DrumBeat: April 29, 2008

Southern California faces higher blackout risk this summer

The risk of electricity blackouts in Southern California during the hottest days this summer is more than triple that of previous years because power plant additions have failed to keep up with demand, the state's grid manager said.

The likelihood of a Stage 3 emergency, when reserves dip below 3% and power is cut to some customers to prevent a system collapse, rose to 10% for Southern California from 3% in last year's forecast, the California Independent System Operator said in a report Monday.

In defense of oil companies

It's fashionable to characterize Big Oil as greedy gougers that should have their profits taxed more heavily. Here's why that's foolish thinking.

Analysis: Azeris seize Iran nuke material

The 915 megawatt VVER-1000 PWR Bushehr reactor, costing an estimated $1 billion to $2 billion, has become a bone of contention for both the Bush administration and Israel, which argue a country awash in oil is using Bushehr and its enrichment program covertly to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran denies the charge, maintaining it is looking past a period when its "peak oil" exports decline. Since the beginning of the year, thinly veiled talk about a possible Israeli or U.S. strike on Iranian nuclear facilities has increased, further ratcheting up regional tensions.

We're at the point where the desire line splits

For a moment, what with climate change, peak oil prices, Iraq and the subprime thingo, it looked like all this might be at risk. Like we might have to stop building across our most fertile land. Stop belching carbon into the air. Stop cramming more and more energy consumption into each roll of the sun.

But no. All is well. God has smiled on the Ruddbus. All at once, it seems, we have been blessed with three celestial gifts. Where once was peak oil, now there is extra continental shelf the size of 10 New Zealands, ours to explore and exploit for oil and gas. Where once was a falling coal price, now is skyrocketing demand. And where once was the embarrassing, backward-looking John Howard, fibbing in public, unapologetic, denying climate change, now is the new happy-clappy, rosy-cheeked, Hillsongy, all-aboard-now Ruddbus. God has smiled. Or has he?

Biking is way to see Amsterdam, if you survive!

Amsterdam, The Netherlands - Why was I nervous to ride a bicycle in Amsterdam?

Perhaps it was the taxi driver who ferried me to the hotel upon my arrival in the city. “I thought I might rent a bike,” I told him. “Not if you don’t want to get killed,” he replied.

Gas prices top concerns over jobs, health

WASHINGTON - Paying for gasoline easily tops the list of economic woes facing families in the United States, according to a survey on how changes in the economy have affected people’s lives.

About 44 percent of survey participants said paying for gasoline was a “serious problem” for them. Across all income levels, the cost of gas was the most frequently cited economic concern. The price of gas nationally averaged $3.60 a gallon on Monday, according to the Energy Department.

Brazil mulls fuel price hike after 2-1/2 years

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazil's government will decide on a possible hike in gasoline and diesel prices on Tuesday, which would be the first raise since 2005 and a much-needed revenue boost for state oil company Petrobras.

Australia: Oil giants announce fuel price hikes

A long-weekend reprieve from fuel price rises ended for most motorists yesterday with hikes at Mobil, Caltex and Shell pumps.

The three oil majors raised their main-centre prices for 91-octane petrol to 188.9c a litre and for diesel to 156.9c, in line with record levels set by BP almost a week ago.

Sask. might be good bet for nuke plant, TransCanada CEO says

It might make more sense to build a nuclear power station in uranium-rich Saskatchewan than in Alberta, the head of TransCanada Corp. says.

Calgary-based pipeline giant TransCanada is a majority owner in Bruce Power, the company hoping to build twin nuclear reactors near Peace River in northern Alberta.

However, TransCanada CEO Hal Kvisle is raising questions about the cost of power transmission in a location that far north and says Saskatchewan may be a better bet.

Experts call for 'feed-in tariffs' to encourage renewable energy use

Engineers, trade unions, farmers and house builders today backed a campaign by Friends of the Earth and the Renewable Energy Association to introduce a "feed-in tariff" system that would improve Britain's take-up of renewable energy.

...FITs work by setting a guaranteed price for renewable electricity fed into the national grid that is above the market price. The countries which have adopted one have made big carbon savings and created thousands of new jobs. Britain, though, lags behind almost every EU country in its use of renewables, producing just 2% of its energy in this way.

Richard Heinberg's MuseLetter #193: It's Happening

There is a surreal quality to the experience of seeing the unfolding of unpleasant events that one has predicted. Plenty of times over the past few years I’ve said, "I want to be proven wrong!" Who in their right mind would wish to see economic collapse and famine? But it was obvious that, given the direction our society is headed, these must be the consequences. Now, with oil at $117 a barrel, the US economy teetering, and food riots erupting in Haiti, Egypt, and Asia, one could perhaps gain some satisfaction in saying "I told you so." But what faint compensation that would be. We are all going to have to share the bitter fruits of our society's century-long growth binge, whether we have criticized it or participated wholeheartedly. The only silver lining is the possibility that now, at last, as the trends (Peak Oil, the failure of growth-based economics, the failure of industrial agriculture, climate chaos, and so on) are becoming so starkly clear, policy makers will begin seriously to contemplate a Plan B (or C, as Pat Murphy insists). For those of us who have been lobbying in that latter direction for some while, this is no time to let up, but rather the ideal moment to redouble our efforts.

Michael Klare: Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet – Global Fight for Oil

In the Cold War era, the two main poles of power were the Western block, with the United States as the dominant power and the Soviet block. In this new world order, I believe it's bifurcated between energy surplus countries -- countries which have enough energy to supply their own needs and to export energy to others -- and energy deficit states, countries like the United States, China, Japan and European countries which don't have enough energy to meet their needs and are dependent on imports from other countries and therefore are beholden to them in various ways, economically and increasingly politically.

American Airlines loses $3.3 million a day

In the past month Arpey, 49, has dealt with picketing pilots calling for his resignation, FAA inspectors decertifying 300 aircraft, the merger of two large competitors, and $110-a-barrel oil that contributed to a $328 million loss for the first quarter. Since January, nearly every flight the airline has flown has lost money - analysts estimate it is losing $3.3 million a day.

Delta hikes airfares

ATLANTA (AP) -- Travelers aren't just feeling the pinch at the gas pump, but also in the air as carriers continue to hike fares to deal with high jet fuel prices.

Delta Air Lines Inc., (DAL, Fortune 500) the nation's third-largest carrier, said Monday it raised domestic fares in most cases $10 to $40 per roundtrip, in the form of a fuel surcharge.

British Airways raises fuel surcharge on all tickets

London - British Airways (BA) Tuesday announced an increase of the fuel surcharge on tickets to reflect 'continuing high oil prices.'

Truckers protest fuel prices at Pierre

PIERRE — Fewer truck drivers than expected showed up for a rally against high fuel prices on Monday, but an organizer said many decided not to attend because they couldn’t afford the diesel.

“That’s the whole point,” said organizer Brian Frahm of Fort Pierre. “It costs too much to get out.”

Petrol panic appears to be easing

PANIC buying at the pump led to shortages at the forecourt last week in Banffshire's petrol filling stations, claim their owners.

...However, after last week's long queues at the pump, there were signs that the initial outbreak of panic-buying has abated.

Israel’s Cuts off Cooking Gas Supply, Gaza Bakeries Shut down

Cooking gas is not available for private use either, creating a shortage of supplies in Gaza homes. Some families are using fire to cook in “tabun” ovens being built due to the shortage, and are using as fuel any available flammable object, including wood, plastic and alcohol.

Could state-owned plants prevent power shortages?

Now that almost everyone acknowledges that Maryland's plan to deregulate electricity didn't work, state officials are looking at how to prevent a power shortage predicted by the state's Public Service Commission.

The Associated Press last week reported that the PSC study said that if no major changes were made, the state could face rolling "brownouts" or even blackouts by 2011.

If they happen, much more than inconvenience for this region will be involved.

Floating turbines may join Norway's offshore rigs

UTSIRA, Norway–Giant turbines the size of jumbo jets bobbing on the North Sea may soon become as common off Norway as oil and gas platforms.

At least that is the ambition of Norwegian authorities and industry, eager to splash some green on their oily image and use their offshore expertise to corner a potentially lucrative new market – floating wind farms in deep sea waters.

US air force calls for mission to combat climate change

The US air force will this week call for the world's top scientists to come together in a 21st-century Apollo-style programme to develop greener fuels and tackle global warming. It wants universities, governments, companies and environmental groups to collaborate on a multibillion-dollar effort to work out greenhouse gas emissions of existing and future fuels.

William Anderson, an assistant secretary of the air force, said the project aimed to calculate the overall carbon footprint of the world's energy sources, rather than merely measure their direct emissions.

World power crunch tightening diesel market

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Rising electricity demand, aging power infrastructure and fuel shortages in developing countries are boosting global demand for diesel -- factors that could keep supplies tight and prices strong for another couple of years.

The boom in use of diesel for electric generators in parts of Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America has already underpinned a big rally in distillate prices since last year and helped propel crude oil well above $100 a barrel even as energy demand wanes in the United States and Europe.

"You have a shortage of power generation capacity in parts of the world, including the Middle East, causing brown outs and blacks outs, and increasing incremental demand from back-up generators that run on diesel," said Antoine Halff, oil analyst for Newedge Group in New York.

No end in sight for costly oil bubble

Only Opec has the ability to kill this rally and it shows no sign of wanting to do so - even Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have become accustomed to the cashflow and would find it difficult to live with substantially lower prices.

The big question is when the price of crude begins to kill off demand. It is already happening in America, where petrol consumption has begun to decline.

But demand is still robust in Asia, where too many countries, including China and India, protect their consumers from the full impact of pricey crude.

US motorists are filling up less because the credit crunch has made them poorer but also because the price signal is very loud in the United States, undistorted by subsidies or high fuel taxes.

ExxonMobil Declares Force Majeure on Strike, Shut-In 800,000 bbl/d

ExxonMobil Corp. (XOM) Monday took the drastic step of declaring force majeure on its energy operations in Nigeria because of an ongoing labor strike, signaling the damaging affect the dispute is having on its operations in the country.

The declaration means ExxonMobil is unable to meet its contractual obligations because of a shut-in by the strike of around 800,000 barrels a day of crude oil output.

Proposals unlikely to improve Mexico's oil output

WASHINGTON – Mexico's oil production continues to decline because Mexico's oil company can't do its job.

Petróleos Mexicanos doesn't have the tools, talent or money to go after the billions of barrels of oil that lie in its deepwater zone in the Gulf of Mexico, and Mexico's constitution bars any other oil company from doing the work.

Mexico's Pemex posts 1st-qtr net profit vs loss

MEXICO CITY, April 28 (Reuters) - Mexican state-run oil monopoly Pemex posted a 3.3 billion peso first-quarter net profit on Monday, compared to a net loss of 10.4 billion pesos a year earlier, aided by improved operating results and higher sales.

Pemex said its total sales rose 32.4 percent to 321.5 billion pesos as prices for crude, natural gas and other by-products rose across the board.

Washington lawmakers share blame in energy crisis

Ebell also notes that if politicians think gas prices are too high, they should be contacted by concerned consumers and asked why they would support global warming policy that is currently before the Senate and House. He feels it is "hypocritical" for politicians to complain about fuel prices, then turn around and support such things as a carbon tax or a mandate to use some form of non-carbon-based energy source.

Schools living fuel nightmare

Here's another way to look at the bus fuel nightmare: the current year's budget contained $246,000 for diesel fuel, but officials recently had to get a budget amendment, bumping it up to $316,000.

"Our actual costs for fuel this year came in at 57-percent higher than what was budgeted," said Schools Director Kathleen Airhart.

Cuba's Fidel Castro warned of food crisis a year ago

HAVANA (Reuters) - As global fears about food security mount with riots in Africa and panic buying elsewhere, one world figure can sit back and say he warned a year ago of a coming food crisis -- Fidel Castro.

Food Crisis: Emptying The U.S. Breadbasket

In the 1980s, more than half the farm's acres were wheat. This year only one in 10 will be, and 40 percent will go to soybeans. Braaten and other farmers are considering investing in a $180 million plant to turn the beans into animal feed and cooking oil, both now in strong demand in China. And to stress his hopes for ethanol, his business card shows a sketch of a fuel pump.

...Science, weather, economics and farm policy have all played a part in the changes.

U.S. wheat yields per acre have increased little in two decades, partly because commercial seed companies have all but abandoned investments in improved varieties, preferring to focus on the more profitable corn and soybeans. Subtle warming changes in the climate and the recent availability of new plant varieties that thrive in cold, dry conditions have pushed the corn belt north and west.

ND Study: 167 Billion Barrels of Oil in Bakken

The Bakken shale formation in North Dakota holds up to 167 billion barrels of oil but only about 1 percent of it can be recovered using current technology, a new study says.

The study released Monday said current technology could lead to the recovery of about 2.1 billion barrels in North Dakota's portion of the formation, where oil-producing rock is sandwiched between layers of shale about 10,000 feet under the ground. The estimate of recoverable oil included in the study by the state Department of Mineral Resources was similar to that of a federal study released earlier this month.

We should warm to the idea of melting poles

So quickly is the ice melting that the prospect of a navigable, ice-free Arctic Ocean is no longer the stuff of fanciful imagination, and has been the topic of two National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Ice Centre-sponsored conferences (Naval Operations in an Ice Free Arctic symposium, April, 2001; Impact of an Ice-Diminishing Arctic on Naval and Maritime Operations symposium, July, 2007).

Within our lifetimes, and possibly in less than a single generation, we may witness the opening up of Arctic sea lanes that are fully navigable year-round: The strategic, economic and diplomatic consequences will be enormous.

Averting an energy crisis

Gas prices are skyrocketing; the average price of a gallon of regular soared past $3.50 last week. Venezuela has threatened to cut off oil exports to the United States. The dollar has fallen by 30 percent against the euro over the past two years. Could things possibly get worse?

Yes. Real-world events underscore the nation's acute energy security vulnerabilities. Over the last year oil prices have surged in a short period of time without any single precipitating event. The effects are stark. Every $10 increase in the annual price of a barrel of oil costs the economy $75 billion.

Next few years may be tough

It's one thing to be short on oil, significant curtailments will allow our infrastructure to continue operating. There are certain things we can do without.

The British between 1939 and 1945 made significant concessions; they lived through food rationing, blackouts and bathing in cold water.

But the only thing that Winston Churchill and his advisors really worried about was if food imports were cut off. And that is what the Germans were aiming for. Both sides knew that when the amount of daily calorie intake fell below a certain threshold, nothing could contain social unrest.

South Africa: ‘No need for 60% power hike for domestic users’

JOHANNESBURG - While SA households are already paying excessively high prices for their electricity many of the country’s industries pay up to 275% less for power.

Add to this the fact that Eskom is selling about a third of its locally-generated power to neighbouring countries, there is “absolutely no need” for domestic consumers to face a more than 60% increase, Solidarity spokesman Jaco Kleynhans said.

Delegation, truckers, speak up against diesel costs

Rep. Tom Allen (D) met the truckers at I-95 Exit 25 in Kennebunk.

Allen has called for an “immediate federal investigation” of price fixing and manipulation, sending letters to the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, among others.

Cyprus: Exceptional price rises coupled with shortages

Today, as oil hovers a new record high of $120 a barrel and a two-day United Nations crisis meeting gets underway to address the worsening food crisis, Cyprus is urgently struggling to come up with a course of action to answer the desperate need for new water supplies.

