DrumBeat: April 8, 2008

The de-flattening of the world

Of all the new barriers to free trade, the most damaging are probably export restrictions, as on rice in Egypt, India and Vietnam, or export tariffs, as in Argentina. Rice export restrictions have had the effect of doubling the world market price of rice in three months, to the immense suffering of the Third World's urban masses. They are the product of an ideology of scarcity, in which resources are thought to be severely limited and trade is viewed as a negative factor in the welfare of a country's inhabitants.

Not only do they damage the economy of commodity buyers, they are even more damaging to the country that imposes them. Nevertheless, in a world in which corn becomes scarce because of massive US ethanol subsidies, they have made their malign appearance, and they will not be eliminated until food and other commodity prices decline.

Oil trader faces criminal charges

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- New York Mercantile Exchange energy trader Steven Karvellas, a former NYMEX director, is pleading guilty Tuesday to cheating clients.

Six other traders are also being arrested for allegedly engaging in similar schemes on the NYMEX floor, according to the Manhattan District Attorney's office.

GM Volt Cost Estimate Up

We really aren't ready for Peak Oil and we aren't going to be ready in a few years. GM's pluggable electric hybrid Chevy Volt was originally projected to cost $30,000. GM's latest estimate for the Volt's cost? $48,000.

Marathon's East Brae Field Remains Shut After Technical Fault

(Bloomberg) -- Marathon Oil Corp. said its North Sea East Brae natural-gas and condensate field remains closed after a power failure yesterday halted work on three platforms.

ConocoPhillips, BP forge ahead with Alaska pipeline

ConocoPhillips has joined forces with BP to move forward on a plan to build a massive natural gas pipeline stretching from Alaska's North Slope to Alberta in what would be the largest private sector construction project ever in North America, the companies said today.

Apache Reports Gas Well Output in British Columbia

(Bloomberg) -- Apache Corp., the U.S. oil and natural-gas company that has almost a quarter of its reserves in Canada, said three shale gas wells began production in British Columbia in the western part of the country.

French govt recommends 5.5 pct natgas price hike

PARIS, (Reuters) - The French government has asked the Energy Regulation Commission's (CRE) opinion on an average increase in the natural gas tariff of 0.264 euros per KWh, Gaz de France said on Tuesday.

Russia's largest oil producer sees nearly 500 per cent jump in profit

MOSCOW — State-controlled OAO Rosneft, Russia's largest oil producer, on Tuesday reported its fourth-quarter profit rocketed almost five-fold due to acquisitions and production growth.

Pakistan: Gas leak kills two at nuclear plant

TWO workers were killed today after a gas leakage at a Pakistani nuclear facility, the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission said.

The accident took place at the Khushab heavy water plant, which had been shut down for annual maintenance, the commission said.

Tensions rise in energy rich Central Asia

Analysts say to expect more energy deals - and potential trouble - in the quickly militarizing region.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- It's got all the makings of an international geopolitical thriller: World powers move their armies into a violent, remote, and politically fragile region brimming with valuable oil and natural gas resources; except it's not fiction.

Central Asia is the scene of this powerplay. Europe is maneuvering to satisfy its energy needs while it cuts greenhouse gas emissions. China and India need the region's reserves to quench their booming economies' thirst for fuel. Meanwhile, the U.S. is challenging Russia's traditional control of the region's gas reserves - which are large - but not large enough for everyone.

Jewish group says Swiss-Iran gas deal finances terrorism

GENEVA: A major U.S. Jewish organization on Tuesday stepped up opposition to a multibillion-dollar ( -euro) Swiss-Iranian natural gas deal by claiming it makes Switzerland "the world's newest financier of terrorism."

Energy Dept: U.S. Crude Oil Should Average $101

NEW YORK (AP) -- Crude oil prices in the U.S. are expected to average $101 per barrel this year, the Energy Department's analytical arm said Tuesday, revising upward its price projection on the back of expected global demand growth and low surplus production capacity.

Rising inflation in Asia stings in the West

BAT TRANG, Vietnam: The free ride is ending. For decades, Westerners have imported goods produced ever more inexpensively from a succession of low-wage countries - first Japan and Korea, then China, and now increasingly places like Vietnam and India.

But mounting inflation in the developing world, especially Asia, is threatening that arrangement. Not just in China, where rising energy and labor costs have already made exports to the United States and Europe more expensive, but in the lower-cost alternatives to China, too.

Turning commodity increases into economic development

They say money can't buy happiness, but the question facing the world's poor countries is slightly different: Can money buy economic development?

The sharp upturn in prices for commodities has presented some of the poorest countries with an enormous opportunity. Many of the beneficiaries, in Asia, Africa and Latin America, export mainly crops and raw materials. During this decade, the value of those commodities rose about 75 percent compared with the value of other goods, according to the International Monetary Fund's latest economic outlook.

Kuwait posts $43 bln fiscal surplus on oil revenue

KUWAIT, April 8 (Reuters) - Kuwait posted a budget surplus of 11.44 billion dinars ($43.02 billion) last fiscal year, 10 percent more than it forecast in February, as oil revenue was higher than expected, government data showed.

Wales pays 10% more than England for fuel

Electricity consumers in North Wales pay on average 4% more and consumers in South Wales pay on average 10% more for their electricity compared to the English average, according to new research by the fuel watchdog energywatch.

The news will be discussed by the Welsh Assembly sustainability committee on Thursday as it tries to tackle the problem of fuel poverty in Wales.

Two Sides To The Dear-Oil Coin

There's an additional factor that could drive up crude prices even further: dwindling reserves. According to Lucian Pugliaresi, president of the Energy Policy Research Foundation, a Washington-based group that analyzes oil economics, a "perfect storm" of events within the last five years--including political instability in Iraq, Venezuela and Nigeria--has undermined production expectations by as much as 3 million barrels per day.

"The real issue is: what's it going to cost to replace these reserves over time," says Pugliaresi. "That's going to be expensive." He laments that even with crude trading at $100 per barrel, there's still little political will in Washington to expand offshore drilling or to open up Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Reserve for more production.

Rick Wagoner's worst nightmare

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- When he spoke with Fortune at the end of last year, GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner worried about "headwinds" that would impact the automaker's results in 2008.

What Wagoner had in mind were issues that affect the whole economy: oil prices, commodity and steel price inflation, the possibility of a recession. Those headwinds, which GM can do little about, are blowing just as hard or harder than Wagoner expected.

The Lost Decade – a retrospect on “Oil Production in the 21st Century,” Scientific American magazine

Back in 1998, when I wrote the above article for SciAm, I was feeling optimistic about the prospects for production growth in the oil industry. The drop-header read: “Recent innovations in underground imaging, steerable drilling, and deepwater oil production could recover more of what lies below.” There is certainly plenty of room for improving the percent of discovered oil that can be brought to the surface, and indeed, the impressive technologies I discussed in SciAm have improved that recovery efficiency by more that 10% since 1998. However, average recovery still languishes between 35% and 40% of the original oil in plac in the majority of the world’s oil fields. Two unfortunate and short-sighted management trends have affected my optimism, and in my view, prevented discovery and production technologies from keeping up with increased demand in what I think of as the “Lost Decade” since I wrote that article.

Farmers adjust to record corn prices

“Pretty much everybody I know, we're not going to plant any more corn than last year,” said Belding cash-crop farmer Joe Marhofer, who farms a few hundred acres of alfalfa and corn just off Krupp Rd. “Guys are really putting a pencil to it, they're looking to tighten their belts this year. With the input costs for corn so high, we decided not to break our normal crop rotation.”

...“If you had to pick and could get the same inputs for any crop, corn would definitely be the thing to do,” said Portland cash-crop farmer Jeff Sandborn, who owns an 1,800 acre operation split between soybeans and corn production. “But the inputs on corn are so much more expensive.”

Those input costs include purchasing nitrogen fertilizers, sprays and seed corn, much of which are imported overseas. Economically, the weak dollar ultimately means it costs more to purchase goods abroad than it did even last year, which has a domino effect on prices.

Price shock in global food

Americans may fret that Wheat Thins cost 15 percent more than a year ago but in poor nations, such price hikes aren't taken lightly. In Ivory Coast last week, women rioted against higher food costs, leaving one person dead.

In Haiti, four people were killed in protests last week over a 50 percent rise in the cost of food staples in the past year. From Egypt to Vietnam, price rises of 40 percent or more for rice, wheat, and corn are stirring unrest and forcing governments to take drastic steps, such as blocking grain exports and arresting farmers who hoard surpluses.

Area bakeries feel bite of rising flour prices

A "wheat crisis" is what the baking industry is calling the wheat shortage.

The country is experiencing its lowest reserves since 1946, said J. Bohn Popp, vice president of marketing for the Fort Wayne, Ind. -based Perfection Bakeries Inc.

Perfection Bakeries does business as Aunt Millie's Bakeries, the product line carried by supermarkets including Meijer Inc., Spartan Stores Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

"Before, we were at two to three months of reserves. Now, it's less than a month," Popp said.

Namibia: The Price of Uranium Mining - a Namib Desert Scarred By Pipelines

The water requirements of at least 12 new uranium mines by 2015 will come to about 53 million cubic metres, compared to a total water supply of 67 million cubic metres presently provided by NamWater to all its customers countrywide.

Oil price strength here to stay; demand fails to waver

DOHA - Oil price volatility is here to stay, with prices fluctuating within the range of $70-110/bbl and averaging $85-90/bbl this year. Also, demand growth has failed to waver because new players have emerged, with growth in China and the Middle East, according to Fereidun Fesharaki, chairman and chief executive officer of FACTS Global Energy.

Pakistan: Eunuchs warn of power outage protest dance

Islamabad - Four eunuchs in central Pakistan threatened to dance in protest at a regional power company office if it fails to provide a schedule for daily power outages, local media reported Tuesday.

The eunuchs in Muzaffargarh, in the south of Punjab province, said they often had to abruptly end their performances and were not paid the full fare because of power outages, the daily Dawn News reported.

Ethiopia: EEPCO Finally Admits Power Shortage

A week after the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCO) stated that there was no shortage of power in the country, the management on Thursday April 3 admitted that a power shortage has occurred due to the prolonged absence of Belg rain.

Australia: Premium unleaded prices rise amid shortage

A shortage of premium unleaded petrol in Canberra has seen the price skyrocket to a $1.69 litre.

A BP petrol station has been charging that price, which is $0.29 a litre more than the regular unleaded price. The oil giant is also charging $1.63 for its mid-range, lower octane premium fuel.

Familiar story: More need help, fewer can give

“As the economy gets worse, more people will need our services, but we have less funding for them,” Talcott said. “Last year, we received $22,800 from the United Way campaign, and this year it’s dropped to $16,400.

“It may not seem like a lot, but we run a tight ship here, especially with the cost of fuel, heat and transporting our goods,” he said.

Saudis raise oil prices for Asia, but widen US discount

SAUDI Aramco, the world’s largest state oil company, raised prices of light crude oil grades it will export to Asia in May, while cutting them for customers in the US and Europe.

The premium for Arab Light, the most common variety exported by Saudi Arabia, to Aramco’s Asian benchmark was raised for the first time in four months, widening to $1.45 a barrel from $1.05 a barrel in April, the Dhahran-based company said in a faxed statement on April 5.

Dominion CEO Touts Using All Available Energy Options

The nation is facing an “energy train wreck” unless it uses every energy option available, including construction of new coal-fired power plants, Dominion Resources Chief Executive Officer Thomas F. Farrell II said on Monday.

“We do not have the luxury of limiting ourselves to a few sources of energy and excluding others,” Farrell said. “We need to draw on every resource at our disposal – coal, nuclear, oil, natural gas, renewable power and aggressive and smarter conservation and efficiency programs.”

Bangladesh Fears Industrial Cost from Gas Shortage

DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh's textile producers, major export earners, said on Monday that a government decision to limit gas use by industry would cause at least $18 million in lost production each month.

State-run Titas Gas and Transmission and Distribution Company (TGTDC) last week told all major industries to stop natural gas consumption for five hours a day at peak time to ease pressure on the power sector.

Energy secretary: Use tech to diversify energy supply

WASHINGTON — Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman told an energy conference here yesterday that the nation must diversify its energy supply.

Technology is the key to solving the country’s most pressing energy challenges, Bodman said.

The Bush administration favors putting the private sector in the lead. Already, he said, private investment in the development of clean energy has taken off.

U.S. needs leader during energy crisis

World demand for oil is growing faster than supply, and prices are rising to near-record levels. Gas is well over $3 per gallon, and some experts are predicting $6 per gallon in the near future. Further, our dependence on foreign oil, especially from the Middle East, is severely affecting our foreign policy. Whether we like to admit it or not, oil-producing countries have really got us in a box, as we currently import about 60 percent of our oil.

The president's response? He recently said we have an oil problem, and we should do something about it. His plan is to urge the producers to produce more. Never mind we then become even more dependent on foreign oil. Never mind our Middle East policy will become even more difficult.

Just make sure we suffer no pain. Well, thanks Mr. President, but no thanks.

More waters off California may be off limits to oil drilling

Los Angeles - A stretch of the Pacific Ocean off California's wild north coast seems poised to get permanent federal protection from oil exploration and other development, in recognition that the area lies within one of the four richest marine feeding grounds in the world.

The US Senate is expected this week to vote in favor of extending two marine sanctuaries to cover ocean waters off a 76-mile stretch of the Sonoma County and south Mendocino County coasts – a move that would be a major victory for California in its 50-year battle to restrict offshore oil drilling. The House of Representatives approved the measure April 1.

Opponents say California power initiative is ill-advised

University of Phoenix founder John Sperling and his son, Peter, are backing a ballot initiative that would force the state to more than quadruple its production of solar, wind and other alternative energy sources by 2025.

But the state's major alternative-energy companies and environmental groups say the Solar and Clean Energy Act of 2008 is poorly drafted and riddled with loopholes, and they plan to oppose it.

Rubber Trees For Tyre Industry Shrink China Rainforests

Three decades ago, jungles and high mountain forests covered about 70 percent of Xishuangbanna, tucked between China's borders with Laos and Myanmar. By 2003, that proportion had shrunk to less than 50 percent.

"With rubber prices rising like crazy, any tree that can be cut down has been cut down to make way for rubber," said Liu, a professor at the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, run by the Chinese Academy of Science.


Carbon Dioxide Maps Zoom In On Greenhouse Gas Sources
ScienceDaily — A new, high- resolution, interactive map of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels has found that the emissions aren't all where we thought.

"For example, we've been attributing too many emissions to the northeastern United States, and it's looking like the southeastern U.S. is a much larger source than we had estimated previously," says Kevin Gurney, an assistant professor of earth and atmospheric science at Purdue University and leader of the project.

