DrumBeat: February 29, 2008

Iraq has ‘more crude oil’ than Saudi Arabia

Chalabi, a former senior Iraqi oil ministry official, believes the country has huge undiscovered reserves on the grounds but no major development projects have been undertaken for more than two decades.

The proven reserves were officially put at 112 billion barrels in 2007 but Chalabi believes the final figure could exceed 300 billion barrels. “Iraq could have this figure, there is no exaggeration in this,” he said.

His view is supported by a Western oil analyst who goes even further by saying Iraq’s real oil potential could surpass that of Saudi Arabia, which controls nearly a quarter of the world’s proven oil deposits.

Demanding a new supply

“We are at a world oil production rate right now, which is essentially the peak oil rate and following this point the world’s oil production rate will start a gradual irreversible decline,” said Newendorp. “It isn’t that we are running out of oil. The reason that we are at this peak oil — there are two reasons. One is that for the past 20 years the world has consumed two barrels of oil for every barrel of oil discovered to replace it.

“Oil is a non-renewable energy source, so once you take it out of the ground and burn it, it’s gone. So if you want to keep burning oil, you have to find more of it. That’s one of the two explanations for why the world is at a peak oil rate right now. The other is… for many, many, many years the oil industry worldwide has tabulated the amount of new oil discovered throughout the world in any given year, called a ‘world oil discovery rate.’

Peak Oil Passnotes: The Race to the Bottom (of the Barrel)

It has been another week of crude oil records as the Nymex breached $103 per barrel and event Brent crude topped $100.

One of the reasons is that the Wal-Mart economy of the world, bargain basement U.S., has once again seen its currency rupture a little bit more. Stacking high and selling your countrymen cheap, either out on to the streets due to defaulted mortgages or on the fields of imperial war around the world is not really working as an economic plan for U.S. power.

Cameroon: Government Reduces Fuel Prices

After a meeting between Government officials and some leaders of transporters syndicates in Yaounde, the government of Cameroon, Wednesday, February 27, reduced the prices of petroleum products

South Africa: Highest Ever Petrol Hike Looms

Motorists are warned to brace themselves for another petrol hike next week, the highest increase South Africans have ever experienced.

Research Hub Boosts Colo. Economy

DENVER - Score one more for the "New Energy Economy."

ConocoPhillips' announcement last week that it would open a renewable-energy research hub and corporate learning center in Louisville was hailed by state officials as another example of Gov. Bill Ritter's work to make Colorado a leader on alternatives to fossil fuels and create what he calls the New Energy Economy.

Pemex Says Production From Cantarell Field May Drop Up to 18% This Year

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleos Mexicanos, the state- owned oil company, expects to increase oil production in 2008 after a three-year decline, even as output at its largest field drops as much as 18 percent this year.

Overall production may rise to 3.1 million barrels a day this year, said Carlos Morales, director of exploration and production for Pemex, as the Mexico City-based company is known, during a fourth-quarter conference call today. Pemex's production was 3.08 million barrels a day in 2007.

UK gas prices surge after import terminal fire

LONDON (Reuters) - British gas prices rose on Friday after a fire at a major import terminal cut supplies of heating fuel ahead of what is forecast to be a chilly start to March.

Some of the heat was taken out of the market by the resumption of supplies through the Shell-operated SEAL pipeline, but it was still unclear how long Shell's gas import terminal at Bacton, eastern England, would remain closed.

China Says $16 Billion Iran Gas Agreement Is a 'Commercial Act'

(Bloomberg) -- China National Offshore Oil Corp.'s $16 billion plan to develop an Iranian gas field is a "commercial act," a Chinese official said, as pressure grows from the U.S. for fresh action over Iran's nuclear program.

PDVSA says Exxon's asset freeze based on fantasy

LONDON (Reuters) - Venezuelan state oil firm PDVSA told a UK court on Friday that a $12 billion freeze on its assets should not have been granted to Exxon Mobil as the oil major's arguments were "sheer fantasy land".

PDVSA lawyer Gordon Pollock said the amount frozen was excessive. He said a claim that PDVSA would try to hide its assets was not credible and the English court which awarded the freeze had exceeded its jurisdiction.

Chevron confirms development of Nigeria deepwater field

SAN FRANCISCO (Thomson Financial) - Chevron Corp. said Friday its Chevron Nigeria Deepwater Ltd. subsidiary and its partners are moving forward to develop the offshore Usan field in Nigeria.

The Usan Field is located 62 miles off the coast in the eastern Niger Delta. First production from the field is expected in late 2011 with peak production of 180,000 barrels of oil per day.

Exxon may trim production on higher prices

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Exxon Mobil may trim its production targets in a meeting with Wall Street next week as the oil giant absorbs the impact of sustained $100-a-barrel oil, analysts said.

Since Exxon Mobil relies on production sharing contracts with oil-rich countries to extract its crude, more expensive oil will likely limit the amount of petroleum it can supply to the world, analysts said.

These agreements are usually based not only on the amount of oil, but on the dollar value of petroleum taken out of the ground.

So with oil now holding at the $100 a barrel level, Exxon will manage to grow its profit while shaving its long-term production target of 3% average growth annually through 2010.

Gasoline could hit $4 as crude breaks records

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Motorists may face gasoline prices as high as $4 a gallon this summer as crude oil costs smash records, painting a bleak picture for consumers already feeling the pinch of an economic slowdown.

Weyerhaeuser and Chevron form biofuels joint venture

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil company Chevron Corp and forest products maker Weyerhaeuser Co on Friday announced the launch of a joint venture to develop renewable fuels from nonfood sources like wood.

The 50-50 joint venture, Catchlight Energy LLC, will research and develop technology for converting cellulose-based biomass into economical and low-carbon biofuels, the companies said in a joint statement.

Green Energy Needs Long-Term Political Support - Ex-BP CEO

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- A strong, long-term political commitment and clear policy framework and regulations are key if investment in renewable energy is to continue booming, John Browne, the former head of oil giant BP PLC (BP), said Friday.

"Maintaining the growth rates we've seen will be very ambitious and it will require an ironclad partnership between government and business," said Browne, who is now managing director of the new European branch of U.S. private equity energy specialists Riverstone Holdings LLC.

As green power investments rise, a fear they are being misguided

PARIS: Long considered marginal and even quixotic, energy from sources like the wind, sun and plants is turning into one of the world's most highly valued industries. And while power generated by "green" sources remains tiny compared with fossil fuels, the sector has begun to attract the attention of big-league investors seeking to profit from a new wave of growth in alternative energy.

But even as the amount of cash swells, environmental officials warn that financing is flowing to projects that may be doomed to failure.

Oil for nukes – mostly a bad idea

Cambridge, Mass. - French President Nicolas Sarkozy is on a nuclear power selling spree in the Middle East.

He has recently pledged to assist the civilian nuclear programs of three oil-producing countries in this conflict-prone region: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. These pledges were preceded by signed offers of nuclear aid to Algeria and Libya, two other oil exporters.

If history is any guide, two things seem probable. First, these nuclear power sales are an attempt to ensure a stable oil supply at a time when prices are approaching record highs. And second, this oil for nuclear technology swap is a deal that France will later regret.

Ecuador: Exports Won't be Affected by Rupture, Declaring Force Majeure

Mining and oil minister Galo Chiriboga said Friday that Ecuadorean oil exports won't be affected despite state-run oil company Petroecuador suspending operations of the SOTE oil pipeline Thursday and declaring a force majeure for its oil exports.

"We are searching for alternatives. We can use the private OCP oil pipeline to transport our crude and maintain the oil exports. Our exports won't be affected," Chiriboga told to Dow Jones Newswires on Friday.

Gazprom to reduce Ukraine's gas

Gazprom, Russia's gas monopoly, says it will cut supplies to Ukraine by 25% on Monday after talks between the two sides ended in failure.

The state-run Russian company said its efforts to get Ukraine to pay its debts had "reached a dead end"

U.S. urges Turkmenistan to diversify gas exports

ASHGABAT, Feb 29 (Reuters) - A senior U.S. official urged Turkmenistan to find other routes, apart from Russia, for its natural gas exports and called the Nabucco project skirting Russia a viable option for Central Asia's largest gas producer.

Venezuela's PdVSA, ENI To Sign Orinoco Venture

Petroleos de Venezuela and Italy's ENI will strike a deal Friday that would bring ENI SpA into the oil-rich Orinoco basin as a partner, the Venezuelan foreign ministry said Thursday.

Brazil police recover computers stolen from Petrobras, arrest 4; 'common crime' blamed

The suspects, employees of a security company hired by Petrobras to guard the port, had been carrying out small thefts since September that went unnoticed until the computers disappeared, Caetano said. They face charges of criminal conspiracy.

"This was a common crime," he added. "They didn't have the slightest idea of what they had" at first.

Ecuador's Dec Oil Export Revenue Up 69% at $827.82 Million

Ecuador's oil export revenue totaled $827.82 million in December, a 69% increase from $489.25 million in the same month of 2006, the central bank said Thursday.

In terms of volume, Ecuador exported 10.72 million barrels in the December, slightly more than the 10.68 million barrels shipped one year earlier.

Thailand: Minister looking for options to selectively subsidise LPG prices

The energy minister is seeking ways to limit LPG price subsidies only to household use but not the transport and industrial sectors in her bid to curb demand growth.

The Day China Runs Dry

China's massive but dwindling aquifers would be on track to run virtually dry if over-pumping continued, said Lester Brown, prominent US environmental policy advocate. At that point, its grain production would dive, severely exacerbating any food price increases that had already accumulated. Without rationally priced water, Brown predicted this scenario and a severe global food shortages as inevitable.

The CO2 State

Texas produces more carbon emissions than most countries, but the state government and business community don't seem too concerned.

Stocks of unleaded petrol may run low in Brisbane

MOTORISTS have been warned to expect disrupted petrol supplies in Brisbane this weekend.

A leaked email from the State Government to the Ambulance Service, obtained by couriermail.com.au, said the shortage of unleaded petrol suffered by Caltex, Shell and BP is expected to lead to long delays at the pump, higher prices and possibly complete unavailability at some service stations.

Bligh urges calm over petrol shortage fears

Ms Bligh says under a long-standing arrangement, other refineries will cover the shortfall.

"There is no need for anybody to be panicked, there are other petrol suppliers who are filling any petrol supply gaps to other retailers," she said.

Mexico's Plan to Open Oil Industry Lacks Support

Failure to open the oil industry may mark the biggest political defeat yet for Calderon, who managed to win support for cutting pensions and raising taxes since taking office in December 2006. Mexico, the third-largest oil supplier to the U.S., needs the help of foreign and private companies to halt a decline in crude output and reserves, Calderon has said.

Cantarell, the nation's largest oil field, is running out of crude. Taxes that exceed half of sales at state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos cut into its ability to invest in production.

China: Oil giants ‘told to supply small players’

The central government had asked its oil duopoly to open fuel taps to hundreds of independent dealers, a person close to the situation said on Friday, in what would be the first official move in nearly a decade to liberalise the domestic market following a serious supply shortage.

China's Yudean buys 7.5 pct of Australia coal mine

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China's Guangdong Yudean Group, one of China's top power generating groups, has agreed to buy a 7.5 percent stake in Narrabri Coal project, wholly owned by Australia's Whitehaven Coal Limited, for A$67.5 million ($63.9 million), Whitehaven said.

Energy crisis a concern for South African steel industry

The current national energy crises that is affecting the country is set to have far-reaching effects in the South African steel industry, report a number of industry stakeholders.

India: High oil prices may lay slippery track for economy

The brewing energy crisis, following a phenomenal increase in the international crude oil prices, may soon grip India’s Economy. The country imports nearly 78% of its total crude oil requirement and with global oil prices touching unprecedented levels of $102 a barrel, it’s time that appropriate strategies be put in place to deal with any unforseen situation.

Ethanol Fuels Intense Food Debate

How can so many people be obese, yet so many others still are hungry? The next American president is confronted with a moral dilemma. Supporting ethanol production might end our dependence on foreign oil and help protect the country from radical extremism, but at the same time, it has two potentially devastating consequences. With the looming possibility that ethanol might harm the environment more than it would benefit, Congress needs to reassess its stance on the commodity. Every gallon of corn diverted to ethanol is less corn for food production. As an LA Times editorial recently said, “The astonishing callousness of burning millions of bushels of grain in gas tanks even as global starvation worsens has apparently never occurred to Congress, the Bush administration or the remaining presidential candidates.”