Auto Industry Working Hard to Make an Electric Vehicle Battery

To an engineer, it looks obvious.

Gasoline packs 80 times more energy per kilogram than a lithium-ion electric vehicle battery. It holds 250 times more energy than a common lead-acid battery. So, it’s a no-brainer. Batteries can’t possibly deliver the energy needed to power the future of the auto industry, right?

Wrong. With vehicle exhaust being blamed for global warming and with concerns over foreign oil availability growing, the auto industry has re-ratcheted up its efforts to develop an electric car and the battery still sits smack-dab in the middle of Alternative Energy Highway.

Q&A: Wave power

How much of our energy needs could wave power meet?

The technology has only been available for a few decades, yet we could meet almost 10% of our energy needs from wave power, at a cost similar to current prices.

Gwynne Dyer: Climate change could fend off peak oil crisis

Last week, Hamish McRae, one of the world’s best economic journalists, declared in The Independent: “Hardly anyone a year ago successfully predicted the rise in the oil price to $120 a barrel—in fact I have not found a single forecast of that.” Regular readers of this column may recall that I predicted oil at over $100 a barrel in April 2006, and well north of that price in another column in July 2007.

I am the most modest of men, but I reckon this gives me the right to offer some further forecasts. So I predict that the price of oil will soon fall—a bit. So far, the economies of the “Brics” (Brazil, Russia, India and China) are still growing strongly, but the old industrialized economies are definitely heading into a recession, and they still consume most of the oil.

Supply side to blame for high oil prices

Despite what many pundits say, oil demand is not really the central problem. True, there has been a huge shift in the sources of demand, away from the rich industrial countries and toward China, India, the Middle East and Russia. But the pace of aggregate demand growth in recent years has not changed significantly and, in fact, has slowed. In short, there has been no demand shock.

Rather, the real culprit is on the supply side. Unlike the sudden supply shocks of the 1970s, this crisis is the culmination of the gradual erosion in global capacity growth, which leaves oil demand chronically bumping up against stagnating production capacity.

IEA chief economist says oil prices unlikely to fall soon

WARSAW (Thomson Financial) - The International Energy Agency's chief economist said on Tuesday it would be 'very optimistic' to expect prices of oil to fall within the next few months.

'I cannot make official forecasts about oil prices but I can tell you that it would be very optimistic to expect that prices will go down in the coming months,' Fatih Birol told reporters on a visit to Warsaw.

Scottish oil refinery strike ends

LONDON - Workers returned to the Grangemouth refinery in central Scotland on Tuesday after a 48-hour strike that forced the closure of a major North Sea pipeline system.

UNITE, Britain's largest union, said further industrial action is possible unless refinery owner Ineos backs down in a dispute over pensions.

Record oil prices drive Shell 1Q profits up 25 percent

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - Royal Dutch Shell PLC's first-quarter profits rose 25 percent, Europe's largest engery company reported Tuesday, on unheard of prices for a barrel of oil.

Shell said its average selling price of crude oil leaped by 66 percent to more than $90 per barrel from the first quarter a year ago.

Rockefeller family call for ExxonMobil shake-up

One of America’s most powerful families will call tomorrow for a sweeping shake-up at the top of ExxonMobil, the world’s largest company.

A group of descendants of John D Rockefeller, who founded its predecessor Standard Oil in 1870, will begin a campaign to split the role of chief executive and chairman of the board at Exxon, a role held by Rex Tillerson.

Russian crude producer LUKoil posts 73% net profit growth in Q1

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) - Russia's largest independent oil producer LUKoil said on Tuesday its net profit calculated to Russian Accounting Standards climbed 73% year-on-year in the first quarter to 13.231 billion rubles ($560 million).

Shell sees refining margins under pressure

LONDON, April 29 (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: Quote, Profile, Research) sees refinery margins under pressure for the next two to three years as new refining capacity comes onstream, but more modern plants will add value, the company said on Tuesday.

Peter Voser, chief financial officer of the Anglo-Dutch oil giant, said that he expected a more volatile refining environment over the next few years.

Petro-Canada's Net Rises on Oil Prices, Production

(Bloomberg) -- Petro-Canada, the worst performer among Canada's largest oil companies, said first-quarter profit rose 82 percent on higher oil prices and production.

Net income climbed to C$1.08 billion ($1.07 billion), or C$2.20 a share, from C$590 million, or C$1.18, a year earlier, the Calgary-based company said today in a statement. Revenue rose 36 percent to C$6.62 billion.

Shell Examines Carbon Capture Project at Its Canadian Refinery

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe's largest oil company, said it's examining a carbon capture project at its Scotford refinery and upgrader in the Canadian province of Alberta.

The company is studying a plan nicknamed ``Quest,'' which would capture carbon at the 155,000-barrel-a-day upgrader and ``transport it to a mature field for sequestration,'' Chief Financial Officer Peter Voser said today on call with reporters. ``We are looking into that and we are working on that.''

What do you guys think of this?

In the table below I’ve calculated the nominal and inflation adjusted price increase % of various fuel types, using www.fuelgaugereport.com data and official inflation numbers from US Gov and alternate inflation numbers from www.shadowstats.com

The table shows today’s prices, the prices one month and 365 days ago, respectively, and the nominal increase % over the last month. As for YoY increases I calculated nominal, ‘US Gov inflation adjusted’ and ‘shadowstat inflation adjusted’. I felt no need to create a graph, but I think you can get a hunch.

(Naturally, using the lower US Gov inflation data, the YoY price increase % is bigger than using the higher inflation numbers the kind folks at shadowstats are showing)

All in all, depending on the inflation number one adjusts the data to, you can observe a 'real price increase' of 10-17% for gas and 30-40% for diesel. In my opinion, the US Gov data is too low for inflation, and while the shadowstats data may be correct, it is largely influenced by fuel prices. So for determining the price increase % or the 'real value'of oil we should used 'mixed inflation data', somehwere between US Gov and shadowstats data. I'd say around 7-8% inflation if you exclude oil (fuel).

That would result in an 'mixed inflation adjusted price increase %' of roughly 14-15% for regular gas and 35% for diesel year on year.

Here are the tables and the inflation graph. ('Mixed inflation' not shown, as that's my 'intuitive invention', as of now. ;-))

Average price increase % of various fuel types

Fuelgaugereport data

Inflation data

Considering that spot crude costs have risen by about 83% y-o-y, I would think that diesel and gasoline prices are likely to continue to rise for quite some time to come as the current spot crude price has yet to fully work its way into the refinery complex. If spot prices sustain above $115 per barrel over then prices are going to continue their upwards trajectory for at least 8-10 weeks.

The really interesting things to note about US prices are the following:

Retail/distribution margins for gasoline and diesel have fallen by about 20-25% since the same time last year - considering that operator costs have risen quite sharply over that time-frame, then that sector of the market has gotta be hurting..badly.

According to EIA data, the refining margins in March for gasoline were 8%, and for diesel they were 20%. A year ago gasoline and diesel prices were at parity, but have now decoupled.

Methinks that there is an element of cross-subsidy from diesel to gasoline going on. Not surprising as it is an election year, and the big oil companies all have an interest in innoculating themselves from political scrutiny as much as possible.... a losing battle perhaps, but that doesn't mean that they won't pull every trick that they can find up their immaculately-tailored sleeves.

420 000 bbls per day of ethanol.

Diesel can't be "blended" with ethanol.


Without diesel to sow, to harvest and to transport corn to the distillery (and transport ethanol to market) you don't have 420,000 barrels of anything.

Show us a piece of farm equipment that burns ethanol...

I live in an out of the way place. I have various diesel and gasoline burning pieces of equipment.Last week I cleared a spot for a solar greenhouse with a masonry heater. I had to take down about 10 trees and stump it too. Alone, I was able to get all the trees down and stumps up, wood bucked and split and begin preparing for the foundation in just about 4 days. All the while I was thinking about where I'd be in the project without my backhoe, chainsaw, tractor and wood splitter. Maybe have the first couple of trees down. Life will be different when fuel is scarce.
When petroleum fuels begin to really get short will there be enough allocated to us hicks out here to process firewood or will cities and towns be favored at our expense?

Sounds like you have a large enough spread to grow your own biodiesel feedstock and won't need to worry whether "us hicks" get some or not when events get to that point.

You know I'm a farmer, eh?

I said diesel is higher because it can not be blended with ethanol.

Gasoline is lower in price because it can be blended with ethanol.

And, yes, "Without diesel to sow, to harvest and to transport corn to the distillery (and transport ethanol to market) you don't have 420,000 barrels of anything.

Show us a piece of farm equipment that burns ethanol..."

I've said from Day 1 here that ethanol is negative EROEI.

But that's why diesel has gone over $4.

It more accurately reflects the supply bottleneck.

Not true...Diesel can be blended with many things. The engine it is used in, must be modified a bit.


But not ethanol.

Conceptually, I have a problem with data that is adjusted because of the rise in the very commodity that is being measured. Adjusting the data is cold comfort if one's income can't keep up with inflation. For me, all of the increase in gas prices are "real". Reality bites.

Sure. If your income didn't increase (or even decreased) in the period (say, over the last year) then you are experiencing the nominal price increase of 22% for gasoline and 45% for diesel (or even more if your income decreased / other expenses of yours incresed).

The table itself contains all the numbers, so you will find the nominal price increase there. It's just a question of which way you want to look at it.

If you look at it through the glasses of a US Gov inflation 'analyst', you will find an increase of 17% for gas and 35% for petrol. Should you be as 'optimistic' as to rely on shadowstat inflation data, you will arrive at a 10% for gas 30% for diesel figure, and if you go nominal it becomes 22% and 45%. You feel it even more if you earn less now than you did a year ago.

Conceptually, I have a problem with data that is adjusted because of the rise in the very commodity that is being measured.

I may not understand fully what you are trying to say. If that's the case, please let me know. It may be my fault. However, I think I've answered your 'conceptual problem' here in the original post:

In my opinion, the US Gov data is too low for inflation, and while the shadowstats data may be correct, it is largely influenced by fuel prices. So for determining the price increase % or the 'real value'of oil we should used 'mixed inflation data', somehwere between US Gov and shadowstats data. I'd say around 7-8% inflation if you exclude oil (fuel).

Did I get it right?


I have no problem with what you have done and my conceptual problem has nothing to do with you or your analysis. I just think that the traditional focus on "real" increases can distort the reality to "real" people with incomes which are not keeping up. People look at "real" price increases and might think things aren't so bad after all. In addition, a lot of incomes are tied to the official CPI which apparently can't be trusted.

In fact, I think that the graphs you have put together over the last few days hae been great and provide a great service to those who read the comments on this board. Keep up the good work.

Sounds to me like you might be happiest with a chart normalised to mean or median income rather than "inflation". Certainly I would like to see more analysis based on the income side.

Good idea. I'm not sure where to find the correct data though. Any suggestions?

I'd use this:

Nice tables that include both baseline and "Inflation corrected" income numbers. I think the baseline numbers are the most interesting for this purpose.

Thanks, I'll check it out. But I won't publish the results today, I have no intentions of hijacking this thread. ;-) I'll post the new numbers in a day or two, OK?

No rush on my account, you're doing the work here.

Thanks for pulling these numbers together. Similar work has been done before, but each new visualisation gives a fresh opportunity for new ideas and insights.

I would suggest that you post it on your blog then post a link to the relevant blog article here but TOD seems to vary widely on whether posting a link to your own writings is what TOD calls "blog whoring" or not. (NOTE: Researching the term "blog whoring" reveals that the apparent definition used by TOD is unique and not consistent with other use of the term.)

However, you really should get some feedback from the TOD "gods" as to whether you should do that or not.

I've read on Energy Outlook (http://energyoutlook.blogspot.com/) that the relative rise in Diesel fuel price at the pump is largely the result of new federal regulations that require a much lower sulfur content. This requires more intensive refining and more feedstock per gallon of output.

While airlines are falling out of the sky at such a pace you'd better look out when you're leaving your peak oil-proof bunker, this railroad is having a party..

Burlington Northern 1Q Net Rises 30%

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. (BNI) said Tuesday its first-quarter earnings climbed to $455 million, or $1.30 a share, from $349 million, or 96 cents a share, in the year-ago period.
Helping Burlington was a sharp rise in its agriculture products revenue, the company said.
Burlington said it is optimistic about long-term prospects despite current economic softness in its consumer products business.

Since the whole railroad is diesel powered, it should've had it's share of rising oil prices, but apparently is still making profit.
How are the other US Class 1 railroads doing, anyone?

Railroads pay less per gallon for diesel than truckers. There is no federal tax to pay for roads, there is no retailer to make a profit as they refuel at the depots, and the diesel arrives at the depots via rail instead of truck. :)

Fortunately, rail transport is also more fuel efficient than truck transport, and they likely buy their diesel in bulk on long-term contracts, which allows hedging against higher fuel prices. By the time their diesel contract comes up for renewal, they can raise their fuel surcharges to compensate.

Lastly, the trucking industry is over-saturated with trucking companies and independents, some of which will have to die off as the market shrinks.

Independent truckers seem to forget that they run a BUSINESS, and therefore, profits are not guaranteed. If my business fails due to higher input costs combined with my inability to raise my prices due to market oversaturation, the government will not bail me out. Why should they bail out anyone else? (My input costs ARE rising due to airfare and lodging price increases, but I am able to pass on my increased costs to my customers, negating any net loss in profit.) A poor business model in regards to inflexible contracts with clients while having flexible prices for their vendors (fuel stations) makes for casualties.

Besides, shifting freight from truck to rail is exactly what MUST be happening. Bad news for truckers, especially the independents, but what must be must be.

They should look into those odd-looking people mover contraptions pulled by semis down in Cuba, and see about getting themselves set up to haul the same things up here. There are going to be plenty of places poorly served or not at all served by mass transit that are sorely going to be needing it very soon. While we all cheer Alan Drake on with his EOT plan, something is going to have to be thrown into the gap, and fast.

There's a town called Drake, in Arizona! Well-named in my opinion, it's a railroad stop that services a mine.

Do Farmers fit this mold as well?

Is'nt a small Farm, or even a large one for that matter, still a business? Is this a market driven price for goods and services?


Independent truckers seem to forget that they run a BUSINESS, and therefore, profits are not guaranteed.

Yet, the truckers can see other BUSINESSES getting bail outs/special deals. So they are wanting some kind of deal for themselves.

(Chrysler, S&L bailout, the present banking issue - all examples. )

Profits are up while overall volume is actually down. The key is that Burlington was able to raise its prices in the face of a recession, market power that the truckers don't apparently have. The existence of a highly competitive trucking market contributed to the deregulation of the railroads in the first place. If the trucking industry suffers a demise, might it be necessary to reregulate pricing in the railroad industry.

I wish the railroads well in an energy short world, but our politicians should be attuned to the dangers of monopolistic pricing practices.

The railroads are gouging the ethanol shippers pretty good right now. This will slow down when a couple of ethanol pipelines open up.

I don't really see that happening all that much. Pipelines are infrastructure, and I think most of the people pushing ethanol know it's a temporary thing just being used to make some agri-industry some extra big $$.

It's always someone else's fault, isn't it, kdolliso? It's never the fault of ethanol producers. It's always someone else.

