DrumBeat: March 7, 2008

New 'super-spike' might mean $200 a barrel oil

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- With $100-a-barrel here for now, Goldman Sachs says $200 a barrel could be a reality in the not-too-distant future in the case of a "major disruption."

Goldman on Friday also boosted by $10 the low end of its 2008-2012 projected range for crude to $60 a barrel -- significantly lower than current prices, to be sure, but a possible mark for oil if "normalized" trends return to the marketplace.

...Goldman analysts Arjun Murti, Kevin Koh and Michele della Vigna said prices have advanced more quickly than Goldman had forecast back in 2005, when it predicted a range of $50 to $105 a barrel as part of its "super-spike" oil theory.

$100 oil hurts, just like a recession

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- All of those people that believe high oil prices will hurt the economy may be onto something.

Back in October, when oil prices were near $90 a barrel and the economy was still humming along economists said high oil prices shouldn't cut into economic growth - despite widespread public opinion to the contrary. The economy used oil more efficiently than it did in the 1970s, and spending on gas was just a small percent of people's budget, the experts said.

Fast forward to March and you've got a sputtering economy, and economists saying $105 oil deserves a big part of the blame.

U.S. missteps in Mideast weaken influence with OPEC

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. missteps in the Middle East have estranged Washington from some long-time allies in the region and made OPEC suppliers less inclined to rescue the top consumer from record oil prices that are battering an already-fragile American economy.

Tempers flared this week at the White House after OPEC rejected U.S. calls to boost production, helping to send oil to yet another record above $100 a barrel. OPEC officials blamed high oil prices -- which topped $106 on Friday -- on the mismanagement of the U.S. economy.

..."The White House's fundamental problem is they don't have credibility with the issues that are important to OPEC, so they're not inclined to give us a break on price," said David Goldwyn, an energy consultant.

"There's no motivation right now for them to help us out with more production," Goldwyn said.

Stagflation Redux

It may not seem as bad as in the 1970s. But that doesn't mean it won't be painful.

...In his smart new entry in the behavioral economics genre, Predictably Irrational, Dan Ariely writes about the importance of context: People routinely make business decisions and judgments by comparing them to recent events rather than the distant past. Your relative happiness with your salary and bonus doesn't rest on comparing it with what you made 10 years ago; it rests on comparing it with what you made last year, and with what the people sitting next to you are making this year. Yes, consumers today aren't being ravaged by inflation, high interest rates, and slow growth as they were in the late 1970s. But that's of little solace. Consumers compare their purchasing power and job prospects today with their purchasing power and job prospects of a year ago, or a few months ago. And that's why the sudden decline in growth late last year and the persistent rise in prices are a slap in the face. This case of stagflation may be mild by historical standards. But since we haven't experienced it in decades, our coping mechanisms are weak. That's why consumer confidence has fallen of a cliff in the last several months.

Raymond J. Learsy: Bush's Hypocrisy, OPEC's Arrogance, The Oil Mess We Are Living

The New York Times article informs us that we, and our dollar and primarily to blame for the current vertiginous oil prices. Why, in the past year alone "the dollar has lost 17 percent of its value against the euro." No mention, of course, that in January of 2007 the price of oil touched $50 a barrel, making the increase in price since some 110%, a long way from the 17% being trumpeted by the New York Times and OPEC flacks. By the way, if your doing your sums, a 17% increase compensating the fall of the dollars value on the January 2007 price would bring prices to $58 a barrel, not the $104/bbl we have today.

And then of course the Times goes on to applaud the Saudis for steadily producing 9.2 million barrels a day "day in and day out" to keep the market "well supplied." No investigative journalism here to determine what the Saudis could produce at full tilt. Most likely well in excess of 10 million barrels a day, and given what indeed we know about the modest estimation of their reserves (more than 260 billion barrels and probably closer to 700 billion barrels) could continue doing so for well over a hundred years.

Conflict between Ukrainian leaders over natural gas dispute with Russia deepens

KIEV, Ukraine: The conflict between Ukraine's leaders over a long-standing natural gas dispute with Russia deepened Friday, after President Viktor Yushchenko insisted that the country may continue to need intermediaries to buy natural gas from Russia.

Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has campaigned to get rid of the middlemen used to import gas from Russia, saying they are used to siphon money into private pockets.

Yushchenko has taken a more cautious position in gas negotiations with Russia, saying that being too demanding may result in a price hike for Ukraine.

Oil prices hit record high of $106.54 a barrel, fueling recession fears

NEW YORK - Oil prices jumped to a new record above $106 Friday but extended their recent pattern of choppy trading after a weak jobs report convinced many traders that the Federal Reserve's interest rate cutting campaign will continue.

..."The higher the market goes, the more volatile it becomes," said Darin Newsom, senior analyst at DTN in Omaha, Neb. "Does it mean that the rally is over? No."

...Light, sweet crude for April delivery fell 36 cents to $105.11 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after setting a new trading record of $106.54.

Hunt CEO: 'Higher Price Here to Stay...Market Will Sort Things Out'

Hunt Oil Co. chief executive Ray Hunt is an economist, not a geologist or an engineer, like so many of his peers.

So when he says of oil markets, "This higher price regime is here to stay," he talks about gross domestic product, not difficult drilling conditions or expensive oilfield equipment.

Mr. Hunt said in a speech Thursday to the Texas Energy Council that he's long predicted that higher oil prices would persist because people in developing countries are close to a tipping point in energy use.

With a small boost to the economy in, say, Vietnam or China, some people can buy their first cars or washing machines and begin using a lot more fuel, boosting global oil demand and prices. The same small economic gain in the U.S. wouldn't increase energy consumption so much, he said.

Asia fuel oil storage glut could trigger casualties

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore's fuel oil market, a major driver of world prices, is facing its biggest shake-up in more than a decade as a near doubling in storage capacity could lead to big players controlling more of the fragmented industry.

Morgan Stanley's deal last month to buy a stake in a bunker fuel firm may be the start of the trend; at the same time, companies such as ConocoPhillips and PetroChina are expanding their presence in the market for shipping and utility fuel.

Mexican Laws Put `Straitjacket' on Pemex, Chief Says

(Bloomberg) -- Mexican energy laws put a ``straitjacket'' on Petroleos Mexicanos, the state-owned oil company, and changes must be made before the company can successfully drill in deep water, said Chief Executive Officer Jesus Reyes Heroles in a radio interview.

Most of Mexico's prospective oil resources are located in Gulf of Mexico waters that are more than 1,000 meters deep (3,281 feet). The company known as Pemex doesn't have enough flexibility to operate in deepwater under laws that are the same for buying pencils or petrochemicals, Reyes Heroles said today in an interview with Grupo Imagen.

Mexico ruling party mulls separate energy bill

MEXICO CITY, March 6 (Reuters) - The ruling conservative party, which wants the Mexican state oil monopoly to partner with foreign companies to drill in the Gulf of Mexico, will submit such a proposal if it cannot agree with opposition parties on a joint energy bill, a senior lawmaker said on Thursday.

Saudi Aramco to Take 50% Stake in Sinopec's Qingdao Refinery

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia's state- owned oil company, will take a 50 percent stake in a 12.5 billion-yuan ($1.8 billion) oil refinery that China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. is building.

The refinery at Qingdao in Shandong province will start processing crude oil in early April, Zhou Yuan, the vice chairman of Sinopec, as China Petroleum is known, said in an interview in Beijing today. Sinopec will take the remaining 50 percent stake, according to Zhou.

What is driving Aluminium prices

Aluminium prices have surged almost 17% in the current month. During February, the domestic spot aluminium market made a monthly high of 123.2 per kg where as the LME spot and 3 month forward were trading at 3070 and 3106 USD per tonne respectively.

According to the International Aluminium Institute, global aluminium production in January 2008 decreased 2.3 percent to 3.23 billion tonnes from the record 3.308 billion level reached in December 2007. Production in China and Africa fell in January mainly due to severe winter weather in China and problems with cuts in power supplies affecting South African mines.

Eskom exported power during crisis: Electricity sold cheaply to neighbours while we suffered

Eskom increased exports to neighbouring countries in January, the month it shut down the local mining industry for five days and subjected cities to rolling blackouts that averaged more than three hours a day.

Statistics South Africa’s electricity data for January shows Eskom’s exports were nearly 13 percent higher than in January 2007.

Mines look set to receive 95 per cent power

South Africa plans to give its mines 95 per cent of their normal power capacity.

Mines are currently operating at 90 per cent since production had to be stopped for five days in January due to power shortages.

But Mining Minister Buyelwa Sonjica has said that mines will be allowed to increase their electricity consumption to 95 per cent.

Tajikistan: helping elderly people survive in the cold without heating

Even elderly people in Tajikistan cannot recall when the country experienced such a harsh winter. Temperatures this winter have fallen below minus 20 degrees Celsius, which is extremely unusual for the region. The effects of the cold wave were made worse by frequent power shortages. In some villages, people only have electricity one or two hours a day, and the power supply to the capital city Dushanbe is reduced to ten hours a day - five hours of electricity in the morning and five in the evening. This rationing is applied to all buildings – commercial, administrative and private homes.

Daylight saving time costs nation $1.7 billion

In making the case for expanding daylight saving time, Reps. Markey and Upton promised Americans it could reduce fossil-fuel consumption by the equivalent of 100,000 barrels of oil a day. It turns out, however, that the 100,000-barrel-a-day estimate was based on outdated data from 1974, when then-President Richard Nixon, in the midst of an energy crisis, ordered clocks moved ahead an hour in January. In fact, there is no reliable data supporting the premise that DST significantly reduces energy consumption. U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) officials admit ''the jury is still out on the potential national energy savings.''

As is so often the case, Washington adopted a political policy of shooting first and asking questions later, ordering DoE to submit a study to Congress, due on an unspecified future date, on whether DST actually saves energy. The study has not yet been done.

Hybrid tax credit shock

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- If you bought a hybrid vehicle last year, and you were counting on a tax credit, you may be in for a nasty surprise.

Global-Warming Payola?

All right, let’s talk about the money.

After I asked readers to focus on the substance of the skeptics’ arguments at this week’s conference on global warming, readers insisted that I should have focused on the financing of the sponsor, the Heartland Institute. Others objected to my (and my colleague Andy Revkin) even writing about a conference sponsored by this group. I’m used to this sort of criticism, but I still find it baffling. Do the critics really think there’s more money and glory to be won by doubting global warming than by going along with the majority?

Scraping the barrel

There are good reasons why the world should wean itself from oil - but the doomsday cult of peak oil isn't one of them.

The theory has been around for as long as people have been extracting oil. It has been getting its predictions of the end wrong, repeatedly, for just as long. It's hard to keep track, but the latest forecasts say we'll reach the peak as early as 2010. Kenneth Deffeyes, the Princeton professor who is a doyen of the movement, even says it happened in 2005.

The Fed fed oil inflation, not OPEC

Let us not be fooled by peak oil theorists and others who paint pictures of soaring demand and failing supply, as if the price of oil were actually being driven by strict market forces. There are, to be sure, real supply-demand issues in the energy market, including the growing influence of state oil companies and rogue governments over the supply of oil. But recent oil price moves, as with the last major oil crisis in the 1970s, are about supply and demand all right, but not for oil. It's the market price for the U.S. dollar.

Two Explanations for Surging Oil Prices

Here are two European insights on current developments in the price of oil. One is from Barclays and the other by Chris Skrebowski who maintains a list of global oil fields under development (megaprojects) and edits Petroleum Review. The reports are in close agreement.

The Elephant In The Room

It is obvious that something has massively increased the world's carrying capacity in the last 150 years. During the first 1800 years of the Common Era, like the tens of thousands of years before, the population rose very gradually as humanity spread across the globe. Around 1800 this began to change, and by 1900 the human population was rising dramatically:

That something is oil.

Local Solutions Needed In Response To Global Challenges

While discussion of the potential consequences and mitigation of climate change have finally gained traction in the public arena, the issue of peak oil remains relatively covert. Nevertheless a growing number of petroleum industry analysts, whose business is to track and predict global crude production, assert an undulating plateau of supply has been reached, with a permanent decline likely as soon as 2010. Significantly, the trajectory of natural gas production also seems to be at or near a similar downslope. As with climate change, we likely have entered a brief pause after which options will rapidly close down due to mounting shortages. $10 per gallon gas, anyone?

Carolyn Baker: Personal Survival In a World Gone Mad

The Path Through Infinity's Rainbow is a blending of reality and vision. While it's true that the first page of the introduction states that "...the patient effort of five hundred human generations and the struggles of ten momentous millennia are in the process of being obliterated forever, as though they never occurred," it is also true that the very first paragraph states:

This book is intended to empower you to navigate through the coming years of crisis, to survive and transform, and to participate in the creation of a new and sustainable political economy. It is a guide for thoughtful, knowledge-based action.

Peak Oil? Peak Soil!

What few people grasp is the connection between oil and the food supply. Put simply, the food and farm economies of industrialized countries run on the stuff. Oil and its derivatives are used to power farm equipment, to create synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, to run food processing equipment, and to transport food from field to fork, a journey of 1500 miles for the average forkful.

Should a Liberal Education Include an Agricultural Education?

Even if seeds survive climate change and mass extinction in a bomb-proof vault, will anyone remember how to cultivate them? It’s a safe bet that many Americans have never set foot on a working farm and have no clue how farmers coax the most common vegetables out of the ground. (I’m both amused and unnerved when my neighbors visit my garden, point to plain lettuce, and say, “What’s that?”)

Oil Analyst Says Renewables Get Competitive

Those who believe that oil is running out have a special scorn for prominent oil industry consultant and analyst Daniel Yergin, chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates. Yergin, who wrote The Prize, the Pulitzer Prize-winning book that stands as the definitive history of the oil industry, has often dismissed concerns that the world is at or near "peak oil," or the point at which petroleum production will begin an inexorable decline.

Norway oil, gas resources 13 bln cubic metres - NPD

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway's total recoverable oil and gas resources were 13 billion cubic metres of oil equivalents at the end of 2007, little changed from a year earlier, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) said on Friday.

The figure for the end of 2007 includes both produced and remaining resources, ranging from proven to projected finds of oil and gas.

Petrobras Unlikely to Raise Gasoline Price in 2008, Folha Says

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleo Brasileiro SA is unlikely to raise gasoline prices in 2008, Folha de S. Paulo reported, citing Chief Executive Officer Jose Sergio Gabrielli.

The Brazilian currency's appreciation against the dollar has helped offset an increase in oil prices in international markets, Gabrielli said, according to Folha.

Nigeria oil-delta rebel sees govt threat to peace

A powerful militia leader from Nigeria's oil-producing Niger Delta has accused the government of talking peace while provoking rebel commanders with army raids.

Ateke Tom's armed group is one of several in the anarchic delta that have fought with troops and attacked government targets. The crisis in the home of the world's eighth-biggest oil industry has reduced output and caused oil prices to spike.

Opponents cite rising cost for Duke Energy's nuclear project

Environmental groups say Duke Energy Corp.'s proposed nuclear plant in South Carolina could cost three times as much as the $5 billion to $6 billion the company has told the public.

As evidence, they cite a Florida utility's projection that its twin-reactor plant -- which would use the same type of nuclear reactors Duke proposes -- is expected to cost as much as $17.8 billion.

