DrumBeat: March 21, 2008

BHP Biliton Evacuates Neptune

Australian producer BHP-Billiton has removed all personnel from its Neptune tension leg platform (TLP) in the deep-water US Gulf after inspections discovered ‘anomalies’ in the facility’s hull.

Mexico Diverts Pemex Exploration Monies

The Mexican newspaper El Universal reported that the Finance Ministry would “reassign” funds the company was planning to use to explore for oil and gas for other programmes.

Commodities fall Worst in over 50 years

``The oil-price slump, along with all the other commodities, resulted from the dollar staging a rally, so the large funds flowed out of the commodities complex,'' said Victor Shum, senior principal at consultants Purvin & Gertz Inc. in Singapore.

Slump Moves From Wall St. to Main St.
Published: March 21, 2008

In Seattle, sales at a long-established hardware store, Pacific Supply, are suddenly dipping. In Oklahoma City, couples planning their weddings are demonstrating uncustomary thrift, forgoing Dungeness crab and special linens. And in many cities, the registers at department stores like Nordstrom on the higher end and J. C. Penney in the middle are ringing less often.

With Wall Street caught in a credit crisis that has captured headlines, the forces assailing the economy are now spreading beyond areas hit hardest by the boom-turned-bust in real estate like California, Florida and Nevada. Now, the downturn is seeping into new parts of the country, to communities that seemed insulated only months ago.

I have described what is going on as “Cheap is the new chic.”

Last nite with friends having dinner, the talk was of selling
a house in my family.

I said sell the house now, and everyone immediately came in with a
version of, "Don't sell it now! the market is terrible. Wait."

And I just couldn't say anything, because if I had. it would've been,

"but this is as good as it's going to get."

"If the stock markets go up with many other parts of the economy still in full-blown, long-term crisis mode, a new and better use of the word “decoupling” might be to refer to the detachment of the financial economy from the rest of the economy. What exactly would it mean, and what would it feel like, for us to have a Dow at 14,000 or even higher while house foreclosures keep soaring to record heights, venerable retailers like Sears and Kmart tank to the point of crumbling (NYT: “Saving Sears Doesn’t Look Easy Anymore“), millions of consumers experience a personal financial crash due to over-indebtedness and other problems, and soaring food and fuel prices — happy news for traders in those areas, grim news for everybody else — keep squeezing us all relentlessly?


Nothing has been fixed. Nothing has changed.

Richard Heinberg-

It’s becoming increasingly likely that 2008 will go down in history as the year the Second Great Depression began.

Nothing is moving from the yard at Warrenton, OR Weyerhauser mill. They are said to be losing $1M or more a month. No doubt, this is a pattern everywhere. Weyerhauser just sold its containerboard unit to International Paper --

We'll all be eating potatoes out here on the coast pretty soon -- and happy to get them, I believe.

Thank you for that. I know in Arkansas last year there was a wave of
pine mill closings.

No, it was 2006!

Maybe Bernanke should consult these guys:

"TIED TO HOUSING Annual housing starts, which peaked at more than 2 million units in 2005, fell in September to the equivalent of fewer than 1. 2 million units, a 40 percent drop. Because the typical new wood-framed home requires about 15, 000 board feet of lumber, the 800, 000 drop in housing units translates into a roughly 12 billion board feet drop in lumber demand. That decline compares with about 2. 45 billion board feet of softwood lumber production in Arkansas in 2006 and total U. S. softwood consumption in 2006 of 60 billion board feet, according to the Southern Forest Products Association.

Lumber prices and demand are not expected to improve before spring 2009.

“They think that 2008 will be just about a carbon copy of 2007,” said John Grigsby, operations manager at H. G. Toler & Son Lumber Co. in Leola.

Henry Spelter, a forest economist at the U. S. Forest Service’s Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wis., agrees. "


Lumber is about the only construction material declining in price and has been for a good year or 2...

Glass half full....
This will give forests a chance to recover.

Same paradigm, in fact, applies across the mine and harvest spectrum.
Bad for the economy = Good for Mother Earth

This came to my mind too, if only I could believe that it wasn't just delaying the inevitable...

Just arrived here from the other thread about how we need to stop growing. But as soon as a crisis hits, we mainly talk about how horrible it is that we are consuming less of our natural resources in the form of lumber, for example. We are going to do everything we can to keep the growth economy going. Fear and greed trumps all.

Our family home of 20 years is being spruced up with a view to sale this spring.

Two kids out by fall at Uni most of the time, cashing out to a smaller house will make us debt free. Still be room for the kids between term time.

Even my wife did not take any persuasion. And she loves this house.

(As her Polish granny used to say: ''Never fall in love with something you cannot carry on your back'').

Around Aberdeenshire it is still boom time and at the peak of the market.

That is the plan , any way.

Trick is to move faster than the UK credit crunch - which is moving at speeds approaching that of a Pyroclastic Flow...

I have never seen anything like this before.

Within the space of two weeks, it may even be too late.

Trying to sell a $500k (we hope!) house in Dallas historic district. 6 years ago my wife and I both sold smaller homes near here within a month of posting a FSBO sign in yard, now we're lucky if we get a call and it's been 6 weeks WITH an MLS this time. Although Dallas prices have leveled compared to coasts, we're not yet in decline but, then again, we never appreciated as much as FL & CA. Things have defintely softened. Hope to get out before the/a crash. Any suggestions on where to store cash until while we wait for the bottom?

I think it depends:

If you think bottom has not occured, then cash out now and rent, taking advantage of getting back in when bottom is truly reached.

Trouble is, in this new world paradigm, is there a true bottom? : - 0

Here, the market is looking like reaching a peak (still climbing, but rate of climb is slowing)

But in my case, maximising cash equity is only one side of the story.

I intend to try and maximise equity with one sole purpose: Buy something smaller for cash. Cancel all debts, maybe get a little cash in hand, ensure kids get through college with no tuition debt.

I think this may be important: Debt slave / indentured bondsman avoidence may make a significant difference to peoples lives in the next decade.

I believe the game is over.

You leave the table with the chips you got.

Leave it much longer, then you leave the table with no chips at best, or you leave IOU's with other, unpleasant players.

Like I said before:

If you leave this site with nothing else but a fair understanding of Jeff Brown's ELP , it may save your life, it will save your sanity.

He went through a mild form of this shit through the 80's. Though at the time, it probably did not seem so mild.

It too have been through this shit , but on a milder scale.

In a decade hence there will be clear winners and losers:

The winners will have Downsized in time, The will have ELP'd. They will still have enough humanity, wit, intellegence and ability to communicate and entertain without recourse to measuring life by how much 'stuff' you can accumulate.

The losers will be those who mistook stuff and things and status for life.

Psychologically, we in the west are about to go back in time by at least 80 years.

We are going to live in a world where credit is rare to non existant; where any credit is local, communal and only given to a man of known honesty and trustworthiness. Only given to a man who has 'social credit'.

That is my tuppence worth.

Each man is responsible for his own family's well being. Each must decide how best to negotiate this chicane (or banking chicanary...).

My plan is to cash out now.

I may fail.

But I will try.

I was born in a two room back to back in a northern industrial city.

I can hack a lot worse than my very pleasant middle class life by simply down sizing a notch.

And I am very lucky in the woman I married.

She comes from a people who fled in the night with what they could carry.

Handy that.

In a tight squeeze.

Any suggestions on where to store cash until while we wait for the bottom?

Depends on what you fear. Hyperinflation or famine or ill-legimate government(s) or bank failures have a different answer than depression or price collapse.

As you are already betting on price collapse - short term government bonds might be a good place as the transaction costs in/out should be minimal. Precious metals has been a historic store of value, but sometimes the value goes down.

Good luck on making the right bet.

As Mudlogger noted, OIl Patch survivors have "Been there, done that," regarding deflation, at least on an industry basis. What saved my bacon in the late Eighties was when I went to my boss at the time and literally demanded a 50% pay cut--offset by an equity interest in oil deals I generated. I suspected that layoffs were coming and by cutting my salary by 50%, I moved myself from the highest paid employee to the least paid. And as I suspected, there was a round of layoffs.

Regarding your house, if I were you I would cut the price to 5% below the last comparable sale, and then keep cutting it by 5% below the last comparable sale.

I believe that 90 day T-Bill rates are down to about 0.21% . Stashing cash, in amounts over $100,000, is beginning to be a real problem. Real T-Bill interest rates, after inflation, have been negative for a while, but there is some chance that nominal T-Bill rates could go negative. You would actually pay the government to hold your money for you (I think that it happened in the Thirties), and a lot of T-Bill money market funds probably have negative yields now.

Regarding your house, if I were you I would cut the price to 5% below the last comparable sale, and then keep cutting it by 5% below the last comparable sale.

How much do you want to bet westtexas isn't taking his own advice? and how much do you want to be he'll use Spousal Nesting Syndrom as his excuse.

Actually, when I can sell, pricing the house at 5% less than the last comparable sale is precisely what I plan to do. As I explained in my missive, I have some personal experience in surviving deflationary cycles. Partly because of that experience, we never went crazy in real estate, and we live in a much smaller home than what we could have techically afforded (I would just prefer to be in a two bedroom rented unit).

In any case, you will note that they have basically had zero activity after six weeks--that kind of sounds to me like the property is overpriced.

BTW, why don't you go over the recommendations in the following article, posted almost a year ago, and see how people would have fared if they had followed my advice to radically downsize then?

ELP Plan (April, 2007)

Wasn't it Dr Abernathy that said -- regarding smoking; "Do as I say, not as I do?"

WT may be constrained in following his own advice, but it doesn't mean it's not sound.

Being above market price in a falling price environment is not a good place to be--much better to be somewhat below market price in a falling price environment.

This also holds true for labor costs, which is one of the advantages of implementing aggressive cost cutting, it allows you to underprice your competitors for declining job opportunities. If people want to do as I did, you should give some serious thought to going into to your boss's office and demanding a pay cut.

I'm using the strategy as I attempt to sell my Subaru. Unfortunately, the glut of used Subarus plus this strategy still have not resulted in a sold Subaru.

Stashing cash, in amounts over $100,000, is beginning to be a real problem.

Hmm. That's just a stack of 100 coins. About the size of a thermos of coffee.

Also, if I may interject this. It may be of an advantage in 1-10 years to NOT have anyone KNOW you have money.(that by definition leaves all electronic money out).

In 10 years, I don't know if I would trust the Gov at that time knowing what I have any more than I would want a burgler to know what I had.

Just sayin...

BTW, there is a REAL problem getting physical silver right now. For those interested in those things...

To ease the sting a little bit I try to look at the low rates of return on cash as the temporary cost of capital preservation.

I recommend that you speak your truth as you see it.

Over a year ago I told two different friends "Stop waiting, stop fixing the place up to make it more attractive. Sell for whatever you can get for it. Residential housing prices will decline more-or-less continuously for years." Of course they didn't; one has lost the house to foreclosure and the other is making payments on two houses as the value of both declines. That's the bad news.

The good news is: now they both take my ravings about PO a lot more seriously.

Errol in Miami


One more thought about "speaking your truth".

Last year people on this site derided you for saying "depression by Christmas". I think time will bear your out.

IMO the last Great Depression (actually the second "Great Depression" in US history, but people like to forget these things) actually started with the collapse of the Florida real estate bubble in 1926. The system just had enough momentum that 'injections of liquidity' (margin loans) kept the creaking edifice together till 1929.

Errol in Miami

"I have described what is going on as “Cheap is the new chic.”

or, paraphrasing a once popular country song
"i was shabby when shabby wasnt chic"

High gas prices force Americans to drive less

Rising gas prices are finally at a level which is causing a majority of Americans to change their driving habits.

Seventy-two percent of respondents to a recent poll said recent price increases in gasoline has caused financial hardship for them or their households, according to a national CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Wednesday.

