DrumBeat: January 20, 2008

Mexico closes main oil ports due to bad weather

MEXICO CITY, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Mexico closed all of its main oil exporting ports on Sunday due to bad weather, the transport ministry said on its Web site.

The Gulf of Mexico ports of Dos Bocas, Cayo Arcas and Coatzacoalcos, which ship around 80 percent of Mexico's daily oil exports, were shut. The Pacific port of Salina Cruz was also closed.

Mexico is the world's No. 9 exporter of crude oil, shipping an average of 1.7 million barrels per day in 2007, and a top-three supplier to the United States.

Some say oil-gas bear some Katrina blame

Service canals dug to tap oil and natural gas dart everywhere through the black mangrove shrubs, bird rushes and golden marsh. From the air, they look like a Pac-Man maze superimposed on an estuarine landscape 10 times the size of Grand Canyon National Park.

There are 10,000 miles of these oil canals. They fed America's thirst for energy, but helped bring its biggest delta to the brink of collapse. They also connect an overlooked set of dots in the Hurricane Katrina aftermath: The role that some say the oil industry played in the $135 billion disaster, the nation's costliest.

Nigeria’s resurgent oil diplomacy

Russia is not alone in seeing oil as a means to transform its global standing. Nowadays, the mantra of President Umar Yar’Adua, who took power in June 2007, following controversial elections, is to transform the country into one of the world’s 20 largest economies by 2020. Yar’Adua and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are struggling to stamp their authority on an unwieldy and restive country of 140 million people, and the government views rapid growth as a means to achieving that aim.

Seeking Ways to Help the World’s Poorest

Participants are being sought for the second International Development Design Summit, which will be held next summer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The first such workshop, which I wrote about last year, saw 40 students, engineers, farmers, professors and others from 18 countries hunker down in groups to devise simple, affordable ways to clean water, chill produce, generate electricity, and solve other problems facing the world’s poorest communities.

The project is part of a broader movement to shift priorities of inventors and designers away from serving the needs of the world’s top 10 percent and toward those of the several billion people with scant income, scarce food and water, and slim prospects.

America's energy future and the reality of $100-per-barrel crude oil

America has the ability to postpone shortages of petroleum for years, by allowing drilling on restricted federal lands and in offshore federal and state waters that are now off-limits to drilling. This will allow a gradual inclusion of supplemental fuels without suffering another major oil shock as in 1973. The best prospective areas for finding new U.S. oil reserves are in: 1) Northern Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, 2) the Pacific states' coastal waters, 3) waters presently restricted in the Gulf of Mexico, and 4) the Atlantic states' coastal waters.

Focus back on oil reserves

Mississippi soon will be on the front lines of the nation's defense against a disruption of oil supplies that would cause an energy crisis.

Congress last month approved a massive spending bill that contained $25 million to plan and purchase land for an underground facility that would hold 160 million barrels of oil in 16 salt caverns in Richton.

Protests over power leave four dead in Bihar

PATNA, India (Reuters) - At least four people were killed and dozens injured in overnight clashes between police and villagers protesting poor power supply in Bihar, one of India's poorest and most lawless states, police said on Saturday.

Tensions over long periods of power outage in the Kahalgoan area boiled over on Friday when protesters turned violent, prompting police to use batons and open fire.

Gaza power plant begins shutting down

GAZA, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Gaza's main power plant began shutting down on Sunday due to a fuel shortage caused by Israel's closure of the Hamas-controlled territory's borders, a move taken in response to Palestinian rocket attacks.

Jamaica: Debate over ethanol heats up as food prices rise

Environmentalist John Maxwell is staunchly against Jamaica's endorsement of biofuel production, noting that it comes at too great a cost.

"We should be growing food and looking at solar and wind energy and forget all this craziness about biofuels. It is madness. You can't be growing gas while people are starving. It doesn't make any sense," he told the Sunday Observer.

Is this the end of cheap food?

Food prices are rising faster than they have at any time since the mid-1970s. The middle class in Britain has barely noticed, but here in one of the poorer corners of Scotland, people are feeling the pain.

Everyone in the stripped-down warehouse of Lidl, where the posters promise, simply enough, '40 per cent cheaper!', had a story to tell. Shubnam Rasoul, 23, out shopping with her husband, Shahid, and their two small children, said: 'I never buy anything for myself any more. And I never buy anything that's full price - it's all in the sales.' Shahid, who works in a Leith butcher's shop, said that the price of their lamb is up 10 per cent since last month. 'We spend £200 a month now on groceries for the family,' he complained. Probably 25 per cent more on a year ago. It's frightening'.

The Construction Site Called Saudi Arabia

Amid a forest of cranes, towers and beams rising from the desert, more than 38,000 workers from China, India, Turkey and beyond have been toiling for two years in unforgiving conditions — often in temperatures exceeding 100 degrees — to complete one of the world’s largest petrochemical plants in record time.

By the end of the year, this massive city of steel at the edge of the Red Sea will take its place as a cog of globalization: plastics produced here will be used to make televisions in Japan, cellphones in China and thousands of other products to be sold in the United States and Europe. Construction costs at the plant, which spreads over eight square miles, have doubled to $10 billion because of shortages in materials and labor. The amount of steel being used is 10 times the weight of the Eiffel Tower.

No need for OPEC to boost output at Feb meet - Qatar

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Qatar's oil minister reiterated on Sunday that the oil market is well supplied and there is no need for OPEC to boost output at its February 1 meeting.

In the past week, U.S. President George W. Bush and his Energy Secretary Sam Bodman have both urged the producer group to pump more oil to ease the impact of record prices on the world's largest economy.

Farmers oppose pipeline

LE ROY, Ill. - This expanse of central Illinois is flat as a pancake, with corn and soybean fields stretching to the horizon, interrupted only by a smattering of small towns.

But it is also a 175-mile missing link in Enbridge's Alberta-to-Texas pipeline network to transport gooey, thick bitumen oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries.

'Digital' oil fields could increase Mideast production and reserves, says BP

The Middle East oil & gas producers could substantially boost production and reserves through investment in technologies designed to 'digitize' oil fields by converging drilling, exploration and digital control techniques with standardised communications systems.

Shuaiba refinery repairs may need a week

(MENAFN) An engineer at the Shuaiba oil field in Iraq announced that repairs on the refinery may take an entire week to complete, Iraq Directory reported.

Repairs were needed after a fire broke out causing extensive damages to the refinery, the engineer further pointed out.

The real saviors stand up

The oil producing countries, which have been accumulating mountains of cash in the last few years, are the real heroes and saviors of big financial houses. Two large financial institutions Citicorp and Merrill Lynch were saved by Arab oil countries and some rich Asian nations. Together Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Singapore and South Korea contributed more than $21 billion to save the two banks from crumbling due to nearly $69 billion sub prime mortgage fiasco in the USA.

India: Oil industry expects fund for energy-efficient technologies

NEW DELHI: With international oil prices touching the $100 per barrel mark, oil firms are seeking duty rationalisation and budgetary support for switching over to energy-efficient technologies, a FICCI survey said.

In its survey on 'Emerging oil price scenario and the Indian industry', the chamber said companies expect government to announce a 'new fund' in the forthcoming budget for providing subsidised loans to the industry for adoption of energy-efficient and non-oil technologies.

Gas Taxes Are High Enough

Contrary to the views of the majority of the commission, we do not believe Washington is capable of spending billions more of Americans' money wisely when it comes to transportation investments. Anyone who doubts that should review the more than 6,000 earmarks in the last transportation bill or visit the new Woodstock Museum in upstate New York.

West Africa: Food Prices Still Climbing, Crisis Feared

Food prices at markets across West Africa are already high for the time of year and are still rising, market analysts warn, suggesting aid agencies should prepare for a potentially serious hunger crisis later in the year as people across the impoverished region may not be unable to afford to buy enough to eat, despite food being available.

Slower boats to China as ship owners save fuel

BERLIN (Reuters) - Oil at more than $90 a barrel is concentrating minds in the shipping industry. Higher fuel costs and mounting pressure to curb emissions are leading modern merchant fleets to rediscover the ancient power of the sail.

The world's first commercial ship powered partly by a giant kite sets off on a maiden voyage from Bremen to Venezuela on Tuesday, in an experiment which inventor Stephan Wrage hopes can wipe 20 percent, or $1,600, from the ship's daily fuel bill.

Why green power has left us all in the dark

Once we were offered an easy way to help save the planet: ask an electricity provider to supply you with power from renewable sources and you would reduce carbon emissions and so tackle climate change. But doing the right thing has turned out to be more complicated.

There are growing concerns that 'green tariffs' reduce carbon emissions by far less than promised - a point accepted even by government. Supporters still argue they are worthwhile because they boost demand for renewable energy in future. But even that is now being questioned: demand is already massively outstripping supply, leading providers to turn away big customers.

Eco-conscious Sundance turns deeper shade of green

PARK CITY, Utah (Reuters) - When former Vice President Al Gore premiered documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, he inspired not only greater awareness of global warming, but the general greening of this top movie event.

Two years later, almost everything at the key gathering for independent film backed by Robert Redford's Sundance Institute has gone eco-friendly, eco-conscious or just plain eco-crazy.

Japan to offer environmental technology to Africa, Asia: report

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan will provide technological support for developing countries in Africa and Asia to help them fight against climate change and infection diseases, a newspaper reported on Sunday.

There's a short interview with Shell's CEO, Jeroen van der Veer, in today's NYT.

Oil Demand, the Climate and the Energy Ladder

E. Swanson

Re: The Construction Site Called Saudi Arabia

What is odd about this article is that the only reference to net oil exports that I saw was a suggestion that Saudi Arabia would need oil exports more than ever to finance its construction boom and because of demographics (something like six to seven kids per family).

The following graph from our top five paper shows what would happen to Saudi net exports if their total liquids production had stayed flat at 11 mbpd (in reality, 2006 and 2007 production fell relative to 2005) and if their consumption increased at the 2005 to 2006 rate of increase (current data suggest that the rate of increase in consumption accelerated in 2007):

Net oil exports would be the difference between the flat line production curve and increasing consumption. The overall long term net export decline rate (2005 to 2030) would be about -10%year, starting out slowly and accelerating with time.


My September, 2007 estimate for 2007 Saudi net oil exports (I asssumed a fourth quarter increase in production):

Declining Net Oil Exports Versus “Near Record High” Crude Oil Inventories: What is going on?

The 2005 to 2006 numbers for Saudi Arabia are as follows (exponential increase/decrease per year, EIA, Total Liquids):

Production: -3.7%/year

Consumption: +5.7%/year

Net Exports: -5.5%/year

Extrapolating from year to date numbers, my estimates for 2006 to 2007 Saudi numbers are as follows (I am adding in some increased liquids consumption, because of their ongoing natural gas shortfall):

Production: -5.6%/year

Consumption: +10%/year

Net Exports: -9.5%/year

Hi Westexas,

What do you think will be a realistic world net exports decline rate, once they start to decline?

I am trying to work out what will happen to availability of gasoline and diesel in 'net importer' countries - how quickly it will approach zero.
I am assuming that some uses of a barrel of crude will take priority.
This means that things with high priority take more than their fair share of the declining resource.

ie.: unpolluted fresh water is the greatest need, agriculture next, then military, then hospitals and so on.

I also assume that because world population is growing exponentially so also will the energy (and oil) requirements for fresh water, irrigation, food, fertilizer etc.

The EIA showed a small overall net export decline in 2006, that I strongly suspect accelerated in 2007.

Note that our mathematical ELM showed that its post-peak net exports would only be 10% of post-peak production, with consumption equal to 50% of production at peak.

For the world, perhaps the best way to envision the situation is using an exported production to export ratio (EP/E). Our middle case is that the post-2005 top five net exports would only show cumulative net exports of about 100 Gb, with annual 2005 net exports of about 23 mbpd. In round numbers, the top five are about half of world net exports.

Let's assume the bottom half post-2005 cumulative net exports are on the order of 150 Gb. So, the total post-2005 net exports, based on this assumption and our middle case for the top five, would be about 250 Gb. At the 2005 rate of export, the remaining world net export capacity would be gone in about 15 years. Of course we don't produce or export at maximum capacity and then go to zero in one year, but it does give one a pretty good idea of the problems we are facing with post-2005 net export capacity.

(EP/E)? Is that like a Hubbert linearisation plot?

I am only looking ahead to about 2020, since that is the planning timescale the UK government is using to start to change things like 'new nuclear' and windmills.

Except that it is forward looking. It's analogous to the standard Reserve to Production Ratio.

Back to the ELM:

Production at peak: 2.0 mbpd
Consumption at peak: 1.0 mbpd

Remaining recoverable reserves at peak: 17 Gb
Remaining cumulative net exports at peak: 1.7 Gb

R/P = 17 Gb divided by 0.73Gb/year = 23 years

EP/E = 1.7 Gb divided by 0.365 Gb/year = 4.7 years

Because of declining net exports, ELM hit zero net exports in 9 years.

The top five (middle case) export numbes are as follows:

EP/E = 100 Gb divided 8.4 Gb/year = 12 years

Our middle case shows the top five approaching zero net exports in 26 years (from the 2005 peak).

So, as a mid-case would it be reasonable to expect total world net exports to be reduced by ~50% by 2020 (in 12 years) - that's ~5% a year decline rate (from 46 mbpd in 2005 to 23 mbpd in 2020.)

By 2020 I am expecting world population to be around 7.6 billion, up from 6.6 billion today, a 15% increase overall - not sure yet what percentage it will be for net importer countries.

Sounds reasonable, but a key point to keep in mind is that the year to year net export decline rate starts out slowly, and accelerates with time, but once the decline kicks in, the volumetric decline rate tends to be approximately linear, i.e., close to a fixed rate per year.

So, if the overall world net export decline really kicked in, in 2007, one might expect the decline to be on the order of 1.5 mbpd per year. The 2006 and 2007 data suggest that the top five are dropping at about one mbpd per year in 2006 and 2007.

The one problem (or maybe I should say refinement) with the ELM, is that the indigenous demand is driven by profits from the exported oil. As the amount of exported oil decreases, the consumption growth -and possibly consumption itself should be affected. Of course higher per unit price might delay this effect. Two more complicating obvious factors exist. If an oil exporting country is smart they won't subsidise local consumption, as local consumption decreases export revenues. Also if the oil exporters SWF does well that can become a major source of funds for domestic consumption.

Who really knows what the future will be?

I would like to know what it can't be - that eliminates some scenarios maybe.

My opinion is that any exporter would not be sensible to export more than is required to balance their imports - they need their oil to last as long as possible.

So, that does not necessarily mean growth of exports of crude oil will continue to be as the importers require for their BAU.

For all the reasons you have mentioned what the future will not include is exponentially increasing population. The peak is now. A very short plateau if there is a plateau at all.

The Saudis' strategy is eminently shrewd. Take away more of Big Oil's value stream, capture those extra tens of billions of dollars in chemicals, refining and plastics profit for itself, and thus extend and expand the life of its cash cow. Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE are doing the same in chemicals and refining. Russia and Kazakhstan are as well in terms of attempting to capture pieces of Europe's downstream power and refining sectors.

