DrumBeat: February 17, 2008

Despite record profits, oil companies find little comfort in high prices

PARIS: As crude oil prices topped $100 a barrel in January, some of the world's major oil companies rang up annual profits that beat the bottom lines of any other company, in any other line of business. Yet, despite appearances, industry analysts are not rushing to pat the majors on the back.

Exxon Mobile, the largest oil company, reported at the start of this month a record 2007 profit of $40.6 billion, earnings that trounced any other company. Royal Dutch Shell reported the largest earnings of any company in Britain, at about $31 billion.

But amid rising consumer resistance to high prices of gasoline and other refined products, analysts and even some oil company executives have a hard time putting a positive spin on the future.

"As far as the outlook, it is pretty horrible," said Peter Hitchens, an oil analyst at Seymour Pierce in London.

Chevron Shuts Australia Oil Fields, Adds to Closures

(Bloomberg) -- Chevron Corp.'s Australian unit halted production at oil fields on the Barrow and Thevenard Islands off the northwest coast, adding to shutdowns due to a tropical cyclone moving through the region.

Chevron Australia moved non-essential workers from the islands and shut down 9,000 barrels a day of production as Tropical Cyclone Nicholas nears the area, Scott Walker, a Perth- based spokesman, said yesterday in an e-mail.

Crude supply sufficient: Saudi, Norway

RIYADH: Two of the world's top oil exporters, Saudi Arabia and Norway, consider crude supply to the global market to be sufficient, according to a statement carried yesterday by state news agency SPA.

Chavez says no plan to halt oil exports to the United States

"We don't have plans to stop sending oil to the United States," the socialist leader said Sunday during a visit to heavy-oil projects in Venezuela's petroleum-rich Orinoco River basin that were nationalized last year.

But he added that Venezuela could cut off supplies to the United States if Washington "attacks Venezuela or tries to harm us."

Venezuela may create windfall oil tax: Chavez

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela may create a windfall oil tax on earnings generated by quick increases in oil prices, President Hugo Chavez said on Sunday, extending the OPEC's nation's efforts to increase revenues from the oil industry.

Biofuel: Gene scientists find secret to oil yield from corn

PARIS (AFP) - Agricultural scientists in the United States have identified a key gene that determines oil yield in a corn, a finding that could have repercussions for the fast-expanding biofuels industry.

High prices leave Kuwaiti families reeling

Kuwait families are suffering major budget crunches as inflation in the oil rich state climbs to new highs.

Prices for basic goods have surged by as much as 40% over the past three months, according to the Kuwait Times, with inflation knocking a new record of 7.3% in October, 2007.

Ethanol fuels food price frenzy

The pending global food crisis is due, in part, to a rich twist of irony: One of the factors driving up the price of T-bone steak, a dozen eggs and a carton of milk is a perfectly edible vegetable, a staple of many diets - corn.

To add to the irony, we're growing more corn than ever before. We're just not eating it.

"The U.S. is now using more corn for production of ethanol than our entire crop in Canada," says Kurt Klein, a professor of agricultural economics at the University of Lethbridge. "It's huge."

Soy displaces cattle as main farm activity in Argentina

“Of all the current camp options soy requires a lesser investment; prices remain strong and promise to remain strong; demand for oil and bio-diesel keeps growing and it’s the crop less susceptible to suffer the lack of rainfall”, said economist Ernesto Ambrosetti from the SRA Economics Studies Institute.

However it has its drawbacks and the main soy organization admits it.

“In vast areas soy has become a single cultivation” said Rodolfo Rossi from the Soy Association. And he warned many farmers are not involved in the necessary conservation of the soil since soybeans extract a high percentage of nutrients which need to be replenished.

Petrol Price Shakeup Panics Turkmen Drivers

Sharp increase in petrol prices accompanied by a rationed allowance alarms drivers used to paying a pittance for fuel.

Indian motorists face dearer fuel

India has raised the prices of petrol and diesel for the first time in 20 months to help petrol dealers with sky-high oil prices.

Rail exec's traffic fix sidetracked

E. Hunter Harrison thought he'd be cheered for breaking Chicago's railroad bottleneck. Instead, the CEO of Canadian National Railway Co. is under attack.

Happy days in Harare

This wasn’t Johannesburg, was it? We arrived at a completed, modern international airport with friendly, efficient customs and immigration officers and driveable trolleys. The lights were all working, the people were smiling, there wasn’t a police car in sight and the streets were clean.

Bangladesh: Sulphur-rich imported coal polluting air

The import of substandard Indian coal is being sanctioned by the government even though the polluting fossil fuel exceeds the sulphur level set by the government itself.

For ‘EcoMoms,’ Saving Earth Begins at Home

Move over, Tupperware. The EcoMom party has arrived, with its ever-expanding “to do” list that includes preparing waste-free school lunches; lobbying for green building codes; transforming oneself into a “locovore,” eating locally grown food; and remembering not to idle the car when picking up children from school (if one must drive). Here, the small talk is about the volatile compounds emitted by dry-erase markers at school.

Energy crisis making way for 'nuclear renaissance'

WASHINGTON — Like it or not, the nukes are coming.

Driven by soaring energy demands, the high cost of gas and oil and worries about global warming, an expansion of peaceful nuclear power increasingly appears to be inevitable.

"I believe very strongly that new nuclear plants will be built in the U.S. in the coming decades to address problems with respect to higher energy demand, high prices and global warming," said Sudarshan Loyalka, a professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Missouri-Columbia. "I believe the nation has no other choice."

Drivers slugged as LPG prices double

AUSTRALIANS who converted their cars to LPG are paying nearly twice as much for fuel as they were just five months ago.

A Daily Telegraph investigation found LPG prices have skyrocketed from an average of 45c a litre in October up to as much as 87.9c, as the price was at the bowser in Parkes, in the state's Central West, yesterday, according to the Shell.com.au website.

Japan Faces Indonesian Gas Cuts

In 2006, Japan purchased 62.2 million tons of LNG from abroad, up 7.2 percent, or 4.2 million tons, from 2005, to supply 96.4 percent of its LNG needs. Indonesia was the largest supplier to Japan in 2006, exporting 13.99 million tons, followed by Australia, Malaysia, Qatar, Brunei and the United Arab Emirates, which shipped 12.16 million tons, 12.02 million tons, 7.48 million tons, 6.50 million tons, and 5.31 million tons.

But Japan is increasingly alarmed by the global rush, as well as soaring prices, for natural gas - an environmentally friendlier fuel than oil. Global imports of LNG jumped 10.8 percent to 158.8 million tons in 2006.

Malta: Renewables – Time to Act. 2

The present electorate will be guilty of abetting their leaders who persistently ignore the needs of the future, because we tend to vote for our wallets. If taxing alcohol and tobacco was meant to dissuade over-use for a healthier lifestyle, surely subsidising energy will not help the masses take remedial action to curb energy consumption? Giving out free compact fluorescent (energy saving) bulbs may have been a better policy than subsidising energy surcharges. If one ignores the possibility that impending peak oil timing could be scare-mongering to help keep current oil prices up, the truth is that peak oil has long been forecast to occur around the year 2015. The economic rise and energy demands of India and China were not in the equation 20 years ago, when 2015 was pencilled in. Recent articles are talking of peak oil starting to bite in 2010. Insignificant Malta could always beg for favours and handouts for scarce fuel.

Pakistan: Commandeering of public transport puts commuters in trouble

ACUTE shortage of public transport on Saturday caused great trouble to the commuters in the provincial metropolis as the majority of the vehicles was commandeered for the general election.

Taking advantage of the situation, rickshaw drivers increased the fare by 150 to 300 percent. Motorcycle-rickshaws and two stroke auto-rickshaws were also seen running on The Mall and Jail Road where their entry is banned. For an hour or so after 7am, there were a large number of commuters on every intersection and bus stop but no public transport were there.

Eastern Montana loses rural air service

Last year, only two people on average flew between Lewistown and Billings, a route that would be a two-hour drive. However, mass transit nearly everywhere is heavily subsidized, Rabenberg argued.

"Go check out what federal subsidies the subway system in Washington, D.C., gets or what was poured into the Big Dig tunnel in Boston," Rabenberg said. "Unbelievable."

Trouble On Tap For Brewers

Hops puts the bite in Cottrell's Old Yankee Ale, but the flavoring is also putting the bite on brewer Charlie Buffum's bottom line.

Costs for the bitter ingredient in beer rose as much as 400 percent this past year, Buffum said last week. Combined with the high price of fuel, the shortage of hops is driving up costs to brew beer at the Cottrell Brewing Co. in Pawcatuck and around the country.

Entropy is the problem, not energy

We can neither create energy nor destroy it. We will always have as much energy as we ever had according to the Conservation of Energy principle.

So, how can we experience an energy crisis? The crisis develops from another law of energy: The Entropy Law. It states that energy always suffers some loss of quality or availability during use. Physics characterizes this loss as entropy.

Coal: The hottest global commodity

Do not ask for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for clean coal. But dirty coal is doing just fine, thank you very much.

The new climate science: Governments gamble with our survival

Almost universally, governments are refusing to recognise the scope and urgency of the changes demanded by global warming. The menace, however, is real, and the time available for concerted action to combat it is frighteningly brief.

There is something counter-intuitive here, when most of us are still experiencing climate change only as near-imperceptible shifts in average temperatures. But nature is gradualist only up to a point. The smooth curves that describe “linear” processes can suddenly turn jagged.

Iran Opens First Oil Products, Petrochemicals Bourse

TEHRAN (AFP)--Iran, OPEC's number two crude oil producer, Sunday inaugurated its first exchange for oil products and petrochemicals, in a bid to become a major player in the global downstream industry.

Iran hopes that its oil goods exchange can lead the way for a domestic downstream industry to match its upstream crude oil production, the country's main foreign currency revenue winner.

Gulf must curb its oil demand

The Middle East Gulf oil producers should do something about their increasing oil and gas demand. The demand of seven Gulf States, including Iran, is going to exceed six million barrels per day over the next few years. At such a rate, our own refining capacity may not cope with our rate of consumption which will reach nearly 30 per cent in the next two years. Today most Gulf States are net importers of oils, particularly of motor gasoline. Iran, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Iraq are importing almost all finished petroleum products. Bearing in mind that Iraq is still not stable, its demand for oil in times of prosperity will be far more than that of Saudi Arabia and Iran.

We all know that China is the main factor behind the growing demand for oil but no one is publicly commenting on the growing demand of the Middle East Gulf countries whose annual demand is as big as that of China. China’s demand is growing at 6 per cent while our Gulf states are very close behind with 5 percent growth.

Iran says OPEC output cut not ruled out

(AFP) - Iran on Sunday declined to rule out that the oil cartel OPEC would cut production at its next meeting in early March, a move vehemently opposed by oil-consuming countries.

OPEC-like gas organization called for

LONDON (IranMania) - Iran, which sits atop the world's second-largest gas reserves, supports the swift formation of an OPEC-style organization for natural gas, PressTV reported.

"We believe that the world's main gas producers should create such an organization as soon as possible," Iranian Ambassador to Russia Gholam-Reza Ansari said as major gas producers will discuss the idea in June at the GECF annual meeting in Moscow.

As Mexico's oil reserves drop, Calderon thinks the unthinkable

MEXICO CITY — The political showdown over the future of Pemex, the Mexican government's crucial oil monopoly, appears to loom at last.

At stake, people on both sides of the clash say, is the viability of Mexico's petroleum industry, which ranks as the third-largest source of imported U.S. oil and supplies nearly 40 percent of the Mexican government's budget.

Pull Plug On Giveaway To Oil Giants

I still can't get over the fact that ExxonMobil made $40.6 billion in profit in 2007.

While we were paying $3 a gallon, ExxonMobil was cashing in.

Even more galling, though, is the knowledge that ExxonMobil and other oil companies are still enjoying lucrative tax breaks and production incentives from our own government.

As Nuclear Waste Languishes, Expense to U.S. Rises

WASHINGTON — Forgotten but not gone, the waste from more than 100 nuclear reactors that the federal government was supposed to start accepting for burial 10 years ago is still at the reactor sites, at least 20 years behind schedule. But it is making itself felt in the federal budget.

With court orders and settlements, the federal government has already paid the utilities $342 million, but is virtually certain to pay a total of at least $7 billion in the next few years and probably over $11 billion, government officials said. The industry said the total could reach $35 billion.

Fire shuts down Tesoro refinery production

All fuel production at the Tesoro Hawaii refinery in Campbell Industrial Park was halted late Saturday night after a fire broke out in a processing unit, a company spokesman said.

It was not immediately known how long the plant would be idled or what effect, if any, the shutdown would have on the fuel supply, Tesoro spokesman Nathan Hokama said.

Global warming threatens to redraw world's wine map: experts

BARCELONA, Spain (AFP) - Champagne produced in southern England? Bordeaux in the Loire Valley?

Climate change is threatening to redraw the world's wine-producing map, and the effects are already being seen in earlier harvests and coarser wines, experts told an international conference Friday.

