DrumBeat: February 26, 2008

Oil Rises Above $100 to Record Close After the Dollar Declines

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil rose above $100 a barrel to a record close in New York as the U.S. dollar fell to an all-time low against the euro, prompting some traders to invest in commodities as a hedge against inflation.

... Crude oil for April delivery rose $1.65, or 1.7 percent, to settle at $100.88 a barrel at 2:48 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was the highest close since trading began in 1983. Prices touched $101.06 a barrel today. Futures reached $101.32 a barrel on Feb. 20, a record intraday price. Prices are up 64 percent from a year ago.

Brent crude for April settlement rose $1.78, or 1.8 percent, to $99.47 a barrel on London's ICE Futures Europe exchange, a record close. Futures reached $99.75 a barrel, the highest since trading began in 1988.

Worries grow for worse 'stagflation'

WASHINGTON (AP) - It's a toxic economic mix the nation hasn't seen in three decades: Prices are speeding upward at the fastest pace in a quarter century, even as the economy loses steam.

Economists call the disease "stagflation," and they're worried it might be coming back.

Gazprom makes foray into coal-generated electricity

MOSCOW: Gazprom, the world's largest producer of natural gas, said Tuesday it acquired a major Russian coal company in an asset swap that extended Gazprom's sprawling domestic business empire into the electricity market.

Gazprom's acquisition of Siberian Energy and Coal Company, the largest coal producer in Russia by volume, marks a major foray for Gazprom into coal. The move is part of a long-term industrial strategy to increase the use of coal in domestic electricity generation and home heating to free more natural gas for export.

StatoilHydro confirms blowout of 16 bln nkr Statfjord field revamp budget

OSLO (Thomson Financial) - Norwegian oil and gas group StatoilHydro ASA confirmed that cost overruns of the budgeted 16.1 bln nkr renovation of its Statfjord oil and gas field in the North Sea could amount to several billion crowns.

"It's correct. There has been inflation since the project was begun in 2005. A lot of this project is related to future production drilling which is impacted by higher drilling rig rates and inflation in the sector," said StatoilHydro communication chief Ola Morten Aanestad.

Italy ENI's interest waning in oil sands, CEO says

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (Reuters) - Italian energy company Eni's enthusiasm for the Canadian oil sands sector is waning, its chief executive said on Tuesday, citing high costs and environmental concerns.

PEMEX in Death Throes Amid Political Squabbling

MEXICO CITY (IPS) - Mexico’s state oil company, PEMEX, is broke, and the country’s crude oil reserves will run out in less than 10 years. But although local politicians agree on the diagnosis, few are proposing solutions, while recriminations, by contrast, are flying thick and fast.

US: Won't Be Easy to Collect $31B

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A U.S. Interior Department official said Tuesday that the government may have a hard time collecting as much as $31 billion in royalty payments for leases issued in the late 1990s unless a court decision that rejected the government's right to the payments is reversed.

Japan: Fuel cell experiment to start at 150 households in Fukuoka

FUKUOKA — The Fukuoka prefectural government said Tuesday it will start an experiment using fuel cells at 150 households in two housing complexes, which it claims will be the world's first example of setting up household fuel cell systems on such a scale, with 100 units in a single concentrated area.

U.S. govt has no plans to stop adding emergency oil

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Despite record crude oil prices above $100 a barrel, the U.S. Energy Department told Congress on Tuesday it had no plans to stop adding about 70,000 barrels per day of oil to America's emergency oil stockpile.

Katharine Fredriksen, who heads the department's Office of Policy and International Affairs, told the Senate Energy Committee that the Strategic Petroleum Reserve should reach a record 700.7 million barrels of oil by the end of March.

Many energy experts and U.S. lawmakers are against boosting the emergency oil stockpile at this time, saying taking oil off the market pushes crude prices higher.

Democrat Jeff Bingaman, who chairs the Senate energy panel, said the government should actually withdraw oil from the stockpile to put more supplies in the market.

Oil prices and the dollar

The depreciation of the US dollar has been closely bound up with the movement of oil prices, as world oil trade is typically denominated in dollars. Yet this relationship may now be under threat as the dollar continues to depreciate and the US economy tips into recession.

Shell Offered Air Permit for Rig in Beaufort Sea

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc, the biggest winner in an Alaskan lease sale this month, was offered an air- quality permit for a drilling rig in the Arctic's Beaufort Sea.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a so- called ``minor'' permit to regulate air emissions from Shell's Kulluk floating rig offshore the Alaska coast, the agency said in a statement late yesterday.

The future is bright, the future is green

Conventional energy investments over the past 10 years have seen strong returns as global demand for fossil fuels has increased. The thirst for oil from emerging economies such as China and India has been a significant driver - and a reason why it broke through the $100 a barrel barrier this week - but so has the fact that existing oil reserves are declining faster than new ones are being discovered.

One of the consequences of the rising price of fossil fuels has been to make alternative forms of energy generation such as wind and solar more economically viable and global concerns about climate change and energy security only look set to accelerate this trend.

Gazprom Threatens to Cut Ukraine Gas Supplies March 3

(Bloomberg) -- OAO Gazprom, Russia's natural-gas exporter, threatened to cut supplies of the fuel to Ukraine March 3 if an accord on the repayment of debt isn't signed by next week.

State-run Gazprom will reduce deliveries by 25 percent at 10 a.m. that day if Ukraine doesn't sign an agreement reached Feb. 12 on debt and future deliveries, spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said in an e-mailed statement today.

Opec to shun increase as US slows

A combination of economic slowdown in the United States and a seasonal fall in consumption will hit oil demand and Opec will not increase output when it meets next week, the producer group's president said on Tuesday.

'I can tell you they are not going to increase production because there are plenty of stocks,' OPEC President Chakib Khelil told Reuters.

'Gasoline stocks are high, then we have a second quarter reduction in demand and with the economic situtation in the US, probably a recession, demand will definitely fall, maybe not by much.'

Venezuelan oil byproducts supply to the US down 23.8 percent

The downward trend the Venezuelan oil byproducts supply to the US recorded during 2007 remained unchanged in December and, in this way, annual average sales went down from 277,000 bpd in 2006 to 211,000 bpd in 2007, thus dropping 66,000 bpd or 23.8 percent.

Consequently, falling oil byproducts shipments pushed down total Venezuelan hydrocarbon sales to the United States. Based on the monthly report published by the Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the US Department of Energy, in 2006 Venezuelan crude oil and byproducts shipments to the Unites States totaled some 1.42 million bpd. In 2007, however, the figure declined 4 percent to 1.36 million bpd.

Nigeria: Petrochina Quits Bid for Shell's OML 125 Block

Few months after China National Offshore Oil Corporation Ltd (CNOOC Ltd) withdrew its bid for the Royal Dutch Shell OML 125, PetroChina, China's largest oil firm has also quit its bid for the same block.

Both companies were told that their bids, at around $300 million to $400 million, were too low for Shell's nearly 50 per cent stake in block OML 125, the Beijing-based source familiar with the matter said.

Ice melt means spike in Coast Guard Arctic operations

Coast Guard officials say they have no official opinion about the human role in global warming — do carbon emissions worsen it, can its effects be slowed — but whatever the cause, there is water in the Arctic where there used to be ice. That means more ships can now use waterways that have long been frozen, and if they have trouble, the Coast Guard will get more calls for help.

Mexico's oil output falls, Pemex needs cash infusion

Coatzacoalcos, Mexico - Oil output in Mexico, the third-biggest supplier to the US, is declining, and the state company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) lacks the technology to explore for new reserves. For many the answer seems simple: more capital.

But now that senators have begun debating ways to attain that capital – a top priority of President Felipe Calderón – resistance has mounted, particularly to the idea to allowing in private enterprise.

Kunstler: Still Pretending

I feel sorry for the next president. Even as he takes his oath of office, the nation will be flying apart like a seized-up engine. Since the fiasco in finance is happening in lock-step with Peak Oil (and very likely because of it at a fundamental level) we can expect one of the distortions to take the form of oil shortages. These shortages will come not just from demand bottlenecks in a stressed-out world oil allocation system, but because exporting nations will start demanding payment in Euros or something besides the depreciating currency that reflects our disintegration, and we'll have a problem coming up with payments that amount to at least fifty percent more than we're used to shelling out.

Once the US gets into serious difficulties with our oil supplies. every other sector of the economy wobbles, including especially the food-growing sector, which cannot function without copious amounts of diesel fuel and hydrocarbon-based soil "inputs." Americans will go hungry, and not just the "underclasses."

Nuclear provider targets oilsands

Alberta's oilsands industry faces a natural gas shortage by 2030 without new energy sources to offset gas use in oilsands expansions, the head of nuclear power giant Areva Canada Inc. said Monday.

Speaking in Calgary, Areva CEO Armand Laferrere said continued oilsands development would consume virtually all of Canada's current natural gas supply -- some 92 per cent -- by 2030.

"You need to diversify," he said on the sidelines of the Canadian Energy Research Institute's natural gas conference.

Venezuela Official: Will Defeat Exxon In UK Court

Venezuela's oil vice minister said the country will find a way to defeat ExxonMobil Corp. in a U.K. court in coming days despite the company´s clout, and called the ongoing dispute with Exxon "not a big deal" for either party.

"We will not leave London cowing from a loss, because if Exxon wins it would set a bad legal precedent," Venezuela's Oil Vice Minister Bernard Mommer told local daily El Universal in an interview published Sunday. He recognized Exxon's clout as one of the world's most powerful oil companies but noted that the compensation case isn't that large in terms of money.

UK’s oil industry plea for more tax breaks

Britain's oil and gas industry is warning that, unless activity can be stimulated through improved tax breaks, the UK will miss the government’s North Sea production targets, resulting in more fuel imports, higher energy costs and lower tax revenues.

Nationalization Bug Prepares to Bite in Ecuador

Ecuador could arrive at an agreement with U.S-owned City Oriente to end its contract to produce crude oil in the Andean nation, Ecuador's Energy Minister Galo Chiriboga said Monday.

"It won't be possible to renew the contract because it is non-viable from technical and financial factors. We are analyzing the possibility of ending the contract by mutual agreement ..." Chiriboga told reporters.

South Africa: Mines under pressure amid energy crisis

The power crisis in South Africa has forced miners to partially close mines, curbed output and put jobs at risk, triggering threats of street protests by unions in the world's top precious metals producer.

South Africa's key mining industry, a big foreign exchange earner and job creator, ground to a halt for five days last month as an electricity shortage became a national emergency.

Albania to Invest in Kosovo's Power

Tirana - Albanian Premier Sali Berisha says his government plans to be a major investor in the construction of thermal power plants in Kosovo.

"We have stated it before and I will restate it that we would like to be a major stakeholder in Kosovo's thermal power plants," said Berisha during a a joint press conference with the head of Kosovo's parliament Jakup Krasniqi.

Putin Pledges More Fuel For Tajikistan Emergency

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged to help Tajikistan battle what the Central Asian nation’s leader called “catastrophic” cold weather that has left only the capital, Dushanbe, with regular power supplies.

“There has never been anything like it in our country’s history,” President Emomali Rakhmon told Putin at the Russian leader’s residence outside of Moscow on Thursday. “In the east now it is minus 25 degrees.”

Orlando gas prices reach new high

The higher gas prices come just weeks before the busy spring-break period, when many families flock to the area's attractions and beaches. But tourism officials said they don't expect the extra costs to deter visitors.

"The only time we have seen gas affect tourism is when there was a shortage," said Danielle Courtenay, spokeswoman for the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau. "It is something we constantly are watching."

South Dakota: Panel cuts Highway Patrol funding

PIERRE — A bill to restore a proposed $2 million cut in the Highway Patrol budget in the next fiscal year was gutted to nearly nothing Monday by a tightfisted House Appropriations Committee.

...The Highway Patrol budget is funded primarily by state fuel tax revenues, but those revenues have been weak and Gov. Mike Rounds ordered the $2 million cut.

Shanghai GM: embrace future with green strategy

On January 22, Shanghai GM, the sales champion in China's automobile industry in 2007, launched an all-directional green strategy with "Drive to Green" as the theme. Ding Lei, General Manager of Shanghai GM, said that a breakthrough in environmental protection and energy shortage was the prerequisite to auto industry's sustainable development. The "Drive to Green" strategy of Shanghai GM involves three aspects-green product, green system and green responsibility, which will provide China's consumers with green auto type with "better performance, lower energy consumption, less emission" through technological renovation, and play a more active leading role in the industrial chain, thus create a green ecological system in the industry through activating both the upper and the lower reaches.

Jeremy Leggett: Renewed energy

A recent German experiment shows that renewable energy, harnessed on a national scale, can indeed replace fossil fuels and nuclear power

Smart ForTwo smart for few

Daimler's tiny city car turns heads, but it has more than its share of problems.

GOP should stop coddling Big Oil, make way for renewable energy

This week the House of Representatives will vote on the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2008. This act would eliminate $18 billion in tax breaks for oil companies to help pay for extending renewable energy tax credits. If the House approves, we'll see if Senate Republicans can vote for good energy and environmental policy - or just vote for Big Oil again.

New York: Energy report offers more hot air than significant solutions

One of the dirty little secrets of renewable energy sources is that every one of them, to varying degrees, will drive the cost of energy up, not down. For you and me, and for business. That would be the real price for less reliance on foreign oil and fossil fuels generally, and for shrinking the carbon footprint that's turning our planet into a greenhouse.

Innovation Is the Only Scarce Resource

NJBIZ: It has become popular among lawmakers to introduce bills mandating the development of nonfossil-fuel power to meet our growing energy needs. Are the timelines they propose realistic?

Carlson: They just don’t seem to realize the scale of the issue they are talking about. We have three fellows publishing a book called “The Cubic Mile of Oil.” One cubic mile of oil is the unit they came up with to convert all the confusing units of energy. One of the questions is how many units we are burning today, and the answer is three. And in 30 years that will be six. In order to convert one of the six cubic miles of oil to another power source would require the power generated by 50 atomic plants over 50 years. Are we doing that? No.

Which orange juice should I buy?

DRINKING 170 litres of water with breakfast would be ridiculous. You'd have your legs crossed all the way to work, which would be particularly problematic if you were doing the right thing by walking.

But that's the amount that goes into manufacturing just one cup of orange juice, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation says. Citrus is a thirsty crop.