"For some time we've been trying to determine the breaking point for when gas prices take their toll on the consumer," said John Kilduff, an energy analyst at the trading firm MF Global. "It appears we've found that point." CNNMoney.com


Has it started to bite, already ?
In a Norwegian version of this news 5% of them asked say they have quit using their car entirely ...

For the first time that I recall, I saw a guy get out of a bus in North Dallas with a folding bike, unfold it and pedal off to work. An everyday occurrence in many areas of course, but something new for the auto-centric North Dallas area. He may be at risk of being seized and sent off to an auto dealer run reeducation camp. . .

The mainstream media as a whole is one big re-education camp on this subject. Witness this latest example in a Farmer's Insurance ad that is just another media portrayal of bikes as quaint playthings. The subtext is 'let us help you be normal and get back into a car.' Here's a video posting of the ad if you want to watch.

They are wasting their time. Money talks, and with petrol at it's current price bikes will increasingly be ridden in preference to driving, quaint playthings or no. The media are just spitting in to the wind. Invest in shares of bikes makers.

Interesting that an insurance company is behind the commercial. So far the insurance sector (homes, autos, small biz) have dodged most of the flak from the economic slowdown. I suspect that insurers are beginning to feel the effects of slower new car sales and reduced insurance income from homes that have been vacated. Many small businesses are going under here in central Florida so insurers are probably experiencing losses there as well.

Anecdotal aside: We received notice that our home insurance was going to be cancelled some months ago, a normal occurance in Florida of late. We had been with the company many years with no claims. Recently we received a call from the insurance company asking 'would you like us to attempt to place you with another company?' Our answer...'No, we will self insure' which brought an audible gasp from the phone. We still carry the Fed flood insurance...Priced at about $300 per yr it's a bargain.

Gotta love that action...Good customer that pays insurance bill on time with never a claim...Insurer cancells customer and offers to help place them with another, unheard of company, at a higher rate.

One more good reason to avoid mortgages and re-fis.

Our answer...'No, we will self insure'

Since I have never considered that as an option, what's involved ? Just a lot of cash ?

Since I have never considered that as an option, what's involved ? Just a lot of cash ?


If you own the property without a lean that says 'as terms of this lean you shall carry insurance to cover us, the holder of the lean' - who is to stop you?

Besides - if the property is going to be subject to destruction in riots or a nice war - the insurance is null and void. (But you CAN get it covered if you pay extra of terrorist coverage!)

This probably isn't a good idea. You stand something like a 1 in 500 chance of having your home burn down during your lifetime. (This may be higher or lower depending on where you are)

Unless you have the financial assets to be able to weather losing your home unexpectedly, insurance is a must.

What you CAN do is keep extra cash around and opt for a high deductible.

Depends too on what Tax Law says.

If you had a 50K income and lost a 100-200K home and could write off the loss over years, ya might do just fine. In the case of totaling with fire, you still have the demo costs - last time I looked at demo costs that was 20K for a 2 story 100 year old wood building.

I've never bothered looking into tax law WRT an un-insured home loss. Plenty of case law should be now generated due to Katrina....

Silence, thanks for your concern. I am 63 and currently own 3 homes, two rentals. I have owned many homes in the past. None of them has burned down nor have there been fires of any description. Maybe I have been fortunate but I have taken precautions to prevent electrical fires.

I can afford to repair or replace my home if it is totally destroyed and the effort would not send me to a home under an overpass. Of course if this misadministration and the Fed continue to destroy the dollar none of us will be secure...the damn money will be worthless and lose it's status as world reserve currency. If that happens oil prices in dollars will skyrocket and we will see a major recession.

I have hidey-holes for cash gold and silver but not around the house.

I am simply fed up with Florida Insurance (un) Regulation and the insurance companies. The only money they will receive from me in future is for my vehicles and motorcycles. I carry high liability coverage for those because many drivers in Florida are uninsured in any meaningful way...in fact, many drivers in Florida are driving around with suspended or revoked liscenses...and drunk. I carry comprehensive with high deductables.

Also remember that most homeowners policies include personal liability coverage and will also pay for your legal defense if sued for a covered incident. Just something to keep in mind.

Hi Yohahn, I appreciate your reply and concern. After the screwing that the people living on the Gulf Coast and in NO received after Rita and Katrina...Well, lets just say that I would rather be self insured than have to drag an insurance company into court...Years after the storms, some of the storm victims are still wrestling with insurance companys.

I have a damned good lawyer and he has been very effective in the past. I would rather have him than an insurance policy...which is really just another piece of paper.

I second that. All State and State Farm have disgraced themselves !

If/when I build the house I want (garage apt that meets Passiv Haus standards, solar PV that can get by Historic District standards) in the Lower Garden District, I plan to make it fire-proof, first class electrical system, 200 mph wind resistance, 8' up to anything that can be water damaged), I will likely forego most types of insurance.

Liability is certainly needed, perhaps flood.

Best Hopes for not needing insurance,


Liability is certainly needed, perhaps flood.

But is not flood insurance "the government"?

What happens to that insurance when 'the people' say 'screw' to the 50+% tax rates?

"I have a damned good lawyer"

i have one too, a bulldog in a suit. what many dont realize is that when you file a claim with the ins co. you turn over the right to defend yourself in court.

have you considered forming a holding corporation (with limited liability) to "hold" your property ?

Silence - you've really bought into the propaganda. Even using your own logic, there is good reason not to buy insurance. Assume your 1-500 chance is correct. That means that, if I'm a statistically average guy, I'll have one house burn down in every 500 lives I live. Sure, it could be this life, but that's a 500-1 longshot! I think I'd be willing to take that chance. Certainly, the insurance company thinks its a good bet that my house won't burn down, otherwise they wouldn't be willing to sell me that insurance.

Hey River, I'm considering doing the same thing. The thing that holds me back is I lost a house in the Oakland fire.

Regarding your post yesterday on the piece Citigroup put out on deleveraging, Russ Winter put up an article today that I think is probably right on Citi's intentions: http://wallstreetexaminer.com/blogs/winter/?p=1502

In a lender of only resort situation [i.e. the Fed as the only lender] there is huge incentive to force quick, crisis “lending decisions” on the lender. Therefore a climate of constant turmoil and instability will be further encouraged by this arrangement. Trouble will arrive out of nowhere almost daily, as predatory tactics put the big squeeze on some vulnerable foil. Long overdue credit downgrades will “suddenly” materialize from the stooges...

After “emergency meetings”, “rescuers” will arrive on the scene to take over with free loans and backstops from the Fed. Key assets will be stripped, and the sludge will be jettisoned on to the next victim... Once successful, those flesh eating bacteria institutions on the lender of only resort’s “favored list” will turn their attention to other foils. The goal now is mostly certainly not to bail out the whole financial system, just forget that one right now. That is impossible when fictitious capital can’t be supported. Instead the financial sphere will be rapidly downsized, large layoffs spun as bullish, and power and capital more intensely concentrated.

Hi Moe, sorry for the late reply...I went for a ride. I answered in the post up thread that I have taken precautions for fires caused by electrical problems. We have the home we live in and a couple of smaller detached rentals on beachside. All are stucco over block which doesn't burn well. The two rentals are tar and chip flat roofs (best for high winds). The one we live in has a very high trussed roof with the heaviest shingles available. I put the shingles on myself so they are right.

Don't ask me why I have rentals in this economy...I must be charitable for I am not making money on them anymore. Insurance (and taxes) in Fl since the hurricanes has gone up a lot. Our youngest daughter used to live in one of the houses but has moved to Ashville. I suppose I would get rid of the rentals if the re market recovers...or, maybe not. At my age I am not interested in making a lot of money but I would like to avoid getting skinned. Basically, the wife and I have what we want and spend little money...Believe it or not we are that rare breed, savers. Recently, we liquidated money markets and laddered into cds...I know that is a money loser but the money markets have large exposures to financials and discretionary bs...our's were sinking. We have no debt except the normal utilities, phone, food, occasional dinners out. We both like to cook and we eat well...too well. We both saw most of the world in our younger years. We used to take great trips to Reno, Vegas and NO but haven't been on airplanes since the cavity searches began. Funny story, when the new gated 600 unit apartment complex opened behind the Imperial Palace opened in 1988 we rented one of the apts...ran ac on dead low all the time and electric bill averaged $38 mo. How much is electric in Vegas now? We take 1-2 vacations a year and sometimes I go on long rides with my buds...We are both retired and living in Fl, semi-set in our habits, why would we go on vacation? :)

With the rentals - if soemthing did happen to the un-insured home, you'd have a place to go.

If they are paid for and you can make the tax nut - they may become the only way to have an income if things turn REALLY bad.

I work for a major personal lines insurer, and we are undergoing layoffs. Part of it is due to forced rate reductions by aggressive insurance comissioners, but also insurance companies rely on investments to make money. Many insurance companies actually do not make any profits from the insurance side of the businesss, but use the cash flow for investment. Waren buffet calls this the "float". As the investments continue to dry up, companies will be forced to cut expenses (including possibly myself, I've been put on notice)and/or raise rates.

The mainstream media as a whole is one big re-education camp...

Couldn't agree more. Study Psyops and opinion shaping topics. It's a hologram as Joe describes...

The Great American Media Mind Warp

...Watch television in countries with supposedly primitive media, and after a while you will be shocked at the technologically mediated and shape-shifted image of the world presented to Americans -- how the hologram makes incongruous parts suddenly fit together and make sense in its own parallel universe.

For instance, a while back I saw a video clip of an ethanol-fueled automobile driving past waves of grain with the Rockies in the background and a rippling American flag ghosted into the sky.

These four elements of the clip, food grain fields, the automotive industry, the natural beauty of the Rockies and the national emblem have not much to do with each in the natural world, but they have everything to do with one another in the context of corporate empire.

Together, they indicate the national ethos. We accept such an image as naturally as the baby accepts the tit, and the idea of burning the earth's food to create gasses that will turn the snowcapped mountains into desertified mountains is greeted happily as something newer and better than the old system of destroying the atmosphere and environment. Mentally we can identify separate elements, isolate things into categories. But the hologram nevertheless remains seamless in its interconnection of all things that benefit the corporate state generating it. Parsed, divided and isolated, any part contains the entire logic (or governing illogic) of the whole -- consuming.

In effect, the economic superstate generates a superhologram that offers only one channel, the shopping channel, and one sanctioned collective national experience in which every aspect is monetized and reduced to a consumer transaction. The economy becomes our life, our religion, and we are transfigured in its observance.


After 8 years of workbiking, I'd bought a Zap Xebra PK (electric) for my work vehicle. I love it. It works for me doing the heavier loads of tools I often carry.

Last week I did something that I never pictured myself doing. I worked as a rep at the Twin Cities International Auto Show -- the 7th largest in the nation. I was, of course, repping Zap -- but we had scooters and an electric bike and two folders on display as well.

If I have time I'd love to do a summary of the experience for TOD.

Talk about propaganda mixed with quiet desperation.

We had a crowd of curious folks much of the time. People were asking serious questions, and there was much talk of gas prices, resource depletion, global warming, and the like around our booth.

Other dealer reps mentioned that gas mileage was the most asked question at the show. The guys at GM were trying to tout ethanol and the promised electric and hydrogen vehicles, but had plenty of gas guzzlers to try to sell.

Vehicles over 3 tons did not have to display the mileage numbers at all -- the Hummer and so forth.

The comments I got about cars, oil, pollution, and terrorism were all over the map.

Some people believe that there is more oil in South Dakota than Saudi Arabia ever had, and that the wells are drilled and capped off. Another man told me that he was told that "they" drilled through three miles of granite in Oklahoma and found the biggest pool of oil (yes, "pool of oil") in the world. This happened years ago, and the well is just capped off and waiting.

Other people believe that we need to use more military power to gain control of the oil supplies in the Middle East. Our problems are OPEC's fault.

Many people were just afraid and confused, as all of the assumptions they've been making have been shaken over the past few years.

Some folks were angry, had seen "Who Killed The Electric Car" and wanted to know why there were not more options available.