Preparing for the Future with Urban Rail

Dubai to announce 5th and 6th Metro lines this year (perhaps 8 in total plus surface trams). Connecting Metro Lines to Abu Dhabi (to the west) and Sharjah (to the east) are planned with further Northern extensions from Sharjah to Ajman being studied (Ajman has told Sharjah they want a connecting Metro).

In addition a regular railroad with passenger and freight service is being planned for all of the UAE, with connections to new Saudi railroads.

In Dubai the automated Light Metro (cars similar in size to Light Rail) will be in tunnel in the downtown and elevated elsewhere. The first line is about 60% complete and the second 25% complete and both are scheduled to open September 2009. The first 4 Metro lines complete by 2015, and Sharjah hopes to have their first Metro line complete by then (connecting to Dubai)

The $22 billion transportation budget for Dubai till 2020 has $12 billion for roads, $6.3 billion for Metro, $2.5 billion for trams and water transport and $600 million for buses. The emphasis on quality public transit is hoped to reduce automobile growth by half. They talk several times of the need to attract the middle class to public transit and that rail is much more likely to do this than buses.

A map of the first 4 Dubai Metro Lines (with offshore palms and map of world to scale)
Warning 800 kb upload


Best Hopes for the Export Land Model (If we will not build Urban Rail to save oil, perhaps OPEC will so that they can sell more oil to us),


I guess that's what you can do when you don't have a General Motors to buy it all up and kill it, claiming that's "The American Way".

In researching the UAE efforts (and comments by residents) I developed a fantasy.

UAE in 2030, everyone within a km or two (most within 500 m) of an Urban rail stop (Metro or tram). PV covered open walkways and bikepaths give some relief in the summer, but most do their walking & biking in the cooler months and take their short range EV in the summer if they do not want to ride the transit system.

Oil powered transport is reserved for special uses (garbage trucks, plumbers, medical, deliveries) and people are exhorted to not waste oil since oil exports are required to preserve their prosperity.

Paris and London are slightly less than two days away by luxury rail (at varying speeds) and this attracts a decent % of travel (air for the rest). Water taxi to Iran and rail connections eastward or northward.

Oh well, just a dream.

Best Hopes for Dreams coming True,


Best Hopes

UAE in 2030 .... and this attracts a decent % of travel (air for the rest) ... Oh well, just a dream. Best Hopes for Dreams coming True

Quoting Westexas

Based on a pretty good grasp of 2007 data, I estimate that the top five net oil exporters are going to show another drop of about one mbpd in net oil exports in 2007, roughly the same as 2006, on track to approach zero net exports in the 2030 time frame.

No 'net exports' by 2030 means no long distance air flights or ICE vehicles for 'net importing' countries (no vacations?) - so there's no option but to take the electric train (it will have to be be close to 100% for what long distance long distance high speed travel there is) but I doubt people would need to travel long distance to Dubai for any real reason.

By 2030 - that's just 22 years, the world will be a very different place if there aren't any net exports of oil!

I was thinking of the rich Emiratis visiting quaint London & Paris for vacation, education, business, etc.

*IF* the UAE reduces their domestic oil consumption below today's level (say -80%), they will still be exporting oil in 2030. At an extremely good price.

ELM is NOT 'set in stone", although it seems the most likely outcome.

Another contra-example to ELM is gas rationing in Iran to constrain local demand.

Their plans to become a tourist center are heavily flawed and will likely fail (WAY too many A380s on order), but this leaves more infrastructure for the residents.

They are likely, IMHO, to have the resources to take a different path. And perhaps the wisdom.


ELM is NOT 'set in stone",

True, but actually for oil (and many other commodities) there is plenty of evidence of ELM even now.

but this leaves more infrastructure for the residents

Hmmmm ... the only other place like Dubai that I have seen is Las Vegas - except Las Vegas has fresh water nearby ... you think Las Vegas has a long term future? In UAE/Dubai all they have other than oil, tourists and aluminium (it's not the USA!) is a lot of sand.

By 2030 there will almost certainly be significantly less 'net exports' and less 'all liquids' than now, and less energy per person in general - which almost certainly means less investment and resulting economic output - a 'contraction' paradigm.

In the UAE in 2030, the streets will be deserted aside from the odd stray camels that avoided been eaten.

The UAE, All Gulf states and KSA are very high energy dependency environments which depend on almost all food from outside, high energy drinking water production and every other facet of a tolerable life (such as air conditioning) is all imported.

The exponential growth of people in this region is way beyond carrying capacity. But, at present, they have one tradeable commodity that we all need.

At some point , and maybe sooner than 2030, they will be happy to trade oil for grains, proteins, and water.

Best hopes for New Zealand with all that water and delicious Lamb...

Quite possibly.

But a wise choice of investments, say solar distillation of water. solar PV, nuclear power, electric transit and a reshaping of the economy away from expansion/construction & tourism, might well lead to a sustainable future (particularly if the local population does more of the work and fewer expats are needed).

IMVHO it is possible to chart a different course, the resources are still there. Possible and probable are quite different concepts.



As much as I look for your posts, as much as I like your optomism, I feel that in this case, you are way off the mark.

PV will help , certainly , yes. Oil? - thats the only stuff we want. Nuclear? - Well, maybe assuming a) they are allowed, b) are trained and c) the society doesnt implode.

Where once there were a few hundred thousands who knew the desert and how to survive, there are now millions - who do not.

Tourism: Is not sustainable at any level and especially in this region. But: the entire region is now setting itself upon this course and is attempting to attract super-rich tourists, finance, banking.

So, you have rock stars, bankers, plutocrats, oligarchs - and massive support personnel from bell hops , cooks, chauffers and nannys - all concentrated on a coastal strip that cannot support more than a few thousand Arab nomads.


Like the man said.

The grandchildren will forget the lear jets and go back to camels.

As for the expats: they are the ones who make it all work: be you a Phillipino Maid, or a Dutch Petroleum Engineer.

I doubt that Michael Jackson adds much to the sustainability of Dubai. Besides massive natural increase, there are the expats.

The thrust of the current development is clearly unsustainable.

But there are a few straws that could be used when the current paradigm begins to fail. The locals need to start filling the practical jobs, a most unlikely change ATM.

The Green City may develop into a useful role model. Some % of the infrastructure could be useful to support a population of a few million for the UAE.

In a few years the A380s will start landing nearly empty. Financial turmoil will take it's toll. New Construction will slow to a crawl, many expats will be sent home. BUT the UAE will still be exporting oil. IMVHO, there will still be a window then for a change in direction, when the writing on the wall will be quite clear and resources are still available.

Modern technology can significantly increase the sustainable population, but by how much, I do not know.

Best Hopes for a Change in Direction,


But a wise choice of investments, say solar distillation of water.

Depends on what you are distilling the water for. It is possible to distill enough water to drink:
But there is no way in hell you could, with solar energy, distill enough water for irrigation or virtually anything else.

When you distill water to drink, you are in survival mode, you are not in the mode of "maintaining the current status quo". When the economy collapses because of diminishing fossil fuels, and it will, solar power will be a non factor though many dreamers are placing their hopes on it. Solar power can replace but a tiny fraction of the energy derived from petroleum.

Neither solar nor wind will save the world's massive population from total collapse when the fossil energy that got us to this point....disappears.

Ron Patterson

When the economy collapses because of diminishing fossil fuels, and it will, solar power will be a non factor though many dreamers are placing their hopes on it. Solar power can replace but a tiny fraction of the energy derived from petroleum.

From a 6.6 billion perspective you are right. It won't a difference on the energy per capita numbers.

But, For individual families, and individual small communities, they may see benefits that may be way above the global norm.

I think also the needs will be compartmentalized. A home owner's options and choices for an energy solution for home and building heating will be different than the choices they will make for transportation.

I think the numbers of low tech/locally/home made solutions will be astounding.

You will see old 8 ft satelite dish's with aluminized film on them producing hot water for home/greenhouse heating,

Home made alternators making electrical power.

These I grant you, will hardly make a blip on the global energy per capita basis, But.. But for the home owner/community that can do it, it will make All the difference in the world.

What they chose for transporation will be different, but the inovation will be amazing to see. Something like how Cuba kept all those 55-57 chevys running.

Alright let's take this fantasy out to science fiction land. 100-150 years hence, there are no cars, yet no one is more than 6 hours distant from any other spot on Earth. In rural areas (of which there is now a resurgence) there is the bicycle ride to the town center, the trolley or light rail to a larger population center with high speed rail to the continental connecting hubs. Between these run the underground maglev trains at Mach 5. Of course near the equator some of these lines double as launch points for orbital and interplanetary journeys. The system is powered either by something to do with Earth's rotation or Bussard based fusion reactors. Actually this last point is rather interesting, if anyone here isn't more up to speed on it than I, the Navy or DARPA, can't remember which, is currently building and evaluating the seventh generation of the Bussard polywell fusion reactor. It is a doublewide tractor trailer size system, which prior to his recent death, Dr. Bussard felt was a few years away from commercialization. Bussard was also a science fiction writer, referenced in Star Trek with the "Bussard collectors". Of course others would object my science fiction scenario shows evidence of a terrible domination of nature with "brute force" solutions - which may be a reasonable critique. Still, why all the unnecessary concern here and gloom and doom ... all is well, polywell in fact. And if not, don't discount magical thinking, CERA sure hasn't.

Seriously, more rail is a tremendous idea and it is somewhat bizarre and disturbing in the current situation that US is doing so little, even as the PO headlight in the tunnel gets brighter.

I don't agree with the possibility of extensive tunneling being conducted in the near future. However, your last comment is spot on. Why is the government so lethargic when it comes to preparing for the aftermath of peak oil? Clearly the CIA has the best information on actual oil supplies. I can understand the official support for the oil companies and such but why no behind the scenes support for expanding Amtrak? Why not build in a new infrastructure while we still have relatively cheap oil? The cynic in me says that they see it as hopeless so they plan to take care of their own, pull up the drawbridge and let the rest of us fend for ourselves. Or perhaps they are so tied to the next quarter's results that they are incapable of reacting to a problem that is huge but won't officially strike till sometime in the future?

Their (the military-industrial complex) plan for the future combines authoritarian control of the domestic population, centralized corporatist control of the economy, and military control of international resource flows. The last thing they want is anything that would forward an alternative to this plan. The cutback in Amtrak and other idiocies and boondoggles (like ethanol) make complete sense under this set of assumptions.

A link to explain the Dubai Metro system in some detail, including the 3 classes Golden (VIP), Women & Children and Silver (Economy).



Ever notice how the Palm Islands look like the "Facehuggers" from the Alien movies?

Exactly. Now imagine a screening of Alien where the audience sees the facehuggers as the good guys and Sigourney as a marginal nutjob who should leave us all alone. That's our dominant ideology.

Good catch. Palm islands always reminded me of "Sea Monkeys":

for exxon watchers, there are two stories posted on rigzone in the past few days about exxon's reserves:
"ExxonMobil replaces 101% of production in 2007"


"Exxon's 10-yr reserve replacement:112%"


and according to the second story,..........discounting the effect of one day (year end) reserve reporting, exxon replaced 112% or reserves over the past 10 yrs. the story doesnt say what one day was used in arriving at this figure, presumably it is based on current pricing.

wondering if cera was recruited to write the second one.

the story doesnt say what one day was used in arriving at this figure, presumably it is based on current pricing.

SEC rules say to calculate reserves at year end using New York closing prices on the last trading day of the year. The price level affects things like economic limits and share of production from Production Sharing Agreements.

Exxon gets a lot of its oil from PSAs, which tend to keep a higher share of oil for the host country as the price increases. The price rose sharply throughout the year in 2007, so using a (lower) yearly-average price instead of a (higher) year-end price means that Exxon's share of its PSAs looks bigger.

Same thing applies to all the majors. Higher oil price is good news on balance, but it isn't an undiluted blessing.

So how does this story fit in:

Exxon, Stung by Chavez, Replaces Less Than It Pumps (Update3)

By Joe Carroll

Feb. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Exxon Mobil Corp. replaced 76 percent of the oil it pumped in 2007, the worst performance in 3 years, after Venezuela seized an oil field big enough to supply U.S. East Coast demand for the rest of the decade.

Exxon Mobil's 1.2 billion barrels of new reserves last year were insufficient to replace the 1.58 billion barrels pumped from oil and natural-gas wells, according to a statement today from the Irving, Texas-based company. Exxon Mobil's proved reserves stood at 22.7 billion barrels as of Dec. 31, enough to sustain current production levels for 14 years.

Exxon's performance was hampered by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's May seizure of a heavy-oil project, the statement said.

Here's how:

"Excluding the expropriation, the company replaced 107 percent of last year's production."


XOM is pretending that it still owns the Venezuelan Reserves.

yes, i understand that. the article is really all hat no cattle, details are lacking. assume that this 112% figure was arrived at by subtracting 1997 ye reserves from 2007 ye reserves and comparing that to production 1998- 2007, inclusive.
if so, part of their reserves additions are due to 2007 ye pricing. it sounds a little like a windfall.

and for the record, i am not in favor of a wpt.