Then there's the fuel that goes into the tractors, pesticides, packaging and transport of OJ. In addition, orange production uses more pesticides than any other major commodity, the World Wide Fund For Nature reports. There's obviously more to choosing a juice than whether to go for the pulpy or the smooth stuff. There's a fair bit to weigh up if breakfast is to be an environmentally champion affair.

Are the days of easy-to-reach oil at an end?

Apart from a new price high, this week has been more of the same - oil prices have been high, and boy, are they looking to stay that way.

But what people are talking about now is the one factor that may keep those prices in place.

And the words of the day are 'peak' and 'oil'.

Even in the UAE, where oil brings in the lion's share of the country's revenues, there is more than a little speculation about how much oil there really is.

Matt Simmons: Twilight In The Desert - The Risk Of Peak Oil

Matt Simmons has posted the slides from his presentation to the Minnesota House of State Representatives.

Oil sands freeze a no-brainer for Big Oil

Everybody loves a no-lose proposition. Some people make a career out of searching for them: the investor who pays $10 for stock in a company with $11 per share of cash in the bank; the acquisitive CEO who buys a struggling competitor, strips out the best asset and sells the rest at a profit. No-lose deals are hard to find, but the shrewd exploit them – and never let it be said that the big oil companies aren't shrewd.

Angola: Oil Production Reaches 1.9 Mn Barrels Per Day

Angola is since last week producing 1.9 million barrels of crude oil per day, thus moving from the previous 1.7 million until the end of 2007. Still, estimates indicate that by the end of this year the production should reach 2 million barrels a day.

Russia's Gazprom signs agreement to develop Iran's huge South Pars field

MOSCOW — Iran and Russia have signed a major energy deal.

Russia's state-owned Gazprom reported an agreement to explore and develop energy reserves in Iran. Gazprom said it would work with Iranian companies to develop the South Pars field, regarded as the largest reserves of natural gas.

Plug-in cars could actually increase air pollution

The expected introduction of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles could cut U.S. gasoline use but could increase deadly air pollution in some areas, two reports say.

That's because a plug-in's lower tailpipe emissions may be offset by smokestack emissions from the utility generating plants supplying electricity to recharge the big batteries that allow plug-ins to run up to 40 miles without kicking on their gasoline engines. Plug-ins, called PHEVs, are partly powered, in effect, by the fuel used to generate the electricity.

Fresh records for price of wheat

High-protein spring wheat on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange rose by almost 25% to record levels on Monday.

Kazakhstan has become the latest country to put export restrictions on wheat as it battles against inflation.

Russia and Argentina have already imposed similar export restrictions.

CHINA: Staring At Grain Imports

BEIJING (IPS) - With global food prices on an upward spiral, China is facing renewed fears that its growing demand for grain to feed the world’s largest population may lead to imports from international markets, driving prices higher and spurring further food inflation.

The resurging "threat of China’s food security" may have induced more fatigue than alarm if it was not coming at a time of unprecedented scarcity of arable land, which is increasingly being converted to grow biofuels, and because of fresh challenges posed by global warming.

'Doomsday' seed vault opens in Arctic

LONGYEARBYEN, Norway - A "doomsday" seed vault built to protect millions of food crops from climate change, wars and natural disasters opened Tuesday deep within an Arctic mountain in the remote Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard.

"The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is our insurance policy," Norway's Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg told delegates at the opening ceremony. "It is the Noah's Ark for securing biological diversity for future generations."

Climate Critics Rattle Virgin Atlantic CEO

LONDON - When a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 took off from London's Heathrow Airport on Sunday, carrying a symbolic 25% load of biofuel blend, most eyes were on the airline's billionaire president Sir Richard Branson. He called the event a "historic occasion," warned that peak oil could hit in the next six years, and voiced his frustration that other airlines were not working hard to promote biofuels.

But on the sidelines of the press conference, Steve Ridgway--the less well-known Chief Executive of Virgin Atlantic--was in a more thoughtful mood, voicing his concern over the pressures that had pushed the aviation industry into the environmental spotlight.

3rd artificial flood set for Colo. River

This is the third such test on the river since 1996, and it could end as the most controversial amid questions about whether the government has shirked its obligations to protect the canyon's natural resources.

At issue is how to manage a structure that stores water and provides electrical power for millions across the West, yet has also damaged a complex ecosystem.

Indian tribes exercising water rights

GREAT FALLS, Mont. — For decades, ranchers and farmers across the West have tapped into rivers and streams on or near Indian reservations. Now, as drought conditions plague big parts of the region, they're concerned their access to those sources could dry up.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court gave tribes the primary rights to streams on their reservations in 1908, until recently, 19 tribes in the West had not exercised those rights. This year, tribes in Montana, New Mexico, Idaho, Nevada and California are on the verge of securing their claims.

Agnes B: fashion designer funds polar odyssey

PARIS (AFP) - Paris fashion designer with a conscience, Agnes B. was among thousands who massed on a seashore this weekend to give a hero's welcome to a sailboat that deliberately remained trapped in Arctic pack ice for almost a year and a half to research global warming.

UN climate head: US stand a `nonstarter'

NEW YORK - The U.N. climate chief on Monday welcomed statements by Bush administration officials that the United States would accept a binding international commitment to reduce global-warming gases. But he said their insistence that China and other developing nations do the same "is not realistic."

"If it's a quid pro quo, then it's a nonstarter," said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the Bonn-based U.N. climate secretariat.

Global Warming Melts New Sea Lanes for Norilsk, ConocoPhillips

(Bloomberg) -- Norilsk, the world's biggest producer of nickel, is building its own shipping fleet to capitalize on the melting of the polar ice caps.

The company ordered five reinforced cargo vessels that can plow through the waters north of Siberia as new sea routes open. Norilsk is spending at least 320 million euros ($467 million) to buy reinforced vessels rather than rent both freighters and icebreaker escorts.

The thawing sea "has enormous economic implications, and commerce is going to push this ecological zone to the limit," says Rear Admiral Timothy McGee, head of the U.S. Navy's Meteorology and Oceanography Command.

As the End of Suburbia (EOS) guys warned, food & energy prices are surging higher. Talking head on CNBC: “The big story for 2008 may turn out to be the scarcity and price of food.” Anyone care to speculate on when the US government will act to curtail food (especially wheat) exports?

U.S. Jan. PPI rises 1% on energy and food
Year-over-year increase highest since 1981

Year over year, the PPI is up 7.4%. This is the fastest pace since 1981.

As the EOS guys also warned, residential real estate has big problems, with continued discussions of the insolvent bailing out the insolvent.

Foreclosure Aid Rising Locally, as Is Dissent
Efforts to help imperiled homeowners have met resistance from people who consider the assistance undeserved.

In California, the notion of a government loan program seems remote to some state leaders, given how big such a fund would have to be and that California’s budget deficit is larger than most state budgets.

So, what is the prospect for the future being materially different from what the EOS guys warned us about?

January foreclosures up 57%

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Foreclosure filings nationwide soared 57% in January over the same month last year - another indication that the nation's housing woes are deepening.

I don't think it is fair to compare the value of last last year, the trouble started in the second half of 2007. How does the value compare to say last December?

I suspect there's a seasonal variation that makes that kind of comparison meaningless. Or at least quite difficult. January is probably a bad month. People have high bills, due to the holidays, and businesses often lay off their employees in December, at the end of the year.

But how many of these foreclosured / threatened homes were, are, actually occupied by families who in good (if misguided) faith entered into the American dream by contracting dastardly opaque-small-print mortgages, putting their down payments at risk?

And how many owned by people who were cynically flipping homes, investing there, rather than in the stock market, oil futures of whatever, as tangible assets tend to impress, and may seem easier to understand than financial products?

Did not the housing ‘boom’ or ‘bubble’ - the potential financial gains, deprive many Americans of owning a small home? That last question is polemical, goes beyond the first.

I haven’t a clue.

None. Nobody makes down payments any more. They paid nothing at closing. Paid nothing ever since. Families made money. It's the banks that were bankrupted.

I dont't think the holidays have much to do with the crisis. We are at a point where the economy is
getting worse and worse everyday and depending on how bad the next couple of months are will determine how long it will actually take for the economy to regualate itself.There is speculation that OPEC will try to change the currency of each barrel of oil to the EURO. If this were to happen it would create the collapse of the US economy and the Canadian economy because they are so closely linked.The cost of oil has to be regulated somehow because if not then people in the USA will seek an even greater defecit in addition to the foreclosure problem . USA has the most Co2 emessions across the world and I don't think they are ready for oil to reach 100% increase per barrel this year.If there is nothing done the economy will be stifiled and the unemployment rate would double or even triple. With the next presidental campaign I look forward to seeing Obama sponsoring programs, trying to look for other sources of energy. This will help the pollution crisis we have been facing and also have people less dependent on oil which will possibly reach $200/barrel. Car manufactures which employs about 1 million across the US can actually be innovative and try alternatives other then petrolum. Houses can be heated possibly through solar power or wind and his means more jobs created to help re-stimulate the economy.The current US government has put the citizens in a horrible economic position and if the price of oil is not regualted or the forclosure on homes people can only hope some sort of technological wave will hit!

Although 2007 saw foreclosures reach historic levels, the trouble began in 2006, when foreclosures were up 42 percent compared with 2005.

Just remember that we were starting from a very low level; lenders didn't need to foreclose when there were lots of buyers out there. Any increase from zero is substantial, on a percentage basis.

I would even go so far as to say it began a year earlier than that. The peak of the housing market occurred in July/August 2005. Incidently(?, NOT) coincident with a nasty surge in crude.

It was like watching dominoes after that as first investors bailed from properties, unsold inventories bulged and homebuilders slowed.

It took a while to hit the banks, but nope, not immune...

And, the collapse of commercial real estate is now gaining momentum...

FOCUS: Real Estate
Housing ills breed commercial flu
Prices for office and retail properties seen heading lower as financing dries up.


Nothing will change unless we change. Wasn't there a Dickens story that had that same plot line?

But let me sketch out what it would take to make things different:
$3,000 for one electric scooter per family.
$3,000 per family for aggressive conservation efforts around the house.
$1,000 per family to build a 250 square foot, intensive home garden capable of supplying 25% of calories for a family of four.
A ten year roll back of the Reagan/Greenspan social security tax hike, at least on the worker's portion of the contribution.
An aggressive light rail and electric jitney construction effort, equivalent to one-half of what we spend on highway construction each year.
Limits on new construction, or national changes to building and zoning codes, to encourage and subsidize transit oriented development.

Some of these things are easier than others-- but all of them can be done fairly quickly. We have done the first three in our family, and have reduced our gasoline consumption from over 1200 gallons a year to around 400, reduced the amount of produce we buy from out of state to near zero, and cut our natural gas bills by over 80% (okay, that took a GSHP, but still we did it). And with the exception of the electric scooter, everything else was made predominantly in the USA.

But we just have to change the attitude, beaten into us since we were kids, that faster and bigger is better.

$3000 for an electric scooter ? i cannot reasonably justify $700. the reason: battery replacement. the $700 model has an expected battery life of 3 yrs with a replacement cost of $ 160. that works out to about $0.10/ mile using my expected mileage. i didnt even try to estimate the $/mile amortization of $ 700.

i think i will walk.

More expensive? With an automobile at 20K and still costing .10+ per mile and rising?

It's quite a bit less for me and my wife who have switched to a one car, one scooter family. The scooter is for trips to work and around town. We even manage groceries. I guess it's a bit easier for me since I'm a writer and work from home. The car is only for long trips.

As for homeownership. Well, we live in a multilevel and energy really is pretty efficient. The one thing I'm looking at right now is a deck garden. The deck is actually pretty large and I could get about 120 square feet out of it and still have space. Gardens, I know, can be a bit heavy so we're looking at putting together a gird for it. All in all, not too much heavier than a waterbed and spread over a larger area.

I know this sounds silly, but I've put together a little emergency stash of food + water. 3 weeks and building right now. Mostly pasta, dried fruits, jerky, hard tack, MREs when I can get them and vitamins to fill in the gaps.

"More expensive? With an automobile at 20K and still costing .10+ per mile and rising?"

your statement implies an electric scooter as a replacement for an automobile.

i am not making a comparison with a new automobile, only for a $700 electric scooter to reduce auto travel. i cannot expect to fully replace an auto with a scooter.
other's results may vary. for me, it works out to a toy, nothing more.

the irs is using $0.485/mile for the cost of operating an auto, including amortization, fuel and maintenance.

IT would also take Major changes , or even wholesale abolishing of most zoning laws. I can only imaging the resistance one would meet when he brought in plans to build an earthship type home, or micro home, to the building department. Half the streets run north-to-south. South facing homes would be too much for them to "handle".

Congratulation, OP. I hope your friends and neighbours take note and follow your example. Get out there and beat your drum because this is truly how change happens.

I firmly believe that if all of us made a conscious effort to do better, collectively, we could make a world of difference; there's so much waste and inefficiency in virtually everything we do that a 20, 30, 50 or even 80 per cent reduction in energy use is not impossible if we simply put our minds to it. Granted, some home improvements such as a GSHP require significant capital investment and would be unaffordable to many of us, but even relatively inexpensive measures such as caulking and weather stripping, outlet gaskets, 3M window kits, loft insulation, pipe wraps, duct sealing, low-flow shower heads, CFLs, etc. -- combined with very modest behavioural changes -- can result in significant energy savings and generate positive cash flows from literally day one.

As mentioned here before, the previous owners of our home, a family of four, consumed 5,700 litres of heating oil a year and something in excess of 14,000 kWh of electricity. Insulation, air sealing and a new boiler got that down to 2,100 litres and a $2,100.00 ductless heat pump has since dropped it to 830 litres, for an overall savings of 85 per cent. With the addition of the heat pump our electricity usage took a bit of a hit but, even so, we're still running about 4,000 kWh below that of the previous occupants. A heat pump water heater could easily cut our remaining fuel oil consumption in half again and after subtracting the savings as the result of not having to run our dehumidifier six months of the year, the added electricity costs would be minimal. And with heating oil now retailing locally for $0.979 a litre ($3.68 U.S. gallon) the payback would be no more than three to four years (it would be a lot less if we were heavier users of hot water but, as it is, standby and boiler losses account for over half the fuel oil related to our DHW needs).

So, again, I would encourage you to share your experience with others so that they too may benefit from what you've achieved. As more of us become aware of what's doable and how simple and inexpensive many of these measures can be, words will translate into action.


