DrumBeat: May 8, 2008

Gas jumps nearly 3 cents to record; oil crosses $124

NEW YORK - Gasoline and crude oil jumped to new records Thursday, with gas rising 3 cents to an average national price of nearly $3.65 a gallon and oil crossing $124 a barrel for the first time.

At the pump, the average price of a gallon of regular gas nationwide rose 2.7 cents to a record $3.645, according to a survey of stations by AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. Diesel prices also rose, adding 0.9 cent to match a record national average of $4.251 a gallon.

...Meanwhile, light, sweet crude for June delivery rose 16 cents to reach a settlement record of $123.69 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange Thursday after spending much of the day in negative territory. But in after-market electronic trading, prices rose to a new trading record of $124.49; volume was quite low, making it easy for oil to keep pushing higher.

Trouble in the pipeline

Over the past seven years, according to Citibank, Russia accounted for 80% of the growth in oil production outside the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. The increase in its output in the early part of the decade matched the growth in demand from China and India almost barrel for barrel. Yet in April, production fell for the fourth month in a row. It is now over 2% below the peak of 9.9m barrels a day (b/d) reached in October last year. Before that, the growth in Russia's output had been slowing steadily, suggesting that the drop is not a blip. Leonid Fedun, a vice-president of Lukoil, a local oil firm, says Russia's production will never top 10m b/d. The discovery that Russia can no longer be relied upon to cater to the world's ever-increasing appetite for oil is naturally helping to propel prices to record levels.

Cane surpasses power dams in Brazil energy complex

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Sugar cane and cane-based ethanol became a more important energy source than hydroelectric power plants in Brazil's overall energy complex last year, topped only by petroleum and oil products.

The government's EPE energy planning agency said on Thursday sugar cane had a 16 percent share in the country's so-called energy matrix -- a combination of all sources of energy including fuels and electricity -- while power dams were left behind with a 14.7 percent share.

Oil and derivatives had a 36.7 percent weighting, dropping from 37.8 percent in 2006.

Truckers slow it down to save on diesel

WASHINGTON - Struggling with record diesel prices, the trucking industry's main trade group on Thursday introduced a plan to reduce fuel consumption and emissions over the next decade mainly by having its members slow down.

The American Trucking Associations, whose members include FedEx Corp., UPS Inc. and Con-way Inc., says adherence to a handful of new proposals will reduce fuel consumption by 86 billion gallons and carbon dioxide emissions — the main culprit of climate change — by 900 million tons for all vehicles over the next 10 years.

War On Stuff

“Every time you go to a store and you buy something new, that sends a message back to the manufacturer to make a new one,” Alderman said. Reusing means new versions don’t have to be made, and the reason to avoid just making new stuff is mainly because of the energy involved, Alderman said. Issues relating to energy use right now are global warming and military conflict, aside from cost, he said.

Confronting the inevitable: Population reduction, voluntary and otherwise

Editor's note: One can run into a good report on a critical subject, only to find the author has a deficit of understanding on peak oil, for example. Or one may encounter the delusion that population growth is a problem basically in "Third World" countries. Not with this new essay for Culture Change. Professor Ken Smail has put together the best argument for facing depopulation.

Its full title was Acknowledging and Confronting the Inevitable: A Significant Shrinkage in Global Human Numbers, and Other Inconvenient Truths. Some readers may find Ken's timing-scenario for depopulation optimistic -- picturing it further off into the future than the 21st century -- but he acknowledges its possibly being played out earlier due to today's "toxic brew" of crises.

OPEC sees no oil shortage, would pump more if needed

Adbullah al-Badri also said in a statement that the 13-member Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries holds more than 3 million barrels per day of spare production capacity for use if needed.

"There is clearly no shortage of oil in the market," the statement quoted him as saying.

Democrats: Close speculation loophole

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Democratic Senators are working to combat rising oil and fuel prices by attacking what many Americans see as the heart of the problem: speculative trading.

Many politicians and energy industry analysts blame oil speculators for cashing in on the fuel cost crisis and, in the process, boosting the price of oil. Hedge funds, trusts, and independent investors have also poured funds into crude oil as a hedge against the weakened dollar.

Why $120 oil is good

Speculators are often blamed for artificially inflating crude prices, but some experts say high prices are needed to cut demand and develop new resources.

Mexico warns of energy crisis without overhaul

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's will suffer a severe energy crisis before 2018 unless the oil sector is overhauled, Mexican Energy Minister Georgina Kessel warned on Thursday.

Toyota's so-called tumble

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- Flag-waving American loyalists were heartened to see the announcement that Toyota's January-to-March profit sank 28%. It provided evidence that even mighty Toyota can't escape the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse - the deadly combination of high fuel prices, surging raw material costs, the global credit crunch and a strong yen.

...But what came after that should have drained the smiles from their faces faster than a run-in with Tony Soprano. Toyota made a forecast for the next 12 months that is just as grim as its results over the last three. Toyota sees hard times. And if Toyota - the industry's biggest, strongest player - catches a cold, most of the rest will likely develop pneumonia.

Energy, Oil Service Cos May Need to Combine - Technip CEO

During a panel at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, Pilenko floated the idea of international oil companies acquiring service firms as a way to manage a growing labor shortage facing the entire energy industry.

Arizona's solar aspirations in peril

The state aims to tap its 325 sunny days a year, but loss of an energy tax credit threatens its big plans.

Junkie Nation

Just imagine for a minute that you wake up one morning to learn that someone has stolen the arm off of the Statue of Liberty. And with it, her torch. No more will she “lift my lamp beside the golden door.” Instead, her great lamp is already shredded; it’s on a slow boat to China as we speak.

To be followed, soon after, by the Verrazano Bridge.

Farfetched? Maybe today. Maybe not tomorrow.

...In a startling way, the price of scrap metal has risen so high that people are selling everything they can get their hands on. Suddenly, that old washer and dryer in the side yard, the ones with the vines growing through them, are valuable. So are those old tire rims.

Urban Farmers’ Crops Go From Vacant Lot to Market

For years, New Yorkers have grown basil, tomatoes and greens in window boxes, backyard plots and community gardens. But more and more New Yorkers like the Wilkses are raising fruits and vegetables, and not just to feed their families but to sell to people on their block.

This urban agriculture movement has grown even more vigorously elsewhere. Hundreds of farmers are at work in Detroit, Milwaukee, Oakland and other areas that, like East New York, have low-income residents, high rates of obesity and diabetes, limited sources of fresh produce and available, undeveloped land.

John Michael Greer: Preparing for which future?

If the end of the industrial age turns out to be a longer and more complex process than fast-crash advocates suggest, in fact, isolated rural areas may not be the best places to start small farms at all. Truck gardens and organic food production on the outskirts of small and mid-sized cities will be much better positioned to thrive in a world where markets still exist but transport costs are a major limiting factor. In some areas this is already happening; the explosive growth of farmers markets, community-supported agriculture schemes, and direct sales of local produce to local restaurants have put down the foundations on which local and regional food production networks could easily grow. Fostering the emergence of such networks could contribute much to the future. So could the evolution of many other economic specialties that are irrelevant in the context of a fast crash, but not in the more complex terrain I suspect the future holds for us.

High oil prices seen spurring alternative fuel shift

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Record U.S. crude oil futures near $124 a barrel have reached a "break point" that will spur a shift away from an oil-centric transportation sector toward alternatives, energy analyst Daniel Yergin said on Wednesday.

Yergin, chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, told Reuters that U.S. crude oil prices -- which hit a record $123.93 a barrel on Wednesday -- will hasten the adoption of cellulosic biofuels made from switchgrass and woodchips, as well as battery-powered cars and fuels derived from coal.

Indonesia Vows to Work with Private Cos to Restore Oil Glory

Vowing to reverse Indonesia's gradual decline as an oil exporter, Indonesian petroleum officials Wednesday promised to work with private oil giants to encourage new investment in East Asia's lone member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

David Strahan: Greenland oil estimates over-reported

The original USGS estimate was part of worldwide oil assessment that has now been widely discredited as wildly overoptimistic. In a further study published in 2005, the USGS was forced to acknowledge that while the original assessment implied worldwide oil discovery of 22 billion barrels per year until 2025, in reality the industry has been finding only 9 billion annually – 60% less than forecast. If this underperformance continues, the USGS global estimate for future oil discovery is 500 billion barrels too high.

Nigeria Oil Advisor Confirms Exxon Production Has Resumed

A senior Nigerian petroleum official Wednesday confirmed that Exxon Mobil Corp. lifted its force majeure on its energy operations and said he expects Nigerian output to reach 2.2 million barrels a day in the next week or two.

"They're back to work and producing," Emmanuel Egbogah, Special Advisor to the President on petroleum, told reporters on the sidelines of the Offshore Technology Conference.

India: Coal shortage to fuel power crisis

NEW DELHI: Even as countrywide demand for electricity rises with the temperature, generation units across the country are finding it tough to cope with the situation owing to shortage of coal as state-owned monopoly Coal India Ltd has lowered its supply projection from 305 million tonnes to 292.15 million tonnes for 2008-09.

India: Oil Crisis No. 4

Yet, the consumer feels none of the pressure from this extraordinary situation — and will probably stay insulated because the government is already battling inflation in a pre-election year and is in no mood to take anything resembling a harsh measure. The result is that there are no price signals being conveyed that will squeeze consumption on the margin, or facilitate the search for alternatives.

Fuel prices: worse to come

Mr. Lovel said: “The daunting thing about the recent price rise is that there was no shortage of oil, no sudden embargo, no exporter turning off its spigot. Some attacks on pipelines in Nigeria was all it took. We are in a period of world uncertainty but as an industry we must survive. If the transport operators are not receiving a fuel levy from their customers then they are in trouble. Every company should have a fuel levy in place. The fuel levy is negotiated with customers, and there are also specific levies for sub-contractors.”

A City Committed to Recycling Is Ready for More

SAN FRANCISCO — Mayor Gavin Newsom is competitive about many things, garbage included. When the city found out a few weeks ago that it was keeping 70 percent of its disposable waste out of local landfills, he embraced the statistic the way other mayors embrace winning sports teams, improved test scores or declining crime rates.

But the city wants more.

DoE announces carbon-storage funding

WASHINGTON (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Energy announced $126.6 million in carbon-capture funding.

The money will go to the West Coast Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership and the Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership adding two more projects to the existing four funded by the department.

U.S. Military Measures Climate Change: Intelligence Establishment Calling It a Major Security Problem

Its panel of contributors, including a former CIA director, found that, “left unaddressed, climate change may come to represent as great or a greater foreign policy and national security problem” than the war on terror, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, energy security, and current economic instability. The catalog of security implications cited by The Age of Consequences and other recent studies is too long to recite, but chief concerns include massive population migrations and resulting political destabilization, permanent loss of arable land, and multiple, concurrent wars over resources, particularly water.

Heavy crude can't keep up

As medium sweet crude oil blends have strengthened in recent months, medium and heavier sour blends have fallen behind. In particular, Middle East heavy crudes have been unable to keep up with the growing appetite for low sulphur middle distillate products, with differentials between Saudi Super Light and Saudi Heavy crude blends widening to record levels. In the Americas, the situation is no different. Despite the large production declines at Cantarell, Mexican Maya is trading at a record discount to Olmeca.

The Philippines: Control over oil firms urged to curb fare hikes - lawmakers

MANILA, Philippines -- Lawmakers called on the need for government to exercise control over oil companies to curb the unabated oil price hikes.

Rising fuel prices will hurt

The West Australian Transport Forum says the rising cost of oil could spark a crisis in the state's transport industry.

Goldman Sachs Says Bless The Energy Speculators

Energy speculators are getting a bum rap. Instead of condemning them, they ought to be blessed, as impartial messengers of a greener future.

Pennsylvania: Conservation or 'total meltdown'

Gov. Ed Rendell came to Bucks County Wednesday to call for nearly $1 billion in clean energy grants and conservation programs and he warned the state was on the “brink of disaster” from utility bills that could soon skyrocket.

Halt Strategic Petroleum Reserve Purchases

Energy experts and the DOE say that temporarily suspending the fill of the SPR would lower both oil and gas prices immediately. Even President Bush has suspended SPR purchases in order to lower fuel prices. In April 2006, President Bush said, "I've directed the Department of Energy to defer filling the reserve this summer. Our strategic reserve is sufficiently large enough to guard against any major supply disruption over the next few months. So by deferring deposits until the fall, we'll leave a little more oil on the market. Every little bit helps."

Gas customers feeling the pressure

Northern Indiana Public Service Company customers will continue to feel the pressure of rising prices with an announcement this month of yet another increase in the cost of natural gas.

The month of May makes four times in a row NIPSCO has called for an increase and it's the eighth month in the past year to see costs for natural gas go up.

The 18-Cent Solution

Economists might overstate the rigidity of supply — it’s possible that eliminating the tax could spur producers to find a way to squeeze out a little more gas — but they’re probably right that the Clinton-McCain proposal will not shrink the price at the pump. Nevertheless, I think it’s an idea worth supporting. In fact, I’ve got two arguments in favor of it, though I doubt that either candidate will want to repeat them in public.

China Sinopec's new plant to receive 1st Saudi oil

BEIJING (Reuters) - Sinopec Group's new 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) refinery in eastern China will receive its first cargo of Saudi crude in mid-May as it prepares to come fully onstream by the end of the month, sources said on Thursday. The 2 million barrels of Arab Medium and Arab Heavy crude will be the second imported cargo by the refinery in the port city of Qingdao, following a first cargo of Congolese crude that arrived in March, the sources said.

Fight Over Pipeline

Wednesday night dozens of concerned residents in East El Paso County packed the Lower Valley Water District offices regarding a pipeline project that would literally go through their backyards.

The project is being proposed by PEMEX, the world's fifth largest oil company, which is based out of Mexico. The pipeline would be 28 miles long and run from the Longhorn petroleum storage tanks, located close to the intersection of Montana and Zaragosa Road, all the way to Mexico. PEMEX Says it will be safe and benefit the community by taking oil trucks off the roads.

Malaysia: Govt To Announce Measures To Counter High Cost Of Building Materials

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) -- The government will be announcing several measures to counter the current high cost of building materials, a move that is likely to gradually allow market forces to dictate prices of steel bars and billets.

Thailand says Malaysia to buy emergency rice supplies

BANGKOK (Thomson Financial) - Thailand said on Thursday it would provide 500,000 tonnes of rice to Malaysia in an emergency purchase as the latter's national stockpile would last only 15 days.

Cyclone damaged Myanmar "rice bowl"

The cyclone struck just as the region's paddy farmers were harvesting the dry-season crop, which accounts for a fourth of the country's annual production.

The tidal surge sent seawater as far as 35 miles inland, satellite photos show, depositing salt that could make paddy land infertile.

Sean Turnell, an expert on Myanmar at Australia's Macquarie University and editor of Burma Economic Watch, said the region's long-neglected, colonial-era irrigation systems probably took a heavy blow as well.

YEMEN: Changing weather patterns pose challenges for agriculture

DUBAI (IRIN) - Yemen's agricultural sector faces challenges as a result of changes in rainfall patterns and an extended low temperature season in recent years, experts say.

"Normally, the rains start in March, which was not the case this year or in the past few years. The rainy season has not started [and this] will affect agriculture dramatically," Anwar Abdulaziz, head of the Climate Change Unit at the General Authority of Environment Preservation, told IRIN.

A crunch hits lunch

Anne Arundel County students who eat breakfast at school may soon have to do without whole-grain cinnamon rolls. In Carroll County, school cafeterias are stretching their vegetable supply by making more soups. And in Montgomery County schools, tomatoes are being replaced in lunch salads by less-pricey carrots.

The global food shortage and the resulting spike in the cost of milk, grains and fresh fruits and vegetables are squeezing school lunchroom budgets in Maryland and across the nation.

No Headwinds for Coal ... at All

Outside of a straight ban on huge swaths of existing mining, there is nothing ready to stop this train.

Apocalypse? Now?

Peak oil’s appeal, like a lot of apocalyptic fantasies, is that its pain and punishment will supposedly strike the wicked, not the true believer. Living in a loft, shopping at the Farmer’s Market, and boring everyone to death with long-winded stories about how little we drive, it’s not our problem if some schmuck out in Farragut has to shell out over a hundred bucks just to fill up his Hummer. That suburbia’s death spiral would probably drag the entire economy, the nation, and perhaps even the world down with it, we try not to think about that.

Transit systems travel 'green' track

NEW YORK — This year, the surging current of the East River will help provide power to a nearby subway station. The lights that lace the ornate interior of Manhattan's Grand Central Station have largely been replaced by bulbs that burn brightly but save energy. There are plans to make the rooftop of a Queens bus depot bloom like a garden.

"Carbon footprint" has become part of the national lexicon, and mass transit systems throughout the country are taking steps to ease their impact on the environment even as they strive to provide more service to a growing number of riders.

Oil Giants to Settle Water Suit

Some of the nation’s largest oil companies have agreed to pay about $423 million in cash to settle a lawsuit brought by more than a hundred public water providers, claiming water contamination from a popular gasoline additive.

Peak Exports and Our Economic Future

After New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's fall from grace in a drama worthy of Euripides, the highly popular Oil Drum website ran an article about his successor entitled: "David Paterson: First Openly Peak Oil Aware Governor." The article highlighted the fact that political leaders are generally oblivious to the very serious problems facing our future supply of oil.

"Peak oil" is the point at which global oil production reaches its high point, after which it irreversibly declines. Peak oil is not just a theory: major oil-producing regions have already reached their peak and are in terminal decline, such as the U.S. itself, the North Sea region, Mexico, Venezuela and many others. Russia's energy minister recently announced that its oil production was now past its peak. Russia is the second largest oil producer in the world, after Saudi Arabia.

Many governments, businesses and individuals are now taking this issue seriously, but still not moving quickly enough.

Low-carb cars

Rising oil prices and greenhouse gas emissions are pushing us to look at our motor vehicle use - but what are the alternatives and will they work in Australia?

Innovation the key to making Melbourne liveable

CURRENT ways of delivering urban water and energy systems, waste management, transport, planning and governance are neither appropriate nor sufficiently resilient in the face of 21st century challenges. This resource-constrained, carbon-constrained world is beset by development pressures, including record levels of immigration to cities such as Melbourne.

Twenty-first century cities need innovative technologies, products, designs and processes that can be updated and replaced when existing ones show signs of failure, as is now the case with much of our urban infrastructure.

Australia: Now we’re all goin’ to gas!

The fact that the production chain requires large capital investments, and that our governments don't have any money - as they keep telling us, notwithstanding recurrent budget surpluses - means that commercial arrangements in the sector typically involve significant private investment in exploration and infrastructure. This is in exchange for advantageous pricing approvals, with substantial returns on investment built in, and profits hidden by confidential long term contracts for gas supply and transport both in Australian and overseas.

"Investors" like confidentiality and don't like regulation unless it provides them with security or certainty: governments like and need money, and so they accommodate the investors.

