Wow. Peak Oil Is on The History Channel. (or, the "Megadisasters: Oil Apocalypse" Open Thread)

Tonight, November 13th, (at 11 p.m. EST/PST - 10 p.m. CST), the History Channel presented Megadisasters: Oil Apocalypse, a documentary that Los Angeles-based filmmaker Martin Kent is calling "a wake up call," about the world's energy crisis. "We can no longer count on getting all the gasoline we need -- and there's no plan B." (Here's a link to the History Channel site.) Consider this an open thread to discuss the show.

and, as John said in the DrumBeat: get an energy bill passed this week, the House and Senate leaders are reported to have removed the tax credit extensions and provisions for solar and wind, and removed a nationwide mandate for 15% renewable energy, the so called renewable electricity standard.

On this site focused on energy, how could one justify spending any time here without allowing 20 minutes of that time to call 5 people (Pelosi, Reid and your Senators and representative) on .... energy?

Amen, brother. (more under the fold.)

Think your voice doesn't matter? You're right it doesn't. It's when there are thousands calling Congress that it matters. That's why you should call.

So I called Offices of Pelosi and Reid, + 2 senators and one representative this morning. Total time used = 18 minutes (0.06% of time spent reading TOD so far). They simply let you go on for as long as you want, register your opinion, and that's it. No debates. Persist to speak to someone.

Simply explain that eliminating renewable energy provisions (tax credits) and a 15% renewable electricity standard would be disastrous policy decision and you strongly oppose (or not) making those changes. I said AGW and peak oil production are driving this, resource depletion, while near trillion dollars annually leaving the country to pay for oil.

Certainly don't miss an opportunity to say something about a new renewable fuel standard passed by the Senate and now in the energy bill, that would raise the standard to 36 billion gallons of ethanol by 2022. Personally, I think this is as stupid a proposal as suing OPEC for antitrust violations, nonetheless both remain in the bill.

Hell say whatever you want. But say something to the people who otherwise will assume no one out there cares enough to call in. The fix may be in, I was told, but this will come back to haunt Congress next November.

Pelosi's offices: 202-225-4965
Reid's office's: 202-224-3542
Congressional switchboard: 202-224-3121
or find contact info by

As Eric noted, see, and
recent articles pertaining to energy bill:

the end is nigh the end is nigh!

Actually these history channel programs on these subjects are rather good.
I shall be setting it to record and watch it :)

It looks like a whole night: renewables on modern Marvels at 8:00 (repeated at Midnight), 9 to 11 Global warming, and 11 to 12 peak oil. The repeat of the show about renewables follows the peak oil show. should be interesting to follow

Okay, okay. If no one wants to call Congress about the energy bill, at least call 'em to watch the show.

Pelosi's offices: 202-225-4965
Reid's office's: 202-224-3542
Congressional switchboard: 202-224-3121
or find contact info by

The day's still young for staffers.

Perhaps the History Channel should do a Megadiaster series featuring the US Congress title Debt Explosion. Congress is more despised than Bush.

What is the sound of Peak Oil falling in a $90 Trillion Dollar World Bond Market?

Think your voice doesn't matter? You're right it doesn't. It's when there are thousands calling Congress that it matters. That's why you should call.

Have you lost your mind? Or your ability to think critically?

The congress makes decisions based on what lobbyists tell them. That's why the language of most bills are lifted straight from lobbyist's white papers. Perhaps you hadn't noticed . . . The only good calling does is it helps their staffs figure out which sound-bites they should use to placate people. So the dumb schmucks hear their representative say something that rings true to them. Then they get all excited thinking "see my voice matters." The next day, behind closed doors, the senator or congressman votes for a law or makes appropriations in line with what the lobbyists told them to do. But the suckers - including most of the highly educated folks - almost never catch on to this.

So when you tell people to "call your congress person", what you're really telling them is "you're an easily gamed sucker, I'm an easily gamed sucker, let's all act like easily gamed suckers at once!!!"

As an example: I'm a white liberal. Barrack Obama's staff seems to have my personality archetype nailed. Everything he says I say "wow I really like that a lot. Maybe I'll vote for Barrack."See, they even have me referring to him by his first name I like his act so much!

Then, engaging my critical thinking abilities, I realize most of his money is coming from the investment banks. So voting for him would be a vote for the investment banks, albeit the ones smart enough to hire an good looking black guy to placate us white liberals.

The more money a lobbyist is given, the more influence they and their industry have. Did I mention that drug lords, arms makers, and energy conglomerates are the biggest source of funds for these things?

Come on Prof. Goose. You'd be better off telling people to write letters to people like billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, the 300 top guys at Goldman Sachs, the board at Deustch Bank, the players at Lockheed Martin and URS corporation, etc.

"I have an idea! Everybody in new york call Senator Clinton. Oh sure she's got tons of cash coming in from the investment banks and arms makers but no doubt if enough of you poor suckers email her she might change her mind. . ."

You may as well have been telling people during the day of the Tower of Babel to "write to our leaders so they realize we want the tower of babel sustainability act passed."


Wrong. Lobbyists may be the carrot but voters are the stick. Angry voters are the worst. Politicians are deathly afraid of them.

For recent example, the immigration bill failed because congressional phones were ringing off the hook. While I don't expect such a response ever for energy legislation, 500 phone calls per legislator would matter. phone calls do matter.

Chimp, work on improving your self-worth:)

Good point. The lobbyists on both sides want open borders, which is why neither party represents the voters on immigration. But so far, the angry voters have prevailed.

You're assuming that battle is over. Give the moneyed folks who want open borders another two-to-five years. They will get what they want, one way or another.

Do I need to post the articles about how Blackwater is setting up camp on the U.S.-Mexican border? It's not so they can stop the illegal immigration. It's so they can blast whichever factions aren't paying their proper cut to the moneyed folks.

That is unless we collapse into total chaos before then, something I think is a distinct possibility if not outright probability.

BTW, I realize asking PG if he has lost his (or her?) mind is borderline flamebait but he (she?) is not made of sugar, I'm sure he can take it.

PG has posted and generated lots of input on the energy bill back in August here and in June here. This is just follow up to those discussions, now that the bill may go to a vote.

I doubt minds have been lost yet.

'Lo and hi again Matt. Been a while since I've spoken here. Things are unfolding much as expected and predicted, though some a mite faster and some a mite slower.

Your frustration is right, your cynicism 80% right . Big BUT: politicians DO listen to voters when they shout loud enough. Imagine a million calling Hilary and / or Barak saying 'what you gonna do about peak oil?', they would pay attention, staffs would research, advise, they might dare speak.

Is it worth shouting? I dunno, I have a real problem with this. Less short term pain will probably cause more long term pain is the pattern I am seeing in the future. It may be past the point where it is wise to explain and alert, current reality has minimal realistic chance of persisting long, attempting to maintain it may cause more harm than good.

I've gone local, focused on training as many as practical / wish to produce food, that is an all win approach. I'll perhaps seek to influence politicians but probably not seriously until reality has smacked then hard enough first.

Ultimately we can only do what moves us and in what ways we can. Best we accept we can't know the ultimate good or ill of our well intentioned actions until after. A hard time for humans begins about now, possibly the hardest in its history as a species.

There is no map.