"ExxonMobil replaces 101% of production in 2007"

The trick here is that Exxon produced 7.4% less oil in 2007 than in 2006. (They produced 2.7 mbpd in 2006, but only 2.5 mbpd in 2007.) 2006: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/01/AR200702..., 2007: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/01/AR200702...

If you look at a chart provided in 2005 by Stuart Staniford at TOD (http://www.theoildrum.com/story/2005/11/16/182053/32), you can see that Exxon has been producing less year after year.

So, even though they are replacing reserves slightly faster than produced for any given year, they are reducing production at a much faster rate. So Exxon is not actually growing reserves.

Exxon and the media should be making this clear in their public announcements, but of course they're not.

Here is a link for today's sea ice cover for the Arctic and Antarctic:
Here is a link for a history of Arctic sea ice cover:
Does anyone know of a link for a history of Antarctic sea ice cover?

Looks like pretty regular annual cycles with no visible drift.

Of course, it doesn't tell us much about the thickness.

I still can't get over the fact that ExxonMobil made $40.6 billion in profit in 2007.

While I only work for the oil industry for about 10 more days, I had to drop by and comment on that story at the link - especially in light of her welfare queen analogy. How many welfare queens pay an order of magnitude more taxes than their tax breaks were worth?

I ask myself whether I will still feel compelled to comment on those types of articles once I leave the oil industry. I don't even know the answer to that myself.

I have reviewed the various federal subsidies for the oil industry and find them either useless (from a societal POV) or just not worth the money (minor benefit, major cost(. Loot from lobbyists and campaign contributions is my appraisal, hence they should be removed.

I was VERY disappointed that Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) joined the Republicans in preserving the oil industry tax breaks and subsidies. But I understand that she has a tough re-election campaign coming up and the oil industry has lots of political money/influence in Louisiana.

The only "subsidy" the oil industry needs is posted daily on the NYMEX.


The only "subsidy" the oil industry needs is posted daily on the NYMEX.

That depends upon whether you want to drive specific behaviors. If the government is content to let oil companies simply follow the profit motive, then you are right. If, however, they would like oil companies to start moving into areas that aren't as profitable or potentially aren't profitable at all right now - specific renewable energy options, for instance - they have to offer the same subsidies as they do to anyone else doing it.

It's like the COP-Tyson deal, which I wrote about here:


The project wasn't economical without the subsidies. But the same people who complain that oil companies aren't investing enough into alternative energy complained that COP should be denied the tax credit that would make the project economical. So what should they do, drain money from one part of the business to fund a money-losing venture, while trying to compete with others who enjoy a substantial tax break for the same product (and who receive various small producer tax credits in addition).

The primary issue is the manufacturing tax credit, enjoyed by all manufacturers, many of who have much higher profit margins than do the oil companies. Singling oil companies out - which the attempt to change the law did; it essentially added the phrase "except for oil companies" - was merely punitive. It was something that the politicians could do and then tell the citizens that they had punished Big Oil - while leaving Big Pharm with double and triple the profit margins with their tax break intact.

On a general note, I have no problem giving the Shell Oil Co. the same subsidy for it's 1 GW of wind turbines as anyone else in the USA.

As for manufacturing tax credit, there is some value in promoting petrochemical and refining in the USA, but not as much as eyeglasses, machine tools, clothing, medical devices, hot sauce, aircraft, furniture and other types of manufacturing in the USA and hence I would like the "except for oil refining and primary production of petrochemical products" added to the manufacturing tax credit and the subsidy used elsewhere.

My reasoning is that these are industries likely to decline post-Peak Oil, and they are large energy users. Subsidizing them subsidizes (indirectly) energy use.


$2.4 Trillion is a pretty hefty subsidy.

where you goin' Robert?

The party is just startin!

Alright, I'll sacrifice and be civic minded, give me 41 billion dollars and tax breaks only equal to one/tenth my tax bill (the horror) and I'll compromise and pay taxes on the money.

But I do agree (if you have implied this) that the only worse place capital can be in than corrupt big business is big government, so we get a twofer here. Enjoy.

So if finally happened:

TEHRAN (AFP)--Iran, OPEC's number two crude oil producer, Sunday inaugurated its first exchange for oil products and petrochemicals, in a bid to become a major player in the global downstream industry.

Iran hopes that its oil goods exchange can lead the way for a domestic downstream industry to match its upstream crude oil production, the country's main foreign currency revenue winner.


This was supposed to be the event that would trigger the end of the world as we know it. Is that still a major concern in the minds of those who know about these things? Is this the end of dollar hegemony? Will this result in resource wars, trade wars, or will the air just go out of the US balloon and allow the world will live in peace and harmony as it did before 1797? (That last clause was moderately sarcastic, for those who are concerned)

Exactly what and how are they trading on the Iranian Bourse? I mean are they trading futures or something else? We know they are not yet trading crude oil.

Iran plans to open a market for trading crude oil as part of the second phase of the nascent bourse at an unspecified future date.

So they must be trading gasoline and/or other refined products. But are they just selling the stuff to the highest bidder or are they actually selling futures like all the other bourses.

If the latter is the case then I don't think they will have much success because they will need a clearing house as well as the cooperation of brokerage houses around the world to handle the buying and selling of the futures contracts.

Bottom line the Iranian Bourse is still a great mystery. We don't even know what they are selling or how they are selling it. How can it possibly be a success if no one knows anything about it?

Ron Patterson

A statement posted on the ministry's Web site said 100 tons of polyethylene consignment was traded at the market's opening on the island, which houses the offices of about 100 Iranian and foreign oil companies.

Oil and petrochemical products will be traded in Iranian Rials, as well as all other hard currencies, the statement quoted Iranian Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari as saying. About 20 brokers are already active in the market, it said.

Iran has already registered for another oil bourse, in which it has said it hopes to trade oil in Euros instead of dollars, to reduce any American influence over the Islamic Republic's economy.

A bourse official, Mahdi Karbasian, told the IRNA official news agency that such an oil market would begin operating within the next year.


The newly-inaugurated oil stock exchange is part of a two-phase project approved by Iranian cabinet.

Based on the approval, products of Iran's Oil Ministry should be traded through stock market in two forms which are the crude oil stock market and the oil and petrochemical products stock market.


Iran hopes that its oil goods exchange can lead the way for a domestic downstream industry to match its upstream crude oil production, the country's main foreign currency revenue winner.

But it has failed to gain a significant share in the world export market because of state control of its petrochemical industry and state subsidies.

It doesn't seem to make much sense to me either. If you want a downstream industry, you invest in a downstream business. Thailand has a very successful petrochemical industry without Iran's gas resources or a bourse.

The barriers cited state control and subsidies don't seem to be directly addresed by a bourse. And the main reason why Iran has failed to gain a significant share of global petrochemical markets is because they haven't finished building their plants yet. You pretty much need to be producing petrochemicals to be a major player in petrochemical markets.

Iran's potential petrochemical industry will just produce a huge slate of undifferentiated commodity chemicals that trade on world markets at global prices. What posible function is an exchange going to serve that individual companies can't?

It may be an attempt to control centralize distribution or avoid corruption, but is otherwise meaningless. It is clear that the only products that will be traded are of Iranian origin. Saudi Arabia and other producers have nothing to gain by adding Iran as a middleman in their supply chains, let alone wanted the additional exposures to risk.

NPR: Putin Has Defied Expectations of a Short Reign
On New Year's Eve 1999, Yeltsin appeared on national television to announce his surprise resignation and the appointment of Putin as acting president. ...

Recknagel, Charles, "Iraq: Baghdad Moves to Euro," Radio Free Europe, November 1, 2000


Barack Obama Was Once a Lowly Law-Firm Associate | Article Blog ... did a deep dive into Barack’s days as a lawyer at Miner, Barnhill & Galland. ... Sidley Austin, where he had summered, but instead chose Miner Barnhill. ... www.gmercu.com/articleblog/barack-obama-was-once-a-lowly-law-firm-associate

Sidley Austin, where he had summered, but instead chose Miner Barnhill. ...

During 2000, we had an election. Greenspan kept raising interest rates claiming there was inflation. I, personally, saw little inflation. He did claim he was calming the stock markets but they were already beginning to decline at that point. I surmised, he wanted to brake the economy to make Gore look bad.

The fact is, the minute the Supreme Court installed Bush that very week, he began to aggressively, very aggressively lower rates. Then, after 9/11, they plunged.

On Wednesday morning, September 12, the entire Chicago office (Sidley Austin) met with the local management committee members. It was an unprecedented meeting-everyone in the office attended. When it was announced that the firm's insurance policies had just been renewed and doubled on September 1, 2001, applause filled the room. The insurance policies not only covered reconstruction costs for the files but for the organization's valuable art collection and personal effects as well.

March 17 2003 Iraq Invasion

February 17, 2008 Iran Oil Borse opens. Rumor to trade in Rubles.

Spain protests to Russia over Putin Kosovo remarks

1 day ago

MADRID (AFP) — Spain protested to Russia Friday over remarks by President Vladimir Putin in which he likened the situation in Kosovo to that in Spain's Basque and Catalan regions, said a foreign ministry source.

Iran, Russia expected to finalize gas cartel in June

The charter for the proposed "OGEC" is backed by a consortium of gas-producing countries, led by Russia and Iran. The charter would be submitted for approval at the seventh annual Gas Exporting Countries Forum held in Moscow in June.


If a gas cartel is able to raise the price of natural gas it will likely lead to more nations switching to coal for power generation.

Isn't this about the 100th time they have started this bourse in the last three years and the rest of the world just gave a big yawn?

That's exctly the problem. Complacency. If the world yawns and nods off, we could wake up to a whole new game. It's happened before, it will happen again.

Wouldn't the big money brokers just keep on doing business in NYC, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, etc? If the Iranians insist on selling their products exclusively through their own bourse then they could be shooting themselves in their own economic foot. What other oil exporter is going to bother with selling their goods only at the store in Iran? That is the reason for the big yawn.

Exactly. The only difference between trading through an established exchange, or directly with suppliers, is the massive risk involved in passing funds through a country that ain't exactly Switzerland.

If your choices are buy a certain product at a certain price, or buying the same product at the same price, but risking losing all your money, it is not a hard decision.

Dumb and Dumber: Are Americans Hostile to Knowledge?

But now, Ms. Jacoby said, something different is happening: anti-intellectualism (the attitude that “too much learning can be a dangerous thing”) and anti-rationalism (“the idea that there is no such things as evidence or fact, just opinion”) have fused in a particularly insidious way.

Not only are citizens ignorant about essential scientific, civic and cultural knowledge, she said, but they also don’t think it matters.

In other news:

"Jamie Lynn Spears took her dog to the vet over the weekend where the paps caught a couple shots of her. From what I understand, when the Jamie Lynn comes out of hiding one of two things happen: A. She sees her shadow and there's six more weeks of winter. B. She doesn't see her shadow and the farmers have a kickass harvest or something. I dunno. I was never good at growing stuff..."

Grandpa Spears demonstrates crazy is hereditary
More: Jamie Lynn Spears, Lynne Spears, pregnancy



Very sad commentary. Published in the New York Times, of course, the flagship of anti-intellectual drivel and deliberate dissimulation.

Part of this is a deliberate plan to dumb down the population to make us more compliant consumers and more grateful subjects of the Empire. Part of it is the technological imperative of computers and screens and software that makes images pass by us faster than we can process them -- so we are always struggling to keep up with the new, new thing and losing track of any fundamental reality. Part of it is just human laziness -- it really is just fine to sit on the couch and read the Internet (TheOilDrum being my particular addiction) or watch TV while eating salt and grease pre-packaged by the fast-food industry.

I don't myself think we need more intellectuals -- we need more people who are willing to talk to each other IN PERSON, IN COMMUNITY and who will work at real projects like gardens and barn raisings and house construction, and who know how do DO REAL THINGS, like hang sheetrock and raise sheep and grow vegetables. I'll take the old format Mother Earth News to The New York Review of Books any day.

And yes, I do think that kids should know where Kazakhstan is, and yes, my kids did well in school, in part because they were encouraged by great teachers at a time when education was seen as important and parents were expected to participate in the education of their kids (which is now turned over to edu- info- tainment corporations teaching a curriculum defined by those same corporations).

I can easily imagine that a world with less oil and reduced energy throughput could be a much better world. There is no going back, of course -- but forward on the same trajectory has looked dismal to me since Soylent Green defined it so many years ago. Harry Harrison and Richard Fleischer were as prescient in their own way as our patron saint M.King Hubbert

Bill Moyers Interviews Susan Jacoby



Susan Jacoby hits the nail on the head. Unreason and anti intellectualism run rampant in the U.S.A.. I attribute it to the local control of education which means that logic and reasoning can not be taught below the college level since it is a threat to religion, which has a lot of local power, and to parental control as seen from the parents point of view. And now with religion gaining national power to the point that claiming the U.S. is a "Christian" nation (in complete violation of the Constitution) is accepted with out question by some. Most high school graduates don't have a clue about the scientific method or logical thinking which is an order of magnitude more important than "knowledge" IMO. Knowledge can re redicovered if lost or forgotten especially in the internet age. But the ability to recognize fallacious reasoning is indispensable and if most can't do it the situation goes from bad to worse. It is not easy to recognize faulty reasoning when the majority embrace it as in religion and politics. As I have pointed many times it even rums rampant here at TOD with regard to issues surrounding Peak Oil (especially EROEI and ethanol).

