DrumBeat: October 24, 2007

Peak oil projections from Chevron's CTO

How much conventional oil is there left in the ground? Close to 2 trillion gallons, according to Don Paul, Chevron's chief technology officer.

The "geological endowment" of conventional oil--that is, the amount of oil in the Earth--once totaled about 3 trillion gallons, he said during a presentation at the Dow Jones Alternative Energy Innovations conference here. We've used about 1.1 trillion. Oil companies with current technologies can't get it all out of the ground, so maybe there is a trillion gallons left for human consumption.

Mexican oil rigs crash leaving 10 dead

At least 10 people died after two oil platforms crashed into each other in high winds in the Gulf of Mexico, causing a gas leak that forced the evacuation of all workers in the area, state oil firm Pemex said Wednesday.

Darfur rebels say they kidnap foreign oil workers

he Darfur rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) said on Wednesday it had attacked the Defra oil field in Block 4, one of Sudan's largest sources of crude, and kidnapped two foreign oil workers.

"This is a message to China and Chinese oil companies to stop helping the government with their war in Darfur," said JEM commander Abdel Aziz el-Nur Ashr. He added they had taken two oil workers hostage, one Canadian and one Iraqi.

As Great Lakes shrink, cargo carriers worry

Water levels in the Great Lakes are falling; Lake Ontario, for example, is about 7 inches, or 18 centimeters, below where it was a year ago. And for every inch of water the lakes lose, the ships that ferry bulk materials across them must lighten their loads by 270 tons or risk running aground, according to the Lake Carriers' Association, a trade group for U.S.-flag cargo companies.

As a result, more ships are needed, adding millions of dollars to shipping companies' operating costs, experts in maritime commerce estimate.

Greenland's ice sheet melts as temperatures rise

● Greenland's ice melt area increased 30% in 30 years, one scientist says

● The island is now losing more ice each year than it gains from new snow

● This melting ice is causing sea levels to rise around the world

● Scientists fear low-lying areas could be flooded if seas continue to rise

Peak oil or peak emissions?

Are we running out of oil? Not any day soon, but a big controversy exists about the manner in which supplies will tighten and prices will rise in the future. Certainly, we are running out of cheap oil and a place to store the emissions from its profligate use.

New plastic could reduce greenhouse gases

A plastic tweaked to mimic cellular membranes can separate carbon dioxide from natural gas and could help reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, scientists say.

Peak Oil When? 2010 (PDF)

Case Western Reserve University has just published its May-Aug survey results, that attracted over 300 oil experts from around the world. Its conclusion: global agreement on peak oil occurring by 2010.

The full report, available on the survey site (www.PeakOilwhen.org), shows an alarming change from the 2005 survey. While geologists in both surveys warned about an imminent Peak Oil, in the older survey, economists and politicians disagreed. In the recent report the agreement on the results is across the board.

ConocoPhillips Profit Drops as Fuel Margins Narrow

ConocoPhillips, the third-largest U.S. oil producer, said net income fell 5.2 percent as refined fuel prices failed to keep pace with gains by crude, narrowing profit margins on gasoline and diesel.

Australian Food Company CEOs Forecast Rocketing Food Prices

Prices of milk, bread and meat could triple in the next five years driven by dwindling world grain stocks and greater demand from producers of ethanol and other biofuels, a grain company executive said.

Europe goes vocal over energy supplies

The new boss of the International Energy Agency, which represents the interests of developed nations, has claimed the Russian government is holding back oilfield development. This came as leaders from the EU, Russia and world energy majors met in Moscow to ease energy tensions.

Another trans-Caspian pipe dream

Recent weeks have seen increasing United States activity in favor of constructing the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline (TCGP) from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan. But what are the chances of anything really happening?

The Philippines: CNG buses ready to roll out - Arroyo

The President said the country is faced with the “combined threat of rising oil prices and growing pollution" and the public offering of the CNG could not come at a more opportune time.

Pakistan: Govt finding hard to maintain ballooning subsidy on POL

In the face of rising international oil prices, the government is confronting the serious challenge of maintaining the ballooning subsidy on petroleum products as it prepares for national elections set for early next year.

Iraq, Iran battle fuel black market

Iraq has cut fuel subsidies to meet international funding deals and battle the black market, which has increased smuggling from Iran, where prices are lower.

Fuel shortage hits Victorian diesel stocks

Problems at the Altona refinery of Mobil Australia have crippled stocks of diesel in Victoria.

The refinery supplies not only Mobil customers but also rival BP, leaving many fuel outlets throughout the state without stocks of diesel.

Reports have begun to arrive of petrol stations closing diesel pumps because of a lack of the fuel.

China Turns to Dry Land Rice as Water Crisis Looms

China, the world's top consumer and producer of rice, is turning to a new kind of rice that can grow on dry soil like wheat as the country faces a serious water shortage due to industrialisation and the global warming.

Mother nature's revenge against human development

"This is mother nature versus human nature," said Bill Patzert, a renowned climatologist with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "It's about too much development and too much fire suppression building up fuel over the past 50 years... In some ways this is the great war that will be fought here in the 21st century."

Storm strands Mexico oil workers at sea, ports shut

A fierce storm stranded dozens of Mexican oil workers in rough waters on Tuesday after they fled a drilling platform damaged by 25-foot (8-metre) waves.

Mexico closed its main oil exporting ports in the crude-rich Gulf of Mexico as a cold front hit the area, cutting off most of the country's vital crude shipments to the United States.

Mexico reports oil spill from damaged platform in Gulf

An oil drilling platform was damaged when it collided with a production platform in the Gulf of Mexico, and an unspecified amount of oil leaked from the rig, Mexico's state-owned oil company said in a statement.

Opec oil output rose in October: Petrologistics

Opec is already raising oil supply in response to record prices and in advance of its deal to increase output from November, a consultant who tracks tanker movements said yesterday.

... “It’s a surprisingly large increase,” Gerber said. “The Saudis are obviously pushing out more crude in advance of the November increase.”

Train Derailment Impacts Fuel Supply

More than 200,000 gallons of gasoline was on the train the train that derailed in Middlebury this week, and all of it was headed to a storage terminal in Burlington. An official at Global Companies, which owns the terminal that the gasoline was headed to, ways it's premature to say whether the Burlington area will experience a shortage of gasoline. Company vice-president Ed Faneuil says it all depends on how soon the wreck can be cleaned up and how much damage was done to the rail cars. In the meantime, he says Vermont Railway is looking at an alternative rail route through Bellow Falls to get gas to Burlington.

Europe Needs Diesel Fuel of Russia

Europe’s oil companies and consumers apprehend material shortage of diesel fuel on the market and stake on Russia to tackle the problem. But the chances that Russia’s oilmen will notably step up production of diesel fuel are very slim.

The real GM food scandal

GM foods are safe, healthy and essential if we ever want to achieve decent living standards for the world's growing population. Misplaced moralising about them in the west is costing millions of lives in poor countries.

China’s Green Energy Gap

Coal-fired plants are quick and cheap to build and easy to run. While the Chinese government has set goals for increasing the use of a long list of alternative energies — including wind, biomass, hydroelectric, solar and nuclear — they all face obstacles, from bureaucracy to bottlenecks in manufacturing. CLP’s differing energy choices are a case study in how one company grapples with the need to provide electricity to hundreds of millions of impoverished Asians even as it is under a self-imposed goal of trying to limit emissions of global warming gases.

Some OPEC Nations Seen Pushing For Another Oil Hike - Delegate

Some members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries may push the oil-producer group to increase output by another 500,000 barrels a day when the leaders of OPEC countries meet in Saudi Arabia in mid- November, an OPEC delegate said Wednesday.

BP Sees End-2008 Start-Up for Thunder Horse Project

Oil giant BP PLC is expecting the long-delayed 250,000-barrel-per-day Thunder Horse project in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico to come on stream at the end of 2008, a BP spokesman said.

Repairs at the US $1 billion platform are ongoing, he told Thomson Financial News.

"Thunder Horse will come on stream at the end of next year, three years behind schedule," he added.

Russia's 2007 oil output to grow 2.6% to 3.6 bln

Russia's oil output will increase 2.6% year-on-year to 492 million metric tons (3.6 billion bbl) in 2007, Russian Industry and Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko told an energy forum on Tuesday.

The official said the increase would mainly come from east Siberia and Far Eastern offshore areas.

Texas Senator Blocks House-Senate Energy Conference

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) yesterday took the credit for standing in the way of a formal House-Senate conference to reconcile competing energy bills.

In an interview with reporters, Hutchison said she opposes the repeal of billions of dollars in tax breaks for oil and gas companies and has blocked an effort to move to conference.

The next French revolution: Nicolas Sarkozy sets out his plans for a green future

President Sarkozy will attempt to claim leadership of the environmental movement tomorrow, but his promises of a radical, green France risk falling victim to a reluctance to raise taxes, drop speed limits or touch the country’s reliance on nuclear power.

Honda upping number of fuel-cell cars on U.S. roads

Honda (HMC) will deliver fewer than 100 of its new fuel-cell cars next year, when it's scheduled for introduction in the United States, the automaker's top executive said Tuesday at the company's research and development headquarters here.

Though a small number, it is several times as many FCX hydrogen fuel-cell sedans as the automaker currently has on U.S. roads. Only two of those are in the hands of individuals and about 20 more are in fleet service by governments and other institutions.

Efficient planes ease crude crisis

THE head of aviation giant Boeing believes the global economy could withstand further rises in crude oil prices.

But anything exceeding $US100 a barrel could cause an economic slowdown.

Energy Traders Avoid Scrutiny

One year ago, a 32-year-old trader at a giant hedge fund named Amaranth held huge sway over the price the country paid for natural gas. Trading on unregulated commodity exchanges, he made risky bets that led to the fund's collapse -- and, according to a congressional investigation, higher gas bills for homeowners.

BP Warns Over North Sea Job Cuts

Up to 350 jobs are to go over the next months from a total onshore staff and contractor workforce of 2,100, as part of a way of simplifying the business.

The company has admitted it is facing unsustainable business conditions, as big industry players continue to cut their presence in the mature oil-producing province.

BP Settlements Seen on Safety and Price Cases

The British energy company BP, tarnished by a string of costly legal problems, is preparing to settle accusations that it was criminally indifferent to worker safety and that it manipulated energy prices, government officials and lawyers involved in the separate cases said on Tuesday.

Total blamed over fuel shortages

Zambia's government yesterday accused French oil giant Total of causing the recent fuel shortages in the country after it refused to import crude oil at the last minute.

Montana and Kansas Take on Big Coal

On Saturday, The Times’s business section featured two reports from unexpected parts of the country that should cheer the bipartisan coalition in the Senate that wants to move ahead quickly on legislation limiting emissions of carbon dioxide, the main global warming gas. The reports provide further evidence, if any were needed, that Congress should not listen to the coal industry’s siren call for special treatment.

At the Poles, Melting Occurring at Alarming Rate

For scientists, global warming is a disaster movie, its opening scenes set at the poles of Earth. The epic already has started. And it's not fiction.

New to Being Dry, the South Struggles to Adapt

For more than five months, the lake that provides drinking water to almost five million people here has been draining away in a withering drought. Sandy beaches have expanded into flats of orange mud. Tree stumps not seen in half a century have resurfaced. Scientists have warned of impending disaster.

And life, for the most part, has gone on just as before.

California has enough water

For all the doom and gloom about water in California, here's a surprising truth: California has enough water to meet its needs today and tomorrow without new dams, peripheral canals or catastrophic costs. But there is a rub. It will take political will and better management.

Report: 'World at peak oil output'

The report warns that coal, uranium, and other key fossil fuels are also in declining supply. It predicts the fall in fossil fuel production will bring with it the threat of war, humanitarian disaster, and general social unrest.

But Leo Drollas, who leads oil and gas market analysis and forecasting at the Center for Global Energy Studies in London, said there are plenty of supplies and no looming crisis. He said the report sounds like "scaremongering."

China says oil prices too high as meets with OPEC

China, the world's number-two oil consumer, warned that crude prices are too high, as the country's energy officials sat down with producer cartel OPEC on Wednesday for their first formal meeting in two years.

Record-breaking oil prices, China's strategic stockpiling, its companies' forays overseas and exporting nations' designs on the Chinese refining and retail sector are all on the agenda for the day-long OPEC-China energy roundtable.

CFR Analyzes Non-OPEC Oil Production

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has published a new backgrounder on oil output by countries who are not members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC.

UK: Power cuts warning as energy chiefs shut down half our nuclear power stations

Almost half of Britain's nuclear power stations are out of action, raising fears of power cuts and sharp price rises.

British Energy's decision to close seven of its 16 reactors has also raised concerns about the reliability of the country's nuclear plants.

We're caught with our pants down

Way back in March, Tony Blair committed Britain to a 20% European renewables target by 2020 and Gordon Brown tellingly said nothing. With the leaking yesterday of papers to be presented to him today by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (DBerr), we now see why.