Lots of folks looked pretty hard at scooters and the bikes as well.

We signed lots of folks up for test drives.

Other people believe that we need to use more military power to gain control of the oil supplies in the Middle East.

Why not just make 'em the 51st+ states? Get all the bennies of being an American!

You mean, of course, "Syriana." :)

We're doing that, but without the benefits.

There was a Simpsons episode set in the near future where a teenaged Lisa Simpson exclaimed, "It's as American as the 51st state - Saudi Israelia!"

The comment about South Dakota having more oil than Saudi Arabia does have some merit. The Bakken formation of western North Dakota, northwestern South Dakota, eastern Montana, and southern Saskatchewan has an estimated 400 billion barrels of OOIP (oil in place). This site describes the details and the tremendous problems in getting the oil out: www.ndoil.org

I previously posted some details of the Bakken formation, the most notable being the ability to recover only 1% of this oil using the best available production/drilling technology and the wells costing $6 million each (2006 figure, now closer to $10 million per well). This is very high development cost for onshore oil. Other problem is 2000 to 4000 wells will be scattered over a 200,000 square mile area that has limited water resources and sparse transportation network.

Some estimates of max flow of this huge reservior are 500,000 to 1,000,000 barrels per day (2.5 to 5.5% of US consumption). Development costs will be tens to a hundred billion dollars and be made over many years (20?). Yes we have more oil than Saudia Arabia, but cost to produce most of it will far exceed its market value. Bakken oil is largely a "horizon" resource.

Bakken oil is largely a "horizon" resource.

Unless your other choice is to take pine trees and make fuel for the zero's.

Some estimates for Canadian Bakken URR were >150,000 barrels per well. In 2007 the Bakken drilling efforts were economically viable. Some estimates for Bakken oil recoveries were 4 million barrels per section in some parts of the formation. The recovery period for one well might be decades.

In the most recent EIA weekly oil inventory, production and use report, US gasoline consumption was down -0.1% over the same week last year.

Yes, we *ARE* cutting back !

Generally, most weeks gasoline consumption is up by a hair y-o-y.

Best Hopes for Conservation and Price Elasticity of Demand,


I'm on a kick making sure when I read comparisons that like and like are being compared. Here is another case where the EIA is comparing unlike and unlike unless there is an adjustment for population and the number of vehicles.

If I recall correctly the population increases at a rate of about 1% per year in the United States or about 3 million which I believe includes illegal immigration. On a per capita basis the real decline in consumption should be about 1.1 percent over the same week last year IMO.

On a per vehicle basis it could be much higher since sales of new cars and trucks are in the area of 15 million lately. I would suspect that a lot of these new vehicles are more energy efficient like the Prius. Truck sales have not been good and I have noticed fewer on the road. If this is all true it is possible that even though consumption declined 1.1% per capita, consumption per vehicle may have declined even more all the while miles driven may have actually increased due to gas guzzlers being parked and gas sippers being driven instead. If this scenario is correct, it is an indication that the effect of Peak Oil is being mitigated at the moment and the economy may not be suffering as much as some think.

My point is that logic is more important than numbers. Numbers are not very meaningful with out valid logic to back them up.

The volume of world oil exports does not magically adjust to compensate for each oil importing nations population increase.

Increasing population (US fertility just took a jump up :-( means that there is less to go around for each individual.

However, in the bidding war for the remaining oil, the increasing # of USA consumers is just a handicap. What matters is total US consumption and NOT per capita consumption.

BTW, the WSJ noted that "small car" sales in 2007 rose +0.2% above the 2006 levels, while other categories shrank.

I am dismissive of claims that Americans are now "conserving". At a bare minimum, total US oil demand (lead by gasoline) should be going down -4%/year (-5.x% per capita). It isn't.


US Heavy residual oil use is down -28%. I assume industry has switched to natural gas and less asphalt is being used.

Alan, Yes, the meager response so far suggests we will see much higher gasoline prices.

I think the thing to watch is percentage of income going to energy. We've reached 1980 oil prices. But we haven't reached 1980 % of income going to oil (about 8% in 1980-1981 versus over 6% now). My guess is we need $130+/barrel oil to reach that point. Then we'll see real demand destruction if the past is a guide.

It's just the propaganda machine doing what it does every single time oil hits a new high $10 above its old high.

Every single time they say:

1. It doesn't matter; the economy uses less oil per unit of GDP now

2. It's all speculators

3. Americans are finally starting to conserve

4. It's the dollar/a bubble

5. OPEC's about to pump more/Brazil has found a monumental discovery/there's enough oil in Iraq to power the world for 100 years

The price returns to test the old high, just as it always does, and all the analysts at Bloomberg are polled and say it's going to drop even more.

We see the price linger in a trading range at this level for a few weeks as the commercial traders accumulate contracts as cheaply as possible. The price then breaks out again and the speculators pile back on, taking you up to the next perfectly predictable high at exactly the level it's statistically most likely to hit.

The price returns to test the old high, just as it always does, and all the analysts at Bloomberg are polled and say it's going to drop even more.

Bloomberg used to report the success rate of their analysts predictions. Once it dropped below 50% (more often wrong than right) they just stopped reporting that figure.

You know, I hadn't noticed that, but you're right! lol

interesting, those highly practical norwegians. typical 'merkuns on the other hand seem to believe dick cheney: "merkuns way of life is not negotiable." 'merkuns dont see high gas prices as an opportunity to conserve, always that "financial hardship" whine.
and as someone pointed out on here a few days ago. conservation is one way to beat inflation.

Shell exec says world not running out of oil

John Hofmeister, the Houston-based president of Shell Oil's U.S. operations, expressed doubt about the validity of peak oil theory in an appearance on CNBC's Squawk Box show.

"The peak oil theory has really swamped the world. God bless Matt Simmons," Hofmeister told CNBC anchor Carl Quintanilla, according to a transcript provided to WND by CNBC. "His assumptions are correct based on his hypotheses, but his hypotheses are too narrow."


"I would be delighted to be wrong on all this," Simmons wrote, "but too much hard data is too specific, and the optimist case is all faith-based theories."

The world is maybe not running out of oil next year or whatever, but it definitely is running out of intelligent and responsible oil-folks , that are for sure.
Has that Shell-man not understood the concept of PO yet ?
I mean it’s not about that running-out thing – it’s the other thing, that thing which "craves" above 100 IQ to be understood.

Thus my suggestion in yesterday's DB that maybe there's a need for

Peak Oil for Dummies
subtitle: It's not about running out of oil

As others commented, a book is less likely be purchased much less read and some of the fine DVDs out like "Crude Impact" might have more of an impact (pun intended).

Perhaps a "petition signed" by all of us at TOD sent to all the major world wide broadcast and cable providers with a list of the most relevant documentaries they might consider showing.

I know licensing, royalties, etc.

This is grasping at straws, but aren't we all about to - figuratively if not really?


Of course he understands Peak Oil. Probably better than most of us, but he has to pretend that he doesn't. His job is to sell oil, and you don't do that by admitting that production has peaked, because the sheeple might wake up and realize it's a limited resource. Then there'd be calls to do something about it. And that something would inevitably lead to lower oil sales.

To paraphrase Upton Sinclair:

It is difficult to get a man to admit to understanding something when his job depends on not understanding it.

If you read this whole article you will notice that the author winds up peddling abiotic oil.

The abiotic theory would suggest more deep-earth discoveries of oil should be forthcoming, especially with new technology to find and recover cost-effectively offshore oil.

With more than 70 percent of the earth covered by water, much previously unexplored territory remains to be explored for oil, as ultra-deep drilling technology continues to progress.

70 percent of the earth, the deep ocean part, has not yet been previously explored. Just drill deep into the basement basalt at the bottom of the ocean and you will hit that abiotic oil. That basalt, far harder and heavier than granite, was pushed up at the mid oceanic rifts that are pushing the continents apart. It was, at the time, completely molten lava. Now it contains abiotic oil, or so the theory goes.

Ron Patterson

Actually, I would think redidual hydrocarbon content in basaltic rock would be a reasonable test of the abiotic theory of oil. If the earth really does have a Creamy Nougat Center(TM) of oil, then there should be a detectable residue of whatever remains when you cook oil at the temperature of molten rock.

Hey! Maybe that's where diamonds come from!

I am aghast that this snake oil merchant Corsi is still peddaling this tripe about abiotic oil.

Frankly, it is criminal that such a scientifically unsound hypothesis can continue to divert attention from the hard truths.

Has he not studied ANY Deep Ocean Geology? This is Geology 101. First Term.

Sweet Weeping Mary, it isnt even Geology - 101. You could get this from a general interest coffee table book on planet earth .

Question for him:

If the abiotic process is a continual phenomena from chemical reactions in the Mantle, and if Earth (mark II) is 3.8 billion years old or so, then why are we not drowning in a global sea of liquid hydrocarbons?

Answer: God made it so, so that we would not drown. And anyway, the whole process has only been in operation since God created the world on October the 4th, 4004 BC , About Teatime....

Or maybe subterranean Neibelungen operate the Fischer Tropsch factories in a sensible and controlled manner for we who live in Midgaard.


The 'Peak Oil' Theory: Will Oil Reserves Run Dry?

Oil's recent slide and the slackening demand that an economic slowdown's expected to bring have stimulated hopes that crude could soon safely stabilize below the $100 range.

But beneath seesawing supply and demand lies the deeper question of just how much oil the planet has in the first place — and how much it will have in the future.

The answer to that question supports — or undermines — the theory that we are in the midst of an ever-tightening supply that will lock prices into a permanent, rising arc. That, in nutshell, is what's meant by the term "peak oil".

What a bizarre article. It starts out reporting on a supposed exchange between Hofmeister and Simmons, an exchange that doesn't even actually occur if you watch the video. Never mind that the Squawk Back hosts let Hofmeister get away with blatant misrepresentations, the article really only uses the TV show as a launch pad for it's own pathetic attack on peak oil, trotting out the old stand byes like 1.3Tb of reserves, Canadian oil sands and the wonderful 8Bb Santos basin without ever looking at the consumption side.

But then the writer goes off into abiotic oil AND methane on Titan (woo hoo, I want that pipeline contract!) and I begin to wonder just what sort of whack job this World Net Daily really is.

Well, I now know and won't be following any more links to WND, unless I need a laugh. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Farah)

I watched some of the Hofmeister discussion on Sqeek Bad. He made the comment that Simmon's hypothesis was wrong...then I lost interest and muted the tv...the normal mode.

Your TV needs more than "muting". It needs to be put out of its misery. A shame that only a land fill will harbor such a foul device -- we have to hope that future tectonic forces will turn the TV's of the world into abiotic oil.

My tv sound is turned up, usually, about 8pm, when I put an old movie into the VCR or DVD. I like film noir and have quite a few films, collected over time. Occasionally I will watch a documentary. TV has it's uses, but for me they do not include MSM, soaps, or 98% of the garbage in the schedule.

I can think of many tyrants that have attempted to grind their morality or personal philosophy or even 'approved entertainment' into their populace. It doesn't work out too well...

Tell me that you didn't watch the events of 9-11, at least once, on a tv...

Caught a small clip of plane hitting the tower late that afternoon while passing through a tire store waiting room.

You don't need the beast, but the VCR/film end is nice.

To be fair CNBC have given Simmons a chance to respond robustly online

The 'Peak Oil' Theory: Will Oil Reserves Run Dry?

Given all that, we asked Simmons, who is chairman of Simmons & Co. International, a specialized energy investment-banking firm based in Houston, to respond to Hofmeister's comments and explain how his peak oil scenario can be avoided.

CNBC: What's your response to critics like Hofmeister?

Simmons: There is a kind of schizophrenia within the likes of Shell where the chairman basically says, "We think by 2012 global demand will exceed conventional supply" and yet Hofmeister basically says the idea that we are ever going to have peak oil is ridiculous.

CNBC: But he's suggesting you are leaving out unconventional sources of energy in your calculations.

