DrumBeat: April 19, 2008

Nothing stopping oil prices from rising: IEA

ROME (Rome) - Record oil of $117 a barrel calls for a demand response and a supply response, but for now there is little to stop prices heading still higher, the deputy executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Saturday.

"We need both a demand response and a supply response," said William Ramsay on arrival in Rome for talks between energy producers and consumers.

"I certainly hope we'll start to get a demand response ... that's greater efficiencies and all those things we have talked about."

Avalanches spark massive power shortage in Alaskan capital

Several massive avalanches have damaged hydroelectric power lines near Juneau, Alaska, knocking out 85 per cent of the city's electricity and likely causing utility prices to soar.

...The damage is extensive and the danger of more avalanches is still high, said Gail Wood, spokeswoman for Alaska Electric Light and Power.

She said it may be three weeks before crews can get to the downed lines and it will probably take at least two months before the lines can be repaired.

Wood added power rates in Juneau could triple because the city will have to rely on diesel generators.

She estimated Juneau could burn 400,000 litres of diesel fuel a day to make up for the loss of the hydro power.

Gas prices soar; no slowdown in sight

“The price of gas is not high because there is any shortage of it. In fact, there is a surplus of gas. ... We are running out of places to put it,” said Bill Day, a spokesman for Valero Energy Corp., which runs two refineries in California.

“Gas is high because the price of crude oil is high,” Day said. “Consumers think there is someone pulling the strings and setting prices, but it's the marketplace that sets the price. It is very, very unusual for oil to be as expensive as it is, and the dollar to be as low.”

Pain at the pump before going to the polls

Energy prices are "killing us," says Jim Roberts, a 60-year-old Democrat. "I could work three jobs and still have a problem with paying for my heat and my gas."

Voters' pain and outrage notwithstanding -- even in an election year -- it's probably folly to expect short-term fixes from Washington. But if it's far-sighted strategy that consumers in Pennsylvania -- and elsewhere -- are seeking, this seems to be their lucky year. And in a state that's so closely split between Republicans and Democrats, a candidate's message about energy could help tip the balance between Pennsylvania going red or blue in November.

Ditch the car - but how?

Parking is a fundamental part of solving the congestion equation – if people cannot conveniently access new transit, Ontario might as well spend the $18 billion it plans for trains and buses on road widenings and asthma inhalers.

But transit improvements also make parking more expensive because better transit inflates land values. So a growing number of planners are looking at alternatives – even the elimination of free parking at transit terminals.

Pennsylvania taxes, transport costs give N.J. a big price edge

Here's a shocker. Demand for fuel is down. A new report shows demand dropping on a national level, alongside rising fuel prices. People are apparently driving less.

But the price of fuel is up. What ever happened to supply and demand?

Mexico's Calderon pushes plan to reform Pemex

LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch) -- Heated debate among Mexico's lawmakers about whether to open the door to foreign oil companies has stalled legislation aimed at reviving the flagging fortunes of state-run Petroleos de Mexico, the world's third-largest oil producer.

The outcome is being watched closely across the border, especially by U.S. refiners anxiously looking for signs that Mexico can still be counted on as one of their main sources of crude.

Oil Bill Protest Shuts Mexican Congress

MEXICO CITY — The scene inside the lower house of Congress here on Friday morning resembled a college political rally more than a legislative chamber. A giant tarp dragged over the dais was painted with the word “CLOSED.”

Chairs blockaded entrances to the stage. Signs draped over the desks of congressional leaders called for a “national debate” on overhauling the state’s ailing oil monopoly, Petróleos Mexicanos, or Pemex for short. A group of left-leaning lawmakers in hard hats waved Mexican flags while the chairman of the energy committee, Alejandro Sánchez Comacho, chanted into a bullhorn.

“You don’t sell Pemex,” he shouted. “You defend Pemex.”

Paraguay Chooses Between Firsts

Lugo sees the electricity deals as one solution. Rising demand has created an energy crisis in South America, especially in growing economies like Brazil; and Paraguay's hydro-electric dams on the Parana River provide one of the nation's most valuable commodities (and almost two-thirds of its GDP). The market value of the electricity Paraguay sells to Brazil and Argentina each year is estimated to be more than $3 billion; but Paraguay receives less than $1 billion for it. Lugo wants to renegotiate that arrangement, and many if not most Paraguayans back him. "We've been robbed by our neighbors for far too long," says Luisa Guillen, a market stall owner in the capital, Asuncion. "It's time Paraguay stood up for itself, and I think Lugo's the only candidate who realizes that."

Persian Gulf Tanker Rates May Rise on Restocking, Record Fuel

(Bloomberg) -- The cost of shipping Middle East oil to Asia, the world's busiest route for supertankers, may rise for a seventh day on record refueling prices and as refineries hire tankers to replenish oil stockpiles.

Maine: Gasification plant bill signed into law

Gov. John Baldacci signed a law Tuesday that paves the way for adoption of the nation's first limits on carbon dioxide emissions from coal gasification power plants and refineries. The new law also imposes a three-year moratorium on licensing of such plants until the new regulations are developed.

Innovation, the Silver Bullet for all our Problems

High food prices, environmental damage, obesity, government waste, and even world hunger are being laid at the feet of farmers. While most of these accusations are untrue and based on misinformation or faulty science, nevertheless many of the problems of today are being, in some way, tied to agriculture. Do we have an answer? You bet, and it is the same answer farmers and agribusinesses have used for the past century to solve some mighty monumental challenges. The one thing that will meet the challenges of the present and the future is the same thing we have used to solve the problems of the past -- innovation.

Food, land crisis linked to environmental degradation

The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Luc Gnacadja warned Friday that the current food security crisis needs to be examined in line with the environmental change such as desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD).

India most energy efficient among emerging economies

NEW DELHI: Defying the logic that a growing economy consumes more energy, India has emerged as the most energy efficient country among leading emerging nations including China, Brazil and South Africa.

Thinking out loud: "is free money a blessing or a curse?"

Suppose there's a person who lives an ordinary life (like most people) in the sense that they have a regular job, pay regular bills, and enjoy their free time without doing anything lavish. Now, suppose this person suddenly inherits or wins a large sum of money, say, 5 million dollars. This is seen as a good thing by the person receiving the money, and mostly everyone else (it's legal after all). But is getting this money a blessing or a curse? Could an inheritance or jackpot like that make a person lazy, and more importantly, dependent on money which they didn't have before and have no ability to create?

Here's another scenario that's more realistic: think of oil-producing countries. These are nations that have done nothing to create their main source of wealth: crude oil that is sitting underground within established borders. These nations are basically a group of people who at some point in history learned they happened to be occupying a geographical location that for some reason contains crude oil, which is basically "free energy".

Chevy Volt is no "electric Camaro"

The concept version unveiled at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show looked nothing like the high-tech, fuel efficient cars consumers were used to seeing. With its sharp angles, long hood, and wheels out at the corners of the body, the Volt concept looked like a futuristic performance car, not a high-efficiency people mover.

Inside GM, it was referred to as the "electric Camaro," said Boniface.

But there's a reason that fuel efficient cars don't look aggressive. A flat front end and sharp front corners are bad for air flow. The production car will have a rounded nose and tapered corners, while still retaining key styling elements of the concept car.

Kunstler: Farewell to suburbia

The fog of cluelessness that hangs over North America about the gathering global oil crisis and its ramifications seems to thicken by the hour. One reason for all the fog is that the key part of the story is so broadly misunderstood -- namely, that it's not about running out of oil; it's about how the complex systems we depend on for everyday life begin to destabilize as the global demand for oil starts to outstrip the supply.

New Urbanism means making the automobile less necessary

The problem: People living in low-density areas far from a city centre rely more on their cars. The solution: The New Urbanism Movement.

New Urbanism is a fancy term describing a growing interest in urban landscapes designed to make car use less necessary.

The goal is to reconfigure North American cities to accommodate a more European lifestyle where everyone lives, shops and entertains themselves close to home.

Gas averaging more than $1.20 a litre across Canada

New Democrat finance critic Judy Wasylycia-Leis, agreed it will be a prime topic for discussion while Parliament takes a break next week.

"I think they're going to be pretty upset their price of gas keeps going up at the same time the government is giving another $1.5 billion in subsidies to the oil sands, to the big gas companies, the big developers, and yet nothing is being done to protect consumers," she told Mike Duffy Live.

Energy challenges also create opportunities

Many of us have read about the concept of "peak oil." U.S. oil production peaked in 1970 and world oil production seems to have peaked at the end of 2006. Every one of us is now experiencing its effects. Similarly, U.S. natural gas production has peaked and is going through depletion. As a result, natural gas prices have tripled in the last decade.

What has not been discussed until very recently is the fact that the coal industry cannot keep pace with worldwide demand, nor can it handle future energy needs.

Scientist: Get involved for Earth Day

You can change a light bulb or plant a tree to help save the planet.

But to really be a good steward for Earth Day, get involved, said James Hansen, NASA's leading climate scientist who was in Reno this week to accept the Desert Research Institute's annual Nevada Medal award.

"The most important thing is to affect political process," said Hansen, the scientist featured on "60 Minutes" who complained that the Bush Administration edited his reports to make global warming seem less threatening.

Canada's Arctic mapping key to resource claims

OTTAWA - Mapping the outer limits of Canada's continental shelves in the Arctic is essential in order to allow the country to control oil and mineral exploration in a responsible way, Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn said Friday.

After returning from a trip to the polar cap where he visited a northern Canadian research outpost, Lunn said he was confident that scientists would finish their work on schedule by 2013, allowing Canada to stake its claim to controlling development near the North Pole.

Canada: Carbon tax won't park drivers

A carbon tax likely won't persuade people to conserve gas, according to new figures from Statistics Canada that show the rising price of oil hasn't compelled drivers to cut their consumption.

Nationally, gas prices rose 7.9% between March 2007 and March 2008, but Canadians spent 11.3% more at the pumps last year compared to 2006, indicating they consumed more gas despite the increased price.

Saudi Arabia Says Market Doesn't Need More Oil

Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia, facing calls from oil- consuming nations to pump more crude, has no plans to raise output because increased supply wouldn't damp record prices, Argus reported, citing Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi.

Adding the country's spare supplies would ``destabilize'' the market by flooding it with oil that isn't needed, al-Naimi said, according to Argus. Pressure to raise output is ``probably politically driven,'' he said.

Economies Can Cope With Higher Oil Price, Libya Says

``For years we've been saying the era of cheap oil is over,'' Shokri Ghanem, chairman of Libya's National Oil Corp., said today in Rome before the International Energy Forum, which starts tomorrow. ``None of us thought it would reach $115 a barrel so quickly, so it could reach $120'' this week.

The world economy ``has not reached the tipping point where it can't accept higher prices,'' Ghanem said.

Chinese oil product wholesalers should have minimum 15 days reserve

BEIJING (Xinhua) -- The Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said on Friday that the more than two year long-brewed "Administrant and technical criterion for wholesale enterprise of refined oil product" would take effect on May 1.

This criterion orders refined oil product enterprises to have at least 15 days of oil reserve on the basis of last year's average sales volume, a move to better stabilize market order.

Nigeria: Military Cannot Protect You, MEND Threatens Oil Companies

Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, (MEND) has warned oil companies working along the coastal region of Nigeria to be ready for war, just as it said the military was not in a position to protect them.

MEND said the oil companies were in for a raw deal, stressing that it had decided to step up its attack on oil installations ahead of schedule. "And there will be many more to follow," it assured.

Kremlin ‘threats’ to GML solicitor over Yukos oil company

A British businessman challenging the Russian government over its break-up of the Yukos oil company has accused the Kremlin of threats and intimidation.

Tim Osborne, a solicitor and director of GML, the majority shareholder in the now-defunct Yukos, said his foreign travel has been restricted since Russia’s prosecutor general announced he was under investigation for alleged embezzlement of $10 billion (£5 billion).

Apocalypse now

Mention the concepts permaculture, global warming, environmental education and the peak oil crisis five years ago and the reaction would have been a glazed-eyed vacant expression.

Say it today and you can expect dire Apocalyptic predictions about impending doom and gloom with parts of Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” quoted with religious fervour.

But these trendy catchwords aren’t vague concepts for Cuba’s Roberto Perez – they’ve been part of his stark reality since the early 1990s when his home country was plunged into economic crisis overnight with its loss of access to Soviet oil, fertilizers and export trade market.

UK: Four days' fuel left as refinery strike looms

FILLING stations across Scotland have only four days worth of fuel left, experts warned last night as a strike at the country's only oil refinery looms closer.

Supplies to airports, petrol stations and businesses across Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland could be disrupted within a week as contingency plans to close operations at Grangemouth begin today.

Gas prices box in an Alabama community

Cars have connected Wilcox County with the wider world, and with jobs. But now the drive doesn't pay off.

Asia's Optimism Misplaced as Oil Heads for $200

The decoupling story has come full circle. A year ago, Asia had outgrown the West. Then, as Asian shares fell, those arguing the region could stand alone became very quiet. Now the talk is that even with the U.S. teetering on recession, Asia's rapid growth will allow its markets to rise. Call it Decoupling Theory 2.0.

There are problems with this thesis, not least of which is the surging price of oil and food, and risks of wage-related inflation.

Cheap energy in UAE is over

The UAE's electricity demand projections are staggering. Based on future development plans, the current installed capacity of energy will need to double by 2015. The amount of energy the UAE consumes is set to treble by 2020 - a reflection of a very energy-intensive lifestyle. Even as the energy-producing Middle East sells its wares in lucrative global markets, the UAE looks set to suffer from the resulting demand and price rise.

Report: Iran's president says oil prices too low

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran's hard-line president declared that crude oil prices, now above $115 a barrel, are too low, state media reported Saturday.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told an oil and gas exhibition in Tehran on Friday that he thought the commodity still had to "discover its real value," according to the Web site of Iran's state-run television.