Crunch Time on the Bread Line

Where will you be in the line? In a column last week, I discussed the forthcoming risk of global famine. Now the evidence is piling on, and there is every reason to expect - at the very least - astronomical inflation in food prices within the next year. Most significantly, this problem is not confined to any one region of the world, and the ripple effect is mind-boggling. Keep in mind that the dollar is falling on the world exchanges, and the food you buy is subject to the fluctuations of the currency exchanges. Why? Well, simply because it may be more lucrative for global agricultural corporations to sell to the highest bidder – no matter where they may be.

Deutsche Bank’s $150 Call: Peak Oil Light

DB made some good points that might be news to the mainstream but probably not to my readers:

1. The U.S. economy wrung a lot of oil-intensiveness out during the ’70s oil shock when it took oil out of electricity generation and U.S. industry became much more oil-efficient. Those savings cannot be replicated no matter how high the oil price goes.

2. On the other hand, U.S. transportation is vastly inefficient and thus can and will reduce oil use as prices rise. This is the most significant available source of oil savings in the OECD world. Of course, DB probably meant to say “cars” rather than “transport”, since trucks which use 1/3rd of transport fuel do not have the same savings potential that cars do.

Phil Flynn: Remember The Gold old days!

Demand for oil is weak and it is obvious that we are seeing at least some form of demand destruction but as we have seen, rising supply and lower demand does not necessarily translate into lower price.

We have gotten beaten up lately by correctly predicting rising supply and weakening demand. What we failed to realize is that rising supply and lower demand does not always translate in to lower price. Larger market forces have rewritten the laws of gravity as commodity price inflationary pressures have over ruled the basic laws of supply in demand. Even with clear signs of demand destruction in the US and some worrying signs of slowing in Japan and even Europe, oil prices have surged along with inventories.

Oil at $300/barrel? - Matt Simmons on WSJ Report

Alaska to sue BP over 2006 Prudhoe spill

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The state of Alaska is planning to sue BP Plc for "several hundred million dollars" to recover oil revenues lost when corrosion in pipelines at the oil major's Prudhoe Bay oil field forced a partial shutdown of the field in August 2006, the Anchorage Daily News reported on Friday.

The suit may be filed as soon as September if settlement talks are unsuccessful, the Daily News reported.

Spain sets power, gas network price structure

MADRID, Feb 29 (Reuters) - The Spanish government on Friday set a new pricing structure for the electricity and gas distribution sectors, sending shares in Red Electrica and Enagas higher.

The new structure will only affect installations that are started after Jan. 1 2008, the government said after a weekly cabinet meeting.

UN likely to vote new Iran resolution Saturday

UNITED NATIONS (Itar-Tass) -- The UN Security Council is likely to vote a new resolution on Iran on Saturday, however Tehran already made it clear it will not comply, as its nuclear program is the business of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) rather than of the United Nations.

Morgan Stanley: A Petrodollar Tsunami Is Coming

High energy prices lead to transfers from oil importers to oil exporters, note Stephen Jen and Charles St-Arnaud in Morgan Stanley's latest Global Economic Forum, and as oil breaches the psychological US$100 a barrel, so investment decisions by the owners of these petrodollars clearly become more important the higher oil prices go.

BMW betting on hydrogen

Earlier this month, The Chronicle ran an interesting interview with General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner, in which he said major car manufacturers need to develop a variety of alternative energy technologies in preparation for the day that world gets off the oil.

The theory goes: Betting on just one -- electric cars or fuel cells -- would be too risky.

That's not the party line over at BMW. The German car manufacturer told TED attendees in Monterey Thursday that they are betting the whole hog on hydrogen.

RV resort: Boon or bust?

Residents, community leaders and consultants alike, on the other hand, have questioned the viability of a large RV resort in Gunnison. Not only would it add to the many already in the area, but the long-term prospect of the RVing industry has been called into question in light of rising energy costs, peak oil and the general fight against climate change.

Oil price strikes record high above 103 dollars

LONDON (AFP) - The price of New York crude oil hit an all-time high point of 103.05 dollars per barrel on Friday owing to record weakness of the dollar but then fell back, traders said.

And the price of gold reached an historic peak of 976.32 dollars per ounce.

"This was part of a broad-based commodities run based on the continued weakness of the dollar," said Petromatrix analyst Olivier Jakob.

A weak US currency boosts demand for dollar-denominated raw materials such as crude oil because it makes them cheaper for buyers using stronger currencies. However the increased demand eventually leads to higher prices.

The Peak Oil Crisis: Catenaries and Pantographs

As the availability of liquid fuels dwindles, those supplies that remain will be increasingly allocated to uses for which there are no readily available substitutes -- such as powering aircraft and ships. Electric power for land vehicles appears to be the most realistic option for the present. Cellulosic biofuels may come to power some share of land transport, but this is still many years away. Electric power is a proven technology and, more importantly, a widespread distribution system for electricity is already here.

The Squeeze on PetroChina

With domestic production falling, it must buy costly oil abroad to sell at subsidized prices at home.

OPEC unlikely to change output at current price: Libya

PARIS (AFP) - OPEC is unlikely to change its production level at a meeting next week if the oil price stays at about 100 dollars per barrel, acting Libyan Oil Minister Chukri Ghanem told AFP on Friday.

Fire at Kuwait's Shuaiba Oil Refinery Is Contained, KUNA Says

(Bloomberg) -- A fire at Kuwait Petroleum Corp's Shuaiba refinery was extinguished today without any casualties or disruption to output, according to KUNA, the state-run news agency.

The fire broke out at 12:21 a.m. local time in a distillation tower in one of the heavy oil refining units as it was being idled for maintenance, KUNA said, citing Mohammad Al- Mutairi, the refinery's acting managing director.

North Sea Sullom Voe Oil Terminal Halts Berthing on High Winds

(Bloomberg) -- The North Sea Sullom Voe terminal in Scotland's Shetland Islands, which handles shipments of benchmark Brent crude oil, suspended berthing because of high winds.

Partnership will bid for U.S. oil refineries

Petroplus Holdings, Europe's largest refiner, said Wednesday that it had entered into a $2-billion deal with private equity firms Blackstone Group and First Reserve to buy crude oil refineries in the United States.

Each partner has committed $667 million to form an investment company to be led by Petroplus Chairman Thomas D. O'Malley.

Ecuador shuts off oil exports after pipeline break

QUITO (AFP) - OPEC member Ecuador on Thursday suspended its oil exports because a landslide cut off its main pipeline, state-run Petroecuador oil company said.

"Exports were suspended and a force majeure was declared to avoid sanctions from our buyers, who already have been notified of the emergency," an unnamed Petroecuador official told AFP.

Russian paper predicts trouble for South Stream pipeline

MOSCOW (AFP) - A Russian newspaper on Friday predicted trouble ahead for Moscow's strategic South Stream gas pipeline, saying the project could be held up by difficult relations with neighbouring Ukraine.

Nepal strike over after accord reached

KATMANDU, Nepal - Trucks began transporting gasoline to the fuel-starved Nepalese capital Friday along with much-needed food and other supplies after ethnic-rights groups in southern Nepal ended a paralyzing strike, authorities said.

Japan arranging climate change summit: official

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan said Thursday it was arranging a meeting of national leaders to address climate change as it prepares to hold the Group of Eight summit of major industrial economies this summer.

A newspaper report said Japan has invited heads of state and government from 16 nations, which together account for 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, for parallel talks to the G8 summit.

EU nations sound objections to climate change plan

BRUSSELS (AFP) - EU nations raised on Thursday a host of objections to new proposals for fighting climate change, setting the stage for tough negotiations over the package.

In the first debate of the plans since they were proposed in January, EU members lined up to call for more flexibility and greater attention for industrial competitiveness while also pushing their national wish-lists.

“Mish” has a good essay today, “Keeping Down With the Joneses.” He has a quote from the recent USA Today article on reduced spending.


"The new status isn't how much you've got, but your ability to show what you don't spend," says futurist Watts Wacker, who advises businesses on trends.

Or, as I have been putting it, “Cheap is the New Chic.”

Both the WSJ and NYT have articles on the “Walking Away” phenomenon, where homeowners, who owe more than the house is worth, are increasingly walking away and not even contesting foreclosures. As the NYT noted, in most cases former homeowners can dramatically cut their monthly housing costs by renting.

BTW, I didn’t attend the talk, but there was an oil industry luncheon meeting yesterday in Dallas at which a Yerginite Disciple delivered a talk on abundant oil---Saudi Arabia has millions of barrels per day of excess capacity, oil prices are going back down to the $40 to $50 range, etc.

As I have said before, perhaps it is poetic justice that Peak Oilers unload highly energy dependent assets on the true believers in the Yerginite community, i.e, get out of Suburban Dodge while you can pilgrim.

Some are getting out of 'Surburban Dodge' while some are doggedly trying to hold onto the 'ol homestead by tapping their retirement 401K accounts. It seems the nesting instinct is very strong among some, so strong that they are literally mortaging their future retirement to remain in a home where they are upside down on the mortgage. Leads me to believe that all humans are not smarter than yeast...


"More People Tap 401(k) Accounts for Cash."

'It seems, according to his AP article, that an outfit called Great-West Retirement Services has noticed that more people are taking money prematurely out of their retirement accounts, and that, "hardship withdrawals jumped 14% last year, and the number of loans rose almost 13%, with a dramatic increase occurring in the fourth quarter." '

Couple of economy-related links...

More Americans using credit cards to stay afloat

Seven years in the credit-counseling business didn't prepare Ann Estes for the alarming trend she began noticing last fall: As her clients' mortgage bills became unaffordable, a growing number of them began paying their credit card bills before — and sometimes instead of — their mortgages.

"We've never seen anything like this," says Estes, who counsels clients by phone from her office in Richmond, Va. "Their homes are at risk, and they know it. But people say, 'I don't want to let my credit cards go because that's my cash flow.' "

Why Surprises Still Lurk After Enron

Surprises multiplied as the subprime problem of 2007 grew into the credit disruption of 2008. It is one thing to have a bank report losses because some of the loans on its balance sheet went bad. That is part of the business of banking. It is something else, however, for a bank to report a multibillion-dollar loss from taking some risk that had never been mentioned in its financial statements.

Haven’t we seen this movie before, involving a company called Enron? Didn’t Congress pass a law requiring that the problem of off-balance-sheet mysteries be solved?

"Didn’t Congress pass a law requiring that the problem of off-balance-sheet mysteries be solved?"

No. They didn't.

There never was an investigation into the special purpose funds, now called VIE's.

And VIE's have been how Goldman and most likely JPM (They invented VIE's for Enron and have over twice the derivatives of Citi) have kept their books simmering on the oven.

UBS sees writedowns hitting $600 billion

The toll of the mortgage mess keeps rising. Analysts at UBS (UBS) said Friday they expect financial firms worldwide to take writedowns totaling $600 billion in the wake of the breakdown of debt markets that started in June.

(from Switz.) The UBS shareholding meeting took place. 52 small shareholders slotted for speaking time. It was a huge jamboree, with special trains scheduled well before dawn from the big cities. People came armed with chocolate (a national symbol) and croissants, as the UBS is famed for its stingy sandwiches.

Shouting matches shrilled or boomed, invective flew. Finally, though, there was no way out and the UBS will be recapitalized by Singapore sovereign funds, an ‘arab state investor’ (no details from me, as the published facts are unclear and not important anyway.) In this way, it can avoid the ultimate bank review.

Ospel (google, his first name is Marcel) will remain the director for a year at least - experience and contacts over the new broom that sweeps clean!

I bank there. Heh. Saying more would be indelicate.

I post local stories because I appreciate them so much from others.

Faced with mortgage default, some U.S. homeowners walk out

Then in January he learned about a new company in San Diego called You Walk Away that does just what its name says. For $995, it helps people walk away from their homes, ceding them to the banks in foreclosure.

Last week he moved into a three-bedroom rental home for $1,200 a month, less than half the cost of his mortgage. The old house is now the lender's problem. "They took the negativity out of my life," Zulueta said of You Walk Away. "I was stressing over nothing."

You Walk Away is a small sign of broad changes in the way many Americans look at housing. In an era in which new types of loans allowed many home buyers to move in with little or no down payment, and to cash out any equity by refinancing, the meaning of homeownership and foreclosure has changed, economists and housing experts say.

Trouble is, depending on what the 401k is invested in, in some cases people may (unknowingly) be doing the right thing "walking away from their 401k"! One does not know what is going to be exempted from the tsunami of asset devaluations.

