DrumBeat: January 31, 2008

Western majors feel the squeeze

Daniel Yergin, the chairman of Cambridge Energy Re­search Associates and author of The Prize, a history of the oil industry, argues that this is one of the toughest times for oil companies since the wave of nationalisations in the 1970s.

“The irony is that the other challenging times were when the oil price was low,” he says. “Now it is because oil has gone to $100 [a barrel].”

...Yet Jeroen van der Veer, Shell’s chief executive, mounted a vigorous defence of the oil majors’ business model on Thursday, arguing that in the future, conditions will favour the big western companies.

The industry’s production figures have been disappointing in part because of the high oil price in countries where companies operate under production-sharing contracts. As the price rises, the contracts generally give the country a greater share of any oil produced.

This has exacerbated the fundamental problem: that the oil and gas resources in the international companies’ traditional bases in the US and Europe are running out, while getting access to the still-abundant resources of the Middle East, Africa, and South America has become more difficult.

The hedge fund manager who bought a farm

The cost of farm property looks likely to soar as traditional British “lifestyle farmers” are joined by multimillion-pound investors hurriedly moving their wealth out of stocks and shares and into farmland. Across the world, hedge fund managers, property developers and other investors are turning their eyes to places such as Russia, Argentina and Uruguay, where farms are thought to be underdeveloped and provide an opportunity to profit from the rising prices of staples such as wheat, barley and oil-seed rape.

Cheap cars in Asia, expensive gas everywhere

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The debut of the $2,500 car may be billed as a mobility breakthrough for billions of people in the developing world, but for U.S. motorists it could mean one thing: higher gas prices.

Rising demand from the developing world has long been cited as a main driver behind the runup in oil prices. That demand will only get more intense with staggering growth in car sales - and by extension, gasoline use - in places like India and China.

"We'll get into a situation where we'll have to compete with them for gasoline, $4, $5 a gallon, who knows how high we could go." said Peter Beutel, an oil analyst at the consultancy Cameron Hanover.

The mouse that roared

IN THEORY, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, better known as ALBA, is a Venezuelan-led trade pact based on the principle of “solidarity”. Set up three years ago by Cuba's leader, Fidel Castro, and his close ally, Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, it rejects the free-trade model of integration espoused by the United States. Many have dismissed it as a group of client states, sustained by Venezuelan oil money. Now Mr Chávez wants to turn it into a mutual defence pact that would protect its members from attack by the United States or its ally, Colombia.

Dems, Republicans equally green

Political party affiliation has little bearing on the number of “green” actions people take, a new study by Porter Novelli and George Mason University shows. According to the survey of more than 11,000 American adults and nearly 1,000 of their children, Democrats and Republicans differ only slightly when it comes to taking actions to protect the environment, despite great differences in their perceptions of danger related to global warming.

OPEC says more oil won't help world economy

VIENNA (Reuters) - OPEC on Thursday looked set to rebuff consumer calls for more crude, saying it was powerless to help stave off recessionary pressures in the West.

Enjoying a sixth year of crude price gains, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries argues it can do little to help avoid a slowdown in the United States, its leading customer, that could curtail demand for the cartel's oil.

"I don't see what increasing supply of oil will do to the economy, psychologically maybe it would help but I doubt it," said OPEC President Chakib Khelil ahead of Friday's 0900 GMT meeting.

Can OPEC fend off a recession with its moves on oil?

Mr. Stuart thinks OPEC supplies will have to rise by 1.3 million barrels per day this year, but that this won’t begin for some time. The group’s members – agreeing to cut output back in October 2006 – reduced production by 700,000 barrels in 2007.

“But with crude oil inventories near normal; margins poor and refinery runs in North America and Europe falling seasonally from January through April, key exporters are more likely to reduce crude oil supplies first,” the economist said.

Americans Anticipating $4 Gas

Approximately eight out of 10 of those surveyed feel the government isn’t doing nearly enough to deal with the energy crisis, while a solid majority feel that oil companies are “gouging” consumers at the pump, said Hueber.

Another 80 percent would support a new windfall tax on energy industry profits – as long as the proceeds are funneled into research that would result in improved energy efficiency and reduced oil imports.

Shrinking margins, delays and exploration costs hurt Marathon Oil

HOUSTON — Oil and gas company Marathon Oil Corp. said Thursday that fourth-quarter earnings dropped 38 percent on margin pressure driven by rising crude-oil prices, project delays and higher exploration costs.

Russia FinMin says lower oil taxes not in sight

MOSCOW, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Russia may raise taxes on the gas industry but has no plans to cut them for the oil sector despite complaints from oil firms that they need more cash for investments, a government official said on Thursday.

Venezuela to pay $1 bln in Sincor takeover- source

CARACAS, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Venezuela will pay $1.1 billion in compensation to France's Total and Norway's Statoil for the takeover of the Sincor oil project, an industry source familiar with the agreement told Reuters on Thursday.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez last year took over four multibillion-dollar heavy crude upgrading projects as part of a drive to create a socialist state, pushing Exxon Mobil Corp and ConocoPhillips out of the OPEC nation in the process.

Shell refineries to shut for maintenance in Q1

LONDON (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L: Quote, Profile, Research) said on Thursday it expected a drop in throughput at its refineries in the first quarter as planned maintenance is undertaken.

"Q1 is our heaviest turnaround period of the year, and we have planned outages at Deer Park, Convent and Pernis plus downtime at Clyde," Chief Financial Officer Peter Voser said on a call with analysts.

Mexico Hikes Gasoline Taxes

Despite strong opposition, this month Mexico’s government hiked taxes on gasoline in an effort to boost revenue following reforms of its state oil company Pemex.

The gasolinazo, as the tax is called, will increase rates by a little over 5 percent. It is designed to offset the government’s loss in revenue from Pemex, which will be allowed to retain up to $3 billion more per year thanks to recent reforms.

Indian Oil unable to secure Algerian gas

Indian Oil Corp. Ltd (IOC), which planned to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) to meet growing demand for gas in India, has been unable to sign a deal for long-term supplies with Algeria, a setback that means the company cannot start work on its proposed regasification plant in Ennore near Chennai.

RACV: new player won't cut oil price

LEAD motoring group the RACV remains sceptical about the benefits of a "fifth force" in Australia's oil industry and says the only realistic way of cutting petrol prices is to cut tax.

"It's all about tax, the only way to bring about cheaper petrol is through tax reduction," spokesman David Cumming said yesterday.

Ford expands in S Africa despite blackouts

Ford Motor on Wednesday announced plans to expand its South African operations in spite of concerns over a worsening power crisis that may soon see it begin making vehicles by night.

S Africa set for month of blackouts

South Africa's parliament is set to hold an emergency session as people prepare for a month of blackouts due to severe power shortages.

The energy crisis, which analysts fear could severely damage the economy, has prompted opposition parties to threaten to bring a motion of no confidence against Thabo Mbeki, the country's president.

"Prepare yourself for four weeks of hell" the headline in one South African newspaper read on Wednesday.

Uganda: Fuel Shortage Creeping Back

FUEL shortages that were earlier sparked by Kenya's sudden slide into chaos after the disputed December 27 poll are creeping back, with major dealers reporting fast dwindling stocks.

Although the situation has not yet reached the early January crisis levels when a litre of petrol sold as high as Shs10,000, industry insiders yesterday expressed concerns that if supplies fail to improve, acute scarcities would soon set in.

Senate Bill Would Delay Alaska Lease Sale

Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry introduced Senate legislation yesterday that would scuttle petroleum lease sales in federal waters off Alaska's northern coast until the Interior Department determines whether polar bears should be listed under the Endangered Species Act.

Four provinces unite in emissions fight

VANCOUVER — The premiers of four provinces that account for more than half of Canada's greenhouse-gas emissions are pushing for an accord on an alternative national climate-change plan that would trump the Harper government's blueprint.

British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec are forging ahead with talks aimed at establishing a market-based trading system to cut greenhouse- gas emissions. The premiers of Canada's two largest provinces said they have grown impatient waiting for other provinces, notably Alberta, to overcome their sharp differences, and for the federal government to take a leadership role in developing a cap-and-trade emissions system.

Climate Plans by New York, Florida Prod U.S. on Global Accord

(Bloomberg) -- President George W. Bush is pressing allies in Europe for a global warming agreement based on voluntary targets for pollution reduction. State officials in the U.S. have already left him behind.

Twenty-two U.S. states with about 145 million people are exploring mandatory carbon-dioxide caps and emission-credit markets similar to one in the European Union. The proposals are pressuring Congress to pass legislation that would supersede the state and regional programs with a single national plan.

Jeremy Rifkin: A 'Third Industrial Revolution' is nigh

We are "at the last stage of an energy era", Jeremy Rifkin told EurActiv. The current energy system based on fossil energies will not last through the 21st century as oil prices surge and "peak oil" – the point of maximum oil production – will, according to him, be attained in 2030 at the latest.

"I don't know who's right, the optimists or the pessimists. But anyway, it will happen between 2010 and 2030, and it leaves a very small window," he said.

Cold Snap Wreaks Havoc on Central Asian Power

The worst winter in decades has hit Central Asia with one of the worst energy crises in memory, forcing factories to close and leaving people shivering in the darkness.

Abnormally low seasonal temperatures, plunging to 30 or 40 degrees below zero, have pushed electric consumption to a record high.

In Kyrgyzstan, a state rich in hydroelectric power, daily consumption is ten per cent higher than it normally would be at this time of year. The jump in use caused water levels in the main reservoir at Toktogul to fall alarmingly as the turbines were kept running in an effort to keep up with demand.

In Tajikistan, which suffers from annual winter energy crises despite its substantial hydroelectric generating capacity, savage power cuts have inflicted severe damage on industrial output and raised questions about the competence of the political leadership.

Even energy-rich Kazakstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have experienced power cuts as sharply-rising domestic consumption overwhelms capacity.

Shell Cracking Under Cost Pressure

LONDON - Oil prices may be booming, but the strain of higher costs is beginning to show for Royal Dutch Shell.

The Anglo-Dutch oil and gas stalwart posted a 60.4% increase in fourth-quarter profits Thursday, to $8.5 billion, from $5.3 billion, but most of the gain came from the jump in crude prices this year. Excluding price fluctuations and a $963 million gain from asset sales, net profit for the quarter came in at a more modest $5.7 billion.

Power crisis dents Gold Fields

Johannesburg - A 10% cut in electricity supply has a disproportionate effect on gold output because actual mining operations account for only 10% of total consumption, Terence Goodlace, head of Gold Fields' SA operations, told Thursday morning's briefing on the December quarterly.

Mining groups have different profiles, as conditions vary from mine to mine depending on factors like depth, water pumping and ventilation/refrigeration requirements. But Gold Fields consumes just over 600MW at full operation.

A full third of this would still be needed if all the mines were mothballed, and about 350MW is what Gold Fields calls the base load that covers minimal pumping, ventilation and refrigeration.

Coal working group confident that Eskom emergency supplies will be found

There was no doubt that the 5,4-million tons of coal that was needed by Eskom within the next three months to ease the present energy crisis would be found, SA Eskom Coal Working Group chairperson Ben Magara told Mining Weekly Online on Thursday.

In an interview, Magara explained that this 5,4-million tons would be supplied collectively by South African coal producers, who had committed themselves to meeting Eskom’s immediate needs and improving stockpiles at the affected stations to healthier levels.

South Africa: Go to sleep early to save power - minister

"Go to sleep earlier so that you can grow and be cleverer. Boil less water, use the microwave rather than stove, take a shower and not a shallow bath," was Minerals and Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica's advice to the country at a special joint parliamentary sitting to discuss the power crisis.

She said that perpetual blackouts could be avoided if South Africans used power more responsibly.

President Musharraf wants early completion of energy projects

ISLAMABAD: President Pervez Musharraf on Wednesday directed all relevant ministers to complete small and midterm energy projects to overcome the energy crisis in the country. He also urged them to remove the hurdles concerning the construction of big dams.

Bury the Gold, Plant Yams

Regarding "In a World Short of Oil, Provisions Must Be Made" (page one, Jan. 26), the fearful Aaron Wissner should be commended for his efforts to plan for the future, but I would also like to point out the shortsightedness of his plan. If he really believes in peak oil and a looming oil shock he should realize that selling his house and moving to the woods is not going to secure his future. If oil-dependent economies "crumble" and resource wars "explode," how does he propose to protect this little plot of land in the woods?

Friends of Coal Push New Message, Outreach

Steve Walker, president of Walker Machinery, said he was preaching to the choir at the Belle headquarters Jan. 30, but drove home the message of evolving clean coal by telling his employees, "This is not your grandfather's coal industry."

Walker hosted a membership drive for Friends of Coal, a volunteer organization with the goal of informing and educating citizens about the coal industry and its role in the future of the state and the nation. The organization began a series of membership drives in Belle with plans to host membership drives at all seven of its operations during the coming weeks.

League can't really go green without axing jet fuel

When the world runs out of oil -- many believe it will be much sooner than later if you're a Peak Oil buff -- substitutes will abound in other areas, but flying will be pretty much a military endeavor unless things change pretty radically, pretty quickly.

France to review biofuel use on environment worries

PARIS (Reuters) - France is envisaging changing its policy on the use of biofuels after doubts were expressed on the environmental impact of so-called "green fuels," the Secretary of State for Environment said on Tuesday.

Saudi Data Show Rise In Dec Crude Oil Output, Lower Exports

NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude oil exporter, boosted its output in December by nearly 2% from November, to 9.206 million barrels a day, but reduced its exports by 2.2%, or 161,000 barrels a day, official data show.

The crude oil output figure is the highest reported by the kingdom since August 2006, figures submitted by the Saudis to the Joint Oil Data Initiative database.

The Peak Oil Crisis: The Future Of Our Cars – Part 2

Within the next ten years the size, shape, efficiency, fuel and numbers of private automobiles is going to undergo a radical change. The nine million gallons of gasoline we currently use in the U.S. each day simply will not be available in the quantities desired at any price. If a transition to a more abundant fuel source than gasoline and diesel does not take place on a widespread basis before the shortages begin, there will be troubles. It is virtually certain that at some point the government will have to impose rationing that will keep functions vital to our society such as food, water, utilities and public safety functioning. The rest of us are going to have to find alternative means of transportation.

OPEC favours holding output amid US pressure for hike

VIENNA (AFP) - OPEC ministers might debate whether pumping more oil would help revive the world economy when they meet here even though ministers favoured no change, the cartel's chief said on Thursday.

