DrumBeat: December 31, 2007

Kunstler: Forecast for 2008

One thing the public doesn't get about the housing debacle is that it is not just the low point in a regular cycle -- it is the end of the suburban phase of US history. We won't be building anymore of it, and those employed in its development will have to find something else to do. Now, unfortunately the whole point of the housing bubble was not really to put X-million people in so many vinyl and chipboard boxes, but rather to ramp up a suburban sprawl-building industry as a replacement for America's dwindling manufacturing economy. This stratagem ran into the implacable force of Peak Oil, which not only puts the schnitz on America's whole Happy Motoring / suburban nexus, but implies a pervasive trend for contraction in everything from the daily distances we can travel to the the very core idea of regular economic growth per se -- at least in the way we have understood it through the age of industrial capital.

Paul Maidment On Energy

The Misplaced Assumption

That high energy prices are stimulating real investment in new supply. There is less to the apparent surge in oil and gas investment in recent years than meets the eye. Drilling, material and personnel costs in the industry have soared, so that in real terms investment has been broadly flat since 2000. The back of the envelope calculation is that $20 trillion needs to be spent on energy-supply infrastructure of the next quarter-century.

Russia Intensifies Arctic Exploration

A year-long Russian mission to study the dynamics of Arctic ice is underway. Given Russia's claiming of the North Pole earlier this year, the results could have many political and economic consequences as they do political.

BP Texas City refinery to miss restart goal

Delays to the restart of a crude unit at BP Plc's (BP.L) Texas City, Texas, refinery will cause it to miss its goal of raising crude oil processing rates at the refinery to 400,000 barrels per day by the end of 2007, a source familiar with refinery operations said Monday.

The company now expects to reach the 400,000 bpd rate by mid-February and will ramp up to its full capacity of approximately 470,000 bpd by the middle of the second quarter of 2008, the industry source said.

Coal-to-Chemicals Projects Boom in China

For years China has been a magnet for the chemicals industry, attracting European and American companies with its cheap production costs and growing market.

Now China has another attraction for the energy-intense chemical industry: vast supplies of coal that can replace oil and natural gas as raw materials for chemical production.

China will tax grain exporters

China is to introduce taxes on grain exports in the latest attempt to rein in food-driven inflation that reached an 11-year high in November.

Exporters of 57 types of grain, including wheat, rice, corn and soya beans, will have to pay temporary taxes of between 5 and 25 per cent, the country’s Ministry of Finance said on Sunday.

Illegal logging concern rises with timber value

WHITESBURG, Ky. - The crime scene — a once-wooded landscape marked by tire tracks and tree stumps — makes the victim, Verna Potter, feel physically violated.

"It's just like someone cut your heart out," says the 77-year-old Potter, who lost an estimated $50,000 worth of generations-old oak trees, which were taken from her property and sold, without permission, while she was away.

Energy security and America

Energy security is a front-of-mind issue for the people of the world. We face the difficult fact that the current market environment is a tough one, and the energy industry is working hard to keep the energy flowing. The oil price is close to the real-term record set in 1979. Every geopolitical event causes a spike in the price, but these spikes only happen because the underlying market is itself tight. Strong demand is coming mostly from the developing world, led by China, and it is a lesser known fact that rising demand is also coming from oil and gas producing nations themselves, many of which are using their booming oil revenues to invest in their own economies.

Oil supplies have not already peaked. There are, at the very least, 40 years of proved oil reserves left, at current rates of production, and over 60 years of natural gas. Unfortunately, political and technical obstacles hinder bringing these reserves to market, and become more challenging all the time. For the medium term, the era of cheap energy is behind us.

Shanghai's first fuel store to cost $71 mln

Shanghai's first emergency fuel storage facility will cost 520 million yuan (71.2 million U.S. dollars) to build, nearly double the original budget, the Shanghai Chemical Industry Park said at the weekend.

...The project, to be built by the Bailian Group, will include 18 oil tanks with a combined storage capacity of 200,000 cubic meters. Some 30,000 tons of refined oil products, mainly diesel, will be stored, the equivalent of five to seven days of Shanghai's needs, ready to be used in the event of any disruption of supplies.

Islamabad residents witness another difficult day

The federal capital Sunday witnessed another hard day, as most people were unable to buy food or petrol, with most shops, fuel stations remaining closed.

Weekly bazaars, which are the main attraction for the residents of Islamabad to buy daily use items, were also not open, adding to hardships for the people.

Pakistan: Children on an empty stomach on empty streets

At a time when all the commerce in Karachi is facing a shutdown and there is an acute shortage of basic necessities in the city like food and fuel, no one is finding the going tougher than the street-children of Karachi.

Noodles, chips and biscuits make the main course for hostel-dwellers

“For the past one year, I have been living independently in an apartment in Clifton. I usually eat out and hardly keep any food at home. I even buy items like bread, eggs and milk on a day-to-day basis, depending on what I feel like eating.” Needless to say, Aslam was completely unprepared when Benazir Bhutto died and all he had in stock at home were packets of instant noodles and a few crackers.

“I did manage to buy a few food items from a nearby general store but even there, the choice was quite restricted as only a few items were available. All the shops are apparently running low on stock due to the closure of petrol pumps and the imminent threat of vandalism,” he said.

Nigeria: NLC Restates Opposition to Fuel Price Hike

President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Abdulwaheed Omar yesterday restated the labour union's opposition to plans by the Federal Government to increase the price of petroleum products in 2008.

Some ethical investments

Kunstler’s premise — what he calls the Long Emergency — is that our economy, fueled by cheap energy and over-extended credit, will eventually crash, taking Western civilization with it into a Dantean hell that will make Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road,” seem tame.

I decide not to share this with the Waterhouse guy, and I let him off the hook so he can daydream undisturbed of his mythic Fiji. Then I print out Kunstler’s benediction and give it to my wife so we can discuss our investment strategy from his sober perspective.

The new energy crisis

We are absolutely at a fork in the road with the energy requirements of this nation. At a time of phenomenal technological progress and unprecedented growth in onshore and offshore markets, leaders in the contract drilling business, and indeed throughout the entire energy industry, face crucial decisions.

What the Tar Sands Need

For each barrel of oil produced from the tar sands, between two and 4.5 barrels of water is needed. The water is used in the process of extracting bitumen from the naturally occurring the tar sand. The bitumen is later "upgraded" into synthetic crude oil.

In 2007, the government of Alberta approved the withdrawal of 119.5 billion gallons of water for tar sands extraction, of which an estimated 82 per cent came from the Athabasca River. Of that, extraction companies were only required to return 10 billion gallons to the river.

Divorce Is Easy in Cuba, but a Housing Shortage Makes Breaking Up Hard to Do

After 21 years of marriage, Pedro Llera and his wife, Maura, decided to call it quits. Their divorce took 20 minutes, but Mr. Llera compares what came next to “more than a year of open war in the house.”

Sleeping in the same bed and sharing a single room with their 14-year-old daughter, they battled in Cuba’s courts over who should stay in their second-floor, two-bedroom apartment in the Vedado district here.

Brazil's oil 'blessing' is no energy panacea

A recent report by the Acende Brasil Institute, a private sector energy think tank, warned that the shortage of gas and water could cause blackouts similar to those in 2001 and stunt growth and force up prices.

"We are going to be strongly dependent on rain in 2008," says Acende Brasil president Claudio Sales. "There will be an increasing risk of rationing."

US Stalks Gulf of Mexico Oil Wealth

Bush then said exactly: "We will strengthen our own energy security and shared prosperity of the world economy collaborating with our allies, trading partners and energy producers." Mexico gathers the three qualities mentioned by Bush: it is a political and ideological ally of the United States, trading partner in the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and traditional supplier of oil to the imperial nation.

The "collaboration" between the US and Mexico was established in the Alliance for Security and Prosperity of North America, also formed by Canada.

Bangladesh: Coal, not gas, dependable source of energy, Gas reserves exhaust by 2011, Serious energy crisis looming

The country's proven gas reserves of 8.39 TCF are likely to be exhausted by 2011 and the probable reserves of 13.6 TCF by the end of the year 2015, indicating the possible shutdown of 90 percent gas-run-power plants, demonstrating the looming of serious energy crisis if its substitute, coal, as energy is not extracted from the mines or new gas fields are not discovered.

Indonesia making headway on higher oil and gas production

Upstream oil and gas regulator BPMigas says it is upbeat about achieving next year's oil production target, although this year's output expectations will not be achieved.

BPMigas deputy chairman Abdul Muin said recently that next year's target of 1.034 million barrels of oil per day was achievable on the back of an expected increase in the production of the country's major oil producer, Chevron, and the coming onstream of new oil fields.

Vietnam: Ministry mulls fund to hedge spikes in petroleum prices

Importers of refined petroleum products would be required to contribute to a fund to hedge against volatility in global prices, under a draft regulation being circulated by the Ministry of Finance.

The director of the ministry’s Pricing Management Department, Nguyen Tien Thoa, said the regulation would mandate importers contribute a part of their profits to the fund during times when import petrol prices are low. When world prices climb, they would receive rebates from the fund in return for keeping a lid on domestic retail prices.

19 Reported Dead in Chinese Mine

Nineteen miners died in a coal mine blast in a northeast Chinese province -- the latest casualties in another deadly year in the world's most dangerous mines, state-run media said Monday.

An explosion rocked the Shunfa Coal Mine on Saturday and the bodies of the 19 miners were recovered after a two-day rescue operation, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Nose-to-Nose With Bill Richardson

The book concludes with the chapter "2020 Vision." Richardson pictures a world magically transformed by his policies. Energy efficiency soars while energy prices fall. Carbon levels in the atmosphere drop while alternative energy investments actually pay for themselves. Oil dependence becomes a thing of the past. America is loved and admired again as other countries follow in our greentastic path.

Does the Future Need a Legal Guardian?

Given the human tendency to favor current needs over future risks, some environmental and legal scholars are proposing that governments at various levels appoint a “legal guardian of future generations” to consider the impact of policy choices on citizens yet unborn.

Baggage Ban on Batteries Begins

To help reduce the risk of fires, air travelers will no longer be able to pack loose lithium batteries in checked luggage beginning Jan. 1, the Transportation Department said Friday.

...The Federal Aviation Administration has found that fire-protection systems in the cargo hold of passenger planes can't put out fires sparked in lithium batteries.

Oil above $96, eyes biggest gain this decade

Oil rose above $96 a barrel on Monday, heading for its biggest annual gain this decade as dwindling fuel stocks and growing concern over political turmoil offset the impact of a softening U.S. economy.

...With prices starting the year at around $61, oil is now up almost 58 percent. It hit an all-time high of $99.29 on November 21 as a falling U.S. dollar and thinning inventories stoked investor interest.

Oil's rally is entering its seventh year, more than quadrupling its market value of below $20 at the start of 2002.

If prices hold, they will register their best performance for a front-month contract since 1999, when oil prices more than doubled from a $10 low.

Peak Oil: A Crude Awakening

Ask most people, and they'll probably tell you global warming is our greatest global obstacle. Some will even say something like terrorism or illegal immigration. Frankly, I thought I was pretty damn clever spotting the global credit bubble, and believed it to be the greatest global crisis we'd face in our lifetimes (i.e., something on order of five times larger than the S&L crisis). Even if I'm right about that number, I'm far from being right about the significance of the event.

I rented a movie this weekend, A Crude Awakening (2006), from Netflix. You have to see it; it changed my thinking in 90 minutes.

New Zealand Green Party: Peak oil acknowledgement a breath of fresh air

The Green Party is welcoming Prime Minister Helen Clark's acknowledgement that the Earth may have already reached peak oil production or that this point is very near.

"Helen Clark is the first New Zealand Prime Minister to grasp this fundamental driver of our future, and I commend her for this. Still, New Zealanders continue to wait with bated breath for some real action on this issue," Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

BP critic writes to lawmakers on new Alaska incident

A boiler at BP PLC's Alaska oil and gas operations suffered a short mid-December, the latest of a string of incidents at the company's local operations, according to a letter written last week by a BP critic to U.S. lawmakers.

Kirkuk Oil Flow To Ceyhan Stopped; 5.15 Million Bbl Stored

Oil shipments through a pipeline from Iraq's Kirkuk oil fields into the Turkish Mediterranean export terminal Ceyhan halted Thursday night a local shipping agent said Monday, and haven't yet resumed.

For car sales, this year may mark worst in 10

Holiday discounts failed to bring consumers out of their funk, and December sales are expected to fall around 4 percent, which would bring the full-year total for U.S. auto sales to 16.1 million vehicles, the lowest volume since 1998.

Sales have been hurt by consumer anxiety over gas prices, the housing crunch and the overall weakening economy.

Uganda: New Strategy for Energy Crisis

The new strategy is tackling electricity demand head-on instead of the old approach of chasing demand forecasts from behind. This is through attracting local, foreign, public and private investors into the sector.

...Already the Norwegian firm, Jacobsen Electro AS, has started work at Namanve to build a 50MW heavy-fuel oil thermal plant that is expected to deliver power in August 2008.

Uganda's first local independent power producer, Electro-Max, will also build a 20MW heavy-duel oil thermal plant in Tororo. Initial power is expected in June next year.

All fired up

Joe Shear, owner and operator of Northeast Chimney in Poughkeepsie, said he has also seen a steady rise in people using wood to heat their homes since the year 2000, and a particularly significant increase over the last three years.

"I would say right now that probably almost 40 to 50 percent of the people that come through my showroom are looking for ways to cut fuel costs. Five years ago that figure was more like 10 to 15 percent. I think people are, some of them at least, just fed up. Some people that have the money are simply saying, 'No, I don't want to pay that cost.'"

New England can lead the new energy boom

AMERICA NEEDS to shake its dependence on foreign oil. Our entire economic infrastructure is built on cheap energy, and with oil prices touching $100 a barrel, it is clear how vulnerable we have become. The global oil extraction rate is approaching an all-time peak, and global warming is at the top of the international agenda. The world is looking to America for leadership and New England is leading the nation.

Peak Indium and the Solar Power Industry

Indium, which is used by Nanosolar for instance, is expected to run out in 10 years (according to the following article). The article talks about research on a possible substitute, graphene.

New Material Promises to Save LCD, Solar Power Industry

It sounds like the death knell of the solar power industry -- shrinking Earth supplies of indium, which experts estimate will only last for another decade. Facing its darkest hour, a new breakthrough by researchers at Germany's Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research holds the promise of saving the solar industry from an untimely demise.

Solar cells have always relied on the metal indium, due to its transparency, which is essential to light emission or absorption in electronics. Engineers also regard indium valuable in LCDs and other transparent electrical devices. However, indium is a relatively rare metal on Earth and existing supplies are rapidly dwindling. Researchers have frantically searched for transparent conducting materials to little avail.

One more rare material looks to be replaced by one of the most common, carbon.

As I've been saying for a while, when our needs can be satisfied with carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen (the CHON elements), there will be effectively no barrier to indefinite sustainability of technological civilization as long as the sun shines.

.... there will be effectively no barrier to indefinite sustainability of technological civilization as long as the sun shines.

So when is it that all our needs will be satisfied by CHON? Might want to hurry that one a little. Within ten years, if not sooner, climate tipping points may make sustainability a word of the past. That is, if it isn't already. That is, if the combination of technology and sustainability isn't the biggest oxymoron of all times to begin with.

Can we have a guarantee the CHON paradise will be established before 2018? If not, never mind, we've got more important things to do.

The production ramp will be fast. There is a lot of money to be made in converting the lifeblood of our economy from oil to ingenuity.

But, it will take time to ramp production and refine techniques.

The largest delay will come from de-monopolizing power generation and transportation. These are regulated monopolies with monolithic distribution rules. Most innovations profit by preempting waste with distributed collaborative distribution (Internet like). Innovations break the rules.

The technology and manufacturing can be addressed, maybe not without real hardship. Regulatory approval to innovate is a more desperate issue.

Regulatory approval to innovate is a more desperate issue.

Ya know - I used to think that but its a lot more cloudy then just deregulation - powerful groups have a mutual assured destruction pact with each other. The EV1 (flawed example I know but stay with me) altered a market too much for the vested markets (auto parts supply, oil change shops, oil companys ect...) for it to be accepted. The vested market alliance kept with the relationships it knew.

