Driving a Taxi is getting to be tougher

It is a beautiful day outside, one of the crisp days of Winter where it becomes a pleasant chore to restock the wood pile near the house. Soon we will begin to tidy up the yard, and Spring will be here and plans are already made for trips and travel through the summer. Somehow in this planning, even though we know of the problems that are coming with energy supply, it doesn’t factor much into the plans that are made. There is a complacency of thought that says that things will continue, much as they are, and certainly in the discussions from the political contenders there is little concern expressed for dramatic change in the security of supply, or even the volume of that supply, within the near term.

As I mentioned last week, I have been giving talks that include a component of the coming problem outside of the small circle of our campus and moving out to the service clubs, and the occasional larger conference gathering. I largely dwell on the problems of oil and gas supply and the inadequacy of our being able to make up shortfalls in these with solar and wind, or even ethanol, because of the scale of the problem and the nature of the coming liquid fuels shortages. The talks seem to go over quite well, I even get the odd request for copies – but I strongly suspect that the audience, in very large part, quickly moves their attention to the next item on the agenda, and that within a week the topic is far back in their memories. I mention this because in many ways I think my small experience mirrors to a degree what we see on a much larger scale when folk like Matt Simmons give the more detailed, and skilled presentations that he provides. There is no experience of significant personal impact that causes the problem to seem immediate to many of the audience.

Yes prices have gone up, but the impacts that I expect will bring the problem home are those of say a taxi driver in Kathmandu, who not only must find but also afford fuel for his cab in the crisis, which has now been going on for nearly a year, but has yet to grasp that it may never be easily obtainable again. The Nepal Oil Corporation is caught in the bind of continuing to have to subsidize the price of fuel, due to public pressure, while at the same time not being able to meet the payments for the fuel it is buying from India, who is therefore reducing supply. Given that those current shortages with most of the gas pumps in the capital closed, are now being compounded by an increasing lack of electric power, with load shedding now occurring up to eight hours a day, there is no discernable way forward. Moves to switch away from the more polluting biofuels for stoves to kerosene and LPG are likely now to go into reverse. And for those who advocate public transport, it is reported that only 30% of public vehicles are still on the road.

People in Nepal are not alone in having problems affording fuel as prices go up. In Bangladesh the price of fuel for irrigation and current shortages are hampering farmers , with only roughly half of the normal acreage in parts of the country being cultivated so far this season. Because of the reliance on diesel pumps irrigation costs are higher, at 28% of rice production costs, in comparison with 13% in India, and 8% in Thailand. The problems are made worse this year since there is also an invasion of rats that is eating some of the harvest. Unfortunately delays in field development of the Bangladesh gas fields means that they also are seeing a current current shortage of natural gas. Gas availability is also an issue in Pakistan where, again, public transport has raised fares as long lines grew at gas stations.

“Public transporters have increased the fare from Rs 6 to Rs 10 and that they have their own justifications in this connection,” he said. Due to the increase in the fare, verbal clashes between the transporters and passengers were also witnessed, he added. Another citizen Farooq Ali said that he had left his car at home as he could not afford to run his car on petrol. Ali said that he intended to avail a taxi but the fare demanded by the drivers surprised him.

Transporters defend fares: Lal Khan, a taxi driver, said that the CNG shortage had forced them to charge extra fare. “The CNG stations of the capital are not supplying the gas and they have to go to Rawalpindi for fuel,” he added.

Problems are not restricted to Asia, the recent shortages in electrical power in South Africa have carried over into neighboring countries such as Botswana, and even here, though the problem is electricity, it carries over to supplies of water and gas, since these must be pumped. And it affects taxi drivers.

“Power failure is a serious problem for the Taxi Industry. We are almost stuck. We spend hours queuing at fuel points while commuters desperately wait for us,” complained Chengeta, a renowned Taxi/Combi operator.
Chengeta, who is also a member of the Francistown branch of the Taxi Association puts the blame for the power cuts squarely on BPC. “They should find a better way to address the whole issue. Power rationing should be done with understanding of the customer needs,” he said, suggesting that customers should be notified about power cuts.
He said taxi drivers holding small containers begging for fuel after their taxi runs out of petrol has become a common sight.

And here in the United States, while the Georgia drought is stirring up trouble with Tennessee we may see a little more reaction from more national politicians if the drought continues, and they start closing power plants. And then, as our power grid gets challenged, and prices rise, it will be interesting to see what our politicians suggest as the answer. In Botswana they are accelerating coal development, we’ll see how that plays out over here.

H.O. - thanks for the insightful reminders that 1)the U.S. isn't/wont be the first place that signs of trouble appear and 2) trouble doesn't always appear as newsworthy catastrophes, the way down is the way of a 1000 tiny cuts.

