DrumBeat: April 20, 2008

Michael Pollan: Why Bother?

Why bother? That really is the big question facing us as individuals hoping to do something about climate change, and it’s not an easy one to answer. I don’t know about you, but for me the most upsetting moment in “An Inconvenient Truth” came long after Al Gore scared the hell out of me, constructing an utterly convincing case that the very survival of life on earth as we know it is threatened by climate change. No, the really dark moment came during the closing credits, when we are asked to . . . change our light bulbs. That’s when it got really depressing. The immense disproportion between the magnitude of the problem Gore had described and the puniness of what he was asking us to do about it was enough to sink your heart.

Sticker Shock in the Organic Aisles

Organic prices are rising for many of the same reasons affecting conventional food prices: higher fuel costs, rising demand and a tight supply of the grains needed for animal feed and bakery items. In fact, demand for organic wheat, soybeans and corn is so great that farmers are receiving unheard-of prices.

But people who have to buy organic grain, from bakers and pasta makers to chicken and dairy farmers, say they are struggling to maintain profit margins, even though shoppers are paying more. The price of organic animal feed is so high that some dairy farmers have abandoned organic farming methods and others are pushing retailers to raise prices more aggressively. Several organic manufacturers worry that sales may slow as consumers cut back.

Food (and fuel) for thought

Fertilizer production is second only to petroleum refining when it comes to industrial use of natural gas in the United States: 97 percent of the fertilizer applied to crops is manufactured from natural gas. With spiking energy costs, fertilizer manufacturers are opting to close their doors and instead sell their natural gas supplies. Fertilizer prices are climbing as a result.

Oil hits record $117 a barrel

According to analysts, the refiners in America are trying to create an artificial shortage of gasoline and other distillates. Gasoline supplies have declined over the past five weeks to the lowest since January as refiners cut their processing rates.

Growing world needs every form of energy-Shell

Netherlands - ROME (Reuters) - The world will need every form of energy available -- from coal to biofuels -- to keep pace with a booming population, the chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell said on Sunday.

Jeroen van der Veer also said record oil prices, which hit $117 a barrel on Friday, had yet to curb the thirst for fuel.

"... Despite high prices, demand is not dropping, there is only slower growth. Easy oil and easy gas cannot supply all that surge in demand," he told reporters on the sidelines of the International Energy Forum.

Businesses in Bay Area May Pay Fee for Emissions

SAN FRANCISCO — Air quality regulators in the San Francisco Bay Area appear set to begin charging hundreds of businesses in the region for their emissions of heat-trapping gases.

It is believed to be the first time in the country that any government body would charge industries directly for emissions that contribute to climate change. The regional agency that is considering the fee, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, would be effectively leapfrogging the continuing debate in Sacramento and Washington over how to control emissions.

Plant may avoid emissions curbs

Of the fuels commonly used to run power plants, none releases more of the global-warming gas than coal. In the Southeast, coal produces more electricity than any other fuel.

In the past several years, power companies have pushed to build more than 150 coal-fired plants. But with Congress poised to restrict carbon-dioxide emissions and a trend toward greater environmental concern, some analysts say the boom may be fizzling.

Now’s time to cut back

It’s high time to go on strike. I’m not talking about some union local or a guild out in California. I mean a comprehensive and all-inclusive national strike.

And a week on the picket lines won’t do. This might take a while, and it might require a long-term change in lifestyle. But it does not involve staying home from work, or anything that will hurt household finances or the economy. In fact it will increase disposable income and help our nation’s economic health.

I’m talking about an energy-consumption strike, a flat-out commitment to substantially decrease use of every kind of energy that we, as a nation, have come to waste, so blatantly.


In poor countries around the world, there’s money being made by cutting down forests. Should these countries be paid not to cut down their forests? Such a curious transfer of wealth may represent the next twist in the politics of climate change.

World Oil Production: Continued Stress

As an engine of economic growth, the availability of oil is seen as a strategic necessity and has been highly politicized on a global basis. Governments compete for limited energy resources to drive their economies. This raises the question as to whether future supplies will be sufficient to meet what seems to be insatiable demand. The concerns have reached epic proportions as an increasingly tight energy supply situation has raised prices for these products, which are competing for consumer’s disposable income. By raising input costs not only for heating and transportation but also across the commodity spectrum, capital flows and trade the world over are affected.

Many pundits believe that we have reached peak production of oil. Basically, wells are being depleted faster than new reserves of oil are being found. These fears have been amplified by the difficulty many oil companies are having maintaining recoverable reserves. Large oil fields such as those in Mexico and in the Alaskan North Slope are in decline and nearing depletion. New finds have been increasingly difficult to come by.

In Mexico, a tempest in an oil barrel

MEXICO CITY — Leftist politicians have shut down Congress, staged hunger strikes and rallied tens of thousands in the streets to fight what they call the "privatization" of the state-owned oil company, Petróleos Mexicanos.

All that in just nearly two weeks since Mexican President Felipe Calderon unveiled his oil reform proposal.

But the protesters might be wasting their time.

Under the tepid provisions of the bill, few private companies are likely to scramble for a piece of the Pemex pie, industry executives and analysts say.

Mexico's Unfinished Reform

THOUGH YOU wouldn't know it from listening to the Democratic presidential candidates, Mexico's biggest economic problem is not the North American Free Trade Agreement but its failure to open its economy even more widely to investment and trade. The single largest obstacle to Mexican growth is the country's state oil monopoly, Petróleos Mexicanos, or Pemex. Created in 1938, the company has become synonymous with inefficiency and corruption; though it supplies 40 percent of Mexico's government revenue, its production has declined 10 percent in the last three years, largely because it lacks the capital or expertise to tap offshore oil reserves.

The Global Inflation Wave and OPEC's Role

A few points need to be pointed out before discussing the issue at hand. First, the global wave of inflation affecting commodities and the current global economic crisis have nothing to do with oil prices. The fact is that the causes behind the rising prices of foods include result from many factors; the rising standard of living standards in major Asian countries such as China; the commercial production of bio-fuel in the United States which has diminished the area of agricultural plots dedicated for growing wheat and barley, and hence the shortage in the supplies of wheat available for bread and pastas; the rise in international prices despite the expansion of areas dedicated for the growth of corn since huge amounts of the produce have been allocated for the production of bio-fuel rather than as animal feed, and this in turn has led to a decline in the volume of meat supplies in the market and to price increases.

Terminal first in nation

The nation's first new onshore terminal for liquefied natural gas in nearly 30 years received its inaugural world shipment last week in Cameron Parish.

Situated on the Sabine-Neches Waterway in the city of Cameron, the new Sabine Pass LNG Terminal will be the largest in the world because of its regasification capacity, and each day could send out the equivalent of 5 percent of total U.S. natural gas consumption, or more gas than all of Louisiana consumes in one day.

Is Hyperion worth it?

"It's just going to create a horrendous amount of traffic,'' Cody said of the proposed oil refinery and power plant, envisioned for a rural Union County site less than a 10-minute drive from his Main Street location. "Whether it'll be good or bad, I'll let you know after I see it and after I get through it."

All Atmospherics, No Climate

When they finally got around to the issues, they were the same ones that we’ve heard before: Who would best deal with an economy hobbled by predatory banks giving mortgages to anyone who could sign their names? How can we most quickly exit the Iraq debacle? Who would offer more tax relief for the not-so-poor while imposing the fewest new taxes on the not-so-wealthy?

Worthy issues all. But one was missing: the environment.

Going climate neutral

Faced with this challenge, we are beginning to hear the catch phrase “going climate neutral.” HSBC claims to have done it. The University at Buffalo is promising to do it as a result of signing the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. Professional architects are aiming at it with Architecture 2030, a program calling for all new buildings to be climate neutral by 2030. Environmentally aware individuals or families can do it, too. Here’s how to achieve a climate neutral lifestyle.

Is this the end for cheap airline fares?

The changes hit home last month for Chicago technology executive Ian Drury, who saw the price of a ticket to India that he had planned to purchase jump $1,500, overnight.

"It's definitely a much tougher world for the business traveler as a result of increasing fuel costs," Drury said.

The Big Thirst

Oil prices rose above $116 a barrel last week, setting another record for the world’s most indispensable energy commodity. What was striking about this latest milestone was what didn’t happen: there was no shortage of oil, no sudden embargo, no exporter turning off its spigot.

...“This is the market signaling there is a problem,” said Jan Stuart, global oil economist at UBS, “that there is a growing difficulty to meet demand with new supplies.”

Review: Reinventing Collapse by Dmitry Orlov

...Orlov points out that because we are so identified with owning a car as part of this American middle class identity we will be hard put to let it go. And when we are forced to (due to diminishing and increasingly expensive gasoline supplies) so will go the myth of the middle class. In turn he explains how the Russians lost faith in the classless worker's paradise because they could clearly see that there was an elite strutting around in cool Armani threads. Meanwhile the lack of consumer goods and trendy fashions meant that a good life for all never became a reality.

And because our ideologically indoctrinated minds are so closed to such deep seated change and so invested in our "can do" innovation, we will, like Napoleon, be unable to retreat from the overextended, oil fueled, debt based economy which is poised to come crashing down, financed as it is by foreign investment that will eventually decide that we are not a good credit risk.

As Climate Change Melts Polar Ice, a New World Emerges

So quickly is the ice melting that the prospect of a navigable, ice-free Arctic Ocean is no longer the stuff of fanciful imagination, and has been the topic of two NOAA National Ice Center-sponsored conferences, the April 2001 Naval Operations in an Ice Free Arctic Symposium, and the July 2007 Impact of an Ice-Diminishing Arctic on Naval and Maritime Operations Symposium. Within our lifetimes, and possibly in less than a single generation, we may witness the opening up of Arctic sea lanes that are fully navigable year-round: the strategic, economic and diplomatic consequences will be enormous.

Nigel Lawson loses no sleep over global warming

Nigel Lawson, the Iron Lady’s chancellor, scourge of the miners and father of the adorable Nigella, has joined the ranks of the climate change sceptics. He believes David Cameron’s green agenda is overblown, biofuels are useless and carbon trading resembles ‘nothing so much as the sale of indulgences by the medieval church.’

Review: Book details life after oil, government

Kunstler made his name as an acidic critic of contemporary architecture and landscapes - or as he calls them "suburban crudscapes." He could have used the novel as an opportunity to create cardboard characters that mouth Kunstlerian themes. Instead, he sketches out a scarred world wobbling between order and chaos. Marijuana grows by the roadside, McMansions are stripped for scrap. On a visit to the state Capitol in Albany, Robert finds the lieutenant governor pathetically trying to keep government running with a typewriter and a gun.

OPEC can boost output by 2 million bpd -- Chairman

(KUNA) -- The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has the ability to increase its production by two million barrels a day, a senior OPEC official said.

Visiting OPEC Conference President and Algeria's Energy and Mines Minister Chakib Khelil told KUNA the increase could mainly come from Saudi Arabia, adding that other countries like Algeria, Libya, Venezuela, and Nigeria could also contribute in the raise.

No Need for Further Saudi Oil Capacity Expansion — Al-Naimi

ROME, 20 April 2008 — Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia has no plans to embark on further capacity expansion as long-term oil demand forecasts fall and alternative fuel supplies rise, the Saudi oil minister told industry newsletter Petroleum Argus.

The holder of the world’s largest oil reserves sees no need to go beyond its 2009 capacity target of 12.5 million barrels per day “at least up to 2020,” Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi said.

Russian oil drop may be inflating prices

The International Energy Agency has hinted that a 1 per cent drop in Russian output in the first quarter of 2008 is contributing to record oil prices. This is the first time in ten years that Russian production will have fallen.

Analysts say the fall may be anomalous, due simply to high taxes and inadequate reinvestment. Russia is the world’s second-biggest producer of crude oil and one of its main exporters, with reserves of about 40 billion tons, of which 25 billion are on its continental shelf.

UK: Calm urged over refinery shutdown

"Even if Ineos are right and Grangemouth has reduced or even no production for a month there is enough petrol in the UK to cover that."

Shell, Qatar to supply LNG to Dubai from 2010

ROME (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell plans to begin supplying liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Dubai in the peak demand summer period from 2010 after signing deals with the emirate and QatarGas, a Shell executive said on Sunday.

Shell aims to supply around 1.5 million tonnes of LNG a year, said Martin Trachsel, Shell's vice-president for gas and power in the Middle East Gulf.

Sinopec predicts 50% decrease in Q1 net profit

BEIJING, April 20 (Xinhua) -- China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec), the country's largest oil refiner, predicted its net profit to decrease by more than 50 percent in the first quarter of 2008 from a year earlier.

...The company said the continuous rise of crude oil price on the global market and domestic price controls led to big losses in refining business and squeezed profit margins.

Petrochina to get its first subsidy, Sinopec warns of profit drop

HONG KONG (MarketWatch) -- China's two biggest-listed oil firms - PetroChina Co. and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., or Sinopec - said Saturday they expect to receive a government subsidy to compensate for low fuel prices on a monthly basis starting this month.

Gulf Arabs put brakes on buying spree, await bargains

DUBAI/ROME (Reuters) - Gulf Arab exporters awash with cash from record oil income have put the brakes on foreign asset buys as the global credit crisis promises more bargains later and the political spotlight falls on how they invest.

Economists say the battle against domestic inflation in the world's top oil-exporting region is capping spending at home, leaving sovereign funds that invest much of the surplus oil revenue struggling to find a profitable home for their money.

Biofuels won't solve world energy problem-Shell

"The essential point of biofuels is over time they will play a role," Jeroen van der Veer, chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell, told reporters on the sidelines of the International Energy Forum.

"But there are high expectations what role they will play in the short term."

