DrumBeat: April 26, 2008

UK: It’s time to relocalise our lives

FACED WITH panic at the pumps, Alex Salmond was absolutely right to urge people to behave sensibly and responsibly, by cutting out non-essential trips, and using public transport. But he should have added: "Get used to it", because we urgently need to realise that this isn't just a one-off.

While we fret about filling the tank to visit family this weekend, or get to work this coming week, an infinitely more serious, long-term fuel problem is creeping up on us.

This dispute is simply a taster of more shortages in the pipeline, and the sooner we make permanent, structural changes to the way we live to take account of it, the better.

Environmental Cost of Shipping Groceries Around the World

Under longstanding trade agreements, fuel for international freight carried by sea and air is not taxed. Now, many economists, environmental advocates and politicians say it is time to make shippers and shoppers pay for the pollution, through taxes or other measures.

Australia: Economy shifts into low gear

ANZ chief economist Saul Eslake says he does not subscribe to the "peak oil" theory but is concerned that supply is not keeping up with demand, meaning prices will remain high and could even go higher.

The International Energy Agency estimates that global demand or oil grew by 1 million barrels a day last year, while supply remained flat. This year the agency expects demand to grow by 1.7 million to 87.6 million barrels a day.

Much of that demand is coming from the booming economies of India and China, the latter of which has gone from a net oil exporter to a net importer as its thirst for the black liquid grows to fuel economic expansion.

Why The Chinese Are Getting Richer But Not Happier

Data examined in a new study to be published in the Journal of Happiness Studies highlights a striking paradox in the expanding Chinese economy. While the Chinese are getting richer, they don't seem to be getting happier - in fact they're getting more unhappy. This paradox may have much to teach other expanding societies about the perils of financial inequality.

For Many, Thrift Shops Are a Wardrobe Essential

According to the National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops, the industry is growing at a rate of 5 percent a year. And as the prices of gasoline and groceries edge higher and debt — be it mortgage or credit card — weighs more heavily, saving money on clothes, shoes and household goods has become increasingly essential for many people.

The Oil And Gas Industry Appeals Government To Avert Strike At Grangemouth Refinery

(RTTNews) - The oil and gas industry has appealed the government to mediate in the industrial dispute at Grangemouth, Scotland's only refinery. Oil and Gas UK has urged its ministers to act to avoid further interruption to production.

Mobil Nigeria union leader: Shutdown complete, strike to continue

IBADAN, Nigeria (MarketWatch) -- The strike by workers at Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, or MPN, entered its third day Saturday with the complete shutdown of the company's oil, condensate and gas production, a senior union leader told Dow Jones Newswires.

"All production by Mobil has been shut down. We achieved zero production as of 3 p.m. local time (1400 GMT) on Friday, and there is no attempt to reopen production," George-Olumoroti Olusola, Mobil branch chairman of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, or Pengassan, said Saturday.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison: Undoing America's Ethanol Mistake

The Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman once said, "One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results."

When Congress passed legislation to greatly expand America's commitment to biofuels, it intended to create energy independence and protect the environment.

But the results have been quite different. America remains equally dependent on foreign sources of energy, and new evidence suggests that ethanol is causing great harm to the environment.

Oman drilling firm explores use of bacteria to increase oil production

Muscat: Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) is exploring the possibility of using naturally occurring bacteria to increase oil production at its wells in the sultanate, the company's managing director John Malcolm said.

High gas costs fuel energy debate

With gas prices hitting record highs nearly every day, the major presidential candidates tangled yesterday over energy policy.

Barack Obama said that Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and presumptive Republican nominee John McCain are part of a Washington establishment that has failed to stand up to oil companies. McCain and the Republican National Committee are accusing Obama of flip-flopping on the idea of suspending the federal gas tax to help consumers. And Clinton is bashing Obama for voting for an energy bill that included tax breaks for oil companies.

More than half Nigeria's oil output shut due to strike, attacks

LONDON (MarketWatch) -- Roughly 58% of Nigeria's oil pumping capacity remained shut Saturday following an ongoing oil worker's strike and a series of recent militant attacks on energy infrastructure in Africa's biggest crude producing nation.

How to cultivate a 'green mortgage'

Brian Berg, vice president for corporate communications at ShoreBank in Chicago, says consumers can save up to 45 percent off their monthly utility bills with an investment of just a few thousand dollars.

"This is why when someone comes to us for a mortgage or home improvement loan, we talk to them about how adding a ‘green’ element to their request might make more financial sense over the long run," says Joel Freehling, ShoreBank’s manager of "triple bottom line innovation."

How to spend it: A region awash with oil money has one or two clouds on the horizon

Almost a fifth of the UAE's native population suffers from diabetes, a rate second only to Nauru's. Next come three fellow members of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC)—Saudi Arabia (16.7%), Bahrain (15.2%) and Kuwait (14.4%).

The ailment is one unhappy consequence of the region's economic transformation. Before 1961, Abu Dhabi lacked even a paved road. Since then, it has enjoyed a startling transition from pearling to petroleum, from souk to mall and from sand to glass. This prosperity has bought a sedentary lifestyle and a sugary diet, which may have triggered a genetic predisposition to diabetes among Arabs. In the neighbouring emirate of Dubai shoppers are invited to enrol in “Mall Walkers”, a power-walking club that promises to give more than your credit card a workout.

Diabetes is a useful metaphor for the Gulf's present problems. The region's economies are struggling to absorb petrodollars, accumulating like glucose in the bloodstream. The risk they face is the economic equivalent of renal failure: inflation, a hollowing-out of the non-oil sector, and a young, growing workforce in chronic need of outside labour to supplement it.

Gasoline could hit $7 a gallon in four years: CIBC

Crude supplies are actually lower than some official estimates indicate, while demand is unlikely to fall anytime soon, according to a statement by analysts led by Jeff Rubin at CIBC, an investment bank. They forecast that these tighter supplies and continued strong demand will drive oil and gasoline prices to roughly double their current levels by 2012.

"It is increasingly clear that the outlook for oil supply signals a period of unprecedented scarcity," said Rubin. "Despite the recent record jump in oil prices, oil prices will continue to rise steadily over the next five years."

A world agricultural bank?

Presently there is no way out for a country which has a shortage of food and cannot supplement the same with imports. The problem is more acute when the product is rare, like pulses which are grown by a few countries. This situation should sow the seeds of the idea of establishing a world agricultural bank (WAB) which can respond appropriately in times of crisis.

UK: We've become a nation of bulimics

Just how decadent is a society that can purge itself of decent food? The estimated £800 rise in a family's annual grocery bill could be more than absorbed by eliminating waste and reviving respect for food, eroded by decades of cheap produce.

Gas station loses 1,500 gallons to thieves

It was a somewhat surprising heist, considering that gasoline theft in the United States typically has been limited to people siphoning modest amounts out of parked vehicles and storage tanks or driving off without paying. But at a time when gas has surpassed $4 a gallon, larger-scale theft has been increasing.

The crime cost retailers $122 million in 2006. It jumped to $134 million in 2007, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores.

Canada: Ethanol fit for road

Environment Minister John Baird will continue to drive his ethanol-powered car despite a growing outcry that the demand for corn-based fuel is contributing to the world food shortage.

Baird also defended his government's policy on biofuels, which last year promised $1.5 billion in subsidies to producers who make fuel from corn, grain and other feedstock.

Fuel crisis obliges Gazans to invent alternatives

The bicycle business is booming in the Gaza Strip in the of wake of the fuel crisis, according to dealers.

"The fuel crisis is definitely having a major influence, as more and more people turn to cycling," said Mohammed al-Soussi, owner of a bicycle shop. "I'm battling to get new bicycles," al-Soussi said, complaining that he cannot get parts from outside because of the blockade imposed on Gaza.

Vegans Kill to Drive Cars and Have Sex in a Dystopian Future

The aptly-named Blood Car is a near-future tale about peak oil and bloodthirsty vegans. Gasoline is so expensive that it takes almost 500 bucks to fill your tank, and most cars have been abandoned in vast "car graveyards." Archie is a nice vegan guy who wants to help the world by creating the first engine that runs on wheatgrass — but instead, he accidentally invents an engine that runs on human blood.

Fear not, Canada will get through it

Let's not panic. Society has undergone seismic shifts in the past. We have adapted. We will again.

Given $200-a-barrel oil, the 100-mile diet suddenly gets a lot more practical. Rail transport, on a massive scale, comes back into vogue. Hybrid cars shift from being a niche product, to being a mass-market one.

Backyard vegetable gardens are niche interests in Canada now. They weren't always. In wartime most Canadian backyards had a little plot for growing potatoes and other staples. If food prices go high and stay high, these will become common once again.

Supply, demand and dollar are driving gasoline prices

During the summer, television networks don’t seem to discriminate in airing re-runs. The miserable shows get re-aired along with the good ones. Washington seems to have the same mindset when it comes to policy reruns. Failed policies are as likely to be reinstituted as successful ones. Case in point: petroleum regulation and the ‘‘windfall profits’’ tax.

Protest in Mexico's Congress over Pemex oil bill ends

MEXICO CITY -- President Felipe Calderon's proposal to overhaul Mexico's oil industry has revealed a rift in the rival Democratic Revolution Party, with leaders arguing over how to respond to the initiative.

On Friday, after days of talks between party moderates and self-described "radicals," the PRD ended a two-week blockade of Congress that had prevented discussion of Calderon's proposed changes.

Energy crisis forces India to join Iran gas pipeline project

ISLAMABAD: Differences between Pakistan and India over the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project were resolved on Friday and the two countries agreed to start work on laying pipelines next year for procuring gas from Iran by December 2012.

Talks between the two countries to resolve the differences, mainly relating to transit fee and transportation tariff, failed in June last year, putting the $7.5 billion ‘peace pipeline’ project into cold storage. But the current energy crisis and spiralling oil prices brought them back to the table.

Baltic nuke plant criticized

MOSCOW (UPI) -- Russian plans to build a nuclear power plant in the Kaliningrad Region have provoked protests from Europeans concerned about environmental and radiological safety.

The plant is intended to ensure the Baltic enclave's energy security. Russian physicist Anatoly Zrodnikov once said, "The world is now not ruled by the dollar or the euro, but by the joule."

Chernobyl tragedy has not prevented nuclear renaissance

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) - The Chernobyl nuclear power plant must have a new confinement shelter for its 4th reactor, which exploded on April 26, 1986.

The old shelter was built hastily, in emergency conditions when robots went mad but people continued to work. It sufficed in the short term, but time and severe weather conditions have weakened it. The new confinement will be safe for 100 years.

Canada: National crisis hits home

The brothers say they’re caught in the centre of the “perfect storm.” Canadian hog producers can’t compete against the big U.S. corporations that are trouncing local farmers and flooding the market under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

They’ve suffered years of financial losses. Economic conditions have been crushing farmers since 2004, said Jan Binnendyk, the father.

The rising Canadian dollar and the escalating cost of feed is killing their business.

Thailand wants Opec-like cartel for rice

BANGKOK: With the rice price soaring in tandem with the skyrocketing oil price, Thailand’s largest enterprise has call on the government to form an Opec-like alliance on rice to elevate its price.

