DrumBeat: December 23, 2007

The Fuel Fixers: How the scarcity of oil may be making our antibribery laws obsolete

The case raises a number of questions, including this one: in an era of scarce oil, can America afford to punish anyone who cuts corners to win deals for American firms? In 2003, when oil sold for less than $30 a barrel, it was possible to believe we could have our anticorruption statutes and our cheap gasoline. Four years later, with oil going for $95 a barrel, it’s not so clear. The British government, citing-national security concerns, has called off an investigation into bribery of influential Saudis. Delays in Giffen’s case suggest that some federal agencies may be more concerned with protecting secrets than with seeing the prosecution go forward. Much of the pretrial evidence has been sealed, but what is known is that Giffen’s lawyers have asked for sensitive documents that they contend will show official approval of their client’s activities.

Advent of the £1000 power bill is not so far away

MILLIONS OF households could be hit by 15% price hikes in their energy bills next year, which could lead to the return of average bills in excess of £1000, experts warn. British Gas and nPower have already announced price increases on their tracker tariffs, stoking fears that further price rises could be on the way from other suppliers in the new year.

Farm Today: Fuel law creates losers, winners

Here's a look at who wins and who loses from enactment of the mandate, and a few folks for whom the impact won't be known for a while...

Elect me and oil prices instantly drop, says Hillary Clinton in Iowa

Hillary Clinton predicted Saturday that just electing her President will cut the price of oil.

When the world hears her commitment at her inauguration about ending American dependence on foreign fuel, Clinton says, oil-pumping countries will lower prices to stifle America's incentive to develop alternative energy.

Drivers on road despite expense

Gary Schuster does not like the trend for gas prices.

"They're at a disagreeable level," the 54-year-old Dearborn, Mich., resident said this week as he spent more than $40 to fill up his Ford Explorer Sport.

But gas prices have not risen enough to get him to change his driving habits or consider a smaller vehicle, said Schuster, who works on computer and pool equipment.

Guyana: Electricity tariff hike may be imminent

An increase in electricity tariffs may be imminent but so far the power company has not raised the issue nor has Cabinet addressed it, Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon has said.

However, in the light of worldwide fuel price increases, Luncheon said Cabinet has recognised that the company would only achieve financial recovery if it raised tariffs, even with successful loss reduction activities and a reduction of operating and maintenance costs.

Saudi Arabia plans world's largest SWF

World's largest oil producer Saudi Arabia is set to overtake the $900 billion sovereign wealth fund (SWF) of Abu Dhabi by setting up the largest SWF in the world, according to a Financial Times report yesterday.

Iran: nuclear plant ready by March

Iran's first nuclear power plant will be operational within three months, providing electricity to Iran's national power grid by the summer, according to Iranian Energy Minister Parviz Fattah.

Nuclear waste could power Britain

A plan by the nuclear industry to build a £1bn fuel processing plant at Sellafield is being backed by the government's chief scientist. The plant would turn the UK's 60,000 tonnes of high-level nuclear waste into reactor fuel that will provide 60 per cent of this country's electricity until 2060, it is claimed.

The Green House as Classroom

In letting their home function as both a laboratory and a marketing device, Ms. Reiner and Mr. Basche, it turns out, are not unique. Green show houses, sponsored by magazines, nonprofit groups and developers, are appearing across the country, spreading a message about environmentally conscious building to designers, builders and home buyers, and helping to sell building products.

Plan on Airline Emissions Hints at U.S.-Europe Rift

European Union governments have scaled back a proposed law that would regulate emissions from any airline with takeoffs or landings in Europe. But on Thursday, the ministers still agreed within five years to adopt measures likely to intensify a battle with the United States over global environmental regulation.

Talking Heads Not Talking Climate

The League of Conservation Voters generated quite a bit of buzz on environmental blogs this week after it launched a new campaign pressing America’s most-watched political reporters to bring up global warming more often on all those influential Sunday talk shows. The group reviewed videotape of more than 120 interviews of presidential contenders by Chris Wallace, Tim Russert, George Stephanopoulos, Wolf Blitzer and Bob Schieffer this year.

In the 2,275 questions posed, the phrases “climate change” or “global warming” were used three times, and a total of 24 questions indirectly touched on climate or related issues, the group said.

Australia: Big Oil's highway robbery

PETROL companies have been accused of price gouging after the consumer watchdog issued a "please explain" over rising Christmas prices.

With average unleaded prices remaining above $1.40 a litre in Sydney yesterday, the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) has demanded justification from the bosses of oil giants Caltex, Shell, Mobil, BP, as well as supermarket empires Woolworths and Coles.

Australia: Petrol tax under fire

THE Federal Government has come under fresh fire over sky-high petrol prices as motorists hit the road for the Christmas break.

Nationals leader and Opposition transport spokesman Warren Truss said the Rudd Labor Government had deceived voters over petrol prices and called for the GST on fuel to be cut.

Strikes, fuel hike to disrupt holidays

AUSTRALIANS face holiday travel chaos, with refinery problems driving up petrol prices and possible industrial action restricting flights.

Nepal: Petro dealers walk out, say govt ‘indifferent’

The regular supply of petroleum products looks even more uncertain, as the Nepal Petroleum Dealers’ Association (NPDA), the umbrella organisation of petrol entrepreneurs, Sunday walked out of negotiations with the government to end the fuel crisis facing the country.

NPDA said that the protest was necessary because it did not see any signs of reaching a common ground in order to resume the supply of petroleum products even after holding four rounds of talks with the government.

Russia Signs Deal for Gas Pipeline Along Caspian Sea

Desperate to meet growing domestic and European demand, Russia signed a deal Thursday with the Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to build a natural gas pipeline along the Caspian Sea, a move that analysts said could strengthen Russia’s monopoly on energy exports from the region.

Indonesia: Rise of the clans

In addition to their own enterprises, the family has wealthy allies, including national politicians like Surya Paloh, a media magnate and national head of FKPPI, and Sulawesi-based ethnic Chinese businesspeople. Serving on the boards of Chinese-run businesses provides an additional source of wealth for the family.

With such resources at hand, during election campaigns, the Yasin Limpo family has found innovative ways to buy voters’ sympathy. For example, they have bought farmers’ products above market prices and provided cheap gasoline from fuel tankers they toured through the districts. The clan has also paid electricity bill collectors in past elections to promise voters that they will be excused from paying their electricity bills for six months in subdistricts where their candidates win a majority.

Asian LPG gains on winter demand and stockpile drop

Asian liquefied petroleum gas rose on lower stockpiles as demand for winter heating fuel gained. Propane for delivery to Japan added 1.1% to $900 a metric tonnes, including cost and freight. Butane climbed 0.6% to $910 a tonne.

Consumer inventories, which aren’t included in the official wholesale data, may be “much lower than normal” as consumers delayed purchases, said Ken Otto, senior vice president at industry consultant Purvin & Gertz Inc. “If winter weather turns out to be colder than expected, this could add a lot of strength to the market.”

Fuel assistance is far from solving the problem in Lakes Region

High fuel costs, a lack of federal funding and a particularly harsh start to the winter have struggling families applying and qualifying for home heating fuel assistance — only to be told the money is not there to help fill their tanks.

$3 gas pinches holiday wallets

With only a few days left until Christmas, many were busy making holiday meals and gift and travel preparations. But for Mrs. Kolde, Christmas will be an ordinary day.

“There are no travel plans this year,” she said. “Because when you’re retired like me and you have a bare minimum of Social Security coming in, you really just can’t take the trip.”

Experts predict more rising grocery costs for 2008

Ephraim Leibtag, an economist with the United States Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service, said a number of factors -- including bad weather, overseas demand and fuel prices -- were responsible for the rising grocery store costs.

But even should those factors change it is unlikely prices will drop as rapidly as they rose, he said.

And most did rise. Leibtag said most food prices went up in 2007, and foods that require less processing -- meats, milk, eggs and vegetables -- went up the most.

Sri Lanka: Global food crisis not far away

According to the FAO record world prices for most staple foods have led to high food price inflation in China, Indonesia, Pakistan, Latin America, Russia and India, FAO also adds that wheat has doubled in price, maize is nearly 50% higher than a year ago and rice is 20% more expensive.

The worst is global food reserves are at their lowest in 25 years and prices are expected to be higher for years. On the other hand food riots have been reported from India, Yemen and Mexico.

No Joke, Bulb Change Is Challenge for U.S.

Manufacturers are putting a lot of stock in light-emitting diodes — or L.E.D.’s. They operate with chips made of nontoxic materials and last for about 50,000 hours, compared with 1,000 hours for an incandescent and 6,000 for a compact fluorescent. A tiny L.E.D. can shed as much light as a cumbersome bulb, which makes them easier to integrate into a home’s décor. And, they are extremely energy efficient.

But today, they are too expensive to use for all lighting applications. And, while manufacturers are able to make pretty good colored L.E.D.’s — the kind that are already available for Christmas tree lights — they have yet to perfect a white L.E.D. that would be useful for lighting homes.

Repository on local officials' wish list

Remote-handled waste has been sent to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad for almost a year now.

The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership appears to be at a standstill, at least in ways that could directly apply to Carlsbad and southeastern New Mexico.

So what's the next move for local officials who want to see the area's nuclear footprint expand?

For starts, local officials are courting Areva, a French nuclear giant that is looking at an enrichment facility somewhere in the United States. An area between Carlsbad and Hobbs is reportedly one of the finalists under consideration.

In the Age of Noah

A couple of weeks ago, The Times’s Jim Yardley reported from China that the world’s last known female Yangtze giant soft-shell turtle was living in one Chinese zoo, while the planet’s only undisputed, known giant soft-shell male turtle was living in another — and together this aging pair were the last hope of saving a species believed to be the largest freshwater turtles in the world.

It struck me as I read that story that our generation has entered a phase that no previous generation has ever experienced: the Noah phase. With more and more species threatened with extinction by The Flood that is today’s global economic juggernaut, we may be the first generation in human history that literally has to act like Noah — to save the last pairs of a wide range of species.

Fire and brimstone can't cool global warming

There is an existential question at the heart of the debate over global warming: Can green groups transform themselves into institutions motivated by a vision of prosperity and possibility? Or will they remain grounded in the politics of pollution and limits?"

Life after peak oil

Many people think mistakenly that modern prosperity was founded on this fossil energy revolution, and that when the oil and coal is gone, it is back to the Stone Age. If we had no fossil energy, then we would be forced to rely on an essentially unlimited amount of solar power, available at five times current energy costs. With energy five times as expensive as at present we would take a substantial hit to incomes. Our living standard would decline by about 11 percent. But we would still be fantastically rich compared to the pre-industrial world.

That may seem like a lot of economic hurt, but put it in context. Our income would still be above the current living standards in Canada, Sweden or England. Oh, the suffering humanity! At current rates of economic growth we would gain back the income losses from having to convert to solar power in less than six years. And then onward on our march to ever greater prosperity.

The Post-Oil Economy: After The Techno-Fix

The path beyond petroleum begins by considering five principles: that alternative sources of energy are insufficient; that hydrocarbons, metals, and electricity are inseparable; that advanced technology is part of the problem, not part of the solution; that post-oil agriculture means a smaller population; and that the basis of the problem is psychological, not technological.

Venezuela looks for help to triple Orinoco output

Venezuela aims to more than triple output from its Orinoco heavy crude reserve in five years and will start looking for companies that can help achieve that goal from January, the national oil company said on Saturday.

State-owned oil company PDVSA said it would develop new projects to produce 2 million barrels per day from the Orinoco region within five years.

Clouds over Nigeria's oil industry

Despite being the world's eighth petroleum exporter and sitting on huge gas reserves, Nigeria will not have it easy over the next two years, between peristent unrest in the Niger Delta and strained relations with the major oil companies.

"In view of the current problems, their goal of 4.0 million barrels per day in 2010 seems inaccessible in the current situation," said the head of one multinational company operating in the delta, the oil region where violence and insecurity are endemic.

Nigeria: Rivers Imposes Curfew On Okrika

Following the breakdown of law and order in Okrika, a riverine surburb in Rivers State, where militants had recently bombed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the State Governor, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, has imposed a dusk to dawn curfew, starting from 6pm to 6am with effect from last Friday.

UAE will revalue currency by July says bank

The United Arab Emirates was 60 per cent likely to revalue its dollar-pegged dirham unilaterally or in conjunction with other Gulf oil producers in the first half of next year, an investment bank has predicted.

Iran says gets 90% of oil income in euros, yen

Iran has boosted oil export earnings in non-U.S. dollar currencies to 90 percent, a senior official said on Sunday, making clear the world's fourth-largest crude exporter would continue to reduce its dollar exposure.

Saudi arrests 28 Qaeda suspects over attack plot

Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday the arrest of 28 Al-Qaeda linked suspects for planning attacks in the oil-rich kingdom, following an alleged plot to commit a "terrorist act" during the annual Muslim pilgrimage, or hajj.

"Since December 14, 28 members of the deviant group (the term used by the Saudi authorities for Al-Qaeda) have been arrested, including one foreign resident and the rest Saudi nationals," an interior ministry official said in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency.

Iran says in talks on selling gas to Italy's Edison

Iran is in talks with Italian power utility Edison about exporting gas to the European Union country, Iranian Oil Minister Gholamhossein Nozari said on Sunday.

Iran sits atop the world's second largest gas reserves after Russia. But sanctions, politics and construction delays have slowed its gas development, and analysts say the country is unlikely to become a major exporter for a decade.

Equipment Makers Profiting More From Oil Prices Than Producers

Oil prices above $90 a barrel are doing more for shareholders of Cameron International and Baker Hughes than Exxon Mobil and Chevron. A lot more.

Exxon, the world's largest oil company; Chevron, the second-biggest in the United States; and the rest of the industry are struggling to increase production and profits because the most promising new fields are miles beneath the ocean. Their difficulties are making Houston-based Cameron and Baker Hughes richer, since they provide the valves, pumps and fluids needed to extract crude from the waters off Brazil to the Arctic Ocean.

India: Fewer divers put oil industry deep in crisis

At present, there are some 1,500 air, mixed gas and saturation divers in the country servicing major companies like ONCG, Cairn India, Oil India Ltd, Essar Oil, etc.

But according to Satpal Singh, joint managing director, Dolphin Offshore, the only firm that provides diving services to oil companies, “India will require the services of another 1,500-2,000 divers for carrying out work like drilling, laying of pipelines and platforms, inspection, maintenance, installation of jackets, etc”.

Vietnam oil delegation to visit Iran

Vietnam's National Oil and Gas Group is slated to send a delegation to Iran to discuss the expansion of relations in the oil sector, PressTV reported.

Blame the weak dollar

Consumers grousing about soaring gas prices often focus on the big oil companies and anyone else who might profit when it costs more at the pump. But one culprit that doesn't always get fingered when prices rise - a weak dollar - could draw more attention in the coming year.

'The Oil' a slick account of the world of geopolitics

The central character is the oil beneath the Caspian Sea. LeVine, who lives in Dallas, uses oil to tell the story of how some former Soviet states gained their financial independence from Russia. The book is a fascinating back-door history of the Soviet political collapse and the U.S. response.

Ralph Nader: Big Oil’s Profit and Plunder

While many impoverished American families are shivering in the winter cold for lack of money to pay the oil baron their exorbitant price for home heating oil, ex-oil man, George W. Bush sleeps in a warm White House and relishes his defeat of the Congressional attempt to get rid of $15 billion in unconscionable tax breaks given those same profit-glutted oil companies like ExxonMobil when crude oil was half the price it is today.