Nepal is to the world as North Dakota is to the US - the end of the supply chain, it seems.

Taxis are an indulgence - the future belongs to Jitneys and Camels - but not in Cuba, for the latter - seems they've replaced them with cheap Chinese built buses.

I can see the future more clearly -- pieces of the puzzle falling into place.

1. Taxi drivers can't get fuel.
2. CapitalOne sent me a letter begging me to call them and explain why I wasn't using their credit card any more, and promising all sorts of wonderful things if I were to make it my first choice again.

The have-nots are being squeezed into a shapeless mass of protoplasm which the mainstream media will process into invisibility. The haves will go on living in style, mostly unaware of the suffering around them. I would certainly rather be a have than a have-not -- but nothing guarantees my present good fortune, which is nothing more than (mostly lucky) good health and the (temporary) fortune of having been born in a wealthy country. Trying to "help" the have-nots is such a daunting challenge, and leads to so many intractable thickets (such as "bringing Democracy to the Middle East" -- by making war on them).

It's no wonder people give up trying and retreat into mindless consumerism, or fundamentalist religion of some variety. Another choice would be total despair and depression --

Thank the (insert choice) for the spirit of activism that pervades TheOilDrum -- it's a lifeline to sanity in what sometimes appears to be a totally insane, or at least meaningless world.

A lifeline to sanity, indeed. Although to the world, we are the ones who are insane. As my girlfriend says, "Will you stop with this peak oil thing!!?"

At the moment, it is a "mixed marriage," peaknik, non-peaknik. Difficult thing, that, as I am sure many here can attest. ; )

My wife has seen "A Crude Awakening", has heard me discuss it with numerous friends and family, and is discouraged because we currently fly to visit her family on the other coast once a year. She also thinks this lifestyle we lead is 'normal' (though we have a passive solar house with 2 kW PV [thermostat set to 66F], hybrid cars, bicycles, clothesline, large garden, 45 fruit/nut trees in an edible landscaping with lots of small fruits in addition, small sheep flock, etc). Since she looks forward to the cross-country trip, she would prefer to keep it out of her mind (as AMTRAK is not being expanded to mitigate drastically reduced air travel).

"(as AMTRAK is not being expanded to mitigate drastically reduced air travel)."


so you didn't notice Bush's little budget slashed Amtrak?

I would classify that as going the exact OPPOSITE direction of "expanded" - wouldn't you?

Bush attempting to cut Amtrak's funding is exactly why I am convinced we are headed down the tubes - exactly the wrong decisions made on the way down in order to protect the status quo and entrenched (money) interests...K-street gets a LOT more say in what becomes policy than I or any other well-informed voter...(and few voters are well-informed from what I see...)

what about Texas losing federal funding for that light rail project - is that a good example of not doing what is needed "yet"?

I guess I should give you credit for your relentless optimism in the face of all evidence to the contrary - but I think it is part of the problem

had dinner with a Texas-based physicist the other night - he's a cornucopian and believes cellulosic ethanol will save us from oil depletion - and this is a brilliant well-educated man....his belief in spite of reality is depressing to me...

Don't forget the efforts the government is making to make air travel a fast and pleasurable experience by having you take inventory of items before travel and pleasurable via the latex gloves hands of TSA on your body.

(Yea, its almost like they want you to NOT travel via air.)

I'm too lazy and forgetful to find the links, but maybe some others aren't: apparently the US is putting a lot of pressure on the EU to make air travel to here a lot more burdensome and intrusive, including supplying information on friends and family members who accompany flyers to the gates. It's much worse than just that, but I forget the details and only remember my disgust.

US tightens visa waiver measures

The US is stepping up its drive to obtain tougher security measures from European and other countries that already participate or want to join its visa waiver programme.

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security sent out a letter to all 27 EU governments and other visa waiver scheme members setting out its demands.

With less than a year before it leaves office, the Bush administration is accelerating its attempt to introduce a new electronic authorisation scheme for travellers to the US and to station more armed guards - or air marshals - on US carriers on transatlantic flights.

Personally, I have stopped travelling to the USA. The financial cost keeps on dropping but the other hurdles keep on rising. Frankly, I can't be bothered.

OTOH, the French have committed to electrifying every meter of their rail lines, are rapidly expanding their rent-a-bike programs, have started on the next phase of TGV building (Phase I took 30+ years) and have recently announced a new program to build 1,500 km of new tram lines in a decade (and just started on a new nuclear reactor in France, the second EPR (next generation nuke).