Raymond J. Learsy: The New York Times' Hidden Hand On Oil's Agenda

If ever a commentator on a given issue is freighted with prescribed points of view the New York Times' reporter Jad Mouawad would be a standout candidate for the oil patch's "golden goose" award for espousing the preprogrammed pieties that are wont to make us continue our soporific acceptance of the greatest heist, and transfer of wealth in human history. Where there are arguments to be contrived and oil patch rationalizations to excuse the heist inherent in today's oil prices or to explain them away, leave it to the New York Times and Mouwad to convey the imprimatur of what once passed for serious journalism to this greatest of all con games.

Strange times

What a puzzling time to be alive. In the world that surrounds us, beauty and the comforting familiarity of seasonal rhythms. The ospreys have returned from West Africa and are putting on a grand fishing display in Findhorn Bay.

...And yet, news carried on the wind speaks of melting ice, food riots and starvation and, closer to home, fuel strikes and long queues and fights at the petrol stations. Meanwhile, oil expert Matt Simmons declares it to be entirely feasible that petrol will rise in price to $300 a barrel within the next five years.

How much your groceries will cost in 10 years

The general picture is that most items will go up, some more significantly than others. With oil at $117 a barrel and rising, so are the costs rising of the three Fs of farming: feed, fuel and fertiliser. “We're in a unique situation in which numerous problems are coming together,” says Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at City University. We're not just facing rising oil prices and water shortages, but the changing dietary habits of the developing world as it becomes richer, combined with land being used to provide crops for fuel rather than food, and climate change bringing drought to countries such as Australia.

Food vs fuel: Let free markets work

Co-warriors and peak oil theorists always knew biofuel is all about politics. But the unintended consequence of alternative energy is now making politicians wonder what biofuel is all about. The answers they offer will decide the future of ‘green’ fuels — whether made from maize, rapeseed, wheat, sugar cane or palm oil.

Offshore Oil Discoveries in Brazil to End Middle East Supremacy?

The position taken by Strategic Forecasting’s Zeihan is based on the belief that Brazil will be pumping “several million” barrels of crude daily by 2020, but an increase of 1-1.5 million bpd in crude oil production is just a drop in the ocean. At present, the Gulf region transports about 17-18 million bpd to world markets. Total global demand at that time is predicted to be about 112-115 million bpd, with around 55-60 million bpd produced by OPEC to counter lower production in other regions.

FACTBOX - Key issues in Japan-Russia relations

Russia is building an oil pipeline that will eventually link fields in eastern Siberia to the energy-hungry markets of the Far East and the Pacific basin.

There is competition between Japan and China over which will receive the lion's share of crude from the pipeline.

$200 a barrel oil? $75 is more likely

Hang on to your hats as oil shoots above $200 a barrel over the next few years, warns a new forecast from a leading Canadian economist. But wait. Another warns to watch out for your Canadian stock portfolio as oil and other commodities drop sharply in the coming year.

Who's right? Nobody knows for sure, since both have good credentials. (And of course, it's well worth remembering that any forecast is inherently risky. If this were easy, we'd all be rich.)

Petrol crisis ‘a taste of future’

A DUNDEE environmental expert last night predicted that the present fuel crisis which has seen queues at filling stations and pumps running dry provides a gloomy taste of the future.

Philip Jenkins, natural resources management lecturer at Abertay University, said the western lifestyle was unsustainable because of excessive energy consumption.

He said there is growing evidence that if present energy consumption and climate change continue, it would represent a threat to society.

Oil: Is oil headed to $200 per barrel?

HOUSTON — Oil’s meteoric rise to near $120 a barrel looks like more than just another economic bubble — growing demand and tighter supplies are likely to keep prices high. Some analysts say even $200 a barrel would not be out of the question.

The latest price surge — pushing crude to record heights in recent weeks, and to nearly double its level a year ago — has some key components of a classic bubble, when market prices climb far above their intrinsic value. The burst comes when investors realize the assets are overvalued.

But growing worldwide thirst for crude, in large part from the rapidly developing economies of China and India, means frustrated consumers probably won’t get any relief.

Aramco to boost drilling, investments

Saudi Aramco is preparing a plan to boost drilling activity by a third and increase investments by 40 percent, the London-based magazine reported, citing sources close to the state firm.

...Aramco will bolster the number of wells drilled around the kingdom to 248, compared with an initial target of 187 and investment on projects will be increased to $13.7 billion from $10.7 billion under the draft plan, the magazine reported.

North Sea oil and gas pipeline set to close over strike

LONDON (AFP) - A North Sea pipeline which supplies around 40 percent of Britain's oil and gas will shut down within the next 24 hours because of a strike by refinery workers, operator BP said Saturday.

...The pipeline cannot function without electricity and steam generated by the refinery, which has already closed ahead of the strike Sunday and Monday.

U.S. Sides With Oil Firms, Not Libya's Victims

At the moment, the Bush administration is asking Congress to exempt Libya from a four-month-old law passed to help victims of terrorism collect court judgments from the nations that sponsored the attacks.

How Big Oil got bigger - and befuddled the pundits

The ratcheting up in the cost of oil and gas should have driven up inflation and led to a switch to alternative fuel sources. Instead, oil companies have recorded the highest ever profits in corporate history as demand continues to outstrip supply. In the process, the industry has reconsidered its strategy to plan for an era of high prices.

Iraqi pipeline fire 'accidental'

A fire which broke out at an Iraqi oil pipeline south of Baghdad injuring at least eight security guards was accidental, the US military has said.

The fire, near the town of Iskandiriya, disrupted the flow of crude oil to refineries in the south of Iraq. The military said it had been contained.

UK: Rice Rationed As Price Rockets 60% In A Year

The soaring price of food ­yesterday forced some British wholesalers to ration supplies of rice to try to prevent panic buying.

Goodbye SUV, hello small cars

Now owners of SUVs and other gas guzzlers who've seen the price of a fill-up climb sharply are getting a second shock when they try to trade in their behemoths. Used car dealers don't want the big vehicles on their lots anymore because hardly anyone is buying them. Some won't take them at any price.

Small cars are now the largest segment of the U.S. auto market, accounting for 18% of new car sales. Last year, U.S. consumers bought a record 2.8 million of them, and with sales up 4% in the first quarter this year, the record almost surely will be shattered.

Canadian panel: Climate change is threat to polar bears

OTTAWA - A scientific committee that advises Canada's government on endangered species said Friday that climate change is a threat to the survival of the polar bear, but the species does not face extinction.

Narwhals more at risk to Arctic warming than polar bears

WASHINGTON - The polar bear has become an icon of global warming vulnerability, but a new study found an Arctic mammal that may be even more at risk to climate change: the narwhal.

The narwhal, a whale with a long spiral tusk that inspired the myth of the unicorn, edged out the polar bear for the ranking of most potentially vulnerable in a climate change risk analysis of Arctic marine mammals.

What’s the deal with the “some new” tags under the story headers for the main TOD page? As someone who is stuck with slow dialup for my internet service - being in a very rural area - I only re-check stories if it is worth taking up valuable time for the page to load, let’s say twenty or more new posts.

SuperG discovered that those counters were sucking up an extraordinary amount of resources. There's ten stories on the front page, and every time someone accesses the front page, it has to search the database to produce the counts for each of those ten stories.

This will help the site run faster for everyone...including those on dial-up. If the number of comments is really that important, you can probably keep track of it yourself, either on paper or in your head. That's what I was doing yesterday, when SuperG turned off the "new comments" altogether on the front page for awhile.

I have noticed better initial load times and generally better overall performance.

Thanks SuperG!


Leanan, I don't know if it is practicable with the software on this sites, but a really nice feature on some is that you can press a 'Next New' button and go straight to that part of the thread.
Is this practical here?

Look for new] is the nearest I've managed...

... mine's the one with the 5 litre green petrol can.

Dave, you can do it here. Just click on "Edit" then "Find in This Page". Then in the "Find" box type in a bracket ([) then "new" exactly as it appears at the top of each new post.

You can do next new or previous new.

Thanks for the tip!
-But I am not finding the 'Edit' button other than on my comments - could you give me any more guidance? Thanks!

He probably means the browser's "edit" menu. Then, "find in page" or something like that in the menu should give you a box in which to enter the search text.

yeah, that works fine - I thought he meant in the Oil Drum menus! Cheers

ctrl + f = find...then search on [n....once you get to the new post, you will need to click your cursor in the text of the post and then click Next on the Find window.

I guess I'm the odd man out but I see not showing the number of new posts as negative. I understand slow dial up speeds - our landline was 2-4k until we went to a "high speed" wireless carrier with all of 20-40k.

Given the number of posts these days, I don't even take the time to look unless there a quite a few new posts. Granted, I could figure out how to use the edit stuff...but going through that takes time too...and I still wouldn't know how many posts were new.

Sorry, count me out.


I'm with Todd and Bruce from Chicago; even with broadband, I don't like scrolling through a lengthy series of posts for a handful of originals. And not all of us are techies capable of using the edit stuff without having to deal with an obnoxious learning curve.

Antoinetta III

Nothing 'techie' about it, Antoinetta - I just didn't think of using the browser to search.
In your browser, Internet Explorer or Firefox, go to the top left of the screen, and click on where it says 'Edit'
You will now get up a box in IE, or a bar at the bottom of the screen in Firefox, which will say 'Find in this page'
Type in [NEW] and bress the button.
You are there!
All you then need to do is press the 'Next' box to go to the next new.

Ye gods and little fishies. I didn't realize there were people searching for new posts by scrolling. Don't do that. Big waste of time. Use your browser's search function. Every browser has one. There's no learning curve at all, I promise. It's easy. And knowing how to do it will help you on your web travels everywhere, not just here. It works just like in your word-processing software. A monkey could do it.

Heck, that's why I prefer reading things on the web to reading things on paper. I miss the search function on paper.

I didn't realize there were people searching for new posts by scrolling.

On a bigger screen, the blue colorshift + scroll works for me.

Otherwise yes, using the browser search works fine.

Asking for all features to be done at the TOD server is like asking the feds to do things VS the citizens doing things.

I am for it. Perhaps I will now be able to access TOD on my BlackBerry. Before, it would always freeze up.

If you turn off javascript on your blackberry before accessing TOD, it should work.

Yes. I have Javascript turned off for TOD, too, or pages load very slowly and I get a ton of error messages. Basically, with Javascript blocked, all you lose is the ability to collapse subthreads. The site, IME, runs much better with Javascript blocked.

I will also add that searching for {new} flags works a lot better with Firefox than with IE. IE has that dopey popup window that blocks part of the screen. Firefox has a discreet box in the bottom of the window. You can leave it up all the time, and never blocks your view. Much more convenient.

I'd really rather not go to the "next new" button concept. I've found sites that use that are buggier than a picnic in July, and we have enough problems.

Scotty was right. The more complicated the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain.

I note that the number of "new" messages is back.

Thanks to whomever. I hope it stays.


It's not back for me. The number of new posts displays once you're in the thread in question, but not on the front page.

I did, however, forward your complaint to SuperG.

Has the old paper on the design of Slashdot with the squid proxies in front and the database on the back end been looked at (in case the budget allows for many boxes)?

That would give a throughput boost with just config of proxies and tossing money VS actually profiling code and trying to redo code trees.

The editors are trying to appeal to us masses, the count is one, two, three, many!

About that article '200 Dollar Oil or 75 Dollar Oil', if oil were to slightly drop on current prices, or even remain steady, I would imagine that would have a negative effect on the Canadian market and possibly a steadying effect below the border? Any bets on how oil prices go this next year?