In the big picture, it fits into the thesis of Paul Kennedy's classic Rise and Fall of Great Powers: They are rising, we are falling.

Steve LeVine, author
The Oil and the Glory

I agree 100%.

Suadi's ARAMCO bought GE's plastics division a year ago to fit this goal of controlling the market of materials and products made from oil. Much of this internal consumption in the coming years will be for the production of things made from oil. Another industry thus lost by the US and handed over to an oil rich country.

I think Saudi Arabia's move to diversify into industries like plastics and fertilizer is not just a unilateral move on their part; the U.S. companies in these industries are looking to move their plants to where natural gas and oil are still relatively plentiful and cheap. North America is running low on natural gas; these industries can't get cheap gas here anymore. It's a lot cheaper to move the plant to where the gas is, than try to bring LNG here.

Big deal; they'll be lucky to last 10 years like this. A massively overgrown youthful population in the middle of a desert totally dependent on a depleting resource? I don't envy them their oil and I don't see how they expect to maintain this transitory state for long at all.

what the future will not include is exponentially increasing population. The peak is now.

You may well be correct, I agree it will happen eventually, but will it be in the next 12 years (the planning outlook period for my government) - it is not clear how soon 'peak sapiens' could be, for food and water reasons. At the moment it is all down to guesses and opinions - the reason I am asking these questions is to try and see what 'can't-possibly-be' in a bit more detail - what is the best case?

I think, for a while at least, fresh water and agriculture will, if at all possible, get all the liquid fuels and chemicals they need - whereas aviation and long range tourism, as an example, will be at the bottom of the list of people to get adequate supplies of oil.

From the EIA statistics almost every 'net exporting' country is already showing the ELM effect, which is bad enough for 'net importers' (especially those that import close to 100% of their needs!), but then add in the fact that certain parts of the struggling economy will get more than their fair share ... hmmmmm!

I also think that some areas of the world can be self-sufficient in food for quite a while, just like some nations can be self-sufficient in fossil fuels for quite a while.

For all the things that are going to peak, we won't peak everywhere in the world simmultaneously - the trick will be to avoid as many as possible of the peaks coming to a place near you soon!

There are already several countries in the world who are post 'peak oil', watch and learn what the failure modes are - then maybe you will have a viable plan B when it happens to you?

Upthread you mention a guesstimate of 7.6 billion by 2020. So far as I can tell no government anywhere is making preparations to feed 7.6 billion mouths. There are no preparations to make.

I suppose theoretically it would be possible if we ate drastically less meat, if the weather always cooperated, if if if. Do you expect that will happen? Do you think it could happen? No one here knows the future, you just asked what possibilities could be eliminated and my guess is that further population growth is about the least likely event you might plan for.

Or, to extend your comment to a more general truth:

"no government anywhere is making preparations"

France may be going 15 kph in the right direction, when they should be doing 125 kph, but I think thye (and Switzerland) can be said to be making preparations.

On 1/1/06, President Chirac announced plans to electrify "every meter" of the French rail system and "burn not one drop of oil"when completed in 20 years.

In November of last year rent-a-bikes were brought to several mid-size cities. (First half hour free). And the numbers are increasing rapidly in Paris etc.

France has just started work on a new generation of nuclear reactors.

A second Phase of TGV building has been announced (a multi-decade effort) as the last leg of the first phase nears completion after almost 30 years.

France plans for 1,500 km of new Urban Rail (in the next decade ?)

Speeding up existing programs is a much easier, and faster, than starting from scratch.

Their plans may not be fast enough, but they have been working steadily on this for several decades (one could say since 1973) and have a lot already in operation.

Best Hopes for the Prepared,


Yes, France is doing all that.

France doesn't control the weather and France's agricultural output is both sporadic and very much at risk.

France has had it's neck out for years supporting small farmers and local production and it doesn't feed 7,6 billion. Southern France is drying out, the forests are burning and no matter how much one admires France there is just no direction they could take that addresses the problem.

Switzerland is in decline. Their environment is being trashed by GW. Tourism needs oil, tourism needs snow. Switzerland may survive in some form but it won't be pretty.

WT where and when are you talking in Scottsdale?

It's a private gig sponsored by Casey Research:


You can contact them for details.

thx WT I will try and catch them on Monday. Love the work you and everyone puts together on this site.
I am active with ASEA (Arizona Solar Energy Association) out here in Phoenix and ff gets one session every year at our monthly talks.

Hi Peaking in Phoenix
Please send me an email if you would like to help deploy solar powered mobility networks in Tucson. Solar collectors 3 km long and 2 meters wide to provide a Horizontal-Elevator through a retirement community and two shopping areas. bill.james@jpods.com

We would love to have participation from the ASEA. Bill

Amid a forest of cranes, towers and beams rising from the desert, more than 38,000 workers from China, India, Turkey and beyond have been toiling for two years in unforgiving conditions…

Wait a minute, wait a minute, doesn’t Saudi have one of the highest unemployment rates in the world?

Current unemployment is an estimated at 30 per cent for men and 90 per cent for women, and increasing at alarming rates. Forty per cent of the population is younger than 15 years old.

And with 40 percent of the population under 15, it is going to get a lot worse. So why are they still importing massive amounts of foreign nationals to do their work?

Well I lived there for five years and I know the answer very well. Also I have a relative who has been there for the last 17 years and we talk about that exact problem often. Well, more correctly we laugh about the problem often. He, this relative, is part of the “Saudiazation” effort. That is the effort to transfer Aramco jobs from foreign nationals to Saudi citizens. Needles to say it is not going very well.

Why? Well last time I talked about that on this list I got slammed because of my “political incorrectness”. I will just say that their culture simply does not allow it and will never allow it until their culture changes dramatically. Culture simply does not change that dramatically, not in just a few years anyway. And in Saudi culture is everything.

Ron Patterson

Let me guess.... they pray too much.

Cryptex, I posed a question and then answered it, I thought ,very effectively.

The point is culture is a very charged subject. You can talk about culture all you wish as long as you talk about the positive things about a culture. But just mention a few very pernicious things about a particular culture and you will immediately be slammed as a racist or worse.

So Cryptex, if you did not like my answer, and I did give an answer, please tell me what you dislike about it rather than giving such a sarcastic reply as you did. After all, it is a very serious question and deserves to be treated as such.

By the way, where can a woman get lashed because she was a rape victim?

Ron Patterson

The details are little vague, but my recollection is that there was a notorious incident during the 1990/1991 Persian Gulf War in which a Kuwaiti princeling was partying in London and allegedly stated that he was having a good time while his American slaves took Kuwait back from Hussein.

Actually, to say that most Saudis don't choose to work doesn't have to be perceived as pernicious. It just is. Our culture is so much into the protestant ethic that we tend to perceive the situation in an extremely negative light. When the oil runs out, their culture may have to change somewhat unless they have had the foresight to make other arrangements.

I've been pondering just this issue through the morning today. We, as a society, are going to have to come up with some positive meme associated with working less. Men in our culture draw so much self worth from what they do for work that I think we're going to have huge troubles when whole sectors just vanished.

Are we a "semi retired society" ? Is there another way to say it?

This will only work if we're all in the same boat and we find positive, low energy activities to fill our time ... I'm thinking kids at the park with dad as I write that :-)

Full-retarded society on the verge of becoming semi-retired.

Yes it's insane how so many find self-worth and personality from what they do. It's as if they didn't exist without their jobs. Hollow shells.

Criticize it all you want, but its a fact here - those of us who go standing up define ourselves by our occupation. I've been doing a little experiment in this area over the last seven years or so. People say "What do you do?" and I dodge in various fashions, testing their reaction. Some times I'll deadpan "I'm a bank robber." Other times I'll talk about hobbies or other interests. When I was still married my status conscious state university business college assistant dean ex wife and I would be at functions and when people asked I'd say "Oh, I work for a little communications company." She'd invariably have to chime in about the fact that I'd provided the startup funding and that I was the architect for the operation.

Its all a question of focus. I'd like to see this wind to ammonia thing go here, producing a clutch of local jobs and perhaps even funding my extravagant lifestyle (hot showers in the morning!) so when I get that question now I say "I'm a wind energy developer", despite the fact that 100% of my income over the last decade has been network infrastructure and related activities.

Despite my tendency toward feminazi snark, I reallize that our infrastructure was the hard work of mostly male hands.
Work isn't bad, but the endless persuit of stuff and status can blind both men and women to other values.

I don't get why people seem to think that having less oil to work for us will lead to more leisure. Of course, self definition is a slippery thing, I'm clear a mother and a housewife, but I could say I'm a writer (I have been paid for that) or a watercolorist (I do that a lot) or a technical support person (I've done it and I'd like to do it again)

Even within paid jobs, husband says sometimes that he's a statistician and other times that he's an epidemologist. Both are aqccurate and less inflamatory than saying he's a Republican and an environmentalist (again both true)

Americans are, on the whole, not very 'street smart'. Consequently, Americans are not very good at getting up every morning, walking down the road, seeing an opportunity to make a buck and taking advantage of it. For too long many Americans have been accustomed to being employed at a 'job' that requires no thought outside the knowledge needed to perform their assigned tasks at 'their job'. Average Americans have left the hustling to an 'enterprenurial class' or 'business class'.

A wake up call is coming. Average Americans are going to find opportunities in trade, short term or 'odd' jobs, repair work, service work performed for those that still have something of value, and a zillion other niche areas. There is nothing like being cast upon ones own wits to bring life into very sharp focus. Who knows, maybe the guy that has been putting lug nuts on new cars for umpteen years will find being left to his own devices to hustle a living will make him feel 'alive' again.

In the early post-peak years the need for manual labor to build new non-oil infrastructure combined with the collapse of many other areas of the economy will drive a lot of people toward much harder work than whatever they are doing now.

Picture motor home designers, SUV design engineers, SUV salesmen, boat mechanics, lawyers, manicurists, social workers, and assorted other people working instead:

- in wind turbine factories,
- as wind turbine installers,
- as solar panel installers,
- as insulation installers,
- as bicycle repairmen,
- as scooter repairmen,
- as nuclear power plant welders,
- and other occupations in the non-fossil fuels energy industries.

In the same vein such beliefs contribute on some level to the way we tend to look down on Europeans, who get months of vacation time and actually use it. We think there's something inherently wrong with that. I know people who get 3 weeks vacation a year and are loathe to use it.

If TSHTF here there are many deeply ingrained American cultural tenets that have been in place for generations and they will be a high hurdle to get across. Happy Motoring is only one of them. When the core belief system of a nation has been in place for generations, and is threatened by forces and events beyond our control and borders, denial and anger are sure to play big parts in the denouement.

We forget that these sacred American tenets have not been in place for many generations, but perhaps two generations. We didn't start the happy motoring really until the 1950's. The freeway system started in the late 1950's. I grew up in a one car family until about 1966. My father took the bus to work at the University rather than deal with an onerous parking situation. These cherished beliefs will probably not be easily surrendered, but we may adapt better than we think.

Actually, to say that most Saudis don't choose to work doesn't have to be perceived as pernicious.

Not "choosing" to work is not pernicious only if you are able to leech a living from others. Work is what earns your daily bread and unless you have some method of getting bread without working for it, you will simply starve.

But you guys are trying to make it far simpler than it really is. Except for a few date farmers around the oasis Saudis never farmed. They were either Bedouins or merchants. They were primarily camel herders but also had many goats and even a few horses. The Bedouin class was the highest class and they did not regard herding as working. (Though by any stretch of the imagination it really was.) What they did not do is manual labor.

What most people do not realize is that there is a whole segment of Saudi society that is truly poor. I mean poor and hungry. When I was there in the early 80’s there were only about 7 million native Saudis. Now there are over 20 million. When I was there it was common to see women begging in the streets. They were mostly widows or older women that never married. I assume that today the problem is much worse. I also saw a lot of Saudi men trying to sell trinkets in parking lots.

By the way, there is no such thing as life insurance in Saudi. They consider it “making a wager against the will of Allah.”

Ron Patterson

There are probably 20 million people in the U.S. that believe natural disasters, like Katrina, are visited on us by a vengeful God to punish us for not adhering to "the book". The good news is they constitute less than 10% of our population. The better news is they don't have enough votes to put the Huckster in the White House.

As for Saudi, do the dirt-poor share the disdain for work, or is there a shortage of opportunity? I would think they are not qualified for a lot of the work mentioned above due to a lack of education and experience. Lots of poor disaffected people with very dismal prospects whose government is run by ultra-rich royalty living lavish lifestyles sounds like the perfect breeding ground for, well, malcontents and terrorists. People with real grievances who lash out and latch onto whatever "the cause" is because it gives them something to live for, even if that something is infamy. They're very susceptible to brainwashing. But then again, those factors are not widespread in America but we have plenty of our own brainwashed masses here, too. They're just brainwashed by different people for different purposes.

As for Saudi, do the dirt-poor share the disdain for work, or is there a shortage of opportunity? I would think they are not qualified for a lot of the work mentioned above due to a lack of education and experience.

That is a typical comment from someone who hasn't a clue as to what Saudi society is like. There is no shortage of opportunity or shortage of qualifications for the vast majority of jobs that Saudis refuse to do. Perhaps nine out of ten expatriate jobs in Saudi are menial labor jobs. They are filled by Bangladeshis, Filipinas, Indians, Yemenis, Pakistanis and people from several other countries.

There are perhaps four to five million such jobs filled by these foreign nationals. ANY Saudi could easily do any of them. But they will not, their culture simply does not permit it.

And as far as technical jobs go, there are perhaps half a million such jobs filled by foreign nationals. Some Saudis fill these jobs very well. Others could fill even more but there is the problem of Wasta: The Hidden Force in Middle Eastern Society. That is people with wasta get promoted and those without wasta do not get promoted. Skill and competence have absolutely nothing to do whit who gets promoted, only wasta matters. As a result most of the technical jobs available are filled with incompetent people and the competent people never get promoted.

Ron Patterson

As usual , all the world is here:


About 21 million native population and over 5 million expatriates.

A very young population as well.

About 21 million native population and over 5 million expatriates.

Right, and only perhaps half a million of the jobs filled by expatriates are highly technical jobs. The rest are labor jobs that any Saudi could do, or learn to do in a few days. Saudi could put a huge dent in its 30% unemployment if only they would do manual labor. But of course no Saudi would work for the wages paid to most of those expatriates.

Ron P.

But of course no Saudi would work for the wages paid to most of those expatriates.

Now is an 'unwillingness to work' for 'such wages' a cultural or simply an economic issue?

Thanks, Ron. I think it is important to note cultural differences when discussing any aspect of life/work/politics/etc... in other countries. We would be foolish to view the world through our own eyes only.

"......competent people never get promoted"

bush must have an excess of wasta. we can probably conclude that he is a wastasavant.

a true wastafarian, he is ...

or a wastawabbit, whatever that is

As a result most of the technical jobs available are filled with incompetent people and the competent people never get promoted

Whereas in the USA, when it comes to management or politics this never happens.