Movie Of A Lifetime: Thoughts On Where We Are

Which is a long winded way of saying that I think I need to broaden my plan to include not just one strategy but more of an idea of flexibility. It’s a balancing act because I don’t want to spend time on activities that will be useless in a few years but inherent in that statement is the idea that I know what will happen in a few years. I have an idea of what will happen. I think I have a better idea than those folks who think a few years from now will look like today only things will be better because everything will be bigger, work faster and be more widely available. I now understand a crucial idea left out of my early education- limits. But I don’t know exactly what the future will look like so how can I say exactly what I should be doing as those limits show up?

Oil's return to Canadian Arctic is no stampede

Record oil prices and growing struggles securing reserves in traditional producing regions have the world's oil industry starting to gaze north once again. But it's no stampede yet.

Nuclear power to remain important energy source: IAEA

Nuclear power is to remain a major source of energy around the world in the coming decades, especially given the concerns over climate change and energy security, the UN nuclear watchdog said Tuesday.

Massive oil shortages feared for Ukraine

The cutoff of Russian oil supplies to Kremenchuk Oil Refinery (UkrTatNafta) in Ukraine's Poltava region could lead to an artificial shortage of oil products in Ukraine, Ukrainian Economics Minister Anatoliy Kinakh said at a press conference on Tuesday.

A Time to Conserve, Part I

Part of the reason that the Southeast's drought is so fascinating is that it is a perfect metaphor for so many other unfolding events in our modern society. The pattern is by now well known: A looming problem is identified, warning bells are sounded, but no action is taken to address the problem. For a long time nothing happens, so the threat is presumed to be overblown. Those who sound warnings are ridiculed as Chicken Littles. But suddenly - seemingly out of the blue - the problem comes home to roost with a vengeance. Disaster strikes. Everyone is caught "off guard" because warnings fell on deaf ears for so many years.

Steinmeier: climate change growing threat to peace

Climate change is a growing threat to world peace and has led to rival territorial claims in the Arctic that could turn into a Cold War, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Tuesday.

Spanish conservative blasted for downplaying climate change

The leader of Spain's conservative party was blasted Tuesday for downplaying the threat from climate change at a conference attended by Al Gore, winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize for raising awareness of the issue.

When asked about climate change at a meeting in Palma de Mallorca late Monday, Popular Party leader Mariano Rajoy said that it was "a subject we all have to be aware of but we can't make it into a big global problem."

World leaders should speed up work on climate change deal: Gore

BERLIN (AFP) - World leaders should hold an emergency meeting early next year at the UN to speed up talks on reaching a global deal on climate change, Nobel peace prize winner Al Gore said here Tuesday.

Forecast: Heavy Weather

The weird weather does tend to concentrate the mind, though. Even George W. Bush acknowledges the scientific consensus that climate change is real. Most people, even conservatives, now have no problem taking the next step and acknowledging that human activity -- the burning of fossil fuels and the release of heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere -- is causing climate change, or at least accelerating it.

Beyond those fundamentals, though, are a couple of even more inconvenient truths that few seem ready to come to terms with.

Geologists: Collier Glacier is shrinking

Between the North Sister and Middle Sister in Oregon's Cascade Range, Collier Glacier has advanced and receded for hundreds of thousands of years. But like many glaciers, it is headed in one direction these days: backward.

It is in serious peril, says geologist Ellen Morris Bishop of the Fossil-based Oregon Paleo Lands Institute. "We have basically a really sad picture of Collier Glacier today."

Climate change: Fossil record points to future mass extinctions

Global warming could cut a swathe through the planet's species over the coming centuries, warns a study released Wednesday that shows a link between rising temperatures and mass extinctions reaching back half a billion years.

White House edits CDC climate testimony

The White House severely edited congressional testimony given Tuesday by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the impact of climate change on health, removing specific scientific references to potential health risks, according to two sources familiar with the documents.

Don't remember seeing this here yet:
Stan Goff's Energy and War book

speaking of which it looks l;ike turky has started shelling kurds in iraq.
i caught some talk about it last night and the turk's excuses is that the U.S. can do so called 'protective mesures' why can't we?

here is the bbc article on the attacks.




IMHO, the Turks bombing the Kurds and the Kurds attacking the Turkish Army show how little control the US has in Mesopotamia in spite of over 300K troops and mercenaries in the region.
If the US defends the Kurdish guerillas against Turkey, we alienate even further the only Islamic country that is making efforts to be a part of the modern world. Yet we have no justification for any occupation in Iraq if we don't even defend the borders. Its hard for the puppet government in Bagdadh to claim any legitamacy if they can't control guerilla's operating from its provinces and attacking a foreign government.
To complicate it all, the Kurdish area of Iraq has at least 1/3rd of the oil production, and that was being exported through Turkey, so the Iraqii oil exports are going to take a nose dive.

As the old American folk saying goes, oh shit.
Bob Ebersole

There is constant trouble between the Kurds and the Turks. This has been the case for a while now. I agree that the troop massing is a problem, but it could be that the reported shelling is the normal order of the day, only now its getting media attention.

Many players, many undercurrents ... sooner or later one will suck us in even deeper than we already are :-(

There are three aspects of power: economic, political/diplomatic and military. (Morgenthau) Neglect of any of the three aspects will eventually result in a loss of power and influence and eventual ineffectiveness. We are seeing that in the Middle East as Bush has overemphasized the military part of the power triangle and has failed to use the power of diplomacy to complement US military power. The US failure at diplomacy reduces the US to nothing more than bulls in a china shop. The other players in the Middle East are simply picking up the pieces and running with it.

How does this claim:
Bush offers to bomb Kurds fit into the political/diplomatic leg?

very generous offer, if I do say so.

Considering the fact that they have been ammasing troops at the border for some time, i think it's reasonable to assume they will go ahead anyway since they don't really trust the bush admin to keep their interests in mind when it comes to iraq.

I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that the US policy in Iraq is to make the place such a God-awful mess that the population either flees (as at least 2 million have already) or dies. In other words, depopulate the country, leaving the oil infrastructure for the USA to take over. Provoking a war with Iran (which could provide cover for killing many Iraqis in the process) may be part of the plan.

Some have suggested that the Bush administration will resort to genocide in order to win the war in Iraq. While I doubt that genocide would cause Bush to lose any sleep, outright murder of the entire civilian population (by US soldiers) would look too obvious. And there might be problems getting US soldiers to obey such orders. So we have to maintain the myth that the war is all about bringing "freedom and democracy" to the Iraqi people. Encourage the Iraqis to kill each other through civil war, or get the Iranians and Iraqis to kill each other, or get the Turks to help eliminate the Kurds, and so on. Add energy shortages and famine to the mix to kill even more people, or cause them to flee the country.

Am I just being too paranoid?

Ozone: Hard to say, others feel that the neocon agenda is to destroy the USA and Iraq is just a sideshow. A strong USA government and economy is far more of a threat to the neocon agenda than Iraq could ever be.

Hi BrianT,

I also wonder if the neocons don't want to destroy the USA, or more likely, the whole world. Some of them are religious nutcases of the first order, intent on bringing about Armageddon and The Rapture as soon as possible.

They might get their wish about the former, though not the latter.

best regards,

Hello Ozonehole,

Nope, you are not paranoid. I long ago called this strategy [as explained in your posting] as the Porridge Principle of Metered Decline.

Too Hot--too much global political blowback, plus events could spiral out of control. We just couldn't carpet-bomb everything and everybody when we invaded.

Too Cold--timing too slow, too expensive in blood & treasure, ERoEI insufficient. Risk of losing.

Just Right--ideal planning, implementation, then execution to create and continuously time-tweak for [all conditions + blowbacks] for optimal decline, ala Asimov's Foundation concepts of predictive collapse and directed decline, plus 'flying under the radar' to help prevent huge, 'critical-mass' of global outrage.

Of course, that doesn't mean the poor Iraqis and other MiddleEasterners are enjoying what is happening in their region. =(

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

Howdy Bob,

Your above analysis makes perfect sense, but there's one flaw with the whole master plan. In order for it to succeed, there has to be a certain level of competence by the Bush administration. I'm not sure GWB has even a hint of common sense, much less competence. Of course, if he screws the whole thing up and unleashes nuclear war in the Middle East, causing oil imports to dry up (along with the US economy), he can always just retire to his ranch in Paraguay. There, he and his new neighbor Sun Myung-moon can spend their retirement days clearing brush and listening to their Apple iPods. I think Paraguay is high enough above sea level that it probably won't be submerged during GWB's lifetime, and why should he care about anything else?

Happy Halloween,

I think you misunderestimate him.

the "model" that seems to fit best is the "how to facilitate the looting of the treasury" one

the cbo estimates that the war(s) may cost $ 2.4 t over a decadehttp://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071024/ap_on_go_co/us_iraq

the last act of any government is to loot the treasury
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

Paranoid or not, you are not alone in your thinking.

Several authors have speculated that a larger failure helps to install more bases, persuade an attack on Iran and other places where US has openly stated they have 'interests' (other than claimed phantom-WMDs).

Also it has been said that, a fictional country like Iraq is easier to manage in pieces. Divide et impera.

Personally I just watch this evolve (with accompanied sadness for both Americans and Iraq people). I'm way too stupid to see into the future and my crystal ball's broken anyway.

But what Cheney said in -94 about attacking Iraq and pieces flying off, well, things like that can make one pause.

Intentional or not, an utter failure it is, regardless of how one looks at it. Even from the point of oil production (so far).

The best take on the mid east situation I have seen recently is by Juan Cole and posted at the link below...Salon.com. Mr. Cole notes that our attempt to return Bhutto to Pakistan for a power sharing arrangement is not working out so well since Bhutto was almost killed in a huge bombing upon return...and the situation between our NATO ally and the Kurds is also a shambles. I feel certain that as soon as Condi finds the right pair of designer shoes she will whisk off to the ME and set everything right. We had two 'anchors' in the ME: Turkey in the west and Pakistan in the east. Are our anchors draging?

'The Collapse Of Bush's Foreign Policy'


These "near misses" open things up to speculation.

Can they really be that incompetent? Or is it the tail wagging the dog?

What "is" going on, each to their own,.. ehhh, and oh, all I can say is listen to this if you can, but the piece you should hear is around 3:50.

This is an interview with Sky news (Australia I believe from the sound of it) with GWB before the APEC conference 2007.

honestly what can you say.

This is what he says,

"....19 kids to get on airplanes and kill 3000 students". (guess what he was referring to, because I know of no such incident. There was that thing in NY... ).


No matter where you stand on anything, does that not make you go ...


No, not really. He is a notoriously sloppy speaker and in the context of the speech it was pretty clear what he was referring to.
Of course that is a separate matter of what I may believe re the event he is talking about.

English is not my mother tongue, so I am trying to understand why GWB said "students". Those people in the World Trade Center were businessmen, lawyers and similar. Am I wrong? Is it possible to use the word "student" in a different way? I mean, who would ever say "students"? I don't get it.

If you feel better, many native English speakers don't get a whole lotta what the man says either.

Well.. in any case, I would like to figure out what 'the man' was trying to say.. What students? Is that like a parable? A joke? A secret code ("Launch all nuclear missiles NOW") ..?

I know it's hard to believe but the man makes many mistakes when he is speaking. We've heard so many of them that we just say "oh well, that's George, this is going to get rough."

watch him here talk about global warming.(SNL - heh heh)


Recipient of AA, Alberta Advantage

Turkey, we alienate even further the only Islamic country that is making efforts to be a part of the modern world.

Erm, huh?

How do you define 'Islamic Country'? Turkey is constitutionally secular, like the USA.

If you mean a country where the population is majority Muslim, then what definition of 'modern world' are you using that includes Turkey, but excludes say Indonesia, or the UAE, or Bosnia?

Wiki Muslim Countries
Jaymax (cornucomer-doomopian)

That's all right, we're alienating Indonesia (and Malaysia), the UAE and Bosnia too.

But Turkey is the one that can consider a deal from Russia that would turn the tables on the US overnight:

Leave NATO

Allow Russian Navy access via the Bosporus to its new base in Syria

Switch its oil pipelines to Russian-controlled sources to monopolize Europe

No signs that Putin is putting together this blockbuster trade yet, but maybe China should consider kicking a few hundred billion $ his way, since this would squeeze the US navy so badly and reduce the threat it poses in SE Asia.

A Russian-Turkish alliance would mean that Putin had accomplished what all the czars and commissars could not, what the British Empire and American empire waged cold wars to prevent: a Russian finger in the Mediterranean.

Maybe the Turkish Army will conclude that these days Putin has a more secular regime than Bush.


Turkey is a constitutionally secular country that is Islamic in the only sense that counts - a majority of its people follow Islam.

The US is a constitutionally secular country that is Christian in the only sense that counts - a majority if its people follow Christianity.

Turkey is a model for nations with Islamic majorities that one should wish to see replicated given the alternatives around in Muslim nations today.
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

Turkey is, as you say, A model... it is not the ONLY model to which some of the more extreme islamic nations could improve by replicating.

Turkey is also not exactly a truly desirable model.

The point I was trying to make, is that with all that's going on in the world, it's too easy to get the incorrect impression that virtually all islamiC nations equate somehow to an islamiST model which reflects something like Saudi Arabia or Talibani Afghanistan, and that somehow Turkey is some sort of unique exception to that.

