DrumBeat: March 31, 2008

As Jobs Vanish and Prices Rise, Food Stamp Use Nears Record

Driven by a painful mix of layoffs and rising food and fuel prices, the number of Americans receiving food stamps is projected to reach 28 million in the coming year, the highest level since the aid program began in the 1960s.

...Because they spend a higher share of their incomes on basic needs like food and fuel, low-income Americans have been hit hard by soaring gasoline and heating costs and jumps in the prices of staples like milk, eggs and bread.

At the same time, average family incomes among the bottom fifth of the population have been stagnant or have declined in recent years at levels around $15,500, said Jared Bernstein, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington.

Oil In a Week (The Battle of Basra and its Oil Dimension)

No Arab oil industry has witnessed the difficulties and challenges facing the oil sector in Iraq over the past 25 years, especially during the past five years of occupation. Currently, a battle is raging for political control over Basra, Iraq's only marine gateway, its second largest city, and the source of almost 90% of its oil reserves which currently account for two million barrels a day. This is not to mention three huge oil fields with production capacity of over two million barrels a day that have been explored but not developed yet. These are the Majnoun field, the Gharb al-Qurna field, and Nahr bin Omar field. This battle will represent decisive turning point in the modern history of Basra and in the history and future of Iraq's oil industry.

American West Heating Nearly Twice As Fast As Rest Of World, New Analysis Shows

The American West is heating up more rapidly than the rest of the world, according to a new analysis of the most recent federal government temperature figures. The news is especially bad for some of the nation’s fastest growing cities, which receive water from the drought-stricken Colorado River. The average temperature rise in the Southwest’s largest river basin was more than double the average global increase, likely spelling even more parched conditions.

Big Oil gets a grilling

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Under the backdrop of record gas prices and record profits, Congress is set to grill executives Tuesday from the world's five biggest oil companies.

Lawmakers are expected to focus their questions on why the cash-rich industry needs $18 billion in tax breaks over ten years with some in Congress looking to take them away and use them to subsidize renewable energy projects.

Beyond the tax breaks though, congress is sure to raise issues surrounding the industry's record profits. But it shouldn't be just lawmakers that get to ask the questions. So CNNMoney.com asked the general public and some industry-watchers: If they could ask oil executives anything, what would they ask?

Energy bills misery for Welsh households

WELSH households face the misery of being hit by more than £100 extra on their energy bills by the end of the year – on top of the £140 hike they have already faced since Christmas.

The price rises predicted by experts will come as a hammer blow to pensioners and others on low incomes.

Hitting EU's energy targets will cost Brits at least £2,000

It will cost every household in the UK at least £2,000 to comply with the new European Union target of producing 15 per cent of all energy from renewable sources by 2020, according to a report commissioned by the government.

The report also says the UK will have to spend far more to meet the target than other EU countries, because the UK lags behind the rest of Europe on renewables and is a heavy energy user.

Agip oil output halted in Ecuador after sabotage

QUITO (Reuters) - Italy's Agip Oil crude output in Ecuador remained halted on Saturday, a day after local communities damaged its electricity system to demand more funds for poor villagers, an oil ministry spokesman said.

Oil may not grease friendship

We decided to examine statistical patterns involving three factors — entrepreneurship, oil wealth and a country’s friendship towards the US. After all, perhaps these three factors create a golden triangle, three points in a relation that could be of use to international organisations and national governments. US diplomats like to deal with big partners — the national oil company, the captains of the industry — and tend to be less aware of the smaller businesses that are typically entrepreneurial. If data show that entrepreneurial countries are indeed friendly and oil countries less friendly, then the US Treasury and the US State Department have a concrete reason to spend more time than they have done to date fostering or at least being aware of small enterprise in foreign countries.

Kenya - Charcoal: A short-term fix to energy problem

Rose Mateta has been selling charcoal by the Mombasa-Nairobi Highway since 1991. Every day she sits under a shed displaying the bags of charcoal at Kiboko town, some 200km from Nairobi.

With global oil prices steadily on the rise, charcoal trade has given the 50-year-old woman a chance to cash in on an alternative fuel as more customers adopt it. But since both kerosene and LPG gas prices are continuing to rise, charcoal is also becoming rare.

World's phosphorus situation scares some scientists

As production of biofuels increase to counter dependence on foreign oil and high fuel prices, some scientists worry that the world's phosphorus supply will slowly diminish, limiting our ability to grow crops and forcing fertilizer prices through the roof.

Phosphorous is essential to plant growth. Mined out of phosphate rocks, it is one of the three critical elements found in fertilizer along with potassium and nitrogen.

"From our country's deposits, we could run out in 50 to 100 years, which isn't very long," said Jessica Davis, professor of soil and crop sciences at Colorado State University. "I think that people aren't really aware of it."

Those who control oil and water will control the world

There is no alternative to continuing growth, but it comes with deadly side-effects. Overused in industry and agriculture, and under threat from the retreat of the Himalayan glaciers, water is becoming a non-renewable resource. Two-thirds of China's cities face shortages, while deserts are eating up arable land. Breakneck industrialisation is worsening this environmental breakdown, as many more power plants are being built and run on high-polluting coal that accelerates global warming. There is a vicious circle at work here and not only in China. Because ongoing growth requires massive inputs of energy and minerals, Chinese companies are scouring the world for supplies. The result is unstoppable rising demand for resources that are unalterably finite.

Jewish group slams Swiss-Iran gas deal; U.S. questions whether contract violates sanctions

BERN, Switzerland: The World Jewish Congress criticized Switzerland on Monday for participating in a gas deal with Iran that it condemned as a propaganda triumph for Tehran's hard-liners.

Iraq deals with oil majors months away - execs

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iraq and five oil majors are unlikely to sign service deals to boost output from some of the country's largest fields before June after a slowdown in negotiations, oil executives said on Monday.

Baghdad is expected to pay up to $2.5 billion for the firms to help raise the country's output by nearly a quarter, in what would be the largest foreign involvement in Iraq's oil sector for decades.

BP Azeri Link to Boost Volume by 20% Percent in 2009

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc and partners will expand the capacity of their pipeline from Azerbaijan to Turkey by 20 percent next year, the pipeline's Turkish manager said.

BP is currently pumping about 875,000 barrels of crude a day to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, Can Suphi, the pipeline's manager for Turkey, told reporters in Ceyhan today. Capacity will rise to 1.2 million barrels a day in 2009 and as much as 1.6 million barrels by 2013, he said.

Libya to Redefine All Contracts with Oil Companies

The Libyan government says it will review all future contracts with oil companies in a bid to reap more benefit for the country, a senior Libyan government official told Dow Jones Newswires.

"Libya is going back to renegotiate all its oil contracts," Libya's national representative at the African Petroleum Producers' Association, Seddigui N. Ismail said in an interview at the APPA meeting in Yaounde last week.

Diesel Shortage Spreads to Beijing

China’s four-week-long diesel shortage continues to spread across the map, moving further north into the Beijing area like a stain. With diesel shortages in neighboring provinces, more and more truckers are heading to Beijing to refuel, leading to shortages and rationing in the city’s suburbs.

Pakistan - Load-shedding up to 14 hours: ‘25% textile orders cancelled, 25% small enterprises face closure’

Karachi Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and leading textile businessman, Haroon Farooki told Daily Times that the power crisis has caused upto 25 percent of small businessmen to shut their business down because the combined attack of load shedding and the increase in fuel prices is more than they can bear. He said that the textile sector is under serious threat of financial crisis as there are more than 25 percent of foreign orders have been cancelled so far. The level of damage to industrialists and businessmen cannot be calculated because the moral degradation after cancellation of international orders is large and cannot be quantified.

The April 1 deadline for KESC’s payment of Rs 2.5 billion to the Pakistan Electric Power Company (PEPCO) is fast approaching and it does not look like this payment can be made. Farooki commented that PEPCO president blatantly said that power would not be bought or sold without money.

US high court: Delaware can block BP LNG terminal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday sided with Delaware and ruled the state can block a $750 million liquefied natural gas plant that BP Plc wants to build on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River.

Gas station owners say profits slim despite price increases

As the price of gasoline rises, many gas station owners say they're being priced nearly out of business.

"The prices go up and our margin either stays the same or shrinks," said Sam Mousa, who, until last month, was running two gas stations in Salem.

Bangladesh: Restructure agri system for food security

Chief Adviser (CA) Fakhruddin Ahmed yesterday called for restructuring the country's agricultural system to increase the production of food grains for ensuring food security.

Referring to the recent trend in the world food production, he said it is clearly understood in the changed situation that the strategy to replenish food shortages through import is risky.

White Out: Asia’s Rice Price Crisis

Although Asia’s farmers and exporters ought to be laughing all the way to the bank over the rapidly increasing price of rice, they aren’t. All sides – producers and consumers – are suffering and governments are struggling to cope, and farmers in Thailand, the Philippines and other countries are guarding their fields at night to prevent theft.

Gore announces 3-year campaign to combat global warming

NASHVILLE, Tennessee: Nobel prize winner and former Vice President Al Gore plans to launch a three-year advocacy campaign calling for the United States to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Hawaii government searches for ways to help Aloha Airlines

U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, who met with Aloha employees last week, said, "Their lives are collapsing in front of them."

In the hope of lowering fuel costs and increasing the airline's cash flow to save the airline, Abercrombie said he will send a letter to President Bush today asking him to release fuel from the petroleum reserve, a fuel bank that is held for sustaining energy during a shortage crisis.

While there is no fuel shortage, Aloha and other companies in the commerce and cargo industry are on the verge of a crisis because of high fuel costs, he said.

"It's a national emergency," he said. "The cargo hauling industry, the commerce industry are reaching the crisis point. Truckers are being shut down."

Setbacks cast pall on Saudi gas fields

Saudi Arabia’s boast that its southern desert region contains vast reserves of natural gas is facing growing skepticism, amid a string of exploration setbacks by international oil companies operating there.

Mexico government warns of sinking oil output as it seeks reforms

Mexico City - Mexico's state oil company must modernize and look for new fields to stem a substantial fall in its oil production, a government report found. Mexico's oil fields are becoming tapped-out, and by 2021, it would produce 500,000 fewer barrels a day and bring in 14 billion dollars less per year than it does now, warned an Energy Ministry report on the condition of Petroleos Mexicanos, better known as Pemex.

Since 2005, Pemex has lost 10 billion dollars, largely because of shrinking production at its largest oil field, Cantarell in the Bay of Campeche off the coast of Veracruz state, the report said.

Poor Mexico, Part 1: So far from God — so close to the United States

Somewhere off the northern coast of Mexico, buried under the warm waters of the Gulf, there appears to be a $5 trillion treasure that could power all of America for seven straight years. Just 20 years ago, this multi-trillion-dollar find would have been beyond the grasp of the most advanced technology then known. Today, however, the latest oilfield technology could easily bring this potential 50-billion-barrel oil find to market — if there weren’t a non-technological obstacle in the way of getting these riches to the surface.

The problem certainly is not that Mexico doesn’t need the money; nor is it the fact that the U.S.A. would desperately love to share in this exciting bounty. So what’s the problem? We have the technology, they have the oil and a profound distrust still exists. When it comes to Mexico’s natural resources, the trust between our two countries has never recovered from the grave wounds it endured 70 years ago.

Malaysia: Fuelling trouble with petrol subsidies

HUMAN beings are remarkably short sighted. Evolution has designed us to be efficient at spotting and avoiding a sabre toothed tiger waiting by the rocks, but we’re not so good with more long-term issues like retirement funds. And global warming. And oil subsidises.

Ah. We remember the good old days of 2004 when petrol cost only RM1.37 a litre, and we could happily bathe in the stuff.

Pakistan: Prolonged power cuts stir protest

The city witnessed protest against load-shedding in various areas on Thursday, as the angry KESC consumers blocked roads in their localities and chanted slogans against the power utility for being unable to provide uninterrupted electricity supply. The situation resulted in traffic jams in these areas.

The residents of Banaras, Orangi Town, Liaquatabad and Pak Colony took to the streets and blocked traffic flow, while groups of women gathered in Saeedabad and Balida and blocked the Hub River Road for several hours that affected inter-city and intra-city traffic.

Food crisis growing peril

The price of oil is rising relentlessly – also due in part to the soaring Asian economies – and it’s making farming and transportation of food more expensive. The energy crisis is also fuelling the heavily subsidized ethanol business. Between one-quarter and one-third of corn crops in the United States are now being diverted into biofuels, squeezing out food crops and driving up their price.

Senegal: Protests in Dakar over high cost of living

Police in Dakar used tear gas late on Sunday afternoon to disperse a group of protesters planning a march against continuing price increases and deteriorating living conditions in the country.

The march was organised by consumer associations in the country and was attended by prominent opposition leaders, including Ousmane Tanor Dieng, the leader of former ruling Socialist Party.

Fiji: Global energy crisis felt

Pacific ACP Trade Ministers have been told that the global energy crisis is now being felt in the region.

The ministers who’ve just ended a two-day meeting in Nadi have heard that everyone is being affected by the rapid fuel price increase.

Fuel assistance fund grows, a cent at a time

Frances Urban knows the value of a penny.

When she was growing up in Wakefield, Mass., one of the coins could buy her four caramels at the candy store.

Now she and other residents of Basilica Place, a senior residence run by Catholic Charities of Baltimore, are collecting cents to contribute to the Fuel Fund of Maryland. The nonprofit helps families pay their heating and home utility bills.

Female drivers to give Saudi economy huge boost

John Sfakianakis, chief economist at SABB bank, said the move would increasing the purchasing power of Saudi families that no longer have to employ chauffeurs, Saudi daily Arab News reported on Saturday.

Sfakianakis said allowing women to drive would also cause a shift in the ownership of vehicles, increase car sales and open up new markets for the automobile industry and those serving it.

Soybean Acres to Surge, Displacing Corn, USDA Says

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. farmers will plant 18 percent more acres with soybeans this year, more than expected, after price gains made the oilseed more profitable than corn, the government said. Wheat planting also will jump.

What will power Maine?

As Maine weighs its future electricity needs, a debate has emerged over which sources will truly generate significant amounts of power and fulfill their promise of being environmentally friendly.

Time to press the nuclear start button

When the movers and shakers of Britain's civil nuclear industry assembled in London last week, the mood was upbeat. A speech from John Hutton, the business minister, had removed any lingering doubts about the Damascene scale of the government's conversion to nuclear's future role in the UK energy mix.

A bear of a dilemma

New oil and natural gas production in Alaska and in its surrounding waters would immediately be put at risk if the polar bear is listed as "endangered." There would be virtually no chance to open up even a small portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), an area estimated to contain 10 billion barrels of oil. That's enough to replace what we'll import from Saudi Arabia over the next 15 years.

Environmentalists want it neither way

The idea behind "carbon capture and storage" is elegantly simple. Industries that generate carbon dioxide shouldn't pump it into the air. They should "capture" it. And then pump it back underground -- which is where it likely came from in the first place -- where it will stay.

We keep churning out energy, products, money and jobs; we stop making the planet's fever worse. One would think environmentalists would find this quite satisfactory.

But one would be wrong.

False alarms and climate change

Dire predictions about the future of prosperous capitalist living remain trendy, despite decades of well-documented exaggeration. Al Gore claims a consensus in regard to his "planetary emergency" of global climate change from fossil-fuel burning. The science is "settled," the editorial page of Science magazine claimed last year. And note the title of a recent conference at the Baker Institute at Rice University: "Beyond Science: The Economics and Politics of Responding to Climate Change."

But as columnist George F. Will has observed in reference to climate science, "People only insist that a debate stop when they are afraid of what might be learned if it continues."

Australia: NASA scientist urges PM to stop coal exports

NASA chief climate scientist James Hansen has written to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd asking him to consider halting plans for mining and export of coal in Australia.

Rx: Canned goods and ammunition

When financial assets disappear, real assets still have real value. You can eat food and live in a house.

Growing populations, rising standards of living and a finite planet argue for resource prices to rise.

Chinese demand for meat, which requires the input of much more vegetable matter than the equivalent calorie value in noodles, almost requires wheat prices to increase — and they are increasing. Whether peak oil is with us now or in 20 years, the oil supply is finite and demand continues to grow. Water, the ultimate in inelastic demand goods, is also finite — and getting scarcer.

Pemex Missteps Pare Oil Revenues, Pave Way for Petrobras Entry

Pemex, which produces more crude oil every year than Exxon Mobil Corp., suffers from too little investment, high taxes, laws that forbid competition, corruption and corroding and exploding pipelines. An accident at an offshore platform killed 21 in October.

The Pemex crisis that critics have warned about for the past decade has arrived: Production at the company's largest oil field, Cantarell, fell 18 percent last year, and Pemex has little petroleum lined up to replace it. Yet the government of President Felipe Calderon finds itself unable to act to prevent what could be a disaster for both Pemex and the country, whose budget relies heavily on Pemex sales.

Visiting editors' parting shots: Oil, vouchers and volunteering

There's a topic to be discussed at the intersection of economics and the environment that doesn't get the attention it deserves. The topic is "peak oil."

Power crisis for Guangdong industry

HONG KONG - Guangdong province, one of China's economic power engines, this year will suffer its worst electricity shortage in three decades. And despite China's power supply and demand nationwide expected to reach a balance this year, power supply in the coastal regions will remain tight.

Lebanon's top Shiite cleric bans attacks against public utilities in Iraq

BEIRUT, Lebanon: Lebanon's top Shiite Muslim cleric has issued a religious edict banning attacks on public utilities in Iraq, mainly the oil industry.

Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah says in a statement that Iraqis should work for stability in their country otherwise they will be helping the "occupation."

Gazprom ups pipeline costs, delays oil project

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's gas export monopoly Gazprom acknowledged on Monday it was facing delays and cost overruns at two key projects, a pipeline to Europe and an Arctic oil development.

India Turns to Angola After Losing in Energy Auctions

(Bloomberg) -- India, Asia's third-largest consumer of oil, will focus on obtaining energy assets in Angola after failing to secure supplies closer to home.

``Angola is the next country where we are going to concentrate,'' Indian Oil Minister Murli Deora said in an interview in New Delhi. ``We lost because our bid wasn't good enough'' in previous auctions, he said. ``We have learned from this,'' the minister said.

Down-home apocalypse

Dark days are coming. Oil will run out, temperatures will rise, governments will crumble and survivors will be forced to scratch out a preindustrial existence amid the detritus of the 20th Century.

James Howard Kunstler warned as much in his 2006 book of social criticism, "The Long Emergency." And he stays on-message in his new novel, "World Made by Hand," which sketches post-apocalyptic life in the fictional upstate New York town of Union Grove.

UK: Energy Minister Malcom Wicks grants change for green energy

New rules designed to help homeowners, schools and hospitals to install climate-friendly generators will be announced today by the Energy Minister.

Malcom Wicks will give details of the funding as part of changes to the Low Carbon Buildings Programme in which the cap on grants will be raised to 50 per cent of the costs.

Truckers to protest fuel costs

Facing mounting diesel fuel costs and shrinking profits, some truckers nationwide are making plans to protest this week by parking their semis or clogging traffic by driving slowly.

The truckers say average diesel gas prices, which AAA reported had risen over the past month from $3.38 to $3.91 a gallon nationally as of Friday, are forcing some drivers out of business.