You didn't answer it at all. You hinted at an answer but I have no idea what you're talking about since I did not see whatever comment you alluded to that resulted in what you perceive to be backlash for not being politically correct. Whatever. My sarcastic tone was fueled by my perception of whining on your part. A faulty perception, perhaps, but there it is.

Your "answer" that the culture will not allow change until the culture allows change is nonsense. It might make sense to you but for those of us without the benefit of context, it's gibberish. You know that I know that you know that I know that you know that I know that you know what I'm talking about.

I explained it above, read it. I cannot however explain Saudi culture. Culture is not something that lends itself to simple explanation.

Too many people judge other cultures in the same light as their own culture. That is a serious mistake. Westerners simply do not understand the importance of social position in Arab cultures. Most Saudis would rather die than be seen doing manual labor. True, a tiny few are not so proud but most are. A Saudi would rather drive ten miles on a flat rather than change it himself. "Let a Yemeni do it" would be his reply. Westerners do not understand the importance of "saving face" and they sure as hell do not understand wasta.

A side note. I found it curious that Yemenis were regarded as the lowest of the low by the Saudis. Even though the Yemenis are also Moslems that seemed to make no difference. Even Christian Filipinas were treated better in Saudi than Yemenis.


In the UK we have an expression - 'only fools and horses work!'

KSA is very hot - best to leave the physical work to the slaves and expats.

You may be on to something. Historically slavery and slave labour flourished in hot climes. Arabia, ancient Greece, Rome, Africa, the US South etc. Working was so unpleasent in the heat you had to force other people to do it.

So was it the Saudis or Noel Coward who said that 'Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the Midday Sun' ?

Probably the Saudis. My mobile phone only worked outside in Riyadh last time I was there - have you ever had to conduct a meeting in 50 degree C heat and no shade? Not good for an Englishman used to 10 degrees C I can tell you!

For whatever reason, the Saudis choose not to work and apparently feel it is beneath them to work. I don't think this is necessarily a value judgement; it is just a fact. Given a history of seemingly unlimited wealth garnered with a relatively small effort, and seeing that this has become a fact for generations, I would think that any "culture", even one with a protestant ethic type history would soon come to the position that working is just plain stupid. I don't have a problem with that. Compared to most jobs, there are much better things to do with your time than work for a living. If you can get other people to do the heavy lifting without putting them into slavery, then go for it.

Work is way overrated, especially in our culture. Remember when Bush praised that woman who was forced to work three jobs to take care of her family? Uniquely American, he said. What an ass.

Adam Smith envisioned a life that would include more leisure because of the invisible hand and technological advancements. It never happened. Too bad, because this is the greatest source of our destruction of the environment and the hastening of the day of peak oil and beyond.

Too bad, though, that the Saudis' culture apparently includes the need to have lots of children. Much like the Mormons. More rights for women, I presume, would help this situation.

The US also uses the argument that "there are certain jobs Americans are not willing to do" - i.e. farm workers, hotel maids, etc.

Just the way Americans like Mexicans to do the difficult/unpleasant and poorly paid jobs in construction, restaurants and farming, the Saudis like foreigners to do the difficult/unpleasant jobs in construction, oil etc.

The Saudis are descendants of a long line of traders and desert-pirates. The whole idea of getting told by a superior what to do is anathema. Anyone who has lived there will have noticed that they don't mind driving for a living - though most taxi drivers are Yemanis!

The Saudis are descendants of a long line of traders and desert-pirates. The whole idea of getting told by a superior what to do is anathema.

Nicely put, and more power to them! And this attitude has (literally) Classical antecedents in our own culture ... there is a Socratic dialogue where Socrates suggests that one of his old mates takes a job as a farm overseer, to which the man replies 'I just couldn't stand being a slave.' Yes, for the Greeks taking paid employment was about the same thing as being a slave ... you can see why we don't consider those people amongst our greatest intellectual forebears for nothing!

The Greeks knew that only saps work for a living, and we know it too, in our heart of hearts. In fact, despite our supposed Protestant work ethic BS, we lionize people that don't work. Donald Trump works? Get real. It was correct for the Saudis to draw a distinction between herding and working. We make similar distinctions ourselves, as do all other cultures. There is no such thing as 'work' in the simple sense, and historically 'work' has generally been despised. The whole idea of 'being someone' is to get some other sucker to do the 'work'. Even (hell, especially) Americans should understand that.


So congratulations, Darwinian. You've just converted the whole TOD community to closet admirers of Saudi Arabia ... perhaps not what you intended with that post, huh?

Americans who want to import and hire cheap immigrant labor say "there are certain jobs Americans are not willing to do".

Americans who live in areas which do not have a lot of cheap immigrant labor do those jobs which Americans supposedly will not do.

Take away the Third Worlders and the white folks will collect trash, wash dishes, build houses, and all the other manual labor jobs.

"Take away the Third Worlders and the white folks will collect trash, wash dishes, build houses, and all the other manual labor jobs."

Those aren't tough, menial jobs. I don't hear of Michigan(7.6% unemployment rate) natives migrating to Arizona to pick lettuce (which pays above minimum wage).

Interesting. We should blame the illegal immigrant problem on Michiganders. If they would only relocate then there would be no need for immigrant labor, and the problem of illegal immigration would end.

While Republicans talk a good game when it comes to the illegal immigrant problem, the fact is that most businesses that employ illegals on a regular basis are Republican and support Republican candidates. The business class Republicans - the moneycons - want the illegal laborers here regardless of what they say in public to appease the base. Which makes them more hypocritial than the Democrats, but only slightly.

IMO...the problem is not the pay, nor the nature of the work. The problem is that farm work is usually temporary. Nobody wants to work for only a few weeks a year, then move on to the next crop if there's an alternative. Even the illegal immigrants prefer fast food jobs if they can get them. They may pay less, but you can settle down, send the kids to school, etc.

When my dad was a kid on a farm in the Imperial Valley in California, they solved the temporary nature of picking fruit by simply paying enough for the fruit tramps to take nine months vacation every year. He is still in touch with one girl (now a grandmother) from those days. Her family just goofed off after the harvest.
Pay people fifty dollars an hour to pick tomatos and they will. My dad made three dollars an hour in the packing shed when he was fourteen. When three dollars an hour was enough to pay a mortgage on a house.

Take away the Third Worlders and the white folks will collect trash, wash dishes, build houses, and all the other manual labor jobs.

I love how you lump carpenters with dish washers and garbage collectors. Typical cubicle monkey mentality, if you get dirty and sweaty during your job it must be inferior.

I'm lumping together inaccurately?

Here in Southern California I watch Hispanics do:

- trash collection
- dish washing
- brick laying
- roofing
- laying foundations
- many other manual labor jobs
- lawn mowing and gardening

Are you telling me I do not see this? I see it from my cubicle. I see it walking thru neighbors. I see it in restaurants when I get a glimpse into the back areas.

These people are doing work so that the owners of capital can pay less for labor.

This is another example of socializing costs and privatizing profits. We pay for higher crime, lousier schools, more social programs, more prisons, more police so that capitalists can make more money.

No you’re seeing it, but you miss the point of my post. The point is that when you treat the skilled trades like the unskilled ones, you wind up with only unskilled labor. The contempt of the “professional” class for the working person allowed this to happen as they stood by while workers rights and protections were whittled away.

I think it was my parent's generation (I was born in '52) who wanted their kids to be "Better" off then they were. We(my generation) was pushed to go to college, Get a Good Job/career, Not do manual labor.

It was the promotion of the idea of having your kids get that good job you saw on TV. It just went haywire and became an end to it's self.

I have done everything from Putting on hot-built up roofs(when it was in the 90's) and shoveled snow off roofs to put on shingles, put on aluminum siding while -3F outside, Worked in a casting plant pouring 4140 stainless. I remember saying to myself looking at those guys in 3 piece suits in cars WITH air conditioning, When I'm 50-60 I want a job INSIDE looking out at the weather.

I have been a Systems Programmer/ Data Base Arch for the last 25 years. Now I'm going back and want to have a small produce/organic farm...

My mother always used to taunt me by asking me if I wanted to be a ditch digger. When I was young I did not have the discipline stay in school so I took up a trade, and became very good at it gave me a good living. I just turned 54 and the aches and pains are too much to work the long hours I used to, but I still work at a speed that amazes many of the younger carpenters. I tried switching careers a few years ago after going to school (did extremely well and earned a couple of degrees), but the sawdust was in my blood and I went back to cabinetmaking/carpentry. At least the skills should serve me well post peak. They are serving me well on my farmette now.

That ditch digger business is universal for the Depression Baby generation - I'm just forty and my parents were always on me about that - "If you're not going to do your homework we can go out and practice ditch digging."

It's kind of ironic as to how many ditches I'm digging now. As soon as the ground warms up I've got to dig a trench to prepare for 100 more asparagus crowns I just ordered. The torture never stops.

Good one Bruce, I call it my "beast of Burden" mode, I seem to spend much of my time hauling things around, stack the fire wood, haul the firewood in the house, cut the firewood, split the firewood.

This year add in shovel the snow, and then do it again, rinse & repeat. Spring brings garden prep, as you say. Always expanding and mostly with hand tools. There is always a pile of dirt somewhere that needs to be moved one wheel barrow at a time. It can get very Zen, constant motion, working the whole body, breathing clean fresh air, braking a good sweat. Course now that I'm nigh onto that 60 mark I do my Zen just a bit slower.

I'm the kind of guy, who when I was building the house and had the septic system put in, to save money I backfilled it by hand. Serious Zen.

I've dug exactly one ditch in my life, about twenty five years ago, and the asparagus we planted is still producing. That was the one official "ditch digger training" event I can recall ... must have been fifteen or sixteen and getting on my parent's nerves :-)


My high school graduate construction superintendent father who supervised large road construction projects and spent long days, weeks, months, years of his life with grader operators, pan operators, yuke operators, etc always wanted me to "learn to work with your mind so you won't have to work with your hands". He could do multiple skilled trades. He didn't want me to do end up doing one even though he taught me engine rebuilding and assorted other skills. (and now I write software and lead others doing software)

But we don't only have unskilled manual laborers. If we did then the skilled manual labor jobs wouldn't get done. Yet these jobs do get done.

Workers rights whittling: I think low trade barriers and low immigration barriers were the cause of that. I think we ought to stop the low skilled worker influx and then wages of manual laborers would rise.

The problem is skilled manual labor jobs are getting done, but with not much skill as the emphasis today is on making a buck as fast as you can and as cheaply as you can. Without the scaling back of labor laws such as “closed shop” rules, right to work laws, lax enforcement of maximum and minimum hour laws, overtime rules, the ability of employers to hire illegal immigrants would have been not nearly as great. This is an area I studied in law school. It is not just the enforcement of immigration laws but labor laws, and the repeal of worker protection laws, especially those that favored unions, that made it possible for the wholesale hiring of illegal labor. Why do you think Republicans stressed the repeal of worker protection, so they could hire Americans at a low wage? By getting rid of the regulatory regime they had an open field to get cheap labor. Just blaming immigration and trade (very significant) per say is not recognizing all of the factors of the situation.

This whole concept of "illegal immigration" will largely go away no matter who is the next President. The reason the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill is not being implemented before the election is that it is too contentious of an issue. Most of the current illegal immigrants will pay a $2000 or so fine to stay and get a Z visa. They will be then be "legal" (with a path to a green card), pay taxes, and be covered by minimum wage laws and the universal health care plans. A border fence won't matter at that point, because "legal" immigrants will be able to take a bus or plane across the border after getting their visas.

Yes, bruce, they lump skilled trades with dishwashing and that's why they have the shoddy throwaway homes they have.

I sweat in the fields every chance I got from twelve until eighteen and then I did another year as a research assistant in a corn mycopathology project after I got to college. Those jobs "Americans are not willing to do" were hotly pursued by my generation, because earnings >> allowance. I don't understand what changed in this country but I'd be perfectly pleased to see it go the other direction. We've got a young man who just turned eleven and next spring would not be too soon for him to be spending half days picking rock on the hilltops with other kids.

I think what changed in this country is that too many people today feel physical labor is beneath them and undignified

Here in Australia the "tradies" often make more than doctors. $100k a year would not be unusual once you get to master builder status or have your own plumbing or electrical business.

Not suprisingly, surveys have shown that many girls dream about marrying a carpenter or a bricklayer - the image is that they are tanned, fit and healthy from outdoor work, run their own business, make good money and are likely to own a big house at a young age.

I suppose our attitude down under is that it is not undignified if you are making good money.

That's true here, too. My dad has a PhD and is a research scientist. His brothers are plumbers, general contractors, auto mechanics, etc. They always had a lot more money than we had.

That argument lacks the next part "for the poor wages we pay."


its all about the money. you show up demanding $15 an hour for a job, someone else shows up and offers $6 for the job and will do it faster and cheaper than you. You have just been undercut, and you can't possibly carry on a positive lifestyle when when your wages just dropped 50%. But this other guy started with nothing and $6 sounds pretty good to him, so he is offered the job. The employer just saved 50% on labor costs. Guess who the employer is going to pander too next time he needs a job done? Besides the employer knows the craftsmanship in the trade is not up to par with the way it used to be but who cares? he just saved a bunch of money and is looking at profits only.

so no its not that we americans wont do the job, we just wont do the job because the pay is too low.

besides laying brick is a good skill to have, same with roofing and other building trades.

What if China floods the markets with geologist who will work for 15k to 25K a year. Heck, they don't even need medical insurance, don't you think the oil companies would start pandering to them? For sake of argument would it be fair to say americans will not do that job too, when the oil companies won't hire an american?

SAs 'seemingly unlimited wealth' is not 'trickeling down' to a vast number of Saudis. The per capitia income link below shows the Saudis are ranked 34th among nations and have a per capita income similar to Poland, Croatia, South Africa, Argentina, and others...But, far below such countries as the Czech Republic, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Estonia, French Polynesia, and many others.


Hello t,

re: "More rights for women, I presume, would help this situation."

Looks to be the case.


re: "Work."

Interesting discussion.

We might want to make some distinctions between paid and unpaid work, especially "women's work", eg., childcare, food preparation, cleaning, sewing, etc.

Let me guess.
The same reason we export many of our jobs?
It isn't just about cost.

Lookout to Captain: Captain, gigantic iceberg, dead ahead!
Captain to engine room: Full speed ahead, lookout says clear seas as far as the eye can see...
Engine room to bridge: aye, aye, cap'n full ahead!

Wow! I had to rub my eyes when I saw the article on Rabigh. I did some work there in the 80's on the original project. It certainly didn't look anything like the artists view in the article :)

When I was in Saudi the population was around 8 million, living mainly in a handful of cities and towns. I believe it is now some 20+ million. No wonder their consumption is rising.

It appears to me that they have a strong incentive to help keep the financial sector from collapsing here in the USA.

They do not want the demand for oil to go down.

If the price triples and demand falls by half I don't think they care.

What you suggest likely represents the thinking of many both in SA and USA.
But that is a formula for a much less stable world and they will have to care.

A friend of mine does contract programming.
"If I double my prices and lose half my business, I'm now doing half the work at the same income."

That's true if you have a monopoly, or a near-one, but doesn't apply for most industries. For the oil industry, it likely would work just fine.