Analysis: U.S. military & Iran - Part 6

Globally, a reduction, even a temporary one, in oil exports would likely have a mixed impact. Developed states are far better prepared to deal with such a contingency. A congressional joint economic committee study released earlier this year found that, "The immediate loss of oil from the disruption would be secondary. Due to the experience of six oil crises since World War II, most oil-importing nations have accumulated substantial oil stores already. While a blockage of the (Hormuz) Strait would have a much larger impact on the daily flow of oil than any prior interruption in supply, oil released from private and strategic inventories, in theory, could manage the physical loss of oil for many months."

A Solar Grand Plan

By 2050 solar power could end U.S. dependence on foreign oil and slash greenhouse gas emissions

● A massive switch from coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear power plants to solar power plants could supply 69 percent of the U.S.’s electricity and 35 percent of its total energy by 2050.

● A vast area of photovoltaic cells would have to be erected in the Southwest. Excess daytime energy would be stored as compressed air in underground caverns to be tapped during nighttime hours.

Arrogance and Warming

The Bush administration’s decision to deny California permission to regulate and reduce global warming emissions from cars and trucks is an indefensible act of executive arrogance that can only be explained as the product of ideological blindness and as a political payoff to the automobile industry.

EPA chief is said to have ignored staff

The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ignored his staff's written findings in denying California's request for a waiver to implement its landmark law to slash greenhouse gases from vehicles, sources inside and outside the agency told The Times on Thursday.

"California met every criteria . . . on the merits. The same criteria we have used for the last 40 years on all the other waivers," said an EPA staffer. "We told him that. All the briefings we have given him laid out the facts."

Is this the world we want to leave to our children?

Last month’s IPCC report predicts dramatic changes in rain distribution around the world. One likely consequence the scientists point to is "severely compromised" access to food in many African countries by 2020. "In some countries," it estimates, "yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50 per cent."

For most of us, many generations (happily) distant from any experience or understanding of hunger, the 50 per cent figure may carry little meaning. Historically, however, European famines were triggered by five to 10 per cent harvest declines. Most starvation occurred not from drastic shortage of food, but from soaring prices. Poor harvests triggered fear, stockpiling and hyperinflation, a sequence which quickly priced the poor out of the foodgrain market.

I agree with the Life After Peak article that it is possible to change the lifeblood of our economy from oil to ingenuity.

Germany de-monopolized power generation and now generates 12% of the electricity from solar. Their Feed-in-Tariffs has created 250,000 post-oil jobs and exports of 8.5 billion Euros in 2007. Not bad of a 5 year old policy.

Current transportation is less than 1% efficient, with 99% going to climate change. Soon there will be a wave of de-monopolization of transportation. The success of Morgantown's PRT will commercialize.

There is plenty of energy in solar. In ultra-light versions of Morgantown (Why move a ton to move a person?) the energy required to move a mile is 200 watt-hours. Solar collectors 6-foot wide mounted on the rail, gather 2.5 million watt-hours in a typical day (16% efficient solar collectors). That is enough power for 12,500 vehicle-miles.

The cost to build, operate, maintain and power these networks is about 65% of current transportation costs. Wealth can increase by changing from oil to ingenuity.

The Internet is an example of infrastructure evolution possible in a once stagnant and monopolized industry.

The major risk is that monopolies have stifled incremental innovation, delaying action to a point the economy is brittle and cannot adapt in time.

The success of Morgantown's PRT...


Morgantown a "success" ?

Incrediably high cost to build, major operational problems for the first decade. Still high operating costs. Boeing's biggest failute !

Hint: A second line with that technology was never built. "White Elephant" is unfair to pachyderms


Life after Peak Fossils

Don't you just love it when the economics educators flex their intellect by using big words like "energy"?

Prof. Clark (CV here) suggests that energy is energy and the only thing that matters is the price (here).

Solar energy cannot be stored for use during those long cloudy winter days. Oil can.

Here is a quote from Thomas Edison from 1910:

"Sunshine is spread out thin and so is electricity. Perhaps they are the same, Sunshine is a form of energy, and the winds and the tides are manifestations of energy.”

“Do we use them? Oh, no! We burn up wood and coal, as renters burn up the front fence for fuel. We live like squatters, not as if we owned the property.

“There must surely come a time when heat and power will be stored in unlimited quantities in every community, all gathered by natural forces. Electricity ought to be as cheap as oxygen...."

If we are clever enough, we can store and use solar effectively. Almost everything else on earth lives within a solar budget. Are we so unclever that we cannot?

We are certainly clever enough -- at least, individually and in small groups. The problem comes in the group dynamics of human behavior, when brilliant minds turn to mush.

I used to ponder, and wonder how the German people (I have a German heritage and a lot of German friends) could have been so stupid as to allow the rise of the National Socialists. Then we "elected" a modern version in the U.S. -- and the remarkable thing is that the contagion is spreading, even apparently on the European Continent where hardly two generations ago a vastly ruinous war (or suite of wars) nearly destroyed Western civilization.

Elias Canetti, a Nobel Prize winning author, investigated this in Crowds and Power. Now, finally, it makes sense to me. But the question in my mind has changed -- is it possible to develop a leadership that doesn't become tyrannical over time?

-- is it possible to develop a leadership that doesn't become tyrannical over time?

Let's flip it around:

Is it possible to develop a followship that does not fall for the mind bending tricks of a group of wanna-be tyrants?

Yes and no - we can create a group of people who can maintain a clarity of mind. But teaching other generations to have a core of values but be flexible considering a generations unique circumstances - thats very hard.

The Jeffersonian principle of an educated electorate falls apart when politicians appeal to emotions like fear. Even the brightest people fall victim to fear and can make some bad decisions as a result.

Well, it hasn't happened yet. But there is always that greatest narcotic of all -- hope.

If we are clever enough, we can store and use solar effectively. Almost everything else on earth lives within a solar budget. Are we so unclever that we cannot?

It has nothing to do with being clever or not. All other species indeed lives within their solar budget, until their population gets too large. Then it must crash.

The big question is, are we beyond our carrying capactiy with our current population? The general feeling is we are way past that and the only way of our society to survive is to have a huge reduction, more than 50%, in population. Question is how do we get there?

If we are clever enough, we can store and use solar effectively.

Problem is, we are more "clever" than that.

We are so clever we have fabricated a fictitious method of accounting for our cleverness which we call "economics". We are so clever we have fooled ourselves into believing that the laws of our man-made "economics" trumps the laws of nature.

So yes. If we were less clever, we could devise systems for collecting and storing useful energy that originates as solar energy. But we are more clever than that. We paralyze ourselves with our cleverness into fretting over whether it will be "economical" to develop such solar based systems and to stop freebasing off the high EROI of Natured produced oil.

We were so clever that we created nuclear power and it was suppose to be so cheap we would not have to meter it. So much for that clever move.

Clark is rather Kunstlerian:

So life after peak oil should hold no terror for us – unless, of course, you have invested in a lot of suburban real estate.

And, regarding solar energy, certainly there are places on Earth where hyro, wind, nuclear, etc. make more sense than solar, though for a non-trivial part of the US solar is likely the future.

We don't have to go back to living like this:

Though I do believe it won't be as simple or painless as Clark suggests.

For an academic economist, Clark seems not to bother with things such as math.

To convert the entire US from oil to solar electricity in six years? I don't think that building enough factories to produce that much PVs could be accomplished in six years. How many years would it take to even build the capital to build those factories?

Where do they get the energy to build all those PVs so quickly? How long for the siting and installation of those new PVs? How long to design and replace the auto fleet from fossil fuels to electric? We don't even have any practical electrical cars now. He doesn't consider the annual production of silicon for PVs, or how much production of rare earth elements per year that need to be in all those thin film solar cells.

Same for batteries. How much lithium can the world supply per year if we chose to go battery-operated cars?

And just who is going to finance this massive switch from fossil to solar, the government? The same government which thinks massive ethanol production is a good and practical thing? The same government which can't extricate itself from its $12 billion per month foreign adventures? The same government which is already running massive budget deficits? I could go on forever.

He claimed the US standard of living would only decline by 11% if we made this switch, but offers not a single figure to back up his ridiculous claim.

We can easily build enough solar to replace all the natural gas burned for power in America, because that gas is burned for air conditioning. That's what peaking power is.
We can't easily build enough solar to replace the natural gas burned for heat. That's needed at night. The sun does not shine at night. We can't easily build enough solar to replace the natural gas used to make plastics, either.
But if we don't build the solar for the easy natural gas replacement very soon, we will have to build the solar for the hard natural gas replacement as well.
Concentrating solar photovoltaic, fifty gigawatts a year, every year, until we don't need it any more.

Hi wk,

Thanks for this point. I noticed that the Sci Am article invited people to comment. I hope you do.

One thing that bothered me about the article was the FF growth assumptions.

And the time frame they use.

Another was - well, I'm almost afraid to say it. A region of concentrated solar panels seems rather vulnerable to me. More vulnerable in some ways that the current system. (Though perhaps not even a good comparison to make, as we know where it's headed.)

Yes, well, Ron and Airdale - and the most welcome SCT. (What can I add?)

Q: What about a program to put solar on existing rooftops? Or, are they saying this is not (or is even less) economically feasible.

Solar panels are about as concentrated as coal mines and nukes and gas. Gas power plants cover several acres, and also several thousand miles of natural gas transmission lines. Coal plants need only a few square miles of coal mine (coal can burn, but not easily) that also needs to be protected. Nuclear power plants only need a few square miles of setback to be reasonably safe from anyone that doesn't have a six inch howitzer along. It works out to about the same area for all power supplies.

Hi wk

Thanks, agreed. What I was referring to was the concentration of the source (panels) in one geographical area. W. FF, yes the NG, for eg, is concentrated but not really all in one place, and at present all the various FF sources are redundant in some ways. The thing, too, about solar, is it's all above ground (except for their storage proposal). Anyway...

Some people are so ignorant about storing solar energy. Storing heat is a very simple and cheap technology. A large tank of water can hold enough energy to keep a house warm through many cold winter nights. Higher temperature heat can be stored in an insulated pile of rocks for several months. Daytime PV could power a large freezer and use the generated ice to cool the building through those muggy summer nights.

You can make NG by gasifying biomass. You can heat homes using solar thermal energy. You can store renewable energy using pumped hydro at more than 70% efficiency. There are many ways of living more cleanly and sustainably, we just have to have the will to invest in them and make them happen.

"To convert the entire US from oil to solar electricity in six years? "

That's not what he said. He said the cost of conversion would cost 11% of our GDP, and that that could be paid for with 6 years of economic growth.

Here's what I've learned after four years of reading:

There is such a pile of contradictory information out there people will simply choose the view that is compatible with their temperament. And who can blame them?

This is true of "doomers" AND "cornucopians," and everything between. It is impossible for the lay person to have anywhere near the time and energy to verify or refute the various claims. In this way, I think, the peak oil awareness movement is a failure. Awareness of just exactly what?

It reminds me of the Jesus Seminar scholars' view of the "historical Jesus": "Beware of finding only the Jesus that is congenial to you."

The problem is, as the saying goes, the historical Jesus is not just unknown but probably also unknowable.

This is why I think the skeptics movement is so inhumane: They expect the public to have the time and capacity to be as richly informed as they are.

What does this lead to? General paralysis. There is nothing like a consensus and therefore no way to decide what to prepare for.

This leaves us all, once again, the playthings of history.

The only way to confirm or deny peak oil scenarios is when they do/don't come to pass.

The rest is bungling.

The realistic person seeks balance in all things.

Live w/in your means.

Right now, only Cuba (as a nation) is doing this.

And why the US is doomed to being a nation of slaves.

And it's no accident that the growth of people perfectly matches, w/ about a 15 year offset, the production of oil.

BTW-the Arctic goes ice free by 2012.

Meaning we're out of the Holocene.

Forgive me for pointing this out.

I have read a lot of references to Cuba on TOD as some sort of beacon and example for us all to follow. Cuba is in fact a tyranny where a tiny ruling class is living very comfortably indeed and the mass of humanity is just getting by, not unlike their ancestors.

Please do not assume that I am not suggesting that if they had a capitalist system things would be entirely different - there would still be a tiny ruling clique (a somewhat different one) and the masses would still be living in a not very dissimilar way.

I, too, recoil from the comparisons.

Cuba is a tiny place compared to a continent like North America. I can't even imagine the US going through a shock transition the way Cuba did.

Wasn't there a period where average body weights dropped by 20%?

Wait a minute... Maybe it wouldn't be so bad...

...but I jest.

Agreed. Cuba also was never fully self-sufficient in food. They had to import staples like beans and rice.

And they have a year-round growing season. They're about the size of Pennsylvania, with about the same population. Some US states are considerably more crowded (mostly in the northeast), and the sparsely-populated west has water issues Cuba does not.

Cuba also got some international aid. I think that's one thing many people overlook. Fossil fuels have provided a safety net that was unknown for most of human history. If your crops fail, you can buy food on the global market, and it will be speedily delivered via petroleum-powered transport. If you can't afford to buy it, international aid organizations will buy it for you.

Said aid organizations are already feeling the strain, as food and fuel prices rise. And what happens if there's no surplus food to buy?

IMO, this is what those "we'll all have permaculture gardens in our backyards" scenarios miss. Maybe there is enough land (assuming you can redistribute it) to support the entire population...under ideal conditions. But conditions won't be ideal. They never are. There will be fire, flood, untimely frosts, drought, disease, etc. Will we still have a grain surplus in case of crop failure? And will we be able to move it where it's needed?

People have always traded -- the Romans imported huge amounts of wheat, oil, wine -- and long before fossil fuel was used for transportation. Of course, they cut down all the forests in the process, and eventually drove technology to using fossil fuels. But no area can be fully self-sufficient if people are to live as human beings.

And of course, the "population" issue keeps coming up. As individuals, people don't live very long, even under the best of circumstances. Populations will quickly decrease to "carrying capacity" when conditions change. The current "carrying capacity" is obviously not sustainable over time, but a population crash will not be the end of civilization.

It may be silly to think that "permaculture in the back yard" will solve all problems -- but it is foolish to maintain that it can't be part of the solution.

People have always traded...but it wasn't sufficient to prevent famine and dieoff. Until fairly recently.

not even recently. And especially, not now!

I visited Cuba regularly in the mid 90s during the period when withdrawal of Soviet aid was biting hardest. I was hanging out with everyday Cubans, not inhabiting the tourist economy. Some things I remember were:

- Regular rolling electricity blackouts (usually two 4-hour stoppages per day) in Havana. Those big old 50s US fridges just stopped running - didn't really matter though, there was nothing in them to defrost.
- "No hay" was the first bit of Spanish that became familiar - no hay agua, no hay comida, no hay ropas, no hay electricidad, no hay NADA!
- The official peso/dollar exchange rate was 1:1. However, offers of 100:1 could easily be found. Note however, that there was basically nothing you could buy with pesos except for the ubiquitous "Populares" cigarettes
- Going into the coffee shop at the Habana Libre and finding they had no coffee... "Desculpeme Senor - It's all been exported for hard currency"
- Crowds of people sheltering from the sun under motorway bridges, waiting for a lift, most of them holding small plastic bottles of gasoline as inducements to passing drivers
- My girlfriend at the time (a Cuban doctor) explaining to me that patients in hospitals were being injected with water as a placebo, because there weren't any drugs
- the only pet dogs and cats to be seen were tiny and emaciated

My g/f eventually visited me in the UK, and the most abiding memory I have of her severe culture shock was when we took a trip to the Lake District. She was completely stunned by seeing fields full of sheep and no armed guards protecting them.

