DrumBeat: December 3, 2007

Analysis: Energy report, fact or fantasy?

A few months after the release of a prominent energy report, some experts say its recommendations possess minimal potential for solving the world's energy woes, while others wish Congress would adopt its comprehensive approach.

The National Petroleum Council, an advisory committee for the U.S. Department of Energy, released its 380-page report, "Facing the Hard Truths about Energy," in late July. The report received applause from diverse sectors, including many in industry, government and the media, for its recommendations on how to quench the world's insatiable thirst for energy as demand continues to rise.

...However, some experts say the report pushes proposals that will lead to harmful outcomes, not positive results. Included in this group is Jerry Taylor, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank that hosted a panel discussion and analysis of the report this week.

Saudi Arabia sits tight ahead of OPEC meet

Saudi Arabia said here Monday it was "very premature" to indicate whether OPEC would boost oil supplies or maintain current production levels when it holds a crucial output meeting this week.

Record Oil Prices… Facts and Reasons

But of course, these increases in production did not rein in prices. Turkish threats to invade northern Iraq caused prices to rise to record levels. As in the case in such situations, industrial countries continued to complain that OPEC's production increase was insufficient to halt the rise, but without determining the desired increase, despite the studies and statistics available from the International Energy Agency.

Behind Chavez's Defeat in Venezuela

Voters' surprise rejection of the President's constitutional reforms may mean more stability for business and the economy in the oil-rich nation.

S.D. commish to hear pipeline complaints

A spokesman for the state Public Utilities Commission ruled Monday that it does not have authority to decide if a Canadian company can condemn the property of unwilling landowners along the proposed route of a crude oil pipeline.

That is an issue for the courts to decide, said John Smith, commission attorney.

But Smith said the PUC will accept the testimony of landowners who have complained about what they say is the way they've been treated by TransCanada Keystone Pipeline Co.

El Paso seeks right of way for Ruby Pipeline

El Paso Corp said on Monday it filed a federal regulatory right of way application for its Ruby Pipeline project, a 620-mile, natural-gas transmission line running from Wyoming to Oregon.

Boomers Seek 'Green' Death

It seems going green is all the rage these days, including after you die.

Green burial—which eschews the use of embalming chemicals and caskets that refuse to biodegrade—is on the rise across North America, say trend trackers.

Eat, drink and be miserable: the true cost of our addiction to shopping

But the alternative of lower consumption is something no politician is prepared to consider. In one policy discussion on the subject, Treasury officials responded with contempt, and referred to it as tantamount to "going back to living in caves". We have a political system built on economic growth as measured by gross domestic product, and that is driven by ever-rising consumer spending. Economic growth is needed to service public debt and pay for the welfare state. If people stopped shopping, the economy would ultimately collapse. No wonder, then, that one of the politicians' tasks after a terrorist outrage is to reassure the public and urge them to keep shopping (as both George Bush and Ken Livingstone did). Advertising and marketing, huge sectors of the economy, are entirely devoted to ensuring that we keep shopping and that our children follow in our footsteps.

But there is a madness at the heart of this economic model with its terrible environmental costs. It's best illustrated by a graph used by the US psychologist Tim Kasser at a Whitehall seminar last week. One line, representing personal income, has soared over the past 40 years; the other line marks those who describe themselves as "very happy", and has remained the same. The gap between the two yawns ever wider. All this consumption is not necessary to our happiness.

Richard Heinberg's Museletter: What Will We Eat as the Oil Runs Out?

Our global food system faces a crisis of unprecedented scope. This crisis, which threatens to imperil the lives of hundreds of millions and possibly billions of human beings, consists of four simultaneously colliding dilemmas, all arising from our relatively recent pattern of dependence on depleting fossil fuels.

What should members of the peak oil movement call themselves?

Language is important. Language is the primary way in which humans coordinate their vast enterprises and their daily tasks. And yet, despite this importance the peak oil movement has been fumbling around trying to figure out what to call its members. One thing is certain though. If we don't label ourselves, someone will do it for us. So, I propose to examine some of the terms that are currently in use and suggest a label. I'm certainly open to other suggestions. But, in this piece I hope to do some preliminary pruning.

Beijing seeks foreign coal

Even if it has the world’s third largest coal reserve, China fears that it is not enough. Experts: coal will be the principal source of energy in the country through to 2020. increasing numbers of companies try to buy into Indonesian and Australian markets.

Japan Presses China To Solve Gas Row

Japanese cabinet ministers called on Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to help resolve a dispute over natural gas on Sunday, a day after high-level economic talks aimed at warming the long-chilly ties between the two countries.

Indonesia to wean off oil, but biofuel use limited

Indonesia aims to slash the use of oil in its energy mix to around a fifth from half now, but the main substitutes will be gas and coal despite efforts to promote renewable sources, the country's energy minister said on Friday.

The resource-rich tropical nation has been pushing the use of biofuels made from sources such as palm oil, but Energy Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said the government expected only 5 percent of energy needs to come from biofuel by 2010.

Drive for 'green' palm oil adds to CO2 fears

The destruction of peat bogs in Indonesia is releasing more carbon dioxide every year than all of India or Russia, and three times as much as Germany.

Kenya: Study Starts On Oil Products Use

To address shortage of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in the country, he said, the government was contracting LPG import handling and storage facilities in Mombasa as well as storage and distribution facilities in Nairobi. Mr Murungi said that the government had made major strides in the electricity sub-sector citing the turn around in fortunes of the Kenya Power and Lighting Company. "In 2003, KPLC was facing serious financial problems with negative balance sheet and its continuation as an ongoing concern was seriously threatened," he said.

French producer prices boosted by oil, food costs

French industrial producer prices rose at twice the expected pace in October, according to data on Monday that showed pipeline price pressures were building due to the rising cost of energy and raw foodstuffs.

Wind Power Sets Sail From Crowded Germany

Nearly 19,000 wind turbines cover Germany: dotted across the countryside, nudging to the edge of cities and whirring alongside motorways.

They generate 5 percent of Germany's electricity -- more than in any other country in the world. But with the best plots already taken, there are now few spaces left where companies are allowed to build more. And it's not just a German problem.

Micro-wind turbines often increase CO2, says study

It has become the home improvement of choice for the environmentally aware, but erecting a wind turbine on the side of your house could create more carbon dioxide than it actually saves, a study into their performance will reveal today.

Kunstler: Magic Wand Finance

I would pause to remind readers how I regard capitalism in the first place: not as a belief system or a political ideology, but merely as a set of laws describing the behavior of surplus wealth and the "money" that represents it. Compound interest has worked for communists and Republicans alike. The trouble in our case today stems not from the inherent defects of capitalism which, like gravity, exerts its laws no matter how people think or feel, but from cavalier indifference to its laws. One of these is the idea that capital markets will perform credibly -- within reasonable limits of risk -- only if there is agreement that its tradable paper has some value. When markets work properly, fortunes are made and lost on the basis of relatively slight differentials in notions of value. In other words, people must have some idea what they are trading.

Enbridge crude oil Line 3 pipeline restarts

Canadian oil pipeline company Enbridge Inc said Monday it restarted its Line 3 crude oil pipeline after completing repairs following an explosion last week that killed two workers.

The pipeline is now operating at pre-incident operating pressures, Enbridge said.

Arabs and Kurds reach accord in Iraq's Kirkuk

Arab and Kurdish parties in Iraq's oil city of Kirkuk have clinched a deal under which Arabs will end their boycott of the provincial council in return for a more equal sharing of power, an official said on Monday.

Russia to raise gas oil export ahead of new EU rules

Russian gas oil exports via pipelines will rise in December as refiners rush to evacuate more product before the European Union introduces new stricter quality rules for diesel from January, traders say.

BP: Technology and partnership key to regional oil industry's future

Cooperation between governments, national oil companies (NOCs) and international oil companies (IOCs) and the application of innovative technologies is essential to unlocking additional hydrocarbon resources across the Middle East.

Speaking on the eve of the International Petroleum Technology Conference, taking place at the Dubai World Trade Centre from 4 - 6 December, BP Middle East President AbdulKarim Al Mazmi highlighted the importance of partnership between NOCs and IOCs in meeting the regional oil & gas industry's expansion targets.

Activist shareholder turns the screws on Sasol

Pressure is mounting on petrochemicals giant Sasol to bring more urgency to its climate action strategy, with shareholder activist Theo Botha the latest to weigh in on the debate.

Known for giving executives a hard time on corporate governance issues, Botha raised concerns at Sasol’s annual general meeting on Friday about the level of Sasol’s commitment to reducing emissions.

Italian consumers warned of looming energy shortfall

Italians could shiver through a cold, dark winter this year thanks to a shambolic bureaucracy and confused decision-making processes that have blocked vital development of energy infrastructure, according to Fulvio Conti, head of Enel, the country's largest utility.

"Watch out. We are in danger," warned Mr Conti in an interview, producing figures that showed how close Italy got to pulling the plug on consumers when gas consumption hit a record, reaching the limit of capacity on January 26, 2006.

China releases draft energy law

China released the draft version of a long-awaited energy law today, calling for more environment-friendly energy policies and a more market-based pricing mechanism.

What are the Prospects for a New Mexican Revolution?

Mexico's political metabolism incubates insurrection every 100 years. Revolutions tend to rise in the tenth year of the century - 1810 (the war of liberation from Spain) and 1910 (the Mexican Revolution) - a calendar that excites speculation about what might be on this not-so-distant neighbor nation's plate for 2010.

Uganda: Confronting the Energy Crisis

In the early 1970s, open conflict between the Arab states and Israel set oil prices skyrocketing. Simultaneously, the Club of Rome and other organisations warned that the world risked running out of many key natural resources. Both led to widespread calls for massive investment in alternative renewable-energy sources, and for new, non-energy-intensive lifestyles.

Some international and national movement in this direction followed - the IEA and ministries of energy were created, for example. But much of the warning was ignored. And when the price of oil subsided in the 1980s, the political impetus for radical change evaporated.

The foolhardiness of this short-sightedness has now come back to haunt the developed world in the shape of global warming. If the lessons of the 1970s had been properly heeded, even though the risk of human-induced climate change was unsuspected at the time, we would be in a much better position to meet the threat it poses today.

Sri Lankan ceramic firms mull firewood as alternative energy source

Sri Lanka's ceramics industry has been advised to consider cheaper and alternative forms of energy to trim power costs, which have increased with soaring oil prices.

Prema Cooray, secretary general of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, said studies show that firewood can be used as an economical fuel that can be a substitute for petroleum.

New technology key to safety of oil facilities

The ability of Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) to detect defects before failure is of paramount importance in the oil and gas industry.

Speaking at the opening of the fourth Middle East Non-Destructive Testing conference and exhibition, Oil and Gas Affairs Minister Dr Abdulhussain Mirza said NDT was critical to ensure the safe, reliable and efficient operation of process facilities.

Several trends directing flow of capital into oil markets

...Global peak oil and the depletion of the world's hydrocarbon resources "is not lost on the investment community and they want a piece of a resource in limited supply. As a result, there's a shift in interest by institutions towards more direct ownership in oil and gas operations."

Aerospaceplanes and space solar power

Supplying a substantial percentage of America’s future electrical power supply from space using SBSP systems can only be expressed as a giant leap forward in space operations. Each of the hundreds of solar power satellites needed would require 10,000–20,000 tons of components transported to orbit, assembled in orbit, and then moved to geostationary orbit for operations. The scale of logistics operations required is substantially greater than what we have previously undertaken. Periodically, industrial operations experience revolutions in technology and operations. Deep sea oil exploration is an example. Within a couple decades, entirely new industrial operations can start and grow to significant levels of production. The same will happen with space industrialization when—not if—the right product or service is undertaken. SBSP may be the breakthrough product for leading the industrialization of space. This was our assumption in conducting the study. As the cost of oil approaches $100 a barrel, combined with the possibility of the world reaching peak oil production in the near future, this may turn out to be a valid assumption.

Long-term oil prophecies proven wrong

By 1978 oil was traded at around the equivalent of $US120 a barrel - and the end of the age of oil was widely predicted.

The Club of Rome predictions of the late 1960s, based on the idea that there is a limit to global economic expansion because of scarce natural resources such as oil, have not eventuated, and today there is scepticism about OPEC's ability to dictate oil prices.

Senior transportation a growing concern

Concern over how the bulging population of seniors will get around in a sprawling nation heavily dependent on the automobile is paramount among advocates for the elderly — so much so that Markwood's group is making transportation the centerpiece of its annual "Home for the Holidays" campaign.

"Half of American households don't have access to adequate transportation options other than cars," Markwood says. "Rural America and suburbs don't have public transportation available."

Of hierarchies, thresholds and the rising price of oil

OVER the past year the price of oil has more or less doubled to its current level of close to $100 per barrel . With $100 in sight, it provides us with an opportunity to reflect on what forces are driving the price of oil so high. By looking at wealth hierarchies we can examine how it is affecting both rich and poor countries. While there are a number of complex factors — such as speculation, the fall of the dollar and a number of geopolitical issues — which all have a bearing on the price of oil, the fundamental issue driving price increases is what the main stream economists euphemistically refer to as “supply problems”. These “supply problems” are rarely examined in depth, leaving a gaping hole in analysis of current events. There is a growing body of research and opinion that global oil production is either near or has passed its peak in production. The implication is that from that point onwards production in oil will decline.

Commodities go ka-ching; buyers go, 'Ouch'

Cold steel is red-hot. So is lead. And wheat. Commodities are the hottest investment on the planet today.

Investment banks are scrambling to hire commodity traders and analysts, even as they lay off thousands of existing employees. Oil prices approached the once-unthinkable level of $100 a barrel last month before falling back Friday to $88.71. Grain and oilseeds trading on Chicago futures exchanges are up more than 25% from 2006. Copper prices soared so high that the U.S. Mint had to ban people from melting pennies and nickels to resell the metal.

Climate change may wipe some Indonesian islands off map

Many of Indonesia's islands may be swallowed up by the sea if world leaders fail to find a way to halt rising sea levels at this week's climate change conference on the resort island of Bali.

Doomsters take this dire warning by Indonesian scientists a step further and predict that by 2035, the Indonesian capital's airport will be flooded by sea water and rendered useless; and by 2080, the tide will be lapping at the steps of Jakarta's imposing Dutch-era Presidential palace which sits 10 km inland (about 6 miles).

OPEC backs away from supply increase

OPEC oil producers may decide not to raise supplies after a fall in crude prices from record highs, ministers from the cartel said on Monday.

Oil's slide below $88 a barrel for U.S. crude from above $99 on Nov. 21 has made some in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries reluctant to support the small supply increment that many oil traders were expecting.

Petroecuador controls oil protest, output rises

Petroecuador has controlled a violent protest in an Amazon jungle province that had slashed the state oil firm's daily output by 20 percent earlier last week, a company spokesman said Monday.

Petroecuador's oil production was up near normal levels on Sunday at 172,404 barrels per day, recovering from the demonstrations by villagers of the province of Orellana who demanded more state funding for infrastructure projects.