Shell, Exxon Face Higher Oil Production Costs on Carbon Limits

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Exxon Mobil Corp. and the rest of the oil industry may face higher costs to exploit Canada's tar sands, the biggest deposit outside of Saudi Arabia, because of efforts to rein in climate change.

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.

UK: Energy firms to raise bills yet again

Energy companies are preparing to slap hard-pressed households with a second massive hike in utility bills this year. Bills could start rising again in the summer by as much as 25 per cent, or an average £250 per household.

...Last week senior Norwegian energy executives also warned government officials and regulator Ofgem that they do not see the UK as a priority for exporting gas. Norway supplies about one-fifth of the gas consumed in this country. With North Sea reserves dwindling, the UK is facing having to import about half of its gas from countries such as Norway and Russia by 2010.

Pursuing the polluters

An environmental suit may open the door for small countries to take on the multinationals.

Oil firm's drilling plans would encroach on Utah artwork

ROZEL POINT, UTAH -- When artist Robert Smithson assembled a massive spiral unfurling into the Great Salt Lake 38 years ago, there was no indication that this remote spot would be altered again by humans any time soon.

Smithson's work, called "Spiral Jetty," became a world-renowned piece of art, its striking man-made pattern created amid isolation. Now art lovers fear it is threatened by plans to explore for oil a few miles offshore.

Oil Majors Must Rethink Business to Survive, Eni Says

International oil companies must improve their technological expertise to survive a trend of increasing nationalism among nations with energy resources, Eni SpA Chief Executive Officer Paolo Scaroni said.

``The balance of power between international energy companies and producing nations is changing, and not in our favor,'' Scaroni said today in a Bloomberg Television interview at the International Energy Forum in Rome. `` The game is about technology. We need to be needed.''

ANALYSIS - Oil majors forced to accept tough terms

ROME (Reuters) - From Iraq to Ecuador, international oil companies have swallowed their pride and agreed to contract terms they would have walked away from a few years ago.

Oil prices have risen more than five-fold since 2002, emboldening OPEC and non-OPEC energy producers alike to demand a greater share of record revenues and tighten national oil company (NOC) control over the world's biggest reserves.

TABLE - The top 15 oil reserves holders, consumers

United States (Reuters) - Following are countries and companies holding the world's biggest oil reserves, as well as the leading consumers, producers and exporters.

U.S. Midwest Oil Refineries Unharmed by Earthquake

(Bloomberg) -- Refineries in the U.S. Midwest run by Marathon Oil Corp., Valero Energy Corp., BP Plc, Exxon Mobil Corp. and CountryMark Cooperative were unaffected by an early morning earthquake in Illinois.

Marathon, the largest refinery in the Midwest, shut its Potoka crude-oil pipeline as a precaution after the earthquake struck, Linda Casey, a company spokeswoman, said in a telephone interview. The line has returned to service and is operating normally she said.

Exposed: the great GM crops myth

Genetic modification actually cuts the productivity of crops, an authoritative new study shows, undermining repeated claims that a switch to the controversial technology is needed to solve the growing world food crisis.

The study – carried out over the past three years at the University of Kansas in the US grain belt – has found that GM soya produces about 10 per cent less food than its conventional equivalent, contradicting assertions by advocates of the technology that it increases yields.

Across Globe, Empty Bellies Bring Rising Anger

Saint Louis Meriska’s children ate two spoonfuls of rice apiece as their only meal recently and then went without any food the following day. His eyes downcast, his own stomach empty, the unemployed father said forlornly, “They look at me and say, ‘Papa, I’m hungry,’ and I have to look away. It’s humiliating and it makes you angry.”

That anger is palpable across the globe. The food crisis is not only being felt among the poor but is also eroding the gains of the working and middle classes, sowing volatile levels of discontent and putting new pressures on fragile governments.

Biofuels under attack as world food prices soar

PARIS (AFP) - Hailed until only months ago as a silver bullet in the fight against global warming, biofuels are now accused of snatching food out of the mouths of the poor.

Interesting stories and sound bites coming out of the "Energy Forum" going on in Rome. There seems to be a lot of producer nations blaming consuming nations and vice versa for the current oil price predicament.

Also, some perceived frankness coming from OPEC members.

Something to watch in the next several days for sure.

I think energy producers will remain in the driver's seat long after the Rome forum...

Energy producers in driving seat at Rome talks


"The relative positions of international energy companies and national energy companies are changing -- and not in our favour," Paolo Scaroni, chief executive of Italian oil and gas company Eni said in a speech at the opening of the International Energy Forum (IEF).

OPEC member Venezuela, under President Hugo Chavez, has spearheaded a global trend towards resource-holders seeking to maximise their returns from their energy wealth.

Bizarre flooding continues in Bellevue, Ohio

BELLEVUE -- Beautiful weather, no river, no stream and yet hundreds of residents are flooded here.

No sudden thunderstorms or drenching rains can explain it. For some reason, the earth in Bellevue continues to heave up millions of gallons of water to the surface.

Against gravity and against logic, the flooding continues day after day. Homes and barns suddenly turned into islands trapped in muddy water.

Maybe something to do with the earthquake on the madrid falt the other day?

It's not nice to fool Mothernature!

You may be right.

Did Yellowstone park have similar problems a couple of years back?
I think one of their lakes shifted position.

Also check out the New Madrid earthquake

" As a result of the quakes, large areas sank into the earth, new lakes were formed (notably Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee), and the Mississippi River changed its course, creating numerous geographic exclaves, including Kentucky Bend, along the state boundaries defined by the river.

Some sections of the Mississippi River appeared to run backward for a short time. Sandblows were common throughout the area, and their effects can still be seen from the air in cultivated fields. Church bells were reported to ring in Boston, Massachusetts and sidewalks were reported to have been cracked and broken in Washington, D.C."

Did Yellowstone park have similar problems a couple of years back?
I think one of their lakes shifted position.

Yes, but it happened over an 8 year period, 1994 - 2002.
One end of Yellowstone Lake was uplifted while trees were drowned at the other end. There is only one main lake at Yellowstone, simply called Yellowstone Lake, though there are several much smaller lakes.

The magma chamber is shifting, or even perhaps growing, causing parts of the park to bulge. If she ever blows then it is curtains for at least half of the USA and will push the world into a catastrophic winter that may last for several years. Good stuff here about the volcano including a short video:

Scientists have revealed that Yellowstone Park has been on a regular eruption cycle of 600,000 years. The last eruption was 640,000 years ago…so the next is overdue. The next eruption could be 2,500 times the size of the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption.

Hey, an eruption is 40,000 years overdue!

Ron Patterson

There was an interesting story about coal yesterday in the DrumBeat:


and it had this quote:

To get a better picture of where we were two generations ago vs. where we will be in less than a generation, consider this: in the 1950s the ratio of energy returned in coal-burning power plants to energy spent in coal mining, transporting and processing was 30 to 1. This same ratio is now down to about 3 to 1. In the next 10 to 15 years, for the United States and much of the world, this ratio will be 1 to 1 and coal will no longer be a viable source of power.

Anyone have any idea where these numbers come from, and the degree to which they are accepted?

I can't believe them. In a link a few days ago there was a photo of an 80ft cliff in Wyoming made entirely of coal. The energy ratio of that can't be bad.

Weatherman - You seem to forget that they were talking about the 50's not 2008. Back then they just shipped it to the plant and burned it. Yahoo!

Now they have something called clean coal and environmental regulations or do you think we should suspend those outdated quaint notions?

I think he just made it up. There's been a fair amount of review of coal production & reserves lately (EWG, USGS, Cleveland, Rutledge, etc) and I haven't seen anything that supports that.

A United Nations official called a switch to biofuels; "a crime against humanity."


A Green Car Congress article indicated that the United States would need to expand its corn crop more than ten percent and would need to use 30% of the crop for ethanol by 2015. They quoted a yield of 3 gallons of ethanol per bushel while others have stated the yield is 2.7 gallons per bushel.

Canada and some EU nations also require biofuels quotas and worldwide grain stocks are near record lows.

Eating more grain in the diet consumes less grain than eating beef. It takes 8 pounds of grain to make one pound of beef.

Scotland, Edinburgh fuel mini blog

I'll try and keep a wee update on this thread, about how the upcoming strike at grangemouth (shutdown already begun) is effecting real life things in the city.

Technically speaking there is contingency for 77 days fuel so no problem right?!!But....only if folk don't panic buy, which they invariably do. So here goes.

14:30 GMT Sunday 20th Apr mild/small queing at 2 petrol stations. Only slightly more voume than normal for a sunday. Story is splashed across 3 major newspapers now. Times, scotsman, BBC, probably others. Folk will be mulling their afternoon papers just now!


Grangemouth Strike Hasn't Hit N Sea Forties Pipeline Yet - BP

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- U.K. oil major BP PLC (BP) said Sunday plant shutdowns at the huge Grangemouth refinery in Scotland ahead of a two-day strike haven't yet impacted the Forties Pipeline System that feeds crude oil into the refinery.
"At the moment, there is no impact," said a spokesman for BP, which operates the Forties Pipeline System. The system moves around 700,000 barrels a day of crude from North Sea oil fields owned by BP and other companies to the refinery for processing and export.
"We're seeking clarification from Ineos and we're assessing the situation," the BP spokesman said.

...A prolonged shutdown at Grangemouth could eventually close down some North Sea oil production which goes through the Scottish refinery through the Forties pipeline, but it is unclear at what point that will happen.

Regarding the stories about Saudi and OPEC excess "capacity" up top, I am reminded of the old joke about the woman who walks in and finds her husband in bed with another woman. The other woman quickly gets dressed and exits the scene. The husband then denies that she was ever there, and the wife responds that she saw the other woman with her own eyes. The husband responds: "Who are going to believe, me or your lying eyes?"

Seems about right...

What kills me is they keep saying things like "increasing production will not reduce prices."

Seems they abandoned reality long ago and are now living in the land of fantasy.

The is a classic emperor has no clothes. It doesn't take a degree in economics (keynesian or otherwise) to figure out that if you dump crude on the market the price will come down.

The embarresing bit for me is the fact none of the media/government/commerce are telling the emperor that he has no clothes - ie that the Sauidis are talking a load of crap. They just keep trying the same old shit cap in hand, begging for more oil, when it is blatantly obvious there is no spare capacity. It is utter self delusion. I don't believe they havnn't figured it out yet " gee maybe they CANT pump more". The frickin' ex saudi oil minister practically spelled it out.


Maybe they have capacity, but what scares me is the statement that they don't plan to add new production capacity beyond 12.5 mbpd. And the reason is, among others, alternative fuels. So, they retreat instead of fighting back? Why not flood the market with oil again and kill the alternatives? Didn't they say they could provide 15 mbpd for the next 50 years, if they wanted to? (2004 CSIS presentation, if I correctly recall).
I would really like to believe they are able to increase production so we can buy some time for the transition to non-fossil fuels world. But recently their statements began to look like bad excuses.

Even if they believe themselves capable of raising production to 15 million barrels per day, it may have occurred to them that they are better off saving the oil for the next generation.

At some point it will occur to oil producers that they are sitting on a non-renewable resource that is getting more and more valuable each year. Why should they rush to pump it out?

Especially if they are starting to think that alternative will never be a serious threat - no need to kill them off. Just estimate the (small) contribution they will make, and keep your production at a level that maximises price.

Perhaps there is a growing appeal to being the "last man standing"? A shift in the psychology of producers.

This was all covered last summer and, especially, last October after Sadad al Husseini said they couldn't produce more than 12.5 without damaging their fields. Given he was the director of their production and exploration for 4 or 5 years, I believe him. Given the lack of production to protect OPEC from competition, I really believe him. Given the King's statements about holding back oil (and previous comments), I am certain of it. Given Bush's comments about the production being "not there," how can anyone have even the slightest doubt?

With Russia now apparently back into decline, game's up, folks.


Prominent article in the NY Times

The Big Thirst by Jad Mouawad


Two word review: geopolitical factors

Jad Mouawad is gradually changing his tone, but he still quotes ExxonMobil as saying that if they were in charge, everything would be fine, to which I always ask, "What about Texas and the North Sea?" Texas and the North Sea: developed by private companies, using the best available technology, with virtually no restrictions on drilling, resulting in respective decline rates of -4%/year and -4.5%year. If oil companies couldn't reverse the long term declines in Texas and North Sea production, why would they be able to reverse declines anywhere in the world?

However, Mouawad did finish the article with this paragraph:

“The country has been living beyond its means,” said Vaclav Smil, a prominent energy expert at the University of Manitoba. “The situation is dire. We need to do relative sacrifices. But people don’t realize how dire the situation is.”

Well, people don't realize the situation is dire because those in positions of responsibility keep passing the buck. IOCs point fingers at NOCs. NOCs say oil is undervalued. Washington points to OPEC. OPEC points fingers at 'speculators' and whistles past the graveyard by saying 'oil and supply are balanced.' Supposed watchdogs like the IEA and the EIA are changing their tune slowly, but it's like turning the Titanic to avoid the iceburg -- the inertia they created with their 'trillions of barrels in reserve' research is too great to overcome. So as they try to gradually change course, they just keep plowing on into disaster.

The current situation is a classic case of denial. To mix metaphors, I think it's pretty obvious that signs of the approaching tsunami are now visible. The harbor is drained of water and there are ominous ripples on the horizon. A few smart people are running for the hills. The rest are standing -- staring in awe at the thing they never thought would happen, that can't possibly be happening NOW. What's even worse, if you want to carry the analogy, is that the Tsunami warning buoys are going off like gangbusters but the 'radio experts' are saying it's a false alarm...

The nature of a catastrophe is that it catches people by surprise. In the world, long periods of boredom are punctuated by awful, brief, periods of disaster. Human beings, so long removed from the natural world, have been conditioned to happily ignore signs of trouble. It is the neurosis of our civilization and may well be the end of us.

