a state, while the forms of a free constitution remain.

The UK housing market is more leveraged and just as much at risk as the US market. I recently read that 10% or less of UK mortgages are fixed rate.

Fixed rate has been unusual in the UK up until recent years. In fact people on fixed rates have been causing the BoE problems since increases in interest rates haven't been feeding through into slowdowns in the housing market as desired. Fixed rates tend put a buffer in the system that confuses monetary control.

Something not yet stated, to my knowledge, is that the current mortgage crisis - despite the losses to be incurred in bonds and equities - will probably exacerbate the growing gap between rich and poor.

As we focus upon the unfortunates who only temporarily were granted the illusion of a middle class homeowning life, the results will reduce the viability of wage demand by the middle class and probably have no substantial negative effect on those in the upper brackets other than to administer a pause in earnings growth.

The 'China Syndrome' that has offshored so much production has been papered over - literally - by a housing bubble which not only obscured the truth but made the reality worse in the long run. On the flip side, the retirement of so many boomers at the same time may mitigate the employment effects. Like the price of oil, I expect a jumpy economy for a while as opposing forces tug back and forth. Peak bubble.

Meanwhile, the sledgehammer of darkness...as if a zillion airconditioners weren't enough strain on the grid, we want PLUGIN HYBRIDS????? Plug and pray!

Actually, since plug-in hybrids would generally recharge overnight the effect on the grid is not bad at all. Additionally, when plug-ins are tied into the grid via V2G, they provide storage capacity to levelize peak loads. As storage they also function to capture and store energy from intermittent renewable sources such as wind and solar.


Except that they generally won't. And who would want their Volt discharging into the grid for some bozo's airconditioner? And what wind and solar? You're anticipating that the grid will reinvent itself as fast or faster than the plug hybrid. It's a nice idea in theory. Plug and pray.

I agree that it does not make a lot of sense to use a transportation grade battery to stabilize the grid. You want to keep the cycles devoted to transportation. On the other hand, PG&E seems interested in using the batteries after they have been taken out of cars. I expect that this gives about 3 times the capacity that will be on wheels.


Chris - it makes a lot of sense to have a distributed storage system based on EVs, as cars are in use for typically all of 1 hour per day. V2G is under study by PG&E, SoCalEdision, and several East Coast utilities. I guess we'll see.


The number of charge cycles available prior to degradation for the battery packs used in the Tesla is about 500. That is pretty darn good, but it also comes to about three years of use. If you are adding extra charge cycles by using that battery for grid storage, you'll have to replace it sooner. But new batteries come at a premium. I suppose that if a deal were struck with the utility that covers the fact that they are using up your transportation battery (they'll pay half the cost of the replacement in addition to buying the used battery) you might go for it, especially if they delivered and installed at a convenient time (no time in the shop). It might happen, but I think that the availability of the used batteries will make the inconvieniences a little too much.


Chris - As I understand, it's depth of charge that matters, and that with V2G your EV would be discharged 10% or so, not fully discharged. It's also somethting you participate in when you want. And yes, there are companies looking at leasing the battery, and other schemes, so that the upfront cost and O&M costs are lower and in line with ICE-auto prices.

I have great problems accepting the V2G concept as being widely applicable for several reasons.

1) People (including me) would be unwilling to wear down a VERY expensive battery to save the utility some $. The economic value to the utility is not high enough to pay for over head (think of the meter required to calculate !), make an adjustment for unpredictability, accounting, reorganization, and then give me a substantial rebate on my bill.

2) Wind (except for some few sea breeze locations) does not peak on a daily cycle and solar peaks "at the wrong time" for recharging most EVs & PHEVs. So this "recharge when there is excess wind" works only if one can go a week or month between recharges.

3) There is a strong human tendency to recharge ASAP "just in case". So EVs & PHEVs are likely to add to the evening peak, making that the most common peak throughout the year, making greater problems for the grid. Less true of the first 2% to buy EVs and PHEVs, quite true at 50% EV & PHEVs in fleet. And it would be difficult to estimate the impact as the % grows (remember grids have almost decade lead times).

EVs, the new air conditioners ! That is what I think they will become as far as grid impact and energy use.

Still MUCH better than 25 mpg SUVs, but we will create new, and significant, problems with this conversion.

Best Hopes for Urban Rail,


(1) As I responded to Chris, the charge/discharge would be a small fraction of a full cycle, so that the effect on battery lifetime would be minimal. Once this effect is quantitated, it will be priced into the payment you would earn for supplying power from your EV. Also, owning v. leasing the battery offers options for those concerned about accelerated degradation. Regarding the utility expenses, the cost to compare is that of the next marginal coal- or gas-fired plant, at its associated cost in terms of GHG. Another POV is that peak loads require excess capacity which is inefficient; charging overnight makes efficient use of existing plants.

(2) First, whether PV or wind dominates the renewable portfolio is regionally specific, so it may be either or both. PV is well-suited for summertime peak loads. Summer peaks are mid to late afternoon whereas charging an EV (maybe after parked at work) occurs in morning to noon hours. They are compatible. Large scale wind, sited where it is economic, will feed the grid with intermittent power that is not matched to load. This is the key attribute of V2G. That energy can be distributed across a large system of batteries, and dispatched when needed. I don't know where the phrase "recharge when there is excess wind" came from, but that would only be the case for an off-grid system.

(3) First in my experience very few people currently top off their gas tanks to be always full. With time and experience people will adjust to charging when cost effective. Two points: One, when EVs penetrate the market there will be gas electric stations where one can recharge in short time. Two, most plug-ins early on will have an ICE to recharge the batteries. You won’t be prevented from going where you might need to go.

And we haven't even begun discussing the aspect associated with GHG reduction, which is dominated by transportation and most difficult to address because it is such a distributed source. But we can save that for later.

In a world where vehicles are still used, IMHO, electric vehicles offer more opportunity to skirt the law of unintended consequences than any other alternative. And, rail and EVs are not mutually exclusive.

Alan, let's try to beat this one to death as well....

"People (including me) would be unwilling to wear down a VERY expensive battery to save the utility some $."

V2G isn't going to be needed for a long time.

Let me say that again.

V2G isn't going to be needed for a long time!! By that time batteries like the A123systems, which last 10x-20x as long as conventional li-ion, will dominate the PHEV market.

PHEV's will be synergistic with wind because of scheduled charging.

"The economic value to the utility is not high enough to pay for over head"

Sure it is. PG&E is already installing such meters throughout it's service territory. OTOH, a small % of customers using such a smart/time-of-day meter can provide large benefits to the grid. Utilities throughout North America use a small % of customers to provide negawatts at peak. Extremely cost effective.

"Wind (except for some few sea breeze locations) does not peak on a daily cycle "

First, yes it does. On average, it tends to be a bit stronger in most areas at night. 2nd, it doesn't have to. Let me say that again: it doesn't have to peak!! Both wind & nuclear have the problem of 24 hour, capital intensive generation, where night time generation is badly underutilized. PHEV's would solve this problem, as well as absorbing some of the daily variance of wind.

" There is a strong human tendency to recharge ASAP "just in case". "

As noted by another poster, that's not true. Utility tests have shown that people respond to price signals. IIRC, you don't have a cell phone, but I'm sure you know people who do: do they, or don't they respond to the price signal of peak and off-peak minutes???

Hey..wait a minute, what am I, a potted plant?

Actually Nick, you make a better case than me. I would add that V2G is totally voluntary, cash in or not, and separate from the financials of a purchase of an EV or PHEV. There is no plan nor regulation that those with an EV must be part of V2G. And there won't be.

"Hey..wait a minute, what am I, a potted plant?"

Oops. I should have given you a better acknowledgement than "another poster"...

"Actually Nick, you make a better case than me. "

Thanks. Actually, you make a perfectly good case for V2G, I just wanted to clarify that V2G isn't necessary in the near term, so that arguments about battery life are unnecessary. OTOH, V2G is likely to be extremely useful, eventually, and I think anyone who argues that batteries aren't going to be much cheaper and better in 15 years than the status quo is on awfully weak ground.

"There is no plan nor regulation that those with an EV must be part of V2G."

Yeah. PG&E says that only a small % of customers on V2G would make a dramatically disproportionate impact. I think people don't realize the proportions of ICE vs central generation: IIRC, the power of the ICE fleet is about 100x the power of central generation.

Hey Nick, quite confident this opportunity will present itself again here. See ya then, it won't be long.


Except that they generally will. Turn's out if you can charge cheaply at night, and then resell a fraction or more back in daytime when you want at a price premium, there is a market of those who want their Volt discharging into the grid for Bozo's air conditioner, or maybe yours or mine. I am not only anticipating the grid will accept V2G as fast as plug-ins become available, I'm actively working on that. But don't take my word, call PJM.

Maybe you'll benefit.

I have to agree with you on this one. I'm not going to be cycling MY battery just to be a good citizen. Now, if everybody gets one, maybe I'll change my mind.

It's bad enough knowing my neighbor's AC is sucking down all my excess PV during 70 degree days!

How did you pay for that PV? There are a lot of neighbors out there paying societial benefit charges to enable many if not the vast majority of PV owners to install and pay down the cost of the system. Are you one?

My first thought was that you got me. But after thinking about it for a while, I've come to the conclusion that each household benefits in some way from the tax system.