Climate change in Nova Scotia to bring agricultural challenges

As oil supplies decrease, population pressures increase and the climate changes, people on a global basis are suffering from food shortages and rising food costs. The presentations focused on what people can do to prepare for the future and help avoid a crisis.

Seeing Inflation Only in the Prices That Go Up

Price increases are simply more noticeable — more salient, as psychologists would say — than price decreases. Part of this comes from the notion of loss aversion: human beings dislike a loss more than they like a gain of equivalent size. If you have to sell your house for less than you bought it for, you’re really unhappy. You hate that ground chuck now costs $2.83 a pound, but you didn’t notice that oranges are 31 percent cheaper than they were a year ago.

There is also something particular to inflation that aggravates loss aversion. Price increases are obvious. But price declines are often hidden. The cost of an item stays about the same for years, while everything else gets more expensive and nominal incomes rise.

Aging systems releasing sewage into rivers, streams

America's sewers are showing their age.

Deteriorating pipes, overwhelmed by volumes of water they were never designed to carry, release billions of gallons of raw sewage into rivers and streams each year. The spills make people sick, threaten local drinking water and kill aquatic animals and plants.

Gas prices have some thinking they can drive 55

Recent surveys show that many drivers have changed their habits to cut fuel costs, but the changes tend to be ones that bring immediate gratification — such as using the Internet to find stations with the lowest prices and putting less gas in the tank instead of filling up, said Larry Compeau, executive officer of the Society for Consumer Psychology and an associate marketing professor at Clarkson University.

"If you buy a more fuel-efficient car or find cheaper gasoline, those things are right in front of you," Compeau said. "Whether you do 65 or 55 is much more nebulous. There's no way for you to immediately see the impact."

Hedging Against $200 Oil

For the financial whizzes of Southwest Airlines, it just gets more expensive to buy protection as oil prices keep climbing.

US Senate Democrats unveil new energy tax plan

The Consumer-First Energy Act -- assembled by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other key Democrats -- would tax big energy companies, halt filling the emergency U.S. oil stockpile, and seek to put checks on oil market speculation.

The Democrats' energy bill seeks to lay the blame for record-high gasoline prices over $3.60 a gallon on the Bush administration, big oil companies like Exxon and the OPEC oil cartel.

This won't make you happy: Gas is still too cheap

It is cathartic to blame Exxon or environmentalists or taxes.

But the real problem is we burn 25 percent of the world's oil while we have only 2 percent of the world's proven oil reserves. So we import 66 percent of our oil. We can drill Alaska until it looks like Swiss cheese, but it won't change that reality to any significant degree.

As Baghdad grapples with Sadr City, Iraqi Kurdistan busily builds 'Dream City'

The Kurdistan Regional Government is briskly pursuing oil and gas contracts and economic development, a drive that is chafing Iraq's central government in Baghdad.

Clinton's Best Oil Idea: Get Tough on OPEC

While the Supreme Court has ruled that current price-fixing laws do not apply to foreign governments, there is nothing preventing Congress from changing the law -- or, as Hillary and others have suggested, challenging the legality of price fixing at the World Trade Organization. Short of that, the United States could deny visas to top officials from OPEC governments, prohibit U.S. oil and drilling companies from doing business with known price fixers, and make it more difficult for the sovereign wealth funds of price-fixing countries to make direct investments in the United States.

Guns for Oil

Speaking of energy, we can't help but give more attention to a recent press release from some of the Senate's leading liberals. Charles Schumer, Byron Dorgan, Bernie Sanders, Bob Casey and Mary Landrieu are demanding that President Bush tell OPEC nations to increase their oil supplies or risk losing arms deals with the United States. The Senators say U.S. consumers need the price relief that only increased oil production can bring.

Yes, that Senator Schumer and that Senator Dorgan, both of whom voted against increasing U.S. oil production because they couldn't abide drilling across 1% of Alaska's wilderness. Yes, that Senator Casey, who has called for mandatory reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide. At least Senator Landrieu of Louisiana has fought to allow more offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Should Russia raise domestic gas prices?

The European Union, which thinks that its member states act as donors for Russian consumers, has long demanded that gas prices in Russia be raised to European standards. Russian gas monopoly Gazprom would also benefit from the increase, because it sells more than half of its output on the domestic market - currently at dumping prices.

However, domestic gas prices are lower than export prices in the majority of gas-producing countries.

Philippines pressures Manila Electric to lower rates

MANILA: A struggle for control has broken out at the largest power utility in the Philippines after the government put pressure on it to cut rates, and analysts say the dispute could affect privatization of the power sector.

Shell Oil president wants more access to energy resources

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (AP) -- The United States' reliance on foreign oil is increasing because of limits on where companies can search for resources, the president of Shell Oil Co. says.

"The U.S. prohibits access to its own natural resources," John Hofmeister said. "We need more oil and gas, whether it's onshore Alaska, or offshore Alaska."

Putin Vows Tax Cuts As Russia's New PM

Vladimir Putin has vowed to curb Russia's growing inflation and cut oil industry taxes as he became the country's new prime minister.

Spanish gas use seen rising 10.1% in 2008

MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish gas consumption could rise 10.1 percent this year to meet increasing demand from electricity generators to offset the impact of a drought and variations in wind power, distributor Enagas said on Thursday.

Barrelling ahead

Record oil prices are creating a $1-trillion (U.S.) gusher of revenues into the treasuries of OPEC, and the wealthy Arab states of the Persian Gulf region are using their petro-profits to transform their economies into global powerhouses.

With food costs rising, ethanol benefits now questioned

In a dramatic reversal, ethanol has shifted from being an object of widespread, bipartisan praise to one of derision, even among some of its past supporters.

The Biofuels Backlash

St. Jude is the patron saint of lost causes, and for 30 years we invoked his name as we opposed ethanol subsidies. So imagine our great, pleasant surprise to see that the world is suddenly awakening to the folly of subsidized biofuels.

UK: The average family throws out £610 of perfectly good food every year

WRAP said huge amounts of energy are wasted in producing and transporting food that is never eaten.

Most of the dumped food reaches sites where it emits the greenhouse-gas methane.

"The carbon impact of food waste is enormous," WRAP said. "Tackling it would provide a carbon benefit equivalent to taking one in five cars off UK roads."

Cleaner air to worsen droughts in Amazon: study

PARIS (AFP) - Curbing a notorious form of industrial pollution may ironically harm Amazonia, one of the world's natural treasures and a key buffer against global warming, a study released Wednesday has found.

Its authors see a strong link between a decrease in sulphur dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants and a rise in sea temperature in the northern Atlantic that was blamed for wreaking a devastating drought in western Amazonia in 2005.

CNN: Discussion on $200 Oil
There is a discussion going on at a blog run by CNN regarding Goldman Sachs forecast of $200 oil:

This is a great chance to present the case for Peak oil, including the likely geometric progression of prices and the reasons that the shortages are fundamental, not due to temporary factors.

I am hoping that one of the members here who has detailed expertise can post a comment on this blog.

I thought it important to strike whilst the iron was hot, and so posted to the blog, even though I would have preferred that those better qualified had got in - I hope I have presented the case with reasonable competence!
Here is what I said:

This rise is not due primarily to speculation or political factors or even drilling restrictions, but new fields are getting more and more difficult to find, are smaller and cost more to develop.

The statements of massive reserves that can be produced in most oil producing countries is nonsense - the state run bodies in places like Saudi Arabia had every incentive to overstate reserves, as quotas were based on them.
Although they have pumped billions of barrels, remaining reserves remain exactly the same as they were according to their (unaudited) figures!
What a coincidence!
Give or take, production is about as high as it will get:
Demand is going up all the time, with major new consumers like China and India wanting ever more oil.
Demand always balances supply.
Result? Ever rising prices.
When supply is static, the only way to balance things out is by demand destruction.
The poorest people in the world have already been forced out.
Driving out the next tier up will be tougher - it is people like those in America who need to drive a long way to work, and are relatively poorer than some others.
But supply and demand will balance, so if $200/barrel oil does not do it, then it will go to $400/barrel:

It gets worse, as in fact as in the North sea or Mexico when supplies have peaked, they drop rapidly - Russia is on the verge of this, as they have recently half-admitted.
Oil exporters also tend to keep it cheap in their own land, leading to rocketing demand - Saudi Arabian demand is going through the roof.

So if $800/barrel oil is what it takes to knock out the next level of demand, that is what will happen, to put the middle classes on the bus.

Here is what I posted:


I’ve been researching energy since 2004 when it seemed to me that fuel prices were becoming oddly volatile.

What I have discovered since then has been quite shocking and really changed my perspective. We truely live in a finite world.

I beg everyone who is reading this to do the research yourself. Take a saturday afternoon, read SAICs Hirsch report, read IEAs energy forecast from last year, read what the US GAO has to say about the peaking of world oil.

All the information is out there but you are going to have to go get it yourself.

It takes a good amount of courage to read some of the projections as most of them are not so rosy; so be courageous but please don’t forgo checking the facts for yourself.

If you are fairly technical, start spending some time at http://www.theoildrum.com. There is alot of good information there.

Both your replies don't show. At least not now

'Awaiting moderation'

I posted this: "Oil is a finite resource. Despite large reserves, more important is how fast you can get it pumped out of the ground. Presently we burn 1000 barrels, or 159,000 liters. Per second, that is. Totalling approximately 85 million barrels of oil each day, or 30 billion barrels of oil a year. People should see the recent Brasilian find of possibly 33 billion barrels in this perspective.

Sometime, something, somewhere has got to give. That thing is called Peak Oil. This occured in the US around 1970. Worldwide Peak Oil is probably around now."

I wonder how long w'll be waiting for moderation. The more of us posting there, the harder pressed they will be to post these. I can already smell the panic on their end ;-)

They say they may not post all comments.
Part of the reason I posted was that I saw the guy on the TV, and he said that he personally would try to read all comments.
He is solid that oil is likely to hit $200, but I am not sure that he is peak aware, so thought it worthwhile to try to communicate.
You point of flow rate you make is the other one I was desperate to squeeze in, but if the post is too ling they won't read it, so i left it out - great that you have covered it.
Hopefully West Texas and others will chime in - I referenced him - hope he doesn't mind

Visible now.

Your right about the poor having been knocked out first. If you remember, price of gasoline at the pumps dropped for a short period of time about a year, year and a half ago due increased supply caused by the demand destruction of those countries. And yes, the next tier will be the tier not able to pay the higher prices. Maybe that's the US - who knows? But yes there is some price point for each economic tier that causes demand destruction, and what that price will be for each tier is yet to be determined.

I think what we saw first was demand destruction of the poorest countries, and secondly huge increases in food prices worldwide. The 3rd effect of higher fuel prices is yet to be determined. Either it will be more demand destruction at a higher tier or possibly mass famine in Africa and other 3rd world countries when the price of food goes too high.

In any case we are in the beginning stages of Kunstler's Long Emergency. Stock up on canned food and save your fruit and vegetable seeds for the day you start your own personal food garden. Speaking of which our local Walmart is selling its cheapest food at an alarming rate. Our last visit was an eye opener as most of the food shelves were empty. If nothing else it shows people are getting more desperate to put food on the table. Must be hard with a big family.

Here's what I posted:

Oil production has been essentially flat since 2005, and that has resulted in the price of oil doubling in the last year. Since we are at or near the ultimate peak of world oil production, the amount available will soon begin an irreversible decline. When it does, the price spike will make the current rate of increase look quite mild. These are the good old days.

Mark Folsom

Here's what I submitted to the blog:

"The rate of oil production, approximately 85 million barrels a day (bbl/d) in total liquids and 74 million bbl/d in crude and condensate, has remained approximately flat since about 2005. Increasing oil demand globally, perhaps largely driven by the rapid growth of the economies of China and India in a world with already extant oil-intensive economies such as exist in North America and Europe (for example), has put intense pressure on an apparently limited supply of crude. Prices have risen dramatically. Indeed, price per barrel now appears to be doubling every 12-18 months.

"Given the reality that new discoveries are trailing production by at least three barrels per every one produced, and the advanced 'age' of many producing oil fields, especially the major finds such as Ghawar in Saudi Arabia, world oil production is likely to begin to decline. Exports from oil-producing countries will probably decline even faster than actual production decline, as internal oil consumption increases due to the expenditure of all the wealth obtained by the exporting country in a market of high oil prices. As a result, oil prices are set to climb even faster in the future. Imagine a world where oil prices double perhaps every 3 to 6 months.

"Among a huge list of geopolitical implications that could be (and are being) triggered by a rapid escalation in oil prices, one thing seems clear: Such a fast climb in the price of oil, the lifeblood of the world's economies, probably will result in the end of mass consumerism, and all the cold, hard realities that go along with such a dramatic economic rearrangement."



Here's a sample of a comment:

Justus Kilian
During the last month cnn reported on two australians that developed a generator the doesn’t use any fuel. Why are we not hearing more about that? Because the global elite needs the $200 a barrel oil scam to destroy the middel class, so that its easier to promote global government as our “saviour”.

Probably the Lutec1000, now has a different name... Lutec Electricity Amplifier.




Who are these two Australians? Journalists rarely interview anonymous people. Link to the CNN article or story? If this discovery or invention was so good, why has it not been published to a peer reviewed journal or submitted for independant testing by qualified, reputable scientists? Conspiracy theories are very popular but don't stack up to even rudimentary inspection. It's extraordinarily difficult to keep secrets on the Internet. Why don't these two talented inventors publish their discovery on the Internet for others to use?

With all the above-listed stories revealing second thoughts about ethanol I am reminded of my grandfather's saying, "The problem with incompetence is that it tends to look an awful lot like crookery."

It's noteworthy how, despite all of the mandates and subsidies, this bad idea just won't fly.

Daniel Gross, one of the better writes at Slate, has a short article on the state of the business today:

Corn Dogs
Fuel prices are at record highs, so why are ethanol producers struggling?



"The problem with incompetence is that it tends to look an awful lot like crookery."

And when it comes to politics, it is often hard to tell -- although quite often you get both in one package.

Looking at the Oil megaprojects the paucity of supply auditions past 2012 is indeed distressing. But how far in advance of implementation are these projects generally announced? How much "possibility" is there in past reserves additions?

Also, Leanan mentioned (over at peakoil.com) a recent Drumbeat posting regarding a study conducted of projects over the past 10-15 years that found that a trend was developing of new builds coming on line late/over budget/peaking more quickly with less recovery, and so forth. Anyone have a link - to the thread if nothing else? Did some hunting around like a good TODer but no success.

How much "possibility" is there in past reserves additions?

The past reserves are above the 'new additions' in the well, so probably we will have to wait for it to be produced - it probably won't be produced soon and it will be the last to be produced - so, typically it will be at a lower flow rate than now, not the higher flow rate we require to postpone the peak.

"Oil reserve estimates were useful in the era before 'Peak Oil.' But in the aftermath of the mighty Peak (as, for example, in the present 'T1'
period), they tend to become stale and rather useless, as field-by-field analysis and prediction takes over (e.g., Ghawar, Cantarell).

"So it will not be long now before we will have to say goodbye to all these mesmerizing oil reserve figures and dump the whole reserves file into the all-encompassing 'dustbin of history.'"

In another recent statement, Dr Bakhtiari has said this:

"The decline of global oil production seems now irreversible. It is bound to occur over a number of transitions, the first of which I have called T1, which has just begun in 2006. T1 has a very benign gradient of decline, and it will take months before one notices it at all. But T2 will be far steeper...My World Oil Production Capacity model has predicted that over the next 14 years, present global production of 81 million barrels per day will decrease by roughly 32%, down to around 55 million barrels per day by the year 2020."


Just watch the Armageddon #, sometimes in orange, in the top left corner of CNBC.

$123.60 now.

"I'm not sure that invading Myanmar would be a very sensible option at this particular moment," said John Holmes, the U.N.'s chief emergency coordinator. "I'm not sure it would be helpful to the people we're actually trying to help." Myanmar is also known as Burma.

My World Oil Production Capacity model has predicted that over the next 14 years, present global production of 81 million barrels per day will decrease by roughly 32%, down to around 55 million barrels per day by the year 2020."

That's probably as good a call as any. Add to that WT's ELM, and it confirms my assumption that ordinary US people like myself will not have ANY motor fuel (at least any we can afford) available to us by 2020. I'm planning accordingly.

I hasten to add that it's exponential, what you guyz are refering to. I agree with you. We are now dealing with orders of magnitude that haven't been experienced b4, by mere mortals. My take on WT's ELM is that linearity goes out the window with the baby and the bath water. Thing is, after I duck and roll and get back up and wipe myself off, I'm gonna go for the f*cker with his hand on the trigger, and I WILL GET MY POUND OF FLESH.

So we don't know from which direction the sh*t is hitting the fan from. I don't know if there are comperable examples we can learn from in history, and that's what scares me. History repeating itself and all that, but we don't have anything in history that comes close to what we're walking up to now. My G*d, we're F*CKED. (scuse me, my kidz are f*cked).


PS...and I am an OPTIMIST, and really, we got to this point without motoroil, we'll just go back to the way things were before industrialisation and mass-marketed-oil. I'm a big fan of JHK, and I don't like where his train of thought is leading, but gol dang, learn how to use a shovel and wheelbarrow, live to bitch another day!!!

So.. did you 'Galileo' your CRT yet? Maybe it would look artsy and profound if you dropped it simultaneous with maybe a copy of the latest CERA report or something.


But how far in advance of implementation are these projects generally announced?

Several "streetcar" conversations with Shell engineers (One Shell Square was built between the streetcar tracks) indicate a minimum of 7 years for a major project.


As the projects get more difficult (deeper offshore, hostile arctic environments, heavier oil) we can expect that those planning horizons would only stretch further outward.


I'd appreciate you looking at Toledo, OH so far as rail feasability goes. I just think we have the logistics in place, rusty as they are. I don't mean to come off presumptious, but if you would, take a look at the old 19th century RR maps of this area. Cripes, we were like major big movers in those dayz, and maybe the right of ways are still legally in place. T-town(OH) is(was) a major rail junction. For example, I lived on a street on which, at times, a train was crossing at both ends, and bugh gosh and bugh golly, I was late for work. Blocked off.

If you could, take a look at Toledo, OH and give me an "off the top of your head" outlook. I hope I'm not asking you something you don't already know, but review the old maps available and lemme know what you think.


I found


via Google.

I have Toledo on the semi-High Speed Rail line from Detroit to Columbus that I am sketching out.

Within the city, I am a believer in the "Origin & Destination" theory. Rail should connect Origins (homes, airports, hotels) to Destinations (work, schools, shopping, airports, tourist attractions, sports (Baseball & Basketball best because of their # of games). Best case is a D at either end with O in between. That way ridership goes in both directions at rush hour.

The French just take a major route and grab a couple of traffic lanes and stick a tram (light rail) there. But, so far, in the USA, taking space from rubber tires is rarely allowed.