Fire shuts down Saudi oil refinery

A fire has shut down a Saudi Arabian oil refinery, the state oil company said Monday, the second accident in the country’s energy industry in two weeks.

Petro-Canada eyes Syria riches

Petro-Canada is one of at least four companies that have bid to explore for oil and natural gas off Syria, according to the country's Deputy Oil Minister Hassan Zainab.

China, India urged to curb energy use

Coal-burning power plants belch pollutants into the air in China, contributing to global warming that experts say has destroyed billions of dollars in crops.

In India, melting Himalayan glaciers cause floods, while raising a more daunting long-term prospect: the drying up of life-sustaining rivers.

The two economic giants are becoming increasingly aware of the effects of rising temperatures. But though they are among the biggest contributors to the problem, both say they will not sign any climate change treaty that would slow the pace of their development.

Australian PM ratifies Kyoto Protocol

Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd became Australia's 26th prime minister Monday and immediately began dismantling the former government's policies by ratifying the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

Rudd had pledged to commit Australia to the landmark United Nations treaty on greenhouse gas emissions as his first priority and kept his word after his official swearing in at Government House in Canberra.

Climate campaigner's road from 'raving idiot' to Australian of the year

Australian scientist Tim Flannery grew used to receiving quizzical looks in the 1990s as he pounded the corridors of power in Canberra urging politicians to do something about climate change.

"You'd go and see a federal minister and they'd stare at you like you were a raving idiot," Flannery says of his early lobbying efforts.

A new Finance Round-Up by ilargi has been posted at TOD:Canada.

Editorial Note from Stoneleigh: Round-Ups do not always make the front page at TOD. For access to all our work, please check the TOD:Canada site regularly. The last Finance Round-Up (November 29th) can be found here. We intend to publish them twice a week.

It's not that I was wrong when I said we'd see the US economy propped up for one last good Christmas shopping season. It's just that accountants, auditors and ratings agencies have started to feel so much heat, they're afraid they'll be left sitting all alone on the hot cinders around the tree, with a shaky conscience and nothing in their socks to start the new year but pink slips and indictments.

Today, in early December, it's still possible that the worst decay remains buried till 2008, but we can't be sure anymore. What we see is America's largest mortgage lender, Countrywide, hanging on by a thread, while America's, and the world's, biggest bank, Citigroup, may be beyond redemption. After recent securities losses, and $40+ billion more predicted, Citi now admits to a $17 billion write-down on its SIV's, which still leaves another $66 billion of braindead "assets".

Ratings agencies are trying to stay afloat, and increasingly, in the face of congressional investigations, out of prison. To show their good will, they've started downrating companies, bonds, and all sorts of securities. This'll likely be the end for many bond insurers. Is that so bad? Ambac carries $620 billion in structured paper, with $9 billion in cash. ACA insured $61 billion in assets, with $326 million in cash. Isn't it just good riddance?

Well, Ambac are underwriters for paper issued by the likes of Countrywide, GMAC and Lehman Bros, and Ambac's demise will drag down, way down, all the paper they insured, and the clients that issued it.

And it gets worse, with the forced sale of E*Trade's mortgage-backed securities. E*Trade got $2.5 billion from Citadel, a hedge fund, under condition that they sell their MBS. Since nobody trades that stuff these days, for fear of finding out the true value, this sale is a rare glimpse behind the veil. The price they got is 11 to 26 cents on the dollar, a potential 89% loss.

Why is that important? It sets a new rule, law, value, for all remaining mortgage-backed securities, trillions of dollars "worth", that remain in vaults all over the world. For all of them, it just got a whole lot harder, if not downright impossible, to get more than 11 cents on the dollar. Moreover, E*Trade was the only offer in the market when they had to sell. If more, and bigger, parties are forced to unload simultaneously, the price'll go down, so says the free market.

2 Finanical articles in the NYT today...


How bad is it? Well, I’ve never seen financial insiders this spooked — not even during the Asian crisis of 1997-98, when economic dominoes seemed to be falling all around the world.

This time, market players seem truly horrified — because they’ve suddenly realized that they don’t understand the complex financial system they created.

U.S. Credit Crisis Adds to Gloom in Norway

From ABC news ....

National Debt Grows $1 Million a Minute

Like a ticking time bomb, the national debt is an explosion waiting to happen. It's expanding by about $1.4 billion a day or nearly $1 million a minute.


At this point, the debt is so large that if we were to start paying down the debt as soon as Bush is ousted, using the same rate at which we are currently creating debt, it would take us about 18 years to pay it off, assuming that the future president is willing to cut the federal budget by more than 1 trillion dollars, which is 35.7% of the current budget [Rough estimate, I don't care to do the complex interest/inflation math]

Basically, Bush has screwed over the next five presidents! With all the demands placed on the budget by the baby boomers, and the future need to protect our energy suppliers, the budget simply cannot be reduced in that way. Even if one completely discounts peak oil, the financial picture is still grim! When thought of this way, inflation really is the only way to get out of the debt.

I'm 22. Where is my limitless future? Look out peak oil, here comes peak apathy (As population declines, so does the ability to produce apathy).

I think you are mostly considering just the $8-$9 trillion in Current Debt. The boomers are starting to retire now, that's about $50+ trillion payout. We CANNOT ramp up to pay that. Not in an energy decreasing world with it's Deflationary experience.

We have already past the Event Horizon on debt, and we CANNOT repay it.

It's eventually will be called Soverign Default.

Or as the Phoenix as the Amero ?

At this point, the debt is so large that if we were to start paying down the debt as soon as Bush is ousted, using the same rate at which we are currently creating debt, it would take us about 18 years to pay it off


Paying off debt over decades isn't necessarily a problem - (responsible) homeowners have been doing that with their mortgages for decades.

More importantly, though, why is it necessary to pay the debt to zero? The US government borrows money at a remarkably low rate of interest - 5% - so it can be cost-effective to borrow, provided the money is spent to create more wealth than is needed to pay it off.

The US government's debt is at about 65% of GDP now, which is a very reasonable number by historical as well as international terms. Interest payments on the debt are at a multi-decade low as a fraction of tax receipts, which themselves are fairly low. Looked at objectively, it's really not that big of a deal.

With all the demands placed on the budget by the baby boomers

Those "demands" come almost exclusively from assuming that medical expenses will continue to rise as fast as they have been. They can't - we can't afford it - so they won't.

Paul Krugman has written fairly extensively about this. The basic point is that healthcare in the US is monstrously expensive and inefficient, and fixing that will largely fix the problem.

Well to be frank, I’m not king of finance, actually far from that - but when learning that someone buy other peoples debt, in order to multiply their monies (investment?)...then this is it: “we have reached the pinnacle of thinking, it's not going higher” – take a deep breath, next is back to square #1… for a redesign of western thinking(societies).

Pity enough I know what they do with “their newly bought dept”, they squeeze unlucky poor people between a rock and a hard place… Watch the grim movie “Maxed Out” and see what’s in the coming

Do you think a lot of these places might be waiting until Christmas day (or eve) to put out a press release and disclose a whole gaggle of bad news? It's pretty much the perfect day to let bad news out because no one's going to see it, so it'll mostly go unnoticed.

The Wall Street Journal published their Peak Oil story on the Monday of Thanksgiving week.

Perhaps Export Land Model the Wednesday to Friday after Christmas ?

Best Hopes for Full Disclosure,


My forecast for Dec. 21st is widespread scattered flurries of pink slips. Employers just LOVE to give their employees the sack right before the Christmas holiday. It does cheer up the holidays, so.

Do you think a lot of these places might be waiting until Christmas day (or eve) to put out a press release and disclose a whole gaggle of bad news?

Yes. The credit cards have already been swiped. The gifts are already given.


Just a quick comment. I think one needs to be Very Sceptical about the lose figures provided by Citigroup. The number for their loses seems too low too be true. I read somewhere that they have around 80 billion of bad debts, off the books, hidden in the Caymans.

Also a British bank, just one bank, and not the biggest has alone borrowed over 60 billion dollars in the last few months from the Bank of England, to cover it's loses.

I think the banks are delaying revealing the true extent size of their loses for a number of reasons; they don't really know how much they've lost, they don't care, they hope the government will step in a pick up the loss, they are hoping for a miracle.

I read somewhere that they have around 80 billion of bad debts, off the books, hidden in the Caymans.

It may be worse than that Citi has about $132+ Billion in Level 3 assets (these are non-liquid and very difficult to sell). One of the biggest hurdles for Citi is they lent long and financed using short term bonds, as the bonds come do, Citi (as well as many other lenders) need to sell new bonds to replace the bonds comming due. Its likely that Citi will take a bath, because I doubt they will be able to find investors willing to buy bonds at yields below the yield of the loans they made, (ie Citi loans 15yr@5.5% but the bond yields on short and long term are much higher say 7.0% for 2yr bonds. Citi bleeds money on the difference.

RE: Aerospaceplanes and space solar power

Oh no, not another plan to keep moving to the High Frontier! When will these guys ever learn that it takes energy to move mass into orbit? And, reusable craft, especially of the manned variety, tend to become complex and expensive. At least, the author notes that the concept of an aerospaceplane he considers is a 2 stage to orbit, not a single stage to orbit wet dream. No, we won't be able to go to the local airport and jump into orbit...

E. Swanson

Reminds me of a button that I once saw some guy wearing: "The meek will inherit the earth -- the rest will go to the stars."

Don't think they don't mean it.

I thought it was 'the meek shall inherit the Earth, after the lawyers have probated the will.'

or my favorite: "the meek shall inherit the earth, but not it's mineral rights"
J.P. Getty

The urge to escape is only going to grow as environment and peak oil close in, but the economic disaster (thanks, Mr. Greenspan!) will ensure its only wishful thinking that can't be turned into an "escape into orbit" aerospace welfare program.

There is no safe harbor in this solar system other than earth unless we master fusion in a big way. We just need too much mass around us to protect against cosmic ray effects once we clear the earth's magnetosphere, and we're not moving that mass with chemical rockets.

Boldly going where no one has gone before? I guess that is true of what is about to happen, but it isn't going to be like in the movies :-(

I suppose there are some who think we could "terraform" Mars. Didn't Arnie do a SciFi movie about that? It looked to be a great place for a prison, until Arnie discovered some alien oxygen generator in a volcano.

Actually, the article discusses building space-based solar power stations in orbit. Look at this scenario:

Each of the hundreds of solar power satellites needed would require 10,000–20,000 tons of components transported to orbit, assembled in orbit, and then moved to geostationary orbit for operations.

He's thinking about hundreds of "sitting ducks" in geostationary orbit (GEO). The aerospaceplane would only go to LEO, but all those big satellites in GEO would need to be assembled in LEO and moved to GEO. Two big problems. The first is, how are these to be maintained? The second is, how are these "sitting ducks" to be defended?

That second problem is of more importance, as I see things, as the defense would likely be some sort of laser battle station built onto the power satellites. All that power could (in theory) be directed as an energy beam at any satellite or any vehicle launched from the surface. The potential use of this "defensive" system in an anti-missile mode would be obvious. Once such a system were in place, it would be a simple matter to let a few drift around the orbit to positions spaced over all other nations. The lasers could then be used in an offensive mode to attack other nations cities and or other assets.

The Chinese or any other country with launch capabilities might think these satellites are a threat and decide to "sink" them. The Chinese have already demonstrated such ASAT capability and I'm sure the Russians or the Indians might also feel obligated to defend their "airspace". We might see a situation where a war is fought outside the atmosphere between robot satellite systems, with no casualties on the ground. The perfect conflict for the computer gamers and folks that pilot unmanned drones with HELLFIRE missiles, lots of excitement without directly suffering pain.

BTW, tell us Gee Dubyah, exactly why ARE we building the ISS?

E. Swanson

The Chinese anti satellite shot made a heck of a mess from just above the atmosphere out to 2,200+ miles. They basically showed that there won't be any foolishness in orbit, or they'll do this a few more times and then *poof* no more orbital nuttin' for nobody.


Pollution has consequences :-(

...we could "terraform" Mars. Didn't Arnie do a SciFi movie about that? It looked to be a great place for a prison, until Arnie discovered some alien oxygen generator in a volcano.

Yeah, he simply pushed the ancient button and oxygen and water and trees and life gushed out over the planet in about 25 seconds. Any realistic effort will take a leeetle bit longer than that.

Meanwhile we continue to marsiform the Earth.
** gloom **

"The urge to escape is only going to grow as environment and peak oil close in..."

Hmm... like a second Earth...an Earth 2 perhaps :)

I remember that sci-fi series, it was ok not the best though.
Never thought i would be looking back at it in this light though knowing what i know now.

Oh, it was terrible but I still watched it. Had an adequate amount of entertainment value. I don't know where the writers got their inspiration but it has quite a bit of bearing on P.O. The government in the show was always trying to sabotage them because their going to Earth2 represented a loss of power. Then there was the kid who had a disease the government denied even existed. Of course the government was always cooking up schemes to plunder the pristine planet and kill off the "Terrians"(aka space Native Americans).

That reminded me of another post-apocalyptic show I used to watch as a kid... anyone remember Ark II, a giant RV that drove around the world righting wrongs?

anyone remember Ark II

Thanks, I do remember that show and have been trying to
remember what the name of it was.

The biggest flaw is the idea of starting at sea level and at 0 mph. Imagine how much fuel you need to get up to the first mile and the first few hundred mph.

A better approach would be some sort of electric-powered accelerator system built up in the mountains, 1 or 2 miles above sea level. The system would gradually speed the payload up to something close to mach 1 or so as it was slung out towards space. By virtue of already moving at close to mach 1, and by already being a couple of miles up (where the air is thinner), the amount of fuel needed to boost a payload the rest of the way into orbit is considerably reduced.

Payload containers should be designed for a one-way trip into space, to then be recycled as building material for space stations, etc. Don't bother trying to bring them back for re-use.

As for humans, they do have to be brought back, so some sort of reusable space plane might make sense, but for passengers only - no cargo. Keep it small and simple.

None of this will actually happen, of course. This is just what we SHOULD have been done, if we had any sense. Too late now.

"A better approach would be some sort of electric-powered accelerator system built up in the mountains, 1 or 2 miles above sea level."

How about 50,000 ft?

SpaceShipOne/White Knight


The problem with Rutan's cute li'l space plane is that it uses up all its fuel to get to the edge of space. At that point its ground speed is 0mph and it falls back into the atmosphere.

To achieve orbit you have to go 17 or 18 thousand miles an hour once you're free of the atmosphere. That's what takes all the gigantic fuel tanks and stuff.

Our current shuttle design has solid fuel boosters in place of the mountain range rail-gun or other lifting vehicle. When they get above most of the atmosphere the solid boosters are released and the shuttle continues to accelerate on its own rocket engines, using that huge huge non-reusable tank of hydrogen and oxygen. They save just enough fuel in some small internal reservoir to drop back out of orbit.

Once you see or touch lift vehicles, you realize that they're as exquisitely delicate and complex as Faberge eggs. Your linac ramp had better be pretty doggone long, and perfectly smooth and straight, if you hope to make any dent in that pesky 10km/sec escape velocity without crushing the craft in the process.

Of course it isn't easy . . . just not impossible.