Facing up to the coming resources crunch

The world is faced with a triple crisis: climate change, peak oil and global resource depletion. These are interrelated and interactive problems which makes the subject extremely complex. The certainties are that there will be great changes to contend with in the future in order to produce and deliver food to maintain the present world population, let alone a balanced diet for everyone. At the present time there are roughly one billion people that are underfed and/or on imbalanced diets lacking essential micro nutrients that are provided by animal protein.

The primary resource depletion is that of fossil fuel energy since the world has been using more fossil energy than is being discovered and it appears that the reserves of oil that can be cheaply mined are now at peak production (half these resources have been combusted). As oil reserves are depleted it is predictable that, just as with any other commodity, prices will rise with increasing scarcity. World population expansion has been promoted by the availability of inexpensive oil, which has supported increased world food production by providing inexpensive inputs including fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, traction power( lowering the need for labour and reducing the numbers of people in farming) and in places irrigation water. Inexpensive oil allowed food to be produced cheaply but this will change greatly as oil prices rise creating the potential for major disruptions in food availability.

Indonesia feels the pinch as oil, commodity prices surge

JAKARTA (AFP) - With prices for key commodities at record highs, Indonesia -- Southeast Asia's biggest economy and a key exporter -- should, at first glance, be enjoying good times.

But with high oil prices leading to a government fuel subsidy blowout and rising food prices hitting the poor, analysts say most Indonesians are being squeezed.

Higher Crude Prices Jack Up Korea's Oil Import Bill

Despite a drop in the volume of oil imports, South Korea's import bill rose sharply this month from a year earlier as international crude prices shot up, government data showed Sunday.

Mexico to start afresh in oil reform talks

MEXICO CITY, March 30 (Reuters) - Mexico will start afresh this week with multiparty talks over a planned oil reform, the government said on Sunday, further reducing the chances of a law being passed before Congress winds up at the end of April.

Iraq's Sadr orders followers off streets

NAJAF -- Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called on his followers on Sunday to stop battling government forces after a week of fighting in southern Iraq and Baghdad threatened to spiral out of control. A crackdown on Shi'ite militants in the southern oil port of Basra has sparked an explosion of violence that has risked undoing the past year's improvements in Iraq's security.

Ethiopia arrests 8 suspects in oilfield attack

ADDIS ABABA, March 30 (Reuters) Ethiopia said on Sunday security forces had arrested eight men suspected in connection with a deadly rebel raid last year on a Chinese-run oil field.

The state-run Ethiopian News Agency said the detainees belonged to the separatist Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), which killed 74 people during the April 2007 attack in the remote eastern Ogaden region.

In gas-rich Gulf, supplies fall short

DUBAI: According to BP's latest "Statistical Review of World Energy," Iran and Qatar sit on 30 percent of the world's total natural gas reserves.

Yet within the Gulf, the ability to meet the growing local demand for natural gas is being frustrated by underdeveloped supply mechanisms and limited regional cooperation.

Russia's new energy strategy seems a lot like its old one

Western analysts say they expect little to change politically as a result of Medvedev's elevation and Putin's shift into the prime minister's seat: and economic analysts equally expect little change to emerge from the long-term plan.

There is in fact no shift in strategy, said a Russian oil industry analyst with an international organization in Paris, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the authorities in Russia to criticism. In the absence of new thinking, "the only strategy is accumulation of assets in state hands and appropriation of the largest possible share of the oil and gas rent," he said.

Russian Oil Output May Fall for First Time in Decade in 2008

Russian oil output may fall this year for the first time in a decade as the world's second-biggest supplier struggles with rising costs and harder-to-reach fields, Natural Resources Minister Yuri Trutnev said.

``Two years ago, we said the growth rate was falling, and we said this was bad for Russia, remember?'' Trutnev said in televised remarks after a government meeting in Moscow today. ``Now we're saying the production rate is falling this year. This is not a bogeyman, unfortunately, this is real,'' Trutnev said, without giving a specific forecast.

Liquid asset

Could the oil sands, Canada's greatest economic project, come undone simply because no one thought about water?

Companies give folks solar help to go green

For years, Bruce Crawford dreamed of putting solar panels on his one-story house to cut his power bill and "do something good for the environment." But he couldn't see past some dark clouds — the $20,000 to $30,000 purchase price.

"I wanted to do it, but I was choking on what I had to" spend, says the software engineer who lives in Pleasanton, Calif.

Then, a Silicon Valley start-up called Sun Run offered Crawford a way to go green without straining his wallet. Last month, the company installed a 3.8-kilowatt system on his pitched roof for $6,000. Crawford, 62, says he'll immediately save money on his electric bill. Sun Run monitors and maintains the system, replacing worn parts at no extra cost.

Thai temple fights off encroaching tide as world sea levels rise

KHUN SAMUT CHIN, Thailand (AFP) - Crabs scuttle across the wet floor of the near-deserted Khun Samut temple, the only building left in a Thai village that has disappeared beneath the rising and advancing sea.

Waging a battle against an encroaching tide that has sent all the villagers fleeing inland, a monk in orange robes and faded tattoos meant to ward off evil spirits stalks the newly-built sea wall, planting mangrove shoots.

Austrian glaciers shrink the most in five years

VIENNA (AFP) - Austria's glaciers retreated more than 22 metres (24 yards) on average last year, in the biggest shrinking for five years, the country's Alpine Club said Saturday.

"All glaciers experienced melting and retreated... an average of 22.2 metres" in the 2006-2007 period, the Alpine Club said, citing measurements of 93 glaciers by its specialists who blamed milder than normal temperatures.

welcome back, Leanan!

echo that, there is nothing like a real drumbeat ! bom bom bom ...

Yes! Welcome back, life was really hard without your daily Drumbeats, Leanan! (Not to speak about your moderation of the discussions ... it's been painfully missed!)

Doomer Queen,

Echo "painfully missed";

Welcome back!
I hope that you had a good, well-deserved rest.
Your work is much appreciated.

Yes thanks, to Leanan.

I have nothing else to add than to agree. Good you returned to the chore.

I thought the world was coming to an end. But no, WE'RE SAVED! Leanan's back!

Leanan's absence encouraged my devilish urges.

A heartfelt welcome back...

Yes, it's great to have you back, Leanan. Outstanding coverage today.


and again from me

and again

Yes, I'm back. I haven't looked in at TOD at all while I was gone, so bear with me for a day or two. I have no clue what's been posted already and what hasn't.

Don't worry, the boys held down the fort while you were gone.

Not that you weren't missed. Welcome back.

Welcome Back. Did you manage to stay away entirely for the last week? I am really interested in the state of your consensus trance and what it's like to be back. Do you feel more or less hopeful? I'd read an entire article about your vacation. Have a good day.

I don't think TOD is really the place for that sort of rumination, but I might post about my vacation on one of my much-neglected blogs. It was something, driving across the country and appreciating the convenience of the car and the wonders of Florida, all while wondering how much longer they'd be around.

Welcome back!

A good article on hard core New York City drivers:

New York City: Faster, Maybe. Cheaper, No. But Driving Has Its Fans.
Published: March 31, 2008

. . . But in a city known for crowded subway platforms and standing-room-only buses, many residents, even those with robust public transit options, remain fiercely loyal to their cars. Despite the threat of traffic jams, honking horns and the urban version of road rage, these New Yorkers choose to drive, whether to shave time off their commutes, run their errands with less hassle or have a few moments to themselves inside mobile oases.

“New York is a transit-rich and transit-oriented place,” said Bruce Schaller, a transportation consultant who is now a deputy commissioner for planning and sustainability at the city’s Department of Transportation. Notwithstanding the fact that 1.74 million cars are registered in the city, most New Yorkers travel by public transportation. But for that committed knot of drivers, even enhanced services may not lure them onto fancy new buses, given that, according to Mr. Schaller, 80 percent of the people who drive into Manhattan during the workday already have access to mass transit that would take no more than 15 minutes longer. “Most people who are driving will continue to drive,” he said, adding that the reasons are generally convenience and speed, or having waited for a bus in the rain one too many times.

I think San Francisco is the same way, lots of people paying $300 a month for a place to park their car, when they'd be better off without the thing.

Having a car, in our culture, is a sign that you're doing well. In car-free literature I've seen it mentioned that a person in the US is generally praised for getting a new car, when they should be felt sorry for, taking on that much expense. Car ownership is a sign of breeding fitness.

And, if the city car-owner is going out into Upstate, or the greater Bay Area often, owning a car costs no more than a rental 4-5 times a month, and they have it all the time. Car ownership is going to die hard.


You scared me...I too was on vacation until Last wednesday. I had tuned out as well.

I came back and NO Leanan...threadbot drumbeats...for days and a few calls for you to come back...I thought something had happened and you left us...whew!

Hope you were able to enjoy your time off.

For god-sakes Leanan, I profess my love for you every month and this is how you show your gratitude--failing to stop by for a visit while in FL. I'm beginning to think that you may not be so smitten with my advances...

Anyway...Leanan's Back!, Leanan's Back!, Leanan's Back!...YA!, Leanan's Back!

Yes, Welcome back.

Can't wait for that Peak Oilers Gone Wild vid. (j/k)

Where abouts in FL did you roam?


Welcome back Leannan.

I trust you are well rested.

While you were away:

No New Super Giants were announced.

No massive breakthroughs in Fusion happened.

The price of staples didnt fall.

Same sh*t, different day.

Add another "welcome back Leanan" from me as well. Your absence just proves, yet again, that you don't know what you've got till it's gone. It's always amazing how many trolls pop out from under the freeway when the "cops" are away. Next time, I hope TOD can find a stand in for you during your well deserved break(s).

E. Swanson

I often say to PG that TOD is a microcosm of Peak Oil - cooperation, conflict, a new social model, etc. SuperG is the oil - without him we can't put up a thing. Leanan is the natural gas. I of course, am the wind....;-)

Did ja bring me back some crackerjacks?

Present for leanan;

"2008 Baseball Prospectus"


Meet Kevin Goldstein and Christina Kahrl, co-authors of Baseball Prospectus: The Essential Guide to the 2008 Baseball Season, the bestselling guide to Major League Baseball returns, bringing together the top young baseball writers and analysts in the business to provide the definitive look at the season to come - Books Inc.


And we're supposed to sit here in the dark while you take a rest? :)

Welcome back!

Streaming Clouds of Glory, Thank Goodness you are BACK.

Welcome Leanan, Please give us a warning next time.

You were sorely missed.


Leanan's back!!-)

what a great picture above the fold to wake up to ! - a glimpse of post peak Detroit (or London).

I was beginning to wonder if you eloped with Mark Grace...Welcome back. As you might guess, the threadbot is just not the same...;-)

EEStor powered CityZENN targeted for fall 2009


That date would be fall 2009, the company said -- a far cry from orginal talk of 2007 but, if the product delivers on its promises, I'm sure it will be worth the wait. "The cityZENN is planned to be a fully certified, highway capable vehicle with top speed of 125 KPH/80 MPH and a range of 400 kilometres/250 miles. Powered by EEStor, the cityZENN will be rechargeable in less than 5 minutes, feature operating costs 1/10th of a typical internal combustion engine vehicle and be 100 per cent emission-free," the company said in a statement following the meeting.

Two years late...still could be a breakthrough if we see it.

In the comments of the blog is this:

Re: Re: EEStor powered CityZENN targeted for fall 2009
"depending upon the electricity source, the GHG emissions may be zero - or large"

Not quite 'large', since power plants, even the old ones, are more efficient than ICEs.

But I've heard that electricity from fossil fuels burned in a powerplant used in an electric car have an efficiency of 33%, whereas the ICE has an efficiency of about 20-25% Different, but not a huge difference.

Another silver bullet proving to be a dud.


All aboard the EV bandwagon!

"Five years ago, plug-ins weren't on anyone's mind. Getting them to market early will open the way for pure electric vehicles as well."

A power plant would have an efficiency of over 80% if the plant was located in the middle of a town or city with a district heating/cooling loop. Imagine the improvement in air quality with a nuclear plant in the city centre with electrified vehicles and rail.

I think that the best thing about EV's is that one can source the power in different ways. Electricity could even come from some combination of solar or wind power at home or through the grid integrating a variety of efficient and even fairly clean sources.

Not a panacea, but perhaps a good thing, none the less.

Chaos on Wall Street

The big banks' fear of big losses is threatening to bring down the entire system, with dire consequences for all of us. Here's what's going on, and what we can do about it.

By Allan Sloan, senior editor at large

(Fortune Magazine) -- What in the world is going on here? Why is Washington spending billions to bail out Wall Street titans while leaving struggling homeowners to fend for themselves? Why are the Federal Reserve and the Treasury acting as if they're afraid the world may come to an end, while the stock market seems much less concerned? And finally, what does all this mean to those of us who aren't financial professionals?

Subprime crisis hits governments

THE SUBPRIME mortgage crisis that pushed homeowners into foreclosure and forced the Federal Reserve to bail out investment banker Bear Stearns has also sent state and local governments across the country scrambling to refinance municipal bonds before they are hit with exorbitant interest rates.

...For some agencies, the transition will be exceptionally painful if they can't move quickly. For many, the collapse of the auction-rate securities market cost millions of dollars more in interest payments. The public will feel the squeeze through tax increases down the line or less money for much-needed public services and facilities.

There is probably no answer -- but is this entire financial "meltdown" merely the result of "irrational exuberance" and ordinary greed? Or is there some measure of intent here -- to expand the market like fast-rising bread dough, then punch it down on purpose to squeeze out the gas, which, of course, would be smaller competitors of the biggest perpetrators, not to mention the hoi polloi who were suckered into believing they could play with the sharks?

I seriously doubt that everyone will lose when this is all over. Who do you suppose will be on top?

If Naomi Klein's hypothesis and book, 'Shock Doctrine', is really being implemented by the current and past few administrations, then the answer to 'who will win' is obvious.

Now we are in an 'economic shock', produced by actions of Greenspan and now Bernanke with the blessing of Bush, and what changes are the Fed, Treasury and the administration backing? Remember what Mz Klein wrote? First a shock is allowed to happen (Katrina mess) or a shock is actually perpetrated, and then the administration steps in and quickly implements change while the citizens are still in shock...

'Fed Calls Regulatory Overhaul "Timely"

Reuters is reporting Treasury regulatory overhaul plan "timely".

Upcoming Treasury Department proposals to make the Federal Reserve the chief regulator of U.S. financial markets and give it sweeping new powers won praise on Saturday from the central bank and the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"The Treasury's report presents a timely and thoughtful analysis and is an important first step in the complex task of modernizing our financial and regulatory architecture. We look forward to working with the Congress and others to help develop a policy framework that will enhance financial and economic stability," a Federal Reserve spokeswoman said.
Let's Take a Look at "Timely"

*Housing is imploding.
*There are $500 Trillion in derivatives that no one can possibly understand the financial risks on.
*A huge portion of those derivatives are with JP Morgan (JPM).
*Bear Stearns stock went from $170 to $10 in a year in Shotgun *Wedding between Bear Stearns and JP Morgan arranged by the Fed
*Questions Linger Over Lehman's Balance Sheet as Lehman Brothers (LEH) is leveraged 31.7 times.
*Citigroup (C) had to be bailed out by Abu Dhabi Deal Raises *Questions About Citigroup's Health
*Merrill Lynch needed $6.6 Billion Bailout From Kuwait, Mizuho.
*Cost of Capital "Ratchets Up" at Citigroup and Merrill
*Morgan Stanley (MS) sold 9.9% of the firm to China after handing out huge bonuses.
*People are walking away from homes
*Businesses Are Advised To Walk Away from agreed upon deals.
*There is an open public debate on Moral Obligations Of Walking Away
1 in 10 of the entire state of Ohio is on food stamps.
*Florida, Ohio, and Michigan are in an economic depression.
*There is No market for Asset Backed Commercial Paper (ABCP)
*German Banks Fears Global Meltdown caused by US subprime debt
*There is a $1.1 Trillion HELOC Problem
*Unemployment is poised to soar.
*Commercial real estate is massively overbuilt and poised to plunge.
*Goldman Sachs (GS) is calling for another $460 billion in writedowns.
*[The dollar is in a tail spin]
*[Commodities are soaring]
*The SEC Openly Invites Corporations To Lie.
Gee, that sure looks "timely" to me.'


The Fed (a private corporation) to become "the chief regulator of U.S. financial markets and give it sweeping new powers" sounds a little ominous to me. Inasmuch as the Fed allowed, if not actually promoted this current situation, it would not seem too much to think this another case of the fox guarding the hen house.

Capitalism is merely the most efficient way to enclose the "commons" to the benefit of a few at the expense of the many. And there are so many ways to go about this enclosure!

And throughout all this Federal regulation business and need to set rules,
not one indictment for fraud . No wonder the 'street' likes the sound of the
There's one sure way to make sure people play by the rules. Make it a prison
offense to break the rules. It sure worked for me when someone asked me to backdate
a trade on the options floor.
At least in the Savings and Loan mess, one man went to jail. Is everyone going to
get off scott free this time?
Let the heads roll.

Are these the good old days? Dave

It seems a bit early to be screaming about a lack of indictments. I don't see any scenario is which they would have come out this fast, nor would there be any real benefit to rushing them. Investors have lost billions of dollars, hedge funds and investment banks at the center of this have been hammered (UBS just wrote off another $19 billion) and their bosses fired, lawsuits have been files and more will come.

While I do agree that harsh penalties for breaking laws are crucial to discouraging fraud, it does not seem clear that the core problems here are caused by anything illegal. I do expect that there will be criminal actions, but most likely at the level of mortgages. However leveraging up and taking huge risks is not against the law.

I don't recall any indictments coming out of the last bubble bursting following the dot com boom. I wouldn't count on that many this time. Booms and busts happen. It is part and parcel of a market economy.

It is essential that those who took the risks get stuck with the losses and that taxpayer money only be spent to the degree that the taxpayer benefits. But until it is clear that crimes were committed, it doesn't make sense to call for indictments.

There's one sure way to make sure people play by the rules. Make it a prison
offense to break the rules. It sure worked for me when someone asked me to backdate
a trade on the options floor.

One of the MSM talking heads mentioned the idea of loosing a hand. With overpopulation looming and prison being expensive and all - the death penalty should make a comeback no?

(If there is gonna be a lack of fuel, food and violence in the streets, the prison might just look like a good bet no?)

Miss Klein may indeed be on to something. Watch z e it ge ist movie dot com if you'd like another take (last 1/3rd focuses on the Fed).

... all this made me a little confused!
Is this the time to buy or sell debt?
Personally I’d like to sell my debt, redone as some sort of lucrative "derivative". How about that!

Mish's list of 'Timely' events is appropriate. What I find tedious are the libertarian contortions he goes through to avoid the obvious conclusion that lack of regulation in the financial industry is the 'elephant in the living room' as far as culpability goes. This de-regulation binge began more or less in the Reagan administration and has been carried on through Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II (with nice blatantly corrupt highlights). No, to Mish it is all the Feds fault. Bosh!

There's no logical room in theology for compromise.

There are a lot of different types of Theology, s390.

Some are very capable of compromise, as the week's events between China and the Dalai Llama may show us.. while other groups that claim to operate under a Theology simply find themselves in Compromising positions again and again.

Ave Maria, gee, it's good to seeya,
Doin that Vatican
Gettin' ecstatic and
Doin the Vatican Rag!

(Not to put Catholics on either side of that fence.. they're big enough to play the whole field..)


There is no logic in Theology....


Lowbrow response..

“Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end”

Cmdr Spock, Star Trek VI

Hibrow response..

