DrumBeat: April 14, 2008

Fears emerge over Russia’s oil output

Russian oil production has peaked and may never return to current levels, one of the country’s top energy executives has warned, fuelling concerns that the world’s biggest oil producers cannot keep up with rampant Asian demand.

The warning comes as crude oil prices are trading near their record high of $112 a barrel, stoking inflation in many countries.

Leonid Fedun, the 52-year-old vice-president of Lukoil, Russia’s largest independent oil company, told the Financial Times he believed last year’s Russian oil production of about 10m barrels a day was the highest he would see “in his lifetime”. Russia is the world’s second biggest oil producer.

Mr Fedun compared Russia with the North Sea and Mexico, where oil production is declining dramatically, saying that in the oil-rich region of western Siberia, the mainstay of Russian output, “the period of intense oil production [growth] is over”.

Global warming has a new battleground: coal plants

WASHINGTON -- Every time a new coal-fired power plant is proposed anywhere in the United States, a lawyer from the Sierra Club or an allied environmental group is assigned to stop it, by any bureaucratic or legal means necessary.

They might frame the battle as a matter of zoning or water use, but the larger war is over global warming: Coal puts twice as much temperature-raising carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as natural gas, second to coal as the most common power plant fuel.

Food Inflation, Riots Spark Worries for World Leaders

Rioting in response to soaring food prices recently has broken out in Egypt, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Ethiopia. In Pakistan and Thailand, army troops have been deployed to deter food theft from fields and warehouses. World Bank President Robert Zoellick warned in a recent speech that 33 countries are at risk of social upheaval because of rising food prices. Those could include Indonesia, Yemen, Ghana, Uzbekistan and the Philippines. In countries where buying food requires half to three-quarters of a poor person's income, "there is no margin for survival," he said.

Finance Ministers Emphasize Food Crisis Over Credit Crisis

WASHINGTON — The world’s economic ministers declared on Sunday that shortages and skyrocketing prices for food posed a potentially greater threat to economic and political stability than the turmoil in capital markets.

Former oil company chief accused of fraud

HARTFORD, Conn. (UPI) -- Connecticut is suing a former oil company president, charging him with defrauding purchasers of home heating-oil contracts, the state's attorney general said.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal charged that Christopher T. Carr took millions of dollars on behalf of F&S Fuel when he knew the company couldn't deliver on its prepaid contracts, WSFB-TV in Hartford reported Monday.

China's Guangdong ups power fee to cover gas costs

BEIJING -- Six of south China's wealthiest cities are charging industrial users a temporary surcharge on electricity prices, to compensate gas and oil burning power stations for soaring fuel costs, industry sources said on Monday.

...The money collected could help tide the booming area over peak-time summer power shortfalls that the local government warns could be as high as 15 gigawatts, by providing cash to plants that can be easily fired up but have high fuel bills.

Mexico Opposition Barricades Congress

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Leftist lawmakers erected makeshift barricades in Mexico's lower house of Congress Monday to block attempts to dislodge them from the podium, where they have been camped out for nearly a week to protest an oil reform bill.

Iran warns Total, Shell over gas deal

Press TV -- Iran warns Royal Dutch Shell and Total against inaction, calling on them to enter a contract if they seek to develop South Pars gas field.

"The deadline set for Shell and Total (to enter a contract on developing) phases 11 and 13 of South Pars (gas field) will not be extended; they are likely to be replaced by Asian corporations," said Ali Vakili, the managing director of Iran's Pars Oil and Gas Company.

India learns its oil lessons

BANGALORE - India's quest for energy security received a boost last week with its oil diplomacy paying off to varying degrees on more than one continent. In South America, India signed a deal allowing it to participate in a joint venture to drill oil and gas in Venezuela, while in Central Asia, the door was pried open for Indian companies to invest in projects in Turkmenistan. In the same period, New Delhi's wooing of Africa's oil-rich nations moved into top gear as it played host to the first India-Africa summit.

Methane boom has Colo. landowners worried: Energy industry jobs return, as does contamination and explosion risks

WESTON, Colo. - A hamlet near here of wooded gulches, rocky outcrops and views of the snowy tops of southern Colorado’s Sangre de Cristo mountains is the perfect escape for retirees and telecommuters who’ve settled in.

But people who bought lots on the 4,000-acre North Fork Ranch about 200 miles south of Denver, hoping to leave behind big-city hassles, worry when they flip on a switch or take a drink of water. They’re afraid that volatile methane gas from drilling in the area’s coal seams could seep into their water wells or migrate inside their homes.

Bill McKibben: Where Have All the Joiners Gone?

CHEAP FOSSIL FUEL has made us what we are. Which is to say: rich, powerful — Look at us! We can make the ice caps melt! The oceans rise! But something else too: cheap fossil fuel has made us the first people on Earth with no need of our neighbors.

New cracks suggest largest remaining Arctic ice shelf destined to disappear

WARD HUNT ISLAND, Nunavut — New cracks in the largest remaining Arctic ice shelf suggest another polar landmark seems destined to break up and disappear.

Scientists discovered the extensive new cracks in the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf earlier this year and a patrol of Canadian Rangers got an up-close look at them last week.

“The map of Canada has changed,” said Derek Mueller of Trent University, who was amazed to find how quickly the shelf has deteriorated since he discovered the first crack in 2002.

“These changes are happening in concert with other indicators of climate change.”

Better Batteries Dramatically Boost Wind Energy

The giant wind turbines on the west coast of Ireland stand not only on the geographical limits of Europe, but also on the cutting edge of a revolutionary technology that makes wind power more reliable and valuable. The 32 megawatt (MW) Sorne Hill wind park will be Europe’s first to integrate a large scale battery back-up system that ensures a reliable supply of electricity regardless of how the wind blows.

Pemex Shuts Two Gulf Oil-Export Ports on Bad Weather

Petroleos Mexicanos, the third- largest supplier of crude to the U.S., has closed two oil-export terminals in the Gulf of Mexico because of winds and lightning.

Cantwell calls for probe of petroleum price fix

WASHINGTON -- With the price of crude oil hovering near $110 a barrel and gasoline prices at record levels, a Washington senator says federal regulators need to stop delaying and start investigating whether petroleum markets are being manipulated.

Railing Against Fuel Costs - Cost of diesel means good times for freight trains

With diesel topping $4 a gallon and trucking prices rising accordingly, it looks to some people like boom time for trains.

Freight is already a cheaper form of transportation than trucks, and according to the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission's 2007 Regional Transportation Plan, railroads can move a ton of freight three times as far as a truck on a gallon of fuel.

Nigeria: How to End Fuel Scarcity

The minister, who apologised to Nigerians for the recent hardship over fuel scarcity, said lack of adequate strategic storage capacity was one of the underlying deficiencies in the system.

"Imagine we were at war and there was a blockade, the country would grind to a halt. So it is a matter of urgency that we should develop this capacity. For the future, we are looking at what we've done wrong, what we are doing wrong, what we should do right. I can assure you that this administration will do what is necessary to ensure that this (fuel scarcity) doesn't recur," he said.

Gambia: Fuel Shortage Hits Again

According to our correspondents hundred of vehicles could be seen packed at various petrol stations in the country as drivers struggle to get some gallons of diesels. "The fuel shortage is seriously causing huge headache to the traveling public particularly we the civil servants, as we always find it hard to reach office and home on time" a 34-year-old lady told the Freedom Newspaper, describing the situation as an absolute abysmal.

"Many private car owners and commercial vehicle drivers are currently bereft of petrol and now joining pedestrians to walk to reach to their destinations."

Pakistan to sell $1bn bonds to tide over deficit

The United States is negotiating a deal with India to sell civilian nuclear power reactors to the country but has declined to make a similar offer to Pakistan because of the alleged involvement of its scientists in proliferation activities. But Mr Dar raised the issue again in the presence of a number of senior US officials at the embassy, indicating that Islamabad might renew its request to Washington to help it meets its energy needs.

Gaza power plant to shut down by Tues. due to fuel shortage

Palestinian Petrol Corporation chief in Gaza warned on Monday that Gaza's main power plant will be closed by Tuesday due to the shortage of fuel.

"The remaining amounts of industrial fuel to keep the power plant operating will be only sufficient until Tuesday," Mujahid Salama said in a statement, warning "if more fuel is not allowed, Gaza Strip will be sinking in full blackout."

ANALYSIS: Energy crisis meets food crisis amid bio-fuels backlash

Efforts by industrialized countries to reduce their dependence on foreign energy sources and cut climate-changing emissions has prompted a strong backlash from some developing nations dealing with a worsening food crisis. The problem lies in bio-fuels, an alternative source of energy that is often made from food crops. The World Bank last week said that a boost in bio-fuels production was largely to blame for an 83-percent increase in food prices over the last three years.

Energy - crisis elsewhere, opportunity for North Dakota

What surprised and disappointed me when researching this column was the limited role of alternatives in relation to the total demand for energy.

The best I could get my scientific friends to say is that alternative energy could create enough power to take care of the increase in demand. This means that unless there is some undiscovered energy, the best we can expect to see is that fossil fuel energy still will be needed to meet the present level of demand.

ESCOs and Utilities: Shaping the Future of the Energy Efficiency Business

As oil hits $110 per barrel and climate change reaches the mainstream conversation in both our consumer culture (carbon neutral products, hybrid cars, etc.) and political conversations (green collar jobs, cap-and-auction schemes, etc.) the issue of energy efficiency has once again become prominent. There is virtual agreement, among policymakers and economists, that efficiency is the low-hanging fruit for reducing carbon emissions and essential to any comprehensive approach to halt global warming.

UK: Shipping carbon tax costs will fall on consumers

Consumers will bear the cost of a future marine fuel tax proposed by the UN to reduce carbon emissions, as shipping companies, importers and retailers hand on the increases, say commentators.

The Realities of Natural Gas

In much of North America, despite propaganda to the contrary, exploration and production have been yielding disappointing results for a long time, and expectations about e.g. the Gulf of Mexico and imports into the U.S. by pipeline from Canada often have an air of unreality about them. In Europe a more rational tale can be deduced on the basis of what happened in Finland. With copious potential gas supplies adjacent to Finland in Russia and Norway, the decision-makers in that country chose nuclear as the best option for additional power. They understood that given the likely future demand for gas in Europe, Asia and North America, in the long-run they might have found themselves relying on imports from very distant sources – e.g, Qatar and Iran.

High oil prices and the return of “resource nationalism”

As oil prices rise, global oil companies may seem to be making up for previous times when revenues barely covered production costs. However, the oil executives know all too well that high oil prices are a mixed blessing.

Three Arab Oil Phenomena in 2008

The year 2008 has been characterized by three Arab oil phenomena with significant future implications. These are summed up in the noticeable expansion in crude oil and natural gas production capacity, the significant increase in the capacity of refineries, and the ongoing establishment of private Arab oil companies.

Saudi to invite bids for Jizan refinery in May

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia plans to proceed with a project for a new oil refinery at Jizan and will invite bids to build and operate the plant in May, the oil ministry said on Monday.

Spiralling costs have cast doubt over the viability of new oil refineries worldwide. Industry observers were sceptical over the Jizan refinery going ahead as it is a long distance from crude production.

Turning the world right side up, one conference at a time

The meetings and convention industry is in for some radical changes, if predictions put forward by Thomas Homer-Dixon prove true.

Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet - excerpt from Klare's new book

In this new, challenging political landscape, the possession of potent military arsenals can be upstaged by the ownership of mammoth reserves of oil, natural gas, and other sources of primary energy. Hence, Russia, which escaped from the Cold War era in a shattered, demoralized condition, has reemerged as a major actor in the international arena by virtue of its colossal energy resources. For all its military might, the United States has, in contrast, sometimes found itself reduced to cajoling its foreign oil suppliers—including long-term allies such as Saudi Arabia—to increase their petroleum output in order to slow the upward spiral in energy prices.[2] The “sole superpower” has, in short, found itself scrambling—on the battlefield, on global trading floors, and in diplomatic back rooms—to somehow come to terms with what Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) has termed “petro-superpowers”—nations that wield disproportionate power in the international system by virtue of their superior energy reserves.

It really is the economy, stupid

So can you still be an economic superpower if you don’t make anything and an increasing share of your of GDP consists of debt owned by other countries? What happens if those countries decide they don’t like us anymore? Remember the oil embargo of the 1970s? Arab countries who sit on top of much of the world’s oil reserves got angry with America for refusing to allow them to eradicate the state of Israel, so they stopped selling to us. The U.S. economy was hit hard as the price of gasoline skyrocketed, and the government was forced to impose price controls and rationing.

And we are much more dependent on the goodwill of other countries now than we were then. Worse yet, there are some signs we are approaching Peak Oil, the point at which the world hits maximum oil production (aided by the increasing demands of emerging economies like China and India). If that happens, gas prices won’t come down. Ever.

Economist Sachs believes we can save world

Sachs has a far more sanguine view of the future than does Homer-Dixon. Homer-Dixon tries to end his book on an optimistic note and Sachs sprinkles his optimism throughout his book, such as: Economic convergence is inexorably lifting up the developing countries to a good standard of living. Tackling climate change will cost a miniscule one per cent of the world’s GDP. Oil may be running out but coal is abundant and carbon capture and storage technologies will soon be available that will cheaply store CO2, thus allowing coal to be used in an environmentally safe way.

Think green and power it down

One thing our politicians keep dancing around and ignoring, however, is the continuing failure of natural resource and oil companies to find additional fossil fuel reserves.

The fact of the matter is, oil reserves are dwindling and natural gas has to be imported because we've all but depleted our resources in America.

Climate change spells coal phaseout

Taking swift action to solve climate change will cost only a modest amount and may even benefit the economy in the long run. Delay, on the other hand, could be disastrous.

That was the message delivered in late March by James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and one of the first U.S. scientists to sound the alarm about global warming. Hansen released a report stating that catastrophic climate change is now likely if we fail to promptly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Uncontrolled global warming would, he said, “forever alter the conditions under which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted.”

That’s a scary prognosis. Yet Hansen’s report did not make the evening news, and no presidential candidate mentioned it.

Diesel weasels its way into costs, supply-chain strategy

Soaring fuel costs percolate through to a range of product prices—and call into question just-in-time inventory practices. Watch out for open-ended fuel surplus charges.

Record-fast price increases for diesel fuel are shaking up the nation’s manufacturing and supply chains, contributing to price hikes in everything from Meow Mix to mattresses and forcing corporate executives to rethink business models that may be too dependent on just-in-time inventory management policies honed during the era of cheap oil.

Bakken no energy panacea

Those who deny that peak oil is a near-term problem can be so predictable. Hours after the U.S. Geological Survey released its study Thursday showing that the Bakken oil formation has up to 4.3 billion barrels of "technically recoverable oil," the emails started trickling in.

There's plenty of oil out there.

We just have to keep looking.

Peak oil is a scam.

U.S. on 'monorail with a cliff at the end,' UA prof warns

In your April 6 Viewpoints essay ("End of the world as we know it"), you write about some pretty frightening things: $400 for a barrel of oil soon, our oil supply running out in 30 years, the modern world coming to a screeching halt because of a lack of energy. How much of this do you actually believe? And how much is a scare tactic to get our attention?

I believe everything I wrote. I am trying to inform people, not scare them. I do not benefit from peak oil or spreading the word about it. Indeed, it will cost me my 401(k), my 403(b), and the job I love, and writing about it has been costly to my so-called career. And then there's the consequent hate mail ...

Greenspan, Bailouts and Fed Policy

Greenspan has been skewered recently for helping to create the subprime "bubble" by keeping interest rates too low too long. In my opinion, this is not his biggest policy failure. His biggest sin is writing a book whereby he acknowledges the inequities of the Bush tax policy, that the Iraq war was all about oil, and the dangers of Republican fiscal policies with respect to the fiscal and trade deficits. Yet, when he was the Chairman of the Federal Reserve and had the bully pulpit from which to impact these issues, he said virtually nothing. This is Greenspan's biggest sin: he was more worried about keeping his job than he was about the economic welfare of the middle class and what was best for our country as a whole.

Food, Fuel, and Finance: The Crisis of the Three Fs

While the share market digests the news of collapsing brokers and falling financial profits, the grand poobahs of the world's economy are wringing their hands in worry. What's keeping them up at night? The three Fs, each its own kind of crisis: food, fuel, and finance.

Green Festival in Seattle - Day 2

I have no doubt that we humans have the ingenuity necessary to solve this "energy crunch" that is approaching. If we do not solve it it will be due to pride, greed or both. It became crystal clear to me that life was designed in a way that we are never faced with a problem that we cannot solve. However, even if it is true that we can solve all problems, that does not automatically guarantee the survival of the human species.

The human species is probably not at stake (regarding the depletion of natural resources that are essential to life), but population die-off is a possibility. Those who continue to party while the Titanic likely will not survive.

BCC conference looks at 'Cheap Oil'

FALL RIVER, MA — Bristol Community College will examine "Cheap Oil — Going, Going, GONE!" at noon on Tuesday, April 22, Earth Day. The lecture in the Jackson Arts Center on the Fall River Campus is free and open to the public.

Richard Heinberg, one of the world's foremost experts on peak oil and its impact on industrial society, will speak on the end of cheap oil and what it means for America and the world. As gasoline streaks towards $3.50, $4 and more a gallon, how will we get to work and school? What kind of education will we need? Mr. Heinberg will cover these questions and more and look at the ramifications of a life without cheap oil.

