Houston ASPO Day 2 part 1

This is the fourth segment on the ASPO Conference and follows a report on the Workshop day, the first morning report, and the rest of Thursday. We pick up on Friday morning, which began with a talk by Peter Tertzakian on the impact of resource constraints. He began by showing the rate at which the electric light was adopted into American homes, noting that essentially 100% was not reached until the 1980’s from inception in 1890. Initially the rate of change was very slow. To make a change there has to be a compelling alternative at a cheaper price, and yet as energy consumption has grown there has been a pattern. First the economy grows, then pressure starts to build up, then there is a breaking point, with the introduction of “a magic bullet”, and the cycle restarts. We have reached a point where the cycle has reached the breaking point – and now we look for the magic bullet. He pointed out that this occurred early in Japan in the 1970’s, and that they made the switch and by adding LNG and nuclear they have been able to stabilize oil consumption.

Oil, however, has many attractive properties, so why should we now change from it? From the 1908 arrival of the model T car growth has led us to congestion, urban growth and commuting times that have increased more than 20%. And change is not necessarily productive, after buying fluorescent lights, he now leaves them on longer.

The problem is one of scale, with few realizing not only the size of the current problem but also that to come. In India Tata Motors are about to introduce a car that will cost a Lakh (100,000 rupees or $2,500) which can be anticipated to become an enormous success with their growing middle class, and concurrently a large fuel demand generator. Within the $65 trillion world GDP the largest growth rates are in the developing countries.

In the beginning getting oil out of the ground needed only a simple hole drilled, now we have the complex structures required, for example, to drill wells off Sakhalin Island, and now Russia is literally at the North Pole. There is $20 billion being invested in the tar sands, don’t they have anywhere better to go? And the answer is No! Reserve estimates have been built on a recovery factor that is more political than technical. Yet to get us out of this problem we must realize that time is a critical value. Yet if the data on oil is bad, on Natural Gas it is even worse. And these raise questions as to how good is the futures market? Demand destruction in the market is what’s also happening to the U.S. dollar.

He cited several breakthrough technologies that are helping or needed: better control of the water:oil interface; short lateral development with controlled hydrofracs; and the potential of subsurface combustion. But in the end he feels that we should step back and let the market work.

Part of the problem is that those of opposing sides of this debate are rude to one another. We must learn to talk to one another and allow some technical exchange. We need some form of “Energy Ethics,” and he left us to consider the “ticking bomb of depletion.”

The last magic bullet was nuclear, but it only captured 10% of the market and we must judge biofuels, wind and solar against this. For those in China that used processed coal briquettes as fuel, natural gas is a tremendous step forward, and so demand has grown 8 bcf/day/year outside the US. And so we will move from Peak Oil to Peak Energy. The next magic bullet will likely be a change in lifestyle, since to balance we must change the demand side of the picture.

He was then joined in a panel that included Roger Bezdek, our Alan Drake, and Justin Ward of Toyota, who each made a presentation before answering audience questions. (Questions were sent up on cards, which gave a much better control and did away (almost) with audience statements and comments. The panel theme was how are we going to cope with this “perfect storm.”

Beginning with a comment that we will see a shake-out in the auto industry, Roger Bezdek noted that conventional wisdom is that we will see untrammeled growth into the foreseeable future. Passenger traffic is growing faster than the GDP. China and India expect to have 10-12% growth over this period. This is all being threatened as energy costs rise above labor costs. EIA project that the amount of aviation fuel being consumed is rising at a rate that, if continued, may well be half demand. If this is the canary in the coal mine, it is still remarkable healthy. Fuel price has tripled, yet demand still continues to rise.

As GDP rises demand also rise, but remember that this works both ways. If peak oil is in 2008 then it is optimistic to assume that GDP will only drop 1%, and a recession occurs with a 2% drop. Thus nations will start to see, instead of a 150% rise in revenue, a 50% cut. As a result excess capacity will develop, and the bonds for airports will fail. This will cascade through the tourism business costing millions of jobs, and as gas becomes less available who will be given priority in access to liquid fuels. (Fear not he felt confident we would still, with the right amount of cash, be able to get fresh strawberries in February). The Government should initiate mitigation measures, but with a ten to twenty year lead time, it is now too late.

Alan Drake , began by discussing the commitment of Switzerland, a country that went through the Second World War without oil, to developing rail use. They still walk, or use electricity since it takes 1 btu of electricity to do the work of 20 btu of diesel. The talk discussed some of the benefits of the transition from road transport to rail, but these are better covered in his posts on this site, one of which I have linked to with his name. He is now working with the Millennium Institute as they evolve their models and scenarios for the future. He covered the French plan to produce new trains within the next four years, and it is a country where all but 5 of the cities over 100,000 population are putting in light trams. In 2012 one of these towns will have more light rail than Houston. But he pointed out that there was a country that had gone through this before, and transformed itself – it could do it again, and that was the United States.