Well, they have the money to hire the best consultants in the world, and have access to all their data, so it follows that if they will be restricted in the amount of oil they can export the difference can be made up exporting finished products that have more value added.

What can you tell me about Schulenburg TX that isn't on the Chamber of Commerce website?

How big a family would a 25 acre farm (with a possible addition of 35 acre more) sustain in that area?

Do they have a homestead law? As far as exempting land up to a certain value from property taxes?

What can you tell me about Schulenburg TX that isn't on the Chamber of Commerce website?

They have this tour of old churches ... oh but that is on the CC website.

Schulenburg is in the east Texas plains, it gets regular rainfall from the GoM. Stuff grows there, when we toured the place a few months ago, we saw grass and cattle on the farms there. A 25 acre farm would probably do pretty nicely for a normal family. It was settled by Czech and Polish immigrants in the 19th century.

Texas has an agricultural exemption, you can get tax relief on all but, I think it's 2 acres, around your house. The ag exemption used to be pretty loose, so for example on some businesses around Austin they have a handful of longhorns running around (if they have a large front yard). Mostly as watchdogs (longhorns are territorial!) but I'd bet they also earn an ag exemption for the business. I think it's still pretty easy to qualify for one.

Get ready to hear a lot more about Scottish Widows.

ouch! here we go


Panic selling shuts £2bn fund


The odds of an intermeeting rate cut are getting higher everyday.

Even Monday is a contender at this point. Many analysts poo-poo'd the stimulus package as 'too little, and way too slow'.

Helicopter Ben is going to figure out MANY more ways to drop money from the sky.

Stagflation, Reflation, then *gulp* hyper-inflation-depression.

And, we thought the PO scenarios were ugly...would you like a global economic crisis with your long emergency,sir.

Someone from HSBC (I think) on Bloomberg the other day said that "liquidity crisis" was a very appropriate name for what was going on. Made me wonder if had a crisis in any particular liquid in mind :-)
(And yes obviously I know liquidity has a specific financial meaning)

As I pointed out elsewhere this financial crisis is exactly what the Hirsch Report predicted.

Any link or documentation for the assertion that Hirsch predicted this financial crisis? Seems like a stretch to me.

While it is recognized that high oil prices will have adverse effects, the effects of
increased price volatility may not be sufficiently appreciated. Higher oil price
volatility can lead to reduction in investment in other parts of the economy,
leading in turn to a long-term reduction in supply of various goods, higher prices,
and further reduced macroeconomic activity. Increasing volatility has the
potential to increase both economic disruption and transaction costs for both
consumers and producers, adding to inflation and reducing economic growth

Hirsch report, page 61

Thanks. As I suspected. Hirsch said there would be economic impacts from oil price changes. It seems to me to be completely inaccurate to claim that "this financial crisis is exactly what the Hirsch Report predicted."

A "reduction in investment in other parts of the economy, leading in turn to a long-term reduction in supply of various goods, higher prices,and further reduced macroeconomic activity." does not appear to have very much in common with the current situation.

His point that higher energy prices will push up other prices and impact enconomic activity over the long-term does seem accurate. I am not attacking Hirsch or this conclusion. However, I doubt that even he would claim to have foreseen the current episode.

The price volatility of oil while higher in dollar terms for the past two years is about the same in percentage terms as in the previous two years. As the price increases, generally the percentage variation stays about the same. The actual dollar amount variation usually increases with the price increase. Markets frequently behave this way. Therefore, I see little effect from the increased dollar volatility. If it were a percentage volatility increase, I would change my mind.

That seems correct. I just played around with the Brent and WTI daily prices from EIA (http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/international/Crude1.xls). It appears that in percentage terms volatility is not showing any pattern of increasing.

Expressed as standard deviation as a % of average price, the volatility for Brent and WTI over the past five years is

2002: 10.6%, 11.0%
2003: 7.7%, 7.3%
2004: 12.2%, 11.8%
2005: 10.4%, 10.3%
2006: 8.4%, 8.0%

I'm not sure why Hirsch would have referred to volatility, when price seems to support his argument better. Also, volatility in this case refers to the spot market is by far overstates the volatility of the prices actually paid.

So let's just leave as: Hirsch did not predict this exact financial crisis.

He also talked about higher oil prices directly

Higher oil prices result in increased costs for the production of goods and
services, as well as inflation, unemployment, reduced demand for products other
than oil, and lower capital investment. Tax revenues decline and budget deficits
increase, driving up interest rates. These effects will be greater the more abrupt
and severe the oil price increase and will be exacerbated by the impact on
consumer and business confidence.
As illustrated in Figure IV-2, oil price increases have preceded most U.S.
recessions since 1969, and virtually every serious oil price shock was followed by
a recession. Thus, while oil price spikes may not be necessary to trigger a
recession in the U.S., they have proven to be sufficient over the past 30 years.

Hirsch report page 28.

I dunno if he predicted this crisis exactly, but he seems pretty close to the mark as far as I can tell.

Hi Jack,

Wasn't it Deffeyes who talked about volatility? And I don't remember exactly why he concluded it would increase. (Do you know?)

re: Your numbers. It kinda looks like "more volatility in the volatility percent" :) ? Actually, no. But interesting that it fluctuates like that.

2. The United States
For the U.S., each 50 percent sustained increase in the price of oil will lower real U.S. GDP by about 0.5 percent, and a doubling of oil prices would reduce GDP by a full percentage point. Depending on the U.S. economic growth rate at the time, this could be a sufficient negative impact to drive the country into recession. Thus, assuming an oil price in the $25 per barrel range -- the 2002-2003 average, an increase of the price of oil to $50 per barrel would cost the economy a reduction in GDP of around $125 billion.

If the shortfall persisted or worsened (as is likely in the case of peaking), the economic impacts would be much greater. Oil supply disruptions over the past three decades have cost the U.S. economy about $4 trillion, so supply shortfalls associated with the approach of peaking could cost the U.S. as much as all of the oil supply disruptions since the early 1970s combined. The effects of oil shortages on the U.S. are also likely to be asymmetric.

Hirsch Report Page 31.

I'm not saying Hirsch specifically predicted sub-prime.

"Stagflation, Reflation, then *gulp* hyper-inflation-depression.

And, we thought the PO scenarios were ugly...would you like a global economic crisis with your long emergency,sir."

And this is what I've been trying to get across.

PO, GW, and Pop Overshoot will never be seen to be the causes
of collapse.

Just like England's Empire Collapsing was/is never seen as the
reason for Oct 1929.

None of them have enough cash on hand to withstand a run. None.

London on Monday is going to rough.

I hope Brown has the wit to do what FDR did on taking office and close the banks. It may be the only solution.

You are correct. We will just simply try the same old "remedies". Just pump more money into the system. Money is magic, so we don't need to worry about no stinkin'PO, GW, and Overshoot. Money, as in the musical Cabaret, makes the world go 'round, so why can't it fix every other problem as well.

That's a perfect opening to post this little goodie I came across yesterday...a hilarious send-up of the Bush admin, where they impose martial law, take all the existing money out of circulation and replace it with "Bush coins" in oil-based denominations...redeemable at your ubiquitous local Halliburton station. Definitely good for a laugh.

Bush coins

Hey, these would go nicely with my BushWipes

Chump change
Chimp change

The comments on that video are depressing. Where are all these people who think that the country is in wonderful shape? If they belong to the tiny elite that actually is financially sound, they'd have better things to do than people like me, like attend their private box at the Met or go skinny-dipping in the Seine.

The financial markets (international) have been in a PANIC state for better than 6 months now.

Some think it good that they are 're-capitalizing' so soon, but I differ...it's because they are BROKE already...and that ISN'T good news!

Just a reminder for those that still trust the banks, they don't have your money...they only need to keep a fraction of your deposit. (Fractional reserve is less than 1% today)

If a bank run starts, you will have access to LESS than $200 in TOTALITY. Then its gone POOF.

And the FDIC, is woefully under capitalized to sustain such an event. Another 50 bucks a person or so. Govern't bail out you say...sure if you like hyper-inflated firestarting paper.

This is why it prudent to keep some cash under your pillow, and other commodity/trade items.

I've been pelted with money this month and I'm hunting around for a good place to buy circulated silver coins, but there is a such a premium until you get to the $4,000 mark. I would put $500 or so into the stuff, but I don't want to pay $0.66/gram when spot price is $0.57/gram. I wish there was a good place to buy in $100 lots ... $100 today, not $100 silver coin face value :-)

You could try forums such as http://goldismoney.info/forums/ and ask around. I don't invest in precious metal, but I used to cruise these forums years ago for peak oil info pre-TOD. WARNING: lots of conspiracy stuff here.

Looks like APMEX is the one - $64 for a roll of fifty dimes? That is 64/112.5g of silver = $0.57/gram which is right around spot price. I'll get an order placed tomorrow :-)

there is only 3.615oz in the 50 dimes. right now the spot is 16.08/oz. it's about 11% over spot.

Remember that:

1 troy oz = 31.103 g

for precious metal weight calculations


1 avoirdupois oz = 28.35 g

for other weight calculations

I've had good luck hunting for small lots of silver coins on ebay, but then I spend entirely too much time on ebay. Here's the secret: look under US lots or rolls, memorize the current value of a roll of silver dimes, quarters, etc, and then scan zillions of auctions to find numbers approaching those key figures. A few months ago I scored a plastic tube of 50 uncirculated '64 dimes for I think $37, plus a few $ shipping, when it was worth nearly $50. With quarters and half dollars the key figure is $100. You can also gamble on 1965-1970 40% silver halves, which often sell at a discount to melt value. I've done that a few times. I'm just not clear on how people will regard a 40% silver or 50% gold (the ol' Franklin Mint special) coin in a post-collapse world with no crucibles.

Eventually I decided I had to have some gold just for my ego, and scored a 1/3 guinea (7 shillings!) British coin from 1817 for under melt value, and a Statue of Liberty set (half-eagle gold & silver dollar = about $215 melt) for $196. They've gone up since then. But gold is too hard to pull off.

Part of the aforementioned secret is that if a gold coin or silver coin is small enough to be cheap, it gets bid on by people who just want to have it for its own sake, and driven above melt value. If it's too big, it gets bid on by the rich, who have the sense to look up its value. So the best deals always seem to be 1/5 to 1/4 ounce gold coins, and silver lots of about $100. If I didn't have to hang on to most of my money for repair bills, I would have used these principles to get a lot more gold before it went up too much, but now I think it's due for a brief pullback depending on how bad the recession is. Silver looks better, but I'm still nervous about metals replacing my conventional savings no matter how shaky the banks get.

Consider going down to your local bank and buying two bricks of nickels ($200/brick) and $100 in pennies.

Easy to "cash out" in US currency (as long as properly packaged) and good intrinsic value.

A nickel has 6.2 cents worth of metal in it today, a pre-1982 penny (some 1982s as well) has 2.3 cents worth and a 1983+ penny has 6/10ths of a cent of metal.

During the German hyperinflation, the minor coins kept their value. Change for a silver mark coin could be given in bronze pfenning.

Not perfect, but low transaction costs.

How many nickels to a silver dollar I wonder ?


Best Hopes,


True, but if they start hyper-inflating then your $100,000 stash under your pillow is still only going to buy you a month's worth of food. Granted, the $250 you get from the FDIC is worth even less, but it's a serious problem either way. That's what makes it so scary: nobody knows how bad it really is. Cranking up the printing presses seems to be a foregone conclusion since there are no bubbles around to re-inflate at the moment.

The stimulus package:
(1) Raises the federal budget deficit & the National Debt
(2) Ultimately adds to the trade deficit by continuing to outsource all production
(3) Does nothing to lower interest rates.

The US Treasury will have to borrow more money at these high rates to finance those federal checks.

The Fed is not printing money, cash is tight in the system.

The added interest burden on the Federal debt is going to destroy the economy. The rates must go to zero now - otherwise the debt keeps exploding. At $9 trillion and the 5% the US treasury claims they pay in interest, annual interest payments are $450 billion, expanding fast and far exceed the budget deficit.

What is the Fed up to? If they do not cut fast and deep a depression is coming. All IM (not so humble) O :-)

Many economists do not believe the data coming out of the BLS (Bureau of Labor Stastics) and the BEA (Commerce Dept Bureau of Economic Analysis). If you read the link below you also will have good reason to doubt the published numbers for CPI, GDP, Employment, PPI, Inflation, etc.

Can We Trust the BEA Data?
by Ronald R. Cooke
The Cultural Economist
Author, "Oil, Jihad & Destiny"
January 17, 2008


'In another life (circa 1962), I was an auditor for AT&T. Nothing spectacular. Mostly cash and property reviews. Then some business process analysis. It was my good fortune to have two older gentlemen as partners. They graciously decided to teach this green college kid how to be a good auditor. It was a great learning experience. One of the tricks they taught me was called the “reasonable test”. If the data under audit was within the parameters of like data from other audits, then it was reasonable to assume there were no problems of procedure or management. If, on the other hand, the data did not seem to make sense versus circumstantial criteria, then it would be reasonable to assume further audit investigation was warranted. This technique of measuring the quality of information has become a cornerstone of my work ever since.

'In early November, 2007, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) announced the United States had achieved a third quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 3.9 percent. That number was later updated to 4.9 percent. Those numbers set off my “reasonable test” alarm. How, I wondered, with an accelerating rate of inflation and declining economic activity, could the United States turn in such a stellar performance?

The BEA’s report flunked the reasonable test.'...snip...

Ok. I like my economics simple, uncluttered, and straight. Assuming the credibility of the BEA current dollar estimates, let’s deduct my alternative CPI from the BEA data to estimate economic performance.

BEA Q3 2007 vs. Q3 2006 GDP in Current Dollars

TCE CPI-U Q3 2007 vs. Q3 2006 Dollar value inflation

“Net” increase in Q3 2007 GDP

Using this methodology, could one conclude America’s economy posted a modest performance in Q3 2007? And by the way:

which number reflects contemporaneous comments on the economy:
the 4.9% gain in GDP reported by the BEA, or the above estimate of 1.28%?

Last February, I projected America would fall into a recession by the end of 2008. To be honest, I believed our economy would turn negative in the fourth quarter of 2007. But the economy has remained remarkably buoyant. We appear to have avoided a recession in 2007 because:

1. Government spending continues to inflate the economy;

2. Higher food, fuel and commodity prices inflated GDP;

3. Unemployment tends to lag GDP and the rate of inflation; and

4. The world is awash in speculative cash.

Unemployment, which has increased dramatically in the financial services and home construction industries, will be followed by higher unemployment in all economic sectors during 2008. That is a given. Cash infusions from offshore resources have found their way into American financial instruments, investments, and markets. This has (temporarily) inflated economic activity. But these anomalies only serve to mask the America’s economic challenges.

When the BLS and BEA numbers for Q4 2007 are published, they should show a year over year increase in inflation and a decrease of GDP. By my methodology, inflation should exceed 5% and GDP should be neutral or negative.'...snip...