For example, I chose to invest in PV and a Prius, for which I did recieve some tax benefit. However, that same neighbor who runs the AC on nice days chose to have 3 times as many children as my wife and I. My tax benefit was upwards of 12000 dollars. Their tax benefit from all there children will be many many times my benefit amount. I might even have a reasonable argument that adding more people to the planet compounds the social burden.

It seems at its limit, your argument suggests all investment in which any tax benefit was received must be considered a public investment and not a private investment. Which pretty much constitutes the entire universe of business and personal spending.

I'll have to think about it some more, but I think your argument implies it's not my investment, which I'm inclined to believe is incorrect.

jteehan - it's not worth thinking about more. I applaud your purchase of PV and prius. But it's the 'my PV' and 'my battery' thing that triggered my response. No one is asking you to subsidize your knucklehead neighbor. And no one is asking you to be a good citizen with your someday purchase of an EV. You would be paid to supply electricity back into the grid. That's all.

"since plug-in hybrids would generally recharge overnight the effect on the grid is not bad at all."

It would help the grid, because it would reduce the difference between peak and night time minimum.

"when plug-ins are tied into the grid via V2G, they provide storage capacity to levelize peak loads"

You don't need V2G, just dynamic charging that absorbs peaks in wind & solar output. That eliminates concerns about battery life.

Nothing is more enraging then having a lifestyle that you feel is your birthright taken away from you. If this happens to a wide amount of people who are currently middle class then our democracy is in grave danger.

Nothing is more enraging then having a lifestyle that you feel is your birthright taken away from you. If this happens to a wide amount of people who are currently middle class then our democracy is in grave danger.

You mean our Plutocracy. I would like to see the world our Founding Fathers envisioned brought back to life. A revolutionary CAN be a true patriot. Let them not steal and defile the words we hold most sacred. Democracy and Patriotism belong to us as well as Liberty and Freedom.

Members of the military as well as the government have taken a sacred oath to defend the Constitution against enemies both foreign and domestic.

Once defending the Constitution becomes a traitorous act, we are all lost.

Another truth respecting the vigilance with which a free people should guard their liberty, that deserves to be carefully observed, is this--that a real tyranny may prevail in a state, while the forms of a free constitution remain.

When defending the Constitution becomes a traitorous act, here. Bear in mind, the Constitution has all sorts of structural problems, at least for those of us not running things.

"The kind of person who calls talkback radio and justifies the use of torture in the interrogation of prisoners holds the double standard in his mind in exactly the same way: without in the least denying the absolute claims of the Christian ethic (love thy neighbour as thyself), such a person approves freeing the hands of the authorities - the army, the secret police - to do whatever may be necessary to protect the public from enemies of the state."

cfm in Gray, ME

When TOD was started 'talk like that*' was shouted down. In the last week, more 'talk that could be called sedition' is a tad more common here.

Observer bias? More voices? Less caring of others to shout such talk down? People exposed to more violent talk in the media and reflecting here?

*talk like that - yea, what a meaingful metric. Leaving flour in a parking lot is a felony charge these days so 'dangerous talk' all depends on who the DA is it seems.

Martin Niemoeller, a priest and Member of the Council of the German Protestant Church, who spent himself 8 years in Nazi concentration camps, said this on the Nazi era: "When the Nazis started arresting the communists, I remained silent, for I was no communist. When they arrested the social democrats, I did not speak out, for I was no social democrat. When they imprisoned the trade unionists, I kept my mouth shut, for I was no trade unionist. When they took the Jews, I said nothing, for I was not Jewish. When they came to take me, there was no one left to speak out."

"When the concentration camp was opened it was the year 1933, and the people who were put in the camps then were Communists. Who cared about them? We knew it, it was printed in the newspapers. Who raised their voice, maybe the Confessing Church? We thought: Communists, those opponents of religion, those enemies of Christians - "should I be my brother's keeper?" Then they got rid of the sick, the so-called incurables. - I remember a conversation I had with a person who claimed to be a Christian. He said: Perhaps it's right, these incurably sick people just cost the state money, they are just a burden to themselves and to others. Isn't it best for all concerned if they are taken out of the middle [of society]? -- Only then did the church as such take note. Then we started talking, until our voices were again silenced in public. Can we say, we aren't guilty/responsible? The persecution of the Jews, the way we treated the occupied countries, or the things in Greece, in Poland, in Czechoslovakia or in Holland, that were written in the newspapers. … I believe, we Confessing-Church-Christians have every reason to say: mea culpa, mea culpa! We can talk ourselves out of it with the excuse that it would have cost me my head if I had spoken out.

We preferred to keep silent. We are certainly not without guilt/fault, and I ask myself again and again, what would have happened, if in the year 1933 or 1934 - there must have been a possibility - 14,000 Protestant pastors and all Protestant communities in Germany had defended the truth until their deaths? If we had said back then, it is not right when Hermann Göring simply puts 100,000 Communists in the concentration camps, in order to let them die. I can imagine that perhaps 30,000 to 40,000 Protestant Christians would have had their heads cut off, but I can also imagine that we would have rescued 30-40 million people."

Another truth respecting the vigilance with which a free people should guard their liberty, that deserves to be carefully observed, is this--that a real tyranny may prevail in a state, while the forms of a free constitution remain.

Great post. Thanks


I can only state the obvious, what's past is gone; whatever we have before us is opportunity.

I could more than cry with you what happened in past. That is all our legacy. Don't pay the price three times...

God let us move on. It's not like there aren't new problems.

This is a little bit off topic but has anyone been following this story? 4.8 billion dollars bet on the stock market losing 30% in the US and EU in 4 weeks , and it is real

It has been leading to some wild speculation.

Perhaps Gonzales would like to retire in Peru with the rest of the clan?

Ah yes...i was typing quickly from memory. Anyways...once Junior Bush arrives...the fortress will all be prepared for him and his friends waiting with champagne glasses full of Don Perignon.

"Hello Gentlemen...Job Well Done!!"

Now that I bothered to do a Google search, came up with even more interesting dirt on this subject, like Bush Senior's relationship with world-class nutcase Reverend Moon:

We’ve been directed to yet another parapolitical theory here at Rigorous Intuition, where it is reported that Rev. Moon bought 600,000 hectares — that’s 1,482,600 acres — in the same place: Chaco, Paraguay.

Another twist: The first story, from Paraguay, apparently refers to the senior George Bush as the owner of the 98.840 acres in Moon’s neighborhood.

Bush 41 was the first bigshot politician to go prancing around with Rev. Moon in public. Especially in South America:

“In the early stages of the Reagan Revolution that embraced the Washington Times and Moon’s anti-Communist movement, it was embarrassing to be caught at a Moon event,” wrote The Gadflyer last year. “Until George H.W. Bush appeared with Moon in 1996, thanking him for a newspaper that ‘brings sanity to Washington.’”

That was while on an extended trip to South America in Moon’s company. A Reuters’ story of Nov 25 of that year describes the former president as “full of praise” for Moon at a banquet in Buenos Aires, toasting him as “the man with the vision.” (And Moon helped Bush out with his own vision thing, paying him $100,000 for the pleasure of his company.)

Bush and Moon then traveled together to Uruguay, “to help him inaugurate a seminary in the capital, Montevideo, to train 4,200 young Japanese women to spread the word of his Church of Unification across Latin America.”

Isn’t that special?


And there's more:

  • The Triple Frontera is essentially a lawless region, controlled by smugglers and bandits.
  • It sits on top of one of the largest unspoiled fresh water aquifers on the planet.
  • The region has a large Arab population, and the US government has repeatedly asserted Al Qaeda has a base there.
  • There is a large build-up of US military presence.

The Argentine film called Sed, Invasión Gota a Gota ("Thirst, Invasion Drop by Drop"), directed by Mausi Martínez, portrays the military of the United States as slowly but steadily increasing its presence in the Triple Frontera (Triple Frontier, the area around the common borders of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil).

The overt reason for the increasing presence of U.S. troops and joint exercises, mainly with Paraguay, is to monitor the large Arab population which resides in the area. However, Martínez alleges that it is the water which brings the Americans to the area, and she fears a subtle takeover before the local governments even realize what is going on.

..... the construction of a U.S. military base near the airport of Mariscal Estigarribia, within 200 km of Argentina and Bolivia and 300 km of Brazil. The airport can receive large planes (B-52, C-130 Hercules, etc.) which the Paraguayan Air Force does not possess.


There is so much more to US involvement in Paraguay. Primarily, Big Agribusiness (Monsanto, Pioneer, Syngenta, Dupont, Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and Bunge. All have become household names in Paraguay.) and using US troops and agritoxins(as bioweapons) to drive the peasants off the land.


All of a sudden you get that aha! moment when it all comes together, and you realize you are living in the modern day version of Nazi Germany, only far worse because it's just begun.

Another truth respecting the vigilance with which a free people should guard their liberty, that deserves to be carefully observed, is this--that a real tyranny may prevail in a state, while the forms of a free constitution remain.

Mission Accomplished !

Been following that since last Wed. If you want I could post links to some message boards where it is/was discussed.

The play was a very complicated one, If nothing happens it was mostly a wash with hedges on both sides.

BUT if the market goes way down, it will be in some SERIOUS money.


Bad credit tops terror as risk to economy

Bad credit has supplanted terrorism as the gravest immediate risk threatening the economy, a key national research group reported Monday.

Borrowers’ withering ability to pay their bills and the subsequent fallout in the credit markets this summer topped the list of short-term risks on peoples’ minds, according to a survey of 258 members conducted by the National Association of Business Economics.