The decline and fall of the American empire of debt

As for oil, while at first it might seem a bit off-putting to find a chapter on "peak oil" in the middle of a book mostly devoted to financial shenanigans, the current price tags of a barrel of crude and a gallon of gasoline obviously pile even more stress on top of an economy already teetering after years of gross mismanagement. Phillips has long castigated the Bush administration for its energy misadventures -- believing, as do many Bush critics, that the invasion of Iraq was motivated in large part by geopolitical petroleum concerns. But how could two oilmen in the White House have screwed up so spectacularly? Dark times are ahead, he foresees, as the major powers of the world struggle for control of the world's dwindling supplies of fossil fuels. But as this time of peril hastens toward us, the once mighty U.S. is no longer master of its own manifest destiny.

Pakistan's Musharraf pushes for China oil pipeline

BEIJING (Reuters) - Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf is pushing a proposal for gas and oil pipelines between his country and China to bolster bilateral ties, he said on Monday, during a visit that has highlighted security concerns.

Mexican leftist leader wants oil debate

MEXICO CITY - Mexico's foremost leftist leader predicted Sunday that protesters would prevent Congress from moving forward on the president's oil reform proposal during the current legislative session.

At a rally in Mexico City's central square, former presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador reiterated calls for a national debate on the reform bill, which President Felipe Calderon introduced last week to allow state oil company Pemex to partner with private companies for oil exploration and refining.

An Explanation for Soaring Commodity Prices

How to explain commodity prices go up while the economy turns down? If strong economic growth is not the explanation for the large increases since 2001 in prices of virtually all commodities, then what is?

Riots break out in Pakistani city over power cuts

Multan: A crowd protesting power cuts rioted in the home city of Pakistan's new prime minister on Monday, ransacking the office of the state electricity company, torching a bank and leaving at least 13 people injured.

The Case for a Sustainability Emergency

Say the government, instead of spending billions of dollars putting TV ads on and propagandizing to us, spent the same money to hire us, to pay for our salaries. And say 100,000 people across whichever country we happen to be in, was asked to come in and meet over a period of some months, say one day a week, and talk through and try to come up with recommendations about what to do about climate change and peak oil.

Uranium Bull Market: Not Over Yet

When it bottomed at $7 per pound in 2001, uranium was one of the most derided commodities on earth. The most common associations with uranium were Chernobyl and bombs. Environmental protesters were calling for the shuttering of nuclear reactors, and plants continued to be mothballed.

What a difference six years has made. Uranium rocketed from less than the cost of a pizza to $138 per pound in June 2007. Articles appeared in financial publications like MoneyWeek and Forbes on investing in this “white-hot” market. Dr. Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, started supporting nuclear plants as a clean and safe fuel. Even oil producers such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia have expressed interest in nuclear power.

Govs to gather to address global warming

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Organizers hope a gathering of governors this week will be as effective in addressing climate change as a similar event that launched the conservation movement a century ago.

As many as 10 governors and leading experts on global warming plan to attend the conference Thursday and Friday at Yale University, and review state programs and develop a strategy to combat global climate change.

Rich countries not leading on climate change: IPCC chief

LONDON (AFP) - The head of the United Nations's scientific panel on climate change said in an interview published Monday that developing countries were unwilling to sign up to a global deal on cutting carbon emissions because rich countries were not leading the way.

"Looking at the politics of the situation, I doubt whether any of the developing countries will make any commitments before they have seen the developed countries take a specific stand," Rajendra Pachauri of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change told The Guardian.

Renewing Incentives for Wind & Solar in USA

Due to expire at the end of this year.


Best Hopes for Limited Political Stupidity (and no Bush veto),


PS: 116,000 jobs in renewables

The $0.02/kwh Production Tax Credit (PTC) is something Senator Grassley pushed through sixteen years ago. I had a short chat with him about this a few weeks back and he said basically that revenue is the problem. That PTC is dollars that could be coming in and if they're not they're taxing something else somewhere else at a higher rate.

I've been doing a bit of analysis on this recently and I think that I like the PTC as it is, but for the things we're doing I'm not all that concerned for specifically our projects if it happens to drop. There is a systemic concern that wind turbine makers will drop like flies, but I'm hoping a weak dollar keeps them rolling with the product going overseas - would serve us right for being so shortsighted.

Anyway, here is why I'm not so tuned up about that lapsing.

If I want to put in a large service here, with large being more than 50kw, I pay a $150/month Transmission and Distribution charge (T&D). The actual electric cost is $0.041/kwh but I also have to pay the local coop to maintain the electric network. They watch for your highest usage in the peak hours and in the nonpeak hours, charging $9.0/kw for what you use peak and $4.50/kw for what you use off peak. Note that this is per peak kilowatts used, not kilowatt hours - they take your highest fifteen minute interval for the month.

Lets say we're building an ammonia plant running on electricity that needs 50mw continuously:

50,000kw x $9.00/kw = $450,000
50,000kw x $4.50/kw = $225,000
50,000kw x $0.041/kwh = $2,050,000

Total rate for electricity? $0.0545/kwh. So ... T&D is $0.0135 ... and if you can build a system that doesn't care about the variable rate of electric production you're free of the T&D charge except for your own internal T&D cost, but it isn't that much to build the 34.5kv lines to transport the native voltage coming off a modern wind turbine.

A 2.0mw turbine will yield 660kw continuously here and cost about $1.5/watt. Assuming a ten year life you get about fifty eight million kilowatt hours out of the machine for its three million dollar price tag - a cost of $0.0519 per kwh. Now modern turbines, they last about twice that long ... $0.0259 per kwh.

Wind energy without a grid connection is competitive with hydroelectric. There are some policy issues with this, to be sure, but the renewable energy industry today basically stands where MCI was in 1983 - ready to start bypassing a monopoly network that is necessarily procedurally slow to accept new inputs. I don't think anyone else has noticed this, but my as yet to be indicted co-conspirators at the Stranded Wind Initiative are busy with patent applications for processes that make industrial chemicals using electricity and they specifically don't mind the variable nature of wind energy inputs.

I think the world is going to be an awful mess but maybe we can make corn country a survivable enclave. Each morning I get up, wrap that messenger line around my waist, and fling myself into the void, looking for a way to get us across that whole Olduvai Gorge thing. Setting aside the frightful things coming at us I must say I've never had so much fun running a startup operation before :-)

Welfare programs are not the answer for renewables. Lets end the subsidizes on non-renewable energy sources and level the playing field.


A carbon tax (quite high) would work as well.


Good point, a BIG carbon tax, rationing and heavily tiered electric rates are really the only fair way to get the mindless consumers to change their behavior in a way that does not penalize the least amongst us.


An idea via global media.

The Air belongs to us all. We are send carbon trading credits. We can then sell the credits (or keep 'em). The money from the sale goes into the consumers pocket. If you have a low footpint - you make money.

Call me cynical but it sounds like a licence to pollute. Since the government would decide the amount of "certificates" issued and over time this would certainly increase, it just sounds like another wealth transfer scheme. If you're talking some kind of science based quota scheme I have even less faith in the ability of governments to manage it, Canadian cod anyone?

The free market is already busily imposing an increasing carbon tax of sorts. The Chinese want us to use less oil and so they bid up its price. We want the Chinese to use less oil and so we bid up its price. It is a regular war out there with all the oil users busily pushing up prices.

The free market

Where is this mythical free market? I've heard that it is rare, so humans want to hunt it down, capture it, then torture it for information about where other free markets can be found!

Definition: A free market economy is an economy in which the allocation for resources is determined only by their supply and the demand for them. This is mainly a theoretical concept as every country, even capitalist ones, places some restrictions on the ownership and exchange of commodities.

The Chinese want us to use less oil and so they bid up its price.

Oh, that sounds like some kinda government policy. Ergo the theory you are mentioning is not 'free market'.

But if you ever see a free market in the wild (or being tortured) - can you make a video and post it on archive.org? Cuz I'm sure a whole lotta people would love to see an actual free market.

You know what would be really interesting?

Annualy declining oil import quotas. Either that or just old-school WWII style rationing. BRING IT ON!

Biofuels Nothing Short of Disaster

It turns out the production of biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel is likely to cause far more environmental damage than it prevents, not to mention triggering widespread famine and eating up more rainforest and grassland than beef production ever could.

Well biofuels ain’t gonna save us. They just might help destroy us. Back to the drawing board.

There was a discussion yesterday about denial. Those who believe that we can “find something else” that will stave off, or even mitigate, absolute disaster are in the worst kind of denial. Biofuels are made from food, or land that once produced food. That leaves wind, solar and nuclear to replace all liquid fuel that powers the planet. That leaves wind, solar and nuclear to replace all the fertilizer, pesticides, plastics and everything else that are presently created from fossil fuel.

Sorry, it just ain’t gonna happen.

Ron Patterson

One thing I find interesting is that I have had conversations with average people, and most people are starting to get it. They are seeing higher food prices as a consequence of the push for ethanol. Some people who have read up on the subject are still holding out hope for things like switchgrass or algae or some such, but the tide is turning against corn ethanol in particular.

I agree. I think the tide has turned on corn ethanol.

We'll still use some, of course, as long as we have the Iowa caucuses, but even Dubya is looking to cellulosic, not corn.

I agree. I think the tide has turned on corn ethanol.

The tide of public opinion has turned, as well as the scientific tide. I doubt the political tide will turn, as we have set events into motion that will be hard to undo. Will we drop the subsidies? I suppose with mandates we don't really need them. All the subsidies do is mask the true price. But will we undo the mandates? Will the farm state senators allow it? No, I don't think so. Corn farmers who are becoming accustomed to higher earnings will scream long and loud. Big Ethanol like ADM has enormous lobbying power.

Nate and I discussed this yesterday. We won't win the political battle, until the consequences are so dire that that even an Iowa Senator can't deny them.

No, I don't expect them to drop the subsidies. But I don't expect them to be increased, either.

I think you're onto sommething. But even if the ethanol farmers were somehow won over, there's still the problem that it fuel prices will then rise (with or without a decrease in ethanol production) and consumers will then also yelp loud and clear and ethanol would be put right back into production.

After the political BS and public perception issues are removed from the equation, it really becomes a question of whether the average american would rather drive or know their neighbors will have enough to eat.

The first ethanol corn farmer that gets lynched for selling "food for fuel" will cause a bit of thinking to go on over in farm country. That problem is self-correcting, though unfortunately too late to matter for the empire as a whole.

If reason can't beat ethanol, I doubt threats of murder will help the anti ethanol cause. It shows the hysteria caused by confusing animal feed and human food. Corn is used mostly for animal feed. Those who threaten violence probably don't care.

Farm country will survive long after any lynchings. It is those who reject ethanol who will not survive (at least as well). Iowa is booming. The coasts are crashing.

Maybe Kuntsler is right. But I thought it was those who don't understand Peak Oil who would become violent. If it is the Peak Oil crowd who are going to commit violence I'm out of here.

By the way nearly every Iowa corn farmer sells corn for ethanol. There are about 100,000 of them. And most of them have guns.

"It shows the hysteria caused by confusing animal feed and human food. Corn is used mostly for animal feed."

x's attempts at obfuscation and distortion are unabated. The issue is not the use of corn. Farmland for food production or farmland for carfuel production? That's the issue.

EDIT: I should add that the smart use of resources such as the oil and gas consumed by corn producers, and that wasted in the ethanol plants, directly and indirectly, is also at issue.

My question is:

What do we do with the 150 Million Acres that we were farming a couple of decades, ago, but that are lying fallow, Now? What about the 150 Million Acres that Brazil has lying fallow?

Where I live, much of the former farmland is now covered with McMansions, after having its topsoil stripped and sold. In any case, you need more than land. You need water, and if you're talking agribusiness-scale farming, you need fertilizer and pesticides. I would also guess that land that came out of production tended to be marginal land. On the bright side, lying fallow for a while should have improved the soil quality over the vermiculite substitute that covers much of American farmland.

Some of the most productive farmland in the world and the largest reserves of fresh water are in the USA. A lot of it is being used to grow sod for McMansions as well as flowers to sell to "look at" or make the garden "purty". But we Americans are a stupid and vain people. And we only know two speeds: Complacency and Panic.

I personally believe that we are now on the plateau of peak oil. Sure, I hear a lot of talk from politicians about fixing the "energy problem" but it is empty election year rhetoric. Yeah Congress is going to put up a big wall to the south to keep out the poor and we'll figure out how to bus em in to pick our vegetables and then make sure they get home after they're done. But most of them SOB's we'll elect have the primary intention of getting a nice townhouse overlooking the Potomac and hanging with trendy new socialites. It is all Bullshit!

Even though I have as much or more than everybody else to lose I think that Americans need a "good lickin'" and not just one. We aren't bright enough to learn the first time...We're going to need several hard lessons before we get it.

Much of the best farmland in the US is either unused or being built on. The parts that are suited for suburban development have a price that is too high to farm on (at least until recently). Many of the other parts, in the "original 13 colonies" region mostly east of the Appalachians, have good soil and natural rainfall but tend to be hilly and irregular, with lots of small waterways etc. Not to mention roadways, stony soil, etc. This was just fine for the "family farm" of 20-300 acres, but it is not suited for mechanized agriculture. These areas are making a bit of a comeback with organic and other high-value ag uses, but they haven't been able to compete against super-low subsidized corporate farming prices.

Food prices are still way too cheap. I put up historical graphs of food prices on my website at:


Many less developed countries have been complaining for years that modern subsidized, factory farming has made food so cheap that it is uneconomical for people to continue traditional ways of agriculture. This creates dependency, with the consequences we are seeing today. What is true around the world is also true within the US. The areas that are suited for traditional, family-size agriculture (Pennsylvania for example) are lying unused because nobody gets paid for farming. Today, a bushel of corn is selling for about $6. A bushel of corn has 56 lbs. Just try to plant, grow and harvest 56 lbs of corn in your backyard garden. For that, you get $6, minus your expenses for seed, fertilizer, the implied cost of the land, etc. Not to mention the labor. It's a lot easier just to flip burgers or clean hotel rooms for an hour.

The historical long-term average prices for grains are about 6x higher than today's prices, adjusted for currency devaluation. If corn was $36 a bushel, it might be interesting again.

If corn was $36 a bushel, it might be interesting again.

Just wait a bit, it will get there.

The thing is though, that same back yard garden space that could grow 56lbs of corn could grow several hundred pounds of fresh vegies and fruits maybe worth $600 or more. As a general rule, the more water content, the more it makes sense for it to be grown as close to the consumer as possible, while the less the water content, the more it makes sense to produce, store, and transport it at a distance in bulk quantities. Water is heavy, evaporates, and promotes rot; that is the basic physical reality underlying these considerations.

What do we do with the 150 Million Acres that we were farming a couple of decades, ago, but that are lying fallow, Now? What about the 150 Million Acres that Brazil has lying fallow?

Kdolliso, you should never post crap like this without a link. Everyone will think you are just pulling the figures out of your ass, which you are.

The US has just under 450 million acres in cultivation. http://www.carryingcapacity.org/resources.html 150 million acres would be 32%, almost one acre in three. That many acres are not lying fallow.

Brazil is clearing rain forest to grow sugarcane. Often rain forest land will stop producing after a few years and must be abandoned. Nothing will grow there so they must clear more rain forest. But no land that can produce is lying fallow in Brazil.

You just make crap up Kdolliso!

Ron Patterson


you should have figured out by now that I don't "make stuff up." Here is a real link on "land use" in the U.S. It's the first item on yahoo.


You will notice that there are 2.2 million acres in the U.S. 1.2 million Arable Acres. We, currently, row crop 246 million acres for the major 8 crops. There are many more than 150 million acres that can be farmed (including the 34 Million Acres that we pay landowners NOT to farm.

Speaking of "Making Things Up:" The Sugar Cane Land is 1,000 Miles South of the Rain Forest. If you bothered to do research, rather than attack me, you would find out that the Rain Forest is logged For the LOGS! After it's logged, it's grazed. After it's grazed the little subsistence farmers come in and try to raise a few crops on it. There are 150 Million Acres (the President of Brazil's number, not mine) of previous rain forest land available for crops (usually, soybeans.) No one in their right mind could think that the rain forest is being logged so some little subsistence farmer could come in and plant beans for a couple of years.

No, you make crap up. You pull stuff right out of your ass that has no basis in truth! This PDF was published in 1996! It says absolutely nothing about today because it was published almost 12 years ago. And you showed nothing about Brazil. You just expect everyone to take your word for it. Well, I for one do not.

And sugarcane is causing destruction of the rain forest. Sugarcane is taking over soy land in the south and driving soy production into the Amazon Rain Forest.

"Similarly as sugar cane expands in southern Brazil, soy production is heading northward, encroaching on the Amazon."
"Soybean farms cause some forest clearing directly," said Dr. Philip Fearnside, a researcher at the Brazilian National Institute for Research in the Amazon (INPA) and a highly regarded Amazon scholar. "But they have a much greater impact on deforestation by consuming cleared land, savanna, and transitional forests, thereby pushing ranchers and slash-and-burn farmers ever deeper into the forest frontier. Soybean farming also provides a key economic and political impetus for new highways and infrastructure projects, which accelerate deforestation by other actors."

Ron Patterson

If reason can't beat ethanol, I doubt threats of murder will help the anti ethanol cause. It shows the hysteria caused by confusing animal feed and human food. Corn is used mostly for animal feed. Those who threaten violence probably don't care.