How are you training people to raise food? Do you have a website, classes at a community garden, a book?
Bob Ebersole

Hi Bob, I did a couple of years helping people start up allotments (UK version of US community gardens). This year I've spent about half the summer at The Utopia Experiment getting them started growing veg to feed up to 10 people all year round:

They managed to get to 95%+ self sufficient in veg by late July from a late March start. Not put much online yet but I've just started a column at Off-Grid to encourage people:

Imagine a million calling Hilary and / or Barak saying 'what you gonna do about peak oil?', they would pay attention, staffs would research, advise, they might dare speak.

Imagine several million people taking to the streets all over the globe... And getting completely ignored.

I was in Glasgow. Biggest political demo in modern Scottish history. We got ignored. Laughed at, even. We weren't "sensible" or "serious" enough - i.e. we did not conform to the prevailing "elite" ideology.

The only time I've ever seen ordinary people genuinely drive major policy changes was the Poll Tax riots. And even then, I doubt they'd have succeeded without the widespread refusal to pay the damn thing.

'They' ignored the record-breaking demonstrations over the war and other issues of the last few years just like your cat ignores you completely as long as your hand isn't quite touching the catfood can. Studiously ignored, while still being acutely aware that it's happening.

'They' are seriously outnumbered, and while I have no doubt that there are a few 'facilities' being erected around the world in a hopeful attempt to stem the tide, we should also not forget one of the other potentials of this massive population that we have amassed.

The light and dismissive laughter at growing choruses of public disapproval is a nervous laugh at best. Not that I like what they may be willing to try when nervous.


How soon we forget. Millions of us marched
in the streets protesting the still up and
coming rape of Iraq. The biggest worldwide
protest ever.
An it did no good at all.

Hi again Chimp,

re: "Give the moneyed folks who want open borders another two-to-five years."

I'm not sure. Not sure what the moneyed folks want, not sure they're all on "the same page"...and there is plenty of local opposition (along the proposed route of) to the border wall/fence among the less-moneyed. Plus some in favor.
( )

re: "I realize..."

Do you think there's another option?

re: "Do I need to post the articles about how Blackwater is setting up camp on the U.S.-Mexican border? It's not so they can stop the illegal immigration. It's so they can blast whichever factions aren't paying their proper cut to the moneyed folks."

The expansion of Blackwater is extremely frightening. I would welcome a post on this (perhaps that puts together the different sources and articles.)

I would very much like to see those articles. I have been reading up on Blackwater and all the "contractor" companies and they scare the ever-lovin piss outta me.

Chimp, work on improving your self-worth:)

My self-worth is very high. That's why I don't need to immerse myself into delusions of self-worth and power. Thinking that the call you place to your congressman matters is an example of an artificial sense of worth and power. You have no ability - even in conjunction with others - to influence the U.S. government. But if pretending you do makes you feel worthy and powerful, then by all means go for it. It's certainly a cheaper version of imagined self-worth and power than buying an expensive car, and has fewer side-effects than taking SSRIs. (cue a rebuttal by somebody on SSRIs)

My self-worth is very high. That's why I don't need to immerse myself into delusions of self-worth and power.

Yeah, we noticed... ;)

On this site focused on energy, how could one justify spending any time here without allowing 20 minutes of that time to call 5 people (Pelosi, Reid and your Senators and representative) on .... energy?

Because they do not represent me - and I'm not talking about being in a different district. Our system has evolved in such a way that their job is to misrepresent the general population. One might make a better case that they do continue to represent the class to which they aspire and their "betters". Ultimately, one can count on electeds of that sort to take precisely the wrong path - the path that will make things worse.

They have to promise growth and prosperity or the state would lose its legitimacy. Ooops; that whole question of legitimacy is a sore spot.

Me, I'm going back to chiselling this big stone head. Much more productive.

cfm in Gray, ME

HI again (again) Chimp and Dry,

re: "You have no ability - even in conjunction with others - to influence the U.S. government."

People act for different motives and with differing expectations about outcome.

It's not necessarily the case that to act - to take an action - is to conform, nor to rebel. There is such a thing as action from a different basis (in theory, anyway).

That's what we really want, isn't it? A response to what we learn here, a different way to act...and a different outcome than the one that appears inevitable.

Here's an example:

"Yonatan Shapira-Former Captain in the Israeli Air Force Reserves. In 2003 Yonatan initiated the group of Israeli Air Force pilots who refused to fly attack missions on Palestinian territories. He is the co-founder of Combatants for Peace."
And it took me a while to understand that not just these guys down in the wedding were disconnected to reality, but also in the cockpit here inside me was a lot of ignorance, a lot of things that I didn't know. And then you start to figure out and to learn and to find out all this half-side history lesson that you didn't get. And I realized that in order to change and not just to find a solution for myself, for my soul, for my being able to live with myself, I have to do something publicly.

Don't let em get you down. Keep on posting.

Are you working in the basement of the Pentagon putting out demoralizing agitprop for President Dick Bruce Cheeney. I know they have a shop down there putting out all sorts of crazy crap on the web. Good job.
Same BS as saying there's no difference between the parties. I know that a President Al Gore would not have gone into Iraq or removed all taxes on the rich...just for starters.
The calls do make a difference...there just have to be a lot of them. And as far as lobbyists go...they exist on both sides of every issue although the big corporate boys can offer more campaign financing.
But people have to get off their lazy braindead asses, get active and burn up the phone lines, repeatedly and persistently.
Have a longer attention span than a gnat.
Being all clever and cynical and shit may seem real slick and cool and it's right out of the wingnut playbook. Thanks.

Not a rebuttle, just a acknowledgement, even though i am on one of those ssri's(zoloft) i wish my parents did not decide to put me on them since i was in grade school. Now my body is so used to having it, it almost liturally falls apart without it. I tried getting off of it and i am still dealing with health issues caused by going off of it even though they have gotten better since i started re-taking it. I dread the days when i either can't afford it or i no longer be able to get it at any price.

Chimp, If I were into doomer porn that's what I'd say too. That, and get a box of kleenex and a bottle of Doc Johnson's Love Oil....
(Sarcanol Alert)
Bob Ebersole

Like I said "cue the rebuttal . . ."

All joking aside, I often wonder if I would be more likely to buy into and/or participate in the whole scam if I was on SSRIs.

(I don't mean that in an offensive way Bob even though it sounds like that.)


Don't worry about it, I'm insensitive. Ask any of my three ex-wives!

Bob Ebersole

Hi Chimp,

Good to hear from you.

re: "The more money a lobbyist is given, the more influence they and their industry have. Did I mention that drug lords, arms makers, and energy conglomerates are the biggest source of funds for these things?"

1) This is an important point. The next question is: given this reality, how does one proceed? Or, how does a group proceed?

2) Is it a matter of "either/or" - necessarily? Is it necessarily the case that the action suggested is either A)altogether pointless or B) stands in the way of any other action?

re: "lost your mind"...I'd rather hear more in depth about what you're thinking and feeling.

Is it as follows: Given the enormity of what we face, the stakes are so high - you are concerned/worried and/or frantic for people taking any action that results in continuing the overall direction - which looks surely headed for the worst outcome, as opposed to some (possible) better outcome?

And you'd rather see them guided toward a different action?

Does this recommendation (to you) seem to discount the enormity of the situation? I'm just guessing (and I'd sincerely like to know).

The next question is: given this reality, how does one proceed?

Our suburban buildout economy is about as 'effed as the Tower of Babel was. There is nothing that can be done to save it. Just try to get you and yours out of the way of the falling rubble as best as you can.