One of the reasons that IBM fell in influence was due to the desire for the mass market to want to have th evil empire to fall - it was a social background that created the realizations that empowered the market to move beyond the mainframe modal.

Even with innovations the ground is littered with the bodies of companys that had the right idea but fell because people did not have a connection that the innovators success was tied to there own destiny.

I guess what I am trying to say is the regulators are simply one part of a puzzle - a social realization that ones own prosperity is connected to the success of a new market configuration and then the new market needs to create products that capture the passion of the consumer in a non rational way - involve yourself in this market and you will prosper, do not and you will personally fall.

All the deregulation in the world cant ignite that passion within a person - and all of the digital theorizing in the universe amounts to a rain dance for a non existent reality.

I am still hopeful - but looks like we do not have too much time.

No, you can't have any guarantees. As they said in my High School Natural History class, 'The only thing constant is change.' But even without a contract written in granite, don't you think we should be looking into the many things we're discovering we can do with carbon? Hydrocarbons, and (CHON) Organic Chemistry in general?

Yes, his statement was also overly broad. 'No Barrier', indeed.

There are MANY important things to do, and MANY people that we have to keep busy if we are to get there. (Since we clearly can't stay here..)


I seem to remember Indium going for something like $100 an ounce and this was several years ago.

It might be now, where gold was a decade ago.

If it could be displaced by carbon, it would be. There must be applications that really call for it.

One I've heard of it, that it's used in low-temperature soldering, like of mil-spec stuff.

I've long said that high-tech stuff would soon devalue to where it's only worth its scrap value, but that it where high-tech equipment stands now. It's not repairable, it's quickly outdated, and its only value is in the gold, palladium, and stuff like indium that may be on the circuit boards and in the chips.

The minute human beings began chipping stone tools we became a technological species. Just prior to the invention of the steam engine, Europe had thousands of water wheels powering manufacturing machinery of various types. A nascent solar power industry also existed but was cut short by the realization stored solar power in the form of coal was more economical to exploit. Assuming that the human race survives the coming energy transition, there is not the remotest possibility that we will become a non-technological species. The key questions are:

1. What level of economic production can be sustained in post fossil fuel world containing 8 or 9 billion people?

2. How long can the world’s net economic productivity continue to increase?

It is not just the sustainability of solar PV that matters, but economic cost of delivering a net unit of energy, including the cost of compensating for the variable nature of the solar resource on both short and long time scales as dispatchable fossil fuel generation declines. Since China is still building coal fired power plants like crazy, it is clear that solar energy has a ways to go yet before it can match the economic quality of fossil fuels.

Furthermore, no matter how much solar energy technology improves in the future, it cannot enable the exponential expansion of our economic productivity forever. When the world’s net economic productivity stops increasing, then new ways of allocating production resources and more equitable means of distributing economic output will have to be developed if we hope to maintain a humane, democratic society. I believe that the dream of purely technological fix which will enable business as usual operation of the current economic system to the end of the century and beyond, will prove delusory.

...if we hope to maintain a humane, democratic society.

I would maintain that we (USA) do not have what qualifies as a humane and democratic society. We may have come close a few decades ago, but things have been decidedly downhill since the 'Reagan Revolution'.

The trends of wealth accumulation, poverty and injustice are plainly negative. At present we likely have available the most energy per-capita that will ever be available (some figure the peak of per-capita energy was passed ~1989). Given this, how are these trends likely to be reversed. How are we going to fix our deteriorating infrastructure, house our homeless, provide health care and education for all in a future with less energy available? Especially considering the extra energy that will be taken to make the post fossil-fuel transitions?

Optimistic back-of-envelope calculations will mean nothing until these negative trends are seen to be clearly on the mend.

I would maintain that we (USA) do not have what qualifies as a humane and democratic society.

I agree with the above comment. I should have said: 'If we hope to create and maintain a humane, democractic society'.

when our needs can be satisfied with carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen (the CHON elements), there will be effectively no barrier to indefinite sustainability..

The fly in the ointment here is the "H" or Hydrogen. There is no free hydrogen anywhere on earth. It takes more energy to extract hydrogen from water than you get when it is re-oxidized and becomes water again.

Just saying that these elements are out there and all our needs can be satisfied from them says nothing. Well, it says nothing to anyone with any knowledge of thermodynamics anyway.

But of course the solar rollers believe we can build thousands of square miles of solar panels and extract all the hydrogen we need from water. But all this is nothing more than a pipe dream. It is a little like fusion energy, fifty years in the future, and always will be.

Ron Patterson

Or bussard fusion which could be just a few years away:


I like how Ron is so positive about what the future will bring, doesn't think there is absolutely any chance he is wrong. Although I think new science and tech will save the future, even I know there's a chance that is wrong and things will go bad. I think my favorite quote of the year on the forums was "absolute statements amuse absolutly" can't remeber who wrote it, but very telling. There was also someone who had a great prediction from 1880 about NYC, where the guy predicted in 100 years NYC would be overrun by horse manure, pretty amusing. The point of all this? No one not even Ron can predict the future with 100% certainty, only a fool would believe so.

unfortunately other than Bussard (now gone) and those who are continuing his work, nobody who works in fusion seems to think it will work - I've spoken to a few physicists who work in fusion and none of them believe the Bussard type fusors are the way to go...not my area of expertise by a long shot, but doesn't make me hopeful that the (fusion) cavalry is going to ride in at the last minute and save us all...

I agree the future is quite unknowable - but I would argue that some truly awful "nasty, brutish and short" futures are included (and perhaps more likely?)

on the other hand Indium was supposedly as common as silver, so how could we have only 10 years left? (and it has not been a sought-after element for very long, unlike silver) - not sure I'm buying into peak Indium yet...

I can make an absolute prediction that I am certain is right - everyone of us is going to eventually die.

I can make an absolute prediction that I am certain is right - everyone of us is going to eventually die.

It's that "eventually" that's the tricky bit. . .

Are you aware that so far only about half of the people who ever reached the age of 1 have died?

Which just goes to show how much of the world's resources we must plunder to keep the current population alive and happy for the remainder of our natural lives...

Not a nice thought.

Are you aware that so far only about half of the people who ever reached the age of 1 have died?

Wrong! Not just wrong but terribly wrong. A quick google check of "How many people have ever lived on earth" brings up several estimates.

The total of the entries of the last column is about 2,402 billion person-years (2,402,000,000,000). If one divides by 25 as an estimate of average lifespan, one estimates that 96,100,000,000 people have lived on the earth. http://www.math.hawaii.edu/~ramsey/People.html


Number who have ever been born 106,456,367,669 http://www.prb.org/Articles/2002/HowManyPeopleHaveEverLivedonEarth.aspx

But of course it does not say how many of those 106 billion lived to reach the age of 1. But you can be sure it was far more than one in 30, the number it must be if half the people who reached the age of 1 are alive today.

So only 1 in 15 to 20 people who ever lived are alive today.

Ron Patterson

Yeah, estimates since agricultural development, are as high as 100 billion, but with much of the time in that 10,000 year period having infant mortality rates as high as 1 in 2, about 50 billion have reached 1 year old - so today it's about 1 in 8 people alive compared to the total who have reached 1 year...

Now, if you look at resource use, I would suspect that our resource use, for the people alive today, will far outweigh all the rest of human history.

AntiDoomer, your critique of my post can best be described as "whining". I posted my opinion that thousands of square miles of solar panels to generate hydrogen from water and save the world form peak oil was a dream, and like fusion energy, always somewhere in the future.

You replied with a URL that on the Bussard reactor that ended with this statement:

"Someday, they said, if they're right, a machine just 20 times bigger than the one sitting in the corner on Parkway Drive could run the city of Santa Fe."

Someday indeed! And I made no absolute declarations in my post. But I do believe that crude oil will begin its decline in five to ten years, perhaps less. And the fusion reactor that will solve all our problems is coming down the pike someday! We cannot wait for someday AntiDoomer.

If peak oil hits the economy hard, and I believe it will, research money will be the first to go, especially research money that only promises a "perhaps someday" reward.

Ron Patterson

One Glaring problem with fusion is how to extract energy from it. Half of the energy output of D-D fusion is fast neutrons which are extremely difficult to trap and convert into thermal energy. These fast neutrons also have a nasty habit of embrittling materials as well as transforming them into radioactive isotopes. Fusion has the radioactive madas touch. Everything in reach will become radioactive.

That's exactly the point for why Bussard's polywell fusion is potentially so interesting. He believed the machine would support Boron-proton fusion, which is a much much cleaner process.

One description of this:

Theoretical and experimental results suggest that this "polywell" approach to fusion can not only generate net power, but do it in a clean way, with no radioactive byproducts, using fuels (hydrogen and boron) that are abundant environmentally friendly.

For more details: (Should Google Go Nuclear?, Polywell, Aneutronic Fusion).

Thanks for posting that link. It's nice to hear that Bussard's polywell work is still progressing.


We researchers and engineers who churn out this miraculous stuff for you to brag about are dismayed by your lack of understanding.

Have you any idea what compromises and limitations we have to fight each day just to keep adding tiny refinements to existing technologies? And how long its been since anything 'revolutionary' has been discovered?

We're no longer plunging into the unknowns, full of undiscovered unpredictable new fangled things. That was over hundred years ago. Today we know rather well what might be possible. Rather we are like stuck in a small box of limits of laws of physics, tediously stretching our limbs for better positions, with ever diminishing returns...

But surely more money will create more innovation and release us from our troubles?

What do you mean by more money? Double my budget? Ten times the dimes I have? So a hundred times then. Ok, that'll buy me some latest equipment, hire a couple of research teams on projects I'd been keeping in the closet, and maybe a new building for them. Let's see ... no, you didn't even double my 'innovations'. And by the way, now I'll need that same or increasing amount of money every year from now on just to stay in place.

Money is linear but research subjects are infinitely exponential. Give me any amount of money, and I'll spread it out so thinly on all the possibilities that nobody will notice the difference. So you have to make choices. Not just ball park guesses but actually very specific and highly defined narrow projections on where it's worth placing the buck.

And then you go to work. You spend 5 years collaborating with your international colleagues to experimentally test some of the most likely projections. You end up with a candidate or two and spend your next 5 year's budget to make the experiments that define enough data to see some of the engineering limits of its applications. Then a venture capital firm jumps on some fruitful looking angle of your technology and you spend another 5 years waiting if they can get their shit together and make anything out of it. Oh, too expensive for the current market conditions? - damn, back to the drawing board. And so on and on...

So, you see, I find it hard to share your optimism. Perhaps you'd like to share with us your ideas and experiences on why we should think that after a hundred years, our modern, mature, pumped dry and streched to the limit -technology has the capacity left, or the time to deploy, solutions or even significant mitigations to problems like PO or GW?

Ransu, great post. I read it twice. I could not stop chuckling at your venting of your frustration. Of course I know it was not funny to you but nevertheless I could not stop laughing.

A far better rebuttal to TheAntiDoomer than I could ever give.

Thanks again.

Ron Patterson

ransu, great post - right about dead on what the less technocopian fusion researchers describe...

I know one fusion physicist who (quietly on the side) said to me that he sees societal collapse before we solve the engineering issues of fusion - I'm afraid his view is far closer to mine than the "we can mine helium 3 from the moon and run society forever!" camp....

the test reactor that they just groundbroke in France, I wonder if it will even be finished when budgetary problems hit? and that's a test, not adding anything to the grid at all...


The frustration is understandable.

While you're crying in your beer I'd like to hear how the unified theory of physics goes - since you implied it with "Rather we are like stuck in a small box of limits of laws of physics,"

Ah, did I? Well, may I then too assume you imply that the existance of water-proof unified theory is required before one is allowed to critically look at what can be achieved?

As for crying into my beer, may I be excused for doing so when surrounded by antidoomer people spouting silly nonsense without the slighest understanding or experience in experimental physics or real world engineering?

My point was the species is still learning the physics laws, so the box size is unknown ...and then there is that real world engineering ...that costs ...money.

Yeah, reality is a hard taskmaster !!

Ok, the box I was talking about is the conceptual frame, which consists of our understanding of physics, a frame you need in order design any kind of experiments in science or applications in engineering. We know this box well, we've been bouncing on its sides for long enough now, and its getting tight for us already. We see clearly all the walls and have measured the angles between them, so it sure looks like a box to us, inside of which we are stuck. Now, we cannot quite see if the seams join in the corners so there is some small uncertainty left, hence we can't make up our minds on the unified box theory yet...

Now, what you mean is well known - the limits have been discussed here on TOD many times. Your box is the reality. Specifically for us, at this time, this globe. With all our physics and chemistry books and datasheets full of statistics on ecology of populations, we just don't seem to 'get it'. As a species we're the kid in the classroom who slept during all the lessons when nature spoke of the rules and limits, which govern everything. Now we're sweating it out at the exam, trying to make up stuff in the answer sheet.

Re: "the conceptual frame,"

Thanks for the clarification.

This post explains exactly why I left the field of environmental ecology (entomology) and became a computer analyst for a private company. I decided the effort to succeed in science far outweighed the returns. I am glad that there are some folks left in the world with the stamina to keep up scientific effort, but it becomes more difficult every passing year. My tolerance for it all ran out after ten years.

I salute you and sympathize with your struggle. I decided to try for a more normal life...kids and a salary to support them.


Excellent post. A lot of intelligent folks still don't seem to 'get' either the time constraints this particular civilization is under or the Tainteresque diminishing returns on investment in complexity, which are huge at this point in mature fields.

I spoke with Bussard last year about his approach, not because I thought it would work, but because it was one of the few long-shot approaches which might not prove to be impossible, and if it wasn't impossible, it seemed to possibly have the characteristics which could allow it to be retrofitted into current systems in a reasonable time. (ITER-style tokamaks won't ever be built out significantly even if they work fine). In other words, a hail-mary pass.

In other words, a desperation move. We're down to desperation moves at this point. His work was funded by the Navy instead of by what I had in mind, which was fine by me. I'll be amazed if anything comes of it, but it'd be nice.

Anyone who thinks there are plenty of tech answers out there to human overshoot really, really, doesn't understand the problems.

Keep posting!

ITER-style tokamaks won't ever be built out significantly even if they work fine

Could you elaborate ?

Tritium can be breed over time.

Even if more costly than fission nukes, anti-nuke nations should be interested in them (Italy, Germany, Denmark, etc.)

Best Hopes for Fusion,


Disclaimer: I'm not a practicing physicist, or an expert in fusion. If I have any expertise - debatable - it's in visualizing a number of things simultaneously and not shrinking from what I see.

I think ITER-style tokamaks will function as advertised. I see no flaw in the theory; the physics are unremarkable and in many ways elegant. On an artistic level, I support it as an object of complex functional beauty.

My skepticism has everything to do with "receding horizons". Even if the thing cranks ahead on schedule, commercial versions are supposed to be designed by what, 2040? And the first one maybe built out by 2050? And how many of them do we need?

I'm afraid that once we get a couple of decades into the future, fiscal and geopolitical systems will be in a fair deal of chaos, for reasons frequently discussed here. "Just in time" supply chains, won't be. Impoverished and increasingly hungry/disgruntled populations may complicate things significantly.

Beyond that, though, I suspect that the falling EROEI will begin to qualititatively affect the level of complexity which is sustainable by a globe-girdling civilization. A high-tech masterpiece like a functional tokamak will require, by its nature, designing to the limits of alloying and fabrication technologies. Our current reality, in which nearly any element is available in a reasonable time at a reasonable price, is the output of the most complex evolved extractive system ever to exist, operating at its all-time peak efficiency. That evolved infrastructure is an integral part of things from tokamaks to space shuttles, they don't exist independently of it; and that infrastructure is changing in fundamental ways. It will not well tolerate or recover from hiatus.

Building rail is great precisely because it does NOT require the current infrastructural complexity.

Don't misunderstand; I'm not opposed to giant tokamaks. I even think that a few will be built and will function for awhile. I would help if I could. But unless some plague were to wipe out 90% of the human population and buy more time, I don't see it happening. The project isn't being pursued with the necessary desperation and probably isn't scalable.

I was that odd environmentalist who was for O'Neill colonies, superconducting supercolliders, and mankind as the responsible high-tech stewards of a healthy oasis in space. My preferences went unrealized; and continue to be.

best hopes for my being wrong about reality.