What are the best connections you know of ? Think O & D.

Best Hopes,


Sorry, I didn't bookmark that thread. I should have. Someone else here probably did. It was in early January, I think, or earlier. Probably in a DrumBeat.

Looking at the Oil megaprojects the paucity of supply auditions past 2012 is indeed distressing. But how far in advance of implementation are these projects generally announced?

A little googling gives:

So it seems like we shouldn't put much faith in the totals beyond 2008+4=2012 or so, since there are likely to be projects scheduled for those years that haven't been announced yet. The sharp falloff in 4-5 years, then, should not be surprising.

(It's worth noting, though, that my little list is of successful projects, and some fraction of projects can be expected to fail or be seriously delayed - not to mention that some will likely take longer, and "announced" may sometimes be counted before approval is given - so obviously some caution needs to be taken when interpreting the megaprojects list. My list just suggests that additional caution needs to be taken, since the megaprojects list will be less and less complete the farther in the future it's looking, and beyond 5 years or so there's virtually certain to be an increasing falloff in identified projects simply due to the fact that they won't all have been announced yet.

Indeed, the fact that project announcements are fairly densely spread among the listed nations for all years up through 2012 and then practically stop dead should strongly indicate a problem with the data, rather than a real effect, and basically tells you that none of the totals after 2012 are valid.)

I understand that there are serious bottlenecks today for critical parts (large custom valves, etc.) and your time lines may not include design time.

A PetroNas (Malaysia, Shell helping) project with undersea gathering is a 7 year project.


your time lines may not include design time.

None of them do - I tried to estimate when a project would first be considered "announced" (e.g., first press release), and then measured from that to the date of first oil.

Taking into account design time, permitting time, and ramp time to get to full production would probably give a schedule much closer to the 7 years your conversations suggested. It's just likely that some of that process occurs before we hear of it, and it's certain that some of it occurs after the first oil date in the megaprojects list, so considering the full process is likely to give a biased notion of how far ahead we can expect that list to make sense.

If the drop in projects after 2012 represented geographical constraints asserting themselves, we'd expect a gradual decline, rather than the sudden near-total lack of announced projects we see. Coupled with the announcement-to-oil timelines I managed to find, I think it's most likely that the megaprojects list will seriously and systemically underestimate eventual projects more than ~4 years out.

FWIW, this is bolstered by looking at past lists of megaprojects. For example, Skrebowski's 2004 list had very little beyond 2006 or 2007, but that changed with his 2006 list, and of course the current list shows a vast array of projects slated to come online in 2008 and 2009. So it's pretty clear that these lists are only valid for the following few years.

Thanks for all replies. Skrebowski's statements are interesting, in the 2004 he sounded a note of caution akin to mine:

If we look beyond 2007, however, the outlook becomes rather more problematic. Only three mega projects are so far known for 2007 and a further three for 2008. For 2009 and 2010 only the later
stages of existing projects are currently known about. Consequently, the volumes of new production for this period are well below likely requirements.

Then in 2006:

The significant increase in the planned future capacity in the databases the result of Opec publishing a comprehensive listing of its future projects (see www.opec.org) and of a number of Canadian tar sands projects being announced, as well as the inclusion of the smaller projects down to peak flows of 50,000 b/d.
In overall terms, the outlook for future supply appears somewhat brighter than even six months ago – possibly as a result of high prices being sustained and triggering investment decisions.

With plenty of added caveats, of course. Interesting that OPEC making more data available (in general terms, of course) was a source of relief to those paying close attention to the global situation.

At peakoil.com we have a member who maintains a Catalog of recent oil discoveries. It would be worthwhile to attempt to calculate how many of these are turning into real production over time; or to assess how many expansions or potential projects like Khurais stand a chance of coming on line.

Does anybody have any information on the Tupi project in Brazil that is supposed to come on line in 2009? When it is forecast to peak and at how many barrels per day?

I can't seem to find this information in either Skrebowski's megaprojects or the wikipedia oil megaprojects.

Click on the years listed in the horizontal column - each will open up to a separate page listing the MPs for that year. Tupi Ph. 1 goes into production next May, 30 kbpd. Don't know if anyone's extrapolated what its peak will be with forecasted production rates - hard to tell at this stage; you might want to check up on the Tupi article we had here when Petrobas announced the discovery last fall.

Very Good. Thank You.

As there has been such a huge number of news articles discussing only the price of oil, I think this 'discussion' warrants some interest.

I find the Nieman Foundation commentary on oil prices interesting, even if I don't agree with everything they write, which would be impossible as the foundation commentaries do not speak with a single voice.

However, many commentaries at least try to ask hard questions and not let any party off the hook easily. It's sad that some of these questions are not part of the MSM discussion.

They've run several pieces in the past few days. I'll quickly clip some stuff below:

Why gas is almost $4 a gallon and some ideas on what to do about it

Energy Independence is a fantasy
Do the oil companies really need tax subsidies with oil at well over $100 a barrel?
Increased demand in China, India and other developing countries does not explain why there has been such an abrupt run-up in the price of oil...
In the longer term, the government should help fund research to making solar, wind power and other alternative energies more cost effective.

10 tough questions on oil and gas prices

What are the root causes of soaring oil and gasoline prices?
Why has U.S. refinery capacity not grown more and more quickly?
Has the Justice Department investigated the possibility of anti-competitive practices in the domestic motor fuel industry?

The oil industry low-balls profits and the press goes along

The oil industry has engaged in a massive propaganda offensive claiming that its profits are no higher than many other industries. It makes this claim by comparing its return on sales with those of other industries. This is intentionally misleading and deceptive.

Why has U.S. refinery capacity not grown more and more quickly?

US refineries are operating at 85% of capacity. It is nuts to build more refineries when you aren't fully using the ones you have. With peak oil here or imminent, we'll have less need of refineries going forward. And crack spreads are so low that some refiners may go out of business. This is not an environment in which to expand capacity.

The state of OK wanted to build one and Big Oil said no.

The language is not their press release but that's the

Basically the state of Oklahoma said "We want you to build a refinery even though you are not using your existing refineries to capacity and would therefore lose money on building it. Please do this to win us politicians more votes!"

Given a demand from corrupt politicians (pardon the redundancy) like that, I'd tell them to stick it too.

The state of OK wanted to build one and Big Oil said no.

Link? I am from OK, and I have never heard this.

Edited: I misunderstood you the first time. I thought you were saying the state wanted to build one, but Big Oil said no. Well, that is what you said, but not, I think, what you meant. I presume you mean that the state asked Big Oil (COP, perhaps, as they are a big presence in OK?) and they told them no. Of course COP is spending a lot of money to expand existing refineries. And it is a lot cheaper per barrel to expand an existing refinery than to build a new one.

"And crack spreads are so low that some refiners may go out of business."

We are in a command economy. Everything is being done to keep gasoline
as cheap as possible.

The ramifications are exactly the same as keeping food cheap for the

The marginal producers are driven out. Giant collectives/State
become intertwined. Only major hubs have the product at state prices.

Black Market everywhere else.

I think the question was presented to be rhetorical, and in order to create the 'Aha' moment for those listening closely enough to it, to see that this lack of investment is a signal of the OilCo's/Refiners' actual take on our Oil future. Gettin' outta Dodge.

I interpreted it somewhat differently, based on the blurb at the start: "For starters, Joseph Davis asks: Why is Congress so passive on the lack of refining capacity?." That question assumes there is a lack and that we should do something about it. Of course, that was the guy writing the blurb, and maybe Davis meant it differently.

see that this lack of investment is a signal

US refining capacity has gone up 12% in the last 10 years, which is almost exactly the amount US oil consumption has grown in that time.

It's pretty hard to argue that's a "lack of investment" that's "signalling" something.

The time to do something meaningful about gas and oil prices has long past. All attempts to solve the problem by acting against the oil companies or the oil countries are made so that the sheeple will believe that their representatives are taking action to do something, anything. Even if some of these short term approaches could actually accomplish something, any success would divert people away from the basic problem --- limited and decreasing supply with increasing demand.

The supply problem will not be solved. Any radical attempts to address the supply problem by opening up areas currently off limits will, at best, slightly delay the inevitable.

The politicians, while ignoring these basic truths, will only make the pain even more severe as people are thrown up against the wall of stark reality. Meanwhile, failure to make the necessary changes to help cut consumption will just increase the massive bleeding of dollars going to the oil companies and going oversease.

There are no approaches to this problem that do not involve pain. Living in denial,however, will only cause that pain to be that much more severe.

We are, however, entering panic mode and should expect some very counterproductive policies and actions coming from politicians over the next few years.

reading the article about "barreling ahead" it really is becoming a scary spiral downwards.

1) oil production flat
2) OPEC profit baloons
3) Massive Growth causes reduced net export.
4) prices spiral higher on lower availability
5) OPEC profit grows maaaaaaaassssssssively
6) back to 3, repeat and rince
35) OPEC owns/rules the world.
36) GM invents a car that get 1850MPG.

All obvious I know. I just though I would re-iterate.


You forgot step 35 1/2 -- Sion buys bankrupt GM and moves all operations to China.

Harnessing sunlight on the cheap

Here's one for you CSP folks,


"... A team of students, led by mechanical engineering graduate student Spencer Ahrens, has spent the last few months assembling a prototype for a concentrating solar power system they think could revolutionize the field. It's a 12-foot-square mirrored dish capable of concentrating sunlight by a factor of 1,000, built from simple, inexpensive industrial materials selected for price, durability and ease of assembly rather than for optimum performance..."

High grade minds studying low tech solutions. Got to love those MIT kids. This kind of thing is all the rage with them now. Any time there's good weather and I pass by there on the bike I see some of them building something like this on a lawn somewhere.

The root cause of soaring oil & gas prices is that production has or is or soon will be peaking while demand continues to increase rapidly. Modern technological society is schizophrenic: on the one hand we scream for more fossil fuel energy while on the other we demand that oxidized carbon emissions be curtailed. If we can't get to work in our gas & diesel burning vehicles our personal & collective economies collapse yet business as usual means that we poison the atmosphere & surface oceans with high heat capacity CO2 & carbonic acid, respectively. There are 6.7 x 10^9 of us all in a similar, untenable, unsustainable situation. The predicament we're in is beginning to dawn on people and the reaction is growing panic. Meanwhile, as ecosystems collapse and species go extinct, the carrying capacity of the biosphere continues to deteriorate. What to do? Why not bury our heads in the sand & focus on some clever techno-fix, as if clever techno gimmickry wasn't what got us into this mess in the first place. So play with your electric trains, your thorium reactors, your biomass gasification plants, your Excel spreadsheets.. Continue to show us all how clever you are as it all comes crashing down around us. The ecocidal ape is muy clever but has yet to demonstrate one iota of wisdom.

Well, this will surely get you ignored, or castigated for being completely unhelpful.But rest assured that at least one reader understands and appreciates your position.
The ecodical ape will be far from last to go extinct in the sixth great species die-off now well underway.

During mass extinction episodes the one sure correlate with extinction is large body size. Many of the large animals (e.g., the "Pleistocene megafauna") have already suffered anthropogenic extinction. Our species may well outlast the Cetacea & the other great apes, but we have a relatively large body size compared to other mammals, too.

Well, this will surely get you ignored, or castigated for being completely unhelpful.

Do you really think that anything said here will make a difference and help to save us, the world, our civilization, whatever or whomever you want to save?

I don't think so. The timer is set. We have proven that we stick to the way we live until we cannot anymore. We will go all the way down with our civilization, while we desperately try to maintain and repair it. And I cannot really blame us for that.

The civilization that we have created is the image of our collective self. We have the tendency to push everything over the limits. Never have we shown permanent temperance. Never were we humble before the one who gives us live and feeds us. No, we became wanton and tried to rule what rules us. We thought we won't have to pay for our hybris. But if you abuse the one who nurtures you, how could you demand mercy? No, Mother Nature will spank us like a nasty little child and prune us to our propper size. If she doesn't throw us out of the house afterwards, we will be grounded for the rest of the millenium, while she tries to clean up the mess we have created. If we are lucky, we will be allowed to get down for dinner, but I wouldn't count on that.

Anyway, if we would overcome the problems of Peak Oil and climate change, sooner or later we would again walk down the path that we rush down now. Straight into the next limits which would cause even more suffering and more destruction.
You might be able to fix our civilization, but you cannot fix the human mind, which is our fundamental problem, which is, why we are doomed.

So I say, give me my Soma and then bring it on. Maybe those after us, will be wiser than the "wise man".

Well said DarwinD!
A rudimentary understanding of evolutionary biology and thermodynamics would leave most humans screaming in a fetal position.
Lucky our educational systems and evolutionary strategies to this point penalize critical thinking.

And what, exactly, is the problem with increasing the energy efficiency of the way we live? What would be so foolish and pointless about making a house you didn't have to heat, or a "car" that gets 500 miles per gallon? Should we all just suck it up and starve quickly to satisfy your sense of inevitability? What do you propose instead? The fact is, some number of people can survive at some level of prosperity on renewable resources, some time in the future. The number of survivors and/or the level of prosperity increases with each improvement in the efficiency of the way we do things. We arguably also might reduce the level of pain and mayhem during the transition by improving the efficiency of the things we will inevitably try to continue doing. That there will be hardship and loss is a given, but I see no reason to make is worse than it has to be. Do you?

Mark Folsom

The carrying capacity of the planet is already exceeded (for people). Finding ways to further extend the population of the planet do not seem wise at this point.

Further extending the population much is not in prospect. I'm talking about slowing and reducing the extent of the culling.

Mark Folsom

To the extent that there are alternative futures open to us, between which we can choose through our actions, it sure seems to make sense to aim for the best of the possibilities!

Perhaps these possible world trajectories can be modelled as a transition phase leading to some long term sustained phase. So as we weigh the alternatives, we need to consider these component phases. Perhaps by accepting some more constraints in the transition phase, maybe we can make the sustained phase healthier and more fulfilling. Of course, most likely nobody alive today will be around to enjoy that sustained phase!

If we take decent care of the planet from here out, maybe the place can remain fertile enough to support 100 million people. If we continue to trash the place, to party today and just ignore the coming hangover - maybe all the toxic waste etc. will drive fertility down to the point where only 10 million can survive, or 1 million. Obviously we can't evaluate some future sustained phase just on the basis of the population level. Perhaps 10 million happy playful creative people is a better future than 100 million slaves. But - to the extent than we can steer the world and aim for one or another of the possible futures we can envision, we have a real responsibility to do so.

OK, I think something needs to be said here. On Oil Drum we seem to have 3 types of contributors :
1. industrial, economic or otherwise experts; people who know a good deal about their own focussed area of experience and publish a carefully constructed post containing a supported argument.
2. concerned ( or not ) joe public who asks questions or states his worry or otherwise but doesn't pretend any knowledge he doesn't possess.
3. the nutters, to be frank, and the above post is a fine example. we're all going to die, eat each other, live in a hole or on a farm, forage for nuts and berries, use our burgeoning blacksmith skills turning SUV axles into chicken coops, spend $30k on a PV system to save $500 a year etc etc It's like PT Barnum's bloody circus of freaks.

Whilst I don't have an issue per se with group 3 it DOES SERIOUSLY DETRACT FROM THE CREDIBILITY OF THE OTHER PARTICIPANTS. This is the very reason that Peak Oil or other energy future concerns have such a hard time breaking into the public domain. It is trivially easy to dismiss them when any MSM editor or anyone with a vested interest in BAU simply has to quote a post like above and say "See ? Freaks with freaky ideas, we can safely ignore them"

Post away if you must but think on the fact that each time you do you set back 100s hours of hard work by people like Gail and others.

If only there was some way of adding a respect filter like on Slashdot to filter out the loonballs.

I think JimK's post is perfectly reasonable. John Michael Greer has written similar things. It's a very real possibility, IMO: that we may so trash the environment in our attempts to keep the party going, that it will no longer support the number of people it used to.

Perfectly reasonable ? There were 300 million people alive in 1AD and we had lumps of dung, trees and olive oil as fuels. Even whales and potatoes hadn't been invented.
So talking of 100 million is ludicrous never mind 1 million. Yes, everyone agress that carrying capacity with reduced fossil fuels is lower than today but that's where the consensus stops. Most thoughts are of the order of 1 billion.
Justify 1 million and I'll listen. Heck, I'll listen anyway as the man says everyone has a say. I'm just saying that if we want to be taken seriously then we've got to think a little before taking the extremist position.
It is a race : naturally declining demographics, renewables and a new economic paradigm against declining energy and all it's myriad consequences.
I'm just not happy for the cave dwelling adze lichen-for-lunch crowd to muddy the thinking on how we get from A to B.
Just my 2c ( euro cents, that is )

I'm just saying that if we want to be taken seriously then we've got to think a little before taking the extremist position.

I've called several times for a sort of consensus gathering on those braod areas a consensus might be reached. Each time I have been informed there is no consensus here. There is no "we" here. There is only a multitude of individuals, most going in the same general direction, but by no means anywhere near on the same path.

Somehing may yet develop, I suppose. I suspect the problem is that there truly is too much uncertainty for most people to be making final plans. Or, they haven't the resources (C'est moi!).


PS. It may well turn out that the degredation we cause may reduce the carrying capacity that far. Bear in mind we aren't done yet.

I'm not sure what kind of consensus you're looking for. What frustrates me is when old debates get restarted - not because of new information, but because maybe new people arrive. It would be great to have a FAQ sort of document somewhere... but the range of opinions is so wide - and rightly so, I think!

One of my dreams is to build a software system to support open-ended debate, where one does not expect consensus to be reached. But it would be nice to record someplace the strongest arguments for and against whatever proposed action, e.g. ethanol subsidies. As facts and perspectives develop, one can keep updating the current strongest arguments. So this would be a kind of meta-consensus. We don't have to agree, but there is real value in understanding each other's perspectives.

Another challenge with our discussion here: to see what the possibilities are for the future, we need to have some concept of what actions we can take to steer among those possibilities. But there is a really difficult question there: who is acting? For example, sometimes we might want to say that the governement of the USA did this or that. Or perhaps the nuclear industry. Or Exxon. Or humanity.

Even when the actor is a human individual, it gets difficult. What is the real range of possibilities of my actions? I am 52 years old now, and I must confess, my history up to now is one of constantly disappointing myself, and the future isn't looking much easier. Many a January 1 I have resolved to spend within my budget or eat within my diet or exercise to exceed my plan, and I generally find myself falling short.

If humanity could pluck up its collective courage and wisdom, I have no doubt that our planetary situation would be quite manageable. But given that most folks are mired in greed and ignorance... even if I myself could just inch up my behavior a few notches on the courage and wisdom scale, what can puny little me hope to accomplish?

To structure a meta-debate on energy possibilities, I think the issues need to be sorted out according to who the envisioned actor is. Exxon faces an entirely different set of options than does individual me.