"...get out of Suburban Dodge while you can pilgrim."

Exodus in progress.

From Bloomberg this moning:

'Vacant Homes in U.S. Climb to Most Since 1970s With Ghost Towns"

Can you see this ever happening in North Dallas?
After all, "No one in Dallas ever lives below their means." (chuckle)

The Dallas Morning News had front page and business page stories on the rising foreclosure rates in the area this morning. Not surprisingly, outlying areas are getting hit hardest.

Conspicuous North Dallas consumption hasn't died yet, but I suspect that it is getting the flu.

outlying areas are getting hit hardest

I would guess that it is the exurbs, where all the lifeboater are headed, taking the big hit and not the suburbs.

I see older neighborhoods in the Keller, Southlake, Grapevine area (midway between Dallas and Ft Worth) sprouting For Sale signs, and some look suspiciously empty and unkempt. At the same time, luxury subdivisions are still building new houses at approximately the same rate. Don't know how many new McMansions are actually being sold, though.

I have noticed morning traffic near DFW/Hwy121/114 is significantly lighter than when I first moved to this area two years ago. Higher prices or fewer jobs to commute to?

Could be fewer construction and real estate related jobs resulting in less traffic.

Check out the article just below that davebygolly posted. Some amazing case histories. Kind of spooky how fast some of these subdivisions have crashed.

Atlantic Monthly The Next Slum: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200803/subprime

The last line from "The Last Slum":

"About 25 years ago, Escape From New York perfectly captured the zeitgeist of its moment. Two or three decades from now, the next Kurt Russell may find his breakout role in Escape From the Suburban Fringe."

In recent years, more "escapees" have turned up in my neighborhood way out west on what used to be the last frontier in the lower 48. They bought their McMansionist ways with them in driving up land prices for second and third homes that were occupied for two months in the summer. Of late, for-sale signs have appeared on some of these trophy dwellings. The former occupants may be escaping back to the metro areas they came from in their fleets of Hummers, Escalades and Porsche Cayennes that contrasted with the muddy pick-up trucks of the locals.

In case any TODers are so fortunate as to "Get out of Dodge", ahead of the golden hordes there may be room for you out here if you will drive a muddy pick-up truck and don't mind living in an abandoned McMansion.

Thanks Atlantic Monthly and best hopes for the regentrifying of urban America.

Cheap may be the new chic, but my investments in ELP do not come cheap at all!

As the article indicates, it is nuts to be paying $2400 per month for a mortgage when you can rent a similar house for $1200. Various politicians want to find a way to let those in trouble work out a way to stay in their houses with their lenders. Well, those defaulting have already found a way to work things out. Why work out a way to pay a loan which is worth more than your house?

Just let the whole thing come crashing down. Houses will be cheaper for those just wanting to buy and maybe lenders and borrowers will learn something from this fiasco.

As the article indicates, it is nuts to be paying $2400 per month for a mortgage when you can rent a similar house for $1200.

this is why I don't take peak oil as serious as the mortgage mess.

dont these landlords get a credit report on their potential renters ?

How do you separate them? In the world I live in, the connectedness of all things is a given. Not so in yours? To wit:

Part of a home not being affordable is income being taken up by other costs... such as gas...


They had this in Germany a couple of years ago with quite dire consequences for the economy, the catch phrase was "Geiz ist geil" which translates to "miserliness is wicked" or "we lust for miserliness" (geil used to have some sexual undertones though the more modern use is like wicked or great).

note: don't know how this post got placed here, it is a comment on
"“Mish” has a good essay today, “Keeping Down With the Joneses.” He has a quote from the recent USA Today article on reduced spending."

WAAYYYY up in this thread

Your comment is in the correct spot. Click on "parent," and you can see what any post is replying to.

It's down this far because others commented before you did.

I oddly found myself on the phone with two guys who work with a major bank in the division that handles municipal bonds. Towards the end of the conversation I asked "how they are doing..." and got a 4 minute explanation of the situation. The troubles in the mortgage market are spilling over into short-term bond auctions (sort of ARM refinancing of infrastructure projects) worth 700 billion dollars.

Bottom line: the bankers are scrambling to contain the crisis, huge uncertainties lurk, difficult to close deals, unprecedented situation so a lot of creative thinking going on, what we hear about in the press is just an inkling of what is happening.

I don't think they have a clear idea of how it will all play out (who does!).

Jason, Check out Mish the Great Graphs at the link by Mish.

Another major Symptom/Problem of the unfolding...XXXX Whatever it will be eventually be called.

Long Emergency, The Dim Ages, The Greater Depression....

Free Fall In Munis, Worst Month Since 2003

Bloomberg is reporting Munis Have Worst Month Since 2003.

U.S. municipal bonds are headed for their worst month in more than four years after collapsing demand for securities with rates set at periodic auctions sent debt costs for state taxpayers and hospitals as high as 20 percent.

The $330 billion auction-rate market froze after dealers stopped purchasing the bonds when buyers failed to bid. Their lack of support has spread to the broader tax-exempt market, sending yields soaring. Borrowers from California to New York City plan to convert the securities to longer-term debt, raising concern that a flood of bonds will overwhelm already sparse demand from banks and hedge funds.

"We're going to get smashed with new-issue volume from all these auction-rate bonds" that are being converted...

"Every alternative we turn to is worse than it was a year ago," said Roger Anderson, executive director of the New Jersey Educational Facilities Financing Authority, which sells bonds for colleges in the state.

Professor Bennet Sedacca on Minyanville had this to say about Munis today.

My firm has avoided municipal bonds for years now. The above Bloomberg article, an excellent piece by Jeremy Cooke shows why.

This is not a back slapping exercise, it is an exercise in just how bad a 'credit unwind' can get. I expect that many municipal bond portfolios will now get marked down in a big way. Net asset values of all sorts of municipal mutual funds, both closed end and open end will likely get smashed.

How badly? It depends on the quality but I am guessing anywhere from 5-20%.


I heard a quote from G. W. Bush this morning on AP radio to the effect that he didn't understand why there were projections of $4 a gallon gasoline for this summer.

HERE's a short comment from Bush's press conference:

Meanwhile, oil prices set a new record of $102.59 a barrel Thursday. Pump prices rose closer to record territory above $3 per gallon, with the prospect of $4 gasoline when the busy summer driving season arrives.

"That's interesting. I hadn't heard that. ... I know it's high now," Bush said during reporters' questioning about $4 a gallon gas.

CNN has a video (which I haven't seen, due to download time constraints using dialup).

E. Swanson

It came from his news conference yesterday morning.


It is at about 7:20. you can view the whole conference on youtube, this is only part 4. Pretty scary stuff all around, you can tell he is deflecting/lying more than usual. He was too calm in the beginning! Overall you can find him smirking from time to time and picking pre-planted softball questions. Occasionally a tough question pops in and he just bullies and belittles the reporter. Economy, Iraq, Election, It is all downplayed to the nth degree by the US president.

Yeah, his response to the 'uncertainty' of gas prices was to insist that congress make the tax cuts permanent, and while he 'strongly backed renewables and conservation, "you know that..", his main thrust was that energy insecurity would be resolved by 'finding more oil and gas here at home, and to build more refineries'...

"In terms of oil,.. the more oil we find at home, the better off we're going to be, in the short run."

WT, I don't think he's getting your memos.


"In terms of oil,.. the more oil we find at home, the better off we're going to be, in the short run."

Why don't these reporters ask about the 'political capital' he was gonna earn with the Saudis to turn on the taps?

WT, I don't think he's getting your memos.

Hello World. Wake up. The fiscal train wreck the Bush administration is creating is entirely intentional. Doesn't anyone recognize the phrase "drown the government in a bathtub" from the GOP contract on America a decade ago? The program is to loot the government assets and lock in long-term expenses that will destroy anything that comes close to a "safety net" or welfare - welfare in the broadest sense like clean water, forests, and so forth. Privatize.

The closest analog is what happened in Southern Cone - Allende, Pinochet, the Chicago thugs. It's turning into a perfect storm for authoritarian clamp-down. Food, energy, security - as in physical security because people are going to start flying from helicopters just like they did in Chile and just like they did in Vietnam before that. Don't think Obama is going to help; the one thing we don't need to cope with this crisis is a bigger military and that's what he wants. These piranhas are bipartisan.

The [lack of] political system in US will only make this worse. Electeds from the President to the town selectman will prove no better than the thugs under Pinochet. They don't know what is going on and have no clue how to fix it or jump to a paradigm that works to any degree. Count on them to make matters worse at every level and to squander every opportunity that they have not yet squandered.

cfm in Gray, ME

I'm assuming that you are getting much of your info from The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein, a recommended book for everyone here, by the way.

The sacking of our government is pretty much complete, so Bush and his cohorts can be proud of everything they have accomplished and destroyed since they took office.

This issue has been barely touched upon by the campaign. Are we to assume that Obama will just continue the operation of the government by private contractor? In Iraq, at least, it seems so since it appears he will rely heavily on Blackwater for any continuing operations in that country.

Much of the demise of what was formally known as the U.S. government has occurred behind the curtain, hidden from the eyes of the vast majority of the Americans. Anyone who simply gets their fodder from the MSM is pretty much ignorant of what has really gone on. This is what should really be discussed in this campaign; instead we get endless debate on issues they essentially agree on.

Three trillion dollars and counting for the Iraq war. And congress is arguing about a few billion to support renewable energy over a tiff about a few billion in reduced subsidies to the oil companies. We have squandered our capital and squandered our future and will not have near enough to make any sort of reasonable transition away from fossil fuels.

There is a lot of color there from Klein, and she finally made the connection for me between "deregulate, privatize and taser" that I'd sensed but hadn't really completed. Still, if you pay attention to who wins and who loses, then it's easy to see. One of my other recent koan moments was watching Moore's F911 where the bombs came up on the carrier elevator. What is more profitable that bombing once? Bombing twice. Rebuilding (assuming you have the contract) and bombing again. How does Raytheon get bomb contracts unless bombs are used up?

cfm in Gray, ME

From today's Progress Report:

IRAQ -- ROVE: IRAQ REDEPLOYMENT WOULD CAUSE OIL PRICES TO SKYROCKET TO $200 A BARREL: On Fox News Sunday yesterday, former White House adviser Karl Rove claimed that redeployment from Iraq would cause oil prices to shoot to $200 a barrel. "If we were to give up Iraq with the third largest oil reserves in the world to the control of an Al Qaida or to the control of Iran," said Rove, "don't you think $200 a barrel oil would have a cost to the American economy?" Rove offered no evidence to support his projection that leaving Iraq would cause oil prices to rise dramatically. But it is clear that occupying Iraq has hardly helped oil prices stay low. Last week, oil prices reached a record high of over $102 a barrel. On March 19, 2003 -- the day the Iraq war commenced -- oil was trading at $36 a barrel. Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz recently noted in Vanity Fair that "the soaring price of oil is clearly related to the Iraq war." Rove's claim is also out of step with the American people, a majority of whom believes that the Iraq war is tied to the current economic downturn. A recent AP poll found that 68 percent of Americans say that redeploying from Iraq would help the economy.

I heard it on NPR last night. Pretty amusing. The guys on NPR even made it sound like $4 gas somewhere in the US was a foregone conclusion.

This really makes Bush look bad with the Iraq war in particular. I'm still waiting for prices to rise enough where energy hungry US citizens say "screw the Iraqis (and the oil companies) - just steal the damn oil."

People were complaining that they'll never vote for state Rep Whoever that supported the 10 cent increase in the Minnesota State gas tax (which starts at only a nickel, then rising to 10 cents over 3 years). That's why Matt gave his presentation to the Minnesota State Reps. If they are so unhappy with this minor tax, when $4 gas hits they'll be crying, and quickly become vicious that something must be done.

Some sort of "Order 66" may occur in Iraq if the Emperor decries it. Seriously, the Iraq war (with it's high cost) decreases the value of the dollar: so either we draw down troops to save money, or ... just steal the damn oil. I'm sure there are other scenarios, but what are they? (I'm too narrow-minded) Besides business as usual in Iraq (or invading Iran? Insanity?).

Don't you think "we" would be "stealing the oil" if "we" could?

Seems fairly apparent the whole program was to designed to enforce the Carter Doctrine about strategic supplies of petroleum in the Middle East. Trouble is, it's pretty well guarded, and it hasn't proved possible to just back up Exxon tankers to the ports and shoe away the pesky natives.