Regards Chris

I too visited Cuba but was not able to observe as acutely as you, and I was only there less than a week. Housewives standing in the middle of the street gossiping because there's no traffic to watch out for, skinny dogs, gov't officials with "elite" colored license plates on new european sedans trying to run you over in the street, the Castro Channel on TV, etc. I had a "minder" because I think they assumed I was CIA, my team mates got crammed into a tiny room in the Hotel Panamericanos, while I got a suite, basically like a 1-room apartment. I drank Hatueys and soaked off the labels, which I still have. I ate baked chicken in an outdoor cafe you normally had to be a great baseball star or something to go to - said great baseball star was pointed out to me at the next table by my minder lol.

Well! Cuba isn't blockaded by the whole world, just by the US and our lackey states. They also have a very fertile land, and most of the people are just unbelieveably poor. They get aid, and they get US dollars however they can - I know I spent a bunch!

Cuba is an example of how we'll end up living, we also need to look at examples before oil was used and even before coal was used in great quantity. The future is truly Amish.

Speaking of Amish ,

I have this reacurring dream of horses pulling gutted SUV bodies down the street .

Might not be so bad .... just no AC

You mean like this:


And how about now -- ten years later, and some kind of equilibrium could conceivably have returned following the shock of withdrawal of Soviet aid? Same story?

Under American domination Cuba was far far
And no female doctors. No doctors at all for
ordinary people.
The only point of comparison that matters is to
pre 1959. Comparison to American standards is

Exactly. The history of the US meddling in Latin America has been to deny people American standards of life. Specifically unions that would fight for workplace standards and wages and governments that would fight for indigenous interests and not whore to US corporations. This was the story of Guatemala, Nicaragua, Chile, Brazil, and essentially every other state including Venezuela. The US exported death squad juntas to Latin America and never democracy. It is hardly surprising that there was and still is a leftist backlash against this dictatorial imposition. Now the neocon swine that rule America are busy trying to go back to the good old days of operation Condor and the bootlick media is busy paving the way with absurd propaganda such as Chavez is a "tyrant".

"The only point of comparison that matters is to
pre 1959. Comparison to American standards is

Wouldn't a comparison of Cuba in 1959 and currently with other countries over the same period be meaningful?

By most accounts Cuba has done quite well in terms of availability of health care. Other than that?

what the cubans have that we dont: basic health care for everyone.
what the us has is plastic surgury and transplants of every concievable organ for some and no health care for others.

There are some good things about Cuba, but people vote with their feet on quality of life. So far, I don't know of anyone getting on a boat in Florida and trying to escape to Cuba.

But our way of life is not sustainable.

Cuba's probably isn't, either, but they're hell of a lot closer.

Leanan you expressed it so perfectly, exactly what I am trying to say....

Yes, they are closer to sustainable. Much closer to us. They are still getting a lot of help from us and other countries. That help is probably what keeps the oligarchs in charge there.

But they are an intermediate step on the way to sustainability.

I just got back from a trip to Cuba a couple of days ago. As someone else mentioned, you see crowds of people waiting to get a lift along most roads. Apparently government vehicles are required to stop for anyone waiting by the road. I saw plenty of young single women flagging down passing vans and trucks, which was a bit of a culture shock.

I guess it's an efficient way to utilise a limited resource, and is a situation that we in the west may soon face. Made me wonder how we would handle it though. Somewhat differently I think.

So far, I don't know of anyone getting on a boat in Florida and trying to escape to Cuba.

Micheal Moore was unable to go there to film and had to sneak in.

As I remember the story - The US Government has laws stopping what you are saying you do not see.

Live w/in your means.
Right now, only Cuba (as a nation) is doing this.


Politics or not, Cuba now ranks as the 16th-largest overseas buyer of U.S. corn, according to the Iowa Corn Promotion Board. In the past 12 months, Cuban purchasing agency Al-import has bought 11 million bushels of U.S. corn;"


""For the last decade, Iowa Corn and the Iowa Department of Agriculture have led a sustained effort to increase food and feed sales to Cuba," says Craig Floss, chief executive officer for ICGA and ICPB. "In the last marketing year, 95% of Cuba 's corn imports came from the US. That is real progress, given the legal restrictions on US-Cuba trade." Cuba's corn purchases this year could be nearly 40 million bushels"

"Commerce between Venezuela and Cuba will increase by 42 percent this year to about $1.7 billion, says Bloomberg news service. Venezuela is selling up to 100,000 barrels of oil per day to Cuba, discounted by as much as 40 percent."

Not quite cabaple of living within their means.

Human beings have choices. Most other species do not. That is the message of our religions, and the teaching of sites like TOD. It also corresponds with most of our personal experiences.

The burden of "choice" is the requirement to become informed. "The public" is not stupid. Some individuals are lazy, of course, but in the long run, we have to trust ourselves and our fellow human beings to make the correct choices -- otherwise, "democracy" has no meaning, and we might as well become as sheep or trees.

we might as well become as sheep

We are sheep. Sheeple. And I include myself in the flock.
We can't help it. The limbic parts of our brains force us to act as sheep.

Being part of a flock is not all as bad as it sounds. It has evolutionary advantages. This is why many fish still swim in schools, many birds fly as flocks and many a religious sapiens congregate in their churches.

As for free choice, I revert you to this older post:

We are not sheep. I have raised sheep, and I know something about them. They never raise people.

Also, some fish swim in schools, but schooling fish can't exist as solitary creatures, and solitary fish don't associate.

People have a tremendous range of options, even if they aren't totally "free." We don't have to do a lot of the things we blame others for making us do.

We are not sheep. I have raised sheep, and I know something about them. ... People have a tremendous range of options, even if they aren't totally "free."


I respectfully submit that there is a big difference between what people "can" do (e.g. have a tremendous range of options) and what they do do (and must do).

Yes, of course each of us can tune ourselves into the free online lectures given at some of the best universities in the land so as to become better educated and each of us can read TOD daily so as to be on top of the latest developments in the Peak Oil movement.

But what do we actually do? (Speaking of the "main stream" among us.) "We" flock into large buildings called churches to hear some leader tell us that the big man is our "shepherd" and that we should obey without question.

I'm not making fun of the sheeple here. I'm merely stating that this is the way our brains are hardwired. Human beings cannot in general survive as solitary creatures. We must be part of a tribe, part of a community. And in doing so, we must conform to the dictates of the community; not to that theoretically wide range of individual "options" you speak about.

The communities (or flocks if you will) that we belong to have an inertia of their own. They keep racing towards the cliff no matter how loud you or I as individuals might shout, Stop! Can't you see the precipice ahead of us?

Yes you have "free" speech. And yes you have "free" will (to the extent your limited brain allows you to see the horizon). But do realize that there are constraints. There are boundaries. Our realistic options do not go to infinity and beyond. We are stuck in the corral (cage) that Mother Nature and Evolution have put us in.

Hi step back,

I appreciate (and agree with) your balanced assessment (true to your name).

Just another tilt to the see-saw of the discussion,

re: ""We" flock into large buildings called churches to hear some leader tell us that the big man is our "shepherd"..."

Or, sometimes people go to church in order to think about how to become a better person. (Really, some people do this.)


You can think about how to become a better person all by your lonesome self. (That means shutting off your computer and not being tilted even by my off balanced online assessments. Just stare into the blank screen and "think" for yourself and by yourself how to be "better" --whatever that means.)

I personally have nothing against people flocking into the religion coops to be with birds of their own feather and to feel communion with their chosen community.

Just be truthful at least to yourself and admit that this is what you are doing. You are checking out how well dressed everyone else is. You are checking out how well connected some people are to other well connected people or not. You are checking out how others in your community look at you and value you. It's all about pecking order in the flock. It has very little to do with self introspection and meditation in solitude.

Hi step,

Goodness, are we arguing about being "good"? What have I started? :) And, excuse me, but I was talking about my understanding of why people go to church, it wasn't about me.

All of what you talk about above may be true for many people.

What I'm saying is that yes,

re: "It has very little to do with self introspection and meditation in solitude."

It's not about solitude.

It's about community.

For many people it's the main way to gain a sense of community.

And, for many people, and for many communities, there's a distinct element of helping each other, learning...and...

re: ""better" --whatever that means"

I was using the word "better" to talk about - not introspection, per se, not thinking all alone...but listening to other people's ideas and seeing if they apply.

Being open. Learning about compassion, communication, perhaps helping other people. That kind of thing.

It could be that different experiences exist. And different motives. That's all I was trying to say.

And that's why I come to TOD.
To learn from people who are smarter than me.

Happy New Year to one and all.

"Solar energy cannot be stored for use during those long cloudy winter days. Oil can."

Except in the form of wood, or even biodiesel. As someone who only uses solar energy to heat their home, even though it can be cloudy for four or five days in a row here in my neck or North Carolina, I take exception to this comment.

aren't they working on batteries for solar and for utilities?

aren't they working on batteries for solar and for utilities?

Just because 'they' are working on something we need doesn't mean it is technically possible or possible at reasonable cost.

The just-in-time-adequate-technology fairy may come ... but no sign yet, so we'd better have a plan B (if there is one) ... just in case!

Yes they are ..
AEP is deploying them on their grid now ..

NAS batteries from this company ..


Triff ..

As always, it's a prototype, it isn't being deployed on the grid in any quantity now.

It and several other power storage options might become viable in the short timescale required, but at the moment, in the real world, they are generally not available and it is much too optimistic if you imply that they are.

Here's what AEP says ..


Triff ..

ammonia can be used as an energy storage medium.

Ok - what is the 'smallest' machine that can make NH3?

(power input and cost)

Ever see that picture with a family sitting on their front lawn surrounded by thousands of items like shoes, televisions, furniture, household appliances and just about everything you have in your house or use in your daily life? And the caption read:

All these things were made from oil!

Reckon there will be such a picture with the caption:

All these things were made from sunshine?

Ehhhh....I really don't think so. And that is what makes those columns such as "Life after Peak Oil" so horribly wrong. They do not address all the things that cannot be made from solar or wind energy. Oh, some would say, but we have biofuels for all those things.

Well no we don't. Most of those things cannot be made with ethanol or palm oil. And you sure as hell cannot make asphalt from palm oil. Also, just to power our fleet of trucks, automobiles, planes and ships would require several times the world's available arable land. And, there would be nothing left to grow food on.

But of course they could cut down all the wet and dry forest. And I am sure they would.

Ron Patterson

But of course they could cut down all the wet and dry forest. And I am sure they would.

Every time I hear the pro ethanol crowd crow about Brazil and sugar cane I want to scream, "where the hell do you think they got that arable land from!" These people would cut down every tree on earth to continue the current madness. What is so Goddamn important about our current “culture” that we will destroy the planet to sustain it?

What is so Goddamn important about our current “culture” that we will destroy the planet to sustain it?

People's lives and the lives of their children. With oil going, going, gone, what happens to the people living now? Think they will just sit back and let the new culture kill them and their families? That's what's "goddamn" important.

JR, of course people see their lives as the most important thing in the world. And they see the lives of their children as far more important than the world that gives life to them. And by destroying the planet, they are destroying the very planet that sustains their life and the life of their children.

If we figure out a way to cut down every tree on earth to plant soybeans or palm oil trees, we can perhaps keep business as usual going until we reach a population of 10 billion people. But the die is already cast. We are already deep into overshoot. The world cannot support, for many more years, the current 6.5 billion people. But if we wait until the world is sterile other than the 10 billion people and their biofuel plants, the collapsing disaster will be much worse. Far more people will die and the world left for the few survivors will be desolate with the entire world’s great mega fauna gone, and most of the rest of the wild creatures.

The only thing that could possibly be worse than peak oil would be no peak oil.

Ron Patterson

Guess I should have added that I agree with your last statement specifically and your comments in general. I should have included that what I see happening is the population will not go down without a fight, which is why I see the coming crash as being rather nasty.

I should have included that what I see happening is the population will not go down without a fight, which is why I see the coming crash as being rather nasty.

Nasty? Actually there is no adjective strong enough to accurately describe the situation as it is likely to unfold. Nasty is way too wimpy. Horrible would be better but that would still be too mild. They would have to invent another word.

How bad was it to be poor and hungry during the Irish potato famine? They had it really good by comparison. As bad as it was during that time, law and order was still present. All they had to worry about was where their next meal was coming from. They did not have to worry about becoming someone else’s meal.

But you are right, most people will not go down without a fight. And only the very strongest, and the very, very lucky will survive.

Ron Patterson

"Horrible would be better but that would still be too mild. They would have to invent another word."

Yea, that is what I was thinking, but did not want to come off as tooooo doom and gloom, but I fear you are all too correct.

Nasty? Actually there is no adjective strong enough to accurately describe the situation as it is likely to unfold. Nasty is way too wimpy. Horrible would be better but that would still be too mild. They would have to invent another word.


Times ref 231207 strikeplus Darwinian insoc.


End of Paradise (as in those in the future who look back on current times will consider our civilization in comparison to their own)

I am currently very fond of HEINOUS as a descriptive for the future we face.

hei·nous /ˈheɪnəs/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[hey-nuhs] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation

adjective hateful; odious; abominable

IMO it combines hyena, the most nasty of animals, a consumer of the lowest kind, and anus, the dirtiest part of the human anatomy, where we see the ultimate end result of consumption.

"Clusterfuck" really sums it up for me. And no, JH Kunstler did NOT invent that term...

SubKommander Dred

Hi Subkommander,

Thanks. I know JHK didn't invent the term - 'cause I looked it up.

It does convey the concept (if one understands it).

It also utterly fails to convey the concept to people who are stopped by the language use ("f-word").

And, last time I received put-downs for saying it, however, that's been perhaps a year, so I'll offer it again:

There are people from different cultures and upbringing for whom the use of profanity/obscenity does not convey meaning as intended.

It conveys only disrespect for the reader/listener.

This hinders communication - it doesn't help.

JR, for too many people in the United States present “culture” means traveling from the suburbs to an unfulfilling job, going home to watch American Idol or some other FOX show on their big screen television while slobbering down some junk food, traveling in the energy inefficient vehicle while talking on the cell phone to go to some mall while the kids play video games or listen to their ipod in the back, living in some overpriced condo in the city buying every newfangled gadget that fashion dictates….. Should I go on? The problem with our energy usage is that most of it is on useless “stuff” that will be only given up when you pry our dead hands off it. Look at the commercials on TV for services to pack your stuff in a container for long term storage. I know too many people who literally live like zombies who spend all of their free time staring at the tube and either shutting off the world entirely or buying the propaganda message lock stock and barrel. This is the main reason we need all of that energy - consumerism. And the irony is that to stop consuming will cause the system to collapse even faster as people lose their jobs supporting the system. Were on the back of a tiger, damned if we get off and damned if we stay on.

Man Bruce you sound just like me some time(quite a ways back when everyone was telling me to chill out)....yes just like me.

I love it!!!

Don't give up like I did. Tell it just exactly as you see.
Thats called * reality * and without visiting reality we are pretty much gomers for the future.

Guy moves from Chitown and now has some brass ones.

Chicago was once not too bad when I was going to school there back in the late 60's...some nice neighborhood bars/taverns, good places to eat, the Playboy Club....but now I digress.

