DrumBeat: January 6, 2008

50 people who could save the planet

Stranded polar bears, melting glaciers, dried-out rivers and flooding on a horrific scale - these were the iconic images of 2007. So who is most able to stop this destruction to our world? A Guardian panel, taking nominations from key environmental figures, met to compile a list of our ultimate green heroes

The Forecast in the Streets

The physical impacts of the global warming forecast can be bracketed with some degree of statistical confidence. Biological effects are more difficult to gauge, except in special cases such as the likely demise of polar bears that would result from the demise of Arctic sea ice. The societal effects, however, are nearly uncharted territory, at least to me. Perhaps the topic of global warming suffers from the same sort of cultural divide as university faculties, between the techies and the touchies; that is the sciences and the humanities. A new report (pdf) called The Age of Consequences, just released by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Center for a New American Security, tries to bring the social sciences, in particular history, geography, and political science, into the forecast of climate change in the coming century. It makes for fascinating if frightening reading.

Who Will Control Your Thermostat?

What should be controversial in the proposed revisions to Title 24 is the requirement for what is called a "programmable communicating thermostat" or PCT. Every new home and every change to existing homes' central heating and air conditioning systems will required to be fitted with a PCT beginning next year following the issuance of the revision. Each PCT will be fitted with a "non-removable " FM receiver that will allow the power authorities to increase your air conditioning temperature setpoint or decrease your heater temperature setpoint to any value they chose. During "price events" those changes are limited to +/- four degrees F and you would be able to manually override the changes. During "emergency events" the new setpoints can be whatever the power authority desires and you would not be able to alter them.

In other words, the temperature of your home will no longer be yours to control. Your desires and needs can and will be overridden by the state of California through its public and private utility organizations. All this is for the common good, of course.

Soaring price oils wheels for green power

Sarah Hall's novel The Carhullan Army, which won this year's John Llewellyn Rhys prize for literature, paints a bleak portrait of a world where the oil has almost run out. Set in the not-too-distant future, the Orwellian novel describes a Britain run by a dictatorship called the Authority, where electricity is rationed, the miserable population subsists on tinned food and mountain-dwelling outlaws revert to subsistence living.

Last week, in the real world, the price of oil finally went through the $100 a barrel mark, and was a whisker away from breaking the all-time record price of $101.70. While Britain is not about to turn its back on oil and become a dictatorship as a result, it makes investing in clean energy a better bet.

Oil price fuels fresh look at coal

VAST coal reserves in Asia are gaining attention as major energy consumers such as China and India grapple with the reality of oil prices around $US100 a barrel and the risks they pose to their economies.

Multibillion-dollar facilities that convert coal to oil are being studied across Asia, while utilities are shelving plans to build power plants that use natural gas or fuel oil because prices of those fuels track the cost of crude.

A "Fame-Hungry" Speculator in New York Raises Oil Prices to over $100 a Barrel

Is there enough oil to cover this increasing demand for energy, especially with the spread of the "peak oil" theory in western states, which doubt the reserve figures of OPEC countries? The problem with this new-old theory, which finds listeners whenever oil prices rise and spreads fear and anxiety among some analysts, is that its viewpoint cannot be defended in realistic terms. The proponents of this theory cast doubt and lies without any convincing material evidence. Holding fast to this theory means ignoring the world's realities as we live them today; more important is the question of how we will live these realities tomorrow.

U.S. Considers New Covert Push Within Pakistan

President Bush’s senior national security advisers are debating whether to expand the authority of the Central Intelligence Agency and the military to conduct far more aggressive covert operations in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

The debate is a response to intelligence reports that Al Qaeda and the Taliban are intensifying efforts there to destabilize the Pakistani government, several senior administration officials said.

Pakistan power shortage hits steel, textile mills

Pakistan has shut all steel melting units across the country for two weeks and ordered hundreds of textile mills to reduce operations to cope with an acute power shortage, a government official said on Saturday.

All business and shopping centres have also been told to close early.

How to stay afloat amid soaring gas prices

Fly-fishing guide Josh Nugent recognizes US$100 oil means fuel prices will soar this summer, so he is taking action now to keep his tiny, six-year-old outfitting company afloat.

The 26-year-old entrepreneur, with a little help from his brother, a mechanical engineer, has converted the diesel engine in his fuel-guzzling Suburban to burn vegetable oil.

The Philippines: Oil firms extend holiday discounts

Holiday price discounts have been extended for another week, or until January 15, to partly ease consumers’ burden over rising oil prices.

Eastern Petroleum Corporation advised that its P1.88 per liter diesel discount to public utility vehicles will be in place until January 15, along with the cut-backs of P1.00 per liter for gasoline and P0.50 per liter for its regular diesel customers.

Kenya: The Day Business Ground to a Standstill

Worst of all was the petroleum shortage. It not only affected transport but also trading activities by hindering the movement of goods from place to place. Unlike the 1990/91 or 1994 clashes, this was the first time generalised violence was hitting major urban centres. The sobering fact that did not escape notice was the sheer economic gridlock this caused in about four days.

Malaysia Rations Cooking Oil, Stokes Inflation Fears

Malaysia has limited the amount of cooking oil consumers can purchase to overcome a shortage caused by panic buying, local media reported on Sunday, a move that could add to inflationary pressures.

Beginning Monday, consumers can purchase up to 5 kg (11 lbs) of cooking oil, which is sold by weight, newspapers reported. The authorities have blamed the shortage on hoarding and panic buying caused by rumours of an impending price hike.

The News-Record's annual coal report

Wet spring weather and weakened demand from electric utilities during the first half of the year appear to have contributed to more modest production gains for northeast Wyoming’s coal mines in 2007 — a big change from 2006 when the area’s producers saw tonnage rocket up 10 percent.

Early estimates by The News-Record show the Southern Powder River Basin’s 14 active mines produced about 437 million tons in 2007, a 1.4 percent increase over the previous year when 430.8 million tons were produced.

Gaza back to blackout due to Israel-imposed fuel supplies cut, say energy officials

Gaza Strip has begun to suffer a renewed blackout as power outages still go on due to shortage of fuel supplies after Israel has ruled large reduction of the fuel it provides Gaza with on daily basis.

Private Cash Sets Agenda for Urban Infrastructure

Philanthropic spending adds mainly to the nation’s stock of hospitals, libraries, museums, parks, university buildings, theaters and concert halls. Public infrastructure — highways, bridges, rail systems, water works, public schools, port facilities, sewers, airports, energy grids, tunnels, dams and levees — depends mostly on tax dollars. It is hugely expensive and the money available, while still substantial, has shrunk as a share of the national economy.

The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that government should be spending $320 billion a year over the next five years — double the current outlay — just to bring up to par what already exists.

Promoting all-green power for county

Marin Supervisor Charles McGlashan wants to become a power broker.

McGlashan wants to form a countywide power authority that could plug thousands of local homes and businesses into electricity that is 100 percent renewable.

Facing New Mileage Rules, Porsche Preps a Hybrid S.U.V.

IT is hard to imagine a less likely candidate for the hybrid treatment: the Porsche Cayenne, a 5,000-pound S.U.V. that ranks among the fastest, most powerful trucks ever built.

But Porsche insists that its deep-pocketed clientele — whose concerns have involved acceleration, not conservation — will still appreciate a Cayenne that uses less fuel.

Think diesel

Diesel vehicles typically use 20 percent less fuel than comparable gasoline vehicles. That means a diesel car emits less pollution and greenhouse gas than a gasoline car. And by using less fuel, diesels could cut U.S. dependence on oil.

A Split On Global Warming

The contrast could not be more striking: Every Democratic candidate for president has put forward an aggressive package of policies and statements on global warming and has made it a cornerstone of his or her campaign.

Of the Republicans, just one, John McCain, comes close to matching the Democrats' fervor for the issue. The GOP contenders focus instead on policies aimed at achieving energy independence — a goal that dates to the energy crisis of the 1970s.

Yergin: $100 oil 'tells a lot of what's going on in the world'

The $100 is really part of a trend and imbedded in it is how rapidly costs have risen. ... We created this thing that's called the IHS/CERA upstream capital cost index, and the newest one shows that costs continue to go up dramatically. Basically, since 2000, costs have doubled and most of that doubling has been in the past three years. Among other things, what that has done is lead to delays and postponements and scaling back and re-prioritizing projects, so all of that means that there is a noticeable lag in responding to this, what is really a global commodity boom.

Saudi 2009 oil capacity plan on track - official

State oil giant Saudi Aramco is on track to hit its oil production capacity target of 12 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2009, an Aramco official said on Sunday.

...He did not explain why Khursaniyah and Moneefa were delayed.

How $100 oil will change your life

Some observers fear the energy crisis will go beyond high prices into outright shortages. David Strahan, author of The Last Oil Shock: A Survival Guide to the Imminent Extinction of Petroleum Man, is one.

“We are extremely poorly prepared,” he said. “People will have difficulty paying to keep their house warm, to fill their car’s tank, to go on holiday. We saw in 2000 with the petrol protests just how fast things get tricky. People go into hoarding mode . . . and then the whole system unravels very quickly.”

Market determines oil prices: Saudi Arabia

Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said on Sunday that the rise in oil prices to a record high had been determined by market forces.

"The market fixes the price of oil," Naimi told reporters at an energy conference in Riyadh when asked to comment on oil's surge to a record above $100 last week.

$100 oil will hurt at more than the pump

If oil prices stay up, Americans also may see higher prices for a host of other petroleum-derived products, from light bulbs and paint to golf balls and deodorant.

"There's oil in everything around us," said Edward Morse, chief energy economist at Lehman Bros. in New York. So it's impossible not to be touched by $100 oil.

Oil Increases Hit More than Gasoline Prices

Once again, oil prices are "surging," and once again the primary discussion focuses on the cost of gasoline. While the price of gasoline is the most direct visible aspect for individuals, it is certainly not the only one. Increasing fuel costs are a concern, but there are other costs and related crises that erode people's ability to survive. These are largely "indirect" costs only because they are media-framed as such.

3-digit oil price is here to stay

However, for the rest of the year it looks certain that oil prices will break further psychological barriers and may increase by $2 or $5 and may be by even $10 a barrel before the end of this year. The oil producing countries will have to be prepared to utilize the surplus oil revenues which are growing by billions of dollars. In absence of any surplus production capacity globally, it will be a real test for these countries to show their productions cards, if any. Emptying the wells of oil producing countries will also depend on the behavior and the growth rate of the two Asian giants — China and India — and depends on their further appetite for liquid black gold. Oil prices have broken the three-digit barrier and it is hard to go back to double digit prices. The year of 1860 will not return when oil prices went down from $10 a barrel to 10 cents by the end of the year. This era is different and there are more oil consumers now than 147 years ago. So, prepare yourselves and cut down your oil consumptions whenever you can.

Experts are less bullish on $100 oil

Addison Armstrong, director of market research for Tradition Energy, an energy procurement and analysis firm in Stamford, Conn., said he expects oil to fall to $75 a barrel the first quarter.

That's a time of seasonally lower demand that could be exacerbated by a slowdown and prompt speculators to sell off rather than further test economic resiliency to high prices.

China could be winner in Alaska oil war

Under a cloud of bribery and corruption scandals, Alaska is hitting back against the oil industry. Even the Republicans who now run the state are in revolt at the favourable treatment the oil industry has enjoyed from Alaska over the years. For many of the 670,000 people who live there, resentment against the industry has been growing for years, but it reached new levels of intensity after BP's oil spill at Prudhoe Bay in 2006.

Farmers, energy interests clash over pipeline plan

A Canadian oil company may seek eminent domain power to buy rural land along a 170-mile route to a southern Illinois terminal.

OPEC pressured in face of $100 oil

The oil producing cartel OPEC will face enormous pressure to help calm the febrile crude market at its next meeting in February after prices struck the symbolic $100 level, analysts said. "It (the 100-dollar record) will be a psychological trigger for consumer countries," said global head of commodities at investment bank Societe Generale Frederic Lasserre. "We will see governments putting pressure on OPEC, saying 'we need you to do something for us'. In the end though, they (governments) probably share th e view that adding a few barrels will not change the market.

Taiwan's CPC Gas Oil Unit Hit by Fire; Oil Supply Unaffected

The explosion, caused by a leaking pipe, may cut about 5 percent of CPC's oil supply, and its two other refineries will increase production to fill the gap.

If need be, CPC doesn't rule out the possibility of buying oil from Singapore's spot market, the Taipei-based Economic Daily News reported today, citing an unidentified CPC executive.

Crude oil barrel at $100 'not necessarily very high': OPEC president

The price of 100 dollars for a barrel of crude oil is "not necessarily very high" given the high demand of oil and higher production costs, the president of OPEC said Sunday.

Montana: Big plans in pipeline for little Great Falls refinery

The future of an oil refinery established in Great Falls almost 80 years ago lies some 650 miles north in the oil sands of Alberta.

The future of one of the smallest players tapping into that large reserve, second only to those in Saudi Arabia, depends on the Great Falls refining company on the north shore of the Missouri River, one of the smallest in North America.

Faltering economy primary focus

Maybe the US of 2008 won't be as bad as columnist James Howard Kunstler predicted last Friday -- "a whole continent full of bankrupt, re-poed, and idle former WalMart shoppers, many of them with half of their skin tattooed and many of that bunch all revved up to 'roll heavy and gun up' against the folks who screwed them" -- but it is unlikely to be the country Obama has found so easy to inspire with his heartfelt but vague notions of folks getting along better.

Catching up from eight lost years

If we can make it through the next 379 days without getting into nuclear war, historians writing 100 years from now will begin their assessment of George W. Bush, not at all kindly, by identifying him as the United States president who caused the world to lose eight years in getting started with serious efforts to save the planet and the inhabitants thereof from the deadly consequences of global warming.