The only shuttle components you really replace with the rail gun are the solid fuel boosters. Those two smaller cylinders on either side of the launch vehicle.

And Mr. Rutan's cute plastic craft are mere publicity stunts. No way could they survive the rigors of mach twentysomething in a hard vacuum for several days, followed by reentry. Should they encounter a fleck of paint up there, they'd instantly disintegrate.

Rutan has never claimed that SS1 is meant to do anything other than dart up, get someone their astronaut wings, and then land safely. The Wright brothers didn't build an SR-71 first, they built something with which to test their ideas. The same principle applies.

I would trust Rutan 100x as much as any of the big aerospace contractors when it comes to building anything - the guy is a hard working wizard and seeing them cut down is going to be one of the saddest bits of peak oil; had we given Burt a free hand twenty years ago along with a little modification to the nuclear materials allowed in orbit and we might very well have had that Mars run after all.

Wise up guys, it's just more corporate welfare for Lockheed Martin.

Yeah, what nelsone said, only double :-(

We could have gone up and out, had we done some little things like focus on a nuclear power station driven rail gun at high altitude to do bulk lifting of the stuff that can take a rough ride, and let someone like Rutan do the design work for the people movers. Alas, iconoclast Rutan does not kiss ass very well, and Lockheed has more lobbyists than Scaled Composites has total employees :-(

Oh no, not another plan to keep moving to the High Frontier! When will these guys ever learn that it takes energy to move mass into orbit? And, reusable craft, especially of the manned variety, tend to become complex and expensive. At least, the author notes that the concept of an aerospaceplane he considers is a 2 stage to orbit, not a single stage to orbit wet dream. No, we won't be able to go to the local airport and jump into orbit...

...Or when Comet dust, or micrometeroids smash the solar panels, turning them in worthless junk.

So accordign to Tim Flannery we have Bush to thank for climate awareness. Sometimes good results come from the worst places.

Flannery says the turnaround in pubic opinion occurred over a short period last year and he remains uncertain about why the change occurred.

"My feeling is that the Iraq adventure was a factor," he said.

"People thought 'well if the intelligence services and the president (US President George W. Bush) could get it so wrong on weapons of mass destruction then maybe they're wrong on other things'.

"It opened the way for them to challenge what they were being told about climate change, that it wasn't a problem."

galacticsurfer, credibility can come in interesting ways, as mentioned in the "raving idiot" article in Drumbeat.

After my ex-wife saw "An Inconvenient Truth", she admitted that for twenty years she thought I was a "f_____g raving lunatic" about AGW. But as a result, when I started raving about Peak Oil she took me seriously...

Errol in Miami

notintodenial, who says you can't be a "f_____g raving lunatic" and still be right?

As the saying goes, "if you aren't outraged, you aren't paying attention."

Galacticsurfer: That's the slippery edge of public credibility. To add a cliche, just because a person is paranoid doesn't mean he's not being followed.


Regarding the "failure" of The Limits To Growth, their predictions were for a 100 years period, so 1972+100=2072.

I think we should award with some "prize" to every clueless journo or so called expert that criticises that book without even having read it.

In regards to the article at top discussing the Club of Rome prediction about oil supplies: the allegation stated is wrong. The Club in its related report: “Limits to Growth” did not predict peak oil in the 1970s or even in the early 2000s. It stated, in its original report, that natural resources extraction as a group would level out about 2030 or so. There actually was no specific mention of the concept of peak oil.

Ever since the report came out about 1971, it has been misquoted and misinterpreted – and used as “proof” that many “chicken littles” are wrong.

If anything, the report now can be viewed as wildly optimistic about just how long resources will last at the present rate of usage.

That the Club of Rome continues to be a frequent target of the "No Limits" crowd is a testament to the cluelessness of some people.

Look at the state of the world's fisheries. Look at the desertification that is occurring in China, in Africa, in South Asia. Look at the rate at which the world's remaining tropical rain forest is being cut down. Look at the water shortages that are occurring all over the planet (including some pretty close to home). Finally, look at the number of refugees in the world and look at some of the brutal atrocities that have occurred over the last few decades -- Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur, etc.

Who in their right mind could say that these things are not evidence of resource depletion and overshoot?

Back in the day I was part of a seminar that used Jay Forrester's World Dynamics model (the one the Limits to Growth was based on) to run our own simulations. This was card stacks on a University mainframe stuff, so we couldn't run limitless iterations, but we did run dozens over a three week period. Our strategy was to find a best end result out at 2070. Most of our changes we would start at 1980 (I think this was in January 1979, so we were outrageously optimistic).

We tried things like cutting energy consumption by half, expanding yields per acre by 100%, assuming 50% increase in efficiency in resource usage. Our "best" results were steady states for the last 50 years when we assumed radical reductions in birth rates and resource usage. But 90% of our runs resulted in collapse scenarios.

For yucks we decided to push out the adoption rates of some of our better runs to the year 2000. When we did that, we could never avoid the collapse.

Now some might say that it was built into the model, but I think the recent LTG update demonstrates that model did a pretty good job of mimicking what has actually happened thus far

Hi shaman,

I've been pondering what you wrote here...

It's interesting - (I mean, of course, only in full-logic mode, emotions aside). I wonder if there's any chance you might be able to re-visit this and share it (write it up?). Your paragraphs #1 and 2 above would make for interesting reading - to look at in more detail. (Is anyone doing similar work now? And what are their results?)

re: "Now some might say that it was built into the model,"

And what might your reply be?

On the front of the UK daily The Independent there's an article about the rapid growth of the Tropics, which have apparently expanded by 172 miles, both North and South. This expansion has profound implications for climate change, food production, population migration, CO2 levels in the atmosphere...

What's also interesting is that according to the IPCC models, their worst-case scenario, this kind of development is something we would have expected to happen a hundred years from now. Does this imply that the IPCC's conclusions in general are too conservative?

Also, I wonder if there is enough data to show whether rate of expansion of the Tropics is speeding up?

I would think anyone who has looked into the report and then looked at the actual on the ground data mostly comes to the conclusion that the ipcc models are wildly optimistic due to the political influence of the country's involved.

There is some influence from politics, but the real reason is that the IPCC process uses a hard cutoff date.

Only scientific articles which have received publication before that date (and have been sufficiently widely read and validated and aren't too controversial) are allowed to influence the report's conclusions.

As a result, the cutoff date by the time the report is published is quite a number of years old.

This is biased towards science which is conservative, and highly secure rather than most recent.

As is shown on TOD almost every day, it is impossible to accurately tell what the future will be, even for oil prices this week, let alone in a hundred years.

The one thing you can be sure about IPCC models or IEA models or Wall St. models predicting the future is that they will be wrong. If they are not even close to predicting what will happen in a short period of time then they are of no use at all, except to say 'this isn't how the world works' - learn from it, and move on.

However, if all the IPCC Anthropogenic Climate Change models are so wrong after such a short period of time there are two possibilities (at least).

1. They have missed out a feedback effect (or effects) that nobody knows about. Probable to some extent, but would they be so big so soon?

2. The effect they have missed in their models isn't actually caused by Anthropogenic Climate Change at all, it is just natural climate variability.

For all the models to fail after such a short period of time 'Occams Razor' would suggest only one thing is wrong, not many things. The same could possibly be said for the alarming Arctic 'sea ice anomaly'. The thing that is wrong, for instance, isn't likely to be CO2 temperature sensitivity as it's effects have been so well researched (or so the researchers tell us.)

If indeed the IPCC Anthropogenic Climate Change models are all failing so soon because they are just plain massively wrong, then the politicians of the world are wasting their time in Bali (it sounds like a nice place to go for a jolly paid for by somebody else though!) and our valuable resources that we will need for mitigation - Churchill is often quoted at the top corner of TOD - his words will be more important to note than ever!

Hi xeroid,

I'm missing something here (perhaps from reading too late)...

So, to help me enlighten myself...

re: "The thing that is wrong, for instance, isn't likely to be CO2 temperature sensitivity"

What do you think it is? (Or, is that not the point?)

re: "Probable to some extent, but would they be so big so soon?"

Well, it seems like a totally-previously-unaccounted-for/missing feedback loop might have a large effect as soon as it became apparent - might it not?

Is there some reason why this should not be the case?

re: "it is just natural climate variability."

? Are you saying this was not properly accounted for in their work?

Does this imply that the IPCC's conclusions in general are too conservative?

Considering that they were writen by a committee, and had to be approved by ALL of the representatives of almost 200 nations, I'd say that's a pretty safe assumption.

In the article about the US national debt we were not told the important figures, namely the debt as a percentage of GNP. Without it the figures are out of context and therefore meaningless.
The important question is whether it is increasing faster or slower than the economy. Problems arise when debt compounds faster than income.

it's all too easy to look at a graph like this and take the latest worry as a sign that the 'cliff edge is nigh' -that's where the saying "climbing a mountain of worry and descending a river of hope" comes from I guess. If we look back to 1987,1997, 2000 -these all look like possible cliff edge points (mask the right side out).

The question we need to ask is what substantial thing or event will cause the inflection point, as it did back in the early 30s, and -if- we muddle through the credit crisis and this turns out not to be 'IT' (which IMO is what is likely to happen) then what is the 'IT' likely to be?? (and when?? :o)

IMO, if PO is going to happen then this is the 'IT' we will have been waiting for (along with perhaps half a dozen more unlikely events: killer asteroid, pandemic, etc). The credit crisis is man made -when Mother Nature comes in to bat we better take cover...

Regards, Nick.

If the economy is shrinking as the result of peak oil, it can't pay back very much debt at all. The interest on the debt will push us down in the hole faster.

We have to either cut back greatly on our living standard (even more than peak oil would require), or default on our debt. I am betting that on default-- if not directly, through hyperinflation, that destroys the value of the dollar.

Some of us are doing both!

Gearing way back in living standard (actually I consider my living standard to be UP, but my consumption is way down) and defaulting.

I got a letter from a collection agency today regarding what I owe Citibank, it's about $14k but if I pay now I can pay it off for $10k.

Too bad! Even if it were $100 I don't have it, sorry Arabs, that's just the way it goes.

I got a letter from a collection agency today regarding what I owe Citibank, it's about $14k but if I pay now I can pay it off for $10k.

Don't consider it until they throw in a new Ipod and three more credit cards with $25K apiece limits.

(Har. Har.)

Those people can just go fish. I was happier the less credit I used, and I plan to live life that way. If I need extra money I'd rather look for some part time work or tap-dance in front of the bars or any damn thing, rather than feed the credit card companies.

I think a lot of people will come to this conclusion.

Fleam I would suggest that you settle your debts as soon as it makes sense. If your out of work or have a low income then file bankruptcy if that looks like the right answer.

Nothing wrong with deciding to start over but your better off just doing it on the off chance that in seven years you may want to use credit. A good example is for say a medical expense. You just never know. I've been through some financial ups and downs myself but I did cut deals and work for years to pay everything off since I did not do the bankruptcy thing. My income was generally to high to make it worthwhile not that I did not consider it. As long as you live with unsettled debt obligations your still tied into the machine if you will. I assure you that you will fill much better having nothing to do with credit card companies either way.

Memmel I esteem your opinions and advice.

I want to take care of it ASAP too, but I have IRS debt, that if I wait 2 years, can resolve at the same time.

My income right now is $150 a month in food stamps. I have a "welfare" medical plan - it's that or go to the emergency room and stiff the State, so I have this. My income is not "to" high, it's very low. But, I want to wait for that IRS debt to "age".

Once the debt is resolved, it's my understanding that the IRS will immediately bill me for taxes on the amount of forgiven debt, so I will have to again wait for that debt to age, and declare BK again, wait, I can only do it every 8 years, so I will be tied up in this for basically the rest of my prime working life.

Thus is life in the Empire - you are allowed to fail, you are not allowed to get back up again.

So, I'd rather work on basic skills, barterable skills, learning to grow stuff, learning stuff that I can always stay alive with, and hopefully do OK without making enough to make it profitable for the Empire to skim part of it off.

I cannot think of any way to hurt the Empire more, incidentally. I am not allowed to do otherwise, this is the part where I mutter something about capitalism eating itself and empires rotting from within and wishing their own destruction and all that.

Ohhh yes the IRS crap :)

Sounds like you have it handled. You may want to look into votech schools if you can. Thats the problem is if your in your situation its hard to even retrain yourself since you can't easily get student loans. I admire what your trying to do and my brother actually lives the same way but I have kids and it forces me to play the game. Its really hard to raise kids with dignity by living poor these days.

The zero bracket, 10% bracket & 15% bracket amounts will absorb a large amount of written off debt. I do not know if that is enough to make the IRS debt "affordable" or not. But a thought.

Best Hopes,


I really wonder about this advice memmel - what are the odds that hyperinflation is simply going to erase debt, creditors, and the collection companies all in one fell swoop? And if that doesn't happen its still going to get very political before the 2008 election - some relief will be found.

I make too much for disability to be attractive even in my current dilapidated state and I am ill suited for idling, but medical issues and medical bills dog me. If these were conventional times I'd be talking to the bankruptcy attorney. They're not so I'm ducking, dodging, and soldiering on until after 11/2008 to see what the "New Deal" looks like.

That's the thing - people who are looking for hyperinflation to inflate away their debts are assuming that their income will keep pace with inflation. For most people, it will not. Very few people are unionized now, and even for the few with union contracts, the indexing is usually to the CPI. Ditto for public sector employees. We've had extensive discussions here about how screwed up the official gov't stats are becomming. For people working without some explicit indexing committement (i.e., most of us), they have totally had it. No way wil their paychecks be keeping pace with inflation.

Many people are going to find that their paychecks are falling ever farther behind. As their costs for food and energy continue to go up, they are going to find it HARDER to liquidate their debts.

We have to either cut back greatly on our living standard (even more than peak oil would require), or default on our debt. I am betting that on default-- if not directly, through hyperinflation, that destroys the value of the dollar.

I'm with you. I don't think the US will ever do a banana republic style actual default, but the temptation to inflate it all away will just be too strong to resist. Heck, we're already doing it, and times just aren't all that hard yet.

I fully expect to get every dollar that the social security system promises that I'll get. My Social Security check, and $25 trillion dollars, might just be enough to buy myself a cup of coffee someday. :(


has it been 100% proven that the economy will shrink after PO? I understand the argument -that as energy drains away from the system it will result in economic hardship, etc, etc. But wonder if the % decline is under a certain amount whether it will not merely result in greater efficiencies as a result of 'enforced productivity improvement'...

Example: if I wish to travel from A to B I can do it in a 10mpg Hummer or a 50mpg Prius -I still get from A to B but I would declare the latter far more productive from a resource perspective since I have achieved the same outcome but used 1/5 the resource...

In addition, money is recycled in the world economy. We buy KSA Oil and they buy Airbus', in fact we have done better on the deal because we have added much more value to the product we sell.

I know I'm missing something here and I am aware of the existance of research that says something along the lines that energy is responsible for 40% of GDP but I state again has this 'energy decline=growth decline' case been proven?

Regards, Nick.

The problem isn't change itself but 'rate of change' - we have huge amounts of capital, ammassed over decades, invested in our infrastructure and lifestyles that potentially has to be replaced.