AS far as guiding people towards action: I don't give a crap what they do or do not do as I have next-to-no influence over their behavior.

If you really think you don't influence peoples' behavior, then why do you run a website telling people about the problem, if you think no-one's listening?

Why do you debate so fervently if you think you won't affect the outcome, much less have a stake in it?

I don't think that's what he said. I think he means that the people in the congress, supreme court and executive cannot be steered from their current path. As someone who has sent dozens and dozens of letters, emails and phone calls into that black hole I can understand his position. But I keep pushing the rock up the hill.

If you really think you don't influence peoples' behavior, then why do you run a website telling people about the problem, if you think no-one's listening?

I said I have "next to no influence". LATOC has, in my estimation, about 5,000 regular or semi-regular readers. That's next to nothing in the context of our society in the aggregate. I'm proud of the readership I do have, but I harbor no delusions of grandeur or inflated estimations of my own influence.

To illustrate: today, 2 people placed bulk food orders at one of my advertisers. That is good for them for obvious reasons. It's good for me as I earn 10% and will be rolling that into my own food storage.

So I influenced those 2 people to stock up on storable food. But my ability to influence 2 people a day to buy storable food does not mean I have the ability to influence the Boyz at Goldman Sachs and Deustch Bank.

Why do you debate so fervently if you think you won't affect the outcome, much less have a stake in it?

I like to argue.

"I like to argue."

Says the lawyer. LOL! Thanks for the great laugh.


graywulffe in CVO, OR

Regards: "The Chimp having no influence.or next to none"

Well since this website of late seems to be more and more of cornucopian postings, I suspect due to lots of new members, then I would add that good 'doomers' such as yourself are sorely needed here.

If for no other reason than to offset the cornucopian's screed.

You have certainly, along with others, helped to confirm what the future holds in my mind. I have and am still making plans.

Sometimes I don't read TOD for a period of time due to the constant lack of what I term 'reality'. But I always read what the Chimp posts...but hardly ever go to his website.

Stick with it Chimp.


I see a mixed bag of cornucopian posting and 'failure to apply reason'
for example in stuart's post claiming that increasing housing density lowers energy usage, he did not even consider that if you would take a typical non-informed family of today. stick them in one house, and monitor the house's resource and energy usage. That over all the energy usage will go up and not down. simply because they will find it much easier to buy duplicate recreational items and have more then one vehicle for transport rather then try to negotiate with their family members over sharing these things. That the only energy savings seen would be through the influence of a outside force either monetary or government control.
That is a falure of reason and critical thinking. he just assumed that since family density decreased as energy increases if one increased the family density energy use would decrease.

Hi, Aniya -- and Chimp!

I agree with Chimp.

I think that the main purpose of USA electoral politics now is to co-opt and disperse any movement among the masses of people -- or especially among the elite -- for change.

We are mostly little fishes swimming in a fascist ocean.

Political leaders know that the masses of voters are as dependent upon and enmeshed in the fascist system as the elites, and can only comprise a real force for change if they change the way they live.

One key component that I find myself unable to comprehend or engage in is that we must divorce ourselves from the mainstream economy if we are to effect change. Every transaction within the mainstream economy is like another tiny strand binding us together as participants in the great, intentional market failure that fascism requires.

We are just as closely bound to the vast, global resource war that so many of us feel so opposed to. It is our daily work, spending, and assent to keep up the routines of daily political, business and social life that keep the whole "Rape Culture" going.

What to do next? I've been trying to slowly create an alternative lifestyle within the slowly collapsing Rape Culture. This sustainable lifestyle will become, I hope, the foundation for local, community survival as the larger, culture increases its violet attack on the planet and the poor people of the planet.

Even so, I have very little hope for personal survival, and embrace the absolute vulnerability which is the fate of myself and my family and friends.

I have a mystical hope that it is in fact the embrace of absolute vulnerability that gives new, peaceful, sustainable life the possibility of germinating and growing through this. That is a matter of faith and hope.

The point Chimp has made about the futility of political engagement is crucial. We enable the Rape Culture by pretending to reform it. We are too often like battered spouses. We are betrayed over and over again -- in the name of all that we might hold sacred -- and yet insist upon believing the rhetoric of the Ever Bigger Lie as we are promised that the Rape Culture will change and reform.

The more we benefit from supporting the Rape Culture, the easier it is to pretend that something else is really going on here. The well-paid professional managerial class -- the "Little Eichmanns" will go to any length to deny that something is fundamentally wrong, and that we are a fascist culture -- belligerent, militaristic, and full of lust to kill for "Lebensraum."

This is a tough part of the Peak Oil dilemma. Who are we and how did we get here? We have become precisely the kind of Sociopathic Species that we pretend to abhor. Among all of the species, we have struck the planet in a most violent way. We have mortally wounded our ecosystem --the sixth great extinction is our only legacy.

We got to Peak Oil and Global Climate Change precisely by following the rules of our fascist leadership, who now compete to see who gets to be Global Dictator for a few years.

There is no one thing to do, I suppose. It is not even certain that survival for another day is necessarily the right thing for any of us, although we usually try to tell ourselves stories that make this seem like the right sort of thing to do.

The chances of positive change diminish. Each day seems to require more faith and hope in spite of the evidence that even intelligent people among us have drunk the Reagan-Bush-Clinton Fascist Kool-Aid and do not understand the collapse at all.

In places outside the USA, the Fascist Kool-Aid is administered under various other brand names, of course. But here in the USA we have managed to Kill Off or marginalize any leaders who might have pushed our country in a truly democratic and sustainable direction.

Collapse will be the way through to anew future, if a new future there be....?

Late in the day here which means just tacking a comment on this thread after the rest of you have gone to bed.

I'd agree that ultimately the lobbyists win, but temporary victories are possible. People like Pelosi et al actually delude themselves as much as anyone else does. They follow the easiest path, which is generally doing what the lobbyists want - though it's good to remember that there are multiple kinds of lobbyists and they want different things. So there may actually be lobbyists pushing hard against one another behind the scenes, and in that case calls can sometimes make a temporary difference.

It's also good to realize that these Senatorial types are often simply ignorant about what they think will make certain constituents happy - I suppose it doesn't help that their constituents don't always know either. In the case where they think they're making a certain constituency happy, and then get competent-sounding annoyed calls from members of that constituency, they might adjust their thinking. Senators may aspire to be Machiavellian, but a lot of the time they're simply clueless.

I dislike lobbying on general principles. However, in a long life I have engaged in a number of dubious behaviours and that has at times been one. The difference between a lobbyist and a strident citizen is not always huge, though. I was really more of a strident citizen, but acting like a lobbyist (stomping around DC and grabbing legislative staffs, etc) allowed me to rewrite some laws I was interested in a time or six. That generally buys at most a decade or so before someone else rewrites it the opposite way, but as a temporary expedient it can sometimes work. It's a poor way to get things done in the world, but mostly harmless.

Is it a good use of time for an individual to call and weigh in on something like this? I plan to, even believing that the fix is in. Being able to call folks on stupidity like ethanol is cathartic; and perhaps not futile in the short term even if I think it's pretty futile in the long term. Which, as a card-carrying doomer, I do. Still, calls can sway a decision like this and I've seen it happen... so people should call.... and then go to Matt's site and stock up on your supplies.