Some interesting comments by the Saudis and OPEC today.

Wasn't it just about a year ago that the Saudis said that they could not find buyers for all of their oil, "even their light, sweet oil?"

Is there enough oil to cover this increasing demand for energy, especially with the spread of the "peak oil" theory in western states, which doubt the reserve figures of OPEC countries? The problem with this new-old theory, which finds listeners whenever oil prices rise and spreads fear and anxiety among some analysts, is that its viewpoint cannot be defended in realistic terms. The proponents of this theory cast doubt and lies without any convincing material evidence.

And who is to blame if western theorists can't support their theory with facts? Well, perhaps Aramco should publish empirical facts and figures regarding their production. In the absence of such, what should we think?

Yergin: ...We created this thing that's called the IHS/CERA upstream capital cost index, and the newest one shows that costs continue to go up dramatically. Basically, since 2000, costs have doubled and most of that doubling has been in the past three years....

OMG, imagine, as the cost of Oil goes up, EVERY OTHER cost goes UP.

WHO the HECK would have predicted that? I guess not a million dollar prediction outfit like CERA. All thoses models, indexes and they didn't see it comming.

I guess we TOD people must have a crystal ball to for us to have seen it.

Some Yergin Oil Price Predictions:

11/04 (Forbes): $38 in 2005

6/07 (CNBC): $60 in 2008

1/08 (Barron's): $85 in 2008

As I have previously noted, the "Yergin Indicator" suggests that oil prices will trade at about twice Yergin's predicted index price within one to two years of his prediction.

Courtesy of Seismobob:

thanks for this chart Leanan, always interesting with this Yergin bloke!

In summarizing all the errors presented here by Yergin ( -6.16 $ -10 $ -35 $ -17 $ -40 $) ending at -108.16 $/barrel
=> The Yergin algorithms has over the span of ONLY 6 years, promissed You a FREE barrel today, pluss 8.16$ in your hand as a pickup-fee , sort of ... Where is your nearest pickup-depot, Isn't it next to the pepetual-machine factory?

Any TODers able to animate Yergin like this Kent Hovind vid?


I could probably manage the animation, but it's the song that really makes that vid.

While agree with you guys that Yergin made some foolish predictions, you guys should at least be fair and recognize that TOD patron saint JHK is an equally awful procrastinator:


FYI, the stock market is still at 3 kunstlers :P

On the other hand, Kunstler has admitted that he was wrong and has seemed to have learned his lesson.

Luckily for our future amusement, there is no indication that Yergin has learned his. I look forward to his upcoming forecasts!

Procrastinator? Er, did you mean prognosticator?

ha, indeed, this hangover is not treating me well today. No more cheap vodka for this guy!

Only drink the good stuff. Today on Zorba Paster's “On Your Health” show on NPR he affirmed that premium vodka has less chance of giving you a hangover because of less esters. I prefer Chopin vodka because I am slightly intolerant of gluten - it's made from potatoes.



Good stuff. 

Ooooooo! That looks mighty good. I'll have to find a place to order some online. I'm in the outback and it is unlikely I could fins some in a reasonable driving distance. Possibly the only thing I miss about Chicago apart from the food is that I can get anything (Sam's liquors would definitely have it).

Depends where you are, might not be inexpensive but these fellows can help you.


They are owned by AJ's and they always have it.



You can always tell the SO or write it off as ethanol research.  And maybe even score green points.

Well it seems Yergin is on a learning curve since his $85 statement. He never mentions future price, or makes derogatory statements about PO. He wants to be able to tell people in the future what he knew that he doesn’t now know.

Yergin is the chairman and a co-founder of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, arguably the world's leading energy consultancy.......

".......The other thing that it's telling us, that I think is important that gets overlooked, is how rapidly costs have gone up in oil-and-gas development. That's maybe the great overlooked factor here, because the public and politicians focus of course on the price, but what the industry deals with is the reality of these costs that have gone up so dramatically. In a way, $100 oil tells a pretty dramatic story of how much things have changed in just three or four years."

Isn't part of the definition of "Peak Oil" the recognition that it will cost more and more to get the same amount of energy? It appears that the chief rat is now departing the ship

I'm with the Mogambo Guru -- "We're freakin' doomed"

Isn't part of the definition of "Peak Oil" the recognition that it will cost more and more to get the same amount of energy?

Yes, that was my thought.

I really wonder if Yergin believes half the things he says. Has he not thought it out, or is he just saying what his clients want to hear?

Either that or he has finally started reading TOD.

Seriously though, confidence and historic reputation take a long time to decay, as evidenced by the past 7 years...

The thing that gets me about the Yerginite Community is their certainty--and I realize that this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black, but I have frequently pointed out that if you implement ELP, and try to live on half of your income, with a minimal commute, or walk and/or take mass transit and invest in productive enterprises (or work toward becoming a producer of essential goods and services) and if I am wrong about Peak Exports in 2005, what is the downside? You have little or no debt with a healthier lifestyle?

So, if you are a member of the Yerginite Community, and you maintained your long distance SUV commute to and from your suburban McMortgage, and the Yeginites continue to be wrong, what is the downside?

This is what gets me. The Yerginites by and large don't even offer any suggestions that people might want to downsize--if the Yerginites turn out to be wrong about no real production decline before about 2050 or so.

I'm afraid that somewhere along the line between implementing your ELP and living a healthier life with no debt would be the collapse of the worlwide economy, war, societal collapse, then a re-ordering of society-- THEN the living healthier debt free bit!! (if you are still alive)!


Exactly. downsizing is great for the individual. For American society, it will be guaranteed collapse.

The savings rate in China is about 42%.

the chinese are better capitalists than 'merkuns

or better economists? there is an age old four letter word for this:开源节流
开: open (up), discover
源: source, resource
节: limit, reduce
流: (out) flow, expenditure

They've been at it for longer than we have.

According to economists, the Great Depression was caused by "excess saving."

See, if our grandparents had been total whores and just kept spending like crazy while their wages were cut, everything would have turned out okay. For the last 80 years, economists have worked hand-in-hand with Madison Avenue, Wall Street and Washington DC to produce a new American, one who would not respond to the exposure of massive financial fraud by panic saving.

And now we are the product. The whore with no gag reflex. Now it's time to maintain our confidence so as to fool Chinese banks into buying our bad debts and rip off their ordinary citizens. Hey handsome, me give high-return boom boom all night long!

Foolish workers.

Downsizing is Un-American and i've been told that more than once in just so many words.

I don't buy that guarantee..

It may be a guaranteed 'Revolution', but this revolution's form is impossible to predict.. of course, I don't think that form will be homogenous, either. Might look very different in different regions/cultures/climates..

So, therefore, we continue on with business as usual until we collapse anyway due to oil depletion, resource depletion, and the effects of global warming. We cannot continue as we are and we cannot stop. A nobel prize to anyone who can figure how to get us out of this conundrum.

American society will collapse one way or other; therefore, it would be prudent to figure out a way to make this transition in a way that would minimize pain, suffering, starvation, disease, and so forth.

The politicians promise us what they think is a third way. We use investment in alternative energy and efficiency as a way to invest our way into the future with lots of jobs in cleantech without any sacrifice whatsoever. Well,it is a questionable approach but it seems to be the only thing on the horizon that has a chance in hell of being implemented. Think of it as an experiment. But where will they get the money to put where their mouth is. Start by getting the hell out of Iraq and cutting our military expenditures in at least half.

As individuals who are bound and determined to continue to consume regardless, we can start by investing in our money in both capital and consumer goods which either contrubute to a more efficient use of resources or minimize their impact on the environment.

Since the vast majority of our economists can only relate to a world where all problems are solved by growth, we have a dearth of information as to how we can carry on a happy and productive life without trashing the environment on which we depend. We ignore the possibility that the pie may be shrinking despite our efforts to continue indefinite growth. The music will stop. The challenge will be to have a just and bearable society when that occurs. We will have to stop by sharing, a concept that in America will be derided as rank socialism.

Sharing in a growing population with limited resources means less per person each year. How far does the sharing then go?

I make exactly this point with others who side with forever growth approach. They see ANY limitation on growth, particularly a choice to not participate in the growth of consumerism, for which the growth and consumerism reign supreme as a "threat."

I recently pointed out to one advocate of "unlimited fossil fuels" who wishes to claim that we don't know how much fossil fuel is available that even if that is true, we can put some limit on "unlimited fossil fuels" for the planet Earth. If the solid part of the planet was nothing but fossil fuels, we know that it could be no more than a slightly oblate speroid of approximately 7900 miles in diameter. We know the mass (Newton, Einstein) but would have to ignore a number of issues associated with gravitational effects. Yet, no one actually thinks the the planet is nothing but fossil fuels.

But this aside, knowing how much mass must be fossil fuels, with unrestrained growth (no peak resource constraints which they also don't believe in the manner of Julian Simon) you consume the entire amss of the Earth in less than 800 years (at 2.6% growth). For this I am seen, by this group of people, as a "doom and gloomer." Yet these are mathematical consequences and being informed, these people are making the "informed choice" to run headlong into destruction.

So, what is the downside? They won't make more money because of mindless growth and consumerism. To them, that is a very serious downside because without that their skill sets would put them back into the fields as farm laborers.

The challenge remains that the MSM embraces CERA and the "Yerginites" with such vigor. Ed Wallace, on a major Dallas radio station yesterday, was quoting the revised CERA study that all's well that will end well and we don't have to worry about PO until at least 2035! This guy is a well thought of "Car" guy in the Dallas area and is frequently quoted in the Dallas press. I am sure I heard a big sigh of relief echoing from North Dallas and Plano area as he reassured everyone to keep on motoring and that life as "they" know it will never end. John

Otherwise known as "Cornucopian Radio."

Note that we have all three ingredients of the Iron Triangle:

(1) Yergin says no real oil production decline until about 2050;

(2) Ed Wallace reports it;

(3) His program is pretty much 100% supported by auto related advertisers.

I don't think that it is a conspiracy per se, but I think that the various parties acting in what they perceive to their best interests continue to convey the message that high energy (and therefore high food) prices are temporary and that, in effect, it is a good idea to continue driving your SUV to and from your suburban mortgage. But of course Ed is just telling probably 95% of the listeners what they want to hear anyway, and what they hope is true. Note that Ed believes that we should vastly expand our road network.

As I said yesterday, if the Yerginites won't listen to the warnings, at some point perhaps we should just view this as an opportunity to dump energy intensive assets like SUV's and suburban McMansions into the hands of the willing buyers in the Yerginite community.

WT writes: "So, if you are a member of the Yerginite Community, and you maintained your long distance SUV commute to and from your suburban McMortgage, and the Yeginites continue to be wrong, what is the downside?"

Westexas: This is an observation and it borders on being content free. You appear to be risk aversive and speak to a risk aversive community. Yergin on the other hand appears to be risk accepting and speaks to a risk accepting community. Or at least speaks to a community with more experience in gaging and coping with risk than the readers of TOD.

So the key appears to be how well can one gage and cope with risk. That's not me by the way. I'm risk aversive too.

But I can see how large differences in estimating risk could evolve from differences in the learned skills of coping with risk. And I can see how Yerginites and their community could gage risk wrong and still have the ability to make money.

Amm: Classic. Danny's idiotic statements repeated ad nauseum make him more of a "real man". No wonder Chimpy was elected twice.

Ammond, take it from someone who does nothing but assess risk all day everyday, and who has done it very successfully for decades now. Yergin's game has nothing whatsoever to do with embracing risk or any kind of professional risk assessment. He's either an idiot working for idiots, or he's putting on a deliberate con for the benefit of those who pay him.

is he just saying what his clients want to hear

Unlike SO many of the things mentioned here - this is a testable theory.

All one need is money to pay Yergin, place him where he can pick up on 'peak oil belief' clues, then see what he pitches.

He has the money

We have the clues

Who is going to put them together?

This theory is falsifiable only in principle, at least under the present regime.

NeverLNG said:

I'm with the Mogambo Guru -- "We're freakin' doomed"

I'm also a regular reader. As a gold bug, I particularly enjoyed this quote by the Mogambu Guru:

Now, for those who ponder the timeless riddle of why all of the people in history always rushed to gold in economic turmoil, and who turn in desperation to the Loudmouth Mogambo Know-It-All (LMKIA) to ask me why they do it, I tell you: "I don't know. They just do. Go away!"

I really enjoy TMG -- probably for the same reason I enjoy Kunstler. There is an almost erotic, forbidden, masochistic pleasure in watching the upwelling and swirling of the miasma of schadenfreude. It is so hard to stop oneself from saying "I told you so...."

But what I don't quite get is the part about gold. What, exactly is it good for except dental fillings and electronic contacts? You can't eat the stuff, and whole civilizations have come and gone without any knowledge of, or at least any use of gold. What makes someone a gold bug, and why do we seem to believe that wealth is calculable in terms of gold?

I have applied for membership to the Junior Mugambo Rangers (JMRs) and may soon be accepted. If accepted I will receive a JMR secret decoder ring, an ID Pass allowing me access to the Mugambo Atomic Bomb Proof Bunker (MABPB) and a booklet that explains why when tshtf that people rush to buy gold. I will update the status of my application as I receive further info... :)

Good question, Never - and one I subconsciously asked myself many times - until I bought some.

Just try getting about 10 1-oz pure gold coins in your hand, and then chink them around and listen to the sound, simultaneously watching the rich yellow colour glint enticingly in your hand. Now look in the mirror, you will notice that you have a stupid grin plastered right across your face. You'll also feel like Auric Goldfinger himself - like you'd sell your mother for more of the stuff.