A real world example of "doing it right" and benefiting from it, may shake some sense into the next President (no hope for GWB).

Best Hopes,


BTW, what Texas city lost federal funding for light rail ? I may have missed that.

isn't electrified rail bad? I thought the power was going out? and france gets it's electricity from nuclear. how are they going to mine all that uranium during peak oil?

Alan - you are preaching to the choir on France doing it right - hell, even their anti-GM crop stance, protectionism against imported foods, widely dispersed regional agriculture looks like it will pay off very well down this road

I would LOVE to see a well-managed crash program of pv in the Mojave, wind in Dakota, pumped storage where appropriate and all to feed expanded and electrified rail, light rail etc. throughout the US

unfortunately I see Amtrak cuts despite growth in ridership

umm, I couldn't remember which Texas city myself - but you were irate about it what, two weeks ago? long threads about it.....I'm blanking

Sometimes I'm really thankful that I recently established French citizenship for my kids. Next I need to get my wife citizenship.

Granted, it's likely that by the time I realize it's time to bail out of the US and head to France, travel will be too difficult for us to do so...

The cancellation I was aghast at (staggered by the stupidity of) was an extension of the Washington DC Metro (subway) to Tyson's Corner and Dulles Airport.

18% federal funding of $900 million to save 20 to 25,000 b/day (more in an oil supply emergency).

A some point, public policies will change (see Rush to Ethanol) and I want them to change in a positive way.

Best Hopes,


so you didn't notice Bush's little budget slashed Amtrak?

the next president will be better. it doesn't matter because Amtrak ridership is up.

Ridership on the passenger rail system is up 6% so far this year, the biggest jump since the late 1970s.


biggest jump since the late 70s. wonder what caused that jump?

"the next president will be better"

why are you so confident of this? I very much doubt if McCain would be any improvement with endless war on Jihad (redundant as that is I know) his main campaign promise (hard to help pay for Amtrak when you are paying for all those "smart" bombs and depleted uranium bullets)

and I am not confident that either Obama or Clinton would be much better - certainly their support for ethanol etc. does not give me a lot of hope...status quo candidates will give us more of the same...and don't forget, Congress gets to decide where the $ goes, and they seems to really really like autos and the like...

"biggest jump since the late 70s"

and DESPITE that big jump, Bush is trying to cut Amtrak's budget - wouldn't want Americans to get out of their cars after all....

Actually, I fully expect AMTRAK to be sold off in pieces to individual states or consortia of states. Some of the intercity pieces will remain in place, the transcontinental lines will be gone. I fully expect this to happen just a year or two before the airlines start to go belly up big time. This is the USA, after all, what else would you expect!

With any luck, under the more competent management of the states, maybe enough intercity links will be put together to actually make it possible to make it across the continent on a series of hops. It might take many days, though.

I hear exactly what your saying and understand completely. The scope and scale of the Long Emergency of what is now upon us with oil having peaked in 05, is a topic of discussion I would love to have more of with my spouse, but she is sick and tired of the topic and I can rarely broach the subject without a strong reaction. She says, "Ok fine. There's peak oil, sure I understand it but I don't want to talk about something I can't do anything about. So let's talk about something more positive." She right, yet it's like falling towards Earth with no parachute while talking about the wonderful weather we are experiencing.

The scope and scale of the Long Emergency of what is now upon us with oil having peaked in 05

nearly 3 years into peak oil and things are TERRIBLE. not as bad as being 150 years into peak whale oil though.

whale oil was replaced by crude oil - can you show me a replacement that is ready to replace crude on a worldwide scale, that exists NOW, not as some "possibly very exciting. needs some developement. quite hopeful that someday" lab experiment like Busard fusion reactors or cellulosic ethanol?

you bring up whale oil a lot, and it is does very little to argue your case

"can you show me a replacement that is ready to replace crude"

In an episode of Futurama we discovered the world replaced crude with... Whale Oil from vast whale farms. (Exxon) Mobil Dick it was branded. Well I thought it was funny anyway.

can you show me a replacement that is ready to replace crude on a worldwide scale, that exists NOW


you bring up whale oil a lot, and it is does very little to argue your case

yes it does. it proves things aren't as bad as thought. it's the only time something like peak oil has hit and we found something else. we found kerosene and then replaced that with electricity. kerosene didn't have a lot of use until airplanes came a long. it appears that once again electricity will replace oil(kerosene).

It lit a lot of lamps until jets came along. In 1860 the population of the world was about equal to the current pop of China. That was about the time that coal oil replaced whale oil and later was replaced with kerosene.