Wiki lists 50 predominantly Muslim countries, and they're a very mixed bunch of places.
Jaymax (cornucomer-doomopian)

How do you define 'Islamic Country'? Turkey is constitutionally secular, like the USA.

Muslim 99.8% (mostly Sunni), other 0.2% (mostly Christians and Jews)

Mulslim 99.8% Regardless of what they call themselves, 99.8% Muslim is definitely a Muslim country. Sometimes you guys get so technical that you overlook the obvious. Turkey is a Muslim country, end of story!

Ron Patterson

Frequently I get so, umm, wordy in approach or something, that the point I think I'm making somehow gets lost in the midst of my argument.

Apologies, see reply above.
Jaymax (cornucomer-doomopian)

Things on the climate front are moving faster than ever:


And not in a good way. As someone said, models can be wrong in both directions.

The story from the WaPo, linked above ("At the poles...), has the best animation I've seen yet of the arctic melting over the past two years. Amazing and terrifying.

It was amusing, in a horrible sort of way, that I watched Top Gear's North Pole special, wherein they drove a truck to the magnetic NP, "which if the environmentalists were right, would be impossible;" Followed by my viewing of this swim at the geographic NP. That drive will likely be impossible year-round in five years, if current trendlines continue.

In order to be accurate, the models would require a complete physics simulation of every place on earth. Thousands of major factors are influential in shaping the climate, and they interact in ways that are impossible to experimentally verify. We'll get long-term weather forecasting before we get accurate predictive climate forecasting. I'm not holding my breath.

There are three facts that climate scientists know for sure, and only three facts:
A) Bare materials science: the heat-retaining effects of GhGs in an isolated environment, the amount of time they appear to last in upper atmospheric conditions, and the high and rising levels we've pushed them to.
B) Arctic-circle climate warming is accelerating faster than any model that they can come up with.
C) Some evidence on historical levels of CO2 and their correlation with temperature

Pretty much all the rest of the things you can see attributed to global warming is activism and speculation. We need activism and speculation, but we're not going to get much more without a few decades of doctoral theses on environmental fluid dynamics from quants, a few decades of computer development, and a few decades of further damage to our climate. Until then, the global warming movement has to be based more on quasi-religious belief and caution than certainty, and the above three facts. Is that enough? Maybe.

While I'm optimistic about Antarctica, given Greenland's location and observed trends, I wouldn't be building anything less than 10 meters above sealevel, for fear I would survive it, and certainly survive its current property value.

Climate impact obfuscation unfortunately continues to be the theme of this US Administration. They seem to be stalling until they can finally say, "Ok, it's real, but now we are past the tipping point, so we'll only focus on adaptation, not mitigation".

It's easy to say, but it's difficult for people to grasp the adaptation required when most of the US southern US is undergoing either desertification, or in some instances, flooding of normally dry areas (Texas).

When diminishing summer rainfall and falling winter snowpack melts turn prime farmland into barely marginal rangeland, where will we get our food, that will be required to use far less petrochemical fertilizer?



We'll just have to learn to eat money. Economists to the rescue!

Perhaps we should just eat the economists instead :-).

The Southeast is undergoing a drought. Desertification depends on a bordering desert which has obviously expanded, like the Sahara does, or on a long term move towards very low rainfall.

We won't know if its desertification for another couple of generations :-) Doesn't minimize the trouble they have, but lets not be overly dramatic, for it plays into the hands of deniers.

We used to hear this quite often in Nebraska - if we don't get X amount of rain in the next Y months the sand dunes will go active again. There is a downward trend in the region, but as yet the dunes mostly stay put except for the occasional blowout.

You are absolutely right. Atlanta has only received about 22 inches of rain this year (as opposed to its normal 50+ inches), but let's face it - that's still more than half the country normally sees. The real problems are lack of planning, lack of foresight, and an incredible degree of waste.

I felt better about the drought here when I ran the calculation on how much water I could put into a cistern from the runoff of my modest-sized house. Even in one of the driest years in a century about 27,000 gallons came down the gutters. That could support several people quite comfortably with no municipal water at all, although not to the level of waste to which we've become accustomed.

Of course you have to act on these things when the water is still plentiful; if the water runs out now, Atlanta will be a disaster area.

There are apparently big implications for the housing industry. If they ban outdoor watering there is an immediate backlash as the landscaping companies lay off everyone. Once outdoor landscaping is off the menu the housing starts will plunge and the already stressed builders lay off everyone. The laid off lose their homes to foreclosure, the properties they now hold are back on the market, and despite the drop in housing starts the inventory might actually go up.

Atlanta just has a simple choice; economic disaster by policy now, or environmental disaster as endangered species are decimated (dessicated?), then water restrictions anyway as supplies run down, followed by ... economic disaster.

No one will volunteer to do a back flip from the transom of the lifeboat, so they all sit and wait to see who will be swept away by the wave.

I think the housing impact you mention is already baked in. We are already overbuilt, and the builders are already slowing down. There are close to 110,000 houses (see number on lower left) on the market right now, and that number hasn't changed much since April. If you think of metro Atlanta as a circle 40 miles in radius, that's 22 houses for sale per square mile. Given the tightening credit market it will take a long time for that number to drop.

My biggest fear is that the municipal water will run out for an extended period of time, dropping the value of the houses here dramatically. I like the house and the neighborhood in which I live, but it will be much less desirable if large numbers of people choose to move away.

If they ban outdoor watering there is an immediate backlash as the landscaping companies lay off everyone.

Really? In my local semi-desert (San Diego), I just spent money for my first landscaping ever---to remove grass and put in mostly rock and low-water and native plants. Watering is slow drip.

Seems as though there could be a boom in garden-remodeling if water restrictions were permanent---and if the climate changed enough to make it real.

But knowing the South I think that mentality is unlikely to happen. People---especially Americans---rebel against what they think are artificial human-imposed restrictions, even if they are intended to preclude harsher natural shortfalls in the future.

Put simply, people don't believe that either the natural disaster is probable or that those imposing the restrictions really have their best interests in mind, rather that it is some kind of scam.

This explains fuel taxes; Georgia has the lowest around.

Turn Japenese :-)


Low maintenance for the lazy gardener as well.

I felt better about the drought here when I ran the calculation on how much water I could put into a cistern from the runoff of my modest-sized house. Even in one of the driest years in a century about 27,000 gallons came down the gutters.

Interesting how water law varies from place to place. Under Colorado law, storing the runoff from my house would be illegal. Entities downstream from me (farmers, municipalities) have senior rights to the runoff, so I am not allowed to divert and store it. Note that the single-use provisions in Colorado law have made recycling of gray water problematic for many cities: if their legal right (sometimes settled in court cases that span decades) covers only a single use, any water that they treat and deliver to households can only be cleaned enough to put back in the river/stream and cannot be recycled.

Wow, I had never considered that. In the northeast, it's common for the law to be that you can't change the established drainage pattern. It usually ends up in court when you concentrate and dump water on your downstream neighbor, not when you store it. But I guess if water is scarce, then it's the opposite that would be suit-worthy.

There are big differences between riparian rights (east) and appropriation rights (west).

The western states are on a collision course between paper rights and reality. I'd put my money on reality.

We won't know if its desertification for another couple of generations

The Dust Bowl occurred with just a few short years of drought and higher temperatures, rendering extremely low crop yields. We are seeing drought conditions in parts of the west that cover over 7 years. With Australia as our canary in the coal mine, major impacts can happen in a relatively short timeframe, especially since severe and extreme drought conditions have been evident in many parts of the US before this year. Add onto that the lowered yield expected when petro-chemical fertilizers become more expensive and less utilized.

You are correct, the Dust Bowl did occur over just a few short years. But did that area turn permanently to desert? No, it did not. So it was just an unusually long and severe drought. We don't know whether the south will trend to being drier in the future, or Texas being wetter in the future, just because that has been the case over the last year or two.

I'm not a meteorologist, but I suspect that as long as the earth continues to spin in its current direction and the Atlantic ocean exists, the tendency will be for the Southeast U.S. will get a lot of humid air producing plenty of rain. Regional weather patterns will alter that situation only temporarily.

NASAguy is dead on with this - prevailing winds and moist water will carry the day ... but it may become irregular. Ocean surface temperature is up, so why no storms? Changes in the steering winds in 2006 broke up hurricanes and we seem to be seeing the same behavior now, only we don't have the usual suspect (El Niño) to blame. If tropical storm inputs become one sledge hammer blow instead of three or four gentle taps the Southeast will have gotten its water, but at a frightful cost.

They're stalling until they can say, "It's everybody else's fault, America and capitalism are being unfairly persecuted, we have no choice but to destroy our enemies and protect our own."

You know, Lebensraum.

soylent green


Alan FBE, I believe you'd get a kick out of this.

So now we know where to use abandoned SUVs, but how will we fuel them?

I figure on commuter trains consisting of one diesel SUV, pulling several SUVs with their gasoline engines pulled out. Eventually we will have enough electric motors to convert a few gas SUVs and use electrified rail.

If nothing else, these will be the most luxurious public transportation ever seen, with TVs, multi-zone climate control, and cupholders cupholders cupholders.

Cool pictures! Hope everybody remembers who has the right of way. John

Jim Rogers Shifts Assets Out of Dollar to Buy Yuan

``I'm in the process of -- I hope in the next few months -- getting all of my assets out of U.S. dollars,'' said Rogers, 65, who correctly predicted the commodities rally in 1999. ``I'm that pessimistic about what's happening in the U.S.''

Sinking ship ---> Rats

The Chinese currency, known as the renminbi, or yuan, is ``the best currency to buy right now,'' Rogers said. ``I don't see how one can really lose on the renminbi in the next decade or so. It's gotta go. It's gotta triple. It's gotta quadruple.''

IMO, that may be just as bad a choice.

"The Chinese economy seems to be demonstrating very similar, disquieting symptoms," it said, citing ballooning credit, an asset boom, and "massive investments" in heavy industry.

Some 40pc of China's state-owned enterprises are loss-making, exposing the banking system to likely stress in a downturn.

It said China's growth was "unstable, unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable", borrowing a line from Chinese premier Wen Jiabao

From: BIS warns of Great Depression dangers from credit spree


It's been said elsewhere that China is in the same place economically as the US was before the Great Depression.

China = House of Cards = unsustainable in short term

In January, Marc Faber had one principal investment recommendation: farmland.

He called the US 30 Year Treasury Bond, held to maturity, the "world's worst investment."

The bloomberg article ends with this:

``The number of hectares devoted to wheat farming has been declining for 30 years, the inventory levels of food are at the lowest level since 1972,'' Rogers said. ``Suppose we start having droughts again. God knows how high the price of agriculture is going to go, so that's where I'm putting more of my money now than in other things.''

He added, ``I think I'm going to make more money in agriculture than I make in precious metals.''

Definitely a sign of the times.

Anyone watch CNN's Planet In Peril last nite? Looks like it has only got worse in China since I travelled it heavily in the late 90s. Not a pretty picture...I restate - in the next few years it will be home to the largest cancer cluster in the world.

Financial forecast for the Indefinite Future:

Deflationary trends in the auto/housing/finance sectors and inflationary trends in food and energy. I think that a good business opportunity would be crash carts at the end of grocery store checkout lines, so that when consumers go into cardiac arrest after seeing their food bills, they can be resuscitated.

"Cut thy spending and get thee to the non-discretionary side of the economy."


I have a cautionary note on this rush to farmland.

During the last oil crisis of the late 70's, we got burned. Bought our first farm at the peak of land prices, then tears and pain as it crashed. Nine years after purchase, we felt lucky to get 50 cents on the dollar. I'm real worried with the present sky high valuations on farmland, and fear a repeat, only worse.

Climate change will drastically alter yields of today. Loan rates or land prices based on today's yields are almost meaningless. Present prices are way beyond the ability of the land to produce, caught up in the same mess as housing.

And should you discount climate change or feel its effects are beyond your lifetime, yet believe the certainty of peak oil, that peak will crash food and land prices.

Foremost, high commodity prices are maintained only by the ability of sufficient numbers able to pay for them. As we've seen in the past, starving people do not maintain high food prices. Surplus grain piles with millions of starving people unable to pay for it through most of post WW11 are one example. The well to do can eat only so many loaves of bread each day. As peak progresses and energy inputs to ag rise with falling real prices for commodities, the one caught in the middle will be the landowner. Land prices will fall as they go broke.

I think worse also because so much of production is now purchased by governments, relief organizations and the like. Given the present shaky financial footing of many of these today, I doubt they will be able to keep up their purchases. Our present prices would be much lower if not for governments trying to make up the deficit in their own production. And to this add transportation energy. Farming margins will be tighter than ever for those able to survive.

If you discount climate change, are looking only for self sufficient production, and quite importantly, have a pile of cash to purchase outright with no mortgage or remorse for declining valuation, then take care in your land selection.

Present prices are way beyond the ability of the land to produce, caught up in the same mess as housing.

And in the area I've looked at the land values are sky high because the land is either 'close enough to town' (60 miles) so it becomes another sub-division or is 'prime vacation home/retirement house' land.