There is something viscerally wonderful about gold - it just IS intoxicatingly, insanely wonderful. I can't give you a better explanation, but I don't think it's about to lose its appeal.

Regards Chris

What, exactly is it good for except dental fillings and electronic contacts?

Gold has always been valuable to every culture that had access to it. The Inca made jewelry and ornaments of gold and valued it highly though they had no contact with other cultures that valued gold. For this reason gold could, and can in the future, be used as a medium of exchange or money. Gold has value because it is has great malleability and never rusts or tarnishes. It can be made into jewelry or even golden religious icons.

Being able to have a medium of exchange greatly enhances the trading ability of any culture. Gold has always been used as a medium of exchange and it likely always will be. Therefore it will always be cherished and hold great value to those who possess it.

Ron Patterson

But that is something that is largely unique to humans. To a tree or a cat gold would be of no interest whatsoever. A magpie on the other hand would take a piece of gold, just because it is shiny, but there aren't many species that would do this.

Even though gold never rusts, it is far too soft to be of any use as a tool - for that bronze and iron worked much better. And even neolithic cultures had interest in gold (apparently as jewelry of some sort). Some cultures used gold to make religious icons of one sort or another, which implies that trade wasn't the primary motive for collecting the stuff..

There must be something deep in the human mind that draws us to shiny objects...

I think silver should be worth more than gold. Its reflective, an exceleent conductor of heat and electricity and has anti bacterial properties, its a useful catalyst and can be used in batteries. Pretty useful stuff to have around, keeps the warewolvess from the door too.

I think silver (ideally) should be too... but there is more of it around, and scarcity is important in a medium of exchange. Perhaps uselessness is a benefit of gold - no-one wants to use it for anything but money/jewellery (and now as a conductor), so money was never competing with other industries for the use of the metal?

The pre-1492 American civilizations valued it, for jewelry and as a store of wealth, the hunter-gatherers called it "yellow sand" lol.

But what I don't quite get is the part about gold. What, exactly is it good

Gold has a history of being a money. Some prefer to not bet against history.

all of the above are true, so far as they go.

But the Native Americans in the Sierra Nevada foothills could not have been ignorant of gold -- it was all over in their creeks. I believe they were part of a rather wide-ranging trading system, and they certainly had a material culture that included the concept of "wealth." But until the '49ers, the gold just lay there for millenia.

Indo-Europeans have always favored gold, and some of the North and Central American tribes were apparently intoxicated by it. But I'm not entirely sure that addiction to gold is universal in the human psyche.

Nah, it's not. I'm open to looking around (prospecting) for some gold around here, I actually have had a fair amount of luck at such things over my life when I put my mind to them. But not until the weather warms up Brrrrr!

Re Gold:

Take a look at the graph of gold prices way back to 1450 . Mid way down this article:


Name something else that is portable, non-degradable, divisible, easily recognized and verifiable, and scarce.

Gold is pretty, but that is not its most important attribute.

Gold is Money a feller named Morgan told me that. You need oil to mine gold too...

I wonder if these South American natives drink petroleum. The free market at work! Make these useless lazy village dwellers work for the good of capitalism! Christopher Columbus knew the value of good work ethic. So what if it killed you - the economy grew.


All that's true from a purely rational perspective. However, gold has been regarded as precious for pretty much the entirety of the 6 or 8 thousand years of recorded history. I'll put the history of gold as a store of value up against paper money any day.

What, exactly is it good for except dental fillings and electronic contacts?

It can't be faked, synthesized, or created by a government. It creates the ability to pass wealth down through the ages. It, along with silver, will be the only way to store potable wealth through the coming disaster. If you don't have precious metals, the only thing of value you will have in a few years is what is between your ears. Everything else will either become worthless, or be in danger of being appropriated by increasingly authoritarian governments.

Try stuffing 20 acres of land up your ass to prevent confiscation.

You've never been searched.

Actually, I think potable wealth will be ethanol.

Sorry, sorry.

But what I don't quite get is the part about gold. What, exactly is it good for except dental fillings and electronic contacts? You can't eat the stuff, and whole civilizations have come and gone without any knowledge of, or at least any use of gold. What makes someone a gold bug, and why do we seem to believe that wealth is calculable in terms of gold?

I agree. Gold's value is almost entirely subjective. I buy gold primarily because other people value it, the same reason I might buy a given equity on the stock market. It is a symbol of wealth. The notion that it has 'intrinsic' value is IMO nonsense. The fact that gold has a long history of high subjective value merely means the odds of it retaining this subjective value are very good, unlike the odds of paper money retaining its value.

Yeah, clinking a handful of gold coins around is neat, but just the feel of gold coins is hardly a reason to pay ~$800/oz for the stuff.

The notion that it has 'intrinsic' value is IMO nonsense.

Your statement is what is nonsense. Gold is very valuable as a medium of exchange. That is it has value as utility, the state or quality of being useful. This gives it intristic value.

Ron Patterson

Definitions of "intrinsic":
* belonging to a thing by its very nature; "form was treated as something intrinsic, as the very essence of the thing"- John Dewey

* situated within or belonging solely to the organ or body part on which it acts; "intrinsic muscles"

* 1 : originating or due to causes or factors within a body, organ, or part <~ asthma> 2 : originating and included wholly within an organ or part <~ muscles> --compare EXTRINSIC 2

Definitions of "extrinsic":
* External or a cause coming from outside.

* From without.

* Not forming an essential part of a thing or arising or originating from the outside

People have intrinsic needs for food and water. Food and water have intrinsic value.

Gold's value is significant to some large human societies, but its value is extrinsic. It has value because we decided it has value. No decisions are necessary as to whether or not humans need water.

From Dictionary.com

in·trin·sic /ɪnˈtrɪnsɪk, -zɪk/ [in-trin-sik, -zik] –adjective 1. belonging to a thing by its very nature: the intrinsic value of a gold ring.

Nuff said!

Ron Patterson

but it is intrinsic only because people have made it intrinsic. It is not intrinsic based on its very nature.

An ancient or later silver coin for example has / had an intrinsic value besides its nominal value (i.e. its official value as exchange and tax!payment vehical). So by the way of producing these coins in the mint, weighed to e.g. a pound and not per piece a certain fluctuation in the weight could occur and knowledgable people skimmed out the coins that weighed more as the weight standard suggested, they melted them down and thus released the intrinsic value (i.e. current free (regardless of free or illegal) market value of silver) of the coin in form of pure silver. Of course this was strictly forbidden (which shows us that it happened). Reducing the fineness of the coins the authorities could manipulate the money, but in due time even the simpletons realised that the intrinsic value was reduced (to produce more money) and prices adjusted.

There were periods of stability but in the end it always ended in authorities changing the value of money by reducing the intrinsic value to produce more money and I don't even have to start with paper money...

Value is always relative first to the needs than to the desires, I doubt that there is a value by its very nature.

but it is intrinsic only because people have made it intrinsic. It is not intrinsic based on its very nature.

If we follow that definition then nothing would be intrinsic. Even a coat is made intrinsic by its user. But a coat has utility, therefore it has intrinsic value. Likewise gold has a utility as a medium of exchange, therefore it has intrinsic value.

And if you include modern day use then gold has great utility in electronics. It has the least surface resistance of any metal known to man. Therefore it is invaluable in relay contacts where it is critical that no surface resistance be present. Now that is intrinsic value!

Ron Patterson

It has the least surface resistance of any metal known to man.

Nope. Silver is better. Not a 'metal' - superconductors are better still.

But silver suffers from oxidation. So one has to have funky packaging for silver contacts.

The Resistivity of Silver is 1.59 × 10-8 Ωm (0.0000000159 Ωm).
At 20 °C, the resistivity of gold is approximately 2.44 × 10-8 ohm-m

Cherry picked dictionary definitions notwithstanding, I consider 'intrinsic' value to be objective, 'extrinsic' value is in the eye of the beholder, that is, subjective.

Commodities such as crude oil are transformable into food, clothing and shelter. Gold is not, practically speaking. Metals such as silver have more intrinsic value given the many industrial uses to which it can be put in the process of creating food, clothing, shelter.

Cherry picked dictionary definitions notwithstanding...

How on earth can you "cherry pick" from th dictionary. The (1.) before the definition means that is the main or primary definition. On the other hand your definition was the number 2 definition. So if anyone done any cherry picking it was you. But I maintain that if one gets a definition from the dictionary, then it is impossible to "cherry pick." And surely you know there are more than one definition to almost any word.

If you use it like explained in the dictionary then you are using it correctly. I was and I did.

I consider 'intrinsic' value to be objective, 'extrinsic' value is in the eye of the beholder, that is, subjective.

Too bad you did not write the dictionary. If you did then you could change the meaning to the meaning that you consider correct.

Ron Patterson

One can quibble all day about the meaning and context of 'instrinsic.' And one can arguably say that gold has some relative intrinsic value in industrial uses and medical uses. But the conversation has been about using gold as money. If the government declared gold the official specie, then gold would be fiat just like paper money. One would accept a gold coin, not because of its 'intrinsic' value but because they would have a reasonable expectation of being able to exchange the coin for other goods and services.

The insistence that gold has 'intrinsic' value is largely circular. Why does gold have intrinsic value? Well, because people think it has intrinsic value. Why do people think it has intrinsic value? Because other people think it has intrinsic value. etc. etc

If gold was declared money and a given amount of gold was traded for a commodity of obvious intrinsic value, say a bushel of wheat, this would be just the same as a transaction with paper money. If the wheat became more scarce relative to demand, more gold coins would be required, just as more paper dollars are required. Does this mean the intrinsic value of gold has just gone down? It just means that gold as a medium of exchange acts just like other media of exchange.

One can segue into all kinds of arcane arguments popular with gold bugs, but I'm not going there. I'd rather discuss something more worthwhile.

Besides, if gold has intrinsic value because it is accepted as a medium of exchange, then so do paper dollars, which are also accepted virtually worldwide as a medium of exchange. Thus totally perverting the meaning of the word 'intrinsic.'

ET, were you under the impression that the twenty dollar bill in your wallet han no intrinsic value? If so then just give it to me and I will turn it into something with intrinsic value.

In truth the paper money in your wallet does have intrinsic value. The difference in your paper money and gold is only of degrees. That is your paper money has a much better chance of being inlfated and may become virtually worthless in the future. Not so gold.

Just a side note. The word "intrinsic" is widely used in options trading. An option is said to have intrinsic value when it is "in the money." An option "out of the money" has no intrinsic value.

Ron Patterson

I'd prospect for, and value, gold because everyone else thinks it's worth something. That's good enough for me! That's the same reason I went out and found where to find kehelelani shells and would pick, clean, drill, and string a strand a day. Personally there are micro-shells I think are prettier, but those were in demand.

Just a side note. The word "intrinsic" is widely used in options trading. An option is said to have intrinsic value when it is "in the money." An option "out of the money" has no intrinsic value.

Ahh, this give me a clue as to your interpretation of the word. I don't object to people using words/concepts in different ways as long as a common ground can be reached with some discourse on a common vocabulary. My main beef with gold bugs is the insistence that gold makes an ideal medium of exchange because of intrinsic value. I could currently take a bank account full of electronic dollars around the world and buy almost anything almost anywhere. To say that my electronic dollars (or paper dollars) have 'intrinsic' value simply does not fit my own idea of the word or concept (nor do I think gold's intrinsic value fits a dictionary definition regardless of the example that dictionary.com uses in a sentence.)

You can google "intrinsic value gold" and get lots of hits both on the pro and the con side of the question. I just happen to fall on the con side for which there are plenty of good arguments. 'Nuff said.

Gold is very valuable as a medium of exchange.

Random historical notes:

The availability of gold was a good match for monetary needs. It was common enough to be widely used, but not common enough to make inflation a frequent problem. It's not completely proof against inflation. New World gold caused serious inflation in Spain and to a lesser degree all across Europe. The US experienced significant inflation from 1849-1860 or so due to large gold discoveries in California and Australia. Deflation is a more common problem, when the supply of new gold does not match growth in production of goods and services.

Gold is convenient for the purpose with only a low level of technology. Non-destructive tests for approximate purity are fairly easy. Durable yet malleable so something like coins can be made easily. Still, there's been a constant technology fight against counterfeiters and other ways to cheat. Eg, milled edges (US dimes and quarters) and raised rims (US pennies and nickels) are not just decorative; originally these were features to prevent shaving the edges of coins.

I wish I could find a link to this rather - strange - feature of gold, since it's going to sound sorta airheaded and loopy: As a grad student at Stanford (ca. 1980), I heard a talk in the Chem Dept. by a visiting heavyweight about his computational analysis of metallic structures in electromagnetic fields. It's all highly dependent on geometry, so he chose as a model system a random collection of spheres that were suspended with about one diameter of free space between them over a substrate of the same material. The near-optical impedance characteristics of some metals are such that when the incident EM wavelength is on the order of a sphere diameter, the spaces between the spheres can see changes to the magnitude of the electric field of a million-fold. What struck me about the results were the metals that fell into the two distinct categories: Gold, silver, and copper amplified the interstitial electric field, while lead, iron, and InSb attenuated it, and the changes could be huge. Once again, this applies to the high-frequency EM impedance characteristics of certain metals, which may or may not influence the bioelectric fields of nearby people. But it makes me wonder, what with all the gold-hilted, leaded-iron swords that have been crafted and treasured over the centuries.

true. look at the microwave connectors where a slight degradation in SNR is of great concern - all are coated with thick gold. from wirebond to transmission lines, the material of choice for most sensitive microwave applications is gold - not for their appearance but for their low loss and better control in impedance matching.