Riots around the world are over the high cost of food. Land, formerly used for food is being diverted to plant grains for biofuels. That is the problem, not just corn. That is what has driven every food staple through the roof. As I posted above, biofuel production is triggering widespread famine around the world.

Land used to produce biofuels instead of food is the problem! People are rioting and threatening violence because they are hungry!

Ron Patterson

Ah, Darwinian, look where they're have "problems." It's the "failed governance" list of Earth's economies. Socialist, corrupt, "Command" economies with high tariffs (import, and Export,) and subsidy/control schemes.

We fed more people last year than any year in history. Our Ag Exports were WAY up.

It's goofy export tariff schemes like Argentina's, and India's that will cause people to starve, not free-market food exporters like us.

not free-market food exporters like us



kdolliso -- you might try lurking here for awhile and learn something before opening your mouth and exposing your ignorance.

Our Ag Exports were WAY up.

Prove this. Show your work.

Looks to me like U.S. Ag exports are up about 140% YOY in 2008, and up about 165% vs. 06'.


Caveat: The weaker Dollar will account for 15%, or so; but, it's still a lot.

That's in dollar terms.

Here's some USDA info on land under cultivation and exports.


Yes, it's the price of food that's way up, not the volume. By kdolliso logic, Saudi Arabia's oil exports are also up by approaching 100% Year on Year.

And it looks to me like such claims are full-o-bogons.


Finally, a recent announcement has signaled a shift in the U.S. position related to balance of agricultural trade. The 2005 forecasts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicate that the United States will have a neutral or negative trade balance for the first time since 1959.

"Net food" appears to be close to zero.

So what, exactly are you trying to prove by your claims Kdolliso?

I said volumes. not dollar peso value.

And a single year in agriculture is highly variable.

The USA is doing it's best to reduce the volume of food exports with 1) Suburban and Exurban sprawl destroying some of the best lands and 2) converting corn into ethanol.

As for "free market", I can support that. Redirect the $7 billion or so (forgot exact figure) in ANNUAL ethanol subsidies to something worthwhile # and eliminate the tariff on Brazilian sugar cane derived ethanol.

There has been some suggestions and discussions in Louisiana about using domestic sugar cane or molasses residue from processing for ethanol, but caution over the bubble has restrained any investment. Cattle feed is a strong market for molasses.

BTW: Dried Distillers grains have definite upper limits in cattle feed before they get scours (diarrhea). Similar limits for chicken and pork. Unsure about catfish (not much need to dry the feed for them if it cna delivered quickly before souring :-)

How close is the USA to reaching that upper limit ?

Best Hopes for Better Mitigation to Peak Oil,


# GWB killed a $900 million federal subsidy that killed the DC Metro extension to Tyson's Corner & Dulles Airport (locals made up rest of $5 billion cost). This extension, when built out, will save 20,000 to 25,000 b/day for a century or more. *MUCH* better deal than corn ethanol.

It's goofy export tariff schemes like Argentina's, and India's that will cause people to starve, not free-market food exporters like us.

May I suggest that you read Bad Samaritans: The Secret History of Capitalism by Ha Joon Chang. Chang is an economics professor from Cambridge. He argues that most of the largest economies in the world became major economic powers by protecting their nascent industries with tariffs. If you don't have the time or inclination to read his book, check him out on C-Span's Booknotes. Chang is a very entertaining writer and speaker and he uses historical examples to show how major powers from the US, Great Britain, S. Korea, Japan used protectionism to grow their economies. Those who praise the virtues of "free-trade" often ignore the real history that very few countries have become major economic powers without protecting their homegrown industries.


You've, absolutely, nailed me on that one. One caveat: I don't think there's much history of "export" tariffs in the countries you mentioned; but, on the other hand, I wouldn't bet my life (or beer) on it. :)

Let's also not forget overpopulation, or more preceisly, the ratio of natural resources (esp. arable farmland) : population, which correlates quite nicely with that map of countries experiencing food riots.

In countries where buying food requires half to three-quarters of a poor person's income, "there is no margin for survival," he said.

Countries where buying food requires half to three-quarters income for a significant % of the population also tend to have the highest birth rates on the planet, and are invariably much higher than the rate of replacement (birth/death).

Corn ethanol is a non-starter from an EROEI perspective, but it is *not* the primary reason WHY there are food riots in these countries. The problem is, too many f**king people and sky-high birth rates in the most backward, resource-poor countries.

Harm - I agree with you but ranting about over-population on the oil-drum is preaching to the choir. People who read and comment on the Oil Drum get it.

But where are you when that group of right-to-lifers are protesting abortion clinics and lobbying to shut down a womans right to choose? Why don't you protest fertilization centers?

Les Knight, the founder of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, gets up every day and talks to some narrow minded media pundit about the need to curb human exponential population growth and smilingly puts up with ridicule, abuse and death threats. That is Cojones!

He also has one of the best web site on the internet:


People on the Oil Drum are far more likely to stand up for what is right (even if those actions put them on the outside of their contemporaries) than any group of people I've come across.

People also have a right to not be poor as shit and starving. By having kids like it's nobody's buisness impedes on other's ability to have at bare minimum a substance level (as in not waiting for UN food aid to save your sorry ass).

People used to have six or eight kids because, if they were lucky, maybe one or two or three of them would actually survive disease or famine or war and make it into adulthood. Made sense at the time. Then we developed basic sanitation & hygene (the #1 medical miracle), vaccinations, & antibiotics, and increased agricultural production, so now most of those kids could make it into adulthood.

That was the moment to cut back on having kids. Unfortunately, people didn't get the memo immediately. They have since caught on and are making a good progress at getting the baby making down to more sustainable levels. Unfortunately, there was a delay of a few decades, which is why we are leveling off at a too high 8-10B instead of a less disasterous 4-5B.

"Unfortunately, people didn't get the memo immediately. They have since caught on and are making a good progress at getting the baby making down to more sustainable levels"

--I wouldn't be suprised if a lot of it (besides China) is just people are too starving to feed themselves, let alone more kids. And I can't imagine starvation doesn't doo some bad shit to people's reproductive systems.

Les Knight, the founder of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, gets up every day and talks to some narrow minded media pundit about the need to curb human exponential population growth and smilingly puts up with ridicule, abuse and death threats. That is Cojones!

No, that's simply the expression of self hatred that is increasingly common among members of the western " commoditized" society where "education" and conditioning is designed to destroy the centered individual.

Land used to produce biofuels instead of food is the problem!

Right. Sure.

That being a farmer is long hours around dangerous machines that are expensive while the land you have has gone from tens of dollars to thousands of dollars so people can build housing 'in the country' has had nothing to do with it. Its all about the food to fuel. Nothing at all with people getting old and cashing out.

Eric, try to get a grip on what this debate is all about. We are talking about food shortages around the world, primarily in third world countries where food prices have risen so high people can no longer afford to eat. You are trying to make cute remarks about conditions in the USA which have no relevance to the discussion.

Just News.Google "food riots" and you will get a very tiny clue as to what we are talking about Eric! People are starving, dying in the streets from malnutrition and related diseases and you wish believe the primary problem is farmers in the US working long hours around dangerous machinery and old people dying because they are old. For God's sake, get a clue!

A few food riot URLs and there will be lots of different ones tomorrow:

Ron Patterson

In Haiti
mobs took over the streets, smashing windows, looting shops, setting fire to cars and hurling rocks at motorists.

Elsewhere in the article land use for biofuels is sighted as one of the irritants as well as high fuel costs. Today in Haiti it seems they are 'getting it' and taking it out on the motorist.

taking it out on the motorist.

VS, oh perhaps the ownership of property shows you are part of a higher class then the rioters?

It's likely to be both reasons. The biofuels angle is so essential talking about someone who is already hungry. You tell them the price of food is beyond their reach and add the (well publicized)awareness that wealthy people are burning food in their cars thus driving up the price. Bound to get just the reaction we are seeing. I'm betting it plays a role and will continue to intensify as a cause of conflict as this plays out.

We are talking about food shortages around the world, primarily in third world countries where food prices have risen so high people can no longer afford to eat.

And somehow the job of the farmer isn't suck-y (vs factory work) and what was land near cities isn't being used for housing in other nation-states? Or diets moving towards meat eating in other nation states? Or even changes in water for irrigation. Or the changing of the rice planting so that the rice eating bugs now have food.

Not only are you SO educated you know there are no conspiracies, but you also know every other nations land/farming use so you can say 'the reason for the shortage is biofuels. Period.'

TOD is so blessed to have you here Ron Patterson, making sure that we all know that its all about making bio-fuel and no other reason. Just like you've said.

Eric, the third world has been teetering on the verge of collapse for decades. The entire world is deep into overshoot. A good percentage of the world's people live on the very verge of starvation. The rising price of food, caused by production cuts because of biofuel production, is driving many into starvation.

No one has ever claimed that biofuels was the ONLY cause. But when so many millions of people live at the very edge of existence, that is enough to push many of them over that edge.

What you, and many others, do not seem to understand is that much of the world's people live at the very limit of their existence. Wheat prices have more than doubled in the last year and quadrupled in the last three years.
People who were, before the sudden rise in grain prices, living at the very edge of starvation, are now starving. Look at the chart at the URL I posted. That is wheat. That is what bread is made from. That is the price rise people are facing, people who before could barely afford to stay alive are now pushed over the edge.

It is the biofuel production drive that has caused grain prices to go through the roof. It is the biofuel production drive that has driven people from the verge of starvation, into starvation. And some of them are pissed. Some of them are rioting.

Eric, is this all that difficult to understand? Really, is it all that difficult????

Ron Patterson

It is the biofuel production drive that has caused grain prices to go through the roof. It is the biofuel production drive that has driven people from the verge of starvation, into starvation.

Ron, I think you might have to expand on this a little bit before you can expect to convince anyone, especially as the specific grain you mention is _wheat_. Now I have not investigated this at all, so I am not saying you are wrong, but we know that there have been massively short wheat harvests in nations such as Australia (a major exporter). That was to do with drought (at least in the Australian case). On the face of it, there is no obvious connection between rising corn prices in the US, and rising wheat prices on the world market.

Rice, incidentally, is also rising very fast. Why? Does the land used in the US for maize compete with that for rice? What is the connection between rice and corn?

I can easily accept that _corn_ prices are going up because of biofuel production. But the other grains?

Like someone has already pointed out, by and large corn is not a staple of Third World diets - though it is a staple of animal feed, and high-fructose corn syrup hidden in everything you eat pretty much keeps you First World 'Merkans running (and, incidentally, obese).

But it ain't you folks who are starving.

No one has ever claimed that biofuels was the ONLY cause.

Land used to produce biofuels instead of food is the problem!

Huh. Looks like that was the claim.

Now, noting how 'teetering on the verge of collapse for decades.' is far more truthful. So is 'People who were, before the sudden rise in grain prices, living at the very edge of starvation, are now starving. '.

So if the issue of the day was not biofuels, in the future it coullda been UG99, a lack of PNK, rainfall/snowmelt changes, or even the blanket 'overpopulation'. Their situation has been bad for a long time. Biofuels only helps to make it an issue today.

There's a difference between a food shortage and higher prices. The total amount of food hasn't changed all that much, just as the total production of oil hasn't changed much. I will agree that the question of who gets the food is one that is rather fraught with injustices. However, many tens of millions of people were starving with super-cheap food prices, too, so that is a problem that is not exactly new. The effect of higher prices will be that lower-value uses of food (such as a fuel feedstock or animal feed) will be abandoned somewhat in favor of higher-value uses of food (such as direct human consumption). It would be nice if a subsistence allocation of food to the poorest is considered a "high value use" of food, via government participation if necessary.

Oh please can't I be You.

How in the world would a corn farmer get lynched? Everyone here has had great benefit from the ethanol boom and it's not like we're know for being great world travelers.

Sadly, the lynchings will be shop keepers in the countries experiencing food stress, not those here who are simply doing want gets them the best return on their time and money.

Sadly, the lynchings will be shop keepers in the countries experiencing food stress, not those here who are simply doing want gets them the best return on their time and money.

I'm not sure what you're trying to say here are you Saying:
"Although the people who are going to be killed are shop keepers in foreign lands the people who should really be killed are the farmers who tried to make an honest profit from their labour."
is that what you're saying?

It is possible that people are catching on about ethanol - but they still want to be presented with a "solution". They are NOT catching on that there is none (at least none that won't require changes outside of what they are willing to consider), and this disconnect will prevent anything from changing.


The presumption is that the BAU solution is out there; we need only to choose the right one.

No consideration for the fact that we need fundamental change.

What is the "crack spread" on turning Natural Gas into Ethanol it's going to be eaten away as NG gets more expensive.

I agree that overturning the existing mandate will be difficult, especially with the prevailing 'one dollar-one vote' form of democracy. Still, some solace is to be had watching evidence-based reality kill the efforts of space cadets such as Dr. Robert Zubrin to have flex-fuel vehicles mandated, as well as efforts to increase the proportion of mandated bio-fuel.



Does anyone expect new investment money in the ethanol boondoggle? How long before the Earth Liberation Front turns its attention from SUV sales lots to ethanol plants?

Well considering that the seems the dems have all the money, we might be seeing the "tyrnany of the poor and minorities"

Errr, both sides borrow and spend. Team B does it better than Team A is all.

(But make no mistake - the Teams are just putting on a show - its not about getting real work done.)

I didn't know, but a little googling around revealed that the "Earth Liberation Front" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_Liberation_Front) has made it from John Brunner's "Sheep Look Up" into reality. Interesting fact.

I can't swing a cat (and I have plenty of those) without hitting someone in the business - the only folks here who don't think ethanol is going under are those involved in operating ethanol plants. I've talked to, in the last week or so, the agronomist for one of our coops, a couple of farmers, some other business leaders in the area, and when the topic of ethanol comes up we're talking its impending doom.

Senator Harkin or Grassley wouldn't admit it, but I think everyone knows that this is coming.

There also seems to be a fair amount of recognition of the problem among beer drinkers, since there's now a Hops shortage thats affecting microbreweries as a result of farmers switching over en masse to corn for ethanol.

This (hops shortage) can only be a good thing long run. If a shortage of a luxury item like beer (and I do like a hops filled beer) helps more people to understand the problems with ethanol, and perhaps the wider energy problems, than it wil inevitibly be (slightly) less painful than if (when?) there is a shortage of oh say... bread perhaps.

"Beer.. the solution and cause to all our problems!" Homer J Simpson

(Okay, Ron, I know you're a Bourbon man)


Fermenting Revolution: How to Drink Beer and Save the World

Eric Sevareid's Law: "The chief cause of problems is solutions."

Biofuels are the perfect example of Sevareid's law.

The hops shortage has little if any to due with farmers planting corn, at least in the US. Virtually all of the hops are grown in the Pacific Northwest, with 75% of the acreage in the Yakima valley alone. Corn is not planted there in any significant amount.


It at least has to do with it indirectly. The price of hops is going up along with the price of everything else. Here's an article from last fall that illustrates some of the info. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21491206/

But the one thing I have to stress about this is that its the perfect way the open up discussion with the average american (men, mostly) about peak oil. I just got a friend of mine to listen to me briefly explain the dynamics of oil supply and why its making beer more expensive.

People (especially American men) are less receptive to discussion about getting into a 2 seater smartcar and more receptive to wondering what they will do about this unfortunate increase in beer prices (seriously!). It really is an effective conversation starter for spreading the word.

I'm with ya in spirit, man, but hops is high because production bounced down to far off an overproduction bubble (from your MSNBC article):

A decade-long oversupply of hops that had forced farmers to abandon the crop is finally gone and harvests were down this year. In the United States, where one-fourth of the world’s hops are grown, acreage fell 30 percent between 1995 and 2006.

Where are you from JoulesBurn? I live in Oregon but I lived in Central Washington in the 80s and I have gone there several times over the years. I saw lots of corn growing south of Yakima all the way to the Canada. Your reference says nothing about corn.

As the coming energy collapse - Peak Oil - Peak food - apocalypse - crash of civilization does not seem to resonate with the public, perhaps "Peak Beer" will catch the attention of the populace. At least that of "Joe Six Pack".

Maybe I should get ahead of the curve and copyright the phrases "Joe four-pack" and "Joe two-pack" while I have the chance.


Sorry if this link has been posted before. Not sure if it scales...


Ten little energy-solutions were initiated, one was debunked, and then there were nine ….

Biofuels are going to mean, you eating a burrito before taking off somewhere on your bicycle.



See http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/64c69186-0952-11dd-81bf-0000779fd2ac.html?ncli...

In particular, look down page at the graphs of global food prices and biodiesel production. They're almost identical -- which probably somewhat overstates the case. (An instance of the facts overstating the case?)

Why go back to the drawing board? Why not just admit that since there is no panacea, in your point of view? Nothing will be done just because it is right, and no one can say that "we must do" a particular thing, so, ergo, there are no solutions.

Sorry, I have to think that if Americans were intelligent enough to do "the right thing" as I think of it, and conserve on a massive scale, such as mass transit (preferably electrified rail), carpool, walk/hike to work, triplink, and all of the other possibilities to save liquid hydrocarbons, we could reduce the approx. 2/3 of our nationwide consumption of fossil fuels by a substantial amount (I do not have a link to the actual % of our consumption which is used for transportation, but I think it is 68%). The idiocy of single passenger commutes in gas guzzlers, or even thinking 40-50 mpg vehicles will do anything substantial to reduce our consumption drives me crazy.

So does adopting a hopeless attitude.

