DrumBeat: February 7, 2008

Oil Sector's Problem In Replacing Oil Reserves Could Worsen

HOUSTON -(Dow Jones)- Chevron Corp.'s dramatically low 2007 reserve replacement announced last Friday may be the first in a series of disappointing results reported by major oil companies in the coming weeks.

Chevron announced Friday that it replaced just 10% to 15% of its reserves in 2007, a rate lower than the already pessimistic 50% to 60% analysts estimated. And although Chevron's report is expected to be the weakest among the oil giants, analysts also expect ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp., and Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA) to report reserves replacement shy of 100%. BP PLC, which reported 120% reserve replacement on Tuesday, has so far bucked the trend.

Although Wall Street has shown more tolerance towards weak reserve replacement in recent years, in part due to the industry's strong financial position, some analysts are losing patience with the under-performance. Reserves replacement remains a key benchmark that informs whether a company is replenishing its assets as it produces oil and gas.

"I try to look at the long term, but the biggest problem with Chevron is that it's the fourth year they are reporting disappointing rates," said Phil Weiss, equity analyst at Argus Research in New York. "It's time for them to offer something more tangible. I'm not throwing in the towel yet, but I have some concerns."

Kazakh state could seize oil fields from investors: PM

ASTANA (AFP) - The Kazakh state could seize oil fields and mineral deposits from private investors, Prime Minister Karim Masimov said Thursday, following a series of high-profile business disputes involving top foreign energy majors.

"If contractual obligations for the development mineral resource deposits are not respected, the contracts will be cancelled and (the deposits) will be returned to the state," Masimov told a government meeting in the capital Astana.

Nuclear ships could make a comeback

The experiment with nuclear cruisers ended a decade ago, killed by cheap oil, the crushing expense of atomic technology and the difficulty of recruiting, training and keeping specially trained crews in the slimmed-down, post-Cold War Navy.

Today, the Navy's nuclear fleet consists of only aircraft carriers and submarines.

But the equation could change soon. Prompted by higher fuel prices, the Pentagon may greenlight a comeback for nuclear cruisers and perhaps other surface ships.

Emission Permits Rise After Gazprom Threatens to Cut Gas Supply

(Bloomberg) -- European Union emission permits rose near their highest in eight days as natural gas advanced because OAO Gazprom said it may cut supplies to Ukraine on Feb. 11.

December-delivery carbon dioxide permits rose 47 cents, or 2.4 percent, to 20.44 euros ($29.63) a metric ton on the European Climate Exchange in London. They were earlier as high as 20.50 euros, having dropped 9 percent so far this year.

Jail politicians who ignore climate science: Suzuki

David Suzuki has called for political leaders to be thrown in jail for ignoring the science behind climate change.

Energy Dept. to monitor refinery outages

BISMARCK, N.D. - The federal Energy Department has agreed to monitor oil refinery outages, a move Sen. Byron Dorgan believes could help prevent simultaneous plant shutdowns leading to high fuel prices and tight supplies.

Dorgan, D-N.D, and energy officials said that last year as many as eight nationwide refinery outages -- most of which were planned for repairs or maintenance -- contributed to fuel shortages in North Dakota and elsewhere.

"We don't want to be in a situation where this happens again," Dorgan said.

Gazprom threatens to halt gas supplies to Ukraine

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's gas export monopoly Gazprom (GAZP.MM: Quote, Profile, Research) threatened on Thursday to halt gas supplies to Ukraine over debts of $1.5 billion for previous deliveries.

Gazprom, the world's largest gas producer, supplies Europe with a quarter of its gas via Ukraine and Belarus. Previous pricing disputes have led to cuts in deliveries to Europe.

BP to ‘put lights out’ on North Sea

BP chief executive Tony Hayward stressed the company’s commitment to the North Sea during its results press conference yesterday, saying it would continue to produce there “until we put the lights out”.

Asked by lastoilshock.com when that would be, Mr Hayward said production would continue for at least 15-20 years, but that this would depend on the tax regime. The province faces declining production and rising costs, he said, so “the fiscal structure needs to continue to develop to ensure that all of the marginal barrels are developed”.

More Chicago show news: Muscle cars in miserly times

CHICAGO — When General Motors and Chrysler initially showed off concept versions of the Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger, respectively, gas prices were around $2.35 a gallon.

While shockingly high at the time, that's 62 cents lower than the current average price.

That may be why executives from both companies now hesitate to call the cars, which carved out a niche in automotive history in the 1960s and 1970s as tire-burning, gas-guzzling speed racers, by their well-earned nickname: muscle cars.

They would rather you called the coming production versions "high-performance vehicles," thank you very much.

Britain catches the foodie bug

LONDON (Fortune) -- Walk into a London supermarket, read the label on a bag of Walker's crisps - that's what the British call potato chips - and you will learn that 75 grams of carbon dioxide were emitted when making the 34.5-gram package. What does that mean? I have no idea. Nor do most Brits.

But carbon labels on potato chips are just one sign of how food shopping is changing in the U.K. Increasingly, shoppers want to know where their food comes from, and whether it was produced in ways that are good for the planet, for farmers and workers, and even for animals.

The trouble with hybrids

Hybrid electric vehicles that run on both conventional gasoline and stored electricity can be no more than a stop gap until more sustainable technology is developed, according to researchers in France. Writing in the Inderscience publication International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management, they suggest that the adoption of HEVs might even slow development of more sustainable fuel-cell powered electric vehicles.

Hooked on Growth on the Reality Report(podcast)

The Reality Report hosts David Gardner, President of Citizen-Powered Media and producer of the documentary Hooked on Growth: Our Misguided Quest for Prosperity. We discuss what is it like to challenge a core belief of our society, and why is it more important than ever to do so.

Homogeneous horror

A handful of companies now dominate world farming, with profound implications for genetic diversity.

John Michael Greer: Back up the rabbit hole

The explosive spread of the internet, finally, was also a product of the era of ultracheap energy. The hardware of the internet, with its worldwide connections, its vast server farms, and its billions of interlinked home and business computers, probably counts as the largest infrastructure project ever created and deployed in a two-decade period in human history. The sheer amount of energy that has had to be invested to create and sustain today’s internet, along with its economic and cultural support systems, beggars the imagination.

Could it have been done at all if energy stayed as expensive as it was in the 1970s? It’s hard to see how such a question could be answered, but the growth of the internet certainly would have been a much slower process; it might have moved in directions involving much less energy use; and some of the more energy-intensive aspects of the internet might never have emerged at all. It remains to be seen whether a system adapted to a hothouse climate of nearly free energy can cope with the harsher weather of rising energy costs in a postpeak world.

South Africa: Crisis spreads to fuel and gas supplies

As of Wednesday Chevron Refinery will not be able to supply consumers with liquefied petroleum gas and the sales of ship fuel will be suspended as the refinery says it cannot run because of the "unavailability of stable power supply".

Higher coal prices add to Eskom’s woes

The embattled State utility, Eskom, has to pay about 20% more for coal. Analyst say soaring international prices are putting pressure on local prices which, according to Eskom, already grew by 30% last year alone.

Two months ago, a ton of coal cost $100 on world markets. Now the price has shot up to around $140 because of strong demand, mainly from India.

Mozambique says will not compensate for riot damages

MAPUTO (Reuters) - Mozambique will not pay compensation for property damaged during violent protests over increased transport fares that left three people dead and 104 others injured, a senior government official said on Thursday.

Thousands of people took to the streets early this week, protesting against a 50 percent rise in the cost of mass transport. Protesters looted shops, damaged vehicles and burnt some electricity poles.

Police using live ammunition, shot and killed three people while trying to disperse the crowd.

Tajikistan 'facing catastrophe'

Tajikistan is in the grip of emergency food shortages, the UN's World Food Programme is warning.

The deteriorating food situation is part of the energy crisis which hit the mountainous nation in the middle of its coldest winter for five decades.

Frozen Tajikistan pleads for energy aid

TAJIKISTAN, paralysed by the coldest winter in decades, asked for emergency international aid today to help it survive an energy crisis which has left millions of people without power and heating.

The bitter cold - with temperatures plunging to -20 degrees celsius across the impoverished nation - caught authorities off guard this year, forcing the government to ration electricity, water and gas.

Pakistan: Industry warns of economic turmoil

LAHORE-The country’s leading industrialists and businessmen on Wednesday said that the industry is on the verge of collapse due to worst-ever energy crisis which may lead to economic turmoil in Pakistan as the present govt has badly failed to stabilise the economy.

Botswana: : Power shortage, serious obstruction in economic growth

In 2007 Botswana transformed itself for one of the poorest countries in the world to a middle-income country according to one of the surveys conducted. The country has one of the fastest growth rates, but the recurrent power cuts is creating blockage in the economic growth for the next fiscal year.

Due to increase in the demand of power which is not being fulfilled many industries are now shifting to other options like fuel-operated generators. The Government has also raised the prices of petrol and diesel recently which will boost the cost of production. this in turn will hamper the export earnings of the country.

Turkey Opposes GDF in Nabucco Due to French Genocide Bill

Turkey opposes Gaz de France's (1020848.FR) participation in the Nabucco gas project because of France's position on the Armenian genocide, according to an unnamed senior energy official, the Ihlas News Agency, or IHA, reported Wednesday.

"How can we get Gaz de France in the project (because of) France's unacceptable position on the Armenian genocide claims," the official said.

Mexican president foresees friendlier U.S.

With reserves in its aging offshore Cantarell field diminishing, the state-owned oil company Pemex needs funds to pay for exploration in the deeper waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

The money, Calderon said, could come only from two sources: reducing government spending for public services or looking to the example of China, Norway and Brazil, where the state-owned oil companies benefit from private investment.

Hard to explain the opposition to study of a new oil refinery

We find it somewhat disconcerting to read some of the comments made by people opposed to a study of refining more oil in North Dakota. Evidently, they have not noticed that we have near, if not the highest-priced gasoline and diesel in the continental United States. Perhaps they did not notice the lines for fuel during harvest. Perhaps they did not notice the shortage of No. 1 diesel in an earlier cold snap. We know the governor did. He did allow truckers leeway in rules transporting gas and fuel. Wouldn’t it have been nice if the shortages hadn’t occurred?

Bush Threatens Domestic Oil and Gas Program

The Bush administration has proposed eliminating an oil and gas program championed by Texas lawmakers, saying it amounts to an unnecessary subsidy for oil companies earning record profits.

Gas hydrates reserves discovered off India's east coast, says government

MUMBAI (Thomson Financial) - The government of India said it has found a gas hydrates reservoir amounting to an estimated 2,000 trln cubic metres of reserves in the KG Area, off India's east coast.

Gas hydrates are crystalline compounds that are being looked on as a future source of energy.

UK: Veggie power may replace diesel on tourist buses

TOURIST buses in a national park could soon be powered by 100% Welsh oil... vegetable oil, that is.

Pembrokeshire’s coastal buses currently burn diesel produced thousands of miles away, helping to sustain oil companies’ generous profits.

But if the services switch to vegetable oil, as planned, their fuel could be produced entirely within Pembrokeshire.

Home heating balancing act

As oil prices soar, people are chopping wood and using other alternative fuels to keep their homes warm. They are wearing sweaters, blocking drafts, closing off rooms, turning down thermostats and seeking fuel assistance.

Energy Matters: We need a plan for success

America and the rest of the industrial world are moving toward an unprecedented energy crisis leading to a possible economic disaster. This has been known and forecast for more than half a century. We have known that world petroleum and gas consumption was increasing at about 4 percent per year from prior to 1950 when world population stood at just over 2 billion. A bit of simple math (similar to figuring compound interest) tells us that over a 60-year period, consumption would grow tenfold. In fact, the true number has peaked at about 9 times the post World War II rate of consumption.

Gasoline could drop 50 cents/gallon by spring

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. drivers could enjoy a drop of up to 50 cents per gallon in gasoline prices by this spring as high fuel prices and the threat of a recession force them to conserve, experts said on Wednesday.

U.S. gasoline supplies hit a near-14-year high of 227.5 million barrels last week, helped by falling demand for the fuel, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

"Gasoline stocks are continuing to increase and it implies that people are probably cutting down on gasoline consumption -- a result of the weakening economy," said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Alaron Trading in Chicago.

Peak-Oilers Put Money Where Mouths Are

The peak-oil debate no longer is a matter just of the planet’s future. Now it’s the subject of a one-sided $100,000 bet.

Reveling in the role of the fly tweaking the elephant, a group of peak-oil proponents has challenged prominent oil-industry consultancy Cambridge Energy Research Associates to a not-so-friendly wager.

World Oil Supply: Peak or Not Peak?

he opacity of global oil supply data and just how much oil can be counted as Proven (90-95% probability of recovery), Probable (50%) or Possible Reserves (5-10%) has heightened uncertainty and added impetus to the arguments of Peak Oil theorists and proponents.

Taken together with the sharp and sustained oil price rise, rapid industrial growth in places like China, India and other large developing countries, the rapid rise to political prominence of climate change mitigation and greenhouse gas emissions reduction efforts and associated incentives and incentives to promote alternative, renewable energy sources this has raised the uncertainty of demand for oil - and hence investment conditions – and put oil, and fossil fuel producers more generally, on the defensive. Looking at it cynically, you might say that they can cry all the way to the bank, at least for some time to come.

Green laws and regulation risk energy crisis, say Europe's power companies

Europe is facing an energy crisis because of green-influenced legislation and regulation, and difficulty in obtaining planning approval for key projects, energy companies warned yesterday.

Europe needs to spend €2tn (£1.5tn) on upgrading power networks in the next 25 years but leading energy companies have cancelled investments in new power plants worth billions of euros because of increased regulatory uncertainty, a senior executive claimed yesterday.

The Energized Citizen: The next Declaration of Independence

CORNISH: The next Declaration of Independence – a declaration to free this country of oil dependency. This is not only necessary but imperative. The reasons are many; pick your favorite or the entire list.

1. Relief from foreign entanglements (meaning military engagements to protect oil supplies).
2. Global warming.
3. Balance of payments, the hemorrhaging of US dollars for foreign oil.
4. Environmental cleanup.
5. Air quality.
6. Relief from respiratory ailments.
7. Reduced risk of environmental accidents (oil spills).
8. Diversifying energy sources promoting competition and breaking energy monopolies.
9. Saving oil for higher uses than burning and dealing with “Peak Oil.”

Frost: Desperately seeking energy

Lawrence warned us that peak oil is highly controversial, and information is hard to get. OPEC won’t say what is really happening, and some of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) forecasts coming from our own Department of Energy lack credibility — either because they don’t know, or for political reasons. For example, they forecast that the price of oil wouldn't reach $100 a barrel until 2030. In some cases, the data is a state secret, and whistle blowers can be punished.

Lawrence pointed out some additional challenges. One is OEWS (Oil Exporter Withholding Scenarios), which look at what happens if oil exporting countries withhold oil from importers. Since Iraq, that’s hardly a new concept.

The state holds the key to driving up electric car use

Cars are still the fastest rising cause of UK greenhouse gas emissions - producing 38m tonnes a year - and look set to increase their lead as road traffic continues to grow by 2% a year. Yet there is no policy in place to get cars off the road to contain or reverse the trend. But this does not mean that the government's goal to cut emissions by 60% by 2050 is doomed. An obvious way out of the car impasse is to encourage a switch away from petrol-driven internal combustion engines to electric cars.

South Africa: Recycling Can Help Alleviate Energy Crisis

Recycling can play a major role in alleviating the country's energy crisis, says a senior Cape Town official, with eye-opening statistics to back up this claim.

Councillor Clive Justus, Chairperson of the City of Cape Town's Utility Services Portfolio Committee, says the unreleased energy contained in the average dustbin each year could power a television set for up to 5 000 hours.

"An estimated 512 homes could be electrified by the amount of energy saved from a year of paper recycling. "It is within every resident's reach to recycle and thus help the city to achieve its goal of reducing electricity consumption by 10 percent," he said.

AngloGold: South Africa's energy crisis will drive down output

Johannesburg - AngloGold Ashanti on Thursday became the second South African gold producer to warn of a sizeable fall in output in 2008 if forced to slash its electricity consumption to help ease an energy crunch. AngloGold said it expected to produce between 4.8 and 5 million ounces of gold in 2008, down over 400,000 ounces or over 7 per cent on 2007, if state electricity supplier Eskom maintained its order to cut electricity consumption by 10 per cent.

South Africa - Quotas: exceeding your limit 'unacceptable'

Homes and businesses using more than their quota of electricity are soon to be penalised.

The government calls it a "differentiated tariff structure", which means that once you use more than a certain amount of power, the rate at which you are charged automatically increases.

Saudi Aramco will sell crude cheaper to US

Riyadh: Saudi Aramco, the world's largest state oil company, will cut official selling prices for crude shipments to the US in March as refiners lower operating rates. The producer raised prices to Europe.

Why the price of 'peak oil' is famine

Vulnerable regions of the world face the risk of famine over the next three years as rising energy costs spill over into a food crunch, according to US investment bank Goldman Sachs.

"We've never been at a point in commodities where we are today," said Jeff Currie, the bank's commodity chief and closely watched oil guru.

Global oil output has been stagnant for four years, failing to keep up with rampant demand from Asia and the Mid-East. China's imports rose 14pc last year. Biofuels from grain, oil seed and sugar are plugging the gap, but drawing away food supplies at a time when the world is adding more than 70m mouths to feed a year.

Peak oil rapidly approaching warns oil analyst

One of the hottest topics in the energy industry is the debate about peak oil, which refers to the point in time when global oil production goes into terminal decline. Estimates vary widely as to when peak oil will occur. The US and UK officially say peak oil will not happen before 2030. Others, like oil expert author David Strahan, believe it will happen much sooner.

Speaking at the recent World Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, Strahan said the world is rapidly approaching peak oil, which he estimates will occur around 2017, but no later than 2020.

Total Closes U.K. North Sea Elgin-Franklin Gas Fields

(Bloomberg) -- Total SA, Europe's third-largest oil company, shut its Elgin-Franklin natural-gas and condensate fields in the U.K. North Sea on Feb. 4 after output failed to meet specifications.

``We're shutting Elgin-Franklin down,'' Jenny Costelloe, a spokeswoman for Total in Aberdeen, Scotland, said today by telephone. ``We are trying to maintain condensate production at a limited rate,'' she said, without specifying current output.

Shell Nigeria force majeure to last through March

ABUJA (Reuters) - Shell Nigeria's force majeure on crude exports from the Bonny terminal will last for the rest of February and March, a spokeswoman said on Thursday.

Suncor Energy reports oil sands production numbers for January 2008

CALGARY /CNW/ - Suncor Energy Inc. reported today that production at its oil sands facility during January averaged approximately 245,000 barrels per day (bpd). Suncor is targeting average annual oil sands production of 275,000 to 300,000 bpd in 2008.

Polar Bears' Plight Raised In Drill Bids For Oil, Gas

The Interior Department yesterday announced $2.6 billion in winning bids from companies seeking to drill for oil and gas in Alaska's Chukchi Sea despite protests from environmental groups and members of Congress that oil and gas exploration would endanger polar bears.