I understand your point. One analogy would be German (and Japanese) efforts during WW II, where certain available resources (oil & mercury in Japan, oil & rubber in Germany) were far short of requirements, and bombs kept falling on the infrastructure.

I do prefer robust infrastructure (hydroelectric dams kept producing in North Korea and Albania despite isolation, and PRK RRs as well).

Still, if a workable economic design of a tokamak can be built, I think more will be built at erratic speed and places. Not a smooth curve of worldwide construction but brief clusters here and there.

The Nordic areas might be one center of design and construction post-2050. A disciplined and desperate Japan might be another. Perhaps Russia, the USA (the USA has a large strategic stockpile), EU or even Brazil.

And the remaining islands of high tech metallurgy & electronics (the two most critical basic skills to building tokamaks) could trade with each other.

Best Hopes for Fusion,


There are tech answers to population overshoot. The problem is getting people to use them. :)

Paradoxically, they're only answers IF people use them. That, as it turns out, is a damn big IF.

As a chemical engineer currently debottlenecking a polyimide film production line, I can absolutely understand the intense time, effort, and capital required to make incremental improvements to established processes.

I don't have experience with determining the feasibility of theoretical projects; however, I imagine the same generalities apply as materials, technologies, and markets evolve over time.

Progress is neither quick nor easy.

Technical improvements are hard won any more, but we don't have much in the way of technical problems. Political and organizational improvements can come in a flash. We desperately need some of those, starting with leadership that is a little less useless than the Bush administration ...

carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen (the CHON elements)

HONC if you're organic

Careful with the explosives -- you'll get yourself on some sort of list :)

That's extremely unlikely. Nature itself gradually (over billions of years) incorporated a whole host of trace elements beyond CHON. Not likely that these were gratuitious incorporations. We may temporarily get around this or that scarcity, but we cannot continue our present way of life on CHON any more than our bodies can dispense with other elements. At some point, we will be forced to live on what nature (intelligently assisted) provides us on the surface of the planet.

I think there are a few other elements we will need in the mix--like maybe silicon, and a metal or two?

(Human body constituents)

  1. Oxygen (65%)
  2. Carbon (18%)
  3. Hydrogen (10%)
  4. Nitrogen (3%)
  5. Calcium (1.5%)
  6. Phosphorus (1.0%)
  7. Potassium (0.35%)
  8. Sulfur (0.25%)
  9. Sodium (0.15%)
  10. Magnesium (0.05%)
  11. Copper, Zinc, Selenium, Molybdenum, Fluorine, Chlorine, Iodine, Manganese, Cobalt, Iron (0.70%)
  12. Lithium, Strontium, Aluminum, Silicon, Lead, Vanadium, Arsenic, Bromine (trace amounts)

Researchers have been trying to get organic photovoltaics to be viable for some time (and even these often involved transition metals). It's not due to a lack of trying, or some Silicon Industrial Complex conspiracy, that we're not there yet.

As a chemist, I say let all the elements into the party. Even those weird ones with the unpronounceable Latin and/or Russian names.

Indium is as common in the earth as silver. We aren't going to "run out".

You missed the word 'peak' - as always with any mined substance (including silver) you can't get at it all at the same time.

Just like oil, it's all about the rate of extraction, not the reserves, and (in the case of Indium) the non-availability of suitable alternative optically transparent materials to make the PV terminals from.

I would also add that the "rate of extraction" is likely to be severely impacted by peak oil. Energy costs and outright shortages have already become a big headache to mining companies in South Africa.

Given enough cheap energy, we will never run out of any commodity. We'll either find ways to keep extracting or manufacturing it, or we'll find substitutes. When the commodity in short supply is energy...I think that will prove to be a very different story indeed.

Agreed. I also think that this relationship between energy and all other mineral commodities is something which the typical economist appears to be unaware of. It's been noted that there's a very large amount of gold and uranium available as dissolved salts in the oceans. Almost every other material resource can be recycled and re-used, but that is not true for energy. Using fossil energy is a one time deal.

E. Swanson

Yes, at some point we start suffering from the Receding Horizon Effect...the cost of extraction keeps increasing such that it never becomes economic to pursue lower concentration ores/resources.

Peak Oil, Climate Change and Business
Free, Bi-Weekly Executive Briefing

We aren't even trying to mine Indium yet. We have never tried to mine it. What we currently produce is a mere by-product of mining other metals. Declaring peak Indium right now and "running out" in 10 years is incredibly stupid.

Furthermore, it is invalid to compare a peak metal with peak oil. Yes, both with peak in production, but not in the same bell curve fashion, and not for the same geological reasons. Metals do not flow under the earth and pool under pressure.

It is far too early to declare knowledge about the max rate of indium extraction.

Agree. This has been discussed in earlier threads.

Peak Indium? Oh, nooooo. We might have to fall back on boring old Silicon.

This discussion highlights the danger of the techno-fix. As for PV the Achillies heel appears to be the doping agents and the energy required to get them. The present doping elements are indium, arsenic, phosphorus, gallium, aluminum,cadmium and boron. From what I have read most are by-products of another process; i.e. indium from zinc ore processing.

Does anyone know if the EROEI (10-30) for a PV system includes the mining and processing of the raw materials? Most of the elements listed above are also getting more difficult to extract and the mining industry is energy intensive (ICE fuel - transport, natural gas smelting, and electricity - crushing drives). Food for thought - Indium was about $94 per kG in 2002. Now it is $700 to $1000.

The OP was about Nanosolar's exotic CIGS semiconductor. Indium is not a dopant but an ingredient: the 'I' in that acronym. I was just sort-of joking around ... :) As for dopants, since their levels are in the parts-per-million, the cost of dopant in a semiconductor is negligible.

Nanosolar is making thin-film panels, so they will need small but non-negligible amounts per panel.

On the other-other hand, since Indium is not consumed to produce power, it is infinitely recyclable. So any notion of "peak" mineral would just refer to exploitation of natural deposits and neglect the likelihood of re-use.

My own opinion is that we should be working like crazy to promote known mature technology based on common things like silicon, sodium, alumina, sulfur, steel, and copper. The rarest ingredient in that list is copper, and we could (in principle) have a robust electric power infrastructure based on those elements.

I could get a couple of hundred dollars for a few oz. of Indium in flat-tape form.

The one use I know of for it is low-temp soldering, like when you don't want to risk damaging your mil-spec DPS chips putting 'em on the board.

Indium takes energy to get back out of those circuit boards.

The stuff is MUY EXPENSIVE I know someone who's sitting on hundreds and hundreds of lbs of the stuff, he's fixed for life.

Indium solder has been used (since WWII at least) to form a solder joint between copper and glass. In vacuum tubes for example.

My dad used to have a small sample of indium solder amongst his war-surplus ham radio junk. I have no idea where it is now. (probably disappeared when my mom let local hams pick over his stuff after he died)

Like tin, it makes this odd creaking noise when you bend it.

For all those who did not read my comments on Mega Solar Projects, there is a technology called CSP (Concentrated Solar Power) that works with HEAT, stores HEAT and just uses normal turbines to drive electric generators. Providing basic load and peak load on a 24/7 is guaranteed. No need for sophisticated materials, all you need is steel, glass and concrete. EROI is excellent. The technology is mature and applied in Europe (Spain) and Africa on big scale projects in the hundreds of MegaWatts. Industry grade, utility scale !
You can find excellent information here: www.mareinitiative.com or look for DESERTEC or German Aerospace.
Maybe you should ask Wolfgang Ehrlich of MARE Initiative or Dr Gerhard Knies of Desertec to write a guest post ?

Happy new 2008, Cheers !

The technology is mature ...


Four small prototypes operational (a couple of them are really just solar assisted natural gas fired plants, perhaps all of them, the websites bury the FF use carefully in the verbiage).

Why do you ignore the low hanging fruit of Grand Inga ? 44 GW of hydroelectric power ?


Hey Alan, please go to www.solarmillenium.com and get yourself an education before posting ;-)
Now, Grand Inga is a drop in the proverbial African Desert. Do you have the slightest idea of Africa's energy needs ?
The population will reach very soon over 1 Billion, expected to reach 2.5 Billion by 2030. The average African today lives on 200Watts per day (12kw for US citizens).We are talking about some serious catch up here !

You are the one that "needs an education" or a dose of realism. Your proposed technology is VERY FAR from technologically mature. Most so-called "solar thermal electrical generation" are just solar assisted FF generation. Nice, a small silver BB, but not earth changing .

You are pushing an unrealistic dream with immature technology and unknown costs, unknown operating costs, unknown life expectancy, material requirements, etc. Solar thermal is where wind was circa 1970-1975. DECADES before maturity ! Too far away for more than R&D and demo plants at this time. Certainly nothing to count on today !

Your link to commercial promoters of a technology was not "unbiased". And I found them not very informative either.

I had earlier downloaded the 0.5 Mb pdf file on the Andasol project and was disappointed with the lack of good engineering info. Just PR. In noted a "low pressure preheater" in the schematic that was NOT solar so I wonder if this is a also a hybrid FF/solar plant, but it appears to be mainly solar (unlike others).

A constant 44 GW is hardly a "drop in the bucket". And it does use a mature technology, hydroelectric power. I will be long dead before solar thermal generation ever produces a constant 44 GW (44 GW x 24h x 365 = 386 TWh, Grand Inga is supposed to generate over 320 TWh/year) worldwide. I seriously doubt that solar thermal will reach 320 TWh in the next half century.

Total world electrical generation was 17,400 TWh in 2006 (EIA) Grand Inga would be close to 2% of world electrical generation !

The possibly pure solar examples (0.011 GW in Spain) I noted

BTW, does the average African use 200 Wh per day ? or 4800 Wh/day ? Your use of units makes no sense.

Grand Inga, plus other hydroelectric projects built or under development (7 GW in Angola for example) could create a mainly renewable grid for Africa today. Add a few nukes and wind turbines and Africa could be a non-GHG electrical grid ! (No solar required, just mature cost-effective technologies).

This is the REAL solution that could be on-line in a decade ! Unlike your pipe dreams.

Alan, you are soooo predictive, it's always a pleasure :)
And you show willingness to learn, that's a positive. But your ignorance on Solar CSP technology is still pathetic, hence my sincere efforts here to enlighten you and everyone on this forum.

Facts: CSP was patented more than 100 years ago in Germany
Commercial installations running: in the US since 1985 at Kramer Junction (385 MW total), new in Nevada with 68 MW. Running or being built in Spain: more than 200MW, more in the pipeline. Morocco: 500MW soon to be built.Everything needs a start, this one is not a bad one.
Now question: what is sooo bad about the fact that there is some hybrid FF/solar just to be on the safe side? Savings on FF are still tremendous, and possible biowhatever to replace in theses installations are real.
The link to the German site was on purpose , German engineering delivers, as everyone knows. And these guys know what they are doing, why not a shameless plug ? Wish I could say this about other big high tech countries....

Back to Africa. The energy usage study comes from an United Nations report that shows the proportion of energy usage in Africa right now compared to the US ... and yes, the average African uses 60x less energy daily, and the continent has 3x the US population right now. But wants to catch up to western lifestyle quick, thanks to all the nice pictures he sees on TV, and our generous aids.
No way you can close the gap with hydro, and Grand Inga has jet to be up and running: environment impacts are far from clear, politically, the region is anything but stable.
Now " Add a few nukes..." as you say must be the first real very stupid thing I have come across this year, but then, the year is very young. Political instability in Africa is extremely high and will be for generations to come. A nuclear Africa is everyones worst nightmare, forget it right now, nobody needs that !
What's left ? Cutting the trees, go coal ? Come on, are you actually paid by some anti-solar lobby to refuse stubbornly what lots of clever people have been working on for decades?
This is a forum about the future of energy as it's subtitle implies. The future is with renewables, the sun is the most credible solution for the future, there is no "solar peak" anytime soon. Technologies are here and work so let's use them. Time is ticking, put the money and the talents in the future, or run for the hills like all the doomers around :-)

good site to start learning about concentrated solar power
At this point I'm supporting clean coal. A project was anounced for Illinois, then there was an anouncement from the fed goverment that the project was not going to be supported. Batteries for the phev lithuim iron , these batteries exist you can buy them there are issues with warrenty, quality, and who owns patent. nimh batteries seem to be propritory, zebra batteries seem good now. you can't buy them either.
fore and aft
I am for going forward with technogies and also for adopting backwards technologies to stay alive. I think the ban on keeping chickens would be a bad idea durring an economic crisis,

Henry, the above mentioned link is actually a support group for DESERTEC.
CSP is supported by most European States, the EU and a growing number of Mediterranean countries, and the august "Club of Rome". The 100 GW project in the Sahara will almost certainly be built, despite some funny comments of Alan. We shall see. Guess he is not that much a visionary. Most people I know in Europe believe strongly in the technology and it's potential. I guess there are always some guys around who think they got it all together until proven wrong.(I know, it cut's both ways) :-)

Commercial installations running: in the US since 1985 at Kramer Junction (385 MW total)

Kramer Junction is solar assisted natural gas fired electrical generation. VERY efficient NG plants with the solar assist. A nice idea, but NOT a world changing one. And not worth building those grandiose HV DC lines across Africa & Europe for !

Your Spanish total is almost all "being built" (some in the RFP phase from what I read). Prototypes in the process of construction are NOT "mature technology" !

Grand Inga has jet to be up and running: environment impacts are far from clear, politically, the region is anything but stable.

How wrong. Inga 1 (351 MW) has been operating since 1972, Inga 2 (1,424 MW) since 1982 and Inga 3 (3,500 to 4,500 MW) is under active consideration.

Note the HV DC lines proposed for Grand Inga compared to your links


Supplying 2% of the world's electricity from renewable sources for $20 billion or so is "low hanging fruit" and MUCH more than "a drop in the bucket". It could supply much of today's electrical demand in Africa from renewable sources ! *ALL* (or 98%) of Africa' electricity, at today's levels, could come from non-GHG (and zero solar) sources. I doubt Africa will ever see major increases to US levels of electrical demand so I dismiss any need to build that much.

Build to today's demand and a modest growth from that. And no solar required to do so (of course, if it ever becomes economic, it should be built in that distant year).

There are no significant environmental issues with Inga (despite your claims), it is a "run-of-the-river" project shortly before the Congo empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Take water out just before the rapids and return it to the river at the bottom of the rapids. Just like Niagara Falls (about 5 GW there).

You want Europe to relie upon "politically unstable power" ?

There are islands of stability in Africa that would be good sites for nukes. South Africa for one (a former nuclear bomb owner BTW). Tunisia and Morocco are others.

I think then German company linked is sucking on the teat of gov't subsidies and I have serious doubts that they can deliver economic power. I am very underimpressed by their published info.

the sun is the most credible solution for the future

Solar thermal (no hybrid FF use) electrical generation is the LEAST credible source of non-GHG generation ! You are pushing the most "far out" possibility.

A rough ranking in credibility (at reasonable cost)

1) Hydro
2) Biomass (limited volume though, but it works)
3a) Nuclear
3b) Geothermal
4) Wind
5) Solar PV
6) Tidal, wave
7) Solar Thermal

It is your ignorance, and not mine, that is pathetic,



time will tell, and probably very soon, what is (left) in store. Africa is full of surprises as many have experienced over the years. I know quite a bit about it and can talk with confidence. Realism is my first name actually :-) .. so I am very skeptical about your comments.
So let's see how it all plays out.

I wish you a very prosperous and happy new year !



I am not sure why you rank solar thermal below tidal and wave energy. 354MWe of solar thermal generation has been online in California for two decades. I do not think that tidal or wave energy have similar amounts of installations. The fact that these solar thermal plants also use natural gas is not a reason to regard them as inferior to other intermittent renewable energy sources. All intermittent renewables are effectively assisted by dispatchable fossil fuel generation via the power grid. The reason that solar thermal plants are built with the direct support of natural gas is because it is convenient to do so. The same steam turbine that is run directly by solar energy can also be run by natural gas with a relatively small extra expenditure of capital. The fact that solar thermal plants can be run directly off of sunlight, off of stored thermal energy, or off of biomass using the same piece of generation equipment is in fact an advantage of this technology relative to other renewable energy sources. For example and wind/pumped hydro energy system requires both the primary generators on all of the turbines, plus hydro turbines and generators in the pumped hydro storage system.