And it looks unlikely that the U.S. Army/Marines will be able to really take over and hold the oil producing areas, as well as maintain pipeline security and port security. That picture doesn't seem to be working out, either.

The power to bomb and destroy does not confer the power to acquire, hold or create. The U.S. Government may think it is a god -- but it is only a half a god. Shiva on four cylinders.

We would be fully on "rape and scrape" mode for all petrol resources if those pesky natives were not fighting back.
No matter how good are the toys for the US military, americans are getting shorter and dumber from poor health care and a atrocious education. This may be a model for a perfect solider, but reality is not confirming this plan.
Exxon is pissed, and must be having wet dreams over all that oil to shoot up. Addicts are like that.

What makes everyone think that we're not stealing the oil?

I keep thinking of that meteorologist who noticed the major
stream of lights worming up to the Iraq border from Kuwait.

What caused the Kuwait invasion (besides the Bush/Glaspie
Green Light) was Kuwait slant drilling into the Rumallah

Who here thinks they've(the Kuwaitis) stopped?

In 2000, Iraq converted all its oil transactions under the Oil for Food program to euros.[1] When U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, it returned oil sales from the euro to the USD.

Good point, correction needed---
We are stealing all the oil we can, but the expected big prize remains off the table because of security concerns.
Good article from Harpers on this:

A couple things

Iraq Oil Map - I'm not sure how close these fields are to population centers, but what I'm talking about is not grifting 5 or 10% of the oil - but literally taking over production (move all troops away from Baghdad, etc to the oil production facilities.

As the article you posted says, there is a city nearby. Obviously no one thinks about the case if the city weren't there and that there were no habitable places in some radius from the pipelines and rigs: then no one can quickly come out and attack it.

People talk loosely about resource wars, but they don't talk about what they'll look like. I'm saying that it'll be scorched earth around the production areas for some distance - pretty easy to do in Iraq. But this would only be the case if the US gets desperate and *needs* more oil. Something that will be for the next president probably.

Next winter when people are freezing in there homes from lack of oil or high prices: thousands more dead Iraqis won't be much of an issue. This is the picture I see when push comes to shove in a country where we already have a heavy military presence.

Our military isn't a very good occupation force. But destruction? Well, I think you underestimate the US military in this regard. The major problem with such a scenario is international cooperation. But if countries like Turkey have similar problems, they would probably also care less about Iraqi's, or Iraqi Shia at least. So we'll have some bases for B-52's.

People say this is a long way off. Westexas has prices going up geometrically and that people will be priced out of the market. A lot of people in the resource hungry US will be.

What other scenarios are there when people can't conserve (because of long commutes, or heating) and demand action? Perhaps we'll start to allow drilling all over Alaska, but that won't be quick enough. This -in theory- would be.

I'm a sucker for maps and that's a nice one.

IMHO, the "Blocks" contain nothing.

The KSA has explored the other side of those and come up empty.

What you see there is what you get.

Turkey and Iran are fighting over the Kirkuk oil fields.

And so Rumaylah is the only field the US will be able to hold.

But the US economy is being choked now.

And one more BTW-the only info coming out of Iraq
that says everything there is hunk dory is coming from
the USMil and the Puppet Gov't.

The Resistance still thinks it's winning.

And it's not just the oilfields and wells you need to fight over - there's getting the oil to shipping terminals! Protecting all that pipeline would be impossible, IMO.

I suspect given the chance the Turks will have no problem getting oil out of Iraq. The Kurds may however decide they want to move to better places in the world like the Gaza Strip.

You just gave all the reasons we are depopulating Iraq. One million dead, 2 to 3 million outside the country, who knows how many wounded, very few left with clean water, some very compromised on water at all, slim or no medical care... Accelerate the process just a little more and we can "just" take the oil. Ten or twenty million dead is not a concern.

..and whoever is left is set up to fight each other before they fight us.


There was another fine Bush quote today/yesterday, about Obama giving Raoul Castro undeserved Cred by letting him hypothetically meet with the Prez of the US. My thought was that it might offer Castro II just the opposite effect.


'It is as if the Pharaohs have returned..'
Sallah, Raiders of the Lost Ark

oldhippie, you hit the nail on the head.

The resource war is a "Kill Off" policy. Even under Clinton, Iraqis were being killed off through simple starvation and lack of medicines.

Under Bush the "Kill Off" policy became much more overt. We treat the rest of the planet as "Injun Country." As long as the Natives are compliant, we more or less let them live. Iraq might as well be a large reservation, for all most Americans know. If the natives want to run their own country their own way, however, we step up our program of genocide.

Our leadership -- and I think many American consumers -- all agree on the policy of "Kill Off." However, it is impolite to talk about it openly. It is considered in better taste to talk about "liberating" the people we are killing for oil.

Note that the candidates for President of the USA refuse to talk about reality. They all prefer to avoid stating the obvious: we went in to Iraq to steal the oil.

Even though one can talk about how we simply want to secure and control the flow of oil, it boils down to theft.

The thieves all say that they are actually befriending the victims. The torture and killing is actually tough love. Depriving civilians of food, water, power, and livelihood is our way of helping them.

The victims are blamed for their own deaths. We can't help it if they were in the way, or if they resist being liberated.

Note that public discourse in our country is so poor that the real and basic issues are not considered real or important. Our public discourse is based on fantasy.

Democrats and Republicans alike promote the fantasy even as they pretend to disagree somehow. I am amazed at how effective even the presidential campaigns are at determining the very vocabulary used to describe our policies, and so to shape the perceptual field in such a way as to marginalize anyone who suggests real change.

I am amazed at how effective even the presidential campaigns are at determining the very vocabulary used to describe our policies, and so to shape the perceptual field in such a way as to marginalize anyone who suggests real change.

Perfectly Said. Any naive voter who somehow chose to back Ron Paul saw this in spades. It is incredible to watch it unfold.

Make sure to watch the video Gail Posted below.

From the Onion
Diebold accidentally leaks election results.

We have already had $4 premium gas here in Northern California.

iirc, when prices were high (when regular unleaded was over $3.15 in the Twin Cities) it only was about 10 cents or so higher up north.

And that was for a relatively short period of time (less than a month?), but before dropping back below $3 (which it still is) for some time.

We are now looking at over $3 to be the avg. of the year. Which is a big deal. The twin cities is a pretty large commuter city, with a sprawling metropolis where a lot of people commute 60 miles plus a day. Add in stop n' go traffic and your big truck or SUV is filling up every couple of days. I don't know how this compares to other cities, but it's probably pretty similar. In short, if you are one of these people and already hurting ... you will be crying.

And if your credit cards get cutoff (like the article Leanan posted where people were paying the credit cards before the mortgage) you see how important those avenues of cashflow become.

Also on that NPR report people were only filling the tank halfway - I'm not sure if this is a way to lie to yourself that you're spending less or what. But if people do this on a large scale shortages get even worse because you'll need gas the next day.

Agree totally with the bulk of your post, one nit. From a societal point of view not filling the tank is a *good* thing.

More gas in the tank means more mass to haul around (it uses more gas).

In the US: if everyone filled up their tanks today I believe we would immediately fall below the minimum operating level for certain pipelines.

(in the US: 200 million machines, ~10 gal per machine waiting to be filled, 2 billion gallons)

I only fill my half my tank...but it's the top half. ;-)

Ever since Katrina, I don't let the gas gauge fall below the halfway point.

There's another good reason to keep gasoline in the tank. As I understand it, running the tank completely empty might destroy the fuel pump. Since they are usually located inside the tank, this can be a big, expensive problem.

E. Swanson

Ten gallons of gas is about 60 pounds of fuel. If someone has a twenty gallon tank, then a full tank will add about 120 pounds of fuel to the vehicle load. The greater the load the worse the gas mileage. Driving with more gasoline in the tank may increase monthly expenses. People who used their car trunks as storage space also paid more for carrying the weight in terms of fuel inefficiencies.

Half a tank is five gallons for me.

I hardly drive, so I'm really not that concerned about mileage.

I do try not to keep too much junk in my car, but it's mostly because 1) I hate clutter and 2) it's a safety hazard.

Why am I getting adverts for sex movies on the LHS of the screen?


I am sure you have Blogads to thank for that. It must be upset that you are not clicking your fair share of adverts so it is upping the anti :P

I don't know. I don't see anything like that. If you're the only one, maybe you're infected with some kind of malware?

I was getting what looked like (I didn't click on the link :-) ) them with firefox on Linux (so a virus is unlikely although not impossible). Now I'm getting what look like risque celebrity video adverts. I'm personally not offended by what was shown on the advert images and suspect it's probably just some sort of strange main page keyword scanning interaction (assuming the oildrum works that way). These things will just happen sometimes if there's some "adult" adverts in the general pool of adverts.

There's one technical list I'm on that somehow triggers adverts for expensive lingerie, but I've never figured out what keyword that is being misinterpreted.

Just turned off ad-blocking and saw it. It's an advert for a webcam sex site.

How charming. I'll see if we can get rid of it. I think we do have some say over which BlogAds we allow here.

Can you wait a bit I'm just getting crummy renewable energy adds :(

I'd rather see petroleum/palm oil products put to MUCH better uses than transportation.

You don't want to click on this ad. It goes to the notorious Zango. We will be getting rid of it ASAP.

Sexy yellow bikini! Watch now!

Not really what I expect at the Oil Drum.

Can someone take a screenshot and send it to me? My e-mail address is in my profile.


Thin, Powerful, Light, Free - no its not a hooker its the new Mac Book:-))

You weren't here for the Oil CEO

My apologies for that. We are trying out some additional advertising networks and it looks like some automatically-approved "provocative" content crept in. I've put some more restrictions on the content, so we'll see if that eliminates the problem.

If anyone else encounters something objectionable, please send to support at theoildrum dot com:
  • The ad's target link
  • Which box it appeared in (bottom ad or second up from the bottom)
  • A screenshot, if possible

AdBlock Plus for the win! No ads, any time, anywhere! :)


Famed geneticist creating life form that turns CO2 to fuel

Geneticist Craig Venter disclosed his potentially world-changing "fourth-generation fuel" project at an elite Technology, Entertainment and Design conference in Monterey, California."We have modest goals of replacing the whole petrochemical industry and becoming a major source of energy," Venter told an audience that included global warming fighter Al Gore and Google co-founder Larry Page. "We think we will have fourth-generation fuels in about 18 months, with CO2 as the fuel stock."



Nanoparticles could make hydrogen cheaper than gasoline

Boasting 1,000 times the surface area of traditional materials, the coatings can be used to retrofit existing electrolysers to increase their efficiency to 85 percent--exceeding the Department of Energy's goal for 2010 by 10 percent. The scheme holds the promise of 96 percent efficiency by the time cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells hit automobile showrooms, according to the Santa Ana, Calif., company.

Exciting times indeed. There could be a battle in the future over whether to use synthetic fuels versus hydrogen in the future.

I quit a well paid job in a bioinformatics company rather than do a project for Craig Venter to make his DNA sequence available on a pay per view basis.

Good story on Venter. Could he be the Dr. Strangelove of biogenetics?


Its hard to take anyone seriously who calls someone a ahole and a idiot in the first sentence. At this point all we can do is what and see if they have any success in creating bugs to make us crude products. :)

Actually, Venter is reviled by many in the science community (see post above). Moreover, history is filled by one shot wonders who never achieved much after achieving their claim to fame. Because he did something once makes it less likely for a repeat performance.

As a biologist, I have followed Venter's career for some time, and to me he sure comes across as an egotistical, narcissistic, blowhard. But that's just my opinion.

Sgage, I believe those traits that you and others attribute to Venter make him so dangerous. Add his mercenary attitude and you have someone who is likely to be careless in unleashing new organisms into the environment in the rush to get them to market and to beat others to the punch to get there first. I could not think of worse personal attributes in a person in control of such cutting edge technology.

Jurassic Park.

Wow, a life form that can turn CO2 into fuel--it's called a green plant! Yet another scheme of J. Craig to bilk Wall Street. I fail to see how any artificial life form is going to get over the same EROEI issues presented by corn. The fact that this gets press is more proof that the First Law of Disney trumps the First Law of Thermodynamics.

Yet another scheme of J. Craig to bilk Wall Street.

Scheme? the guy was essential in decoding the human genome, he's hardly a scam artist, in fact he has a proven track record of amazing scientific work. As far as I know he's not asking for money from anybody on wall street, as his stock isn't publicly traded.

I suppose that "peak oil" is essentially irrelevant if Craig Venter and the various economists are correct. Future technology won't be built on oil at all.