BG says Tupi field can pump up to 1 mln boepd at full development

LONDON (Thomson Financial) - Frank Chapman, chief executive of BG Group PLC, said the Tupi discovery in Brazil is capable of producing up to 1.0 mln barrels of oil equivalent per day once the field is fully developed.

Kazakhstan to increase oil output in 2008

ASTANA (RIA Novosti) - Kazakhstan plans to increase oil output up to 70 million metric tons in 2008, a 4% increase year-on-year, the country's energy minister, Sauat Mynbayev said on Thursday.

"We plan to produce 69-70 million tones of oil in 2008," Mynbayev said.

Gazprom says nears deal on Exxon's Sakhalin-1 gas

KHABAROVSK, Russia (Reuters) - Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom (GAZP.MM: Quote, Profile, Research) will sign a deal to buy the entire annual gas output from the Sakhalin-1 field of U.S. oil major Exxon Mobil (XOM.N: Quote, Profile, Research) in April-May, an executive said on Thursday.

The move will mark another milestone in the Kremlin's drive to bring large energy assets back under state control and allow Gazprom, the world's largest gas company, to get hold of more resources without tapping its own rich hydrocarbon base.

Pressure mounts to drop dollar peg

DUBAI -The relentless decline of dollar over the past few months and Federal Reserve's interest rate cuts will force Gulf countries to revalue their currencies within months to stem spiralling inflation, currency analysts and experts said.

Speculation about a Gulf-wide revaluation is rising before a meeting between Saudi Arabia's advisory council, the Shura, and the finance ministry and central bank on February 17, according to Steve Barrow, currency strategist at Bear Stearns Co.

Late and Lame on Warming

Even allowing for the low expectations we bring to any lame-duck president’s final State of the Union address, President Bush’s brief discussion of climate change seemed especially disconnected from reality: from the seriousness and urgency of the problem and from his own responsibility for obstructing progress.

Israeli find could help plants adapt to climate change

JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israeli scientists said on Wednesday they had identified genes that help plants weather harsh conditions, a discovery that could lead to the development of crops better able to endure climate change.

Indian PM calls for 'climate justice' to fight global warming

NEW DELHI (AFP) - Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urged rich countries to ensure technology transfers to developing nations to combat climate change under a transparent global regime.

Calling for "climate justice," Singh said developing countries such as India needed environment-friendly technologies in various sectors.

WMO plans conference on improving climate predictions

GENEVA (AFP) - The World Meteorological Organisation said Wednesday its next conference would urge scientists around the globe to improve seasonal climate predictions to adapt to climate change.

..."There has been too little global investment in the science that underpins seasonal climate prediction," WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said in a statement.

The lead today on peak oil producing famine and it's link:


make it abundantly clear to me at least that those who argue that the growing of biomass for fuel and current high food prices are disassociated are mistaken.

The reason for this is simple - prices are always determined by demand at the margin.

For instance, an an area with 100 people living there if there is no net change in the number then house prices are likely to be pretty static.

If one person extra a year wanted to move to the area, then house prices would shift upwards.

If two people wanted to move in then the rate would increase.

Exactly the same situation applies to food prices and ethanol, it has boosted demand and so has had a disproportionate affect on prices.

It is not operating alone as greater demand in India and China are also important, but it is grievously harming the world's poor.

I liked the quotefrom th article:

"The political environment is extremely hostile. The world is looking like the 17th century under mercantilism when countries saw economics as a zero-sum game. They exported as much as they could to get gold, and erected enormous barriers. China looks like that, so does Russia, the Mid-East and most of Africa and Latin America," he said.

The whole article looks like they took it from TOD.

I liked that bit, too.

The thing is, with the energy resources at the base of the economy flat or declining, it is a zero sum game. Or worse.

Ahh, "Zero-sum game" a phrase I remember from 1970s writings, from Buckminster Fuller to those whacky space colony people. And that's what it is, too. The North Sea oil discoveries saved us from that, for 20 years. Now it's back to normal - a zero-sum game.

'The world is looking like the 17th century under the mercantilism when countries saw economics as a zero-sum game. They exported as much as they could to get gold, and erected enormous [trade] barriers.'

This is nothing but a return to nationalisim...which I have been predicting for some years. Nationalisim and trade barriers have led to many wars. Now, with peak everything in our faces, the odds of wars caused by trade barriers are sharply increased. Empires have used wars to pry open and exploit foreign markets forever.

Nationalism and trade barriers will arise again, no doubt, and possibly new empires. But with less and less energy from "fossil" sources, the damage that can be done will decrease and the size of empires will shrink back. Is that the best we can come up with-- less worse? Are human beings any smarter than yeast -- or is the human race itself fundamentally a zero-sum game?

Looks like we need a new paradigm! Cascading Empires has led us to where we are now, but previous empires were based on unrenewable resources -- first on forests, then coal, now oil -- all "fossil" fuels compared to the lifetime of human beings. (Trees can be planted, of course, but forests cannot be renewed with the relentless pressure applied by human civilization).

The Oil Drum frequently has well-thought out posts that point to the possibility of a less dismal future, but it seems so hard to translate thought into action.

"...but it seems so hard to translate thought into action" which is why many of us are not counting on some governement entity to save the day. Although it might futile, the three other families on my rural road have taken indivdual action and have discussed what we have to do as a group when TSHTF. It's far, far from perfect. However, it is "something" and far better than waiting.


The same thing is happening among my neighbors.

Dmitri Orlov describes something similar during the breakdown of the Soviet Union--solutions springing from the bottom, rather than imposed from the top.

Look at this cool site the State of Minnesota put together to help people plan for disasters. It lists disaster by type and helps you put together survival kits.


I saw Matt Simmons speak before the MN Legislature. One point that he made was that we don't really know the minimum operating level of our fuel system. In a panic situation it could go dry very quickly. That has prompted me to start a long term food storage plan.

Dried foods in combination with a water purification system are ideal in many ways. TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein,) if stored correctly, has a shelf life of dozens of years, and in my opinion, isn't all that bad. I keep a large supply of it on hand and use in my day to day cooking. If you use this stuff in Hamburger Helper or similar, you don't notice as much that you're not using real ground beef but a vegetable protein.
~Durandal (http://www.wtdwtshtf.com)

According to Tainter, the top will be cut off from the bottom due to collapse of the complex interactions of empire. Solutions arising from the bottom historically are pretty brutal -- that would appear to be the case in the Former Soviet Union -- though the only thing I know about that is what I read. The 13th - 15th centuries in Europe seem to have been characterized by the kind of banditry we associate with failure of central governments.

The population of North America supposedly lived in a peaceful Eden, undisturbed for millennia, until the Europeans arrived. Seems unlikely. Is something like that actually possible?

I forsee interesting challenges ahead.

There needs to be both. Survival efforts in the FSU were just that, and many didn't. You have better models in Cuba and Venezuela. Whatever complaints you might have about these gov'ts, they have both have tried hard to prevent the worst. The complaints against Cuba are that it hasn't succeeded in providing much more that a minimum material existence. But its accomplishments in health and education are considerable.

A hostile gov't will defeat the efforts of even the most skillful survivalists -- if nothing else, they'll tax and repossess your little tract in the woods. But getting together with neighbors is certainly a very good idea no matter what.

While I need to brush up on my understanding of the characteristics of mercantilism, I don't think a return to nationalism and a return to mercantilism are the same thing. The idea that there is underway a shift in thinking to a notion that 'economics [is] a zero-sum game' is very interesting. This has not been the line used to quell dissatisfaction among the unwashed. It appears to me as the antithesis of the ruling dogma (whatever ideas some or all rulers have kept close to their hearts) and as such represents a shift with revolutionary potential. If I see your wealth as a guarantee of my poverty, then I may undertake a different course of action from that I would probably accept if instead I see you as an example to follow.

Mercantilism was, as I recall, born of an era, in which privilege was historically supported by the idea of divine right. Today, privilege is supported by a regime of property rights, among other things. Will anything be sacred if the prevailing wisdom shifts to the idea that economics is a zero-sum game?

I agree. And the system of private property rights is justified to the masses by the promise of economic growth for everyone (even if some get a LOT more economic growth than others...) So what incentive do people have to stick with this system if we only can look forward to declining standards of living and attacks on our existing wealth so as to maintain economic growth for the powerful?

Are economic direct democracy (workplace councils) and political direct democracy possible outcomes of peak oil and the dilemma between clinging to the old system of imperialism, resource wars, exploitation, etc., and taking direct (and often local) power over the resources that we control (instead of sending our taxes off to the vampire-like Maloch that is the corporate welfare state and its ethanol/automobile-philia subsidies) to instead create a sustainable and wealthy "eco-technic" society for all?

Your outlook is very 18th century. Do you want to tell the masses they should have no rights on their property?

In times of chaos and scarcity, mankind has always fallen into brigandage. The post peak oil world will be no different. First the current illusion of control and 'authority'(i.e. police protection) will fall away. When it becomes obvious to the less law abiding types, as they are able to 'get away with' more and more, the developed world will once again be subject to brigands. Most of the less developed world has never been without them. Nearly all of our major cities already have them in poorer areas.


Before "Judge Dredd" was ever a movie, it was a comic strip in the British magazine 2000 A.D. The Dredd strips were great - they were about a hypothetical future, not better, not worse, just different. Crowded, so a lot of people were housed in huge buildings, like Twin Towers big, and of course these blocks would have "block wars". And people'd do things to try to feel like they mattered, like Chopper did, first as a notorious graffitti artist then as a hoverboard champ. It was off to the juve-cubes for him for a while! Judges were human too, although Dredd was a pretty hard case. Fascinating stuff, and I doubt any but a few of us hardcore-ex-fans remember those strips now. One of the topics touched on was that there'd be "wreckers" who'd take some old vehicle(s) and wreck 'em at some pinch point in the road out at the edge of the city, and then plunder those stopped by the wreck. And the Judges would go in and mop them up, but it was not a problem that would go away, merely be controlled to some degree.

This was all written/drawn about in the 1980s.

As Matt Simmons said, Jim Kunstler may have been an optimist

I don't think Jim realized how right he was going to be. Basically, I don't see how the US could have been more poorly prepared for expensive food & energy.

We are at the end of decades of massive debt financed “investment” in consumption in the US, especially “investment” in a massive suburban infrastructure which is dependent on an ever expanding supply of cheap energy.

In my opinion, oil prices are caught in a tug of war between slowing demand (at least in some areas) and declining net oil exports. I do think that it is a mistake to overestimate the possible decline in demand. Consider the Great Depression. Oil consumption worldwide was significantly higher in 1939 than in 1929, partly because millions of people wanted to drive a car for the first time. The key difference between now and then is that today billions of people want to drive a car for the first time.

On the supply side, there is continuing evidence that the annual decline rate in net oil exports by the top five net oil exporters is accelerating. Russia, for the first time in years, is currently reporting a monthly year over year decline in crude oil production, after a period of essentially flat production since October, 2006, and domestic petroleum consumption is exploding.

Meanwhile, the Yerginites are offering the worst possible advice at the worst possible time--basically "Party On Dude!"

I think we're starting to see exposed the fallacy of projected demand curves that continue to proceed linearly or exponentially upward without regard to a projected flatening or downturn of the supply curve. Anyone that has taken Econ 101 should have been able to see through that fallacy.

This does not mean that the decline of demand to adjust of flat or declining supplies eliminates any problem. It just means that less oil equals less oil. We ARE going to have to transition to an economy that uses progressively less oil, and that is going to present a multitude of problems for a multitude of people.

That's why I am always talking about declining refinery utilization in importing countries. IMO, it is not if, but when, refineries in importing countries start shutting down.

As you know, there are two parts to demand--being able and being willing to buy. That is also true of net exporters. They have to be able and willing to export. So, price--for the time being--is where able and willing buyers meet able and willing net oil exporters.

I usually talk about a hypothetical geometric progression in gasoline prices, but we have basically seen a geometric progression in oil prices since early 1999 to between $80 and $100 currently:

$10, $20, $40, $80. . . $160, $320, $640. . . .

Currently, we are between the third and fourth doubling.

As we have discussed, one other aspect is the perceived quality of the buyer, i.e., what things of value does the buyer have to offer the net oil exporter?

I believe it is more accurate to see the $10 price as an anomaly. We are then currently between the 2nd and 3rd doubling from the 'historic average'.

By the way, thanks for recently providing the link to http://www.upstreamonline.com/market_data/?id=markets_crude

Just so that I am sure, can you verify that the prices indicated for the one week, four week, etc., periods are average prices? It might seem silly to ask this, but I have been burnt by my misunderstanding of data in the past (i.e. what I thought was the average price was in fact the hightest price during a given period.)


Of course, the Economist Magazine in 1999 suggested that a long term price of $5 was quite likely.

Regarding Upstream, someone else found it before me, and I don't know about the average data.

It certainly is worth reminding people how wrong the Economist and, probably, the majority of economists were.

I wonder if you or someone else can direct me to information regarding the disposition by country (or region) of the oils listed on the chart: Brent Blend, Tapis, Louisana Sweet, Ural, Minas, etc..

Interviews & Opinions
OPINION: Big picture Russia: Oil production & taxes
Contributed by Chris Weafer, chief strategist at UralSib
Increasing threat to production is likely to force tax concessions

. . . Growth in Russia’s average daily oil production may be only, at best, 0.5% in 2008, and we could even see negative growth for the first time since 1998. This is because of the production problems at Sakhalin-1, one of the few projects that has been delivering rising output, and the low rate of upstream investment spending due to the high tax regime and rising cost base for Russia’s upstream oil majors. The more attractive tax regime in downstream oil also means that the oil companies have been switching investment into refining operations. . .

. . . Russia’s export capacity is already under threat because of both increasing domestic demand for oil products as the economy expands and because of the deliberate switch to downstream as the government looks to move up the value chain across all extractive industries. The plan to diversify away from raw material export vulnerability with a better mix of value-added products manufactured domestically is a key part of the first phase of the government’s plan to create a more diversified economy. . .

In exchange it looks like it's time the U.S. export only value-added products such as corn chips, wheat thins and cheezy puffs.

It especially illustrates the phenomenon of substitution. As the supply commodity A becomes more scarce and rises in price, the demand for A does go down, just as the law of supply and demand suggests. But some of that demand doesn't just go away, it searches for alternatives. If commodity B can work as a substitute, then the demand for B will go up, driving up its price.

Biofuels may be bad and wrong-headed for all sorts of reasons. But if they CAN be made to work as substitutes for motor fuels, at least in part, then they WILL be. Thus the diversion of agriculture from supplying food to supplying fuel, at least in part, with all the catastrophic consequences that implies.

I should also point out that this is the problem with projections that imply that we have hundreds of years of coal left. They forget that as the supply of oil and NG declines, there will inevitably be a major move toward CTL and coal gassification; this will drive up demand and depletion rates for coal substantially, and thus shorten the expected lifetime that remains for this resource.

We have seen this same phenomenon play out with many other resources as well. I can remember people being almost in a panic over the impending depletion of chromium in the 1960s and 1970s. We decided that we could do without shiny chrome-plated car bumpers, substituted plastic, and learned to live with less chromium. Of course, the petroleum feedstocks to make the plastics are peaking now, which means that we're going to have to come up with a different substitute. But what is left to work as a substitute? That is the ultimate problem we are facing: peak everything, the exhaustion of substitution possibilities. When there are no more substitution possibilities, then we are indeed left with nothing but demand destruction, and learning to live with less.

Only about 4% of oil use goes to making plastics, so we are unlikely to have a problem with that anytime soon, although that does not mean prices won't rise:

I've just come across this on a technology called JTEC, which could conceivably reduce costs of energy generation and stretch resources:

Super Soaker inventor touts solid state heat-2-leccy | The Register

It is basically a closed system where a heat source pushes hydrogen through a membrane to a lower temperature areas.
The efficiency should be up to 60%, way better than we do at the moment.

Good news for gas, coal, nuclear, and solar thermal in that order.

Not so good for solar PV and wind as it would make other sources more competitive but not help them.

Not that it will be available anytime soon, if it works at all.

There is an assumption that higher grain prices (floored by renewable fuels) is leading to or driving increased poverty or famine for much of the world. Correlation is not causation.

I would submit to people to check the reverse. That is, when there was enormous grain surplus over the last 25 years did world hunger go down? This clearly led to cheap food in the U.S. but did it impact world hunger?

I think if you check the past you will find that hunger and famine are much more tied to economic status, energy availability and functional society than to commodity prices. High energy prices are causing both high commodity prices and lower standard of living (hunger for some) more than the use of some grains for fuel.

That is, when there was enormous grain surplus over the last 25 years did world hunger go down? This clearly led to cheap food in the U.S. but did it impact world hunger?

It certainly went down in Bangladesh, Biafra, and other places that suffered mass death by starvation prior to the green revolution's spread to the third world. It certainly went down in rural India and China. However, it was not "grain surplus" that caused it. It was the green revolution that caused the grain surplus.

Food prices today are being driven up by much more than biofuels. The world is losing 1% of its topsoil per annum. Water is in increasingly short supply, and higher-yield crops require increased water. Energy prices, of course, have driven up the cost of production.

And then there's the small matter of the couple billion extra people we've added, courtesy of that same green revolution. Humans will expand to meet the available food supply. This causes perpetual demand-based upward pressures on food prices, at least until population overshoot causes a reduction in food supply and a corresponding destruction of demand.

I agree that the issue is more than price. I know I have read Scientific American articles talking about the importance of having adequate income distribution to purchase food, to prevent poverty.

At the same time, I don't think we can get too complacent. The poorer people are already spending a high proportion of their income on food. They aren't going to be able to spend a lot more.

Also, there were real famines in the 1960s. I think these are a real possibility again. Theoretically, if everyone cut back on meat, and if income were evenly distributed, this would not be a problem. But we don't live in an ideal world!


Theoretically, if everyone cut back on meat, and if income were evenly distributed, this would not be a problem.

Counter point

And then there's the small matter of the couple billion extra people we've added, courtesy of that same green revolution. Humans will expand to meet the available food supply.

At TOD you do not have to go far. The real problem is lies above the knees and below the belly button. Rewards should be given for those that do not reproduce. I know - All people get to eat meat until they reproduce!

I sure remember times being rough in the 1970s in the US. We were undersized, and very thin, due to not enough food. I think nowadays children in our shape are regularly removed from the home and placed in foster care and into the Army etc ASAP - I loved the food in the Army. It was the first time in my life I'd had a really good diet.

I was over at Realclimate for a difference:


Over the past days, many of us have received invitations to a conference called "The 2008 International Conference on Climate Change" in New York. At first sight this may look like a scientific conference - especially to those who are not familiar with the activities of the Heartland Institute, a front group for the fossil fuel industry that is sponsoring the conference. You may remember them. They were the promoters of the Avery and Singer "Unstoppable" tour and purveyors of disinformation about numerous topics such as the demise of Kilimanjaro's ice cap.

The CERA conference must be quite similarly empty in real scientific content.

Another interesting blog entry which really makes one scratch his or her head on what the world looked like in cretaceous and what that had to do with CO2 levels, cloud cover and ice in antarctica, maybe relevant to what will happen to us in the near future:


Edited to cut down an excessively long quote. You have the link, no need to quote such a big chunk. Especially since this article has been posted here before.