Simmons: They make the distinction [between conventional and unconventional], but they don’t seem to make the connection about the vast difference of flow. They are so hung up on the total estimated volume. Once they start in a project they say, "Well, the reserves last forever so we can book a million barrels of reserves."

[Continues for another page and a bit]

Well yes he got to respond robustly online, but I'm sure that the television broadcast got far more viewers.

Also, in response to the uselessness of television...

While I don't enjoy TV, it is an important tool in this situation. Right now it's mostly controlled by people like CNBC, who let oil execs say what they wish, most of the time. Getting important people onto news shows who will be honest about the difficult position the world is in could have a very positive impact.

Like it or not, television is still the primary form of media, at least in the US.

Thanks for those youtube links, they're a bit encouraging, as long as people listen.

hmmm, I some how attached this to the wrong article - was supposed to be up on the "Shell Exec" post by Undertow.

Oil and Gold Prices Continue to Slide

Oil, gold and other major commodities fell sharply on Thursday, capping their steepest weekly drop in a half-century, as investors fled what many had believed to be the last safe haven in turbulent markets.

Oil tumbled 6.9 percent in two days of trading, and most other commodities fell by 7 percent or more in that period — including a precipitous 15 percent drop for wheat.


“We see headlines: ‘Oil collapses to $102,’ ” said Paul Horsnell, a commodities analyst at Barclays in London. “Is that really a collapse

Margin Calls and selling the most liquid assets to make them.

Cash is king.

Right Mac, and don't overlook the computer generated sells (stop loss)by many individuals and firms...the stop loss orders add momentum to the avalanch, once started.

I never did like placing stop loss orders.

They're magnets.

"There is an idea among bears that the market is full of stop loss orders, and, no doubt, there is a widespread fabric of such orders just below the present level of prices. The bear crowd would bring them into play if it could."


Ag dropped to $16 something. Ironically many many dealers are completely out of Physical Ag right now.

That gold, that gold, that gold ... what's the fuzzz?
I wonder:
How many years after Peak Oil is perceived and understood will society allow for this sort of energy wastage? This open-cut gold mine at Kalgoorlieis (AU) with an adjacent gold processing plant IS NOT cheap to run energy wise.
Is gold used for any particularly important process in the modern world, I mean apart from jewelry and storage in the Fort Knox for future “use” ? There are cyanide contamination issues knit to gold processing as well.

Look at all that mountain removed for a few tones of gold …

Edit: BTW I can understand the concept of mountain-top-removal to get hold of COAL, that we can use ... but gold?

Is gold used for any particularly important process in the modern world, I mean apart from jewelry and storage in the Fort Knox for future “use” ? There are cyanide contamination issues knit to gold processing as well.

Gold is used in many applications, one of the easiest to recognize being the consumer electronics industry. Look at the battery contact leads on your cellphone, or any SD memory card you might have, gold-plated connectors for A/V, typically any place where you need a high-quality connection between two interfacing electronics whereyou don't want corrosion to degrade the connection.
The actual quantities used per piece is small, but the number of pieces of electronics that use gold is high enough that it's worth having unfortunate people in countries outside the US melt said precious metals off of circuit boards, etc.


Thanks for replying and link Durandal.
Now, that link you provided underlines my main point actually. Apart from the conductivity/ corrosion matter in electronics, the gold’s use is virtually non essential (if you ask me) .

All (more or less) electronics we have today would work all fine with cupper and other metals in its place. I see the longevity matter for space-applications though.

Conclusion, after PO we don’t have to cry if that gold-mine up-thread has to be discontinued.

Well I think to get down to the specifics of whether or not its worth putting gold in electronics connections, you would have to start doing some calculations. It takes a certain amount of energy to mine gold, and gold can increase the life of certain products. Therefore, we need to manufacture less of those products.

The payoff would be if the amount of energy expend to get and use the gold is less than the amount we would have to use to manufacture replacements in the event we just stuck with copper.

So, what you're saying is that if something isn't "essential" we shouldn't be pursuing it. Okay, I can live with that IF I'm the one that determines what is "essential." For me, electricity is non essential, a luxury, a nice to have. Come to think of it, modern housing is pretty much non essential, no reason we can't all live in tents and straw shacks.

Care to follow me down that path?

Here is the problem with all these should/could statements - the author presumes that his/her own value set is the measure of correctness. Never mind that when it comes to the global capitalist world we live in that those quaint little conservationist or humanist values have been flattened by the off-road dump truck carrying the rock up out of that gold mine.

What I'm saying is that my-world would rotate just like now, without even a single gram of gold. What you are pecking at is beyond my control?!

Your computer and all the internet stuff attached to it, and a lot of medical and other electronic gear, would cease to function after a few weeks or months, due to corroded contact surfaces in switches and connectors. Gold is not required in each and every case, but sometimes it is needed. Since it is expensive and bean counters are ubiquitous, it is very rarely used where anything else (read: cheaper) will do.

So if you don't need any gold, not even one gram, why are you blogging? Apparently the original point about gratuitous moralizing ("the author presumes that his/her own value set is the measure of correctness") still not only stands, but applies directly.

So what you are saying PaulS is that, without Gold NO Industrial revolution … man come on !

There are PLENTY of ways to safe-couple el-interfaces and have them work years on years on years WITHOUT ONE SINGLE MICRO-GRAM OF GOLD ! Do I really need to elaborate that ??

There are lots of ways to make contacts, and I wrote not one word about the industrial revolution or any lack thereof. This seems to manifest an archetypal problem with these discussions, the wringing of vast rivers of exaggerated consequences from small damp cloths of fact.

One can use high pressure tin plated contacts. They have a rated cycle life as short as five (5) so are not used for things like SD cards that are constantly plugged and unplugged. One can use other non-corroding metals such as palladium or platinum, but the mining impact is not terribly different from gold. One can use silver, which is more abundant but tarnishes badly under some conditions. One can use straight phosphor bronze or junk copper alloy and just replace the device every time the contacts corrode, that's what happens with a lot of badly-made consumer rubbish. And in wall sockets, plain old brass is good enough as 110 or 220 volts will cut through normal oxidation.

So I repeat, gold and other precious metals are rarely used gratuitously in contacts simply because of the expense - but gratuitous moralizing is one of the cheapest commodities ever invented.

You insinuate that I "gratuitous moralize" ! Where do I do that, where do you get such from?

I am simply questioning the energy consuming task of GOLD-mining and therefore ask for how long this gold-thirst will continue after POWER DOWN ?, that’s what I ask. … ( and suddenly some people start jumping to their conclusions without even bothering to read what I write… )

And then I ask where we really need gold to continue our life-style as is (ref Durandal reply/link) , and I draw my very personal conclusion to this : I do not need gold at all... in my PC nor other equipments’, because we are human beings and we are smart.

The CPU and RAM on your motherboard could easily just be fix-soldered onto it - case closed - and no gold neither used nor needed mined for this purpose. Other I/O equipments connected to the PC are mostly just steel-jacks or so.

So yes PaulS, I can do my blogging without GOLD (per definition).

No without gold the telecommunications network would fail within weeks no if's or buts as would all most all of the your blogging keyboards.

There is no substitute for gold....

Sometimes reality just sux...

Do you often jump into the middle of a long thread and play the smart wise guy ?

Yes, aren't those 'smart wise guys' annoying, with their 'facts'...

TOD differs from many other forums and blogs in that a vast majority of its contributors have degrees from higher educations, sometimes in several fields, are professionals, sometimes in several fields, and so have a basic understanding of almost all aspects of how the world works.

And if in doubt they at least have the f***g courtesy to do a simple google/wikipedia search and a bit of thinking before going and wasting miles of threads on a non-issue with non sequiturs and stupid assumptions of things they don't know anything about.



Are you the perfect stupid idiot ?


Well, what are *YOUR* bonifides as to why *YOU* should be trusted on this matter VS the rest of us?


what is your question , what do you mean by this Eric ?

Are you also like Ransu and Marven jumping into the middle of nowhere and starting to conclude on a stray sentence, or are you more interested in my position as to why I write what?

If the last is your selection, then jump UP to the image and start to read….. blah blah blah

*** My take is that human beings are not running goldmines (modern style) 100 years from now; given the very concept of TOD which focuses a skinnier energy future, remember???

are you more interested in my position as to why I write what?

Yes, we are interested in why you write this:

I draw my very personal conclusion to this : I do not need gold at all... in my PC nor other equipments’, because we are human beings and we are smart.

The CPU and RAM on your motherboard could easily just be fix-soldered onto it - case closed - and no gold neither used nor needed mined for this purpose. Other I/O equipments connected to the PC are mostly just steel-jacks or so.

Essentially most people here agree, that at least in some scenarios mining, including gold mining, would cease certainly after 100 years of peak oil (although it is impossible to say much about what is going to happen in 100years). That is not the issue.

The issue was your claim that we could replace gold just like that, I have argues and given you the details of why gold isn't replacable. As to your link...


Indeed, as there exists 'alternatives' to many things, and they are being used where they are applicable. But as any material engineer knowns only too painfully, there is no such thing is 'perfect' replacement. It is the same with oil. There are many supposed 'alternatives': natural gas, shale, etc - yet none quite replaces it in every aspect, like as a raw stock for chemical industry, its availability, price, use of existing infrastructure etc.

Vapor deposition has been used for decades now. I remember when I was a student I grind down my own mirror for my telescope and sent it to the treatment. I had the option of gold or aluminum but I chose the latter cause it was cheaper. Gold can only be replaced by other coatings and technologies if the process is more economical, and the alternate material have the same specs as the target application.

In material science we are constantly trying to push the envelope. However the fact is that most good old materials will probably never be replaced by anything 'better'. Gold is just too good a material: a simple element that doesn't corrode, yet is a soft metal, which conducts electricity well. We know its characteristics and have the infrastucture to manufacture and apply it.

People often unknowingly site the principle of infinite substitutability as a solution to the depletion of finite resources. Tainter quite rightly argues in The Collapse of Complex Societies that such a principle is ultimately flawed.

It would be interesting to find a more throughout discussion on the matter somewhere... Anyone?

Ok Ransu you can act civil, good for you! And being in danger for trolling around more, remember you feed me, yummy.

My initial reply was to the post “Oil and Gold Prices Continue to Slide” and as you probable understand by now my take is that gold is super-hyped in today’s society due to historical bindings … And yes we agree that gold is necessary in today’s electronics due to its properties and being embedded in the assembly lines …, all fine

BUT if there was no Ag (gold) whatsoever in the Periodic table, would society look very different? given the rest of the Periodic-table being intact – I’d say not much different at all.
We would have PCs and Cell phones and all of the rest of the stuff … don’t get to detailed here (this is philosophy) .

When I (my guess) look at all the energy consuming mining operations we depend upon, I’d say gold is the first to go ………. for mentioned reasons.
All other mining is important for our hi-tech wanna-haves but also for farming and other life-maintaining inputs e.g. Maslow’s lower portion of his pyramid.

Gold mining: blast and treat 1 tone of rock, and hope for a few grams, for what use? (Except el. Coating , you know…) “Not much of real value”

Iron/bauxite: Blast and treat 1 ton of rock and get 100’s of kilograms, for what use ? “Everything”

ENERGY SPENT: same amount for both operations (roughly)- future of energy is the balancing act of priorities

what is your question , what do you mean by this Eric ?

Simple. Why should YOU be believed in this matter?

I can choose to go with what I know (gold is used due to its resistance to corrosion), what I have observered (gold is used for contacts because of corrosion resistance) and what I had read in books/articles (gold is used in ICs for interconnects because of reactions) OR I can choose to believe you.

Thus, I would like to know WHY I should choose to believe you. For example, if you were an actual materials science 'guy' working with electricity.

Simple Appeal to Authority style argument.

Are you also like Ransu and Marven jumping into the middle of nowhere and starting to conclude on a stray sentence,

Naw, but I *CAN* opt to tear down your attempt at an argument. Like this:

Apart from the conductivity/ corrosion matter in electronics, the gold’s use is virtually non essential

Here we establish that you AGREE that gold has a use for providing low-reactive interconnects.