If the required change is too fast we stand no chance of being able to invest in enough alternatives.

We will need a strong banking system to supply the credit to do the job, so lets hope we don't need the credit too soon!

I am aware of the existance of research that says something along the lines that energy is responsible for 40% of GDP

If you take the "useful energy supplied" (exergy), you can apparently explain 70% - there was some discussion of that here a few weeks ago.

I state again has this 'energy decline=growth decline' case been proven?

Not even close.

The exergy/GDP research discussed notes how much more efficient electricity is than thermal sources, meaning that we could substantially reduce our energy consumption even while substantially increasing our exergy consumption.

Moreover, it notes that improvements in technological efficiency account for much of the remaining 30% in their model, meaning that we could even reduce our exergy consumption and still see rising wealth.

Here is one of the relevant papers, although it's not the one we discussed. Ayres was the author on that one, too, so it shouldn't be hard to find more by them.

Hi Pitt,

Thanks for the Ayres ref - (it will be later, for me).

re: "we could substantially reduce our energy consumption even while substantially increasing our exergy consumption."

1) Under what conditions?
2) With what investments?
3) In what time frame?
4) Under what political and other conditions regarding the introduction of investments and infrastructure appropriate to the "electrification" project(s)?

re: "...reduce our exergy consumption and still see rising wealth."

1) So, the "improvements in technological efficiency" are made at initial costs of...? How can this be analyzed in a meaningful way?
2) For how long could we see a reduction in "exergy consumption" and "rising wealth"?

re: "we could substantially reduce our energy consumption even while substantially increasing our exergy consumption."

1) Under what conditions?

Anything that involves a higher proportion of energy coming from direct-generated electricity (nuclear/solar/wind/geo) than currently.

That includes anything from business-as-usual to GliderGuider's moderately-pessimistic scenario, and potentially beyond. There's more details in the comments on his article. It really doesn't depend on a particular scenario, though.

2) For how long could we see a reduction in "exergy consumption" and "rising wealth"?


Based on Ayres, advances in efficiency are most of the 30% of increased wealth that isn't increased exergy; accordingly, there's no particular reason - according to their results - that we couldn't see yearly 0.1% increases in wealth coupled with yearly 0.1% decreases in exergy consumption for a long, long time.


One of the problems is that it's very difficult to know how much credence one should give to government statistics or any of the numbers provided by financial institutions or corporations.

What is the true figure for U.S. umemployment? What is the real rate of inflation? Is the price of gold being manipulated and controlled so that it doesn't indicate how bad things really are?

I believe the US national debt is close to 6%, or even higher and it appears to be growing faster than the economy. I would call that a problem. Most other countries would have been put under IMF administraition with debt figures like that, but obviously that option probably doesn't apply to the US.

Newest statistics from Bil Sweden, who represents car manufacturers and importers, says 41,9% of all sold cars (in total 27705) in November were diesels (not including buses or trucks). The corresponding figure from November 2006 was 26.3%.
Bil Sweden also says a diesel car gets 25-30% better mileage than gasoline powered cars, and emits about 20% less CO2.

Two links in Swedish, unfortunately I didn't find anything translated on the web.

And the latest environmental-friendly-car statistics are 17,3% year-to-date share (hybrids, flex-fuel, diesels or petrol with low-carbon <120g/km). Latest figure from November is 22,5% of all cars sold.

The share for 2006 was 13% of all cars sold.

Flex-fuel car & SUVs are not environmentally friendly.


Essentially you're correct. As the Norwegians put it,

Cars cannot do anything good for the environment except less damage than others.


In this case the Swedish government has decided that cars with emission levels below a certain point are considered evironmentally friendly and thus enjoy some benefits like lower taxes, free parking in some areas, premission to use bus lanes in cities etc.

Alan...Have you talked to the CEC about electric rail?

Legislators, businesses unsure how to implement law without crippling state's industry Policy to implement landmark law far from set as regulators struggle to refine standards


Of course you are correct that flex-fuel & SUV most times are not environmentally friendly.

BUT, keep in mind the way the swedish ethanol is produced. It´s essentially either Brazilian sugar cane ethanol or locally produced ethanol from weat (with biomass as electricity source). This at least will raise the EROIE a bit from the best case corn ethanol 1.3:1.

Also, the top 5 flex-fuel cars aren´t exactly SUVs:
1. Saab 9-3 Biopower 1.8L or 2.0L
2. Saab 9-5 Biopower
3. Ford Focus Flexifuel 1.8L
4. Volvo V50 1.8L
5. Volvo C30

Bigger hybrid SUVs are only a neglible number: 0,8% of all eco-cars sold in November. They are probably labeled as eco-cars just to favour eco-friendly technologies.

My personal opinion is of course that ethanol by itself is no solution, but rather can play a part especially in certain areas, with >=2nd generation production methods (cellulose) and in combination with plug-in hybrid technology.

regarding diesel -

Actually diesel has been boosted and hyped all over the world in resent years (my impression), thus driving demand for the same, but can the amount of DIESEL just scale up, just like that? I mean, in my head I expect some diesel-shortages to play out somewhere, sooner rather than later.
And yes, I know there have been cases here and there already, for “some reasons?”

I have been wondering:
Can refiners “program” the amount of diesel derived from a barrel, to adjust to demand?
Namely reconfigure some processes to “steal” some from fuel-oil and some from kerosene, to increase diesel … If memory serves, diesel is between the fuel-oil and the kerosene segment


As new diesel cars roll out of showrooms, send 18 wheel trucks to the scrap yard, as freight shifts from heavy trucks to an increasingly electrified rail system.

That would free up about 2.5 million b/day of diesel (which could, with increased mileage be = to 4+ million b/day of gasoline)

Meanwhile cut VMT as Urban rail expands.

And also install ground loop heat pumps (primary targeted markets oil heat & electrical resistance heat, secondary markets natural gas & propane heat, wood & solar heat leave alone). Meanwhile push for more renewable generation with HV DC transmission & pumped storage to deliver it when & where needed.

Best Hopes for Good Solutions,


What is interesting about diesels is their ability to use easily made biofuels. Any vegetable oil will work if it is warm enough. Easily made pyrolysis oil will work. Gasified biomass or coal will work. Rudolph Diesel even sold coal gasifiers for his engines. On the other hand spark ignited engines are quite fussy. Oily fuel tends to foul the spark plugs and it stops running.

Most of those diesel cars must be sold outside the USA. I don't think you can even buy a new diesel car in the USA now (in 2007) thanks to the new ultra-low sulfur diesel emission requirements. VW, the largest seller of diesel cars in America, stopped selling them in 2007. I tried to buy a VW Golf diesel in late 2006, but could not. I believe that VW will start importing them again in 2008.

Although the new emission requirements for 2007 diesel vehicles have been known for several years, the auto manufacturers will have few diesel passenger cars ready in time. Chrysler has announced that it will not be producing the diesel-powered Jeep Liberty in 2007 because it does not meet the stricter emissions standards. Similarly, Volkswagen will not be selling diesel versions of the 2007 Jetta, Golf, or New Beetle in the United States. These Volkswagens (VWs) use the Turbocharged Direct Inject (TDI) system, which has mechanical direct-injection. Although it is rather sophisticated, it still cannot achieve the precise control of a common-rail system, which is probably what VW will use in 2008.


Microwaved tires: Fuel of the future?


With 50 cents' worth of electricity for the large microwave he has fabricated, he demonstrates. He turns a single 14-inch car tire, one small piece at a time, into 1.2 gallons of diesel fuel, 7.5 pounds of carbon black, 50 cubic feet of combustible gas, and two pounds of high-strength steel. He says he has microwaved lawn cuttings into a substance that could be refined into alcohol fuel. In small-scale laboratory experiments, he demonstrates turning both oil shale and coal into clean energy. He thinks he's found a way to extract huge amounts of thick oil left in long-abandoned wells and produce fuel that is cheaper than foreign oil. The capped wells alone would add several hundred years to the nation's oil supply, he says with intensity, pointing to charts and scientific papers and journals.

all the tires on the planet would only represent a probable reserve of 1 days fuel use for the entire planet.

this microwave stuff is more interesting for the ability to work on shale rocks, but the inverse cubic relationship between power at distance and power at reciever makes for an uneconomic method of extraction.

could you mine oil bearing rocks?

furthermore, using all the biomass on the planet would likely only yield a couple years of reserves until it is all gone, and the recovery time would be substantial indeed.

Gilgamesh , yes. We are on the same page.

It seems that most people (governments) have dire problems to come to grasps with various concepts of amounts of various substances – be it corn, soy, cellulose, rape-seed and so forth. Volume/mass can repeat itself only at certain speeds, and that confined by the laws of thermodynamics.

According to FAO global grain/staple production amounted to 2 Giga tones in 2005 , whereas global crude extraction came in at 4 Giga tones the same year ..

2005 CRUDE OIL : STAPLE FOOD => 4: 2

Bio fuel is dead , but only few know that-yet !

This has been posted and discussed before, but it is a cool development.

The process is pretty neat - they've tuned one or more microwave frequencies such that the energy hits certain molecules or certain polymer chain lengths, "cooking" the inputs back to usable liquids at much less cost than a wholesale heating of the material(s).

The new tidbit today is feeding it biological materials and perhaps producing a burnable liquid or a feedstock that leads to a burnable liquid. This would be a new energy source, skipping the messy, biological cellulose processes still in development in favor of something that can be simply accomplished with wind, solar, or hydro.

I will be watching this closely, as if it does work its a perfect use for all of the shut in wind energy here in Iowa.

Hmm. In other words, a slightly more targeted thermal de-polymerization process.

Exactly. Heck, the original turkey parts plant sounded even easier than this. They promise was almost anything could be used as feedstock: tires, lawn clippings, sewage, etc.

The reality, of course, was quite different.

Talk about NIMBY! I'll take a nuke plant over a turkey-and-tire-parts cooker upwind from me any day.

Do you know what happened with the CWT/TDP idea? Looking over their website it looks like they have a little plant they just opened in Carthage, MO....but they also seem to refer to almost everything in the future tense like there are still quite a few bugs to work out...


They found it was a very finicky process. Rather than being able to use any feedstock, they had to follow a certain recipe, at least if they wanted the results to be usable. They ended up having to buy beef fat to add to the turkey parts, which added to the expense. The energy costs were high, so higher oil prices meant their costs went up. It ended up costing about five times as much per barrel as estimated.

And the smell from the plant was horrendous. They were shut down numerous times due to complaints.

Basically, it turned out to be far more complicated, difficult and expensive than they ever realized.

Last I heard, they were leaving for Europe, where subsidies are more generous.

Discover magazine has a series of articles about it. Search their web site for Anything into oil.

When I first hit the PO bandwagon I read a lot about alternative fuels in order to determine what our substitute possibilities are for conventional crude. Reading a few articles on thermal-depolymerization quickly convinced me that it would at BEST be a small silver BB. For one thing the reporter who wrote the Discover article was innumerate. He claimed 560% efficiency (describing this as EROEI) on the depolymerization process that the Philadelphia site quoted him. When I went and read press reports from the actual facility the best I could find was EROEI of about 0.83. Somehow the spokesperson for the depolymerization plant had spun the 0.17 btu/unit process required to break even as the "energy loss," and so 100%/17 ~ 560%. Utterly ridiculous. And the reporter bought it hook, line, and sinker. I figured it out in minutes and I don't do math any higher than bell curves, exponential functions, and simple derivatives.

Suffice it to say that I chose not to pursue investing in any depolymerization plants no matter how promsing they sound on press releases or in flattering and brainless magazine articles.

Just to be fair however, the process originally being discussed is NOT Thermal Polymerization. The Global Resource technology is using Microwaves to break down hydrocarbon bonds. Thermal depolymerization uses intense heat to break down waste in usable energy/products.

If they were seriously able to break down a tire for .50 cents worth of microwave energy, they truly have invented something special.

The thermal depolymerization was a fine idea and I'd been wondering what happened to it.

The prompted recycling of tires and perhaps digestion of other feedstocks is very promising ... but so was thermal depolymerization :-( We'll just have to keep watching this and see where it lands - flash in the pan? Niche technology for clean up? Or fine new way to make liquid fuels? Only time will tell ...

"Just to be fair however, the process originally being discussed is NOT Thermal Polymerization."

Thermal DEpolymerization. It is...but it's more directed. Like heating up a cup of water in the microwave as compared to heating it up in the oven.

i dunno what used tires sell for (and couldn't find them), but at even 3 ga/ tire, you are pretty screwed for 0.50$ of electricity. Because you compete with the other utilities for scrap tires (roads, new tires, ect). I dont have a cost breakdown to give you, but it would seem that this method is a last ditch effort.

Basically, it turned out to be far more complicated, difficult and expensive than they ever realized.

Somehow, I have the feeling we're going to be seeing those same words repeated over and over again.

Just reading an article about the huge amount of plastic (millions of tons) swirling around in the Pacific Gyre. I wonder if it would be possible to have an energy-positive system with a ship scooping up this plastic and feeding it to an on board thermal-depolymerizer. Something for the geeks on the site to chew on.

Oh, it was in 'The World Without Us' that I saw the description and estimates on tonnage and concentration of plastic.

You should be envisioning trash schooners - sailing vessels roaming the NPG with giant booms out either side, collecting crap floating in the first 50' to 100' of the water column for reprocessing.

I figure this is going to be a source of hydrocarbon inputs for industries in Cascadia after the U.S. disintegrates ...

But how much better would it be to turn your old tires directly into new tires?
Processes like pan-milling are being optimized in China for mechanical depolymerization of EPDM, although it isn't perfect, more like downcycling than recycling. Still, it cuts way back on the amount of virgin material required to make a new tire. This comes from the director of the State Key Laboratory for Polymer Engineering in Chengdu, Sichuan, China, that I spoke with a couple months ago.

A lot of tires are rethreaded, especially tires for really big vehicles. I was told that it's easier the bigger the tire is, because you don't have to worry (or the customers don't care) that much about aligning things 100%.

I was about to say that this guy looks like a crackpot, because I could see no way this stuff would return more energy than what was used to cook the tire in the first place, but thanks for the explanation. It's not a solution for Peak Oil (unless it somehow proves very good for oil shale), but it's a neat concept. And could be used for discarding old tires and other materials better than just burning it on a thermal power plant.

There are clusters of solutions for the various symptoms of peak oil, but there is no "solution", so to speak. Conservation of what is left is the very best thing we can do, and this is a fun, techie way to conserve.

It would, of course, be far better if we used a low tech, well understood solution like rail for transit, but that just makes too much sense here at the end of the oil age.

Agreed. I was just commenting that if this is really possible (and scales up), it would contribute to a basket of mitigating technologies and techniques to help ease a peak oil crash. Of course only conservation and sustainability will ever "solve" peak oil. That or cheap fusion power, but I'm not putting my money on that for the foreseable future.

This process claims to produce 1.2 gallons of fuel from a 14-inch tire. So, if for example you drive 12,000 miles per year and get a new set of four tires every 36,000 miles, by using this process you will produce about 1.6 gallons per year of fuel. Not a whole hell of a lot, but better than nothing.