Justin Ward of Toyota talked about their 200-year plan, which includes the fact that they have a housing division. Change is driven by the growing population of the world, and the globalization of that market. The short term path to mitigating GHG is to switch vehicles over to hybrids, and to work on the cradle-to-grave generation of emissions. He discussed the difference between the Volt and the Prius . The challenge in both cases is to improve battery technology, and to speed the charging time. But remember that the way in which the power arrives at the socket is important and thus, in counting emissions one must also recognize that while electricity use in Frnace may be good, in China it may be less so. The hybrid is an enabling technology that will lead to the eco-car. And remember that, 9 years after it was introduced, the Prius has only 0.2% of the market.

In order to compress the Question and Answers that followed I am just going to try an catch the high points (or the ones I could hear and write down) and slightly re-order the answers. For certain trips it will be more efficient still to fly than to drive. We can recycle batteries through a number of existing centers. By moving freight from heavy trucks to railways, one could save 25 mbd of oil. And while the railways in the US have looked at electrification there are only two majors left and with little competition there is no incentive to change. Yes there is a need for investment in exhaust cleanup, but it remains too expensive to make the switch to electricity at this time.

In regard to the collapse of airport bonds, this is merely a warning flag, and the collapse of the sub-prime market is a small precursor to the damage that Peak Oil will do. William McDonough (thanks mdsolar) is building 6 cities in China to house 800 million folk. This indiates the need for growth in City planning. We cannot continue the growth nor ignore the investment in our current infrastructure. (Though some malls will go bankrupt). A quarter of the US population want to live in a transportation oriented community. With the Tesla the power electronics is the best part of that program. But the key problem remains the battery and there remain concerns over its size. Most batteries run in the 50-80% charge range which works well, but deep cycling (driving say 200 miles) would cause more damage and shorten battery life. (At this point James Kunstler objected to our unwillingness to consider switching from a car-centric society.)

It was time for a break. And after the break the new panel moved on to discuss the National State and Local Energy Policy Responses under the guidance of Debbie Cook who had been one of the highlights of the Cork ASPO Meeting .

(Small apology – I had to attend to other things and so my notes in this session aren’t as good as usual, my apologies, but just another reason to check out the posted presentations ).
The discussion was led off by John Kaufman of the Oregon Department of Energy, who had headed an Energy Task Force and who discussed this. He stressed the need to maintain cohesion and to maintain a sense of community and cohesion as he went through a list of eleven items. He also suggested that you take the short time remaining that tourism is viable to visit Oregon, but remember to leave afterwards.

Roger Duncan of Austin Power, the utility company, talked without a power point (so see you’re definitely going to have to get the DVDs.) He felt that the relationship between the City and the utility was one of the most progressive in the country. They were able to reduce demand sufficiently in the city that they could close a coal-powered plant without needing to replace it. They are now working to eliminate the need for a second 700 MW plant. They do this with more green power programs, promoting among other things the plug-in hybrid . There was an example of this in the foyer outside the meeting, and the battery size issue did not seem to be a problem, in the brief look that I had of it. The plan is to have these widely available in a couple of years.

Austins plan is to install 100 MW of solar and to undertake a zero or compatible energy home program. These houses, fitted with solar on the roof, should, over a year, have net zero energy requirement. The city fleet should be off petroleum by 2020, and they are looking at introducing wind. In looking at the future there is a growing need to communicate and to bring the community into the discussion. We are also seeing some politicians trying to one-up each other, and doing so promise things that require a rewriting of the laws of physics. There is a need to prioritize, and to look for local solutions, since for example, some of the things Austin does are unnecessary in Seattle, where the power is hydro. He noted that the cost of new power plants is now at a staggering level, and that overall they have not been able to reduce their carbon footprint because they still need the power.

Senator Mary Whipple then talked about issues at the state level, pointing out that it many cases it is the states that are making the running. They use policy, rules and regulations and funding to drive change, but it often has to be a compromise in order to get things done. There is an increased use of RPS legislation , though in Florida this can be done by executive order. RPS exist in 25 states with the targets for renewable energy percentages ranging from 25% in 25 for IL, MN, OR to 20 by 20 for CO, CT, DE, HI and NM to 20 by 2010.

She also praised the LEED Program which is raising building code standards. Other initiatives include tax credits, arranging for decoupling so that utilities just don’t make more money from selling more power, and rebates from selling hybrids or making conversions.