Maybe it's time for ethanol producers to look in the mirror and face reality.

Cost of nuclear plant fuels battle

The estimated cost of new nuclear power plants has tripled in the past few years, with projections now hitting $6 billion to $9 billion per reactor. Cost estimates are expected to continue escalating. Soaring costs make the prospect of new nuclear power even harder to sell to a public that will ultimately pay for new plants through rate increases.

For those counting on a massive build out of new nukes to continue BAU - don't. It isn't going to happen. There will be a few, to be sure, but no where near enough to come close to make up the deficit. Per capita energy is going down, and going down a lot. Per capita GDP is likely to follow on the same path.

have you got any argumentation to back up those rather ex-cathedra pronouncements?
For a build of, say 125 nuclear plants per year based on the actual costs so far incurred in the Finnish build, where the workforce had no experience and it was a one-off, you come out for the world population at around one reactor for every 52 million people per year, and a cost of around $115 per capita per year.
For your figure of $9bn per reactor you come out with $173 per person per year.
That is for 1.6GW reactors, so your build is around 200GW per year, within the 60 year life-span creating a capacity of 12,000GW.
If you wish to argue that uranium supplies or whatever will not cope with that level, it immediately becomes obvious that newer reactor designs would in practise be used, we know pretty much how to do this, and that level of demand would mean that there were great incentives to introduce them.
This is likely to further reduce costs, for instance by the use of annular fuel increasing output per reactor, so my figures are conservative.
What do you find so unreasonable about those figures?
Of course, costs are high if you use insane regulatory structures with multiple licensing authorities, re-design as you build and do not go for a standard design.
Most of those factors do not apply to countries other than the US, and build costs there are substantially lower.
If people want to get in a tizz about fancied dangers from nuclear power and carry on killing people with the emissions from coal then they can do so, or they can kill people by not producing adequate levels of power, but there is no technical or financial reason why adequate power cannot be supplied.
That is without considering the vast power available from solar energy, where the costs have now dropped enough that it is apparent that most peak power in hot climates can be supplied by this means.

$115 per capita per year

For the vast majority of the world's population that is an unaffordable burden added to the existing burdens. For most of the rest, it is a VERY major burden. Only for the richest nations, and those well enough along within those nations, is it tolerable.

I dare say that a single mother of two, working without skills in the US or UK, would break down and cry when told that she must come up with $345 for new nukes. For some African villages, that would be as much as, or more than, they make in cash money in a year.

I think y0u use that metric to show that it is affordable when in fact, you are showing that it is not.

Also nukes use almost nothing but highly specialized materials and labor and not what makes up 99.9...% of GDP, so using money is a false indication of the ability of society to build nukes. The USA, with it's multi-trillion $ economy, can build only eight new nukes in a decade.


There are a number of things that have to be borne in in mind there Alan.
Firstly, you are not allowing any value to the energy produced.
I have not gone into generating costs, as obviously other costs such as distribution, fuel and maintenance come into it, but OTOH fuel costs at the moment are not zero and so would have to be deducted from the cost.
Additionally, the poor in an African village do not consume much power, so their costs would be far lower, whilst costs in richer countries would be higher than this average.
It is also unrealistic to say that the US can only build 8 nuclear plants in a decade.
Sure, they are not set-up to build quantities of nuclear plants at the moment, and would need to greatly simplify the ludicrously complex regulatory structure, but they basically have run down their capability to build nuclear plants because fossil fuel was so cheap.
China plans to be able to build 10 reactors a year by 2020, and only political factors would seem able to prevent the US being able to ramp up heavily.
As the build gathers momentum, so would the capability - France moved to 80% nuclear electricity in 17 years.
In practise I think the US will have massive contributions from solar and wind power, so I will use Britain as an example as renewable possibilities are more limited and because I am more familiar with the figures.
Present generating capacity is around 75GW, with base load at around 20GW and around 35GW as average load.
Natural gas provides mush of the heating.
To run the whole thing on nuclear power including transport you might need 150 1.6GW reactors, given conservation, electric cars and so on.
Present costs for the one-off Finnish reactor are around £3bn.
Allowing nothing at all for series build.
That's £450bn, with GDP at around £1trn.
Call that £500bn, and over a 30 year build, which is the kind of time it would take to ramp up, that is around 1% of GDP, and way, way less than the cost of doing it with renewables.
It is also way less than the cost of not having power.
I want to emphasise again that I don't see the future in most places as being all nuclear, I am using that as a limiting case to try to show why unless we choose not to we should be able to generate enough power for an industrial society.

It is also unrealistic to say that the US can only build 8 nuclear plants in a decade.

That was the conclusion of a Dept.of Energy report analysizing the on site construction labor market, *IF* some innovative actions were taken to optimize the very limited skilled labor force.

This was close to my own POV, based on more "seat of the pants" knowledge (I was thinking about six).


They would certainly need to ramp up all factors, including train more personnel, and it is obvious that it will take time to reach a decent build rate.

I would agree though that the US has managed to get itself into a situation where they have less capability than they had in the seventies, and less than France when it decided to build their fleet of reactors.

The very difficult regulatory and legal environment, together with their run-down force of technical personnel, persuade me though that the US is a lot less capable than most countries of a rapid build.

Even in the States though, presumably they could re-build their capabilities at least to the level of the seventies, which would at the maximum rate reached then if sustained build out to provide all base-load capacity in the States fairly quickly, taking the average size now of a reactor at 1.6GW and assuming that you need around 300GW or so for base-load - I am guessing the base-load figure from the average requirement of 460GW.

That would need around 150 or so reactors, only 50% more than the current number.

China, India, Russia, Japan, South Korea and Europe using French expertise would seem to have much better prospects of fairly rapidly ramping their build - with growing difficulties in supplying coal I expect a more ambitious target for their nuclear build from China in the fairly near future, and they already plan to be able to build several per year within the next few years.

So perhaps this is rather particular to the US.
Fortunately the US has far better resources of other types than most other places.

I don't suppose you have a link to that study indicating that the US can only build around 8 in a decade?
I did not manage to google it up.
However, I did come across the rather depressing factoid that China will build around 8 in half a decade.
One of the major hold-ups for a US build would appear to be the responsibility of the States for approval, as well as the federal authorities, which greatly increases risks.
A pretty good analysis of the risks and subsidies involved in a nuclear build is here:

It is clear from that that if a major build is to take place then it will only happen in a regulated or subsidised market in the absence of carbon taxes.
Unfortunately at the moment I can't see renewables being able to fill all of the hole for a low-carbon and fossil fuel restricted future, or at any rate not at any cost which is not even larger than the true costs of nuclear.
In that respect though the US has far better prospects than the UK, unless something like wave power works out, and that is at too early a stage to get a realistic assessment.

In that respect though the US has far better prospects than the UK, unless something like wave power works out...

The UK has excellent on-shore and off-shore wind resources, if you would just allow them to be built.

On-shore wind should be the first choice, it is more mature and faster to build. Just learn to appreciate their beauty. THAT is the only hang-up for a massive build-out of wind in the UK, more power than the UK can get from building new nukes.

However, your "tail is in the crack" and you should do both ASAP, NIMBYs be dammed. Plus some more pumped storage.

I downloaded the DoE report on USA labor and build rate for nukes, but I would have to search to find it again. Off to JazzFest in a few minutes. Perhaps tomorrow.


It ain't just NIMBY, Alan, - in my view there are serious concerns:
Scientists agree placing wind farms on peatland is 'disastrous' - Scotsman.com News

Not a lot of point in going to wind power if that releases more CO2.

As for off-shore, at the moment the costs look quite staggering - regardless of the extra costs that I have linked to for nuclear, the figures on offer for off-shore at the moment just aren't on, and it will not get built.

I play no favourites, Alan, and in the States wind certainly looks like a fine resource, but no matter what I do I can't figure a way to make it work in the UK for a substantial amount of power, and your dismissal of reservations as just NIMBY, whatever that means as concern for your environment always starts locally, does not take into account the other half of that equation - people know their backyards pretty well, and have a far better appreciation of what is advisable than those who generalise without local knowledge.

I have read enough foul lies by the UK NIMBYs and looked at the data (a couple of % lower load factor for UK vs. USA projects) to see that NIMBY is the order of the day.

AFAIK, peat bigs tend towards the bottom of hills and wind turbines towards the top of hills. Excepting a very exceptional circumstance, I cannot see where saving peat bogs is the rational reason that UK lags EU wind when nature says it should be leading.

The UK has the best wind resource in the EU and the fewest wind turbines. NIMBY (see what I have read) seems the best analysis. Install 15 GW on-shore in the next half dozen years while the Danes and Germans get off-shore WT experience, couple that with crash conservation and the available NG supplies will be stretched to meet demand.

Best Hopes for Anti-Wind NIMBYs shivering in the dark,


Fine in theory, but show me the plans, show me where investments of that magnitude are being made. Yes, there are some new nukes in various planning stages, but nothing even remotely close to the magnitude that you are envisioning.

It is getting very late for just talk - time for some money to be getting put in the place of some mouths.

The world hasn't got over the illusion that fossil fuels are going to supply most needs.
Here are the current builds and build plans:
France built up to 80% nuclear electricity in 17 years.
In any case, I am using nuclear as a limiting case, and it is apparent that at least for peak use solar will have a massive impact in much of the world - costs have now dropped to an appropriate level.
However, I agree that the penny has not properly dropped, and I would predict supply shortages for some time until most places get the message.

yeah, receding horisons in full blossom. And costs will blossom every year ....

I've been looking into the surprisingly high recent cost estimates for new nukes.

What I've found - it's all in the assumptions.

One needs to make assumptions about interest rates 10 years hence, inflation for various commodities, construction duration and expense timing, and most importantly, labor. Also, some estimates roll in various non-site costs like transmission upgrades.

The FP&L estimate included $517 per kW just for labor.

One factoid that captures some of the problem in the US is that it takes 42 months just for the NRC to review an application - for a previously reviewed and "certified" design while Japan can BUILD a plant in less time - 37 months is the record from pouring first concrete to first 100% power.

Indeed, cost is an issue with new nuclear power plants. The problem is how to reduce the cost without compromising safety. Of course, some political agenda seek to INCREASE the cost for nukes as a form of religous/economic warfare against technical civilization.

Note to Gwynne: peak oil could fend off climate change. Looks like we have dueling crises here at the end of civilization.

Hm. PO will IMO not fend off CC. Think Global Dimming. For one thing. And timelag, for another.
And, also IMO, the CC bandwagon endorsed by so many PO aware governments, may just be a way to prepare the public for less and less available energy.

Again, IMO, both PO and CC are real and converging catastrophes, as JHK puts it.

Peak Consequences are still a few years off, though.

I think Peak stupidity will win. We have too much coal, and we are just stupid enough to use it all. (we being the sheeple)

Oh, I doubt we're anywhere near peak stupidity. One thing that exists in infinite supply. If the limiting factor were suffocation from CO2, we'd go right ahead and do that.

But yeah, on reflection all the above are true. When I wrote the original post, I was thinking of the microscopic measures the politicians are putting forward. You know, where they'll reduce emissions to 1990 levels some time after 2020. Peak oil will do that and then some.

However, what with the melting ice caps and >10K year old methane belching forth, global warming looks to have pulled ahead. Peak Oil just makes our current crop of remediation efforts pointless.

CNBC is crowing about an 8% drop in February demand announced by the EIA this is what they say is driving oil down $2 today. I can't find anything on this, anybody else?

So a 100% drop in demand would drive the price down by $25/bbl?? ((1.00/0.08)x-$2.00) I would be SO relieved to know that is a possibility!


Casual observation.

How often does the price fall the day before
the inventory number comes out?

I'd have to look at a longer term chart to be sure, but Tuesdays seem to be the day prices drop lately.
Then they come back up on the report. It's almost as if the psychology is "It's got to get better soon".

Have you seen fewer cars on the road?

I haven't.

$3.55 here in NW AR.

I have.

There are less SUV's on the road and there are absolutely no NEW SUV's to be seen. They've disappeared.

Buses are full. And there is more bike commuting. I am noticing more equipment on the cycles too: LED light systems, rack and pannier cargo systems. Folks are beginning to take cycling seriously.

Panniers are great - stop my back getting sweaty with a rucksack. This week I got 140 MPG out of my car!! Day 1 in the car 14 mile each way @ 35MPG, day 2,3,4 on the bicycle!! it's a good way of looking at fuel consumption.

I am not noticing less traffic on the roads here in the UK. Any one else experiencing drop in UK traffic? (i don't just mean the last few weeks AKA grangemouth problems) - I mean over the last year or so

I have noticed a lot of 80's and 90's motorcycles on the road. I believe people had stashed them in the back of their garages, and are now dusting them off and riding them again. One little known fact (at least among people who don't ride) is that a lot of those monster Harleys and Japanese sport bikes only get in the 30's for MPG. On the other hand, a friend has a Honda ST1100 sport tourer that gets in the 50's. It really varies, just like with cars. I see a whole lot more scooters, too.

I see more bicycle commuters, but around here there have always been a fair number.

I see a new SUV occasionally and wonder how the shiny Durango with the Hemi is going to look with gas at $7.00 a gallon vs. $3.50. I was reading reader comments on an article about production and jobs being cut at GM's Janesville, Wisconsin plant that produces the Chevy Tahoe. People are totally oblivious to what is going on. They think $3.50 gas is a temporary condition, and people will soon be clamoring to buy 16 MPG Tahoes again.

I'm seeing more scooters too - a local scooter outfit seems to be doing a very brisk business.

Some uptick in local bike traffic, but mostly ridden by slim, fit twenty and thirtysomethings - more sports cyclists than commuter cyclists. Still not seeing many (any, really) folks older than 45 riding around on bicycles, yet.

Seeing a few more people hoofing it, too. In fact, I am thinking it is time to get into gear, get into shape, and start doing the 1.7 mile trek to work on foot each day. Need to get myself a better pack, shoes, and rain parka, but hope to start soon.

Since we're in the mountains, I still see a lot of SUVs on the road. Because of our terrain, they are semi-justifiable, although the Subaru owners are feeling a lot more smug these days when passing SUVs.

I've witnessed more scooters and motorcycles. The MPG on a motorcycle can be pretty low if you're riding a big hog, but on a motorcycle such as mine, I get 80mpg. (Yamaha dual-purpose 225CC.) You can easily get 120 to 150 MPG if you're riding one of those 50-100 cc scooters. I couldn't justify anything that had that small tires, though, given the country roads here...

more scooters and mc's, and more people who shouldnt be riding(two wheel version of spandex - if ya know what i mean). a lot of riders cant drive a car safely let alone a cycle, imo.

The two of us are down to one car and a scooter. The scooter--a Honda Metropolitan--gets 95MPG. It holds one gallon of gasoline! Maximum speed against the wind is about 38 MPH.

Right on! Barbara and I have one four-cylinder Mazda 626 (35 MPG), one Honda Metropolitan and a couple of electric bikes. Bring on $5 a gallon gas! We're ready. TODers should give the Met a close look. They are fun to drive, well-built and good looking. At 120 MPG they will soon be all the rage. After a while you actually prefer to take the scoot rather than the car. See the selection at:
http://powersports.honda.com This is a great way to spend your stimulus checks from the government.

I'm seeing more motorcycles and bicycles, and in this poor area there are always walkers, trying to get somewhere else, pretty sad when "somewhere else" is at a minimum 20 miles away.