Keep in mind that the fate of most recently generated used tires in the US is combustion as refused-derived fuel in large industrial boilers (some of it is also ground up and used as a supplement to construction material). Thus, energy is already being recovered from used tires, just not in the form of fuel though.

The article mentions that the microwaving of the tires is done under a vaccum to prevent oxidation problems. This requirement raises some obstacles (albeit not insurmountable ones) with respect to building units on a really large scale, as large vacuum vessels can get pretty expensive.

What I do like about the process is that it appears very flexible with regard to being about to accept a wide variety of feedstocks. As I am not too far from where this guy has his operations, I might want to pay him a visit and check it out.

What I do like about the process is that it appears very flexible with regard to being about to accept a wide variety of feedstocks. As I am not too far from where this guy has his operations, I might want to pay him a visit and check it out.

Oh man, that would be great. If we can get a good first hand account of the process working I may have to buy some GBRC stock. :)

You may want to read this posting before investing: Alt Energy Stocks: Unanswered questions About Management.

Most auto tires' EPDM is catalyzed with cadmium. You want that in your furnace, or anywhere else, for that matter? IIRC, Michelin is the only major manufacturer without Cd in their tires.

Of course, I hope you're aware that the fly ash from the combustion of coal not only contains cadmium but also about a dozen other heavy metals, including mercury and lead. Evidently, the US EPA and the various state environmental agencies do not have a great big problem with the cadmium content of waste tires, as the many combustion sources using waste tires as supplemental fuel are legally operating with valid air permits. Many of these combustion sources are equipped with a variety of air pollution control devices, such as electrostatic preciptators or scrubbers.

Also keep in mind that the microwave process just discussed is operated under a vacuum, and as such would not be discharging a large contaminated air stream. It's not clear what the relative fractions of cadmium would be in the gas, liquid, or soild residue. Anyway, if some of it does get into the hydrocarbon-laden off gas, I would think that gas could be cleaned up of the various contaminants without undo difficulty.

Almost all waste material is going contain some nasties in greater or lesser concentrations. That alone does not preclude their processing, and the important thing is how those harmful constituents are handled and what is their final disposition.

We burn about 5Gtons of hard coal a year. Coal is between 1ppm and 13ppm uranium, along with other nasties like thorium.

If you do the math on this its about 5,000 tons of uranium per year involved in combustion and 150 tons of that will be the bomb grade uranium 235. Oh, and it isn't well studied, but the uranium 238 in the atmosphere may capture neutrons from cosmic rays, producing a small amount of atmospheric plutonium every year.

Much of the combustion byproducts don't go up the stack and much of what does go up gets captured in western countries - fly ash capture is 99.5% efficient. Assuming the perfect world where everyone is as diligent as we are here that means 1/200th or 25 tons of U238 and 1,500 pounds of U235 are making it out. The rest of the world isn't as tidy as we are here in the United States.

Glad you pointed that out.

Which is why, If I HAD to live next to a power plant, I'd much rather
live next to a nuclear power plant than a coal-fired one.

hi, joule:
The point is that the tire-to-fuel isn't burned on-site, it's planned to end up in your car, where there's much less liklihood IMHO of effectively capturing the cadmium than there is in a modern coal-fired power plant.
Basically I agree with you; the only place to burn tires is in those fixed plants with large enough economies of scale to permit economical scrubbing. And plenty of heavy metals still escape anyway.

I would imagine that a higher percentage of those heavy metals than the 99.5% average ends up in the fly ash. A Uranium molecule is pretty heavy to float in the atmosphere for very long. Most of what does gets into the air probably falls out a little way down wind. I would not want to live there.

Paulson said that the administration is putting forward a new proposal to allow state and local governments more authority to temporarily broaden their tax-exempt bond programs to include mortgage refinancing.

Am I seeing things here? Municipalities are going to finance mortgages by the sale of tax free bonds? This is madness - cities and counties under the gun for revenues will prop up their housing markets, no matter how unsustainable, pushing the day of reckoning out of the Bush administration's time and into the next administration's in basket.


Things are bad for some and poorly conceived but politically acceptable solutions are going to ensure those who were prudent get sucked right into the mess, too.

not too surprising considering the system we are in. if you have terms for elected officials too short they won't focus on anything but what makes them look good and thus shore up problems like this till the next guy comes in so they don't get blamed. yet if you have the term too large it would be hard to get rid of someone who is elected if they do a bad job.

Hey! Quantum distressed asset concealment! Seriously ... you can measure the value of the asset, or its velocity, but not both ... so if they keep the stuff moving no one can get a fix on what the real value is :-)

Less humorously, I hope that municipalities, no matter how distressed, will not let bad loans on their balance sheets in order to collect property tax on the stuff for another year. I mean what we're talking about is functionally breaking SIVs down by geographic location, parceling them out to the marks, I mean cities and counties, and then letting them suffer the loss. If a city/county wants to own an unsalable abandonded property why not just let it stand a bit and claim it for property taxes?

The stupidity is reaching stratospheric levels ...

Oh, now, that's hilarious! But what would the quantum-noncommuting variable be for the velocity of a CDO? It should be its position, right? As in, "Who the heck owns what part of this mortgage?"
And what stands in for the Planck constant? Whatever it turns out to be, I'll bet it's a tad larger than 10**-34.

The USD will obviously eventually intersect that 10**-34 number at some point in the future, but I don't want to see the day when that is the exchange rate against the yuan.

The dismantling of the SIV mess will be quite a bit like divorce I am guessing - some bits of them will still be desirable, most won't, and none of it easily divisble. The Monbiot Feline Combat Containment System will be brought out, loaded to 132% of capacity with lawyers, and then shaken vigorously after a bit of specie has been thrown in the motivate the critters.

"Love is grand - divorce is a hundred grand."


Anybody watching the C-span 1 Housing coverage today? Someone in their panel at around 11am was saying that the problem would have to be averted by 'targeting the consumers' and helping them restore their faith in home-ownership. He really seemed to think that it was just a public perception problem.

I was only half-listening, but that one caught my ear.

Through open window in Roman Senate:

"What of the Question of the Poor?"
" F___ the Poor!"
- History of the World Pt I

~ or at the very least, blame the poor!


Paulson is delusional. Many states and local governments, Florida included, are under extreme pressure to make enough budget cuts to prevent budget shortfalls. If, Florida for instance, decided to sell state bonds to fund mortgages, who would buy the bonds? Only a complete lunatic would purchase Florida State mortgage bonds...So what if they are tax free? If they are worthless what difference does it make if they are tax free?
Tomorrow the Fl Governor, Treasurer, and various other state officials are meeting to attempt to right the problems in the Fl State Fund that many counties, school boards, cities and other state institutions have kept monies in for short terms to earn a very small amount of interest. All parties thought that these funds would be available to make payrolls and to invest in recuring and one time capitol expenses...Well, now the fund has had a run of withdrawals and the ramainder of the fund is toxic sludge (actually, frozen toxic sludge because no one can withdraw monies from it now). No one wants to purchase what remains in the fund...If a buyer is found it will be for pennies on the dollar. One small county (tax base wise) has/had $537 million in this worthless fund! What were these people thinking when they put short term county money into the state fund? Who sold the state the worthless mortgage backed bonds that the fund contains? Who received a commision for the sales? These people should be facing charges for conspiracy to defraud! All these rotten politicians that have run as 'strong on crime' should find out what doing some time is like! Our holier than thou state treasurer definitely needs to be interviewed about his role in this mess.
After this mess comes to light, if it does, no one in their right mind would be interested in buying into Paulsons scheme for Florida to sell mortgage backed bonds. The man is grasping at straws...He wants to pull the worthless mortgages out of the big banks, off their balance sheets, and dump them onto state and local governments. It will not fly because there will be no buyers for the bonds and I doubt many, if any, states will go along. Sorry for the long rant but I am really ticked about this one.

You think this is fun, wait until dealing with half the state going under water is on the table!

It would appear that we're going to see half of Washington under water before we see half of Florida there - green are flood warnings in this screen shot. I think I tracked it down from http://wunderground.com ...

Historic Northwest Flooding

River, looks like Montana and Connecticut state-run investment funds are having same problems as Florida...

Bloomberg: Montana, Connecticut Hold SIVs Downgraded, Reviewed by Moody's

Hopefully this spreads both in effect and news wise before the great treasury scam conceived to stick city/county entities with junk debt is put into effect by Secretary of Treasury Paulson. Not that I wish trouble on people, I just wish people would open their eyes ...

Hello TODers,

I wonder if the US price of energy has risen to the point whereby biosolar profits will accrue to those early-adopters of solar ovens and solar cookers applied on an industrial-municipal scale. Hell, during our blazing summer months in Phx: the bakery employees could just cook the bread inside the abandoned SUVs using the fancy custom wheels as the reflectors!


Lots of other interesting articles at this website!

What will a future grocery store look like? I would imagine it to be mostly sacks of milled grains, sugar, spices & coffee, and recyclable jars of food. If anything at all is refrigerated, it will probably only be ice-blocks.

You would have to trade-in as many empty jars or jugs as you bought [or pay very heavily for a new jar]. People will probably postPeak handle a glass jar of honey or jam as carefully as a present day diamond salesperson showing wedding rings. In case of an accident: it will be safely packed with straw, dinner rolls, or nuts inside a latched-lid wooden box for the bicycle or wheelbarrow ride back home.

The butcher shop would let you pick the live birdfowl, then they would prepare it for your trip home. Alternatively, you could also just buy the bird, tie it to your bicycle, then complete the operation at home. A couple of cows will be slaughtered/day, then immediately sold--no refrigeration and petro-packaging.

Letting a dairy cow or goat graze in your yard for awhile will be the required tradeoff for a cup of milk as the shepard moves the herd along the streets. If you are lucky: the cow will hopefully crap in your yard so you can quickly add it to your compost heap. Cheese will be priced like fine wine or liquor, but hopefully your prized, vine-ripened, mouth-watering beefsteak tomatoes might be traded for a decent slice.

Of course, the above is all based on a smooth transition to relocalized permaculture versus rapid collapse into machete' moshpits and cannibalism.

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

Hot, dry places have free air conditioning ... but you have to do it mother nature's way, not man's way.


Hello SCT,

Too bad you posted this informative link. Now, all the A/C mfgs, electric utilities, electric fan mfgs, lumber companies, et al, that daily read TOD info, will now funnel million$$$ into lobbying efforts. Preventing any change in the housing codes will be key to protecting their profits; to allow this architecture to spread across the hot habitats is a direct threat to their financial livelihoods. Such is life.

Consider: Maytag and Whirlpool must just love how HomeOwner Associations [HOAs] make it illegal to use a backyard clothesline.

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

Sorry to burst your bubble, Mr. Totoneila Sir, but there was a recent article here on how a state (South Carolina?) has nullified all HOA and city ordinances against clothes lines, making them legal statewide.

I could do a PSA ... I'd probably use that one Passionata commercial where all of the men have casts and bandages because they're running into things after they notice the pretty girl taking her underthings in from the clothes line strung above the alley :-)

Hello SCT,

Repealing clothesline ordinances is a good start, but we got a very long way to go.

This young lady could singlehandedly cure the nation's aversion to laundry hanging outside :-)


It's called the Right To Dry movement and yes, it's obviously the enemy of Maytag, whirlpool, etc.

It's good to see this catching on, funny to see laundry detergent manufacturers showing commercials on TV glorifying line-drying, but line-drying is not allowed in so many places.

Line-drying is not as great as they make it out to be, I know, but it's CHEAPER. This is why the poor swear by it.

I line-dried for many years in Japan. Nobody uses dryers, not even the wealthy. The big houses have special drying balconies that allow clothes to dry even when it's raining.

Line drying is easier on clothes. That's more important where people have better clothes perhaps, unlike the US where everything is el-cheapo.

Line drying is easier on clothes.

My mom always said that, but that hasn't been my experience. I've found clothes last longer when I machine-dry them.

My guess is that it's because 1) my experience with line-drying is mostly in the tropics, where the sun is extremely harsh and 2) my experience is with much newer driers than my mom's, and new dryers are easier on clothing.

In particular, I've found line-drying destroys synthetics - lycra, elastic, etc. - much faster than the dryer.

Cotton (99% of my wardrobe) does better with line drying. Machines over dry the cotton (below atmospheric humidity here in my beloved swamp :-) and the fibers are more brittle without the absorbed water.

Best Hopes for Non-Oil Clothing,


Best Hopes for Non-Oil Clothing,

Spoken like someone who doesn't wear a bra.

Why would Alan wear a bra? Surely he'd wear a manzier or bro!

my experience with line-drying is mostly in the tropics, where the sun is extremely harsh...

You haven't lived till you "Picked" clothes off the line while frozen. Stiff as a board.

Hands freezing as I remember...

Upstate NY.

You need one or two of those folding wooden drying racks to use indoors when the weather is not right outdoors.

Best to avoid direct sunlight on the synthetics, if possible.

... and you can collect the guano from your line-dried clothes to add to the garden.

I grew up line-drying and line-dried up to my mid-20s, and it's funny, I NEVER remember a bird pooping on the line or on the clothes. They just don't, I don't know why. Hell I had a bird poop on ME on my way to work, right on my head - plop! Had to wash my hair when I got to work. But for some reason they don't poop on lines/clothes.

We line dried all along during the Spring, Fall, and Summer, but mom had a nice drier for cold weather and times when things needed to get done quickly.

I prefer line dried sheets ... what a wonderful smell.

The main reason line drying is so unpopular is that having your underwear exposed for all to see is embarrassing, especially if it has holes, stains or a sexy design.

For some strange reason, it has never occurred to me to walk up to a line of drying clothes to closely inspect them.

Me, neither. But it seems some people do. At least, I've had my underwear stolen off the line many a time. The first time, I was about 7 years old.

Women get subjected to creepy in a fashion that men never experience unless they're called in to do a job in a state prison and the inmates get the idea they're nervous :-)

Birds don't like getting their feet wet, they don't like getting them tangled in threads, and they don't like being at pounce level for a cat with lots of cover for a cat to sneak up on them. Clothlines without clothes on them are much more attractive to birds.
Synthetics have problems with uv attack by sunlight, though.

As long as you don't put the lines up under a tree you should be fine. The odds of drying clothes being hit are about the same as getting hit in the head while walking around. It hapens, but not very often at all.

In the winter time in cold climates, especially if you heat with wood, clothes dry very quickly indoors. We have a couple of nice wooden racks for drying. Free humidifying!

Speaking of winter time, here in Central NH, we have 10 inches of fresh snow on the ground, it's 20F, and the winds are picking up. A beautiful starry night, though.

Yes. I use something similar toTHIS in inclement weather (rain, fricken freezin' cold, etc). I've never thought about the whole privacy issue as "practical" mentioned because there's no one around where I live to see it! This would be a way of getting around that, though.


Consider: Maytag and Whirlpool must just love how HomeOwner Associations [HOAs] make it illegal to use a backyard clothesline.

Maytag and Whirlpool are now one and the same -- Whirlpool bought out Maytag about 6-9 months ago.