The traffic was a bitch, cops were on the take. They beat the shit out of protesting Ahmurkans. They calmly overlooked due process. So it just went slowly to hell like the rest of the US.

But now? There is no one with the guts or care to really protest. They are now all sheeple.

But Bruce when springtime and planting season gets here we both will be too busy to bitch and whine on TOD. Bet?


PS. Google 'hickory nut milk' 'hickory nut syrup' and 'indians hickory nuts' and so forth and so on. Lots of great things about hickory nuts.

Man you haven't lived til you eat Hicker Nut Cake.

Airdale, thanks. I don’t have to wait for springtime to get busy. I’m in the process of cutting down about twenty honey locust trees to make posts for my vineyard and fruit groves. Got to do it now and cut them to size and put them in a warm place. I’ve been warned by neighbors that they can sprout on you after they are placed in the ground. That storm that blew in last night was a doozy - the rain was coming in sideways. I’m 54 and I remember when Chicago was a nice place to live. Great neighborhoods, great bars, live music, lakefront, and the food was fantastic. Now its much too crowded and everything costs too much. They closed down all the neighborhood bars, stole the fun and sold it back at a premium. Daley sucks. I started to hate the place after coming back from Minneapolis (great town, lousy food except for Kramarczuk's) I’ll search for the Hickory recipe - got a five gallon bucket full of nice nuts. My Carolina cracker really comes in handy, especially with the black walnuts.

The high winds and front moved though here before it got to you. Was 58 at sunset last night and now about 25.

Locusts. Hope you have plenty for they are a huge crop of nectar and pollen for honey bees. Without the locust blooms you don't make as much honey. And locust honey, if you pull a frame of it when its being filled, is very very good.

Hickory nuts are tough to crack. The indians pulverized them with a stump pounding device and then strained the milk out, perhaps had some way of getting out the nutmeat as well.


Speaking of hickory nuts-- I gathered up a large amount this fall and don't have a decent cracker. Any leads on great crackers?

Get a Carolina cracker.


Bruce, I agree with you. Yet partly don't. The people I know enjoy themselves and have fun with their money and time off. They enjoy their families and family time (like now). Though there are the zombies, not everyone is. Many people live fulfilling lives. I see that with my own extended families. Any time I bring up the subject of possible collpse due to oil depletion no one wants to hear about it. They want the good times to keep rolling. They want their kids to have good times and have families of their own and have good jobs. Any hint that could not happen is meeted with dismissal and denial.

And, I've been told to keep my yap shut on the subject this xmas gathering.

Most definitely damned if we get off and damned if we stay on.

You're somewhat confusing "lives" with "comfort" I think.

What is so Goddamn important about our current “culture” that we will destroy the planet to sustain it?

'WE' are not doing it. Big AgriBusiness and other multinational corporate interests are. Transnationals are beyond the laws of individual countries. Without a world authoritative body with the jurisdiction to stop them, the transnationals do whatever they damn well please. Most of these transnationals are NOT publicly owned. They are a power unto themselves.

While access to resources are controlled by price, with no power on earth with jurisdiction to change that, those with the wealth and power face no consequences(other than planetary suicide through runaway global warming). They will always have access to resources. It is the rest of us that will do without.

not without "our" permission, you might add.

All my friends eat Wheaties and shop at Costco. And they JUST LOVE the cheap stuff from China.

I, on the other hand, am pure. I only eat local -- when I can. Unfortunately, I can't find a made-in-USA laptop to type this crap on. However, I do buy my computers used.

Bruce, just out of curiosity have you ever actually been to Brazil? I'll be the first to admit sugarcane derived ethanol is no panacea. However your comment makes me wonder if you are basing it on real facts. Deforestation is a serious problem in Brazil but sugarcane production is not one of its major causes.
•Numbers of sugar cane in 2006
•Total harvest: 476 million tons (in stalks)
•Total sugar production: 30 million tons
•Total sugar consumption: 11.5 million tons
•Total sugar exports: 18.5 million tons
•Total ethanol production: 18 billion liters
•Total ethanol consumption: 14.4 billion liters
•Total ethanol exports: 3.1 billion liters
•Total sugar cane area: 6.2 million hectares (1.8% of arable land)
•Total area for ethanol only: 3.1 million hectares (0.9% of arable land)
•Total number of mills/distilleries at work: 380

Hi FMagyar,

re: "Deforestation is a serious problem in Brazil but sugarcane production is not one of its major causes."

What about the expansion of sugarcane production? What impact do you suppose that will have?

Is production currently stable or is it growing?

Aniya, sugarcane does not grow well in hot humid climates which is the kind of climate where most of the Brazilian forests grow. Is sugarcane production being expanded in Brazil? Sure. Is long term growth sustainable anywhere? No.
If you are interested in a brief overview of sugarcane production in Brazil, pros and cons I recommend this one:
BTW the lifestyles that we are accustomed to and take for granted in the western world, especially in the US are not sustainable either. Global ethanol production and its utilization as a transportation and agricultural fuel is but a very small drop in the big bucket of what we in the world are going to continue to need for a while to come. Even in the US we have done a very poor job of conserving our environment and forests. I think we in the western world should more carefully examine the motes in our own eyes before criticize the splinters in the eyes of others. Hopefully we can all get off our high horses and become a bit more humble. Now, tomorrow is Christmas so why don't we all get in our SUV's and drive down to the local mall and run up our credit cards buying a lot of things we probably don't need. Cheers!

But the 47" flat screen we bought ourselves this year was half price. It is a NICE picture.

Hi FM,

Thanks for the link.

re: "lifestyles that we are accustomed to and take for granted in the western world, especially in the US are not sustainable either."

Agreed; (I'm in the choir.)

re: "I think we in the western world should more carefully examine the motes in our own eyes before criticize the splinters in the eyes of others."

In the case of the discussion about sugar-cane growing in Brazil, my impression was this was in the context of sale for export. My assumption, also: unless stated otherwise, to speak in generalities about "Brazil growing sugarcane for ethanol" means actually *corporate agribusiness* growing sugarcane for ethanol. Which makes it a "both and" type of mote, really.

Not sure if this has been posted, but here's a related documentary on the costs (indigenous tribe displacement, AGW, loss of rainforest)of palm oil. Very good.


There have been great advances in making things from soybeans and corn, things I never would have thought possible a few years ago. Biodegradeable plastic plates and the such. I don't know if it will be possible to replace all the of the feedstocks that petroleum and nat. gas offer, but there are literally millions of potential renewable feedstocks from all the millions of different species out there (assuming we don't obliterate them all, which might be overly optimistic).

One of the main problems is that our identities have become wrapped up in what we consume. We'll never be happy if we have the attitude that it will take more stuff to make us happier. But so far as replacing the necessities, I have no doubt that the overwhelming diversity of the earth could provide the solutions to replace anything we NEED from fossil fuels, if we can muster up the wisdom to look there for it.

I have no doubt that the overwhelming diversity of the earth could provide the solutions to replace anything we NEED from fossil fuels, if we can muster up the wisdom to look there for it.

Can this be done with our current population? That's a big if. How many people will be unemployed, doing jobs now that provide us with the none essential things? Next time you are in the mall ask youself of all the stores there, is there any of these items that are "essential". Maybe none to you, but most definitely yes for those who rely on people buying these non-essentials which pays the wages so these workers can feed their families.

Yeah, there are so many bight-eyed stories about all the wonderful things we can do. But we are not, and when you scratch the surface you find that there are major issues to be dealt with, and that it will take a Herculean effort to accomplish it requiring a massive and coordinated investment.

Then you look around and see little attempt being made to do anything - apparently we're all just waiting around for the invisible hand to have at it, and then all the exiting new energy making technologies will magically appear. Then we'll have all the energy we can ever want, and all will be sweetness and light.

When I hear people talk about going from where we are now, to living totally on the real-time solar energy inputs with anything like our present lifestyle, I cannot help but think it naive. As always, it is not just what we could do, but what we will do.

We're also waiting around for that infamous rear view mirror to instruct us that we've past the peak. (Of what? "Oil?" "Liquids?" "Fossil Energy?") By which time we are certain to be sure of our fate.

Twilight you are exactly right. How's this analogy.

Reserves size is to Export Land Model
What We Could Do, but What We Will Do

(ELM = "What We Actually Get To Use")

I've been watching and "Spreading the Word" since 2001. I have seen it go from NO articles ANYWHERE (except Dieoff.com, FTW.com, ER yahoo group). Nothing in the Press.

Now I am Looking BACK on two years since Roscoe Bartlett did NUMEROUS presentations In CONGRESS !! Explaining EXACTLY what Peak Oil is. NOTHING !!

I look back two years on the same Roscoe Bartlett talking in a one on one with RPresident BUSH for a half hour on Peak Oil !!

What's been done? You are seeing the fruit of 2-3 years of ACTIVE Congressional action.

We had better take to heart what we learned with the govermental response to Kat-Rita/New Orleans. That is what you'd better expect as future help.

Let's watch the response to the drought in Atlanta which is a very slow motion Katrina to the body of the southeast.

Let's see if they don't get rain, what the combined response will be from our elected officials.

The Judgments will come Real Time.

All these things were made from oil!

The picture appears in Fate of Humanity Chapt. 1

Your claim about storing solar energy is just as off base as Clark's economics. Plants have routinely stored solar energy from summer months thru the winter to the next warm season and they've been doing that for millions of years. Of course, what you probably mean is that it is difficult to store solar electricity or thermal energy for long periods of time, which is closer to the truth.

Clark forgets that there are two sides to the energy equation, that of the producer and that of the consumer. Fossil fuels have enabled the consumer to use many sorts of devices which convert the FF energy into some desirable effect, which both creates jobs to make the devices and services associated with the distribution and maintenance of the devices. That includes the big industries, such as personal transportation by automobile and aircraft as well as the real estate industry which produced the low density suburban development patterns we see today. Clark implies that we can just substitute solar for FF's, while continuing all the other activities which blossomed as the use of cheap FF's expanded.

My perception of the situation is that both sides of the energy equation will need to change, once FF availability really starts to decline (or, similarly, the need to reduce CO2 emissions becomes accepted). Think of the situation in south Florida, as described HERE in today's NYT. The bubble in south Florida real estate has burst and the impacts are spreading thru the entire economy of the area. The growth in construction during the boom years resulted in economic activity in many other sectors of the local economy and when the bubble burst, the rest of the local economy is also undergoing a contraction. I think Clark's implication that switching energy sources will have a small effect on the overall economy misses the massive amount of connections the bind the economy together. Everything must change, especially people's perception of what is valuable and what their worth to society truly is.

E. Swanson

"Everything must change, especially people's perception of what is valuable and what their worth to society truly is."

Good post. people need to think about price. people say we won't have oil to do this and that. wrong. someone might not have oil because they can't afford it as opposed to there being no oil. sure lots of consumer goods are made from oil. the point is that consumer good, say a plastic children's toy, may go up 45% in price. because of oil. higher price means less consumption. those who can't afford goods won't have the oil made to produce that good.

Look at the housing market, people are living different lifestyles than they every would have if the housing market didn't force it. we will change and adapt. we pay very little in energy costs when you think about it.

our economy and lifestyles will adapt just like we've adapted to every recession, depression and hyperflationary event.

It's the price, stupid.

Solar energy cannot be stored for use during those long cloudy winter days. Oil can.

Errr, what do you think oil, coal, damed water, wind, wood ...., and plant oils are if not the expression of photons?

I just got the Scientific American for Jan. 2008 and read the piece advocating a "major" effort to convert to solar energy. What a disappointment! Whimpy, that's what. Small, slow, and weak. What we need is a big, fast and strong push to go for total solar- big thermal power plants in the desert, high voltage DC transmission lines, and pumped hydro storage both ends of that transmission line.

This has gotta be obvious to anybody who thinks about it. Lots of heavy papers have been written on exactly this for decades, so if anyone wants references, just go google it out and drink your fill.

They talk about cost. What do you say to "$420 billion subsidies from 2011 to 2050"! That's $10B/yr. People, we pay three times that much per year for soda pop!

My electric bill is $23/month, and I have what anybody would call a pretty comfortable life. Would I be willing to pay $46/month to get totally solar electricity? Or $69/month? Guess.

Real crude calculation says that if everyone in the USA paid out $4000 we could buy total solar for ALL electricity. That's $8K for my household, and I will gladly throw in the needed cash for my daughter's household down the road. I am certain I am by no means alone in this attitude. So where is the leadership?

Alright, I guess I should be grateful to SciAm for even doing the wishy-washy job they did. Puts the idea out there-- to that infinitesmal sliver of humanity who read that mag.

Gripe, Gripe. wimbi. Dammit, just go eat your mince pie and shut up.

This has gotta be obvious to anybody who thinks about it.

Not so.
When I talk to financial types, their only concern is how to maximize $RO$I.

(p.s. I'm still waiting for my watered down Sci Am to arrive in the mail. Lately the postman doesn't ring even once.)


Could someone point me to a basic explanation of DC transmission lines and why they are needed?

Thanks, it is fun to read you all.


Have you tried Google yet ? Such as 'theoildrum + DC transmission lines '.

Recently I used a bit longer text string in the second part of a Google search and got a hit for the very post I was reading which was fresh that same day.

Could someone point me to a basic explanation of DC transmission lines and why they are needed?

When electrical energy is required to be transmitted over very long distances, it can be more economical to transmit using direct current instead of alternating current.


Naw, don't shut up, Wimbi.
We've got 4 Mainers commenting here today so far, it warms the cockles of my heart! (What are cockles?)

So keep that mincemeat and webbrowser handy, but get your patents together, and then tell us what you've been tinkering on!


(Videographer, prepping How-to energy show for Portland Cable Access.. got access?)

(What are cockles?)

They are these little bivalves that live on the coast. What they're doing in your heart I have no idea. Nor why they are warmed -- they're cold blooded you know.


Real crude calculation says that if everyone in the USA paid out $4000 we could buy total solar for ALL electricity. That's $8K for my household, and I will gladly throw in the needed cash for my daughter's household down the road.

Not sure how they got such a small number. I did an evaluation to get my place set up to be partly solar and it was more than $25,000. 20 panels are $1000 each and some 60 batteries at $350 each. The batteries only last 6 years and have to be replaced. And that's just partly solar powered, does not include the deep draw items.

She was calculating using wholesale power, not rooftop power. Rooftop solar power is very labor intensive. On the other hand, it doesn't depend on the grid.
Nukes, wind, hydro, solar, some geo. It's the future.
Or you could burn coal and gas and fuck over everybody that lives next to the seashore or south of the Mason-Dixon line. Whatever floats your boat.

Given the inertia that exists in this country, I don't think the SA article was wimpy at all. Now, of course, we have no problem spending a billion dollars plus a week to kill people.

No one ever talks about the Defense budget, but much of that should be diverted now for alternative energy and preparing for a post fossil fuel future required by scarcity and global warming.

If one believes the numbers coming out of Nanosolar, Inc., we already have the technology to install solar capacity at a price cheaper than a new coal fired plant. According to Nanosolar, with their current technology, solar can be installed at a total cost of $2 per watt. This includes both the panels and the balance of system costs. According to DOE, the current cost of new coal plants is $2.10 per watt.

We need to start doing what SA advocates right now but instead are pissing around with ethanol and lame mpg standards and calling that a breakthrough.