'GDP is one of the most closely watched economic statistics: It is used by the White House and Congress to prepare the Federal budget, by the Federal Reserve to formulate monetary policy, by Wall Street and the media as an indicator of economic activity, and by the business community to prepare forecasts of production, investment, and employment. Because of its extremely sensitive business and political ramifications, reported GDP (current or chained) needs to be accurate, unambiguous, and trustworthy.'...snip...

'In God We Trust. All others need an occasional audit.'

Without agreeing or disagreeing, the main problems remain:
(1) Interest rates are too high and are leading to an explosion in National debt ($9 trillion and growing at >$450 bn/year compounded)
(2) high interest rates are making it attractive for foreigners to manipulate their currencies and park their money in US treasuries.

We cannot consume more than we produce forever. Treasury debt is out of control.

Low interest rates will mean
(1) Decling dollar, so Americans must produce more of what they consume.

It will enable Populations of producing countries to participate in the fruits of their labor, via more local consumption of what they produce.

Just how long should 300 million people continue to consume the world's production. This benefits no one.

chemE, you're kind of all over the place with that post. The one thing I think you got right is that "We cannot consume more than we produce forever." But the alternative to consumption is savings, and interest rates are already too low for savings.

The bit debt problem is not the public debt, which is still less than GDP. It is private debt, which is larger than public debt and soaring. The reason private debt got out of control is that interest rates were dropped below the rate of inflation, and stayed there for a long time. That encourages borrowing and discourages savings. You can't run a banking system without savings, and you can't have low interest rates forever without inflation, unless you create a depression to go with it (and then you don't have the means to get out of the depression).

An even bigger problem, for the world as a whole anyway, is that Japan has 0.5% interest rates. That allows it to keep its domestic depression going, the yen cheap, and exports booming. But it also allows people to borrow money in Yen to invest in you-name-it around the world. This has created a global derivatives market of over $680,000,000,000,000. And yes, that's the right number of zeroes; the derivatives market is pushing a quadrillion dollars, and all of that is leveraged out the wazoo on cheap loans from Japan.

What we need right now is a restructuring of the global economy that reduces debt level, encourages savings, and gets trade more balanced. Recessions usually serve that purpose, but we've let this mess fester for too long, I think, for a recession to be enough.

1. Japan needs to raise interest rates to a realistic level to stop inflation.
2. Japan needs to push wages up domestically
3. The US needs to slash its military budget, probably by 50-75%, to bring the budget back into balance.
4. The US needs to raise interest rates to reasonable levels to control inflation, shore up the dollar, and encourage savings. If we don't shore up the dollar, we will pay MORE in interest rates to pursuade foreigners to buy US debt; interest rates on bonds are set at auction, not by the Fed, so it is entirely possible for the Fed to lower rates and for bond rates to go up, when you trash your currency). If we encourage savings, then American citizens could start buying some US debt, and we wouldn't have to go hat-in-hand to China, Japan, Russia, and Saudi Arabia to loan us money.
5. The US needs to push wages up domestically.
6. The US needs to shore up its social net, because it is going to get a lot of use
7. The US needs to stop pushing off the day of reckoning, bit the bullet, and go into an economic slowdown that has the seeds of a recovery built in, not one (like Japan's & Britain's in the late 19th century) that lasts for decades, floating on a sea of cheap debt.

I'm not sure all those things are possible, and some of them might even be mutually exclusive in the short term. However, I think if most of that doesn't happen, the world is in for a very rough time for a very long time (which incidentally will both delay the onset of peak oil induced economic chaos, and make it much harder to deal with it when it comes).

It is too late not to prevent the economic chaos. Our government and our financial system has not only screwed the pooch, they cooked it, ground it up, and fed it to the bears.


My thoughts,

1. Interest rates are set at auction, but the Fed can bid on those auctions and force those rates down.
2. The Fed should be made answerable to the people - perhaps to the House which is elected every two years and is therefore closest to the people.
3. The Great Depression was caused by tight Fed fiscal policy, as is the case today.
4. I think that saving via investment in productive assets is better for society than investment in risk free treasuries. That will be encouraged, when that risk free interest is low.
5. The Fed has sucked the system of all liquidity. Cash is very very tight and that is why US assets are on fire sale.
6. The subprime blow-up was caused by financial institution employees getting greedy and bending and twisting rules to issue these mortgages and associated securities. All that mattered was the next bonus. The only way to fix that is to dismantle the FDIC. Let the depositors police the banks that they deposit in. Right now no one cares because the Feds will make you whole and it encourages risk taking by the banks.
7. Tibet, prior to its conquest, had a very low military budget.

I invite you to have the last word!

Too low interest rates are what caused this mess. It can't be fixed by dropping rates to zero. At most it will keep the Ponzi scheme going a little longer, but the cost will be an even worse crash when it comes.

Dropping rates to zero will be a disaster. The British did this in the 1870s, and the resultant depression lasted almost 30 years. The Japanese did it in the 1990s, and their domestic depression is still going and getting deeper all the time.

If the problem is involvency caused by too much debt, as ours is, dropping rates to zero does nothing to fix the problem. That is why the depressions from such a crisis last for decades: they aren't caused by high interest rates, and lowering interest rates does nothing to fix the problem. Worse, it makes fixing the problem immensely harder.

What we need to get out of the current mess is savings, and to increase wages. No one saves when rates are 0, and no one saves when there wages are going down in real terms at the same time as necessities are going up.

BTW, the rich in Britain and Japan did just fine in their long depressions. It is the working class that is crushed, as money flows increasingly to the very top of the pyramid, and all other levels collapse towards the bottom.

You have made a lot of Statements. However, you have not explained why any of those statements are true.

I have given two specific examples of countries that had problems with too much debt, and who lowered interest rates to zero or near zero. When they did that, it did not cause their economies to rebound. They went into depression and stayed there for decades.

Interest rates in the US are currently below the rate of inflation. I think you need to explain how lowering them further is going to help anything.

You seem to think the public debt is horrific at $9 billion (I agree, but for different reasons). However, debt service is a smaller percentage of the GDP and a smaller percentage of the budget than it was during the Reagan years, and much smaller than during the early-mid 1950s.

US public debt is financed by issuing treasury bills, notes, and bonds. The interest rate on those debt instruments are set at auction. In other words, the bond might be for $10,000 face value, with interest coupon payments at various intervals. The government then asks bond buyers how much they are willing to pay for such a bond. When inflation is low the bonds will sell for more money when inflation is high, thus causing the implied interest rate to be relatively low. When inflation is high, or when the dollar is expected to decline in value, bond buyers are willing to pay less for the bonds, and the implied interest rate is higher.

The interest rates on US public debt are set ENTIRELY by the expectations of bond buyers of (a) inflation, (b) decline of the dollar, and (c) probability of default (also, to a lesser extent, (d) what they can get on other safe investments). The interest rates on US public debt have nothing to do with the various rates set by the fed, at least not directly.

Indirectly, the Fed can affect the cost of US debt. If the Fed sets interest rates too low, bond traders will expect high inflation and a declining dollar. They will pay less for Treasury bonds, and interest rates on them will go up. You will have a situation in which short-term interest rates in the US may be low, but long-term rates are high. Since most of the US public debt is held in long-term notes, it is entirely possible for the Fed to increase the cost of debt service by lowering interest rates.

As to the other reason you gave for lowering rates, that "money is tight". Money is tight because (a) people are defaulting on loans, (b) banks are afraid of future defaults, and (c) banks do not know what other banks or coroporations are holding too much debt (i.e. they don't know if the people they are loaning to are solvent).

If a bank is insolvent because it has $30 billion in assets and $40 billion in bad loans, for another bank to loan money to it is a bad idea, whether it loans at 4.5%, 3%, or 0%. This is why dropping rates in a solvency crisis does not help. The bank is involvent. It needs to restructure and get back on its feet, or it needs to be acquired by a solvent bank, or it needs to go out of business.

This is the difference between an insolvency crisis and a liquidity crisis. Lowering rates helps in a liquidity crisis. It hurts in a solvency crisis.

Recessions are a natural part of the business cycle. They are necessary to allow debt levels to be reduced, and to allow better-run companies to move forward on a more sound footing. Trying forever to prevent a recession by lowering interest rates prevents an economy from cleaning out the dead weight and becoming more efficient, and it makes the inevitable downturn that much worse when it finally comes.

The thing about interest rates bieng insufficant was the original reason Keynes formulated his general theory of relieving depressions using fiscal policy.
The British deflation lasted till 1896 when prices started recovering. In that period though despite falling prices GNP increased by over 50%. The recessions when they happened though were horrendous.

America did just fine out of British policy. We got the people after the British paid to raise and feed them. We cheerfully put them to work on the frontier.
We need a frontier.

"Space...the final frontier..."

Sorry..couldn't resist that one.

As usual, this "crisis" is one where all the blood is draining from all the politicians' heads. Has anyone considered the likelihood, that the multiplier effect from taxation reduction or simply giving people money has decreased over the years? In essence, we will be giving a large part of that stimulus to China and others.

A society facing resource shortages, energy shortages, and global warming needs to change from a consumer society to an investment society. Don't just simply give that money away but make sure it is invested in something that will actually have a long term benefit. Like insulation and solar heating, for example.

Hillary Clinton, for example, appear to recognize that energy problems and GW problems are an opportunity, not just a negative. You would think she would be all over this.

This is all a big crisis because our hallowed GDP numbers might actually shrink. The reality is, however, that the lower and middle classes have been in a recession for decades as their incomes have not kept up with inflation. The bulk of great boom we have seen over the years has gone to the wealthy. We are all in a tizzy now because even the wealthy might be affected by the subprime meltdown, etc.

A longer term frame of reference beyond the next quarter or next year would be appreciated.
But nooooooo!!!

"A society facing resource shortages, energy shortages, and global warming needs to change from a consumer society to an investment society. Don't just simply give that money away but make sure it is invested in something that will actually have a long term benefit. Like insulation and solar heating, for example."

This paragragh sums it up, invest in energy efficiency, reduce energy imports and lower the trade deficit. To invest properly in energy saving measures we need a master plan which the US sorely lacks, we have an economy based on increased consumption.

A MODEST PROPOSAL by Peter Schiff (Satire)

The Government could distribute millions of "Economic Stimulus Cards" to citizens, which could function more like retailer gift cards rather than debit or credit cards. Here's how they would work:

When the government wants a quick, fast stimulus, it authorizes expenditures on the cards which can only be used for consumer purchases and only for a set time frame. Knowing that they must use or lose their newly authorized funds, Americans will run to their nearest retail outlet and spend, spend, spend. The beauty of the system is that the consumers will spend exactly how much the Government deems necessary. What's more, the government could decide to direct the spending to specific areas of the economy that it deemed particularly strapped. For example, it might target specific types of merchandise that may be purchased or particular retailers where those expenditures would be authorized, with the political benefits being the icing on the cake.

When the economy has been sufficiently stimulated, the government could leave the cards idle with no purchasing power.

Just like the current Food Stamp cards.

cfm in Gray, ME

Has anyone considered the likelihood, that the multiplier effect from taxation reduction or simply giving people money has decreased over the years?

I have seen numbers to that effect - can't remember where. Something like the stimulus provided by an additional dollar has fallen more than an order of magnitude [from one end of the chart to other - can't remember the dates.]

cfm in Gray, ME

That might explain why the massive increase in private debt did not stimulate the economy the last 8 years as much as I expected. Where did all those home equity loan dollars go?

Not this house.Mrs.Snuffy and I have decided any "stimulus"will go directly into whatever gold coin I can lay my hand on.I like the buffalo/warrior head on the us mint 50$piece.Alot

I thought maybe they'd try timing the inter-meeting rate cut to coincide with the State of the Union Address on Tuesday. That would mean Tuesday or Wednesday morning.

I don't have much, but what is there is being turned into a mix of paper and junk silver ... very, very scary times.

People can't even imagine what's coming, they didn't want to listen to Stoneleigh because it didn't fit their agenda.


You can read this thread, paying special attention to Karen (Nothing). Language warning.

I have a female friend with close to $60k in life insurance money in the bank from her husband's death benefits. She vacillates about purchasing gold, despite the fact that over the last six weeks owning gold would have paid her mortgage for the whole year. The excuse? "I need that money to pay my mortgage."

Maddening, simply maddening ...

When I sold my building in Chicago December 1995 I debated whether I should put the money into gold and wait a while before purchasing my "lifeboat" property. It was just under four hundred dollars at that point. Oh well.

If your friend is planning to keep the house, maybe she should consider using the money to pay down the mortgage now. With the risk of banks putting limits on withdrawal, she may not be able to access the $ later.

I just got a panicked call from her - she has $49k in one big name Midwestern place and she can get $5k by wire and the rest has to come by standard mail check which takes five to seven business days. She sounded like she was about to cry ... fingers crossed now that she can get clear of all of this.

We are a LONG way from shut-down of the banking systems.

The RTC would take over management of failed S&Ls and keep the best run of them going for years as they wound them down and "failed" them a few at a time on 3 day weekends.

All account holders over $100,000 were called ahead fo time and "suggested" to reduce their balances.

Banks only "fail" on weekends, and preferably 3 day weekends.

Now is not the time to panic.

Best Hopes,


Wow, what a thread!

I read the whole thread and understood nothing.
So I went to Youtube which usually provides great educational videos about everything between Mentos fountains, perpetuum mobiles and financial markets, and found this,
Mortgage Backed Securities parts I-III and Collateralized Debt Obligations
Very educational for an idiot like me.

Then I re-read the thread above.
Looks like we're into some serious shit. Really.
The thread mostly talks about US financial markets but I have a strong feeling that most financial institutions in Europe, if not every single of them, have their fingers in this huge mess.
Thanks musashi!

they didn't want to listen to Stoneleigh because it didn't fit their agenda.

Well where, if anywhere, is Stoneleigh doing now what used to be done here?

Musashi, interesting site. Some people are beginning to see just how bad the situation is and how little the US Fed and Treasury can do to remedy it.

Stoneleigh...If you are reading this thread dont forget what Red Green said: 'Remember I'm pulling for you, we're all in this together'.

In SA loadshedding for other southern Afrcian nations-background information:


The beleaguered utility, which generates 95% of its electricity for local use, exports surplus power to Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe -- countries that will now no longer be fed from South Africa's troubled grid, the report said.

Speaking to Business Times on Friday, Eskom's chief executive Jacob Maroga said export power was reduced whenever South Africa faced a shortage -- but added that local consumers needed to save as much as 20% of consumption to ease the problem.

Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland, which are also supplied by the parastatal, face partial cuts in their supply as the power company tries to alleviate the effect on South African consumers

Eskom has also warned that the power failures will continue in the week ahead. South Africa's peak demand has reached 36 700MW, while Eskom is able to supply 38 500MW.

Maroga explained to the newspaper that to cope effectively with this demand and for the power cuts to ease, Eskom has to shed 1 500MW and build a reserve capacity.

This reserve, designed to cater for unexpected surges in demand, is internationally kept at about 15% of total demand. Eskom's has been reduced to about 8%, which is insufficient for reliable supply. Power cuts are needed to prevent the system from crashing.

As part of its more than R720-billion plan to increase capacity over the long term, Eskom is in talks with two international nuclear power giants to boost the generation capacity at Koeberg. It is also planning to build new nuclear power stations.