Oh yeah in microwave stuff, when in doubt, just make everything out of gold or thickly plated in gold. HP 8400 series power sensors are a good example, if you dig up the paper on how to refurbish them, all the critical stuff, wires, etc are gold.

normal plated gold are often too thin and hard for high end microwave applications. sputtering or special plating techniques are needed for the thick and soft gold.

Gold (or silver) plating is useful for any sort of high frequency work. At high frequencies electric current is almost exclusively restricted to the surface of the conductor. Plating is used just because it is cheaper than solid gold or silver wires. Silver has the highest conductivity of any metal followed by copper. Gold is not far behind but has the added virtue of being nearly inert. During the life of a device gold surfaces will not corrode whereas silver or copper surfaces might corrode leading to a greatly reduced ability to conduct current at the surface where it is most needed.

For a historical perspective on the origins of this question in the west you could do far worse than Leslie Kurke's, Coins, Bodies, Games, and Gold.

Because gold is money. Paper dollars don't have any use either, except for their use as money. Gold is the same, except better of course.

In fact, it is a requisite of money that it be useless. This may seem counterintuitive, but if you used oil as money, and then you burned all your oil for heat, then you wouldn't have any money. That's one reason why oil is not useful as money.

Gold has several important properties: warm color, very ductile and malleable, and very inert. These have resulted in its use for personal adornment for a very long time. Why is this important?

Human males are still very motivated by competition and desire to dominate other males. This is because those males who most sucessfully competed for desireable women down through history had the most offspring. Human males are still like Bowerbirds: they make an attractive nest for a desireable female (McMansion), clear the area around it (close-cropped lawn), and decorate it with shiny trinkets (SUV, jetskies, etc). Nothing denotes one's superior social status like a nice gold crown, chain of office, and signet ring. Gold also makes a nice gift for that desireable female: it looks great against her brown skin, won't turn her skin green when she perspires, and makes all the other women jealous.

My point is: humans like gold not just because it makes a nice medium of exchange, but also works well to demonstrate social status (ask any bride in India!).

Errol in Miami

From Wikipedia...BTW, touch stones are still in common use among jewelers in the East...But, when I mentioned touch stone to a long time jeweler in town I got a blank look.


Use of the touchstone revolutionized the concept of money. Use of the touchstone in Ancient Greece and Anatolia dates to circa 500 BC. The fourth century philosopher Theophrastus in the tract de lapidibus (On Stones) described the testing of gold by fire or by the touchstone.

Prior to its introduction gold and silver were common currencies, but these could easily be alloyed with a less expensive metal (tin and lead were common). These were less valuable, but it was difficult to test for. The invention of touchstone made it possible to test for such forgeries quickly and efficiently, and also to determine the relative value of different alloys. That paved the road for gold and silver to become standard equivalents of value, and eventually to government-issued currency which began as coins of pre-probed alloys and weights guaranteed by the mint

There is an almost erotic, forbidden, masochistic pleasure in watching the upwelling and swirling of the miasma of schadenfreude.

Wonderful phrasing, and I'd have to agree. Heh.

The ELM argument is being made in this article, but the author is not completely clear. I'm not sure if he, or Yergin, is pointing out the problem with increasing consumption in exporting countries:

Newsweek: Why We Can’t Stop $100 Oil
Daniel Gross

But demand is booming elsewhere, especially in the Middle East. The nations that have grown rich on petrodollars aren't just spending money on champagne and lavish hotels on the French Riviera. They're plowing cash into diversifying economies, building things that use lots of energy—condominium towers in Dubai, an indoor ski resort in Bahrain and petrochemical plants in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. In the past, OPEC could calm oil markets by increasing supply.

But OPEC members are now eating a lot more of what they grow. Between 1997 and 2007, notes Yergin, six Mideast OPEC members—Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—boosted production by 2.5 million barrels per day. But they increased consumption by 1.9 million barrels per day. In effect, three quarters of the production increase stayed in the region.

Just stumbled across this priceless quote:

“The greatest thing to come out of (the Iraq war) for the world economy, if you could put it that way, would be $20 a barrel for oil. That’s bigger than any tax cut in the any country.”
–Rupert Murdoch, February 2003

And Murdoch really believed what he said, not only would Iraq be free and prosperous, but we'd all benefit massively from regime change in Iraq!

Now, Murdoch is a wizard at making deals and has created an unrivaled publishing empire, but that doesn't mean he knows jack much about politics or warfare. He's almost an idiot savant. Brilliant at one thing, yet close to a moron at everything else. Yet, through his media empire his views about the world are spread around the world like a form of plague, a virus that attacks the brain and makes people dumber than necessary. It's like Murdoch is peddling a narcotic - the dumbdown drug.

Rupert Murdoch would tell you the Moon was made of green cheese, if he thought you were stupid enough to believe it. He has made a lot of money never overestimating the intelligence of the general public.

I think it has come down to Yergin trying to dine out as long as possible on being Yergin. Perhaps he sees his time as the "energy guru" coming to a close and is trying to make the most of it as long as anyone is willing to buy him a plane ticket and a chicken dinner. He sounds simply like a politician in the Calgary interview with reassuring words softening the introduction of idea of difficulties ahead due to undefined problems. His discussion of costs makes it appear that somehow CERA has just made a break through discovering this while regular readers here, and even the MSM, have known this for many years. I wonder if he owns a wheel barrow.

I never heard of Yergin until I started lurking on TOD. Every time his name comes up I get a vision of Jon Lovitz's character Tommy Flannagan on Saturday night live; the pathelogical liar with the famous quote.... "yeah thats it" and spews out some complete nonsense.

Buying your way out of carbon debt

The carbon-offset market was non-existent just a few years ago, but it is big business now, with researchers estimating the activity in North America at more than $100-million last year. So, what are the buyers getting for all that offset money? At best, they are spurring investment in an enterprise that reduces greenhouse-gas emissions. And at worst, critics say, they are simply practising chequebook environmentalism, ­salving guilt by investing in a scheme whose benefits are negligible.

Some of the carbon-offset schemes are horrifying for their willful ignorance of the Law of Unintended Consequences. Planting trees in huge monoculture farms which annihilate the biodiversity with pesticides and herbicides, or inducing algal blooms in the oceans, it's all so patently stupid and destructive compared to the only logical solution: using less.

And thus does the modern age gain its equivalent of the Medival Times indulgences. Pay someone else to offset your carbon output, and you too can burn as much gasoline in that giant SUV as you want.

Bank of Canada leaves door open for more intervention

Year-end pressures in money markets have eased, the Bank of Canada said on Friday, but it left the door open to additional central bank operations to boost liquidity if needed.

Along with other central banks that made similar moves, the Bank of Canada announced on Dec. 12 it would inject more money into short-term credit markets, which were under strain from year-end demand for cash.

It entered into two $2-billion purchase and resale agreements, or term PRAs, with maturities on Jan. 4 and Jan. 10.

Given that these big Wall Street players now own some of our largest, taxpayer insured, depositor banks (courtesy of a legislative gift from Congress called the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act) and the Federal Reserve is shoveling tens of billions of our dollars into some very big black holes, common sense might suggest that Congress would be holding public hearings. These hearings might shed light on how Wall Street has, under the cloak of darkness, mutated from a trading venue to manufacturing and warehousing exotic concoctions registered offshore.

So far, Congress has shown only cursory interest in the details. The Bush administration is spinning the mess as a subprime mortgage problem lest the public figure out that a $1 Trillion unregulated market has blown up under the free market noses of this administration.

But Clemens and Pettite are going to be grilled by Congress over steroids. To be televised live, I'm sure.

Weren't we talking about MSM/Bread and Circus and TPTB yesterday?

But out in Tucson, everything's just fine:


Tucson- What are they thinking?
By twist

Hat tip to L for the latest from Tucson. It has me scratching my head and thinking, "ARE THEY OUT OF THEIR MIND?"

A huge swath of state trust land in southeast Tucson would become a master-planned community over the next 40 years under a development deal expected to be finalized between the state and a Phoenix developer next week.

The developer, Westcor, is expected to receive a permit from the state Land Department that will allow it to begin the planning process for 12,000 acres east and south of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Deputy State Land Commissioner Jamie Hogue said.

Tucson officials called the project one of the biggest in the city’s history that will create a "second city" with residential and commercial development and open space.

Water for this city will come from ...... ?

Maybe everyone will wear a stillsuit.

Water is Life!

Well if you have Melange, you hardly need water.

Although not discussed as much, I often get the feeling that Dune weighs as heavily on the minds of those here as Asimov's Foundation series.


Those who are familiar with Frank Herbert's famous novel Dune know that he took his analogy from the oil of the Middle East, and that the novel is symbolic about the dependance of the West on the oil, and the power struggles to control this valuable resource.

Water for this city will come from ...... ?

...the tooth fairy.

.. or a watered down immigration bill

Don't forget to add that foriegn state owned banks in Suadi Arabia and China are buying into this too by the billions. Is it to keep the party going, or gaining a piece of the US for control or both?

My guess is both.

To keep the currency in the current. (to keep the party going)

And here in rural New Mexico (Catron County) residents were alarmed to discover that an Italian businessman by the name of Bruno Modena had bought a ranch in the Plains of St. Augustine and applied for a permit to drill 34 wells, to a depth of 2000 ft, with 20-inch casings. This in order to pump out over 54,000 acre feet of water per year (thats a hell of a lot of water). In addition to watering a proposed development, he also proposes to build a pipeline to the Rio Grande River and deliver a portion of New Mexico's water allotment to Texas. This would have the effect of depopulating the town of Datil, NM. Most folks there have wells which are 100 feet deep, at most. People here are riled. One guy filed a report with the FBI saying it was a form of "terrorism".

Don't New Mexicans scatter the bones of those who engage in such behavior? Taking a lake 84' and a mile square out of the groundwater of that area is not an insignificant move - Wikipedia says y'all have 6,928 square miles of land ... and one square mile of surface water.

Yup, this is not insignificant. The thing is, this came out of nowhere. No one knew about it until the last minute (which is not unusual, since there is no newspaper and the only governing body is the County Commission...which itself is composed of a lot of ranchers looking to subdivide their land). An article in the Albuquerque Journal named some other names, lawyers with offices in New York and Santa Fe. It appears to be a big city water grab, as is happening in Ajo Valley, Arizona, parts of Nevada, and of course is similar to what happened in Los Angeles. We will see how it plays out. The State Water Engineer in Albuquerque is the deciding person...and we don't know if he's bought or not.

What does Richardson say?

He's out campaigning. Don't know if anyone has contacted his office yet or not.

Fortunately (and unfortunately), he'll be done soon.

He'll be a cabinet member in a Democratic administration in some capacity, Secretary of State maybe?

'This came out of nowhere'...Maybe this guy is pumping out the water to take it back to his home planet? Maybe he is one of the aliens that got away from Roswell when the space ship crashed and the aliens were whisked away to area 69? ...Or, was it 51? Anyway, this guy sounds like an alien and will probably be abducting people and probing their orafices. I wouldnt trust the guy and he shouldnt be allowed to steal the water and probe orafices...Why doesnt the county sheriff call in the FBI or one of our many other spook agencies?...And, I wouldnt trust those lawyers either...they are probably aliens...too. Who would believe a story like 'I am going to pump the water into the Rio Grande so the Texans can have some of my water?' Maybe this guy is some alien Robin Hood? Or maybe he has lots of alien friends like Bush with property in Texas. :) Wow, that was a great ride today with several pit stops. Bikers are not fond of aliens...or lawyers.

CNN is running a story this morning on a new trend: letting people work off their property taxes.

Property taxes have risen so much in some areas that even people who have paid off their mortgages (often seniors on fixed incomes) can't afford to pay them. So some towns are letting people do work for the town in exchange for a cut in their property taxes.

The first step toward Kunstler's work farms! ;-)

Perhaps the new feudalism in its embrionic stage. :-)

Maybe an example of taxation that is way too high. As more and more people can no longer support themselves on their salaries/pay cheques due to their debt burdon and higher energy costs, these governments are going to get swamped by people unable to pay taxes. Feudalism? Maybe closer to state santioned slavery.

I think it's more the result of the housing boom. It raised prices to insane levels, and seniors on fixed incomes just can't keep up. Property taxes are usually percentages, so if your $50,000 house is now worth $500,000, your tax bill is going to be a lot higher.

I think we're going to see a lot more of this, and yes, what you call "state-sanctioned slavery" will become more common. It will be seen as more politically acceptable than welfare.

We can look at it as state sanctioned Slavery, or we can look at it as community action. People working together to fix that public works task that needs doing. And taking their time off their taxes.

You don't help out to help maintain the services that we all use, You pay in $$$ to the local gov. instead.

Half empty or half full.

It could work out to be more like the amish help another build a barn, Each helping each other do the community things need doing. Fix that School, fix that bridge, etc.

Just a thought.

This only works when the people being punished feel that the playing field is level.

See Buffalo Cleveland Judges make JPMorgan accountable for property taxes.

That would be ideal, but who thinks, especially in canada that a municipality resembles an mennonite community? Feudalism was essentially an indentured form of slavery with the advantage to the lords that the serfs had to take care of their own needs as well as tithe to the lord. In slavery the master needs to take care of the minimum needs of the slaves extra costs and effort. Most municipalities are run by cliques who don't differ too much from the lord and sherif with only the pesky inconvenience of an election every so often. Legitimancy is derived from the "people" instead of "king and god" with the people having slightly more influence than god had but much less than the king. The fact that the infrastructure is now unsustainable (as exemplified by the impossible tax burden) may be the cause but the first structural responses will be those that maintain the power and position of those who already have it. Letting the surfs do work tithes instead of siezing their assests is one way to maintain this structure and not end up with a less valuable base of property with fewer people. The next step is the "extreem emergency" that cancels elections. If the economy crashes before the fall, perhaps we will see this happen in the USA. In Canada we have always maintained this semi-feudal structure relating the population to the municipality to the province to the national government and I believe we will all be surprised to find that the legal framework already exists allowing government by decree.
And no I am not talking about having the Queen as figurehead but the actual political legal structure. It might not even require a Musharif move on our supreme court, although a compliant Governor General will have to be in place. Perhaps it wasnt accidental that our present and previous GGs were MSM types.