Rappelez, gardez votre boodle!

the count is one, two, three, many!

Or to us trolls on Discworld.

Who's right? Nobody knows for sure, since both have good credentials.

Ah, yes, so being right is determined by credentials rather than the argument made. This is how the media works.

It's much easier to go by credentials than actually thinking about the arguments or the data.

"for every expert there is an equal and opposite expert"

Arthur C. Clark

From the same article uptop:

Rubin's (argument) depends rather heavily on a belief that the lessons of history just don't apply today. . . Eventually demand will taper off as prices become unbearable for some consumers, while supply will increase as producers seek to take advantage of the big new profits available.

Of course, as I have shown several times, many post-peak regions, e.g., Texas & the North Sea, have shown declining production in response to higher prices, so what happens when the Saudi Arabia and the world are at the same stages of depletion at which Texas & the North Sea peaked? So, the lessons of history do apply.

What we are left with is the rate of increase in unconventional oil production versus the rate of decline in conventional production--while net oil exports show an accelerating decline rate.

With regards to the demand destruction portion of the argument, it is well worth bearing in mind the following:

US gasoline prices? Still waaaay cheaper than India.

Matt Simmons noted back in 2005 that when he was visiting Nairobi, Kenya, the roads were choked with traffic with fairly poor quality gasoline going for the equivalent of $5 per gallon.

He likely also noted that only the rare vehicle was not choked with passengers.

Israeli invention could pave way for hydrogen cars


"Our company's breakthrough is in accumulating hydrogen in a glass material that is very small, only a few microns," said Stern, who is also president of Environmental Energy Resources (EER), a waste treatment company. "You don't need to transport hydrogen to fuel stations, and you don't need pipelines. The tanks will be like a battery that can be replaced, and you can carry a reserve in the car." When you run out of hydrogen in one tank, according to Stern, you just pull out the empty cell and put in the fresh one, which will be good for another 370 miles.

Doesn't change the basic fact. Hydrogen is not a fuel, but an energy transport. Hence it will take more energy to make the hydrogen than you get out of it.

This just shows the desperation we are in. I even get emails of how one can use water to get energy to run your car. You just change the HOH to HHO and it burns!!! People will grasp at any straws once things get tight.

Hydrogen is not a fuel, but an energy transport.

True, but this is one piece of the puzzle, and could solve the storage issue. Find a cheap way to create the hydrogen and then we have something. (from solar, from electrolysis from bussard fusion, from some biological process, etc).

Your post sure shows how little you understand about energy. There's not going to be any way to "create" hydrogen. The hydrogen is produced by separating the hydrogen from some molecule, such as H2O, using lots of energy. Nobody yet knows a way to do this separation without using more energy than is may be contained in the resulting H2. What you are saying is that you are betting the farm on some mysterious source of energy which will be less expensive to produce than that which we know how to do today. We've been working on the problem in labs around the world for decades, yet, there's no easy, cheap solution in sight and the cost of the various alternatives are very much related to the cost of the fossil energy sources required to build them. Don't hold your breath waiting.

E. Swanson

True, but we not only have an energy problem but a liquid fuels problem. We have a lot of promising ways of producung electricity, but nothing which can drive heavy vehicles like lorrys and farm equipment, which are essential for society to function.
If we can find an efficiant way of storing Hydrogen to enable it to drive essential transport it will be worth the energy loss.

The best way to store H is in the form of metal hydrides which are heavy. (Compressed H2 in a vehicle makes for a rolling bomb.) Accelerating that weight cuts efficiency. H fuel cells are better adapted to stationary applications. Then again, the energy used for hydrolysis is better used directly. I see little utility to H as a fuel source other then limited storage apps, perhaps fuel cells in remote places, etc.

The easiest ways for storing hydrogen and using it as wehicle fuel is to use it to upgrade heavy oil in the current refineries, add it to the raw material stream when gasifying biogas before syntetisizing methanol, diesel or methane or lov level mix it with natural gas or biogas used as wehicle fuel.

Our current technological infrastructure can utilize massive ammounts of hydrogen and hydrogen use can be increased rapidly withouth building hydrogen cars with hydrogen tanks. The trouble is to get the cheap electricity and finding a good use for the surplus O2 like running a biomass gasifier.

So by your logic, batteries were a pretty useless invention. They haven't helped the ability to use energy efficiently at all. I don't think you'd want a diesel powered ipod.

no, it's just that according to previous postings there is unlikely to be built a battery capable of driving heavy vehicles like the ones I mentioned. They will be fine for cars but will not scale up easily. As vital transport consists of heavy vehicles we need another angle. Hence hydrogen. The only alternative is coal to oil, and you wouldn't want that would you?

> The only alternative is coal to oil

Nope. Electrified rail, electric buses. Current technology that works.

Can in move essential supplies when there are no power lines? to every mall and hospital?. Can batteries power heavy agricultural machinery? I doubt it.

Zinc being oxidised will do it.
Not well, but it will do it.

Can the present heavy metal work without oil? Or roads?

How about a different question - Is there any other choice beyond MontyQuests' Powerdown option?

Do we, as humans, expect to have the heavy machines?

Me, I'm waiting for the 'central resource planning' of, oh say, Adjenda 21 to kick in.

We all pretty much share the essential assumption here Eric that oil and probably gas are just about peaking, and that that will have severe disruptive consequences.

How severe the consequences of that will be is unclear to me, at any rate, as it partly depends on what actions are taken,and also on how well we use what are very rapidly developing technologies.

I am not quite clear about what you mean by heavy metal, unless it is a rock band! - but presuming that you mean heavy machinery then the answer appears to be that yes, we can run things with alternatives, although for some uses a lot less efficiently.

There is also no reason why we should not have roads, as they can be built out of concrete, although we might not be able to afford so many of them.

For a start, we will not just suddenly run out of all oil, so some should be available for uses where it cannot be substituted.

It is also entirely unclear what future energy costs will be - First Solar has recently released very encouraging figures for solar power at just over $1/watt:

Or for those of us who don't mind nuclear power using figures based on the build in Finland we could build perhaps 125 reactors a year for perhaps $80 per person worldwide.

Your putting the alternatives in such stark terms, obviously assuming that there is only one possible answer to your questions, and that in the negative, is in fact dependent on a gestalt which you have put together in your own mind of outcomes, what you feel will be the breakdown of financial institutions and so on.

You may be right, I don't know, but there is also the possibility that you have missed something, and outcomes will be very different.

Personally I am agnostic on most outcomes which are not clear and first order consequences of fossil fuels running short, and simply try to see how all resources can be best marshalled to cope with what will be an admittedly very difficult situation.

Can the present heavy metal work without oil? Or roads?

Yes. See the building of the Trans-Continental railroads in the USA in the 19th Centuries and the Trans-Siberian Railroad.

A few paved (usually bricks or cobblestones) streets in the cities, but not universal there.


Can in move essential supplies when there are no power lines?

The 1930s Rural Electrification Administration pretty well solved that issue in the USA. 99.999% of the the
"essential supplies" need in the USA are within, at worst, battery range of grid electricity.

The only alternative is *NOT* coal to liquids or hydrogen. Battery delivery trucks are extremely viable for several miles. (Battery milk trucks were once common in the UK I believe). Batteries actually work better in larger vehicles.

Put EVERY warehouse on a rail spur, even if the rails go down the middle of a "busy street" as was once done.

Run trolley freight outside rush hours on streetcar lines.

Ammonia and methanol can be generated seasonally with surplus wind, geothermal, solar, etc. power. Run farm machinery on ammonia and methanol or ammonia for "hard cases" like fishing boats.

Hydrogen is a loser. I mean GWB endorsed it in a State of the Union speech. What more proof do you need that that it is a useless deadend ?

Best Hopes for JazzFest :-)


to every mall

We do not need malls. Retail space per capita in ISA is up by about x10 since 1950, and we are roughly x8 retail space per capita in EU.

*TOO* much space to light, heat, cool, too remote from walkable neighborhoods, etc.

As private autos die for lack of gasoline, malls will close one by one. Perhaps enough energy saved to run my electrified railroads :-)


Malls may not continue in their present form, but we will still need alternatives for anything in the least bit unusual. One possibility is on-line and mail order sales. Local grocery stores will continue to stock basics: bread, coffee, margarine, meat, canned veggies. However, things like tools, books, toiletries, fabrics, electrical supplies and electronics, are likely to remain too diverse to be stocked within walkable range. Given body sizes and tastes, pre-made clothing will probably also remain in this category.

I imagine even greater consolidation, from "big box store" to "ridiculously huge box store". One reason is that the cost of heating these stores would rise proportional to surface area, not volume. Lighting is also easier in a large single-floor store (either skylights or metal halide work well), as compared to a typical multi-story building. Also, fewer employees per unit of merchandise are needed.

People may only go shopping once or twice a month, and they may not buy as much, so hours may be limited (say, 2pm to 8pm, several days a week). And I do expect that these box stores will be at the end of bus or electric streetcar lines (for the city people), and rail lines (for incoming merchandise).

It may be pessimistic of me, but I suspect that the difficulty of getting merchandise into the downtown area may prevent local businesses from thriving (older cities like New Orleans might be an exception, due to their remaining/antique/leftover rail-oriented infrastructure).

Designing one great big store right off of a railway spur just seems logistically simpler than re-engineering the infrastructure of a city grown during the Oil age.

Don't you guys in the States have home delivery from the stores?

Here in the UK you can get them to bring it round, and they are switching to electric trucks to do so.

Costs are around £5 for an order, but since most have cars the system probably costs more than if most used it.

It is difficult to predict the exact changes of changes in Urban form post-Peak Oil, and the results may well differ by locality.

I think the general trends are clear, including reduced retail space.

I disagree with your vision, but I cannot say definitely that it is wrong. I suspect that you will be right in a few cases.

Best Hopes for New, More Efficient Urban Forms,


Living in different locations tends to generate different perspectives.
Much denser urban conditions here make transport in general much less of an issue, and your vision of urban trains is also easier and cheaper.
Even plumbers here used to walk and carry their own tools in a bag over their shoulders - darn heavy though! - and we are not talking about ancient history now, but of guys in their fifties who did that when they started out.
My own situation would not be that a-typical.
Within a couple of hundred yards of my house I have several small stores, and around half a mile away I have a major supermarket, with the next nearest being around a mile away.
Deliveries from either cost around £5, but sometimes they give discounts for larger orders.
Buses run around every half hour to the city centre, but they are expensive, around £4 for a return to the centre which is around two miles away, and getting to non-central locations can be difficult.
Petrol costs around $8gal, but even if it were twice or three times as expensive I would still run a car, but just do lower mileage, as that is easy enough.
A light rail system would certainly work well and be popular.
All those conditions, whilst perhaps similar to New Orleans, are radically different to conditions in many US and Australian suburbs, and transport is much more problematic there, but supposing the finances are available the costs of adaption would be trivial compared to the costs of abandoning vast areas of the suburbs.
My personal preference for those areas would certainly be for denser living and more walkable environments, - the parts of estates here which vaguely follow the US model in a poor-man's version are quite hideous- but presumably that could be achieved to some extent simply by tending to build additional housing as an in-fill rather than further expansion.