“Man has such a predilection for systems and abstract deductions that he is ready to distort the truth intentionally, he is ready to deny the evidence of his senses only to justify his logic”

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I repeat, there is NO logic in Theology.

There is only Biology, and that, is what will determine the End of Days. All this round and round about the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of GW, Peak Oil, Population Overshoot, and the price of Tea in China, is nice to pass the time though.

The World turns, with or without U.S.


I guess I don't care what you think of Theology itself, it's that your willingness to make such a blanket and absolute denial means you come off as just as didactic and inflexible in your own logic as the kind of Extreme-minded religious folk that I think you must be reacting to..

Every action has its equal opposite, I guess.. and this was the role you played yesterday, too, advocating for the very extreme WorldState solutions for population control that TomC was apparently trying to warn everyone about.

There's no doubt that we've lived in a time with some of the most devastating cancers in the religions of the world. Karen Armstrong's 'The Battle for God' is a great study of the growth of the Fundamentalist, Isolationist and Violent movements within Christianity, Islam and Judaism in the last several centuries, leaving us in the mess we find now. It's really too bad that this has left so many people with a reactionary view against all religious expression as well.

A time of extremes and overreactions.


I could not find a ref, but on BNN the other day they said that banks in California are now giving money to people being thrown out of their homes to not trash them. Seems people were destroying their homes as they left them to the banks.

The WSJ has an article titled Buyers' Revenge: Trash the House After Foreclosure.

Honestly, the Drumbeat here is nothing more than a collection of energy stories pulled together daily by Leanan. It's convenient for that very reason. Likewise, I pulled that story from The Automatic Earth: Debt Rattle, March 31 2008. TAE does the same thing to financial stories in its daily Debt Rattles that Leanan does to energy stories here in Drumbeat. I read TAE for the convenience of financial stories. I read TOD for the convenience of energy stories.

Yeah, but nobody blogwhores the DrumBeat. Precisely because it's just a collection of news stories, not original work.

I have heard $500 trillion, $180 trillion, 50 trillion, and other amounts stated that represent the total amount of derivatives outstanding. Which number is correct, if any, is anybody's guess. But what I do think is that the loss on the total amount of derivatives outstanding should be in the range of 10-20%. In as much as about $2 trillion has either been written off or taken as collateral by central banks, if the amount of derivatives in the world exceed 20 trillion, the remaining problem is huge.

Don't worry its just a really big scary number that makes no sense. Its actual value is not really important whats important is when this really big scary friggin number goes to zero.


Here is another point of view, from Robert Samuelson, for the financial doomers. Defaulted mortgages are, after all, a very small percentage of the real economy. Recessions generally tend to be self correcting. He doesn't address the longer emergency resulting from a gradual decline in petroleum supplies, but he makes some sensible comments regarding the chances of a near-term meltdown.

Robert Samuelson is sometime right wing political hack for the Washington Post. He knows as much about economics as the man in the moon. Why he comments on economics is obvious...a paycheck and his political motivation. Samuelson has no training of any sort in economics. He is a also a sometime scribbler for the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute. Why would anyone lend credence to his comments on the state of the economy?


'Samuelson was born in New York City. He is a 1967 graduate of Harvard with a B.A. in government.'


One of Samuelson's arguments is that the situation is self-correcting. That might be true if peak oil and peak other types of resources weren't involved. The rising price of oil, other energy and food insures that there is a continued downward pressure on the economy, and this will only get worse over time. With so much cost pressure for these goods, there will also be pressure on people to share living spaces. This will take people out of the housing market.

The housing market was already badly overbuilt for what we need, and can afford to heat in the future. It will continue to fall more than people expect. At the same time, all of the food and energy cost pressures will start causing business failures as will as more personal debt failure. There will be more people laid off work, and real estate taxes will fall. Many local governments will default on their debts.

I don't see how this is self correcting. Without peak oil and pressure on other resources, it probably would be, but not now. This can only go from slowdown to recession to depression.

It takes forever to open, but read my post The Expected Economic Impact of an Energy Downturn. I added some more to it since it was originally posted. There is no way Samuelson is correct.

Samuelson's main argument seems to be 'things aren't that bad YET, why worry?'

Things have only been really sliding for about six months, and look how loose they have already gotten with the taxpayers' money-wait till things get really bad-the US dollar is toast.

I remember those golden days of... uh, January, when articles like this were the mainstream answer for why nothing else would go wrong. The very same people who warned for years against the pyramid-scheme economy were the ones who said it would spread far beyond mortgages to the foundations of the financial system. They were dismissed and ignored. Now they're just plagiarized.

Imperial oil sands plans dealt blow

The federal government has revoked a key water permit for Imperial Oil Ltd.'s [IMO-T] proposed $8-billion Kearl oil sands mine, delaying work on a major new oil sands development as environmental scrutiny of the massive projects around Fort McMurray intensifies.

From today's WSJ (behind a paywall):

U.S. Farmers to Plant Less Corn, Likely Further Pressuring Prices

Farmers are expected to plant 86 million acres of corn this year, the government predicted Monday, down 8% from 2007, when the amount of corn planted was the highest since World War II. The decreased supply could drive corn prices even higher -- a cost for food producers that could be passed on to consumers....

As corn-fueled ethanol production keeps growing, corn used for ethanol will make up more than 30% of the corn crop by next year, up from 14% in 2006...

Already corn stocks at the end of this year's marketing year, which ends the last day of August, are projected to be the lowest in decades at 542 million bushels, says Joe Victor, a grains analyst at brokerage firm Allendale Inc. That is equivalent to about 28 days of corn. In 2005, the grain cupboards had about 70 days of corn. "We're living on the edge of a knife," Mr. Victor recently told a group of investors at the Chicago Board of Trade. "There is no room for error."

E. Swanson

Welcome back Leanan, we missed you!

Farmers are expected to plant 86 million acres of corn this year, the government predicted Monday, down 8% from 2007

It may well be more profitable for farmers to plant less - like OPEC with oil, if you can be sure that there isn't enough supply to meet guaranteed (mandated/subsidised) demand at current prices and there are no adequate alternatives, income can only go up while your costs stay the same.

My understanding is that the vast majority of corn is used as corn syrup(sweetener) or fed to livestock to artificially speed up the fattening process.

About 7pc or so is actually eaten as corn flakes, chips, tortilla etc...

No one 'needs' corn sweetener to survive and feeding grain protein to get meat protein at a 10 to 1 ratio seems astoundingly wasteful of protein. You don't 'need' meat to survive, it is a luxury experience, not a necessity.

I consider all corn destined for meat and soda pop sweetener to be a waste of agricultural land. In an energy scare future, soda pop and burgers are going to be very high end uses of truly vital 'real' food producing arable land.

I wonder which they would choose if people had to decide between swopping arable land for soda and steak OR ethanol to drive around in their cars with. One or the other, which would be more 'necessary' for life?

I consider all corn destined for meat and soda pop sweetener to be a waste of agricultural land.

Then you have all the land, water and fertilizer that goes into the production of alfalfa, along with all that goes to ethanol and biodiesel production. Food prices are soaring but we ain't seen nothing yet. Folks on fixed incomes are going to have to decide whether to spend their limited $$ on food, heating fuel, or medication. People right here in the US will be facing the decision of whether to starve or freeze or die of lack of medical attention. Oh well, when they die we can use the corpses to produce more biodiesel!

Oh well, when they die we can use the corpses to produce more biodiesel!

At least until the starving realise that the difference between man and beef is merely one of taste.

Nothing tastier than a tender fried Yankee thigh. Soft red, Merlot perhaps. Mmmmmm.

Well, if you're not going to eat meat, be sure to take iron and vitamin b12 supplements.

Lead story on trucker "concerns" over fuel. You can't blame the truckers for being a bit ticked off given their overall decline in wages and standard of living. Go out a buy an $800 tire and see what it does to your budget. Too bad we can't have similar consequences occur to congress , the prez and the fed boyz where they really might understand more of what real "working people" are dealing with these days. John

Interesting picture for that article...trucker, trucker, ....sikh?

The melting pot, approaching Meltdown. You're soaking in it!

Nobody here but us Boiling Froggies!

He's already a road warrior.

In most industries, when input costs go up, you raise the prices you charge for the produced output. In this case, the produced output is transporting cargo from point A to point B, and hopefully cargo from point B to point A. The point is, they need to raise prices according to their input costs. If they price themselves out of the market by being too expensive, that's what we call supply/demand response. I suspect soon we will have a number of unemployed truckers in our future as more things are eventually produced locally to reduce shipping costs.

Although this is bad news for the truckers, isn't less truck transport a positive change in the long run anyway?

Yes, but there is no way that anyone in government or the media is going to admit that. Just like nobody admitted that free trade, while maybe a net plus for the economy (narrowly defined) IN THE AGGREGATE, was going to be a net minus for the vast majority of workers.

It is what the government and the media DON'T tell you that you really have to watch out for.

In this case, the produced output is transporting cargo from point A to point B, and hopefully cargo from point B to point A. The point is, they need to raise prices according to their input costs. If they price themselves out of the market by being too expensive

This past winter, I was going to order a 12 lb. sledge, a few 9 lb. wedges, and a heavy duty come-along for fuelwood procurement purposes (my son is strong as a blackbacked gorilla) from a tool catalog. A secretary for the company called and said that my order was too heavy to be shipped by UPS and that I would have to pay truck freight. The shipping costs were going to be more than the price of the items ordered! I canceled the order. Soon we are going to be seeing the shipping costs of food be more than the price of the food. PO induced hyperinflation is upon us.

(Ednote: ddog, you are a smart chap, but I suspect you have ADD or some such....;-) this is third time in as many days you had your second < blockqoute > either spelled wrong or without a bracket....I fixed them)

(Ednote: ddog, you are a smart chap, but I suspect you have ADD or some such....;-) this is third time in as many days you had your second < blockqoute > either spelled wrong or without a bracket....I fixed them)

Thanks. I think that I may forget the / in the 2nd tag.

I wonder if earlier in the last Century there were similar stories about the sad state of affairs for blacksmiths and liveries. I suspect government didn't do much to help them then. It's unlikely society will miss truckers 100 years from now the way we'll miss those skilled in horse husbandry in the near term.

"we'll miss those skilled in horse husbandry in the near term."

Here in central NH, there is quite a bit of skill in draft horse husbandry and such. I'm looking out the window right now at my big ol' Percheron mare, as the snow flitters down (Matt - if you're reading this, Blossom says 'hi').

Once the snowpack is gone (May? June? Never?) we'll be out in the woods working. Can't wait!

I can tell you that I certainly won't lament a lesser amount of 18 wheelers on the roads! While many of them are courteous and skilled drivers, they certainly can be threatening to someone in a small vehicle who actually travels at or below the speed limit. (Which is easy to go at or below, seeing that it is 70 mph in many places.)

Go out a buy an $800 tire and see what it does to your budget.

Working at a truck stop, I routinely see $800 and $900 spent just to fuel up. The other day I even saw one of those "duelly" pickups with a tank on each side along with a spare tank mounted in the bed behind the cab. The truck itself was a newer model, black, washed and waxed to a fine sheen -- you could tell it was this guy's pride 'n' joy. His tab: $615.

Ah, the price of being macho in the Midwest...

Most people have no clue what the truck driving business is particularly from the owner/operator poit of view. First you get a rig with a big fat mortgage (sometimes a larger principal than your house). You usually don't own the trailer, that is normally the property of the trucking company.

Say you pick up a load in Fresno heading for Dallas. That's an easy run. You are paid by the mile and your gas and other expenses are yours. When you get to Dallas you drop your load and then you hope that there is a load that is close. The expense of getting to the next "load" is yours. If you have to dead-head (no freight) for lets say 500 miles to pick up a decent load that could wipe out the profit on the previous load. If you turn down the load you end up at the back of the list and they (the company) may punish you by making you sit at a truckstop for days.

You have transportation fees that vary from state to state. If you have mechanical problems that can cost in the several thousand dollar range because nothing on those rigs is cheap. You have insurance, time logs that have to be filed and you better watch the company so they don't cheat you. Don't be late on the payments on your 1/4 million dollar rig because they'll repossess it while you're getting coffee. Oh! and did I mention that you haven't been home in two weeks and you think your wife is cheating on you.

And the above scenario is when the busness was good!

From the Russian Oil Output May Fall article, linked up top:

``Now we're saying the production rate is falling this year. This is not a bogeyman, unfortunately, this is real,'' Trutnev said, without giving a specific forecast.

Our (Khebab/Brown) low case, middle case, high case for Russian Net Oil Exports (projected initial 10 year decline rate shown):


So who is left to keep world oil production from falling? When would we start to see falling world oil production numbers from the EIA?

We have seen a slight decline in world crude oil production (crude + condensate), on an annual basis, based on EIA data--a two year annual decline rate of -0.3%/year, versus an initial post-1970 two year annual decline rate of -0.8% for the Lower 48.

However, the only thing (other than their own production) that counts from the point of view of importing countries is net oil exports. IMO, the bidding war for declining net oil exports kicked into high gear in October, 2007. US oil prices, partly aided by the falling dollar, have risen at an annual rate of over 50%/year since October 1, 2007. I think that we are looking at a geometric progression in oil prices: $50, $100, $200, $400. . . .

US oil prices, partly aided by the falling dollar, have risen at an annual rate of over 50%/year since October 1, 2007. I think that we are looking at a geometric progression in oil prices: $50, $100, $200, $400. . . .

IMO, I think you may be jumping the gun a bit on fitting that to a geometric progression for future prices. You're really only talking about the first two points in that series, and theres no telling the that geometric rate of increase will continue unabated, expecially if you're only talking about the data since Oct 1.

That being said, you could be right, but I think that the price increases will drag out a bit more.

IMO, I think you may be jumping the gun a bit on fitting that to a geometric progression for future prices.

The folks from 1974 to 1984 might say they had a geometric progression of oil prices, yet, oil is not a 30,000 dollars a barrel in 2008. Go figure.

So what happens when Saudi Arabia and the world are at the same stages of depletion at which Texas and the Lower 48 started declining in the early Seventies?

From the Top Five article, linked up the thread:

That has to be the most dishonest chart ever posted on TOD. If you chop the data and change the scale, you can make any data set look like any other. It doesn't demonstrate your assertion either.

The fact you keep posting it doesn't say a lot for your integrity either, but I'll be generous and assume you are just incompetent.

Westexas has consistently shown himself more competent in his assessments than you, BobCousins, not to mention a lot more helpful to people.

Oh sure, Jeff was very helpful telling us all that Ghawar was about to go off a cliff. Still waiting for that one!

Jeff states his position with great flourish and authority, but he ain't God.

If memory serves, Stuart spent a great deal of time on North Ghawar. In any case, how do you know that the decline in annual production from 9.6 mbpd (C+C) in 2005 to 8.7 mbpd in 2007 was not primarily related to a falloff in production from North Ghawar?

In any case, you may recall that in March, 2007, I suggested that we would see a rebound in Saudi production, albeit to a level below the 2005 peak. My reasoning was simple: the decline from North Ghawar was so sudden that it caught the Saudis by surprise, and they had to really scramble to partially offset the decline, but the problem, as Matt Simmons pointed out, is that the bulk of their oil comes from a collection of old oil fields.

I am trying to remember a "Ghostbusters" type question to which I answered in the affirmative, i.e., "Are you a God?" Perhaps if you could point me to where I did claim to be a deity?


I had similar questions about how those axes are scaled as at first I suspected it didn't tell the whole story. Upon further investigation I was somewhat correct, as SA has actually been at a higher production level in the past, as compared to that peak. See: This graph from wikipedia.

However, that doesn't mean SA isn't experiencing its geologically imposed peak now (they very well may be), and upon closer inspection I realized that the axes are actually on consistant scales with eachother (the 5 year blocks are the same for SA and for Texas, and the production blocks are the same for SA and Texas).

Another bit of data that may shed more light on the situation would be to figure out what part of worldwide production SA represents, and compare that to the percentage of world (or lower 48) production that Texas represented at its peak.

So although I agree that westtexas hasn't really spelled out the whole story, I certainly don't think he was trying to obscure the facts or deceive anyone. He merely highlighted some data relative to his argument.

Every time that I respond to one of your drive by ad hominem attacks (which by the way, extends to Khebab, since he is the co-author of the original paper), you scurry off back under a rock somewhere. I assume that will be the case again, but here I go again.

As I have previously noted, and as the graph clearly shows, we are using different vertical scales, but the time scales are the same--just shifted to line 2005 up with 1972. And based on the HL models, Saudi Arabia, in 2005, was at about the same stage of depletion at which Texas peaked in 1972. The original graph was posted in early 2006, using Saudi production through 2005. All that has changed is that the 2006 and 2007 data points have been added.

The long term Texas decline rate has been about -4%/year. The initial two year annual Saudi decline rate through 2007, relative to 2005, is comparable, about -4.5%/year (both crude + condensate).

I concede that the graph is suggestive of a final peak, but not yet conclusive, but let me know when Saudi Arabia exceeds 9.6 mbpd (C+C) for a calendar year.

Texas and the Lower 48 as a Model for Saudi Arabia and the World (May, 2006)

Figure Five shows superimposed production graphs for Texas and the Saudi Arabia, with Texas production in 1972 lined up with Saudi Arabia production in 2005. Note the difference in the vertical scales.

Well, I am sorry I don't have more time to argue with you!

You admit you have deliberately adjusted the data to create a suggestive comparison, the question remains why you don't consider this misleading and a gross abuse of statistics.

I understand how it can be considered important to build a persuasive case and get a message across. But you reach a point where you are not building a case but digging a hole, at that point you need to step back or fall in the hole. If you don't have a conclusive case, don't speculate. Opponents will ignore the solid part and point out the holes in the speculation. Like Ghawar.

Certainly, if CERA pulled a stunt like this, we'd be all over it like flies on horseshit. And you can be sure that opponents of Peak Oil point at this sort of chart and say "see how they try to mislead you". At the end of the day, you don't help yourself and don't fool anyone with half a brain.

You admit you have deliberately adjusted the data to create a suggestive comparison, the question remains why you don't consider this misleading and a gross abuse of statistics.

There was nothing at all suggestive about our original work. We explicity made the point that the HL data indicated that Saudi Arabia, the current swing producer, in 2005 was at about the same stage of depletion at which the prior swing producer, Texas, peaked in 1972.

Perhaps if you had bothered to read the original article before launching the series of personal attacks on Khebab and me, we could have skipped this whole exchange.

I just like to thank you, West Texas, and Khebab for the sterling work you both do here.

Contrary to your critic, I find your posts both authoritative and informative, and it was largely your posts and those of Khebab and Moe that persuaded me that Peak Oil appeared to be much more imminent than I had previously thought likely.

Thanks. It wouldn't be so bad if Bob Cousins were making some kind of rational point, but he makes no sense. He seems to be implying that we just recently lined up the two production curves, when the original graph was done in early 2006, based on the HL models. And how could we have possibly been more accurate about the Texas/Saudi graph than in the following description?

Figure Five shows superimposed production graphs for Texas and the Saudi Arabia, with Texas production in 1972 lined up with Saudi Arabia production in 2005. Note the difference in the vertical scales.

Thanks for the great work WT. I don't see anything dishonest in making speculative guesses about Saudi production declines mirroring the Texas declines. From the information I've seen in the recent posts I would be surprised if S.A. ever again increases production.

When I saw the video of the Saudi Wells this morning it looked like what Simmons said about the Cantarell field. "If you take an old tube of toothpaste, poke holes in it and then stomp on it you can get probably some more toothpaste."