The only crop one can grow on the 'close enough to town' land so its not a money pit would be pot or a subdivision.

And for some reason neither option appeals to me.

Anyone watch CNN's Planet In Peril last nite?

It was disturbing to see the onslaught of American Petroleum Institute and pro-Coal commercials playing during Planet In Peril last night. Why are they lobbying so hard right now? Is there energy legislation on the table?

American's For Balanced Energy Choices - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQSqviu9_7k

API - http://www.api.org/aboutapi/ads/
-- http://www.api.org/aboutapi/ads/upload/Industries-4Q07.mov
-- http://www.api.org/aboutapi/ads/upload/API_VALUE_ad.mov

Yeah...ConocoPhillips commericial about investing in alternatives too.

"Look we are green"

Hmmm...someone else did this...Yeah...BP, or should I say Beyond Petroleum.

No trouble with supply thou. :P

I was hoping someone would post the coal commercial link. I was amazed watching the program. I yelled out when I saw it and my partner even agreed. Notice how they really spun it with the very upbeat music: 'celebrate good times, c'mon!' Even the announcers voice was positive. Ummm, maybe we could learn something from them.

"Ummm, maybe we could learn something from them."

Yes, I suppose we could lie, and act all cheerful.

The lies are "positive", reality not so much.

But what's amazing is the way they smoke like chimneys, eat fried grease three times a day, never exercise, argue constantly, and generally live miserable lives - for ninety years!
Are the Han chinese that much harder to kill than latins and caucasians, or is there some other trick they've learned over the past fifty centuries? Hm.

As far as putting your money into RMB, remember that it's much easier to get it into their country than it is to get it out.

"But what's amazing is the way they smoke like chimneys, eat fried grease three times a day, never exercise, argue constantly, and generally live miserable lives - for ninety years!"

Except they have exercised, they're still not into the fully-sedentary lifestyle of Americans and certainly have not been for the last 90 years......

And they don't have dietiticians telling them to avoid all fat but it's OK to drink a 6-pack of soda (sugar!) or "diet" soda (wood alcohol!) and scarf down donuts all day as long as they're "low fat".....

The sugar-based diet is what it takes to become uniquiely American...... (veal).

True enough, but I'm looking back about three generations to what I think is the source of the robustness of the old Han. The epigenetic impacts of their forebearers' long, hard years on the farm are still reflected in their tough constitutions.

The youngest generation I know in China - besides being intolerably spoiled - tend to look a lot softer and paunchier than their elders, noticeably worse than the twentysomethings. More like Americans.

And now there are more families exercising their exceptions to the one-child policy, e.g., if both parents are only children, they're allowed two kids. There's some talk about parents who are both Ph.D.'s also being allowed two, but that's still officially denied.

Hi fleam,

Send me an email -- I want to talk to you about living in hawaii.


and generally live miserable lives - for ninety years

You shouldn't assume because people don't have as much stuff as Americans they are miserable... most surveys show them happier than us.

They value things differently and the Taoist belief in the simple things, and the Buddhist lack of attachment are dominant cultural factors out there... they live lives that Americans will by and large assume to be miserable, yet don't seem as unhappy...

i guess we won't understand why until our own lives change
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

They value things differently and the Taoist belief in the simple things, and the Buddhist lack of attachment are dominant cultural factors out there... they live lives that Americans will by and large assume to be miserable, yet don't seem as unhappy...

Is your source for this Kung Fu movies? Chinese are real people with the same goals as everyone else. Any claim that Chinese are not materialistic seems entirely detached from reality.

The dominant cultural factor in China right now seems to be to shed the burdens of communism and get rich fast.

I must say that reduction in attachment is a fine, fine thing. Getting divorced started it, but now I relentlessly sell, give away, or throw away stuff about every sixty days and I still have too much stuff.

Less is the new more.

I can confirm that this is already in play - land has been $2,500 - $3,000/acre for a long, long time here in Iowa. A year ago the price doubled and people started paying cash. The statewide average is now $5,200/acre and that includes the marginal stuff in the southernmost tier of counties up against Missouri. The flat, rich stuff around me is going for $6,500/acre.

I still think that's the one sector of RE that's underpriced in the US. Land that's farmable if you're strict Amish in lifestyle and outlook, old farms that were going concerns pre-petroleum and have been abandoned for the big city lights, etc.

Most people will never live like the Amish.

They have a very sophisticated if simple social survival network/system that has been in place for generations.

Without that, it makes very little sense, it's one of many things that once pissed away can never be gotten back.

Small rural towns still have it to a much lesser extent, but it would be extremely unusual for someone to be able to just show up and buy in.

The book "Better Off" by Eric Brende describes this process, he and his wife bought into a Amish type community and lived for a year or two, said they liked it but ended up in the end living in a Midwest city, he running (pedaling?) a pedicab business and his wife running their B&B.

Well worth reading though. Borders'n'Noble will have it, sit 'n' read for the price of a cuppa tea.

After thirty six short years I do believe people now describe my mother's farm as "the CowTipper's place". Some of that has to do with the same family owning it for the sixty years prior to our purchase of it, but some of it is cultural. My father's side of the family was part of the first wave of settlers just prior to the first civil war and my mother's family were newcomers, arriving in the mid 1890s.

If you are not from the small place in question, nor from the next county over, nor related to someone there ... outsider.

It isn't as bad as all that, but people have deep roots in small places.

When are you going to present on TOD your (& khebab's) magnum opus on oil exports by top 5 exporters?

I'm working on the full written report. Bart, at the EB, has agreed to edit for us. It's going slowly, partly because I have to catch up on the work I put off last week, and partly because we want to do a good job on it. In any case, the slides are available here:


Scroll down to our presentation (note that there are 20+ slides, with two on each PDF slide).

Production = C+C + NGL
Production Curves based on HL
Consumption Curves based on Monte Carlo Analysis
We showed the initial projected 10 year decline rate on most graphs

Note that at Saudi Arabia's 2005 to 2006 rate of increase in consumption, they would be consuming 108 mbpd in 2075, which even Peter Huber might consider to be unlikely (this relates to the Economist Magazine quote).

Solar power edges towards boom time

Once the choice only of idealists who put the environment before economics, production of solar panels will double both next year and in 2009, according to U.S. investment bank Jefferies Group Inc, driven by government support especially in Germany and Japan.


Subsidies are needed because solar is still more expensive than conventional power sources like coal, but costs are dropping by around 5 percent a year and "grid parity", without subsidies, is already a reality in parts of California.

Very sunny countries could reach that breakeven in five years or so, and even cloudy Britain by 2020.

The solar sector has grown at 40 percent per year despite a shortage of silicon, but that bottleneck should ease over the next two to three years, said executives.

But all the growth is from a tiny base. The sun supplies just 0.3 percent of electricity even in market leader Germany, says Jefferies.

"It doesn't even register statistically outside Germany," said Jefferies analyst Michael McNamara.

this was in a drum beat either yesterday or the day before. please don't repost articles.

Looked for it and I didn't see it. And for that matter, I checked again, and I still don't see it. Perhaps you saw it elsewhere.

If it is truly a duplicate, then I am sorry.

It was posted in Monday's DrumBeat. S'okay, though. Accidental re-posts happen, and are pretty much unavoidable.

Argh. I had the "Match Case" thing set in firefox, and I was searching for "solar". I was about to post a reply that it isn't there now, and then I realized why I wasn't finding it...

Something odd happened with unleaded regular gasoline in the KC Metro this morning.

Unleaded has been falling slowly all this week...bottoming out at around $2.53 yesterday...this morning I noticed some stations have gone up to $2.65 overnight...others are still at the lower price. I checked GASOLINE RBOB FUT (USd/gal.) and it's still falling (currently 210.300). What has changed here?

I have several thoughts on this:

1 - Recent low gasoline prices have been due to overrun inventory bought (imported) this summer or manufactured in the US in anticipation of hurricanes that never came. This fall has seen a "fire-sale" of this product with the summer formulation before winter sets in.

2 - Now that we have worked through the summer formulation, refineries are now switching to winter blend which has a higher margin, therefore retail prices are going up again.

3 - Advanced news of this week's EIA Petro Report are known before it's released to the public and gasoline inventories have dropped.

Unleaded prices are all over the board in Central Texas. Vary from 2.58 to 2.85 in towns that are just a few miles apart. Interesting times indeed. John

Well...interesting...now that the report is out...I would have to say that #3 was correct!!!

What is the opposite of Occams'Razor?


Dragonfly's Razor: The most conspiratorial answer must be the right one!

The Magellan pipeline system, running from the Gulf coast up to Kansas City and further north to Chiacgo, is reporting lower than normal supplies of gasoline. Don't know the reason for that.

to wit:


Charles, is there a better place to look for this sort of information than google news or similar?


That's a good source.

Also specific problems in the upper Midwest are frequently mention in local news reports as Magellan terminals, or just Magellan. Sometimes they talk about "pipeline probelms" without saying what they are - usually the problem is low supplies, although this last spring there was damage to one major section. I also get some subscription services, but even there they don't always report why the gasoline price is up or down on a particular day, just that it is.

This has been a problem for months. There were gasoline shortages in the Dakotas and other parts of the midwest this summer. Now it's diesel shortages. There were photos with 75 tanker trucks lined up outside the refinery. Farmers need diesel to harvest their crops, but are having trouble getting it. The local farmers' commodities site is listing diesel for the first time. There's at least one lawsuit against one of the distributors.

The reason given for the problems is that they're at the end of the pipeline, and there's just not enough left by then.

Isn't this what you'd expect to be happening when you're near or at the MOL? It's been going on since May or so.

Just stumbled upon this site, while checking prices,

KC specific:


Also bought a Garmin Mobile 10 for the cell phone and found it has a nifty gas-low-price finder sortable in 2-d space from your current position.

I haven't been one to drive 10 miles extra to save some pennies, but it's fun to check.

BTW, one of the really strange side-effects of reading TOD is thinking about phrases like "crack spread" and "vapor pressure" while pumping gas and trying to look normal :-)

I was wondering about that too.

If you didn't know KC is kind of the odd duck in gasoline sales as our largest retailer is an independent chain (Quicktrip) instead of one of the majors.

For the one with electrification program:

During the past few weeks here in Belgium, we had several problems with serious train delays.

Cause: the copper wires were stolen due to high copper prices. Up to 250meters sometimes.

Keeps one driving by car.


Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending October 19, 2007

U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) fell by 5.3 million barrels compared to the previous week. At 316.6 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are near the upper end of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 2.0 million barrels last week, and are at the lower end of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and gasoline blending components fell last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 1.8 million barrels, and are at the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased 0.6 million barrels last week. Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 7.9 million barrels last week, but are in the upper half of the average range for this time of year.

And here's the numbers they were expecting:

Analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires on average predict crude inventories rose 300,000 barrels during the week ended Oct. 19, and Vienna's PVM Oil Associates also noted that "expectations for this week's U.S. oil inventory data are for a rise in crude oil stocks."

However, some analysts predict a decrease of up to 2 million barrels.

Analysts also predict the EIA report will show refinery utilization rose 0.3 percentage point; gasoline supplies, still near record lows, rose 1.1 million barrels; and distillate stockpiles, which include heating oil and diesel, rose 200,000 barrels.

- production UP 248 kbpd (crude +60, NGL +188)
- total net imports DOWN -378 kbpd

Total product supplied is slightly higher, implying import subsitution via increased production on one hand and a drawdown of stocks on the other.

Before the inventory data:
Oil Falls to Below $85 on Speculation U.S. Stockpiles Gained

Oct. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Crude oil fell in New York to below $85 a barrel on expectations that a U.S. government report today will show an increase in oil and gasoline stockpiles.

And after the inventory data:
Crude Oil Rises After Report Shows Unexpected U.S. Supply Drop

Oct. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Crude oil rose for the first time in four days after the Energy Department reported that U.S. oil and gasoline inventories unexpectedly declined.

This seems to happen every week - they're really just hoping the inventories will increase, aren't they?

[edit: I hadn't read far enough down to see that Leanan had posted the Bloomberg one as well - sorry]

Expected and actual inventory data seem to be at best weakly correlated. If anyone has access to these predicted and actual numbers over the past couple of years this hunch would be easy to test.

Assuming I'm right, why is the correlation so weak? Do the traders just have no clue and are really guessing or is the week-to-week reported inventory data very noisy and unreliable, or both?

Is it just me, or do the weekly expected results ahead of the EIA report seem to just be random and have little connection to what we actually see in the report? It seems what they expect and what we get are different so often you could get just as good results by flipping a coin.

It's analysts talking their book, Earthworm.

This year it's very hard for most of them to comprehend that prices won't be staging a repeat of 2006. They're positioned wrong.

The inventory decline was due to lower imports. Let me hasten to add that one week means nothing one way or the other.

However, we have been meeting product demand for the past year by drawing down inventories, which can't continue indefinitely.

I do think that 10/1/07 was an inflection point of sorts, as the bidding war for declining net exports really begins to heat up.