Paying the price for ignoring the real economy

Addressing the latest meeting of Development Committee of World Bank and IMF in Washington on April 13, the Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, lamented that high crude oil and galloping food prices were imposing a crushing burden on developing countries.

According to the Finance Minister, the price of crude (currently at around $110 a barrel) does not reflect either the cost of production or risks inherent in the market, and not even the interplay of demand and supply. Diversion of food crops for bio-fuels resulted in food inflation that hit the poor nations the hardest, he asserted.

France’s answer to global food crisis is EU protectionism

France has launched a political campaign to restore food protectionism at the heart of Europe’s agriculture policy as food riots erupt in poor countries and global leaders give warning of the dire consequences of soaring grain prices.

At a high-level EU agriculture meeting in Luxembourg, Michel Barnier, the French Agriculture Minister, called on Europe to establish a food security plan and to resist further cuts in Europe’s agriculture budget.

EU set to scrap biofuels target amid fears of food crisis

The European commission is backing away from its insistence on imposing a compulsory 10% quota of biofuels in all petrol and diesel by 2020, a central plank of its programme to lead the world in combating climate change.

Amid a worsening global food crisis exacerbated, say experts and critics, by the race to divert food or feed crops into biomass for the manufacture of vehicle fuel, and inundated by a flood of expert advice criticising the shift to renewable fuel, the commission appears to be getting cold feet about its biofuels target.

Obama, Clinton woo coal vote in upcoming primaries

WASHINGTON - Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are walking a delicate line as they promise to aggressively tackle global warming while trying to assure voters that they continue to believe in the future of coal.

18 states commit to take action on climate change

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger predicted Friday that an international deadlock over how to deal with global warming will end once President Bush leaves office, while a leading expert warned of dire consequences if urgent action is not taken.

Schwarzenegger spoke at a conference at Yale University in which 18 states pledged to take action on climate change. He noted a dispute over whether the U.S. should commit to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions before China and India do the same.

US climate change plan branded 'Neanderthal'

A new plan from US President George Bush which aims to cap greenhouse gases by 2025 has been dismissed as "disastrous" and "Neanderthal" by a group of ministers at a climate change meeting in Paris.

Bush's climate goals vague – but a start

"Given the administration's track record and its reputation on global climate-change policy to date, this is a step in the right direction," says Robert Stavins, an environmental economist at Harvard University.

Freshening of deep Antarctic waters worries experts

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Scientists studying the icy depths of the sea around Antarctica have detected changes in salinity that could have profound effects on the world's climate and ocean currents.

Arctic Meltdown: The Economic and Security Implications of Global Warming

Thanks to global warming, the Arctic icecap is rapidly melting, opening up access to massive natural resources and creating shipping shortcuts that could save billions of dollars a year. But there are currently no clear rules governing this economically and strategically vital region. Unless Washington leads the way toward a multilateral diplomatic solution, the Arctic could descend into armed conflict.

Ahhh, the good ol' days:


"Driving to and from living room and fridge" - why not? It's a free country, right?

I still remember gas being 92.9 cents per gallon.

I remember when petrol first reached 20 cents per litre in Australia. 1979. I was only a kid at the time, so people must have been complaining pretty loudly for me to remember it.

People have this tendancy to think that what they see in front of their faces everyday is normal. But "normal" changes all the time.

A column mentioning the report -- back when oil was around $40 a barrel -- was met with a barrage of testy e-mails. The basic reaction was that commodity prices were already a bubble that soon would burst. Oil at $100 was seen by most as fanciful. Yet 3 1/2 years later, oil is well above that level and climbing

People have an idea of "normal" based on their experiences during the last decade or two. Anything that doesn't fit with that limited experience is "fanciful" or impossible. I always think it is funny how economists talk about "the post-war period" as if we legislated away chaos in 1945, and any return to the instability of prior errors is so unlikely it is not worth discussing.

If you are willing to go back even a hundred years in shaping your worldview, you have to admit that anything is possible,the rules can change completely in the space of a year and turn the world upside down, and people don't like to think about that.

Your story in Australia in 1979 reminds me of when my Father and I filled up in Los Angeles in 1965 (I was 9) for 28 cents a gallon, (that's almost 4 gallons for 1 buck!) while two guys feverishly washed the windshield, checked tire pressure, trani fluid, radiator and oil. They use to have gas wars back then, where stations would compete for your business by lowering the price to beat the other stations and offering greater service at the pump. They actually had soap in the bucket to clean the windshield, and those guys did it so often they could clean it without leaving a single streak. It's a moment in time etched in memory.

Call it the opposite of today when I passed our local station that has water with no soap to clean the windshield yourself, and every type of gas is over 4 bucks for 1 gallon.

In the UK we still remember, barely, $4.00 a gallon. Try the current price round here £1.079 per litre and thats not the most expenive in the UK - nearly $10.00 a gallon, depending which measure of a gallon you use US or Imperial.

I remember gasoline being about $0.45 per gallon, & motor oil $0.25 per quart. The first time I saw gas >$1.00 per gallon was in the Yukon Territory, driving an F-350 Ford truck to Alaska. I thot "What's the world coming to?" at that price.

We are the lucky generations, favored by chance to have lived during the extremely narrow window in human history when fossil fuels were cheap & abundant and antibiotics actually worked. My greatgrandparents farmed with horses, my grandparents' generation moved to town & worked in factories, my parents were mod & educated and worked in offices, my generation were hippie throwbacks to the land who could afford to not take survival seriously, my kids are IT techies struggling with debt, my grandkids won't have horses to farm with & will likely starve or die of infection from bacteria that have evolved multiple antibiotic resistence. What amazing times these are.

In the 60's in LA, I never paid more that .25 per gallon. (about .09 per liter).
Of course, the dollar did go a bit further those days, and survival was simple.
Rent for 3 months in Huntington Beach? $90.00.

Darwinsdog -

I too have been have similar thoughts regarding the uniqueness of growing up during the Postwar boom, which I would roughly place as the period from about 1953 through the late 1960s, or thereabouts.

Not only was fuel cheap and totally taken for granted, but there was a pervasive optimism that the future would be better (provided we didn't get nuked by them Rooskies) and that one's children would do better than one's own generation. Even throughout the turmoil of the late 1960s, economic and resource worries appeared to more in the background.

If one came from a working-class background, it was a given article of faith that if you acquired a college diploma, it would be an automatic ticket to a life of prosperity. Of course, this may have been wishful thinking on the part of a lot of second-generation immigrant families, but nonetheless there was faith that the system would hold and that there would be a niche in that system for almost everyone (of course it helped to be white).

As an example, I graduated from a small eastern engineering school, class of '67. Of the 270 graduates, EVERY single one had at least one job offer, and the average number of job offers was something like 4.4. When I relate this little factoid to young people that react with total disbelief.

If things continue the way they are, I think colleges and universities are going to be in for a real hard time, as it becomes more and more apparent that going to college is no longer going to offer much promise of bettering oneself economically. College was once largely the domain of the professional and monied classes, and it wasn't until after WW II that there was a flood of young working-class people attending college, all looking for a shot at the American Dream. I think we might see a retrenchment, in which enrollment at colleges and universities will shrink and we will once again see these institutions revert to serving a smaller body of elites. This would be entirely consistent with the ongoing hollowing out of the American middle class. Alas.

"the extremely narrow window in human history when ...antibiotics actually worked"

This reminds me of the return of wheat stem rust (UG99) which has been on my mind lately. We bred disease resistant wheat varieties back in the 60s, which resulted in much more reliable yields, which together with pesticides and fertilisers has allowed grain supplies to increase to the point where we can feed 6 billion people.

However, a new form of wheat rust has evolved which can overcome the most common genes for resistance in modern wheat varieties, and is likely to make it to India in the next couple of years. Wheat yields could be severely reduced. Fertiliser is getting more expensive due to demand and higher oil & gas prices, shipping costs and production costs for pesticides are rising as oil prices rises. Can the "green-revolution" get a second wind post-peak?

We are due to hit 7 billion in 2012, and 8 billion in 2025. Most of the extra people will be a band from Nigeria to Bangladesh.

It seems to me that at some point the population growth omnibus is going to run into the brick wall of peak food. And the more people on the bus when that happens, the more horrific the resulting mess is going to be.

In that band they are breeding madly without any thought as to where their future food is going to come from. I hope they don't intend to export their extra billions to us.

Racist much?

There is no reason why we should suffer for their failure to keep their reproduction to sensable levels. Out food resources wouls break under the strain.

They're just doing what they can...

They know it takes many dozens of them to match the consumption of any ONE of us. What is the reason that they should suffer for our failure to keep our consumption to sensible levels?

Not to forget that you're making a blanket statement about the reproduction choices of the population between Nigeria and Bangladesh.

Damn, you almost sound American with such rubbish!

But it's OK for developed countries to use virtually all of the energy resources (US: <5% of population, but uses >20% of all the energy) and to waste enough food to feed millions?

Jesus, I hope you are banned soon.


Well I doubt Weatherman is Jesus, but I agree with his thoughts.

Humans love to tie arguments together, especially if it avoids dealing with them properly. The developed world uses too much. Thats a problem. The undeveloped world breeds too much. Thats a problem.

You cannot excuse one because of the other.

Both are caused by lack of government.

Which is the unstabilised, exponential problem?

Both are caused by lack of government.

Yes because every day I hear a government spokesman telling people to stop consuming to benefit the economy and to stop breeding to save national resources..... Oh wait no I don't!

Anyone who blames the current food crisis on the poor is __________. (< fill in your own adjective.)

This isn't even worth discussing. There is, at present, the ability to feed the world. There is, at present, not enough willingness to do so. While total numbers will be a problem, they are not the problem now. This is obvious and it is inarguable.

I have no patience for those who blame victims.

Color me disgusted.


How about plain old classism? Rich VS poor.

There only two classes of people those that labour for their returns and those that steal from the first class.

You're probably right, Eric.

The two are tough to disentangle, much of the time.. but it's rarely useful to sling that word around, regardless.

Weatherman, to be clear, I don't know you, and I would just say that your >Statement< was racist or classist, not necessarily you.

Apologies, Bob

Studies have shown the birth rates in NW Africa are amongst the highest in the world. No mention was made of race. It may be lack of ethics, poor planning, not seeing the results of one's actions, lack of good education, different moral values, etc.

And the American contributers should realise that we are on the doorstep of NW Africa.

At that point, you might say Which studies.

Beyond that, these Nations have been subjected (literally) to colonization by Nations that are adept at painting their own moral superiority, probably with a thick layer of material frosting to emphasize their provenance and approval by God, the material being supplied by these perpetually impoverished subjects.. 'Different Moral Values', indeed.

On the northeast corner of Nineteenth Avenue and Ortega in San Francisco is a Standard (Chevron) gas-station. I worked at that gas-station from January, 1972 to October, 1976; I was at San Francisco State at this time, so I worked weekends during the school year and full-time for most of the summer.

When I first started working there, gasoline fluctuated between 25.9 and 35.9 cents per gallon, (for Premium, or Ethyl, as it was then often known, Regular was a three or four cents a gallon cheaper) as, if I recall correctly, they had for the past decade or more. The price fluctuation was due to the ongoing “gas wars” conducted by local gas-stations. I could come to work one weekend and gas prices would be at the bottom of the range, and we would be quite busy, the next weekend the prices would have gone up a few cents, and the weekend after that we would be at or near the top or the scale, and business was quite slow. Then, the next week, prices would have plunged down to the bottom of the scale again, and the whole cycle would continue.

But, although none of us working at the gas station were aware of Peak Oil, or the fact that the US had hit its peak back in 1970, this last fact undoubtedly was behind the unexplained minor shortages that started appearing in mid to late 1972, the first of the long lines at the station, and the price (temporarily, as I recall) rising to an unprecedented 40 cents a gallon. But the optimism of that era was deeply entrenched, I recall at the time gas hit the 40 cent mark sitting around with four or five co-workers at the gas-station on a slow day, and asking how long it would take gas to reach a buck a gallon. Everyone looked around, thought, then the unanimous verdict was: “Naah, never happen.”

Anyway, I don’t know if we made arrangements with the Saudis or others for increased imports, because, as I recall, this 1972 mini-crisis seemed to melt away after a few months. But this didn’t last long, as the Arab Oil Embargo came down in mid-October of 1973, and its effects begin to be felt at the pumps only several weeks later. At first this consisted of price rises, to what were for the times, unprecedented levels. I recall going out to service a car, and the old guy in it looked at the price on the pump, a mind-boggling 50 cents a gallon. He looked at me and said “F**k you, I’m not paying you rip-offs” He started to drive off, but before he left, I snarled back at him, “Well, Asshole, you’ll run out of gas before you find anything cheaper, the price is the same everywhere.” And the price WAS the same everywhere, from now on it would only move upward or at best hang steady, the era of the “gas-wars” between service-stations was over, forever.

And the gas-wars were not the only long-standing business practice to end, forever. Before the Arab Oil Embargo, gas-stations, grocery stores of all sizes, and other retail outlets gave away trading stamps. People born this side of the late ‘60’s probably have never seen these, but they were a regular feature at retail outlets throughout my childhood and teenage years. On the West Coast, the trading stamps were Blue Chip Stamps and S&H Green Stamps, with Blue Chip being by far the more widely offered. Each stamp had printed on it “Cash Value One Mill.” (A mill is one tenth of one cent.) These were actual stamps, about two-thirds the size of an ordinary postage stamp, and gummed on the back, and you pasted them into booklets which, when a sufficient quantity was amassed, could be redeemed for stuff like toasters, vacuum cleaners, etc., mostly household appliances and stuff, as I recall. Anyway, these vanished from the entire retail scene, not just the gas stations shortly after the Arab Oil Embargo really started kicking in. Gas-stations in general, as far back as I remember, also offered free state and local highway maps that they gave away to their customers. Maps didn’t disappear, but they were no longer free as a price-tag of from 50 cent to a buck was now charged. And, of course, the Embargo was the beginning of the end for the true “service-station”, before, “self-service” was rare, but from this point in time on, it expanded, while the full service stations continued to diminish in numbers over the years.