Then you spend the REST of the thread arguing on that VERY topic via strawmen.


So what you are saying PaulS is that, without Gold NO Industrial revolution … man come on !

Strawman response. The original poster talked about Intergrated Circuit based electronics. And corrosion. You already agreed with the position, yet you then opt for the straw man?

Ok... lets review the Industrial Revolution.
1800's Steam and coal. What was the money then? That's right Gold. (One pile of straw VS the other pile)
Later in the industrial revolution there was electronics. Over time, makers figured out that Gold worked well for interconnects because of the corrosion issue (which you agree with) and eventually time progressed until you were given the education you are now getting. The End.

But let me continue with addressing you in this thread wh?

All (more or less) electronics we have today would work all fine with cupper and other metals in its place.

So let me see if I understand you. All (meaning the set of everything) would be fine without gold. But you have said "Apart from the conductivity/ corrosion matter in electronics" - so which is it? Which are you lying about? The set of All, or a reduced set that isn't quite all and therefore the position of "All electronics we have today would work all fine with cupper and other metals in its place." would be wrong?

If the last is your selection, then jump UP to the image and start to read….. blah blah blah

I did, and noted your self-contridictions in your attempt to persuade. But before I filed your opinion in the dustbin of history, I wished to seek conformation that the IC industry has moved onto non-gold contacts for the chip interconnects from the silicon to the metal outside pins.

At this point however, your schizophrenic postings on this matter lead me to not care. You are now arguing just to argue. *yawn*

Whatever you say Eric, whatever!

In reading you here, I feel you live with an idea of a “fixed world theory” – nothing can change …. And if it wasn’t for gold there would be no gadgets nor technical stuff around – MY TAKE is the complete opposite, and being an electronic engineer myself I certainly know there are other ways to secure conductivity without any gold on the circuit-board…. Maybe the CPU would run slower than today, but CPUs there would be.

You never understood the gist to my reply up-thread and my feeling is that you believe gold is the driver of the human universe – which I definitely don’t believe. Gold has value between your ears, and most of the worlds mined gold are stuffed away in bank vaults in the shape of square-blocks or as jewelry in the shape of rings and necklaces, that’s about it.

Gold in my understanding of its use, is paradoxically the least interesting metal for human kind!
*) you need more? then read my reply just above your kind reply

Whatever you say Eric, whatever!

Your non-defense of your statements is accepted as your admission that you were wrong.

And if it wasn’t for gold there would be no gadgets nor technical stuff around – MY TAKE is the complete opposite, and being an electronic engineer myself I certainly know there are other ways to secure conductivity without any gold on the circuit-board….

An electronic engineer you say?

Ok. Good.

Now show how gold is replaceable INSIDE the chips (per my claim - because I'd swear I'd heard of a 'better' tech But I don't do chip design) and the use of gold in the high freq. RF industry.

most of the worlds mined gold are stuffed away in bank vaults in the shape of square-blocks or as jewelry in the shape of rings and necklaces, that’s about it.

Given you 'understand' gold, I'd love to hear your 'understanding' of Rhodium. http://www.kitco.com/charts/rhodium.html

There is no way possible reaching any conclusion with you Eric, because you add on and switch the topic till it eventually has swallowed the whole universe itself … and even when that happens you probable have some more to add ... keep on doing whatever you do Eric

keep on doing whatever you do Eric

You are welcome that you have been educated enough to realize that you were arguing just to argue.

Nice attempt attempt to redirect by accusing me of doing what you've been doing. Start the topic, claim gold is needed for connectors, then spending hours arguing how other connectors exist and gold is not needed via the topic switch.

switch the topic

I simply switched focus to a different metal.

One that is MORE 'valueable' than gold.

One that, in fact, was mentioned in your original link.

Now somehow if gold went to $0 per ton, why would that stop mines like you object to when other materials are JUST as valuable, if not more so?

Not that you have the rhetorical skill to respond, so I shall just wish you a good day.

Holy stupidity! The energy consumption of gold mining is just as great as any task of mining metals. Whatever replacement you choose for gold: copper, nickel, cobalt, platinum, aluminum, you'll end up spending just as much energy - if not more when you take into account the decrease in reliability of electronics and increase in cost of making them.

And as to your 'my PC doesn’t need gold - just fix solder everything - case closed!' is just stupidity squared! Gold is essential for wire bonding the die to the package in almost every microchip (aluminum and copper are used only in crude or high power bonds). Fix soldering components and modules to make everything would be massively wasteful and inefficient, as modules could not be interchanged during assembly or afterwards. You PC's CPU, RAM, PCI-cards, all welded into a single lump for the rest of the life of the product! I mean, jesus! Consumer electronics are already bad enough with throw-away-culture engineering standards, impossible to upgrade or repair. You should work for Intel!

And let's see you go down the road of your logic consistently (if your IQ allows you to): 'I can do my blogging without gold' ... I'll help you a bit - that logic leads to: 'I can do my blogging without tin, copper, silver, cobalt, iron, platinum, lead, manganese, nickel, crude oil, oil shale, natural gas... a-z, 0-9, n-1 I mean pretty much everything our civilization does is REQUIRED in order to keep your sad blog running. And pretty much everything our civilization does is UNSUSTAINABLE just like gold mining. But I understand your point of view. Most people don't USE logic, they ABUSE logic!

What a rage ransu, what a rage... jeez

If you read the premises I directed far … far up thread you should feel quite ashamed, but your sort probably don’t know the meaning of that word, so excuse me. In the scenario I promoted, there is not likelihood of any INTEL or the like. BTW you should stop using those hallucinating drugs of yours, those are not doing you any good.

If you don’t see the difference between copper-, iron- aluminum mining, et al compared to the wasteful energy usage in gold mining (given there is little practical use for gold) , than I can’t help you , sorry.

Anyways,what are you doing here at TOD ?

I apologise to everybody for feeding the troll. I should’ve known better.

"I apologise to everybody for feeding the troll. I should’ve known better."

That should be my motto, emblazoned upon my coat-of-arms (if I had one).

Things are getting pretty testy around here lately. If you disagree with someone, just disagree, put forth your countering facts, and let's lay off the "how stupid!" and "you effing idiot", and so forth. Seriously, there has been some nasty invective in the past day or two...

The energy consumption of gold mining is just as great as any task of mining metals.

This is false. Gold is a rare element, which means you have to displace more tonnes of rock to recover an amount of it than more common metals. Don't make stuff up.

What I see happening is that energy will make gold mining not worth the cost. That is, the energy cost of extracting gold from under mountainsides (we've gotten all of the easy stuff) is more than the cost of gold. The already above ground gold may increase in value because of this (and also because of economic fear and collapse) - the amount of energy it would take to extract new gold would partially go into the cost of an existing coin that is already refined.

So if you don't need any gold, not even one gram, why are you blogging?

Ad hominem tu quoque.

Cf. "If you don't like what's going on in America, why don't you just leave?"

Cf. "If human civilization is so destructive and primitive cultures can teach us so much, why haven't you moved to the woods?"

Cf. "If Kunstler is so upset about oil consumption, why does he fly around the country giving speeches?"

Gold has been a store of value for humans for so long that I sometimes wonder if we have become genetically modified to lust after the metal.

Gold was being mined with pick axes many centuries prior to FF usage and I suspect that it will continue to be mined after PO.

We are going through a period of re-learning. People the world over are once again questioning the fiat currencies in their pockets and purses. Although not considered by many people in the 'developed world', all fiat currencies eventually are worth zero. A cursory examination of old societies, like India and China, quickly reveals that gold is held in very high regard by them. Could it be that the old cultures have witnessed the rise and fall of many fiat currencies?

I sometimes wonder if we have become genetically modified to lust after the metal.

Image of Silas Marner.

Gold has been a store of value for humans for so long that I sometimes wonder if we have become genetically modified to lust after the metal.

When I used to drive I thought of money in terms of dollars and gallons of gas, for example: "I have $23 and half a tank of gas. I'm going to need to put $5 more in the tank this week, so I have $18 to spend on food until payday." My budget is more comfortable now that I've quit driving.

River, IMO humans have indeed been genetically modified to lust after gold. More precisely, we have hardwired, evolution-selected urges for ornamentation and status. The social value of gold ultimately derives from its value for ornamentation and signification of social status. Ask any bride in India! Gold is:

soft and easy to fabricate into intricate designs

soft; uncomfortable hard edges round with wear

looks nice against brown skin

won't turn your skin green when you perspire (ladies never 'sweat'!)

Nothing says "status" like a nice crown, chain of office, and signet ring : )

Errol in Miami

"Apart from the conductivity/ corrosion matter in electronics, the gold’s use is virtually non essential (if you ask me)."

I have a large pile of dollars I'll give you for any gold you have. We'll see what is more useful in a few years.

You forgot the longest running use of Gold - protection from government confiscation.

I have no gold, but send your $’s now, I’ll see what I can find for you!

If you came to my ranch/farm (if I had one ;-)) in “some decades” after the going had started to get though , and then you showed me a fist of gold coins asking to switch for a sack of potatoes or a pig … or whatever…. I’d ask you to stick your gold up where the sun seldom shines!

If you were a nice lad, maybe I could find some work for you in exchange for food… but gold to me is nothing (in that scenario…. in today’s scenario it has just value between your ears)

With so much money being put into gold stockpiles; some more people decided to divert energy to mountain top cutting and heap leach pads. Gold supply is not a constant, as the price went up the mine production was likely to follow, potentially devalueing your stock pile and taking a huge chunk of energy with it. How would you feel if you learned someone could produce gold for $150 an ounce and sell it to you for $900.? Then turnaround and invest in doubling production. There have been massive gold sell-offs in the past.

many 'profitable' copper mines are that way because the gold that can be taken out of the copper stream pays for the copper.

There exist alternatives to gold for plating contact surfaces:


Background: The Best Single Article on Railroad Capacity

For those interested in real world calculations on railroad capacity (a few points are missed) this is the best article that I have read. Written by VP of BN-SF.


Best Hopes for Technical Understanding,


I am searching my bookmarks for references for our paper and "rediscovered" this gem.

Some other transportation tidbits:

"In 2007, [the US trucking industry] spent $112.6 billion on fuel, or $6.6 billion more than [it] spent on fuel in 2006."


And look here for the essence of the Association of American Railways argument against economic re-regulation:


Over on the Australian site ("Bullroarer") there is a reference to a Sydney article that asks, "Will this project [Sydney Metro Extension] trigger compensation for the owners of the M2 motorway?"

Hmmm...I hadn't thought of that angle.

Maybe the way the Dulles extension went down in flames at the last minute manifests the issue in a slightly different manner. So I wonder what sort of ugly agreements (especially secret ugly agreements) not to build rail, local roads, etc., politicians have made to get private toll roads here in the USA.

For example, if, hypothetically, Indiana wanted to get some extra Amtrak or Metra service out of Chicago, how much of the money (that the Indiana politicians have no doubt already squandered) from the sale of the Indiana Toll Road would they have to give back before they were allowed to do it? Or even if they needed to upgrade or just repave US 20 which parallels the Toll Road not too many miles away? And is information like this even publicly available?


Retail food prices surged in 2007 as prices accelerated for farm commodities, energy, and labor. Another sharp gain is expected for 2008, emerging primarily from foods made from crops.

VS all that food NOT made from crops. Or with energy. Or perhaps labor.

VS all that food NOT made from crops

You have NOT visited the "food science" laboratories !

Americans eat a LOT of hyper-processed food that may have some immaterial raw material input that once came from a crop.

Think diet soft drinks, McDonalds french fries#, algae derived additives, etc.


# I was told by a chef that made REAL french fries (from potatoes, some varieties are better than others) that they were "good" for 3 to 4 minutes after leaving the fryer. McDonalds fries have gone from 15 minutes to 45 minutes.

may have some immaterial raw material input that once came from a crop. .... I was told by a chef that made REAL french fries ... 45 minutes.

