DrumBeat: October 14, 2007

Global warming an urgent problem

Seven years ago scientists thought global warming might cause the North Pole arctic ice sheet to completely melt by the end of this century. But this September the Arctic summer sea ice shrank to more than 20 percent below the previous record low.

“The reason so much (of the Arctic ice) went suddenly is that it is hitting a tipping point that we have been warning about for the past few years,” said James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

In the last six months estimates of when the North Pole ice cap will completely melt have been revised to 2023.

At least one climate scientist, Wieslaw Maslowski of the Naval Postgraduate School, projects a blue, ice-free Arctic Ocean in summers by 2013, an event that has never occurred before, as long as human beings have inhabited our planet.

In the last year estimates of when climate change will cause widespread famine have been revised to 2020.

Peak Oil and Price Trends

As already noted, many times, the media finds it is not ‘politically correct’ to explain high prices as due to oil – very simply – depleting and running out. So they prefer to cite storms, technical problems, refinery accidents, rebellion and wars in Nigeria, Chad and Sudan, the Iraq war, al Qaida, Vladimir Putin and the ‘anti western Kremlin’ now menacing pipeline routes in Georgia, the Kazakhs or Venezuelans applying ‘resource nationalism’ to their oil reserves and demanding higher taxes and shares of profits, the greedy and wasteful Chinese importing too much oil, the Indians doing the same, very hot weather (or very cold weather), and why not earthquakes ? – anything will do as long as NO mention of Peak Oil is made. It is however politically OK to cite declining or shrinking inventories as an explanation of why oil prices are high.

Upside to rising price of the black stuff

Spiralling oil prices are a necessary inconvenience, says visiting American ecologist Richard Heinberg, as the world faces a double-headed monster of climate change and sinking fossil fuel reserves.

Production costs for farmers reaching new heights

When commodity prices drop, there will be no commensurate decline in production input costs, setting the stage for an agricultural inflation trap like the one that created havoc in rural America through the 1980s.

...The key factor is the accumulative cost of transportation in all sectors - that means the price of diesel fuel.

Pickup dealers haul in sales — but can they last?

With gasoline prices hovering near $3 a gallon and the housing market in a slump, large pickup sales should be suffocating.

Instead, a price war among the major players in the sector is boosting sales and market share for gas-thirsty vehicles such as the Toyota Tundra, Chevrolet Silverado and Dodge Ram.

Erosion of Caribbean food security

A fundamental change is taking place in the global role of agriculture.

Since prehistory, food has only been cultivated for human consumption or as feed for livestock; but lately, agriculture in developed and developing nations has been transformed, as cereals are being grown for conversion into fuel.

Energy follies

Are you happy with the recent big increase in food prices? How about the big jump in gasoline prices? Do you enjoy being dependent on foreign oil? And finally, do you like seeing millions of acres of woodland and wildlife habitat being destroyed to make room for more corn production? The tragedy is none of it was or is necessary.

Nuclear reactors for sale: France vies for big stake in industry revival

More than two decades after Chernobyl shook the world's faith in nuclear power, France is vying to lead a worldwide revival of the nuclear industry as worries about global warming and rising energy prices have brought fission back in fashion.

Centrica considers seeking judicial review of green coal plant decision

Centrica PLC is considering calling for a judicial review to overturn a government decision which excludes most energy companies from the contest to build the world's first green coal plant, The Observer reported citing industry sources.

Refiners feel oil prices' sting

The recent surge in crude oil prices above $80 a barrel came at a bad time for U.S. refiners, as profit warnings showed this week from some of the nation's largest oil refiners.

Higher oil prices not only drove up the costs of making gasoline and other fuels, they came during a period of weaker demand for those fuels, when refiners' ability to pass on added costs was limited, analysts said.

Houston CEO takes message to auto industry

ConocoPhillips head James Mulva recently suggested the United States consider placing a surcharge on less fuel-efficient vehicles while promoting the purchase of more efficient models with rebates.

Now that in it itself probably doesn't seem all that shocking, but the fact that the Houston CEO made that speech before Detroit business leaders - gulp.

Coal-to-fuel plants considered, but few want to be first in line

Developers of a coal-to-fuel plant in western North Dakota say more than a dozen similar plants are planned in the U.S. - though no one wants to be the first to build one.

The "Great Game" Enters the Mediterranean: Gas, Oil, War, and Geo-Politics

The haunting spectre of a major war hangs over the Middle East, but war is not written in stone. A Eurasian-based counter-alliance, built around the nucleus of a Chinese-Russian-Iranian coalition also makes an Anglo-American war against Iran an unpalatable option that could turn the globe inside-out.

Tech Declared Both Culprit, Savior in Climate Change

Climate change is both a large-scale crisis and a huge opportunity, and IT has a role in both, industry executives said at a panel discussion last week.

School districts struggle to reduce transportation bill

The problem, many school administrators say, is that they've already squeezed the inefficiencies out of their departments. With rising fuel prices and insurance costs, the only way they'll be able to save money is to cut bus service. That could mean longer bus rides, longer walks to bus stops or school, and fewer extracurricular bus trips, they predict.

Richard Heinberg's Museletter: Powerdown Revisited/As the World Burns

In my book Powerdown: Options and actions for a Post Carbon World, I outlined four scenarios for the oil-constrained future: Last One Standing (a fascistic battle for the world’s remaining resources), Powerdown (government-led radical proactive conversion to energy frugality), Waiting for the Magic Elixir (denial of the problem until it’s too late for proactive responses), and Building Lifeboats (small communities coming together to build a survivable, sustainable future for themselves and, ultimately, for the rest of humanity). I closed the book by suggesting that, while the current trajectory is toward the first and third options, we should work on the second and fourth because these offer the greatest hope.

After a few years of further thought, it seems to me that my description of these options could stand some modification. I would now say that our future options consist of three broad scenarios.

Not "Peak Oil", But Lots More Oil

The fact is that there are billions more barrels to be found in the world, whether it’s in the Middle East, Africa, Russia, Venezuela, and much of the yet to be geologically researched map of the world.

That bit of knowledge, however, rarely makes it into the mainstream media that can be depended upon to give lots of coverage to the “Peak Oil” crowd that has been predicting we will run out of oil any day now. A former chairman of Shell made news in late September when he warned the price of oil could hit $150 a barrel “with oil production peaking within the next 20 years.” You had to read further on in the article, published in London’s The Independent on September 16 to learn that he also said “I don’t know whether there is going to be a peak in world production….”

Thailand in search for energy supply from neighbouring countries

Even with capacity of nearly 370 million cubic feet per day, the massive Arthit project will not be able to supply power-hungry Thailand, which is already looking further afield to meet demand.

Amid an Oil Boom, Poverty Persists (slideshow)

This year, Angola joined the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, pumping out 1.5 million barrels a day, more than any other African country except Nigeria.

Food set to become the next big global news story

AT the beginning of the summer, the National Farmers' Union of Canada put out a press release that included the headline Global food crisis emerging.

The release is scary reading. Based on early predictions by the United States Department of Agriculture on world grain supply and demand for the 2007-08 crop year, the NFU's director of research, Darrin Qualman, broadcasts a dire warning that "we are in the opening phase of an intensifying food shortage."

Qualman means a worldwide shortage.

Eating roo could cut gas emissions

"SKIPPY" could soon be on the menu for the climate change-conscious if they take note of a report showing a switch from beef to kangaroo could help cut greenhouse gases.

Amazon tribe hits back at green 'colonialism'

It's one of the most fashionable ideas to save the planet from global warming: buying up tropical rainforest to save it from destruction. Gordon Brown has even appointed the millionaire founder of one such charity, Johan Eliasch, as his special adviser on deforestation.

But like all big ideas it is controversial, and this week a leading Amazonian campaigner will visit Britain to protest that this latest trend is linked to a health and social crisis among indigenous people, including sickness, depression, suicide, obesity and drug addiction.

Keeping the next Katrina at bay

A hurricane can release energy equivalent to a 10-megaton nuclear bomb every 20 minutes, which means that no amount of dike building will help a coastal city in its path. And while this year has been relatively tame (so far), scientists believe that the future will look a lot like 2005, when there were a record 15 whirlwinds. The culprit: global warming, which is increasing the supply of warm water at the surface of the ocean that acts as fuel for hurricanes as it evaporates into their swirling vortex.

Faced with the prospect of reliving Katrina on a yearly basis, our options seem to be either fine-tuning evacuation plans, or trying to weaken or divert storms while they are still at sea. Scientists have been considering the latter challenge for at least half a century with no success - but according to How To Stop a Hurricane, a documentary airing on CBC this week, the necessary technology and forecasting power are now making the prospect conceivable. Toronto-based director Robin Benger evaluated more than 30 hurricane-busting ideas being developed around the world and chose seven he thinks could have the right stuff.

Analysts Find Israel Struck a Nuclear Project Inside Syria

Israel’s air attack on Syria last month was directed against a site that Israeli and American intelligence analysts judged was a partly constructed nuclear reactor, apparently modeled on one North Korea has used to create its stockpile of nuclear weapons fuel, according to American and foreign officials with access to the intelligence reports.

The description of the target addresses one of the central mysteries surrounding the Sept. 6 attack, and suggests that Israel carried out the raid to demonstrate its determination to snuff out even a nascent nuclear project in a neighboring state. The Bush administration was divided at the time about the wisdom of Israel’s strike, American officials said, and some senior policy makers still regard the attack as premature.

Air Force continues success in reducing energy impact

Every October, the Air Force, along with the rest of the federal government, recognizes Energy Awareness Month. Our theme this year echoes our energy vision: "Making energy a consideration in all we do."

This vision serves as the foundation of our energy strategy:

● Reduce demand by increasing our energy efficiency and reducing our energy consumption

● Increase supply by researching, testing and certifying new technologies

● Investigating cutting edge uses of renewable and conventional sources of energy in order to create new domestic sources of supply;

● Change the culture to ensure energy is a consideration in all we do.

As Logging Fades, Rich Carve Up Open Land in West

William P. Foley II pointed to the mountain. Owns it, mostly. A timber company began logging in view of his front yard a few years back. He thought they were cutting too much, so he bought the land.

Mr. Foley belongs to a new wave of investors and landowners across the West who are snapping up open spaces as private playgrounds on the borders of national parks and national forests.