Gas prices seen spiking again in spring

NEW YORK - Get ready for another surge in gasoline prices.

Experts are predicting pump prices, which jumped by almost a dollar a gallon in each of the last two springs in many parts of the United States, will spike again this year as refiners and gas stations switch from winter- to summer-blended fuels.

The increases, starting as early as February in southern California, could push the average national price to a record $3.50 a gallon or more by June.

Oil may hit $70 as weaker economy lowers demand

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) - An economic slowdown in the United States that could turn into an outright recession later this year is likely to weaken demand for oil in the months ahead, which could push the price of a barrel of crude as low as $70 by June, analysts said.

But a host of factors ranging from the onset of driving season, uncertainty about the depth of the economic slowdown, and resistance to output increases from producing nations could all conspire to make any decline in prices short-lived and limit its impact on the consumer, they said.

Shell Profit Misses Estimates on Falling Production

Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe's biggest oil company, posted fourth-quarter earnings that missed analysts' estimates for the first time in two years because of a decline in production and lower refining margins.

Shell flags lower oil reserve additions in 2007

LONDON (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell added "at least 1 billion barrels" of new oil and gas resources in 2007, Chief Executive Jeroen van der Veer said on Thursday, around half the level the oil giant flagged last year.

British Renewable Target Very Hard to Hit - E.ON UK

LONDON - Britain will find it very hard to hit the renewable energy target set for it by the European Commission last week, the head of giant power utility E.ON UK said on Wednesday.

China's crops badly damaged by icy storms: AgMin

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's Agriculture Ministry said on Wednesday that the unusually harsh winter had dealt a serious blow to the country's wheat and vegetable crops and warned that damage could rise because of persistent cold.

...The crops affected included rapeseed, vegetables, wheat, tangerines and tea leaves, although the ministry did not specify how much of each had been damaged.

Is the UK ready for an oil shortage?

The cost of oil could pass the $300/barrel mark if there is a 15% shortfall in the supply of crude in the future - and most research suggests a much greater shortfall than that within 20 years. At a meeting this week of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil, Toronto-based transport consultant Richard Gilbert revealed that while oil consumption is expected to increase by about a third by 2025 to more than 40 billion barrels a year, production will have fallen to less than 25 billion barrels a year.

Worried about oil shortage?

2025 is as far into the future as 1991 is in the past. In that context, 17 years isn't a long time. So, when presented with a shortfall in the supply of crude oil by 2025, will we be ready? Transport and energy consultant Richard Gilbert's presentation to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil this week was both frightening and stimulating - in that order. The context is horrific: oil production will peak in 2010 at more than 30 billion barrels a year and then drop rapidly as resources dwindle, resulting in production falling by one-third by 2025. However, oil consumption, if left unchecked, will grow by more than one-third by 2025 to more than 40 billion barrels a year. The worst-case scenario is a 39% shortfall in crude supply the best case scenario is a 26% shortfall.

Is the desire to relocalize merely aesthetic?

Last week, peak oil analyst Stuart Staniford wrote an essay on the Oildrum critiquing the relocalization movement which has arisen in response to the threat of peak oil. In a nutshell, Staniford argues that relocalizers—who Staniford rather derisively calls “reversalists”—are incorrect in their belief that imminent declines in oil availability will cause modern industrial agriculture to become untenable, requiring large numbers of people to relocalize and return to rural communities.

Asking better questions

This is not an attempt to further or refute either post, I present no data and try to prove nothing, but Staniford and Astyk address two topics that I’m sure lots of folks spend considerable time thinking about: food and Peak Oil. Beyond that, the discussion takes a more personal nature with me; much of my own history involves looking back toward a simpler time in agriculture. Perhaps there are folks that can relate to that as well. Both sides of the discussion make valid, relevant points and after reading them I felt strangely torn, maybe like a child asked to choose between two parents.

Bush's much maligned climate talks may yet help global warming treaty

Bush's efforts has met with some skepticism, especially after the first meeting last September which one senior environmental hand described as "Climate 101 when the rest of the world was in graduate school." One test of how serious the White House is about the process will come in discussions of future actions, some analysts say. Until now, the administration has emphasized actions it has already taken – setting an interim greenhouse gas "intensity" target for the US economy, or the amount of emissions permitted per unit of GDP, pumping money into climate change research, and the recent adoption of mandatory fuel economy standards.

UN: climate change may cost $20 trillion

UNITED NATIONS - Global warming could cost the world up to $20 trillion over two decades for cleaner energy sources and do the most harm to people who can least afford to adapt, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warns in a new report.

Warmer Atlantic worsens hurricanes

WASHINGTON - When the water in the hurricane breeding grounds of the Atlantic warms one degree in the dead of summer, overall hurricane activity jumps by half, according to a new study.

Saudi Arabia, the world's largest crude oil exporter, boosted its output in December by nearly 2% from November, to 9.206 million barrels a day, but reduced its exports by 2.2%

ELM (Export Land Model) is NOT just a theory, it is happening now - not good news for people who have to import a lot of oil.

The stunning number was in the story:

The apparent surge in input to domestic refineries comes amid rapid growth in as the kingdom's oil consumption. PFC Energy said oil demand in Saudi Arabia jumped 15.3% in 2007, to 1.56 million barrels a day, and is up "a whopping 65% since 2001."

Strongest growth came in Saudi gasoline consumption, which averaged 347,000 barrels a day in 2007, a 9.7% rise on the year that prompted "a 40% decline in (gasoline) exports," PFC Energy said. Saudi domestic demand for diesel fuel "will likely continue to outpace economic growth over the next 5-6 years" as well, PFC Energy said.

Note that they appear to be talking about crude oil (up 15.3%), not total liquids, but I suspect that total liquids consumption was probably up from +10%/year to +15%/year. If memory serves, I got some grief last year when I used a +10%/year estimate for Saudi Total Liquids consumption. I did have an advantage. I was basing the estimate on a communication from a well placed "Non-Saudi source in Saudi Arabia."

In any case, it's a virtually certainty that Saudi Arabia is going to show an accelerating net export decline from 2006 to 2007. We shall see what happens in 2008.

Things are not starting out well for "Import Land."

Russian crude oil exports are reportedly at a two year low, while Russia is on track to become, within two years, the #1 car market in Europe.

Also, note the number of countries adding and/or increasing duties on exported crude and products.


The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s total generation
capacity is approximately 31 GW. Out of that, 7 GW
representing 23%, is supplied through cogeneration. As
shown on Figure 3, the Kingdom’s peak demand is
forecasted to grow from the current 28 GW, to reach 60
GW by year 2020
, based on annual average increase of
Currently, power generation in Saudi Arabia uses 57%
of gas fuel and 43% of liquid fuels that include Diesel,
Crude Oil and Fuel Oil. The average thermal efficiency
is higher than that of the Arab World but still around

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

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

The Saudi's are in a bind. If they consume too much their export revenues will fall, causing economic crisis at home. They will have to curb domestic consumption.

"They will have to curb domestic consumption."

UK rate of increase in consumption: +0.2%/year; most recent peak to zero net exports in 7 years

ELM rate of increase in consumption: +2.5%/year; most recent peak to zero net exports in 9 years

Indonesian rate of increase in consumption: +4.1%/year; most recent peak to zero net exports in 8 years

Note that Saudi Arabia is currently showing, at least in dollar terms, increasing cash flow from declining net export volumes.

The Saudis are not in a bind. The Saudis and the rest of the Gulf States are making more money than ever. They have an enormous current account surplus (http://www.rgemonitor.com/blog/setser/233979/). Where do you think they're getting the money to buy all those chunks of failing U.S. banks?

Demand is so inelastic that it actually makes sense for them economically to consume more of their production at home.

The Saudis are not in a bind.

You beat me to it!

They will have plenty of crude oil long after there is, for all practical purposes, none left for 'net importer' countries to import.

So, as long as nobody steals their oil or blows up their oil wells or comes up with a viable alternative to oil they will be one of the last countries to be in a bind!.

They don't need to export any more oil than required to balance their trade.
Why are they exporting more than they need to now, as it is taking an unnecessary financial risk?
They need to make their oil last as long as possible, since without it they are probably literally dead - KSA is a very hot desert!

IMO, in the future if you want their oil you will have to trade something they need, like food.
Pieces of paper from heavily indebted nations that say something like 'I promise to pay the bearer in 30 years' probably won't do! - would you take that risk?

Right, also think of the profits for Saudi Arabia if their decline rate is slower than the decline rate for the rest of the world.

All that money must make your head swim Moe, but you can't eat, drink, nor actually swim in it.

Saudi is not is an enviable position IMHO.

Money ain't $hit but $hit might be money some day;-}

Hi Moe,

re: decline rate slower
Do you have any reason to think this might be the case?

The Saudis may not be in a bind right now but they sure will be if the global economy ever collapses. Saudi has 22 million citizens, not counting 5.6 million expats, and their population is growing at one of the fastest rates of any nation on earth. Saudi imports virtually everything except oil, dates and camels. All their industry, such as it is, is manned almost entirely by expats. And that industry is dependent entirely upon imported raw material.

Saudi does not produce enough food to feed more than three million people. They will be in a huge bind if anything happens to food imports. And eventually, something will happen to food exports from the rest of the world, which means......

Ron Patterson

Ron says that “Saudi imports virtually everything except oil, dates and camels”. Well, according to Wikipedia the Saudis actually import camels from Australia:
“Australia boasts the largest population of feral camels and the only wild herd of dromedary (one-humped) camels in the world. Live camels are exported to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Brunei, and Malaysia where disease-free wild camels are prized as a delicacy. Australia's camels are also exported as breeding stock for Arab camel racing stables.”

Tasman, thanks for that bit of information. I was totally unaware of that fact. Shipping camels to Saudi Arabia! Imagine that. A little like carrying coals to Newcastle wouldn't you say?

Thanks again, Ron

Saudi Arabia will soon be importing coal as well from Australia.

Best Hopes ?


I wonder about that. Can Australia really increase coal exports?


THE queue of coal vessels at the Newcastle Port has grown so large that some customers are deferring purchases rather than let their ships idle offshore for 20 days before loading.


Australian coal producers are expected to miss out on billions of dollars in revenue in the next 10 years due to inadequate rail and port infrastructure, which is holding back exports.

Ships are queuing for weeks to load coal at ports in Queensland and New South Wales due to limited capacity and restrictions on the amount of coal that producers are allowed to transport to port by rail.

Port and rail operators have earmarked hundreds of millions of dollars for new infrastructure to cope with the unprecedented demand being driven by the massive industrialisation and urbanisation of China.

But it will take years before ports and rail networks can handle enough coal to satisfy global demand

I'm still curious about where you can drive in Saudi Arabia. And only half (at most) of the population drives! Whatever are they doing with all that gasoline?

Who said it was gasoline?

Saudi Arabia has gotten smart. Instead of selling us oil and making 30-50% barrel, they are refining the oil, or making plastics or making fertilizer or whatever and making a A LOT more money.

If I read the original story correctly, it said gasoline consumption was up 65%

Does that mean they are selling finished product? And if so, how does that figure into the "export land model?" I'm a little confused now. Does "Export Land" refer only to crude oil and NGL? Or all petroleum products -- including fertilizer and plastics -- that are produced in a country?

The 65% number referred to the month to month increase in refinery utilization. For 2007, gasoline consumption, according to the story, was up 9.7%.

As many of us have speculated, Saudi Arabia may have boosted crude oil exports (and caused fourth quarter production estimates to go up) while also boosting liquids imports, because of refinery maintenance.

Net Exports measures total liquids production & consumption, resulting in net exports/imports.

Fertilizer is made using natural gas, and plastics from ethane etc. Their refinery output has gone to local consumption, although this will change:

Export Refineries: In May 2006, Saudi Aramco signed memoranda of understanding with Total and ConocoPhillips to build two grass-roots export refineries, the former at Jubail, the latter at Yanbu. Changes in the dynamics of the global refining industry have made investments in new refining capacity attractive. The refineries are planned to come on-stream at the same time as the Manifa field under the waters of the Gulf, which will feed the two with Arabian heavy crude. It is the first time that refining and oil production have been brought on together. They are due for start up in 2011.

The two refineries will each have an initial capacity of 400,000 bpd, and the ability to double that capacity. The projects will produce a range of products, including gasoline for export to the United States, diesel fuel to Europe, and naphtha and fuel oil to Asia.

I have a friend who lived in Saudi Arabia in the 80s, and he drove all over the country -- at 100+ mph.

I saw a youtube video of luxury cars and suvs in Dubai, UAE - if you think the US has gas guzzlers, you should see those. 8+ cylinders for virtually everything.

Dubai street racing videos on YouTube are a comedy goldmine!

It's pretty apparent that almost all the drivers in those videos have invested large chunks of oil wealth in high performance machines and very little in high performance driving lessons.

Watch the Burnout International. Watch the 3rd one in Iraq.

Got to watch, very entertaining. Only a minute long or so.


Another big factor is demographics. The average Saudi family has something like six to seven kids. And remember the positive feedback loop. At least in dollar terms, Saudi Arabia will almost certainly show increasing cash flow from declining net oil exports.

I try to avoid offering investment advice, but I do ask questions. If one accepts the ELM premise, doesn't that mean that world stock markets are overvalued and oil is undervalued?

Regarding the depression aspect and its presumed impact on consumption, check out world oil consumption from 1930 to 1940. Granted, the US was still in the early stages of the auto age in the Thirties, but the key difference between the Thirties and now is that in the Thirties millions of people wanted to drive cars for the first time, while today billions of people want to drive cars for the first time.

Traffic in Saudi Arabia is absolutely atrocious. The streets in the towns are jammed bumper to bumper and the traffic between cities is jammed also. They have 5 million expats and most of them drive, plus every Saudi family that can afford a car has one.

Saudi is a big country and the cities are, for the most part, very far apart. This means lots of time on the road when you are going from city to city.

There are no trains in Saudi so everything moves by truck. Huge Mercedes diesels, the favorite truck in Saudi, jam the roads in Saudi. And they drive like hell. Saudi must import almost everything except oil , dates and camel meat. Everything else must be imported. Virtually all the cargo import terminals are on the West Coast so everything must be trucked east to reach the interior and the East Coast ARAMCO infrastructure. There are a few cargo terminals on the Persian Gulf coast but they are nothing compared to those on the Red Sea.

Saudi probably has more road miles driven per capita than any nation in the Middle East.