The key bit is 'came from a crop' - I tried to think of something that did not 'come from a crop' or was otherwise not able to be raised in a cropping manner...and about all I could think of was some 'wild harvest' fish that man has not figured out a way to raise.

Several food additives are derived from algae (and seaweed) that affect texture. McDonald's fries are rumored to be among those with significant "non-crop" additives.

Artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, artificial colors, preservatives and "binders".

And Polyethylene glycol occasionally shows up in food ingredients (also useful for your car's radiator).

A number of chemically altered fat (margarine, trans-fats).

Read the ingredients label.

Best Hopes for simple food,


Several food additives are derived from algae (and seaweed) that affect texture.

And that is typically 'wild harvest' - but can be 'farmed'.

Polyethylene glycol

Like the Pizza Hut cheese?

McDonald's? Nobody eats there anymore. Too Crowded! (Apologies to Yogi)

Eric Schlosser - Author 'Fast Food Nation'
"During my research for the book, I ate an enormous amount of fast food. Most of it tasted pretty good. That is one of the main reasons people buy fast food; it has been carefully designed to taste good. The taste of McDonald's French fries, for example, has long been praised by customers, competitors and even food critics. James Beard, the legendary American gourmet, loved McDonald's fries. Their distinctive taste does not stem from the type of potatoes that McDonald's buys, the technology that processes them, or the restaurant equipment that fries them."

"The New Jersey Turnpike runs through the heart of the flavour industry, an industrial corridor dotted with refineries and chemical plants. International Flavours and Fragrances (IFF), the world's largest flavour company, has a manufacturing facility in Dayton, New Jersey. The plant is a huge, pale blue building with a modern office complex attached to the front. It sits in an industrial park, not far from a BASF plastics factory, a Jolly French Toast factory and a plant that manufactures Liz Claiborne cosmetics..

..I was not invited to see the manufacturing areas of the IFF plant, where it was thought I might discover trade secrets. Instead, I toured various laboratories and pilot kitchens, where the flavours of well-established brands are tested or adjusted, and where whole new flavours are created. IFF's snack and savoury lab is responsible for the flavour of crisps, corn chips, breads, crackers, breakfast cereals and pet food. The confectionery lab devises the flavour for ice cream, biscuits, sweets, toothpastes, mouthwashes and antacids. Everywhere I looked, I saw famous, widely-advertised products sitting on laboratory desks and tables. The beverage lab is full of brightly coloured liquids in clear bottles. It comes up with the flavour for popular soft drinks, sport drinks, bottled teas and wine coolers, for all-natural juice drinks, organic soy drinks, beers and malt liquors."

Bon Apetit! Tastes just like meat.. Find out once more that- Y'are whatcha eat!

(We just bought 4 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies, looked at the WhiteFlour and TransFats.. and are now going to throw them out. Wish I had that digester running, at least they could help me heat my bath!)


edited to add Link/Author info

Americans eat a LOT of hyper-processed food that may have some immaterial raw material input that once came from a crop.

Think diet soft drinks, McDonalds french fries#, algae derived additives, etc.

Seems like a modern, high tech variation on the unscrupulous baker adding sawdust to his loaves of bread to bulk them up a bit.

The positive point of view calls it 'value added' food products.

Read Michael Pollan's 'The Omnivores Dilemma'
The food industry would make only paper thin profits, if any at all, if they sold only raw, unmodified food products.

Season blooms early, as do sneezes...
What's happening is so noticeable that scientists can track it from space. Satellites measuring when land turns green found spring "green-up" is arriving eight hours earlier every year on average since 1982 north of the Mason-Dixon line. In much of Florida and southern Texas and Louisiana, satellites show spring coming a tad later and, in a complicated way, global warming can explain that too, the scientists said.


On thin ice
Arctic ice alarmingly scarce, say NOAA, NASA, NSIDC
Posted by Joseph Romm at 8:58 PM on 20 Mar 2008


Australian of the Year 2007, Tim Flannery talks bio char and why we need to move into the renewable age
County backs energy independence
Water Agency proposes solar-powered complexes, fleets of electric cars

A $1 million initiative by the Sonoma County Water Agency will explore creating energy-independent business parks and incentives to encourage electric cars in company fleets.



They paved paradise and put up ... a power source
By NICOLE ORNE, Reformer Staff

BRATTLEBORO -- The secret to saving the world could be hidden in the miles and miles of parking lot in the United States, Dr. Arjun Makhijani said Saturday.


Salt could shake up world energy supplyReuters, Wednesday March 19 2008 By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

TOFTE, Norway, March 19 (Reuters) - Only up to powering light bulbs so far, "salt power" is a tantalising if distant prospect as high oil prices make alternative energy sources look more economical.

They paved paradise and put up ... a power source

This link provides a typical scheme to put canopies of PV panels over parking lots. Typical also in its failure to see the bigger picture. IMO it is highly likely, in a future energy scenario in which most energy comes from renewables, that we will be driving many fewer cars, leading of course to the demise of many parking lots...

Many LESS cars, right ET? (Replied to PARENT so you could edit if desired..

But still, there will only be relatively a 'few' of these Solar Shaded spots made, which might match up appropriately to the future volume of vehicles.. that, or you could just put picnic tables under them when the cars are gone. Bike Racks?


Bike racks take up a lot less space than parking lots. Depending on lot layout, you can park 8 or 10 bicycles in the space usually taken up by one car. Since almost all commuter miles are in the form of single-driver vehicles, switching to bicycles will leave businesses with a lot of excess parking lot spaces.

Many LESS cars, right ET? (Replied to PARENT so you could edit if desired..

But still, there will only be relatively a 'few' of these Solar Shaded spots made, which might match up appropriately to the future volume of vehicles.. that, or you could just put picnic tables under them when the cars are gone. Bike Racks?


Thanks Bob. I did, however, use the grammatically correct 'fewer' (pedantic snark :>)

Actually, I think transforming parking lots and, especially parking garages into homeless shelters might be a way to go.

I think it is silly to regard the _space_ for PV panels as the limiting resource, when the panels themselves are far more expensive (made from increasingly scarce materials and energy).

It certainly is a good idea to shade parking lots, as long as we're using them. The ideal objects to use for shade would be - trees? (In these colder parts, deciduous trees!)

I often see parking lots with trees as part of the "landscaping" on non-parking green "islands", with absolutely no shading of any actual parking spaces.

Ho! Just watching CNN 'the floods' ... a house going down the river has it's peak removed as it is swiftly and inexorably dragged under a bridge.

Maybe could be titled: Peak FF use causes roof peak loss!

The Great Unwind has begun, Citigroup warns
Avoid leveraged companies, countries and consumers, bank's strategists say

As markets and economies de-leverage across the globe, investors should avoid companies and countries that have grown to rely too much on borrowed money, they said.

That means favoring public-equity markets over hedge funds, private-equity and real estate, while leaning toward emerging market countries and away from developed nations like the U.S., the bank's global equity strategy team advised.

The question to me is whether the unwind can be done slowly and in a controlled fashion. The pressure of energy and food prices can be expected to keep the unwind going, until debt is rare - used only for short limited transactions.

As someone mentioned yesterday, why would Citi basically advise against investing in themselves? Is it reverse psychology? (they know something we don't?) Reverse-reverse psych? (They know people will think this way and be afraid to short the stock?) Very fishy. Then I saw yesterday what the bank stocks did...Citi up 10%, Wamu up 20%....Seems like a good time to short them.

Speaking of, I guess the markets are closed for Good Friday...

Bernanke took care of the commodity bubble:

March 21 (Bloomberg) -- The biggest commodity collapse in at least five decades may signal Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke has revived confidence in U.S. financial firms. [...]
``Bernanke took care of the commodity bubble,'' said Ron Goodis, the retail trading director at Equidex Brokerage Group Inc. in Closter, New Jersey. ``Commodities are coming back to earth. The stock market looks OK, and Bernanke is starting to look a little better.'' http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601068&sid=aGnGoiVO0304&refer=home

Meanwhile, on exchanges open March 21st, oil futures are climbing, albeit modestly:

Yup - commodities are coming back to earth. Gold has fallen back to levels we haven't seen since February 2008, same for silver. I checked out some ag commodity futures indexes and they, too have plummeted to levels of six weeks ago.

What a disaster this is!

For a little perspective on this price run up, go look at some commodity charts from the Spring of 2006. At that time it was the popularization of the notion that we'd entered a long term commodity bull market. This time it was a movement of money away from less desirable investments. Some of that money is now pulling out of commodities and going back into the stock market or into "safe" bonds. This doesn't mean that the commodities bull is over. In fact, this dip probably is a good time to think about doing some buying. At least that's what I'm considering.

Now there is some notes on PM - even though the spot market price has fallen the inventory on hand are short.

Things that make you go hmmm....


shaman, I agree. Good times. Getting back to the prices of 6 weeks ago is a trip back to the good old days. I bet the Bear Stearns shareholders wish they could do that.

neon9, pure WAG...could it have something to do with this...

'Fed Appeals To Banks To Support Lehman Bros'


'The London Daily Telegraph reports The New York Fed contacted bank executives from the likes of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup on the weekend, urging them to insist their staff to not make disparaging remarks about Lehman when dealing with their own hedge fund clients, or worse still to contact Lehman's clients and solicit business by casting doubt. It was last week's rapidly growing demand from hedge funds to close out their positions and reclaim cash that sent Bear Stearns into a tailspin.'...snip...

Since Citi was asked not to say anything negative about the next weakest player, they issued advice to steer clear of the entire banking sector??? Pure speculation, but Citi did not release negative remarks about the entire financial sector without reason.

Do not compete, lest you be competed upon?

I would like to corner one of those Ayn Rand types that has never read Nathaniel Branden and get an explanation of how, specifically, this move is related to the value of selfishness.

When has something like this ever been done before? It is simply unheard of ...

'Cooperation' is old-fashioned. It even rhymes with Communism.. must be European.
You trying to take us back to the 1850's or something?


It even rhymes with Communism.. must be European.

Naw....the 10 planks of the Commie party are all American!

neon9, I'm pretty confident they're setting up predatory plays on customer brokers and the like. Russ Winter wrote a good piece about it today: http://wallstreetexaminer.com/blogs/winter/?p=1502

There are rumors out there now that any number of brokers (Man Financial, etc.) are vulnerable. Citi wants to trigger runs on the brokers so they can swoop in with Fed money and scoop up the best bits to bolster their own chances of survival.

The bailout of Bear Sterns so to speak was to ensure that the Mark-To-Fantasy Level 3 holdings did NOT hit the market for sale. That would have forced "Price Discovery" on everyone else's holdings. BS was the bad boy that said F@ck you to the Boyz when the LTCM blew up and stood back and didn't pony up to shore up the mess.

Chapman is a bit of a nut but one thing he said below that you should watch is "Who will be Bailed Out". If you watch those who get "Saved" are members of TPTB. Like JPM, GS et al , the large share holder of the Fed.

Trashing the Constitution
Bob Chapman

The crux of the dilemma now facing the Illuminati and their precious central banking and gold suppression cartels is that while there are loads of financial institutions that are too big to fail, the worldwide financial system, which includes those institutions, has become too big to bail. Keep a sharp eye on which of the many potentially troubled institutions get bailed out by the Fed. The Fed's cherry picking will reveal the identities of their fellow Illuminist insiders within the various components of the financial industry, such as banks, investment banks, broker-dealers, pension plans, insurance companies, hedge funds, etc.

They will be forced to reveal these insiders because they, and all the remaining central banks around the world, are not even close to being big enough to bail out the entire system. They will only be able to bail out their crucial insiders within the troubled financial system, if they are lucky.



If one believe in such things.

Donning my tinfoil hat, I just loved the logo of the US DARPA Information Awareness Office

You just have to laugh some times...