I have no idea for how long, but the US presently produces some approx 35% of our own consumption, which might not be enough to supply us with your laundry list (plastics, pesticides,etc.), but we are at a point where literally everythingwe can do to reduce demand counts. And, it counts with respect to PO and GW/CC. Sure, we have the same problems with depletion as every other producing country, but we are consuming excessively and "have" to stop.

but we are consuming excessively and "have" to stop.

Woody, what we "have" to do and what we "will" do are two entirely different things. You simply cannot propose a solution to a problem that has not arrived, have everyone adopt that solution and prevent the problem from happening. The world does not work that way because only a very few people will believe that a problem actually exists, or that a problem is about to happen.

People will act only after the problem is already upon them and affecting them personally. People will stop over consuming when they can no longer afford to consume just as people will stop eating when they can no longer afford food. That is a happening right in Haiti and a lot of other places.

And if my hopeless attitude bothers you that much then just sing "Don't worry, Be happy, Consume less, Consume less" and see if that helps.

Ron Patterson

Some of the other people on here are also doing the right thing, and doing what they/we can to actually make a difference. How does that saying / prayer go "God, give me the strength to change things which need to be changed, accept the things I cannot and the wisdom to know the difference." I can change this aspect of my life, others are changing this aspect of theirs, and many more seem to want to. Maybe we won't be enough, but maybe we will influence others. My son is 43, still an Anthropogenic GW denier, but is nonetheless is starting to make the changes in his life to make it more livable and hold himself up as a responsible person.

We can make a difference, and we do have the strength to change them. We cannot totally solve the problem, but hypothetically, let's say that we can reduce fossil fuel use by 15%. That reduces our overall consumption by over 10%. Since we import 68%, that drops our imports to 58%, and reduces worldwide comsumption by roughly 2.5%. Think that might stop some of the idiocy in the manufactured fuels industry? It would allso give those who would become GTL and CTL plant operators some time to clean up their act, which could be mandated, if we had enough people doing the right thing. This right thing being electing responsible people to Federal elected positions who will actually represent the people who elected them, and be responsible with both or dollars and our environment. We still have to have business, and we have to have an equitable treatment for the people who cannot make it in our current economy.

Now, if we really applied ourselves, we could also do something in the electric vehicle arena, get electiified rail up and going, and switch to local sourceing of what we need.

We will not solve the problem, we can have a "soft landing", even though I doubt that enough people will make the changes in their lives to make that happen. At the least, we can die trying, in a metaphorical sense.

Either that, or "Party On." Your party must be a real bummer - everything is of no consequence, so why try, right?

Hope for the best (within the bounds of reason), but plan for the worst. Try to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem, but also try to minimize your vulnerability as much as you possibly can. That's what I'm trying to do, anyway.

Ron - I didn't get a chance yesterday to check out the comments on denial yesterday but it looks like psycologists now have a term for coming to reality: "Waking Up Syndrome"

Here is a link:


“Humankind cannot bear very much reality." — T. S. Eliot

Thanks Joe, this looks good. I am going to print it out and read it at my leisure. But this line caught my eye: Build a lifeboat for ourselves and our loved ones. That is what I have been preaching for years.

Ron Patterson

Build a lifeboat for ourselves and our loved ones. That is what I have been preaching for years.

"Best hopes" that "our loved ones" in the lifeboat with us wait until we're dead before eating us. The ape's cannibal nature tends to crop up in survival situations.

There is a lot of reality in that short article Joe.
It's a revealing and not too subtle read.

Those who believe that we can “find something else” that will stave off, or even mitigate, absolute disaster are in the worst kind of denial.

Well, what choice do they have? They're scared. Grasping at straws is what drowning ppl do.

Biofuels are made from food, or land that once produced food.

Or land that once supported a diverse, integrated ecosystem that functioned as an optimum solar energy harvesting plenum... that was destroyed... to produce food so that the ecocidal ape could grow its population. Now some apes are more than happy to consign other apes to starvation so that they can continue to operate the machines that drive them.

That leaves wind, solar and nuclear to replace all liquid fuel that powers the planet.

All you need to do in order to secure peace of mind is buy in for the years or decades 'til personal mortality makes it all irrelevant.

Since all the news about the Food Crisis and Starvation and Dieoff etc,

It might be good to review some of the work done in that area. More specifically, what (from a unique perspective) can be pragmatically done to... er.. well you guess.


On Dec. 10, 1974, the U.S. National Security Council under Henry Kissinger completed a classified 200-page study, "National Security Study Memorandum 200: Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for U.S. Security and Overseas Interests." The study falsely claimed that population growth in the so-called Lesser Developed Countries (LDCs) was a grave threat to U.S. national security. Adopted as official policy in November 1975 by President Gerald Ford, NSSM 200 outlined a covert plan to reduce population growth in those countries through birth control, and also, implicitly, war and famine. Brent Scowcroft, who had by then replaced Kissinger as national security adviser (the same post Scowcroft was to hold in the Bush administration), was put in charge of implementing the plan. CIA Director George Bush was ordered to assist Scowcroft, as were the secretaries of state, treasury, defense, and agriculture.


"Mandatory programs may be needed and we should be considering these possibilities now," the document continued, adding, "Would food be considered an instrument of national power? ... Is the U.S. prepared to accept food rationing to help people who can't/won't control their population growth?"

Kissinger also predicted a return of famines that could make exclusive reliance on birth control programs unnecessary. "Rapid population growth and lagging food production in developing countries, together with the sharp deterioration in the global food situation in 1972 and 1973, have raised serious concerns about the ability of the world to feed itself adequately over the next quarter of a century and beyond," he reported.


Next quarter century and beyond is about NOW.

And the current PTB have banned birth control, which leaves us with war and famine. Pestilence can't be too far behind.

Probably not a coincidence that Kissinger produced this study during an energy crisis.

Do some googling on Rockefeller, Population Control, etc.

These guys wouldn't think of (say) getting 80% of the 3rd world ag using GMO seeds and then.... have a problem that only affected that one monoculture? Nah, They would have to have a world view that most of the 3rd world populations are just "Useless Eaters".

Hmm, Oh yea, Kissinger did use that exact term about them.

Read this artcle with the above the 1974 study in mind. They have been busy working in those 25 or so years.

Unleashing GMO Seeds: "Food is Power"


Crucial to its strategy, GMO giants needed a "new technology which would allow them to sell seed that would not reproduce." They developed one called GURTs (Genetic Use Restriction Technologies) that became known as "Terminator" seeds. The process is patented, it applies to all plant and seed species, and replanting them doesn't work. They won't grow. It's the industry's solution to controlling world food production and assuring themselves big profits as a result. What a discovery. Terminator corn, soybean and other seeds have been "genetically modified to 'commit suicide' after one harvest season" by a toxin-producing inbuilt gene.

A closely related technology is called T-GURT seeds, or second generation Terminators, nicknamed "Traitor." The technology relies on controlling both plant fertility and its genetic characteristics with "an inducible gene promoter" called a "gene switch." GMO pest and disease-resistant crops only work by using a specific chemical compound companies like Monsanto make. Farmers buying seeds illegally won't get the compound to "turn on" the resistant gene. Traitor technology thus creates a captive new market for the GMO giants, and Traitor is cheaper to produce than Terminator seeds.

Combined, these two technologies give agribusiness giants unprecedented powers. "For the first time in history, it (lets) three or four private multinational seed companies....dictate terms to world farmers for their seed." It's a biological warfare tool almost "too good to believe" in the face of open citizen opposition the industry and US Department of Agriculture (USDA) aim to quash.

USDA spokesman Willard Phelps was quoted from a June, 1998 interview saying the agency wanted Terminator technology to be "widely licensed and made expeditiously available to many seed companies." Hidden was the reason why - to introduce these seeds to the developing world as the prime Rockefeller Foundation strategy. Engdahl called it a "Trojan Horse for Western GMO seed giants to get control over Third World food supplies in areas with weak or non-existent patent laws." It became an urgent Foundation priority to spread the seeds worldwide to irreversibly capture world markets. USDA fully backed the scheme.


Err, ahhh, solar power isn't feasible ... if they could turn off the sun for anyone who didn't pay their "sun bill", they'd do it. It would be like in that Simpsons episode where Mr. Burns puts a big shade over Springfield.

I don't suppose the IP laws will be overhauled until after the collapse, but they desperately need to be.

A very large percentage of these so called charitable foundations are corrupt "taxpayer funded" entities. They are taxpayer funded because they do not pay any tax on income, even though their activities are designed to either benefit their benefactors or to control the poor as you point out.

At least the United States should close this tax loophole, since it is unclear what broad societal benefit has been produced from multiple trillions in tax exemptions that has gone over the decades to these "charitable" foundations. This IMO should be the first focus of any tax reform.

Congo (formerly Zaire) trys to Climb Back from Social Collapse

Chinese money helps



ReLighting the US Capitol more efficiently

Expensive, but as a symbol, worth doing IMHO.



U.N. official urges exemption for China, India

China and India should not have to submit to the same restrictions on carbon emissions that the United States and other developed nations must, the United Nations' top climate negotiator said in an interview.

Different and more lenient rules for China, India, Africa, and other developing nations is only fair.

A +5% growth in carbon for Africa, flat for China and India, -10% for EU, and -20% for USA, Canada and Australia in 2019 would be quite fair, taking into account per capita levels of carbon and how much carbon currently in the atmosphere (and will be there for centuries) came from the different nations.

Global Warming is *NOT* just what is emitted this year, but what was burned in 1962 as well. And even if nations get a pass on earlier emissions because they did not know better, that excuse no longer applies past 1990 or so.

If an African nation builds a hydroelectric, geothermal or solar power plant and turns off an oil or coal fired plant, they can sell the carbon credit (plus their 5% growth) to the nations that cannot get their act together.

Best Hopes for Fairness,


Alan ,you or someone may know the answer to this question:

If we're to suddenly stop buring hydrocabons tommorow (unlikely I know!!) what %age of atmospheric C02 is sunk by the sea each year? I cite the sea as I think the oceans sink far more than the land does.


In the Climate Code Red report it indicates that oceans and land mass sink carbon "equally", but it's not clear what percent of total gross carbon sinking they account for.

Here are a few excerpts from Climate Code Red:

Ocean carbon cycle feedback: (Page 14)

Part of the decline in sink capacity comes from a decrease of up to 30% in the efficiency (capacity to absorb CO2) of the Southern Ocean sink over the last 20 years, attributed to the strengthening of the winds around Antarctica which enhances ventilation of natural carbonrich deep waters. Lead author Corinne Le Quéré says: “This is the first time that we’ve been able to say that climate change itself is responsible for the saturation of the Southern Ocean sink. This is serious. All climate models predict that this kind of ‘feedback’ will continue and intensify during this century.

The Earth’s carbon sinks — of which the Southern Ocean accounts for 15% — absorb about half of all human carbon emissions. With the Southern Ocean reaching its saturation point more CO2 will stay in our atmosphere” (Le Quéré, Rodenbeck et al., 2007; NIWA, 2007).
Consistent with this were the results of measurements of the North Atlantic taken from the mid-1990s to 2005 which found that the amount of CO2 in the water had reduced by half over the decade. It is suggested that warmer surface water was reducing the amount of CO2 being carried down into the deep ocean. Lead researcher Andrew Watson said: “We suspect that it is climatically driven, that the
sink is much more sensitive to changes in climate than we expected… if you have a series of relatively warm winters, the ocean surface doesn’t cool quite so much, you don’t get so much sub-surface water
formed and so the CO2 is not being taken down into the deep water” and warned that the process may fuel climate change: “It will be a positive feedback, because if the oceans take up less CO2 then
CO2 will go up faster in the atmosphere and that will increase the global warming” (Woodcock 2007).

A landmark study in 2000 found that about half of the current emissions are being absorbed by the ocean and by land ecosystems, but this absorption is sensitive to climate, as well as to atmospheric CO2 concentrations, which are creating a feedback loop such that under a “business as usual” scenario the terrestrial biosphere acts as an overall carbon sink until about 2050, then turns into a source thereafter as the sinks fail. This is a “slow” feedback that will increase temperatures by another 1.5°C by 2100 (Cox, Betts et al., 2000).

In addition to this, satellite data gathered over the past ten years shows that the growth of marine phytoplankton, the basis of the entire ocean food chain, is being adversely affected by rising sea temperatures (Behrenfeld, Worthington, et al., 2007). Phytoplankton, the microscopic plants that permeate the oceans remove up to 50 billion tonnes of CO2 per year from the Earth’s atmosphere, as much as all plant life on the planet’s terrestrial surface.

Marine life will also be further weakened by ocean acidification. The oceans are already 30% more acidic than they were at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. If emissions continue as “business as usual”, CO2 levels in the oceans will rise to a point where, by 2050, ocean acidification will reach a level considered to be equivalent to industrial waste by the US’s own water quality standards Caldeira, Archer et al., 2007). If unabated it will have “the potential to cause extinction of many marine species… What we’re doing in the next decade will affect our oceans for millions of years… CO2 levels are going up extremely rapidly, and it’s overwhelming our marine systems” (Eilperin,
2006; NASA, 2006b). Waters around the Great Barrier Reef are acidifying at a higher-than-expected rate, leading Professor Malcolm McCulloch of the Australian National University to observe that it appears “this acidification is now taking place over decades rather than centuries as originally predicted” (Kleinman, 2007). Ecosystem collapse caused by acidification will likely reduce marine biomass and therefore the capacity of the oceans to absorb CO2.


Fair would be an equal carbon tax for all, rather than encouraging developing countries to emit even more CO2. Then the largest per-capita emitters would pay proportionately more, but all would be encouraged to minimize carbon emissions. Those that did not adopt carbon taxes could still be indirectly influenced by import taxes.

I agree that logically countries should be the same. More important is Geography. Nepal? Greenland? Canada?..Unless we are going to redraw the countries map into longitudinal strips from pole to pole giving every country a sector containing every latitude.

The idea that the Bahamas needs the same carbon footprint as Scotland is daft. Sure, the inhospitable places should lose population accordingly, but you need a transition plan from step A to B.

It is also grossly unfair that colder countries should be forced to have the same per person carbon footprint as warmer countries. Unless the UN is willing to see people in Canada and Norway freeze to death.

Canada and Norway both have enough hydroelectric, wind and wood resources AND capital to heat themselves with zero (or trivial) fossil fuels.

True for every other function in those two nations except farming and fishing.


This article from the NY Times reminded me a bit of Tainter, since they note that the drought that accompanied the Anasazi collapse was no worse than a drought they had previously survived.

Vanished: A Pueblo Mystery

Juxtaposing data on rainfall, temperature, soil productivity, human metabolic needs and diet, gleaned from an analysis of trash heaps and human waste, the model suggests a sobering conclusion: As Anasazi society became more complex, it also became more fragile.

Corn was domesticated and then wild turkeys, an important protein source. With more to eat, the populations grew and aggregated into villages. Religious and political institutions sprung up.

When crops began dying and violence increased, the inhabitants clustered even closer. By the time the drought of 1275 hit, the Anasazi had become far more dependent on agriculture than during earlier droughts. And they had become more dependent on each other.

“You can’t easily peel off a lineage here and a lineage there and have them go their own way,” Dr. Kohler said. “These parts are no longer redundant. They’re part of an integrated whole.” Pull one thread and the whole culture unwinds.

Brian Fagan has also written about this in a couple or more books. In the Long Summer he suggested that the issues of population density made the difference between what happened in earlier droughts and later ones - although he talked more of the area around the Fertile Crescent, which had somewhat the same sort of problems, but in earlier times.

I'm starting to see the complexity = fragility meme in various places, this is a very good thing. If that meme can get around, maybe then people will be more susceptible to the efficiency = fragility meme also.

One thing that individuals who are preparing for a low energy/self-sufficient future quickly learn is the difficulty of balancing robustness, efficiency and complexity.

I'll use myself as an example: Our power sources are the grid, a 3.6kW PV system, an 8kW gas generator and a 23kW diesel generator. If fuel became scarce, I'd convert the generators to wood gas, adding another layer of complexity. However, from my perspective, the robustness of having various power alternatives far out weigh all the complexity. This might be OK for me since I can repair and manage all this stuff but it would be far different for someone who only knows how to flick a switch.

Similar concerns have to be considered for food production, etc. What's good for one person might not be good for others.


"This might be OK for me since I can repair and manage all this stuff but it would be far different for someone who only knows how to flick a switch."

This is actually another layer to this: role specialization. As society becomes more complex, different roles emerge. Thats what makes people like economists and lawyers dependant on that society. Once the social framework begins to break down theres no more need for someone who's only specialization is adding money or keeping rapists out of jail. All those people suddleny have no way to support themselves and/or become a burden on everyone else, and thus drag the whole society down.

Now that of course is a generalization, as for instance a housing contractor could be good at building/maintaining houses and also and thus built on that to become a savvy business owner.

In fact, overspecialization in any field can be dangerous. Being an engineer who only knows how to run computer simulations on airfoils might not be very helpful either.

It's also a dream.

I bet the politicians, lawyers and accountants will still be earning money from the corpse of the last engineer [speaking as an engineer not a lawyer].

*clap* *clap*

Hence why the brightest and best tend away from Engineering.

The goals of robustness, efficiency and complexity are resolved by simplicity. Cut your usage to what can be powered by a 1kW PV system, as some here at TOD have already done with no ill effects, and you no longer need the grid tie and the two generators. Plus, you'd have an extra 2.6kW of PV surplus supply. You could keep the grid tie for redundancy, as it costs almost nothing if you don't use it.

