DrumBeat: January 1, 2008

Why the era of cheap food is over

Two major trends have been pushing prices up faster than they have risen for more than 30 years. One is that increasingly prosperous consumers in India and China are not only eating more food but eating more meat. Animals have to be fed (grains, usually) before they are butchered. The other is that more and more crops – from corn to palm nuts – are being used to make biofuels instead of feeding people.

At the same time, the world is drawing down its stockpiles of cereal and dairy products, which makes markets nervous and prices volatile.

The result, says Joachim von Braun, who heads the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington, is that "the world food system is in trouble. The situation has not been this much of a concern for 15 years."

Cost of crude oil ends year 57 percent higher

Oil prices ended the year near $96 a barrel, or 57 percent higher than where they began, and analysts expect rising demand and geopolitical instability to keep upward pressure on energy costs early in 2008.

“There’s a good chance this week that we’ll see some record highs,” Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates in Galena, Ill., said.

UK: Decrease in traffic due to fuel prices, says expert

AN UNEXPECTED fall in road traffic across Northern Ireland may have been because of high fuel prices, a road expert has said.

Figures released in the Assembly show that traffic volumes on all classes of road fell in 2006 — following years where the trend had been inexorably upwards.

UK: Bus fares go up

Bus passengers are facing a fares increase to rival the price rises on train services.

First, the biggest operator of bus services in the Bradford district, is putting up some fares by as much as 14 per cent from Sunday.

The company says the increases are because of rising fuel costs.

NTUC chief urges Singaporeans to be prepared to live with higher fuel, food prices

"There's no running away from higher energy costs, higher food prices because this is a global phenomenon. But what we can do in Singapore is to make sure our workers are able cope with this better that any other workers in any other countries."

Turning the tide against oil pipeline vandals

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) late last week raised an alarm that very powerful Nigerians are behind the persistent fuel pipeline fires in the country.

Arab bourses score impressive gains in 2007

Arab stock markets recorded major gains in 2007, above all thanks to soaring oil prices that secured huge surplus petrodollars for oil-rich Arab countries, analysts said Tuesday.

Israeli nanotech provides green electricity

Orionsolar's nanotechnology based solar power cells could have a big impact - on energy conservation, global warming, and your home electric bill. In fact, the company's innovative developments in the area of solar technology will change not only the way you and I get our electrical power, according to Breen; but also bring the magic of electricity to people who, until now, have never had the opportunity to turn the lights on in their own homes.

‘Grease cars’ — the answer to high gas prices?

Move over gas-guzzlers. Make way for grease cars, the latest do-it-yourself auto trend for eco-conscious drivers.

British wildlife in steep decline as man-made activities take their toll

Several of Britain's best-known animal species, ranging from the hedgehog to the harbour seal, are now suffering declines that require serious conservation action, according to a comprehensive report on the status of British mammals.

Bad microbes on the move

SINCE the 1950s, when scientists first identified the mosquito-borne tropical disease known as chikungunya, its reach has been limited to countries near the Indian Ocean. But in August, chikungunya broke out in Italy. Now World Health Organization officials are calling it the first example of a tropical disease, aided by global warming, causing an epidemic in a developed European country. The outbreak should spur efforts both to curb greenhouse gases and to prepare public health defenses against infections spread by climate change.

In 2008, a 100 Percent Chance of Alarm

I’d like to wish you a happy New Year, but I’m afraid I have a different sort of prediction.

You’re in for very bad weather. In 2008, your television will bring you image after frightening image of natural havoc linked to global warming. You will be told that such bizarre weather must be a sign of dangerous climate change — and that these images are a mere preview of what’s in store unless we act quickly to cool the planet.

Iran reduces gas exports to Turkey after Turkmen cut

Iran has reduced natural gas exports to Turkey after Turkmenistan halted supplies to Iran, an Iranian energy official said on Tuesday, adding he expected Turkmen deliveries to be restored by the end of the week. An Iranian news agency, Fars, said Iran had slashed its daily sales to Turkey by around 75 percent to 4-5 million cubic metres due to Turkmenistan's move and the cold winter weather.

Natural gas drilling expected to keep falling in '08, oilsands activity to grow

Natural gas producers and drillers, whose field activity plummeted this year probably won't be seeing much relief in 2008, while action in the oilsands is expected to intensify thanks to record-high crude oil prices.

Kenya: Fuel and food shortages loom as shops remain closed

Kenyans could be in for tough times if the standoff over the presidential election results is not resolved soon as food and fuel shortages begin to bite.

Yesterday, motorists and airlines were already feeling the effects of fuel shortages as oil companies suspended distribution of the commodity due to insecurity and violence.

Pakistan: Fuel shortage may worsen power situation

The electricity shortage that currently fluctuates between 1,000 and 3,000 megawatts is likely to worsen in a few days because of problems of transporting furnace oil and diesel through the railway system and other means.

Petroleum Ministry sources told Dawn that Pakistan State Oil (PSO) has sought federal government’s permission to invoke force majeure clauses of its fuel supply agreements (FSAs) with independent power producers (IPPs) because of its inability to meet fuel requirements because damage caused to railway tracks and fuel-carrying bogies was much more than originally believed.

Myanmar Quashes Fuel Ration Cut Rumors

Myanmar's ruling military, apparently wary of igniting another outbreak of mass demonstrations, tried to quash rumors Tuesday that fuel rations would be slashed in the face of rising global oil prices.

A sudden hike in fuel prices last year led to protests that ballooned into anti-government street protests that were brutally crushed by the military.

Indian oil firms to map bigger global footprint

Analysts are asking the all-important question: how long can India avoid a pass-through of global crude prices into the domestic market?

Venezuela launches new currency

Venezuela launched a new currency with the new year, lopping off three zeros from denominations in a bid to simplify finances and boost confidence in a money that has been losing value due to high inflation.

President Hugo Chavez's government says the new currency - dubbed the "strong bolivar" - will make daily transactions easier and cure some accounting headaches. Officials also say it is part of a broader effort to contain rising prices and strengthen the economy.

Oil Rig Evacuated After Radiation Scare in Vietnam

More than 400 workers on an oil rig off Vietnam were evacuated after a small amount of radioactive material went missing, authorities said Sunday.

Workers later found the piece of iridium-192, which was used to power equipment used to check for flaws in welding on the oil rig off of the southern port city of Vung Tau, 100 kilometers east of Ho Chi Minh Ciy.

Cities and energy consumption

However, while the cities may be internally efficient, the problem doesn't just lie in the stuff that gets consumed within city limits. More often than not the bigger environmental issue lies in how that stuff gets to the city in the first place.

‘Action, action, action’ needed to fight climate change

Robert H. Socolow and Stephen W. Pacala of Princeton University pioneered this thinking with the concept of a stabilizing wedge — a specific, individual technological or social action that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one billion tons annually over 50 years.

In the remainder of this article we will present 17 different possible actions, each capable of delivering one-eighth of the total solution needed. None of these actions are simple or easy — many we don’t even know how to do today — but all are considered possible with the technological innovation we can expect in the next 50 years.

Increasing global demand for energy: Challenges and opportunities

The energy crisis has started and the world is about to go through a profound and wrenching change.

We face an energy crisis never before confronted in human history. Energy for transportation, manufacturing and everyday living will have to come from other sources than the one we use now, most likely less efficient sources. That beautiful black liquid with the fantastic power / mass ratio that was the base building block of our civilization is going to hit its mid point, global peak oil, and then slid into permanent decline and we will be forced to make major changes in our way of living. Population goes up, the oil supply goes down. Year after year, decade after decade, demand and population increase, supplies of oil decrease. Until all the oil is gone.

Oil's wild ride

Oil prices look set to end 2007 with the biggest gain this decade, climbing nearly 60 percent since the start of the year. But the ascent has been anything but steady.

U.S. consumers' wallets hit by weak greenback

Americans grousing about soaring gasoline prices often focus on the big oil companies and anyone else who might profit when costs jump at the pump. But one factor that doesn't always get fingered when prices rise — a weak U.S. dollar — could draw more attention in the coming year.

Suspected militants hit Nigerian oil city, 12 dead

Suspected militants attacked two police stations, a luxury hotel and a night club in Nigeria's oil city Port Harcourt on Tuesday killing 12 people, police said. The New Year's Day assault came after troops bombed suspected rebel hideouts near the city last weekend and after the collapse of peace talks between militants and the government of Africa's top oil producer.

Nigeria: Shell West Nigeria Output Drops By Extra 80,000 B/D

THE west base operations of the Anglo Dutch Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) which covers Delta State has suffered a drop of about 80,000 barrels per day in its maximum output, just as the company announces cost cutting measures to enable it remain afloat as the Niger Delta crisis takes toll on its operations.

An official of the organisation who spoke under condition of anonymity hinted that the company is experiencing a lull in its activities in Delta and Rivers states, where several of its installations had been vandalised and out of use.

From its one million barrel per day production capacity, Shell is said to be producing only half of the total output.

Shell completes repairs at Scotford upgrader

Royal Dutch Shell Plc completed repairs to its fire-damaged Scotford oil sands upgrader and is now producing in excess of half its 155,000 barrel per day capacity of synthetic oil, with full output expected next month.

Oil in North Dakota Brings Job Boom and Burdens

The early morning line hints at the sudden fortune that has arrived: Oil companies, saying that they located what may prove to be one of the largest recent oil finds in the United States, have begun drilling all through these parts. Fifty-two drilling rigs were at work in the state at the end of December; a count taken in October showed that 198 new wells had been drilled in a year, state officials said.

Shipbuilders Expect Another Boom Year

Despite the rapid growth of Chinese shipbuilders, South Korean shipbuilders are expected to post another record year in 2008 thanks to increasing demand for valued-added ships and high oil prices.

..."Basically, there is no concern in the industry for 2008 as top local players have already secured enough orders to keep them busy for the next four years," said Ohk Hyo-won, an analyst at Hyundai Securities.

Pa. pipeline company looks to keep its tanks full

Nearly 60 million gallons of fuel move through Buckeye Partners L.P.'s pipelines every day, but the Breinigsville, Pa., company doesn't own a drop.

Instead of buying and selling fuel, Buckeye, like other pipeline companies, is paid to transport, store and load other companies' inventory onto trucks for delivery.

But its planned purchase of Farm & Home Oil Co., a fuel distributor and marketer in Telford, for $145.5 million will dramatically change the way Buckeye does business by making it the owner of some of the fuel that courses its 5,400 miles of pipelines.

Arab Times

Kuwait’s oil exports to the Far Eastern countries increased by 10.9 percent in 2007, the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) said on Monday. Spot transactions sales to the Far East in 2007 rose from 79 percent to 81 percent whole they dropped by 2 percent to the West, from 21 percent to 19 percent, Data obtained by KUNA on the KPC’s achievements this year showed. The Corporation realized KD 1.708 billion in profits during the past fiscal year and managed to double crude oil sales to the Chinese market to 80,000 barrels a day. As for training, participants in the various training and development programs in the various units of the oils sector in 2007 hit 30,000, among them 24,000 participants in the Petroleum Training Centre (PTC) in Al-Ahmadi, an unprecedented rate in the oil sector.

Hidden Holocaust - Our Civilizational Crisis: the End of the World as We Know It?

According to an official report published by British Petroleum late last year, we have about 30 years before we peak. This is supposed to be an ‘optimistic’ assessment. Apart from the fact that this is hardly good news, it is a clearly politicized claim from an oil industry fighting to sustain its credibility as the Oil Age nears its demise. Colin Campbell, himself a former senior BP geologist, argues that the data shows we have less than 4 years; and in the meantime, former US government energy adviser Matt Simmons argues that we have most likely peaked years ago, but won’t know for sure until we start feeling the crunch within a few years.

New Energy Uses for Asphalt

If you've ever blistered your bare feet on a hot road you know that asphalt absorbs the sun's energy. A Dutch company is now siphoning heat from roads and parking lots to heat homes and offices.

As climate change rises on the international agenda, the system built by the civil engineering firm, Ooms Avenhorn Holding BV, doesn't look as wacky as it might have 10 years ago when first conceived.

This year resolve to update cosmetics to eco-friendly brands

According to Hankins, over 90 percent of all beauty and cosmetic ingredients are derived from petrochemicals and other synthetics.

"The manufacturing and processing of these compounds is not only bad for people, but it creates an unsustainable business considering we have hit peak oil production," he said.

Japan to lead climate debate as head of G8 rich club

Japan took over the presidency of the Group of Eight club of the world's leading economies Tuesday, with Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda vowing to put a focus on climate change and environmental issues.

Business rules

The year 2007 will go down in history as the year when a phase shift occurred in global public awareness of the climate change crisis. It will also go down as the year when the people of the world and their future generations were shortchanged by a clique of business interests that manipulate the policies of a few powerful rich countries.

Parting company with McKibben and, maybe, Hansen

Since beating 450 ppm is doable and certainly necessary, that's where I draw the line. One advantage of pursuing 450 is that if we do get some sort of unexpected breakthrough -- a cheap and practical way to draw CO2 out of the air (that doesn't use a lot of land, water, or energy) and stick it someplace permanent -- then we would have a system in place to deploy it fast enough to perhaps get to below 400 ppm. And even if turns out 450 doesn't avert catastrophe, it will surely slow down the impacts enough to make adaptation more viable.


dont you EVER take a brake?

happy new year.

The same from me.

Thank you Leanan. The beat goes on.

Here is something that might be worth reading in the new year.

I'm currently reading(listening mp3) Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, it might be common knowledge around here. Seems like a spiritual version of Jared Diamond.

Since the library isn't open ...

obligatory commercial source:

ebook(free reg - great site):

direct link to save reg at gigapedia:

book on tape mp3:

Paul Shepard is also worth reading. He wrote 'The Tender Carnivore and the Sacred Game' back in 70's followed by 'Nature and Madness.'
You are doing it backwards :)
Usually people read Shepard -> Quinn -> Diamond

Or you could just bypass all that and go direct to the source and the original research: John Gaudy's 'Limited Wants, Unlimited Means' is a good summary and intro into HG stuff.

oh no! now ThatsItImout will probably come stomp on us for being nasty primitivist anarchits for just mentioning Quinn :P

PS: Ishmael was boring .. but The Story of B was good!

Gowdys book is great - he is supposedly on my dissertation committee, though its hard to get everyone together on different coasts.

I never read (or heard of) Shepard, but the 3 Quinn books (particularly The Story of B), made me quit the hedge fund life and go back to study human ethology/energy/environment. My dog is named Quinn...

It's one of my pet peeve's to remind Quinn-heads that people did write stuff before him. For most Silent Spring is the earliest they know of. And only a few have read Shepard. Browsing through the university libraries there are many dusty volumes full historical perspective long forgotten, but worth their weight in gold in insight for the situation we find ourselves today...

Some of the volumes found and stored in my bookshelf include:

Jay Williams - Fall of the Sparrow
(Oxford University Press 1951)

Jacks & Whyte - The Rape of the The Earth - A World Survey of Soil Erosion
(Faber, London 1939)

These are nicely bound volumes from an age when there was still a human hand involved in making a book.

I got my friend to buy a birthday present for me. He found my favourite book, Midworld by Alan Dean Foster from 1978, via Abebooks and purchased it. It arrived, hand packaged in some British newspapers, with a hand written complement slip apologising for the slight tear in the dust cover. Beats the plastic-cardboard wrapping robots at Amazon in human contact every day!

AD: Abebooks is a a worldwide network of small second-hand bookshops with every imaginable book ever published available through them. It's a very reliable and professional service.

I have a fair number of older USDA Yearbooks. These were put out by the government printing office each year. The subjects varied ..for instance one was mostly on water, another on food & fiber and so on.

If I look thru there books my father had from the mhhh 50's , and 60's they were stressing a lot of good conservation practices.

Somewhere in possibly the 70's an idiot named Earl Butz was Sec of Ag and make this sweeping stupid statement to American farmers. "Get big or get out!"...I can remember clearly my father repeating this many times to me..

So my father took out some Ag loans from those fronting those in a semi-governmental entity. What happened? He then got two more farms and went into row cropping and cattle.

He got crushed. He died a pauper on his last 10 acres. The advice for him was insane and well as many others when a huge shakeout came around the early 80s.

Those who survived brought up that distressed land and are now millionaire farmers. Few there are here but its easy to spot them for they constantly brag on themselves.

And now I no longer see those yearbooks but I can guess what they are filled with since I did used to go to many farm shows and hear all the bullshit propaganda that was being spewed forth.

Now comes the payback!!!

airdale-Rodale is the main one I now read or of his ilk. The USDA is full of shit.


Ah, Ag Yearbooks. I have the 1936, 1940 and 1943-47 ones. Good information. I was probably the only one who thought they were neat at a little bookstore.

But, I'll tell you, my favorite old farm book is the reprint (Lyons Press) of Traditional American Farming Techniques published around 1917. And, for those interested, it's 1,085 pages of the "good" stuff. It's ISBN 1-58574-412-3.


The 37 Yearbook is possibly the best of all, a basic text on soils. Also anything from the publisher Orange, Judd, mid 1800's to 1960, especially the series written by the Watts, father and son, on vegetables, one titled "Forcing Vegetables", has the greatest picture illustrating how badly we have gone off track in the past century. It's an electric freight trolley loading at a greenhouse range to go directly into the city...and a happy New Year.

Todd, thanx for that cite on the book. I'm going to see if anyone offers it online. Fat chance of finding it or ordering it from my small town (pop. 1,200)library - but you never know.

I think Quinn is a great storyteller, but not a real good writer and even shakier on his anthropology. I think it is somewhere in 'Story of B' where he makes the assertion that the buffalo kills done by plains Indians were a necessary 'overkill' because the hunters needed the extra fat. Basically an apology for overkill and a denial that the Indians would engage in such a wasteful practice. Nonsense, IMO.