Seeing people running errands on small motorcycles, a plastic bag hanging off of each handlebar lol.

BTW I tried the "Depression Chili $2 a bowl" in town today, pretty mediocre. Would be 79-cent chili only a few years ago.

was the $2 chili "all you can eat" -or- "all you can stand" ?

Would you mind telling us where you are located? Apparently either you or I are living in La La Land. I suspect it is me as the people that travel through here seem to be immune to price increases.

Oil drops as demand falls amid supply growth expectations


Oil is dropping like crazy today. Look up in the TOD top left window.

Here it is and what a load of crap! Demand down over January but that may have something to do with February having fewer days than January. Yeah how about 6.5% fewer days 2/31 = 6.5%. What a dishonest play on words.

Oil drops as demand falls amid supply growth expectations
By JOHN WILEN (AP Business Writer)
From Associated Press
April 29, 2008 1:37 PM EDT
NEW YORK - Oil prices fell more than $3 a barrel Tuesday as the market absorbed data showing demand is falling even as supplies are rising. Gas prices inched higher at the pump, continuing their record-breaking press toward $4 a gallon.

A monthly Energy Department report said demand for finished petroleum products dropped 8.5 percent in February from January, and demand for gasoline fell by 6.2 percent. Though some of that drop can be attributed to February's being a shorter month, it still suggests high prices are cutting American's appetite for fuel.

Net oil supplies dropped over the past four weeks. Net oil consumption was yet over 20 million barrels a day.

See the Weekly Petroleum Status Report from last week:

Total Prod Supplied for Domestic Use (thousand barrels per day) 4/18/2008: 20,720
4/18/2007: 20,559 (four week averages)

Total petroleum stocks excluding the SPR are down 3.6% compared to a year ago.
Crude oil stocks were down 5.6% compared to a year ago. Imports were declining, yet we have seen a twelve month depletion of the stockpiles instead of replacing oil in storage.


Will need to see if the .1% build in stockpiles that happened last week will continue for 36 weeks to rebuild stockpiles to what they were a year ago, or if we can accept lower stockpiles as expedient as the SPR is yet being filled.

Domestic oil production has been declining since 1971.

Currently Russia began to experience declining production this year. The #2 and #3 oil producers in decline. #1 Saudi Arabia has warned oil production capacity might not increase after 2009. This is due to the limited nature of their geological reserves and their need to ration the remaining oil fields as they are smaller than ones currently being depleted. Someone posted a map of large Saudi fields and most of them are developed or part of the current plan for development to replace declining production occurring in depleted areas by 2010.

Eventually the world might realize its oil resources have peaked. Not enough data for that today.

I have expanded Pictures of Oil to include Diesel Mountain as well as graphs along the same vein (pun intended) for global production of crude oil, total liquids and, by subtraction, unconventional oil. As one might expect, these graphs show a different trend; the recent years are much more "hidden" that prior years.

Nice graphs!

Anecdote; My buddy owns the local meat wholesale. For the last couple of months he has been telling me about how the ranchers are selling off herds due to high cost of feed and energy. I was buying top quality prime rib for under $5 per lb.

I had drinks with him last Sat. and he said that the price to him has gone up over $1.50 per lb across the board and his suppliers are talking about further $ hikes and even shortages.

Said he didn’t understand all the fuss over rice, “Americans don’t eat rice, they eat beef and if they were smart they would sock away a side of cow in the freezer not 100#s of rice”.

Anecdote, #2: The community college I now attend uses 28 gauge, 3' X 8' sheet metal to fabricate HVAC ductwork. The most recent order was $16 a sheet. Previous order was $9 per sheet. They were also informed if supply ran out price per sheet would be $20.

Americans don’t eat rice, they eat beef

I am once again reminded that we are not Americans down here in New Orleans.

Other than dirty rice and jambalaya, where the bits and pieces of meat mixed with rice could have been pork or beef, and bits of sausage (also uncertain between beef & pork), I cannot remember the last time I ate a slab of beef. Well over 6 months ago (this year I missed sharing my traditional porterhouse for 3 served in sizzling butter on Mardi Gras afternoon).

I can remember the last duck, lamb, squid, rabbit, fish, shrimp, oysters and crawfish I ate. All within the last month. Squab was about 6 months ago, chicken about 1.5 months ago.

Mention that to your beef friend.

Best Hopes for diverse food sources, with little or no corn feeding,


Alan - His is strictly a meat and potato perspective.

I sell more lamb than beef. 75% of what I sell has no meat.

Portobello shrooms are like steak if done right.

I do red beans & rice, dirty rice, Gumbo over rice...

I can make good eats out'a just about anything.


Had real good gumbo that used alligator sausage at The Redfish Grill while visiting NOLA prior to last years ASPO-USA conference in Houston.

And I'm having leftover chicken and rice casserole tonight. A lot less exotic than what you folks eat down in NOLA, more on the order of comfort food, but most assuredly "American food".

A very close friend was over for dinner, and the subject of menu planning arose. He said: "I don't plan, I just do whatever strikes my fancy or buy at the store or Farmers Market." My long work history in restaurants and institutional food service make it mandatory that I plan. As the night wore on, there were many instances where he'd relate some event, and I'd tell him how some form of planning shaped that event. Fortunately, we've been very close for 30+ years now, so we're used to rattling each other's cage. He and his wife are very serious about relocalizing, which of course entails a lot of planning.

As for foodstuffs, I've rediscovered millet, which is far more complex and healthier than rice, corn or wheat; and if one incorporates nutritional density into monetary cost, millet is by far the least expensive. A few days and threads ago, I mentioned ethnobotany as an important component of knowledge. In doing research related to Nigeria, I came across acha, and in looking for its definition, I came across The Lost Crops of Africa, which you can even read for free online.

Scroll down for the free table of contents and other content.

The Lost Crops of Africa is the coffee table nook in Hans Herren's office at the Millennium Institute. "A bit of educational reading while waiting" was his reasoning.

Best Hopes,


In my province we just paid pig farmers 50 million to cull their pigs, because they can't afford the feed.

I've got the rice, but also been buying sides of beef and farm chickens from the local area farmers. If they can't afford to feed them and are almost practically giving it away then I'm stupid not to buy it. But this in turn will create a mass shortage in the market which in turn will drive prices up. I'm saving money running an extra deep freeze now then buying it later.

I saw this article in the New York Times this morning about how Mrs. Clinton is supporting McCain's loony gasoline tax-cut scheme. I can't believe that Clinton would be so short-sighted as to support this. Maybe she's desperate for anything that would tip the scales in her favor. In the article, she claims that the lost revenue will be made up by taxing oil companies but what's to stop the oil companies from just adding that to the cost per barrel?

*edit* Here's a quote:

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton lined up with Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, in endorsing a plan to suspend the federal excise tax on gasoline, 18.4 cents a gallon, for the summer travel season. But Senator Barack Obama, Mrs. Clinton’s Democratic rival, spoke out firmly against the proposal, saying it would save consumers little and do nothing to curtail oil consumption and imports.

Mrs. Clinton said at a rally on Monday morning in Graham, N.C., that she would introduce legislation to impose a windfall-profits tax on oil companies and use the revenue to suspend the gasoline tax temporarily.

Do you really expect sensible energy policy from any politician, let alone one that's running for president?

I don't think she's really this short-sighted. I think she knows about peak oil; her hubby has given speeches about it. She's just trying to get elected. That's what politicians do.

There's a theory that human intelligence evolved not for hunting or tool use, but for politicking. Man is the animal that lies.

Having small children in the house again has reminded me of this. It is amazing how easily the lie comes for children, even those who are just learning how to talk. (if you'll excuse the "potty humor," it goes like this - "Son, did you poop in your pants?" "I didn't!" And the smell becomes overwhelming.)

Hmmm. I've been amazed at how honest children are!

True, they can be honest to a fault. But it seems to me that children understand from the beginning that language is no more than a tool to be used to manipulate their world. Lie or truth - I don't think they are making that moral judgment, they are simply trying to get what they want.

Green vervet monkeys also lie. They have separate alarm calls for snake, leopard and eagle. A monkey who finds food in a tree, for instance, will utter the eagle call when no eagle is sighted, sending other monkeys down from the canopy, leaving all the food to her- or himself. Conversely, a monkey who finds food on the ground will give the snake call, sending his or her fellow monkeys up the trees. Lying is a primate plesiomorphy.

And roosters will lie as well. They typically make a certain sound when they find food to get the hens running to them (and prove their usefulness to the hens). However, they also make the same sound when there is no food, so that they can...mate the hen.

Possibly unhelpful and I'm sure poorly described anecdote... I saw a TV show some years back on the subject of lying. The point seemed to be that it's "necessary" or something. Anyway, one segment presented the research of some British folks. They had two dolls, an Altoids tin or something, a marble or some such small object and a child subject of the experiment. The first doll would walk to the tin, place the object inside it, close the lid, and leave. The second doll would come by, open the tin, remove the object, close the lid and leave. Doll A would come back and the researcher would ask the child, "Where is she going to look for the marble?" Until age three or so (IIRC) the child points to the other doll. After that, they point to the tin. This, they claimed, was the critical moment in development that enabled lying, that point at which someone realizes he or she knows something that someone else doesn't. Before that, it's all just truth.

Yes. That's a striking difference between humans and apes. Lying comes naturally to us, in a way doesn't to them. They can learn to deceive, but it's much more difficult for them.

Ape is a set, human is a subset. Humans ARE apes. Monkeys aren't apes. Humans aren't monkeys. Both apes and monkeys (& prosimians) are primates. Primates are mammals. Humans have certain unique attributes. So do other apes (& other animals in general). I don't know how "naturally" deception comes to other apes but since humans, other apes, & at least some monkeys lie, the propensity to do so seems a catarrhine (apes & old world monkeys) - if not primate - plesiomorphy.

I don't think there's any doubt that the difference between humans and other primates is a matter of degree, not kind. In particular, monkeys and apes show an ability to understand others' state of mind, which is the basis of deception. I suspect it's not a purely primate talent, either. It's probably found among other mammals that live highly social lives.

Nevertheless, even chimps, our nearest relatives, find it relatively difficult to deceive. OTOH, human children lie naturally. Not necessarily realistically, but naturally.

I suspect it's not a purely primate talent, either. It's probably found among other mammals that live highly social lives.

Agreed. I just don't like statements that seem to or could be construed to draw some kind of fundamental dichotomy between humans and other apes or other animals in general. Statements to the effect that humans "evolved from" apes, for instance. Humans ARE apes, just as birds ARE therapod saurischian dinosaurs. Cladistic taxonomy is just simple set theory. We are apes just as we're mammals, sarcopterygian fish, animals, eukaryotes, carbon-based terran lifeforms. Sets within sets. Paraphyly bugs me. Of course humans demonstrate some unique attributes but so does every other species.

You're an astute person Leanan. The only thing I've seen you stumble over was your surprise that banks are tightening credit to smalltime slumlords. Everything else I've seen you post I've thot was intelligent & I've pretty much agreed with. You didn't come right out & say that humans aren't apes or that humans are in some metaphysical sense unique. If I read too much into your post I apologize.

I often find my self getting into arguments with people who react with horror to my assertion that there is nothing fundamentally different between humans and animals (of course the differences get bigger as you move up the taxonomic chain).

Although really I'm only replying to express my thanks for the wealth of 'biolexical' gems you've been dropping today.

I agree, the biggest differences I see between humans and other animals is increased tool use (for an awesome example of tool fashioning and use in a crow, see here) and a higher degree of communication, oral and written. I suppose an increased frequency of lying comes along with the communication part.

Any day I read the word "plesiomorphy" twice before breakfast promises to be an interesting one.

Of our border collies, one was a great liar, but wasn't smart enough to fool a human. (edit: 'least I THINK so..) Deception as a strategy is so basic that I'd expect to see it in about everything but social insects, mole rats, and the like.

Unfortunately, we're killing off all the other apes, so humans may soon be the only surviving ones. Great shame.

Do you really expect sensible energy policy from any politician, let alone one that's running for president?

Yes I do expect a sensible energy policy out of someone running for president. I'm sick and tired of the level of lying and irresponsibility present in the current government. We've gotten more than our usual share in the last 7 years and it's time for the pendulum to swing back the other way, or at least go back to the usual dirty tricks instead of the starting trillion dollar unnecessary wars level of dirty tricks. I voted for Mrs. Clinton in the primary because Mr. Obama's proposed health care plan is unworkable and Mrs. Clinton showed me she had thought about the problem and came up with what sounded like a reasonable solution. She is not demonstrating quality right now.

Yes I also know that I'm being pie-in-the-sky idealist for demanding reasonable policies out of our political candidates. I think this must be a side effect of not watching cable news any more... :)

Leanan - "I don't think she's really this short-sighted."

I have supported Hillary over Obama from the beginning but it is getting increasingly difficult. The say anything do anything desperation is leaving me turned-off.

Obama may be "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington" but Hillary appears more and more like Senator Paine (Claude Raines secretly corrupt charachter). Perhaps a neophyte such as Obama is the proper choice.

He'll learn soon enough!

Um, yeah. Just like Jimmy Carter learned.

Actually, I think it's likely McCain will win. And I'm okay with that. He's not as extreme as Dubya, though he's kind of had to pretend to be to win the nomination.

And I suspect whoever wins will not get a second term.

As Susan Estrich said, this was the year for a safe white man. A Kerry or Gore would win easily. I'm not sure the US is ready for a black man or a woman as president. The general electorate is a lot more conservative than the people who vote in democratic primaries.

"I'm not sure the US is ready for a black man or a woman as president. "

I felt this way not long ago, now I'm not so sure I'm not so sure.

I think many are coming around to points that were unheard a while ago, especially concerning energy and climate. Peak oil is mentioned in media more and more in part because more people are believing it. Fuel price rises are inescapable, and after 2 years of leaders extolling others to increase production, it's sinking in on the most of the country that maybe they can't. Combine it with food price increases, and many old assumptions are being questioned.

Assumptions may be questioned, but I don't think people vote on energy or climate issues.

I suspect by the time the election rolls around, it will be pocket book issues that drive the election. Which isn't really different at all. I suspect Hillary would have the advantage there, as she proved in Pennsylvania and Ohio. But Edwards would probably be more of a sure thing. Especially the 2004 flavor of Edwards.

I know my father would normally vote republican, however he has two of three of his grown up kids who are uninsured not to mention the majority of his grandchildren. For him to vote for McCain would be against his own interests.

He also fears if things go wrong for anyone of them he might have to reach in his pocket to help out his kids and "he don't like that". Ever heard of cheap!

I had this - perhaps - nightmare recently as Jeremiah Wright has been on "tour".

Obama limps in with a slight lead in delegates and popular vote.

The Dems select Hilary based on "electability".

Obama splits to be an independant and runs splitting the Dem vote..

McCain wins.

I must be bored.


Like the the tic-tac-toe sequence from "War Games" X's and O's over and over to a draw. Cat's game. McCain wins...McCain wi..

We need radical change as much now as in 1932.

The GOP ran the country into the ground back then with the premise that white Protestant businessmen (ergo the market) can never be wrong about anything. Meanwhile, under the surface was growing a proletarian, largely immigrant society with a new culture of jazz, booze, secularism and social justice, lead by Black, Jewish, Irish and Italian pioneers - people who in many eyes didn't qualify as "white". 1932 was a revolution, and it was won because ordinary WASPs lost confidence in their own inbred barons and turned to a coalition with those they had been trained to mistrust.