It could work out to be more like the amish help another build a barn

Then the assessor will come by and raise your assessment. The big problem is the whole property tax scheme is that there is no incentive to improve your property because your property tax will go up. Moreover, your property values might rise out of no fault of your own, lets say the area gets more popular. Hide your improvements if you can. Keep the exterior in moderate shape. I’m going to go the assessors office in my county to inquire if putting up solar or a windmill will raise my assessment and by how much. It really hampers what I will do with my property. I’d like to put up another building for my winemaking and crop processing, but taxation might stop me from doing so. I might throw a modified mobile home on the land for this purpose and pay the $275.00 tax for that. Set up an self sustaining organic farm, which requires multiple specialized structures, and the county will bonk you over the head with taxes. Plant commercial row crops such as corn with a mobile home on the plot and your fine. Local government is a vampire.

Yep, I got reassesed for my greenhouse. Cost me $20K to put it up and they reassessed my property by $25K more than prior to the greenhouse. Going to challenge it as it's a temporary structure. Should I sell the home, the greenhouse goes with me, hence it cannot be part of the value of the home no more than the contents of my home is.

I did ask if I put in a ground source heat pump if my assessement would go up, They said no as it was just a replacement of a heating system and adds no value to the home! Go figure!

Unless you live in NYC that is not the way it works. Tax needs are determined by town budgets. If in your example assessed values rose from $50,000 to $500,000 a house and the average homeowner was taxed at $2,000 before the increase (4% tax rate), the tax rate would be reduced to 0.4% and the tax would remain the same. The exception to this is with Cities which can not balance their budgets. Re-assessments are then used as a windfall for taxes.

Not in Ontario. Your taxes are deturmined by the value of your home. When prices go up, after a few years the town reassesses all homes. My mother-in-law has lived in the same house for 40 years, and her taxes keep going up every year or so, now more than $4,000 per year, and she gets exactly the same services for it.

If they introduce a system of working in lieu of taxes, what is the rate of "pay"? Minimum wage? She's too old to be working now, so what would they do with her? Turf her on the street.

The problem is also very localized. I lived in central New Jersey for a while. My wife & I had bought a small (1400 sq ft) post-WWII cape cod for $120,000. Our property taxes came to around $6,000 per year.

There were two reasons they were so high. First, NJ funds almost everything local out of property taxes (which is highly regressive for retirees). Secondly, the school district apportioned property taxes based on the number of children in your political division. I lived in the borough, which had a generally younger and poorer population, with more children per capita. The borough was surrounded by wealthy McMansion subdivisions and fewer children per capita. So we essentially taxed the poor to subsidize the wealthy.

Now, one can argue that it is fairer to asses based on the number of children. However, this is voided by the fact that I, who have ZERO children were paying more in absolute dollars than families with 3 & 4 children living in houses worth 3x what mine was worth.

Now, I do believe that a stable society requires a degree of education of all children, and the burden of that education should be shared by everyone in society. So I don't mind paying school taxes, even though I have no children. But it really jacks me to see wealthy people with children paying less than poor people without children. And don't get me started on the retirement communities that pay no school taxes whatsoever.

Anyway, we moved out of NJ to PA, where we bought a house worth a little more than twice as much and pay substantially less in property taxes. But localities in PA can have other taxes, including a local income tax. So part of local taxes is paid by people who have an income (novel idea there).

I think any time a society tries to fund itself by taxing people who have little or no income, it is in trouble. I think this is going to reach catastrophic proportions when the baby boomers are all retired (in the unlikely even that society hasn't collapsed for other reasons by then). Most boomers have little or no savings, no pension, and no healthcare. There's no way they're going to be able to pay property taxes.

This is why I'm for the Flat Tax, proposed at 15% in the US. Because I spent many a year as a member of the working poor and paying 25% at least in taxes. Ask any of the "invisible people" such as the kid (or tired middle-aged person) who serves up your latte' or digs out all those nice Clarks loafers for you to try on, how much is the gross and the net on their paycheck and you'll see this hasn't changed. The little guys pay by far the most tax.

Meanwhile the further up the scale, the less tax people and corpo-people pay, at the top end they're paying 15% at most and usually nothing.

Oh, but that is not "progressive" according to socialists. They want a system of taxation where the more you make the more you pay proportionaly. Thus you get a pay raise that puts you into the next bracket and you end up taking less home!

The flaw with this argument is that there are so few people in the really high income levels (less than 1%) that such a system of taxation in geared only to punish wealth, as opposed to getting more revenue. The vast majority of tax revenue comes from the middle class.

Yea, flat tax with no deductions, no exceptions. So simple, the government could even cut it's tax bureacracy! With no deductions for retirement savings when you earn it would mean paying much reduced taxes on your retirement income.

Your thinking of european feudalism mk2 which arose from the chaos after the black death which upset mk1. in the mk1 system serfs would tend the land, in return they get to live on the land and keep a portion of the crops/livestock etc for themselves. the rest would go to the local lord/duke, but in return the duke had to provide protection this ranged from community protection to logistics of maintaining a town. due to writings etc we know that in the mk1 system the lords did care about the serfs because overtime there was very little socal movement up or down giving everyone the sense that they know their place in the system. after the black death rolled through serfs used the labor shortage to push them into a new class unknown at the time. the middle class which was better off then the serf's but not as well as the lords. this of course forced the lords to have to do stuff they were not accustomed to doing which led to resentment. this created mk2 in which the lords felt that they did not have to fulfill their portion of the old social arrangement.

by various hands writing slanted history feudalism mk1 was replaced with mk2 as the defacto def, i think one of the better outcomes for us is to fall back to the mk1 style compared to what can happen.

Careful, Granny!! -- you'll break a hip if you fall out of that tree!

Recently my wife and I were discussing that iconic New England institution of the 19th century, the Poor Farm. They have disappeared since Social Security and the New Deal, but you will find in many towns "Poor Farm Road" and oldsters and historians in most towns can give you a more detailed history.

It was the town-level social safety net that gave any able-bodied person a couple of meals a day in exchange for farm work - plowing, fixing things, harvesting, cutting wood, ... Most of these had no family nearby (who might have felt obligated to take them in, otherwise) and when they died they were planted right there on the Farm - there would be a little cemetery on the property. I know very little about these farms but they seem to be almost lost in our history and sometimes make compelling sites for suburban archeologists - even though our own grandparents probably know a lot about them.

Relevance to this discussion - model of a local social safety net that might come to a neighborhood near you, sooner than most people think; alternative to corporate-owned feudal farms and serfs arrangement.

- Dick Lawrence

We did it this way.


A modern Poor Farm will be run for profit, by Halliburton or some other corporation, and if you don't have family or anyone to ask questions, you may end up harvested for organs in the prime of life.

This is just not hard to imagine happening in the US at all.

Continuation of a question yesterday on whether manufacturing in the US includes "burger flippers." Re: River, et al

The US Federal Corporate income tax has a deduction termed "Domestic Production Activities Deduction" computed on form 8903. It is based upon "Domestic production gross receipts. (DGPR)" EXCLUDED from the definition of DGPR is "The sale of food and beverages you prepare at a retail establishment." This was essentially a manufacturing and assembly deduction that replaced the US foreign sales corportion tax incentives that the international community ruled were an illegal subsidy by the US with respect to foreign trade. Thus, at least for Federal Income Tax purposes, burger flipping is not a "production" activity, such word having replaced manufacturing in some circles.

I am not a member of the Institute of Supply Management that publishes the monthly ISM Manufacturing Index, but I have e-mailed them along with the BLS. With resepect to the BLS, I am confident that "burger flippers" are not included since 5 years ago, a Bush appointee proposed including them (2.8 million people) and was ridiculed by virtually every paper in the country and the idea was promptly dropped.

According to the data listed at the BLS web site http://www.bls.gov/search/soc.asp there is no manufacturing classification.

If you care to read through the data there you will find only 'production' listings.

Among the 'production' listings you will find 'shoe repairmen', 'production helpers' (their job description lists sweeping floors...so, they are janitors or at best maintenance men)'laundry workers', 'dry cleaning workers' and more...

Point is, even if burger flippers are not included under 'production', many workers that should be classified in 'service' are now classified in 'production.'

Question...why was the classification 'manufacturing' dropped in favor of 'production'? At the time of the change did many workers become reclassified from 'service' to 'production'? I strongly suspect that this was the case...If the current admin was pushing for burger flippers to be reclassified then they probably figured out another way to increase the numbers of 'production' workers. Remember, this is the same admin that didnt squawk when the Fed dropped publication of M3 stats...On the grounds that it would save the taxpayers money!

You will find "burger flippers" under the Leisure and Hospitality classification.

As far as I can recall "production workers" under Manufacturing has been the way presented for as long as I recall. See : ftp://ftp.bls.gov/pub/news.release/History/empsit.020494.news

This is the earliest (January 1994) listed on the website. You need to go back to Federal Repositories where the data is on microfilm to see if the change you suggest actually occurred somewhere in the 'recent' past (but before records were available on the 'Internets.'

Looks pretty much the same 14 years later.

ST, it would be interesting to know how the stats we hear on 'manufacturing', 'non-farm labor', etc, are compiled since there is no classification for 'manufacturing' at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. I always assumed that the BLS had catagories that would match the stats but that doesnt seem to be the case...

Another odd practice at the BLS is the way they calculate new jobs with their birth-death model. Below is a link explaining how the model is supposed to work. Seems like a WAG to me.


...snip...'The establishment survey numbers appear to report that 1,328,000 jobs were created, with 1,054,000 of them in the private sector. I think those numbers will end up being revised to substantially smaller numbers before it is all over.
One reason is the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s birth-death model, about which I have written before. That model can overstate new jobs when the economy turns down (and understate them when it turns up), and I think that is what happened this year.
The model added 1,130,000 privtate-sector jobs to the survey in 2007. In other words, the raw surveys found fewer people working in the private sector in December than in December 2006, but the statisticians added more than a million jobs to account for jobs started in new companies that were not surveyed. Some of those jobs are probably real, but not all of them'...snip...

Here is a single paragraph from the BLS explanation of how the birth-death model works and a link to the entire explanation. (good luck understanding this) But, at the bottom of the description is a disclaimer that states the birth-death model will not work at economic turning points...Like, they expect few turning points in the economy??? Only a nerd could think up such a stupid model...Or, one who want to obscure the real employment numbers.


...snip...'The second component is an ARIMA time series model designed to estimate the residual net birth/death employment not accounted for by the imputation. The historical time series used to create and test the ARIMA model was derived from the UI universe micro level database, and reflects the actual residual net of births and deaths over the past five years. The ARIMA model component is updated and reviewed on a quarterly basis'...snip...

Here's an interesting development:


Harvesting the sun's energy with antennas

The new approach, which garnered two 2007 Nano50 awards, uses a special manufacturing process to stamp tiny square spirals of conducting metal onto a sheet of plastic. Each interlocking spiral "nanoantenna" is as wide as 1/25 the diameter of a human hair.

Because of their size, the nanoantennas absorb energy in the infrared part of the spectrum, just outside the range of what is visible to the eye. The sun radiates a lot of infrared energy, some of which is soaked up by the earth and later released as radiation for hours after sunset. Nanoantennas can take in energy from both sunlight and the earth's heat, with higher efficiency than conventional solar cells.


The team estimates individual nanoantennas can absorb close to 80 percent of the available energy. The circuits themselves can be made of a number of different conducting metals, and the nanoantennas can be printed on thin, flexible materials like polyethylene, a plastic that's commonly used in bags and plastic wrap. In fact, the team first printed antennas on plastic bags used to deliver the Wall Street Journal, because they had just the right thickness.


"At this point, these antennas are good at capturing energy, but they're not very good at converting it," says INL engineer Dale Kotter, "but we have very promising exploratory research under way." Kotter and Novack are also exploring ways to transform the high-frequency alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC) that can be stored in batteries. One potential candidate is high-speed rectifiers, special diodes that would sit at the center of each spiral antenna and convert the electricity from AC to DC. The team has a patent pending on a variety of potential energy conversion methods. They anticipate they are only a few years away from creating the next generation of solar energy collectors.

I have learned long ago not to get overly excited by developments such as this - you never know what types of roadblocks they will encounter down the road, and until they come up with a rectifier that works we don't even know what types of efficiency are possible. Nonetheless, I must admit that this is a very novel approach.

ericy -

The does appear to be an extremely interesting development, as it represents an entirely different concept from that on which conventional PV technology is based. If it can be made to work, it would appear to solve the problem of having to use scarce exotic materials in PV collectors. It looks like it could eventually be produced relatively inexpensively, too.

While clearly there are many obstacles to overcome, only time will tell whether any of these are surmountable or represent a fatal flaw in the basic concept.

I'm usually pretty skeptical when it comes to enthusiastic claims over a new technology that is only in the early stages of R & D, but I think this one deserves some serious further developmental efforts and R & D funding to determine whether it has promise or is just a technological deadend.

Considerably more of the sun's output is in the visible wavelenghts than in the infrared. Some of the infrared won't make it through the H2O, CO2, and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. I would think the starting point for the amount of energy would be a fraction of the energy that hits a PV cell. However, on cloudy days it might have more energy to work with than PV, and it might be able to squeeze a little out of the heat island effect even at night.