Satellite o'er the Desert

I've posted another article in on Ghawar:

Water Under the Gas Cap in Ain Dar

By using oil well locations and approximate ages identified using Google Earth, geo-referenced well spacing maps, and several SPE publications, a more complete picture of the status of the 'Ain Dar operational area of the Ghawar oil field is obtained. Recent wells have been drilled in the very top of the Arab-D reservoir and in areas where an uneven water flood has left oil behind. The location of gas caps, one each in north and south 'Ain Dar, overlap with the remaining dry areas present in 2004.

Maybe you should change your title to "Water Under the Cap in Ain Dar"...;)

Total Quits Saudi Arabian Venture After Drilling Fails to Find Natural Gas

Yeah, there's a sweet deal. You can come and look for gas. But if you find any, you get to sell it to Saudi industry at below the market price.

Regarding Saudi Gas:

This is why I have been using a +10%/year estimate for the 2007 increase in Saudi total liquids consumption, which might be a conservative estimate based on recent news reports.

Very much appreciated.

Brilliant! You get my award for most-patient-bit-map-matcher! Now we just need someone to smuggle out a well log running down through the oil layer.

Are Euan and Stuart planning to update Nosedive Toward the Desert?

If you liked this, stay tuned. Shedgum is a real tour de force.

Heard on CNBC this morning: If there were no Iowa Caucus there would be no ethanol program.

Sigh, everything is tied to politics and all politics is tied to the lowest common demonitor, the general opinion of the very uninformed Joe Sixpack. All politicians must get elected and to do that they must tell Joe exactly what he wishes to hear, no matter how far that is from the truth. And the sad fact is politicians are more convincing when they actually believe what they are preaching. That's correct, most politicians actually believe it when they say; "We can become energy independent in only x number of years."

Sad, very sad.

Ron Patterson

I don't think it's sad. Life isn't "tied to politics." Life is politics. And it has been my experience that "Joe six-pack" is often far better informed than many of us on TOD seem to imagine. People do make different choices using the same information-- based on their own perception of personal and family survival.

I agree NeverLNG, life is politics. Ron, if there is one thing I've learned over the years in my vocation as clergy, "whenever two or three are gathered together, you have politics." Ultimately, government (and this includes public institutions, corporations, and non-profit organizations alike) is about relationship, between those who administer and the administered. And yes, it is messy. Politics is always messy. Nor is this messiness confined to democratic or representative systems. Even the most authoritarian of regimes depend on support from key vested interests for survival, sometimes explicitly and other times tacitly given. There is a grain of truth in the statement, "we get the government we deserve."

And although cynicism can creep in when we are exasperated by slow progress on one front or another, I would be hesitant to underestimate the intelligence of the people. People may become disengaged, owing to discouragement or disappointment or distraction... they may even oppose our insights and vision for the future... but I have been pleasantly surprised how resilient, how thoughtful, how resourceful, and how wise they can be when facing life's challenges or unpleasantries.

TPTB can project an image of the unwashed masses as a herd to be manipulated, but this I suspect is an illusion propagated for their own perceived advantage and pride. Reality is a much more messy beast. And they do have to ride that beast if they want to maintain the illusion of control.

If PO is a real concern, and I believe it is, then sooner or later most people will catch on and adjust accordingly. Expect resistance, nobody likes to give up what they have, and expect anger, it is often a byproduct of grief or lament over a serious loss, especially a loss of trust, but also expect creativity and hope and steadfast determination. When all hell breaks loose, when the world around them crumbles, people will behave at their worst and best.

May I suggest that if we truly want to get the message out, if we truly want to make a difference on how this will unfold, if we truly want to help people prepare, it would be prudent not to underestimate or underappreciate our neighbours. We're not as far apart as it may first appear.

And from what I am observing, the message and insights offered here are becoming better known and understood elsewhere. This, IMHO, is a hopeful sign.

Your post reminds me of George Orwell's essay, "Shooting an Elephant."

Thanks Moe for the reference. I wasn't aware of Orwell's "Shooting an Elephant" so I googled it.

Brings to the forefront wisdom about administration: we appease the crowd "not to look like a fool" and bring down our dignity/ defy our better judgment in the process.

Such is the messiness of politics. Gives us an insight to think about.

I knew you'd like it. I liked your post too.

Zadok - I "borrowed" your post. Thanks! I gave credit, but no links to the drum. The people in D8n, Ohiaya have already had enough of my ranting bout oil.


Zadok_the_Priest -

Thank you for your very astute and wise observations.

I think that many educated people, and academic types in particular, tend to equate ignorance with stupidity, largely because it is very reassuring to do so. ( 'I am very educated, therefore I must be smart; whereas you have little education, therefore you must be stupid.) Ignorance can usually be cured, but stupidity is often permanent.

As you correctly pointed out, things are not that simple. And it gets even more complicated when you throw in the even more important variable of 'wisdom.' I know many extremely well-educated people who are vacuous fools and whose education was, for all intents and purposes, an almost total waste of time and money. On the other hand, I have had the pleasure to know some bearly educated people with clearly superior intelligence.

(The one person who particularly comes to mind was a high-school drop-out who grew up in the ghetto but who had such high-powered natural intelligence that it was almost scary to behold. This guy didn't even know what physics was, but he used to continually speculate (often incorrectly) on all sorts of scientific phenomena, had an extremely logical mind, and used to engage in some high sophisticated philosophical abstraction.)

While I don't write off the so-called masses due to lack of intelligence, what I do worry about is apathy. ('I don't know enough to care; and I don't care enough to know.') Under the right conditions apathy can almost instantly turn into rage, so I also worry about the natural tendency of the masses to latch onto some charismatic leader with a 'vision', someone who will lead them to ruin for his/her own delusions and self-aggradisement.

Re stupidity:

I've alway been fond of Giancarlo Livraghi's thoughts on the subject, and by extension Carlo M. Cipolla's thoughts.


There is a criterion, in Cipolla’s theory, that I have adopted as a method in some of my analyses. It’s defined in the one that he calls “Third (and Golden) Law” – «A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.»

Love it. Brilliant, simply brilliant.

One of Cipolla's observations, which fits my own experience, is that, in general, any definable group, such as garbage collectors, Oil Drum posters or Nobel Laureates will tend to have the same proportion of stupid people inhabiting it.

Of course the glass is also half-full. I have known some dirt-farming hillbillies and construction workers who were razor sharp.

"When all hell breaks loose, when the world around them crumbles, people will behave at their worst and best."

One of many perceptive thoughts.

An Irish friend in New York boiled it down farther than that..
"Everything is Politics."

Hard not to link that to Vonnegut's
"Life is High School."

all with a pinch of salt, of course.

Never LNG:

And it has been my experience that "Joe six-pack" is often far better informed than many of us on TOD seem to imagine.

And Zadok:

I would be hesitant to underestimate the intelligence of the people.

Never, perhaps you and Zadok are right. Perhaps Joe Sixpack and the average Joe in the street are far more intelligent than we realize. Perhaps we will be energy independent in a decade or so. Perhaps we will find some "alternative" to oil. Perhaps it is true that just as The Stone Age did not end because we ran out of stones, the industrial age will not end because we run out of fossil fuel. Perhaps the people who use that phraze are correct, the oil age will end when we find something better and cheaper.

Perhaps we will put up enough wind farms and solar panels to keep the world trucking right along as is. Perhaps we will plant enough sugarcane or whatever to make enough ethanol or biodiesel to keep everything going every upward. After all that is the opinion of just about everyone that I have tried to explain peak oil to. Not to worry is their opinion, science will think of something they tell me. And as you and Zadok say, Joe Sixpack is really better informed than any of us on TOD. Joe believes that technology will continue progress as it always has and keep on making everything better and better for everyone in the world.

As I said, sad, really, really sad. And it is even sadder that even a few people on this list really believe that crap.

God I feel like crying!

Ron Patterson

I think Zadok had it correctly. There is simply no way that any number of solar panels or wind turbines will allow for complete 1-for-1 substitution of what we currently "enjoy" as members of an oil-addicted, anti-life, sedentary, depressed, industrial world order. But we are all used to that, and we have reached some level of comfort with it. To give it up is to accept a death -- the death of the old and familiar. Death, even of something or someone that is horrible, and even when it is expected, is always difficult and involves the same stages of denial, anger, and hopefully, eventual acceptance.

People are generally in denial -- only in the last year has Peak Oil made any inroads into general consciousness. We can expect a lot of anger, and can possibly help move people toward acceptance. A new order, necessarily based less on force (due to the lesser availability of free energy) could be a lot better. Not guaranteed, of course.

I'm not entirely happy with the current world order-- very few are. But getting to something else is scary. The great minds of TOD can help light the way

It's unwise to confuse knowledge with intelligence as it's possible for them to exist separatly. It's also possible to be ignorant and intelligent or ignorant and knowledgable. Stereotyping people in condescending manners--labeling them joesixpac or billyfourwheeller or the masses--is everybit as counterproductive as any other sort of namecalling. We supposedly WANT the joesixpacs to LISTEN to our message about peak oil, but being condescending is a sure way to get people to TUNE OUT.

There is simply no way that any number of solar panels or wind turbines will allow for complete 1-for-1 substitution of what we currently "enjoy"

I'm curious what you see as the areas that cannot be substituted. Given appropriate storage (probably pumped storage for short term and chemical storage for long term, such as electricity---(electrolysis)--->hydrogen---(fischer-tropsch)--->methane or ammonia---(standard cogeneration plant)--->electricity, although thermal mass and pressurized air are other commonly-considered storage media) and as many solar panels/wind turbines as we want:

- Ground transportation appears coverable (electrified rail and electric cars).
- Residential and commercial heating appears coverable (heat pumps)
- Industrial heating appears coverable (resistive heating, if nothing else)
- Fertilizer production is coverable (electrolysis)

That leaves, more or less, air&water transportation and chemical feedstocks, all of which can be provided from coal via fischer-tropsch. Any uses of oil I've missed, particularly ones which cannot be satisfied from CTL?

Together, those ones are about 5% of current fossil fuel requirements, meaning they can be continued for a very long time. Given that we can convert CO and electricity into any hydrocarbon we want, though, these could be handled by electricity as well, assuming there's a modestly-efficient way to create CO from atmospheric CO2. (I've heard of ways, but I don't know how efficient they are or how well they scale.)

So your original assertion - that renewable electricity cannot substitute - is not entirely clear. What particularly were you referring to that cannot be replaced?

Where to start? I said one-to-one substitution. Of course, modern technology allows for any number of interconversions, and gasoline can be synthesized from horse dung.

The problem is scale, complexity of infrastructure, resource allocation, politics, NIMBY -- and more. Gone are the days that petroleum seeped up from shallow wells, and could be refined in relatively crude equipment which produced a product that could be used in a model T.

Gone are the giant forests that produced building material that just needed to be cut and shaped -- oriented strand board and engineered trusses are an order of magnitude more complex.

Everything can be substituted or replaced -- I'll give you that. I don't believe there is the financial ability or the political will to do it on the scale of a world of 6 Billion people who all want to drive cars and fly in airplanes and eat prime rib.

Everything can be substituted or replaced -- I'll give you that. I don't believe there is the financial ability or the political will to do it on the scale of a world

That's different from what you originally said, though (and much, much more defensible).

The problem, then, is not one of whether oil can be substituted, but whether it can be substituted fast enough, and whether it will be substituted fast enough.

I think the distinction is important, as it shifts the debate from whether problems can be solved to how problems can be solved. (YMMV, of course.)

God I feel like crying!

Ron, you couldn't have uttered prophetic "lament" any better. Jeremiah would be proud of you. Tears are not a sign of weakness. They are a sign that you genuinely care. And that's important, very important!

As joule says above, apathy is a real danger. So, too, IMHO, is despair without reference to hope. Both can disable and immobilize people from taking helpful and healthy action. Both can lead to placing trust or faith in the first johny-come-lately charlatan or demagogue who promises them paradise only to deliver hell in return.

History has given us ample examples as a forewarning.

None of us have a crystal ball to see into the future. Heaven knows, we are likely facing very dire consequences for "the lifestyle to which we have become accustomed." However, there are choices that can make a bad situation even worse and conversely, there are choices can make a worsening situation bearable.

The higher angels of the human spirit, however you may want to define them, give meaning and hope amid the broken shards of people's lives. And people in general possess these higher angels. When we lament, i.e. when we call attention to injustice and evil, we have the ability to prompt people out of apathy, out of futile hopelessness, into a place where the faculties of reason, love, kindness, joy, perseverence, endurance, etc., can take hold and flourish. And these are the faculties that I am counting on to make a difference.

What I am saying is don't give up. Give credit where credit is due. Don't give up on yourself. Give yourself credit. You are being heard, even if it's not always acknowledged. And don't give up on your fellow human beings. Give them at least the benefit of the doubt that they have something worthwhile to contribute. Not all is lost, not yet anyway.

Here ends my sermon for today:-)

Your thoughts were well put today Zadok. Thanks.

(That name makes me think I'm talking to one of Godzilla's enemies, though. Not objecting.. it's just kind of funny.. A Rabbi, a Penguin and Zadok walk into a bar and sit down.. and the bartender looks up and says "Hey, is this some kind of a joke?!")


Bob, Zadok comes from an Old Testament reference... he's the guy who together with Nathan anointed Solomon king.

But if the Japanese have him as one of Godzilla's enemies, oh my, the possibilities are endless... I could start dropping the name at dinner parties as an icebreaker:-)


Tom (my real name!, no joke)

Zadok, you and some others might find this article interesting:

How Do You Fight the Despair?

In my article The Spiritual Effects of Comprehending the Global Crisis I hint at the very real risk that those who embark on this journey of discovery will fall into a state of despair. At every turn we are confronted with fresh evidence that the problems humanity is facing are bigger than expected, developing faster than expected, and reinforce each other in ways we did not foresee. To make matters worse, the proposed solutions, whether technical or social, seem to be utterly unequal to the task. As a final blow, it appears that even obvious solutions that might help a bit are not being acted on, and that we seem determined to carry on with business as usual until, well, until we can't anymore.

This maelstrom of comprehension can leave you with the feeling that nothing whatever can be done, that further struggle is hopeless because there is no chance of preventing the jaws of the trap from snapping shut. That sense of helplessness easily turns into a toxic brew of depression and despair.

There is a good reason despair has always been regarded as particularly dangerous to the human spirit. Despair is a paralyzing force. It can not only keep us from addressing long-range problems, it can keep us from dealing with immediate decisions and can even prevent us from enjoying the simple things that give our lives meaning. The pleasures of family, friends, lovers, crisp winter or warm summer days, music, poetry or even an innocent walk in the woods can be buried under a suffocating blanket of all-consuming dread.

... snippity-do-dah ...

It has taken me a long time to come up with a satisfactory response. It needed to be one that offered hope, but did not deny the obvious seriousness of the problem, or try to present unrealistic "solutions" to problems that may not be soluble.

What follows is the best I've come up with so far. I'm publishing it because I know it will help some people. I know this because it has helped me, and I've had a case of existential angst I wouldn't wish on George W. Bush. If you're reading this, there's a good chance you're feeling some of this despair yourself. If you are, I hope these words help.

Four new understandings brought me back from the brink and made me realize there is hope of some sort.

You'll have to read the article to find out what they are.

Despair is a lot worse than useless - it's downright ungentlemanly!

A human being should always hold himself superior to his fate.

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda..

Thanks GliderGuider/Paul,

Your understandings are fairly universal in scope and yes are an avenue for hope.

If I may be so bold as to summarize your four points/understandings:
1) values that assist with survival (what I called the higher angels) may come to the frontfront as the crisis deepens;
2) groups of people will form/come together to take responsibility for the tasks at hand;
3) collapse is not same thing as uniformly triggered extinction (where there's breath, there's hope); and,
4) PO may precipitate a paradigm shift to a stewardship/custodial relationship with nature instead of the current domination/exploitation predilection.
My sincere apologies if I'm way off target with any of these.

My point in reviewing these is that I would concur that they would work with and appeal to most mainstream spiritual traditions both western and eastern.

Thank you for sharing. Well done. Lots of food for thought.

Thanks GG and Zadok - these are issues my family and I are wrestling with.

While I agree with Ron that there is no real reason for optimism now, I do think that SOME people can be surprising in how they respond. The question is, will there be enough who respond in a positive way? And even if there are, how does one respond positively to the issue of there being way too many humans for the available resources?

Your question needs to be phrased more precisely, IMO. "Will there be enough who respond in a positive way?" leaves me wondering, "Enough for what, exactly?"

Enough to prevent the converging crisis from impacting the vulnerable regions of the world? Obviously not.
Enough to prevent the converging crisis from impacting your own nation? Again, obviously not.
Enough to prevent it from impacting your community? Probably not.
Enough to help your nation soften its impact on the more vulnerable citizens? Possibly.
Enough to help your community soften its impact on the more vulnerable citizens? Definitely.

In terms of how one responds positively when there are too many people for the resources, again you have to pull your horizons in to to the community level. We will not be able to fix this one on a global scale, but we will be able to make a much bigger difference if we concentrate our effotrs closer to home.

Perhaps we will put up enough wind farms and solar panels to keep the world trucking right along as is....technology will continue progress as it always has and keep on making everything better and better for everyone in the world.

As I said, sad, really, really sad. And it is even sadder that even a few people on this list really believe that crap.

God I feel like crying!

Yes, how terrible the notion is that civilization may not collapse in fire and death. How, uh, sad that some people believe we're not all doomed to misery and ruin. O, poor, neglected doomsayer! Y2K was bad enough, but et tu, peak oil?

You're certainly entitled to believe that conventional wisdom on our ability to switch to different energy supplies is flawed, but it's tremendous hubris to see the rest of the world as so deluded you feel such pity for them/us. Moreover, such a visceral response ought to suggest that you may be viewing this topic emotionally, rather than rationally, and accordingly your beliefs may not be as sound as you're assuming.

When you feel than 99% of the world can't or won't face the Truth that you fiercely believe, it's worth asking yourself whether you might have made some unfounded assumptions somewhere along your decision-making process that led you to that belief.

Yes, how terrible the notion is that civilization may not collapse in fire and death. How, uh, sad that some people believe we're not all doomed to misery and ruin. O, poor, neglected doomsayer! Y2K was bad enough, but et tu, peak oil?

Why do feel the need to bash him like that?

I can't speak for Darwinian, but to me it just gets frustrating knowing that it is now 2008, and still 95+% of the U.S. population (and many or most policymakers) remain essentially oblivious to Peak Oil.

This is disastrous. Because it's pretty clear that to avoid unprecedented social and economic crises, mitigation on a "crash program basis" would have to be carried out at least 20 years before the peak. But this is a problem, as serious mitigation will mean significant sacrifice on the part of Americans.

The cold, hard truth is that most Americans will not voluntarily make these sacrifices unless they see a very good reason to do so. And the only way that will happen is if they are presented with the "worse case scenario" and told that this scenario (mass starvation, vicious resource wars, etc.) is a very real possibility (and it is) if serious action is not taken way before the crisis is upon us.