Life after the oil crash

The grab-your-gun-and-head-for-the-hills scenario goes something like this: In the next year or so, world oil production will peak and then promptly plummet, forced down by sinking reserves. While supply crashes, demand will grow. Virtually overnight, fuel will become so dear that farm tractors will go idle, people will go hungry and homes will go cold. Financial markets will collapse and social chaos will follow.

Are you ready?

The doomsday image may sound like the half-baked plot of a Schwarzenegger flick, but thousands of North Americans are taking it seriously enough to stock up on non-perishable food, recycle their own manure, build home gardens, bone up on canning techniques, even undergo "socially responsible vasectomies" to limit their energy reliance.

With all resistance removed, sky is now the limit for oil

There have been many firsts in the Bush Administration-led United States. And now the administration can add another, but it may not be one they'd like to brag about. In the industrial, modern and now postmodern eras, oil has never cost more than it has in 2008. Oil has no more resistance above it, psychologically or technically: as they say in the trading pits, from here on, the sky's the limit for oil.

Not a lot Bush can do on oil prices - White House

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - There is "not a lot" President George W. Bush can do in the near-term to tame record high oil prices after OPEC declined to boost output, the White House said on Thursday.

"We did try to encourage (an increase in OPEC output). But if OPEC has decided they are not going to increase output, there's not a lot that the president can do. We don't control their decisions," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

Analysis: IEA stirs old controversies

The Paris-based International Energy Agency recently awarded the United States high marks for its energy policy but warned stronger action is needed to mitigate climate change and decrease foreign oil imports.

Saudi oil minister says speculation driving prices

DUBAI (Reuters) - Speculation is driving triple-digit oil making it impossible for any organization to control price movement, Saudi Arabia's oil minister said in remarks published on Friday.

"Speculation in futures market is determining prices," Ali al-Naimi told Asharq al-Awast newspaper in Morocco. "Today there is no link between oil (market) fundamentals and prices."

"The duty of oil exporters is to make sure that fundamentals are healthy," said Naimi. "If these fundamentals were stable and fulfill market needs, then there is no need to raise or decrease production," he added.

Shell Says Canada Fuel Supply 'Tight' on Lower Runs

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe's largest oil company, said fuel supply in western Canada is "tight" because of lower output from refineries.

Shell cut crude processing at its Scotford refinery in Alberta because of reduced supply from a plant used to convert oil sands into crude. The drop will further trim fuel supplies in the region after "operating issues'" curbed output at Imperial Oil Ltd.'s Edmonton, Alberta, refinery.

Nigeria to Import Heavy Crude Oil From Venezuela, Punch Reports

(Bloomberg) -- Nigeria will import heavy crude from Venezuela for use in a state-run refinery, The Punch reported, citing Abubakar Yar'Adua, head of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp.

Nigeria, which pumps light crude, needs heavy crude for the production of lubricants and fuel oil at a refinery in the northern city of Kaduna, the Lagos-based newspaper said. The facility is due to restart next week after a recent upgrade.

Energy Among The Top Presidential Campaign Issues

With crude oil, gasoline, and home heating oil prices near all-time highs, energy security in the US is one of the most common themes among the presidential candidates. While Democratic and Republican candidates alike agree that energy security should be high on the next president's agenda, their plans for achieving that goal vary widely.

A combustible relationship: Russia and Ukraine strike a gas deal but tensions remain

Russia and Ukraine have resolved their latest gas dispute, which had seen Gazprom cut supplies to Ukraine by 50% and raised the spectre of disruptions in supply to EU states. Yet the latest short-term fix is unlikely to bring tensions to an end. The gas relationship is multifaceted, embracing Ukrainian gas imports from Russia and Central Asia; arrangements on the Ukrainian domestic market; the question of re-exports; the huge gas transit trade; and ownership of critical infrastructure. Until the two sides reach a mutually acceptable deal that covers all aspects, the stability craved by Ukraine, Russia and Gazprom’s European customers will remain elusive.

Nicaragua cuts ties with Colombia

Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega says he is breaking off diplomatic relations with Colombia.

The move comes amid a growing crisis over a Colombian raid into Ecuador to kill leftist Farc rebels.

Plutonium Shortage May Thwart Future NASA Missions to Outer Planets

WASHINGTON -- NASA is facing the prospect of having to explore deep space without the aid of the long-lasting nuclear batteries it has relied upon for decades to send spacecraft to destinations where sunlight is in short supply.

NASA Administrator Mike Griffin told a House Appropriations subcommittee March 5 that the U.S. inventory of plutonium-238 -- the radioactive material essential for building long-lasting batteries known to the experts as radioisotope power systems -- is running out quickly.

Global Wind Power Capacity Reaches 100,000 Megawatts

At its current growth rate, global installed wind power capacity will top 100,000 megawatts in March 2008. In 2007, wind power capacity increased by a record-breaking 20,000 megawatts, bringing the world total to 94,100 megawatts—enough to satisfy the residential electricity needs of 150 million people. Driven by concerns regarding climate change and energy security, one in every three countries now generates a portion of its electricity from wind, with 13 countries each exceeding 1,000 megawatts of installed wind electricity-generating capacity.

US Researchers Hope to Tap Ocean Flows for Electricity

Researchers in the United States are set to begin testing underwater turbine systems that can produce electricity from ocean water flows. The projects in Florida are the latest efforts to find alternative forms of energy to reduce the nation's dependence on oil and other fossil fuels.

Emission worry hits oil-sands plan

EDMONTON–A Federal Court decision has sent Imperial Oil's $7 billion Kearl oil-sands project in northern Alberta back to a review panel over greenhouse gas concerns.

Yesterday's ruling will force harmful emissions to be much more carefully considered in future assessments, says a lawyer who argued the case.

‘Environment going bust because of too many people’

KARACHI: Over population in developing countries and the mishandling of natural resources are the main causes for the rising environmental degradation and global climate changes, said national and international environmental experts.

“Managing the urban environment is a particularly serious issue for Asia, as its population is migrating to cities at an unprecedented rate,” said Dr Margherita Turvani, associate professor of the department of planning, University IUAV, Venice, Italy.

Outlook for Oceans Bleak as Sea 'Deserts' Grow

The region of the ocean known as "the desert of the sea" has expanded dramatically over the past decade, according to a new study. Scientists looking at the color of the ocean from space have found that vast areas that were once green with plankton have been turning blue, as marine life becomes scarcer. If it's linked to global warming, as they suspect, this could be another blow for the world's fisheries.

Lester Brown Puts Cost of Saving Planet at $190 Billion

LONDON - What would it cost to wipe out world poverty, guarantee universal health care, stabilise population growth and roll back the ravages of global warming?

About $190 billion a year, or the equivalent of a third of US annual military expenditure, a prominent environmental economist says in a new book.

"Once you accept that climate change, population growth, spreading water shortages, rising food prices etcetera are threats to our security, it changes your whole way of thinking about how you use public resources," Lester Brown told Reuters in an interview.

Global Warming Not Cooling Travellers' Wanderlust

BERLIN - Global warming's threat to the existence of the exotic resorts and beaches tourists crave has not dented holidaymakers' appetites for pollution-producing, long-haul trips, experts said at Berlin's annual tourism fair.

Warnings over future food crisis

A world food crisis can be expected in the coming decades as our demand for food outstrips our ability to produce it, a UK government adviser has warned.

New chief science adviser, Professor John Beddington, said the crisis could be as serious as climate change and may hit sooner.

Sewage-based fertilizer safety doubted

AUGUSTA, Ga. - It was a farm idea with a big payoff and supposedly no downside: ridding lakes and rivers of raw sewage and industrial pollution by converting it all into a free, nutrient-rich fertilizer. Then last week, a federal judge ordered the Agriculture Department to compensate a farmer whose land was poisoned by sludge from the waste treatment plant here. His cows had died by the hundreds.

The Associated Press also has learned that some of the same contaminants showed up in milk that regulators allowed a neighboring dairy farmer to market, even after some officials said they were warned about it.

Rush for biofuels threatens starvation on a global scale

The rush towards biofuels is theatening world food production and the lives of billions of people, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser said yesterday.

Professor John Beddington put himself at odds with ministers who have committed Britain to large increases in the use of biofuels over the coming decades. In his first important public speech since he was appointed, he described the potential impacts of food shortages as the “elephant in the room” and a problem which rivalled that of climate change.

Churches go 'green' for Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday is going "green."

This year, more than 2,130 congregations across the USA, including Catholics, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists and Presbyterians, will use "eco-palms" that are harvested in a more environmentally friendly way, says Dean Current, program director at the Center for Integrated Natural Resources and Agricultural Management at the University of Minnesota.

EU warned of climate-induced polar security threat

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union leaders will receive a stark warning next week of potential conflict with Russia over energy resources at the North Pole as global warning melts the ice cap and aggravates international security threats.

A report to the leaders by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and the executive European Commission describes climate change as "a threat multiplier," which will exacerbate many existing tensions and heighten instability.

"A further dimension of competition for energy resources lies in potential conflict over resources in Polar regions which will become exploitable as a consequence of global warming," the eight-page report obtained by Reuters said.

Anyone remember that Indonesian mud volcano that started flowing in May 2006, after drilling for gas? I was curious so went to look for it. It is still gushing, actually continuing to force people to move.


Video : http://www.findinternettv.com/Video,item,494817592.aspx

thx Paul for this reminder. I did not read the entire text.
Where do all those volumes (180000 m3/d or some 1,3 mb/d) come from ? I mean water is uncompressable so I must "stream" from somewhere!

the compressibility of water is on the order of 4 x 10^-6 vol/vol/psi. the pore volume it occupies has a similar compressibility. that is the basis for a water driven oil reservoir.

that doesn't explain 1.3 million bpd though.

They drilled down through mudstone and hit hot, pressurized water. I thought the flow was 660kbbl/day of mud, not 1.3mbbl.

Ground is subsiding

If you were a Middle East or Far East airline executive, and needed additional aircraft would you buy 777-787 in dollars or air bus in euros?

AirBus still sales it's planes in Dollars

Exactly: And would that be because the dollar is under valued vs the euro?

Well, the Fed could throw a curve by increasing rates .25% at their next meeting and whipsaw all the dollar shorts. We might see some on Wall St sky diving without parachutes. Rerun of 1929. :)

In reality it's hideously complicated.

So the planes are priced in dollars, but built on a cost basis of Euros and dollars. The parts are made around the world (some in the US).

There are hedges being made on both sides for currency fluctuations, and contracts are quietly renegotiated or sweetened or allowed to expire. The contracts are made sometimes years before delivery, and on delivery the machines sometimes are slightly different, for example the A380 weighs 5 metric tons too much in this block, but allegedly meets other standards, so there are adjustments made for lateness and weight which might mask some currency turbulence.

All the while the original contract value to Airbus is flying all over the place, comparatively (sic).

So this is much more than your usual buy oil / sell oil in Euros or dollars. It has time, space, multiple transaction interfaces and hedges. It's weird.

But generally ET is correct (below) for simpler products and commodities.


Wouldn't matter what currency the transaction was in. Dollars and Euros are easily interchangeable. What matters is what currency is held as a store of value (reserve) by the various parties.

This argument about currency denomination has gone around a zillion times. My contention has been, and is being born out by events, that the drop of the dollar will be the cause and not the effect of people abandoning the dollar. In the past few years the dollar has tumbled in a big way and, yet, is still the major reserve currency in the world. Seems we may reach a tipping point soon.

I live in San diego. Yesterday I went to an opening for a new business park in Oceanside hosted by the chamber of commerce. The event was packed with vendors and small business owners looking to ratchet up new business. When I began to look at the businesses that were there I saw service busineses in overwhelming supply, banking interests, web site designers etc., but of the hundreds of enterprises not one manufactured anything.

Are we approaching a zero sum economy?

Chicken and egg. Regardless of how easy it supposedly is to exchange currencies, the relative values of currencies do change over time, and with some visible relationship to relevant events, e.g., interest rates in certain countries, or trade deficits. I think this shows that there is a "supply and demand" issue affecting currency exchanges, i.e., exchange is not infinitely easy. It follows that people will have preference as to what currency they want to be paid in, and that preference will have an effect on the relative values of currencies, and so on around the loop.

To 0th order it doesn't matter what currency it being used. But if there are time delayed aspects in the contract (say maintainance contracts or penalties for underperformance) then the supplier incurs some currency risk if the contract was negotiated in other than its native currency. If say Airbus
had contracted to deliver a plane a year ago for $100M, and deliver it today, they only get $100M. If their costs were in Euros and were not hedged, they could easily go from profit to loss on the deal.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - There is "not a lot" President George W. Bush can do in the near-term to tame record high oil prices after OPEC declined to boost output, the White House said on Thursday.

Sure there is. He can use the political capital he will build in the Middle East and jawbone Saudia Arabia to open the taps.

Perhaps over a beer with the Prince at the Bin Laden household.

"We did try to encourage (an increase in OPEC output).

GREAT! Then shut down TOD - $10 a barrel here we come!

With a goodly speekn guy like George - the oil will flow like manna!

You got to love these quotes.
"not a lot" i.e. absolutely nothing.
"in the near-term" i.e. never ever.

Edit: Now I think about it, couldn't he order the Fed to stop creating money out of thin air, thereby (partly) halting the oil price increase which is caused by the continued devaluation of the US Dollar?

When us Dirty Fckin' Hippies said that the Invasion of Iraq was the Greatest Strategic Mistake in US History,

this is part of what we meant.

100 000 US job loss in a month was another.


"The "striking" discrepancy between Mozilo's compensation and Countrywide's performance likely will be choice report fodder for Waxman at the hearing. The report says "Mozilo stands out as the only CEO who sold large numbers of shares in his company" while the company itself was buying back stock.

The report also quoted from an October 2006 e-mail message Mozilo sent to Countrywide's compensation consultant that slammed board members who have been "under enormous pressure by the left wing antibusiness press and the envious leaders of unions" to limit compensation for top executives.

In the e-mail, Mozilo argued that "a decade from now there will be a recognition that entrepreneurship has been driven out of the public (company) sector resulting in underperforming companies."


Proud Founding Member of the Left Wing Anti Business Association.


Depression? Depression? 100,000 jobs lost a month? that ain't no stinking Depression! You want to see a Depression? Think 1,000,000 jobs lost a month.

Now, now, all you left wing nuts run along. Go back to smoking all that dope weed or drinking your brains to mush with that Red Mountain Simulated Vino. Lots of good, hard working folks still have jobs. They can get maybe $10 per hour for their time (around here), although they might not have health insurance. Countrywide (and friends) are auctioning off 575 houses this weekend in VA, after doing the same for 1,000 in CA a couple of weeks ago.

There ain't no Depression...yet. Maybe next month.

E. Swanson

Lots of uncoupling going on...and lots of finageling with numbers by many government agencies. At link below Mish takes a look at some 644,000 'unworkers'...link to charts/graphs.


From the BLS: "Both the civilian labor force, at 153.4 million, and the labor force participation rate, at 65.9 percent, declined in February." Here is the same sentence in plain English. "The unemployment rate dropped because we stopped counting everyone who is unemployed."
Expect to see more of this kind of nonsense from the BLS and you will not be disappointed. Here is the picture in graphical form.
The "Unlabor" Force

click on chart for sharper image
The above chart shows the "unlabor" force to have risen by 644,000 "unworkers".