I'm not a doomer (yet). So best hopes for people pulling their heads out of their asses.

I'm not a doomer (yet). So best hopes for people pulling their heads out of their asses.

Glad to hear it. Just one small question.

Can you point to a single instance in history where a civilisation has seen a natural disaster coming over the horizon and has acted far enough in advance to avoid the disaster?

Just one?

If not, what's special about this time?

"The animals went in two, by two by two..........." :-)

Yabbut, How The Heck Are We Gonna Fit These Dinosaurs In?

A number of disasters have been stopped dead in their tracks by organizations whose mission is to do just that. Disease outbreaks, for example, were handled very well by the CDC and WHO throughout much of the 20th and early 21rst centuries.

Given, there are diseases that, if they arose, may well overwhelm the ability of agencies to respond. But the organizations are on the ball and ready to respond rapidly in the event of, say, another outbreak of pandemic influenza which does have the potential to overwhelm systems and infrastructure. But if this thing were coming down the line, you'd better believe the agencies would be on their toes doing their best to stop, delay, mitigate, and re-establish function.

To carry the analogy, Peak Oil, represents that kind of a threat. I don't have a crystal ball, so I don't know what the long term affect of Peak Oil will be. We can guess but we don't really know until we've passed through it.

But I do believe we had a number of opportunities to prepare earlier and failed to. The response has shifted from the preparation phase and into what I would term mitigation. In my opinion, I think, through proper mitigation we can salvage large portions of our civilization -- if we act to mitigate now.

So don't start celebrating yet. I won't be a doomer until I see civilization destroyed in large part by the thing approaching. Doing my best right now to help friends and family prepare.

Best hopes for not becoming a doomer.


In my opinion, I think, through proper mitigation we can salvage large portions of our civilization -- if we act to mitigate now.

It baffles me why people seem to think that salvaging the very thing that caused the problem will mitigate the problem. "Civilization" as we know it has been an unmitigated disaster. It has sponsered a mass extinction episode on an order previously only triggered by large extraterrestrial bolide impacts. It has allowed a single species to boost its population far beyond the carrying capacity of the biosphere, to the detriment of ecosystem integrity worldwide. It has poisoned the atmosphere & surface oceans with oxidized carbon pollution. It has spawned inequitable distribution of resources and countless wars. It has engineered an artificial environment in which people are miserable. Be assured that your best efforts to "salvage civilization" will be countered by the efforts of equally determined & capable people who seek its demise.

FF consumption causes the problem not human civilization.

What baffles my mind is the number of people who seem to want vast numbers of their fellow humans to perish.

"Be assured that your best efforts to "salvage civilization" will be countered by the efforts of equally determined & capable people who seek its demise."

So you confirm my original suspicion. If you are successful many will die.

"What baffles my mind is the number of people who seem to want vast numbers of their fellow humans to perish."

What baffles my mind is the number of people who confuse predicting something with desiring that thing.

People are waking up to the notion that civilization, BAU, idustrialization, etc is the problem. Their desire is not a massive die-off of humans but a desire to save what is left of a rapidly dying planet.

The current model of humans exploiting the natural environment to create lavish lifestyles of the rich and famous is dead!

Will "The Monkeywrench Gang" ride again? It already is.

The idea is to try to ramp down human population through birth control, and a minimum of actual die-off. The gentlest form of die-off will be decreased life expectancy, as the failed USSR and the failing USA are showing.

However, since our "civilization" is a machine that can only go forward, controls jammed on, designed to only consume all it possibly can, we are probably going to aim for maximum population on Earth, then a spectacular die-off.

Individuals who don't want to be part of this machine have to drop out of it, spend less, consume less, do everything opposite to what our "civilization" defines as Good.

This is why talk of continuing our "civilization" disgusts me.

"Individuals who don't want to be part of this machine have to drop out of it..."

Living my entire life under the spell of "cheap energy" (the ghost in the machine), then going through a slow process of waking up to reality has been the most difficult challenge of my adult life.

It is my fervent hope that the next great status symbols will not be an Escalade and a time share in Maui but instead a life charachterized by a small impact: i.e. not consuming any more than you need, growing a garden, riding a bike, not eating meat, getting involved in local organizations that promote environmental responsibility, supporting birth control.

Down with Empire! Up with Life!

The problem with birth control is that not all cultures will support it an it is not necessarily a religious thing. The demographics of a low birth culture is that the population will age to the point where there are more old people than young to support them. I don't think that this phenomenon has been discussed widely here but population reduction comes with its own set of problems. I would describe peak youth as an issue that could cause just as many disruptions to the social fabric as peak oil, particularly when you look at who is breeding and who isn't.

If you think of Western Civilization as a continuum dating back to the Sumerians in 3500 BC, then the oil interlude is really just 100 years or 1/55th of that period. The fossil fuel period is about 200 years or 1/27th of that period.

Europeans have a better notion of this than Americans, whose notion of history begins roughly with the beginning of the fossil fuel period. I think that's why Europeans don't really have too much psychological trouble giving it up. For Americans, though, it's part of their self-image. There is hardly anything that's "American" that doesn't involve fossil fuels, directly or indirectly. Americans tend to oscillate psychologically between Things as They Are and some sort of refugee fantasy, where we are a couple steps up from hunting and gathering. Indeed, this is the history of the North American continent. There was hunting and gathering (the Native Americans, and to some extent the pioneer farmers), and then there was a fossil-fuel based industrial economy. (The Industrial Revolution is generally said to start around the 1770s.)

It seems difficult for people to imagine something which has not previously existed. People conceptually tend to get in the "Way Back Machine" and go back to some time period that they feel matches well. For some, they take the Way Back Machine to some 19th century period. Others assume that things will be and should be just like they are today, supported by some technological tweak (electric cars).

However, the future may be quite a bit different than any past period, as is usually the case.

econguy "the future may be quite a bit different than any past period, as is usually the case"

Thank-you for saying what should be obvious. When you accept the premise that the world cannot continue as we know it it leads to the question: What will the world be like?

Will it be a Mad Max nightmare or a gentle agrarian world?

Probably neither.

What is clear to me after looking at the peak oil phenomenon for over four years is I don't have any agency over what programs happen in Washington and I can't stop my neighbors from driving gas-guzzlers or to convince them to recycle.

What I do have agency over is how much I consume, not eating meat, selling my car, walking or riding a bike, taking the train. Those hundreds of decisions that I make in my life probably won't make much of difference but imagine if millions did likewise.

Now we're getting somewhere.

"What I do have agency over is how much I consume, not eating meat, selling my car, walking or riding a bike, taking the train. Those hundreds of decisions that I make in my life probably won't make much of difference but imagine if millions did likewise."

In my opinion, this would help to save, not destroy, civilization.

but imagine if millions did likewise
In my opinion, this would help to save, not destroy, civilization.

Err embracing wishful thinking is gonna do what?

Just because we've seen precious little of it in the last 30 years, don't underestimate the power of an inspirational idea. People do want to be part of something great, and when a pinch comes, all sorts of heroism emerges.

It might even inspire you to stop using adolescent refrains like 'Err..' to launch your positions.

'Wishful thinking' doesn't automatically mean 'meaningless and impotent'.. it's also the seed for great ideas.


"Imagination is more important than Intelligence" Albert Einstein

"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."

'Wishful thinking' doesn't automatically mean 'meaningless and impotent'.. it's also the seed for great ideas.

Without action, all the various plans and ideas are moot.

I am not talking about sustaining WalMart, environmental exploitation, lavish lifestyles, suburbia, or other wasteful endeavors. Civilization, IMO, represents the body of skill, knowledge, and technological proficiency, that has empowered and sustained humankind. Some aspects of this civilization are wasteful, destructive, and dangerous. Other aspects can help us preserve, maintain and extend life. My sense is that it would be wise to use the resources we have now to shift to a new way of doing things that is more in balance with our world. Renewable energy, localized agriculture, more efficient machines and transportation, IMO, all represent potential solutions that may sustain human life, reduce human impact on the planet, and retain the benefit of a modern civilization to our children.

I do not think the only option is to die - off and consign ourselves to a new dark ages. It is possible that I am wrong. But I feel it is useless to say these kinds of things are inevitable or even desirable. There are, IMO, various kinds of work that can be done now to both solve the problems of energy and the problems of human impact on the world. IMO, these works are related and should start ASAP. I think they represent our best hope.

It is easier to wreck something than it is to build something. But IMO it is much more worthwhile to attempt to build something. So knock down oil sand castles all you want but please don't knock down the systems that will help sustain us!

"Be assured that your best efforts to "salvage civilization" will be countered by the efforts of equally determined & capable people who seek its demise."

I was responding to the above statement. If you are predicting something, please, predict away. But if you are predicting inevitable demise -- it is a useless and academic exercise since it fails to encourage action or open up the potential for a way out.

Someone used the baby sea turtles analogy. If you'd like, I'll carry it forward.

People who make statements like the above seem to be fighting to make sure other baby sea turtles don't make it. People predicting inevitable demise seem to think survival is impossible and are telling the baby turtles to give up. If you aren't in either of these camps, then I don't have a problem with you.

FF consumption causes the problem not human civilization.

Say whaaaaat?!! I'm sorry, but this makes no sense at all to me. 'Human Civilization' is all about over-consumption and overshoot. Without FF we denude the forests or whatever other resources are available. Fossil Fuels have simply enabled a much faster and more spectacular overshoot than would have otherwise been possible. But I see no historical evidence that overshoot would not have happened anyway.

i agree with you, comparing today's civilization to ones of old is like comparing a grape to a coconut.

Let us not save civilization; let us redefine it. What we live in is not civil, except for a few pockets here and there. Of course, the definition is a matter of personal taste; but so be it. The Chinese think they are building a civilization by imitating America; when they find out how wrong they are, it will be too late to salvage the planet.

Most of what we think of as civilization is just another form of torture.

they don't see it because they are apart of the system. a system in that makes it look /good/ that we have done all of that.

"Best hopes for not becoming a doomer. - Rob"

The notion of becoming a "doomer" as opposed to What? An "unbridaled optimist".

This sounds like the plot to the "Invasion Of The Body Snatchers". :

"...The pod people work together to secretly spread more pods—which grew from "seeds drifting through space for years"—in order to replace the entire human race...."

McCarthyist paranoia!

Bob wrote:

So don't start celebrating yet. I won't be a doomer until I see civilization destroyed in large part by the thing approaching. Doing my best right now to help friends and family prepare.

Best hopes for not becoming a doomer.

I think you are missing the fact that there is a tremendous inertia within our Western civilization. Since WW II, there really hasn't been a serious shortage of oil, though there were a couple of interruptions. There are still lots of gasoline stations selling to all who stop in. Where's the sense of crisis? People have been conditioned to think that the oil will be there forever, just as it has for most of our lives. It was rather obvious that the world was headed for this sort of situation after the OPEC Oil Embargo 35 years ago. As a nation, the U.S. didn't really make any serious effort to change people's perceptions and after each disruption, things went back to normal, MOL. The fundamental shift in perception which will be required hasn't even begun and those of us who are sitting in the back of the bus crying out for a change direction can not be heard over the shrieks and laughter from the party people up front.

You suggest that you won't become a "doomer" until TSHTF, even though you understand things far better than most people riding around in their SUV's. That's a little like waiting to hire police until some group of roving thugs have stopped by your house (and your neighbors as well) and pointed a gun at your face while taking everything you own.

The fact is, to make the basic changes required, much of what we take for granted will pass away. That will happen whether we like it or not, but, I do have a small amount of optimism that the creative destruction could be managed with a minimal amount of pain. The transition can't happen until we in the U.S., as a nation, admit to the need to change and agree to do something about it. I remain a doomer until I see an open admission by TPTB that there is a problem (which you mention in a following post). As I look at it now, TPTB, i.e., the folks with the money, aren't about to "Tell it Like it Is", since I think such an admission would mean that they would lose their wealth.

E. Swanson

As a nation, the U.S. didn't really make any serious effort to change people's perceptions and after each disruption, things went back to normal,

Jimmy Carter made a very serious effort to change people's perceptions but then Reagan/Bush and friends made an even more serious effort to set the US back on course for the edge of the cliff.

Gosh - If it wasn't for those short sighted politicians we would all be racing around on high speed rail and obesity and diabetes wouldn't be national tragedies.

Let's admit the truth, except for a few who bucked the trends, we all bought into it. Let's put blame where blame belongs.

It's getting to be like some sick twisted episode of South Park!

Uh, excuse me, but where were the increased gas taxes or rationing? Where were the solar thermal power plants? Carter's DOE built one big wind generator, based on 1940's technology. Sure, he made a speech or two and his administration produced the Global 2000 Report, but, they didn't get the people on board and the RayGun revolution washed away many of Carter's programs. We collectively decided to Drain Saudi Arabia First, as part of the Supply Side economics which Old Ronnie RayGun brought in with him. Just what did you think they meant when talking about "the Supply Side"? It was about cheap oil and we built out military up to be sure we could get it. The American people didn't understand the energy problem then, nor do they now, because they haven't been given the education to understand the problem. Engineers (like me) who understood and tried to sell the idea of solar energy were pushed aside and ignored. It's been even worse under Gee Dubyah, who actively stage managed scientific and technical information about the energy and environmental problems that are on top of us.

E. Swanson

Furthermore, as we have discussed here and in other fora, the hoi-polloi still won't know about the energy and environmental problems after they occur. (note the climate disinformation being spread about today) It will be "the economy" (they printed too much money, or not enough money, or didn't bail-out the correct parties), or "the war" (we had to invade them, they weren't sending us 'our' oil fast enough), or "an act of god" (nobody warned us the sea level would rise). Nope, there won't even be hindsight on this one.

If thugs come to my house with guns -- well let's just say I'm ready for the party.