The PV system is sized to run my 2hp well pump and even this takes some work-arounds since the system never puts out enough to let the pump just run. For those who care, there is a take off from the pressure switch hooked to a solenoid valve on the line to the storage tanks. When the pump comes on, the flow to the tanks is stopped until the captive air tank is full and the pump turns off. The flow rate to the tanks is adjusted such that the batteries are at full charge and the PV diverts. Rinse and repeat.

As far as a grid tie goes, I have a better deal with time of use metering (TOU) which I would have to give up if I grid tied. We switch off the grid during peak rates (noon to 6PM weekdays) and run off the PV system.


Re the well pump, I have two well pumps down the (90 foot) well. One is a 3/4 hp submersible in case of fire or some other emergency that I run briefly once a year to see if it still works.

The second is a 60 watt 12/24 volt DC submersible that is high pressure but low volume. This in conjunction with a large pressure tank - 100 gal. has worked without problems for about 10 years now. Last summer was very dry here and I watered a large (1/2 acre) garden using drip irrigation with the little pump and still had enough water for the usual things. Solar watered vegies anyone! However for showers, I had to turn off the irrigation to let the pressure build up.

Front loading, low water, low energy auto washing machine works happily with the system. When I bought it about 8 years ago, I was surprised to find out from the sales blurb that it had a high efficiency variable speed permanent magnet DC motor in it, instead of an induction motor. Runs nicely on 120vac from the inverter. Cost about $700.

It is possible to adjust your life,


SolarHouse, would that be a ShurFlo9300 submersible pump perchance? How many gpm does it deliver from that 90 foot well?

I designed a PV system for my passive solar house in Colorado about 10 years ago. I had 1.36 KW 48V PV system and a 4KW inverter, with NO generator backup. The reason I went without generator backup was that when I priced out a diesel generator, diesel tank, and accessories; I decided I could take the backup generator money along with the money I would spend on battery backup and buy a huge battery backup.

So instead of having a backup generator with a 2-3 day battery bank (60-70% depth of discharge), I had a 10-12 day battery bank only. There were a couple of advantages: 1) no generator maintenance, 2) no fuel usage/maintenance, 3) much lower battery depth of discharge, therefore battery bank would last longer. Of course, the disadvantage is that I couldn't last much longer than 10-12 days without sunlight, but in SW Colorado that wasn't much of an issue.

As far as a well setup, I went from a single-pump system to a two-pump system. The well pump pumped water into an 1800 gal cistern, and the other pump pumped from the cistern to the pressure vessel. The main reason I did this is because the water was loaded with sulfur, and whew! did it stink the house up. This sulfur smell is mainly SO2 that is solution under the ground. The first time it has a chance to come out of solution was when the water saw atmospheric pressure. Guess when the first time the water saw atmospheric pressure... correct, when it comes out of the faucet. So, I pumped it into the 1800 gal cistern first, which with our usage came out to a 10-14 day residence time for the water. More than enough time for the SO2 to come out of solution before it came into the house. How did it work? It reduced the sulfur smell by about 95%. Sweet... pun intended.


ZW, do you have all of your batteries in one bank, or separated. It would seem there's a limit to how many batteries you can couple to a given-sized PV array. That is, if you have too many batteries, when you deplete them during low solar output periods, it takes too long to fill them & they suffer damage from being partially discharged for too long. It's important to fully charge your battery bank on a regular basis, every few days. What has your experience been? How old are the batteries now. I did something similar (no generator, more batteries) but split the batteries into 2 banks, with a breaker. Every few days, I switch to the other bank, but only after the active bank has filled--never when partially discharged, as they're going to sit for awhile. None of the solar distributors I asked thought this was doable or a good idea, but Rex Ewing in his alternative power book "Power With Nature" mentions doing it.


Good question. I had mine in one bank and the deepest I ever discharged them was around 55%, once. It is interesting how we started using less and less energy as another cloudy day came. When the sun came back, I think it took 3 days to charge above 90%, but we didn't use much electricity during those three days either. We don't live there anymore so I don't know how the bank is doing.
For a given size PV array, it is hard to figure out what the maximum size battery bank could be. Doing a thought experiment, if it were big enough for a 200 day backup at 60% depth of discharge, and one went 20 days in a row without sunlight, the battery bank would only get 6% depleted. Would that harm the batteries, even if it took 2-3 weeks to recharge? I don't know, though it would seem to me that the batteries would be fine.


Just as an example, I built an off-grid house 20 years ago, with 800 watts of PV and a 1KW wind turbine. Typically I use about one kilowatt hour of electricity per day. This includes the frig with freezer, lights, a laptop that's on all day and the usual farm type toys like table saw, grinders etc. I am however very careful about wall-warts. The only backup power I have is a propane 3 KW generator that I last used for an hour or so in December when it was very cloudy and I decided to plane a bunch of lumber.

Just for your interest, with the rising price of wheat, I dug out a 15 year old electric bread maker and tried it out. Worked fine but used about 1/2 KWH of energy. I took it apart and found it had no insulation. Stuffed mineral wool insulation everywhere inside including the lid and put it back together. It does have thermostatic control and the bread came out if anything, more evenly baked. Total energy consumption with the changes came to 0.198 KWH. Now I usually make bread twice a week. Has lowered the grocery bill quite a bit, since I usually bought (remarkably expensive) organic bread.

Encouraged by this, I went to look at new bread makers thinking they would be more energy efficient, but to my surprise? not one of them had any insulation. Sales clerks were not particularly happy with my holding all their bread makers up to the lights while peering through the holes. No energy star ratings for these things. For all you entrepreneur types here is a business opportunity.

Chewing on home made Focacia bread,


Interesting observation. There's a chicken cooking in my crock pot as we speak. I cover the glass top with a towel to help reduce heat loss, but the sides are un-insulated and hot to the touch. I've like to wrap a towel around the sides as well, but I'm worried about causing internal damage; presumably there's a thermostatic control that cycles the heating element on and off but I don't want to take it apart to confirm this.

I use this slow cooker a lot. My electric convection oven draws 5,200-watts and I figure I can cook an entire meal in the crock pot (275-watts) using less electricity than what it would take just to preheat the oven. Plus, if need be, I can plug it in outdoors so that I don't add needless heat inside the house during the summer months.

Last week I redeemed some credit card points for a BergHOFF induction hob. Induction cookers are apparently 90 per cent efficient in terms of their heat transfer whereas a gas cook top is said to be no more than 55 per cent -- with gas burners, much of the heat is lost around the sides of the pot; with induction cooking, it's the pot itself that heats up, not the burner.

At 90 per cent efficiency, for each kWh consumed, I should net 3,071 BTUs. To achieve the same amount of useful heat with the gas cook top, I would require 5,584 BTUs of propane (0.23 litres). I currently pay $0.1067 per kWh for electricity and $1.25 per litre of propane, so BTU for BTU, propane is 2.7 times more expensive.


A note on using induction cookers - they only work with ferrous metal pots and pans. Your typical stainless steel pot won't work on these cookers!

Another alternative for slow cooking is a "hay box". This is simply a well-insulated box into which you place a pot that has already been heated. I built one using 4" insulating foam board cut to fit around a stock pot, and lined the cutout section with heavy duty aluminum foil. My wife has put a stock pot with chicken bones veggies etc and 24 hours later the pot is still too hot to retrieve by hand. During the winter we've been preheating pots on our wood insert stove, which has a flat top suitable for placing pots.

Hi liferaft,

Thanks for the tip regarding compatible cookware; I had read that as well. This item ships with a fry pan but I'll likely need to purchase a suitable pot. I'm taking a magnet along when I make this purchase -- I'm told that if a magnet sticks to the bottom of the pot, it should work just fine.

One other thing I should note. Whenever I need to boil large quantities of water such as when making pasta, I heat this water in an electric kettle then transfer it to the pot. This way, virtually 100 per cent of the heat is transferred to the water, as opposed to 50 or 55 per cent in the case of a gas cook top. This also helps minimize the need to run the kitchen exhaust hood because much less heat and humidity is released into the air, in addition to fewer [potentially harmful] combustion by-products. With this latter point in mind, the standard practice in this household is to turn on the exhaust hood whenever a burner is in use, and during the winter months this can suck-out a considerable amount of conditioned air.

The hay box idea sounds like a great idea and I might give that a try; I have used thermal carafes (the type used to serve coffee) in a similar fashion. I'm going to see if I can verify that my slow cooker is thermostatically controlled. If so, I should be able to insulate the sides in addition to the top without the risk of thermal damage. If at some point I purchase or borrow a Kill-a-watt monitor, I should be able judge whether this is effective or not.


This way, virtually 100 per cent of the heat is transferred to the water, as opposed to 50 or 55 per cent in the case of a gas cook top.

Please provide data for this.

1kwH per day is pretty good. Much respect!

Well, I'm going to stick this in here: All of this would be good for TOD Campfire if it ever happens. My response would be quite long and detailed and, ultimately, lead to even more responses. I'm going to let it go at this point so there aren't more responses....and it's not a cop out really.

Although no PTB has yet to officially approach me about "hosting" a Campfire thing, I "think" they would agree that we are going beyond what they want the main thread to be at this point.


Hi Todd;
I find the stories of personal solutions and Renewable projects, etc.. to be the most uplifting information at this site. While I don't expect TOD to be the 'Solar Cooking Blog', it is both refreshing and encouraging to hear about actual experiences on the ground with these things.

We've been slow-cooking a lot more things like Bone-broths and such in the last year, and while we may have more nutrients in our soups, I cringe seeing that electric range sitting on 'Low' all night long. After the 'Breadmaker' story up above, I started looking into creating Insulator wrappings for stewpots, and seeing about 'Haybox' equivalents for Crockpots, as was also mentioned above. My own plan ultimately is to devise a solar oven/range that is INSIDE the kitchen, but built into a wall adjoining the collector mirrors outside or on the roof. Heavy insulation could produce a decent HotBox that would slowcook stews and such, and of course, that oven door could just be kept open and heating the house when it's cold out and nothing is cooking..

Anyway, this kind of testimony is more concrete and productive for me personally than most of the studies and charts that we see, and certainly more 'nutrient-rich' than pretty much all of the surmising about Human Nature during collapses, or whether Americans will be decent to their neighbors during a coming rough patch.. as if there's any one answer to that question.. I am here for ALL the info that is offered.. I just like the family-workshop scale stuff the best, and would like to see it go viral somehow!

Campfire sounds good to me!

My own plan ultimately is to devise a solar oven/range that is INSIDE the kitchen, but built into a wall adjoining the collector mirrors outside or on the roof.

Already been done. They're usually in a drawer similar to the sort you see at drive through windows for banks and such. Put in your food, push it out to cook. Done, pull it back to the inside.

In the meantime, get yourself two cardboard boxes (the smaller 1 to 2 inches smaller in length, width and height), some weather stripping or silicone caulk, some black, non-toxic paint, a pane of tempered glass, some aluminum foil/other reflective material and some insulation (I used old long johns!) and make yourself a solar oven. Mine got up to near 300F.

The one I made has no plans here, but all you do is set one box inside the other. Use the flaps or excess height to make flaps to close the gaps of the tops (put the insulation in first with spacers on the bottom!) and the rest should be self-explanatory.



If you can rig up or buy a solar powered tracker on a lazy susan-type base for the cooker, you can leave it all day without having to move it - more efficient that way. Or you can try this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69FXae8DOlU

Depending on what you have around the house, you can make an oven for as little as ten to twenty bucks.


On the theme of simplicity, this year I've started some preliminary experiments in no-till agriculture.


Be sure to buy the books by Masanobu Fukuoka. The how-to book is called The Natural Way of Farming. The english version is actually published in India. I had to import mine from India, but now it is available on Amazon.com!

If you're not tilling, you don't need plows. If you don't plow, you don't need tractors, oxen, horses or all the other doodah. If you don't have tractors, oxen, horses etc. you don't need a barn or workshop.

Fukuoka has four rules:

1) No Cultivation. (I used to think "cultivation" just meant growing things, but it actually means tilling the soil.)
2) No Fertilizer. (White clover, a nitrogen-fixing legume, is used as a "green fertilizer.")
3) No Weeding
4) No Pesticides

This is an extremely low-labor, low capital way of growing things. However, it is quite sophisticated, as you work with very gentle, subtle techniques rather than the "Shock and Awe" methods of modern agriculture. It is more like negotiating a trade agreement with nature. Fukuoka sustains yields of 13,000+ lbs of rice per acre with these methods, year after year with no fallow periods in 50 years. I have 3-4 plantable acres available. I figure if I get 1/20th the yield, with about eight days (64 hours) of labor per year (compared to three days for Fukuoka), that will be more than enough for me and everyone I know. Most suburbanites spend more time than that trimming their bushes. So far this year, I've spent 45 minutes, to seed the land with white clover. Total cost thus far is $125 for clover seed, $13 for clay and humus to make seedballs, and $150 for a hand-made Austrian scythe to clear overgrowth. As for tools, I don't think I'll need more than the scythe and a sickle. Forget all that motorized big-ticket crap.

I actually have some rice seed from Fukuoka's farm in Shikoku. It is a special variety derived from old, traditional Japanese rice varieties. I heard it was the first such seed to arrive in North America.

Pull one thread and the whole culture unwinds.

That "one thread" that was pulled was the arrival of Na-Dene speaking "head-bangers" on the scene.

MEED has an article about Manifa. Behind a paywall, but you can get in free via Google News.

As part of its initiative to increase crude oil production to 12.5 million barrels per day (bpd) by the end of 2010, Aramco has planned the redevelopment of the Manifa field.

The project will increase the production of Arabian heavy crude by 300,000 bpd in the first phase. Aramco plans to increase capacity, in three stages, to about 900,000 bpd.

The offshore field is planned to be brought into full production by 2009/10. The offshore Manifa field is located to the southeast of Safaniyah. Production from the field dates back to 1964 following the drilling of eight development wells. However, the facilities were mothballed soon after. The field is estimated to hold reserves of about 10 billion barrels.

I thought they were only adding production capacity, not production :-)

Edit: BTW, they can't find buyers for their heavy oil.

Leanan, sorry to bother you, but would you be so kind to relink yesterdays' link to the huffington post article? There was no discussion about it in the thread below, at all.

Have you seen this from todays times? Out energy worries will soon be over.

"Although methane is a cleaner-burning fossil fuel than coal or oil, the as yet untapped methane hydrates represent “captured” greenhouse gasses that some believe should remain locked under the sea. The mining of methane ice could also wreak havoc on marine ecosystems."

It is generally believed that a release of methane hydrades triggered the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PEMT). The PEMT resulted in the highest climate temperatures in the fossil record and one of the largest extinction events in earth's history.

... represent degassing of clathrates ("methane ice" deposits), which accentuated a pre-existing warming trend.

Before anyone starts mining methane clathrates (a.k.a. methane hydrates), please wait until I have found a suitable planet to which to relocate. Thank you for your consideration.

From the Article:

Environmentalists, though, are horrified by the idea of releasing huge quantities of methane from under the seabeds... Japan is growing ever-more desperate to secure its energy, as once-reliable suppliers - such as Indonesia and Australia - have begun either to cut back exports of natural gas and coal or charge crippling prices.

I'm currently in the middle of watching the "World at War" documentary series, so Japanese energy desperation strikes a chord.

And here I have been planning on experiencing nuclear armeggedon. Maybe I was mistaken, and it will be more of a Methane-Induced Armegeddon. Oh boy, what fascinating times we live in! And to think, I'm only 24, and so am guaranteed a front row seat till the end.

There are no guarantees. My nephew, Matthew (15yo), skateboarded his face into the grill of a truck a few months back and almost went extinct. Careful crossing the street.



... represent degassing of clathrates ("methane ice" deposits), which accentuated a pre-existing warming trend.

Before anyone starts mining methane clathrates (a.k.a. methane hydrates), please wait until I have found a suitable planet to which to relocate. Thank you for your consideration.

And I would rather see them mined and oxidized than simply letting the methane belch forth. In either case, we're in for more GHG and climate change. Methane is said to have about 20 times the IR-scattering power of CO2.


That's the biggest Bic lighter I have ever seen.

I've always wondered when someone would get around to mining methane hydrates. It makes a lot of sense it would be Japan. We'd all be better off if they stuck to making solar cells more efficient, but you can't blame them for wanting a back-up plan.

Methane hydrates are like the Bakken shale and tar sands. There's a lot out there, and sometimes in decent concentrations, but mostly it's a large amount spread over a huge area. Those hydrates come with the added problem that it may be possible to destabilize a bed and release far more methane than you're prepared to capture. OTOH, it's probably *much* better to capture and burn methane from a particular bed if there's reason to believe that rising temperatures will release it anyway. Methane's a strong greenhouse gas.

Never seen hydrates compared to sorbet before.


Alaska and NW Canada seem to be favored as the places to test things like hydrate extraction or Toshiba's mini-nuke.

"Commercial production, a Jogmec spokesman told The Times, would begin within the decade."

Time to shop for a villa in the Yukon...

Kim, it simply ain't gonna happen. First you must specify which hydrates you are talking about, those buried under the Arctic Tundra or those buried beneath the sea.

The Arctic hydrates are buried beneath the permafrost from anywhere between a few feet to a few hundred feet deep. You could strip mine the entire tundra, getting a few thousand cubic meters of methane for every square kilometer of tundra strip mined. Remember the tundra is frozen, it would be like mining in ice. And you still must separate the hydrates from the frozen dirt and rocks. I don't think there is a chance of getting enough energy recovered as energy spent in such an environmentally disastrous operation.