Caspian Sea: Energy profile

The Caspian Sea region, including the Sea and the states surrounding it, is important to world energy markets because of its potential to become a major oil and natural gas exporter over the next decade.

Go nuclear for a third industrial revolution, says EC

We are on the brink of the "third industrial revolution", according to José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission - who believes it means nations may have to embrace nuclear power.

Fill 'Er Up—But With What?

Oil is hovering above $80 a barrel. Gas has been bouncing between $2.50 and $4 a gallon for the past two years. At $3.33 per gallon, it costs $100 to fill the tank of a Hummer H2—to carry the driver 350 miles. Fueling up even a Volkswagen Rabbit at the same pump will cost almost $50. Surely, you'd think, there must be a better means of keeping our vehicles running than with pricey oil drawn out of hostile and distant places.

It is in this context of Western anticipation of the Next Big Energy Thing that Iain Carson and Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran, correspondents for The Economist, have written Zoom: The Global Race to Fuel the Car of the Future. What the authors describe, though, is not so much a race as inertia on the part of the auto and oil industries, petroleum-rich countries, politicians, environmentalists, and even consumers over what new energy sources will emerge as our primary fuels for autos. Overall, the book is an articulate and well-referenced survey that could have used more detail on the men and women trying to solve the West's, and increasingly the developing world's, addiction to oil.

South Africa: The Poor Fly Under the Solar Water Heating Radar

- Earlier this year, IPS reported that the South African coastal city of Cape Town was debating a "first of a kind" bylaw that would make solar water heating compulsory for relatively costly new buildings, and certain renovations. This got us thinking: what of solar water heating for less expensive structures -- especially homes being built under the country's extensive low cost housing programme...Are any initiatives on the drawing board in this regard?

In China, a Lake’s Champion Imperils Himself

Pollution has reached epidemic proportions in China, in part because the ruling Communist Party still treats environmental advocates as bigger threats than the degradation of air, water and soil that prompts them to speak out.

How Malawi went from a nation of famine to a nation of feast

Over the past couple of years, Malawi has broken with an orthodoxy long advocated by Canada and other Western donor nations: The impoverished country has gone back to subsidizing poor farmers. Condemned by donors as an impediment to the development of a sustainable agricultural sector, the subsidies have been a raging success.

"What is different [this year] is the access to inputs," explained Patrick Kabambe, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security. "People are so poor they use recycled seed and no fertilizer. They can't meet their needs that way and they grow no surplus. People sink deeper and deeper into poverty. It's a vicious cycle. We had to do something."

All about oil: read about it in new book

How can the US free itself from our oil addiction? David Sandalow in his new book, "Freedom from Oil: How the next President can end the United States' oil addiction" attempts to address this question.

Iraq’s ex-oil chief accuses Kurds of suspect deal with US firm

An Iraqi oil minister under former dictator Saddam Hussein accused the Kurdistan Regional Government of awarding an oil contract last month to a US company for areas outside its territorial control.

The Impact of Oil Contracts for the Government of Iraqi Kurdistan

Unfortunately, these problems and difference in opinion were expected ever since the announcement of the Iraqi Constitution and its vague provisions regarding the prerogatives of the Iraqi Oil Ministry, the regions and the provinces in managing the country's petrochemical resources. The disputes we see today are a result of the manner and method in which the constitutional provisions on the oil sector and oil laws were drafted, resulting in disagreements in viewpoints between the oil minister and the Kurdistan regional government, or between prominent Iraqi oil experts and the Kurdistan government, and we are still at the beginning of the process. There is considerable fear that the obstacles to a natural development of the oil and gas sector in Iraq may grow larger, due to these vague legal arrangements. There is fear that these disputes are a bad sign for Iraq's most important economic sector, as if the security problems weren't enough already to obstruct the rise of a modern oil sector. Complicated legal problems have been invented, and the examples we have today are a telling sign of this.

China orders halt to refinery project of Taiwan's Formosa Plastics

Formosa Plastics Corp's proposed refinery project in Ningbo, in eastern China's Zhejiang province, has been ordered halted by Chinese authorities, while a proposed ethylene plant with capacity of 1.2 mln tons will now be controlled by China National Petroleum Corp instead of Formosa, the Economic Observer reported.

BP chief 'to turn round oil giant in three years'

Tony Hayward, the new chief executive of BP, has pledged to turn around the oil giant's fortune in the next two to three years. In an interview this weekend, Hayward told The Sunday Telegraph that "we have been on the downward spiral for three or four years and it will take us two or three years to come back up".

Look who's in denial about global warming now

In light of all this, to continue to blame a handful of frankly pathetic global warming deniers for lack of federal action on global warming is, in itself, a kind of denial.

Peak Moment for Peak Oil in Queensland

Until recently the peak oil debate in Australia has been largely confined to internet forums such as Webdiary. Those who have dared elsewhere make the obvious point that production of the finite resource upon which our entire economy is based will soon peak and decline, have usually been labeled as doomsayers, conspiracy theorists, socialists or rabid greenies. That situation has changed dramatically in recent weeks with the release of the Queensland Government’s long-awaited Oil Vulnerability Taskforce Report. World oil production is peaking – it’s official, at least here in Queensland.

What is driving oil prices so high?

A more controversial concern is the so-called "peak oil" theory: the idea that the world has reached the natural limits of oil exploitation, and that there is little more to be found in the ground whatever the price.

Although many in the business dismiss the concept, energy planners in several countries are nonetheless beginning to take it into account.

Running on empty - Oil is depleting but does anybody care?

“The debate is over. This is real,” said Adam Asquith, Ph.D., a local farmer and biologist who shared information with the audience on the urgency of the issues surrounding global oil depletion.

India: Thermal stations face shortage of coal stocks

A serious coal shortage situation is brewing at a number of major thermal power stations across the country, with the coal stock position in 20 stations — total installed capacity of 24,420 MW — now being termed as “critical” since coal stocks in these plants are expected to last less than seven days.

A powerful mix: Future of North Dakota energy looks bright

No other state is so well stocked with wind, coal, oil, water, biomass crops, and even hydrogen technology. It's almost an embarrassment of resources, enough to stir up a rich and powerful stew.

'Climate Year' heads for uncertain end

It's October and global warming campaigner Al Gore has won the Nobel Peace Prize. In November the U.N.'s climate scientists issue a capstone report on where the planet is headed. And in December envoys of almost 200 nations gather in Bali, Indonesia, hoping for action to head off the worst of climate change.

But because of something that happened in September, their chances look slim.

Gore Nobel win shows up Bush: US press

US newspapers Saturday hailed Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize for his fight against climate change, saying it showed up failings of President George W. Bush in the seven years since he beat Gore to the White House.

European cities tackling climate change

VAXJO, Sweden - When this quiet city in southern Sweden decided in 1996 to wean itself off fossil fuels, most people doubted the ambitious goal would have any impact beyond the town limits. A few melting glaciers later, Vaxjo is attracting a green pilgrimage of politicians, scientists and business leaders from as far afield as the United States and North Korea seeking inspiration from a city program that has allowed it to cut CO2 emissions 30 percent since 1993.

A new Energy and Environment Round-Up by ilargi has been published at TOD:Canada.

Thought I would take a look at the IPPC report but got lost in a myriad of likelys How many likelys does it take to make a certainty anyway? Page 9 is a quite likely a page that even goes so far as a couple of future virtual certainties ,very interesting.


We ran the entire Cold War on speculation, much of it erroneous. But in truth the message of the Cold War was: we will spend trillions rather than risk a 10% chance that the Commies have the power to enslave us. As a taxpayer, you are not entitled to a refund.

Guess it's different when the enemy doesn't have a (wrong-colored) face, or it's looking back from our own mirrors.

The likelyhood of anything happening in the Government of the USA to solve global warming is about Zero. But the "Likely"-ness of Global Chaos getting worse before it gets better is about 100%.

I love to pick bones with people who use words the wrong way, but then again I am the first to do that so I shouldn't pick the dust mote out of your eye before I get the stick out of mine.

Today a child broke my walking stick. It is about 12 inches shorter than it was yesterday. I is a cane now. I knew sooner or later it would break at the weak point. Wood under stress does that a lot. Was I mad at the kids, no. Did my aditude surprise the kids, Yes. People just can't handle someone that does not worry about anything. I do a Lot of praying though.

Climate chaos is one of the big shakers in the present times and the future times. Peak Oil Production could be solved by the time the population declines and the weather settles down. But getting to the oil that is left will be labor intensive still, or it might even be impossible to use EROEI wise.

God Grant you peace.
God Grant you Love of your fellow man.
God Grant you Faith and Trust.
Write in Candidate for President 2008.
Free Right Now party. No donations.
Term limits for congress, Min wage for them too
Charles Edward Owens Jr.

I am sure Leanan posted this link a couple of days ago because she never misses anything this good. However I did miss it and I would like to comment. Why Global Warming and Peak Oil are Irreverent

Amory Lovins says we peak oilers are stupid. But I think Lovins is the stupid one. Note: One politically correct goody two shoes took me to task awhile back for calling a man an idiot. So in the interest of political correctness I will not call this blooming idiot a blooming idiot. No, I will instead just call him stupid, the same term Lovins used when referring to us.

It’s the bottom line, stupid.

He says peak oil and global warming does not matter because the marketplace will fix everything. The marketplace will always wind up with black ink on the bottom line and that’s all that matters.

Which is why peak oil doesn’t matter. If oil runs out next year, or in the next decade, that will matter less than the rise of competitive sources of energy in the marketplace. Petroleum will go the way of whale oil, which in 1850 was the world’s fifth largest industry, Lovins said. That powerful industry lasted precisely until coal-based oils provided a cheaper alternative to the common lighting fuel. You don’t hear much about whale oil anymore.

So not to worry, the marketplace will take care of peak oil. Competitive sources of energy will rise magically from the marketplace. Cheaper energy will replace gasoline. You know, like hydrogen or ethanol.

We have all heard that one before. But Lovins goes even further and says the marketplace will even fix the global warming problem.

He sees efforts to persuade federal governments and international bodies to set limits on carbon dioxide as misguided. China, currently the world’s top polluter of greenhouse gases, will persuade itself to go green because it makes economic sense, and provides a competitive advantage, he said.

China, and the rest of the world will stop pouring carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere because they will make more money if they stop. The magic marketplace will fix everything.