Keep posting!

You have to be one of the most disingenuous posters ever on TOD. Jeffrey contributes more to this discussion on a daily basis than you have in your entire time here.

The fact that you attack without even constructive criticism says boatloads about your integrity.

But I'll be generous and say, see you next Tuesday.

Volume of posts does not equal accuracy. I concede Westexas posts a lot. I don't know how he manages to nearly always get his name first on the Drumbeat. He must be waiting there, ready to pounce.

Btw, you are both a coward and a hypocrite, if you really wish to call me a c--t, that's hardly constructive is it?

Well, my last post "at the top" was Sunday, when I posted the following article about a couple of people successfully running a small organic farm on the edge of a large city. If it appears that I have something interesting to post, I post it. If not, I don't. I suspect that a lot people found the following article to be very interesting.

We left it all to become farmers
Getting back to the land has changed our lives, say Laurie Bostic and Kim Martin
Sunday, March 30, 2008

It's not disingenuous, nor is it wrong in its main point. It is merely a rudely stated version of Mr. Rapier's long-time argument that Jeffrey cherry picks his data. The graph shown is a perfect example of data cherry picking and it is only worth anything if it coincidentally proves to be prophetic (ie, it's worthless, but many many people confuse coincidentally correctness with real value).

I would not argue WT's posts are valueless, but he gets away with repetition and, frankly, spamming, that the less well liked opinions are regularly flogged for around here.

If you chop the data and change the scale, you can make any data set look like any other.

Only if they correlate.

You can take any random peak in one set and make it "correlate" with a random peak in another. Proves nothing, it's just numerology.

Back in the old days, TOD seemed to support proper analysis. But a lot of that seems to have taken a back seat "to getting the message across".

Actually, I wonder if the failure of the more catastrophic predictions to have transpired leads to a greater stridency of tone and intolerance of dissent. It would be typical of cognitive dissonance.

back in the old days we had no control over what people posted in the drumbeats or in the comments sections. Same holds true today.
And with exception of recent $10 selloff in oil, things are proceeding just about how the general TOD consensus (whose opinions I respect) outlined they would 2 years ago.

Regarding drumbeat, if someone wants to hit refresh a dozen times at 9 am to get a comment first on the page, its a (reasonably) free world.

back in the old days we had no control over what people posted in the drumbeats or in the comments sections. Same holds true today.

True, I just seem to recall there was more critical analysis, including from TOD staff. Apart from you and Leanan, no one else seems to show up now. I am not sure how to measure the consensus, the doomerish DBs seemed to have increasingly diverged from the feature articles.

Perhaps this is all just wistful thinking. Maybe I am jaded by the incessant claims of imminent catastrophe and overlooked the moderate consensus. Does Robert Rapier still post here? ;)

Regarding drumbeat, if someone wants to hit refresh a dozen times at 9 am to get a comment first on the page, its a (reasonably) free world.

Sure, it's a (mostly) free world. But what would such behaviour tell you about the psychology of the poster?

Maybe I am jaded by the incessant claims of imminent catastrophe and overlooked the moderate consensus.

Yeah, I've read some of the comments by people who keep warning of declining net oil exports and thus higher oil prices, more expensive food and severe financial problems in the auto, housing and finance sectors. Some people even went so far as to urge readers to dramatically adjust their lifestyles downward. What a bunch of nutcases.

It would have been a real pity if people had listened to this advice, sold their suburban McMansions and moved into small, energy efficient rented housing along a mass transit line, while investing in essential goods and services--especially food and energy production.

I mean who among us does not now wish that we had bought, in 2006, a $500,000 plus suburban home, with a nifty new H2 Hummer used to drive on a long commute and with 100% of our investments in financial stocks?

You can take any random peak in one set and make it "correlate" with a random peak in another. Proves nothing, it's just numerology.

Did you even read the original May, 2006 Texas/Lower 48 article?

We basically supported Deffyes' work on the world peak, and world C+C production is down, relative to 2005, at an annual rate of -0.3% per year, versus the initial Lower 48 decline of -0.8%/year.

We then noted that Saudi Arabia, in 2005, was at about the same stage of depletion at which Texas--the prior swing producer--peaked in 1972. The Texas and Saudi Arabia production curves were lined up on that basis. As noted above, Saudi Arabia has shown two years of annual production declines at the same stage of depletion at which the prior swing producer started declining. As noted above, I admit that while this is suggestive it is not conclusive. However, I fail to see how this is correlating random peaks.

As noted above, Saudi production, through 2007, has declined at an annual rate of about -4.5%/year, versus the long term Texas decline of about -4%/year.

In my opinion, you have had a 100% success rate in making completely nonsensical attacks.

It is a very thought-provoking graph and I never tire of seeing it. If Bob wants to prove you wrong why doesn't he just go over to Saudi Arabia and ask them to increase production? It seemed to work very well for Bush/Cheney :)

The truly strange thing is that Bob is accusing us of being dishonest, precisely because what we warned about--a near term decline in Saudi production--has, so far at least, come to pass.

If Saudi production had increased in 2006 and 2007, instead of declining, I wonder if our graph would still be the most dishonest thing ever posted on TOD.

BobCousins doesn't want to discuss that minor point though. He just wants to continue his drive-by character assassination attempts, to which he even admits here in this thread.

Those increases were in two big war-specific waves. Now our war on Iraq was on a land that sanctions prevented from big exports, and we'd be in trouble even if it hadn't happened. My question is, if we're so smart, why didn't we actually develop all the countless neat alternative energy and mitigation technologies that I read in Popular Science each month as a boy? Maybe if oil had kept going up we would have done those things in the 1980s to our current benefit, but Reagan/Bush had a "relationship" with both the Saudis and Iran. Or maybe we just pretend we're going to change and stall until we don't have to.

We could have done with a China or and India in the 1980's. They would have sucked up the surplus and oil prices would have stayed high. Then all the things would have happened. By now we be in a happier position.

I think Westexas is right over the next year or so.

Gasoline price increases have been smaller than crude oil price increases as refinery margins got squeezed. But this differential will have to end sooner or later. Refineries will squeeze costs and profits margins as much as they're able to and then gasoline prices will start rising at the same rate as oil prices.

That should put more pressure on demand, so it's possible the rate of oil price increase we've seen since October will slow down. We may return to the historic 1% drop in demand per 12% of oil price increase, rather than the 1% for 25% we've been seeing.

But I believe the production decline rate is increasing, so that plus the faster decline in exports will keep the oil price rising fast, even with faster demand destruction.

Hi Moe,

Remember that gas/petrol prices in the USA are incredibly low compared to European prices of up to USD 9/gallon. I am sure you are right that as the differential increases it will put more pressure on demand but i think the differential can only increase one time. It's just that I think that there is a very long way to go before demand significantly reduces.

Or, a spring/summertime increase in gas prices, and thus an increase in the crack spread, might simply clear the way for oil to increase more in price. I've been wondering if oil price is being held back by the winter-time softness in gas demand the Mr. Rapier talks about, and that if gas prices increase this summer to allow the refineries to operate at 90% utility, it might just make it possible for oil to break out of it's current trading range.

Of course, then gas prices have to increase even more, but that's just how things work, until a new trading range is established. Maybe up around $130/barrel.

As they say, either predict prices, or the time frame, but not both. Clearly, there are prices at which people either can't or won't pay. Let's assume a geometric progression in gasoline prices per gallon: $2, $4, $8, $16 . . .

At each doubling, the volume of refined product that consumers can and will buy declines, so refiners have to match increasingly expensive crude oil against the declining demand for higher priced refined product. This is why I expect to see declining refinery utilization in importing countries, leading to smaller and/or less efficient refineries shutting down.

However, as I have previously described, as forced energy conservation moves up the food chain, energy costs, as a percentage of income, decline, which will presumably require an even faster rate of increase in petroleum product prices, in order to balance declining supply against demand (think of Bill Sixpack versus Bill Gates).

A I have previously described, from 1970 to 1980 oil prices went up by about 1,000%, and US oil companies responded with the biggest drilling effort in US history, resulting in continued Texas and overall Lower 48 production declines. Today, Saudi Arabia and the world are at about the same stages of depletion at which Texas and the Lower 48 started declining in the early Seventies. But of course, as we have outlined many times, the real problem is declining net oil exports.

I dunno WT, I think the often quoted Kunstler phrase comes into play i.e.: we will until we can't, then we won't..."

I just don't see many gas stations supporting significant decreases in sales volume. They are already augmenting lousy margins by selling lotto tickets, soft drinks, sandwiches, beer and so on. How may gallons will they lose at $6/per? Or $8/per? Can they make those losses up with cheese doodles?

I think they will give up. Which means we will have a distribution problem.

It's basically the same story from refineries to gasoline stations and from auto makers to airlines. There is a price that people can't or won't pay, so refineries, gas stations, auto makers and airlines are going to progressively cut capacity as the number of people that can and will (directly and indirectly) pay higher petroleum product prices declines.

My argument for ELP was not based on saving energy for the good of the world; my argument was that you should adjust your lifestyle ASAP--in preparation for much higher food and energy prices.

I agree with you. The dunno comment was not directed at the robustness of the supply chain, it was directed at the geometric pricing progression. I just don't see fuel price getting into the stratosphere. I see maybe... $10/gal... and then I see lots of parked cars. I see lotsa little 250cc scooters in the short term.

But I don't see how that transition serves the retail fuel system or, as you point out, the refineries. We can certainly commute with scooters, (maybe even keep the malls going) but those scooters use a lot less gasoline. This is obviously good for the big picture. The economy doesn't collapse with $10 gas. But it means a lot of gasoline dependencies are going to get hammered... car manufacturing, insurance underwriting, gas stations...

What do you mean we don't collapse. Pretty much the heart of the remaining American economy is houses and cars and airplanes.
As these decline our economy declines. Making the assumption that the average American sees the McMansion/SUV in a exurb with a few acres and cute horsies as the peak lifestyle along with a vacation house and a trendy condo then we will see our lifestyles recede from peak lifestyle as depletion takes hold.

Lets consider it from a financial point of view since people are looking at this today. You have two cases when a person or company can have financial difficulties.
The can be illiquid or insolvent. Illiquid simply means they have assets but can't convert them to cash to match their cash flow requirements.
This mismatch happens and can be resolved. Or they can be insolvent which generally means they are also illiquid. Currently we are having financial problems because its a solvency issue not a liquidity issue.

Now consider peak Americana i.e McMansion/SUV the question is is the lifestyle illiquid or insolvent.
If its simply illiquid then you can adjust the lifestyle so that it can continue in a slightly changed manner this means downsizing on the house getting a smaller car etc. But for the most part business as usual and market forces can work to morph this lifestyle to one thats less energy intense. Considering the amount of waste in peak Americana the fact its facing a liquidity crises from peak oil is obvious.

But is this the real problem ?

I don't think so since we have plenty of information that points out that this lifestyle is dependent on continuous growth and is a ponzi scheme. Ponzi schemes regardless of scale eventually result in insolvency for most of the players. This is well documented. Thus if its a solvency issue downsizing does not solve the problem and collapse is certain. Most people that believe we will somehow morph our society without a lot of pain ignore the blaring problem of how do you change the rules of a ponzi scheme without collapsing it ? To some extent you can create new ponzi schemes that blow new bubbles but the nature of peak oil means that the support for large scale new ponzi schemes is lacking. Thus insolvency and bankruptcy is certain.

So in my opinion peak Americana is insolvent not just illiquid because its a ponzi scheme and no amount of technology and economic gimmicks will prevent it from bankruptcy in the near future ( 20 years ).
In fact pulling back and living frugally i.e buying a moped or fuel efficient car simply hastens the collapse because it reverses growth. You not driving out to the mega-mall on the edge of town your walking to the local store that will exist because of demand. This keeps money from being funneled up the pyramid thats been created to support Americana and it collapses. In this case the result is that a mega-mall chain store collapses and hundreds of middle managers and investors and low skilled cashiers are replaced with a small number of store owners that along with their family assume all of these roles. This mega-store fat if you will existed because the mega-store could charge less for its products and undercut the local store and still make a larger profit that supported hundreds of needless jobs.

As these jobs fail more people are forced to ride mopeds and look for work local etc viola the ponzi scheme collapses. Thus you cannot save Americana via conservation this simply hastens collapse. Americana is insolvent not illiquid in the face of peak oil since wasteful growth is a critical part of the ponzi scheme and cannot be removed.

... you cannot save Americana via conservation this simply hastens collapse.

I think a lot of us have wondered what that 96% of the population
who're not producing food are going to do. There's certainly a lot of B.S. employment reselling of Chinese goods going on. You'll get no argument from me on that.

On the other hand, it's not clear that the foundation of our economy must founder because gasoline goes up and cars go away. As long as folks can scooter from A to B, they can still shop (and work!). Wal-Mart doesn't care if I arrive in an F150 or a scooter. And they might very well make the case that if I arrive on a scooter... I have more money as I'm not spending big $$$ on gas, insurance, auto finance, etc...

I think this gets us back to Cheronkov's relentless argument about cars. Cars are not surgically implanted into our hearts and minds. Only psychologically. We equate them with life and death, economic success and collapse, but we lived without cars seven decades ago and we lived as mostly one car families (gasp!!!) until the mid-60's.

I submit that we'll be better off without the car burden. Imagine if trillion dollars that's currently sinking down a black hole: car insurance, car financing, fuel, road maintenance, traffic management and so on could be re-purposed to something remotely intelligent. Imagine if the public treasury wasn't pouring endless tons of concrete.

We could spend the money on schools, on health care, on your favorite what-cha-ma-call-it. Our "inconvenience" could tranlate into a lot of solid social investment.

"And they might very well make the case that if I arrive on a scooter... I have more money as I'm not spending big $$$ on gas, insurance, auto finance, etc..."

they might even try to sell you a scooter...

It's not too hard to imagine. Not having a car payment took a massive load off of me a few years ago, and removing all but liability insurance from my vehicles cut it down another notch. I currently have too many vehicles that are insured, so I will probably eliminate one, but I'm waiting for one of my vehicles to bite the dust to do the job for me. :)

What your suggesting is not keeping the economic engine churning at full tilt. Next I'm sure with your attitude that your likely to save the money that your not spending on consumption. I seriously doubt your going to make the effort to be conservative then spend every extra penny on stupid stuff you don't need.
You probably don't even run up excessive credit card debt at high interest.

Investing in schools and social well being does not help the quarterly profit of mega-corp for example.

I'm not suggesting that what your saying is not good in the long term but it won't help our economy.
We need people to spend like crazy and if oil is eating to much of their budget then they need to use less oil and spend like crazy. The problem is that in general conservation and insane consumer spending habits tend to to go together. Thus adopting a conservationist attitude simply slows our economy down.

I'm not saying by any means its not the right thing to do I'm simply saying that it does not help sustain our current economic model. And I stress since its a ponzi scheme actions that weaken the model will cause it to collapse. Conservation, defaulting on debt, asset deprecation without buying new replacements etc all cause the pyramid scheme to weaken and collapse.

This is why I'm pointing out that our current economic system is insolvent not illiquid. If it was simply illiquid but soundly based then conservation, responsible credit usage etc etc would help turn it around.

70% of the US economy is consumer spending. I'm sure that at least 20% more of it is directly tied to retail commercial real estate supporting the consumer. Less than 10% of our economy and even less on a per employee basis is related to the production of basic needed goods and services. This style of economy cannot handle a pull back in consumer spending since it leads to a collapse of the pyramid scheme.

Its based on endless expansion of the consumption side of the economy with the production side shrinking.
Its based on the assumption that most people are both greedy and complete idiots and that somehow we will always be able to blow another financial bubble as the mini ponzi schemes collapse. Think of our economy like a vast casino that no one can leave everyone in the building is a greedy gambler but they don't realize that the casino itself is the real winner. Thus money funnels up to the top only as long as everyone gambles. The fact that some of the gamblers in the building briefly have larger winnings is irrelevant since they are caught in the building however it helps prod the others to gamble harder.

Few every leave the building. So you can see that given this your wrong. If you don't spend a lot of money on a car, insurance etc etc this means 4-5 people lose there jobs. With your attitude your going to save money so your not spending as much money. The other gamblers even if they want to gamble don't have access to funds since they lost their jobs so they are forced to adopt a conservative lifestyle leading to more job losses etc etc.

Think about how few people you know actually produce something of value. For me its like 1 in 10 have what I would consider "real" jobs. Even my own job is iffy. Not that I don't produced I'm a software programmer simply its not clear that we need either the type of software I produce or the number of people producing software. So bottom line is once people start being conservative either because they are intelligent or forced our current economy will unravel rapidly.

Its not a paradox that doing the right thing is harmful to the US economy.

"you cannot save Americana via conservation"

i doubt americana can be saved by conservation. i know fer sur that americana can't consume its way to prosperity. ...............we're doomed, we're freakin doomed !

"I think they will give up. Which means we will have a distribution problem."

they'll swtich to filling up plug-ins and electric cars.


Comic relief at it's Best !

Alan :-)

Except that the electric car is destined to mainly be a short-haul transport solution only. Electric cars are quite feasible for travel within a radius of 20-40 miles or so. The battery cost for a greater radius than that is just going to be too high for most people, and that isn't even addressing the resource availability issues. Those few people who can afford the larger battery packs will be too few in number to support a network of recharging centers. The vast majority of electric vehicles will be for local travel only, recharged daily at home and/or work.

Not only can and will new purpose-built electric cars be manufactured in quantity, a great many compacts and subcompacts can and will be convered to electric. (In fact, there may end up being far more conversions than there will ever be new purpose-built EVs made, as it is questionable whether the big automakers will have sense enough to convert over to EV production before they just go out of business altogether.) So there will indeed be a fleet of electric cars driving on the streets - but not very far out of town on the highways.

As long as electrics are basically converted conventional cars, I think that 20-40 mile limitation is correct. You have to entirely design the car around the limitations of the battery to get over 100 miles in range, and the major car companies have committed billions to building cars a certain way. The X-Prize contestants have many good ideas between them to improve range, but it would take a combination of the best ideas and a vast amount of money to build a factory capable of producing hundreds of thousands of such cars; China and India may be the only places on earth where the time is right for that to happen. The 1000-pound German Loremo, for instance, is built out of ordinary steel and plastic, and should be within China's technological capabilities. The Chevy Volt appears to lack the needed breakthroughs in weight and aerodynamics, making up for it with a really big battery.

Actually, vehicles like the GEM are being mass manufactured right now. It might very well be that the GEM is pretty close to being about as good as it is going to get. Longer range or more amenities in the cabin (which end up increasing weight) are possible, but drive up the cost hugely. The cost can come down a little bit on NEVs like the GEM, especially if mass production could scale up some more. However, the demand isn't there yet, and by the time the demand is there, it may no longer be possible to scale up production all that much. It is questionable whether big car companies can transition their production to NEVs; they might find that it makes more sense to just cut their losses and shut down rather than to keep piling the losses up. Tata could undoubtedly make something like the GEM for under $5K, but more imports is just what we don't need.

Alright, I have to try this one, but I'll deserve a flogging from the poison pen of Cherenkov for sure this time!

Why don't we make all our roads into big Slot-Car tracks, so the Cars and Trucks just carry a nominal, lightweight battery-pack to jump between lines, or get from parking into one of the tracks? (That would make the vehicle light enough to be somewhat pedalable, too, in a pinch.. to get on or off the roadway..) At that point, the embedded powerlines would have a data subcarrier, and you'd get billed for your consumption.. AND, the government would always know, down to the meter, exactly where each of us is!!