Learsy's post in drumbeat at huffington on rationing and his previous post there on same subject are good reads. Emminent speaker after notable and emminent speaker fail to address the one thing that really will work - rationing; it's always "let the free market decide".

The free market can decide allocation, but it cannot determine scale. If we are to address issues like population and overall energy use, we have to address scale (economic throughput). And that is what rationing is - overall management of scale (and to a degree at least, initial distribution). In many respects, just another name for cap-and-trade. But with hard limits.

If we humans are to survive, we must put hard limits on our physical economic activity.

Efficiency, imperialism, economic thermodynamics - they are all secondary to the initial choice of scale. And our so-called leadership doesn't even have the neurons to recognize the word. To them it is like the shadow of a hawk overhead might be to a chicken; primal fear.

cfm in Gray, ME

For anyone interested in peak oil the event unfolding on Kazakhstan. Linked above.

And here is another link.


Highlight my fear that positive feedback conditions caused by peak oil will cause the oil industry itself to effectively self destruct.

Unless peak oil becomes a open issue and the world works together to move off of oil. I doubt we will see most of the remaining oil produced at a rate that can keep the world economy functioning.

Going into next year these issues will snowball and soon we will probably see significant reduction in overall production and esp exports. Well beyond what projected based on depletion analysis alone. Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.

I don't know that it will self-destruct, but I think Skrebowski is way too optimistic.

Receding horizons applies. Seems like it's always "next year" that wave of new production is going to appear. "Jam tomorrow and jam yesterday - but never jam today."

The problem is the rate at which the horizon is receding is accelerating probably at a exponential rate.

Lets consider another similar problem the housing bubble.
The way to solve it is to simply cut all the home values and home loans back to historical norms that may the rent vs own equation work towards owning. This include tight loan requirements. Only when conditions reach this point will the home market be fixed.

Now look at the oil industry. The answer is similar the industry and its customers the consumer need to get demand reduced and optimized to make the post peak oil economy functional. This of course means a massive campaign on the consumer side to be thrifty with oil so lower cost oil is available to ease the transition off oil. A big part of this is to tame the spiraling price issues and political moves that come from fighting over a now scarce resource.

This communistic approach is not going to happen. So instead the free market approach kicks into gear. The problem in my opinion is simple in this case. Most of the participants in the extraction of scarce resource win more by further limiting the resource. In extreme cases this is a cartel. Like with diamonds. The diamond cartel leveraged the semi-scarcity of diamonds to increase prices via with holding production. The key is you don't need collusion to cause this to happen since the winning move is to produce less today since profits are higher tomorrow.

When this game is played with a intrinsic commodity like oil you get the receding horizon phenomena that seems accepted.

I'm just noting that when its a global situation the rate at which the horizons recede is accelerating.

This in my opinion is why civilizations crash. Once they run into systematic failure even though they have ways to solve their problems they find out that by the time they execute the solutions the problems has expanded in many cases invalidating the attempts to fix it.

The civilization itself remains blind to the problem and in general derides anyone that points out its undergoing a systematic crisis that cannot be fixed by working within the status quo. Regardless collapse is certain and the opinions on the issue are moot.

Its like the debate over global warming our opinions are no longer relevant nor are we capable of preventing the process. The same will happen with peak oil. I'm actually amazed at how complex systems can undergo this sort of collapse. I've never really understood how extinctions take place for species that are distributed over a wide area since micro-climates always exist that would ensure survival until expansion could happen again. But what happens is the isolated populations get hit with repeated secondary extinction events with smaller and smaller changes capable of destroying a species. I suspect disease and inbreeding are the prime suspects. The key is that fragmentation is the harbinger of a mass extinction event.

What happens and the oil industry is following the same path is initially you get fragmentation and isolation and it quits working together. This is the growing divide between the governments of oil producing nations and the major oil companies.

This divide cuts access to technology to increase oil production. As declines set in the national companies need more and more money and support reduced exports to optimize prices and reduced payments to contractors. This starts the vicious cycle and is exactly where we are right now. Political/Military moves further reduce output.

The problem is almost all the actions of the players in the oil industry now result in even less oil produced and higher production costs for oil.

Exhibit A on That: KSA just announced that it is increasing its oil security force by 700% to 35,000 troops. WHY NOW?!? Because they know they have peaked and oil is going to be VERY valuable in the near future so they will need a sizable force to protect their asses. THe attacks on pipelines around the world was not lost on them. They will soon be Target Number One ffor all the jihadists in the world. Take out KSA and the west will fall.

IMO we are going to be in a world of shit come christmas...

This actually highlights the critical role fragmentation plays in collapse. As long as their was plenty of oil the Middle East although a powder keg was reasonably stable. As it becomes clear that the flow of oil and money is no longer expanding the underlying tensions begin to result in overt problems. This fragmentation is a critical component since it both results in above ground events that cause problems and magnifies the effects.

When we had plenty of other sources of oil outside of KSA and attack on KSA would have been serious but not "life threatening" now we face a ever increasing number of minor events that threaten to snowball into major issues. The critical point is fragmentation/isolation has allowed single points of failure to become critical.

Looking back this means that the moment the oil industry was divided because of national interests it was certain that we would reach this point. Its been building for a long time. So once you realize that fragmentation is the key to eventual collapse you can see that the seeds for the destruction of the oil industry were sown a long time ago.

With the current financial market turmoil, you'd think producing countries would have a "eureka!" moment. You'd think they'd say to themselves;

"just a minute, we're flogging our valuable produce in return for paper currency which is produced from thin air. And because we've got more of this paper than we can convert into useful imported products, we're having to recycle the surplus paper back to those that gave it to us, where they add to our unneeded surplus paper with interest.

Are we freaking mad, trading our valuable product for junk paper we don't need? Why don't we get rid of the surplus junk paper and sell less produce which we then keep for our own future use? In doing so we also insulate ourselves from the external risk and toxicity of the global financial market run by Walter Mitty economists.

In fact, perhaps we should trade our valuable produce for influence instead of an increasingly worthless paper currency.

Halt that shipment!"

Triumvirate of collapse - Economy, Ecosystem, Energy

You know, 20 billion in F-16s and such comes out to 300 million barrels, or about a years worth of imports.

And don't forget all those 747s, GE Plastics for 10 billion, etc.

At least KSA is getting real stuff for their oil.

The problem is the rate at which the horizon is receding is accelerating probably at a exponential rate.

Memmel, interesting, we're going deep philosophy here.

Strictly speaking. your run-of-the-mill pot-of-gold horizon cannot recede at accelerating rates. That would always be a mere illusion caused by the fact that if you try to move towards it faster, it will always stay at equal distance, more or less analogous to the speed of light being constant no matter how fast you go.

However, in space this is not the case. There we could define a sort of corrolary, and coin it the Law of Receding Event Horizons. Event horizons are not only present around black holes, indeed the largest one is at the far edges of the expanding universe. And this expansion indeed accelerates at an exponential rate.

And of course, behind an event horizon lie only things that you will never be able to see or touch or reach, because of constraints laid out in the laws of physics. Not bad at all as a thought experiment.

The resemblance between housing and the oil industry is a good point, as is your reasoning why civilizations crash. It would be good for many people who dream of solutions that are feasible on paper to realize that we don't live on paper.

I'm using it in the sense that at peak we claim that we have 50% of the oil left to extract. The reality is we will probably never extract the bulk of this oil. You are probably explaining it better than I am. It will always exist beyond a event horizon and we will never make it. I'd guess we will be lucky too extract 10% of the remaining oil. Of of that percentage maybe a few percent with our current fairly open global economy. Lenan's drumbeat posts show that the oil industry is increasingly facing problems that result in production that is less that that possible even given depletion. Its almost like time travel where you go back into the past and kill your Grandfather. Their seems to be a a inexorable law that once large complex systems peak they crash. This is why black holes analogies are so useful. Since they represent the purist physical example of this idea. I used the melting arctic as and example but it seems that all complex systems have this sort of destructive collapse. Indeed with dark energy we are finding that our own universe seems to have a built in self destruct system.

Maybe its a law of thermodynamics your can only beat entropy and increase order by excepting your own destruction at a later date. Thus systems that buck thermo and create increased order must have a catastrophic collapse mode that will be triggered eventually. Consider this a all crystals have the same flaw i.e planes of cleavage and a single crystal can only grow so large before the shear weight of the crystal will cause cleavage if no other force acts before. Thus complex ordered systems from the simplest i.e crystals up are subject to fragmentation and collapse by their very nature. Its the price you pay for order.

To expect our oil based society to be immune seems far fetched to me.

Here is my attempt to build a simple model that demonstrates how extraction capability can collapse so that resource gets left behind:



Haven't seen you in a bit. I posted your equation and graph for the Law of Receding Horizons in the article Chris Nelder and I wrote Friday, Tar Sands: The Oil Junkie's Last Fix, Part 1.

Now I get lots of questions once more for a narrower and more scientific definition, and I would invite you, again, and others, to suggest ways that this could be done. I don't know if you've read memmel's commenta above, but they made me think of the Law of Receding Event Horizons, which should be a whole additional concept. The longer you wait, the harder it gets, something like that.

