DrumBeat: July 3, 2008

OPEC's Crude Oil Production Increased 1% in June, Survey Shows

(Bloomberg) -- The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries increased oil production 1 percent in June, as Saudi Arabian output rose to a two-year high, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

OPEC pumped an average 32.52 million barrels a day last month, up 320,000 barrels from May, according to the survey of oil companies, producers and analysts. Production by the 12 members with quotas, all except Iraq, rose 380,000 barrels to 30.09 million barrels a day.

Saudi production increased 280,000 barrels to an average 9.53 million barrels a day last month, the highest since March 2006. It was the biggest gain among OPEC members last month and represented 88 percent of the overall OPEC increase.

Oil passes, settles above $145 for first time

NEW YORK - Oil prices raced above $145 a barrel for the first time Thursday as traders added to their bets on the commodity ahead of the long holiday weekend.

There was little good news for Americans hitting the road for the July Fourth holiday, as gas prices set their own record near $4.10 a gallon.

Light, sweet crude for August delivery surged $1.72 to settle at a record $145.29 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier in the trading session, the last of the week, the contract rose to $145.85 a barrel, also a new high.

The gains built on a record-shattering rally the previous day, and left prices 3.6 percent higher for the week. Crude has shot up by more than half just since the start of the year.

Worried oil chiefs fail to find consensus

MADRID (AFP) - One of the energy industry's biggest gatherings ended Thursday in the shadow of record crude prices, with concern growing about a third oil shock but with little consensus about what to do about it.

Saudi cleric warns Saudis to shun militants

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's top religious official warned on Thursday Saudis and foreigners living in the kingdom to not hide information about militants in the world's largest oil exporter.

The statement from Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Al al-Sheikh follows a government announcement last week that it is holding 520 suspects, arrested since January, who planned car bomb attacks against oil and security installations.

"I warn citizens and residents from concealing them and giving them shelter, this would be a great sin," the statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency said.

A Dirty Game

With politics in the air, James Rogers is racing to limit carbon emissions at Duke Energy--before the greenies beat him to it.

Tesla Plans Electric Four Door saloon

Tesla, the North American electric car maker, has announced plans to manufacture an electrically powered four door saloon. Called Model S, the mid-size, Ford Mondeo-scale car is scheduled to go into production in 2010, at a US price of $60,000, or £30,000. That price is considerably less than the $109,000 the company charges for the Tesla Roadster, which recently went on sale here in left-hand drive from for £79,000. Unlike the UK-built Roadster the Model S, also known as the White Star, will be assembled in San Francisco, California. The Roadster is built on the Lotus production line at Hethel, Norfolk.

John Michael Greer: Lessons from amateur radio

One of the major achievements of the last two hundred years, it seems to me, is the emergence of communications networks that allow news and information to move from one side of the planet to another at a faster pace than messengers on horseback or sailing ships can travel. Though there had been plenty of earlier attempts, using semaphore and other visual systems, the telegraph revolutionized communication across the industrial world, and launched a series of more complex media – telephone, radio, television, and finally the internet. Not all these were an unmixed blessing, it has to be said; every technology has its downsides, but on the whole, widespread access to long-distance communication has been much more a blessing than the opposite.

There are also few dimensions of modern industrial society more vulnerable to breakdown in the age of scarcity now beginning. The internet, the crown jewel of modern communications, depends on a huge and energy-intensive infrastructure that may well prove unsustainable in the future. A single server farm can use as much electricity as a small city, and the technology that makes the internet possible in the first place requires plenty of energy, exotic raw materials, and a very high level of technology – none of which can necessarily be guaranteed in the decades to come. On a broader level, most of today’s telecommunications, including the internet, support themselves through advertising sales, and the economic model that makes this work will have a hard time surviving the collapse of the consumer economy.

The Long Descent, by John Michael Greer (book)

Americans are expressing deep concern about US dependence on petroleum, rising energy prices and the threat of climate change. Unlike the energy crisis of the 1970s, however, there is a lurking fear that, now, the times are different and the crisis may not easily be resolved.