I've learned that nothing worthwhile is ever easy. But it certainly is worthwhile regardless of how hard it seems. If I can self publish a book, sell 10,000 copies on my own, get spots on local and national television, and become a paid presenter, then I think I can do something to help raise awareness and develop a response to this situation even if TSHTF, as you say.

I started with myself about a year ago. I'm now vegetarian. I drive an electric scooter or I car pool. I'd take the bus but it is utter crap where I live. I'd take a train if I had one -- the metro in DC was fantastic. I turn my gas off in the summer and do without hot showers. I use an electric range (nuclear power plant supplies electricity). I planted a potato garden this spring and am doing the same for three friends, my mom, and my grandmother. I'm starting to put together a local awareness and response/mitigation network and I write Peak Oil blogs on Associated Content. My "As Oil Majors Chime in Peak Oil Lurches Closer" got 5,000 page views so I think I reach at least a few people. In any case, I'm going to say something about the crisis in my second novel.

So no, I'm not George Bush, a Senator, or someone else with amazing reach. But we all have reach of some kind and, IMO, we should use what we have to its best potential. So even it I was still a police officer, I could do something in my local community to raise awareness. What kills me is all the people just dying to bend over and kiss their butts goodbye. And we haven't even gotten into the thick of things yet!

In any case, I will not consign myself to doomerism until TSHTF in a really, really, big way. Even then, it will only be in that I'll lose hope in our civilized systems to respond to the problem and do my best to generate a response myself. Nor will I give all my, albeit minimal, influence over to TPTB and live life thinking that I can't, in my own way, have an impact on the positive side of things. At the very least, those of us near the back of the bus can sure make one hell of a stink. The Oil Drum, I think, does a good job.




But OPEC is correct is saying the 'oil and supply are balanced'... because as supply goes down, prices go up to destroy demand, and tada... oil supply and demand are in balance. Then OPEC sees diminishing demand so they have to think carefully about increasing future production. OPEC just has the cause and effect backwards, but the correlation is correct.


Perhaps they have been listening to our friends the economists.


When 'moderates' like Vaclav Smil say the situation is dire, the writing really is on the wall. Until recently Vaclav Smil was on the optimistic side (at least as regards fossil fuels), though he was certainly no cornucopian. In the chapter 'Fossil Fuel Futures' from his book 'Energy at the Crossroads' (2003) Smil critiques the imminent peak oil theory as unsubstantiated and indeed expresses a general reluctance to make any forecasts at all.

A new conventional wisdom of an imminent global oil production peak has been taken up enthusiastically by media always eager to report bad news, and we have repeatedly been told that "the oil era is over". [...] all past efforts to pinpoint the peak years of global oil output and its subsequent decline have been unsuccessful, and I will argue that the latest wave of these findings will nor fare any better.

(pages 195-196)

etc. etc.

I remember that when reading Smil's book three years ago thinking that if this guy changes his mind we're all done for.

Smil is a moron

Always was,always will be.

'nuff said

Not so long ago, Vaclav Smil was assuring one and all that natural gas would, in its unfathomable 'vastness', allow us to overcome any potential problems with oil supply.


Anybody remember?

"Peak Oil: A Catastrophist Cult and Complex Realities", by Vaclav Smil (World Watch, Jan-Feb 2006).

See here:


(Sorry, I first posted this reference in the wrong place.)

'The Big Thirst'

There's several articles and some graphics and other stuff. It's worth a glance, and good that it's out there leading the Sunday Week in Review. If one reads BETWEEN the lines, Peak Oil can be teased out. If one reads it in a straitforward way... It's just more of the same. The author's own facts don't add up. It's just more 'high prices will lead to more production and lower cost...'.

However... on MSN's home page, Oil Prices link goes to three articles in the last day, in Philly, Miami, and Dallas explicitly describing ELM. High growth, big $$ and 'Western-style' consumption are curtailing exports from OPEC countries...

“The country has been living beyond its means,” said Vaclav Smil, a prominent energy expert at the University of Manitoba. “The situation is dire. We need to do relative sacrifices. But people don’t realize how dire the situation is.”

I doubt sacrificing a relative will fix anything - but I have one or two I could do without if anyone thinks it will help.

Thanks for that offer to sacrifice a couple of your relatives, it made me laugh after all this discussion re: civilization's excesses - which I happen to agree with - 47 to 50 species lost a day for the last 30 to 40 years, almost never any discussion about them, it's as if we're just a bit anthropocentric?

47 species x 365 x 30 equals 514,650 species extinct. Hmmm. Can you name ten of them? Here, this link might help: http://oddee.com/item_88742.aspx

Oh, they only list ten species, the most recent being the Dodo and the the great Auk, both of which expired more than 100 years ago.

Wikipedia has a grand list! I made it at least half way through the birds listed, and all were extinct more than a hundred years ago, save three. The passenger pigeon in 1914, another type of bird in 1980, (I don't remember it's name, and I certainly haven't missed it!) and one everyone remembers and is quite sad about I'm sure, the "Thick-billed Ground-dove, Gallicolumba salamonis", which officially became history in 2005.

While this list is long, it is significantly shorter than 514,650 you claim have become room temperature in the last 30 years, and the vast majority of those I looked at expired before WWI. (Perhaps you will be more persistent than I, but I found the research rather tedious.)

It appears to me that other than Wikipedia, no one is very interested in the facts of specie extinction. Red Book, for instance, will only discuss endangered species, and have very little data on those that are gone. There are lots of predictions of mass die offs and such, but, as everyone knows, environmentalists are particularly bad at predictions.

I find this lack of documentation demonstrates that the outlandish figures so often bandied about to shame western civilization is a fabric of falsehood. Don't ruin your credibility by repeating their lies- especially lies that are so easily refuted!

So excuse me for being skeptical of how hard it is to get along in this world without humankind's help. The reports of thousands of species demise seems to be pre-mature.

Chip I gotta blow the whistle on you here. While I can add nothing to support Anthro's clain one way or another, and cannot explicitly rule out exaggeration, I CAN say this:
1. The infomation outlets you sourced are a lot closer to casual childrens' reading than science.
2. The word "species" as used in science includes more living things than just birds and mammals, and some of them don't even have legs, eyes or brains. (Whoh! Little things like plants and amoebas are 'species', too?)

Chip, in addition to the astute observations made by Jeffrey, there is a great fallacy you and so many others fall prey to which is to assume we have identified all species on the planet taxonomically and you look these up in some fictitious book or source (as none last I heard exists which documents all the planet's species) and review how many are left and those that are now extinct.

The fact is, the majority of species are not in the temperate lands inhabited by European descendants, but in the zones surrounding the Equator. The biodiversity there is exponentially greater, with species that have never been observed and thus never catalogued taxonomically. Many never will be, as they are now extinct. Many others go extinct as acres of land are cleared and burned everyday, to be supplanted by ever more monoculture crops for use by Homo sapiens.

Your insensitivity to the natural world from which you came and to which you will return, and your "scientific" tunnel vision is duly noted though.

Hey Petro, sorry I got your handle wrong (Andro). Chalk it up to trying to remember it while waiting for pages to load...
I got Roadrunner, & this site makes it feel like dialup. Do you think maybe DHS has planted some malware here to keep all us insurgents from talking? I'm not surprised anymore, after all the effort it took to post a single reply, that nobody else except you did.

Hi Jeffrey,

Yes I much as I like this site, the comments section can be particularly unnerving in the sense that they take forever to retrieve a particular comment, and even scrolling down can be time-consuming. My computer can handle the volume of comments, I can think of another computer though I use, and yes it is connected via Brigthouse (Roadrunner) where the comments actually cause the computer to freeze up so I shouldn't complain. I do wish when you click on a story in the "The Drumbeat" that you'd be returned to where you left off instead of to the top and having to scroll all the way down again.

That being said I know of no better site for the honest(mostly) discussion and implications of the end of (formerly) cheap fossil fuels.

And yes, nothing surprises me any longer and your idea about the DHS planting people who make what can only be seen as absurd comments such as there's only 10 species being extinct which he can document certainly supports that notion. I try to stay away from MSM outlets, but take the current headline on CNN.com - Criminals target energy, financial markets, Mukasey says .I won't provide a link to it as you know it's propaganda and that would be serving corporate America's aka our government's interests. The US in particular will stop at nothing when things are in free-fall and imploding and rather than blame TPTB, now it's "criminals". This need to blame "the others" gave us an excuse to invade and occupy Iraq for it's oil resources, and has been used time after time throughout history. Some things never change I guess.

It's a spin I'm sure many here are tired of. For my part, what's most concerning is a growing chorus of voices stating the reason for current price trends is primarily due to NOC control:

"The problem is that in many corners of the world, geopolitics, more than geology, has removed much of those reserves from the reach of independent oil companies.

'There are plenty of resources in the globe,' Rex Tillerson, the chairman of Exxon, recently told an investor conference. The difficulty, he said, was 'just continuing to have access to all of the opportunities.'"

The implied fix is that IOCs need access. In the current geopolitical situation IOCs regaining access amounts to use of force.

And of course, the peak oil crowd is likened to a fringe looney bin:

"A small band of skeptics view today’s record prices as evidence that oil supplies have peaked — that half the globe’s oil supply has already been used up. But most experts believe that there are still enough oil reserves, both discovered and undiscovered, to last at least through the middle of the century."

I guess 'most experts' = CERA and company. Of course, stating oil will last until the middle of the century is not a contradiction of peak oil. If we pump 30 million barrels per day in 2050, well oil lasted until mid century and peaked as well. So the statement doesn't say what it seems to say. The causal 'if-then' doesn't quite connect.

News on oil: murky, dim, and when you get to the bottom -- outright ugly.

"...just continuing to have access to all of the opportunities," is such an innocuous sounding phrase, until, as you pointed out, you stop and think about what it really means.

What it really means is that the US is to militarily dominate the Middle East (and any place else where a country has lots of oil but no nuclear weapons) to such a complete extent whereby it can install docile puppet governments eager to enter into sweetheart deals with US oil companies. A far more honest phrase describing the current US energy policy would be: "Kick their ass and take their gas!"

The problem this model is that so far, we haven't gotten a very good return on our 'investment' in Iraq: a half trillion dollars down the toilet, over 4,000 US troops dead, and some 25,000 wounded. And five years later the meter is still spinning with no sign of stopping, and we're still not in control of all the oil.

Still, I'm sure that the Bush Regime has made a simple calculation along the lines that if Iraq has say 100 billion bbls of reserves, then at $100/bbl, you're looking at something like 10 trillion dollars worth of oil, so the expenditure so far in blood and treason is paltry compared to the grand prize. The little problem, though, is that entities such as Russia, China, and India have no doubt made the same sort of calculation.

But never mind: on to Iran!

Re: It's Official

The holder of the world’s largest oil reserves sees no need to go beyond its 2009 capacity target of 12.5 million barrels per day “at least up to 2020,” Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi said.

Long-term future energy demand forecasts have fallen sharply, he said in the interview given to the weekly on April 11, casting doubt on the need for more Saudi oil.

Last week King Abdullah said

"I keep no secret from you that when there were some new finds, I told them, 'no, leave it in the ground, with grace from god, our children need it'," King Abdullah said in remarks made late on Saturday.

You may now bend over as far as you can, put your head between your knees, and kiss your ass goodbye.

-- Dave

Accompanied by music from Phantom of the Opera:

"It's over now, the lifestyle we once knew."

I just want to hear them all (Bush, OPEC, IOCs, NOCs, IEA, EIA et al) say the words: Peak Oil.

Go on. Say it. Just say it once. Peak Oil. It's not hard to say. P-E-A-K O-I-L. Peak Oil. There. Was that so hard?

I just want to hear them all (Bush, OPEC, IOCs, NOCs, IEA, EIA et al) say the words: Peak Oil.

When, that day comes, Western Civilization ends. If the major Oil producers and the POTUS, said we are past peak, with in about a year, every energy exporter would stop exporting energy to conserve the remain reserves for domestic consumption. There is a significant chance that WW3 would occur shortly after, as the Half-nots try to take energy from those that still have it.

Go on. Say it. Just say it once. Peak Oil. It's not hard to say. P-E-A-K O-I-L. Peak Oil. There. Was that so hard?

That would condemn billions to death, probably including yourself.

Its not peak oil, its all a conspiracy by the US government!!! (joking)


If this is what these people think then I can understand our current situation. The first step in dealing with a crisis is acknowledging its existence and leveraging human assets by making the public a stakeholder.

In any case, OPEC countries cannot operate without exports -- it's the current basis of their economic growth. Ditto Russia. I agree that oil would come off the market but more gradually ala West Texas (ELM). Until then, how are desert countries going to access food without oil exports?

Billions don't die over words being uttered. Billions die as a result of a very real and awful calamity. Countries are well aware of the problem and are already maneuvering to capitalize/respond. It's the public that's in the dark. And the silly thing is the public represent those who consume the oil -- the ones most able to affect the situation by changes in behavior. Staying mum stays the course to disaster.

There's very little wisdom in what you've said -- mostly just small mindedness.

Robert I agree with you that we need to acknowledge the problem and then deal with it peacefully.

A peaceful powerdown involves unprecedented cooperation in common cause. It is needed to optimize chances for our species survival, in my opinion, but most folks have been groomed to think otherwise.

Our leadership has been carefully cultivated to act as criminal sociopaths -- check out "The Corporation" documentary movie and book, as well as "The Divine Right of Capital."

My guess is that many leaders know that we are a species ripe for Die Off, and so try to have a good time while it lasts and arrange for their own survival and comfort. Many leaders may also identify strongly with some group -- national, ethnic, religious, or otherwise. So the solution for the leadership -- and even common folks are educated to agree -- is a kind of "Kill Off" policy that leaves "Us" as the rather famous "Last Man Standing" on the planet.