Hydrates beneath the sea are an even bigger problem. One could plow the sea floor with a deep sea plow, creating an environmental disaster, then capture the hydrates under some big undersea umbrella as they come floating up melting and releasing their methane in the process.

However there is a money making opportunity here. If you can figure out how to build that big undersea umbrella that you can drag beneath the surface of the sea, above the plow, without tearing it apart in the current, or using more energy in pulling the plow plus umbrella than you capture, you could get rich.

Ron Patterson

This was always known, but the article gives the impression that the Japanese have found a way around the problem. There are no details given, but if they have much will be writtain about in the coming months.

From the History Channel: Methane is 26 times more destructive as a greenhouse gas than CO2.

Those who deny that peak oil is a near-term problem can be so predictable. Hours after the U.S. Geological Survey released its study Thursday showing that the Bakken oil formation has up to 4.3 billion barrels of "technically recoverable oil," the emails started trickling in.

I got one of those e-mails myself. I used to have a running battle with a colleague at the refinery, whose answer to peak oil was "They have been saying that for 30 years." So, when the Bakken news release came out, he sent it to me with an "I told you so."

You may reply him by telling that 4.3 BB is about 52 days supply?

Listened to Ed Schultz interview Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) on the USGS study and take calls from listeners; pretty much 45 solid minutes of misconceptions, including the interview. No, it's not that kind of shale. No, it's not a "discovery." No, environmentalists won't stand in the way. No, we're not going to discover more of these. No, the major oil companies aren't going to roll into town. Well, maybe if they become desperate. No, it's not the largest field ever found in the lower 48. Dad Joiner rolls over in his grave!

Typical for Ed Schultz. Most smart leftie radio guys like Mike Malloy, Thom Hartmann, and guys since axed like Marc Maron, know Peak Oil well. Ed is too much a product of the beet and soybean farmers and populists of NoDak, who are embittered by the economy and cling to big trucks.

Ed needs that oil for his big truck.

you could direct your colleague to the nd industrial commission oil and gas division/general statistics for a dose of reality.

Oh, boy. What do you call THIS:

U.S. Retail Sales Rise on Gain in Gasoline Purchases

Stocks are UP on the news. Retail sales grew... in fact, this increase was due to the increase in the price of gas and other sales diminished... but whatever. From the very same article:

Purchases at general merchandise stores dropped 0.6 percent. Sales at stores open at least a year fell 0.5 percent in March, the biggest decline in almost a year

And my personal favorite:

The figures aren't adjusted for inflation, so price increases can influence the data.

Emphasis mine.


Beer? Hops?

Hops production was UP 4% in the U.S. last year. Barly was UP 16%!


Higher barly costs increased the cost of a bud light by less than $0.01.

We Exported 16% MORE Corn last year than the year, before. Soybean exports were UP 12%!

Food Inflation, according to the CPI is up 4.5%. Most is from higher Energy Costs.

You guys are getting played for suckers by Pilgrims Pride, and Exxon. You've been Subsidizing Vietnamese Hog Feed to the tune of about $11 Billion/yr, and, now, you're not, anymore. Now, that corn is holding the price of Exxon's primary product down by about $0.45/gallon; and, guess what, Exxon doesn't like it.

Don't worry; the average working man is smart enough to figure ths out. He would rather get his energy from Iowa than from Saudi Arabia.

Great. But what does it have to do with anything I wrote? ;)

Sorry eastender,

I should have put that in a new thread, or higher up where they were talking about beer, and hops. Mea Culpa :)

Food Inflation, according to the CPI is up 4.5%. Most is from higher Energy Costs.

This is, of course, absurd. Corn, wheat, and soybean crop prices are considerably higher, and this has little to do with fuel prices. Ask the baker who is paying double for flour, or the ethanol refinery going under because of high corn costs. Wheat is higher partly because of some crop failures, but corn and soybeans are up solely due to added demand for biofuel. Hops, as I said above, is a different subject entirely.

Farmers cannot directly dictate the price that they sell grain for. Higher input costs may eat into their bottom line, or even eliminate profitability, but all they can do is either a) store their crop and hope for higher prices, or b) sell and plant less (or nothing) next time. With the high prices, neither is happening. More acres are going into grain production:

This is not to say that some food price increases to the end consumer are not energy related, as trucking costs are getting hit, but to dismiss the impact of demand for biofuel on prices is delusional.

Don't worry; the average working man is smart enough to figure ths out. He would rather get his energy from Iowa than from Saudi Arabia.

In case you haven't done the numbers, we aren't getting much net energy from Iowa ethanol -- except a lot of hot air. After accounting for the lower energy content of ethanol and the energy needed to produce it, about 1% of the gasoline needs of the US is supplanted by ethanol. Mostly, we're just shuffling money around. Some of the farmers probably deserve it, but let's at least be honest about it.

We're producing about 555,000 barrels of ethanol/day.


The links I've posted over the last few weeks show that a 10% blend of ethanol gives, virtually, the same mileage as straight gasoline.

SO: We can refine one hundred and thirty something thousand btus of crude oil to get 116,000 btus of gasoline, OR we can use approx. 35,000 btus of nat gas, and get about the same mileage (please note: this number is dropping like a rock as more, and more refineries go to biomass/biomethane, etc for their energy needs.

The CPI gives food inflation for the last 12 months as being 4.5%.

Also, in case you're interested, our field corn production was up more than our production was up More than was our entire usage for producing ethanol. Our corn exports were us some 16%, and we ended the year with more (1.3 Billion bushels) in inventory than we started with.

Oh, and I'd have to check on this; but, I'm pretty sure that there's less than a dime's worth of wheat in that loaf of bread in your pantry. I'm Sure there's less than a dime's worth of corn in that 14 oz box of corn flakes.

You can link all you want, but ethanol still has less than 2/3 of the energy content of gasoline. You can find "bio" sources to fire the refinery, but those sources are not incidental to the ethanol production and could be used for something more useful (as opposed to the bagasse used in Brazil). 2006, according to RFA, was more like 360,000 barrels EtOH per day in 2007.

But since I'm feeling generous, I'll allow you 500,000 barrels of gasoline equivalent per day. At 20 million or so barrels of oil used, you're still around 2.5%. This is a pittance for the havoc being wreaked on the food system. You can shill for ADM and Con Agra all you want, but you still haven't explained why both production AND price of corn are at very high levels. True, the US can probably adjust to a doubling of prices for all commodity grains, but this is less so for other countries. And all for a lousy few percent (at best) of liquid fuel requirements. Bad idea.

Joules, ethanol has fewer btus, but much higher OCTANE (113 vs. 87.) As a result of this, it gives up it's energy much more efficiently. Figure:

76,000 X .40 = 30.4

116,000 X .25 = 29

I gave a link that shows current production. New refineries are coming online, rapidly.

The Future sources will be lignin from corn stalks, corn cobs, and corn kernels. Hard to imagine much missed opportunity costs, there.

You had best go look up what OCTANE means, because you are obviously confused. Hint: look up pre-ignition and compression ratios.

The Future as you describe will likely never arrive (at least using a fermentation/distillation approach), and even if it did, the soils would not take kindly to having none of the detritus returned. Try again.

You go look up "Saab Biopower" or click on the below link.


The variable turbo allows the engine to achieve higher compression when running ethanol. GM is going one step further with the Denali, it looks like, by marrying "displacement on demand" with Direct Injection, VVT, and variable ratio turbo.

These are the engines of the future (starting with the 08' Chevy HHR. They will allow for extremely small, gas/ethanol sipping engines with enough horsepower, and range, to satisfy most any American.

p.s. The Future has already arrived. Corn Plus is replacing half of it's nat gas by gassifying it's thin stillage, and Poet's project Liberty will replace virtually ALL of it's fossil fuel by burning the lignin from cobs, and kernel (After the cellulose has been removed.)

Joules, engines like the one above is why the car companies didn't fight the CAFE Standards this time around. The future is here. Time to "catch up." :)

You weren't referring to new engines designed for higher compression, and no, the future hasn't arrived. Let us know when 50% of the cars sold have redesigned engines such that they have high enough compression ratios to make this work (at which point there still won't be enough ethanol to make a dent). Till then, corn ethanol will wreak its havoc even more so.

The Denali? Yeah, that's a fine idea.

Lastly, you haven't addressed the soil issue. Not sustainable. Sort of like: lets burn down all the trees in the forest for fuel while we engineer a faster growing tree.

"displacement on demand" ... engine of the future

I was wondering how long it would take GM to dust off their blueprints for the V4-6-8 engine aka the "Hand Grenade Engine" by dealership mechanics.

GM did this before, in the early 1980s from memory. MISERABLE failure then.

The V4 engine still has to push 4 "dead" cylinders with open valves and no fuel around, so it is not as efficient as a true 4 cylinder engine.


The links I've posted over the last few weeks show that a 10% blend of ethanol gives, virtually, the same mileage as straight gasoline.

This was wrong a few weeks ago and is wrong now.
My own personal experience with my Honda Insight has 10% ethanol giving me approximately 10-15% lower mileage and if you know how fanatical Insight owners are about their mileage, you would know how pissed I am. I'm trying now to find where I can get 0
% ethanol gasoline.

"Emphasis mine.



You nailed it. We now lie to ourselves about everything economic. Is it something that looks better when it's inflation adjusted? Then adjust it!!

Oh, it's not? Then don't!!

For example; gasoline prices are always compared to an inflation adjusted spike that's more than 25 years old but the S&P is never inflation adjusted for it's high that are only 8 years old.

Further to the story posted by Leanan, 'The Realities of Natural Gas':

Natural Resources Canada last week published the December 2007 production numbers (and the February wells completed data). A little arithmetic shows that 2007 production of marketable natural gas dropped by 2.4% from 2006, and is down by 6% from its 2002 peak. The number of well completed in 2007 was down by 22% from the 2005 peak and the trend is accelerating. For the months Nov 2007 to Feb 2008 compared to the same period one year earlier, the number of well completions dropped by more than 33%.

People following this issue will note that the recently announced, industry friendly, changes in 'rent' rules by the Alberta government applies exclusively to deep natural gas drilling. I think this suggests that industry and gov't officials know that the 'shallow' gas plays which have accounted for so much new production in recent years is about done.

Faustian Economics
Hell Hath No Limits

by Wendell Berry

Nice article by Wendell in the new (May) Harper's. He covers it all - Peak Oil, economics, biofuels, cars, human nature, etc. Maybe Leanan can mange a link - it's behind a paywall for non-subscribers. Or subscribe, it's my favorite magazine, many excellent articles over the months.

Great description of the 'free market'. Also: 'delusions of grandeur', 'national insanity', 'limitlessness'.

I think he's the best there is at essays about how we've lost our way.

Thanks for making note of this article. I read it today at the local library and plan to buy several copies to send to friends. As usual, Wendell Berry exposes the insanity of what is accepted as normal - living without limits!

It's an ethical dilemma of our culture and Hell on earth is the result we've sown.

Me, I'm back to sowing my garden seeds and new fruit trees.

Best hopes for a lot more local gardens and gardeners of Eden.

The subprime problem and paying for college:

Fewer Options Open to Pay for Costs of College

Parents will have to navigate unfamiliar and difficult terrain when it comes time to pay for college this year, with student loan companies in turmoil and banks tightening their standards and raising rates on other types of borrowing.

Can we really change the growth paradigm? Youngstown is trying it.

The incredible shrinking city

Youngstown, Ohio, has seen its population shrink by more than half over the past 40 years, leaving behind huge swaths of empty homes, streets and neighborhoods.

Now, in a radical move, the city - which has suffered since the steel industry left town and jobs dried up - is bulldozing abandoned buildings, tearing up blighted streets and converting entire blocks into open green spaces. More than 1,000 structures have been demolished so far.

Under the initiative, dubbed Plan 2010, city officials are also monitoring thinly-populated blocks. When only one or two occupied homes remain, the city offers incentives - up to $50,000 in grants - for those home owners to move, so that the entire area can be razed. The city will save by cutting back on services like garbage pick-ups and street lighting in deserted areas.

The one year moving average price for Tapis moved above 2 yergins last night, while the current price sits at $2 above 3 yergins. I suppose the argument about the impact of the unfolding depression in the US on oil prices is going to be reformulated soon.


peak oil & road maintenance

My father in law is running for a local county supervisor seat and I heard at the meeting yesterday that our county is unable to continue to pay for the level of road service we have become used to. They were saying they could not afford asphalt to chip seal the roads and were going to have to cut snow removal services this coming winter due to high diesel costs.

The great unwinding continues...

Mt. Shasta, CA

We are already seeing such happen in rural Central Texas. My son and I spent several hours cutting up and removing fallen trees on the county road right away from a recent storm. My neighbor got tired of the county run around and bought a used road grader to keep our gravel road passable. The unwind is gaing momentum and very few are aware that the light they see at the end of the tunnel is not a friendly one. John

That makes me wonder if law enforcement will stop worrying about frivilous junk like stoners having a bit of Mary Jane on their back porch and worry about bigger fish.... Or will it make them crack down harder, in an attempt at more $$ via fines?

Energy Bulletin had this link today. It's about how slavery persisted long after the Emancipation Proclamation, in the form of prison labor.

He describes free men and women forced into industrial servitude, bound by chains, faced with subhuman living conditions and subject to physical torture. That plight was horrific. But until 1951, it was not outside the law.

All it took was anything remotely resembling a crime. Bastardy, gambling, changing employers without permission, false pretense, “selling cotton after sunset”: these were all grounds for arrest in rural Alabama by 1890. And as Mr. Blackmon explains in describing incident after incident, an arrest could mean a steep fine. If the accused could not pay this debt, he or she might be imprisoned.

Alabama was among the Southern states that profitably leased convicts to private businesses. As the book illustrates, arrest rates and the labor needs of local businesses could conveniently be made to dovetail.

It's a worry.
We just have to look at the past to see the future.
In decades, centuries and millennia past, the exploitation of other humans was normal.
Those practices although abhorrent to us now did in someway help with sustainability.
Fossil fuels have allowed us to exploit the environment to much greater affect, as a result, world
populations have grown beyond sustainability.

I assume as the exploitation of the environment becomes more costly we will return to what was
profitable and easy in the past.
We exploit other humans now, with very low wages, in sweat shops and with children.

Maybe in time the majority will only have their labour to offer in return for food and shelter.
Those that can labour for their existence will likely be among the fortunate ones.

Busting irrelevant, no-victim crimes like pot smoking is sort of the law enforcement version of Bigger Stone Heads.

PetroBras announces 33 billion Oil Equivalent Discovery



well after all it is Reuters, so then it must be true, but "so" is the Norwegian find of 3000 billion tons of coal off Norway's coastline
This is good for Petrobras' stocks too.

What's your problem? It seems the coal is definatly there, but impossible to mine. Like many resources it's a question of developing a technology to expoit it.

headlines - headlines and finally headlines ... and a spoonfull lack of reality-serum (aka documentation at this stage),that's my problem.

Now: What's your problem? Lack of irony ?

It seems the coal is definatly there, but impossible to mine.

This is precisely why girlie magazines never much appealed to me.

Like many resources it's a question of developing a technology to expoit it.

Sadly, virtual reality hasn't gotten that far.



He would not say whether the reserve estimate was recoverable or in-place.

Like so many things discussed here, the proof will be in the pudding...

I wonder how Brazil will handle their new found oil wealth. Would Brazil join OPEC? (Seems unlikely to me, but who knows.)

"He would not say whether the reserve estimate was recoverable or in-place."

not unlike the usgs. the usgs estimates for the williston basin bakken uses "technically recoverable" oil.
one problem with oil located in 2000 m water depth is that the technology to exploit it hasnt been invented. i suppose this is what is called not-technically recoverable.

And I also see that Reuters is reporting Charts say stocks near bottom, poised to recover-Fortis

Equity markets have found a bottom and are poised to hit new highs in the second half of this year, according to a senior chartist at Dutch-Belgian bank Fortis.

Paul Nesbitt, London-based technical analysis director at Fortis Private Bank, told Reuters on Monday that the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI may rally to 15,781 points this year, a gain of more than a quarter from Friday's close of 12,325.42.

WOOHOO! I'm off to buy me a new SUV...

What? I should wait till Reuters has more than two paragraphs on this find? And doesn't qualify 33 billion with the ever-slippery "may contain"? But, where's the fun in that?

Note the following updates. Seems the 33Billion estimate is for the entire region.


[PBR] Today 02:47pm
Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. Hearing MS commenting that 33B BOE estimate is for entire region, not just PBR field (timing uncertain)
[PBR] Today 12:36pm
Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. CEO denies oil discovery to Brazil Finance Minister Mantega, says needs to verify data from field - wire headline - Follow up 12:50pm. Brazil ANP head Lima notes that the block may hold 33B BOE, more...
[PBR] Today 11:53am
Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. Petrobras and Brazilian Oil Agency do not confirm discovery report - wire headline - follow up 12:23pmET: Brazil Minister of Finance says PBR has not yet confirmed the Carioca oil find; says report more...

WTI around $112 at close today.

All, in all, Brazil is in pretty good shape. They are using 1% of their arable acres to provide over 40% of their transportation fuel.

That means they can sell more of their oil to the Brainiac Norte Americanos.

In the USA used as much oil and ethanol/capita as Brazil does, we could join OPEC !

That is the secret to their self sufficiency.

Also your 40% was based on volumes right ?

Not energy (ethanol gets a 40% haircut then). 40% ethanol by volume makes 28% by energy for transportation fuels.