Not putting on the tinfoil hat (yet...), but this story on http://globalsecurity.org just jumped out at me after your posts on the NPK issues over the last few months. On a page at this site about the recent Israeli airstrike on Syria:


near the very botton of the page just above the Google satellite photo of a harbor was this sentence:

Syria’s main ports are located at Baniyas, Jablah, Latakia, and Tartus. Tartus and Latakia each service approximately 2,800 vessels per year, with 1.5 million tons of goods loaded and 6.9 million tons of goods unloaded as of 2005. Latakia handled primarily general cargo and Tartus, both general cargo and phosphates. Baniyas primarily served the oil industry.

Following links elsewhere on the same page led to:




Note on this map, just over the Syrian border in western Iraq, the marker for a potash mine with a rail line leading away from toward (Bagdad?)

Is this going to become another excuse for an endless U.S. involvement in Iraq????

Hello TDI,

Yep, I participated in a LATOC forum thread on this Syrian event awhile back using the same links. I don't think most people really know what transpired--seems all hushed up now--very confusing. I don't know what to think myself on this issue.

Try GoogleNews on Saudi Arabia + phosphorus: China just agreed to help build one of the world's largest beneficiation plants in KSA. Betcha the King wants both P & U as they really have no other choice:

While a growing number of countries have announced their civilian nuclear energy ambitions over the past twelve months, no other country is likely to have more of a psychological impact on the nuclear energy picture than Saudi Arabia. We believe the Kingdom’s natural gas and water problems will lead them to nuclear, sooner rather than later, probably as early as this year...

However, Saudi Arabia has significant phosphate deposits, which some believe could be exploited. The country’s two largest deposits reportedly measure about 750 million metric tons, averaging between 19 and 21 percent P2O5.While extraction of uranium from phosphates can be an expensive proposition, the phosphates could provide a ready supply of uranium for the country’s nuclear desalination plants. Then, it would be a matter of uranium enrichment, of which both the Russians and the French would be scrambling to provide the Kingdom.
Eventually, everybody will have THE BOMB. Sure hope we are smart enough to somehow prevent the full-on nuclear ICBM gift exchange. Jay Hanson, and some other real bright people, think the launch is inevitable. =(

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

George Orwell wrote an essay about nuclear weapons back when they had just burst upon the scene: He argued that if they were very complicated to manufacture they would enable the great powers to terrorize the small nations, but if they were simpler to make they would level the battlefield so to speak, since more countries would be able to afford them. I think it makes sense, noticing how the north koreans aren't being bullied anymore now that they have demonstrated their capability to make the bomb. Best hopes for Iranian nuclear weapons!

And though I have no doubt exceptions can be brought forward, I think the following rule would be found generally true: that ages in which the dominant weapon is expensive or difficult to make will tend to be ages of despotism, whereas when the dominant weapon is cheap and simple, the common people have a chance. Thus, for example, thanks, battleships and bombing planes are inherently tyrannical weapons, while rifles, muskets, long-bows and hand-grenades are inherently democratic weapons. A complex weapon makes the strong stronger, while a simple weapon--so long as there is no answer to it--gives claws to the weak.

You and the Atomic Bomb, George Orwell 1945

What will a future grocery store look like? I would imagine it to be mostly sacks of milled grains, sugar, spices & coffee, and recyclable jars of food.

What you are describing sounds a lot like the typical food co-op in the US today, minus the super-expensive gourmet organic packaged goods, cosmetics, and nutriceuticals for the overly fastidious.

I would go so far as to speculate that as the chain hypermarkets join T. Rex in the realm of extinction, small local food co-ops probably will be the wave of the future. The tipping point will come when the emphasis shifts from: a) catering to fastidious people willing to spend a premium for foods not available at the supermarket; to b)catering to hungry people who can no longer afford to buy even the cheap junk available at the supermarket.

What I envision is a return to the neighborhood store. In this incarnation, while some might be "Mom & Pop" enterprises, others probably will be set up as a co-op. They will probably get their start as buying clubs, with neighbors banding together to buy essentials in bulk at wholesale prices and then break the goods up into smaller units for each household. In this way, one person with a van or truck can obtain most of the non-perishable food for most of the people in a neighborhood in a single trip every few weeks or so.

At a certain point, a garage permanently emptied of a permanently unfueled automobile will be converted into a neighborhood store, with shelving and counters cobbled together to store and display the non-perishables on display. (I know that this would presently be illegal almost anywhere that has zoning at present. I am assuming that by the time this happens, zoning will be enforced only minimally, if at all.) What I have just described would be considered a pretty nice retail facility in some parts of the world.

Every village and town will also have its market day. Farmers/tailgate markets will proliferate and evolve to the point where they will become the core focus of market day for every settlement. This is where most people will get whatever fresh produce that they can't grow themselves; it is also where people that grow a surplus can sell or trade theirs. This is also where the people making homemade jellies and jams, or soaps, or whatever, can also market their stuff. Market day will thus ultimately meld tailgate markets with flea markets, and become the place where much local commerce occurs. (There are, of course, many places in the world where one can see something like this in operation today. In fact, it once was the common pattern in much of the US as well.)

Nowadays this local food system (really a hybrid of local and out-of-region) has collapsed. Oh, sure, there are specialized producers and the 2nd Street market, but this is really just a specialty trade. A robust city-wide system like I've diagrammed does not exist anymore.

It would be tough to reproduce this, too, as a local system could never compete against the economics of scale arising from mass production, centralized purchasing and marketing, and low-cost high volume sales, all operating at a national or multi-state scale.

So being a localvore is a tough deal, as one could never purchase a full range of foods that are locally produced. I suspect this is one of those European concepts that don't cross the pond too well.

Jeffery at a blog called Daytonology analyzed the historic food supply system in Dayton, Ohio. Jeffery wrote this article as a response to a post about turning the Fairgrounds in Dayton into a horse transportation hub ala the French model discussed in the Drumbeat several days ago. This post is an example of how the Oil Drum generates discussion albeit in an indirect manner. I do not think Jeffery gets Peak Oil yet, but his analysis allows for these systems to be put back in place in Dayton, Ohio.

When I was growing up in the 50s every small farming community in N Louisiana had a mill for grinding corn meal and in our community (150-200 farmers) we had a 'cannery' where most would take their left over veggies for canning for the winter. The mill would charge a small percentage of the corn meal, same as the cannery. This is much more efficient than each farm having a mill and each farm family hot packing lots of veggies. We also had a local cane mill where sugar cane was ground and rendered 'pure ribbon cane syrup'...This was wonderful stuff and isnt available anymore in pure form...although, it is advertised as such.

We almost never ate 'light bread'...our name for store bought bread. Instead we ate bisquits, rolls and corn bread and occasionally baked loaf bread but it was not common nor well liked. During the holidays many types of breads, cakes and cookies would be baked. My grandmother would make a minimum of 20 fruit cakes, each weighing 12-15 lbs and loaded with the pecans from our trees, and many were shipped to her sons and grandsons overseas in 'the service' (of their country). We ate lots of well cooked and seasoned veggies, chicken, ham, but rarely beef. We had our own Gurnsey milk cows and churned our own butter and had great buttermilk and 'fresh' milk. We slaughtered our own hogs and had a large smokehouse with lots of pork hanging. We ground our own sausage and ate fish and fowl from the fields and lakes... especially good were the quail. I didnt know what hamburger meat was and I seldom eat it now. I do not like the odor of any grade of hamburger meat when it is cooking...it stinks.
We were not fat because we worked our butts off six days a week.
Imo, returning to this life will not be easy because much knowledge has been lost. Reading about how to do it is not the same as doing it...and all the little tricks and short cuts are not in the 'how to' books.
Just think, all the wonders of good food, fresh air, hard work, and naturally healthy people have been traded for our consumer society of junk food and fat people taking tons of pills.

Hi River,

Thanks, this is really interesting. I was thinking along these lines - that there has to be greater efficiency in even (relatively) small canning and mill operations than in each homestead doing the same.

Do you know what the energy/fuel source was?

(Do you happen to know offhand if this has been documented somewhere?)

Cheese will be priced like fine wine or liquor, but hopefully your prized, vine-ripened, mouth-watering beefsteak tomatoes might be traded for a decent slice.

Actually, cheese isn't that hard to make on a small scale. As the family dairy cow becomes a more familiar sight once again, home cheesemaking will also become more common.

The butcher shop would let you pick the live birdfowl, then they would prepare it for your trip home. Alternatively, you could also just buy the bird, tie it to your bicycle, then complete the operation at home. A couple of cows will be slaughtered/day, then immediately sold--no refrigeration and petro-packaging.

Each settlement of every size will need its own butcher. Each used to have one, but there are very few butcher shops left any more. The guys working in the meat department at the store often are not real butchers at all - they could more correctly be described as meat packers. For people looking for an opportunity in the "P" category of the westexas "ELP" plan, here is a good one.

I suspect that we will eventually get to the point where beef cattle are slaughtered just for major holidays. In medieval times, it was only before the feast days that any of the common folk might buy anything more than perhaps a little salted pork or a fresh chicken. Beef is going to become just too expensive to be affordable for anyone except on special occasions, if ever.

When times get hard enough and zoning enforcement has gone by the wayside, I suspect that just about everyone living in a detached or semi-detached house will be keeping chickens. Thus, it will only be the apartment dwellers that will have to buy a bird.

The meat locker business continues in rural Iowa. I'd never thought much about it, but we have a new one here as of just ten years ago and there is one in Ruthven twelve miles away. I've never participated in hauling an animal anywhere else, but now that you mention this I am going to look around a bit.

Dunno about the rest of the planet, but here that butcher role is an easy fill - we'll have lots of bored, broke meat packers looking for a new line of work the way those corn prices are going.

As a kid in late 40's Birmingham, Ala. I remember the trucks. One of them was the chicken truck. My mother waited outside at the time it came by and flagged them down. She picked out her chicken and paid for it. The driver then rung the neck of the chicken and threw it into my mother's yard and drove on. Like a chicken with it's head cut off--yeah, I know what that means.

There are two types of people in the world: those that have actually seen a chicken running around with its head cut off, and those that have not. I am fortunate to count myself in the first category. ;-)

I believe I have actually cut one off, but there were enough chickens slaughtered when I was a kid I don't remember for sure now. My dad would just grab their heads with his hands and twist them off. I'm quite sure I never did that.

Or, if we're as lucky as the Russians after the SU collapse, we might go the store and find only salt on the shelves...

Or, if we're as lucky as the Russians after the SU collapse...,

After reading Dimetri O. (?last name)about it, the Russians were lucky in the fact that their "Official" system of distribution never worked.

People were Conditioned to have their own gardens if they wanted fresh vegetables etc. So after the fall, the state store didn't have any, which was not news to them...

I read that since state owned the apartment buildings, everyone just stayed where they were. Who's the landlord? The state. No one foreclosed so to speak.

Can someone please explain to me why almost NOBODY ever advocates simply using less energy and comsuming less? Is it because the economy would suffer? Isn't that already happening, and isn't it clear that what we've been doing is tanamount to a train wreck over a cliff? Awareness about environmental issues certainly seems to be way up, but almost everyone still seems to be in turbo-consumer mode. Just buy new products that are more eco-friendly. Advantages of using less and consuming less, and living in more walkable communities:

* Greater potential for renewables... if we halved our energy usage, renewables would be twice as able to fulfill our needs
* More time to adapt to the realities we are about to face
* Healthier communities where people can actually walk - and a reduction in the obesity that is a no-brainer in our car-crazy country
* less stress on our environments and ourselves
* Cleaner air

As Kunstler says, almost all of the energy that could be much better spent is wasted on ideas on how to keep the cars running. I find this incredibly frustrating. I look forward to the day when America finally wakes up and realizes that desiging everything and anything around cars was retarded. Maybe then I can bicycle to work without my wife being terrified of me getting hit by a 3,000 lb. hunk of steel comandeered by a drunk, or a clueless teenager too busy sending text messages to notice the little cyclist on the road. Instead of "land of the free", maybe we should be the "land of the car", or "land of the free*" *car required. Of course, by the time the streets aren't completely overrun with cars, the economy will probably be so irrepairable that I may not have a job. America blew it. Although I make an earnest attempt at living responsibly, I can't say we don't deserve what will be coming if we don't change gears ASAP. Those who are just praying for salvation - which is more than the vast majority are doing (nothing at all), are going to be shocked at the way things are going to transpire.

I'm fully aware of all of the other problems it would cause that would certainly effect me, but on some levels I would be incredibly satisfied to see gas at $10/gallon here. I'd hear everyone else moaning like someone just abducted their firstborn, and I'd hop on my bike and be on my merry way.

Some could be on a competing payroll. Others are probably just mentally challenged.


Because advocating using less energy and consuming less would sound the death-knell for the capitalist, free market, system as we know and love it.

The current socio/economic paradigm is based on the illusion that one can have infinite growth on a planet with finite resources. So we'll continue down our merry path to the edge, and drop off, in my opinion. Unless we grab the system by the scruff of the neck and change it, however that is far easier said than done.

I believe we can glimpse the outline of a possible future society emerging now, as we speak. I think the ruling-class will attempt to retreat once more behind their walls and protect their lifestyles and priviliges by force of arms for as long as is humanly possible. As climate change becomes more obvious and the other consequences of our rape of mother earth, clear to anyone who isn't dear, dumb, and blind; the environmental movement will become increasingly large, radicalized, and militant. They will question the fundamental assumptions and tennets of capitalism and the way we do business. This will be perceived as "homegrown terrorism" and dealt with harshly and without mercy. This could, of course, begin a cycle of increasing conflict and violence, that could lead anywhere.

But make no mistake, the State is gearing up for conflict, both at home and abroad, and the apparatus of oppression is being prepared.

writerman -

It all dovetails very nicely with the War on Terror, which already is taking on a more and more domestic tone. There are already members of Congress who would just love to be able to pass legislation making public opposition to government policy an act of domestic terrorism and the perpetrators of such to be classfied as terrorists. As 'terrorists' such people would be subject indefinite detention without trial and would no longer entitled to constitutional protections regarding freedom of speech, due process, and cruel and unusual punishment.

And neither do I think these new detention camps being built are mainly for illegal immigrants. Ask not for whom the detention camps are intended; they are intended for thee.

It is utterly impossible to maintain liberty in a society that is in the midst of severe and prolonged economic and societal chaos.

Good point Joule.

The US government knows it is possibly facing a chaotic situation and they are prepared to put people in camps.

Obviously, for a system without foresight, plundering and detention camps are the logical outcome of the consolidation of state power under corporate leadership. That's where we seem to be heading.

It will take an unusual set of circumstances to move more productively toward, say, a future of urban gardens and low per capita energy consumption.

I think we're all on a list for just posting on here, and the thing that scares TPTB the most is the questioning of Capitalism. That and talk about gearing back, scares them to death. Hence, the most mild-mannered, Amish-ish, "Oat Willie" type on here could well be considered the most dangerous.

And of course the laws have already been decreed that any Empire subject can be declared a terrorist at any time for any reason.

Anyone posting on here should know this.