Well hell, if the marketplace will fix all our global warming and declining energy problems, then why should we doubt that it will also fix all our other environmental problems? The marketplace will cause falling water tables to rise again. It will replenish dried up rivers. It will replace the disappearing rainforest. The dried up Aral Sea will rise to its former glory and the fish will return. Fishermen will stop overfishing the sea because they will make more money if they stop fishing. And the marketplace will fix the population problem.

Sleep well tonight and don’t worry about anything. The magic marketplace will solve all our environmental problems.

Ron Patterson

Severides Law ... "The leading cause of problems is solutions."

One politically correct goody two shoes took me to task awhile back for calling a man an idi*t.

Thanks for the consideration, Ron.

I still stand by that principle, it's better in my view to conduct the discussion in polite terms, not least of all since, as Leanan has remarked more than once, the use of the blander options available in our vocabulary can easily lead to the site, and the thread, being banned by numerous kinds of filters, especially those installed by educational institutions. Also, it invites other posters to use the same sort of language, and before you know it, you've created a swearing contest.

Besides, as we both know, idi*t is a diagnostic medical term, and wrongly applied to many people who are not subject to its true meaning, in any real sense. We should all be well capable of venting our assessments of people and policies, without regressing into these terms. If only since you invite those same terms being applied to you by other posters.

Which in no way means, make no mistake, that I don't fully agree with the spirit, the general gist if you will, of your assessment of Mr. Lovins.

I don't think Lovins is stupid...he's just wrong. Even smart people can be wrong. Or at least that's what I keep telling myself. :)

If you said "even smart people can be stupid", I'd agree with you even more. It's one thing to be wrong. It's another to continue being wrong in the face of so much evidence against you. Keeping at something that continues to show itself to be wrong is stupid behavior, and thus even smart people can be stupid. Sometimes they are even more effectively stupid than stupid people.

OK gentle people, how about: fool, fools, foolish?
Doesn't necessarily imply limitations on education nor I. Q.
No shortage of examples available.
Now, isn't that nicer?

I don't know enough about the details of Lovins' agenda to say if he is stupid, wrong or malicious, though I suspect everyone who claims they're going to come through this mess as rich as they are now.

However, many narrowly intelligent people have been wrong about the global system when it was refined to a perverse extreme:

the 1929 crisis, where intelligent people could not imagine that capital could vanish faster than brutal deflation could exploit it.

the 1914 crisis, where intelligent people assumed that elected governments would be curbed by the economic elite recognizing that war wasn't in its long-term interest.

I guess aspects of both these crises are apparent in the current crisis. No one in a position of influence in 2000, or even 2004, was saying that these things could happen again.

Super390, what elected governments are you refering to? Russia, Austria, Germany, England? True, no dictator wanted WW1, but on the other hand none of the imperial families, most related by blood, were willing to 'look weak on defense', a phrase that should make us examine the current crop of D and R presidential hopefulls. Now we have an executive branch that has grabbed all the power and a legislative branch that has abdicated its responsibilities and powers...So, we are basically in the same state that Europe was just prior to WW1...And, with a supposedly 'elected' government. It doesnt seem to matter, does it? As Einstein so aptly put it... 'I dont know how WW3 will be fought, but WW4 will be fought with stones and clubs.'... (forgive me for posting this twice but I believe it is important for all to read and comprehend what war with Iran will mean. If we attack Iran, the world will cease to resemble anything that we recognize.)

On War #234
September 25, 2007


'I don't think it possible for any historian to visit the Baltic countries or the rest of Central Europe and not reflect on the catastrophes World War I brought for that part of the world. Communism, World War II, National Socialism, the extinction of some communities and the expulsion of others, wholesale alteration of national boundaries, all these and more flowed from the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914. One pebble touched off an avalanche.'

'It did so because it occurred, not as an isolated incident, but as one more in a series of crises that rocked Europe in its last ten years of peace, 1904-1914. Each of those crises had the potential to touch off a general European war, and each further de-stabilized the region, making the next incident all the more dangerous. 1905-06 witnessed the First Moroccan Crisis, when the German Foreign Office (whose motto, after Bismarck, might well be, "Clowns unto ages of ages") compelled a very reluctant Kaiser Wilhelm II to land at Tangier as a challenge to France. 1908 brought the Bosnian Annexation Crisis, where Austria humiliated Russia and left her anxious for revenge. Then came the Second Moroccan Crisis of 1911, the Tripolitan War of 1911-1912 (a war Italy actually won, against the tottering Ottoman Empire) and the Balkan Wars of 1912-13. By 1914, it had become a question more of which crisis would finally set all Europe ablaze than of whether peace would endure. This was true despite the fact that, in the abstract, no major European state wanted war.

If this downward spiral of events in Europe reminds us of the Middle East today, it should. There too we see a series of crises, each holding the potential of kicking off a much larger war. There are almost too many to list: the war in Iraq, the U.S. versus Iran, Israel vs. Syria, the U.S. vs. Syria, Syria vs. Lebanon, Turkey vs. Kurdistan, the war in Afghanistan, the de-stabilization of Pakistan, Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, and the permanent crisis of Israel vs. the Palestinians. Each is a tick of the bomb, bringing us closer and closer to the explosion no one wants, no one outside the neo-con cabal and Likud, anyway.'

I believe neither wrong nor stupid. Just brutally cynical. Of course the market will fix everything-- but not to everyone's advantage.

Soon, the marketplace will be too crowded, by about 2billion people, and that surplus will somehow have to be gotten out of the way. Myanmar and Sudan and India are showing us the way.

What I am having a hard time with is the notion that the only alternative to chaos may be command. Either way, the concept of "freedom" may be so 20th century.

What I am having a hard time with is the notion that the only alternative to chaos may be command. Either way, the concept of "freedom" may be so 20th century.

I'm thinking that, too. Reading Heinberg's latest...I don't really see any difference between his "Feudal Fascism" and "Eco-Deal" scenarios. Why is putting to people to work on farms "fascism" while putting people to work on streetcars an "eco-deal"? Maybe he sees differing degrees of coercion, but practically speaking, if the alternative is starving, it's not really a choice. And there will have to be "law and order" in the Eco-Deal world, too. What point is there in building streetcars if people rip them to pieces to sell the scrap as fast as they are built?

I also think he misses the biggest drawback of the "Bottoms up" (grassroots) scenario. It's not that local governments don't have the infrastructure to provide for their citizens. That may be true, but it's not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is the Tragedy of the Commons, played out on a national or global scale. This is why Jared Diamond hinted in Collapse that strong central government was going to be necessary.

We have already seen hints of this. Coal burned in the Midwest causes acid rain in New England. The benefits of coal-burning go to Ohio, the drawbacks to Massachusetts, so what incentive does Ohio have to cut back or spend money cleaning up their coal plants?

It doesn't take very close reading of Tragedy of the Commons to see where Garrett Hardin is coming from. The only solution he sees is population control and strong central government.

It is a sort of Spenglerian fantasy, perhaps, but freedom and "capitalism" seem most adapted to rapidly taking control of an entirely new situation (Europe after the Black Plague, North America, Australia, etc.) Within a few hundred years at most, that freedom has to be contained -- and presto, an aristocracy and royal family appears. They overreach, there is chaos again (Myanmar?) and perhaps from the chaos emerges a new sort of freedom.

Or maybe not. In any case, history suggests that oil is only a multiplier of the natural human energy. Plenty of creation and destruction occurred long before anyone thought of iron, let alone automobiles and industrial machinery.

The benefits of coal-burning go to Ohio

In my cynical view the benefits accrue to New York through the Stock Market. Is Ohio better off the Massachusetts or New York? If I ran Ohio I would take off all the scrubbers until Free Trade Acts included Labor and Environmental Standards. We need the edge. Besides Cancer is a consequence of an industrial society. Nature's way of clearing out the genetic deficiencies as the world progresses :)

About Amory Lovins.

I attended a weeklong set of lectures he gave at Stanford this year, and find him neither idiot nor rogue. Doesn't mean he's right, though.

Money probably figures very little into his motivation. At his age and with his success, he is more concerned with making his mark on history. He really does believe that efficiency is the cure to humanity's problems.

Like most people who hear him speak, I was bowled over. I think he's probably in the genius category. Because he's been at this for decades, he has a highly developed spiel with graphs, statistics and colorful examples. I think he's absolutely right about the desirability of efficiency via technological innovation. He's also found an audience that wants to hear his message: engineers and tech savvy leaders from government, corporations and the military.

The claim that "peak oil and global warming are irrelevant" is probably addressed to these leaders, who do not want to hear about powerdown and the end of economic growth.

More interesting than his prepared talks are his off-the-cuff remarks and answers to questions. When he's not giving his pitch, he is more nuanced and thoughtful.

The basic problem with the Lovins is that like a lot of smart people, he gets so wound up in his approach that he can't recognize its limitations. He is very skillful at explaining away discrepancies. For example, he dismisses Jevon's Paradox ("as technological improvements increase the efficiency with which a resource is used, total consumption of that resource may increase").

Similarly, he dismisses other approaches such as conservation, grassroots efforts and politics.

Most critically, he overstates the potential of top-down innovation when faced with the urgent problems of peak oil and climate change. He has been preaching the same gospel for many years, and the world is still going in the same direction.

Energy Bulletin

I used to think of Lovins as a great inspiration. I saw him speak in the 1970's, when he uttered such gems as "using nuclear energy to make consumer electricity is like cutting butter with a chainsaw". Now he seems to think that business as usual can be maintained with somewhat better mileage, and so forth.

I don't know where he is coming from, but I think he is dead wrong.

So not an "idiot". Perhaps "self-centered, over-confident, narrowly-focused ignoramus" would work.

i'd been wondering about the guy's motives for awhile until i saw an article that described the big money consulting he does. as i can attest, there's no coin in telling people we're screwed.

there's no coin in telling people we're screwed.

too true.

I'm starting to think the Nobel Prize Committee really isn't gonna call....

If you have not seen this already,

Heading out may care to look at it... The hobbits and the elves will recoil in horror...

Though I want coal until we can ramp up nukes (about 43 should do it..)