With nuclear and chemical and biological weaponry, of course this is absurd. We can easily do ourselves in this way, and most likely will.

Jay Hanson, the founder of the Die Off website has a list conversation going on under the "Killer Ape - Peak Oil" heading. I notice that our species does excel at killing -- one at a time or especially in massive numbers. We do the mass Kill Off thing very, very well.

As Killer Apes we will do ourselves in, leaving a smoldering ruin behind. what genetic forms of life might survive is anyone's guess.

If we were to transcend the Kill Off option and cooperate, then we would still see massive die off, in my opinion. However, the decision not to use war or weapons of mass destruction to address the problem -- the problem of far too many people competing for far too few resources -- would limit the die off in such a way that we might not destroy the species, along with most others now on the planet. Maybe.

My guess is that many leaders know that we are a species ripe for Die Off,

If you hang out in the 'wack-job' MP3 world long enough, you get to hear the statements that support exactly that statement.

Codex Alementarious, A prince of England commenting on population reduction, REX 84, Adjenda 21, super-smallpox (of the russians typically), Henery Kissenger and the 'useless eaters' comments (and on and on)

Alex Jones and William Deagle are two who will back up the claims with date/times of the public statements.

So yea, some of the 'leadership' class are as you state. And if it was not for the 'underclass' needed to keep them in Lattes, provide them with energy/goods for consumption - I'd be willing to bet the 'tribe of the rich' would be happy to see 'the tribe of the poor' gone.

"...leave it in the ground, with grace from god, our children need it"

Finally someone is brave enough to stand up and stop STEALING from the future.

Best hopes for starting a positive trend.

re: stealing from the future

Yes, that's the good news for the children. And then there's the bad news ... now on display at your local gas station and grocery store -- Now and Forever More.

Although I have written about rising oil prices and their effects over and over again during the last few years, I can not seem to get anybody to listen to me.

Imagine that.

-- Dave

Grandfather rode a camel

Father rode a Rolls Royce

I flew a lear jet

My son will ride a camel.

Right now, the most stupid thing anybody can do is swap little bits of green paper for tangible wealth.

Personally speaking , I am truly amazed that the trade continues.

But since it continues who can blame them for maximising on price?

Were I a Saudi, I would push it to $150 and then see what happens.

Bearing in mind that at $100 I could buy up most of the French Riviera...

Just in case it went pear shaped...

Which it will...

dorme bien

"Right now, the most stupid thing anybody can do is swap little bits of green paper for tangible wealth."

At least paper is worth something - in their case case they are willingly giving us valuable commodities in return for a bunch of ones and zeros stored in computers that belong to the likes of Citi and Bear Sterns. Oh yeah The bear is dead - enough said - huh?

Winger Global Cooling News Update:
NOAA: U.S. Temperatures Near Average in March as Global Land Temperature Sets Record
Western U.S. Snowpack Healthiest in a Decade
April 17, 2008

An analysis by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center shows that the average temperature for March in the contiguous United States ranked near average for the past 113 years. It was the 63rd warmest March since record-keeping began in the United States in 1895.

The average global land temperature last month was the warmest on record and ocean surface temperatures were the 13th warmest. Combining the land and the ocean temperatures, the overall global temperature ranked the second warmest for the month of March. Global temperature averages have been recorded since 1880.

My induction hob arrived yesterday and I had a chance to try it out last night. I have to say I'm greatly impressed with its performance and in many ways it's a superior alternative to gas. For one, the glass surface is very easy to clean; a simple wipe with a spray cleaner and paper towels does the job -- with a conventional gas burner, any spills can be a bit of a pain in terms of cleaning the grates, burner assembly, spill guard and so on. Secondly, it's really fast! Induction works by heating the pot itself, not the air underneath it as with gas or the surface upon which it sits, as in the case of electric. My wok and the frying pan that shipped with it went from stone cold to searing hot in a matter of seconds. In addition, its responsiveness with respect to temperature adjustments is as good as gas if not better; you can bump the temperature up or down instantly at the touch of a button. Moreover, you can set the precise temperature you wish to maintain (e.g., 210F) which is not something you can with the other two options and there's even a timer function that will automatically shut-off the unit after a pre-set number of minutes. It's also smart enough to sense whether the cookware is compatible; if not, it goes to sleep.

This is a portable unit that draws 1,600-watts and is about 90 per cent efficient in its heat transfer; on that basis, we net 1,440-watts or 4,900 BTUs (the built-in versions are more powerful but here we're limited to the carrying capacity of a 15-amp circuit). Even so, given that gas cook tops have an operating efficiency in the range of 40 to 45 per cent, it produces about the same amount of useful heat as a 11,000 or 12,000 BTU gas burner. For me, propane is almost three and a half times more expensive than electric, so it's a more economical alternative, plus there are no combustion by-products released into the home which would necessitate the use of the range hood, so there can be additional savings with regards to space heating and cooling [with respect to cooling loads, and not taking into consideration additional ventilation losses that may apply, 1.6 kW = 5,500 BTUs versus our gas burner at effectively twice that].

In terms of environmental performance, the high end-use efficiency does help to offset some of the larger losses that occur upfront. I believe NSP's thermal heat rate is something in the order of 10,200 BTUs; if my calculations are correct, 1 kWh of induction heat at 10,200 BTUs is roughly the equivalent to 7,200 BTUs of propane (i.e., 11,500 BTUs/1.6); I should also note its performance is twice that of a conventional electric range. Renewable energy makes up about 15 per cent of NSP's generating mix and this number will increase to 20 per cent by 2010, so the final results are somewhat better than noted here. In addition, I purchase green power to cover off almost half my total needs, so we should actually come out ahead of the game.

Lastly, if, down the road our energy situation truly does take a turn for the worse, I'll want to conserve my supplies of propane to the greatest extent possible by utilizing electricity when available and switching to gas only as needed. I currently use about 75 litres of propane a year (20 gallons) and with this new addition to the kitchen that should drop in half.

With a tip of the hat to Alan, best hopes for energy-smart solutions.


And I cooked supper on a woodburning stove. Enjoy your gadgetry.

I will indeed, thank you.


Impress me: build/buy yourself a solar oven and get your cooking down to zero emissions.




If you'd like to buy one:


It doesn't say what the materials are for the box, so the carbon footprint is anyone's guess. That's why I prefer to make my own. That way I am recycling materials but can get the same performance.


Hi ccpo,

Well, a solar cooker is a fine idea for those parts of the world that actually get sun, but let me tell ya, Halifax ain't one of 'em!

Halifax's reputation as a foggy and misty city is well deserved. Each year there is an average of 122 days with fog... Because of the extensive fogs, as well as mists, low cloud, and smog, sunshine amounts throughout the province are usually less than half the total possible... Sunless days (days with less than 5 minutes of bright sunshine) amount to between 75 and 90 a year, with a marked seasonal high from November to February."

Source: http://atlantic-web1.ns.ec.gc.ca/climatecentre/default.asp?lang=En&n=614...

As mentioned, I will be building a small portable solar panel for heating laundry water. I can easily schedule laundry on those seeming rare occasions when the sun makes an appearance, but this fellow becomes a real cranky pants if he doesn't get his three full squares a day. ;-)


Fair enough.



Hi Paul. Do you have a link for that induction hob? Thanks.


Hi Don,

If you're a CIBC Gold card member, you can order one through their rewards catalogue, which is what I did. See:


If not, I get the impression a lot of their stuff originates with HBC, so you might want to check out their kitchen section.

To see a demo of it in action go to: http://www.pitchwell.com/Shop/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=164 (the "K-Tel"-esque quality is a tad over the top, but it's still helpful nonetheless).

I've only used it a couple times so far, but I'm absolutely sold. If you are about to replace a gas or electric cooker and are unsure if induction might be a good alternative, this is a great way to test it out before making that commitment.

Best hopes for less cheezy info-commercials (*gag*).


Hi Paul. I came up with this link Portable Induction Stove. Interesting. Thanks for your posts on home energy solutions. I too live in Canada (Ontario, but Nova Scotia heritage :) ) and am trying to lower my energy footprint.


Hmm, bad link. Sorry. Trying again.



Thanks for the link, Don. I'm not 100% sure, but that appears to be an earlier generation or perhaps a more basic model. If you look closely at the links I provided, you'll notice the controls are laid out differently.


My pleasure, Don. I spent twenty years in Toronto and the city was very good to me and I made many great friends while there, but I was happy to move back home. As you can probably tell, reducing my energy footprint is something I take seriously (perhaps a little too seriously) but I enjoy the challenge. I'm fortunate to be able to work in a field where I get to help others use energy more efficiently and that's a source of tremendous satisfaction -- not in the same league as a doctor who saves lives, mind you, but a small, tangible contribution nonetheless.

Speaking of Toronto, it looks like I'll be heading there later this week. My former neighbour and good friend Maggie is declining very rapidly and is in a lot of pain (cancer has spread throughout her entire body and she's battling the last stages of this disease). If I return to Halifax with her collie, I will be quite honestly taking away the one thing that is keeping her going. I've faced some tough things in my life but this is going to hit hard.

Best hope for a cure (and soon).


I primarily use a microwave fro heating and use ceramic cookware (even have a ceramic frying pan, now discontinued, by Corning).

What is the heat transfer ratio (including electricity > microwave) between microwave heating & induction heating. I can NEVER pay for $150 with energy savings but nice "toy" :-)

Could this be adapted to "crockpot" type cooking with the right cookware ?

Best Hopes for Energy Efficiency, even in our toys,


I remember specs of 83% for one induction heater I looked at, and wouldn't be surprised if microwaves are about the same (ok, maybe 90%).

I have my suspicions that a good, well-insulated crock-pot could match those levels. There are two separate issues that come in to play: 1) transfer heat to food until it reaches the temperature required for food to chemically change, and 2) maintain that temperature while chemistry happens in the food (browning, breakdown of stringy stuff, strange reactions with French names, pixie magic), and of these, I strongly suspect that 2) takes the most energy.

As an experiment [really-as an experiment-don't do this at home, kids], I wonder how well a plastic thermos [with a vented lid, we don't want explosions here] might do in a microwave, with a 5% duty cycle (say 6 seconds on, about 2 minutes off).

There's not been any call for actual efficiency, given that electricity is practically free, but in the future, who knows?

Hi Alan,

My understanding is that microwave ovens are pretty efficient overall, but that it varies somewhat by the type of food being heated (moisture content, I believe). However, it's proably safe to say that even those of us who are totally inept in terms of our culinary skills would agree that whilst microwave ovens are very good at what they do, they can't do it all. In most cases a basic electric fry pan will perform just as well as this hob and you can pick one up for less than five bucks at a local garage sale or Goodwill store. The key thing for me is that I like to do stir-fry which always involved the use of the gas cook top, so this happens to be a little better suited to my needs.

So, would I pay for one of these things out of my own pocket? Most likely not. But if I'm going to apply my credit card points to something, I'd rather they be spent on a device like this that will save energy than say a vacation at a resort half-way across the world (of course, my partner doesn't necessarily share my point of view).


Best Hopes for Both Good Cooking and Domestic Tranquility,



Re: Biofuels won't solve world energy problem-Shell. And Biofuels under attack as world food prices soar. Uptop.

Arguing that biofuels must solve the world energy problem is a classic straw man argument. Of course it won't. Should biofuel then be rejected? Of course not. It is a partial solution for certain areas that have surplus cheap commodities. It frees up oil for those who do not have surplus commodities like corn and sugar.

The idea that we have to solve a world problem or else we can do nothing is pure baloney. Some people will die because of over breeding, bad government policy or just plain bad luck. Some will die from lack of oil. Some from lack of food. Those who reject partial solutions for some areas of the country or the world should hold themselves accountable for the disasters that will follow if they get their way.

Each person or locality has to work to solve its own energy problems with the resources it has available. It makes no more sense to make the United States responsible for the world's food supply than to make Saudi Arabia responsible for the world's oil supply.

No one here seems upset that Saudi Arabia refuses to or can not export more oil. It is just accepted as fact. Many will die from cold and lack of food because of high priced oil in poor coutries. But so what? Few seem to care.

But if corn is used for ethanol instead of for chicken or hog feed, whether here or someplace else in the world, it is a moral dilemma to the point that some call it a "Crime against humanity". They do not know what they are talking about.

If corn is not used for ethanol, most of it is fed to animals at a large energy loss. Corn importing countries are mostly first world or the richer third world coutries that want to increase meat production.

The choice is between chickens, hogs and such and ethanol. Humans are not directly at risk from higher priced corn. They can survive quite nicely on vegetables, fruit some other grains like wheat and rice and smaller amounts of meat, milk and eggs.

The Iowa Renewable Fuels organization is finally fighting back against the false claims made against ethanol:


Some will say it is biased because in comes from the largest biofuel producing state in the country. Please apply the same standard when officials from Middle East oil producers condemn ethanol produced from corn.

Thank you for your input, x. I couldn't agree more.

Promoting biofuels = condoning starvation. Converting food to fuel is immoral. It is murder. Taking land out of food production for the sake of growing fuel is murder. Plain and simple. For the sake of promoting your own vested interest in corn ethanol you advocate genocide in the developing world. No sense in euphemism: you are consumed with evil greed.

We currently pay farmers NOT to plant anything on 34 Million Acres. Is THAT Murder?

What if you use corn to feed cattle for Rich People instead of grinding it up into corn meal for poor people; Is that Murder?

Is using corn for sweetener for coca cola instead of corn flakes murder?

Yes, yes and yes.

Is it normal for humans to murder? Yes, it is the essence of survival of the fittest, nothing is safe from a human.

Is it normal to only consider yourself ahead of others? Yes, survival of the fittest, natures design, the result of 3,500 million years of evolution - a continuous, unbroken line from the first cell to you, a lot of killing has taken place down the years.