All suggestions can be sent to Stoneleigh at TOD:Canada: stoneleigh2006 at msn dot com

I'd think its more like terminal velocity. So given increasing air resistance ( dropping into a denser atmosphere ) a object ends up at a terminal velocity. This it can no longer accelerate even though its in a constant acceleration field gravity. In our case not only is the term resistive it also has a positive component that overcomes the gravity and eventually reverses the direction of the object i.e the ability to accelerate also decreases. Maybe this is one force.

A crash scenario is saying that the system also has a sort of laminar flow boundary condition that could also be crossed under extreme conditions. Or maybe you could call it a triple point. The few complex systems that don't cross this condition decay nicely most cross.

Now as far as the models go they get hideously complex and the problem is terms that may be small suffer from undamped positive feedback conditions and thus can grow in strength. This sudden appearance of previously ignored terms is what makes these problems intractable.

For oil WT export land is case in point. If we had continued growing oil prices would have remained low and economic growth in exporting countries would not have exploded increasing internal use. Its obvious once someone points it out but its just not something people would have foreseen.
The problem thats causing me problems is this. And their seem to be a lot of potential exploding terms lurking as oil gets tighter.

Btw this is what happened with the Arctic Ice a large number of un-modeled terms blew up. If you add them in then the system collapse is only limited by the speed of the physical process causing collapse. I.e rate water melts or ice is abraded via grinding etc. These are "realtime" rates not multi-year. In a sense these are hidden variables and we don't see them till its "too late". The model is a bunch of exponentials with different decay rates i.e half lives. But as you sum them you get a cliff so ...
And you really only get a little bit of warning right before you fall off the edge.

Your models are on the right track but I don't think you realize how many of these negative terms exist and how fast they increase. I thought of a bunch and its just plain scary how damned many negative terms start positive feed back post global peak.

Now it seems to me that the world coming to a end for the American middle class or suburbia is effectively at hand now. For the whole world we probably have five years maybe ?

The problem is we don't know what the effect of the collapse of suburbia will have so. Sure it will be hard on soccer moms but killing the pig that is the American middle class will be a good thing TM for the world ( maybe :)

Anyway the point is collapses is different for different parts of the world. Many parts of the third world are already y well into collapse. The richest may not ever really feel collapses. So this "collapse" is not unified but follows fragmentation (fractal ?) dynamics.

In closing its both to hard to model and at the same time has a simple answer if you willing to not try to nail when exactly. Even with your model you can see we will be in deep dodo ten years from now. Export land does not give us ten years put yours and export together and you see where I'm leaning toward 5 years for the world and a few years for the American Middle class.

Simple models are easier to understand! And anyway complex models are generally built up by combining lots of simple models. Until you understand the simple models, you're just fooling yourself with the complex models.

Another problem with complex models is that they have so many parameters that they lose any predictive power. The number of parameters needs to stay (considerably) smaller than the data you're fitting to. If you can fit lots of history with not so many parameters, then maybe the extrapolation into the future is meaningful.

To improve confidence in the extrapoltion, one can decrease the number of parameters, or increase the amount of data. For example, one could add production data for steel and concrete along with petroleum, etc.

But back to simple models....

Another thought on "receding horizons". As I understand what you're getting at with the phrase, it's that increasing energy costs drive up the prices of all sorts of commodities, which then make energy production just that much more expensive.

This looks like the classic infinite series (1/r) + (1/r**2) + (1/r**3) + ...

Another way to look at this:

Suppose producing a barrel of oil costs B=L1+M, something like Labor plus Materials. Suppose, furthermore, that M=L2+rB. I.e. the amount of material consumed in producing a barrel of oil cost some fraction r of a barrel of oil to produce.

This simple system of two equations can be solved:




That 1/(1-r) factor is the sum of the infinite series. It's just like the way money multiplies in fractional reserve banking. Except of course here it is costs that are multiplying!


This is much better. Right it sums to a simple solution and your right its effectively the inverse of fractional banking.

You can make it complex trying to equate to real issues.
But you see my point its effectively a cliff.

This is a nice approach because the issue is exactly the same problem you have with velocity of money and fractional banking. People have to spend like mad to make fractional banking work If people save and don't spend then fractional banking does not do you any good since your reserves simply increase and no-one borrows the money.

I think a lot of people don't realize its critical for banks to lend every penny they can to maximize the leverage of fractional banking.

You see what happens when it works int reverse its really nasty. What we don't know is the velocity of the oil economy and thats the critical factor for figuring out when the crash will happen. But since it closely resembles a economic crash a fast crash seems to be the result.


Hmm this is kinda cool it works for economic crashes also.
Its just the fractional banking system running in reverse.

Cool and thanks again.

The reason its a lot faster in reverse is the same for economics. During the growth phase debts are taken on to be paid out over a number of years 30 is the norm for home loans but when you default the loss is immediate you don't get 30 years to right off the loan. ( Japan tried)

The same for the oil industry its the catastrophic events shortages canceled programs etc that immediately wipe a lot of previous investments or push the time the oil is extracted into the future. In effect whats happening is the when of extraction is being canceled by above ground economic issues. Which seem to work as you say like fractional banking in reverse. Eventually you get this sort of cascading defaults that move the when out to effectively never. This the receding horizons view.

For example a lot of people defaulting on home loans now probably will never own a home again by the time they recover the economy will be to bad. This is kinda what happened in the Great Depression people with jobs generally never made enough to buy houses even though house prices dropped dramatically wages dropped faster.

So receding horizons is just a way to say more and more oil extraction projects will be canceled because of above ground factors and the more expensive oil gets the more projects will be canceled since the oil industry needs cheap oil and stable economic conditions to function. These do not hold in and expensive oil and expensive extraction environment.

As I understand what you're getting at with the phrase, it's that increasing energy costs drive up the prices of all sorts of commodities, which then make energy production just that much more expensive.

That is the basis, yes, and your equations go a long way there.
I should add that I think the Law applies both to energy and to finance issues.

Also, scale seems to be crucial. Or more precise, scale over time. You can make one specimen of something, but when you decide that its success means you have to make 1000 of it tomorrow morning, you will find all kinds of unexpected problems popping up.

I was thinking about r because that is where the real cliff comes in. As r gets closer to 1, the cost of oil will explode. So what changes r?

It's really a combination of the intensities of how much material is required to produce oil, and how much oil gets used to produce material. These intensities have to do with the production processes we use, or are forced to use.

It seems clear that our petroleum production processes are changing. We are stuck using more equipment, more materials, to produce oil. Sometimes the oil is deeper, or in a more remote location, or is some inferior grade. Anyway, the extra equipment required means that r is increasing over time.

We have more control over how much oil we use to produce food, concrete, steel, etc., i.e. the equipment we use. However there is a lot of inertia here. The ready availabiity of oil has gotten us into the habit of using production processes that use lots of oil.

This is a bit tricky - mostly our processes are just energy intensive, or at the very least it is reasonably easy to switch in natural gas as a feedstock. Is this kind of analysis best performed in terms of fossil fuels, or hydrocarbon fossil fuels, or liquid hydrocarbon fossil fuels, or do we need a more complex analysis that includes multiple categories at the same time?

Seems clear that we now have very energy intensive methods to produce equipment, and this drives up r. To what extent, and how quickly, can we reduce the energy/petroleum intensities of these production processes? One limiting factor would be any scarcity in raw materials that means we have to search wider and dig deeper to find the materials. The recent phosphate discussions touched on this possibility.

Anyway, it seems important to look at what drives r up and down, in order to see how the end price of petroleum could get multiplied.


After reading it yet another time, I think we're close. There's one thing that keeps bugging me, and I think it should be easy to solve, though not necessarily for me.

Is there a way you can input one more variable into the equation(s), like a [c], for the cost of the barrel of oil? I think it should show that it's not true that as the price per barrel rises, other energy forms become more profitable, that you run into a "breaking point".

That, I think, would cover the two essentials: the cost in both energy and in price.

In essence, while you correctly state that the equation describes sort of "the opposite" of fractional banking, you'd slip the opposite of the opposite right back in.

These things can get complicated in a hurry! I haven't worked through this carefully, but my gut feel is that maybe three levels of analysis would be useful...

The very simple linear model I proposed can easily be extended to any number of price variables. All the different parameters - how much of material X is needed to produce a unit of material Y - these form a matrix, and the solution to the problem involves forming the inverse of the matrix. These wierd multiplying effects are just how the elements in the inverse of a matrix vary with whatever element in the original matrix.

But this simple model doesn't involve any trade-offs or choices, like switching to a different energy source if the first one gets too expensive. The simplest way to formulate that would be a linear programming model. This involves some convex polyhedron, where the optimum solution will walk along the edges from vertex to vertex as the parameters change.

Then the next model would be some kind of non-linear optimization model. Basically these are just the supply-demand curves discussed by that economist a week or two ago, except of course in the real world they need to be multi-dimensional. The non-linear approach opens up the interior of the polyhedron - e.g. it might make sense to use a mix of coal and petroleum as an energy source, because e.g. the first N tons of coal are cheaper than the petroleum, but after that the price goes up because maybe you have to start pulling it in from a greater distance. So you use up all the cheap coal and use petroleum for the rest of your needs.

Anyway all this must be quite routine engineering optimization or microeconomics or whatever. My experience with this sort of thing has been more to write efficient algorithms that can solve problems quickly, when one is confronted by bucket-loads of simple problems. Here (global petroleum production) we really just have one monster problem and we want to study it quite carefully.

One fellow I worked with left that job and went to work at an oil refinery. Tweaking all the little knobs in a refinery to maximize profit, that is a small problem very much like the global problem we are discussing.