...the costs of adaption would be trivial compared to the costs of abandoning vast areas of the suburbs.

Perhaps this is the point of disagreement. I think the costs of operating (day to day) and maintaining Suburbia (at least the poorly built USA version) is greater than the cost of starting over with Transit Orientated Development.

The answer may differ by locality. Boston certainly has a viable set of suburbs supported by commuter rail, as one contra-example.

Best Hopes for Positive Changes,


I am not even sure that we have any substantial disagreement at all.
My personal preference would be for our own massive out of town malls to die, or at least be re-built to give precedence to pedestrians rather than the car, with underground car-parks and an old-town walkable environment rather than the present situation where you need to drive from store to store within the same shopping complex.
I don't know how it will pan out though, and I do tend to think that present systems will be remarkably resilient, and we appear to have much of the technology needed to pretty much carry on, albeit with some cut-backs.

This is a little off-topic but maybe its close enough to ask.

A friend of mine tells me Jerry Dunfree of Channel 7 news ( Los Angeles, California ) ran a news segment a few years ago on someone who had run a car from the East Coast to Los Angeles on nothing but water - using some form of magnetic "cracking" the hydrogen-oxygen bonds to produce the hydrogen that was used as fuel.

He goes on to tell me that the powers that be jumped all over Jerry and had him remove all reports and threatened to close down the station if thay ever mentioned this again, as this represented a threat to the existing international political power structure.

Needless to say, I am 99.9 (with gazillions of nines following ) confident that the concept is invalid, but not convinced that such a thing would get aired on the news.

I do not recall ever seeing such a thing. Did anyone else see this?

Sounds like the 'watergas' work of the fringe of science. I posted some general comments about fringe work here early in my reading on this board.

Basically, everyone got on my case. Course most were just opinions. Of those that said they had the background to evaluate objectively couldn't because they had a lifetime of experience of NOT doing it that way and 'Look at all our technology !'

As I understand it, it all comes down to symmetrical designs (our technology) vs asymmetrical designs (the fringe). The core work involves the works of Dirac, Heaviside, Maxwell, Lee (Nobel Laureate) and Tesla for starters.

In general a good keyword search to get started is 'source charge problem”. But if you want to jump straight in to the deep stuff, try 'watergas'. This area is rife with scamsters, and similar. To play on a phrase, 'it's the bleeding edge”.

A better term would be, "On the tinfoil edge".

We're going to see a LOT of scams as things get tighter.


Its amazing how knowing just one key phrase... "source charge problem" will unlock a wealth of articles from Google.

Although I find their research quite interesting, I remain firmly convinced that any "perpetual energy machine" - if it CAN be built, will show up all over the internet as quick as the codes needed to decrypt a DVD - and spread just as fast.

People will construct and verify this works in droves, and if I need any convincing, there is sure to be someone nearby who built a working model, just as there are plenty of people nearby who can share a DVD with me, thanks to Norwegian DVD-Jon. I would think its impossible to keep such a thing under wraps. Heck, even if it only could make enough energy to keep itself running, people would share plans on how to build it in droves - even if they built it only as a laboratory curiosity.

Show me where someone has patent protection on a working reproducible model and I will invest in it. Otherwise, trying to beat around the bush and make undemonstrated claims is something I would expect from P.T Barnum ("There's a sucker born every minute" - circus sideshow scam fame ).

I do not want to close my mind to "outside the box" thinking, but at the same time, I do not want to expend my resources on foolish endeavors.

I have seen countless "Newman Motors", "Energy from the Vacuum", Steorn Technologies, and the like that remind me more of overoptimistic investment advice to targeted gullible investors than science.

Pffft. We've discussed to death the shortcomings of hydrogen, the first point being that you won't find any hydrogen wells this side of Jupiter. The current source of hydrogen is natural gas -- as methane is modified to make plastic and other chemical feedstocks, hydrogen is a byproduct. It won't be cheap any more in a fossil fuel constrained future.

And if you're planning to employ electrolysis (or some variant thereof), it's much much more efficient to just store electricity in a rechargeable cell and run your car off that.

Lower pollution and less money for OPEC -- hydrogen sounds tailormade for the fuel problems that ail us. While Bill Gates of Microsoft fame may have been right when he said, "If GM kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1,000 miles per gallon," the fact is that the industry says that hydrogen is still not ready for prime time.

Ha! If GM kept up with Microsoft, your car would crash twice a week for no particular reason and come pre-equipped with publicly accessible remote controls for the convenience of thieves and carjackers. Electronics has gotten cheaper thru miniaturization. To match that, GM would have to make cars the size of a dust mite. Not so useful for moving my fat, non-miniature ass around town.

The rest of the article is similar BS, they never really get into the details of their H2-storage mechanism. It just sounds like some Israeli doofus bilking investors.

Here's a nice sensible article from newsweek:

Should You Pay $6 Per Gallon?

...But America's top car dealer says what we really need in this country is high gas prices—something in the neighborhood of $6 a gallon—if we ever really want to tackle the critical issues of the day: global warming and our oil addiction. "The biggest lie in America politics today is to say you care deeply about global warming and advocate for the price of gas to go down," says Mike Jackson, CEO of the AutoNation car dealer chain. "Those are mutually exclusive concepts." ...

I care deeply about global warming but we MUST drill ANWR and, your Majesty, won't you PLEASE amp up oil production?


Maybe that should be a milestone for me, When do I have to pay more than $10 to fill up my bike? Right now, if it's down to the reserve, $7 fills it right up. I don't think the $10 Honda Rebel fill-up is that far off.

as a new owner of a rebel, i have to say that's a bargain compared to what i am paying on my 97 torus right now..

The hunting of polar bears

There are estimated to be at least 22,000 polar bears worldwide living in 20 discreet populations.
The general status of polar bears is currently stable, though there are differences between the populations. Some are stable, some seem to be increasing, and some are decreasing due to various pressures. The status of some populations is not well documented.


...both historically and currently, the main threat to polar bears remains over-hunting.

Yesterday in response to a Great White Shark Attack the minions of personal Security were out in force:


If people are going to trespass on areas that are the habitat of predators those predators are occasionally going to harvest a human or two.

remember, once a person steps foot in the ocean, that person could become part of the food chain!

Wow! Food hoarding now an investment strategy.
Saw this WSJ.online article last night on yahoo finance:


Since food inflation is outpacing what you can get on a CD, might as well invest your spare cash in canned goods, sacks of flour, and sides of beef. Though I can't imagine that panic buying will be the most helpful response to the food situation.

Things are getting oddly reminiscent of the 70s (remember toilet paper hoarding?). The news had tape of gas lines on the NJ Turnpike Thursday night. What worries me is that we are just in the early innings of peak oil and already may be facing an age of persistant scarcity.

There's some discussion of this story in Wednesday's DrumBeat. (It appeared in the WSJ on Wednesday.) Pretty amazing, coming from the WSJ.

Leanan, if that story came from the Socialist Review I would find that article amazing, but coming from the Wall Street Journal it's just more capitalist 'devil take the hindmost' talk.

Now if WSJ suggested growing one's own food in response to price increase, I would find that much much more than amazing and expect the world to end momentarily:)

Hello CrystalRadio,

Your quote: "Now if WSJ suggested growing one's own food in response to price increase..."

I believe we had an earlier weblinked post where a big investment fund manager advocated that his clients buy survival farms/lifeboats before it was too late; to do the same as Richard Rainwater did years ago.

I have posted before on going beyond the mere storage of food by also storing I-NPK and creating O-NPK by composting. This is the heart of my biosolar mission-critical thinking; to reduce high discount thinking and moving towards a low discount, future potential mindset. Of course, Nate Hagens expresses this mindshift much better than me.

Federal Reserve Banks of I-NPK and/or farmers joining up with I-NPK investors to stockpile a multiyear supply has also been explored by me in earlier postings [long ago postings advocated for Govt. legislation to force I-NPK storage programs]. When the frenzy erupts where everyone suddenly wants to grow veggies and they don't have sufficient O-NPK from compost pits: the mad dash for seeds, garden tools, wheelbarrows, and I-NPK at your local hardware/nursery store will be awesome to behold. Haved you hugged your bag of NPK today?

The only other option is to default to machete' moshpits, but any prior degree of paradigm shift is bound to help reduce the scale and duration of this violence. My Peak Outreach efforts are designed to help optimize our decline [and help protect other species, too] for a relatively smooth passage through the Dieoff Bottleneck. Balancing the conditions of 'operating by means' vs 'striving for ends' is no easy task. Asimov's Foundations could be a huge help, but evidence is very hard to find [of course, one of the primary concepts is that they are hidden]. Time will tell.

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

..but any prior degree of paradigm shift is bound to help reduce the scale and duration of this violence.

How can you be sure that planning ahead & being 'prepared' by stockpiling tools, fertilizer, etc., won't just make you a target of the violence? What's to keep those starving, jealous hordes from simply killing you & taking your stuff? You may be packed but so will they be and there's more of them.

Hello Darwinsdog,

Thxs for responding. Yep, no disagreement from me: the expected violence will be horrific, but the idea is to reduce the overall scale, duration, and intensity over time by leveraging towards biosolar habitats.

Recall my earlier post on Earthmarines protecting tall trees, at all costs, so very limited ship building is possible postPeak. This allows some oceanic trading and expanded shared capabilities towards relative sustainabilty. Inherent limits of biosolar logistics will effectively contrain cross-habitat geo-effects [think Nuahtl Tlamemes], but IMO, the postPeak transport of limited amounts of potash and phoshorus can do much to reduce violence; again, harnessing our innate territoriality for optimal decline.

IMO, it is important to remember that the work of all of us on TOD and other websites, books, other orgs, etc, basically constitutes the largest charity project in history. Most of us [and probably our offspring too] will never see the end result when the Overshoot is decimated, the Undershoot occurs next, then the next growth cycle begins, but if the biosolar base is larger than would normally be the case: then our efforts will not have been in vain.

The ArchDruid has discussed this briefly before on the natural transformation rate of seres, but I am trying to promote a more protective and accelerative program using Foundation principles. For example: the simple goal of protecting bees and bats from extinction--much better to have these critters around than not when all things are considered. My feeble two cents.

Hi totoneila,

I always look forward to your posts. Damnit man run for pres. wontcha. ;^) Second thought, don't. Rational thought will get ya buried.

I gotta say, though, I feel your statement concerning "but IMO, the postPeak transport of limited amounts of potash and phoshorus can do much to reduce violence; again, harnessing our innate territoriality for optimal decline." is buggin' me.

I don't think so. Don't mean to argue, but desperation breeds violence, and there aren't any crips or bloods that understand anything other than hunger. To be met at any cost. Any Cost. Transporting potash and phosphorus is worth the expended energy. True. Knowing what to do with it, and how to utilise it is even more so.

I'll set up a community of folks, who wouldn't know potash from phosphorus, and thrive based on very simple applications. You put a seed of some sort in dirt, and it will grow.



Hello Slinky,

Thxs for responding, but may I suggest you read some of my earlier postings, or google Liebig Law of the Minimum?

There are only two sources of NPK and no other Elemental Substitutes to fuel our soil:

1. Industrial-NPK [I-NPK]: Haber-Bosch natgas Nitrogen, or SCT's proposed windturbine/ammonia plants, plus mining of potash for Potassium, or phosphates for Phosphorus from ancient evaporites. Sulphur, and other trace mineral-Elements are critical for leveraging plant growth above a Liebig Minimum.

