DrumBeat: March 14, 2008

Oil for China, Guns for Darfur

China's thirst for oil is causing bloodshed. So says New York-based nongovernmental organization Human Rights First, which on Mar. 13 released a report linking China's rising imports of Sudanese oil with sales of Chinese small weapons to Khartoum, used to further the deadly conflict in the western region of Darfur. The report is part of a broader campaign called Made in China: Stop Arms Sales to Sudan, timed to coincide with the runup to the Beijing Olympics in August. "China's huge appetite for oil from Sudan filled Khartoum's coffers, enabling Sudan to buy Chinese arms," says Betsy Apple, a Human Rights First program director and author of the report. "It's a toxic oil-for-arms relationship." Apple says the group is calling for China to halt arms sales to Sudan immediately.

Gas bills ate your rebate

Rising pump prices means a big chunk of your check could end up stimulating an economy far from America's.

Peak Oil Passnotes: Owned (by China)

One of the special items President Bush pointed out was that sovereign wealth funds – many of them from the middle east - should be allowed to buy up assets in the U.S. “because it is our money anyway,” he said to his only round of applause and much laughter. “We might as well get it back,” he added.

Of course what he means was the money owned by sovereign wealth funds is money that the U.S. has spent on importing oil – as well as a little bit of LNG – from the region. The very idea that a sovereign wealth fund should not be allowed to buy into the U.S. would at first light seem an odd one. After all the U.S. economy is based on the premise that it has something to do with ‘free markets’. Any half awake observer knows this to be false.

New Zealand - Govt to oil explorers: You pay

Government subsidies to boost exploration in the oil and gas sector are off the table in the face of record oil prices of US$111 ($135) and the vast profits reaped by the major oil companies in recent years, Energy Minister David Parker says.

Market's 'energy policy' is working its magic

"Gasoline prices are going higher, and there's no end in sight!" Have you heard that lately? It seems like every news story on energy begins with those fateful words. Then we hear that gasoline consumption fell for the first time in 16 years, and that mass transit ridership is up. I can just hear Robin chiming, "Holy gas guzzler, Batman, what's going on in this market?"

Quite honestly, if you're an economist -- and we all are -- you know exactly what's going on. Individuals are simply making decisions based on their own self-interest, and collectively, those decisions alter the supply/demand equation for energy. Environmentalists who scream for lower energy use may not agree with the market's methodology, but by golly the market sure knows how to get the job done.

Tunnel vision

The spectre of peak oil makes the case for roads even more difficult. While the Brumby Government is not prepared to offer a view about when oil is likely to start running out, the Queensland Government estimates it will begin by 2017. If Brumby were to decide to back the tunnel project this year, it would still have to go through years of planning, environmental impact assessments and tendering before work started. By, say, 2010 or 2011, the idea of building a major new road through the middle of Melbourne may well be looking a little dated.

State tells Duke Energy to stop selling fixed-payment plans

Customers already enrolled in the plans will be allowed to continue. But the commission says no new customers can be added.

The programs allow utility customers to pay a flat fee every month, regardless of how much energy they use. The fee is determined by their past use of electricity.

That's risky for both the utilities and their customers because customers may pay more or less than their actual energy use would otherwise require, the commission says.

Ukraine seeks end of gas intermediary

KIEV, Ukraine - Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko on Friday hailed a natural gas agreement with Russia and said she will continue to push for elimination of an intermediary company in the complex gas trade.

Brazil flex-fuel cars help tame gasoline prices

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - A massive new fleet of flex-fuel cars in Brazil has prevented state oil company Petrobras from charging more for gasoline despite record world oil prices, the company said on Friday.

Why OPEC Won't Boost Oil Supplies

The Bush Administration could be working on the assumption that the Saudis and other allies could quietly increase production unilaterally, and relieve pressure on prices. After all, OPEC output quotas are hardly effectively policed. But analysts believe that assumption may be false. Priddy believes Americans might be unfairly pinning the blame on oil-rich countries. "They want to find someone to blame and Gulf countries aren't popular to begin with," he says. But producers are contending with rising production costs, while extracting oil has become more difficult as land-based wells with plentiful reserves have been depleted in many places, leaving expensive, complicated deep-sea drilling as the best hope for tapping massive new reserves.

Gas, diesel rocket to new records

NEW YORK - The rally in energy prices gained momentum Friday, with retail gas prices rising further into record territory and diesel and heating oil futures setting records of their own amid concerns about strong global demand and tight supplies.

Crude oil prices fell modestly as a downturn in the stock market and worries about the economy prompted some profit-taking. But with the Federal Reserve expected to cut interest rates again next week, analysts expect the dollar to weaken further, propelling crude to new records.

Norway frets over StatoilHydro environmental impact

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway's Environment Minister Erik Solheim expressed concern on Friday about the environmental impact of investments by oil group StatoilHydro in countries including Canada and the United States.

Solheim told Reuters that StatoilHydro, which is 62.5 percent state owned, should follow the same environmental standards abroad as it does on Norwegian oil and gas fields -- a move which would boost costs for the $97 billion energy group.

GE, Wal-Mart chiefs renew 'green' vows

(Fortune) -- Jeff Immelt, the chief executive of General Electric (GE, Fortune 500), was getting defensive - and for good reason. "Look," he protested, "I've never voted for a Democrat!" Immelt went on to insist he's getting a bum rap. "I work for investors," he said.

Speaking Thursday at a Wall Street Journal conference on business and the environment, Immelt had come under attack for what was called a "big government" solution to climate change, namely mandatory federal regulation of greenhouse gases.

Shell: Energy dialogue report for Peak Oil (PDF)

The Myth: We’re running out of oil. The “peak oil” theory came up in nearly every market. While this wasn’t necessarily surprising, the pervasive nature of this strongly held belief was. Similarly, in a related survey that we conducted, more than half of the respondents said global oil production will peak within the next 20 years. This leads people to dismiss oil and gas from being part of the future energy portfolio. Also not surprisingly, we found that few people were aware of the scale of untapped domestic resources on the Outer Continental Shelf, or of the huge undeveloped unconventional resources, such as oil shale, oil sands and heavy oil.

The Reality: Oil resources are out there, should we choose to develop them. When individuals think of peak oil, they tend to think that a sudden drop in global production follows soon thereafter. We don’t expect to see this on a global level. It is possible, though, that we will reach a plateau in the next few decades, followed by a gradual decline of conventional oil and gas production. There is no shortage of molecules of oil and gas in the ground. However, there are multiple influences that will affect the pace at which this can, and will, be developed.

OPEC Says Refiners May Cut Operating Rates on `Poor' Margins

(Bloomberg) -- Refiners around the world may cut operating rates in the coming months, reducing crude oil demand, because of ``poor'' margins, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said.

``The recent strong builds in gasoline stocks in the U.S. and elsewhere should cause the poor performance of refinery economics and encourage refiners to trim crude demand and refinery throughputs,'' OPEC said today in its monthly report.

Gas prices sustain record run

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The nationwide average price of gasoline set another record Friday, according to the closely watched survey conducted for the motorist group AAA.

The average price of regular rose overnight to $3.28 a gallon, according to AAA's Web site. That's more than a cent higher than Thursday's record and was the fourth all-time high hit in as many days.

Where Is The Economy's Breaking Point?

When oil was climbing past $50, $60, $70 and even $80 a barrel, the big question was: Where is the breaking point for the economy?

Now with the economy staring down a recession (or in a recession, depending on your view), oil is at $110 per barrel. And some economists are saying the price is now beyond that breaking point -- and the duration of higher prices and the resulting impact on gasoline prices will be a big factor in the economy's ability to shake off its sluggishness.

Thailand: Urgent talks as diesel tops $127

The Energy Ministry is seeking an urgent meeting with the National Energy Policy Council to address the sharp spike in diesel prices, after refined diesel hit US$127.08 a barrel yesterday.

Liberals 'deceptive' about nuclear plans, NDP says

The NDP is charging that the McGuinty government is not being honest about the amount of nuclear power it's planning for Ontario.

A document outlining the process for companies to bid on new reactor construction says the province may need nearly four times the nuclear power previously suggested.

The government's power plan says the province needs a minimum of 1,400 megawatts of new nuclear power. But it's asking the companies competing for the contracts to bid on a project creating much more than that.

Venezuela’s Refining Woes

Fires, accidents, and unplanned maintenance shutdowns have become commonplace at Venezuela’s refineries. The problems are symptomatic of the ailments afflicting state-owned oil giant PDVSA: lack of qualified personnel and a shortage of cash. And if PDVSA (which operates all domestic refineries) cannot reliably manage its existing refineries, how will it ever hope to expand its domestic refining capacity beyond the current 1.28 million barrels per day?

Public Transport crisis feared in Jaffna peninsula

Sri Lanka Electricity Board (SLEB) which supplies fuel and oil to Jaffna Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) has informed that it may have to suspend supplies to Jaffna SLTB if the arrears of 51 million rupees due is not paid, Koa’ndaavil SLTB head office sources said. Already 40 buses in the three depots of Jaffna SLTB are not functioning due to lack of spare tires, and if SLEB suspends supply the entire bus service may ground to a halt, the sources added.

Though 374 tires have been allotted to Jaffna SLTB they remain in Colombo because related authorities have failed to arrange shipment of the tires to Jaffna due to lack of funds to pay the ship fare, sources said.

Thailand - PTT: Trim diesel reserve to 10 days to avert shortage

Market leader PTT Plc has urged the government to cut the required diesel reserve to 10 days' supply from 18 days in order to avert a possible shortage of the fuel. The Department of Energy Business currently requires oil traders to set aside amounts equal to 18 days of their average trading volume in crude oil and refined oil products.

The reserves are required by law in order to ensure secure supplies.

Argentina Creates Gas Incentive Plan, But With Price Catch

The Argentine government's Energy Secretariat Thursday authorized higher prices for gas obtained through new or untapped, hard-to-reach gas reserves, although the measure leaves the door open for continued government intervention in the price.

The "Gas Plus" plan, outlined in Resolution 24/2008 in Thursday's Official Bulletin, had been announced in general terms Monday by Planning Minister Julio De Vido.

The plan aims to boost the stagnant supply of gas as the nation faces a fourth straight year of gas shortages in the coming winter.

Average gas price for Europe could rise to $400 in 2008 - Gazprom

MOSCOW, March 14 (RIA Novosti) - Gazprom's CEO said on Friday that the average price for natural gas for Europe in 2008 could reach $400 per 1,000 cubic meters, 13% more than previously expected.

"The price in Europe now exceeds $370. We believe the average price in 2008 could be $378 and could even reach $400 per 1,000 cubic meters," Alexei Miller said at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Miller said the price hike was necessitated by the weakening U.S. dollar. However, he said the price increase would not affect the growing demand for natural gas on the European market.

The great coal run, steelmakers feel the pinch

WINDHOEK - Indian steelmakers were this week reportedly paying US$600 for a ton of imported coking coal after the price shot up from US$200. As steelmakers the world over became very concerned about the cost and supply of coking coal, the world's second largest steelmaker, Nippon Steel was forced to cut its profit forecast.

Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus, owned by Tata Steel, warned that higher coal prices would push wire rod prices 'substantially higher' for deliveries from April 28. Corus, which has already raised wire rod prices by between £70 and £90 a ton on deliveries from March 31, is unable to specify the level of further price increases due to the uncertainty in coal prices.

Eskom’s demands creating a boom for coal producers and problems for local industry users

Power utility Eskom has identified low coal stocks, together with poor coal quality and wet coal as the key culprit of the current energy crisis South Africa is experiencing. South Africa has been hard hit by power cuts that forced mines to shut for five days during late January.

This hunger for coal has led to a rise in the local price of coal, that is hitting other industry users of the energy source hard.

Bangaldesh: DMC students take to street to protest power outage

Several hundred students of Fazle Rabbi Hall of Dhaka Medical College (DMC) blockaded the city's Bakshi Bazar intersection for about three hours last night protesting frequent power cuts.

There was no power at their dormitory from 6:00pm to 11:30pm. They took to the streets around 9:00pm and stayed there until 12:00am.

During the demonstration, the students set fire to tyres on the street and blocked all four roads of the intersection in front of their dormitory.

Workers Stage Widespread Strikes against Pension Reform

A series of strikes orchestrated by Greece's largest unions has caused traffic gridlock in Athens, left tons of garbage uncollected and could cause power outtages in days ahead. The unions are protesting potential pension reforms that might raise the retirement age and cut social benefits.

A Natural Gas Disaster

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Few things better illustrate the tragedy of Latin American populist and nationalist politics than the crisis related to natural gas in South America. A region endowed with vast reserves and governments that describe themselves as close partners is mired in crippling power shortages and cross-border disputes over cutbacks in the supply of natural gas. People cannot count on consistent service.

Globe 2008: Canada missing green opportunities in Mideast

With rich countries in the Middle East starting to go green, huge opportunities have opened up for environmental consultants and suppliers.

But rather than flocking to places like Saudi Arabia and Dubai, Canadian companies have been sitting on the sidelines, delegates to the Globe 2008 conference heard today in Vancouver.

Carbon Capture in the U.S. Faces Hard Realities

Although carbon capture seems like a good idea on paper, few projects get beyond the drawing board.

Jersey Senators Help Thwart Offshore Drilling 100 Miles from Coast

WASHINGTON – During the March 13 Senate debate on the nation’s budget, U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez and Frank Lautenberg (both D-NJ) “helped beat back a threat to the environment and economy of the Jersey Shore,” according to a release.

The senators helped lead the effort to defeat an amendment offered by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) that would have paved the way for drilling off the coast of Virginia, which includes areas less than 100 miles from the Jersey Shore – close enough for spills to affect New Jersey beaches.

Squeezing safety into small cars

There's no denying physics. All things being equal, a larger, heavier vehicle will protect its occupants better in a crash than a smaller, lighter one. For this reason, front crash tests can only be compared between cars of similar size and weight.

But larger, heavier vehicles require more energy - and therefor more fuel - to move. The physics of fuel economy are at odds with the physics of safety.

If you're shopping for a small car to save gas, it's especially critical to look for one with every safety advantage possible, says Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Output higher than demand, OPEC says

LONDON–OPEC is pumping more than enough oil to keep consumers satisfied and a potential U.S. recession could mean lower demand for its crude, the group said on Friday.

OPEC, in its monthly oil market report, said there was little risk of a rise in oil demand growth forecasts given the slowing economy of the world's top fuel consumer.

Despite record prices above $110 a barrel, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries still expects global consumption this year to expand by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) to average 86.97 million bpd.

Soaring oil spells real trauma

Eighteen months ago when the guys at Goldman Sachs were forecasting that the price of oil would go to $100, it was widely dismissed as nothing more than the bank talking its book.

Today, with oil hitting $110, the markets have changed their tune. Now the idea of oil at $150 or even $200 is not sneered at. It is seen as possible.

$200 Oil Is a Very Real Possibility

A decade or so ago, sustainable energy was thought more in terms of availability relative to the rate of use.

In today’s global economy however, with the constant growing shortage of energy and in light of great demand from the emerging markets, there is clearly growing concern as to how the energy needs are being addressed and what’s being done in prolonging energy sustainability prospects. This includes the overconsumption factor, which consequently elevates the risk of resource depletion.

Global “Oil Shock” Rattles World Stock Markets

Global investors are plowing money into crude oil, because the longer-term fundamentals are bullish. The International Energy Agency is predicting that global oil demand will rise 2% this year to a record 87.5 million barrels per day. And a growing number of oil investors subscribe to the “Peak Oil” theory that holds to the belief that the global oil supply has already maxed out at 85 million per day.

With gold futures hitting US$1,000 per ounce, more investors seeking out shiny metal

Two elements will continue to contribute to a rising gold price for the foreseeable future, he said. The first one is a rising oil price.

"Production is in decline. We hit peak oil production apparently in February 2006 ... (Meanwhile) demand is rising" in North America, China, India, Russia and Brazil.

"That situation isn't going to be corrected in any way in the foreseeable future," said Barisheff. "Even if we found a huge oil field, it would take between five and ten years to get it into production."

The rising oil price has two implications. "It's highly inflationary because oil is used in everything we do or make or eat," he said.

Secondly, "over the very long term oil and gold are somewhat correlated in that they move in similar directions. And over a very long-term average, you could look at about 15 to one in terms of pricing," said Barisheff.

Should Oil Be Trading at $60 or $150?