Ron Patterson

Everybody drives in the KSA, the women are chauffered.

The capital Riyadh is a huge grid of roads just like the USA, with fast food places and shopping malls just like in the USA.

Even in Riyadh (situated where it is because it's cooler at altitude) it is extreemly hot in the summer, almost nobody walks far, just like in the USA - only the slaves work out in the sun.


The slaves cars are so old they mostly don't have aircon in my experience.

The gasoline is cheaper than water - they even lowered the price of gasoline when I was last there - that's not like the USA!

LOL Xeriod! It's true! In the US only "losers" walk or bike or bus. They have to work out in the sum, and yes, slaves' cars in the US often have no aircon. Except for very select places in the US, no one walks if they can possibly avoid it. In any small town or city, anywhere really, someone riding a bike is presumed to have lost their drivers' license or be too poor to have a car. And a great many are too poor to have a car, too.

Someone pointed out to me years ago that it's no accident that the rich area of Newport Beach is cheek-by-jowl with the poor ghetto of Costa Mesa, he said that Wherever you have rich, nearby there will be the very poor. His statement kind of pissed me off at the time, but it made me observe what I'm not supposed to see, and he's turned out to be right, everywhere I've lived.

Well, you've got to have SOMEONE to make your food and take out the trash, right?

I'd rather see the rich starve for lack of a maid and die in a pile of their own un-taken-out trash thank you.

"In the US only 'losers' walk or bike or bus"

I live in small city and usually walk to work (about 3/4 mile each way). People think I'm nuts. They pull over in their cars to the side of the road when they see me walking, ask me if my car is in the shop and do I need a ride. They just can't understand that I prefer to walk. Clears my head in the morning before work and helps me unwind after a busy day.

They might eventually get the message. I've walked to church for seven years and about three years in to the process people stopped stopping me and asking if I wanted a ride.

Well, women are not allowed to drive.

women are not allowed to drive.


Also, if you're a femail and not a muslim it is almost impossible to enter the country!

If you are a femail and don't cover your head in public you will likely be beaten by the religious police!

and on and on ...

Also, if you're a femail and not a muslim it is almost impossible to enter the country!

Really? My wife was there with me for five years. When Western women went out in public, they did respect the Muslim tradition somewhat, but not to the extent you say. They did cover their arms but not their head. My wife never wore a head scarf or anything else on her head.

There were also many Western nurses working in the country, most of them Filipino. I also knew of one Western woman that worked for ARAMCO. I don't know if her husband was there or not however. I only saw a write up about it in the ARAMCO news. But many of the ARAMCO wives worked as secretaries for ARAMCO.

Ron Patterson

...if you live in a Banana Republic you eat bananas -by the bucket load...

...if you live in KSA and are sitting on top of the biggest oil patch known to man...

KSA is going to go down the route of consuming as much oil as possible for as long as possible. The rest of the World is going to have to come up with the alternative solutions. I think we can easily count on 10%-15% Demand growth in the ELM model for KSA.

ITSHTF those 5 million Expats and a hundred thousand of the top Saudies will flee -they like Mayfair- and the rest will be left to die off or migrate out. But probably long before this we would see the US move to 'protect global energy supply interests': In a world in Energy crisis mode they would probably get away with it...

Today's FT has a column on oil price volatility. The author cites seasonal fluctuations in domestic oil consumption in the Gulf. To wit, tightness in natural gas causes diversion of oil to power generation in the summer. It would seem that the ELM price effect may have a seasonal dimension.
Opec policies set to ensure oil prices stay on the boil

Another cost of the price of oil




And one wonders about the 5 million Iraqis forced from their homes.

Always a thoughtful comment from you Alan.

Ever wonder how the powerful can sleep at night?

Ever wonder how the powerful can sleep at night?

They sleep very well. They are mostly psychopaths with no conscience. How else do you think they were able to make it to the top of the heap?

How? By not sleeping day or night! Someone should slip them a mickey and give them and everybody else a rest:)

Not that I probably need to say this, but still. The rich didn't actually have to 'fight' their way or 'make it to the top', in a brutal, psuedo-Darwinian, struggle of the fittest melee. They were, by and large, born at the top, and have remained there, enjoying the advantages that massive inherited wealth and priviledge confers in class-based society, where wealth and power are so badly and unfairly distributed.

The amount of social mobility in American society has always been greatly exajurated, and over the last thirty years it's virtually stopped and even been reversed. Middle-class incomes have remained almost static over the last few decades in real terms, despite the changes that have occured in their lifestyles; longer working weeks, women entering the labour market, the accumulation of debt...

In contrast, the rich in the United States have become strikingly more wealthy over the same period, their share of the national pie just keeps getting bigger and bigger. American has become one of the most unequal societies in the whole world. What's a paradox and a mystery is why and how the masses were ever convinced to support and vote for politicians promoting economic and social policies that were so obviously not in their own interests!

Writerman is correct. We have a hereditary caste system in the US that is stronger than anything in any other industrialized country. Social mobility has been far better in the socialized countries. I think it's strikingly obvious by now that it's far better to have been poor but talented in France for instance than in the US.

I think social mobility in the U.S. is very high. Many examples could be given. Off the top of my head, I can think of two of the remaining U.S. Presidential candidates: Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee. Neither were born with any social status at all.

Obama was born rich and went to a rich-kid school, Puanhou. Huckabee came from at least what I call "significant wealth".

What do I mean by "significant wealth"? It's not millions of dollars, it *is* enough wealth to get a kid onto the college track, and it's more wealth than most Americans have.

"Significant Wealth" means, the family is rich enough to pay for the kid's college or at the very least afford to let the kid live at home while they go to a local college. The kid doesn't have to work other than summers, so they can study and stay awake and all that. Most kids in the US are kicked out on their ass at age 18 to sink or swim, and have to borrow immense amounts of money to get a degree, or just plain don't get one.

I'm willing to bet Huckabee comes from enough wealth, a high enough level, that he didn't have to go to his local public college and take something "sure to get a job", he was able to go to a private college, and that and family connections had him pretty well taken care of in business, probably Rotary etc sort of connections, and in politics. Huck's family are probably in the top 10% in income, at least.

Two Examples of rich kids staying rich are not proof of social mobility. Fail.

Fleam, we often disagree but you have this one spot on. John Edwards was the only one in the race who actually came from very humble beginnings to make millions. All the rest were born with it. Edwards' dad worked in a cotton mill. There is no more menial job than working in a cotton mill. My dad worked in one for several years. "Lint heads" they were called, from the cotton lint that stuck to their hair. It also stuck in their lungs. Brown lung was a common ailment of cotton mill workers.

Few cotton mills remain in the US. My hometown of Huntsville, Alabama once had 13 cotton mills. Now they have none. Good riddance.

Ron Patterson

Most kids in the US are kicked out on their ass at age 18 to sink or swim

That is simply not true. The US census and numerous studies show that you are wrong. Most kids live with their parents when they're college-age. Many of the kids who do leave home, do so because they want to, not because they are kicked out.

Two Examples of rich kids staying rich are not proof of social mobility.

And your personal experience is not proof of lack of mobility.

The US actually has a lot of mobility - both up and down. If anyone's really interested in this topic, I recommend Dalton Conley's The Pecking Order. It's fascinating. It starts out with the example of the Clinton brothers. One became president, the other became a drug dealer and ended up in jail.

On the surface, it may seem that the case of the Clintons is atypical. And, of course, a pair of brothers who are, respectively, the president and an ex-con is a bit extreme. But the basic phenomenon of sibling differences in success that the Clintons represent is not all that unusual. In fact, in explaining economic inequality in America, sibling differences represent about three-quarters of all the differences between individuals. Put another way, only one-quarter of all income inequality is between families. The remaining 75 percent is within families.[3] Sibling differences in accumulated wealth (i.e., net worth) are even greater, reaching 90-plus percent.[4] What this means is that if we lined everyone in America up in rank order of how much money they have--from the poorest homeless person to Bill Gates himself--and tried to predict where any particular individual might fall on that long line, then knowing about what family they came from would narrow down our uncertainty by about 25 percent (in the case of income). In other words, the dice are weighted by which family you come from, but you and your siblings still have to roll them. For example, if you come from a family that ranks in the bottom 5 percent of the income hierarchy, then you have a 40 percent chance of finding yourself in the lowest 10 percent, a 21 percent chance of making it to somewhere between the 30th and 70th percentile, and only a one in a thousand chance of making it to the top 10 percent. If you come from the richest 5 percent of families in America, then your odds are flipped. And if you start at the dead middle of the American income ladder, then you are about 63 percent likely to end up somewhere in that 30th- to 70th-percentile range, with a 4 percent chance of ending up either in the top or the bottom 10 percent.[5] A similar pattern holds for educational differences. For example, if you attended college there is almost a 50 percent chance that one of your siblings did not (and vice versa).[6]

Where money comes in is when a child goes off-track. A wealthy family can afford to help them get back on track. For example, George W. Bush, if born in the Clinton family, would probably have ended up in jail like Roger Clinton. But he wasn't. He was born into the Bush clan, and his family was able to protect him from the consequences of his actions, and give him enough second chances that he eventually got back on track.

Huckabee didn't grow up with significant wealth -- not by any stretch of imagination.

From Wikipedia:

His father worked as a fireman and mechanic, and his mother worked as a clerk in a gas company.

Obama's grandmother was a bank VP in Hawaii so he may be considered upper middle-class. In his first book, he stated he grew up middle-class. While in high school they lived in a two-bedroom apartment so maybe his grandparents thought it more important to fork over the 15K a year to attend that school than have a three-bedroom apartment? I don't call that rich by any means.

Anybody who hasn't been thrown in prision in the USA can go to college full-time. Spend four years in the military and/or take grants/loans.

Anybody who hasn't been thrown in prision in the USA can go to college full-time. Spend four years in the military and/or take grants/loans.

Worked for me. ;-)

In fact, it's easier if your family is poor. You qualify for more scholarships and lower-interest loans.

Any Louisiana High School graduate that graduates with a 2.5 (4.0 scale) GPA in the core curriculum gets free tuition and some fees (book allowance for higher GPA, highest GPAs get $400 or $800 living allowance) at any state institution (university, community college, trade school) for 4 years as long as they maintain a 2.5 GPA (2.3 allowed after first year) and take at least 24 credits/year.

pdf warning

Loans can be taken out for living expenses. And working summers.

Nearly 7 percent of 34,273 TOPS recipients come from homes with reported adjusted gross incomes of more than $150,000


Best Hopes for Access to Higher Public Education,


Golly, I had really no idea I saying anything remotely controversial when I touched on the subject of social mobility in the United States, and how it's declined over the last thirty years. I might add that this applies to most western countries, some more than others, Great Britain is another striking example, though perhaps marginally less obvious as the United States. British society is now as unequal and 'static' as it was in the nineteenth century at the time of Charles Dickens. What does this really mean? It means that the post WW2 era of unusually rapid social change and upward social mobility, an era that lasted from 1945 to 1975, is defivinitely over, and society has returned more or less to 'normality'.

Whilst one can sight anecdotal 'evidence' about certain individuals and their semi-miraculous rise upwards through the social strata, this does not really tell one much of relevance about the social structure of society as a whole. Even in the middle ages, in fuedal society it was possible, though highly unlikely, that one could make the journey from peasant to the ruling elite, but only if one was extraordinarily gifted, and/or extraordinarily fortunate.

If one examines the newest published data on US social trends and the latest analysis one finds pretty conclusive evidence that social mobility in the United States has been severely curtailed over the last few decades, and what's striking is that the slowdown in mobility has increased over time. Of course society is not complelely static, people do move up and down, but the numbers a far fewer than most people think. The point is, in plain language, it is now far, far, easier to fall, than to rise. The brakes have well and truly been applied. Though accepting that such a key tennet of the 'American Dream' is fast disappearing, is hard to accept on ideological grounds for many people. But the available numbers do indicate a very definite trend. But don't take my word for it, go and examine them yourselves!

This isn't really hard to understand. When one looks at the statistics for the distribution of wealth in the US, the United States is already a country with vast differences in personal wealth between say the top 1% and the rest of society and the concentration of wealth and economic power is increasing rapidly. This 'fact' coupled with stagnating real incomes for the middle-class and falling real incomes for the working-class, are undermining the traditional routes underpinning social mobility. Very crudely, when the money isn't there, the cost of the ticket upwards is increasingly out of reach for more and more people.

Speaking purely from stuff I've learned from TOD, EB, etc., this makes sense in terms of energy. Energy use per capita has been falling for a while now. Thus, overall real wealth has been falling. With more of said wealth going to the highest 1 percent, 5 percent, etc., it makes sense that the overall trend **must** be downward.


Ordinary Americans live two lives. They sleepwalk through their real life, their ordinary problems, their unfulfilling jobs. The life they really savor is when they watch TV. Their real life is full of other boring working people, who are likely as fat and ugly as they are. In their TV life, all their neighbors are beautiful millionaires. Awful as it sounds, TV is set up to be a surrogate neighborhood, to replace your real one. The kinds of shows we watch replace obsolete social functions: news shows, talk shows, reality shows, and of course commercials.

Now why should people like this vote against the rich? They know Paris Hilton better than their own children. Their friends are Coca-Cola and even Monsanto. Why should people like this join unions? They no longer consider the working-class people on their street to be neighbors, united by a common grievance. Why should they mind wealth polarization? The commercials tell them that they are bound to become successful in America, by wit or lotto, and then they will finally move their real bodies into their fantasy TV neighborhood. They're voting based on the incomes they're sure they will have any day now.

Ordinary Americans live two lives. They sleepwalk through their real life, their ordinary problems, their unfulfilling jobs. The life they really savor is when they watch TV. Their real life is full of other boring working people, who are likely as fat and ugly as they are. In their TV life, all their neighbors are beautiful millionaires. Awful as it sounds, TV is set up to be a surrogate neighborhood, to replace your real one. The kinds of shows we watch replace obsolete social functions: news shows, talk shows, reality shows, and of course commercials.

That's why I come here instead. You guys ARE all rich and beautiful, right?

No, we're poor and ugly. We're the enemy of all that is American.

Excellent, excellent post by 390.

Their real life is full of other boring working people, who are likely as fat and ugly as they are.


I find soap opera personalities incredibly boring compared to my neighbors.

In my building an artist (with her boyfriend du jour), a lesbian PhD in environmental biology, another lesbian working her way through nursing school by doing yard work, a massage therapist and a nerdy white engineer who spends too much time on the internet.