2. Organic-NPK [O-NPK]: mulches, composted kitchen scraps & yard clippings, manures, guanos, human & animal bonemeal, etc. The problem here is that they are bulky and generally less Elementally concentrated than I-NPK; much more difficult to transport for a positive ERoEI, but have great benefits for mulchiness and water-retention than I-NPK cannot provide. Soil mineral balance, tilth or mulchiness, and PH is crucial for encouraging micro-organism growth. Crop rotation can soil-fix Nitrogen, but adding O-NPK can further boost yields.

IMO, there will always be some residual of farmers. Yes, they may have to periodically burn their fields and slaughter most of their livestock, as has been done in the past to slow the advance of invaders, but they or their survivors will eventually return to plant again.

I never said it would be easy, clean, or non-violent, but a rough equilibrium tends to work itself out over time. Food surpluses are the only way to provide any degree of job specialization, and as Jay Hanson has earlier noted: there will always be a political liar promising a better future for all if he/she is somehow freed from the labors of working the land; those striving to become a parasite is a positive force to keep farming going. I hope my earlier postings on the Humanimal Ecosystem explained this phenomena.

If we ever forget how to be organic farmers [no matter how crude the method]; to be entropically forced back to a pure hunter-gatherer existence--it will be a random crapshoot to determine our chances for extinction.

What ho totoneila,

Enjoy your posts but when you say this about Organic NPK much more difficult to transport for a positive ERoEI I would reply why pack it some place when it is produced where one uses it? I have been a home gardener for many years without any recourse to any other than natural (organic) fertilizers and have done so on a variety of soils and conditions. If the soil is good (rare) then what is taken can be replaced on site. If the soil is poor it needs time, the use of larger plots or outright repair by bringing in those external amendments.

I think the thing needed, more than worrying too much about imputes right now, as important as that is, is to get the idea across that one could and should be doing ones own food growing and that it is possible on many levels, or scales of enterprise. I live in a place where fruit trees drop their fruit to rot on the ground while the owners are buying it at the store not knowing how easy it would be to store it. I have apples from mid summer to the end of March with a gap of two to three weeks before the Rhubarb starts. May for Strawberries, cherries at the end of June then raspberries and along with other small fuit am back to a midsummer apple along with peaches a hot housed grape and okn to plums and more apples till finally pears and then I have a last tree I pick in mid November for storage. This happens on a Quarter acre lot along with enough vegetable growing as to make my local greengrocer a veritable stranger. I also have a full time occupation that has nothing to do with agriculture and time to post on TOD and elsewhere. (not bragging just trying to make the point that food growing can be done on a small scale very profitably with a not unimaginable effort)

Sorry about this rather ranting response partially the result of spending an eternity stuck in the devils device today ... my van, but mainly because I think the future of a civilized form of agriculture will be in a more Victory Garden approach with everyone involved. That rather than mono-cultures run by a few on mined and limited supplies of potash. Potash from Saskatchewan is only a kind of emergency room IV drip and will not sustain the body agriculture forever.

As far as the size of population that can be supported in a reasonable state of existence and how to get there all happy warm and cuddly depends on the wisdom we can bring to bear on that question ... in other words we are likely screwed in that department.

Recall my earlier post on Earthmarines protecting tall trees, at all costs, so very limited ship building is possible postPeak.

Bah, Corrosion resistant steel masts with steel hulls would still get used for quite some time.

At the point where ships are back to wood, humanity will be at the point where we can't work metal.

For example: the simple goal of protecting bees and bats from extinction

Well, one can do their small part. Drill 5/16th inch holes 4-10 inches deep into wood.

http://habitat.ms11.net/bee/beehome.htm (Hey! PAy attention here ppl. You get other wasps too. Ones that eat aphids and other insects)

Me, I'm gonna break out all the #10 cans I saved:


And if one doesn't want to mess with foundation for bees (and get a more natural sized comb:

Toto - you need to push "humanure" techniques as much as possible to solve this NPK problem I think. Right now most of us are sequestering our precious bodily products, er, I mean shit and piss, in septic tanks or other systems that will keep the "good stuff" out of the biosystem for hundreds of years at minimum.

Safely processing our poop is the one thing that can be taught, and can be most useful if we all have to become gardeners again in a hurry, I think.

Toto - you need to push "humanure" techniques as much as possible to solve this NPK problem I think.

http://www.naturemill.com/ should work.


I believe the lines on the NJ Pike were due to some state law that only allows them to raise prices once a week (on Friday), Thus the "overnight" 22 cent increase apparently resulted in the lines.


22 cents times, say, 20 gallons is $4.40 saved versus the time spent in line.

It's good practice though...


How about buying some US post office "forever" stamps before the end of the month as the price is going up 1 cent and you could lock in a 3% profit/savings in one week.

That's no doubt exactly why they introduced those, to bring some of their cash flow forward.

Re: Raymond J. Learsy: The New York Times' Hidden Hand On Oil's Agenda

Someone needs to get Learsy back on his meds.

Near as I can tell, Learsy has never been on his meds. He is constantly ranting about how there's no such thing as peak oil, it's all just a plot by Big Oil to drive up prices.

The sad thing is that there probably an awful lot of Americans who agree with him. Many of whom blame oil men Bush and Cheney for "letting them get away with it." They think electing Hillary ("gas prices were never this bad during the first Clinton administration") or Obama ("a different kind of politician") will fix it. When it doesn't, the disillusionment is going to produce a nasty backlash.

There are a lot who believe this guy. For a while I would go after him on HuffPo. But so many people want to believe there is someone who they can blame for their inconvenience. His stuff plays too well to that crowd. And pointing out facts as well as his ridiculous arithmetic errors didn't seem to assuage their beliefs in what Learsy sells. It moves books I suppose.


Yes, Learsy helps drive the "Schizophrenia" mentioned above and makes me have to show why Big Oil is no longer big whenever I post about Peak Oil to other boards.

Leanan - Do you think that there will be any appreciable difference between any of the candidates in office?

When it comes to peak oil...no.

I agree with whoever said that none of the current candidates would have gotten as far as they have if they weren't in the pockets of big business. That's just the way it is.

I remember a Frontline episode about the funding of the 1992 election. It ended with a rich old guy, sitting in a lounge chair on the beach next to an exclusive Florida condo. He rattled off a list of the names of his neighbors. They were prominent Democrats, Republicans, and members of the media. Then he said that it didn't matter whether Bush Sr., Bill Clinton, or Ross Perot won the election. "No matter who wins, he's one of us."

The differences between the candidates will be in the small things. Supreme court justices. (I think McCain will probably be more moderate than Bush has been, more like Bush Sr., but there may still be a difference between McCain's picks and Hillary's or Obama's.) Politically, there's not a hair's worth of difference between Obama and Hillary, but I think Obama's lack of experience may come back to bite him, as it did with Jimmy Carter.

Hi Leanan,

Yes, there are an awfull lot of people who "choose" to follow that line of thought. Public school.

Bring on the nasty backlash.


I'm a product of the American public school system, and proud of it. My mom is a teacher, and a darned good one.

I have nothing but the highest respect for teachers. I have had good teachers and bad teachers, but they were all very dedicated, whether good or bad. Teachers are just people, subject to all human fallibilities. But teachers, in general, love children, and have a desire to help them prepare for unknown path ahead of them.

I remember a statement by Al Gore during the 1992 campaign for the presidency and vice presidency. He was referring to a statement by the G.H.W. Bush campaign: "They said we were close to teachers. They meant it as a criticism, but we took it as the highest of compliments."

I would have considered it the highest of compliments as well.

Ron Patterson

They think electing Hillary or Obama will fix it. When it doesn't, the disillusionment is going to produce a nasty backlash.

Exactly. I shiver just thinking about 'what' will be elected 4 1/2 years on down the line.

200$/barrel at today inflation adjusted price is not as hard as 70's oil shock.(energy/oil represented 15-25% of family spendings per months, depend on geographical conditions)
In the thirds words they still could follow it, but it could only hurting their industry; 25-30% spending goes for energy/oil follow the imported inflation +++)
Further read oil shockwaves reports
Further inflation adjusted oil price could be found here

There is nothings to worry anymore, there is no will for "Life Style" changes everywhere.
So far there is no more correlation supply-demand on oil price buildings. Consummation relative growth stable lower than expected, supply actually still could follow the demand.
more about price elasticity click here

Banks pull the plug on buy-to-let landlords

The era of the amateur landlord has all but ended, with banks effectively refusing to lend to new entrants to the buy-to-let market.

Thousands of existing landlords also face huge increases in the cost of remortgaging, experts said yesterday.

Wow. I'm kind of surprised by this. I would think rentals would do okay if a lot of people can't afford mortgages.

A similar thing happened in the UK during the last big recession, around 1989.

The banks lend fundamentally on the collateral of the house, and a rented property is more risky than an owner occupier house, which is usually owned by people with a fair income.

The landlord is dependent for his income on tenants who on average are less well-off than owners, and can also leave if they fall behind with the rent, leaving open the danger of squatting and so on.

Of course, if you have enough deposit to put down you can still buy a house to rent, but the interest rates on the remainder will not make it worth while.

Buying property to let basically makes it's money anyway on appreciation of house prices, with rental income just paying the bills.

You don't bother in a falling house price market.

istm that the banks created this mess by lending to unqualified "buyers" and now they are tightening the regulations on landlords.
if the regulations on landlords were too lenient before, then great.

sfe,one can make a profit on rentals in a rising or falling re market, but not with a mortgage. as long as the property is producing net income, what do you care what someone else is willing to pay for it (the tax assessor may have a different view)?

the other aspect you need to consider (in the usa, anyhow) is the tax consequences. rental properties qualify for long term capital gains tax rates, plus you are allowed a depreciation deduction against your annual income. in other words, ordinary income is transfered to capital gains. better than an ira.

Yes, it seems completely counter intuitive. The banks just watch the numbers: a) rates are going up, b) house prices going down in the future, risk of upside down mortgage, strapped payers, etc. c) tenants will be short as well and may not pay, d) in times of uncertainty all the old numbers and expectations go west, and d) as in article, rental yields have been going down. So what happens to the tenants when landlords have to sell? It might be that the landlords can’t sell and wait for re-possession (foreclosure) in which case the tenants, if mean and savvy, don’t pay either...what goes round comes round, or some such saying.

If there are way too many houses in total, there will also be way too many rental houses. (Perhaps not a problem in Britain, but in the US it is.)

Everybody wants to rent out the house they can't sell, so rents tend to be low. Houses stand vacant for long periods of time, and when they are rented, the mortgages barely cover the mortgage (and certainly not the other expenses). With the value of the house declining over time, the person renting the house out is losing money. The people renting out houses they own and having difficulty with the process are probably at the front of the line for mailing the keys back to the bank-especially if they have little equity in the house. It is no wonder banks do not want any more of this.

I think this has been around for a while, different financing for owner-occupied homes. Houses bought to rent out have always been considered riskier. Rent-for-profit guru Bill Nickerson got around this by buying older places that were neglected and had crazy floor plans, that he could get cheap and put a good chunk of money down on.

Leanan - "...banks effectively refusing to lend to new entrants to the buy-to-let market... "

That's not exactly accurate. What they have done is revert to historic lending standards particularly when it comes to income property.