Can the price of oil be blamed on commodities investors and futures traders artificially driving up values? While the price of crude oil was surging past $100 a barrel last week, Philip K. Verleger, Jr. was busily penning his latest letter, "Notes at the Margin," to the clients of PKVerleger LLC. Clarence Cazalot Jr., CEO of Marathon Oil, was in Verleger's lede and on his mind.

Maui drivers watch gas prices reach $4

WAILUKU, Hawaii - "Maui No Kai Oi" is a popular Hawaiian saying that means Maui is the best. Mike Sweeney recently moved to this idyllic island from Denver and was hit with the other side of living in paradise with his first visit to the gas pump: Maui is also No. 1 in gas prices.

HECO fuel charges up 21% in 5 months

As oil prices hit record levels, Hawaii businesses and residents are being shocked not only at the gas pump but at the electric meter.

Since October, the fuel surcharge that Hawaiian Electric Co. passes on to its customers has shot up 21 percent.

It now accounts for 57 percent of the average customer's bill on Oahu, with some Neighbor Island customers paying even more.

Powering the Future

Chances are you've heard of hybrids and biofuels, but what about oil-producing yeast and turbinelike buoys that transform ocean waves into electricity? Those are just a couple of the alternative-energy sources that may power the future according to Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund and coauthor, with Miriam Horn, of the new book "Earth: The Sequel" (Norton).

Russia's Surgut sees 7 pct drop in '08 oil output

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian oil firm SurgutNefteGas expects a further 7 percent decrease in oil output this year but it still expects new projects to come on stream, an agency quoted a firm's executive as saying on Friday.

Surgut, Russia's fourth-largest oil firm, is expected to produce 60 million tonnes (1.2 million barrels per day) this year, down from 64.5 million tonnes in 2007, Interfax quoted Ivan Kos, the firm's deputy chief geologist, as saying in the East Siberian town of Irkutsk.

Ukraine says seeking long-term gas deal with Russia

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine is seeking a long-term agreement on gas supplies from Russia's Gazprom, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said on Friday, after the two former Soviet neighbours resolved their latest energy squabble.

Qatar shipper aims to be largest LNG transporter

Qatar Gas Transport expects to add more ships and become the operator of world's biggest liquefied natural gas fleet by 2010 in a move that could drive down rates for shipping the fuel.

The company, known as Nakilat, will receive 45 of the world's largest LNG tankers from South Korean shipyards, Managing Director Muhammad Ghannam said in an interview in Bangkok Thursday. Kuala Lumpur-based MISC Bhd., currently the world's biggest LNG shipper, may add three tankers by 2009 to expand its fleet to 29, the company said on its Web site.

Gazprom buys into UK smart meters

Gazprom, the world's biggest gas group, has bought a stake in a British smart meter supply company, hoping the energy efficiency product will make its supplies more attractive to UK customers.

Ontario's Bruce Power talks of nuke plant for northern Alberta - Nuclear power could cut oil sands emissions

Bruce Power, a private nuclear utility that generates about a fifth of Ontario's electricity, said Thursday it has taken a step that could lead to construction of Western Canada's first nuclear plant.

Bruce said it filed an application with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission for clearance to prepare a possible site in Alberta's Peace River district.

EU leaders aim to seal climate action plan this year

BRUSSELS (AFP) - European Union leaders were set Friday to agree to enact an ambitious global warming action plan by early next year, in order to set the tone for international climate talks in 2009.

"It's a very good proposal and I believe that tomorrow we'll be able to support it by way of council (summit) conclusions. We must reach agreement in the first months of 2009 at the latest," Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, said after the first day of an EU summit in Brussels Thursday.

Blair leading team charged with securing climate change deal

LONDON (AFP) - Former British premier Tony Blair is leading a team of international environment experts backed by the United States and the United Nations and charged with securing a global climate change deal, he told The Guardian on Friday.

"There is a deadlock. Everyone is agreed where we want to get to, but unless you agree on the framework for getting there, you are left with a process and not a result," Blair told the newspaper.

Economist Strikes Gold In Climate-Change Fight

LONDON -- The planet is getting warmer. Richard Sandor, a 66-year-old economist, is getting wealthier.

His company, London-based Climate Exchange PLC, has carved out a key role in Europe's booming trade in "carbon permits" -- essentially, buying and selling the right to pollute. Since 2005, the European Union has required major polluters to either cut the amount of carbon dioxide they spew, or buy pollution credits in the open market.

Greens say carbon caps would boost Japan economy

TOKYO (AFP) - A leading environmental group called Thursday for Japan to set up a gas emissions trading system, saying it would not only dent global warming but also provide a "massive" economic boost.

Barroso vows to defend EU industry if climate talks fail

BRUSSELS (AFP) - European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso vowed on Thursday to defend industry threatened by competition from countries with lower environmental standards if international climate change talks fail.

The Impending Coastal Crisis

By mid-century, more than half of the U.S. population will live within a day’s drive of a coast or lakeshore. Once the realm of small villages and ocean-based economies, these areas are now heavily developed and populated with tourists and secondary homes. Many inhabitants appreciate the scenery, but assume shorelines never change. Geologists, however, see a different picture. Billions of years of geologic history have shown that coastal areas are the least constant features on the planet’s surface. Tropical storms (hurricanes) and extratropical storms (Pacific storms, nor’easters) devastate shorelines. In addition, the post-glacial rise in sea level enables storm surges to destroy coastal areas at higher and higher elevations each century. Fixed structures built on coasts with rising sea levels may be doomed.

A bit of levity this Friday morning before the serious discussions begin.

Peak Oil song (think country-western when you imagine the tune)

The price of oil is on the rise;
A hundred dollars, for the barrel size,
And now we're feelin' pain at the pump.
I love my truck, I do declare;
And this cost of gas, it just ain't fair,
So politicians pander from the stump.

I get up early for the morning commute,
Stop for coffee and a donut too.
Convenience is what I treasure best.
I take a look at the price of fuel,
And see a number that's mighty cruel.
This can't be, I angrily protest.

Three sixty-nine, three sixty-nine
A gallon of gas is three sixty-nine

A couple of months pass on by,
But the price of gas stays real high.
It absolutely will not retreat.
Day by day, I read the news,
And see a dozen different views
All about an oil production peak.

Seems we've used a lotta crude;
Can't grow more like we do with food,
And now the world is in a kind of bind.
My morning drive is changing fast;
No more snacks, just money for gas.
A bargain price is long and far behind.

Four eighty-nine, four eighty-nine
A gallon of gas is four eighty-nine

Costs 88 dollars for half a tank;
Much more of this, I'll break the bank,
So with a heartfelt sigh, I say goodbye.
Built Ford-tough but thirsty as hell,
I list her in the paper, priced to sell,
But not one call, no one wants to buy.

Times are hard and money's tight;
Foreclosures spread suburban blight.
Costs too much to hit the road and roam.
Summertime is comin' soon,
But instead of singin' a happy tune,
We all just hunker down and stay at home.


I actually wrote this last fall, before oil hit $100. Sorry for the crummy chorus. No, I won't try to sing it and post it on YouTube.

Speaking of levity, there is also today's Tom Toles editorial cartoon that relates our attraction to costly oil to Elliot Spitzer's costly attraction.

See it at:

(If anybody knows how to make a small size version of the cartoon appear here directly, please do.)

Greg in MO

That is a pretty good cartoon:

No link.

Persian Gulf Tanker Rates Drop as April Cargoes Fail to Emerge
2008-03-13 04:59 (New York)
By Alaric Nightingale

March 13 (Bloomberg) -- The cost of shipping Middle East
crude to Asia, the world's busiest market for owners, may drop
for a 10th day as cargoes expected for April fail to emerge.

Link here.


Thanks. BTW, as noted yesterday, all 11 grades of crude on Upstreamonline are over $100. Tapis is around a dollar or so short of Triple Yergin (one "Yergin" = $38).

Also of note, all contracts on the NYMEX settled above $100 yesterday. The lowest price to be found was the June 2010 contract, that settled at $100.79, everything else was higher.

Ron Patterson

China's on a little buying strike (they made a big deal of announcing they were not going to buy commodities at high prices anymore). The price will stall here and consolidate, their inventories will be down, and then they'll be buying again, having to make up for the strike, and causing the next leg up.

I have to say, China strikes me overall as being the worst trader in the world.

China's in charge.

Who do you think is crushing the Yen, to the BoJ's dismay.

"The Fed has been forced to replace the Japan carry trade. Only there is a serious problem with this: Japan has a gigantic FOREX reserves of our debts and currency. We have virtually no Japanese debts or currency in our own reserves. We have run on laughable reserves for years: $60 billion, more or less! All our trade rivals have much greater reserves. So they can adjust things at will vis a vis ourselves. Now, they can't keep our rates super-low anymore due to the US overspending being out of control. Japan alone, can't do this anymore. Despite heroically low rates that are far, far below the rate of inflation in Japan itself. Japan no longer controls 50% of our trade deficit. China has taken over that role."


China's in charge.

You may be right. Or maybe no one's in charge. I read an interesting 2006 paper from a Stanford guy the other day about China's predicament. He sees a limit on the amount to which they can allow the renmimbi to appreciate in value without causing a Japan-style deflation: http://www.stanford.edu/~mckinnon/papers/International%20Finance%20China...

Although Japan is still the biggest holder of US dollars. As of Dec 07, 24% vs China's 20%. But it looks like China is catching up fast


Any idea why? We may expect a drop in cargoes, but none?

Edit: May it have to do with the severe weather of last month? Maybe they have no place to store more product. Sounds unlikely.

Edit2: Or is April the assigned month to toast Iran?

I've been predicting March 31 for the last two years, if it's gonna happen. Have to do it at the end of the heating oil season. Ultimately far more important than summer gas, and also competes with far more important diesel and jet fuel in the cracking towers. Don't forget, Iraq was March 22.

Let's see: Cheney is touring middle east, Saudi Arabia(surplus oil production--ppfff!), Oman(bases), Turkey(bases, but they will say no), Israel(fighter bombers). Rice and Gates go to Russia next week.

Could be interesting.

Bear in mind that if the USA should attack Iran, it would be an action considered by the leaders of the USA to be in the best interests of their country. From what I can gather, they believe that the USA will be worse off if Iran produce nuclear weapons than if they move with extreme prejudice to prevent them being able to do so even if it sends the price of oil to the moon. Militarily, the USA is currently king of the Middle East, and must remain so to remain king of the world.

The date of such an event would become the most famous date in the life of every single person alive, and every single person to be born thereafter.
It would become considered as the date of "Peak Oil" down to the minute, as world oil supplies would never recover to that level, IMO.
It would become a date that makes 9/11 seem like a non event in comparison.

I would speculate (wildly) that DC is off to SA to deliver King Thing the bad news and advise him to take one last joyride down to Ras Tanura for a few snapshots while it is still nice and shiny, as a dozen Iranian missiles may be putting a few dents in it in the not too distant future...

Israel considers it in the best interests of their country to deal with the Iranians - they have said so repeatedly.

Apart from the close ties between the neo-cons and the Israeli's, politically there is very little the Americans can do to stop them, and so may have decided to act themselves.

"Militarily, the USA is currently king of the Middle East" This is so wrong, I don't know where to start. The US is a criminal, bankrupt Empire in its last death thros. Its hubris is its worst enemy.

Matt Taibbi of the Rolling Stone wrote an article explaining why the US Congress is so disfunctional:

Four Amendments & a Funeral
A month inside the house of horrors that is Congress

Actually, it was posted August 10, 2005, but I just found it yesterday. At the time it was written, the Republicans still had control of congress. Nevertheless, it's still worth reading - really explains a lot, and you can see why it's so hard to get a sensible energy policy passed. Indeed, the article begins with a focus on the outrageous Energy Bill of 2005. Read this, and you'll understand why we'd better not count on the US congress to find a way out of our various disasters.

Thanks - GREAT sobering READ. I enjoy Matt Taibbi when he's on Bill Maher's HBO "Real Time".


The sobering world of the corporatocracy. Very interesting article!

The big news on CNBC this morning is that Bear Stearns was about to go under. But J.P. Morgan and the New York Fed has stepped in to bail them out. And everyone is asking the obvious question, why is the Fed bailing out Bear Stearns? No link yet from google.news about the bailout but I am sure there will be plenty within the hour. This seems to be very big, or at least they think so on CNBC. I am not sure why?

Ron Patterson

Here's a CNN link:

JPMorgan, NY Fed throw life line to Bear Stearns

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- JPMorgan Chase said Friday it will team up with the New York Federal Reserve bank to provide short-term financing to the battered Wall Street firm Bear Stearns.

Bear Stearns shares plunged nearly 10% on the news.

I can't believe the stock market did not rally on this good news.

It did rally initially. Here's Mish's comment

Welcome to bizarro land!

Futures opened up green today. They should have been lock limit down on this news. A major broker dealer has to be bailed out by JP Morgan and the New York Fed and someone managed to think (fleetingly) that this was good news.

Lowering the lifeboats in good order may not be considered good news by people who were too oblivious to feel the iceberg hitting.

Just listened to BS conference call on Bloomberg.

First question: What is BS's(Bear Stearns, but BS will do) notional derivative exposure?
CFO's answer: I don't know off the top of my head, I'll get back to You on that.

To quote the Mogambo: we are so freakin doomed.

For a quick indicator at just how debased US currency/coin is, check out this, http://www.coinflation.com/

Mainly because the CEO has been shown to be a liar.

Banks have refused to accept bear stearns as a counter party.

I keep harping on Counterparty risk.


"None of Bear Stearns's trading counterparties have refused to accept the firm's credit, Schwartz said in the CNBC interview today.

Citic Investment

``We have direct dealings with all of these institutions, and we have active markets going with each one, and our counterparty risk has not been a problem,'' he said.

Citic Securities Co., the Beijing-based brokerage that agreed last year to invest $1 billion in Bear Stearns, hopes to make progress in talks about adjusting the terms of the transaction, Kong Dan, chairman of the Chinese company's parent, said today in an interview. Bear Stearns agreed last year to invest $1 billion in Citic, China's biggest brokerage by market value.

Dow down 260 points in the last 20 mins

Ilargi at Automatic Earth predicted as much at the March 12th (Wednesday's) issue of Debt Rattle:

Ilargi: Well, the real markets are not fooled, so much is evident. Let’s try to sculpt a prediction out of this avalanche of nonsense, shall we?

I’d say it may take until Friday for everyone to understand that TAFs and PAFs and what have you cannot possibly work. Can you say "solvency"? So as early as next Monday we can expect to see the first plans to just start buying the piles of stinky paper outright, with taxpayers' money, the so-called "nationalization of debt". Fannie and Freddie look like the ideal instruments to do that.

The idea is to transfer all the debt one way, from the private to the public sector, while at the same time sending money the opposite way.

Should make for an interesting St. Patrick's Day on Monday. May be the Vatican is on to something. Rather than being celebrated as a feast this year, it is declared to be a fast day.

Holy Week may be appropriatedly named as well. As in "Holy cow, Batman, the Joker is playing his number on the markets again!!"

St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland, but who will drive what out of America on Monday?

In a perfect world? The peasants would drive out the snake oil salesmen!!

Just as long as we can keep driving. That's all that REALLY matters!

the wiretappers will drive Elliot out of new york in their Yukons and I'm sure it will be carried live on squeak blab

Re: Why is the Fed bailing out Bear Stearns?

Easy: It's too big to let fail. The American system if full of this kind of subsidy for those that are big. It's those at the bottom that are allowed to fail because they do not have the economic or political power and don't make much difference anyway. The hypocrisy of the system is exemplified by bankers who are always condemning the little guys for too much debt all the while banks are the most highly leveraged businesses in the country. The bank's problem is that when the little guy fails the loss comes out of bank equity. The Fed's problem is that when a bank fails the loss is picked up by the Fed and so it doesn't let it fail. Perfectly fair isn't it?

While technically they are a bank, they are more of an Investment Bank and Brokerage House. They are not a bank in the same sense as JP Morgan Chase. From Wikipedia:

The company's business includes corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, institutional equities and fixed income sales, trading and research, private client services, derivatives, foreign exchange and futures sales and trading, asset management and custody services. Through Bear Stearns Securities Corp., it offers global clearing services to broker dealers, prime broker clients and other professional traders, including securities lending. Bear Stearns is also known for one of the most widely read market intelligence pieces on the street, known as the "Early Look at the Market - Bear Stearns Morning View."

How about that, the most widely read market intelligence pieces on the street! They specialize in giving market advice. Would you take market advice from Bear Stearns?