Oil peak theorist warns of chaos, war

WASHINGTON -- Matt Simmons sounds the alarm like the Cassandra of the oil industry, warning that crude production has peaked and that looming energy shortages could derail global growth and even spark armed conflict.

As a prominent "peak oil" theorist, the veteran oil industry financier paints a grim picture of a world facing resource scarcity. Still, it doesn't take a "peak-ist" to conclude that the global oil producers will find it increasingly difficult to keep up with growing demand.

He squared off yesterday against other experts who argue that the world has yet to reach the physical limits of oil production. But while they disagreed on the extent of the problem, the panelists at a U.S. Department of Energy conference in Washington concurred that future crude production will be constrained by physical, economic and political factors that add up to tight markets and higher oil prices.

Thaw exposes Greenland's oil

In Greenland, locals hunt reindeer for food and use dog sleds to traverse the ice sheet. Soon they may be working on offshore oil rigs and counting their money.

Oil companies have begun looking for crude deposits off the west coast, and Joern Skov Nielsen, deputy director of Greenland's Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum, said there may be more oil there than the entire past production of the North Sea. That's about 50 billion barrels, according to figures from Norway and Britain, the region's biggest producers.

China to consume 63% more oil in 2020 compared with 2006

BEIJING, April 8 (Xinhua) -- China is expected to consume 62.5 percent more oil in 2020 compared with 2006 as fast economic growth will continue to fuel domestic oil demand, says a government think tank.

China's oil consumption would rise from 346.6 million tons in 2006 to 407 million tons in 2010 and 563 million tons in 2020, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences forecast in a new report.

China's demand for oil is expected to slow

BEIJING — China's total oil demand is projected to rise at a modest annual rate of 3.3 per cent between 2010 and 2020, easing from 4.5 per cent in the 2007-2010 period, Chinese media said on Tuesday.

...The report gave no reasons for the projected dip in growth.

Drive to copy Prius's green halo

When Tom Weatherbee swapped his minivan for a Toyota Prius hybrid two years ago, he was mostly hoping to save money at the bowser.

But he was pleasantly surprised by both the requests from friends for a test drive and the grins its aerodynamic profile drew at the grocery store, and he basked in the attention.

"Even the people who own more expensive cars acknowledge the Prius as being pretty cool,'' said Weatherbee, an electrical engineer who lives outside Traverse City, Michigan.

UK: Ofgem investigating two companies

Two of the UK's largest energy companies are being investigated by their regulator over allegations they abused their dominant market positions.

Ofgem said it had launched the study into Scottish Power and Scottish & Southern Electricity following a formal complaint from an unnamed complainant.

The investigation centres on the companies' activities in the electricity generation sector.

ConocoPhillips settles Texas EPA charges

The Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday oil company ConocoPhillips has agreed to pay $1.2 million to resolve alleged Clean Water Act violations at its Borger, Texas refinery.

The agencies alleged ConocoPhillips violated discharge limits more than 2,000 times between 1999 and 2006. The discharges from the facility involved two types of water pollutants -- selenium and toxic wastewater.

Australia's own 'peak oil'

Resources and energy minister Martin Ferguson has warned the country's growing dependence on imported energy could reach critical proprtions, speaking at the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association conference in Perth.

“With only about a decade of known oil resources remaining at today's production rates, Australia is looking down the barrel of a $25bn trade deficit in petroleum products by 2015,” Mr Ferguson said.

China, Syria sign deal on oil refinery

China and Syria have signed an agreement to build a joint venture refinery in eastern Syria, expanding their cooperation to include oil processing, state-owned China National Petroleum Corp. has disclosed.

China's state-owned oil industry has been investing heavily abroad in hopes of securing energy supplies to fuel its booming economy.

Blast rocks Gazprom export link

An explosion has hit Gazprom's Urengoi-Uzhgorod pipeline, which pumps gas to Europe via Ukraine, but supplies to Europe continue to run smoothly, the country's Emergencies Ministry said.

The blast and subsequent fire hit the pipeline, which takes Gazprom's gas from the Arctic region of Urengoi through Ukraine and into Europe, at a point 170 kilometres north-east of the town of Perm in the Ural mountains.

America at a critical turning point

The specter of global warming and Peak Oil are threatening to make dramatic changes to our lifestyle and to the very future of our planet's existence. Do we Americans understand what the issues of global warming and Peak Oil mean to our future? Have Americans taken the time to educate themselves about these threats looming on the horizon? The impact that these twin impending disasters will have on every element of our daily lives and our very existence into the future? And not only the impact upon ourselves but also the lasting, terrible impact that they will have on future generations? If you do not know now you better prepare yourself for the future. It is not the least bit difficult to spend some time to research these critically important issues and anyone can easily do so by simply Googling these two terms on the Internet. Doing so will open up a window into a knowledge of things to come that most of us cannot even begin to imagine. Doing so will prepare you to face up to the future that is coming your way and one that is unavoidable. What is so difficult about getting educated about critical issues endangering our future?

Soot Plays Big Role in Global Warming

Black carbon, the stuff that gives soot its dirty color, could be the second most important contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide and a key to preventing warming, at least in the short-run, a new study suggests.

Gore convinced US will sign up to new climate treaty in 2009

TORSHAVN (AFP) - Nobel Peace Prize-winner and former US vice president Al Gore said Monday that he believes Washington will sign up to a new climate change treaty in Copenhagen in 2009.

"The United States will definitely join the next treaty," Gore said at a conference on global warming and rising oceans in the Faroe Islands. "The good news is that after the next (presidential, November 2008) elections, we will have a new politics."

I see that Tapis is over 3 yergins. Does anyone have any kind of profile of the players on the various exchanges?

This may have been posted already, it's impossible to keep up with Leanan, but here goes:

Breakthrough in BioFuel Production Process

"...graduate students Torren Carlson and Tushar Vispute announced the first direct conversion of plant cellulose into gasoline components.

...James Dumesic and colleagues from the University of Wisconsin-Madison announce an integrated process for creating chemical components of jet fuel using a green gasoline approach.

...Green gasoline is an attractive alternative to bioethanol since it can be used in existing engines and does not incur the 30 percent gas mileage penalty of ethanol...

...In theory it requires much less energy to make than ethanol, giving it a smaller carbon footprint

...Huber's new process for the direct conversion of cellulose to gasoline aromatics.

...the process, in principle, does not require any external energy."

I'm just passing the news. I have not had the time to look into it yet.

If you have, please post insightful analysis.

While I think cellulosic ethanol or any kind of gasoline/kerosene fuel derived from cellulose could be a "good" thing, I'm quite fearful of the potential consequences of giving the American populace another reason to deforest the land, either to clear it to grow crops, or to harvest trees to turn them into ethanol for SUVs.

Trees may be renewable, but tell that to the people who lived on Easter Island when building those cool stone heads. Most humans don't have the sense to stop over-consuming anything. Deforestation, over-fishing, species extinction, aquifier depletion, the list goes on. As a species, we simply don't learn from history.
~Durandal (http://www.wtdwtshtf.com)

Quite right to be concerned. Unsurprisingly, the article has the usual 10 years-to-commercialization disclaimer. I want to see an EROI analysis of this process (and no, it doesn't need to go back to the big bang to offer useful information).

I have no doubt that we are going to see more bio-fuel in the future, once natural gas resumes its cost/price climb. But the bio-fuels will be solid, burnt for heat and electricity in high efficiency furnaces. The pressure on agriculture land and the problems associated with mono-culture will continue to manifest. Perhaps the ethanol boondoggle will force better land use policies (regulations), in time for a truly economically-driven expansion of (solid) bio-fuels.

Perhaps I am being simplistic, but doesn't it make more sense in the short term to adapt our engines to the biofuels, rather than the other way around? It seems that we are seeking to force square pegs into round holes.

Yeah, I would agree. Adoption of electrified rail is the round peg for the round hole. Some of that electricity may come from large bio-mass fed generators. Still, I expect most of the bio-fuel will feed household furnaces, and in the case of more socially and intellectually advanced regions, small co-generation plants providing district or industrial heating and electricity.

OlePossom, that may be a long term strategy but it could not possibly be a short term strategy as you suggest. It takes about 15 years to completely replace our automobile fleet. So unless you expect all automobile companies to completely change their fleet next year, and everyone to buy a new car next year,... Well, you get the picture.

On the other hand if we had a biofuel that everyone could run their car on today, all they would have to do is pull up to the pump and fill her up.

Ron Patterson

Most fuel injection cars can be retrofitted for not too much money to burn E85. I seem to recall figures like $150/car. Essentially a few fuel lines may need to be replaced and the computer's fuel tables must be altered to allow the burning of E85, along with a sensor to allow the computer to determine how much of an ethanol blend is in the fuel.

I'm personally more interested in retrofits with motorcycle engines or electric motors, but those are MUCH more expensive. :)

Doesn't E85 rot seals and fuel lines and such?

I guess one nice thing about being out here in the Red State Asteroid Belt is, no E85. And when/if I return to the Bay Area, it's bicycle for me and that can run on pure ethanol. Especially in cold weather. This type of bicycle fuel is also very contamination-tolerant, such as the worm in good tequila, or whatever it is they put in Jager.

15 years to turn over the fleet is still more than 6% per year- more than all but the most pessimistic estimates of the decline rate of oil (elm has upwards of 20% in the last few years though)

Rethinking the Fall of Easter Island

New evidence points to an alternative explanation for a civilization's collapse
Terry L. Hunt

Summary: rats and Europeans.

Rats and Europeans caused a 90% dieoff of the Hawaiians. Easter Island being very small, the even greater dieoff and devastation* may be simply a product of the island being so small and having less "inertia". There are also psychic effects, the average Hawaiian found her world turned upside-down, even with the restrictive kapus and capricious chiefs, it was THEIR world, and its rapid destruction brought on suicide, infanticide, revenge killings, and people just plain sitting down and refusing to live any more. The Hawaiian's (and other Pacific peoples') ability to just lie down and stop living, to be dead in 2-3 days crops up in the literature of the European invaders of the time quite often.

*Hawaii, even Oahu, has huge areas with no one living there. There are huge areas where people lived 100+ years ago and not now.

They still cut the last one down, no?

I'm confused about the continual obsession with the Easter Island Collapse.

Whether the Rapanui settled Easter Island in 1200 AD or 900 AD what difference does it make? Whether they collapsed because of European germs and rats or the human habitation denuded the local environment or a combination of the two is rhetorical. Most anthropologists would agree that the Rapanui were by no means a flowering society by the time Captain Cook and his thugs arrived to visit the remanants of this flawed environment in the 1800's.

Here are the basic facts as I understand them:

1. The island was geographically isolated.
2. The Rapanui obsession with Moai construction would have no doubt distracted from the necessary work of survival on a small finite island.
3. The construction of Moai was not in practice by the time the Europeans arrived. Many of the statues had already been destroyed. This makes common sense. When people are starving they would have retaliated against the local Big-Men. I say men because it has been documented that it was not a political monopoly. The local groups competed for status by the size of Moai that individual chiefs built.
4. The destruction of local fauna was history by the 1800's.
5. The remanants of Rapanui natives were already in starvation by the time of the European arrival. No doubt they would have been able to put up little resistance to either germs or steel.
6. Whether the rats overwhelemed the few remaining trees (if there were any left by this time) or not is irrelevant.

There is a long held notion that indigenous peoples are somehow noble and are far wiser stewards of the environment than evil Europeans. This notion is patently false.

The historical precedent is simple: Humans, without exception, are an invasive species and are largely destructive to local environments.[**sustainable societies are hunter gatherers. The introduction of farming spurred modern civilizations 10 to 12 thousand years ago.]

The warning of the Easter Island collapse for earthlings is this:

We are a small, isolated and finite planet with no neighbors and the local big-men (nations) compete for finite resources and hegemony.

Will we overwhelm our local environment, the earth? Probably.

Hard to post any insightful analysis given the info in the article. It would be interesting to have some details on the process, the real energy requirements (and EROEI), the catalyst involved, etc.

I'm sure Mr. Rapier knows something about the process. As always I would like to hear his insight on it.

First of all, just "Robert", please. "Mr. Rapier" has an odd feel for me.

If you look at cellulose - and I recently wrote about this in one of my essays here - there are several avenues of attack that could turn that cellulose into something like hexane or other C4-C6 molecules in the gasoline range. My thoughts were that a thermochemical process had the highest probability of success, and it sounds like what they have done. Whether or not this breakthrough is significant, from my perspective it is important that we have some sort of breakthrough in this area - and I don't believe that will be via the historical fermentation route for cellulosic ethanol. That avenue - in my opinion - is a commerical dead end.

I do agree with the poster who bemoaned the ICE. We are going to have to transition away from these for personal transportation. But long-range transport will continue to have a need for liquid fuels. And there is a lot of biomass that is truly waste and currently going to landfills that could be utilized for some energy via some sort of cellulosic process.

This process doesn't differ from other biofuel processes in using biomass (less than 0.1% sunlight to cellulose efficiency) as the feedstock, for the purpose of fuelling an internal combustion engine (5-25% efficient), usually to drive a rubber-tire vehicle. If the process is 55% efficient at making biofuel vs 45% for the competition, it makes little difference to the overall process.

I am not opposed to "biofuel crops". They will soon be seen as "polymer crops" to replace petrochemical feedstocks, and will do so efficiently, compared to any alternative (look into Cargill's biopolymer process).

From what I can gather, it seems they're using flash pyrolysis of biomass. The whole reaction only takes a few seconds. The products are typically liquids (bio-oil, what the person in the article is likely holding for the camera), syngas (hydrogen and carbon monoxide) and charcoal.

Slow pyrolysis has been around for many thousands of years: it's just the process by which dry wood is turned into charcoal. The byproducts of slow pyrolysis are tar and syngas, which is usually just vented. Flash pyrolysis normally involves heating dry biomass to about 400 C very quickly; the non-equilibrium nature of the reaction drives the product towards liquids rather than gas. The resulting liquid cannot be used in a typical gasoline or diesel engine, and is not miscible with petroleum. It can however be burned directly in a modified diesel generator, and as a lighting/heating fuel. Further processing of the bio-oil can potentially yield a gasoline substitute, but this seems far from economical for the time being.

Personally, I see a lot of promise in flash pyrolysis. It's a low-tech procedure that produces a liquid fuel (albeit a much less useful one than crude oil). It think of all the energy lost in our massive forest fires--a direct result of not tending to our forests--which could be sustainably harvested, mostly through removal of dead matter. This is no substitute for crude oil, as it doesn't scale; but it may become a local solution for communities in the future.