Those numbers on a 30 year mortgage require 25 to 30% down payment.

Underwriters also consider monthly obligation (principal, interest, insurance, tax, any association fees, etc.) against established or proven rents.

Say for instance your obligation is $1000 and the rent is $1000 the underwriter will only consider 70 to 75% of that amount therefore you will have a negative of <$300.00>. Unless you have some particularly strong financials and reserves the underwriter will reject that application. If you can come up with a higher percentage of down payment the underwriter will then approve the loan.

What some people are doing is finding sellers who need to sell offering them a down payment and wrapping the existing loan in an All Inclusive Trust Deed. (AITD) In a lot of states these are illegal however and banks also have due on sale caluses in the mortages but right now if someone is making the payments they would tend to leave sleeping dogs lie. Not true with FHA however they will not only foreclose they will prosecute. If you are a seller remember that you are still liable for the mortgage.

Word to the wise: Use Extreme Caution

The strike continues in Nigeria, with no talks scheduled, as Exxon is demanding workers end the strike before resuming negotiations, and the workers have refused: http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/mobil-nigeria-union-leader-shutdow...

I have to say, it's nice to see some labor movement strength in the world.

In case this hasn't been discussed already, AAA is now reporting a BTU/MPG adjusted price for E85. Notice how much more expensive it is than gasoline: http://www.fuelgaugereport.com/index.asp

They're showing the national average price for gasoline is now $3.591.

Is there anything similiar out there that would tell the MPG/BTU for the different GRADES of gasoline?

Regular, Mid, and Premium are supposedly just differences in the OCTANE (87, 89, 91?), so how much better mileage would you get from using Premium instead of regular?

If Premium gives you 10% better MPG that Regular, and Premium costs $3.80 while Regular cost $3.60, then would the MPG/BTU cost for Regular actually be ($3.60 x 110%) = $3.96 ???

Or is the math trickier than that?

Greg in MO
(who's willing to pay the higher upfront cost for Premium is it keeps him from visiting the gas station as often)

blood car !!!
i think that one is destined to become a cult classic.

where is tad?

Hello Elwoodelmore,

The direct opposite of the blood car is the water-filtration bicycle.
This has been posted before on TOD, but I think it is important to repost for TOD newbies who don't have time to study the archives.

I think this is a crucial invention: recall the iconic picture of the poor African women walking with waterjugs on their heads, then mentally extrapolate to your family postPeak with no water, or extremely degraded water.

Most 'Murkans take their tapwater and sewage for granted, yet most never realize the mind-boggling amounts of energy and resources dedicated to this essential fluid. I have posted much before on TOD of sewage overflows into housing, and people having to use stagnant pools for their drinking sources.

To get an idea of the usefulness of this Aquaduct: please get every family member to carry a five gallon jug of water in each hand for a mile first, then watch this video:


IF mass-produced on a huge scale: I bet if we could convince 'Murkans to give up their retail purchases of bottled water, then shift that income to buy an Aquaduct, then most families could easily afford to buy this vehicle. Then WTSHTF: pedaling for filtered water is no big deal; it will efficiently free up human energy for other needs. I think this dovetails nicely with my earlier posts on the need for Strategic Reserves of wheelbarrows and bicycles.

Other cool bicycle work application videos are available for viewing on this link above. I am also partial to the bicycle that can be quickly adapted to various tools such as a grinder, cornmeal maker, corn shucker, etc.

I have no financial interest in this invention--I just think it is super-clever!

Some more info:

Specialized Bicycles sponsored this 'Innovate or Die' bicycle contest--which the Aquaduct won 1st place in. So, naturally, I thought this bike would be available for purchase. I went to their US website:


...but sadly nothing comes up when I type Aquaduct in their search engine---WTF ?!?

Perhaps TOD needs a massive email campaign to Specialized to encourage them to offer this invention for sale? Or does someone know if a similar bicycle is currently for sale from another manufacturer?

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

hi totoneila,

ty for the useful info. one of the skills i hope to develope in the not too distant future is water purification. so many things to do and so little time.

currently "pseudo-retired"*, i find that i dont have as much "free" time as i did before.

*pseudo- retired means that i only appear to be retired. come to think of it, i have been pseudo- retired for a long time.

oil firms cut nigeria output


Also current events with Grangemouth demonstrate that it is not the peak of oil production as such that causes economic harm but unpredictable events in an environment of tight oil supply.

Forget watching the daily/weekly/monthly production numbers; they have little meaning. Take a look at seemingly unrelated events involving food, water and energy prices.

The picture exposed these past two weeks is very worrying indeed.

2008 is turning into a pivotal year regarding our energy crisis, I'm certain there are more revelations to come.

fare thee well.

I'm wondering what's going to happen to oil prices this week? Of course this has nothing to do with Peak Oil, it's all above ground factors.


it's looking like Nigeria's output is today down by 1,469,000 bpd from last month because of strikes and attacks on oil pipelines.

Starting tomorrow in Scotland they may be tuning off 700,000 bpd because of a strike.

So today we have 1.2 to 1.4 mbpd off the export market and tomorrow (or the next day) we should (or may) see the UK entering the market to buy .3 to .7 mbpd of oil or finished products. For a net change of -1.5 to -2.1 mbpd

I can't find out how long the pipeline in Scotland will be offline? If the stike lasts two days I would think it would take a day or two to get things working again.

We may get a new high next week?

Ed in the Bahamas

I think you are over counting here Ed. Nigerias 1.44 mb/d off line amount includes the 500,000 bp/d that was already off line, and has been for over a year now. Also you are double counting the UKs 700,000 bp/d off line. If they must replace that amount as imports, that means that only 700,000 bp/d will be removed from the world oil supply because of the strike, not double that amount.

Ron Patterson

Yes, that's why I had the lower level at -1.5 mbpd, -0.9 mbpd of new temporary losses and the possible need of the UK to find and import up to +0.6 mbpd of oil or finished product to try and cover the temporary loss from the strike there.

Plus the bad press that all of this is going to bring about.

First off they still have about 10 hours before the strike starts so it all may come to nothing.


I wonder if the management at Grangemouth actually NEED a strike to stimulate pricing?

If they pay to settle the strike, they do so with no incremental income.

If there is a strike, inelasticities in the market bump the price up, and there is now more money in the pot to pay their staff and investors.

If I were management, I would let them strike. Make lots of dire press releases. Make a few people experience NO GAS at the pump. And blame the Union while accepting accolades for being a tough negotiator and doing all I can to hold expenses down.

Its capitalism. Pure and simple. Like it or not.

Please do not consider my post as flamebait. I would much rather you see it as an unpleasant observation of a nasty side-effect of capitalism. I wish we had a perfect system but we don't. Other systems have just just as nasty of side effects involving "tragedy of the commons".

Yes. Most folks neglect the social factor...the fact that actual people are doing the work out there...and that if these people feel conditions are not to their liking, they can put a monkey wrench in things. They can also sabotage to make a political statement.

The following comment from the FayObserver article "Bizbits: Oil: Is Oil Headed to $200 per barrel?" caught my attention:

"The higher prices have allowed companies to extract oil from sources too expensive to tap only a few years ago, like the Canadian oil sands and deepwater sites in the Gulf of Mexico, said Gary Adams, who heads the U.S. oil and gas practice for Deloitte & Touche USA LLP. He expects the price of oil to settle at around $90 to $100 a barrel in the coming months."

"Even if oil prices fall back to $60 or $70 a barrel, 'the capacity of those businesses to do well and fund major projects will continue,' said analyst Bernard Picchi of securities firm Wall Street Access. 'These are great storehouses of value, and I don’t think anyone can take that from them right now.' "

I thought I would do some invesitgation to see if that last statement holds up under scrutiny.

If one goes to Suncor's latest quarterly financial statement (Q1-2008) we see the oil sands segment sold 248,000 BOPD in the first quarter for $96.22 per barrel. Total Revenues were $2.2 Billion and Net Earnings were $695 million.

The oil sands segment has assets of $19.8 billion. That's an annual return of about 14% on those assets. Suncor has a market cap of $53.4 billion plus $4.6 billion in long term debt, for a total enterprise value of $58 billion. About 25% of the company is dedicated to businesses other than oil sands mining, so 75% of the enterprise value, or $43.5 billion can be attributed to the oil sands segment. Using that value, we get a ROI of about 6%.

But let's say prices do fall to the $60 to $70 range. What happens then? It just so happens that that is what Suncor sold its oil for in Q1 2007, $65.61 per barrel. So if we plug that price into today's cost structure (operating costs and assets) adjusting variable costs downward to reflect the lower price of oil (Royalties and Taxes other than income taxes) we come up with Net Earnings of $451 million. That would give us an annual return on assets of 9% and annual return on enterprise value of 4%.

What about expansion? The Suncor board just approved $20.6 billion in capital expenditures to pay for a 200,000 bopd expansion to be completed in 2012. That is on top of $3.3 billion they already have invested in the project. So if they come in within budget, that's $23.9 billion for 200,000 BOPD in production capacity. Using the same assumptions as above to calculate net income for a $65.61 per barrel price, that 200,000 BOPD of extra capacity would yield $1.45 billion per year in net earnings. That is a ROI of 6%.

Another thing one can gleen from these financial statements is that Canadian tax law must not be as favorable to oil sands production as U.S. law is to conventional oil production. Depreciation, depletion and amortization for Suncor oil sands is only about 3% of . For conventional U.S. oil and gas producers it is more like 10%, depending on the rate of extraction. So if one were to figure DD&A for the Canadian oil sands projects the same way it is calculated for conventional U.S. oil production, it would be several times greater, making Suncor's net earning significantly lower.

Yes. The CEO, Rick George estimated they need a floor of 75-80. OTOH IMO we won't see 75 again so I think SU should be fine.

Basically, just about anyone can have much cheaper gas for the rest of their lives. It just takes some behavior modification, some of which only involves living as people did a whole 30 years ago. A short list comes to mind - you pick from the list as it may apply to you individualy (and, I am sure that some will say that none apply).

1. Give up all tobacco products
2. No more bottled water
3. No more Starbucks or its equivalent
4. Use soap to shampoo your hair instead of the expensive speciality products (hey, most of you guys are going bald anyway)
5. Give up wine (or some other alcohol use)
6. Give up your cell phone ( I am 66 and have never owned one)
7. Do not purchase video games or equipment
8. Stop funding summer soccer trips etc. for your teenage children - insist that they get some kind of a paying job
9. Groom your pets yourself
10. Do your own nails
11. Tan in the sun
12. Absoluteley no gambling of any kind, lottery, casino, etc.
13. Don't pay to go to rock concerts - watch them on TV
14. Eat out one less time per week
15. Give family presents that are practical - no more "bling" for example. I know it is not romantic, but a nice item of new clothing or a newer piece of equipment with some productivity or other enhancement can be appreciated.

I would posit, that most people, could find enough savings on the above list to pay for a significant portion of their gas. But, as usual, everything in life comes down to choices. The list was made from the perspective of not having to totally disrupt your life - such as, sell your house and buy one half as big (which will work for some).

Wow, I guess I really don't have a life. None of those apply to me. Of course, that is probably also why gas prices aren't really a problem for me, either. At least yet...