It may well turn out that the degredation we cause may reduce the carrying capacity that far. Bear in mind we aren't done yet.

Exactly. I'd go so far as to say we've barely even started yet.

And yes, there's no consensus here. Even among the staff of TOD, we have a wide disparity of views. Everything from "a few electric cars and solar panels, and all will be well" to TEOTAWKI is imminent, head for the hills.

Personally, I think John Michael Greer is likely correct. (See "Preparing for which future?" up top.) I think the collapse will be a lot slower than many here think. But there will be a collapse. We will not just switch to solar or wind or biomass, and continue on as usual forever.

Perfectly reasonable ? There were 300 million people alive in 1AD and we had lumps of dung, trees and olive oil as fuels. Even whales and potatoes hadn't been invented.
So talking of 100 million is ludicrous never mind 1 million.

Disagree. Read Greer, if you haven't. The problem is the environmental degradation that goes on while a society collapses. Say, coal burned to the point that the climate changes drastically, and the animals and plants humans live off of do not survive. Water polluted to the point that it's not drinkable. Every tree cut down for firewood. Soil fertility ruined by salt buildup caused by decades or centuries of irrigation. The water table exhausted, as we use "fossil water" to grow biofuels. Radiation poisoning, the aftermath of a war over resources.

The result could well be an environment so degraded that it can no longer support the population that existed in 1 AD. (And Greer argues that this is typical of a "catabolic collapse.")

Will the earth recover? No doubt. But not in a human timescale.

I don't think Jim was being extreme. He was warning of what could happen, that's all.

I think the thing is that the possible futures each have a probablility that follows a bell curve. On one end of the distribution, we have fusion from saltwater providing unlimited energy, and we all have flying cars and robot servants. On the other end, we don't replace fossil fuels and live huddled on the floors of our caves eating our own feces. These could both happen, but with very low probability. The highest probability is somewhere in the middle, but determining what that is is very hard.

"live huddled on the floors of our caves eating our own feces"

So, you've holidayed in Wales, too ?

Seriously, though, the range of probabilities is
The fact is that we supported X billion in 1950, 1930 or 1800, whichever past energy density point you wish to pick and probably will do so again.
The awful bit is that the vast majority of the 'excess' population is dirt poor and won't do anything above a murmour when they die off from unaffordable food and the like over a few decades. The 3 billion on $2 a day don't have any nukes, no seats on the UN, no-one to speak for them other than a few soon-to-be-irrelevant aid agencies. No-one will give a crap about them when the struggle is on to feed your own.

The rich control the goverment, the goverment controls the monopoly on force so the rich control the masses. Always have from the days of throwing flint spears and always will, oil or no oil. They will be the last to die if we all go then it won't matter.

No-one in the west or east is going to start throwing nukes around over the price of fuel no matter how many starve coz the rich elites know that's not going to solve anything. They'll control the streets, the fields and the farms, fence off our shores and eject illegals, pass draconian emergency powers etc.
The black majority in South Africa figured on revolution in 1994 and everyone expected it. Why would 80% of the population let a tiny un-armed minority white group force them to starve while they drove BMWs ? And what happened ? We now have a BLACK elite, the 80% STILL starve while they now drive Ferraris.

Same in Russia, Brazil etc etc.
Elite is elite is elite and don't kid yourselves on any romantic tosh about people power or pissed and armed poor people. I see the bottom x% starving or working for f*ck all on labour intensive farms or crap service jobs for the wealthy. Oops, sounds like Victorian England all over again.

I, personally, think "catabolic collapse" lies in the fattest part of the curve. Which means we won't be huddled in caves, but our descendants may be.

On one end of the distribution, we have fusion from saltwater providing unlimited energy, and we all have flying cars and robot servants.

And what would we use this energy for? Will we suddenly become modest and live well below the limits? Or is it more likely that we once more will say "Hell, we are swimming in energy! Let's party!" until the planet falls apart?

Even if we managed to live within our means for some time, it is a certainty that one distant day we'll switch back to normal. We've managed to devastate this planet with a limited amount of energy. With an unlimited supply we would obliterate it.

On the other end, we don't replace fossil fuels and live huddled on the floors of our caves eating our own feces. These could both happen, but with very low probability.

I think you fail to understand what a world 6C warmer would be like. I think you fail to grasp how much more likely that 6C world is if the new climate sensitivity work is accurate. (The story about methane being released by warming from the Arctic permafrost and from methane cathrates under the Arctic Ocean is your proof in the pudding. Yet another effect not expected for decades or longer, but happening now. Non-linear, chaotic systems.) http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,547976,00.html

I encourage all to always think in terms of The Perfect Storm, not just PO.


Your post is a gross display of ignorance of biology, ecology, and physics, particularly thermodynamics.

But keep posting. No one stops loons like you from venting.

The thing is, you assume that your judgment of who is a circus of freak loonball is universal. Change is coming, and I am interested not just in the technical discussions of the details, but also on ideas of what our future may look like. Hell, I already get it that oil production has peaked, the climate is changing, etc. - I want to understand where things are going from here.

The thing is, you assume that your judgment of who is a circus of freak loonball is universal.

And the minute you start to second guess and vet subjects/posts on whether they will be acceptable to people whose motivations you neither understand fully nor agree with you really waste your time.
Don't get me wrong I find all this "man is a terrible critter" and "ee must look to the long term after we are dead" nonsense to be just that but I would still prefer they be allowed to say it.

Things like peak oil do push a person out of their comfort zone, and that's where ethics starts to get interesting. We do get a healthy range of opinions here! E.g.

1) Things just evolve the way they must - we are powerless to have any meaningful effect - therefore it doesn't matter what we do.

2) Perhaps what we do does have real effect, but the rippling fabric of effects causing further effects is so complex that we can't effectively evaluate the effects of our actions, therefore it is useless to attempt any such evaluation.

3) Our true moral responsibility has some clear limits. Even if we can see that our actions will have probably effects beyond those limits, it is delusional to take those effects into account. Our proper role is to choose our actions based on their effects within the limits of our true moral responsibility.

The sorts of limits one might consider with #3 range widely, e.g.:

3A) I am only responsible for myself. Everybody else needs to take care of themselves.

3B) I am only responsible for my immediate family, my spouse and children.

3C) I am responsible for the citizens of my nation.

3D) I am responsible for all human beings.

3E) I am responsible for all life on the planet.

That's all spatial - there is also the temporal dimension - e.g. should I care what happens to my children after I die, even if I believe I should care for them while I am alive?

Engineering is essentially science plus ethics. Science informs us about what we can do and what the probable effects of our actions will be. Engineering is a process of choosing the best action. Evaluation of effects is central.

The half life of plutonium 239 is 24000 years. That sure pushes me out of my comfort zone!

That's the thing. I think it is far from inevitable that we must head for a catastrophic crash, die off, and possible extinction. There is a wide range of possible futures, even though given the resource limits we are facing they are likely all going to require some sort of economic decline and transition to a much more frugal economy (and probably smaller population as well). But we are most assuredly undergoing a radical paradigm shift. As Thomas Kuhn demonstrated in his The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, the people who are in the paradigm shift vanguard are commonly viewed as being indistinguishable from lunatics by the majority still stuck in the old paradigm. We are seeing this play out every day, right here on TOD.


I've always considered those swayed by the image of a thing rather than the substance of a thing to be... lacking in substance. They aren't likely to be of much use in discussions such as this as these issues require one to look at and digest a great deal of information, much of contradictory, and come to conclusions that in the end may be based on nothing more than an educated guess.

I find the comments you objected to no different than someone who pushes hard for ethanol or all-nuclear or a "market solution." Or, for that matter, you. Inherent in your complaint is a statement that the worst simply cannot happen. To that I say, get thee to a medium and call up the spirits of the Maya, the King of Angkor Wat and, heck, why not the dinosaurs. Or you could just go to Myanmar.


I'm not saying that worst cannot happen but that by definition it is not as probable as a middling outcome.
Anyway, did the Romans all fall to the floor dead as soon as Rome was sacked ? No. Did the Mayans all drop dead from anything other than Spanish smallpox ? No. Did the Angkor Wat fall over and kill everyone ? No. The dinosaurs ?!
"Civilisation fell" is just that, people lose the sophistication, there may be wars and turmoil for a bit but the need to grow food and survive always comes first. The population always recovers.

As Tainter points out...the drawback is societal collapse is accompanied by an 80% to 95% drop in population.

And no, it's not always the poor. The poor suffered first when Rome collapsed, but it was the wealthy elites who suffered when the Mayans collapsed.

Did the Angkor Wat fall over and kill everyone ?

No, it lost it's water source.

"Civilisation fell" is just that, people lose the sophistication, there may be wars and turmoil for a bit but the need to grow food and survive always comes first. The population always recovers.

I agree with your basic point, but I don't think the question is the survival of humanity, is it? It's whether or not the current civilization will survive well enough to avoid massive die-off. No?

That said, a world 2+ degrees warmer than now will be hard to live in. 6C and we may well be gone unless a whole lot of digging or submerging to create new kinds of cities happens. And that 3 - 6C might happen a hell of a lot faster than you think.


Well said Mark

That there will be hardship and loss is a given...

You have no idea, but feel free to go on believing that "living green" will somehow make a difference.

We arguably also might reduce the level of pain and mayhem during the transition by improving the efficiency of the things we will inevitably try to continue doing.

We arguably also might increase the pain & mayhem by drawing out the inevitable. What in human history provokes hope that our species can or even wants to take decent care of this planet? We don't even take decent care of ourselves, or of our sisters & brothers. And why should we even care about what may happen once we are dead? You ask what I propose instead. I propose nothing. Just live your life & marvel at the wonder of the world as everything you hold dear goes down in flames, if you're so inclined. It doesn't matter what we do or don't do, after all. Nature takes its course, all species go extinct, entropy increases inexorably.

Oh, Brother!

The 'Species' doesn't want anything, Darwin's Dog. Individuals want things. Some, actually Many, do help others, take care of themselves, and care what happens after they are dead, because they care about others.

"I propose nothing."


It does matter what we do and what we don't do. I don't claim it matters to the universe. It matters to us.


And it might matter to the universe, come to think of it. It's one of those known/unknown type of things.

The number of survivors and/or the level of prosperity increases with each improvement in the efficiency of the way we do things.

Yes folsom Man, this is what concerns me. I've had more than enough "efficiency."

Our species has absolutely raped the planet. We've depleted aquifers, eaten up the ocean's fishes, brought about an ice-free Arctic, which hasn't happened in 1.1 million years. We're directly and indirectly destroying the planet's terrestrial environments. Due to desertification, erosion, and gross mismanagement, only a fraction of current farmland is likely to be arable in a decade. Lord only knows what the ongoing biodiversity catastrophe will look like.

As the present surplus of energy disappears, humanity will deliver the Coup de grâce. Seven billion starving people will descend like locusts on the planet's remaining flora and fauna. Gun-owners will hunt elk, deer, bears, and most other game into virtual extinction. Fish-nets and dynamite (and anything else people can think of) will decimate populations of the remaining fish living in freshwater lakes and rivers. In the north, we'll chop down every tree so that our families don't freeze to death during the winter, and for raw building materials.

Basically, just imagine an Olympic-sized swimming pool full of 7 billion Piranhas. There's only enough food to feed 5% of the population. The water temperature is slowly heating up to a boil. And .001 % of the fish are armed to the teeth.

I don't want anymore efficiency.

I don't want anymore efficiency.

I don't see how efficiency makes this situation worse - in fact it makes it better. If we make better use of current farmland for instance, there will be less need to cut down forests. We can go from raping the planet to merely sexually assaulting it.

I think efficiency will make it worse. We don't need efficiency. We need resilience. A la Thomas Homer-Dixon.

We are talking about two different kinds of efficiency. There is the highway into the rainforest that lets you pull trees out with less labor; or there is the kind where you can build houses with recycled materials so you don't have to pull as many trees out of the forest.

I still don't see efficiency as an unbridled good. Increased efficiency is decreased resilience.

Increased efficiency is decreased resilience

That is not a universal truth.

That a single track diesel railroad, electrify it and double track it.

More efficient ? Dramatically !

Faster due to both electrification and no more scheduling issues (bi-directional single track) and capacity is up roughly 460% (x4 for double tracking and a 15% bonus for electrification).

Today's Diesel-Electric locos can still use the tracks, but so can pure electric locos. Hybrid locos that can run under wire off electricity and can run off diesel elsewhere as well. And even new steam locos could be built.

One track could fail (maintenance, etc.) and traffic could still get through on the second track (a short 1 track section does not degrade efficiency & capacity over much).

I would argue increased efficiency combined with increased resilience.

If the same tracks also hosted a new HV AC and/or DC transmission line, this increases both grid efficiency and resilience even more.

Best Hopes,


For every generality, there's a rail specificity.

That is not a universal truth.

That a single track diesel railroad, electrify it and double track it.

More efficient ? Dramatically !

Ok, you had better have the traffic and revenue to pay for all that capital expense.
Culverts, cuttings, bridges tunnels, rail, signalling, sleepers, gantry, electrical sub stations, then maintain it all with your increased revenue.
Why don't you go all out with your efficiency, longer trains, bigger capacity rolling stock, level the hills and mountains.

There is only one reason why a railroad would double or quadruple their lines and that is the prospect of long term increased revenue to pay for it.
Unless the railways are nationalised. Then the taxpayers earning the money in the thriving future economy can pay.

There is only one reason why a railroad would double or quadruple their lines and that is the prospect of long term increased revenue to pay for it

Truck ton-miles exceed rail ton-miles in the USA (not by a dramatic margin, range 30% very roughly).

Revenue per truck ton-mile (I would like published source, ANYONE ?) is 5 times average rail ton-mile (from industry source).

Scenario: Total US economy shrinks, truck rates rise to cover increased fuel costs (and 60 mph speed limit > increased labor costs), total ton-miles shrink.

If RRs can match truck speed and reliability (or come close on speed) the potential revenue stream is quite large, even with a shrinking economy. 500% revenue (600+% with fuel rate increases) increase on a volume of new business as large as their existing business.

Double tracking and electrification would be among the keys to that increased speed and reliability. Electrification alone can be justified by fuel savings.

Best Hopes for Fast and Reliable Railroads,


There's that, but I was thinking more along the lines that the more efficient you are, the more dependent you are on each drop of oil. Our current system is wasteful...but we also have a lot of room to cut back, in an emergency.

If we cut to the bone for every day operations, then any kind of disruption will be a lot more...well, disruptive.

Your car breaks down...you have trouble getting to work. The train breaks down....1,000 people have trouble getting to work.

Our current system is wasteful...but we also have a lot of room to cut back, in an emergency.

Is that really true? you're assuming that the waste is purposeless and that people can stop "wasting" things, your arguement about the "cost of efficiency" tends to work against that supposition.

By that logic we should all be driving suburbans with underinflated tires and 500 lb blocks of cement in the back of them.

Well, if the block of cement was thermal storage and the suburban engine was a plastic steam job, then, yeah.

If "efficiency" means "minimal waste", then most assuredly that is one thing that a steady-state, sustainable economy really will need.

Laying waste to the entire planet hardly qualifies as "efficiency" in my mind.

Sounds like GM is still pushing hard for Hydrogen.

"Rick Wagoner: Can General Motors Really Be Green Motors?"


"General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner speaks at an event hosted by The Commonwealth Club of California titled Can GM Really Be Green Motors?"

Re Peak exports and our economic future.
Sorry to be picky, but it annoys me it mentions TOD and then wrongly states KSA is the worlds largest oil producer. Russia is g-d!

KSA is the largest if you count all liquids and not just crude and condensate. KSA is also the largest exporter by a significant margin.

The folks at Bespoke Research have out a fascinating new chart comparing the oil, housing, and tech runs. You can see duration as well as percentage gain -- and the oil price bubble/run just out-did the tech bubble. It has been running longer, and it has newly climbed higher. (Via Paul Kedrovsky)

Go ahead, have at it...and feel free to go over there and tell Paul why this chart is silly. :)

Note the 5 Elliot Wave steps.

Oil on the third leg and the fifth is always the screamer.

It would look less silly if the red curve was a production curve.

I think they forgot pirates.

Seriously, though, home-building and the NASDAQ will go up (probably) and down (certainly) over time, but oil's going up for a long time...

oil's going up for a long time...

Oil's going up as a percentage of income (or % of GDP for total national or world income) for a long time - it isn't the cost but the % of income that matters.

If/when our growth paradigm stops and we have a deep enough recession the price might possibly fall, but it will still be an ever increasing percentage of the lower net income.

We have got to where we are because the cost of our fuel has fallen as a percentage of GDP (classic economics: if the price falls more wil be demanded) - so much so that compared to the 1970's a gallon costs about half the GDP now - the economy has been geared up by use of oil.

Once our economies start to contract the gearing works in reverse - for every gallon of oil we lose now we lose twice the amount of GDP we would have lost from losing a gallon of oil in the 1970's.

We could find new kinds of oil fields, as distinct from new oil fields. Any ideas?

I'm looking into Alcohol can be gas by blume.

I don't want to restart the Blume bashing that has taken place here before, please
I'm looking for folks who've read it and tried some of the advocated techniques.

I'm not looking to save the American Dream, I just want to get drunk and and run my tractor. If anyone has a better book on making alcohol please tell.

thanks toders

I'm not looking to save the American Dream, I just want to get drunk and and run my tractor.

That should be a bumper sticker. LMAO.

Seriously, one of the problems about alchohol (ethanol in particular) is that it is a low EROI, Or low Energy Returned On Invested. This means it takes a lot of energy to make it per unit of energy you can extract from it. It ranges from an EROI of 1.5-4:1, (which means for every unit of energy you expend to make it, you only can get 1.5-4 units back). Compared to most other energy sources is pretty low. Now, bring in the additional cost of having to grow corn/sugarcane/switchgrass/cumquat/whatever in some field in place of food, and you contribute to scarcer food and rising food costs. So, this isn't really a good global solution... (More info about it in this TOD Node)

However... Ethanol can definitely get you drunk... And that might not be a bad thing, with all the crazy BS that is apparently coming down the pipe... I might just have a drink with you while I sit in a bar watching a ticker across CNN saying the price of a barrel of oil passed $500...

Maybe that's a good goal - you yourself must consume more ethanol than your car. Teetotaler? Ride your bike!

This sets up a ratio, that makes you conscious of fuel usage, keeps you happy (except when hung over) and if you kept to it, would really limit your driving if you kept within it.

Alaskan Bootleggers Bible


Regarding the Nargis Cyclone in Myanmar and their government's preparation for and response to it, do any of you think this was a population control exercise?

The military Government in Myanmar did not adequately warn citizens of the oncoming cyclone, did not organize evacuations, and has been resistant to allowing external assistance. Could it be that their leaders understand resource constraints facing the region and used the cyclone to cull the population, as crass as that sounds?

Bear in mind, I'm not an advocate of the Myanmar government's handling of the crisis, just posing the question.