Instead of the video from Congressman Bartlett , his energy advisor John Darnell talked about Federal policy. This is not a hot topic in Washington, and won’t be without public awareness and pressure. We are like the frog in the pot in that the slow rise in prices hides the fact that we are being boiled. We need real leadership to define the problem, since the response to “we need more . . .” cannot continue to be, “let’s pass this legislation to provide it!” We can’t produce our way out of this mess. We are reaching a teachable moment. The quickest solution at the moment is conservation, but we need planning. He mentioned the hope for the future that is illustrated with the Solar Decathlon where colleges compete in installing solar powered houses on the Mall in Washington. (Darmstadt won).

Elizabeth Jones of the Texas Railroad commission talked about the commission role, noting that it was the pre-cursor of OPEC, and now-a-days has nothing to do with railroads. Oil however plays a powerful role in Texas politics., a place with 350,000 welss. Taxes (4.6% oil, 7.6% natural gas) go into a “rainy day” fund, that sometimes has to be used. It also funds R&D. Natural gas is still viable to fuel vehicles and Texas produces 6 tcf/yr. The latest impact has been the production from the Barnett Shale which even holds producable gas under Dallas/Fr Worth airport. They are recovering 1.7 bcf/day from 5,477 wells in a formation that is expensive to produce.

Debbie Cook closed the morning presentations and started by giving a different quote from James Schlesinger than the ones used earlier. Ho pointed out that the public must be hit over the head repeatedly with a 2x4 if one desires to get its attentions. It is hard to overcome the inertia of the status quo. She googles “Peak oil” in the Portland paper and got 127 hits, in the LA Times not one. We must sell the problem, and the best way is not to use peak oil, but rather the economics of the situation. There were 1.2 million households disconnected because they could not pay their utility bill. Her city has a bill of $4 million a year for electricity, $1 million for natural ga and a vehicle fuel bill of $1.5 million (excluding waste management (Numbers corrected thaks to Debbie's correcting post below). And in California 10% of the energy bill goes just to move water. There are lots of ways to save money, including using sewage to make methane. The city did an Energy Audit and found that it could save $1.38 million with cool roof and window insulation being the major contributors. But “Life is a series of Presentations,” and she challenged us to go out and talk to folk, and particularly elected folk.

It was then time for lunch, and it was a real pleasure to have the Prof join us for that, at our table. This was the first time we had actually met and was a great deal of fun, but that is another story . . . This one is already long enough and so I will break and return tomorrow with the last segment, and on Tuesday with my wrap.

The comments that have been made by those who were there have been very helpful, so please continue to add, criticize and comment.



as always, we appreciate your help in spreading these ideas to others who have not heard them.

Heading Out,

It's William McDonough. You can hear the first part of the Montichello Dialogs this week on New Dimemsions Internet Radio at 1 AM, 7 AM, 1 PM and 7 PM Eastern. This is an excellent interview and explains, to some extent, the Asian connection. There is also an interview with the late David Brower. 3 AM Eastern is the first of the six hour rotation for this. McDonough, building on the work of Bucky Fuller, is a persuasive and effective anti-doomer.


Thanks, I have corrected the spelling, appreciate the help.

"He began by showing the rate at which the electric light was adopted into American homes, noting that essentially 100% was not reached until the 1980’s from inception in 1890."

That's a very poor comparison to the world today. We must recall that rural electrification was not even a priority until the 1930's when the RECC and the TVA came into being, and that not only did the lights have to be provided, the whole nation had to be wired from scratch.

Why not use a comparison like home computers or air conditioning, in which a prior structure already existed, and the technology simply had to be incorporated into it. On those, the adaption rates were quite fast.

This is the situation with, and helps make the case for the "plug hybrid" or "grid based hybrid". The electric power grid is already there. We simply have to find ways to plug transport into it.

We should recall that we do not have to reach 100% adoption for years, anything over a 10% to 20% market penetration will have huge effects.

Likewise the remark reminding that the Prius hybrid has only .02% market penetration since 1997. First, we must recall that for the first 4 years of that period, gasoline was very cheap, and no one gave a damm about fuel savings.

But the Prius Hybrid has had an impact out of all proportion to those raw numbers in sending developers and auto companies down a different path of development, and opening the door to the great and far reaching work by Calcars and the plug hybrid auto idea. That .02% penetration by Toyota has now been worth more in development of advanced transport than can have ever been imagined when the car was created, although I think some visionaries at Toyota knew exactly where they wanted to go, and where it would go. Likewise, the breakthrough work by A123 batteries and the PV solar panel developers.