From The Sunday Times. By Richard Girling
October 14, 2007

Black to the future

Forget about wind farms and nuclear power stations. The answer to Britain’s looming energy crisis could be cheap, plentiful and planet-friendly coal

At 16 minutes after midday on October 17, 1956, at Calder Hall in Cumberland, the Queen pulled a lever and declared open the world’s first nuclear power station. In a high wind that crackled the pages of her script, she spoke of the “limitless opportunities which providence has given us”, and predicted that the peaceful application of nuclear power would be “among the greatest of our contributions to human welfare”. When the cheering died down, men with watch chains spoke of “epoch-making” events, and “energy too cheap to meter”.

Fifty-nine years later, in 2015, someone in the UK will flick a switch and nothing will happen. Eight years from now, the country will have only a fraction of the power it needs. Towns and cities blank out as the National Grid fizzles and dies. Pensioners die of cold, then putrefy in unchilled mortuaries. The only light comes from families burning their furniture. Streets after dark belong to armed gangs operating black markets in everything from clean water to butchered pets. Shop staff flee as customers brawl in the aisles over torch batteries and out-of-date Pot Noodles. The prime minister declares a national state of emergency but nobody hears him.

Eight years from now, the country will have only a fraction of the power it needs

Hold it right there. Think anyone has ever made as assessment of what Britain "needs"? Of course not, what the writer means to say is "the power it demands".

Which just happens to be, what would it be, 10 times what a Bangladeshi "needs", and half of what an American "needs".

I think the British may well find out soon what it is they really "need." If only because what they "demand" won't be available.

We ain't Bangladesh.

'I think the British may well find out soon what it is they really "need." If only because what they "demand" won't be available.'


I dont much want to find out. And certainly not just hang about waiting for the end.

If coal plus nukes can work, then we should crack on.

If anybody thinks that Wind, solar and tidal will fill the gap or take over the burden, then they are talking out of their ass.

I want UKGov to pull its finger out of its collective ass and do what it is paid to do:

Look after the interests of UKPeople and UKSecurity.

I reiterate: we have 60 million + people in these Islands.

The BNP seems to be the only party there that has a handle on things.

It's a combination of becoming more sustainable plus avoiding a "Camp Of The Saints" future.

The BNP is EXACTLY the reason I want to keep the lights on.

Yeah I hate admitting the BNP would be MY party if I were over there but it's the truth.

You have the invaders from parts south - siding with them will get you skinned and fed to their dogs.

You have the weak mainstream politicians who will sell you out tomorrow so their can postpone their own skinning alive another week.

Then you have the BNP types who know what kind of a fight Britain is in for.

The BNP are probably the ony way the lights will stay on.

''The BNP are probably the ony way the lights will stay on.''

The BNP are the last thing we need: Tatooed knuckle-draggers don't do advanced, high tech civilisation well. But unless the mainstream system pulls its finger out, then, when the lights are out in 2015 and by 2017 they may easily get in.

And if they do, then it will be our own fault.

Coal and Nukes...
Nukes and Coal...
Like it or not...
No way out...

Shame really... Nukes and Coal: lots of well paid, high skill, indigenous jobs in Physics, Engineering, Eng. Geology, Construction, Electrical Maintenance, IT, you name it.

Shame we hosed all the Oil revenue away...

Tattooed knuckle draggers eh?

You mean the people who come put out the fire if your house catches fire? You mean the guy who works on your car? How about the EMTs who come scrape you off the pavement, keep you alive, and get you to the hospital where you're cared for by 2-3 "knuckle draggers" for every doctor?

This hatred of the working class has to end.

This hatred of the working class has to end.

As opposed to hatred of the inferior races, foreigners, immigrants, jews and gays ? You have admitted in the past on this forum that you are a Nazi. No wonder you like the BNP.

For those of you who don't know fleam, here is an excerpt from his posting on Nov 30, 2006: http://www.theoildrum.com/story/2006/11/29/8303/3470#comment-131215

Which is why, given that I'm in my 40s now so most of the fighting-age population has grown up in my Universe, if things get bad I expect intertribal warefare to cut the population down nicely. I hope to take plenty of the other guys with me to light my way to Valhalla! Folks from your Universe still have a basic niceness and decency, I can't imagine you guys making lampshades out of the other guy's skin. I and my ilk however, would consider such a thing quite fun and witty. You guys had Audie Murphy, we have Timothy McVeigh.

You are a knuckle dragger, fleam. And it has nothing to do with being a member of the working class. You could have 10 Ph.D.s from Harvard and millions in the bank; you are still a knuckle dragger.

No, not necessarily - the stable state is the ethno-state, and the "ethno" seems to be defined in terms of a generally agreed upon culture and being of one of the "in group" races. Note that the BNP wiki mentions that the BNP does note that "acceptable" races are English, Welsh, "European caucasian", Scottish, etc., while these are races that were at each others' throats not too long ago.

I'm not saying the BNP approach is the best, nicest, etc., I'm saying that for better or for worse, it's probably the winning one.

Get this: The Moslems, not all of the Moslems, but enough of them, want to make Europe and England part of the Caliphate. They have large population pressures in many of their nations' cases and England and Europe are going to be more favorable places to live in a global warming future.

As for Valhalla, well, if I really believed in Valhalla I'd be working on my broadswoard skills like Now. As for the idea of taking plenty of earth-eaters with me when I go, well, I'm dead serious about that and feel we all ought to be :-) oops I mean :-)

The BNP Are Nazis.

We could make huge energy savings in transport and heating. We have been promised 2m new homes which we be built just before 2016 when all new homes must be carbon neutral, we should be building super efficnet homes now, we can do it and it works out so much cheaper in the long term. Wind and CHP can meet much of our needs. But we will still need thermal coal plants IGCC plants should allow greater efficiency and flexibility to balance the wind in the system. Massive savings can be made in transport but our poor railways are a national disgrace, we kick started the steam age why have we lost touch with cutting edge engineering? Also we are a fairly small island, cycling should be made easier in some places you dont stand a chance

What worries me is if the lights go out there will be lots of people blaming 'those damn eco-nazis' If the only option we have is to keep our nuke fleet running, thats another kettle of fish

"Coal and Nukes...
Nukes and Coal...
Like it or not...
No way out..."

And fuck the planet.

Who needs a planet, anyway?

Why do Nukes and Clean Coal technology fook the planet?

We have choices:

1. Do nothing and burn furniture in the winter of 2015
2. Do what we can with what we have to hand as best we can:

Clean Coal Keeps the lights on as a bridging technology until:

Nukes get built.

3 Option 3? Knit our own wind farms and dance around the maypole worshipping the great earth-mother

2 Sounds like a plan to me.

Except there is no clean coal, at least not yet. It's as mythical as fusion. What we have to hand is dirty coal.

I've no doubt we'll keep using ever-dirtier coal. And we may find out that Doug is right: rising sea levels will be the least of our worries.

There aint no clean way a hom sap can live.

Except perhaps as a khalahari bushman.

We are talking about mitigation of CO2 emissions in a 7 billion peopled world.

Frankly, I am sick to the back teeth of orthodox doomer porn.

No Nukes
No Coal
No Severn Tidal Barrier

Here goes:


Like Himmler, they would gladly sacrifice others if they can live the good life.

Like Himmler they would exterminate the 'unfortunates'or the 'unwanted'.

Think about it: Himmler and the Greens are rarely caught holding hands, but they are often caught together in the same parlour...

Just die... So that smug Cascade Range Califorian Greens may live

Are we not men?

We should burn all our coal.- If that is what it takes for UKPeople to survive.

Produce enough energy to build Nukes.

Nukes maybe risky/
But 'Greens' make me puke.

It presents a lot of my arguments in a better way than I have. Pat of the current problem is, as the article notes, that without political directives, and with confusion as to future rules companies will not make the investments needed to ensure future supply. (Thus the market will not decide, but will hold off making a decision until, say, after the next American election, thereby delaying the arrival of any transient answer until after it is needed).

The article however suggests that underground coal gasification is the panacea. Unfortunately it is not nearly as easy to accomplish as the article would suggest, and there would likely be a lot of debate before it could get adopted on a scale that might make it a significant contributor.


At least it is now out in the open.

Be It conventional mining and CO2 Sequestration or Underground Coal Gasification.

We have got a game. Coal can be used to bridge us across to Nukes.

We at least have a chance to keep the lights on.

Underground Coal Gasification in conjunction with Carbon Capture & Storage appear to be a significant way "to keep the lights on" if both methods can be done and adopted as imagined. Can they though is something yet to be assured.

I presume this is what MUDLOGGER *wants* his government to do for him and his fellow UK citizens. I hope his want finds success as he now turns his attention to getting *his* government to see the light. I wish him good luck.

For my part I have very little hope in expecting my government (U.S.) to hear or care what I *want* and think they should be doing about it to mitigate PO and CC. That is why instead of ranting about what I *want* from my government I have been directing my energy and attention to my individual and community organization and development. I can hope MUDLOGGER does likewise.

I also think Richard Heinberg's musings are of relevance here WRT to MUDLOGGER's plea. I presume he would prefer a strong central government that will choose Heinberg's "Eco Deal" arrangement to solve things and keep the lights on, but I suspect that the government will give him exactly what he wants by doing it via Heinberg's "Feudal Fascism" route with plenty of klieg lights to keep it all in line. I hope to never succumb to that level of wanting the lights on.

Here in the states I already see the loss of civil liberties and other arrangements for the Feudal Fascist state apparatus, so despite my protests to the contrary, I continue to make other arrangements to try and get by, close to the ground with my head down in a community of some resilience and hope of decency. Ranting about what we want isn't going to change anything. I suggest MUDLOGGER does likewise for himself and those he cares about and spare us his public demands.

Whether or not his government will listen to him is questionable, but I do know that nature doesn't care what we *want* and on that basis alone I am making my plans.
And it doesn't involve substituting coal for oil, which if used without ensuring that the carbon is sequestered I see no point in having a light on in hell to come from it.

''I presume this is what MUDLOGGER *wants* his government to do for him and his fellow UK citizens. I hope his want finds success as he now turns his attention to getting *his* government to see the light. I wish him good luck.''

Democracies work like this:

You relinquish authority and power to a Government. They in turn look out for the common good of those that allow them to Govern. In turn , you pay taxes, in turn, they, the Government is charged with the basics: Strategics, like energy, Armed forces etc.

And boy.... do I pay taxes....

Read Girlings article in full. He is quite clear that a) It is looking too late for nukes. b) Coal will help keep the lights on till then and c) A purely free market economy will not provide the response and will take a very strong Government initiative and strategically based support.