Gazprom CEO stands firm on $250 oil, $1000 gas view

BAKU, July 3 (Reuters) - Europe's bill for Russian gas supplies will rise by a quarter by the end of 2008 and will eventually double, the head of Gazprom (GAZP.MM: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) said on Thursday, repeating his view that oil will rise at least $100.

Alexei Miller told reporters during a trip to Azerbaijan he expected prices to rise to $500 per 1,000 cubic metres from the current $400 by the end of 2008. If oil prices were to hit $250 per barrel, gas prices would hit $1,000, he said.

BP Pulls Half of Its Expatriate Staff from TNK-BP

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc will pull more than half the expatriate employees sent to work at its Russian venture TNK-BP from the country, signaling a legal battle with minority shareholders in the unit won't end soon.

Chevron's Kazakh Venture Plans Maintenance Through August

(Bloomberg) -- Chevron Corp.'s Kazakh venture will carry out annual maintenance through August that will leave production lower than the daily average for the year.

Gas hits fresh record ahead of July 4

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Retail gas prices rose overnight to a record high for the fourth day in a row, ahead of the July 4 holiday weekend - one of the nation's busiest weekends for travel.

Glenn Beck: Your gas money for a flat screen?

Considering the average amount of gas used per household, the rise has cost us approximately $1,690. With the average 42-inch plasma screen going for $975, just the extra cash you've forked over for gas in the last year and a half could have bought you 1.733 plasma TVs. And that number just keeps rising.

SUV Drivers Burned Twice: At the Pump, on the Car Lot

Americans' love affair with 22-inch rims, eight cylinders and four-wheel drive wrapped in an 8,000-pound package is over. And the breakup is going to cost.

With $4-a-gallon gas coming between drivers and their very large vehicles, consumers are dropping their once-beloved rides, fast. But not fast enough, it seems. As the price of gas has gone up, the value of sport-utility vehicles has gone down.

American Airlines to cut 8% of staff

The airline plans to cut nearly 7,000 jobs to offset the pain of rising fuel prices, on top of previously announced capacity reductions.

Airbus And Boeing Face A Dark And Painful Future

When you google 'Airbus Boeing Peak Oil', the top result is this article that I wrote in the summer of 2006. Being a Cassandra proved right gives one all sorts of uneasy feelings, but I will carry on in that direction and offer a revised version of my prophecy, adorned with new details.

In a nutshell: people are talking a lot about the difficulties for airlines with $150-a-barrel oil. But we also have to understand that it is going to be much worse for aircraft manufacturers. They probably know it; but they cannot believe what they know, and they cannot say it either. This is not just another crisis for air transportation and aerospace construction: this is the last crisis until the end of the fossil fuel era.

Satellites Help Offshore Industry Avoid Weather and Water Hazards

Hurricanes have a liquid counterpart in the waters below called ocean eddies. Offshore industries, such as oil and gas companies, have to keep a weather eye on both. Satellite altimetry is helping government and industry manage those risks.

Getting the good oil on crude oil prices

OIL and petrol prices are reaching the horror levels of the early 1980s, which then helped push the world into a serious economic slump. Today's oil price story is not a repeat of that of a generation ago, but those early rounds offer clues that can help us understand what is happening.

After a long period of comfortably cheap oil, prices began rising rapidly just 35 years ago, in the Australian winter of 1973. The main cause — and a signal that world supply was not what it used to be — was then US president Richard Nixon opening his country up to foreign crude oil that April.

As costs rise, cities move to curb take-home vehicles

The take-home work vehicle. Mayors sometimes get one. Often, so do city department heads, certain members of police and fire crews, and sundry other municipal employees.

But with gas at $4 and change, at least five of the North region's largest municipalities are looking to curb the use of take-home vehicles and other city-owned autos.

Republic of the Marshall Islands State of (Economic) Emergency Orders

(1) That all Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies are hereby ORDERED to take immediate steps to implement energy conservation measures, to save on utility costs.

(2) In addition to paragraph (1) above, and in particular:

(a) The Ministry of Finance:

(i) That the Ministry of Finance shall establish a National Energy Support Account as a measure to create capital funds (reserve) for the purchase of fuel, and to mitigate against the adverse effects of the rising cost of fuel.