"Excuse me," I said, "and again I hope this won't sound inquisitorial. It seems to me I've read about archaeological finds of vast kills of bison that apparently were mostly left to rot by human hunters. They killed them, picked out the parts they wanted, and abandoned the rest."

"Improbable as it seems on the basis of the facts you're just mentioned, these were not gratuitous or wasteful slaughters. Hunters in the Old West - I mean hunters of our own culture - could have explained it. They knew from experience that you could literally starve to death surrounded by bison, if they were lean animals such as you'd find late in the winter. In the absence of other food, the only way to survive in the midst of lean bison is to kill vast numbers of them and take what little fat there is. I'm not going to get into the biochemistry of it here, but if you like I can lend you a book about it."

I told her I'd take her word for it.

I woundn't - especially as Quinn's novels have no references to the sources he used. So I stand by my point - go to the source - all the way back to Marshall Sahlins...

I eventually tired of the rhetoric in Quinns books -there was almost a smug undertone like talking to a kindergartener.

However, in all respects that matter, 5 years ago I WAS a kindergartener, so his easy, repetitive, non-referenced prose about who we have become and for what reasons was what it took for my childhood to end. Its an amazing shock to recognize this is not the foreordained path for humans - its just one energizer-bunny decision tree that has kept going and going and..... (of course, eventually, there WOULD almost have to have been one decision tree that erupted like this: high population, resource depletion, etc. All the other human tribal/societal decisions leading up to that one circa 8000 years ago, would up circling back to the core 'tree' that thousands of generations of hominids before.)

So while I outgrew Daniel Quinn, reading his books was a personal watershed for me. (Note: I had started Ishmael 10 years ago and put it down, thinking it stupid...talking gorilla, etc.)

Not that it justifies overkill, but rabbit starvation was a legitimate concern. And not just with Native Americans.

Sure.....if you dont believe it go on the Adkins diet for a few weeks....you go crazy craving carbs and fat.

Atkins allows fat. Encourages it, even. It's the Stillman diet that allows only lean protein.

However, it's not a method I would recommend. "Rabbit starvation" is nasty.

Rabbit starvation is particularly well known in the Far North according to Bradford Angier. In his book, How To Stay Alive In The Woods, Bradford states, "An exclusive diet of any lean meat, of which rabbit is a practical example, will cause digestive upset and diarrhea. Eating more and more rabbit, as one is impelled to do because of the increasing uneasiness of hunger, will only worsen the condition. The diarrhea and the general discomfort will not be relieved unless fat is added to the diet. Death will follow, otherwise, within a few days. One would probably be better off on just water than on rabbit and water."

Note that this is not likely if you eat today's farm-produced meat. On average, wild game has something like 3% fat, while factory-farmed meat is more like 30%.

Yeah happy 2008 to everyone and especially to Robert Rapier I guess. Didn't he just win a $1000 bet, although it was an extremely close shave?

Robert will be doing a dedicated post about it, though I'm not sure when it's going up.

Re: Kunstler, The Voice of Doom

Everyone wants to have a happy life. We hang pretty thoughts and hopes upon our cerebral tree and we move forward. James Howard Kunstler knocks those orbs of mystery and beauty from the tree each week. Sometimes, with enough additional self-edification, those shiny ornaments are smashed forever and cannot be placed on the tree again.

For those who want to continue forward, to a new cornucopian future and afterlife it is best to defend those hopes and dreams. Don’t let Kunstler knock them off and break them. Numerous pundits and confidence people will certainly help you in your defense, sell you hope and shield you from the bleak reality.

Some of us have already systematically removed every one of those shiny ornaments from our thoughts, over the course of a lifetime of study. We see the world for what it is and most often it is not very nice, but temporarily comfortable thanks to fossil fuels. Those of us that have dropped all of our ornaments still search the floor for something to hang on our dark branches, maybe it’s a bottle of antidepressants or perhaps a dream of escaping to a truly sustainable paradise. This keeps us moving through the zombie hordes with their shiny ornaments jingle jangling a cacophony of hope and technological deliverance as they supplement their delusions with copious dopamine releasing consumption.

It is unlikely that The Oil Drum will penetrate the dense ornamentarium of the common man. The ornaments will not drop from the trees, leaving a dark hole in their souls because of reasonable arguments and higher gas prices. New dreams will be provided, a glowing fission ornament, or a delightful fusion candy cane or a solar star will be provided to keep moral high.

We are all approaching a chasm. The ornamented trees do not believe it exists. The unadorned trees have looked over the edge and understand the dynamics of collapse. Should we be trying to convince the other trees who are very unlikely to listen and are trying to build a technological bridge across a chasm that has no far wall? Should the unadorned trees build a net for ourselves and children and watch as the deluded are smashed on the rocks below? Or should we be building a net large enough for all of us?

At this point I think we should be building a net very quickly. However, I think we will spend our resources building a technological bridge to nowhere because it promises to fulfill our fantasies and deliver us to greener pastures beyond. (Also corporations will encourage this because of the vast profits involved, and will destroy themselves in the process because of greed). How do you convince a majority of people to start building a net that will leave them at a much lower level of energy consumption, but alive, instead of a bridge that will still leave them at the edge of a precipice, only in deeper portions of the chasm.

Perhaps this is the meaning of overshoot and die-off. As we move onto the exponential bridge to nowhere be sure and take your parachute and be careful when you land, there will be a lot of sharp edges down there.

Happy Doomned New Year

"We see the world for what it is.."

Much of your post is well expressed, but that line deserves to be anchored to some humility. Everyone has their filters they look through, and a 'part of the Elephant' to witness.


"If you want to hear the sound of divine laughter, tell God your plans."

Jokuhl, what you say is all very true. However that is not to say that all our filters are equally tinted. There is absolutely no doubt that, though none of us have a perfect grip on reality, some of us have a far better grip than others. It is rather like a sliding scale from those who see the world "almost" as it really is to those of us who live in an “almost” total delusion.

I give you creationism as an example. Some people believe the world was created as is in about 404 BC. Other creationists are what they call “Old World” creationist. Others straddle the fence saying something like “God guided evolution.” Still others see no divine intervention whatsoever.

Faith in technology is not totally unlike faith in God. And it is people who know almost nothing about technology who seem to have the most faith. Then there those who know more about technology who have some faith but not as much as the former. And so on down the line.

My point is that you cannot put everyone in the same basket. While Peak Oilers may not have a total grip on “the world as it is” it is my belief that they have a far better grip than the average Joe. And it is just as true that there is a sliding scale of “average Joes” just as some Peak Oilers have a better grip on what Peak Oil really means than others.

Ron Patterson

"My point is that you cannot put everyone in the same basket..."

Certainly. Or even TWO baskets (Us, Them) That's pretty much what I mean by 'humility'..

Beyond seeing people on a single spectrum from 'Lucid Reality' to 'Complete Delusion', I think it has a few more layers compounded in there. In some part of your life, you may be clear and sharp, but in another terribly adrift.. Good in Math, a disaster in Gym and Home-Ec

jokuhl, I'm mindful of the limitations of my perceptions. That's why I value TOD so much; it's the best reality check I'm aware of.

Health and Happy New Year to our community,
Errol in Miami

God set the charge on the electron and wrote out a few differential terms with the Greek character that resembles a pitchfork. That, and a few other odds and ends, and let it go like a soap bubble on the spring breeze.

I'm not sure whether I believe in quarks, however.

strange, but quarks do exhibit charm:-)


I have also stumbled on this lovely site with nice graphics of a few of the many solutions for the pitchfork-function:


Thanks for that - it'll fit right in with my quaternion sims ;)

Charmingly, they are also rather strange.

Not just blind faith in technology, but also blind faith in capitalism. I sometimes read the comments on the posted articles and inevitably you get the guy that says deregulation and cutting taxes is the way to solve all problems.

How many times have you tried to explain Peak Oil and get the retort "Higher prices will open up once unprofitable sources and alternative sources, leading eventually to lower prices" as if it was inscribed on stone tablets or something.

"However that is not to say that all our filters are equally tinted. There is absolutely no doubt that, though none of us have a perfect grip on reality, some of us have a far better grip than others."

Yes, but, unfurtunately, one doesn't know what one doesn't know (I guess that is by definition :), so nobody can tell how good are his own filters.

You can tell me that my filters are bad, but why should I trust your oppinion? You can be just right, having a better perspective or just wrong, and wouldn't notice the difference.

By the way, I am still undecided about being a doomer or cornocupian.

One of the elegant things about Science, as opposed to Philosophy or Politics or Religion, is that there is a closed feedback loop.

Your hypothesis was either correct or not, and filtering or attempting to prop it up with arguments will fail to affect the result.

Of course, predicting your personal future is largely not a scientific endeavor.

Some of us are trying to build nets for ourselves but face a lot of uncertainty. Is our net going to be sturdy enough to keep us from falling? Are there going to be enough other net builders to help support us? Or will the sheer weight of the masses drag us all down into the abyss?

A view of the future as a whole can be a humbling and frightening exercise. There are ways to make your transistion to the future a bit more manageable.
You can take control of your life. How? Start shaving the odds in your favor. How? Budget your income, consider eating only fresh food, Make and maintain good friends, and realize that in the future the prime limiting factor will be mobility. Mobility; can your job be transferable? Can you relocate to more favorable climes? Can you move when others are trapped in the old paradigm of auto travel? Get a bike and use it. Get a boat and sail it. Get a pair of boots and use them. Get self reliant, Shave the odds in your favor.
You can't depend on others to do your work for you. The simple fact is that people don't want to change unless it means doing something easier. Put your own life into harmony and you will have taken control. It all starts in your own hands. Work hard, flex your muscles and your mind. TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE.


These are the good old days

Acutally, and this has been debated endlessly, I don't think you can convince people. I see two reasons for this: First, their formal education was useless. They neither learned practical skills nor did they learn theoretical skills. Most couldn't plot the curve of y=2x and would be agast at seeing dy/dx or f(x).

Second, they have lived outside of reality. By this I mean that they have never actually produced a physical product so they have no concept of how the stuff they are consuming comes to be. Food offers an excellent example: They have never lived on a farm and probably have never even had a home garden. They probably buy processed food and don't even cook meals from scratch muchless preserve food.

They don't produce their own energy. Even something as simple as firewood is beyond their understanding and, if they have any alternative energy systems, installation was likely contracted out so it didn't involve any thought as to why and how it functions.

So, I believe nothing is going to happen until they are forced to accept and understand that their lives have been a mirage.


PS Like everyone else THANK YOU Leanan! You are a true gem.

You can convince people. I for example, have been convinced. The problem is, you can almost know ahead of time who can be convinced and who cannot. I think many of us peak oilers have an identifiable psychology that allowed us to be convinced. Kunstler is an excellent example. He started out as a hater of suburbia, of ugly consumerism and joyless materialism. When peak oil came along, he was all ready for it. I was not so different from that - a hater of the corporate world and someone who found nothing for me in this world of jobs and grocery stores. I hated it and was ready and willing to be convinced that it's all going to end.

It's that willingness that determines who can be convinced that this way of life is doomed. It may sound like preaching to the choir, but there's a lot of people out there who don't know they're part of the choir who need to be informed. It is worthwhile to do so, IMO.

Good points speek. I agree about the state of pre-awareness - when I first heard the words Peak Oil I was in many respects already aware, but just hadn't put my finger on the importance of the peak. In essence I had already "got it" but being able to read here and other places helped me to put everything into much clearer perspective in terms of implications for the future. Reading Diamond, Kunstler and Heinberg also helped.

@Dopamine - good rant. Nets it is then!

I agree with the need to secure one's net ASAP. For those who have read and re-read the various articles and information as it relates to PO there's not a whole "new", just more to digest and share with others. The challenge becomes working with and around the system that is in place and doing the best one can to prepare for for the future that will come. As has been written by several others on this site, very few of us will be as completely ready for the true downward slide of PO as much as we think we will, myself included. But little things can add up. Switching to a less FF dependent world is the goal. I recently bought a new electronic ignition propane stove to replace the older model we have. The people at the propane dealer thought I was a little "off' for spending several hundred dollars to get rid of those little bitty flames. With conservative estimates those little bitty flames, there's 3 of them, were costing me one gallon of propane a week to to have the stove top and oven "ready" to cook. At $2.50 a gallon my investment will pay for itself in less that 3 years. So I believe it will be the little things that each of us does, wherever we may live, in the rural countryside, NO or in Dallas, that will make small differences in the big picture. As I watch my granddaughter color or play outside in the winter sun I wonder, "Will what we do be enough, for ourselves ,for the world in which we live, and for our families and friends?" John

Will your stove work if you lose power?

Depends on the model. If the igniters are automatic, then no. If it uses piezoelectric igniters like on a gas barbeque grill the answer is likely yes.

And if that fails, a book of matches always works in a pinch.

well, i use match or long nozzle lighter for the gas stove even when the electricity is on. there is always some amount of gas leaking out before the fire started by the electronic igniter. that's a significant source of GHG according to Lovelock. the type that requires you to turn the gas to maximum to start the fire is the worst.

All Electric start stoves can be lit without electricity. They use a hi-tech backup solution known as matches.

Yes, when the electronics aren't "on" the stove is lit with a match. John

Just checking. A friend has the same stove as I do, but their oven is convection. It won't work if they lose power. Seems like it should work anyway (minus fan) but doesn't.

Have you ever considered the whole process of making a match; is it really low tech?

A source for the gallon of propane per week to fuel the pilot lights on the gas stove?

Does it really seem implausible to you? These guys give 100-500+ BTU/hour for pilot lights. These guys give 600-900. They're talking natgas, and they don't quite really know since their ranges don't overlap. So YMMV. But still, LP would be at least in the same ballpark. A gallon per week would be 91000/168 or 541 BTU/hour, or 180 BTU/hour (52 watts) for each of the three pilot lights. Seems perfectly plausible to me.

I would like to start out the new year with a counterpoint to the voices of doom and gloom.

Yes, PO will mean big changes and life will be difficult for many.

But, human beings are very adaptable. We will find ways to adapt and carry on with life. Kunstler's view is at one end of the continuum and helps focus our attention on some serious problems. I see a lot of this doom and gloom on TOD. But we will find a middle road that is not perfect and is not without suffering, but one that will allow most of us to continue with our lives, albeit in a more humble, ecological, and less energy intensive way.

I actually think Kunstler is "middle of the road." His predictions for the future are actually pretty moderate. He doesn't really see society crashing all that fast. And he thinks it could be better afterwards, which many others do not.

When you consider that most of us would be homeless pretty fast without a regular job, gloom and doom comes pretty easily in the face of a total, probably chaotic, restructuring of the way we do just about everything. Kunstler seems to predict decline too readily and too early, but he's not predicting mass starvation and lawlessness, which seem quite possible to me.

Mark Folsom

Agreed. IMO, people who see Kunstler as the ultimate doomer see loss of wealth as the worst thing that can happen to them. Real doomers know it can get much worse than that.

Uggh. That means I must be a real 'doomer'...;)

Actually, I view the future world as a constantly changing probability function, and intend to write a post about it after "Advice from a Scientist to A Money Manager" and "Peak Oil - Leaving Las Vegas", which I'm working on today.

No one KNOWS what the future will bring because there are too many variables. There could be nuclear war - there could be nuclear fusion which fills the gap. To me, the WORST case is 20 more years of business as usual, because then we will have painted ourselves so far into a corner, and spent the rest of the cheap resources in doing so, that we will not only have a nasty planet but it will be populated by nasty people who have continued on the dopamine/competition treadmill. I think the most likely future is a great depression that lasts for a very long time, as energy is 'transferred' from productive economy back into energy sector, and the growth tenet crumbles. There will be some unpleasant and some pleasant surprises. The physical odds are certainly stacked against us at the 2008 starting line however. I wish Leanan, theoildrum, the internet, and the synthesis of science would have been available in the 1970s. It would have made the creation of a new political system by now much more possible, and even viable.

I think the basic ideas were widely discussed during the early 1970's. At least, I recall discussions of "The Limits to Growth" by Meadows. There was also the Scientific American 225, September, 1971, which was devoted to the energy situation.

Here's some of the table of contents:
Chauncey Starr, Energy and Power
F. J. Dyson, Energy in the universe
M. K. Hubbert, The energy resources of the earth
David M. Gates, The Flow of Energy in the Biosphere
William B. Kemp, The Flow of Energy in a Hunting Society
Roy A. Rappaport, The Flow of Energy in an Agricultural Society
Earl Cook, The Flow of Energy in an Industrial Society
C. M. Summers, The conversion of energy
M. Tribus and E. C. McIrvine, Energy and information (thermodynamics and information theory)
Milton Katz, Decision-making in the Production of Power

We know that Hubbert was working on these questions long before that SciAm issue, as well as Howard Odum and Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen. By the time the OPEC Embargo hit the public mind, this work was long forgotten or worse, ignored by TPTB. They decided to "Drain Saudi Arabia First" and the rest is history.

Yes the energy stuff was known- but the human nature/evolutionary psychology/neuroscience angle was in its infancy then - connecting the two is what makes PO so urgent and large.

To assume the 2nd half of oil will just be a calm, dispassionate inverse of the first half assumes is to assume its just a BTU problem. But its a social and political problem, above all.

...the human nature/evolutionary psychology/neuroscience angle was in its infancy then - connecting the two is what makes PO so urgent and large

Forgive me, Nate. I don't mean to sound stupid, but what do we know now that makes a difference to what we knew in the 60's? I grew up on Rachel Carson and Paul Ehrlich. We can perhaps discuss issues more cogently now, but how does that affect the urgency?