Well, I do use shampoo instead of soap (I've tried soap, and it makes my hair look dull and gummy. People took one look at me and asked, "What, did you use soap on your hair or something?") But I use really cheap shampoo that is probably less expensive than the equivalent amount of soap. Doesn't smell as nice as the expensive stuff, though.

And I thought my grand kids were the only ones to get gummy hair .. :)
The rising cost of energy, money and food is forcing more and more people to select from that list or buy down scale in those and more catagories. This will only accelerate to a bad ending.

Don't use soap! Zest is cleaner than soap! Honestly, I was using Ivory because that's what I was raised with, but that stuff sux. Zest and a few others don't leave that gunk all over you .... I had to find myself in a common showe in the "field" in Korea courtesy of the US Army and get handed some Zest because I'd left my soap I dunno, either back in the tent or the other side of the Pacific, I forget.... anyway, the stuff's MUCH better.

As for hair, you can use just about anything and "finish" with shampoo, using just a little shampoo. Dishwashing liquid is kinda harsh though.

we have used this inexpensive dish detergent on occasion. it doesn't leave that hard-water residue like soap does.

whew...wouldn't want to get that in the eyes, I bet that would burn :)

I use Public transportation when I can. Walk a lot more than most people I know besides the Homeless. I share rides when I can. The only time I eat out is when I visit my brother and his wife, They eat out almost every day. They do share a ride in to work most days, but they have 3 cars one for each driver in the household.

Why give up wine or beer when you can make some of it yourself, especially if you have the grapes growing in your yard?

I live with my parents in a house that is under 1,000 square feet, which is something of a oddity in today's world.

This is the type of ingenuity that is needed now jbunt. Excellent post. I vote for you for President!

Wait ... no gambling? I quit your program!

All except #5. No way! You're going to have to pry that bottle of Cab-Sav from my cold dead hands. I have started making my own which is much, much cheaper.

I am doing the rest though. Starbucks, maybe twice a year and the same for Tim Horton's. Wife and I always try to be somewhat practical with our gifts, but we really do get something the other desires but won't attain for themselves (and its under $100).

The hard part is the knockon effects. Nearly everyone of the list either directly or indirectly puts more people out of work, Which then They belt tighten using your list, which sends more people out of work which.....

I decided to keep a couple of vices and give up the car. When gas prices hit $4.00 this summer I can pick up another frivolous expense with all the money that I'm saving.


To conclude the comment I started above, using Suncor's Q1 2008 operating costs and an oil price of $65.70, the $23.9 billion dollar expansion Suncor recently approved to expand production capacity by 200,000 BOPD would yield annual profits of $1.3 billion (this is corrected from $1.45 billion from former post). That's a return on investment of 5.4%.

If we were to use the same accounting rules that conventional U.S. producers use to calculate DD&A, that $1.3 billion profit would change to a $.4 billion loss.

Therefore I believe it to be highly unlikely that investment in high-cost projects like the Canadian oil sands would continue if oil prices return to the $60 to $70 range.


Russian scientists brought from the International Space Station unusual bacterias. These had been mutating in space for 1100 days and now can eat oil.

These bacterias can be useful for liquidating oil spills says Tamara Krashennikova for Biomash Institute.

I hope these bacteria won't find where Ghawar is ):

The bacteria that ate the world.

Yes, this could be a monumental disaster of unintended consequences. Imagine the sci-fi/horror flick if these bacteria got loose and started eating all the oil in the world. I wonder how much methane they would release?

I'm sure there are plenty of physical and biological barriers from this dime-store novel story ever happening. But then you ought to see what a 1/4" beetle has done to the BC pine forest.

We discussed bacteria a while back on TOD. It was inspired by a news story of some leaky pipelines in northern Alaska -- oil-eating bacteria are already known, and probably common even underground. They will attack pipelines from the inside, converting steel to rust and using oil as a carbon source. Fortunately they are relatively slow metabolizers.

-- to efficiently degrade oil requires the same thing we humans use, oxygen

Depends. If the bacteria are aerobes, then, in theory, the underground oil should be safe. Unless it started taking H2O and splitting off the H2.

Re: If you think the oil situation is bad, worse is to come

Today's tensions are only likely to worsen in coming years. Consider a few numbers. The planet's population is expected to grow by 50% to 9 billion by the middle of the century.

The number of cars and trucks is projected to double in 30 years — to more than 2 billion — as developing nations rapidly modernise. And twice as many passenger planes, more than 36,000, will in all likelihood be flying in 20 years.

Why are all of these projections nearly linear? Surely those who project the # of people, cars, planes, etc. realize that their projections take us out to infinity and there has to be a limit somewhere. I showed the various Peak Oil DVDs to my coworkers during lunch and they still think I'm "one of those people" and roll their eyes. They think gas is high due to George Bush and his Big Oil buddies, not China & India. In that regard, I can see a linear projection as well: straight down off of a cliff - the typical parabolic rise and fall.

"Why are all of these projections nearly linear? "

It's easier to apply a ruler to a graph than a french curve.

On the Energy Trail: Researchers Find New Details Following the Path of Solar Energy During Photosynthesis


Imagine a technology that would not only provide a green and renewable source of electrical energy, but could also help scrub the atmosphere of excessive carbon dioxide resulting from the burning of fossil fuels. That’s the promise of artificial versions of photosynthesis, the process by which green plants have been converting solar energy into electrochemical energy for millions of years. To get there, however, scientists need a far better understanding of how Nature does it, starting with the harvesting of sunlight and the transporting of this energy to electrochemical reaction centers.

Thank God we're saved.

I'll save them millions in research money. Plant trees. If nature can provide the answer, then isn't the methodology developed over millions of years also the best practice?


Just love these research efforts to explain what we already know from common sense.

This seems to me a very worthwhile effort, precisely because we do NOT know in detail exactly how nature carries out the trick.

We can also then tailor photosynthesis towards our objectives, so that the 'purpose' nature had in it's processes will not in fact be best practise if we want a specific outcome.

Fixing more carbon dioxide may, for instance, be possible with a greater understanding of how it is done by plants - but at a greatly enhanced rate.

Imagine a technology...

That’s the promise...

To get there, however...

I beginning to think these articles all use the same template.

Yes that is right. But he works in DC, so what ya expect?

Hi gang. This seems a slow enough day, since I now know that Leanan uses cheap shampoo (recommendation: Suave coconut flavor, goes onsale for under a buck).

Here's a Saturday post just to solicit a range of input - it's not derived directly from today's news, except in the sense that everything discussed here is. Opinions are put forth by various folks here from time to time about how things may develop in various areas in coming months, years, and decades. That isn't the core reason for TOD, but I value the opinions of TOD's posters, and this is about energy and our future. Mine anyhow. (Leanan - if you judge this to be the wrong spot for it, remove it with my blessing).

The suggested topic - which has been occasionally touched on and is relevant to me - is perhaps a little speculation on what will happen to those on the island of Oahu in Hawaii as we forge ahead into peak oil?

I get the impression generally that it's considered by TOD posters a bad place to be; I think Leanan figures it has "Easter Island" potential in a bad way; and certainly the Driving Chimp and Jay Hanson have told me to expect a rain of fusion weapons in the relatively near future. I agree that under some circumstances it is an almost perfect famine trap.

Its economy is mostly tourism based on cheap jet travel. Oops. There goes that. Also a fair bit of military; the US military may get relatively stronger in the USA, but within a greatly shrinking economy, so hard to know how that will play out. Certainly in Guantanamo they've managed to have a base without caring for the people outside the razor wire.

Hawaii will probably be the first US state to go seriously calamitously energy bankrupt. Oahu uses oil for it's grid electricity, for heavens sake. On the other hand, as the initial poster child for bankrupt states and a good place for demo projects, it could co-opt all kinds of initial illogical feelgood federal pilot money for Windmills and such, particularly if Sen. Inouye 's heart still beats. (Hell, there's always Edison's plan to electrify the island with cables from the volcano, but that's thinking bigger than we'll be allowed). This won't last forever - those living on warm beaches won't get much aloha from the frozen-toe states once natural gas starts running out - but it seems a transition period might not be too terrible, as long as you're able to be zenlike about the paper loss on your home value, and about the huge new property taxes... (eek).

Oahu is basically one big city on a rock. It has some ag potential but would need to gear up, and could never feed its current population without a lot of fertilizer and fuel imported, even after a 10-year ramp-up. Cuba with nukes, maybe.

Recovery from a major hurricane direct hit would probably never occur, and those odds may now run about 1-2% per year (per estimates pulled from MMA).

On the other hand, it is readily accessible by ship and thus is energetically reasonably near to many other places at least potentially. IF there are barges of food, some MAY be sent by the declining US empire to the island for a good while. There is a reasonable bus system, and nobody actually needs to heat or cool their buildings. Good water falls from the sky in more than sufficient amounts for drinking, washing, and gardening. The population is ethnically pretty mixed and pretty OK with that.

It has often struck me that in terms of moving about anywhere else, I can often make a damn good case for it; but then can turn around and make just as good a paranoid case for someone moving from THERE to HERE. (Interesting exercise - try it for any two places).

So, anyone with an opinion, have at it. Or ignore it. It was just a notion... thanks. I know it has been occasionally raised before.

Will I be nuked, cannibalized, or simply have to go without toilet paper and gasoline? And in what order?

Hello Greenish,

Interesting post! I just have a minute before I go, but my worst case guess is that Oahu will get pounded by nukes, until much of it is below sea-level to clear out the military installations, but the other islands can possibly offer a refuge. If you and Jay get together to get the Earthmarines started and the sequential building of biosolar habitats; to rapidly reduce headcount before an Easter Island-type ecosystem decimation develops, then it could be an eventual biosolar paradise.

Wooden sailing ships will always swing into your ports of call for the trading of goods for freshwater and a chance to embrace the pretty women. Some things will never change.

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

Thanks Bob. Yeah, if there's a full-on nuke exchange, I think I'm in about 7 overlapping 100% fatality zones. Yet while I think some nuking is definitely in the planet's future, a full exchange with the soviet nukes pointed at Oahu would seem only the worst option... and would also mean most other large cities in both nations glassed over.

Also, while it's bare ground, I do have a little land on the big isle, and while the interisle airlines are still flying I can go from Oahu to the big isle in about 2 hours... so if I hear any cuban-missile-crisis-like rhetoric, I can take a vacation and go get tropical drinks with Jay and watch Oahu through sunglasses for the mushroom clouds. However, the big isle BEFORE the nukes fall is less-cool in a few other ways, like there aren't many doctors there. I could definitely see trying to pull a group of peak oil aware folks together there as one option in the future, and have researched it reasonably well.

I've been an Earthmarine by some reasonable definitions; we'll see how that goes. People will probably leave the big isle in droves as the economy collapses, and it could be a good place to make a stand. Maybe I'll find a billionaire to help with that. (not kidding, necessarily).

This is a pretty well-designed climate for humans. Quite voggy today, but the population density is the only real problem aside from being a nuclear target in the event of all-out nuke war. Again, I think limited exchanges may be more likely than russia-vs-USA all-out holocaust, and that's the main scenario in which I'd be toasted.

Funnily enough, the fact that Hawaii should be ahead of the curve in having problems may help.
There will still be the finances available to do something about it.
The reason for the early onset of problems is of course as you say the massive cost increases that will come in flight costs.
Since Hawaii will be one of the first affected in the US, then people will still be able to do the obvious and move to the mainland, although they will take a massive hit on house prices which should drop hugely.
Expect large bail-out attempts, again because this will be one of the first affected areas of the US.