Ron Patterson

The bank's problem is that when the little guy fails the loss comes out of bank equity. The Fed's problem is that when a bank fails the loss is picked up by the Fed and so it doesn't let it fail. Perfectly fair isn't it?

Fairness? Another dynamic is at work here.

If you owe the bank a large sum of money (thousands of dollars) and can't pay it back, you have a problem. If you owe the bank an obscenely huge amount of money (billions of dollars) and can't pay it back, the bank has a problem.

What holds true for banks also applies to government.

x, you'll like this: the Onion on the Fed's bank bailout: http://www.theonion.com/content/amvo/the_feds_bank_bailout

The corruption is becoming a lot more overt-many of these firms differ from Enron just in degree of fraud, not nature of fraud. Enron shareholders should sue the Fed for not attempting to bail out their positions when they needed help (sarcasm).

What we have here, is a safety net all right. It's a safety net for corporations but not for individuals. Why? Well, for one, poor individuals don't make big campaign contributions or commission lawyers, pundits, demagogues, or lobbying firms. In short, anyone who's not a CEO or an investor doesn't matter.

People watching credit default swaps have known for a week that it was likely to be either Bear Stearns or Lehman Brothers (or still both yet) who are (will be) in trouble. The bets against Bear Stearns have been heavy lately.

The statement two days ago by the Bear Stearns CEO claiming all was well then today claiming that their cash position deteriorated significantly overnight smacks of lies of the highest order.

This is a direct consequence of an under-regulated, generally non-free market. Every time there is trouble, government intervenes on behalf of the bankers. In a true free market, government would not be propping up Bear Stearns and never would have even hinted at doing so. Because of that lack up support for risky actions, Bear Stearns would either be out of business or would never have taken on 33 times its total assets in leverage.

As St. Louis Federal Reserve President William Poole has stated, the very act of insuring these banks against such failures creates the "moral hazard" which urges them to take the risks that guarantee those exact failures. His February 29th speech about moral hazard is a good starting point for discussions about moral hazard.

There is nothing of which I am aware in the Fed's charter that allows it to take Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) as collateral for US debt instruments, yet it is doing so. There is nothing in the Fed's charter of which I am aware that would allow it to save Bear Stearns, yet it seems to be doing so.

When will people wake up and stop letting the few big guys stomp over all of the little guys?

Here's my prediction - most MBS is going to ultimately be transferred to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - i.e. on to YOUR backs. Meanwhile the jokers who created this mess get to keep the profits and walk away without one minute of jail time. As Lee Iacoca said, "Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder."

Why is this big, Ron? Bear Stearns is the 5th largest investment bank in the United States. If they fall because their "assets" are junk, then all of the banks are dead meat because they all hold the same kinds of assets.

I agree with your points, but unfortunately everyone now is just terrified of the whole lot coming crashing down, and considerations of moral hazard go out of the window.

And that will just create more moral hazard and more of the exact same behavior that got us into this ridiculous mess.

Yep-they are transferring taxpayer funds to these junkies without any oversight or agreement on future behaviour-remember Sarbanes-Oxley? Everything is the photo-op over any real substance. If you want a laugh check out the recent pay packets for the insiders at Citi-nice work if you can get it (destroying companies).

This is another shoe dropping...'Think the Unthinkable'...Notice how they reach for our wallets even before telling us the amount of the bill...Now we have true fear racing through markets around the world.

IMF tells states to plan for the worst

'Governments might have to intervene with taxpayers' money to shore up the financial system and prevent a "downward credit spiral" from taking hold, the International Monetary Fund said yesterday.

John Lipsky, the IMF's first deputy managing director, said: "We must keep all options on the table, including the potential use of public funds to safeguard the financial system."'...snip...

'Mr Lipsky said: "I fully recognise an appropriate role for public sector intervention after market solutions have been exhausted."

He urged policymakers to "think the unthinkable" and prepare now for what they would do if the worst case scenarios materialised and "low probability but high impact events" threatened to jeopardise global financial stability.'...snip...


And so we search for the line between TBTF and the not so big.



Any bank built on it's shopping center complex?


"After two years of managing the Truth To Power website and subsequent to many more years of researching domestic and geopolitical events and trends, it is chilling to witness so much of what "prophets" like Mike Ruppert, Matt Savinar, Catherine Austin Fitts, Richard Heinberg, Matt Simmons, Dmitry Orlov, myself, and many others have been forecasting for nearly a decade or longer. We are no longer prophets but truly historians, and yet I take no pleasure in the accuracy of these forecasts or in the fact that our dire predictions are unfolding before our eyes. When I use the word "chilling", I mean just that, while at the same time, I feel sorrow that so many are yet still so comatose to the reality of the cataclysm that is manifesting around them. While I feel fear and sadness for them, I have no energy now to expend on them. As most readers of this site know, my life is all about preparation and building community in order to navigate the inevitable.

This is why I think the deflationists are wrong. I agree with them that the economy must contract dramatically, but disagree as to how that will play out over the medium(18-36 months). It seems that many of them don't understand that rampant monetary inflation is ultimately contractionary, not a consequence of expansion(ask Cathy Buckle, who writes weekly missives from Zimbabwe).

This week the Fed papers over the systemic cancer sores with Treasury securities. Soon it will(must) be with actual currency. There is absolutely no limit to this in a fiat system. If they can't fit enough zeros on the face of the bill they will use exponents!

If there are laws or regulations obstructing it they will be changed to allow it. Ultimately all fiat currencies achieve their intrinsic value: 0. As the value of the currency approaches zero the inverse, prices, will approach infinity. Then it breaks and in no way is this a consequence of anything other than a collapsing economy.

The deflationists use examples of economies with strong currencies (USA 1930s, Japan 1990s) and extrapolate them to 2008 USA. The only thing preventing an all out trashing of the US dollar is China hasn't decided to let it happen (yet). There has never been one occurrence of a long lasting deflation in an economy whose currency is as structurally unsound as the US dollar.

Agreed. And I don't know if the mantra of deflation has really been true in Japan, other than for asset prices. I'd like to know from some actual Japanese folks on the ground what their cost of living is in 2008 vis-a-vi 1990. A mantra(Japanese deflation) is just like a big lie: if you repeat it enough people start to believe it, even those repeating it!

I have no doubt we'll see relative asset deflation continue here for some time.

Well, some assets have deflated. My brother-in-law's condo near Tokyo was worth half a mil in the mid 90s is only worth half that today. However, I was there recently, and it looks about the same is it did 10 years ago.

Housing in Japan always takes an automatic hit when it turns 10 years old.

Don't ask me why. Japanese just want to live in new buildings and have set the arbitrary limit at 10 years.

Grey: Yes, eventually the taxpayer is going to swallow some gigantic charges-IMO in the trillions before this thing plays out. I am surprised more people don't see this precedent for how serious oil depletion issues will be handled in the USA-as the ship slides, steal from the many sheeple to protect the few connected. How do people expect Mexico to deal with oil depletion-transform itself into Sweden? I could be wrong, but I think McCain is the next President-just another marker along the road.

Don't worry, they have a plan to hyper-inflate the bill until it is worth nothing.

All that this is likely to cost you is your pension, plus the money for the wheelbarrow to carry currency.

Plus all of the capital that might have been directed towards mitigation, such as building the nuclear plants you propose.

Analysis of problems that takes place outside of the analysis of the entire system in which they occur yields belief in solutions that are ultimately slain by externalities that have nothing to do with the original problem itself. Thus I have said for years that we have the technology to solve these problems. For peak oil that would be massive conversion to an electrical society, fed by wind, solar, nuclear, or whatever we choose from a fully rational analysis of what is needed. But that is not what is happening. Instead we get political boondoggles like ethanol which in turn slams into agricultural production for human food usage which in turn slams headlong into climate change and other resource depletion.

You are not the first pro-nuclear person to visit this site and others have made their cases better than you but in each case they analyze in the micro, without regard for the macro.

It's not a question of "can we" but rather one of "will we" while we face multiple other converging crises. And while I agree that we can, there is so far no sign that we really will address any of the oncoming horsemen of the apocalypse with any seriousness until after it arrives. And that will be too late. Even politicians who know about these issues counter with the question of "how will it get me elected in my next election cycle?" Thus they are tied down and cannot look beyond the immediate election cycle and are unable to devote the time to any longer term issue until it arrives.

But what if it was an asteroid, say of 10 miles across size, headed for earth with a hugely high probability of impact but not due for 20 years. Do you think the politicians of the world would act? I don't. And that would be something that was a clear threat. When there are less clear threats they simply are going to ignore them until forced to address those threats by their voters. And the voters are going to ignore those longer term threats because that is how we evolved and because there are perceived shorter term threats that are "more important" right now.

I agree that we can probably build the reactors you propose but will we? Will we do it responsibly? Will we do it safely? Will we have the capital? Will we have the social stability to allow us?

The seizures of the global financial system right now, coupled with how bad it could become are, in my mind, a very bad sign. If we lose the stability of the existing financial system at the precise moment in history when we most need it to tackle other problems, we may never get the opportunity to try to mitigate peak oil or address GHG emissions and climate change. That's one risk that underlies economic Armageddon.

I agree that we can probably build the reactors you propose but will we? Will we do it responsibly? Will we do it safely? Will we have the capital? Will we have the social stability to allow us?

The simple answer to that is: I don't know.

And neither does anyone else, doomer or cornucopian.

But what is the alternative to trying? There is no folly like despair.

And on another note I would emphasise that I feel a response has to come on many different levels, with conservation at it's heart, followed by nuclear as we happen to know how to do that, and vigorously pursuing renewables, as they hold out the hope for much better power systems if used where they are appropriate.

I may be regarded here as simply a nuclear advocate, but that is simply because the other two measures I would support are not in question here, but many seem determined to throw away the nuclear option when that could contribute greatly to avoiding greenhouse gas emissions and powering society.

The least it will do is buy us time to develop renewables further. Many exaggerate the present ability of renewables, or try to persuade that it is economic to use them where that is not the case, in particular by the frequent confusion of the installed capacity against the actual output of renewables, which is often relatively low.

It would be the shame of the world if we should either give up trying, or throw away the chance of victory in pursuit of an ideal solution.

Some may say that we should not be worrying about cost, but it is clear that, as you say, the money to do anything is going to become very tight.

The only thing I have against the scheme in the UK to build 33GW offshore, 10-11 GW average hourly output, is the cost, £66bn - I doubt we will ever be able to build it.

My other chief fear is that relatively small sums of money will be slashed which might develop technologies like hot rock geothermal and high altitude wind.

You are not the first pro-nuclear person to visit this site and others have made their cases better than you but in each case they analyze in the micro, without regard for the macro.

I am not even sure what you are advocating here.
Just give up, secure in the knowledge that we have made the right 'macro' assessment?

All I suggest is that we try to do what is obvious and sensible - put in residential solar thermal heating and conserve first, and not get ourselves into such a tizz over the dangers, real or fancied, of nuclear energy that we heat the planet up 3 degrees and all starve. I can't see how the dangers of nuclear energy can be greater than that, nor does it seem wise to speculate that we can just throw that option away and go for renewables only in the present state of technology.

What alternative do you suggest?
I refuse to give up, were the odds ten times worse.

Well I'm with you on a number of counts, Dave.

1. Nuclear is still a very promising option and should be put to best use. It's been rather safe of late and the technology keeps improving.
2. We shouldn't rule out reasonable options that help reduce our dependence on FF and has a lesser carbon impact. In my opinion, nuclear is part of that.
3. We shouldn't just roll over and give up. The crisis really hasn't even started to bite yet and there are people just stepping up to punch their cards.

Eventually we must face reality. "Hope" doesn't do jack squat in reality. What we can do and will do is what really matters.

In my opinion, global civilization is headed for a serious collapse. Collapse, as defined by Tainter, is a move from a higher level of complexity to a lower one. I believe that this is already inevitable primarily because of who and what we are, how we evolved, and consequently how we react to immediate versus long term priorities.

This will, in turn, leave us facing a critical decision - triage. Most people on this blog still pretend that we can save everyone everywhere and that it can all turn out fine for the vast majority of people.

Fine. Continue to believe what you wish but you will ultimately be faced with making triage type decisions. Do we save city A or city B because we simply can't save both. Do we abandon third world nations C and D to mass starvation and genocide or do we squander limited capital on them that could better be used to save ourselves?

My suspicion is that a great many nuclear reactors are going to get built but that global population is going to decline by several billion over the course of this century. And that's a pretty horrific thing if it occurs when you really think about it. Asia, for example, is packed full of humanity, well over 3 billion of us on one continent. These same 3 billion are reaching for early 20th century lifestyles, burning the coal, using the steal, damning and polluting the rivers, destroying vast forests with acid rain, all exactly as we did in the United States and Europe 70-100 years past. And the fruit of that folly is the current extent of global warming. So what will be the fruit of 3 billion more doing the same destructive things?

I'm not suggesting giving up at all. But I am suggesting that we realistically assess our available resources, our own behavioral models, and decide if it is even realistic to think about trying to save everyone everywhere.

If the climate reality continue to accelerate away from the IPCC worst case models every time they publish an update, at what point do you conclude that things are in far worse shape than even our generally accepted worst case? What happens if decline is as fast as Bakhtiari and Ace have projected rather than the nice slow descent hoped for by those who think the entire world will behave like the United States?

In a world of declining critical resources, we won't be able to save everyone.

Triage. Remember that word. When that word finally breaks into the general consciousness, maybe we'll have a chance. Or maybe by then even triage will be too late. But right now this blog and many people on it are doing the same dance that Wall Street is doing - pretend, pretty please, for one more day that it can turn out ok. Please! But as Wall Street is discovering, sometimes you cannot save everyone. Sometimes you have to start separating who you can save from who you cannot save.

It is my opinion that very soon the same lessons are going to be brutally taught to all of us in areas outside of finance, in areas that mark the boundaries of our very survival.

Most people on this blog still pretend that we can save everyone everywhere

I can think of a few happy, happy, joy, joy type folks, but mostly people here have internalized triage.

I've been making Iowans squirm. They're all aglow over ethanol ... and delighted that we're going to completely remove fossil fuel inputs ... but when I talk about food stress and my suspicion that corn ethanol is just a roundabout method of instituting triage, and one liable to backfire on us ... well ... I'm only slightly more popular than Mr. Rapier in those moments.

Its bad enough we have to have this talk at all, but having it with a quarter of the country believing some supernatural event will save them from the unpleasantness and half ready to blame troubles of their making on scary brown people in other time zones? Meh ... it'll all blow up in our faces because we can't talk rationally about cause and effect.

Triage is a medical term, with 3 classes of patients. Two classes of which get no treatment other than palliative (pain killers) because one class will die regardless of maximum efforts and the other is denied treatment because they will "get by" and live without treatment. EVERYONE get pain killers.

One inherent assumption of triage is that maximum efforts to deliver medical care are being made. Another assumption is that EVERYONE gets care as soon as medical resources match the demand.

In *NO WAY* can we be said to be making "maximum efforts" to save everyone. The USA is not even making minimal efforts.

You seem to want to assume god-like powers to perform diage, "You shall live" and "You shall die" while reclining comfortably on a sofa, instead of busting your butt working 18+ hours/day at significant personal sacrifice to save as many as possible.

You distort the moral meaning of triage and advocate a path that will lead to atrocities, for who has the wisdom to decide who shall live and who shall die ?

Best Hopes from Baltimore & DC, where I have been doing my best for over 2 weeks now, with some success,


AlanfromBigEasy, having been trained to do actual triage in the army, with all the psychological training and simulation it entails, I'm sure GreyZone did not intend to use the term in its strict medical sense, but more metaphorically.

For example giving up on your hummer because it is simple not possible to have both a hummer and heating for your house. Or our society having to give up a level of complexity in order to sustain itself on a lower level. There is no longer a question of if we have to do it, but how are we going to do it. It is the age old problem of having to choose between evils before reality chooses for us, and we humans aren't very good at that. We want to have the cake and eat it.

As to your ad-hominem about god-like decisions, lets see just how naive that is. We in the western lifestyle world (which now include most parts of the world) are and have always been raping the rest of the world and its population to maintain out precious standards of living.

We already make decisions tantamount to triage in this respect, exporting resources and plaguing other countries with our pollution and war for our own benefit. The world is squandering its resources while its population expands. Ethanol is being burned as alternative fuel in our hummers to keep our gas bill low at the expense of the rest of the world starving on high food prices. If that not triage then I don't know what the f is!