When the Oil Embargo was first announced, the first effect were the price rises. Most people must have (incredibly, naively, from to-day’s vantage point) thought all this would be quite temporary, as for the first week or two of the Embargo, business was slow, as, I suppose people, like the guy who buzzed me off over 50-cent gas must have thought that prices would soon come down. It takes about six weeks for a tanker to sail from Saudi Arabia to the U.S., so six weeks after the Embargo was announced, the effect became quite noticeable, and the real gas lines became an everyday feature. This was when the government installed the odd-even (based on your car’s license number) sort of “Rationing Lite” system. And the oil companies practiced their own rationing, as each service station received a specific monthly allotment of gasoline. Scotty (Scotty Petrie, the operator of the 19th and Ortega station at this time) calculated that if he sold every car all the gas they wanted, that he would exhaust the monthly allotment that Standard Oil granted him in slightly more than two weeks. So Scotty instituted a limit of 8 gallons to every car coming into the pumps. Business hours were also cut back, and this created problems with the long lines of waiting autos, which backed out of the station and went up the street, frequently curling around the block and extend up most of that block. So, a couple of hours before closing time, we would take a large cardboard sign that said “Last Car”, go out to the last car an the line and inform the driver he was lucky, as he would be the last getting gas here to-day, then hang the sign on the back of his car. One day, I went out with the sign, and as it turned out, the last car sort of stood out, an almost overwhelmingly bright yellow VW Bug. I put the sign on the car, and returned to the gas-station and continued pumping gas. A couple hours later the yellow VW comes up and I sell it its gas, and went on to service the next car after the VW departed. It wasn’t until three or four cars had bought their eight gallons that I flashed on the fact that the VW was supposed to be the last car for the day. There were several cars still in line with the sign now on the last of them. It turned out that after I left the sign on the VW, the next car came up, and offered the driver of the VW $5 to take the sign and put it on his own car; he then sold the sign to the next car coming behind him, and so on. Ever after that, an employee of the gas-station had to simply stand by the last car, and slowly walk with it as it inched towards the station, and waving off all would-be customers.

After five months, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia felt he had wrested as much as he could out of the US and the West insofar as seriously addressing the (at the time) 25 year old Arab-Israel conflict. So the Embargo was lifted, and the oil flow resumed. But before the Embargo, the Saudis were getting something like $2.80 per barrel, afterward, as part of the price for restoring production, Faisal insisted on, and got a price of $11.65 per barrel. And the era of 25-35 cent gasoline, along with free maps and trading stamps, was over….Forever.

Anyway, thanks for the trip down Memory Lane. A lot of it just seems unbelievable now, free maps and trading stamps and getting cussed out behind 50 cent gas. Definitely, it was another era.

Antoinetta III

AntoinettaIII, thanks for the great bit of writing---better than Herb Caen!...

Thanks for that, just great.

I bought 90 cents' worth of gas today, because that's what I had in my pocket and I wanted to be able to get into Town *and* back. Did some (caricature) work so I can now afford to gas up the bike AND go to the Laundromat. I'm really looking forward to not having to buy gas at all.........

Cheer up, your grand kids won't have the many compounds in their food that suppress their immune systems, or fragile immune systems from being raised too clean. Antibiotic resistance is only an advantage for a bug if there is antibiotics.

I remember when I was around 12 years old, there was a "gas war". Now, this is different than the current war over oil in Iraq. It was where the gas stations would compete over customers by lowering prices to extremely low levels. The station my Dad patronized was offering gas for *FREE* for any customers with their station's credit card. Here we are 40 years later at $3.99.9 now at our local N.CA. stations (diesel is $4.39.9).

Our local county and city "leaders" are busy talking about "economic development" and getting more tourists to come and spend money here... while I see LESS road traffic and tourists as energy prices continue to climb. This is happening while the county is saying they will have to cut back on road maintenance and winter snow plowing because they cannot afford asphalt and diesel fuel.

The nearest airport is in the midst of a huge expansion... Obviously they are not considering how these planes will be fueled. When will people "get" what is going on and direct meaningful and appropriate change? Probably not until forced.


I'm assuming you live in or near Shasta, California, a beautiful area. I live near a similar area that is almost completely dependent upon tourism in Colorado.

We just had a local election for Mayor and town board and one of the questions is what we do in the fact of rising oil and gas prices given our dependency on those who get here by auto. A very popular answer had to do with "Better marketing". Impose an additional 2% tax on lodging and beef up the marketing effort.

So, in this area, I guess, the future for dependency on the automobile is secure.

I will give some credit to one of the mayoral candidates, however. I asked him what we were going to do with $200 oil and $10 per gallon gasoline. The gist of his answer is that the town might just wither away to something resembling the 1920s, a playground essentially for the the rich. That may be the more realistic and honest answer.

Yes, indeedy. All America needs is better marketing and this country is gonna grow.

There are a few tourist destinations left, however, that are adjacent to or near what is left of our train system, i.e., AMTRAK. In the future, especially if we could get the system upgraded to Bulgarian standards, these tourist areas will prosper, relatively speaking,to those completely dependent upon the auto.

There are a few tourist destinations left, however, that are adjacent to or near what is left of our train system, i.e., AMTRAK. In the future, especially if we could get the system upgraded to Bulgarian standards, these tourist areas will prosper, relatively speaking,to those completely dependent upon the auto.

That may include us down here in South East Florida USA (beaches) 'cept we might be under water in 25+ years.


That a highway was considered to be more important than a rail connection to a few keys with no point on each more than an hours bike ride apart is something that I still can't understand.

I'm assuming as a Floridian you're familiar with the East Coast line down to Key West which was wiped out in...1920?
Well there were hurricanes but I guess the one that did it in was the 1935 one...Labor day storm?

There is a region (the entire keys) crying out for transit and a bike sharing program.

Yup 1935 (estimated Cat 5 storm). Before my time, but not by much ;-) I am one of those few "almost 60" NATIVE Floridians.


It's been years since I have been down that way. I agree with you, but the old time Conchs - they think of themselves as the Conch Republic and quite apart from the mainland - can be quite self sufficent and I image will return to such a status once the pretenders in their McMansions desert the place post carbon.

I guess they'll have to figure out how to get fresh water since the main pipeline comes for the mainline.

I suppose the few left can sail around once the gas is gone and the road infrastructure collapses - either from deferred maint or another Cat 3+ storm.


Florida is a mess while the High speed rail has been denied funding by the state, there are numerous road projects going on and of course there is a lot of sports infrastructure being built.

One has to wonder why sports venues are replaces before they are paid for. i.e the old Tampa stadium, "the big sombrero"

Why Miami needs three arenas, etc. Why does Orlando need two football stadiums and why does it need a new arena (O-rena) when the current one is less than 20 years old?

The money and materials that are to be spent replacing the dome in st pete, a perfectly good venue that has many good years left, could be better spent on public transit, the money and materials spent on the Raymond James stadium, if put toward the teco street car line could have added miles to the system and better prepared Tampa for a post oil future. What good will these new stadiums be after the peak oil crises destroys major sports leagues.

I just stepped off Amtrak in Portland, OR -- started in Washington DC. Certainly the only civilized way to travel these days.

My question, however, is whether Amtrack is really any more fuel efficient than cars, busses or even airliners -- if each mode of transportation were to run full, that is. Those big trains use up a lot of Diesel fuel.

As an engineering consultant that works in the transportation field and formerly worked in the engineering department of an aircraft manufacturer and two railroads I can say this:

A 2004 Oak Ridge National Labs study www.narprail.org/cms/index.php/resources/more/oak_ridge_fuel showed that Amtrak trains, which were also hauling many cars of freight and mail, were only 17% more efficient than airplanes. Then the average long distance train had three to ten cars of freight and 6 to 8 passenger cars. Since 2004 Amtrak has discontinued its mail and express freight business, except for hauling 100 lb or less parcels in the baggage compartments, just like airplanes. So, many of these trains decreased their fuel consumption by half or more as the locomotives required to pull the trains dropped from four to two and from two to one. The Oak Ridge study did not account for the freight hauled by the long distance trains thus skewing the results to make trains appear less fuel afficient.

In 1979 the Budd Company and the Electromotive Division of General Motors did a study that showed short distance passenger trains attained 250 to 500 seat miles per gallon. Since then trains have become more fuel efficient and so have airplanes. But note that the best fuel performance by any plane will be the Boeing 787 which attains only 70 to 80 seat miles per gallon.

I would venture to say that a cross country trip today on Amtrak is around 100% more fuel efficient than the typical jet plane trip.

I did a study a few years ago (things have changed a bit) and diesel Amtrak (exclude NEC which is electrified) got about 85 pax-mpg with 58% load factors. Southwest Airlines got 53 pax-mpg with low 80% load factor. Belly freight needs to be added to SW for better evaluation of overall fuel efficiency.

I am not a great fan of expanding Amtrak where it runs on diesel, except where it picks up passengers who would have otherwise driven (<250 miles trips ?).

Stationary hotels and restaurants running off grid power are more energy efficient than rolling ones running off diesel.

I would rather see federal subsidies go to capital improvements that will last over a century (DC Metro to Dulles) than annual subsidies that evaporate the next year.

NOT a popular position with rail fans that I hang out with :-(


Not sure how freight affects the airline fuel efficiency, but it is not much. My company used to regularily ship by Southwest Air freight and I would venture to say that it is not much compared to what Amtrak had in their trains in 2004. Just looking at what was on the floor of the SW air freight terminal in St. Louis (near the end of the day) would not half fill one boxcar that Amtrak hauled. Likewise I have made hundreds of flights on SW over the last 20 years and have watched what was put on board at most stops - not much compared to passenger baggage.

My comment about the 250 - 500 seat mile per gallon (SMPG) shows short distance diesel trains hugely more efficient than short air trips. Part of my job as a new hire mechanical engineer with ATSF RR in 1981 was keeping track of fuel used by locomotives and trains traveling cross country. Those figures on diesel locomotive fuel usage/ seat miles per gallon from GM were accurate. I have also examined fuel consumption of Amtrak long distance trains and they would consume around 3 0r 4 gallons a mile with 200 passengers (maybe 300 seats) and two or three cars of mail/freight. This was in the 1999 to 2002 years. So your figure for 85 PMPG is also accurate.

I am against annual subsidies to energy inefficient modes of transport, like the $10 to $12 billion per year for air traffic control and part of airport security that is not user paid.

I agree the best scenario for trains is electric power, but diesel powered trains can save oil here and now.

I would rather see federal subsidies go to capital improvements that will last over a century (DC Metro to Dulles) than annual subsidies that evaporate the next year.

NOT a popular position with rail fans that I hang out with :-(

Let me take this opportunity to second your theses here... The very important issue, if what we are concerned with is continuation of a decent society for our descendants, is to think long term. In this case capital improvements that change local communities, change they can live with over an entire lifetime and not just over the next fiscal year.

I live in Durango. Same deal. In the 50's we tore out the train lines that connected us to everywhere else. All the grocery stores and hotels on Main Avenue now sit with their backs against a train track that doesn't go anywhere, while the groceries and tourists arrive in cars and trucks over hundreds of miles of heavily-maintained mountain road.

I used to live in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia surrounded by the old deserted hot springs resort towns of the 19th century that have just withered away to a single super-expensive hotel (if that) and no other jobs - I wonder if those towns will soon come back and we'll end up like them.

Tstreet - same here in this northern arizona town. There's little industry other than tourism. Some cattle ranching, lots of retirees, lots of people on various forms of money from outside, SSI, SSDI, WIC, food stamps. Gas prices are killing things off since it's 25 miles to the closest thing and many commute to Phoenix (100+ miles) for work. Also, huge trucks are considered a necessity here.

This is Exurbia, the outer asteroid belt. It's just too dry, windy, and rigorous to grow much of anything, and history's full of examples of Indians who tried to transition to agriculture and failed. So unlike a lot of remote exurbs in nicer climates, we can't become our own self-sufficient world. The gov't checks stop, this place dries up. Gas goes up to say $7, this place dries up. Electricity goes, this places dries up really quick (there's no surface water to speak of, water is down deep and dependent on expensive electric pumps).

This is the kind of place Kunstler talks about. I bet Kunstler's town is more fun in the winter than this place is when the weather's "nice".

Vision of the future ?

Southwest Airlines Now Taking Passengers To Destinations By Shuttle Bus

Here's another vision of a possible future (more metaphorical than anything)...

41 hours trapped in an elevator, condensed into a couple of minutes of video


Or ... what you get if not enough money is invested in rail.


The Tokyo subway gets superb energy efficiency per pax-mile.

Best Hopes for SLIGHTLY less than optimum fuel efficiency,


I had a great get together yesterday with a few University students here at the shop.

I tell them right off that it is my belief that we are in for some very tough times near term and will likely go through what some call a “bottleneck” but that I hold out great hope for what might be possible on the other side.

I also said that I have done quite a bit of research on the issues and that although I’m optimistic about a future, I will be quick to debunk the techno-fix solutions that have us end up sailing along, BAU, (and that I will be happy to supply reference material).

All in all it went pretty well. I didn’t find them overly technocopianish, (new word).

There is a lot of anger, a sense of having the future stolen from them.

Two interesting comments were made;

One guy said he thought the peak oil graph was confusing and would make more sense if it were turned upside down. First half an easy rollercoaster ride cruise, second half a tough up hill grind.