Birth Death Numbers Back In Outer Space

Last month there was a massive revision to the Birth/Death Model. Please see Jobs Contract as 2007 Job Growth Revised Away for more details.

Another quotation by Automatic Earth is "All the lights are flashing red".

Market turbulence and rising oil prices are doing a number on the US dollar. However, not all countries are looking to give Bernanke free reign with devaluation (if that is his intent).

So as to sure up Canada's sagging manufacturing sector, Canada's central bank governor, Mark Carney, cuts 50 basis points on March 5th.

Gordon Nixon, the chairman of the Royal Bank of Canada is predicting a 90 cent Canadian dollar (vis-a-vis the greenback) twelve months out.

My question is this, and perhaps I'm being naïve here, does this policy make any sense? The high Canadian/US dollar ratio hurts Canadians exports to the US, yes. Yet also true is that energy is a fixed cost in manufacturing. Wouldn't it be wiser to lower energy costs in Canada (since a higher dollar translates into lower fuel prices) than trying to make goods and services competitive by currency devaluation?

Any armchair economists out there who would like to clear this for me? I would really like to know.

Annul the NAFTA would be the first step for
a better Canada.

Do away with NAFTA. Not likely. Although there was a glimmer of hope offered by Obama last week. He may yet have to live up to his campaign promise to Ohio.

What? He's already told the Canadian gov't, he's just kidding! Damn!!

If NAFTA is 'reopened' the 'must sell hydrocabons at price/volume' parts strike me as ALSO up for re-negoiation.

Its been called a sweet deal for the US of A.

Combine that with a US in recession and the Dollar weakinging - how is the US of A bargining from a position of strength?

NAFTA is a popular target for protectionist sentiment in the US. Yet NAFTA is in America's economic interest to uphold.

Why is NAFTA under the microscope? B/c of US trade woes. These trade woes have little to do with Canada or Mexico. The trade problem lies with China.

All that said, if Canada begins to experience fuel shortages, the negative consequences of the proportionality clause of the agreement will quickly hit home to the political classes north of the US border. This is a sleeper in Canadian politics.

Eric, you're bang on. The US would be wise to keep very quiet about NAFTA. With the economy tanking and the dollar sliding, it is one hornet's nest the US need not disturb.

Z the P, if you're still there.

Exactly. Which s why I brought NAFTA up.

Achilles Heel and all.

And which is why you've seen Obama's "Inevitable Path to Glory"
all of a sudden shut down.

Along with Obama talking about invading Offshore Tax Havens,
the kiss of death.

Yes, still here.

NAFTA. "Achilles Heel and all". "The kiss of death."

Good description. Thank you.

Lower energy costs in Canada? How?

Canada imports 40% of its oil. Oil is bought and sold in $US.

I have made an observation (and if I'm mistaken, please point out the fault in my logic). Although the price of gasoline has risen in Canada, it tends to be mitigated by the strength of the dollar.

I remember in 2003 when the Loonie was 63 cents to the Greenback, gasoline was running between $.50 - $.60/litre at the pumps. Today, in Nova Scotia, it is running at $1.15/litre. The price of oil/barrel has tripled since 2003. The Canadian price at the pump has doubled and then some, but did not rise to the same degree as oil prices on the international market.

I am drawing a correlation between the international price, the strength of the Canadian dollar, and what appears to be the domestic price.

Is this a fair correlation to draw? Is this a fair observation to make? Or am I missing something?

Lower energy costs in Canada? How?

Forgive me, for this is another one of my off-side remarks, but I'm convinced the only way we can do this on an individual and corporate level is through equipment upgrades and better management, and the latter can be achieved very inexpensively. Some industrial and many more commercial customers have shockingly poor load factors and something as simple as staging equipment upon start-up and cycling chillers so they don't all run at the same time can cut operating costs by tens of thousands of dollars.

Motor upgrades are one area we need to focus our attention. Electrical motors account for roughly 70 per cent of Ontario's industrial demand and even a modest three to four per cent improvement in efficiency (i.e., by replacing older motors with new "ultra efficient" designs and by proper sizing) can trim annual demand by a TWh or more -- enough to meet the needs of over 100,000 homes.

My primary focus is commercial and industrial lighting and the projects I've been involved on typically generate internal rates of return in the high 30s and up. On one such project we replaced some five hundred 400-watt metal halide fixtures (460-watts including ballast losses) that operated 24x7 -- 227 kW x 8,760 = 1,988,520 kWh/year. Their T5 replacements consume 217-watts, so the annual savings for this particular customer are just over 1 million kWh/year. But this happened to be a cold storage facility so every watt we saved in lighting saved an additional watt in cooling (at these temperatures the ratio is almost one-to-one), so the actual savings came in at double this amount. As I recall, the payback for this client was just nine months.

I know efficiency won't solve all our problems and many factors will remain beyond our control, but that doesn't negate the fact that we can use energy far more wisely and thereby obtain at least some measure of control over its cost.


We're at 16% Unemployment.
You have no idea WTF is going on out there.

Right now 3 people (JUST THREE) CEOs made $460 million - House panel - [2008-03-06].

Every bond market except US Treas is frozen.

Birmingham is looking for a BILLION to bail out it's munis.

The only reason our banks are functioning is because China, the EU,
India and Japan want them to.

India has told it's workers in Bahrain to convert paychecks to gold.

Depression is here.

And the longer RBOB stays down while crude explodes the worse
the blowback's gonna be.

Dirty Fckin Hippies have been right since Reagan declared bankruptcy
in 1985.

Please reply to this. Please.

WTF is going on out there? Good question, mcgowanmc.

Nobody is saying, particularly in the fantasy world of infotainment.

MSM would have us know that the Pope is a closet Red Sox fan and Britney Spears is earning raves as a dance teacher. Then there is the twiddle-dee/twiddle-dum escapades of the US election campaign.

I suspect that when the average American awakes to the fact the "party is over", the hangover brawl over the last aspirin will not be pretty.

Okay, I'll take the bait. I think that we have crossed the million job loss threshhold laid down above. It's just that those million workers were undocumented home builders from Mexico, who don't show up anywhere in official statistics other than the decline in remittances from the US to Mexico.
I walk around the aisles of Lowe's on the weekends, and there are more clerks than customers.

You got one part wrong. Dirty !@$^% hippies have had it right since 1966.

My wife is a manager at Macy's department store in Escondido CA. She took the position part time (32 hours) which allows them to not cover her with unemployment or health insurance. This has made her position more immune to downsizing than many of her former superiors. Since she took the position 9 months ago she has seen the company terminate most of the middle managers. They do have the option to rehire into their former jobs.

The shoppers now come only when the prices are drastically marked down. Macy's has eliminated regional centers and divided the state of CA in half, north and south, in order to eliminate overhead. TMacy's also own huge shopping spaces in shopping centers that they are now hemoraging money in losses. The few times I've been to the mall it looks like a graveyard. People aren't buying!

Look to retail giants to lurch into insolvency...

One of my customers does support work for many mortgage and financial institutions. All projects now halted. Monday I meet with a guy who thinks he'll do a public offering of a company based on a product for the hospitality market. I've been telling him they're dead men walking and by next Monday the news may be such that he'll believe me and start taking other actions.

On the happy, happy, joy, joy front if you talk about two hundred plus jobs in a renewable energy project coming to a town of less than a thousand everyone wants to reserve a seat at the presentation.

There will be a renewables boom, I'm standing at ground zero for it, and I hope when the music stops we've accumulated enough here to be "self hosting" - lights, heat, food, and fuel all being produced within the state borders and preferably using parts made here to do the job. I think we can get it all except for the semiconductor portion ... but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it ... assuming its still structurally safe :-(

Now I think about it, couldn't he order the Fed to stop creating money out of thin air, thereby (partly) halting the oil price increase which is caused by the continued devaluation of the US Dollar?

Of course not! This sort of thing would plunge the U.S. into a full-blown recession (perhaps depression) as the true cost of our lifestyle emerges. What lame duck in his right mind would want to be saddled with that in the history books? The chickens are coming home to roost, but mainstream America is stubbornly slow on the uptake.

Like in "the future is here, it's just not widely distributed yet"?

Like in "the future is here, it's just not widely distributed yet"?

Yeah, kinda like that. Remember, the time to panic is before everyone else does.

I read the article about global wind capacity and these quotes jumped out at me:

Texas is now planning the development of 23,000 megawatts of wind power capacity, enough to satisfy over half the residential electricity demand in the state.

At the national level, wind farm proposals exceed an astounding 100,000 megawatts, roughly six times the current installed capacity.

Can anyone verify if this true? These numbers seem remarkably high.

Remarkably, they actually seem to be dealing with the figures in a proper and responsible manner at that site, they said:

For the third consecutive year, the United States led the world in new installations, with its 5,240 megawatts accounting for one-quarter of global installations in 2007. Installations in the fourth quarter of 2007 alone exceeded the figure for all of 2006, and the United States is on track to overtake Germany as the leader in installed wind power by the end of 2009. Wind farms are now found in 34 states and total 16,800 megawatts. The electrical output from these farms is equivalent to that from 16 coal-fired power plants and is enough to power 4.5 million U.S. homes.

Now the remarkable thing about this is that they give an installed capacity of 16,800mW and say that is enough for 4.5 million homes, which does allow for capacity factors - ie it is not windy all the time.

All the journo's in the press, even the so called quality papers, would think that that was enough for 16million homes or so, and would so misrepresent it.

I was thinking it was a conspiracy, but perhaps they really are that ill-informed and stupid.

I am not sure that that makes me feel better or worse.

It certainly does not bode well for the chances of the public making informed decisions on energy matters.

So the short answer is yes, I would give a high degree of confidence to the data given by this site, but do bear in mind that there are many proposals for all sort of generating stations to be built, but most of them never are.

AWEA gives 3626.38MW of projects underway in the US, a slight increase from the figure I saw when debating wind a month ago: Wind power in the US stalled? Will be interesting to see how that plays out over the year.

Providing baseload: The power of multiples: Connecting wind farms can make a more reliable and cheaper power source It'd be nice to have a detailed story on this - how much overbuild will be required to overcome the intermittency, with analysis for various regions.

Here you go:

If you go to page 20 you will find links to detailed case studies.

Thank ye sir!

I've just dug out from my hard drive another European study, which is fairly comprehensive:


That is a good report! In it, there is this comment:

With backing from industry and government, new efforts
to seriously explore ambitious long-term targets for wind power
commenced in 2006: a joint DOE-AWEA report that explores the
possible costs, benefits, challenges, and policy needs of meeting
20% of the nation’s electricity supply with wind power is planned
for completion in 2007.

Was such a report ever completed? Is it available on the internet?

I think they might be talking about this one, Gail:

This 2005 one is good too:

Do I get the job as librarian? ;-)

Gail, perhaps I should mention that the DOE no longer exists in the UK, so any report would not bear it's name.

Is the information I gave you what you wanted?

If it is not I will dive back into the Government websites and try to track it down for you.

Dave - those are fine. I didn't stop to think it wasn't the US DOE, which of course does exist.

Sorry to be so slow to respond.


Sorry Gail - my bad - I thought you were talking about the European reference I gave, when of course you were talking about the US one - I'll try to dig something up for you.

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Construction on the biggest U.S. transmission project largely for wind energy has begun, utility Southern California Edison said on Friday.

The Tehachapi Renewal Transmission Project aims to take wind power produced in a remote area called Tehachapi in Southern California to power customers all over the state through the state power grid.

If the full project is finished by 2013 as planned, it will be capable of carrying 4,500 megawatts of electricity, much of it from turbines in the windy Tehachapi area of northern Los Angeles County and eastern Kern County.

That is enough power to serve about 3 million California homes, said Southern California Edison, a subsidiary of Edison International.

The Tehachapi windmills have been there forever. Did they finally decide to connect them to the grid?

Much of Tehachapi is 40kw turbines built when I was in grade school. They'll take out a couple dozen of those and put in a single modern turbine in the 3.0mw range. The modern utility scale turbine with a hub height of 80M will yield more energy due to increased diameter and height, and it will produce more regularly due to the increased height. They'll dramatically reduce the total windmill count but there will be a significant increase in power available.

I've driven through the Tehachapi pass a few times. Its pretty rugged desert mountain topography, the windmills are mostly atop ridges. The extra height of the modern turbines probably won't make a lot of difference.

Airflow within 30m of the ground is Brownian, above that level it moves in "parcels" - think of them as force fields around "balls" of air of varying sizes. The turbulent nature of the terrain makes the Brownian motion more likely higher than 30m. Getting up out of that scrub and into clear air will reduce O&M cost on the turbines by reducing gearbox wear and the yield will certainly be higher.

At least thus speaks my wind turbine placement class book ...

Back to the usual crappy journo inability to tell the difference between installed capacity and actual output after the excellent article from the earth Policy institute Leanan linked to.

4,500 MW of installed capacity will on average power c.1.5 million homes, not 3 million as stated.

From the Globe and Mail LATOC story:

On his website, PaulChefurka.ca, he encourages readers to eat lower on the food chain, retrofit their homes and "consider not having children." Mr. Chefurka himself has had a "socially responsible vasectomy."

Now that takes balls!

What an odd gesture. The zero population growth aspect I see, but I believe there are other ways of attaining the same end. Is he trying to reduce NG consumption by not using condoms?

Paul Chefurka's site.

he must have missed the abstinence only part of his christian public school education.

the most 'green' thing any of us can do is not have a child.

Agreed. I already had 2 when I found out about PO 3 years ago. Well, my wife was pregnant of the 2nd. Never intended to have more kids. So have tried to send them back where they came from, but the wife objected. I offered them to some gypsies, but they wanted money to come with them, which I don't have. So now I'm very much enjoying them.

Unless your child turns out to be Al Gore. :-)

Or any of the Neocons, unless you consider comitting genocide green.

Moderation in all things.

There are simply an immense number of things we need to be doing, and I seriously doubt that any one of them tops the heap for all of us.

Somewhere in the Top 5 list should be "live the life you have before you die."

"Everything in excess! To enjoy the flavor of life, take big bites! Moderation is for monks." -- Lazarus Long (Robert Heinlein)

L. Long existed in a universe with cheap enough energy to fling starships around.

That is not the universe most TOD posters exist in.

How else should we enjoy the flavors of existence during our limited time on this planet? Getting more limited by the moment, too.

Should we move forward as the rational and scientists have always done, to suitably predictable results? "Well, our research and data seem to indicate there's a problem." "Yes, well, that's very interesting, now go back and play with your gadgets some more."

Or is it time to grab life by the horns and say, "Hey! All you clueless politicians, ignorant soccer moms, and all you yuppie corksuckers, pay the fsck attention! You are destroying the planet, and the future for my children!"

There are many ways to take big bites.

"This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time."
-- Fight Club

I love Heinlein. I couldn't naysay an RAH quote..

Of course the adage about Moderation is always followed by someone also saying '.. including Moderation!'

It sounds like you get this, but I'll say it in other terms.. 'Gluttony is not the same thing as Living a Big Life.'

Putting down the laptop, shutting off another scintillating Drumbeat, and playing 'Kittys' with Lorelei is part of a big life that I never would have known to have if my wife hadn't shown up to drag me out of my extended bachelorhood.