But we will not really begin to see the effects of much of this for about 4 to 5 years. The ideas are just now being incorporated into future product planning, which is generally about a 5 year cycle.

We are now getting ready to see if the confluence can take hold. Like industrialism itself, if it does, it will begin to spread like a virus across industry after industry. We are already late, yes, we should have been doing these things since the 1970's. But if we can avoid World War, a now increasing spectre unless this administration is somehow pulled away from the buttons of power, we can do this. 70% of the oil consumed is in transportation.

The revolution will have to happen in your driveway. All the slander against the advanced development of transportation will not change that.



You are exactly right that the revolution starts in our driveways.

The nature of political leadership is that it is almost always reactive to the last set of problems. Rather than taking action to eliminate and head off problems before they become critical, there is an inherent bias towards conservatism, a bias towards using solutions that have worked in the past.

However, we had the rate of change speed up during the 20th century with two brand spanking new problems, population growth and geological maximums in energy and arable land.

I was born in 1951, when world population was approximately 2.5 billion people. Had the population stabilised at that level peak oil would be a dim prospect on the horizon and climate change from human pollution a growing but manageable problem. That extra 4 billion people is the excess population that the die-off folks seem to consider the problem for the long term survival of the human species on this planet.

The population growth is mainly amoung the poor. About 1/6th of the people on our planet lack electricity, live in huts, have noclean water, and have no education for their children so that the kids can have decent prospects in modern life. If their is any education, its the memorisation of the bible or the Koran and huge numbers are jihadists and crusabers that aggravate the situation with myths of Pie in the Sky When you Die. They are depressed because they see their prospects as hopeless and their children's prospects as hopeless.

These people want and need a way to get to a modern way of life, yet the resources to do this are just not available through the route that our part of humanity used. We've used up the cheap oil and the cheap resources like copper that hsve made the prosperity of North America, Europe and Japan possible, leaving us with a real conumdrum, what can we do? Since population growth is tied to desperate poverty, it seems our own intellegent sef-interest is to help lift the mass of humanity from destitution to prospects of hope and dignity.

But people don't respond very well to exhortation, they respond to example. If we have electric transportation in our driveways when TSHTF on gasoline, we'll have transportation while our neighbors are stuck in their SUVs waiting for the gasoline ration to be released. If we've reduced our use of electricity and invested in personal wind and solar, storing the excess in the battery of an electric vehicle or selling the excess back to the grid, we'll have more prosperity and transportation when others are franticially trying to rearrange their lives without a giant step down in the quality of their lives.

I concentrate a lot in my postings on the huge hole in our national security from energy because its the truth. Our reliance on ever increasing foreign imports is the root of the foreign policy disasters of the last 30 years. We are importing 2/3rds of the oil we use , an amount equal to our transportation needs. We've only a couple of months worth of imports in our Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and we have hemoraged money and our manufacturing base to areas with cheap labor and energy supplies. Meanwhile, our foreign policies seem designed to alienate the rest of the world, its really scary.

But the solution starts at the end of our driveways. We are going to have to lead our political "leadership" by example, its the only resolution that will work.

Bob Ebersole

Just want to clarify the point I made about the HB energy bill. Electricity is approximately $4 million per year, natural gas $1 million, and vehicle fuel $1.5 million (excluding waste management).
It was great meeting so many of The Oil Drum contributors including Professor Goose himself. I look forward to helping organize next year's conference in California.
Debbie Cook

Thanks Debbie:
Sometimes it is hard to work out what my scribbled notes really mean. I much appreciate having met you, both in Cork and Houston, and as I (gulp) get ready to go and talk to the local political folks here, your advice has already caused me to change the way I will go about doing it. (You also explained why I failed when I talked to our local Congressman's staff).

I second that. A big thanks to Debbie for all your advice about reaching elected officials.

I wanted to list what I considered to be the most valuable advice I received about presenting peak oil to elected officials.

From Senator Mary Whipple:
Ask for a personal meeting. She recommended 30 minutes as a good length of time. Be willing to talk to their assistants, the information will be relayed. Bring a one page hand out with summary and any links you feel are important. She recommended the summary from the Hirsch report as it is readable and authoritative.

From Alan Drake:
Sell the upside. Job creation, economic development, efficiency, consumer and voter preferences, etc. If you manage to sell it to your target then they have to sell it to their committee or constituents. Bad news doesn't sell.

From Debbie Cook:
Build relationships! This is politics we are dealing with. It's about knowing people, knowing who they know, knowing who has pull with the person you want to influence. Let me say that again, Build relationships! That is the single most important piece of advice that I got from the conference.