One gal commented that going to university, preparing to enter the broken system that created all this mess was like buying tickets on the Titanic AFTER it has struck the iceberg. (she said she just switched into organic farming)

I hope to this again and include a couple profs that I have been talking to. Then maybe approch local gov.


"One gal commented that going to university, preparing to enter the broken system that created all this mess was like buying tickets on the Titanic AFTER it has struck the iceberg. (she said she just switched into organic farming) "

Very interesting and certainly quite understandable. Nonetheless, here we all are; and even if we as individuals (or even if young individuals) bear little or less responsibility for our plight in a world of impending scarcities, we still have to learn how to cope with that world. We will still bear responsibility for ourselves and others going forward.

This is not to gainsay the feelings of outrage or depression felt by young people at the way in which we humans have been squandering precious, non-renewable resources in the past couple of centuries. I have heard these feelings expressed by my own students; they are certainly legitimate and warranted.

Nevertheless, as I said, they don't exactly excuse any of us from having to act as responsibly and compassionately as we can going forward. And these aren't intended as moral platitudes. I take it that the "landing" ahead will be softer in proportion to how we manage to work together toward conceiving and executing it. Our strength as a species has always been our social being (notwithstanding our having killed scores of millions of our own kind in the last century alone!).

There is a lot of anger, a sense of having the future stolen from them.

This is what I get from my son and he says it is a common feeling of people in their 20s. There is a lot of hatred directed towards "baby boomers" who polluted the earth and gorged on its resources.

I wish I could get him to be like the young lady who dusted herself off after recognizing we have hit the iceberg and switched to organic gardening, but he is figuring on being part of the dieoff.

And I remember gas at 29 cents per gallon when the attendants would pump the gas, check the oil, wash the windshield and give some kind of "bonus" like a coffee mug.

Could we have realized then that we were doing it soooo wrong?

Hi, souperman2.

On an email list, I wrote (the relevant part starts in the third paragraph):

The grief model doesn't cover it all, especially since it was constructed to handle the human psyche after an event. With peak oil we're looking at people's response before the event and some things fall out of that.

I mentioned in the interview that I experience fear of how the world could unfold without actually saying what I'm afraid of. When I wake up at night my mind goes to the possibility that that we could enter a Mad Max scenario, and I think that is virtually guaranteed for many parts of the world because it exists now -- just look where there are warlords. So I think it's reasonable to assume that as the conditions that allow warlords to appear spread, the number of warlords will increase, and force will rule the day. I don't know how likely civil breakdown is here in a first world country, but when people are hungry and angry, that's a volatile mix. I think the security industry (locks, alarms, etc.) will see an increase in sales for a while.

The second thing I see when I look from that perspective is the disappointment that people will feel as they realize that the future they were living into will no longer come into existence. In the coaching model I use, what a person is feeling now is a function of the future they are living into. Said more simply, I'm happy when I like what's in my future and I'm unhappy when I don't like what's in my future.

For example, assume that I am having a normal day and feel "normal." Then I check my lottery ticket and discover that I've won. Now I'm ecstatic. Has anything in reality actually changed yet? No. This emotional change of state occurs simply because I have learned something new about my future.

But the reverse is also true. Someone at one of my talks asked me, "How do I tell my teenage daughter that her dream of being a professional ballet dancer may never come to pass?" Good question. The daughter will have to create a new future for herself and if she fails to do that then peak oil will leave her in a permanently depressed state. If a sufficient number of fellow citizens fail to create a new future, then we will be living the movie "Children of Men."

One of our jobs as community coordinators is going to be to create compelling futures in our speeches and activities. These must be futures worth living into. But we need to be firm and clear (but still compassionate) with people that the future they currently think is going to occur will not occur. Until that piece is accepted by an individual, there will be no space to create something new.

The student you mentioned switched to organic farming has begun the process of creating a new future for herself. That's a good idea for all of us to do.


So much of it is about expectations. I wonder if that's why Americans are so unhappy when they have so much. We just expect so much more.

Though really...making a new future for yourself is something you usually have to do anyway, eventually. That girl will probably never be a professional ballet dancer, even if peak oil doesn't hit until 2100. It's a competitive field, with a lot of people trying for only a few jobs. Ditto all the kids who dream of being Major League Baseball players, or astronauts, or CEO of IBM, or Nobel Prize winning scientists, or President of the United States. It might actually be better if they have something external to blame it on.

A lot of it is being indoctrinated to expect to have upward social mobility, and in fact in the US this has halted. Our parents grew up in a time of amazing upward mobility, thanks to oil, technology, Empire, Kissinger, etc. The hardening of class lines, halt of upward mobility for almost everyone in the US, isn't just a blow from out of left field, it's a blow from a direction Americans don't even have a word for.

it's a blow from a direction Americans don't even have a word for.

The more common 'branding' is racism, as the even more common myth is the US does not have classism.

Our parents grew up in a time of amazing upward mobility, thanks to oil, technology, Empire, Kissinger, etc. The hardening of class lines, halt of upward mobility for almost everyone in the US, isn't just a blow from out of left field, it's a blow from a direction Americans don't even have a word for.

Since none of things have produced upward mobility in the past why do you think they are responsible now, I think you'll find it was something else entirely.


Compare the US:

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

with France's:

Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.

or Canada's:

Peace order and Good Government.

Particularly look at the phrase 'pursuit of happiness. The implication is something to be sought rather than obtained. I think taken as a whole those American 'watchwords' would engender a very competitive dog eat dog or devil take the hindmost culture. France tempers its freedom with equality and brotherhood and, from this distance at least, they look not too unhappy. Up here in Canada, as our watchwords would indicate, we've been a rather boring but generally content people, at least until being swept up by US corporatism and globalism (Globalism running under those US watchwords?).

Another gem; thanks Andre.

Thanks Andre - I had not read that one and I make a point to read all your posts.

Somewhat on the same line of thought a grower whom I have been encouraging along was telling me the other day how ideal his new lifestyle was for him.

He spends two thirds of his time with dirt, plants, sun, etc. and one third dealing with the greatest, most appreciative people at the markets and restaurants he deals with.

Says it's just the right humanity to nature ratio to keep him happy and sane.

Takes a couple hours off mid day to eat his biggest meal and rest, nap, whatever, and goes at it early and late.

Not too bad a future.


Boy do I sound optimistic. Gag me with a spoon.

aangel wrote:

"Someone at one of my talks asked me, "How do I tell my teenage daughter that her dream of being a professional ballet dancer may never come to pass?" Good question. The daughter will have to create a new future for herself and if she fails to do that then peak oil will leave her in a permanently depressed state."

The book, "Into The Forest" by Jean Hegland is the story of a young aspiring professional ballet dancer and her sister and how they're affected by a collapse of society. It's one answer to the question posed.

Why would it be bad to study? The demand for qood engineers will be huge.

The demand for qood engineers System D experts will be huge.


More seriously, I'm training as an engineer (computers, so not really applicable, but still), and most engineers only know how to perform a fez specialised tasks, but those they do really well.

A civil engineer is not cabable of single handidly building a bridge. He wasn't trained for it, and frankly, he doesn't want to know. What he does determine the specifications the bridge should have to be able to do it's job, and note them down in such a way that the workers who build it can do the _actual_ work.

The same goes for most other types of engineers. Rob them of their specialised tools, and their almost helpless.

OTOH, an engineer who takes a practicle approche, and acutally builds stuff in a workshop, will become the life and sole of his village as the village's technologist.

FYI, Yes I'm brushing up on my statistics and my phyiscs for this very reason, so yes I'm biased.


Both Obama and Clinton have tailored their global warming message for the coal states. Clinton seems fine with mountain top mining in West Virginia and Obama talks about balancing the environment and economics with respect to coal mining. At least Clinton's pandering is a bit clearer than Obama's, who puts forth his meaningless and ambiguous message about "balance".

What is balance? Balance for a coal company is just destroying half the state, not necessarily all of it, for now. Balance for an environmentalist might be to allow additional coal plants, but only if co2 sequestration was required.

Not one question was asked about the environment or global warming. I didn't hear either candidate complain about that. While all the so called personal integrity questions were unnecessary, haven't we also heard enough detail about their approaches to getting out of Iraq?

Once the Dems settle on a cadidate there will be a few debates between McSame and the Dem.

It may be folly but perhaps separately (individual TOD members) and/or collectivey (The TOD contributors/editors) could "lobby" the debate sponsors and prep them with some Peak Oil questions.

I happen to like Obama best (which is not say there should not be better) and have peppered his campaign with "thoughts from TOD". All I have received back is solicitation to participate in a phone bank - kind of as expected.

Maybe Simmons or Dr. Hansen as a citizen could press for just one question.



If Obama gets elected, flyover country may rebel against the coasts. Given his extreme views on government's role, the right to bear arms, and general lack of respect for those who serve this country (veterans), it wouldn't be pretty. Good news though, peak oil and global warming will be the least of our worries. :-)

I'm sure that both sides are aware of peak oil, but to expect them to tip their hand is naive at best. Best thing the federal government can do is nothing, they've already made too big of a mess overseas.

Yeah, the guy is a commie-as long as he is not elected, the USA government "role" will stay minor and small and it will keep shrinking like some Ronnie Raygun wet dream. Low taxes, high spending (lots of pork barrel)-trash the currency, right on! Bring on the senile POW.

Let's ditch all the candidates, and get one out of the Ronald Reagan Home for the Criminally Insane----
Seems to be what the sheeple want (or at least their masters want).
In some ways it makes sense, as it seems apparent the survivors (if any) will need to sort this out on the other side of the wall we are about to crash into--
A Reagan like candidate would quicken the crash.

That's funny. If he is elected, in 3 years you will be able to count the massive changes he brings on the fingers of one clenched fist. No candidate gets this far without being vetted by the big money. Watch the birdie.......

End The Ethanol Folly For Food's Sake By Deroy Murdock

High oil prices and growing global food demand fan these flames, but government lit the match. Atop the European Union's biofuels mandate, America's 51-cent-per-gallon ethanol tax subsidy (2007 cost: $8 billion) and Congress' 7.5-billion-gallon annual production quota (rising to 36 billion in 2022) have turned corn farms into monetary printing presses. Diverting one quarter of U.S. corn into motors rather than mouths has boosted prices 74 percent in a year.

This is a very good article written yesterday about all the problems that the biofuels push is causing. However, I feel that the author has ignored the energy supply and thus I commented accordingly. My comment should be visible below his article, but here it is for TOD:

Posted By: Joseph Basile on Saturday, April 19, 2008

Mr. Murdok,

I feel that I have seen far too much reality in the 22 short years I have been alive. I have seen the fairtale-esk prosperity of the 1990's, and I have seen the failure of the political process in late 2000. And I saw this Nation's hopes and dreams about our future come crashing down in a torrent of pulverized concrete, shattered glass, and twisted steel when I was only a high school sophomore. Then, another glimmer of hope, that we might be able to defeat our enemies and bring peace, stability, and freedom to the people of Afghanistan came crashing down once again in 2003 when we ran headlong into a giant field of muck we now call Iraq.

I am now seeing another dreadful chapter in a short life that has seen the world headed downhill monotonically.

You are absolutely right. Giving up biofuels right now is absolutely essential. Having full stomachs and the stability that comes with that is of the utmost importance. But there is another consequence to giving up biofuels: gas lines.

Total world oil production has been relatively flat since 2005 while India, China, and other developing powers are longing to consume ever more. Now I see us locked in a bidding war with them, for the light, sweet crude that powers our vehicles, our power plants, our factories, our agriculture... our entire economy. As a result, we are sending more and more money to people who hate us, and since there's so many Benjamin Franklin's flying around, he's not worth as much any more.

And so, to make up the difference when Ben can't bring home enough oil for fuels, we have been turning our food into fuel. We're coming to a choice between food or fuel. Our abundant food supply has allowed us, thus far, to choose fuel. But soon that balance will tip very far away from our favor. One move that may come about because of this is the increased burning of coal. Coal emits massive amounts of carbon dioxide when it is burned. Where does that leave us? More Katrinas and no Polar Bears, that's where.

Where does cutting biofuels completely out and not turning to coal leave us? The Great Depression II.

At the risk of sounding cleshay, We're stuck between a very large rock and a very hard place.

There is only one way out: A concerted conservation effort coupled with the urgent, frantic construction of as many solar, wind, and various ocean power sources as possible. We have no hope of converting our massive fleet of vehicles over to electric in time, but we can start offsetting the consumption of oil and natural gas for electrical power generation while we make that transition.

In closing, your article makes plenty of brilliant points, but it makes the same (and opposite) mistake that the biofuel supporters made when they got ethanol production moving: the only looked at half the picture. Ethanol supporters only thought about rising fuels costs and supply shortfalls while completely ignoring food supply. You, on the other hand, only seem to be considering food supply while ignoring fuels costs and supply shortfalls.

Canada passed legislation requiring 5% of all gasoline fuel sold in Canada must be replaced with ethanol by 2010. Canada was one of the top five world grain exporters. Britain and some EU nations have also enacted further provisions to reduce grain available for sale in order to satisfy their naive curiosity.

If the situation is not reversed up to 40% of the United States grain harvest (corn + wheat) might be diverted to grain ethanol production as cellulosic ethanol production is not scheduled to be on time. If the ethanol will not be availble, restricted sales of gasoline will be required to meet the Federal requirements (in 2022).

This conclusion is radical and will no doubt be unpopular with some: Biofuel made from food grains and edible oils is not only immoral, it constitutes terrorism.

Biofuel made from food grains and edible oils is not only immoral, it constitutes terrorism.

karlof1... that's Republican speak: they think everything is terrorism.

The reality is that biofuel is simply stupid. It won't last much longer. It doesn't displace petroleum, so it's not a net addition to our fuel supply.