"People think you put honest numbers into a computer and you'll get honest numbers out. I did too, until I met a computer with a sense of humor." - Manuel, "Moon is a Harsh Mistress"- Heinlein, 1966?

Its like the guy that goes to Mardi Gras and drinks one beer.

Paul posts here often. You know him as "GliderGuider."

If you're sure you never want children, surgical sterilization is a very good option. My father had it done, and has never regretted it. My mom was tired of being the one always responsible for birth control. She didn't like taking the pill, and other methods are not very convenient.

Some peak oilers also worry that artificial birth control will become expensive or difficult to get in the post-carbon age.

3 CEOs made $460 million in 2007 - House panel - [2008-03-06]

These 3 would be on the other side of the Universe from
even thinking like GLiderGuider.

Damn pseudonyms!

What, we will reach peak linen? More forgotten tech.

From the BBC: Quiz: Do you know your condoms?

Fixed your bad link.

Surely you understand that surgical sterilization has advantages over condoms, let alone linen ones? Heck, it's usually the guys who complain they don't want to wear a raincoat.

The experience of wearing a raincoat is not unlike sleeping with an empty bottle of bleach. Which is why we don't like to wear them. :)

FWIW, this seems to be a cultural thing. American men hate condoms. But in Japan, where condom usage was widespread even before AIDS, men say they can't even tell the difference.

Or perhaps it just doesn't speak very highly for the quality of Japanese sex life....

Or American condoms...?

Though Dr. Ruth says if you put it on him in the dark, he won't even know until it's too late. :)

I think it could have more to do with Japanese men risking losing face if they admit the condom's sensation is inferior, or that disease and pregnancy prevention are unnecessary.

The best sex I ever had with a condom was similar to the best visit I ever had with a girlfriend's parents. In both cases I would still rather not repeat the experience.

I had a socially responsible snip 12 years ago.

"sleeping with an empty bottle of bleach."

Wow!! What did you do that for? No Liquid Plumber?

Birth control is becoming more expensive

The fertility awareness method is becoming increasingly popular but you have to really know what you're doing and be diligent or it's not very effective.

Female sterilization is the most commonly used birth control in the world, but there's an increased risk of tubal pregnancy which can kill you if your tube ruptures and you don't get to the hospital quickly enough.

Birth Control is free,,,,ask any guy....but seriously folks, the only Foreign Aid ever sent from this country, should be Birth Control.

The World turns, with or without U.S.


I've had it done a couple years ago and it's no big deal, and have had no problems. I was also the one who took care of birth control before getting snipped, so it meant one less thing for me to worry about! Have your one or two kids and then snip snip.

It can be very difficult to obtain a tubal ligation if you are unwed, no kids. I did it in 1981 by going to a Catholic surgeon and threatening to have an abortion if I ever became pregnant! Laproscopic tubals were available then, but I would be inclined to say that nowhere near enough folks took advantage of the availability.

If you know you never want children, it's the only reasonable thing to do. I actually had it done for that reason, the explicit idea of it being good for the planet came along later.

Interestingly enough, my branch of the family is fading away as a result of multiple decisions against child-bearing. My parents had three children, and they ended up with only two grandchildren, neither of whom is intending to reproduce.

I can't think of a resource conservation measure with higher payback.

I'm also sterilized and haven't reproduced. I'd heard that it would be difficult to find a doctor to do the surgery for a single woman under 30 who didn't have kids, but my doc was very agreeable.

A friend of mine had her tubes tied when she was in her twenties, and she had to look around awhile to find a doctor who would do it.

She woke up from the surgery to hear the nurses discussing how "selfish" she was for not having kids. If she hadn't been in so much pain and so groggy from the anesthesia, I think she'd have jumped off the table and punched them.

I know a woman who had a tubal ligation in her very early thirties as well, healthy, unmarried and childless. It was a struggle, but on the fifth try she finally found a (woman) doctor who agreed that perhaps she had a right to make her own reproductive decisions.

I had a vasectomy in 1975 after four kids, all boys. My three surviving sons have all had vasectomys. The first two after two children and the third, after a divorce, with no children. My oldest son got a divorce and remarried. His wife wanted children so he got it reversed and has two more children. His wife has since gotten an abortion. He refuses to get another vasectomy because he doesn't want anyone cutting on him "down there" anymore.

Ron Patterson

When my wife and I realized we would never want to have children, I got a vasectomy. Doc up here does an assembly-line thing. It took 8 minutes start to finish, I drove myself home, and it was less than 2 days of any discomfort.

It was much safer and less invasive than her getting a tubal.

My brother has 4 kids, though, he's making up for me.

The whole point of living sustainably is to have a future, and if you die without descendants, you have no future, but are living only for the moment of your own existence. I should be grateful to some of you for making more room for my grandchild, but I worry when I see who is reproducing and who is not in my community. For a different point of view, some of you ought to go to the video store and check out "Idiocracy."

I respect others choices, but some of the commentary here does sound remarkably like depression and a death wish.

I may be 57 but I hope I am a little younger than that - I feel as though I ought to treat the old folks gently, they are not long for this world! ;-)

Considering there is considerable commentary here about survivalism, some of the basics of survival seem in remarkably poor repute.

Considering there is so much angst about nuclear waste being dangerous for a long time, it seems that many do not intend to have descendants to worry much about it.

Sometimes I have quite a lot of sympathy for the Catholic position - it feels healthier.

There's no shortage of babies in the world and many if them are born into poverty. I hope to adopt if I'm ever in a position to do so; take care of the ones who are already here. There is nothing special about my genes, which are well-represented in the pool anyway. I have seven nieces and nephews.

My thoughts exactly and someone needs to write the Check other than parents every once in awhile.


If green-minded, PO-aware people don't have children, presumably most children will be born into non-green-minded, non-PO-aware households and grow up against a background of unproductive anger about the loss of our oil-fired "wealth" instead of growing up in an environment that embraces sustainability.

Heck, NASCAR fans might decide that having 10 to 14 kids was a good idea, so the family can push the car round the oval faster...

Anyway, it's not necessary to have no kids to tackle overpopulation.

If every woman in successive generations had one child in her lifetime, the human race would cease to exist in three or four generations. If no woman ever had more than two children, the human race would still cease to exist quite quickly unless you had a perfect balance of males and females down the line and no accidents, illness, infertility or whatever.

The one thing a world made by hand (copyright J. Kunstler 2008) will need is good hands.

Having said that, had I not already had children, I would be very hesitant about bringing a child (or two) into the coming mess.

I'm not too worried about the Marching Morons. People have raised that fear for decades, with little evidence to support it.

In any case, choosing not to have children is not the same thing as not having a stake in the future. You can get one from the pound instead (adopt). You can help children in other ways (be a teacher, a Big Brother/Big Sister, etc.). And you can support the children of your friends and relatives.

I'm not too worried about the Marching Morons. People have raised that fear for decades, with little evidence to support it.

It is nothing but emotional hyperbole to characterize it as "Marching Morons." The fact is, if people in a given population with lower intelligence have more children than those with higher intelligence, then the average intelligence of that given population will decline.

Intelligence in Homo sapiens evolved via natural selection. That is, in our deep hunter-gatherer past, those with higher intelligence had a higher survival and reproductive rate than those with lower intelligence. And over five million years we evolved from the average intelligence of our great ape ancestors to where we are today. Were it not so then we would still be no smarter than our great ape ancestors.

But in times of plenty where almost everyone survives regardless, then natural selection loosens its grip. Therefore, in times of plenty, it is quite possible for the general intelligence of a given population to decline. And in my above example, that is exactly what will happen.

Ron Patterson

Actually it is unclear what the respective influences of environment and ancestry are.

We have also in the West increased our scores in IQ tests substantially since around 1900.

If your supposition of reduced evolutionary pressures were correct, why should this be?

Evolution has not stopped with the advent of civilisation, it seems indeed to have speeded up -less robust chins, due perhaps to more processed food, and this in the brief period of time since the Middle ages, greater resistance to disease once we lived at higher density since the first cities, and many other changes I believe.

We are not entirely clear what intelligence is, and indeed it might be argued that a decision to breed is the final arbiter of evolutionary intelligence.

That is a bit too simple, a bit too 19th century Darwinist, Ron! ;-)

Dave, natural selection is the process via which plants and animals change over time. That is, those who have characteristics that enable them to have a higher survival and reproductive rate will do just that. That is all there is to it, nothing more. If there are changes in any human characteristic that cannot be accounted for via natural selection, then it must be caused by environmental pressures. If apparent changes cannot be accounted for by survival and reproductive pressures, (natural selection) then they are caused by the environment. The environment cannot change your DNA therefore these apparent changes will not be passed on in the genes.

Environmental pressures are often so great that the effects often cover, or are mistaken for, evolutionary changes. For instance, North Korean people are far shorter, on average, than their South Korean neighbors. Poor nutrition is the obvious cause. Likewise IQ tests in the past century probably had a lot to do with better nutrition. Also a more varied and rich environment probably had a lot to do with higher scores, though this would not have affected actual IQ. No one is claiming that environment is not very important but the environment cannot change you DNA. (Other than it effect upon survival and reproductive rate of course.)

19th century Darwinism had it exactly right. Neo-Darwinism is an explanation, at the genetic level, of how 19th century Darwinism worked.

We may not know exactly what intelligence is but that does not mean that it cannot be recognized and measured.

Ron Patterson

So how come IQ has risen since 1900, when we are according to your argument not being weeded out very effectively?

Dave, read my above post. I just explained it. What you get from your DNA is just the set point. That is, it can be either improved upon or degraded by your environment. Thomas Jefferson once, while in France, argued that Americans were better off than Europeans, (of that day of course), because he said: "All the tallest people in this room are Americans." That is exactly what is happening in North Korea, except the opposite.

In the past century, in developed countries, people have received far better nutrition. They were far better able to develop their natural born abilities. And, their more enlightened environment likely had no small part in it. Understand though, changes brought about by the environment are not heritable.

Ron Patterson

'There are more things in Heaven and Earth...'

Recent research has implied that the environment can have an effect on shaping the epigenome. This in turn will affect the way our genes are expressed. If this epigenetic change occurs in the germ line, the environmental effect will be inherited.


In case you haven't picked up on it Ron, I am not being entirely serious.

I do however have a bit of a grudge against the Darwinist line as it came to be expressed or rather exaggerated in the 19th and 20th centuries, through Nietzsche to Mein Kampf, which managed to reduce human existence to the same level as a bacterium.

The wonder of being a human is we can observe these processes, and to come petty extent at least refuse to play participate, although of course the Gods will always have their revenge, but as the Greeks knew, that is why we are superior to the Gods.

I do however have a bit of a grudge against the Darwinist line as it came to be expressed or rather exaggerated in the 19th and 20th centuries, through Nietzsche to Mein Kampf, which managed to reduce human existence to the same level as a bacterium.

Well, first of all by "Darwinist line" I haven't a clue as to what you are talking about. Nietzsche never reduced humans to the level of bacterium. People hate Nietzsche simply because he was the one who announced the death of God. That was not Darwin's fault. As far as Hitler is concerned, by blaming his rule on Darwin you are doing the same thing as a lot of fundamentalist preachers. I am shocked.

Ron Patterson

I was talking about Hitler reducing people, not Neitasche.

Likewise of course I do not blame Darwin for Hitler, but there were a lot of very silly people around from about the 1880's who took his ideas and distorted them, most notably by nonsense about the Aryan race.

Darwin himself however was of course in no way responsible.

I am shocked that you should imagine that I would hold Darwin culpable.

I am shocked that you should imagine that I would hold Darwin culpable.

Well, what am I supposed to think? The term "Darwinist line" implies the line taken by Darwin. Or at least it implies the line taken by Darwinists, who get their line from Darwin. Hitler and his ilk knew about as much about Darwin and natural selection as I know quantum physics, virtually nothing.

The Darwinist line is all about biology, not sociology. It is Darwin haters who try to tie Darwin, or at least Darwinism, to social structures built by despots like Hitler.

Ron Patterson

Since I have read and enjoyed both the 'Origin' and 'The Voyage of the Beagle' I think you can safely assume that I am no Darwin hater.

However, great men like comets always have a tail - I doubt Marx was a Marxist, but his name for good or ill has come to stand for a whole period of often brutal history in a whole host of countries.

I am a little puzzled here Dave. Are you saying that, though Darwin did not intend it to be so, nevertheless harm has been caused by showing the world how, via natural selection, species change over time? Would we be better off if we were totally ignorant of the process of natural selection?

Help me, I am confused.

Ron Patterson

Don't worry about it Ron - it was all meant to be fairly light-hearted repartee.

My comment was about some of the writers who have misread and misapplied Darwin, not Darwin himself - I thought I might just raise a knowing smile from you, as we might have read some of the same guys, but we are obviously just on different wavelengths on the subject.

Actually Dave, I was just being sarcastic. I knew full well what you meant. But you are right, we were on different wavelengths. I was not really confused at all. ;-)

Ron Patterson

I am glad you are not quite as thick as I was coming to believe.

You might have gone extinct. :-)

wondering what is your explaination for the extreme size of the dinosaurs ? did they lack a genetic means of controlling their growth ? seems like that may be the ultimate reason for their extinction, coupled of course with peak fern. (i am not a beliver in that asteroid theory).

Dinosaurs lived on a lower gravity earth. :)

has anyone got any good links about a lower gravity earth and the size of dinosaurs?

No, the gravity of the earth then was the same as now.

Giantism was a defensive adaptation. The adult elephant, for instance, has no natural enemies. But as dinosaurs got bigger, so did their predators. But the truly giants of the Jurassic had no natural enemies. It was the Cretaceous before predators got really big. And that was a necessity because all their prey was so large.

Ron Patterson

Not all dinosaurs were big. Some were the size of chickens. Some just medium sized.

We have also in the West increased our scores in IQ tests substantially since around 1900.

I'd like to see a source for this claim since the IQ tests that I know score with 100 = the average IQ of the population. As such they should, by definition, remain the same over time, even if the intellegence of the population of test takers is changing in absolute terms.

Now John, you don't want to introduce reason and concepts like evidence into a discussion about intelligence. Anecdote and prejudice simply don't like the company.

Whereas ignorance could do with company, at least from a teacher! - welcome! :-)

He is talking about the Flynn Effect.

Or a better discussion of it can be found here:

Ron Patterson

Here you go:

The average IQ scores for many populations were rising at an average rate of three points per decade during the 20th century with most of the increase in the lower half of the IQ range: a phenomenon called the Flynn effect. It is disputed whether these changes in scores reflect real changes in intellectual abilities, or merely methodological problems with past or present testing.


Strange but true!

The fact is, if people in a given population with lower intelligence have more children than those with higher intelligence, then the average intelligence of that given population will decline.

Even if that's true...there's no evidence that that is happening. Less educated people may have more children, but less educated is not the same thing as less intelligent. And we've seen that repeatedly here in the US, where immigrants often arrive with few skills and within a couple of generations become PhDs and white collar professionals.

Your scenario also assumes that the less intelligent don't breed with the more intelligent. It doesn't work that way. One of the privileges of being among the elite is greater access to mates...including mates of lower social class.

Thank you Lady Chatterley! ;-)

Even if that's true...there's no evidence that that is happening.