Across the street and next door: a Marine Corps captain with wife and child, two psychiatric nurses married to each other, a lawyer, an MD doing her residency in Ob/Gyn, a contractor with wife & child, etc., a mad artist who leaves his art all over the nieghborhood, a professional musician (two actually), students, retired investment banker from NYC, English guy and friend also doing yard & handyman work, chronic alcoholic recently died, Sewage and Water Board pump operator, bartenders, waiters, one call girl (my guess, former stripper but not any more)....

*FAR* richer cast of characters than the stereotypes of Hollywood. And more likely to hang together in an emergency (as they did post-Katrina for those that chose not to evac, I asked several before I took out 3 w/o cars)

Best Hopes for Diversity,


I have no debt and I'm moderately handsome. That's about all I'm willing to claim.

Hi greenish,

re: "You guys ARE all rich and beautiful, right?"

In all the ways that count. :)

One of the most profound and crysalized pieces of observation that has been posted here. In just a couple paragraphs you have shrunk down Joe Bageant's and other's expansive prose to it's core.

Now why should people like this vote against the rich? They know Paris Hilton better than their own children. Their friends are Coca-Cola and even Monsanto. Why should people like this join unions? They no longer consider the working-class people on their street to be neighbors, united by a common grievance.


They're voting based on the incomes they're sure they will have any day now.

One of the greatest pieces of intentional mass social conditioning I have seen in a long while.

Or as dylan said

While preachers preach of evil fates
Teachers teach that knowledge waits
Can lead to hundred-dollar plates
Goodness hides behind its gates
Advertising signs that con you
Into thinking you're the one
That can do what's never been done
That can win what's never been won
Meantime life outside goes on
All around you.

I say

My eyes collide head-on with stuffed graveyards
False gods, I scuff
At pettiness which plays so rough
Walk upside-down inside handcuffs
Kick my legs to crash it off
Say okay, I have had enough
What else can you show me?

It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleeding.

Hi super,

Who is real? and "Who is most real?" - and the "surrogate neighborhood". This gives me more to think about...

Except for an occasional comment from you or me the powerful are greeted daily with universal respect, worship, adoration, an educational and media system permanently geared to render them hosannas. They sleep fine.

How does the saying go " Surrounded by beautiful woman on a big pile of money"

The 5 million forced from their homes was the fault of the insurgents, not the military. The US never had enough troops there and the situation got out of control. Bricks without straw and all that.

You should be writing speeches for John McCain (the next leader of the Sheeple).

The original Lancet - Johns Hopkins study of Iraq covered only the first 18 months of the Occupation, before the insurgency and sectarian violence (and American airstrikes) got as bad as in 2005. It compared the death rate of Iraq at the time with the rate immediately before the invasion - though even that pre-invasion death rate had been increased by years of American-led sanctions. The conclusion was that there had been about 400,000 excess deaths. The largest contribution was found not to be violence, but non-chronic diseases and infant mortality. That means a breakdown of normal conditions and services.

The truth is, life became very bad for ordinary Iraqis during that time because our Occupation did a terrible job of governing them. This reduced the margin of survival for everyone. It also ensured plenty of recruits for the insurgency and sectarian war beyond existing anger at the Occupation. So when fighting began, people had to consider both their personal safety and deteriorating social conditions, and many began moving in with relatives in safer towns, but those relatives in turn were in no financial condition to deal with that. Our Occupation observed all this in indifference.

Of course, the more Iraqis who flee, the fewer there are to oppose the privatization of the oil industry. So maybe "indifference" isn't the right word.

Dear Super390,

I think you'll find that the Lancet report's figure for excess deaths in Iraq is actually far higher than 400,000, which in itself is an enormous and 'unacceptable' figure. 'Unacceptable' in the sense that it can not be accepted as accurate for political reasons, it would undermine the subsequent justification, or excuse, for the invasion and occupation, that we did it to 'help' Iraq and 'free' its people from a violent and bloodthirsty tyrant.

As far as I remember the Lancet report had a range of figures going from about 400,000 up to around 1,500,000 and the figure in the middle was around 700,000. Intrestingly the guy who did the report, Les Roberts, has a very impressive record in this field. So impressive his numbers for the number of excess deaths in the Congo have been quoted at length by the same politicians who refuse to accept and ridicule his work on Iraq!

The figures produced by the IBC, Iraq Body Count, are more or less propaganda and deeply flawed and everyone knows it that's been involved in statistical ananlysis.

A couple of days ago a new report was published by a polling organization. They interviewed around 2,500 Iraqi families spread over Iraq, except for two very dangerous provinces which they left out. Their figure for excess deaths is 1,300,000 since the invasion. One million three hundred thousand.

I think the figures you mentioned are from the second Lancet report. The comparison of the first and second reports is instructive. By the time of the 2nd report, there was a massive increase in deaths by violence. But those of us who read the first report and its appalling indictment of collapsing health were hardly surprised by the subsequent violence.

And I must again remind everyone: both reports were based on a comparison with a pre-war death rate itself increased by the actions of the United States, overseen by Presidents Bush, Clinton and Bush. The sanctions were a collective punishment against the Iraqi people for failing to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Hundreds of thousands of people, many of them children, died due to the sanctions. I will never forgive Madeline Albright for saying that those deaths were "worth it". There was a time when I believed that economic sanctions were morally preferable to war, but now I cannot deny that there is too much blood on my hands either way.

America is averaging one million dead per major intervention. By the standards we enforced on the Nazis at Nuremburg, we as a defendant would be held liable for repeating an action when its historical results were well known. If you support another major war, you must embrace the idea that we will likely kill a million people. The world should know that sort of thing about Americans.

People don't want to hear estimates based on realistic research. Just look at PO. They grate too much against the clear conscience of "civilised" society...

I recently saw a list of about 5 or 6 different studies on the number of 'excess' deaths in Iraq, but I didn't save the reference. I do remember that the low number was a recent study that came in at about 150,000. It ranged up to 1.3 million on the high end.

The 5 million forced from their homes is clearly the fault of the US Gov't. (more so than specifically the US military).

As Secretary of State Colin Powell advised President George W. Bush "It is like the Pottery Barn. You break it, you own it".

That includes moral responsibility for all of the consequences.

Little Hope for the suffering people of Iraq,


Powell was attempting to simplify for his audience. Duties of an occupying power are spelled out in Hague Convention of 1907,Articles 42-56.
U.S. is a signatory, the Convention is part of our own law.
Needless to say 42-56 have all been violated wholesale.
USA, in general, and specifically under Bush, does not engage in "moral responsibility" or even legal responsibility.

Any problem America has is because of the terrorists. We need 100 more years of War in Iraq; we don't need to trade with the middle east, they only have burka's. Thanks McCain, you're going to make the perfect dictator... uh I mean President.

Other than Paul in the whitehouse, America has no hope after the next election.

If one includes the fact that Paul thinks PO is bull, we have no hope, period.


Re: The Peak Oil Crisis: The Future Of Our Cars – Part 2

If, how lovely, it were only:

The nine million gallons of gasoline we currently use in the U.S. each day simply will not be available in the quantities desired at any price.

That should read 9.1 Million BARRELS per day! Each and every day...or if you like gallons: 382.2 MILLION Gallons per day...rain or shine.

For those on the metric system, 1.447 BILLION Litres Or...9.222 TRILLION cups if your homish (jj).

PER DAY(in the US ONLY!).

9.1 Million gallons is a dream...the US could supply that on its own with about 210 Million gallons per day in reserve.

Ok..so it's a probably a typo...but just thought I would demonstrate the scale to the new viewers.

While Tom Whipple did make a bit of a mistake (call it a typo), I think he's got a good grasp on the beginnings of the problem. How will the U.S. be able to continue our transportation system in a new world with less and less gasoline and diesel fuel available each year? One immediate approach is to combine trips and put more riders into each vehicle trip. Back in the 1970's oil crisis, it was often noted that a VW van could achieve 30 mpg and that loaded with 6 people could thus produce 180 passenger miles per gallon. Compare that with a large SUV getting 16 mpg while carrying only one person. In other countries, we find repeated references to vehicles carrying many people, such as trucks with many folks standing up on the bed and buses with people riding on top. Small motorcycles and scooters can also produce high MPG transportation for individuals.

The obvious fact is that many opportunities are available to reduce transport fuel consumption, but that the cultural changes required will be very difficult for many of the FWO to accept.

E. Swanson

Of course, it was a typo. He has been writing about PO for a long time (guess I expected him to catch it).

Just thought I would throw out the mind-numbing numbers in a couple forms for a head shake.

Remittances to Mexico drop as U.S. economy slows, enforcement increases

For the first time in years, the flow of remittances – greenbacks from Mexico's many migrants in the U.S. – was virtually flat along what the World Bank calls the planet's largest migration corridor. Mexico's Central Bank reported Wednesday that it received nearly $24 billion in 2007, compared with $23.74 billion in 2006, after several years of double-digit increases.

The government cited the sluggish economy in the U.S. and increased vigilance by U.S. officials.

That is certainly good news! Arizona has brought in hefty punishments and fines for business owners who hire illegals, and other states are following suit. I forecast as things get worse in 2008 we'll see more sweeps, laws changed to allow sweeping of schools and welfare rolls, etc. And the gov't handout, $800 checks or whatever it is, going to illegals is sure to make for a lot of really pissed off people. I know $800 is a bar tip to a lot here, but down at the wide base-of-the-social-pyramid level, that's a lot of money.

Illegal immigrants are excluded from the rebates, in both the House and Senate versions.

If they can't keep 'em out of the schools etc how are they going to keep them from getting rebate checks under 5 or 6 different names?

They can keep them out of the schools if they want to. Mostly, they don't want to.

Same with working illegally. They need a social security number, and the IRS knows immediately if it's a fake. But it's not in their interest to tell anyone. Illegal workers usually don't file returns, so it's money the IRS gets to keep. Why should they report the identity theft?

But when it comes to giving back money...that's a whole different story.

They don't have social security numbers, they have ISTNs or something like that. They all begin with '9'. Even the dumbest government programmer in the country can handle this. IF DIGIT_1 == 9 THEN NO_REBATE_FOR_YOU

In case the programmers are dumber than I think, count me in with those who will be extremely pissed off. But in general I think this is a non issue being floated to keep the larger issue in the spotlight.

The purpose of the rebates isn't to reward people for being American. The purpose is to put money in the hands of people who will spend it, in the hopes that will juice the economy.

This is an economic stimulus package, not a gift. If illegals will spend it in America (questionable, I'll grant), then it will do as much good to give it to them as to give it to you.

When it comes down to not eating, or losing your house/apartment, etc, I think people will finally be willing to take a step down in their employment. As that happens on a large scale, we will see jobs previously "abandoned" to immigrants such as framing/roofing houses, washing dishes at the local cafe, etc being competed for by people who were born in the United States. As that competition increases, you can expect more legal wrangling to occur.

Secondarily, if given the choice between hiring someone of a questionable legal status (assumption based upon race, of course) and someone who's more likely a citizen (once again, assumption based by race) I think most employers will go for the "safer" employee. I think things will be pretty rough for immigrants in 2008.

How much would you pay to make sure there is NOT a revolution in Mexico? Seems we've spent hundreds of billions propping up pro-Western governments far away - do we really want to cause a civil war right next door?

Not that I mind, though. I'm cheering for the Zapatistas.

We already have a Class War Revolution in Mexico. Being hid real well by the Media, but taking place none the less. Been going on since the stolen elections.

Jeremy Legget, the author of 'Half gone' is on the BBC today, commenting on Shell's £13.9bn profit.
His position is that not enough finds are being put into exploration, and we should not encourage tar sands and China's plans for oil from coal for GW reasons.
He says that the majors are just going through the motions on renewables.
Here is the website in case they post a link later:

I think the behavior of the majors is a huge tell.

This is a multiple choice exam. Using only a black ink ball point pen, CROSS ONLY ONE of the boxes below.

Time allowed: 30 minutes.

Our glorious prime-minister and his glove-puppet chancellor have just worked out that public finances will be in an 8 billion quid hole by 2010. Now they can fill it by:

1. Squeezing even more out of an already overtaxed joe public.

2. They can announce windfall taxes on evil oil companies.

3. They could cut back on the public sector, labour voting, none job holders that have flourished in the last ten years.

Sir, sir !

Its a trick question sir, the answer is 4. Impose carbon taxes and trading on emissions and imports from countries that haven't done their fair share in addressing climate change.

Not only does that shift the public attention away from higher effective taxes, AND have that nice green halo, it ALSO helps the balance of trade hole created by the decline in the north sea.

Green is the new black, it hides unsightly bulges and goes with everything.

Tax the footballers! :P
License the NHS to sell cannabis
Apply get your own back style humiliation to disgraced MP's

Internet failure hits two continents

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (CNN) -- Large swathes of Asia, the Middle East and north Africa had their high-technology services crippled Thursday following a widespread Internet failure which brought many businesses to a standstill and left others struggling to cope.

I wonder if the Internet will last as long as some think. I could foresee a future where it becomes simply not worth maintaining the infrastructure.

I know I wasn't one to say it would.

The Internet is complexity, of a very high order. Complex systems will be among the first to fail...that simple.

Power being a big part of that failure. Once even small chunks start failing the overall reliability crumbles.

Of course, this is my opinion. I am sure there are counter opinions that the Internet will save everything and we will all telecommute.

We will see.

People tend to ignore the fact that the Internet sucks up huge amounts of electricity. People ignore this because well, electricity is... invisible. And the pollution from running the Internet and from manufacturing its parts is out of sight, out of mind.

Look up something called Coltan. This stuff is used in tantalum capacitors, which as a hardware dweebie I can tell you, are not just in your cell phone but in EVERYTHING. I mean, in the control panel of your microwave, in your digital clock, in your car, in your flatscreen, everything.

Essentially our high-tech wonderland is built on the backs of African slave children.

So, you have server farms using as much juice as a small town, idiotic things like boat anchors taking out major cables, and the whole thing is built on the hand-labor of children who really ought to be in school.

People tend to ignore the fact that the Internet sucks up huge amounts of electricity.

Well, no it doesn't. There are computers that are dedicated to the internet. And the total power these computers use is the amount that the internet "sucks up" as you call it. And that is not very much when compared to other equipment and appliances that use electricity.