"which could be sustainably harvested, mostly through removal of dead matter."

The dead matter must remain in the forest, or you won't have a sustainable harvest. Forest soils gotta eat, too.

and fires are a normal part of the life cycle of forests.

In "Thaw exposes Greenland's oil":

"Oil companies have begun looking for crude deposits off the west coast, and Joern Skov Nielsen, deputy director of Greenland's Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum, said there may be more oil there than the entire past production of the North Sea. That's about 50 billion barrels, according to figures from Norway and Britain, the region's biggest producers."

How much prospecting has been done?

Heard on the BBC news a couple of days ago: "It is estimated there is twice as much oil in the Arctic as in the whole of Saudi Arabia"

50 billion barrels, says the director of Petroleum. No vested interest there... BBC says maybe 500 billion. Yikes! The fact is nobody knows at this point.

The Caspian Basin, as of the late 90's, was "expected" to hold more than 200 billion barrels. Now that we've looked, what's the current estimate? 12? 15?

Even if all that oil is there, it'll take a decade at least to BEGIN pumping it out. And the financial costs, as well as the cost in energy, will be huge and probably prohibitive at that point.

There is the same problem with all biofuels. Production costs will rise, particularly the energy needed to run whatever the process is.

What I expect to see, and it'll be sooner rather than later if/when we bomb Iran, is that we are simply going to run out of gasoline. Pumps closed. Everyone stay where you are and try to cope. And theoretical oil under the ground in Greenland, or knowing that your lawn clippings COULD be turned into a little "gasahol", won't make any difference.

Even if all that oil is there, it'll take a decade at least to BEGIN pumping it out. And the financial costs, as well as the cost in energy, will be huge and probably prohibitive at that point.

There is the same problem with all biofuels. Production costs will rise, particularly the energy needed to run whatever the process is.

costs will be prohibitive at some point but that's when prices are LOW and not high like they are now. going forward peak oil will make prices go up and make marginal projects profitable not the other way around. I was reading about the canadian oil sands and how people didn't think they'd ever get oil out of there because the price of oil was so low that it didn't pay.

my point is with high oil prices the oil companies are the one's who will have the financial were withal.

Funny, some of the stories I've read lately about the TAR(!) sands are about shrinking profit margins because of increasing production costs. Running out of that "low-hanging fruit" already, tsk tsk.

Please note that the quote above starts with "if all that oil is there". Which it isn't. So....never mind...

The era of personal tranportation is drawing to a close, except for the very richest. They'll lose out too, eventually.

Running out of that "low-hanging fruit" already, tsk tsk.

what costs are you talking about? labor or something else? what that just means is that the oil price needs to go up. it's probably just a short-term problem.

It takes a powerful heat source to convert tar-coated sand into oil. Natural gas was supposed to be the solution, but under NAFTA Canada must sell a certain % of its natural gas to the US in perpetuity, and there's not enough left over without importing LPG, which isn't easy right now. The native peoples also aren't thrilled about more gas pipelines snaking across their property. Since Albertans didn't warm up to the idea of using a nuclear reactor to heat tar, the value of the tar sands is chasing the cost of the fossil fuels that went into them plus a buccaneer's profit margin.

Good comment...

But when you said "a buccaneer's profit margin" I couldn't help thinking of subsidized corn ethanol...

sorry, sorry...

Actually, that's a good point. Tar sands investment must compete with other kinds of investments. Corn ethanol is in the same trap: its price competes against the price of the very energy inputs that go into its production. But the subsidy might create a certainty of profit that is not guaranteed for tar sands. So the money goes to Iowa instead of Alberta. When a buccaneer's profit margin were to be found in sleazy mortgage bonds and currency swaps, then the money went there, but I guess folks are jumping out of that stuff now. Question now is, will the amount of money to be lost in the current meltdown destroy the wealth of investors faster than they will transfer it from financials to unconventional energy?

Good comment and I'm glad you made it. In this case, though, you give my comment too much credit.

This morning my sleepy mind thought "a buck an ear's profit margin" was perhaps a target price for pro-corn-ethanol lobbyists...

hence my "sorry, sorry..."

I promise not to do it again.... probably....

Let's just hope someone doesn't get the bright idea of using corn ethanol to provide the heat to process tar sands.

Heh. If there's money involved it's sure to cross someone's mind...

Well John, OIL is just a short-term problem, after all. Problem is, Oil, that deteriorating plastic hose-pipe is currently the umbilical that western civilization is breathing though from our submerged perch. So far the leaks have been minor and patchable.

The Markets don't hold much sway with the laws of Physics.

The margin-of-error is thinning. The time available for corrections is thinning. Market 'Self-corrections' are not suitable tools to address this.

Well John, OIL is just a short-term problem, after all. Problem is, Oil, that deteriorating plastic hose-pipe is currently the umbilical that western civilization is breathing though from our submerged perch. So far the leaks have been minor and patchable.

peak oil is not peak energy. I think we forget that sometimes.

John15 "peak oil is not peak energy. I think we forget that sometimes."

No, I think we're now remembering it now...for the first time.

It's always useful to remember Hubbert's original 1956 work, when he found that a one-third increase in Lower 48 URR postponed the projected peak by all of five years.

In George Bush's first four term, worldwide we consumed about 10% of all crude oil ever consumed. In his second term, based on Deffeyes' work, we will consume about 10% of all remaining conventional crude oil reserves.

Any way you slice it, achieving an infinite increase in the consumption of a finite resource base tends to be difficult to achieve.

Rice hits a record high for the 4th day in a row: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news pid=20601080&sid=ahRifIz3hjh0&refer=asia

The Rice Shortage and agricultural policy: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/mindfeeds/mindfeeds/view_article.php?ar...

Wheat supplies projected to decline: http://www.kansasfarmer.com/index.aspx?ascxid=fpStory&fpsid=33123&fpstid=2

Thousands march in Haiti seeking food: http://www.radiojamaica.com/content/view/7034/88/

Indian wheat harvest projected lower than expected: http://www.commodityonline.com/news/topstory/newsdetails.php?id=7134

Half of all Pakistanis risk Starvation according to WFP:


Rice races to record high - Business Analysis & Features, Business ...

The price of rice – the staple foodstuff for more than 8 billion people around the world – has shot up by more than a half in just two weeks. ...

Eight billion?

Perhaps those countries for which rice is a staple diet have been neglecting to tell us something over the last few decades in regards to their actual census results... ;-)

Rice is apparently the staple food for approximately 3 billion people (although some sources claim more than half the world's population – 4 billion?)

First link corrected here.

Hi Sharon,

Hearing this and similar news reported on the radio makes it closer, somehow...


Hello Aniya,

Great link--kudos to you! Yikes: 300% in Sierra Leone--that has got to cause tremendous fear and worry into the heart of every parent. :(

EDIT: I might add further....even if that parent fully understands Peak Everything, prices rising that fast must still cause heart-attacks at the cashier/checkout line!

News from EIA Conference

Matt Simmons presented what I consider the latest incarnation of his normal peak oil presentation. Peter Jackson, for his part, didn't really challenge Matt Simmons and Robert Nehring provided a few comments at the end which hinted that his view was that there were surprises on the horizon.

Notably, one of the questions from the audience referred to the four breakthroughs in the oil industry and Peter Jackson didn't acknowledge them and in fact tried to downplay them while admitting he did not know what constituted the four breakthroughs. Nehring knew, Simmons knew, and the audience member knew.

In addition, Daniel Yergin also skated around the Peak Oil issue in his address to the audience earlier in the morning.

I'll post more notes on the EIA conference later. Congressman Dingle just completed his address

What are the "four breakthroughs in the oil industry" supposed to refer to?

The four new break throughs:
Exxon "gets" Peak Oil
BP "gets" Peak Oil
Chevron "gets" Peak Oil
Shell "gets" Peak Oil

Ah, we can but dream...

Shell does. Chevron does (willyoujoinus.com). I'm not sure about BP. But EXXON?

Hi Paulus,

They might "get it". The thing is - do their adverts really convey "it" to the populace?

Some question there.

It might refer to the fact that there are now four economists who've realized that even in the face of vast price increases, oil production has stagnated, even declined. One of the four, Jeffery Rubin seems to be fine, but the other three are apparently on meds trying to deal with the mental dislocation caused by this violation of economic law.

Jokes aside about four economists, the four breakthroughs (with some overlap obviously) are:

1) greater drilling depths in deepwater (the technology associated with that);
2) steerable and drilling technology that allows horizontal wells 9including mutilevel draining of the various layers:
3) computer technology (i.e., 3-D and 4-D evaluation of seismic data); and
4) enhanced oil recovery technology that allows more recovery or faster recovery (fracturing tight formations was given as an example).

It should be noted that day 1 really focused on technological answers to the problems (though few new technologies were really discussed). Matt Simmons pointed out that as a financier of the oil services sector, there are no new technologies on the drawing board that are going to save the day and the ones that we can point to in the past took between 10-20 years before being commonly deployed in the field.

Congressman Dingle and Senator Domenici were up this morning, as well as some of the Congressional staff most ly speaking about global warming and the interface with energy. Seems we've gone from there is no global warming to we shouldn't do anything because the US will have no effect (China is now a bigger emitter than the US) and that everything we can do will hurt the economy.

Party on, Dude!!!!

More later.

Thanks for the clarification. I'm not sure how they would have figured into a question for Jackson. Of course he is aware of these developments (which is what I would consider them rather than breakthroughs) but since they are old news now I don't see them changing anything substantially looking ahead. They are just part of the ongoing production system at this point.

It's remarkable how ominous "Could lead to war" still sounds to us..

Is there really going to be a WAR about all this? Surely no!

"The Europeans saw great potential to exploit the resources of the weakening empire (Ottoman), irrigation could transform agriculture, there were chrome, antimony lead and zinc mines and some coal. Not least there was potentially vast amounts of oil. As early as 1871 a commission of experts studied the geology of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and reported plentiful oil of good quality, but commented that poor transportation made it doubtful these fields could compete with Russian and American ones. During 1901 a German report announced the region had a veritable "lake of petroleum" of almost inexhaustible supply. .."

"..In 1919, the Treaty of Versailles cancelled all German rights to the Baghdad Railway. However, the Deutsche Bank transferred its holdings to a Swiss bank."

"..The British Army had completed the southeastern section from Baghdad to Basra, so that part was under British control. The French held negotiations to obtain some degree of control over the central portion of the railway, and Turkish interests controlled the oldest sections that had been constructed inside of Turkey, but talks continued to be held after 1923. The American involvement in the Near East began in 1923 when Turkey approved the Chester concession, which aroused disapprovals from France and the United Kingdom."

Why learn from History? Repeating it is MUCH more fun! (EDIT)

Where did Britain send its first expeditionary force after it joined the First World War? Basra! Eventually, a million Britons served in the Middle East theater. Apparently some things were more important than breaking that trench stalemate a few miles from Paris. I recall reading that Britain conquered Mosul from the Turks in December 1918 - a month after the war ended!

Where did Britain send its first expeditionary force after it joined the First World War? Basra!

And they were the ones that first approached Truman to overthrow the Elected Leader of Iran. Truman said NO.

A year later(1953) a "New On the Job" Ike said yes. And with our CIA help, We got BRITISH PETROLEUM and as an extra bonus, The Shah Of Iran. (and later the Savak.... and 1979)

The Beat Goes On

I actually know people who believe that oil had nothing to do with war in Iraq.
They would also, no doubt, think that Britain, the US, etc. were blame free and just defending democracy in both World Wars. People like comfortable views.

This is an (intentionally?) irritating post. I have read TOD from its start, as well as much else on peak for the last 8 years, and I have no idea what you are talking about, while I am very interested in the EIA conference. I hope your later posts aren't so obscure.


It's lunchtime and I just sat through the Summer 2008 fuels update (which included a discussion of ethanol), that suggests that oil prices will climb ever higher through the 3rd Quarter (Lehman Brothers), or 4th Quarter (Guy Caruso, EIA) which means fuel prices will average $3.74/gal for diesel and $3.54/gal gasoline. Of course, regional and short-term variations can differ substantially.

More later

I was there for that one. Guy Caruso mentioned refiners might produce more diesel and less gasoline because of the higher margins. The Lehman analyst mentioned new 4-5 mbpd coming online worldwide by 2009 - some guy from ConocoPhillips asked where that was going to come from (lol).

The thing that did not get asked by anyone, including the Conoco representative, is how that increase plays against the declines elsewhere in the world. Andy didn't address that in his answer, nor did he discuss it during either of his presentations.

But at least he could point to projects and some specific capacities.

Did you notice the new NGL numbers in that 4-5 MMBPD increase? About 800,000 BPD. All from Saudi Arabia?

As the beer commercial goes....Dude?

From Oil peak theorist warns of chaos, war:

Oil shortages "could lead to social chaos and war," he warned. "The issue is the most serious risk to sustaining the 21st century. Peak oil is real, and we have to take it seriously." He argued that production of conventional crude peaked in May, 2005, at 74 million barrels a day.

Since then, the world has met rising consumption – now at about 88-million barrels a day – by cutting inventories, tapping natural gas liquids that typically are included in crude production figures and using better refinery efficiencies.

These two consecutive paragraphs might lead the lay reader to assume there is little to worry about... 'hey we've gone from 74 to 88 million in less than three years.' The writer should have noted the total liquids figure for May 2005 to better illustrate just how little growth in supply has taken place.

You are correct. EIA data show, through 2007, a C+C decline rate of -0.3%/year relative to 2005, comparable to the initial two year Lower 48 decline of -0.8%/year.

The EIA shows three straight years, 2005, 2006 & 2007, of flat total liquids production (84.6 mbpd). The IEA is showing some estimates of a higher total liquids rate for early 2008, but we shall have to see what the revised numbers and the annual data show. IMO, we should basically ignore the early IEA estimates and just compare apples to apples--EIA to IEA data, as the EIA data are released.

Bakken report release Thursday


Dorgan says the study is to be released Thursday. He says it will estimate the amount of oil that is recoverable in the Bakken using current technology.

Anyone care to guess what the number will be?

Tens of thousands of billions of barrels of oil.

Ok, I assume that is an attempt to discredit whatever tomorrows report says. I was going to guess 58 billion.

Recoverable reserves are not the issue. Canadian tarsands have huge recoverable reserves. What matters is how fast can you get it out, and for what energy costs (and water, in the case of tar sands).

Let it just be clear to you that any viable production rate from Bakken will have hardly any influence on the overall energy picture, if at all.

next time i go to fill up i will ask for gas made from technically recoverable reserves. i could save a bundle.