Yet we insist that all must stay alive for the benefit of our consciences. Thus we export little charitable scraps of food to developing nations too keep yet another generation of starving children alive, forever crippled by lack of proper nutrition in their youth, while they can keep exceeding the carrying capacity of the land they occupy and stop the soil from ever recovering. All this only because we cannot bear to watch the people die as a consequence of our gluttony here. But neither can our gluttony be sacrificed to guarantee sustainable lives for a proportion of these people and their environments. Therefore the scraps we choose to push down our tables must be divided equally among them all so that all just barely stay alive. What are those lives are worth?

People who do not want to think about real world problems of triage just shout 'Feed the World!'. Just like a normal person makes the mistake of carrying the bloodiest, the most hopeless cases first to the ambulance while delaying the treatment for those who might have a chance. I think that is the essence of the triage metaphor.

Triage, just like amputation, is a very misunderstood term, and I would recommend using them only with people who aren't shunned at the idea of making rational decisions in seemingly hopeless situations. In an ideal world and community it might be right and good to raise accusations based on irrational and arbitrary pseudo-christian morality if that community had approved such a system of morality.

But in a world with seven billion people soon and no resources for them things like that just turn on themselves and become harmful. Human dignity and the value of a human lives declines as population grows. For further information see Dr Bartlett's lecture on Arithmetic, Population & Energy for the Isaac Asimov's 'freedom of the bathroom analogy' or just read Dune by Frank Herbert.

The original point made was that people who propose technological solutions to resource depletion, often claim that they can maintain current or higher world population levels with at least current western living standards. Those of us who have done the math see these claims as hopelessly flawed and propose a more realistic goal with lower population and lower living standards (and predictably we are vilified as luddities and nazis for this). But people have to accept the fact that we are past the point where we could've opted for nice 'fluffy' solutions.


'Ransu the planetologist' (not god, yet)

Those of us who have done the math see these claims as hopelessly flawed and propose a more realistic goal with lower population and lower living standards (and predictably we are vilified as luddities and nazis for this).

Some of us have indeed done the math. We have just arrived at a different answer to you. I don't know if we will make it through, but fossil fuels apart, we would have only ourselves to blame if we do not ,as resources seem adequate.

And I have never held that those who genuinely hold a different opinion are nazis - now luddites....:-)

I don't generally have to doubt the math of the people in TOD, but rather factors and assumptions behind them. Of course resources seem adequate - if you assume mainly vegetarian diet, no personal transport, local production of everything, electrification etc. All these things are good - yet people are selling snake oil solutions, with blinking advertising: 'technofix with current standards of living!'

And things might look neat on paper without current reality factored in. But lets just see how many nuclear power plants, national rail networks and electrification projects you can build among the current economic and political turmoil. Setting your goals should consider not just 'what is possible' but also 'what is doable'.

I don't, and neither do you I expect, really believe that there is going to be some major spiritual change from the gluttony'n'greed world of today’s consumers and politicians to some awakening of the rational man to do all these things. Rather, we are going to be hurdled from crisis to crisis, with emergency management of each event as it comes.

Our current society doesn't have a mechanism to estimate the future and act upon those estimates. Thus it remains our job as individuals to make those estimates and act upon them with the consideration in mind that society won't necessarily move with us. So for example planning for your own life and the community around you should include the possibility that there won't be a functioning nation around you.

We won't be doing any nuclear power plants or national electrification projects ones we hit the steep downward slope after the peak oil. I would send people books on permaculture rather than assure them of false hopes about everything being ok with this and that techofix...


Ransu the luddite!

I don't generally have to doubt the math of the people in TOD, but rather factors and assumptions behind them. Of course resources seem adequate - if you assume mainly vegetarian diet, no personal transport, local production of everything, electrification etc.

That is to shift the ground of the original argument you were making, which originally said that those who disagreed with your conclusions either ignored or had not done the math.

Not all those who disagree with you would think that we have to have no personal transport and so on either.

We won't be doing any nuclear power plants or national electrification projects ones we hit the steep downward slope after the peak oil. I would send people books on permaculture rather than assure them of false hopes about everything being ok with this and that techofix...

This seems to me to be more a product of your own assumptions rather than the result of some mathematical calculation as you initially sought to imply.

Peak oil will not make things easy, but a whole range of outcomes seem possible, from warfare leading to obliteration, to a dynamic adjustment, although not without considerable difficulty.

With respect, I don't know and neither do you.

To imply some 'inevitability' about this or that conclusion would seem to me to be going far beyond what is demonstrable.


I don't know if we will make it through, but fossil fuels apart, we would have only ourselves to blame if we do not ,as resources seem adequate.

Bingo! It's not what we can do but what we will do! And right now the gap between can and will grows daily. Take Alan's electrification of transportation stance. The work he did with the Millennium Institute indicated that following that path guarantees economic growth, vastly reduced reliance on fossil fuels, and vastly reduced emission of GHGs. It's one of the most rational scenarios I've ever seen discussed in terms of outcomes. Yet we're not doing it. We weren't doing it last year, or the year before, or the year before that. And we won't be doing it next year or the year after that or the year after that.

Look at the nuclear build problem. Can we? Very probably. Are we? Nope, not yet. Yes there has been a tiny bit of movement in that direction but most of the movement, as you documented yourself, has been back towards coal with all the negative environmental impacts that will bring. Nuclear, can we? Yes. Are we? No. Will we? I don't think so at the current rate of adaptation, at least not on a scale that will save everyone.

I said this to Alan a long time ago. Focus on New Orleans. Save what you can locally first then branch out from the lowest levels upwards. Trying to save everything top down is not going to work because the very social systems we constructed to get us to where we are today will fight the very changes needed to get us to where we need to go.

It's really not up to us to know whether success or failure will ensue, we can only do as much as possible, then Inshallah as some would say.

My hope is that the penny will drop and then we stop fannying around with more or less imaginary risks and put some vigorous action into avoiding the very grave dangers we face.

My sorrow is that many millions of people in Africa and elsewhere seem pretty much guaranteed to die, regardless of whether we manage to get by in the West.

No Alan, I do not want those powers at all. I am simply telling you that by the time that humans DO react in any meaningful way, triage will have to be applied. You, yourself, just admitted that we are in no way, shape, or form moving towards any sort of maximized response to these converging issues. What if we don't respond until 2020? Until 2030? Many people on this blog were absolutely sure that $100 per barrel oil would trigger a crisis response yet it's still business as usual!

Nate has written extensively about evolutionary psychology, short versus long term priorities, and how humans make decisions. Right now, today, the United States is busy pursuing a path that, if Stuart's numbers are correct, could lead to horrific levels of starvation globally just so we can continue to drive our SUVs!!!

Alan, you know that I have backed your electrification of transportation arguments from the first time I heard them. Electrification of transportation is another one of what we can do. But will we? Are we yet? You regularly decry shutdown projects, cut spending, and other such events that push back any rational response. Do you seriously think things will be just as salvageable when the world is producing 50 mbpd and has a population of 7.5 or 8 billion instead of 86 mbpd for 6.7 billion?

At some point, we'll have to recognize the difference between what we wish we would do and what we actually will do, especially as we squander year after year of warnings without any serious response to the problems headed our way.

IMO, Europe, Scandinavia and Japan will be leading and the USA will be following maybe 20 years behind-IMO the persons that control the USA prefer the current scenario so oil depletion responses will be delayed. Once China decides/needs to transition from FF they will do it 10 times as fast as the USA can.

Absolutely spot-on, Brian.

For a variety of reasons the USA will be a laggard.

They are over-stretched militarily, over-spent by both government and privately,and are much more deeply tied in to the car culture than most places.

They also have better fossil fuel resources than most others,so can delay more, and have deeply damaged their capacity to rapidly build some of the needed power stations.

Many seem sure to continue to use inappropriate risk assessment criteria in regards to nuclear power, when the danger of not having low-carbon energy greatly outweighs any conceivable risk.

I do not know how much of the silicon manufacturing is now located outside the US, or steelmaking, but compared to China it would not seem to be in as favourable a position to rapidly transition.

It seems clear that the period of Anglo-Saxon dominance will have lasted around 200 years from the battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

My suspicion is that a great many nuclear reactors are going to get built but that global population is going to decline by several billion over the course of this century.

Damn, the things people believe. Our civilization is so wealthy now we're turning food crops into fuel for vanity, and we're on the brink of a population implosion?

And that's a pretty horrific thing if it occurs when you really think about it. Asia, for example, is packed full of humanity, well over 3 billion of us on one continent. These same 3 billion are reaching for early 20th century lifestyles, burning the coal, using the steal, damning and polluting the rivers, destroying vast forests with acid rain, all exactly as we did in the United States and Europe 70-100 years past. And the fruit of that folly is the current extent of global warming. So what will be the fruit of 3 billion more doing the same destructive things?

Wealth, knowledge, and a civilization reaching towards the stars.

"There is nothing of which I am aware in the Fed's charter that allows it to take Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) as collateral for US debt instruments, yet it is doing so. There is nothing in the Fed's charter of which I am aware that would allow it to save Bear Stearns, yet it seems to be doing so."

Apparently, it's a little known law from the 30's. More parallels?


Sorry, Lee, we're all screamed out.

I agree, It's upsetting, they are for free market and non intervention when things are good and profits are flowing for a minority. But when things go bad, federal agencies have to help and everybody has to carry the burden. Free market dictates that Bear Stearns should go bankrupt and disappear simply because they have made bad choices.

They love to spin the "free market" story but it is very inaccurate. It is very difficult to borrow large sums of money from any bank when you are levered 30, 40 to 1. In fact, no bank run like a business would ever lend you money. In reality, this practice is widespread, and has been for years (if you have the right connections).It is a consequence of the separation of ownership of capital and management of capital, along with a cultural change and zero government oversight. Enron was not being run to benefit the shareholders, and Enron (which was facilitated by these same firms) was a model that never left.

It's really big because it indicates that other banks might fail too. Bank runs and panic, etc, etc, spreading wildly from fund to fund as investors seek to bail out. Yikes!!

The upside of ethanol from corn?

Like many here I was pretty concerned about this process taking away from food supplies for people around the world.

Further reading of some of Gail's excellent posts cast a rather different complexion on it though.

Gail’s essential argument, if I have it right, is that a large adjustment is needed to correct the US balance of payments, either through default or inflation, and that consequently the ability to import will be greatly restricted, including oil imports even if they are available.
Furthermore the grid is in very poor condition, so the ability to move large amounts of power around even if it could be made available through, say, the construction of coal power plants would be limited.

Under this scenario the fact that large areas of land are already under crops intended for fuel means that it is hopefully possible to power the agricultural machinery needed for agriculture.
I don’t know if that machinery can be powered by ethanol, or if a change of technology to produce biodiesel would be needed, hopefully the former as it would reduce the capital needed to carry on producing food.

In addition biofuels would enable balancing the grid in a localised power system, for instance if you look at many of the states in the US they are not dissimilar in size to Germany, where the following experiment was carried out recently on powering up with solely renewable energy:

In an pilot experiment featuring 36 renewable energy power sources (11 wind, 4 biogas CHP units, 20 solar systems and a pumped storage power plant) all linked by a central control unit, the Combined Power Plant project demonstrates that most, if not all energy demand can be met exclusively by renewable energy.


(download the pdf’s for the real nitty-gritty)

As can be seen, without biomass the grid would not have balanced, and the US may not be able to afford to upgrade it for the present at least.

As for the wind component, there is this:

Weak dollar combind with rising Euro makes US made turbines 30% cheaper than they were just a while ago.


(See Jim Berry’s comment)
I have no idea if this is accurate – anyone know?

Anyway, the US has a far better wind resource than Europe, and the relatively fast build of wind turbines may make it more practical from a financing point of view, as the financial markets will be strained, to say the least- trying to build super-grids under those conditions may be more problematic.

Anyone got good figures on the costs and payback times for long-distance power transmission?

And from the same article:

The co-authors noted that three of California's largest investor-owned utilities, PG&E, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric, within the past year have announced new geothermal plans. This comes as no surprise as average geothermal electric costs are between 4-7 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Again, it is important in the sort of financial environment we are talking about how long it takes to build the plant – info anyone?

So it seems that the much-maligned (by me as well as others!) move to using crops for fuel might in fact help the US feed itself if imports cannot be financed.

Thoughts and info most welcome!

It looks like a post I was seeking to reply to got deleted, probably because it quoted in extensio.
If anyone is interested, here is my comment on the points made - I hope they still make sense!

Biomass is obviously unable to provide anything like the current demand for liquid fuels.

However, I am arguing a much more limited case, that agricultural machinery could be so powered, and that in rural areas it might help balance the grid - but it could be supplemented by natural gas, which is not going to run out quite yet.

I think your EROI criticisms of ethanol are well-founded, and in fact the German experiment used biogas, which they feel does a much better job in this respect and which they have very considerable experience in:


As for your comments on the distributed nature of solar and wind power, that is less important in a rural setting.

Solar is indeed the weak link, as it is very expensive, at least in the form of PV which needs less up-front costs compared to the larger scale thermal installations, but there is almost nowhere in the US with as bad a solar resource as Germany, where the study I referenced was based.

Of critical importance to the prospects for solar in the US if Gail is right and imports are restricted is where the solar panels come from - I suspect China, and if so expanding solar power in the States might be rather difficult.

It is the single area though where most improvement can be hoped for, and with the excellent solar resources of much of the US is certainly not to be discounted.

Micro-hydro power might also make a contribution in some areas.

What I am seeking to investigate is whether a localisation of the grid, as the present one is not very good, could at least ensure adequate food - powering the cities is another thing, but eating is after all the most important thing.

The cities would need to be powered somehow though, as the windmills and the rest of it needs to come from somewhere, and powering them is a more difficult problem.

The long lead times mean that financing nuclear power under the conditions Gail gives would be difficult, and I don't know how much of the technical expertise needed to build new plants is located in the US, for instance in Westinghouse, although the fairly large number of plants there means that a reasonably large pool of expertise in some areas at any rate remains.

Transporting coal, aside from concerns about CO2, would be difficult.

My guess would be that there would be considerable movement of people from areas with little energy such as the South-east to other areas where materials and energy could be accessed to build the trade goods for the food from the heartlands - people cost less to move than coal.

A lot depends on how expensive building a better grid would be.

That is really the thrust of these posts, to argue that some localisation of the grid will occur to provide power to ensure food supplies.

It looks like a post I was seeking to reply to got deleted, probably because it quoted in extensio.

That, and because the order has come from on high: cjwirth is not allowed to post any more links to his for-profit web site.

Here is the rationale for my initial support of corn ethanol and my ongoing support of biofuels in general. We are suffering from an infrastructure that relies on one energy source -- primarily oil. The more diverse your infrastructure, the greater number of options you have, the more likely you are to be able to navigate a time of trouble.

A bit of a divergence, but concentrated solar power has been a huge interest to me recently. Currently, we have an NPR broadcast running on CSP at http://www.whrv.org/home/ (stream at 89.5).

In short, they're talking about CSP being competitive with natural gas prices now in California and Arizona. One company is building a CSP plant in Arizona with both a CSP array and the capability to thermally store solar energy for up to 6 hours. The site is 3 square miles and produces 250 megawatts.

These plants are designed to compete against combined cycle gas plants which generate at peak periods. This is a load following capability that can service a broad range of applications.

Now there is a discussion about a solar plant with 16 hours of storage which would provide a base load capacity.

One other element that is enhancing the value of solar energy is the fact that costs are far more predictable based on the fact that there are no fuel costs. With current fuel volatility, these means of generation are becoming a lot more appealing to utilities especially in the southwest.

They're also looking at integrating wind and solar CSP to add a thermal storage element.

That is essentially a similar argument to the one I am making for, if not ethanol, then the advantage of having already a system which has land set aside and may increase the robustness of the supply of fuel for the agricultural sector, and provide it where it is needed, in the event that Gail is correct and imports are greatly limited.
We were certainly scratching our heads when we tried to figure out how to power tractors and so on just on electricity.

Solar thermal is one of the most promising technologies we have, and also in hot areas tracks well with peak load.
It is a bit immature to properly assess, as certainly in the plants which are actually running costs are still relatively high, but they are more or less in the way of prototypes.

An area which is particularly immature is storage, where Ausra for instance hope to store the steam, whereas others hope to use molten salt and other technologies.

I would certainly welcome a post which considered the different solar thermal alternatives, costs and obstacles.