Does evolutionary psychology/neuroscience actually tell us something we didn't know about the tragedy of the commons in the 60's? Are you saying this knowledge gives us more options toward creating a reasonable response to the problems? (If so, how?) I'm not trying to start an argument, I just don't understand the connection. If we're going over Niagra Falls in a canoe, how does understanding the process affect the outcome?

I concur...once a concept has been developed, it then becomes a matter of how quickly that knowledge can be spread.

The basics of ecological collapse were worked out decades ago -- perhaps an "ecological historian" could dig up a reference by the ancient Greeks. One doesn't even have to resort to math to see intuitively that "endless growth on a finite planet" == "collapse and die-off."

Best Of The Oil Drum Index

Does evolutionary psychology/neuroscience actually tell us something we didn't know about the tragedy of the commons in the 60's?

Yes. In the 1960s and 1970s (see Speth - Red Sky at Morning), it was believed that knowledge would suffice to motivate people towards the correct future path. We now know we are not rational, or at least that our emotional hardware can very quickly trump our rational decisions. Information is not enough. We are just now getting to this point now in academic discussions. Had it been 3 decades earlier, there may have been different policy choices made.

Are you saying this knowledge gives us more options toward creating a reasonable response to the problems?

Exactly the opposite. I am saying that understanding WHO we are (and that science has progressed dramatically in last 5-10 years) gives us FEWER options to solve the energy issue on a global scale. Had we known what we know now in the 1970s, information networks (like this one) would have seeped into the culture and not been as suppressed by the economic system which bases everything on rational utility maximizing and correlation. To understand that our reward systems, particularly in rich countries, get increasingly hijacked by more and more stimuli, makes it more difficult to envision a calm and peaceful powerdown. Specifically, the human nature angle, in my opinion, is least understood by the people that understand the energy situation the best - many are not worried as they just assume as energy availability declines, we will just acknowledge this fact and tighten our belts while renewables scale. This is not consistent with our past.

For many on this list who lived through the 1970s aware of these issues, perhaps the importance of EP+ is irrelevant because its common sense to them. To me, its vital. Because if I had never been exposed to /delved into the evolutionary aspects of who we are, I would be much less worried about the looming energy crisis. Then it would be much more of a plug and play BTU puzzle. Cut US oil consumption back to 1960 levels - hey everyone was happy in the 1960s - no problem. But our steep discount rates, weakness for following authority figures, addiction to more and more stimulating perceptions, and continued social trap of economics have obfuscated the urgency with which to address the 'ends' side of the discussion. And the 'means' have lost us 30 years.

Had we known in the 1970s that we were facing a demand problem as opposed to a supply problem, we would have had a few decades to change the cultural carrot. Now it may require both carrot and stick.

Thanks for responding, Nate. I know I don’t understand all you are saying, but if you like I can give impressions of some of what I heard (as opposed to what you said! ;-) ). Please be aware that I am old-fashioned and have trouble communicating on the web with someone I don’t know and whose eyes and body language I can’t see, so if my tone is off, it’s my lack of ability and not of a lack of profound respect for what you are doing.

The other day I listened to your interview with Jason Bradford (http://globalpublicmedia.com/reality_report_global_economy_under_stress) and enjoyed it a great deal. Your voice reminded me of my older brother’s, who also spoke with a similar earnest desire to help and inform. I’m at the end of my career, while you are at your beginning (or middle), so I feel compelled to give more of a response than you may want. I believe that if any social good occurs in the coming transition, it will be because of work done in places like TOD by people like you.

That said, when I read:

Had we known in the 1970s that we were facing a demand problem as opposed to a supply problem, we would have had a few decades to change the cultural carrot. Now it may require both carrot and stick.

fear swept through me. When you say "demand problem" do you mean a people problem? I know it was the last thing you meant, but I immediately saw your stick as jackboots and guns. I assume this is not what you meant (?), but I was also reminded why the notion of the philosopher king in Plato’s Republic is generally not considered a good political model: the intellect has a too narrow view of reality. Pascal said it well when he wrote: “The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing….” You write:

We now know we are not rational, or at least that our emotional hardware can very quickly trump our rational decisions.

Behind emotions are feelings—and feelings are very rational, although thinking intellectuals often miss the rationality. “Feeling uses rational processes to recognize the value of an experience or situation…. Thinking relates experience to a conceptual framework in which internal consistency and coherence are primary.” http://www.mtnmath.com/whatrh/node98.html

Perhaps feelings sometimes trump rational thought because (sometimes) rational thought has lost track of real value? And without good, rational thought, isn't it true feeling can become lost?

Without understanding the function of feeling, how can we hope to possibly hope to communicate the precariousness of our future or manage possibilities? Please know that I don’t mean to be rude or argumentative—you’re one of the few people doing decent work. EP seems to work for you because you are an intellectual and the pieces “clicked” when you encountered it—and I’m sure your work will help the pieces click for others. For someone like me, though, EP provides a rather narrow view of the human being. If you think it might be useful to talk further, try e-mailing me at rwilliams23atyahoodotcom as I might miss your response; otherwise, thanks for all your hard work!

"I am saying that understanding WHO we are (and that science has progressed dramatically in last 5-10 years) gives us FEWER options to solve the energy issue on a global scale."

No, at worst, knowing who we are can keep to us the same number of options to SOLVE the issue. Now, of course, knowing anything will reduce the number of options we think we have.

Correct, all of this is "old" knowledge. All of this is ignored knowledge. All of this describes a solution to a problem which conventional society still insist does not exist.

It is my opinion (note that phrase, cornucopians) that humans have demonstrated clearly that they are unable to voluntarily change behaviors in a significant manner when the desired direction is perceived as "negative" to the individual. Thus we roar on down the road at full speed, not even believing that the bridge ahead is out, let alone that we need to do anything about it.

From Rickover's speech to Hubbert's work to Edison's comments on to the Club of Rome and all the other researchers who looked at this half a century ago and we are still roaring full throttle down the road to destruction.

How very true GreyZone. Like CO2 induced global warming, which was first raised as a potential issue in the 1920's and here we are today with decades of research, near unanimous scientific consensus and the effects all to visible, yet our CO2 output is still accelerating. We seem to be completely helpless to do anything about it for all that we know. Voluntary change is simply beyond us collectively.

It's left up to Nature to act for us and slam on the brakes.

Like Heisenberg's uncertainty principle that says you don't know where a particle is till you have measured it and then it is only in one place but what happened to all the other possibiliities, they jsut disappeared like magic?

That is the future. We have infinite future selves existing in parallel realities at all times branching off according to our wishes we sent out to do one or another thing at any point in time. We just see the one decision and its consequences but all our parallel wish selves exist and interact with one another "subconsciously". Infinite bubble universes.

We have infinite future selves existing in parallel realities at all times branching off according to our wishes we sent out to do one or another thing at any point in time.

This is probably quite correct, and it's nice to see it brought up. It's really the only interpretation of QM which doesn't invoke magic or privileged frames of reference.

Taleb's "statistical decision-making" is not only good for dealing with black swans, but is something like a reasonable basis of a philosophical system for a multiversal entity. I've long used what might be called "probabilistic ethics and decision-making" for that reason. The outcome 'we' experience is probably not the only real one. Rather, there are greater and lesser infinities of outcomes. We greatly impoverish ourselves if we only commit ourselves to what 'we' can directly perceive.

(pardon this slight digression into the nature of reality)

To what extent would martial law offset lawlessness in some countries? I can see some governments falling more easily than others, but the US government seems like it would outlast most of the population. They already planned for survival in the case of nuclear attacks (e.g. underground "cities"), so I would think plans are already in place.

I don't think JHK is a doomer just because he points out that the suburban adventure is the biggest waste of resources the world has ever known...it's just plain true...and he continually states that "if" we are to continue our lives under the umbrella of any semblance of a concept of "civilization", we have to develope a different arrangement, a different way of living, contrary to the way we have our systems set up now, because our current system is based on a set of resources that are rapidly going away. Technology based on FF won't rescue this system, and neither will the market. PS...yesterdays drumbeat was the most irritating thing I've ever read in the last year. Goes to show the stubborn ignorance that persists in this society. But that need to cling to failing systems is based on fear, no? In a world of constant change, change is what we fear the most, I think. (sigh, rant concluded)


Hi Leanan, congratulations for suffering through another year as editor, you are a trooper! Now that aside I will start the suffering of a new year by disagreeing with your positioning of Kunstler as middle of the road. I would think for him to think things will be better later would imply the death of billions. Slow or fast that's pretty doomy stuff.

Thanks for the enlightening and entertaining shows, but right now gotta go as lots of irony for this Mrs. to catch up on.

I would think for him to think things will be better later would imply the death of billions.

He seems mostly concerned with the US. There won't be the death of billions here, because we don't have billions.

Slow or fast that's pretty doomy stuff.

Disagree. If it happens slowly - people die of old age but are not replaced - it's not doomy at all. That, IMO, is about the happiest outcome we can hope for.

If it happens slowly - people die of old age but are not replaced - it's not doomy at all. That, IMO, is about the happiest outcome we can hope for.

Leanan, with all due respect, people are always replaced. To say that people will not be replaced means that people will stop having sex and people will stop having babies. Surely you know enough about human nature to know that is not going to happen.

The very best you can hope for is that people hit a Malthusian limit and there are as many deaths as births. Malnutrition will be the norm. And that is the very best you can hope for.

"Sennely is a typical self-sufficient village near the French City of Orleans. It consists of subsistence farmers whose needs are supplied locally: rye grain for bread, cattle, pigs, apples, pears, plums, chestnuts, garden vegetables, fish in the ponds, and bees for honey and wax.

"Population and resources are more-or-less in balance because of the poor health of the residents: they tended to be stunted, bent over, and of a yellowish complexion. By the time children were ten or twelve, they assumed the generally unpleasant appearance of their elders: they moved slowly, had poor teeth, and distended bellies. Girls reached the age of 18 before first ministration.

"Malnutrition was the norm. One third of the babies died in the first year and only one third reached adulthood. Most couples had only one or two children before their marriage was broken by the death of one parent. 'Yet, for all that, Sennely was not badly off when compared to other villages.'"
George Huppert, “After the Black Death” [p. 3]

But it will not be nearly that good Leanan. Yes, perhaps three hundred or so years from now we will have advanced to the point the world was at after the Black Death. But because we are deep into overshoot, the dieoff will be dramatic. Then slowly....slowly....humanity will make its comeback. But because we will have exhausted our fossil fuels we will never reach the level we are at right now. And I believe that is a good thing.

Ron Patterson

Leanan, with all due respect, people are always replaced. To say that people will not be replaced means that people will stop having sex and people will stop having babies. Surely you know enough about human nature to know that is not going to happen.

No, I don't. Look at what's happening in in Japan and many European countries. And we would have zero population here in the US, if not for immigration.

In Collapse, Diamond talks about societies that achieved sustainability, as well as those that collapsed. Zero population is a big part of it, and they did it without modern birth control. Without giving up sex and children altogether.

There's also the possibility of a China-style solution. Though some would consider that worse than Malthusian dieoff.

Me, I'm hoping for an Edo-like society (as described in those articles archived at EB).

Is it likely? Probably not. But it's not impossible, either.

The most desirable outcome is hunter-gatherers who part of the year live near some old ruins that were once a city. There are legends about the Evil Ancestors who lived in these strange built-up places and used to (whispering) eat each other.....

Look at what's happening in in Japan and many European countries. And we would have zero population here in the US, if not for immigration.

But people in Japan are being replaced. Zero population growth means people are being replaced on a one per one basis. There is no possibility that the population will decline, from other than war or malnutrition related diseases, as fast as declining energy supplies will cause food supplies to decline.

In China the population is still increasing. In rural areas the one child policy is largely ignored.

If the oil supply drops to 25% of its current level in 30 years after peak, there is no possibility that any kind of natural decline can decline that fast, indeed if there is such a thing as natural decline caused by other than war or Malthusian causes.

Ron Patterson

But people in Japan are being replaced.

Well, obviously some have to be replaced, or the species will go extinct. But they are below replacement level. Their population is shrinking. So is Russia's.

Zero population growth means people are being replaced on a one per one basis.

Yes, and it has been achieved by many cultures in the past.

There is no possibility that the population will decline, from other than war or malnutrition related diseases, as fast as declining energy supplies will cause food supplies to decline.

I think there's a possibility. I very much fear the opposite will happen: the factors that led to the "population bust" will reverse because of peak oil.

But in the end, I think it depends on our priorities. We would have to make food production and population control our highest priorities. I am not suffering any illusions about how likely that is. But it is possible. Other cultures have done it in the past. It's not some total pipedream, like, say, nuclear fusion or a high-tech culture based on solar energy alone.

But in the end, I think it depends on our priorities. We would have to make food production and population control our highest priorities. I am not suffering any illusions about how likely that is. But it is possible. Other cultures have done it in the past.

Okay, one last post for the night. NO, other cultures have not done it in the past. Not voluntarily anyway. That is, no culture has ever reduced its population at other than a snails pace. It has simply never been done…..ever! The reason it has never been done is obvious, reproduction is a natural phenomenon and only a totalitarian government can dictate reproductive practices.

I understand where you are coming from Leanan. Countries like Italy and Russia have a negative population growth. And if we could persuade the world to behave like Italy and Russia, then after about 500 years we could have the population of the world down to a billion or so. But we don’t have 500 years.

And you say “we need to do this” or “we need to do that”. When it comes to the population of the world there is no “we” that anyone has any control over. Each nation will follow its own policies. We cannot dictate to the world how the world should behave.

What you are wishing for, and I would wish for also, is that the whole world would voluntarily reduce the population at near the same pace that energy and food would decline.

I find it hard to take you serious on that one. You know that is not going to happen. Well, at least I hope you know that will not happen. Otherwise it says something very profound about your knowledge of human nature.

Ron Patterson

Not voluntarily anyway.

I did leave the door open for it being less than voluntary. A China-style one-child policy, say. Though in the US, it would probably be child credits you could buy and sell.

That is, no culture has ever reduced its population at other than a snails pace.

I think a snail's pace would be okay. There's a lot we could do to match food supply with demand in the interim. Switch to labor-intensive methods that use less fossil fuels. (There may be a lot of people who need employment, after all. Kunstler's work farms or indentured servitude for debtors, say.) Eat lower on the food chain (less meat and dairy). Eat less, period. Give farms priority for what oil we have. It would mean sacrificing other things, but most people won't be able to afford them anyway.

The thing is, it would have to be seen as a bridge to a lower population, not as an end in and of itself. Otherwise, it would just be postponing the dieoff.

And you say “we need to do this” or “we need to do that”. When it comes to the population of the world there is no “we” that anyone has any control over. Each nation will follow its own policies. We cannot dictate to the world how the world should behave.

We may not have to. Look at what happened in Romania. They did everything they could to increase the birth rate. They paid women to have babies, they banned birth control and abortion, they taxed people who were not married by age 25, they checked women of childbearing age every month to make sure they didn't get illegal abortions. Romania still had the highest abortion rate in Europe, and their population still shrank. All that couldn't overcome the economic conditions in the country that made it very hard to raise kids. People don't want to have kids when the economy is bad...if they have a choice.

"People don't want to have kids when the economy is bad"

Tell that to the Palestinians, Ethiopians, Mexicans, Filipinos, etc...

The fertility rate is dropping in all those countries.

And note that I said if they had a choice. Birth control is unavailable to many in third world countries.

Disagree. If it happens slowly - people die of old age but are not replaced - it's not doomy at all. That, IMO, is about the happiest outcome we can hope for.

As far as Kunstler's view of the whole world, who knows what darkness lurks? Like you say he is writing for the US market but even with a slow population reduction it will be pretty much a mess, this continent has been turned into a toilet in mainly my lifetime and there is still much damage to be done. Let's face it, there is that 'good old yankee know how' to get that business done with (as well as Canadian 'can do' emulation of the same). Hard to imagine Kunstler hasn't had these thoughts.

Oh yes and still lots of energy to do it with. With lots of it dirtier than that light sweet crude (sp?, is that crude or crud?), pile on a bit of wind and hydro for PR and that surely will end up making dogs howl and strong men whimper.

I don't see anyone else arguing that the Earth will be able to support 6 billion+ population without cheap fossil fuels, so it seems like significant die-off is inevitable no matter what we do. We've simply exceeded the carrying capacity of the planet.

We've hashed this out so many times, I would call this a middle of the road perspective on TOD.

Ya, Kunstler is no Olduvai guy.

Hello Speek,

Gotta agree with you and Leanan--JHK is right down the middle as compared to the writings of Jay Hanson or James Lovelock.

Zimbabwe's sad decline is possibly down the middle too--precisely because roughly 25% have migrated to South Africa and other countries, plus AIDS/HIV and other diseases kills off a lot of adults before they can effectively organize into rampaging detritovore mobs seeking FF-MPP [like Nigeria?]. The result is a forced march to minimal biosolar-MPP that occupies most of their time, and tremendous personal energy:

A 20-litre bucket in hand, Abigail Shonhiwa ponders the stretch ahead in her journey to the next watering hole, a distance of about seven kilometres. Her suburb has been facing recurrent water shortages since 2000, in part because it is built on a plateau in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare.
20 liters = 5.3 gals, 14 kilometer round trip = 8.7 miles

I wonder what she would pay to have a bicycle or wheelbarrow to lighten her load?

Since I doubt North America will spend the trillion$$ required to keep our water & sewage spiderwebs in top-notch condition: at some point, we Murkins can expect similar hikes for suburban water--that is why I keep pushing for strategic reserves of bicycles & wheelbarrows, plus SpiderWebRiding, plus many other ideas including massive Peak Outreach. Decline is inevitable, but we can choose to somewhat optimize the path ahead to minimize machete' moshpits.

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

I don't think mere existence will cut it before too long.
Expecting the world owes one a living will be a memory.