The slot would be nothing.. about the width of a kid's bike-tire or something. We'd probably have to outlaw High-heels and Pogo Sticks, of course, but really, I don't see a downside!


Washington DC had these for their streetcars in the "no wire" areas around the Mall, Capitol, etc. A hassle, but they worked (generally).

General consensus is that, like the 3rd rail in neighborhoods of Long Island, you could never build a new one.

In France, they have only that only electrifies an 8 or 10 m section at a time, when a tram covers the full length. Problematic at first, works semi-OK today.

France can afford such experimentation, the USA cannot IMHO.

Best Hopes for Overhead Trolley Wire,


Hey, you're not Cherenkov..

Yes, as I was walking home, I thought you'd probably be the one who got me on that one. I'm petitioning our City Leadership to think about trolleys and elec buses as usual.. It's funny (in a sad sort of way..) that as our Streets crumble again this winter with repeated refreezings and the everpresent Heating Oil Trucks, that you can see the cobblestones and old trolley-tracks peeking through. Visions of an old future.

..of course, I did see a Delorean in a Movie once that was configured to snag a trolley-line for it's free ride. I thought the punky kid who stole his rides with the skateboard might've had a better EROEI, though.

Best Hopes for my own 'Flux Capacitor' and a MisterFusion!

'Where we're going, we won't HAVE roads.. so we better find something else!'

It might make sense in a command economy, because then you could mandate that everyone switch over to the new system, and you would have sufficient economies of scale to justify the initial cost. Of course, command economies don't bother much with individual mobility in the first place, they simply provide mass transportation as the ONLY option (other than bicycles and feet).

The problem with all of these great big ideas is that we don't have a command economy. (Which is good, because if we did it would undoubtedly be commanding the wrong things anyway.) Whatever happens will happen, piecemeal, incrementally, and on the margins. Any plan that doesn't account for that reality and work within those assumptions is pretty much a non-starter.


Better still use inductive pickups and supercaps, you would only need 'charge points' every 500 metres or so (certainly less infrastructure that gas stations). God made the world in 7 days because he had no installed base. Whenever you have a solution that requires vision from planners, manufacturers, users you might as well give up (no matter how good the solution is), change is evolutionary and it seems that pain is required (I can hear Nietzsche chuckling). I do enjoy the angst of the US citizens about societal collapse caused by oil shortages, so you won't be able to drive from the suburbs, so what, other solutions will be found, families will 'bunk up', its not like your 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom houses are too small, food will be an issue, so less MacDonalds, no world trip this year. In the 1930 depression gangs of "relief workers" camped and planted the kaingaroa forest in the central North Island, its one of the worlds largest plantation forests, Not a pleasent existence but not blood in the streets either.

The rest of the world (ie 95% of the planets population) live a life at far less prosperity/consumption than North Americans do, so now the globalization bird has come home to roost there will be the "Great Redistribution"

Neven MacEwan B.E. E&E (NZ)

Hi Neven;

Yah, the post was meant to be 'mildly non-serious', while I do want to keep considering the advantages that electric rail gains by not having to carry storage batteries, and is able to apply the great strength of electric motors right to the task of moving payload (and big heavy train hardware) ..

I've toyed with a number of visions for how this could be applied to Farming, where you power combines (electric) from a 'power leash' that maybe runs off of elecric cables or rails set up alongside the fields, which have been reoriented to be more long and slim.. or a rotational feeder that duplicates the circular irrigation rigs, and lets the same hardware function for both purposes, power and water.


I also thought it would just be fun to drive my car with that little plastic Slot-Car Handle, like in the old days!


(How do those 500m inductive blasts do with Pacemakers? Could they be used to keep those batteries charged, too?)


Your combine idea is not that crazy, I thought the same thing, a "Reel Truck" with a couple of K of cable, Pretty much up and back, actually the whole farm machinery thing is interesting, they require quite a bit of power but relatively small ranges, my suggestion would be Zebra batteries.

Re the inductive pickup, no risk, the pickup would "fly" (5-10 mm) over the inground sender, exchange data then a 10 second wham, no risk of shock or stray fields


Yeah, right. Deregulation and the "shareholder value" vultures compelled the electical utilities to reduce their grid maintenance to the bare minimum. The last thing our creaky grid needs is a big new electical demand; my local utility (FPL) spends a lot of money encouraging people in South Florida to use LESS electicity.

Errol in Miami

What will make sense is for employers to set up PV-powered metered recharging stations in their parking lots. That way employees can recharge their EV batteries during the day while they are at work and the sun is out, assuring that they have enough charge to make it home. This also has the appeal of changing parking lots from cost centers into profit centers, which must certainly look attractive to any employer.

If this happens (and it would be stupid not to), then EVs would add very little load to the grid, and instead would become a driving force for the deployment of solar power.

they'll swtich to filling up plug-ins and electric cars.

Explain why, and more importantly ... how.

The people who can afford to buy a plug-in and throw their ICE vehicle away are the same people who can afford $8 gas, ie. the same people who don't need to buy a plug-in - the one thing they won't be able to do is recharge their batteries at a 'gas' station in a minute or so at the same time as several other cars are doing the same.

A typical petrol pump supples energy at a rate of around 34 million watts. This is a huge amount of energy, a typical coal-fired power station might only supply at a rate of 2000MW - this is the equivalent of roughly 60 petrol pumps!

"The people who can afford to buy a plug-in and throw their ICE vehicle away are the same people who can afford $8 gas, ie. the same people who don't need to buy a plug-in - the one thing they won't be able to do is recharge their batteries at a 'gas' station in a minute or so at the same time as several other cars are doing the same."

I'm talking about the time when everyone can afford a phev or an ev. i don't think we're too far away.

The number of people that can afford to buy, and pay for, a new ICE car is dropping daily. The severe recession we are entering will be made worse by declining oil availability.

"An EV in every garage", not going to happen in the next couple of decades.


Hello AlanfromBigEasy,

Agreed. If anything they need to work on truck-PHEVs, not personal PHEVs. They will be essential for bulk movement from the endpoints of your RR & TOD ideas. Failing the development of truck-PHEVs, then maybe my minitrains idea quickly bolted to sidewalks plus human-scale containerization [as posted much earlier]. If even that is a no-go: then I still hold hope for Strategic Reserves of bicycles & wheelbarrows, peloton free-riding, plus SpiderWebRiding emanating from your transit endpoints as the 'ribs' to your RR + TOD 'spine and limbs' [with maybe some very small upslope-PHEVs to easy the uphill grade]:

Wheelbarrows & SpiderWebRiding for our future?
A brief LATOC discussion thread useful for newbies or those wanting to review featuring TopTODer Heading Out's keypost of Nahuatl Tlamemes.

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

The number of people that can afford to buy, and pay for, a new ICE car is dropping daily. The severe recession we are entering will be made worse by declining oil availability.

but the number of people who can afford a car will not fall forever and the plug-ins and electric vehicles will reach the market faster because of declining oil availability. a smart business man might want to attract the few wealthy consumers left and those consumers will probably need some electricity for their cars.

I didn't mention anything about an EV in every garage.

From just up above:

I'm talking about the time when everyone can afford a phev or an ev. i don't think we're too far away.

And from here:

I didn't mention anything about an EV in every garage.


I'm having trouble following this line of reasoning, as perhaps it's gone a bit pear-shaped. Can you sort it out?


I do think it would be feasible to convert all of the compacts and subcompacts presently on the road (and maybe even a few in the junkyards) to EVs. Even a mid-sized car might be worth doing if one only needs it for a commute of a few miles each day plus weekend shopping. I am increasingly convinced that it is going to be such conversions rather than historic rates of fleet turnover that will quickly change much of the US automobile fleet over to electric. (SUVs and vans, if they keep running at all, will be ride-share cars, as it will be impossibly expensive to run them with less than a full complement of cost-sharing passengers.)

It is feasible, but probably beyond the abilities of 99% of the population to do the conversion themselves. There is a good opportunity out there for people that are mechanically minded.

Of course, such EVs will be limited to maximum ranges of no more than 20-25 miles, and maybe even a lot less. There will be people that only need a 5-10 mile range, and will only buy enough batteries for that in order to keep the total cost of the conversion as low as possible.

Many of the people that go for conversions first will be multiple-car households. They'll keep one ICE vehicle for longer trips, and use the conversion EV for the short hops. The other catagory of people that will go for conversions early will be lower-income workers with just one car and not too long a commute. Eventually, only the wealthy will be able to afford to drive ICE cars; everyone else will be driving an EV if they are driving anything at all, because that is all they will be able to afford. People who continue to have middle-class jobs will form the market for purpose-built new NEVs; as these are built and sold, the older EV conversions will become available for lower-class people at affordable prices.

Of course, if lots of people are just driving these short range EVs, then they will need alternative transport for their longer-range trips. That's where you come in, Alan!

I have only seen one "project" EV made from an ICE.

Given the extra weight and changes required, I think buying a new e-Trike (canopy optional) would cost less and be more useful.

But that is just an engineering guesstimate.

Either one may well work :-)

Best Hopes for Adapting,


A couple in the wings that I follow.



Both are in the X-Prize competition.



Yes. I think it's already happening. There have been several articles recently about the lack of gas stations in the UK. And there's the article today about how hard it is for US gas stations to stay in business. Independents and gas stations in rural areas are especially hurting.

A few recent events in SouthEast Florida.

TAMARAC - City commissioners have approved a contract to spend more than $2.6 million to buy a gas station — a key parcel the city wants to turn into a park.

and soon maybe more to be available

Forty-three percent of underground fuel storage tanks in South Florida are out of compliance with a state law requiring gas stations and other owners to upgrade their facilities, a South Florida Sun-Sentinel analysis found.

The law approved by the Legislature 18 years ago requires a double-walled system for underground storage tanks by 2009, an upgrade that helps prevent leaks that could contaminate soil and groundwater

Community farms anyone?


There was an urban legend running around NYC 10 years back that said there were so many leaky gas-station storage tanks on Long Island that some people were finding a layer of gas sitting on the watertable when they dug into their back yards!

So in the midwest, you'd have a little "John Deere Windmill" yard decoration, and in Suffolk County, you could set up a pretty little pine Pumpjack and keep your car filled up for the effort!


Yes, the fresh water supply in South Florida is imperiled due to our complete dependence on shallow groundwater, compounded by saltwater intrusion due to overdraining of the Everglades.

Still, I am shocked that 43% of underground tanks are out of compliance considering I've seen many gas stations in my neighborhood dug up for retrofit or closed over the years. I guess next year I will see all of the gas-and-service places in my area shut in their pumps!

There was a large wave of gas station closings back when that underground storage tank law went into effect (I guess it was about 18 years ago or so). It was cheaper for some stations to just close up than to do what it took to come into compliance. One can still see lots of what obviously were once gas stations, now standing empty or reconfigured into some other business.

There will probably be another wave of closures coming up as auto fuel supplies become unreliable and stations are left for weeks at a time with empty tanks, while the number of customers that can afford to refill inexorably declines.

In Daytona Beach and Ormond Beach just about every gas station was converted to a t-shirt/souvenir shop. One ex-gas station converted to a Baskin Robbins and they are still there. Another tried to make it as a hot dog stand, it is gone.

There are few gas stations left on beachside, but more and larger stations were built near I 95. I have seen only one of those shuttered.

Trust me, there is absolutely no lack of petrol stations in the UK, the country is infested with them.

The reason independents have been closing is that the majors and supermarkets are out pricing them - because they handle bigger volume. Supermarkets are doing to gas stations what they have done to other small retailers. The larger outlets put in convenience stores to the gas stations, which also takes custom away from the small guys.

This is really just a story of big business squishing the small business, regardless of anything else.

In other words, don't just plan on making do with LESS FF energy -- plan on that just being a way station to the day when you will be priced out of FF altogether.

If I remember correctly, Deffeyes in one of his books predicts a chaotic price evolution rather than a (geometric or whatever) monotonic price increase once the production capacity cannot be increased any longer with rising demand. He bases this assessment on the history of North American NG prices ...

India, among others is feeling the effects of real world competition.

I believe that crude + condensate did peak in 2005...the bumpy plateau is only a plateau for "all liquids."

Reminded of Khebab's price chart on beluga caviar. Two jaws of the vise are as you say the dollar and PO. Currently the nuts du jour are the US trucking and airline industries with implications for the whole US economy. Any 'high volume to product' user going forward is doomed to collapse w/o extraordinary life support. Happy are those who don't need much to function.

This price estimating is made up of so many complexities. Could you break down for us a bit your reasoning behind the geometric increase idea?

See my comments up the thread, but basically it's the combination of an accelerating net export decline rate and the probable requirement for an accelerating product price increase, in order to balance declining supply against demand.

Let me put it this way: What product price would force Bill Gates to reduce his energy consumption, versus the product price that would force Bill Sixpack--making $30,000 or so per year--to reduce his energy consumption?

In 2006, the median annual household income according to the US Census Bureau was determined to be $48,201.00

Can't see around your logic either. In terms of gallons per week of purchasing power most of us are becoming Joe Sixpack pretty quickly. ELP or bust.

Oh and welcome back Leanan!

The median annual household income statistic always gets my wife( who is an engineer like me) fired up. She is incredulous that 1/2 of the households in the USA earn less than $48K a year. Most of those households are two income households too. About $50K a year is a typical annual household income. They obviously don't live here in Boulder CO where home prices are so high and there are so many expensive cars rushing around.

The other oft quoted statistic is that almost all Americans consider themselves to be "middle class". Well if your combined household income is greater than $50k you are not middle class you are "upper class". The lower one half of the US incomes will definitely feel the increasing price of energy. I'll bet that the vast majority of TOD readers are in that wealthy upper class. We are the lucky ones who can invest in new energy efficient vehicles and home improvements. The lower half are like the truckers pictured up at the top. Soctietal dissonance will increase...

This short example from Wiki shows the point nicely:

Suppose 19 paupers and 1 billionaire are in a room. Everyone removes all the money from their pockets and puts it on a table. Each pauper puts $5 on the table; the billionaire puts $1 billion (i.e. $109) there. The total is then $1,000,000,095. If that money is divided equally among the 20 people, each gets $50,000,004.75. That amount is the mean amount of money that the 20 people brought into the room. But the median amount is $5, since one may divide the group into two groups of 10 people each, and say that everyone in the first group brought in no more than $5, and each person in the second group brought in no less than $5. In a sense, the median is the amount that the typical person brought in. By contrast, the mean is not at all typical, since nobody in the room brought in an amount approximating $50,000,004.75.

I had an energy audit on my house this morning, quite interesting. I have done much air sealing and insulating in the last couple of years but the blower door and infrared camera reminded me of places I forgot about or just overlooked. From a health and safety standpoint, the house is in good condition but I have some return duct leakage that if sealed will increase HVAC efficiency. I would recommend a comprehensive energy audit by a skilled auditor who will provide a checklist for increasing home efficiency, the auditors have equipment to recognize building envelope deficiencies. The sensitivity of the equipment used, especially the infrared camera is quite amazing and must be seen in action to fully appreciate the capabilities.

btu, IIRC your are in the Great Lakes area, correct ?

Was this a utility or private
contractor performing the service ?

Whose standards do they reference in their work ?

I'm tracking developing progress in this field as potential employment leads.

For example, a small utility (Beatrice NE), who is merely a reseller is developing a brand new 'home energy auditor' position.


I am in Minneapolis and the energy auditor is a good friend and a private contractor and had with him a trainee who will be helping with future audits. I would say RESNET would be the performance standard referenced but our local group (Minnesota Building Performance Association) is working towards our own building performance checklist. By the way, most energy auditors in the Twin Cities have been super busy as of late, a result of higher energy prices I would say.

Most utility audits are not very comprehensive due to cost constraints, #1 on the audit list would be worst case depressurization, making sure the gas appliances never backdraft.


I had suspected utility audits would be less thorough.

Is there anyone tracking these
customers follow-through to act on the data they receive ?

Any way to learn more of the training aspect ?

I'm pretty good at Google ;)

I suppose the utilities track somehow the audits and recommendations but the output will only be as good as what went into the audit. I would say a mentoring program with an experienced auditor would be the best bet for learning fast the tricks of the trade, many of these folks have tested thousands of homes, you can't buy experience.

ELP at it's best. If I am able to earn X dollars an hour, what multiple of my hourly income could I 'make' just sealing up the thermal losses in my home. (provided with the audit) As for most of us unless we are Donald Trump (or my dentist)I would bet it'd be no contest.

Also I like the ELP of cycling. Provided I don't get scmucked by a car, increased quality of life and fatter wallet. Most cases both activities save bringing in energy from a long ways off and will look good when shortage comes.

It helps to remember that it is not a bell curve, the curve is skewed with a long tail to the right. Obviously there is only $50K of "space" between the median and zero, but there are billions of dollars on the other side of the median. The vast bulk of the population is going to fall between $0 and $100K, with a very small percentage above that. I would argue that $100K+ is a better place to start talking about households being "upper class".

RE: Iraq's Sadr Orders Followers Off Street...

Welcome back Leanan, we missed you!

Shrubco let Iraq's leader Malaki venture out on a limb which was subsequently cut off behind him, leaving Malaki in the embarassing position of having to ask Sadr to help negotiate a cease fire. Sadr's troops are reluctant, understandably, to stop shooting while still under attack...Once more we see who controls the only N/S road out of Iraq...

Iran to the rescue:

'The entire episode underlines how powerful Iran has become in Iraq. The Iranian government had called on Saturday for the fighting to stop. And by Sunday evening it had negotiated at least a similar call from Sadr (whether the fighting actually stops remains to be seen and depends on local commanders and on whether al-Maliki meets Sadr's conditions).'...snip...

'The NYT notes the irony here that the al-Maliki government is dependent on Muqtada al-Sadr to pull its fat from the fire:

'Many Iraqi politicians say that Mr. Maliki’s political capital has been severely depleted by the campaign and that he is now in the curious position of having to turn to Mr. Sadr, a longtime rival and now his opponent in battle, for a solution to the crisis.'


The original candidate for "president" of Iraq -- to be installed by the U.S. Occupation -- was Ahmed Chalabi, an Iranian agent. You can't tell me that the Administration didn't know that, so quite obviously there is a deep connection here that no one is looking at. Iran is a big, complicated place. There is a strong Iranian ex-patriot group in the USA, and the "heir" to the "throne" of "Persia" is waiting in the wings http://www.rezapahlavi.org/

Reza Pahlavi: Leadership for Democracy in Iran

The Washington Post
Sunday, March 30th, 2008
For almost three decades, Reza Pahlavi has been a strong voice for freedom and democracy the world over. Now, with the support of freedom seekers around the world, he is ready to lead an international effort for a new era in his native country.

I don't think I'm being conspiratorial or paranoid -- this is just a different world view, of people who happen to have a lot of power behind them.

If Reza Pahlavi were to show up in Iran today, while the Mullahs are still in charge, he would be hanged from the nearest lamp post by the first Iranians that recognized him. The 'new era' that would arise in Iran under Reza would be little different from the reign of terror under the ousted shaw, who was installed when democratically elected Mossedegh was overthrown by the CIA in 1953.

Of course the intent of the US is to once again have a puppet on the throne in Iran. Accomplishing that goal is another matter and the clowns currently running the US cannot pull it off.