I looked up SA's GDP and found USD 576.4 billion for 2006. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_South_Africa

Growth will be stunted if no new energy supplies come on line- none planned till 2013- with a strongly growing population. We can assume the same for Pakistan with its Purchase Power Parity GDP of USD 475 billion.

I think, seeing as how load sheding/blackouts are becoming a global phenomenon it would be in order for a general paper on this subject related to how it is hemming global growth potential in 2006, 2007, 2008 and in future years etc. would be in order. This could be similar to the PO/ELM forecasts and might be even just a side effect of the lack of fuel thouhg not necessarily as we see in SA the problem was mismanagement and corruption which led to no new plant builds, as they have lots of coal down there.

Nice write-up on the future Prius plug-in.

Prius plug-in displays battery of good points

Toyota says the plug-in will go about 7 miles on battery power only, before switching to regular gasoline-electric hybrid mode.

Uses no gasoline in battery-only mode.

Regular Prius hybrid rated 48 miles per gallon in town, 45 on the highway 46 in combined driving.

Plug-in test car recorded 71.3 mpg in a 4-mile route that included a short, fast freeway section.

The drive depleted the plug-in battery, so fuel mileage would have begun dropping fast in additional driving as the gasoline engine cycled on during normal hybrid mode.

Does anyone actually think that the average American is going to plug in their car after every use for 7 miles? Why would Toyota bother?

They don't expect everyone to drive on battery all the time, but if you are just running about in town on short hops, then at least part of the trip is battery-powered and emission free.

Hey...I see this as a incremental step in right direction until others are dragged along.

"at least part of the trip is battery-powered and emission free." Don't you mean "potentially emission free (depending how the electricity was generated)"? I think the implicit question was: how many of the car trips that you do are less than 7 miles between locations where you could recharge? Assuming you don't have a recharge point (where your car can be parked for the recharging time) where you work, you're only pure electric if you live less than 3.5 miles from work. In which case why are you driving to work?

What's worrying is that it's not clear that there's solid reasoning about why 7 miles on batteries means this is sustainable in energy and environmental terms, rather than just a "you can keep your car! look, you don't need to think about it deeply" message.

It's like that old bit of wisdom, to those that have more will be given.

I have been waiting for this. I live 4 miles from work and don't even drive to get THERE. 75% of my trips are definitely within 7 miles. I already own a Prius and vowed I would not buy another vehicle until it was a plug in. Also, the electricity I get is from a program that provides 100% of my electricity from wind energy.

I'll tell you, once you get on this road it gets easier and easier. My energy bills have never been as low as they are today.

Sure why not? I would. I already know enough to plug in my cell phone, and my palm. Not to mention my laptop and Ipod. The plug it in to recharge mentality is already well established.

Don, you're a better man than I am not to forget. I often forget to plug in the cell phone, but maybe that is because I look at them as a curse rather than a blessing. Rather than properly plan a project, people fly by the seat of their pants and wind up frantically calling on the cell phone to try to put out a fire their own laziness started. For my tool batteries at work I guard against forgetfulness by having a dozen batteries and three chargers at home. Even with the four I carry on the jobsite I often have to borrow a co-workers drill/driver to get the job done when I’ve run out of juice.

I just make it a habit to plug in my phone when I go to bed. Until that point of time, the phone is in my pocket. If you make it a habit to plug in your car when you get home, it's a good thing. If you forget to plug in your car, you get lowered gas milage, but not stuck. While 7 miles on battery only is pathetic, it's a step closer to where we need to be. I prefer to take baby steps instead of waiting to teach the baby how to run flat out.

"I prefer to take baby steps instead of waiting to teach the baby how to run flat out." But there's a fundamental question here: you've seen other people's babies grow up into walking beings, so you know that it's worthwhile to spend the time on lots of incremental baby steps because running is possible. But to extend the analogy, how do you know if you've got a baby human or a baby sloth (that'll never go beyond a its initial baby step speed)? In terms of empirical arguments or evidence?

As is probably obvious, my belief is that the 1 person driving to and from work in a hatchback (US: station-wagon) sized car for the entire working population is probably not sustainable in terms of future total energy availability. Certainly, it would come below lots of things on my priority list for energy usage.

For those of us living in small towns, that is quite feasible. My daily commute to work is only 2 miles each way, and my weekly trip to the grocery is only three miles each way.

Unfortunately, because I am using so little gasoline already, the savings from fuel efficiency would not even begin to cover the payments for a new PHEV. Maybe in four or five years, when some used vehicles are available.

The plug-in's advantage, of course, is mainly for short trips. Duh! If one primarily used the car for long trips, one might actually end up worse off. Even for this very modest PHEV, the additional weight is 220 pounds. So the non electric portion of a long journey would probably have lowered gas mileage that would cancel out the savings for the short trips.

For someone who needs just one all purpose car, maybe this is the way to go. Otherwise, I think it might make more sense to get a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle for short commuter type/shopping trips. Or ride a bike, take a bus/trolley/street car/light rail for that matter.

Toyota also said in this article that for the average consumer with the average of utility mix of coal, etc., the greenhouse gas savings would be very marginal compared to a hybrid. Is this reality, or are they trying to poo poo their own product. I am not at all sure that Toyota is really all that enthused about a PHEV future compared to just improving the existing hybrid.

I agree. Per my post above, since I live in a small town and most of my driving is short-range, I'm already using very little gasoline, and thus have very little potential mileage savings to cover a car payment. I can get an NEV for $6-12K, which is considerably less than the price of a Prius. I would probably keep my conventional small, good mileage ICE car for the occasional longer trip. Because there are so few of those, there aren't enough dollars to be saved from better gas mileage to cover the payments on a new car.

I seriously distrust those numbers. There are two vehicles that have been discussed. Toyota has a handful of plugin demonstrators, which simply have two metal-hydride batteries, but they claim the commercial plugin will use LithiumIon battery. The published specs look to me to be those of the demonstrator vehicles 2.7KW-hours is two Prius Ni batteries. I don't trust journalists to get this thing right.

I agree, that going to the trouble to plug in to save .15 gallons would seem to be a bit much to ask. Here in Northern California
which you would think would be prime marketting territory for such a vehicle, the consumer benefits of the plug in seem dubious.
If I get 7 miles for 2.7KW-hours, that saves me roughly $.50 at the pump. My marginal cost of PG&E residential power is roughly $.25/KWhr, which means I would pay more for the extra power than for saved gas (at $3.50/gal). As PG&E billing is progressive, the more you use the higher your marginal rate, most consumers would be paying $.35KWhr. Clearly in at least some markets the economics won't favor the plugins.

Plug in milage needs to be better differentiated. A smart buyer would want to know: plugin only range, and city/highway milage without benefit of plugin energy. The more robust electrical system likely improves the later numbers, but until we are given carefully obtained numbers we won't know.

I average 53-55mpg in my 07 Prius, but I drive far more economically than the average driver.

I normally average 42-45 mpg in my 2000 Civic HX, but I've gotten as high as 50mpg with it. (Driving like an ass, though.. Slow, and drafting semis.)

Your electricity is 3.5x what it is here in Arkansas... Usually it's $0.09 to $0.10 per kwh. My house is all electric and our electric bill averages $90/mo, and that's with 3 people in the house. (So, I pay a third of that.) Granted, the cheap price for electricity doesn't encourage conservation here... :/ A shame.

I normally average 42-45 mpg in my 2000 Civic HX, but I've gotten as high as 50mpg with it. (Driving like an ass, though.. Slow, and drafting semis.)

I've found that by simply taking a US Highway at 45-55 mph on my occasional trips into a nearby city (Asheville) rather than the Interstate at 60-70 mph gives me considerable better mileage. While the "slower" route usually takes a few minutes longer to get to my destination, sometimes not; sometimes the Interstate is backed up due to some sort of wreck, while traffic is sailing along on the less congested US Highway. Idling in a traffic jam does nothing good for one's mileage either.

Folks are asking good questions about the new Toyota plug-in Prius.

We need to have conversations about electric transportation as compared to ICE powered transportation.

I recently purchased a Zap Xebra PK for use here in Minneapolis, MN. I'd been using pedicabs and cargo trikes, and my wife has a Honda Civic Hybrid.

My legs were getting too achy after 7+ years of heavy load-hauling with pedals, and the after looking at a variety of options, I decided to go electric.

But going electric means mostly going with coal and nuk-ya-lur poer. Sure, one can sign on for one of those "green power" deals with the utility, but IMHO the utilities are taking in plenty of cash this way and delivering very, very little in the way of green power in my part of the country.

The utilities seem to have a reason to balk at actually installing and using wind and solar, every single step of the way. Not good reasons, mind you, but tied-to-big-coal-and-nuclear reasons. But I digress.

Two key topics I'd like to hear about from engineer-types and others here are:

1. Does electric power actually reduce overall transportation emissions, even given our current over-use of coal?

A point I'd like to make on this first subject. Zap claims that even after counting emissions from electric generating plants the little electrics yield a 98% reduction in emissions over ordinary ICE cars.

If so, that's a really big deal!

I understand that most of the energy contained in gasoline is converted to heat and exhaust fumes, and we run our ICE cars on what little is left over. Is that correct? Does ayone know how much of the "combustion" really does work for us rather than being lost to heat and smoke?

Is the electric motor so much more efficient than the ICE that it reduces emissions enough to make up for being powered largely by coal and nuclear?

2. Is a move toward electric transportation wise simply because we can then move to Greener and multiple sources of the energy we need -- for example, more solar and wind and "other" over the next few years..?

I want to note that ZAp sells a solar panel as an option with its Xebras. These panels will not suffice for everyone's needs for an NEV, but they do help.

In addition, one could install a solar or wind source at home to power the little electric vehicle plus maybe one's (ahem!) electric cordless tools. This is my plan, if the economy staggers along long enough for me to be able to afford it.

So it seems to me that the multiple sources of electric power could result in lower pollution and a more resilient system.

As a caveat, I think that we really get stuck into rigid and brittle systems when we do too much in just one way. Multiple strategies can maybe be more effective and more resilient in times of crisis.

Thoughts on the topic(s)...?

Is a move toward electric transportation wise simply because we can then move to Greener and multiple sources of the energy we need -- for example, more solar and wind and "other" over the next few years..?

Yes. To me there are two big incentives. One is that electric motors are much more efficient than the ICE. See Tables 4 and 5 at the link: http://www.electroauto.com/info/pollmyth.shtml

Second is that electricity can come from such a large diversity of sources. Yes, it's coal now. It can increasingly be solar, biomass gasification, nuclear, wind, geothermal, etc. There just aren't too many liquid options, and different liquid fuels may require different engines.

RR- thanks for that link!

I read it over and bookmarked it.

This reinforces my sense that electrification of much of our transportation will be helpful.

Multi-modal transportation with an emphasis on walking, biking, electric NEVs, electric transit, plus inter-city trains sure does seem like the way to go.

The Zaps run on standard batteries -- nothing fancy.

If Zap could find a way to do lithium-ion, the range would go up to around 150 miles per charge.

As a mechanical engineer I know these figures for power production efficiencies. Ancillary power losses make ICE vehicles even worse than these figures.

Coal fired power plant 40% - then subtract off 5% from net for line/transformation losses

Combined cycle gas fired power plant 60% - same as above

Gasoline ICE 22% Take off another 20% of net for losses due to transmission, accessory loads, cold weather warm up, etc.

Diesel ICE 30% - same as above.

Diesel locomotive 33% overall chemical to tractive effort efficiency - this is net power to rail.

With the best overall North American wind resource in North Dakota and South Dakota (according to USGS and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) I am very surprised Minnesota power companies are not interested in wind energy. But then power companies are in tight with coal producers, RR coal haulers, and coal power plant builders.

This is good for short trips. But that's the problem. If you only make short trips you probably don't rack up many miles per year.

If you make many short trips a day this still isn't terribly useful. What's the recharge time?

Plus, who wants to drag a power cord up to their car once or twice or three times a day?

Actually, it all depends!

What is a short trip? What is long?

Most urban folks make trips under 6 miles over 90% of the time IIRC.

Plugging in is no big deal at all for me. I do work for other people who live mostly within 5 miles of me -- I think I have one client outside that radius. The city provides me with a hunderd thousand potential clients right outside my door.

So, this vehicle in its present configuration works very well for me and my family. It is my primary, daily-used work truck now.

There are many folks who are looking at Zenns as well as Zaps for local "NEV" use here in town. Great for shopping or other trips.

As battery tech improves and sales of the electric vehicles increases, these NEV vehicles will become easier to purchase and more versatile.

Okay, the whole Naples garbage thing has got my goat. It illustrates why I'm pessimistic when it comes to dealing with the challenges ahead - namely, peak oil, climate change, water shortages, and peak grain.

Apparently, the garbage in Naples started piling up some 14 years ago, when the landfills were nearly full. A recent strike by garbage collectors left an opening for the Camorra Mafia, who now control garbage collection. According to a Sunday morning news report, the Camorra make even more profit - to the tune of 9 billion euros annually - importing toxic waste to the city.

The Italian state and the European community are faced with a dilemma, the organized crime in Italy generates huge sums of money. The three major mafias have a turnover of 100 billion euros a year.

The small-business federation says organized crime is the biggest business in Italy — it accounts for 7 percent of GNP. This means that in an area where no one invests, organized crime is a major provider of jobs and controls votes.

Saviano says this means that one-third of Italy is in the grips of organized crime and condemned to a permanent state of underdevelopment.

To state it baldly, human greed and short-sightedness will win out over rational thought. We can talk and blog 'til the cows come home about noble intentions and rational solutions, but we can't overcome the tragedy of the commons. Simple human nature is our undoing. It's built in. We are designed to do what we're doing and that's that. We are Top Dog. No other creature can challenge our supremacy. We have arrived, in all our glory.

Forget the cows coming home, you and I will get to see the chickens come to roost.

Organized crime has a strong hold on the US economy as well. We just call them multi-national corporations here.

Organized crime has a strong hold on the US economy as well. We just call them multi-national corporations here.

Just so.

Postscript: I apologize for the doomer rant, but I feel better for having vented to those who may understand. This is not to say that I have changed my stance, however.

So the options are:
1. Fix the problem.
2. Prepare for crash, of unprecedented scope and magnitude.
3. Run away, to a remote area. Tuktoyaktuk, Patagonia, or Mars.
4. Say "fsck it", go out in a blaze of glory or partying.
5. Lay down, give up.

Hmmm. Any TODers in Patagonia (Santa Cruz)?

Bariloche is much nicer.

Tuktoyaktuk is not a good idea. It's about 5m above sea level, on the Arctic Ocean, with climate-change problems already looming large:



Marco Visscher: Why should we eat insects?

Arnold van Huis: While the world population is growing and our global wealth is advancing, meat consumption is rising dramatically. Currently, 70 percent of farmland is being used for meat production. If this trend continues, it will prove unsustainable. Moreover, livestock is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, including methane and nitrous oxide. Insects have a much lower environmental burden, while their nutritional value measures up to chicken or beef.