I would make an exception for farm use bio-diesel. Bailing hay and harvesting cereal grains on large scale requires diesel equipment. There are also irrigation needs for bio-power. But once we reduce row cropping (corn), a lot of associated mechanized equipment won't be necessary. You don't see tractors havesting broccoli or tomatoes.

Anyway... don't call things terrorism. We just play into the hands of the fascists when we do that.

Anyway... don't call things terrorism.

How about 'think of the children' or calling 'em communists?


We just play into the hands of the fascists when we do that.
http://www.orwell.ru/library/articles/As_I_Please/english/efasc is dead...

degrade it to the level of a swearword.

Sobering to think most of the communist manifesto has been implemented in the US.

Seems one does need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

(and I would have edited the original for this via cryptogon:)

Law-enforcement agencies in Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas took part in what was described by local media as "an anti-crime and anti-terrorism initiative"


Your Orwell link seems to be in 'no-speak', it comes up as 'FORBIDDEN'

IMHO, too much is made of the ‘biofuels’ issue, I’m presenting a contrary opinion.

It is wasteful, stupid, and perhaps immoral (depending on one’s definition) to turn corn into ethanol - setting other such as sugar cane aside here. It should be banned. That said:

The idea that high grains prices and the attendant tortilla riots are due to food being diverted to fuel at present (future projections are just that) are wildly exaggerated, trivial, or incorrect. The interpretation make a good talking point, a snazzy, neat and moral argument against corn ethanol, it raises interesting questions, but also serves to obscure other facts.

The nitty gritty is rising price; prices that can’t be afforded by many food dependent countries and/or by poor families. Now I failed economy 101 because I never went to the exam, so my conception of the rising price is rather basic. First, the other rising prices, linked to peak oil of course, fertilizer, transport, processing, etc. Second, lowered stocks (correct) which have a huge psychological effect, induce a feeling of uncertainty or even urgency. The lowered stocks are not due to sinking production -it keeps rising afaik, for corn, or cereals altogether, many stats., factors, etc could be brought in, analyzed- but to rising demand, I prefer consumption. This is fueled by growing population, often ignored, change in dietary habits, with more cereals going to animal feed. Another fact, not tied to amount but to distribution, plays a role: food aid world-wide is at best stagnant in absolute terms, and sinking fast in per cap. terms. (See FAO alarmism.)

Then, third, the ‘market’ kicks in, and you get hoarding, protectionism, the halting of exports, speculation on commodities, all of which ‘disrupt’ the previous commercial arrangements and drive prices up, or at least never down.

To return to the corn to ethanol ex., the US is the biggest world producer (40% to 60% of world corn production - corn represents about a third of world grains) and exporter (actually only about 20 or 25% of its crop); it therefore holds the dominant position and fixes prices. The US didn’t export less corn in 06-07 or current or coming 07-08, in fact they were/are bumper years, production and export, as far as I can see? I don’t know how the exported corn is used, but in the US, only about 10% of it is eaten by ppl, as in corn meal, starch, corn flakes and sweet corn (sweet corn about 1% of production only), with some extra % for corn syrup/sweetener (found in coca-cola for ex.), the bulk of it, about 55% goes to animal feed, the rest to industry, glue, tires, and so on. Overall, corn to ethanol has not directly removed, today, edible, corn from human mouths.

Note. nos. very rough as they vary y on y, are %, i’m not an expert, etc. links only indicative:





Ray Kurzweil has an interesting opinion piece that talks in part about the relatively near term potential for solar (within 10 doublings, or 10 years in his view).

Ray Kurzweil: Expect exponential progress

The tipping point at which energy from solar panels will actually be less expensive than fossil fuels is only a few years away. The power we are generating from solar is doubling every two years; at that rate, it will be able to meet all energy needs within 20 years.

Nanotechnology itself is ... subject to what I call the "law of accelerating returns," a continual doubling of capability about every year. I'm confident that the day is close at hand when we will be able to obtain energy from sunlight using nanoengineered solar panels and store it for use on cloudy days in nanoengineered fuel cells for less than it costs to use environmentally damaging fossil fuels.

boy, with nanotechnology and the water powered car we should be fine.


Right on. Nanotechnology, I challenge anyone to provide evidence that nanotechnology is real. That's right real. I can't find a single instance that people who speak of nanotechnology are not actually talking about good old fashion wet chemistry from the 1800's. Mix, rinse and repeat. On occasion the bulk properties of the nanotechnolgy are interesting.

The point is that nanotechnology is nothing more than another buzzword for hope in technology without understanding the physical implications of that hope. Research needs to be advanced but men like Ray are dangerous in a sense that their claims have little foundation in reality and are grounded in hope and optimism.

There is zero, none, absolutely no reason that Moore's Law thinking should apply to small carbon tubes etc. Rant off.


Hope for a future with good whiskey.

To be fair to Kurzweil, my understanding is that even in silicon there are changes in the dominant physics as things shrink so there's little physical reason for Moore's Law in silicon either. Kurzweil claims a primary reason is feedback from technology to the intelligences (so far, us humans) designing new technologies. It's a great idea, but I really don't see much actual evidence of this in my computer science department, so I'm skeptical.

The big problem I have is that, from what I've read of Kurzweil's published materials, he bases a ubiquitous "law of accelerating returns" on a few fields where that has been what happened (at least so far) along with fitting exponential curves to initial data, ignoring the fact this is the most numerically uncertain thing to do. As an outsider who tries to read some stuff about nanotechnology, it does seem everyone is doing "back of the envelope calculations", plotting curves, etc, and few people are actually doing any detailed chemistry work of the kind Rob rightly talks about.

Ah yes, not to worry.

One direction for photovoltaics does involve nanotechnology, but that doesn't mean it will necessarily have the same growth characteristics as computer processing power. The big problem is those last few "doublings", which in this case requires near-doublings of capital investment and raw materials. With computer processing speed, there is a lot of room between wherever you are and infinity (OK, limited by electron mobility, or perhaps the speed of light, or maybe atomic dimensions). With photovoltaics, the efficiency limit is approached asymptotically, not exponentially, and the availability of materials to make the things is certainly not increasing exponentially.

In any case, computer technology flourished in an era of prosperity, and added to it. Will photovoltaics enjoy the same environment, given that all of its output will be directed towards replacing the diminishing returns from fossil fuels?

I don't think he's talking about efficiencies approaching 100%. A 10% efficient solar cell is just fine if you can make it very cheaply with little embodied energy.

Using the computer comparison, he is talking about getting the same output with less and less material, for a lower and lower cost. So it's really "halvings", not doublings. And constantly halving cost or embodied energy would not be asymptotic.

What's with "availability" to make things as an issue? Progress in solar involves thinner films, thinner wafers. The more advanced you get, the less material you need.

Yeah, that's what we really need - a virtually endless energy source even cheaper than fossil energy....Just where did I leave that spare set of wax wings, anyway?

cfm in Gray, ME - back to pruning the orchard - will burnt apples make coffee?

Well, we're going to summer prune this year to get the height of the trees down. Plus, I doubt that we're going to have much of a crop this year so the trees will have lots of left-over energy. It's been warm and everything is in full bloom but it was down to 25 last night and it's supposed to go down to 22 degrees the next few nights with a chance of snow.

Todd in Laytonville, CA

Ray Kurzweil is pretty much the patron saint of "technotopians". So I guess he would be criticised as a cornucopian. However, there really IS a cornucopia of endless abundant energy available to us - the sun. Sure, it will burn out in 4 billion years, but that's not exactly a pressing issue.

It seems quitely likely to me that in 20 years solar technology will have progressed to the point where it provides a cost-effective source of energy with good EROEI and practical storage options.I also expect PHEV to be cost-effective well before then. How fast we can built up a solar infrastructure and an EV fleet is another issue.

Personally, I expect a U-shaped disaster curve. Things will get very, very bad for most people, then they will get better. I expect hundreds of millions of people to starve post-peak as population growth runs into food shortages in the 3rd world. I expect hundreds of millions more to die of disease because famine tends to lead to pandemics. I expect a major global depression and a crisis of civil society in the USA, and I expect historians to look back and say it started prior to 2008.I expect that the USA and the UK will grow to resemble 3rd world countries in many ways.

But is this any worse than what we went through in the first half of the 20th century? Two world wars, a great depression, pandemics, famines, hundreds of millions dead. But we went on to computers, jet planes, heart transports, the Beatles, space flight.

I don't expect solar power and electric cars to be rolled out in time to prevent a whole load of evil shit from happening. But I do expect those solutions to be in place by 2030.

Does that make me a doomer-technotopian?

I hope Mr. Kurzweil is correct but I remain skeptical. In 1973 I remember predictions that photovoltaics would be cost competative with grid electricity within two years. All that was required was one more breakthrough with silicon based cells.

I am still waiting and I am less than hopeful that photovoltaics will be a significant contributor to replacing fossil fuels. Cost always seems to be one breakthrough ahead.

Concentrated solar power (heat engine and generator) is much closer to economic competitiveness with fossil fuels, and it doesn't need a big breakthrough to get there. It does, however, fit better with the big central power plant model than the personal generation for everyone.

If the reports of what the big solar plants that are being built in the Mojave desert will cost are accurate then it's already cheaper than natural gas.

I'm a fan of concentrated solar power, but realistically we'll probably have a mixture of a lots of things-- which provides energy diversification & that's not a bad thing.

I believe Kurzweil had companies like NanoSolar in mind when he mentioned "nanoengineered solar panels". Here's a recent (4/16) NanoSolar blog posting that talks about a middle ground approach they call "Municipal Solar Power Plants".

Municipal Solar Power Plants

At Nanosolar, we believe very much that meaningful scale for solar will come foremost from utility-scale solar power plants, in particular from municipal solar power plants of 2-10MW in size. These are rows of solar panels mounted onto the ground of free fields at the outskirts of towns and cities, feeding power directly into the municipal electricity grid.

A 2MW municipal solar power plant requires about 10 acres of land to serve a city of 1,000 homes — that’s acreage generally easily available at the outskirts of any city of such size in even the most developed countries. Similar for a 10MW plant for a city with 5,000 homes: This would require five such lots.

Adiabatic Compressed Air Energy Storage
There was a fine post over on the 'Energy Blog' where Cyril R, an occasional contributor here, was talking about adiabatic energy storage - I will not link as it is one of many comments in the thread and the individual comment can't be specified separately.
The technology of using compressed air for energy storage is already well established, but that entails using natural gas to re-heat the air when it is decompressed, and we haven't got NG to spare.
This technology if it can be developed might enable the fuller use of resources like wind and solar power and enable storage for peak use.
Presumably this is what Ausra are working on when they say that they think they can improve conventional CAES.
Cyril was commenting that it will probably come in at around the same cost as pumped hydro, and can be used in more places.
Here are some links for those curious to learn more:

Monbiot: We can provide all or most of our electricity from renewable sources | Gristmill: The environmental news blog | Gristhttp://www.energystoragecouncil.org/EESAT%202005%20presentation.pdf
Enis WindGen Home Page

Good to bear in mind that Kurzweil also believes his mind will soon be placed into an immortal robotic body.

Hi WaltC,

I'm afraid the tipping point at which energy from solar panels will be cheaper than fossil fuels will never occur. Unless a less energy intensive method for mfr.'g glass is developed. I worked in R&D (alas, a lowely technician) in both thin film PV and glass industries. The energy inputs are EEEEnormous for both. And heavily dependant on FF. Rediculous amount of Natural gas to melt the components of glass. In float glass mfr., the float medium is molten tin, and that alone requires 24hr/day heat to keep the tin perpetually molten. I toured the facility in my locale that made the panes we used in PV mfr. It's amazing the amount of heat being "lost", not even used to make the glass and keep the tin fluid. If my salary could equal what their utility expense is in just 6 months, well, it'd be a very merry Xmas for a long time to come. Then the fossil fuel inputs in mining the components of the glass and PV ingredients will never ever be overcome by efficiency or economy of scale. Just wiki-up glass and note what goes into glass. Even tho depletion of any of the components is negligible in several life times, the cost for extraction will go up and up, defeating any volume discount for increased manufacturing outputs in PV and glass.

Some of the physicists and chemists here would know to what degree is required, but the process for both PV and glass mfr. needs to be kept constant and stable for optimum integrity of finished product. IE., the temperature and viscosity for the molten glass has an ideal threshold which if crossed or not reached results in deficiencies that render the product unuseable. Scrap. Wasted energy. Therefore, sustainable energy is not an option in the above processes for a long long time, meaning never once the system we live within fails catastrophically because we came to our senses too late in the game to forestall the dificulties we now face. I could go on, but I think the point has been made.


Hello Slinky,

Excellent points--thxs! The Yahoo:Finance discussion board for First Solar [stock symbol: FSLR] is always having a raging debate on the total possible mining amount and price of Tellurium, which is critical for their specific PV mfg-process. Some say that First Solar will never be able to ramp up their production because this rare Element is their Liebig Minimum.

The process of processing Al had been done at sites with hydro for the 'cheap' hydro.

If one wanted to use Wind for the energy source, the last quote I got was 10 mil a mile to put in the power infrastructure.


All we hear these days is whining from reckless home borrowers and their banks.

But did you know that renters are 32 percent of American households? And that homes in foreclosure are less than 2 percent?

So why is Congress rushing to bailout high-flying borrowers and their lenders with our tax dollars?

Unfortunately, renters aren't as good at politics as the small minority of homeowners (and their bankers) who are in trouble. We don't have lobbyists in Washington, DC. We don't get a tax deduction for our rent and we don't get sweetheart government loans.

Quite simply, we are just Angry Renters. And now it is our time to be heard: no government bailouts!

Just a note to point out that Net Oil Exports for March 2008 are now 1,771,000 barrels per day below their peak of December 2006. That is a 4.1 percent drop in 15 months.