This summer may be the first summer that folks start occasionally finding the house dark and the AC off due to elect shortages. A few country wide 100 degree days will test the grid. After that you and many others will have a more firm grasp of reality, and start thinking about heating your homes with $5 fuel oil next winter, followed in a few years by an insufficient winter NG grid or low stock build in storage.

Whale oil? Your best example is whale oil?! Better listen to DipChip.

Speaking of arctic open waters, I read an article today with information about arctic ice cover. In 1989 80% of the arctic ice cover was 10 years or older. Now, only 3% is 10 years or older. The atmosphere is thinest at the poles, and consequently the north pole is warming much faster than lower lattitudes. In the Summer, with ice cover, 95% of the sunlight is reflected back out of the atmosphere, but without ice cover 90% of the energy is absorbed into the water, and that added heat reduces ice cover even more, acting as a positive feedback.

I postulate four tipping points to global warming. The first is the loss of arctic ice, as evidenced by the unprecedented melt in the Summer of 07. The second will be the wholesale loss of methane from peat bogs such as Siberia in the latitude just below the arctic. Third will be the partial collapse of Greenland and West Antarctica, together raising sea levels about 10 feet. Fourth will be the warming of oceans enough to release methane caldrates, and that will be our final undoing. That is unless we find a way to stop the climatic momentum we have initiated over the past 130 years.

Here's how I justify being "chicken little" for my friends and family: if the sky really is going to fall, and it is starting already, it's better to have heard warning than be taken completely by surprise, even if one rejects the warning at first. Of course, there are some that don't want to hear stuff and you have to back off -- but later on that same person, having seen stuff, will come back and want to talk about it.

This is not just peak oil, but also the economy, geopolitics, 9-11, etc. On the last issue (before etc) I used to get incredulous guffaws. Now people either don't make a peep or chime in with stuff I didn't know.

The best to hope for is that the entire country start reading and arguing (in a friendly and respectful way) about everything, thinking. That's our only hope. But never, ever let disagreement disrupt a relationship. Events will wake up those who don't want pay attention now -- or maybe not in cases of deep denial. Friendship.

And of course we could be wrong -- maybe it's all a bad dream and I'll wake up and see that it's 1955 again and I can go back to building my ham radio stuff. Anybody have some 6AU6s?

No, but i do have a ton of 12ax7's. I listen to the first heathkit stereo amp they put on the market every day. Still cooks, and I mean that..

Yes, CLZ09. Your girlfriend is quite right. Stop this peak oil thing this instant! It's so annoying.


But triage is a dirty word even here. Triage is a dirty word to neocons because they falsely think it means admitting defeat. Triage is a dirty word to liberals because they want to desperately believe that if they push the right buttons, engineer the right social policy, or do something that shows they care that everything will turn out ok. Triage is even a dirty word to peak oil students because they want to believe the problem is "solvable" at some level, where solvable means a solution that has a happy ending for all involved. But have no fear, triage will become present in our thinking soon enough, even if we find a more colorful name to try to disguise it.

Planet earth is not going to support 7 billion "consumers" living like the US. Heck, it's not going to support another 2.4 billion (India and China). And after we mistakenly try to make it do this, we'll finally have to ask ourselves about triage.

Until then we'll continue to have conversations about the happy motoring utopia as reality keeps poking its nose into the tent more and more.

Not only may triage be inevitable, but it also might be a interesting planning tool. Imagine a significant reduction in the availability of gasoline. Imagine that there is not enough to go around. Imagine that you want to maintain essential services like provision of food and health care. Imagine this is all happening in the city which you live. I can imagine this all happening in a city in my county, Boulder. Lots of people would be pissed off and inconvenienced. But the city already has the seeds, excellent bike ways, decent public transportation and a city of young and not so young people who are already used to getting around without reliance on their auto. And just think, the existing road structure would essentially be able to be used by bikes with dedicated lanes for buses and a few electric cars.

Vision. Imagination. That's what we need. Why not imagine the future now. Just waiting is a recipe for disaster. People can't imagine existence without the auto, and, therefore, they just think gloom and doom.

Imagining and then implementing a different, lower energy model is better than waiting for that model to be imposed. It is kind of like the difference between voluntary simplicity and involuntary poverty. Or camping out versus being homeless.

Right now we seem to be stuck. We only seem to be able to imagine changes around the margin. We need to go way, way beyond "solutions" like better mpg standards and better mass transit.

But most cities and most people will just wait until the shit hits the fan.

The point isn't just changing from autos to bikes, but how do we feed 6.5 billion people without a previously cheap liquid with as much energy as oil? The price of food escalates to a point that excludes 100's of millions of people from surviving.