There is an eery resemblance to the US Government's efforts with helping poor residents of the Gulf Coast before, during, and after Katrina.

Tom A-B

Disasters, wars, pandemics, etc., aren't very effective at "culling the population," or haven't been thus far. Major such incidences have been barely discernible blips on the exponential pop growth curve. Part of the reason is that baby booms always follow such events. Mainly, tho, human fecundity simply swamps such culling episodes. If the govt. of Myanmar (or the US) wants to reduce population they need to limit births (& immigration here). Nargis & Katrina simply overwhelmed human ability to cope. Nature rules. No nefarious intent on the part of either govt. necessary to explain the devestation.

Some natural disasters have been quite effective in culling population -- the Black Death comes to mind.

That wasn't likely a government-sponsored event either. It seems like governments are really too clumsy or incompetent to do much of anything except enrich a few cronies and provide for fairly widespread, but more or less random, destruction.

Still, what are you going to do? There will always be governments -- and they will always be corrupt, and we always keep hoping they will change and get better. And so, I voted for Obama in my state's primary.

We have had the technology for 50 years or so to solve our fundamental problem of excess fecundity: Cheap birth control and decent aseptic sterilization procedures. But we have not used these. Totoneila is right, we are not any smarter than yeast.

Well you may find that religion is problematic in the control of population.

Seems to me: Get rid of the God-botherers and you solve the problem.

All the worlds major religions are guilty.


Revise this comment MUDLOGGER!

Where bearded patriarchs in sandals or long skirts hold sway over women, religion and over population is an issue.

But laughing at God-Botherers is a good place to start.

MUDLOGGER-- who will bell the cat?

The paleocortex rules, the neocortex advises -- but only when conditions are favorable. When times are tough, the population explodes, to maximize the chance of survival. That not all will survive is a given, but in the attempt, all available resources will be depleted.

We know that individuals are capable of great feats of ingenuity and sacrifice. We haven't yet evolved a social structure that will function in the best interests of all its members. Rev. Moon thinks he has it, as does Pope Benedict XVI and his 264 predecessors. It's mainly the religious who believe they transcend the limitations of the individual, even though from a rational point of view, religion only transfers power from the many to the few.

Apropos of this discussion...

Seems to sum it all up, doesn't it? :)

No nefarious intent on the part of either govt. necessary

But that does not rule out nefarious intent.

The USN Bataan was the only US Navy ship operating in the GoM when Katrina hit.

She could have been moored at the US Navy base in the Upper 9th Ward or at the cruise ship terminal behind the New Orleans Convention Center Monday PM (latest Tuesday morning, Katrina hit Sunday night, the levees broke Monday morning). She has a couple of dozen helicopters, many tons of MREs, 600 hospital beds (our hospitals and doctors could have evacuated to there) and the ability to distill 100,000 liters of seawater into potable water/day.

Instead she was deployed to the Mississippi Gulf Coast (former RNC chairman is Governor, Trent Lott & other senior R senator), where, according to her commander, she was "under utilized". She did deploy some of her helos to New Orleans.

No later than Tuesday morning, there was a dry open road from the Convention Center to the world. FEMA set up an evacuation point in Metairie (where they elect white Republicans) Wednesday morning, with ice and Port-a-Lets, to evacuate white Republicans who got a little rainwater in their homes. Anyone that tried to walk there from the Convention Center was chased back by police gunfire.

Only when all the white Rs had been evacuated was relief sent to the Convention Center.

They chose not to use the dry road but diverted into standing water for a better photo-op.


Thanks Alan.

To often we forget the detail, and recall Katrina as "that mess." The hurricane season is fast approaching, but in an election year, I hope our gov response will be drastically different.

Bet Rove and the gang thought they'd never have to worry about black voters again after they broke up that enemy cell in New Orleans.

Now they're going to be destroyed by a black votee.

Well super390 - I wonder how posts like yours survive this site. Leanan can certainly be vigilant when she wants to be. Perhaps she can point out how this racial garbage is vital to the what this site is all about.

I regret to inform you that that was indeed what happened in New Orleans. It was racism to do it, it was not racism to talk about it afterwards.

Okay, I'm convinced. The Powers That Be waged intentional genocide against the mostly poor, mostly Black, mostly Democrat voting citizens of New Orleans, by withholding aid following Katrina. But I'm sure they'll do the Right Thing re: the electrification of rail transport! ;)

You may be surprised (on the second point).


In earlier times, wars, famines and other disasters had a much larger effect on human population than today.

Tertullian's Blessing

As our demands grow greater, our complaints against nature's inadequacy are heard by all. The scourges of pestilence, famine, wars, and earthquakes have come to be regarded as a blessing to overcrowded nations, since they serve to prune away the luxuriant growth of the human race.
- Tertullian, a third century Christian apologist.

Ron Patterson

Well, I don't know about that. WWI and WWII did away with a sizeable percentage of the Western European population. However, people are a fecund lot, and they recovered and overshot in less than 75 years.

Population grew, albeit slowly, during WWII. Consider that and then consider what it really means to talk about population contracting at any rate over any period of time measured in decades or greater.

Tertullian also said "I believe it [Christianity] because it is absurd."

Got to keep things in context.

What oil price would put you on the bus?

I was curious as to what the minimum mileage TOD'ers could get down to, and what the oil price would have to be to make it not worth while driving.

In my own situation, I could cut the mileage all the way down to 1mile/week if I had to, as it is only really needed for shopping and the supermarket is fairly nearby, but I really would be inconvenienced in getting my stuff back without it.

So supposing that I only got 25/gal for such short urban runs, and that over £10 per week make it not worth the bother and home delivery would be preferable, that would mean that I would be paying around £250 for the gallon.
That is around £8250/barrel, including high British taxes.
So for a oil price rise of $100-200-400-800-1600-6400-12800 I would not fall off until around the $6400 stage, so old guys who do low mileage like me seem likely to be some of the last on the road.

I'm really dismayed to see people thinking like that. A car purchase is something that affects you for years. So is the choice of a home and a job. The price of oil can change in minutes. You have to have contingency plans. I have a car but I already make little use of it. For shopping I can put a trailer on my bike (I'm in the market).

My big question now is whether to turn doomer and bug out to the countryside.

If by countryside you mean an outlying, truck-farmable, fringe of an established town, sure, great.

If you mean Exurbia, no way. I live in Exurbia. It's a moonscape. Everything is trucked in, and many of the people have their water trucked in. It is utterly unsustainable.

I have heard that there are areas where the rural, boonies, etc areas are farmable, have water, etc. Dan'l Boone type country. You may be able to make a go there.

But in the West, well, I consider the Bay Area to be the most sustainable area I have seen in my life, and this is why I'm planning to go back there.

My bugout zone is the corner of Ohio where my inlaws live. Mixed exurbs and farms. The exurbs ("40 acres and a rentacop in a golf cart") will be useful for non-mechanized farming.

Glenwood, New Mexico. Water table from the Gila Wilderness...comes right to the surface in spring. Small supportive community. Many gardens, fruit trees, animals. We will survive, I think. Only problem is that is 60 miles to the nearest shopping city (Silver City). There is no more land for sale here at a reasonable price. Gila and/or Cliff New Mexico would be OK too...closer to the "big" city.

Assuming you mean to commute to work. Me i'm 14 miles per day 4 days per week = like you i'm about £10per week in petrol, say $20.

£50 a week would start to become expensive and put me on the bus. that would equate to petrol at £50/gallon and by your tax reckoning (I live in the UK aswell) oil would be around £1800 a barrel.

Some how I don't think society in general would be fucntioning too well at that price!!!!!

OTOH i am a keen cyclist and regularly cycle to work avoiding my 32.5 MPG average car!

Actually I take my bike 2 out of 4 day so oil would have to be about £3600 a barrel, say $7200 a barrel.

A pointless yet fun exercise (not the cycling)


My wife and I are down to about 3-4K miles per year for our two cars combined. My workplace is 1.7 miles away, hers is about three. I'm preparing (better walking shoes, daypack and rain parka on order) to start walking that 1.7 miles; I should be ready to start in a week or two. I'm not doing it because I MUST -- I'm deliberately trying to get ahead of the curve and adjust to anticipated scarcities & price increases BEFORE they happen. The walking will be good exercise, too, which I need.

Walking to work will cut my personal mileage in about half, and will reduce that of our household by 25%.

The next big step to take will be to replace one of the two cars with an NEV - which we hope to do in the next few years.

Note that the above does not include our increasingly infrequent long-distance trips. We always rent for those, if Amtrak is not an option. We tried without success to find a rider to share the last big trip we took. We'll continue trying, and suspect it won't be too many years before we start having more success.

I take a bus to work and drive about 3 miles a week for necessities. However, I had to consider one thing about buying a new car: the possibility that I might have to suddenly evacuate cross-country. Whether it was a hurricane, a roundup of dissidents, or just civil disorder, I still wanted a highway-capable vehicle to take me and some luggage as far as Canada (because whatever bad thing is coming, it will happen to Mexico first).

Super, you'll just end up in 1-2 MPH gridlock with all the other drivers. If you really, really want to bug-out, you need a touring bicycle with regular touring training, good panniers, etc and high-calorie food like pemmican and sunflower seeds, you can cover 100 miles/day on such a rig, nearly invisibly, and will actually get to Canada.

It may surprise you to know that children used to walk a mile, or two, to school every day. I did back in the sixties and early seventies. No shit. In the New York winter even.
My sister did have a complaint about dress codes mandating dresses instead of pants for girls. Something about cold breezes in the wrong area.

No surprise at all, I walked to school myself, K-12, usually about a mile or so each way. Even in Michigan winters with snow up to my head! OK, I was shorter then ;-)

In college I would routinely walk maybe 2 miles each way. I'm just getting back to doing what I did in my youth, when I was in better shape. Hopefully it will help get me back into shape again, which is a good thing.

I'm 15 miles home to work, so 150 miles per week. Relocation doesn't make sense because my wife's job is right next to our house (reason we chose the location) and neither of us could likely change jobs to improve locations without a significant loss in income. I have existing electric light rail that picks me up <.5 miles from my home and drops me off one block from work, but round trip takes 50 minutes longer than driving (I drive when there's zero traffic). Light rail trip costs $7.50, parking costs $6.00, so that's a wash. For me, the initial question is when the cost of gasoline equals the value of my lost time. I figure I can be marginally more productive on light rail (I can sit on the way in, but I'm standing the whole way home so I can't work on a laptop or make calls because it's too noisy, whereas I can make calls while driving home), so figure I lose .5 hours productivity per day. My 30mpg Accord uses 5 gallons of gasoline per week for the commute, and I lose 2.5 hours of time I can get paid for. So, the question is at what point does the gas cost more than the lost wages? If you assume $40/hour after tax, gasoline would have to be $20/gallon. If you assume $20/hour after tax, gasoline would have to be $10/gallon. There are lots of other considerations, admittedly, but that is the first step in the cost benefit analysis, and is one of the reason why (as I've written about here before) I think demand for gasoline in America is so inelastic.

No price would put me on the bus, because there is no bus.

However, I could do without a car. The only thing stopping me is the nutters in their SUVs, driving like maniacs. I can't bike here in winter; even in summer, I won't bike or even walk after dark. The way people drive, I don't feel safe even on the sidewalk (where there is a sidewalk).

While grocery-shopping is kind of a pain on foot, I could do it quite easily on a bike. With a trailer, if I was buying a lot.

But that's the least of our worries, IMO. What's the point of going to the grocery store if there's nothing to buy there?

The only thing stopping me is the nutters in their SUVs, driving like maniacs


Maybe pissed off about gas costs?

As a weird limey , I once went for a post evening meal walk in outer Austin.

Nice evening, cooling down, thought a pleasant walk would be fine.

Problem 1: No pavement, Two foot tall kerbstones (WHY?)

Problem 2: People slowing down and looking at me as if I was mad/lost/broken down

Problem 3: Chuck n Bubba

Problem 4: Police Car slowed down to ascertain if I was a weirdo / commie / terrorist / molester / drunk (or all 5).

Told them I was a limey: They immediately understood and offered to take me home since 'it aint safe round these parts.'

Next Night?

6th Street - Down town Austin , best steak, best micro brewery beer and best live music.

Ah well. You learn or die.

West Texan etiquette: you do NOT pass by someone on the side of the road without ascertaining that he's okay.

Texans are myopic enough that they are heading to catastrophe, but they do have their good points.

I heartily agree. My regular trips to Houston are constant reminders of the near impossibility of walking even the shortest distance. When a fit middle aged man feels he is not able to safely cross a street (okay it is usually about 6 wide lanes minimum) what chance for the chickens out there?

I've heard that back in the Sixties the government commissioned a think tank study on how much of the economy could be destroyed before civil society broke down. Yes, the government wanted to know this. The conclusion was that society could endure up to 90% unemployment. I wonder what the figure would be now.

super390 - well, you heard bullshit, and you are now repeating it. But, Leanan, with her ever vigilant oversight will probably tell us all what the validity of your post is.

do you have anything but nastiness to contribute here? If you don't like it here so much, all you have to do is go over to Freerepublic and they will welcome you with open arms.

well, you heard bullshit, and you are now repeating it

There may be some inaccuracies, but I'm quite certain the gist is correct.

As I was told as an adolescent, the military has contingencies for everything. Yes, Everything.

My source ? Dad. He was proud of that fact. It was job
and his life.

But, the Great Depression of the 30's showed that a 20% unemployment was damn close to the breaking point. So, a study 30 years later could NEVER come up with an endurance figure of 90%. That is the bullshit I was referring to. They very well may have done a study.

Although I work real hard to inform my coworkers about the energy situation and they have the disadvantage of being born around 1980 and not having any recollection of the previous oil crises, I am known as the ironic one because I drive a Tahoe.

Yes, a big gas guzzling SUV, but a 2-wheel drive that gets better mileage than the current models. But what makes it an excellent vehicle is IT'S PAID FOR. If I were to go out and purchase a new vehicle the energy consumption would be that much more, so I drive it into the ground.

Now, what is my Plan A? I am going to buy a Japanese imported Kei vehicle that gets 50 mpg. That's all I need for getting around. 50 mpg would get me to and from work for the week on 1 gallon of gas. (Theoretically). I could use a bicycle but we have some mean hills around here that would only appeal to the truly masochistic among us.

No real bus service of any value here. But if it came to that I would simply work from home as much as I could and get my boss to carpool for the days in the office. You see, it's a good time to be a P.Eng., we're kind of treated like rock stars right now so we can be "temperamental". No really, I don't have 4-wheel drive and we had a bad March snow storm where I couldn't get out of the drive way for three days so he had to give me a ride. I am both temperamental and lazy.

Bus transit is a local issue. I couldn't take it in
Vancouver because on those all too often rainy days there would invariably be some woman wearing way too much perfume. I would get to work with a migraine on those days and was more useless than usual.

However, I think that if we were down to 1 mile/week for driving, chances are we would have left petroleum long before. Or, driving as we know wouldn't exist. So much more of the supportive systems would have collapsed by then; and, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have to worry about driving to work either.

I think the trick to survival is to use a bit martial of arts philosophy. Either use the force of your opponent against them, or remove yourself from the condition that creates the conflict. Or, as I like to say, take the third option.

Deconstruct the situation and see if it satisfies your deepest needs. Do I absolutely need to be in that location every day? What can I do different? What are the barriers to me enacting these changes? Am I defined by job and that is an inner ego need? What if choose to no longer define myself by my job and position?

You may choose to answer these questions with an affirmative to your current situation and that is valid. However, if we find ourselves feeling painted into a corner, the martial arts technique is to redefine the parameters of the conflict and free ourselves from the definition others impose on us.

The modern psychology model is the box that others construct around us in our adult formation. We can reconstruct this box to our own personality and needs. Of course this is nothing new under the sun, many cultures have been preaching and practicing this for thousands of years. But what does it have to do with bus ridership? Simply, "Do I have to take the bus?"

I'm 19 miles from my office, so my commute is 38 miles and about 50 - 60 minutes each day. I go to court about 2 to 3 times a week usually in downtown LA, or Marina del Rey and sometimes as far as Long Beach or to depositions in different parts of the LA metro area. (I live in the San Fernando Valley which is NW LA). With weekend activities, I average about 350 miles a week, or 1500 miles a month. My car gets 23 miles to the gallon. I use premium which is about $4.25 per gallon in these parts. So I spend from $275 - $300 a month on gas. (My firm reimburses 100% of my gas expenses for my car.) I am considering using the Metrolink and the subway/street car system at least once a week or more. I have used public transportation in the past as well, as I am "pro-mass transit." As gas approaches $5 to $6, I will likely try to use the train at least half the time.

I am noticing a huge increase in Hybrid Priuses and Civics on the freeways as well. I am considering picking one up in the next year or two. Our controller dumped his Jeep Liberty about 6 months ago and got a Prius. He was spending a ton on gas due to his commute from Lancaster to the LA Metro. He went from about 17 mpg to 50.

My little brother works in the auto industry in Arizona. He tells me that he is seeing a huge increase in people trying unload gas guzzlers.


I'm just curious. Is there anything that would make ride-sharing doable and/or desirable? Or, any way you see of it being practical for someone in your position?

Sorry re late reply, but just now checking posts. Attorney schedules are so variable among attorneys in the firm that ride sharing is not practical except perhaps once every week or two at most. Another problem for attorneys who go to court or litigate is that you end up going to 2 or 3 different places in any given day. Very hard to use mass transit under those circumstances, especially if you are on a tight schedule. Also, you usually have a large briefcase or cart full of files and papers which makes it hard to carry on a train or bus.

That's really hard to say because the bus is a pain in the @ss.
I took the bus in the winter of 2005 in Toronto to see what it would be like.
Though it only cost about 2 bucks each way I had three changes and it took two hours to go about twenty miles. I also spent about 40 minutes total standing outside waiting on the next bus three times freezing my buns off. (It gets to -30C in Toronto on the coldest days).

So the price would have to be pain equivalent to have my nuts frozen off before I'd take the bus again.

All joking aside though: I think around the next doubling I might fork out for one of those dinky little yellow electric cars from Th!nk. Provided that is, the @ssholes in the Canadian government decide to allow them on the roads here.

As far as I can determine CERA's Breakpoint scenario is essentially peak oil. Apparently it dates from 2006.

From the Wall Street Journal (quoting Yergin):

[A 2006 CERA-sponsored study's] Break Point [scenario] envisages prices rising for more than a decade amid increasing industry costs and extreme competition for oil supplies and upstream assets. Only then does the world reach a "break point" -- the point at which policy, technology, and alternative fuels reverse the oil price rise and oil loses its near monopoly in transportation.


Combine that with Gail the Actuary's find at the EIA conference that the EIA is now doing work on peak oil scenarios...


They conceive the peak as peak in demand as much as a peak in supply (although recovery factor and overestimation of the resource base is explicitly looked at).