Send the right people. If I want to educate my city councilor about peak oil then I should bring a geologist. Preferably a geologist with tenure at the state university or better yet a government geologist. I work at an organic foods cooperative and that carries no weight in this arena. Also, bringing the chairman of the neighborhood association and someone from the small business council increases my clout.

Being deauthorized. These are elected officials, if they do something radical and impalpable then the voters will withdraw consent. If a politician increases the gasoline tax by $5 a gallon then the person who will replace them will repeal the tax.

From Gail Tverberg:
Use the right terminology. Gail said that she often doesn't use the phrase "peak oil" when talking to people. Sustainability, energy security, price increases are often more useful. Let's face it, peak oil is scary, politicians are scared of getting involved with scary topics. You have to present them with a message that they are capable of hearing.

Other suggestions and observations:
Peak Oil has a negative connotation. Googling "peak oil" brings up wikipedia as #1 and www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net as #2 Which opens "Civilization as we know it is coming to an end soon." A politician is incapable of hearing this, it won't register. It might be worthwhile to coin a new phrase. I'll leave this to the PR gurus in the audience.

Keeping perspective. We have a minority view. I was at a Microsoft conference for the Vista Release for the city of Albuquerque and there were 10 times as many people present, just for the Albuquerque stop on the tour. ASPO Houston was The conference for peak oil this year and we had a fraction the turnout. When Elizabeth Jones of The Texas Railroad Commission or Richard Nehring presented I remember thinking: "what are these people doing here, they clearly don't get it." But upon further reflection I realized that as far as the rest of the world is concerned they did get it. They were the business as usual model. The model everyone but us is looking at. Keep this in mind when talking to new people. We are a fringe movement, a marginal voice in world affairs.

I'd like to illustrate this point. Kunstler registered this protest with Justin Ward from Toyota during the question and answer session:

I don't have the exact quote so forgive the paraphrase: When are you going to realize that cars aren't the answer?!? We are going into a world without cars and you don't get it!?!

How Toyota translates this: Hello Toyota, I would like to suggest that you change your business model from making and selling a product to not making and not selling a product.

Toyota is not capable of hearing this message. It's a square peg and a round hole, it won't go in. Kunstler got zero traction with Toyota. The end result was that he burned a bridge. This is the opposite of building relationships.

Toyota was the only car company at the conference. He made it more difficult for them to come back.

During the break I tracked Justin down and thanked him for coming. I said that I really appreciated his presence on the panel. Again, building relationships.


PS It was nice to finally meet all of you.

Thanks for the writeup, both of you (Heading Out, Tim).

I'm afraid both are needed.

Pestering annoyances, like Kunstler's approach and the one you took.

Just being nice doesn't drive the point home very well. Not to everyone anyway.

You know, I have tried to tell you folks that Kunstler is going to make an azz of you everytime he get's out in public, but you folks don't seem to get it...

You guys like to make little wagers around here, right? (the $1000 bet etc.)

I will bet here and now that we will still be driving cars for a good while after Kustler has given up this mortal coil....any takers? :-)


If by "cars" you mean tiny little NEVs then you are very likely right.

Of course then there were all those predictions that Jim made to the effect that the American suburban model is utterly unsustainable in a finite energy world and that suburban housing values would crash, and look how wrong he has been about that. . . oh wait. . .

Hey hey WestTexas,

First, my point wasn't about cars and their future likely hood. My point was that Jim's comments were not helpful to ASPO's relationship with Toyota. Toyota sent a representative to a peak oil conference, that takes guts. Our feedback to them should be useful to them. We should have talked to Justin about plugins and neighborhood cars. We should have told them about the cars we were thinking about buying and why. Some of the people at the conference do have cars and will be buying a new car in the future. How long they will be doing so is an open question, but their future and our ability to influence their decisions is going to be largely determined by our relationship with them.

For the record I think Kunstler is right, we are headed for a collapse, possibly a die off of 2-4 billion in the next 30 years. I'm planning to relocate in the next year or two to a different country to build a life boat. But until the four horse men show up I am going to do everything in my power to turn this boat around. That means hundreds of silver BBs from plugin hybrids to victory gardens. Since I'm not in charge of allocating resources I need to influence those who are.

Tim Morrison

PS Westexas, I had a question about your presentation. You said that in the middle case the US would be consuming all of the exports from the top 5 exporters 10 years from now. What percent of total exports is this? And how long until the US consumes all exports? Also, it was nice to finally meet you. I was the one who said your presentation was terrifying. hope that narrows it down :)

And actually, Jim got a resounding round of applause for being a "pestering annoyance." (His "annoyances" have brought untold numbers to peak oil awareness.)
I for one found the toyota blather pure crap and was disappointed more attention wasn't given to the marvelous Alan Drake who was on the stage and has a REAL plan.