"We don't"? But at least we shouldn't be using what oil is left for personal travel when our agriculture is dependent upon it. My guess is that we will be focusing on how we feed the people within our borders with the chance of feeding 6.5 billion people and growing rather slim.
And, clearly ethanol will only exacerbate the food problem.

Anyway, the first step should be to conserve fuel for essentials like eating. Seems like a rather obvious tradeoff until you consider we are already trading the other way around --- food for fuel.

I see no reason why the dividing line should be made at "our borders" - you are holding on to a particular us-them fiction that will make less and less sense as our troubles unfold.

I am not making a dividing line but I think this is the way it is going to be. Unless, of course, the American people suddenly really care about the welfare of the rest of the world. China, to name just one country, isn't frantically going around the world making deals on energy with the rest of the world's welfare in mind. While one may argue that if the rest of the world sinks, we do too, that will not be how this plays out. Right now we are just playing chicken with global warming, for example. We won't move unless China does too.

Would a President Obama change this? I don't know how committed he is. Until recently, hew was driving around in a gas guzzler and a year ago he was pushing CTL. People who get religion during a nominating contest don't give me a great deal of confidence as to their willingness to follow through.

Maybe if access to oil continues to be market driven, we can hog much of the oil for awhile while the poorer countries sink further into oblivion. But then we are an empire in decline and might lash out when push comes to shove.

Look on iTunes for Senator Barack Obama's podcasts. In 2006 Obama was supporting a bill to promote higher fuel efficiency standards. He prefaced his podcast by talking about the impossibility of "drilling our way out of this problem" of relying on increasingly destabilizing oil imports. Okay, so he didn't actually mention PO, but he did say very reasonable things (from a PO-aware standpoint) on that podcast and he does seem to be smart enough to figure these things out. The question is whether he will actually do anything about it. And whether congress, unfolding events, and the US population will give him a chance to.

At any rate I don't think this is a case of getting religion during a nominating contest. Obama's flirtation with coal has something to do with his home state which has a lot of coal reserves.

But I think this discussion is missing the point so far, that the economic system is likely to come apart long before we run out of gas for our SUVs. Hasn't anyone noticed that the US is staring a serious recession in the face while gasoline is still freely available at the now-normalized price of $3/gallon? The price of gas will rise again, we wealthy folks will continue paying for it, and those who can't afford to live the American dream any longer due to rising prices will just drop out of the middle and lower classes and join the ranks of the homeless. Businesses will fail, the economy will sink, and we'll keep on buying those 5000 mile salads at the grocery store as long as we have money and they are available. Because even those of us who can see the situation for what it is really don't know what else to do.

The lesson of Nepal is that multiple systems fail simultaneously and there won't be a way to fix the problems because they will be too many and the solutions that we can think of will rely on cheap oil.

tstreet - I was actually thinking in the other direction, not concern globally, but locally. The nation state's dysfunction must be apparent to all but the most "patriotic." Who becomes the next president of the U.S. is as close to irrelevant as can be imagined. (The election politicking does make for an amusing spectator sport, though.)

So when you say "we" - I encourage you to think very very carefully about who you include in that. Because when it comes right down to it, there are (moneyed) segments of this society who will sell you down the river when things get tough. And as you float away, you'll be calling back to the shore - "hey, we're all Americans here." The answer you'll get will be silence.

"hey, we're all Americans here." The answer you'll get will be silence.

We in New Orleans are familiar with the response by GWB, FEMA and the Republican PTB. By contrast the volunteers and the Republic of France have been outstanding in their response and heart warming.

Best Hopes for those that give a damm,


Alan - I hadn't thought about this in the context of New Orleans, but after your comment it not only makes sense, it drives the point home.

I increasingly believe that the identification based on the nation-state we are a citizen of is no more than a granfalloon

Planet earth is not going to support 7 billion "consumers" living like the US.

this is a huge straw man. they want to live better but there isn't much evidence they even know how the average american lives. it's impossible for them to live like us simply because we won't be living like us when commodity prices are driven up. we're already downsizing our cars and our homes. we'll keep doing that are they raise their living standards.

Hey, I got that same letter from Capital One, just months after they bumped the interest rate five points without notifying me. And then they wondered why I wasn't interested in their wonderful card "upgrades."

I get credit card offers from Capital One at least once a month. sometimes twice.

I cut up my credit cards a few years ago (as part of my ELP) - and the credit card companies send me more mail than anything else.

Capital One is multiple mailers per week - amazing to me how badly they want me in debt.

what a waste of resources as I have NO intention of ever going back to a credit-based way of living...

More evidence of ongoing demand destruction in developing nations (or 'less-consuming' nations, as Heinburg puts it).