None of which is to say that I am promoting solar thermal as a miracle solution to our energy problems. The plant being build in Spain has quoted costs of $7000/kW and $0.31/kWh of delivered electricity, which is far from cheap. Still, new designs (e.g. linear fresnel concentrators) and mass production could drop costs significantly.


as brief follow up, you are right about the mass production factor, this is precisely what the next EU support step is all about. Several manufacturers under the lead of the German Aerospace center are working hard to bring the system price down to finally get to the target price of about 0.05€/kWh of delivered electricity.


linear fresnel concentrators
not what has been used for decades solel
tower solar power tower is another type of solar power generation.
such towers are in use in spain
sun edison has just made a big buy of china photovoltaics

Sunpower Corporation has been manufacturing back contact silicon PV cells for several years. Doesn’t this technology obviate the need for optically transparent conductors, at least for silicon cells? Of course transparent conductors give more design flexibility and are therefore still desirable.

Optically transparent conductors are required for thin film CIGS like Nanosolar. The material to make them is not costly, but the reliability is a factor.

The article which inspired this (divergent at times) thread is rather confused, thus inspiring even more confusion in response. One finds this sentence:

Solar cells have always relied on the metal indium, due to its transparency, which is essential to light emission or absorption in electronics.

right next to a picture of an indium ingot which is clearly not transparent.

The idea (missed by the article) is that 2-D graphene sheets might replace thin Indium Tin Oxide layers. ITO is transparent and conductive--thus making it useful as a top conducting layer in liquid crystal displays (LCD). According to Wikipedia:

The amount of indium consumed is largely a function of worldwide LCD production. Worldwide production is currently 476 tonnes per year from mining and a further 650 tonnes per year from recycling [4]. Demand has risen rapidly in recent years with the popularity of LCD computer monitors and televisions, which now account for 50% of indium consumption

The function of Indium in solar cells is quite different from that in LCDs, as the graphic at the top indicates. Now, it is true that employing graphene in LCDs instead of ITO would free up Indium for use in CIGS solar cells, but the gist from the article that (highly conducting and transparent) graphene itself is useful as a photovoltaic semiconductor is bizarre. It's not even wrong, as Wolfgang Pauli once said.

Robert has a nice Nanosolar update today:


My prediction for 2008:

In a surprise recount at the ballot box, President George W. Bush is re-elected for a third term in office. Analysts are stymied, since his name did not appear on official ballots at all.

On a different note, saw a Bloomberg talking head asking an analyst what, in his opinion, drove the skyrocketing price of oil in 2007. His answer: lack of refining capacity in the U.S. He showed a nice graph of gasoline stockpiles, and he did use the phrase "supply and demand."

Excuse me, but I thought we were talking about the price of a global commodity, not U.S. gasoline prices. Seems the MSM still can't spit out the PO words.

I've heard the same arguement from people over the last 3 yrs "no new refineries" my reply is are you going to build a refinery if you don't have the oil?

I expect to see gradually declining refinery utilization in importing countries, and ultimately I expect to see smaller refineries, especially light/sweet refineries, in importing countries shutting down.

Yes, and wouldn't a lack of refining capacity cause a buildup in the supply of crude? Jeez, you'd think the reporter would be able to use a little logic here. I wonder if he reads the feedback from his listeners.

surprise recount at the ballot box,

Thanks to modern electronic voting technology, this recount will take less than three milliseconds to accomplish!

And only one millisecond to throw the election.

Word that new nuclear power stations look to be given the get go early in the new year. None too soon either.


The greens are still trying to stop it.

Selafield comes to mind.

Where in the UK will these nukes be built?

As 1/2 have just been shut down, maybe in the same spot, eh?

Let's hope they do it right.

  • 20 x same design from get go
  • Building begins next year
  • Positioned somewhere like Northumberland, long way away from civilisation, but outside the breakway regions
  • Scientist or Engineer in charge
  • Accountants shot
  • Fast Breeders maybe?
  • Public enquiries limited to 6 months max

However that's probably too much to ask and it will end up a 'commercial driven' fudge with timescales measured in decades and no strategic vision.

I think doing it right would include building a reactor as close to the large cities as possible. Thermal generating stations only convert 30% of the steam energy into usable electricity. The remaining energy is lost in the condensing cycle; either into the atmosphere by a cooling tower or into the nearest lake. If the plant was right in the middle of the city, the turbine waste heat could be used for district heating and cooling (absorption chillers).

A side benefit would be that these monstrosities would be a constant reminder to conserve.

Horseguard's Parade, just over the back wall of 'Number 10', looks to be an ideal vacant location!

You might be surprised just where nuclear reactors have been sited:



Look at this one in Ontario. 3,100 MW right on the shore of Lake Ontario in the city of Pickering. Stupid part is that they are still heating up the lake rather than building a district heating loop.


Or for example take Windscale. They had a horrible accident with it, so to placate the Greens and so on, they moved it ..... not at all! Just changed the name to Sellafield, all better now.

From Jason link:

"270 tonnes of radioactive waste was removed"

I've read on this board more than once that waste isn't a problem.

270 tones sounds like a lot to me - what's the volume of that waste ?

Theres much more info on JASON's (Just Another Source Of Neutrons)
decommissioning at http://www.raeng.org.uk/news/publications/ingenia/issue10/Beeley.pdf

Found it in the external links of the Wiki article.

Cesium, one of the more common elements in spent fuel has a density of ~2 tonnes per cubic meter (water is 1 ton per cubic meter) So 270 tonnes would be roughly 135 cubic meters or a 5x5x5 meter cube.

Ahha ! water - I can reference to that (recent
hydronics course).

Thanks alan.

Unless one knows the matrix in which the radioactive isotopes are embedded in, one cannot make a accurate calculation.

At the Hanford site in eastern Washington, radioactive waste from Pu production is stored in large (leaky) tanks. The actual volume of directly radioactive material is probably small, but isolating it is a problem.

In the 1950's, they had the seemingly bright idea to add ferrocyanide to complex out the cesium and concentrate in in the bottom of the tank. When this was done, however, the resulting concentration of radioisotopes began generating large quantities of localized heat which was a real explosion risk given the overall contents of the tank.


Tech solutions = social problems

thanks, garyp

It's an amazing coincidence that JASON was dead-centered over a pre-1700 industrial chimney. It appears that was a propitious site for energy converversion!

Errol in Miami

Well, if it's ok for the UK then I sure hope we don't hear any UK political voices saying Iran (or anybody else) can't use nuclear power.

I'm confident one can subtract over half of the ethanol produced in the USA from the supply side of the fuel equation within 18 months if not much sooner.

A good rule of thumb for ethanol plant profit is; - Whatever the ethanol plant sells its ethanol for, it can pay up to double that price for corn. Its getting VERY ugly concerning margins for ethanol plants.

I made a chart going back to 1960 of both crude oil and corn on a BTU basis. July of 2004 was the first time that corn dropped below crude on a raw btu basis. I don't think it can stay there. Its rather obvious after looking at the chart that ethanol policy DEPRESSED corn prices temporarily. (Look at it and THEN tell me I'm wrong.)

I can't figure out how to post the chart here. To see what this means for agriculture and pump prices, as well as to see the chart itself go to;


Its getting VERY ugly concerning margins for ethanol plants.

It's interesting to compare the ethanol production response to strong ethanol prices last year, i.e., increased ethanol production, to the crude oil production respone to strong crude oil prices, i.e., lower crude oil production.

As I have noted before, I think that Saudi Arabia and the world are now where Texas and the Lower 48 were at in the early Seventies. Despsite the strong crude oil price signals in the Seventies, Texas and the overall Lower 48 were unable to increase crude oil production.

We're going to be putting an Ethanol 2.0 plan in front of the Iowa Legislature for this year's session, assuming NH3 and Alan Drake are willing to pitch in a little to help me put the finishing touches on it :-)

The song goes something like this ...

Stranded wind to ammonia for fertilizer
Stranded wind to ammonia for fuel when it makes sense
Rail electrification with wind along rail corridors
Ethanol distiller's grain drying with wind or bio methane
Ethanol distiller's grain oil extract for biodiesel
Animal waste from fed distiller's grain for bio methane

Right now ethanol has an EROI of 1.0 +/- 0.25 depending on environmental factors. If we take out the NG input for fertilizer, the diesel input for production, and the FF inputs for the fermentation, distillation, and post processing I think we might end up with a road fuel that makes sense in terms of EROI and all of its inputs will be renewable except the crank case lube for the tractors and combines.

Everything we need here in the way of energy here in the breadbasket pours down out of the sky on a daily basis, driving the wind from fall through spring and making endless waves o' grain in the summertime. All we need to do is bend our collective will to the task of gathering what we've been given.

You might want to consider one other thing, though:

Cane sorghum can be grown anywhere that corn can. Cane sorghum as an ethanol feedstock works a lot like sugar cane (ferment and distill the sugary juice), with an EROI somewhere between that of Brazilian sugar cane and that of corn ethanol. This is before doing the other stuff on your list.

It would require some major changes to the processing plants, mainly switching from year-round continuous processing to a big seasonal batch process. A lot of small distributed distilleries probably make more sense than a few large regional ones.

OK, a few comments.

This should have been said on Stranded Wind and I'd appreciate it if you'd join the discussion there, because this is really good.

We have continuous operation plants now and I don't see them being ripped out, melted down, and reformulated into small batch plants. If we're going to use a seasonal like cane sorghum that is great, but it gets to be the feedstock when its in season with corn being used the rest of the time.

What equipment changes are needed to handle cane sorghum? I've seen it raised as a crop here and there but the farmers chop it for silage rather than letting it fully ripen.

How does cane sorghum fit into the existing, well tuned corn regimen? Does it require the same pesticides? How much of it sticks around to volunteer the next year in a bean field?

Thanks for the invite SCT, and good luck on your site. Unfortunately, I'm already in serious overload when it comes to blogs.

Cane sorghum is hardly bothered by bugs at all. That is one of the really great things about it: huge reductions in pesticides, benefiting both the farmer and the environment.

Probably less NPK and water requirements as well. A corn plant has to put a lot into producing corn seeds, a lot more than a sorghum plant has to for just producing its stalk.

Planting and cultivating equipment should be pretty much the same, I would guess (though maybe could skip spraying altogether). I'm not sure if existing corn harvesting equipment will work, or could be modified.

It is a shame that so much investment has already been sunk into corn ethanol plants. I don't know for sure if the fermentation and distillation equipment could be used as is for sorghum, that is probably not an insurmountable challenge. Maybe plants could be configured to switch back and forth between the two feedstocks. The main challenge is that the whole sorghum crop comes in at once and has to be processed right away. If boiled down to a syrup, then it could be stored all year and processed gradually, but that kills the EROI. You get much better EROI by just pressing out the juice and fermenting it, but that needs to happen right away.

Here in the southern highlands, sorghum is a small-scale, low-tech crop. People will raise a small stand and harvest by hand. The canes will be run through a rotary press, powered by a horse or mule. The juice will then be boiled down to syrup. That's the way folks have been doing it around here for centuries.

Hopefully some eager lurker with knowledge in the area will pick this topic up. I'm interested, but right now I've got advertising, advertising, and then maybe I will do some advertising.

I am pleased to announce, however, that we're already #1 on Google's list for the phrase "stranded wind".

Cowtipper -

Permit me to be so presumptuous as to make a humble suggestion.

With your various conceptual schemes regarding stranded wind appearing to be getting a positive reception, you seem to be operating at a high level of enthusiam. I hate to be a party-pooper, but there are many miles to travel between the point in which someone says they like something and the point at which they will put their money where their mouth is. It takes a huge amount of perserverance and a thick skin to actually cause something new become a reality.

For that reason, my advice would be to select only one of the areas that you are interested in and focus on that one to the exclusion of the others.

Confusius say: 'Dog who chase two rabbits at same time catch neither one.'

I know squat about agricultural economics, so please forgive me if this is a dumb question.

You appear to be attempting to corrolate the price of corn in terms of dollars per BTU with the price of oil on the same basis. Well, is it not true that most purchasers of corn are not buying the corn directly for its BTU value but rather its food value, in which case the BTU value of the corn is of secondary importance?

In other words someone who operates a cattle feed lot isn't thinking about how many BTUs he can put into his cattle per dollar spent, but rather how many pound of live-weight cow he can produce per dollar. The two may be indirectly related by the caloric content of the corn, but by the same token you can't feed crude oil to a cow.

So, I guess my basic question is: Is the price of corn in terms of dollars per BTU a useful basis of comparison? Perhaps it is with regard to the ethanol issue, but I find it hard to see it of much use for anything else.

The comparison between the BTU value of corn vs. oil is interesting, but may give a false impression. Perhaps a more appropriate comparison would be the cost per BTU of coal vs. corn. Both are solid materials and require more effort to transport and burn for the BTU value returned. Coal has the added problem of it's emissions of SO2 and particulates, thus corn might be worth a bit more than coal on a strict BTU basis. However, if the price of coal increases beyond that of corn, one might expect that electric utilities might mix corn with coal to fire their boilers. Coal prices are not even listed at the Wall Street Journal's web site, perhaps the result of the coal market being based on long term contracts at fixed prices. One other possible user for corn BTU's are the ethanol producers, who might begin to burn corn to fuel the distillation process, if corn happens to be less expensive than their usual energy source.

That said, the notion that corn is presently under valued is likely to prove true, especially as corn's use for food isn't likely to decline anytime soon and the Earth's population is still increasing. Many people, such as Lester Brown, have pointed to an on going global decline in carryover stocks of grains as a sign that agricultural production is not keeping up with population growth. And, as has often been discussed on TOD, Peak Oil can be expected to make that situation worse.

E. Swanson

Actually coal fired power plants in MN DID in fact add a mix of corn in 2005 when corn vs FF got way out of whack.

My point is this;

1) It takes more than just subsidies to make ethanol work. It also takes cheap corn relative to crude. Ethanol tax credits and subsidies been around for decades, but until 2004, nobody cared.

2) A lot of folks are claiming grains/corn are expensive today. This is a load of crap. The one thing the consumer is getting a good deal on today is corn. I can't see this travesty continuing. Crude may go up, but if history is to repeat, then corn must rise even more.

3) It makes sense to expect fuel prices to skyrocket as ethanol gets taken out of the picture by good old fashioned economics. IE the old corn/crude spread returning.

4) Ethanol policy was sold based on a temporary perversion of the historic crude to corn spread. Its sad for the investors and its more sad for the rural towns employing folks who work in these plants.

A lot of farmers are going to go under as hedges destroy them if energ goes up. Hedging will be the demise of many if Peak oil is real.

The moral of the story is we will see a historic disruption in ag if PO is real.

I find your logic hard to follow. Around here ethanol has been in production for going on 25 years. At one point during 1995 corn prices went to $5 per bushel. Ethanol survived.

How is it that crude prices, and presumably gasoline prices, can go up significantly without affecting ethanol prices? Sure crude will drag up corn prices, but ethanol will follow gasoline. The situation will remain about the same albeit stabilizing at a higher price level.

RE: Practical,

Yes my area has had ethanol plants for 25 years despite $5 corn, but don't think for a moment that very many will survive once corn goes back to buying BTUs of crude with just one BTU of corn which is normal.

Even if crude goes to $200, which would not surprise me in the least, most ethanol plants will choose to shut down when corn vs. crude spread returns to the historical norm, which of course means $20/bu corn. Never doubt the power of longterm spread relationships, and remember the most expensive sentence in the English language is; "But... This time its differant."

RE: INJapan;

1) Nebraska is the number 2 corn producer in the USA.

2) Taking away just a FEW bushels means adding a TON to the price.

Thanks for your thoughts guys.

1) Nebraska is the number 2 corn producer in the USA.

On the Energy Bill entry a week or so ago I posted a list of corn states, their senators, and the votes to show that party affiliation is irrelevant when it comes to these matters... so I'm aware of production stats from that research. Of the Big 5 corn states though, only Nebraska will have significant irrigation. That is why I suggest you modify your blog entry, just to represent the costs more accurately.

2) Taking away just a FEW bushels means adding a TON to the price.

Yes, I guess I am partially agreeing with you (even if I did not make that clear.) The marginal bushel of corn will be interesting to watch... For any single ethanol producer, to procure that marginal bushel one must compete with (a) other ethanol producers and (b) foreign and domestic food buyers. The tug of war between the various buyers (and there are others of course) will be interesting to watch.