But this position is regularly derided and promptly dismissed as being loony, alarmist, and Doomerish. An example is trying to make Ron look like fool by equating his concerns about peak oil with Y2K. This is very effective at silencing any sort of intelligent discussion of legitimate concerns. It is also very effective at ensuring that the public and the politicians will continue to remain apathetic and unmotivated. Because if people fail to see any potential threat or genuine reason for concern, the chances of them committing to the sacrifices that would be required for mitigation on a "crash program basis" are nil.

But this position is regularly derided and promptly dismissed as being loony, alarmist, and Doomerish. An example is trying to make Ron look like fool by equating his concerns about peak oil with Y2K. This is very effective at silencing any sort of intelligent discussion of legitimate concerns. It is also very effective at ensuring that the public and the politicians will continue to remain apathetic and unmotivated. Because if people fail to see any potential threat or genuine reason for concern, the chances of them committing to the sacrifices that would be required for mitigation on a "crash program basis" are nil.


Comparing the depletion of our main source of energy to rewriting some computer code is completely moronic!

Why do feel the need to bash him like that?

I doubt you honestly want to know, but, on the off chance you do, there were a number of reasons:

  • First, his comments struck me as enormously patronizing. The great mind, privy to secret knowledge, weeps for the poor, deluded proles? Spare me.
  • His comments struck me as reeking of one of the core weaknesses of peak oil groups, blind faith in their own infallibility. Before being overcome by sadness for what the world doesn't know, it's important to make sure you're not simply frustrated that they don't share your personal, irrational, unfounded beliefs.
  • His comments are an excellent example of why peak oil is widely dismissed as the ravings of delusional pessimists. That's why I linked to a deconstruction of Kunstler's apocalyptic predictions about Y2K, to show how people who fail to keep perspective, especially on the difference between what they know and what they believe are at great risk of spiralling off into delusional fantasy-land, destroying not only their own credibility but that of groups they're associated with.
  • Finally, his comments struck me as not only patronizing, self-aggrandizing, wildly over-confident, and harmful, but simply as disturbing; you weep because not everybody is as pessimistic as you? Misery may love company, but that doesn't mean you have to play matchmaker for it.

Frankly, if you can't see how his comments would alienate people, I question how well you understand people outside the peak oil mindset.

to me it just gets frustrating knowing that it is now 2008, and still 95+% of the U.S. population (and many or most policymakers) remain essentially oblivious to Peak Oil.

To a large extent, it's the peak oil community's own fault.

There's a foolish, doomsday-cult-like emphasis on hyping an imminent peak and its catastrophic consequences. Those predictions keep being wrong - there's failed predictions by people like Campbell going back 20 years - and that's simply a stupid way to try to convince people.

The problem is that oil supplies will get tighter and tighter, and we'll have to find replacements. There are lots of reasons for that - geological, ultimately, but also political and economic - and convincing people of that basic problem doesn't require they buy into your apocalyptic mindset. So instead of trying to sell them on your beliefs about what will happen - a process almost invariably doomed to fail - the sensible thing to do would be to tell people about the most basic and uncontroversial facts of the matter (a finite amount exists, we'll need to switch eventually, we have a lot of infrastructure so switching will be a big job, etc.) and let people appreciate the problem without injecting your own beliefs on the timing or aftermath!

Most people here aren't talking about "peak oil"; they're talking about "peak oil NOW and the doom that is sure to come!1!", and those simply aren't the same thing, no matter how much faith they have in their predictions for the timing and effects.

So it's small wonder than not many people who don't share those beliefs listen. Do you listen when people try to hard-sell their religion?

Because it's pretty clear that to avoid unprecedented social and economic crises, mitigation on a "crash program basis" would have to be carried out at least 20 years before the peak.

You believe it's "pretty clear". That doesn't make it a fact.

Hirsch's report, as I recall it, doesn't predict "unprecedented social and economic crises" if mitigation isn't started 20 years before peak; it just says we'll have less oil than we'd prefer to have at that point, and that economies are likely to suffer as a result. And, even then, the report has been criticized as myopic. (Although perhaps that's unfair, as the report explicitly notes that it ignores the effects of improvements in technology; that makes its predictions a little divorced from reality, though.)

The cold, hard truth is that most Americans will not voluntarily make these sacrifices unless they see a very good reason to do so.

The cold, hard truth is that's just your opinion, and insisting it's "fact" will just get you dismissed as a blowhard.

If you want to convince people, you can't come across as a self-professed prophet. If you insist that you infallibly know a Secret Truth, you go immediately in the "deluded whackjob" bin for most people. It's not a "discussion" if you won't admit the possibility that you're wrong, and very few people enjoy being preached at.

the only way that will happen is if they are presented with the "worse case scenario"

Do you have any evidence for all the assertions you're so blithely making?

You're making some very sweeping claims about human psychology, but you're not giving anyone any reason to think you know what the hell you're talking about. How can you expect people to take your statements on faith if they don't already agree with you?

But this position is regularly derided and promptly dismissed as being loony, alarmist, and Doomerish.

No - the atrocious arguments are derided and dismissed. The position itself is simply unexamined, as nobody's done a credible job of presenting it.

Because if people fail to see any potential threat or genuine reason for concern

False Dilemma Fallacy.

It's simply not the case that the only two alternatives are "tell people the world is going to end" or "ignore the issue". Indeed, both extremes are likely to be largely ineffective, as the former will alienate most people, while the latter won't provide information.

A much more sensible middle ground is to simply and without hysterics explain the overall scope of the problem (let people come to their own conclusions, even if they don't come to yours; preaching drives people away), some of the solutions, and some of the reasons it's in their best interests to solve the problem (e.g., reduced reliance on imports/sending less money to support radical Wahabbi imams/whatever).

Just don't go overboard and start ranting and preaching. Not only does that get you treated like the ranty-preachy guy in the subway (and you see how many converts he makes), there is solid psychological research suggesting that there's a better way to motivate people. If there's a small punishment for an action, people are less likely to do it than if there's a large punishment, with the argument being that people find personal rationalizations for why they're avoiding doing the action, rather than simply telling themselves it's due to the threat of punishment. It's effectively leveraging the same thing I'm talking about - get people to see why they want to solve the problem, and they'll become much more interested in it than if you shriek that they should solve it.

Pitt's been on that attack against anyone with any darker vision than his own cornucopian baloney for a long time.

For those who just enjoy ranting about their apocalyptic fantasies, go to the hell you seemingly desire.


Unless you fall in line with Pitt the Elder, goose-stepping to his specific drumbeat, you can "go to the hell you seemingly desire".

Pitt's been on that attack against anyone with any darker vision than his own cornucopian baloney for a long time.

That you believe that doesn't make it true.

I poke holes in bogus arguments; due to the people here, almost all of those are doomer arguments. On foolishly-optimistic sites, I poke holes in bogus cornucopian arguments.

So spare me the persecution complex.

For those who just enjoy ranting about their apocalyptic fantasies, go to the hell you seemingly desire.

Unless you fall in line with Pitt the Elder, goose-stepping to his specific drumbeat, you can "go to the hell you seemingly desire".

I have no idea how you think the line you quoted supports that statement.

All I said there was that people whose sole purpose here is to rant about their apocalyptic fantasies can go to hell.

Did I say people had to believe what I believe? No.
Did I say people had to agree with me? No.
Did I say people couldn't say an apocalypse was coming? No.
Did I say people couldn't tell us we were all doomed? No.

All I said was that people who are just here to rant about their end-of-the-world fantasies - whose sole purpose is to spread a message of hopelessness and despair, throttling the efforts of the people here who are trying to help people - can go to hell.

Unless you support people whose sole intention is to spread misery and hinder the efforts of others to help people, I don't see what your problem is.

Mind you, given how often you misinterpret, misconstrue, misstate, or outright lie to try to make it seem as if I've said things I haven't, perhaps I shouldn't be surprised.

At any rate, "goose-stepping"? Get a grip, and some perspective.
And Godwin's Law, dude - you lose.

I poke holes in bogus arguments; due to the people here, almost all of those are doomer arguments. On foolishly-optimistic sites, I poke holes in bogus cornucopian arguments.

Pitt, you are truly a champion hole-poker, but that takes no real courage. It would be refreshing to see you advance your own ideas some day.

Y2K was bad enough, but et tu, peak oil?

Y2K was a non-event precisely because we spent a huge amount of energy and effort to make sure it would be.

I can't say as I see the same thing happening with peak oil. Virtually every technology I see touted as the solution to our oil dependence is too little too late if it is true that we are indeed now at peak oil (which remains to be seen).

for y2k i too saw tech attention to the problem & barely remembered to get my wife to fillup [we live out of town] & as i recall we only had about 20 bucks between us.

re learning about peak oil 5/05; i can't shake my belief that -at least for my kids & grandkids- matt savinar is eventually more right than wrong. i pray we are the latter.

& as greyzone says i too believe our problems are solvable engineering-wise & am looking for any hopeful signs.

as inferred elsewhere ;

'engineering is politics'.

ron & zadok,et al, thank you.

Y2K was a non-event precisely because we spent a huge amount of energy and effort to make sure it would be.

Y2K was hugely overblown. I knew a lot of computer people at the time, and all of them knew it was hugely overblown. We laughed about it - the nonsensical paranoia some people had about it was a joke.

Kunstler can say all he wants that "nobody knew" it would be a nothing event, but he's just deluding himself. All the tech people I knew in the late 90s knew it would be - at most - a minor hiccup.

Did people spend a lot of effort fixing it? Yes, although not as much as some suggest (i.e., those who claim it was the reason for the tech bubble are clueless). And that's one of the reasons it would be stupid to assume that we won't spend a lot of effort dealing with peak oil mitigation when that becomes an issue, too. Predictions that don't include serious mitigation efforts aren't credible.

(And, no, peak oil isn't an issue yet. $90 oil isn't enough to vault it past the status of "minor or niche concern".)

"And, no, peak oil isn't an issue yet."

Heh. Right. Surely you did't keep a straight face as you typed that one...

I think Pitt may actually believe the things he says, and for someone of his otherwise apparent intelligence, this is unfortunate.

I'm with you on this one Ron...

'America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between'...Oscar Wilde

Ron (and all other sad, demoralized peakers): In my experience, the antidote to despair is action. If you just sit around and watch the slow-motion train wreck of our energy situation, it can be emotionally devastating. But the minute you engage yourself constructively in addressing some part of the problem, and more importantly, when you engage with others in mutual effort, you find yourself feeling more energized, more optimistic, and less despairing. Whatever you can do, be it designing the next super high efficiency engine or merely planting some tomatoes, do it!

One of my favorite inspirational quotes:

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative, there is one truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.

All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision,
raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed
would have come his way.

Whatever you dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.


Don't know about those other 49 states but Iowa has a very good mix of solar, wind, and surplus biomass resources to be energy independent. As for the Bo-Wash megagopolis, California, and all those not in flyover country, you just keep on buying oil from terrorists.

'Troops 'are running out of machine guns'
By Richard Savill
Last Updated: 2:34am GMT 07/02/2008

The Army is running out of machine guns, according to a leaked report which said stocks were "very fragile".

The report said the Army "desperately" needed 400 of the jumbo 0.5in calibre heavy machine guns, and had run out of the 7.62 GPMG and Minimis'...snip...

PEAK GUNS!...and if they issue the troops sling-shots instead of more guns we will eventually reach PEAK ROCKS... :)

Peak rocks?

I don't know with what weapons World War IV will be fought, but World War V will be fought with slurs, insults, and character assassination. The won't be nothing else left.

Apologies to Einstein.

As the French commander of the castle said to the Monty Python English Knights that were beseiging him...'I piss in your general direction'.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail...

We are no smarter now than were those that fought with spears and stones. We will continue to fight wars with what ever comes to hand. Human nature has not changed...

How many people would inhabit the earth today if no wars had been fought?

Actually, it's: I don't wanna talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper! I fart in your general direction! Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!

Human nature indeed hasn't changed. But your last line is a double-edged sword....


It takes energy to fight wars.

I hope folks won't decide the most energy efficient method is atomic bombs (at least where they can leave oil fields intact).

Maybe we will luck out and war effect will be less than feared.

We may yet see the heyday of a global fusion/extortion economy, but I won't expand on that here.

I suspect by the time the 'maiming of soldier X VS energy calcs of weapon Y' starts being a consideration for the US of A, the ugly downslope of less energy will be well upon us all.

Now, what 'war effects' are we to pheer? The killing? The gutting of the non-war efforts parts of the economy? The accompanying corruption? Tuesday?

'It takes energy to fight wars' Very true...But, I wonder how much energy per sq mile conquered was used by Alexander of Macedonia or his dad, Phillip, compared to the energy per sq mile the US has used so far in Iraq and Afganistan? Arguably, we have yet to conquer anything.
There has been an incredible increase in the energy used per sq mile conquered. What is the cause of the enormous increase in energy expended with so little to show for it?

There is a marked reluctance to slaughter indiscriminately, which is cramping their style.
Everyone bangs on about the unconquerable Afghans.

Rubbish, Halagu Khan did not have the slightest difficulty in bringing peace to the country.
Mind you, those who were lucky enough to survive the genocide when it was conquered were in little doubt what the slightest sign of resistance would lead to.

I doubt that Jovial Joe Stalin would have had the same problems as Gorbachov - no population, no guerilla warfare - you try fighting from the stronghold of your own mountains when you have been deported to the Kolyma.

Alexander, although a bit more selective in his massacres would most certainly have razed a city or two to the ground with all their inhabitants if they showed any signs of mucking around.

The Next Energy Debate - VMT (Vehicle Miles Traveled)

Monday through Wednesday, I get to work by walking a block and a half from a high-rise apartment building to a stop on Washington, D.C.'s Metro subway. I emerge three stops later a half block from my office. My commute is pretty close to a zero petroleum experience...The rest of the week, I am back in Detroit, where I return to the 20th century. I drive about 20 miles to my office, which is located by the side of a freeway in a suburban "edge city"...


Best Hopes for fewer VMT,


BTW, the recent cancellation of 18% federal funding for the DC Metro extension to Tyson's Corner & Dulles Airport is EXACTLY the wrong decision. Ed Tennyson believes, and I agree, that the subway/grade separated extension should go past Dulles Airport to downtown Leesburg. Access an already decent Urban area that could be densified into walkable TOD.

Sigh. Give this guy today's chutzpah award, whatever the merits of the Metro extension. He drives or flies 1000-odd miles roundtrip every week between Detroit and DC, and he has the gall to worry his readers over living 20 miles from work??? Reminds me a little of the Congresscritters and preachy Hollywood stars who drive Priuses a few yards for the photo op, then pop into giant motorhomes and SUVs the instant the cameras leave.

I doubt, given his comparison of these two worlds he lives in, that he is unaware of the 'footprint' he's leaving with his overall travel situation. He sees and shows us both, and is open about his weekly flights, even if he doesn't linger on it.. he also doesn't say "I'm swell, what's your problem?".. he outlines a lot of the issues that have created this monster that we all are soaking in, and doesn't resort to Namecalling or Stale Stereotypes with his conclusions.

I usually 'commute' to my basement, or to walkable jobs right here intown, but I had a Production in Seoul and another in Tucson last year. I don't know how that all averages out, but I gave ~some~ thought to my carbon-blowing, and really never considered turning down those jobs. If I had, we'd be homeless by now.

It's easy to judge people from afar, but it's more useful to see what is actually making them make their choices, and seeing if there are ways to offer new options.


Is Warren Buffett reading comments at TOD? This Op/Ed from Mr. Buffett contains comments similar to one of my posts yesterday on TOD. Almost certainly it is a coincidence because many hold the same opinions and he is a whole lot smarter that me...Just curious.

'Buffett sees financial woes as 'poetic justice' for some bankers'

'TORONTO: Problems in the U.S. financial sector are "poetic justice" for bankers who designed and sold complex investments that have since gone sour, the billionaire investor Warren Buffett said on Wednesday'...snip...

'Buffett, one of the world's wealthiest people, appeared to see irony in the fact that many of the banks who marketed complex investments, which have now crashed, are bearing much of the fallout.

"It's sort of a little poetic justice, in that the people that brewed this toxic Kool-Aid found themselves drinking a lot of it in the end," he said'...snip...

International Herald Tribune

...and, in a humorous quote from Buffett from Dec 07...

'"You can't turn a financial toad into a prince by securitizing it. Wall Street started believing its own PR on this -- they started holding this stuff themselves, maybe because they couldn't sell it. It worked wonderfully, until it didn't work at all."

Warren Buffett, December 12, 2007


This Op/Ed from Mr. Buffett contains comments similar to one of my posts yesterday on TOD.

Maybe you should recommend a stock and see if he then goes and buys the company.

Hey, with my record of picking stocks I will continue to buy what Mr Buffett buys. He likes railroads, I like railroads...especially the Canadian RR that has recently built a large new container facility at Prince Rupert Sound and hauls lots of cereal grains. Canadian RRs are not subject to the whims of the US Congress and Soy Beans are doing as well or better than gold.

CNI owns the former Illinois Central from Chicago to New Orleans and has substantial US exposure. And CP just bought the DME, a railroad that wanted to upgrade and expand tracks from Wyoming (Powder River Basin) to Chicago.

So both contain US exposure. But I agree that they look better going into a recession than most US RRs.

BTW, I beat Mr. Buffett into RRs by two quite profitable years :-)


IIRC, CNI has long operated Grand Trunk RR, has it not?

Yes, the Grand Trunk runs from Chicago to Detroit and connects to Canada there. Also multiple branches in Ohio. A major hauler of Big 3 auto parts & cars. Another vulnerability of CNI.


Hey Alan,
Maine just lost some more steel-wheels!
"The Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railroad Preservation Society says it's calling it quits after ending its lease with the state on tracks that run between Unity and Burnham. The group is now selling its assets on the Internet."

But at least our Senate Prez has pushed to extend the Downeaster line from Portland to 'MidCoast', to meet the line from Brunswick that extends closer to the real 'Downeast'. Hope to keep the issue alive for my reps. Very Sad that someone was killed on the Tracks down in Mass today..

Did you have any comments on Bush's Amtrak budget-ectomy proposals yesterday? Missed it, if you did.


GWBs budget is DOA, so not worthy of comment. And Amtrak budget cut (as proposed) was totally expected. So I read it and let it pass.

My "Outrage Hormone" has been depleted by GWB, between Katrina, Iraq, energy (Iraq = energy), general incompetence, etc. I no long rise to every incident.

Best Hopes for Rare and Selected Outrage at the Next President,



Are tracks to be abandoned ?


RE: Tracks..

Haven't heard yet. I've had some informal discussions with Bike/Hike trail advocates, and it's time to get a coalition going with them, make sure there are business and physical models known for using these rights-of-way used to best advantage for all parties.

Unity is where the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Assn hosts the 'Commonground Country Fair' every year, and is a touchstone for the Small Farming community in Maine.. The tracks are right next to the grounds, and would be great to see reestablished for Ag Transport and some degree of TOD or TOAB? Transit-Oriented Agriculture/Business.

Belfast isn't far from the Railhead that would be linked to Portland, Boston, etc.. if that project get's approved. Knock wood.