Indeed, if nuclear power plants in the US have to shutdown, and natural gas supplies are tight, whence the power? Who will tell the people how much power they can or can't use? If it came to it, rolling blackouts in the Southeast would be a surprise to many. The fallacy of infinite abundance in the US will come to a halt at some point, whether this is a sample of the future remains to be seen.

The only transportation system that can be power with renewable energy is solar-powered PRT. Electric cars use 4x-5x more solar panels, making them a very slow path (and possible fatal) to reducing global warming.

Not PRT (show me a realworld example !

OTOH, the Train-Tram being built in Reunion (final goal 70 km, 5/8ths of perimeter of island, serving both freight trains & passengers in trams) will be partially powered by solar panels on the stations. Avoids DC >AC >DC conversion by feeding line directly when the sun shines. If my French is correct, the line will be an odd combination of 750 DC (normal for modern trams) and 1.5 kV DC (for 10 km tunnel, etc).

Balance of power from bagasse (sugar cane waste) burned to make electricity & steam. Indirect solar power.

Reunion is a part of France located on an island in the Indian Ocean, about 3/4 million residents send 5 deputies and three Senators to the National Assembly. Think Hawaii.

The Calgary Light Rail Line operates off of wind power, Montreal off of hydropower (one small nuke I think), Swiss Rail has been operating off of their own dedicated hydroelectric power plants (operating at 16.7 Hz) since the 1920s, etc.

Best Hopes for Realistic Solutions,


To reply to the point re subsidised fuel eg in Nepal.

The answer is that private cars should pay a higher rate for fuel than 'public' vehicles such as buses, trains and even [perhaps] small taxis. This would make sense in any country and compensate for the inconvenience of using non-personal transport to stimulate use.

Is there any govt which does this??


The UK.

Currently road fuel (including diesel) is taxed very heavily.

Trains use diesel with a dye in it (for identification) that is not subject to duty. Farmers are also able to use this diesel.

This is more or less the same as getting a subsidised rate (against the normal "road" price).


what are the opportunity costs of taxing gasoline for private use?

I don't think you're using the term correctly. Tax is infinite.

That makes sense - I was aware of farm diesel. The more important one however is bus fuel to transition the public back onto them, until there is critical mass of passenger + bus numbers to run an excellent service.

It makes no sense if it it still cheaper currently to drive somewhere than to get a bus [car ownership costs may be already factored in by the owner for commuting to work etc.]

Diesel buses fuel economy is not significantly greater than that of Priuses for them to be much of a solution, except in the shortest term.

IMHO, the resources spent in expanding and operating a larger bus fleet would be spent on streetcars.


Interesting post HO - I wish I could write short interesting posts. Bangladesh has large reserves of nat gas and coal - but from what I gather the government was none to keen to allow western companies develop them.

You write great stuff that needs a longer length to explain - just keep doing it. (And your short stuff ain't bad either). One of the things I noted in reading some of the articles around putting the post together was the amount of delay and debate that goes on in many places as to what should be done. And in the meanwhile while the arguments rage, the situation gets worse.

"The Nepal Oil Corporation is caught in the bind of continuing to have to subsidize the price of fuel"

most of these shortages are being created by one thing- prices are too low. keeping the price artificially low leads to shortages. that's basic economics.

Rising prices have done next to nothing at increasing supplies worldwide. What it has done is price the poor out of the market. I see a recession in the US cutting demand here for gasoline while demand is still increasing in China/India. American oil companies will be pressured by dropping US demand to lower retail prices at the same time as crude demand and prices keep rising. When it no longer becomes profitable to ship fuel to rural, poorer regions Like North Dakota and even some counties in Texas will the MSM even notice?

Black marketeers et al profit from pricing a resource below cost, at the expense of the entity doing the pricing (in this case the Nepal Oil Corporation which is likely a proxy for the Nepalese Government).

Should someone try to rationalize pricing, these same people have the capacity and will to create riots and destruction of property - to force the restoration of profitable (for them) times.

After all Papa Joe Kennedy may have made his money bootlegging booze during prohibition.



This falls right in line with my theory that the time & pressure of current higher fuel prices is reducing economic activity worldwide, and at some threshold of price or extended time period at current high prices, the economy will falter. The more affluent a country or region is, the more insulated they are from the effects of higher fuel costs, so it will be the 3rd world countries that suffer first, followed later by the more developed countries.