Anyhow, I'm looking forward to a flood of new research.

A question for those in the know....

The EIA's High Price Case -- to be released in their new report sometime this year -- shows conventional crude peaking rather soon. Sweetnam's presentation has production at only 60 MMbpd in 2030.

Does anybody know what their peak year for conventional crude is for this scenario?


Just to add: The 2008 version of their International Energy Outlook comes out in July. Seems that is the big date for the release of the first official EIA peak oil scenario in the form of their "High Price Case".

Obama (already) attempting to get Nigeria to calm down...

Even if the deal doesn't hold, it's just amazing that a US presidential candidate, in the midst of a three-on-one political battle (vs. McCain, Clinton and the Media) somehow finds time to appeal for a ceasefire in the volatile Niger Delta.


Trying to prove he is "black enough" by interjecting in African affairs. "See, I care about the homeland."

Don't worry about my political incorrectness, my wife is black and they see this for the racial political pandering it is.

Dear (dear) Prof. Goose and BC_EE,

Hmnn...well, according to the director/producer of "Sweet Crude", whose credentials include an imprisonment while on location...Obama actually did no such thing.

This was a story put out by MEND.


Can anyone tell me if the BP numbers are worthwile? I was trying to use them to plot net exports (production less consumption) by various country, but the experts seem to have different numbers. Am I missing something? Is there anything to be learned by studying the BP numbers or are they just BS.


Oil data is very poor - we almost never get to see error bars - it is data Jim, but not as we know it! - the only thing you can be sure of is your 'lying eyes' when you fill up with gas! My advice is to stick with just one source of data and hope any errors are systematic.

The price, however, tells you something potentially pretty bad is afoot IMO - that's probably all you need to know to start thinking of a plan B. Viable alternate plans take more thought and time than you might expect - don't wait for others to do your planning.

That article about food waste in Britain is spot on. daily mail

Mrs Ruddock said consumers paid for the waste three times over. "Not only do they pay hard-earned money for food they don't eat, there is also the cost of dealing with the waste this creates. And there are climate change costs to all of us," she added.

However, the numbers quoted aren’t meaningful to the average consumer (purposely I suppose.) Overall, one third (all foods) are thrown out.

Here, they limit it to fruit and vege and burble about fridges. link

Here, some better but impenetrable nos. are quoted: Researchers found that people were throwing away a greater proportion of edible, unused products. Rather than half new food and half peelings and scrapings from plates, the proportion of entirely unused products was 60 per cent by weight and 70 per cent by value. link

Previous: Research by the government's waste reduction agency, Wrap, found that one third of all food bought in Britain is thrown away - of which half is edible. guardian

Of course the inedible half is over-estimated, it is by totted up by shelf date, artificial measures made to have ppl throw things out.

So what do with all this garbage? E.g.: Food waste to power Australian homes link

It is one of my bug bears..

In the ‘West’, the culture of waste is ingrained.

Wasting things, implying “I can pay for new / better / fresher /designer / status / stuff” is part of the zeitgeist. Cutting an apple that has black spots in half brands you as a penny saving nut, or far worse, as poor.

Buying a whole chicken and making three meals out of it means - you aren’t up to speed, and need to get with sushi - etc. .. - your kids need proper food!

Waste is a symbol of social status and power. “I can have what I want and throw out what I want - there’s always more buying power for me.” In this way, the upper lower and middle classes ape the the top 5% on the one budget line where they can afford it, as food is, in the ‘West’, very cheap, represents a minor part of expenditure. (They don’t do if for cars or major electric apps. or health insurance, etc., or not in the same way.)
Also, it is an budget line where ppl feel they have control, beyond a certain low point, it is possible to cut down. So food and its waste has become a social domineering bonanza.

This simple visual representation of an average US consumer spending is built on the CPI - BS of course -yet does furnish some interesting information, if only because it shows what the standard is held to be.

From the NYtimes. link

My guess is that the stat. shenanigans *underestimate* the portion given to housing. Housing, really, is land. And the oil inputs (eg. into agri, houses, etc.) are not figured at all, as all here know.

I confess, I waste a lot of food. I am trying to mend my ways, if only because of the expense.

For me, it has nothing to do with social status or power. Few ever see what I buy or toss. It's more laziness. I have never liked cooking, but I am trying to do more of it. However, I often fail. Which means I buy a pack of chicken or a pound of asparagus, meaning to cook it...and I forget about it, until it's rotten. Then I want to kick myself for the waste.

Or I cook something, and it's so awful I can't eat it.

One advantage of doing organic gardening is that you quickly discover that you need more compost - which means that you start composting all of those kitchen scraps, lawn clippings, and leaves instead of throwing them "away". IMHO, materials that are composted and returned to the soil rather than thrown "away" are not "wasted".

I live in an apartment, and don't have any place to garden or compost.

However, my parents compost, and they quickly learned not compost dairy or meat, because it attracts rats.

I just sold my house in December (yay!), moved three blocks to an apartment and made a deal with friends in the neighborhood to garden at their house. Last week I dug up about 600sq ft of their sunny backyard lawn and put in potatoes and amaranth and more will be planted soon. I've been referring to this as 21st Century sharecropping.

I saw indications of sharecropping in the Bay Area, someone has a lawn or a garden, and you work it in exchange for part of the crop. Older houses in that area have large yards in back, with the garage 'way in back, and can be very productive gardens. However when their owners are 80-something years old, they're not going to do it. Enter the sharecropper. I was also looking into renting a house for an unreasonably low rent, it was very complicated though and a little bit dodgy I thought. But I had a sharecropping offer while I was just thinking about the house to someone out loud.

I've been doing this for the last year as well. I live in a townhouse condo with only an 8x4 ft. concrete pad that I can grow anything on ( in containers). It's about 1km from my in-laws, who don't use their garden so they let me use it and I share the results. Works great for those like me with no garden, and the in-laws don't mind the labour-free fresh veggies. Win-win.

Get yourself a worm bucket--best compost ever, little if any odor, dirt suitable for container gardening.

I wouldn't mind raising worms. Would be good food for my fish.

But I can't do container gardening. I've tried, and there's simply not enough sun. Ditto solar cookers.

My wife did 'worm compost' in a small Apt in Brooklyn. Helped that her building had a flower garden where she could take the soil.

Composting also helps cut way down on garbage bags used, and they're usually not heavy, drippy or stinky anymore. We also take all meat scraps/bones and keep them in a plastic bag in the freezer until garbage day.

there's simply not enough sun.

So, is the only reason we can survive in large numbers long term at high latitudes the FF we use? If so, those that live at high lattitudes have a hard future ahead!

People complain about immigration but should all people not involved in food production be considering/planning emigrating to parts of the world where we don't need the unsustainable energy use to live (warm and wet places?) - and leave the high lattitudes to big, hi-efficiency, agriculture?

There's plenty of sun for farming here. This was an apple farm in the memory of people currently alive. One of my neighbors grows tomatoes and sells them every summer just by putting a sign out in his yard.

But I don't have sun. I'm blocked out by other buildings, so I get less than two hours of sunlight a day. It's just not enough to grow anything.

"It's just not enough to grow anything."




LOL. That might work.

Is there such a thing as domesticated morels?

The morels probably have to go outdoors, but there are kits for growing other varieties of mushrooms indoors.


You should also be able to grow your own sprouts - that's an easy project.

In my fair city of apartment dwellers flats so deprived of sun - and all other amenities - most often revert to storage space.
You make it sound more like a punishment block than a home.

I like it, aside from the fact that I can't garden on my deck. It's not dark, it's just shady. The view is very nice. Frankly, it would be unbearably hot in my unit if it weren't shaded most of the day.

You might try some lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, & kale or collards in containers. That's not much but better than nothing. Radishes and green onions should do OK too, and also some herbs.

Which herbs? I've tried a bunch of them, and they all die from lack of sun.

It sounds like the only thing that you are going to have any hope of success with are things that are leafy and small. Thyme might work for you, and most of the mints. Parsley might work too, basil is more iffy.

A trick you might try: get some cardboard, line it with aluminum foil (shiny side out) and set it up as a reflector behind your plants, facing the sun (at whatever time of day it is actually shining on your plants). (Or try this same trick using an old mirror, if you have one to spare or can pick one up at a yard sale.) This will effectively double the amount of sunlight falling on your plants, and thus have the same effect as doubling the number of hours of direct sunlight you've got each day. That won't be enough for tomatoes, but it might make the difference for a few things.

I know from experience that parsley, basil, and thyme won't grow.

And I don't think the mirror thing will work. I'm the kid of an agronomist, and I grow aquatic plants quite successfully (in fishtanks). And one thing I know is that when it comes to light, intensity cannot make up for duration.

You might want to try the "dark green" plants they evolved that colour no work on minimal sun, might not work but could be worth a shot, of course if you live things in yur fridge until you can find them by smell, or worse they find you, Lack of sun might not be the only problem.

Hello Xeroid,

Your Quote: "So, is the only reason we can survive in large numbers long term at high latitudes is the FF we use? If so, those that live at high lattitudes have a hard future ahead!"

See my Bangor, Maine posting at the bottom of this Drumbeat. The sooner people in cold climates double, triple, or even quadruple up into one house in cold weather--the better off they will be, because the body heat can be shared.

The opposite effect applies in lethally hot climates, like in my Asphalt Wonderland. The more people packed into a house--the harder the A/C has to work to extract the heat and humidity.

If we don't have plentiful A/C and swamp-cooled emergency shelters prepared beforehand: when the extended Summer blackout hits my Phx area--the death toll from dehydration and heat exhaustion will be enormous. But I doubt if my local leaders give a damn; as usual, they will just go on an extended vacation to a cooler area.

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

Re: cooking, just practice, practice, practice! I was forced to start cooking 95% of my food when I changed careers several years back and had to live on a severely reduced income. I had always enjoyed cooking, but didn't cook that much of my own. After several years of being forced to cook my own, I got pretty good at it and now much prefer my own cooking to almost anything I can buy in a restaurant. Now I can afford to eat out more often, but I don't, because it's still MUCH cheaper to make your own. Plus it's a fine sort of practice-meditation. I have actually increased my cooking efforts, including baking my own bread about once a week...it's easy enough to do if you work from home.

As for composting food scraps (only--no green waste, and and no meat or dairy!), I have kept a worm bin for years. A small enclosed bin with just a few small holes for air flow will do the trick. Any apartment-dweller could do it, and the bins don't stink at all if you keep them up (they actually have a nice smell, sort of like the ground under a big old cedar). Look up vermiculture. And use red wrigglers--they munch through the stuff in no time. Cuts down your kitchen garbage considerably, and if you don't have a way to use the compost, somebody you know will...

How about night crawlers? People sell those suckers for big money around here. (To fishermen.)

I really don't like cooking, and I don't think I ever will. Maybe I'll just marry a guy who likes to cook. I know one who has recently divorced, and has expressed interest. ;-)

My wife married a guy who likes to cook. She has commented frequently since then on what a good decision it was. :)

How about night crawlers?

No. Lumbricus terrestris is difficult to culture & those sold for bait are wild caught. "Manure worms" or "red wigglers" are Eisnia foetida. These are what you want for vermaculture. They do real well when raised in bins under rabbit hutches.

Night crawlers not so good for bin composting.

Also, if you aren't careful, you get fruit flies. But the red wigglers do make great compost.

If you like all sorts of food, then 'peasant' cooking is almost unheard of in the UK but takes all the hassle away. Except a bit of washing up..

You need 1 or 2 massive pans. Usually called Jam pans in the UK. Try ethnic suppliers for cheap ones. Everywhere else in the world this is what you cook in. They dont splash, can take all the leftover veg from your fridge, easy to clean etc. I wouldn't fry in any western pan. You will just spread crap all over the cooker.

2 wooden spoons [it needs a lot of stirring].

Always have large mild onions in a cupboard. Tins of various cooked beans to add at the end [dirt cheap tinned, much less hassle than dried raw - rinse well before adding as they often smell really bad]. Don't add salt - add gravy powder - it thickens watery stuff, gives 'meaty' tastes etc.

Everything else is to taste and whatever is left over. Buy cheap fresh veg and learn how long they take to cook [eg potatoes take 25 mins, courgettes 10 mins etc]. Add them in cooking order. Ready cooked stuff at the end. Buy the out of date non-veg stuff. Get an easy serrated knife, not a 'bling' razor sharp cooks toy.

Seasoning/flavouring is the key. Most herbs are bitter. Frying stuff like onions/leeks/celery will give you sweeter more caramelly flavours [needed for high veg content]. Find some gravy powder you can rely on [chicken is most versatile, then veg, then beef] and buy it by the bucketful. You want simple cooking not hassle. Add tinned soup [chicken, mushroom, lentil], learn the asian spices [eg fry turmeric powder for 2 mins before any liquid is added]. Don't be frightened to sweeten with ketchup etc.

4 easy meals:

Anything stew
Anything curry
Anything broth
homemade pizza [maybe buy the bases frozen??]

1 pan = 3 days food

You'll figure the rest out..

Spot on. Stews and curries are the classic eat-up recipes. One of the easiest ways to 'enjoy' cooking and waste less food is to educate your palate to be less fussy. So much wastage is because folk will not try something new - or just limit their diet to specifics. I find travelling the oil patch is a good way to broaden you taste spectrum. I can eat most stuff, but bush meat and land snail in Nigeria are hard to swallow.

I like to make something I call 'Everything in the pot stew.' I have an enormous Dutch oven that I bring over to the refrigerator, open the door and shout, Everything in the pot!

Got some leftover asparagus? Throw it into the pot. Some (formerly) cheap rice from yesterday's takeout? In it goes. An open bottle of wine? Ditto. Some shrimp in the freezer or leftover steak? Bingo. Be sure to keep some onion, celery and carrot about for a mirepoix, some light sweet vegetable oil (or olive oil, even better) and a bay leaf or two and you're in business. I make enough to take to work with me and heat up in the microwave. It’s basically peasant food, which means simple, hearty and cheap.


I am currently building a 100 litre tumbiling (rotating composter)with scraps of timber decking!
i'll post once it's done.

Aparently ly this type can make compost in 8 weeks


We used a plastic trash can, drilled holes in it for air and drainage, then rolled it down the hill on it's side, then turned it upright, and rolled it back up on the wheels on the bottom of it. :)

My advise: buy a goat. Or a pig, if you've got lots of "waste".

My parents grew up in rural Greece. My father used to exclaim that there was no such thing as garbage. There are plenty of examples of people living sustainably. We (wrongly) call them poor.

When we divorce ourselves from our source of sustenance, we cannot help but lead unsustainable lifestyles.

It's "no pets" in my apartment. While they are willing to overlook my cat and my 75-gallon fishtank, I'm pretty sure they would draw the line at a pig or a goat.

It's exactly those lines that need to be erased. Urban dwellers, particularly in the US, have very stringent requirements of what is acceptable. It is the association of living with goats and pigs with the Third World that will, IMO, severely retard the US transition to sustainability; people will sooner resort to violence and government hand-outs than "live like that".

An anecdote:

In college, I rented an apartment from a woman who also happened to be Greek. This was at the height of the dot-com bubble, so any housing in the Bay Area was hard to come by. The place I got was a wreck, but being the son of contractor, I decided to fix it up myself while the landlady agreed to a cheap rent.

The carpet needed to be replaced. The landlady (who owned maybe 20 buildings in Berkeley) said she had some extra carpet at her house. What I found there I'll never forget. She had bought three adjacent houses in the Oakland Hills and joined the yards. There were two goats and a flock of chickens running around, vegetables, fruit trees, the works. She lived in one of the houses (itself in disrepair), and had filled the other two houses with salvaged building materials. She must have thought she was still back in Greece.

Perhaps she was an extreme example of a frugal millionaire (with a PhD in mathematics to boot). Or perhaps she was too smart for her own good. I used to think "how can she live like that?" Now I almost wish that I could have been so far-sighted.

I live in apartment complex, not a converted house. So I'd have to get said pig or goat up the stairs and keep it in my apartment. Which would probably constitute cruelty to animals.

I do live in walking distance of a CSA farm. They don't do livestock, though.

You might also want to think about finding another place. If you could find someplace with more sun, then at least you could start working on building up your collection of containers.

I think gardening and poverty are the two best cures for food waste. Spend the time and labor producing table food, and it's it's no longer priced in dollars. Poverty speaks for itself.

And tho there's nothing like livestock for excess-cider mash from excess apples that is in turn fed to livestock-dogs are great also. It continually fascinates me that the foulest smelling, mold covered meat is relished. And consumed with no illness. Humans must have been same in their eating abilities. Our quest for sterilization has made us much more susceptible to ailments.

As young adults my wife & I raised dairy goats. Every Monday evening we'd go to the livestock auction to buy & sell goats, and sometimes they'd have ruptured baby pigs that went for $2 - $4 each. Some were umbilical & others were inguinal hernias. I'd buy such pigs, slit the skin with a scalpel, sew up the body wall then the skin, & shoot 'em full of Combiotic. Some died but others survived my crude surgery to become fat hogs we later butchered. I rarely eat meat at all anymore, & never pork or beef or chevon. But for you carnivores that have the space & aren't too squeamish, I bet there's still ruptured pigs available cheap.

Ignorant question: what happens to the "ruptured" pigs with no surgery at all?

what happens to the "ruptured" pigs with no surgery at all?

They die from gut necrosis due to the body wall constricting a loop of intestines.

This sounds exactly like me. I go through phases where I try cooking my own food. Half of it rots in my fridge and half I end up throwing out because eating cold canned goods is a delicacy in comparison. I probably just need to keep at it for extended periods.

This is one of the things that the econuts forget about when they complain about modern packaging waste. The few grams wasted in packaging prevents so much rotting food that it is really a net benefit to have it. If only said pre-made, pre-packaged food was actually good for you. Personally, I like the President's Choice brand curries. But they're so SALTY. Oh well. Convenient + relatively low waste (no chicken carcass to discard) is on the plus side, bad for me is on the negative.

From the McMansion to the McCottage?

The incredible shrinking house

Soaring fuel costs, environmental concerns and aging baby boomers mean the American dream home is a lot smaller than it used to be.

And less cheerfully:

California screaming: Tales from the housing bust

People in L.A. are coping in ways they never imagined with a crisis they never saw coming. Like it or not, California's reputation as a national trendsetter is going to remain intact.

I may well live in a cottage, there are these gardener's cottages in the Palo Alto area, some don't have a sink etc., some do, generally they're pretty small but at least some distance from the house, and can be rented fairly cheaply. Since I plan to live "distributed" with my important stuff in a storage in one place, live another, work all over, address yet another place, and join a gym for working out and showering, a cottage like this can work fine for me.

Thee are also low-income apartments that are *very* small.

We're going to see people experimenting with all kinds of things.