I think its a spiritual discipline to take the right action even if I think its futile. So I'll make the calls, even though the farm lobby has the Congress so well trained they don't even have to ask how to vote on something like ethanol.

I do think its important to take the right action even when its pointless. The basis of any type of advertsing is repetition. If we keep the pressure going even on votes where we know we will lose the congress will believe we have a movementand a voting block and possibly pay more attention on issues where there is a possibility that we can have an influence.Bob Ebersole

“Without a video the people perish”-Is. 13:24

I was trying to post this right behind Matt's post without succcess so the humour gets a bit lost:

To the chimp in overdrive:

"Get thee behind me Satan!" :)))

“Without a video the people perish”-Is. 13:24

" The syngas produced from gasifying such biomass feedstocks as corn stover, wood by-products, and chicken litter is more difficult to clean up than natural gas-based syngas but much easier than coal-based syngas."

So these plants are being built and they can be run in reverse, by running them on bio-mass rather then coal and can trap carbon rather then blow smoke and still produce atomotive fuel. I would like to hear more about this.

Syntroleum Announces Successful Completion of Coal-to-Liquids Demonstration
Syntroleum Process(R) Tested With Live Coal Synthesis Gas

TULSA, Okla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 8, 2007--Syntroleum Corporation (NASDAQ: SYNM), a synthetic fuels technology leader, has successfully completed a demonstration of its proprietary technology designed to convert coal into clean synthetic liquid fuels. The test run utilized synthesis gas produced from coal and Syntroleum's proprietary cobalt catalyst technology in the conversion process. The 2,500-hour bench-scale test run was recently completed at Eastman Chemical Company's Kingsport, Tennessee facility.

The demonstration proved that fuels made from coal have the same superior synthetic Fischer-Tropsch (FT) qualities as those made from natural gas. The demonstration also proved that Syntroleum's proprietary cobalt-based catalyst performs robustly under real-world coal-to-liquids (CTL) conditions, as was predicted from earlier extended life tests performed by Syntroleum.

"We have now proven that the Syntroleum Process(R), and specifically our cobalt catalyst, performs very well on live coal syngas in a commercial environment," said Jack Holmes, CEO of Syntroleum. "This is a great step for Syntroleum and we continue to believe that this technology will help pave the way to lowering our country's reliance on foreign sources of oil, by producing domestically sourced synthetic diesel and jet fuel. This successful demonstration under the most challenging condition of live coal derived syngas is also very important for the future of our Biomass to Liquids technology. The syngas produced from gasifying such biomass feedstocks as corn stover, wood by-products, and chicken litter is more difficult to clean up than natural gas-based syngas but much easier than coal-based syngas. By demonstrating the commercial viability of our cobalt catalyst for coal, we have also addressed its suitability for any renewable feedstock. These results in conjunction with the Air Force's successful testing of our Fischer-Tropsch jet fuel last fall and the recent certification of FT jet fuel for the B-52 H Stratofortress bomber create a unique opportunity for Syntroleum to supply synthetic jet fuel from several sources to help the Air Force meet its target of providing 50 percent of its needs with a 50/50 synthetic blend by 2016."

As previously announced, Syntroleum has contracted to deliver 500 gallons of renewable synthetic jet fuel for testing by the Air Force. This fuel will be made using Syntroleum proprietary Biofining(TM) technology using a mixture of low grade animal fats and greases as provided by Tyson Foods. Based on preliminary testing, Syntroleum believes this renewable fuel has almost identical properties to the natural gas-based FT jet fuel used in the certification tests.

Syntroleum has finalized a non-confidential white paper addressing details and results of the coal synthesis gas test. The white paper can be found on Syntroleum's website at

According to Wikipedia, kerosene was first refined from oil in 9th century Bagdadh, and first made from coal in 1850. There won't be a shortage of fuel for the jets until coal runs out. Easily affordable kerosene is a different matter Bob Ebersole

Hi Bob,

Coal Gas-to-Liquid has some problems.

In 2006, the U.S. National Coal Council proposed a program to develop a coal gas-to-liquid (GTL) plant that could generate 2.6 million barrels per day by 2020 and produce an additional 475 million tons of coal per year. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has not accepted this proposal and it is not in a planning stage of development.

The 2007 GAO study identified significant problems with the coal GTL program: “This fuel is commercially produced outside the United States, but none of the production facilities are considered profitable. DOE reported that high capital investments—both in money and time—deter the commercial development of coal GTL in the United States. Specifically, DOE estimates that construction of a coal GTL conversion plant could cost up to $3.5 billion and would require at least 5 to 6 years to construct. Furthermore, potential investors are deterred from this investment because of the risks associated with the lengthy, uncertain, and costly regulatory process required to build such a facility. An expert at DOE also expressed concern that the infrastructure required to produce or transport coal may be insufficient. For example, the rail network for transporting western coal is already operating at full capacity and, owing to safety and environmental concerns, there is significant uncertainty about the feasibility of expanding the production capabilities of eastern coal mines. Coal GTL production also faces serious environmental concerns because of the carbon dioxide emitted during production. To mitigate the effect of coal GTL production, researchers are considering options for combining coal GTL production with underground injection of sequestered carbon dioxide to enhance oil recovery in aging oil fields.”

Future coal GTL is limited by the availability and rising cost of coal. The German based Energy Watch Group reported in Coal: Resources and Future Production (2007) that global coal production would peak in about 2025 “in the best case” and that “The U.S. passed peak production of high quality coal in 1990 in the Appalachian and the Illinois basin. Production of sub bituminous coal in Wyoming more than compensated for this decline in terms of volume and – according to its stated reserves – this trend can continue for another 10 to 15 years. However, due to the lower energy content of sub bituminous coal, US coal production in terms of energy has already peaked 5 years ago – it is unclear whether this trend can be reversed. Also specific productivity per miner is declining since about 2000.”

The Institute for Energy (IFE) of the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, reported in The Future of Coal (2007) that “A review of recent market trends suggests the following (excerpts): "The supply base of coal is being continuously depleted. World proven reserves (i.e. the reserves that are economically recoverable at current economic and operating conditions) of coal are decreasing fast. Coal production costs are steadily rising all over the world, due to the need to develop new fields, increasingly difficult geological conditions and additional infrastructure costs associated with the exploitation of new fields.”

For links to these sources go to pages 36 to 28 of:

There are insurmountable obstacles in ramping up oil production from coal gas-to-liquid (GTL). First, developing substantial oil production from coal GTL requires the consumption of enormous quantities of finite water resources that are already stressed by urban populations and agriculture in the western states. Second, the production coal damages the local environment and increases atmospheric CO2 levels. Third, the capital costs for coal GTL ventures would be enormous, and increasing inflation (that is generated by high energy prices) will limit coal GTL plant construction.

Does this really say "peak coal" in addition to all of our other troubles?

So we've run ourselves right out of anthracite and we're getting into the bituminous stuff now? Volumes going up but energy content going down due to the change in grades? Isn't that special.

We will end up burning poo for heat and it'll be dried in balls around a stone core so that it can be thrown as a weapon in a pinch.