...The first time you bite into a grasshopper might be a little 'hard to swallow.' But there are ways to handle this. Insects can be ground industrially so they're less recognizable, just as a filet doesn't really resemble a particular animal. There are some 1,400 edible insects, which can enrich and diversify our food supply.

If Stuart is up to it we could find out if this could be a real solution to our problms as an alternate source of protein, thereby allowing us to bypass the grain=>cattle stage and just eat al the grain ourselves and use insects for protein. Our psychological position on this is alot like the norsemen on Greenland not eating fish an starving to death. Pure stupidity.


8 November 2004, Rome -- Edible insects, like caterpillars and grubs, are important sources of protein and should be considered an alternative in efforts to increase food security in central African countries, FAO said today.


Insects generally have a higher food conversion efficiency than more traditional meats. For example studies concerning the house cricket (Acheta domesticus) have shown it has it is a food conversion more efficient than commonly eaten vertebrate meats. When reared at 30°C or more, and fed a diet of equal quality to the diet used to rear conventional livestock, house crickets show a food conversion twice as efficient as pigs and broiler chicks, four times that of sheep, and six times higher than steers when losses in carcass trim and dressing percentage are counted.

Furthermore insects reproduce at a faster rate than beef animals, a female cricket can lay from 1,200 to 1,500 in 3 to 4 weeks, in beef the ratio is four breeding animals for each market animal produced. Thus giving house crickets a true food conversion efficiency almost 20 times higher than beef.[1]

I think this post spans the scientific seriousness of Stuart to the mad hatterness of Totoneila.

Hurrah we are saved!

Mac Crickets here we come! At the bike through window. I'll have the #7 combo please, One double cricket burger, a side order of fried grubs and a soy shake. Charge it all to my Monsanto Express card!

Comments with excessive excerpts really bug me. You should bee more succinct. Otherwise Leanan may deliver a stinging rebuke. I don't mean to go splat on your windshield of life, but I felt this kind of behavior needs to squashed.

quite right of ocourse but now I see no "edit" beneath my post so I could shorten it. What gives?

Once someone replies, the "edit" option disappears.

The excerpts are rather long. I may edit it for you.

Actually I was just having fun with words, I didn't mean to kill your buzz. I hope my post didn't have to much bite.
(I will now go back to being a fly on the wall.)

Insects are cold-blooded, so they are more efficient with their calories than mammals are. Of course, this extends to reptiles too. However, there aren't too many vegetarian reptiles, but I guess they are next. Personally, I hope we start eating more fungi. *Real* detritovores eat other detritovores!

I used to occasionally ingest a damsel fly or two while fly fishing, and thy are not bad, a little vinegar tasting. I collect and eat fungi on a daily basis this time of year in Norther California. Mushrooms are high in protein, and delicious. The fungi phobia of the American populace makes them even more available. I am horrified at the small number of humans who can forge for food in their local environment.

Foraging for fungi is extremely dangerous unless you really know what you're doing. Far better to start your own mushroom logs and enjoy them in safety! I started some last year, and this year they are just starting to fruit. They should last quite a long time. Cheap and easy, too. You can buy the starter plugs here: http://fungiperfecti.com/plugs/plugs.html

There are only a few mushrooms that can kill you, and they, like destroying angel, are fairly well known. Get yourself a good guide, read some of the websites, and stick to the easily identifiable mushrooms such as morels and puffballs. If in doubt, let it be; and stay away from “little brown mushrooms”. Fungi Perfecti is a very good company. I’ve purchased many of their products and my forested area is showing very good results. I got some shingle oaks and poplars I’m cutting down this week and I’m going to inoculate some sections with Shitake plugs.

A good site:

Here in Oregon, competition from professional mushroomers is probably a greater hazard than toxic mushrooms. We have to be on the ball to get a good chantarelle harvest. Got about 30 pounds this year with assorted puffballs and rusellas. Best strategy is to go mushrooming a few times with someone who knows what they are doing. Your basic apprentice relationship. It's like a treasure hunt and can get addictive.

you are on the money about the pros...its annoying as hell to hit your fav. patch a day after the viet pickers have cleaned off the mountain...

Man, that site makes me wish I had a yard, so I could plant morels in it. Yum...

My woods, and the adjacent property of 100 plus acres of old forest, owned by a retired University of Illinois engineering professor (he developed the internal electrostatic gyroscope), are prime morel hunting territory. Three more months.

Hi ChrisN

I don't think foraging for fungi is particularly dangerous if you take a little time to inform yourself. Household electrical work can also be dangerous...if you are a fool about it. I've foraging plants and mushrooms for years and never had any problems or even close calls.

My experience is that the ignorant imagine that every other mushroom is deadly toxic and identification is a "crap-shoot". The truth is that you have to be ill-informed and incautious to poison yourself.

That said, Fungiperfecti has good products and spawn plugs are a great bargain; why not plug AND forage?

RE: Eating Fungi.

"The fungus is amoung us!"

AS I've mentioned before -- we may be growing much of our edible fungi in vats.


You can depend on Quorn products to always be meat-free and soy-free.
There are believed to be over 600,000 varieties of fungi in the world, some of which are the most sought after foods like varieties of mushrooms, truffles and morels. The principle ingredient in all Quorn products is mycoprotein (“myco” is Greek for “fungi”). The mycoprotein comes from Fusarium venenatum, which was originally discovered growing in a field in Buckinghamshire, England. In the late 1960s, initial product development began, soon recognizing mycoprotein’s potential as an efficient and nutritious protein source. "

Above is from the website:


My guess is that if things get tough, we'll figure out how to grow vats of this stuff from starter kits. Without expensive processing, I don't know how appetizing it would be, but it might be better than going hungry.

Some of the poorer Chinese might be interested in the story posted above about crickets. They sold scorpions and sparrow on a spit in some markets. In Thailand the locals used to go to where there were bright lights at night to collect some bugs that were sold for a profit the next morning.

In the Mideast the Bedouin used to gather locusts into bags and dried them out over camp fires after the locust swarms moved north riding the south winds from the coasts of the Red Sea towards the Mediteranean.

With some pseudo-intellectual types demanding the production of ethanol from low calorie corn to replace high calorie gasoline, it might be useful to hone one's survival skills. During WWII the Federal goverment recommended "Victory Gardens." These were backyard vegetable gardens. My grandfather planted a cherry tree and a tomato garden in his small backyard not far from the grave of Johnny Appleseed.

After Stalin tried state control of the markets and collectivized farms, the agricultural output of Russia faltered. Later reforms allowed people small garden plots. Much of Russia's produce came from private ownerships of small garden plots (potatoes etc.) rather than state controlled ventures.

Much of Russia's produce came from private ownerships of small garden plots (potatoes etc.) rather than state controlled ventures.

It still comes from small private plots and gardens. Most middle class Russians living outside the main cities grow their own produce and many have never seen a supermarket let alone used it regularly. They grow a vast variety of things and often keep their own chickens, goats etc. That is why the Russians are so much healthier-looking and slimmer than Americans and Brits.

sparrow on a spit

my father told me about eating pigeons during the depression.

Put a piece of corn on a small(trout) hook and use a fly rod.
Pigeon Potpie.

btw, where was Johnny Appleseed buried?

Not just during the great depression.....

Never really liked pigeon, squirrel was ok, rabid and pheasant was quite yummy.

Never tried possum or ground hog, dad said they were unpalatable. Wild geese are so tough they are only good for stew.

How about raccoon? Never tried it, but it's showing up in trendy restaurants in Chicago.


I've had both possum and ground hog. Not bad. The thing with possum is to pen it up and feed it corn or other sweet grains for a week or so. They say it 'clears the meat' and I think it does make a difference. I used to joke about penning up the snails and feeding them butter and garlic before turning them into escargot.

Ground hog is greasy and gamey but more palatable than a mature bear, not as nice as venison. Stew a groundhog (in the north they are woodchucks. If eaten they become 'ground chucks' :-)) as you would a squirrel (or several squirrels). Good with biscuits.

Now about that rattlesnake meat....

the norsemen on Greenland not eating fish an starving to death. Pure stupidity.

Ancient Greenland mystery has a simple answer, it seems
Did the Norse colonists starve? Were they wiped out by the Inuit – or did they intermarry? No. Things got colder and they left.

An analysis of the bones of Norse buried at Brattahlid and other Norse sites found that early settlers ate a diet consisting of 80 percent agricultural products and 20 percent seafood; from the 1300s, the proportions reversed.


The article is rather interesting, but fails to mention a couple of points. The Black Death (plague) was slow to arrive in Iceland, but when it did, it killed about half the population. As Iceland was the nearest trading partner with the Greenland colonies, the possible impact of the Plague can not be ignored, if only as a reduction in the vital trade required to maintain the colony. Also, there was a very large volcanic eruption in 1453, which likely produced a few very cold winters, not unlike the well documented "Year Without Summer" which followed the eruption of Tambora in 1815. The repeated freezes in New England forced many to leave and migrate towards Ohio. Since Greenland is further northwards and colder, the large volcanic eruption in 1453 may have finished the colonies off. A third situation not often mentioned was the increased competition with fishermen (pirates?) from England. The small farms would have been poorly protected against marauding sailors, as Europe was involved in "The 100 Years War" over the same period. It is during this period that gunpowder began to replace bows as main weapons.

E. Swanson

The conclusion that the departure from Greenland was voluntary is based, I believe, on the condition in which the houses and farms were left. You do, however, have to distinguish between the two settlement areas, with the Western one being wiped out, though their cattle were still running wild around the place when Bardsson paid his visit in the 1340's.

Edible insects, like caterpillars and grubs, are important sources of protein and should be considered an alternative in efforts to increase food security in central African countries, FAO said today.

That's it, we'll make the central African's eat bugs. I'll bet there's a lot of poor countries around the globe we can force to eat bugs.

As long as WE don't have to eat bugs, we can continue to pretend everything is right with the world.

The willingness to eat bugs may be what means you live or die if things get as bad as many posters around TOD post.

The trick is - what can you feed the bugs that others do not want.

Meanwhile in the real world...

19. Jan 2008 - Elburgon / Kenya - WTN

Horrible reports from Elburgon speak of police and para-military units hunting members of the Ogiek community, whom they allegedly blame for the death of one police officer. Security personnel, however, could not provide any evidence that the Ogiek are involved in this case at all. The officer was shot in the head with an arrow.

Though the Ogiek, one of the hunter-gatherer tribes of Kenya, regularly carry bows and arrows to maintain their marginalized life while collecting mainly honey and wild fruits from the forest, many other peoples living in the area, like Kikuyu, Maasai and Kalenjin have armed themselves with such traditional weapons since the post-election skirmishes broke out in Kenya three weeks ago. After that police officer died in hospital, a manhunt has been launched now to find the culprit, but during the mayhem of the the search in the vast forests around Mariashoni mainly the indigenous Ogiek are suffering from police brutality.

Last night more than 20 houses belonging to resident Ogiek in Mariashoni / Mau Forest were torched and burned to the ground by groups of Kikuyu youth, who apparently did this after the Ogiek had fled from the houses in order not to be entangeled in the police operation. The Kikuyu youth
allegedly receive protection from the security personnel and could launch the arsonist attack against the Ogiek while security personnel was watching.

On Saudi culture: I'm a fan of writer Mark Steyn. He says, in his book, America Alone, that Muslim culture, including the need to have big families, tends to stick with Muslim immigrants, when they go to Europe, and that they don't assimilate European values quickly, and that there are currently 40 million Muslims in Europe, and their birth rates are far beyond the European average, and that there will be 200 million Muslims in Europe, by century's end, and that the native European populations don't have children, and their numbers will plummet to about a third of their present numbers, within this century, which will re-make Europe, to become predominantly Muslim before century's end. If countless historical examples of one human population replacing another, for instance Europeans replacing native Americans, is any indication of how that might go: Good luck with that, Europe.

there are currently 40 million Muslims in Europe, and their birth rates are far beyond the European average, and that there will be 200 million Muslims in Europe by century's end,...

That is more than a little absurd. Europe will be lucky to have 200 million people by century's end. Demographers just take current trends and extend them far into the future, just assuming the current trend will continue. It won't! By century's end virtually all oil and gas, and most coal will be gone. As we are now in dramatic overshoot, I fear by century's end we will be in dramatic undershoot. That is we will be well below the normal human carrying capacity of the world.

We will swing into undershoot because all the skills required for substance living have disappeared. Who can cobble a shoe or weave cloth. Who can gin cotton by hand or who can make a horse drawn plow? These skills will, of course, eventually reappear but it will likely take another century after we hit bottom.

Ron Patterson

These skills will, of course, eventually reappear but it will likely take another century after we hit bottom.

I sincerely hope your timetable is not too optimistic. We could slide into another ice age, and then all bets are off...


A table showing how many muslims in each country. Eyeballing it I come up with less than 15 miilion frankly, unless you count Turkey as part of Europe or the bosnians and Albanian populations where they live in their home countries.


According to the German Central Institute Islam Archive, the total number of Muslims in Europe in 2006 was about 53 million and in the European Union about 16 million

Then in FSU and a few other countries must be 37 million muslims, albanians, Tatarstan, etc.
According to the above wiki page Moscow alone has 1.5 million mulsims, about as many as the UK.


Professor Philip Jenkins of Penn State University estimates that by 2100, Muslims will compose about 25% of Europe's population. But Jenkins admits this figure does not take account of the large birthrates amongst Europe's immigrant Christians.[9]

Europe's Muslim population (without Russia) has nearly tripled over the last 30 years, to about 23 million, and experts predict it will double again by 2020. In 2005, the EU-25 had an overall net gain from international migration of +1.8 million people. This accounts for almost 85% of Europe's total population growth in 2005.[10] Muslim birth rate in Europe is three times higher than the non-Muslim one.[11][12] By 2050, 1 in 5 Europeans will likely be Muslim.[13]

Other analysts are skeptical about the given facts and accuracy of the Muslim population and its growth. The facts behind this theory are that the increase has considerably slowed down due to a sharp decrease in Muslim fertility rates and the limiting of immigrants coming in to Europe which will lead to Muslim population increasing slowly in the coming years to eventually stagnation and decline. Others point to overestimated number and exaggeration of the Muslim growth rate. It is also a fact that projections can not be taken as 100% accurate, they are rather an estimation should current trends continue and are always subject to changing.[2]

So all in all it is just guesswork from the last paragraph.

The Serbs were working on the solution and we (the US) just had to fight on the wrong side, stopping a process that should have been encouraged.

Indeed, good luck with that Europe. You will need it.

We will have to wake up to the problem in the US ourselves. Tons of Muslims here and we're not doing anything about it so far.

In Russia there are four officially recognized religions, Orhtodox christian, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism. All of these have roots going back a very long time so they are accepted. Radical Islam from Arab countries was an export to Europe/Chechnya and not homegrown. Russians are used to their minorities of all sorts.


look a bit down the page there to see a list of all the ethnic groups in Russia. Islam is just a religion and not an ethnicity. Turkic muslims think differently than Arabs or Persians or Mongol/Tatars. Whatever one might think of Russian brutality they have more experience with these various muslim peoples and more hanging on their fate and a successful cooperation.