"You most certainly should have known" - Rondo Talbot

I think those top level federal plans are about as useful as our own personal gyrations as we try to get ready for this rogue wave that is coming at us.

How will martial law be enforced? Mercenaries want pay and dollars won't count. Soldiers? I think TPTB are scared poopless over those 500k troops of ours that have been repeatedly drug through the muck in Iraq. Those guys are better as martyrs when they get overrun than they are as veterans back home. When they get back the odds of any Republican getting elected drop dramatically, and in the event of any martial law god help the poor bastards who have to enforce it if they're facing a few guys who did some time in Ramadi, 'cause they know all about causing trouble on the sly.

How is this going to be paid for? Tax increases? In dollars? Who gets taxed? Those antitax Republicans? If so, which ones get sliced? The ones who are failing, or the ones who might survive, assuming they don't get taxed to death?

Martial law will be executed just as well as anything else the Bush administration has done. They'll make a show of it for a little while, then I think Mr. Totoneila Sir has the crystal ball - disintegration into survivable regional units, with the southern tier of the country given over to climate troubles and a sepratist civil war involving the Hispanic population.

Fleam, I agree. I am more concerned about the young people than people my age. I have had a good life and have some good memories that cannot be taken away. I dont know what sort of life is in store for the young of today but it doesnt look good. I am not afraid of those that would try to put me in prison for saying what I believe...But, I am not going to prison for using my 'freedom of speach'.

You know the old saying...If they come for me there will be three people missing...Me and the two they send for me.

I have to post this again, it's fits in so well talking about the Economy crashing, and bills before congress, etc.

Congressman: Stock Market Will Eventually Collapse
Ron Paul says martial law provisions in place to deal with economic discord


...Ron Paul explained that recent attempts to pump liquidity into the markets are only a temporary fix and that the long-term effects of doing so spell disaster for the economy.

"The dollar is plunging no matter what you read and hear about and no matter how hard they work to keep the bubble going the only way they can do that is creating more money....causing the dollar to go down even faster, the market seems to be reassured - there's a contrivance to try to hold this together....but it won't last, eventually it's going to collapse," said Paul.

The Texas Congressman cited the repeal of the Insurrection Act as opening the door to a declaration of national emergency and martial law which could be instituted for any number of reasons, including civil disobedience in the event of an economic downturn and a run on the banks.

"If in 6 months or a year there is total chaos who knows what they might try to do," said Paul.

The presidential candidate also slammed the abolition of Habeas Corpus as a "very dangerous sign" that plans were being laid for martial law.

"Why would they change them (the laws) if they didn't plan to use them,"
concluded Paul.


Again I say, why indeed.

Hear hear!


Life without cars.

This may be of interest

Who's cashing in on the ABCP market

What we also learned yesterday, however, is that a private underground market in ABCP paper is alive and kicking. Westaim Corp. of Calgary has agreed to sell 50% of its holdings in ABCP units. Originally valued at $17-million, the assets were written down to $14-million earlier, and now Westaim is selling half its ABCP portfolio for $6-million, off a book value of $7-million. The Westaim sale implies a writedown of up to 30%, which doesn't sound like AAA-rated material.

Just because they're not worth face value doesn't make them worthless. Picking through housing trying to figure out who is naughty and who is nice would be miserable, but if there is ABCP that is traceable back to an entity with some real world value then its definitely worth holding - they may be able to repay, and if not and the debt is senior then the new owner is first in line for liquidation ... or acquisition.

I've been drug through a couple of publicly held company bankruptcies - no expertise in the area, but I did pick up bits and pieces of knowledge here and there. If things are moving they're moving because they've been thoroughly gone through and there is some remaining value.

A 30% write down and someone is quite put out. A year from now we'll have people looking back fondly at the times when ABCP sold for 70% of face value.

What do you do if the stuff is too stiff to use as toilet paper and you don't have a wood burning stove to feed?

The main issue isn't the price on the paper, but the fact these transactions are taking place in private rather than in public, as they should indeed be. While they may have traded at a 30% loss in private, the losses may very well have been much higher if they had been marked to market. Even after this disclosure no one is any better informed as the the market value of this paper than they were before.


I think that's the whole point. That no one, or as few people as possible, should be informed of the scale of the loses. If they were informed of the true scale without "due preparation" the resultant shock would/might/could be on such a scale that the market would would probably fall like a stone, and along with the dollar, resulting in a world-wide Greater Depression the like of which virtually no one can comprehend.

What we're seeing is a sort of conspiracy to delay for as long as possible "The Day of Reckoning" which may not be pleasant. Paradoxically the deliberate delaying tactic is undermining the very confidence it's trying to shore up. What appears to be happening is that the financial system is in deep trouble, so deep people are afraid to look over the edge for fear of what they might see. So it's far better to put things off and push them away out of sight, like bad debts. And here again we're seeing the much the same mechanism at work which led us into the mess in the first place.

What's rather disconcerting is that we may be on the edge of something very nasty indeed, historic nasty. The worst financial crisis ever with umimaginable consequences, if that happens, and we're unlucky; or maybe things are now so bad that we're going to need a combination of incredible luck and fantastic leadership to avert a crash/collapse; then Peak Oil and Climate Change, could be the least of our worries! On the other hand we could decide to attack Iran, usher in the Rapture, then we'd all have other things to think about!

E-L-P and have an agreed local currency available?

fantastic leadership to avert a crash/collapse

Wrong squad in game ATM.


your best comment ever Alan


My gut tells me you are right. It's like that wave in "The Perfect Storm". That was a random wave at sea.

When a wave hits a beach, because the ocean bottom is rising up to the beach, the bottom of the wave is going slower than the top, at some point it cannot carry itself anymore, and it crests and crashes.

The hight of the wave is the volume of money in our case and the bottom of the wave is the "Real" economy. The $561 trillion of notational value is the hight of the wave, the average person(at the bottom) are going to get ground against the bottom.

In our analogy, the rising sea floor to the beach is the declining physical resources. Things like Nickel, Oil, Water, and so on.

The wave will be like a tsunami and will wash way ashore.

just a guess.

That sounds like a pretty good analogy.

That no one, or as few people as possible, should be informed of the scale of the loses. If they were informed of the true scale without "due preparation" the resultant shock would/might/could be on such a scale that the market would would probably fall like a stone, and along with the dollar, resulting in a world-wide Greater Depression the like of which virtually no one can comprehend.

And you can lay a good bet that those in the know are insulating themselves as much as they can get away with without detection. One of the reasons why gold has moved up? If so, they may have a hard time getting any nurishment out of the metal.

Richard Wakefield

I think people aren't getting their heads around what is coming, even if they see it laid out for them. I went through a couple of months of situational depression after finding this place and truly grasping the magnitude of the problem. I've been trying to get the girlfriend to deal with some of her stuff and she just can't get her head around this whole "end of the oil age" business - she takes in a little bit each time we discuss it, then she shakes her head like a kitten with a bit of scotch tape on its ear, and goes off to do something fun.

Peak Oil is to humans as the Manson asteroid was to dinosaurs. The Manson event was nine million years before the strike in the Yucatan that finished the dinosaurs and it was a close second to the Chicxulub event, immediately killing off about 50% of all animal life in North America and creating a nuclear winter style event.

Manson, Iowa asteroid regional effects

Cool gotta check that out, thanks


All of what you say may be true, but remains an unproven assertion until these “assets” are marked to market. If they come onto the market with asks of 11 cents and bids of 5 cents, as they did for the one of the Bear Stearns funds, then the evidence would support the assertion. As it stands, these funds are marked to model so we can’t know until that changes. We can guess, and so far none the indications are positive, but we still don’t really know.

As for the markets and the USD falling like a stone, this is far more widespread than simply the U.S. or even the Anglo-origin countries, as the losses in Norway suggest. I’d be inclined to think in any cataclysmic event the USD would shoot up in value as money makes a flight to safety, meaning U.S. Treasuries more than likely. The Euro could come under great pressure and even fall apart. Rather Euro-doomerish I know, but not entirely out of the question. The demise of the Euro doesn’t necessarily mean the demise of the EU, by the way, even though that’s possible as well. There are many Europeans that would very much welcome a return to their national currencies. It’s worth noting the Euro is less than ten years old and has never been truly tested during troubling times.

If this is even half as bad as many are predicting, we may just be waiting for the Xmas bonus season to conclude before the various and sundry shoes drop. Once those countless millions have cleared and been transferred into numbered accounts then maybe that will be the catalyst for the big bust up. I don’t think the big boyz are afraid of looking over the edge as much as they are afraid of getting their timing wrong. As for the rest of us, I don’t think we’re afraid either, just utterly in the dark. Hedge funds and derivatives and marked to market aren’t really things we’ve been prepared to understand. The entire economic and finance lexicon is miles away from our daily experience and understanding. More importantly, should economics and finance be this obfuscated?

Of course all this may be for the good. Clearly the current economic system, as created by the Anglo-origin countries and then exported world wide, has many characteristics rendering it less than optimal for dealing with issues such as Peak Oil and Global Warming. The inherently exploitative nature of predatory capitalism (as I feel it ought to be called) with its need to permanently expand consumption in order to survive seems to run smack dab into the wall of finite resources and rapidly changing habitats. I don’t think there’s a way under or over or around or through that wall for predatory capitalism either.

Re: Leanan's link

Saudi Arabia sits tight ahead of OPEC meet

OPEC has the exact same problem I do.

I am retired and living off my savings. Their situation is worse. There are no global "social security" systems in place.

Once they have blown their resources, that's it. They are not in a position to farm. They have their inheritance from God - they must administer it wisely or do without it later.

They face the same endless row of whining heads that any game show, lottery winner, or inheritor faces - and all these heads are trying to persuade them to part with their resources.

If I had an endless supply of resources, I would try to accommodate everybody. I want to think of myself as a nice guy. I think the King of Saudi Arabia is a nice guy. But there is a limit as to how nice I can be if my resources are constrained.

I would not be excited at all about the prospect of giving up my resources if I knew I was depleting the very lifeblood my family required for survival. I feel I owe it to my children to carefully husband the family jewels.

I am a bit concerned that if Saudi leads OPEC to "guarantee" ample oil - if they do not have it. This will only discourage research of alternative sources of energy.

We need oil as a chemical feedstock. Burning it for bulk energy seems such a waste.

This year 2010 is coming on us. The oil "discovery" graphs overlaid on our "production" graphs look scary to any engineer.

We have all seen how those in power mask bad news until it can't be contained anymore - as in our MBS Subprime lending mess.

Its gonna take time and motivation to ramp up support infrastructure. Artificially low energy prices remove both the incentive and the lead time to develop alternatives.

Look how the oil services sector is really taking a hit lately as rumors of Saudi talks of "more oil". Why spend money for something if someone else is gonna give it away?

If the Saudi know they have unlimited oil, I say a very big "Thank You" to King Saud. If they know their resources are finite, then they are just giving us oil junkies another "fix" at their expense. I would rather take my medicine now than live with the more drastic shortage when a world acclimated to unlimited oil hits the wall.

What I am trying to say is I want my pilot to land the plane on the runway, not make a dive landing even if the dive landing gets me on the ground 30 minutes sooner.

We need the money to flow to research and development of alternatives - not to the frivolous junk the marketers push on us today ( just watch American TV to get numerous examples of the junk ).


Closing Back In On All-time High

This is a chart of the most distant WTI futures contract. (For delivery in December of 2015)

Things might be a little quieter around here since oil pulled back but rest assured that in the halls of power things are very different.

Alan Greenspan, for instance, has made repeated references to distant oil futures in speeches and testimony. They guide policy more than spot prices do. See the following 2004 speech:


Elevated long-term oil futures prices, if sustained at current levels or higher, would no doubt alter the extent of, and manner in which, the world consumes oil. Much of the capital infrastructure of the United States and elsewhere was built in anticipation of lower real oil prices than currently prevail or are anticipated for the future. Unless oil prices fall back, some of the more oil-intensive parts of our capital stock would lose part of their competitive edge and presumably be displaced, as was the case following the price increases of the late 1970s.

I finally had a chance to peek at his recent book yesterday and read the chapter on energy which has the title: The Long Term Energy Squeeze It contains many references to the importance of distant oil futures.

Good reason to rent, from the Housing Bubble Blog. One big caveat, which we have discussed before. Unless the lender subordinates the mortgage to the lease, a renter has no rights in the event of a foreclosure. On the other hand, try to rent the place furnished, and be prepared to move on short notice. However, the way things are going, the lenders may want you to stay.

The Press Enterprise reports from California. “Unable or unwilling to sell their homes at declining prices, homeowners in Riverside and San Bernardino counties are converting them to rentals, glutting the market and causing rents to fall for the first time in years, according to Inland property managers. There are so many Inland homes for sale, that even if no more come on the market, it will take more than two years to sell the houses available, according to the California Association of Realtors.”

“John Denver, owner of Perris-based John Denver Realty, said most will take a financial loss as landlords, because the monthly mortgage payments are greater than the rent they can get. Bill Santoro, owner of a rental management company with properties throughout most of Riverside County, said the monthly shortfall averages $500. Denver said he is seeing some landlords taking monthly losses of as much as $1,000.”

“‘It is a good time to be a renter and a lousy time to become a landlord,’ said Denver.”

“Denver said today a $300,000 house purchased with a 7 percent down payment would likely require a monthly mortgage payment of $2,500. The same house, he said, can be rented for $1,300 a month, ‘and the owner has to do the repairs.’”

Hi Leanan, apologies for interjecting with this new thread. I was interviewed last night on Russia, Putin and my book The Oil and the Glory by Bob Brinker on Money Talk, and I'm just posting the link in case anyone is interested. Apologies again and best, Steve



Hi Steve,

I happened to catch just a bit - glad to see you're getting out there.

I heard your answer to a caller who talked about how oil is plentiful - it's made from microbes and there are a lot of them, it's a naturally renewable resources - or words to that effect. (I forget, now, who he mentioned as being the culprit keeping us from all that oil, but anyway...)

I liked that you talked about how the new discoveries are harder to reach.

I also thought I'd give another two cents: my view is that the different versions of "abiotic" oil need to be addressed directly.

It's astonishing how many people grab at that belief (even otherwise well-educated people). My take on the call is that your answer went over the head of the caller, and he was left with his ever-renewing, "creamy-nougat-center" picture intact.

My suggestion would be to think about a two- or possibly three- sentence explanation you can have ready. My guess is you'll be using it.

That's a good idea Aniya. I actually did not anticipate that question but now will. Best Steve

Congrats on getting onto MMMMMMMMMMMMoneytalk!

I've always liked that show, Brinker seems to know we're in for hard times.


I too caught snippets of your radio appearance including that end piece with Henry the Pharmacist assuring all that oil is biotic and constantly refilling the reservoirs.

I think I heard Bob Brinker say the words "past Hubbert's Peak" when describing Mexico. Was I hearing things?

The East Texas oil field (the one that won WW II 65 years ago) is still producing 1 million b/day. Unfortunately it is now 99% WATER.