I have yet to see anything other than destruction, death, outrageous spending, and cronyisim from the current misadministration. They are the most enept bunch ever to reach power in the US.

Thank goodness they are inept! Can you imagine how terrible it would be if they really were good at doing what they scheme to do?

It really seems to have become a proxy war between the US and Iran, with US backed forces (Maliki) trying to oust Iranian backed forces (Al Sadr), and we can see that it's largely a stalemate. Like it or not, this situation will likely continue, with these temporary flare ups for the time being until some external force causes it to destabalize entirely, or (the much more unlikely scenario) some concessions lead to a long term resolution of the conflict.

Actually, that's not quite right. The al-Maliki government is strongly backed by Iran. The major pro-Iranian group, the "Badr Corps" makes up the bulk of the "Iraqi Army". Al-Sistani, one of the leading clerical supporters of the government, is himself an Iranian.

Sadr is a nationalist. He wants an independent Iraq, not beholden to Iran, and he wants the US out of Iraq. The pro-Iranian Shiites that make up the government want the US to stay in Iraq (for now), because the US is helping them with the business of consolidating power.

Iran is likely intervening in the civil war between the two Shiite factions, because (a) the faction they back most strongly (al-Maliki government) was losing, and (b) they don't want the Shiites to wear themselves out fighting each other, when there are Sunnis & Americans left to fight.

So, yes, your trillions of dollars are going to help a pro-Iranian faction finish the ethnic cleansing of half of Iraq. And, at the same time, the US is arming the Sunnis and the Kurds, as well as the Shiites. The only thing I can say is there's a lot of money to be made if you can sell weapons to all sides in a civil war.

The most stubborn lie in US foreign policy, replacing Saddam's weapons of mass destruction and his love of al-Qaeda, is that the Supreme Council for the Islalmic Revolution in Iraq and the Dawa Party are not long-standing allies of Iran. Dawa exiles in Lebanon (like Maliki's predecessor Jaffari) were probably involved in creating Hezbollah there. What angers me is that article after article has shown these ties exist, yet Bush lovers never reply. Even Ahmadinejad's visit as Maliki's guest didn't shake Americans from their delusion.

Now as for the real hearts of Dawa and SCIRI's leaders, I suspect they're playing Yojimbo, taking bribes from Iran to back it in a future conflict, and taking bribes from the US to back it. This would explain a lot. Why the Bush Administration tolerates this is still unexplained. Does it have some uber-bribe, some ace in the hole that will make SCIRI's ruling family betray Tehran in the crunch? Or is it entranced by the one fact of SCIRI that hardly is ever mentioned - it's a pro-business party, an enemy of the poor majority of Iraqi Shias. The sick joke here? So is the rulership of Iran! The clerics of Iran are now part of the business class, and their oil company will bid against the American oil companies if Iraq's oil law ever gets passed. That's when I guess we'll find out the truth about who was loyal to whom, if it ever happens.

My take on the recent violence in Iraq.

Basically, Sadr demonstrated that he can throw the country into chaos, and now he is demonstrating that only he can stop that violence. This makes Maliki beholden to him, which will allow Sadr to pursue his real object: build a single, "super federation" of Shi'a provinces in the South of Iraq so that he and the Shi'a can effectively control southern Iraq's oil just as the Kurds now control oil in most of northern Iraq (and with his Mahdi Army soon to be legitimized as that federation's defense force, much as the Peshmerga is in the Kurdish north). Oddly, this may actually be a good thing for Iraqi oil production in the mid term... until the Sunni groups (whose compliance we've been buying recently with weapons and cash) realize that the end result is they're cut out completely and begin a re-invigorated sectarian war--now expressly targeting oil exports even more than in the past.

The first thing he wants is the Americans out.

The problem with that is that the super-federation is SCIRI's sworn goal, and SCIRI is Sadr's biggest energy. Sadr is demanding a strong government in Bagdad because his poor followers are mostly there, far from the oil fields. He doesn't want the oil revenues staying in the south, he wants socialistic redistribution. SCIRI's strategy, on the other hand, is as plain as a map: create a SCIRI fiefdom that closely hugs Basra, the oil fields and sponsor Iran, while leaving Bagdad to the tender mercies of vengeful Sunnis. The problem is that it is now widely suspected that Sadr would win too many seats in local elections in the South next October (as usual synchronized by Bush to produce good news for John McCain). So having Sadr cut down was in the interest of both the US and Iran.

I happened to think Sadr was foolish to believe the elections would go forward without some sort of betrayal; he seems confident that his counter-infiltration of SCIRI-infiltrated police and army units will keep the knife out of his back. It was important for him to prove his growing strength outside of Bagdad, which I suspect Maliki would indeed like to abandon to the Sunni groups who surround it. Sadr has built support among all the poorest Shia, and that's the only growth industry in Iraq. He is now said to be popular with the Marsh Arabs who once lived in the swamps of the Tigris-Euphrates valley, along the roads that control traffic (and US supplies) from Basra to Bagdad. His last challenge was the popularity of the Fadhila Party in Basra, a splinter from his father's old movement that resists his leadership. If Maliki's troops only control a quarter of Basra, as I've heard, then Fadhila must have decided to either stay neutral or back Sadr. We all know how important Basra is.

I don't think it's quite as black and white as SCIRI v. Sadr, though I think that does capture the importance of the al-Sharistani faction's acceptance (desire?) for joining the Iranian sphere of influence, vs. Sadr's more secular affiliation in general without regard for existing "nation"-state boundaries. Sadr doesn't want a strong central government in any way--he wants a strong Shi'a government, and destroying the notion of a viable and multi-secular central government that will balance the needs of Sunnis, Kurds, and Shi'a is central to that. His interest is not in any kind of redistribution of oil wealth based on socialism (which implies some sort of need or class metric) but rather on a sect basis and that first requires destroying the validity of the central government and gaining control of those revenues in some kind of southern alternative. This won't in any way keep his Shi'a supporters in Baghdad from getting these revenues--Sadr's first priority to make that happen, though, must be establishing a system whereby the revenues are controlled by Shi'a and distributed to the Shi'a via his power structure. The current Iraqi constitutional structure was carefully crafted (with much US "help") to ensure that this can't happen under the current central government, so the viability and functionality of that government must be eliminated. That's what his Southern uprising, and then his quick end to that uprising (on his terms, not, despite some headlines, on Maliki's) is all about...

It looks like all this was designed to leave Sadr and his men still alive and standing, an honorable defeat. (?)

But with the US supporting and funding, or putting into positions of power, serially it is true, first the Shiites, then the Sunnis, then the local neighborhood watch, mostly Sunnis, and managing the Kurds, it is all much desperate complication, etc. Some call it the Salvadorian option. Others call it hopelessness and obfuscation. Saddam, btw, did exactly the same, but knowing the terrain he was smarter and more consistent.

What we see here is a fight between different factions in Iraq, for power and control (Iran does play a role) directly encouraged and supported by the US. Lacking control themselves, the best the US can do is hand out arms and funds to the different factions hoping they will decimate each other, while making mealy-mouthed speeches about Iraqi responsibility, independence, government, reconstruction, etc.

Of course the US has made Iran into a regional power.

Noizette, if you read the links you will find that Sadr's Mahdi Army is far from defeated. It is Malaki that is calling for a truce. How do you figure Sadr suffered an 'honorable defeat'?

And...the US never 'put Sadr in power'...He managed to accomplish that on his own.

Maybe "honorable defeat" is the line we will be sold by the American middlebrow media (the TV goons will say he was crushed). I think that happened after Sadr accepted Sistani's bargain in summer 2004 to abandon his attack on Najaf. Problem is, the US media fails to explain why he keeps getting stronger after each military defeat, in a country where no one else, and I mean no one, is politically organizing the poor.

yes I meant it designed to appear as

It may more truly be said that the US has given arms to everybody BUT Sadr, because he represents what it fears even more than a pro-Iranian bourgeoise party like SCIRI: poor Arabs who want to socialize oil revenue. The US has tried everything to prevent a political system from forming based on that very popular doctrine and the expulsion of our troops, which means we have to wreck the place every 6 months and start over by arming a new faction.

"The day the US declared war on Iran"


"North Korea was a test-run for the United States' new strategy of "shock and awe" financial sanctions against Iran. On March 20, Washington initiated two acts of war: one against Iran's banks and one against any financial institution anywhere in the world that tries to do business with an Iranian bank. The next step is to designate Iran's central bank as a financial criminal; the impact of this will be the financial equivalent to the first bombs falling on Baghdad in 2003"

Good catch Souperman2. I read this earlier and was going to link it. I thought this bit of interest...The US is using section 311 of the Patriot Act to brow beat foreign bankers into ceasing biz transactions with Iran, which has led to complaints from foreign governments that the US is breaking world court laws by extending internal US regulations to all financial institutions worldwide.

Secretary of Treasury Paulson when speaking to groups of government bankers and economists abroad has said:

'Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) is a "paramilitary" organization "directly involved in the planning and support of terrorist acts, as well as funding and training other terrorist groups". Then he offers the alarming revelation that the IRGC "is so deeply entrenched in Iran's economy and commercial enterprises, it is increasingly likely that if you are doing business with Iran, you are somehow doing business with the IRGC".

With such language, Treasury lays the groundwork for applying financial sanctions against the entirety of Iran. All this makes clear that the growing coalition of bankers against Iran the US likes to trumpet may not be such a willing group.

Some indication of how unwilling can be found in the pages of Der
Spiegel (English edition). In July 2007, the German news magazine reported that "anyone wishing to do business in the United States or hoping to attract US investors had best tread softly when it comes to Iran. Germany's Commerzbank stopped financing trade with Iran in US dollars in January, after the Americans piled on the pressure". One German banker interviewed said: "German financial institutions feel the United States government has been engaging in 'downright blackmail'." The magazine goes on to report: "Anti-terror officials from the US Treasury are constantly showing up to demand they cut their traditionally good relations with Iran. The underlying threat from the men from Washington is that they wouldn't want to support terrorism, would they?"'...snip...

I've been cautious about predicting immanent hostilities against Iran, since we've had several false alarms before, but recent events make me wonder - Fallon's resignation, these financial moves, Cheney's visit to the Middle East, and this sudden fight between the Iraqi government and the Mahdi Army - perhaps this was an attempt to get Basra under Iraqi government control before things break loose?

It's pretty simple. The US cannot, or should not, bomb Iran without first controlling the only north/south road from Iraq to Quwait...unless the US is willing to conceed an entire army or a large part of one.

If I were shrub/vader the first thing I would do, just prior to an attack on Iran, would be to send an Iraqi force south along that road to try to take possesion of it and maintain control of it. This also means controlling the towns which the road passes through.

You have witnessed the outcome of the attempt made by Malaki to control the road. Not good.

What would your next move be? You get to play strategic planner. :)

What would your next move be? You get to play strategic planner. :)

Oh, I get to be in charge now? Great! Then let's evac immediately. Cut and run. Blow up any gear left behind.

Then start crash programs for serious energy efficiency and alternative energy, using the money that would otherwise have gone down that black hole.

Gee, that was easy enough. Sure beats having to run for President!



Add the sudden meeting between Bush & Putin on April 6th.

Can Putin "influence" Bush enough to stop an Iranian attack ?

Just wild speculation, but ...


I don't think anyone can influence Bush about anything. We already know that his father failed to influence him when he tried. Maybe if god spoke to him and said 'George, don't do it', Bush might listen.

I suspect that Bush will warn Putin that 'an attack on Iran is immenent', without giving a specific date. If nothing else, Bush could gauge Putin's reaction to such news. Putin would probably reply with a straight face 'yeah, I know'. End of conversation, on to the next topic...probably nuclear missle defense in Poland or somewhere.

I took Malaki's ploy to send troops south to control the road as a sign that a war might be in the cards. If the road cannot be controlled, even with US airpower supporting Malaki's army, then I don't see how a war against Iran can be launched at this time.

The US has military units spread over wide areas in fairly small groups. The logistic support to get them all out would be a nightmare. Just fuel and water requirements would be enormous.

The only problem with that theory is that the Iraqi army is strongly pro-Iranian. The reason the US hates Sadr is not because he's pro-Iranian, it is because he wants the US out of Iraq.

The simple fact is the US put the most strongly pro-Iranian group in Iraq at the center of the government. Leaving aside the stunning incompetence implied by that, it means there's no way they count on the so-called Iraqi army to keep the roads open. They're likely to be the main force shutting the roads down in case of an attack on Iran.

Now I wouldn't rule out the Bush administration having a Blackadderesque "cunning plan", like trying to get the Shiites in the South to kill each other off so there wouldn't be any force strong enough to shut down the supply line. But I don't think even the Bush administration is stupid enough to believe their own propaganda about who is pro-Iranian and who not.

Even so, Shargash, your comment does not speak to the thorny problem of how to get US troops out of Iraq if the administration decides to attack Iran.

The administration must assume that an attack on Iran would be countered with an all out attack on US troops across Iraq.

As I said...I don't think the US will attack Iran without a pretty firm grip on the only exit road out of Iraq (which happens to be the supply route into Iraq).

The military guys I read (Lind, van Creveldt) have indicated the only way out of Iraq is through Kurdistan (oops, I mean Northern Iraq). I believe that's generally true unless the US tries to physically hold the Southern route with US troops. Even then it would be tough.

As I hinted with my last paragraph, I don't think military doctrine holds very much sway with the Bush administration, at least not as long as some neocon fantasist could imagine a flower-strewn path to Kuwait kept open by the Badr Corps (oops, I mean Iraqi Army).

As Lind said in a recent article, US units in Iraq shouldn't wait for a plan from Washington:

As I have warned before, every American ground unit in Iraq needs its own plan to get itself out of the country using only its own resources and whatever it can scrounge locally. Retreat to the north, through Kurdistan into Turkey, will be the only alternative open to most U.S. Army units, other than ending up in an Iranian POW camp.

My main point was that even I don't think the Bushies are stupid enough to trust the Iraqi Army in a war against Iran. But then I have overestimated the Bush administration in the past, more than once.

No, I think God already tried, too.

Didn't Robertson or someone try to counsel GWB out of attacking Iraq, and Bush said he didn't even expect any casualties?

Favorite Anti-Bush fridge-magnet..
"LIKE A ROCK! - only dumber.."


I know it's petty of me but I was quite encouraged waching this;

"President Bush Booed At Baseball Game"


Course he gets the last laugh :-{

i was watching when he threw out the first pitch of the season opener yesterday - it was quite incredible how much booing there was and how they couldn't mask it in any way on the broadcast... which means it must have been pretty intense in the ground

gotta say though - it takes some balls to go out there in front of a stadium of booing people knowing it's you they're booing at

This is about three years now we have been holding our breath waiting for the attack on Iran.

Hey, it only took Cheney twelve years to get a second war going against Iraq. And he worked on it every damn day of those twelve years, count on it.

From the Pemex link up top, Pemex Missteps Pare Oil Revenues,

Pemex's board of directors consists of six of Calderon's cabinet members and five union leaders. Without amendments to the constitution, not much change is expected, Shaw says.

I had to laugh when I saw that. And it may be a decade or more before the constitution can be changed, if it can ever be changed. So don't look for much improvement in Mexican oil production.

Ron Patterson

"It's a national emergency," he said. "The cargo hauling industry, the commerce industry are reaching the crisis point

Other than a recent recession related drop-off in shipments, the railroads and barge lines are doing just fine.

Best Hopes for Energy Efficiency,


There is no better way to appreciate what you have than to lose it for a while.

The rail sector is benefitting from high demand for coal and high prices for grains. Is there enough profitability in the rest of its business to justify expansion/upgrading of rail network and rolling stock? Is there a clear indication of potential profitability? Has peak oil/Republican economic mismanagement created a situation wherein there is no clear investment signal in the transportation sector?

Norfolk Southern is expanding a series of tunnels on a main E-W coal line so that they can accommodate double stack containers. About half a billion (from memory) just so they can carry double stack and not single stack containers.

The "Meridian Speedway" upgrade carries very little coal & grain, and speed matters little to those products.

Double tracking LA to Chicago carries grain over sections, but appears (to me) to be more driven by container trade.

Double tracking LA to El Paso, carries relatively little grain and it clearly driven by container traffic.

Containers are becoming the "3rd Leg" of major products (the other two are coal & grain). Everything else is specialty today IMHO (boxcars are dying).

Good, but not enough IMHO.


Alan: I've been wondering about this myself. If American demand for Chinese goods is falling along with the broader economy, then I would expect it to hurt the railroads that are dependent on container shipping.

At the same time, the faltering trucking & air freight industries should bode well for rail.

I'd be interested in some numbers on this, if anybody has come across anything...

My gut feel is that it will depend on RR management. CN should do well with their operating procedures.

*IF* RRs can deliver goods reliably, even if slower (OK, we know it will take 6 days + or - 5 hours vs. 17 hours by truck, but the cost savings justify rail) they will grow even as total shipping volume declines.

Best Hopes for Reliable Rail Shipments,


Welcome back, Leanan!!

When I was last in Hawaii, I saw schoolteachers out hustling flyers in Waikiki, a job you'd never see respectable middle-aged Asian local ladies unless they were desperate.

Hawaii really needs to concentrate on local industry. They used to grow almost all of their food, had local dairies (as any milk bottle collector can tell you) need to work on producing an increasing share of their own stuff there. They seem to be importing even the most basic foodstuffs and exporting people. That's going to change as travel and tourism fizzles out, and by starting transitioning now they can lessen the pain.

I discuss this here:


Comments and criticisms are welcome!

A decent summary; though it's hard to see it happening in any kind of pro-active way.

The doctors are all leaving the big isle - and others are following for that reason. Soon life expectancies may be a fair bit shorter there. My mom's doctor (a rarity even on Oahu these days) just convinced her sister to move back to oahu from Honokaa since she's pregnant, and if anything goes wrong it's only third-world medicine there.

As the era of jetting between islands comes to an end, some stark choices present themselves. Oahu is a potential famine trap, but until that time will be safer.... which makes it more of a trap...


OTOH, with oil at $101, food prices are lower in Honolulu than in Toronto. Honolulu is the easiest city to walk around I've seen (better than SF or Toronto)-you can do better than survive here without A/C or heat. The homeless here appear to have a quality of life 10 times better than the homeless in Toronto (IMO). IMO, with oil at $200, Hawaii's tourist economy will still be OK, the average tourist is just going to have more money. I would think it would eventually rely more on the wealthy Chinese tourism and investment dollars.

Brian, you may be right. Obviously I haven't taken off for the northwoods, and I'm not even building on my big isle land. I don't like cold toes in my old age, and I built this house to be livable with no heating or cooling. It should be OK here until it isn't: if you have to be poor, this is a good place for it. The disaster scenarios are famine from some sequence of dire events over the intermediate term, or - if Matt Savinar and Jay Hansen have it right - to be nuked in the near-to-intermediate term.

At this point, anyone running in any particular direction to get 'away' from peak oil may be as likely to run into a worse situation as a better one... unless their current one is obviously untenable like a condo in Tuvalu.

As the airlines merge and close, the volume of Hawaii tourism will slack off... however, the military input to the local economy could stay the same or even increase, depending on what the empire decides to try to control. At age 57, I'm sticking here for now but with my long-distance radar running. If any cuban-missile-crisis type stuff starts acting up, I can be on the big isle within 90 minutes.