And I attribute it to State and Federal control which means that lobbyists for educational corporations set the agenda and the curriculum, and teachers are forced to teach to mindless, anti-intellectual tests, and parents have been reduced to cyphers.

The control by the Religious Right is exerted at the central government level. Local communities are much more sensible, because the people there have their boots on the ground, not walking all over everyone else.

Couldn't agree more about standardized testing. The Feds have gamed the entire public education system so that teachers are forced to teach to the tests. Those who attempt to step outside those narrowly defined boundaries are relentlessly drummed out of the current system because they may cost their schools significant public funds.

You can't blame religion. Recently American universities have become hotbeds of anti intellectuailsm. They try to tell students what they can and can't discuss in the name of left wing orthodoxy.

What exactly is "left wing orthodoxy?" That is a Rush Limbaugh concept in my opinion.

What has destroyed universities is their coziness with global corporations. At the Univ. of Oregon, the the "orthodox" position is not "marxist" or whatever passes for "left wing" these days. It is Nike-speak.

Left wing orthodoxy is married gay couples performing abortions under an anti-war banner. When they aren't working, they ride public transit or in hybrids. At home they smoke dope and shun good old Jack Daniels. They preach nonsense like the universe isn't 6000 years old and fossil fuels are finite.

Don't forget, welfare for their 11 children. :)

And gun control-it is every god fearing Murrikan's right to own as many assault rifles, machine guns and automatic pistols as the baby Jesus thought he should.

Strawman argument. Made you feel good, but not necessarily helpful in constraining the violence inherent in mankind. Certainly strange that big corparations get a pass when something like this happens. It seems in most of these massacres pharmaceuticals played a large role in the mental makeup of the murderers. Start there as uncomfortable as it might be for a large part of the American populace it still needs to be addressed regardless of how many millions big pharma gives to the "good guys" on capitol hill.

Ex: Yes, they are almost always legally doped. Having said that, I don't see the logic in allowing retards to own automatic weapons that can fire off 100 rounds quickly. Where is the need or purpose?

"retards" Do you mean mentally challenged? I own an AR-15 I target shoot with it, but its purpose is self-defense. Say for example a mob forms with the self justification of its pursuit of "justice" but instead disrupts the peace and takes after its perceived enemies and maybe that is me, well I for one am going to pursue my right to life. Liberals would be well served by reviewing the civil rights debates of the 1860s and 1870s, perhaps the strongest logic for gun ownership ever. Besides the picture of Jack Kennedy standing in the boat with an M-16 showed a certain elan.

Haven't you heard of speech codes and the like. Mind you me information may be out of date.

left wing orthodoxy

A.K.A. science, observation, and empiricism. The wingnuts are upset that their anti-intellectual drivel gets short shrift at universities. Unfortunately, they are making headway, which is part of the reason for the decline of American intellectual standards.

Any college course that contains the word "Studies" is probably a worthless lefty endeavor. Who are the purveyors of Politcal Correctness nowadays? Now I realize that this site leans left, but must it stoop to the placation of of the left's wooliest shriekers? Because who knows the next time the Evolution debate takes place here someone might mention genetics (yes genetics)and then all hell might break loose and we might get the recital of Steve Gould's "Magic Evolution" which strangely coincides with Ben Stein's version. Of course I write this next to an ad blurb from the UCoC so perhaps they can tell me when exactly Evolution stopped. So I implore you dear TODers keep it to oil depletion instead of polemical moralization, and avoid the hard questions that would follow. Like, how many Democratic voters actually believe in Charles Darwin's Evolution and other such inconvienient questions. BTW many thanks to the great minds here who inform on this issue of divergence of supply and demand related to hydrocarbons.

Ex: Saying this site "leans left" doesn't prove it-show your evidence. Start off by defining "left". My first guess is that you define an American voter against the Iraq adventure because it has been a massive theft from the taxpayer to be "left". I could say you lean toward being a retard, but I would still need to prove it.

I'm a rightist for lack of better terms and I opposed the war in Iraq.

Any college course that contains the word "Studies" is probably a worthless lefty endeavor.

Pure hyperbole without any basis in truth. What is "lefty" anyway? How does lefty differ from "righty".

Who are the purveyors of Politcal Correctness nowadays?

True, it is mostly those on the left but that is not because they are on the left, it is because liberals just naturally have more empathy than those right leaning gun toting wing nuts. But I am one card carrying bleeding heart liberal who also hates political correctness. And there are multitudes like me. (The card in "card carrying" is a library card. As a general rule right wing nut cases do not frequent libraries.)

Because who knows the next time the Evolution debate takes place here someone might mention genetics (yes genetics)and then all hell might break loose and we might get the recital of Steve Gould's "Magic Evolution" which strangely coincides with Ben Stein's version.

What the hell are you talking about? I have read almost everything Stephen Jay Gould ever wrote and I never heard of "Magic Evolution". I am a Dawkins fan which means I disagree with a many things Gould wrote. (Gould preached political correctness at every opportunity and was dead wrong in most cases, but don't get me started on that.) But Gould was a Darwinist without exception and Stein is a right wing nut case, not an evolutionist. Gould, were he alive today, would detest everything Stein is saying about evolution.

Note: Gould hated the genetics debate but Dawkins loves it. That was the main point of contention between Gould and Dawkins. Gould could not accept the fact that intelligence is a heritable characteristic because of his political correctness. Dawkins, E.O. Wilson, Maynard Smith and almost every other biologists of note accepted the obvious, that intelligence is a heritable characteristic. But of course ALL were/are liberals including both Gould and Dawkins. After all, most all highly intelligent people are liberals. ;-)

. Like, how many Democratic voters actually believe in Charles Darwin's Evolution and other such inconvienient questions.

Well, I can tell you that far more right wing republicans are creationists than democrats. And it is not Charles Darwin's Evolution, it is science's evolution! Darwin, along with Wallace, discovered evolution, he did not invent it. But you are mistaking evolution with natural selection. Natural selection is a process, evolution is history.

Ron Patterson

Hardly. Most are pushing 'Scientific socialism' which is about as scientific as creationism, but try saying that in a univ faculty. what has observation empiricism given us this century. Marxism deconstructionalism etc. Part of the reason for the failures in the third world is that their leaders implimented half baked ideologies learnt at western universities.

I am thankful for Bill Moyers, and I can't disagree with Susan Jacoby. Language is crucial to the success of a society -- people, after all, are just the stories they tell. How you tell your story determines your success or failure.

That, by the way, is something that I have learned from the Religious Right, not the whiney-ass "liberals" who have betrayed the courage of their convictions.

In our present American society perception and reality are often extremely difficult concepts to separate.

I would argue that the recent tech and housing bubbles were object lessons about this idea, and the sort of mass delusion that this blending requires.

Unfortunately, there are these ugly things called 'facts' that tend to force people to accept a reality which no longer matches their perceptions.

Unfortunately, there are these ugly things called 'facts' that tend to force people to accept a reality

Not true.

Haven't you heard the come back lines like:

1) That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
2) Don't confuse me with the facts.

People can and do stick to their fantasy stories all the way through the bitter end even though the stories conflict with real world observations. All one has to do is to reject the observations and continue to stick to the fantasy tale. Simple as that.

During the market crash of 1929, I wonder how many suicide jumpers were thinking this on their way down: What goes down usaully bounces right back up, it's always worked like that before.

I think it would be great if folks could communicate as you describe, IN PERSON, IN COMMUNITY. I've tried that for decades and found many times it's a futile effort. You can't communicate with people who do not understand what you are talking about and those lacking in sufficient education simply can not understand. I've almost nothing to say to those that 40% or so of the U. S. population that thinks the Earth is only 6k years old, as they also see spirits, ghosts and miracles as a normal part of their world. That is, they think the Laws of Nature can be changed by these unseen actors and that this happens on a regular basis. They think their "gods" will provide them what they need for survival and are not willing to think "outside the box", as it were, to face the realities of engineering and science. That portion of society responds by ignoring that which goes against their world view. They have their own schools or home schools, including now, universities, which perpetuate their belief system from one generation to the next.

In my local situation, one of my neighbors has decided to give me "the cold shoulder" and has literally walked out of a room when I arrive, refusing to recognize that he was in a building I owned. He's Catholic and I suppose he has decided to "ex-communicate" me. Of course, he won't tell me the reason for his actions. He thinks I'm an "EPAer", which is the local name given to an environmentalist. Yes, I worry about pollution and Climate Change, but so does almost all the scientific community. Considering that he lived in Los Angeles for a time, I wonder what he thinks about human life on this Earth. Of course, he is "educating" his boy with such thinking, making the kid into a clone of himself. It's sad, really.

Susan Jacoby is probably right about the failures of our education system. I hope she finds an audience who can do something about the problem. Maybe we need to admit that we can't educate everybody and that some will get left behind so that the others can make it.

E. Swanson

I've tried that for decades and found many times it's a futile effort. You can't communicate with people who do not understand what you are talking about and those lacking in sufficient education simply can not understand. I've almost nothing to say to those that 40% or so of the U. S. population that thinks the Earth is only 6k years old, as they also see spirits, ghosts and miracles as a normal part of their world.

The perhaps sad reality is that "decades" isn't long enough. The forces of ignorance and unreason are just as determined, and just as immortal as the forces of truth and reason. I think the Manicheans and the Zoroastrians were on to something -- but they were suppressed by an earlier "surge" of political and militarized religion

It is an article of faith that "truth will out" -- but it is not guaranteed. And the struggle seems to be eternal. Why someone would choose to live in a polluted, degraded world, and leave the place to his kids in worse shape than he found it is beyond my comprehension. But it appears to be a historical fact.

Our job appears to be to continue the struggle. Not just to complain about our adversaries.

Our job appears to be to continue the struggle.

Two of the 7 deadly sins are Pride (vanity) and Sloth (laziness).

Americans are proud to live in the "best" country in the world.

Americans are also proud of their short attention spans and abilities to comprehend all things vital from 3 minutes a day of misinformative MSM news roundups.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of unreason, it was the epoch of misinformation, in short it was like all other times an era of short attention spans and great hubris ...

I've tried that for decades and found many times it's a futile effort. You can't communicate with people who do not understand what you are talking about

Black Dog,

This is an aspect of Peak Oil that I find most fascinating:

Why, why do their eyes glaze over?

Peak Oil itself is easy to understand. Finite planet, growing number of straws trying to suck the nectar out out of deeper depths, etc. The logical, rational conclusion is obvious although the exact timing may be hard to pinpoint.

But the thing that is harder to fathom is why our fellow human beings behave so bizarrely when you try to tell them. It's a reality shaking event all by itself when you try to tell family members or friends and suddenly you realize you yourself are living in a delusion because you always thought "they" were rational.

And before you conclude that it's all a matter of being better "educated", think again. My experience has been that some of the smartest, more educated people I know are also the most resistant to the message.

Education has very little to do with it. It's more a matter of what core beliefs and stories (or "models") are executing in your fellow man's head.

I will venture to guess that 99% of them have the i_will_survive story running in their heads. Evolution sort of dictates that this would be the prime directive.

Next, 98% of them have this subroutine running directly under it:
i_will_survive_because_society_will_provide_me with_my_needs_for_survival

What I mean by "society" in that meme is that you start substituting all sorts of definitions, starting with society=mommy when you were a babe.

As you grow older, you are forced to substitute in some other definition like: society=The_Market or society=The_Government or

The Peak Oil story says that "society" will no longer provide. And that runs right up against the i_will_survive directive.

Of course, the last result is unacceptable. And therefore one's eyes glaze over. This person ranting to me about Peak Oil is clearly a nut and I will hear no more.

Communication channel closed.

It's all about mortality, that's where it started. How many of us realize the breath you are inhaling right now could very well be your last. Death is something that happens to other people. Or it happens after a long and pleasant life. Ignoring death is what we are well trained at, and we have learned to use the ability to ignore as much unpleasantness as we can.

Speaking of unpleasantness, I have bad news and good news.

The bad news is that your insight on last breath made me choke on the Big Red I had in my mouth and no one in the room knew Heimlich.

The good news is that there is internet access in Heaven and thus I continue to haunt the TOD pages forever and ever. :-)

First prime directive (commandment)= to survive as a one
Second prime directive (commandment)= to continue one's being
Third prime directive (commandment)= to maintain supremacy and dominion

See here for rest of commandments

I'd agree with the idea that the plan is to dumb down the majority of future generations.

I would things one step further and argue that these less intellectual generations will be exploited by the elites for an endless pool of slave labor and draft fodder to fight resource wars in as many corners as possible.