Hey hey Confederate,

Things get tricky here. Knustler is right. Alan Drake is right. But Toyota is going to sell more cars and America is not going to jump on the TOD bandwagon this year, next year or the year after.

Here is why it gets tricky, there are two different discussions going on here. Or more accurately there are two distinct discussions that should be separate.

1) What we should be doing. This discussion is about whether or not solar and sodium sulfur batteries is better than wind and pumped storage. Whether or not we should include nuclear. How we should structure trade and banking and the economy in general.

2) What we are actually going to do. This discussion is about how to reach local government, the media, business and society. What pain levels are going to be necessary to reach the average consumer. What is going to happen to the economy, banks and trade we actually have.

Both discussions are important and it is important not to confuse the two. Kunstler is important in waking people up; he smacks people upside the head with a 2X4 and that is needed. Alan Drake is important; he does have a REAL plan. Reaching Toyota is important; Toyota is going to sell millions of cars in the next few years and like it or not that will have an effect on how this all plays out.

My comment that Kunstler was counterproductive is part of the latter discussion. The people in the audience who applauded already agree with Kunstler. To that extent he was preaching to the choir, and in doing so he gave the cold shoulder to the only representative from the auto manufacturing sector.

For the record; my internal thoughts and motivation for thanking Justin for being there: Justin's presentation struck me as a sales pitch, much like Elizabeth Jones from the railroad commission. And to a lessor extent Richard Nehring and his 7 trillion barrels. Then I thought for a minute... This is how everyone else is thinking. This is how the world sees things. As far as the world is concerned these people are right and I am delusional... It's important that these three people are here because it gives me perspective. While Westexas's ELM is real and important to me, no one outside of this room has a clue about all of this... We need Justin's help with all the clueless people outside this room.

It would have been better for everyone if after Jim registered his protest Justin said something to the effect of

I know, I'm at a peak oil conference after all. If I go back to work and tell my boss that our whole sector is doomed then I'm going to lose my job and Toyota is just going to keep making more cars. So what I'm here for is to find out what kind of cars to make since they are going to be made anyways.

I went to thank Justin because we need him. We need a broad discussion about peak oil in all sectors and if we turn people away we are not going to get it. We have a minority view at present, a view the business community is not interested in hearing. If we go about reaching media, business and the political community with a message of abandoning the suburbs then little tinfoil hats appear above or heads and they continue on exactly as before.


From the perspective of history (as in a 100 years from now), what makes the difference if Kunstler is 5, 10, or even 20 years off - it will happen. Debating the exact time is pointless and non productive, waisting valuable time in developing mitigation measures.

I have a favorite saying to sum up my point - "My crystal ball is cloudy, but the trend is obvious!"


Hi Tim,

I really appreciate your post here and below, along with the responses.

All of the comments – Jeffrey’s, Roger's and others - also interest me from the point of view of a book I’m reading right now. It’s one I’d recommended to Robert R, before I'd read it myself - (my suggestion, which I explained at the time, was based on a single interview with a mediator who’d undertaken “Transformative Mediation” training):


Also, I recently read this book (below), which covers some of the same themes:


The authors talk about conflict itself – quite apart from the particular situation or the particular actors - as generating some fairly predictable reactions in people. Namely, a kind of closing in and closing down, or “self-absorption” - and other common responses, which are discussed in these books.

It’s interesting to me to notice Roger’s language (which in some ways echoes Jim, with his use of one of the same words Jim had used in his write-up on the conference, i.e., - RC modifies as “azz”) (see http://www.energybulletin.net/36065.html), and also Roger’s use of wager. Jeffrey’s focus on the accuracy of Jim’s predictions, and so forth.

Anyway, though it may seem counter-intuitive, the authors, Robert A. Baruch Bush and Joseph P. Folger, talk about “empowerment” and “recognition”, which I could try to summarize as “regaining a sense of clarity in oneself" and “feeling empathy towards another”, or, to pick a random quote from the book to share: “…interactional change begins with a party calming down, getting clear and thus regaining strength; with this renewed strength, the party then begins to open up to a different view of the other.” (p. 67).

*Not* that the authors see the role of mediation as having the *goal* of “calming people down” – quite the opposite, in fact, by supporting people’s full expression. And doing so in a way that mirrors the expression, acknowledges and helps gain clarity.

I wanted to share this, because to me, (IMVHO as they say), some of these efforts to address patterns of conflict are illustrative of a kind of a contribution to our understanding that is as remarkable as any technological or scientific advancement. (I’ve sometimes also referred to www.cnvc.org, www.gordontraining.com, and www.newconversations.net.)