This is what I expect..........

No more welfare.
If you can't adapt to surviving, providing for yourself and contributing by means of physical labour you will wither on the vine.

The competition for jobs will be extreme.
Scamming and thievery will dominate populated areas.
Like people with terminal diseases, those unable to continue their pampered lifestyles will clutch at anything, they'll be easy targets for the crooks and scammers.

It may not actually get right down to survival of the fittest but surviving will require wits, strength and a willingness to get uncomfortable and learn.
Expect some suffering, a missed meal or two and no excess of anything.

Of course the scenarios described will not occur overnight or anything like it.
I wouldn't be a true doomer if I expected to survive in the log run, hopefully I won't be among the first to fall off though.

I despair for any of my family and relations, they all think I'm an idiot. I hope I am.

Mish: "their model for rating CDOs assumed low to single digit home price appreciation forever into the future."

Please consider Fitch Discloses Its Fatally Flawed Rating Model. As amazing as it might seem now, Fitch disclosed as recently as March 2007 that their model for rating CDOs assumed low to single digit home price appreciation forever into the future. They even admitted their model would break down if home prices were flat for an extended period of time. There is a shocking conference call discussed in the above link where Fitch described those fatally flawed assumptions.

I was struck by the similarity between Fitch's home price model and the assumptions made by the EIA and IEA regarding future oil production. The infinite growth model is really the conventional wisdom worldwide.

As I said before, immediately after the Titanic struck the iceberg, there were two types of passengers: Those who then realized that the ship would sink, and those who would realize that the ship would sink.

There are two types of Americans (and people in general): Those who now realize that the infinite growth model is fatally flawed, and those who will realize it.

The Depression is here now.

Housing prices will fall by 30%.

According to Calculated Risk, that's $6 Trillion.

Credit Card SIV's to follow.

But I'm watching the Cotton Bowl anyway.

Go Hogs!

If house prices fall by 30%, they will still be up 50% over a 5 year period in many places. Not a bad return.

Many of those houses were bought above that 50% appreciation mark. This means that the owner is "upside down" on his mortgage. In other words, he owes more than the collateral is worth. It is fully possible for banks, realizing this, to call in those mortgages, forcing the owner to either put up the difference or be foreclosed upon.

If life were as simple as you imply, we wouldn't have a massive crisis in global credit right now, yet we do, for the exact reasons I stated above. Further, making it worse, there are $19-$20 of derivative debt piled upon each real $1 of housing capital. That house of cards won't stand much side wind either.

Your post is a demonstration of lack of understanding. This is Bernanke, Paulson, and all those other "realists" in high finance who are seriously worried about the current economic mess, while you seem to think there is nothing wrong. Now who is the more likely to be right here, you or Bernanke? Given that you've presented zero qualifications for your simplistic (and fatally flawed) view while major economists are sweating blood over this credit crunch, I think you are out of step with mainstream thinking here.

It is fully possible for banks, realizing this, to call in those mortgages, forcing the owner to either put up the difference or be foreclosed upon.

Well there is the pesky little problem of the appraisal. Banks always have a certified appraiser inspect and evaluate a property prior to closing the sale.

So... what's the bank going to do?

Say their appraisal was bogus?

That's admission of fraud.

They won't have to admit it, the FBI is hiring like crazy for "fraud teams" to investigate the fraud which every bank was committing. It may turn out in a few years when this thing hits a real low that getting an RE license will be harder than passing the Bar.

RE is going down 20% a year right now, and we haven't hit the main bulk of the ARM resets yet. This is New Year's Day, the next few days will be the last sliver of party time, then the mass layoffs across the US economy will start on Monday. It's normal in the US to can a bunch of people (after telling them their job would be secure of course!) after Xmas, but this time with the Depression just starting, there will be a LOT more layoffs.

The whole economy is a huge set of positive feedbacks, I got my lesson in that when my electronics surplus sales died because RE was tanking.

The banks can look better admitting fraud than getting caught at it, so yeah, there's no reason for them to fear admitting fraud.

And 1930s style, they may be better off trying to call in mortgages all at once because enough scared homedebtors may cough up $50k or so before going under, rather than do the intelligent thing and just walk away.

And things like this make me think we are likely to have a deflationary future within the Empire, rather than inflationary. Inflation will be outside the US, where it takes more and more dollars to buy foreign goods, and at the same time subjects of the Empire may be buying 20c a lb cornmeal and fatback and simple foods that can be bought ultra-cheap and doing the labor of preparation themselves.

And how much can the sometimes-open supermarket charge for Farmer John's bacon when most people are raising a pig themselves in the yard where the Teeter-Totter used to be?

The Republicans, well, specifically the Bush administration, they are frantically trying to figure out how to time shift this stuff a year into the future. I don't think they're going to have any luck, as what I've read indicates its a massive "government finger" stuck into contract law that will have horrible, unintended consequences in perpetuity (however long that is).


The New Year's Hangover, April Fools Week rather than just a day, and Independence Day a la Janis Joplin, in which ARM based home possessors will be "freed".

Ahh Janice of the horrible raspy voice.... "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.."

Sorry if this has been posted before, but if you want to understand the credit crunch (and in particular the mortgage crisis) in the US in layman's terms then check out the following radio documentary series by the BBC. (part one appeared a few days ago and is downloadable/streamable from the site)



Everyone now knows how the credit crunch began with American banks giving seemingly crazy loans to poor or uneducated home-buyers who had little or no chance of repaying them.
Homes for sale signs

Early hopes that the problem would be restricted to these so-called sub-prime borrowers have been dashed and the credit crunch is now spreading rapidly to engulf homeowners in middle-class suburbs and on to squeeze industries and jobs in America and around the world.

No-one now seems to knows how big the problem is or where it's going to end, but all seem to be agreed it's set to get far worse in 2008.

In this special series for BBC World Service, reporter Michael Robinson delves deep into the innards of the credit crunch to try to get some answers.

This is a blog comment board - what qualifications are needed? You take yourself too seriously.
Yes - the economists are worried that their illusory economy built on cheap everything is in peril. Something is wrong with an economy when it needs bubbles to thrive. Loose lending standards and greed are a separate issue from declining home values. Maybe the crisis is simply a "correction of greed"? Many people are upside down, but many others are doing well. I know many homeowners who bought before the bubble and their payments are low. How many trillions did the tech stock bubble wipe out?

I don't think banks in the US can call mortgages for that reason alone.

Any real experts here?

See my post (above) with a link to a BBC documentary on this subject. It explains the situation quite well, I think.

If house prices fall by 30%, they will still be up 50% over a 5 year period in many places. Not a bad return.

The issue is credit is drying up faster than wet paint. Banks don't want to lend money for Mortgages since most are already awash in foreclosed properties. The lenders of last resort were the GSE's (Freddie and Fanny). Now even the GSE are tightening thier standards. A home is only worth what some one else is willing to pay for. If no-one can get reasonable loans, the real estate market will evaporate.

Unless Congress authorizes a massive bailout (probably north of $2 Trillion), Real Estate prices are going to crash.

The issue is credit is drying up faster than wet paint. Banks don't want to lend money for Mortgages since most are already awash in foreclosed properties.

Banks are still lending - they're just being more tight with their standards. The size of any possible gov't bailout remains to be seen - the FDIC only pays 100k per depositor.

Ha! Credit's drying up faster than a thin coat of lacquer on a hot Arizona day!

The Depression is here now.

Housing prices will fall by 30%.

You are mixing your tenses.

'This Market Is Not A Bubble'...from an exuberent Harvard optimist in 2002...We know your wine Retsina er...Retsinas

Nicolas Retsinas is director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.


...snip...'And as anybody who has sold or bought a house can attest, it is not an easily fungible commodity. The transaction costs of selling and buying are high, in terms of money, time and effort'...snip...

The author failed to consider leaving the key under the doormat as a path to housing fungibility...

...snip...'Pundits pull out the truisms: Escalation cannot continue, what goes up must come down, housing cannot soar out of sync with incomes, the frenzy for bigger, more luxurious McMansions has gotten ludicrous'...snip...

WT, according to the author you, I, and a kazillion others would have been classified as 'pundits' by the author...and, I doubt we would have been heavily invested in tulip bulbs in an earlier time.

...snip...'Demand for home ownership remains high, thanks to a confluence of economic factors:

* Low interest rates make home ownership increasingly affordable, as well as rational. Renters, seeing the advantage of owning, struggle to sign on the dotted line of a mortgage as soon as they can muster a down payment.

* The amount of money needed for a down payment has plummeted thanks to a plethora of mortgage products.

Last year, 15% of all buyers put 5% or less down on their homes, compared with only 4% of all buyers in 1990.

* Government programs for first-time buyers have encouraged low-income Americans to buy.

* Finally, housing has emerged as an alternative to a volatile stock market. People fear that if they invest in Wall Street, their money may evaporate. But they know that they can live in, and enjoy, their equity if they renovate their home or buy a vacation home. Increasingly, as the stock market has wavered, homeowners have used their homes as ATM machines, drawing out the accumulated equity via home equity loans or refinancing'...snip...

And, the author ends this 2002 screed with...

...snip...'But for the two-thirds of American families who own homes, it is still a time of rational exuberance'...snip...

RATIONAL exuberance???

Power switchf: Deputy economics minister shares views on the structure of Russian energy exports

At the end of 2007, Deputy Economic Development and Trade Minister Kirill Androsov expressed satisfaction with the course of the year. In an interview with Rossiiskaya Gazeta, he outlines the main developments.

Q: How is the structure of Russian petrocarbon exports currently changing? Is there any move away from crude?

A: Producers will export crude as long as it is more profitable to do so, and the profitability of the domestic petrochemicals market in Russia remains lower than crude export revenues. In this situation there is little reason to build refineries in Russia.

But this reasoning holds only so long as there are enough petrochemicals on the domestic market. As far as I know, some 230 million metric tons of oil out of the 492 million metric tons produced in Russia are refined in this country. Of the total, 50% is used in the domestic market, with the rest exported.

That situation is gradually changing. The profitability of the export market is becoming less than that of the local Russian market. This is encouraging companies to invest in refining activities.

Just a bit of information:

The DVD documentary "A Crude Awakening" is available from DeepDiscount.com for $14.67 with free shipping. that is almost $9 cheaper than Amazon if you include shipping.

I just ordered it. I am in hopes that I can get my son to watch it. If he does at least he will have a little better idea on why Peak Oil concerns me so. Right now he just thinks I am a little nuts.

Ron Patterson

I've had the written portion of our Net Oil Export paper about 90% done for weeks. I'm trying to get it finished today. Following is the draft of the summary, including my favorite Peak Oil Tranquilizer, Alan Drake (Alan, which link do you want to use for your article?). Alan may be wrong, but at least he gives us something to hope for.

Any comments?


Our simple mathematical model and recent case histories have shown that once oil production in an oil exporting country starts declining, the resulting decline in net oil exports can be quite rapid, tending to show an accelerating net export decline rate.

We have used some additional mathematical models to forecast future production and consumption for key oil exporting countries.

Our middle case forecast is that the top five net oil exporting countries, accounting for about half of current world net oil exports, will approach zero net oil exports around 2031—going from peak net exports to zero in about 26 years, versus seven years and eight years respectively for the UK and Indonesia. In our opinion, the only real difference between the top five and the UK and Indonesia is that the top five net exporters in 2005 had a lower rate of consumption relative to production.

Extrapolating from year to date 2007 data, it appears likely that the top five will show an average net export decline of about one mbpd in both 2006 and 2007, putting them on track to go from about 23 mbpd in net exports in 2005 to close to zero in the 2030 time frame.

Smaller oil exporters like Angola can and will increase their net exports, but smaller exporters, just like smaller oil fields, tend to have sharper production peaks and more rapid net export declines than do the larger net exporters. And offsetting many of the gains by smaller exporters will be sharp declines in net exports from countries like Mexico, the #2 source of imported crude oil into the US, which will probably approach zero net oil exports not too long after 2010.

In simplest terms, we are concerned that the very lifeblood of the world industrial economy—net oil export capacity—is draining away in front of our very eyes, and we believe that it is imperative that major oil importing countries like the Unite States launch an emergency Electrification of Transportation program, electric light rail and streetcars, combined with a crash windpower program.

As consulting engineer Alan Drake has documented (insert link), the US electrified local transportation around the turn of the 19th to 20th Centuries. Following is a postcard, circa 2008, of an electric streetcar in a small West Central Texas town, San Angelo, Texas.

If we did it in 1908, why can’t we do it in 2008?

Insert Streetcar

postcard, circa 2008...

We have seen the future and it is us!

Must be a typo. I was struck by this comment following the McKibben/Hansen link at grist:

Future, in its fullest definition, is no longer an option, at least AFA humanity is concerned. At the current rate and mix of events, future is an ever-shrinking apparition of what "future" could have been!

Here we are - some of us - trying to plan. How do we plan? The best I can think of is maximizing resiliency. Shiva laughs.

cfm in Gray, ME

Corrected in draft. Thanks.

An interesting question, when will we be living like this again:

Streetcars 100 Years Ago

The main problem I see with electrification of transport is that electricity has an EROEI return of about .3. True wind would raise that over time, but wind is unstable and a back up is necessary to regulate electricity production. For all practical purposes we have a crash program for wind energy here in north Iowa. The limit to wind farms is the availability of turbines and the time it takes to construct the towers. The latest one around here was purchasing right of way a year ago. They still do not have one tower completed. This is only a 200 turbine wind farm. Thousands of turbines will be needed to replace current fossil fuel electricity production and the time involved would likely stretch into the decades. I doubt there is that much time left if the Export Land Model is correct and I think it is.

practical, my (important) farming friend,
Electricity does not have an EROI - it is an energy conversion - not an energy production technology. What you are pointing out is that AFTER coal, wind, natural gas, etc. have been harnessed (at disparate, but high EROIs) society then chooses what kind of energy quality they want - electricity is the highest energy quality we have, as it is the most useful. To convert coal to electricity is a CONVERSION, not an EROI.

But your general sentiment above is correct -we need time, and correct allocation of resources. Out of curiousity, do you have wind turbines on your farmland?

The NSA-Crypto AG Sting

For years US eavesdroppers could read encrypted messages without the least difficulty

Ludwig De Braeckeleer

Cryptome linked to The NSA-Crypto AG Sting on December 29, 2007

NSA, Crypto AG, and the Iraq-Iran Conflict

How the Iraq/Iran War Got Started

2008 looks to be an interesting year.

Smirking Chimp

If you can't pick up links from the Chimp, the scroll up from this link.

Dr Ludwig De Braeckeleer in Bogota, Columbia?

What is going on?

Cheers from the cats.

westexas on January 17, 2007 - 12:39pm

I have previously expressed the opinion that if what is going on in the Middle East does not scare the crap out of you, you are not paying close enough attention.

And cheers from wind power Texas

Hi Jeffrey,

Thanks to you and your collaborators for all your hard work on this.

A couple of comments, in case these are helpful:

1) Who is the intended audience? (Also, I have some "stylistic" comments, I could email you about those, if you like.)

2) re: "top five net oil exporting countries". Do you want to name them?

3) "Our middle case forecast is that the top five net oil exporting countries, accounting for about half of current world net oil exports, will approach zero net oil exports around 2031—going from peak net exports to zero in about 26 years, versus seven years and eight years respectively for the UK and Indonesia."

Here I jump in anyway w. a suggestion, which you might re-work, as well, if you want.

"Our middle case forecast is as follows: The top five net oil exporting countries, ABCDand E, account for about half of current world net oil exports, i.e., X (some measure, such as Mb/d or whatever). (ie., X of the current total of Y world net exports). These countries will approach zero net oil exports in approximately 2031. This means a change from current values to zero in approximately 26 years. This time frame is in contrast to the seven and eight year declines we see for the UK and Indonesia, respectively."

4) re: "In our opinion, the only real difference"

What is the significance of this difference?

5) re: "declines in net exports from countries like Mexico,"

Do you mean "countries *like* Mexico? Or, do you mean Mexico? If others, then who are those others? Do they fall into a category of some sort? (You mean Mexico as an example of large exporters? Or, do you mean to make a point about the import/significance of particular exporters for particular importers?)

What is the larger point(s) here? I can (attempt to) infer it, but it might be good to state it.

Also, this point - "What will affect the US and how soon?" - perhaps you want to give an overview first, but I'm perhaps an elaboration of this specific point about the US would interest the general reader.

6) Just a suggestion, my take on:

re: "In simplest terms, we are concerned that the very lifeblood of the world industrial economy—net oil export capacity—is draining away in front of our very eyes, and we believe that it is imperative that major oil importing countries like the Unite States launch an emergency Electrification of Transportation program, electric light rail and streetcars, combined with a crash windpower program."

I'd put a period after "draining away in front of our very eyes." Which is a doezey of a conclusion. (It deserves a respectful pause.)

The only suggestion I'd make about content here is - This is such a dramatic (and certainly well-founded) conclusion. It's also sweeping.

To follow it with a suggestion for "electrified rail" seems to focus - kind of like all this build-up for a very specific "solution". It almost comes across as though the whole thing is *only* a "pitch" for ER. As opposed, to, say, being a general warning and a call to action on several fronts. (With a spotlight on one of our very most favorite.:))

Perhaps a sentence or so about what urgent measures are needed more on the general level - ?

Do you want to include immediate/urgent conservation measures?

Do you mean to focus only on wind, and exclude solar, TOD design and retrofits?

What about international agreements? (Oil Depletion Protocol?)


(Doesn't Matt Simmons have a "list of four" or something like that?)

thanks for the comments. I sent you the draft of the full article.