Well, no one would dare measure for such a thing today. They would be lynched by the PC crowd. So there may be plenty of evidence that it is happening, just that no one is checking.

Less educated people may have more children, but less educated is not the same thing as less intelligent.

Damn Leanan, give me a little credit. Do you actually think I don't know the difference between education and IQ? My dad was a sharecropper. I grew up dirt poor on a small cotton farm. I received a high school education plus a lot of tech schools supplied by the Air Force and my employers. Considering my "bringings up" I think I did quite well for myself.

Growing up, my peers were all dirt poor, just like me. Most of them dropped out of school by the 10th grade. They had to work the farm. But some were nevertheless very smart, most were just average while some were just down in the dirt dumb. And it was quite easy to tell the difference.

Ron Patterson

So, if you accept that...do you really believe that intelligent people have a duty to have kids? That is what we're talking about here. Does the theoretical risk of "marching morons" syndrome outweigh what we know to be true: that there are too many people on this planet, and it's not sustainable? And that the children of the well-educated and well-off tend to have outsized ecological footprints?

I see this time and again: people who don't have children are assumed to be selfish or otherwise deficient. I can understand that in mainstream America, but among peak oilers, you'd think we'd know better. No, I'm not suggesting anyone send their kids back where they came from, or expose them on the hilltops like they did in the old days. Or even that they not have kids, if they want them. But if someone chooses not to have children, they should be applauded. Or at least, not criticized.

Leanan, you are obviously unfamiliar with my philosophy, or more correctly my world view. People are the way they are. Duty smooty, people will do what they will do because it is their nature to do so. My saying what people should do is not worth a bucket of warm spit.

We control only our tiny circle, ourselves with some influence on our immediate family. Otherwise we are simply observers. No one pays a damn bit of attention to anything I say. And I cannot change that and I am not sure I would wish to even if I could. Like Montaigne, I would not speak so boldly if I thought it had any effect upon people's behavior.

Ron Patterson

I should not speak so boldly, if it were my due to be believed; and so I told a great man, who complained of the tartness and contentiousness of my exhortations.
Michel de Montaigne

In that case, I strongly disagree with you. It's the nature of people to be susceptible to societal pressure.

Until quite recently I was a very strong proponent of the idea that human behaviour is heavily influenced by genetics, and as a result isn't terribly malleable. Then I ran across Daniel Quinn's thinking about the cultural divergence 10,000 years ago caused by the development of totalitarian agriculture, and my position shifted dramatically. I now think that what we perceive as innate, genetically constrained behaviour (because the traits seem so intrinsic and inescapable) is really being structured by our social institutions. Here's how I put it elsewhere:

In finally discovering Quinn's work, I feel like I've picked up a pretty piece of rock, turned it over and found myself staring at the Rosetta Stone.

I've had the feeling for the last 3 years that I've been putting together a jigsaw puzzle without having the picture on the box cover to help make sense of the pattern. I've spent my life as a dualist, reductionist materialist. Human ingenuity was the keystone of existence, and our civilization was its apotheosis. Then I finally accepted the truth about man-made climate change, and from there I discovered Peak Oil. That pretty much put an end to the "transcendent cleverness of man" conceit. From there it was a frictionless slide into the mouth of Hell: pollution, fresh water depletion, desertification, droughts and extreme weather events, the death of the oceans, the loss of 200 species a day, looming food shortages and the impending collapse of the global economy. It didn't take a genius to realize that all these ravens of doom were coming home to roost simultaneously, and the consequences seemed both inevitable and catastrophic. What the fuck was going on?

I was thrown into a two-year existential depression by these discoveries, and was only pulled out of it by a spiritual insight that I at first mistook for pantheism. Being a 57 year old third-generation atheist and humanist I was uncomfortable with the name, but the sense of the sacredness of unity, and man's place as a part of it, rather than apart from it, resonated very strongly. Six months later I realized that I'd spontaneously discovered the principles of Deep Ecology. That was a relief -- it got rid of the pesky "-theism" business and let me concentrate on the unity of humanity and nature. I found further hope in the idea that millions of small, independent, local environmental and social justice groups throughout the world formed "Gaia's antibodies" -- an idea that was set down by environmentalist Paul Hawken in his book "Blessed Unrest".

All that was pretty cold comfort though, because it still left the nagging question of human nature. How did things get this way? Are we in fact flawed creatures, genetically condemned by the malignant convergence of our evolved neuropsychology and a brain that's "twice too clever and not half wise enough" to rape, plunder and pillage until every corner of the planet is condemned through our activities? If that nature is truly encoded in our genes then we are doomed, and much of the planet's life along with us.

That was how I saw things for a long and bleak time. Then for Valentine's day my girlfriend (who apparently knows all this stuff already, for some mysterious gender-linked reason) bought me "Ishmael" and "The Story of B" as a gift. Reading "Ishmael" was an indescribable experience. The hallmark of a particular kind of genius is that their ideas are so straight-forward and self-evident that when you first read them you say, "Well of course. So?" That was how I felt. Until I realized that the ordinary-looking little key Quinn had just handed me actually fit the lock in the door that had been keeping me imprisoned for so long. One gentle turn and tug, and the light shone in.

As Quinn points out (in ways that made me want to smack my forehead like Homer Simpson, "D'oh!"), we are not genetically programmed to be hierarchical, competitive, expansionary, consumptive, over-individuated automata (whether you see such behaviour as a good thing or not). Our institutions -- from our economic and political systems, to our educational systems, our media, our childhood bedtime stories, right down to our very languages themselves -- express, shape and reinforce these values so thoroughly and unremittingly that they seem to be intrinsic to our very cells. Quinn showed me that this feeling of inevitability doesn't signify Truth, but only Culture -- 10,000 years worth of culture aimed at imprinting on every person alive the idea that Man Rules All.

And if our behaviour just comes from Culture, and not Truth, that means it can be changed. It means there is a possible future for us besides the end-states of extinction or gray goo. It even means that possible future could actually be pretty fine -- well, so long as you redefine "fine" a bit and accept the price we'll have to pay to get there. And that's good enough for me.

I hope this citation doesn't get clipped. It sets a standard for all of us struggling with our thoughts and our keyboards.

Paul, have you read EO Wilson, and if so, what is your take on the notion of gene-culture co-evolution?

I haven't read enough Wilson closely enough to be definitive, but as I understand it, his perception of the biological underpinnings of such things as altruism inform the current "evolved neuropsychology" interpretation of human behaviour. If that's the case (and I certainly don't want to put words in Wilson's mouth here) I think that aspect of our makeup has been overemphasized, possibly in reaction to the traditional picture of man as an infinitely perfectible free agent.

I'm starting to think that both those positions (self-determined free agent vs. biological prisoner) are culturally imprinted, and neither represents the "true" state of affairs -- whatever that word means. I think culture has provided us with at least as effective a strait-jacket as has our biology, and I'm certainly coming to the conclusion that our culture owes less to our biology than we might think.

That's as far as I'm willing to go at this point, however.

GG, Ron

Have you(anyone) read any studies of split personality disorders?

In particular I once heard that on one occasion, one personality was diabetic and one personality wasn't. Or a similar thing with one personality was allergic to Orange juice and another personality wasn't.

Has anyone heard of any thing like that or was it just urban/suburban legend?


Impossible, it is an urban legend. A split personality is a personality disorder. Diabetic is a physical disorder where the pancreas does not produce insulin. People like to tell such tales to try to show that the mind controls such things as the pancreas producing insulin or allergies but it is nonsense.

Ron Patterson

I like to look at our genetic brethern for clues to human behavior: Did you know that male rhesus macaque monkey will pay for pornorgraphy? http://www.philly.com/inquirer/columnists/faye_flam/11810887.html

It's a living.....

GG, several hundred books have been written on nature verses nurture in the last half century. I have read only about a dozen of them but one of them was NOT Daniel Quinn. Not that I have anything against Quinn, it is just that he is not a geneticist or even a biologist. So how the hell would he know?

The University of Minnesota study of identical twins raised apart proved the genetic influence on personality beyond any shadow of doubt. Read Born That Way: Genes, Behavior, Personality.

But it is not an either/or argument:

For more than 50 years sane voices have called for an end to the debate. Nature versus nurture has been declared everything from dead and finished to futile and wrong—a false dichotomy,. Everybody with an ounce of common sense knows that human beings are a product of a transaction between the two......

I believe human behavior has to be explained by both nature and nurture. I am not backing one side or the other. But that does not mean I am taking a "middle of the road" compromise. As Jim Hightower, a Texas politician, once said: "There ain't nothing in the middle of the road but a yellow line and a dead armadillo"
Matt Ridley: Nature via Nurture

Ron Patterson

We each take our influences where we find them, Ron. In my world there's room for speculative philosophers as well as geneticists and biologists. In fact I haven't found anything in Quinn's writing yet that says something like "genetic interpretations of human behaviour are bunk", and I wouldn't expect to. What I have found is the idea that much of what we take to be immutable about human history and the human condition is little more than the constant murmur of culture in our ears. This is suggested by the fact that the development of totalitarian agriculture marked a dramatic bifurcation of the human experience even though the species remained biologically unchanged. I'm still thinking this through, but that viewpoint had a lot to recommend for itself -- at least given my current frame of mind and state of personal development.

You might be a candidate for reading Julian Jaynes, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind.
Personally I don't believe a word of it, but Jaynes will make you think about human mutability.

What I have found is the idea that much of what we take to be immutable about human history and the human condition is little more than the constant murmur of culture in our ears.

GG, I know it was just a slip on your part, but I can say with absolutely certainty that human history is immutable. Just try changing it if you doubt me. :-)

But to my knowledge no one blames totalitarian agriculture on our genes. And I am in agreement with you on the damage it has done. A book I recently read, Against the Grain: How Agriculture Has Hijacked Civilization makes that point quite clear.

I think I now see where you are coming from. You, and Quinn, perceive the human condition, (but obviously not human history), to be highly mutable, or at least not immutable. And as far as the definition of the word goes, I would agree. The human condition can, and will, change. But we are not, via our actions, going to make it a better world. The world will change, and get dramatically worse, because of the decline, and eventual demise of fossil fuel.

We are not going to make the world better by our actions GG. That is just not going to happen. A world of "leavers and the takers" is just another false dichotomy. We are all mostly takers though we can be very benevolent on a full stomach. That is we do what we must do to survive regardless of the consequences.

As far as human institutions go, I am much closer to John Gray than Daniel Quinn.

- The destruction of the natural world is not the result of global capitalism, industrialization, 'Western civilization' or any flaw in human institutions. It is a consequence of the evolutionary success of an exceptionally rapacious primate. Throughout all of history and prehistory, human advance has coincided with ecological devastation.
John Gray, "Straw Dogs"

We have destroyed the world because we are competing with every other animal on earth for food and territory. And we are winning....BIG TIME!

Ron Patterson

I can say with absolutely certainty that human history is immutable.

Unless you find a wormhole.

"I am the wisest man in Athens because I know I don't know. I am only singularly ignorant. The rest of the citizens are twice ignorant. They think they know, but they still don't know."

Social pressure is not the same thing. Societies evolve, they are not constructed by the whims of people like you and I. You and I have little, if any, influence when it comes to determining what the social pressures of our society shall be. They are a product of the masses, and the religions they follow.

Ron Patterson

Again, I disagree. Societies and religions are not random. And we are the masses.

IOW - yes, I do think we can make a difference. It's a long shot, but if I did not think there was at least the possibility of success, I would not be doing this.

This philosophy is a self-fulfilling prophecy. People who believe they have

little, if any, influence

are correct.

Meanwhile it is not hard to see how the whims of countless individuals have had major impacts on human history, from GWB's compulsion to invade Iraq, to Ghandi's pacifism. If Ghandi or GWB has subscribed to such a disabling philosophy then neither of them would have had the impacts that history records.

What you write should be obvious to anyone who thought rationally about the situation. The fact is that there is some portion of what we call intelligence which is due to genetics. One must recall earlier notions about intelligence, such as, bigger heads implied more brain power. The whole idea of eugenics and concepts of racial differences gets thrown into any debate, which ignore the basic facts found in breeding non-human animals. Genetics matters, like it or not.

However, the human brain is very plastic at birth and learning can supplement or replace some of the hereditary differences which might exist. Motivation can be more important than genetics in measuring success. But, there's still no substitute for genetics at some basic level and I think this fact is reflected in the rather poor performance of youngsters in the U.S. when compared against kids from other areas of the world. As many well educated people choose to have few or no children, I fear we will see further regression in the levels of achievement in the U.S. My own feeling is that the smartest women should be having the most babies, but it would appear that the opposite is happening.

E. Swanson

Leanan, We are on our fifth medicare generation right now. Ask anyone who works in EMS how their interactions with gold card members leaves them feeling. Whether stupidity is hereditary or just the teratogens and lack of parental teaching we have a growing, dumbing underclass.

Orsen Scott Cards bood "Enders Game" had a good solution to deal with it.

I had it going for awhile. The wife and I did not want to have kids, so I got the V, because she had been on the pill for 12 years. She traded me in 6 months later and now has two kids. :)

I am with another woman of excellent breeding characteristics right now, but the well is dry; however, I do not expect that to last forever. Getting knocked up again is in her future. She wants a baby - The Female Brain - OY. PS - She is a hell of a gardener and has a spring on her property, so we shall see. But she wants a baby and a new Gucci purse. As Jack Nicholson says in As Good As It Gets -

Q from Woman - How do you know us so well, I mean what's in here (points at heart)
A from Jack - It is easy. I think of a man and then I take away reason and accountability.

IMHO - Women are the problem with confronting the future, but hey they never admit that there wrong and they know who is buried in the tomb of the unknown soldier, all while watching the Young and the Restless.

I think that's more a reflection of the kind of woman you know than of reality.

With your attitude, it's not surprising.

LOL - I blame my mother. :)

And if the split happens you guys would make a cute couple, in a Statler & Waldorf sort of fashion.

Covered very well by Rock et. al. here:


I'm grateful that someone brought up the notion of vasectomy as a foolproof method of birth control. About twenty years ago when my first wife was pregnant with our second child we decided that we didn't want to have any more and the logical thing was a simple vasectomy. An hour office visit and it was done. One of the things the doctor did was to make the vasectomy reversible (yes it's reversible!)

My wife and I got divorced a few years later and when I started to form relationships again the thought of wanting to have more kids never crossed my mind and the women who I knew actually appreciated not having to concern themselves with worrying about birth control. I am now happily remarried and the thought of reversing the operation has never been a temptation.

Last year I read Alan Weisman's excellent book 'The World Without Us'. In that book there was a reference to Les Knight, the founder of VHEMT - the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. www.vhemt.org I checked out the website and it was surprisingly softspoken and often humorous. The motto is "May we live long and die out". He also says "By definition, we're the alien invader. Everywhere except Africa. Every time Homo sapiens went anywhere else, things went extinct."

Les Knight is a thoughtful schoolteacher and the math of exponential population growth is irrefutable. This is a touchy subject but lets face it: without taking voluntary actions to reduce human population we will have to rely on the standby options of horrific resource wars and starvation to bring our numbers in line.

My understanding is that a vasectomy is reversible for only 2 to 3 years and then the epididymis atrophies and no more sperm is produced.