Ron Patterson

Not to worry. The magic solution will appear soon. Just stop ethanol production too and all will be fine. Sarcasm off.

Yes, ship even more money to the middle east. There is enough paper money available in the US. And if not, just print.

And our model, and recent case histories, show that net export decline rates tend to accelerate with time.

BTW, I was listening for a short while this morning to the local cornucopian radio, Ed Wallace's show in the Dallas area. Last week he quoted the Saudi Oil Minister as to why oil prices are way too high; this week he quoted the CEO of ExxonMobil.

It's only when you listen to one of the shows, and especially the callers, that you realize how out of the mainstream that the Peak Oilers are. The building sense of anger and denial regarding high oil and gasoline prices is almost becoming tangible.

The building sense of anger and denial regarding high oil and gasoline prices...

I worry this sentiment is going to backfire. Once the people who listen to this B.S. on wing-nut radio realize they've been played they are going to very unhappy. These a-holes have been talking trash on the air for 20 years. It hasn't gotten energy and industrial policy done.

It's only when you listen to one of the shows, and especially the callers, that you realize how out of the mainstream that the Peak Oilers are. The building sense of anger and denial regarding high oil and gasoline prices is almost becoming tangible.

I don't think the public will ever reach the acceptance stage, which at least to some extent, requires an environment of relative stability, hope, and predictability.

By the time anger and depression set in for most of the public, net export decline rates will be falling off a cliff, and the nation will be utterly bankrupt. The resulting problems will be painfully acute, with unpredictable food and gas shortages, mass unemployment, skyrocketing prices, sporadic violence, etc.

It hasn't been easy for most us to reach acceptance, even under what have been semi-optimal conditions. It's difficult to imagine people's anger and depression subsiding in an ever-worsening net export environment.

I have dealt with a less than optimum societal environment.

Best Hopes for Adaptability,


Indeed you have.

And while you were standing neck deep in the water were you comforted to know that Rush had your back on gay marriages, child molesters, abortionists, and the U.N. kleptocrats?

Rush never loses sight of what's important.

I have dealt with a less than optimum societal environment.

Alan, I was referring more to situations in which people lack easy and reliable access to affordable food on a consistent basis. Genuine hardship, like in Port-au-Prince or Gaza. People who actually live ever-deteriorating lives may have a tougher time reaching acceptance. This is different from having 'dealt' with such an environment, only to retreat to a 5-course squid dinner or a trip to D.C.

By the way, I enjoyed the post about your psychologist friend. It was good to hear about your friend dedicating her time and energy to those scars that are not so outwardly visible.

Hello Darwinian,

After reading Gail the Actuary's keypost on the EIA: I feel again the need to Thank You, Ace, Khebab, WebHubbleTelescope, Rembrandt, and all the other TOD data-freaks for your hard work. I am sure it is much appreciated by all TODers.

Too bad the TOD & ASPO data-freaks aren't the head statisticians and data analysts at the EIA, IEA, DOE, USGS, etc.

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

Low wage jobs will no longer cover the cost of the commute, cheap oil has subsidized employers paying low wages over the years. I have said often, if you can't pay decent wages, do the work yourself.


They are shutting down in advance of the proposed strike.

That’s a clever trick: Management pre-empting the threat of a strike by…striking…


Shutdown 'risks petrol shortages'

The Ineos facility is the only crude oil refinery in Scotland
Bosses at Scotland's only crude oil refinery have started a shutdown after claiming an impending strike will compromise safety. Ineos said the Grangemouth refinery could shut for "at least a month", and warned of major fuel shortages. About 1,200 members of the Unite union are to strike on 27 and 28 April in a dispute over pensions. Scottish ministers urged both sides to try to resolve the dispute, instead of "trading commentary" in the media. The Unite union said Ineos' proposed pension changes were "unreasonable". Ineos said in a statement that it had taken the decision to start shutting down the Grangemouth facility on safety grounds.

Just superb! My car is being fixed in a garage in kirkaldy and I live in Edinbrugh. I delivered the car to the garage with virtually no petrol in case they had to drain my tank! even if my car gets fixed soon I won't have enoguh petrol to get home if I can't get any at a local garage!!
Having a chuckle to myself over the wisdom of that decision!

On the plus side I am a keen cyclist.


Guess you should buy a 5 gallon jerry can, fill it, and take it with when you pick up your car. At least that way it will be safe at your home while you bicycle. What about food supply disruptions? Are the locals rushing out to buy?

Food: Not yet,

but where I live, most keep a healthy stock of provisions through the winter.

The 2000 fuel strike got a lot of people jumpy. And food dissapeared quickly. Thats 'just in time' delivery for you - only works when all else works

Jerry cans a good idea, though I think a household is limited in what it can store (about 5 gallons) by law in the UK. - Maybe 10 gallons

I think this is getting serious - Leanan's link above is to a Scottish web page from yesterday - as usual the local (Scottish) news has to say something.

But ... there is not a mention on the BBC (National news)! - if you search the BBC web site all you get is a previous strike when it was a BP refinery (and it was about pensions even then, so not much changes!)

It's ~200,000 barrels a day of Forties fuel, total UK consumption is ~1.8 million a day so the UK would be down around 11%. What percentage of UK does Scotland use?

There's a story at the BBC:

Shutdown 'risks petrol shortages'

And also the Times:

Chaos fears over strike at refinery

Well done Leanan, as usual your search skills come to the fore.

Your BBC link was just for Scotland, but now finally just after I carried out my search it's on the BBC UK front page as the lead article and your Sunday Times link is for tomorrow the 20th - I wonder if/when panic buying will set in?

Try 10 litres ... last strike I just ran my ratty old diesel off my heating oil tank for a few days.
50kg of rice and pasta and a cupboard of tins and things plus petrol stove, fuel and a rainwater kit will see you through any anticipated blips in food or energy supply.
I envy my dogs, they won't even notice. Unless things get really tight and I have to wrestle them for the meat'n'gravy kibbles.
I actually thought about digging a dirty great hole in my garden and filling it with coal - 4m across and 10m down would store 300+ tonnes or about 60 years worth. Only £60k :)
Seriously though I can run my house on coal if needed and it is stable to store and retrieve. Maybe not 300t but 1 or 2 might be sensible as a backup.

Paul Krugman thinks TOD might be onto something:

Right now, I’m feeling sympathetic to peak oil types. But are they the modern version of the Limits to Growth crowd? (I don’t think so — the peakers I read don’t suffer from the kind of uninformed intellectual arrogance that was behind the early-70s doomsaying.) Jim Hamilton and Jeff Frankel think it’s low real interest rates — but where are the big inventories?

His link for "peakers I read" points to TOD. Friends in high places.

He fails to understand that PO is just a manifestation of LTG.

Maybe Krugman (like many others) read about LTG without actually reading it.

More mainstreaming:

I don't know if anyone has already mentioned it, but Kevin Phillips' new book Bad Money includes a lot of serious, if somewhat agnostic, discussion of peak oil. Also a lot about financial BS and parallels between America's current situation and the decline of former great powers.

The story above "EU set to scrap biofuels target amid fears of food crisis" is a news theme that's becoming very prevalent. A Yahoo headline this week read "Food Costs Rising Fastest in 17 Years". The UN Secretary-General claimed "a rapidly escalating global food crisis has reached emergency proportions and threatens to wipe out seven years of progress in the fight against poverty". This food/inflation thing is all wrapped up in the oil thing because ethanol, right or wrong, will be aggressively pursued.

There are those who think that the recent commodities "craze" will go away of its own accord as most market crazes do, and that the food inflation scare will follow it into oblivion. They are wrong. As I've pointed out on other posts, there is a new commodities bull market just now getting cranked up as a result of the typical over/under capacity build cycle (about a 15-20 year cycle). But this cycle looks to be fueled by some big forces not present in previous cycles - the two biggies being peak oil and peak debt. Peak oil is driving food prices in a way not seen in previous cycles and peak debt is driving the financial/hard asset rotation in a way not seen in previous cycles.

If you look at the whole ethanol vs food thing, there is a big difference in what crops to blame. Not all crops should be smeared with the same brush. All ethanol is a food problem to some extent; but if we're bound and determined to make ethanol, let's all make it from sugar.

There is such a big difference between the problems with most feedstocks and sugar. Of course, there is the most important thing, net energy, where sugar based ethanol per the Brazilian model delivers an EROI of around 8 making it quite useful in replacing oil as opposed to the other feedstocks with EROI of 3 or less making them worthless in replacing oil. But let's take a look for a moment at another big and most important difference - market pricing of the feedstock.

We all know about the climb in corn prices, wheat, and all the rest. But would it surprise to know that what has comprised no less than 60% of global ethanol production is actually one of the biggest laggards in all of the commodity universe?

Food crops in general and sugar in particular are trailing the overall bull market, which seems to be led by oil. In this inflation adjusted view, it's clear commodities are not in a crazy bubble. The only thing in the above chart that could possibly be construed as anywhere near bubble status would be oil. And I think we can agree that oil is not a crazy bubble.

What we don't know about sugar could kill us, or at least starve to death billions. The fact is that there seems to be a vast difference between corn and sugar in their ability to absorb increases in production. Despite powering the lion's share of global ethanol production to 2% of total fuel supply so far, sugar is not only cheap, there is a glut of the stuff! Sugar inventories rose some 19% last year, and India, one of the big two in sugar paroduction along with Brazil, is mulling over changes in tax structure and other government meddling to channel more of the excess to ethanol to help with low sugar prices!

If you look at how the ramp up in ethanol has played out so far in the relative pricing of corn and sugar, you see this:

The triple in ethanol supply has roughly also tripled the corn price along with every food crop that is rotated with corn on the same land. But not so with the price of sugar. As the chart shows, there was a lot of anticipation in '05 that the coming ethanol boom would run sugar way up, but that hasn't been the case. But if oil keeps climbing, more sugar will be finding its way into our gas tanks. This is one reason why Jim Rogers, arguably the world's best commodity investor, said at the 2/28 CLSA investor's forum in Tokyo, "All of you should get all the sugar you can".

Not only is sugar's current ability to replace oil and to absorb production increases vastly superior to corn (or any other crop), sugar's future ability to do this looks to be much better as well. As Milton Maciel, author and former Secretary of Agriculture in Brazil has pointed out

To reach a point where all gasoline is replaced with ethanol would be very easy for Brazil and not so desirable for Petrobras, it's state-controlled major gasoline producer and exporter. The present sugar cane cultivated area, dedicated to ethanol production and permitting a 50% replacement of gasoline, is...less than 1% of our total arable land.

Sugar cane in Brazil is not irrigated, thus alleviating another major food/fuel problem, although India and other areas irrigate. Sugar crops also are less nutrient intense and cause less of a fertilizer problem.

The other major players in sugar production such as India have similar room to expand sugar ethanol. The area under sugar cane in India is around 2% with what has been described as "considerable scope for increasing the area". Compare this with the relatively maxed-out condition for corn, where China has around 25% of its arable land under corn and the U.S. has around 20% under corn with any expansion coming at the expense of soybeans and other food. Last year, China, the second largest corn grower behind the U.S., began a throttling down of its corn ethanol program to try to keep food prices in check.

If all the areas of the world capable of dialing up sugar crops after the high net energy/low cost Brazilian model were to wake up to peak oil the way Brazil's government did 30 years ago, you just might have a nice exchange between the poor nations and their sugar and the rich nations and their cars as I discussed here

High energy costs ensure high production costs for farmers. I read recently of a wheat farmer who said his production costs per bushel of wheat was $4.00 in 2007 and he expects it to be $7.75 in 2009. High commodity prices are here to stay or conventional agriculture will collapse.

One effect of higher input costs is that the stakes are higher (a lot more money invested upfront)if a crop fails due to weather or whatever.

Yesterday's Drumbeat had an article toward the end of the day about the US Ag Secretary's concerns about wheat. One paragraph was particularly interesting:

This has left the world at particular risk for a highly virulent wheat disease called African stem rust that is quickly spreading to places such as Uganda, Ethiopia, Yemen, India, Pakistan and Iran.

The most recent articles I've seen, just last week, mentions that the UG99 stem rust had spread to Iran. However, I haven't seen anything other than this article that mentions spreading to India and Pakistan except as speculation. I wonder if the Ag Secretary let something slip?

India to begin underground coal gasification project:

CIL inks coal-gasification pact with ONGC

The process was developed by the Skochinsky Institute of Mining in Moscow and previously tested in Australia by Linc Energy

"The UCG operation in Chinchilla is by far the largest and the longest ever in the Western world. The process displayed high efficiency and consistency in providing gas of stable quality and quantity, and the cost of the UCG gas produced proved to be comparable (on a per unit of energy basis) with the very low cost of thermal coal in the Australian market,", Golder Associates' environmental report, December 2005.

If, as the proponents claim, the process produces no subsidence or leakage, this could be huge. The undersea coalfields of the North Sea and north slope Alaska could be utilized to produce syngas and synthetic crude for many decades.

So now we have another source of CO2:-( Why are we rushing to destroy civilisation?

This week a report (link below) said that methane hydrates off the cost of Russia were starting to melt. The carbon content of the ice-and-methane mixture is estimated at 540 billion tons.


It was described as "a wake-up call for science", just how many wake-up calls do we need?

MEED article, which probably means it's behind a paywall unless you go in through Google News:

Soaring costs set to stall Aramco refinery

Saudi Aramco is likely to delay the development of one of two new refineries planned for Yanbu and Jubail, in the latest response to rising costs.

Costs on the Jubail complex have soared beyond $10bn, while the cost of Yanbu is understood to have doubled to $12-13bn.

Rather than develop both schemes in tandem, as was previously expected, senior industry sources expect Aramco to prioritise one of the facilities.