Alan, I am in survival mode with stocks. If I can stay a half-step ahead of inflation I will be greatful. RRs are fine, had some ADM till they got big into ethanol, I like the grains, getting neutral about base metals with the coming recession, have one good performing oil/gas driller. Missed the big run up on Mosaic Fertilizer (should have found Bob Shaw sooner) Still big on GE...if they go under I am screwed...but so is the economy. GE earnings are now slightly more than 50% overseas and they are looking greener. Dumped the financials long ago...like I said...survival mode.

Congrats on getting ahead of Mr Buffett...few can make that claim.

My "bond" substitute portfolio suggestion is foreign hydroelectric producers. Diverse geographically and variable rainfall is often the biggest risk.

Basic intrinsic value as long as joint stock companies and some foreign ownership is allowed. Kind of like silver coins at a higher level of social organization. Returns vary, but these are more value when TSHTF.

Canada (several), Brazil (CIG, CPL), Austria (one), New Zealand (two), Switzerland are the ones that I have found so far.

Looking a geothermal and wind also.

Oil producers (few or no refineries, pipelines, service stations) are another.

For those wondering what to do with $600 tax rebate, may I suggest Canadian Hydro Developers. No dividends, all plowed back into new development. Started with small hydro in Canada, new projects mainly wind (some biomass) but good portfolio of hydro.

Invested money does some good for mitigation, and value grows organically as new renewable energy is added to Canadian grid.

Just Thoughts,


Alan...information is always appreciated. Thanks, I will look into these hydros.

If Warren Buffet reads this, I'd love to ask him to give me $75,000 so I may go buy a piece of land to grow my own food on so I won't starve when TSHTF. Either that, or he can hire me to do whatever job he needs me to do, as long as that $75k is paid up-front so I can go ahead and buy the land. haha. (I would be SO lucky.)

RE: Gasoline could drop 50 cents/gallon by spring

From the story:

U.S. gasoline demand over the last four weeks only averaged about 1 percent more than the same period last year, the EIA said. Demand growth for the fuel has typically averaged about 1.5 to 2 percent a year and has been one of the major drivers of global oil markets.

"Something dramatic is occurring with consumer driving habits," Geoff Sundstrom, a spokesman for AAA motor club, said in a telephone interview. "These numbers, if sustained over next couple of weeks, should set the stage for a reversal of price forecasts."

The growth in gasoline consumption was "only" 1 percent? That's still growth in consumption, is it not? But, one should not forget that weather can have a large impact on gasoline consumption. Not to mention that the price for gasoline has gone up a little, after the $100/bbl blip near the end of December worked down to the pump.

E. Swanson

As I was out on my twice daily patrols of the 'hood, with our dog--observing the For Sale signs going up much faster than they are coming down--an interesting question occurred to me regarding ELP.

I am constantly trying to remain a net energy producer, regarding "P" (Producer of Essential Goods and/or Services). However, I have been singularly unsuccessful in achieving additional "E & L," Economize & Localize.

In my case, my E&L failure has been due to SNS--Spousal Nesting Syndrome. In a nod to Leanan, I am not referring to Female Nesting Syndrome, but I suspect that we all know who the real culprits are.

Again, in my case the stated price for moving into a New Urbanism community where I could walk to my office would be a housing unit about twice the price of our current abode. Thus, I watch the For Sale signs going up faster than they are coming down.

I am not arguing for a voluntary reduction in energy consumption based on altruistic motives. I am arguing for reduced energy consumption based on the premise that energy (and food) will get much more expensive, especially relative to declining income.

So, a question. How many of us were able to materially and voluntarily reduce our energy consumption in 2007?

I have :-)
A brompton folding bicycle...faster than walking. And combined with train, allow to say hello to parents instead of using car...which I now use only for exceptional things maybe once a month-->oil consumption reduced to about 10 % of what it was (and 100 miles a month as a mean). Air heat pump for heating instead of natural gas and green electricity, means NG use only for hot water (I could substitute...but not economical now). Just a bit of butane for cooking but I use about 10 kg/year. It won't be a problem for decades I think.

I am on a long downward trend, and 2007 was not one of my best improvements.

In early 2006 I got back natural gas service after an 8 month post-Katrina interruption, so I took more hot baths and showers in 2007 than 2006. And I got my high efficiency heat pump in early 2006.

In 2007, I got my MacMini (31 watts with Airport turned off, 33 with it turned on). I also bought a 19" LED HD TV that uses significantly less electricity (have not measured yet just how much less).

Streetcar service returned 2.5 blocks away, so I use that more.

Biggest change may have been buying and cutting to fit a complete set of Reflectix insulating "bubble wrap" for all my windows. The performance in cold weather (193 kWh for 35 days, 25 days occupied during Dec-Jan) has lead me to set the goal this year of less than 3,000 kWh and 60 gallons of diesel (except evacs) for the year.

I am thinking of building a Passiv Haus (already talked with the German professor about this) in 2009 when prices should have dropped. Tear down a 1930 galvanized metal garage and erect a two story garage apartment. Perhaps 700 sq ft and, with solar PV, a net energy producer.

Best Hopes for Energy Efficiency,


Alan -

You bought a 19" LED HD TV? I thought that the first available LED TV's were going to be 10" - 12" and available only in Japan by 2010. Did you perhaps mean an LCD TV? I think that LED light bulbs are supposed to be available later this year.

Sorry, LCD TV (a cheap one, $200). With phase out of broadcast TV, I decided to change now.

I do use a mix of LED and CFL light bulbs. (ATM LED light plugged into USB port illuminates keyboard and 9 watt CFL brightens up room (reflecting off Reflectix in windows :-)

0.7 watt LED in bathroom (looks like and is as bright as 7.5 watt incandescent) for quick runs. 5 watt CFL turned on for more.

Best Hopes for Energy Efficiency (no SNS here :-(


So what do y'all TOD-ers think, will broadcast analog TV really be discontinued a year from now? And everybody who's not on cable would need to spend $50 or more for a conversion box? If the economy gets really tight over the next year, will TPTB want people to lose access to the official propaganda? Or will people give up eating to pay for that box to bring back the tube?

I don't know, and I care even less.

Haven't had TV for 15 years.

No time for it, anyway.

I think it will happen.

But I think you can get a free box if you don't have cable. Your tax dollars at work...

Not free, but $40 coupon available at https://www.dtv2009.gov/.

In a nod to Leanan, I am not referring to Female Nesting Syndrome, but I suspect that we all know who the real culprits are.

We certainly do: men. Bigger is everything to men. ;-)

Well, to those who use it to compensate for their lack of confidence and self-worth, perhaps. Then again, you gotta fake it until you make it.

My husband was the one resistant to localizing, in the form of moving out of Atlanta. I left him last year (for this and other reasons) and moved on my own to Portland.

Now you've done it. Prepare to be hit on, big-time. ;-)

Honestly, the "women are genetically programmed to shop" is just silly. Studies show that if anything, men are more materialistic than women. In the US anyway, both love to shop. They may shop for different things, but they love shopping equally. Women tend to buy more smaller things, men are more likely to buy a few very expensive things.

Honestly, the "women are genetically programmed to shop" is just silly.


Your observations hit the nail head on.

I find going into shopping malls tedious and my wife takes care of most of our daily purchases. I once believed that she was the one who loved to shop and I was the one who hated it. And true, I would only darken the doors of malls twice a year -just before Christmas and again in late Spring to pick up whatever I needed for a summer and fall wardrobe and a few gardening items.

What I've come to realize is that I define "shopping" as a particular pattern, instead of the totality of commercial consumption. We grocery shop together, a task neither of us likes, but grocery stores are still stores. What you say about bigger purchases is a very astute observation. In terms of household purchases, I do the shopping when it is time to buying a computer, or a car, or even assessories for these. And if the car needs to go to the garage for maintenance or repairs, I go by default. If the car needs a fill up I pump the gas. Where there is an exchange of cash for services/goods, I would be hard pressed to calculate who does more. At the end of the year, I probably spend more money. Literally it's all shopping and consumers are consumers. Male and female are as guilty as the other.

Thanks for your insights about these and other antiquated stereotypes. Keep up the good work.

You're confusing the act of purchasing with the act of shopping. Both men and women like to buy things.

But at the risk of bringing up an inappropriate stereotype, women like the act of shopping, browsing, and walking through the store more than us men do.

When men go shopping, they get in, take care of business, and then get the hell out of there, like they've committed a crime. It's almost like sex that way.

WT, I decided to see how much I could reduce our home energy consumption from a baseline established when we moved into an old, remodeled farmhouse in August 2006. We reduced our electricity usage from 710 kwh in Oct.'06 to 385 kwh in Oct. '07; a new, larger well tank, CFLs everywhere, outside lights on motion detectors, computers off when not in use, power strips to eliminate parasitic loads. I used a Kill-A-Watt energy monitor to demonstrate to my wife and son how much electricity they were wasting, this was an invaluable tool for convincing them to change their wasteful habits.

This year I will be comparing our heating oil consumption with the the winter of '06-'07; we have added insulation, insulated drapes, and an additional programmable thermostat for the upstairs zone. I am also getting away with a 62 degF nighttime setting for the thermostats this year (most nights). Heating oil usage is definitely down, but I can't quantify this yet.

My wife voluntarily took a new job for lower pay in July 2007 that cut the length of her commute by 60%. We always try to use her Accord now instead of my Tundra. I am a service engineer who drives about 30k miles/year and I am saving to buy a much more fuel efficient vehicle for business travel, but I need a high quality vehicle. Even with above average $ resources and a fairly frugal lifestyle it is taking me much longer than I anticipated so come up with the cash to get into a mid-priced, low mileage used car without financing the purchase.

I think we have grabbed most of the low-hanging fruit; the solar contractor is coming tomorrow to give me an estimate for a solar hot water and supplemental radiant space heating system.

Good luck to all who accept the challenge of reducing their personal energy consumption and best wishes for victory in the battle against SNS.

I think we have grabbed most of the low-hanging fruit

This question has vexed me ever since I started paying attention to my home energy consumption and started on a program of energy efficiency improvements. How do you know where you are in in the energy efficiency continuum and when do you stop?

I've calculated my heating BTUs per square foot per degree day and it's currently running between 7 and 8. TOD members Shaun and btu reported values of 3.9 and 2, if I remember correctly. That tells me I have plenty of low hanging fruit left.

Another metric to track is total household energy consumption in BTUs per square foot per year. For 2007 mine was 97,000, down from an average of 113,000 from 2002-2006. I'm in touch with a building contractor who also does energy audits who gave me the following guidelines, which I think are from his own experience:

<20,000 BTU/sf/yr - all done, candidate for zero net energy w/on-site solar
30,000-40,000 - very little low hanging fruit left, i.e. only costly projects remaining
~50,000 - some low-hanging fruit (e.g. lighting, appliance upgrades, air sealing)
>=60,000 - lots of opportunities for improvement

This tells me I've barely gotten started and have plenty of available projects to work on.

My formerly stay at home wife went back to school (to get a med tech certification - hopefully a skill that will still be on the nondiscretionary side of the economy) and we replaced her full sized pickup with a Honda Fit.

Took advantage of Austin's generous rebate program to get a 3KW solar system - pretty long financial payback, but the upfront cost was low enough that we could handle it and it just felt like the right thing to do.

Started paying much more attention to utility costs - and realized how much propane for winter heating, even in Austin, far outstripped higher summer electric costs for A/C. Given our relatively mild winters, we switched to using small electric space heaters only in the room we are occupying, running the furnace only during very cold weather. Relatively small incremental electric cost, way more than offset by reduction in propane usage.

When we built our house 12 years ago, the "energy efficient, clean burning natural gas" fireplace we put in seemed like a great idea. With the cost of propane having more than tripled since then, we use it only minimally because the feeling of seeing $20 bills burning up kind of detracts from that nice cozy feeling of warming ourselves by the fire.

Still have a ways to go - fortunately we built a relatively small house, with passive energy minimization in mind - but wish we had done much more in terms of upfront costs for things like really good windows, etc.

Would like to bike to work, but it's only a few miles and very bike-unfriendly roads to traverse.

We get most of our produce, and as much of other grocery items as we can, from local producers. This is more for the health benefits and quality of food, but has the added effect of reducing our food travel miles.

Our awareness has been growing and our mindset evolving over the past couple of years - now we are constantly looking for more ways to reduce our energy use.

For Austin-centric bicycling info & discussion, sign up for Austin bike list. forum at lists dot bicycleaustin dot info

You may find it is more possible to bike than you think. Classes for :holding the road" etc. available.

I used to live off South Lamar before coming to New Orleans,


I had a very good year for Economising and am now debt free after being 30K Australian in the hole a year ago.

But my energy use didn't drop a lot. I live in an area of Sydney that doesn't need a car so I don't have one. I don't travel far to work so I'm not using a lot of energy there.

I can do more around the house to cut my energy use. My eating choices consume too much energy as well.

The growth in gasoline consumption was "only" 1 percent? That's still growth in consumption, is it not?

Yes, but keep in mind the population is growing. Each day, there are more people, buying more stuff, driving more cars, etc. So constant increases are expected.

Ok, but that won't help the price to fall, whatever is the reason.

That's still growth in consumption, is it not?

Yes, but only in that one data point.

Over the last 6 months (since prices started going up in August), US gasoline consumption is actually down (0.17%) as compared to the same period a year earlier, at least according to the EIA data referenced in their This Week In Petroleum.

Considering the population of the US is still increasing, that's a full 1% drop in per capita gasoline consumption, year-on-year, over a half-year period.

It's likely that some of that was due to this year having a harsher winter, but it's also highly likely that some of that was due to the price spike. Regardless, a 1% decline when a 1% increase (per capita) is the regular trend is pretty significant.

"Over the last 6 months (since prices started going up in August), US gasoline consumption is actually down (0.17%) as compared to the same period a year earlier, at least according to the EIA data referenced in their This Week In Petroleum."

Actually given the weather and the lack of construction, house showings, and slower retail, one could argue that basically nothing has changed. I'm actually a bit surprised that there hasn't been more of a reaction. I guess I'm still of the opinion that its going to take $5 to make any significant dent and thats factoring in a slower economy as the causal factor.

Actually, it's just about exactly the decline you'd expect to see from the increase in price we've seen, no more no less. And if the price were to come down, we'd expect to see demand go up again, which will keep the price high.

The key is that we are seeing little to no increase in efficiency.

I think this is why getting the message out is so important. Once people understand these prices are not a momentary fluke, they can start making real changes. Until they understand we will have this tiny demand destruction.

It's likely that some of that was due to this year having a harsher winter, but it's also highly likely that some of that was due to the price spike. Regardless, a 1% decline when a 1% increase (per capita) is the regular trend is pretty significant.

Actually, it's just about exactly the decline you'd expect to see from the increase in price we've seen

Perhaps. It's almost certain that some of the drop is due to the price increase; I'm just no comfortable completely ignoring other potential factors without more information.

The key is that we are seeing little to no increase in efficiency.

We wouldn't expect to in the overall fleet, not yet. Cars are replaced slowly (under normal circumstances, and the price increase has been slow enough to make this normal circumstances), so changes in energy efficiency of the fleet are going to take much longer to show up than a period of months. The only thing that can be adjusted that quickly is demand, so that's why we're seeing the effect there.

However, I'd expect to see fuel efficiency of the US fleet creep upwards slowly in the next few years. We've already seen evidence that buyers are moving towards greater efficiency - witness the huge slowdown in SUV sales when prices rose in the last few years - so I disagree with you that there's no increase in efficiency. I will agree that it's been small, though, but that's because the cost of driving has seen a small increase - when you take into account time, depreciation, and repairs as well as fuel, gasoline makes up only a small component of driving's cost.

Regarding the idea that there's been "a huge slowdown in SUV sales" over the past few years: http://www.businessweek.com/lifestyle/content/dec2007/bw20071227_325615.htm.

Light trucks were down 2.6%, but overall car sales were down more--3%.

Big, heavy, luxury SUVs were down even less relative to overall car sales--only 0.9%.

There was some good news--people were switching to smaller SUVs. Sales of smaller SUVs were up 22.7%, while mid-size were down 13% and large were down 7.8%.

Hybrid car sales were up by over 100,000 units in 2007 (http://www.hybridcar.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=565&I...), but there are something like 250 million cars on the road in the U.S. alone.

A recent University of California study shows that fuel demand has gotten less elastic in recent years: http://repositories.cdlib.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1062&context=u...

I too would expect the see the fuel efficiency of the US fleet creep upwards slowly, but the point is that it's going to be very slowly. Car sales are falling because of the distress in the economy, and that is going to be inhibiting efficiency gains.

Another problem is that worldwide auto fleets are not necessarily getting more efficient, and we need world efficiency, not just U.S. efficiency. What happened last year was that sales of the worst gas guzzlers got moved to the Gulf countries and Russia.

One more point: When we start seeing the basic demand/price relationship change, then we'll know we're getting more efficient. As long as a 15% price increase produces only a 1% drop in demand, we'll know we're not getting more efficient. And when the economy starts to contract at a slower rate per unit of decline in oil usage, we'll know we're getting more efficient.

We aren't seeing either of those things yet.

There was some good news--people were switching to smaller SUVs. Sales of smaller SUVs were up 22.7%, while mid-size were down 13% and large were down 7.8%.

And that, basically, is what I was talking about. Shifts between "car" and "light truck" categories are less important than shifts between "uses more" and "uses less".

I too would expect the see the fuel efficiency of the US fleet creep upwards slowly, but the point is that it's going to be very slowly.

Agreed, at least given oil price increases at the (relatively modest) rate of the last few years. If supply takes a hit and the price shoots up, I would expect to see passenger-mile efficiency improve more rapidly, due to carpooling and the like.

Another problem is that worldwide auto fleets are not necessarily getting more efficient, and we need world efficiency, not just U.S. efficiency.

True, but the US has the largest scope for savings, simply because it uses so much and so inefficiently at the moment.

Perhaps more importantly, it's something that's more within our (the west's) control - lowering our own oil consumption lets us take better control of our fate, whereas trying to make someone else lower theirs risks resentment, backlash, and heightened dependence on the actions of others.

If the US used oil at the per capita rate the UK does, it would have been an exporter up until 2002. Considering the long-term stability of (declining) US production and of Canada's production and exports, it would be possible for the US to essentially solve its own peak oil problem simply by addressing its demand. Not likely, of course - it'd take gas taxes of at least $5/gal, probably more, and a big transit infrastructure buildout - but that's the scale of change the US can make.

Gas and diesel prices here in Oregon have gone DOWN over the last 3 months, with gas under $3 again in the Portland/Willamete Valley metro areas. Here on the coast, gas has dropped from 3.29 to 3.02. And since it's winter, driving is certainly down, so I would presume consumption is down, ergo the price too.

What happened was, we had those severe inventory drops in December, and the price on oil and gasoline went very high.

The high price attracted a lot of imports.

The imports brought our crude oil inventory back to about the 5-yr average, but gasoline imports brought our inventories to significantly over the normal range for this time of year. (http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/oog/info/twip/twip.asp)

This is a slow time of the year for gasoline consumption, so gasoline prices had to drop enough to reduce the excess imports.