WT, I think I have mentioned this to you before, but the flaw in your model is the assumption that the national governments of the last few exporting nations will adopt the same laissez-faire policy as have former exporting nations when there were still lots of other exporters around to provide them with their imports. This is very much a questionable assumption. If an exporting nation knows that there are not (or soon will not be) ANY exporting nation left to supply them with imports, then that nation's government surely will be quite motivated to implement whatever policy interventions that it can to prevent them from slipping into a deficit position. Furthermore, the fewer exporters remain, the more profitable and beneficial it becomes to be an exporter. Exporter national governments are going to see it as being very much worthwhile to try to preserve their position as an exporter for as long as they possible can, and will not hesitate to implement whatever domestic policy interventions they can get away with to make this possible. This type of behavior is all very different from what we have seen up to now, but it is very much predictable.

I still believe that the gist of your theory is correct: global exports will decline at a faster rate than overall global production. This is quite sound. But because of the policy interventions that I have described above and view as inevitable, I believe that it will be a non-linear decline and that the rate will slow as global exports approach zero and the number of remaining exporters approach one.

there will be wars LONG before the number or remaining exporters in down to 'one'. Though the rest of what you said I agree with.


Your first paragraph above contains some important points that I hope Jeffrey, et al, will include:

1) Behavior of exporters based on observations of past cases.

2) Assumptions we might make about these behaviors, i.e., why they occurred.

3) An exploration of possible future scenarios that count these same assumptions as holding.

4) A discussion about ways in which new conditions in the future might lead to changes in these assumptions. (This seems to be your main point. - ?)

re: "If an exporting nation knows that there are not (or soon will not be) ANY exporting nation left to supply them with imports, then that nation's government surely will be quite motivated to implement whatever policy interventions that it can to prevent them from slipping into a deficit position. Furthermore, the fewer exporters remain, the more profitable and beneficial it becomes to be an exporter."

Do you see these two factors as kind of canceling each other out?

1) "motivated...to prevent them from slipping into a deficit position"

2) "more profitable to be an exporter"

Or how do you see it?

It seems like there's pressure in two different directions: Keep the oil for later, sell it now (best case "to help us prepare for the day when it's no longer there" - we can only hope).

This thread is about dead, but I'll reply for the record. The two are not necessarilly in conflict in the short term. Holding down domestic demand enables the exporter to hoard what they have left for as long as possible. It also enables them to exact a higher price, for there is less supply for demand to chase. In other words, they sell less volume, but make it up on the price per unit.

This game can only be played for a little while, however. Eventually, they must decide whether they are going to just keep the stuff locked in the ground for the future (and leave their domestic populations unsupplied), or supply the domestic market out of whatever is left, or supply the export market. I think this is what you were getting at: that last bit of oil can't be used both by domestic and foreign customers. Inevitably, the oil must run out.

Thanks for responding. It helps to be able to continue a discussion.

I also think it's important to lay out the options, as you are suggesting here, when talking about ELM.

Ron, if he already thinks you are a bit nuts you might as well duct tape him to a chair and force him to watch it...and, dont forget to duct tape his mouth shut so he will not be shouting obscenities at you while the DVD is showing.

I have tried this technique on some of my kids with limited success. I usually save it till they are about 30 years old and still living at home. If it doesnt work the first time, repeat the process untill it does. Eventually they will move in with some of their surfer friends that hang out on the beach all day, hustling the tourists for chump change :)

Happy New Year To All!

Ron, River,

All the best for your kids, here's to awareness. Don't give up, eventually they won't have much choice. I'm at a complete loss why people generally refuse to catch on, it's so freaking obvious.

To regain faith in some of the younger folk, I forced my parents to watch Crude Awakening and End of Suburbia and Global Dimming- they understand, but not doing much about it. This is even after leaving oilfield, blathering like an conspiracy nut. Still remember handing keys to apartment in Dec '06, warning people to watch out for mid-2008 housing crash, got the sideways glance. Couple of months before started mouthing off to supervisor and mentioned the Peak Oil just to piss him off. 90% are clueless.

Adderall is a hell of a drug.

After reading Trevenian's Shibumi several years back, I am not surprised at any of this.

Thanks for the timely note. I just ordered the DVD as well, as it might tip some friends toward action. It would be interesting to learn just how many others joined the queue after your posting spreads along the webway.

E. Swanson

I actually had some luck getting through to my non-PO-aware friends with that film.

I felt guilty showing it to my 23-year-old employee though, what's he got to look forward to? But it's still better to face reality ASAP I decided.

This might have been just a random murder in an area known for its high crime rate:

US official killed in Sudan shooting

But some think it's linked to this:

Bush signs into law Sudan divestment measure

President George W. Bush on Monday signed into a law a measure aimed at allowing states, local governments, mutual funds and pension funds to divest from Sudan businesses, particularly its oil sectors.

CNN is reporting that this has infuriated the Sudanese people.

What I don't understand is why there needs to be a law allowing entities to divest. I thought it was the opposite - a law is needed to allow US entities to invest in countries that support terrorism, as has been purported by the current administration.

It would be terrorism to try to influence the actions of a government that way. Besides, trade agreements typically say a commodity is a commodity, eg tuna is tuna no matter how many dolphins are in it, oil is oil no matter how many Nigerians are burned to develop it, that sort of thing. The piranha class doesn't want people to know/care/influence how items are produced.

The US Constitutions is a suicide pact.

cfm in Gray, ME

Piccolo I agree - what business is it of the US Gov't where US businesses invest or choose not to invest?

Turns out I, as an individual, can choose not to buy Israeli products (or anyone else's products) but a business or corporation can get into extremely expensive legal doodoo for doing the same, and it can result in jail time.

Every time this is brought up it creates a lot of dissent and the facts are looked up, and yadda yadda and OK it's still true.....

It's all linking to fighting terrorism and all that. Next time I'm in a city I"m going to ask the city worker scraping gum off of the sidewalk if their job is fighting terrorism, it probably is these days!

I predict that sometime in 2008, oil will close at over $150 per barrel. The same factors that caused the run up in 2007 are still with us.

I would agree, except for the increasing probability of a recession that would (temporarily?) reduce demand.

Back in 2004, I published an article stating that crude oil will reach $100.00 / barrel before the end of 2007.
When I wrote it , I sent it to everyone that I knew, in hopes that they would come to realize that peak oil is happening.

I have not had any better luck than anyone else here, in getting anyone to prepare for peak oil.

The article is at -

For date verification of original article, I posted it at a couple group sites.
You can check the archives at either of these links. You may need to sign into one of these for access.




Happy New Year and THANKS to Leanan, and the many others at TOD that make this such a fabulous site.

We spent New Years with friends last night - our friend has a son who just graduated from college, and we just found out that he and his girlfriend just bought a house.

The thing that was interesting is that they restricted their search to bank-owned (i.e. foreclosed) properties, and they had plenty to choose from. I asked him when the house was built, and he said 2005, but they looked at one that was built in 2006. That stunned me all by itself - from settlement to foreclosure in such a short period of time. You couldn't even blame an ARM reset - I figure that the person who bought the house never paid the mortgage at all and used it as a free place to live until the bank threw them out. Either that or someone bought it as an investment and then realized that they got suckered.

On a surface it seems they got a deal on it. The price was far below what the original price had been. That being said, when they first told me what town it was I had to ask where it was as I had never heard of the town. Way out near Harper's Ferry. Beyond even the exurbs.

I wonder though what the general condition of the neighborhood is out there. How many other foreclosures are there, and how many are owner-occupied? Have any properties been stripped of plumbing or appliances? That sort of thing. But these kids are going to settlement next week, so there wasn't much point in my raising these questions now....

Interesting....I personally have family, friends , and neighbors with properties for sale in Puget Sound exurbs. Beautiful, multi-acreage properties with rentals on them, very reasonably priced, in a market which supposedly is holding up well.
Bull. No one has got an offer in over 6 months.
My neighbor was just diagnosed with liver cancer and now HAS to sell, quick.
My brother and sister-in-law HAVE to get an estate settled, they can't wait much longer.
My point? Prices have been 'soft' while people wait for signs of a 'turnaround', but many people can wait no longer and prices will soon DROP.
Americans currently have a huge proportion of their net worth tied up in their houses, and sickness, death, divorce, independent of overextension, will soon force motivated sellers to become desperate sellers.
Now, if you were a careful, selective buyer this spring, and gas prices were still over $3 a gallon, why in the world would you make a full price offer on ANY property in the suburbs?
The blood is in the water.

Now, if you were a careful, selective buyer this spring, and gas prices were still over $3 a gallon, why in the world would you make a full price offer on ANY property in the suburbs?

Why would you make an offer at all, when it's looking more and more like prices are only going down, gas prices or no gas prices?

Everyone's going to be afraid they'll end up like this person.

Though prices started to ease by the time she bought, her timing was still poor. Since Marquez bought the property in Signal Hill, Calif., just north of Long Beach, home values in her area have fallen more than 3 percent, and they're expected to drop an additional 9 percent in 2008.

She's now stuck with a 40-year mortgage, and payments that will jump in four years. She can't sell, because she won't get enough to repay what she borrowed.

There are some buyers out there, just not as many, and they are playing hardball. I suppose I would too if I were buying.

My *impression* is that things aren't as bad in the inner suburbs and cities, and worse in exurbs, but that impression is based upon conditions here in the D.C. area. Other areas may have substantially different conditions.

Some buyers are restricting the search to foreclosure properties, which is of no use if you are a seller. There is of course no guarantee that you get a good deal if you buy a foreclosure property, but I guess the assumption is that we would be getting closer to a bottom, and that in a year there won't be as many foreclosures out there.

When I was talking with the kids last night, I noted that not many people wanted to live that far out, but they both chimed in that they did. Whatever. I looked on the map, and it looks like it is a 30 mile drive to get from this place to the exurbs. One of the two works in the exurbs, I don't remember where she has to go to get to work.

Meanwhile here in Texas, the City of Houston or the Chamber of Commerce or some other booster gang is running ads during the college bowl games trumpeting that Houston real estate actually gained in 2007. They're so scared that they're actually buying coveted TV ad time to tell us to not be scared.

They don't say how long houses languish on the market before selling.

I've seen houses sit idle an awful long time around the Heights. No one is cutting prices. At least some of us remember the housing crash twenty years ago, but no one seems to have learned anything.

Why would you make an offer at all.....?


US new home sales plunge to shock low

Sales of new homes in the US fell an unexpectedly sharp 9 per cent in November, while small gains reported for the previous two months were largely erased by downward revisions.

Plummeting sales are causing a lengthening backlog of unsold homes even as housing starts shrink. At the current sales rate, it would take 9.3 months to sell off the backlog of houses - a level exceeded only twice since 1981. That suggests that prices will continue to fall well into next year.

Sales of new homes last month fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 647,000, down from a revised October rate of 711,000. New home sales last month were down 34.4 per cent from November 2006. That is the largest year-to-year decline since the 35.3 per cent decline in January 1991.

Home builders have slashed construction to try to reduce inventories. Construction has fallen 55 per cent from its peak in January 2006, and home builder sentiment has sunk to new lows in recent months.

NOTE: Construction is way down, but the backlog of unsold homes continues to grow. Those are signs to pay attention to, since they tell something about the chances of a turnaround. Still, new homes are only 15% of the total market, so someone will spin this as not so bad.

What struck even me more this week was that south-east UK commercial real estate is plummeting. That's two fields in one strike that have gone underreported just about everywhere. First, the UK, set for a worse housing downturn than the US. Second, commercial real estate, which so far has been exclusive territory for cheerleaders. It's possible that in the UK office buildings will be the first to go, only to precipitate the inevitable residential real estate bomb.

UK office property investors hit

Investors who bought office buildings in the south-east of the UK at the top of the property bubble this year are nursing paper losses of up to 26 per cent in a striking example of how quickly the market has turned.

Research from Knight Frank, the agents, shows that yields (rent as a proportion of a building’s price) on City of London offices have jumped from 4.25 per cent to 5.25 per cent while yields in the West End have risen from 4 to 4.75 per cent. This suggests a fall in prices of 23 per cent and 19 per cent respectively.

Although the data is an estimate, it is a clear sign of the direction the commercial property market has taken.
Many buyers have piled into the sector in the past three years. They have included overseas investors, listed property companies and rich families, but also “small” private investors via pension funds and retail funds.

Portfolio valuations are likely to take a hammering soon unless gridlock in the market eases. Prices were falling before the credit turmoil but now that buyers are struggling to obtain debt the downturn has accelerated.

Owners of offices in business parks alongside the M4 and M25, where the vacancy rate is about 8 per cent, have seen prices drop further.

Yields on south-east offices (excluding London) have jumped from 4.75 per cent towards the middle of the year to 5.75-6 per cent. This is equivalent to a drop in prices of between 21 and 26 per cent.

Do you have home equity loans in Britain? Because that's the part that really distorted things in the overall US economy.

Always look on the bright side of life?

Sales of existing homes edged higher in November, according to a report released Monday, but experts disagreed whether the better-than-expected performance represents only a temporary pause in the troubled sector's continuing decline or tantalizing early evidence that housing demand may be bottoming out at last.

Sunny sign in home resales

More likely a case of 'lies, damned lies, and statistics', but interesting in so much as there are obviously people still willing to attempt to be optimistic...

When I'm feeling too cheery I go and visit the twins ...



There is a dichotomy coming in north american real estate. There are billions upon billions of dollars held by the top few % of canadians and americans that were successful in the 'economic game'. Before the music stops, these people will 'get it' that virtual wealth is worthless unless its transmuted into real wealth. Arable land with good soil, climate, neighbors, etc. will get snapped up and not succumb to the general real estate crash and at some point will go in the opposite direction - straight up. Once the tune changes a bit, that is...I'm trying to explain this to friends in Boston, NY, Chicago, etc and they think I'm looney. (in this respect)

Land - they are not making any more of it....

Land far away from transportation links in a peak oil environment? For most in the developed world, rural living is substantially more petroleum intensive than city living.

Only the really best farmland which produces will be worthwhile, but then you have to buy the productive company, not just the land.

Before the music stops, these people will 'get it' that virtual wealth is worthless unless its transmuted into real wealth.

Like an oil well perhaps?

i meant land close to waterways, railways, etc. and an oil well is also an example of real wealth.

The best land would be from a distressed developer, that he has just started to clear (doing your work for you) but has not yet put in any improvements, on the outskirts of an urban area, close to a transport node. Such property would be ideal for putting in a truck farm, orchard, or similar ag project.

There will probably be a few properties like this become available for astute buyers.

The relentless upward valuation of the Yuan will support top end real estate prices anywhere in North America that wealthy Chinese want to buy. Toronto, Vancouver, Hawaii, Manhattan,SF maybe LA.

They will have to send the triads to Blackwater school.

Don't quite understand your comment- as far as I know, Blackwater will kill for anyone that has the cash.

These big cities are not going to be good places for wealthy people without massive security. I wager that rich Chinese would want their own security, but the environment would be quite different from what they are used to.

The core business of Blackwater always was the training of elite security forces, if they are no security risk and have the money.

"Have Gun, Will Travel"

A business that has been around for quite a while. . .

What on earth is going on in Kenya? Nairobi is a war zone. People are sheltering in churches, and mobs are burning the churches down.

After seeing Darwins Nightmare depicting Tanzania to the
South, the Kenyan violence does not surprise me. War is a chance at a better life as I understand it. Many actually hope for war to improve their position.

The overall cause? Beginning stages of collapse. The proximate cause is anyone's guess. Voting was apparently rigged to get Mwai Kibaki into office, as to why ballot rigging was enough to incite country-wide rage and riots ...

"Gangs of young men have built roadblocks between neighborhoods of the Kikuyus, Mr. Kibaki’s tribe, and the Luos, the tribe of Raila Odinga, the top opposition leader, who narrowly lost the election."

"The election has uncorked dangerous resentment toward the Kikuyus, the privileged ethnic group of Kenya, who have dominated business and politics since independence in 1963."

I would guess it has to do with more than that, however. Probably general economic decline among the populace while a privileged few reap increasing benefits.

Without cheap energy to plow through various social and biological resistance forces, inertia will likely accelerate collapse.

"They're rioting in Africa (they are always rioting there)
There is strife in Iran(there too)

What nature doesn't do to us,
will be done by our fellow man"

As I heard it sung back in the 50/60s time frame sitting on the ground in Oahu listening to one of their concerts , down a bit past Wakiki, maybe Kapoliania(sp?) Park. Where there was an amphitheater and stage.

We all tried to imitate the Kingston Trio then, some more sucessfully than others as they slid into their folksong repertoire and a group of navy flyboys in my squadron were decent with it and collected huge numbers of coed groupies to go to a late beach party after their sets were done at a local watering hole twixt Honolulu and Wakiki.

Near the same cocktail lounge a few months later where I had wandered in to down a few and watched as Ozzie, Harriet and Ricky Nelson (with a knockout chick in tow) got up and staggered drunk out the front door(Ricky that was,well Harriet was sorta greased but Ozzie was cool). I think I was the only person in the lounge that recognized them.

So we survived 2007 fairly intact here in this country.
Just more time for those who wanted to become more prepared.

Here in Western Ky its very chilly right now. We have a few days of cold weather then back to the 50's. A very good day to gather and chop some more firewood.

Today I hitched the trailer and went to pick up my 4th wood burning stove. I still have to run down a woodfired cook range I have been told a fella in town wishes to be rid of.

I will then be prepared with my future heating needs. The one today I will wire brush off, paint with BBQ black, install next week and stop using the LP gas heater.

I truly love to heat with wood. I miss my Buck Stove badly and hope to find another one in 2008. So I go outside and chop a wheelbarrow of fire wood then come in and finish the cup of hot chocolate left heating on the stove top. Pull up the bentwood rocking chair(cost me $5 and I got two) and pull off my brogans , study the Deep Blue vs Kasparov game of 97.