And Brazil is the #2 Agricultural exporter, while the USA is #1, but they may export more/capita than the USA.

Meanwhile, the USA is doing all it can to reduce Ag export volumes.



Most of their ethanol is used in a twenty three percent blend (99% of ours is used in a 10%, or less, blend.) That means their ethanol is almost a 1:1 replacement for gasoline. Indeed, as the N Dakota Univ/Mn State test shows, many cars get Better mileage with a 20%, or 30% ethanol blend.

BTW, They are using just about the same percentage of their arable land as we, after allowing for distillers grains, are.

I don't know why you make that statement about ag exports. Our Ag Exports were WAY UP last year.

Well, I spent most of the weekend in town, so here are some observations. Tons and tons and tons of motorcycles. Now, maybe this is normal, but I must point out that the average Harley ridden sanely will get around 50MPG. Count on at least 40, ridden realistically and two-up. I don't remember this area being this bike-crazy, so I'm wondering if the bikes are being dusted off and used instead of the SUV.

So far European tourists are getting past the DHS and visiting our fine town. But for the most part, sales are down, stores are closing, and all the little monthly papers are saying the area's in recession, with one article saying Prescott AZ is actually even worse than most of the Southwest, an area already famous for high living costs and low pay. We have the worst pay/cost ratio, we're no. 1!

Bicycle shops, camping places, used clothing stores, things like that are doing well though. A story on www.urbansurvival.com today says far fewer Americans are planning vacations, and that this year may see a return to barbecues with friends, and camping. Camping is cheap, and it's what people used to do back in more frugal times.

Food Not Bombs was set up in the square serving up food, I told 'em I didn't want any food because I'd just eaten. I didn't want any bombs either lol! It was good to see them doing their thing. There were also hula-hoopers, a kid playing what I think was an African instrument, a bow with gourd attached, the usual vagrants and crazies and harmless oddballs, all in all a really nice day on the Square.

I hung out with a street musician and I think helped more than harmed with my shiny new harmonica. Nice guy and a really good player, and like most of our street musicians is an old guy doing it to suppliment an otherwise meagre income. My observations squared with what I've been told, that they make about $8-$10 an hour.

I also proved that at least over a short time sample, a caricaturist can make $1 a MINUTE. I'm really surprised there are not more face-sketchers, maybe the skill's even more rare than being decent at music. Customers seemed consistently very pleased with my so-so skills, and now that I'm over the "actually doing it" barrier, I'm finally inspired to practice at home and get good - the people really deserve better quality for their tips. This is the kind of skill that turned out to be very handy for artist-heroes of mine, like Bill Mauldin and Eric Sloane, as they traveled around the US in the 1930s.

My weekend was so filled up with stuff like this, selling off stuff at the American Legion swapmeet, obtaining said harmonica (can't be a proper bum without one!) and so on, that I didn't go see the CSA I want to work for at the farm show, but work for veggies is in my future here too. They probably got a lot of sign-ups, interest in growing food even here in this harsh climate, is high.

Things seem to be going so well, I might be able to leave here and go back to California this summer after all.

Oh - I must have talked to 5 or 6 different sets of people, nice "middle class" looking people, who've lost their jobs, their houses are for sale and not selling, and basically "on the road" looking for a place to settle where maybe things will be better. Probably still have some "room" on their credit cards so they still are generally cheerful, but the stories they tell ..... you realize they may well end up in a tent in the woods after the repo people get their cars. One couple came out here because their disabled son lives out here, I think honestly they will end up sleeping on his floor.

Lots and lots of moving around, just like the 1930s.

FWO'S (Formerly Well Offs), actually a pretty good description for most us, we are just getting there at different rates.

I'm getting ready for the crunch myself, seeing that my contract expires this fall, and I'm expecting that I will have a hard time obtaining new clients afterward. Even though my contract's expiration is 5 months from now, I'm already doing that hob-nob thing... I suspect I may not be able to command the same rate with future clients in the coming years.

Westexas, indeed, it's FWO's I was hobnobbing with this weekend. Own, and are trying to sell, houses in California, lost their jobs, generally checking out this area because they either have relatives or a kid here, even if the rels or kid are on Welfare, and for now, "on the road" living in a hotel, still have their cars but within 6 months will lose their cars and better have found a hidey-hole to live in because it'd COLD here 6 months of the year.

I'm a FWO myself, not that I've ever had a chance to become a member of the class that owns their house, but I'm living on 1/10th what I was a year ago.

I've given up on thoughts of college, "career" whatever one of those is. My life goals are farming, foraging, guerrilla horticulture, whatever seems handy in the time and place I find myself in. I'm really looking forward to working on that CSA farm, the veggies will just be the icing on the cake. Anyone who can grow anything on this Afghanistan-like high desert is a Farmer with a capital F.

These FWO's are nice people, dismayed at what's happened to them, and still in the optimistic stage, if a bit shell-shocked. Generally within 6 months you lose your car, and hopefully by then you've applied for Food Stamps and at least somewhat adjusted to the new way of life. If they are lucky, they'll end up cleaning hotel rooms (Arizona's trying its best to run the illegals out so FWO's can get this rather fun job) and maintaining yards and washing dishes and stuff. The more talented may end up bartending or repairing cars.

These are probably in most cases the same people who cursed the homeless, voted for Bush, and were basic American Calvinist assholes. Their tune sure changes when their money goes way.

Here's to more FWO's.

Dinner at the Wall

I was invited by a couple that are sheltering 14 people in their home post-Katrina to go with them to one of the 3 days/week free meals served by the flood wall next to the Mississippi. When I have more time I will write a more complete report.

I lined up with the homeless (or nearly so) while toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap was being handed out. Good weather so everyone was in good spirits, a fair amount of joking.

The police officer assigned as liaison to the homeless was there and grabbed a piece of chicken (quite good BTW). When he was accused of "stealing from the homeless". He responded that he was just doing quality control, and making sure it was fit for human consumption. Just good natured ribbing.

I was truly impressed by the attitude of teh volunteers, friendly, not condescending, very helpful to the disabled (as was everyone).

The site was next to what had been the NOPD HQ trailer for 2 years and I was told that the police let the homeless sleep underneath there. When a VIP was coming by, they would ask them to leave for a while.

To quote Ms. Pearl, "The face of the homeless has changed".

Best Hopes for Compassion and Charity,


Alan - I hung out with Food Not Bombs a bit yesterday, it was cool seeing these rich kids doing their bit, feeding the homeless and down-and-out here.

I think in most areas the police and the homeless have an understanding, I was explaining to someone that the Courthouse is a working courthouse, and that the police let the homeless sleep on the lawn there and sit/lie/sleep there all day because at least it's supervised and safe. The number of poor, homeless, derelicts, etc here is higher than most places in the US, maybe the Tenderloin district of San Francisco is a good approximation.

There are a lot of "stealth" homeless, don't "look" homeless but are. I just have a basic rule: If someone's playing music on the street and decent at all, or trying, anything other than obnoxious, I give 'em something. If someone asks me, I give 'em something. if someone's looking down and out, at least I can buy 'em a sandwich on my food stamps.

Here's hoping for victory for the good guys in the class war.

Here's hoping for victory for the good guys in the class war.

Alas, in war, each side believes they are the good guys.

alan says,

'Best Hopes for Compassion and Charity,'

AlanfromBigEasy u have a heart of gold.

as u say:

best hopes for building [& maintaining during personally trying times & suffering] social goodwill [think po preps & conditioning].

Thank You for the kind words :-)

Best Hopes for Our Better Natures,


Thanks, Alan, for reminding us what's truly important in life -- people.

Ten years ago my neighbour was battling terminal cancer and I would take him to his medical appointments. I use to wait for him in the lounge area where other patients were waiting for their treatments. Occasionally I would look around at the dozens of men and women of all ages and at various stages of this disease, many much younger than me. That really helps bring everything into proper perspective. Now, sadly, Maggie, Al's widow, is fighting this same disease and in the five years since her initial diagnosis and subsequent remission, it's recently come back with a vengeance. There's a good chance I'll be heading back to Toronto next week to spend some time with her and to help her with her final arrangements. Her biggest concern is that there be someone to take good care of her collie upon her death; that's a promise I made to her many years ago and one I'm afraid I'll be honouring all too soon.

Best hopes for a cure, and soon.


And if everyone is heading towards FWO status, then what if someone now has a good job---let's imagine, for example, a Bear Sterns banker. Would it be better for this person to quit banking now and go into farming or plumbing---a lower level of complexity type of job---in ANTICIPATION of what is going to happen sooner or later, rather like controlling a car crash by pumping the brakes and coming to a safe stop at a lower speed, rather than flying into a financial wall. Let's say this banker has an apartment in New York or something, would it be better for him/her to sell out and leave, even if he/she will basically be at poverty level for a while in a new place, without any practical skills, possibly out of shape and middle aged?

What about this experiment: If you took two such bankers----one stays in NY and looks for banking job after banking job as each bank goes under, the other one uses his savings to become a farmer or a plumber, then after ten years, which one would be better off? After 20 years?

I am not saying that I know the answers either! I don't!

You've touched on something. That's the beauty of ELP. It's pre-emptive. The problem with the lifestyle trap is the energy level it requires no matter which choice is made. I'd say the one who knowingly reduced their requirements and produces usefully will do better utilizing what innovation, skills, and finances one has.

It might be conceivable that the banker who stays in NY rides a bike, eats a local vegetarian diet, takes a small apartment, and finds meaningful employment which is somehow appropriate post peak and he/she might just make a sustainable go of it. Granted it would seem to be much simpler as the farmer/plumber but there are some very energy intensive ways of practicing these skills which will prove problematic.

Or they could downsize their career by finding a job managing a credit union in a small town. They should be able to find an affordable house to buy in town with enough of a yard to grow a good quantity of fruits and vegies, and maybe even keep some chickens. The demands of the job would be low enough that the banker would actually have some free time to work at home in the garden and on DIY projects. Keeping that credit union running would be a genuine help to that local community.

I'd like to add the acronym TWOs: Tenuously Well-Offs. That's the situation where I work. My wife and I have plenty of discretionary income (due to having less debt) but we're not planning any extravagances, because my employer just had its second round of layoffs in 13 months. With the way this company is being run, and the general economic trend, we're preparing for a "transition."

As I said before, it may be a good time to think about going into your boss' office and demanding a pay cut. . . that's precisely what I did in 1989.

Or maybe propose that your job be reduced to 3/4 time (30 hrs/wek), with the understanding that you only need to come in 4 days per week, or maybe better yet just 3 days per week. You'll make part of the pay cut back in lower commuting costs, and you'll gain an extra day or two each week that you can work on growing food, cutting firewood, DIY projects, crafts or other sidelines to supplement and diversify your income, etc. Pitch it on the positive spin of your needing more time at home rather than just asking for less money, and it won't sound quite so wierd.

[Edit: Best of all, I've generally found that for people who are less than full time, 40 hours/wk is a ceiling. For people who are full-time, especially if not eligible for overtime, 40 hrs/wk tends to be be a floor, with the sky being the limit. If you are going to powerdown and live more frugally, you are going to need more time to grow and cook and preserve your own food, work on DIY projects, etc. Work a 60-80 hr week, and you are totally locked into the money economy, as you must buy everything.]

Same here. On a related note I was driving though Silverlake - a very gentrified area of Los Angeles. Every corner of the residential side streets there was Real Estate signs pointing to a home for sale. These ex ATM's are now bait for the unthinking.

Not much fish in the water.

Pianoguy - Good point. Many TWOs. In fact, I've given up on another site, centered around stock market trading. Interesting to skim once in a while for financial blather, but I think most of the people on there are TWOs and are very nasty about it. If you want to engage in some good old Gilded Age hatin' on the unlucky, it's the place to go. Statements like hoping the American consumers are lined up against the wall and all shot, so they (the pigman posting) can retire, are common. The only place you see that kind of shrill hatred is among TWOs. They see themselves as Bush's people, as Rush Limbaugh's peers, and really all they are, are TWOs on their way to becoming FWOs.

Really, it's a better recruitment site for the Wobblies than the Wobblies' own site.

Re: Food Inflation, Riots Spark Worries for World Leaders above

Riots, instability spread as food prices skyrocket

(CNN) -- Riots from Haiti to Bangladesh to Egypt over the soaring costs of basic foods have brought the issue to a boiling point and catapulted it to the forefront of the world's attention, the head of an agency focused on global development said Monday.


You might want to sell those wheat futures, folks.

Big Crop, coming:


Increased planting (or plans of which) are one thing... actual production is another thing. Even if world wheat harvest for all of 2008 sets a record that also does not mean wheat prices will crash - it all depends upon the demand, and especially pent up demand for building stores around the world.

If commodities were as easy as you intimate then anyone could get rich playing them... but in reality...

You're absolutely Right. I was trying to be "Cute." My Bad.

I am Not, Nor ever Have Been a Commodities Analyst. And, I didn't mean to try to pretend to be one on the internet. I just got careless. I have, absolutely, no clue as to what wheat prices might do. I do think we'll have a Big Crop, though. :)

.. and this dash of reality from that report;

" As always, however, Mother Nature will write the final chapter in the new wheat crop story."

I keep hearing about that final chapter of Hers. Something tells me it's going to be a real tear jerker.

All the article sez is that expectations for farmers to plant a big crop for next years crop exist. Getting the crop planted, harvested, and in the bin is the challenge. Hopefully we will get a big crop but given the weather patterns its a long time until June of 2009 which is the crop they are talking about. Not the one in the fields now.

The other big question is what won't get planted to make room for the wheat? Unless farmers are bringing new land into production, it will likely just mean a shortage in soybeans or corn (or something else).

From the link about Down is Up.

Poor guy in Ontario. His group is putting up a new convention center. When asked if this might not be wise, he replies with that deer in the headlights kind of response.

"With the world changing so quickly, Mr. Homer-Dixon wondered aloud
whether Ottawa's plans for a new Congress Centre took the future of
travel into account.

"The short answer? Yes, we have been taking that into consideration,"
Andrew Beattie, director of sales for the Congress Centre, told the

The new Congress Centre, slated for completion in April 2011, is
already taking reservations. Mr. Beattie said that planners took into
account the expectation that corporate Canada will have a lower
appetite for travel when the new facility was designed, and said
Ottawa still has points in its favour.

First, he said, there's a pent-up demand in Ottawa for conference
space. "So that's a good thing," he said.

Second, global travel is expected to double to 160 million travellers
annually by 2020 from the current 80 million, he said, the result of
emerging economies and global growth."

After all, they'll need some place to keep the refugees. Katrina proved how well convention centers work for refugee shelters.


"global travel is expected to double to 160 million travellers
annually by 2020 from the current 80 million"

I wonder who came up with that ??

Bazil has just anounced (portuguese) a new oil field. Petrobras estimates that it may contain 33 bilion barrels of recoverable oil.

The article didn't say how hard is it to recover the oil.

Note that Petrobras is not confirming these figures (the linked Bloomberg news item above has now been updated to reflect this) and there is more discussion about this earlier in the drumbeat.

Hello TODers,

Cleaner Air Means a Warmer Europe

Europe is heating up much faster than climate researchers expected, and now they think they know why: air made dramatically cleaner by anti-pollution programs. With less particle pollution clouding the air, more sunlight is coming through and the continent is getting warmer.
It will be interesting to find out if China's cold winter was due to the opposite effect: did their massive coal burning and other chem-processing emissions with the lack of sulphur scrubbers make their winter colder than would be normal?

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

re: the China half.. sounds similar to the paradox of being burned out of your house on a winter's night, and the only thing to keep you warm (for a while) in your scorched jammies - is the burning house..

In classic MSM fashion, DerSpiegel is given to a bit of hyperbole. Namely:

"Our Findings Contradict the IPCC"

Aerosols have been a notable area of research for some time, and it you check out the climate change literature you discover the complexities of the issue. It has been suspected for some time that the emitting of sulfur through the first 2/3rds of the 20th century was a negative feedback.

If indeed sulfur injected into the atmosphere is a sure fire way of cooling the Earth (by increasing the albedo), then, if the more dsytopic scenarios presented by some readers of TOD come true, we can expect the Earth to cool in the middle of the 21st century. This would come about by people burning any coal, peat, shale, grungy tar they can find in order to heat their homes and cook their food; said energy sources will be the source for radically increasing the sulfur in the atmosphere and possibly offset the immediate effects of the soot emitted.

There is a great documentary at google video about this. It is called Global Dimming. You may want to check it out, cca. 50 mins.

Here is the link:


For those interested, there have been quite a few stories posted today at Energy Shortage ( a few Leanan dupes too):


Hello TODers,

More news that I-NPK prices will continue to rise faster than FF prices?

China eyes steep export tariff on fertilizer - UBS

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, April 14 (Reuters) - China may slap an export tariff of 135 percent on phosphate fertilizers and 100 percent on urea nitrogen, creating concern about prices in an already tight market, UBS said on Monday in a research report.

Citing news reports, analyst Joe Dewhurst said the tariffs would stop Chinese phosphate exports, removing 19 percent of traded volumes for granular phosphates, which are important for India, Pakistan, Australia and Latin America.

"Traders from these countries are already voicing concerns on price impacts," Dewhurst wrote in the report. "The vacuum that will be created is substantial."
Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

Sitting in the dark with a full belly is pure luxury compared to starvation. I sure hope venture capitalists are adopting a biosolar mission-critical mindset to jumpstart my speculative postPeak 'Federal Reserve Banks of I-NPK' so that all can participate.