The graph of Iowa counties (in the Iowa Farm report dtd first week of Dec.) showing acreage of corn needed per ethanol plant (operating and planned) clearly shows the conflict - there are places of the state where each ear of corn is doubly (or even triply) claimed, for ethanol alone! That means some ethanol plants will have to pay for long distance shipping on grain to their plants... and certainly given the scenario you have outlined that will kill them.

when corn vs. crude spread returns to the historical norm, which of course means $20/bu corn.

Why will it return to the historical norm?

In the long run, corn grows back, petroleum doesn't.

remember the most expensive sentence in the English language is; But... This time its differant.

Post 1972 in Texas, things really were different. How powerful is the Texas Railroad Commission in oil prices any more?

Post peak oil, economics of many things will be profoundly different from before, because peak oil is a difference from geology.

I agree that corn ethanol as currently practiced is a dumb and unsustainable idea.

One must be very aware when "This time it's different" comes out of human speculation---human nature is NOT different from the South Seas investment bubble.

However, physical processes can be objectively measured to be different.

This time it's different: we have 350 ppm of CO2 going to 500 when our civilization evolved over 10,000 years with 250.

This time, it is different.

Adding to what Eric said... the latest USDA estimate for proposed 2008 corn acreage is down from 2007 plantings, which would lead one to believe that there will not be an increase in actual corn harvested at end of 2008. That, combined with the increasing mandate for ethanol is expect to make a strong impact on the export market.

Also, on your blog you mentioned irrigation... please note that in the leading corn states (Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana) irrigation is not usual; of the leading corn states, you have to get to Nebraska to find significant irrigation.

From reading the Iowa Farm reports, I get the impression that the overabundance of ethanol plants will force the smaller ones or less efficiently run (business wise) plants out of business. There is such a large increase of ethanol capability in construction or planned that only the strong will survive.

I just posted a call for discussion on a strategic Ethanol 2.0 plan, which can be found on the front page of the Stranded Wind web site. If this can be sharpened up a bit and turned into a presentation I'll get it in front of the Iowa Legislature.

Some words about my focus on Iowa. I'm here. We have perfect wind in one corner of the state and good wind in about two thirds. Iowa is the heart of the nation's breadbasket with about 25% of the corn production here, and we're already sold as a state on the idea that wind is good for us. If we get this done here our neighbors will get turbine envy and then the rest of the grain belt will have the same treatment in short order.

I don't have any sense of what to do for urban areas and the coasts, but with a few simple moves here I think we can keep the rest of you fed while you ponder what to do.

SCT, best of luck with your plans. Maybe persuade the state legislature to fund a University test windplant in the NW corner?

Errol in Miami

There is already a large turbine at the University of Minnesota Morris research facility turning out ammonia. I don't want any namby pamby test setup :-) Our discussion began with the strawman to the effect that we wanted to build a 100 turbine plant in the area and produce ammonia with stranded wind - a $300,000,000 capital investment.

The session opens in two weeks :-) We shall see what comes of it ...

An article before Eid Adza had a Pakistani
noting how his festival preps looked more like stockpiling for a coming disaster.

Smart Pakistaner, eh?

And nothing on how destruction of the rail lines, engines, and repair equipment is in any way to blame.

But the country only had 2-6 days supply before the chaos.

Acres Magazine: An Interview to Read with Michael Hudson

Acres USA Magazine (farming, Organic Small farm NON-Industrial/Monsanto )

Read the interview in this farming magazine. Financial and US History and current events. See what the "Farmers" are reading.

Amazing interview.

For those that know or remember events in the last 40 or so years in South America and the world will get a different perspective maybe.



Wow! Thanks for that pointer. Hudson is one sharp dude. I'm surprised that he is working for Kucinich; that implies he still has hope.

"Savings overhang". I've been wondering what the piranhas were up to and wondering if we in US aren't being set up for another Chile.

Translating such an understanding into my day-to-day is becoming fabulously difficult.

cfm in Gray, ME

Thanks for the Hudson link - very useful!

Subprime fiasco to dominate early 2008

Observers are asking, will the tally be as high as the $400 billion (U.S.) some predict, or will the actual damage come in at less than that.


The grim accounting has some economists asking whether markets are now overestimating the damage after months of being exposed to bad news.

"It's possible the market is overestimating, as it usually does. Most of the bad news may be already discounted – and that may be the good news," said Benjamin Tal, senior economist with CIBC World Markets.

Wall Street may be able to come up with enough excess profit and manipulation to cover that amount, but Main Street is stuck with long term mortgages on housing that eventually has to be marked to the historic wage/ price multiple of about 3.5:1.

What kind of life and mobility does a poor sod in a $500,000 mortgage with a street value of $300,000 have? Try moving. I had a friend who bought a place for $140 back in the last mini boom and got transferred a year later and had to sell for $110k and take a hit close to his take home for the year. Statistically everyone on average moves every seven years.

Those rising principles that so many were so smug about are melting like an ice cream cone in the sun. Never buy a house at more than three and a half times your [sustainable] income.

The bad news for CIBC may be behind it, but not for its clients.

Technology, cool.


Seabed Microbe Study Leads To Low-cost Power, Light For Developing World

A Harvard biology professor’s fascination with seafloor microbes has led to the development of a revolutionary, low-cost power system consuming garbage, compost, and other waste that could provide light for the developing world.

Key understatement from the article, missing from the quote:

A number of steps remain before that can happen...

Cool? Potentially yes. Real? Or just yet another of bazillions of unfulfilled professorial pipe dreams?

Hint: I see no engineering development kit for sale. Apparently our "revolutionary" device can't even be manufactured yet. Some revolution. Oh, wait, silly me. Maybe going around in circles counts as a form of revolution.

Really, I've seen this "few more steps" snag a few more times than I care to recall. I still await a few more things I was promised in the Popular Science and Popular Mechanics articles I read as a kid. I can't find my flying car, nor can I find my 20 hour work-week. I guess they're buried in the ash heap of history.

"Maybe going around in circles counts as a form of revolution."

You can say that again!

"A number of steps...."


Kinda like

(1) steal underwear,
(2) something happens....um, we're not sure what....

And who can tell me where I'm quoting from?

Unsung geniuses Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

"Are you saying that one-fourth of Americans are retarded?"
"That sounds about right!"
"Yeah, at LEAST one-fourth!"

I believe in the underpants knomes, and think of them every time I see the stock market go up.

crab people * crab people * crab people * crab people

Given the many downside financial risks that TOD has exposed for 2008, I would be very interested in hearing people's opinions on the likelihood of a panicky stock market drop (i.e., very swift correction >25%) in global markets during the next twelve months.

Shouldn't we be liquidating assets now to pick up bargains later? Won't cash be king in anything like a panic? I.e., if stocks drop far and swiftly enough, won't exposed investors drag down even precious metal prices to bargain levels when they have to collectively liquidate good stuff to cover their bad?

What are people's strategies for dealing with risk at this point?

Won't cash be king?

Depends. It certainly wasn't king in the Weimar Republic.

Got a wheelbarrow?

Real money, metal money, was.

The story goes around that a busboy at a hotel during Weimar had saved a gold coin, and was able to buy the entire hotel with it....

Gold is money.
Silver is money.
Copper is money.
Yes, even Indium is money, although the melting point is kind of low...

Paper is for writing, rolling, or wiping your arse with. Or starting a fire.

"I thought time was money."
"MONEY ... is money."
"Then what is time, again?"

One of the problems during the Great Depression was that the stock market kept looking like it was recovering, that the worst of it was over, only to drop like a rock again. It did this repeatedly and eventually ground down everyone who tried to pick up bargains by buying on the dips. Galbraith wrote a very famous book about the GD, and the section describing this phenomenon gets quoted a lot.

The most dire of the PO scenarios probably requires a 90-95 percent drop in the markets to accurately price stocks. Remember, share prices reflect expectations of future earnings. If nearly everyone's earnings are going down the tubes and a large number of companies go out of business, then the markets are grossly overvalued.

I wouldn't be bargain hunting on a 25% drop unless you think the worst we're in for a moderate recession. Stocks dropped by more than that with 70s stagflation (much more in real terms), and they will drop by even more if we're in for a depression.

Happy Days Are Here Again..... lol

Reminds me, I'm fooling with this trumpet I've got lately, it's a catchy lil' tune....

Take a read on George Ure's UrbanSurvival site today.

Read his post on what we may see this year.

Here's a taste;

The Energy Crashcade

With all of these foreign-held debt instruments being repriced, and the pressure mounting on the dollar, the price of oil, at least seen domestically, will have to go skyward beginning early in the new year. Not that oil is going much of anywhere, except as dictated by Peak Oil and huge emerging market demand from consumer start-up economies funded by our outsourcing, anyway, it will just make headlines.

The reason oil goes through the roof (and beyond) is that if the dollar drops to 50% of today's values, we will have to give twice as many dollars (or more) to buy a barrel of oil. And that means the price of gasoline will double and, along with that, the largest component in food prices is what? Hint: Comes out of a pump. So, look for grain prices and what you pay at the grocery store to at least double in 2008.

Then positive feedback sets in: Higher food prices mean the rate of foreclosures will go up again, and as that happens, what do you suppose will happen to the value of housing debt instruments? They will drop!

OK, and as the value of the housing debt instruments drops - again - what will happen to the purchasing power of the dollar? Right: Down she goes again.

And that means what happens to oil? Well, it doubles again. Except this time it goes from $200 to $400 a barrel, and the rate of foreclosures goes up again, starting the cycle anew.


An economic crash could bring about an overall systemic crash, ushering in the effects of population overshoot and dieoff.

Maybe the greatest genius of all time was the person who wrote the "Chicken Little" story. It seems to be relevant every single day of my life.

Yeah, that chicken little, what did he know? Don't you know it's nothing but blue skies from here on?

1. "We will not have any more crashes in our time."
- John Maynard Keynes in 1927

2. "I cannot help but raise a dissenting voice to statements that we are living in a fool's paradise, and that prosperity in this country must necessarily diminish and recede in the near future."
- E. H. H. Simmons, President, New York Stock Exchange, January 12, 1928

"There will be no interruption of our permanent prosperity."
- Myron E. Forbes, President, Pierce Arrow Motor Car Co., January 12, 1928

3. "No Congress of the United States ever assembled, on surveying the state of the Union, has met with a more pleasing prospect than that which appears at the present time. In the domestic field there is tranquility and contentment...and the highest record of years of prosperity. In the foreign field there is peace, the goodwill which comes from mutual understanding."
- Calvin Coolidge December 4, 1928

4. "There may be a recession in stock prices, but not anything in the nature of a crash."
- Irving Fisher, leading U.S. economist , New York Times, Sept. 5, 1929

5. "Stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau. I do not feel there will be soon if ever a 50 or 60 point break from present levels, such as (bears) have predicted. I expect to see the stock market a good deal higher within a few months."
- Irving Fisher, Ph.D. in economics, Oct. 17, 1929

"This crash is not going to have much effect on business."
- Arthur Reynolds, Chairman of Continental Illinois Bank of Chicago, October 24, 1929

"There will be no repetition of the break of yesterday... I have no fear of another comparable decline."
- Arthur W. Loasby (President of the Equitable Trust Company), quoted in NYT, Friday, October 25, 1929

"We feel that fundamentally Wall Street is sound, and that for people who can afford to pay for them outright, good stocks are cheap at these prices."
- Goodbody and Company market-letter quoted in The New York Times, Friday, October 25, 1929

6. "This is the time to buy stocks. This is the time to recall the words of the late J. P. Morgan... that any man who is bearish on America will go broke. Within a few days there is likely to be a bear panic rather than a bull panic. Many of the low prices as a result of this hysterical selling are not likely to be reached again in many years."
- R. W. McNeel, market analyst, as quoted in the New York Herald Tribune, October 30, 1929

"Buying of sound, seasoned issues now will not be regretted"
- E. A. Pearce market letter quoted in the New York Herald Tribune, October 30, 1929

"Some pretty intelligent people are now buying stocks... Unless we are to have a panic -- which no one seriously believes, stocks have hit bottom."
- R. W. McNeal, financial analyst in October 1929

7. "The decline is in paper values, not in tangible goods and services...America is now in the eighth year of prosperity as commercially defined. The former great periods of prosperity in America averaged eleven years. On this basis we now have three more years to go before the tailspin."
- Stuart Chase (American economist and author), NY Herald Tribune, November 1, 1929
"Hysteria has now disappeared from Wall Street."
- The Times of London, November 2, 1929

"The Wall Street crash doesn't mean that there will be any general or serious business depression... For six years American business has been diverting a substantial part of its attention, its energies and its resources on the speculative game... Now that irrelevant, alien and hazardous adventure is over. Business has come home again, back to its job, providentially unscathed, sound in wind and limb, financially stronger than ever before."
- Business Week, November 2, 1929

"...despite its severity, we believe that the slump in stock prices will prove an intermediate movement and not the precursor of a business depression such as would entail prolonged further liquidation..."
- Harvard Economic Society (HES), November 2, 1929

8. "... a serious depression seems improbable; [we expect] recovery of business next spring, with further improvement in the fall."
- HES, November 10, 1929

"The end of the decline of the Stock Market will probably not be long, only a few more days at most."
- Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics at Yale University, November 14, 1929

"In most of the cities and towns of this country, this Wall Street panic will have no effect."
- Paul Block (President of the Block newspaper chain), editorial, November 15, 1929

"Financial storm definitely passed."
- Bernard Baruch, cablegram to Winston Churchill, November 15, 1929

9. "I see nothing in the present situation that is either menacing or warrants pessimism... I have every confidence that there will be a revival of activity in the spring, and that during this coming year the country will make steady progress."
- Andrew W. Mellon, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury December 31, 1929
"I am convinced that through these measures we have reestablished confidence."
- Herbert Hoover, December 1929

"[1930 will be] a splendid employment year."
- U.S. Dept. of Labor, New Year's Forecast, December 1929

10. "For the immediate future, at least, the outlook (stocks) is bright."
- Irving Fisher, Ph.D. in Economics, in early 1930

11. "...there are indications that the severest phase of the recession is over..."
- Harvard Economic Society (HES) Jan 18, 1930

12. "There is nothing in the situation to be disturbed about."
- Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon, Feb 1930

13. "The spring of 1930 marks the end of a period of grave concern...American business is steadily coming back to a normal level of prosperity."
- Julius Barnes, head of Hoover's National Business Survey Conference, Mar 16, 1930
"... the outlook continues favorable..."
- HES Mar 29, 1930

14 "... the outlook is favorable..."
- HES Apr 19, 1930

15. "While the crash only took place six months ago, I am convinced we have now passed through the worst -- and with continued unity of effort we shall rapidly recover. There has been no significant bank or industrial failure. That danger, too, is safely behind us."
- Herbert Hoover, President of the United States, May 1, 1930
"...by May or June the spring recovery forecast in our letters of last December and November should clearly be apparent..."
- HES May 17, 1930

"Gentleman, you have come sixty days too late. The depression is over."
- Herbert Hoover, responding to a delegation requesting a public works program to help speed the recovery, June 1930

16. "... irregular and conflicting movements of business should soon give way to a sustained recovery..."
- HES June 28, 1930

17. "... the present depression has about spent its force..."
- HES, Aug 30, 1930

18. "We are now near the end of the declining phase of the depression."
- HES Nov 15, 1930

19. "Stabilization at [present] levels is clearly possible."
- HES Oct 31, 1931

20. "All safe deposit boxes in banks or financial institutions have been sealed... and may only be opened in the presence of an agent of the I.R.S."
- President F.D. Roosevelt, 1933

Interesting list, Cherenkov....

One thing bothers me though....why is that when I refer to the 1970's on TOD (when oil and energy issues were a big factor in the depression (and it was a depression, they just didn't call it that) I am chastised by everyone here for "living in the past", but when others refer to the 1920's it is readily accepted as a model of the near future...even though to my knowledge, energy and oil played very little part in the crash of 1929?


Good old fashioned cherry picking, never goes out of fashion!

Doomers have to rely on a lot of cherry picked examples to make an argument, this has always been a major weakness in their theory. Of course, they are the first to decry the practice if anyone else does it.