Now people will be out buying SUVs for another month or two, because they think that the problem has been solved.

If you look at a chart of the price of oil, we're in a trading range between roughly $86 and $100. Inventories get low, we bid up the price, and it takes weeks to get the inventory you're bidding for, plus another week to get the information that the inventory has actually arrived. While you're waiting for the inventory and the info on the arrival of that inventory, the bidding continues. Once the price starts to move, it triggers the entry of all kinds of speculators into the market. You get a speculator pile-on.

Then the process reverses. You finally start to get reports that some inventory has arrived, but it takes a couple of weeks for all the inventory to arrive. You wind up getting too much inventory, the price starts to drop to compensate, and all of the speculators depart the market at once, or even start to go short. Now the lower price will attract fewer imports, but you still have all those imports on the way from when the price was high. The inventory continues to build for a couple of weeks, while the price drops further and further, scaring out more and more speculators.

At this point, people like Michael Lynch start saying that we're about to have a major drop in the price, and that they were right all along, there is no problem with oil supply. But if you're watching the markets, what you're starting to see is the commercial traders holding the line. For example, right now they are standing really firm at a little over $86. That's where they start buying and stop selling, so it's easy to see that they don't believe we're going to see a big drop from here. And they are the people who know the most about the inventory before the arrival of the reports.

Consumption drops about 1% for every 15% rise in price. For every 15% drop in price, consumption rises about 1%. And it will continue this way until people get the idea that the problem isn't going to go away, and take serious steps toward greater efficiency.

And in the meantime, out of sight of the markets, the decline rate is at work.

I think that ace should be recognized for being just about spot on with the oil prices over the past several months. He predicted the runup last fall, and that the price would fall back a bit this winter. He's predicting another price shock this next fall:

"Ace's" World Oil Forecasts Oct 2007

I think you make some good points however the HUGE gasoline inventories everyone is talking about is just not the case. Conventional gasoline inventories are (8.4%) below last year according to the EIA data yesterday and almost 50% of said Gasoline inventory is made up of Blending Components +9.6% YOY. Now I'm no expert but I don't think you can blend 50/50 gasoline and blending components and call it a normally functioning gasoline. If someone knows please jump in and clarify.


Scroll down to Petroleum Stocks breakout check out the gasoline breakouts

I heard this largest gasoline inventory in 14 years (think that was a mispeak on CNBC think they meant build) and later another member of the estrogen choir crowing about what huge inventories of gasoline we had. Its just plain bogus... supplies of everthing but blending components are still quite tight. It would appear to me that the EIA is allowing everyone to be mislead by this and it should clarify this misnomer.

I wonder whether the blending components change has to do with how much gasoline is having ethanol added. Production of ethanol is up quite a bit. When there wasn't enough to go around, it was used mostly in the summer. Now, it is being used more throughout the year, so the comparison to a year ago might be different.

If a company makes gasoline with ethanol, they don't add ethanol until the end. What they have until it is combined is "RBOB" and ethanol. It seems like each of these would each be considered blending components.

Democracy in America is in danger whoever wins the election, says Maxwell, who is predicting oil at $6 gallon in 2015 and $12 in 2020.
Oil part 4

He is also saying that after a recession in 2008 and 9, emergence in 2010 will rapidly lead to higher prices and then at least 10-12 years of painful adjustments to post peak.

Here are the links to his other comments for those who missed them:
Oil part 1

Oil part 2

Oil part 3

I will be very much surprised if both major parties are continuing to operate as is after 2015. There may possibly still be two major parties by then, but if there are then one or both of them will be very different parties than they are now. One scenario I think to be particularly possible is for one party to become totally discredited and marginalized (I would nominate the Republicans for this dishonor), and the other party to split in two (which the Democrats seem to be perpetually in danger of doing anyway) -- or, to much the same effect, a new party steals away a large part of the Democratic support. Or we could end up with three or four parties instead of two. Or we could end up with party politics being swept aside by a military coup d'etat, or some such authoritarian regime. No way can one really predict the future with any accuracy, but I would say that BAU is the LEAST likely outcome.

The American "democratic" system of two parties pretending to engage in "battle" to provide false choices to an electorate who thinks they control their government--is nearly perfect. Why would anyone in power want to risk a military coup when they can get what they want in the current system?

The only danger is that some day everyone will wake up and turn the crooks out. There seems little enough likelihood of that so long as most everyone can be maintained in state of stuporous obesity and obsessed with new toys, and so long as those who would have it otherwise are successfully labeled "kooks."

Declining energy availability might force people to become more self-reliant. There is danger there for the ruling class. But not much, I fear.

At least the dems will give the choice of not voting for a rich white man.

Working gas in storage was 2,062 Bcf as of Friday, February 1, 2008, according to EIA estimates. This represents a net decline of 200 Bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 317 Bcf less than last year at this time and 62 Bcf above the 5-year average of 2,000 Bcf. In the East Region, stocks were 32 Bcf above the 5-year average following net withdrawals of 119 Bcf. Stocks in the Producing Region were 54 Bcf above the 5-year average of 616 Bcf after a net withdrawal of 50 Bcf. Stocks in the West Region were 25 Bcf below the 5-year average after a net drawdown of 31 Bcf. At 2,062 Bcf, total working gas is within the 5-year historical range.

Concerning the SA discounts to the US:

what has the price of WTI got to do with the price of SA crude oil?
I realise WTI price is not mentioned, but what is it even benched for
if it is a minority of total global oil produced?

My point is who decides what the price is anyway?

Does the discounting to one country and increase to another make a mockery
of the fungibilty of oil? Surely the price is set my demand.

Where are you Robert?



I think it's a matter of infrastructure. Oil is not perfectly fungible. To transport and use it, you need pipes, tankers, ports, refineries, etc.

That is why crude has been so expensive in Asia recently. If oil were perfectly fungible, it would be no more expensive there than here.

Is SA meddling in our elections again???

State of Denial: Bush at War III, by Bob Woodward
page 287

(Friday, February 20, 2004)

Maybe the speed of this process could be sort of expedited," Bush said, agreeing that the reforms had to be home grown. He thanked Bandar for what the Saudis were doing on oil --- essentially flooding the market and trying to keep the price as low as possible. He expressed appreciation for the policy and the impact it could have during the election year.

Are we seeing lower margins running up to the elections as well?

Does this mean that the majority of oil (OPEC exports) is actually not traded in an open market like WTI or Brent?

Saudi Aramco sells Saudi crude oil at prices based on the prices of selected benchmark crudes, including WTI. I'll try to find you a link.


Saudi Aramco, whose pricing system is followed by most exporters in the Middle East, insists that the buyers of its crudes are refiners and will under no circumstances be resellers. It has a dynamic marketing unit, which applies formula pricing for crude oil sales adjusted monthly to the following benchmarks and markets: (a) the Brent Weighted Average (Bwave-1), which covers the extended trading session as the basis for its crude sales to Europe and gives protection against price distortion; (b) Dubai/Oman for the east of Suez, and (c) spot WTI for the US and the Bahamas. Since 1994, Saudi Aramco has reduced the export of heavy/sour crudes and raised the volume of lighter grades in a move which has affected oil pricing worldwide. In the process, it has maximised the benefits from the spot markets, with monthly price adjustments occasionally matched by a slight increase or decrease in the supply of heavier grades.

The prices of WTI and Bwave-1 are set by futures trading on NYMEX and the IPE. Traders can forecast Saudi Aramco's price adjustments months ahead, by monitoring the parametres which it uses. The prices of the markers can change daily relative to each other, as the prices of refined oil products change in the bulk markets, and so does the price of ocean freight. There is a further complication when WTI and Bwave-1 are used as markers for pricing high sulphur crudes.

Thank you!

Wasn't it just a few weeks ago that SA raised prices to USA and dropped those to Asia? About $4 IIRC.

Yes, they constantly adjust their prices to the US, Asia, and Europe. I doubt it has anything to do with trying to influence US politics. It's about maintaining their market share. They've offered the US a discount for quite awhile now, and I suspect it's because of our refinery issues. There's less demand for oil here, so they have to lower the price. They could sell it for more in Asia, but they'd have to figure out how to get it there. Tankers, ports, and refineries have finite capacities; there's a limit to how much oil they can switch from the US to Asia.

relevant terms from the various South African articles:

Differentiated tariff structures
Load Shedding
reduce,reuse, recycle

From Europe:
Nimby to power lines
"planned" 520 Megawatt buildout by 2030

Looks like Europe will be going in the direction of South Africa pretty quick

Home prices set to slide in '08

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- In a fresh sign that the nation's housing crisis will worsen, home prices are likely to decline in 2008 for the second straight year, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday.

The Realtors, in its monthly economic and sales outlook, is forecasting a 1.2% drop in prices of existing homes sold this year.

Only a month ago, the association was forecasting that prices would be flat in 2008 and that the home market would rebound in the last half of the year.

Wal-Mart's distress signal

Wal-Mart partly blamed its soft sales on poor gift card redemptions, but one retail analyst wasn't buying that explanation.

"Wal-Mart's not a top destination for gift card redemptions," said Ken Perkins, president of sales tracking firm Retail Metrics. "I think its results show that its core low-income shoppers and now the middle-class households who shop there are scaling back."

If NAR is foecasting a 1.2% drop I think it's a safe bet to increase it by at least an order of magnitude. NAR is the CERA of real estate. Every forecast and anouncement since 2005 has been at best wishful thinking and at worst outright lies. On the plus side, as long as one waits until NAR starts announcing the bottom is nowhere in sight, then we'll know it's time to begin propescting for bargains out in those streets.

Signs that the low income and middle class are starting to scale back.

The profits, and some of the control mechanisms, of various PTB require increasing productivity and consumption of the working poor and middle class, upon the backs of whom their kingdoms and empires are built.

Facing losses on bad loans, banks boost credit card rates

By raising rates and fees — but not boosting them so high that they push borrowers into default — lenders are seeking a "delicate financial balance," says Robert Manning, a finance professor at Rochester Institute of Technology. "They can't squeeze too hard that they're going to kill their client. But they have to squeeze more revenue out of their current portfolios."

Even as the Federal Reserve has aggressively slashed short-term interest rates, banks are raising rates on some credit cards. They're also boosting late fees, lifting caps on balance-transfer fees and raising ATM fees for other banks' customers.

Bank CEO, with both hands around neck of goose, shaking vigorously:


Exactly - you get in trouble, so they RAISE your rates??

The logical thing to do would be to send you a letter saying in essence: "You're in trouble, so we're going to freeze your spending on this card, but we're also going to decrease the interest to 5%, and by keeping your minimum payment the same, ensure that you can pay down your principal. Thank you for using our service, and if you'll visit our web page, you can learn many ways to economize, make the most of purchases etc..."

The norm in business is actually cooperation, not competition. But the norm for the CC co's seems to be predation.

But if you charge exorbitant late fees and jack up the interest rates you can add even more "assets" to your balance sheet! You can make billions! *wink wink nudge nudge, pretend it'll get paid back *

The Maxed Out documentary covers some of the abhorrent business practices some of the CC companies use to extract as much cash as possible from those least able to afford it. I highly recommend it if you get the chance.

5% is low for a CC, so if they are seen doing the "logical thing",then lots of people will spend like drunken sailors to position themselves for the nice discounted rate, just as they previously mortgaged themselves to the hilt to enjoy the free ride in housing while it lasted. Moral hazard is an infinitely renewable resource, there's more than enough to go around. And around. And around...

You didn't catch the "freeze spending" part did you?

I have recently paid my credit card balances and started carrying cash. Its not that hard to use, once you get used to it. There are still a few things I need the CC for, like parking meters oddly enough, but not many!

I have also started using cash as much as possible. It's saved me quite a bit in bank fees and it's not as hard as I thought it would be to resist spending the money just because it's there.

I still have a ways to go to fully pay off my credit card, but I've made very good progress on this over the last few months. My CC company recently increased both the interest rate and increased my credit limit by about $4000 over the last 3 months, which works out to about 25% more credit. I think they're hoping I'll run it up to the limit so they can keep milking me for interest payments.

Too bad for them I cut the card in half a while back after watching Maxed Out. I would have canceled it completely, but it would make it hard to keep my domain/hosting up and running for my personal networking.

It also helps that in Canada, debit cards seem to be much more popular than in the US. This makes it easier to go cashless. Even some vendors I've seen at farmer's markets and swap meets have wireless Interac machines.

Must have been all that buying from JC Penny's my wife has been doing online.

I stole this comment from another blog but it puts into words what I have been thinking for some time;

"I agree that it was greed that drove this debacle. However, it is the debasement of the dollar, the relentless loss of purchasing power that drove families to work harder and harder to maintain what is admittedly a fairly high standard of living that is the true culprit. One has to go back decades and follow this trend to understand it. When there is no true store of value for our efforts, one is forced into the bankers game of roulet whereby we must gamble which asset class will maintain our ability to provide for our future needs which we are trying to save for.
We are about to witness the realization that this monetary system was set up specifically to disassemble this safety net (store of value) for the ultimate benefit of the moneychangers and politicians. I'm not sure what happens when "we the people" figure out the scam that has been perpetrated on them by generations of elected officials. It's going to be very bad."

A report out this week indicates that wind power is a far better resource for the UK than I had previously imagined:

This is a report commissioned by the Government and indicates that in the UK at least wind tracks demand very well indeed, being highest daytimes, and around two and a half times more powerful in midwinter than midsummer.
That throws a totally different light on costs, as it means less back-up and more availability.

It would also make wind power and nuclear power far more compatible, as it would take much more of the peak and far less of the base load requirements than I had thought.
They also give good estimates on how much more back-up would be required, and of grid connection costs.

In the northern parts of the US at least similar wind distribution patterns appear likely, and also grid connection costs.
You also have far more possibilities than in the UK to put your turbines on land, and better wind resources generally so the economics look far better than I had thought.

I wonder if the spinning reserve could be reduced by the use of batteries:

Since the reliability of wind is good, then maybe we could stand down some reducing fossil fuel burn and emissions.

Anyone know if it takes minutes or hours to fire up a coal or gas plant, which would obviously affect the practicality of using batteries?

Perhaps some of the needed gas could be biogas, which seems to use land much more efficiently than ethanol:

Read down here for more on Biogas, which Germany says could replace all EU imports by 2020:

JoSmiths comments there are particularly informative.

My compliments on your open mind !

Combined cycle NG (jet engine like generator feeds hot exhaust into steam boiler) can start turbine within a couple of minutes. Rule of thumb is that enough fuel to operate the steam boiler at 100% for 30 minutes is wasted heating it up each time.

UK has PLENTY of NG plants due to your "Rush to Gas". Few if any new ones needed.

So, combined cycle NG plant operates at 2/3rds efficiency and 2/3rd nameplate for a half hour (burns 50% too much fuel /kWh) and then settles into energy efficient generation at full nameplate (reality is more complex, but this will do).

Intelligent use of pumped storage can keep the NG plants at peak efficiency "most of the time". Run them at half load and keep them hot MIGHT be best. (Spinning reserve for nukes require a lot of hot plants for spinning reserve. Cold NG reserve is adequate for diversified wind).

Summer UK minimum load (3 AM) is (per you) 20 GW, maximum winter load (cold front @ 6 PM) is 75 GW.

Today UK has 1 GW of pumped storage and minimal links off island. This effectively limits max UK nuke to about 21 to 22 GW (some nukes refuel every summer, etc. but nukes require hot spinning reserve). France still burns coal & NG for a good reason, and their grid ties are an order of magnitude better than UK grid ties (France has large transmission to Low countries, Germany, Switzerland, Italy & Spain).

Now add 5 more GW of pumped storage and links to shift to EU, Ireland and Iceland. This makes 28 and even 35 GW of nuke possible. And 50+ GW (nameplate) of wind.

And with HV DC links, Irish wind & Icelandic wind, hydro & geothermal can be added to the UK diversity. Add some links to places that use air conditioning (Spain, France) and some hydro (Norway, Switzerland) and UK can run more nuke in the summer.

Best Hopes,


Ideally, the UK needs more than 5 GW of new pumped hydro storage, but a 5 GW would support a large wind energy % while "enough" nuke is built.

Thanks for the info on spinning reserves.

I still think that batteries might play a big part in backing up the system, as much for conditioning power as reserves.
The highly intermittent nature of wind over periods of minutes or seconds mean that it is handy to be able to back-up some power fairly near it's point of generation, and that is very distributed for wind power.

I'm basically a numbers kind of a guy, and until I see convincing figures from the real world tend to distrust all projections - you can project pretty well anything, given the right assumptions,

There are also an awful lot of scams out there, and suckers falling for them, particularly if it is the fashionable way to go.

If I were German I would still purely hate their wind power projects though -they have a truly poor wind resource in most areas.

Their solar resource is even worse, and has the opposite of the load following characteristics I have mentioned - it's pretty much of an inverse mirror to seasonal demand.

What is annoying about that is that Germany has very good geothermal resources given a little development of present technology, and I would have thought that money spent developing that would be a far better spend.

However they have done wonders in advancing the frontiers of conservation, so I suppose one should not expect too much wisdom of any group of people.

In the States you have a very good wind resource, and in my view in the Southern areas at least you should shortly have economic solar power, so that I think the most gloomy of the predictions here are mistaken, as if you are not using it to generate electricity or provide heating and cooling you can free a lot of fossil fuel resources for transport.

There could well be a gap between running low on fossil fuels and the new technology coming in, which means it is even more of a pity that in the States just as in the UK conservation efforts are frankly pathetic.

I am sure that there is more rejoicing in the house of Alan over one sinner, and so forth!

The highly intermittent nature of wind over periods of minutes or seconds

A matrix of wind turbines, even if concentrated geographically, even out any "second by second" variation. Statistical noise that cancels.

First wind variations vary by wind turbine and any widespread change has to propagate across a wide area.

Second, WTs have a large rotating mass with LOTS of inertia.

BTW, each WT pulses down a bit every time a blade passes the tower (3x /revolution) and the wind is affected by the tower behind. But these all balance out in a wind farm and the inertia keeps it going.

Load varies QUITE a bit as well. Second by second, minute by minute. Air conditioning load in New Orleans as summer thunderstorm comes through, block by block at 15 or 25 mph "has an effect".

Best Hopes for Open Minds,


PS: The Swiss are looking into hot rock geothermal.

The couple of minutes you give for the spin-up time means that you could take them off line and realistically use battery back-up - I would imagine that pumped storage would have difficulty over that sort of time span, although I don't know for sure.

Pumped water storage could take care of storage for longer time intervals, so hopefully you would rarely have to fire up the gas reserve.

In that respect the proposals to build polders on the Severn Estuary, which has one of the highest tidal flows in the world should help.

The pilot project:
Tidal lagoons

The full-scale project:

In addition to the potential to adapt them to operate as a reserve, they would generate around 2.75GW of very cheap power.

I far prefer them to the more environmentally objectionable dam.

This is a YPIMBY - yes, please in my back yard!

I am not sure how good the wind resource is in the place they are looking to put them, but it seems possible that they could be combined with wind turbines in this arrangement, reducing construction costs.

If this is not worthwhile it is in any case only around 50 miles from a planned huge off-shore wind farm.