No, I am a proponent of the "new physics", which suggests that we can recover more than 100% of Original Oil In Place, from a fractured shale with near zero matrix permeability.

Thanks for proving my point by making another ridiculous statement. Looks like plenty of folks are having great success:


Not bad for a fractured shale with a zero matrix permeability.

Anonymous said...

Oil company only expects to recover 10-15% of that oil with the present technology at hand. I suspect that 10 years down the road we will see the recovery nearing 50% or better with new advances, + $200.00 per barrel of oil.

Comment Permalink

We're saved! =D

More CO2 into the atmosphere!! Yippeee........

People who truly understand the current situation on Planet Earth should be rooting AGAINST oil discoveries.

A quite valid position to espouse. Be nice if there was some left if any of our descendents need a little, and the longer we stretch out discovery, the less-bad the malthusan train wreck will be. Coal is a bugger, though.

I once was a well-paid doodlebugger and quit to be an unpaid treehugger: an oil industry conscientious objector?

If accessible oil is discovered this century, it will be oxidized for no really good reason from a planetary point of view, and will do definite harm.

(edited to obsessively correct a typo. OCD is a terrible thing to waste)

Where were you three years ago when Westexas was one of the pioneers at this site putting an enormous amount of effort explaining with figures and charts why we were headed for big trouble - which has since materialized? Did you even bother to read his articles back then? Have you even once acknowledged the logic behind the Export Land Model - that the oil-haves will keep burning more of what they've got? He spent day after day repeating his arguments to get people to prepare for financial trouble - which is now materializing. Who did you help by encouraging complacency?

LOL! We are hardly yet in "big trouble", and Westexas has not been the only guy predicting "big trouble". Every doomer and his dog has been doing that. The "financial trouble" is pretty unrelated to ELM anyway.

"encouraging complacency"

Yeah, like that needs encouragement. This is like the boy who cried wolf complaining to the villagers.

The "financial trouble" is pretty unrelated to ELM anyway.

I used to say that the decline in oil exports was the match that started the mortgage meltdown fire, but what allowed suburbia to flourish in the first place was cheap imported oil. And instead of a smooth symmetrical decline, the mathematical model and recent data suggest a very steep asymmetrical decline in net oil exports--a decline that is much steeper than the fairly steady increase in oil exports prior to 2005.

The key point about the ELM is that net export decline rates tend to accelerate with time, and as forced energy conservation moves up the food chain, energy costs as a percentage of income fall, requiring an accelerating increase in energy prices in order to equalize supply and demand. IMO, these two factors have interacted to cause the 50%/year increase in oil prices that we have seen in the past six months. If this rate of increase falls to "only" 24%/year, it would still result in a doubling every three years, with obvious accelerating deleterious effects on suburbia.

Our top five net exports forecast:


And your favorite graph (published in early 2006):


With 2006 and 2007 data points:


Egypt, Zimbabwe and Haiti are in big trouble.
Please help by solving their problems.
Use only domestic resources and capital.
Use any technology that exists today.
Be a hero. People are dying early.
Are the problems directly PO related? No.
But it doesn’t make the problems easy to solve.

If we can’t solve Egypt, how are we going to solve things here?
I really want you to succeed. No sangfroid here.

Or suggest how Saudi Arabia could convert to solar power, freeing all fossil fuels for export. If one nation can wean itself from fossil fuel, then the rest of us might.

Prove the ELM wrong. Please. I will personally buy you three cases of imported beer, one each from Westexas, Khebab, and Mr. Simmons if you can prove the ELM wrong. Just get one nation, any nation, to wean itself from fossil fuel, become an energy exporter, and maintain present quality of life.

Or show us how an individual can convert to renewable alternatives, maintain his present lifestyle (or some semblance), produce 50% excess power to help the rest of us, within a reasonable budget. We will follow. Tell us how to succeed.

Or start a scalable alternative energy company that produces energy more cheaply than fossil fuel competitors. You could make a bloody fortune.

Cold Camel

If we can’t solve Egypt, how are we going to solve things here?
Or suggest how Saudi Arabia could convert to solar power, freeing all fossil fuels for export.

What is interesting - there is elements of the US Government who have issues over Iran having fission reactors. Now I've asked for clarification from the pro-fission crowd over in the thorium post.

Only one meaningful response. If you expect some sorta plan to help other nations/people - you will be depressed. Sorry.

Please help by solving their problems.
Use only domestic resources and capital.

those are conditions that have no basis in the real world. most of those problems are simply man made. Egypt has been keeping food prices artificially low for years and mugabe has caused hyperinflation. in the end the market forces will eventually take over anyways. zimbabwe hyperinflation will probably just burn itself out.

those are conditions that have no basis in the real world.

Ok. Prove it.

Prove that someone, in the "real world", can not opt to choose only domestic resources and capital.

why would we have to solve a problem using only domestic resources and capital? we're in a global economy last time I looked.

And why is domestic a reasonable boundary? If economic interrelationship at the level of the globe is wrong, why is a whole country right? Shouldn't we solve the problem using only resources within one town, one family, or just doing it all alone?

Presented this way, it is obvious. One person, or even one town could not produce enough to obtain anywhere near modern standards of living. In fact, no country can. But the world can and does. It works and will keep working. Nobody is going to shut off trade.

The export land model is extremely insightful, but that doesn't mean there is any value in extrapolating it into the future forever. There is a point at which the marginal barrel of oil is more useful as an export than for local consumption. This point can shift to favor one side or the other. It does seem that it has shifted towards domestic as local demand goes up, but this can't go on forever. There is a point at which the average citizen of Saudi Arabia decides that unlimited driving while starving to death is a bad option.

Also much of what the model terms "domestic consumption" is not domestic consumption at all. Say KSA builds a massive petrochemical plant that takes supply from a US plant and shuts it down. The model would say that domestic consumption of energy is up and net exports down. However, the global markets for petrochem products are unaffected - they are just supplied from a different source. If the model is to be taken seriously this adjustment probably needs to be made. The petrochem plant would only be a reduction in net exports if KSA increased its petrochemical consumption. But that would apply equally even if the plant was still in the US.

So if Saudi citizens decide they want to drive all day and build huge piles of petrochemicals, while starving to death, then we have a problem. Otherwise we don't.

If all the were doing with domestic consumption was "driving more and making petrochemicals" then you might have a point, but the oil doesn't pump itself of the ground it requires energy to do so. In a situation were the EROEI of oil is decreasing the Domestic consumption is going to be increased by that. Does anyone have a figure on how much of Saudi Domestic consumption is used in their primary industry?

eric blair and john15 , none of you understood Cold Camel's gist directed towards BobCousins.

The nerve in Cold Camel's post was to appeal/provocate BobCousins to cough up some solutions to what will come ("big trouble"), instead of his aimless trolling around waving his hands all the time .... Whether ELM has already seriously kicked in or not is completely irrelevant, the core point in Westexas' ELM is that it will happen (sooner rather than later). Personally I believe it is in effect as we speak.

BobCousins denies that "big trouble" is a factor today, but Cold Camel pointed him in a direction of such, Haiti etc.... then BobCousins went mute.

I am not defending BobCousins, but think you have overestimated the value, if any, of Cold Camel's response.

BC said that just pointing to problems without linking them to peak oil proves nothing. This is obviously correct as there have always been problems. Then Cold Camel listed more problems without linking them to peak oil.

You can pick any time in history and point to areas of the world where people are starving or governments are collapsing. If just citing Haiti and a few others now is enough to prove that the end is near, then should famines of the past in Ethiopia, China, Ireland prove that the end has already happened?

It seems the the trolling is done by the "doom behind every tree" crowd who happily put bad terms into Google, then point to the large number of replies as proof the world is getting worse, when all it really proves is that search is getting better.

I don’t know Jack , I guess it’s all about our individual perception of “things” . My view is different from yours and so forth.. Past famines were not peak oil related; I think we agree on that. Now, when peak oil has worked for some decades we -the 7 -10 billions of people - will live through the downward spiraling of things (my guess) and those who live shall see what will happen. I think it may get ugly, SO my take today is; let’s practice now and see how well we can do with less. Is this stupid in lieu of a possible peak plus/minus today? Or do “we” need universal super proof before we lift any fingers?

BTW, when do you reckon you may be I trouble: “when a bullet with your name on it leaves the barrel or when it penetrates your heart?”

(this Q is namely the speedy version of things to come ... as I see it .. and I see challenges either ways)

Ah, our views might be more similar than you think. When you say "I think it may get ugly", the words could have come from my mouth. However, I would have followed them by saying "but then again, it may not".

I don't think the future can be predicted and see those who are firmly in the ideological optimist camp and those in the ideological pessimist camp as both being self-deluded. That does not mean that I deny the possibility of a very bad outcome. You bullet analogy is apt. There is a big potential problem with our names on it and I don't argue with the warning "duck!"

However, I don't think it is remotely clear that problems in Haiti, Zimbabwe, or the others frequently cited here are "peak oil related". Neither do I think it is clear at all that "things" are worse than before. Again, I agree that this comes down to perception, but note that perception is much weaker than data.

I don't doubt that any given internet search for bad things yields more bad things than the search did a few years ago. Again, I see that as being caused by improvements in search, rather than a deterioration of "things". I would welcome any evidence to the contrary, but will in the meantime consider Bob Shaw and the rest of the TOD google beavers to be wasting quite a lot of energy.

I respect your views and don't think I can prove you wrong, even within the range of a reasonable doubt. But neither do I think you can prove that it won't all work out. The future is not subject to this sort of examination.

I support any analytical-based attempt to examine energy issues and societal problems. However, it seems to me that the level of conviction exhibited among doomers here (and optimists elsewhere) is vastly disproportionate to the evidence that they are able to muster. It is faith, not a theory.

Hi Jack! I can agree with some of your takes on ”things”. Personally I don’t see myself as being a doomer but rather a “Controlled-Downscale NOW”- kind of thinker. I imagine this world being on top of the BTU-pinnacle about now, so roughly there is only one way from here; down. This ride can be either controlled or uncontrolled.

You imply that the troubles in Haiti, Zimbabwe, et al are not Peak Oil related – I’d say quite the opposite. These lands have seen their maximum utilization of oil in their history for this or that reason – AND they face the consequences every single day and thus there will be more mud-cakes in the years to come … Use Google Earth zoom in on Haiti and add your imaginations for this place in 2030 … (round about the time CERA say we will peak)

What did millions of Zimbabweans do when the going strted to get though? They left for better places across some borders … but the really big question here is : What happens when there are no prosperous borderlines to cross?

I would argue that the problems Zimbawe, at least, is NOT peak oil related. It is pretty clear that the mess there was created by a typical tin pot meglomaniac dictator. I don't deny that Haiti is a mess, that people will flee or that finding refuge for them will not be easy. But this is no different from Ethiopia, thirty years ago.

There have been horrors on this planet for millions of years and there will be horrors for as long as we dwell on it. I still do not see any real evidence that now is worse than before or that peak oil is responsible for creating problems anywhere near the level of pain mankind inflicts on itself regularly. That doesn't mean it won't, but it does mean that being committed to the belief that "things" are are worse than they ever have been and are getting worse, is a faith-based proposition.

I didn't intend to call you or doomer or to box you into any category. I hope we are all trying to think this out logically and come to the best conclusions for bettering the world and our own condition. I have never said that I think you are wrong, but I do hope so.

Or show us how an individual can convert to renewable alternatives, maintain his present lifestyle (or some semblance), produce 50% excess power to help the rest of us, within a reasonable budget.

In the first 3 months of this year, I have used 500 kWh (goal >3,000 kWh for the year), and I could have reduces that in my apartment.

I am waiting to build a garage apartment (about 650 inhabited sq ft plus as much for storage) at a prime location 4 blocks from where I now live. Passiv Haus details (R-50 walls, "tight" building envelope, high efficiency heat pump) and minimal solar PV.

Construction cost perhaps $120,000, exclusive of land I already own.

Rough details are annual consumption of 1,300 kWh and enough solar PV to meet that should be affordable (part of $120 K) with a modest surplus.

I would prefer multi-family housing, but site does not allow that (tear down 1920s galvanized metal garage replaced by 2 story garage apt).

Zimbabwe is quite soluble. One measure I would suggest is creating a regional partnership that included Angola and South Africa. Zimbabwe could specialize in food production (as they once did). Strict autarky works for no one (except maybe Russia).

Best Hopes,



In your location, the Passiv Haus standard of R-50 walls (and roof?) is serious overkill. That much insulation means a wall that is about 15 inches thick, if fiberglass is used. Don't forget that the R-value of windows is much lower and the NET R-value is what's important. Also, there's the foundation to consider, as that's a heat loss (or gain) as well.

A very big problem with super insulation is the vapor barrier, which must be placed inside the the wall. the proper location is such that the temperature never drops below the dew point on the warm side of the wall, which, in summer would be the outside. You might be far better off using foamed in place insulation with a lower R-value, which would create a vapor barrier on each side of the wall and provide a tight seal against infiltration. You really don't want condensation within a well sealed wall, as the wood will rot rather quickly, especially so in a warm climate.

Around here, construction costs are said to run about $100/ft2, the result of an increase since the housing boom. For comparison, checkout the cost of a 1,000 ft2 doublewide. Save your money, it looks like you (and everybody else) are going to need it...

E. Swanson

Hi Alan,

Congratulations on your very modest electricity consumption; an average of 5.5 kWh/day is a significant accomplishment given that this includes the operation of your heat pump during the peak of heating season.

With respect to your future plans, I'm wondering how your design will allow you to insulate the exterior walls to R50 -- double wall construction I take it? Also, have you determined how much energy you will save by advancing to R50 versus R25 say? Given the relatively modest size of the space, the selection of a high efficiency heating and cooling system and expected passive solar gains, weighed against the added construction costs, is there any economic justification to support this higher number? Along these same lines, is R50 optimal in terms of the embodied energy of the additional materials versus what would be saved over the expected life of the building?


I copied the chart into a spreadsheet and totaled the bopd. It came to 13,752 barrels per day for the entire Bakken Shale. That comes to .068% of the daily consumption in the US. If we only had 1,452 more of these Bakken like fields then we would energy independent.

Total cumulative production for the field is 1,937,131 barrels. That is just a tad over two hours use for the United States.

Ron Patterson

Thanks for the link.

The chart given at this blog's daily header shows that the average well (of 22 wells shown) is producing 287 barrels per day after an average of nearly a year's production. Many of these wells are declining 25% to 50% from initial month's production. This rapid decline of the average well does not mean that they will continue this rate of decline, but it does mean that perhaps additional work must be done to keep the flow rates acceptable. More fracturing required?