Because there was a recovery based on repeated bubbles and expanded trade and high tech (remember cars and tlecoms in 1920s) and huge new oil finds on the edge of the world(Noth Sea, Noth Slope).

Read Mish Shedlock's Dec. 31 column today on just exactly this argument about "people have been saying the end will come for 30 years now".

So the 1970s argument does not hold as we are tapped out. In 1929 if you had said "We recovered from the 1907 crash so why should we call wolf now. Something wills ave us and then we will look stupid."

It's all a matter of timing. Really. Emotionally you are in the right place. "Why looklike a fool. Anything could happen". I just think the timing's off. That's all. We're ehavily tapped out everywhere, not just out of breath. It is not 1979 dejavu all over again.

A Modest Success

I had breakfast this morning with a friend who is CFO/controller at a large local construction company. He has told the owners that their $250,000/yr fuel bill will be $1 million in a few years. He is replacing employee trucks (big gas guzzlers all) with their choice of Ford Escape Hybrids, Camrys or Priuses (zero takers of Prius option so far, and not all get the Escape option). SEVERAL complaints about adjusting to small cars so far, to which he has offered company paid psychological therapy.

The owners report that friendly competitors have started asking about their downsizing and how it is going over/working out.

He is doing more in other areas as well.

He is talking with the local Toyota dealership about bringing over several Yaris's next April 1 and parking them in the company parking lot.

Best Hopes for Small Steps,


Who does he/the-rest-of-America sell all his gas guzzler vehicles to? Don't they all have to be scrapped to make an overall difference to the fuel situation?

Miles driven make a difference. And new builds are more important than scraps when TSHTF (many poor mileage cars, trucks & SUVs will be scrapped when gas prices rise high enough, fast enough).

High mileage used former construction trucks/SUVs are NOT premier buys and will be scrapped sooner than most.


Good for him

I drive a Toyota Avensis in the UK which typically gives me 40 miles to the imperial gallon - will look to go smaller when I replace it although I only do 5K a year.

Have driven the Yaris several times. Excellent car, frugal, reasonable performance, with sufficient load space for day to day needs.

It amazes me that US manufacturers are not importing / building their smaller european models into the US. Fords Focus, fiesta, fusion are good cars as are Opel / Vauxhalls - Astra / Corsa.

Perhaps they are?


The United States does some amazingly stupid things. We're at a point where we need a major housecleaning.

Among the Democratic candidates the best in this regard who has a chance of winning would seem to be John Edwards, with Barack Obama running a close second. Hillary is too corporate for me and I'll write in Ron Paul if she is the Democratic nominee. The Republicans, unfortunately, have no presidential candidates in this cycle.

The stranglehold corporatocracy has on our government will be broken, I just hope that it happens due to the will of the people in 2008 rather than by a wave of forces completely outside our control not long after that. We can't stand another minute of BAU but we've got to tolerate another 385 days of it ...


Agreed, but I think it is just a hope. Same problem in Canada. If you look at our potential "leaders" it is same s**t different pile. There is no way any of the present leadership class has the gonads to stand up and say what is necessary.

"We have to eliminate the growth based economic model."
"Everyone has to reduce our resource consumption by 90%."
"We have to ration energy immediately."

Even the green party pukes out the "sustainable development"

Unfortunately I think we are going to have to suffer a certain amount of pain until we wake up and smell the coffee. What are the chances of another Churchill, FDR and Mackenzie King at the same time? Right now we have Curly, Larry and Moe.

""We have to eliminate the growth based economic model."
"Everyone has to reduce our resource consumption by 90%."
"We have to ration energy immediately."

what? where are your calculations for this? maybe that's what you want to happen, but I can't find out why that would happen.

I don't think even Kucinich would renounce the growth paradigm much less Edwards or Paul. In fact, I don't know if a US politician who has a chance of high office will ever renounce the growth paradigm. It will remain political suicide forever. The hope is that enough creative doublespeak will enable a politician to push for policies that actually advocate a steady-state, sustainable economy while mouthing the usual growth mantra.

I think that is the only way an "elected" politician will be able to try it. My fear is that the required changes will be so catastrophic that they cause severe economic upheaval in society to the point that democratic governance will be impossible. I look around at my co-workers, neighbours and acquaintances and don't see much hope in them willingly accepting the required radical changes and hardship. At the other end of the spectrum the so called Captains of Industry will be making every attempt to co-opt the political process to maintain their status quo. What happens to them when people stop buying crap and paying their mortgages?

We could be left with either chaos or a police state.

Hey that's what I would do as I'm completely cynical manipulative bastard like Stalin or Hitler. I only have my goal in mind. The end justifies the means is my motto and human survival is the end. First we have to get people to believe what is good for them n some form and get them to do something to that end.

It's all a tax writeoff anyway, so I don't see how downsizing would help financially.

IRS marginal tax rates (above $75,000) are 34% for corporations and another 8% for Louisiana (above $200,000).

So one dollar saved on fuel will reduce federal taxes by 34 cents, Louisiana taxes by 8 cents and leave 58 cents for the owners.

So there is still significant value in increasing profits.


Excellent to hear Alan, hopefully this sort of stuff becomes pervasive in highly petroleum dependent businesses as "oil crunch" appears within their time horizons.

I had plans to start a design/build business in 5-7 years, and looking into the business costs and what they depend upon became a substantial part of what led me to Peak Oil as the extent of my would-be dependency on petroleum and lack of viable substitutes came sharply into focus.

"He is replacing employee trucks"

Capitalism and price signals work. prices go up and we wring all the excess oil consumption out of the economy so it's used where it's most needed. it will be economically painful but it won't be the doom and dieoff many predict.

multiply the CFO example to include a few billion people making these same calculations and you'll see that markets will work. it's like some of your don't understand supply and demand.

prices go up and we wring all the excess oil consumption out of the economy so it's used where it's most needed.

Incorrect. Oil will be used by those who can most afford it, not necessarily where it's most needed.

But even if what you claim happens...I am not convinced it's a good thing. In fact, I fear very much it's a trap.

Thomas Homer-Dixon argues that what we should be aiming for is resilience, not efficiency. And the two are pretty much opposites.

Ironically...that could mean that the "wasteful" US will weather peak oil better than the more efficient Europe and Japan. Simply because if you're less efficient, you have more room to cut back.

"Incorrect. Oil will be used by those who can most afford it, not necessarily where it's most needed."

we're both incorrect. oil will be used by those who can afford it(rich people) and those that need it(businesses).

"Ironically...that could mean that the "wasteful" US will weather peak oil better than the more efficient Europe and Japan. Simply because if you're less efficient, you have more room to cut back."

I've thought about that, I think anyone can cut back whether you are Europe or China or the US. it's about incomes too.

Ironically...that could mean that the "wasteful" US will weather peak oil better than the more efficient Europe and Japan. Simply because if you're less efficient, you have more room to cut back.

That is often quoted, and at first glance seems correct. But I think not.

If you look at it from another angle, you see that if for example both the US and Germany have to, or want to, cut their energy use by X percent, the US, because it uses twice as much per capita, has to cut twice as much. That is hurtful enough, but it gets worse. Why does the US use twice the per capita energy of Germany? The US infrastructure, way of life, etc., depends on using that much.

It may well be much easier for the Germans to cut 10%, since they're already well on their way towards using less. You can't change entire infrastructures overnight. If you have better transit, and more urban walkability, cutting out that 10 or 20% might not change that much. You can take the train, or a bicycle, or walk. All these options are not available in the US. And there seems little chance of that changing soon. There is simply (far) more resilience in the German model. Thing is, you have to look at percentages rather than absolute numbers, and also at the present "position" of a society. A heroin junkie who shoots up twice as much is not more likely to beat the addiction, and will suffer more, not less, if you take half the dope away.

Happy New Year, Leanan. Sorry about that little thing yesterday, no harm meant. Got to go, have to cook dinner for 12 people.

Capitalism and price signals work

No one doubts that energy prices signals will work in the sense that manufacturers will do everything in their power to prevent high energy prices from eroding thier profits. However, private finance capitalism requires constantly increasing net productivity in order for its finance mechanism to work. If energy prices go so high that our net productivity stagnates or declines then our financial system will be in deep trouble no matter how 'efficiently' we distribute our available supplies of energy.

roger- what you described the economy doing is going into a recession or a depression. it is as much a part of capitalism as growth. industries and sectors of the economy go away every year and decade.

eventually the economy adjusts to higher prices and the economy starts growing again.

If you gotta have a Depression may as well get
happy about it. While I watch the souplines
and the jobless sleeping in the snow, I shall
think of your words and rejoice, knowing that
this is the best of all possible worlds, that
the starving child is doing it's part to bring
about the greatest good for the greatest number.

It's not like the hippies ever cared. They became the yuppies, and are termed Boomers today.

Bad hippie! No Ray-Bans!

Being a hippy was about staying out of Viet Nam, while working-class kids went, end of story.

Bad mood. Staying in tonite?
Some of us went hard places.
You do better when you write what you know.
Now I go see a young professional actress.
City girl.

"Being a hippy was about staying out of Viet Nam, while working-class kids went, end of story."

Yeah, sure, bite me. Yeah, that surely explains everybody's motivations to a t.

Talk about generalizing. Yes, and all working-class kids are x, and all whites are y, and all blacks are z and give me a break.

I know you think you've got it all figured out, and your little pithy narrative explains everything, but with all due respect, you really are not as clued in as you think.

But if it makes you feel good to believe that, so be it.

End of story my ass. What a crock of shit. Why do so many folks around here seem to feel like they know everything, and have it all wrapped up in simpleton blowhard posts like the above?

Happy New Year, one and all!


The great depression was a temporary dip in a several hundred year climb toward higher and higher productivity. The depression was an artifact of the particular institutions that we use to finance production infrastructure. At that time there were no resource constraints that should have prevented us from continuing and even increasing economic production from the levels to which we had grown accustomed. If we run into genuine physical limits to our ability increase our productivity, then the situation will far more dire than in the past. A constant cycle of collapse and re-growth is not going to be efficient, and the suffering it engenders will lead to political instability. Some kind of steady state economy seems far more desirable.

"Some kind of steady state economy seems far more desirable."

Oh Lord no, that's even worse.

Just curious---
What color is the sky on the planet you live on?
Here on earth, capitalism has never existed without the state to enforce it's rules (often violently) as it rose in the Italian City States in the 15th Century,
up till the World Bank and IMF policies of global capital.
It is blue during midday on Earth, except when we have cloud cover or pollution.

"Here on earth, capitalism has never existed without the state to enforce it's rules"

well yeah but if you're talking about state price controls and rationing then count me out.

So what color is it?
Capitalism and the State are symbiotic, with even the puppets it charge changing position between the State and the Corporation (I haven't a problem with this, it is just capital becoming more efficient).
The state must protect it's servants, or they will eventually rebel.
That is why the French Aristocracy doesn't exist.


Continual growth is unsustainable. So not having growth is worse how?

Heh. Perhaps you live in fairyland, but a few billion people on this earth live in a much harsher reality and are already priced out of the excess oil consumption market.

"He is replacing employee trucks"

No he is not. He is buying more trucks. If he were crushing the old ones, then maybe "replace" would be the right word. What he is doing is getting himself cheaper trucks and passing the more expensive guzzlers to someone else - exporting the externalities.

cfm in Gray, ME

Love the Yaris.

I haul a lot of stuff in the little beast. I really love it when I go to the Home Depot and I have more construction material in my little Yaris than these pristine, never-seen-a-job-site penis enhancers better known as SUVs and trucks.

Nothing chaps my britches more than seeing a parking lot filled to the brim with SUVs and more than 90% of those carrying nothing but fat-assed Americans.

God, I hope the Peak oil is a fast mover, a real F-4 coming in low with a couple of paddy blasters. I can't wait to see all these fake "construction" workers, "home remodelers," and "catholic charity families," crapping their little republican panties.

Please, oh please, if there is a nasty old, mean-as-a-one-eyed-jackass god, please bend these snarky weasel-faced, boasting about their SUV and McMansion, Repugnican hypocrites, and shove their over-priced, under-built, instant slum, tickytack pseudo-architecture straight from WalMart "houses" right up their XXXL arses. Twist the whole lot a few turns then set it all on fire.

Pleeeeaaaassssse, invisible sky-being, let me drive by these ruddy-faced, deer-hunting, football watching, over-sensitive about being called fascists, military loving white trash as they stand out in the street waving their engineering degrees in the hope that someone will toss a box of twinkies in their hands. Let me see them clutching their Ronald Reagan memorial hand signed by machine bibles under one arm and a jar of jelly beans with certificate of authenticity under the other as the sheriff puts them on the street.

Pleeeeassssse let me see Homeland Security tasing the bejeezus out of these serial tards when they have the timerity to protest. In fact, visit upon them all the indignities the rest of the world has suffered at the hands of the U.S.: Waterboarding, electro-torture, illegal search and seizure, free speech zones, no habeas corpus, rotting in jail for years with no hope of a fair trial, or any trial at all, then take away everything they ever had and deport them.

Then, once they have apologized, let them back in and sign up for single-payer healthcare, cause they are going to need it if they ever take this beautiful country and its beautiful ideas and twist them into the evil fascist parody of democracy we have now, we will be kicking their asses all the way to the border.

Otherwise, Happy New Year!!!!!

And double for all the democraps who went along for the war, voted for it and for its escalation at every opportunity, for all the fat little libtards whose sole contribution to Air American is to call in and complain about high gas prices, and who can't comprehend that those inexpensive handmade knickknacks in their local coffee shop consisting of a million little stitches and beads are made by slave children. For all those country club democrats who go along with tax cuts for the rich because after all, they are the rich, and it's not getting any cheaper to keep Buffy in that elite private school so she doesn't have to associate with those awful public school kids. For all the People's Pissants who've never worked with their hands and constantly make insulting jokes about those who do, and who'd see Joe Bageant in their nighmares if they had the slightest clue as to who he is.

Superman, you are one mean drunk!

But it's kinda neat to hear that you actually drive, and that you appreciate your vehicle!

Best to you and your family for the New Year, really.

Love the Yaris.

Oh dear, another techno-utopian in love with his auto. Don't you know people like you are screwing the planet?

Nice rant.

... take away everything they ever had and deport them.

Wait a minute. I thought you were talking about 'Murrikans — where exactly are you deporting them to?

Natural Gas in the U.S.

The was some talk in 2000 about running low on NG supplies by 2010. There was some exploration and development in 2001-2, but then it slowed, as the price of NG went down. Later on, more exploration and development resumed when the price went back up again.

If we want a secure supply, it would seem to me that a price floor might be helpful. If the suppliers can get say $.70 per therm at the wholesale level and it costs them $.30 per therm to produce it, then the business math becomes more certain.

I think we need to have the masses of the unemployed, which should be available about the time the ground thaws, out digging the trenches for ground loop cooling in any place where it makes technical sense. Once they've got the lines buried they can install the PV cells or the home sized wind turbine to drive it.

If I had $20k I could free this place of $3k a year in heating and cooling bills ... seven year payout on something that lasts twenty five seems like a pretty good deal to me. I guess we shall see how that goes ...

Cow- I think you missed something in the calculation. $3,000 is a 15% return. that's pretty good. you'll make your money back in less than 5 years. that is assuming that prices won't go up, therefore you'll get an even quicker return provided you don't cut your energy consumption. because you're here, I think you think prices for energy will go up.

my father replaced his 50% efficient furnace with a 90% one. tremendous savings. this will happen with everything. cars and how ever else we use energy.

Yes, and where do I now go for that $20,000 with every financial institution in the country drowning in bad debt? They're cutting off millions of people by restoring old debt-income ratios.

And if consumers were rational actors, why don't they all go for that 15% return this very month instead of buying new trucks when they've hardly begun paying off their old trucks?

A growth-based economy requires a growth-based society with a growth-based ideology. The bankers and the truck-buyers only understand buying consumer goods as a form of growth. They will spend themselves into bankruptcy because they've been trained to do so. It is utterly alien to them that people would borrow money to become self-sufficient and thus cut themselves off from the utility companies and (gasp) reduce the GNP.

"Yes, and where do I now go for that $20,000 with every financial institution in the country drowning in bad debt? They're cutting off millions of people by restoring old debt-income ratios.