Unfortunately in the Swiss geothermal project they chose an earthquake zone, not the cleverest move:
'The Swiss Deep Heat Mining Project, located near Basel and which involves injecting water under pressure in quantity into three mile deep boreholes, where the rock temperature can reach 200 degrees C, has been shown to trigger earthquakes as far as 10 miles away. The project is currently suspended.'

Swiss Geothermal Energy Project Causes earthquakes. - Scitizen

Geothermal projects elsewhere are going ahead _Australia looks particularly hopeful, and has immense resources:
Scientists get hot rocks off over green nuclear power - Environment - smh.com.au

Low temperature Geothermal is also looking good, here is it's use in Alaska:
Geothermal Power in Alaska Offers New Renewable Energy Model - Chena Hot Springs Resort - Popular Mechanics


what works, works

Please comment on how valid is the concept of Peak Growth.
Is it fair to conclude Peak Growth was May 2005?

  • Economic Growth depends on consistent increases in energy and/or efficiency
  • Cheap conventional crude oil is the lifeblood of our economy
  • Conventional Crude is no longer consistently growing
  • Unconventional Crude is of uncertain ecological, water and energy components. Until otherwise proven, it should not be considered as a reliable economic foundation.
  • Efficiencies remain unchanged

Hi Bill,

I don't think it is a valid statement. From a world point of view, coal and NG have not yet peaked (thus rampant growth in China). And trying to defend May 2005 as peak growth is going to get you showered in counter examples.

On the other hand, from a US point of view, I think you can show that North American NG peaked in 2003 with Canada peaking. Oil consumption still increased however. Once oil peaks, that will be two major sources of energy that have stopped growing.

I also think that showing the 1970's reduction in growth that happened after the US oil peak would make a good support for the idea that growth will at the very least slow after peak.

I think it is safe to claim that growth will decline without efficiency improvements. And that efficiency improvements are costly to implement, and so have a smaller impact that anticipated. (for instance, off the top of my head, trains are supposed to be 8 times more efficient than trucks, so you expect 8x. But that does not work out to be true because you still need to get from train to destination, and our warehouses are not on tracks any longer. So it is some amount less.)

As Matt Simmons does, would it not be better to state a position and ask it be challenged?

ASPO recently issued a $110k bet to CERA on the validity of their forecasts.

The problem is that it is not enough to know the problem, we have to solve it. People want an event to trigger action. Since Peak Oil can only be seen in hindsight, and re-tooling period is decades, how do we set action in motion?

Creating a trigger for action is what I am seeking. If anyone has ideas on that, please post them or email me.

trains are supposed to be 8 times more efficient than trucks, so you expect 8x. But that does not work out to be true because you still need to get from train to destination, and our warehouses are not on tracks any longer. So it is some amount less.

Multiple by 2.5 to 3 to 1 for electrification (BTU end use, diesel vs. electricity).

Subtract 5% to 7% because of greater circuity (more miles from A to B for rail).

In the early years, much freight will be intermodal (last 5 or 82 miles by truck from intermodal xfer point) but more freight spurs (just run them down a busy street as in New Orleans area) and relocated warehouses, grocery stores, end users to rail spurs will change the equation and reduce intermodal transfers.

Also run trolley freight on Urban Rail "off peak". One 40' container/car.

Transferring over 90% of current heavy truck inter-city ton-miles to electrified rail seems quite doable. Roughly 20 BTUs of diesel for 1 BTU of electricity :-)

Best Hopes for Electrified Rail,


On the other hand, it is quite possible, even probable, that NET energy production per capita was surpassed a couple of decades ago. This would be a more important metric, IMO, than gross energy production.

Is it fair to conclude Peak Growth was May 2005?

Wrong graph, it would need to be a graph of global GDP to be sure.

However, we do know that world BAU growth historically has required between 1.5% and 2% more oil each year - so, we are unlikely to have had world BAU real growth for 3 years now!

You can't tell for sure that total energy has declined from a graph that only shows oil - you need to show all primary energy use.

Economic Growth depends on consistent increases in energy and/or efficiency

Even if the world overall isn't growing, some countries will still be growing as they have excess energy to trade for the things they need.

Economic growth depends on the availabilty of improved efficiency, excess energy waiting to be consumed and a money supply able to grow - our debt based world banking system requires economic growth to function properly, once growth stops expect the banking sytem to fail. There will only be an excess of oil available if it is profitable for the oil companies or if oil trade is politically allowed.

Cheap conventional crude oil is the lifeblood of our economy

Or cheap sythetic oils, since at present the only viable alternates are synthetic oils - unfortunately since it is ~85% of 'all liquids' the price of crude determines the price of the synthetics, so if crude ceases to be cheap so do the synthetics!

The current 'all liquids data' shows the fallacy of the economists argument - over the last twenty years or so we have seen more and more 'other liquid' alternates, as they predict, however because of their recent price (so a profit can be made, and then often only with subsidy) there isn't sufficient demand to give the required overall ~2% a year increase for BAU economic growth that the IEA says we need.

Efficiencies remain unchanged

If you are a country that imports most of your oil the availabilty of 'net exports' are by far the most important figure.

From the EIA statistics in 2006 several of the most vunerable countries such as Germany, Italy, France and Japan have peaked in their petroleum use several years ago (1996 in the case of Germany, 1995 in the case of Italy) and seem to be steadily reducing consumption - but not nearly fast enough!

There are certainly thermodynamic limits to efficiency - inertia of the SUV buying population doesn't help with the rate of improvement required.

Any retooling will require huge investment (ie:debt) which would require a fully functioning banking system, while all the time having to run existing infrastructure on less and less energy each year post peak(s). Nobody knows how to do this, which is why the politicians are keeping their heads down.

OK, so where in the Netherlands is this?

Or is it Belgium?

Denmark ?

Although the irony if this is the world HQ for Royal Dutch Shell in Amsterdam :-)

The Dutch allowed Shell to build only one car parking spot per 4 employees :-)

Best Hopes for 1,000 km bicycling per capita per annum,


RDS is in Rijswijk, not Hamsterjam.

And it is served by superb rail and bus links.

You know you have landed on a civilised planet when the rail stations have a multitude of bike spaces next to the walk-way to the trains.

No hills help though.

mmmm...perhaps Amsterdam for this summer holiday after 12 years absense.

Haarlem, if I roughly understand the caption. A common sort of scene near big rail stations. The Netherlands was made for bikes - nearly all of it unbelievably flat, summers and winters mild, tornadic thunderstorms almost unknown; though it must get interesting when the occasional large cylonic storm rolls in off the North Sea. The cities are very densely settled, lots of multistory apartments. Some single houses are the size of a US motorhome or RV. The closest thing in the US might be Hoboken, NJ, or the tiny historic downtown in Columbus, OH.

I was gonna go with a GM plant somewhere.

Hello Eric Blair,

My first thought upon seeing this photo: the US ELM-driven postPeak crunch has hit, the strategic reserves of bicycles are now employed across the US, and the incredible numbers of unemployed people queued inside this building are being processed according to skills and debt levels.

If you have no usable postpeak skills and high debts: economic draft into the war machine for ruthless home-control enforcement or bloody resource pillaging overseas.

Some skills, but no debts: issued a blacksmithing forge, or a foot pedal sewing machine, or some bicycle repair equipment, or a wheelbarrow and garden tools, or a carpentry toolset, etc, etc,--whichever best matches your skillset and local needs.

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

Per the link on the Auto SHow:

YOu have to appreciate the irony:

On Easter island, they carved the ultimate stonehead.

In America, we built the ultimate SUV.

Both cultures thrusting their finger of technology at the gods


I wonder if this will be Kunstler's eyesore of the month.

Now I know we're at 'peak stupidity', if not peak oil!

In America, we built the ultimate SUV.

Stranger than fiction....


Romney, at the CPAC convention, just withdrew from the GOP race, citing the war in Iraq as the primary reason. He wants the GOP to unite behind McCain, in order to fight the plans by Obama or Clinton to "surrender" in Iraq and go home. It will be interesting if Obama is the Democratic nominee. It will be a stark choice between a planned staged withdrawal from Iraq and a new "100 Years War."

I don't think so. I predict by November, nobody will care about anything except the economy.

I predict that by November the worst will be over and the topic will be waning a focal point. Bet a dollar?

I'm not the betting type. However, I am not saying that this is necessarily "The Big One." Even if it's a just normal recession, the voters won't be feeling the recovery yet by November.

Remember Bush Sr., and his attempts to tell the voters that the recession was over?

Well, he was right. Technically, the recession was over. But there were no jobs yet, so nobody believed him. He came across as clueless and uncaring.

So even if you're right, and the worst is over...people won't know the worst is over. They'll be voting on pocketbook issues.

Al-Qaeda says the Iraq war was a mistake and wants the US to overturn the Patriot Act; to stop wire tapping their phone calls; and America to withdraw entirely its presense from the Mid-East. That pretty much is Obama's platform.

Perhaps Barack Obama and Greg Newbold are both Al-Qaeda agents?

In any case, I am proposing a Neocon Brigade--consisting of middle aged armchair warriors who are willing to go to Iraq and fight.

Why Iraq Was a Mistake
Sunday, Apr. 09, 2006
Retired director of operations at the Pentagon's military joint staff.

My sincere view is that the commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions--or bury the results.

The Iraq war was a mistake. The US should overturn the "Patriot Act", etc.

Obama is right.

Of course, in this benighted country, that makes him unelectable.

I think Obama will be elected. Of course, I have never voted for the winning President.

Also, I think the Iraq war could be a big issue before November if a "Tet Offensive" happens. I think it is possible that many of the millions of refugees come back armed and looking for revenge with any oil-exporting country supplying the arms. Can you imagine what the price of oil would go to?

I've never even been to America, but I've read, with interest, your discussions on the candidates. I must say that, from my point of view, Obama is the one who hasn't explicitly approved of genocide, and that's why I really hope he wins.

I understand the arguments of Leanan et al. regarding Clinton, but I couldn't possibly be happy about a genocidal maniac like her becoming president. Fair enough, perhaps Clinton understands PO better that Obama, but what her husband did to the Iraqi nation is something that simply cannot be forgiven, ever.

And why would you think that somebody who has, until now, taken genocide so lightly, wouldn't be prepared to go on and destroy most of us, just to secure some sort of "wealth" in the US? If Clinton has no moral problem with killing millions of Iraqis, why would anybody assume she might not be the one to start a nuclear war and f*** up the whole planet?

Is there really no chance of having a US president who is not a murderous devil?

I understand the arguments of Leanan et al. regarding Clinton, but I couldn't possibly be happy about a genocidal maniac like her becoming president.

Genocidal maniac! Talk about gross hyperbole! Jussi, there may be a few people in the states that have a similar opinion of Ms. Clinton but thank goodness few people pay any attention to them. Most are on medication to control their imagined crimes of others, thank goodness.

Ron Patterson


If the economic sanctions that were imposed on Iraq in the 90s were not genocidal, I really do find it hard to understand what may be such. If Ms Clinton had not approved of this outrage, she should have said something about it by now. You can be condescending all you like, but I seriously think that she was certainly in a position to alleviate the suffering there; she just didn't choose to do so. Therefore, in my mind, she will always be somebody who didn't give a f*** while hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis, mostly children, elderly and the infirm, were suffering and dying.

The results of those economic sanctions were such that I'm not surprised most American people have not heard about it. You just couldn't take it.

The UN imposed those sanctions, not Hillary Clinton. Tell us, are you from a nation not represented in the UN?

DUDE--The Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, said the murder of 500,000 Iraqi childern in pursuit of a policy they KNEW (proof any WMD programs/capability was destroyed after the 1st Gulf War was given in 1995 by Hussein's brother-in-law) was 100% unnecessary was WORTH IT. The so-called "No Fly Zones" were never sanctioned by the UN and therefore constituted an act of aggression against Iraq. Iraqis have had violence visted upon them by the US Government since the enlistment of Hussein in the war agaist Revolutionary Iran that started in 1980. Going on 28 CONTINUOUS YEARS of USG aggression against Iraqis. Yeah, truth is lots of war criminals inhabit the USG. All Bush/Cheney did was expand an already in-motion Holocaust initiated by Clinton/Gore.

Wow, it's my platform too.

Come on, folks. I hate to ban political discussion, being a political junkie myself, but posts like this don't add anything to the discussion. If it keeps up, I'm going to ask you all to take it to Free Republic/DailyKos.

"Al-Qaeda says the Iraq war was a mistake..."

I don't think so. Al-Queda has got the tar-baby exactly where it wants it.

Interesting that Obama and Pat Buchanan have so much in common, though I don't think that you'll ever see Buchanan playing up to the Zionist lobby regarding Iran, as has Obama, and for that matter, Hillary.

Do you have a source for this link?

In warfare, the Koran requires an enemy to be warned by the faithful combatants before any action is taken.

It can be vague, nebulus,poetic or tangential, but a warning to change your ways must always be given.

Such utterances, from a good source, should not be discounted.

Read a good translation of the Koran and Hadith. It is not often the enemy subsidises the publication of its own operations manual.

Read a good translation of the Koran and Hadith

IMO if the average 'infidel in the street', in the UK at least, knew what it says in the Koran they would would insist that the Muslim 'true believers' are removed to a Muslim country.

Were it a set text, unvarnished, then opinions would shift from placidity to outrage.

But no chance: Shakespeare's Sonnets are now beyond most school kid's ken. (Forget the plays).

We arrived here step by plodding step, and have many steps yet to take.

Today, the Primate of the Church of England: apt choice of description, (though most apes of my acquaintance would feel insulted) advocates Sharia Law in the UK 'For the sake of cultural cohesion'....

Peak oil coupled with people's religious texts, beliefs and Faiths do not give me a good feeling about the future - to transition to a sustainable world we will need the utmost cooperation, not confrontation and antagonism! ... sigh!

Living as I do near the "Buckle of the Bible Belt", there's another possibility to consider. Huckabee may pick up lots of those Evangelical voters that might have gone to Romney. Huckabee did win lots of votes in the Solid South. Remember that it was those Evangelical voters who put Bush in office and Evangelicals make up about half the population. From his statements and background, Huckabee is a Young Earth Creationist, as are many Evangelical Fundamentalist who take the Bible as literal truth. If Huckabee is nominated or gets to be the Veep candidate, things could get real interesting.

Actually, it might be a good thing for Huckabee to get the nomination, as we could see a real discussion of Evolution and geoscience, sort of like the Scopes Trial all over again. But then, if Huckabee is actually elected, I think lots of science oriented folks might just give up and start heading for the exits. Think about what happened in Germany before WW II. What signal would there have been to convince those folks to get out of town before TSHTF?

E. Swanson

Now, calling creationists 'deniers' or just about anything else is fine with me! ;-0

Hope Huckabee doesn't believe in abiotic oil too.

Think about what happened in Germany before WW II. What signal would there have been to convince those folks to get out of town before TSHTF?

Kristallnacht perhaps? That should have been a really clear signal.

Actually, the Nuremburg Laws of 1935 should have been as clear a signal as anyone could have asked for.

Falsifying our projections for the effects of Peak Oil:

One of today's headlines had that potential:
'MUMBAI (Thomson Financial) - The government of India said it has found a gas hydrates reservoir amounting to an estimated 2,000 trln cubic metres of reserves in the KG Area, off India's east coast.'


this one gas hydrate reservoir has gas reserves which dwarf annual global use:

There are a lot of them, too.

It is getting it out that is difficult, but Japan is shortly going ahead with an attempt at exploitation.

In it's liquid form it could easily substitute for all oil use.

Of course, it might not help Global Warming concerns.

It looks like the technology is still uncertain, so I think "falsifying" is too strong a word. Much like fusion does not "falsify" the claims of peak oil and natural gas.


There are hundreds of thousands of commercial natural gas wells in the US. Clearly some work will need to be done before that effort has any hope of getting matched. And we will still need to evaluate if it can be done in an energy positive manner. Usually non-economic means low EROI.

Yep, it is uncertain, and perhaps even unlikely - that is why I said 'potential'

Just the same, to me it proves that you mostly can't hardy ever tell!

Life holds lots of unexpected twists.

Personally I think the most likely potentially disruptive technology is high altitude wind power - there is plenty of it in almost all locations, and it seems unlikely to me that we won't be able to figure out a way to get at it.

I never count on undeveloped technology, but that is in fact my 'best guess'

I think that gas which escaped into the atmosphere from gas hydrates would be at least 10 times worse as a greenhouse gas than CO2 (on a per unit basis) - is that right?

I think most paleoclimatologists believe the PEMT (Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum; ~55 million years ago) was cased by a release of methane clathrates (a.k.a. hydrates) from the ocean. A period of intense warming caused the oceal floor to warm, melting the frozen methane, and releasing it into the atmosphere. The methane, being a much more powerful GHG than CO2, caused the warming to kick into overdrive (the methane, CH4, eventually decays into CO2 & H2O, so it keeps warming even after its gone).

The PEMT was one of the biggest extinction events ever. What was unusual about it was that the extinctions appear to have started with marine life, and only later spread to land-based species.

IMO, releasing a major amount of the frozen methane clathrates scattered around the world's oceans into the atmosphere is an event that has the potential to end the human race. Granted, it is unlikely that using it for energy is going to release enough to wipe us out. However, the potential for extinction is there, and it certainly isn't going to help our current warming problem.

But it is a source of (relatively) cheap energy!!!

I never said that it would disrupt our projections in a good way!

If it does at all, that is.

If they are going into the air anyway, then it is 10X better that they be captured and burned first. But otherwise, better to leave them be.

Oh no...

there is so much that can go wrong with drilling and mining gas hydrates. Long term it can be bad news.

But who would park a semi-submersible rig above a phenomena that, if it goes wrong, would dramatically reduce the bouyancy of the sea water in which the Semi-sub is suspended?

Shallow gas (and this is what it is) has sunk semis with all hands in conventional drilling programes.

People who are desperate for energy, as most of us feel that the world will be in a few years.

As someone who worked on BOP hydraulics maintenance as a deep sea diver on offshore rigs many moons ago I can tell you that it probably would not be a good thing for a big bubble of gas to form underneath your floating rig.

I was thinking about the difficulty of mining the ocean floor for hydrates.

The point is, if you are Russian or Canadian, why bother?

There are plenty in the tundra.

The usual objection to the practicality of extracting them is that you would have to shift too much soil, or pump in too much heat to make it worthwhile, and with readily accessible supplies of conventional NG, why bother anyway?

But in a world of shortage things change, and since we are told that a rise of only a few degrees may release vast quantities of methane, why not anticipate this and see if we can artificially raise the temperature by a few degrees over a relatively extensive area to make up for the low release rate per meter?

The obvious low-cost way to do this is using the sun.

Even black soot would lead to greater release in the summer, and any sort of greenhouse would accentuate it.

In practise you might use a porous membrane at the base, but with solid tops to tubes to carry away the methane, and some sort of structure above to trap the relatively warmer air.
Total area might be a few kilometers, with the structure moving after the area was exhausted.

All speculation, and possibly nonsense, but anyway here are some initial musings:

Pot-shots welcome!

And no, I don't disregard the affects on Global warming, but in practise getting at the stored methane might perhaps not be that difficult.