Bunker, April 1945:

'My Fuhrer, we must stop this: Already 20,000 junior officers have fallen'.

'My dear General, that is what young men are for.'...

Remember: low grade education and front line conscription are good choices (for other peoples' children).

I'd agree with the idea that the plan is to dumb down the majority of future generations.

I would things one step further and argue that these less intellectual generations will be exploited by the elites for an endless pool of slave labor and draft fodder to fight resource wars in as many corners as possible.

I'm afraid you have put your finger on something that is very close to the truth.

If a people want to be free, then educating themselves is essential. We probably should have had it in the Bill of Rights: "An informed citizenry being essential to the preservation of liberty, the right of the people to educate themselves shall not be infringed."

Note that I use the phrase "educating themselves". A big part of our problem is this notion that education is something done to someone else. Something is being done to people all right, but it isn't education. If you want to be truly free, then you need the freedom that comes from learning on your own initiative.

"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." (John 8:32) Free people don't wait around for the truth to be told them, though -- they exercise their freedom by taking the initiative of learning it for themselves.

WNC Observer said:

Note that I use the phrase "educating themselves". A big part of our problem is this notion that education is something done to someone else. Something is being done to people all right, but it isn't education. If you want to be truly free, then you need the freedom that comes from learning on your own initiative.

Absolutely spot on.

One of my pet hates is when people talk in terms of 'educating' others in the sense of causing them to agree with the self-appointed educator, usually in the service of some theory the person holds, such as the more loony fringes of the green movement.

This is indoctrination, not empowering with the tools for examining issues and reaching their own conclusions.

Messiaen was particularly impressive in this regard, in spite of his own fervent Catholicism he accepted his pupils and trained them with complete disregard for their own often atheist viewpoints.

That is a real educator, rare and to be treasured.

Those who seek to abuse education by expecting that their own thoughts will be echoed are frauds and imposters and an affliction to the human spirit.

Part of this is a deliberate plan to dumb down the population to make us more compliant consumers and more grateful subjects of the Empire.

Never, is this just hyperbole on your part or do you really believe this? Do you really believe that there is a deliberate plan or conspiracy, by "The Powers That Be", whomever they are, to dumb down the population and make them; compliant consumers and more grateful subjects of the Empire?

Deep in your heart Never, do you really believe that? Please tell me you were just trying to be funny and never really meant a word of what you wrote about "part of this". (I largely agree with the rest of your post, or "the technological part".) Because if you were not just trying to be funny, if you really meant it, and enough others agree with you, then the US is in far worse shape than Susan Jacoby ever imagined.

Ron Patterson

Honestly, Ron, I don't know. I probably should have said "may be" instead of "is". But I think that Naomi Klein, for example, is pretty savvy, and the current excesses of the financial system are more than just the chance workings of an invisible, dis-embodied greedy hand.

Yes, I think that we are being set up to be more compliant consumers and grateful subjects of the Empire -- and I don't know, nor would it help to know, who is setting us up. I do know that in the first day or so after 9-11, the Presidential instruction was to "go shopping." I still remember the horror I felt when I heard that. The American Public has never been asked, let alone instructed, to sacrifice anything in the defense of liberty and freedom. It seems counterintuitive to me -- and not the least bit funny.

'But I think that Naomi Klein, for example, is pretty savvy, and the current excesses of the financial system are more than just the chance workings of an invisible, disembodied greedy hand.' Does anyone out there believe that the Fed under Greenspan and now Bernanke did/do not know what the outcome of Fed actions coupled with Wall St Bankers actions would be? To believe that these experienced Harvard MBAs did not know what the results of their actions would be is to lable them incompetent, ignorant, uneducated, etc,...pick your favorite adjective. Now, US banks are in a situation where they cannot lend money below the 'official' rate of inflation without losing their shirts. Why? Because the statistics are lies. The official rate of inflation is a HUGE LIE. The bankers are certainly smart enough to recognize their present predicament and consequently money is tight...But, we are supposed to believe that the Fed and Wall St did not understand that their previous and current actions would not lead to the possible destruction of the US economy? I am not buying it.

I could post many links in this space to back up this assertion or belief or hunch or whatever one wishes to call it...Instead I will link an op/ed piece froms todays Daytona Beach News Journal by Elliot Spitzer, Governor of New York. This was originally written for the Washington Post.

...snip...'Not only did the Bush administration do nothing to protect consumers, it embarked on an aggressive and unprecedented campaign to prevent states from protecting their residents from the very problems to which the federal government was turning a blind eye.

Let me explain: The administration accomplished this feat through an obscure federal agency called the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). The OCC has been in existence since the Civil War. Its mission is to ensure the fiscal soundness of national banks. For 140 years, the OCC examined the books of national banks to make sure they were balanced, an important but uncontroversial function. But a few years ago, for the first time in its history, the OCC was used as a tool against consumers.

In 2003, during the height of the predatory lending crisis, the OCC invoked a clause from the 1863 National Bank Act to issue formal opinions preempting all state predatory lending laws, thereby rendering them inoperative. The OCC also promulgated new rules that prevented states from enforcing any of their own consumer protection laws against national banks. The federal government's actions were so egregious and so unprecedented that all 50 state attorneys general, and all 50 state banking superintendents, actively fought the new rules.

But the unanimous opposition of the 50 states did not deter, or even slow, the Bush administration in its goal of protecting the banks. In fact, when my office opened an investigation of possible discrimination in mortgage lending by a number of banks, the OCC filed a federal lawsuit to stop the investigation.'...snip...


then the US is in far worse shape than Susan Jacoby ever imagined

Panem et circenses

I believe it.

Not perhaps an over-arching concerted conspiracy by a controlling mind or minds, but very a good method of curbing a cynical, questioning youthful generation. Which are then suitable candidates for corporate entities.

The 'customer' of education is not the individual student. It is the corporate world.

'You make 'em dumb' Said the politician to the priest. 'And I'll make 'em poor'.

If they are all natural wage slaves, burdened by college debt, put on the mortgage treadmill and brought up never to question authority, inculcated with faux patriotism and Christian /Islam / (insert stupid religion here) lies, you have an ideal workforce / armed force.

Dont forget. This is the last battle. And we dont want a 'brainwashed-minion gap' to happen.

BTW: The British Army are to send its last 1000 man active duty reserve to Kosovo very soon. The toy box is empty and curiously enough, there are few recruits coming forward, and many (esp Snr Non Com and Junior Com Officers) getting out.

Next few years will be scary. The Only way The UKMOD will staff up to full strength will be:

a) Pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq and re-train
b) National Service
c) Create a depression so bad that the Army is a good career bet.

In the UK, National Service will be very difficult to pull off since the burden will fall on the white and afro-caribean cohort. The Muslim cohort will be exempt on concientious grounds. So a general levee-en-masse will be difficult to pull off and create no end of cultural tension.

But I am getting ahead of myself here.

After all, we are merely discussing 'edgerkashun'...

Aren't we?

Mudlogger: I agree. You didn't mention the lifelong drugging of the population, which is being extended to children as young as three years old. How many are old enough to remember when doctors weren't glorified drug pushers?

We will soon get fluoride in our water.

On 'health grounds'.

Keeps ya docile though, dont it?

Keeps my teeth nice. By the time my grandparents were as old as I am now, they were using plastic choppers.

I had an interesting conversation with a dentist once.

He said my teeth were in pretty good shape for a man of my age.

He said you have lived beyond the life of your teeth.

It goes like this:

you grow up.

you reproduce.

you stick around to help your kid(s) reproduce.

you die, and get out of the way.

teeth are generally good for about 43 years.

that kind of fits.

Any dentists listening in tonight?

I'm not a dentist, but I don't think that's correct. I suspect the problem with teeth is our diet. We did not evolve to eat so much sugar and grain. That's what rots your teeth.

There's no evidence that the natural human lifespan is only 43 years. Quite the opposite. It's probably closer to the Biblical "three score and ten." Where life expectancy is 40 years, it's due to high infant mortality.

Among the factors that suggests humans are meant to live longer than 40 years: menopause. Most animals do not have it. It has evolved only in a handful long-lived and highly social species. Even our closest relatives, the chimps, do not suffer menopause. Male chimps find old females far more sexually attractive than young ones, because old females are just as fertile and more likely to be successful mothers due to their experience.

Maybe the old females cant run as fast as the young ones? :)

Back in the '60s I remember thinking after seeing pictures of natives in different areas how incredible their teeth were. Pure white. Missing sometimes but I was struck on how incredible some of their teeth were.

I thought. Diet.

Keeps ya docile though, dont it?

I think there is a program coming soon on UK TV trying to stop people drinking bottled water!

After all, we are merely discussing 'edgerkashun'... Aren't we?

In the Lemmings Lands it is an "Edge Occasion" that convinces young conscripts to sign up for the front lines so they can be one of the few, the proud, the Maroons; those who refuse to cut and run like cowards but instead stay the course and surge over the cliffs for God and country.

On a more serious note, I don't think there is a thought out and scripted conspiracy. On the other hand, there are certain fundamental myths that run through our culture; one of them teaching about being a good soldier and giving "service" to one's country with unquestioning loyalty (isn't that John McCain's main election pitch?). It sounds so noble. Except the "nobles" don't volunteer their children for such service. Only the proles are too short sighted to step back and see the big picture. So every year or next generation there is fresh cropload of them ready to charge for the cliffs. It's good for the economy. Keeps the HailBrutuston Corporation in business.

I believe there is a "bread and circuses" aspect to public policy in the US. I think this is one of the explanation for the endless stream of happy talk from the media. TPTB would prefer a people that focus on TV, shopping, and paying off their debts, and who pay little attention to politics (except as guided by TPTB). It is possible now to manufacture consent, and TPTB do exactly that.

I just want to second Ron's point. Here in the UK, politicians of all shades want what they think of as an intelligent, educated population (partly because it's clear that we're not going to be regaining manufacturing jobs soon). The problem is that these politicians think "intelligent, educated" what they imagine is knowing huge rote lists of facts and, to the extent that they think for themselves, agreeing with the politician's views and goals. It's a general human failing to believe that if only someone was educated enough their views would be exactly the same as yours, but it seems to magnified in politicians.

If I had to pick one dominant factor in the UK's decline in general education (which I believe has happened despite official statistics), I'd say it's primarily that it's very clear that having an education is not particularly advantageous in modern Britain (you can go on Big Brother and make your career "being a celebrity"! etc) so one of the big carrots encouraging young adults to apply themselves has gone. Contrast that with, say, India where acheiving a good education can dramatically change your life and look at how it motivates the students. Whilst I can't stand politicians, in the UK I don't think they're the major problem. Dunno about the US.

They just decided to nix the Oral Exam for language students in the UK.

Something to do with being 'too stressful'.

They already stopped kids from doing Chemistry Lab work (elf n safety).

Still, we should be grateful for the 10,000 Psychology graduates we shovel out each year (and dont forget the English and History graduates that we produce in equal numbers).

I always thought that English and History were hobbies, not degrees.

Maybe I can sit one tomorrow. In my coffee break.

I am from India and have joined the Oildrum recently. Read about PO a couple of years back and suspect that the current $100/barrel has something to with it. My curiosity brought me to the Oildrum.

Coming the main point in question - the dumbing down of America, I would recommend a compendium of essays under just the very name - ISBN 0-393-31723-4 (Dumbing Down; Essays on the strip mining of American Culture). Very eye opening, even if anecdotal for the most part.

I personally don't think that there is a huge conspiracy to keep people dumb. It's just that making people intelligent, curious and questioning is hard work and time consuming. The infusion of corporate culture into universities is horrible because corporates want instant results in a narrowly defined area. They also want things "simple" - sound bites rather than well thought out reasoning. Money talks loud and clear. As your government goes bankrupt due to its spectacular fiscal policies, universities will have to depend more and more on corporate spending to keep themselves afloat. And with that goes academic independence.

India is mentioned as well. What happens under the guise of education in India is rote learning for the most part. Education is about helping children think for themselves, but that also means that they challenge authority and ask uncomfortable questions. So there goes that. Most kids don't have access to quality education. India claims an official literacy rate of about 67%, but functional literacy is altogether another question. Pure sciences and the arts are for losers. For the most part only those that have no other option in life become teachers.

We have the right wing parties emerging as well with the objective of defining India as a "Hindu" nation. They tried their best at distorting history and science text books in school to suit their agenda. India is dumbing down rapidly as well as people now return to superstition with a vengeance. Houses are built to "Vaastu Shaastra" to make sure that you get good luck. The Hindu religion itself is one of the most questioning of all major religions - in fact the Song of Creation wonders if God created man or man created the gods. Such niceties are however lost on unthinking people. I'm sorry to burst your India bubble. It's possible that most of the Indians you've met or come across are intelligent and articulate, but it's possibly a skewed sample.

Darwinian -

There may not be a literal all-out conspiracy to dumb down America, in the sense of an anonymous group of evil elders in black robes arrayed around a medieval table lit by dim torch light and chanting demonic verses.