Chess, wood heat, good bourbon, some black cavendish for the pipe and a good book. Thats how I like to winter over.

From here on out I think it gets tougher.

Well Kentuckians are sorta built tough, at least used to be and I know some fairly tough birds right now where down at the local tobacco shop where we trade knives, play chess ,eat popcorn ,trade gossip and smock cigars,pipes or dip snuff. Been fooling with making injun tomahawks of late. We sharpen out knifes so's to shave arm hair. And tell big fishing stories or deer hunting tales.Make knife handles out of their antlers.

Always something to do, at least til the Four Horsemen get saddled up and ride out.

airdale-from the Bluegrass

What on earth is going on in Kenya?

President Kibaki was "re-elected" in a scam vote yesterday, and shut down the media. Now the opposition has had enough. Two years ago he lost a referendum on the constitution, which was drafted to give him much more power. He grabbed it anyway, partly by dismissing the entire government.

The violence has now become a tribal issue, and directed itself against members of Kibaki's tribe, the Kikuyu. The main opposing tribe are the Luos, whose leader, Odinga, claims he won the elections. Kibaki appears to sponsor sort of a gang, the Mungiki, based on ancient Kikuyu lore, but now armed with shiny new machetes.

As you can imagine, there's never any lack of old wounds between tribes that can be conveniently re-opened. Kenya became independent from Britain in 1963, and "founding father" Kenyatta was a Kikuyu, something that never sat well with the Luos.

The machetes point to Rwanda-like scenes of tribal warfare, though there also seem to be plenty guns available. The violence has spread over the entire country, and at least 150 people are reported dead so far, though that number is probably much higher.

People are being slaughtered like chickens and the police are doing nothing.

White House, Oct. 2003

What is going on in Kenya?


Kenya, like most of the nations on earth (yes, including the USA), is an artifical nation whose borders make no real sense. They are held together until they're not. Right now, Kenya has slipped into the "not" category.

Not sure whether this has already been posted:

The Year in Review: The planet

This summer's Arctic melting astonished scientists around the world, and sent a chill down the backs of those who saw the implications. As the head of the Canadian Ice Service said, it wasn't predicted in any supercomputer-generated climate change scenario. The scale was entirely unexpected. It was not just the clearest signal yet that global warming is taking hold; it was an ominous indication that the warming process is proceeding far, far faster than anyone considered possible even five years ago, and that its catastrophic consequences may be upon us much sooner than we have hitherto imagined.

That's only the half of it; we're only publically looking at the area of ice, not the volume. How much thinner is what's left?

Arctic ice left from 40 years ago: 20%
Go over to : http://www.realclimate.org/ for some deep insight
Next step: Greenland
My prediction: soon we will see substantial sea level raise. 2 feet or less will be enough to trigger widespread panic sales of seafront properties. Colapse of financial system will follow.

"Colapse of financial system will follow"

I don't think the financial system needs any help. It's doing just fine without and will probably collapse all by itself.

Meanwhile, in the real world:

Locked Outside the Gates: Tasers, Pepper Spray, and Arrests in the Struggle for Affordable Housing in New Orleans

by Bill Quigley

In a remarkable symbol of the injustices of post-Katrina reconstruction, hundreds of people were locked out of a public New Orleans City Council meeting addressing demolition of 4,500 public housing apartments. Some were tasered, many pepper sprayed, and a dozen arrested. Outside the chambers, iron gates were chained and padlocked even before the scheduled start.

The scene looked like (video link) one of those countries on TV that is undergoing a people's revolution -- and the similarities were only beginning.

Dozens of uniformed police secured the gates and other entrances. Only developers and those with special permission from council members were allowed in -- the rest were kept locked outside the gates. Despite dozens of open seats in the council chambers, pleas to be allowed in were ignored.

Chants of "Housing is a human right!" and "Let us in!" thundered through the concrete breezeway.

Public housing residents came and spoke out despite an intense campaign of intimidation. Residents were warned by phone that if they publicly opposed the demolitions, they would lose all housing assistance. Residents opposed to the demolition had simple demands.

If the authorities insisted on spending hundreds of millions to tear down hundreds of structurally sound buildings containing 4,500 public housing subsidized apartments, there should be a guarantee that every resident could return to a similarly subsidized apartment.

Alternatively, the government should use the hundreds of millions to repair the apartments so people could come home. Neither alternative was acceptable to HUD. A plan of residents to partner with the AFL-CIO Housing Trust to save their homes was also ignored.

Bill Quigley is a human rights lawyer and law professor at Loyola University New Orleans.

Ideology and symbolism above facts.

Protest theatre.

Hundreds of public housing units are empty,open and available without waiting. Anyone that qualifies can move in.

The City Council vote was 7-0 in favor of demolition. Many former public housing residents (NOT all) want them torn down and replaced with something better.

At an earlier protest, one city council member offered to speak to anyone protesting there, one on one, if they could produce a New Orleans ID. One taker.


So what's the inside story?

Who's rabble rousing, and is it for money or power?

First off I doubt that people are coming from outside just for the fun of protesting.

Second the voice of the people should be hear. Period.

Politicos have enough thick skin and warped skulls to handle it anyway.

I say "Let the people speak and be heard even if it takes all week."

This country is rapidly going from worse to unbelievable.

What? A New Orleans ID? How can displaced folks show something? Perhaps they are coming back from where they were sent off to? Whatever.

Why do you trust politicians and what they say?

One New Orleans City Council member, Arnie Fielkow, could be earning $1.5+ million/year as an NFL GM in Miami or Seattle or elsewhere, but he chose to stay in New Orleans, deal with the day to day sh!t of a broken city and run for City Council @ $40,000/year. Stacy Head is another City Council member who entered politics post-K and I am personally convinced is there to do the right thing (I have seen her several times, sometimes bewildered by overwhelming problems, but doing her best).

My ophthalmologist is a very decent guy who ran for the State Senate post-K (his first ever election) and won. One of his campaign statements was "People are dying for lack of proper medical care and no one is talking about it".

Decent people do exist and some do run, and win, elected office.

Best Hopes for Electing Decent People,


John Tierney’s article In 2008, a 100 Percent Chance of Alarm has a more dispassionate view of climate change than may be apparent from the opening paragraph. For what he is doing is noting the sensational articles that are used to promote the idea that global warming is caused by greenhouse gases, while the mitigating evidence that this might not be the case is largely ignored – for example

A year ago, British meteorologists made headlines predicting that the buildup of greenhouse gases would help make 2007 the hottest year on record. At year’s end, even though the British scientists reported the global temperature average was not a new record — it was actually lower than any year since 2001 — the BBC confidently proclaimed, “2007 Data Confirms Warming Trend.”


Two studies by NASA and university scientists last year concluded that much of the recent melting of Arctic sea ice was related to a cyclical change in ocean currents and winds, but those studies got relatively little attention — and were certainly no match for the images of struggling polar bears so popular with availability entrepreneurs.
Roger A. Pielke Jr., a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado, recently noted the very different reception received last year by two conflicting papers on the link between hurricanes and global warming. He counted 79 news articles about a paper in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, and only 3 news articles about one in a far more prestigious journal, Nature.
Guess which paper jibed with the theory — and image of Katrina — presented by Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth”?
It was, of course, the paper in the more obscure journal, which suggested that global warming is creating more hurricanes. The paper in Nature concluded that global warming has a minimal effect on hurricanes. It was published in December — by coincidence, the same week that Mr. Gore received his Nobel Peace Prize.

Not in the least surprising to anyone who's read much of Tierney. He's the one who's betting against Matt Simmons.


I realize this isn't a sure thing, because the price of oil has risen before - it quintupled in the 1970's. But then it dropped, thanks to new discoveries and technologies, validating the Cornucopians' optimism.

What is interesting is that Texas and the overall Lower 48, which peaked in the early Seventies, continued to decline, at -4%/year and -2%/year annual decline rates respectively. So, what happens as Saudi Arabia and the world arrive at the same stage of depletion at which Texas and the Lower 48 started declining?

The most important trick is to keep the Western publics confused about the already-spreading 3rd World misery caused by AGW & PO while they still have the compassion to try to save anyone but themselves. After that brief interval, fear will make them obey Big Business and start kicking each other out of the corporate-owned lifeboat.

Whether Mr. Tierney believes what he says is irrelevant.

If I had known it was Tierney, I wouldn't have clicked on the link.

Tierney makes some legit points in that article, and I say that as someone who is deeply concerned about AGW and as a hurricane scientist. The effects of global warming on hurricane frequency and intensity is still a very active area of scientific debate, with credible parties on both sides and consensus still being hammered out (unlike MANY other areas of the AGW debate, where the remaining skeptics can legitimately be characterized as representing a fringe and increasingly discredited minority).

The tendency for people to latch on to the latest dramatic weather event as startling evidence of global warming is understandable, but rarely defensible on scientific grounds. There's so much short term variability in the climate system that it's virtually impossible to attribute any particular weather event to AGW with any level of certainty. So, as a scientist, these sorts of dramatic claims bug me a bit. As a concerned citizen of planet earth, they bother me a good deal less, since I think the dangers of complacency and inaction still far outweigh the negative impacts of undue alarmism. I had to hold my nose through the Katrina portion of Inconvenient Truth, even while I applauded the overall mission and much of the science in the film.

The biggest danger of people making bold claims about particular events is if certain short term trends reverse or new scientific revelations discredit these claims, it gives the skeptics something to attack, which sets back the overall progress of increasing public awareness. I'm sure the TOD folks are well acquainted with this balancing act with regard to the PO debate.

One caveat I'd like to add: short term ocean current or wind effects aside, the arctic ice melt of 2007 was a compelling and unprecedented event. While many climate scientists expect less melting in 2008, the smoothed trend line is still notably steeper than any of the global models have been projecting, and I think we will see an ice-free summer arctic far sooner than any estimates had suggested as recently as a few months ago.

I am not sure that you can say that it is unprecedented, since we don't know how rapidly the ice melt was in the MWP, or the RWP. It also suggests that the current models are not accurate, and that, perhaps, they are not including the right factors.

... we don't know how rapidly the ice melt was in the MWP, or the RWP.

We have an idea.

MWP has very little going for it that a bit of careful reading can't eliminate. RWP doesn't look a whole lot better. Disappointing to see them brought forward time and again, posing as pieces of scientific endeavour.

Ancient stumps underline velocity of climate change

A U.S. scientist studying the “dramatic change” in ice conditions in B.C.’s Coast Mountains has discovered freshly exposed and perfectly preserved tree stumps some 7,000 years old — an “astonishing” sign of how fast and far the glaciers of Western Canada are retreating in the age of climate change.

The stumps — found at the foot of a melting glacier in Garibaldi Provincial Park, about 60 kilometres north of Vancouver — were “still rooted to their original soil” and in such pristine condition that some had retained their bark, says geologist Johannes Koch, a former Simon Fraser University researcher now with Ohio’s College of Wooster.

The stumps are relics of an ancient forest that was growing when humans were still relatively new arrivals in the Americas. At the time, Garibaldi’s advancing Overlord Glacier overran the trees and encased their dead remains in an icy tomb that eventually reached hundreds of metres in depth.

The glacier would have advanced and retreated many times over the ensuing 7,000 years. But never, notes Koch, had historical warming cycles ever shrunk Overlord enough to release these trunks from their primeval deep-freeze — until now.

Well, I have been chastised for only giving one reference when I talk about this subject, so let me raise the target to two PhD dissertations, each of which has significant references. The first is that of Zemp von Romoos from which one reaches the paper by Holtzhauser et al (you need to page down to the 2005 refs and it is a pdf) who states

During the late Bronze Age Optimum from 1350 to 1250 BC, the Great Aletsch glacier was approximately 1000 m shorter than it is today. The period from 1450 to 1250 BC has been recogized as a warm-dry phase in other Alpine and Northern Hemisphere proxies (Tinner et al., 2003). During the Iron/Roman Age Optimum between c. 200 BC and AD 50, the glacier reached today’s extent or was even somewhat shorter than today. In the early Middle Ages (around AD 750), the Great Aletsch glacier reached its present extent.
The Mediaeval Warm Period, from around AD 800 to the onset of the LIA around AD 1300, was interrupted by two weak advances in the ninth (not certain because based only on radiocarbon dating) and the twelfth centuries AD (around AD 1100).

There are graphs that go along with this, along with information on two other glaciers.

One can also go to the Dissertation of Adriana L. CARNELLI who looked at the location of the tree lines in the Alps and found that it was at its highest (300 m above the present), which correlates with other work cited. The work also comments on earlier cyclic warming evidence, and plots chemical composition of soils with depth (around page 190) showing the accumulation of plant residue, during the period of 700 – 2250 years before the present (RWP to MWP) indicating the climate was warmer than today.

avoiding panic is one thing but I wouldn't bet my life on proving everyone else is wrong and irrational because as for example with the 70s inflation/oil panic situation and depending on more oil will certainly be found like north slope/sea to get us out of the hole and the economy will pick up again type of mindset.

Better safe than sorry I say. Kill the CO2 growth economy.

Let's say theer are natural cycles of sorts where due to the malenkovitsch cycles it is warmer then colder and the ice melts and grows again pendulum like every 500 or whatever years. Suppose we are at a point where an ice age should be happening on malenkovitch but everything is melting as if it were at a high temp. point on malenkovitsch. this would show that only CO2/methane forcing is taking place. If the ice melts completely everywhere in Alska n/himalayan laciers beyond all other records from middle ages,etc, then such scientific papers will look weak.

Give it 10 or 20 years. It takes time for ice to melt. Measuring the high-water mark of the MWP warming against early stage 21st century AGW is a faulty comparison. It could be much warmer now and the glaciers might not have retreated as far. Yet.

"Unprecedented" may have been a poor choice of word, but I stand by compelling. I agree the the models are missing something in this regard. The models are complicated and have flaws. They are, however, getting better all the time and model many aspects of the climate with impressive accuracy. I don't want to read between the lines too much with regards to your comment, HO, but I do find a trend in the AGW skeptic literature of latching on to any aspect of the global models that is not perfect and attempting to discredit the entire enterprise by suggesting that this imperfection, whatever it happens to be, indicates the models are "wrong". I find the narrow focus of such arguments to be misleading and specious.

Allow me to draw an analogy from my area: hurricane forecasting. I work with computer models that do a remarkably good job of forecasting a certain aspect of hurricanes, namely the hurricane track. They are far less successful at correctly modeling hurricane intensity. A "hurricane model skeptic" could correctly point out the model has issues with intensity forecast accuracy. To suggest that the model is "wrong" and should be disregarded, however, would be extremely foolish, since the track forecast has considerable value, and is in fact deemed downright essential to society. The important thing is to do one's best to get a handle on where the model uncertainties lie and know which quantities can be forecasted with high confidence and which can not.

The climate models have flaws, and identifying and correcting those flaws is a natural part of their evolution. In the meantime, they're the best estimators of future climate behavior that we have, and I believe we dismiss them at our peril. Anyway, that's a lot of words that are less a response to HeadingOut than a general rant.

The fact that the models are flawed is, IMO, more reason to worry, not less. Clearly, we don't quite understand what's going on. Climate change is happening faster than most imagined only a few years ago. This is not good news.

Does your dynamical model use prescribed SSTs or does it have a fully interactive ocean?

Having to justify state of the art research to ignorant amateurs gets tiring and demeaning. The problem with the vast majority of "skeptics" is that they are not experts in the field that they criticize. In the case of clowns like Singer, they are outright paid shills. It is the so-called liberally biased media that treats this clown and his ilk like qualified scientists and smears real scientists and their work in the process.

What I think we have to remind ourselves is that previous 'WPs' have been the result of some factor other than a change in the composition of the atmosphere. Those factors proved to be transitory fluctuations. We are now dealing with a change in insulation factors which are, to our knowledge, unprecedented. Thus, comparisons are pretty much impossible.

Temperature change distributions seem to be different from previous warming periods. Whatever factors produced previous climate swings will presumably still be in force, with our man made outlier riding along on top. There will be a big difference in behavior and distribution between increased heat input and increased heat retention.

The tendency for people to latch on to the latest dramatic weather event as startling evidence of global warming is understandable, but rarely defensible on scientific grounds.

Actually it IS defensible on scientific grounds; neuroscientists just havent gotten around to proving/falsifying the "availability heuristic" that Tierney discusses. I am quite sure that the recency effect and other bio-physiological phenomenon are quite real - they've just been grounded in the social sciences forever and not properly tested.

The 'availability cascade' is something highly relevant to Peak Oil. Spot shortages and high prices for a year or two and more people will take note that this the words Peak Oil are not temporary.

(p.s. I know your quot was referring to the climate science itself not being defensible)

"the BBC confidently proclaimed, “2007 Data Confirms Warming Trend."Really?


Reactions to tighter hurricane intensity/SST link:


I'm glad you did this, but to be honest you are wasting your time with Heading Out and climate change.

Avoid fuck-ups. Fools, I call them. You all know the type -- no matter how good it sounds, everything they have anything to do with turns into a disaster. Trouble for themselves and everyone connected with them. A fool is bad news, and it rubs off -- don't let it rub off on you.

Do not proffer sympathy to the mentally ill; it is a bottomless pit. Tell them firmly, "I am not paid to listen to this drivel -- you are a terminal fool!" Otherwise, they make you as crazy as they are.

- W. S. Burroughs, Words of Advice for Young People

The debate about hurricane intensity linked to SSTs reveals the level of ignorance of the deniers. Warm SSTs are *the* energy source for hurricanes so intensity is trivially linked to SSTs. Hurricane occurrance is a different ball game since the formation of hurricanes can be disrupted by vertical wind shear, which exhibits more interannual variability.

Windshield Washer Fluid Futures: Buy!