Asia Fuel Oil-Pakistan seeks up to 910,000T Aug-Nov

SINGAPORE, July 3 (Reuters) - Pakistan State Oil (PSO) has tendered to buy up to 910,000 of high sulphur fuel oil for delivery during August to November amid a crippling power shortage in the country.

PSO is seeking 650,000 tonnes of fuel oil in parcels of 65,000 tonnes to be delivered between August through October, the company's tender document showed on Thursday.

Thailand: Subsidised gas not the answer

Energy Minister Poonpirom Liptapanlop's backtracking on the July 1 timetable to increase the price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and to eventually allow the price to float is typical of the practice common among politicians: to keep postponing an unpopular decision which may hurt their political base.

The Military Battles The Rising Price Of Oil

The U.S. Department of Defense consumes about 110 million barrels of oil a year (about two percent of all U.S. oil use). At current prices, that's over $15 billion a year just for fuel. About 8 percent of that goes for ships, giving the U.S. Navy a big incentive to find ways to move the ships using less fuel. Lots of ideas for that have been developed over the years, but there was little financial, or command, incentive to implement. Now there is, and the navy has managed to come up with ways to save about 12 percent on their fuel bills.

Pakistan: Mill owners refuse to reduce flour prices

LAHORE: Flourmill owners on Wednesday refused to sell 20-kilogramme flour sack for less than Rs 400 and threatened to shut their mills in case of any government action against them.

Chief Minister’s Task Force Chairman SA Hameed has ordered all district co-ordination officers (DCOs) to control flour price and take action against those who are selling 20kg flour sacks for more than Rs 375.

Trickle-down effect turns upside down

Attorney Shawn Christopher saw the economy turn about 18 months ago when his clients stopped asking how to manage piles of money and began seeking help with mountains of debt.

On Eastern Avenue, motorists passing Steve Cuccio’s Chevron station hurl insults at him as he raises the gas prices on his signboard.

John Powell specialized in handling fine art, antiques and pianos when he started his Red Carpet Moving company 2 1/2 years ago. Now he’s an expert in moving furniture out of foreclosed homes.

Long waits for diesel try tempers

TIJUANA – Hundreds of truck and bus drivers in Tijuana spent six to eight hours in line for diesel fuel yesterday after being promised by station supervisors that Pemex, the Mexican government's oil monopoly, would make deliveries.

However, slow distribution frustrated drivers.

Joaquín Aviña, president of the Association of Gas Station Owners in Tijuana, said some transit drivers pushed station employees and screamed at them after they were unable to buy fuel. Diesel fuel is in high demand in Tijuana because its low price is attractive to buyers who might normally fill up in the United States.

So we can't afford to drive. But here's the upside

Can it be that stratospheric fuel prices have succeeded in doing what no government or green agitator has yet managed: getting ordinary people out of their cars and, perhaps, on to public transport? If recent plans for Britain to develop its first new railways (with the exception of the Channel rail link) for a century are a guide, perhaps we can look forward to a new age of investment in public transport.

But the implications go much further than this. Unless more economical, probably non-fossil fuel, vehicles are developed soon, private cars will be something that people in rural areas reserve for local pottering and others will keep – if they can afford it – for use mostly in emergencies. Long-distance commuting by car, driving for pleasure, or even that popular move made by families from the inner city to the suburbs when the children start school, could become a thing of the past.

McCain + Obama = a valid energy plan

McCain backs a gasoline tax holiday that would save consumers virtually nothing, and Obama supports a windfall profits tax on Big Oil that is more an expression of pique than productive policy. And while both have worthwhile proposals, each rules out too many useful solutions. Getting the USA past its dependence on foreign oil will require many fixes.

If you roll McCain's and Obama's proposals together, though, they add up to a credible energy plan.

America's Days Aren't Numbered

I have a simple request. As we celebrate the birth of the American Republic, can we all stop predicting its death? It's getting depressing.

The last time I strolled through the local Barnes & Noble, there were so many books announcing the end of American power, wealth, influence, or just America itself, that I began to wonder whether my dollars would be worth anything by the time I hit the checkout counter.

Israel invests in clean tech as energy crunch looms

At a lab in Rehovot, the man who developed the Arrow missile is consumed with his next mission: making Israel energy independent by using cheap solar power.