Every time I get into this stuff, I end up buying a few more big thick books and then I get bogged down on page 5 or page 3!

The above simplification is interesting, but what we are dealing with is a nonlinear problem in time.

This model which I've been tossing around is not yet complete, and quite complex, but so far, regarding the costs of production of oil ...

The cost of producing oil, O, at time t, represented by O t, is the sum of costs of energy expenditure, E(O), and physical resources, R(O), both at time t-1, represented by E(O) t-1 and R(O) t-1.

O t = E(O) t-1 + R(O) t-1

The cost of energy expenditure for producing oil at time t, E(O) t, is defined as the sum of the costs of individual energy types expended toward oil production, uranium (u), coal (c), hydro (h), geothermal (g), natural gas (n), solar (s), manpower (m), and oil (o).

h(O) t would represent the amount of hydroelectric energy devoted to oil production at time t.

E(O) t = u(O) t + c(O) t + h(O) t + g(O) t + n(O) t + s(O) t + m(O) t + o(O) t

O t is the cost of oil produced at time t, o(O) t is the cost of the oil at time t that goes into producing oil at time t+1, O t+1.

The cost of resources at time t that go into producing a barrel of oil, R(O) t, are the costs of the components at time t. We're running out of letters, but we would need to represent steel (z), copper (p), aluminum (a), water (w), plastic (l), and several others to arrive at something like:

R(O) t = z(O) t + p(O) t + a(O) t + w(O) t + l(O) t + ...

The cost of oil produced at time t, O t, will be used for the production costs of all the other necessary components:

O t = o(U) t + o(C) t + o(H) t + o(G) t + o(N) t + o(S) t + o(M) t + o(O) t + o(Z) t + o(P) t + o(A) t + o(W) t + o(L) t + ...

Similar models exist for the cost of producing uranium, U, or coal (C), or solar (S), or steel (Z).

I'm not sure I like the notation because I keep wanting to think "expected value of x" when I see E(x). Still some things to hammer out, some more holes to fill in, like impacts of technology (which increases rate of use much faster than it increases total amount recoverable), limited resources, Liebig minimums, environmental shocks, specific infrastructure limitations, population effects.

But that's the way it generally transpires.

Thinking that is always both linear and rational is part of the problem, because the world isn't always linear and people aren't always rational. Aside from this model being obviously nonlinear, it's also probably irrational for me to expect any positive response to this post. :)

edit: positive; I knew I forgot something

RE The Law of Receding Horizons (LRH)

It seems like in many commodities (and trained labor) we are experiencing a version of Robert Rapier's 'Peak Lite.' We may be extracting and refining greater quantities of raw materials but the economy of the planet is growing so fast that demand is constantly bumping its head on a limited supply curve for essentials like iron, copper, aluminum etc.

Of course the peak or 'Peak Lite' of extraction of energy resources exacerbates this problem since energy is required for all other extractive industries. You see extractive industries playing a global tap-dancing game trying to balance the location of ore resources with the location of energy resources. Anyone remember from grammar school why the steel mills were located near the coal mines rather than near the iron mines?

The objection to LRH mainly hinges on the fact that commodities have traditionally gone through many boom/bust cycles and 'why should this be any different' (Yergin holds such a view on oil). I don't have the time or desire to slog through an analysis, but I would bet money that there have been no extended periods of time with increasing energy prices and dropping commodity prices. This, in a nutshell, is why things are different this time. Peak Oil, Peak Energy, Peak resource extraction.

For anyone interested in peak oil...

Very droll, memmel.

A good friend of mine reminded me that today is the anniversary of Edwin Drake drilling the first commercial oil well in Titusville, PA in 1859.

It's interesting that Drake, who started commercial oil drilling, died poor due to bad business decisions and not obtaining patents on his drilling inventions.


Just a heads up as we ponder the decline of oil, it's interesting to consider how it all started.

Interestingly, after all this time, oil production in PA is actually increasing at the moment, albeit from a very small minimum level:


Not trying to make any particular larger point, more curious what is driving this increase.

Probably just higher prices. PA was exploited so early that there's probably still a lot of oil there that can be extracted using newer technology. It wasn't worth it when there were bigger and better prospects elsewhere, but now it is.

Does anyone have information on how Viet Nam intends to tap "methane hydrates?" http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90778/6248633.html

This was posted without comment in the DrumBeat. My understanding is that the best engineering minds in USA and Europe are struggling with any practical exploitation of this potential resource.

"...how Viet Nam intends to tap "methane hydrates?"

By putting out a press release on methane hydrates and then burning said press release for energy.


Here is the key phrase in the press release:

Vietnam's Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has initiated a project to research this new kind of energy,

Yeah, let's initiate a lot of research about this new kind of energy. Perhaps we will find a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow, but not bloody likely.

The idea that the ministry thinks it is a "new kind of energy" is in itself very telling. It's methane, a very old kind of energy. It is just locked up in chunks of ice, buried under the sea floor here and there. No one has ever figured out an economical way to harvest them however. And Vietnam, in my opinion anyway, is the most unlikely candidate to do so.

Ron Patterson

Todays Wall Street Journal has a whole section devoted to energy efficiency by companies, the last half of the section is the most interesting. It is devoted to problems of finding new sources of oil and the geopolitical situation in the mid-east, it's a good read.

Resource war simulation coming to a store near you in 2008:

High Definition version:

Game Play


Awesome. The trailer actually brought a tear to my eye. One difference, I think we will be in that depression within a year. Since the Ponzi debt securitization scam is already unwinding, I can't see us making it another year before it all unravels.

Another truth respecting the vigilance with which a free people should guard their liberty, that deserves to be carefully observed, is this--that a real tyranny may prevail in a state, while the forms of a free constitution remain.

Wouldn't it be ironic if nobody could afford to buy the game because what the game predicts came just a little bit earlier than imagined?

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

I have a lovely example of how the media fails to put two-and-two together:

There's a total eclipse of the moon tonight. Our local (Boston) weather gal at noon went into the details of what we can see at what time around here, the lovely coppery color and all that.

Here's the problem: the partial eclipse starts at 4:51 AM. I looked up the moonset time around here: 4:51 AM. (I don't think I'll bother to get up early as she suggested)

Fear thee not. There's another one in Feb. 2008, only a few months' hence. That one will be better for east coasters. IIRC, it should be at its best around 10pm EST.

This one might still be worth a look, though, interrupted by moonset as it will be.

You'll enjoy this one:


Scroll down a little and watch the video on the right, it's a hoot! (You can't click to replay like it says, you have to reload the page...)

Where are they all going???

Unfortunatley, this is exactly what tens of millions of people now expect their future will be. Including many who run this country. Scares the "bejesus" outta me!

Somebody posted this to me on Silicon Investor. Sent to him by a friend of his...

Hello to all,

I am sorry for this mass email, but I see no other way. Thank you all for your enquiries...I am alive...My sweet home town Mahahual isn't anymore though...

As I assume you all know, hurricane Dean came in with a vengeance and it went right smack in the middle of my home town, Mahahual.

Not everybody knows this little piece of paradise, but for those who do, they can imagine the damage after (the eye of) a category 5 hurricane in Mahahual. It's almost impossible to recognize where you are in town after the distruction. Only a few left-over concrete buildings give some sense of direction...Most buildings in Mahahual were small wooden houses and shops, and they have either been blown away or washed away or a combination of both. I have attached a few pictures of the distuction, and for those who need more in order to become convinced that we need help, I refer to my website www.nomaddivers.com (i quickly tried to put up some pictures from 'before' and 'after' to show the difference to those who are unfamiliar with my home town). There's another link on my website too to yahoo photos, which tells the tale too, and another one with pics is www.playa.info.

From the new light house all down the town of Mahahual, it is no longer Mahahual, everything is gone! Our friends and family in Mahahual, Luna De Plata, Cueva Del Lobo, Blue Iguana, Blue Ocean Safari, Dreamtime to name a few, are gone. The cruiseship port is completely ruined, and from a lot of other places, we don't know what the damage is, because it's inaccessible (what does that tell us...).

Now we are in dire need of supplies, we need generators, water, food, clothing, lamps, torches, flash lights, trash bags, clothes, tents, beds, etc, etc, etc.... Well we need everything!!!! Lots of people are homeless, and all of us have lost our jobs! (everybody´s job in town evolved somehow around the cruiseships coming in...).

If you know of any organizations or if you are willing to provide us with the much needed assistance we the community of Mahahual need, Please, please, please Help. If you can pass the word, and if you can help us in campaigning in rebuilding our private paradise, please help.

I am in Playa del Carmen right now to get the word out to the world that we need help, and am returning tomorrow to Mahahual (where I of course don't have internet, phone, or anything). I will get back to you as soon as I can. In the meantime, please help!

Shanghai's booming subway

China seems little hindered by the pressures that plague transit projects in the West. ...

In China, labor is cheap, the land belongs to the government, air pollution is the primary environmental concern, and political pressure moves largely in one direction -- from the Communist Party leadership on down. ...

At the risk of only slight oversimplification, the system works like this: Planners draw subway lines on a map. Party officials approve them. Construction begins. If anything is in the way, it is moved. If they need to, Chinese planners "just move 10,000 people out of the way ... They don't have hearings."

... Plans call for a system that, by about 2020, would resemble a spaghetti bowl, with 22 lines and hundreds of stations. The system would stretch about 560 miles and serve more than 12 million people a day.