I will try this again
" The syngas produced from gasifying such biomass feedstocks as corn stover, wood by-products, and chicken litter is more difficult to clean up than natural gas-based syngas but much easier than coal-based syngas."
from terra preta
Back during World War II, two Swedish scientists, Dr. Fischer and Dr. Tropsch developed a method to convert "synthesis gas" into liquid fuels, like Methanol and Ethanol. The German army harvest wood from the Black Forest and made liquid fuels to supply its vehicles using the process. This was done in the back of truck! In a Fischer-Tropsch reaction "synthesis gas" is heated and injected into a pressurized chamber that has a metal surface (something like an Iron-Cobalt alloy) which "catalyzes" this gas-to-liquid conversion.
The gasification of grasses grown on land not well suited to food crops plus GTL would also be a source of energy environmentally better than refinery products, but again deployment is the bottleneck. There again are not enough people who know how to organize such projects and operate them or enough who know how to build them.
from Range Fuels
Our Two-Step Thermo-Chemical Process
Step 1: Solids to Gas
Biomass (all plant and plant-derived material) that cannot be used for food, such as agricultural waste, is fed into a converter. Using heat, pressure, and steam the feedstock is converted into synthesis gas (syngas), which is cleaned before entering the second step.
Step 2: Gas to Liquids
The cleaned syngas is passed over our proprietary catalyst and transformed into mixed alcohols. These alcohols are then separated and processed to maximize the yield of ethanol of a quality suitable for use in fueling vehicles.
from me, grow plants in the ocean and convert them into fuel, stop playing with that shark and get back to work. I had the plans for this thing and I tossed them out twenty years ago, It was to be built in Mexico.
I would get rid of the kerosene lamp and get a solar charged battery led lamp, the kerosene powered refrigerator you are stuck with for another twenty years.

....while near trillion dollars annually leaving the country to pay for oil.

um.. I'd like to see the math on that.

I get (generously I think):

12.5 million bpd x $100 * 365 = less than 1/2 trillion.

Plus don't forget the cost of our Iraq boondoggle and the cost of feed our world famous military which is ever on alert to preserve our American way of life.... ;-)

The external costs of oil?
$604B over 4 years, $200B more requested (source)
3860 US lives, 130 more dead from self inflicted wounds, 12,831 wounded

76,701 – 83,571 Iraqi civilian lives

"76,701 – 83,571 Iraqi civilian lives"

The only reputable statistical studies I know of (Johns Hopkins U.) place this figure much higher, 600,000 or more. The last update must have been a year ago, so it is probably higher by now.

Then there are the ~4 million refugees and the utterly destroyed infrastructure.

Let's not forget the 1 million + Iraqis who died during the Clinton administration due to the (totally illegal) sanctions. Everyone forgets about this, but it was in all the papers at the time. (see, Bill Clinton is a mass-murderer too!)

It's pretty much pick your poison. I have to say the Chimp hit the political process nail on the head. It's not really new, it just conflicts with our cultural myths that we really don't want to shed.

A friend insists democrats will lead us into the abyss more slowly (that is supposed to be a good thing for those of us here now, I guess). I'm not convinced of that.

War costs could total $1.6 trillion by 2009, panel estimates.

"Office of Budget and Management Director Jim Nussle dismissed the report, saying "the Congressional leadership is attempting to manipulate economic data for public relations purposes." LOL! that is really funny.

You're correct. It is annualized $300+ B for 2007 to date [12.7 M bbd average x 365 x $70/b (estimate).] Near trillion is too high without external costs factored in, as pointed out by Odysseus above.

Anyone know where Canadians might find this show? Not on

Anyone recording digitally...oops...did I say that aloud?

I am sure that if you asked nicely, it might be available around here somewhere.

Another place to look would be on a bittorrent site like, which happens to be PG's favorite place to steal things, not that he would ever engage in such behavior.

link to history channel not working.

The following seem to work fine on my computer:


History Channel Home page

Thx boss!

Release the! :P

Couple of hundred US stations on here, sometimes you can find stuff, I use it all the time for Euro sports events.

Cool site...but history channel is cable/sat only I think...

I did check the list anyways.


Re: calling Pelosi and Reid

Reid's office claimed he is NOT removing the tax credit extensions for renewable energy. And (my) Senator Feingold's (D-WI) office stated that "they have no official position" regarding the bill. How in the hell can you have no position regarding renewable energy?

Now what?

Depending on your interest, try Reid's office tomorrow but maybe earlier or later then today. If you get the same response, ask the staffer why Sen. Reid refuses to allow discussion of peak oil production on the Senate floor, the most important energy issue of our time.

Feingold? He's got your opinion. The hometown Senate and House reps seem to have your number when you call. When I called State/district reps, they sure knew my address without me saying it.

Reid and Pelosi dropped those provisions because they would be subject to a filibuster by the GOP in the Senate and a veto by Bush. It is part of their election strategy for next year to frame the GOP as the enemy of such things like renewables, energy efficiency, and health care for children.

Do you know who threatened to filibuster? I know Bush has said he'll veto any bill that uses the tax code to advance any specific industry. Unbelievable as that is.

IMO the Democrats would be better served by keeping the solar/wind credits and renewable electricity standard in the bill, as these are bipartisian measures enormously popular with the public and fundamental steps necessary to insure future energy supply, and present it to the President. Hell, maybe there's enough votes to override a veto.

To completely drop the renewables will do zilch for the democrats, and saying the GOP is the enemy of renewables is stupid.

Hey... anyone know if GWB installed his solar and geothermal equipment and collected the tax credits for such systems. Info should be in the public domain? And any other members of Congress?

Oh, man. Total doomer porn!

Well the headlines are doomer porn, but all the interviews are reasonable. I like seeing the faces of people that we have been talking about since this blog started. I hope they interview the nay-sayers.

Wow, Matt Simmons just said "strike ethanol"!

They're not keen on hydrogen or electric cars, either.

The most recent segment focused on the alternative energy chain: plug-in hybrid/electric car --> alternative electric power --> more nuclear, more solar. At the commercial break it appeared hopeful, no dieoff yet!

...Almost to the end. Various non-conventional, or hard to process oil sources are mentioned, deep water, extra heavy oil, tar sands, oil shale and their respective problems mentioned. The segment closed on the threat of war over remaining oil sources. Again, not exactly a doomer piece so far.

Turning kinda doomerish now...

Certainly captured my catastrophizer side.

I wonder when they made this? It's already a bit outdated. The theoretical attack on Ras Tanura causes a price spike to $150. We've already been almost to $100, so that doesn't have too much shock value. Also, the Dow Jones dropping 500 points...not that big a deal, these days.

Back when CNN did We Were Warned, I didn't like the fact that they used fluke events like a hurricane and a terrorist attack to trigger the crisis. But now, when we have oil in spitting distance of $100 and chronic shortages in the middle of the country, and still little change in the happy motoring lifestyle for most of us...I think it is going to be some fluke event before the slow squeeze becomes an actual crisis. Until then, the slow squeeze will be so slow that many won't notice.

You are right, and Matt Simmons is talking about $300 per barrel on And when oil hits $1,000 a barrel, all of the talk about saving us with alternatives will cease --- after we have wasted an enormous amount of oil on alternatives and renewables that in the end are not sustainable, contrary to much current thinking. See my research at
At $1000 a barrel we will use every last drop for planing, harvesting and transporting for and necessities. We won't have spare capital for developing renewables and they will be 10 times more expensive to construct.

I read your report. Well done.

At the commercial break it appeared hopeful, ...

Not sure if everyone gets the same commercials during the breaks.

In my local they played a lot of car commercials:, Saab, etc.