And may help us.

Thanks Aniya,

This is the discussion I was trying to generate. When I was writing the original post I thought about adding a link to How to Win Friends and Influence People, but I decided against it and only listed the things I learned from the conference. My original post was intended to help people reach important decision makers in their community and I used the Kunstler example to illustrate a mistake that some of us are prone to making when talking to people in our community.

If you are reading this post on this site then you already know what the problems are and what the solutions are. The next step is doing something about it. If you are reading this post on this site you may not know how to reach your community and that is what I was trying to address.


Hi Tim,

And I appreciate your acknowledgment - thanks.

There's something so fundamental here - it's about how people feel (emotions) and see each other. That's one of the essential discussions in books and other references (eg., organizations whose founders have also written some "classics" - Thomas Gordon and Marshall Rosenberg.)

It's along the lines of: how do we see each other? Is another human being only a means to an end (of my own choosing)? A "human being" or a "need object"?

Please read this post with a word of caution; this is my first post and I'm not entirely certain of the proper protocol when making a comment, or even whether this comment belongs in this thread.

I'm a little bit skeptical of the idea that the hybrid car will be the eco-car of the future or even the present.

A look at this article from The Recorder Online http://clubs.ccsu.edu/Recorder/editorial/print_item.asp?NewsID=188 brings up some interesting points about claims that the environmentally friendly Prius is really all that it claims to be. I am not sure of the validity of this source, and I'm wondering if any of these points have been disputed.

I've seen a couple of similar articles in the last few months. They seem to be exagerating the problems of the Prius and underestimaing those of the Hummer. Consumer Reports said that the Prius would last 300,000 miles, rather than the 100K life given in the anti-Prius article. I've found Consumer Reports to be very good and without an agenda, so I'd like to know the source of their figures.

I've talked with 3 Prius owners so far, they are averaging 51 MPG from their trip meters in Houston. Since thats roughly 3 times as far per gallon which makes the CO2 emmissions approximately 1/3rd those per passenger mile.

The initial purchase price of a Prius is about 1/2 that of a Hummer, so is the cost per vehicle mile. I'd really prefer a plug-in hybrid, so I'm still waiting to purchase a new car.

As far as posting ediquate, you're doing fine. Drumbeat is the column where we discuss topical items, but there are no rules. Welcome, and thanks for being willing to share! , Bob Ebersole

It is possible that Prius or hybrids of that generation are not the environmental car of the future.

However it has very likely NOTHING to do with the "study in question".

1. The data on that "Hummer study" hass been shown to be inaccurate
2. The conclusions drawn have been shown to be biased or completely false
2. The study is by an "automotive marketing company" CNW Marketing
3. No peer review, no methodology given, no data sources given (i.e. cannot be falsified for it's scientific process, only for results, which are false).

In fact, the data against is so overwhelming I'd be willing to just forget the whole study. Look very badly like a bad case of "hummer-washing".

Google for '"CNW Marketing" study prius criticism' if you want to read more.

Peter Tertzakian's presentation confirmed for me that China's and India's growth rates and maturing internal "home" markets will continue to drive commodity price inflation--especially oil, steel and cement--regardless of recessions in the West. The US is no longer the "indispensible country" "consumer of last resort" in its relation to the global economy. Indeed, during the next recession, I expect to see inflation devalued dollars divested by both as they buy real, tangible assets in the US at firesale prices. Those doubting this need to watch Peter's and Vince Mathews's presentations back-to-back. A worse than the 1970s Stagflation is on its way.

Thus, Bezdek's conclusion that Macroeconomic effects, "NOT" the impact of rising fuel costs, will doom the aviation industry.

Something Alan didn't mention in his presentation is that bottom-up, local efforts built the local transit systems of the industrializing USA, not top-down federal programs, as his examples--Switzerland and France--were/are both top-down centrally planned by central governments.

A comment made during one of the Q&A sessions stated 1.2 Million US Households have already been disconnected this year for non-payment of energy bills. The question of population control was broached; the answer given was that it must be enacted from the ground-up.

The above are things that stood out for me, As HO suggests, look at the slides, and do buy the DVDs when they become available. Most are convinced that nothing of substance/appropriate scale will occur until after the train-wreck, which is quite frustrating when we seem to easilly understand; this was very clear in conversations with conferece attendees. But at times these conversations seemed surreal as they often happened during the evening receptions, well appointed with good, plentiful food and well-dressed participants, which lent a feeling of the rich presiding over the demise of the poor.

On China and India, please be cautious about projections of their oil consumption...