We currently pay farmers NOT to plant anything on 34 Million Acres. Is THAT Murder?

Kdolliso, not that I doubt your word but I would like a URL for that 34 million acre figure. I have googled until my fingers ache and I cannot find the "fallow land" bill anywhere. Here is what I would like to know. How much does the government pay who not to grow what on how many acres? And can that fallow land be used for anything else, like pasture or Timber. Here is the closest thing I could come to an answer to that question with google:

That sweetener was needed to win over wheat-state Democrats -- led by Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (S.D.) -- and GOP House members from rice and cotton districts. Wheat growers alone stood to receive $1.4 billion in the first year. The payments for rice growers were increased by $52 million at the last minute in an effort to win support from Sen. David Pryor (D-Ark.).

The new payments were calculated on a farm's "base acres," or production dating to 1981. For example, if a farmer had planted 400 acres of rice, he was entitled to a check of about $100 an acre, or $40,000, every year. The amount per acre varied depending on past production.

The payments were unrestricted -- farmers got them whether or not they grew any crops, or whether prices were high or low.

Owners could do almost anything they wanted with their land, as long as they did not develop it. They could leave it fallow or rent it for pasture. They could set up a hunting retreat. Or, as happened in some Louisiana parishes, landowners could collect payments while planting stands of commercial timber.

Now that sounds to me like they the land need not be fallow. In fact a farmer would be stupid to let the land lay fallow when he could use it for pasture or timber or even crops.

But I may be all wet here. At any rate I await your response, with URL, stating that 34 million acres are fallow and cannot be used for anything else and that farmers are paid to keep it that way.

Ron Patterson


try googling "conservation reserve program." Here's one brief explanation:


Basically, it allows farmers to take some of their less productive land (notice, I didn't say "non-productive") and plant it in grass, or other cover. It pays $49.00, something, per acre. We had 36 million acres when the article was written. It's now a little less than 35 million acres.

Kdolliso, thanks for the URL. Now that you know how to do it, please continue the practice. ;-)

$49.49 an acre and they can still plant grass or other cover. Now we both know that $49.49 an acre ain't much but if you can plant it in grass and graze your cattle on it, that's a bunch. Farmers get paid for raising cattle instead of soybeans. Good deal for the farmers, very bad deal for the world's grain supply. But than as you said, it is only very marginal land. Not much grain would grow there anyway. But farmers could probably do better by renting it out as a hunting preserve, like those on the URL I posted earlier.

Thanks again and please continue to post URLs for your statements. That's just how we normally do it here on TOD. We have had a lot of problems with people making statements with no basis in fact, just pulling figures out of their ass. Not that you would ever do that but posting URLs for your data removes all doubt.

Ron Patterson

I don't think you can graze CRP acres, they may let you hay it in a drought year.

This is a tougher set of questions than may appear on the surface.

It's partly the old "give a man a fish...teach a man to fish" conundrum.

And also -- how many people can we feed -- sustainably? Can we suustain the world's present population indefinitely -- at what standard of living?

Who will make sure that everyone is fed and gets an equal share?\

Are we creating more misrey by supporting folks who cannot sutain themselves at present, and my with our help create a bigger population unable to sustain itself? If we foster dependency, what happens when our crops fail? Will more people suffer and die because we hand out food without equal emphasis on creating sustainable "permaculture" around the planet?

There are some complex questions involved in this.

It is painful for me to think about to much, because I don't like to see people starve at all. What to do?

Teach a man to build fishing boats, and he'll ruin the whole fishery.

We are staring into the biggest tragedy-of-the-commons abyss in the entire history of our species.

We currently pay farmers NOT to plant anything on 34 Million Acres.

Back up that statement.

Is that statement like your claim about how the US of A has all kinds of excess farm capacity - yet when its pointed out how the US is a net food importer
you slink away under the light of truth?

If corn is not used for ethanol, most of it is fed to animals at a large energy loss. Corn importing countries are mostly first world or the richer third world coutries that want to increase meat production.

This shows a gross misunderstanding of what is really going on. X seems to think that it is either/or, that if the corn goes to make ethanol then that just means less meat and eggs for rich folks. What a silly and simplistic way of putting it. Well, it simply does not work that way.

Farmers plant the crop that promises to show them the greatest profit per acre. Beef and chicken farmers do not cut production simply because more of their feed is diverted to ethanol plants. They simply bid higher for that corn and raise the price of eggs, poultry and beef to offset the higher cost of corn and other animal feed. This causes the price of corn to rise.

Farmers then, seeing the price of corn so high, simply put more acreage into corn to take advantage. This of course means they must plant less wheat, soybeans and other crops. Since August of 06 the price of corn has gone from around $2.25 a bushel to $6.00. Wheat, during that same period went from $3.50 a bushel to $12.50 in February and March before dropping back to around $9.00 last week. Grain futures as far as three years out have shown a similar rise.

Of course there were other factors, like a drought in Australia and a few other things. But the biggest factor of all was the amount of corn being diverted to ethanol plants. The price of grain is being bid up largely because grain is being used to produce automobile fuel.

Ron Patterson

From previous postings, X seems to identify themself (let's say he for purely ease of grammar) as belonging to a farming family, so I don't think he's ignorant of local choices farmers make. His repeated main thrust of argument seems to conflate two things: (i) food is priced too cheaply for farmers to make a suitable living and (ii) ethanol is the only way for farmers to force up prices to a suitable level. Point i seems like a real problem, and if having suitable returns means higher food prices then people in other countries and aid budgets, etc, will have to figure out a way to afford this. What I have a problem with is the claim "ethanol gives me higher prices easily, so that's what I'll do" regardless of the fact it's throwing away energy to fuel ridiculous driving levels rather than argue for higher prices for building up a food buffer in case things go bad in the future (just for americans). It's a bit like me saying "I need in raise in my salary. If I shred all my students exam papers, they'll have to take the exams again and I'll get paid for all the extra work, rather than me and my union campaigning that salaries should be increased to avoid staff leaving".

To be honest, I'd be a lot less bothered by ethanol if I believed farmers actually took the time to carefully analyse if their changes were going to be sustainable in the face of possible declines in artificial fertilizer (due to nat gas, transportation issues) and climate change. But given experience of how farmers in the UK were happy to grab the cheap-n-cheerful cattle feed that lead to BSE, I'm not that confident that things have been considered beyond the immediate economic impact.

BTW, our Soybean Exports were Up 12% last year. Our Corn exports were Up 16%! We're doing our part.

And, Corn is still $0.11/pound. If it costs more in Haiti, or Zimbabwe, it's not Our fault.

I believe those increases are measured in dollars and not in volume. And a 2008 dollar is not worth what a 2006 dollar is. I wonder if US ag exports increased, if measured in euros ?

And most of the set aside land is, per my understanding, "highly erodible". We can row crop it for a few years or decades, and then it is gone.


And most of the set aside land is, per my understanding, "highly erodible". We can row crop it for a few years or decades, and then it is gone.

I'd be very interested in a view on this, adding in the issue of whether whilst such land might be viable with artificial fertilzers it might not be if these diminish in availability, from a farmer who's genuinely concerned about the issue. (Ie, not just a kneejerk "No it's not" but "I've researched the issue carefully and trying to set aside effects on my personal finances, I my opinion is that ...")


those increases are in Volume. And, while it's true that some of the land is of the more erodable type, a lot of it's actually pretty good land (also, keep in mind that with over 76% of corn being grown No-Till, now, erosion is becoming much less of a problem.) Basically, the program was to try and get the price of corn up some. After all, every bushel that was being grown was costing the government money through price supports. We've saved about $11 Billion/yr in farm payments since the price of corn has gone up above support threshold.

I would like a link for that (you failed to do so in the original claim).

Also, what is the cost of ethanol subsidies? $7 billion I believe, but that data may be old (and I could not find link on short notice).

And the cost of an expanded dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico from expanded corn growing ?

I still think that ethanol ought to take whatever free market (zero subsidies, zero tariff on Brazilian sugar cane derived ethanol) it can get replacing MTBE in polluted areas and win in 1 on 1 competition with gasoline.



if you will look at the graph at the bottom of this link


you will see that payments related to prices are down about $11 Billion in the last couple of years.

As for subsidies: you will see at this link


that we are currently producing at an 8.5 Billion gal/yr rate. Multiply that by $0.51/gal and you get about $4.35 Billion.

The Dead Zone? Corn farming, obviously, plays a part; but, it did when the corn was going to fatten Vietnamese Hogs, also. Besides, how much of that dead zone is caused by runoff from St. Louis, Memphis, Evansville, Vicksburg, New Orleans, and all other cities in between? And, all of the Paper Mills, Factories, refineries, etc?

Look, let's be honest; do you really think Exxon is going to put ethanol in it's gasoline unless it's forced to? Yeah, me neither.

Corn farming has been identified as the primary cause of the dead zone. The more corn, the more dead fish, shrimp, crabs and oysters. Soybeans, cotton, rice, wheat and other less intensively fertilized crops have proportionally less impact (actually much less than proportionally, since they have less nitrogen applied and absorb a higher % of the applied nitrogen).

Processed sewage (partially because of processing) has a minimal impact. I am unaware of many nutrients being dumped by industrial users. The problem did not exist in the 1950s, when sewage was dumped raw and industry had no controls on pollution, and corn got far less fertilizer.

It is the corn. More corn, bad !


There is every reason for Exxon, or other companies, to dilute gasoline with ethanol if it is cheaper/volume. ESPECIALLY if they do not have to label that their gasoline has been diluted.

Only consumer resistance to diluted gasoline and the lower mpg that goes with ethanol would keep oil marketers from adding ethanol.

The subsidy listed of 51 cents is just the direct federal subsidy, (and $4.35 billion wasted that could have been used for true oil savings elsewhere !) and not the multiple state subsidies and indirect federal subsidies (investment tax credits, US manufacturing, accelerated depreciation, etc.).


And, Corn is still $0.11/pound. If it costs more in Haiti, or Zimbabwe, it's not Our fault.

I am puzzled Kdolliso, why do use cents per pound? There are 56 pounds of shelled corn per bushel. At 11 cents per pound that would put corn at $6.16 per bushel, about right. However it was 4 cents per pound just a year and one half ago or about 2.25 a bushel:

When you say it is still $0.11 cents a pound, it gives the impression that it has been at that level for some time. And no one is saying it is your fault. We are saying that using food for fuel is causing starvation around the world, especially in Haiti and Sub-Sahara Africa. No one blames you for getting every possible cent for your corn even if it is causing starvation.

And ethanol production is expected to cause corn exports to drop dramatically, or so says the Institute for Agricultural Trade Policy.

Notice Kdolliso, I give URLs to back up my statements, you never seem to do that. I wonder why?

Ron Patterson

Ron, I haven't been involved in Farming for 45 years.

I sometimes break it down into pounds because that's what people are used to relating to. I mean, we don't go down to the store and by a "bushel" of corn meal, do we?

I guess I could have worded that: Still, Only, $0.11/lb.

You've hit on something. The Real price of corn was Never $2.25/bu. That was the subsidized price that the livestock producers were paying; but, the taxpayers were subsidizing that price to the farmers. At %2.25/bu there Would Not have been an acre of corn planted. In reality, the taxpayers were subsidizing foreign Cattle Producers to the tune of Billions/Yr.

BTW, in the early eighties corn sold for as high as $3.27/bu. In "Real" terms that would be about $7.98/bu in today's dollars.

Ron, I've put several of these links up so many times that I just assume everyone's seen them. I guess that's a bad assumption, and something that I'll have to work on in the future. Peace :)

I mean, we don't go down to the store and by a "bushel" of corn meal, do we?
I guess I could have worded that: Still, Only, $0.11/lb.

You speak of farming, then jump right to "the store" - the store is just another "value add" point along the way.

The point is, corn and wheat are still super cheap. I've made the argument several times here that if corn and wheat returned to their average from 1900-1970, inflation adjusted, it would be about 6x higher.

There seems to be a lot of wailing and jumping around here on TOD about the rising grains prices. It would be good to accept, psychologically, that grains are still extremely cheap, and that if they rose in price several hundred more percent, they would still be cheap. $0.11/lb corn is obviously cheap! The average is around $0.68/lb, and that is inflation-adjusted, so if there is more dollar devaluation the price bogey will rise.

Markets have a tendency to mean-revert. If there is any kind of real and sustained grain shortage, it would not be unusual for the real price to be perhaps 2x above the 1900-1970 average, which would be about 12x higher than today's price, or about $1.36/lb. It would not be a good idea to put oneself in front of this steamroller, emotionally speaking.

We had a long period during which food was unusually cheap, and many farmers struggled to make a living. Higher prices are good for farmers.

But during this period, the world population grew, taking advantage of the cheap food supplies. Now that prices are heading towards the historical average, millions struggle to afford food.

Is the problem prices, or overpopulation, or poverty?

Do the hungry mouths held hostage to grain prices in poor countries act as a moral compulsion for us to produce as much food as possible on their behalf? So that the population can grow even more? If we have a moral duty to all become vegetarians, do we also have a moral duty to plow under all our national parks, bulldoze suburbia and move to high-rise apartments, cut down all our forests for agricultural land?

Does this moral imperative extend to pushing land under crops to an unsustainable level that will simply guarantee a hard crash later on, or is there a point where you decide to let people starve rather than plowing under more land?

Percentage of ethanol in U.S. gasoline rising?

Around Boston, I've been seeing 10% ethanol added to the gasoline ever since refiners stopped adding MTBE. Just the other day, I saw 15% ethanol for the first time. Is this a new development? If so, how widespread is it?