Your laptop of regular computer uses very little electricity. Not even as much as the combined total of the light bulbs in your house. Your heater or air conditioner uses many times the electricity that your computer uses. The electricity dedicated to the internet is peanuts when compared to other equipment.

I agree with you on the capacitors however the same story goes for everything else we use. We use coal to generate power yet pollution dumped into the atmosphere from coal causes untold misery in respiratory diseases and deaths every year. The acid rain from coal pollution is destroying forest and lakes. Every technology we have comes at a huge price in damage to people and our environment. We cannot simply single out capacitors and say "these are evil"! All technology is both evil and good. It causes death and misery but gives us times of plenty. (That in itself may be the greatest evil of all, but that is another story.)

But my main point is the internet sucks up very little electricity when compared to other equipment and appliances.

Ron Patterson

the internet sucks up very little electricity

There's the internet infrastructure (backbones, etc) and there's the machines that comprise "the content" (which includes things like backend db's, etc). Compared with other energy using devices scaled by the number of people using them (air con, cars, leafblowers, etc) both consume relatively little electricity. However, the content machines for a given site are still highly centralised so they can impose very heavy demands in one place. (Look back a year or so to see articles about datacentres being relocated to various places with nearby hydroelectric power.) I'm not worried about the internet from an absolute energy usage perspective, but I'm not sure some of the key content servers wouldn't be vulnerable to local energy supply problems.

(Look back a year or so to see articles about datacentres being relocated to various places with nearby hydroelectric power.)

Huh? No, I have never heard of such a thing. Could you supply us with a URL explaining this bit of information? Critical data centers, those that cannot afford any down time whatsoever, have back up diesel generators. There would be no need to locate near hydroelectric power. That would give then no advantage whatsoever.

Very few data centers are dedicated to the internet except those operated by Google, Yahoo, and a few other search engines and perhaps Ebay.

I worked in data centers for NASA for the last 17 years of my working life. Computers used to be huge power hogs. No more. They now use very little power per megabyte processed. The average blade processor uses only 100 to 200 watts.

It is simply an urban legend that the internet uses huge amounts of power. It is a myth pure and simple. Computers use the same amount of power whether they are transmitting data or not. And few computers or data centers are dedicated to the internet, though most do use the internet to communicate with other data centers.

Ron Patterson

Iceland is looking at installing a much larger fiber optic cable to Europe and setting up a large # of data centers in Iceland.

Their competitive advantage (offsetting the cost of a new undersea cable) ?

Cheap hydroelectric and geothermal power.

Actually computers do use a fair amount of power. Much more than hair dryers, microwaves, recharging cell phones combined.

I bought an Apple MacMini (31 watts with Airport off, 33 watts with it on) to go with my LCD screen (48 to 51 watts) in order to cut power wasted on my computer. It is still a significant fraction of the 3,000 kWh I hope to use this year.

Best Hopes for Energy Efficiency,


Note that I said the internet doesn't use lots of power in toto, but that a big centralised data centre can use lots of power locally. They are also performing much more processing per watt than they used to even ten years ago, but the amount being processed is certainly increasing noticeably faster than efficiency was bringing power consumption down. (Note: in my definition of the internet, I'm including any computing that's necessary for the site to be meaniningful, ie, amazon's order db, etc).

Anyway, links culled from google mention in various points Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Ask.com, Sabey (no, I haven't heard of them either) and Cisco in connect with the local power usage of their datacentres.


Anyway, it's not my immediate area of research so I can't quote more reliable sources, but I hope this is illuminating.

Technology is great for you and me. It's not too great for the child-slaves used up to dig the materials out with their hands.

But I suppose they don't matter.

Hmm.... let me come up with two examples of how to live.....

Charles Babbage. Great inventor, one of the inventors of the modern computer, did a lot of work for the British government, navy, and so on. He helped calculate things like artillery firing tables and such. Born rich and managed to stay largely that way. Set up laws against all sorts of activities of the poor, especially against the poorest, such as begging, playing music on the street, etc. His work for the gov't helped the British Empire to suppress its subjects, without and within. Babbage's rants against the poor were legendary.

Charles Dickens. Born poor. Worked in the "dark satanic mills" and never forgot it. Worked his way out by having neater handwriting than the next prole, literally, then worked into writing. Became quite popular and quite wealthy, at least for a writer. Always championed the little guy. By writing well got some of the rich bastards to see what's going on and to commiserate with the poor, and brought about some improvement to the lives of the poor. Ate well no doubt once he was "in the money" but every impression is, he'd have been completely happy living on porridge and raising a few chickens. A profoundly humble, and good, man.

So then the question is, how do you want to live? I'm using a computer now but I won't once it dies. I cannot in good conscience buy another. For my hopefully future career as street artist and street musician, I'm finding books, and I mean old ones bought for 50 cents or a dollar, to be much more useful than the net. And when I don't need them any more I'll pass them on to someone else who can use them.

How, exactly, has the Internet given us "times of plenty" when the Amish have for example had by far the most plenty on a per-capita basis for the last 100 years?

Yes. For all the activity that we have resting on this system, I think it is probably just ridiculously frail. If I find a site with useful info on it, I save a copy in case the link is never available again.

Don't toss out your old dialup modems, folks. While phone lines are also tenuous, they would be the first links to be resurrected after storms, breakdowns, etc.. Direct computer to computer over a phoneline is a big backstep, but it's a good tool to know about, just the same. (Bulletin Boards, AdHoc Networking, etc) Also, that old 56k can be linked (I'm told) to a radio and run with some PacketRadio software, as another workaround for isolated computers.. there are Packet Radio clubs all over the world already. Wiki has some links on this..


I believe that short-wave radios will be good to have on hand to listen in on what's going on in the rest of the world, and possibly make an occasional transmission to update others as well. That, and some sort of hand-powered genset to power the thing.

Residential power is unlikely to be major distruped except at peak times to start with. The industry will suffer the first wave. A network of solar powered / battery routers might work, but it relies on the various data centres in parts of the world to still be operating.


From the link

Despite the "not so sunny" weather in India, the duo found a solar-powered system that would function under variable weather conditions.

Baikie developed the software that powers the intelligent solar charge controller. When power is low, the router limits bandwidth and can even prevent streaming media. When power is stable, the router opens up full access again. After successfully testing a prototype for a rainy month in San Francisco, Baikie was pleased. The network never went down the entire month.

..and old CB radios can be had pretty affordably these days, for local connections, too.

I do love the old tools, too, but I don't think we'll get confused for Ante-bellum Farmers.


I save things to my disk and CD's .
Saving all the How-To's and DIY info I can. Food, Medical, Shopstuff, etc.

PDF's or just copy the whole web page, paste it in a word doc and save that to CD. To help out, read this.

The Best Brands of CD-R Discs
for Long-Term Data Storage


The Grid and the Net will not be with us someday.

An official at Egypt's Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was believed that a boat's anchor may have caused the problems, although this was unconfirmed, AP reported. He added that it might take up to a week to repair the fault.

Kuwait's Ministry of Communications said the problem could take two weeks to solve, according to a statement carried by the state news agency, KUNA.

There were concerns in India that an Internet slowdown could affect trading patterns at the country's two major exchanges, the National Stock Exchange (NSE) in Delhi and the SENSEX exchange in Bombay.

Damn! Boat anchors knocking out Internet across continents, squirrels starting fires in refineries, tree limbs causing blackouts. Got Olduvai?

Connect the dots, man! It's an anchor/tree-limb/squirrel conspiracy! Wink-wink nudge-nudge say... no... more.

My understanding of the basic TCP/IP protocols is that the internet is *extremely* flexible and resilient.

What I do fear highly is the adoption of proprietary protocols which mandate ignorance of their operation by way of "digital millenium copyright act" type legislation combined with legal enforcement of anyone caught sharing info on how the system works.

I do not believe our Congress has any respect for how important our understanding of how our technical infrastructure works or they would have never signed off on such restrictive legislation.

I feel our Congress simply does not have the guts to stand up to business and tell them that patent protection is offered in exchange for making public how it works. If its closed-source, then its a "trade secret" and government protection does not apply.

Another thing - abandonment of property. A landlord friend of mine just "inherited" a houseful full of stuff from a tenant who vacated the premises and left the stuff. When I get notices of "cessation of support" from software companies, why isn't the software considered abandoned?

I feel that ignorance of how our stuff works is a very dangerous thing. If one is ignorant, he becomes a slave to those who know.

I feel our Congress has legislated technological ignorance to a whole generation of upcoming American youth... for a song! (RIAA was one of the prime pushers for the Digital Millenium Copyright Act).

I felt a lot better thirty years ago, on the resilience of the American communication systems. I knew there were radio-TV fixit shops in every town, and every block had a Radio Amateur (HAM), very knowledgeable on communication - and had all sorts of backup. I knew there was no way on God's Green Earth that anyone could knock Americas communication systems offline. Even I could cobble together a couple of horizontal output tubes from a TV and get on the air with it.

I have seen this new "digital TV" stuff - it works great as long as the signal is perfect, but let a bit of interference in the channel, and it completely fails. Unlike analog, there is no graceful degradation.

What do we do when everything is encrpyted and locked, and we lose the key? The next "terror attack" has a high probability of involving nuclear stuff, and that implies EMP. A lot of complex stuff is apt to fail. I cannot receive encrypted stuff - even simple audio - with what can be cobbled together with remaining undamaged stuff. Back in the "old days", I could at least get something "off the air" with a crystal radio if need be.

I am afraid with all this legislation, pandering to those who want to control everything, that all the robust older protocols - which were open to everything - will be outlawed. By signature of those elected to public office.

Over at Automatic Earth


Ilargi, and Stoneleigh found this story...

“Ackman:It is hard to fill a bucket with a hole at the bottom.”

By the monoline activist, William Ackman.

All I have to say is - Bravo, that has to the best one line statement about the current financial crisis I have read to date.

For more info on this bounce thru Automatic Earth, above.

From another blog: Energy Shortage


Nothing terribly exciting...but just constant and continuous problems in some regions (for a laundry list of reasons probably).

I think this site should be entered in the Blog Roll at TOD.

It provides something I have tried to compile on occasion on a continuous basis.

When you look at the list, you have to wonder...is this likely to improve?

I don't see the necessary infrastructure work going on ANYWHERE to fix these problems. Including first world areas like UK and Canada.

Thanx PTO. I know exactly what TPTB are thinking.

How do we keep AAA ratings on worthless garbage debt.

And keep the credibility of the ratings agencies.

And siphon more wealth off at the same time.

Watch Spain. The ECB is acting as it's Fed.

I wonder what the Germans are going to think when they find out
they're bailing out the Spanish?

“Jerome Kerviel should be awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics”

The Automatic Earth: Debt Rattle, January 31 2008

Ilargi: Bill Ackman’s letter on the bond insurers yesterday afternoon, as we reported, threw an icy cold shower on the hoped-for market revival in the wake of the Fed’s 0.5% rate cut. While the overall implications of Ackman’s well-timed action have yet to be assessed, there’s a chilling and deepening sense of fear in the US economy this morning.

MBIA can presumably be written off. The $15 billion rescue package for the entire sector, initiated by New York Insurance Superintendent Eric Dinallo, is laughably inadequate in view of recent events, since the company insures over half a trillion dollar 'worth' of paper that may not have been properly graded. There could be attempts by the Fed to act, but it's hard to see anything remotely enough to restore confidence. I've said before that the ratings agencies have their own problems with clients' trust in their work, and they will be reluctant to dig themselves into an ever deeper hole. And even if they'd wanted to, Bill Ackman's recent revelations leave them no choice.

Standard & Poor's said it cut or may reduce ratings of $534 billion of subprime-mortgage securities and collateralized debt obligations, as home loan defaults rise. The downgrades may extend losses at the world's banks to more than $265 billion and have a "ripple impact" on the broader financial markets, S&P said.

The securities represent $270.1 billion, or 47 percent, of subprime mortgage bonds rated between January 2006 and June 2007, S&P said today in a statement. The New York-based ratings company also said it may cut 572 CDOs valued at $263.9 billion. [..]

Under accounting rules, many smaller banks haven't been required to write down their holdings until the credit ratings fell, enabling them to avoid the losses that have crippled Citigroup Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co. and UBS AG.

Ilargi: That last line's one hell of a scary statement, especially when you realize this is not confined to the US, it's a global phenomenon. Thousands of small banks and large ánd small funds sit on trillions 'worth' of waste paper. When MBIA rattles its last breath, Jericho's dominoes will start tumbling.

Ah, but the market is all a-titter today because MBIA says it will keep its AAA rating. And we all know corporate whores officers never issue misleading statements, so it must be true. Buy financials!

Notice that we've gotten zero input from the ratings
agencies(RA's) on these statements.

Neither Bloomberg nor CNBC bothered to have any of the
RA's on to discuss.


"MBIA's Conference call lifts spirits" on CNBC.

Witch Doctors and VooDoo Magic is what we're getting.

Dow's in the black, you silly chicken littles! I'm heading to Wal-Mart now to buy a big-screen TV and a double pack of Doritos! Hey, the most holy and sacred Super Bowl Sunday comes but once a year!

Seriously...I think the party may drag on a lot longer than many here think. People are naturally optimistic, and business people especially so. They want to believe.

Agent Mulder, he wanted to believe too!

For those unfamiliar with the X-Files:
I Want to Believe!

Cars and power plants won't run on hopes and dreams. But what about the economy? Sure, the economy can run on wishes for a while, it's usually called a bubble.

But now there is a bubble shortage. We are running out of exploitable things and fleece-able population segments.

What you call optimism, I call denial, which is why this party is going to sail on for a while with a perhaps modest decline, then pass a tipping point and enter a steep decline, and then crash hard.

But I, too, would like to believe, only it's in something that isn't a culturally bankrupt chasm filled only with drones, talking heads, and psychopaths, plotting to subdue the biosphere and have dominion over it until nothing remains but a smoldering cinder.

On a lighter note, I don't know why they call it the Rose Bowl, the Super Bowl. It's football, not bowling. I think the name derives from a subtle ploy to get Americans to eat more. A superbowl of chips, another superbowl of dip, a superbowl of hot wings, and a superbowl of ranch dressing. Then you need lots of beer to wash it down. Then put out the stomach fire with various pharmaceuticals. All for circus and bread, as if Americans need to be eating more bread.

Yeah, but as long as the economy bubbles along, we can outbid everyone else for coal for the power plants and oil for the cars.

It is actually the Rose Bowl that gave its name to all the football "bowl" games. The Rose Bowl Stadium looks like a bowl. It was generalized to all the post-season college games, then to the NFL championship, the Super Bowl.