HiH, what is your total household energy consumption from all sources in BTU/square feet/year? I am running at around 80,000 BTU/sf/yr, down from about 110,000 before building envelope improvements. Heating Degree Days average about 6400/year where I live near Boston.

Hi Calorie,

Halifax is approximately 7,800 HDD F and my home is a 40-year old 2,500 sq. ft. Cape Cod. I estimate our heat loss to be 320 BTUs per degreee F when temperatures drop below 13C/55F; above 13C, internal gains for lighting and appliances and whatever passive solar that might be available are generally sufficient to maintain the house at a comfortable temperature.

Of the 830 litres of heating oil used each year, roughly 475 litres can be allocated to DHW production -- it varies by season, but an average of 1.3 litres/day is a pretty safe bet. The remaining 355 litres (94 U.S. gallons) can be attributed to backup heat and at an AFUE of 82 per cent, net heat gain is approximately 3,113 kWh/year or 10.6 MM BTUs. In the first year of operation, the heat pump consumed an estimated 3,946 kWh of electricity and provided us with 9,672 kWh or 33 MM BTUs of heat. Taken together, that's 43.6 MM BTUs/year and divided by 2,500 sq. ft. that translates to be 17,450 BTUs/ft2 or 55 kWh/m2. That year I started on high blood pressure medication that forced me to keep the house between 22C and 25C (I was constantly cold no matter how warmly I dressed). By the following year, I was better adjusted and indoor temperatures averaged between 17C to 20C. That trimmed heating demand in the winter of 06/07 by about 6 MM BTUs, so our heat loss ran closer to 15,060 BTUs/ft2 or 47.5 kWh/m2. This year has been colder than the past two and I have been keeping temperatures a little higher, so I expect 07/08 will fall somewhere between these two numbers.

In addition to the 830 litres of heating oil and 10,400 kWh of electricity, we use approximately 90 litres/24 U.S. gallons of propane a year to operate our cooktop, dryer and BBQ (we also have four gas fireplaces but they're only used for emergency heat in the event of an extended power cut or on the rare social occasion; the pilot lights are never left on).

A record of our fuel oil usage can be found at: http://www.datafilehost.com/download-70a9bfb1.html

A summary of our heat pump performance as of today can be found at: http://www.datafilehost.com/download-afa6cd48.html



This is amazing detail! You set the grading curve pretty high for domestic data collection and analysis :-)

We just replaced our windows and siding, and in the process added another R8 with foil-backed isocyanurate panels. The house is drastically more comfortable and uses less heat.

Getting to your thermodynamic analysis (BTU/sqft) is my holy grail. If I can figure it out will post here. I am using as a textbook "Solar Engineering for Thermal Processes" which someone here recommended a while back and it was a great recommendation.

Best regards,

Thanks, NR. I never thought my fuel oil consumption was all that low until my service provider politely asked that I take my business elsewhere. This particular company charges a few extra cents per litre but, in return, offers 24 hour emergency service, an annual tune-up/cleaning and a price protection cap at no extra charge. Unfortunately, due to my declining usage they can't realistically recover the extra cost of these premiums so, as a compromise, I suggested they service my boiler once every three years and, happily, they agreed. I do feel genuinely sorry for this company because I understand a growing number of their clients are discretely buying heating oil from local discounters just to save a few bucks while at the same time expecting (and receiving) all the same benefits from this full-service company as before. This is a small, employee owned firm and their service truly is outstanding and it annoys me to see them abused in this manner; given the razor thin margins in this industry and declining sales due to fuel switching and demand destruction, these additional lost sales must hurt even more.

Anyway, there's nothing magical about what I've done. I've caulked and sealed to the best of my abilities; upgraded the insulation in the exterior walls (R6 to R22) and attic (R6 to R60); insulated the basement walls (R0 to R22); replaced all operable windows/storms and doors with Pella Architectural series, low-e/argon units (R1.8 to R3) and added double window kits to the fixed windows and wooden storms that remained (R1.8 to R3.6); and replaced the original oil-fired boiler and oil-fired hot water tank with a new, integrated system and Tekmar control. This slashed about 3,600 litres/950 U.S. gallons off the bill and the ductless heat pump took us down another 1,100 litres/290 U.S. gallons to where we are today. As mentioned, with a heat pump water heater, we should be able to slice another 450 to 500 litres and simply leave the boiler turned off except for the three or four weeks in the year when the heat pump can't keep up on its own. With that, we're looking at something in the order of 350 litres or less than 95 U.S. gallons/year.


After suggesting several times the idea of a "winter apartment" within a larger house, we have moved to a 3000 sf factory loft apartment in upstate New York (cold!). The loft has so many windows and high ceilings that it is impossible to heat, although it does pretty well with passive solar on the sunny days. Inside this loft is a 500sf (or so) separately-insulated "apartment" consisting of a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and office (no living room). This is heated, most of the time, with a single 1500W electric heater in the kitchen, plus another 400W heater under the desk in the office. There are still some things that could be done, particularly adding insulated curtains not only to exterior windows but interior windows as well (didn't get to it this year).

No air conditioning, dehumidifiers, etc. I'm aiming for 40kwh/day in the winter and 10kwh/day in the rest of the year, for a total of about 6,650 kwh/year.

I now work in the office, cutting my commute time (from 12 months ago) from 3 hours/day to zero. There is a bank, grocery store and post office within a 3 minute walk. We are going to plant a vegetable garden in the spring, although this is something of a hobby considering the profusion of organic farms in the immediate area.

I now work in the office, cutting my commute time (from 12 months ago) from 3 hours/day to zero.

Hi EG,

Wow, that's a mighty impressive savings in terms of fuel consumption, time and operating expense. I also work from home and I can easily walk wherever I need to go, so on the few occasions when I do need to use my vehicle (e.g., when picking someone up at the airport) I often discover my battery has gone completely dead (which reminds me I should head out to the garage and hook-up the battery charger now because if this keeps up, my battery won't be long for this world). In my case, it's a leisurely five minute walk to the library and perhaps another three minutes to all the shops.


I have long thought that a century from now, "suburb" will have become the English language equivalent of "favela"


Give us some details about your garden. I'm really interested in a small footprint garden that can supply as much as 25% of calorie needs.

You have to use every space you can for food, and think of landscaping as another opportunity for food production. We have a fifth of an acre lot, with about a quarter of that taken up by the house, the sidewalk, compost pile, pathways, etc. We have two long (18 by 6 feet) bed gardens for veggies: tomatoes, lettuce, squash, beans, etc. We use a sort of french intensive method, to plant things nearly right on top of each other. We stack as much stuff on trellises and frames as possible. I haven't had any success with pumpkins that way, but we are trying. We have a large cold frame, about half the size of one of the raised beds, so we get to start everything three weeks early. We have a "hedge" of a dozen dwarf apple trees in the front yard, and blueberries and elderberries down one side of the house, and hazelnuts and greens down the other side. We put strawberries and tomatoes in pots whereever we can, but the strawberries have never done well for us. We have a potato plot in the back yard, and someday, if I can figure out how, we are going to plant half of the front yard in wheat or some other grain, perhaps in undulating waves for landscaping effects.
We can do pretty well, particularly with the tomoatoes and potatoes, calorie wise.
I'm keeping a better journal this year on how we are eating, so maybe by December I'll have a precise number of how much we bought in calories, and how much we produced ourselves. Our purchases are mostly flour, couscous, rice, sugar and dairy products.

Very good stuff. Thanks. A few more questions come to mind:
- What part of the country are you in?
- Do you have any issues with shade from trees or the house reducing available sunlight?
- How many years have you been doing this?
- Any problems with squirrels, deer, etc. getting to it before you do?

I hope we will see you occasionally posting an account of how things are going.

Thanks again.

Nobody loved Cassandra--


While Cassandra foresaw the fall and destruction of the city of Troy (she warned the Trojans about the Trojan Horse, the death of Agamemnon, and her own demise), she was unable to do anything to forestall these tragedies. Her family believed she was mad, and according to some versions, kept her locked up. In versions where she was incarcerated, this was typically portrayed as driving her truly insane, although in versions where she was not, she is usually viewed as remaining simply misunderstood.

As someone repeated the other day -- "You know the pioneers by the arrows in their backs." It was a great video -- got a lot of my friends thinking, though not necessarily doing anything about it (yet).

It doesn't matter how many times you are right. If what you have to say is perceived as negative, they will not hear you. There are exceptions, however. People who are already awake will hear you, but it's near impossible to wake up people.

Those who understand don't need to be told, those who don't understand won't hear it, and those who want to understand will ask questions and figure it out on their own.

Those ready to hear and understand but who haven't yet heard it need to be told. Simple as that - you simply need to adjust your expectations and recognize only the already fertilized fields will respond to watering.

There are such people out there who haven't yet heard.

Most of us were likely introduced to the idea of Peak Oil only recently, even though we possess critical minds. For myself, it was a year ago, and I've made drastic changes in my planning for the future as a result.


"There are such people out there who haven't yet heard."

These people would fall into the category of "want to understand". They already are the readers, the curious, the INTx's and INFx's, people with critical thinking skills, with above-average intelligence, with some measure of empathy, and with the available time to pour through the issues.

The intersections of these groups, when compared to the population at large, is rather small. It's probably less than one in a thousand people.

There is also an ethical issue of attempting to free an imprisoned mind that doesn't want to be freed. It can be more than a little traumatic to come to an understanding about:
* the physical limits of energy
* the boundaries of our technological progress
* the inevitability of decline, and
* the end of the world as we know it.

Yep, especially since most of your little list isn't about inevitabilities at all, but are merely a set of assumptions based on dodgy premises.

It isn't enough, for instance, to state that decline is inevitable, and we will reach the end of the world as we know it, and to insinuate that those with above average intelligence and critical reasoning skills will agree, you have to demonstrate it.

And in fact you might find you have a hard sell, as if those people are indeed of above average intelligence then they will be reluctant to accept such an unproductive conclusion until all possible alternatives are discounted.

Since it is rather easy to come up with ways in which our society can run perfectly well after peak fossil fuels accepting your premises becomes more doubtful.

No one denies that carrying out the changes needed post peak will be difficult indeed, but your council of despair is unwarranted, and in that case surely foolish since it is pretty silly to give up when you could be devising strategies to deal with the issues that are causing the problems.

Do cheer up! :-)

"Since it is rather easy to come up with ways in which our society can run perfectly well after peak fossil fuels accepting your premises becomes more doubtful."

Rather easy, perfectly well? You are clearly delusional. Talk about dodgy premises. It isn't enough to snarkily whistle past the graveyard - people with above average intelligence have the strong impression that things are going rather downhill.

Look, it may be possible that we'll cobble something together that avoids a major shitstorm, but whatever else it is, it will not be "rather easy". And it will be a different society in any case.

I did not say getting there would be easy, just that it is easy to write out how we could do things once we get there.

Getting there will be tough indeed, but that does not indicate that it is impossible as the post I was responding to claimed.

If you say something is inevitable you have to show that no other option is possible.

I do not claim that it is inevitable that we will make it through, just that it is a possibility.

Therefore this weaker claim needs less back-up.

Assumptions based on dubious premises. Like thermodynamics, inertia, resistance, entropy, conservation of mass, denial, lack of political will, religious and media manipulation, ignorance, and unmanageable complexity.

But if you want something that could pass as a proof that collapse will happen, I'm still working on how to parse all the nonlinear systemic issues in an environment dominated by fragmented and linear thinking.

What makes you think that, given that I am posting here, that I have given up? Just because collapse is inevitable, just as individual death is inevitable, that's no reason to give up.

Glad you haven't given up, and are a cheery sort of doomed being! ;-)

You also haven't substantiated your very strong claim of inevitability, and a shopping list of scientific and sociological terms does not help.

I'm still working on how to parse yada, yada, yada.

Death and collapse are not doom. That's part of the problem. They are inevitable, and it is the mindset of doom that is the problem.


doom noun inescapable death, ruin or other unpleasant fate

"Inescapable death" implies that you may avoid death forever, which you may not in fact do, which is why I said death is not doom.

The mindset of death being some kind of ruin or unpleasant fate is also part of the problem.

Collapse does not mean extinction. Extinction would be doom for the human species. Collapse does mean the end of the world we believed it to be but which never actually existed.

There is also a moral problem of proving a collapse and die-off. If such a near-term systemic inevitability could be "proven", would the dissemination of such information be in and of itself destructive?

710 - May help you get closer to understanding. (by the by this is a subject that I am deep into researching and it is far more pervasive than any here suspect)

"The Doom Generation"


That seems to be a rather disturbing movie.

That's not really where I'm coming from. I'm not saying "we're all gonna die anyway, so just get some Cheez Doodlez and a threesome together and then leave your friend for dead".

I'm saying the collapse from unintended consequences that have built up over the last 10,000 years of civilization is now unavoidable.

I'm also saying that we do, however, have the tools and knowledge available to avoid this happening again, to learn from past mistakes.

I'm also saying that making time for a threesome and some Cheez Doodlez might also not be a bad idea, while it's still possible. Stopping and smelling the roses on the highway of life, and all that.

And don't abandon your friends.

There is also an ethical issue of attempting to free an imprisoned mind that doesn't want to be freed

Churches and governments have a long and impressive record of "freeing" imprisoned minds.

I think TOD is voluntary -- maybe people come here who are not quite certain they want to be free, but want to test the water. Perhaps there are more of them than we dare to hope, and they will free themselves.

Its partly because there are a lot of wackos running around warning us about all sorts of things from fluoride in the water to the Red Chinese army massing in Panama. Often hard to separate the wheat from the chaff.

You have both there. Which is which?

are a lot of wackos running around warning us about all sorts of things from fluoride


Most animal studies investigating how fluoride effects bone strength have found a detrimental effect, or no effect. Very few animal studies have found a beneficial effect.

Yea, wackos....warning of reduced bone strength! Bad, Bad wackos.

The current US wheat crop is doing poorly in KS, OK, TX.

The Gov't has until May at the latest to decide on the current wheat crop and it's implications.

Meanwhile the pits in KC, CBOT, and MGE must be crazy.

MGE March down $260. May up 41.