The one factor that will cause the most problems is higher food prices, which are now a worldwide phenomenon. As fuel prices stay high, food prices are skyrocketing. Orange juice is over 6 bucks in some places - milk is 4.50 a gallon here in California - apples are almost a buck each! Many of us have adjusted to those higher prices, but many people are just barely scraping by. At the local grocery store the cashier or bagger always steals some small item from me when I buy over a hundred bucks worth of groceries. I actually saw it happen this last time, but couldn't bring myself to bust her for such a small item. I thought, if you're really suffering so much you have to steal my bags of mixed nuts, then please have them on me.

Crude oil extraction peaked in 05 and has plateaued since then, with demand continuing to rise along with prices. Without realizing it, because its been occurring so incrementally, we are now in what Kunstler refers to as the Long Emergency.

Your theory, is it?

As I've said before, the problem with the doomandgloom, teotwawki side is that there's a whole bunch of really, really smart scientists (the kind that actually work, not the kind that write hysterical blurbs for pseudo-scientific National Enquirers) working their butts off on the other side.

The "Greenest" energy known to Man; and, a Whole Lot of It.


I just got back from Chicago where a trip from downtown to O'Hare cost me $45.

Back in the UK around the same distance back home into London from Heathrow cost £45...

The fist trip was in a plush Jaguar taxi, the British one in one of the custom Black Cabs that probably cost around the same.

Gas costs are around 2.5 times those in the States but the Black Cab driver seemed to be making a living out of it (or me rather!)

Riding a cab is certainly going to be a more expensive experience in future and if that means fewer can afford the experience then there will be fewer taxi drivers trying to ply the trade. One Chicago cabbie on learning we were going to the airport later on almost begged us to phone him and 'help him out' by using his car. I can't imagine a Black Cabbie doing this and it probably points to the fragile transitory nature of US Cabbies...


Or you might see something new develop. IF we can keep the Internet up, and IF we can keep the cell phone network up, then it should be possible to match people and taxicabs up so that multiple people can share rides. This would allow cab drivers to get higher revenues per trip (thus covering their increased fuel costs) while spreading the cost between more riders, thus reducing their costs. Thus, you might see ridership go way up, and many more taxi cabs might appear on the street.

Or you might see something new develop. IF we can keep the Internet up, and IF we can keep the cell phone network up

I didn't know they were going down.


WHY did you not take the EL?

The Blue line costs 2 dollars and it takes you from downtown right into O'Hare with no traffic. Those freeways are more like molasses. I once took the bus from Union station to Beloit on a Friday afternoon. We got caught in the rush hour and it took 90 minutes to get from downtown to the airport. It was like the interstates in LA, AKA the world's biggest parking lot.

Don't waste your time and money when the alternatives are so much better.


The Chicago Metro is a fine system -I used it and local taxis extensively during my stay including trips from Rosemount into town on the EL.

We could have taken the metro back out but just thought it easier to jump in a cab -many bags and all. Oh, and I don't pay so that eases the $45 issue!

"Oh, and I don't pay so that eases the $45 issue!"

Doesn't that piss of the driver?

Flash forward 10-20 years - one can only get a drivers license if one has undergone a vasectomy or hysterectomy. There will be a bunch of rich old chauffeurs driving around (sans children). What would we compete for then??

You know, reading this post, and the comments, which more than any other site I know are an integral part of the unusually high quality of TOD, a realisation came to me: I come to TOD, regularly, to get respite. The world is mad, my country is mad, most of the people in it are mad, even most of the ones I actually know are mad. Most of each day I'm mad myself.

We're all carrying on as normal, and studiously failing to look at, to even be aware of, the five-hundred-foot-high tsunami roaring towards us. Absolutely no awareness, and certainly no broadscale, realistic public discussion allowed until it actually hits. That's until it hits us, of course; the Pampered Twenty Percent. You could say it's already hit millions (billions?) of the Abused and Deprived Eighty Percent in the poor countries.

So, when I come to TOD I can drop the mad normality, and just luxuriate quietly for a while in a bit of sanity.

Yet even here, I wonder if we're not quietly avoiding the possible worst cases?

* Synergistic runaway positive feedbacks that fry and sterilise the planet to a slightly cooler Venus?

* The Sixth Extinction taking not just lots of other species, but hom sap too?

* The quiet die-off which has been devastating the poorest of the ADEP for the whole of my lifetime and longer quietly creeping past the birth rate, to ensure that our numbers start back down again much sooner than orthodox projections expect?

* Ditto, but helped along by deliberately engineered pandemics, using GM microorganisms as vectors. Perhaps racially targeted, if - no, when - that's possible. (Maybe already) The crew which brought you Hiroshima, Nagasaki, 11 September 01 and all the other horrors which Western humankind do so routinely wouldn't shrink from that, I suspect.