The refinery utilization number continues to interest me. Let's assume that oil prices were at $200, would we expect US refineries to still be processing the same amount of crude oil that they processed at $80?

Yes, if:

a) they were able to attract enough imports at $200
b) if product prices were high enough to make a profitable crack spread

The crack spread has been low lately, so refineries are in no hurry to come back on-line. I expect that will change, shortly. I imagine that gasoline prices will be heading up after this inventory report.

Can someone please explain what the crack spread is, how it works, and what would be considered normal? Thanks.

It is the difference in price between what a refinery makes and sells versus the cost of what it buys, i.e. crude petroleum.

Refining oil has steps known as "catalytic cracking".

Other people will have to give more details about economics, but every party wants to buy low sell high of course.


Try this link, it explains and will calculate spreads for you.


"The refinery utilization number continues to interest me. Let's assume that oil prices were at $200, would we expect US refineries to still be processing the same amount of crude oil that they processed at $80?"

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't the refinery utilization number driven somewhat by the crack spread as incentive?

With crude prices accelerating but crude inventories still fairly high it seems this current drawdown trend will serve to bring the crack back around to those spring levels and we'll see gasoline climb big. Esp. if the demand hangs in there around 9+ for the holidays.

Therefore the main question is at what retail price does consumer demand really start to fall off. If $200. a barrel crude is accompanied by healthy usage of say $5. a gallon gasoline and a decent crack then I'd expect the ultilization to maintain.

Personally I don't think the capacity will be strained that much at $200 a barrel. Once we get there ultilization producing at today's levels will make all the $5-$6 a gallon gasoline US consumers can stomach.

Let's assume two households, each with total miles driven of 20,000 miles per year at 20 miles per gallon, so they each consume about 1,000 gallons of gasoline per year.

Joe Millionaire (JM) has an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI), i.e., taxable income after deductions, of $500,000.

Joe Consumer (JC) has an AGI of $50,000.

At $3/gallon, both spend $3,000 per year on gasoline, which is 0.6% of AGI for JM, but 6% of AGI for JC.

If gasoline goes to the same level as many areas in Europe, about $8/gallon, it would be 1.6% of JM's AGI (a one percentage point increase), but it would be 16% of JC's AGI (a 10 percentage point increase). So, it would be nuisance to JM, but a catastrophe for JC, especially with the ongoing increases in food prices.

My point is the following: Would US refineries be processing the same amount of crude at $8/gallon gasoline that they process at $3/gallon?

IMO, many importing countries are going to have some surplus refinery capacity in the very near future.

WT: What is interesting is that it only seems like yesterday that the MSM was using a lack of refining capacity as the scapegoat for everything. When one looks at the actions of the major oil companies (not building refineries, buying back stock instead of exploration spending) it is clear that what they say about oil depletion is meaningless, as their actions speak loudly.

Not to put too fine a point on it...

$200 per barrel would be an increase of about $115 per barrel from this morning's price, or about another $2.74 per gallon, putting us at around $5.50 or so.

If current gasoline was $2.80, $8 would be another $5.20 per gallon, or an extra $218.40 per barrel, or around $300 per barrel.

I really don't expect a lot of demand destruction even at that price. Maybe air travel will take a big hit. I really expect that to decline first.

Whether US refineries would continue processing the same amount of crude is an interesting question. Even when consumption goes down, perhaps imports of products take the hit and domestic refineries keep running. It will depend on the economics of the various supply lines. Also, if domestic refineries can handle poorer grades, they may be the ones to keep running at the expense of other refineries that require higher grades.

You might want to take a look at our net export projections, at the ASPO-USA link up the thread.

Many US consumers are going to be looking at flat to declining incomes, plus the ongoing increases in food & energy prices--and with a declining dollar, huge debt loads and high per capita energy consumption levels, it will be quite challenging for us to bid against Europe, Japan and China, et al, for declining net exports.

WT: Currently, energy and interest costs equal 26% of median US household income, which is an all-time record. This is with historically low interest rate levels.

You have a point there. In Europe we pay about 7 USD/gallon gasoline, and most of it is taxes. If the oil price would double, it would not put much dent in european gasoline demand, because the gasoline price due to the taxes would not go up so much. Propably to 10 USD/gallon, and that would put zero dent in my driving.

If people's energy use were concentrated entirely in gasoline, those employed in western developed nations could afford it.

The problem is that there are all sorts of indirect uses, which will be constrained.

Primary demand destruction will happen by people losing their entire paycheck, not at the pump.

Yep. So much of our $50k a year crowds' income drives the recreational and SUV vehicle market. Motorhomes, boats, 4 wheelers, all of which require a big truck engine to tote about.

My guess is that the current (in your example) 6% percent of income devoted to purchasing fuel is higher for most. $200 a barrel oil would require perhaps 1/4 of their income or more for toys plus 'essential' driving fuel.

With all the accompanying squeezes going on 'easiest' thing to drop is the discretionary part. (Where have we heard that before?) At $6. or more a gallon there'll be a lot of unused recreational type fuel tanks around.

Yeah there should be enough spare refinery capacity.

So much of our $50k a year crowds' income drives the recreational and SUV vehicle market. Motorhomes, boats, 4 wheelers, all of which require a big truck engine to tote about.

I don't know about that. $50K a year isn't all that much money. I make a fair amount above that, and I couldn't afford all those things. I could probably manage to buy and operate an SUV at current prices with tolerable financial pain I guess, but certainly not RVs and boats as well.

I suppose the cynic would say the $50K crowd can't afford those things, but that doesn't mean they aren't buying them (on credit).

Yeah I thought about that after I wrote it. I suppose living in rural Eastern Wash. has tainted my filter a bit. It seems anyone who can possibly afford to is over here in some kind of hunting rig, RV, 4 wheeler at different times of the year.

According US Census of the 116 million households in the US the median income is $48,201. I think that puts the majority of Americans at or below $50k per household and a lot more pretty close.


Simply believe a lot of the millions and millions of new and used boats, RV's, ATV's and motorbikes are in this demographic and are clearly in the discretionary income (fuel, CDO, and unemployment) crosshairs right now. Agree with you much of it is probably recreation on credit.(making it even less secure)

Agree with WT also that those items way out on the limb will be the first to fall off when the tree is shaken. The not so well off and the Formerly Well Offs (credit WT) will
simply have to seek cheaper outlets. (little bit scary)

For those 150 million or so who that represents pretty sure we're seeing demand destruction here already. Like you said $50k isn't that much especially now. As it works it's way up the food chain even Joe Millionaire has to cut back his plane travel and cruises eventually. It's got to be a significant # of barrels.

depends what you mean by 50k a year crowd - most families with one person on 50k per year have the second person working too - and then do stretch themselves out on credit to buy a lot of that stuff in an awful lot of cases....
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

If gasoline goes to the same level as many areas in Europe, about $8/gallon, it would be 1.6% of JM's AGI (a one percentage point increase), but it would be 16% of JC's AGI (a 10 percentage point increase). So, it would be nuisance to JM, but a catastrophe for JC, especially with the ongoing increases in food prices.

But JC doesn't have a choice. He can't buy a more fuel efficient vehicle because he is already upside down on his SUV. So he will keep buying gasoline until he loses his job or runs out of money. The spending will shift from halloween costumes, Christmas presents, eating out, new TV & furniture etc. to gasoline.

Bottom line: Refineries will process nearly the same amount of crude at $8/gallon as $3/gallon.

10 years hence, our middle case for the top five net exporters indicates that it would take all of the net exports from Saudi Arabia, Russia, Norway, Iran and the UAE just to meet current US net imports.

As noted up the thread, I think that the US is very poorly positioned to compete for declining net exports.

Or he might have to do the absolutely unthinkable and . . . CARPOOL!!!!! <*GASP!*>

Oh, the horror of it all!!!!



Isn't most domestic fuel used by suburbanites getting to and from their place of employment? (That's why we have peak hours}.
The paradox as I see it is..........
If spending on as you say "Christmas presents, eating out, new TV & furniture etc". (I'd throw vacations into the mix) declines, that means the economy declines and less jobs.

I think that immediately there is a cut back in consumer spending, a recession leading to depression will set in.

When people are not driving, the vehicle and supporting industries suffer, that would be the largest impact on the economy. But a massive impact will be the reduction in tourism, airlines and the hospitality industry will likely collapse.

Consumer spending makes the economy-go-round.
If spending continues to increase it could only be the result of increased wages to pay for increased fuel costs then probably very high inflation.

I know my observations are convoluted because I'm not even slightly an economist but I do see fuel and employment being inextricably bound.

What will people do without an income in this day and age?

It is best to dig the well before you are thirsty.

i think a whole bunch of people are going to just let them get repo'd - and that will be another big kick to the credit industry while they're down
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

Not much to be upbeat about.

Utilization still 87.1% well into turnaround season.

Demand still steady at 9.2MMBPD. What you would expect since we saw virtually no major price jumps in the last while even with volatile crude prices.

Crude Stocks down to 316.6 MM barrels, down from 336.5 in 2006.

Gasoline at 193.6 down from 208.6 in 2006. 13.6 Million barrels above MOL or 34.5 Hours worth.

Distillates(fuel oil/diesel) - 134.5 down from 145.6 in 2006.

Total stocks 1015.7 down from 1087.4 in 2006. Or 71.7 Million barrels of stock less than 2006.

I have to wonder if the low utilization numbers are a reflection of the aging refineries. Maybe exacerbated by putting off regular maintenance after the '05 hurricanes.

I still maintain that the low utilization numbers are somehow due to less light, sweet crude on the market. Refineries will either have to retrofit to handle more sour crudes or they will just making fewer runs when they can get the lighter, sweeter crudes.

Refineries that run sour crudes are more complex and require more maintenance as well.

I could swear a few weeks back people here were saying we had only about 16.0 hours of gasoline above MOL ... why did it climb so much?

Oil surges after surprise inventory drop

"Crude should have been able to maintain a more modest decline, if not some growth," said John Kilduff, an energy analyst at MF Global in New York. "Now there are renewed worries over supplies."

..."I don't know if we'll reach $90 today but we are only a few dollars away," Kilduff said. "We're in the process of retaking the $90 mark over the next few sessions, which is in line with our predictions of oil hitting $100 a barrel before the end of the year."

And here's Bloomberg's take:

Crude Oil Rises After Report Shows Unexpected U.S. Supply Drop

``There's no way to look at this report as anything but bullish,'' said Rick Mueller, an analyst with Energy Security Analysis Inc. in Wakefield, Massachusetts. ``This is an exhibit of the tightness we've been talking about. There just isn't enough oil out there and the situation won't be remedied until OPEC opens the taps.''


America's efforts to add more corn-based ethanol to the nation's gas tanks will fuel little more than inflation: CIBC World Markets
Report finds going yellow to send food prices soaring while delivering
dubious energy benefits

From the Drumbeat: http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=9876

GM foods are safe, healthy and essential if we ever want to achieve decent living standards for the world's growing population. Misplaced moralising about them in the west is costing millions of lives in poor countries

This is the most comprehensive compendium of lies and half-truths about "GMO foods" I have seen in a long time. Published studies demonstrate that GMO seeds are rarely adapted to the areas where they are planted, frequently actually use more water, more fertilizer and even more pesticide than equivalent production with conventional seeds, that such "innovations" as "golden rice" are completely a hoax (it is much easier to get the required vitamin A by just eating a little squash, and the "golden" varieties of rice don't yield as well as conventional varieties adapted to the specific locale) -- and on and on.

There is almost nothing in the industrial world that isn't in the final stages of decay and the Bio-Pharma world is no exception: they are desperate for profits. Saving humanity is a non-starter.

Yeah...they could start with Australia...or maybe not.

Australian drought pushes up price of beer


A cold glass of beer is about to become more expensive in much of Australia, after prolonged drought wiped out much of the winter barley crop.


After little or no rain in September, almost 80 percent of New South Wales state is now in a state of drought, compared with 71 percent last month.

"There's no doubt that much of the estimated winter crop is now lost due to the ongoing dry conditions," Macdonald said Saturday.

Beer...that should get their attention! :P

I bet that Aluminum, building and occupancy costs, depreciation, packaging machinery, marketting costs etc. etc. are many times more than the cost of grain in the beer. And they are probably able to sell the residue as protein feed or something.

Now, now. Watch or or Dreskin will post about how you are wrong. He won't post any links supporting his statement, he'll just say you are wrong.

Feel free to provide links to pre-empt him by linking to data to support the more water, more fertilizer and even more pesticide claim.

This is relatively recent, and has a decent start on a bibliography: http://foodconsumer.org/7777/8888/L_aws_amp_P_olitics_42/101008342007_An...

Speaks mostly to food safety, not issues of effects of Bt-containing plants on beneficial insects, or genetic drift, or royalty/patent issues affecting small farmers, or productivity of the plants, or declining genetic variability or a thousand other things wrong with industrial agriculture. But the recent recalls of spinach and beef, for example, suggest that the industrial model is not going to save the world-- it just creates a different set of problems.

I wouldn't argue that 14th century peasant life was a bed of thornless roses.