I've been a supporter of VHEMT before I even knew there was such a thing. In fact, I go a bit further, and support organizations like the Hemlock Society and the Right to Die movement.

If the planetary problem is too many people behaving the way people behave, then you can attack the problem from both directions: get people to behave differently, and reduce the number of people. so far there has been little progress on either front, but I'm expecting a big helping hand from Mother Nature and the Laws of Physics any day now.

I got snipped with no kids about 14 years ago when I started reading about peak oil. I couldn't imagine anything worse than having to face what's coming with a couple of dependent children and watching them suffer. But we aren't going to change, we see the usual canards being trotted out: having a stake in future, needing more hands for the farming, and so on. It isn't fair to the children to bring them into the world right now.

I got 'snipped' in 1980 while the doc was in the territory repairing a hernia. Hasn't made a vas deferens in my sex life :0

Do you ever find yourself getting a little testi?

Gusher of Lies reviewed today by the New York Times:


The book review was positive, but noted as I did that he digressed off into terrorism which was distracting.

Scraping the Barrel (Derek Brower, linked up top):

Oil is on the way out. It will be a long, gradual process and not the crash as some of the hysterical scare stories of the peak oil movement suggest. Convincing peak oilers of this is impossible, of course, because their theory is dogmatic: a circular ideology backed up by stats from other believers. And many of them don't brook much criticism of the methodology. But if oil production never rises to the 115m barrels a day the International Energy Agency says we'll need by 2030, it won't be because we don't have it.

As I have been saying, I suggest that you take advantage of the Yerginite's beliefs while you can, and use it as an opportunity to unload highly energy dependent assets on the true believers in the Yerginite Community.

A long, gradual process is indeed a possibility. However he obviously lacks any understanding of feedback loops, geopolitical strife etc. which may cause it crashing real hard. Add the dire outlooks contemplated by yourself (ELM), memmel (80% watercuts), ace, Bakthiari, Darwinian.

Convincing peak oilers of this is impossible, of course, because their theory is dogmatic: a circular ideology backed up by stats from other believers.

So this guy is saying that our venerable contributors provided their own stats? As if they pull these charts and numbers out of thin air?! Okay, guys -- stop that right now. (I could've sworn there were national and international agencies cited, not to mention numerous oil companies, etc., etc.)

In a faith-based world, you don't want to be confused by stats or other facts.

Also consider this letter from Michael Lynch in the Oil and Gas Journal:

Peak-oil context

The letter by Al-Husseini and Al-Husseini about the Cambridge Energy Research Associates decline-rate study, as well as comments by other peak oil theorists on the subject, demonstrates their habit of ignoring historical context (OGJ, Feb. 4, 2008, p. 12). The point is that the decline rate, and the effect of depletion on capacity, is not a new element; rather, the industry has been replacing about 4 million b/d of lost capacity a year for some time now. With growth of approximately 1.5 million b/d of capacity every year, the gross additions must be on the order of 5.5-6 million b/d, or more than a Saudi Arabia every 2 years. Analysts like Matt Simmons and ASPO-USA always describe this without context. Thomas Petrie, for example, was quoted as saying, “When was the last time we discovered another Iran?”

Yet the industry has not only raised capacity by about 15 million b/d over the last 10 years, it has replaced something like 35 million b/d of capacity lost to depletion. This is equal to 10 Irans, without actually finding a new, major petroleum basin.

The only point of interest is whether or not the decline rate in existing fields has grown with new technologies, as some have claimed. CERA states that it did not find this to be the case. Why peak-oil pundits ignore this is hard to explain. Indeed, ASPO-USA’s comment that “betting on depletion is like betting on rust” nicely demonstrates the shortcoming of their thinking: The oil industry, and many others, deals with rust all the time, without thinking it will cause them to peak and decline.

Depletion, like rust, has always been with us and can be dealt with, given proper investment.

It is hard to produce oil, and always has been. But the industry has managed not only to run faster to stay in place, but to continually pull ahead. The resource that is lacking is logical thinking on the part of the peak-oil community.

Michael Lynch, President
Strategic Energy & Economic Research Inc.
Winchester, Mass.

Guess they're hiding the light of all that spare capacity under a bushel. Makes good sense for the long term for those sensible enough, like KSA perhaps - but meanwhile the rest of the world merrily drills away.


It is hard to produce oil, and always has been. But the industry has managed not only to run faster to stay in place, but to continually pull ahead. The resource that is lacking is logical thinking on the part of the peak-oil community.

In effect, Lynch is saying that individual regions will peak and decline, as per the quantitative models, e.g., Texas (using total data set) and the North Sea (looking at pre-peak and post-peak data), but our aggregate production--the sum of the output of individual regions like Texas and the North Sea--will not fit the quantitative model, even as world crude oil production continues to show (much like the initial Lower 48 decline) two years of slow annual declines in production, as Deffeyes' quantitative model predicted.

BTW, regarding his point about oil companies historically being able to offset declining production with new production, that is of course the definition of Peak Oil. Peak Oil occurs when you can't offset the production declines from the older larger fields. Note that Texas (peaked in 1972) and the North Sea (peaked in 1999) were developed by private companies using the best available technology, with virtually no restrictions on drilling.

So, as I said elsewhere, I suggest that you unload highly energy dependent assets on the true believes in the Yerginite Community as fast as possible. Perhaps Michael Lynch would buy your SUV and suburban McMansion?

Oooo, Oooo, how about my slightly used neutron synchronized interstallar drive?

Pardon my enthusiasm, it's probably just my over-the-counter flu meds.

You left out all of the graphs and data Lynch showed us, demonstrating how the IOC's have been able to use their massive increases in profits and development expenses to nudge, nay vault, their production from 2000 to 2007, and how Chevron alone was able to replace oodles and oodles of reserves last year. I am still not sure what he means by "pull ahead" when it comes to BP, CVX, XOM, COP, and their ilk. Even less so when he applies it to the NOC's in Iran, Venezuela, and Mexico.

He should have used the Texas example, 1962-1972, when we boosted production from 2.5 mbpd to 3.5 mbpd. Of course, there is that problem of 1972 to 1982, when we went from 3.5 mbpd to 2.5 mbpd.

But as I said, Lynch more or less apparently believes in the "Peter Huber" principle, to-wit, that the sum of the output of a group of discrete oil regions that peak and decline results in continuously expanding production.

I'm still looking for a Huber/Lynch oil field, i.e., one where individual oil wells peak and decline, but the aggregate production increases forever. When I find it, I intend to also raise unicorns there, with the oil wells tended to by fairies and elves, who in their part time raise food in my magical garden that delivers increasing food production forever.

If your elves can brew Belgian Ale, I may join you.

the Yerginite Community is having a tough time holding onto their cars and are looking for better MPG.


I personally like this quote and it shows this might not be such a disaster after all.

"I ran around smiling for 20 minutes when they took the car away," Chilcot said. "It was a relief."

My new favorite quote (source unknown):

The American love affair with cars is a lot like Stockholm Syndrome.

westexas: I respect your opinion greatly on this forum and would love to hear a response to the following. You have stated in the past prepare for $8/gallon gasoline. 1.) How soon do you think we could be seeing prices at that level? 2.) How soon do you think we could see supply disruptions and shortages? I know two questions loaded with a million variables but I was hoping since you made the prediction for the first one ($8/gal gas) you might be able to supply a date with it too.

Well, as they say if you must make predictions, predict either the price or the date, but not both, but IMO, we are facing a geometric progression in oil prices per barrel, as importers bid against each other for declining oil exports:

$50, $100, $200, $400. . .

This results in a geometric progression in product price per gallon:

$2, $4, $8, $16 . . .

Of course, Europeans are paying $8 per gallon right now, but in regard to your question, I would assume--for budgeting purposes--that Americans pay $8 starting on August 8, 2008, $8 on 8/8/8. As I have said for some time, assume a 50% decline in income, with food & energy prices more than doubling.

Listening to the comments in the street yesterday to the last couple day's gas price increase, it seemed this time people were getting more worked up. More anger and expression in their faces. And much more talk of trips avoided or not taken.

I heard alot of this from the ed cited:

"They are worried about politics, not geology. As the Texan bumper sticker says: "Why is our oil under their sand?"

Everyone was blaming the oil companies, and the politicians. And expect oil to be cheap again. I'm afraid the scarcer oil becomes, the more recalcitrant the public becomes.

From the "scraping the barrel" article above by Derek Brower :

"But if oil production never rises to the 115m barrels a day the International Energy Agency says we'll need by 2030, it won't be because we don't have it."

Well if that isn't a circular, self-serving statement, I don't know what would do it.

"All of that makes Opec worried - as it should be. Oil is on the way out. It will be a long, gradual process and not the crash as some of the hysterical scare stories of the peak oil movement suggest. Convincing peak oilers of this is impossible, of course, because their theory is dogmatic: a circular ideology backed up by stats from other believers. And many of them don't brook much criticism of the methodology. But if oil production never rises to the 115m barrels a day the International Energy Agency says we'll need by 2030, it won't be because we don't have it."--Derek Brower(Asshat)

Who exactly is this guy?
Well, he's a petroleum economist and industry consultant(aka lobbyist)!

I find his contention to be bizarre. We aren't running out of oil; we simply don't WANT it anymore( even though we are paying $104 a barrel). Talk about circular reasoning!

Yet peak oilers are saying that oil is disappearing because we can't FIND it(as much) anymore. This reasoning Brower defines as circular.

As the old-saw says,
"If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride."

It's a shame... nobody talks with anybody anymore. Apparently he's made assumptions for some reason about people who believe in the peak oil theory. I'm not a geologist, nor a green activist, nor someone seeking a pre-industrial way of life... so I find his gibberish confusing. I therefore conclude that he's fueled by his own circular dogmatic beliefs.

His so-called article had no facts or proper arguments at all, just polemic.

If he wants to write a real article to explain why the knowledgeable posters here are mistaken in their assessments of depletion rates he can do so, but there was nothing solid there.

Perhaps he does not seriously believe his argument himself.

Bluster is unconvincing.

Coal Price Seen Rising 3 Fold, To Hit Record

It's a "Supply Apocalypse"

"There is now an obvious scramble for supply with industry sources confirming that Asian steel mills are begging for tonnes at close to any cost,"

The thermal coal market is expected to be under-supplied for the next three years

There is, creeping into the general oil market, a suspicion that OPEC cannot really extract more oil than they are doing right now. From the above link Two Explanations for Surging Oil Prices:

All of this makes one wonder if the OPEC countries are actually in a position to increase their exports or if they are covering up an inability to increase supplies by saying that action is not needed. Now that OPEC has adjourned until next September, it may be well into the Fall until we find out more about the truth of this matter.

That is a third explanation for surging oil prices. That is, a lot of traders believe OPEC is just making excuses and are not really able to increase oil extraction at all.

Ron Patterson

In the Link 'The Elephant in the room' they state:

It is obvious that something has massively increased the world's carrying capacity in the last 150 years. During the first 1800 years of the Common Era, like the tens of thousands of years before, the population rose very gradually as humanity spread across the globe. Around 1800 this began to change, and by 1900 the human population was rising dramatically:

That something is oil.

They then go on to argue that the rise in population since 1800, which they somehow seem to calculate as 150 years ago, is due to oil, and peak oil will lead to a population crash back to around 1800 levels.

Now we may all be doomed, but this sort of sloppy argument does not prove it, as for at least the first 100 years after 1800 coal was far more important than oil, and many think that coal will not run out in the immediate future.

Natural gas does not seem to exist in their world.

And furthermore:

But a 5.8° Celsius rise is possible, with some climate scientists suggesting even faster warming. In the UK, 2006 was the warmest year since records began in 1659.

seemingly without even noticing that they are saying that we have not got the fossil fuels to cause that sort of rise.

Poor, thin stuff.

Poor, thin stuff indeed! Not once did they mention in that article Alexander Fleming and his bacteria-killing isolates from food mold, penicillin, nor Howard Florey and Ernst Chain who shared the Nobel prize for discovering how to mass produce it. This was the key moment, but before that there was an improved knowledge of how disease is transmitted, effective methods of treatment, and nutrition. (E.g., open rain barrels provide breeding grounds for malaria mosquitoes and poor sanitation leads to cholera.)

"We will have to produce as much food in the next fifty years as we have in the last one thousand". Can't remember where I read this, but if you eyeball the area under the human population's exponential growth curve, and assume that each person/year represents a certain minimal food requirement, it would seem to be plausible. And that without Peak Oil/soil/water and climate change. Famine is on its way.

Population started diverging from the historic trend around 1750, then really took off in 20th C.

What I would like to know is what really caused the population increase in 1750 onwards, since it wasn't oil.

The industrial revolution started around 1760-1780 with widespread effect from 1830, so increased pop. growth largely predates the industrial revolution. This makes sense, as the industrial revolution couldn't have taken place without spare labour. Agricultural output increased even before mechanization became widely applied, so again an alternative explanation is required.

How we got here does not change the fact there are now 6 billion people to feed. However, if the population increase was not caused directly by FF use, then that implies that loss of FF does not automatically lead to reduction in population. If the real factors that caused the increase in population are still in play, then population may continue to increase. This has significant implications for the environment.

Mechanisation may not have been extensive until sometime in the 19th century, but the application of rationality, greater sub-division of labour and essentially industrial thought-processes started form around 1720 on.

People like Jethro Tull were altering practises such as throwing seeds by the handful by the use of seed drills, scientific breeding of animals and many more innovations were leading to increased agricultural productivity.

Medicine was also slowly improving, although in my view food supply was much more important.

Fossil fuels initially in the form of coal were integral to the later continuance of the previously established trends, in fact it was important very early on, with iron production leading to implements for agriculture.

My own take on it would be that although FF did not directly lead to the rise in population, it was so closely bound up with it that the present population would certainly be unsustainable without similar levels of energy input, although that does not have to be fossil fuel.

Four field crop rotation and a "modern" method of making steel plows. These both occurred during the 18th century.

Steel plows were introduced 1837 according to wiki, so that makes it 19th century.

Wherever you look, increase in population was not driven by fossil fuels, it was driven by innovation.

I stand corrected, I must have been thinking of the Rotherham plow.

For those who want a balanced view.

March 3 and 4 was a conference by global warming skeptics. 500 people, mostly scientists, attended. It got little media coverage, for now. Here is their report. I hope Leanne does not delete this. I'll make no further comments, but let the report speak for itself.

Nature, Not Human Activity,
Rules the Climate

In conclusion, this NIPCC report falsifies the
principal IPCC conclusion that the reported
warming (since 1979) is very likely caused by the
human emission of greenhouse gases. In other
words, increasing carbon dioxide is not responsible
for current warming. Policies adopted and called for
in the name of ‘fighting global warming’ are

It is regrettable that the public debate over
climate change, fueled by the errors and
exaggerations contained in the reports of the IPCC,
has strayed so far from scientific truth. It is an
embarrassment to science that hype has replaced
reason in the global debate over so important an

What bollocks.

Bollocks is precisely the word,

Ahahahahah! Oh yeah! check this out:

What if you held a conference, and no (real) scientists came?