IMO, a future-oriented, low-discount, investor mindset to help farmers/gardeners defray depleting I-NPK costs can be a positive force to help keep violence levels down as we start ramping O-NPK recycling with Alan's ideas and SpiderWebRiding. Waiting until we are so poor of energy that will will be forced to the Nuahtl Tlameme scheme will prove disasterous.

As usual, I remain a fast-crash realist until I see massive moves to optimize our decline. Recall Jay Hanson's Thermo/Gene Collision prediction timeframe. It appears to me that we are currently on track to validate this.

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

Mr. Totoneila sir,

I have a report from the land of fertilizer foolishness for your voluminous files.

My baby brother is the mayor of "Pigville" - a city of over a hundred thousand swine somewhere here in the heartland. He reports that they've tried feeding dried distillers grain from ethanol plants but that the hogs are having none of that. Apparently cows and chickens don't mind it, but pigs' sensitive tummies do not appreciate it for some reason.

They do some fertilization in the area using slurry injectors which are less annoying to the neighbors than the old fashion aerial spraying, but they're running out of room so they've taken a shot at pelletizing the waste for sale as fertilize. The biggest customers? You knew this was coming ... golf courses in the American southwest. Due to the high phosphorus levels and dilution issues the pelletization and shipment of it seems to be the "best" use.

Hello TODers,

Will lawsuits to protect bats soon force change? I hope everyone emailed the ABA, as I suggested in an earlier post, so that lawyers quickly adopt a biosolar mindset vs the Pakistani lawyer anarchy-promotion mindset.

Lawsuit Will Be Filed to Protect Endangered Bats From Deadly White-Nose Syndrome

As a lethal ailment continues to be discovered in wintering bat colonies around the Northeast, conservation groups announced today that they will sue the federal government unless it undertakes a review of all its activities that may be harming endangered bat species.

The conservation groups assert that federal agencies conducting activities potentially harmful to four endangered bat species must revisit these projects in light of the new threat of white-nose syndrome. The activities include logging, road-building, prescribed burning on public lands, and federally financed highway construction.
Recall my earlier posts advocating that foreclosed housing be converted to bat-shelters for very cheap guano harvesting. $100,000 harvest per cathedral ceiling McMansion is easily forseeable, IMO.

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

Recall my earlier posts advocating that foreclosed housing be converted to bat-shelters for very cheap guano harvesting. $100,000 harvest per cathedral ceiling McMansion is easily forseeable, IMO.

From a rhetorical standpoint - fine.

But from an ecological standpoint - nope.

The outgassing glues, water intolerance of the pressboard, and the wide temp changes makes it a no-go. Not to mention the normally light nature and how predators like cats can get around just fine in houses - not gonna be good bat habitat.


A better plan would be to build a bat house out of scrap wood (salvaged from uninhabitalbe McMansions?) over a compost pile, one in every back yard or neighborhood. The bat dropping will vastly improve the fertility of the compost, and in this manner also be much easier to handle. Probably a good idea to distribute rather than concentrate bat populations, too.

Another bit of Big Oil Co., anti-ethanol nonsense goes by the wayside:

Kinder Morgan prepares pipeline for ethanol transport:


Yeah, I know folks, we should ignore the trolls. But here we're dealing with a troll with a truly reprehensible agenda.

People should read the linked story. Aside from the predictable 'if it works', the takeaway point of the story is how the ethanol mandate is imposing yet another cost on the economy by leading a pipeline company to expend time and materials to retrofit a currently useful pipeline. This is the ethanol boondoggle in a nutshell: the poor use of land, wasted fuel and fertilizer, wasted public funds, wasted private funds... in other words, lost opportunity again and again.

As for the reference to 'big oil co.', I'm left gasping for breath at how truly stupid kdolliso is if he thinks anyone with a double digit IQ or better thinks big oil cares in the least that a bunch of welfare cases are converting oil and gas into ethanol at an energy loss.

Let the pot smokers/dealers out of jail and put the ethanol pushers behind bars.

"Currently Useful"

Yeah, that's the point, isn't it? Oil is getting in short supply, right? (What did oil close at, today? Close to $112.00/bbl? How long will the pipeline be useful if you don't have anything to put in it?

We are, currently, producing about 550,000 barrels of ethanol/day. We're importing a little more from Brazil. What effect do you suppose that's having on the price of oil/gasoline? Do you honestly think Exxon likes that?

Reprehensible Agenda? Is that the same thing as wanting my kids to have fuel to go to work? Sheesh.

Is that the same thing as wanting my kids to have fuel to go to work?

WHY do your kids need fuel to get to work ?

I don't and many of my neighbors don't.

I drove today, but I had to scrap the leaves off the windshield. It had been 10 days since I last drove.

Best Hopes for NOT needing fuel to get to work, or to make groceries or shop, or ...


If you want to reduce US oil consumption, and provide an alternative non-oil transportation system


Yes - why wanting my kids to have fuel to go to work

The only reason I used the car yesterday was to go pick up the broken, shattered (ego, no physical damage to body) remains of the life partner's attempt to bike into work. Seems that one CAN forget how to ride a bike and not master/understand downhill breaking.

Every single resource wasted in the ethanol crime could be put to better use to improve the lot of every American, including their mobility.

Yeah, you could save about $0.04 on that box of corn flakes, about $0.01 on a coca cola, less than a penny on a bottle of beer, and PAY, maybe, $0.45 MORE for a gallon of gasoline ($250.00 yr.)

BTW, Read'em and Weep Ethanol Haters; Scandia produces New 43% Thermal Efficiency, CI, Ethanol Engine For Trucks.


Ethanol diesel (with 5% to 7% additives ??)

Since the ethanol diesel is slightly less efficient than a conventional diesel, and diesel has more energy/volume than gasoline, I guess 2 gallons of ethanol mixed with additives will go as far as 1 gallon of diesel.

Will ethanol (+ unspecified additives) cost half as much as #2 diesel ?


BTW: I only hate corn based ethanol, I see sugar cane ethanol as a very small silver BB. Higher EROEI (approaching 5 with hand labor to harvest :-(

Yeah, you're right, Alan; I would have to see diesel double ethanol in price (for a significant amount of time) before I made the investment in that engine. Maybe, a year, or so, away. Still . . . .

Alan, I've rethought that. I think we're both making a mistake on these numbers. I know zip from thermodynamics, but I think we're mistaking theral efficiency, and plain old efficiency. Or something:) I don't think there's a chance in the world that there could be a 2:1 difference in mileage. I'll see what I can figure out after my nap. later.

I appreciate your willingness to think through the issues.

Claims for = mileage from E10, E22 or whatever are based on improved efficiency due to higher octane allowing higher compression. This higher efficiency offsets the lower energy content of ethanol vs. gasoline.

Here, Diesel ethanol has slightly lower efficiency than regular #2 diesel.


Alan, I found this link - actually, there were several on the octane rating of diesel:


I was very surprised to find that, although diesel is loaded with btus it has a really lousy octane/cetane rating. I have a hunch that when all is said and done the mileage will be similar between the two; but, I doubt anyone in the world could predict it really close until they've, actually, hooked up the units and started pulling. Anyway, I'm going to keep an eye out for any updates. later.

Diesel has higher combustion/thermodynamic efficiency than Otto (gasoline) engines.

"MPG" for a given drive train/vehicle is dependent on this efficiency x energy density of the fuel.

Diesel ethanol has half (roughly) of the energy efficiency of #2 diesel and slightly lower efficiency. Thus 2 gallons of diesel ethanol to go as many miles as 1 gallon of #2 diesel.

BTW, cetane is basically the inverse of octane. Those 5% to 7% additives were to destroy the octane rating of ethanol and give it a marginal cetane rating.


These news headlines along with oil selling around 110 a barrel, warrants concern that we may already be in the Long Emergency Kunstler warned of in his book. As opposed to some sudden calamity, it is more likely the pressure of greater demand along with depleting reserves and higher costs of extraction will play itself out over many years.

If those that think the magic of electricity will replace all the internal combustion engines of world production are right, then we can look forward to a world running on various sized Chevy Volts with who knows what energy source to drive all that electricity. If not, then we will have to bend like a reed in the wind of change.

Hello TODers,

Recall my advocacy for Strategic Reserves of wheelbarrows and bicycles. Here is a link talking about the leverage advantage:

The original eco yard tool
Wheelbarrows, garden carts were green long before it was trendy

Contrary to popular belief, you really can get something for nothing, at least when it comes to wheelbarrows.

Without added energy inputs of any kind, a good wheelbarrow easily triples or quadruples the amount of weight you can move with your body, all without burning a drop of fossil fuel.
Compare with the sad efficiency of the earlier Nuahtl Tlamemes. Is it any wonder that the Chinese long ago declared wheelbarrows and rickshaws as Secret Weapons? My hope is that railbikes & SpiderWebRiding [which is even more efficient and resilient] will soon be deemed essential and declared as our postPeak Secret Weapons.

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

Hello TODers,

Recall my earlier mass email campaign for TODers to Peak Outreach to Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and the PGA. Sadly, Phil is now a spokesman for ExxonMobil [and probably gets bigbucks$$ too]:

ExxonMobil and Phil Mickelson Announce Partnership
I would have much preferred that he became a spokesman for a heirloom seed company. Such is life.

Still hoping for Tiger Woods to lead the charge for plowing Augusta National, the site of the Masters, before food riots erupt in the US. Will Tiger ever be the spokesman for Nike-brand wheelbarrows and garden tools?

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

The rich golfers (and other rich folks) may simply flee to export land.
Tiger owns real estate abroad, including on the course he designed in Dubai.


While the price of uranium rose above $130 it sank to $75 in less than a year. Some uranium resources must have been government secrets and escaped the eyes of the estimators.

There are rumors of another super giant oilfield found off the coast of Brazil, perhaps the largest new field found in decades. In Brazil and the United States-Mexico GOM deep shelf area sub-salt regions there may be numerous large fields undiscovered as the wildcat discovery rate in subsalt structures has been high. One recent GOM discovery called Great White is close to the Mexican border.


If you ever studied plate tectonics (geology) you might know that Brazil and Africa were once joined together. Diamonds have been found in both Africa and Brazil near where the two continents were once joined and offshore oil occurred in Nigeria-Angola and across the Atlantic Ocean in Brazil. If this new Brazilian field has 33 billion barrels of oil in it as rumored, then the find is of significant value.

The top link Fears emerge over Russia’s oil output is very big. The world's largest producer and second largest exporter has now peaked. It looks like Saudi, Russia and Norway, the world's three largest exporters are now in decline.

There have been many deniers on this list saying that there was no proof that Russia had peaked. But with the Vice President of Lukoil confirming it, there can be little doubt left.

Ron Patterson

Hmmm. I wonder how does this balance out Lukoil's statements the other day for the future of Russian oil ?


A few points: Arctic reserves, right now, are nothing more than a wild ass guess. Arctic potential and Arctic production are entirely different things. Any Arctic oil is at least a decade away, probably more. This means it will have no affect on Russia's peaking in 2007.

And last but not least, drilling for oil in such icy waters is froth with danger. Ice, expanding in the winter, or chunks just breaking off from the main sheet, could crush the rigs. The very fact that oil companies are even discussing putting rigs in the Arctic sea speaks volumes about the desperation of the world oil situation.

Ron Patterson

My theory is that some of the last, most expensive, lowest EROEI oil that we will ever get will be from underwater facilities, serviced by submarines. That's how they'll get around the ice problem. It will all be hugely expensive, and only possible once oil is permanently in the $500-1000 bbl range. Maybe industrial civilization will be in such bad shape by then that they won't even be able to pull it off, but the world will be so desparate for oil by then that they just might be able to do it.

Some good potential material there for sci-fi authors.

My theory is that some of the last, most expensive, lowest EROEI oil that we will ever get will be from underwater facilities, serviced by submarines. That's how they'll get around the ice problem. It will all be hugely expensive, and only possible once oil is permanently in the $500-1000 bbl range. Maybe industrial civilization will be in such bad shape by then that they won't even be able to pull it off, but the world will be so desparate for oil by then that they just might be able to do it.

15 years ago there was a plan to convert (with minimal costs) about 100 Russian nuclear submarines into underwater tankers to serve underwater oil rigs in Arctic. Unfortunately the oil was cheap and the bright minds from the Economist assured everyone in the world that oil will never cost more than 5 dollars...
The submarines were cut into pieces. What a shame. We had a fleet which could postpone the oil peak by considerable amount of time.

Old viewgraph bullshit.

The WSJ also has a story on it.

Russian Output Slumps As Oil Hits New Highs

It's behind a paywall, but there's a free (though slightly different) version here.

Russian oil production, for years a vital font of new crude for world energy markets, has begun to stagnate and even slump, adding to market uncertainties that have helped push oil prices to records even as the global economy founders.

Russian supply in the first three months of this year fell for the first time this decade, averaging 10 million barrels a day, a 1% drop from the year-earlier period, according to the International Energy Agency, the industrialized world's energy watchdog. That is dismal news for a country that saw double-digit-percentage output growth earlier this decade.

According to Ivanhoe Russian oil production peaked during the 1980's

http://hubbert.mines.edu 98-3

I notice the Lukoil VP says one reason for difficulties moving rigs is the mild winter - 1.5 months frozen ground as against usual 6 to 7. So not a cold winter everywhere.

Ron, even more concerning as an active VP.

It looks like WT called this one correct as well.

Not good news...down right frightening.

WT doesn't miss the strike zone very often.

"So? There's Jack. And there's ANWR. And there's Bakken. And there's that find off of Brazil. And there's all that potential in the Arctic. And so on. There's plenty more to find!"

Guaranteed response by the deniers.

Doomer quotient rising...

But according to some Lukoil and the rest of the Russian oil industry is just as non-transparent and denialist as that of Saudia Arabia. This article smashes that theory.

(This has been circulating on Hawaiian & American Indian lists.)

Dear People of Iraq,

Now that you have been liberated from your tyrannical oppressors, we at the BIA look forward to our relationship with you. Below you will find a list of what to expect from the services of our good offices.

1. Henceforth, English will be the spoken language of all government & associated offices. If you do not speak English, a translator fluent in German will be provided.

2. All Iraqi people will apply for a spot on a citizen roll. Citizenship will be open to those people who can prove that they are Iraqi back four generations with documents issued by the United States. Christian church records may also be given in support.

3. All hospitals will be issued with a standard emergency aid kit. The kit contains gauze, Band-Aids, burn cream, iodine, tweezers, & duct tape.

4. Your oil is to be held in trust for you. We will appoint your new American approved government a lawyer with a background in the oil industry. Never mind that he works for the company that he will eventually cut a deal with. This close relationship will guarantee you more money for your oil.

5. Each Citizen will be allotted one hundred acres of prime Iraqi desert. They will be issued plows, hoes, seed corn & the King James Bible. All leftover land will be open to settlement by Israelis.

6. Each Citizen is entitled to draw a ration of milk, sugar, flour & lard. If you can not use the rations for health or religious reasons you may file a complaint with your BIA appointed liaisons, Crisco. Those Iraqis showing signs of diabetes, heart disease, or glaucoma will be issued with double rations in place of adequate health care.

7. We will mismanage your trust monies, allowing any five year old with minimal computer skills to hack into the system & set up their own account. Records of your accounts will be kept, but you must receive express written permission from the head of the BIA to examine them.

8. In keeping with the separation of Church & State supported by the US constitution, Christian missionaries will be sponsored through government funding. Only Iraqis who convert to Christianity will be allowed to hold jobs within the government.

9. For the purposes of treaty making, any single Iraqi will be found competent to sign on behalf of all other Iraqis.

10. Welcome to the Free World & have a nice day!


11. Remember, you are bitter and cling to your Qoran, AK47 and antipathy towards Americans only out of a sense of frustration at the Great Global Greed machine. It's all for your good. Get over it and move on.

World Population and Productive Land

Hello TODers,

Potash Pushes Uralkali Up to Record
15 April 2008

Uralkali, the company developing the world's second-largest potash deposit, on Monday rose to a record in London trading after it said prices might exceed $1,000 a ton, a fivefold increase from last year.

Uralkali rose as much as 9.7 percent, the biggest gain in more than two months, as the company plans to focus on selling into rising global markets and slash shipments to China, which buys the soil nutrient under a long-term contract at lower rates.

Potash may reach $1,000 per ton "rather fast" as the world is producing 1.2 million tons less than needed, Oleg Petrov, Uralakli head of sales, told investors on a conference call.

Potash pink gold
Countries like Brazil demand potash and Saskatchewan supplies it

Sugarcane is only one of the reasons Brazil is the new global titan of agriculture. Brazil has used its year-round growing season and surplus of arable land to become one of the world's dominant producers of soybeans, oranges, coffee, beef and poultry.

But it couldn't happen without potash. Mined mostly in Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Belarus and Russia, the mineral makes up for the Brazil farm economy's weakness -- deficient soil.

Brazil's red earth is notoriously lacking in potassium, forcing it to import 6.7 million tonnes of Canadian potash last year. That's a 24-per-cent jump in one year.
Recall from the USGS sulphur link that it takes a lot of sulphuric acid to make I-NPK. The rising price of sulphur is helping to further fuel the production costs of many types of I-NPK fertilizers.

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

WTI at $113.55 this morning.

Scotland : 350 jobs lost as haulier collapses


North Wales : 20 staff go as haulage firm shuts


Looks like a perfect storm of F3; Fuel, Food and Finance.