From the USWheat Letter/Feb 21,08:

"In the aftermath of the 1980 grain embargo against the former Soviet Union, federal law was changed to ensure that any sales embargo by the U.S. cannot single out agriculture. The Food Security Act of 1985 declares that U.S. policy is to foster and encourage agricultural exports and not to restrict or limit such exports except under the most compelling circumstances. More specifically, the Export Administration Act of 1999 states that any prohibition or limitation on agricultural exports should be imposed only when the President declares a national emergency under the Act. The global wheat situation may be uncomfortable for some players and is certainly unusual, but it is not even remotely close to being a national emergency."

But put "Sweet Jebus" in front of this paragragh
and "Amen" in the back and you've got a prayer-

"This country’s new winter wheat crop is in the field. It is raining again in Australia. The North African crop looks much better than it did last year. The EU has opened set-aside land to increase wheat production. We invite everyone to join us in hoping that good growing conditions prevail in the U.S. and around the world—and that our domestic flour users seek solutions to their short-term challenges in the marketplace instead of in the halls of government. "


WTI is back over $100 again.

5 of the 11 major benchmarks above 100. Nearly 6 with Brent at 99.91.

That is a concerted effort globally :P


It looks like WTI is trying for another record, at 100.86 atm.

In gas news, I paid $3.39/gal today in Rochester, NY. $4/gas here seems like a no brainer by May, and will likely overshoot that by some. Why doesn't Wall Street recognize what effect $4 gas and $6 loaves of bread is going to have on consumer discretionary spending?

It's high prices that are attracting imports. Inventories can crater just as fast as they were built, and it'll take continuing high prices of gas to continue to attract imports during high driving season. I think Robert's previous analysis of the situation stands - for refineries to make money on gas at high utilization rates (implying over-time pay and higher maintenance costs, etc), the crack spread has to increase back to historically normal levels. If oil doesn't come down in price, that means $4/gal gas for Memorial Day.

EIA finished gasoline inventories are down over last year. The unblended inventories are up but we may be missing an important additive for summer fuel. I think the refineries have figured out a way to get their margins back up. At $100 dollars a barrel, gasoline should be $5 a gallon by historical margins.

Will things be fine in 2009? 2010, 2011, 2012? At this rate, if you aren't full of doubt that things will be fine thru the next 5 five years, you are naive.

Does 2014 seem far away? Well its as far into the future as September 11, 2001 is in the past.

shoot up bread machine sales? Catch that Oster stock.

Don't bother with bread machines. Do this instead.

turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess,

Substituting 'probably' for 'may' :-)

But that's OK. Note that this recipe requires virtually no equipment and very little labor. But it requires patience and planning. That is why some call it the post peak bread recipe

I always make a mess when cooking :-) Yes I noticed the post peak implications. Lotsa time little bit of flour, hope it works out for all of us. Another thing to consider.
How to culture your own yeast

I bake this bread all the time, it's an excellent recipe.

According to US AID one person can survive on 350 grams of rice per day. That is about thirteen ounces per day, emergency diet. Twenty pounds of rice recently sold for about ten dollars retail. This means that if you are really tight with your money you might be able to live on fifty cents a day worth of rice. Of course one may need dietary supplements in addition to rice. If you worked a job and did not live in a refugee camp you might be able to afford more rice.

LIFE's been good to me so far.

Add some beans to that rice ration and you'll have complete protein. Of course, dried beans are pretty cheap food as well. Throw in a little tomato and chili pepper and you are well on your way toward some halfway decent eating! Or sprout the beans, chop up whatever fresh vegies you can manage to grow, forage, or dumpster dive, and stir fry the lot with a tiny bit of oil and soy sauce. A lot of classic cuisines are built on ways to make subsistence foods a little more interesting.

Sounds pretty tasty to be honest.

How many months do you think, till America stops throwing away so much food? How close to the brink will we be when the average couch potato says to his mom, "hey wait! don't throw that broccoli away! I need the vitamins!"

My inner pessimist is putting the bet up at infinity. Never gonna happen. He's just going to wake up one day starving. I can't help but feel sad.

till they die of malnutrition.

Don't bother with bread machines. Do this instead.

How in the world is that recipe less of a bother than using a bread machine?

I agree.

A word to the wise for anybody who hasn't much experience making bread. There may be times in the future when you simply don't have the time for the rises necessary with leavened bread. And if your central heating no longer functions your bread won't be rising at all.

The point is... even with dried yeast cakes or packets, it takes a day of work and waiting to get a loaf. And any sort of yeast, commercial or wild, needs heat to be able to rise.

Learn how to make chapatis. And store a large amount of baking soda. Baking soda + anything sour will make instant bubbles without the soda taste. It's third grade chemistry. And it's quick.

Yeast can be captured in the air and don't need to be stored.

Yeast go dormant at 40F and will proof a starter slowly at only 55F.

The point in making loaves ahead of when you need them means that you don't have to wait at all. Why wait until you're hungry to think about where you're going to get something edible?

If you are really poor, in the ‘west’ you should not try to make bread. (And the poor don’t, they aren’t fools.)

Too much work/energy input, better spent on beans, dried or third grade fruit/vege, or a walk/ride to some detritus point, and other (food stamps, tapping charity, etc.)

In the ‘south’, or very poor places, with only raw (or milled, etc.) grains, water, wood/charcoal, with tiny supplements of nuts/fruit/meat available, you have to convert the grains. How you do that depends on the grain, means available, tradition, etc.

Why are there so few solar cookers / ovens in Africa? They are cheap and easy to maintain. Hmm. I guess the west prefers to give a lot of cash to corrupt leaders to keep the extraction and export of raw resources going or flowing. Deforestation is not exactly a primary concern. Nor is proper water management.

It's not necessarily less of a bother. It's less of an expense. Why buy another gadget? One that might depend on an electricity supply that may not be reliable in the future, and that is prone to breaking?

The "no knead bread" recipe requires only a large dutch oven. Many people already have one. If you don't, buying one is fairly cheap compared to a bread machine. (And FWIW, a guy who lived through the crisis in Sarajevo said cast iron cookware was one of the most valuable things you could own - more valuable than gold).

I have a bread machine as well as a dutch oven I bought just to make this recipe. The dutch oven was far cheaper, and I use it a lot more. The bread it makes is tastier than the bread machine bread. Plus I use the dutch oven for cooking many other things besides bread. (Last night, I used it to make fake laulau. I don't have any ti or taro leaves, so I used spinach and just baked it in the dutch oven for hours.)

Speaking a word in behalf of the much maligned (on this thread) bread machine:

I CAN and HAVE made bread the old hand-kneaded way. I use a bread machine, though, because I am busy and hold down a job instead of being engaged full time in domestic food production. With the bread machine, my homemade bread actually gets made. If I had to do it by hand all the time (even using the no-knead recipe), I suspect that it simply wouldn't get done, and that we'd be eating store-bought instead.

While a bread machine uses electricity, it really doesn't use very much. If one were to get even a single PV pannel, that would probably provide enough power to run a bread machine during the day. Especially if you put together the mix in the morning and set it on a timer so that the bake cycle was on during mid-day maximum insolation.

The no-knead recipe is no more work than a bread machine. The cleanup, IME, is easier than a bread machine. And the results are much better.

Yes, you have to plan ahead. It's really more a matter of getting into the habit. (You have to plan ahead for bread machine bread, too, just not as long.)

FWIW, my mom always baked all our bread. She still bakes all her own bread (though only once a week now, instead of twice a week, as she did when we kids lived at home). Basically, she did it when she had time, and stashed extra loaves in the freezer so it was almost as convenient as store-bought.

The "no knead bread" recipe requires only a large dutch oven. Many people already have one. If you don't, buying one is fairly cheap compared to a bread machine. (And FWIW, a guy who lived through the crisis in Sarajevo said cast iron cookware was one of the most valuable things you could own - more valuable than gold.

Perhaps I'm just suggestible early in the morning, but this makes enough sense to me that I just paused in mid-read, jumped to Amazon and ordered a 5-quart pre-seasoned cast-iron dutch oven with a nice wire pick-up handle. Delivered with free shipping to Hawaii for under $30. Because I'd feel really dumb not to have one, and that's dirt cheap. (I'm not shilling for Amazon here, but who else would sell me one at a decent price at 3am and not charge to ship it?)

Sounds like a pretty good deal, considering how heavy they are. I bought mine, just for making said bread, at Ikea. I believe it was in the $35 range. It gets plenty of use.

Ethanol Manufacturer Runs Into Financial Constraints...This is a very good example of what happens to a business model that is not sufficently thought out and fails to obtain solid financing prior to ground breaking. If a couple of ethanol plants cannot be completed with private financing where will the $ come from to complete new, large and complex rail systems, PV plants, Wind Turbine plants, etc. The simple fact is that without major government intervention and financing, most will not...and, with US current economic constraints what are the chances of the government lending a helping hand to these mid to long term projects?

...snip...'Aventine Renewable Energy Holdings, a $1.6 billion in sales ethanol maker, reported that it may have to delay the construction of two new plants due to excess cash trapped in failed auction-rate securities.

“Should we not be able to liquidate a substantial portion of the remaining portfolio of these ARS securities on a timely basis and on acceptable terms, we will have to either attempt to raise additional funds or slow down the construction of our new facilities, or both,” said CFO Ajay Sabherwal on a conference call.'...snip...


Government invention is needed for sure. Government financing is not, however. With the right laws in place, the private money will flow like crazy. Don't believe it? Well, Germany did it. Germany has a law that forces utilities to pay 45.7 cent (Euro, i.e. around 60 cent US or Canada) for each solar kWh put into the net. Just look for "Energieeinspeisegesetz" - sorry, almost all in German. There is also a rate for wind energy, it is less than solar.

So thats how Germany makes solar power economically viable, require utilities to pay 3 times what they pay for other energy sources.

Who's claiming that this program pretends to be anything BUT a 'forced' economic move? It's enabling a build-out which gives the country a broadly diversified and therefore resilient addition to its electric power base.

It's energetically viable, and the utilities are helping pay for that infrastructure load.

The US residential housing stock is (was) worth something like $20 trillion. Major parts of that are in suburbia -- turning into kaka. Along with the supporting infrastructure, retail, commercial, etc. How will the world financial system cope with losses on this scale? Step by step, the vortex is spreading, engulfing ever new sectors. In the FT one can, on some days, see panic jumping off the page at you. Mindboggling doesn't describe the scope of what is unfolding in front of us.


Here is something you don't see every day:

From the Times , 27th Feb, 2008.

Recognician of Peak Oil and questioning Peak Oil Denial.


That guy seems to get it.

The Gulf News report above

After all, over the last 20 years, both the number of new oil finds, and the size of those discoveries, have declined. It is almost enough to make you stand on that soapbox and proclaim the end of the world as we know it.

It seems the US Government has already war-gamed the collapse.


the 6900 series of protocols

(Now to just track down a copy)

At least some of this is hugely out of date...

First link on the search is http://www.rumormillnews.com/cgi-bin/forum.cgi?noframes;read=118989

an excerpt...
"most likely a cabal of people that would involve Henry Kissinger, James Baker, George Schultz, possibly William Simon." William Simon has been dead since 2000 so it's very unlikely he will be participating!

I'm sure the US has wargamed lots of different scenarios. The US military used to do this all the time back before they had a nice live war to concentrate on. The theory is to keep your top people busy and have some kind of contingency for anything the world throws at you. I'm sure the civil government does the same. Doesn't mean they are planning to initiate any of these things.

From what I found - the 6900 series goes back to the 1970's.

And give the bit about 'seizing the cattleyards' and 'horders of food/fuel to be identified' - I'm rather sure someone who reads in the 'survivalists' circles knows of a link to the plans.

From National Defense University, whoever they are:


"It is possible that the United States could adopt a neo-isolationist policy that eschewed any overseas military involvement while the nation healed its own economic wounds. The resulting effect in the international system is not something current defense policies envision.

Even if desired, formulating plans to hedge against this wildcard would be extremely difficult. First, a defense policy based on the potential for economic collapse would certainly not be a confidence builder in the domestic economy. Likewise, it would be at odds with current policies on world trade and investment. It would be difficult for most administrations to exhort popular faith in economic growth at the same time its Defense Department appears to be planning for economic collapse.

Secondly, an economic collapse could put current friends or allies of the United States into the have-not camp. It would not appear prudent for the Department of Defense to construct formal plans for defense against our current friends and allies--at least, not if we want them to remain friends and allies.

Thirdly, an economic collapse could mean considerable reduction in the defense budget...

an economic collapse could mean considerable reduction in the defense budget...

The response may be more:

RE: Plug-in cars could actually increase air pollution

God the USA Today is such drivel. Obviously its much easier to capture C02 at power plants (and possibly turn it into profit) than it is to capture the exhaust of 100 million vehicles. Geez.

Not to mention that a plug-in car can be as clean as you want it to be. (If you decide to charge using solar and wind power.) Also, if we clean up the grid, we also clean up the plug-in cars! (While the standard ICE cars get continually worse with time.)

"Obviously its much easier to capture C02 at power plants (and possibly turn it into profit) than it is to capture the exhaust of 100 million vehicles".

and are the power plants capturing co2 now ?

and a follow up question, why not if its(sic) so easy ?


Solar Power to Rule in 20 Years, Futurists Say

He predicted the fall of the Soviet Union. He predicted the explosive spread of the Internet and wireless access.Now futurist and inventor Ray Kurzweil is part of distinguished panel of engineers that says solar power will scale up to produce all the energy needs of Earth's people in 20 years.

Solar power rules when petroleum power fails. As it was in the beginning, is now (with a temporary hiatus) and ever shall be.

It's a no-brainer--there really isn't any other source of power but solar. Just what form it will take is not so clear-- trees and hay or high tech panels (nano-leaves?)

Oil is solar power also. Outside of mantle heating which is linked to radioactive substances and probably a result of the impact of the moon causing the earths crust to differentiate we depend on solar energy for all our needs.

The problem is we are now looking at using the energy of a single year instead of millions of years. Thats why solar and wind are so problematic. Coal and petroleum represent solar energy concentrated over millions of years.

At the present time, we are all trustifarians, living off the accumulated capital of Mother Ship Earth. That may well be ending.

What we know from history and archeology and geology is that a limited number of people can live very well, in balance with other species, on the year's allotment of the Sun's energy. Balance points have probably been rare in the past, and massive dieoffs have been the rule, of course.

For me, the main question is "can consciousness change any of this?"