But it seems like TOD serves a useful function in pointing out the inevitability of that transition to a whole new regime, and providing a public forum for debate and education on how to achieve it.

I have learned a lot here (TOD) about what is, and what is possible. Looking back to the beginning of TOD, it looks like most of the articles have been pretty much accurate, and gradually the public has caught up with the leaders. Gloomy thoughts come from relentlessly projecting trends as straight lines-- while magical thinking assumes some deus ex machina that might possibly (but probably won't) solve all the problems

TOD manages to find the logical middle ground. Here's a Leap Year toast to the NeoCortex. May it live long and prosper.

The difference is, he owns the genetic code of his Frankenstein, so the corporations he will inevitably sell out to for commercialization will then own it. The corporations would rather stall a technology than to have it develop in a form they can't control. See: RCA stalling on development of TV for years until Farnsworth's patent expired, leaving him with nothing. The corporations will order their pet politicians to divert all biofuel funding from "public domain" plants like sawgrass to the plants that they control. The joke is that you still need land, lots of it, which might be used more efficiently for solar energy.

Our only hope is simple technology that can be stolen by the 3rd World, the only people with cheap enough labor to massively implement it and the greatest threat to the environment if they don't.

RCA did that to Armstrong and FM, not Farnsworth and TV. TV required huge capital investment and large price point television sets at first, and it was during the Depression. FM was much cheaper on output and receiver end. RCA basically used their monopoly power to persecute inventors, except for Farnsworth who was just too early.

Actually, sugar cane ethanol has an EROEI of about 9 to 1. So there are already plant-based examples of high EROEI out there. Soil erosion, however, is another issue...


This is nothing but good old biogas (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biogas for details). This approach has been used successfully for decades to produce methane. The approach is to put a large amount of excrement or organic waste in a big vat, add bacteria and let it bubble. Out comes a mixture of CH4 and CO2 with small amounts of other stuff (H2S etc.).

In more scientific language, this is all well and good but for producing CH4 from CO2 you need a reducing agent. The reducing agent is the limiting factor. Plants use light to separate water into hydrogen, the reducing agent, and oxygen (waste product that they put into the athmosphere) and the process is called photosynthesis. Methanogens (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methanogen ) are bacteria that do this with chemical reducing agents like H2S or Hydrogen (H2).

"If they could produce things on the scale we need, this would be a methane planet," Venter said. "The scale is what is critical; which is why we need to genetically design them."

No one seeing any dangers here? He just talks about creating organisms that could destroy our whole biosphere and people think this can save us? This is outright mad and could kill every single being on this planet.
Sorry, but this guy is definitely an idiot and an asshole and a crazy sick bastard, and everyone who sees anything good here is one, too.
Stuff like this is the reason why I think that genetic engineering is the most dangerous thing the human mind ever came up with.

In the name of all life, let's hope he will not succeed.

From the Flynn article:

Demand for oil is weak and it is obvious that we are seeing at least some form of demand destruction but as we have seen, rising supply and lower demand does not necessarily translate into lower price.

Whence comes all these assertions demand is falling? I've yet to see a single weekly inventory report that reports gas demand falling YoY. Every week it is up 0.4%-1.0%. The very report he was quoting all the bearish inventory increases showed an increase in gas consumption. What kind of blinders are these people wearing?

I've wondered about that too. Is there another data series from EIA which shows falling demand, perhaps a monthly, quarterly, or annual series, as opposed to the Weekly Petroleum Status Report and This Week in Petroleum?

Or perhaps these comments about lower demand are really referring to a deceleration in the rate of growth of demand. That, though, is not how the Flynn comment reads.

I have to admit that it looks like there is a decoupling going on between inventory levels and prices, at least in the U.S. Crude oil and gasoline stocks in the U.S. have been building steadily, with gasoline stocks at something like a fourteen year high. Robert Rapier has marveled at how quickly these stocks have recovered from their lows of last year. Perhaps he will weigh in with his thoughts on inventory levels vs. prices.

WSJ has a front-page article on the commodities boom today (Commodity Prices Surge,
As Investors Seek a Haven
). Oil over $100 does not even stand out relative to other commodities:

But oil has been a laggard compared with other commodities. So far this year, natural-gas prices are up 26%, coal is up 56%, platinum up 41%, wheat up 32% and cocoa up 38%.

Inventories last year were up to 220 mb, and they fell pretty quick in the spring. We're at 230 - that can fall fast too. Plus, I've yet to see Robert respond to the claims that the gas inventory builds are too heavy on the blending components and light on the actual gas. Which might lead on to think that inventory is high, but the weakest link in the chain is still pretty weak, and a chain is only as strong as...

Plus, I've yet to see Robert respond to the claims that the gas inventory builds are too heavy on the blending components and light on the actual gas.

It's a non-issue. I used to blend gasoline, and I can tell you that it can be blended about as fast as it can be pumped. The only caveat is that sometimes you bust a blend (RVP too high or octane too low) and you have to "doctor" it. So blending components are not quite as good as finished gasoline, but they aren't far off from finished gasoline.

The reason blending components are so high compared to previous years has everything to do with ethanol. It can't be blended at the refinery, so the components get shipped to terminals. But from there, it gets blended off as needed.

I must be confused as I don't understand the relevance of how fast gas can be blended. The issue is stored stocks. Finished gasoline can be shipped as is and be burned in engines. Can blended components? If not, then they are waiting for further product to come down the pipeline before they can be blended in and used, right? And if that's true, then problems with delivery of that further product leaves all that [ethanol/blending component] stranded, in a sense. Please educate me where I'm wrong because I really want to understand better.

I have continued to be a bit perplexed by the blending components puzzle so I asked the EIA some questions to find out what I could;

This is in response to questions about Blending components ( Backs up Robert's comments )

Our reported stocks of gasoline blending components exclude fuel ethanol. Fuel ethanol is reported as a separate product in monthly data. We do not collect fuel ethanol data in our weekly system except indirectly in some cases such as production of finished gasoline blended with alcohol.

As you know from following the data, overall gasoline stocks have been increasing in recent weeks. You see increases in the motor gasoline blending components area for two reasons. The first reason is the underyling increase in total gasoline stocks. The other reason is that a growing portion of total gasoline stocks are being stored as blending components rather than finished motor gasoline. This is largely the result of increased use of fuel ethanol. When fuel ethanol is blended into gasoline, the gasoline and ethanol are typically kept in separate storage tanks. The blending takes place in-line as gasoline is loaded on trucks or in the trucks that transport gasoline to retail outlets. Gasoline not blended with fuel ethanol is more likely to be stored as finished motor gasoline. I think you will see continued increases in the portion of gasoline stored as blending components as ethanol moves into more U.S. markets.

In some cases the gasoline blended with fuel ethanol starts as finished gasoline rather than blending components, but in many cases it is actually RBOB or CBOB which generally speaking are not ready for sale at the pump until after they are blended with ethanol.

Regarding the weekly data, we publish (at least for the U.S.) production of finished conventional gasoline blended with alcohol and finished reformulated gasoline blended with alcohol. Those are the gasoline barrels blended with fuel ethanol. Some people use those numbers for estimating the volume of ethanol blended using estimates of the ratio of ethanol blending.

Let me know if you have any further questions.

Survey Statistician

Petroleum Division

Energy Information Administration

Hmmm... it seems like the summer additive is left out the equation. A shortage of the alkylate additive is expected to cause a price spike.

Hmm, sounds like I just have the wrong idea about what "blending components" means. Now all I can say is I have no idea what those words refer to.

I used to work for Campbell's Soup, and we made V8 Juice. You know how? We took this concentrated block of stuff called "V7" and added tomato juice. They would be the blending components that can quickly be turned into gasoline.

So let's say you want to mix ethanol with a sub-octane blend to make a finished product. The sub-octane blend already has everything else it needs in it, but still gets counted as blending components. But it can be blended very quickly. Prior to the big ethanol push, the blends happened mostly at the refineries, and the stocks got counted as finished gasoline there before going down the pipelines. Now, a lot goes down the pipe as a sub-blend that is classified as a blending component. But it is really "V7."

I see, and since we have plenty of ethanol, there is no trouble using all the "blending components" that we have in stock.

If the ethanol wasn't required, we would just continue blending at the refineries, and the stock would get counted and shipped down the pipeline as finished gasoline. It's just an accounting thing; don't get concerned about blend stocks increasing at the expense of finished product. It takes very little time and effort to turn stocks into product.

I show some longer-term trends in demand using EIA data in this post. For example:

I also show graphs for gasoline.

This is a link to the EIA source for product supplied. Apart from changes in inventory (which should be small over longer periods), this is equivalent to "demand".

Latest TWIP:

"Additionally, gasoline demand growth has softened in response to a struggling economy and gasoline prices averaging above $3 per gallon all fall and winter. In fact, the current 4-week average for gasoline demand is 1.1% lower than this time last year."


Is demand falling, is it falling due to price? Are we switching to smaller rigs and less travel? I don't know.

But from the "whose data do you believe dept" comes this from a toplink:


"...Saudi Arabia, which has been self-sufficient in wheat for years, because it has been over-pumping an underground aquifer, has recently announced that by 2016 that it will be out of the wheat business. I mention that because they have been realistic enough to look ahead and say when that aquifer will be depleted."

Won't SA provide the data/analysis on their oil fields?

That doesn't jive with the weekly reports such as http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/oil_gas/petroleum/data_publications/weekly_pe... where demand increased by 0.4% for last week. I can't find previous weeks, but I make a habit of looking most weeks, and I've not seen a week yet where it reported demand decreasing.

Lots of bad weather/snow storms back east likely kept demand flat/slightly down for the reporting period; the demand seasonality aspect reflects this. As you note, demand was rising, albeit at a much slower rate, so we'll need to see a trend over time. I think per capita use will be the best indicator.

One way to look at is is the per capita demand. As we have repeatedly emphasized, the US is a growing nation. At the current prices, gasoline consumption is not keeping up with population growth.

I suppose that is one way to look at it. Some might consider that to be "spin". The price isn't per capita. There is just one price driven by the total demand, not per capita demand.

The article about the coming tsunami of petrodollars reminds me of the early-80's film 'Rollover' about a secretive move by the oil-rich middle east to shift their paper assets into gold. The movie's final scene of a worldwide financial collapse is great stuff if you like doomer movies. Just curious if anyone here has seen it, and if so, do you think the depiction is relevant to today's world.

Article from the Spiegel newsletter looking at the reasons for higher oil prices:

What's Really Driving the Price of Oil?

There are plenty of answers. Some hold the crisis in the Middle East and constantly growing demand in China responsible. Others blame producing countries for keeping the oil spigot half-closed.

But none of it's very convincing. "Supply and demand cannot explain the high prices," says Fadel Gheit of Oppenheimer & Co., a leading commodities analyst. Like many in his profession, Gheit believes financial investors are driving up prices. He's reminded of the Internet bubble around the turn of the millennium. According to Gheit, oil is also seeing "excessive speculation" at the moment.


The question is, how long can these galloping prices continue without doing permanent damage to the US and world economies? Rising prices for gasoline, heating oil and airline tickets will increase inflationary pressures and stifle demand in the short to medium term.

"In the end it's a straw that breaks the camel's back," says Gheit, a native Egyptian. Or it's like a weightlifter hefting weights, he says, until someone places a pencil on top and he crashes to the ground.

"This is a bubble," he insists, "and it will burst."

I wouldn't call it a bubble, but the price of oil has overshot short-term supply and demand reality.

Gasoline prices are going to be high because of a shortage of a specific blending component of summer-blend fuels.

But the price of oil should probably be around $92-$93.

It shot higher because of two Fed remarks that alerted investors to the fact that higher inflation is coming, and that the Fed is aware of it but is going to ignore it in favor of propping up the financial system, which it has no choice but to do. Investors then just started piling indiscriminately into all commodities as the dollar started to free fall.

So here is what is about to happen in the markets. The high price of oil will bring ever more imports, with big jumps in inventory over the next few weeks. The price will come down, and in coming down will overshoot because of investor panic. So it will come down to maybe $89ish. Since the only thing holding up the stock market is commodity stocks, the stock market will crash as well, at least to 1275, maybe down to 1100 (can't tell yet). As money comes out of the commodity and stock markets, the dollar will rise, putting further pressure on commodities.

At this point, conventional wisdom will be that the commodity bull is over, and the deflationistas will be crowing, but in fact this will be the time to buy commodities, both because of the ongoing oil production decline rate and as an inflation hedge.