However, I think there is a very persuasive argument that the people who really run the US (i.e., the more senior of the political class, plus the leaders of major industry and finance, plus their silent money backers) have no interest in an enlightened populous, and quite the contrary, would rather have a docile, ignorant populous that can be easily led in one direction or another.

To that end, the forces in the US that are capable of causing things to happen will tend to push things in a direction advantageous to themselves. And if that means supporting and funding an educational system that tends to create an unthinking, accepting, and unimaginative consumerist proletariat (in all the negative connotations that very word evokes) accepting of total government authority, then why should it surprise you that such appears to be the trajectory of education in the US today?

[T]he people who really run the US (i.e., the more senior of the political class, plus the leaders of major industry and finance, plus their silent money backers) have no interest in an enlightened populous, and quite the contrary, would rather have a docile, ignorant populous

Actually it is a fundamental tenet of capitalism that we each become a "specialist" in some tiny area of work or occupation. Becaue we each tend to stick to our own "knitting", keep our nose to the grindstone, we can't step back and see the bigger picture.

The "political class, plus the leaders of major industry and finance, plus their silent money backers" are just as myopic in this regard as are most of the populous (save of course for the wide-eyed readers of TOD).

It's not a conspiracy. It's an energy minimizing aspect of the system. It takes less energy to know and understand less. It takes more energy to learn more, to think harder and to debate things out as opposed to simply going along with the crowd (a.k.a. the mainstream).

I will simply remind people that there is absolutely nothing preventing a person from educating themselves broadly so that they can acquire the ability to see the big picture. It is not easy, it does take considerable initiative, and obviously those gifted with above average intelligence will find it easier than others, but it can be done. Which raises the question: given that it can be done, to what extent are those who fail to take the initiative to remedy their own ignorance responsible for their ignorance? To what extent can they really fairly blame "the system", and to what extent should they fairly blame no one but themselves?

[T]here is absolutely nothing preventing a person from educating themselves broadly

That kind of assertion always reminds me of a Far Side cartoon showing a dog on a unicycle atop the high wire in the big tent with all eyes staring up at him and no safety net below.

The caption reads: "As Rex began the routine, a nagging thought began to vex him. This was a new trick and after all he was an old dog."

The time to learn is when you are young. But that is exactly the time that the system (the government) imprisons you and forces certain dogma down your throat, like that stuff about "free markets" and economics and work hard and you'll be rewarded.

By the time you start figuring it out, you're an old dog and it's too late. I hope there are some young people out there reading TOD, not just us old geezers.

"...the US is in far worse shape than Susan Jacoby ever imagined."

The only time I've seen education improve is when Sputnik was launched.

Not more than three years later, I remember getting new math, science books.

then the US is in far worse shape than Susan Jacoby ever imagined

Well, I hate to break the bad news to you Ron, but yes, the US is in far worse shape than Jacoby ever imagined. I don't think that even one person in a thousand grasps how far we've already declined and how many and huge are the problems that we face. We are already very, very far gone, and there is little reason for confidence or optimism when one takes a cold, hard look at either our citizenry or our leaders.

If a future Gibbon ever writes a history of the US, he will place our time period well within the "decline" phase, and far closer to the "fall" than any of us today care to imagine.

I am reminded of a point made by Alvin Toffler in "The Third Wave". Advanced digital technology will make literacy and numerancy unneccesary for a large percentage of the work force. How much algebra does a burger flipper need to know? How much political theory does the garbage man need to know. Here in Iowa most the most common help wanted ad is for truck drivers. At the other extreme how many recombinant DNA scientists, quantum physicists, or even MBAs does the whole world really need? I doubt it is even 1% of the world's population. This country wastes too many education dollars on freshman college students who should really be in some on the job training program. There should be a higher standard than just the ability to get a student loan for admission to a 4 year degree program.

This country wastes too many education dollars on freshman college students who should really be in some on the job training program.

This presumes that the purpose of a higher education is to give the student work skills. It's a valid world view, but there is a tradition that an educated populace is valuable to society in general. Of course, given the huge cost of education in the US this may be impractical regardless of whether one views it as desirable.

This presumes that the purpose of a higher education is to give the student work skills

Work is the problem, not the solution - work more, consume more, devastate the worlds ecology more, increase efficiency with fossil fuels so the work produces much more ... and on and on!

Which raises an even darker thought: Given continuing advances in the development of robotics and artificial intelligence, how many of the 99% of the population that will eventually and inevitably be made redundant will even still be needed?

Sounds like an excerpt from an episode of The Simpsons:

Homer: ....And how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain. Remember when I took that home winemaking course, and I forgot how to drive?

Shocking! Oh, no that's not right. What's that other word ... hmmm, oh yeah, obvious.

The following quote is the first paragraph of a letter from Albert Einstein on the occasion of the death of Emma Noether.

The full letter can be viewed here:

source: http://www-groups.dcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/~history/Obits2/Noether_Emmy_Eins...

To the Editor of The New York Times:
The efforts of most human-beings are consumed in the struggle for their daily bread, but most of those who are, either through fortune or some special gift, relieved of this struggle are largely absorbed in further improving their worldly lot. Beneath the effort directed toward the accumulation of worldly goods lies all too frequently the illusion that this is the most substantial and desirable end to be achieved; but there is, fortunately, a minority composed of those who recognize early in their lives that the most beautiful and satisfying experiences open to humankind are not derived from the outside, but are bound up with the development of the individual's own feeling, thinking and acting. The genuine artists, investigators and thinkers have always been persons of this kind. However inconspicuously the life of these individuals runs its course, none the less the fruits of their endeavors are the most valuable contributions which one generation can make to its successors.

A friend of mine,a math wizard explained his view of society thus"When you define a set,there is always whats outside the set".Its all where you put the edge of what you are defining.Population growth alone will ensure a large number of those who have less than what most would think of as a "full deck".Add to that the fact that stupidity will not kill you as fast as it used to,and the general pop.is not educated to think any more....the powers that be have always mistrusted a educated,thinking work force...they tend to want things like health care,and a larger slice of the pie as things go on...some say the dumbing down of the population was intentional,following the Chinese ideal of keeping the worker bee type content dumb,and happy...and much easer to control

Then,all you have to control is public opinion

Does this parallel anything seen today?

"No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public." - H.L. Mencken

Things have gotten a lot worse since Mencken's day. There is just no way the American people will accept the reality of the coming decline in fossil fuels. They will insist that science will come up with something. Already CERA and others insist that technology will bring new life to old tired fields and put an end to all this peak oil gossip.

But I blame a lot on political correctness. We never hear anyone criticize religion but religion is the primary culprit in this "anti science" campaign.

Ms. Jacoby also blames religious fundamentalism’s antipathy toward science, as she grieves over surveys that show that nearly two-thirds of Americans want creationism to be taught along with evolution.

Yet you seldom if ever hear or read anything in the mainstream media criticizing religion. It is just not politically correct to do so. And it is not just the fundamentalists, it is also mainstream religion. The Catholic Church preaches no birth control and in doing so denies there is any population problem in the world. Mainstream religion is in many ways no better than the snake handling holy rollers. One kind of ignorance is just as bad as another.

Ron Patterson

Things have gotten a lot worse since Mencken's day.

No doubt. I'm really looking forward to Jacoby's book. However, I suspect it's a little reductionist. In the Times article she mentioned the defining moment for writing the book: the Pearl Harbor/Vietnam thing. Perhaps a little too pat, a little like like a sound bite?

As for fluoride, ritalin, brainwashing etc. Take a look at what old Louis Althusser said about the idealogical state apparatus. Now that's left wing. Not that I subscribe to any of that commie stuff, but it does make interesting reading and it's really reductionist, not like Jello 1-2-3 reductionism.

You can blame "political correctness" - an extremely malleable concept that seems to mean whatever the speaker wants it to mean - or you could just decide that the MSM have an interest in promoting religiosity, stupefaction and obscurantism.

You can blame "political correctness" - an extremely malleable concept that seems to mean whatever the speaker wants it to mean...

Well no, it is not a malleable concept at all. Political correctness means to not offend any social group whatsoever. If any group of people takes offense at your comment then your "politically incorrect". There is absolutely nothing mallable about political correctness oldhippie, it is the most rigid of concepts, I am shocked that you do not understand that.

- or you could just decide that the MSM have an interest in promoting religiosity, stupefaction and obscurantism.

Really now? And how would that benefit MSM? And just why are you blaming political correctness on MSM? On the contrary, political correctness is forced on MSM. MSM are the wimps who knuckle under to the pressure of political correctness, not the enforcers of the concept.

When Jane Fonda recently used the "C" word instead of "Virgina" on TV, it was the audience that was offended, not MSM. http://www.showbizspy.com/2008/02/15/jane-fonda-responds-to-her-cnt-remark/
And it was the audience that demanded an apology and got it, not MSM. MSM are not the perpetrators of political correctness, they are the victims. True, they may not have to be such wimps but they are nevertheless.

Ron Patterson

The most rigid thing I have noticed is the attitude of those quick to call a charge of political correctness.

Your notion that the MSM has no interests, works in the interests of no one in particular, is acted on rather than being an actor - well, that is amusing.

Myself I get slammed all the time for being excessively incorrect and for enforcing correctness. I think it's an empty concept. An empty concept that is useful to some.

"There is absolutely nothing mallable about political correctness oldhippie, it is the most rigid of concepts, I am shocked that you do not understand that."

Ron, you're a smart poster in many areas, but your own rigidity with definitions like these is mystifying.

'Political Correctness' is the rallying cry for a broad range of people who are told their behavior or speech was inappropriate. The malleability is the fact that some of the defended behavior is just uncomfortable or unseemly, while other actions are actually abusive, threatening or slanderous. To you, it comes down to 'offend no social groups- period' which is exactly the rigidity that lets the actual dividing lines between what we could distinguish as 'free speech vs hate speech' to be unattended while the P.C. football is getting 'Rushed' and 'O'Reilly'd' around the field..


Yet you seldom if ever hear or read anything in the mainstream media criticizing religion. It is just not politically correct to do so.

Are you really sure it's political correctness rather than that there is a large religious contingent in the US with powerful lobby groups and large spending power? (It'd be political correctness if you could criticise them without repercussions other than hurt feelings and didn't to avoid the hurt feelings.) Likewise, I've seen spokespeople for Italian-American's very upset by "The Sopranos", claiming it perpetuates a harmful, untrue stereotype of Italian-Americans. If people were living by this all-pervading political correctness, these hurt feeling would have resulted in it being pulled. Yet it wasn't, because those hurt feelings didn't come with any actual negative effects for HBO, etc.

I think there's too big a tendency to blame political correctness rather than the simple fact that most people/companies care just about the bottom line, so you don't challenge those who can hurt you in some financial way. Those who can't, they get whatever you want to say regardless of PC.

Are you really sure it's political correctness rather than that there is a large religious contingent in the US with powerful lobby groups and large spending power?

Of course you are absolutely correct here. What you don't seem to understand is that this is the perfect definition of political correctness. You have just described my argument in a nutshell. Political correctness is basically pressure from virtually every ethnic, religious, or whatever group in America saying "do not offend me or you will have hell to pay!"

And political correctness is not an entity, not someone or something you can blame. I mean that it has no mind of its own. It is more like a disease. We have over-corrected for the days of civil rights violations. We saw so many people unjustly persecuted that we are now afraid of criticizing any group of people for anything. Witness the reluctance of criticizing radical Moslems for advocating a holy war.

I think there's too big a tendency to blame political correctness rather than the simple fact that most people/companies care just about the bottom line, so you don't challenge those who can hurt you in some financial way. Those who can't, they get whatever you want to say regardless of PC.

Again, that is political correctness! When you are pressured into what is considered correct speech, for whatever reason, that is political correctness. When Italian Americans, African Americans American Moslems, or whomever threaten to boycott your product, station or whatever unless you speak correctly, that is the epitome of political correctness.

Ron Patterson

Hi Ron,

One might ask: why do you feel you have the right to offend people?

You (may) respond: it's a free country! So I have the right to offend anyone I like, after all the first amendment, free speech, etc etc.

But of course that cuts both ways. You offend the Italian-Americans, they call you an intolerant a**hole, you cry Political Correctness gone mad! But aren't the Italian-Americans or whoever just exercising their rights too? Aren't they also just exercising their rights when they pressure HBO to drop the Sopranos? Are you saying people shouldn't oppose something if it offends the hell out of them? Why shouldn't I pressure HBO is I feel like it? Why shouldn't I refuse to watch the network if it does something I don't like? God knows we pathetic consumers have little enough power as it is.

Another example: the Dixie Chicks lambasted Bush, the wing nuts burned their records and refused to play them on WingNut FM, the left rushed out and bought their records instead.

That's how free societies work.

Unless you're claiming that somehow the forces of PC (whoever they might be) have some sort of unfair advantage I don't see the point of complaining.

My take on PC is that for the most part it is just good manners in a multi-cultural age. Sure some people take it to excess, but people are always taking things to excess.