No subway system in the world comes close to that.

"Yes, we were quite forward-thinking," said Xu, the city planner. "Because our aim, our target, was pretty clear. Shanghai cannot lag behind forever. If you don't have the hope, the dream, you cannot have city planning.

"We have no other option. We will pass away, but Shanghai will still be here."

"We have no other option. We will pass away, but Shanghai will still be here."

I'd beg to differ. Shanghai is one of the world's most low-lying cities. If sea levels rise as anticipated, you'll need a submarine to get around, not a subway system.

I have been following China, and Shanghai in particular, for a number of years (since Line #1 started construction) but not intensely.

About 2 years ago, in response to rising oil prices and "geopolitical concerns", they expanded their 15 line plan to 17 lines and added several km onto previously planned lines.,

It is hard to follow due to limited and conflicting information on future plans. I am glad to see that they are now talking about 22 lines (AFAIK 5 are open today, six more under construction (along with extensions to the open 5) and three of the six lines will open at least part of the line this year).

Last detailed info I had was plans for 11 subway lines and 5 Light Rail Lines (elevated or surface) plus a mag-lev line. One line "disappeared" when an extension joined it to another line, creating a long subway line.


I don't read Chinese, but I can read maps. :-)

One thing interesting I note from the Shanghai map is that one of the lines rings the city. That is a feature you don't see on many systems, but it makes a good deal of sense and I have been surprised that it was not more common. If one is living in one outlying neighborhood and needs to travel to another outlying neighborhood, it eliminates the need to travel downtown to change lines, and thus also reduces passenger volumes downtown. It also makes for a more resilliant system, giving passengers some alternative routes if their preferred one goes offline.

Yes, the ring subway is partially open today and all 360 degrees should be open by the end of this year. I fear that it will not have enough capacity when all 22 lines are open though.

However, there are a large number of other potential "shortcut transfers" available in the system to avoid going to the central transfer point.

I think the DC system is superior in transfer points, creating 3 major transfer points rather than a single central point.

DC still needs a ring route. The Purple Line proposed for Maryland will cover the northern third of the system.

One can dream of a system like Washington DC for Los Angeles, but what could a Shanghai like system look like in LA ? What would be the impact ?

Better than Best Hopes,


From: http://www.energybulletin.net/33800.html

Can American government survive "peak oil"?
Jay Hanson, Killer Ape-Peak Oil group
Starting on Sept 1, I will lead a moderated group discussion on the how American government really works, "essence" of politics, money and the economy. Posters must be familiar with "peak oil", basic thermodynamics and evolution theory.

Is "the economy" really efficient?

What precisely IS money and what function does "the economy" actually serve in liberal democracies?

Recently there has been some talk of a "new economics", but do we really need a new economics? Perhaps we need a "new politics" instead?

What's the difference?

Is World War Three inevitable?

If you or you friends would like to participate, register at

Jay Hanson -- www.warsocialism.com

Hanson is a fascinating dude. His concept of "war socialism" is pretty wild and vague, though. He seems to advocate scrapping democracy but I can't readily identify what his "new system of government" is. He does outline some of its policies, however.

The politics and people of peak oil intrigue me as much as the issue itself.

Things are getting curiouser and curiouser.

It's possible he's advocating totalitarian rule by scientists:

Authority: Goals (or ideals) are not produced by a consensus of the governed, rather a qualified authority determines goals. For example, physical goals for sustainable development must come from “scientific” authority – because no one else knows what they must be.

In principle, the global commons can only be managed at the global level by people who understand the physical systems involved: scientists.


Anyhow, Jeff Vail definitely has competition in the radical peak oil politics department.

Interesting stuff... I'm glad that Hanson is writing a bit more publicly again. Nice to see people willing to propose solutions that haven't already been vetted by the various normative processes! I don't particularly like the top-down tone of his solutions, but it's nice to see someone willing to list "gardening" as a way to address global problems, and a discussion that at least aims to uncover root causes is always welcome...

I agree. Gardening is the main thing. That will solve it.

Whether one lives under the dictatorship of some form of 'scientific' oligarchy or as a member of a primitive agrarian commune....those are the trivial details. ;-)

Actually, I think it is quite critical. If you're only willing to take a superficial glance at it, then sure, it sounds silly to discuss gardening when there are "important" geopolitical problems that take priority. However, anyone with a rudimentary understanding of political anthropology understands that mode of production--the source and manner of food and energy production--is A key, arguably THE key determinant of broader geopolitical structures. History validates this, everywhere from ancient Egypt to modern America--just read Diamond's "Collapse," or Sahlins "Stone Age Economics." Raising the issue of "gardening" is at least an effort to address this fundamental, structural issue. I don't think that anyone has claimed it is a total panacea, but I can't think of a single, equally implementable strategy that would have a greater beneficial effect. Can you?

Il faut cultiver notre jardin.

I presume that in general such as are concerned in public affairs sometimes come to a miserable end; and that they deserve it: but I never inquire what is doing at Constantinople; I am contented with sending thither the produce of my garden, which I cultivate with my own hands."

"I have no more than twenty acres of ground," he replied, "the whole of which I cultivate myself with the help of my children; and our labor keeps off from us three great evils-idleness, vice, and want."

For those of you who are more recent products of the US public education system, the quote is from Voltaire's Candide.

I can't think of a single, equally implementable strategy that would have a greater beneficial effect. Can you?

Yes. How about much stricter CAFE standards and a floor under fuel prices?

There's an idea for an analytical piece at TOD. Pros and cons for reducing oil dependency: strict CAFE standards vs. growing beans and potatoes in your front yard!!!

Seriously, which would help us more?

I have some familiarity with anthropology and, Jeff, there is no widely subscribed-to school of energy determinism. Most anthropologists would fall off their chairs laughing at the thought. It's too easy to cite counter examples.

Yes, modes of energy production are a factor. Even a big one. But there are many others. Another big one is the precise complex history and cultural resources of a particular community. As a law student you are currently submerged in one aspect of these.

What I'm saying here is that much of what is possible for a society is possible because of what is already in its conceptual toolkit and shared memory -- dormant or active. This heritage, far from being simply a function of its energy production methods, accreted over long periods with many twists and turns under the influence of multiple factors (a good number of which are essentially random events).

I'm not suggesting "energy determinism," though that's a nice straw-man argument to knock over (though, I should point out, claiming that it's "easy to cite counter-examples" as you say is not the same as actually citing counter-examples! Never a good day when the straw man is left standing...). Rather, it's structural determinism--a structure predicated on perpetual growth in a world of finite resources leads to a determined result (I'll be curious to see how you re-tool that one to claim that it isn't so). Improvements in CAFE, though something I advocate, only act as a stop gap--it certainly doesn't address our perpetual growth issues. Efficiency measures can't provide a "solution" to the growth problem because the amount of efficiency improvement possible is fundamentally limited by thermodynamics.

Hierarchal economies that distribute surplus production, such as our current food distribution system, are predicated on growth. Moving toward self-sufficiency is one way to address that most fundamental of problems, our dependence on growth as the engine of our politico-economic system. CAFE standards don't address this structural dependence on growth. Not to mention that CAFE standards may not even have much of their near-term desired effect (see my article on the Shadow Rebound Effect).

Here's the nub, to quote you:

Rather, it's structural determinism--a structure predicated on perpetual growth in a world of finite resources leads to a determined result.

Hierarchal economies that distribute surplus production, such as our current food distribution system, are predicated on growth.

This I don't buy. ie. the idea that our system can't live without the entire thing growing.

Of course, we know it can survive recessionary episodes and even deep depressions. We also know that other economies such as Japan's can handle stagnation for some time without much pain. (I have friends that lived there during the '90s).

So, why not convince me? ie. Provide me with a reading list from the literature of political anthropology or wherever, where this is established. But I do need references to serious scholarship. Ready access to university libraries is not a problem, so there isn't much I can't track down.

Here's a bit of a counter reference....

Tainter, in his article, Problem Solving: Complexity, History, Sustainability (2000) mentions 2 examples of complex entities that proved to have the capacity to deliberately simplify in tough times: the Byzantine Empire and American corporations.

The Byzantine Model. The institution, perhaps no longer having sufficient resources to increase complexity, deliberately simplifies. Costs are greatly reduced and, perhaps more importantly, the productive system is enhanced. It is a strategy that in the Byzantine case allowed for fiscal recovery and eventually for expansion. This is also the strategy employed by many American firms over the past 20 years, where simplification of management and elimination of costs contributed to competition and recovery.

He brings up the same point again here in an audio commentary:


This I don't buy. ie. the idea that our system can't live without the entire thing growing.....Of course, we know it can survive recessionary episodes and even deep depressions.

Errr, "The system" that was in place before a recession or depression did not survive. It was 'replaced' with 'a different' system.

Some people who were 'on top' in 'the old system' were no longer on top. A few in middle gained rainking, many more were lower, and some where dead once 'the new system' was in place.

"the system" as exists now will change. The question becomes - will you be crushed when the system shifts, end up better or worse off.

(And in the end - you will be dead.)


Seriously Asebius?

Growing one's own food. Just TRY to think about the implications of that. CAFE standards are a band-aid. Producing your own food is a cure.

CAFE standards increase efficiency. The implications of that have been discussed here often. Efficiency is the road to *you know where*. And a floor under fuel prices? I know what you're *attempting* with such a proposal, but this will *solve peak oil*?