In the context of the present discussion where we are assuming that the US financial system encounters severe difficulties it should perhaps be noted that it suffers from the disadvantages that it uses a lot of materials and that costs are mostly upfront and come in quite substantial 'blocks'

In addition cleaning the mirrors, which cover a considerable area, uses quite a lot of water, rare in some of the best areas for solar thermal and expensive to pump.

Residential solar thermal suffers from none of these disadvantages and can be as simple as coiling a hosepipe and leaving it on the roof.
It is nearly criminal that it is not more widely used, and could on it's own greatly reduce residential energy use.

In a perfect world, I don't think we'd use corn for ethanol. That said, things are getting pretty dirty and distorted out there. So I think corn ethanol is an interim solution with obvious consequences.

Short term, I don't think there's any way to power farm infrastructure on electricity only. I've never seen an electric tractor and I don't know of any hybrids or plug in hybrids in the supply chain at the moment.

So growing fuel feedstocks on site seems to me like a good solution. The US infrastructure for biofuels of all kinds is still growing pretty rapidly and, to my understanding, most new farm equipment in the US already runs on E85. So there's a little flexibility already built in.

The technology build for biofuels looks something like:

1. Ethanol from corn, cane or other high carbohydrate food crop.
2. Biodiesel from seeds or other high oil plants.
3. Biodiesel from algae
4. Ethanol from cellulose

Right now it seems to be on a pretty fast track and I don't envision things changing so long as oil keeps growing scarce.

With all due respect to Robert Rapier, I don't see how we're going to mitigate lack of available supply and crashing exports without this as part of the short term solution. So I think the food supply and, in particular, the supply of meat will take a hit until we learn to adjust and do things a little differently.

I've been very interested in the posts about permaculture, home gardens, etc. Is there any movement afoot to get local governments to adopt permaculture practices?

>"An area which is particularly immature is storage, where Ausra for instance hope to store the steam, whereas others hope to use molten salt and other technologies.

I would certainly welcome a post which considered the different solar thermal alternatives, costs and obstacles."

I would as well. If The Oil Drum Staff would like me to pitch in on any research in the solar area (thermal or otherwise), I'd be more than happy (email:rob@luthielssong.com).

Just one point, though. Just because there are multiple options for storage (steam, salt, etc.) isn't necessarily a bad thing. In some cases one storage method may work well for a different kind of solar process and another for another.

As for residential solar, I absolutely agree and wonder if any novel thermal solar system could be scaled well to a dwelling for electricity generation. In all, I like your tube on the roof idea and think I might try it if I have some extra time.

There are electric tractors about, Robert - mostly for gardening, but there are a few small farm tractors too:

For the meatier work though it is difficult to get anywhere near FF performance.

I'd be careful about dishing out e-mails in that form, Rob - rob at whatever dot com is better and keeps bots away.

You are right that it is nice to have a variety of options in storage, but that is another indicator of a very immature market - they will sort down to less I would guess.

If you want to get really sophisticated about building yourself a residential solar thermal heater, there was a Chinese guy who got a load of beer bottles and looped through them with some piping!

One study showed that ethanol returned a 34% return on energy invested and an earlier study showed it returned 24% on energy invested. Some have claimed that no net energy gain might be realized when you get into the energy required for farm machinery, fertilizer, transport, heat for distilling the fermented corn mash, and energy required to transport and blend the ethanol with gasoline.


One bushel of corn yields 2.75 gallons of ethanol (more or less).

This means that if you use ethanol as a fuel in the process to make ethanol one bushel of corn might yield .66 - .94 gallon of ethanol. Since ethanol only contains about 80% of the energy of gasoline when burned in a car engine, then the comparative energy yield is about .53 - .83 gallons of gasoline. If you have .53 gallons of gasoline yield per bushel of corn, then ethanol produced from a $5.45 bushel of corn (3/14/08 CBOT price per bushel) might produce a fuel that costs $6.57 - $10.28 a gallon if you do not have cheap fossil fuel to manufacture it with. Since the Federal law will require 5 times recent amounts of ethanol production then you are faced with corn prices that might soar like wheat did to near $25 a bushel and gasoline that might approach $50.00 a gallon if you only use ethanol as a fuel for your biofuel society.

It is a shame that the U.S. government and E.U. tried to force the use of ethanol by legislation. It was probably known in advance that ethanol could not compete with other forms of energy on its own merit.

Since cellulosic ethanol has not been proven to be any more economically feasible than corn ethanol, it required legislation to try to get the inefficient process approved. The amount of deforestation that might be possible with this legislation might cause despair amongst "green energy" advocates.

The enrgy markets should not be manipulated by politicians who invested in ethanol production companies.

Hi Rainsong,
I'm with you on ethanol and EROI - I probably stated it poorly, as I was thinking it through in the light of what I have learnt from Gail regarding the likely difficulties in the financial environment, but what I was trying to argue is that it is the land already set aside to grow fuel crops rather than the actual ethanol which might prove helpful - biogas seems the best bet to me, with maybe biodiesel to run machinery - I don't know enough to talk more definitively.

The Germans have considerable experience with biogas, and you seem to get a lot more bang for the buck from it:


Residential solar thermal suffers from none of these disadvantages and can be as simple as coiling a hosepipe and leaving it on the roof.
It is nearly criminal that it is not more widely used, and could on it's own greatly reduce residential energy use.

Agree completely with that. We are in the process of getting a system installed that will hopefully cut our LNG use to cooking. We have a woodburning system to cover any shortfall during the winter. If you are going to mandate something, then surely residential thermal is a much better bet than Ethanol or other such. It's simple, proven and it works.

Some articles on transmission costs/potentials that may help:



Seems like states and localities are involved in building the smart grid now:


Thanks for the links.

Here is a quote from the only one I could find to put a potential cost on a supergrid:

Building the supergrid would require an investment of ¿$80bn (£40bn), plus the cost of the wind turbines – a fraction of the €1 trillion the EU expects to pay for a 20 per cent reduction of its carbon footprint by 2020.


Now that is all very nice, but in the circumstances we are considering $80bn may not be that easy to find, hence my interest in more local networks.

I am still not sure of the actual costs of windpower either, although it is better in the States than Europe, as it suffers from the usual terminal confusion in the field between installed cost and capacity cost.

The Boone-Pickens 4.4GW $10bn project in Texas, which is a good location, if you take it on a capacity basis of around 33% generates an average output of 1.5GW/hr, so that is over $6.5 million a MW - expensive power, even if fuel is free.

It's big advantages though is that in a rural environment it could be close to the customer, and that it can be added more incrementally than most alternatives.

It is not so cheap though that an America in poor financial circumstances could shrug off the cost of a grid to transport it long distances.

Three HV DC project(s) going forward ATM. A major subset of a "supergrid".

Each line will be rated approximately 3,000 MW and will cost US$1.2 – 1.8 billion


Best Hopes for HV DC,


As always, excellent links Alan.

I was trying to find their estimated cost per kilometer or mile, but unfortunately they do not seem to specify.

Just eyeballing it, it looks like perhaps $500,000/kilometer - not too bad.


I recommend these to anyone worried about the future. I bought ~40,000oz of silver last November and I'm up about $300K on the deal already, and the sky is the limit. Good place for discussion is The Gold and Silver Forum

Time to sell. As the Chinese aphorism says, what goes up like a rocket comes down like a rocket. I didn't heed that advice in 2000 and lost a bundle. Contrary to what you think, gold and silver will soon plummet in value. Both metals are used much in electronics and jewelery. Recession will soon hit those 2 uses and the price will drop like a stone in a 500 foot well. Be careful.

You're crazy. I bought gold in the 70s and sold at $800 in the early 80s, made a bundle. I'm old and cunning, and I don't make big financial mistakes, cjworth. This gold and silver bull has years to run.

This time next year ten year Treasuries will
be on their way to 20%.

Gold will fall to $800.

Then we'll see.

That's only if the US Financial System doesn't completely freeze up
and the DJIA goes to 6400 in the mean time.

Mac, I hope you are right but other scenarios are possible. Here is some food for thought...


'Peter Schiff, a dollar-bear at Security Pacific Capital, said the greenback faced the danger of outright collapse as countries in Asia and the Middle East MULL PLANS TO BREAK THIER DOLLAR PEGS, which are fuelling inflation across the region. "The decline could accelerate rapidly. The world is still holding a lot of dollars it doesn't need," he said. The dollar's tumble over the past 10 weeks has begun to provoke murmurs from top central bankers, suggesting that WE MAY BE NEARING OFFICIAL INTERVENTION.' (caps mine)

Tip of the hat to ilargi for posting this at automaticearth.

Oh yeah.

Don't get me wrong. I see the Fed Res being thrown out.

But I'm charting a way out.

I expect TPTB to implement it like they do everything else.

When all else fails grab the opponent's game plan and call it your own.

But the entire "leadership" has to be overthrown.

SEC Commissioner just now on Bloomberg-

"There is no cause for concern."

Carolyn Baker-

"These are the last hours on the deck of the Titanic, and the chamber orchestra is now playing "Nearer My God To Thee" as the ship continues to take on barrels of water per second, and all but one or two lifeboats have been filled to capacity and launched into the open seas of escape from the capsizing horror-and with no guarantees that they will survive. Throngs of the doomed are drowning in the steerage compartments below-those indigent, third-class, "racially impure" masses of humanity that the "first-class", who helped design the "unsinkable" vessel, kept locked away below the decks of obscene privilege and conspicuous consumption. Some say that economic depressions don't affect the poor because they are already poor, but I'm certain that a black mother in the projects who can now give her kids only two meals a day will become acutely aware, as will her children, when she can only give them one.

Mac, I think this is a pretty good summation of what we have today due to Fed actions in the past...Although this (fairly long essay) was written in 2005 it is relevent today and shows a great deal of insight by the author. Note the comment about Fed actions to 'incite investment banks and other willing parties to bet against a rise in the prices of commodities, including oil, in order to prevent the independent observer from any reliable benchmark to measure the eroding value of all fiat currencies.' (paraphrased) Well, the Feds has been successful to a point, witness all the discussion on TOD recently about increasing oil prices and reasons for same.


"What we see at present is a battle between the central banks and the collapse of the financial system fought on two fronts. On one front, the central banks preside over the creation of additional liquidity for the financial system in order to hold back the tide of debt defaults that would otherwise occur. On the other, they incite investment banks and other willing parties to bet against a rise in the prices of gold, oil, base metals, soft commodities or anything else that might be deemed an indicator of inherent value. Their objective is to deprive the independent observer of any reliable benchmark against which to measure the eroding value, not only of the US dollar, but of all fiat currencies. Equally, their actions seek to deny the investor the opportunity to hedge against the fragility of the financial system by switching into a freely traded market for non-financial assets."

Note this:

"JPMorgan, the nation's third-largest bank, has been hurt far less by the mortgage mess than other financial institutions. It will provide secured loans to Bear for four weeks — insured, in essence, by the Fed."

JPM has over $7.5 Trillion in derivatives-the Willing Party.

If T bills get to 20% they at some point there will be screaming buys on Zeros just like early 80s. Huge money in zeros was made then.......

Contrary to what you think, gold and silver will soon plummet in value.

Gold & silver are real value, not the fiat currency circulating the globe. This is the first time in recorded history that no currency has been backed by precious metals, not even fractionally. And it can't last - we are seeing the effects of hyperinflation all around us. The purchasing power of the dollar is plummeting. When the fiat system collapses - which all fiat systems have - gold & silver will regain their status as real money.

The dot-com boom was just that - speculation. The real-estate boom was just that - credit expansion. Gold & silver, however, are moving fundamentally back to their original functions: storage of wealth.

On reading this discussion I am reminded of somebody saying that in 1929 when even the bell-boys were giving tips on, and trading in, shares he knew the market was near peak.

At work I would hear people talking about owning more than one house, buying to let etc - this told me, correctly, that the housing market was peaking.

Now I hear the man in the street talking about buying gold ... hmmmmmmmm!

Gold is a tradeable commodity like many others - shares, houses, tulips ... the price is cyclical ... gold is only a good place to store wealth if the price is level or going up ... for every person buying gold somebody else is selling ... who? ... probably somebody who bought when the price was low.

The people who make money out of commodities buy low and sell high.

Typically, Joe Sixpack buys high and sells low - the small man gets stiffed every time! Beware!

I think that the somebody you are thinking about might have been Joe Kennedy

"cjwirth"'s only comment on these boards is to tell everyone to sell precious metals.

The government has been paying people to make posts on boards like these, to mold opinion. I've run into them in a number of different places.

Consider "cjwirth"'s/the government's advice to sell prcious metals a good sign that you should buy.

Of course "cjwirth" will insist mightily that he is not on the government payroll. Readers here can make up their own mind.

In fact, on one forum I posted information about a site maintained by photographer Jim Bones, called Seedballs.com. It demonstrates how to use seedballs (seeds mixed in clay/humus to make marble-sized balls) as an alternative to tilling soil. Pretty harmless stuff. Not political.

This posting (on the forum) was immediately attacked by a number of entities who I had suspected were government plants, and the next day seedballs.com was hacked!

the old seedballs.com


the hacked seedballs.com, a phony "underground truth" site created as a diversion.


Add seedballs (and knowledge of how to make them) to gold and silver bullion on the list of things the government does not want you to have, and thus things you must accumulate!

You bought *40,000* (!!!) ounces of silver? Must be nice.

You can do that pretty cheaply with options.

Combined, these articles tell an interesting story. When oil production dips, the price of oil will skyrocket, the stock market will really crash, inflation will go wild, people will not be able to sell their houses, and therefore they will not be able to relocate to sustainable areas. There will be no mass move from the cities and suburbs to rural areas, as some Peak Oilers have indicated. Sad, but true. I'm glad that I relocated. Hope you will join me, before it's too late.

Hey I'm halfway between Los Angles and the Mexican border. Otherwise known as a rock and a hard place so don't rub it in :)

Still in Irvine?
You do like to live dangerously.
Will be staying with friends in Laguna Beach next week- OC freaks me out, and I lived there for 15 years.

Cool ping me if you want.

Keeps me motivated hanging out here :)

Actually to be honest I'm working hard and saving up to buy a place. The recent bubble in housing has made it really hard to relocate if you don't have money to throw away. But the housing bust should precede major problems with peak oil.
Despite my beliefs I still have to make sound financial decisions and buying land/housing right now is stupid IMHO. Its going to get a lot cheaper before we have serious peak oil problems.

What about me - I live in LA!

Fountain Valley, here. We're practically neighbors, Memmel. Although once TSHTF these distances will seem alot larger.


I do not want to nitpick, but at some point, we must take a closer look at the term "inflation".

It is a monetary term, not a price term.

If in a given year, the added value (growth) of goods and services is 2%, but the growth of the money supply is 2.5%, then you have inflation. If the growth of the money supply is 1.5%, then you have deflation. In- or de-flation is the net difference in the money supply with respect to the added value of goods and services.

Prices will react to the net difference in the money supply, but they do not of themselves constitute inflation. Prices for any given commodity can spike upwards because that particular commdity is scarce. That can happen even in a deflationary environment.

Oil is rather special because it will affect the price of just about everything else, but that does not change the fundamental situation.

All the above is important because we are currently in a credit crunch, i.e. we are seeing a contraction of the money supply. Will it contract more than added value? Probably.

The point of this post is therefore to point out that, most probably, it is not iflation that will go wild, but prices, even in a deflationary environment. For people planning how to cope during the months to come, that is a very important distinction.


"people will not be able to see their houses, and therefore they will not be able to relocate to sustainable areas."

Last I checked, people who couldn't sell their houses didn't automatically have broken legs. If people have to move, they'll move, even if they have to leave everything behind and start over somewhere else. There are good arguments both ways for people having to move to the cities and the rural areas. Either way, moving is one thing Americans don't have trouble with.

History indicates that the reverse is normally true, that as civilizations contract and then collapse, their populace moved into urban areas, where strained governments continued to provide stability, commerce, protection, etc. Rome comes immediately to mind (Tainter, Diamond, Catton, et.al.).
Do not expect an exodus to the rural hinterlands. Rather, these areas will be the first to experience "collapse" (the former Soviet Union, Argentina, and South Africa are all modern examples of this occurring).

A Sustainable Futures Fund for a Fuel and Climate Emergency

Posted by Phil Hart on March 8, 2008

I'm going to say this again: We need more articles like this, but with a strategy for the US--and we need to create an ACTION element of people from TOD who want to work together form an ADVOCACY group. Something like Moveon, but better, with a growing database of members who can be sent email messages like the ones sent out by the Union of Concerned Scientists--you fill it out once, and then the messages come in and I just hit "send" when I'm busy.