If the Bakken formation is to produce 1 million barrels per day, then several thousand wells must be drilled (about 4000 if average production is 250 bpd). At current cost of around $10 million per well the capital cost of this production is $40 billion. Throw in cost of pipelines, storage tanks, roads, and electric supply and the cost would be much higher. But the 4 to 10 billion barrels of oil recovered will be worth that investment.

Big question is how fast can this be brought on line? We need the Bakken's 1 mbpd in two or thee years, but I bet it takes ten or fifteen years to get to this rate.

In post peak regions, oil companies can make money and put people to work, but they can't make a real difference, and I expect nonconventional oil and gas plays to simply slow the rate of decline.

"I was going to guess 58 billion."

i dont have a guess, i wouldn't doubt that the usgs says 58 billion, actual recovery may vary.

58 billion: 2 permian basins -or- 1 all of texas(cumulative) -or- about 0.58 ghawars, seems "a little" on the HIGH side (makes one wonder what they are smoking in the mile HIGH city)

I prefer tens of hundreds of thousands of millions of billions of barrels - because it covers all the important numbers, from ten to a billion. It's just good marketing.

An infinite amount...due to the discovery of a worm hole that runs from the earth's liquid oil core to one of Saturns recently discovered moons, named Oily. Oily is a liquid ball of sweet, light, crude. Saturn is spinning off oil continually through some unknown process that replenishes the supply on Oily.

Upon hearing of the recent discovery of Oily, the members of OPEC said in a joint communique 'Oui Vey, da bagle place is fer klemft.'




How about a Gazillion? or ten Gazillion?

Whatever the number is, it will never pan out. However, if it is a big enough number to cause the neocons to lose some interest in the middle east, then that would definitely be a good thing.

"Bakken report release Thursday"

from your link:

"In 1995, the Geological Survey estimated the amount of recoverable oil in the Bakken at 151 million barrels"

through 2007, the bakken had produced 43 million barrels in north dakota. 2007 production was 7.4 million barrels from 457 wells (producing at year end). do the math.


"For years, U.S. oil exploration has been considered a dead end. Even the "Big Oil" companies gave up searching for major oil wells decades ago. However, a recent technological breakthrough has opened up the Bakken's massive reserves... and we now have access of up to 500 billion barrels."

I sure hope this is true, and I hope we can move to a future that won't be a collapse. For those who wish this will not happen, I really have to wonder why you would want to see so much harm come to so many people. We need to look at this deposit as not to keep the party going, but energy that will allow us to calmly and rationally move to a different economy. But in order to do that both the US and Canada will need to stop immigration, put taxes on large families and start a slow ratcheting down of the economy. Just cutting us off oil cold turkey will put millions out of work, kill millions from starvation and freezing.

If your concerns are to hell with people but preserve the climate, you better think again what you are asking of people.


From http://www.angelnexus.com/o/web/4976

Hmm 503 billion barrels recoverable. Obviously if they know the amount to 3 significant figures it must be right!

Ron, they are just talking North Dakota and the Bakken is huge take a look at this presentation by Petrobank bottom of the page 7 mg. The Bakken info is up front in the presentation several slides including a sensitivity showing incredible IRR on the wells. A very good set of info on the THAI process is towards the back. I am talking at least 100 billion barrels of drillable resource that will yield the 10-15% of the OOIP. That figure is also supported in the document. Another company reporting similar figures is Enerplus. Enerplus is currently producing 12,000 bpd in the Bakken and is expanding production and property acquisitions.

I think the Bakken will be a slow producer maybe 15 billion barrels over a long long period of time. Heck thats still only a couple of years demand for the U.S. or 6 months for the world.


Also from the Petrobank:

The Bakken play is relatively new in Canada, but has been highly successful in the United States portion of the basin where, since 2000, drilling activity has increased dramatically and geologists with the United States Geological Survey are now estimating 413 billion barrels of original oil-in-place in the Bakken. In Canada, Bakken activity has been more limited, starting only in 2004 with about seven rigs working continuously versus approximately 20 rigs working the U.S. side of the play. Different players in Canada are using slightly different drilling and completion techniques, which have yielded widely different results.

from petrobank's website:

"The first four producers came on-stream at over 250 bopd and, in the first three months of production, have already produced more than 12,000 barrels per well."

ok, from this we can estimate a production profile, with a few assumptions.
producing 12000 bbls in three months starting from 250 bopd implies a rate of 58 bopd at the end of three months(assuming an exponential decline). a really steep decline.

Np= (qo-qf)*365/D
and qf=qo*e^-Dt

Np, cummulative production
qo, initial rate
qf, final rate
D, nominal decline
t, time yrs

the effective decline rate De =1 - e^-D
or D=-ln(1-De)

What rubbish. There is 1.6 trillion barrels of total bitumen in Alberta. The recoverable part is less than 20% of this. Going by this measure and taking into account that recovering from rock is much more energy expensive than from sand they will be lucky to get 5% of 500 billion.

I sure hope this is true, and I hope we can move to a future that won't be a collapse.

You mean where there won't be an oil-shortage collapse. There will just be a climate-change collapse instead.

If your concerns are to hell with people but preserve the climate

And your concern is to hell with the people, but preserve the SUVs?

I know you don't believe in that "global warming stuff", but some of us do. And those of us that DO believe in the science of greenhouse gases believe that an endless growth in greenhouse gases will ultimately result in the deaths of billions of people and countless trillions of other living creatures. You can characterize that as a concern for climate over people, but until we live in tin cans in outer space, all living creatures on earth depend on the climate for their survival. I think that really is more important than whether we can crank out enough oil to keep our unsustainable technological civilization sustained for a little longer.

I never said preserve SUVs, please do not take my comments out of context. I've been clear many times, there is lots we need to do to make our civilization ratchet down to a post carbon era, and we need oil to do that. We need to see that the stuff is going to run out and allocate what's left to changing society so we move down at a coordinated pace. It might take 50 years to get down, but at least it would not be a collapse that will kill millions.

I know most of you have been tripped up with this religion of climate alarmism. But the facts remain, you do not have one shred of evidence that any global warming caused by us will bring on the disaster the alarmists claim. Show me one peer reviewed paper that backs up these wild claims. They are purely speculative predictions only, no hard evidence. And that alarmism is getting more ridiculous and and more extreme not only in the predictions, but the bully practices aimed at keeping the orthodoxy alive.





jrwakefield posts links to denialist propaganda. For example, from the third link, we learn that Lord Monckton has found that the Stefan-Boltzmann equation has been incorrectly used in the models. Funny thing, that equation applies to thermal emissions from a solid surface, not to gases, which emit at specific frequencies. Who would have guessed?

We also learn that the notion of a "tipping point" depends on water vapor. I thought it was a problem with the ocean/sea-ice albedo at high latitudes, but why bother the business writer with science? And, there's the usual reference to the Medieval Warm Period, which may have been a local phenomena in Europe, not a global one.

There's mention of a paper by Roy Spencer, yet, is it published? It may only be available from the Heartland Institute as a non-peer reviewed pre-print.

Of course, there's the lovely graphic, with the note about "Infrared Iris" clouds, which is a reference to Lindzen's hypothesis. That hypothesis has been shown to be flawed, yet, here it is again as a reference. One question of importance is, if there is a strong negative feedback like the Infrared Iris, how did the Ice Ages happen? No answer to that obvious problem from the denialist camp.

E. Swanson

Because the science behind AGW is so strong, so settled, that the BBC has to be bullied into retracting ANY hint at any kind of possible skepticism, right? It's so settled that Al Gore has to spend $300M in advertising to spew his own non-science backed propaganda.

If the science is so settled, what are you so afraid of from skeptics who have the free right to challenge theories? Why do skeptics have to endure such bigoted hatred? Why is it that only climate science has so much turned into an Us vs Them battle?

And what scientific papers can you site that shows these alarmist predictions will become the truth? If you are going to attack a business site for posting a skeptical article because a business site does not know the science, then you need to also go after ANY non-science article that supports AGW for the same reason. Oh, but that supports your dogma, so it's OK.

Time will come, soon, that you will be eating your words.

Wow, so we really did go to Iraq to improve the quality of life, free them from the grip of tyrrany,
give them the gift of democracy, preserve the lives of the innocent, and we're really not there for their oil after all. ;^[


Lets see--7,400,000/457=16,192.56/365=44.363178bbl/d x @100/bbl=$4,436.3178 per day gross revenue. If someone knew the developmental and operational costs, we could see the general net profit per well and make some comparisons.

In 1995, the Geological Survey estimated the amount of recoverable oil in the Bakken at 151 million barrels"

Has any USGS prediction from 1995 been accurate ??
Here's hoping that the Bakken has a long tail;
we're gonna need it ..

Triff ..

Some stock teasers are saying up to 500 billion barrels.

I like the quote from Senator Dorgan "technology has come far since then" is that a great bit of fence sitting so he can claim credit whatever the outcome.

There a story in today's NYT about the natural gas being exploited from the Marcellus Shale.

There’s Gas in Those Hills

The story reports a scramble to acquire drilling rights in western Pennsylvania and other nearby states.

E. Swanson

IMO, this article raises a very important paradigm which I have not seen here before: the downside of the Japanese philosophy of 'lean production' also known 'just-in-time'.

I remembered everybody in management loved it--higher quality and lower inventories, and more profit. Previously large resources were tied up in 'work-in-process'. No more 'vertical integration'! Off-source non-core business work to the subcontractors!

Suddenly everybody starts looking like Japan--an export-import model of business based on secure international trade and very cheap transportation. In agriculture, stocks of food are out because the markets can always supply our needs.

This pernicious philosophy grew like Topsy over the last 15 years, but when everyone operates like that you quickly end up with a 'greater fool' situation. Today, markets are being tested everywhere and are found to be lacking or even failing.

It is a serious question whether management will be able to change their 'just-in-time' thinking after they spent so much time trimming their organizations. Right now, the implosion of corporate culture has already started.

Interesting thought. What if these managers do change their just-in-time thinking(only after a lot of pain, for sure). Will that change anything in the overall energy equation?

Here is the JIT from Wikipedia. I recall readign that the Japanese had to adopt JIT method after the war as they had no money, resources, etc. but that they turned a necessity into a virtue.


The continual churning in business world with new trends like JIT, etc. just screw up business.

JIT makes perfectly good sense when your supplier is just down the street and they can load their goods up in a hand cart and walk it down the block to deliver it to you. That was the scenarion in Japan for quite a bit of this stuff. Relying on FedEx to deliver the parts you need to keep the production going today from someplace half a world away is a whole other prospect.

We'll see how well JIT works out when Walmart can't stock their shelves with food, and the people who go grocery shopping once a week can't buy food because the shelves are empty, and the only food they have at home is mustard and ketchup in the refrigerator.

"and the only food they have at home is mustard and ketchup in the refrigerator."

Mmmm...! Vegetables!

A pkg. of saltines and you have a sub...

We'll see how well JIT works out when Walmart can't stock their shelves with food, and the people who go grocery shopping once a week can't buy food because the shelves are empty, and the only food they have at home is mustard and ketchup in the refrigerator.

we'll just quite simply...adjust.

It's efficiency vs. resilience, as Dmitry Orlov has written about so well.

The concept of efficiency being the opposite of resiliency, which I first heard in ecologic discussions, applies equally well to manufacturing. A manufacturing system is a complex machine with a lot of variables - you can optimize some of these at the expense of others, but only MBAs believe you can optimize them all. Surprisingly, long supply lines with everything arriving just in time, with no stock of built inventory or even parts, means that if anything goes wrong you are SOL. This may be fine if your goal was to optimize for other things, (minimum cost, stock, or work in process), but don't expect a resilient system that can adapt to problems.

Next, all your suppliers are doing the same thing, which turns the whole process into a house of cards just waiting for some minor problem at the front end.

And finally, very few of the people managing these monstrosities have any idea what they are doing - all that matters is that they can send in their monthly reports showing that they met their targets.

I've spent many years working at a manufacturing firm (once small, then part of something huge, now soon to be small again), and tried to educate quite a few managers (usually with little success).

Thanks for the setup - that felt good!

Efficiency vs. resilience is a valuable concept. I guess I ran into it with my small business, if I had a bunch of stuff lying around I always had the makings of a really good day at the swapmeet. If I became more efficient, I was also in a much more precarious position, and in fact efficiency is what killed me. I had all my stuff in one place, sold through one venue, etc. When the economy went south I was dead.

Wasn't it Nostradamus who predicted that dancing eunuchs is a sure sign of the Apocalypse? (msybe it was one of the Popes, I get confused sometimes...)

Anything that weird is probably a harbinger of something. Do the eunuchs dance before or after the fat lady sings?

A corollary to most of the themes here is that "peak weird sh*t" is a-comin', the time when non sequiturs rule and oxymorons create free radicals to march behind them.

Neah, we're just starting up the weird sh*t production curve.

dancing eunuchs

If that catches on with the younger generation it could address that population thingy.

If there is money in being a dancing eunuch, I wonder how bad the economy has to get before we see them in America? I suppose it could be some kind of barometer:

great depression
greater depression
dancing eunuchs

Things are pretty bad in Pakistan right now.

I heard there are such dancers every year for Mardigras in NOLA.

We have a variety of interesting people doing what they please during Mardi Gras (and the rest of the year), but asexuality is just not our thing :-)

Best Hopes for "Doing what you want to do" as the famous song says,


The Four Dancing Eunuchs of the Apocalypse.

'Bush Says Economy Is Poised to Rebound'...and he added 'The Surge Is Working, Al Sadr Has Apologized For The Rukus In Basra, and There Really Is A Santa Claus'...well, not quite...but he really did say...

'But he conceded that Americans remained concerned, saying “not only are people worried about their homes, they’re worried about the cost of fuel.”'

It makes me feel warm and cozy knowing that our dear leader is on top of things. Can he feel our pain from Paraguay?

In other news, McCain is releasing a single of his smash hit 'Bomb, Bomb, Bomb...Bomb Bomb Iran', on private record lable 'Neo-Cons For A Peaceful Solution'...The record deal and distribution are courtesy of AIPAC.


It sounds like a Tshirt slogan.

It will go perfectly with my

Republicans for Voldemort

The recent snails-pace progress with ITER (and the U.S.'s botched funding of it for this year), along with scientific doubts about its ultimate feasibility, make me doubt that confined fusion will ever become a commercial reality. Of course, there's the polywell wiffle-ball reactor design, but that almost seems too good to be true (although I hope I am wrong on that).

Anyways, assuming none of the confined fusion approaches yields any success, what are we gonna do? Are we just gonna walk away from this huge natural bounty of energy?