If we all grew our own food, overnight, (unrealsitic as that may be) peak oil would be a distant concern.

If we all grew our own food, overnight, (unrealsitic as that may be) peak oil would be a distant concern.

Land (for the task) VS people with a taxing matrix slapped on top - its not gonna happen.

If we all grew are own food, Big Agribusiness would put a stop to it.

His "solution" is no solution at all. Scientists got us into this mess affter all. I don't trust them to get us out of it.

Where were all the scientists telling us that we can't rely on oil for running the world? The scientists of ALL people should have known what happens when you run the world on non-renewables and raised the red flag decades ago when something could have been done. NOPE, they just kept cashing their checks. Its too late now and many of these scientists are doomed as well

Even if does not directly lead to a solution, it is worthwhile plowing over again through some of the basics of our current way of existing.

Maybe there is some innate assumption that we fail to see and appreciate? Like in Diamond's Collapse where the Nordic inhabitants of Greenland failed to see that they were surrounded by a sea full of seafood? (And so they starved.)

Our current system relies on the wisdom/madness of the crowds/mobs to establish a "price" signal that drives all our other activities. The word "market" is used as a self aggrandizing term for the wise/mad crowd/mob that sets the price. Are there perhaps alternate ways in which we can account for our activities besides the mob-established price alone? Hanson's Emergy measure seems to be an interesting idea. What if we got taxed on the basis of how much Emergy per person we consumed? What would that do to the way we run our affairs?

Hanson's Emergy measure seems to be an interesting idea.

Hanson did not create eMergy - that idea is the work of (the late) Howard Odom.


sometimes i cannot tell sarcasm in comments - so don't know

but how exactly did scientists get us into this mess after all?

and i have been hearing quite clearly, in mainstream scientific publications, since i was at school in the '80s, scientists clearly raising the flags on resource depletion, on oil running out - shit so far as I was exposed to it Global Warming was clearly accepted as a problem during the my school days - only politicians, big business and the gullible idiots that love to take any reason NOT to believe scientists that they are given and run with it (often largely because they weren't good at science when they were at school and love to find any validation that it doesn't matter) actually believed (or at least argued) otherwise

and as for cashing their checks...? do you have a clue what a scientist makes graduating university and going into basic scientific research? they do it for the passion not for the money believe me...

so if sarcasm, it'd help if you were clearer, if sincere - you paint a picture bizarrely disconnected from the facts

(unless you are going to argue that all progress led us to this stage, progress is largely the result of scientific advances, like sanitation and healthcare, therefore all science is to blame... which is a trivial argument)
When no-one around you understands
start your own revolution
and cut out the middle man

Scientists got us into this mess affter all. I don't trust them to get us out of it.

VS who do you trust? MBA's? Congress(wo)men? Sports stars? Earl? Oh, oh - Economists?

Not all of what is studied under the scientific method can be 'blamed' for getting us "into this mess" - How have, say Marine biologists been 'responsible' for "this mess"?

Hanson is calling for a common interest government in the US that would replace the current market-driven paradigm and enable us to survive on about 90% less energy. Essentially all food and health care would be provided free of charge and most people would no longer need to work and earn a paycheck to survive. His program is for the USA only, everyone else is on their own.

He doesn't think it will work because it goes against all the genetic drives that we've evolved with. But it's the only thing that could possibly save us from all out nuclear war and the horrible deaths of billions.

"qualified authority"

Back to Plato and Aristotle, eh? Exactly who will do the qualifying? No, I'm with Jeff - to the gardens!

cfm in Gray, ME

Is it a conspiracy, or just 'doing good business'?


"Operation Iraqi Freedom, it turns out, was never a war against Saddam ­Hussein's Iraq. It was an invasion of the federal budget, and no occupying force in history has ever been this efficient."

i do tend to have problems with arguments around the Iraq war being a run on the treasury as its raison d'etre

i think there is a perfectly understandable logical train of thought (flawed in my opinion) for rational people of a certain world view, aware of the coming crises triggered by energy/resource shortages towards a throw-of-the-dice invasion to capture those resources, backed by a considerable amount of groupthink positive-reinforcement allowing for significant overconfidence in the likelihood of a favourable result

i just think that's the Occam's Razor position on this - and to be honest i kinda buy it

When no-one around you understands
start your own revolution
and cut out the middle man

And then how does the whole Custer Battles data fit into the occam's razor POV?

Debka is not always an accurate source of news, so take this article with a grain of salt. Excerpt:

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen have launched the vast Trans-Arabia Oil Pipeline project with encouragement from Washington, DEBKA-Net Weekly 313 revealed on Aug. 10, 2007. By crisscrossing Arabia overland, the net of oil pipelines will bypass the Straits of Hormuz at the throat of the Persian Gulf and so remove Gulf oil routes from the lurking threat of Iranian closure.

Full article at http://debka.com/article.php?aid=1300

Miss. River Bridge Closed at Memphis - I-40 Bridge Over Mississippi River at Memphis Closed After Pier Settles

Officials shut down a major Mississippi River bridge Monday after one of its piers settled nearly 4 inches during the night in a construction zone.

An interesting article:

Adult Health In The Russian Federation: More Than Just A Health Problem

Alas it is behind a paywall. Free abstract is here:

In this paper we discuss the Russian adult health crisis and its implications. Although some hope that economic growth will trigger improvements in health, we argue that a scenario is more likely in which the unfavorable health status would become a barrier to economic growth. We also show that ill health is negatively affecting the economic well-being of individuals and households. We provide suggestions on interventions to improve health conditions in the Russian Federation, and we show that if health improvements are achieved, this will result in substantial economic gains in the future.

I wonder if the situation in Russia is somewhat predictive of the future situation in OECD countries, if (or when) the economy, and peoples' perception of it, worsens, the political and military systems are affected, and escapism (via alcohol and other methods) becomes the only relief available for many people.

Some snippets from the full text:

... In the Russian Federation, female life expectancy (seventy-two years) is close to the level it was in 1955; male life expectancy (fifty-eight years) is four years less than in that year, the same as in Eritrea. Yet the Russian economy has shown strong economic growth since 1998. ... We contend that failure to tackle the low level of health will make rapid economic growth unsustainable. ...

Life expectancy in the Soviet Union had improved since the 1930s, as the health system provided basic coverage to a geographically dispersed population while the central planning system enabled rapid construction of physical infrastructure, such as housing and electrification. However, in the mid-1960s, resources were diverted from the social sector to the military-industrial complex. Death rates began to increase after 1965, particularly at adult ages. ... Life expectancy at birth [sixty-six] now lags behind that of other G-8 countries by fourteen to sixteen years. ...

Noncommunicable diseases and injuries (NCDI) were the ten leading causes of death in the Russian Federation in 2002... The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated Russian mortality attributable to ten leading risk factors. The first three—high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and tobacco—are estimated to contribute to more than 75 percent of all deaths. ...

Recognition is growing that alcohol plays an important role in the Russian Federation’s health crisis. ... A critical factor is the widespread availability of surrogate alcoholic beverages. Highly concentrated alcohol is sold as lighter fluid (for fires), window cleaning fluid, and antifreeze; in other Western countries, substitute chemicals serve these purposes. In addition, aftershaves consisting of 96 percent ethanol are sold widely. They are untaxed and therefore inexpensive, and it is well known that they are primarily sold for drinking.

It is important to consider the social conditions underlying these risk factors. One proposed factor is the role of social capital ... [lack of] trust and social isolation have a substantial causal impact on individual health outcomes. ... analysis of mortality amenable to health care provides evidence of the Russian health system’s widespread failings.

The Russian Federation’s unprecedented mortality upsurge, coupled with fertility rates that are well below replacement level, has several implications.

Shrinking population. Since 1990, the Russian population has declined by six million ...

Fewer workers. If these trends persist, the Russian labor force will continue to shrink. A healthy population ages 65–75 could represent a sizable untapped work-force. However, the high burden of ill health among surviving older Russians could limit their contribution.

National security risks. ... the number of men of conscription age will plunge rapidly in the decades ahead. ... a growing percentage of the military budget must provide for medical, nutritional, and substance abuse programs for soldiers ... long-term economic growth will depend on large cohorts of healthy and skilled young and middle-aged adults, yet the demands of the armed forces will reduce the available pool. ...

Economic effects. ...
* The cost of absenteeism ...
* reduced productivity while remaining on the job. ...
* Impact on labor supply. ...
* Impact on labor productivity. ...
* Impact on the family. ... alcohol consumption per capita increases by about 10 grams per day following the death of an unemployed household member and by about 35 grams if the deceased was employed. ...

... Now, modern drugs are available, although patients must pay for them. That means that drugs that should be taken continuously, such as anti-hypertensives, are often taken only when the patient feels unwell.

... progress is hindered by several factors.
* Insufficient coordination of prevention and control activities. ...
* Human resource limitations. ...
* Inadequate access to information. ...
* Perverse incentives. ... drug company representatives’ paying physicians to prescribe their products, resulting in the widespread use of ineffective products.
* Limited funding. ...
* Inadequate surveillance capacity and research effort.

Recognition is growing that alcohol plays an important role in the Russian Federation’s health crisis

Crisis or solution?

Getting roaring drunk and enjoying it might optimize the quality of a person's life, while a declining life expectancy will save energy, food, and other resources.

Maybe ethanol IS part of the answer.