Nothing like this exists yet and it is overdue. I'm not suggesting it be limited to email lobbying by any means. It could take on many other activities.

Is there anyone out there in TOD-land that agrees with me?

It might be lead by TOD members or not? I know there isn't much consensus about what to do, but the article by Phil Hart suggests that we MIGHT be able to agree on a thesis such as his article put forth: 1) this is an emergency/crisis; 2) we have a sane, viable response; 3) we need to band together to act and advocate for what we believe in or it won't happen.

My thoughts:

1) This is an emergency alright. It's been going on since 1973-1981, because the inertia within our "system" is so large. The necessary changes did not begin then, so today, we are stuck with an even larger problem than that of 30 years ago.

2) Given that a large fraction of the U.S. population has a world view which includes miracles, ghosts and heaven, it's apparent that this large fraction is not rational. That is to say, a large fraction of the population is not "sane", i.e., suffers from some delusional thinking and won't easily accept change, especially that presented by those they already disagree with.

3) Band together? The folks interested in basic change don't have the money and the access to the media, which is controlled by the NeoCons. The organizations, such as the unions, which used to have some political clout, are dying. Just which group should "we" join with to make the necessary changes? The leading environmental groups have been trying to get their message thru for more than 30 years in the U.S., yet, business goes on more or less as before and growth is the main goal. People won't do anything which is unpleasant until things become very uncomfortable, then they tend to do things with short term results, but long term negative impacts, such as corn based ethanol. People are already screaming about the "high cost" of gasoline in the U.S., thus, trying to increase taxes to pay for some sustainable alternatives is likely to fail. Population limits? Planned negative population "growth"? Remember that environmental laws are written on paper...

E. Swanson

There is this group, http://investorprotectioncoalition.org/index.html which was formerly NCANS. Its reason for being: "NIPC is necessary to fill a void left by the Securities Exchange Commission (the “SEC”). Despite the fact that the SEC is charged by federal statute with protecting investors and issuers as its number one priority, they have failed to adequately do so. Not only has the SEC failed to properly enforce the existing statutes to protect investors, but the SEC has adopted rules that actively harm investors and security issuers as well."

This continues at http://investorprotectioncoalition.org/Mission.html

Many here are invested in various arenas. The above group constitutes your "union." The most noted CEO ally is Patrick Byrnes of Overstock.com.

And as is well known by some, Goldman Sachs is the firm that initiated the current financial mayhem. Note whom it's connections are.

The SEC, FDA-these are third world guv agencies. The sheeple could care less, so it should get even more interesting.

Last night the CBC aired a program in the Tar Sands. http://www.cbc.ca/doczone/tarsands/

Some interesting notes:

If the US does not buy the oil from the tar sands China wants it, badly (how badly one has to ask). They want to build a pipeline from the project to the Pacific coast.

They claimed to be able to eventually get a net of 11 billion B/D. But noted that they need 1 barrel to get 2. So gross they would have to produce at least 15 MB/D. Currently they are producing around 1.5 MB/D so one wonders how they could ever 10 times the output in 20 years. Especially since the natural gas is just not there for the cracking.

The over all tone of the program was that the tar sands was the last big oil deposit and Canada is just letting it all go away without getting much from it. Royalties is just $2 per barrel.

There are other ways of getting the oil other than NG - microwave power for one - let's hope they start using other methods at least, and minimise the environmental degradation too.

The NG is needed to crack the large bitumen chains into synthetic crude. The H atoms are needed to end the smaller chains. There is only one source for that H and that's methane.

Thanks for the information. I had understood though that much of the NG used was simply to heat the soil to cause the oil to flow enough to extract it?

Any idea of the relative importance of these two uses?

You can also, of course, produce hydrogen by other methods, although that is always said to be uneconomic, but one wonders at what price for NG that would change.

You can't "produce" hydrogen. It has to be extracted from some other molcule. You get 2 chain breaks for each molecule of methane. How much is used for the cracking and how much is used for heating I don't know. But I do know that the cracking process takes place under high pressure and high temperatures with injection of steam and methane to force the cracking. Realize that what one is doing is severing a C-C link and replacing it with C-H + H-C. And in some cases C-H + H-C-C as the C in methane has to go somewhere. And it wont be 100% efficient, far from it.

Thus the cracking process needs the NG for the heating and molecule severing.

There is another very large source of bitumen that can be mined. All our paved roads.

I focussed on the heating previously because frankly, it horrified me, using a premium fuel like natural gas for heating up some ground.

Of course, strictly speaking you can't 'produce' hydrogen, but you can certainly obtain it by electrolysing water.

I doubt even at current costs for NG that that would be economical though, and more economical processes to obtain hydrogen from water are at very early stages of development.

I doubt any rapid ramp of oil from tar sands, and the amount of environmental degradation caused so far is beyond all reason.

You could use H2 from water, if they had a nuke plant to produce the electricity. I'm not sure the chemisty involved in using straight H2 for the cracking. It may not work at high temps and high pressures, but a chemist would know for sure. I suspect that H2 would be hard to extract, the extraction rate would be too slow for the rate of production of synthetic crude and that the H2 would react in ways they do not want. Very reactive on its own.

From what I've read they can't use water for the hydrogen, something about the remaing O atom reacting with the synthetic crude. I don't remember the specifics.

But the NG is used in winter to produce the steam to mobilze the bitumen so they can mine it.

But the NG is used in winter to produce the steam to mobilze the bitumen so they can mine it.

And....natural gas is also used to heat the water that washes the bitumen out of the sand. The whole operation is a very energy intensive process and I am not sure how much they could produce without natural gas. I suppose they cold burn part of the oil they produce to heat the water but that would create even more pollution.

Ron Patterson

Can you provide an explanation of how microwave power can turn the bitumen into oil? Please note that I'm not asking for an explanation of ways to separate the bitumen from sand.

I was referring to extracting the bitumen - please see my post above, which makes this clear, and was posted rather earlier than your query.

Frankly, my point was that you asserted something ("There are other ways of getting the oil other than NG") in ignorance. Is this true of your many, many, many other posts?

So in other words you were just being funny?

If you want to talk about this particular incident, rather than pick a fight, I assumed the reference was to extraction rather than processing, and posted in the hope that this would be helpful.

The current extraction is open pit mining. It's shoveled into enourmous dump trucks and moved to the separation facilities to get the sand and water out. The tar sands is actually sand grains surrounded by bitumen with a layer of water. In the winter it is as hard as rock. Steam is used to "melt" the tar sand so it can be mined.

Because only 15% of the deposit is minable (the rest is too deep) other approaches are under testing. One is to inject high pressure steam into wells to mobilaize the bitumen. This obviously will require even more energy to extract the bitumen, and since the current extraction is 1B for 2B extracted one wonders if the return on energy will become negative with drilling. And obviously the rate of flow is not going to be anywhere near what comes from light oil wells. The steam would be supplied from a nuke plant.

Another problem is this bitumen which is often ignored or not mentioned is that it contains a high concentration of heavy metals which has to be removed.

What really bothered me the most about the show was 2 things. The suggestion that they can get 11m B/D from the deposit and that the deposit will solve US energy needs. Even if 11m B/d was achieved that is barely half US consumption now, let alone in 20 years.

BTW, China's oil consumption will match the US in less than 4 years.

I can't find the link now, but the bit I hated was the toxic ponds they are leaving, stuffed full of heavy metals.

I doubt the rush will slow though, save maybe through a shortage of NG to hydrogenate the bitumen.

Dave, where is the energy for microwaves supposed to come from? I believe they are talking about dedicated nukes to provide power, but that's a 7-10yr build time from what I understand - and during those years natural gas (for the H) will keep getting depleted (and the cost will rise) - and diesel for the giant tractors and trucks will soar etc. etc. etc. - and of course with the the problems we are facing in credit - where is the $ going to come from to finance all the enormous capital expenditures?

Hi, MacDuff - it is not a process I know about in any detail, but it appears that you can use whatever you fancy to generate the microwaves - natural gas if you like to run a generator - the microwaves are much more efficient heating the soil, just like cooking your dinner in the microwave, so you would still save energy.

Here is a link which talks about a lot of technologies that could help to get oil from sands and shales -the microwave one is about the forth down.

They include various nuclear technologies.

None of the alternatives will be quick or easy, but hopefully can mitigate the great damage being done.

I'm not at all sure your take on microwaves is correct. I know that if you cook say a large turkey it takes just as much energy to microwave as to cook in a conventional oven. Microwaves only penetrate an inch or so into a dense food. I can't see how microwaving something as dense as tar sand would save energy.

Did you check out the link I gave?
Here is what it says:

Because microwaves can generate heat faster than convection heating, shale can be adequately heated to extract oil within a month or two of beginning production activities, rather the year or longer for other methods, Raytheon says.

Now I don't guarantee any new technology, but again if you look at the link I gave there are a whole bunch of ideas there which may help - it seems fundamentally stupid to burn natural gas to heat the soil.

Nuclear energy is the most popular idea to help out, but there are even proposals to use hot dry rock geothermal to do the job:

TheStar.com | Business | Oil industry finds hot rock resource

I'm sure the techonology works, the issue, as with all things, is the scale. Can the technology be scaled up to meet the demand. I suspect not in the near term. Though the CBC program did say the Chinese have a new method, but gave no details. They would only share that if they got a (large) slice of the tar sands pie. Big mistake selling it to the Chinese.

With the catastrophic damage being caused to the environment for a Canadian take of $2/barrel, it is a mistake selling it to anyone.

People are lining their pockets, to the point of total disregard fro everything else.

The Canadian parliament ought to be ashamed, but no doubt many of them are profiting.

It's complicated. The vast majority of Alberta residents are in favor of the environmental degradation. It is difficult to get Ontario or Quebec residents interested in the issue when Albertans want their province trashed.

When society is in desparation mode the environment will take a back seat. I'm not in favour of that, for the record, but that's what human nature is for the most part. And there is no doubt now that we are in desparation mode, just those of us here are the only ones who publically will state that. Most of the public does not realize it, and the PTB know it and won't make it public for fear of the panic that would start with the public, and the PTB would then loose control. But that bubble will eventually burst. It's just a matter of time.

"Especially since the natural gas is just not there for the cracking."

How about a skilled workforce?
How about water?
How much for the diesel to run the largest vehicles on the planet?
When will the nuke plants start operations?
How much for renewal and maintenance of the cracking equipment, with skyrocketing raw materials?
And about China willing to buy this synthetic crude, when is NAFTA renegotiated?

15 mmbd from tar sands is a fanatasy.

they fly in workers
they have water
they'll get diesel, they sell oil after all. if need be they have the money for hybrid-diesels.
probably not soon enough
alot, but they have the money because they have the skyrocketing oil

how much will they produce? who knows?

There might not be many skilled workers to fly in. The issue of the aging oil patch workers has been often discussed here.

The water is apparently partly under control of highly sovereign Native Canadian tribes, who are not exactly cornucopians and are considering how the palefaces' new plans might harm them.

Finally, China and NAFTA are big issues. The current pro-American regime is a minority of Parliament, and if it goes down soon it will be because of its allegiance to the US war in Afghanistan. So what kind of mandate does that create for the next premier versus the US?

Venezuela wants euros for some fuel exports: source

CARACAS, March 13 (Reuters) - Venezuela is requiring payment in euros for some fuel exports, an industry source told Reuters on Thursday, a sign the OPEC nation may be easing away from the plummeting dollar.
A trader on Thursday told Reuters he had purchased an oil products cargo under a contract issued recently.
"Everyone who has that contract has to pay in euros," said the source, who asked not to be identified.

China promotes new era of coal-fired energy, despite pollution

At present, oil accounts for 36 per cent of world energy consumption, followed by coal with 27 per cent, followed by lesser amounts of natural gas, nuclear and hydroelectricity.

"In 2006, China put into operation 105 gigawatts, which is [equivalent to] the entire electricity generation system of France," Josz said.

He said 90 per cent of that generation was from coal plants, and China followed by adding 91 gigawatts of coal generation in 2007.

"This is unique, we have never seen that in history. Coal was the energy of the 19th century, lost to oil in the 20th century, but clearly coal could be the fuel of reference for the 21st century."

For maybe 40 years-IMO everyone is going to be shocked at how quickly China drains down global coal reserves.

I notice that the Shell report is called the "Final Energy Report" - presumably the final report before TSHTF...
They say that Peak Oil is a myth, and yet in the report they say the easy oil is rapidly depleting. Am I missing something here?

It's quite bizarre. The title I gave it was the one given by the Shell employee who submitted this item. They're apparently trying to reach out to peak oil blogs.

I suspect the message is, "The easy oil is depleting, you need to let us go after the harder to get stuff." Whether that means drilling in environmentally protected areas, or getting tough with countries that nationalize oil.

Don't forget they are only in it for the profit - to hell with the environment!

By allowing the oil companies to use advanced extraction techniques governments have allowed much more CO2 into the atmosphere than would otherwise have been the case - they need controlling, not assisting with their plunder. Maybe we could leave a little oil for future generations?

Shell says ... "The Reality: Oil resources are out there, should we choose to develop them."

They will 'chose to develop them' if it is profitable for them and their shareholders - not for any other reason.

"I suspect the message is, "The easy oil is depleting, you need to let us go after the harder to get stuff." Whether that means drilling in environmentally protected areas, or getting tough with countries that nationalize oil."

And the subtext is, "we don't do electrified rail and we're not properly scaled to do building renovation. And what does cutting back on meat consumption do for our bottom line? Moreover, there is no need to redirect the cash flowing to our coffers to hippy ventures. Things can go on as before. Just let us at those endless hydrocarbon molecules."

If you look at the blogs of Republican Senators as well as reports out by the oil industry it looks like they're walking around with hat in hand for drilling support on the outer continental shelf, ANWAR and on unconventional supplies like oil shales.

Recently there was a big tech buy made by a major drilling company for oil shales extraction technology. I don't know anything about flow rates. But the new tech microwaves the stuff using RF antenna sunk into the ground.

Dems in Congress are very much against any new drilling and seem to have also taken a stand against oil shales. I would read the report as:

1. The oil companies don't want to scare away shareholders and long term investment by admitting Peak Oil is happening now.
2. They are desperate to make a play on any remaining oil because the potential for profit is so great.
3. They would like to retain whatever control over the market they are able to salvage. Currently they dominate it and they're not going to give that hold up without a fight. What we see here may just be among the first broadsides.
4. Given the new extraction technology, they may think they have an ace in the hole on oil shale and that the time to push development is now.

I'm betting resistance to oil shales and just about any other way, sensible or not of getting oil will disappear rapidly once a the situation sinks in a bit more.

What you say seems to indicate that the Republicans think they can still gouge out some more money, and the Democrats think that there is plenty of oil.

They have in common that neither have the slightest idea of what is going on.

I honestly don't know. Many politicians seem to be completely divorced of any consequences. I hope you're right. Hopefully they can respond effectively once the crisis becomes obvious rather than staring around at the pieces after the fact.

For my part, I would think the crisis would seem obvious now. But that's just me.

I agree. I don't think they have the slightest. Some might. But as a body they have a remarkable level of apparent ignorance.

Dems in Congress are very much against any new drilling and seem to have also taken a stand against oil shales.

Robert, there are currently no restrictions against mining shale oil other than those that regulate mining on federal land. These are easily overcome, as Shell has recently demonstrated with their "Freeze Wall" project. The primary problems with producing oil from oil shale is economical, not political. Simply by filing the necessary papers any oil company can get permission to mine the Green River Oil Shale. The Democrats are not standing in anyone's way.

Ron Patteson

Cheers Ron!

Actually, there has been a little noise on the issue in Congress and it appears to be becoming a little contentious:


"The budget measure also contains language barring the U.S. Bureau of Land Management from further commercial-scale leasing of oil shale sites in Colorado through 2008."

Now I understand that some lands have already been leased for pilots like Shell's. These are still in the research phase and there have been no large scale commercial leases awarded as yet.


"Last year, the Bureau of Land Management awarded leases for five, 160-acre tracts in the Piceance Basin (pronounced PEA-ahns) to companies for research and demonstration projects. Shell got three tracts, and Chevron and EGL each got one.

But the agency also plans to offer commercial oil-shale leases well before the research work is done on the five tracts.

The BLM released a draft Environmental Impact Statement for the commercial leasing program last month. In late 2007, congressional Democrats tried unsuccessfully to delay the study and leasing program, which were mandated in the 2005 Energy Policy Act, passed when Republicans controlled Congress."