That is what interests me as well NeverLNG. And I don't have an answer. My instinct and my intellect tells me that living organisms have some sort of collective intelligence, that perhaps Life itself does and that it strives ever for survival. Whether its teleogical or not, is perhaps irrelevant, Nature produced consciousness as an adaptive advantage, seemingly, perhaps, precisely to deal with arising complexity. If Life and living systems have a deeper or wider collective intelligence, and I sense that they do, then they must know that to ensure long term survival they must evolve to the point where they can expand beyond the biosphere of one single planet.
If we are to survive on any other planet, then we must learn the skills of properly managing them, starting with this one. If we don't, then we'll never leave, but I would hazard to guess that eventually some life form will leave Earth, whether it resembles us or not, in body or mind, remains to be seen.

If we are to survive on any other planet, then we must learn the skills of properly managing them, starting with this one. If we don't, then we'll never leave, but I would hazard to guess that eventually some life form will leave Earth, whether it resembles us or not, in body or mind, remains to be seen.

I entirely agree with the sentiments, and I'm afraid that we never will leave. A huge pity, because I think life could have spread from Earth if the concentrated energy had in some way fallen to more farsighted beings. But what we're doing now is not only burning the energy, but dispersing all useful concentrations of useful elements. The energy and materials simply won't be there for another species to make it to space in a sustainable way, and to my mind that's a huge tragedy.

Our municipal garbage dumps (especially USA) will be a fascinating resource in a couple of million years.

And copper and gold will be more concentrated than there were 10,000 years ago, etc.


Hell, they're a fascinating resource NOW. But the odds of our descendants, or mutant rats, etc, building starships out of them are pretty slim. Alloying and materials infrastructure won't bounce back... and although stuff like copper and gold may well be concentrated, it won't necessarily be logically distributed and accessible. The mutants may learn to make decent bicycles and wheelbarrows out of landfill debris and even find some frisbies that'll still fly, but creating a fleet of spaceships to move life off-planet? No, and it's a shame. I was one of those geeks who hung around Gerard O'Neill in the day. I could build a pretty good rocket out of landfill junk, but not to achieve orbit. Might be a good X-prize goal.

Me, too.
IMHO Western society has suffered from a failure of nerve, and we could be enjoying radically different prospects had we made efforts to greatly reduce lift costs.

The Earth is not really a good location for a technologically advanced civilisation - ice ages can be pretty inconvenient.

Sigh, agree with the above.

However, I haven't yet totally given up on the Skyhook concept.


Can we hold it together until 2031?

But we are creatures of the earth, this is our home. What we need to be doing is learning to do a better job of living harmoniously on the earth rather than trying to escape it.

Our robots can explore the stars. They won't need life support, so the engineering problem of designing robots for journeys of multiple light years in distance would be easy compared to manned interstellar travel.

Absolutely agree.

But it might have been possible, there might have been an energy window, to move life permanently beyond the earth and industry off it, and that's no small dream to have died.

Robots are clearly the only way to explore these days, and I love the programs. But it might have been possible to be more.

The thing is, though, that for every step humankind has taken into space, our robots got there first. In fact, they are getting there to increasingly more places first, and increasingly far away. I think that one could come up with some sort of space exploration "Moore's Law" to the effect that as human exploration advances linearly, robotic exploration will advance exponentially. It must be so, for robots have the advantage of not needing life support. It must be tens of times, if not hundreds of times, more difficult and complicated to send something out into space when life support is involved. This is something fundamental that can't change, so robots are ALWAYS going to lead the way, however far we ever go.

NASA propaganda to the contrary, there is hardly anything to be done in space that can't be done better by robots than by us. We are adapted to the earth, but they are not encumbered by our limitations. In some ways, robots might even be said to be better adapted to space than to earth: no gravity to cause friction, no oxygen or water to cause corrosion, no atmospheric resistance to have to overcome.

So even if, in a counterfactual history, we had ended up with enough energy and other resources to populate space with people on a large scale, I have serious doubts whether it would have been done. The comparative advantage that robots inherently have over humans would guarantee that it would be far more economical to leave the vast bulk of space activity to the robots instead of to us. Which is, in fact, exactly what has happened, if you compare the number of robotic missions that have been launched into space vs. the number of manned ones.

We probably needed to send a few people into space for a few years just to find out what it was like and to prove to ourselves that we could do it. Actually having a few of us set foot on something other than the earth was a nice species-wide ego-booster. But the returns of continuing manned space flight are diminishing very rapidly now. It really does make more sense to just leave the robots to it from here on out. The sooner we do that, the more likely we will be to preserve enough resources to just maybe keep the effort going on a long term basis.

But one thing, WNC.

You're applying a set of logical reasons to this, which is fine, but misses one of the main Human components that started the thing in the first place. Desire. Robots don't 'want' to go, except as they are simply extensions of our own desires as exploratory and inquisitive primates to see how high we can climb, to see what's on the other side of the mountains..

We often ask what is the gain of the Moonshots, the space program, etc. And People do come up with answers, because we like to try to find the answer, once a question is out there.. another part of our inquisitiveness. But I don't think that really explains why we went in the first place. Aviation, Electronic Computing and Communications and Rocketry (and High-Powered Fuels) showed up on the scene and combined to open up a new door to someplace we hadn't poked our down-angled, aquatic nostrils yet, and we just had to go. The 'reasons' to do it came next.

Just a thought.


I've no argument with any of your reasoning on space exploration; as always your comments are lucid and well-made. No, what I was speaking to was something a bit more wistfully vague: a larger destiny for life itself in the solar system and universe. Whether or not that would have been thermodynamically possible at all, it certainly won't happen at this point. There were some decent scientists in the '70's taking it seriously; I mentioned Gerard O'Neill, and there were others. Robots are wonderful for space stuff - and I've known a lot of those sending them into space - but I cut my teeth on Heinlein books and the space program and miss that sense of purpose, even if it may have been misguided....

Maybe we came from some place else?

Speculation is fascinating, but the challenge is dealing with a consciousness and a will that seems to be bent on creating problems as much as solving them.

I do hold with those who believe that consciousness can evolve -- but at the moment, holding that position is somewhat tenuous.

If you mean panspermia, maybe we're all martians or something from back in the dim and misty.

One of the real bummer aspects of all this is that consciousness has evolved many times, and the plague apes are taking all the currently conscious races down with them with a shrug.

"One of the real bummer aspects of all this is that consciousness has evolved many times, and the plague apes are taking all the currently conscious races down with them with a shrug."

Oh greenish...

are you sure it's the plague apes who are taking everybody down?

BTW, have you been watching "Planet of the Apes"? I'm no biologist, so perhaps your ape theory of consciousness has nothing to do with the movie, but it jumped into my head the minute I finished your post.

What's next? Rambo-survivalism?

This is all just a bit too silly.

Gee, tickled tibia, glad to see that planetary destruction gives you the giggles, I'd hate to think it was wasted.

A fair number of species have met the test of self-awareness at this point, and I conducted some of that research on some of them. The theories weren't mine, they're those of the experts in the field.

And yes, it's the plague apes, homo pyromanius, who get credit. Do you not realize you're taxonomically an ape, or do you not claim to be conscious? Either choice is suitably funny, I suppose, by the thin standards you've brought into play here.

And I entirely miss your logical jump from apes to Rambo. I guess you just free-associate and ramble to see if anyone notices?

Napoleon managed his return from Isle d'Elba. He did not have to rummage the dumps to build a man-rated, hermetic tub capable of escape velocity to an utterly unknown destination, much less any "return".

Hi Memmel, got some last questions here: if you please ;-)


We consume about 400 years worth of stored solar energy ever day. Another words, the energy consumed from fossil fuels in a single day, it took about 400 years for nature to capture and store as fossil fuels. If we had to replace Fossil fuels with solar we would need to reduce our consumption by a factor of 146K.

I believe it is time to put this argument in proper perspective.

It is not 400 years of earths total biomass.
It is 400 years of that part of earths biomass that was converted to fossil fuel. What part of this years biomass will eventually be converted to FF?

Well that part of total biomass for the next 400 years that is converted to FF in the distant future will provide 1 days current consumption of FF.

Most of this years Biomass will become part of the topsoil, H2O and CO2 as it always has in the past.

"If we had to replace Fossil fuels with solar we would need to reduce our consumption by a factor of 146K."

What do you suppose the temperature of the earth would be if we burned the equivelant of 400 years of the earths biomass each day!?

Solar Power to Rule in 20 Years

Errr, solar power already rules.

Wind, hydro, fossil fuels are all energy expressions of photons.

"Solar Power to Rule in 20 Years
Errr, solar power already rules.
Wind, hydro, fossil fuels are all energy expressions of photons."

We might want to be a little clearer. As I see it there's ONLY nuclear. Solar based nuclear is the first parent and causes wind, hydro, and in the cosmically recent past all fossil fuels.

So really nuclear rules.

If you want to be technical, nuclear is stellar (if not solar, in the limited sense). Fusion of primordial hydrogen or helium would be the only energy source I can think of that didn't use the stored energy of some star.

it's all just angular momentum, if you want to get even more precise.
sometimes in the orbits of nuclear particles, sometimes in the orbits of galaxies.. it's all the same though.

Ah... angular momentum. You speak my language zurisee.

But how will it help us? Without petroleum, without the financial system of today's world... the laboratories cannot function. Research is over.

To me that is the saddest part of this whole debacle.

Without petroleum, without the financial system of today's world... the laboratories cannot function. Research is over.

So what happened from 10,000 BC to the 1800's? No 'research'? Man went from avoiding ice flows to using iron for buildings/transportation/making guns just by pure happenstance?

Correct. It would not disappear, it would just slow down. That would be a good thing.


I'm somehow reminded of a ten year old dweeb at the drug store fountain arguing with his friends about which super-hero is superior.

Does it really matter folks?

Who's gonna build you a nuclear plant? your grand dad?

Of course it matters!
If it didn't matter, none of us would waste our time blogging.

The Green Lantern is obviously the super-duperest, super-hero.

Well, you did get the first part right... but the super-duperest of them all has got to be the Green Hornet. After all, only a truly great super hero would get to drive Black Beauty.



All human civilization is solar powered. All our food is produced either directly or indirectly from plants, which may be thought of as solar collectors. Sure, there's often a subsidy from FF's to increase yields in mechanized agriculture, but the solar input is much larger as the plants capture only a few percent of the incident sunlight. Making food directly from FF's may be possible, but the world appears to be heading in the opposite direction, that is, making fuel from food crops.

E. Swanson

And so the world shall starve.
It's almost poetic. In a hideous sort of way.

Even though peak oil dictates that food production will decline, some numb-scull had to fall in love with ethanol.

The 1% Renewable number quoted in the Kurzweil article is deceptive in regard to the solar contribution.

The EIA shows Renewable Energy Generating Capacity and Generation:
2006 Reference Case:

Solar Thermal............ 0.40
Solar Photovoltaic....... 0.o3
Total Renewable......... 96.34

2010 Reference Case:
Solar Thermal............ 0.54
Solar Photovoltaic....... 0.07
Total Renewable........ 111.54


This is like spitting in the ocean.
Mere exponential cornucopia?

Ah I see.

So the 96.34 Gigawatts are the "1% Renewable number quoted in the Kurzweil article"

That means solar is really 0.0000446% of our energy production. My my that's truly tiny.

I knew it was small, but I had no idea it was that small. Wew. We have a long way to go folks.

Yeah, Kurzweil is wildly optimistic. That said, the nikumpoop has a point. But it would take a massive effort to meet all energy needs by solar in 20 years. For my part, I like the solar energy plan submitted by the Scientific American a little while back.

10 billion a year for 40 years covers transportation with solar energy in a V2G scenario. In my opinion, we need to start now.

Actually, when you consider the fact that it ain't sunny in midwinter in New York or London, so you would need massive transmission lines, over-provision of power as even in the Mohave in midwinter you only get around a quarter of the sunlight that you do at the height of the summer, and huge amounts of storage that we don't know how to do save perhaps for the Scientific American idea of burning huge quantities of natural gas (!) to reheat compressed air, what it actually takes is a flight of utter fantasy, or better yet a total disconnection with reality, which a lot of folk don't seem to find at all difficult.

Or we could - [GASP!] - just learn to live within the constraints of what is seasonally available, powering down and scaling back and hunkering down in the wintertime like most people have done for most of humankind's history. Instead of continuing to think that going full blast 24/7/365 is somehow a normative and desirable state of affairs.

For some stats on what can be achieved in London see the series of articles in The Inquirer

Solar panels deliver a year of juice

By Mike Magee: Tuesday, 12 February 2008, 9:47 AM

IT IS NIGH on a year since 15 solar panels were installed on the roof of INQ Central, so we thought we’d bring you this last update before we shuffle off our tabloid coil.

Since installation, the price of bijli (electricity) has gone up a bit, but we haven’t paid a bill since this time last year. Eon has been delivering cheques regularly, and we’re in credit, so have to keep remembering to get the supplier to refund us.

Unfortunately that just shows that you can make a lot of money from subsidies.

The solar panels at our latitude give excess power in the summer when it is not needed, and still draw down from the gird when it is.

That is besides the installation subsidies.

Solar PV usually works best where it is sunny, although solar thermal is more economic if that is what you are using - your excerpt is not clear.

The solar panels at our latitude give excess power in the summer when it is not needed, and still draw down from the gird when it is.

Of course, you could always use the excess Summer generation to create an energy store, such as Anhydrous (sp) Ammonia, to be burned in the winter when it's needed.

No single technology is going to get us out of the mess we've created for ourselves, so we're going to have to be clever and use a mix.

I'm a big booster of solar power, don't get me wrong. But taking Kurzweil as an authority on "scaling up" is a bit risky. He thinks, no kidding, that he will never physically die and his mind will be put into an immortal robot. That's his "plan A". He thinks that pretty much anyone who lives 15 more years will be immortal, because he sees average life expectancy growing at the rate of 3 months a year.

He long on back-of-the-envelope extrapolations of his self-imagined trends, and seems short on understanding of complex systems. He's simply offering another flavor of religion for those who prefer trendy illogic to the more dated variety.

Tainter's diminishing returns will trump Kurzweil's "accelerating returns", which probably are ultimately based simply on miniaturization and the concomitant speed and power of computer processing. It's nice for spreadsheets, but you can't eat it.

It's a pity, but he's a nut. Still, best hopes for solar power.