The question is, are we now seeing a Black man running against a woman because Whites are so desperate for answers that they are willing to go outside of the Priesthood of Reaganism?

He's not as extreme as Dubya...

Really? Some would disagree:


Eh. I'm not really concerned about foreign policy. I don't think our foreign policy will be dictated by the president, at least in the next four years. Besides, it's not like the Dems are much better, with Hillary rattling her saber at Iran and Obama rattling his at Pakistan.

What really drives me nuts about Dubya is his hostility toward science.

"Pocketbook issues" Financing the US Empire cost the public more than $1.5 Trillion last year alone. Next year it looks like the $2 Trillion level will be breached. That's a lot of wasted lives and tax dollars that could be used to mitigate the "pocketbook issues" of higher costs for everything being driven by Peak Oil and insubordinate energy "policy."

The only politician still in the two-party race that's honest about the source of "pocketbook isssues" and what must be done to alleviate them is Ron Paul. That he's not mentioned in this thread shows just how well the corporate media has manipulated the whole process and how bankrupt is political thinking.

The only politician still in the two-party race that's honest about the source of "pocketbook isssues" and what must be done to alleviate them is Ron Paul. That he's not mentioned in this thread shows just how well the corporate media has manipulated the whole process and how bankrupt is political thinking.

That Ron Paul is not mentioned is more likely because most TOD'ers understand what a utopian pipe-dream Libertarianism is.

Dr. Paul doesn't get mentioned on TOD because the man does not have an energy policy most TOD posters can get behind.

That, and barring an Act of God, McCain is the anointed one.
http://www.dailypaul.com/node/47172 - a version of what happened in Nevada. An interesting read.

Besides, it's not like the Dems are much better, with Hillary rattling her saber at Iran and Obama rattling his at Pakistan.

Who would Hillary bomb - just to prove she's tough enough? Maybe Nigeria. That would give her opportunity to bail out the oil companies. Perhaps there is some other poor defenseless country. Haiti again?

It seems to me the biggest issue is torture - that the US election will be a vote on the Rule of Man or the Rule of Law. Every idea we here might have about how peak oil unwinds depends on that. The current group of thugs will face capital charges if the Rule of Law. They walk if we merely elect another constitutional dictator. The stakes are high.

As Heinberg noted in the Museletter at top of thread, time to redouble our efforts. Nothing left to lose is what the logical half of my brain says. The other half wants an HSA and a 3 inch steak. (Range fed, thank you, and crusted with pepper.)

cfm in Gray, ME, Milliways

Dubya before the election didn't seem to be as extreme as Dubya after the election.

That's true. A friend of mine in Ohio voted for Bush because she didn't like Clinton's involving us in "foreign wars" and thought Gore would be more of the same. Her son is now in Iraq. For the third time. She feels very betrayed.

Didn't the Democrats come up with some huge funding bill for the war in iraq, bigger than any Republican would dare come up with?

It's one party, the Empire party, and it WILL win. McCain will be President, and the 1932-type change will come only when the Empire is overthrown.

I'm sure most people have seen this but it still gives me a chuckle:


John "100 years in Iraq" McCain is plenty extreme enough to bankrupt the United States and finish it off as a great power.

Which is fine with me as long as he doesn't end up using our nukes in the inevitable hopeless bid to hold on to dominance.

We in Texas thought Bush wasn't particularly extreme when he was governor here. When he ran for President he talked about capping CO2 emissions. According to a recent PBS Frontline special, EPA chief Christine Todd Whitman tried to hold him to that promise, only to find that Cheney had already gotten to him. Cheney only needed a patsy who loved war - Bush had told an interviewer during the campaign that his father should have gone all the way to Baghdad - and the war itself would shape Bush into fanaticism in every policy area. That's what wars do.

When McCain comes in he will find Cheney offering him a pre-packaged cult of imperialists to staff every agency. At age 74, the old man probably will greet this with relief. On to the next war.

It appears McCain will have an even bigger and better war to play with if he is elected. A massive Israeli/U.S. strike on Iran definitely appears to be in the works. Let's hope they're just bluffing. But not to worry about the price of oil. Cheney, on his recent attack planning tour of the Middle East, was assured by Saudi officials that they would supply a massive production boost if needed! That makes us peak oilers feel better.

Leanan - "I'm not sure the US is ready for a black man or a woman as president."

Why not? "They've had a retard for the last seven" Chris Rock

Yeah, but it was a white, male retard.

Leanan "yeah. Just like Jimmy Carter learned..."

Let's review Jimmy Carters Presidency:

1. Created Energy department to deal with energy independence
2. Ran the government on the cheap (pay as you go, or tried to)
3. Kept out of war with Iran during hostage crises. I realize that a lot of shoot from the hip Americans prefer high theatrics. Too bad!
4. Raised CAFE standards
5. Put through 55 MPH speed limit.

All the above repealed by Ronnie Rayguns a b-Hollywood-actor and failed las vegas performer.(and those were his greatest acomplishments)

I could go on for several pages but it frosts me when people who don't know use Carter as some kind of scape goat. His biggest sin is he tried to talk to Americans like we were actually grown-ups.

Big mistake!

I like Jimmy Carter, and more or less agree with his politics. But he was an ineffective president. He ended up unable to do much in Washington, because he didn't have any experience. He became a laughingstock.

Ronnie Raygun wouldn't have been able to dismantle all that stuff if Jimmy had gotten himself re-elected.

Hillary appears more and more like Senator Paine (Claude Raines secretly corrupt charachter)

Oh, if one digs into the records, one can find plenty of rather questionable actions VS money.

On all 3 of 'the leading choices' - but because Obama has had less time in office - there does seem to be less.

Keting 5, overbillings, statically dievant profits in the animal market.

Our current propensity for deception is a very old evolutionary survival trait, and used when you can't trust whom you're dealing with.

It's also part of the reason for us needing a few hundred hours of human-equivalent energy per person for support and survival, where our ancestors needed only a few hours of human energy per person for support.

You do not need to deceive those with whom you have mutual earned trust. We do not trust each other, because we learn not to while growing up from our parents, priests, and proctors, which they learned from theirs.

Madolyn: Sometimes you have to lie, you know, to protect yourself.
Costigan: Oh, so one of your parents was an alcoholic?
-- "The Departed" (from memory)

That you would be so willing to dismiss such a callow action on the part of Ms Clinton illustrates how necessary it is to elect leaders who will tell us what we don't want to hear. Given Bill Clinton's all talk and no action policies on climate change can we really expect that Billary will actually expend political capital to address the pressing issues of our time - even if their advocating counter proposals is as hypocritical as this? As the Mighty Magombo says, "We're freakin' doomed!!"

That you would be so willing to dismiss such a callow action on the part of Ms Clinton illustrates how necessary it is to elect leaders who will tell us what we don't want to hear.

And while we're at it, why don't we elect leaders who will invent perpetual motion machines that will give everyone on earth free, limitless energy?

Politics is the art of the possible. This isn't.

For the last two presidential races, I've said 'there's no way the Dems can lose this time, right?' (While ultimately voting 3rd party when the writing was clearly on the walls..)

Boy.. it's almost as good as a GWB flub. "If you can't dazzle them with sheer brilliance, then just muddle it all with sheer madness.." - I don't know. I took a shot.


James Carville, speaking at the Orlando International Builder's Show on Feb. 12, 2008:

"For both you Democrats out there, I got good news for you. We have to literally talk our way out of winning this election.

For the Republicans, being a lifelong member of the Democratic party, I can assure you we are perfectly capable of doing that."

In Carville's case, it's something other than talking. He's married to his wife.

I've got it now! Hillary will be McCain's running mate! What an election year??!!

LOL. But then I wouldn't be surprised. "Straight talk from a coalition government"

The interesting thing would be if the Dems were in the midst of a 3-way race-Say Edwards or Richardson or whoever had lasted, and it had to be duked out at the convention.

More likely that he's got Lieberman in mind. Notice how MUCH the two are appearing together? It would make an interesting combo, for sure.

Possibly, but I don't think it could happen. McCain needs to keep the right wing engaged, and that would send them reeling. Given his age, the next in line becomes that much more important. Maybe if he officially became a GOPer, but even then, his blood isn't red enough.

My fear is another neo-con VP, a succession at some point, and a Cheney clone (or perhaps the man himself) pulling the trigger.

I'm sure that a windfall profits tax will be a really good way to encourage more investment by the oilcos in exploration and development.

Comedians LOVE politicians. Where else would they find all their material?

Why dont we just nationalize the oil companies and get it over with?

If population doesn't drop - the military and farmers would get 1st choice on the rations. So it'll be like nationalization - but for consumption!

Keep the corporations in private hands, but regulate what they can do, who they can sell to, how much, and at what prices. Sounds like a winning formula. I think it was tried in Italy and Germany 3/4 of a century ago.


Do you really expect voters to believe that the solution to $4 a gallon gasoline is $5 a gallon gasoline from the extra taxes some want to levy?

You guys are asking the wrong question. What people want to know is how to LOWER the cost of energy, not how to make people use less of it.

No, McCain's proposal cuts right to heart of our debates on energy policy in the US.

Cost overruns.

We see many, many articles, about budgets for schoolbus fuel to projected costs for nuclear power plants overrunning their budgets.

As resource contraints kick in, expect more of this. It applies to oil and gas exploration, as we have seen(Shakalin, Kazhagan), as well as to road maintenance, (light)rail construction, grid renewal, war, and water.

Some kind of positive feedback loop seems to be at work already. And it will only get worse from here.

If you work on public or commercial infrastructure projects my advise is to increase cost projections by 30-50% at least. If you don't, you fail your job.

Just a thought.

I was speaking at a pesticide applicators continuing education seminar last fall and used the first quarter of my hour presentation discussing how people working for public agencies were going to see their budgets get cut and their costs go up due to the collapsing housing bubble and energy costs. I told the lawn care operators that their expenses for fuel, fertilizers and pesticides were going to go up - way up. Heck, I even mentioned $4 gas. They all sat there like bumps on a log. I wonder if they still remember what I said.


Our president is on TV now discussing the energy problem and if his statements reflect the best thinking of the government we are in big trouble. More refineries, more domestic exploration, ANWAR, etc.

Rube - And Bush even wanted nuclear - he must have read what the founder of Greenpeace recently said. What nonesense!!

We need to stop all exploration for oil, gas, and coal; no wind (its an eyesore that kills birds); no refineries (and since they pollute, shut all of the existing ones down); no nuclear - shut them all down since no one will let us store spent fuel; but we should start burning all of our food for a fuel source and utilize solar. This is what we should do. Doing what Bush suggested would really get us into big trouble.

Some village in Texas is missing it's idiot.

He mentioned putting new refineries on Army bases (not "ideally located" for transportation of crude in and products out BTW, he should have mentioned Navy bases) while refineries are operating at "idle" today (low 80%).

He failed to mention his killing a project that would have stimulated the economy (we would be 2 months into construction today) and saved 20,000 to 25,000 b/day when built out.

He pushed ethanol again.

I was a Republican from age 19 till age 52, but GWB cured me.

Best Hopes for a Reformed Republican Party after a decade plus in the wilderness (see 1932-1948/52),


Voodoo Economics cured me, but I had hope until more recently.

On the other claw, the Democratic candidates are quite scary in their own ways lately, and the Libertarians are so detached from reality that it would be like putting the government in random-walk mode.

Here's hoping for sane politicians sometime soon.

R4ndom: "Libertarians are so detached from reality that it would be like putting the government in random-walk mode.Here's hoping for sane politicians sometime soon."

I lean libertarian, yet consider myself quite realistic. I have accepted the reality that my government will fail in its efforts to improve my life, manage the economy, and save me from impending disasters like PO. Furthermore, more often than not, their very efforts to make things better, will actually make things worse than if they had never tried in the first place. On the other hand, someone still hoping for a sane and competant politician...... well, that would make you quite detached from reality. We'll see 120 million bbls/day before your sane politicians arrive to save us all.

When the government is gone, you'll love your new Halliburton overlords. Check out Naomi Klein's writings for the truth of intentional mismanagement.

Oh, I'm definitely "little-l" libertarian.

The problem with "Big-L" Libertarianism (and the Austrian school economics that informs it) is the definitional problem of "what is government". They seem to have a blind spot at the intersection of Government and Corporation, and that is the intersection where the most personal liberties get left behind.

So, because I am libertarian, I could never in good conscience vote for a Libertarian.

he must have read what the founder of Greenpeace recently said

minor correction - Pat Moore wasn't "the founder". Just one of the core people.

I was listening to Rush Limbaugh during lunch and he was ranting about energy and Bush's press conference. At one point he said the concept of peak oil was "asinine" and that there was plenty of oil out there, citing Brazil, Bakken, Caspian Sea, etc. Anyway, he said that Bush got a question about peak oil or the peaking of global oil production. Can anyone provide a transcript of the question and Bush's response?

Let me make sure I have this right. Rush Limbaugh actually said the words, "the concept of peak oil"?

Bench: I can't vouch for his exact words but he did ridicule the peak oil question in Bush's press conference. It should show up on Rush's web site tomorrow.

I catch about 1-2 hours of Rush's 15 hours per week of broadcast time. He frequently talks about global warming and how it's nothing more than a power grab by the liberal left, but this was the first time I've heard him talk about peak oil. Interestingly he has everything else just about right (i.e. the superiority of oil/fossil fuels vs. alternatives, the folly of corn ethanol, the hypocrisy of politicians' arguing for carbon caps or taxes while simultaneously decrying high gasoline prices, etc.). He also blasted farm subsidies today ("Big Corn") which he admitted would annoy some of his loyal audience.

It'll be interesting to see if and when Rush reallocates his broadcast time to spend more time talking about (i.e. attempting to debunk) peak oil.

Here is the transcript of Rush Limbaugh's energy rant. It's actually a good read. Rush is going to try to pin the blame for our energy problems on the liberal left. It's an inconvenient truth that many peakists happen to be conservative, e.g. Matt Simmons, T. Boone Pickens, Roscoe Bartlett.

The Four Horsemen of the Energy Apocalypse Caused This Oil Mess

Hint: Rush's four horsemen are: Bill Clinton for vetoing drilling for oil in ANWR, Mario Cuomo for shutting down at least one nuclear power plant on Long Island, Jane Fonda for making the China Syndrome, and Al Gore for breaking a tie vote in the Senate over ethanol.

Isn't Limbaugh just a hoot to listen to! I think he's hilarious. He must go home at night laughing the whole way. AND to think he's been keeping up this charade for nearly twenty years!

Haven't seen a transcript yet, but it will probably be posted at the White House site soon.

Here's what The Carpetbagger Report had to say:

Asked about peak oil and renewable energy research, Bush said, “[Y]ou say that people think we can’t — there’s not any more reserves to be found. Well, there are reserves to be found in ANWR; that’s a given. I just told you that there’s about 27 million gallons of diesel and gasoline that could be — from domestically produced crude oil that’s not being utilized. And not only that, we can explore in environmentally friendly ways.”

Asked about possible steps the administration can take “in the short term,” Bush said, “[O]pening up ANWR is not long term, it’s intermediate term. But it sends a clear signal, is what it does.”