Just out of curiosity, how much is "very small" and "low-income"-rents?
My younger brother studies at a university and rents a 15sq.meter/160sq.feet apartement (and that's with kitchenette and bathroom), don't know how much he pays for it though (guesstimate: $600/month). He doesn't complain, and I didn't either when I once lived on that small of a space. It's very livable, comfortable and quick to clean :)

On point from Kedrovsky:

Be it Resolved: The U.S. is the Third World

It is striking that three recent articles this week have struck the same note: The U.S., with its crumbling infrastructure and fearful politicians, looks increasingly like the third world. Airports are an embarrassment, bridges are collapsing, education is a mess, and don't even get started about healthcare, the environment, auto over-reliance, etc.


Yes but at least here in America we are FREE to do all that stuff so don't knock it.

(switching from sarcanol to cynicanol)


Yes! Our Wonderful Leaders forbid the rich and the poor alike to sleep under bridges!

Hello TODers,

How to Make Fertilizer Appear Out of Thin Air, Part I

...Now teams of scientists across the world from Richard Schrock at MIT to David Tyler at the University of Oregon are racing to find just the right catalyst to recreate the natural nitrogen fixation process. While they wouldn't eliminate the use of natural gas as a feedstock, they would reduce the amount of energy used in the creation of ammonia. How much? Eliminating the Haber-Bosch process, which uses an estimated one percent of the world's total 15 terawatts of energy consumption (xls) would mean 150 gigawatts of energy savings for the world. That's about as much coal generating capacity as the US is planning to add between now and 2030.
As posted before: sitting in the dark with a full belly is pure luxury to starvation. IF they could find a CSP method to provide sufficient heat and pressure, combined with a biomemetic catalyst for energy-savings--it could do much to reduce violence levels during the Overshoot Decline. Time will tell.

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

Humans already add as much fixed N to the biosphere as is fixed naturally. Doubling N inputs is an experiment with no control. Do you really think that a cheap N fixation mechanism that eliminates the H-B process is a good idea? Think about it.

From the John Michael Greer post:

The textbook example in recent times is the decision taken around 1980, by nations across the industrial world, to discard the promising steps toward sustainability made in the previous decade. If those steps had been followed up, the transition to a postpetroleum world could probably have been made without massive disruption. At this point, after a quarter century of wasted opportunities, the chance of doing that is slim at best.

This point needs to be clarified. The decision to "discard the promising steps toward sustainability" was not made in isolation. It was an outcome that was a direct result of the decision by KSA to utilize excess production capacity to flood the world with low cost oil.

This was an act of economic warfare and it achieved three desired outcomes:
1) It undercut the economic viability of alternate technologies. The development of such technologies were largely abandonned.
2) It caused the collapse of free market oil producers and associated energy sector firms and greatly reduced the funds available for sector re-investment. As Matt Simmons makes clear, much of the western energy infrastructure dates from 1980's and is "rusted out." There were also significant human capital impacts as surviving firms reduced headcount and eliminated an entire generation of technical specialists now in high demand due to their scarcity.
3) The above factors reinforced OPEC market hegemony. OPEC today reaps windfall profits from deliberate actions undertaken a quarter century ago.

It must be noted that these actions will have greater negative impact than anything that occurred on 9/11, greater than any outcome produced by any terrorist bombing, yet they remain unremarked by politicians, or media.

I only remember these facts out of respect for colleagues who lost their livelihoods, families, and in some cases their lives. At the time, no one paid attention to their loss. But you will pay for it now.

Actually, in the U.S., it was a decision by the free market Reagan administration to kill the various renewable subsidies, not KSA's decision to flood the market with oil. By the time that KSA's excess production caused the price of oil to drop, most of the damage had already been done. When the solar tax credits expired, something like 90% of the solar companies in the U.S. went out of business.

Here's some history to consider:


E. Swanson

Great document.

Unfortunately it does not support your claim:

both the result of the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 (ERTA, P.L. 97-34) - combined with the regular investment tax credit and the business energy investment tax credits, resulted in negative effective tax rates for investments in many alternative energy investments such as solar and synthetic fuels.

Even with a negative effective tax rate alternative energy investments were deemed uneconomic and were therefore abandoned. Alternative energy could not compete with cheap FF.

First, there have been wide fluctuations in crude oil prices. Domestic crude oil prices reached a low of just over $10 per barrel in the winter of 1998-1999, among the lowest crude oil prices in history after correcting for inflation. From 1986-1999 oil prices averaged about $17.00 per barrel, fluctuating from between $12 and $20 per barrel. Low oil prices hurt oil producers (upstream operations), reducing profits and output, while benefitting oil refiners (downstream operations). In addition, they also encourage consumption (are disincentives to conserve and invest in energy efficiency technologies) and discourage production of alternative fuels and renewable technologies. To address the low oil prices, there were many tax bills introduced during the first session of the 106th Congress (1999) to provide economic relief through the tax code for the ailing domestic oil and gas producing industry, particularly small independent drillers and producers. Proposals mainly focused on production tax credits for marginal or stripper oil, but they also included carryback provisions for net operating losses, and other fossil fuels supply provisions.

While the Regan administration did allow alternate technology subsidies to expire those subsidies would not have been required if the price of oil had remained high. Oil supply showed a significant increase starting in 1981-82, the price declined in response and people exited both the alternate and conventional energy sectors.

The increase in supply was due to the decision of KSA to bring their spare capcity to market and force a price decline in protection of their market position. This is how oligopolists maintain their position as oligopolists.

The solar industry died after the tax credits expired at the end of 1985. That was the result of Ronnie RayGun's unwillingness to extend the credits, as he claimed to dislike government intervention in markets.


I recall that the stated reason for the Saudis flooding the market was an effort to punish other OPEC nations who were producing beyond their quotas. Of course, one must also remember that Ronnie RayGun was helping the Afgan resistance against the Soviets at the time, which made the Saudis rather happy. Surely, it was only coincidence that the price of crude began to fall just after the solar credits expired.


Check out "Charlie Wilson's War", the book, not the movie.

E. Swanson

"It must be noted that these actions will have greater negative impact than anything that occurred on 9-11, greater than any outcome produced by any terrorist bombing, yet they remain unremarked by politicians, or media."

I couldn't disagree more. It was not the Saudis turning on the taps that caused such negative impact, it was our reaction to it. The Saudis are smart, we just have to be smarter.

The deaths on 9/11 are the fault of the terrorists, the fact that we haven't been able to put the buildings back up in 7 years is our own fault. We can't control what others do to us, but we can control our reactions.

If we had acted to mitigate Peak Oil 25 years ago we would not now be dependent on foreign sources of FF, there would be much less need for military adventures in the ME, there would be no massive transfer of wealth to the OPEC nations, no concerns over the actviites of sovereign wealth funds, likely a stronger dollar and less growth in national debt. And these are just the current outcomes; the Oil Drum provides a convincing survey of the problems to be enountered in the future.

Getting smart after 25 years of inaction can hardly be deemed intelligent.

"Getting smart after 25 years of inaction can hardly be deemed intelligent."

Do you think we're doing it yet?

I think though things are moving, we're definitely dragging our feet.

Think of how many windmills, solar CSP plants and PHEVs could be had for the cost of the Iraq war.

Democratic Senators are working to combat rising oil and fuel prices by attacking what many Americans see as the heart of the problem: speculative trading.

I'm seriously worried that congressional pandering will cause some really inappropriate restriction on commodities markets. The idea that speculation is driving oil prices is delusional. Speculation anticipates price changes; it does not cause them, at least not over any length of time.

What speculation does is bring liquidity to the market. Markets with adequate liquidity are more efficient and will bring about lower prices. If you kill speculation, the markets will be less efficient. Spot prices will fluctuate wildly, but will be higher on average. Since it is an attempt at price control, it will cause shortages and hoarding, at least to the extent it works at all. More likely it will just drive oil sales outside the US.

I think this sort of ham-fisted government interference needs to be considered in any collapse scenario (IMO, collapse will be faster because of it).

Note that I have no objections to some commodities market reforms, such as raising margin requirements. But, while raising margin requirements will drive prices down temporarily as the leverage unwinds (assuming the bulk of the leveraged money is long, which I'm not sure of, and assuming leveraged speculators don't elect to meet the margin call by injecting even more money), it will have no long-term effect on oil prices.

The "Enron loophole" was codified in the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, allowing oil futures to be traded electronically in unregulated markets outside of the jurisdiction of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission.

But Levin also said he is introducing a bill, calling for an end to all electronic loopholes, including the buying of oil electronically in regulated markets like the commodities exchange in London.

Any chance that will happen?

Also, I've heard some speculation that they may put limits on oil trading, like there are on some other commodities. So it can't go up more than a certain amount each day.

IMO, daily trading limits are benign. They don't stop price rises, as we saw from hard red winter wheat a few months ago. I guess they give politicians and regulators the warm & fuzzies, thinking they've done something constructive. If it causes them to stop doing more, then they are a goodness.

India stopped futures trading entirely on rice & what last year. They just published a report indicating it did not stop prices from rising. So the politicians responded by halting futures trading on soy and a couple other commodities. Never underestimate a politician's willingness to try failed policies over and over and over.

Leanan - I thought that all commodity contracts had daily limit up/limit down points. I am reasonably sure that oil did at one time, and count me a surprised if it now does not. If you had no limits, participants would have no time to arrange their affairs for margin calls. So, if you are sure that oil has no daily limits up or down, please confirm that in a reply post.

200.06A Special Price Fluctuation Limits

(A) Initial Price Fluctuation Limits for All Contract Months. At the commencement of each trading day, there shall be price fluctuation limits in effect for each contract month of this futures contract of $10.00 per barrel above or below the previous day's settlement price for such contract month.

From the Nymex rules on light "sweet" crude oil

Oil is getting pricy enough that $10 isn't such a big a percentage as it used to be.

Light, Sweet Crude Oil Futures

Maximum Daily Price Fluctuation

$10.00 per barrel ($10,000 per contract) for all months. If any contract is traded, bid, or offered at the limit for five minutes, trading is halted for five minutes. When trading resumes, the limit is expanded by $10.00 per barrel in either direction. If another halt were triggered, the market would continue to be expanded by $10.00 per barrel in either direction after each successive five-minute trading halt. There will be no maximum price fluctuation limits during any one trading session.

As I understand it, that means there is no limit.

Leanan - Thanks for the information, and count me as surprised. The only minor saving point is that there are 66 5 minute periods in the trading day, so I suppose that $660 is the practical limit.

Shargash - you worry too much.

When has congressional pandering ever hurt us before?

Oh yeah...

It's unclear to me which will hurt more: the Republicans with their low energy taxes or the Democrats trying to wring all of the profits out of the industry by interfering with the markets. What we need is a free oil market with high taxes, and a politician with the oil cans to suggest it.

I'd also like to marry Heidi Klum.

Hello TODers,

Climate Migration

...Few countries in the world are more acutely threatened by climate-related disasters and climate change than Bangladesh. The country (70 percent of which consists of flood plain) is already sinking – within the next two decades Bangladesh may lose as much as 20 percent of its land to rising sea levels and melting Himalayan glaciers.

This is not good news in a country of 150 million people - even a relatively moderate 10 or 20 centimeters rise in sea level could displace millions within the next 15 years. Population density is already high, with approximately 1045 Bangladeshis crammed into each square kilometer of land.
2 page PDF warning for next link [please see the traffic jam of rickshaws!]

Dhaka, Bangladesh, is probably the cycle rickshaw capital of the world. In the city’s population of 8.5 million, one in five depends on the rickshaw business to make a living. Many, such as the rickshaw
fleet owners, do very well – but that’s not so for everyone.
I hope that the US will soon start the postPeak building of Strategic Reserves of bicycles, rickshaws, and wheelbarrows. IMO, SpiderWebRiding will be a great help too.

Paraphrasing Kunstler, "The US has such a piss-poor train network that the Bulgarians would be ashamed of riding it".

I would hate to see 'Murkans not plan ahead, with the sad result of:

"The US has such a piss-poor rickshaw network that the Bangladeshis would be ashamed of riding one".

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

Gunbattles break out in Beirut: 'War has started,' Hezbollah leader says

BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- Gunfire broke out in downtown Beirut Thursday after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said recent government actions amount to "a declaration of open war."

There are no limitations as to how far things can go from a starting point such as this one.

OilyCassandra's video is currently on the front page of http://digg.com. A lot of the comments are juvenille, of course, but there are a couple that say something like, "Wow, I never knew about peak oil, I'm going to research it." Which was her point, of course.

I put a quick plug for TOD in the comments, too. :)

Hello TODers,

Fertiliser price shock set to cut farm production

New Zealand farmers are braced for big increases in the price of fertiliser that have already curbed food production around the world.
Aren't cascading blowbacks from insufficient amounts of I-NPK fun? :(

I hope researchers are going full-blast on the best ways to ramp postPeak urban back to suburban and rural O-NPK recycling [I speculatively suggest SpiderWebRiding]. I remain a fast-crash Thermo/Gene Collision realist until I see a huge change in virtually every aspect of how we live. In other words: I don't see much global effort and action trying to disprove Jay Hanson's Prediction.

Still waiting for Google to unveil the 'unlucky button' and Tiger Woods to start plowing golf courses. We need the full-on Peak Outreach to the huddled masses.

For TOD newbies [8 page PDF warning]:

If you were born after 1960, you will probably die of violence, starvation or contagious disease.

1. Fifteen years, plus or minus ten years, is when I estimate anarchy will reign in the United States. Please note that I do not advocate anarchy. Indeed, anarchy is the worst possible future. However, our government was not designed to solve social problems and will be utterly helpless in the face of unfolding biophysical law-driven events.
At the pace things are moving--Will Jay's timeline unfortunately be too optimistic? :(

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

From your first article link

Farmers had trouble passing costs on and as the price of fertiliser increased they would have to decide whether to cut back on production.

"A lot of sheep and beef farmers have reached that point because of the low returns that they are receiving," Gillanders said.

"It could have a dramatic affect on the cropping farmer because those that have signed contracts have no way of recouping these prices."

Is the world approaching Peak Food?

My guess is yes. I think we're going to find peak oil is peak everything.

We've used cheap energy to get around shortages in the past, but when cheap energy is the shortage, it's a different story.

Giant Texas sinkhole swallows trucks, oil field equipment

VIDEO: http://www.yahoo.com/s/876447

Giant sinkhole swallows oil equipment in southeastern Texas

DAISETTA, Texas — A large sinkhole swallowed up oil field equipment and some vehicles Wednesday in southeastern Texas and continued to grow. There were no reports of injuries or home damage.

Officials are trying to determine what caused the sinkhole, but its history as a once-booming oil town might be to blame.

Officials say the ground might have caved in because of the collapse of an old salt dome where oil brine and natural gas are stored underground. Daisetta sits on a salt dome, one of the most common types of traps for oil.

Hello BKhere,

Thxs for the links! Wild Extrapolation--My guess is the Saudi Princes, and ARAMCO, will finally admit their real reservoir numbers when KSA's Supergiant Ghawar oilfield finally sinkholes into a giant 170 X 25 mile grimy and briny lake. /rant off

I had a "sinkhole"- google and came across this ..... Louisiana Sink Hole Drains Entire Lake. man! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4Of8cm0kS8&feature=related

"For if there's one lesson to take from this strange engineering disaster, it's that a small mistake can have huge consequences."

Great take-home message.



My prediction, $121 close tomorrow, $131 close next Friday.

Venezuela adds 30 billion barrels to its reserves

Venezuela added 30 billion barrels of crude oil to its proved reserves in April, bringing the total to 130 billion barrels and catapulting the country led by Hugo Chavez into the highest echelons among world producers.



The energy minister said the South American state, which is a key member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), hopes to have its proven oil reserves certified at 235 billion barrels by 2009.

Venezuela's new estimate of oil reserves puts the country in second place behind oil-rich Saudia Arabia in the league of countries controlling the world's biggest reserves.

Hopes to? We can all dream, I suppose. Maybe Hugo has learned The Secret?

I am beginning to think that peak oil is mostly about those who want it not having it and those who have it not having a real incentive to pump it. Why invest and pump when you can sit back and squeeze the addicts?

Call it the Trough Oil Theory.

They'll pump more when the addicts prove they might be able to live without it. We are NOT there yet!

Yes Lord Hugo will have all SUV owners bowing toward Venezuela before filling up---
Then they will need to kiss a photo of his azz---
I wonder if that will cut down the trips to WalCrap in the F150 for a case of Bud and Cheetos, to watch NASCAR on the 40" Plasma TeeVee?

Well, considering that Chavez turned PDVSA from one of the best run and sufficently funded oil company into a haven for cronies bled dry of funding and the fact that gasoline (a venezualan net import) is subsidized to pennies per gallon (GM sells a HUGE number of hummers in Venezuala), and the fact that their totally oil-dependent welfare state economy is going to at the rate it's going be a net oil importer, I seriously doubt that.

He probably hired the Russian experts in abiotic oil drilling, I think I will too!!!!

Hello TODers,

Recall that I analyzed on this UN FAO Report sometime ago: it is the total global flowrate of I-NPK, not the size of the reserves. As depleting FF-energy [and sour natgas & crude sulphur?] get increasingly expensive, it becomes ever more difficult to extract, beneficiate, then distribute I-NPK around the planet. Ye ole Double Whammy.

Potash contradicts UN report, says supplies tight

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, May 8 (Reuters) - Potash fertilizer will be in short supply for the next five years, contrary to recent forecasts of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, the chief executive of Potash Corp of Saskatchewan (POT.TO: Quote, Profile, Research) said on Thursday.

Bill Doyle told shareholders at Potash Corp's annual meeting that he disagreed with a February FAO report that said production of potash and other fertilizers would outstrip demand during the next five years.
Of course, I would have rather preferred being proven wrong than have my analysis confirmed by the chief POThead. :(

Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

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

[42 page PDF warning], but excellent article with cool photos and graphs:


The Pakistani government wheat reserves have been exhausted, Thursday May 8th:


Grain to biofuels is a problem that is worsening as the U.S. federal government continues to make ethanol use mandatory after the legislative acts of 2005 and 2007 received bipartisan support.

Hello Rainsong,

Thxs for this very sad info--if true, these poor people are headed for Hell on Earth. I am still hopeful that as all the global bad news gradually displaces the MSM coverage of Britney Spears, and other pointless celebrity and sports infotainment: it will prod us 'Murkans into some measures of mitigation to somewhat optimize our Overshoot decline.

Sadly, my Asphalt Wonderland's Arizona State University's 'Global Institute for Sustainabilty' is still just sitting there, twiddling their thumbs as postPeak disaster approaches. Such is life.

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

Hello TODers,

I poached a weblink from LATOC forum member Barkriver:

Bangor Hydro trying to collect on past-due bills
Thursday, May 08, 2008 - Bangor Daily News

BANGOR, Maine - Knowing their electricity wouldn’t be cut off in the winter, local residents Lana and Jon Courtright chose to buy food and gasoline instead of paying their electric bill.