Looks like oil isn't the only liquid that will challenge car owners' budgeting skills in the near future. The Ottawa Sun reports that come 2008, a methanol shortage may cause two-fold hikes in the prices of windshield washer fluid. [...] The cause of the shortage is two-fold: natural gas supplies becoming more difficult to come by and export tariffs imposed by (the methanol-producing nation of) Argentina.

(sorry if this has been posted before)

Re. Hidden Holocaust - Our Civilizational Crisis: the End of the World as We Know It? (article up top)

Taking a long view, in 2008, things will not change radically for those in the ‘developed’ countries - core old Europe, North America, Australia, and the second tier countries in terms of consumption / ecological footprint / carbon emissions, per capita that is, Japan, parts of Europe such as Spain, Greece, Poland; Russia, Mexico, and several ME countries, oil producers. (World mapper has some interesting maps, no doubt many know it. Grain of salt, always.)

The consumers, producers, traders, will continue on their merry way, as they have been for 50 years or so. Everyone is afraid of the old world order being destroyed - those in power, be they tin-pot bling-bling dictators or democratically elected presidents, behind the scene influentials (word?), heads of large corporations, etc. All are set on the status quo, their own position and power.

So military clout, threat and deployed force, bombing and all the rest, will continue to furnish energy to the ‘west’ to the detriment of those who have the great misfortune to be camping on underground black gold in certain vulnerable places..

E.g. Iraqis, who after having about 4 million of theirs -off the cuff-, killed, displaced (internally and externally); yet more cancelled out by dire poverty; now voiceless entirely, will finally capitulate, and let PSAs and other deals go thru. Under the rule of a bunch of puppets, stooges, wannabee super rich types, infeodated to world despots and musing about crystal vases for their Kensington residences, they will beg for food....


Whoever rebuilds Iraq gets to keep it. American reconstruction carnivals ran out of budget some time ago. Iran and China have begun moving in. Ironically, since the Iranians and Chinese are there to do business, they will reconstruct in ways most likely to restart the economy while the US Army only rebuilt show projects to hand over to a loyal puppet government that never materialized. You will hear of Chinese construction workers getting killed; that won't stop them.

How long this can continue until China is crippled by the fraudulent American debt it bought I can't say. Otherwise we should see this pattern reproduced around the world. No matter who wins in Pakistan, Chinese workers will end up rebuilding the mess. There are Chinese workers in the tar sands of Alberta, and the quick-kill fields of Angola. I hope to hear of them putting up millions or tens of millions of wind turbines in the Middle East one day.

They built the Transpacific Railroad too, coming here by sail and steam. What's different is that now they come with strings attached. If our corrupt elites need manual labor to save themselves, they will become entangled in those strings.

There is already a trend of Chinese and Japanese buying American assets with the fistfuls of $$ they have. A chilling future scenario might have an upper class of Chinese in the US, widely resented by Anglo, Afro and Hispanic Americans, possibly leading to the kind of strife seen in Indonesia where Indonesians went on rampages against the hated Chinese merchants.

This is why we need to take the 2nd Amendment seriously, and also train in, and learn what we can, about guerrilla warfare, insurgent warfare, improvised weapons, etc.

Too many protesters throwing molotovs at the flashy store window, not enough winging shots at the delicate power/water/fuel infrastructure used by the New Mandarins....

You can start training on PELLET GUNS. Get a decent pellet pistol and rifle, Get good with them on pest shooting. You will know most of what you'll need to know. Go to gun shows and get your Paladin and Loompanics books, cash only, no names. Take some classes with firearms when you can, basics up to Jeff Cooper stuff, combat rifle and combat pistol. Read Jeff Cooper's book before it's banned while you're at it.

The US needs to require US citizenship to own property or a business in the US, and tighten up, yes retroactively too, citizenship requirements.

Quote from "A Beautiful Mind" - "McCarthy's an idiot, but that doesn't mean he's wrong."

What do you care about what race the ruling class is? You're not invited either way.

Fun times over at DailyKos - I'm making noise about stranded wind, ammonia as a fuel, and rail electrification :-)



U.S. mortgage defaults soar by 35 per cent

Defaults on privately insured U.S. mortgages rose 35 per cent in November to a record, an industry report showed yesterday, adding to evidence the U.S. housing slump is deepening.

The number of insured borrowers falling more than 60 days late on payments jumped to 61,033 last month from 45,325 in November 2006, according to data from members of the Mortgage Insurance Companies of America. The missed payments, often a prelude to foreclosure, represented a 2.9 per cent increase from October.

"This is another data point that suggests that the mortgage insurers are in for a tough slog for 2008," said David Havens, a credit analyst at UBS AG. "Continued deterioration is likely to spur higher claims. And higher claims activity may result in some companies needing to raise money."

Rating companies have lowered their opinions on claims-paying ability for mortgage insurers or said they face possible downgrade.

"It's a rough world out there," said James Brender, an analyst at Standard & Poor's. "There's no reason to be optimistic for the first half of 2008."

Good one Wakefield. Remember we're still in "party time", "the holidays", until Monday. No one's thinking about the sheriff showing up at their door, not even the sheriff, everyone's eating big meals and seeing family and playing with their new presents, if they possibly can. Even the street people are getting some nice dinners around this time of the year.

After Monday is the hungry time of the year, January-February, where we all buckle down and face that things are tough. Because of the difficulty in getting around in the cold at this time of year, I may just not work 4 months a year, and make my hay during the 8 warm months. Lots of people out of work this time of year, and lots of people will get their credit card statements about mid-January and exclaim, "We spent HOW much??"

In theory things pick up again in March, the weather's warmer and people cheer up. But it sure did not work that way in 2007!

Welcome to Third World, U.S.A.

What is usually meant by a Third World economy? A half-century ago, the term was associated with the economically underdeveloped countries of Africa, Asia, South America and Oceania. The common characteristics of these Third World countries were high levels of poverty, income inequality, high birth rates and an economic dependence upon the advanced countries. Third World countries were simply not as industrialized or technologically advanced as Western countries.

But what are some of the distinguishing characteristics of contemporary Third World countries? They go beyond these nations' fiscal position or undue concentration on natural resource exports.

The glaring features today include poverty, lack of democratic institutions, controlling oligarchies and the unequal distribution of income and wealth. In other words, the few enjoy a rich lifestyle while the many share subpar incomes and poverty.

I love the part about rule passing to a close relative.

Of course, the country that doesn't consider equality a good thing probably doesn't think ecology is a good thing either.

Hello to TOD!
As a mostly useless contributor over the past year or two, I’ve often wished I could give something back to the community. But what can I offer? How about GRATITUDE:
Westexas, thank you for ELP; Totonella, for the pointers about fertilizers; And to many others, for showing how intertwined fresh water and energy are. But mostly, as a group you geniuses make so much darned sense that it’s hard NOT to listen. What do I call knowledge that’s this valuable, when it’s given freely? Priceless!

So here’s what my partner and I have done:
1) Abandoned Silicon Valley - me after thirty years, her after ten. Jobs? We don’t need no steenking jobs! Besides, there are lots of high-tech openings in the Silicon Forest - for now.
2) Bought a house in the greater Portland area. Cash - no mortgage. It’s a modest, well-insulated 3&2 on more than a half-acre, and it’s in a 35-year-old neighborhood filled with people who look and sound just like me. The lot is flat, level, and mostly cleared; it has terrific Southern exposure; it’s well above the flood plain; and it’s in the center of the block, with no street frontage at all. It’s on unincorporated land that’s walking distance from a MAX light-rail stop, and just a quick bike ride to town.
3) Planned the upgrades: A stainless-cased irrigation well, a hydronic heat pump to supplement the gas furnace; inserts for both fireplaces; lots of South-facing glass, maybe including clerestories on our new, fifty-year metal roof; and eventually, a greenhouse - a monument of a tempered-glass one, we hope.
4) Planned for laying in supplies: Tools, of course, but maybe buy lots of MAP or DAP. Phosphates seem to be more critical than potash, since there are many folks here who will be burning wood for years to come, and nitrogen can always be had from the air, via alfalfa, soya, or vetch. I’m not talking about a paper position here - I mean bagged phosphate by the ton, in a shed out back.
5) Perhaps the most critical step: Becoming a welcome addition to a new village. Volunteering, doing what’s needed, not pretending to “know better” than the locals, being nosy in a nice way, and asking others to be the same. Every neighbor we’ve spoken to so far has immediately invited us into their home, told us all the local dirt, so that we had to practically pry ourselves away from the chat. It sure was an encouraging first impression.

As far as the land goes, the first priority is clearing out useless growth like grass and ivy (I know, it’ll take a nuclear blast to get rid of that ivy.) It turns out there are no roadblocks to removing some trees as well, provided they’re not endangered species and I don’t intend to sell the wood. That’s fine: It’ll be well seasoned by the time I need it for the fireplaces.

Then I’ll be planting fruit and nut trees on the North and West sides: chestnuts, filberts, pears, apples, who knows what all. A few larger, older, more expensive plantings first; then lots of seedlings can go in the following year, so they reach maturity in stages. Maybe as many as fifteen or twenty trees altogether, if they’re semi-dwarf varieties.

For perimeter security I’ll add berry brambles, like blackcaps. Enough of the neighbors have dogs that I’m hoping I won’t need to get one - yet. But we’ll be keeping chickens - my partner raised them as a kid, and fondly remembers the whole experience.

Then the tilling begins, turning that lovely lawn into mud clumps, a little at a time. Think row crops, fertilized with composted kitchen and yard “waste,” Early-bearing varieties will be started indoors, so I can unload them on the neighbors before they all get saturated in their own produce.

We’re also thinking about starting to sell our veggies at the farmer’s markets in a couple years, as another way to become known to the community. Get some face time, as it were. Who knows, maybe we can dream up a fun way to attract the shoppers, since our focus isn’t on turning a profit. You may as well find a way to enjoy it, if you’re going to sit there all morning for twenty bucks.

I’m hoping that music might help bring folks out of their houses and out of their shells, in the way that people have always responded to rhythm and dance. Just as long as it’s not threatening in a pagan or radical way to the rock-ribbed locals. I’ve played for rich Taiwanese here in the Valley, and was amazed at how such conservative people could open up to us.

But who knows - Maybe I can use my degrees to good use again, for building design and construction, as well as for horticulture. The key is to find a niche and fit in, rather than selling myself as a technogeek. To relearn what it is to be meek, so that my family might inherit the Earth - or our little patch of it, anyway.

We won’t move in for a month yet, but I’m already ready. This homestead will be my full-time job indefinitely, as my partner continues to work so that we can have healthcare coverage. Thank goodness I can continue with my various ventures on background, as it were, to remain in positive cash flow. It also helps that my ‘96 VW still plugs along flawlessly at 166k miles.

In no small measure, I credit the excellent prognostications I’ve found on TOD for some of my current latitude in decision-making. It’s a little unnerving, though, that TOD in German means DEATH!
- nelsone

Inspiring! - As a paycheck to paycheck person in a large city taking care of his 81 yo dad and unemployed GF - connecting with community is the best way to encourage hope in ones self. The more one proactively connects the less one demonizes the other.

As a retread HVAC/R student I sure hope you share details on your planned upgrades !

wow - inspirational. Congrats. especially point #5 - that is very important and oft overlooked.

Congrats from me too. Regarding #5, I found it interesting that Richard Rainwater appeared to be integrating himself into a small town in the Carolinas (in the 12/05 Fortune interview).

The Rainwater Prophecy

Kind of interesting to see how events have unfolded in the two years since this article was published.

Yes, the small-town angle is an essential for any lifeboat, but it's potentially troublesome that my partner is ethnic Chinese, given the possible blowback from the coming economic war. Then again, her fluency in Mandarin is a lot less common/more valuable a skill in Portland than it is in Silicon Valley.

Ta dang ran hwei dzou zhong gwo fan - dzou de hun hao chr de? Rou gwo hau de -dwei xin de Portland pung yo, yo hun duo de guanxi!

gong xi ni men...

Sorry, but the four native speakers here in the room with me now can't sort out any of this pinying except for your "congratulations" at the end. But Xie Xie anyway!

Lol! really?
I said - "of course she probably can cook chinese food - can she cook it well? If its good it will develop good 'guanxi' with your new portland neighbors"-which is like social karma-though i learned bopomofo instead of pinyin so that might 'splain. In any case, its personally satisfying to hear that some here are making real changes in their lives based on what they learn/read.

Thanks for the 'splainin'. Can she cook! Waddya think! I never eat out any more.

Ever hear it said, "It's better to regret something you have done than something you haven't done."
We had enormous fear/buyer's remorse attacks the day after the commitment, but what the heck, now it's full steam ahead. For me, this move is very much the realization of a lifelong dream, and I don't believe that I'll have to give up on my high-tech background to live my life there. Chemists can be useful in agrarian societies too.

请你不用pinyin。我看不懂你的写 :-)。


Thanks for your congrats; they're warmly appreciated, and you all there are our friends, too!
May it always be that way: May we ordinary people never be coerced by our leaders to believe that our problems lie with ordinary people outside our own borders.
For too long the human race has been mostly followers; Maybe the internet and our other information technologies can free us to become the leaders of our own lives.

glad to see so many TODers can speak or write in Chinese.

i'm sure you folks understand 君子为腹不为目

You are my hero :-)

Congrats on escaping the Silicon Ghetto!

The Pacific Northwest is great, what little I've seen. I remember blackberries being weeds by the roadside and a HUGE I mean HeeYUGE garden spider, that was cool.

A degree in tech is pretty useless, but any degree is still better than no degree, still.

You might consider "busking" which is playing music on the street, I was drifting towards that in the Silicon Ghetto when everything imploded on me. Buskers who were any good and had any measure of social skills did quite well, $50 for a couple of hours being not unusual.

You might also consider handy work, yard work, setting up gardens for people, that sort of thing.

If you have your main money "nut" covered, then you can work for very little and it will go far.


Welcome to Portland metro.I work in PDX,and live a bit to the south east,in Eagle Creek,betwix Sandy and Estacada.
Portland is my homebase mostly.Its a good town.Friendly,mostly nice folk.One of the neat things is foodhouses ,good ones,everywhere.Like Lebonese?Chinese,Korean?
You want vegan,try the pearl dist for high end eats...The Blossoming Lotus or 10 blocks away, 1980 style hardcore hookers and whiskey bar,the Lotus Cardroom{rough joint,be careful there}
There is a excellent library downtown,a word of caution on the MAX.After 11pm no police.do not ride after 1030pm...it is flat dangerous...lots of gangbanger types...you are a goldfish in a barracuda tank
In southeast,between Glisan and Powell,from 148th to 232th in Gresham,basicly all of Rockwood is Lil baha,lots of mexican and russian.They are starting to see carjacks,and lots of street robberies. .Lents district se 92nd Foster area is also rough.These are the areas I spent a good amount of my youth in,and know well.Do not travel at night unless armed.I am not kidding.My younger brother was a LEO in town for 28 years,and I get warned regularly by him where not to go.
Daylight most of town is as safe as anywhere,but keep eyes open.

Once again, Welcome to Portland!

I am suddenly craving a soy latte at ...

Cheers to all at TOD.

Special Thanks to Leanan for all your good work.

BTW just received my album cover and such for my Radiohead rainbows download purchase.

Really cool!!!!

Includes full size vinyl records????

Is Thom predicting/ preparing us for a large EMP?

Major doomer dude. My Hero.

Edit: by that I mean he is brave enough to make a statement by issuing lp records as it has got to make one stop and think.

"little babies eyes, eyes eyes eyes eyes"

"Throughout history, people have had difficulty in distinguishing reality from illusion. Reality is what happens, whereas illusion is what we would like to happen.

Wishful thinking is a well-worn expression. Momentum is still another element: we tend to assume that things keep moving in the same direction.

The world now faces a discontinuity of historic proportions, as nature shows her hand by imposing a new energy reality. There are vested interests on all sides hoping somehow to evade the iron grip of oil depletion, or at least to put it off until after the next election or
until they can develop some strategy for their personal or corporate survival. As the moment of truth approaches, so does the heat, the deceptions, the half-truth and the flat out lies."

Colin Powell

2007 was a year of awareness ...

2008 ... Transistion and Contribution ??

Russia, Iran tighten the energy noose (Asia Times)

The first consignment of nuclear fuel for Bushehr from Russia under the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards finally arrived in Tehran on Monday [ed: Dec 14?]. "We have agreed with our Iranian colleagues a timeframe for completing the plant and we will make an announcement at the end of December," said Sergei Shmatko, ...

Say hello to the petroruble:

Russia consolidates in 2007
In fact, how Moscow proceeds with the reconfiguration of Russo-Iranian relations could well form the centerpiece of the geopolitics of energy security in Eurasia during 2008.

I know, Leanan probably already posted this, it's over a week old. There was also this:

Russia delivers first nuclear fuel to Iran

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia has delivered the first shipment of nuclear fuel to Iran's Bushehr atomic power station, a step both Moscow and Washington said should convince Tehran to shut down its disputed uranium enrichment program.

and this:

Iran receives second nuclear fuel shipment (USA Today)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran received the second shipment of nuclear fuel from Russia on Friday for a power plant being constructed in the southern Iranian town of Bushehr, the official news agency IRNA reported.

It is a sad commentary on our corruption that it takes a Russian oligarch to do what our Democratic dominated Congress can not; stopping President Cheney and Sock Puppet Bush cold in their tracks.

The Iranians are safe beneath the Russian ICBM umbrella and there they will remain while the mortgage scam comes home to roost.

Stupid, stupid little neocons, with their failure to grasp cause and effect. Only 384 more days and it ends ... unless we haul our Congress along by the hand and get them to do their duty first.