Efficiency will be the key. The article claims the antennae can absorb 80% of the energy hitting them. Well so can the asphalt in my driveway.

Commercial solar panels usually transform less that 20 percent of the usable energy that strikes them into electricity. [...] The team estimates individual nanoantennas can absorb close to 80 percent of the available energy.

Absorb ^= Convert.

Here's the money quote:

"At this point, these antennas are good at capturing energy, but they're not very good at converting it," says INL engineer Dale Kotter, "but we have very promising exploratory research under way."

Ah, the famous "promising exploratory research" escape clause! This is something worth keeping an eye on, but I'm keeping my expectations low.

Yes, there's a reason why we don't use laptops with THz circuitry. Imagine if we could make diodes that fast, cheap, and low in capacitance - We could harness thermal Brownian fluctuations, and the heck with the nanoantennas!
But an IR solar collector probably sounds like a pretty good idea to the residents of Portland, Seattle, or Vancouver.

Yep I was just thinking..... OK .... now you need a diode ...... a GOOD diode....

You can only capture things such as Brownian motion if the the absorber is colder than the emitter. If a Brownian motion absorber was at the same temperature as the surrounding fluid it would emit as much energy as it absorbed. If solar cells were operated at the temperature of the surface of the sun (without melting) they would stop operating as they'd emit as many photons as they absorbed.

and until they come up with a rectifier that works we don't even know what types of efficiency are possible

Thats likely to be a problem, Solid state recifiers (diodes) have a barrier voltage to overcome before current will pass. Its likely that these antenna cells have a very low voltage, that is either below or just slightly above the barrier voltage. If the device is below or at the barrier voltage, now current (energy) can be extracted.I think it will probably be very difficult to develop a diode with a very low barrier voltage to make this technology usable.

One of the issues is the faster the diode can switch, the higher the barrier voltage. A typical ultra fast diode has a barrier voltage above one volt (some as high as 4 volts). Slower diodes have much lower barrier voltage, but I suspect these won't work because the very slow switch speed. The only probable candidate is to integrate FETS (field Effect Transistors) and use synchronous rectification which does not have a barrier voltage, but there are some technical challenge with that method too.

I would also be wary of thermal cycle fracturing of the nanowires that make up the device. I suspect these devices will have short lifespans. These devices might be useful in extracting usefully energy in steady state thermal systems (such as nuclear, coal plants) where there the heat source remains constant 7/24/365, which would avoid constaint thermal cycling typical of solar energy collection.

Excellent analysis !

This reminds of a device I saw at the University of West Virginia as a child. A massive antenna array managed to collect enough flux from changes in the earth's magnetic field to drive a small (model racecar from vague memory) electric motor.

The rate of flux change varies and so would the freewheeling electric motor RPM.

Best but Very Dim Hopes,


I have also heard, the rotation of the Earth provides a weak current and if this energy was somehow used, the Earth's rotation would gradually slow down.

It's probably easier, though, to extract the Earth's rotational energy (and slow the rotation down) by using conventional tidal barrages, and/or underwater turbines at suitable places along the world's shores.

The earth's rotation is always slowing down. Tidal drag slows it down and even the wind that is caused in part by the rotation of the earth, slows it down. The core of the earth actually spins slightly faster than the crust because tidal drag acts primarily the crust. This creates magnetic drag that also slows down the rotation.

Any kind of tidal energy would have only an infinitesimal drag on the earth's rotation. It might slow it down by one second in a million years.

Ron Patterson

Actually tidal drag of the moon slows the mean solar day by about 1.7 ms per century. It is the reason for 'leap seconds'. The first leap seconds were inserted in International Atomic Clock Time in 1972. How too handle leap seconds in a scientifically valid and yet commercially acceptable way in currently a matter of intense international discussion. Leap seconds are more frequent than once in a million years, but are not likely to upset timings of oil deliveries in the next few decades, at least ;-). Google 'leap second' for more interesting information on time as defined by planetary motions and as defined by atomic clocks.

Sigh. I guess a "Nano50 Award", plus a fare, will get a person onto the bus.

A much cheaper way to make a surface "good at capturing energy, but not very good at converting it" is simply to paint it black. Painting it black in the infrared as well as the visible is a touch more difficult, but quite doable.

Oh, and if you can take in "earth's heat" and convert it to electricity with high efficiency, you've got yourself a nifty perpetual motion machine. Good luck.

These guys seem not to understand thermal noise in electrical circuits, and for National Laboratory researchers, that is very strange.

amazing how much noise it can generate even in place like TOD. i bet potato can convert and store more solar energy than this kind of stuff out of Idaho. SCT, where is your ax?

A review of The Suicide of Reason:

Blind Faiths

The second fanaticism that Harris identifies is one he views as infecting Western societies; he calls it a “fanaticism of reason.” Reason, he says, contains within itself a potential fatality because it blinds Western leaders to the true nature of Islamic-influenced cultures. Westerners see these cultures merely as different versions of the world they know, with dominant values similar to those espoused in their own culture. But this, Harris argues, is a fatal mistake. It implies that the West fails to appreciate both its history and the true nature of its opposition.

Nor, he points out, is the failure linked to a particular political outlook. Liberals and conservatives alike share this misperception. Noam Chomsky and Paul Wolfowitz agreed, Harris writes, “that you couldn’t really blame the terrorists, since they were merely the victims of an evil system — for Chomsky, American imperialism, for Wolfowitz, the corrupt and despotic regimes of the Middle East.” That is to say, while left and right may disagree on the causes and the remedies, they both overlook the fanaticism inherent in Islam itself. Driven by their blind faith in reason, they interpret the problem in a way that is familiar to them, in order to find a solution that fits within their doctrine of reason. The same is true for such prominent intellectuals as Samuel Huntington and Francis Fukuyama.

Interesting to consider in the light of peak oil. No doubt that the western culture, based on reason, tolerance, and self-interest, has been more successful in the Age of Oil. Will that hold true in the post-carbon age, or will "sacrifice for the collective" prove more successful when resources are contrained?

"prominent intellectuals as Samuel Huntington and Francis Fukuyama."
That these shallow thinkers are "prominent intellectuals" says a lot about the culture we live in.
Unlimited resource use is just one step more when the "End of History" is put foreword as a real reality, or the "clash of civilizations" becomes the comic book model of the world.

If your curious about Harris, the below link will show him in action.

Agreed and consider from the commentary on the Harris book:

'The West has variously tried to convert, to assimilate and to seduce Muslims into modernity, but, Harris says, none of these approaches have succeeded. Meanwhile, our worship of reason is making us easy prey for a ruthless, unscrupulous and extremely aggressive predator and may be contributing to a slow cultural “suicide.”'

The savages just do not understand our superiority and benevolence...

I think a cursory review of the history of the West and Islam would suggest that 'convert', 'assimilate' and 'seduce' often involved and still does involve the barrel of a gun and a list of examples would create its own extensive thread on TOD.

I think it's difficult to ignore the fact of European Imperialism. Over the last four hundred years Europe has expanded across the globe conquering, subduing, and colonizing; crushing all resistance by force of arms, and even denying the right of indigenous peoples to resist, by labeling them 'backward' or 'uncivilized' or 'heathens' or 'savages' or 'racial and culturally inferior'.

Once we'd deluded and convinced ourselves that our policy of military conquest for economic gain and enslavement, was, in fact a nobel crusade, we could abslove any lingering feelings of guilt at human cost of our unbridled agression. We could even convince ourselves that we had a holy mission to civilize the whole world, to lift the natives out of ignorance and superstition and into the light of modernity. We were really there to help, if only they had the sense to realize and accept the benefits of civilization.

We even managed to convince ourselves that the great imperial project to conquer the world was the white man's burdon, a dirty job, but someone had to do it, right?

And in essence this is what many people still believe, that we have a right and a duty to spread the gospel of western, liberal, democratic civilization to the world, a world that we still think we own, and if they only knew what was good for them they'd be grateful and become us too.

Whether this 'whiteman's ideology' can be considered a pathelogical disorder is another question.

I imagine the armies of Mohammad also thought that people would live better once they were subjugated to the only true Law. And they probably were right, given the problems of the post-Roman world.

We Christians actually share a very simple initial idea with Moslems: there is only one God to whom all must be obedient for the world to function properly. Therefore any suffering you cause in subjugating people is offset by later benefits. There was little challenging of this idea in the West before the Thirty Years' War exposed its madness. The Moslems have not yet had their own Thirty Years' War, though we may have just triggered its start in Iraq, and since each monotheist believes that his is the only true God, he will not learn from the historical example of the folly of another monotheism. Then again, monotheists are quick to forget their own mistakes, like the Christian Dominionists in the US. Huckabee supporters don't even think they're responsible for George W. Bush.

I've been through this all; I was a born-again Baptist; I've engaged in these very thought processes. If Harris hasn't, then he doesn't know where the redneck armies and cops that protect America's financial empire and thus his own well-being come from.

The idea of subjugating people for their own good was already the dominant view of the Romans, before Christ and before Mohammed.

I think a cursory review of the history of the West and Islam would suggest that 'convert', 'assimilate' and 'seduce' often involved and still does involve the barrel of a gun and a list of examples would create its own extensive thread on TOD.

Keep in mind that Islam has a 'no interest' clause, and if the world is run by bankers than Islam goes up against how the money system works.

Harris makes a monumental mistake in nearly completely rejecting systems-oriented thinking. According to Harris' view, a human being doesn't act as he does because he's embedded in a certain culture, shaped by forces of economics, nature, power structures, history. No, a human being acts based on the ideas in his head, and some ideas are evil. Apparently, they just float around and somehow a whole lot of people over there in the Middle East got infected and now they're all a big problem. It's not their world, not their history, not their economic situation that made them ripe for the evil ideas. They're just evil people or something, and the solution is to attack the people who hold the evil ideas. Seriously, Harris is such a shit for what he is saying.

Harris' belief is an extension of core cultural beliefs that humans are (1) innately flawed and (2) separate from the rest of what we call "nature".

Culture mediates behavior and belief, changing environments allow new beliefs and behavior to flourish, and new behavior engenders change in culture.

So...Those conducting the Salem Witch Trials had their behavior and belief mediated by their culture but they had recently changed environments which allowed new beliefs and behavior to flourish and their new behavior engendered a change in their culture...Which led them to burn some folks at the stake.

Yes, exactly. And we could list hundreds more examples of the deplorable behavior of humans under stress.

I wasn't justifying Harris' behavior, or of those who conducted the Salem Witch Trials. Just using my limited perceptions, like a blind man, in attempting to explain a portion of the elephant in the room: the cultural beliefs driving the depleting, linear, exploitative behaviors which are destroying the biosphere and making long-term survival increasingly unlikely.

It's hard to get a clear view of your point given that it's cloaked in sarcasm. It seems you just don't like the idea that people's behavior is affected by the environment they live in. You'd prefer people were unaffected by the world around them?

The point of disagreeing with Harris is about the question of how to make changes for the better. If you agree with Harris, then the best course is to exterminate the enemy. They cannot be reasoned with. They are not the way they are because of economic problems, political oppression, US foreign policy, or environmental stresses, so there is no point in addressing any of those issues. Were they allowed the advantages of peace and wealth, they would remain under the spell of their destructive ideas.

If you disagree with Harris and believe people's behavior is affected by their environment, then it does make sense to address the above problems, because there would be reason to believe that improving the circumstances of people's lives would yield fewer suicide bombers and less strife.

I wasn't making my point clear, sorry. I understand completely that people are affected by their environment, and that the environment is affected by people.

I was commenting about some of the beliefs that Harris appears to have, beliefs which drive the destruction we wreak on the planet, and that those cultural beliefs were (1) humans are innately flawed and (2) humans are separate from nature.

Or course it does make sense to address the problem. I disagree with Harris, but also understand that the beliefs that bind culture together and give individual lives cohesion are (1) difficult to break and (2) have unintended consequences upon doing so.

An example of an unintended consequence would be the depression, dismay, and despair, that some people do actually experience when their world is unraveled by knowledge of peak oil, economic collapse, global war, climate change, mass extinctions, human overshoot, and dieoff.

Addressing the problem also means understanding its multi-headed hydra-like nature. Is Harris the problem, or are his beliefs the problem? Is the problem the culture that not only mediates his behavior but continually reinforces his individual beliefs? If we are also interacting with that culture, then we can have an effect on his beliefs as well, but does our "fringe, nutter viewpoint" have a chance against billions of people currently living those cultural beliefs with 10,000 years of "success and progress"?

Hammering out a process to address and answer those questions could take years to figure out and generations to implement.

Or is the problem at this point one of unmanageable and unsolvable system complexity?

The general solution to this problem is easy: abandonment and renewal.

the western culture, based on reason, tolerance, and self-interest,

Are you living the in the same western culture that I live in? :)

they both overlook the fanaticism inherent in Islam itself

I categorically deny that there is more fanaticism inherent in Islam than in Christianity. Islamicism was little or no problem in the Ottoman Empire, despite the Ottomans being secular and Westernist. Communist movements were a far bigger threat. It wasn't until imperialist Western nations dispossessed locals, pillaged their natural resources, and installed repressive regimes (both local and foreign) that people in the middle east started to became fanatic, and even then it took most of a century before it really attracted the notice of the Western media.

The same thing would happen (and will happen) in the US when the Christian right feels dispossessed. The terrorist actions against abortion clinics, doctors, and even the Atlanta Olympics are just a foreshadowing. Roe v. Wade was a miniscule dispossession compared to what the West has done to the Middle East.

the western culture, based on reason, tolerance, and self-interest,

I think he's referring to W. culture as in the Chicago School / WorldBank or IMF

You nailed it. When monotheists are on top, they have one set of behaviors. When they are on the bottom, they have another set of behaviors.