Or should we consider "unconfined" fusion, which we have already mastered quite well in the form of H-bombs?

I searched TOD, and I couldn't find any articles on the PACER project.

Has anyone here ever thought about implementing a modern-day equivalent? Technically since the U.S. has not ratified the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty, the U.S. would still be legally able to do it.

I'd like to see someone here at TOD with more scientific knowledge do a more in-depth feasibility study as an article, but here are some quick back-of-the-envelope calculations:

105 exajoules, or 29000 TWh -- yearly U.S. energy use (electricity use is some fraction of this, but I'm going to do the calculation with the assumption that the electricity generated by this neo-PACER scheme would replace total energy use. It doesn't really matter either way, as you will see--the order of magnitude is simply staggering. Besides, let's assume excess electricity could be exported to Canada and/or Mexico).

The original PACER project was going to use 1 kiloton fission bombs every 45 minutes, but that just defeats the purpose. We could just tap fission power with conventional reactors. Instead, we would probably want to use 100 kiloton H-bombs with 90% fusion, 10% fission yields.

100 kiloton H-bomb = 418 million megajoules = 418 terajoules = 0.000418 exajoules thermal

Assume 10% thermal-to-electricity efficiency.

So 100 kilotons = 0.0000418 exajouiles electricity. 20 bombs would give about 0.001 exajoules electricity. Another factor of 1000 gives 1 exajoule electricity. Then another factor of 105. So, 2.1 million bombs of 100 kiloton yield per year, a little more than 5000 H-bombs per day (about 3 H-bombs per minute). Assume 5000 H-bombs per day, and the rest is made up from wind, solar, and hydro.

2.1 million 100 kiloton bombs per year. Assuming 90% fusion yield and 10% fission yield, the amount of fission yield going on would be the equivalent of 21,000 megatons. By comparison, the Tsar Bomba test, which was 50 Megatons with 97% fusion yield, singlehandedly released 1.5 megatons of fission radioactivity right into the atmosphere. We're talking about 14,000 times that per year, but detonated underground (whereas the Tsar Bomba was detonated in the atmosphere). How much radiation could we actually expect to get out into the broader ecosystem? I have no idea.

Specific heat of sodium chloride: 854 KJ per Kg * kilokelvin
***0.854 MJ per Kg * kilokelvin
500 million Kg of sodium chloride needed. 500,000 metric tons of sodium. 500 Billion grams.
*Density of 2.17 g/cubic centimeter, so about 250 Billion cubic centimeters of space needed. That's 250 thousand cubic meters. That's means we need a cavern enclosed by 250 meters by 100 meters by 10 meters, or 125 meters deep by 50 meters wide by 40 meters wide. Let's say 150 meters by 50 meters by 50 meters, so provide for some extra room. This is about half the size of the Empire State Building. At 50 meters from the blast epicenter, the temperature would already be down to around 9000 K, even without the pool of salt to absorb the heat.

Bombs will be detonated in this pool of salt, which will melt and flow through heat exchange outlets, which will go to heat up tons of steam to drive lots of turbines (different salts can be used, I just used sodium chloride as an example).

Cavern walls can have the following layers, going from the oustide in: high-grade polymer sheath (to keep water out so as to keep as much radioactivity out of the water table as possible), pre-stressed concrete, steel (>5 meters thick), tungsten inner layer (high melting point ~ 3700 K). All layers will be anchored to bedrock.

Things to be investigated: ablation rates for the walls. Also, more robust features needed to prevent ground-water contamination and have the cavern designed so that once it is decommissioned, it can lay dormant safely for thousands of years without extensive in-cavern work?

I would recommend 90 of these be built, so that each plant can take 1 bomb every 30 minutes, and so that there is redundancy if some plants need to go offline at any given time.

Candidate locations: far away from important aquifers and population centers. Nevada? (Haha, payback for building the monstrosity that is Las Vegas, maybe?)

How much would this cost to supply most of the U.S.'s electricity? $100 billion per plant? $9 trillion altogether? (3 Iraq Wars?)

And think about it: would you rather power the country with 20-30% fission power in above-ground reactors, or only 10% fission power in underground reactors?

I think a PACER-type project should be given some serious thought.

Then again, the ridiculous amount of energy involved shows just how much we need to stress CONSERVATION. How on earth are we using 29000 TWh per year in the U.S.???

I think a PACER-type project should be given some serious thought.

From the wikipedia article:

As an energy source, the system is the only one that could be demonstrated to work using existing technology. However it would also require a large, continuous supply of nuclear bombs, making the economics of such a system rather questionable. The production of thermonuclear, or even just nuclear, bombs requires high immediate capital expenses, and also has long-term environmental costs. Additionally, the political effects of beginning a large-scale production of nuclear bombs could potentially be large, and with increasing bomb numbers, increased security measures would be necessary. The entire system—fissile material production, bomb fabrication, and power generation—could be carried out in a single well-guarded site, but only for great development costs that would likely never be recovered by generating energy.

What you proposing is madness. If we have the production capability to build 90 giant holes in the ground supplied by 5,000 H-bombs per day, why not build 90 solar $100 Billion solar thermal plants. If your going to invest in a giant production facility to churn out thousands of H-bombs per day, why not churn out thousands of wind turbines or PV panels instead.

We've sunk billions of dollars into Yucca Mountain and it is only engineered to store spent nuclear fuel shipping casks, not contain a nuclear explosion. The total bill for construction and operation through 2100 is expected to top $60 billion. Even if your plants could be built for this sum, what would it cost to operate them on a daily basis.

Yucca Mountain is located Nevada as well as the Nevada Test Site where over 900 nuclear weapons were tested above and below ground from 1951-1992. They might have chosen NV because they knew what a monstrosity my home town would become, but it's more likely that the site was located there because because the Feds own a ton of land located away from any population centers. I found this shocking statistic: The feds own 84.5% of the land and buildings in Nevada. By comparison, federal the government owns only 27.4% of Washington D.C. property and 28.8% of land in the US.

Then again, the ridiculous amount of energy involved shows just how much we need to stress CONSERVATION. How on earth are we using 29000 TWh per year in the U.S.???


Yeah, it probably is madness. I was just curious to speculate on whether this would be a markedly cheaper way to produce electricity (on one hand, common sense says that it would be cheaper because there's just so much energy per blast, but on the other hand there's the fact that nuclear bombs are very scientifically-advanced things (although if they were being mass-produced, like anything, the costs would come down)). The Yucca Mountain statistic is interesting. It probably gives a very conservative lower bound on the cost of one of these PACER plants.

How much would it cost, $2 per watt, to build the 900 GW of capacity with other types of (renewable) resources? Oh wait, I guess only $1.8 trillion. Much less than my $9 trillion rough estimate for the PACER project. What are we waiting for, then? The cost of electrifying the whole country with renewable electricity is just 1 Iraq War!

I also have no idea about the environmental damage from the PACER project. On the one hand, common sense says that it's happening in the crust, where those radioactive materials came from in the first place. And on the other hand, common sense says that we'd be exploding over 2 million bombs per year...but I guess if even Yucca Mountain is problematic, this would be even moreso.

I think what this thought experiment demonstrated is just how much energy we use--the equivalent of over 2 million H-bombs per year! THAT is madness.

Since I assume the appeal of using h-bombs is their relative cleanness per unit energy, I have to ask, how big must a nuclear device get before the hydrogen fusion part of it dominates over the fission-based trigger? I understood that the reason you don't hear the term "h-bomb" anymore is that the military got interested in smaller first-strike nukes that bounce back and forth between fission and fusion, each cycle squeezing more energy out of the available fuel. The h-bombs of the old days were all measured in megatons.

Yeah, I looked that up. The smallest fusion devices where most of the energy actually comes from fusion are about 100 kilotons.

There is a perfectly good, perfectly reliable & safe (well, for the next few billion years, at least) fusion reactor already available for our use. It is called the sun. We can continue to throw billions upon billions of dollars down a black hole chasing El Dorado, or we can get busy and develop the resources that we actually have available to us.

Fusion is the energy resource of the future - and always will be.

And you'd have both Tesla's and Edison's blessings on that too. Edison never shied away from experimenting with anything, but his experiments with nuclear lighting (radium etc) made him decide "it would never be a very popular light" after a lab assistant died and a few others were burned.

Both of those great engineers would be considered rather eco-freaky nowadays.

I'd like to see someone here at TOD with more scientific knowledge do a more in-depth feasibility study

You may not mean me, but just off the cuff, given due scientific consideration, a fusion pacer project is pretty unreasonable.

Kudos to you for preferring conservation.

The caverns where they tested it with fisson bombs are kinda cool in a creepy way if you've seen the movies... radioactive purple salt stalactites, etc, but you don't get far down the "what could possibly go wrong" decision tree on this one before it becomes apparent.

I share your assessment that ITER will not crank out confinement fusion in time for industrial civilization to use it much, and that the other approaches to non-kaboom fusion are unlikely to be found and perfected in the tiny window of time we'd have to actually build them out and use them. The only thing that might give homo pyromanius time to be rescued by fusion would be something like bird flu, smallpox, ball weevils and anthrax at the same time - which is to say an extra 50-100 years before resource collapse.

"and the U.S.'s botched funding of it for this year"

Silly person, President Cheney and Vice-President Bush are oil men. There's no money in it for them.


Sorry if has been posted before, but nice perception:

The federal government is sending each of us a $600 rebate. If we spend that money at Wal-Mart, the money will go to China . If we spend it on gasoline it will go to the Arabs. If we buy a computer it will go to India . If we purchase fruit and vegetables it will go to Mexico , Honduras , and Guatemala . If we purchase a good car it will go to Japan . If we purchase useless crap it will go to Taiwan and none of it will help the American economy. The only way to keep that money here at home is to spend it on prostitutes and beer, since these are the only products still produced in the US . I've been doing my part, and I thank you for your help. Governor Spitzer

Great post. But, how do we keep the hookers from spending it all at Wal-Mart?

Maybe if we spend it on local foods, we can make an impact, and the local farmers will be encouraged to grow more local produce so that when we have another bail-out next year, they can make more money !)

'But, how do we keep the hookers from spending it all at Wal-Mart?'

That's easy...The foreign exporters are going to 'adjust' prices at Wal-Mart to reflect the new reality of increasing costs of raw materials, rising local currencies in relation to the dollar, falling dollar in relation to just about any currency or commodity imaginable...

RE: Leanan's link above or NY Times

Asian Inflation Begins to Sting U.S. Shoppers

'BAT TRANG, Vietnam — The free ride for American consumers is ending. For two generations, Americans have imported goods produced ever more cheaply from a succession of low-wage countries — first Japan and Korea, then China, and now increasingly places like Vietnam and India.'...snip...

'It is also a threat to Western consumers because Asian exporters, even in very poor countries, are passing their rising costs on to customers.

Developing countries have had bouts of inflation before. Indeed, some are famous for them, like Brazil, which experienced triple-digit inflation in the late 1980s and early 1990s. But two things make this time different, and together promise to send prices higher at Wal-Mart and supermarkets alike in the United States, just as the possibility of recession looms.

First, developing countries now produce nearly half of all American imports. Second, inflation in these countries is coming at the same time that many of their currencies are rising against the dollar.

That puts American consumers in a double bind, paying at least some of producers’ higher costs for making their goods, and higher prices on top of that because the dollar buys less in those countries'...snip...


OK, then I'll take mine and cash it out as $1 bills and use it for starting the fire in my woodstove.

Man, this systems-thinking is spoiling all our fun. :-)

My wife informed me that we wouldn't be getting our free gummint checks in the mail.

Turns out that if you buy a crude oil option, it's marked to market at the end of each year and you get taxed on any increase whether you've sold it or not.

So despite not actually having money, we're in too high a tax bracket for the free checks AND have had to come up with cash to give the feds & state. Hah. This is all TOD's fault. Not that I mind all THAT much....

You're only getting a check if you made enough to tax in 2007, so I am actually too poor.

And I don't completely disbelieve in the rumor that the checks are just an advance on your 2008 tax refund anyway.

German beer and Canadian prostitutes? ..for shame!

If you spend it on GOOD beer, it will go to Germany (or Holland or Ireland or Britain or Belgium or ...).

Personally, I plan on using my to stock up on ammo. Weapons & airplanes are about the only thing we still make, and $600 won't buy much of an airplane.

If you spend it on GOOD beer, it will go to Germany (or Holland or Ireland or Britain or Belgium or ...).

Twenty years ago, maybe....

There's some good beer made in the US. Good ammo too.

The old "ammo and canned goods" would be US products.

Does Boeing make anything in the $600 range?

Wait a year. When oil hits $200 you'll be able to get an old 727 for cheap enough to tow away and live in. It'll be the mobile home from hell... with built-in streamlining for tornado resistance and wing tanks for hoarding liquid fuels.

Think I'm kidding? There are farmers in the former USSR living out of airplane fuselages - new ones they towed from the factories in lieu of wages.

For Alan (and the rest of ya)

CRAIG — BNSF Railway Co., the nation’s top hauler of container rail freight, is parking miles of railcars in Montana and elsewhere because there isn’t enough freight to keep them rolling.

‘‘What is that but a symbol of how America is down in the dumps right now?’’ Cardinal asked as she gazed at the cars that haven’t moved for about three months.

Wow. Wasn't it only a short while ago that there wasn't enough rail capacity?

Another sign of economic slowdown...people are cutting back on $4 lattes. Starbucks is now selling normal coffee.

Starbucks has always sold normal coffee. They just standardized on a blend of beans (instead of brewing coffee from different regions on different days) that will be more consistent from day to day and store to store. This wouldn't be my preference, but I'm not really one of Starbucks' core customers either (I usually brew my own and get beans from Peets).

How in the world will the new generation of American hoboes get around?

(Sound of Alan and Bob Shaw colliding in cyberspace as they rush to post articles on the carbon footprint of fifty million hoboes riding an electrified rail system.)

Maybe the dancing eunochs sequence above just served to warm me up, but this is the funniest post I think I've ever read here at TOD. Thanks! Good laughs are getting harder and harder to find the more rapidly collapse accelerates.

(And I do much appreciate Alan and Bob's viewpoints.)

from the article:

"One of the nation’s leading trucking companies, Schneider National in Green Bay, Wis., says it believes a freight recession began about 20 months ago, well before signs of a downturn closed in on consumers."

Another reason to be skeptical of official determinations of recessions.

Yeah, any link is long forgotten, but it was about 18 months ago when I read about a big decline in shipments arriving at major ports that I had that sinking sense regarding 'the economy'.