Brinker absolutely mentioned the Peak. My impression was that Brinker was pretty much switched on -- a bit over the top, I think on Chavez, who he seemed to buy into as an important and thus worrying world figure, but otherwise reasonable in the face of opinions he did not share.

Leaving the Pharmacist aside, Brinker hotly pursued the angle that Putin might possibly end up as the power broker between the West and Iran. I'm among those who think that Putin has positioned himself as the essential man on Iran so that, if a solution possibly presents itself, he is placed to walk away with the winner's torch. Of course, today's announcement that there may have been no nuclear program since 2003 may put the kabosh on that.


Hi (again) Steve and fleam,

re: Brinker and peak. I don't know...the times I've heard him, I'm left w. the impression he may say the word "peak", he interviews Charles Maxwell, and yet...I also have the impression he does not "believe in"/(really get?) any fundamental intersection between oil/NG and the economy, in the sense that a decreasing supply equates to a necessarily shrinking economy, (barring massive whatever - conversion/conservation/political+social change/etc, the usual caveat...).

why does anyone take anything Lou Dobbs says seriously

during the height of the dot.com madness he quit his CNN job to take the role as CEO of Space.com because "everyone is interested in space"

This is why satire is no longer funny...

i hear you - that's so true

i find it worst with commercials... i just watch some of them and really believe if i'd seen it 10-15 years ago i would have assumed it was a work of satire

There was more to it than that. The real reason Dobbs left CNN was that he didn't get along with Rick Kaplan, the president of CNN. Their conflict appears to have been at least partly political. Kaplan was a friend and supporter of Clinton, while Dobbs was a "lifelong Republican" at the time. They clashed repeatedly, especially over the coverage of Clinton. That led to Dobbs quitting. He returned when Kaplan left.

interesting - fair enough

Funny it took three search attempts to find this, after NPR had the story on tonight, repeating it two or three times..


"For the second day in a row, the operator of the region's power grid has declared a power watch for the state of Maine."

"ISO New England said Sunday that system conditions in Maine have resulted in a capacity deficiency, creating a need for Mainers to conserve electricity through Sunday night."

Beyond the seasonal firing up of Space Heaters, Hair Dryers and Electric Ovens, was the revelation that a supply hiccup in NG was a big part of the bottleneck.. (so saith NPR).. and it ain't even winter, yet!

Spent the day making the Fan/Filter Unit for one of my Solar Hot Air Collectors.. trying to keep the feelings of impotence at bay!


I know that there is the strange notion that Winter begins at the Winter Solstice on 22 December, but the climate people think otherwise. It's already the Winter of 2008. Ask all those folks in the northern part of the U.S. that were just buried in snow. Didn't you go out and enjoy New Year's Eve on 30 November? Sorry, looks like you missed all the fun. Fun with Science, that is.

E. Swanson

Yeah.. I know.
I personally feel it's 'Early Winter' as soon as Halloween is over, and I'm happy to be getting some good winter days alternating with some good fall days for a little while there.


Many traditional cultures counted their seasons from the cross-quarter days. Thus, winter was from Halloween to Groundhog Day; spring was Groundhog day to May day; summer was May Day to Aug 1st (with the summer solstice being "midsummer day"); and Aug 1st to Halloween was autumn.

This system makes a good deal of sense to me, and seems to actually fit what is happening on the ground better, at least in my part of the country.

Thanks for the information.

I found some interesting information from a Maine 2004 conference that is may be related to Maine's problems:

Report about Maine conference

Matt Simmons' Presentation

U.S. Says Iran Ended Atomic Arms Work

A new assessment by American intelligence agencies, which concludes that Iran’s weapons program is on hold, contradicts a report two years ago that Tehran was working inexorably toward building a bomb.

The conclusions of the new assessment are likely to reshape the final year of the Bush administration, which has made halting Iran’s nuclear program a cornerstone of its foreign policy.

This big. Have high oil prices brought the giant to heel?

In my view, no.

If the fear of a nuclear Iran is no longer a plausible justification to attack Iran, then the Bush regime will merely create another one.

A Tonkin Gulf type of incident in the Persian Gulf would do just fine. And another 9/11-scale domestic terrorist attack would do even better. The latter would also provide the added benefit of allowing the Bush regime to declare a permanent national state of emergency and enable the final transformation of American citizens into subjects of the State.

Then don't forget the remote but real possibility of Israel attacking Iran and then the US 'reluctantly' coming to the aid of poor Israel after Iran counterattacks.

Where there's a will, there's usually a way.

U.S. Says Iran Ended Atomic Arms Work

It looks like one side is making sure that the Current Admin doesn't have any excuses for pursuing that course of action.

Check says Gen. Fallon.

Bush is a lame duck and along with him the Republicans, the neocons, and the disloyal Christian Right - they are going to get taken out behind the woodshed in the 2008 election ... if we manage to have one.

I think the odds of a false flag operation leading to martial law here just went up with these findings on Iran, both to get the populace control stuff in place and to justify savaging the Iranian's infrastructure so we can collect their oil after the area starves out.

Sounds nuts, doesn't it? But the pieces are there, just awaiting assembly.

Every once in a while I have to read this passage, just to remember that it's real..

"As darkness settled over Europe on the evening of August 31, 1939, and a million and a half German troops began moving forward toward their final positions on the Polish border for the jump-off at dawn, all that remained for Hitler to do was to perpretrate some propaganda trickery to prepare the German people for the shock of aggressive war.

"The people were in need of the treatment which Hitler, abetted by Goebbels and Himmler, had become so expert in applying. I had been about in the streets of Berlin, talking with the ordinary people, and that morning noted in my diary: "Everybody against the war. People talking openly. How can a country go into a major war with a population so dead against it?" Despite all my experience in the Third Reich I asked such a naive question! Hitler knew the answer very well. Had he not the week before on his Bavarian mountaintop promised the generals that he would "give a propagandist reason for starting the war" and admonished them not to "mind whether it was plausible or not"? "The victor," he had told them, "will not be asked afterward whether he told the truth or not. In starting a waging a war it is not right that matters, but victory.

-W'm Shirer, Rise and Fall of the 3rd Reich (p593)


Hi Bob,

Thanks for sharing this, it is worth noting.

Just thought I'd share some of the more interesting parts of my day with my fellow TODer's...

I started my new job at John Deere Harvester Works in East Moline, IL today. Pay is good and benefits are good but they warn all of us new hires that the business is cyclical and hours can be cut real quick. But for now, the ethanol boom is "fueling" demand for harvesting equipment (according to our trainer). The general consensus amongst everyone in the room was that ethanol is the greatest thing ever. One of the senior employees in the room even said he almost got in a fist fight over an argument he had this weekend with a guy that said ethanol was pointless! =O

When asked why the guy thought that ethanol was pointless he said that ethanol gives worse mileage than regular gasoline. This apparently wasnt a good enough reason for my new co-worker and he was ready to pummel the guy for not "believing" in Ethanol-Almighty. I rolled my eyes and said "OMFG!" just loud enough for the guys at my table to hear me. Every one else simply agreed with him, of course, it would be wise since he has seniority and is built like a brick-$h!thouse, as my mother would say! =P

Anyways, the entire room was assured that as long as the ethanol boom was booming they would be working 60+ hours a week raking in the sweet cash that brings new big screen TV's and longer lasting marriages. I, on the other hand, looked at my fellow n00bs with a feeling of great despair.

From what I can see outside my door and what I read in the news/TOD, the ethanol boom is already busting. Alot of the corn around here didnt get harvested until a couple weeks ago, probably because the price of diesel is so high. At that time, diesel was around 3.50/gal. Some of these combines have 400gal tanks or larger! Hmm, now where'd them ethanol profits go? Check under the couch cushions...

So while I am going to exploit my new job to its fullest, I am going to continue my search for employment...

PS If I was to go back to college for a degree, what should I study? (Regarding sustainability and all that good stuff...)

Northern Tool (www.northerntool.com) sells home biodiesel processors and various fuel-handling stuff, even a metering pump in case you're fueling your neighborhood for profit or just want to keep track ....

As for a college degree, I'd go for chemistry. You can't go wrong with that, and it's fun. OK memorizing all those @#$%@#$%$ atomic orbitals isn't that fun, but knowing how everything works chemically is fascinating.

I was thinkin somewhere along those lines, chemistry/chemical engineering... how many years for a degree? Is there an A.A.S. for chemistry? I dont wanna be in school for 10 years, I'm already 24 and tried college once (Auto Tech, bleh).

Thanks for the info, fleam! =)

Auto tech is good - do you have a wind energy program there? That area is going like a rocket and it'll keep moving as long as we've got iron, copper, and a little bit of cement handy.

Dude, don't do an AS in Chemistry without knowing of a specific job you can get with it, unless you are doing it for love. Pure science degrees are worth sh*t below at least the Masters level. If you want to do two year, do a technician type degree.

Also, make sure you can stand the day to day working conditions for whatever you pick.

Don't overlook health care, if you can stand traditionally female work. Basic nursing skills and basic dental would be more useful in an energy poor world then say radiation oncology.

Never argue ethics with a person who's livelyhood depends on the subject matter.

That is a lesson on many levels about the future. A very early example of desperate selfjustification.

It takes on many forms.


Dual major,

Agricultural and Mechanical Engineering.
and taking Alternative Energy courses as all your electives.

Take some basic physics.

Being handy and able to make things with an engineering mind will help. And knowing how to grow food.

Doomsters take this dire warning by Indonesian scientists a step further and predict that by 2035, the Indonesian capital's airport will be flooded by sea water and rendered useless; and by 2080, the tide will be lapping at the steps of Jakarta's imposing Dutch-era Presidential palace which sits 10 km inland (about 6 miles).

According to Google Earth the airport is 21 ft above sea level. That's 10 times the highest IPCC rate in a third the time.

Where do they get their math to make these predictions?

Richard Wakefield


You haven't been here long have you?

The one thing that requires no math here is "dire predictions".

Now, if you make a positive prediction, you will have to have the math of Einstein and Euclid combined to back it up! :-)


Many scientists, including Hansen, think the IPCC rate is way too low. It was set before a lot of the newer research came in. It doesn't take into account things going "nonlinear" (massive ice sheet melting, etc.).

But in the case of Indonesia, the "doomster" predictions probably come from recent flooding that shut down their airport a few days ago.

The ocean is not as flat as a millpond. The airport will not be usable when the mean sea level has risen 20.75'

Tides, storms, and just ordinary waves routinely put water higher than mean sea level.

Best Hopes for Better Quality Analysis,


Then this is an interesting problem and contradiction for you people. The IPCC reports each time have consistently reduced their range of sea level rise, now at 7" to 23"/Cy.

I find it highly contradictory that I get lectured that the IPCC has the backing of all these scientists, is 90% certain, you can't argue with the IPCC. But in the same breath the IPCC is not correct on the dire predictions. You can't have it both ways. Either the IPCC is correct, or it's not. You can't just cherry pick what you want to believe of the IPCC and what you don't.

Because then I can just as easily claim that sea levels will NOT rise more than the IPCC minimum value, if not less.

How can my opinion of a small increase get trumped by these opinions of huge dire changes? Especially since the DATA SHOWS I'M RIGHT!

Is it because it's the fear factor, the State of Fear, that such dire predictions invoke in the public? Is there some political motivation that makes these outlandish predictions superior to the IPCC predictions?

What will these people say when the next IPCC report does not change or lowers their predictions?

Stop lecturing me on the authority of the IPCC if you yourselves reject their reports because it's not scary enough.

Richard Wakefield

The Center for Analysis of Straw Men is at it again.

The 90% plus certainty claim is a for a a generic and not a specific claim. IPCC does not claim 90% certainty for any specific prediction AFAIK.

I did not waste my time even reading the second half of your post.

Anyone wishing to waste some time is welcome to peruse Mr. Wakefield's statements and my rebuttals on the Nov. 30 Drumbeat.

PLEASE go back to the Creation Discussion Boards,


Actually, the latest report from IPCC says that they can't put a limit on sea level rise.

UN climate scientists said in a key report for policymakers on Saturday that they could no longer put an upper limit on the potential rise in sea levels over the next century.

Near the end of the article
Micro-wind turbines often increase CO2, says study

there is a statement -
"Carbon dioxide embodied in the manufacture of the turbines ranged widely. In the best case it was 180kg - equivalent to the amount emitted in a 45-mile car journey"

I dispute this statement. According to the laws of physics, in order for my car to emit this much carbon, it must be carrying it. Assuming that 100% of the fuel was converted to CO2, then I would need to carry 180Kg of fuel to travel 45 miles, and my car would be 180Kg lighter at the end of the journey.

Someone needs to try CREDIBLE reporting.

The Guardian Article has all the effervescence of a Hit Piece. (or at least the research that inspired it was..) Everybody is Don Quixote nowadays. I think it's an outgrowth of their denial, tilting at the inevitable!

I would love to hear what cost all the Carbon Emissions in the Analysis. I'm sure the cost of Material Transportation was considerable, but is not necessarily intrinsic to the technology, since Everything manufactured is likely to have specialized materials brought in from all over the world, since that is simply the setup at this point. You can build a perfectly functional 'mill from a wide variety of materials and designs, so I'm sure the carbon-costs are even more variable than they have yet found.

Of course their point about the poor return of setting up a Windmill in a Poor Wind location is well worth recognizing.. but that's not a 'problem with the technology'. You're not going to grow corn on a glacier, either!


no, it'd be 12/48 x 180kg - so only 45 kg which is what, 18 gallons, so it'd have to be getting less than 3mpg

i dunno - just messing with numbers

there is a statement -
"Carbon dioxide embodied in the manufacture of the turbines ranged widely. In the best case it was 180kg - equivalent to the amount emitted in a 45-mile car journey"

I dispute this statement. According to the laws of physics, in order for my car to emit this much carbon, it must be carrying it. Assuming that 100% of the fuel was converted to CO2, then I would need to carry 180Kg of fuel to travel 45 miles, and my car would be 180Kg lighter at the end of the journey.

Someone needs to try CREDIBLE reporting.

Not even close!! The CO2 is composed of C from your gasoline or diesel, and O from the air. Consider that Carbon has an atomic weight of 12 and the two Oxygens (from the air) have an atomic weight of 16 each.

This means that only about 27% of the mass of the emitted CO2 comes from your fuel tank; the rest of the mass literally "came out of thin air". Your car would only be about 49KG lighter (neglecting the attached Hydrogen atoms in the fuel) after producing 180 Kg of CO2.

[The relative mass of the fuel and air contributions for the emitted water vapor from reacting the Hydrogen in the fuel with O2 from the air are even more disproportionate, since you are combining one 16 mass O with two 1 mass H atoms.]

Still burning 49KG (approx 100 lbs) of gas or diesel to go 45 miles stretches credibility (unless you are driving a fully-loaded 18-wheeler or an Abrams tank!)

The CO2 is composed of C from your gasoline or diesel, and O from the air.

Quite right.

Just to expand on this a little, you get 20 pounds of CO2 per (US) gallon of gas, meaning their 180kg (400lbs) would require 20 (US) gallons of gas. That's about 450 miles of driving, not 45.

So something is deeply wrong with their numbers; it's possible it's just a typo, but an editor still should have caught it.