"The issue of energy is the greatest danger to Israel, because in 30 years there will be no energy means, no oil and no gas, and the use of coal will be prohibited," said Dov Raviv, now the CEO of MST, an Israeli renewable energy company. "Without energy Israel cannot survive, and we must find a substitute and find it fast. That is what I am trying to do."

Gambling with the future of the planet in the ‘challenge of human history’

As Stone sees it, two trends are converging to force a “major, major transition in the way humankind uses energy” — the cost of energy and global warming.

His speech, referring to the “third energy revolution,” includes the first two — the harnessing of fire and the Industrial Revolution, and the eventual transitioning away from the dependence on fossil fuels.

“We’re in the early stages of a truly historic transformation,” he said.

Wood supply short; Power plants, fuel cited

PORTSMOUTH — Those hoping to use wood instead of home heating oil this winter might have a problem finding any to burn.

Demand, fueled by rising oil prices, is going through the roof. And, adding even more pressure, some say, Public Service of New Hampshire's new wood-fired Schiller Station is also gobbling up low-grade wood. The power company, however, says it is also being squeezed and paying more for the wood it burns in its boilers.

Oil prices neared $146 a barrel for 1st time ever

Oil prices neared $146 a barrel Thursday for the first time ever on reports of declining U.S. stockpiles and the threat of conflict with Iran.

Comments by Saudi Arabia's oil minister suggesting his country had no immediate plans to boost production also lifted prices.

Expectations that the European Central Bank will raise interest rates later Thursday could further weaken the U.S. dollar and drive oil prices even higher, as investors turn to commodities as a hedge against a falling greenback, traders said.

By midday in Europe, light, sweet crude for August delivery rose $2.28 to a record $145.85 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Middle East oil consumption shows strong growth

(MENAFN - Bahrain Tribune) Middle East oil consumption showed above average growth of 4.4 per cent during 2007 as regional and global production fell for the first time since 2002, according to the recently released 2008 BP Statistical Review of World Energy.

The rise in Middle East oil consumption to 6.2 million barrels/day reflected the region's continued strong economic growth mirroring a worldwide trend of increasing demand from emerging markets. In percentage terms, the Middle East regional increase in oil demand was the world's third highest after Latin America and Africa. Middle East oil production fell by 1.8 per cent to 25.2 million b/d on the back of OPEC production cuts in late 2006 and early 2007. The decline was partially offset by a seven per cent increase in production from Iraq.

At $9 per gallon, British driving habits change

Gas stations in Britain are reporting unusual changes in buying patterns, says Alex Wells of the Petrol Retailers Association. "Buying in the morning is down, but not so much in the afternoon," he says. "This is because second cars are being used less, the stay-at-home mums are driving less. They are doing the weekly shopping in one hit."

Sheila Rainger, deputy director of the Royal Automobile Club Foundation, an independent motorists' association, says the effect is clear on the roads, too. "We have a perception that people have cut back on optional journeys," she remarks. "We are starting to see a fall in congestion and in traffic."

Poor at the pumps

Millions of lorry drivers went on strike yesterday, furious over rising fuel prices and a lack of government support. No, not the UK (where, whatever media attention might lead one to believe, the protesting truckers in London yesterday numbered merely in the hundreds), but India. Over the past few weeks, rising fuel prices have led to haulier demonstrations in places as far apart as Australia, Bulgaria and South Korea. And while fuel is cheap in oil-rich Indonesia, even there rising prices led students to stitch their lips shut in protest.

10 Things You Can Like About $4 Gas

Gas prices are near $4 per gal., as no one needs to tell you, and they are likely to stay that way. Most of us still don't have the alternatives we need to adapt with grace, which means that many will adapt just by suffering. We will run out of gas on I-80, ease our minivans over to the shoulder and tell the kids everything is O.K. We'll fall behind on Visa bills to pay for gas so we can buy food made ever more expensive by energy costs.

But it's also true that Americans are finding options where there seemed to be none. They're ready to change — and waiting for their infrastructure to catch up. They are driving to commuter-rail lines only to find there are no parking spots left. They are running fewer errands and dumping their SUVs. Public-transit use is at a 50-year high. Gas purchases are down 2% to 3%. And all those changes bring secondary, hard-earned benefits.