Western Europe on the other hand is much more like USA, you are right, muslims coming in to previously relatively ethnically homogenous countries in a single wave over one generation from previous colonies or near abroad and not integrating, ghettoized(in Russia on the other hand they have their own states like ingushetia or Tatarstan- out of sight, out of mind).

The backlash could come here in Europe definitely when a depression hits with 20% or more unemployment. Then maybe I, an American, and most other foreigners, could be forced to pack our bags too and leave, if any type of foreigner is considered taking natives' jobs and being an enemy regardless of where you are in Europe. It does not take a pogrom or a nazi regime to make people feel unwelcome.


Above an article in English from an Englishman who has lived in Germany his whole life and doubts whether he is accepted. I suspect this is a problem in lots of places in Europe but particularly where unemployment is high like in Eastern Germany.

Regarding the US involvement in Yugoslavia they got a billion dollar base in Kosovo - Fort Bond. The pentagon knows what it is doing. No bad mistakes here. Racism is not a thing they let get in their way. They cynically manipulate it to maximum advantage.


There are obvious similarities in the nature of US covert intelligence operations applied in country after country in different parts of the so-called "developing World". These covert operation, including the organisation of military coups, are often synchronized with the imposition of IMF-World Bank macro-economic reforms. In this regard, Yugoslavia's federal fiscal structure collapsed in 1990 leading to mass poverty and heightened ethnic and social divisions. The US and NATO sponsored "civil war" launched in mid-1991 consisted in coveting Islamic groups as well as channeling covert support to separatist paramilitary armies in Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia.

A similar "civil war" scenario has been envisaged for Pakistan by the National Intelligence Council and the CIA: From the point of view of US intelligence, which has a longstanding experience in abetting separatist "liberation armies", "Greater Albania" is to Kosovo what "Greater Balochistan" is to Pakistan's Southeastern Balochistan province. Similarly, the KLA is Washington's chosen model, to be replicated in Balochistan province.

Divide and conquer. A cherished colonial principle. Look at the map in the article to see the US hopes for middle East. The smaller and weaker and more divided the better the US corporations/govt. like it as the less resistance to IMF and mulitnationals like coca cola, Nato,etc.

Good Lord, Americans advocating genocide. I really hope you're merely a troll but in case you aren't, do me a favor please? Vote for Ron Paul. We need your opinions to be as marginalized as possible out on the fringe.

Fleam's no troll. He just likes to get your Goat.

I think.

'If you differ with someone, try to walk a mile in their shoes.
That way, you're a mile away from them.. and you have their shoes!'


You also might get their athlete's foot.

Hey, genocide is as American as apple pie.

Americans advocating genocide.

Errr, ya might wanna look at how the nation was formed.

Migration is an adaptive behavior. People generally migrate when they must. Wealthier people can choose to migrate as a preference.

A quick look at the table of contents of Steyn's "America Alone" leaves me with the impression that he is an extreme xenophobe.

Fear or hatred of the stranger, the foreigner, and of people different from oneself becomes more intense during times when we are all competing for too few resources.

Xenophobia is the perfect excuse to imprison, quarantine, enslave, and eventually to kill people. Xenophobia is a necessary part of the fascist narrative which justifies massive, prolonged, orchestrated genocide.

We do have huge problems with immigration -- both Europe and the USA. But these problems are symptomatic of the deeper problems with corporatist (yes, fascist) globalization. Globalization masquerades as an economic phenomenon, and economics are a large part of the process. At its core globalization is a matter of brute force.

Ancient religions often count hospitality extended to strangers as a core positive value. The Bible speaks of this often.

Modern American Christofascism has turned much of ancient wisdom on its head. We are to fear and loathe strangers, foreigners, and those who are different from ourselves.

This alienation makes atrocities easier to commit.

This kind of polarization cannot be reconciled with peaceful powerdown strategies on a global or local scale.

Dare I quote E. O. Wilson one more time!?!? Humans unfortunately have "... Stone Age emotion, medieval self -image, and godlike technology."

It is this combination which makes us unable to reason together and which makes us (so far)an homicidal and suicidal species. The Mass Extinction we have generated will likely be the death of us as we waste time fighting each other to the death over the last scraps of food and energy.

Oh, well. Try to have a happy day. I try to live well, even though our species often depresses me.

Basically the rich get to make their capital more mobile via globalization. But the poor don't get to make their labor equally mobile via emigration. According to Adam Smith, perfect markets require perfect mobility of capital and labor, but what happens when capital is more mobile than labor?

Ah, yes, the "Invisible Fist" putting labor in it's place.
Superstition based economics will always cause suffering.

Mark Steyn is a talented entertainer with a good feel for his market niche. But that's all he'll ever be.

Ben Bernanke goes A Whiter Shade of Pale:

Jim Cramer now owes $50,000 after losing a bet to Eric Bolling. He bet Bolling a year ago that financial services would be the hottest sector of 2007. Bolling placed his money on oil and gold.

Jim Jubak talks about "The next banking crisis on the way".

My money is on a 1% prime cut before the next fed meeting.

Here comes the crunch in state budgets

Bread and circuses from Mr Bush, and "Falling Behind: How Rising Inequality Harms the Middle Class,"

The Bernanke video is fun!

I googled the lyrics to follow along. There are some great moments. Congrats. to the makers of the video.

We skipped the light fandango
turned cartwheels 'cross the floor
I was feeling kinda seasick
but the crowd called out for more
The room was humming harder
as the ceiling flew away
When we called out for another drink
the waiter brought a tray

And so it was that later
as the miller told his tale
that her face, at first just ghostly,
turned a whiter shade of pale

She said, 'There is no reason
and the truth is plain to see.'
But I wandered through my playing cards
and would not let her be
one of sixteen vestal virgins
who were leaving for the coast
and although my eyes were open
they might have just as well've been closed

She said, 'I'm home on shore leave,'
though in truth we were at sea
so I took her by the looking glass
and forced her to agree
saying, 'You must be the mermaid
who took Neptune for a ride.'
But she smiled at me so sadly
that my anger straightway died

If music be the food of love
then laughter is its queen
and likewise if behind is in front
then dirt in truth is clean
My mouth by then like cardboard
seemed to slip straight through my head
So we crash-dived straightway quickly
and attacked the ocean bed

Brilliant!! Whoever put together "The Reflections on Bernanke" to the tune of "A whiter shale of pale" on Youtube sure gets the message across.

And thanks BitterOldCoot for the trip down memory lane (to 1967).

I was only six at the time but my older siblings fancied Procol Harum. Brings back childhood memories:-))

Thanks for posting that little summary Stoneleigh/iLargi I mean Bitteroldcoot.

Re: Drilling in "restricted" areas. This author is under the illusion that destruction of our last pristine areas will help us make the transition to the new energy economy. Yeh, right. Any additional oil, even if somehow garnered in significant quantities, will only permit us to continue our complacency.

Most oil related environmental damage (excluding CO2) results from transportation accidents, not drilling & production.

However, in regard to your larger point, in two areas where the industry has virtually no restrictions on drilling in areas managed by private companies using the best available technology--Texas and the North Sea--the industry has managed to keep the post-peak decline rates down to -4%/year and -4.5%/year respectively (C+C). Note that these are net decline rates--declines from existing production + new wells/workovers, etc.

The thing that always gets me, is that relative to the rest of Alaska, the refuge is so small. If they think that tiny plot of land is going to save the country, they have really drank the kool-aid.


Complacency will not be a problem. If the Saudi production continues to decline this year the problem will be so severe by the time ANWR and American offshore fields get into production that there will be no complacency to be found.

At this point we are so close to the downward slope and the lead time to bring on new fields is so long that we are going to already be in very deep trouble with deep economic downturn by the time, say, Atlantic coast deep water oil rigs could possibly start production.

"Why green power has left us all in the dark" - After reading this entry I tried a little experiment.

I looked out the window and saw all the exhaust from the buidings and pretended they were steam stacks from some renewable/sustainable/infinite energy source. I have to admit the denial has felt wonderful.

Just try it (or don't) for a few seconds. Look out the window and imagine that everything you see was created and is maintained in a sustainable fashion. Try to fabricate a story about how each thing you see is possible because of environmentally friendly processes. It's a real trip! Things like the TV, a can of compressed air or a Swiss army knife are really hard to denialize, so don't worry about getting stuck in la la land. It seems like it's easier for me to do for the big picture rather than looking too close.

Here is a picture from the Economist.

This basically says: Running on biofuels means losing 50 lbs.

Not such a bad idea, when I come to think about it. Especially for all our American friends out there.


Europe could afford to use 10% of its land for sugar beat ethonol. We have a lot of spare land in France, and the new members of Europe. They are all sparcely populated for their size, and with the communist farm system dismantled could be very productive. Though a sugar beat plant near where I live has been closed down, whicch is not hopeful.

You know, when I read this post I flashed on the image of "The Last Supper" - but in place of the apostles were our energy slaves, in the form of SUVs, power boats, motorcycles, power washers, Big screen TVs, washers and dryers and so on. Looming in the background was an airliner, complete with friendly smile, bib and knife and fork.

I have a question about tar sands production. My understanding is that the tar is diluted with light oil to get it to flow better.

If that's true, what percentage of what is pumped as synthetic oil from Canadian tar sands is actually light oil? And is this light oil double counted in production figures?

Thanks :)

The tar sand is mixed with hot water just after it is mined and pumped to the refinery in this condition. When it gets to the refinery the sand is settled out, and the crude goes to the refinery. During this preliminary refining they remove the coke and the sulfur, so that what is then shipped down to the company refineries further south is a sweet crude similar to that which comes from a conventional oil field.

Hello TODers,

Recall my much earlier speculative text on WAIS subglacial eruption, then compare with this breaking news:

Massive volcano exploded under Antarctic icesheet, study finds
47 minutes ago

PARIS (AFP) — A powerful volcano erupted under the icesheet of West Antarctica around 2,000 years ago and it might still be active today, a finding that prompts questions about ice loss from the white continent, British scientists report on Sunday.
Who knows when it might happen again, but if it ever does blow big: the amount of ice/ice melt flowing into the ocean will be simply stunning. We would be hard pressed to recycle the port cities and rebuild on higher ground-- IMO, lots of new Atlantis.

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

BTW, for those who would like to look up Earthquakes, I find this site is pretty good.


The massive one is well back in the past but there have been small scale eruptions under the ice sheets in the Antarctic within the last twenty years. Below is a link to a 1969 event on Deception Island and I believe there are some more dramatic things from either 1996 or 1998 - large, circular depressions in the ice with massive outflows and so forth. These were on the mainland rather than on DI, but Google results are a rat's nest.


Ah, this seems to be it - events beginning in 1993, and becoming visible in 1996.


Hello SCT,

Thxs for this info. It appears overall that much more research is required to figure the WAIS risks and probabilities from the combo of volcanology and climate change-- I just hope the funding is available. My WAG is that a major bigtime quake somewhere on the US West Coast is more likely in the next ten years than the entire WAIS busting up and melting. But, who knows? In the meantime, Peak Everything keeps depleting away.....

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

Hey, I just noticed that adding a comment no longer eliminates the "new" tags from the comments made between when the page was first loaded and the time that I made the comment. Thanks for fixing that.

Yes, and from now on every time I search this Drumbeat for "new" tags, I'll hit your message!



Hello TODers,

How bad can the recession get? Will it turn into a depression, or worse? How quickly can the economy do a paradigm shift?

If unemployment goes to 10%; roughly 30 million; is it better to ask them to do nothing and ply them with food stamps? Or is it better to encourage them with full Peak Outreach and start the transition to relocalized permaculture and the building of Alan Drake's Ideas?

What if the unemployed reaches 20%, 30%, or higher? Doesn't a tipping point occur where we need to transition if we desire to minimize machete' moshpits? Proficient gardening does not occur overnight, we need decades to spread this skill.

Being a fast-crash realist [but working to avoid the worst by trying to raise Peak Outreach], I am becoming very concerned why the MSM is not doing a very good job of pointing out how badly, and how quickly things can go haywire. I would have thought Google would have unveiled the unlucky button by now, and the EPA would have instantly approved the California clean air goals, instead of obstructing them.

IMO, it is imperative that we move to greater social resiliency and cooperation, but the current trends are not looking good. Whatever happens going forward: as posted before, I regard our efforts as the greatest charity effort in the history of mankind as we seek to give the gift of Peak Everything knowledge to those who will listen. As we traverse the Dieoff Bottleneck, if the efforts of TOD and the other websites, book and blog authors, and other orgs help optimize to save just a million lives and 10,000 species in this century--I will consider our efforts a roaring success.

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

There is a religious aspect to this that just doesn't get brought up in polite company. Faith based support of the poor is part of the game plan, and thusly you get coerced into an "approved" religion if you want to keep eating.

10% unemployment isn't 30 million, as children and old folks don't count for the statistics. I think its more on the order of sixty percent of that, but it still adds up to a whole lot of pencils and apples for sale on street corners.

This site has already saved a million lives getting people moving on things - one home library of books here, a seed keeper there, and the wisdom to survive is retained against many dangers. Someone has to lead at some point and it'll come out of places like this, not out of corporate board rooms.

Hello SCT!

A bit chilly in Iowa this weekend? I have not hardly budged here in Minneapolis as we just got above 0 for a few hours this afternoon. Grew up about 200 miles NW of here, the highs for the weekend up there have been in the minus 10F range. My formative years in the building business were spent in the Red River Valley of the North and I learned very well the value of energy efficient housing.

Stay warm

I can just see the cartoon- man with a scimitar and arab dress or a crusader in middle ages Knight's clothing and broadsword saying "convert or die" and holding the sword over the kneck of the poor starving wretch begging bitterly for grain to feed his family.

How bad, Bob? Do you really want to know? Ambac is basically insolvent. Do you understand what this means?

Greater social resiliency and cooperation? I suggest you plan for something other than greater social resiliency and cooperation!

Israel plans electric car network

Israel will set out plans on Monday to cut drastically its dependence on oil imports, with a private-sector initiative for a nationwide electric car network.

The privately funded plan to build 500,000 recharging points and battery-swap stations for electric cars in the next 18 months has the backing of the government and president, Shimon Peres. Renault and Nissan will develop an electric car with a range of more than 100 miles to be mass-produced from 2011.

Mr Peres told the Financial Times the plan would cut Israel’s oil imports by half within a few years, and Israel could cut the remainder by building solar energy generating plants. “In one decade, we will not need oil.”


UK parliamentary committee calls for biofuel moratorium

Theoretically, in a Post Peak Oil world the use of fossil fuel for transport will decline thereby making the issue of environmental impact less compelling. In such a world the need liquid fuel for transport will trump declining environmental concerns due to the reduction of pollution from falling fossil fuel use. It appears it's hard for many anti bio-fuel environmentalists to think that far ahead.

The Gaza situation is worth following closely. It is a politically-created situation, where the borders are effectively closed, but it may well give an indication to how metropolitans in the developing world may go once electricity, oil become too expensive.

Donkeys have been having a real comeback as means of transportation. I wonder where they get the feed from.

The people of Gaza survive thanks to their resilience, but also because they receive UN food relief (60-80% of the 1.3 million population rely on it). But the UN will not be able to provide billions.