The link above: Angola: Oil Production Reaches 1.9 Mn Barrels Per Day

The EIA's International Petroleum Monthly has Angola producing 1.94 Mn Barrels Per Day C+C in November 2007. Yet this article says they are producing 1.9 mb/d "from the previous 1.7 million until the end of 2007." I wonder why the EIA has Angola producing so much more oil than Angola says they are producing?

Perhaps they are talking about average per day production in 2007? If that be the case, and the EIA is correct with their November numbers, then Angola reached her peak, thus far, in November and is now down slightly in January.

Ron Patterson

Well, Ron, yesterdays' DB featured this Bloomberg story

"Feb. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil producer.."

It amazes me how easily people write down stuff without checking if it means what they are trying to communicate.

Edit2: This allafrica news source may also just be rounding off numbers for January production at 1.94 mbd.

Fewer Youths Jump Behind the Wheel at 16

DETROIT — For generations, driver’s licenses have been tickets to freedom for America’s 16-year-olds, prompting many to line up at motor vehicle offices the day they were eligible to apply.

No longer. In the last decade, the proportion of 16-year-olds nationwide who hold driver’s licenses has dropped from nearly half to less than one-third, according to statistics from the Federal Highway Administration.

The bad news: one reason is that the kids would rather sit around inside and surf the web or play video games than drive someplace and see their friends in person.

The bad news: one reason is that the kids would rather sit around inside and surf the web or play video games than drive someplace and see their friends in person.

It might cut down on social interaction, but I don't really see this as a bad thing. The only times I ended up doing any criminal activity in my youth was when I was with friends. Odd how that works out...

Sociologically, it is common in our society to rebel against and disregard authority and law from ages 15 to 25.

It's the expression of the desire for independence, the frustration at not having sufficient say in the direction of one's one life, and rebellion against the myriad modern tyrannies of childhood and adolescence.

Abundantly displayed is the tendency to rebel against law well past age 25. What else can you say about the financial meltdown other than the guys who did it are crooks, who have no regard for law (unless they make it.)

Somehow I prefer kids occasionally siphoning off fuel for their cars from mine, rather than staying home, becoming complete nerds and someday shooting off their classmates or neighbors. Personally I learnt not to steal as a kid after I checked out the wallet of my aunt one day... eh those days

LOL... I don't know how nerds suddenly become a prerequisite for a craze gunman.

I can think of tons of other bad behaviors among such killers that has nothing to do with being a nerd or a video game addict. These kids are usually outcasts, but a more tell-tale sign is that they had a history of acting out, not unlike said behavior such as stealing gasoline from cars. That is very different from lazy kids, sitting on the couch playing games or reading comic books.

Above all, it really have little to do with specific habits or behavior. What's more relevant is that these kids have experience with guns, and have access to adults who had guns. I'm not saying that owning a gun is the main reason why they kill, but I'm be more weary of kids who are obsessed with shooting REAL guns than kids playing video games for fun.

Play more Kohan.... keeps you from commiting crimes.

Hi Dur! (DRG~Marduk)

Not mentioned are changes in laws regarding the minimum driving age, especially in California.

I'm getting the feeling the customary introductions to $100 crude have now been completed.

See you at $150 then.

Looks like they may be getting ready to close a few banks:

In job postings on its Web site, the FDIC said it is looking for people with "skill in performing duties associated with a financial-institution closing, such as receivership management, resolutions and/or asset disposition; knowledge of the resolutions process as it relates to complex financial institutions." Such positions would require "very frequent overnight travel," the posting said, and would pay up to $180,770.

hightrekker...could you please provide a link? Thanks.

Great...that isn't encouraging!!!

You can read the whole article here

But the spin is telling you not to panic.
CNBC had Sam Zell on this morning " when Citibank takes a 10 billion $ hit, that doesn't mean they don't have 10 billion less money the next day, it means that their portfolio has been marked down"

About 6mins in

I am reminded of a British Prime Minister called Harold Wilson years ago, who made comments about the pound in our pockets still being worth a pound - after we had just had a massive devaluation! An economy out of control during a Labour Government - as now!

Yesterday I did some simple calculations to find out what the per capita production of cereal crops is in the US, Canada and other nations as a prelude to developing an objective measure of food security.

Turns out the US is in very fine shape by that measure. Only Canada and Australia produce more per capita. You could say the US has food to burn, which of course they do (fermenting it first).

In fact, startlingly, the US with 4.5% of the worlds population, produces 17% of its cereal crops.

Source: the UN

To this, Leanan replied:

The amazing thing is that the US is now a net importer of food...

Did some googling and found that this is a very common fallacy in peak oil and survivalist circles. The mistake here is to confuse measuring food exports/imports by dollar value as opposed to some other measure like calories.


Say your friendly Iowa farmer orders 5 bottles of Dom Perignon to celebrate a bumper crop of corn sold at a record price.

The bill for the bubbles runs about: $750.

How much corn did Farmer Jack have to sell to gross that much?

At $5.20 a bushel, he parted with 144 bushels.

Now what is the comparison calorie-wise?

This source says there are 134,000 calories per bushel.

Corn calories: 134,000 x 144 = ~19,000,000

Wine calories: 5 x 532 = ~2700

The dollar value is equal but the calorie content differs by many orders of magnitude. The champagne would keep 1 person blissfully nourished for a day or so but the corn would keep 20 people alive for a year. (If I haven't flubbed the math) An extreme case, indeed, but it gets closer to the truth than saying "the US is now a net food importer" and implying we should be horrified at this.

If you want to determine how food-secure the US is currently, a crude measure is to add up the calories produced and divide by the population

Hint: calories produced per capita is very large and growing. It is likely several times what the population needs. There are very few countries that equal or better it. (and those are close allies!)

calories produced per capita is very large and growing. It is likely several times what the population needs. There are very few countries that equal or better it.

I thought the cause of the exponential population growth in recent centuries is that the required extra food production and Fossil Fuel use are correlated - so, no surprise there! - as I think you will find that the average US citizen (to say nothing of the farmers) uses more fossil fuel than most people in the world!

As the world population climbs towards 8 billion by around 2020, follow the food - expect immigrants - or will you shoot them at the border?

Is the food excess evenly produced across all the USA states? ... or are some states 'net exporters' and some 'net importers'?

Farmers know the that calorie production from corn is way over the requirements of the U.S. population. That is why hog factories molest the land. The subsidized corn was so cheap that feeding it to hogs was a no brainer. The other plague on Americans was turning corn into high fructose corn syrup. These misallocations of resources need to be corrected. Ethanol is benign compared to hogs and high fructose corn syrup. Exporting corn loses the energy calories as they are inappropriately priced compared to oil. Foreign purchasers gain calories at a discount to oil. They are for the most part relatively wealthy countries like Japan and China. They feed the "food" to animals just as we do. Few exported corn bushels end up as human food and only in the most desperate situations. In any case there is plenty of corn, albeit at a higher price, to meet the needs of those who have to eat raw corn. Those in that desperate a situation are not buying but living off international or domestic aid.

Corn (see tortillas) is a staple food in Mexico and other parts of Latin America. And they pay for it.

Odd that you have gone kosher and think pork is not fit for human consumption and wish the demise of "hog factories". Their conversion ratio (corn > meat) is better than beef but not as good as chicken. Getting rid of the beef factories would be a better idea, eat grass feed beef instead. And what better place to put "hog factories" than in corn country ?

meet the needs of those who have to eat raw corn. Those in that desperate a situation

Odd that you should say that as I munched on an ear of white sweet corn, microwaved in the shuck for 3.5 minutes. I know white sweet is not #2 dent, but the irony was certainly there !

Best Hopes for Eating Corn (on the cob, grits, cornbread, tortillas, mixed with tomatoes, etc.)


I agree that calories are the best way to size up real economics, but you are approaching thin ice.
imo a net calorie approach needs to be taken. eg. how many cal. did it take to produce the grain subtracted from the total produced. how many cal. went into the production (a value added product) of the champagne blah blah blah, I'm sure you get my point, it becomes fairly complicated.

I agree that calories are the best way to size up real economics...

I don't think I'm saying that. Truth be told, using money as a unit of account works well for most purposes, in my view. But food security is one of the exceptions.

The reason it doesn't work there is because what we need most (air, water, staples) is actually quite cheap in the US though rising.

In Japan, it's not as cheap but still cheap, in comparison to average income. However, I doubt they could feed themselves if it came to it. (Haven't crunched all the numbers but 94kg cereals production per person is really cutting it fine. More is produced per capita in Ethiopia. No wonder they are hounding the poor whales).

didn't mean to put words in your mouth

So, by your reasoning, Saudis shouldn't worry about peak oil, because, well, they're the Saudi Arabia of oil. ;-)

I honestly don't understand why you think this is relevant when it comes to people who want to grow their own food. They've been saying this for decades: the problem isn't that we don't produce enough calories to feed the world, it's that infrastructure or poverty do not allow everyone equal access to those calories.

No that's obviously not what he's saying. He's saying that the US produces enormous amounts of food and could easily feed itself without imports if it came down to it. This was in response to a claim that the US is a net importer of food. If people were genuinely starving they would restict the export of food through export duties and have plenty of food for themselves. This is already happening in other countries around the world.

It the appears to me (but may not be the case) that when you realised he was right you then changed the argument to something completely different.

You came in in the middle. This is a continuation of a discussion that started yesterday.

And probably should have stayed in yesterday's DrumBeat. Not least because people who wander in late don't understand the discussion.

Au contraire I think he basically nailed it.

To bolster the whole grow-your-own-food thing, the claim is routinely advanced that "the US is now a net food importer" just as you did yesterday.

It's undeniable that you raised that claim in precisely that context.

You even found it "amazing". As if it's strange that rich people like expensive foreign products.

Which is better? Czech beer or American beer? :-)

In that case, I don't think you understood what I meant.

Dollars matter, not calories, and I don't see that changing. People who want to grow their food aren't necessarily worried we won't be capable of producing enough calories. They're worried that they won't be able to afford said calories, or won't have access to them for other reasons. And that fact that rich people will be able and willing to pay more for those calories - whether they're in the form of filet mignon or pricey champagne or ethanol for their cars - is the problem, not the solution.

It's been said here many times: if we stopped eating meat, we'd have more than enough grain to feed all the people, with plenty of extra in case of climate emergency, drought, etc.

But who believes that we'll actually do that?

They're worried that they won't be able to afford said calories, or won't have access to them for other reasons.

I agree, plus they may want better quality food.

Do you have a link to that story about mineral deficient food?

This one?

And yes, people like Sharon Astyk (who are walking the walk, not just talking) seem to be as motivated by the quality of the food as by food security. And also, many are concerned about what agribusiness is doing to the planet, and don't want to support it.

Plus, I think many people just like growing things. Gardening is the fastest growing hobby in the US. (Though I imagine the mortgage crisis might change that.)

Michael Pollan also has some very intersting things to say about our 'food' supply: http://www.alternet.org/healthwellness/77330/?page=entire

That's the one. I remembered that article when a local station ran a story on the reported benefits from drinking (in moderation) high mineral content water from Mineral Wells, Texas: "Crazy Water #4."


Say again?

What does this have to do with your comment yesterday? ....

The amazing thing is that the US is now a net importer of food, and that the UN predicts the US and Canada will no longer have food to export by 2020, due to "exportland" issues.


I'm trying to understand it in terms of what you are saying today. Can you break it down phrase by phrase?

And I asked for a reference on the 2020 claim but haven't yet been obliged. :-)

>>Dollars matter, not calories, and I don't see that changing.

You must have the innards of goat, Leanan. :-)

I'm trying to understand it in terms of what you are saying today. Can you break it down phrase by phrase?

I'll try.

"the US is now a net importer of food"

Obviously, we aren't eating all the food we produce, at least in its off the farm state. So this is a comment on our high consumption. In dollars, not calories.

"and that the UN predicts the US and Canada will no longer have food to export by 2020"

The UN report (which was covered on CNN - haven't seen it online) was about 1) high consumption 2) the fast-growing US population and 3) dropping grain yields due to unpredictable weather, falling water tables, and soil exhaustion.

"due to 'exportland' issues."

We'll be eating all we consume, due to our rapidly increasing population (and high consumption rates, of course).

But that report didn't take peak oil into consideration.

You must have the innards of goat, Leanan. :-)

I think the difference may be that you are Canadian. You seem to have a trust that your government and your fellow citizens will do the right thing, should it become necessary. Many of us US-ians do not have that faith.

In any case, you said in yesterday's DB that you were trying to reassure us Americans. I'm telling you that you are going about it the wrong way. You're addressing the wrong worries.

I think what the "back to the land" people are really fearing - the ones that are motivated by fear (not all are) - is that the US will become a Third World nation. The kind of place where oil is exported but poor people can't afford to heat their homes. Where luxury crops like cacao are grown by the labor of people who don't have enough to eat. That it will be some other country (Russia, China, Saudi Arabia) that is "eating the world" (as we are now), while we feed them.

I think what the "back to the land" people are really fearing - the ones that are motivated by fear (not all are) - is that the US will become a Third World nation.

For me, that's not a "fear", it is simply a "planning assumption".

Well, I remain confused:

1) Apparently there is a UN study saying US and Canada will have no food exports by 2020. Not only do we not have the study, we don't have any links to anybody discussing it or citing it. However, it sounds like the sort of thing that any number of blogs would be all over like stink on cheese.

2) Yesterday, I took aim at grow-it-yourself activists because they ignore the current huge abundance. Accepting your interpretation of your reply, you were saying the activists are justified because we will eat through this abundance and soon have nothing to export. That's why the US being a net-food-importer by dollars is amazing. The American appetite is amazingly huge. It will eat itself out of house and home. In response to this, Americans should grow their own food.

3) But now, to quote...

I think what the "back to the land" people are really fearing - the ones that are motivated by fear (not all are) - is....it will be some other country (Russia, China, Saudi Arabia) that is "eating the world" (as we are now), while we [the US] feed them.

So, the US transitions from being a nation that can't feed itself because of overconsumption and other problems (see 2 above. No exports) to a nation that is exploited by others for its food abundance and becomes a lowly food exporter nation to powerful foreigners. In response to this, individual Americans should grow their own food!?!?

Confusing as heck!!

I'm telling you that you are going about it the wrong way. You're addressing the wrong worries.

For the record, I obviously don't have the gift for reassuring folks with free-floating irrational anxiety. That's what this seems to be. I can't make sense of it rationally. I share Stuart's frustration.