I see this escalation primarily as a desperate attempt to keep the "happy motoring" going no matter how much food we must burn, but secondarily I wonder how rapidly this is going to destroy various seals and gaskets and so forth in an engine. Is the damage occurring primarily while the car runs or pretty much nonstop as long as this adulterated fuel is in the tank periodically bathing the seals? (IOW, is the damage principally a function of time or mileage?) What is the expected impact on fuel efficiency due to the lower heat content of ethanol?


Minnesota has been running 10% ethanol in ALL their gasoline for several years with no bad effects that I've heard of. All Domestic autos built since 93', I think it is, have been built with ethanol in mind. It may surprise you to know that several of the major oil companies have been putting ten percent ethanol in their "Premium" blends to raise OCTANE for quite some number of years.

Unless you have a Very Old Car you probably will see your mileage stay within 0.5% to 1.0% of what you were getting without ethanol. There are, actually, a few cars on the road, such as the flex fuel Impala, that will get considerably BETTER mileage with a midlevel ethanol blend (20%, or so) than with straight gasoline. I would expect the flexfuel Impala to get slightly better mileage with e15 than with straight gasoline. The trick is how they are able to utilize ethanol's higher Octane (113 vs 87 for unleaded.)

BTW, there was an article in the WSJ (no lover of ethanol, that rag) that estimated that the 555,000 bpd of ethanol that we're using is reducing the cost of gasoline by up to 15%. He's guessing, of course, but common sense would tell you that there would have to be some significant effect.

Minnesota has been running 10% ethanol in ALL their gasoline for several years with no bad effects that I've heard of.

And yet downthread you admit tha you HAVE heard of lower mileage claims.

So - which is it? You have heard or you have not heard?

My guess is that it would be a function of time. As long as that fuel line, pump, and injectors are bathed in E15 (whether the car is running or not), they are being attacked by the fuel. I think all the newer cars are built with ethanol-resistant materials, however.

As for efficiency, I think it's been mentioned before on TOD: ethanol has about 60% of the BTUs of regular gasoline. So 0.6 * 0.15 + 0.85 = 0.94. Expect a 6% reduction in mileage for E15.

I'll second that. We have a 2006 Honda Civic sedan with a 5 speed manual tranny. About as modern as you can get for a conventional gasoline engine. On regular gasoline (winter grade 87 pump octane -no ethanol) the car will consistently give 39 - 42 mpg highway cruising at 70mph. On 10% "gasohol" we can do no better than 33 - 34. If the ethanol blend doesn't reduce my emissions by more than 15% (and I'd bet dollars to doughnuts it doesn't even come close to that), then our total emissions are even greater due to increased comsumption.

I'm not being Snarkey; but, there must be something about Hondas. The other story like this that I heard was a Honda owner. That number is just way out of line. Did you run 3 tanks through? It takes that long in some cars for the long-term memory to adjust to the ethanol blend.

Filled up at local Shell the other day in SouthEast Florida and for the first time I saw a "sticky" that said not more than 10% Ethanol added.

$3.47 for reg at the time.


I see it as a positive development, energy companies financing energy improvements for customers and charging back the upgrade costs over a period of years in the monthly utility bill. The utility lowers peak demand and provides financing for the utility customer that might otherwise be hard to find, a sound idea. For now this concept is available to commercial entities, it should extend to residential customers as well.

China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec), the country's largest oil refiner

(up top)

The other day I spent the afternoon with the Chief Technology Officer and Chief Engineer of Sinopec visiting some alternative fuel research centers. After listening to his questions about why this research was being pursued and whether the crude oil situation factored into it, it dawned on me he wasn't asking what he was actually thinking, so I asked him if he thought peak oil was the main problem. Not only does he believe that the peak is here, but that alternatives can't make a dent in offsetting petroleum usage. He even called the new ASPO China group "optimists". Funny, in Chinese they use the same terms we do--doomers and optimists!

Interesting. People around the world seem to understand peak oil, but getting leaders to admit to it in the United States is difficult.

The highest depletion rates at Saudi oilfields were around 2-3 percent per year, Al-Naimi said. Reservoir management and drilling prevented higher decline, he added. Decline rates at existing wells were around 6-8 percent per year.

The only capacity addition that Saudi Arabia has detailed beyond 2009 is the 900,000 bpd Manifa field, which is to replace decline at other fields, Al-Naimi said.

“Manifa is really a ‘maintain potential’ facility, Al-Naimi said. “It does not add to our spare capacity.”

Now that looks like the most authorative vindication of Simmons book Twilight in the Desert to date. The Saudis are finally admitting to production problems.

Our current energy policy is a failure. Ethanol has not done anything to reduce our energy costs.

You seem really not able to understand, what peak oil means!?

From the above article "Growing world needs every form of energy-Shell":

"So it is not a matter of choice, do we do coal, or oil, or nuclear? The world will need everything, including biofuels. You name it."

"... Despite high prices, demand is not dropping, there is only slower growth. Easy oil and easy gas cannot supply all that surge in demand,"

Just read this carefully over and over again and try to start to think.

This is peak oil, mate.

OK, this borders on the absurb. Two contradictory stories about the trajectory of oil prices on the same page of Bloomberg:


Oil Prices May Be Pushed Higher by Dollar, OPEC's El-Badri Says


Oil May Fall on Reduced Refinery Demand, Survey Shows


So, will the price of oil fall or rise in the near future? I guess it depends on which expert you ask.

Short answer: The price of oil will keep rising because of peak oil and further demand growth. It's just a question of supply and demand, the first lesson in economics.

It's that easy. Just forget this US$-oil relationship. The USD has probably found bottom, but nevertheless oil will keep on rising. This will take many by surprise.

As a layman's guess I would say, the decreased refinery utilization and the lack of refinery demand is because refiners can't make money with the price of gasoline where its at relative to the price of crude. That is the rise in prices at the pump has not kept pace with the rise in crude prices. So the refiners decrease utilization making gasoline more scarce to increase the, what do they call it, "crack spread". Not that all this is conscious policy mind you just that refiners like to not lose money when they make gasoline. I'm not researching all this but I'm pretty darn sure the refiners are making below average returns on making gas. If this normalizes we might just blow right through $4/gallon this summer. $5/gallon anyone? No? How about this fall? how about 2009?

Let them eat dirt?

With food prices up as much as 45 per cent since the end of 2006, El Salvador's poor eat about half as much food as they did a year ago. In Haiti, a destitute population is turning increasingly to mud patties made of dirt, oil and sugar, which at least quieten the stomach.

The food-price inflation shows no sign of abating. Already this year the price of rice, one of the world's most critically important food staples, has increased a staggering 141 per cent. And one particular variety of wheat jumped 25 per cent in a single day during that period.

For the estimated 1.5 billion people worldwide who live on just $1 to $2 (U.S.) per day, today's severe food inflation means forsaking health care, withdrawing children from school, cutting meat and vegetables from one's diet, and subsisting on cereals alone.

El Salvador, Haiti, Zimbabwe etc. etc., the food riots. I can't hear it anymore. Do you know the reason for that? Because these countries are just not capable to grow their own food. Mismanagement (Zimbabwe used to be the breadbasket in southern Africa) is one thing. The other thing is, that over years, decades, the US together with the EU, Australie etc. delivered their grain surpluses for ZERO costs, with the help of the UN. Those countries just abondened their own agriculture. This is the truth. Hard for many gooddoers to understand.

euro - how does ag in those countries compete with ZERO cost imports?

That's precisely the problem; it doesn't.

Several decades later, population is up, production is down, and the prognosis isn't so rosy.

Thanks for bringing this up! Finally.

And when the local farmers have trouble competing, what happens? Pushers try to addict them to all sorts of technology to make them more "efficient"--mostly using fossil fuels.

Some years later, the tune has changed and UNESCO implores agriculture to get off of fossil fuels!


Help yourself! The time, where you got all this surplus grains for nothing is gone. Get accustomed to the idea, that you produce your food in your country. The pity is, you just forgot how to produce your food, because the corrupt UN delivered it cheap for decades. And so you became addicted to cheap food as the US got addicted to cheap oil.

Transporting food from one continent to the other is just passé. Because of peak oil it is icredible expensive. Regional production of food will be the next "hype".

Net oil exports revised on a computation error I found today.


[EDIT]Exports dropped by about 150,000 barrels per day in March.

For those of you that have already downloaded the spreadsheet - The correct value for Venezuelan March production is 2444 not 2244. Thanks to eastender for catching that.

The real cause of the current food shortages is the fact that the amount of arable land available for agriculture is decreasing (due to cities, GW, pollution,etc.) while the number of acres required to feed a person is growing very slowly in poor countries that don't have industrialized agriculture. Industrialized agriculture depends on fossil fuels. At +$100 a barrel oil and with prices for ammonia doubling since November 2007 to $500 per ton(international), industrial agriculture is becoming impossible for poor countries. These prices have nothing to do with ethanol production in the US. But the dumbass blaming of US corn ethanol continues. I witnessed dumbass global freemarket economist Jeffrey Sachs parroting that line on Charlie Rose last week.


It's also true that maize/corn and sugar cane use far less nitrogen fertilizer than crops like rice,bananas, citrus, potatoes or tomatos.


If you want to help the Third World the US should support local liquid fuels(biofuels) and ammonia production in those countries.

Americans and Europeans(well-fed people) get most of their protein from animals and animals are fed on corn. Most poor people (who starve) get less than a quarter of their protein from animals.
So corn isn't part of their diets.
We could reduce our intake of animal protein and put the land into cereal production and would get the same kind of
substandard low protein diet that people in the Third World have which is what Prof. Pimental advocates. The Chinese and Japanese have near-normal levels of proteins due to the amount of soybeans they eat and the Europeans also eat a lot of soybeans, so in the case of bio-diesel from soybeans there could be a direct conflict. The US is not a big soybean exporter and therefore isn't responsible for the soybean market squeeze.


As far as calories go, most of the poor
get about 80% of the UN minimum calories, mainly from local cereal crops. Cereals need far less fertilizer than vegetables and fruits. Therefore the rural poor,while malnourished, aren't starving.

The current crisis is brought on by an overreliance on international markets by
Third World countries that are neglecting their own agriculture as the rural populations move to the cities.
Cities require industrial agriculture, either nearby or as part of the cut-throat international market.
Even if the US were to completely end the corn ethanol industry it would not help those people one bit(and would force up the price of oil as well).

Thank you.

It's also true that maize/corn and sugar cane use far less nitrogen fertilizer?

BS !

Corn is a nitrogen hog ! MASSIVE quantities, enough to create dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico. FAR more than the alternative crop, soybeans, in much of it's range.

So corn isn't part of their diets

Corn is one of the "staff of life" crops, along with rice, wheat, potatoes and cassava. See tortillas.

I did not bother reading the rest after these manifest "untruths".


Absolutely correct. Summary from the CEO of Shell:

"So it is not a matter of choice, do we do coal, or oil, or nuclear? The world will need everything, including biofuels. You name it."

Lithium in Abundance


As to the issue of American lithium resources, Evans pointed out that a single geothermal well in southern California can produce enough lithium to meet all of the world's current demand for lithium. There are also lithium-bearing clays called Hectorite and oilfield brines that contain commercially-viable concentrations of lithium, though they would be more expensive to produce compared to the high desert brines in the Andes and Tibet. How much lithium is there in the world in Evan's professional analysis? He estimates it at 28.4 million tonnes of lithium, which is equivalent to 150 million tonnes of lithium carbonate. Current world demand is 16,000 tonnes.

Agree that there is probably adequate lithium, but, as the linked article implies towards the end, the energy cost of extracting it from from hectorite or oilfield brines or geothermal waters (especially the first) is likely to be considerably higher than from Chilean salars. In mining, the low cost producer generally wins.

What began as a doubling of the price of corn with the increased conversion of grain corn to ethanol has turned into a doubling of grain prices worldwide and numerous reports of rioting, theft, and hunger:


Corn cultivation was subsidized in the United States making ethanol feedstock prices artificially lower at the expense of the tax payers. Then ethanol had to be subsidized as the ethanol industry was in danger of insovency. Disabling the free market pricing of ethanol by providing quotas for ethanol use is likely to cause woe for the average American family.

I am not a US citizen, I'm living in Europe.

But I am shocked, that you as a US citizen have no clue about your agriculture policy. In the US, direct subsidies are directly linked to producer prices (not like in the static EU): That means, the higher the procucer prices are, the fewer direct subsidies are paid out. This is a really fair system. For the average taxpayer and consumer it is a zero game. So, just stop with your teardrop kind of comments.

Did you get this?

Hello TODers,

Recall my Zimbabwe postings yesterday plus my feeble 'geo-strategery', then mentally correlate:

Ag Secretary: 'We have never been less secure' about wheat

"We have never been less secure about the near term future of wheat," Schafer said. "With over 75 percent of U.S. wheat acres planted to varieties that are highly susceptible to this disease, the threat here at home is real and it is urgent."

LATOC forum member Midatlantic's comment:

"Yikes! With people like the Ag Secretary publicly freaking out, there must be a serious problem. I don't know if someone mentioned this theory in the thread about Chinese troops in Zimbabwe, but perhaps they're there to revamp that country's agriculture and thereby get a new supply of grain to their hungry masses."

Makes sense to me, too. For China to try and mitigate their coming UG99 wheat rust disaster they will probably need as much agri-land as possible. Zimbabwe seems obvious if you consider the mind-boggling amounts of potential crop-damage from UG99.

As mentioned before: Topsoil trumps FFs--Would you prefer to try growing crops in Iraqi sand dunes, or would Zim cropland offer better prospects?

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

Recall our '30s Dustbowl--IMO, the expanding Chinese Gobi desert is much worse, and climate change is projected to basically make China hell on earth [not to mention other areas].

The Central Plains dirt-poor farmers migrated to California--Wouldn't the Chinese see Zimbabwe as their mitigative solution?