I thought it was the height of irony that the car companies would be sponsoring this show.

Yes, I nearly choked on my Tequila when I saw this. I guess the marketing folks know that along with poor peak oilers and professors, many high rollers watch such stuff.

Robert Zubrin has a new book coming out about how to break the world's dependence on oil. Here is an excerpt from the New Atlantis.

Well, it looks like a plug for "alcohol".

It appears to advise against conservation.

Direct quote:
"We can do this by taking the world off the petroleum standard and putting it on an alcohol standard."

The title has a ring to it, though.

"No new Manhattan Project will be required ... The chemical knowledge required to do it is quite well established, being hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of years old. All we need to do is make alcohol."

And then drink it. Drink it all.

LMAO, good one.


(Crying My Eyes Out)
Unfortunately the average citizen has no clue that alcohol will not save us. Some of them don't have a clue that alcohol is old technology. Most of them are incapable of reasoning out that if alcohol were such a great thing, we would have been using it as fuel long ago rather than just drinking it.

So that's why: CMEO

alcohol may not save us - but it sure can dull the pain on the way down....

Innumeracy appears to be a consistent failing of ethanol proponents.

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

LOL. Great line. Perhaps not just etoh proponents. Maybe all of us.

Zubrin's focus is on methanol, not your corn-based or sugar-based ethanol. I think that methanol is a better biofuel than ethanol, unless you are part of the ADM lobby. Ethanol is better for drinking though, if you are a primate.

Zubrin's statements on conservation describes how our conservation efforts will not protect us from the ill will of OPEC. He doesn't arugue against conservation in general. The major plank of his argument is that it would be really great if we didn't depend on OPEC so very much for our well being.

Paraphrasing his quote, "We can depend much less on OPEC controlled petroleum and use more fuels based on methanol and ethanol."

One thing he didn't mention in the linked article is that methanol can be used in fuel cells. Methanol fuel cell electric vehicles may become a major component of personal transportation.

Wow, I just lost a lot of respect for Robert Zubrin. :(

Well, I waited and they said they'd show it on the History Channel, but at the last minute the choice seems to be something about how there's been global warming and climate change and dieoffs in the past and yadda yadda....

That channel's done that to me before, last week they promised me a show about blimps and nope no blimps, they put in something else at the last minutes.


I saw it on the History Channel.

Are you sure you got the time zone right? I think the History Channel airs their programming at different times in different time zones. The program you describe sounds like the one that aired either before or after Oil Apocalypse.

They will be rerunning it later tonight.

Midnight AZ time. Cox Phoenix Ch 62.

Bleah there's no way I'm staying up that late!

The local rooster will have me up at 7, plus the patented steer and burro chorus, and that's not the worst of it, once that starts a certain meadowlark tries out really catchy jingles about 10ft outside my window. Those are so good I have to get out - make good coffee commercials or something.

We don't sleep late around here.

Oooh, that was scary! Wasn't that scary, kids?

OK...maybe not scary. Or relevant. But did you see that host's fake widow's peak? It was just a piece of plastic glued to his forehead! BRRRRRRR!

My favorite Count Floyd was 3D House of Stewardesses. "OK, maybe not so scary. But those chicks!"

My second favorite Bergman parody:

poor production IMHO, many peak oil films do a much better job explaining the problems

Oil Apocalypse is already for sale on DVD at their Web site. The perfect holiday gift for friends and family. ;-)

and not available to ship until 12/26. What good is that? I want my doomer porn for the holidays.

I thought this was really quite good for the MSM.

I thought the follow up on renewable energy was even better! :D

I'd be most curious what newcomers to the issue or those without a clue might have thought. Probably won't get that here directly.

Got very doomerish at the end, resource wars practically assured. Wonder if regular viewers or the superbly portentous narrator saw any difference between this scenario and the usual MegaDisasters fare of comet impacts and Yellowstone erupting.

The Dude asks,
"Wonder if regular viewers or the superbly portentous narrator saw any difference between this scenario and the usual MegaDisasters fare of comet impacts and Yellowstone erupting."

I thought the one that really upstaged the Peak Oil Scenario was the Gamma Ray Burst episode, described at their website as follows:

Mega Disasters : Gamma Ray Burst Aired on Friday October 26 01:00 AM
Scientists at the University of Kansas believe gamma ray bursts were responsible for a great mass extinction on Earth 450 million years ago. The gamma rays strip away the ozone layer and generate chemical smog, producing a widespread chill that grips the Earth. It would cause food chains to collapse resulting in a prolonged worldwide famine. Also, an expected electromagnetic pulse will zap all of our electronics. Scientists predict the Earth will be able to support only 5 to 10 percent of its current population; that means close to 6 billion people will die--most by starvation. How will our modern cities hold up in the face of a previous global catastrophe?

Gee, hard to get happy after that one! :_-(


No mention of electric rail :(

Loved all the Iraq footage :)

Well just finished watching. The consensus opinion was clear
that if we do nothing their will be war.

In general this super doomer did not disagree.

Notice at the end Simmons said we probably have 5-7 years left to take action thats basically my save conclusion.

Notice this indicates about 200 GB or so of reasonable available crude which was my conclusion

200GB/30.0 = 6.67 years.

This implies he pretty much believes Hubberts estimate of around 1250 GB.

This means we need to take a real hard look on the makeup of the 2000 GB of oil left remaining that others claim.
Obviously even if we can convince ourselves this 750GB exists in the first place it seem Simmons at least does not believe it will be extracted at a rate that will allow a easy transition.

My own studies indicate we either have 1250 barrels and peaked back in the 1990's and growth in production has been driven by technology and the current peak is because technology and opportunities to drill have peaked not that we or at 50% URR. If we where at 50% URR the argument is technology is so much better today we should be able to continue increasing production well past 50% so production rates should increase for the next twenty years if we have 2000 GB of oil. A peak in 2005 at 50% URR is not a correct conclusion.

Their is ample evidence that two things have happened modern technology has allowed us to get high production rates and well lifetimes seemed to have dropped from 30-15 years to 10-5 years.

This drop in well lifetimes is the smoking gun that we are far more depleted then most people believe and its the critical variable thats not included in any of the current models.

In effect it means we are getting oil out of the ground twice as fast as thirty years ago.

You can play a simple game.

Assume you drilled a well thirty years ago and it had a lifetime of 30 years. 15 years later you drill a well say a horizontal well that had the same output but a lift time of 15 years the same at ten same at 5.

Obviously with this scenario oil production rates increase right to the last day four times what it was thirty years ago then it drops to zero and you have to replace all four wells with new production which is not possible.

Scary but thats effectively what we have done.

This is the shark fin production model real data is not this smooth but that does not change the outcome all that much.
By not including decreasing well lifetimes in our models and this include HL we have missed what seems to be a huge variable in our oil production rates representing close to 50% of the changes in production rates over the last 30 years or the bulk of the production increases since the beginning of the 1990's.

My own studies indicate we either have 1250 barrels and peaked back in the 1990's and growth in production has been driven by technology, and the current peak is because technology and opportunities to drill have peaked, not that we are at 50% URR. If we were at 50% URR the argument is technology is so much better today we should be able to continue increasing production well past 50% so production rates should increase for the next twenty years if we have 2000 GB of oil. A peak in 2005 at 50% URR is not a correct conclusion.