And if consumers were rational actors, why don't they all go for that 15% return this very month instead of buying new trucks when they've hardly begun paying off their old trucks?"

Go to a bank and see if you can get a loan. are you saying no loans were made the last few months? I just read that 600,000 new homes(as opposed to existing homes) were bought last month. you can still get a loan. people are still loaning money.

I never said consumers were rational and I never said anything about trucks.

I think you are thinking of an exponential payback, which technically this is not. 15% x 5 years = only 75% payback. As both of you noted - it is still a good rate.

Re the Kunstler article, Kunstler should definitely have a TV and radio talk show. I am actually surprised that this hasn't happened yet. He is the only guy out there that has the prescence to shout down Limbaugh and the other right wing radio/TV wackos and shills.

I agree, Kunstler should have a TV show. Kunslters Movie Reviews! :D

btw congrats to Robert, baring a international incedent he looks to be a richer man in 2008. :)

My guess is that his opponent was JHK

The persistent talk of rare earth materials becoming a problem in the production of our technological products, it strikes me that there will come a point where we will all start looking down, rather than up, for our energy needs.

GeoThermal plants do not require special materials... what it requires is brute force to get down to where the heat is (assuming we can't all live on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge or Hawaii).

Humans have always excelled at brute force. Be it killing each other, damming the worlds largest rivers, or driling oil wells 10KM below the Gulf of Mexico... I think the smart oil companies will realise that they have both the expertise and the equipment to make serious inroads.

There was a study published recently on Geothermal resources in BC (Pacific Coast Canada), while fishing in my youth, I was lucky enough to visit many of the Hot Springs that dot the secluded inlets and bays up the Coast. It wouldn't surprise me if they will become part of a new revolution in massive engineering and energy projects.

There is a lot of geothermal power generation along the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains. All the way along the Owens Valley you can see plants every 10-15 miles to the west up against the foothills. It is a good source of energy and one that is just starting to be looked at on a wider scale.

Yes, the Long Valley Caldera may of been one of the largest eruptions ever--
I lived in Mammoth in the 1970's, and hot springs were everywhere. The question of Mammoth Mountain erupting is on everyones mind.

From the Washington Post >>>>>

2008, a Year of Petroleum Exuberance

......... We'll guzzle gas and recycle paper and plastic. We'll celebrate.

Happy New Year!


He missed the most "amazing" new development of all:

As somebody at Google told Kunstler, "Dude, we've got technology!!! " [Scroll down or do a find.]

We do have technology. why kunstler dismisses that is beyond me. does anyone really think we've reached the peak tech in MPG or the energy equivalent of a gallon? No.

The overwhelming bulk of our new technology solves problems that our old technology didn't solve or even address, because we've been chasing problems we haven't understood for 10,000 years.

You remind of the Germans at the end of WWII when the leaders had all their faith in new technological weapons to save them.
They produced fantastic weapons, any one of which produced in quantity, could have changed the course of the war.

The problem was they had to solve other problems before they could produce enough of the weapons to make a difference.

They needed time.
They needed energy. Energy was money.
They needed to feed their army and civilians.

Now that you have all the technological solutions to the problem of PO.

Can you give your solutions to.........
Economic collapse and unemployment
Climate change
Food production
I reckon if you can solve those problems the rest will take care of itself.

It's all well and good to have the ideas.
It's best to dig the well before you are thirty.

"You remind of the Germans at the end of WWII when the leaders had all their faith in new technological weapons to save them."

The Germans had us and the Russians breathing down their necks. they didn't believe in technology, they believed that there was no way the the German soldier would be beaten by the Russian soldier or the American soldier. Same for the Japanese.

That's why they didn't have time.

"They didn't believe in technology". You are uninformed.

Hitler in his speeches continually referred to his "wonder weapons".

He had jets, missiles and rockets before the west.

He thought they would have the A bomb to win the war, huge resources were employed in attempting to develop it.

Germany had the best scientists in the world, they were unable to save them.

bandits- you simply can't compare PO to WWII. it's just not the same. first of all, hitler never thought the Russians or Americans would be Berlin. he probably just started really believing in technology because he was losing. the peak oil equivalent of the Russians in Berlin would be a 99% decrease in oil production within 6 months. that's the PO equivalent of the Russians taking Berlin.

Happy New Year. I'm out.

bandits isn't comparing PO to WWII Germany. He's comparing you to WWII Germany!

And you are just plain wrong in thinking "[Hitler] probably just started really believing in technology because he was losing".

Hitler was fascinated by technology right from the beginning of the rise of the German war machine. The mechanization of the German army and continued development in armour, aircraft and submarines were all driven by personal approval of Hitler.

The problem is, he had as much understanding of engineering as some of the technocopians here on TOD, especially the limits of engineering, manufacturing and resource economics.

Hitler was a passionate speaker and would often rant on for hours to his generals about some new development or idea. Facts and figures were all about anecdotes to be used in arguments, not about cold analysis of options. He made up his mind and then went on to find or manufacture facts to support his arguments.

For example as enemy armour developed, he insisted that German tanks be fitted with ever larger calibre guns and with ever thicker armour plating. The result was that some of the later models were just ridiculously heavy, not being able to move over most terrain without sinking into the ground.

Time and time again the war ministry tried to talk sense to Hitler about economies of resources and limits of engineering. Most of the new technologies, of which Hitler had commissioned prototypes to be showcased to him personally, were ludicrously difficult or expensive to manufacture, or had some basic tactical flaw. Like the massive railroad gun with a useless rate of fire and vulnerable to air attack.

So, please start by reading Heinz Guderian's "Panzer General". Guderian was one of the few generals in Wehrmacht who stood up to Hitler throughout the whole war (and survived). He was also the developer of German armour (Panzer) and Blitzkrieg and goes on to explain many of the discussions and arguments he had with Hitler. The book also gives a good idea of the whole progression of the war from the German perspective.

Hitler totally goofed on two particular points - the production of the Tiger and the use of the marvelous Me-262 as a fighter bomber.

The Tiger caused "Tiger Terror" among allied troops. It could punch out a Sherman head on at 1,000 yards and the Shermans had to get within 600 yards and to its side to have a hope of immobilizing it with a track shot. The consensus among historians is that effort to build the 1,355 Tigers would have been much better spent on building 2,710 Panthers - they were too complex, too heavy, and too few to make a difference, despite their fearsome reputation.

Hitler's meddling in the use of the Me-262 cost them dearly. Had they done just a little more bomber zapping and a little less bomb dropping themselves we might have canceled our daylight raids, given the Germans breathing room to stop the Allied advance.

We do have technology. why kunstler dismisses that is beyond me.

Kunstler does not dismiss technology, he just understands that there is a fundamental difference between technology and energy. That is his beef. The folks at Google did not understand that very simple fact and apparently you do not either.

Getting a few more miles per gallon will make preciously little difference in the crisis that will come when crude oil starts to diminish…..forever.

Ron Patterson

"The folks at Google did not understand that very simple fact and apparently you do not either."

a few more miles per gallon? try a 100 mpg PHEV. is that good enough? the problem for kunstler is he doesn't understand that the ICE isn't the end all of transportation. the 25 MPG engine isn't the end all of personal transportation. rising prices also brings demand destruction and conservation. oil isn't the last energy source.


Get a clue.

Just run the numbers yourself. I'll get you started.

A) determine at what point past peak oil that people decide to get serious about replacing the current 300 million-strong fleet of vehicles to PHEV. Gas is over $3/gallon and oil production appears stalled for the past 3 years and we're not at this step yet.

B) determine how long it will take to replace the fleet with the 100 mpg PHEVs. Figure out how much oil is being saved each year if you assume a gradual replacement of cars.

C) determine a reasonable rate of oil production decline for the time period after step A.

D) Once your fleet is replaced with PHEVs, determine total oil usage. Compare with total oil production at that time after the years of production decline.

E) Understand that oil production decline is not going to stop. So determine how many years your PHEV society can last.

F) Determine how much total money was spent replacing the car fleet and divide by the number of years it bought you. This is the cost per year of your solution that stops being a solution at the end.

Still think this is the best plan?

You left out the part about how on earth the already strained power grid will accommodate a massive switch to powering the automobile fleet with electricity instead of oil.

Frankly, I left out a lot, but you gotta start somewhere with such folks.

Rising prices don't bring demand destruction, they bring affordability destruction. There are probably a billion or more people who do not have cars who would like to have a car if they could afford it. Or more food. Or a proper roof over their heads. Or clean water. Or equipment to do research. Or any number of other things.

Equating demand with what people can afford is one of the biggest economic jokes out...

Rising prices don't bring demand destruction, they bring affordability destruction.

Ehhhh NZ, methinks they are one and the same thing. Not being to afford something because the price is too high is demand destruction caused by high prices.

Ron Patterson

I think Kunstler is of the opinion that the technology, understood by an ever-smaller elite of Americans, breeds a culture of entitlement and apathy that prevents the growing mass of normal Americans from even trying to understand anything that goes on around them. Thus the harder the engineers work to make products more efficient, the more consumers will simply waste energy to the maximum limits of their credit cards.

Ironically, there's a libertarian argument condemning safety devices like antilock brakes on cars on the grounds that over the years people seem to drive more recklessly in the expectation that the devices will let them get away with it. Of course that's only ironic if you, John15, are a libertarian. My take on the argument is: hey libertarians, did you also check the German safety stats? They have plenty of safe cars, and still seem to drive pretty safely. Doubtless because German society deems a driver's license a responsibility that requires stringent training.

Markets are not value-free.

The only way you will get most Americans to pay attention while driving is with a dagger pointed at their chest sticking out of the steering wheel instead of an airbag.

Yikes. What a raging river was wrung from my small damp cloth. I never wouldda thunk it. Youse guys got no sense o' humor.

More seriously, though, if we took even a quarter of the effort we put into moving pixels around on screens in ever more complicated and allegedly more entertaining ways, and put it into energy-related bets of all kinds, we would probably be well served. After all, there is some validity to Kunstler's underlying point, which might be that the technology of shifting pixels and miniaturizing electronics tends to operate largely inside a separate and parallel cyberspace universe, whereas our most urgent problems seem to lie in the boring, oh-so-dreary, ever-ignored meatspace universe.

Was this linked here before?

This is from 21st December. I agree in part and think it is insightful but gives the Russians and Chinese much too much credit.


"Strategic Siege" in the Great Game
by J. R. Nyquist
Weekly Column Published: 12.21.2007

Somebody wants his World War III back.

Bush had more of a motive for 9/11 than Russia or China. 9/11 silenced dissent and facilitated unprecedented attacks on the Bill of Rights. The current disunity this author claims was the evil Commies' goal was in fact the result of years of the monstrous uses to which our rulers put 9/11. The economic catastrophe is the result of Bush's corrupt and massive redistribution of wealth to his cronies and the need to cover it up with a debt-based illusion of broad prosperity. That in turn caused us to march the world to the brink of Peak Oil.

The bailout is about liquidity, but it also about not getting sued:

Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson, proposed a “freeze” on a limited number of adjustable rate mortgages. On the surface, the idea of saving families from foreclosure sounds appealing. However, it also prevents the owners of the mortgage-backed securities, many of them foreign, from suing the issuers of these securities to buy them back at face value.

In addition, foreclosures are being stymied in Ohio by the courts, since creditors of mortgage-backed investment pools may not have clear title to the homes being foreclosed. Chalk another one up for Wall Street securitized mortgages

Nothing is as it seems - any pablum prepped for the suffering home owners is just that, and as soon as its served its purpose it'll be gone. Once the work is done to ensure the big money doesn't get called to account for what has been done the squashing of the little guy will resume.




In the past few years the cost to produce photovoltaic cells and modules has dropped significantly, opening the way for large-scale deployment. Various cell types exist, but the least expen­sive modules today are thin films made of cadmium telluride.

Happy New Year from Germany.

We just celebrated.

Lake Lanier Ga. Is up 7.5 inches from its low point on Dec. 28th, an additional 19 acre feet, after Dec. rain fall of 3.8 inches.

So it looks as though Atlanta has received a 3 week or more reprieve on its water supply. As of this time it is still rising.


Are you saying the whole lake is only 30 acres? And 19 acre feet is only about six million gallons - one good flush for every Atlanta resident.

Just checked the link - scale by 1,000, as the table is in kilo acre feet, not acre feet :-)

Must. Check. Math ...

Lake Lanier is 38,000 acres. Of course it might be a bit less now that the water level has dropped so far.


Ron Patterson

Good call: I deleted the 3 zeroes to add a K but I guess I never got it back in. Anyway its still a 3 week reprieve.

"One thing the public doesn't get about the housing debacle is that it is not just the low point in a regular cycle -- it is the end of the suburban phase of US history."

Kunstler strikes me as someone who doesn't like the suburbs and therefore he thinks they're gone and doesn't want to hear anything but that. more of a wish than a reality in his mind.

JHK may be off on his timeframe, but if you're around long enough you'll see that the suburbs will be essentially useless soon: too dispersed for people to live in, not enough land area to farm. Neither city nor country, with the survival drawbacks of each.

More and more For Sale signs going up in every suburb I go through.

"More and more For Sale signs going up in every suburb I go through."

That's mainly the housing bubble, not PO. PO doesn't help of course.

Kuntsler has his own reasons for hating the suburbs, but that does not mean that within the context of Peak Oil, they aren't horrible places as lived in now.

Personally, if you travel back in time using some good ale and a James Herriot book, you'll see that a sustainable life in a Western country, England, was possible as a sort of spread-out suburb.

Take the modern burbs, wreck all but every 5th house, turn their golf courses and "green zones" of manicured grass into growing area, make it so you only need to go into "town" once a month if that, and they become delightful.

Out of every 5 houses built of crap, you should retrieve enough decent wood to make one good house.

The burbs cover what was once our best land for small farms, and they can be again.

"but that does not mean that within the context of Peak Oil, they aren't horrible places as lived in now."

"Take the modern burbs, wreck all but every 5th house, turn their golf courses and "green zones" of manicured grass into growing area, make it so you only need to go into "town" once a month if that, and they become delightful."

those are your opinions. many people like the suburbs and don't agree with you.

I'm saying, the burbs may not be sustainable when there's no fuel to take your SUV the 50 miles into town to reprovision under the JIT system.

ELP means you have to try to grow stuff, you'll be one hell of a lot HAPPIER growing stuff, locally. Producing. Proving that a daily trip in the SUV is not actually necessary for human life.

As the Depression progresses, there will be a lot of empty houses in the burbs. Houses are already starting to empty there.

I LIKE the burbs, where the burbs mean the kind we had as a kid, the "snout house" was not yet fully developed so you could find people's front doors, and you actually knew the people too. There were large yards and places to run around, wild land, etc.

The Crash will bring a return to this, as empty stucco and vinyl boxes either rot or are hopefully wrecked carefully and useable materials retrieved. The people who can stay, who don't end up part of the homeless hordes who flock to the cities for the chance to get into a soup line, are going to be in better burbs than we've had in a long time. There will be gardens and chickens and goats and crawdads and crappies will grow in what was a sterile golf course lake.

I love the burbs!

This is where I differ with Kuntsler, who favors dense cities without burbs at all. He does not seem to understand that the burbs will become villages, like Herriot's England, with tiny village centers here and there, and the "big" things in the nearest town, to which you don't need to go that often. Some of us might LIKE living with the chickens and the cows and the corn and beans. Out in the burbs.

Ding! We have a winner!

There are different kinds of burbs. Those that are not located in natural farming areas (most everything west of the Mississippi) won't be easily converted to farms/villages. However, the stuff east of the Mississippi basically WAS farming villages, and then the farms (typically of 2-10 acres I'd imagine, plenty for a family without Southern slave labor) were broken up into smaller units to increase the number of houses.

I not only live in a burb, I happen to live in the Mother Of All Burbs, Westport CT, which is now place from which people commute to New York. I call it the Mother of All Burbs because it used to be a place where a lot of Madison Ave types lived in the 1950s and 1960s (and maybe still do), and also where Martha Stewart had (until recently) her main house. Thus, the "image" of the ideal US burb -- the reason why single-family houses in Arizona are made of wood and have a lawn in the front and back instead of being adobe surrounding a central courtyard in the Spanish style -- is because of the image that originates, quite literally, from the former villages and farmlands surrounding New York, and is then expressed in the mass media and advertising.