The above represents the current 'state of play' in US oil shales. Last year the dems tried to block it but failed. So you wonder if this is just the beginning. Certainly not a front line political issue like ANWR but you wonder how long that will last if the technology for shale extraction suddenly becomes valid.

My theory is that the big oil cos are gearing up for one final big push for Arctic and deep offshore, then they know they are done. I think that the early groundwork is being laid so that when the first really big supply/price crisis hits, they'll be ready: "Want more oil? Turn us loose, we're ready to go after it!"

WASHINGTON — Hoping to capitalize on consumer concern about gasoline prices, Alaska's two Republican senators introduced legislation Thursday that would allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge if the price of oil hits $125 a barrel.

Looks like $125/ Bl is on the radar in DC. Are we really sure what that secret session of congress last night was about FISA?

So in this age of "green" sensitivities, even wildlife, as in "Wildlife Refuge" has a price. Apparently it's $125/Bl.

May be "green" should be redefined as anything to do with the "Greenback".

ANWR is as much of a"Wild Life Preserve" as the Moon is.

ANWR is as much of a"Wild Life Preserve" as the Moon is.

Bull! Almost 200,000 caribou use ANWR for breeding grounds. Can you say the same of the Moon? I don't know what effect drilling there would have on the herds but such absurd hyperbole as this is no help whatsoever.

Caribou are the most numerous large mammals in the Arctic Refuge. Two herds occur there: the Porcupine Herd (named afer the Porcupine River) and the Central Arctic Herd. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is within the main range of the Porcupine Herd, which numbers approximately 152,000 animals, and on the periphery of the range of the smaller Central Arctic Herd with 23,400 animals.

Ron Patterson

"Energy, water demands are on collision course"

It takes water to make energy.

it took energy to get the water to make the energy.

it took water to make the energy to.... well you get the idea.

Heating water to wash dishes or clothes or to take a shower is a greedy consumer of energy.

Darn I was so looking forward to a few creature comforts. Still if folks need the ethanol for their SUV's i guess i understand.

Very intriguing item about deep covert ops to destabilize Venezuela that parallel the similar, successful ops that did in Nicaraugua in the 1980s, http://www.narconews.com/Issue51/article3031.html

"Attorney Mark Conrad, a former high-level supervisory U.S. Customs agent who has an extensive background in the intelligence world, offered the following insight into the cocaine planes saga in a prior interview with Narco News:

"Even though it looks as if you are unraveling odd connections you may be only seeing a small part of what is going on — or you may be seeing what you are expected to see, missing something else.

"My guess — and that is all that it is — is that this has something to do with operations in Venezuela — either to finance ops, or to divert attention from Agency ops in Venezuela to destabilize Chávez. … It is not in the U.S. interests for Chávez to create another Cuba on some of the largest oil field reserves in the world."

Please recaall Gary Webb's "Dark Alliance" and Mike Ruppert's uncovering the CIA's involvement in Narcotrafficing--A 100% true story. The history of the CIA running drugs to finance its illegal covert ops is long and sordid, and it clearly continues.

The history of the CIA running drugs to finance its illegal covert ops is long and sordid, and it clearly continues.

Yes they are true.

Take a look at Grasso, Ex-NYSE pres making a "Cold Call" on a FARC leader(full embrace pictured)

Read what you can from Cathrine Austin Fitts. She's one of the "Good Guys"

The Real Deal: The Ultimate New Business Cold Call

Monday, 18 February 2002, 10:13 am
Column: Catherine Austin Fitts

Narco-Dollars For Dummies (Part 3)
How The Money Works In The Illicit Drug Trade


Part 1

Narco-Dollars For Dummies (Part 1)

The Real Deal: Narco-Dollars For Dummies

How The Money Works In The Illicit Drug Trade

The Real Deal: Sam & Dave Do White Substances

Spitzer was hassling Grasso-probably just coincidental.

Spitzer poked too many hornets nests not to be more careful.

Or you could ask Kermit Roosevelt what it reminds him of.. 1953, Iran.

Hell hath no fury like an IOC scorned.

.. and still they humor us with talks about pulling out of Iraq. There's no intention of EVER pulling out of Iraq.


Love or Loathe him, Mel Gibson has been involved in some very interesting movies that comment in a between-the-lines fashion on a number of threads related to US Imperial Power. Wonder if he'll do a film bio on John Rockefeller?

Bush on CNN

...our energy policy has not been very wise...

Unfortunately the bits he thought weren't wise were not the bits most of us here would have thought!

But you can't fault the sentiment!

Can you tell us more about what he said, Dave?

I didn't take too much notice really - he did admit that times are tough - others have commented below.

Here is a link:

Can't find anywhere with the full text yet though - not that it says much

I found the text Moe - enjoy the Bush-speak ;-)


The editor seems to feel Bush has not ruled out war:

Could President George W. Bush, the lame-duck U.S. President, still be considering a pre-emptive military attack on Iran? Apparently the answer is yes.

I didn't spot the bit that worried the Ed, but then again I did not read it too carefully!

Your turn for a bit of research, Moe!

More Happy Motoring!

Plug-in Hybrids Might not Need New Power Plants

Con-Way Limit Speed on Trucks to Conserve Fuel

I hear the motoring is always happy in lala land...

Bush just stated in his New York Economics Club speech that he expects people in New York City to be driving battery powered cars after a transition period. He clarified and said that those battery powered cars would be larger than golf carts. So where does he really believe oil is headed?

The same place Goldman Sachs does (publicly announced recently).....$200/bbl.
They were right about $105/bbl (prediction made Spring, 2005).

In some sense, he is starting to get it. He still thinks ethanol is great, but he admitted the situation isn't good if you're in the hog business. And he is absolutely right that we will have to drill for oil in places we don't want to drill, in order to have enough to survive a transition period.

'And he is absolutely right that we will have to drill for oil in places we don't want to drill, in order to have enough to survice a transition period.'...Places like Iran?

Why would you think that Bush/Cheney/Rice do not know their way around the oil business? They have 'gotten it' from jump street.

I'm more inclined to think that the President is referring to domestic reserves that are currently not available for drilling, such as ANWR and the Outer Continental Shelf.

Also, an attack on Iran would probably not result in increased output, methinks. I suspect that Cheney and Rice know that, even if the President doesn't.

Believe what you will about what 'the president was referring to'. I am not a mind reader and my post was irony.

Did you consider that the objective of an attack on Iran might not be to 'increase oil output'. Perhaps the objective would be just the opposite? If one looks at what has been accomplished by an attack on Iraq, one must conclude that a reduction in oil production has been acheived. Pursuit of geostrategic and geoeconomic goals do not always follow the path of common sense.

I agree, I think we are seeing the early stages of a PR campaign, laying the groundwork for this one last, big push in the arctic and deep offshore.

I think King George is trying to let us down slowly and cryptically. He has dropped sutble hints here and there that we all need to prepare for less, cheap oil in our future.

King George doesn't have the mental capacity or foresight to do something like that. The past 7 years of failure has proven it.

I don't think he's MENSA material, but I think he's also been very good at finding bonus 'Political Capital' in over-playing that Dumb Yokel role. Doesn't hurt to get the enemy misunderestimating you.


I think he's finally able to be a little truthier. Since he's a dead duck now, and will never have to face the voters again, he can afford to admit that global warming exists, and it's caused by people, and that the energy may not always be cheap and abundant.

Truthier - I like that!

I think the term of art is "lame duck" LOL

Er...Freudian slip? ;-)

Sucks to be a lame duck...

House defies Bush on spy bill

He could also admit that the occupation of Iraq was a disaster, but he won't. There are still certain lies he seems intent on protecting - lies that may assist the GOP in getting the White House back some years from now, to finish Cheney's bungled mission of a one-party police state.

Swiss franc hits parity with the dollar for the first time ever:


forecasting more holes in the gruyere

Another one bites the dust:

FDIC reports second bank failure of 2008

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- A second bank has failed this year, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Friday. The FDIC and the Commissioner of Missouri's Division of Finance closed Hume Bank in Hume, Mo., on Friday, the federal banking regulator announced.

It was the second bank to fail this year, the FDIC said. The first was Douglass National Bank in Kansas City, Mo., on Jan. 25.

The FDIC didn't give a reason for the failure.

Leenan bank failures are not that uncommon, someone else at another site did the work. Just saying a podunk Missouri bank failing is hardly a huge deal.


I did a google and found this letter from the Federal Reserve Board of San Francisco, dated in 2005, which shows that between 1971 and 2004, there were 4,371 institutions which failed. Dividing that 33 year span into the 4,371 failures, we get over 132 units a year failing....that comes to an average of 11 failures a month.

You might consider that Leanan is a little touchy about the subject of bank failures, since her internet bank failed some months back and was taken over by Europeans. When it happens to you, it's a recession; when it happens to me, it's a depression.

How many of those institutions were savings & loans that collapsed during the last Bush, anyway? Kind of a skewed average, then.

And yet there were zero bank failures in a recent two year period.

Posting bullshit such as you do becomes tiresome. Most the bank failures that did occur over the last 30 years can be traced to specific economic downturns, such as the recession of 1979-1982, the savings and loan debacle in Texas, the dot-com bust, etc. In fact I'll suggest you go chart the failures on a month-by-month basis. It's illuminating.

The FDIC disagrees with your 4371 failures by the way. You can check here. I entered 1970 to 2007 for all failures and was informed that 3072 had failed. I grabbed that data and shoved it into a spreadsheet so I could take a look at it. There are hundreds and hundreds of failures per year from 1987 to 1993 and none from 2005 to 2007. The data is NOT anything like an even distribution at all. Bank failures tend to cluster around bad economic events. A quick scan indicates probably half of those institutions failed in the late 1980s to early 1990s time frame. Not so good for your yearly average if I narrow my range to there, eh, antidoomer?

Bank failures are a symptom of an economy under some sort of stress. The more failures, the more stress. If bank failures are increasing now, then that would be another indicator that things are getting doomier not antidoomier.

If bank failures are increasing now, then that would be another indicator that things are getting doomier not antidoomier.

you are right greyzone, they did increase, from 1 to 2!

Look greyzone, this all comes down to my point in this world news in seconds world we tend to hear about things that we normally wouldn't know about. For instance people here often flip out when a country looses power for a few days, when in reality in the past this has probably happened since the lights were first flipped on in that country. We only here about it this time because new travels at light speed now. In conclusion, there is certainly a relationship between "world news updated every second" and increased society anxiety over world happenings. It's not that it wasn't happening before, its just this time everyone knows about it.

I have figured it out. Antidoomer is Eric Idle

And...always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the light side of life...

In response to:

"Why OPEC Won't Boost Oil Supplies"

It's becoming increasingly obvious that they can't. Growing shortages outside the OECD and stock draws within are a pretty clear sign. They blame growing demand from China but China itself has been in a state of rolling shortages since 2005. Lines for gas are commonplace there.

Hasn't happened yet in the US. But can we say that the mortgage crisis and economic downturn are any better?

Pick your poison...

And I know I'm probably preaching to the choir. It's just that I wanted to share my thoughts on Time's article.


A report by Platts states OPEC increased production by 70Kbpd in February, http://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/articles/djf500/200803131535DOWJONES...

"Why OPEC Won't Boost Oil Supplies"

Why should they? From all appearances the US economy is in the tank regardless of maybe $10-$15 per barrel decrease in price that increased OPEC supply could bring. Also, OPEC can likely sell all the oil they want at prices > $90 bbl regardless of US economy tanking. Then there are the arguments for holding back on a resource that is growing in value. All things considered, they'd be crazy to increase production to any great degree. And their protestations that speculators are driving the price up.... methinks they protesteth too much. I'm tickled that speculators are driving up the price of gold & silver .......

"Also, OPEC can likely sell all the oil they want at prices > $90 bbl regardless of US economy tanking."

Yeah that's a fact.
From Bloomberg recently

Bookings for VLCCs sailing from the Middle East to Asia account for 47 percent of global demand for the carriers, according to New York-based McQuilling Brokerage Partners LLP. Shipments to the U.S. and Caribbean, the second-biggest market, account for 14 percent of demand for supertankers.

And currently 57 tankers available and only 28 cargoes to collect.


Not much urgency or they just don't have it.

I held tanker stocks for severaal years, FRO especially, and at the end of 1Q and through most of 2Q tanker rates drop because orders drop due to seasonality. Over the past two years, importers have tried with some success to equalize year-round tanker loadings to help offset the huge markup in rates during 3&4Qs. A good percentage of tanker loadings are conected to the spot price, which many buyers see as overbought. They will await a softening. The remaining month's behavior will be instructive.

Interesting, thanks.

The remaining months will be instructive indeed. If a lot of the Mid-east to Asia traffic is slow at this price..(and i realize it's not as high to non dollar holders). .one wonders whether it is Asia's seasonal demand which is off or if it's more OPEC holding back willingly or unwillingly. Well we will be here watching.

Tapis at ~$100 beginning of January, ~$112 now (annual rate of increase ~60%) indicates supply of $100 oil is constrained - forcing people to buy $112 stuff - but less of it since it's more expensive, so less boats are needed.

If it were less boats required because of lack of demand the price of the oil would have fallen!

BTW there is very little of that 1998 $10 oil about any more, hence the ~1000% increase in the price of 'light sweet' in 10 years.

At the very least, IMO 'light sweet' has definitely peaked!

EIA all liquids data indicates the alternates can't fill the gap - that probably means the world economy can't grow and the banking system, pensions etc won't work as advertised - so if Chindia are powering along at ~10% annual growth what does that mean for the rest of us?

"indicates supply of $100 oil is constrained - forcing people to buy $112 stuff - but less of it since it's more expensive, so less boats are needed."

Yes that's how I'm interpreting the drop in cargoes too. The falling dollar, PO induced energy costs, rising cost of (energy) everthing spiral is an unstoppable juggernaught now. No buyers strike or recession in the US is going to push it back up stream now.

China at 2 1/2 vs. 27 barrels per year per person in the US can leverage their oil purchases more effectively for sustaned output.(and I suspect they could even 'run' their economy on less) Big advantage. Obviously they are actively developing new (non US) trading partners for their massive productive capacity.

It's as if after several attempts the fuse has finally been lit. The Fed rate cuts/bailouts in the US will fan the flames. Cheap-oil US growth is history. Asian currencies will have to appreciate further in order to keep their oil buying muscle in tact.

That means a weaker dollar still and as proffit gains per barrel become better for exporters a growing indifference toward the US market seems likely.

I listened to a radio program yesterday on energy alternatives, in between bouts of static. What I caught sounded fairly accurate, it was a PRI show (no dice at their website), not sure of the station. Can anyone direct me to a link?

It was mentioned in one portion that burning the boreal forest for tar sands extraction created conditions that reminded the interviewee of oilfields in Kuwait following the Gulf War, that the smoke and pall was creating their own weather systems.

That would probably be "Which Way, LA?" a program produced by KCRW in Santa Monica, CA. Yesterday's topic was "Energy Security and Global Warming". You can find a podcast (and a PowerPoint presentation on tar sands) here:

Yes, that's it. I recall the guy from Toyota also.

Thanks. I'll listen w/o static tonight.

"Priddy believes Americans might be unfairly pinning the blame on oil-rich countries. "They want to find someone to blame and Gulf countries aren't popular to begin with," he says. But producers are contending with rising production costs, while extracting oil has become more difficult as land-based wells with plentiful reserves have been depleted in many places, leaving expensive, complicated deep-sea drilling as the best hope for tapping massive new reserves."

Doesn't that sound an awful lot like what we've been discussing on this website? Essentially that the cheap oil has already been pumped out and what remains is the more expensive to reach oil, while demand is at an all time high and continuing to rise.

Ring a ding ding - it sure takes a lot to get through, like burrowing through hardened steel, but maybe the idea of Peak Oil will finally penetrate even the most hard headed leaders.

More than blaming OPEC, I think they are blaming the IOC's (as they don't understand that higher oil means higher gasoline) and big Exxon profits in the news. Then they blame treehuggers/liberals. ANWR and the Santa Barbara channel woulda brought us back to $.50 gasoline.... Lastly I think the a-rabs get the blame.

I don't think they will get peak oil ever. It will always be because we weren't allowed to drill!

I'd get excoriated by liberals for supporting drilling in ANWR. Not because it would save us from running out of oil, but because IMHO, only then can we kill off the myth that we could drill our way out if only the treehuggers would get out of the way.