But if folks are willing to subject their fears to analysis, and bring reason to bear....

You seem to have a trust that your government and your fellow citizens will do the right thing, should it become necessary.

They would do the right thing, if it came to it. It's built into the system. But it's often more calculation than virtue. You don't have to believe they are good. I pay my taxes and I'm not good!! We have over a century of history of advanced nations at times under heavy stress. Who abandoned their citizens to starvation?

Yes, we presently still have considerable abundance in food. However, speaking for myself (and possibly reflecting the thoughts of some others), I know for a fact that there is a learning curve involved, and that it is only prudent to be on the learning curve BEFORE food is no longer abundant and you actually DO need to depend upon your own efforts to produce much of your own food. I've been gardening off and on for thirty five years now, and I am still learning a lot each year. With all due respect, if anyone thinks that they are going to start gardening only when and if they absolutely have to depend upon their own production, they are very much mistaken. You need a head start.

There is also the issue of building up soil tilth and fertility. Most of us start out working with less than ideal soils. It can take several years of generous soil amendment and cover cropping to build up the organic matter in soil to the point where it will hold an optimal amount of moisture and be at a sustainable level of natural fertility. You need a head start.

Then there is also the issue of perennial fruits and vegetables. It will take several years after planting before you begin to get good harvests. Again, you need a head start.

Not everyone will get that head start. It would definitely be preferable if more rather than fewer people in each community got that head start, though.

Food security isn't the only issue, though. For some of us, it is also a household budget issue. IF you have made your way up the learning curve, and IF you have build up your soil, and IF you have already planted some perennial fruits and vegetables, then growing a lot of your own food in a home vegetable garden (or at a community garden) is a way to save some money. Even if food is abundantly available at the supermarket, and at a reasonable price, people might still want to grow their own food. The reason: because this is something they CAN do to save some money.

Who abandoned their citizens to starvation?

Soviet Union - Ukraine 1930s

United States of America - New Orleans for 5 days after Katrina


I'm a mechanic so I'll try this using the modern car. Back in the day most everybody could basically understand and keep their old jalopy running. Alan's Mercedes aside, How many of us would start tinkering under the new car hood today. Why not? Mainly complexity. or perhaps warranty :-)

The news today has given us a glimpse of how modern economic war is being waged nation on nation. Tariffs, embargoes, international lawsuits. And if one powerful but unendowed nation takes exception to their perceived treatment by another 'lesser' resource rich upstart, they just could lose patience. The ensuing disruption will easily wreak havoc on supply lines, trade agreements, and BAU in general not to mention the cost and availiability of food and fuel out at the end of the pipe. The essentials don't reach the economy's engine.

Then there are other systems in our car. What happens when a computer glitch causes a grid portion to go down from one small sub failure. Can't happ..er well did happen. Or if suddenly those cards we all swipe at the pump didn't work because of a network or power failure. How would food be produced in modern USA if we breached minimum operating levels on the Plantation or Colonial pipelines and that persisted for a week or more. How could that happen...oooh let me count the ways.

If this is all too sudden and apocalyptic consider what has happened to the price of just a few of the staples of modern life in the past year or so, say crude oil, grains, and steel. Under what conditions do we anticipate these trends reversing and what are the consequences when they do not. One by one the forward GDP of consumer nations will grind to a halt and begain to decline. First the resource poor and unindustrious then the rest. The flow of energy and capital trends now well established internationally will continue and accelerate. And what of the nations heavily dependent on processed food, JIT supply chains, and huge inputs of fertilizer and pesticides to produce crop yields? Food and energy prices for individuals within those countries coming up short will be devastating.

Like the modern car the system is complex and a simple disruption of only one of it's myriad parts will render it's hulking mass inert until some very specialized repair is made in just the right way with just the right part. Disrupt it in some fundamental way it simply quits or limps along helplessly. Starve it for fuel same result. No part no function. No fuel no food. No net or power, no pay, no trade, no orders, no money.

IMHO much of this describes modern North America. Yeah I think a little bit of home gardening skills in this day and age are definately a real good thing. Think of it as that simple old car you'd keep around just in case.

Apparently there is a UN study saying US and Canada will have no food exports by 2020. Not only do we not have the study, we don't have any links to anybody discussing it or citing it. However, it sounds like the sort of thing that any number of blogs would be all over like stink on cheese.

There are blogs that discussed it. It's an older study. Ca. 2004, I think. I remember FTW mentioning it, and I'm sure there were others, too.

Yesterday, I took aim at grow-it-yourself activists because they ignore the current huge abundance. Accepting your interpretation of your reply, you were saying the activists are justified because we will eat through this abundance and soon have nothing to export.

Not necessarily us.

So, the US transitions from being a nation that can't feed itself because of overconsumption and other problems (see 2 above. No exports) to a nation that is exploited by others for its food abundance and becomes a lowly food exporter nation to powerful foreigners.

I never said we can't feed ourselves. In fact, I said the opposite.

Confusing as heck!!

Sorry you're confused. I tried my best.

We have over a century of history of advanced nations at times under heavy stress.

I think what people are fearing is that we will cease to be an "advanced" nation.

"Grow your own food" is probably a good answer if the problem is a Great Depression-like event. Farmers who owned their own land did pretty well. They had food and fuel, which many others did not. A lot of city folk moved in with relatives who owned farms.

There wasn't mass starvation during the Great Depression (at least, not like in Ethiopia or something). But there was a lot of suffering, a lot of going to bed cold and hungry, a lot of waiting in line at soup kitchens, a lot of parents not eating so their children had food. I think that's what people are hoping to avoid.

It may not play out that way. But I think there are worse models you could use for what our future will be like.

Google searches go back a lot further than 2004.

That study doesn't exist.

(This phantom study is going to haunt you, believe me)

If it's not on the Internet, it doesn't exist. Got it.

It's not even mentioned on the internet.

No, you haven't got it.

It's mentioned. Here, for example.

Can you quote the section and the reference? All I see are references to dieoff.org. hee hee

This may be one of the early incarnations. Don't know if it was referenced or taken up later by other researchers.

If present trends in population growth, domestic food consumption, and topsoil loss continue, the U.S. food exports (and the income from them) will cease by 2030.

"Food, Land, Population, and the U.S. Economy", by Drs. David Pimentel and Marie Giampietro 2001

Yes, all that is pretty well right, and very germane. Other circles (err, even sometimes the same ones) argue that the US wields the 'food weapon' with too heavy a hand, and even goes so far as to decimate agriculture in other countries, by destroying the inputs -- e.g. electricity, water, seeds, communal organization in Iraq, virtually putting an end to productive agriculture and turning farms into deserts with disaffected people scrabbling in the dust or gazing at stagnant toxic pools of water, and slowly leaving or turning to jihad or drugs etc. It is said that these actions are in part meant to benefit allies (grain exporters) such as Canada and Australia.

The EIA said 08 crude would averag 81.33 at the begining of the year. Now they say 86 avg for 08, and 87 for Feb, however so far they are averaging $94 with 4 days of closes left in Feb.

WTI has been over $100 for the past 45 min.

Louisiana Sweet Spot Price: $103.82

Ended...104.07. Highest yet!

Mexico's oil output falls, Pemex needs cash infusion

Mexico will have to decide what to do with their national oil industry. I favor a partnership with big oil companies to bring in capital and know how to get things back on track. A complete privatization of the industry may not be necessary, although that might be what the oil companies and some governments might favor.

For any of what you suggest to happen, Mexico must amend its constitution. Further, there's no "back on track," as Mexico is in decline and that decline will continue no matter what. Politically, the Mexicans were astute enough to refuse the proportionality clause of NAFTA while the Canadians weren't. And like their brothers to the south, I doubt Mexicans will make any changes to their constitution because of the many historical lessons why it's in their best interests not to because of the shark living just to the north.

I'm busy this week, so haven't been able to follow much here, but did happen upon this graph that I thought some of you would find interesting.

Yep. The persistent myth of the US dollar as a constant, not a variable, is extremely hard to shake for many Americans (but it is starting).

Oil was cheap before 1973. The price of gold was fixed by Roosevelt in the 1930's at $35 an ounce. It stayed that way officialy until Nixon abandoned it in 1971. In the meantime a black market developed in gold in which the price was far higher.

"GOP should stop coddling Big Oil, make way for renewable energy..."

As much as I like to see progressive government, be careful what you wish for. They should look very closely at what they do. Unintended consequences can occur and make things worse. That does not mean that they should do nothing, but rather model the outcomes of actions and make sure the intent is achieved with minimal side effects.

There are limits to models - you can over analyze and under perform

Matt Simmon's latest presentation "PEAK OIL: Is It Real? When Might It Occur?" 2008-02-25 is quite interesting.

Look at slide #45. He thinks that by 2030 we have:

0.001% of creating an additional 32mm barrels/day
40% of undulating plateau
35% of 5% annual decline
25% of 10% annual decline "nightmare case" (his words)

Slide #54 shows a fork in the road for humans. I personally think we face the Mad Max scenario. Look at your fellow citizens and governments. Do they care about anyone else except themselves?

"Do they care about anyone else except themselves?"

They're probably wondering the same thing about you.

Wouldn't it be funny if everyone else was assuming the worst, too, but never asked anyone to find out, and we were actually only half-right?

Notice Simmons is saying the same thing I am.

I'm of course focusing on his nightmare case as being very possible. He gives it a 25% chance in slide 45. This is certainly not zero. Also he is questioning reserve additions like I am. I hope that all the data modelers wake up and take a hard look at all reserve additions.

Also I like how he goes into the issues in the GOM just like I do and the fact that discoveries where well in the past by the 1980's. Not that Hubbert made his world peak prediction using data available up to 1986. And he predicted a peak in 1995 and a URR of 1250. Give the way Simmons presents it we have no real reason to expect this to be a wrong estimate.

Its kinda cool that someone like Simmons is willing to present the nightmare case even though I'm like the only one I know that is trying to raise the issue.

The probability of a a nightmare ending is high and increasing every day. The recent rise to 100 dollars blew away all my more rosy scenarios. My old pond model even blew up. Which I find disconcerting since its the simplest model possible.

Anyway glad to see I'm not a single voice and its nice to see a person with influence increase peoples awareness that a very bad outcome has decidedly non zero probability.

Massive power outage hits Central and South Florida

MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- Massive power outages struck South Florida on Tuesday afternoon, with power reported out from Miami to Palm Beach County, police said.

The outage struck about 1:25 p.m., shortly after rainstorms passed through the region, Williams said. But the cause of the blackout was not immediately known.

Detective Robert Williams, a Miami-Dade County police spokesman, said power was out across the entire county.

Wow! You're fast Leanan, Seems there's eight power plants down including fossil and nuclear plants.

That can mean only one thing: a computer problem.

Any sources/links that say these plants are 'down'? everything on the news states that its simply a transmission problem most likely caused by severe storms that just passed through the area.

If you clicked on the link I posted, you would find this:

Stan Johnson, a spokesman for the North American Electric Reliability Council, said eight power plants were off-line across the region, but officials believe the outage has been contained.

Interesting on what they mean by 'down' though. I doubt the plants just completely stop functioning they are as they state "offline", I imagine they just are unable to transmit the power effectively due to the transmission problems.

I think they were probably shut down automatically via computer. That's what happened in Hawaii after the big earthquake.

Yes, that appears to be correct -

But antidoomer is also correct, "shut down" in this case means essentially off line.

Sorry no link (Dow Jones feed).

The North American Electric Reliability Council said that as of 1:09 p.m. EST, eight power plants were down - a mix of fossil and nuclear power plants, according to CNN. Turkey Point nuclear plant is among the eight powr plants reported down, according to MSNBC.

edit: two reactors shut down at Turkey Point

edit: FPL outage began when reactor was shut down for safety reasons. US Grid Monitor say's outage due to substation failure.

Microsoft Confirms Service Troubles For Hotmail

NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- Users of Hotmail and other Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) Web services are having trouble accessing their accounts, the company acknowledged Tuesday.

"We are aware that some customers may be experiencing difficulty accessing their Windows Live accounts," Microsoft said in an emailed statement. "We're actively investigating the cause and are working to take the appropriate steps to remedy the situation as rapidly as possible."

Looks like the hotmail problem hit first. Hope they don't use hotmail for managing Nuke plants :-).

. Hope they don't use hotmail for managing Nuke plants

Check one's Microsoft licenses - I believe they state the software is not to be used in Nuke plants.

(Now if Hotmail was still running FreeBSD....)

I ask again, what qualifies JHK as someone who is qualified to speak about peak oil? it certainly isn't his past record of predictions.

And a relevant question it is John IMO as well. Not to mention I can't stand that smug smirk on his face on his webpage, it rivals Lost's "Juliet" character as most grating smirk of all time.

Oh and don't forget the Dow Jones Industrial is still solidly over 3 Kunslter's.

Oh and don't forget the Dow Jones Industrial is still solidly over 3 Kunslter's.

Yes, oil is solidly over $100, the lights are starting to go out, the dollar is well on its way to toilet paper status, and famine is just around the corner. But the Dow is only down 10% since October. How are your dieoff preps coming, Anti?

the lights are starting to go out,

I see it took doomers all of 3 hours to turn a computer malfunction into blackouts caused by energy shortage apocolypse. sigh.

I see it took doomers all of 3 hours to turn a computer malfunction into blackouts caused by energy shortage apocolypse. sigh.

I'm sure the reference isn't totally referring to that instance. There's a lot of other "blackout" issues in the world. In advance, I aopolgize for the plug:


Can you disprove the statement: "There are less blackouts now than there used to be"?

As I have said dozens of times, the fact that you can google up lots of stories about blackouts does not in any way provide any evidence that the frequency is increasing. This has got to be the silliest doom indicator out there.


I agree that simply searching Google and posting any blackout as an indication of increasing grid failure is a stupid doom indicator. I think its relevant information to an energy site but no conclusions should be drawn.

Take a look at this though, its a bit meatier.


Far from disproving your statement but a little better

Great source. Thanks!

But it does specifically disprove Jack's statement.

* The frequency of large blackouts in the United States is not decreasing, and may in fact be increasing.
* More must be done if we are to actually increase the reliability of the bulk electricity system.

I'm not so sure. It says that

The United States ranks toward the bottom among developed nations in terms of the reliability of its electricity service.