There are a lot of existential problems facing humanity at the moment, Political Correctness isn't one of them.


Bados, you are certainly correct when you state that Political Correctness is not one of the existential problems facing humanity. It is merely a thorn in the side of anyone who tries to express a science such as natural selection or anything else that offends the religious community, or anything that offends anyone. You can be politically correct or you can be scientifically correct, but you cannot be both.

You might remember a discussion on this list a couple of months back when one person, (out of respect for her I will not give her name), argued that there race could not be genetically determined and that basically there was no such thing as race. That was nothing but political correctness gone to seed. No one with the slightest bit of knowledge of genetics would ever try to defend such an absurd position. Yet you can find such a position defended in many places on the net. (Of course you can find anything on the net.)

But the point is that political correctness debases science in the same way that creationism debases science. In fact the respect that people give to creationism as well as other religious myths is perfect proof of the damage political correctness causes. Political correctness is not the cause of the dumbness of most Americans but it certainly stands in the way of it being corrected. Why do you think two thirds of the people in America think creationism should be taught in schools?

Anyway, I am busy listening to the links 710 just posted:
and don't have time for more comments tonight. This is a gold mine of good listening.

Ron Patterson

I disagree, I think Political correctness cuts to the heart of a free society. We lance it or it will destroy us, and we will become like the former eastern block countries, where you always had somebody spying on what you said. Recently Tony Blair tried to make it illegal to critise religion(meaning Islam)In the US don't you have a thing called the first ammendment? Have hate spech codes been questioned in court.

When you are pressured into what is considered correct speech, for whatever reason, that is political correctness.

That's not how the allegation of "political correctness" is generally used in my experience. The key's in the word "political". It's generally used to describe pejoratively "liberals" who don't want anyone to take offense at what they say and so carefully avoid anything they think someone could take offense at, regardless of what might happen if they did. The classic "PC gone mad" story, at least in the UK, generally has someone in authority being offended on behalf of the group who might have taken offence (eg, the hearing TV producer who says a comic can't do a joke featuring deaf people). And in the UK most of the time it's a more complicated story that a journalist hasn't bothered to properly investigate but has gone with the feel good headline "PC gone mad".

Perhaps one is pressured into "correct" speech by no more than civility?
Those who insist on offensive speech are at best boors. Why are the boors allowed to say that any restriction on their boorishness is somehow political?
Those who get excessive in demands for constant decorum may be called prickly. Or overly sensitive. They may be unpleasant persons and you don't have to like them.

The notion that "political correctness" has magically empowered minorities to bully majorities is ridiculous. The tail does not wag the dog.

But the right wing seems to be flapping the eagle lately.

The notion that "political correctness" has magically empowered minorities to bully majorities is ridiculous. The tail does not wag the dog.

Right, that is why Stem Cell Research is being funded on such a high level. As usual Oldhippie, you are totally out of touch with reality.

Here is the ultimate in political correctness, a perfect example of the tail wagging the dog.

Ron Patterson

Stem cell research???? OK sure. WTF?

Video clips of Bill O'Reilly? When did Bill last intersect reality?

Can you grasp the concept that persons with little power do not issue orders to persons with more power? Is that hard?

You should stop watching Fox in any case. At Fox the weak and poor are always seen to be abusing the strong and rich something terrible. If you believe anything you see on Fox tails wag dogs all the time.

OK I watched your Fox video.
Bill O'Reilly and Sam Harris gas for five minutes about a totally self-referenced universe that doesn't line up with objective reality at all. It's the Fox Universe. If that's where you live now Ron...........

It has a lot to do with the current climate of religion and faith.

The Four Horsemen hour 1
The Four Horsemen hour 2
(Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, highly recommended viewing)

The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason
(Sam Harris)

Beyond Belief 2006
(Neil deGrasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and slew of others)

Yes, it also has to do with media, education, politics, and corporate profiteering. But a large onus belongs on religion and faith, and people are reluctant to bring it up out of fear of being "rude" or "insensitive".

Personally, I consider it rude and insensitive that I had to spend years digging out of my head those fairy tales that I was raised to believe were literal and true.

The juice and cracker ceremonies have some nice pageantry, some artistic merit, but it's all form and no substance if taken literally, which too many do, making it part of the problem.

710, thanks a million for these links. The first link has links to many others. I shall get hours of good listening from these. All this is grist for my mill.

Thanks again,

Ron Patterson

Hunger is a great motivator. Perhaps when they get hungry they will attempt to find out why. Then there are always those that will starve if their plate is moved a couple of feet.

I remember hearing in the 70s that by the 90s we'd have artificial intelligence. I heard the same thing in the 80s about the turn of the century. I heard the same thing in the 90s about 2015.

AI is the technology of the future, and it always will be.

That depends on what one means by "AI". There is a tremendous amount of intellectual content in today's programs, starting with the systems which check hard drives for errors all the way thru Windows to the users of word processors and spread sheets. It's just that we don't have robots running around like humans cooking, running vacuum cleaners and cutting the grass. Don't forget the massive amount of programming which is incorporated in the latest video games, even though it's not visible. The "robots" are alive and well on screen.

E. Swanson

did you read the report? is it AI or direct manipulation of human brains?

UK's Northern Rock bank, which has been ailing for months, is to be nationalised, the BBC reports:


"UK taxpayers are now subsidising the bank in loans and guarantees to other lenders to the tune of about £55bn" That's equivalent to about $1900 for every person in Britain. I see that The Automatic Earth has reported a rumour that another UK lending bank, the Bradford & Bingley, may also be in trouble.

Northern Rock bank collapse is sort of scary. But, here is one that is beyond scary...down right hair raising. I dont know who this group is or their agenda but they can sure put together a hair raising graph...maybe they should be writing scripts for horror stories? Make sure you are sitting down if you look at it...they are predicting the second half of 2008 as TEOTWAWKI.

GEAB N°22 is available! Global systemic crisis / September 2008 - Phase of collapse of US real economy
- Public announcement GEAB N°22 (February 16, 2008) -


...snip...'In the United States, this new tipping point will translate into a collapse of the real economy, final socio-economic stage of the serial bursting of the housing and financial bubbles (1) and of the pursuance of the US dollar fall. The collapse of US real economy means the virtual freeze of the American economic machinery: private and public bankruptcies in large numbers, companies and public services closing down massively (2),'...snip...

Crazy talk language, automated translation or both?

Presumably not just to raise a laugh, Chancellor Alistair Darling has said "the public would gain if the government held on to Northern Rock until market conditions improved". BBC business editor Robert Peston said that shareholders "would get next to nothing" for their shares.

Re River's comments on the leap2020 report, I have posted some comments on The Automatic Earth where this is featured. Basically their prediction of a year ago on what would happen in 2007 was way over the top in terms of the speed and extent of economic collapse. This does not inspire confidence in the current predictions.

As if the distinction between whether it happens in 2008 rather than 2007 has some meaning in comparison to the size of crisis that's going to break. Don't get hung up on the timing, no one is going to get that correct, it matters little because of the magnitude of the impending problem. All that matters is getting out of its way, playing chicken with it will only add to the amount of road kill.

A bit like a guy lying on a beach watching a tsunami coming in saying, "look at those idiots running away, I can get at least another 5 minutes on the beach". Would the risk be worth it?

Hi Burgundy,

I generally agree with you and said so in the post on TAE - that most or all of the consequences they forecast will happen nonetheless, but not as soon as they forecast. Rather like Kunstler, they predict crashes too soon and too fast, and risk credibility as a result. Those like us who know the consequences are indeed coming, prepare for them while hoping we have a little more time than some forecast.

Burgundy/DrBob...I admire your fortitude in the face of what is coming. I, too, have taken steps to attempt to avoid the worst of what is in store for us...But, I have little faith that what any of us do 'to get out of the way of the onrushing train' will be of much help...How can one avoid the consequences of a total lock up of the US financial system? A total shut down of US Business? How many millions of Americans will be on the streets demanding bread? What force could contain these millions of people? The Natl Guard, the military, the police,...if these forces, and their families, are not being fed they will be among the millions on the streets causing havoc. Well, after a few weeks many will be dead and the price of Brent or WTI will probably drop...demand destruction.

You know, I have watched George W Bush about as closely as any citizen can. I have read several psychiatry/psychologocal evaluations of him. I have watched his talks, not because I was interested so much in what he said, but because I was trying to understand what makes him tick. I have read his unauthorized biography. I have read about all in his family going back to his great grandfather. I have heard Laura Bush say of her mother in law that 'she is like the godfather of the family.' When Jeb Bush was nearing the end Governership of Florida I heard Barbara Bush say 'No, Jeb will not be running for President.' I marveled as George was elected to a second term as President. I read interviews of his college classmates...'He didnt seem to fit in with any group'...'He always had the best blow on campus', etc. I read about his business failures and how there was always a Saudi, a Baker, or someone to clean up his messes. What conclusions have I drawn from watching our President? None, really. But, I do have some hunches drawn from seeing similar behavior by other people that I have known personally...Could it be that George had a terrible childhood because he was born into a family of over achievers and he was seen and treated as less than a desireable offspring?...And, could it be that George has spent his adult life in a sly attempt to 'get even' for his childhood and adolescent treatment by striking back at all of America? I dont know and I doubt that his father and mother know.

I too have researched GWB and came to the conclusion that his life has lead him to this place of being the perfect sock puppet.

It's who ever has their hand up his arss/sock that we need to keep an eye on.

You don't need to go that far.
A tight grip is good enough.

He is a puppet. And he doesn't even realize that he is a puppet. That is the beauty of it for the puppetmasters.


Don't get hung up on the timing, no one is going to get that correct,

As you say, nobody can predict the future precisely.

But how did they do in general terms with their predictions made a year ago (ignoring the specific timing):

1. Acceleration of the pace and size of bankruptcies among US financial organisations … since late 2006 > 220 major lending operations have ‘imploded’
2. Spectacular rise of US home foreclosures … up by ~75%
3. Accelerating collapse of housing prices in the US … yes
4. Entry into recession of the US economy … Recession has now arrived or will very shortly," Jan Hatzius, the chief U.S. economist for Goldman Sachs, wrote
5. Precipitous rate cut by the US Federal Reserve … yes, biggest rate cut in 18 years
6. Growing importance of China-USA trade conflicts … The G7 has repeatedly called for an adjustment in global trade imbalances, including a rise in the renminbi
7. China's shift out of US dollars / Yen carry trade reversal … China indicated it could begin to diversify reserves away from the US dollar and government bonds
8. Sudden drop of US dollar value against Euro, Yuan and Yen … $/Euro from 0.76 to 0.66, a fall of >13%
9. Tumble of Sterling Pound … £/Euro from 1.50 to 1.35, a fall of >12%

I hope their skill/luck(?) runs out ... soon!

A Sign of the Future ?

My corner grocery store, Zara's, has started buying fruit (satsumas, grapefruit, lemons) by a local very part-time dealer who collects them from small orchards (part-time, someone had a couple of acres and planted them in citrus) and homeowners with a handful of trees locally and comes by the store after calling ahead to see if there is a need. Quite tasty (Louisiana mud has more nutrients than Florida sand and gives a different taste :-) but often cosmetically challenged. Hit or miss, it supplements the regular channels.

Zara's already had established connections with commercial (full time) local growers.

Best Hopes for Local Fruit,


One good step down the road Alan.
It'sGood News.

Watch this puppy run…


Grenades thrown at EU buildings as Kosovo celebrates independence
Last updated at 18:06pm on 17th February 2008

Comments (2)

Hand grenades were thrown at buildings of the European Union and United Nations in the Kosovo Serb stronghold city of Mitrovica, after Kosovo declared independence with EU backing earlier today.
One grenade caused no significant damage, a Western source in the city said as EU officials evacuated their building, which houses the team preparing a mission to supervise Kosovo's independence.
Police sources said a vehicle belonging to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) was damaged in the blast at the UN carpark.
French troops of the NATO-led peacekeeping force KFOR have prepared concrete and wire barriers to close off the bridges dividing Albanians and Serbs in Mitrovica in case of clashes.

Kosovo is a quagmire, we should pull our troops out now.

Kosovo was always a quagmire and we now have a huge military base there.

You are all going to love this. Enbridge is our natural gas suppler.

Critic says new Enbridge fee 'outrageous'

Enbridge is set to charge its Ontario customers a new fee to help pay the costs of an out-of-court settlement. In 2004, the Supreme Court ruled against the natural gas company -- for charging unfair fees.

The Supreme Court found that the company had billed illegal late-payment penalties from 1994 to 2002. The fees had been approved by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB).

The company agreed to pay $22 million in a settlement, but the OEB said Enbridge now has the right to reclaim that money, even if it's from the same customers it overcharged.

"It's outrageous that a company engaged in and essentially convicted of a criminal act would then ask its customers to pay for that act," he told CTV News.

Re: Redrawing world's wine maps.

During the Medival Warm Period wine grapes were grown all the way up to the top of England. Sounds like a good thing to me, it was for them then.