At regular scientific conferences, an independent scientific committee selects the talks. Here, the financial sponsors get to select their favorite speakers. The Heartland website is seeking sponsors and in return for the cash promises "input into the program regarding speakers and panel topics". Easier than predicting future climate is therefore to predict who some of those speakers will be. We will be surprised if they do not include the many of the usual suspects e.g. Fred Singer, Pat Michaels, Richard Lindzen, Roy Spencer, and other such luminaries. (For those interested in scientists' links to industry sponsors, use the search function on sites like sourcewatch.org or exxonsecrets.org.)

Captain Ed and a few other bloggers looking for free food and drinks probably attended.

mostly scientists


"By the New York Times' count, 19 of about 500 conference attendees identified themselves as scientists."

"You wouldn't know this by reading the Heartland Institute's propaganda about its 2008 International Conference on Climate Change, which just concluded Tuesday in New York. The conferees passed a "Manhattan Declaration" resolving "that scientific questions should be evaluated solely by the scientific method" and stating that the "human-caused climate change is not a global crisis."

Additionally, the group urged world leaders to "reject the views expressed by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change," whose work just recently won the Nobel Peace Prize.

The untutored public -- toward which such PR is engineered -- is assumed to be ignorant of the fact that IPCC does not express "views." Rather, it produces exhaustive reports that carefully, methodically and accurately assess the current state of climate-change science (as published in articles subject to peer-review). The IPCC specifies what is and is not known, and the degrees of certainty about what is and is not known. These are probably the most thoroughly vetted scientific documents in history.

Heartland, which represents a small group of well-known denialists, pretend that the opposite is true -- that IPCC and its legions of expert contributors and reviewers engage in slapdash research and groupthink. Heartland downplays the fact that it's received funding from ExxonMobil and other corporate entities whose aim is anything but the advancement of rigorous scientific inquiry."

Of course, Leanan should not delete this post, since it gives other commenters the pleasure of shooting fish in a barrel.

Two questions: 1) Who provided the majority of the funds for the people who were PAID to go to this "conference". 2) What degrees do these so-called scientists have, and what is the sum of their years of research experience on climate change compared to the scientists that contributed to the IPCC reports.

Balanced view? No it is pure BS.

I am always curious about scientific conferences. Who funds them? What is the agenda? Do they invite a broad range of opinions or exclusive to the choir?

Scientology is followed by hundreds of thousands of believers. That doesn't make it true. I have a great aunt who professed throughout her adult life that the world was flat and belonged to a worldwide organization that believed as she did.

Charles Darwin (much maligned) published 'Origin of Species' as an isolated scientist not as a consensus opinion.

James Lovelock (an actual scientist and the father of modern climatology) says we are way past the point of being able to reverse global warming. When asked in 1967 what he saw as the challenges that mankind will face in the next millenium he said flatly "environmental decay". He was dead right and anyone with eyes to see will confirm that prediction as irrefutable.

When I hear the word "scientific" it raises a red flag for me! I see an awful lot of "creative journalism" parading around as scientific research. I'll take my information from sources that are credible...not merely dogmatic.

I am always curious about scientific conferences. Who funds them? What is the agenda? Do they invite a broad range of opinions or exclusive to the choir?

It depends if it's essentially a scientific conference, or if it's a conference aimed at something else with scientists (ie, doing policy, advancing somebodies agenda, etc). For a scientific conference, they are generally initiated by researchers the big chunk of the money comes from conference fees by those giving papers and attending. Another chunk can come from sponsorship, although in my experience a sponsor who asked for anything more than logos everywhere and distributing their literature would be told where to go. One fact about corporate funding/sponsorship/donations is that it has less restrictions on how it's used/who it gets paid to than grant money: that stuff generally gets audited to hell and back and is difficult to use in ways other than specified in the grant proposal.

It's very rare for there to be "opinions" (in the sense of anything more than "my current best guess") in most science: you don't get opinions about, eg, chemistry because either the data is supports your theory or your theory is wrong. As such, the people who get invited are those who are producing the hottest data or building theories on this data.

Climate change, human medicine/psychology and theoretical physics are pretty much the only areas where you get "opinions", precisely because the decisive experiments we'd really like to do cannot be done for practical reasons.

He was dead right and anyone with eyes to see will confirm that prediction as irrefutable.

It's good that you prefer credible rather than overly dogmatic people.

Back up your "mostly scientists" statement. And what kind of scientists are they.

He said he would make no further comments, and I'm holding him to that. He's eaten enough DrumBeats with this crap already.

Sadly, Leanan, there is not enough substance here to warrant the word crap. It is much more vaporous, and when emitted by cows qualifies as "methane," a much more pernicious GHG than CO2

Correct your propaganda lies, jrwakefield. Of those 500, only 19 identified themselves as actual scientists.

You, sir, are a shill for Exxon and its ilk.

I agree with jrwakefield - but, time will tell. I hope that you all have enjoyed a record breaking warm winter, free from bothersome snow. By the way, how much energy is involved in going to a La Nina, with ocean temperatures 2-3 degrees below normal, from an El Nino with ocean temperature of 2-3 degrees above normal. Just explain that energy shift in terms of carbon in the air. Or, how do you explain it in the context of a theory that is so rock solid that if you challenge it, you are an idiot?

Are you actually looking for serious answers to those questions?

Saudi raises price of crude to US customers

Looks like the Saudi's are moving most of thier crude nearer to the WTI benchmark by adding up to $2.30 cost per barrel to the US market. Seems like more aversion to the dollar. Anyone shed any light on this?

Variety API April March Change
Extra Light 38.5 -0.30 -2.60 2.30
Arab Light 32.5 -3.75 -5.40 1.65
Arab Medium 31 -7.65 -8.35 0.70
Arab Heavy 27 -11.60 -11.35 -0.25

Dante at PO.com posted this snippet from Energy Intel (subscription only, alas)

Europe, Asia Happy With Saudi Term Prices, US Is Not

Energy Intelligence Briefing (Thursday, March 6, 2008, 22:31 GMT)

Refiners in Europe were very satisfied and those in Asia were just satisfied with Saudi Arabia's term formula prices for April, as they somewhat made up for disappointing March levels. US refiners, on the other hand, might decide to ask for lower volumes from the Kingdom, as they claim they cannot make much money at the April differentials.

How the Saudis price oil: http://www.thefreelibrary.com/SAUDI+ARABIA+-+Saudi+Export+Pricing+&+Mark...

Saudi Aramco, whose pricing system is followed by most exporters in the Middle East, insists that the buyers of its crudes are refiners and will under no circumstances be resellers. It has a dynamic marketing unit, which applies formula pricing for crude oil sales adjusted monthly to the following benchmarks and markets: (a) the Brent Weighted Average (Bwave-1), which covers the extended trading session as the basis for its crude sales to Europe and gives protection against price distortion; (b) Dubai/Oman for the east of Suez, and (c) spot WTI for the US and the Bahamas.

Thanks to both of you. I learn a ton of interesting stuff here. I suspect as many here do that SA is covering for production trouble.
So given that SA is willing to use it's block exporter power and the influence it exerts on it's neighbors, is it not effectively throttling back US supplies in this way?
Does it not show further mistrust of where the dollar and the US economy is headed? Is it targeted ELM?

From above link: The Fed Fed Oil Inflation, Not OPEC...This link that Leanan posted led me to a speech Bernanke made prior to becoming 'Head of the Fed'...Bernanke proves by remarks in this talk that he is very aware of what effects inflation is having on oil prices now...and what effects inflation had on oil during the 1970s-80s. Ben even goes so far as to give Volker the credit for stopping the inflation in 1980-82 by vigorously increasing interest rates and reinforcing economic order, but that was a painful ordeal. Meanwhile, why should OPEC supply more oil for dollars that have been inflated while near term prospects are for yet more inflated dollars because more interest rate cuts are coming? OPEC is acting as any prudent business should. I do not know if OPEC still has capacity to increase oil production significantly but I doubt they do. Point is, there is no incentive for them to produce more oil and trade it for deflating dollars. OPEC wants a stable dollar, not an inflation degradeable one.

Remarks by Governor Ben S. Bernanke
At the Annual Washington Policy Conference of the National Association of Business Economists, Washington, D.C.
March 25, 2003

A Perspective on Inflation Targeting

...snip...'The upshot is that the deep 1973-75 recession was caused only in part by increases in oil prices per se. An equally important source of the recession was several years of overexpansionary monetary policy that squandered the Fed's credibility regarding inflation, with the ultimate result that the economic impact of the oil producers' actions was significantly larger than it had to be. Instability in both prices and the real economy continued for the rest of the decade, until the Fed under Chairman Paul Volcker re-established the Fed's credibility with the painful disinflationary episode of 1980-82. This latter episode and its enormous costs should also be chalked up to the failure to keep inflation and inflation expectations low and stable.'...snip...

Sounds to me as though Bernanke is only theoretically independent, although that may be due to my poor understanding of the American system.

He may be hanging on until after the election, hoping that he can convince the incoming President that he or she can get away with a shock early in their Presidency whilst blaming it on their predecessor.

Anyway, it doesn't sound like an ideal set-up to firmly control inflation, when he seems to know quite well the action he should be taking but is either unable or unwilling to take it

I had a full time well paying job and a large marine engine business (big boats) when Volker took action to restore credibility to the Fed. It was a tough time to be in the marine engine biz. :) My job supported the biz for a couple of years then things gradually got better. Bernanke is feeling tremendous pressure from investment banking and Treasury to pull their fat out of the fire. He is between a rock and a hard place.

Bernanke's academic reputation was made in large part by his studying of the Great Depression. If I understand Bernanke correctly, it is his belief that the Fed failed to reduce interest rates fast enough following the '29 crash. I think he also believes that the Bank of Japan failed to reduce rates fast enough after the real estate crash there. In both cases, according to Bernanke, long-term economic problems resulted from the central banks' failures to respond aggressively enough to promote growth.

In the current criss, there is a significant chance of a systemic collapse. Bernanke realizes that, and he is acting on his studies of the depression in the 1930s and the current problems in Japan. I don't think he is so much ignoring inflation as that he is scared shitless and doesn't want to be the central banker that some future academic criticizes for not responding aggressively enough to promote growth.

My personal opinion is that Bernanke is wrong, both about the Great Depression and the current crisis. Thus, he is doing the wrong thing at the wrong time, and will end up making the problem much worse, even if he is successful at goosing the markets enough to prolong the collapse.

My understanding is that there are approximately two states that the Fed can intentionally help to induce:

State 1: Inflation
State 2: Deflation

If deflation continues while the interest rate passes to and through zero, we've entered a regenerative liquidity trap. There are no rules for escaping this mode, and thus it must be avoided at all costs.

Even though some things are inflating, other things are deflating (housing) and real wages are low and have been decreasing, so there's wage deflation. (US).

Typically generals are perfectly trained for the last war, and the next war is usually not the same as the new war.

We're probably seeing something old and something new (dragflation? RuPaul?) (Peak Oil? duh!), and nothing will make sense until it's been over for a while.

As you say Dr. Bernanke may be wrong in his analysis and wrong in his efforts. Given the feckless, flaccid, self-aggrandizing nature of the entire rest of this neocon ClusterFunPack I think it's all we're going to get.

Good luck to us all.

Bernanke sits in his office on top of his desk, lights off, with his legs in the full lotus position, meditatively rotating a claw hammer in his hands and pondering the awe inspiring numbers and types of nails in the world.

Bernanke has his hand on the thrust control, but if three monkey are fighting over pitch, yaw, and roll there is little he can do to avert disaster. The loss has already occurred and we're now in the early stages of cleanup, a cleanup that will take a decade or more as leverage is unwound, businesses fail, and people adapt to having less of everything.

Whatever Bernanke's reputation may be, he is an economist. The realities of engineering and science are not foremost in his thinking. The few economists I've read over the years don't seem to be able to connect with the energy problems we've faced before and Bernanke may not either. For most situations, what's most important in the short run is whether an individual or company can obtain enough energy, specifically, oil, to do what is desired. Many industries were able to pass on the costs of the oil thru increased prices for their products. The folks that really suffered were those without the ability to pass on the costs, such as the poor, the old and the farmers.

Back about 1974, I asked a university economist how much inflation would result from the price increases after the OPEC Oil Embargo. He had no clue. What we got then has since been called Stagflation. We saw the same thing again after the Iranian Crisis in 1980. Looking back at those situations as models for today's problems misses the fact that those periods were short term disruptions, as the flow of oil resumed and the price eventually returned to rather low levels after the Saudis flooded the market in 1986. If, as many on TOD think, this time there won't be any increase in production, the price isn't likely to decline very much, absent a major recession/depression. I've seen references in the media to a new round of "Stagflation" being underway. I think the MSM "economists" don't get it.

Mr. Bernanke may be trying to solve one problem in the banking/finance world which will make the longer term problems worse. The notion of applying a quick cut in interest rates to be followed by an increase in interest rates to squelch inflation after the financial world is stabilized misses the linkage between shortages in energy supply and inflation. Keeping the banks solvent and the financial markets working won't do anything to resolve the larger problem of oil (or energy) supply, unless the Government is able to force some serious changes in direction. Trying to keep the economy going will mean keeping the demand for oil higher than it would be in a recession, when we will need to begin reducing demand by applying both conservation efforts and building new energy systems to replace the old ones. I think a recession would be a good thing, as it would send a strong message out to the people to start the changes. I've yet to see any serious discussion from the politicians about beginning to turn the ship away from the icebergs on the horizon. Worse, after last year's energy legislation, it appears to me the politicians may be thinking that the problem has been solved.

E. Swanson

All our leaders at the moment are operating from false premises, they have believed the rhetoric about oil being sufficient through to 2030 at least, and think that the major challenge is to restrict fossil fuels, or not according to political taste, and not to deal with a shortage.

To the extent that oil is seen as a problem, it is as a security issue, not an absolute shortage.

The penny will drop eventually, but they are still all fighting the wrong war.

So I agree with everyone's sentiments, and agree that economists are not scientists (at least not real ones; they do use calculus though).

But a liquidity trap can turn into a Giant Gaping Hole in the financial Universe. It's a damn Dirac foot-stamp in the heart of the beast.

Economists don't know how to restart one of these failures.

This is a really terribly bad situation and we've been betrayed by the people who were supposed to be keeping the country running correctly. And someone sorta even voted 'em in, somehow.

Alan Drake, looks like your "Light Rail Now" got a shout out in Treehugger today:


Nine of eleven benchmark crudes now over $100, with 8 of 11 over $105.

It shouldn't be long now before new oil rushes to market driving prices down below one yergin.

Sorry to post and run, but I've got to get to work.

An important article and book:

"The Three Trillion Dollar War" by Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes looks like an important read.

Think about the cost of caring for the vets of Gulf War I, and then the costs of caring for the Vets of Gulf War II. The authors give the staggering numbers.

But wait, there's more: calculating the full costs of our "short little Cakewalk" and "Mission Accomplished" has bankrupted the USA, and made us feared and hated rather than respected and loved throughout the world, ensuring the need for increasing military action and costs.

What else could we have done with those resources? Lester Brown talks about this -- I think it is linked up at the top.

Off to do more work for American dollars. But this will be fun! I am repping the only electric vehicle that I know of at the annual Minneapolis auto show -- the Zap Xebra.

Do what you can to be the change we need to see.....

I just reviewed the data reg. world car production including SUV and minivans.

2006: 4.124.303
2007: 5.028.807
That's a 22% increase.

2006: 1.375.380
2007: 1.577.119
That's a 15% increase

2006: 8.127.597
2007: 7.742.386
That's a 5% decrease.