The original villages and farms are still there, once you get five or so miles away from major train lines and freeways. Those original villages, of course, were modeled upon the English countryside, the US being an English colony and all.

I was looking at original 18th century houses in the area on a bike ride just yesterday. They fit right in the burby landscape.

A lot of people liked Rome too, and yet it fell.

I guess opinions don't count for much when one can't explain how the system works. Like how we will keep paying for additional extremely expensive houses when the real hourly wages of most people are going down, those people are already working longer hours and wasting even more hours on long commutes from more distant suburbs, the cost of oil is driving up the cost of construction, manufacturing, food, and even the cost of drilling for more oil, extreme weather is putting entire American cities at risk while the Bush "unitary executive" goes all laissez-faire about it, and the accumulated debts that have single-handedly kept America out of recession for 6 years (do you know how a Keynesian multiplier works?) can no longer be turned into new debts.

It's no different than the problems that finished off Rome. The problems got closer and closer, there were more and more close calls, and the ordinary people were of the self-serving opinion that the system had always worked before so it always would work. If you can't even conceive of the possibility of system failure, then you have abdicated any voice in system reform and adaptation. This is absolutely not the citizenry the Founding Fathers had in mind.

Gosh, John, ya think?

Suburbia should be well and truly hated for oh so many reasons, not the least of which is its fantastic ugliness, crappy construction, and sterile community.

Of course, you will tell me how much you love ugly buildings, crappy construction and sterile community.

And you will defend to the death your right to love the worst things.

My guess is you've lived there your whole life. Well, I actually understand. For people who grew up in the basement of an outhouse, anything less might seem pretty crappy. You just get used to what you have. See, cultural relativism works!

"Of course, you will tell me how much you love ugly buildings, crappy construction and sterile community."

I've never lived in them. don't much care for them but a lot of people like their living arrangements. a lot of people are willing to pay a bit more and travel a little longer to live there.

"sterile community"

your community is what you make it.

Your community is what you AND YOUR NEIGHBORS make it.

My own prognosis is for a bifurcated Suburbia.

One part will be abandoned (except for the odd hold-out here and there) and converted to orchards in most cases (farmland formerly used for row crops cannot be easily returned to row crops. Too much topsoil removed, concrete added, etc.) and grazing land in other cases.

The other part will be what I call "Transit Suburbia", a model would be some (not all) of the small towns around Boston. Tight, walkable communities where some people walk or bicycle to work and others take the commuter train into Boston. A small factory or two might be located in the typical Transit Suburban Town. In the future, a mid-day freight train could bring supplies & mail/packages out and take in produce & products (from farming & small factories). (Such a train would stop at each of several towns along the line, it would avoid "Rush Hour" and operate 3 to 7 times/week depending upon demand)

Many in Transit Suburbia will live in multi-family housing (duplex to 8-plex) that may be based upon old SFRs (single family residences) with extensions/remodeling, and a couple of multi-story apartment/condo complexes right next to the train station and downtown shopping.

Best Hopes for TOD,


Happy New Year JHK, James, Jim, Mr.K. I agree with your prognosis, timing will be the question.
To the rest of you who think there is still a debate, please entertain yourselves. This site has debated this to death and there is only "the timing" question left.

I applaud the very hard work and high quality postings of the individuals who make this site work.
Happy New Years and the very best to you. May you secure for yourselves the best way to forge forward, and may the forward thinking knowledge that you have expressed here continue to evolve into a way to save what is better about being human.
All the best,

When it comes to making predictions about the future, one does much better if one attempts to forecast trends as opposed to specific numbers. Looking back over the past 3 years, if one looks at the trends instead of the individual numbers, and attempts to see where those trends are taking us...... Well try it yourself and see how optimistic you feel then

The Catastrophist Wet Dream

Today's Drumbeat has as it's first linked story the diatribe by James Howard Kunstler. This is the first story that would be linked by any newcomer here.

Can one imagine a sadder introduction to the discussion of "Peak Oil and Our Future" than this catastrophist wet dream of the utter destruction of the United States of America?

After the diatribe by Kunstler, one of the first response on the story on his website could not have put the attitude of those who hate this nation and every single thing it stands for better than this....
"I wish you were right, but so far I have been waiting for this so called end of the world for more than 20 years. It will happen, just a lot slower."

Yesterday, I was assured by a poster here on TOD that "There are no Primitive Anarchists here."

I beg to differ.

TOD insults and humiliates all of us who are deeply concerned about energy depletion, reduction of energy waste, and moving toward a sustained, humane and secure America through inventive and creative design and workable alternatives by association with this man James Howard Kunstler. It insults the legitimate cause of Peak oil.

His diatribes are not "forecasts" but are wishful thinking. I cannot say that he will be wrong. He is like the forecaster who "predicted 6 of the last 2 recessions". Sooner or later, he has to be right about something, based on the premise that a stopped watch is right at least twice a day.


ThatsIt, I beg to differ:

"the attitude of those who hate this nation and every single thing it stands for"

It's true I do hate "rendition flights" and waterboarding and indefinite detention without habeus corpus and overthrowing elected governments to install friendly dictators and investment in violence (military spending) equal to the rest of the world put together. Unfortunately, due to its quest for a disproportionate share of the world's resources, this is what America has come to stand for.

Both entropy and the resentment of the exploited dictate that this condition cannot continue indefinitely. Our Evil Empire will come to an end just as all of its predecessors have. Denigrating the messenger (Kunstler) does not invalidate the message.

Many thanks to all TOD contributors for your insights and willingness to debate frightening issues in a rational manner.

Warmest best wishes for a Healthy and Happy New Year to all,

TOD is biased towards people who "get it". People who can examine graphs, calculations, and quickly internalize their import. People who have some experience managing either processes or technology and who know just how long it takes to move from one system to another and the intermediate dance steps that come between point A and point Z. People who understand how a complex system can degrade or fail entirely, perhaps never to be repaired.

The layman reading Kunstler would probably be either amused or terribly distressed. I enjoy his writing style and I take his pronouncements as the "worst case estimate". I'm hustling on my own stuff as if he is right, but I've got my fingers crossed that he is badly wrong and we've got six more years before it gets truly ugly rather than six more months.

Yes, ThatsItImout, we really are concerned about your continued paranoia about those nasty anarcho-primitivists lurking in those corners.

But to say that "TOD insults and humiliates all of us who are deeply concerned about energy depletion" is just bit too much...

We're here to discuss the issue, from all angles, and unfortunately for you that includes scenarios which you call Catastrophist. Further you imply that people in TOD prefer these particular scenarios because of some sort of malice towards the human race. I mean, grow up!

Your "sustained, humane and secure America" stinks to high and heaven of a preset agenda on how things should go, to talk about "wishful thinking" - and your "inventive and creative design and workable alternatives" just sound like have-the-cake-and-eat-it technocopian fantasies.

Discuss the issue, not this agitation rhetoric again. Nobody's interested.


Yeah, your right, it's over....

By the way, I sent a friend of mine over here the other day, college educated, very sharp....she had heard the reporting of the Matt Simmons presentation in the University of Kentucky newspaper....it didn't make the media, I didn't even know he was at UK, she was interested, so I sent her here to TOD and to the slide presentation on Simmon's website....

Funny huh?


TOD insults and humiliates all of us who are deeply concerned about energy depletion, reduction of energy waste, and moving toward a sustained, humane and secure America through inventive and creative design and workable alternatives by association with this man James Howard Kunstler.

Then you must really love to be insulted and humiliated, because you keep coming back for more.


I know, you of course are very correct....I am a night worker, so when I get off from work late in the evening I drop in, and let's be honest, the good stuff here is very good....I have learned from the best here, that's for sure, and enjoyed some of the discussions and links to technology breakthroughs that aren't covered very well in the MSM....I am going to have find some way to edit some of the other stuff and not let it get to me..., but I find I can't help arguing against what seems to me to be pure madness...when I should just shake my head and let it go by....and of course, anyone I send here who is not familiar with the "sociology" doesn't know how to separate the wheat from the chaff....

The problem is at my end, but I can't help venting....so I will beg your forgiveness, I was not intending to be rude.


It insults the legitimate cause of Peak oil.

Peak oil has a legitimate cause? I know it has a geological cause but "legitimate" is not a word that seems to fit in this case.

But why do you rant against us doomers Roger? All we are trying to do is get people to prepare themselves for a catastrophy. That is, get them to try to be among the survivors.

I love Kunstler because he tells it exactly like it is. So rant all you like Roger, that will not change the facts. And the facts are we are headed toward The End Of Civilization As We Know It and only the very prepared and the very lucky will be among the survivors.

Others wait for fusion and other technology to save the world. They are waiting for Godot.

Ron Patterson


Your right of course, my syntax was somewhat confused, peak oil occurs at it's own geological pace....I was intending to refer to those who try to discuss, learn, and let others know about the potential consequences and possible mitigation and alternatives....

And I made my apology to Leanan, as I told her, I was not intending to be rude, I just vented a bit too strongly....

As for Kunstler, you and I wil just have to differ, I think he tells nothing the way it is. Well, maybe one thing....when he complains about the ugliness of modern architecture as it is being practiced today, I think he could have been a good architecture critic :-)

And of course your correct, arguing with Kunstler and his followers is pointless, we all have to believe what we want to believe. I only make myself look foolish in arguing. As I told Leanan, the problem is purely at my end, I forgot the cardinal rule: You can't change how others may percieve things, you can only control your reaction to them. The apology is on me, and thanks for an interesting line of discussion. :-)


The guy keeps on saying "This is it, I'm out" but never leaves?

Can't he at least say "Thank you, thank you, by the way, try the fish" and put the mic down and leave?

Just so you know, you're not the only one who finds Kunstler's approach unhelpful. Yes, he may have some salient points to offer, but I think too often he makes the familiar mistake of confusing 'Brutal Honesty' with mere 'Brutality'.. I'm not swayed to action or a change of mind because he gets himself into a fine lather for his missives.. it's boring and discouraging. JFK he ain't.

(That was funny, the spellcheck in Firefox didn't like 'Ain't' until I put the apostrophe in it..)

You're allowed to have a rant about it, aren't you? I thought it was fairly mild, really. I'm still waiting for the happy day that Cherenkov burns out his exclamation mark Key.. not that I'd compare his posts with yours. Just saying..

Darwinian said, "All we are trying to do is get people to prepare themselves for a catastrophy. " (his spelling.. but ok, it's 1am on New Years..) .. Well yeah, but I have little doubt that Kunstler has solidified as many people AGAINST his 'Grrr! Suburbia! NASCAR morons..' Themes as he has found converts. Good luck with it, but I say it's a dead end, and I'll criticize it when it's going overboard. Someone yesterday said JHK was the perfect one to go head-to-head with Rush and his ilk.. To me, that's the case of 'using the same thinking that caused the problem to try and fix it.' I don't need more of their games. Air America Radio tried that with Mike Malloy, and now Lionel. This Jim Kramer 'cult of excess personality' plays to me as nothing more than desperation. No Sale.

I don't think abusiveness is effective or acceptable, and so I agree in many respects with your initial point that this kind of writing belongs out at the edge of the spectrum here, not planted in the middle. I'm not worried that intelligent people can't see that there is certainly enough 'Wheat' here to put up with the chaff.. but I think it does take constant attention to keep the bar from slipping..

I'm glad you said it.

Bob Fiske


Thank you for your reply, but on the other hand, I messed up and admit it....I shouldn't have answered what I felt was wild rhetoric by going into a snit myself, it basically undercut my own positon (such that it was) and ended up causing a cycle of conversation that was "all heat and no light", and that was my error.

I mis-stated what I meant and made it seem like I was insulting TOD, which was not the original intent of my post, but I let annoyance cloud my way of phrasing an argument.

As you said,
"I'm glad you said it"
I am glad I stood my position, but annoyed at myself for not better structuring what I said and controlling my emotion a bit better.

I slipped up and didn't obey the old rule "don't raise your voice, improve your argument" :-)


Let he who has never ranted cast the first hissyfit.

You apologized several times. Now go slap yourself and be good Kentucky boy.

I love your rants much as any other. A good rant in the morning has the smell of gunpowder about it.

Rants are part of TOD too or should be. If not overly done.

airdale-said this

Hey Roger, what is wrong with "The utter destruction of the United States of America"? Since roughly 5% of the planet's human population consume 25% of the FF energy available, it is obviously in the interests of 95% of the population to get rid of "Homo US-urpians" as fast as possible!! Then we might have the needed 20 years or so to work out how to run the world on a reasonable basis.

I personnally enjoy JHK's weekly rant, and often find useful bits of information or considered opinion, either in the article or the comments. Far moreso that any USA MSM crap or CERA BS.

I live in New Zealand; an unimportant nation far from anywhere that matters. We Kiwis have a highly exaggerated idea of our place in the world, but fortunately we lack the ability to inflict our opinions on other nations (except for Australia, and they count for even less, being made up of a nation of convicts).

Sadly, the same cannot be said for the USA. In both WW1 and WW2 the US profiteered by suporting both sides until it became apparent which side would win, and then belatedly joining the winning team. Thus they became "Emperor" by default rather that by superiority. Empires may be reprehensible, but they need to be run by people who know what the hell they are doing!! I cannot think of a single instance where the USA has initiated an occupation or war which benefitted anyone: the USA, The invaded nation, Gaia, the Vatican, or Uncle Tom Cobbly!! Face facts: the USA is a loser nation that doesn't have a clue where to go!!

Peak oil has probably passed, but even if there is a future hiccup that exceeds May 2005, it won't mean much in the global scale of things. The world is grossly overpopulated by humans and the globalised/capitalistic meme is the worst possible scenario for a comfortable future for Homo=semisapiens.

Sadly as an invalid aged 58 I am unlikely to see a resolution of this F**ked up scenario.



Did you get out of the wrong side of the bed today?

Your characterization of the US entry into the First World War is unfair, since the US declared war a month after the Tsar Nicholas II abdicated, a time when it was not at all clear what the balance of power would be with Russia leaving the war.

Your characterization of the US entry in the Second World War is also unfair, since Japan attacked the US precisely because we stopped selling oil to them.

Would you rather live in South Korea or the prison camp that North Korea has become?


Dude. You live in New Zealand, (as do I). If it weren't for the states in WWII your parents would've spent the forties working to death in the fields. And you wouldn't exist.

Go and google "battle of coral sea"

Merv, :-) i think it's the very first paragraph of your comment that's really hurting...but then, the truth always hurts ;-)
Pretty somber all this.

Now for "ordinary" people to understand what's happening, would it be helpful to dissociate the peak oil moment of the easy, good and cheap stuff, which we all agree (I think) happened quite some time ago, and the peak oil moment (or plateau) of the ugly, expensive, difficult stuff that remains deep down ?


Um, Merv, I think your view of history is a little blinkered. Maybe it's those many time zones of separation between NZ and much of the real world.

The USA's reaction to the wars was influenced in no small measure by the isolation provided by those oceans on either side of the USA. Most folks didn't have the opportunity to profiteer off any side in either war, they just figured - correctly - that it wasn't their responsibility that Europeans chose to kill each other yet again for the umpteenth time. That lulled many into a sort of exasperated quasi-pacifism which lasted until events finally intruded on them.

Oh, and by comparison to the world average, NZ's per capita fossil fuel consumption is staggeringly high, too. Rather less than the USA's, but astoundingly high considering that heating, cooling, and transportation are big drivers of FF consumption. Nothing to boast about there, when the main populated parts of NZ have no summer (Wellington all time record high a mere 86F, I can only dream), no winter (all time record low a mere 32F, I can only dream), and since the place is a pair of islands, no place truly distant to drive to.

Oh, and if there is a gross global overpopulation problem, the current US population is hardly to blame. It's roughly replacing itself, nothing more. Essentially all the increase is immigration from places that still choose to do far more than their share of reproducing.

So, I dunno, the only beef you really have is NZ's insignificance on the world stage. That's hardly the USA's fault, nor even George Bush's fault.

P.S. - I'll second the remark about the nonexistence many NZers would enjoy today if the USA hadn't stepped into WWII, even if it perhaps stepped in a bit late.

Conventional thinking says that if the U.S. economy slows, the demand for oil will fall and prices will lower. I see the U.S. economy slowing in 2008, but prices to remain high for oil.