I dunno about Chinese tourism.. though I do have some vague unease about the USA just trading it to China outright someday. In the meanwhile, I have avocados and lemons to pick, while in the background there's a faint sucking sound as the paper worth of my house goes down $1000/day. Easy come, easy go.

Suppose I could start eating all these damn coconuts....

Welcome back, Leanan! We have all been in withdrawal from your sure editorial hand. Hope you had a good rest.

Oil down $4 on the day and dropped $2 in last 5 minutes - what news?

My guess would be hedge fund operators and others selling to lock in first quarter gains on oil positions, perhaps combined with some forced selling to meet margin calls elsewhere. In any case, incredible volatility.

forgot it was quarter end - you are probably right.

The folks on CNBC say that it is the strengthening of the dollar plus the ending of hostilities in Southern Iraq that is causing the price of oil to drop.

Ron Patterson

“Strengthening of the dollar”-SWITCH = ON
“Hostilities in Southern Iraq”-SWITCH = OFF
These switch-combinations render oil =>> CHEAPER. It’s just like PLC-programming, isn’t it?

We -the MSM- have to say something, we are the news.... are we not?

And Bloomberg says its due to a reduction in demand...

Oil Falls More Than $4 on Signs of U.S. Fuel Demand Decline

When the price falls, Bloomberg calls up the oil bears, and they say oil will continue to fall because of the slowing economy.

When the price rises, Bloomberg calls up the oil bulls, who say that oil will continue to rise because China's oil imports are exploding.

A couple of days ago, when oil was shooting up to the top of the trading range, Bloomberg said that oil prices were rising because the U.S. economic outlook was improving.

Elsewhere on Bloomberg today, there are stories saying that the economy seems to be slowing less than expected.

In other words, Bloomberg is pretty useless.

Moe, I highly appreciate your posts here. You have shared far more insight into the inner workings of the markets here on TOD than I read in the MSM.

I note Bloomberg has already retitled their article...
Crude Oil Falls More Than $4 on Speculation Supplies Increased.
Same article as I previously linked. Different title.

So seldom, if ever, do I see MSM back up their claims with the kind of meticulous research I see daily here at TOD.

It seems the whole idea of MSM reporting is to name-drop so as to give the report an aura of authenticity. I read little into their reporting outside the factual numbers - and if those are misreported, then the whole news agency is seen like a restaurant which has been caught using tainted ingredients.

Example: Do we really have to wait till Monday to guess the inventories are gonna rise? No one can convince me the traders are too dumb to look at the historical statistics and derive projections every bit as credible as any "analyst". Especially given the historical accuracy of analyst's projections.

My guess is inventories will rise, given historical demand data and being OPEC did not cut earlier because our Prez was over there hat in hand.

Our inventory levels shooting up to me is clear evidence OPEC is right about there being a panic hoarding and speculation bout going on. I feel OPEC was only trying to do their damndest to keep the system stable - not have gorging followed by a plummet, followed by a humongous spike as the plummet kills off investment for future production.

You know, typical underdamped unstable oscillatory system.

It makes me wonder if the pilots of our economy are in the cockpit or the lounge when I read MSM explanations of our economy.


You have shared far more insight into the inner workings of the markets here on TOD than I read in the MSM.

Perhaps Moe's adjenda is different than the MSM?

It makes me wonder if the pilots of our economy are in the cockpit or the lounge when I read MSM explanations of our economy.

Or perhaps you only think they are in some form of convance which needs a pilot and has a lounge when the reality is they are on the golf course?

Sheeple trade on news.
There are no regs on insider trading in commodities. This is not the stock market. There is always someone more inside than the poor schmuck who gets the news on the street.

Moe calls it like it is.

Even if you are prescient on fundamentals, you can still get your head handed to you in volatile markets if you don't use charts and technicals to get in and out.

strengthening of the dollar? it hit all time low today vs Euro.
Those talking heads on CNBC have no clue. Don't they understand the market, at any discrete point in time, represents the aggregate dollar vote of all involved? Meaning no matter what ones opinion is, there is an equal weighted opinion on the other side. CNBC is just a tribal megaphone for people to feel important and smart on a topic that society has been told leads to improved lives. (higher stock prices).

Im glad I gave my TV away in 2003.

Got rid of mine in 1994 (tee vee)---
Have I missed anything important?

A bunch of inept singers making fools of themselves, a bunch of inept dancers making fools of themselves, a bunch of inept schemers and back stabbers making fools of themselves, and a bunch of talking heads droning on. Oh, and Janet Jackson had a "wardrobe malfunction". Other than that - nah, not much at all.

Oil was up in the early morning hours, and CNBC was saying it's up because of the weakness in the dollar, and now with the price drop it's because of the dollar strenghtening. What gives? In any case, I bought a single 2016 contract for 9525 on the dip.

This is just the market establishing the trading range for this consolidation before the next move up. The "reasons" given by the media are pretty much fiction.

If you look at a chart of crude contract prices, you will see that over the past three trading days the high price was always a touch lower than the day before. This is just the guys riding the range up to the top and getting out before the prior top, because they really aren't buying or selling on information or supply/demand fundamentals--they're just trading the range.

Also, prices seldom go up in a straight "V" from a low. They usually have to go down and re-test that low. What you often see before breaking out of a consolidation is a "W", with the second "V" of the W stopping above the low of the first V. That seems to be what we're seeing today.

But also, my gut feeling is that commercials expect some extra inventory this week, resulting from the brief period where prices closed in on $110ish. Prices fell quickly, so there shouldn't be a long inventory build, but there could be enough of a build tomorrow to bring prices down to the old low and give them an excellent price for accumulating contracts.

I added some more oil contracts today at the low. I wouldn't be shocked to see another dip tomorrow, if we get an inventory build, but I see the price eventually breaking out on the upside of this little trading range.

this smells more like a hedge fund(s) liquidation to me. Now down $5

See my post below about the trendlines. This is classic. Bounced right off the line and headed up.

Also, hedge funds don't really matter. Large specs control only roughly 22.5% of the contracts that commercials control. It's commercials that matter. If the commercials were selling off, the volume would be a lot higher.

they don't matter in the long run, but on end of quarter day like today, after a month of large hedge fund losses in bond mkt + redemptions and that 22% can sure accelerate a move if investors want their money back - most commodities are getting crushed today (beans and wheat are limit down). Some of the commodity tracking funds have telephone withdrawal systems so portfolio managers might not have known until friday that people want out by quarterend.

And I think we kiss $70-$80 on oil this year, unless this silliness about Iran is real - will be the buy of the decade if we do.

I doubt very much that we've just seen a month of hedge fund losses on oil. In a worst-case scenario, they probably bought in around the low $90s and out around the low $100s for a huge profit. The people who lost money were the hedge funds who shorted oil.

Right now, hedge funds and everyone else will seek to make short-term money in oil trading the range.

I'd have to say there is virtually no way on earth we'll see $70-$80 oil for the rest of this year. Nothing in the fundamentals or the trading action indicates that we will. Depend in China is exploding, not shrinking. There have been new production delays announced practically every week this year.

And on the last dip to $86, before the run to $110, the commercial buying was violent. (That was when all the bloggers were saying the price was about to drop to $70.) It was commercial buying that propelled us through $100, and back up from the lows just below $100 (depending on the contract) on this correction.

But everyone should invest their own money the way they see fit.

things always move further in either direction than we can imagine.
Any stock mkt crash (like 10-30%) and oil falls quite a bit. Wouldnt spend alot of time there...

I think OPEC would cut production, or at least threaten to, if oil headed below 90.

If you guys trace a couple of trendlines on the chart, you'll be able to see more clearly what is happening.

Trace a line from the high on 3/17 to the high on 3/27, and extend it out to the right. You will see that prices stop at the downward sloping trend line on subsequent highs.

Trace another line from the low on 3/20 to the low on 3/25, and you will see that today's lows are stopping at this upward sloping trend line.


This is just the boys trading a range.

Several things could happen tomorrow. If we get a big build, the price could test or even break the 3/20 low. If so, my guess is that we break it and then reverse and come back up. If we break below and then reverse back up above that low, that's a terrific buy signal. You may see another test of that low to whipsaw everybody, but that's still a terrific signal with huge potential for low risk.

Otherwise, we may trade within these two slanting lines for a bit until a breakout.

Also, note that the selling has been on falling volume, not rising volume. That's very important information.

Also, see this on bull flags: http://www.thestockbandit.com/Bull-flag.htm

1 - I dont believe in trendlines- they only work after the fact
2 - you are only allowed 5 responses to yourself. 6 is over the limit...;-)

Okay, but this is officially a response to you :^)

You're wrong about trendlines--they can be a very high-edge forward indicator, depending on how you use them. I'm not talking about Elliott Wave fluff--I'm talking statistically sound trading signals. Backtesting shows they can give you a buy signal or sell signal with roughly a 35-40% edge. That's a terrific edge.

You do get some whipsawing around trendlines (which for non-traders means you get stopped out, then get another buy signal, which means you end up in your original position minus the few bucks from getting stopped out).

But the returns on the signals that pay more than compensate for the signals that fail, which of course is how you get the 35-40% edge on your bet.

I agree with moe. Trend lines and other basic patterns and technicals have been around forever because they have a time-proven track record.
Moe is trying to share some insights in here.
Trading success can take different paths.
I have learned not to argue with success when I recognize it.

Wannabe traders have to pay their dues.
See my post up-thread on having your head handed to you.

Oh I firmly believe in technical analysis, and that the trend is your friend - that was my business - creating and trading neural network pattern recognition systems to trade futures. I just have never been able to quantify a system using trendlines that was robust across commodities and time periods. I'm sure they exist. I just personally never found one that worked out of sample.

A lot of traders do believe in trend lines and by trading on them, make them come true. Funny old world, ain't it ;)

I personally think the selloff was somewhat related to this:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Five U.S. oil company executives set to testify on Capitol Hill on Tuesday about soaring gasoline prices and record industry profits will likely offer a common defense: It's not our fault.

U.S. average pump prices have risen steadily since the beginning of 2008 and recently hit a record above $3.20 a gallon, heaping yet more pressure on a U.S. economy beleaguered by an imploding housing market and recession fears.

Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, a long-time oil industry critic and chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, will chair the hearing called "Drilling for Answers: Oil Company Profits, Runaway Prices and the Pursuit of Alternatives."


When you say tomorrow, you mean Wednesdays report? Or did I lose a day when the clock changed ;)

Need more help.

As expected I got hailstormed back from my newsletter post on peak oil. This link was one. I suspect there is an TOD article on this http://www.cera.com:80/aspx/cda/public1/news/pressReleases/pressReleaseD...

Question, I have looked, are all the articles indexed here by name and subject so I can search this stuff myself?

Thanks in advance.

you can search by keyword, e.g. Cera, or Charles Hall, or Natural Gas
or you can click on any of the contributors names and it shows a list of posts they have written.

Yea, wasn't quite what I was looking for. Would be nice if we had a page that had a hierarchy within which each article can be placed into, then just drill through that tree to get what we are looking for. Would mean classifying each article into that hierarchy.

I'm a little behind in my updates but most of what you need should be there.

Also, does anyone know of recent finds in Indonesia the trench zones near Banda Acea?

make sense

would explain all the military activity there over recent years

a few years back i once ended up (for completely unrelated reasons) having breakfast with the Indonesian ambassador to the US while a bunch of opportunistic Houston business folks were trying to get co-operation on oil concessions around this neck of the woods IIRC

don't know what came of it - just interesting to see it in the news

A lot is being read into the shift from corn to soybeans. The answer is simple: farmers are smart businessmen. A lot of farmers planted corn for the second year in a row last year, because they knew the demand was there. They know it is there this year, too, but even upping the fertilizer and pesticides ($$$$$) doesn't cover the declining yields, and the risk of ruining the soil going forward. Rotating in soybeans replenishes the soil, and also encourages the die off of corn-specific pests. When I was a kid in the midwest, seeing someone plant corn three years in a row was a sure sign the property would be up for sale soon.

If they were REALLY smart businessmen they would be planting whatever their neighbors AREN'T

The WSJ has another article about the rice situation in Asia. It's behind a paywall, but you can get in through Google News.

Rice Hoarding Pressures Supplies

BANGKOK -- As rice prices hit new highs, farmers across Asia are hoarding their crops, raising the prospect of a shortage in Asia and Africa that could lead to widespread unrest.

And MSNBC has a couple of articles about how gas prices are affecting people's budgets. They're older articles, and so might have been posted already, but interesting.

Rising gas costs crimping budgets

Gas prices gouge eating, shopping habits, too

They're anecdotal type articles, and so should be taken with some NaCl. But if they're representative, people are cutting back in ways many here did not expect. (Like giving up SUVs and internet access.)

someone told me lots of pizzerias are for sale lately due to the rising cost of ingredients. perhaps drop in orders is another factor.

Here in Vermont:

Increasingly, drivers are trading in domestic half-ton pickup trucks for gas-sipping autos, said Bruce Donnelly, general sales manager at Heritage Toyota in South Burlington.

"Let's face it, that's a drastic change," he said, later adding, "The gas situation is really changing our entire economy."

Commercial customers are still buying full-size trucks, he said, noting that it's those who have been driving pickups as personal vehicles who are making the switch.

"We have seen this ever since gas hit $3 a gallon," Donnelly said.

The WSJ has another article about the rice situation in Asia. It's behind a paywall, but you can get in through Google News.

shhhhhhh.....don't tell anybody....

"The Wall Street Journal's Web site is already (secretly) free"

- continuing his career-long smirkfest, George Will's comment above that;
"People only insist that a debate stop when they are afraid of what might be learned if it continues."

seems to be the mirror-image of the problem of these debates as I see them.. I'd say -

"People insist on perpetuating these gratuitous debates because they are afraid of what will happen if we admit that we have difficult choices to face, expensive tasks to undertake.. or that someone is going to be held accountable."

Hi leanan,
I knew you were gonna nuke that long post about the critters trying to force speculators out of the markets. Did you capture a link to it before you pushed the button?
Welcome back sweetie, you were truly missed.

No link that I could find yet. I'm sure one will turn up eventually.

Here's a similar story, from the Hartford Courant:

Larson Ponders Curbs To Oil Market Speculation

U.S. Rep. John Larson wants to rewrite the rules of how oil is bought and sold, blaming investor speculation for record prices that have raised the cost of home heating oil.

From the poorly worded phosphorus supply story above:

>>Bush also said that as scientists switch to cellulosic biofuels - which use the woody tissue of a plant rather than the seed - instead of just corn ethanol, biofuel crops tend to replenish phosphorous in the earth.

"For cellulosic crops like perennial grasses, fewer nutrients are removed because many are recycled into the below ground tissue at the end of the season before harvest," Bush said.<<

This is another reminder that the resource use issue with ethanol does not turn on the use of the corn crop, but on the best use of the primary resources involved, particularly the land.

It appears that the Mr. Bush in this story (no not the decider) believes there is a future for (cellulosic) ethanol production in North America. That would be a political choice, as in mandates. It is already becoming clear that the economic use of bio-fuels will be as minimally processed solids burnt for the generation of heat and electricity. The course of the natural gas market will determine when the politics of bio-fuels turn irrevocably against ethanol.

An interesting link to page 57 of the 1928 novel by Aldous Huxley, Point Counter Point http://tinyurl.com/2pyn94 or http://books.google.com/books?id=acBlt9gBPDoC&pg=PA57&lpg=PA57&dq=huxley... or google Huxley + phosphorus

"Why do the smoke-stacks have those things like balconies around them?" enquired Lenina.

"Phosphorus recovery," explained Henry telegraphically. "On their way up the chimney the gases go through four separate treatments. P2O5 used to go right out of circulation every time they cremated some one. Now they recover over ninety-eight per cent of it. More than a kilo and a half per adult corpse. Which makes the best part of four hundred tons of phosphorus every year from England alone."

-Brave New World

Wow. A practical use for all the biomass of humans. This is my kind of recycling. I just hope the feedstock comes from normal end-of-life transitions. ;-)

Well there's your Pound of Flesh, huh?

Heinlein made it a little sweeter in 'Moon is a Harsh Mistress', where a departed family member (Ludmilla) was essentially interred into the all-important Compost Cloaca of the Davis Family Farm (in tunnels under the surface of a mineral-poor moon)..

EDIT; 'Moon' is probably my fave 'Resource Crisis' Scifi novel, illustrating a society trying to reform when it's ties to Earth are bleeding it's essentials away, due more to political machinations than physical ones..


And I wonder what Frank Herbert's Fremen did with the potash left over from the death stills?

Probably cut it with spice and sold it on the streets.


In today's Toronto Star: Oil firms are caught in a squeeze play

Investor-owned oil majors like Exxon will no longer be able to increase their reserves, say analysts, because of new attitudes in oil-producing nations


Also in today's Star: Ontario seeks vision for clean energy

The head of Ontario's electricity-system operator says that injecting "intelligence" into the provincial grid must be given higher priority if the industry is serious about accommodating renewable energy, smart appliances and emission-free electric cars.



Massive Computer Centers Worse than Air Traffic

There's been a lot of hand-wringing lately about how much air traffic contributes to global warming. An even more damaging culprit, however, has recently been found: the Internet. Computer centers consume massive amounts of energy, and their use is growing astronomically. Creative solutions are being sought -- and found.

When Professor Heinz-Gerd Hegering orders a new supercomputer, he first warns the power company. The power lines in the surrounding Bavarian countryside must be able to handle the additional load. "It's enough to make the engineers break into a sweat," Hegering says.

Welcome back Leanan!

There is no alternative to continuing growth, but it comes with deadly side-effects.

If it were medicine, and it had deadly side-effects, I'd at least consider the alternative: not taking it. Exactly why can't zero growth, and even retrenchment, be considered? Ah yes, now I remember: profits. Oh well, die we must.

Unlike Iraq, where the oil is disperse in a number of regions, it looks like Iran has most of it's oil production along the southwest coast:


This assault on the Sadr militia (Mahdi Army) is seen as a required precursor to assaults on Iran (especially considering where we would assault Iran: the southwest, by Basra). This will be seen as a requirement to protect US supply lines or general security.

Either way, while these new trade sanctions and this assault on the Mahdi army (the US is on the front of much of this assault) appear to pave much of the way for this new war.

From souperman2 (referring to financial war on Iran):

"The day the US declared war on Iran"


With Adm. Fallon leaving and Cheney's trip to the Middle-East, it makes things all the more scary on top of the above.


But like our last umpteen plans to ambush Iran, this plan required our stooges - this time Maliki's "army" - to perform better than Moe, Larry & Curly. None of these plans can work because no competent, brave and patriotic Arab or Persian will do our dirty work for us. We never figured that out about our allies in Saigon either.

Now if we were going to use nukes, that's another matter. We'd probably manage to screw it up by bombing the wrong city.

When it comes to nukes, any city is the wrong city!

Hello TODers,

Welcome back Leanan, please don't delete this for length as this represents about 20 hours of work for me. I live in fear of your Deletion Power!

More Wild & Crazy Speculation ahead? Is Iraqi sulphur as geostrategic as their FFs? Could global sulphur control be just as important as global oil control? Recall that melted sulphur looks just like freshly spilled blood as you sadly contemplate 4000+ GI deaths and huge numbers of Iraqi deaths.

More on my continuing investigative series on sulphur & I-NPK. As posted before: I encourage the TopTODers to statistically investigate this further as I am lacking in skills, cannot touch-type, and the latest statistical market reports cost bigtime$$$!