''I presume he would prefer a strong central government that will choose Heinberg's "Eco Deal" arrangement to solve things and keep the lights on, but I suspect that the government will give him exactly what he wants by doing it via Heinberg's "Feudal Fascism" route with plenty of klieg lights to keep it all in line. I hope to never succumb to that level of wanting the lights on.''

That statement coming true will best be avoided IF we keep the lights on. But if Feudal Facism comes to pass, I would rather be under the heel of down at heel British Squaddies than the murdering swine of the Blackwater Battalions...

And even if you do live somewhere nice and out of the way in an eco-harmonistic self sufficient lifestyle, the roving bands of Freebooters will find you and round you up or just kill you and yours.

Dont worry, You will wish you kept the lights on too, when the Freebooters come to take what's yours...

''I suggest MUDLOGGER does likewise for himself and those he cares about and spare us his public demands''

I dont know where you live pal, but on an Island this big shared between 60 million plus people, taking care of ones own in isolation doesn't wash as a viable survival technique. We need to sort it at a societal level.

I would like to know what exactly the anti-nukes and anti- coal (and now even anti Severn barrage types) would like to seriously offer up as a viable alternative?

Clue: 60 million people cannot live in hippy teepees and grow their own mueseli.

It may fail.

But we Brits should give it a try.

The alternative is nightmarish.

Ilargi, with all due respect, let us not be reeeeediculous! If there are filters in schools or libraries that filter out the word “idiot” then there must be a thousand other words that would also cause the text to be blocked. This would cause almost everything posted on the net to be blocked.

And the word idiot is used here as a slang word, not as a medical term. If we were concerned with using only the medically correct term then we should perhaps call people like Lovins feces heads that do not realize that the excrement is about to hit the fan. So get off your copulating high horse and lighten up.

And the word "idiot" is not a swear word, it is a term used to denote a lack of intellegence, exactly in the same vein as Lovins used the word "stupid".

By the way, I heard the term "doo doo heads" used, twice, on CNBC the other day. I would say they were very medically incorrect. Perhaps you should post them and tell them to get their act together.

Ron Patterson

Perhaps you might want to consider the filters that many of us have installed in our heads.

When we start reading posts from people who are unnecessarily abusive, etc. we tend to dismiss the message that they might be wishing to impart.

Agreed, does the use of profanity further science?


Richard Heinberg gives us three likely scenarions for the future, none of which involves capitalism saving the day.

Mr Lovins has his own agenda, and since it is a free country - he is free to expound on it. Thinking people on the other hand, should make up their own minds:

Individuals and families should take to heart the advice given prior to every commercial airline flight: “Secure your oxygen mask before helping others.” In other words, see to your own survival prospects first. This is not necessarily selfish behavior: communities and nations in which individual members are prepared and relatively self-sufficient will fare much better than those in which everyone is dependent and unequipped. If no one is prepared, who can teach others what to do? Learn the life-skills of the pre-fossil-fuel era; know how to use and repair hand tools; know where your water comes from and how to compost wastes; grow food.

I read your link. It is "irrelevant",not irreverent. Second, Amory never said anyone was stupid. Third, I have never read anything by Amory where he called people stupid; he is too intelligent and reasonable to do such a thing.

Within a certain context, there is validity to what Lovins says. The marketplace can indeed be an effective tool given the right constraints and the right combinations of incentives and disincentives. The low hanging fruit will be taken care of without intervention. Some of the harder stuff will require carbon taxes so that it will be clear to business that the best course of action is to invest in equipment and processes that will reduce carbon.

As long as emitting carbon is free, however, I agree that China will continue to burn coal like there is no tomorrow (which there may not be if we continue on this way). I agree that Lovins is too optimistic, but he is certainly not stupid.

T: IMO, Lovins is a very sharp guy. I realize I am in the minority on TOD, but IMO sharp guys like Lovins are everywhere in the modern economy- he just doesn't care. He doesn't care one bit about all the concerns which the TOD is focusing on-he is too busy promoting and making money. He will say whatever he needs to say publicly to maximize his income. Again IMO, there aren't any persons with a normal IQ that would have difficulty comprehending the implications of global oil depletion- I would guess this guy has known the implications for quite some time now. Most successful salespeople (which includes most successful people in today's information economy) don't care-everything they say publicly is designed to promote their agenda.

So he uses his knowledge to make money. How is that different from the ones here that use their knowledge to argue for specific approaches simply because they satisfy their social agendas?

In the end the technical aspects aren't that hard to agree on, the arguments are just twisted in different ways to effect specific gains supported by various posters.

Musahi: IMO, the difference is that a lot of the posters on TOD are honestly expressing their views. Whatever Lovins thinks of global oil depletion isn't worth debating-he isn't going to level with anyone publicly anyway, unless he can spin it into money. When you communicate with anyone, the starting point is: does this person actually believe what they are putting out, or are they selling a product? Any guy as successful as this guy who says things like "the marketplace will take care of pollution" should be running for governor of some USA state. The sheeple love the slogans.

I agree with your basic premise and believe that the studies and write ups by the more technical people like Khebab, Ace and some of the Euro guys are most likely driven by pure intellectual or professional curiosity. I don't know a thing about oil but I know how to read data, so I learn over time.

It's all good, one can learn from others agendas and realize how hard they want subsidies for some things and it brings up the need of becoming politically much more active.

BrianT, I agree with you about Lovins. He is promoting, gathering up as much money as possible, and probably has an exit strategy known only to him and perhaps his family.

What is Lovins doing that the Bush family is not doing? It is well known that the Bush family has bought a very large tract of productive land in S. America with a plentifull supply of potable water and well above the forcast induced sea level rise by global warming.

We will never know how many 'promoters' are busily working on their exit strategies while they sell whatever snake oil it takes to make their exit possible... Some of these promoters will survive and might even write an embellished 'history' of their survival...The winners, in this case the survivors, will write the history...Perhaps they will chisel it on stone tablets...lol.

No, I will instead just call him stupid, the same term Lovins used when referring to us.

You might want to read your link more carefully - the beginning of the article makes it very clear that Lovins does not use that term, or indeed any similar one:

"Amory Lovins makes these arguments, (without actually calling you stupid".

Frankly, opening an attempt to mock an opponent's mental competence by failing to read the first 5 lines of your own link doesn't help your effort.

He says peak oil and global warming does not matter because the marketplace will fix everything. The marketplace will always wind up with black ink on the bottom line and that’s all that matters.

He - arguably - says the first, but nowhere says the second. Those two are very different claims, and it's misleading to present them as if they're linked.

Cheaper energy will replace gasoline....We have all heard that one before.

And have yet to show why it can't be true.

As a world-recognized leader in pushing efficiency into the commercial big leagues, Lovins's unsupported assertions on this matter carry a little more weight than those of some guy on the internet. Lovins may well be mistaken, but it'll take more than insults and unsupported disagreement to form a compelling counter-argument.

China, and the rest of the world will stop pouring carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere because they will make more money if they stop. The magic marketplace will fix everything.

That appears to be the general gist of his position, yes. If you disagree with him, then instead of simply repeating his position over and over, you might try formulating a well-supported counterargument. That sort of thing tends to be more persuasive.

Well hell, if the marketplace will fix all our global warming and declining energy problems, then why should we doubt that it will also fix all our other environmental problems? The marketplace will cause falling water tables to rise again.

That you believe market forces cannot solve all problems does not mean that they cannot solve some problems.

It's possible you're right, but mocking and insults add very little of value to the discussion.

Pitt: Cheaper energy WILL replace gasoline- when gasoline is selling for $30 a gallon. Even you are aren't stupid enough to believe that an energy source is lurking around the corner to replace $3 gasoline.

Not 3$, but 5$ to 10$, yes.

You should sell your product in Europe- soon you will be able to sell it in Toronto, where we are currently paying $3.70 for reg

I wrote: Cheaper energy will replace gasoline....We have all heard that one before.

Pitt replied:

And have yet to show why it can't be true.

Well hell, this is what the whole damn debate is all about isn’t it. Lovins champions hydrogen. Can hydrogen ever be produced cheaper than gasoline? If you say yes, then there is no need to discuss this, or anything else with you, any further. See The Hydrogen Hoax.

And it has been shown, over and over that ethanol is one third less energy intensive but cost much more to produce than gasoline, even with government subsidies. Do you expect me, Pitt, to go over all those arguments again? Yes Pitt, you are dead wrong, it has been shown time and time again that no transportation fuel coming down the pike can be produced cheaper than gasoline.

But if you would like to read it all again, check it out Addicted to Bad Data: Getting the Facts Straight on Ethanol

And hereThe most destructive crop on earth is no solution to the energy crisis

But all this misses the point. How much alternative liquid fuel can be produced?

If we planted the whole nation in corn, or switchgrass, or whatever, we could not produce enough to replace gasoline. And the price of food would be driven up dramatically as a result.

And what would be the true price of turning the world into a fuel farm? Not only would there be much less food produced at an astronomical price, but the cost to the environment would be devastating. The Brazilian rain forest would be cleared. Millions of species would go extinct. Weather patterns would be changed and billions would starve as a result.

Oil in the ground is like found money. It is just lying there to be pumped at the small cost of drilling a well. The price charged for a gallon of gasoline is the result of its scarcity, not the cost to produce it, albeit that cost is rising also. Biofuels on the other hand are a different matter altogether. They must be earned, not just at a high cost in time, labor and resources to the producer but also at an astronomical cost to the environment and to the world.

Ron Patterson

Well hell, this is what the whole damn debate is all about isn’t it.

Which is why I argue that the outcome cannot be taken as a given, in either direction.

Can hydrogen ever be produced cheaper than gasoline? If you say yes, then there is no need to discuss this, or anything else with you, any further.

That's remarkably narrow-minded of you.

I was under the impression that much of this site's raison d'etre was the notion that oil was going to get scarce. If oil is sufficiently scarce, yet coal/solar/wind/etc. sufficiently well-developed, then oil will be more expensive than electrolysis-derived hydrogen.

Do you expect me, Pitt, to go over all those arguments again?

I expect you to be able to differentiate between corn ethanol grown in the USA and cane ethanol grown in Brazil.

More importantly, I expect you to have a broader view of what "cheaper energy" could entail than "hydrogen and ethanol". Burning straw men is a poor energy source.

But all this misses the point. How much alternative liquid fuel can be produced?

You're right that it misses the point, but not about what the point is.