Hello TODers,

As posted before: the input energy double whammy for I-NPK; its tendency to rise in price faster than FF prices, appears to continue:

Phosphate has risen by 400 per cent in the past year and is now worth US$200 a tonne.

The Bonaparte Diamond company now plans to dredge marine phosphate from the sea floor.
I am no expert on seafloor mining, but my initial impression is that this would be totally devastating to the area's ocean ecology.

EDIT: IMO, this seems just nuts-- The Athabasca Tarsands might be considered a 'highly-protected wildlife preserve' in comparison to the deadzone that bigtime seafloor mining might cause, especially if it causes a huge methane clathrate release. I hope that we soon abandon flush toilets and move to O-NPK recycling to offset this worrisome I-NPK spiral.

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

I wonder if these Russians read TOD:

Major potash deposit snapped up at record high price

“Currently nothing is stable - the dollar is falling, the rouble - who knows what’s going to happen. We have exchanged money to get irreplaceable resources. It’s worth it,” said Ivan Antonov, Acron CEO.

Acron says current potash prices are abnormally high. However, experts say the premium the companies paid for access to the reserves means they are expecting global potash prices to rise further.
Sitting in Olduvai darkness is pure luxury compared to starvation. I think Ivan Antonov, Acron CEO, truly realizes that I-NPK will be more postPeak valuable to the Overshoot Masses than gold. My feeble two cents.

Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

Uh-oh! "Peruvian guano is again a hot commodity" -->IMO, this is not a good postPeak indicator going forward:

When Guano Imperialists ruled the Earth

...Yes indeed, and if one accepts that synthetic fertilizer has been critical to avoiding a global Malthusian die-off, then billions of people around the world can be thankful that we are not solely dependent on Booby shit for our phosphate requirements. Because there just isn't enough of it.

...Peru's more recent fiscal and political agony, combined with severe overfishing of the once-vast schools of anchoveta that served as the primary food of the guano birds, has once again led to a drastic ecological consequences. Bird populations have plummeted. As Duffy writes, this is too bad for Peru, because, the circle has come round, and Peruvian guano is again a hot commodity, considered now to be one of the world's premier organic fertilizers.
EDIT: the Mo-rock-o P-irates may occur even sooner than I thought!

EDIT2: In the olden days: the pirates prized gold 'Pieces of Eight'.

Will the new P-irates be lustful for 'Pieces of Phosphate'?

Africa: Africom to Focus On Military, Not Humanitarian Role

Just for fun:

The price per barrel of oil today is:

70.49 Euros (down)
117.38 Australian dollars (up)
54.20 British Pounds (up)
108.53 Canadian dollars (up)
11022 Japanese Yen (down)

Interesting. The oil price in British Pounds works out at about £1.70 a gallon. At the pump we pay nearly £5. Our government rips us off in a way they would never dare in the US.

you should be thanking them for it....

I WISH my US gov't would tax the he** out of gasoline - my car stays parked most of the week as I walk and ride my bike

encouraging others to do the same would be great - of course, I would want the $ to go to low-interest loans for solar and wind projects - and with the present admin it would go to no-bid military contracts or bailouts to highly leveraged funds that banked on subprime loans x10, but still, it would give me some hope....

our cheap gas taxes compared to the rest of the industrialized world are the reason our per capita use is so damned high

But what about oil supplies? According to Nansen G. Saleri, current president and CEO of Houston-based consulting firm Quantum Reservoir Impact, and former head of reservoir management for the Saudi oil consortium known at Saudi Aramco, "The world is not running out of oil anytime soon." In Saleri's Wall Street Journal editorial dated March 4, "The World Has Plenty of Oil," he states, "My view, subjective and imprecise, points to a period (when peak oil production occurs) between 2045 and 2067 as the most likely outcome."


(From Leanan's link)

I love this quote! It sounds like he has a really well thought out position!

One SUV, or two?

Peak Oil? Peak Coal will be way back in the rear view mirror by 2067.

2005, 2006 and 2007 Net Oil Exports (total liquids) for Saudi Arabia (Est. for 2007):

2005: 9.1 mbpd
2006: 8.7
2007: 7.9

If you just turn them around they read:

2005 1.9
2006 7.8
2007 9.7

So it is clear that on this rising trend we have no problems until 2067 - that must have been the way he was looking at the figures.

He did say it was a non-precise ball-park figure that we have loads and loads of oil for ages and ages.

petrodyslexia ?

We should be OK for oil until 7602AD then

Great post WT, that is QUALITY!

I don't normally like the frivolous stuff that gets posted here, but I just gotta say that's a total gem. I was feeling really doomerish. but it cheered me up a lot..... highly recommended.

Thanks, Chris

Great catch WT... ROFLMAO

Are there any lawyers on TOD that could comment on the merit of this?


Not the merits of the global warming argument but of the ability to bring suit against gore....

So you're asking about the elements in a cause of action for "fraud"?

Off the top of my head IIRC:
1) knowingly making a material misrepresentation
2) to another who reasonably relies on it
3) and is damaged by his or her reliance on that misrepresentation.

If you go against Gore, I think you will have a tough time proving any if not all of these basic elements. I doubt that Gore is "knowingly" (intentionally) making a misrepresentation. And since Gore is a politician rather than a credentialed scientist, how can one "reasonably" rely on what Gore says? And finally what is your damage for having kicked the fossil fuel addiction habit?

I think they were trying to say individuals and industries might be harmed as the plaintiff due to policy change from GW. Maybe also that carbon credits are a fraud. I don't know exactly but even though I have some problems w Al I think he believes what he is saying and has his heart in the right place. To sue someone for warning you seems ridiculous. In 2040 after that asteroid misses the earth should we sue the NASA guys that said hey this warrants attention? It would not be difficult to sue someone for being mistaken about a dictatorship that might or might not have WMD's after an invasion proves otherwise. Anyway thanks for the reply.....................

sounds a lot like the scopes monkey trial.

Nutters trying to shoot the messenger. Mother nature, she be shootin' back these days.

Oilrig medic,

Mr. Coleman appears to be conflating two separate legal issues. There have been allegations of fraud in the issuing of specific carbon credits. Several companies are accused of selling carbon credits where there are no real emissions offsets. The article contained no facts to support the contention that Mr. Gore has committed such fraud. What the article does mention, however, is the fact that Mr. Coleman thinks a lawsuit would create publicity and intimidate people working in the field of climate change. Issuing fake carbon credits might be fraud. Someone bringing a fraud claim against people like the scientists involved in the IPCC for their claims regarding climate change would have an incredibly hard time proving the first element of fraud that stepping back mentioned. Perhaps Mr. Coleman merely wants to create headlines that contain the words "fraud" and "climate change".

Hello TODers,

From Scientific American:

Fertilizer Runoff Overwhelms Streams and Rivers--Creating Vast "Dead Zones"

The nation's waterways are brimming with excess nitrogen from fertilizer--and plans to boost biofuel production threaten to aggravate an already serious situation.
I would think that this would make legislation easy to pass to force the shutdown of most biofuels, plus force town and city O-NPK humanure recycling. Or are we going to continue until we have no decent drinking water and no fish in our streams, rivers, and oceans?

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

Hat's off to North Carolina. They prohibit Duke energy from selling anyone a fixed contract for energy (someone may pay too much or not enough). Let's hope that they now divert their attention to rent. No lease should be for more than 30 days, since conditions may change and either the Lessor or the Lessee might have struck a bad bargin. No sense in letting anyone actually budget their costs.

I think fixed rates are a bad idea. The problem is that when someone is a bit cold, they simply turn up the thermostat instead of reaching for the sweater. The longer the delay between the (energy) wasteful action, and the bill, the less likely they are to think, "is this the best thing for me to do in this situation". We should replace automatic thermostats with coin operated ones -you want heat or A/C please deposit your money into the slot. I bet sweater sales would skyrocket.

Hello TODers,

Zimbabwe: Engulfed By Sewage

"The disgusting odour is awful and becomes more unbearable by the day," she lamented over the city municipality's failure to repair burst sewers in her locality.

Service delivery has collapsed in Bulawayo, after local authorities recently announced that the municipality was insolvent and unable to cater to the needs of its almost two million residents.

"Our major problem is a shortage of manpower to deal with more than 500 reported cases of sewer bursts," Phathisa Nyathi, the city municipality's spokesman, told IRIN.
Will postPeak 'Murkans just flush away, or will we have the foresight to move to massive O-NPK humanure recycling?

Any guesses on which major American city will be the first to 'enjoy' the constant smell and ill-health of huge, reeking slimepools in their streets and yards?

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

Is this town a viable candidate?

EPA Orders Milford, Massachusetts Town to Fix Harmful Sewage Overflows
U.S. EPA.gov (press release), DC Release date: 03/10/2008

Since January 1, 2001, the Town has had more than 100 incidents of overflows from its sanitary sewer system. When a sanitary sewer overflow, or “SSO,” occurs, raw sewage can be released from the wastewater collection system directly, or indirectly through storm drains, to surface waters or onto streets, where it can pose a direct public health risk. Sewage overflows can also back up into homes and other buildings, posing public health risks and causing property damage.Untreated sanitary sewage contains a variety of pollutants, including pathogens, suspended solids, nutrients, toxic metals and organic compounds that can cause or contribute to violations of water quality standards in the receiving waters. The pathogens present a health risk to persons who come into contact with contaminated water; and nutrients contribute to excessive algae and plant growth in the Charles River.
As municipalities, that earlier invested in the questionable market securities that are now going belly-up, now go broke--will they have the postPeak funds to maintain their sewage systems?

Our Superstitious Friends are Peaking also---
Palm frond shortage looms over Palm Sunday
What's Palm Sunday without the fronds? A blight among the Canary palms in the county has religious leaders fretting as the annual rite draws near. Paloma Esquivel reports:

Norma Foster, president and Emmy-nominated producer of the Hollywood Bowl Easter Sunrise Service, was in crisis mode this week. There were no palm fronds to be found. A frond famine that left Jewish families scrambling last fall for greenery during the annual Sukkot holiday has struck again. This time it’s affecting Christians as they prepare for the Easter holidays.

For years faithful celebrants turned to Los Angeles' tree trimmers for free palm fronds used at Easter and, of course, Palm Sunday (this Sunday). But since last year, officials with the Los Angeles Department of Public Works said they can’t provide freebies because of funding problems and because a fungus — fusarium wilt — plague that can be spread by trimming tools makes cutting the fronds a problem. The wilt afflicts Canary Island palms.

(More on the next page)

Photo - Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

By most accounts, most churches are making do by spending a few extra dollars to purchase the previously free fronds.
But at the Hollywood Bowl, where the Easter sunrise service is as much Hollywood production as it is religious celebration, the inconvenience turned to crisis. For years, volunteers counted on three truckloads of donated fronds to adorn a giant stage in a blanket of green that surrounds a massive cross made of white calla lilies.

This week, Foster took to the phones, pleading for palms. In the end, two companies came to the rescue. Some of the fronds will be replaced by green vinyl backdrop. Others will be donated. Crisis solved. For now. Sukkot is just a few months away.

-- Story by Paloma Esquivel

Thank you for the reference hightekker,

One of TOD's "superstitious friends" reporting here. Spent last evening folding palm crosses with parishioners. I can attest to the horrible quality of palm fronds this year.

As a sacramental and orthodox Christian, I ponder the steps that will be necessary for returning to local supplies once peak everything hits. There was a time when the bread and the wine at a Eucharist (a.k.a. Communion) feast were locally produced and were viewed as an offering by the regional farming community. That was three or four generations ago.

The "convenience" of a fossil fuel motorized world and globalization has affected all aspects of daily life in the West to an extent that very few people understand or appreciate.

Losing what we've taken for granted may be a sure-tell sign of a deeper hubris - a pride that is truly deadly.

Well, for starters, you religious guys might begin by accepting the fact that population growth is at the center of the problems we face. That goes to the basics facts of biology, including the concept of "carrying capacity" of the land and of ecosystems in general. If we can't manage to limit population, then there's no hope, given the impending shortages. That implies that all possible means of limiting population must be used, including education, birth control, abortion and family planning. Else, the 4 Horsemen will arrive on the scene and do the job for you.

Those who lead the sheeple from the pulpit must learn about science. That includes learning that there are no miracles in science, which is to say, there's no evidence that the basic Laws of Physics can be suddenly switched off in a miraculous event, then turned back on afterwards. And, while we are at it, accept that Evolution is at the heart of modern biology and medicine. Evolution is a fundamental node in the web of the geo sciences, which have measured the age of the Earth to be about 4.55 Billion years, not the 6 thousand or so as claimed by some who take the Bible as absolute truth. If the general population can't be led to accept the basics of science, how will they understand the more complicated issues, such as Climate Change and Peak Oil? You guys have one hell of a job to do, so you better get with it.

E. Swanson

Black Dog,

I would agree with much of what you say.

Do not judge all Christians with the same brush. I know that elements of the American religious experience treat scripture much like a science text book. Anyone with a modicum of knowledge about broad based Christian doctrine, particularly from the Patristics, recognizes this to be a distortion of traditional Christianity. Scriptural literalism is viewed by many orthodox and mainline Christians as a form of apostasy where the written word has been turned into an idol.

Modern western thought and philosophy has loss sight of the significance and importance of the symbol. Dichotomy has replaced the role of paradox in understanding the teachings of the church. As a result, we live in a culture that has a boxed and flattened worldview.

Fundamentalism, particularly the American brand although not exclusively, is a very modern phenomenon. It should be noted that many of its key doctrines originated within the last two centuries. The strange part is that they don't see the irony. Fundamentalists share with their critics the same blind spot: truth as proof.

Secularists can be equally dogmatic and stupid sometimes. The important thing to remember is to use your brain. Reason is both a curse and a blessing for humanity.

As Albert Eistein so aptly put it, "science without faith is lame; religion without science is blind".

Scriptural literalism is viewed by many orthodox and mainline Christians as a form of apostasy where the written word has been turned into an idol.

An excellent thought, and new to me - thanks.

The whole idea of this kind of literalism, which of course is not very literal at all as it heavily interprets, originated I believe with the printing press - normal people, usually skilled workers and such, learnt their letters from the bible at a time when the art of writing itself was held in some awe, as being traditionally something of a priestly act.

The confusion then was easy between a book 'about' God, to a book 'by' God, and in the usual practises of magic, the symbol of a thing was confounded with the thing itself.

In the words of Joseph Campbell regarding creationism, as near as I can remember them,
'To read poetry and take it as a statement of historical fact is to prove oneself a dolt'

In the words of Joseph Campbell regarding creationism, as near as I can remember them,
'To read poetry and take it as a statement of historical fact is to prove oneself a dolt'

Thanks DaveMart for this quote. One that I hadn't read before -- though I like the writings of Joseph Campbell -- and one that I'll be sure to add to my collection. Cheers!

When I am a ghost I am going to thump the ghost of Joseph Campbell.

He explained so many diverse things so beautifully that I thought I understood them, from Wolfram von Eschenbach to Joyce to the philosophy of Kant.

So I tried reading 'The Critique of Pure Reason'.

I read the first paragraph and my head hurt.

It has been hurting ever since.

I tried 'Ulysses' and got sick - just like D.H. Lawrence.

His intellect shone so brightly that he could make the dull imagine that they had comprehension beyond their means.

I am particularly fond of his explanation of polite phrasing in the Japanese language - if someone's father has died you say:

'I hear your father is playing dead' - the implication being that their father is in such an exulted state of consciousness that he takes little notice of trivia, such as whether he is dead or alive.

That is what I find a little difficult here, the attitude that if you calculate that the chances are that the world will effectively end, you should resign yourself.
Despair is not only counterproductive, it is much worse, it is downright ungentlemanly! - you should not take excessive notice as to whether your endeavours are likely to be crowned by success.

Sorry for the ramble - Campbell is one of my favourite subjects, along with Manchester United Football Club.


Train freight volume off - this one is public, the person who sent the link tells me a bunch of other stuff I can not divulge but its grim.


Hello SCT,

Thxs for this info--too bad we don't have the breakout by product class. I would be keenly interested in knowing if Canadian Railway shipments of Saskatchewan I-NPK fertilizers and raw sulphur shipments from Athabasca are down [possibly weather-related?]. This could portend future higher prices and/or more outright shortages for those countries importing these vital goods. Or conversely: we are headed into a hell of a global recession; everyone is now financially tapped out and ordering less goods to be moved by rail. Recall from earlier posts that China now imports 90% of their sulphur.

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