I don't think people have absorbed yet what a breakthrough Nanosolar has come up with. And I think that they have an extra does of credibility because they don't even seem close to going public with an IPO. This is not pump and dump; this seems real with real production and real factories in California and Germany.

As an aside, I wonder what Nanosolar's low cost production is going to do to the rest of the solar companies out there.

Do you sell Nanosolar?

Where can I get one of these magical devices?

No, I don't sell Nanosolar. Google Nanosolar and you can learn more about their technology. You cannot get one of the "magical devices" because they are currently only available for utility size applications.

Nanosolar just went into production in the last week, is heavily supported by venture capitalists like Google and is certainly not being pushed here as some sort of stock scam simply because they haven't even gone public.

If one believes the numbers coming out of Nanosolar, Inc., we already have the technology to install solar capacity at a price cheaper than a new coal fired plant. According to Nanosolar, with their current technology, solar can be installed at a total cost of $2 per watt. This includes both the panels and the balance of system costs. According to DOE, the current cost of new coal plants is $2.10 per watt.

Nanosolar is comparing apples with jelly beans:

1. Exactly how much power does a 100Watt solar panel produce at night: Answer: 0 Watts. How much power does a 1400 MW Coal/Nuclear/N. Gas plant produce at night? Answer 1400 MW.

For Solar to complete with Fossil, it would have to include the associated costs for energy storage when the sun isn't shining (night, overcast, fog, etc). For every 1 Watt provided by Fossil/Nuclear, you need approximately 4 to 5 watts of Solar, plus the cost of the storage system. The only practical long term sustainable energy storage would be hydro (excess electricity pumps water up, and drained into turbines when demaid excesses production). However, no storage system is 100% efficient, and there could be an extensive period where solar output is below normal for a week or more (ie multiple larger storm systems). Then there is the problem of finding good locations to set up hydro storage (ie much of the best land has already been developed - Commerical, residential buildings). You can't build water storage in the great plains because you need a graviation potential of at least hunderd feet to make hydo storage practical. You can't do it in the southwest because there is no water.

FWIW: Civilization consumes about 400 years of stored sunshine every day. Another words, it takes nature 400 years to produce the same amount of fossil fuels we consume every day. I doubt humans can achieve an effieciency rating of 150,000 times better than nature can.

what do we do with all that nighttime energy?

We'd all be a lot better off if we went to bed and slept, thereby avoiding the need for energy storage.

TechGuy, while Nanosolar's claims may be exaggerated, your calculations are just as far off in the other direction. A true cost comparison would involve the cost per kilowatt-hour, including storage for solar, fuel for coal, nuclear or natural gas and the associated costs of mining and waste disposal. The developed nations were able to ignore the costs to society of pollution for most of the years that we have relied on fossil fuels, but we now are finding that these costs can no longer be left out of the calculations. Global Climate Change presents an entirely different problem from the business as usual treatment of pollution abatement and when the real costs of doing something to fix this part of the energy problem, the comparisons will show different results. You might want to take a look at the SciAm article referenced above, as most of your objections are discussed there. Besides, we appear to be at Peak Oil, after which, we will find that we are going to be doing things differently than now.

E. Swanson

TechGuy, while Nanosolar's claims may be exaggerated, your calculations are just as far off in the other direction. A true cost comparison would involve the cost per kilowatt-hour, including storage for solar, fuel for coal, nuclear or natural gas and the associated costs of mining and waste disposal

So are you suggesting the the production of solar panels by nanosolar does involve any mining, energy inputs during manufacturing, and these panels are also self maintaining, (ie no army of workers equiped with squeegies)? I assume that they are immune to violent weather (Tornados, Lightening, Hail, Ice Storms, etc)

Solar panel manufacturing creates loads of pollution, from the mining tailings for the rare-earth elements and the large amounts of contaiminated waste that is produced during the processing of raw materials and the production of solar panels.

Finally I wasn't debating the merrits for pollution. What I was referring to is simple: Solar panels don't produce energy when the sun isn't shinning, and they produce less energy when the sun is low or in overcast weather conditions. For Solar to complete with a Coal/Nuclear/N. Gas Plant on a Watt for watt bases, a typical solar plant will need to generate between 4 and 5 times the power of a fossil fueled plant, and it needs to have a backup storage system. Its got nothing to do with pollution, fuel costs, etc. Simply put if you plan to replace a 1000 MW fossil/Nuclear plant, You will need between 4000 and 5000 MW of solar panels and a storage solution.

Besides, we appear to be at Peak Oil, after which, we will find that we are going to be doing things differently than now.

Solar, Wind, Biofuels, Zero Point Energy isn't going to save us from declining fossil fuel resources. There is no technofix to declining energy resources. There is only one solution, whether you dislike it or disbelief it: Significantly Fewer Humans on the Planet.

How much electricity does a FF plant produce when fossil fuels are unavailable or too expensive?

How much electricity does a FF plant produce when fossil fuels are unavailable or too expensive?

You still don't get the point. It doesn't matter if FF go extinct. The whole premise is that we can easily replace FF with Solar. If you want 1000 MW of Power 7/24/365 you need 4000 to 5000 MW of Solar with a large storage system. Period. Its got nothing to do with the available or cost of the fuel.

This is like discussing the merrits of a Guitar Amp. that goes to 11, and you folks are the guitarist!

Regardless, this is a major breakthrough to bring the capital costs down to less than coal. While storage will still be a remaining issue, the actual costs of the delivered kwhr from solar will be competitive with coal if Nanosolar's calculations are correct. You also completely disregard the fact that solar will not have to deal with future increases in fuel costs.

For some period of time, we will still need something to cover the baseload. This will be coal or nuclear or both. In any event, if the kwhr costs are coming down as implied by Nanosolar's technology, our reliance on coal and/or nuclear can be cut down considerably.

We should also take into consideration wind power, compressed air storage, and molten salt storage of solar heat as covered by the article in Scientific American.

So, what would you suggest, that we just continue with fossil fuels until the fuel runs out or the planet fries, whichever comes first?

I wasn't trying to be rude -- I hope it works.

No matter what form it takes, and no matter how efficient, solar energy (or wind and hydro and firewood, all of which are really solar)-- we are all going to have to reduce energy consumption. If technology will be developed to allow the sort of lifestyle we currently enjoy with fossil fuels, well fine. But I am fairly sure there will have to be some kind of downsizing -- of population, of expectations, of appetites.

You can hydrostore anywhere. Just dig a hole- or better yet, use one somebody else dug.

You can hydrostore anywhere. Just dig a hole- or better yet, use one somebody else dug.

Great Can I use your basement? A megawatt will fill an olympic sized pool in secs (less then a second if the potential is just a few feet).

How about using some common sense first. Even if you dumped into a vast underground storage area, you would still need a vast above ground storage reservor.

And you don't think I know that?

Pumped hydro storage needs an up reservoir and a down reservoir. What's up and what's down have gotta be about the same size, since it is hard to compress water, but up and down are relative, and down and here is just as good as up and here. There are a lot of multimegawatt pumped hydro plants all around; been there for way longer than I have, and I am old.

Good Grief!

Now I'm gonna take my wife's advice and go back to mince pie for the duration.

Chinese solar companies made solar energy equipment for Europe and Japan where solar energy was subsidized by the government. China can not afford to install the equipment in China because hydrocarbons are much cheaper for creation of electricity. The Chinese economy is growing more quickly by not subsidizing bad ideas. If a homeowner wants to make a solar statement; panels may be purchased for private solar conversion at your local solar panel store. Not many people in my neighborhood want to make the solar statement.

Completely wrong.
China is installing low temperature solar thermal at a rather good rate. Here's a story from last year.

Jun. 10, 2006 - Philadelphia Inquirer
China's going solar
By Tim Johnson

Thriving firms that manufacture low-priced solar water heaters have helped build the world's largest market for the rooftop devices.

Between 30 million and 40 million families have solar water heaters on their rooftops, allowing nearly 200 million people to enjoy hot showers and use warm water to wash clothes and dishes. ...

As usual, folks confuse solar energy with solar PV, which is the most expensive solar option. Using solar PV to heat water for a shower or washing dishes is incredibly stupid, IMHO.

E. Swanson

If you are right, then you are, so long as America retains its share of economic growth (seem to be shifts against that at the moment) and so long as economic growth doesn't destroy our life support system (Mother Earth)!

Regarding all this solar energy happy talk:

With gallium and selenium already past peak production, CIGS solar panel production will necessarily peak, and at some pathetically low total installed energy output number. Production beyond that will be declining additions to the installed base at ever increasing cost.

Solar thermal, on the other hand, doesn't require "exotic" materials, but looking at real-world test installations, the costs seem to skyrocket, which is usually a sign of massive amounts of unmentioned fossil fuel inputs.

Definition of terms:
CIGS: (Copper Indium Gallium Diselenide)

Peak minerals (including gallium and selenium):

Why do you believe gallium has peaked? Both production levels and prices have been fairly stable for several years.


Basically, it's a trace mineral that's sometimes extracted as a side-product when processing bauxite. Currently only a tiny fraction of bauxite processors are set up to do the extraction (USGS estimates 50 ppm gallium is typical. 177 million metric tons bauxite in 2006, from which 69 metric tons of gallium were extracted, suggests <1% is currently being claimed). Basically it's at a market equilibrium, where a sustained price rise would induce more bauxite producers to invest in the equipment to claim the gallium side product.

And at $500/kg, I doubt it's the limiting factor in CIGS manufacture.


Why do you believe gallium has peaked? Both production levels and prices have been fairly stable for several years.

The Peak Minerals TOD article mentions gallium peaking in 2000 with a logistic fit of the data, with this strong caveat:

In this case, the area under the fitting curve is much smaller than that calculated from the USGS reserves data. In this case, the uncertainty in the estimation of the reserves is very high, one reason being that Gallium is produced only as a byproduct of the extraction of other minerals.

I often see a gallium peak mentioned as a strong case against CIGS, much like uranium peaking being used to discourage expansion of nuclear power.

But the article also shows Selenium having peaked in 1994. That's needed for the selenide part of CIGS.

I'm not against solar, and still think we need to develop solar as far as we can possibly take it. But the prospects just don't look so hot if two fundamental inputs to CIGS production have already potentially peaked.

When we see costs being high or going up, it's often because of all the work that is done to achieve the product. Usually most of that work is done with fossil fuel, i.e., it has a fossil fuel dependence. So we should take a hard look at whether we're better off just conserving the fuel. IOW, the law of receding horizons likely applies well to solar.

I don't know about mining selenium, but we have too much of it in water in many places in California. Hard to believe its supply will be limited anytime soon.

Yes. I think "receding horizons" definitely applies. Doesn't mean it's not worth trying, but realistically, triple or quintuple the estimated cost. And add several years (or decades) to the schedule.

We're going to have to go at peak oil just like we went at WWII. Every bit of production and every set of hands working towards solutions. People will realize the need just as things get much harder - those receding horizons. "Hey, I'll just get a home equity loan, insulate, and put up a wind turbine to run my ground loop HVAC." Ut oh ... economic crash means that those bits now require a mortgage unto themselves due to increased prices and decreased home value ...

This analogy to what we did in WWII is tempting, but at that time we still had a massive industrial capacity. And more than that, it was a vertically integrated one, where the manufacturers performed much more of the steps needed to produce their product, as opposed to just packaging subassemblies made elsewhere. And we used an enormous amount of energy doing it.

The pace at which we have dismantled our industrial capacity is astonishing, but many are still stuck in past modes of thinking. We believe that our industry is still there, just like we think that the nightly news is still news, and that our elections mean anything. But when push comes to shove, we will find that it is gone, and cannot answer the bell.

There are still many well trained and experienced people in our society; engineers and manufacturing experts, production workers, and purchasing specialists that can design a product and the system to produce it. But it is a hell of a lot harder to create an organization from scratch than it is to convert one (say from making cars to making tanks). It takes a long time to get the right people and equipment together and scale it up to the levels needed. And just at the time we'll need to do this, the costs of energy needed will be rising at a rapid pace.

So while I get what you're saying, I think it is yet another case of forgetting that our world is not what it was, and the assumptions we used to use are no longer valid.

I think you're right - if it comes hard and fast we reset to 1490 in terms of living conditions. Trying to keep some hope, I work from the assumption we're rolling back to 1940 and we'll have some time and the appropriate focus to rebuild what has been shredded by this foolish outsourcing binge.

Does anyone here seriously believe that cutting energy consumption by 25% --or even 50% -- will send us back to 1490? Fear of scarcity, not celebration of abundance is what motivates our culture, and that paradigm must change if there is ever to be any real solution to our predicament.

Christmas celebrates the birthday of a man who taught universal abundance -- he wasn't the first, he may never even have existed. It doesn't really matter -- the truth is out there now, and reality is, there is plenty to go around. We merely have to make the right choices.

There is nothing magic about 50% consumption that means it will level off at that point. How absurd would that be? Our oil consumption Never, will go to ZERO within less than one century. And it will be down to almost nil in half that time.

When our supply of fossil fuels start to decline, they will decline forever! And we will go back to 1490 but the problem is, we will not stop there. We will keep declining. All the individual skills and trades that we possessed in 1490 are gone now. Who can make a pair of shoes. Who can spin cotton into thread and make cloth from that thread on a home spinning wheel and loom? Who can forge iron from ore using only the heat of charcoal or even coal?

And those are the minor problems. The major problems will be what are we going to do with almost seven billion people? How are we going to feed them? How will they heat their homes? And with most industry gone, how will they even live? It takes money to buy everything and with 90% of all jobs gone the world will be one big starving disaster area.

I think few people who see a techno-fix for everything are simply unable to comprehend the big picture. Fossil fuels have provided more food which has enabled the population to explode. And when those fuels are gone, the food will be gone. What do you think will happen to the people who depend on that food to sustain life?

Ron Patterson

Without Ron here it just wouldn't be the same TOD.

I am sitting on a fast DSL linked PC so I can afford to post several times in just a few minutes.

Ron and Bruce...I love you guys.Gets me all tuned up for Christmas. Someone ,somewhere is really getting it right.

Went to the nearest shopping mall yesterday to buy myself a Christmas gift and get a country cured ham to cook.

Picked up ChessMaster Edition 10 at Best Buy. The parking lots looked crowded and so I asked the clerk: "Heavy,Normal or Light for 4 days before Christmas"? He said "Very light".

Went to see 'I Am Legend'..and you could have heard a pin drop..the audience was very very quiet and I think worried too. Big Big crowds to see "Alvin and the Chipmunks".

The inside of the mall had a lot of browsers but I suspect it was a very diminished buying period.(this was Saturday..22nd)

Went to Circuit City where they were going tits up so I heard. It looked like it too.

I think a lot of bad news is coming for merchandisers.
But maybe some shoppers caught on that CC debt is unsecured debt! What can they do to you if your credit rating is already shot?


Airdale. TOD would not be the same without your posts either. John

I'm sure many would disagree.

But I try to not post unless I can add something since my dialup bandwidth is rather limited to do else wise.

But thanks for the reply Bluestem. I can sometimes wax feisty and hope that being 'class of 57' discounts some of my detractors angst.


The other day Stoneleigh compared industrialized society to a patient on life support. Don't think I'd ever seen that analogy before, and it stopped me in my tracks. We need 20ccs of techno-fix, stat!

I'm seeing/hearing that adverb more and more it seems. The first time I heard it was when it training as an operating room inventory tech at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, about 2002.

The previous equivalent term I had heard in inventory positions was 'expedite'. It was explained to me that 'stat' meant delivery of inventory item on a dead run, as a patient's life or death could be in the balance.