Recall my prior postings on Asimov's Foundations, the Porridge Principle of Metered Decline, innate Territoriality, and the postPeak sequential building and enlargement of Biosolar Habitats.

Please examine the Zimbabwe statistics in the CIA Factbook for further info.

Hello TODers,

Latest Zimbabwe update:

Human Wave Flees Violence in Zimbabwe
See the photo please, then imagine me doing the same thing in ten years as I desperately try and flee my Asphalt Wonderland for Cascadia.

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

What strikes me is -- look at that razor wire. Does anyone but the US make that stuff! Isn't it against the Hague convention or something??

And I sympathize ..... remember I am in the outer asteroid ring of your Asphalt Wonderland. Your Asphalt Wonderland looks wonderful from where I am, frankly.

I will feel very, very lucky if I can get out here with the shirt on my back, my laughable 250cc motorbike, and some sort of a grubstake.

In more sunny news, I made $25 this weekend and proved that people are still appreciative of someone paying attention to *them* and drawing *them*. The laundromat, and my 82 MPG bike's gas tank are like hungry mouths, crying for that money, but think I can set $20 of it aside if I am very careful. Probably half the population *wishes* they made $25 all weekend, and didn't.

I'll admit I used to get a teeny bit irritated at Kunstler's condemnations of the Southwest - not really irritated, because I know it's land not meant to have lots of people on it, but just a slight itch of annoyance. But being *in* the Southwest, yeah, Kunstler's "curses" will come true and rightly so.

Hello Fleam,

Yep, let's hope the price of metal rises so fast that any future attempts to install razor-wire results in thieves quickly recycling it.

Another Zim update:

Thousands flee Robert Mugabe's terror mobs
Once this Zim Overshoot bottoms out--who migrates in to fill the void?

New Rhodesia, or New China, or someone else?

The laundromat, and my 82 MPG bike's gas tank are like hungry mouths,

As you shop at curb-mart - might I suggest:
Bicycle air pump
An old corny keg
material to allow the keg to tumble for agitation

The idea (from a product I once saw being hawked in a catalog) was thus:
The changes in pressure forces the soap+water into the clothing. The under-pressure vessel would 'tumble' end over end. Claimed in 5 mins the clothes would be clean.

"Bicycle air pump An old corny keg material to allow the keg to tumble for agitation"

Sounds a good idea.

You could also try this.

Get a strong polythene sack, put clothes and washing powder and water in. Fold top over a few times and tie up with a rubber luggage strap, making sure to trap some air in too. Tie to back seat of motor bike. Whilst riding along you wash your stuff.


This is a new kind of imperialism whereby the privileged indulge while the benighted savages
are content to live frugally in their little patch of forest. However there are quite a few problems of measurement and responsibility.

Firstly only wet tropical rainforest has increasing carbon uptake, and then only limited. Boreal and temperate forest may be carbon neutral or even net emitting if drought or disease affected. Therefore these existing forests are barely holding the line with a fraction of existing emissions, let alone increased emissions. Rich country A may have a deal with poor country B to preserve a particular acreage of forest. If if the carbon uptake has been measured correctly but B razes another patch of forest the benefit is undone, but nobody is monitoring outside the nominated acreage.

What if B then decides to raze the special acreage? Then they are guilty of a CO2 surge and should be penalised under an international monitoring system if it existed. However they can threaten A with the loss of their precious offset which I suspect is greatly exaggerated. Some might say country A is guilty of fraud and country B is guilty of blackmail.

However this is what Japan is now doing with extra coal use while their KK nuke reactor is repaired and seems to be a key element of Norway's carbon neutrality plan. I suspect it will be part of Australia's long awaited emissions trading scheme.

That's a good point he makes that we were asked to change our lightbulbs at the end of an Incovenient Truth, however the average person can only do so much. I think gore's point went beyond light bulbs to include other things people could do, but in particular to have a mindset of selecting products that will have a less damaging effect, and to vote for those leaders that will make changes move us towards renewables and away from fossil fuels. Unfortunatley, we will never know what Gore could have done for renewables because he didn't get elected, due to Bush convincing people his math was fuzzy, even though Bush then proceeded to put the country 4 trillion dollars farther into debt.

Folks might be interested to see Gore's new talk, delivered for the first time less than 2 weeks ago:


He has shifted substantially aware from the "light bulb" promo side of things and acknowledges the true state of emergency.

a very good listen/see!

Bloomberg news: Saudi Aramco Says New Oil Field, Khursaniyah, Starts Production

Abdulaziz al-Judaimi, Saudi Aramco's vice president of new business development, said in London on April 9 that Khursaniyah would start this month and would be producing 300,000 barrels a day within a month.

Hello TODers,

LATIN AMERICA: Reconciling Oil and the Environment

For decades, oil and natural gas exploitation in Venezuela polluted fields, rivers, lakes and cities, and fostered the growth of poor settlements around the installations where the country’s oil wealth was produced.

"If the aspirations of this government are achieved, of producing (in the belt) up to four million barrels of crude a day, it would leave more than 10,000 tonnes of sulphur and almost 100,000 of coke per day," said González.
As explained in my earlier postings on Venezuela: the people would have been better served if these pipelines were converted to allow SpiderWebRiding for railbikes for greater geo-dispersiveness and inherent non-FF logistic limitation control. The extremely cheap, subsidized cost of gasoline along with road enlargement does not serve the greater postPeak need for transition.

Regarding the sulphur: I would expect them to move to underground sulfuric gas injection as an EOR strategy, like what is being done in Canada [see archived posting], then selling the rest of the sulphur. More potential SpiderWebRiding pipeline?

I am way out of my feeble expertise here: can coke have a postPeak higher value as agricultural Terra Prieta Bio-Char vs metallic ore processing?

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

Hello TODers,

It will interesting to see if the rising price of sulfur will force an earlier switch to greater pyrite mining than normally would be the case:

Sulfide mining a big gamble for the area
What is Sulfide Mining?
Recall from the USGS sulphur link: as FFs deplete, and the extracted sulphur from sour crude and natgas follows likewise, then we have to use ever greater amounts of energy to get sulphur from mining. Remember, 60% of sulphur is used for I-NPK beneficiation, and the remainder is considered a critical lifeblood input for many chem-processes for virtually everything.

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

you've hit on something the green utopians can't see....pyrite roasting and metal smelting depend on fossil carbon. In the fantasy world of nothing but wind farms and solar panels we can't afford to roast iron pyrite, though maybe sulphides of other metals can earn extra revenue. I don't think charcoal fired ore roasting will make a comeback. A relative lives near to an abandoned pyrite-for-sulphur mine (Brukunga, Australia) but the local creeks are now acid.

Here's some interesting fertiliser factoids I've recently learned; Olympic Dam uranium mine produces an ammonium sulphate byproduct so it might have a tad of radiation like many US phosphates. The guano (bird dropping) deposit recently re-opened on Nauru island contains cadmium. Can this be worse than humanure?

Hello Boof,

Thxs for responding with good info. That's too bad about the streambeds being acidifed--are the former mineowners being forced to clean it up, or are they getting away scot-free?

Sorry, but I don't know enough about radiation levels and toxic Element accumulations in the human body to comment on the rest of your reply.

Looks like the State government has picked up the tab

Post WW2 they desperately wanted sulphuric acid to convert phosphate from the Pacific islands to 'superphosphate'. A lot has happened since then, no till farming, rainfall decline and now astronomical prices.

Hello TODers,

Please read the link, not just the teaser below:

Price of fertilizer next to rise

Ban on export of commodity inputs urged

After China jacked up export levies on fertilizer by more than 100 percent last week, senators called on Malacañang to move quickly and impose an export ban on fertilizer inputs, specifically sulfuric acid and sulfur.

All countries are now scrambling to stock up on this commodity to deal with the food crisis worldwide.
Well, I guess we are now into another round of panic-buying for sulphur, I-NPK, and foodgrains.

Is globalization now past its heydey? Is hoarding and trade wars becoming the new BAU?

Is another thirteen-fold price increase going to happen in sulphur again over the next year? Or just a mere tripling or quadrupling? How soon till I-NPK again reaches the 1914 price of $14,500/ton?

What is the value of a meal when JIT doesn't work anymore?

As usual, I welcome any elaboration or refutation from any experts.

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

Bob - Those two articles deal with mining of metal sulfides for the metals, not for sulfur (unlike the case mentioned in Australia). What they did not point out is that the sulfur in the ore minerals has to be recovered as sulfuric acid at the smelter (it is no longer legal to emit it to the atmosphere as sulfur dioxide). They were mainly concerned with future acid mine drainage (AMD) at the mine site and its prevention or mitigation (e.g., with limestone that neutralizes the acid).

In Arizona and elsewhere, as you may be aware, AMD is commonly considered an asset, not a liabliity, in that the acid is useful for leaching additional copper out of very low grade ores or mine dumps and tailings (and the copper can thereby be recovered economically for many decades after mining has ceased). Could AMD elsewhere likewise become an asset if metals and sulfuric acid become still more scarce and expensive?

Ethanol is, BTW, the waste product of a certain type of fermentation (by your organisms that may be smarter than us). AMD is the waste product of a completely different type of fermentation (by bacteria that eat pyrite for lunch). Both waste products are potentially useful.

Tonight on the History Channel:

Last Days on Earth TVPG CC
Scientists explain seven of the deadliest threats to humanity: black holes, artificial intelligence, supervolcanoes, asteroid strikes, nuclear war, disease and climate change.

How ironic, Peak Oil or Fossil Fuel depletion is not even mentioned. It is amazing that people haven't a clue as to the real catastrophe that is about to befall them.

I think I will watch "Supervolconoes" on the Science Channel instead.

Ron Patterson


United States Dept. of Energy, Energy Information Agency

If production levels out at 2 million barrels a day come 1/1/2008, as this article suggests, then exports are likely to start dropping, shortly after 1/1/2008.

saw this documentary a few nights ago on PBS.


It brought many things together, where i had questions. now, i know the answers. Now i know why americans are so much fatter than they were back in the 60's. (as i remembered, i am 46, adults were more thin back then ) Since 1973 food started changing, it all made since, high fructose corn syrup (very bad stuff). large quantities of corn for cows is not good for them, nor is it good for us. and the farmers know it, the food and beverage manufactures know it, while we consume it. diabetes has accelerated too since the early 70's. must be pure coincidence! yeah, i am sure it is.

I am reading more main stream magazine articles saying ethanol is not good for us or the planet, yet i see the politicians pandering to the corn farmers in Iowa, because they want the vote. The corn lobbyist have convinced congress that ethanol is the answer to our energy problems.

This might have been posted, but today on Drudge there is a link (couldn't get it copied) to a story claiming that 15000 persons worldwide were surveyed on Peak Oil-70% feel global oil production has peaked, only 22% feel oil will be an important energy source in the future (so much for Peak Oil being a secret).

Is that of the 1% who knew what peak oil actually was?

Tapis is at $123.58.

If ,as you have been implying, (I think) that light sweet oil is in the foothills of a parabolic move based on indispensibility, ELM, and moving 'up-income' it's not likely to relent, is it? Every talking head analyst thinks it has to. The amazement will probably continue.

I watched Schork observe (correctly), "Yesterday's resistance is today's support" Then in trying to serially blame the dollar, speculation, geopolitics, and refinery rates he seems to get caught in his own circular firing squad ,like many do, as RBOB went to $3. in the background. LOL

IMHO because of the lower consumption-per-economic-output factor in the 'emerging' nations economies they also have the ability to leverage the high consumption market without suffering as much damage themselves. As I understand it they need the real good stuff for their refinery runs and can afford to bid it accordingly.

Oil running out as prime energy source: world poll

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Most people believe oil is running out and governments need to find another fuel, but Americans are alone in thinking their leaders are out of touch with reality on this issue, an international poll said on Sunday.

On average, 70 percent of respondents in 15 countries and the Palestinian territories said they thought oil supplies had peaked. Only 22 percent of the nearly 15,000 respondents in nations ranging from China to Mexico believed enough new oil would be found to keep it a primary fuel source.

As usual with such surveys, the first thing that springs to mind is the nature of the question, since the answer you get depends strongly on how that question is posed. The report above says "70% [...] said they thought oil supplies had peaked", which would indeed be a surprising result. However that's not what the survey asked. Here's the original source:


and the actual question asked is (emphasis mine):

Q2-O2: Do you think that governments should make long term plans based on the assumption that:

- Enough new oil will be found so that it can remain a primary source of energy for the foreseeable future


- Oil is running out and it is necessary to make a major effort to replace oil as a primary source of energy

It's just insisting that you to pick the second answer as the first sounds plain irresponsible the way it is phrased. Also the second option conflates two issues, peak oil and the desire for independence from oil. You could want the latter without necessarily believing the former, and so mentally skip right over the first five words of this option and still choose it.

So I would not interpret this survey as a widespead acceptance of peak oil, rather I would interpret it as exactly the result you would expect from a sample that has no understanding of the issues involved given the way the question is posed. In short, it is getting the answer desired by the questioner.

I just clicked, after reading an OPEC person say 'there's plenty of supply' for the 100th time....OPEC are MAXED out, they have ZERO spare capacity, that's why they are going all out with that line of defense.
After all, who holds back production at these prices? No one. Why would you? Cos you're saving oil for your grandchildren!?! I DON'T THINK SO! Since when did we care about our grandchildren and their grandchildren? NEVER! If we did we wouldn't have a 85 million barrels per day habit, it would be more like 5 million.

http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/080421/oil_prices.html AP
Oil spikes to record above $117 a barrel after tanker attack
Monday April 21, 6:08 am ET
By Thomas Hogue, AP Business Writer
Oil prices spike to record $117.40 a barrel after attack on Japanese oil tanker off Yemen