"They" are developing hybrd garbage trucks. I know some are against these technofixes but you have to admit that reducing carbon dioxide emissions is good, right?

The hybrid refuse trucks are expected to reduce fuel consumption by up to 20% and thus cut carbon dioxide emissions by a corresponding amount. The truck with the extra battery pack for the refuse compactor is expected to produce reductions of up to 30%.


Hybrid garbage/recycle trucks make a lot of sense. These vehicles typically start and stop every 10 to 30 metres, so regenerative braking would allow much of the energy that would normally be lost to be recaptured and reused in its next launch forward.


Doesn't regenerative breaking kick in only at higher speeds? I thought as v goes to zero you have to do it the old way (shoe leather).

With induction motors you can get to zero.
But the energy is proportional to velocity squared.
There is not much energy to harvest at slow speeds.

Hence the buses that use hydraulics as a hybrid method.

For those interested, my very rough count of world wide energy shortages reached 100 today with the addition of Ethiopia. Tom Whipple kindly mentioned my site in the Falls Church New-Press a couple of weeks ago. He noted, at the time, there were 96 areas experiencing energy issues. So, in the past few days there has been quite an increase.




I have been waiting severeal weeks for such news. This one is one of the most bullish news for agriculturals in general.

Peak oil = ever rising oil/gas prices -> rising oil/nat. gas prices = rising fertilizer prices -> rising fertilizer prices = rising fertilizer prices = farmers cut back the use of fertilizers -> resulting in smaller crops.

Peak oil = ever rising oil/gas prices -> rising oil/nat. gas prices = rising fertilizer prices -> rising fertilizer prices = rising fertilizer prices = farmers cut back the use of fertilizers -> resulting in smaller crops.

euro, I don't think you completed the chain of consequences.

Peak Food is like Peak Oil, there is no extra reserve production available, once past peak there aren't adequate substitutes so conventional economics doesn't work any more.

From farmers producing an excess to their own needs you get hoarding or witheld production, the essence of ELM, it is maximum profits that the farmer wants from his exports - that doesn't necessarily mean maximum possible production if the input costs are rising steeply.

Peak oil = ever rising oil/gas prices -> rising oil/nat. gas prices = rising fertilizer prices -> rising fertilizer prices = rising fertilizer prices = farmers cut back the use of fertilizers -> resulting in smaller crops .....

...-> leading to higher prices and profits since their input costs were lower -> resulting in smaller crops ... and on ... and on ... with each crop the 'net exports' from the farm get less and less and the profits from a unit amount of effort go up and up.

once past peak there aren't adequate substitutes so conventional economics doesn't work any more.

it's easy to make a statement, why don't you prove it? what you are really saying is that all the resources we use now are used optimally it. obviously that is totally not the case and that's the problem with your statement.

Hello John15,

If I may add my two cents:

It is a proven fact that we have never found a substitute for H20.

1. The corpses [all species] in the deserts worldwide. I believe they used this resource at the VERY UTMOST & OPTIMUM RATE, but ERoEI < 1 is a real bitch.

2. How many died in Nawlins of dehydration?

3. How many have died on the various Deathmarches [Bataan, Armenia]? These poor souls were HIGHLY-INCENTIVIZED to find any substitute.

4. How many in the MidEast will die when the desalination plants get blown up or cannot be powered anymore? They have already admitted that their ancient aquifers are kaput. Are their massive Sovereign Wealth Funds investigating cyanide as a healthful substitute for water--now that would be some kind of research breakthrough.

5. How many in the Southwest of North America will choose to migrate towards water, and how many will instead use their last funds seeking new Elements or Molecules to replace H20?

6. As I recall: Georgia would rather legally claim, and possibly fight for, the Tennessee River's water vs massively funding research to create 'new water'.

If you remain unconvinced, we can next discuss your proposed 'elemental substitutes' for phosphorus....

or potassium....

or nitrogen, or sulphur....

Remember, the first criteria is that soil micro-organisms and plants must absolutely thrive on your substitutes for NPK so that human job specialization is still possible.

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

once past peak there aren't adequate substitutes so conventional economics doesn't work any more.

John15 you always miss the point.

You think the world will adapt, I agree.

You think it will adapt to continue BAU and with less oil, nat gas, coal, I-n,p & k , fresh water and many other things.

The evidence from more than 3.5 billion years is that you are wrong - without adequate alternatives BAU will not, and does not, ever continue.

The underlying truth for all life on Earth, and human economies in particular, is the need to maximise profits.

I am NOT saying that means optimally using our resources for economic growth, actually quite the opposite - the resources are used for optimum profit which is NOT THE SAME THING AT ALL. It means hoarding and ELM at some stage, for oil it is happening now - world 'net exports' are DOWN ~3% in the last three years.

The proof for oil is very easy since you should be very aware of the oil data.

For profit reasons Oil Companies are no longer prepared to increase 'Crude C+C' supply even at ~$110 a barrel for 'light sweet' - in fact 'light sweet' production peaked around ten years ago.

For more than three years now the alternates, the difference between 'Crude C+C' and 'All Liquids', have NOT kept up with the ~2% annual growth required to run the world BAU - in fact the alternates are now >700 million barrels short of target despite rigging of the so called 'free market' by the US govenment by subsidising ethanol.

US water pipelines are breaking

NEW YORK - Two hours north of New York City, a mile-long stream and a marsh the size of a football field have mysteriously formed along a country road. They are such a marvel that people come from miles around to drink the crystal-clear water, believing it is bubbling up from a hidden natural spring.

The truth is far less romantic: The water is coming from a cracked 70-year-old tunnel hundreds of feet below ground, scientists say.

The tunnel is leaking up to 36 million gallons a day as it carries drinking water from a reservoir to the big city. It is a powerful warning sign of a larger problem around the country: The infrastructure that delivers water to the nation's cities is badly aging and in need of repairs.

Hello Leanan,

Thxs for this new info, it reinforces my earlier postings warning of such events. May I again suggest above-ground SpiderWebRiding as the best silver bb to this problem?

In the postPeak era, we won't have sufficient heavy-equipment energy-slaves to cheaply dig up, replace the infrastructure, then rebury the resources. Putting the pipes and other items above ground where possible saves much energy, and leaks are easily detected and repaired. Lastly, these pipes can serve as the roadbed for railbikes, thus eliminating the high-energy maintenance of asphalt and concrete streets and highways. Again, radiating from the endpoints of Alan Drake's ideas.

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

The New York City water system consumes no energy, it is entirely gravity feed. Only above the 6th floor (or 7th or 8th with Tunnel #3 open in places) is additional water pressure required above what Nature and Man provide.

The source water is 1,000' above the city and this height difference overcomes the friction of the tunnels and still leaves reasonable pressure at the water meter.

The building of the large Water Tunnel #3 provides a 13 mile low friction parallel path to the smaller Tunnels #1 and #2, saving more of the natural pressure.


Unlike Phoenix, where I believe 20% of the electricity is used for water pumping.

Best hopes for NYC water,


Putting the pipes and other items above ground

Is a fine idea if they do not freeze.

Fortunately, New York City, has vital sections of Water Tunnel #3 complete (all done in 2020, started 1970). Once water is close to the city, Tunnels #1 + #2 OR #3 can supply the needs of the city.


However, the Delaware Aqueduct is one of a network of water gathering tunnels @ surface canals & lakes. And the newest and largest (World's longest tunnel).


A massive project that could use more redundancy. Water tunnel #3 was the critical piece and that is being done (50 years start to finish).

Best Hopes for NYC water,


The Truckers Strike story has attained greater visibility courtesy of Barbara Ehrenreich, http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/04/08/8152/ The masses are awakening and a teachable moment is arising:

"Of the drivers I talked to, all were acutely aware that the government had found, in the course of a weekend, $30 billion to bail out Bear Stearns, while their own businesses are in a tailspin.... More importantly, the activist truckers understand their protest to be part of a larger effort to “take back America,” as one put it to me. “We continue to maintain this is not just about us,” JB–which is his CB handle and stands for the “Jake Brake” on large rigs– told me from a rest stop in Virginia on his way to Florida. “It’s about everybody–the homeowners, the construction workers, the elderly people who can’t afford their heating bills… This is not the action of the truck drivers, but of the people.” Hayden mentions his parents, ages and 81 and 76, who’ve fought the Maine winter on a fixed income. Missouri-based driver Dan Little sees stores shutting down in his little town of Carrollton. “We’re Americans,” he tells me, “We built this country, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to lie down and take this.”... The actions of the first week in April were just the beginning. There’s talk of a protest in Indiana on April 18, another in New York City, and a giant convergence of trucks on DC on April 28. Who knows what it will all add up to? Already, according to JB, some of the big trucking companies are threatening to fire any of their employees who join the owner-operators’ protests."

If port workers join the truckers.....

Twenty-eight years of voting for the Right and now they notice they got screwed the whole time? Or have they finally given up on the Rapture?

The folly of lumping all truckers together as you've done is discussed in the comments at the link I posted. I'm sure many have discussed Ron Paul's analysis and suggestions, which in many respects are more radical than anything being proposed by the "left."

LOL-you said it.

Sorry 390, that is beneath you.

The classism and elitism of assuming that because he's a trucker, that he's a particular kind of fundamentalist and a guaranteed republican is a blindspot that you should keep an eye out for.

That kind of comment makes this site seem like an insulated, ivory-tower hangout.


Hatred for the working-class is an American institution, so I guess even 390, whom I thought was above that, can fall into that habit at times.

An institution we need in the US is pride in being working-class and hatred for the banksters.

Truckers are .... people. Right-wing, left-wing, hippie, regular Joe, people. There are probably truckers on the roll of the IWW as I write. There are probably too many right-wing truckers but that's only because there are too many right-wing Americans.

Steve Forbes has a column out today at forbes.com that claims soon we will have bacteria that can melt oil out of the oil sands. Good thing. Now I will be able to keep my robot from 1975 that does all my housework running at full speed. The Jetson lifestyle is here to stay!

Here's the link

Why Stocks Stink

But don't be misled by stock market gloom and lurid headlines on the credit crisis. The U.S. and, indeed, the global economy are on the verge of another surge of breathtaking innovations

...Peter Huber, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and an extraordinarily insightful observer of technology, wrote in his Feb. 25 FORBES column ("Techno-Optimism"): "Scientists will soon bioengineer bacteria to melt oil out of tar sands, turn grass into diesel fuel and scavenge natural resources of every kind out of low-grade, thinly dispersed deposits. They can design drugs to replace, boost or suppress anything in nature. … Within a decade or two sensors will allow microprocessors to see, hear and feel far better than we can. Microengineered materials are simultaneously transforming the manufacture of clothes, cars, jets--just about everything people make--because they're far stronger, lighter and more functional than metals, plastics and natural fibers."

Ah, the author of the "Huber Principle," to-wit, if pressed Mr. Huber admits that discrete sources of energy will peak and decline, but our aggregate production of energy--the sum of discrete sources of energy--will increase forever. While Michael Lynch may not be a true believer in the Huber Principle, he is probably not too far away.

This led me to my ongoing search for a Huber/Lynch oil field, where individual oil wells peak and decline, but the total field production--the sum of the output of individual wells--increases forever. As I have previously described, my Huber/Lynch oil field will be run by elves and fairies, and I plan to also raise unicorns there.

We need to develop a Huber linearization method to determine when the amount of energy we produce will become so vast that it destroys the planet. Perhaps an Import Land Model will also be required. We must inform the planet of the terrible fate that awaits us!

..."Peter Huber, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and an extraordinarily insightful observer of technology,"

huber said in his book, the title of which i have forgotten, that wells of the future would be drilled with laser beams, melting the rock and creating casing as the laser penetrated..............he lost all credibility there.

"They can design drugs to replace, boost or suppress anything in nature. "

They can't even get a worthwhile substitute for Milk or Sugar.. but then we were fools to ask them to! They might be right about the 'Suppress' part, actually.

What kinda Nasa grade mutant skunk bud are they smoking at Forbes? Gotta get me an application.


Hello TODers,

Would debt-laden 'Murkans roll over their high balances to Muslim credit cards if given the chance? How powerful an attractant is the prospect of having no interest and no late payments? Would most continue to send monthly payments? Or would they just go hog-wild?

Warning--slow loading link--excerpt below:

The 'ABC Barakah' credit card does not carry interest or penalties for late payment which is considered forbidden under Islamic law.

The credit card service does not generate profit and there is a certain financial risk involved, the company says.

"Muslims in particular could have this card in their wallets which we want them to use only in 'Halal' purchases and 'Halal' services."
Explanation of Halal:


I wonder if something like this could be instituted here in the US. In exchange for no interest & no late payment: besides payments, you would be required to work a percentage of your time on permaculture, RR & TOD, or SpiderWebRiding conversions to help foster the paradigm shift. This way your debts would not get worse from the accumulating interest and late fees from the present cards, and your labor to locally payoff the debts is far better than the economic draft presently ongoing forcing young men/women into foreign battle.

I am not an economist, so I cannot expertly discuss this topic, but us TODers might be able to effectively elaborate the potential for this idea.

My thinking is that a US bank jumpstarting this idea will get more in return in the postPeak [than current interest-charging banks] as they invest in biosolar mission-critical industries + the cardholders' labor to power their operation. In other words, the cardholders of the normal cards will just refuse to send any money in to the interest-charging banks because they will rush to the free card plus labor to pay off their debts.

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

Why don't you just bank at your local credit union, patronize local independent businesses as much as possible, and pay with a debit card? No interest charged, the money recycles within the local community - what else could you want?

Hello WNC Observer,

Thxs for responding. Agreed, nothing wrong with that strategy for those that are currently debt-free. I was suggesting a combo postPeak strategy for those consumers that are in debt up to their eyeballs plus the banks that are heading underwater from bad loans.

I don't agree with the current operation of using taxpayers to bail out Bear Stearns, etc. My idea matches up debtors and insolvent banks to BOTH work out their problems together with no further interest charges making the problems worse for either; a mutual cooperative for paradigm shift.

For example: Imagine Citibank issuing this card in my Asphalt Wonderland and everyone-in-debt joining. Citibank would instantly have billions in cash flow plus countless hours of labor to leverage this money. We could build out Alan's electrified mass-transit ideas in Phx very quickly with thousands of people showing up to dig up asphalt, lay rail, paint, wheelbarrow concrete, make signs, ...whatever they could do to help. Older debtors could make sandwiches or hand out drinks. The skilled-labor debtors could do the technical work or run the specialized equipment.

Citibank would then own a valuable postPeak resource built with very little labor cost [and possibly run and maintained with cost-free labor]--which is a major, major cost-savings compared to a postPeak TOD project financed by interest-bearing loans and required to show a profit to investors.