Since neither you nor I live in the US, there is no reason we should use it as our sample. The implication here is that reliability is higher in other areas. It also says that the US could improve reliability.

In any case, I don't see any evidence in any of the linked reports that searching for power failures in Google tells us anything at all about the likelihood of pending doom.


It says exactly that. I copied and pasted the conclusions right from the article. How could it not say that?

Yes the US ranks poorly for reliability. But the article clearly said "The frequency of large blackouts in the United States is not decreasing". Which was exactly what you aked to be disproved.

At the moment I don't have the time or the inclenation to dig up data for other countries even if it was available. And for the most blackout prone areas I suspect its not.

I agree that based on the sample of the US the frequency of large blackouts is not decreasing. I am not interested in the US, but the world. Regardless I do accept that this data is useful.

However, the data in the various attached reports doesn't seem to confirm the claim, common here, that there is evidence of a pending collapse that can be shown by growing frequencies of blackouts.

The article does say that in the case of the US alone, blackouts may be increasing. It seems to imply that this is cause by a US-specific set of problems and that the situation elsewhere is different.

Do you think this shows that electricity systems around the world are approaching collapse?

Our reliability would be a lot better if we had put all of our transmission and distribution lines underground. This should have happened decades ago, when we really could have afforded to do it. Now, we've left them all out in the air, just waiting to be stripped down for their copper the moment that civil order breaks down. Not to mention being massively vulnerable to a terrorist hit.

Almost all transmission lines are aluminum with a steel strand or two.

Underground does not work well with even minor flooding.

Fear of terrorism is not a real threat for infrastructure. Even if "they" blow up on a major transmission tower on a hot August afternoon and cause a nulti-state blackout, I an not "terrorized". Irritated, yes.


I'm impressed. I didn't think you would actually find a study that had set out to disprove almost the same hypothesis.

I agree that this data is interesting, useful and relevant. My point was more along the line of your first sentence.

I don't actually have any substantive argument with Tainter or other collapse theories. In fact, I do think they may well describe an eventual future.

However, I don't think it is very useful to commenters to paste news of blackouts or fuel protests continually without any reference to cause or frequency, as some kind of proof that the end is near.

Thank you for a good reply.

"Despite decades of sober technical reports written by investigation teams in the aftermath of blackouts, the frequency of electric power outages in the United States is no less today than it was a quarter-century ago. Whether measured in terms of city-sized blackouts or smaller events, the statistics show that reliability has not improved. Indeed, if the data show any trend in the past few years, it is toward lower reliability."


Annual Disturbance Events
2000 31
2001 30
2002 15
2003 22
2004 61
2005 93
2006 85
2007 98

These stats are for the US only but do show a alarmingly increasing trend just since 2000.


Don't assume that compexity means stability, this power outage should demonstrate that to you - the USA is not yet short of adequate amounts of energy but try and learn from the example. One small component of a very complex machine fails and because the machine (in this case the grid) is so complex and interconnected the effects/symptoms are felt far and wide - trust me, this is increasingly common in the real world - there are several large, massively complex, systems that can be expected to fail unpredictably if there is insufficient energy, for example ... the world wide web.

Technology is just another way to use even more energy - eventually, the unbelievably huge resource of fossil fuels that drives our current technology will start to decline - we hope not too soon and not too rapidly when it starts to happen.

Judging by the examples of other countries in the world that are already experiencing life post-peak-oil, the stability you take for granted (because your part of the world has fortunately had adequate power for several decades) is unlikely to remain.

If you are wise you will plan accordingly - even (or maybe especially) if your government doesn't.

There are others who may be more technically qualified to talk about peak oil than Kunstler, but he was one of the first to make the connection between peak oil and the automobile-centered sprawl/debt-financed consumer economy that the U.S. will not be able to easily extract itself from. He's a journalist (I believe he once described himself as a "comedian"), who resorts to hyperbole to try and get across the magnitude of what we're up against. Yes, some of his predictions about where the stock market may go have been way off, and he has acknowledged that himself, but his contribution to the debate has been to take the current autopilot trajectory the U.S. is on to its logical extreme. He can be abrasive and in-your-face, but maybe that is what is needed to get people to sit up and understand what's going on. Anyway, I think he's great fun to read and listen to...

He is politically incorrect in the extreme, which is why I love to read him. He clarifies how much deception has become a cultural norm, whether for the media, business or government. There is a new show on TV and the tagline is "Is there an honest person left in America?". Classic.

You are taking him too seriously. He is over the top and he knows he comes across that way. He obviously can't be totally sure that he is correct, but what the hell, it's not hard to read a lot about the world's oil and economic situation, see the potential for a severe crisis to occur, observe the foolishness of basically everyone involved in creating it, and let it all out with apocalyptic articles denouncing all the fools involved. Its a type of thinking that comes from deciding that the society you live in has major major issues, and virtually no one else thinks so.

And by the way: name me just ONE human being whom you rate as Excellent at making predictions :)
(Clue: everyone is useless)

john15: I ask again, what qualifies JHK as someone who is qualified to speak about peak oil? it certainly isn't his past record of predictions.

Mr. 15, I think it's best to separate JHK's compiled arguments from his opinions and predictions.

Anyone (even us!) can compile traceable facts and present them in written form. If they are compelling and check out, and the logic isn't faulty we'll get accorded some respect.

At this JHK seems to have done a bang-up job, assembling traceable facts regarding many of the threats to civilization today. His architecture thoughts also lead back to New Urbanism, Jane Jacobs and so on.

His opinions and predictions, on the other hand, are usually wildly inaccurate and often offensive in a way which harms his overall position. Some people like it, some hate it. I don't see a lot of people in between.

Aside from his facts and rants, I think he serves a useful realpolitik purpose by planting alarm flags in part of the discussion space many people are afraid to go to. It opens up a little breathing space for a potentially rational middle ground.

Anyways, just another dog's opinion(*).

(*) because it's the Internet, nobody can tell.

I totally agree that Kunstler needs to be taken with a grain of salt. I get the impression that he is an awful big hurry to be proven right, which I think is only natural, I mean who here isn't? I think in the long run many of his predictions will come true, at least in diluted form.

When it comes to his predictions, I think it's safe to attach a multiplier to his time frames -- for example, many of my friends (and I'm guilty of this too) will say "see you in twenty minutes," and it is generally safe to expect them in an hour or so.

And when it comes to investing advice, I think you'd do best listening to a coin flip rather than JHK (or, for that matter, any other economic forecaster, internet-based or otherwise).

Having said all that, I love his articles and his over-the-top writing style and his "eyesores" start every month off with a good cringing chuckle. He's a fantastic ambassador for peak oil and a great entry point for anyone to get into the subject (I first became 'aware' seeing him on EOS and his website directed me here).

I ask again, what qualifies JHK as someone who is qualified to speak about peak oil?

About Peak Oil, no more than most of us here, including me. About the particular vulnerabilities that our built environment in general and suburbia in particular have exposed us to in a world of increasingly scarce and expensive energy? I think he has probably established himself as one of the foremost experts in the country.

My thoughts as well but better phrased.

I ask again, what qualifies JHK as someone who is qualified to speak about peak oil? it certainly isn't his past record of predictions.

You ask again, and again I amazed that anyone would make a thread out of it. You asked the same question in at least 3 different DB's. And gotten the same answers.

Don't waste the time answering this guy.


On January 15th you posted a comment about fertilizer companies around the world, including MINEMAKERS from Australia. I checked this and decided to buy some shares. I bought those shares for AUS$ 0.49 including some options. As of today I made a reasonable 295.95% profit. My best ever!

Also thanks to TOD: I bought Petrobank at 27 Can$.

TOD ist one of the very best investment adviser on the net. You have to go through the comments very carefully. Every day.

Hello Euro,

Your welcome! I believe biosolar mission-critical investing, at every possible scale, from bikes and wheelbarrows, to I/O-NPK and PV/CSP, to Alan Drake's ideas, and so on, will be a growing investment theme as we necessarily energy-transition from pointless wants to vital needs. This should work until the financial house of cards collapses, but then biosolar bartering will continue on-- recall my posting of postPeak trading 200 lbs of I-NPK for a large amount of grain.

Global fertilizer supply expected to outstrip demand
New FAO fertilizer outlook to 2011/12 published
I tried to get the original PDF, but I am guessing the FAO server is currently swamped, but anyhow, I assume Simmons' 35% chance of Peakoil 5% decline was NOT incorporated into this FAO prediction, thus I-NPK supply and prices may be much more problematic going forward. Who knows?

More from the link above:
Total production is expected to grow from 206.5 million tonnes in 2007/08 to 241 million tonnes in 2011/12. Fertilizer demand will increase from 197 million tonnes today to 216 million tonnes in 2011/12.

World nitrogen supply is forecast to rise by 23.1 million tonnes by 2011/12; world phosphate fertilizer supply will increase by 6.3 million tonnes and potash supply by 4.9 million tonnes.

Africa will remain a major phosphate exporter and increase nitrogen exports while importing all of its potash. Fertilizer consumption in Africa continues to be largely restricted to 10 countries, main consumers are Egypt, South Africa and Morocco.

It is expected that North America will continue to be a net importer of nitrogen and that the region will move into increasing phosphate deficit while remaining a primary supplier of potash.

Asia is expected to produce a rapidly increasing surplus of nitrogen, but will continue to import phosphate and potash.
Very generally speaking: applied I-NPK, given optimal growing conditions, generally has a 10:1 ERoEI harvest yield [Does someone have better info?]. Therefore, it only makes sense for the continued long distance transport of NPK.

Although I am no expert on shipping and costs: I wouldn't be surprised to see postPeak supertankers converting to combo FF/NPK transporters, thus eliminating empty dead-heading--they would always be helping to move NPK the required and enormous trans-oceanic distances.

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

Ah, yes, it's one of those quaint little qualities of global capitalism that there is always someone willing to make a buck off of the suffering of others. Great system!

About four months ago Robert Rapier suggested that investors looking at energy commodities consider gasoline futures as a likly profit maker. That day I checked the price on www.bloomberg.com at $1.92 per gallon. I suggested to a relative that is heavy in the market to get into gasoline futures then as that commodity looked under priced. The person said it looked riskey and required too much diligents to handle.

Today gasoline closed at $2.55, up 33%. A $5000 investment in futures would have netted over $100,000 in following RR's advice.

Is this the end of filling the SPR?

Legislation sponsored by Bingaman, and Senator Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, would require the U.S. to stop stockpiling oil until the price reaches $50 a barrel.

The last time oil fell under $50 on the New York Mercantile Exchange was June 10, 2005. Oil for February delivery reached $101.15 today.

Whoops Senator Dorgan has second thoughts:

Dorgan told reporters after the hearing that he agreed that $50 would amount to a cutoff of new purchases and said he would raise the threshold. He added that the measure would serve as a one-year hold on expensive reserve purchases.

Just burn it in those SUV's as quick as possible......

I'm going to do everything I can to stop the Department of Energy from putting oil underground when the price is $100 a barrel,'' Dorgan said


And the clueless club is joined from the UK side of the pond by Richard Branson. After acknowledging Peak Oil within 6 years, after the flight of the 'coconut', he's out campaigning for the 3rd Runway at Heathrow. No oil, no wheat, no corn, no coconuts - just Virgin limos feeding Virgin aircraft limited to 25k ceiling in case the bio fuel freezes.

IMO, the bill is a non-starter. They'd never get the votes to override a veto, in the unlikely event they'd get enough votes to end a filibuster. This is primarily posturing for the November elections.

Buying $100 crude and putting it in storage is probably the best investment the US Government has made in the past 50 years!

Complete agreement. I'm thinking we 'll see an average price for 2008 of around $120 or so. This is a bargain, snap it up.

how bout spending that $100/bbl of borrowed money on something useful, something that may actually reduce our addiction ?

Most of that 700 million barrels in the reserve was probably filled at crude of $10-20 per barrel (no inflation adjustment). It may been a decent investment (but is still a subsidy to FF)


No doubt about it- averaging up is a great way to go, lol.

How about an emergency energy bill, one that starts by setting the national speed limit at 50mph. What is it about OPEC that he doesn't understand it. Oil is under $100 a barrel and there is no chance they are going to increase production. Why, they may even decrease it. Oh, I know, let's wait until oil is $150 a barrel and then resume stockpiling.

For everything else, except basic foodstuffs, what do most of us do when things get too expensive. We cut back on consumption. Not a concept that the Dorgans of the world seemed to have figured out yet.

Hello TODers,

More evidence of the 'Porridge Principle of Metered Decline' in Iraq?

Basra, Feb. 25, (VOI) – The fertilizer industry in Iraq is dying

"The fertilizer industry is one of the key-determinants of economic progress in Iraq," Salem said to Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq – (VOI), proceeding, "no fertilizer industry implies tremendous losses for Iraqi national treasuries, and human resources."
EDIT: I expect when the net energy of Iraqi mass graves is higher than the net energy of Iraqi FFs--we will again see ships moving millions of 'immigrants' to productive farmland. Accurate dead-reckoning?

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

I thought these figures were quite remarkable:

Schickler noted that in the last decade the world population has increased 13 percent, income has increased 35 percent, meat consumption has increased 25 percent, corn consumption is up 32 percent and soybean consumption is up 52 percent … but total global crop area harvested has only increased by four percent.

"US: Won't Be Easy to Collect $31B"

If you can not collect this, then take away the $18B in tax breaks.
Heck, do both! Exxon makes $40 billion in profits for the year and Bush wants to give them even MORE tax breaks. This makes no sense. I do not think that they need to be punished, but they do not need to be rewarded either.

The only good thing to come from increasing taxes on International Oil Co's is more oil will remain in place for a longer period of time. This will in turn increase future prices, further reducing demand.

I'm sure no politico will explain this when he talks of tax increases for big oil.

Revivalists and Politicians all preach their religion for ulterior motives.

The monoline insurance problem is getting lose in the renewable energy sector, too. OK, its ethanol; feel free to debate the renewability again. I think the point is that greencollar jobs will get zapped just like whitecollar/bluecollar. Some of that triage is gonna have to hit sooner rather than later - I fear the fossil fuel industry will ride roughshod over renewables, giving us a few good quarters, then we come back at an even later date to an even bigger mess :-(


Anyone else get the impression that Peak Oil is happening now? Are we entering Bakhtiari's T2 ?

I do - just a gut feeling

Wonder what "T" level food is in right now?