Man, who'd have thunk the Saudis would have to worry about the cost of oil infrastructure?

Maybe it's a cover for an embarrassing realization that they're not going to need the capacity. Also, refiners aren't making a lot of money just now, and are unlikely to, as long as crude production is steady or declining (which could be a very long time).

Although I agree in some respects to what Kunstler addresses with the end of suburbia, that many suburbanites will need to move closer to city centers to minimize transport expense, there remains the problem of agriculture and its heavy usage of oil by-products. My understanding from his book, 'The Long Emergency' was that those little towns that have dwindled to minimal populations will once again flourish as people start to farm on a small scale.

So which is it? Closer to cities or small town farming or both?

If Cuba is any example, their lack of oil from Russia forced them to farm on a small scale - rooftops, balcony's, kitchens, anywhere and everywhere and it worked. They barter for each other's vegetables and fruit. In fact, their diet improved greatly enough to have a significant positive effect on people's health. Lower heart failure rates and less obesity.

I'd like the idea of being in a small community sharing crops, rather than being stuffed side by side with millions of other people. Been there in SF and done that, and love the fresh air, lack of sirens and friendlier people the country has to offer.

I suspect the "improvement" in their diet was the drop in calories, not necessarily what they ate or how they produced it. Caloric restriction is good for you. When not carried to extremes, of course.

That sounds like a false choice, Leanan. It would seem more than plausible that both would be complementary parts of a Nutritional revolution. Caloric restriction may have (to modern Western ears) counterintuitive benefits, but surely the presence of abundant nutrients would be downright essential..

"Under the ‘classical model’ of agriculture, Cubans generally bought food at ration stores or food markets. According to Corselius, “the consumption of fresh vegetables was minimal and home gardening, for the most part, was non-existent” (Corselius para 3). This is probably due to the government’s banning of agricultural markets until 1993, when the expansion of the urban gardens became an important project to strengthen food security (Sinclair, Thompson 3)."

"By 1989, Cuba reached an adult literacy rate of 92.4%. In the same year, they had “the most scientists per head of population in Latin America, the most tractors per ha, the second highest grain yields, the greatest increase in per capita food production in the 1980’s, the highest number of doctors per head population and the highest secondary school enrolment” (Pretty Regenerating Agriculture 264). Cuba also had the highest increases in nutritional food consumption in Latin America (Perfecto 99). These remarkable achievements in social and health programs brought about one of the highest life expectancies and the lowest infant mortality rates in the South."

"Cuba’s Urban Garden Movement:
An Initiative to Strengthen
Urban Food Security"

Caloric restriction may have (to modern Western ears) counterintuitive benefits, but surely the presence of abundant nutrients would be downright essential..

I'm sure it doesn't hurt, but so far there's little real proof. As long as you're not suffering outright deficiencies. In fact, one thing that comes out of the calorie restriction studies is that if you eat very little, it doesn't matter what you eat. Fat, carbs, protein, it's all the same when you're underfed. That may be why the Asian diet of mostly rice appeared so healthy in studies. It's not that they eat rice, it's that they don't eat much.

Gary Taubes argues that the benefits of eating lots of fruits and vegetables may not lie in their nutrients, but in that they "crowd out" unhealthy foods (refined carbohydrates). That would explain why nutrient supplements have no effect, or even have a harmful effect. Some people try to argue that the synthetic versions of vitamins, etc., aren't as good for you as the "natural" versions, but that doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I suspect Taubes may be right. It's not what you're eating that matters, it's what you're not eating. Eating lots of veggies may crowd out bread and pasta from your diet, but swallowing pills will not.

Interesting data point was published last week. A long term health study found that women who ate more fruits and vegetables, etc., got less breast cancer. But there was a surprise: eating processed meats was also linked to less cancer. WTF? Isn't bacon, sausage, etc., supposed to be the worst thing for you? Apparently not. Maybe because they, too, crowd out the refined carbs that are the real problem.

There is surely a lot more to the idealised Asian diet than rice, while many places will have found themselves reduced to a single crop. I read that the Mongols learned how chinese peasants found a great deal of nutrition from fermented cabbage, and that the Westward bound invaders of Europe (Huns? or otherwise? 'Han' chinese?) thereby introduced Sauerkraut to Europe.. still a basic peasant-food, but extremely rich in vitamins and other nutrients, which has served farmers, armies and sailors ever since.

"Sauerkraut is similar to many ancient Northeastern Asian dishes, including Korean kimchi and other fermented vegetables. In Northeast China, people make a similar dish suancai, which also literally translates as, "sour vegetable". "

"Health benefits

Raw sauerkraut is an extremely healthy food. It is an excellent source of vitamin C, the probiotics of lactobacilli (even more than yoghurt), and other nutrients. However, the low pH and abundance of healthful lactobacilli may upset the stomach of people who are not used to eating probiotic foods. (In such cases, it is advisable to eat small amounts daily until the person's digestive system adjusts). Sauerkraut provided a vital source for these nutrients during the winter, especially before frozen foods and importation of foods from Southern countries became generally available in northern and central Europe. Captain James Cook always took a store of sauerkraut on his sea voyages, since experience had taught him that it was an effective preventative of scurvy. It is now known that the preservation of sauerkraut in an anaerobic environment (in the brine) keeps the vitamin C in it from being oxidized. There is some evidence[4] that indicates that kimchi, and by extension, sauerkraut may be used to treat avian influenza in birds. Currently, there is no evidence of its effect on human cases.

Sauerkraut also is a source of biogenic amines such as tyramine, which in sensitive people, may cause adverse reactions.[5][6] It also provides various cancer fighting compounds including ITC and sulphoraphane.[7] " (Some health risks are also mentioned on this wiki post..)

But as I hope I implied before, I don't at all doubt that fasting, deprivation and scarcity have benefits and probably trigger essential biological mechanisms that modern 'perennially well-fed' people have never gotten to utilize.


In Korea it's called kimchi. Fermented veggies also appear to have some anti-viral properties.

Rice, tofu and kimchi may be how we survive the perfect storm here on the peninsula.


There has been some interesting research done on the benefits of fermented foods. It's not just Asian, either. Cheese, yogurt, beer - fermented foods used to be eaten world-wide. Here in the US, we often pasteurize or otherwise sterilize our foods so the live organisms are killed (or use weird chemical reactions that don't involve live organisms).

However, there may be dangers as well. Japan has high rates of stomach cancer, and it may be because of the salt and vinegar in the pickled vegetables and fermented products eaten there.

However, there may be dangers as well. Japan has high rates of stomach cancer, and it may be because of the salt and vinegar in the pickled vegetables and fermented products eaten there.

Just another reason not to eat nato.

Leanan, this comment is absolute genius and I urge everyone to read it very carefully. Modern nutrition is basically pseudoscience, given that studies are often interpreted through a dubious paradigm ('Grains good, meat bad! Ugggh!). The research needs to be looked at from the right point of view to make any sense. And of course it usually isn't.

Well done.

Modern nutrition is all over the map, as are human diets. As I mentioned this thread to my wife, she remarked on the Masai, who basically subsist on Blood and Milk (as she related it to me). There are many cultures that don't eat vegetables or fruit to any great degree, like the Lapps in northern Sweden, or the Inuit.

Science can get severely skewed when placed in the service of economics, politics, religion or other ideologies.. and it can also be truly enlightening. I posted the Sauerkraut wiki article as part of my quest to find some supporting anthropology that is independent of the Weston Price approach to food, which looked to established cultures around the world that had not 'modernized' their food supply, and exhibited signs of health that Western society seems to have lost, lack of most cancers and degenerative diseases, full bone development, and undeteriorated Dental health, among other things. http://www.westonaprice.org/splash_2.htm
We have been applying many of their premises to our diet over the last year, and I am trying to pull apart and understand the discrepancies in this approach with all the other views. With any luck, we're going forward, not back.


(Their take is generally very pro Animal-based foods and fats (Butter, Lard), most grains and nuts that are used get soaked in whey or yoghurt or salt solutions to help break down the Phytic acid level, which allegedly demands our digestion to provide excess calcium and other potassium(?) in the process, thereby robbing bones and teeth from those essential minerals. Vegetable oils aside from Olive and other saturated fats like Palm and Coconut are considered unhealthy as the extraction and process heating leaves them highly prone to rancidification. etc..)

In places where you CAN farm, yes. I watched too much of a sappy movie called "All Because Of Winn-Dixie" because of the luscious land and countryside shown in it, it's supposed to take place in some Southern US town, and not in the horrible Southwest where I live now.

I noticed today that www.fuelgaugereport.com reported a gasoline price rise of 2.9 cents but an E85 price rise of 3.7 cents just from yesterday. That got me wondering about the economies of E85 verses that of regular. Since the government subsidies E85 by a fixed amount per gallon (53 cents?), that subsidy will relatively diminish as the price of all inputs increases. So, as the inputs of all fuels rise (oil, fertilizer, pumped water, tracker fuel, etc), gasoline will become an even better deal for consumers relative to E85. Given that E85 is already a bad deal for consumers and that deal is getting worse all the time, will the government need to come out with even more pork-barrel spending for E85 or just give up on it?

The Law of diminishing returns kicks here and there... as you point out, a fixed subsidy becomes increasingly irrelevant in an inflating economy. That is why gov't employees and retirees and SS recipients receive COLAs instead of fixed increases (and yes, the COLAs are under-estimated....)

To reach its loft goals of ethanol usage, the US gov't may have to switch the ethanol blenders' subsidy from a fixed amount to an adjustable one, probably changing quarterly based on the previous quarter's average oil price.

The is way to much like the movie "The Day After Tomorrow"

Hail Storm Hit Kuwait - April 11 2008

Check this out - a multi-level bicycle parking facility in Japan:


Audio is all in Japanese, but from the video you get a clear idea as to how it is supposed to work. The bicycles are all protected from the elements, protected from theft. The automated thing can retrieve a bicycle in 23 seconds..

Someone on bikeforums.net translated a bit, and came up with:

It's more of a solution to overcrowded parking lots, but basically what's said.
"Can store 9400 bikes at that station."
"one unit can store 180 bikes, and 36 of them are in place." + regular level parking
"each unit is appx. 7m wide and 15m deep"
"parking cost is $1 for one day, or $18 per month"

In some ways, it does seem like high-tech overkill, but one huge problem for bicycle commuters is the issue of theft. These days you can get battery powered angle grinders , and they will cut through even the best bicycle locks in no time. And even if they don't take the bicycle itself, you worry that someone might steal your headlights, or your seat, or something else. It is a hassle to remove all of this stuff from the bike each time you park it, of course. In my case, when I commute to work by bicycle, I take the bike into the building and park it next to my desk - so far nobody has complained. The UPS guy is wheeling hand trucks up and down the hall, so it isn't like what I am doing is going to cause any wear that isn't already happening.

Hello TODers,

As most know: I am vitally concerned with the ramp rate of O-NPK recycling to offset I-NPK price increases/shortages. Regarding the building of pedaling garbage vehicles [see yesterday's DB], I consider this to be a good jumpstart, and hope it quickly spreads internationally.

For any NPK newbies [yes, optimal postPeak energy-efficient topsoil management with I-NPK, O-NPK, and crop rotation is an extremely complex subject]:

[195 page PDF Warning]
...Minera1 fertilizer accounts for nearly 70% of the total commercial energy used in agriculture, with the production of nitrogen fertilizer consuming approximately 90% of that energy (Stout, 1990). Ammonia, which is used to produce inorganic nitrogen fertilizer, is synthesized by using the Haber-Bosch process.

...Not only does nitrogen fertilizer use consume great amounts of fossil fuel energy, but it is quite inefficient in doing so. Studies have shown that approximately 50% of nitrogen that is applied as fertilizer is lost through denitrification, volatilization, or leaching below the root zone (Karlen et al. 1996; Tran and Girow, 19%).

It requires approximately 18.5 Mcal of fossil energy to produce one kg of fertilizer nitrogen and even though there is unlimited amounts of this element in the air, this is more than 6 times the energy required to produce either phosphate or potassium fertilizers (Da Silva et al., 1978).
Please take the time to wander through the plant nursery and fertilizer section of your local Home Depot, Lowes, Wal-mart, etc, to examine the tremendous varieties and prices of I-NPK [Miracle-Gro, DAP, MAP, sulphates, etc] and O-NPK [manures, mulches, guanos, etc].

Consider just how much pure, non-substitutable Elemental-energy you are really looking at when holding a container or bag. Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

I think we will be making significant progress against denial when most 'Murkans consider it to be a terrible waste of O-NPK when they find bird poop on their 'ICE chrome penis'.

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

I recall a year ago you started giving info on the future NPK shortages. Yesterday I saw stock rpice for POTASH, the Canadian potash refiner/distributor reached $205. One year ago it was $60, a 250% increase in price per share. This even beats Google one year rise I think.

Seems to me that soon companies may be interested in the millions of tons of NPK that people flush down toilets each year. Maybe pay people for their waste?

Will heavy sour be cheaper?

Hello Mbnewtrain,

Thxs for responding. Who knows? Maybe the opposite--when potable water is rare and expensive, if a citizen in a dense urban cluster doesn't carefully collect and keep separate his/her urine, feces, and kitchen scrap wastes for proper municipal recycling--maybe they don't eat?

Hello TODers,

Glad to see the ship left Durban, SA. Hopefully, it won't be allowed to unload anywhere in Africa, but will be forced to return to China. My hope is the weaponry can be exchanged for wheelbarrows & bicycles:

Dock workers at the port, backed by South Africa’s powerful unions, refused to unload the ammunition and weapons on Friday, vowing protests and threatening violence if the government tried to do it without them.

Meanwhile, the Anglican archbishop of the province appealed to South Africa’s High Court to bar transporting the arms across South Africa, arguing that they were likely to be used to repress Zimbabweans. The court agreed, and by late Friday the ship had pulled up anchor and set sail.