The point of contention is "Cheaper energy will replace gasoline". This is not necessarily solely - or at all - a question of liquid fuels.

Near-term? Almost certainly. But Lovins didn't seem to be restricting himself to only the immediate future.

You're making unwarranted assumptions about his beliefs, and then taking him to task for your assumptions. Whacking away at a straw man of your own devising isn't all that productive.

I am disappointed Pitt, I expected a better reply from you. The entire gist of my post dealt with the tremendous cost of biofuels to the environment. And all you can do is promote them and also promote the destruction of the Brazilian rainforest.

At any rate even if you destroy the rainforest the cost of the sugarcane ethanol will still be far higher than oil simply found in the ground. If you say it is cheaper than gasoline then it behooves you to prove it. After all it takes a lot of fuel to cultivate, plant, harvest and then distill sugarcane into ethanol. That would have to be far higher than the few bucks it takes to produce a barrel of oil.

And the biofuel cost of palm oil is destroying the Malaysian rain forest. It is not cheap, neither in actual cost or the cost of destroying the habitat of thousands of wild creatures.

Pitt, did you not even bother to read the links I posted? Have you no comment at all on the destruction of the Brazilian rain forest or the Malaysian rain forest or the extinction of the thousands of species that will be driven into extinction?

Biofuels must destroy the world’s rainforest if it is in any way successful. Refute that Pitt! And even if the entire rainforest were destroyed, there would still not be enough fuel produced to completely replace oil produced from the ground.

Ron Patterson

The entire gist of my post dealt with the tremendous cost of biofuels to the environment.

And the gist of my post dealt with how restricting the debate to biofuels was your mistaken assumption, and that your narrow focus on them does very little to challenge what Lovins was saying.

If you hate biofuels so much, why do you insist on ignoring electric transportation?

Have you no comment at all on the destruction of the Brazilian rain forest

There are 190m hectares of non-rainforest land in Brazil that is not not being used for food crops, forest, human habitation, or the like, and sugar cane is currently planted on 6.2m, of which half is used for ethanol. i.e., Brazilian ethanol is using just 1.6% of the free land in Brazil, and just 0.36% of Brazil's land area.

The rainforest is certainly being destroyed there, but ethanol isn't the cause, no matter how much you might wish it was.

There are 190m hectares of non-rainforest land in Brazil that is not not being used for food crops, forest, human habitation, or the like, and sugar cane is currently planted on 6.2m, of which half is used for ethanol. i.e., Brazilian ethanol is using just 1.6% of the free land in Brazil, and just 0.36% of Brazil's land area.

Before I can reply I will need a source of those stats. There are 845 million hectars of land in Brazil. And you are saying that there are 190 million hectars or 22.4% of the land in Brazil that is not rainforest and is not being used for anything? I flat fu**ing don't believe it!

There is no land anywhere on earth that can be used for something that is not being used for anything! Impossible! All land is occupied. The earth is at 100% of carrying capacity and has been that way since the Cambrian era. Of course I am speaking of the carrying capacity for all creatures, not just human beings. Every hectare is occupied. If we take over the land for sugarcane then we destroy the habitat of a whole lot of other creatures.

And yes, the rainforest is being destroyed because of sugarcane, just as the Malaysian rain forest is being destroyed because of palm oil. To say that it is not is simply to show your lack of knowledge of the situation.

Amazon rainforest may be used to grow sugarcane for ethanol

Environmentalists say that runoff from sugar mills will pollute the region regardless. And, because it's cheaper to raze virgin forest than recover already-devastated lands, they warn illegal deforestation will be hard to control once Amazon sugar farming wins broad support.

Sugarcane is now being planted on areas where the rainforest has already been cleared, and if the idea catches on, more rainforest will simply be cleared to plant more sugarcane.

Ethanol and other biofuels are very expensive to produce, far more expensive than just pulling oil from the ground. And it is even more expensive to the environment. In fact it will be absolutely devastating to the environment.

Ron Patterson

From YouTube: Charlie Rose - Amory Lovins / Ian Schrager. "Segment 1: Amory Lovins, CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute, discusses alternative fuels and the future of energy." Haven't watched it yet myself.

Lovins is co-author of Winning the Oil Endgame, this excerpt from the Wiki page.

"Our energy future is choice, not fate. Oil dependence is a problem we need no longer have—and it’s cheaper not to. U.S. oil dependence can be eliminated by proven and attractive technologies that create wealth, enhance choice, and strengthen common security. This could be achieved only about as far in the future as the 1973 Arab oil embargo is in the past. When the U.S. last paid attention to oil, in 1977–85, it cut its oil use 17% while GDP grew 27%. Oil imports fell 50%, and imports from the Persian Gulf by 87%, in just eight years. That exercise of dominant market power— from the demand side—broke OPEC’s ability to set world oil prices for a decade. Today we can rerun that play, only better. The obstacles are less important than the opportunities if we replace ignorance with insight, inattention with foresight, and inaction with mobilization. American business can lead the nation and the world into the post-petroleum era, a vibrant economy, and lasting security—if we just realize that we are the people we have been waiting for. Together we can end oil dependence forever." (p.xiii)

OPEC lost the ability to set oil prices? I thought that was the definition of a swing supplier. I've been under the impression that they decided the price of oil was just right, ala Goldilocks. Or that they wanted to go easy on production to extend their wells' lifetimes.

Lovins apparently is quite brilliant in his own right, I just wonder what he's really all about, and mostly this shrugging off GW. How will China embracing renewable energy make it more competitive, exactly? Why will they bother to decommission their coal plants at the same time, since the economy must expand?

How will China embracing renewable energy make it more competitive, exactly?

Because the level of pollution they're already generating is costing them enormous amounts of money - see, for example, "Pollution costs equal 10% of China's GDP" from the Shanghai Daily.

The situation is probably worse than in was when that was written (last year), but at least there's a recognition in powerful government circles that pollution is undesirable.

Yeah but those costs are externalized to its population and their healthcare system. Not that I endorse it, but it is how they remain competitive on the international markets.

Renewables are and will remain an expensive option and will reduce the competitiveness of their economy by a huge margin. This is especially true if they need to integrate a very large deal of them - more then 15-20% for example.

If China wants to fix its pollution problems and remain competitive on the international markets it needs to stop building coal and go nuclear. Wait, they are already doing it! Surprise, surprise.

I wish I had missed it, talk about a waste of time reading enough of yours and his post to find that out... thanks a bunch Darwinian.

If you serve putrefied dog wrapped in self important verbiage at table don't expect accolades.

So watch it stupid:)

I think Lovins misses the main point. The marketplace is a necessary but not sufficient condition.

As Jared Diamond pointed out in his book Collapse, societal inertia can cause civilizations to collapse.

More than the marketplace will be required to provide the substantial modification in behavior, expectations, and infrastructure our society needs.

Thanks Kenbob. You make your point readably and effectively. So tiresome hacking through underbrush.

You do unfortunately sidestep the thought that a complete collapse of civilization may be the best way open to us and would beat LevinK's thermonuclear destruction solution. Of course, on the other hand, nuking us off the face of the earth could be considered a plus :)

The marketplace as a solution to all problems is pretty much absurd on the face of it. It is a wish fullfillment fantasy--if a demand exists a solution will be found, if you want it bad enough, you will get it, etc. People have wanted a fountain of youth for a very long time now but the Mask of the Red Death still hold sway over all.

I have respect for Amory Lovins (his skills, his experience, his tireless efforts), but I do not think he is a very realistic guy. In fact, I think he is a patently optimistic techno-fix guy. Ask Bill Reinert of Toyota USA what he thinkgs of Amory Lovins' car concept. And this is a guy who also thinks highly of Lovins, he just doesn't see it as a very realistic scenario. Infrastructures and industries do not change overnight, regardless of how cool tech one comes up with (well, sw industry might, but very hw infrastructure intensive automotive industry does not).

A hurricane can release energy equivalent to a 10-megaton nuclear bomb every 20 minutes, which means that no amount of dike building will help a coastal city in its path.

Well, how can I take the article seriously after such a dumb opening line? How much energy does the sun release every 20 minutes? So, we must have been burnt to a crisp long ago by that logic. No matter that both a hurricane and the sun spread their energies far and wide...


I live in Galveston, Texas which is an island in the Gulf of Mexico. We were the site of the largest natural diaster in the United States, the Hurricane of September 1900. The storm killed soewhere between 6 and 8 thousand people, about 1/4th of the population.

After the strom, we built a 17' concrete seawall and filled the island in a slope to Galveston Bay. We've had several hurricanes since, and numerous tropical storms. And its worked pretty good, the largest problem was in 1915 when about 20 people were killed.

Results ought to count for something.
Bob Ebersole

Yes, exactly. Thanks for making the point concrete.

Speek, you're not suggesting that a 17' concrete sea wall is not going to protect you from a 10 megaton thermonuclear blast are you??

I don't think I suggested anything one way or the other about any thermonuclear blasts, real or hypothetical.

Hey, action like this is what we need to mitigate Peak Oil, right? Cutting over HALF of public transit bus routes? Chicago seems to have zero commitment to public services (a library website more antiquated than that in Jefferson County, Ohio, for Christ's sake), and would definitely be among my LAST choices for a post-peak refuge.


It has gotten a little out of hand here, yes. For the past couple of years the CTA (the "El"), PACE (suburban bus), and METRA (commuter rail) have all diverted most of their capital budget to fund daily operations. All three agencies have published "doomsday" budgets for the first of the year if new state funding does not come through. These budgets will eliminate over half of all bus routes in the metropolitan area and cut back on train service. Doomsday has so far been averted by a series of pay day loans and other financial shenanigans by the state. I don't think they can keep that up for very long however. The governor and the legislators have been fighting like cats in a sack all year. I have little hope of a transit funding agreement anytime soon.

What happens when we can't fund basic services? Decline of the empire anyone? Law of diminishing returns? It is happening before my eyes.

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

I've been waiting for Illinois to get their 2008 solar rebate program reinstated so we could add a 2.5kw PV system to our solar thermal install of last year, but this lack of public transit funding is BAD; we can hang our hats on homeland security & Iraqi democracy. Visited Boulder, CO last wknd for a possible reloc, but staying on the East side near 29th Street RETAIL was congested & void of hometown culture. If they do have a carbon tax there, it's nominal. Despite shrinking water tables, our hotel did not even have a water-saving keep your sheets for the duration option. Oregon sustainable, anyone?