In all, in a 50-minute press conference, Bush touted drilling the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge six times, including a few times in response to unrelated questions.

Here it is:


Wendell: Mr. President, you just said there's not a lot of excess supply out there. Some energy experts think we may have already passed or be within a couple of years of passing the maximum oil-pumping capability. In other words, we may be close to tapping all we've got. Do you think that's the case? And if you do, why haven't you put more resources into renewable energy research, sir?

Bush's answer was basically to drill in ANWR, but he did make a number of comments throughout the press conference indicating that he understands the peak oil condundrum - see the Energy Bulletin article for a good summary.

Anybody know who "Wendall" is?

Asking Bush about Peak Oil is like asking Hitler if he knew how many Jews he was killing. Of course he knows, which is why he's doing the same as Hitler by continuing Clinton's work in Iraq.

The journalist who asked the peak oil question was Wendell Goler, White House Correspondent for Fox News.

I just got done watching the press conference on CSPAN. For some reason it scared the hell out of me. Bush was asked directly if he thought oil had peaked. Although the press guy (Will Glover I think) didn't use the work peak oil. After Bush hemmed and hawed...he starting blathering on about ANWR and how we can now drill without environmental impact, said how much petrol can be had from ANWR, and if congress had acted back in 1999 we would already be reaping the rewards. I think you can watch it here:

"There is no magic wand to wave..." Bush said. Is that sort of like saying "there are no silver bullets" but intended for the gun-shy, Harry-Potter-fed crowd?

Oh, oh! Does he mention how he's using the political capital he's a building with the Saudis to get the tap turned on?

April 30th normally marks the end of our heating season (although that's perhaps a little optimistic in these parts) and it's also the date when my fuel oil provider's price cap is set to expire. I made arrangements to have my tank topped up earlier this morning at this much lower rate and, with that, I now have this year's oil consumption figures in the bag.

Just by way of background, we use fuel oil for domestic hot water production and as a backup heat source for our ductless heat pump; at this point, DHW accounts for roughly two-thirds of our fuel oil demand – some 500 litres/year – with space heating making up the rest. This winter was just slightly colder than last – 6,829 HDD versus 6,786 – and very close to the rolling six-year average of 6,797 HDD. Last year, we used a total of 830 litres and I'm pleased to report that after various minor tweaks and changes, that number has fallen to just 702 litres (187 gallons). In the 97 day period spanning January 23rd through April 29th, we used a total of 226.3 litres or an average of 2.33 litres per day. As noted before, in the winter of '01/02, the previous home owners used 5,700 litres and at the current, non-cap price of $1.109/litre, that's a savings of $5,545.00/year ($5,110.00 after subtracting the operating cost of the heat pump).

A complete record of our fuel consumption can be found in PDF format here: http://www.datafilehost.com/download-b314d18d.html

To reduce our oil use even further, we're installing a small (67 litre), 120-volt/1,500-watt electric unit to pre-heat the water that is supplied to our boiler's indirect hot water tank. If we keep the electric tank set at 60C and leave the indirect tank at 50C, we should be able to displace virtually all of the oil now consumed for domestic hot water purposes. In addition, the higher inlet temperature should cover-off most if not all of the standby losses (if I recall correctly, the SuperStor Ultra indirect tank has a rated heat loss of just 0.5F per hour or less than 7C per day). We could simply by-pass the indirect water heater altogether, but I would prefer to exercise the boiler from time to time so that the valves and controls don't seize-up, plus it can provide backup duty during times of unusually high draw (e.g., when we have guests). Further to this first point, with the boiler's Tekmar control system, in the absence of any space heating or DHW demand, the boiler temperature will fall to room temperature but once every two days it will open each zone value and run the circulate pumps for five minutes just to keep everything in proper working order.

Once we have the electric water heater in place, our fuel oil consumption should fall in the range of 200 litres per year (53 gallons) and given that electric resistance is now less expensive than fuel oil, it makes more sense to use electric heat as a backup to the heat pump. That being the case, there's an excellent chance this will be my last fill for several years to come.


There are some good solar thermal hot water units that are competitive, in terms of return on investment, even in jurisdictions with cheap utility costs and not great solar fractions. Solar thermal DHW is booming. The flat plate collectors are very robust, with probably more than 25 years of life in them. You are very technically savvy, so this is more for other readers who don't know... they are essentially pre-heating systems (for all but the sunniest locales) that can be paired with (almost?) any other water heating system. Aside from being a solid investment and a good way to save on CO2 emissions, they offer price and supply reliability that others sources can't touch.

Of course you have quite possibly considered this alternative, and certainly not every site is viable (although you might be surprised)... so best of luck with your new system.

Hi pedestrian,

Thanks for your comments and well wishes. As much as I would like to add a solar hot water system, there are several factors conspiring against this option; namely: a maritime climate with less than half the solar potential of other areas; an east-west orientation and complex roof-line (multiple dormers); heavy shading on the south exposure due to extensive tree cover; and, lastly, unusually modest DHW demand. This last item is the real deal breaker for us; we're a two-person household and we're both very frugal in our water usage.

Looking at our most recent twelve month billing history, we used a total of 43 cubic metres of water last year or an average of 118 litres per day (31.3 gallons/day). That number includes daily showers, laundry, dish washing, toilet flushing, lawn and garden watering, vehicle washing and so on. I'm guessing less than half this amount would be heated; e.g., two, five-minute showers at 2.7 litres/minute is 27 litres per day and, in reality, that's a mix of both hot and cold water. In any event, if we assume an average of 60 litres of hot water demand per day and a temperature rise of 45C, our energy requirements are just 3.1 kWh/day. If we add another 1.4 kWh to cover-off standby losses, our total demand is 4.5 kWh/day, which amounts to less than 50 cents at current rates (i.e., 4.5 kWh @ $0.1067 per kWh).

Although still damn hard to justify on economic grounds, what I really want to install is a heat pump water heater, like this GE model:


The video link can be found here:


At an estimated retail cost of less than $1,500.00, it would be about one-third the cost of the solar option and for six months of the year it would provide me with "free" hot water in that one of the side benefits of its operation is dehumidification and the electricity that would normally be consumed by my dehumidifier could be used by used to run this appliance instead.


As I suspected you have given this much thought!

I forgot to mention, the savings you have achieved so far are quite impressive... your neighbours should enlist you to design a district heating system :)

Hi pedestrian,

Thanks kindly. I work mostly from home and I noticed that my neighbour's tank is refilled about once every three weeks during the coldest times of the year. I wouldn't be surprised if their annual consumption runs in the range of 5,000 to 6,000 litres (1,500 to 1,600 gallons). With taxes, that's upwards of $7,000.00 at current prices. Personally, I couldn't cope with that amount of pain, but it doesn't seem to trouble them in the least, or that's the impression I get whenever we've discussed this topic in the past.

I work in the lighting field and I work hard to extract the greatest amount of useful work from every kWh consumed. Thankfully, most of my clients share this same goal, but there's the odd one who couldn't care less and it's not because energy efficiency conflicts with some other objective or need; it's just that they assign no value to it, even though it could potentially reduce their operating and maintenance costs by several tens of thousands of dollars a year. I just don't understand it.

On a more positive note, the CIPEC 2007 Annual Report (Canadian Industry Program for Energy Conservation) contains a write-up on one of my clients. See the section entitled New Lights Save Energy at Neocon International at: http://oee.rncan.gc.ca/publications/infosource/pub/cipec/annualreport-20...


Hi Paul,

I took a look at your data; it's all in liters and I'm too lazy to convert. Is there any chance you could convert it to BTUs and also provide normalized data in the form of BTU per square foot and/or BTU per square foot per degree heating day? Even better if you could separate out space heating and domestic hot water. And is there any way for you to report on your entire space heating energy inputs (i.e. both electricity and fuel oil)?

In suburban Boston we had 5500 heating degree days (HDD), and I consumed about 65,000,000 BTU of natural gas for heating (about $1100). This comes to 39,500 BTU/sq. ft. or 7.2 BTU/sq. ft./HDD. Domestic hot water plus clothes drying comes to about 37,000,000 BTU/year (about $625). I'm doing much better than I used to but I still want to cut all those numbers in half.

Hi Calorie,

I'll give it a shot. There are 36,500 BTUs or 10.7 kWh of heat energy in each litre of fuel oil. My boiler has an AFUE rating of 82 per cent, so the net gain is 29,930 BTUs or 8.77 kWh per litre and, on that basis, our household fuel oil demand this year was 21 MM BTUs or 6,158 kWh. The ductless heat pump provided a further 33.5 MM BTUs or 9,816 kWh of space heating so, taken together, our total space heating and DHW demand would have been 54.5 MM BTUs or 15,974 kWh.

My records suggest roughly 500 litres or 133 gallons of fuel oil demand can be attributed to DHW needs, but some of this fuel would offset a portion of our space heating demands. The estimated EF (energy factor) of an indirect hot water tank is 0.60 during the summer months and 0.80 during the winter - these tank and boiler standby losses during the winter months are not wasted in the true sense, in that they help offset some of our home's normal heating requirements. If we assume 20 per cent is ultimately recoverable, the actual number is closer to 400 litres.

Our home is a 40-year old 230 m2/2,500 sq. ft. Cape Cod with very little in the way of passive solar gain. The ductless heat pump and oil-fired boiler are pretty much the only heat sources, in addition to lighting and appliance related gains and a modest amount of in-floor electric radiant heat (no more than 200 kWh/year, tops). So, looking at just the space heating component, 300 litres of heating oil translates to be about 9 MM BTUs, the ductless heat pump kicked in another 33.5 MM BTUs and the in-floor electric heat 0.7 MM BTUs, for a combined total of 43.2 MM BTUs (12,647 kWh). Dividing 43.2 MM BTUs by 2,500 sq. ft. suggests a space heating load of 17,280 BTUs per square foot or 54.5 kWh per square metre. Dividing this number by 6,829 HDDs, gives us an estimated 2.53 BTUs per square foot, per HDD.

In terms of electrical demand, our running twelve month consumption is about 10,500 kWh, of which some 4,100 kWh can be attributed to the operation of the ductless heat pump. I figure our next largest consumer is the dehumidifier at perhaps 1,200 kWh/year but virtually all of that occurs during the summer months and so it would have little or no impact in terms of our space heating requirements.


Thanks for doing those calcs and converting them to English units - I really ought to start using MKS. You are doing very well. You are using less than half the energy on a normalized basis that I'm using. I think I'm doing better than average but not great.

My house is an 80 year-old 1650 square foot (153 square meters) colonial, housing four people. My annual electricity consumption has been quite stable at just under 6,000 kWh/year. So my total energy consumption is about 36,000 kWh/year.

Hi Calorie,

Actually, for an 80 year old home your numbers are rather good (homes of that vintage were never well insulated and are notoriously drafty to boot). Certainly your electricity consumption at less than 500 kWh/month is barely half the national average. My low numbers were possible only because I literally ripped out everything to the bare walls and started over - few homeowners are willing to go to such extremes and in many cases it's pretty hard to justify the expense and all of the mess and disruption that this entails.

Congratulations on your efforts thus far and best of luck as you further advance down this path.


I'm no Heinberg fan...mostly on account of his back-to-the-land idea which I would say is grossly exaggerated even if you accept his assumptions on oil production.

But IMO he does get this right (sort of):

For those of us who have been lobbying in that latter direction for some while, this is no time to let up, but rather the ideal moment to redouble our efforts.

What about folks who lobby for the electrification of public transit or investment in public infrastructure suitable to a post peak world?

Is all hope lost?

By no means! It actually often makes more sense for those projects go ahead when times are bad. The reason: you don't have near the competition with the private sector for resources: materials, labour and expertise, financial capital. Costs are much lower than they would be otherwise and the economic activity provides an employment boost when it's most needed.

This is why public infrastructure spending is often counter-cyclical. ie. It occurs during recessions and depressions. (Check the '30s for many examples)

[many will say there will be no funds available but that would be plain wrong. There is always funds. The key is to persuade people to part with them. BTW, the federal debt is not very high by historical standards or even current ones. Look at Japan!!]

This is why public infrastructure spending is often counter-cyclical. ie. It occurs during recessions and depressions. (Check the '30s for many examples)

That kind of thinking is sooo 20th Century. Forget infrastructure! Hand out money directly to the public to buy doodads.

Yes indeedy. Flat plate lcd TVs will save the world.

George you would have made a good Franklin Roosevelt. Unfortunately, we live in the age of GW Bush -- where public funds are disbursed to enrich your largest campaign contributors.

Agreed; Public works projects are best done during slow economic periods, for just the reasons you cite -- the classic Keynesian stimulus. However, as we can see, the current economic slowdown has not reduced the price of energy or raw materials. The only cost that is being contained -- at least in the US -- is the cost of labor. With US labor's pricing power all but gone, we can expect to see the cost of essentials -- food, fuel, medical expenses, etc -- continue to eat an ever larger share of middle class incomes. There will absolutely be NO relief from this.

A secondary effect -- one that I think you have repeatedly ignored or tried to soft peddle -- is the effect that squeezing middle class incomes will have on the US economy. As many have previously pointed out, the US economy depends upon the middle class having some discretionary income. As discretionary income dries up, companies will go bust, further eroding government tax reciepts.

So good luck in finding tax dollars for such things as urban renewal and light rail projects.

The article by Richard Heinberg is really good but on the same page he posts an article by Matthew Stein. Or was it by Heinberg, I couldn’t really tell. Anyway:

Indeed, the entire system has failure built into it. It is based on the ever-increasing consumption of depleting, non-renewable energy resources. As we consume the cheapest, most easily accessed of those resources and are forced down the net-energy ladder, the technological systems on which we have come to depend will inevitably shudder and give way.
That’s what I mean when I say technology will fail.
But don’t take my word for it. A recent issue of New Scientist (April 5, 2008) explored the emerging study of how and why complex societies tend to collapse, leading with an article titled, "Why the Demise of Civilization May Be Inevitable."

So I googled: Why the demise of civilisation may be inevitable
and found a free copy of the New Scientist article. It is a discussion about the opinions of those who see collapse as inevitable and those who think there just might be an outside chance that civilization can be saved. Opinions of Tainter, Lester Brown, Homer-Dixon and several others are discussed. But it is obvious that the author of the article leans toward Tainter:

The stakes are high. Historically, collapse always led to a fall in population. "Today's population levels depend on fossil fuels and industrial agriculture," says Tainter. "Take those away and there would be a reduction in the Earth's population that is too gruesome to think about."

Ron Patterson

Ron--That part of the Museletter was Richard's forward to the second edition of Stein's book.

Foreclosures spike 112% - no end in sight

More than 155,000 families have lost their homes to foreclosure this year; one out of every 194 U.S. households received a foreclosure filing.

I don't know what you all are going on about - rising prices, cost overruns, etc. My government tells me that inflation was only 0.3% last month. That certainly isn't very much. So, what ARE you talking about?
{sarconol off}

Am I the only one who thinks that Heinberg might be biting the bullet a bit too early?

Breakdowns can also occur very slowly as multi-generational slow motion exercises. Also, this might not be the beginning of an end (that is, if one subscribes to such a point of view).

It could be that things will deteriorate continuously from hereon after, or then not.