Didn't see it posted up top- Kunstler's latest rant is a blast http://jameshowardkunstler.typepad.com/clusterfuck_nation/

Economic Tsunami
By Armstrong Williams
Monday, August 27, 2007


We don't know what we don't know.

At the beginning of the year there were concerns about the fallout
from the debacle in the sub prime real estate market. This was first
evidenced with the collapse of New Century Financial, which was at
that time the nation's second largest sub prime lender. At first
blush, people felt that the sub prime issue was contained to the sub
prime arena. How wrong we have been.

It only took a few short months for some of the largest banks to
acknowledge that the credit issues were also affecting their prime
portfolios. It only took weeks for the 10th largest lender, American
Home Mortgage, to shut its doors and file Chapter 11. Since then it
has been a slippery slope. More and more, banks and lenders are
unable to fund loans because Wall Street is not willing to step up
and buy the same loans that they had been buying over the past
several years. As a result, more and more mortgage banks and lenders
are being forced out of business.

Yet, this credit crunch is no longer limited to the mortgage markets,
let alone only the U.S. What has happened is back in the day, the
rating agencies such as Moodys, Fitch, and Standard & Poors, threw
caution to the wind. They were giving the highest credit rating to
mortgage backed securities (MBS) when in fact they contained a larger
portion of non-performing assets than their AAA rating would suggest.
The question of how pervasive this problem is, at the time of this
writing, is still largely unknown.

The fear of the unknown has roiled the markets. We simply don't know
what we don't know. Even so, even with the worsening credit crunch
many pundits are still trying to suggest that these problems are
contained to the credit markets and will not spill over and affect
the American consumer or the overall economy. Strong second quarter
corporate earning, solid GDP growth, and other favorable economic
indicators seem to support this theory. Any talk of a U.S. recession,
let alone a global one, is recklessly cast aside.

The reality is neither the market nor the economy has had time to
absorb the information. Therefore, the impact on the consumer and the
economy will slowly and painfully unfold in the coming months and
years. Some might argue that with the Dow Jones Industrial Average
down more than 10% (officially a correction) that the market has
already priced in the news. To the contrary, the market may have re-
priced concerns about the credit crunch, but the impact on consumers
is yet to come. The U.S. housing market has in many ways sustained
and contributed to domestic (and international growth), it has fueled
spending for domestic and foreign goods, and increased consumer
confidence, to name a few.

If we really sharpen our pencils and look at how the credit crunch
has so quickly and negatively impacted consumers' ability to get
financing for a new home or refinance their existing, we will have a
better appreciation for how this economy with atrophy in the months
ahead. Anemic economic growth will haunt the U.S. and global economy.
This economic hangover is the price to pay for the euphoric,
unrestrained credit boom that fueled the frenzy.

The troubles ahead of us will rival, if not supersede, the most
challenging economic crises in modern history. It should not surprise
anyone to learn that more and more people are walking into their bank
and turning in the keys to their house. For those of us who have
purchased a home in the last few years, this could be the best advice

We are facing a devastating economic tsunami. It has been quietly
building beneath us – undetectable in an economy that has had no
restraints. But as the shore approaches, the wave swells we will
crash with devastating effects. In addition, there are interesting
economic indicators pointing to a slowdown. Of course, we know of
the `credit crunch' and the impact on housing. However, credit cards,
auto loans, and other consumer loans are getting tougher
qualification guidelines as well. Regardless, there already is a
trend that people are using their credit cards more in recent months –
probably because they do not have or cannot access their home
equity. These cards carry higher (much, much higher) rates and the
interest is not tax deductible. What's more, in one survey, nearly
18% of the respondents indicated they would delay buying a new car
this year – this is up from under 7% two years ago. As I see it, the
economy is at risk.

Armstrong Williams is a widely-syndicated columnist, CEO of the
Graham Williams Group, and hosts the Armstrong Williams Show. He is
the author of Beyond Blame.

"Armstrong Williams is a widely-syndicated columnist, CEO of the Graham Williams Group, and hosts the Armstrong Williams Show. He isthe author of Beyond Blame."

he also accepted payments from the Dept of Education, which he did not disclose, for editorials he wrote in favor of administrtion policies.

maybe he's spot on here. maybe he's hacking.

And of course, we always trust Armstrong, because he NEVER let's his own agenda get in the way of his reporting...


But of course, the horrible tragic truth is that all liquidity is gone, and it is impossible to raise money.....

Well, o.k., maybe not completely impossible....:-)


hi all! i've been educating myself alot about Peak oil. Boy, we're soo screwed! haha! How the hell am i gonna pay for $5/gal Gasoline?!?!

So here's a question for oildrum-ers:

How does an ordinary citizen like myself survive peak oil financially? What kind of investment mechanisms do you recommend. let's bounce off some ideas. i have no idea. and i dont suppose some broker is gonna know anything about peak oil...

i dont suppose some broker is gonna know anything about peak oil...

Ah, but I bet they are a lot less worried about $5/gal gas than you are!

If you've read the entire thread above and think it is a good starting pojnt for investment advice, you are screwed.

hi billy;
Don't remember if you've been here for a while or not, but one poster called Westexas advises any and all to 'Economize, Localize and Produce', adding the refrain 'Get thee to the non-discretionary side of the economy' (As those jobs are possibly less vulnerable)

Some in cash (pick your non US currency), some in arable land or durable, income-producing real-estate, and if you need to, definitely invest in tools, at the hardware store, the bookstore, the community college, etc. Practical skills ('teach a man to fish') that can be bartered in a rougher economy and can help get a community through the pinch will allow you to be useful, and likely remain fed, accepted and protected. Basic roofing skills, chimneysweeping and overall repair knowledge certainly aren't out of the question, but neither are counseling, teaching, political leadership, policing and emergency response, any kind of food production..

There's a lot of talk about just producing your own food and energy and security measures, and while my family actively works towards these goals, I think it's a mistake to jump into an 'every man for himself' mode, either. We don't have claws or fangs anymore, even counting smith&wesson.. we absolutely need to work in functioning societies to survive as a species.. even if you've got most of your food in the garden out back, the farmers who produce large quantities of staples that you can't grow at home also are counting on customers to buy their produce. We will still (or once again) have manufacturers who will be going out on a limb to create items that you can't hammer out on your own in the Smithy-shop where the second car used to dwell before it became a rabbit hutch..

anyway.. all we can do is be smart and try.. (Yoda was kidding, there IS a try.. you're just not really trying if your saddled with a defeatist attitude at the time)
Thanks for pitching in.

Bob Fiske

well said, Bob.

There is a very high probability that $5/gallon gasoline will seem like the nickel candy bar in a dozen years.

Please do NOT plan your future based on gas getting to only $5/gallon.

Every individual is different. Economize (live on half your income), localize (use local products, move close to work & shopping) and produce (work making an essential good or service, not something people can do without).

Some other investments are oil companies (foreign slightly better), natural gas companies and foreign hydroelectric producers (safe renewable energy producers) and some domestic wind producers. Also railroads (I prefer CNI ATM)).

Best Hopes,


Hey Billy T and et al.

if Big oil makes money from high oil prices, why can't we all? for instance, I have my money managed by an oil trader. this guy has his own asset management firm and he trades exclusively crude oil futures traders and i've done really well w/ him. yea, this guy thinks oil will be at $250/br w/i 10 years.

just email him and ask him: tung.capital@gmail.com

hey punlap,

so..."done really well". what does that mean? can you throw out a %? also for how long? how did you find him? and how much do you have to start w/?

Web site of the future: Global energy production peaked, the grid is on the fritz, and all I got was this lousy domain name.

Tots getting Internet identity at birth

"One of the criteria was, if we liked the name, the domain had to be available," Pankow said. It was, and Pankow quickly grabbed Bennett's online identity.

Wow. A little while ago I was lamenting to one of my co-workers about someone I knew from high school launching a "baby blog" -- not just a "Here are some pictures of our new baby..." type of thing, but a too-cute-for-prime-time faux first-person "Even though I poop a lot, my daddy says I'm the cutest baby ever" pile of bits.

It had never occurred to me that some parents would, apparently unaware of the coming dot-myspace bubble, take it to the next level. Seems obvious now, though.

Sorry, I'm a little groggy and my sense of humor is tweaked right now. I woke from a bad dream (my alma mater had been privatized by the state and then later sold to DeVry) and decided to catch a peek at the lunar eclipse, only to discover that it's too cloudy or, more likely, smokey from the wildfires to see it. Back to bed.

Hey Bench;
Sorry you missed the moon. I'd upload my still of it, but I dinna how.. Got up on the roof in Portland Maine at 5:25 am, tottering on the homebuilt catwalk I'm using to remove old chimneys (and install solar-heat ducts, sunlight shafts, wetwalls, etc).. and, in floppy clogs with no safety line attached, saw that the one cloud in the whole sky was obscuring the moon as it neared the horizon.. luckily, it moved along, and I got a dramatic reveal of the moon at about 3/4 shaded, while the dawn-glow built up in the east. I had maybe 15min before Luna would hit the rooftops over the west end, so I ran down, started coffee and grabbed the DV-cam.. got a few grainy moments of precarious proof from my non-OSHA perch, and.. what else? came down, filled the mug and logged into TOD!

What a way to start the day!
Life seems to happen a lot on the edge, at the boundaries.. but it still almost feels like it's happening Online and on caffeine, too!