Re: Production costs for farmers

The danger lurking for modern day farmers with rapidly
increasing production costs due to rising energy prices
should come as no surprise. Agriculture in the U.S. is not
an independent, free enterprise as many would think, the federal government has a stranglehold on 49 of 50 farmers doing business in this country. The last I heard, 98% of U.S. farmers participate in some type of government program. Farm commodity subsidies including the 50 plus cent per gallon ethanol subsidy keeps farmers beholden to the Fed much like a junkie to the pusher, they can't seem to break the habit. Modern agriculture is not sustainable with all of the fossil fuel and chemical inputs, organic agriculture will be the survivor. Organics work, I have proved it to myself on may own land, my net income per acre would be the envy of the chemical enthusiasts in my area if I shared the information. Sustainable agriculture and food worth paying for will not exist until the government gets out of farming.

In terms of food and transportation, we need to be thinking in terms of what has worked in the past, and what is currently working, with minimal oil input:

Published on 22 Jul 2004 by San Francisco Chronicle. Archived on 25 Apr 2005.
Berkeley: Urban farmers produce nearly all their food with a sustainable garden in their backyard

Streetcars 100 Years Ago


I have two suggestions that would improve drumbeat for me:

1. Name sources in the blurbs you quote. I give some sources more credence than others.

2. Apply the little blue (new) labels to your drumbeat entries, as well as to reader comments. It seems you add things as the day goes on, and I sometimes miss the new stuff because it doesn't stand out.

Something to think about...

Mark Folsom

As for naming sources, all you have to do is move your cursor over the link and then look at the bottom left hand corner of your screen for the name of the link (source). This works in Firefox and Explorer.

You can hover over the links and the URL will show in your browser, generally revealing what the source is, unless its domain name is woefully obscure. A bit of a chore perhaps but Leanan possibly doesn't want the extra work (amazing work she does in the first place!) and added clutter of listing sources.

And I have a request/question of my own - is there a way of shunting all new comments to a page of their own?

1. Hold your mouse over the link. You can see where it's going before you click. I'm too lazy to list the source for every article. :-)

2. The new labels are applied automatically to new comments, and there's no way to do that with DrumBeat entries. I'd have to add and remove them by hand, which would be way too much work.

I always put the new stories on top, so just read down until you hit one you've already seen.

"1. Hold your mouse over the link. You can see where it's going before you click. I'm too lazy to list the source for every article. :-)"

I wouldn't use the word "lazy" in any description of you. I think you do a phenomenal job, and a lot of it.

Thanks for the tips--that I was too lazy to learn on my own.

A mouse-over doesn't always work, depends on your settings.

What will always work is a right click on the link, then click "properties"

The new book Zoom appears to be stuck in the automobile paradigm. After studying electric cars for a couple of years, I am starting to think that Alan is right that electric transit is the only real solution.

This opinion comes from three considerations:

(1) Electric cars are expensive. A middle class family may eventually be able to afford one powered with nickel metal hydride batteries, but the lithium ion batteries will be out of their price range.

(2) While electric cars are more efficient than gasoline cars on an energy basis, you are still moving a lot of mass to get one person to a destination.

(3) The economic trends has been a leveling in the distribution of income in the global economy. Even without an energy crisis, America is going to see a reduction in actual income. This would make it difficult to maintain the one car per person lifestyle.

During the transition, I will still need to have transportation, so I am planning to get a Vetrix electric motorcycle next spring.

It depends on how many batteries. If you think electric cars must have a 200-mile range to be useful, then how can you think Alan's plan is relevant? Not many of us are going to use trains for 100-mile round-trip commutes, nor is that the main focus of his plan. If we retreat to the cities to use urban rail for 10-mile commutes, that still won't get us to the grocery store one mile away, but short-range electric cars can get us both to the store and the train station.

Super: If you drive very few miles a gasoline powered car will work just fine even in the worst case scenario of rationing. IMO, for the next 20 years, suburban sprawl is in trouble and the trucking industry, but the rest might be fine. Everyone underestimates the incredible waste.

Saudi four year plan for major project expansion until 2011:


This is not new, but they seem to be gearing up the PR campaign (perhaps for the spring publication of the book?)

Out of the Darkness

It's a book supposedly debunking peak oil. The argument is apparently that Mike Ruppert and Matt Simmons are in cahoots with the US government, trying to bedazzle the American public with the peak oil myth, so they won't notice there's no WMD in Iraq. o_O

That's strange. I can personally testify that Mike Ruppert did more to turn me against the United States government than any other one person. As in, going from believing the government is incompetent to believing it's criminal and treasonous.

Leanan: Actually, this Crane guy portrays Ruppert as a dupe taken in by Simmons (working with Deutsch). His arguments against oil depletion are ludicrous-not even worth debunking.

As I have said before, the positions taken by ExxonMobil and CERA, et al, invite stuff like this--and provide some degree of credibility to the conspiracy theories.

If we have trillions and trillions of barrels of oil left to produce--and if the following statements are correct--then lower crude oil production and higher prices must be the result of a "conspiracy."

“Daniel Yergin Day”

"Rather than a 'peak,' we should expect an 'undulating plateau' perhaps three or four decades from now."

Mr. Robert Esser
Senior Consultant and Director, Global Oil and Gas Resources
Cambridge Energy Research Associates
Understanding the Peak Oil Theory
Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality
December 7, 2005

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

ExxonMobil Advertisement in New York Times, June 2, 2006

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

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

Do you get the sense that the "Iron Triangle Empire" is getting ready to strike back against suggestions that we can't have an infinite rate of increase in the our consumption of a finite energy resource base?

Not "Peak Oil", But Lots More Oil
By Alan Caruba on Oct 14, 07

As Duncan Clarke, Chairman and CEO of Global Pacific & Partners, the author of a new book, “The Battle for Barrels” points out regarding America’s continental shelf, “The undiscovered oil potential in the areas demarcated for possible offshore (exploration) in the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico could allow the tapping of up to 85 billion barrels of oil that technically could be recoverable awaits the political passage of bills through the legislature”, i.e., Congress.

With the price of oil hitting more than $80 per barrel, one would think that Congress would be inclined to opening access to those billions of barrels, but the current Democrat-controlled Congress is more concerned about a bogus global warming than it is about insuring Americans can drive their cars and trucks, heat their homes, and process oil for the countless products it produces. And this doesn’t even include the vast reserves of natural gas that are estimated to exist.

The fact is that there are billions more barrels to be found in the world, whether it’s in the Middle East, Africa, Russia, Venezuela, and much of the yet to be geologically researched map of the world.

ANALYSIS-Frail (crude oil) freight market on edge for extra OPEC oil
Thu Oct 11, 2007 3:17pm BST
By Stefano Ambrogi

LONDON, Oct 11 (Reuters) - World tanker freight rates are languishing near four-years lows but may be set for a boost from extra Saudi oil flows to the East, a large part of OPEC's promised output increase from November.

But ship industry sources say the increase in tanker bookings has yet to emerge and some warn that stumbling oil demand, were the world economic outlook to darken, would puncture any revival.

The coming days will be crucial for the market, shippers say.

"Although we are all thinking that we should see an upturn imminently, there is no evidence of that happening at present," said Simon Chattrabhutti a senior analyst at Galbraith's ship brokers in London.

"But it is still too early to say that is not going to happen. On a historical basis it's really November that you see the spike in crude freight rates," he said referring to winter demand when rates peak.

Thats exactly what crossed my mind.I think mis-direction,and blue smoke generators are getting ready to go in high gear shortly.2 reasons come to mind.

1. TPTB wish to remain that way,wanting to maintain control of the perception of what reality is... to control buying habits,investment ect.Truly effective response to peak will require gut-wrenching change that politicians are terrified of.Or being associated{i.e.blamed} for.

2.The real attempt to quash movement to begin the changes needed has not begun...most of the public relations work they are doing now involves the occupation,and stopping schip,and other dem moves .

The stupidity of crowds:

Diet and Fat: A Severe Case of Mistaken Consensus

Groups are surprisingly prone to reach mistaken conclusions even when most of the people started out knowing better, according to the economists Sushil Bikhchandani, David Hirshleifer and Ivo Welch. If, say, 60 percent of a group’s members have been given information pointing them to the right answer (while the rest have information pointing to the wrong answer), there is still about a one-in-three chance that the group will cascade to a mistaken consensus.

Yes, this is one facet of collective human stupidity.

But here's an odd notion for you: this is one of the few which could offer a little hope.

Once you recognize that irrationality is the basis for most societal decisions, you are left with the thin gruel of the irrational-and-untrue and the irrational-but-true. (rational-and-true and rational-but-untrue generally amount to statistical rounding errors in comparison).

Thus, if you can get evangelicals to support climate-chage remediation due to their idiosyncratic interpretation of a book ostensibly written by an omniscient god, well so much the better. In general no rational idea can successfully contend against irrational ideas unless it enjoys significant irrational support. (DJ's Third Lament). I generally expect to be flamed for noting it here since rational idealists hate this reality (3rd Lament, 2nd corollary), but there it is.

Thus, recognizing the importance of 'information cascades' as identified here is important. No reasonable plan will be implemented without the approval of fools. Thus, in addition to crafting rational arguments, it is useful to also cultivate memes which fit into the preconceived worldviews of, and appeal to, the deluded, the foolish, and the mistaken.

Of course, universal rationality would also be good. I'm for it.

The average person is a high school graduate with a "C" average. He or she has been indoctrinated since birth with thinking habits from parents, peers, high school, and religion; most of which are irrational. It is too much to expect such a person to rethink all they have been taught and become rational. Only in rare cases do such people learn to question and think independently.

It is too much to expect such a person to ... become rational.

It is physically impossible to become "rational".
The human brain is not built that way (by random forces of evolution).

Instead we are built to be herd animals and to follow along with the mainstream crowd.

This cascading consensus study is just one more brick in the wall of evidence pointing to the fact that humans are not "rational". They don't think for themselves. They think as part of the crowd, part of the mob.

It is only by pure chance that you personally may have been born into a wise crowd as opposed to a mad mob.

The problem with "No reasonable plan will be implemented without the approval of fools" is that, by your own "thin gruel" statement, it is also true that no unreasonable plan will be implemented without the approval of fools.

So what does this sophistry accomplish? Just curious.