Yes, demand destruction is taking place in the US. But who cares? Take the big picture.
China and India combined have more than 2.5 Billion people, desperately waiting to buy a car. The combined production of 6.605.926 cars per 2007 is just the beginning. It takes less than 3 years when the car production in the US in comparison is just miniscule. Nobody then will ever talk about "demand destruction" anymore.

do you have a link for the data?

And no one knows for sure how much the Yuan is undervalued by-but everyone agrees it is a lot.

Moreover, it appears that China's fleet is seeing a disproportionately faster growth in SUV's and other gas guzzlers.

"Sedans accounted for three-quarters of the January figure, while sport utility vehicles (SUV) sales jumped 60.5 percent year on year to 32,000 units, nearly twice as fast as the industry average. "


Thanks to rainsong for posting this article yesterday.

I've previously noted that oil consumption in 1939 was higher than in 1929, showing a small dip only in the worst part of the Great Depression. Of course, this time period corresponded to the fast growth in the demand for cars, but the key difference between now and then, IMO, is that in the Thirties, millions of people wanted to drive cars for the first time, while today billions of people want to drive for the first time.

Matt Simmons noted back in 2005, when he was attending some event in Africa, Kenya I believe, that the streets were unbelievably crowded with cars and scooters--while the price of gasoline at the time was the equivalent of $5 per gallon.

Do you have a link for that? Thanks. I believe it since so many people live out in the suburbs with few convenient possibilities for mass transit and crops that are grown in particular parts of the world and then shipped long distance, etc. While I've met a lot of people who have talked about selling their house and buying a condo. downtown, I've met no one who actually did that. No demand destruction there until they lose their job and/or the house gets foreclosed. More people I think are going to farmers markets and trying to buy local, but the vegetabes in my local Whole Foods are still from Argentina in the winter and California in the summer.

I saw relatively few scooters or motorcycles while I was in Kenya. There are lots of cars though, many of which are the matatu (vans used as shared taxis). There are lots of bicycles used in some areas like Kisumu, but I saw very few on the road in Nairobi. I wondered at the time if there was a law against bikes on the road in Nairobi, or maybe traffic was just too dangerous.

Here's numbers for 2006, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automaker
Some numbers for China, http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reportinfo.asp?report_id=342765

It seems this info is proprietary and costs money to obtain. I will continue looking.

Page two of this small pdf is good, http://www.scotiacapital.com/English/bns_econ/bns_auto.pdf

Googling for a few minutes found the above. Much more is likely available.

Yes, but before we all panic, let's remember that in countries like the US and Japan, young people are no longer that interested in buying cars. (see WSJ article last week about young Japanese not wanting cars and NYT last week for article on young Americans who don't feel urgent need to get a driver's license and car). In Japan, actually, car sales PEAKED in 1992! That is quite some time ago---been declining ever since. But older people in their 50s here, they drive like mad---the big cars, and you can imagine them 30 years ago, feeling just great about their new cars.

But the point is that younger people don't drive big luxurious cars or have quite the same attitude about their cars. In general, young people have a good ability to discard the things that prevent them from getting on, that is why I think we're seeing young people more and more really indifferent to cars in Japan and US. But in China and India this same phenomenon will also occur, just much faster. The cycle will occur with greater rapidity. with less luxurious and powerful cars to "drive" it forward. With less money to change the infrastructure to the point of no return.....with less economic structural change to unwind later. So billions of people may never drive and may never even want to!!America is the car capital of the world (one third of all the cars in the world, I believe) and even as Americans stop using cars that much, other countries may not replace them. IMO.

Hello Leanan,

Thxs for the toplink:

Asia fuel oil storage glut could trigger casualties

Singapore's fuel oil market, a major driver of world prices, is facing its biggest shake-up in more than a decade as a near doubling in storage capacity could lead to big players controlling more of the fragmented industry.
IMO, we will burn thru the FFs faster than we will burn thru the depleting I-NPK because I hope to see a countervailing rise in O-NPK recycling, but Bart's Peak Phosphorus HL may yet prove me wrong.

But I think this trend to hoarding by stockpiling FFs is already happening with sulphur--recall earlier posts on China's 90% import requirement and panic buying while huge stockpiles continue to grow in NA and other places, and the NZ sulphur price zooming from $50/ton to $900/ton.

It is also much cheaper, if one ignores the enviro-costs, to pileup mountains of sulphur vs building huge petrol and LNG tank farms. How quickly will this hoarding trend progress to where the BigBoyz make a huge financial move to stockpile I-NPK?

As posted before: I hope Richard Rainwater, Warren Buffet, Vinod Khosla, and other Peak Aware Venture Capitalists quickly fund a huge buildout of transcontinental Federal Reserve Banks of I-NPK so that everyone so concerned can stockpile a personal multi-ton hoard to be later traded for vital grains. The O-NPK SpiderWebRiding recycling scheme I envision can hopefully provide the local availability of vegetables and fruits.

As posted before: I remain a fast-crash realist, but working for Peak Outreach and mitigation ideas to avoid the worst. Time will tell.

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

Eek and double eek.

New research shows that CO2 emissions must be near zero to stabilize the climate.

Hydrogen sulfide in the oceans and atmosphere turned the sky green and choked off oxygen for plants, animals and marine life.

It may be time to get out the pruning shears and start giving OTHER people vasectomies as well.

"$100 oil hurts, just like a recession

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- All of those people that believe high oil prices will hurt the economy may be onto something."

I'm one of those people that has been posting comments to the effect that if the price of oil remains relatively high for too long it would have a recessionary effect. That's not from blind speculation, but rather from experience. I lived through the 70's recession hit by high oil prices, and yes the economy was not as resolute then as it is now, so the slowdown may have taken a little longer to take effect, yet it still happened for the same reasons. Fact is the economy didn't rebound in the 70's recession until the price of oil dropped down, and then it slowly rebounded. The reason oil dropped in price at the time is because OPEC raised oil production levels, which it now appears to be resisting.

We are now facing the same type of fuel prices, adjusting for inflation, and its dragging down productivity due to stagflation - higher prices with the same income level. Either incomes need to go up, or oil production rises to reduce the cost of products or we continue to slowly descend deeper into a recession.

Cheap fuel is the lubricant of quick mass production, while expensive fuel is the slow grinding wheels of industry.

I like that quote

"Cheap fuel is the lubricant of quick mass production, while expensive fuel is the slow grinding wheels of industry."

Clearly defines using energy for building things vs consuming energy with things already built.

12 month moving average price of WTI


Goodbye $65

Did anyone notice the huge spread between the last trade on the NYMEX and the closing price? The last trade was $104.10 but the contract closed at $105.15, a spread of $1.05. About the largest spread I have ever seen before today was around twenty cents. Usually it is only pennies. The closing price, or settling price, is the average price of all contracts traded "at the close". But I know if I went short "at the close" and sold my contract for $104.10 found I was down $1,050 immediately after making the trade, I would be pissed.


Ron Patterson

I beleive that they average at least the last 2 minutes and possiby 5.

Running on Renewables

Late last year, a German economics ministry experiment showed that distributed power can indeed produce reliable baseload in a secure and reliable manner. Thirty-six decentralised renewable plants - a mix of biogas, wind, solar (photovoltaics, or PV) and hydropower - were linked by three companies and a university in a nationwide network controlled by a central computer.


Since it was cloudy and not very windy, they seem to have run it mostly on biogas, so I am not sure how impressive this is, but it is an experiment well worth doing.

Hi Dave,

The experimental network, capable of producing about 50 megawatt hours of electricity a year - 61% from wind (12.6MW of peak power), 25% from biogas (4MW peak), and 14% for PV (5.5MW peak)

Argh! As I said a few days ago, I wish writers could properly distinguish between MW and MWh because the numbers don't add up. If this network is intended for base load duty and there are 8,760 hours in a year (8,784 in a leap year), it should have produced far more than 50 MWh.

Edit: I see the author corrected this mistake further down in the comments section; the actual contribution is 41 GWh/year which suggests the network produces an average of 47 MW in continuous operation.


Hi Paul,

The Combined Power Plant consists of three wind parks (12,6 MW), 20 solar power plants (5,5 MW), 4 biogas systems (4,0 MW) and the pump storage Goldisthal (Output: 1.060 MW; Storage: 80 hours, i.e. 8480 MWh).


The Combined Power Plant is scaled to meet 1/10 00th of the electricity demand in Germany using renewable energy. This scale corresponds to the annual electricity requirements of a small town with around 12 000 households, such as Stade.

And here is the Technical paper:


All the Terawatt hours you could wish for here!

I have to do everything for you! :-)

Thanks, Dave. This micro-grid concept makes sense because each renewable plays to its own strength... PV when it's hot and sunny, wind when it's cold and blustery and [storable] biogas and pumped storage to help fill in the gaps. Presumably this would allow an IPP to negotiate a FFP contract on more favourable terms.


M-I-C... K-E-Y.... M-O-U-S-E.... Err, sorry, a little childhood regression.

I am sure the IPP and the FFP's will be very happy together, but you are rather ignoring the ITPC's and MCX's aren't you?

Off Topic; Request:

HereinHalifax, or anyone - Do you have a software program for creating ladder diagrams in the HVAC field ?

I'm slogging through Google, but have not made any serious progress in finding a source.

My email is specified on my bio page.


No, sorry, RBM, I wish I could help you out but I don't. Good luck in your search!


Financial doomer porn on Lou Dobbs Tonight.

"The problem is wealth is disappearing. It's going bye-bye. Billions of dollars have gone to money heaven."

Did Dobbs say that?

Lou is taking the night off. There's a sub.

Iraq announced plans to double oil production within two years.


Back in October, when oil prices were near $90 a barrel and the economy was still humming along economists said high oil prices shouldn't cut into economic growth - despite widespread public opinion to the contrary. The economy used oil more efficiently than it did in the 1970s, and spending on gas was just a small percent of people's budget, the experts said.

Fast forward to March and you've got a sputtering economy, and economists saying $105 oil deserves a big part of the blame.

I agree with the Nobel laureates who, themselves, feel Economics isn't worthy. It's more fantasy and supposition than Psych is, for chrissake..



I agree with the Nobel laureates who, themselves, feel Economics isn't worthy. It's more fantasy and supposition than Psych is, for chrissake..


That brought this to mind... which I thought was pretty funny, and indeed shows what this laureate thought of economics....

Stephen Colbert interviewing Dr. Peter Agre (a nobel laureate) of Scientists and Engineers for America.

Stephen Colbert: “You said ‘anyone who grew up on a farm knows that evolution exists’. OK, are you saying a monkey can milk a cow?”

Peter Agre: “Well, if I can milk a cow I suspect a monkey as smart as I am can milk a cow.”

SC: “Are there monkeys as smart as you?”

PA: “I’m sure there are quite a few, quite a few.

SC: “Oh really? Mmhum. Do they give a Nobel prize for throwing your own feces?”

PA: “……..That’s the Economics prize, I think.”

Yea, Friedman and Hayek were on a flight across the Atlantic, after a successful policy of cutting social services to the needy. While toasting a glass to the continued suffering of the unwashed masses, the pilot came on and said they had lost one of the engines, but not to worry, the flight would just be delayed a bit, and they could make it on one engine.
Friedman turned to Hayek " I hope we don't lose the other engine, or we will be up here all day".

Do we laugh, or do we cry?

Because this is how people think...

check out this thread at metafilter.

only mention of peak anything is in the google adds.


seems odd because that site is where I found the link for Stuarts work on ghawar about a year ago.

I'll leave a link to here.

Don't know if anyone saw this, but it is a good article.

Blowed Up Real Good

Before I became a wheeler-dealer online stock trader (eight years paycheck free!), I made my living building and running large computer models of oceans and atmospheres. The bigger and more complex the model, the greater the chance of "something going wrong" (i.e. the model becoming numerically unstable). This means some or many of the model values would go to infinity, whereupon the programs would halt.

It was a numerical, not a physics, problem. Though journal editors didn't like me describing how some particular model had "blowed up real good", they had started generating values (of say velocity) which went exponentially larger in an explosive way.

Typically, just before the models would go berserk, they would start exhibiting unusual behaviour. This meant they would develop swings in value, both in time and in "neighbouring" grid points.

The swings would amplify and then something else would go unstable. Things that shouldn't correlate (move together) often started to quite strongly.


Led by cheap energy and technological advances, a long period of economic integration is now under stress. I see a potential process of dis-integration ahead. Lots of "paper promises" by large institutions are breaking down. There've been recent recent bank runs and halts on fund redemptions. The underlying economic model shows signs of breaking down (or breaking up).

Big institutions are under pressure to prevent a global meltdown. Personally, I see the unfolding crisis as beyond anyone's understanding or control. That's certainly what the timeseries data says to my eye.

How bad the crisis will get, what form it will take, or how long to unfold are anybody's guesses, but I wouldn't count on government to supply your basic needs in ten years or so.


Nassim Taleb would love this...it is the essence of a Black Swan. Events which models cannot account for...the unknown unknowns that cause exponential effects.

I wonder if he has ever read TOD.

But we can't imagine the Black Swan event, or it wouldn't be a Black Swan.
But in ten years, I don't think the zeros and ons one some hard disk will matter.
But maybe they will.

Alabama County 'Walks Away' From Margin Call

Another ill harbinger of things to come. This time an Alabama county DKs a derivative account gone bad:
Jefferson County, Ala., which is struggling with the turmoil in the municipal-bond market, rebuffed demands by four banks yesterday to come up with $200 million to back a derivatives trade gone bad.
The banks have demanded that the county post additional collateral because of losses on derivatives contracts it entered into over the past several years. The contracts, known as interest-rate swaps, were meant to lower the county's borrowing costs and protect it from spikes in interest rates. But critics say the county was speculating.
Two hundred million dollar margin call for a county? WTF were they thinking? Has the idea of prudence in money management gone out the fu*king window everywhere?
--From the Agonist

The CEOs of the banks are called to account before Waxman, the bond insurers are scrambling, and methinks this is going to land on some harder than others. The bond insurers are undoubtedly pushing the idea that they're as much victims as the customers of these "imaginative" financial instruments are. If municipalty who faces a margin call simply says "Lawyer up, yo!" what does that do? They might eventually lose, but it shifts the burden back to commercial interests that are more directly facing the slings and arrows of economic fate.

Or am I confused about this? Its going to get political and I think the relatively innocent municipalities and the bond insurers get a lot more sympathy than those who concocted the problem instruments.

Just being from Alabama, and trading on margin, one must have some compassion for the poor ignorant fool.
The twisted minds of these people putting together theses financial instruments does give one respect for the creativity of the human mind.
Intention and morality are another matter---

I think dumbasses are pretty evenly distributed, statistically speaking. There is ignorance in rural areas (curable with education) and there is also a financial sorting, with those more capable of understanding making more money doing so. Before Birmingham, Alabama there was Vallejo, California ... and no statements have been made regarding the capabilities of the residents there :-0

This will hurt some people, but one hopes it lands hardest on those who profited the most from it.

If you want to see a Black Swan swimming gracefully into the enemy's swamp, watch this video.

(Hint: Bush at a renewable energy conference 3/5/08 lauding "recycled cooking grease" as the answer; and yes, Ethel-nol)