I learned that there was no other hospital that employed non-medical personnel in that type of position. I'm sure the personnel strategy was motivated by competitiveness in their market. I would consider it an example of thinking outside the box. I believe, in this case, it worked well.

I was not PO aware in 2002.

I'm seeing/hearing that adverb more and more it seems.

That's because of the popularity of medical dramas like Grey's Anatomy.

I first heard it when I was a kid, on the daytime soaps. My mom used to watch General Hospital. I asked her about it once, and she said it was from a Latin term (statim, "immediately").

The Latin source is what http://www.m-w.com/ offers.

So, your Mon was up on her Latin !!

It has become more and more obvious that 5 billion people must die, soon. Since it is obvious to me and others here, it will also be obvious to someone with the power and the temperment to do it. History is written by the victors. Even the most heinous crime against humanity can be covered up. Look at the Highland Clearances. What? You haven't heard of it? Not suprised.


Yes, I have heard of the Highland Clearances. They were no secret at the time, and have been well-documented by historians since. Your general point my be valid, but you need to find a better example.

In our local Scottish organization there are 2 families that came to America during the clearances. They remember how the families were broken up and shipped to NZ, American & Canada. A branch of my own family left Scotland earlier. As the King’s men hunted down the priests and hanged them, villagers would hide priests in a priesthole in there homes with the livestock. 5 billion to cull? I’m going back to watch more football.

Those interested in Caledonian gore should obtain the attractively priced 2DVD of Peter Watkins's films Culloden and the War Game. WG was a sort of proto-Threads, so you get some excellent doomer porn for good measure.

Cid - you know what a Coffin Ship was? No peaking/Googling!

Think I picked up "stat" from Trapper John, MD. Never watched Grey's Anatomy. Read the book! Nyuk. Wonder if any TVphiles do that?

Carried Irish emigres, packed in the hold like sardines, to North America during the potato famine. Arrived with varying percentages left alive, from disease, starvation, etc.

Who has skills? Hobbyists.
I am sitting here wearing hand knit,
semi-hand spun (salvaged 1842 spinning
jenny) sweater. I can buy handmade
shoes if I want. There are blacksmiths
You're right, absence of hand skills is
a minor problem. In the meantime, a
fifteen year old sweater looks new, may
outlive me, draws constant compliments.
Most prefer junk from WalMart, and the
planet will choke on the junk.

Hobbyist knitters? Surely you jest!

The world has 6.5 billion people and if industry disappears they will be without mills that make thread and weave it into cloth and make garments from that cloth.

Jim Rogers is investing in cotton. He says when synthetic fibers made from petroleum disappear, cotton will be the fiber that replaces them. But who will gin that cotton? Who will weave that ginned cotton into thread? Who will weave that cotton thread into cloth? Well hell, hobbyist knitters of course!

What makes this story so sad is you really believe that crap!

This is sad, this is truly sad. I feel like crying. In fact I think I will pour myself another drink and sit right down and have a good cry. The situation has gone from bad to downright pitiful.

Ron Patteson

You asked who had skills.
No, I don't think that saves the world.
Many skills and crafts and trades do persist.
In all cases, or in any I care about, the craft
product is incomparably more satisfying than the
mass produced item. And lasts far far longer,
enough to limit the need for exponential
mindless consumption.
But exponential and mindless production and
consumption rules. Far too late to change that.
I will now have a local beer, not a Bud Lite.
Mindful that hops and barley may be past peak.

This is sad, this is truly sad. I feel like crying. In fact I think I will pour myself another drink and sit right down and have a good cry. The situation has gone from bad to downright pitiful.

Well at least no one suggested that we can spin oil from hay today. As Polly Ana might have said: "I am glad to be a doomer!".

Of course the more you read here, the more it becomes obvious that Civilization will endure a total collapse in the not too distant future. Very few folks have a clue as to how complex our system is, and how difficult it would be to make even the very basic changes required to mantain a civilization. We live in a society of Semi-Autistic Specialists, that have become too narrowly focused, and cannot comprehend the scope of the problem.

FWIW: Understanding the complexity of the situation is like the loss of innocence. I often have bouts of nostalgia, as ignorance is truely bliss. "Once innocence is lost, it can never be obtained again."

The one's who plan ahead, start to read up about doing such things, buys the books and prepares, will stand a better chance, albeit a small one. Though they may be in very high demand once the dust settles. I'm taking the crash as a given. No need to cry over spilled milk before the bottle breaks. What's important now is preserving what we can now for those who make it through and rebuild in the Post Carbon Era.

And those are the minor problems. The major problems will be what are we going to do with almost seven billion people? How are we going to feed them? How will they heat their homes? And with most industry gone, how will they even live? It takes money to buy everything and with 90% of all jobs gone the world will be one big starving disaster area.

There was a discussion over at the Survival Acres forum asking readers whether they had experience growing 100% of their own food (including storing and preserving enough food for the winter and reseeding in spring). The catch was that this had to be done using zero fossil fuel inputs.

A few people were producing a lot of there own food. almost no one came anywhere close to being 50% fossil fuel-free, let alone 100%. Individuals, families, and communities (even those who seemed to be making an extremely serious go at it) were still relying on outside energy sources and downstream petroleum products: things like fertilizers, mass-produced tools, tractors, water infrastructure, plastic greenhouses, saw mills, outside food to supplement their veggie garden diet, etc.

The point of the discussion wasn't that this kind of farming can't be done - it was that the percentage of Americans capable of growing a significant amount of their food is probably tiny. Many people will either not live in bio-regions conducive to farming, lack the knowledge, experience, and physical ability to toil in the fields day in and day out, or will simply not have the necessary heirloom seeds, tools, and/or property.

Incredibly, outside of sustainability circles, discussion about this looming food problem has essentially not even begun. Instead, we're still treated to proclamations about solar economies and to political debates about counter-productive energy bills.

And most people (even those peak-oil aware) don't bat an eyelash at this, as if it is a completely appropriate response or something. As Matt Simmons says, the mindset appears to be that "bad things don't happen to good people". (pretty ludicrous as we can just ask those living on an Indian reservations about the veracity of this claim.)

I'm not trying to be a downer. No one in their right mind wants to see famine. But it's just not looking good.

I'm probably as well prepared as anyone to grow my own food, having studied directly under John Jeavons and been practicing Grow Biointensive mini-farming and seed saving for over five years. The problem is our whole society isn't prepared to go back to the 18th century. Where are all the harness and buggy manufacturers? What about all the garden hand tools we'll be needing? There's really no way for even a small percentage of the population to make a smooth transition back to an earlier era. Which is why I'm drinking heavily right now.

Drink if you must, but if you've already climbed that learning curve I must ask what you're doing to prepare to help the others when the ball drops?

Thank you, SCT,

Thank you.

I wallowed in situational depression for several months this summer as I grew to understand the scope of the problem. I am very lucky to be (apparently) in the right place at the right time to make a difference, at least in terms of wind use, and I hope that my reporting on my progression from wanting to hide under the bed to activist is encouraging others to do the same.

I am haunted by the statement of one lurker who said something to the effect of "You all seem like well off professionals while I'm just a guy living paycheck to paycheck. What can someone like me do?"

Those of us with time, or money, or better yet both ought to be furiously working to put plans and tools in place for the day when everyone realizes what most here already know - we can reset to 1940 ... or 1490 ... and where we land depends on how soon and how well we focus on the right moves.

What about all the garden hand tools we'll be needing?

You're dead neighbours will be leaving all kinds of tools behind. We won't be short of tools for a long long time.

I really don't see how any massive and radical restructuring of our nation's entire energy infrastructure could be accomplished under free-market conditions. Rather it would require a centralized command economy, such as in the Soviet Union or the US during WW II, and the resultant destruction of personal economic choice that would inevitiably entail. While this would be undesirable, it might become necessary, and the closer we get to some critical point, the more wrenching it's going to be.

When an economist flippantly says something to the effect, "Well, if oil runs out, we'll just switch to solar", that person clearly hasn't a clue as to the enormous and almost insurmountable obstacles such a step-change would entail. And the ability to finance such is absolutely no guarantee that it can be done in time, because as the old saying goes: Just because one woman can produce a baby in one month, it does not automatically follow that nine women can produce the same baby in one month.

I'm beginning to think that the world inhabited by economists and financial types exists in some sort of parallel universe, certainly not ours.

Hi Joule,

Very important points here. Thanks for raising them.

re: "I really don't see how any massive and radical restructuring of our nation's entire energy infrastructure could be accomplished under free-market conditions."

When I make this argument, I usually refer to the fact of that the current oil infrastructure was brought about (to a large extent) by federal taxation, the roads being the clearest example, and the legal system (of corporations suing each other) the next best one, however, it's one I don't know much about. (Just have heard that most lawsuits are businesses and corps. suing each other.)

The thing is, though...we have right now (in the US) both a "command and control" fed. gov (to some extent, anyway - I mean how is it this Iraq invasion occurred? "Gitmo", etc.) and a de facto CC via corporate influence on politicians.

So, my point is...well, how can we make sure that this command structure would work, either? Now that I think about it.

I don't know. Do you?

The best thing would be for all the heads of corporations to "wake up" and switch course. Or something like that. (The real "influencers" to influence.)

re: "Free market" Yes, the free market. This is the number one response I receive from hard-working small and medium size (large to my measure) business owners. And from many, many other people. It's a kind of answer...that bears little relation to the way something real happens (even though it's supposed to be explanatory). Was the extreme outsourcing/moving/gutting of US manufacturing a "free market" decision? If so, by whom? (I think there's a point here.)

re: "almost insurmountable". Emphasis on almost.

If there is a way, or any glimpses of a way, it seems to me incumbent upon people who see this way to share it.

Perhaps there is.

Alan Drake and I were talking about this very point today.

The behavior we see regarding the Canadian tar sands is something Alan characterizes as "maximum commercial effort". There is a profit motive and they're sticking just as much steel, wood, tools, workers, etc, as they reasonable can into the area.

What we are in need of is a wartime effort. Our landing craft for D Day were built largely in New Orleans. They blocked off sections of street for open air boat fabrication, the restaurants delivered meals, and the street lights were modified to favor the flow of deliveries to the production lines. Imminent domain was applied on a temporary basis to various aspects of life in the city.

We're churning out millions of cars a year. Those plants need to be closed immediately and refitted for wind turbine construction. I realize that puts a big slice of the 10% of our population involved in vehicle sales and maintenance out of work.

We're running diesel locomotives. We need immediate changes to rules and efforts so that the process of converting to electrified rail moves forward. This is more important than any housing subdivision power line construction.

I have less of a sense of what to do with solar so I will leave the details of this to someone better versed in what is reasonable to do at once. Hydro is easier but again since I do not have this in my geographic area I defer to those who know.

Conservation is a must. The unemployed must be kept busy. A study should be done by every municipality - energy use per square foot in inhabited homes. The most wasteful should get trained workers to go over them looking for things to improve. Those will be from the ranks of the unemployed. This should go on until we've plugged every leak, replaced every incandescent bulb, and trenched(by hand) and buried the lines for ground loop HVAC.

We're in the fight of our lives and its about time we started acting like it.

And what do you think it would take to get from where we are now to what you have described?

A new president

I hate to say it, but another Katrina sized and sourced wallop - nothing from the outside, its gotta be natural, and then a president and congress who will move.

Today I can not decide which color I hate more, red, or blue, but I'd like to turn the behinds of both side of the aisle purple with a good swift kicks.


On this point, I differ. All my experience teaches me differently.

re: "another Katrina sized and sourced wallop"

It's, perhaps, the "hitting bottom" argument - is this what you're thinking? Or, do I misinterpret?

My experience is quite the opposite.

People change when they have some emotional support and the means (emotional and physical) to change.

Increase the stress-ors, and usually people revert to old - not necessarily healthy - ways of dealing with stress. (Eg., Unemployment rises, and so does child abuse.)

Some desirable goal requires a living example, is more how I've seen it work.

The "wallop" can be exploited, just as Katrina and 9/11 were.

People respond positively when they have the concept (how to) and the means (how to).

(eg., I'm aware of Alan's disappointment, still also aware personally of dozens of people who were doing all they could do from a great distance to help. And still do.)

This is all to say: I have a view that the kind of changes we want to see are not best brought about by some misfortune. Rather, by building on something positive, in the way of example and means.

(Which is why I'll again nominate you and Alan :))

Thanks for responding (though I'm back late to this discussion). I'm so glad you and Alan are talking. I just want to encourage you to continue...

re: "We're churning out millions of cars a year. Those plants need to be closed immediately and refitted for wind turbine construction. I realize that puts a big slice of the 10% of our population involved in vehicle sales and maintenance out of work."

For example, (may I be so bold as to suggest...)-

Some kind of analytical work-up - "how to" do this. Cost, timetable, results. I even heard on the radio (that's MSM radio, probably CNN news or something) that Toyota is outselling GM now.

The receiver/consumer end also has to be dealt with in this analysis; eg., who will purchase these wind turbines and/or how will their actual placement be implemented?

Put this in the plan. I think it doesn't really matter if "the plan" is perfect or not. Having one is a form of leadership, and we all agree that's what we need (and I nominate you and Alan, for starters :)).

Or, at least give potential leaders something to pick up and wave in their hands.

re: "a big slice of the 10% of our population involved in vehicle sales and maintenance out of work."

Can you deal with this in the plan?

Somehow the turbines need to be put in place, then maintained. Bicycles and street improvements WRT same, as well.

Also, I keep thinking back to the JHK discussion of Orlov's book and the idea that Soviet citizen housing was owned by the state, so that people stayed put. I don't know what the fix is - just that it seems to me, if we could address housing, this addresses something major.

Otherwise, it looks like (IMVHO) we're in for what amounts to a really senseless, wasteful destruction of a major part of housing stock,(i.e., eviction>abandonment>deterioration>destruction) simply to maintain the current so-called "free market" paradigm of ownership (which is not really ownership, in a sense).

Not to mention the equally senselessly negative effect on people (esp children) when rendered "house-less" (to quote one of my favorite people who refuses to use the word "homeless").

re: "We're running diesel locomotives. We need immediate changes to rules and efforts so that the process of converting to electrified rail moves forward. This is more important than any housing subdivision power line construction."

Absolutely it is.

I just would encourage you - something that is thought-out and written up is perhaps easier to spread around and deal with.

Thanks, again.

We're going to have to go at peak oil just like we went at WWII.

The argument was made here on TOD that without the flow of US oil from Texas, WWII would have went a different way.

The oil produced and used in WWII was important to how the war turned out.

Yes, we had quite the FF binge for WW II. I meant that we needed the level of commitment and shared sacrifice that we had then.

9/11 was a chance to lead everyone in that direction and Bush squandered it.

Bush squandered it.

Somehow I don't think he sees things that way. If the family and friends made their money, how can that be a squander?

Living like most organisms on Earth, within a solar budget, will not be a simple transition. But it can be made. We will have to scramble. Our current monopolized, centralized systems will not likely adapt.

California's Energy Commission recently recommended adopting Germany's free-market Feed-in-Tariffs (anyone can make a small profit by selling renewable power to the grid).

In the last 5 years California's centralized approach to renewable power generation resulted in 242 MW. Last year Germany's decentralized approach made operational 4,000 MW. California's Energy Commission is doing what is working.

Hi Bill,

This looks good.