The bill was placed on the back burner and now "we’re just behind," Lana Courtright said on Wednesday, adding the couple received a disconnection notice from Bangor Hydro-Electric Co. a couple of days ago for the $400 past due bill.

"What are you going to do," she said. "You need those two [gas and groceries] to pay the other one."

The disconnection notice is just one of approximately 46,000 the electric company has issued this year to its 118,000 customers, Kim Wadleigh, senior director of customer operations at Bangor Hydro, said Wednesday.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

That's nearly 40% of their customer base they're cuting off in one year.

Hello MarkB,

Thxs for responding. I have never been to Bangor, so I don't know the true situation, but I would suggest the town's Mayor and community leaders need to do some serious Peak strategizing before the next winter.

Any TODers from Maine that care to comment on this city's energy problem? Thxs for any replies.

Hi Bob,

Bangor Hydro is a wholly owned subsidiary of Emera Inc., the corporate parent of Nova Scotia Power. According to their most recent quarterly statement (March 31st, 2008), Bangor Hydro and NSP have a combined total of $44.9 million in past due receivables which, as at that date, have been outstanding for an average of 66 days. Unfortunately, the exact amount is not broken down by utility or customer class, but if we simply multiple the reported average of $393.00 per account by the 46,000 past due notices that have been issued, the number would be in the range of $18.1 million.

Interestingly, NSP serves 440,000 residential customers compared to Bangor Hydro's 118,000, so Bangor Hydro accounts for about 20 per cent of the combined base but some 40 per cent of the past due receivables.


Thxs Paul

Hi Bob,

Doh! It's late and my brain is in desperate need of sleep. That $44.9 million is the sum total of *all* customers classes, not just residential, so the amounts past due with respect to Bangor Hydro's residential customers are significantly disproportionate to those of NSP. Sorry about that!


Just looking for a little advice. I'm 18, and I'm trying to convince my parents to replace our space heater. We have a boiler that originally came with the house, which means it's a ~50 year old oil heater, and my dad told me that we were paying around $600/month this winter for the fuel oil bill, which we use for hot water and heating. We have a seperate heater for hot water, which is pretty new, so it really wouldn't make sense to replace it. I live on Long Island, NY, so we do get somewhat cold winters, but the weather is generally mild.

I finally said to myself that enough was enough, and asked them to get a new boiler. My mom sounded receptive, especially after I said that we'd have to replace it before we were ever able to sell the house because it's so old that I'm 99% sure that the insualation that I saw on it was asbestos (the only thing I could find about "the american boiler company" was on a list about asbestos litigation), so it's doubtfull we could sell our house without replacing it, and we might as well get some of the savings before we sold the house.

We currently use oil for both the hot water and heating, but we do have a natural gas line that goes to our house, so that would almost certainly the best way to go. However, I was looking into geting a CHP (combined heat and power). One company I've found that sells it in New York was called Freewatt, which distributes multiple types of CHP systems, including a natural gas boiler (which just came out this April, so it doesn't sound like we'd be getting a old clunker). I think this would make even more sense in NY because while I'm not sure what my parents specifically pay, New York has something like the 3rd highest electrical rates in the country (I think it's over $.10 per kwh), so the electricity it would produce would be quite valueable. Any thoughts?

Long-range energy scarcity backup plan: got camping equipment? Place sleeping bags fit for arctic use, plus duvets, inside a dark-colored two-person tent set up in the smallest bedroom with a south facing window. And the dog inside the tent with you.

That will work actually...

I've been cozy in -15F weather in a sleeping bag. They are not very expensive -- under $100 -- unless you want a really light one, in which case the price is much higher.

A good down bag is a must. I spend at least 200 days a year in one---
-15 will beat you up after a while, but is OK for a while.
A alcohol stove is a must also (no moving parts, and easy supply of fuel), along with a suitable pad for insulation.
I recently went on a back country trip with a extremely light weight bag (rated at 40) and hit sub-freezing weather, and got through the experience by layering.
Get away from being tech dependent, and hone the skills. We are all probably going to need brains and skill more that technology.

Hi hightrekker,

I'm curious (interested) in hearing more about what you're up to. (It's that "200 days a year" remark...) Do you have a blog or do you publish somewhere?

Hey Dax;
What town are you in?

There are surely benefits to having a more efficient furnace than a less-efficient one.. I would probably look at some other possibilities as well, oil AND gas being provisional, the below are 'energy delivery guaranteed'

1. How's the Insulation/Leakage on your house? Getting an Energy Audit can be a great Eye-opener and can slam home the argument like little else. (ie, 'Here's where your money is just getting thrown right away') Old Appliances and other clunky electricity wasters?

2. Geothermal System. If you do the research and get over the 'Inertia Hump' for them, the odds of convincing are at least through one of the gates.

3. Solar Heat. (Water or Air) Best Payback (Say 'Return on Investment', actually..), decent equip. lifespan.


I go to college in Geneseo (aka bumfuck NY--look it up (in urban dictionary, anyway)), but I live in Oceanside, which is in Nassau County. You familiar with the area?

1) I've been working on that alot. Over winter break, I added weatherstriping to 3 doors, a door sweep on 1, and calked up the frame of another that was letting drafts in. I put insulation on the pipes in my boiler room and added "extra heat", which allows dryer heat to be redirected into the house during the winter. I planed to add a boiler blanket to the boiler--that is, until I discovered it was absolutely covered in asbestos. Over spring break, I switched the majority of the lights in my house to CFLs and placed a 1 liter water bottle in one of the tanks of one of the toilets in my house. We also got a seltzer maker, as my family consumes copious amounts of previously bottled seltzer. I had to do most of this off my own innitiaive--you have no idea how much I had to bug my parents to finally get them to go along with it. Most of the appliances are relatively new. Other than replace the oil space heater, I plan on getting a rain barrel for gardening water and make sure the cars in my house have properly inflated tires. I'm definately interested in getting an energy audit--I know the electrical company that serves my town offers them for free. I've yet to really determine wheather the roof insulation is adequate, but I defiately plan on looking into that. At this point, however, it seems likely that replacing a wholey inadeqate boiler is a better investment than adding on to what is probably reasonable roof insulation.

2) An air-source heat pump might work out, but geothermal (as far as I understand) involves some pretty big and disruptive construction work, which makes it a reiculously hard sell, even if the payback justifies it, which I'm not so sure it does. I've heard that geothermal heat pumps generally only justify the cost (unless, of course, cost is of no concern, which in my case it is) in new construction.

3) I've also thought about solar, which may be a good option, the only potential problem being large trees in my backyard (my house faces north), which may or may not block the sunlight. On a positive note, I don't think my area gets so cold that we'd need a closed loop system which would otherwise add significant cost, and since we use hot water heating, it could presumeably do double-duty for hot water and space heating, but I'd need to look much more into that.

So this leaves me between replacing the old oil boiler with a conventional natural gas boiler (probably low cost option), keeping the oil boiler and adding either an air source heat pump or solar thermal (hot water and/or space heat), or getting a micro-CHP natural gas system. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

You've been cranking! Good work!

Jump on the freebie. We'd be looking at $400 or more for our Audit.

If you have a basement, I have a 'Nutter' idea that you might want to consider as a 'pre-heating plan' (and partly so Orbit500 doesn't think we crackpots have left, I have to advise you to make this out of SUV axles and hone up your Blacksmithing skills. LI will need some smithys!) I have occasionally described a 'cool tube' system my family built into a home in the Maine Woods in 1980, which took an input supply of outdoor air and ran it underground as a heat exchanger (in our case using the Foundation 'french drains'), and then directed it into the house with a small fan to add slight pressure. For this to work best, it should be a 'tight' house, so the natural updraft convection draws in the CoolTube air at the bottom of the house. This provides 'cool air' in summer, 'warmish' air in winter (45/48 degrees, maybe warmer by you), increases the oxygen content, esp in a home that uses combustion heating, and adds a degree of Positive Pressure, so that any cracks and void the house does have are not 'drawing' in the outdoor air/humidity, but have a balanced loading.

Care does have to be taken in its summer use that there is proper drainage designed into it so that the condensing humidity doesn't turn into moldy puddles.

I haven't built mine into this house yet, but using the (unfinished) basement floors as the Earth Temperature Heat sink, I believe I could get enough surface contact to achieve the same exchange without having to trench a 'below-frostline' duct outdoors.

This doesn't do the actual 'Heating', but it brings the base air temp much closer to the goal, pretty much in all seasons.. and the fresh air is a crucial item, Particularly in a tight house these days, with offgassing foam cushions, carpets, paints, etc..

It's just a thought. I've rarely found this system on web searches and such, but I know it's been used for centuries in various forms. Very Low-Tech Geothermal..

Time to make pancakes! (Maine Wheat, Butter, Eggs, and Syrup. The Coffee is 'from away')


LMAO, thanks for that. Hate to see them wasted.
I am convinced that the best money is spent on passive systems rather than expensive gadgets like heat pumps and PV. Insualtion and passive solar are two things ( well, three things with jumpers/pullovers/sweaters* delete as appropriate ) that will reduce space heating dramatically.
I think we have to look back to, say, the 1950s to see how things were done with the projected energy availability of 2030.
We, the middle classes, were basically a bit chilly in winter, a bit hot in summer, took the bus or train and ate healthily. Oh, and read books or, gasp, went moved around outside using our legs to amuse ourselves. Not too much of a burden.
Unless of course you live in the 3rd world or are in the poverty bands in the 1st world. In which case you are going to starve or have a generally crap time of it.
I think a cross between modern Johannesburg or Sao Paulo and austerity Britain is the most likely outcome.
The top 1% will carry on as usual, they can afford it and always will.

Hello Daxtatter,

I don't have any specific technical advice, but have you checked what energy equipment rebates are possibly offered by your power utility and/or state government?

Also, I highly commend you for reading TOD at your age--Big Kudos to you! We need lots more TOD youngsters to lead the needed change.

I forgot to consider a lot of the different rebates out there for certain things, but I'll definately take that into consideration.

Thanks for the compliment, but I have to tell you, I've been reading about this stuff for years. I first became aware of these issues, including global warming, probably before I was 10. I've ever since kept up to date on the issues, and I've been a regular on treehugger.com, greencarcongress.com, and TOD for probably about a year or two now. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with TOD because while you get much better cold hard info and people actually doing things and not just complaining, you do have a huge amount of cynical doomers that have already given up and are preparing for a mad-max style world more than trying to prevent that fate.

I've finally stopped just talking about the issues and doing things about it this fall after I joined my schools environmental organization. I'm kind of the cool, rational person in the group, which is really important in a very liberal almost hippie environmental mindset that isn't always properly informed on how to make the biggest impact, although I'm sure at times probably bugs people. I've started greening up myself and my family through some of the things I've already mentioned and plan on continuing that, because I feel that I have no right to tell other people to spend money, take action, etc, whether it be individual, my school, the government, etc, unless I clean up my own act.

Among the ideas I've given proposed to my school's environmental organization is to rather than go buy solar pannels or a wind turbine, we form a cooperative with local non-profit organizations that buys alternative energy that could place it on the school, and the school would buy the electricity. The revenue from that would be split among the organziations buy the percentage of the money they invested in the cooperative. This would allow us to increase the total amount of money raised, which would lower average costs (which in turn makes investing more money attractive), and allow people to donate money to the respective groups, which would be powerful way to raise money by donations. I even proposed that we ask (or pressure if need be) local buisness (which include Walmart and Wegmans (wegmans is large regional supermarket chain)) to donate, with the promise to mention their donations, and you know how much companies LOVE good, green PR. Any thoughts on that?

Hi Dax,

I'm really glad you're posting. My first thought is - can you write up this up (perhaps edit for clarity - that last paragraph is just a little hard for me to follow) - and perhaps post either here or on "TOD: Local"?

That way you could (hopefully) receive more comments.

I'm not exactly sure how to make my own post. Do I have to send it in to somebody? What's the process process to do that?

Step 1 - Send an eMail to the editors of The Oil Drum (left hand column has link) explaining your idea or concept.

Best Hopes for Good Articles,


Hi Dax,

Thanks for responding and sorry for the delay in my reply. And thanks, Alan.

One thing I'd suggest is - it may take a bit of time to find, but someone on TOD some time back proposed a kind of cooperative (I believe regional cooperative) for a way to manage the electric grid. Not that this relates directly to what you're talking about, but it might. (I'll try to look for it as well.)

I'd encourage you to write up your idea, perhaps get some references to go with it and a bit more explanation. Perhaps something resembling a "business plan", maybe? With a little more specifics on how the cooperative would work, how the non-profits would fit into it (and would it be legal for them to do this?) In other words, expand your idea, which I like. (It seems like financing arrangements are crucial for some transition to re-newables.)

Personally, I'd also be interested in what your campus group is doing. As well as your take on what your peers think about "peak", etc.

If you'd like someone to read it in advance, I'd be happy to do so. (Email is listed.)

Articles can be brief. I hope the editors will run it.

Hello TODers,

Overlooked in the global food crisis: A problem with dirt

...Soils around the world are deteriorating with about one-fifth of the world's cropland considered degraded in some manner. The poor quality has cut production by about one-sixth, according to a World Resources Institute study. Some scientists consider it a slow-motion disaster.

.."The first thing to do is to have good soil," said Hans Herren, winner of the World Food Prize. "Even the best seeds can't do anything in sand and gravel."
Will the world move to O-NPK recycling and composting to offset the rising cost of I-NPK from FF-depletion? As ELM hammers home in the USA, will we lead the way with new permaculture techniques and non-FF-powered geo-dispersive breakthroughs?

SASKATOON — The global food cupboard is "almost bare" and the demand for fertilizer will continue to be overwhelmingly strong as farmers around the world look to maximize production to feed an increasingly meat-hungry planet, the chief executive of Potash Corp. (TSX:POT) told shareholders Thursday.

"In simple terms, fertilizer equals food," Doyle told the meeting of the world's biggest fertilizer company. "Now the world food cupboard is almost bare."
The alarm clock is ticking, ticking, ticking away.....

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

Don't get too carried away with the importance of fertilizer. At some price point farmers will just accept lower yields. That's what I'm doing this year.

With corn above $5, there is a nice gain even at lower yields. So why buy the crazy expensive fertilizer? Maybe prices will drop next year. Smaller yields mean less expense at harvest and less trucking to market. It should enforce higher prices for corn. Besides, the money saved on fertilizer falls directly to the bottom line as profit.

If corn prices drop due to a good crop, or if the anti ethanol crowd get their way, spending money on expensive fertilizer might be a big mistake. Soil has some residual fertility if fertilizer has been used regularly in the past.

The degradation of soil is over estimated. If soil is so degraded, why have yields consistently improved over recent years? Also if farming degrades the soil, there should be a soil depletion allowance like with oil. There is not. Land can not be depreciated or written off.

China has been supporting its people for thousands of years using the same "degraded" soil. It's been importing more grain and fertilizer lately as it has become more wealthy, but overall China's ability to feed itself using it's own resources has been impressive considering the size of its population.

China's ability to support itself without soil degradation was largely due to the return of all "waste" products to the soil. Read "Farmers of 40 Centuries" and "The Humanure Handbook" to understand what is necessary for multi-millennial soil maintenance. The current Agri-chemical Agri-business methods of farming are raping the productive capacity that has been built up over many millenia. There are many chemical and biological methods that can stimulate the release of nutrients in the soil for the benefit of the current crop, but unless the extracted nutrients are replaced, the soil must become degraded.

In Roman times, what is now the Sahara desert was largely productive farmland. Wheat was grown up to 400 miles south of the Mediterranean coast. They failed to return the extracted nutrients.

Fertilizer is only one factor in successful agriculture, but it is an essential input, and unless replaced will become the Leibig minimum for future crops.

Conserve your own "output" for your future food garden. You will need it when Corporate-Ag collapses.

I've been reading a little about coal gasification. At current oil prices, doesn't liquids production from coal become economically feasible, even without government subsidies? $200 oil and $8 gasoline would seem to make it wildly profitable. Then again, if coal becomes sufficiently expensive, then this approach breaks down. But it would seem like there's a lot of coal in the ground, and peak coal is much further out than peak oil (i.e. not 2005).

I searched TOD and saw some previous mention of it, but not much discussion (may have missed it though). What are your thoughts on this? It seems like a truly filthy technology, but one that could be viable in a pinch, at least while our infrastructure is cut-over to nuclear/alternative energy sources.

Here's a link to a powerpoint presentation on this subject that I stumbled across:


Yea, but if the feds do a carbon tax or in this case even worse a cap and trade system (if we're at the point where we're doing coal liquifaction, there'd be no hope of getting where we need to be on CO2 emissions, and if the system was in place, credit prices would go to astronomical heights--which would hurt coal liqufaction most of all), coal liqufaction is a no-go at practically any price at the pump. No company is going to risk making a multi-billion dollar investment in coal liqufaction when their product might crash in price (which although it seems extrodinarly unlikely at this point is always possible, especailly in the minds of energy companies) and that their costs could skyrocket (from a carbon tax or cap and trade system).

That makes sense... the massive capital investments are not being undertaken because of (1) fear of a crash in price, and (2) fear of taxation/regulation bases on greenhouse gas limits.

My expectation is that as soon as the reality of peak oil sinks in, the general populace will say the heck with the environment and global warming - give us fuel. But that's probably 5 years out.

My expectation is that as soon as the reality of peak oil sinks in, the general populace will say the heck with the environment and global warming - give us fuel. But that's probably 5 years out.

So you think people are going to say "Please help us to remain reliant on something we know is going to be increasingly expensive and less reliable as time moves forward", I personally don't think that's likely to happen, all the people you know must be really strange.

all the people you know must be really strange

Perhaps they are all Texas Republicans ?


just for the record, Tapis as shown on upstreamonline is now above 130$. With a strengthening dollar this means a lot !

As for futures from 2009 to 2015, I read that most have now moved above 115$ !

And WTI just touched $126 - Ouch!

... which means also that WTI is above 81 euros, and since Brent has gone to 124$, brent has broken the 80€ level as predicted by jérôme à paris. (Euro $ is 1.5461).

Sitting at the wrong end of the pump, I join the "Ouch".

oh stop complaining. Clearly there is enough oil:

“There is clearly no shortage of oil in the market,” Mr El-Badri said in a statement on Thursday. He blamed the rise in prices on dollar weakness.

Now we all know which planet this guy lives on.....but what disturbs me far more is the lack of questioning of this statement in the popular press. FT touches on the subject when it says these recent price rises have happened despite a strengthening dollar - but thats it - end of comment - like they just accept it. The only way I can describe this behaviour is head in the sand!


I've been monitoring the oil price with increasing trepidation, there has been a new record high every day for the past week.

With no additional oil coming onstream and the absence of any major supply disruption, the only reason I can see why the price is scooting up like this is to find a level that will cause 'demand destruction'. which is to say unemployment, bankruptcy and repossession.

In my estimation todays prices are 6 months early and I earnestly hope they'll fall back.

This is really worrying.