Minister: Indonesia still secure from rocketing global oil prices

JAKARTA, July 3 (Xinhua) -- Indonesia is still secure from rocketing global oil price which reached 150 U.S. dollars per barrel, Purnomo Yusgiantoro, Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources said on Thursday.

"The state budget remains safe," Yusgiantoro was quoted by local Metro TV as saying. The Indonesian government is trying to balance the deficit of the state budget which has been affected by the oil prices, he said.

World oil market in fear of terror attack in Saudi Arabia

PARIS: An attack -- or even an attempted attack -- by Islamic extremists on Saudi Arabia's oil sector would have disastrous consequences on the world market and the price per barrel, analysts warn.

Medvedev Sees Oil Price at $150, Slower Global Growth

(Bloomberg) -- Dmitry Medvedev, the president of Russia, the world's second-biggest oil producer, expects prices to rise to $150 a barrel and retard global growth.

``Oil prices will reach $150 a barrel,'' Medvedev said in a meeting with reporters in Moscow ahead of his participation in a summit of the Group of Eight industrial countries in Japan on July 7-9. ``Unfortunately, rising oil prices create problems for the world's economy.''

U.S. officials condoned Kurdish oil deal

WASHINGTON - U.S. officials condoned Hunt Oil Co. efforts to obtain an exploration deal with Iraq’s Kurdish regional government, contrary to public statements discouraging it, according to documents cited by a congressional committee.

Big Oil's 'secret' out of Iraq's closet

It is not about the "war on terror". It is not about weapons of mass destruction. It is not about "freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people", or to the "Afghan people". It is not about "Islamofascism". It is not about a Pentagon-coined "arc of instability" from the Middle East to Central Asia. New evidence shows once again both George W Bush administration wars - in Afghanistan and Iraq - above all are about oil and gas.

Happy Oil Dependence Day

Only in an America dumbed down by constant propaganda about our innate moral superiority will anyone any longer believe that we didn't invade Iraq for the oil, even though Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice came to the Bush Administration from the board of directors at Chevron, where they named an oil tanker after her. Like Vice President Dick Cheney with those Halliburton contracts, Rice has stayed true to her corporate sponsors. That's what the US invasion of Iraq accomplished; for the first time in more than three decades after Iraq joined a worldwide trend of formerly colonized nations gaining control of their own resources, Big Oil is getting its black gold back. It was always about the oil--that's why "we" invaded Iraq--only "we" aren't getting any, at least not at a reasonable price. The oil companies are.

Petrobras's Tupi Viable at Third of Current Oil Price

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleo Brasileiro SA's Tupi field is commercially viable at an oil price as low as $40 to $50 a barrel, according to the Brazilian state-controlled company's chief executive officer.

Schlumberger CEO says security costs have soared

MADRID (Reuters) - Schlumberger (SLB.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) Chief Executive Andrew Gould on Thursday said that security costs for employees in the world's biggest oil services company had risen dramatically and spread over the past 10 years.

"Ten years ago, I would have worried about Colombia and Yemen. Today, on a daily basis, we probably review 10 countries," Gould told a news conference in Madrid.

Petrobras Refineries to Cost More on Steel Prices, Estado Says

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil's state-controlled oil company, will have to invest more than initially planned to build two new refineries after the price of steel increased, Agencia Estado reported, citing Pedro Jose Barusco Filho, manager of engineering at Petrobras.

India, Iran to seal gas pipeline deal 'by next month': oil minister

MADRID (AFP) - India expects to finalise a deal "by next month" on a pipeline that will transport gas from Iran, Indian Oil Minister Murli Deora told AFP on Thursday.

Nigeria oil rebel wins right to appeal secret trial

LAGOS, July 3 (Reuters) - The suspected leader of Nigeria's main oil militant group has won the right to appeal to have his trial for treason and gun-running held in public, a move which could placate his well-armed supporters in the Niger Delta.

Landowners Fret Over Impact In Selling Gas-Drilling Rights

In the current economic squeeze, financial opportunity is outweighing environmental issues for people swept up in a land grab by energy companies targeting gas reserves thousands of feet beneath people's properties.