1000 years ago - Arabs have created a stable multi-continental civilization with law amenable to precendent, the world's premier doctors, astronomers, and mathematicians, and pioneer philosophers moving beyond religious fundamentalism. Europe is a wreck, ruled by hundreds of corrupt petty tyrants, where reason is not used to solve any problem, law is a joke, illiteracy reigns, outside ideas condemned and the past of imperial glory is worshipped and its loss resented.

50 years ago - take all the above and reverse.

When a monotheistic people are on top, they tend to become both more generous and more ignorant of the problems their domination creates. They become less paranoid, more open-minded, and begin to move beyond the insane rigidity of mono-God. But they also lose their discipline, and become vulnerable to extreme reactions to misfortune. While reeling from the Black Plague and the Mongols, the Arabs got overrun by their Ottoman pupils, who froze Islamic law by eliminating precedents, and bureaucratized everything as you'd expect from a military dictatorship.

When a monotheistic people are on the bottom, they must explain why they are not being rewarded for following the true God. A thirst for revenge, close-mindedness, autarky, irrational movements, and a belief that the answer lays in the past.

But is this a bad thing from an evolutionary standpoint? If the Europeans had been rational market actors they would have followed most of Spain into Islamic civilization and lost their "backward" identity. Their irrationality and stubborness made them cohesive against Ottoman incursions. They were too toughened and stupid to give into the Black Death. Their systems were too crude to be easily disrupted. They outlasted the Islamic Golden Age, and used new weapons to grab the Mediterranean for themselves and create their own Golden Age and begin the cycle anew.

In other words, everything Harris complains about is why Afghanistan may outlast the West.

Now if Moslems had figured out how to build a steam engine in 1000 AD, what would have happened?

Afghanistan may outlast the West?

what on earth do you mean by this?

physically as a geography?

as a political entity - there's no there there... it's already fallen several times this decade

you can deny it but you'd be wrong - because at the end of the day the Christian texts do not contain the calls to violent action that the Koran does... read them both and you'll see that

one can get into arguments about all people doing bad things yatta yatta yatta

but BBC radio had one of the most prominent Muslim clerics on with a reporter discussing Islam - one of the "friendly Muslim" brigade, that explain how it's all about interpretation... yet the guy refused to condemn even the most barbaric aspects of sharia - now you can say the Catholic church did XYZ in the past, but the fact is as an institution it was able to change and the Pope himself would denounce the atrocities of the past...

the Koran calls for the killing of non-believers, and ultimately Muslims believe it to be literally the word of God, and not changeable in any way

people say things like Islam needs a reformation, a Martin Luther... unfortunately they don't see that this is what is happening - his name is Bin Laden, and his complaint is that things aren't fundamentalist enough - not that they should all abandon the harshness

i think the Christian Right in the US is dangerous and loopy but it is orders of magnitude different

i wonder if they realize who shaped those so called middle eastern corrupt regimes which then gave birth to hate those people feel about outsiders influencing their country which we have been feeling some blowback from(not counting the hyped up and fabricated blowback to support local politician's pet plans)

Living in the south (surrounded by Christian fundamentalist) and working for the military (volunteers willing to die for their county), I find the idea of Muslims being fanatics and the USA being governed by reason absurd. I want to laugh hysterically, then scream out the window after reading this.

'I'm Mad As Hell And I'm Not Going To Take It Anymore' from 'Network'

If you feel compelled to scream, might as well make it a classic!

There really is a big difference in world view between western technological man and islamic purist thinking. It is unlikely that a compromise view will ever be worked out. As a substitute, so we can both continue to live here, we need to deplete the oil of the middle east as quickly as possible. Oh, I forgot. It's not our oil.

Cross Country Checkup on CBC(Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) today all about $100 oil.



Find an online stream here this afternoon


People call in and get the word out! 3 hours NO commercials leftish radio.

Hey are they on shortwave?


25 MB download

There appears to be shortwave, but the wiki says reception is an issue with all the noise out there now.


Maybe CBC shortwave will come in loud in clear in the near future? I love radio, especially commercial free radio.

Did video kill the radio star? We'll see about that!

Really enjoyed a classic moment last night in the Republican debates when Ron Paul pointed out that oil in relationship to gold hadn't really changed at all; the problem is the dilution of paper money. The loopy grins and deer in the headlights responses from the other candidates was hilarious; either they thought he was wacky or they were trying to pretend they did. I suspect the latter in the case of McCain who really put on a big ear to ear.

I'm no big fan of RP but he's at least connected to reality on the problems which puts him ahead of the rest. Dare I consider that the OPEC members and the Russians are thinking ten barrels an ounce and just converting to whatever scrip gets thrown at them? Chart, anyone out there?

I'm no big fan of RP but he's at least connected to reality on the problems which puts him ahead of the rest

Dr Paul likes gold because it is hard to 'forge' or 'play with' unlike the FRN system.

Metal based currencies may suck, but so does a fiat currency that is being manipulated.

Ron Paul sounds good in general. He was on Bill Moyers program yesterday and sounded quite rational. However, when you start hearing specifics from him on what he would do, that is when people start to roll their eyes and talk about how unrealistic and potentially dangerous much of that might be.

But Huckabee is considered a normal candidate, right? People rolling their eyes should stop acting like bunch of high school preppy retards and use their brains (if they have any).

Please spend a few minutes of your time listening to these three segments from this past Friday's Bill Moyers Journal (1/4/08)...

Ron Paul - http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/01042008/watch2.html

Dennis Kucinich - http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/01042008/watch3.html

Kathleen Hall Jamieson - http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/01042008/watch.html

Ron Paul is an Ayn Rand libertarian, a complete douche. He is wacky, two french fries short of a happy meal. In his world, the corporations could do whatever the hell they wanted and you would have no recourse.

In his world, the corporations could do whatever the hell they wanted and you would have no recourse.

Are you saying the courts would not exist, or that this would be a different world than the one we now exist in?

And, because you are so well informed on presidential candidates - please tell us who is the best choice Cherenkov.

We had courts during the Gilded Age, the era worshipped by all market freaks. All the courts did was punish anyone who protested. The National Guard, then controlled by corporate-bought governors, were sicced on striking workers 2-3 times a year between the Civil War and World War 2. Now that's governmental wage control.

Courts would exist if they could make a profit.

Or what if we had to trade things of real value--food, clothing, airplanes, computers, etc.--every time a tanker delivered a cargo of crude oil?

In a broader sense, it's a question that we all face. If you are not a food or energy producer, what essential goods and/or services can you trade for food and energy?

Oh. I see. Its a PROFIT thing! ... Steve Martin 'The Jerk' :)

Most people will have nothing of value to trade for food and energy but their own hard labor. There will be no shortage of agricultural workers in the future.

"There will be no shortage of agricultural workers in the future"

Where hand harvesting is not required such as the production of major commodity crops, corn, soy and wheat, there will be little use for unskilled farm labor.

A two week shutdown of steel mills in Pakistan? That is madness. Their steel is either export for hard currency or its used internally within the economy. They're draining next month's revenue pipeline to keep things together this month. Does Delaware bankruptcy court take on the case of sovereign foreign nations when they implode?

There aren't words to describe how dangerous this is. Inflamed, nuclear armed Pakistan, caught between destabilized Afghanistan and food/fuel stressed India. How long will it be before water and hydro from Kashmir becomes a flash point?

Perhaps the mills are shut down due to demand destruction in markets formerly served by Pakistani companies?

If the ground wasn't so hard I think I'd go out and get started on a fallout shelter. Yikes!

Surgical and dental instruments are a big export from there, and have been for a long time.

Probably also guns, the Kalashnikov designs are sort of the Linux of the gun world.

It's kind of like the US stopping making cars, cold.


Twenty US Senators recently sent a letter to Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman and Office of Management and Budget Director Jim Nussle asking that the President’s 2009 budget request include funding for electric vehicle technology initiatives that Congress has authorized. The letter specifically calls for funding for the development and promotion of Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) and advanced mobile and stationary batteries.

I urge everyone to write/call your senator and tell them that you support this plan.

And be sure to have a hefty campaign contribution check in the envelope along with the letter. A few million of them and maybe we’ll outbid the opposition.

Re shargesh
To blame the west for regimes is nonscence. If anything the west has been too soft in the middle east, allowing fairly benign monarchies in places like Iraq, Libya and Iran to be replaced by bloodthirsty dictators and religious fanatics. Indeed western backed regimes were deposed because the locals didn't consider them barbaric enough. The problem of cultures of the enlightenment having to deal with cultures which are products of the dark ages.

If we don't kill them all Manhattan will be a melting crater.

3,000 died Manhattan and I'm convinced it was a studied piece of negligence that brought it about as much as malice on the part of al Queda. I am much more concerned about those here who believe that we need to "kill them all", as once the Muslims are gone they'll come for the fags, kikes, spics, niggers, etc - a hateful ideology requires a target, right?

http://publiceye.org manages to discuss such things without using ethnic and racial slurs to make their point ...

Can't disagree with you on that one.


Kill them all, that Kurtzian response, is not the only option if one comes to the conclusion that Islam isn't going to ever respond to any level of accommodation by the West... so it is unhelpful to brand people who come to that conclusion as advocating the Heart of Darkness solution

But if you look at Europe over the last couple of decades, governments and local entities have pandered to the local Islamic communities (yes not everywhere, I know) and tried to accommodate their "issues" with the West, and it is a staggering failure. The Islamic communities (notwithstanding those that choose to mainstream themselves by abandoning much of their Islamic identity) just push for more and more... when you have large areas of major British cities trying to establish Sharia law zones where the local police don't have jurisdiction then you've completely lost the plot.

The one that gets rolled out as Western intolerance all the time, which hacks me off, is headscarves in schools: the headscarf IS a symbol of women's fundamental second class status, being that women must cover their hair lest they provoke a man into raping them (which would be their own fault for not wearing the headscarf)... they call it modesty... that to me means that you cannot allow Muslim girls, below the age of majority (below which we accept that they cannot give informed consent) to come to school wearing headscarves and maintain respect for the values of Western society... they don't do so out of "choice" they do so out of expectations of their community that they'll accept their second class status...

This stuff happens more in Europe than American because wracked by post-colonial guilt the Western European governments and their populations have a deep-seated lack of confidence in and appreciation for the positives in their societies just as they have blind spots to the faults and failings of those same societies that we discuss on TOD all the time.

I expect a post-peak world will be a much less pleasant one for women and girls than Western society is today (and that's saying something given how depressingly anti-women I find the culture in my adopted US)


I think if we decide or attempt to 'kill them all' Manhattan will indeed end as a melting crater, along with many other cities around the world. Is this really what we want? Is this really the way forward? And how would we 'justify' this 'kill 'em all' strategy? We are after all talking about genocide, right? And if we did embark on policy of genocide towards a billion Muslims, surely they would be right to defend themselves and retaliate; life for life, house for house, city for city? Is that really our future? We turn ourselves into barbarians in order to defend our civilization?

Writerman: Since your original post read like it was written by Condasleeza Rice, I decided to paraphrase your esteemed neocon in my response. No need to flog this dead horse.

BrainT - are you confusing writerman with weatherman or weatherman with writerman? Also, I think writerman thought you were agreeing with weatherman instead of making fun of weatherman who you think is writerman.

Glad you pointed that out- I thought there was only one evil twin.

Writerman - but if we sit around and be nicey-nice, the Muslims have vowed to kill (or convert) all non-Muslims anyway. Probably mostly kill - or you'll wish you'd been killed.

And Mother Earth loves a good genocide.

Ann Coulter has vowed to kill or convert all Moslems to Christianity too. She didn't take much flack for it. So when you say "The Muslims" as though they're just one big beast, can you prove they represent a larger % of actual Moslems than Ann Coulter does of white Christian Americans? After all, Coulter's leader is actually in the White House and destroying civilization in Iraq as we speak.

yes - Ann Coulter is a fringe political hack and recognized as such even by those that have her on their shows for the freak-show she provides

every prominent muslim interviewed on TV or radio that I have EVER heard will tell you that the Koran is the infallible word of God and while some of the nicey-nicey ones might say things like "take it in historical context" they won't actually contradict the demands of killing the infidels

We could only hope so.

Cherenkov, I'm a little shocked.
Did you just endorse the 'Kill them all' comment? Care to elaborate?


Not everyone loves the Big Apple.

And others would want to see the rest of the nation empty their wallets to save "the big apple" along with other places they have an emotional attachment to.

I was taking 'Kill them all' as 'Terrorists/Islamic Radicals' etc..

still repugnant and I would say useless proposal.. but this is what I get for jumping into any thread that is downstream from a 'kill them all' comment.

Kirk out.

"Them". That's the funniest/saddest bit. As if "we" are different.

It's life, Jim, but not as we know it.

If you're replying to someone else's post, click on the "reply" under their comment. That way, your reply will appear under the comment you are replying to, rather than at the bottom of the thread.

broken record? i just don't think weatherman gets it.

Leanan - re reply

the threading isn't working today as far as I can tell... i doubt it is just me...