This exodus of population will partially solve the problem of low agricultural production, as there will be less people to feed.

The other really major factor to consider for Hawaii is that it is very favourably placed for solar energy, which recent announcements confirm has had big enough price drops to be real contender in suitable climates:
Solar Power Lightens Up with Thin-Film Technology: Scientific American

For example, Tempe, Ariz.–based First Solar, Inc., which employs cadmium telluride in its thin-film solar cells, sells its modules encased in glass for either large arrays or rooftops. "The elegance of the solar business is that you construct a product and it just sits there generating power for 20 to 25 years," says company president, Bruce Sohn.

In addition to offering solar modules at $1.25 a pop (compared with at least double that per module for traditional photovoltaics), First Solar has also instituted a process for recycling them at the end of their active lives.

This does not solve all the problems of course, as you still have to have to provide oil for essential uses like heavy equipment, and storage is by no means a solved problem for renewables especially in straightened financial circumstances, but a very high unemployment rate will at least mean that there is plenty of labour for agriculture.

To sum up I would see very tough times, the death of tourism , large out-migration and falling property values, but no outright starvation, and great possibilities for renewables to provide essential power, so preventing outright collapse.

I'm pretty much the only one I've heard (besides you now) noting that Hawaii's status as "first to crash" might have some up sides long-term. Basically, if its economy collapses 10 years before that of the USA proper, there could be some amelioration leveraged off the nation which may not be available later. Nothing to depend on, but I think it ain't impossible.

I'm not betting on thin-film solar... but then again you really don't need much electricity here... just enough to keep the sewage pumps going. And if a tax rebate were passed requiring every suburban lot to plant at least one breadfruit tree, there would be a large amount of food resilience within 10 years. I'm a doomer, but I've done it, and the main problem with it as a plan is that the neighbors AREN'T doing it.

I have ordered my own PV this last week. My personal trigger has been oil getting near $120 and then buying at the best price I can, which I have now done. None of that thin-film or amorphous stuff either, good old monocrystalline.

(Though one thing I like about CSP is that it should be relatively EMP-resistant. I hate to think of what will happen to the huge PV plants if a high nuke goes off ANYwhere line-of-sight.)

If the ships of food stop, there will be starvation. If they keep coming, there won't be. That may depend on the fate and direction of US empire in the coming decades. We shall see, I guess.

Can't answer for every issue, but it seems all is not lost. First, the population has to decrease. I hope its not done by price pressure. It sounds like the island has a carrying capacity and I believe it will be supplied by ship for quite a long time.

If I were leading a planning session, that's the box I would put it in. Have everyone plan the goods and transport based on ship traffic, which may not be the speediest, so account for that. To get an idea, all one has to do is look how people lived there pre-airline days and that can include WWII to some degree.

Rule No. 1 has to get rid of the large fuel hungry vehicles except for commercial transport. All you probably need on the island are the Japanese Kei cars. (go to www.japanoid.com to get an idea). I am going to buy one of the vans for use in the city around BC. But, a caveat: to import a car into the U.S. it has to be 25 yrs. old or more. I hope there are some work arounds on this. Or, there are some electric vehicles coming on the market that are perfect for your area (www.itiselectric.com). These are NEV speed, but may be sufficient.

If the island can construct geothermal power generation, it looks like you can do quite well. I'm not a geologist but I know the islands have volcanoes which means lots of near surface thermal activity.

To summarize; tourism way down, pineapple growing soon to expand, geothermal generation potential huge, population decrease necessary, future still looks acceptable. You will not become an abandoned prison island and exotic tourism will once again be the norm. Fortunately, that means you won't have to deal with hordes of screaming kids and teenagers over the holiday season. Now that doesn't sound too bad.


I think Japan planned to starve out Hawaii in WWII. There is significant land on the big isle, which would produce enough calories to be barged over at relatively low energy IF NPK kept being shipped in, which it may. The energy to keep the Hamakua coast road repaired will probably still be around... and necessary.

People here are hitting the stores for rice... and y'know, I'm cool with that. Increases resilience. I've had my own food stored for some time, and having the population making like mormons in that regard isn't really a bad thing....

Frankly, we could get along here on busses and scooters if the Effing SUV's were banned. I love riding a small motorcycle, but it's suicide now.

The doctors are all going away, but that's as much due to lack of tort reform as energy collapse - they make more on the mainland.

Electric cars using lead-acid batteries would work fine here... the whole dang island is only 30 miles across. And many people have 'em here in Kailua, but they're too dangerous to use, again because of the SUV's.

I actually don't know the capacity of geothermal on the big isle... a lot more than they use now. Certainly enough to power the big isle itself if enough spare parts were warehoused and the grid were kept up... difficult. Whether HVDC cables or something could be run underwater ain't something I've looked into, because it's a larger project than will be built out even if it would work. But really, aside from the sewers - pumping and repairing them, etc - this island basically just needs food, toilet paper, and sandals.

Hi greenish,

This is a good idea - and interesting - talking about where people actually are and what they might actually do.

I have the sense...just an impression...that where you are is a place where just a bit more organizing and outreach could actually bring people in...they don't necessarily have to "buy into peak" in order to support some moves you (we) might see as positive. It sounds like you like it there and want to stay. In that case, I'd say...be a little more vocal and you may find you have more allies than you might imagine. (Perhaps vocal w. some specifics in the way of plans, too.)

And...Something I've wanted to say for a long time re: the threat of nuclear war or even a/(another) nuke going off: There are people who spend a lot of time both worrying about this and trying to keep it from happening. They work on preventing nuclear war like some of our favorite oil persons attempt to warn the world and work on "peak".

Whether these people are (or, even can be "made to become") "peak oil aware" is another question. The point is, though - I sometimes want to say to certain posters discussing nuclear war:

If you spent as much time (or, even 5-10 minutes per week?) engaged in some direct action ( no matter how feeble it may seem) to prevent the build-up of nuclear arms, to support those who are working directly to prevent nuclear war...as you do talking about whether or not it's bound to happen...this might be time well spent. (2 cents here.)

Orgs. that come to mind -
www.fas.org, www.idds.org (if they still exist), www.psr.org (maybe) - I don't know where Jonathan Schell hangs out, but he's probably easy to find.

The mainstream has never taken PO seriously so far for one reason: OPEC's stated reserves. These numbers are so large, that the prospect of declining oil production before at least 2030 seems ridiculous to those that believe the stated figures.
I am convinced that these numbers are misleading. OPEC is in for some serious heat one day, if they don't expand production when they should surely be able to do so. Any large downward revisions will be greeted with extreme prejudice, IMO. After all, it can be argued that it is their massive reserve numbers that have caused 'our' complacency all these years. If we in the OECD go down, we will take them with us.

You know Magus, if one gives it at least a moments rational thought they would see that 2030 is a little more than 21 years away. Let's use their argument against them.

Assuming the Saudis are being the honest and forthright camel traders that they are, we won't see a decline in oil production until 2030 based on current levels of supply and demand. If there is a 2.5% growth in demand and a 1% growth in supply, then peaking would occur in approximately 17 years. (Please those that want to do the math correct me if I am out to lunch). How long does anyone think it is going to take to make the infrastructure and market adjustments to prepare?

Lets say nuclear gets a pass and we start building. Ten to twelve years per plant. That might get us 25% of the required plants built. In Canada, reservoir hydro generation can take 14 years, so how many of those are we going to get built? Transmission lines take 10 years due to the legal, environmental and regulatory hoops to jump through. Auto manufacturers require 5 years from design to delivery - just look at the Chevy Volt; four years, over priced and that's fast tracking. We might get through three design generations of autos if we're lucky. And rail, specifically electrified rail, well that will be a long shot for any meaningful impact.

I'm sure this is a similar process they went through in the Hirsch Report. So if the Saudis do have the oil and pigs will fly, then we have the minimum amount of time to start making these adjustments NOW. Therefore, whether oil is peaking now (close if unconventionals are included, definite by 2010ish) or 15 years from now is not as important as taking action in a timely and responsible manner to protect our societies and families. Oh wait, GWB & Co. already have, they've built some wonderfully accommodating detainment camps around the country for our vacationing pleasure - transportation included.

Just a reminder of thugs with money, guns and drugs. And the promise of the stockmarket:

My wild guess is that if just the heroin proceeds were pulled out of the system, the whole show would collapse within 24 hours.


Richard Grasso, former Chairman of the NY Stock Exchange,
greeting a Colombian FARC commander.
(Photo courtesy LaRouche Campaign)

They have to put the money somewhere-to paraphrase Tony Montana-"This whole f--king country was built on washing money!"

This is a good one:

Schumer: Tie OPEC production to arms sales to Saudis, others

Sen. Charles Schumer vowed Thursday to block U.S. arms deals with OPEC members unless oil production is increased to help relieve the escalating cost of gasoline and diesel fuel.

Ron Patterson

Hello TODers,

Stem Rust Never Sleeps

Stem rust, the most feared of all wheat diseases, can turn a healthy crop of wheat into a tangled mass of stems that produce little or no grain. The fungus spores travel in the wind, causing the infection to spread quickly. It has caused major famines since the beginning of history. In North America, huge grain losses occurred in 1903 and 1905 and from 1950 to ’54.

Future world wheat crops threatened by Ug99 stem rust

The significance of Ug99 being in Iran is the fact that it is now at the front door of major wheat production areas in Asia, namely Pakistan and India, which ac-counts for 20 percent of the annual world wheat production. Peterson noted there is a possibility that large movements could take place almost overnight if certain wind conditions prevail at the right time.
Imagine Iran launching a war because of a massive crop failure.

If you want to be a true hero--find a wheat strain that resists UG99-- a far greater prize than a mountain of gold!

If I was an archealogist: I would be digging in ancient ruins trying to find some long buried, long forgotten wheat grains; the DNA could be priceless. Hopefully, someone will step up to this 'Indiana Jones and the Golden Grains' adventure thriller.

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

If you want to be a true hero--find a wheat strain that resists UG99-

I am working with Hans Herren, who is such a hero. His new goal is find solutions to climate change and energy.


Best Hopes for People trying to climb the mountains,


"If I was an archealogist: I would be digging in ancient ruins trying to find some long buried, long forgotten wheat grains; the DNA could be priceless."

Any chance that an archaeologist/terrorist might do the same to cultivate some ancient and long forgotten stem rust strain? Just thinking like Clancy or Cook here.

Hello TODers,

Food is becoming the world's new gold

Following photo later won the Pulitzer Prize, but it so immediately haunted the photographer that he just sat under a tree for a long time smoking cigarettes and crying. He committed suicide at age 33, two months after receiving his award:

WARNING: heart-breaking image!


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

That you need to not care too much about your fellow humans to be able to help them is an odd contradiction.

"Clinical Detachment" is the term used by medical professions. A psychiatrist friend of mine once replied to a text message of mine about a GREAT Jazz performance "Pisser. Working ER with ten serious suicide attempts. I do NOT want to hear what I am missing !"

Do that 6 and 7 days a week, 80 to 100 hours/week for years, with many more to treat than can be treated, and her, and others, ability to still care deeply is amazing. But that care has to have careful limits for their own ability to function and help.