I'd really like a poll on this with a question like:

Are all the current symptoms (financial crisis, oil price hikes, food riots, biofuel hysteria) signals that the final decline after peak oil has begun for good?

1) Yes. This is the big one. It's a trendlike downward spiral from here forwards, even if we get an occasional good year or two every now and then.

2) Perhaps, but we might still be on an undulating plateau and things can get bounce back, and stay level for quite some time.

3) Undecided. Too little data to compute.

4) I don't think we're on a geological plateau yet, more projects will come online, we will go closer to 95-100Mbpd, credit crisis will unwind in a few years and food prices will normalize in time. Final peak is yet to be here.

5) Nope. Not the final peak. People are confusing financial troubles, commodities speculation/bubble, fall of the price of dollar, price of oil and geological lack of oil with each other. We're not there yet and the current bad trends just happen to synchronize, but are causally not very related.

It would be interesting to see how people vote.

I'd be a 2.5

Worst case: the current plateau is slightly downward sloping for the next 20 years with high prices all the way.

If there is more oil than that, the guys who have it should get together and and pretend otherwise since a plateau of that nature might take care of global warming.

What happens after 20 years?

Try imagining a different scenario. Try to imagine the impact of world oil production falling from where we are now to about 55 mbpd by 2020. Go ahead. Just try imagining that. And that's not a prediction by a crazy doomer either. It's the number predicted by A.M. Samsam Bakhtiari. And his predicted production curve has been the one most correct for C&C over the last few years so far.

So go ahead. Try on 55 mbpd by 2020 for size. Get your mind around the endless possibilities. But don't dwell on Australia too long as the Mad Max concept is already copyrighted.

I'm a 2, or maybe a 1.75. I think we're likely there, but I think (hope) it will be a slow decline in the form of a bumpy downward sloping plateau.

It depends on whether Memmel's right.

If Memmel's right, and I think his argument is strong, it would mean we'd come off that slow decline soon (in maybe a year or a little more), and things would speed up greatly a year or two after that.

In any case, I started buying back my oil contracts this morning. I'm gambling a bit, because I don't have a real buy signal yet. I'll post when we have a more secure entry point for people who want to do something short-term.

I'm hesitant to get back in before the Fed announcement tomorrow. I think if they Fed doesn't lower rates (or lowers 1/4 and signals no more), then I expect oil will take a sharp dip. The wild card is the inventory report tomorrow. While I'm of the general opinion that the weekly inventory numbers are largely noise, they can move oil.

As for collapse, I favor a variation of "punctuated equilibrium", which is to say rapid deteriorations followed by periods of equilibrium at a new lower level, until that level cannot hold, and we have another rapid deterioration to a new temporary equilibrium. Rinse and repeat till we hit bottom. I don't know where the bottom is, but I don't expect to see it in my lifetime.

Hi Moe,

How does one buy oil contracts and how do they work or where can I find out? For example I assume you pay an amount for the right to sell a set amount of oil at a future date? Who is the counterparty to this trade because if they can't settle then regardless of the price you have lost money.


It is often easier to destroy than create. A clear example of this is the former World Trade Center: Compare how long it took to construct the twin towers to the time it took to deconstruct them. I believe there's a very real possibility that western civilization could crumble rapidly, though I don't think it's a certainty. Peak Oil is a negative pressure on the business of civilization--in my mind, it increases the likelihood that a fast crash could happen. Hopefully, though, my species is able to rise to the occasion and prevent the mother of all self-inflicted tragedies.

That said, I'm somewhere in the spectrum between 1 and 2.



I'm definitely a one (1). It is all downhill from here. It will get a little worse each year except the decline will accelerate a little each year. I am predicting 2017 as the year of total collapse. Of course that's just a guess but it's my guess and I am sticking to it.

Ron Patterson

Thank God we have so much time. And I thought the problem was urgent. The rational approach seems to be to party.

Neither. I think in the end the civilization will muddle through and will come out with a combination of electrical transportation/nuclear/renewables, replacing FFs.

That being said I think this and the next generation are in for very rough times, mostly because of the inability of humans to plan for the long-term future. If I have to make a prediction - it will be all bumpy downhill the next 30-40 years, then slow recovery.

P.S. Some time ago I predicted 2008 as the year of "beginning of the end". I don't know whether I should be happy with that, but in retrospective I think I will be proven right.

I agree with the neither. I don't think this is the "beginning of the end" only the "the end of the beginning".:)

Well one way or the other it will be the end of the world as we know it :)
I doubt it will be an easy ride though.

I made a confusing poll 'stub', I fully admit it.

It combined the idea of peak now or not AND what happens due to the peak.

It is interesting to find out what people think happens due to the peak (nothing, good things, bad things).

However my intention was to ask if people think this is the peak now, due to the fact that all sorts of 'gloomy' clouds seem to be gathering on the horizon.

I'm not an end of the world type of person myself, although I admit that option must be included within the range of possibilities. It really comes down to belief in the end. No way to prove it either way.

Also, I'm not convinced we've started the final downward geological slope as of yet. Perhaps, but I'm not yet convinced and believe that there's still a bit of additional production in the reserves that will boost the peak.

Maybe Leanan or somebody can post a proper / better poll about all this, one of these days.


(3) also.

I think Kunstler is a 1.

These days, even people in our culture who ought to know better are wishing ardently that a smooth, seamless transition from fossil fuels to their putative replacements--hydrogen, solar power, whatever--liesjust a few years ahead. I will try to demonstrate that this is a dangerous fantasy. "The Long Emergency" page 3.

Or perhaps a 2.

The view I offer places me somewhere between these two camps, (cornucopians and the die-off crowd), but probably a few degrees off center and closer to the die-off crowd. I believe that we face a dire unprecedented period of difficulty in the twenty-first century, but that humankind will survive and continue further into the future--though not without taking some severe losses in the meantime, in population, in life expectancies, in standards of living, in retention of knowledge and technology, and in decent behavior. "The Long Emergency" page 5.

But then you are talking about timing not the severity of the crash. Well if you are convinced that Kunstler is right, and there will be a severe die-back, then the sooner the better. That is the population is still growing and the ecosystem is still being destroyed. So the sooner it happens the fewer the people who will die and our ecosystem will suffer less destruction.

Ron Patterson

I keep remembering that graph of caribou populations taking a nose dive when they reached the saturation point. Exponential growth. That's probably why I'm at a 1.

It's mostly #1 - *but* by region, town, neighborhood. How many recall the story of cops on the outskirts of New Orleans literally shooting at the trapped surviors to keep them from exiting N.O. and entering their little suburban enclave? There will be cases of cops and cases of no cops, but the whole damn planet is really just going in the same direction.

I'd put myself at 1.45 this morning, down from 1.47 yesterday.

(several comments, some new)

I'd be a 2 but the continuing probability that 'solutions' like Iraq and corn ethanol combined with further bailouts for failing sectors will accelerate the decline so (US)1.5 scrambling for footholds all the way down.

Power switch now would push the life expectancy of the system out quite a ways. That would mean understanding that peak oil means peak wealth and no more tolerance for 'ideas w/o futures'.

3 ... I need more, but not much

Is the poll for global conditions or only the USA? For it is clear some countries are already experiencing the beginnings of collapse, while others are booming as if nothing untoward is happening. Given the question includes "food riots" and that they have yet to occur in the USA, I'm assuming the question relates to global conditions, for which the general answer must be 1.


Good poll. Personally I think if the average person is polled (from a Canadian perspective) you would need another category..... Huh?

My work for example; a facilities department of an educational facility. Engineers and technical people educated in physics and there are about two of 10 who actually understand the problem.

Maybe Heinburg thinks like me and trying to scale down now with the advantage of the cushion of modern society rather than waking up one day with no option. It is better to slide down a hill than be thrown off a cliff.

It is better to slide down a hill than be thrown off a cliff.

That would depend on what your goal is. If you wish to break a speed record, the cliff is better. If you only want to get to the bottom as soon as possible, again the cliff is better.

I'm not trying to be a smart ass, but I do think its important to remember that not everyone shares the goals and values that we might think are obvious.

(1) Peak civilization was about 1970ish. We've been on the plateau for some time. Or maybe in the air off the edge of the plateau.

Environmental destruction has been devasting - ice free arctic this year perhaps? Environmental toxicity, species destruction. Resource depletion - that's peak oil but also overcommitted forests-chipped and turkey shit. The Gini index means we can't fix it without violence. But still we grow, grow, grow.

The crises don't have to be related. But they all demand resources to correct and we don't have the resources. The petrie dish is full and the easy nutrients are almost used up. What's the point of arguing over how long it takes to replace our automobile fleet? We don't have the resources. And when we don't have cheap energy to extract the lower and lower quality resources that remain, the price will skyrocket, the quality will suffer and trash will pile up.

That is exactly what has already been happening for the past thirty years or so. Silent Spring.

cfm in Gray, ME, Milliways

Logging in currently takes me to the my account page. Would it be possible to arrange it so I'm automatically taken back to the page I was reading before I logged in so I don't have to search for the post I was interested in replying to.

Yes. That is such a pain, especially since it seems like logging in seems to be required more often these days.

Leanan said in a DB a few weeks ago that the server is having to be rebooted periodically, which causes the loss of cookie session status, which means you have to log in again. Essentially TOD is becoming a victim of it's own success with all the traffic that is coming in. :)

Apparently, it's not so much the traffic as as the size of the database. There are now over 300,000 comments posted, and, well, I guess we're experiencing declining marginal returns on complexity. :) It's searching the database that's killing the site, not really the number of hits.

Reasons why I never liked MySQL and prefer PostgreSQL.

Mysql is OK, but you need to use Innodb or one of the other transactional table types if you are going to be dealing with any real traffic. Table locking stinks.

The new Rudd government in Australia wakes up to the reality of the oil crisis. For 10 years the previous Howard government had ignored the problem and thought to finance oil imports by exporting natural gas. But now:

OLLIE CLARK, NATURAL GAS VEHICLE ASSOCIATION: The thing that strikes me as being rather quaint, to put it mildly, is that we pay anywhere from about $8 billion to $25 billion to import the oil and we get a poultry $4 billion for the gas that we sell to overseas countries. It seems odd to me, especially given gas is a superior fuel for many, many purposes including the use in motor vehicles.

Well, the problem is here to set priorities. The car dreams continue:

GREG HOY: Already plenty of big car manufactures are making natural gas fuelled vehicles overseas, and many Australian homes already have natural gas. So with a small compressor you could easily fill up your car at home.....


Oh yes, this gas distribution is designed for cooking and a bit heating in winter but not to supply millions of cars.

We'll be lucky if all our buses run on compressed natural gas (CNG) by the time the crunch time arrives.

Quite a serious roundup of energy news today. I can't help but feel that people are starting to wake up to the problem - even if the reactions are a bit off base: read the comments on this times article:



UN: Biofuel Production 'Criminal Path' to Global Food Crisis

GENEVA, Switzerland, April 28, 2008 (ENS) - The United States and the European Union have taken a "criminal path" by contributing to an explosive rise in global food prices through using food crops to produce biofuels, the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to food said today.

At a press conference in Geneva, Jean Ziegler of Switzerland said that fuel policies pursued by the U.S. and the EU were one of the main causes of the current worldwide food crisis.

There is an interesting article in the May 2008 in Harper's. Called "Numbers Racket, Why the Economy is Worst Than We Know" by Kevin Phillips. I highly recommend carefully reading it. It supports the inaccurate nature of the standard inflation statistics tossed about by various media types.

Remember that there are intersecting emergencies. Energy, water, food, and global climate change. Sadly we are unprepared for any of these.

I'll have a read, thanks. Not only are we unprepared, we are unable to fix any of these. Perfect Storm as such things are called.

Criminal is the best one word description. Alas, given, Iraq, global climate, and the budget deficit, etc we all suffering from an overload of crimes and many are being committed in our name.

The Real Cost of Tackling Climate Change

Begin with the current inventory of carbon dioxide emissions – CO2 being the principal greenhouse gas generated almost entirely by energy use. According to the Department of Energy's most recent data on greenhouse gas emissions, in 2006 the U.S. emitted 5.8 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, or just under 20 tons per capita. An 80% reduction in these emissions from 1990 levels means that the U.S. cannot emit more than about one billion metric tons of CO2 in 2050.

Were man-made carbon dioxide emissions in this country ever that low? The answer is probably yes – from historical energy data it is possible to estimate that the U.S. last emitted one billion metric tons around 1910. But in 1910, the U.S. had 92 million people, and per capita income, in current dollars, was about $6,000.

By the year 2050, the Census Bureau projects that our population will be around 420 million. This means per capita emissions will have to fall to about 2.5 tons in order to meet the goal of 80% reduction.

It is likely that U.S. per capita emissions were never that low – even back in colonial days when the only fuel we burned was wood. The only nations in the world today that emit at this low level are all poor developing nations, such as Belize, Mauritius, Jordan, Haiti and Somalia.

When people feel the bite from energy depletion then I don't belive they will be wanting to make even more sacrifice in the name of reducing their carbon footprints. that reduction will be forced upon us. That is why I belive it is utterly poinless talking about "reductions" in the name of stopping AGW.

Secondly who is going to TELL China, India and Pakistan to stop builing more coal power stations? Who is going to enforce that.

iv'e said it before. We are going to be draggged kicking and screaming into a low carbon world and it's not going to be in the name of saving the planet - although we may be told that along the way by big brother.

It's amusing watching the anti peak oil crowd and the fervant AGW believers fight it out!


Secondly who is going to TELL China, India and Pakistan to stop builing more coal power stations? Who is going to enforce that.

Not sure why you would select out China,India and Pakistan. Who is going to TELL the U.S. to stop building more coal power stations? Who is going to enforce that? Let's be real, here - The U.S. remains the biggest producer of CO2 and the biggest per capita producer of CO2.

Yep I agree with that, but I understand that it is the 3 countries I mentioned above that are building new capacity. Also i'm definitely not saying they deserve any less enrgy per capita that the US either. It's just that there are vast reserves of coal left to burn (how vast is debatable).

"The U.S. remains the biggest producer of CO2" not any more, this year China now produces more CO2 than the US does.

"...and the biggest per capita producer of CO2." Not for long, within 17 years, all things being the same, China will outdo the US there too.

WOW! Those are some amazing claims - care to provide some evidence?

Here is your basic Wikipedia list - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions

If it is remotely accurate, China would have to increase it's CO2 output by more than 20% or 1 billion tons.

To achieve parity with the U.S. on a per capita basis they would need to grow to an annual output of over 21 billion tons or almost as much as the entire rest of the world produces at present.

Maybe what you say is true, but given those numbers I'm going to need to see more than just an assertion.

Hello TODers,

..Imported raw material costs were cited as the main reason forcing fertiliser producers to increase prices. Costs had risen in many instances by 15 per cent or more in the month of April alone.

On the world market, the price of diammonium phosphate (DAP) has risen $350-400 per tonne to $1,400-1,500 per tonne over the past month, Sy noted. The price of potassium fertiliser has risen $130 to $1,000 per tonne and that of urea $70 to $450 per tonne. All were expected to continue rising.

...the price of sulphur, a chemical element mainly used in fertiliser, has increased to $700 per tonne, double last year’s price.

Using stored sulphur has allowed prices to remain stable for a time, said Lam Thao deputy director Tran Ngoc Bach, but it would be difficult to maintain the price once production relied on new supplies of imported sulphur.