It's working fine for me. Did you clear your cache and try the other fixes suggested here?

nonsense - Britain and the US (or "West" if you like) is RESPONSIBLE for the creation of many of the most bloodthirsty dictators in the middle east. Saddam was a creature created and supported by the US, as was the Shah of Iran -
who carved up the (former) Turkish empire and created the absolute mess of borders in the middle east, combining various ethnic groups in arbitrary new countries for their own political (and even more, oil) gains? - it wasn't Islamists who threw the Kurds, Shittes and Sunnis all into a new country (which happened to contain massive oil reserves)

read Winston Churchill's opinion on using poison gas dropped from planes on Iraqi tribesmen and compare to "bloodthirsty dictators"

heck - go back further - the Egypt and Sudan campaigns of Britain in the 1880's - yes, the followers of the Madhi were Islamist extremists - but then, their country was being invaded by an imperialistic foreign power (sound familiar?) - have you seen photos of the piles of dead Sudanese at Omdurman, after the Brits machine-gunned and cannonaded and used modern rifles on desert dwellers largely armed with swords and spears? - does that display the superiority of "culture of Enlightenment" over the the "barbarism" of a culture that is "the product of the dark ages"? Is there some innate superiority of Western culture that allows them to use their superior technology to kill and enslave other cultures at the end of a gun? - India taken over, Afghanistan (attempted) taken over multiple times, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, the Turkish empire carved up and gerrymandered to create controllable states that would sell oil to the west - the creation of the State of Israel at the expense of the vast majority of (muslim) peoples living there - the list goes on and on and on

the activities of the West (Britain and then the US or both) in the middle east has DIRECT results on creating much of the tension and warfare in that region - we encouraged Saddam (and covertly supplied him) to go to war with Iran (and then turned on him when he wasn't "our" guy anymore) - is it any wonder Iran is skeptical of US intentions? The CIA encouraged and supplied the mujahideen to fight the Russians in Afghanistan (a nation Britain has invaded HOW many times?) - and then they came back to destroy us (for no reason? or because of our military presence in the region, our support for Israel, our continued meddling in the politics of the region?) What right does the "West" have (especially pre 9/11) to decide what sort of governments are "appropriate" for the people of those nations?

if you want to say that traditional Islamic beliefs have difficulty with modern Western culture, I will give you that - the Shah's attempt at very quickly turning Iran into a modern western nation met with strong resistance, and his torture and jailings and other repressive activities of the populace did nothing to help his cause...

but otherwise your comment shows either a willful misreading of history, a lack of knowledge of the history of the region, or downright paranoia about a culture other than your own...

Go read Weatherman's other comments and you'll see that s/he is into spouting other people's talking points without looking into the WHY or history of an event.

The last secular elected government in Iran the US over through in 1953. It set up the model we used in Guatemala (1954), etc, to finally Iraq in 2003 (Saddam was one of our boys, see link below):
Imperial power and democracy oppose each other. When people have control of their countries, they want to also control the resources in them. This does not work with resource extraction from imperial powers.


I hope your meteorology is better than your history. WE backed Bin Laden, Sadaam, any number of brutal despots who would keep the shipping lanes open, and have undermined elections and had democratically elected leaders killed and/or defamed, defeated if their policies were unfavorable to US business interests.

The powers in the West have been trying to reenact the Inquisition, while flying the banners of the enlightenment, whose ideals our oligarchs frequently oppose publicly. (No Links, sorry, feeding a kid)


To me, CTL and tar sands are scrapping the bottom of the barrel. When you get down to fancy tricks to get a few more drops, you should consider another line of thinking. It is easier for business to go with what has worked. Even if it costs $30 per barrel to make oil from tar sands, they know that there is a market for oil above that price. It is time to step back and have a human dialog about where we all want to go from here.

No point in disapproving Asian coal consumption since they are just catching up with or making stuff for the West. Since we don't really have any moral authority to carbon tax imports from those countries I guess we have to tough it out. A possibility is that lack of liquids (water, oil) will slow coal use. I don't know if Energy Watch Group factored in new deposits in its predicted 2025 coal peak, which James Hansen says will nonetheless take us past a climate tipping point.

For your kid's sake maybe a global economic slowdown isn't a bad thing.

RE Asian CTL:

Multibillion-dollar facilities that convert coal to oil are being studied across Asia, while utilities are shelving plans to build power plants that use natural gas or fuel oil because prices of those fuels track the cost of crude

IMO this was inevitable and entirely predictable. Its market substitution at work, and the market is behaving in an entirely rational way. It just happens to ignore the inconvenient truth that coal is the enemy of planet Earth.

Does anyone have any good ideas about how we can stop this happening? I don't.

Does anyone have any good ideas about how we can stop this happening?

Carbon, we cannot really do anything to stop anything. We are observers and nothing more. True, a few people on this list are under the illusion that they have the power to change the world. They are delusional.

Ron Patterson

Sorry you're feeling powerless, Ron.
Omnipotence and Impotence are both illusions.

Self-imposed impotence may be contagious, but I'm glad I haven't caught it yet.


Sorry you're feeling powerless, Ron.

Sorry for your feelings of omnipotence bob, I know lots of other people with the same problem. They are pitiful and I do pity them.

In reality you can change the things around you, and a few people around you. But you cannot save the whole damn world. And I am shocked Bob, that you would think otherwise.

Those who struggle to change the world see themselves as noble, even tragic figures. Yet most of those who work for world betterment are not rebels against the scheme of things. They seek consolation for a truth they are too weak to bear. At bottom, their faith that the world can be transformed by human will is a denial of their own mortality.
John Gray, Straw Dogs

Ron Patterson

You're only 'shocked' because you're revising my post. I did say clearly that the idea of 'Omnipotence' is just as illusory as total powerlessness, but your furrowed-browser must have occluded it..

But I do think that a relatively few people will have made their marked effect on the world, more with the luck of a lottery ticket than of casting a ballot, but that you'll get your Rosa Parks, your Ted Bundy, your Naomi Klein or your John Gray because a great number of people are out there pushing one of those various platforms or quirks, and a critical mass or the luck of the draw brings their number up. It could have been someone else, and the presence of each of these background groups has their effect, too.

"Yet most of those who work for world betterment are not rebels against the scheme of things. They seek consolation for a truth they are too weak to bear." John Gray..

That's just pathetic! And you're pitying me? It sounds like the Rallying cry for the chronically fatalistic. Is Eeyore on the Flag?

Ron, I think you put too much stock in things being easily 'Definable, Fullstop'. And far too many things just are not going to live up to the Textbook Definition/Catalog Photograph the way you seem to imply. Yesterday you trotted out your 'News is news is news is news'. The lady is GRAY, Ron, not Black and White. Take the hint. I don't think EVERYTHING is some vast conspiracy out there, but I'm not going to say there aren't plenty of lies, vital omissions and twisted translations that are peppering our perceptions, either. Some 'little people' change the world, for better AND for worse, while many others are out there trying to. If you and John Gray want to sit back and smirk and cluck, then that's your role, and you join the Legion of other Cluckers who've chosen that path.

Pity On!


"My optimism rests on my belief in the infinite possibilities of the individual to develop nonviolence. . . . In a gentle way you can shake the world." -Gandhi (overheard at a low point, when he was in deep denial of his own mortality)

that I felt I was impotent. CarbonSink wanted to know how we can stop the world from using coal. Yeah Right! There is nothing he can do to stop the world from burning coal and there is nothing you or I can do either. But I can change my little world and so can you. But not the big world, not the world.

And news is news is news. Yes, the news gets reported. That is just common sense. And what the hell does this mean?

Ron, I think you put too much stock in things being easily 'Definable, Fullstop'. And far too many things just are not going to live up to the Textbook Definition/Catalog Photograph the way you seem to imply.

What the hell are you talking about? Definable??? Fullstop??? Textbook Definition/Catalog Photograph???? What in God's name are you talking about? I cannot defend myself if you talk in silly riddles. Fullstop? What about Full speed ahead? I said up thread that every word has several definitions. And I know that even these words get bastardized. It is others who were quibbling over the use of "intrinsic". Hell, it is used in many ways and not all of them are correct. But that's okay because even when the word is used incorrectly we know what it means.

I often use the word "anarchy" to indicate lawlessness and chaos. But when I do purists usually tell me that I am not using the word correctly. But I am using it correctly according to ONE dictionary definition. I am not a purest. As long as I know what the hell you are talking about that is all that matters. But "Fullstop"? Give me a frigging break? Or even Catalog Photograph? GAD!

But since you love John Gray so much I will give you two more quotes. Then I am going to bed.

The mass of mankind is ruled not by its intermittent moral sensations, still less by self-interest, but by the needs of the moment. It seems fated to wreck the balance of life on earth – and thereby to be the agent of its own destruction. What could be more
hopeless than placing the Earth in the charge of this exceptionally destructive species.


The destruction of the natural world is not the result of global capitalism, industrialization, 'Western civilization' or any flaw in human institutions. It is a consequence of the evolutionary success of an exceptionally rapacious primate. Throughout all of history and prehistory, human advance has coincided with ecological devastation.
John Gray, "Straw Dogs"

Ron Patterson

I didn't mean was there anything I could do personally to stop this happening, I meant was there anything we could do. We being the human race.

For example, my country (Australia, the world's largest coal exporter) could afford to shut down its coal industry. It wouldn't be cheap, tens of thousands of jobs would be lost, and billions lost in export income, but it certainly be could be done in the context of Australia's $1.1 trillion economy.

The question is, under what political and economic circumstances would it happen?

I think that there is very little hope of actually stopping CO2 emmission from burning coal by international political action. But there is some hope of capturing out of the atmosphere and sequestering CO2 merely to keep the atmospheric CO2 concentration within reasonable limits. It wouldn't be cheap, but it surely would be less expensive than invading and conquering China, and India, and whatever. Also more morally defensible. And, no, I don't propose that I will attempt to do this by myself, alone.

geek7, if you really believe that the US or the US in concert with NATO allies could invade and conquer China and India at this point in time you are delusional.

The SCO has grown too powerfull militarily , but more important, economically, to conquer in any manner that would have a beneficial outcome to the West. The West does not know what treaties and alliances have been agreed to by the SCO members because the SCO refused to grant the US observer status.

A belief by you that nuclear holocaust, triggered by invasions of India and China by the US, would be beneficial to the West, would only make sense to me if you also told me that you are pushing for a 'fast rapture.'

CarbonSink, one way to stop people from using coal would be a dieoff. That would be one way "we" could change the world. There are probably other ways, but I can't think of any right now.

We have overshot the planet's carrying capacity, and have engineered a lifestyle that requires massive amounts of cheap energy in very efficient, specific applications. We are living in a way that ensures survival for 6.6 billion in the short-term at the cost of the very ability for any to survive in the long term.

The overwhelming majority of those people hold cultural beliefs, which get reinforced by their surroundings, that reassure them in a hundred different ways to not worry about water, food, energy, the environment. So they are completely incapable of making informed decisions about the costs to the biosphere and the human race.

But even if they were informed, the decision would be the Woody Allen choice, a period of hopelessness and despair vs. extinction. History suggests that collectively we do not have the wisdom to choose well.

History suggests that instead we will build more stone heads.

Sorry if my references are hard to make out, Ron. They do have sense to them, but they can be very impressionistic, and I recognize that some folks use that language, and others do not.

"Fullstop" is an older way of saying 'Period' .. Like the ever popular 'End of Story'. I didn't think it was all that obscure. I meant it to sarcastically suggest that when someone thinks they have had the final word, and locked down the definitive version of an issue, it is frequently apparent that they have not.

"And news is news is news. Yes, the news gets reported. That is just common sense." Sure, SOMETHING is getting reported, Ron.. but to simply say 'It's the news' without giving any leeway to the notion that 'The News' covers a WIDE spectrum from Fantasy to Reality, from Ideology to Established Fact, and that we need to look at it with a discerning eye to ascertain what motivated the inclusion or exclusion of a story and its details.. well, you may not be a Purist, but you can be extremely dogmatic with your terminology.

'Forget the power of positive thinking. It's never worked, and it never will!'


There's a tiny, but nonzero, chance of a person changing the world significantly. It has happened and it will continue to, particularly pre-crash when things are strongly connected.

The belief that it is anything but an incredible longshot is pretty delusional. Still, as delusions go, it's pretty harmless as a hobby.

Hi greenish,

Thanks for making this point. My logic function becomes happier.

re: "There's a tiny, but nonzero, chance of a person changing the world significantly. It has happened and it will continue to, particularly pre-crash when things are strongly connected."

Mr. Totoneila Sir will enjoy this one - community wheelbarrows near the ferry landing on a Norwegian island that has banned automobiles.

At the ferry. Wheelbarrows.

Yemen downgraded on oil reserves estimates from 4 billion barrels to 3 billion barrels (EIA):


They think the decline is due to a lack of money. From the left side of that web page :)

Yemen is actively attempting to attract foreign investment in order to reverse a recent decline in crude oil production

More likely Yemen is like a terminal cancer patient who is trying in vain to find a doctor who can cure him.

Here is a juicy peak natural gas/NPK story I wrote which TPTB over at DailyKos have seen fit to place on the front page.


I'ld rather see a list of the 50 people most responsible for the sh*t we're in. The 50 people most responsible for nothing being done. The 50 people most responsible for the YEARS of disinformation. I'm sure in a few short years there will be people with ropes looking to find these people. I'd also like to see a list of the 50 people who most profited from it.


You have that list - now what would ya do with it?

where'd the threading go?

If Coal-to-Liquids really takes off, won't coal get several times more expensive as the marginal value of coal increases?

Joule for Joule it is only a fraction of the cost of oil. So if a viable conversion process is developed, it could be lucrative. Which would encourage more players, who would compete for feedstock.

Conceivably it gets too expensive to use in older, less efficient power stations and solar suddenly becomes cost-competitive.

It could never amount to more 5 million barrels per day, so it doesn't help the liquid fuel situation much, but if it drives up coal prices the knock-on effect for renewables could be significant.

Remember, it doesn't have to be a sensible solution to anything. If the money is there it will get done no matter how stupid it is. Look at oil sands.

Nikkei down 20%

After reaching a 12 month high of 18240.29 in July the Nikkei has fallen over 20% closing today at 14548.34 bouncing off the 14500 mark. The Dow since October has lost nearly 15%.