What is the next step to get this in to the real world? (insofar as CA is part of the real world :))

Sure, but costs skyrocket for a very much simpler reason- until you do it, you can't even guess what the whole job is gonna be. It's easy to do a prototype, easy to put one out in the desert and have it work just fine, but not as easy to make your widgets for a bottom buck and then have them work month after month without all those highly skilled guys from back in the lab clucking around night and day.

Think of all the crappy weapons we cranked out in 1940, and how fast we got sort of good at making better weapons better. Learn by doing. So just go do it.

Look at what the Germans did with the ME 262- if they hadn't been hamstrung by Hitler, they would have put the Eighth AF totally out of business, and a lot of geezers tottering around here today would have long since been pushing daisies in Deutschland.

I am looking at a solar thermal prototype right now that the computer says has 43% thermal efficiency at moderate temperatures. I believe the computer. But I also know the train of efficiencies I have to multiply together to get some realistic final number-- below 30% at absolute best. But this thing is just iron, not an atom of anything exotic in the least. It IS possible, dawggonnit! What is the trouble with us that we don't do it? A hell of a lot more fun that racing NASCARS, and takes no more brains, or maybe even less.

PS. I know a lot of people out of work making cars who would be totally thrilled to do solar thermal. And they would be mighty good at it, too.

Germans had a prototype bomber to strike faraway targets like New York City, too.

Any links for low tech solar thermal? There are a gajillion designs out there for gasifiers and distillers but I've not come across one for ST. Would be keen if it became a grassroots garage shop movement.

Ok, you can do low temp ocean organic rankine cycles. Good solar water heaters get better temps than the OTEC's, so there you are. Just find the right expander and you are in business. Think of rotating AC compressor, for starters. I would love to try this one myself, but already have too many half done great ideas lying around- hard to walk thru my shop.

Would be better to have a really big roof to try this one on. Wallmart, anyone?

Hey! How about this- just use the vapor to drive a liquid jet pump, then a liquid turbine-alternator. There it is! Lousy efficiency, but cheap, and anyone can make one. Liquid storage makes it 24hrs/day power. Feel free to steal this great idea and put your own name on it.

Would probably be wise to choose a non-toxic working fluid-- unless you happen to be trying to solve the population problem simultaneously.

Budget Cuts Will Mean Layoffs at Fermilab

The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, the nation’s premier center for plumbing the mysteries of the universe in the tiniest bits of matter, is planning to lay off more than 10 percent of its employees in the coming months, the result of impending budget cuts mandated by the spending bill passed by Congress this week.

I fear science funding will be one of the first victims of peak oil.

Except military-related science, of course.

And that's what keeps getting me here.

And it's not just here.

It's like we're pretending that the decisions have not
been made already.

Katrina, Kosovo, Iraq, should be disabusing all of that.

Why are TPTB not investing in "green energy"?

Why are they investing in armaments?

Shock Doctrine is why. Fortresses are being built.

The Arctic is screaming that we have left the Holocene.

"As the pace of global warming kicks into overdrive, the hollow optimism of climate activists, along with the desperate responses of some of the world's most prominent climate scientists, is preventing us from focusing on the survival requirements of the human enterprise.

The environmental establishment continues to peddle the notion that we can solve the climate problem.

We can't.

We have failed to meet nature's deadline. In the next few years, this world will experience progressively more ominous and destabilizing changes."


Like Atlanta being evac'd the second week of February.

Watch the aquarium story there.

Ha, you're joking. Defence science funding has been dropping in parallel with other science spending.

From Clark's article:

...like a lot of economic hurt, but put it in context. Our income would still be above the current living standards in Canada, Sweden or England.

That doesn't make any sense. I find it interesting that he clearly went so far out of his way to avoid making sense. He could have written "Our living standards would still be above the current living standards" but he chose not to. When every tree is cut down our income will still be above the current living standards? Economists. Can't we send this sort all to Iraq? Oh, wait...

cfm in Gray, ME

Prime Minister Harper references peak oil.


In yesterday's appearence on a CTV interview Harper said "The world is facing long term hydrocarbon shortage, in my judgement, and a transision to a different energy mix mix is going to be essential for our economies."

Can't be much clearer than that. What is interesting is either the comment went over the heads of the hosts, or they didn't want to pursue that comment further as they wanted to take Harper to task over Canada's stance at Bali.

Seems clear enough to me that peak oil is well understood in governments and don't want to panic the public so they are working behind the scenes.

Yeah...I know the guy that briefed him.

Many more know that let on.

Interesting that it was referenced in that way thou.

Really. Interesting. Who was that? Was the opposition party leaders also briefed?

Where Boys Were Kings, a Shift Toward Baby Girls

SEOUL, South Korea — When Park He-ran was a young mother, other women would approach her to ask what her secret was. She had given birth to three boys in a row at a time when South Korean women considered it their paramount duty to bear a son.

Ms. Park, a 61-year-old newspaper executive, gets a different reaction today. “When I tell people I have three sons and no daughter, they say they are sorry for my misfortune,” she said. “Within a generation, I have turned from the luckiest woman possible to a pitiful mother.”

Maybe there's hope for China yet.

"Maybe there's hope for China yet."

Why? Dudes can't pump out babies. More girls, more babies, higher population, overshoot, collapse...?

Yeah, but a lot of people here were predicting that China would go to war or some such thing, to keep all those unmarried men occupied.

No Joke, Bulb Change Is Challenge for U.S.

Manufacturers are putting a lot of stock in light-emitting diodes — or L.E.D.’s. They operate with chips made of nontoxic materials and last for about 50,000 hours, compared with 1,000 hours for an incandescent and 6,000 for a compact fluorescent. A tiny L.E.D. can shed as much light as a cumbersome bulb, which makes them easier to integrate into a home’s décor. And, they are extremely energy efficient.

But today, they are too expensive to use for all lighting applications. And, while manufacturers are able to make pretty good colored L.E.D.’s — the kind that are already available for Christmas tree lights — they have yet to perfect a white L.E.D. that would be useful for lighting homes.

[The emphasis is mine.] I suppose the status of LEDs is all in the eye of the beholder, and who they are beholden to.

I know white LEDs exist because I live** in a white LED environment, and the lighting is quite sufficient. There are already white LEDs available, and they are being used in homes, though not in sufficient quantity.

Yes, they are expensive at this time, just as CFLs were more expensive a few years ago. And there are too few products available that fit easily into a standard stick home. But what is being done today with LEDs provides direction on what the industry should do. But even today, given their much longer life (x100) and much reduced energy usage (1/6th) than incandescents, LEDs are already a viable alternative.

**To be honest, I should explain my life. I live in an RV which has a 12volt DC system that powers all the lights. So my home environment is more LED friendly than those of my friends with stick homes. LEDs are "native" direct current, low voltage devices. It takes some kind of conversion to go from 120volts AC to DC, and that cuts a little into the efficiency, but it is being done. For my rooted friends I use a small plug-in transformer (120vac to 12vdc) that draws less than 1 amp to light a string of LEDs sufficient to light a living room.

And BTW, LED lights go a long way to making solar power a great alternative.

So if you really want efficient lighting, use LEDs. Push on your supplier to provide good LED products, and as the usage ramps up, the prices will come down.

Sam Penny
the Prudent RVer

Lighting is currently about the least of our problems.

In western economies very little oil is used to generate electricity - we phased that out very rapidly in the 1970s, which is why the slope of the demand curve for oil fell to about the 2% per year for ongoing BAU growth - we now only use oil for things where there is no adequate alternative. But, historically, we must use more if we are to grow economically.

The only currently valid alternative to crude oil in OECD countries is synthetic oil made from things like tar, coal, corn and sugarcane and we are struggling to increase the volumes at the rate required.

The problem for all 'net importer' countries post peak crude-oil is that, as now, there won't be enough 'alternative oil' to support BAU growth.

The current evidence is that world production of 'all liquids' oil has been flat for nearly three years now and the volumes of 'net exports' available have actually been falling during this time - implying world growth must be at best level, not growing.

So it is no surprise that our fiat money systems which must have growth to be viable (since they are no longer backed by gold or even a cash fraction of the oustanding debt) are now stuttering. It doesn't matter if they shore up the sub-prime CDO mess, we simply will not have the growing energy supply to grow the economy post peak-oil.

I don't know what the future will be but it won't be business as usual - so I doubt there will be much of a place for high tech things like LEDs.

Lighting is currently about the least of our problems.

Beg to differ with you, X. Last year the IEA did a study as reported in Physorg.com

First global lighting study is released

where they stated

"Nineteen percent of global electricity generation is taken for lighting. That's more than is produced by hydro or nuclear stations, and about the same that's produced from natural gas."

About half of that energy could be saved (and yet produce the same number of lumens) by going to more efficient CFLs, and over 80% of the total could be saved by using LEDs exclusively (not considering the conversion costs). My point is that CFLs do help, but LEDs are even better, and they don't have the Mercury disposal problem. If you can find them, use them.

Now if you want to cry in your beer that the world is doomed, and focus on problems rather than look for solutions, go ahead. But I am looking for ways for me and my family to survive when TSHTF and when not only liquid fuel but the electrical grid start to become unreliable and I have to rely on my bicycle, feet, and solar. [pardon that flame -- I know it is easy to go depressed over the coming years]

Look, the world's transport system, and the food system, and a lot of other things are going into the toilet. I agree that is happening, and I honestly don't see any way to prevent it. Maybe LEDs are too high-tech to have a chance to remain an effective force for very long, but CFLs are just about as high-tech, and even making an incandescent lightbulb requires lots of energy and engineering. But right now I believe people should be thinking about getting through the next five to ten years as things turn sour. What can be found right now that will be usable in that time frame and help a person survive? I plan to push LEDs for lighting as long as they are being made.

I am an "old fart" who, like Ron Patterson, hopes to be "safely dead" before things really go entirely bad. But I do worry about the survival of my three generations of off-spring. I figure you are about the age of one of those off-spring, and I hope you and others like you find a way to carry the human race on.

Sam Penny
the Prudent RVer

I hope for the best but I am also known for being less optimistic than most (what I call being realistic) - but, and this is the important bit, I proved over a 33 year working life that my problem analysis is mostly correct (eventually) and very senior management realised it and paid me to use that skill (paid enough so that I could comfortably retire at 55).

The world we live in is very complex but there are, as in all complex systems, underlying simple (if inconvienient)truths.

The first stage of future sucess depends on recocgnising that a problem exists, the next step is to fix the problem, then finally eliminate the cause. It seems from my research that most Governments do not even recognise the problem of peak oil - so we don't yet even get to first base on that one.

IMO the world isn't necessarily doomed, 5,000,000,000 people manage without a car today, so can we. But the world will be very different and we will need to use all our available resources in the most efficient way! We can't afford to waste resources on 'blind alleys'.

I expect our lifestyles to go back to how it was back around 1900 (and I am medium term planning on that basis) I come to this conclusion by eliminating things that will not be available/affordable - no cars, no aeroplanes, no central heating, no holidays in far flung places, no oil, no gas, some coal for chemicals - so, a simpler agricultural village life but with tractors instead of draught animals and windmills for power which will likely only be for food preparation and simple, cheap, low tech lighting - heat and light from the same low cost, easy to make and maintain, device (no specialist repair man required).

There is much talk of solar power and other alternatives here, but where I live (51 degrees North) most of the domestic energy is either used for transport or heating in the house - passive solar is practically of no use to me this time of year, but it does heat the water enough for the family to have hot showers in the summer.

Any calculations of the cost of solar power need to first know the total primary supply required - for most families in the OECD it is measured in several (tens?) kilowatt hours per day (especially if you are going to run one or more electric car(s) off it as well) - then calculate the area of panels, the amount of storage required and the upfront costs.

Most people in the world will be surprised to find that the numbers are unfeasably large. i.e. sadly, it's not a viable solution that would permit many of us in the OECD to live as we do now.

There is much talk of solar power and other alternatives here, but where I live (51 degrees North) most of the domestic energy is either used for transport or heating in the house - passive solar is practically of no use to me this time of year, but it does heat the water enough for the family to have hot showers in the summer.

You should check out some of Revi's posts at PO.com. He lives in Maine and has done some impressive things with passive solar.

""They're at a disagreeable level," the 54-year-old Dearborn, Mich., resident said this week as he spent more than $40 to fill up his Ford Explorer Sport.

But gas prices have not risen enough to get him to change his driving habits or consider a smaller vehicle, said Schuster, who works on computer and pool equipment."

I hate these people who whine and then continue to live just the way they've been living. it can't be that much of a burden if you won't change.

Interesting article about what it was like in the UK in 1947. The war was over, the food shortages weren't.

Deck the halls with bread and lard

'Our rations now are 1oz bacon per week - 3lb potatoes - 2oz butter - 3oz marge - 1oz cooking fat - 2oz cheese & 1s meat - 1lb jam or marmalade per month - ½lb bread per day,' wrote a Wembley housewife, Rose Uttin, at the start of December. 'We could be worse,' she added broadmindedly, 'but we should be a lot better considering we won the war. The only consolation: no air raids to worry us.'

There were still strikes in France - nothing much changes. :-)

By the way, we had no fuel for two days at the two nearest petrol stations to me. I spoke to the driver delivering to Sainsbury's with an unmarked tanker (he was wearing a smart BP uniform though!) He claimed that the 'shortages' should be getting to an end now - the causes? - fire at Coryton and fuel protest demos.

Have any other UK residents had fuel outages this week, or even heard about fuel problems on the news? ... and what went on in Italy last week - and again no mention on the UK Tv news or in newspapers? An MSM news blackout ... or have I just missed it?

I've posted several articles about it over the past 2-3 days. Like this one.

Near as I can tell, it's more panic over the fuel protests than the actual protests. Everyone rushed to fill up, and that caused the very shortages they feared. And once word of shortages got around, that only made it worse.

Thanks Leanan,

The East Anglian Daily Times is a local newspaper - so the story can't be covered up if people can see it with their own eyes! - but it hasn't been on national media to my knowledge.

It's interesting that some blame the fire in October for shortages now - and others deny shortages (even though I've seen them often recently with my own lying eyes!)


Timeline of rationing

At around 1916 in the First World War, Germany started using its U-boats (submarines) in order to sink the ships - many of which were American - that were bringing food to the country and starve Britain into surrender. In about two years, Britain had just six weeks food left and, therefore, had to ration its food supplies.

On January 8, 1940, bacon, butter and sugar were rationed. This was followed by meat, tea, jam, biscuits, breakfast cereals, cheese, eggs, milk and canned fruit. One of the few foods not rationed were fish and chips. Strict rationing caused many people to buy food on the black market; however people were often tricked with cheaper substitutes such as horsemeat instead of beef.[citation needed]

As the war progressed, most kinds of food came to be rationed, as were clothing and petrol. Clothing was rationed on a points system. Initially the allowance was for approximately one new outfit per year; as the war progressed the points were reduced to the point where the purchase of a coat constituted almost an entire year's clothing.

Rationing continued after the end of the war. In fact, it became stricter after the end of the war than it had been during it. Bread, which was not rationed during the war, was rationed beginning in 1946. This was largely due to the necessity of feeding the population of European areas coming under Allied control, whose economies had been devastated by the fighting. Sweet rationing ended in February 1953, and sugar rationing ended in September of that year. The final end of all rationing did not come until 1954 with bananas. Some of the ersatz foods like apple crumble and carrot cake continue to be popular today.

RE: 'The Oil' A Slick Account Of The World Of Geopolitics...