Memmel, you are clarifying what I also have been thinking, you seem to have a good theory to explain the current situation - actually, just to clarify my understanding, I think you mean we went through 50% URR in the 1990's - and that is before any substantial 'above ground' factors! (Make the theory fit the data ... not the data fit the theory.)

A peak in 2005 at 50% URR is not a correct conclusion.

Seems like good news then - we can't be anywhere near peak - move along, nothing to see here - phew! - but then, why has the price gone to $100? :-)


Yes and the key factor which is related to the super straw effect is the the lifetimes of oil wells has been dropping over the last few decades while production has been increasing.

As far as I know no one has really included the effect of shortening lifetimes yet its the key factor that leads to a eventual population crash even if the population is still growing.

Consider Humans once the average lifespan for a group drops below say 15 years then we are no longer living long enough to raise children this means the children are dying of hunger and the population is crashing.

So you see declining average well lifetime is the red alarm that a crash in production is coming and we have been in overshoot on the extraction side.

The same for oil wells once the lifetime of a oil well drops below the level that it can produce enough revenue to create a new well (given the resources) then no more wells will be created and the population of wells will crash.

EROI is a bit of a red herring since oil production ceases when the oil companies cannot make a hefty profit and still invest in growing oil production.

This is already happening and thus wells going dry now are not being replaced instead the profits are being removed from the industry. Obviously this well lifetime effect plays a huge role in this. Spending 10 million dollars on a well that produces for 3 years and gives you a profit of 5 million dollars means we are toast. These are the sorts of numbers we have today. To continue growing you need a ten million dollar well to produce a profit of say 30 million.
So you have a 10 million profit and 20 million to double your well count. At the end of the day the oil industry which requires large upfront investments in a declining asset has to compete with every other investment opportunity. And of course it has a degree of uncertainty.

We have reached the point that insane profits are not possible and dropping well life has made expansion unprofitable and replacement questionable. So you can see that because of the high up front costs marginal profitability does not work in the oil industry. Consider the semiconductor plants that cost billions to build you don't build these plants unless your going to make outsize profits. A billion dollars cash has a lot of intrinsic value and can be used to make a lot of money in a wide range of endevours. I think the big reason big oil is scared of alternatives is that a reasonable chance of us moving off of oil effectively removes all investment. Anyway these are just my thoughts and you can see how dropping well lifetimes causes serious problems on the investment side.

oil production ceases when the oil companies cannot make a hefty profit and still invest in growing oil production

Exactly - profit is the key, at least for Western Oil Companies.

For mature companies new products are developed out of the retained profits from the old products - and, if the new products (oil wells in this case) are not profitable enough ... in my experience the company shrinks (and eventually dies?)

In the seven stages of life of a business, number six is decline stage:

Challenge: Businesses in the decline stage of the life cycle will be challenged with dropping sales, profits, and negative cash flow. The biggest issue is how long the business can support a negative cash flow.


I would be interested in hearing any educated theories on the oil majors' massive stock buybacks in the last couple of years. Seems to me they may be getting in a defensive position to support stock valuation even as their reserves numbers fall, never to come back up again, and their existing business enters its twilight years. They're spending more on buying back their stock than they're distributing in dividends, they're not investing much in their existing business (because there isn't much worth investing in) and they're not (with a few small exceptions) investing in the energy business post-oil either. So what are they thinking? Anybody out there got an insider ear on a Big Oil boardroom?


Energy consultant, writer, blogger

just watched this.

respectfully disagree the film is doomer porn;

though title is typical hype & implied time frames are way too condensed.

overall i'd rate better than crude awakening- too implied doomerish [music &' oil is devil's excrement']& long &
energy geekie.

name a better intro film.

I must say that I was disappointed in the program. They softpedaled a lot about how soon worldwide peak is likely to be. Towards the beginning, they said "between now and 2040", but humans being the optimists that we are will focus on the 2040 figure and think we have plenty of time. Later they suggest that we may have already reached a worldwide peak, but then quickly move onto something else. They say that there may be between 1 and 3 trillion barrels left, and again humans will focus on the 3 trillion..

They spent a lot of time talking about how we are going to maintain the car culture. They didn't even touch on the question of how we feed the 6 billion people on the planet once the oil is gone.

The pieces that describe the history of how oil was produced and used seemed OK. For people who don't know crap about oil, anyways..

The most amusing error was the comment in the beginning where they said "99% of our railroads run on diesel", but the video showed a steam locomotive.

I watched it last night and thought it was great. NO, it was not perfect but what the hell did you expect Ericy? And to Creg, no it was not doomer porn. In fact that was one of its problems, it was not nearly doomerish enough. They did focus, but only for a moment on the food problem?

We are getting there people. This film was only a start. It is time tha cornucopians stopped dreaming and faced reality. People like Yergin, Lynch and all the cornucopians on this list are doing a lot of harm with their very stupid denials. As long as governments preceive no problem, they will take no action.

An a scale from 1 to 10, I would rate the fiml a 7. Good but not quite good enough. A really good film would have scared the hell out of people, scared them off their dead asses and into some action. My grandchildren will live, and die, into a world of chaos largely because no one adequately prepared for peak oil.

No, we cannot prevent it. And nothing we can possibly do will keep business as usual. It will be a terrible world to live in no matter what we do. But we could help mitigate the situation a little. Just a little... and that would help.

Ron Patterson

A really good film would have scared the hell out of [the shee-] people, scared them off their dead asses and into some action.


Sorry. The human brain is not built that way.

My father is a Holocaust survivor.

He recalls as a youth that a disheveled man came running into town screaming that the Germans were coming --and they were exterminating all Jews. So run for your lives.

The village elders gathered around this poor soul --and beat the living crap out of him for spreading false rumors and trying to scare the people out of their peaceful and prosperous existence.

BTW, my father is the sole survivor of his entire large family. All were wiped out. All of them. He got through by sheer luck. And of course, if not for that, I wouldn't be here to talk about how humanity always manages to muddle its way through the challenges and survive.

Wow, that's sobering.

well, I don't know where to put myself: I'm somewhat of a doomer, but i don't buy the 'Mad Max' survivalist crap or Olduvai.

I don't think we're going to Easter Island ourselves worldwide, though we might do that in some places. I think there will be a lot of pain. War will probably engulf Africa -- the Congo Wars were just the start. The USA is in a nasty cul-de-sac that will require drastic change.

But there will come a stabilizing point somewhere in the future. Whether it's renewable energy resources like wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, or wave action, backed by nuclear, or just burning a zillion tons of coal, we should hold on at that lower level of energy use for a long time, and perhaps even start expanding again. Fusion might be available by 2100, and that would be truly LIMITLESS energy...your own portable star.

Basically: I think we're looking at a speed bump that might last a generation or two, but in the long term energy use will expand. Peak oil is a FUELS crisis. there is more energy coming to earth from the sun every hour than humanity has used since we split from Apes. We just need to harness it better.

I expecteds as much, they have to keep their viewers from realizing that they have much better things to do then watch them.
As for the trains stat. a quick search on google seems to turn up the same number.

It wasn't the stat that was funny. It was the fact that it was a steam locomotive that made it funny. Which would run on either coal or wood, and not diesel fuel.

Yeah, I suppose you could retrofit a steam locomotive to run on diesel, but what would be the point in that :-)?

well allot of these shows are made from putting stock footage clips between interview shots.
maybe they just could not get a hold of a good shot of a diesel train.

History channel?