You guys should read www.nakedcapitalism.com today: "The Bernanke Tightrope Fantasy". It explains the inflation situation well, and its effect on commodity prices, including oil.

Dow down 300 points now on the day. I've noticed the last hour or so on a Friday often sees very large movements - wonder where it's going to end the week?

No, No. Absolutely wrong. The US WANTS a weaker dollar and it wants hyperinflation. That means not the end of the world. That means, that those several trillion US$ debts from the US is going to deflated accordingly. I would do the same if I were the treasury secretary. There is still the possibility to create a new currency afterwards. After the whole debt (for the creditors ) is worth nothing anymore. Maybe the new currency is named "north american dollar", NAD.
Who knows?

The US will be running budget deficits for the foreseeable future and foreign loans may be stopping due to this policy. I am guessing with a Democrat the half a trillion military budget will be in jeopardy because some things will need to be axed.

I guess nobody has shown him the production graph for C+C over the last three years. Flat production + rising demand = rising prices.

At least, that's what they taught me in school.


Burkina Faso: Protests Spread to Capital

Protesters in Ouagadougou, the capital and largest city, attacked government buildings with stones and iron bars as they demanded lower prices for fuel and food.

The sound of a fossil-fueled engine on the other side of the looking glass.

[accidentally posted this to yesterday's DrumBeat just now]

Hardly a wheel turns or any fuel burns in that part of the world w/o it being fully utilized. A stake truck is a 50 passenger vehicle one way a 14ft load of yams the other. This certainly isn't idle consumer grumbling. It's the front lines.

It's one of the poorest countries in the world with an average per cap income of $1200- anyone who owns a 12 horsepower scooter is considered wealthy. But the protesters are not really worried about transportation costs (as few own vehicles anyway), the protest is about fuel for cooking.

(spelling edit)
Indeed actual cash income is a rarity for some. But the price of oil has a huge effect on people in these little Saheel economies. IMHO more so than our own.

When I used to ride around those parts a typical trip to town (15 mi.) was about 3 cents US. The lorrie was crammed with foodstuffs, goats, charcoal, me and lots of other folks. A meal at the cheapest chop bars was .12 cents or so. That was for 'second run' stew (the basic internals). I mention this to show how an individual's slim 'budget' might be affected by small price movements. Any rise in the cost of transportation fuel (specifically mentioned in some of the articles as an issue) impacts the cost of food and and all other commodities.

A good deal of the economy at the time I was there was also dependent on AID which also found it's way into the markets. Another diminishing resource. One issue also affecting things is the governments refusal to let their currencies float meaning the real value of people's money is lower than the official rate when it comes to buying things. The 'unofficial trade market' establishes the real value mostly. When the 'market mammies' would hoard or go short of a certain item the price was high enough and those who could do without did and those of us accustomed to TP and sugar paid up.

All tolled anything which raises the price paid for vital commodities at the street level such as that trip to work or a bag of charcoal or the price of yams (white staple tuber) means hunger not just inconvenience. That's what I meant about front lines (on the oil and commodities front). A complex issue to be sure but I am certain that high oil and grain prices worldwide does and will mean severe hardship in these areas.

There's a longer article about this here.

I watched Roscoe Bartlett's 38th Peak Oil Special Order Speech and saw he used a chart from The Oil Drum... also, Bartlett showed a stunning map labeled The World According to Oil in which countries are sized according to their oil reserves. The U.S. is tiny, and Europe is microscopic.

Thanks for the link.
Roscoe's the man.

Of course, this being Leap Day; all other members of Congress are out at the Lemmings Leap cliff waiting to repeat business as usual. They did not see him. They did not hear him. All they could think about was their mad rush to the crush ... er I mean cash.

Great map. I assume it's based on reported reserves. I'd like to see a time lapse version to show the jump in reported reserves in the 1980s....

Just a few observations with regard to todays' DB.

Food prices
According to an article in my daily yesterday, 39 countries face a food crisis. Several had food riots in the recent past, Cameroon being the latest (at least 7 dead)
Expect food prices to spike further this year (possibly double, IMO)
FAO's food price indices:
Get your garden started.

Deutsche Banks' special relation to Peak Oil in light of the above article
Well, see this 2004 PDF of Deutsche Bank Research. Highly recommended. I like to refer to page 8 and 9 in particular, mentioning ASPO and PO literally:


Another first! Until I read the Deutsch Bank report I had never come across storing energy in the form of silicon metal!

I will have to look around to find out more - anyone got any good links? - update: - I found this very technical pdf:

This article was on the front page of today's WSJ:

Commodity Prices Surge, As Investors Seek a Haven

The powerful rally in commodity markets is defying a global economic slowdown because investors are fleeing battered stock and bond markets, and the impact of their cash is being amplified by new, easier ways to buy and sell raw materials.

With the new lower interest rates and higher inflation, bank accounts and government bonds are very bad deals. Commodities of all types look much better. Food is one, but others are oil, gold, and raw materials of all types.

I expect this to be the next big trend.

Jim Rogers is one of the smartest investors I've ever seen. He is well aware of Peak Oil. I did what he said and my portfolio is running extremely well. Do you remember Rogers saying: If you want to buy oil, buy cotton or sugar!

I did not know the onion was doing video news

Check out the one about the State Dept thinking that Andorra is in Africa - ROTFLMAO!

I've been in laughing all morning, I have to meet these people

Laughing? It's just too sublime to laugh at.

Onion also has Diebold accidentally leaks election results.



You made my day and week. That was HILLLLARIOUS.

Thank You.

These are better than the Daily Show and Colbert.

I made a beautiful, big pot of Beef Stew, Wednesday. Chunks of Beef, Carrots, Tomatoes, Celery, Potatoes, Rotel's Mild Chilis. Cost: $12.00. Enough to feed a family of four for several days.

Food is Cheap, chilluns.

Did I mention, the Corn Bread Mix probably had about Two Cents worth of corn in it?

Food is Cheap, chilluns.

Well ... lucky you!

Have you any idea how many people will die of hunger in the world today? ... or how many people in the world live on $0.25 a day!


Using a basic calorie counter I've come up with the following rough values:

5 pounds beef = 5,000
10 pounds potatoes = 4,000
5 pounds carrots = 1,000
5 pounds tomatoes = 400
Celery and chilis are negligible, so lets call that another few hundred calories.

So, 25-30 pounds of stew materials will yield about 11,000 calories of food (it will also take a pretty large pot to stew). For a family of 4 over 3 days (3 being sort of the minimum for "several"), that works out to a little over 900 calories/day. I think it is fair to call that a semi-starvation diet.

So let me pop out to my local grocery store's web site and see what those ingredients cost (online prices are the same as in-store).

5 lbs beef = $8 (one of the day's "extreme values")
10 lbs potatoes = $6
5 lbs carrots = $5
5 lbs tomatoes = $7 (another "extreme value")
Total for a 3-day semi-starvation diet: $26

Now, the grocery store I checked is a mid-level store, so I could probably save a few bucks by going to the absolute cheapest store around. I could save maybe another dollar by upping potatoes in place of the meat, but 20-25 dollars is about as cheap as you're going to get to feed a "family of four for several days", and for that you get a semi-starvation diet.

For $12, you get a meal with some leftovers.

I went over to your calorie counter link, and I came out with about 24,000 Calories for the Beef, alone. I didn't bother with the rest. I didn't have to. I still have stew left over. We got at least 10 good nutritious (individual) meals out of twelve dollars. Oh, and I didn't use anywhere near 5 lbs of meat.

Funny, I got 5,000 calories also.

The calories are given for serving size (about 3 oz.)

Oops, it looks like I had a "senior" moment. More like about 2,500 - 3,000 calories/lb. That would be about 15,000. Right?

"bedtime for Bonzo." before I mess this up even more.

we've all heard your wonderful theory of how cheap food is - of course, if you look at the rate of increase in prices in doesn't look so good

and if you are poor and can't afford all the fixins, it ain't so cheap for the "chilluns" now is it?

Mac, a pound of beef represents 2.6 lbs of corn. ex a 600 lb steer will have eaten 1560 of corn when he's butchered.

Corn has increased in price in the last two years by about $0.06/lb. A bowl of stew might have 1/5 lb of beef. SO, The price of the beef in my bowl of stew (that is attributable to corn) is about 1.2 Pennies higher than a couple of years, ago.

The point has already been made, but let me ask: are you aware what percentage of the world lives in poverty? Minimum wage worker, US earns 1048/mo. Take home is less, of course (and we're assuming the owner is not an ass hat not allowing them enough hours to qualify as full time), so let's say.... 950 net? They would spend $432/mo. on your stew if that were all they ate.

You're right. Affordable. There's no problem here, folks. See! There's the food right there on *my* table!



Let me ask you; are you aware that 70% of those living in poverty, globally, are subsistence farmers?

Are you moving the goal posts or just tossing out random thoughts?


Distant future oil (December 2016) breaks $100 for the first time:


I keep more of an eye on this contract and on the far end of the oil futures series in general than on current oil prices because much of the day-to-day noise of temporary bottlenecks, Chavez etc is filtered out.

There are a 1000 and 1 things that could impact the demand and supply for oil and its price 9 years hence. That contract represents the world's best guess (in aggregate).

If you think it's too low, buy one!!!

I'd hold off and buy one in a few weeks. There's about to be a big deflation scare, so you'll be able to buy a lot more cheaply.

A bank collapse? Related to that small banks failure comment by the Fed the other day?

There is chance that the 2016 contracts won't be honored. Or at least not in a way that makes you financially better off. In 9 years, the Us may not even be able to import oil

This is the kind of thing you expect in a Third World country...

Las Vegas clinic accused of reusing syringes

...Southern Nevada Health District announced that unsafe practices at the clinic may have led to six reported cases of hepatitis C, a potentially fatal blood-borne virus.

Another 40,000 people who received anesthesia at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada between March 2004 and January 2008 are being urged to be tested for hepatitis, strains C and B, and HIV.

...Health officials say they believe the center had been reusing syringes and vials of anesthesia, exposing its patients to the blood of others.

You mean a third world country whose political leadership can't be trusted to maintain the value of it's currency?
or a third worlds country whose leadership denies the economy is bad despite overwhelming evidence?
or maybe a third world country whose politicians are bought and paid for by giant corporate interests?
or maybe a third world countries whose infrastructure is collapsing?
huge budget deficits? with no rational plan to balance the budget?
a third world country like that?

The point is that this kind of thing is very rare in the US whereas fairly common in the third world. This has nothing to do with falling currency or budget deficits.

Right! It is a symptom of untrained people not knowing what they were doing or being totally unaware of the dangers of using unsterilized equipment. Remember the AIDS outbreak in China a few years ago? People were selling their blood at small clinics set up specifically for that in small communities. They were using the same needles over and over to draw blood. In some communities everyone who gave blood were infected.

Isn't it amazing, this had absolutely nothing to do with the stability of their currency. Jeeze!

Ron Patterson

I don't think they were untrained or ignorant. I think they did it to save money and maximize profits. This was a private surgery center run by a businessman.

Watch it-it sounds like you are alleging a "conspiracy". They were just "untrained". Only extremely well trained medical professionals know that it is advisable not to share needles.

They didn't share needles. They shared syringes and vials of medication.

This was apparently their policy, and they were open about it. They really didn't know it was a danger.

I am not a medical professional and it was my understanding that it is dangerous to share syringes (or needles). Was this info somehow unknown in Vegas or is my intuition that good?

In Columbia in the 1970'a they would stop your bus and vaccinate everyone on it with the same syringe, at gunpoint. No matter how loud you yelled.

Why dident anybody notice a long time ago?
It ought to be common knowledge.
You must have far larger problem then one set of idiot staff.

The interesting thing is why they did it. Obviously, it was to save money. As pharmaceuticals become more expensive, I suspect the temptation to cut corners like this will grow.

People who need medical care in other countries sometimes supply their own needles. But it wasn't needles they were re-using here. It was the syringes, and the vials of medication. Probably things the average patient doesn't even think about. Heck, it appears even the doctors and nurses didn't think it was a danger.

Reducing,reusing, and recycling in the gambling capitol.

Hello TODers,

Some think that pollution controls will be kaput in the future. Well, since I am not seeing a huge growth in O-NPK closed loop composting and manure recycling: if you want to continue to eat maybe we should rethink this idea of abandoning pollution controls.