At the current rate of depreciation, the Chinese Yuan (7.18 to the dollar) will be worth more than the greenback by 2021 (at which time the reigning leader of the US might be explaining to the sheeple why exporting American oil to Chinese refineries is "efficient" and "good business for America".

I love all the hand wringing about economic collapse. It's great fun to come to TOD for my regular dose of hysteria. But clearly, I’m not as worried about it all. Why not?

Let me start with the assumption that most reading this are not believers in the growth model of economics, that we share the understanding that modern global capitalism is not sustainable. Let me also assume that most of us also understand that those who steer that system aren’t going to let the rest of us wrench control from their wealthy little fingers. (In other words, no realistic alternative will be allowed to enter into public discussion.)

If these two assumptions are correct, than I believe we must conclude that no graceful climb down from growth based global capitalism to a people centered sustainable economy is possible. Therefore, the only way we get to sustainability is for the global capitalist economy to collapse. Is that what Mr. Whitney is chronicling? If so, then I must ask, why are we all so fired up and concerned about economic collapse when it is necessary to reach a more sustainable way of life?

Yes, I understand that there will be suffering and that the poor are the most defenseless during the collapse. But that’s going to happen anyway. So why don’t we stop bemoaning the credit collapse and start trying to find ways where we can turn it into a positive and sustainable future. The last thing we should be doing is looking for ways to prop up the global economy so that we can get a few more years of planet and people destroying “growth” out of it.

I think some people are looking forward to the crash. You may be mistaking interest with worry.

However, others fear that economic collapse will eliminate our ability to deal with peak oil. Whatever your pet solution - light rail, hydrogen, THAI, nuclear power plants, algae, ammonia, wind turbines, clean coal, a million wheelbarrows - you won't be getting it if the economy collapses.

When I see people suggesting what should or shouldn't be done by the Federal Reserve, the Congress, the President, the government, whomever, to "shore up the economy," "save the economy," "avoid economic collapse," I'm pretty sure that what they mean is they want the party to continue.

As for pet solutions - any solution which depends on a growth economy to be implemented is no pet, it's a monster.

Perhaps the problem is in what we see as the source of our problems. If one believes that what we are facing is simply a limitation on the supply of oil, then it's possible to maintain the fantasy of endless growth. But if one believes that it is the growth ethic itself that is the problem, well then, bad as loosing my job will be, perhaps it will lead to a better world in the long run.

When I see people suggesting what should or shouldn't be done by the Federal Reserve, the Congress, the President, the government, whomever, to "shore up the economy," "save the economy," "avoid economic collapse," I'm pretty sure that what they mean is they want the party to continue.

I think the only reason you hear stuff like that is because people are quoting non-peak oilers' articles. I doubt many here really think the economy can be saved, at least in the long term.

As for pet solutions - any solution which depends on a growth economy to be implemented is no pet, it's a monster.

I think they're hoping that they can harness some of the growth now, while it's available, and use it to build the infrastructure that will enable a new way of living.

For example, Stuart's scenario. It's not happening if the economy collapses.

For example, Stuart's scenario. It's not happening if the economy collapses.

I would mostly definitely dispute this. If by collapse you mean the economy is cut in half, well then, yes. But it would take a nuclear war for that. Hardly likely.

If you mean depression (say 10% shrinkage over a couple of years) ... all that would do is delay the point in time when the ramp up of solar became necessary.

The Great Depression did not stop the roll out of new tech. Refrigeration for household use, for instance, became wide spread during the Depression. I'd provide a reference but the book is back in library.

But hey, from wikipedia:

Practical household refrigerators were introduced in the 1915 and gained wider acceptance in the United States in the 1930s as prices fell and non-toxic, non-flammable synthetic refrigerants such as Freon or R-12 were introduced.



I would add that a huge amount of technical development occurred during the '30s. And when the war came along, much of it was fast tracked and pressed into service.

I would mostly definitely dispute this. If by collapse you mean the economy is cut in half, well then, yes. But it would take a nuclear war for that. Hardly likely.

I think many would disagree with you. Both about whether the economy might be cut in half (or worse), and whether a nuclear war is likely.


I didn't say that's what I believed.

This is basically a continuation of a discussion we had in yesterday's DrumBeat. That's where the nuclear war and economic collapse predictions are. And no, they aren't from me.

My vision of the future is far worse. ;-)

If you mean depression (say 10% shrinkage over a couple of years) ... all that would do is delay the point in time when the ramp up of solar became necessary. The Great Depression did not stop the roll out of new tech.

During the Great Depression, the U.S. domestic oil (i.e., energy) outlook was fundamentally different from today's. Therefore the economic conditions during the Great Depression were fundamentally different from those that we will face in the not-too-distant future (Stagflation?).

George, you would agree that "rolling out" a new generation of "tech," on a truly unprecedented scale, would require a cheap and reliable supply of energy? If so, then your comparisons to the 1930's comparisons are very misleading: you completely ignore the fact that our primary energy sources, oil and natural gas, will be in relentless decline, incredibly expensive, and likely only available intermittently.

George, you would agree that "rolling out" a new generation of "tech," on a truly unprecedented scale, would require a cheap and reliable supply of energy?

Actually, I disagree. Well, partly. The energy supply needs to fairly reliable. But not cheap.

Many of the biggest changes needed don't require prosperity at all. ie. people need to buy small light cars and smaller fridges. Easy stuff, really.

Tech worked in the '30s not just because of cheap oil, but mostly because it found ways to pay for itself.

Tech worked in the '30s not just because of cheap oil, but mostly because it found ways to pay for itself.

I would also say that the "Tech" was ususally something that could be "Prototyped" in a garage and was "Low Tech" by today's standards.

In the 30's by and large if you held something in your hand it was either Metal, Wood, Glass, or Leather/Bone. (yes and of course Bakelite).


Found this great link that looks at 1930's tech developments


Just a quick glance reveals other biggies: fiber glass and cathode ray tubes, for instance, saw the light of day. But the list is long.

My "pet solution" includes walking, bicycling (without all those nasty cars around), revitalized bus and rail transport, etc. Even after the economy collapses, walking and bicycling will be practical.
But I agree that an economic collapse would slow down investment in renewables (which is also part of my "pet solution").
I don't look forward to a crash, and am not sure that the coming transition will be a crash anyway, societies have muddled through plenty of difficulties before and the US has massive amounts of fat (redundancy).

ammonia was used as motor fuel in many places in Europe during WWII in severe fuel shortages and economic ruins. destitution is often needed to remind people, from time to time, what is essential and what is practical.

Be careful what you wish for. The forces readying our next dose of "shock capitalism" are probably better prepared for the coming crisis than the forces of "shock sustainablism." Instead of our next self-proclaimed "saviors" just peeling back the New Deal, they may go straight to feudalism. Get ready for a fight, or get ready to be a serf.

No campro... What you see is the "shock capitalists" are getting a dose of their own medicine. It is their deal that's going down.

What comes next will be interesting, but it won't involve a bunch of suits syndicating "value".

If you deal with these people on a regular basis, you know how incompetent they really are.
I just returned from a meeting at a reasonably large corp, and always amazed at the ignorance of the corporate world, when it deviates a little from the imaginary world they inhabit. Most of the successful one's are sociopaths, as they are the only people that detached and compartmentalized to act this unskilled.

What you see is the "shock capitalists" are getting a dose of their own medicine. It is their deal that's going down.

I am sure there is more than a few billionaires scared now that paying your mortgage is a business decision and not some sort of moral play.

Not just mortgages, debt of all kinds, student loans to credit cards. They have fleeced the people til there is nothing left to fleece. Heck, beyond nothing left to fleece. They incited the masses to immense debt. The most they will be able to do is garnish wages which has a cap of 15%. Most people are spending far more than that servicing their debt. Quit servicing your debt, and have all of your wages until some creditor finally pays to put you into garnishment.(That could be years, the normal process is to bump it from collection agency to collection agency.) Most people already have caller ID and don't answer the phone. If you do get Garnished, the 15% is still less than you were paying and once in garnishment you are invincible. No one else can touch you. Creditors are forced to get in line for their chance at the 15%. IRS gets first dibs, followed by Dept of Education, then everyone else.

Another thought. If there are millions in the same boat as you, how long do you think it will take for them to get around to you?

Great site, Ilargi, BTW

I'm trying to get my IT personnel to get me logged into

I'll be there ASAP.

"When MBIA rattles its last breath, Jericho's dominoes will start tumbling."

The Knickerbocker Trust of our times.

Panic of 1907 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
On October 21, the National Bank of Commerce ceased to honor checks of Knickerbocker Trust, causing a run on the Knickerbocker Trust. ...
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panic_of_1907 - 29k

"Since we now know that the travails of Ambac and MBIA are much worse than originally thought (and they were already thought to be worse" before), what does that tell us about the real default rate of subslime and other mortgage debt? Could that also be "much worse" than officially reported?

You bet!

Conclusion: We have very likely been lied to about the true extent of the mortgage default crisis. What else is new?

And since that very mortgage debt was leveraged up to about the fifth layer of the earth's stratosphere, if there are that many, or maybe even as far as the outer reaches of our solar system, the problems that arise out of the US subslime morass will soon make Godzilla look like a toy puppet in comparison."


Pandemonium, Hell's Capital

"When MBIA rattles its last breath, Jericho's dominoes will start tumbling."

I hope not!

Jericho Missile

Jericho III

Jericho III is thought to have been in service since mid-2005. With a payload of 1,000 - 1,300 kg it has a range of 6,500-7000km[2][3], and probably significantly greater with a payload of 350kg (one Israeli nuclear warhead). This gives Israel nuclear strike capability against Africa, Europe, and most of Asia.

Pandemonium? Isn't that on the Periodic Table between Administratium and Unobtanium?

Yes, Exactly. I think it's one of the Rare Earth's.

Don't forget Upsidaisium

Agree...isn't the Spain news frightening! I know I have said before, the US may not get the worst of this mess.

Watch UK next. Bubbles everywhere...going POP!

Re: ratings...same 'skullduggery' that props up CountryDied.

They can SAY anything they way.

Still the ACKMAN comment, was best -

"It is hard to fill a bucket with a hole in the bottom"

I would add only one more thing...there is no bottom at all.

"It is hard to fill a bucket with a hole in the bottom"
(This is actually the title of a chapter in the letter Bill Ackman sent to the SEC)

5.00 PM updates on today's bond insecurities party at The Automatic Earth

That line's as true for MBIA and the rest of the bond insurers as it is for the entire US economy.

Which is why OPEC is absolutely spot on and dead right:

...... the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries argues it can do little to help avoid a slowdown in the United States, its leading customer, that could curtail demand for the cartel's oil.

"I don't see what increasing supply of oil will do to the economy, psychologically maybe it would help but I doubt it..."

Truer words have never been spoken. What's happening to the US economy has nothing to do with oil.

You just got to love the fact that he suggests it might help a little "psychologically". I don't see the Saudi's as a nation of comedians or thighslappers, but that one's not bad at all.

I don't see the necessary infrastructure work going on ANYWHERE to fix these problems

Switzerland - National vote in 1998 to spend 31 billion Swiss francs over 20 years to improve rail system. Many goals (1 billion Chf just for quieter rail cars), but #1 goal is to transfer freight from heavy trucks to (hydro)electric rail. Major local rail infrastructure around Zurich as well.

BTW, adjust for currency & population and this is like USA voting $1 trillion to improve our rail system.

France - TGV program very close to finishing Paris-centric plans drawn up 30+ years ago. Second phase will make more international connections and connecting French cities without going through Paris.

Only five French towns of over 100,000 population do not have a tram or active plans for one. 1,500 km of new tram lines (Light Rail) planned (I am trying to get more details, anyone ?)

On 1/1/06 President Chirac announced 20 year plan to electrify every meter of French rail and "burn not one drop of oil".

Rent-a-bicycle program expanding rapidly. First half hour free. First 10,000, then 20,000 soon more bikes in Paris. Started last November in Toulouse, Nancy etc. (ANYONE HAVE A LIST ?)

EdF just started construction of the next generation of nuclear reactor (EPR) close to England, the second reactor of the type (Finland #1). Export sales to England are part of the plan.

France is promoting new geothermal (ground loop heat pumps) installations for domestic space heating at a modest pace.

Sweden - Prior Gov't set unrealistic goal getting off oil by 2020 (memory vague on date) but a series of actions to reduce oil use underway. Even if they are not oil free in 2020, they will have made significant steps.

Thailand is trying, etc.

I will note that if a nation is going in the right direction, but not fast enough, it is relatively easy to speed up projects in an emergency.

For example, France is 10.1% of the time into finishing the electrification of SCNF (all the main lines were already electrified on 1/1/6) and probably has engineering plans for at least a third of the work completed (my SWAG). In a few years (3?, 4?) they could finish what was planned to be done in 20 years at an economical, easy to budget pace.

Best Hopes for SOME nations preparing for Post-Peak Oil,


What does the US get?
In the course of last night's GOP debate in the valley of the Automobile, Huckabee and Romney raved about the great return on infrastructure investment, to relieve the people spending so much time stuck in traffic, wasted fuel, etc. They spoke only of more/bigger highways, not a peep of mass transit.

By God, L.A. needs more freeways. It has worked so well so far. Just a few more lanes and that one hour commute will be cut to 58 minutes.

Here in Colorado, Denver solved their problem a couple of years ago by spending billions on new lanes on the interstate. Problem solved. Not!!

And this was Huckabee's short term stimulus package.

At least the Dems have been talking about spending money on green initiatives. Admittedly, it is not a short term fix. But then, our real problems are the long term, not the next six months.

Huckabee did not make a good point,though. These rebates will mainly go to China. Might as well just ship the dollars over directly. And who is going to hold the debt of all this additional spending.

Do they realize what a clown show these debates are?

Someone ought to tell McCain that being slumped over during a debate with your arms folded is not sending a very positive message, especially if age is an issue.

This is where having a bit of a "background" in the car-free movement helps. Analyses have shown that adding up the time spend riding in it, looking for it, fueling it, having it repaired, paying for it, etc., the average American is achieving the equivalent of WALKING at 5MPH.

Also, the more roads, the more traffic. Always.

And, city traffic has moved at about 11-15 MPH since the age of the horse. It was about that speed 150 years ago, it's about that speed now.