Gail, here is a link with an opinion of how various loss scenarios might play out. There are tables based on assumptions of recession, higher interest rates, falling property values, three tsunamis hit together, and theoretical assumptions of how each will effect the economy and specifically lending institutions and borrowers. It is an interesting read but the author is selling something at the end...ignore that portion if you want...I did. Based on the assumptions, the outcomes are dramatic and losses mount very fast. I did not find the assumptions to be wildly speculative based on what we already know.

'The Subprime Crisis is Just Starting
by Daniel R. Amerman, CFA | March 20, 2008'


I think this article is very valuable because of the systematic way it demonstrates how huge losses can be incurred even with very conservative assumptions. However, I think it's also a good idea to reread it keeping in mind just how conservative those assumptions really are.

For starters, the author is focusing on subprime, but the problem is by no means confined to subprime, or to the US alone. We have had a huge lapse in underwriting standards across the board, with individuals (at all income levels) and corporations and institutions taking on far more debt than they would be able to support if their circumstances changed even slightly. My estimate is the scale of the mess is a very large multiple of the subprime problem, and it's global.

The author also doesn't consider the deflationary scenario, which is much more serious than the 'stagflation' he does consider. When inflation and nominal interest rates are both high, the real rate of interest (the nominal rate minus inflation) is typically low, and therefore provides only a limited brake on the economy.

However, under a deflationary scenario, short and long term nominal rates are likely to diverge - with short term rates cut while long term rates rise, as is already happening. When the money supply is contracting, even low nominal interest rates translate into high real rates (the nominal rate minus negative inflation), hence even short term real rates will be significant.

With longer term nominal rates attracting a big risk premium and therefore rising in nominal terms, the increase in real terms could be astronomical. That would be amount to hitting the economic brakes hard enough for an 'emergency stop'.

Feeding both deflation and high interest rates into the author's model, while including the real scope of the debt problem, would yield some very eye-opening numbers indeed.

The question to me is whether the unwind can be done slowly and in a controlled fashion

Ah, The Art of Removing the Pin Slowly from the Balloon

Gail, and how about the Great American War Industry. Possibly that is the real reason behind Iraq and the need for war in Iran, keep those old home economic fires burning along with the unwind of Yankee debt, not about oil at all?.


We have a winner!

(Oil, potable water, creation of chaos, weakening of a 'foe' all have a roll in the decision I'm sure. I'm sure a few 'race purification' arguments have been made in the inner chambers of power where the decision was made, thus allowing the discussion to leap right to comparison with the Nazis and the topic is therefore Godwin'ed)

Eric do you mean William Godwin? If so, okay, but I think in his philosophy he does not go that extra step, making clear that the anarchist also has a duty to protect his fellow Man. Lottsa luck and a long road to travel there, eh:)

Just as energy is embedded in product, a lot of water is required to make our food. The 2008 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate is Professor John Anthony Allan, who developed the concept of "virtual water".

"People do not only consume water when they drink it or take a shower. In 1993, Prof. Allan made a major breakthrough in how to demonstrate this by introducing "virtual water," a measurement of the water that is embedded in the production of foods and consumer products. Behind that morning cup
of coffee, there are 140 litres of water that was consumed to grow, produce, package, and ship the beans. That is roughly equal to the amount of water used by an average person in England for all their daily drinking and household needs. One hamburger holds some 2,400 litres. An average American consumes over 6,000 litres of virtual water every day; over triple the average Chinese."


The scale of the water used in the examples above is astonishing ...

This way to analyze water use prompted me to try to figure out if there were any water intesive industries that could be encouraged to establish themsleves in Sweden and turn a pass thru of lots of fresh water into export goods. Unfortunately I came up short, its a lot easier for me to imagine new energy intensive industry.

The early paper and pulp industry were fresh water intensive in a bad way since they "leaked" a lot of fibers and process chemicals where the worst part were mercury used to cheaply hinder mould build up in the machines. Nowdays they have closed much of the chemical flows and the fibers are burned for energy. But we have lake and sea areas with underwater banks of mercury laden fibre that we need to do something about. The latest idea is to gently cover them with a membrane.

I was listening to KICD (Spencer, Iowa District 05) over lunch and they say the elevators are not posting spot prices for corn or soybeans. This means that they're not buying them.

I sat in a meeting a few days ago with a very glum farmer's cooperative general manager. They can't invest in anything new because they're getting "whipsawed" by margin calls.

I talked with a dairy operator in the upper northeast last night. He is cold shut down - credit lines pulled, it is him and every other farmer in the area, and they're selling herds to make ends meet.

That last bit is the scariest - dropping prices and herd liquidation presage famine in sub-Saharan Africa ... what does it mean in wealthy, fat North America?

Thank you for the information from the front.

Leave it to the powers that be to make it hard for farmers to hang on to their hedges. That's only the primary reason the exchanges were set up.

Did you see the stories yesterday that Border's Books has put itself on sale? They have cut or cancelled their dividend because their credit lines were cut off and they don't have any cash.

Oh dear SCT, that were some harsh flow of info. I would have thought that farmers were best off today and in the foreseeable future …

Oh, things are grim here in farm country - 10% of households in the county set to lose electricity in ten days due to nonpayment, the delinquencies are $800 - $1,200 instead of the $200 seen last year, county funds are exhausted, and there are sixty to eighty veterans in that mix.


That whole Olduvai thing, it's happening all around me, and soon I'll be able to add to my collection of abandoned farm photos.


In the UK it used to be you couldn't normally be get cut off in the winter. The electricity and gas companies got around this by forcing pre-payment meters on the most vulnerable. Now when they can't afford electricity in a cold-snap they are described as "voluntarily self-disconnecting". Presumably if food prices get too high those dropping dead of malnutrition will be described as "voluntarily self-starving".

That is just ugly - how often does it come to that?

That's the beauty of it for the power companies. Nobody has accurate figures because the meters don't record the length of times when there is no credit in them and thus the power is off.

Even worse the meters were designed when the cost per KWh didn't vary much year to year and had to be manually reprogrammed every time the price went up. Many of the poorest people have not had their meters reprogrammed for years and the cost has spiralled in that time. Eventually the electricity company turns up, resets the meter and says you have underpaid us by several hundred pounds over the last 5 years because the meter has charged at 2002 prices and the customer is forced to pay off the debt they had unknowingly accumulated.

Newer pre-payment meters now use a smart key which updates the price every time they are topped up.

Searching for "self-disconnect" figures I found this for pre-payment water meters in the UK.


The medical and nursing profession argued that a clean water supply was essential for human life, hygiene and health. The government, at that time, agreed and openly acknowledged that disconnection should not be available as a means of recouping debt from delinquent domestic customers, simply stating, "… where the water is disconnected, the maintenance of good health and hygiene can only be put at risk".

The water companies installed prepayment meters to avoid legal responsibility for water cutoffs. According to their logic, consumers would "self-disconnect" when they were unable to pay. The Birmingham City Council challenged the legality of the prepayment meters. It was estimated that in Birmingham alone 2,489 "self-disconnections" had resulted from prepayment meters in a short period. It was this and other challenges by affected municipalities, which led to the passage of the 1998 Water Act that declared the prepayment meters illegal.

Pre-payment meters for everything other than water are still legal.

As someone with absolutely no vested interest in the site in question, I'd like to say that I find the recent behaviour of Oil Drum staff downright rude, petty, childish and insulting.

When third parties post links in good faith to sites of interest they do not deserve to be accused of "whoring", deleted with maximum prejudice or otherwise insulted. My opinion of The Oil Drum has plummeted since this started and I suspect I'm not alone.

I won't name the site and I suggest nobody else does either in response or this thread too will vanish in a puff of smoke. The line between moderation and censorship has clearly been crossed in my humble opinion.

Please find some way to resolve this in an amicable way.

Tis their site, they can do what they wish. Bought and paid for by them. You have no barrier for entry or for exit.

Plenty of censorship goes on, but its not like the censor has the power to sanction/imprision - so I can't get too excited - just like I do not get excited if something I post gets deleted. I see such excitement over someone else deleting what you said as egotistical, same way I see someone whining 'I've been saying that for 3 days, why didn't you give me credit!'

Just for reference I personally have never had any post deleted that I know of. It isn't sour grapes on my part.

I have seen other regular contributors posts vanish recently and I genuinely don't understand why.

You are right of course that it is their site and they can do what they want. I just think certain actions recently have been counter-productive and wanted to point that out. Others are free to disagree.

It's not like there isn't enough bad news to go around ... my kids act like this in the back seat and we pull over for a 'discussion with daddy'.

"As someone with absolutely no vested interest in the site in question, I'd like to say that I find the recent behaviour of Oil Drum staff downright rude, petty, childish and insulting."

Considering some of the postings they have to deal with, I find the recent (and past) behavior of the Oil Drum staff to be incredibly forbearing and tolerant.

And usually quite amicable about it, as well.

*clap* *clap*

I must add that I normally agree with these sentiments. In fact I'm totally happy for this thread to be removed once it's died a death and not left for posterity. I just believe there's been a recent misjudgment and I know others feel the same on one particular issue - obviously others don't.

At that I shall leave it.

Japan must lead way on nuclear energy, say advisors

(Boy, do I miss Leanan)

A government advisory body on Friday urged Tokyo to take the lead in promoting nuclear energy worldwide as part of efforts to fight global warming.

Japan is struggling to meet its obligations to slash greenhouse gases under the Kyoto Protocol and is also being hit hard by high oil prices as Asia's largest economy has virtually no natural energy resources.

The commission forecast the number of nuclear reactors worldwide will surge to 790 by about 2030. There were 435 in 2006, when nuclear energy accounted for some 16 percent of global power generation.

Calls are growing for the use of nuclear power, which emits no greenhouse gases, at a time of high oil prices and growing consciousness about global warming.


Does Japan use PG&E?

"On another occasion, Rowen discovered that a painting crew had come and gone from the plant and been contaminated with radioactivity. He insisted, as was company policy, that their homes and cars, as well as the stores they'd patronized in the meantime, be visited and checked for contamination. PG&E said that checking their cars would suffice.

"Similarly, Rowen once discovered that radioactive metal had been hauled away to a local scrap yard. He stressed that it was the plant's duty to go and find it and dispose of it properly. But the last thing PG&E wanted to do was to scare the public by sending out a bunch of guys in hazmat suits, armed with Geiger counters.

"At South Bay Elementary School, located just a quarter mile downwind from the plant, there was a dosimeter for measuring radioactivity. Dosimeters were located at sites all across the region, but the elementary school site — site 14 — consistently showed the worst contamination. PG&E's solution was to take the dosimeter down permanently. When Rowen asked why, management told him he was "overstepping his boundaries."


Of course, that was in the sixties. I'm sure utilities are much more forthcoming nowadays. (The Present is always more responsible than the past, as we all know)

Nothing personal, Arclite. Just fightin' the good fight..


Hey, I'm just the messenger.

Let me relate a personal story. I grew up (well, highschool and college, anyway) in Waterford, CT, home of the Millstone nuclear power plant. The beach is a few miles from the plant, which vents into Niantic bay. I swam there every summer. Our cross-country meets were in a park a couple of miles from the plant, and whether you run a three mile race or a ten mile practice, you breathe deep. Our school got a ton of money from the taxes on the plant. We had a huge auditorium, an olympic sized swimming pool with 10m diving platform (we always won swim meets) and I thought the whole thing was great.

When I went to college, my roommate junior year was a former worker at the plant. He had quit to return to college. He had quit despite the fantastic pay because he was terrified of the contamination. He said you could walk down a corridor and your Geiger counter would be fairly normal, but move it three feet to the left behind this pipe and it was off the chart. He said so much stuff went unreported. They didn't want to be shut down. This was in about 1990.

Last year I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Did contamination from the plant cause my cancer? Of course, no one can say for certain. But the biggest risk factor for thyroid cancer is nuclear radiation. I swam in the ocean, breathed the air, and drank the water. And my roommate slept in the bunk above me for a couple years.