As posted by me in earlier postings: the prices of sulphur products have been skyrocketing lately, and as we go postPeak in oil & coal, as sour crude and coal supplies shrink significantly: we potentially will lose a huge source of sulphur, and abandoning sulphur scrubbers at coal genplants and coking processors will only make things worse for sulphur production [not to mention acid rain further screwing up crop yields and lakes].

The current phosphate shortage is also causing major problems for the animal feed sector – what has caused this shortage?

The price of sulphur, an essential raw material in the production of phosphate fertilizers, has increased by 300% in the last 2 months.

All phosphate has to be imported into the UK and phosphates are in short-supply worldwide.
More I-NPK info in this link besides the teaser segment posted above.

In case you didn't know [recall my prior posts on I-NPK production]:

Sulfuric acid is a very important commodity chemical, and indeed, a nation's sulfuric acid production is a good indicator of its industrial strength.[5] The major use (60% of total production worldwide) for sulfuric acid is in the "wet method" for the production of phosphoric acid, used for manufacture of phosphate fertilizers as well as trisodium phosphate for detergents.

Ammonium sulfate, an important nitrogen fertilizer, is most commonly produced as a byproduct from coking plants supplying the iron and steel making plants. Reacting the ammonia produced in the thermal decomposition of coal with waste sulfuric acid allows the ammonia to be crystallized out as a salt (often brown because of iron contamination) and sold into the agro-chemicals industry.

This link has graphs showing the recent moonshot in sulphur product prices [small PDF warning]:

Below is a trend of pricing over the past year along with a 2nd quarter 2008 forecast. January saw a huge increase of $140.00/LT to a new quarterly price of $252.00/LT. Prices are expected to rise further in the 2nd quarter with industry experts anticipating the
increases to be in the range of $100 to $200/LT (source: Green Markets, Jan 21, 2008).
Sulphur is also a critical element in the production of pesticides and herbicides, and essential for mining and steel processing too.

As mentioned before: the FF/NPK supply chain latency, and its consequent effect upon food production may catch us by surprise. Time will tell.

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

as i understand H2SO4 is the #1 (volumetrically) chemical product around the world, #2 is NH3.

Hello Nh3,

Thxs for responding-- Yep, I suspect you are correct. Chindia should want to put scrubbers everywhere to not only reduce smog pollution and acid rain, but to capture the sulphur for future beneficiation of their phosphate reserves, use in steel processing, etc--a win-win.

The unwashed masses have no idea of the time & energy-intensive multi-million ton industrial mining, beneficiation, and movement of bulky ores, chemicals, fluids, and foodstuffs on a JIT global basis. They are mind-conditioned to think this moves as fast as a weightless email over the WWWeb or a long distance cellphone call.

Brief sketch: picture the simple act of eating a carrot, but first imagine Powder River Basin coal being burned in St Louis, then the sulfuric acid being shipped to Florida or Morocco to be used to make the P, then the P is shipped to Trinidad for natgas-N addition, then the NP is shipped through the Panama Canal to California, but processed again with K long hauled from Saskatchewan, then finally, the completed ratio of I-NPK is farmer-added to the soil near Yuma,Az, then lastly: the carrot is moved by rail to NYC.

EDIT: When will the farmer find it more economical to just go a couple of miles down the road, then haul back O-NPK chicken manure?

CaSO4 is called anhydrite. It is about 1% of the mass of the continent above sea level, usually under a layer of salt. The anhydrite under Texas is less than a mile thick and about half the size of Oklahoma.
You heat it, you get lime and sulfur trioxide, you mix sulfur trioxide with water, you get sulfuric acid.
We will not run out of sulfuric acid.

Hello Wkwillis,

Agreed--we will not run out of a lot of minerals--but Lacking the Energy to mine it, chemically process it, then move it where it can be applied is the problem--> effectively the same as 'running out'.

Recall my earlier post of hiking a forty lb boulder of potash to the top of Pike's Peak, sledgehammering it to a powder, then hiking it further to a farmer's field. How about 'running out' to the tip of Argentina to sprinkle the potash across a small garden plot--any volunteers who can keep a quick pace to synchronize with the optimal planting timeframe?

And running out of the energy to mine energy;-) !!

So, should I be pouring coca-cola (and its phosphoric acid) on my garden?

You might as well drink it to gain the energy, then piss on your garden. Human urine as fertilizer is a growing trend:

Uganda: Human Urine Safe As Fertilizer

Hello Bob,

prior to the recent boom, virtually all the O-NPK rich human waste was recycled in China. even in the city of Shanghai, the stuff from the flushed toilet was handled by a system separated from the city sewer and recycled back to the surrounding farming areas on a daily basis. in the last 20 some years, the population in the cities around China has ballooned to some 400 to 500 million while the "modernization" of the cities there has completely changed the way human waste was handled - instead of almost 100% O-NPK recycled back to the soil, it is now largely flushed down to the water ways.


Brace yourself.

Flushing O-NPK into the ocean is bad, of course. But Paul Erlich now says:

...China is much more constrained and much more water short (with water needed for irrigation now being diverted into secondary recovery in its faltering oil fields).

I thought pumping food into a gastank was bad, but will Chinese topdogs carry this to the extreme of taking water from babies to extract the last crude for their personal jets?

i don't think the topdogs there are that corrupt. having got themselves into and trying to prolong an unsustainable situation may be at the root of all these problems.

Only after your body has processed it - you will excrete the Phosphorus you don't need! :-)

Intensive agriculture as currently practised is unsustainable - in order to grow sucessfully and predictably plants need a stable predictable climate, excess energy, unpoluted air, unpoluted water, inorganics such as N,P,K, trace elements and lack of predation (prevented by chemicals) - too much as well as too little of many of these things spells disater.

Lack of excess energy following peak oil may not be (almost certainly won't be) the Liebig minimum when it comes to adequate food production.


The price of sulphur, an essential raw material in the production of phosphate fertilizers, has increased by 300% in the last 2 months.

How the heck can that be? We've seen the sky pictures of man made mountains of pure sulphur up in Canada as a by product I think of Tar Sands.

TITLE: Dr. Peter Clark, Professor of Chemistry, University of Calgary, and Director and CEO, Alberta Sulphur Research Ltd.

SUBJECT: #11 Using Sulphur to Make Electricity

SYNOPSIS: Sulphur is a byproduct of oil and gas production. Mountains of sulphur are stockpiled in Alberta and markets are already diminished because of a global glut of the yellow powder. Expansion of the oilsands will produce even more sulphur.

What are we going to do with the stuff?



PC: That’s a major problem. Years ago sulphur was, in fact, in short supply but because of increased environmental awareness of emission of sulphur compounds to the atmosphere, we’ve produced more and more sulphur not just in Alberta but also throughout the world particularly in the Middle East, in France, in Germany, in China, in Russia, and therefore this sulphur has flooded the world market and, in fact, it’s displaced some Canadian sulphur such that we can no longer market it into the world market.



Hello Samsara,

Good question-- I am not sure why. Maybe a shortage of enclosed railcars, tanker railcars, port facilities for river barge and ocean shipping to where it is needed next? I takes a lot of metal to make a safe rail chemical-tanker.

HazMat risk?

It must be blissful ignorance - or denial - that allows them to appreciate the presence of a diesel-fueled behemoth that most likely includes tank cars containing chemicals that are toxic or corrosive or flammable enough to be labeled "hazardous materials," or hazmat for short - from chlorine to anhydrous ammonia to sulfuric acid. Safely contained and delivered, they are harmless. Allowed to escape in a densely populated area during transport, whether by accident or post-9/1 1 sabotage, the result could be catastrophic.

An article about global cooling over at DailyTech. Some of the commenters over there are incredibly ignorant.

Over the past year, anecdotal evidence for a cooling planet has exploded. China has its coldest winter in 100 years. Baghdad sees its first snow in all recorded history. North America has the most snowcover in 50 years, with places like Wisconsin the highest since record-keeping began. Record levels of Antarctic sea ice, record cold in Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Mexico, Australia, Iran, Greece, South Africa, Greenland, Argentina, Chile -- the list goes on and on.


Warm in the UK...


January 2008
UK overview

The provisional mean value for the month is 5.3 °C, which is 2.3 °C above the 1961-1990 average.

It's again been one of the mildest ever winters in the UK.

Stockholm has had the warmest winter since 1756 when regular temperture measurements began.

yes, and in Athens the acropolis was covered with snow last week.
One thing people need to be much more conscious of than they are,
especially with the nearsightedness that the fast pace of mechanized society
imposes on us, is that the earth, and indeed the whole universe, is a _dynamic_
system. Our very short term of high-precision data collection cannot hope to give
a representative sample of 'normal' climate when climate itself is in a constant
state of...change. small cycles and fluctuations with durations of centuries.. larger
ones with durations of some millennia, larger ones yet of sone tens of millenia,
larger ones of some hundreds of millennia... the huge and complex dance of
the many and interconnected physical entities in the universe is all being played
before our eyes and to look at just one or two steps of the dance and then call the
dancer on an 'anomaly' for the next step is myopic and, well, silly.

Beyond that, do take notice how marginalized and ignored the anthropogenic global warming issue was until those in power hit on an opportunity to cash on in it,
financialy, politically, etc... and voila, suddenly every talking head is
abuzz about global warming this and that, about carbon credits, carbon taxes, how
everyone needs to cut back on their consumption (and relinquish, by the way, some
extra power, resources, cash, or all of the above, to the ruling elites) , etc...

Yes there is a short term observable trend of warming. In the last few thousand
years we have seen higher and lower trends of temperature.... and no, there is not
anything that driving a hybrid car or buying carbon credits or some other feelgood
placebo is going to influence one bit.. not to mention some even more dictatorial
and draconian usurpation in the name of 'saving the world' (which really means
saving it for the powerful and rich to get at with less effort and competition).

And on top of that, the reality of depleting fossil fuels will make the whole
matter moot in at most a couple of decades. Sooner, probably, given that just
as we don't need to run out of oil to have a serious production or net energy
problem, we also don't need to have a major decline in production to have a
huge disruption in business as usual in a highly interdependent, integrated,
global industrial economy- and to that add many power structures within who depend
heavily on not only that integrated economy but also on keeping their own
flow of fuels and materiel, and are willing to fight for it.

Are you a climate scientist or just another egotistical idiot? If you are the former than please give us links to your research showing that the current changes are normal.

The warmest winter in Helsinki since records started in 1900 has left the capital without snow and its residents looking to movie houses and other entertainment during the traditional winter ski break.


Global warming is speeding up, so more weird weather. Average temps are growing slowly, but overall there is definitely a big change in distribution already.

Some regions are experincing extreme cold. I some places the coldest winter for decades. It's balancing out.

Weatherman, you are just making crap up. Either post the link showing the places that had the coldest winter in decades or admit that you just make up crap. There were likely places that had very cold winters, but on balance things are getting warmer. It is not balancing out!

Ron Patterson






Admittedly, these are just news articles without meteorological facts presented to back them. And that last source in particular seems like it might have an ax to grind on the issue. But on the surface, it seems like there are a fair number of places around the globe having cold winters.

Not that what happens in any day, month, season or year proves or disproves global warming.

It is. china is experiencing a very cold winter, causing power shortages, so is Canada. Bagdad had snow for the first time ever. The Atctic ice cap is increacing in thickness.

In Russia it was unusually warm from west to east. I read that a person in one big Siberian city was collecting temps and reported that in February average temp was 5.6C warmer then normal and another city had 3.7C warmer February. It does not mean that global warming already added this much heat, but it means that cold moved south. Thus unusually cold weather in south and warmer then usual in the north. But in any case, one year does not mean much by itself.

Actually in this case it does. The meander of the jet stream has increased and this requires a change in the energy of the baroclinic eddies that shape it. Baroclinic instability feeds off the large scale meridional temperature gradient. The tropics are warming up so the gradient increases and so does the poleward heat flux by these eddies. These eddies don't merely act as some sort of diffusion on the background zonal flow, they redistribute momentum. So at the same time as the middle latitude flow ("jet stream") guides these eddies, they also deform it.

Colder temperatures farther south and warmer temperatures farther north are not just some spontaneous internal mode of variability of the system. This behaviour is energetically constrained. If you somehow could cool off the tropics, you would reduce baroclinic eddy formation and the jet stream (zonal flow) would be more zonal with less meridional excursion.


The meander of the jet stream has increased...

Exactly. It's like that little trickle of water running down a piece of glass, The Wiggling of it disperses energy.

Like the wandering of a river, Change the energy dynamics(flow/volume) you change the Wiggle rate and patterns.