...According to Ms. Fritz, the last radio transmission the authorities heard from the ship was this: “Next port, Maputo,” referring to the capital of Mozambique.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Latest update:

Chinese troops are on the streets of Zimbabwean city, witnesses say
Not sure what to make of this, but you got to admit it is a pretty clever surprise if China is going for a land grab. I thought when the postPeak time arrived when Britain/Europe was severely energy-stressed: they would be the ones, not China, to seize Zimbabwe/Zambia, then turn it back into a New Rhodesia.

Maybe China wants to control Zimbabwe to later trade/force the US and its allies to give them Taiwan without either side firing a shot? AFAIK, the Chinese don't have a sufficiently advanced bluewater navy to control the sealanes from China to Zimbabwe.

The New Colonial Masters

...As for Mr Mugabe, he marked Zimbabwean Independence Day yesterday by complaining of neo-colonialism and how Britain wants to retake control of Zimbabwe. He and other African leaders should think more carefully. There is a danger of their countries becoming a victim of a re-colonisation. But the threat is not from the West. It comes from the East.
If I may feebly geo-strategize:

In the final postPeak analysis: topsoil trumps FFs [food beats electricity hands down!], and FFs are projected to deplete faster than mined potash and phosphates. Besides, you can always hand mine deep underground in Saskatchewan, or Belarus, or in the Urals for Potash, or in the blazing sunlight of Morocco for phosphate.

China, if actually seeking control of Zim, is therefore grabbing the 'breadbasket' of Africa; the best natural topsoil on the African continent. IMO, if any country could turn Zim around back into a postPeak food exporter--it would be China with their centuries of O-NPK recycling traditions and the secret weapon of wheelbarrows. They understand the postPeak human leverage potential of fully utilized rickshaws, bicycles, wheelbarrows, and maybe SpiderWebRiding too.

Contrast with Pres. Shrub's sad strategy: we are burning vast amounts of energy, other resources, and human lives with no net energy gain that could be used to grow NPK stockpiles to later grow food.

Where would you want to grow crops if you had no other choice? Iraqi sand dunes?..... or rich forests and grasslands fertilized by huge elephants, rhinos, giraffes, and Cape buffalo?

I can not imagine that the CHICONS could hold Zimbabwe as a colony, or even as some sort mercenary force in the service of ZANU-PF.

Such a scenario could very well be just what would cause the MDC to start up a gorilla movement.

Hello Umass82,

Thxs for responding with good points--time will tell. There is a LATOC forum discussion thread going apesh*t weighing all the pros & cons of this news. BTW, I think you meant 'guerrilla movement' as the 'gorillas' are most likely to be-headed for a sad extinction as bushmeat.

This is balls. China has enough trouble holding a weak neighbour like Tibet, which can (when the time is right, and photogenic enough, and with enough Western saps considering the Dalai Lama to be genuinely holy instead of merely a first-rank politician like the Pope) kill its citizens with near impunity.

As for Taiwan, I'm sure they can take care of themselves, but (wisely) they see no profit in a hard fight for no real reason. (They are, after all, independent in practice).

No-one has a sufficiently good bluewater navy to control any sealanes to Zimbabwe. Zim is landlocked.

Hello TODers,

IMO, it is just another signpost of growing Peak Everything awareness when even a small town newspaper in Nevada is now writing about sulphur:

Sulfuric acid. Wasn’t that something we learned about in high school science class? Nowadays, there is a shortage of it, a shortage that may affect your family’s budget.

So what has this to do with you? More than you might imagine. Sulfuric acid is used in powering auto batteries, making fertilizer and paper and purifying water, as in all that bottled water Americans consume.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Geeze Toto, I was sitting there hustling caricatures today, and a dad and two kids (sons) came and sat down next to me, one was intently counting pennies he spread out on the table - he had 70 of them. To buy a bottle of water. I told them that if they just walked into the St. Michael right there, and asked nicely, they'd get the nicest glass of water in town, with a twist of lemon, for free! One each for all three of them! (I know this because I've done it a few times myself.)

I talked with the Dad .... nice guy. Worked for years out here detailing cars, never made more than $10 an hour. Not a dummy just an average American.

Bottled water..... %$@$% don't get me started....

Hello TODers,

China cleaning their air by sulphur scrubbing is obviously good, and their market-traders panic-buying of sulphur earlier must have shocked the Chinese topdogs. I wonder if this rush is also concerned with having a strategic sulphur reserve to match their buildup of a Chinese SPR.

You know, just in case their sulphur imports are cutoff or become priced at Unobtainium levels. It's difficult to make activated Phosphate fertilizer without sulphuric acid.

Plants given sulfur deadline
Recall my earlier link on the thirteen-fold Vancouver port price increase in a year, and the analyst's call for a further substantial price jump.

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

"There is little to stop prices heading still higher".

At 117 buckaroos a barrel, if prices continue to rise, by this time next year there's going to be mayhem breaking out in 3rd world countries over the parallel rising cost of food. Sure, I know there's already been some unrest, but I mean outright full blown chaos! Meanwhile many 3rd world farmers are already changing their crops to grow palm oil to convert to fuel because it pays more, so the effect of that will be even less food at even higher prices.

If those bragging Saudi's really have the excess oil they claim, then open the spickets now and let's bring down those prices for all concerned.

Here's your response to that from OPEC president Chakib Khelil:

OPEC Doesn't Need to Raise Oil Output, Ministers Say

``Any increase in production now will not have an impact on prices because there is a balance between supply and demand,'' Khelil said during a visit to the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Kuwait's state news agency reported today. ``We in OPEC raised production last year and prices remained high. If we increase production we will not find people to buy the increment.''

If you read further in this article, there appears to be a three day "energy forum" in Rome starting today. Here's a blip about it:

Al-Naimi and el-Badri are among more than 40 company chiefs and 90 energy ministers attending the energy forum in Rome, which started today. Industry leaders will discuss investment, resource nationalism and sustainable development as rising energy costs push some consumers, such as airlines, to bankruptcy.

And the last paragraph is quite telling.

``For years we've been saying the era of cheap oil is over,'' Shokri Ghanem, chairman of Libya's National Oil Corp., said yesterday in Rome. ``None of us thought it would reach $115 a barrel so quickly, so it could reach $120'' this week, he said.

ATTN: Heads up for AlanfromBigEasy!

Hey Alan,

I would imagine the attending MSM in Nawlins will be huge--try to hand out your business cards to the Press, and get a positive plug done for your RR & mass-transit ideas. Don't forget to ask them to read TOD, EB, and ASPO.

Then later: Buy a few yeasty rounds for the MSM-Boyz on Bourbon Street, then show them how to do a proper half-glass Peakoil Shoutout!

White House defends NAFTA: 'There's nothing broken'

The White House on Friday vigorously defended the 14-year-old free-trade agreement among the United States, Mexico and Canada against sharp criticism from Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.

NAFTA will be a major topic when President Bush joins Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon in New Orleans on Monday and Tuesday for his fourth and final North American Leaders' Summit.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Some interesting stories published over at Bloomberg's this morning:

Shell, Exxon Face Higher Oil Production Costs on Carbon Limits


A Canadian mandate to bury carbon dioxide when producing the oil may add between $2 and $13 a barrel to the cost of production, according to Pembina, an Alberta-based environmental group. Mining crude from the area now costs around $60 a barrel.

The additional costs are likely to feed through to consumers, leading to higher energy bills and contributing to inflation.

OPEC Doesn't Need to Raise Oil Output, Ministers Say


Oil Majors Must Rethink Business to Survive, Eni Says


A new supply agreement this month between Qatar and China ``is a diversion'' from Europe and the U.S., ``not new production,'' Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah told yesterday in Rome. ``We are not in the charity business. Whoever will give me the best price, I will follow him.''

The wife has just returned from the ITM Travel Industry conference in Dublin ... it's the annual gathering of the great nad good in the travel industry from hotels to airlines. Everyone is there and a slew of high profile guest speakers and industry experts present lectures and
discussions on the year coming and how it affects travel and hospitality.


Even that 'futurologist' bloke from BT, Ian Pearson, spoke.

BUT ... not a single SINGLE mention of energy costs as a challenge. nothing. I was stunned. The thing is it is an elephant in the room that could trample everyone to death and no-one wants to admit their entire business model is built on sand.

The travel industry is just run by clueless people. If ITM is the usual travel industry bash they will have burnt countless tons of FF travelling from every corner of the globe and spent most of the time posing for pictures with glasses in hand pissed.

In December I gave a presentation to a 'Sustainable Travel' workshop in London on Peak Oil. For the few that had bothered to remain for the afternoon not one could understand the concept. Clueless does not even give it justice.

The writing is truly on the wall for the whole 'industry'. If oil maintains the $105-$110 range during the summer October will be the line in the sand for northern hemisphere airlines, expect the biggest shakedown in the history of avaiation.

On a side note according to the Malta Independent Ryanair are looking at grounding 20 aircraft this winter already. This is a total shift in the airline industry when its cheaper to ground than fly, expect this to be only the begining.


The travel industry is just run by clueless people. If ITM is the usual travel industry bash they will have burnt countless tons of FF travelling from every corner of the globe and spent most of the time posing for pictures with glasses in hand pissed.

In December I gave a presentation to a 'Sustainable Travel' workshop in London on Peak Oil. For the few that had bothered to remain for the afternoon not one could understand the concept. Clueless does not even give it justice.

The writing is truly on the wall for the whole 'industry'. If oil maintains the $105-$110 range during the summer October will be the line in the sand for northern hemisphere airlines, expect the biggest shakedown in the history of avaiation.

On a side note according to the Malta Independent Ryanair are looking at grounding 20 aircraft this winter already. This is a total shift in the airline industry when its cheaper to ground than fly, expect this to be only the begining.


The travel industry is just run by clueless people. If ITM is the usual travel industry bash they will have burnt countless tons of FF travelling from every corner of the globe and spent most of the time posing for pictures with glasses in hand pissed.

In December I gave a presentation to a 'Sustainable Travel' workshop in London on Peak Oil. For the few that had bothered to remain for the afternoon not one could understand the concept. Clueless does not even give it justice.

The writing is truly on the wall for the whole 'industry'. If oil maintains the $105-$110 range during the summer October will be the line in the sand for northern hemisphere airlines, expect the biggest shakedown in the history of avaiation.

On a side note according to the Malta Independent Ryanair are looking at grounding 20 aircraft this winter already. This is a total shift in the airline industry when its cheaper to ground than fly, expect this to be only the begining.


The travel industry is just run by clueless people. If ITM is the usual travel industry bash they will have burnt countless tons of FF travelling from every corner of the globe and spent most of the time posing for pictures with glasses in hand pissed.

In December I gave a presentation to a 'Sustainable Travel' workshop in London on Peak Oil. For the few that had bothered to remain for the afternoon not one could understand the concept. Clueless does not even give it justice.

The writing is truly on the wall for the whole 'industry'. If oil maintains the $105-$110 range during the summer October will be the line in the sand for northern hemisphere airlines, expect the biggest shakedown in the history of avaiation.

On a side note according to the Malta Independent Ryanair are looking at grounding 20 aircraft this winter already. This is a total shift in the airline industry when its cheaper to ground than fly, expect this to be only the begining.


The travel industry is just run by clueless people. If ITM is the usual travel industry bash they will have burnt countless tons of FF travelling from every corner of the globe and spent most of the time posing for pictures with glasses in hand pissed.

In December I gave a presentation to a 'Sustainable Travel' workshop in London on Peak Oil. For the few that had bothered to remain for the afternoon not one could understand the concept. Clueless does not even give it justice.

The writing is truly on the wall for the whole 'industry'. If oil maintains the $105-$110 range during the summer October will be the line in the sand for northern hemisphere airlines, expect the biggest shakedown in the history of avaiation.

On a side note according to the Malta Independent Ryanair are looking at grounding 20 aircraft this winter already. This is a total shift in the airline industry when its cheaper to ground than fly, expect this to be only the begining.


The travel industry is just run by clueless people. If ITM is the usual travel industry bash they will have burnt countless tons of FF travelling from every corner of the globe and spent most of the time posing for pictures with glasses in hand pissed.

In December I gave a presentation to a 'Sustainable Travel' workshop in London on Peak Oil. For the few that had bothered to remain for the afternoon not one could understand the concept. Clueless does not even give it justice.

The writing is truly on the wall for the whole 'industry'. If oil maintains the $105-$110 range during the summer October will be the line in the sand for northern hemisphere airlines, expect the biggest shakedown in the history of avaiation.

On a side note according to the Malta Independent Ryanair are looking at grounding 20 aircraft this winter already. This is a total shift in the airline industry when its cheaper to ground than fly, expect this to be only the begining.


The travel industry is just run by clueless people. If ITM is the usual travel industry bash they will have burnt countless tons of FF travelling from every corner of the globe and spent most of the time posing for pictures with glasses in hand pissed.

In December I gave a presentation to a 'Sustainable Travel' workshop in London on Peak Oil. For the few that had bothered to remain for the afternoon not one could understand the concept. Clueless does not even give it justice.

The writing is truly on the wall for the whole 'industry'. If oil maintains the $105-$110 range during the summer October will be the line in the sand for northern hemisphere airlines, expect the biggest shakedown in the history of avaiation.

On a side note according to the Malta Independent Ryanair are looking at grounding 20 aircraft this winter already. This is a total shift in the airline industry when its cheaper to ground than fly, expect this to be only the begining.


Whatever happened with the idea to work from home ?? The technology is here now and that certainly would reduce the use of vehicles !!

Does anybody have more data on this, than myself, a humble geologist.

This generally works better if your home is in India. If your job can be done from a distance, it can be done cheaper by someone else. Of course, once an American is unemployed, he will use less gas.