Like many readers of this subject, I too was puzzled by the skyrocketing price of sulphur when abundant stockpiles can be seen by outer space satellites. Recall my postings of how Iran recently sold sulphur at $666/ton, it hit $900/ton in New Zealand, Gazprom's goal of increasing sulphur prices Sevenfold in 2008, panic buying in China, shortages of railcars for dry sulphur and liquid sulfuric acid transport, and so on...

The following excellent, but dated [2000?] USGS link should be read in its [56 page PDF warning] entirety, but I will post segments at various times below. What lead me to this link is explained below--keep reading!


First consider a pound-for-pound comparison of sulfur vs crude:

1 ton of crude oil = 1 metric ton of crude oil
= appr. 7.3 barrels of crude oil (assuming a specific gravity of 33 API)
= 6.6-8.0 bbl. of crude oil with 7.333 bbl. taken as average
At $100/barrel, then a ton of crude is approx. worth $730. Compare again with $666/ton of Iranian sulphur or the $900 of New Zealand's price. IMO, this helps show how critical sulphur is as a global infrastructure lifeblood.

In other words, imagine this infrastructure as a photosynthesis plant. The ancient sunlight of FFs is metaphorically shining down to energetically power this plant [made of factories, cars, mines,etc], but the other Elements are required to make it work & grow, with sulphur a key resource in this entire global operation.

Recall that 90% of sulphur is eventually converted to sulphuric acid, and 60% of all this sulphuric acid is used for phosphate conversion with lots more energy inputs. I think we all would like to continue eating, but I would argue sulfur is the 'strike anywhere match' to jumpstart the long process of bringing food to our mouths, and other products to our homes.

While googling around in a feeble manner as I usually do, I came across this link of huge amounts of Iraqi sulphur for sale at $625/ton:

Dear Buyers,

A lot of noise has been circulating in the market over the supply of high purity sulphur.

Grade: 99.6%minimum - 99.9%maximum
Quantity: 25,000 tons per month

Please note that bargaining and haggling over the price is and will go nowhere. That is the price and not much anyone can do about it.
Thank you and good luck,
This is what made me google until I found the USGS link posted above.

USGS teaser segment:
Iraq began producing Frasch sulfur in 1972 at its Mishraq Mine with an initial capacity of 250,000 metric tons per year (t/yr) that expanded to 1 Mt/yr in 1974 (Merwin, 1974, Merwin and Keyes, 1976, p. 1249).

The Mishraq deposit possibly is the largest native sulfur deposit in
the world, with an estimated 100 to 250 Mt of sulfur resulting from bacterial activity (Barker and others, 1979). Little is known about
events in the Iraqi sulfur industry since 1990. Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 precipitated the gulf war in 1991 during
which United Nations (UN) forces bombed many of Iraq’s industrial complexes. Although the sulfur operation was not damaged,
sanctions imposed after the war curtailed exports of sulfur (Sulphur, 1991).
Most of the world's sulphur is now supplied by oil & natgas refining [see charts in USGS link] plus unconventional oilsands, thus the Canadian stockpiles. Sulphur mining is not as energy efficient; it is mostly shutdown now [again see related charts in USGS link]. Thus, as we go postPeak--> sulphur will get increasingly expensive in energetic cascading blowback. If Russia is now past Peakoil--No wonder they want to increase sulphur pricing Sevenfold in 2008 so they can continue I-NPK and other processing in the future [and others CANNOT]!

Consider also that Morocco huge phosphate reserves are basically worth little without sulfuric acid to beneficiate their rock--Now recall my AFRICOM, future Barbary pirates, and other related postings with the geostrategic Iraqi mine. But it gets even better--please keep reading!

Recall from prior postings that it can take 3 or more tons of sulphuric acid to make a ton of phosphate fertilizer, we increasingly need to add sulphur to our global soils, besides NPK, to avoid a Liebig Minimum and to optimize soil biodiversity for maximum yields.

Lastly, consider how much sulfur will be now be used for tertiary CO2/sulfuric acid oil extraction by reading this link [see cool photo of sulphur stockpile, then imagine value at $666/ton]:

Thanks to Apache’s Zama Acid Gas Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) Project, the growth of that sulfur mound – as well as air emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2, a greenhouse gas) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) from flaring (a contributor to acid rain) released during the sweetening process – soon will come to a halt. By late September, Zama’s sulfur plant will be shut down.

But that is just the beginning. In what is believed to be the first such project in the world, Apache is aiming to wring another 10-15 percent of the oil out of the ground by injecting both H2S and CO2 into Zama’s depleted pinnacle reefs.
Another link for more detail:


So, if Iraq goes to tertiary recovery with CO2/sulphuric acid gas EOR--How much more oil can they hope to get [they certainly have the sulphur!]?

SS, Euan, F_F: I hope you read this, then ponder the implications as you guys do so analytically well. ;)

Okay, folks, I am pressed for time, but I hope to provide more info from this USGS link--Do the declining charts show Peak Sulphur with Peak FFs? I encourage all TODers to help me explore this sulphur and I-NPK topic further, and lighten my workload. :)

Will sulphur recovery and reduced sulphur gassing worsen climate change with global dimming as China and India rushes to install sulfur scrubbers? Will sulphur for food be more important than sulphur for FF-illumination and heating? How about sulfur for explosives and thermate, or purifying our tapwater? So many questions, so little time....

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

Bob - thanks for your sleuthing. The interaction between various limiting inputs to our societal engine is the biggest challenge for supply side science. Some Liebigs minimum that few are thinking about could become limiting very quickly. I am mostly concerned about water, though fertilizer(and its precursors are certainly up there)

According to Wikipedia on Sulfur, it is in abundance in Alberta and Gulf of Mexico and doesn't mention Iran or Iraq. I don't know much about this - are there different types of sulfur used for fertilizer or is it mostly a byproduct of oil production. There are going to be numerous positive feedbacks on the downslope. Cutlers historic research showed that 72% of energy input into oil production was Nat Gas - this was relatively constant for decades. Last year, when Commerce dept reduced staff from one time over 300 down to about 9 people on energy stats, the predominant energy input into oil production now is electricity (not nat gas). I am skeptical that the new 'staff' there is being analytically rigorous - but how to prove???

In any case- what you've brought up merits looking into further. Anyone with time to do such an analysis please?

A good source of sulfur for soil enhancement is gypsum (calcium sulfate). Gypsum is still reasonably priced, is roughly half sulfur and half calcium and is ph neutral. Calcium is needed in most soils but a soil test will provide information for needed amendments.

Hey Toto. Just an idea, but maybe you should start a blogspot site or something where you can post your research and then just link to it here with a short summary. That way you can avoid deletion of your posts, and it would be alot easier to keep track of your work.

Anyways, I firmly agree that we have a fertilizer crisis that may cause problems long before oil or gas shortages cause any problems. It's all about the food, man!

Yes, I agree, and I've suggested it to him before. The comments section of an open thread is not the place to post a dissertation. If you have that much to say, you need your own blog. Not least because it's a lot easier to reference and keep track of.

Since this is original work, and explores the edges, I welcome his contributions on DB (wide exposure).

IN ADDITION, having it on his own blog would be good.

Best Hopes for Bob's efforts. Do not forget his key find on Ghawar !,


Yes one spot to find all his comments on NPK & related would be great.

Yes, that, too. If he posted this stuff at Blogger, he could have "key words" so you could easily find all the related posts. "NPK," "spider web riders," etc.

You can't do that with comments, and SuperG has asked that I not use key words in DrumBeats anyway.

Since this is original work, and explores the edges, I welcome his contributions on DB (wide exposure).

Me, too, but it should be an excerpt and a link, not entire dissertations. It's basic netiquette. If you have that much to say, post it at your own blog, then link to it in the comments of other blogs where it might be of interest. (Some blogs actually limit the length of comments you can post.)

More people would probably read it, too, because people find huge blocks of text a real turnoff in the comments section.

"..people find huge blocks of text a real turnoff in the comments section."

Yes, for sure. Time is Energy.

But still, only the Best to You Totoneila! Blessed are the thinkers!


Hello AlanfromBigEasy,

THXS for the support. I would rather my occasional long postings be a keypost, but I readily admit that my hunt-and-pecks do not measure up to the lofty statistical and charting standards that are enforced.

Such is life--I try to keep my postings short [I could just post links only] but I felt I needed to textually stitch the whole story as concisely as possible so that the reader could follow where I was headed. My thanks again to Leanan for not deleting!

Hello Leanan,

I have a blog, AreHumansSmarterthanYeast, but I don't use it because I have already gotten way too many responses by email from people lethally threatening to hunt me down because of my controversial postings--I don't need that crap on a daily basis, I prefer the anonymity of TOD to speak my mind. Recall that I expect to be an early victim. Elsyian Fields?

Ahhh, yes. The land of the free -- free to speak your mind long as you don't deviate from the party line.

You are a dangerous man, toto.

solution: use a specific email address for the blog and never log in to the email - no death threats :-)

Then do not display your e-mail address. You don't have to make it public. Blogger allows you to display it or not, as you wish.

Hello totoneila - Thanks for the good work.

Talking to a loyal customer today who is from Tunisia

Says I, "I guess Tunisia is safe from US Imperial projections as your oil is not a target.

Laughs and says he, "Phosphate. We have massive supplies and the world is buying it up at ever increasing rates. Trains run day and night and very little or none of the money gets to the people."

P.S. He gifted me with a beautiful soft wool felt FEZ. Cool!


here is a slightly out dated Chinese take on the sulfur situation: http://www.oilboss.cn/boss/Alh/ShowArticle.asp?ArticleID=63726

the take is that it is a trap through market manipulation. before mid 1990s, most of the H2SO4 produced in China was from FeS2 mined within China. to break into the huge market in China, the major sulfur producers around the world lowered its price to less than $30/t. the Chinese started to shift its H2SO4 production from using FeS2 to sulfur for the benefit of steam, electricity co-production. the import increased from 740kt in 1997 to 3.4MMt in 2001. the H2SO4 produced from sulfur increased from less than 1% to more than 43% (end of 2006). since then, the sulfur price has increased dramatically (from less than $30/t to more than $130/t at the end of 2006) but when some of the major producers in China started to go back to FeS2, the sulfur price was lowered dramatically (from $130/t to $80/t back then) to keep the mining operation of FeS2 depressed.

High Rice Cost Creating Fears of Asia Unrest

Rising prices and a growing fear of scarcity have prompted some of the world’s largest rice producers to announce drastic limits on the amount of rice they export.

The price of rice, a staple in the diets of nearly half the world’s population, has almost doubled on international markets in the last three months. That has pinched the budgets of millions of poor Asians and raised fears of civil unrest.


Probably not anywhere near fast enough though. Wind will certainly help cushion the blow, even if it's on by a small amount.

Welcome back Leanan. I was starting to have serious withdrawal symptoms.
Much better now :0)

I was starting to have serious withdrawal symptoms.

caused by the lacking of a large daily dose of depressants? doomers feel withdrawal for lacking of doomer porns? any psychologist or psychiatrist here cares to comment?

Would be interesting to hear from one. Fear has its own excitement, hence horror movies and roller coaster rides for entertainment. There can be nothing more terrifying/exciting than the imminent demise of civilised society, can there?

We hear a lot from our own amateur psychologists who speculate on the hopeless masses who are addicted to the dopamine rush, but when it comes to turning the gaze inward and wondering why some people are addicted to the adrenaline rush of a daily dose of fear, they are rather quiet.

A principle of science its universality - if it's true we are basically chimps easily prone to addiction - why would the denizens of TOD be excepted? And remember, it's already been shown that smarter folks are more prone to self-deception...

I assure you that not only are we not excepted but on average are near the front of the line.
But I'd rather be addicted to information and camaraderie within my tribe than television or stock options.

I have a below average attraction to dopamine. I am a oxytocin seeker.

TOD has been my escape to a "nice clean place" post-Katrina. The stress and suffering here is deeper now, but it has not disappeared. And I have too much empathy.


My wife is a psychologist and she reads TOD occasionally but she does not post. She does pass interesting comments to me occasionally, mostly positive, about what she reads on the Drum. She is definitely a PO and GW believer and has been for many years.

positive for "we are saved" or for the believe of doom being confirmed?

There can be nothing more terrifying/exciting than the imminent demise of civilised society, can there?

Only its continuence.

Fewer trolls today? No profanity? Yes it is nice to have things at TOD back in a normal state. Leanan you were missed. John

Rx: Canned goods and ammunition

Too late for macro-solutions IMO. Still time for

BATTERIES and BULLETS: The Alternative Energy Tip of the Day

The volatile run-up in lead prices and shipping costs played havoc with battery manufacturers. Industrial battery prices can change dramatically day-to-day. If you are contemplating the acquisition of an alternative energy system, please note that lead-acid batteries still give the best bang for the buck in terms of storage capacity and longevity.

A battery back-up is desirable even with grid-tie systems. Otherwise, when the grid drops out, you have no system.

With deep-cycle batteries, you pretty much get what you pay for.
Over-the-counter retail batteries usually last not a day over the 36 month warranty.
Commercial batteries such as the Trojan L-16 can give 5 to 10 years of service.
Industrial batteries such as those available from Industrial Battery Engineering (IBE) can last 20 years with proper maintenance.

To avoid disappointment, find a seasoned expert in your geographic area to design a system for your specific site and application. Without specific alternative energy experience, most blog experts, electricians and EE’s know enough to get you in trouble and waste a lot of money.

Otherwise, go for it and buy it now. As I have said before, the supply of alternative energy equipment is thin compared to the industrial base of other manufacturing sectors. Any little panic and this stuff will disappear.

I thought this clip might be of interest. And yes, some ranges do recycle lead and sell it back to their clients – very sustainable.

Al Jazeera television, “Montana has a lot of guns”.

It's going to be useful looking at all the tasks that we currently use 120ac electricity (or Low voltage) for and considering what alternatives might remove that much more of the dependence on the battery pack, too.

As we start thawing out up in southern Maine, I once again regret that I didn't have the yardspace to create my 'Big'ol Ice Ditch', an insulated hole that would have collected Ice/Snow/Rain all winter and was left open when cold enough, and covered in warmer weather. Depending on how big you wanted to dig and insulate, you could have a considerable 'Coolth' storage at 32f for a good long time after winter was up.. keep that solar fridge totally unplugged until that puddle and the watertight food chest you'd set down into it had finally gotten up to 40 or so..

Insulating against groundtemps might be difficult enough that it would make as much sense to put this thing above ground, like the old Sawdust-packed Icehouses back in the day..

But anyway, to look at everything electrical with an eye towards divesting what's possible to..



I have an article in my archives from the 1970's about a family in your neck of the woods, Vermont or New Hampshire, who tapped the seasonal temperature flywheel effect to meet all their summer refrigeration needs in a modern kitchen. It really worked. I would have to dig out the article for the details.

You are very correct in that use of AC/DC, grid or alternative power, can and should be supplanted by more cost-effective and secure natural systems where possible. There are many subtleties of passive solar heating and cooling design strategies that have been forgotten and need to be resurrected in order to harness the flux of less concentrated forms of energy.

Re: "...lead-acid batteries still give the best bang for the buck in terms of storage capacity and longevity."

solardoc: I assume you're talking off-grid and deep-cycle applications. As I understand it, gel or AGM batteries work better for infrequent, shallow cycle, grid-connected battery backup applications.

Anyone who's ever thought Al Gore should put his money where his mouth is...

MSNBC Gore unveils $300 million warming campaign
Former vice president calls for U.S. to reduce greenhouse emissions

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Nobel prize winner and former Vice President Al Gore launched a three-year, $300 million advocacy campaign calling for the United States to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions...

...Gore said the campaign will be funded, in part, from all his profits from the Oscar-winning documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" and its companion book, his salary from the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, and his $750,000 share of 2007 Nobel Peace Prize cash award.

Now build some wind turbines that spin the right way!

He doesn't fool me.

That $300M is just so he can feel good about himself.

Regard pressure cookers....

They work magic on dry beans. After soaking, you can cook them for 10 minutes instead of two hours. A no-regrets ELPer's delight.

To those who already are familiar with them, what kind of pressure cooker have you been happy with? I got a Fagor as a gift once, and I've been content with it, but it requires a vendor-specific rubber gasket that wears out. I've thought about stocking up, but if they go out of business I'll eventually be stuck with a regular pot. Do you know of one that either has no wearable parts or no non-standard ones? Thanks.

I have one that uses a thin flexible lid which is placed inside the top and a handle seats it against a inward lip around the top. It does not require any rub seal. The part which seats it is made of some type of plastic but likely much easier to fabricate from wood or some other surplus material at hand. Not sure of the brand name. But realize at least a few years ago such a thing was available.

Regard pressure cookers....

They work magic on dry beans. After soaking, you can cook them for 10 minutes instead of two hours.

I pressure cook @ 15 psi pintos & kidney beans for 35 minutes and black & red beans for 30, after soaking or pre-boiling. Gaskets last several years, stock up on spares now. Maintaining steady pressure on a woodstove requires focus & practice. Perfect your skills now.

i have an old wisconsin aluminum foundry canner that has mating machined surfaces [bolts secure the top]- no gaskets & i have read of modern stainless ones too. the pressure cookers are soooo energy conserving- that & cooking in a thermos; i've done with grains overnight.

Pressure Cooker hints:

1) Beans have not been recommended in pressure cookers due to the possibility of bean bits clogging up the pressure vent. So watch 'em.
2) Buy a big one so you can place a second pot inside the 1st - like a double boiler. This allows you to:
a) Cook meat in its own maranade
b) Use it for sterilization - good for all your petri dishes.
3) For a metal on metal seal (I learned about 'em at http://www.thepeacock.com/) the makers of fine submarines at Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry http://www.pressurecooker-outlet.com/american.htm

The Energy Trap:
Why the United States is doomed to be an energy outlaw.

Democrats voting in Ohio and Texas may well decide the shape of the U.S. presidential election. Regardless of who they choose to run against Sen. John McCain, the all but certain Republican candidate, it is likely that energy issues will figure more prominently in the election than at any time in the last generation. High prices are sapping economic growth, the No. 1 concern across most of the country. Gasoline is now approaching $4 a gallon; natural gas and electricity are also more costly than a few years ago. Global warming has become a bipartisan worry, and solving that problem will require radical new energy technologies as well. All this is good news in the rest of the world, which is hoping that a new regime in Washington will put the United States on a more sustainable energy path.

The globalization of the world economy, coupled with the dynamic of Peak Oil are increasing the cost of food at an unsustainable pace. Something must give or famine will ensue.

Below are exerpts from one of the article's above entitled 'Food Crisis Growing Peril'

Mon. Mar 31 - 4:46 AM
THE world’s hungry are getting hungrier. The two most populous nations, China and India, are developing burgeoning middle classes as their economies boom. The millions who are being lifted out of poverty can now afford to eat better – and more. But the pressure of that demand on the world food supply is one of the reasons food prices are skyrocketing globally and striking panic into the hearts of other untold millions who live hand-to-mouth.

The price of oil is rising relentlessly – also due in part to the soaring Asian economies – and it’s making farming and transportation of food more expensive. The energy crisis is also fuelling the heavily subsidized ethanol business. Between one-quarter and one-third of corn crops in the United States are now being diverted into biofuels, squeezing out food crops and driving up their price.

Say, I note that when these things run to two pages, the "new" tags don't display on the 2nd page. Any recommended fix?

And hey, since nobody else has mentioned it.....

.....welcome back, Leanan........