If I'm not mistaken, there are actually a couple of vineyards up in the North of England nowadays as well.

I'm no expert, but I suspect that there may well have been factors other than just plain climate that led to wine production oop North in the medieval period.


Archeologists found wine growing paraphinalia near York a few years ago.

vin du Attercliff was the rage :-)

I've always thought that the medieval warm period/english wine production connection was a bit of a red herring.

The biggest impetus for a domestic UK wine industry was, er, the Norman conquest; and the biggest factor in the UK wine industry's destruction was the dissolution of the monasteries ( who were major wine producers in the middle ages ).

The argument has always been if 'wine' has to be grapes and no other sugars - as the French and others would argue. Its particularly petty since that just favours sunny climates. You can make wonderful booze from all sorts of things that are more designed for high latitudes.

For example these guys are state of the art:



Care-no-more is what we drink at Christmas dinner.

The Autumn Oakleaf and Elderflowers are especially good.

But pass on the rasberry and other fruit wines (way too sweet)

Wine production in Britain appears to go back to Roman times. The remains of a vineyard have been found in Northamptonshire:


Vineyards during the medieval period were linked to the church for producing wine for the sacrement and as stated the dissolution of the monastries under Henry the Eighth appears to have been the main reason for the vineyards disappearing.

I live as the crow flies under a mile from a major Norman Cathedral. The road at the back is still named 'vineyard road', according to an historian friend of mine, it was the road of the vineyard that started production in the late 1100's.

Keeping up the tradition I have four savignon blanc vines (okay should cabernet!) and have brought them to harvest in the past two years to a sugar content equivalent of 12.5% alcohol. Not bad for middle England.

By the way some good tales around of disorder caused by monks around some of the monastic vineyards in medieval times.

In the mid 14th Century the Little Ice ushered in 5 centuries of cold weather, which destroyed the vinyards. By the time the climate recovered the habit of growing vines had been lost. Even now there are enough wet summers to make the business precarious.

I think you will need to provide some sort of proof for that statement. There were several large volcanic eruptions during that period which had profound impacts over short periods of time, such as the ones at about 1259 ad others in 1453, 1601 and 1815. Then too, there was the Maunder Minimum in sunspot activity between 1645 and 1715 and the Dalton Minimum between 1795 and 1820. Given these various influences, I don't think it's reasonable to stretch the known cold period in Europe to an entire span of 5 centuries.

Where are your scientific data? You ARE motivated by a search for truth, aren't you?

E. Swanson

There is proof in that the cold weather in the mid 14th century caused famines and general malnutrition which left the population in poor shape to withstand the Black Death. Throughout the late middle ages the river Thames in London froze over in winter. The Arctic ice cap almost reached Northern Scotland.

Your comments are not proof of anything. I asked for some accepted data source, not right wing nut disinformation. The Arctic sea-ice may have extended as far south as Scotland and the Thames was known to freeze, but the timing of these situations is important. The scientific temperature data does not show that climate was locked into that sort of mode for a full 5 centuries, as you have suggested. Sure, there have been short term fluctuations, such as the Year Without Summer in 1816 or the extreme cold in China after 1453, but these were exceptions. Most of all, these reports were not global in extent, only local to Europe or China.

Where's your precise time line? Where's your data?

E. Swanson

Black_Dog, let me ask you something. How is it that when someone posts something you disagree with, or you want evidence for, that somehow this is automatically "right wing nut disinformation"? I don't see the connection. Besides, why is it that anything right wing is automatically nonsence? Can not one claim that anything left wing is just as much nonsence?

He's right. The medieval warm period was global, warmer than now, and lasted some 400 years. The following little ice age was also global, and lasted some 500 years ending some time around 1870 and we have been warming since. Now I'd post references to this to give the evidence, but you will just sluff it off as "right wing nut disinformation".

The monastries did all sorts of useful stuff. They were the industrial powerhouses of the time. They did:

Herding,tanning, woolen industry
Mining, smelting and forgeing.
Law, accountancy, banking, architecture, masonry and engineeering.
Medicine and hospitalling.

And of course brewing and distilling.

All that and Vespers too....

dorme bien.

As they are today, in even greater numbers than the MWP.

Here is a regional vineyard listing for England from englishwineproducers.com.

None of this shows that a warming climate that allows more wine grapes to be grown at higher latitudes is bad. Sounds like a good thing does it not?

Britain third worst in EU for use of renewable energy

The scale of the renewable energy challenge facing Britain was revealed yesterday by figures showing Britain installed about 270 solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on houses in 2007, compared with 130,000 in Germany.

Northern Rock to be nationalised

The Treasury today announced that the beleaguered bank Northern Rock will be nationalised.

In a statement, the chancellor, Alistair Darling, said that "under the current market conditions" neither of the two last-minute bids - submitted by Richard Branson's Virgin consortium and the Northern Rock management team - delivered "sufficient value for money to the taxpayer".

It marks the failure of the government to reach a deal with the private sector over the future of the bank. Emergency legislation will now be rushed through parliament.

Mr Darling said the move met "our objective of protecting taxpayers' interests".

He said he had been told by the Financial Services Authority that the bank was solvent and that its mortgage book remained of good quality.


Yeah, right! Looks like the Brits take it up the Angus on this one.

Look on the bright side.

I am now an investor, as is my wife, and to the tune of £3500 each.

Also, my currently tax paying son, and my soon to be tax paying daughter.

As is every tax payer in the land.

Current liability?

110 billion.


Frankly, cross hatched snubbed-nose bullets through a lung are too good for these b(w)ankers.

MUDLOGGER...Our dear leaders have seen fit to invest all future generations in the asylum...Not only do we get to live in it, we are obliged to pay for it. But, as I type this I am distracted by two ads to the left of the page. One is for DIVIDENDINVESTOR encouraging me to 'fortify my portfolio for the long haul', below that is 'United Church of Christ' with the phrase 'Even Churches Evolve.' Perhaps it isnt an asylum at all that we are in, perhaps we are but lots of hens in a giant hen house encircled by crooked bankers/politicians interspersed with religous lunatics. After all, the word asylum brings to mind a place of peace and tranquillity...with the occasional frontal lobotomy. Yeah, I think we are in a hen house surrounded by scoundrels of several stripes. If the sky really falls, as chicken little said, we inside the house might be better off than those on the outside. BTW, do you think that those that purchase ad space on this site read any of the posts here? :)

Wheat market gone wild

Decades from now, farmers will still talk about this week - the moment when wheat in Minneapolis soared to nearly $20 a bushel.

Like a 100-year flood, spring wheat prices have risen relentlessly all winter, obliterating every record in sight. At the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, wheat fever pushed prices to $19.80 a bushel in trading Friday - nearly triple the record from 1996.

To grain experts, it's a warning of what happens when grain supplies don't keep up with rising demand. Fear of scarcity and shortage push markets far beyond any norm...

..."People are desperate," Kub said. "You definitely heard stories from out in the country of elevators offering $20 a bushel and getting no sellers. ... You hear people tossing around the words 'wheat hoarding.' "

Wheat market gone wild

Will they be putting out a video?

Traders reveal all in this wildest video yet!

I believe it's on Fox. Straight after "When Bankers Go Bad!"

But wait! If you order now you also receive 'HOW SUBPRIME LOANS CAN IMPROVE YOUR SEX LIFE' absolutely free! All for only $19.95 plus $16.95 for shipping and handling. Order now! Dont delay!

(this offer not good in states that contain a vowel in their name)

(caution: side effects may include, but are not limited to bankruptcy, divorce, suicidal tendencies, sleeplessness, living under a bridge, snapishness, hungry children, and anguished spouses)


Brazil’s rationing nightmare

Observers have been warning for some time that Brazil faces electricity shortages as early as this year. Rationing is among the government’s worst nightmares. The previous administration was booted out by the electorate in 2002 largely because that year’s rationing – a result of low rainfall and bad management – branded it as the ”blackout government”.

This government insists that rationing is not a threat. The industry thinks otherwise. Rowe Michels and colleagues at Bear Stearns in New York recently issued a report showing that ”a perfect storm of four worst-case scenarios” could force the government to ration supplies as early as May this year. Conspiring together are shortages of natural gas, especially from Bolivia; a faster-than-expected rate of growth in demand; unusually low rainfall since the rainy season failed to get underway in November; and delays in delivering new generating capacity.

In fact, the report concludes, rationing is already here, in the form of high prices for those large industrial users who buy electricity on short-term contracts and who account for a quarter of electricity use in Brazil. Prices hit the permitted ceiling last month, forcing some users such as aluminium smelters to shut down part of their capacity.


Most climate models predict that the Amazon basin will become much drier over the next 50 years, possibly dry enough to turn sections of the rain forest into savanna over time. Not good for Brazil and its chronic electricity shortages....

The Most Dangerous Speech in America

Huey Long's "Barbecue Speech" where he attacks Standard Oil and the top 2%. He was shortly therafter assassinated.


(If you have a problem, right click on the video, select options, and set buffer to 60 seconds.)

Hello TODers,

Interesting link below, I just wish this person would explain more justification for his conclusion on phosphates:

AGRIBUSINESS [02/17/2008]
Morocco, strategic for the fertilizer industry

...Eduardo Daher, director at the National Association for the Promotion of Fertilizers and Lime, says that the lack of phosphates in the world should take place before the lack of oil...

...Daher foes further, stating that everyone speaks about the lack of oil, but that lack of phosphates is going to take place before. In this respect, Morocco, which has the largest reserves in the world and is the main exporter, plays a leading role.

"Phosphate runs the risk of running out before petroleum does," José Oswaldo Siqueira, professor of soil microbiology at the Federal University of Lavras, told a bio-energy conference held Sep. 26 in Sao Paulo.

If the Arab countries lose the power they hold in the world's oil markets, they will maintain it with phosphate, which will also become scarce and expensive, the expert predicts. It would not be surprising if an organization of phosphate-exporting nations were to emerge, a la OPEC, he jokes.

In a message to the United States Congress in 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt underscored the importance of phosphate to agriculture and people.

"The phosphorus content of our land, following generations of cultivation, has greatly diminished," President Roosevelt said. "It needs replenishing. I cannot over-emphasize the importance of phosphorus not only to agriculture and soil conservation but also the physical health and economic security of the people of the nation. Many of our soil deposits are deficient in phosphorus, thus causing low yield and poor quality of crops and pastures…"

Phosphate is a limited resource that cannot be replaced. As such, an international group of earth science and mineral resource agencies have designated it a strategic mineral resource. This group includes Australia, Canada, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Republic of South Africa and the United States of America.

"The International Strategic Minerals Inventory Summary Report - Phosphate" (USGS Circular 930-C) is a cooperative effort of this international group and published in 1984 by the U.S. Geological Survey

Although the United States is currently producing more phosphate rock than Morocco, Morocco’s phosphate reserves are estimated to be nearly six times that of the United States. Looking toward the future, this puts Morocco in a very advantageous position to become the leading player in the mining of phosphate.

Without energy--it is very difficult to mine, beneficiate, and distribute Phosphate and Potassium [P & K] globally.

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

Hello TODers,

From Mexican Energy Secretary Georgina Kessel:

She said that in two years oil companies operating in the United States will begin to exploit oil deposits on the maritime border with Mexico, so they will be able to take advantage of part of the hydrocarbons in fields located in Mexican waters through the straw effect.

Developing an oil project in deep waters -from exploration to extraction of the first barrel of oil -takes around 9.5 years, which means that "we could be a victim of the straw effect."

From vague memory: didn't Kuwait and Iran superstraw Iraqi fields causing two different wars?

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

Unsustainable soil mining: past, present and future
Written by Peter Salonius

Editor's note: I first heard about "mining the soil" in the 1970s from my father Dan Lundberg regarding ethanol, and we enjoyed injecting the term into the Lundberg Letter in our analyses of alcohol fuels. The article that follows is Part Two of Peter Salonius's two-part series, and goes far beyond alcohol fuels. The first part, "Intensive crop culture for high population is unsustainable", was released as our previous email to the Culture Change list and is accessible through the link at the bottom of this article. - JL


Human settlement has increased food production by progressively converting complex, self-managing natural ecosystems with tight nutrient cycles into simplified, intensively managed agricultural ecosystems that are subject to nutrient leaching. (Most agriculture is unsustainable in the long term.)

Conventional stem wood forest harvesting is now poised to be replaced by intensive harvesting of biomass to substitute for increasingly scarce non-renewable fossil fuels. Removal of nutrient-rich forest biomass (harvesting of slash) can not be sustained in the long term.


[Key Words: soil nutrient depletion, biomass harvesting, site productivity]

i assume that japan's edo period method of recycling pee/poo as ag fertilizer could be implemented worldwide?? using composting toilets or whatever.

as such, wouldn't non-industrial agriculture using this method become completely sustainable? or at least, 99% more sustainable than current petro methods? i'm sure there is still some energy loss, although with the sun giving energy to plants directly there must be some net benefit..

i plan to try this out in a scientific test...

one tomato (or other) plant with my personally contributed fertilizer; the other without.