* The Long Emergency actually turning out to be a Long Plummet, to a point where we finally say: "Yep! Industrial civilisation really did turn out to be a Single Giant Pulse event.... Now, where's my slingshot?"

Sorry, my intuitive-side thinking is just feeling a bit full of cold foreboding today. Enough. Incidentally, anyone else here notice that when you read Jim Kunstler, even as you read these dire prognostications you keep bursting out into guffaws of laughter? It's a special gift of Jim's. Very rum!

If there is avoidance of the scenarios you describe, what choice do we have? Are we avoiding something that is a given? If so, there really wouldn't be much more to day except where and how we would like to be buried. If not a given, then, while we keep these possible scenarios in the back of our minds, we pursue alternatives that could possibly avoid these scenarios.

Really, if these scenarios are a given and not a maybe, we truly are wasting our time here.

Sure, it is probable, but not definite that scenarios like these will occur if we continue on our current trajectory. There are those here and elsewhere who point towards a different path, not one that is not constrained by technology, but constrained by the human will and the imagination.

Hi t,

Thanks for your comment.

Sometimes I wonder what might happen if each TOD reader/poster spent just 10 minutes per week taking action on a website of one or more orgs than do actual work on protecting human rights, www.aiusa.org, or preventing nuclear war:



"The Federation of American Scientists, along with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), and independent analysts, have issued a report, Toward True Security, that calls for immediately declaring that the sole mission for U.S. nuclear weapons is to deter nuclear attack, for taking all nuclear weapons off launch-ready alert, and for reducing the U.S. nuclear arsenal to a total of 1000 warheads, including reserves, as an immediately achievable, secure step toward a nuclear-free world."

I'm thinking the doomer one-upmanship insures that we aren't missing anything that we can think of. But how many of us had considered Lovelock's recent suggestion that the open artic waters are now a greater source of planetary warming than CO2? Ice free in 2010. How's that for positive feedback?

My guess is we're going to get whacked with a long series of "oh, I didn't think of that" kind of events.

cfm in Gray, ME

. . . deliberately engineered pandemics, using GM microorganisms as vectors. . .


Maybe you have read this one by Margaret Atwood too?

Yes, a wonderful read. Absolutely chilling.

One of the issues with future gazing is that the exponential underlying nature of many vectors leading there can result in almost any possible scenario coming into existence -given enough time.

For example we can easily extrapolate to a place where mankind jumps from star to star at warp speed given a mediocre % year on year tech improvement if we look out Centuries.

The positive feedback loop can greatly enhance this but if the outcome is negative and we can break these loops then I believe it may be possible to avaoid the worst outcomes and I sincerely hope that once our energy fate is realised we rapidly setup counter-exponential growth trends that will mitigate the worst effects. An example would be government funded mass PV rollout increasing 50% per year.

It won't alleviate some medium term pain but I hope it may prevent the sort of 'die-off' scenarios that a simple runaway exponential decline would point towards...

...and yes Kunstler is both funny and a little scary at times, in a negative life he was probably a Klingon...


I cannot understand how consumers in undeveloped nations would prefer wide-scale fuel shortages to slightly more expensive petrol. Surely the amount of time spent looking for available fuel negates the subsidised price once it is found? Or is this just a simple view of the situation?

It is if you have plenty of time and not much money.....

I, too, am trying to educate the public and at least give an advanced warning for impending shortages. But my efforts, even in Hyde Park, are largely ineffective. Ted Steck, the director of the Environmental Studies program at the University of Chicago, suggested I shift my emphasis to Global Warming and instead describe the energy situation through that prism.

I, too, have been puzzled over the non-reaction to many of the impending (dare I say inexorable?) geologic realities that await and have begun research in a new direction: America as a territory of abundance. News of depletion directly challenges the delirious American belief in expansion and prosperity. America was founded as a land of abundant wealth (even though colonists died off; witness Roanoke). In 1893 Frederick Jackson Turner, at the Columbian Exposition here in Chicago, spoke of the end of an era, the settling of the contiguous 48 states and how this will fundamentally threaten American cultural and economic life. But it didn't. The party, in Richard Heinberg's words, continued.

We are, as David Potter observed over 50 years ago, a People of Plenty (his book title). America, save a severe economic depression, knows no other way to live. A little deprivation and shortage could be good for the soul; but there is no bigger Anti-American message than Peak Oil. Will we be blacklisted as the Communists of the 21st century? No, because the threat is real and even though I fancifully liken myself to a New Testament gospel speaker sounding the alarm, there is precious little time for witch hunts. Depletion is real and we have already lost a generation of time preparing. The kingdom of God may or may not be at hand, but the era of depletion is most certainly imminent.

Kevin Walsh
Chicago Peak Oil