Or unless a Republican gets elected president, then our national crisis will continue. Impossible? If Hillary gets the nomination she has such high negatives from crossover voters and elicits such strong emotion from her detractors that they will turn out in droves to defeat her. I’m hoping Edwards gets the nomination as he is probably the only one who can use class warfare to his advantage and speak to the many voters who voted for Bush and did not benefit from his policies. Richardson would be an excellent choice to complete the ticket.

"I love my country, but I fear my government!"
my new bumper sticker...........

No matter who gets elected Prez, (and I pray its not Hillary) the new prez will inherit an economy with a surplus of houses on the market, an illegal immigration problem, a war, pakistan cooperation, a continued threat of terror, higher prices on all goods, along with oil prices hoovering around the current price. (it's an election year, and not much will change in the markets or oil prices until a new prez is voted in.)

Once a new prez is elected I suspect things in the economy and oil not helping things either, will just get worse. There will have to be more taxes expected of the people to pay for the infrastructure that so badly needs repair, ie roads, bridges, water supply, (Atlanta?)
I just read an article the Tennessean newspaper about possible drought conditions in lower Tennessee not getting much better for 2008, unless mother nature can provide copious amounts of rain.
These are indeed interesting times and it seems like things are going in very slow motion, yet nothing can be done to reverse the situation.

As someone (name escapes me) mentioned awhile back in TOD, whoever gets elected could possibly be our last elected prez. especially if things get too out of control.

I'd like me some o' dat :-) I'm caucusing for Edwards and I actually managed a five minute private chat with Richardson last spring. A rather odd dude in person and I sometimes wonder if totoneila is not his pen name ...

haha! keen observation...........

Hello SCT,

Someone you know will vouch that I am not Gov. Richardson.

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

To rephrase an old adage..
"For every door we close, a back-door is opening.."

"The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers..."

Ahh, you know my tastes too well!

'To a dark place this leads..'

Check out the Hubbert memo at the bottom of the ASPO article:


That is so interesting...

Those guys have NEVER STOPPED LYING.

''...This process grew rancorous, petty and personal. Here’s hoping politics and infighting don’t impact scientific assessments of world oil resources today.''

Jeez... This man needs a statue somewhere.

We got a spare plinth in Trafalager Square...

We were warned.

So sad.

Mudlogger, by the time Hubbert is a household name, we won't have the natural gas to melt the bronze for his statue ; (

I like Greer's idea of putting a word into common use: describe running out of x as "the x hubberted".

Errol in Miami

Or at least a tribute:


Best Of The Oil Drum Index

And now for some New Year sillyness

I bring you the Flying Car:



I can imagine the carnage in the skies from these things colliding with each other and with stationary objects.

just think of the carnage a flying SUV will make...

LOL! I wonder if it would be named the Dumbo.

Hello TODers,

Wild & Crazy Speculation ahead!

Airborne Spiderwebs for light, time-critical, high value goods?

Most readers are already familiar with my SpiderWebRiding concepts to extend effective biosolar heavy bulk-transport from the endpoints of Alan Drake's RR & TOD proposals.

Since I have not traveled the continent much: I am unsure how applicable my next brainstorm [brainfart?] is to the various geographies.

My Asphalt Wonderland has high peaks surrounding and internal to the urban clusterf**k. Piestewa Peak, over 1300 feet tall, is just one impressive example [please see photos]:


As can be seen from the photos: hammering postPeak useless SUVs into cables spiderwebing outward from the summit could allow quick gravity delivery of light goods to much of the urban landscape below. A one pound steel pulley, with a load suspended below, could go for miles and miles---compare this non-FF efficiency to a multi-ton ICE UPS or FEDEX truck delivering a small package of medicine, numismatic coins, mail, or other lightweight, high value item. The cable endpoint would then enable short, fast, and local final bicycle delivery. Interim dropoff delivery points [into a safety net] are also possible if the 'smart' pulley has GPS and a release servo-mechanism, then the pulley rolls to the gravity endpoint.

If Alan Drake's RR has a depot at the mountain base: young people could earn a good living portering the goods upslope along with the requisite pulley, then riding a thrilling zipline down for a quick turnaround for the next uphill slog. It wouldn't require much in the way of PV pumps to supply a ready uphill water source for these hikers. The PV panels could also provide a shady resting spot from our blazing summer sun.

For longer deliveries: the porters would backpack up small, computer and GPS controlled model electric airplanes and/or helicopters. A properly designed backpack may allow one person to hike up with ten planes at once. The PV panels required to charge these small batteries is nothing compared to the PV requirement to recharge a big UPS delivery PHEV. Again, these dinky planes/helis land at the pre-programmed landing points, then quick, local bicycle delivery.

The radial dispersal from the mountainous highpoints to the lowland endpoints thus precludes the collision possibility. Also, highpoint sniper dominance, if required, at the mountaintops, and also along the cable towers, will prevent any theft ideas as the pulley loads glide along far overhead of most people below.

Could New York City, with all it skyscrapers, cable
spiderweb itself to move most goods with very little FF-inputs postPeak? Could flatland cities in Iowa, Nebraska, et al, build tall towers to move small, high value goods speedily?

Okay, TODers, feel free to elaborate or dispute: could this be a viable postPeak model to locally replace the current FF-dependent FEDEX, UPS, and USPS delivery model?

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

Very nice out-of-box thinking as usual!

Why not add wind? The tops of mountains are, perforce, where the wind is, and if you wanted to you could do a straight mechanical conversion of wind for pulling train cars up the hill without even having to convert it to electricity. It could operate as a semi-funicular railway with the mass of the cars themselves on the way down offsetting the energy cost of raising the cars going up on the other side.

And it'd be entertaining to watch during an electrical storm. You could probably pass electrical power down the same cables, for that matter.

And hey, to out-spiderweb you in out-of-the-box thinking, how about a crash research program to efficiently and easily create spider silk? If humans could do that, there would be all sorts of 3-D things they could do which are not now feasible. The raw materials aren't a problem, and it can't be impossible if a spider's butt can do it.

Taken a step further, if we engineer humans to be about 3' tall with nominally similar brain volume to what we now have, and equip them with silk spinnerets, we'd have a decent elphin race with which to supplant current humans. Works for me....

What's used from spiders is on the anti-terror angle. Enter BioSteel.

Spider webbing secreted in goat's milk as strong as Kevlar. A new use for marginal lands. (Actually, this process/firm predates 9-11, so it may not be the terror angle)


Cool! Goat-spider chimeras. Aside from being a top-notch idea for a low-budget horror film ("The goat-spiders of Nexia"), biosteel sounds cool too. Thass what I'm talkin' about. But we need to take the fancy infrastructure out of it and breed critters that can do it from soup to nuts and breed true. Being a biosteel goat-herder in the year 2250 would be a prestigious job. Would bring long overdue respect to the term "goat roper".

Bob, Let me make sure I have this straight...

You want to let some hair brained kids that are now flipping burgers walk up a mountain with some rolls of Krands and parcels of diamonds, place the parcels on rinky-dink motorized gliders and launch them off into never land? Or, place them on a cable and send them whizzing down the mountain to end up...where? If a parcel goes missing who is responsible for it? No one in their right mind would turn over valuables to be transported in such a haphazard fashion. Responsibility, accountability, security...These are the necessities required for transport of valuables. Your scheme offers none of the above.

If you are going to use a PV pump to supply water to the porters why not just use the PV to run a motor connected to two pulleys and a continuous cable up to the mountain top? Or do you just like hiking? Pumping water against gravity requires a lot of electricty. The higher the 'head' the more powerful the pump required the more electricty needed...

Sorry to rain on your parade but I believe your idea needs more detail work.

I have to say, I find it rather annoying that once again, someone has casually blamed "eating meat" for the rising cost of food without seriously examining whether or not it is actually more meat consumption or whether it is modern factory farming methods that use grains, corn, etc. to feed the livestock that is the problem. The vast majority of the land on this planet is not arable - the only way anyone is ever going to get food out of it is to let some goat or cattle eat the useless grasses, brush and weeds and then milk the girl goats and eat most of the boy ones. This has worked fine for tens of thousands of years - until modern factory farming started feeding livestock "people food" instead of their natural grazing materials. Sustainable farms the world over don't feed their livestock stuff they intend to eat themselves except in unusual cases of drought, etc., where no natural feed is available. Modern organic farms likewise don't seem to have any problems raising their livestock in a sustainable and natural manner that in no way raises the price of corn and oats. How about putting some of the blame where it belongs, not on naturally omnivorous mankind, but on modern factory farming that ignores both the needs of people and the needs of the environment and even the needs of the livestock in their unnatural monoculture environments.

Good point. Though they are somewhat on target, since most meat does originate from factory-farming. I'd like to see the numbers on how much livestock and meat production could be sustained from the world's non-arable land. I suspect that organic farming and increased use of non-arable land for livestock couldn't begin to satisfy the demand for meat. The surest way to spike the price of meat would be to mandate "organic only".

A curious thing happened yesterday, while I was working outside. There was a tremendous boom, like an explosion, which rattled everything, and I could hear an aircraft afterwards. I assume it was a supersonic boom from an aircraft travelling high up.

Just made me wonder what an aircraft would be doing going over central France faster than the speed of sound. Someone in a hell of a hurry and presumably in a military jet. As far as I'm aware, planes are not allowed to travel at such speeds overland in European airspace. And the same happened a couple of weeks ago too, at night.

Anyone aware of what might going on?

Probably just the Dutch chasing UFOs again.

'An Ottoman warning for America'
Tuesday January 1, 1:45 pm ET
By Niall Ferguson


'Future historians will look back on the current decade as a turning point comparable with that of the Seventies. No, not the 1970s. This is not going to be another piece pointing out the coincidence of an unpopular Republican president, soaring oil prices, a sagging dollar and an unwinnable faraway war. I am talking about the 1870s'...snip...

'Yet, on closer inspection, we are indeed living through a global shift in the balance of power very similar to that which occurred in the 1870s. This is the story of how an over-extended empire sought to cope with an external debt crisis by selling off revenue streams to foreign investors. The empire that suffered these setbacks in the 1870s was the Ottoman empire. Today it is the US'...snip...

'It remains to be seen how quickly today's financial shift will be followed by a comparable geopolitical shift in favour of the new export and energy empires of the east. Suffice to say that the historical analogy does not bode well for America's quasi-imperial network of bases and allies across the Middle East and Asia. Debtor empires sooner or later have to do more than just sell shares to satisfy their creditors'.

The writer is a professor at Harvard University and Harvard Business School and a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford

The United States of America has it within its power with very little inconvenience to delay the impending oil peak by 20 years. All it has to do is to reduce it's per capita consumption to than of Japan or Europe.

The United States of America has it within its power with very little inconvenience to delay the impending oil peak by 20 years. All it has to do is to reduce it's per capita consumption to than of Japan or Europe.

Well, I don't think so. Japan, per capita, consumes about two thirds the US rate and Europe slightly less. The US is 17th in per capita consumption.

The US consumes about 15 mb/d of crude oil, (C+C) or about 20 mb/d if you count all liquids. So we could save 5 million barrels per day of crude oil if we consumed one third less. That would delay peak oil about one or two years at most.

Ron Patterson

Well, you cherry picked the numbers but I confess so did I. The per capita rates for Japan and Europe when averaged are about 1/2 that of the USA. The current rate for the USA is, as you say, about 20 mb/d. 1/2 that would be 10 mb/d.

The current rate of world consumption is about 42 mb/d and decreasing at about 500K bb/d for the last two years. To get down 10 mb/d would take about 20 years at that rate. Of course the decline may not be linear as I assumed but could be either a constant percent as some say or undulating as others say. So it all depends.

In any case, what happens to the peak crucially depends on what the USA does about it profligate habits.

Some history.

Gavrilo Princip wikipedia.

Borijove Jeytic [Borijove Jevtic]

And some similar present stuff

A tiny clipping from a newspaper, mailed without comment ..."

So let's see what we can do about getting these unfortunate matters settled peacefully.

Us cats are working on this.

On June 28, 1914 Gavrilo Princip participated in the assassination ...

Let's move ahead to 1917.


Now there would be a false flag operation for the Republicans to pull - George gets himself whacked, Cheney is president, Forever War is launched, and the nation stands behind Der Party as it deals with al Queda on the road and Progressive Democrats involved in the assassination on the home front.

I'll end up in Gitmo 'cause I was brave enough to suggest it here on TOD, extraordinary rendition will be used to removed all of those pesky, question asking Democratic Senators, Henry Waxman will have an unfortunate fall, and we all march on towards the country god intended us to be.

Makes me a little ill to do the visualization required to write that. James Madison would be so embarrassed by what we've come to ...

Maybe Kunstler is right to fear the "gun culture" of the southeast...

Town’s Water Supply Drains From Bullet Holes - Water Tower Shot With High-Powered Rifle

MAIDEN, N.C. -- In the midst of an extreme drought, a North Carolina town has lost hundreds of thousands of gallons of water that leaked from bullet holes discovered in the town’s water tower.

That's the kind of thing good gun training and education prevents.

Meanwhile in Oakland they just shoot at each other :-))

I have been keeping an eye out for the first U.S. "structure hit" since that behavior started in Mexico last summer with the PEMEX bombings. I'd been expecting some sort of gas line bombing but I think this qualifies. What if this is some nutcase? A H&H .375, a couple boxes of shells, and the guy could shut down a dozen towns before he gets caught.

Above ground issues ... quite a ways above ground in this instance :-(

In a lot of parts of the country, it's hard to find things that aren't full of bullet holes. Mailboxes, street signs, anything that can be shot. I think a major expense of maintaining the Goodyear blimp is patching the bullet holes.

The USA is just basically full of idiots with guns. Finding bullet holes in things isn't exactly a surprise. Finding a big public object in redneckistan with NO bullet holes... now there we'd have something.

There's so much low-hanging fruit in this country that even a rogue high school science class could paralyze the nation if it tried to. There simply aren't any terrorists trying to do anything at the moment in the USA unless they're utter three-stooge level imbeciles.

But we should be mighty afraid just the same, otherwise 'they' win.

Redneckistan.org :-) Why don't you buy that domain from me and make something out of it - I am far too busy with other pursuits :-)

Tempting, but as another domain-buying addict, I probably should do something with the several hundred others first.

If you initially coined that, I salute you for it!

I believe that I did coin it, at least within my own little universe, and I took the time to register it. It moulders, alas, right next to DumbFuck.org, which is a true shame given the impending election :-)

Had a similar thought as the Cali fires burned this year. How hard would it be for a single terrorist to plant gasoline bombs in the dry regions throughout the U.S. during the summer. One moderately intelligent person moderately skilled could spend their summer driving around planting largish containers of gasoline with timed detonators. At the designated time, all of them go off igniting many dry regions at once all over the U.S. Doesn't even require a suicide style attack. So easy. Massive pay off in terms of $ damage with minimal investment.

Mark, this site is full of knowledgeable and intelligent people; just to be on the safe side let's NOT discuss the most cost-effective way to cripple the US. As Greenish so correctly pointed out, a rogue high school chemistry class could push what Kunstler called our "listing, creaking, reeking edifice" over the edge.

On the other hand, that sounds like an exciting topic for when a few of us doomers get together in person....

Errol in Miami

Yes, please, I second that request. I specifically refrained from giving examples, since there may actually BE retarded terrorist wannabe's cruising the internet.

Honestly, it almost seems like there are "kick me" signs up all over the USA with no takers. If anyone from Homeland Security is reading here, toss me a small grant and I'll make you a Top 50 list of the things you're doing wrong.

And if nobody from HS is reading here, I wonder WTF they're doing. The ninnies at the airports who confiscate your toothpaste and make you drive in circles aren't exactly a defense against anything. I'm just saying.

This is not the first time/place this has been discussed. The more focused disruptive types have suggested that TracFones with an hour on them tied to small scale incendiaries would be the way to go. A fire line forty miles long arriving essentially instantaneously would cost about $100/mile and when the conditions are right ... well ... San Diego. Rinse and repeat until we sell the southwest back to Mexico for a dollar just to get free of the fire fighting costs.

Bruce Sterling imagines much of this in his novels - I credit him with the phrase "structure hit", a nonlethal but highly disruptive action against infrastructure.

The Department of Homeland Security is a woefully small bit of fluff in the face of a heavily armed, formerly well off nation like the United States. We must start making remediation moves, sooner rather than later, or we'll see L.A. post Rodney King across every urban space before too long.

ixnay on the errortay

seriously, it's probably a bad idea to actually describe terror scenarios that could be done by idiots with time on their hands. anyone with any imagination can think of dozens, so no need to give a leg up to those who can't.

But you're right of course.

I was also serious about the Homeland Security grant. You agency folks, check my files and give me a ring. Suitcases full of cash cheerfully accepted.

What I described takes a bit more than your average idiot. The one most likely to execute such things? He'll have a combat infantry badge, a commission he resigned, and no V.A. benefits thanks to Republican shenanigans. Screwing our army and marines is going to prove to be the most visible screw up from the Bush administration. We got D.C. and Oklahoma City out of thirty eight days of ground combat and now we're getting back guys who've been there thirty eight months and in urban combat the whole time. If that isn't a recipe for disaster I don't know what is ...

Makes me sad, thinking all the wonderful remediation we could have done with the two trillion Bush & Co. have pissed away ...

If we had gotten our act together seriously wrt "homeland security" we would have had community militias/police auxiliaries on 24/7/365 watch duty around ALL sensitive infrastructure sites. The fact that we've done just about anything but that one obvious thing shows just what a sham "Homeland Security" really is. Clearly, the current administration is after a quite different set of priorities.

Well, this certainly is a nice way to start the year. Our Stranded Wind userid at DailyKos has made the front page :-)

Stranded Wind makes the front page of DailyKos