I wonder whatever happened to him...

I know there are studies that show there are no clusters of cancer in areas where there are nuclear plants. But I really wonder if those studies were done correctly. And just recently I heard that nuclear plant workers do have higher rates of cancer than the rest of the population. And here is a good chart of different types of exposures and cancer rate increases.

Bummer...my condolences.

My parents spent about a decade near the Hanford Nuclear Site. They both died of cancer, as have many of our neighbors.

Nuclear power may look good on paper...or compared to coal...or without looking at long term storage costs...but in reality it is poison and should be avoided at all costs. I'd rather live in the dark.

I completely agree. We should be avoiding nuclear if at all possible. We should be ramping up CSP and other solar and wind projects as quickly as possible.

As far as my cancer goes, I'm hoping it's cured. I go for my first year body scan next month. Thyroid cancer is the one to get, as it has the highest curability rates.

Very sorry to hear it, Arclite, but glad it's a 'more curable kind'..

I'll cross my fingers (in a scientific and evidence-based way) for you next month.


My grandmother and mother died of cancer and didn't spend any time near nuclear generating facilities. Anecdotes aren't information, and people have been dying of cancer since the beginning of people. If you don't die of trauma your chance of getting cancer is 1/4 or so without any extra mutagenic inputs. You're arguing from an ignorant position.

As for long term storage costs, run the numbers yourself and remember discounting.

A thirsty planet looks for solutions to water shortage

By 2025, fully a third of the planet's growing population could find itself scavenging for safe drinking water, the United Nations has warned ahead of World Water Day on Saturday.

More than two million people in developing countries -- the vast majority children -- die every year from diseases associated with unsanitary water.

Rising sea levels are already forcing salt water into aquifers beneath megadeltas that are home to tens of millions, and changing weather patterns are set to intensify droughts in large swathes of Africa, southern Europe and Asia, according to UN's Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC).

"Desalination with reverse osmosis is already the largest single growth area in terms of new water supplies," he told AFP in an interview.

New techniques of reverse osmosis use membranes with nanometer-size pores to filter out salt and other contaminants from water, and could for the first time pave the way for industrial-scale use.

A poster here 6 months ago worked out RO needs a kilowatt hour of energy to produce a cubic metre of fresh water (=1000L). That seems low since some outback towns http://www.cooberpedy.sa.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=115 charge around $5 for that amount.

No way we can grow food with water that expensive. Apart from RO we need extra energy for transport electrification and all the other substitutes for fossil fuels. Fusion power please happen soon.

Well, first seawater desalination isn't targetted for food production but for water needs in population centers. Second, much seawater desalination energy requirements can be met from waste heat of power plants and industry.


Dangerous wheat stem rust strain is on the move

Something for the doomer crowd, this could actully be very bad if it reaches NA wheat crops, in the 1950s and 60s some areas experienced 30% to 50% loss of their crops to a similar fungus

NEW RECORD FOR SOLAR CONVERSION! This beats any PV system, hands down.


".. on a less triumphant note, our attempts to fit these onto desk-calculators and backpacks has met with a continual series of bizarre failures."

But PV systems can work in overcast conditions.

Reflector/sterling systems only work with direct sunlight. Suppose its cloudy 50% of the time, and youre back down to ~15%

and if we hadn't spent 3 trillion dollars on the Iraq war, we probably could have built enough of these things in the valleys of the Mojave to power most of the US (when the sun is shining of course)

and think of what a positive effect that would have had on US jobs and production

what is it, 100 miles by 100 miles for the whole US' electrical needs?

wasted opportunity

Well, we haven't spent 3 trillion yet. That's the estimated total cost to the world when all is said and done. But the point is taken. How much could we be producing from solar, wind, tidal, & geothermal if we hadn't made a mad dash for Iraq's oil?

"That's the estimated total cost to the world "

It's the total estimated cost to the US, not "the world". This retarded adventure has broken our country.

The true cost of war

Appetites whetted, Stiglitz and Bilmes dug deeper, and what they have discovered, after months of chasing often deliberately obscured accounts, is that in fact Bush's Iraqi adventure will cost America - just America - a conservatively estimated $3 trillion. The rest of the world, including Britain, will probably account for about the same amount again. And in doing so they have achieved something much greater than arriving at an unimaginable figure: by describing the process, by detailing individual costs, by soberly listing the consequences of short-sighted budget decisions, they have produced a picture of comprehensive obfuscation and bad faith whose power comes from its roots in bald fact. Some of their discoveries we have heard before, others we may have had a hunch about, but others are completely new - and together, placed in context, their impact is staggering. There will be few who do not think that whatever the reasons for going to war, its progression has been morally disquieting; following the money turns out to be a brilliant way of getting at exactly why that is

Problem is reliability. Ask 'em what mean time to failure is. They won't answer. Too embarrassing. Sad. sad-- there are other stirling designs that will last 20 years continuously running. Ask NASA about their space power stirlings.

I wonder how much loss of efficiency would be caused by dust. I imagine the best places for these are the deserts. How often would you have to clean them?

Multijunction PV cells (Spectrolab is one supplier) can do a wee bit over 40%. Of course that is with high intensity (concentrated) sunlight. In any case you need to concentrate in order to afford the high cost of multijunction cells anyway. Once you set of the "optical" system for concentration that dominates the cost -as the actual area of solar cells is pretty small. But in any case any of the several concentrated solar PV systems being developed should achieve similar efficiency.

Sure, ordinary polysilicon -or thinfilm panels provide some power on cloudy days, but it is probably several times less than from direct sunshine (i.e. most of the sunlight is reflected by the clouds and isn't available).

If we were serious about any of this, which obviously we are not, we would give each contestant for the solar $/delivered watt prize enough money to give it a real trial, and after maybe six months of head-to-head at the same place under the same conditons, we would have a good clue as to which systems to bet on for a next step- large deployment.

i am betting on stirling. If the other guy wins, that'll be fine with me, because he's gonna have to be dam good.

Hello TODers,

More signs of postPeak decline?

Last hope in a weak economy? Mom and Dad

...Then in December, she finally accepted her parents' invitation to move into their home — at age 52. "I'm back living in the bedroom that I grew up in," she said.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Well, that certainly hits close to home :-( I think I've adapted to life here ... it all works except the dating front, and I think I'm just going to sit on my hands until the financial storm is apparent to the common folk - no point in hooking up with someone who is about to get mowed down :-(


point 1: I'm sure you can find a better use for your hand than sitting on them. ;-)

point 2: I disagree with trying to remain single through the powerdown. Community action is the way through, and what better community than to have a significant other to watch your back and support you?

The value of point 2 is very individual specific, and highly variable !

Best Hopes for Finding Good Mates, and knowing one when you see one,


So is point one.

My hands (seen here) are quite busy these days, organizing the stranded wind peeps, pursuing a certain New Orleans resident to get me information on a certain pet project, and getting my picture in the paper with U.S. Senators. I didn't mean to suggest I'll become a monk or anything, time has been kind to me appearance wise, it's just that I think living with mom & working on some whacky wind project will be a whole lot more acceptable to a potential partner after some of this financial mess unwinds.


I expect to see more and more generations moving into one house--as in the old TV series "The Walton's."

This will have the side effect of accelerating the downward spiral in housing demand.

This will have the side effect of accelerating the downward spiral in housing demand.

You may be right about this in BFE (otherwise known as Bum Fck Egypt), but this will not be the case in close in urban areas. I expect the real estate for areas close to some big cities, in which public transit is available(DC, NY, SF) to only go higher over the long term.

Hello TODers,

Some talking heads say commodity prices are collapsing, but I see no weakness in I-NPK because I assume people will want to continue to eat:

Russia potash miners eye big price China increase

MOSCOW, March 21 (Reuters) - Russian potash suppliers are set to secure huge price rises on sales to main export market China after Uralkali (URKAq.L: Quote, Profile, Research) more than doubled term prices to India's largest fertiliser importer, analysts said on Friday.

...The price is more than double the $270 per tonne under the previous deal signed in June 2007.

"The price provides for no discount to the spot market and is well above expectations, which points to the persistent tightness of the global potash market," Deutsche Bank analysts said in a note.
Moore's Law will never apply to the daunting physics, chemistry, and energy inputs to make your garden grow. Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

"Moore's Law will never apply to the daunting physics, chemistry, and energy inputs to make your garden grow."

This is probably the best one-sentence encapsulation of the reality we face today that I've seen in a long time.

Our wacked-out "society" has gotten to the point where that real, the actual, is confused with the "virtual".

Hello TODers,

If one recalls my previous postings whereby sulphur is now over $600/ton for some importers: how much does that present input cost combined with manufacturing latency delays directly effect future I-NPK prices? DAP is $1,100/ton in Vietnam right now--will future increases caused by cascading blowbacks quickly bring us back again to the inflation-adjusted 1914 price of $10,500/ton?

Recall my earlier posting of I-NPK made with no 'energy-slave' inputs to leverage efficiency: $210,000/ton. In a postPeak world the only thing that has a chance to reduce this kind of price increase is the huge growth in O-NPK recycling. Or Machete' Moshpits to reduce demand.

I wonder if humanity will choose the O-NPK route, or default to the latter.

"I wonder if humanity will choose..."

Alas, my friend, "humanity" doesn't "choose" anything. Rather, shit happens based on local decisions usually made under duress. It is becoming increasingly clear to me that we are a just-in-time species, but what works for running a factory (sometimes) doesn't work for living on a planet.

I.e., by the time a signal strong enough to affect our decisions comes along, there will not be time to turn this supertanker around.


totoneila, Do you have a good post that fleshes out your arguments on this in detail? I am very interested in how Peak Oil changes fertilizer costs.

Cheney arrives in Saudi Arabia to discuss energy

March 21 (Bloomberg) -- Vice President Dick Cheney will discuss ``problems'' in energy markets in two days of talks with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia that will also focus on security concerns, a Cheney aide said.

``They will review a broad agenda of diplomatic and security issues, as well as where we are now in the global energy market,'' National Security Adviser John Hannah told reporters on the flight from Afghanistan to Saudi Arabia today.

Peak Reality

When will Malaysia need to start importing oil?

Radiohead - Peak Oil Aware Band

Glancing through some stats on sitemeter of the top referring web pages to TOD I was surprised to see the current number 22 entry http://radiohead.com/deadairspace/

A search shows that Prof Goose has previously mentioned being a big fan of the band. Looks like they like TOD in return with links to The Oil Drum on the front page.

For those who don't know Radiohead have had number one albums throughout the world.

Solution mining a salt dome to increase the SPR ... no concern for the environment, just make room for 160mbbl of oil we can't afford anyway ... and look, it's for naval use ... lovely, just lovely.


The site was chosen as a political payoff to the Mississippi Republicans (a few dozen jobs when completed). A 100 miles of new pipelines to a "volume constrained" Passagoula MS oil terminal. The MS SPR will be the last one drained.

I have driven past the SPR between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. A few miles spur from an existing pipeline and a dozen miles to a barge loading facility. (the brine was slowly added to the Mississippi River, and unlike creeks in MS, no one and no fish noticed).

The SPR has a small (2 million barrels) heating oil reserve in the Northeast (total SPR 700 million barrels). Despite higher storage costs, there is something to be said for adding some small product SPRs around the nation. Unfortunately, blended gasoline does not store well for decades.

Still, 6 to 10 million barrels of Ultra Low Sulfur diesel scattered amidst the West Coast, Hawaii, the Midwest, Rocky Mountains, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast and Northeast could buffer the impact of man-made and natural disruptions.

As for long term bulk storage of crude oil (or products), salt domes appear to be the best choice. And being near to existing pipelines, refineries, and water transportation makes Louisiana and Texas Gulf Coasts the logical place to be. Perhaps some of the SPR additions could be in products or blending components.

AFAIK, salt domes are very rare in the USA outside of the Gulf Coast.


Best Hopes for taking oil out of one hole in the ground and putting it into another hole in the ground,