From Oil Glut to Oil Drought

Two years from now, in 2010, a large percentage of interstate travel, shipping and air carrier service will cease to function. I will explain that in a minute. The exact percentage is unknown, but I would think it is over 50 percent. Also, a massive failure of the banking system of the United States will put most business in dire jeopardy. Furthermore, without interstate trucking there will be sporadic food shipments in the United States. In short, 2010 is the year that the US ceases to function as a nation and splinters into dozens of isolated regions without energy or food or work. The outcome is rioting, looting, murder and fear of everything. The local, state and federal governments will be helpless because they cannot respond to the scene or enforcement is overwhelmed.

Oil: Pump more—or—Use less and find other options

In the introduction to his article Simmons states “Don’t imagine that pumping more oil will get us out of our current mess. Dealing with the addiction is the only option.”

New Zealand: Transition town gets moving

The Bay of Islands transition towns initiative got off to a roaring start last week with about 110 people packing the Wharepuke hall.

It was clear there will be no shortage of people willing to climb on board the community campaign to become less wasteful and more economical.

Kaitaia and Kohukohu are also making moves to join the transition town movement, which brings people together to explore how communities can respond to the twin challenges of climate change and peak oil.

What America Needs Now - 2008

Access to energy, specifically electricity on demand is the KEY to our way of life. It is what separates the "developed" world from the "third" world. If we don't focus on and discuss the most critical issue of our day, we will all lose and all be sitting in the dark.

What America needs NOW are fewer Democrats, fewer Republicans, fewer politicians and more Americans who will put politics second and the future of our planet, our children and grandchildren as their first priority.

What About Free Hydrogen? Part 1

Over the next couple of Green posts I will discuss the matter of free hydrogen. Yes, just make hydrogen free by, say, 2020, and let industry, with government assistance, develop the infrastructure and systems to handle the Age of Free Hydrogen.

China faces serious challenges on grain supply: premier

SHANGHAI (AFP) - China faces serious challenges in ensuring it will have enough grain to feed its population in the decades to come, with urbanisation and climate change two major problems, Premier Wen Jiabao said.

Food Scarcity Blamed On High Oil Price

The current high prices of oil will aggravate poverty and starvation in the world's undeveloped countries, if urgent measures are not deployed to encourage private access to oil reserves, evolution of technologies and consumption efficiency.

Climate change threatens global food and water supply

‘Food and water shortages are now a dangerous reality particularly in many developing countries,’ exclaimed Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society which is the national academy of science of the UK and the Commonwealth. This bleak situation is only going to get worse if current trends are not changed.

‘In the coming years, they will be aggravated by rising populations, and climate change,’ Martin continued. ‘These threats must be properly assessed and solutions identified if we are to avoid costly mistakes from investing in technologies and infrastructure that do not take climate change into account.’

Some 1.5 Bln People May Starve Due to Land Erosion - FAO

Rising land degradation reduces crop yields and may threaten food security of about a quarter of the world' population, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said on Wednesday.

Climate Scorecard ranks U.S. last among largest economies

BERLIN (AP) — The U.S. has done the least among the world's eight biggest economies to address global warming, a study released Thursday found.

UK: Climate more urgent than economy, say voters

Voters think that taking action against climate change matters more than tackling the global economic downturn, according to a Guardian/ICM poll published today. The results, which will delight green campaigners, suggest that support for environmental action is not collapsing as feared in the face of possible recession.

Break out the party hats... It's QUAD YERGIN DAY! Woo-hoo!

At least in Asia. . . .

(One "Yergin" = $38 per barrel. Do a Google Search for Daniel Yergin Day)

A few past quotes from Mr. Yergin on this glorious occasion...