15MPH is the speed at which injuries start happening. Slower than that, fender benders are minor, people tend to bounce off of hoods fairly unharmed, bicyclists dust themselves off, get back on, and ride on down the road. This is the speed range at which all those moped accidents happen in Asian countries, where everyone kind of dusts themselves off, picks up their moped, and goes on.

What's bad is in the US you have suburbs where kids can't play on their own street because traffic is going by at 45MPH.

The end result of all the conclusions of the car-free movement is that yes, you are better off biking it, arranging your life around something other than driving daily, and finding some other cause in life than having a taller SUV than those people next door.

The various car-free books are worth reading, and considered passe' enough that chances are good your local library has them.

The corollary of your observation that bigger roads = more traffic is that smaller roads = less traffic. When roads are very small, there's no traffic at all!

Exactly. This is the consistent finding. And in some city shopping areas, they've in effect made the roads too small for cars, generally by putting up big nasty cement blocks (generally round, in the form of large planters, etc the main thing is they'll win a fight with a car) and made them "pedestrian malls" and the effect is always the same - NO car traffic and people love it.

Geneva. 7 or 8 new trams, right back up to where they were in 1930 to the country. More boats. (Mostly diesel engines.) More pedibus (walking paths, policed, for children from 3 up.) More noctambus - buses that run at night, from 1 00 to 3 00, bringing drunken party types and coke heads back to their suburbs. Dial a bus... I could go on, it is all very sensible, reassuring and enviro correct.

But Switz. was, until 2 years ago, an exporter of electricity, it now imports it (the gw are not too high, and in fact the whole import/export calculation is probably irrelevant, as electricity is by its physical nature, and the human constructed grid, a regional affair that puts paid to the arbitrary frontiers set by various pols in treaties in 1850) and our energy minister is asleep, perhaps deliberately, at the wheel.

It is certain that Switz. , and the region around parts of it, will be lacking electricity in a few years, will have problems... Of course ‘conservation’ and reducing use etc. can, will, accomplish a lot. Hiking tariffs will help. Geneva just voted a new law that water and electricity were common goods, privatization is verboten from now on, which is pious but symbolic, as the state organism will have to compete in the ‘free market’ ... first price hike, got it yesterday in the mail.

Geneva has 4 elective tariffs for electricity which helps, you can buy the cheapest (from fossil fuel plant in Luxemburg) or the most expensive (max green, support for solar, etc.) or on two positions in between, mostly mix of nuke and hydraulic, etc. All is figured out behind the back of the consumer, but I think they are not lying; those who pay more actually do ‘contribute’. To what exactly is not something I could venture to explain. The controls and the calculations, I have been told, are quite expensive...

On 24 feb we vote on entirely free public transport, the stated aim is to make ppl give up their cars. (Won't pass.) Soon, on more control of pollution of cars - ‘Bad’ ones will not be allowed into the city center, and possibly the banning of SUVs. And so on. Differential car tax, we have already. In short, everything conventional is being done.

But ppl use more energy month over month per cap., the population rises, though new entrants are poor and abstemious - overall, homes get bigger, including subsidized housing for the poor, ppl buy second, third cars, vacation homes, jacuzzis, swimming pools, and though air conditioning was forbidden in the past, the state no longer controls that, they can’t, it would cost too much.

What counts, in the end, is attitude. Awareness, willingness, and having reasonable pols at the helm.

I must step in for two things:

1. Geneva has the greatest cars/population ratio in the world, I have been said (something like 400'000 cars for.. 400'000 inhabitants!).

2. The canton of Geneva's state utility doesn't import nuke electricity.

as for the greatest car/pop ratio, that can stand, its certainly right in 'spirit', even if there are other contenders.

However, the Geneva state util. does import nuke electricity from France. That is one of the worries, the contracts will soon expire.

Hi Alan, we found the cyclocity wiki page with the Services en Fonction section showing who's up and the scale of the operations.

Merci Beaucoup !


I think this site should be entered in the Blog Roll at TOD.
I have noticed that it is now under the TOD Canada listing. You can just click on it there.

That was just the announcement for the site. Automatic Earth...which should be on the blog roll too.

Actually, I was suggesting energyshortage to be added. Very relevant and current news.

S&P Lowers or May Cut $534 Billion of Subprime Debt.
Bank Reserves Are Negative
Bill Ackman's Letter to Rating Agencies Regarding Bond Insurers
Ackman's Letter On Bond Insurer Transparency (PDF WARNING!) (to the SEC)
Fitch strips FGIC of AAA rating.

Isn't deflationary collapse fun? You can bet that MBIA and Ambac are next on the list of downgrades, if the SEC doesn't send them all to jail first.

Well apparently not. Bloomberg is reporting that MBIA said they will keep their AAA rating. That is why stocks surged.


How much longer can this shell game go on?

Same article reports that retailers are dancing in the streets. If Pravda says it is so, it is true.

Well said.

I am ok with a little hyperinflation...keep the system afloat as while.

I personally get a rash around deflation...it hurts :P

However, I agree it is coming...after they pump up a bit.

deflation? silver just hit $17.

John1.5 look over there...



Nothing terribly exciting...but just constant and continuous problems in some regions (for a laundry list of reasons probably).

For me, that's what makes the stories all the more compelling.

I just found out that I've got a fan base at


To: mcgowanjm

Negative growth. Always my fave(my remarks from previous post)

Mickey! You're back!

Where's your comment on the most recent TWIP?

I note that even over at the oildrum, youre starting to get "what does that have to do with anything" replies.

16. To: IMstillRight, war, All (#14)

LMFAO! Hey! I've got a fan club.

400 000 BPD of ehtanol.

You want debate?

Over at TOD, the "trolls" stated that ethanol was not a blending agent for gasdoline!?

Then API puts in a footnote that not only is it but 400 000 bpd is it.

U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 14.6 million barrels per day during the week ending January 25,down 302,000 barrels per day from the previous week's average. Refineries operated at 85.0 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production edged slightly lower compared to the previous week, averaging about 8.9 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production fell last week, averaging nearly 3.9 million barrels per day.

We're down to 85%.

How many time do you see the words" higher", "growing", "up" in the above Paragraph?

And the Fed needs to cut again!

So to recap:

Dollar being destroyed, domestic refineries shutting down. All increases in gas coming from imports, neg EROEI ethanol.

Go on over to Drumbeat/Leanan. I'll be posting this there.

LMFAO. You fool. 8D

"what does that have to do with anything" replies:

Negative EROEI. Debt is energy monetized. No more energy growth, debt is destroyed. Simple.

mcgowanjm posted on 2008-01-31 10:47:32 ET

I told him I'd be posting the above over here at TOD.

A snapshot of what's happening on the web.

Thanx for your support, TODers. ;}

Mish Shedlocks take on 4Q07 and 2008. I have listed just a few of his views and predictions. Link contains all...BTW, if you haven't rushed out to Swell Mart to purchase a cheap big screen tv and giant bags of Doritos you might consider waiting a bit longer. Mish is predicting a round of retail wars to mop up any remaining consumer dollars (or available credit).

'Is Oil To Blame?

Blaming oil and/or food prices for the slowdown in retail sales makes little sense given that oil and food prices are components of retail spending. A better way of looking at things is that consumer attitudes towards consumption have changed'...snip...

Gross Domestic Product: 4th Quarter 2007 (Advance)

Looking ahead at the official BEA GDP Release, one can find additional clues where things are headed in 2008. Let's take a look.

The major contributors to the increase in real GDP in 2007 were personal consumption expenditures (PCE), exports, nonresidential structures, and state and local government spending. These positive contributions were partly offset by decreases in residential fixed investment and in inventory investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.

The deceleration in real GDP primarily reflected a larger decrease in residential fixed investment, a downturn in private inventory investment, and a deceleration in equipment and software that were partly offset by a deceleration in imports.

Major Contributors To 2007 Growth

Personal consumption expenditures
Nonresidential structures
State and local government spending
All of the above are going to contract in 2008.

Consumers are retrenching, Unemployment is Soaring as Private Sector Jobs Contract, and with Grim News For State Budgets states are tightening belts. California alone is facing an across the board 10% reduction in spending.

There are going to be some tough choices for California for sure, but here is my California Budget Proposal. Regardless of how cutbacks are accomplished, the upcoming pullback in state and local spending cuts have nowhere near been factored into the equation by most economists'...snip...


Once any remaining consumer dollars/credit are mopped up, that will make the deflation even more severe when it starts in - and the complete lockup of consumer credit, because the consumers will be in default on what they already have.

deflation? with helicopter ben bernanke in charge?

Helicopter Ben is the only reason I did not put most of my mutual fund investment into UIPIX .

Otherwise, I figured the FED would come to a house fire with a teacup, carefully pouring cup by cup so they could be sure there wasn't gonna be any water damage.

FutureGen scrapped.

Bodman must be reading the Drum.


Perhaps most members of congress will not be TOD regulars, though.

FutureGen Chief Executive Mike Mudd remains confident the Illinois plant will be constructed, saying the Department of Energy's decision is not an automatic death knell for a project with the full backing of the state's congressional delegation.

"Congress writes the laws, Congress authorizes the money," Mudd said. "At the end of the day, if Congress wants FutureGen to happen, FutureGen will happen."

Tribune article

Curious will Hillary/Barrack, the Illinois' hometown candidates, with the coal lobbyists knocking at their doors, touch on this before Super Tues? Oh clean coal, we hardly knew ye.

The IEA’s full Oil Market Report is out today. (PEF). They have a very optimistic outlook for 2008. They seem to be very pessimistic toward the North Sea but very optimistic for everyone else, especially Russia and Mexico. They have Mexico down only slightly in 2008.

I did some checking of their Mexico figures. They have Mexico output, total liquids:
October ... 3.37 mb/d
November 3.26 mb/d
December 3.47 mb/d

Of course October and November are spot on as Mexico had already reported those months when the IEA report came out. But the December figure was just an IEA guess because when the IEA report came out, to paid subscribers, two weeks ago Mexico had not reported their December numbers. So how close was the IEA’s guess? They were 140,000 barrels per day too high!

Mexico, in December, produced 3.33 mb/d, total liquids, not 3.47 mb/d as the IEA had guessed. I suspect that most of the IEA’s 2008 projections will be about as close as their guess for Mexico’s December production.

Ron Patterson

I estimate that the EIA will show a double digit net export decline rate for Mexico in 2007.

I think IEA's numbers on production are too unreliable for any practical purposes. This is the outfit that overstated production for 18 months in the late 90s by over a million barrels per day (see p. 82-83 of Matt Simmons' Twilight in the Desert for the story on "The Missing Barrels"). The only people even less reliable are the tanker counters. I wouldn't even make a football bet on data as bad as theirs.

They seem a little better on demand projections.


Jeremy Rifkin: 'Europe can lead the third industrial revolution'


I can’t figure out what Rifkin is talking about. His “intergrid” notion makes no sense at all to me. Distribute hydrogen? You wouldn’t need to distribute it. The problem is that it takes a lot of electricity to make hydrogen so it doesn’t work as a storage medium at all. Not by my calculations. Worse than lead-acid batteries. Ultracapicitor batteries—maybe, they have some potential if recent developments/claims are true. Rifkin pretends he doesn’t know anything about peak oil—why? What’s that about? At least he opposes nuclear energy. Admittedly, this may be a poor translation, but Rifkin is very short on details and these vague ideas strike me as bizarre. The Internet uses vast amounts of energy. Somehow he claims this will be turned into an ‘intergrid’ and somehow distribute energy—in the form of hydrogen? Did I read that correctly? Did anyone else read the article?

stiv -

Jeremy Rifkin is a self-proclaimed 'futurist' and self-styled expert on any subject that happens to be hot at the time. During the 1970s, when the environmental field came into prominence, he became an instant environmental expert. Ditto for globalization in the 1990s and now energy issues in the 2000s. There is hardly a topic that he does not feel qualified to pontificate on.

In my opinion, he is an ill-informed charlatan and world-class BS artist, and I personally wouldn't waste a minute reading anything he has to say.

Attention must not be paid.

In 1980, the revised edition of Rifkin's "Entropy: Into the Greenhouse World, appeared. It was a reasonable vulgarization of ideas most notably advanced by Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, and unlike the original edition contained an afterforward by the great economist and scholar. Since then, Rifkin's work is mostly shite. Georgescu-Roegen would be disappointed in the man's current meanderings.

Rifkin is obviously not stupid, but appears immune to all the evidence pointing to the conclusion that the only hydrogen economy we'll ever experience is here now and involves the consumption of stored and incoming photons from the great hydrogen reactor in the sky. All hail Ra.

Indeed, Rifkin's book on Entropy (1980), even if it was merely restating the ideas of others, was NOT delusional. Insofar as he authored such a book almost 30 years ago, his current ideas about the 'hydrogen economy' contradict his earlier work. Indeed, I would agree that he may be some sort of huckster, but what is he selling? Or a better question, why? I don't get it. His book "Entropy" is by far the best thing he put out, even if none of the ideas were original. Maybe he makes a little money peddling bogus notions about hydrogen, but that is truly immoral--particularly given the gravity of the situation and his background. Maybe he's getting money for promoting hydrogen? I wouldn't think that would be lucrative, but I may be naive.

As you stated, hydrogen is such a waste in comparison to battery electric storage. The efficiency of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen from electricity, compressing the hydrogen, shipping it, storing it, and finally converting the hydrogen back into electrons is absurdly small! You can't pipe hydrogen worth a flip using our current infrastructure, as it's so reactive/caustic and being the smallest atom out there, has a tendency to slip out of containers. If you're aware of filling your tires with nitrogen, you know what I'm talking about.
But the craziness of it all is really that Americans are trained to think that they must purchase a FUEL. Electricity is for cellphones, FUEL is for cars, etc. Being inconvenienced by having to remember to plug in your car is terrible! *rolls eyes* We're conditioned to push that button to get the food every time we hear the bell ring.

Battery tech is now available where you can charge your car to 90% capacity in 5 or 10 minutes. Is that REALLY such a longer time than you spend at the gas station anyhow? The only problem is price...

As you stated, hydrogen is such a waste in comparison to battery electric storage.

I just finished reading Robert Bryce's new book on the delusions of energy independence. There is a graphic in the book that shows the energy density of various options. It showed that the energy density of a lithium ion battery was a tiny fraction of that of hydrogen, which was 2nd worst on the list. It struck me as odd, but then I started thinking about it: Right now, the range on a battery is still pretty low relative even to hydrogen.