Saw a great article in Scientific American (in the 70's) on just these patterns and the energy involved. Had an incredible arial view of a railroad train which ironically was carrying multi-car long sections of RailRoad Track. Well it ran into something head on and stopped. The Picture showed how the multi-car long sections of iron railroad track formed a perfect meandering snake. The rail cars that they were secured to could be seen as exploded pieces of wood.

It looked Exactly like an arial view of a river bed.

It's the most effecient shape/way of distributing the exergy.

It squirming means more energy needs to be gotten rid of.

Great Post Dissident.

It is interesting how certain structures organize themselves even in seemingly structureless systems. The baroclinic eddies form "storm tracks" and these tracks have dynamics of their own. The dynamical system of the atmosphere and ocean shows a propensity to develop internal constraints (it is not just the forced-dissipative self-organization, even the purely adiabatic case evolves towards balance). So, as in your railroad example, the energy is not flowing randomly and the system is sitting on some fuzzy submanifold of phase space.

A lot of the discussion associated with Global Warming is about statistics. But there are describable mechanisms involved which will respond in certain ways to the changing thermodynamic state and give much more information.

But there are describable mechanisms involved which will respond in certain ways to the changing thermodynamic state and give much more information.

Thats how I see it too.

I see it as thermodynamics thing. An Energy Transfiguration thing.

We have dug up a cubic mile of petroleum for the last 30-50 years. A good portion of that was turned into heat energy(from Stored Potential to Kinetic).

Some of that heat energy has turned into mechanical energy(moving mass Air, Water, Earth?).

In the atmosphere the increase of kinetic energy will be displayed by more Turbulent patterns vs Laminar. More amplitude in the weather expressions.

Stronger wind patterns. Maybe the kinks in the jet stream will bend down more often and get much higher ground speeds. Look for more damage from wind.

Stronger Ocean Patterns? Will some of that energy input be seen in stronger ocean currents in places? I know about the thermoclines and Artic water being less saline and not sinking. But might we see other places where currents get strengthened?

It an energy transformance thing I think. NOT just It's Getting Cooler, or It's Getting Hotter" thing. More energenic displays in our weather and climate variations.

Remembering my experiments back in high school Earth Science, with Kaolin in a slanted tube of water. At certain slight angle, the kaolin was a pure laminar flow down the tube and predictible in flow rate and quantity.

But, At a certain angle it turned into an unpredictable turbulent flow and the whole tube just became a milky billowing cloud front.

But the earth is of course a much larger scale and many many more variable acting on each other.

It is going to be an incredible experience these next 20 years.

Just some thoughts.

dissident, Samsara, thank you very much for some truly useful thoughts on climate change. To me, as a bystander, I see the changes but without seeing any thoughtful insights as to why they're occurring.

I noticed, as a layman, that something happened last spring, some tipping point was passed, which caused the weather here in Europe to become noticeably wetter and cooler. This followed on into the Autumn and Winter. It appeared to have been triggered by the very warm Spring we had last year (ie. caused by global warming). I also notice that the same thing has been happening in both Northern and Southern hemispheres, so making it a probable effect of Climate Change.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that we are seeing rougher seas, increased flooding, stronger winds, droughts and climatic extremes. And I've been wondering whether we're beginning to see increased earthquake activity.

As a matter of conjecture, what do you think we are going to see happening in the next 20 years.

And I've been wondering whether we're beginning to see increased earthquake activity.


I believe we will have a major one between Late 2008 and 2010 that will have profound changes.

UrbanSurvival.com also sees a "Coastal Event" in 2009 that will change everything.

People zigzag up steep inclines for the same reason: efficiency. Via Science or Scientific American... can't remember.

Right.. average out the wild ripples from brutally cold to murderously hot, fill in some of the droughts with a bunch of the monsoons, and the mean seems a LOT less mean! Problem solved!

(Pay no attention to the deteriorating ice-sheets behind the curtain!)


The issue with a changing climate is the destruction of many biological niches that depend on certain weather cues. Invasive, destructive species are rushing in to fill the niches.

It isn't just about warming temperatures or melting ice, and there is no "balancing out" when tipping points are passed in chaotic systems.

Yeah, the weather is rather strange lately. Around here in the western NC mountains, we had warm weather for a few days (temps nearly 50 F), then a little snow and cold temps yesterday (15F one morning). So, today I happened to find a fat tick on one of my neighbor's dogs. Given that it's still winter (tomorrow being the first day of climatological Spring), where did that tick come from? Was it an inside job?

E. Swanson

Hi Black_Dog,

Not to be nosy but ... do you know what kind of tick it was?

We've had double-triple seasons of June bugs and flies in December here lately, never before, but one thing I'd really like to avoid is ticks. I had a close encounter with a particularly nasty one a ways back.


I think it would be called a wood tick, about 3/8 inch long. It's not a deer tick. Actually, the critter is still alive after 4 hours under water (you may guess where). I'm tempted to take a picture of it, as it seems so strange, since I'm at 3000 ft elevation.

My neighbor who owns the dog just moved into a used double wide mobile home. The two halves sat in the weeds for a couple of months until he could get it moved to his land. One guess is that the tick crawled into the nice warm trailer before the really cold weather hit, then found the dog. But, it HAS been warm lately, enough so that the grass is turning green and the moss is blooming. I've seen some house flies and moths fluttering around as well.

E. Swanson

I was surprised to find a tick walking up my trousers the other day as I worked out in the field (I'm in France). I assumed it was a deer tick.

Winter is the time when I do various jobs in areas I avoid in the summer because of the ticks. I was not happy to see a tick at this time of year, to say the least.

Some of this denier stuff is just self-evidently ridiculous. How does Wisconsin have the highest snowcover on record when there is nothing unusual about 100% snowcover over the whole state? What would more than 100% mean? The current amounts of snow on the ground are not unusual either and the snowbelt off Lake Superior has produced nothing out of the ordinary this year, nothing like the 4,5, 6 feet on the ground that used to come in severe years.
Winter did not come early this year, we do not yet know if it will leave late. Days of cover means nothing yet. The link posted claims to have sources, link to them and it's only another set of broad claims from another journalist. Garbage.

And snow cover and amount does not correlate necessarily with temperature regime. Here in NH we have record snow this winter (and expecting another 6-10" tonight). But it has not been a very cold winter. People confuse "snow" with "cold". Actually, warmer air can hold more moisture than colder air. The really cold polar regions are essentially deserts.

Wisconsin's record snowfall has been accompanied by record low temperatures.

Cold ties 135-year-old record

A low of 15 below was recorded at 3:18 a.m. this morning at Dane County Regional Airport, matching the mark set in 1873.
In Antigo, the temperature dropped down to 26 below, breaking the old mark of 22 below set in 1896 and 1918, and Green Bay's old record of 14 below from 1963 was broken when the temperature dropped to 18 below.

Most regions of the state have already surpassed the previous record snowfall of 1885.

Oh please. Those are records for a particular date. If you think Dane County (Madison) has never previously been below -15 you've never visited Wisconsin. Can you find it on a map?
The record snowfall claim is just as absurd. In your mind you want it to be that way so it is.

Read down a few posts, Bob Shaw has the current drought monitor linked. Northern Wisconsin is in a drought. One of those droughts caused by record snows. GW deniers just make stuff up and don't even try to make up good stuff.

As I've mentioned in a previous DB, the air can also pick up more moisture from unfrozen waterways.

In the long term, the positive effect that the energy crises will have on the economy is that consumers, both households and industries, will have to use energy more efficiently. In addition, it has also led Eskom to seriously consider supporting alternative energy sources, including sustainable energy programmes, such as provided by solar energy and wind, for the first time. This will benefit the country in the long term.

An entirely predictable outcome. those that adapt the best will grow and the industry as a whole will come out with lower costs than many other competitors who didn't have to deal with a power crisis.

if you want to go you have to conquer efficiency.

.. while those starving to death in the dark will win the prize for being Absolutely the Most Economical!

or as Spock put it,
"Captain, your logic is infallible. We are in Grave danger."

"Those who make peaceful evolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable."

— John F. Kennedy

69.9 mpg VW

I apologize if this has already been posted.


Very cool, and this is still a fairly sizable vehicle. Imagine what you could do MPG by reducing weight and size another 25%. YOu could very well create a 100mpg hybrid.

you can buy a vw tdi car, mod it and get great MPG now.
My tdi gets 52mpg on avg, if I go 51mph and less than 2k rpms I'll get around 63mpg, that's stock.

A friend gets 65mpg @ 65 mph. He did put about $3000 into upgrades, but there worth it.
For more info check out. http://www.tdiclub.com/

I am doing upgrades to my tdi this summer my goal is 80 mpg.

another great website to check out is.


Damn, I want to buy it. I hope the euro doesn't hits 2 dollars by then.

You can always buy the euro(that's not investment advice).


Hello TODers,

[please see linked photo]

Don't you just hate it when grain market specialists are agape at the mouth and have their hands in the 'I surrender position', and expert farmers have that deeply-troubled 1,000 yard stare? :(

“Everybody was asleep at the switch. We’ve eaten ourselves out of the global food surpluses we had,” said Burnett.

Right now, poor moisture and low rainfall in the Kansas/Oklahoma winter wheat growing region are on the market radar, as Minneapolis wheat prices exploded to $25 a bushel. The price was $12 last fall.
“Those crops are just emerging. They need moisture to grow.”

Soil moisture in that region is low.

Watch for events changing soil moisture in northern India crops and for the potential of a second consecutive year of drought in Australia, Burnett said.

Crop failures, or a threat of failure in any wheat growing region from Russia and the Ukraine to Canada and the U.S., or successes, will drive prices up or down.

The U.S. will have to curb corn exports if it wants to maintain year end stocks, he said.
Yikes--I hated reading that. Latest Drought monitor link:


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

Good God!!!

The yield on a 3-month US tbill fell 90% today to just .18%

That's zero. Lower than Japan by far and absolute sure sign of a deflation hurricane coming straight at us.

Be afraid, folks. Be VERY afraid!

(but look quickly and not too closely) ;-)


Did you read Prof. Hamilton's piece from yesterday?


An interesting read and, it seems to me, a turn to a darker shade of gray from the good professor.

This link has a different figure.

The yield on the 3-month note fell to 1.85 percent from 1.91 percent as the discount rate dropped to 1.81 percent from 1.87 percent.

EDIT: I see your wink, now, George.

I don't think the data is correct. It looks like a software/logging glitch.


That's on an option. The 3 mo Yield, today, is 1.84% (still, Ungodly low.)


Good grief!
XBOX has a "First-person shooter" peak oil video game.

"Frontlines: Fuel of War is set in a dystopian 2024 in the midst of a global energy crisis"

"As the last oil fields start to go dry, the countries move to secure what resources are left, leading to several small outbreaks that turn quickly into full scale war."


I just saw a commercial about it on comedy central. It starts with a gas gauge going to empty.

I wonder if sales would double if the dystopian timeline was 2012?

It's been discussed here repeatedly, even before it was released.

The creators used Heinberg's and Klare's books as inspiration.

However, the game itself is reportedly just another first-person shooter. And some are complaining that it's teaching people that the solution to scarce resources is war.

I haven't played it myself yet, but I probably will eventually, if only because I love first person shooters.

Chile preparing for energy rationing: voltage reduced 10%
"The specter of energy shortages in Chile reared its head again this week, as the Ministry of Economy released a short-term plan to confront the country’s increasingly perilous energy scenario, particularly the prospect of electricity rationing, which the government last instituted in 1998. The order contains 30 points that intend to help Chile’s electricity providers to operate responsibly in the coming year."

Hello TODers,

Good global roundup on the food situation:

Feed The World? We Are Fighting a Losing Battle, UN Admits

...“This is the new face of hunger,” Sheeran said. “There is food on shelves but people are priced out of the market. There is vulnerability in urban areas we have not seen before. There are food riots in countries where we have not seen them before.”
What are the chances of getting this article published in Golf Magazine so Tiger Woods can lead the global charge in plowing golf courses for relocalized permaculture?

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

Why did the article on Iraq's oil not continue? My interest was piqued only to be left at the alter.

In any case, one article later down the list regarding the prospects of 4 dollar fuel caused a jarring moment of dejavu. During an 80's recession fuel prices spiked and independent truckers hit hard times with many going belly up. Now the same phenomenon is occuring. Hope for all of our sakes its a brief interlude until production rates increase. Or I suppose we will all have to bend to the will of post peak oil - the all too harsh descent into the globalized abyss.