Why don't you just bank at your local credit union,

Ya know - I tried to do just that when I wanted to open an IRA.

I walked in and asked for the paperwork to open an IRA. They told me that they wanted to see 3 years of my tax returns to open the IRA. Claimed it was the 'know your customer' laws.

I told 'em to go pound sand - because there was no reason to see my tax returns.

Would debt-laden 'Murkans roll over their high balances to Muslim credit cards if given the chance?

Yes, they would. If the choice means more $ in the pocket - they will.

Not to mention the people who don't like giving business to Citibank or BoA. http://www.solari.com/banks/

RE: GM ups cost estimate for Volt to $48K (topside article)

Which means it will about double again by the time it gets into production, IF it ever does go into production at all - at that price it is looking quite doubtful. I always have suspected that the thing was nothing but vaporware. It is increasinly looking like that is all it ever will be.

Whatever limited future there is for motoring in private passenger vehicles, that future will be electric. I sincerely doubt that GM will have any part to play with that future.

Amen, brother, but they still get all the press. It just makes me really irritated but I expect my next vehicle to be made by Toyota.

Hello TODers,

Ever-increasing fertiliser prices bring with them almost a sense of inevitability coupled with a feeling that somehow it will never end.

Certainly neither economists nor manufacturers ever predicted fertiliser costs this high.....
My guess is this journalist hasn't discovered TOD yet because we have been flogging warnings for a long time, and I expect things to get even worse from postPeak receding horizons plus cascading blowbacks.

Same article:
Unfortunately, supplies of P and K are finite and before very long agriculture will need to look very carefully at ways of extracting these nutrients for recycling.
I will give him credit for moving toward recognition of O-NPK recycling, but I would would say that 'now' is much more mitigative than 'before very long'.

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

Hello Bob Shaw! This one about the Mexican counterculture is for you, http://www.counterpunch.org/ross04082008.html

"Who are these mysterious Emos and why have they been so violently excluded from the ranks of an urban tribalism that knits the city's counter-culture youth into a loose federation of "punketos" (punks, both anarcho and otherwise), "darketos" (darks), "Goticos" (Goths), "skatos" (lovers of ska music), "metaleros" (ditto heavy metal), "ipoperos" (hiphoppers) and "cholos" (gangbangers), amongst other colorful "bandas"?"

Others will also find this look at Mexico City and its subcultures fascinating. It would be interesting to know if there are manifestations of these in US barrios

Well, it's pretty obvious. The Emos are middle-class, the other groups are working-class. The Emos may be seen as pro-American too, since their parents are probably employed in some sort of job or position that's basically a minion of the US Empire. Notice Emos have their shirt slogans in English.

This is simple class warfare, the kind we're going to see more of in the US, and it'll be about time. And anti-imperialism, or as it's called here in the US, Anti-Americanism.

fleam -

I agree that it is definitely a class thing.

As one who came of age during the early 1960s, to me this Emo thing in Mexico is very reminiscent of the situation regarding the so-called 'counterculture' in the US at the time.

Up till roughly 1967 most of the young people that the 'straights' labled as hippies came from the American white middle and upper middle class. At the time, most solidly working class kids still looked as though they were members of the Sha-Na-Na, and more important, they didn't have much of a clue as to what was going on regarding the civil rights movement, Vietnam, and the counterculture.

Also, there was definite hostility on the part of the working class toward those 'rich-snot hippie, commie faggots'. Witness the violence between the 'hard-hats' and the anti-war protesters during some of the major peace rallies of the time. This was quite ironic, because most of those killed in Vietnam mainly came from three groups: the white working class, urban blacks and hispanics, and rural po' white trash.

As is the case regarding styles and fads, the working class is usually roughly four years behind the times. Circa 1966, when all the hip kids had long hair, the working class kids still had either crew cuts or greaser hair. And then when long hair went out of style in the early 1970s, that was when working class kids started having long hair.

The mass media marketing efforts had a lot to do with this. As an example, in one of my old car magazines of the era is an ad by Chrysler for a 1970 Plymouth Hemi-Cuda, a really nasty brute of a car and the ultimate expression of the excesses of the muscle-car era. The car is situated in a sea of flowers and the main lettering of the ad is in that multi-colored psychedelic script so popular at the time. If there was anything that was the antithesis of the counterculture, it was a Hemi-Cuda, yet there it is ... all surrounded by flowers. Flower Power. Groovy! The whole counterculture movement got co-opted real fast once corporate America realized there was money to be made.

So, these Emos appear to be primarly kids of the disaffected middle class, and probably have about as much relevance to the Mexican poor as the 1960s hippies had to US urban ghetto dwellers.

In as much as I can tell, globally the social, class, and cultural divides are widening rather than narrowing. Mexico looks to be already well on its way toward a long slide into chaos. The US might not be all that far behind.

Joule- right on. The Emos are the counterparts of the middle-class hippie kids in the US in the 60s. Exactly.

The hippies were college-bound, had parents who could put them into college, buy their way out of the war, out of the draft, etc. We have the same thing now - Selective Service and a possible draft, ppl have to register. And the yuppies, the boomers' kids, are going to college and don't have to even think about joining the military. We have an economic draft, it's essentially the same system. I can understand the hardhats' beating up hippies, because the hardhats' kids were over in Viet Nam getting shot. Just standard class warfare, something the US needs one hell of a lot more of.

We'd fallen to working-class, the lower end of working-class really, by the time I was a teen. Hippies had money for carrot juice and groovy beads and could go see concerts. Hell, they had wheels, VWs and stuff. A working class kid like me, might have $1 to buy a Whopper for lunch, and spend hours on the bus (25 cents each way) to go to a summer class. Dress conservatively, and NEVER thought of the idea of "spanging" or asking for spare change, although as skinny as I was, I'd have done great at that I bet.

We need class warfare in this country, we need full on pitched battles. Haven't had 'em since the 1930s but since we're headed back to the 1930s full steam, why not?

Interesting piece from CSMonitor;

"Basra strike against Shiite militias also about oil
Iraq's oil minister says the assault helped curb oil smuggling."


"Shahristani says the Basra assault, which was led by Iraqi forces and backed up by the US and British militaries, will allow better control of vital oil resources and facilities, curb smuggling, and help boost production to 3 million barrels per day (b.p.d.) by the end of the year, which would be the highest level in 20 years."

The End of the Road

$945 billion in losses. That's today's number from the IMF. They’ve all known this for a long time, rest assured. They’re just feeding it to you piecemeal, so you’ll keep on borrowing and spending as long as possible. Meanwhile, this means less than 25% of the total has been accounted for so far, and booked as writedowns and losses.

I’m willing to bet that as the derivatives start falling like Jericho, $1 trillion is just a beginning. Even if we accept the notion that only 2% of the total outstanding poses actual risk, that still would mean, considering an estimated $700 trillion derivatives “market”, losses of $14 trillion. Don’t believe it? Keep watching.

Hello TODers,

Another potential blowback from ethanol & DDGs? My guess is the current global sulphur shortages and rising price of sulfur will sufficiently force ethanol plants to extract this element from the DDGs. Recall that these plants already use large amounts of sulfuric acid.

Kenneth Kalscheur, associate professor in dairy science at South Dakota State University, discussed feeding ethanol byproducts such as distillers grains at the Dairy Calf and Heifer Conference, which came to Rochester April 1-3.

Mineral nutrition requirements can easily be exceeded when feeding distillers grain, so producers need to keep an eye on these components. Sulfur is one in particular that producers will want to watch out for to avoid polioencephalomalacia, damage to the brain from a metabolic disorder. Kalscheur said this condition rarely causes death, but it can happen.

However, don't always blame ethanol byproducts for too much sulfur in the heifers' diet; they could also be getting it from their water source.
There is a potential goldmine here for any lawyer defending a dairy farmer whose livestock got sick and/or died because an ethanol plant did not practice proper chem-processing of the DDGs.

As posted before: I am amazed how sulphur affects nearly everything! After water, then phosphorus, then FFs next, it truly must rank next as a critical 'lifeblood' for the planet:

Really Cool photo of hundreds of gallons of 'blood' flowing on giant sulphur blocks at the Athabasca Tar Sands [I estimate each stackline to be about 10 feet high!]


At $666/ton--what is that stockpile worth?!?! $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

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

Another potential blowback from ethanol & DDGs?

I'll just toss out the standard DDG as weed killer post.


The DDG gives you fungal growth which 'eats' the weed seeds. If one plans on doing this, pre-start your seeds.

So the Volt goes up 60% in price from $30k to $48k, the reported year over year sales are off 10% for Ford and GM, job numbers are down, 20% of home owners are underwater with that number increases by the hour, large banks are just flat not offering car loans, and municipalities are going to cut road maintenance first as their means of survival. Where are those fellows who kept assuring me that PHEV was just the ticket to save us all from ourselves?

It's a nice theory had we laid on it like the Apollo program in 1973 when we got warned, but we kept acting stupid for thirty five more years and now it's too late.

Where are those fellows who kept assuring me that PHEV was just the ticket to save us all from ourselves?

Alas I've cared not enough to write a program to mine the site into a database so it could be searchable.

But look to The antidoomer as an example of one of them thar posters.

Where are those fellows who kept assuring me that PHEV was just the ticket to save us all from ourselves?

we're right here. to all your questions I say, so what? people will still buy homes and cars no matter what the environment.

I say, so what? people will still buy homes and cars no matter what the environment.

And I say to you - prove it.

we've never had a year period where no homes and cars have been sold. we still sold homes during the great depression. last year we still sold million of cars and homes even though we started a credit meltdown. this year we'll do the same. in Asia during the crisis cars sales fell hard but not to zero.

Hello TODers,

The CIA has recently updated their Factbook for Haiti on 20 March, 2008:


It would be interesting to see if instead of aid being spent willy-nilly all over the world, if some percentage of this aid was Peak Outreach focused on this small country using the best ideas available.

IMO, it could all be conditional on the birthrate. After full Peak Outreach education and it obvious Thermo/Gene ramifications: If the people didn't agree to bring it drastically down--then not one cent more of aid [mud cookies for all]--let the people willingly choose for themselves to either let Nature quickly take its fast-crash course, or accept a mitigative alternative. I think they would readily agree to some fair plan, of their own design, in exchange for further aid; for example: a birth lottery and mandatory birth control and/or sterilizations for the rest.

IMO, they have practiced 'Reaganomics' for far too long:

From the CIA link above:
note: roughly half of the population practices voodoo

If dinky Haiti can be shown as an early postPeak Paradigm Shift success, then it will be that much easier to implement in other countries, especially here in North America before the cascading blowbacks of ELM & FELM hit home. I remain a fast-crash realist until the world gets off its ass, then decisively moves ahead with common sense mitigation and planning. Recall Jay Hanson's prediction in note 1 [we don't have much time left if we want to disprove Jay]:


The riots they had today will be nothing in comparison of what is to come if they don't change course. My feeble two cents.

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

note: roughly half of the population practices voodoo

The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree..

If dinky Haiti can be shown as an early postPeak Paradigm Shift success,

Cuba has been offered up as an example.

Hello Eric Blair,

LOL! thxs for the link.

It really is too bad that the world is doing its best [worst?] to make Jay's prediction come true--I think nobody would be happier than Jay to see the collective world slam on the brakes and change course. I sure wish Google would premiere the--I'm feeling unlucky-- button to help alert the world.

As posted much before:

Realists are trying to head off disaster, optimists continue to propell us headfirst into it.

Great link!
The Psychopathic Space Daddy has always had a resonance with the sheeple.
As Marx pointed out, "Religion is the opiate of the masses"

I once went to a Russian orthodox service. You stand for hours by candle light and listen to hypnotizing singing. By the time it's over you feel good(high, drugged). Catholic and protestant sevices have nothing comparative to offer and can be described as a sleeping pill. I bet I know wehre he got the comparison to opium from.

Except that Marx did almost all of his research and writing in England.

Not to mention that he was ethnically Jewish and descended from a long line of rabbis although he rejected religion personally.

Great long article at wikipedia on Voodoo:

Vodou has come to be associated in the popular mind with the lore about Satanism, zombies and "voodoo dolls." While there is evidence of zombie creation,[1] it is a minor phenomenon within rural Haitian culture and not a part of the Vodou religion as such. Such things fall under the auspices of the bokor or sorcerer rather than the priest of the Loa.

The practice of sticking pins in dolls has history in European folk magic, but its exact origins are unclear. How it became known as a method of cursing an individual by some followers of what has come to be called New Orleans Voodoo, which is a local variant of hoodoo, is a mystery. Some speculate that it was used as a means of self defense to intimidate superstitious slave owners[citation needed]. This practice is not unique to New Orleans voodoo, however, and has as much basis in European-based magical devices such as the poppet and the nkisi or bocio of West and Central Africa.

These are in fact power objects, what in Haiti would be referred to as pwen, rather than magical surrogates for an intended target of sorcery whether for boon or for bane. Such voodoo dolls are not a feature of Haitian religion, although dolls intended for tourists may be found in the Iron Market in Port au Prince. The practice became closely associated with the Vodou religions in the public mind through the vehicle of horror movies and popular novels.

There is a practice in Haiti of nailing crude poppets with a discarded shoe on trees near the cemetery to act as messengers to the otherworld, which is very different in function from how poppets are portrayed as being used by voodoo worshippers in popular media and imagination, ie. for purposes of sympathetic magic towards another person. Another use of dolls in authentic Vodou practice is the incorporation of plastic doll babies in altars and objects used to represent or honor the spirits, or in pwen, which recalls the aforementioned use of bocio and nkisi figures in Africa.

Although Voodoo is often associated with Satanism, Satan is primarily an Abrahamic figure and has not been incorporated in Voodoo tradition. When Mississippi Delta folksongs mix references to Voodoo and to Satan, what is being expressed is social pain such as from racism, which is couched in Christian terms and blamed on the devil[citation needed]. Those who practice voodoo do not worship or invoke the blessings of a devil.

Saudis raise oil prices for Asia, but widen US discount

SAUDI Aramco, the world’s largest state oil company, raised prices of light crude oil grades it will export to Asia in May, while cutting them for customers in the US and Europe.

Whoa! I thought oil prices were set by trading on the exchanges, not priced by the company or influenced by discounts/premiums.

How does all that work then guys?

Aramco doesn't sell on the exchanges. They sell directly to customers, and as such there really is no way to know how their contracts are structured. Certainly there is a tie-in to the markets, or you would see a wide disparity at times. Could be that the price for Asian customers is tied to Tapis, and that in the U.S. and Europe tied to WTI or Brent. In fact, I would say that's likely.