Hydrogen might have a greater energy storage density, but when you consider the steps to convert electricity to hydrogen, compress it, transport it, store it, then re-convert it back into electricity for electric drive, the amount of energy lost doesn't make it worth it compared to even NiMH. Batteries have their own efficiency losses, but compared to hydrogen, it's pretty big difference. (Sadly, I have no references to back up my claims at the moment, but I've seen this time and again in various articles/papers. Just look at the efficiency of the conversion from water to hydrogen as your first step..)

No arguments on hydrogen being a waste. I never even bothered to debunk the whole hydrogen myth, because it had been so thoroughly discredited before I started writing a lot. Yet hydrogen myths persist.

Yet hydrogen myths persist.

Sustained by being mentioned prominently as a solution the government is working on in a couple of State of the Union speeches (before being replaced by switchgrass ethanol).

I noted no new magic technology in the latest State of the Union lies. In fact energy & oil were barely mentioned.


Incidentally, that book will be released in March. I really enjoyed it, and will do a book review soon.

Regarding the WSJ front page Saturday edition relating the interview with Mr. Wissner (Michigan), I found the WSJ's choice of letters to publish interesting (which Leanan has included in today's articles). For one, it seems they almost never publish reader letters related to the subject of PO. Secondly, I'd assume they had many responses to choose from. I don't see their choice of letters as a reinforcement of the "whacko" scenario, though some may. I know Westexas sees the strength of law enforcement as a big factor in choosing a place to live. After much consideration (understatement of the year), our family is making this a big factor in our decision, as well.

U.S. downturn hits Panama Canal.

"PANAMA CITY, Jan 30, (Reuters) - Trade through the Panama Canal dipped in the last three months of 2007 amid a downturn in the U.S. economy and high oil prices, canal officials said.

The tonnage passing through the canal dropped 2 percent to 79.0 million PC/UMS tonnes from 80.6 million PC/UMS tonnes in the same quarter in 2006."

Full story at:

Was checking out the titles on trolleys and streetcars at Powell's Books last night (thanks for spreading the bug, Alan!). An extensive series on "Images of Rail" is available from Arcadia Publishing, and they have an interactive US map where you can click on your locale to see which titles they have for your area (and they publish on many facets of US history - sports, postcards, campuses, etc.). Should be of interest for buffs.

Noticed they'll be publishing this title in four days, too: "Willamette Valley Railways." My 'hood!

Are You Ready for 'Stagflation-Lite'?

Is another big name from the 1970s attempting a comeback? Stagflation, the worst-of-both-worlds scenario in which weak growth is accompanied by robust inflation, may be on the radar again. It's enough to conjure memories of President Gerald Ford's ill-fated campaign to talk down prices through a "Whip Inflation Now" (WIN) campaign. The risk is evident in the latest economic numbers. Indeed, Marc Faber, the widely followed global investment adviser based in Asia believes that "we're already in stagflation: no real economic growth—or recession—amidst inflation" in his latest Gloom Boom & Doom Report.

Say, this isn't exactly in the news today, but I was giving it some thought last night, and I wondered whether in the past it has gotten discussion on TOD.

That's the problem of underground coal fires. The magnitude is impressive, and I wonder about the feasibility of quenching them, as well as the future of more coal fires as infrastructure gets more sloppy. Any experts here on this? I assume that for oxygen they manage to suck in air somehow... seems like this ought to be something which could be dealt with in principle, and maybe worth some international attention. Inasmuch as it's a GHG source which could continue even after human systems break down, it's pretty perverse.

An article I just pulled up on Google is 5 years old but is probably still current: http://www.post-gazette.com/healthscience/20030215coalenviro4p4.asp

quotes include:

One coal fire in northern China, for instance, is burning over an area more than 3,000 miles wide and almost 450 miles long.

He estimated that the Chinese fires alone consume 120 million tons of coal annually. That's almost as much as the annual coal production in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois combined.

The Chinese fires also make a big, hidden contribution to global warming through the greenhouse effect, scientists said. Each year they release 360 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, as much as all the cars and light trucks in the United States

That's significant.

when you add in the gas flared its lots of carbon thats going straight into the air without doing anything useful for us!!

What happens if a fire breaks out in an area which is already being mined? Would you lose all the production from that mine, whilst still releasing as much CO2 as burning it in a power station. THough I guess you would save the energy needed to move it.


"Scuffles and frustration"

"The impact on fresh vegetables and on fruit in some places has been catastrophic," he said.

"If it heads northward, then the impact on the whole year's grain production will be noticeable."

Analysts say the destruction of crops will drive up food prices and fuel inflation, which has already risen rapidly over the past year.

One of the most famous underground coal fires in is Centralia PA

There was a book about this featured on CSPAN's Book TV a couple of months ago.

I have the book, and have also been in a mine, still actively working, where other parts were burning. Underground combustion is a problem, and the fire is difficult to map, let alone control after a relatively short period of time. Mainly the area used to be sealed off, though it depends on how deep it is to the fire.

If he really believes in peak oil and a looming oil shock he should realize that selling his house and moving to the woods is not going to secure his future. If oil-dependent economies "crumble" and resource wars "explode," how does he propose to protect this little plot of land in the woods?

Yeah, I agree with this. I often see survivalist sentiments expressed here, and that's my reply. The only real survival strategy is political, we have to build a reality-based movement that challenges TPTB. Not that experiments in living closer to nature and so forth are irrelevant. These are things we are going to have to learn how to do. My daughter lives on a rural commune in W Va and I see a great deal there that's relevant to the future.

People blamed for water woes in West

WASHINGTON - Human activity such as driving and powering air conditioners is responsible for up to 60 percent of changes contributing to dwindling water supplies in the arid and growing West, a new study finds.

Those changes are likely to accelerate, says the study published Thursday in Science magazine, portending "a coming crisis in water supply for the western United States."

Just a note for the record. The EIA’s Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report came out earlier today. It showed a withdrawal of 274 billion cubic feet. That was the largest draw in history.

This week last year the draw was 186 billion cubic feet and the average for this week is 181 billion cubic feet. We have 2,262 billion cubic feet left in storage and that is 332 billion cubic feet less than this same week last year. Yet we are still above the five year average for this week of 2,177 billion cubic feet.

Ron Patterson

Just a note for the record. The EIA’s Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report came out earlier today. It showed a withdrawal of 274 billion cubic feet. That was the largest draw in history.

It's a record, true, but it's by no means unexpected or out of the ordinary for this time of year - the Feb02-Feb09 draw in 2007 was 259Bcf, or just 5-6% less.

Indeed, based on previous years, we should expect to see significant drops in the amount stored for the next month or more - the current 4-week rolling average (-165Bcf) is still much more than its low last year (-223Bcf) and almost certainly much more than what its low will be this year.

Combine that with the fact that storage is right in the middle of its 5-year range (which always drops sharply this time of year), and I don't see why the data is particularly remarkable. Basically, it's doing more or less what one would expect of it, considering it's a cold winter for a record population.

Which one day of the week
do you want to live?

Which one day of the week do you want to run the
electricity in your home?
Al Gore makes it sound as if all you’ll need to
do is use a few of those curlycue light bulbs, but
cutting your energy use by 80 percent will require
drastic lifestyle changes.

Which one day of the week do you want to drive?
Al Gore wants to force you to cut your energy
use by 80 percent. How else do you think that
will happen? (Will you even be allowed to own
a car? More than one car will most certainly
be considered frivolous.)

Which one day of the week do you want to run
your furnace?
How else will you cut your energy use by 80 percent?

Which one day of the week do you want to use
your computer?
Remember, electricity only one day per week.

Which one day of the week do you want to wash
and dry your hair?
Oops. Forget the hair dryer - too frivolous.

Which one day of the month do you want to
wash your clothes and hang them out to dry?
Forget the clothes dryer - too frivolous.

Which one day of the week to you want to run
your dishwasher?
Forget the dishwasher - too frivolous.

Which one day of the week do you want to run
your air conditioner?
Forget the air conditioner –– too frivolous.

Which one day of the week will you want to
go to work?
With all of the businesses shutting down, who’s
going to need you?

Which exotic foods are you prepared to give up?
Grapes? Lettuce? Oranges? Bananas?
Those may not sound very exotic to you, but if it’s
not grown within 50 miles of your home, forget it -
transportation costs will be too frivolous.

How many people are you willing to have move
into your home?
It won't take long before some convenient scientist
will create a study that shows that the average person
requires only 200 square feet of floor space. If you
have a 3,000 square-foot house, you should therefore
have room for 15 people. If you have four people in
your family, you'll be required to - voluntarily - allow
eleven homeless people to move in free of charge.

Don't laugh, Comrade.
I'll bet someone is already working on this.
(Remember Dr. Zhivago?)

It can be done. I'm guessing I use 80% less energy than most in USA. My home cost 10% more to build (which few could understand when I built it (1996). That extra $ lets me burn 2 cords a yr - no backup heat. Temp stays around 70 while the fire's going.

I DO have a dishwasher but only use it 2x a week (while the backup generator is going). Why bother? Well, I did grow up on Long Island...

Oh yea. A friend with an old, drafty house cut her fuel bill by 70% by installing an eficient wood stove. There is tons of low hanging fruit in this country. Maybe not 80% worth but when the price goes up, consumption will drop. People will get creative.

Instead of only running my furnace one day a week, I'll turn it down from 68F to 50F. That should make a big impact.
Instead of using a desktop computer that consumes 400 to 600 watts of power, I'll use a laptop that consumes 45 watts of power. 400/45 = 8.88
Washing my hair only once a week sure sounds like a good deal to me. It's a pain in the ass to wash, especially considering that it's 3 feet long. Dry my hair? No way! It takes too long to do that, so I let it air-dry.
What day of the month do I want to wash my clothes? No problem. Instead of using a top-loading washing machine, I already own a front-loading machine. That cuts down on energy and water consumption to 1/3 of the level of a top-loader. Dryer? I do use it, but not always. I don't have any problem hanging up my clothes in my home. Ever heard of a clothes-line? Great stuff!
Air conditioner? Nice thing to have, but certainly not necessary. When you've gone camping in 100F weather with 90% humidity, you learn to appreciate 80F with no A/C. Turning on a fan is cheap, pleasant relief.
What one day of the week will I go to work? Well, I'll drive to work on Sunday afternoon, then drive home on Friday night. Well, that's what I do now. (Although admittedly, I'm driving to the airport, which likely negates all of my other savings.) Ever heard of telecommuting? Maybe living 1/5 of the distance from work that you do now? I only go grocery/clothing/etc shopping once every 2-3 months. I go, and buy months worth of food and supplies at a time, although that stems from my disdain from shopping.
How many people am I willing to have in my home? Let's see, I live in a 1500 sq ft home, with 2 other people. That means 500 sq ft per person. Not too bad.

The perfect is the enemy of the good.

BTU content of NGL's (Plant Condensates)

I read someone's post in TOD that NGL's contained less energy than oil. I got on the internet and found some glossary definition that one barrel of oil energy equivalent (BOE) was 6 million BTU's. A barrel of plant condensates contained 5.418 million BTU's per barrel. The NGL barrels were about 90% of the regular barrels of oil in terms of energy content. Lease condensates were molecules from the natural gas stream heavy enough to condense out under normal pressure and temperatures near the wellhead in GOSP type separators. These were described as equal to one BOE. I've read condensates were sold at a premium to some grades of oil. The NGL's were seperated downstream at special natural gas processing facilities. According to my superficial understanding 90 barrels of oil are equal to 100 barrels of NGL's in energy content.

I think that you are confusing condensate, which is basically gasoline, with NGL's, which are principally propane and butane.

If your interested in understanding what might happen after the financial collapse, check out this article as it explains a little about what China/Russia might be planning, also gives a pretty good explanation for why China is content holding $1.3 trillion in US debt. Don't trust the MSM in their assertion that they need America to consume their goods for them. If US dollars are worthless, exchanging them for real goods is not a good deal, and they know it. If you have the chance, some silver and gold coins might be a good idea for those rebate checks.


"The cuts of the past 10 days, among the biggest and fastest in modern Fed history, are an ominous sign that the central bankers charged with trying to keep the economy healthy are seriously worried.

Whether they're underreacting or overreacting is still unclear. The economy is so big and complex, and the data so contradictory at turbulent times such as these, that even the best economists disagree sharply."


The "Go to sleep early" story above reminded me of this:

The Big Sleep

Economists and bureaucrats who ventured out into the countryside after the Revolution were horrified to find that the work force disappeared between fall and spring. The fields were deserted from Flanders to Provence. Villages and even small towns were silent, with barely a column of smoke to reveal a human presence. As soon as the weather turned cold, people all over France shut themselves away and practiced the forgotten art of doing nothing at all for months on end.

In the mountains, the tradition of seasonal sloth was ancient and pervasive. “Seven months of winter, five months of hell,” they said in the Alps. When the “hell” of unremitting toil was over, the human beings settled in with their cows and pigs. They lowered their metabolic rate to prevent hunger from exhausting supplies. If someone died during the seven months of winter, the corpse was stored on the roof under a blanket of snow until spring thawed the ground, allowing a grave to be dug and a priest to reach the village.

A look at the latest Oilwatch Monthly made me wonder about the prognosis for natural gas liquids.

Does anyone have a bookmark to some analysis that they'd like to share?

OPEC IS SET to freeze oil output, citing the weakening US economy.

OPEC ministers turned down calls for extra output on Thursday, voicing concern that the weak US economy may cause oil prices to drop further from recent historic peaks above 100 dollars.

Most members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which pumps 40 percent of world oil, said the cartel should maintain its production level at its official meeting in the Austrian capital on Friday.

A freeze would be a snub to the United States, the world's biggest energy consumer, whose President George W. Bush recently urged OPEC to hike output to help further reduce high oil prices that stunt economic growth and fuel inflation.


Re GWB, the USA has lost an unprecedented amount of geopolitical power over the last 8 years. In 2008, the favorite for the Presidency is a guy who feels that the last 8 years was a great deal for the country. Probably funnier than tragic.


The economic bubble that lifted the stock market to dizzying heights was sustained as much by cheap oil as by cheap (often fraudulent) mortgages. Likewise, the collapse of the bubble was caused as much by costly (often imported) oil as by record defaults on those improvident mortgages. Oil, in fact, has played a critical, if little commented upon, role in America's current economic enfeeblement—and it will continue to drain the economy of wealth and vigor for years to come.

Spare capacity in Nigeria remained offline due to problems with Forcados.