Published studies demonstrate that GMO seeds are rarely adapted to the areas where they are planted, frequently actually use more water, more fertilizer and even more pesticide than equivalent production with conventional seeds, that such "innovations" as "golden rice" are completely a hoax (it is much easier to get the required vitamin A by just eating a little squash, and the "golden" varieties of rice don't yield as well as conventional varieties adapted to the specific locale) -- and on and on.

If that were so, there is no need to ban or fight them.

Farmers with a brain will do it on their own and with an eye to the most local of circumstances.

"farmers with a brain"
how about farmers at the wrong end of a gun

Much of what goes on in modern agriculture is due to artificial conditions - some legislated. If Congress can mandate that we grow more biofuels, why can't it be lobbied into REQUIRING GMO crops on the same propaganda that it can feed the poor overseas (instead of us cutting back on the Big Macs). As with ethanol, the constraints mentioned by NeverLNG will not be believed until it's too late and Archer Daniels Midland has made off with another several hundred million of our tax dollars.

Its more like Monsanto or Dupont (Pioneer Hybrid). ADM does not have a seed business. They buy grain, store it, ship it, and process it (corn syrup, ethanol, soy burgers....)

"Farmers with a brain will do it on their own and with an eye to the most local of circumstances."

Please, I'm still waitting for the consumers our newest and most dynamic industry (informatics) get a brain. People belive what they see at the media, and they see comercials, not informative articles. Even what is presented as informative data are brought by comments, and the public has no tools for differentiating them.

My family has a farm and was involved on some farmer's lobbying for some time. I can tell you, most farmers can't even know if they get a positive or negative income.

Just FYI (I am not recommending this to everyone)...I took out $200 in cash today just to have on hand in case of emergency whatever...watch the market news concerning housing, writeoffs, etc. to understand why.

Well ok, news isn't good and stocks will get a blow. Oil up, house sales and value down, ... My stake on this is that the central bankers will run their printers, as long as they believe that peak-oil isn't peak energy. Maybe you should buy some gold with your $200, more than your bank account it could be your paper money which could be endangered ...

I'm pulling cash out slowly to have some around when I need it quickly and in case the bank/ATMs decide to close early some afternoon. I also already have gold/silver on hand. Not enough to be called a stockpile, but enough where I can still use it for a short time frame.

What I have pulled out and/or invested is not enough to hurt anything else I'm invested in...just not a bad idea to think a little like our grandparents did 70 odd years ago.

The most important investment I've made in the last year is a decent-sized garden in the backyard. Got some nice veggies this summer. Still have Roma tomatoes on the vine too.

If you haven't watched "It Takes a Thief" before, I'd recommend scrounging up a few episodes and watching them. Or, more simply, buy yourself a good, fire-resistant safe, that bolts to your floor through the bottom of the safe itself to store your monetary units in.

Regarding your garden. If you aren't already using them, I recommend heirloom seeds. www.seedstrust is one source. (There are a lot of other places to get them but I've been happy with seedstrust).
I got as many vegetables from "volunteer" plants that grew from my compost material as i did from my intentional planting.
This year I used some compost dirt to put out a brush fire and had squash and tomatoes growing in the spot a month later.
It makes springtime fun trying to figure out what veggie is growing where. :)

Forget gold. Buy food. And alcohol always does well.

Arkansaw of Samuel L Clemens

Did that about 3 years ago when I first started getting nervous.

From the Financial Times:

Bread and butter issue: Rising prices may herald the first global food shortage since the 1970s

Contains some nifty charts.

Note, as an aside, that Americans spend very little (as a percentage of income) on food. In addition they are a massive net exporter of food when measured in calories.

Grow your own food if you like, but from an economic standpoint it's nuts. (sic) The US is in very good shape food-wise going forward and will likely use that fact to leverage its global position with hungry nations once they realize burning the surplus in cars makes little sense.

Considering the price taker nature of the farmer in the US of A with all the resulting government handouts to the farmer - why is your graph meaningful?

Very little of what Americans spend on food goes to the farmer. Just pennies on the dollar.

When you grow your own food, it's only those little pennies that you save.

For the grow-your-own types, rather than gardening you'd do far better by learning to cook and prepare store-bought staples at home. But as a percentage of income, it's still small potatoes.

That's the economist talking."Don't worry, you spend little of your income on food, so you have plenty of scope to pay more"

Two little problems

1) Its not total amount, its disposable income. If you are in debt up to the eyeballs then you don't have any spare. Its the proverbial straw and the camel's back.

2) It another 'add some money and it will appear' argument. If you don't produce one year (drought say) and nobody will sell because they don't have enough to eat themselve, then the food isn't available at ANY price.

Forget money, its a rationing mechanism - one of many. Its not a god and it doesn't determine everything. Sorry.

PS when you grow your own food you save ALL the pennies, and have some redundancy built in for when things go wrong.

" Its not total amount, its disposable income. If you are in debt up to the eyeballs then you don't have any spare. Its the proverbial straw and the camel's back."

And that's the situation most Americans are in now. In debt up to the tops of their heads, working 60 or more hours a week, and poor as shit when it comes to being able to buy healthful food.

Just growing some 'edible weeds" and knowing how to pluck a few leaves and scramble 'em with the eggs in the morning or toss 'em in the soup, can make a huge dietary difference.

Two things to consider ....(1) most food in supermarkets is loaded with pesticides. Purchasing 'organic' is expensive, just take a trip to Whole Foods (aka Whole Paycheck). But growing your own food can allow you to grow without poisons, which has got to be healthier anyway. And (2)if you start with heirloom seeds you have a chance of saving seeds year to year (yes, it will take time & effort to learn this). But, if TSHTF big time and a lot of the things we take for granted today disappear (like, buying seeds at the local store, or ordering online) then maybe, if you know how to garden, you've got something of a chance to grow at least someething to eat.

Right. Next time I go to the grocery store I'm going to give them pennies on the dollar.
It's not what the farmer gets that you save when you grow your own food but what you pay the grocery store.

It's not what the farmer gets that you save when you grow your own food but what you pay the grocery store.

I disagree. When you grow your own food, you grow in bulk because you must store for the winter.

So, savings in comparison to grocery store prices is incorrect because you generally only purchase small quantities.

Rather you must compare growing your own with going to a farmer or wholesaler and buying a bulk crop. My family did this for many years. We bought many bushels of corn, tomatoes, beans, squash, potatoes etc in bulk and then canned/froze etc for the winter.

You can buy a year's supply of turnips in bulk from a wholesaler (just after harvest) for a mere fraction of grocery store prices. Same with other crops.

Taking over the farmer's role as the grower does not save you much. You save much more by becoming the processor, preparer, storer, cooker etc.

In any event, a large amount of our calories come from grains. They are very cheap to buy in bulk all year around. (I'm talking 50lb sacks here). Flour, oatmeal, cornmeal, rice. Pennies per pound.

Very few grow-your-own folks tackle grains which means that on a calorie basis they are likely still not growing most of their own food. You will save considerably more by learning to prepare your grains from scratch than by attempting to grow them.

With any trip to a modern supermarket one finds a considerable variety of offerings. Many of the products on the shelves are rather like specialty items, not staples. I would expect that these items would not sell well, if the cost of staples rises so high that most consumers can no longer afford to purchase them. If so, that would imply that many producers of these items would stop doing so, with the resulting layoffs. Even the processed staples would suffer, as more folks return to bulk purchases as you describe. Such would only add to the rising unemployment, once TSHTF.

Lots of poorer folk already literally live hand to mouth and feed themselves with staples, although they may not have enough cash to purchase in large quantities. I have a tenant who is living on Social Security and he almost always has trouble buying food at the end of the month. He is on medication too and has claimed that he must frequently delay purchase of his meds. As things progress, many who now live comfortably are likely to find themselves caught in the same trap. Not a pretty prospect for those used to living the American Way of Life.

E. Swanson

My own experience, and I have had extensive contact with the poor, is that they do not generally live off staples. If they were, than rice/corn/wheat and beans would be the bulk of their diet just like in Mexico. But it is not so.

In my city, 20 lbs of whole wheat flour goes for under $10 in any grocery store. (no need to buy 50lb bags from wholesalers) Enriched white flour is even cheaper. Similarly with rice and corn meal. Many kinds of dried beans are inexpensive also but you have to look harder to buy large bags.

The poor do not cook these things. Instead they consume a wide variety of preprocessed/baked products and in some neighborhoods even depend mainly on fast food!!

The poor of America are so well off they have not yet had to learn how to be poor!

This is not a criticism. Just an observation. Rock bottom is a long way off. When they turn to subsisting on simple water and flour pancakes and beans for months on end, then I'll believe that food is tight. That diet, BTW, costs about a dollar a day. (including energy for cooking)

According to that Omnivore's Dilemma guy, the poor don't live off staples because it's cheaper to eat junk food.

With labor factored in, I don't doubt he has a case.

But with labor factored out, you can easily live much cheaper on home cooked than junk food.

i.e. It's extremely cheap but quite time consuming to make your own corn tortillas and beans. (However if you don't use a tortilla press, there is skill involved that escapes me!!!)

The American poor seem to have more important things to do than acquire food prep skills! I don't doubt that there are good reasons for this. But it is an historical oddity.

There are foods aimed specifically at the poor, like the McDonald's Dollar Menu and so on, that can be survived on. Also, when I was poor, I was in a rooming house and storing staples was difficult, cooking had to be done quickly and nothing left out or it could be stolen. I ate pretty cheap, but not nearly as cheaply as I *could* have eaten if I'd known then what I know now.

When you're in a large family situation and poor, any morsel of food left for a moment would no longer be yours, so you learned to grab for the moment and let the future take care of itself. I left a candy bar sitting in my room for a moment and closed the door, and came back to find a huge roach doing its best to eat it all. Sometimes you just can't win!

The American poor live in an environment of callousness, mutual distrust, hunger, overwork, very high stress, etc. I'd love to give 'em all a hug and teach them all Depression-era survival skills, frankly. It will probably take a revolution to accomplish learning those skills though.

In my family (seven kids) we called it "survival of the fastest".

The quick and the hungry, in my family.

We need to start memorizing the textbooks we'll be sharing in the gulags..

i think a lot of that environment stretches a lot higher up the food-chain and economic ladder than some might think

remember: "if no-one around you understands, start your own revolution, and cut out the middle man"

All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

But it looks to me like the guy in the Times article must be shopping like an idiot:

Drewnowski found that a dollar could buy 1,200 calories of cookies or potato chips but only 250 calories of carrots. Looking for something to wash down those chips, he discovered that his dollar bought 875 calories of soda but only 170 calories of orange juice.

- because without plenty of money, only an idiot would actually treat carrots or most other veggies, or expensive luxuries like orange juice, as primary energy.

According to sources like this, flours, found an aisle or two from the soda and Twinkies in the middle of the supermarkets I shop at, provide around 1500 calories per pound, which would be in the range of 15000 to 30000 calories per dollar when bought in bulk, and 7500 per dollar even in small 5-lb packages. This makes it obvious why processed junk food is so immensely profitable - processing raises the price by a factor of five, or ten, or even one hundred, depending on the item.

Surely beans and grains and flours are what Asebius meant by "staples" in this context - not yuppie-priced 'organic' vegetables; not junk food; and not any other luxury foods. In poor countries, those real staples are what real people eat, and must eat if they are to survive. And part of their dietary problem is a lack of vitamins and suchlike, which indeed tend to come more from the yuppie luxury foods in the organic produce aisle.

My guess would be that the (relatively) poor in this country eat junk food not because it's cheap - it isn't - but because it consumes no time. If one holds down three jobs, one has no time to fiddle with the real staples; alternatively, if one lives by sponging off others, one probably chooses to spend the time watching teevee.

You pretty much nailed it. The poor in the US often work multiple jobs with irregular hours. Also, smaller residences with inadequate food preparation facilities and lack of the proper tools would make food preparation from staples a daunting task.

Would you be able to make bread from scratch with only a bowl and a spoon after working 12 hours?

No. Bread making by hand is hard. But I might boil rice or make pancakes. I remember trying to survive 2 weeks on $20. Apples (made into sauce for pancakes), pancakes, dry beans, onions, hot dogs (no buns). Lots of rice. Lots of beans.

If you're smart, healthy, and well educated, you can get by on very little money, if you think and work hard. On the other hand, if you're all those things, chances are, you won't be poor for long either.

No, but I used to make a bout a gallon of brown rice and beans with vegetables each Sunday and freeze it all. I ate the same thing for about half of my meals. The average cost was around 30 cents a meal.

I lived in tight shared space, but had a four burner stove. I really only used two and the same food could really be prepared on one burner. The beans and rice don't need to be refrigerated, can be stored for months and are very cheap.

Would you be able to make bread from scratch with only a bowl and a spoon after working 12 hours?

If the bread means I eat, I'd find the time to continue working for no pay after 12 hours.

(The bowl better be big to put the flour, water, fat, yeast and salt in.)

There is at least some truth to that. My neighbors are a perfect example. They're a married couple, both collecting disability, never enough money to pay their bills and sinking deeper into debt. But when they get their checks on the first of the month, they come back from the supermarket with frozen pizza, steaks, high-priced stuff from the deli, plus they head out to a Mexican restaurant for a $20 meal. Three days later, they're at my door claiming to be broke, asking if I can lend them money. I don't, but give them a sack of rice. Ten minutes later, they return it, explaining that they don't eat rice.