I went to the site 'Mercury News.com' to attempt to read (the review?) of Levines book. When I found that I must sign in and that 'my computer had to accept cookies', I declined.

I would like to see a synopsis of Mr Levines book for this is a subject that interests me. But, I will await the arrival of Mr Levines book at our county library system.

Anyone wishing to see my 'synopsis' of what is going on in the Stans can find it at the bottom of yesterdays TOD Drumbeat.

In a nutshell, time, logistics, the US economy, and intelligent geopolitical thinkers are not on our side in the battle to control FF production and distribution in the Stans. Going up against Putin and Chinese thinkers with shrub and company is akin to pitting a little league team against the NY Yankees.

An awful lot of news sites require free registration these days, including the NY Times, LA Times, and Washington Post. If you're worried about privacy, use BugMeNot.

Leanan, thanks but I will not register at most sites, free or not. It is not privacy that concerns me but the load of cookies that I do not want installed on my computer.

Merry xmas and thanks again for your efforts at TOD.

Refcontrol to handle the referrer prying.
CookieSafe to manage cookies.

Both do a very good job of protecting your privacy.

I have heard though that Cookie Safe won't handle Java attempts and that another proggie would. I have't tried the other one yet but intend to.

If they ask for an email addr I use www.mailinator.com
Good for only a short time so you stop all would be spam they intend for you.

The top two are browser plugins.
Mailinator does not require a download.Its a disposable email acct that lasts just long enough to get the job done.

I have been using all three for a long time with zero problems.

Some cookies are needed since they are needed for session control, other than that you can control their lifespan or set up exception lists...like for TOD.

Thanks Airdale, and Merry Xmas to you.

Cookies don't take up much space. They are just tiny text files. It's pretty hard to do anything on the net these days without cookies. Even TOD requires them.

And you can delete them whenever you want. I used to delete them all every once in awhile, but these days, I'm too lazy. I like being able to access web sites without logging in each time. I only delete cookies now if there's some kind of problem.

Seasons Greetings from SacredCowTipper(left) and AlanfromBigEasy(right, note hot sauce) :-)


Hippy Hollowdaze to all - My open invite of free soup for any TODers still stands. Served two so far. Just say Hi I'm a TODer!

(can't tell for sure but that hot sauce doesn't look like it came from Avery Isl. traitor Alan, tisk tisk)

P.S. meet with some Nuclear Engineers from the Program here at OSU (oregon) and they tell me the program is very well funded and attended. Some pretty sharp cookies about to be released on the world.

Best hopes for plenty of projects to employ themin.

The hot sauce came from California (not very good BTW) but it was all they had in Georgetown KY.

I prefer Crystal (pre-K made in New Orleans). They had a billboard as teh exhaust for their steam pipes. On a cold day true steam would rise from the pot :-)

Also Panola, made in rural North Louisana.

Hope to take you up one day on that free soup (I had potato soup_.

Best Hopes for Good Soup on Cold Days post-Peak Oil,


Alan, a brand used a lot among my buds is named 'Pure Hell'...Its so damn hot that if you use too much you will not taste the flavor. In fact, you wont taste anything for several hours. This stuff won 'best hot sauce' at the 1994 fiery food challenge...so the maker claims. I use a bit of it in the sauce of my 'Mexican Quail' recipe and everyone likes it. Iced Dos Eques is a good brew to serve with the quail. If quail are not available cornish game hens would probably work. Here is a site to order if you are interested. I am going to order a couple of bottles of the 'colon cleaner' brand to test out.


I also make my own 'house brand' hot sauce from habanero chillies grown locally by our Mexican friends...habaneros are pretty snappy. Another treat that I make is a quart mason jars of habaneros pickeled in vinegar and delivered, free of charge, to several local biker bars. The locals have built up a tolerance for them but visiting bikers are usually left red faced, sweating, and guzzeling several cold brews to try to bring the fire under control. I have yet to see anyone, Mexicans excepted, eat a habanero without popping a few beads of sweat.

Hot sauce (IMO) should add flavor and not excessive heat. Habaneros are for neophytes, all heat, no flavor.

In proper proportions, hot sauce is like sandpaper for th palate. Lightly touch sand paper to your arm, and it will be much more sensitive to touch. Rub it hard and you can feel nothing but pain. In proper proportions hot sauce can enhance a range of other flavors, or it can inflict numbing pain.

Best Hopes for Fine Food,


Gee, thanks for the lecture...too bad I dont know spit from shinola. Next time I am making a wonderful dish I will be sure to consult you on how much sandpaper to add.

You know Alan, talking down to people, children or adults, never works. Think about it.

My apologies for the tone !

I just do not see eating things so hot that they bring beads of sweat as being about fine food, flavor and taste, but something else.



Alan, no blood, no foul! You probably did not understand that the habaneros are a pratical joke at local biker bars and sort of a rite-of-passage for visiting bikers. No bikers have succumbed to this humor...Yet. :) Once, when visiting a biker bar in Costal Maine I got a similar treatment with raw clams in a very hot vinegar sauce served in a mason jar. Its just biker humor.

I use 'Pure Hell' in moderation when cooking but as a lifetime lover of Mexican food I have come to like it a bit hot...but not numbing. You have probably forgotten that I am originally from La and grew up eating a variety of spicy Cajun dishes. Even my shrimp etouffee is a bit spicy.

If you visit the site that I provided you will find that Pure Hell has a number of foods, including pineapple, in the list of ingredients. It is a great sauce in my estimation.

I think you're off the mark about habaneros. They have a great flavor! Obviously you can't just eat them straight.

Thanks for respondevouxing Alan.

Have not tried Panola but will work on it.

Some soups simply beg for the sauce and I always provide at least a dozen or so to choose from.

P.S. (though P.S. seems incorrect/inaccurate in this age of tapping out words on the laptop but nothing comes to mind yet, post tapping? post posting?) I often steer college students to your work when asked about future employment. Many have since expressed great interest in rail.

eggnogg & sarcanol cheers to all!

Also Panola, made in rural North Louisana.

I lived on Panola St. in Asheville, NC for many years. Had a bottle of Panola hot sauce on my shelf, gift from a buddy who went to Louisiana to catch redfish. He showed me how real blackening was done.

Did a little Googling and, according to one source, 'panola' was a Native American word for cotton. Good sauce, was also a good neighborhood. We got to calling it 'Granola' Street. You can probably get the picture...

Re. these postings about Cuba. All it's problems are due to the communist system. After all Cuba produces huge ammounts of suger cane, which it should be able to convert in to gasahol, a la Brazil. It shoulden't be short of fuel, unless the shortage was engineered by the regime to keep the people to helpless to rebel.

Wxman...If you attribute Cubas failures to the communist system do you attribute Chinas successes to the communist system? :)

China's success is entirely on account of those parts of the economy that are no longer run by the state. There are still state run factories, but that is the part of the economy that sucks in endless loans from banks, and these banks are therefore carrying enormous losses on their books.

Cuba could easily copy china's success by taking the capitalist road, but castro much prefers universal poverty over china's solution of a rich class, a prosperous middle class, and a poor class.

Deng, the last emperor, let most of china loose from the crushing grip of communism with the phrase, 'if the cat catches a mouse in the dark, what does it matter whether it is white or black?' As an aside, while Mao is mostly ignored these days, Deng and his legacy are revered, his shift to the capitalistic road widely credited by the chinese for their current growth and prominence... he did not just select his successor, Jiang, but also Jiang's replacement, Hu.

JK: Yes, but the thing is China is using the capitalist road to advance the economy of the nation as a whole. The USA is currently transitioning to a parasitic form of capitalism whereby the nation is bled to advance the agenda of a relatively small % of the population, a style practised for decades in countries such as Mexico and Argentina.

BrianT, very succinct and very well put. I had not considered the similarity of what passes for capitalisim in the US today with the Mexican and Argentianian versions. Thanks

...and Merry Xmas!

Thanks and Merry Xmas to you.

That's just plain BS!

Hey HankF,

Care to elucidate ??

Go down there and start up a business and then come back and talk to me.

If your daddy don’t run the show you are on the end of a hoe, and that’s one with a long wooden handle.

Why do you suppose they are all coming up here and starting a business. They know how to work they don’t sit on a computer and bitch all day long when they are supposed to be doing something usefull.

Having lived extensively in all three places I can assure you that there is no similarity at all between them.

Chinese success is just taking over western production and pollution to Asia, accepting virtually slave labour conditions and the destruction of theri environment for short term gains or riches in terms of plastic garbage and speculative cash for the few.

The crash will be as big as the boom has been. Then comes the payoff in terms of starvation, civil war, etc. Typical Chinese cycle:


Interesting overview in terms of historical cycles and complexity leadign to reduced returns.

Just got back from Cuba a couple of days ago. In the area I was staying, the local sugar factory had recently shut down and all the employees laid off. The cause? Ironically, given your question, high oil prices had made the plant uneconomical.

I got this message on another site. My answer was basically "crap". Somebody have more articulate response?

You know that I have never believed the Peak Oil theory.As I have said on numerous occasions,I believe that the whole world is helping to pay for the war in Iraq through the artificially high price of oil.
Give me your opinion on this.

Lindsey Williams Videos on the Nonexistent Oil/Energy 'Crisis'

[Editor's Note: I mention Lindsey Williams' revelations in a few articles on the phony "Peak Oil" scam promoted by CIA agent Michael Ruppert and the Highway Robber Barrons known as American Oil companies. Lindsey discovered from top oil company executives in the early 1970s, that there is enough oil under Gull Island alone (Prudhoe Bay, Alasaka) to meet all of the energy needs of the United States for the next 200 years. American oil companies had drilled and tapped Gull Island in 1973, yet they have not pumped one drop of oil out of those vast oil fields to send down the Alaskan pipeline to American consummers. It is one of the best kept secrets in the oil industry. There is no Energy Crisis. There are only government liars and oil company robber barrons deceiving us at every turn..Ken]

May 22, 2007

Lindsey Williams Videos on the Non-Existant Oil/Energy 'Crisis' (May 22, 2007)

Subject: "The Energy Non Crisis" by Lindsy Williams

Here is a collection of videos about the "The Energy Non Crisis" by Lindsey Williams. He also has a book out by the same name. Feel free to send this to friends and family.

1) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbakN7SLdbk

2) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGGjbDjnNzw&mode=related&search=

3) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q39ic04vhNo&mode=related&search=

4) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKCyCYz_aHY&mode=related&search=

5) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TYmSGwAumk&mode=related&search=

6) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbwMOvV6ctg&mode=related&search=

7) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5HGHsy3H_0&mode=related&search=

8) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CC61X78-OI0&mode=related&search=

I think I first posted about it.


But I believe I've seen it posted here since.

...snip...'Lindsey Williams was the chaplain for the construction crews that built the trans-Alaska pipe line, and was at Prudhoe Bay when Atlantic Richfield tapped into one of the largest oil fields in the world, but the field wasn't developed. I researched that story, and found a BP executive who confirmed the information'...snip...


Let me make sure that I have this straight...Lindsey Williams is/was a chaplain, saving souls among the workers on the Alaska Pipeline construction project but he has received inside information from an unnamed BP offical that Atlantic Richfield tapped into a huge oil field in Alaska but AR is keeping the find a secret from the American people? I wonder if Lindsey knows what is really going on in Area 51 and who really shot JFK??? Inquiring minds want to know. :)

The JFK shooting was an accident so it doesn't really matter who ...

It took the man exactly 10 seconds to convince me not to watch further. We are being controlled in every ways, including the toothbrush we use? Please..
Youtube and the internet in general, is quite fantastic. Everyone, including the most fantastic nutjobs, can reach out to the whole world.

I'm on dial-up. I didn't even bother to link them :>)

Thanks, peeples.
Merry Christmas to all

Mike da Rat

I got this message on another site. My answer was basically "crap". Somebody have more articulate response?

Entirely based on hearsay, and thus in all probability crap?

we've just barely tapped solar power, wind power, tidal power and geothermal. I may move to Icleand. the auto industry is starting to go towards higher MPG through hybrids and soon PHEVs/EVs. imagine a car made of solar panels.

I forgot to say that Amtrak ridership is up. the transition has begun thanks to a rise in prices, which is basic economics. no doom here.

Re river. China's success is due to China abandoning the communist system, at least in economics. The question remains why doesn't Cuba make use of it's sugar for energy.

Wxman...The following is from Wiki.


'The politics of the People's Republic of China take place in a framework of a single-party socialist republic. The leadership of the Communist Party is elected in the PRC Constitution. State power within the PRC is exercised through the Communist Party of China, the Central People's Government and their provincial and local counterparts.'...snip...'The ruling Communist Party committee at each level plays a large role in the selection of appropriate candidates for election to the local congress and to the higher levels'...snip...

China has not 'abandoned the communist system, at least in economics...' as you claim. The communist congress still meets and still makes plans for the future direction of China. There has been some movement to a market based system but make no mistake, the strings of power over the economy are still firmly in the hands of the Communist Party Congress. To wit, who do you think made the recent decision to cool the too rapidly expanding Chinese economy? The Chinese Communist Party has 63 million members, it is anything but a dead organization.

As for your question about 'why Cuba does not convert its sugar cane to ethanol' I suggest you take that up with Castro. Simply as a WAG I would say that Cuba is using its sugar cane crop to trade with Chavez for oil and much needed medical supplies that the US has embargoed...but I do not know that for a fact. Anyway, Chaves is providing a lot of oil for Cuba and they have good trade relations...both Cuba and Venesuela have proven that they dont want or need what the world bank and IMF euphamistically term 'free trade'...they emerging SA socialist leaning countries prefer 'fair trade', an entirely different concept and one that really ticks off the 'vampires of the north.' Shrubs idealogical based foreign policy continues to isolate us from the rest of the world. Too bad he decided to attempt expansion of empire when the days of empire are past. After watching the train wreck that is shrub and the neo-cons the most I am hoping for is a president that is fluent in English.

China's "success"? Their self-destruction? Rivers that don't reach the sea and can't irrigate the fields. Fisheries dead? A mile to water and water table falling?

cfm in Gray, ME, Successful US

RE China's 'success' needs to be kept in perspective. They are succeeding in totally trashing their country to well beyond recognition. How can this be termed success?

MILLIONS OF households could be hit by 15% price hikes in their energy bills next year, which could lead to the return of average bills in excess of £1000, experts warn.

PNM's request, as it stands now, would mean a 15.4 percent increase for residential rate payers, a 14.4 percent increase for small commercial users, an 11.6 percent increase for general commercial users, a 12.4 percent increase for large commercial users and a 13.4 percent increase for the largest commercial or industrial users, according to PNM.

We are trying to track.


Oil rose 2.5 percent on Dec. 21 after consultant Oil Movements predicted OPEC shipments in the four weeks to Jan. 5 will decline for the first time since August


Banks reach $33B debt deal

An agreement in principle to rescue about $33-billion worth of short-term debt has been reached, a group of investors working to solve the ills of troubled asset-backed commercial paper said Sunday.

Merrill Lynch secures $6.2B infusion

Merrill said it will receive a cash infusion from Singapore's Temasek Holdings and U.S. money manager Davis Selected Advisors. It also sold its commercial finance business to General Electric Co.'s finance arm for an undisclosed price.


Global banks have written down an estimated $105 billion this year alone from exposure to subprime loans and other debt commitments. And, that has caused a number of financial companies to secure deals involving infusions from state-owned investment funds – mostly from Asia and the Middle East.