We are making the same mistake with China we once made with Japan, assuming they could "build" but could not really "innovate". We could be creating a problem for ourselves with our stereotyped views.

"But at times these conversations seemed surreal as they often happened during the evening receptions, well appointed with good, plentiful food and well-dressed participants, which lent a feeling of the rich presiding over the demise of the poor."

I felt that way when I once went to an actual "Peak Oil" meeting....there I was in my clunky 1982 Mercedes Diesel 240D, while the others were coming and going in a nice mix of SUV's and beatiful new European and Japanese luxury sedans.

The whole tone was we've got to change, but as the afternoon wore on it was easy to see that what they really meant was "they have to change" referring to the rest of the population, so that these well off, upper middle aged folks would not have to suffer any loss of their quite prosperous lifestyle.

I often am amused at the "peak oil" foks, flying here and flying there....I have never been on an airplane, but that is not due to virtue, I simply hate and fear them! :-)


I arrived via Amtrak (billed ASPO $46) and came back with a friend.

Best Hopes,


now we have the complex structures required, for example, to drill wells off Sakhalin Island,

Well, if he's talking about Shell's drilling platform, it was originally called the Molikpaq and was built for Gulf Canada's exploration campaign in the Canadian Beaufort Sea. Twenty-five years ago.


It's just a big steel and concrete box, ballasted with about a quarter of a million tons of sand and gravel.

This is not a magic bullet but it can be very effective at removing oil from the niche of highly repetitive travel.

In many respects it is a black swan.

On March 1, 2008 we will open the first solar powered mobility network at the Mall of America. If you are interested in helping, we can use all the help we can get.


  • It costs less to move less. In highly repetitive travel, why are we moving a ton to move a person?
  • Use local resources, sunshine.

Energy use

  • to move a mile requires 200 watt-hours of power (moving up to 4 people or 1200 of cargo). Solar collectors 6-foot wide over the rail gather 2.5 million watt-hours in a typical day. Enough power for 12,500 vehicle miles.
  • Use the exiting grid as a battery to keep costs down. Long term ultra-capacitors and other stoage devices will likely drop in price the way data storage has dropped in price
  • Costs to finance, build, operate, maintain and power are about 35% of the cost just to operate oil-based transport.

Technical and historical foundation

PRT has the potential to be a mode of urban transportation that offers a flexible and scalable capacity with higher levels of service and less expense than many current public transportation alternatives."

  • Similar reports have been published by the
    European Union
  • Construction is in process at Heathrow based on BAA investment in ULTra. Here is a quote from Mike Clasper, CEO of BAA, "Two key goals for BAA are the improvement of the local environment and better service quality for our passengers. BAA believe that PRT offers an opportunity to meet both of these goals. BAA are delighted to take the opportunity to invest in the ULTra PRT system which is clearly leading the world in this exciting and innovative technology"
  • Vectus and other Swedish PodCar efforts are underway.
  • Polish effort
  • All-liquids decline rate: Heading Out, thanks for your write-ups. Do you have any feeling for the consensus all-liquids decline rate? I know individual fields are expected to decline at 8%/year, but ASPO-Ireland is still talking about a 52% decline from 2010 to 2050. This is 1.3% (1.1 mbpd) per year. Is this about the average for the conference speakers?

    See my post tomorrow. I'm going to try and capture my sense of where this is going, but with the raw information, hopefully you have enough that you will, particularly after the presentations go up, be able to make your own judgements.

    Thank you so much for these summaries. I plan on getting the DVD when it is available.

    I would also like to say that I am very gratified to see my state Senator Whipple out there participating. It was before my time, but I understand that when she was involved in local politics here in Arlington 30 yrs ago, she was a major force in getting the metro rail put in underground along the old (dying) commercial corridor with replanned compact, walkable development rather than what was originally planned which was stops next to large parking structures.

    My most important slide:

    Best Economic Policy = Best Environmental Policy

    Millennium Institute T21 Model

    ASPO-Ireland Oil Supply Scenario (Peak 2011)

    Electrified Rail + Renewable Energy by 2038

    - 62% Oil Use USA (Best Alternative)
    - 50% Greenhouse Gases (Best Alternative)
    + 50% GDP (Best alternative)

    Best Hopes,


    HI Alan,

    This "Best Economic Policy = Best Environmental Policy" - really well-stated.

    The caveat (of course) is that it's in light of "peak oil" and "global warming/climate change". Given those, "what to do" looks fairly obvious (once one sees it, of course.) Thanks for working on this.

    If one believes in Peak Oil but NOT Global Warming, the "green path" is still the best option ! Just pretend that reduced Greenhouse Gases are a good thing and oil use goes down & GDP up :-)

    Best Hopes,