The husband comes over to my house and asks if he can borrow my Dell catalog - he's decided to order a laptop computer because his wife got a pre-approved credit card offer from Dell. They then got in the mail a discount coupon from DishNetwork - they just placed their order. They keep talking about buying a house - I suppose they could qualify for a subprime loan. The wife just charged $200 on her credit card for underwear from Victoria's Secret (and if you saw her, believe me, you wouldn't want to even speculate what she'd look like in see-through panties).

Not sure if they're typical, but I suspect they are. The coming depression is going to be a huge eye-opener for them.

Thanks for the chuckle!

Maybe our civilization isn't worth saving.

My anecdotes match yours. Let's say I know an ex-somebody very well, who has never been able to get her head above water, despite pulling down six figures for decades.
There's always a crisis, this time it's the IRS, and it's nothing to shrug off. Last time it was not enough cash flow to get the furniture delivered after writing a rubber check to the movers. Who knows what it'll be next, but it will be a mystery to her, and somebody else's fault, guaranteed.
And yet every Monday there's a pile of perfectly usable stuff on the curb, heading for the landfill, to make room for the next batch of must-haves. Shopping is so cathartic for her, I truly believe that she couldn't get out of bed in the morning without the prospect of buying something.

In contrast, I've done well enough to basically retire a couple years ago, not because I have a huge pile, but because I'm tighter than the bark on a tree. And YHWH bless her, so's my partner.

how do you know so many things about my significant other? you stalking me?
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain


Wow. Yeah from my observations I can't think of a more typically American couple.

I'm on food stamps right now, yes I said it, FOOD STAMPS. They buy rolled oats and cheap coffee (folger's or whatever's cheapest) and powdered milk and real cheap meat just fine.

I know *some* Depression-era skills because I was a kid in the 1970s which was a mini-Depression and was around a fair number of hippies, and the hippies were into organic food and sewing their patched-up clothes together and stuff like that. Hippiedom became yuppie-consumerism, but for a while there, there was a glimmer of hope. I remember some friends who lived in an old lead-lined container, bomb shelter or something, and cooked on a Coleman stove, and worked as little as possible. Looking back I admire them. One day we had ice cream - that means we took milk and carob etc and made it in an ice cream maker. Yes it was cheaper than store-bought and a much bigger treat since we'd all put effort into it.

Let me say right here right now that I don't remember any overweight hippies.

I grew up underweight, underfed, under-cared-for and it's still taking effort for me to adjust to realistic living. By realistic living I mean making too little to tax, and "investments" being skills and social links. It's going to be like going to live on Pluto for the average American. I honestly don't know where all these people come from - they've had it so EASY.

Let me say right here right now that I don't remember any overweight hippies.

It was all the other good unadulterated stuff available then.

They also walked and hitchhiked a lot, took the bus, they were kind of "into" physical work.

I know where you are coming from politically, Musashi. Read up, I mean really read up, on the background of the "health food" movement and you will smile.

Strangely enough, I actually make a fair amount of money but live on rice and beans (purchased in bulk) as a matter of choice. Usually the total tips (for the month) that I leave when I eat out exceed my grocery bill for a month. The eating out is more of a social thing - I actually have no desire to eat that junk and focus on the alcohol.

All good points. I've done some of all of the above in the past, and could quickly ramp up to do more in the future, and maybe will.

Another idea: get together with friends and neighbors to form a buying club, buy in bulk at wholesale prices, and break it up betwen households.

The first goal in gardening should just be to produce as much of one's fresh vegies as possible throughout the growing season. Next, try to extend the season. Production for storage is 3rd in priority.

By the way, I'm not at all sure that buying vegies in bulk and canning them at home is going to be much of a savings at all over buying commercially produced canned goods in bulk. The energy inputs per unit for the comercial processing are likely to just be a fraction of those for home canning. Home canning only makes sense when you already have the produce anyway and the only alternative is to see it go to waste. This is typically true with things like tomatoes, green beans and peaches, where the crop tends to come along quick and heavy and must be canned or lost; that's why those tend to be the things that are most commonly canned at home.

The energy inputs per unit for the comercial processing are likely to just be a fraction of those for home canning.

This is true but the commercial canner also has capital and labor costs that you don't have. There are transportation savings, too, as trips between field, plant, warehouse, grocery store and home are greatly simplified.

My parents had contacts with local farmers and bulk produce was often very cheap for the reason you mention. It had to be sold rapidly. Some of it was free.

It would be interesting to examine the economics of home canning further.

I do know I can produce home baked bread for 1/4 to 1/3 the cost of commercial bread. But, my energy consumption per loaf for baking is doubtless higher than theirs. So my savings are coming from other aspects of the process.

If, in general, energy costs completely dwarf labor costs in the future, home baking would not make economic sense. Especially as commercial bakers tweak their methods to use less energy.

I make my own whole wheat bread using a bread maker. I can and have made it the old fashioned way, but that takes more time. The breadmaker does the job good enough, and with a sufficiently low time investment to assure that I actually do get it done. I usually produce about 2-3 loaves per week this way.

I'm not so sure about the energy inputs compared to commercial bakeries. They do have economies of scale. On the other hand, a lot of heat from their huge ovens must be waste heat; the breadmaker does a pretty good job of applying the heat directly to the dough.

You are right though - if you can get a deal on the produce for almost free, then it would indeed be worth your while to can it.

Two houses up the road from me is the old schoolhouse. It has an oven in the garden, and presumably the hamlet fired it up once a week for communal bread making. They would (I again assume) have been doing one-pot cooking for most of their hot meals.

Wood was scarce enough in the Mediterranean for their bread to be baked twice, but with only one baking every few months. That gave rise to the crouton - the only way you could eat the bread was after re-soaking it in soup.

Now that tidbit about the crouton is fascinating! Another case where fuel shortages impacted cuisine. I believe that the historical emergence of stir frying thinly sliced meat and vegetables in China is another such case.

And eating food raw in Japan.

When I was home in MT recently I bought about 750# of grass fed beef from the Hutterites, all butchered and ready to freeze, for $550.00

Compare that to supermarket prices. Not to mention that the quality is much better.

What town in Montana was this? That sounds great.

Monarch, about 60 mi N of Great Falls. The Hutterites are a bit further N.

Quality food like pasta sauce created from fresh organic ingredients is not cheap.

Food is a commodity only in the limited sense that an obese 40 year old couch potato is the same species as a 25 year old athlete.

If you care about the quality of your food and its impact on your health, there is no alternative to growing your own or buying directly from trusted local grocer or farmer.

Many of us here think that between oil supply shortages, global climate change, water shortages, diversion of agricultural production to biofuel production, etc., it is very likely that the slope of your graph is going to shift upwards. That data is probably already out of date. No one can know the future, but I am thinking that 20-40% of per capita income might be a more realistic figure to plan on for the US in 10-25 years. That is certainly a high enough increase to make a ramp up now of home food production capacity anything but "nuts".

How can fox news get away with blatant fabrications such as in this story?

Gore also says in the film that 2005 is the hottest year on record. But NASA data actually show that 1934 was the hottest year on record in the U.S. — 2005 is not even in the top 10.

From the NASA website -- 2005 Warmest Year in Over a Century

I usually don't bother with Faux News but I went there to see how far they buried the latest estimates of the war costs (I couldn't find that information).

How can fox news get away with blatant fabrications such as in this story?

This is how.

There is an excellent section in the documentary The Corporation which includes interviews with the reporters involved with the case you mention above.

I watched with some amusement this morning as Fox ran a story about coal touting it as an "alternative" energy source.

NASA said it was the hottest year for the WORLD.
Fox said it was not the hottest year for the USA.
Fox can rely its viewers to not give a damn about the un-American world, or even understand that America and the world are connected. Let 'em fry, what can they do to US?

NASA found "errors" and retracted their numbers. I do not know what they still have on their Web site, but they admitted that their published numbers were wrong.


I post this reply with a bit of trepidation because I am, well, a a"global warming denier". So that this confession does not close your mind immediately to what I have to say, note that I am also a democrat, I voted for Gore, never voted for Bush, do not work for big oil and am not being paid for this comment. I got interested in global warming, years ago, as a matter of conscience. Now I speak out, also I think as a matter of conscience.

None of us really knows for sure whether man-made global warming is real or not. I totally get the idea of getting on the bandwagon, because if it is true, we can only save ourselves and the planet by joining together and combatting the problem (if it is not too late). But, like it or not, I have my doubts.

First to the Fox story. I despise Fox, but I think they may be right. I can't post an article but you can easily google it. In August NASA admitted that it made an error in calculating the warmest year and now says 1934 was the warmest on record. What seems weird about the whole global warming-media interface is that...the media never made this story public. And this is only one of many such facts that appear hidden from mainstream view. Here are some others (which I believe to be correct but may be in error):

1. Northern passage through the arctic has opened up at least 2 prior times this century: in 1905 and the 1930s. Newspaper clippings verify this. It may be true that passage hasn't been possible "since records have been kept" but they have been kept only since 1979.

2. While the arctic melts, mainland antarctica apparently gets MUCH bigger. Year by year the mainland ice mass thickens, to such a degree that pound for pound it dwarfs all other glacier meltings around the world. (While some glaciers melt, others are also expanding around the world.) Gore's focus on the melting of the Antarctic peninsula ignores the mainland.

3. Something like 70% of the warming that has occurred this century occurred before 1940, when man-made greenhouse gases were a fraction of what they are now.

4. Many of the planets in our solar system presently show evidence of warming, which suggests that the sun, and not cars, is behind the current warming trend.

5. The world experienced the so-called "Little Ice Age" in the 17th and 18th centuries (which is why George Washington had to push ice out of the way to cross the Delaware). As we emerge from that cold period there is an inevitable consequence--it gets warmer.

Most alarming to me is that the rise in temperatures and CO2 in the atmosphere corresponds to a graph circulating around that shows that everytime in the past 400,000 years when the earth has had a spike up in temperatures like the present one, it was followed by an abrupt and dramatic reversal of temperatures, plunging the earth into an iceage. I asked a geophysical scientist friend of mine (at Lamont Doherty), if there could be some "trigger" event suggested by this graph that could bring about such a reversal. She said--we just don't know. This graph also matches a regular 11,000 cycle of ice ages that has existed over thousands of years. In 2007, we are overdue for the next ice age.

So the concern is--what if we're wrong? By betting so heavily on man-made global warming, will the world be able to respond in time if things unfold differently? Abrupt cooling could result in mass suffering. If that happens, scientists will still claim, I'm sure, that the abrupt cooling was triggered by man-made warming.

Whatever ends up happening, I think we should at least keep an eye on other possibilities.

In August NASA admitted that it made an error in calculating the warmest year and now says 1934 was the warmest on record.

That is only in the US. Globally, the warmest year is still 2005.

As for your other points...been discussed many times here before.

Posted above.

Most of what you have quoted above is the typical disinformation that global warming deniers try to pawn off on unsuspecting victims like you (if you are really who you say you are).

1. 1934 was the warmest year in the U.S., not the world; 2005 is still the warmest global year on record.http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/08/1934-and-all-that/

2. Provide support that Antarctic ice additions cancel out all other ice melting (that IS what you meant, right?).

3. This ignores the aerosol-based cooling that took place from 1940 to the 1970s, after which the temperature rose swiftly to where it is now. This could also be calculated in the 70% range.

4. Solar system warming is also a myth unsupported by peer-reviewed science.

An abrupt shift to cooling is indeed a concern with high levels of CO2.

2. While the arctic melts, mainland antarctica apparently gets MUCH bigger. Year by year the mainland ice mass thickens, to such a degree that pound for pound it dwarfs all other glacier meltings around the world. (While some glaciers melt, others are also expanding around the world.) Gore's focus on the melting of the Antarctic peninsula ignores the mainland.

That might not mean anything. Antarctica is very cold and small increase in temp is not nearly enough to melt anything. Higher temperatures might increase amount of water that goes from solid directly to gas, but it might be insignificant considering low temps. On the other hand global warming is predicted to increase amounts of water in the air, thus more precipitation, thus build up of ice/show in some areas. So you can even argue that increased amount of ice in Antarctica should be expected at initial stages of global warming. But ice should shrink as temperature increase further.

The way right way to gauge global warming is to look at floating ice. Water can take a lot of heat in so it will average temp fluctuations. And that gauge is clearly showing that ice is disappearing fast.

I appreciate the tone of this message, even as you descend into the lion's den, as it were.

There's no doubt that there are large global climatic excursions taking place right now, and they currently point toward warming. But that doesn't mean it couldn't trigger a sudden ice age, as has apparently happened so many times before.

The key here is that resilience is the enemy of efficiency, so that many of the TLA's (three-letter acronyms ; ) ) in use at TOD, like ELP, apply equally well to various natural disasters. Whether it gets hot or cold, dry or wet, whether the sea level rises or falls, you'll be better off in any case if you're in touch with your community, and particularly with the people who grow your food.