A more relevant description would be a plateau in production capacity that might be reached in the fourth or fifth decade of this century. -Daniel Yergin

But eventually it's a question of access: Getting access to fields is on top of the oil companies' agenda. We see a substantial build-up of supply occurring over the coming years. -Daniel Yergin

Cycles of shortage and surplus characterize the entire history of oil. -Daniel Yergin

I think the producers, for the most part, don't want to see prices skyrocket because that will only create problems for them down the road and would also be a, you know, would be a very serious shock for a world economy that can't afford serious shocks right now. -Daniel Yergin

It's extraordinary how inventive one can be with ethanol right now. -Daniel Yergin

So the major obstacle to the development of new supplies is not geology but what happens above ground: international affairs, politics, investment and technology. -Daniel Yergin

The other are the strategic, so-called strategic stocks that the United States and the other Western industrial countries have, which could put in as much as four million barrels a day of oil into the market pretty quickly. -Daniel Yergin

This has a lot to do with the unrest in Nigeria, but also with the production loss after the hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, the decline in Iraq since the 2003 war, and the decline in Venezuelan output since 2002. -Daniel Yergin

We are living in a different world now. You can see it everywhere in international relations: It was noteworthy that, after his visit to Washington, the Chinese president's next stop was Saudi Arabia. -Daniel Yergin

Within four or five years the US might be getting 10 percent of its gasoline from ethanol - that would be like creating a new Indonesia. -Daniel Yergin

You know, some of these wise quotes belong in the upper right corner... :)

Good work Gekolizard.

Print it off folks and tack it on your bulletin boards. Makes a great poster and conversation starter.

People who are not energy savvy will start by saying: "Now who did you say Daniel Yergin is?"

Within four or five years the US might be getting 10 percent of its gasoline from ethanol

I know it's nitpicking, but still... Unfortunately I have heard other people, who should know better, make the same error. It just goes to show how deeply rooted gasoline == fuel is.

Within four or five years the US might be getting 10 percent of its gasoline from ethanol - that would be like creating a new Indonesia. -Daniel Yergin

Now what's truly hilarious about this quote is Indonesia has peaked already... It's an IMPORTER for Pete's sake...

What he's really saying is that gas=ethanol (false), we'll be getting 10% of our our fuel from ethanol (false), and the volume we'll be replacing is the same as a country which is not a producer but an importer.

Even parts of a single sentence from this guy are wrong...

Better graphs are available from the Energy Export Databrowser:

After his old comments about oil to 120mbd and no peak until after 2040, he must be feeling like a complete idiot.

He has certainly changed his tune recently but unfortunatley there is still utter denial in that he was ever wrong. See the latest CERA frontpage details but production rates are completely left out of a 4 page synopsis of world production!!:


"Willll.........not.........be........asssimilated..............nooooooooooooooooooooooo......pe.............nooooooooo.ppeeeeeeeee...noo...ppppppp.pp.p.pppeeeeak oil" Sobs and wracks back.


Can't wait for Cinco de Yergin. Cheladas all around.

(And considering the time of year, shouldn't it be called the 4th of Yergin.)

Could also be called one bin Laden day per late yesterdays' DB post.

With all due honor and respect to those lost and those still suffering the effects of 9-11 and nto to condone any acts of terror under any conditions - and realizing I may get royally flamed - I honestly ask the question:

Since 9/11 who has brought more to hurt the USA (or should I say the world)?
B) Bush-Cheney
C) None of the above


It was my understanding that OBL/UBL wanted to bankrupt us similar to what he accomplished with the USSR. Looks like it happened in the same country, same reasons........."mission accomplished" rings pretty true here in 2008.

I thought Ronald Raygun bankrupted the USSR. Did I get that wrong?

OBL had many writtings - and I'm sure someone has a collection of his 'want list' VS what has happened. Perhaps someone will post a link to such.

A thoughtful analysis of OBL's goals here: http://www.history.navy.mil/library/online/al-queda%20evolve.htm

It's chilling to think that the whole 9/11 tragedy could have been about something as obscure as "withdrawal of U.S. and other foreign troops from Saudi Arabia"...

...Say who? ...From WHERE? How was that issue ever important enough to change the course of world history???

(And Bin Laden got his wish, anyway... http://www.cfr.org/publication/7739/saudi_arabia.html)

Looking at it from an oil demand perspective, as we discussed in an earlier DB the U.S. military is using the energy equivalent of about one month's worth of crude oil production from Iraq every year (82 million barrels per year of JP-8, the energy equivalent of roughly 77 million barrels of crude oil). That's 0.2 million barrels per day, or mbpd. That's not an insignificant amount of demand, about 1% of total U.S. consumption. If this sounds small, remember that T. Boone Pickens said world demand right now is 87 mbpd, world production is 85 mbpd, a 2% difference.