One Last Big Push for Phosphate Mining

...For the industry, the question is whether the end of mining comes sooner or later. “Florida is out of business in terms of phosphate by 2040,” says G. Michael Lloyd Jr., research director of the Florida Institute of Phosphate Research.

...Over time, increasingly efficient production began to deplete central Florida’s reserves. In 1900, it took miners a year to excavate a 15-acre site with picks and shovels. A century later, enormous draglines, working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, can dig up 15 acres a month.
This is why I think FFs will always be postPeak directed to I-NPK as long as possible; doing this by hand labor drastically reduces output. Recall my earlier post where hand mining is upwards of $400,000 per ton [BTW, it will never reach this price unless hyper-inflation occurs]. But it could easily reach the 1914 price again of $14,500/ton if FFs keep rising.

Is the classic 'divide, then conquer' strategy underway; will postPeak global powers be more closely contending for Morocco phosphate soon?

...Illegally annexed by Morocco in 1975, Western Sahara is Africa's last colony and sometimes referred to as Africa's East Timor due to the striking similarities between the histories of the two nations.

In Australia, a significant portion of the commercial agriculture sector is reliant upon phosphate taken from Western Sahara. Revenue goes not to the Sahrawis but to the wealthy Moroccan monarchy, against the wishes of many Sahrawis.

International court rulings have confirmed Morocco has no legal rights in Western Sahara.

Yet, the occupation remains, kept in place by a well-funded and well-resourced military. Estimates put the cost so far for Morocco to maintain its occupation in Western Sahara at $US 95 billion.

This occupation includes the Berm, a 2700 km long sand wall constructed by Morocco and manned by 140,000 Moroccan troops. This wall, separating communities and even families is wound in barbed wire, riven with trenches and security boulders, dotted with radars and dog patrols, as well as over 3 million landmines.
Recall my numerous earlier postings on Africom, Mo-rock-oh, and Barbary P-irates. Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

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

Some more I-NPK info. Please recall my earlier postings on how FFs and sulphur have a double whammy effect upon mining, beneficiation, and global distribution of I-NPK:

Demand and availability of food to feed the world is now driving fertiliser costs far more strongly than energy prices, high though they may be.

Already one leading academic, Jaap Schroder from Wageningen, asserts that mankind has reached the stage where choice is inevitable between maintaining biodiversity or feeding the world. Decisions on a global scale are needed and fall outside the four year decision making life cycle of the average politician. Who will make these decisions?

...Not surprisingly this caused the nitrogen price to rocket by a further $100 dollars overnight with urea now standing at £600/t in some markets.
Yikes! $100 increase in 24/hours? Have you hugged your bag of NPK TWICE today? :(

I encourage TODers to read the link above, not just my teaser segment!

note; POT (potash of saskatchewan) is currently down to 182 after being "downgraded". I've just bought more at that price. I think the "downgraders" may not 'get it'.

Still may go lower, but this is a slight discount...

I bought at 195...am going long. I too do not believe they "get it".

Already one leading academic, Jaap Schroder from Wageningen, asserts that mankind has reached the stage where choice is inevitable between maintaining biodiversity or feeding the world.

There will be no feeding the world without biodiversity. This is a false choice. Move too far toward mono-culture on a global scale and we'll see ecosystem level collapses that will make global warming look like a walk in the park.

The insects are going to own the next century, Mosquitoes and locusts are going to do really well. Bad news for food production

Bah, not in America! In America, the people are SO powerful, they managed to kill off the North American Locust!

Hello Shaman,

I second your cogent point: "There will be no feeding the world without biodiversity."

That is the eco-basis of my postings on Earthmarines, Asimov's Foundations, and the sequential building of biosolar habitats. Time will tell if the world awakens, then desires optimal decline, or if it is merely wishful thinking on my part--I am a fast-crash realist working to smooth the Bottleneck ahead for both humans and other species.

Bob, I enjoyed you link on the skybikes the other day, pure genius. If you could combine the aerodynamic jiggery pokery demonstrated in the following video allowing pedal powered vehicles to reach 70 mph.


Build in 100W of PV with a small electric motor, and you have a recipe for fun.

Would be easy to include a simple electric wind / water powered ski lift for steep hills. Also regular physical exercise would bring a lot of benefits to many people. Save £50 a week petrol bill and £50 a month gym membership.

Sounds like fun to me

Hello OMGlikeWTF,

Thxs for responding--coolest video, the pedaler inside must be a world-class cyclestud like Lance Armstrong!!! But a blowout at those speeds could be lethal. I am not engineer enough to know, but it seems steel and/or carbon fiber wheels on rails might be much safer.

IMO, 10-15 mph average railbike speed while hauling 200 or more pounds of goods is more than sufficent, downhill cruises obviously faster. As you mentioned, a minor energy-slave assist system for the brutal uphill grades will be most welcome.

I hope the bio-metric experts and engineers on TOD are exploring commuter railbikes that could be much more efficient than the ubiquitous rickshaws in use around the world. A sleek design for ten or twenty people moving almost effortlessly at 30+ mph seems attainable.

At some point, the weight and complexity of chain drive for multiple pedalers becomes inefficient. Perhaps the pedalers could compress air or a fluid to drive the commuter railbike, and each person would have a PSI-gauge to show their effort, or to be monitored by the other pedalers so they can yell at you for slacking off. ;)

Yet another US ally with a "Tibet" problem (Israel, Ethiopia, Mexico vs its Indians) that our media chooses to keep silent about.

RE: Toplink US air force calls for mission to combat climate change

"The US air force will this week call for the world's top scientists to come together in a 21st-century Apollo-style programme to develop greener fuels and tackle global warming."

It wasn't but a few weeks ago other stories were pointing at the big coal to liquids push of the Air Force.

Actually, the US Air Force could kick ass combatting climate change. But not in ways that would make the USA any more popular.

Yeah, nuke all the coal-fired power plants and oil refineries - that would sure make an impact. Lower CO2 emissions AND kick up a lot of dust into the upper atmosphere. Welcome back, Arctic sea ice!

After yesterday's discussion of the lack of much reduction in demand in the US, what in the world does this mean?

A monthly Energy Department report said demand for finished petroleum products dropped 8.5 percent in February from January, and demand for gasoline fell by 6.2 percent. Though some of that drop can be attributed to February's being a shorter month, it still suggests high prices are cutting American's appetite for fuel.

These are the revised figures for February. The earlier reports were wrong and so were the folks yesterday. High prices are definitely causing some demand destruction. And as people switch to cars with better gas mileage and other means of transportation, there will be more demand destruction.
These things simply take time and the longer prices stay high, the more pronounced will be the demand destruction.

Ron Patterson

Perhaps. But 29/31=0.935, thus a 6.2% reduction in the unadjusted total monthly usage from January to February is actually a slight increase in the daily usage.

University Spin-Off to Begin Field Trial of Methanogenic Degradation of Heavy Oil Next Month


Researchers from Canada and the UK expect to begin field trials next month on the ability of anaerobic microbes to process in-situ heavy oil to produce methane—i.e., methanogenic degradation of heavy oil.

And this is good news?

Re: diesel vs gasoline. We've discussed here the low price, in the USA, of gasoline relative to crude in the last year or so, as compared with their historical relationship. But if the global shortage of diesel (due in part to electrical generators, as described in one of Leanan's quotes above) is the driving factor, and even if refineries are making as much diesel as they can, is there really a "glut" of resulting gasoline? This does not make sense to me, since the total amount of oil being refined is about the same as it was a couple of years ago, and all the gasoline produced then was used. And now there should be somewhat less gasoline output, if the refineries are optimizing their operation for diesel. Thus the gasoline market should be just as tight. Unless the refineries cannot shift their operation enough - but then the price ratio of diesel to gasoline should be much higher than the 14% or so that it is (retail), and gasoline stocks should be building fast?

Story today on suburban backyard market gardens. Has embedded video link also


Hope the link works. Surprisingly to me, there is also a statement that backyard rentals are appearing on Craig's list. A fad, or will they catch on?

Surprisingly to me, there is also a statement that backyard rentals are appearing on Craig's list.

For months I've been talking about my idea for garden sharecropping. It looks like it is starting to go mainstream, which is great! People who have been saying that "Americans will never convert their lawns to food" have failed to reckon on garden sharecropping. One motivated person can sharecrop several people's lawns - even the better part of a couple of blocks if they do it full time. In this way, we are going to see food production (of vegies, at least) relocalize far quicker than anyone could imagine.

Hello Leanan,

Thxs for the toplink:

"Sask. might be good bet for nuke plant, TransCanada CEO says"

I am not expert enough to know whether nuke is best, but I do know that continued energy-slave mining and beneficiation of I-NPK to allow the growing of possible food surpluses will be the root-basis of any future job specialization. Let's just hope no major earthquake collapses the thousands of miles of underground tunnels and wrecks the surface factories in Saskatchewan. If this ever happens: any O-NPK will be more precious than gold.

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

I am not expert enough to know whether nuke is best, but I do know that continued energy-slave mining and beneficiation of I-NPK to allow the growing of possible food surpluses will be the root-basis of any future job specialization. Let's just hope no major earthquake collapses the thousands of miles of underground tunnels and wrecks the surface factories in Saskatchewan.

Hi Bob,

There have been half-hearted attempts in the past to bring nukes to Saskatchewan, but they never really amounted to much. The sense I get is that most people are not in favour of nuclear plants around here.

A for earthquakes, I wouldn't worry too much about that. While within the realm of possibility, the fact is that most seismic events here are quite small. The geology is mostly sediment, which is why we have so much potash lying around. See this page for details about that.

My thxs to all that replied to my postings. One last link before I call it a night:

Shortages Threaten Farmers’ Key Tool: Fertilizer

...Overall global consumption of fertilizer increased by an estimated 31 percent from 1996 to 2008, driven by a 56 percent increase in developing countries, according to the International Fertilizer Industry Association.

“Markets are asking farmers to step on the accelerator,” said Michael R. Rahm, vice president for market analysis and strategic planning at Mosaic, a fertilizer producer in Plymouth, Minn. “They’ve pressed on it, but the market has told them to step on it harder.”

“This is a basic problem, to feed 6.6 billion people,” said Norman Borlaug, an American scientist who was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his role in spreading intensive agricultural practices to poor countries. “Without chemical fertilizer, forget it. The game is over.”
Peakoil reducing sulphur & I-NPK flow rates is what scares me and why we need to rapidly ramp O-NPK recycling to help optimize our decline plus reduce fertilizer runoff into the rivers and oceans.

As posted before: sitting in the dark with a full belly is pure luxury compared to starvation.

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

Interesting oil and commodities comments on Market Ticker today.

Nice box you put yourself in Ben. Did you listen to OPEC? Every 1% you cost the dollar with your foolish "liquidity now!" tamping down of the EFF results in a $4 rise in the price of oil. And oh by the way, they have the oil and we want some.

Never mind the global food problem you sparked. See, all that liquidity you threw around, all the 23A Exemptions you handed out, and the willful turning of your head to fraud and bubble economics has now blown a huge bubble in foodstocks. Your "banker buddes" and their Hedgies piled into commodities, driving up the cost of food - a bubble that is even worse than housing, in that starving to death certainly trumps being broke when it comes to "actual harm."

This has led directly to food riots and will, if we're not careful, result in famine and millions of deaths. Its one thing to talk about "stealth costs" and financial rape of the middle class, but now you're being tagged as the proximate cause of actual starvation.

Still think you did the right thing Ben?

posted by Genesis

A couple weeks ago I mentioned that I obtained an induction hob and that I've been extremely pleased with its performance. Other than its dependency upon electricity, it's a superior alternative to gas in just about every respect and it beats the pants off conventional electric or halogen elements.

For an entertaining and easy-to-understand overview of this technology, check out the video link at: http://www.geappliances.com/products/introductions/induction_cooktops/ov...


Here's a scary post-peak housing option:

Climate Change Protection Complex

"They take five of these steel 27 foot long tanks and link them together, and includes everything you will need to survive for up to ten years. Each of the modules serves a particular function..."

Watching Countdown on MSNBC tonight - sorry ;-) I like Keith Olberbmann.

Kind of in between segments and kind of rushed he reported a second carrier was entering the Persian Gulf ( confirmed here: http://www.startribune.com/nation/18386159.html ).

He also mentioned that Malicki is supposed to "confront" Iran re: escalated support of "insurgents" in Iraq (no reference for that).

He also reported that The State Department was drafting a "back off or else" message to Iran - again no confirming reference.

Earlier we had this about Pentagon planning for Iran: http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/20080425_pentagon_eyeing_mil...

It's probably nothing to worry about...


...hmmmm...perhaps the Weekly Petroleum report won't be so good tomorrow and they are making preparations???

Really though...with the shutdown of the Forties in Scotland...will gasoline imports be down tomorrow or will that not show up this week?

Interesting that Yakout Mansour has a queue of 40,242 MW of interconnect requests for renewable energy projects, and he is complaining about finding 1000 MW for for Southern California this summer. http://www.assembly.ca.gov/acs/committee/c25/hearings/1_CEC_Session%201_...

I kind of suspect he is not counting Macy's, Safeway and Walmart in those requests since they don't plan on generating more than they use. Perhaps he is missing something in his dire predictions.


Shame on OilDrum for using "Palestine Media Watch" as a news source. That is peak naivete. This is another case of the Palestinians' manufacturing a crisis to demonize Israel. Here's what's really happening with respect to the fuel situation in Gaza.


Ah yes, the unbiased Jerusalem Post.

Long time readers of the Drum Beat will recall that Leanan's choices are not governed by what The Oil Drum necessarily ascribes to. She has included CERA's fantasy press releases, for example, and multiple articles purporting to "debunk" peak oil (as two other random examples).

Drum Beats are a summary of potentially interesting articles for discussion by the community here. Argue (civilly) with the content of the linked article and not the fact that it was linked here and we'll all be better for it.

Dumb as We Wanna Be

Tom Friedman (NY Times) is back from sabbatical
and taking a home runner slugger's swing at the
McCain Pain o' Pump Holiday Plan here.

This [McCain's plan] is not an energy policy. This is money laundering: we borrow money from China and ship it to Saudi Arabia and take a little cut for ourselves as it goes through our gas tanks. What a way to build our country.

It's about time someone had the audacity to kick bullshit with their bare feet.

You've scored a field goal Tom Tom. Good job!

As the polar ice melts, we'll witness the gradual emergence of a brand new world, unlocking what just a few years ago would have been unimaginable economic opportunities, as the long-closed Arctic waterways open up to rising volumes of commercial shipping and naval traffic, and as the thinning (and later disappearing) ice makes it more cost effective, and technologically viable, to explore the region's undersea natural resource potential, and to fully develop those new discoveries.

We have no idea what that "brand new world" will be. When the continental climate over frozen ice will be replaced by maritime climate over open waters, everything will change: winds, precipitation, salinity, ocean currents, everything. The simultaneous thawing of permafrost in the tundra will release methane, 20 times more powerful a green house gas than CO2.

The black carbon coming from increased shipping around Greenland is the death sentence for the ice sheet sitting there. And what will be the natural resources on the Arctic's sea floor? More fossil fuels, which nature geo-sequestered away for us in millions of years, and which we burn now in a short time. We are going straight back to Jurrasic park.

Crude - the incredible journey of oil