The problem with "No reasonable plan will be implemented without the approval of fools" is that, by your own "thin gruel" statement, it is also true that no unreasonable plan will be implemented without the approval of fools.

So what does this sophistry accomplish? Just curious.


First, it isn't a sophistry. All plans arrived at by groups of people, reasonable or unreasonable, require irrational support. It is counter-intuitive to rational idealists that this is true for rational ideas.

Second, understanding objective reality is a prerequisite for rational planning. I have here clearly described a facet of objective human reality.

Moreover, this is such a basic blind spot among thinkers-of-thoughts and planners-of-plans that not considering it will likely doom any rational plan. It may well be the most important insight you have ignored this year.

In your case it apparently accomplished nothing. Nothing to be ashamed of. These aren't the droids you're looking for. Move along.

I am very well aware of the need to appeal to broad cross-section of people and world views. And that more decisions are made (even by "logical" people) for emotional rather than logival reasons.

Thus my attempt at multi-pronged multi-layered appeals.

Best Hopes,


And I would do much to see you succeed. I'm a fan.

Although much of what I post here seems tongue-in-cheek, it is based on many decades of preposterous campaigning experience.

Best hopes for support, rational and otherwise.

Your thoughts on

1) My tying into hope (My under construction website is HopefortheFuture.info with a powerful, I hope, emotional impact (need to resize graphics). Also my "Best Hopes" tagline.

2) Tying into GW concerns (2 for the price of one)

3) Tying into growing economy mantra of our society
(Reality is economy may shrink less w/ my ideas)

4) Tying into military/strategic concerns (create non-oil transportation system.

And any other feedback.

Best Hopes,


Remember to solicit help from your psychologist friend if you haven't, she should know a thing or two about how the human mind works, and perhaps be able to point you to helpful books and articles.

Advertising and PR (and sadly political campaigning) are multibillion dollar industries, there is probably alot to learn there aswell.

There was an article posted on the drumbeat not long ago about wich wordings were counterproductive and wich were effective in getting people to conserve energy, refrain from stealing, and so on. I found it most interesting.

Greenish, one of the top posts that I have read on TOD! An excellent and succinct summation of the collective irrationality of humanity and a possible way to overcome it...Something we have probably all considered at some time but few, if any, have so bluntly and correctly put to paper...Or, pixels, in this case.

Politicans and the clergy (read con men) use human irrationality all the time but I suspect that very few of them recognize what they are doing, instead, they are simply acting on instinct.

I admit that when trying to look ahead I see little reason for hope for humanity and I really dont care anymore. I have spent more time than I should have trying to reason with ignorance, irrationality, and stupidity...The time I have left will be spent doing what I want to do. With any luck I will not be around to witness the worst of the debacle. Collectively humans do not deserve the beautiful world that we have come close to ruining...The earth deserves better than us.

Thanks for the kind words.

A central irony for me - and I cohabit with many - is that despite being something of an uber-doomer, I have been repeatedly successful in global-scale advocacy campaigns which most would have considered impossible.

Thus, I don't even allow myself to give up. Instead I analyze, cultivate gallows humor, and consider the largest confluence of problems that humans, and perhaps life, will face prior to the sun expanding. The ultimate impossible mission, certainly.

The earth does, indeed, deserve better. There are probably optimal answers to many of the intractable problems. These answers are almost certainly not what most humans wish to hear, though.

Be well and laugh. Make music when you can.

I have spent more time than I should have trying to reason with ignorance, irrationality, and stupidity

...The time I have left will be spent doing what I want to do.


Well, there it is. Your problem is nested in your reply. Stop trying to "reason" with them and start sending them mixed messages. Watch what Madison Avenue does; what K Street does. These successful manipulators of the mob never "reason" with the masses. They signal to the herd with emotional content.

How big is your carbon footprint?

Step Back, I dont have a problem. I am not interested in 'copying Madison Ave or K Street.' The con men that inhabit those locals ARE THE PROBLEM, not part of the solution. F**k the herd, I am no longer going to spend any time sending them a signal...Unless it is middle digital indication of their IQ...I consider such a signal to contain all the 'emotional content' necessary for me to convey. I retired in 1993, at a reasonably young age, and did it by deciding early on that being a consumer is a very sutpid idea. Instead of buying chrome I invested in large caps, gold and real estate. My bills consist of taxes, insurance and an occasional repair that I cannot accomplish myself.

'How big is my carbon footprint?' Well, lets see...I have been riding motorcycles for over fifty years and piled up untold miles on them. Every gallon of gas I have burned in a bike has taken me on average three times as far as every gallon of gas burned in a four wheel vehicle. I doubt that your carbon footprint will ever be as small as mine...even if you are fortunate enough to live to my age. I was well aware of what the population explosion of humans would do to the earth back in the early 1960s. Were you around then? When I lived and worked in a cold climate I used a wood stove to reduce my heating oil bill from $760 per year to $36 per year...Sure, burning wood is not good for our atmosphere but it is no worse than fuel oil and the wood was on my own property so I was not exporting money to the mid east. Yeah, I think you might have a tough road if all you do is mouth platitudes like 'carbon footprint'...talk is cheap on the street.

Whoa River,

I didn't mean to unleash an emotional flash flood out of you.

The "How big is YOUR carbon footprint" line was a spoof. It's what Madison Avenue does. Get it? It incites the emotional parts of the brain because it talks about "YOU" and it challenges your "bigness". Get it?

Like you, I have tried to "reason" with my fellow human beings. I was astounded to see how their eyes "glazed over" as soon as I brought up the topic of Peak Oil.

Anyway, after much study I conclude that my fellow species mates are not "rational" (and neither am I because I'm one of them).


As to being special, smart and ahead of the herd; I wish I could say I was (or am), but alas I was not and am not.

The best I can do here is to point to the evidence that shows we humans are not "rational". We are emotional. We cling to the herd. We wish to remain "mainstream". We look for constant approval from our clans. It's how the random forces of evolution shaped us.


My name is Step Back and I approve of this message.

RE: Pick Up Dealers Haul In Sales - But Can They Last?

Just an observation that I made about a week ago...When I purchased my mid size PU truck I purchased the lifetime free oil and filter change deal...That was 7 years ago. While they are doing the service on my vehicle I walk around the lot looking at the inventory and noticed that there were only 6 new midsize trucks on the lot for sale but close to 200 of the large PUs for sale. So, the inventory of small PUs is down to 6 from about 100 in approx the last three months but the large truck inventory has not changed. Some of the large trucks have been sitting on the lot for quite a while.

Perhaps the big trucks are selling like hot cakes in other areas...Not here.

They are selling to chavistan with 10K on the hood and financed over 60 or even 72 months. How long do you think they will be driving them?

How do you purchase a free deal?

Musashi, as you well know there is no free lunch. I purchased the 'free deal' on oil and filter changes by purchasing the vehicle from the dealer. At the time of purchase vehicles sales were very slow and the dealership was offering steep discounts on new vehicles. I feel certain that the dealer profits by some new vehicle sales while people are at the dealership taking advantage of the 'free deal'. BTW, the 'free deal' also includes free lifetime car washes.
Since most miles that I travel are on a motorcycle my pu truck has only 27,000 miles after 7 years of ownership. All scheduled maintenence (aside from oil/filter changes) is done on time and correctly by a friend that is chief mechanic at an Accura dealership. He also owns his own shop where he moonlites on vehicles belonging to friends (he has a couple of pan heads and we spend Sundays riding together if his shop is not backed up). I feel that my current pu will be the last four wheel vehicle that I purchase so the 'free deal' will definitely save me money...unless the dealership goes under. What do you estimate a car wash once per month plus oil/filter change and all fluid checks/top ups once every three months is worth? Dealerships dont care for people that keep their vehicles forever but it was there call, not mine.

Just kidding. :>)

I do lots of the same stuff, except no one touches my bikes or car. I think it's bad juju.

I took the Metro down to the national mall today to check out the Solar Decathlon. There was a pretty big crowd - far more than I'd imagined, and there was a long wait to get into each of the houses. It was a collection of many of the things we talk about here, put together by students who for the most part seemed quite knowledgeable about the problem in general, what they'd created to solve it, and prospects for their ideas showing up in general use.

Some of the cool items and concepts:
-Warmboard (for building an insulated floor with radiant heating tubing built in).
-Ecolawn grass (14" deep root system, never needs mowing)
-Apricus (evacuated tubes for water heating).
-Richlite (pressed paper panels for counters and walls).
-Plyboo (fantastic-looking plywood made of bamboo, very strong, relatively renewable).
-Induction stoves throughout.
-Flourescent lighting with dimming proportional to ambient light.
-Outback inverters.
-Some kind of thermal tanks made in Quebec.
-Use of shipping containers for housing.
-Greywater treatment with plants around the house.

We only got to see five of the houses, the lines were so long. Maryland's was aesthetically most pleasing, although we didn't get in to see the one from Darmstadt which looked very slick too. The UC Boulder people seemed to know the most but their house was hideously ugly. The MIT people did a deceent house and were super enthusiastic in a New England crunchy genius sort of way. The Madrid house was pretty sloppily constructed and abysmally dreary inside. NYIT did a great job of showing their building systems whereas most houses tried to hide them. Illinois-Champaign was pretty inside and out but their novel heating/cooling method seemed shady (refrigerator coils suspended above the living areas).

Most striking was the fact that other than the output of the PV arrays, hard numbers and engineering data were rare to see. The displays were oriented toward the interested layperson rather than a knowledgeable construction or engineering type. I suppose that's their audience, but I came away wanting much more technical detail of how the systems worked and how they were designed and constructed. The workshops that I dropped in on were at the most basic level.

There wasn't any specific discussion of oil; the houses just addressed resource scarcity in general. It was pretty holistic -- water, materials, energy, food, waste.

Fun way to spend an afternoon.

I was listening to Alan Lammey today on AM radio 950 in Houston, TX. He is predicting oil to hit 86 or 87 this week. And he is saying the markets are in for a big correction. He seems to be very accurate on his predictions. We shall see by Friday!

Here's an article about how the Pentagon is suggesting space-based solar as a solution to eliminating reliance on imported oil.

The Pentagon's National Security Space Office (NSSO) proposed collecting solar rays in space and beaming it back to Earth. It stated in the report that it feels that this is a "near-term" solution, which could be realized very quickly.

Link here.