We affluent Westerners need as a group to be willing to foregoing short-term paper gains for a longer view of a less glamorous lifestyle, to make "lousy investments" in resilience and redundancy, in community and cooperatives, and in our own humanity, or what is there to save?

Here is the body of a letter (the first!) that I wrote to our local newspaper. The question concerned using tax dollars to expand bus service. I hope it gets printed, but I'm not sure of the difference it will make even if does. I do know that we are certainly in trouble if we do nothing, so we should at least try to do something...

"Buses are certainly not the answer. Traffic congestion is just a symptom of much larger problems, such as our over reliance on fossil fuels, unchecked growth, and an unwillingness or unawareness of the need to comprise convenience for the public good. The solution is electrified light rail, commuter rail, and trolleys. Devising a transportation system based on a depleting resource at this point is just poor judgment. Basing our transportation infrastructure on electricity will give us the flexibility we will need to meet the challenges of climate change and oil depletion, and make our economy less vulnerable to oil shocks. Electricity can be generated from a number of sources and eventually new power plants can be built from renewable and non-polluting sources. It will be much more difficult to do this if we continue to rely on petroleum, leaving ourselves no time to make critical changes in our transportation infrastructure. Rebuilding and electrifying our rail system will create jobs, boost the economy, and insulate us against ever rising oil prices. Wake up people! Europe is way ahead of us on this."

Comments are appreciated. I also wonder how to respond if people bring up the threat of wind damage to the electrification infrastructure. I have to confess to some ignorance on the subject, but I would think this has been addressed.


Clint: IMO, the bottom line is that the USA will have to intensify urban development. Mass transit doesn't work well without it, and walking and biking can work if the distances to amenities are shrunk. The current sprawling nature of suburban development rules out electrified mass transit for most of the country.

Perhaps. But advocating abandonment of the surburbs is a non-starter. People will just dismiss you as a radical. If we can at least get started on a solution that reduces our dependence on oil then we accomplished something. I have to give credit to Alan for inspiring me to write this, IMO this is the only way to soften the impact of what will be coming our way, and there is a good chance of convincing the majority to go along with it. Our metro area already has plans for light rail and commuter rail, but they still plan on a diesel locomotive for the commuter rail. I'm not sure what to make of this, my wife grew up in Germany and thinks diesel locomotives are archaic. I just wanted to drive home the point that our mass transportation should be electric.

Any movements from the suburbs back into the city will be easier after we build up effective, safe, and sustainable mass transit. That will give an additional incentive for suburbanites to relocate and do us some good in the meantime.

we are going into this situation with the infrastructure we have. not the one that looks good only on paper.
too put it bluntly we will end up back to the days when the vast majority of people live only as far as one can travel in a day or so using animals like horses.

Thanks for your comment. I acknowledge that this a possibly for a time at least, but eventually people will rebuild if that is the case. We will not lose all of our technology, and humankind will not suddenly stop innovating. And we might as well use the time we have to do something constructive.

I understand what you're saying, but I have a family to worry about and have to try and do something. I got my introduction to peak oil on LATOC a few years ago and have read plenty of sci-fi in my younger days, but regardless of what I think or believe may happen - having responsibility means that I have to give others hope, not throw up my hands and say there is nothing to be done.

now where did i say we will stop innovating? what we will not be able to do though is 'rebuild' back up this is a one way trip down.
the innovation comes in as to how people cope and what people will do with all the junk we leave behind.

as to hope. there is hope and there is false hope. one is good the other is the worst thing in the world. This is not a movie and the sooner people learn that good endings like what your backing do not happen in real life.

I respect your opinion of course, but all I can I answer is that I don't know for certain what the future holds. I have read the arguments back and forth for years and still haven't really decided how I think things are going to play out. I do know not to underestimate human ingenuity or the effort that will be made to prevent a collapse. And advocating letting our society collapse is an extremely unpopular position, one that I certainly am not willing to take. We aren't going to settle the ongoing arguments about what should be done or not, so lets just agree to disagree.

"comprise convenience" should of course read "compromise convenience"

The world doesn't seem to realize there is a new, very important Oil Minister now arriving on the world stage: The Premier of Alberta.

His words, his actions, his fiscal and tax policies will matter greatly to the price of Oil. Just watch.


Not nearly as much as the logistical constraints of getting the stuff out and processing it. The difference in cost between conventional and unconventional oil dwarfs any actions that the government might make. Expensive or cheap, in the long run being available will be the criterion.

Maybe that should be the short run. While it is enticing to consider that the potential production from these deposits will have some sort of pivotal or mitigating effect on the world oil supply, I wait to be convinced. It isn't light, it isn't sweet and it doesn't flow; apart from that, it's easier to liquify than coal.

Alberta could give it away - some would say it already has - and it wouldn't exactly come pouring forth as a result. When you consider the capital investment required, the day to day tax considerations are hardly a limiting factor except in competition with other sources of supply. The tax holidays and subsidies that prevailed while the pilot projects got up and running couldn't be expected to last forever.

Hey folks, all those yoyos who were saying the US economy would collapse if we put a two bit tax on gasoline should have been handing out the apologies when it went up a buck and a half on its own. Taxes? - hell, it doubled. Ditto to the fantacists who thought that such a tax would make consumption drop also. If I told you that we'd have three dollar gasoline and no change in behavior by now back in 2000 I'd have been laughed at. Mind you, a dollar isn't what it once was.

Oil has been essentially free. Now it's starting to flirt with getting expensive. Next it gets scarce. In the long run whatever Premier Ed does will have no great significance in the global scheme of things.

Has there been a TOD discusion of wood gassification? It seems like its a useful technology that can be employed on a small scale for cooking or possibly using for CHP with converted automotive engines. The wood can be grown from treebogs treating human waste or food waste. The high quality charcol can be used for food production. There would be no danger of using human waste on food crops. Once chipped the wood chips could be dried using solar heat.

Peak oil has been getting lots of media attention recently its important we sort out which options to persue, though to be fair it seems we are going to need everything we can lay our hands on but there are good ways (CSP) and bad ways (ethanol) about going about it.

Has there been a TOD discusion of wood gassification?

It gets mentioned from time to time. One of the people who pimps for it is 'syngas' I believe.

Now that Engineer-Poet has come around to putting biochar into the soil (some years after told that making charcoal for zinc-carbon batteries was a dead-end WTR the soil) perhaps he's working on a front page article for TOD.

WoodGas@yahoogroups.com is one of the mailing lists - join that for all kinds of wood-gass'n goodness.

Destructive distillation of wood is a great way to make methanol, which is far superior to ethanol as a liquid fuel because it can be dried so easily. But then again, it's not as good mixed with ginger ale.

It's plausible to imagine a wood-fired stove in the home with an upper chamber that's intended to cook some of the wood anerobically. The resulting gases are condensed and the leftovers flared to heat the house. The liquid is fractionated later, and the organic cut goes into the tractor. Or the flamethrower, if you prefer the Mad Max scenario.

In Sweden we operated our cars on wood gassification during the WWII blockade. Messy buissness but doable. But then we were a sparsely populated country with vast forrests. So that solution could propably work only in certain areas, but technically nemo problemas. Some use it even today as a fun related hobby.

From CNN's coverage of the wildfires:

People returning to their homes, and those who had never left, were warned Wednesday morning to conserve electricity.

Officials said fires severed key connections to the regional power grid, creating what San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts called "a precarious situation."

CNN reports that San Diego narrowly avoided a massive blackout by buying electricity from Mexico.

They are still asking people not to do laundry, watch TV, etc.

Don't know if anyone has seen this:


I sent the following response:

I will attempt to answer your questions about peak oil, from a lay person's perspective.

"If the peak is just around the corner and exceedingly high prices ($200 dollars a barrel? $300? $400?) are coming our way, then why are the prices for oil futures and oil call options so low?"

Answer: I don't believe the fact that something is called a "futures" market means it has the ability to predict the future. You might ask the traders themselves why call options are so low. Perhaps, like OPEC, they "don't subscribe to peak oil theory."

"Are you buying oil futures or oil call options? If not, why not?"

Answer: No. I work part-time jobs and make about $35,000/year.

"Why did peak oil supporters in the 1970s tell us that the oil supply would run out in the 1980s and 1990s? Why were they wrong then? Why are you right now? What's changed?"

Answer: You need to supply a so-called "peak oil supporter" from the 70s who actually said, "we are going to run out in the 80s." Otherwise, you are presenting a straw man argument. The term "peak oil" wasn't even coined then, and the peak oil argument does not state "oil supply would run out." Either you are being facetious, or you don't know that peak oil concerns the maintenance of flow rates.

Hubbert's original prediction for the world was a peak around 2000. He is on film stating that the oil shocks of the 70s kept oil in the ground and delayed the peak "about ten years."

The extraction rate of crude oil and condensate reached a peak of about 74 million barrels a day in May of 2005. Thirty months later, the world has not been able to surpass that record flow rate.

I don't believe you're ignorant because you're young. I do believe you are being purposely misleading when you use phrases like "oil supply running out." That's pretty shameful of you.

Here comes the writer's -- I think UNBELIEVABLE -- response:

> Hi Mike,
> Thanks for your e-mail.
> I have provided links from the 1970s on exactly the idea that oil would run out in the 1980s. The Canadian government issued a comic to every schoolchild that claimed exactly this! I still even have mine. It absolutely scared the heck out of me as a kid. A copy of it is here:
> http://www.misterkitty.org/extras/stupidcovers/stupidcomics58.html
> Millions of us were fed this garbage from our own government, and millions of us (including yours truly) believed it. I think it's a fair question to ask "what went wrong?" and "why should we believe the argument now, when it was false before?"

The link he sent connects you to a COMICS BOOK!

The medium is irrelevant, I think he's made a very fair point.

He's demonstrated exactly something that up until now I've believed was essentially a myth - that campaigners were saying in the 70's that oil is about to effectively run out.

I had thought that this was a misconstruing of the peak message due to infamiliarity, or the middle-east message either by the main-stream-media, or by people's faded recollections.

But no - the criticism levied at us is more valid than I had previously thought.

So it's a comic, so what. More importantly it was the Canadian government energy dept thinking an issue was so important for the future it was necessary to put it across in a way they thought even young kids would understand.

It's not really unfair to refer to the people behind this comic as peak oil supporters in the 1970s.

I would respond like this

In the 70's, the concept of peak-oil was relatively new outside a small number of scientists. Even government civil servants apparently didn't really understand what the scientists were actually saying. This was before the current levels of globalisation, and so as north-american oil deposits were in decline, perhaps it was difficult to imagine millions of barrels of oil a day being imported from overseas.

Now we have 30 years more understanding, more case studies, lots of publicly available real-word case studies to look at, that YOU can look at if you choose to. Or you can choose to use the fact that the message was badly misunderstood all those years ago, and worse, that misunderstood message was conveyed to kids, in comic books no less!

So, you can choose, hide behind a 30 year old comic with a dumbed-down-for-kids message, probably written by an even dumber energy dept employee; or be curious enough to look into the updated message for yourself, eg at the oildrum, and decide for yourself if the people discussing the science and the research, and trying to get the message out, sound like they might have a better grip on reality now.

Only, of course, I'd be more succinct than that, perhaps even turn it into a comic?


Jaymax (cornucomer-doomopian)

Don't forget the flip side of comic book predictions (meet the Jetsons --prepare for techno-topia)

Senator Hutchison knows who's paying her bills. Among U.S. senators, she's the top recipient of contributions from the oil & gas industry. Oil & Gas are her biggest contributors after lawyers.


The Chevron CTO piece needs the following link instead of the one given:


Good find, though. That's one heck of an admission even though the writer fugged up the units.

Thanks. Fixed it.

Here's Greentech's take on it:

Chevron CTO Says Peak Oil Won't Be a Disaster

Now wait a second.

"How much conventional oil is there left in the ground? Close to 2 trillion gallons, according to Don Paul, Chevron's chief technology officer.

The "geological endowment" of conventional oil--that is, the amount of oil in the Earth--once totaled about 3 trillion gallons, he said during a presentation at the Dow Jones Alternative Energy Innovations conference here. We've used about 1.1 trillion"

GALLONS????? Did he say gallons?

So we have used only 1.1 trillion Gallons? That means PO is about 60 years from here. So all my worries for nothing!

So only 560 days of oil left?

Maybe my back of the napkin calculations are way off. (I hope so.)

A trillion is 10^12 right?
So 2 x 10^12 divided by 42 gallons per barrel leaves us with 47.6 billion barrels of crude, right?

And at 85 million barrels per day of extraction that gives us about 560 days. I hope not. Somebody. Please fix these numbers. Thanks.

Slightly off topic but can someone tell me at what time the US FED will announce its interest rate decision next week? I understand the meeting is on Oct 30/31st, but here in NZ it is reckoned the decision will be announced some time on Nov 1st (the thursday)? anyone know precisely when (in local US time?)
Thanks in advance

It's always exactly at 2:15pm Eastern. And I mean exactly.

But if you want an even faster report, watch the S&P Financial index at 2:15:00.001