I thought peak was now, not 20 years ago.

Did I miss something?


According to the History channel, peak oil is one of the few things that Nostradamus didn't actually predict. Or is that the Discovery channel? And what about the UFOs?

I caught the programme last night. I am still sort of new to the Peak Oil debate (about two years) and I am not a scientist so I still face a steep learning curve. I've read a fair bit on this site and others and last week I read the CFR's report on "National Security Consequences of US Oil Dependency" and this week I am going to tackle the EIA's "Energy Outlook 2007". On balance I thought that the programme gave a solid of assessment of the energy outlook for the planet. They gave one scenario for a "hard landing" sometime after 2020. I'd like to believe that we are capable of "soft landing" but I am a historian by profession and I just don't see the level of international cooperation and planning required to soften the landing. I am aware that a few countries have long-term disaster planning underway (Cuba, Sweden, Norway, Iceland though I am not sure if any of these are tied to peak oil). Anyway, I am on this site to learn and I appreciate all the data the folks post.


Charles Lemos
facta non verba
San Francisco, CA

On balance I thought that the programme gave a solid of assessment of the energy outlook ... I'd like to believe that we are capable of "soft landing"

Hi there FNV. Welcome on board.

The Hysterics Channel did about as much as they can to keep the show running at an interesting pace for the lay people and not to get into too much deep math. If you paid attention, they even displayed a Hubbert's curve for a split second.

I'm not clear on how a Peak-unaware person views this kind of show. Probably they don't know who all the talking heads are (Roscoe Bartlett=US Congressman; Matt Simons= Twilight in the Desert, etc.) and therefore the words of these notables do not carry the same weight of authority as it would if Paris Hilton declared that Peak Oil is upon us.

This morning I tuned in late to the Ronn Owens show (KGO 810) and was surprised to hear a caller complain about the "Oil Crisis". I wonder if more people saw the MegaDisaster show than we think; and "got it"?

As for the prospects of a "soft landing", whether here in the Bay Area or elsewhere, it all depends on how fast we can get the local TPTB's to tune in and do something. So far in the US Congress, it's just Roscoe Bartlett and a mere handful of others. They are "representative" of the populace.

Here a few observations of my own about the History Channel's coverage this week.

I've made a bit of a study of the media's coverage on peak oil. I've watched with keen interest as the messaging has evolved over the last five years, and I have watched every peak oil documentary I could get my hands on...even CNN's horrid We Were Warned of last year, and the frighteningly prophetic Oil Storm that F/X aired in 2005, just a few months before Katrina (now that was spooky).

All in all, I have to say that the History Channel offered four very respectable pieces of TV journalism on climate change and peak oil this week (see the schedule here).

Modern Marvels: Renewable Energy gave an informative review of various forms of renewable energy and their potentials, without glossing over the limitations or exaggerating the capabilities of any of them. They even addressed the EROI issues of biofuels, and gave some fairly accurate numbers! I wouldn't give it full marks (they didn't mention, for example, that continually removing material from a field will deplete the soil, no matter which feedstock you're using), but I'd give it an 8 out of 10.

A Global Warning? was too oriented toward highlighting the uncertainty about climate change data, and not enough about mitigation, for my taste. Even the short summary revealed a bias toward presenting an optimistic case: "The most critical climatic events in the Earth's history are examined by climate experts in the hope that they can reveal ways to prevent catastrophic events in the future." [emph. mine] After a decent coverage of past extinction events and ice ages, and reviewing the major studies and factors, it took a hard left and veered off into a thought experiment about methane hydrate release and what would happen if they auto-ignited, which I found inexplicable. Maybe they just didn't know where to go with the story at that point. Overall, eh, I'd give it a 6 out of 10.

Oil Apocalypse was, in my opinion, possibly the best peak oil documentary to date. It was nicely balanced in terms of coverage, offered some input from many of the important experts in the field, and addressed the important factors adequately...for example, noting that EOR can extend the tail but not shift the peak. Even the coverage of hydrogen was accurate and not too exuberant. It was well done and thorough without being too alarmist (with all due respect to the Chimp and others who defend that corner so well, I prefer a pragmatic approach to persuasion). I was starting to doze off toward the end (it was pushing midnight) but I didn't hear anything that set off my bullshit detector. Another 8 out of 10.

Mega Disasters: Glacier Meltdown was broadcast on Monday (and was peppered with ads for Oil Apocalypse) and offered some respectable coverage to the glacier side of the global warming story. Maybe 7 out of 10 for that.

All in all, I thought these shows offered some pretty darned good coverage of the most important issues facing mankind, and they didn't really pull any punches or try to paint a happy face on things. For that, I am grateful, as well as for just getting the story out there.

I can understand why some doomers may have been left feeling unsatisfied; I would have liked more than passing mention of the population problem, for example. But at least they covered all the bases, to one degree or another, and didn't veer off into some techno-fantasy.

To conclude, here are a few notes I jotted down about the commercials that accompanied all of the above:

CSX (railroad) commercial: hyper-greened presentation, with very evocative soundtrack and imagery, and the phrase "How tomorrow moves" (are you listening Alan?)

Saturn commercial for hybrids: "What if we rethink power--and what it means to be strong?"

Chevy commercial for their PHEVs: "Chevy: from gas-friendly to gas free"

Ad encouraging homeowners to super insulate their houses: "Energy bills too high?"... 1-800-GET-PINK

Multiple Chevron ads from their new campaign pumping "the power of human energy" to solve the energy challenges of tomorrow. Chevron, IMO, is winning the PR race among oil companies for greening their image and getting out in front of the whole peak oil story with their "Will you join us?" campaign a few years ago. They've certainly given themselves plenty of room to maneuver.

No doubt about it: this week marks a very distinct change in the tone of journalism about peak oil and climate change. We can be sure that there are at least a few thousand new people out there who now know more about this stuff than they did a week ago. The drum beat is now loud enough for average cable watchers to hear it, and no doubt there are quite a few more people now thinking about trading in their gas-guzzlers and adding some "pink" to the attic.

Now then: what will the next propaganda counter-attack be?

Energy consultant, writer, blogger

Energy Bill Update: Will Renewables Be a Part of the Political Landscape?

3 pm Aug 14
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi publicly stated that they would separate the tax incentives and RPS from the energy bill in order to pass it before the Thanksgiving recess.

Now, because of increased pressure from industry associations, their members and other concerned citizens, Congressional leaders say they are still looking at all possible options for the energy bill and that a decision on final language probably won't come until next month.

Still time to call.

some inside details on this evolving legislation,
nov 9 from it's getting hot in here story
nov 13 from renewable energy access story

I just had the chance to watch the show this afternoon. Overall, I think it was poor, although marginally better than nothing.

The program spent three of the five acts focusing on alternative forms of fuel and building different cars. The last act highlighted one of the most extreme possibilities of what could happen. The connection between the energy supply and the economic system was tenuous, to say the least.

I much prefer, and would recommend, various other films regarding peak oil. I think the one I prefer most is the one documentary made by the Australian Broadcast Company (ABC). Here is a list of peak oil films, ranked roughly in the order of their accuracy and quality.

Peak Oil - Films to Wake the Sleeping

It was worth watching, but I think rewatching any number of other peak oil films would have been a better choice.

Michigan - New Culture - Value System - Local Future - Americanus
Value System: Gas Prices, Money, Peak Oil and The Future
Local Future Network