Have you not heard? ... we need to reduce CO2 emissions by 30% by 2020 and 90% by 2050 ... we don't need it!

I don't always deal with what I think should happen, but what seems likely regardless of my opinion.

Certainly if the shortages for NG projected on this forum are accurate, and it seems to me that they are, then the pressure will be immense to bring hydrates on stream.

Canada may or may not resist them - they haven't been noticeably backward in bringing on stream tar sands, regardless of carbon consequences, but in my view Russia certainly will not resist if they can figure out a way to bring them on stream.

Since releasing the methane just requires a rise of around 5 degrees, we are told by those who fear their release exacerbating GW, then release at least seems to be trivially easy using some such means as I suggest.

Harvesting it will be much more tricky, and doing so successfully may depend on how much there is in a square meter.

It makes no difference mentioning the possibility, in this particular case I don't think 'naming calls'. as if Russia runs short of NG both for it's own use and for export they have a lot of seriously bright engineers who will figure it out in about 5 minutes, although as I said capture will be tricky.

The fact that there were plenty of NG supplies and no-one needed to is likely the chief reason it hasn't already been done, although collection could be more difficult than I anticipate.

In it's liquid form it could easily substitute for all oil use.

Hydrates are ice and methane, regurlar methane gas trapped in ice. Other than the ice, they are 100% methane. There is no liquid form, other than at the cryogenic level, for methane.

But there is no known way to harvest methane hydrates. They are scattered underneath the sea floor at various depths and at various distances apart. You could find some way to plow up the entire sea floor, build a huge undersea umbrella to catch the hydrates, or catch the gas as it escapes. That scheme has been examined and declared unworkable.

But the dream goes on. The hydrates are there! But there are also seas of liquid methane on Jupiter. One hell of a lot of good that does us. Ditto for the buried beneath the sea hydrates.

But then there is the Canadian, Alaskan and Siberian hydrates buried beneath the tundra. We could plow up the tundra and gather a few thousand feet of methane for every acre of plowed up tundra. If you could figure out a way to do that it would still likely cost more energy in the plowing than you would get from the hydrates. Not to mention the fact that you would destroy the habitat for all arctic land dwelling animals.

But hell, destroying habitat has never stopped anyone before...

Ron Patterson

Sorry, sloppy writing.
I meant of course that once the methane had been extracted it could be liquidised in the same way as NG

If you can't extract it, the Japanese don't seem to know that:
International Activities - Japan

I remember back in the 70's a lot of folk were arguing that you could never get the oil out of tar sands.
Maybe we shouldn't be, but we sure are.
The situation we are positing of oil peak and rising prices for energy resources will give every incentive for them to do it - and the Japanese with almost no resources of their own will have maximum incentive and formidable technology to do so.

It reminds me of what Henry Ford said:
'Some folks say they can, and some folks say they can't, and they are usually both right!'

I meant of course that once the methane had been extracted it could be liquidised in the same way as NG.

You are still writing sloppy. Methane is not liquidized other than deep cooled for shipping. Every gas has a temperature point where it becomes liquid. For methane that temperature is -162 C. That is cold. Methane is never used as a liquid. It is cooled until it becomes a liquid for shipping then it is re-gasified for use.

The article you referred to states:

The program demonstrated for the first time that gas production from gas hydrates is technically feasible.

Well hell, we knew that all along. The ice chunks themselves can be set on fire. Technically feasible is not the question. Practically feasible is the question. Or perhaps economically feasible would be more to the point. You noticed they gave no details as to how these hydrates would be harvested. That is the problem. There is no practical way or economical way to harvest hydrates. The energy to pull a super giant plow through the ocean bottom would use far more energy than it would capture. And that is not to mention how you would capture the hydrates you dig up. Nevertheless I applaud their efforts to find an economical way to harvest hydrates. I am not optimistic as to how successful they will be however. And if they do find an economical way to harvest hydrates, the ecological consequences would likely be an absolute disaster. How could it possibly be otherwise?

Of course you can hit one or two hydrates with every drill core. But each chunk of ice yields only a few cubic feet of gas. You must capture them in mass to make them economical. There is no known way to do that.

Ron Patterson

Darwinian wrote:
'You are still writing sloppy'
Perhaps you mean 'sloppily' Mr Pot?

Dave, I was not referring to the writers grammer but to his subject matter. He was obviously joking and so was I. He apparently believed that methane could be liquified for use.

But thanks for the grammatical correction. However these errors are usually ignored by all except the most fastuous of the group. Most of us would rather concentrate on the subject matter. But then there are always a few such as yourself......

Ron Patterson

You seem to find it difficult to recognise when others are joking.

Humour bypass operation? :-)

Don't you mean 'fastidious'?

Correct grammar = precision in thought.

Meanwhile everything is fine over at Airbus.

Airbus predicts air travel boom

European plane maker Airbus expects global passenger traffic to grow at an average of 4.9% a year, almost trebling over the next two decades.

And as we all scramble to be trolly dollys

"Air transportation is definitely a growing industry contributing to economic development and generating wealth around the world," said Airbus chief operating officer John Leahy.


Do these people actually believe this garbage?

Every indication is that they do. However, Airbus and Boeing seem to be giant tax sucks -- I don't think we are talking "free market" here. Maybe it's just about a few people getting rich.

Another possibility is that this is sort of the Easter Island ploy -- keep the natives busy building useless things so they don't notice they are going hungry.

Gotta keep up that share price.

I noticed today on CNBC that the airlines' stocks are up, while most everything else is down. And it makes me wonder, if we're ramping up to a war with Iran, won't the airlines be getting a lot of charter business? You just haven't lived until you've flown on a commercial airliner, stewardesses and all, with all of you carrying M16s, sidearms, a few M60 machine guns, bloopers, etc. I have!

Otherwise it makes no sense for airline stocks to go up. People are down on airline travel, and the airlines are doing everything to discourage their use - fuel and 2nd bag surcharges, potential strip-searches and detention at endpoints, etc. And the economy's in a funk. So why would airline stocks go up?

Merger and acquisition speculation. Delta and Northwest. Continental and United. Probably others.

The Easter Islanders expected the production of stone head idols to continue to grow, too.

Actually, I don't think they did. There's evidence that they knew the end was coming. They just didn't have a reasonable alternative.

And no, I don't think they built the stone heads to keep the people busy, either.

Rather, the moai were proof of their strength as a tribe. Both material and metaphysical. Like nuclear missiles today, lots of big statues were a sign to everyone else: don't attack us. The gods are on our side. And we're so rich and powerful we can afford to spend our time and resources building these statues.

Any tribe that failed to keep up in the statue "arms race" then became a target of the others. Lack of statues would be seen as a sign of weakness. So everyone had to keep building 'em...until no one could.

Don't you think it is pretty much of a stretch to imagine the state of mind of a hungry 16th century Easter Islander?

We do know that they diverted scarce resources to a doomed project. Equating that with the folly of our armament economy is dicey. For one thing, we pretend to know that God wants the swords bashed into plowshares -- we sing about it every year. There aren't too many these days who would openly state that having lots of nuclear bombs shows that god is on our side.

But perhaps you are right. Maybe our society isn't so technologically literate as we imagine? Perhaps we do have the mind of an Easter Islander after all?

Don't you think it is pretty much of a stretch to imagine the state of mind of a hungry 16th century Easter Islander?

No, I don't. This dynamic has been observed in other so-called "primitive" tribes.

For one thing, we pretend to know that God wants the swords bashed into plowshares -- we sing about it every year. There aren't too many these days who would openly state that having lots of nuclear bombs shows that god is on our side.

Our gods are not found in the Bible. Our gods are technology and capitalism.

I wish the technology part was true, and the capitalism part false. Unfortunately it is the reverse.
Capital is our God, and The Free Market is the Chosen Path. We worship a superstition based economic system, just like other religious people.

The Golden Calf is more than a legend/myth of the Bible. Idolatry is alive and well, thank you very much.

You might not approve of the free market, but given that that is the way things are, it does at least allow us to make reasonably confident projections.

For instance, the reason not much conservation has taken place in many countries is simply because it has not been worthwhile.

Take gasoline prices. Even at $3 gallon it is not worthwhile to worry too much about mileage.

Even in the UK, with petrol at $8 gallon, depreciation, insurance, tax and repairs are far more significant, although the UK fleet is significantly more fuel efficient than the US one.

The flaw in this argument is that individual's investment decisions have a significantly closer horizon for payback than corporate or government ones.

What are needed are financial mechanisms, not necessarily subsidies, to finance the investment, like some of the Californian schemes to reduce electricity rates with the utility paying initially and then re-claiming that by various means.

When will better measures be introduced?

Hopefully before, but likely when costs start imposing significant damage to individuals and the economy.

Things look up then, because the main reason that oil and gas has not been conserved or displaced is that with them so cheap, not a lot of effort went into doing so.

I think a lot here will be surprised at how fast things can change when the market is working for you, not against.

For instance, plug-in hybrids should if arranged in a series configuration not parallel lead to much greater reliability and lower repair bills, reinforcing the message at the pumps.
Depreciation should also move in the same direction, once the expectation of ever more expensive oil firms up, so that the higher mileage vehicle retains significantly more of it's value.

None of this should be taken as seeking to argue that transition will be painless or smooth, just that once Government policy and the market are working in the right direction change is a lot easier.

Another example is home insulation and heat pumps.

Not a lot of it has been able to be financially viable at any reasonable discount rate for the investment.

Government policy on rebates will shift when there are the first shortages - it will be obvious that it needs to take demand out of the system.

Dearer energy will also simply make the required investment by the individual more worthwhile.

Electricity at around 30cents kwh as in Germany and Denmark should do the trick.

You might not approve of the free market, but given that that is the way things are, it does at least allow us to make reasonably confident projections.

Errr, you are claiming that 'the system we exist in' allows for 'reasonably confident projections', yet this system is not a free market.

What's the next claim? That Adam Smith spoke of an 'invisible hand'?

"...the dollar their god, and how to get it their religion." Mark Twain

Any tribe that failed to keep up in the statue "arms race" then became a target of the others. Lack of statues would be seen as a sign of weakness. So everyone had to keep building 'em...until no one could.

Periodically, a worker would lay down his chisel, scratch his head, and wonder aloud, "what the Hell are we doing. Our civilization is going down the tubes and here we are wasting the last of our trees"...

Unfortunately, his peers would instantly lambaste him: "DOOMER! What are you, some kind of survivalist freak?! How dare you suggest such a thing!"

The US Government has ordered that flags be flown at half mast until further notice in response to the death of former Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz. You know, for all the good he did this country. Er...

Anybody see this? A minor squabble at the moment, but its certainly an interesting anecdote on the tensions created from resource scarcity & global warming.

Georgia lawmakers want border redrawn for some Tennessee water

I saw this article in The Star about a new electrical generating device: http://www.thestar.com/Article/300041. I'm trying to wrap my head around what might be going on here, but I lack the technical background. It sounds like a perpetual motion machine:

Days later, Heins realized what had happened: The steel rotor and driveshaft had conducted the magnetic resistance away from the coil and back into the heart of the electric motor. Since such motors work on the principle of converting electrical energy into motion by creating rotating magnetic fields, he figured the Back EMF was boosting those fields, causing acceleration.

But how could this be? It would create a positive feedback loop. As the motor accelerated faster it would create a larger electromagnetic field on the generator coil, causing the motor to go faster, and so on and so on. Heins confirmed his theory by replacing part of the driveshaft with plastic pipe that wouldn't conduct the magnetic field. There was no acceleration.

"What I can say with full confidence is that our system violates the law of conservation of energy," he says.

My apologies if someone already posted this on a different day. I didn't see anything about it in today's drumbeat.

Kinda crazy, MIT egghead can't figure it out either...

Last week, Heins demonstrated his machine to MIT professor Markus Zahn, an expert in electromagnetic and electronic systems. It proved interesting enough to stump the professor, as well. But Zahn thinks the idea is worth investigating further. "It's an unusual phenomena I wouldn't have predicted in advance," Zahn told The Toronto Star. "But I saw it. It's real."

eh as Morpheus says Some laws can be bent others can be broken.

If you measure all the inputs and the output, I'm sure you'll find Hein's device is following the laws of physics quite nicely.

These perpetual-motion machines always come down to the high effeciency of electric motors' bearings being misunderstood, or the concept of 'duty cycle' of electric power being misunderstood.

However, we're entering a Golden Age of fraud devices like this, and if you have some kooky idea to sell to the masses, this is the time to start getting it ready for production. I have a few in mind myself, not as kook devices, but just as interesting ways to gather energy that may be useful sometimes, or just cute. And the kook-device people can be kind of fun to be around, if you don't mind suspending a few beliefs like .... basic physics. And you also have to nod knowingly when they talk about Standard Oil wanting to kill them. Fortunately after they tell you that once or twice and you pass the nod test, it's kind of kept in the background.

And MIT eggheads not being able to understand things is not anything shocking any more. Remember entry to US colleges stopped being based on ability long ago.

I wonder whether this device must be grounded to produce the effect seen. Is it being demonstrated inside a building wired for 60 hz power? The YouTube video demo shows the device in a room with lots of florescent lights too. Each one has a big "balast" coil and there's a flow of high voltage current thru each tube. Perhaps the local 60 hz field is coupled into the device thru some natural resonance. I recall seeing a photograph of a person standing under a high voltage transmission line with a florescent tube in hand, which was lit just by the stray field. There's lots of wires running off screen, too. If I had the time, I would look at all 7 clips, but with dial up service, it would take all evening.

E. Swanson

Some laws can be bent others can be broken


It's good to see you are keeping positive, but I suggest you buy a book on basic physics - the real world works somewhat differently to what you and Morpheus hope!

I know is is probably crap but I have read physics books a plenty, I know the laws. I'm just saying read a geography book from 1500, what does a map of the world look like? To think that humans complete understand everything about physics is hogwash. There are surely great discovery's in physics in our future

I have no idea what will be discovered in the future, all I know is what we know now. IMO hoping that you can bend or ignore the known laws of physics to get us through loss of fossil fuels isn't a good plan - worse, it's an energy sapping, dead end, waste of time!

New discoveries in physics these days are generally very costly and require lots of cheap energy (the low hanging fruit has long since been picked) - that's why Zimbabwe or back room inventors of things to do with magnets, for instance, aren't known for any successful physics R&D - one of the first things to go, post peak oil, is 'pure' research IMO.

Note that this is a typical problem with mainstream reporters: the "it" may well be just that there's an observed acceleration, whilst the key question is whether additional energy is being taken from somewhere to provide it. It's also unclear how long has been spent looking at the device: one thing people who don't work in science/engineering don't have a grasp is how long it takes to figure out all the subtle factors that can be influencing/corrupting an experiment. If they've spent less than six months looking at it intensively then the jury is still out.

BTW: I'm not against hoping for a technological fix. Indeed I really, really hope there is a technological breakthrough that fixes everything. But I don't like taking vague puff-pieces, particularly those that might have been released by business people who see the world through rose coloured glasses, as anything more than possible, potential one-day hopes. And I certainly don't want to do any resource planning assuming that a fully checked, real breakthrough is an inevitability that we just have to wait on the sidelines for.

Highly recommended comment by Mish; he talks about "Walking Away" from both mortgages and the Iraq War:


Hello TODers,

GIOS, Global Institute of Sustainability, HQ'ed at AZ State Univ., is probably 5 years behind the Peak Outreach learning curve, IMO:


Their latest document [84 page PDF warning]:


Lots of yada,yada,yada...but nothing on Peakoil impacts, FFs-depletion, nor links to TOD, EB, LATOC, DIEOFF, or other crucial Thermo/Gene & Overshoot discussion websites.

When the paint, barely holding together the old, rusty, long distant pipelines from CA & TX starts flaking off, and breakdowns become frequent: I hope GIOS can quickly abandon their delusional belief in 'sustainable growth', then rapidly ramp up to Peak Outreach speed.

Sadly, my Asphalt Wonderland should have long ago become the leader in biosolar everything, but our state leaders have failed us:

snip from PDF above
Feedback from the market tells home builders that consumers
remain mostly indifferent to environmental concerns. The demand
for new housing at the edges of major metropolitan areas seems
endless while citizens’ groups fight off attempts to increase density
in existing neighborhoods. Home builders offering energy-saving
upgrades for new homes find few takers. Buyers pass on options like
energy-efficient windows, geothermal heat pumps, upgraded insulating
technology, and solar panels. Instead, they choose fancier
countertops, professional-grade appliances, nicer flooring, heated
spas, and designer closet systems. It’s like trying to sell spinach in a candy store...

...A few years ago, a high-profile new Tucson housing development trumpeted itself as a green community. It was – briefly – the darling of academia and a shining example of progressive urban planning. But consumers yawned, sales slowed, and the project was generally viewed as a flop.
I would imagine this has gotten even worse with the ongoing real estate collapse.

The money being spent on our golf courses and swimming pools, shopping for junk extravaganzas, and continued easy-motoring, massively dwarfs any perceived local paradigm shift towards solar installations, insulation, water conservation, food relocalization, voluntary birth control, Alan's TODevelopment, community re-zonings, etc. My speculative proposals for canal transport, minitrains, SpiderWebRiding, solar & windturbine-powered desalination is discussed nowhere in my state, as far as I can tell.

As I compose this posting: my next door neighbor is upgrading his kitchen with pointless designer countertops and other wasteful expenditures instead of a solar water heater or other energy saving devices. Such is life, but I hope Cascadia is getting ready for the eventual migration flood from the Southwest WTSHTF: cacti are very few, low in food nutrition, and burn poorly.

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

Argentina Net Petroleum Exports -- EIA (USA)

Exports peaked twice five years apart. Currently exports from Argentina are at an eleven year low. The sum of exporting nations declining in exports was offsetting export growth in other nations.

Thanks for the chart. My guess on the double peak would be based on their economy crashing in 2001 and oil being one of the export earners. They were able to increase exports due to a huge drop in domestic demand. Would be interested in seeing if you have any consumption numbers during that timeframe

Don't know if you can find any consumption numbers but you do have the production numbers in thousands of barrels per day.

1987 Average 428
1988 Average 449
1989 Average 460
1990 Average 483
1991 Average 485
1992 Average 553
1993 Average 594
1994 Average 650
1995 Average 715
1996 Average 756
1997 Average 834
1998 Average 847
1999 Average 802
2000 Average 761
2001 Average 802
2002 Average 799
2003 Average 783
2004 Average 733
2005 Average 704
2006 Average 696


Ron Patterson

Consumption numbers from BP Statistical Review 2007:

1987 457
1988 456
1989 417
1990 389
1991 411
1992 417
1993 418
1994 416
1995 415
1996 432
1997 451
1998 467
1999 445
2000 431
2001 405
2002 364
2003 372
2004 394
2005 421
2006 442

Consumption dropped off significantly from 2001 to 2004

Thanks gentlemen

I was watching CSPAN last night, and Rep Roscoe Bartlett was talking about Peak Oil -- the whole deal, with charts and graphs. Could have come straight from TOD (maybe a lot of it did). You all would have been proud of him. Too bad only 0.0001% of the US population, and maybe 2 congresscritters, were watching it.