Iraq production has only now come back up to its pre-war levels, 2.5 mbpd, just eye-balling it it looks like average production was around 2 mbpd for most of the war. Taking the difference, maybe we've missed about 0.5 mbpd or 183 million barrels per year, 2.5% of U.S. daily consumption.

So, thus far the Iraq war has decreased the supply of oil while increasing the demand for oil. Moral questions aside, it would have been much better for the U.S. economy to buy oil from Hussein instead of invading. If the Bush administration really did have us invade Iraq to secure oil supplies, it has turned out as a damn poor tactical decision so far.

*I've been editing this a lot, but I think I'm done now. :) *

But don't you think that the Bush ad. invaded Iraq to basically funnel money to the contractors (US corporations that are often employing people who have worked for Bush ad.) Without a war they can't get the gazillions in funds they're getting now.......

War with Iraq was a terrible decision, morally and in every other way too. But the people in the top of govt and business in the US are not caring about any of that. They have very expensive lifestyles to maintain and no social safety net over there in the US. So if they don't screw others over, they'll be the ones screwed over instead. At least that is how they probably see it.

the war in iraq is just one of the ways of looting the treasury. the entire military budget is another. lowering taxes to buy votes is another. medicare combined with the fda's protection of the safety of drug company profits is another. general corporate welfare is another.

Iraq's Oil Production has been negligible since Gulf War 1.0. Since GW 1.5 its production has increased to about 2/3rds of 1990 production.

Is there a difference?

Just as the Bush family has always found common cause with the Saud family and the bin Laden family, it is apparent that Cheney and his gang had a common interest with Islamic militants in 2001.

In the Weimar Republic, the Nazis and Communists coordinated their riots, because even though each intended to exterminate the other, they had to first discredit the middle of the political spectrum, the barely-functioning German democracy. It was just a matter of who could act fastest against the other once democracy fell. The right-wing usually wins these contests with superior organization and greater numbers of armed bully types (Spain, Indonesia, etc). Unfortunately, in our current war both sides are right-wing.

In 2001, the middle that needed to be destroyed was cultural modernism, with its attendant international law and the UN. While many American businessmen had allied with our fascists (as happened in Germany), there were still centers of economic power that wanted a peaceful world. Bin Laden similarly needed Westernizers fully discredited in the Arab world, not that this needed much to accomplish.

More succinctly, both sides needed secular civilization replaced by holy war. Unlike any holy war in the past, this one was covertly framed as a battle over whom God intended to control the one substance that powered the world economy.

According to Michael Scheuer (bin Laden expert and author of "Imperial Hubris"), bin Laden's short-term intention was not personal conquest, but inspiring ordinary Moslems to obey their obligation to defend each other from aliens. So he was fine with helping other groups carry out attacks even if he lacked central control. Now if such a man knew that one of the groups asking him for money to attack the US might have been infiltrated by the Mossad or CIA to carry out a Reichstag fire, would he hesitate, or would he be just as confident as Cheney that his movement could prevail in the resulting World War?

Unfortunately, in our current war both sides are right-wing.

You should have put this in italics.

I think that a clear understanding of 9/11 is essential to being a citizen in this country.

This film Press for Truth outlines the inconsistencies of the 9/11 Commission and the fight by the Jersey Girls and other victim's families for justice.


Its a shame we haven't invented nuclear energy yet.

That sure would have stopped us from running out of electricity for computers, phones, radio, lights and possibly fueled cars with batteries or hydrogen separated from water.

Maybe we could use the same technology that made the Nagasaki bomb into a peaceful power source.

I am going to run to Washington and file a patent.

You might have to run, if there are any shortages of transp fuels to drive with. But you won't be alone.. there will be all the runners on the highways carrying specialized parts and refined fuels to the Reactors, things which today travel by truck. I suspect Nuclear is too complex to survive without a robust Transportation base to support it.


Transportation shouldn't be a big problem if there's a rail spur built to the nuke plant. Then, a weekly train could carry most of what's needed to build the plant. Only a very few parts would be so large that special truck shipment would be required, I would guess.

E. Swanson

It depends on what you call a 'robust transportation base'
You don't need to have countless private cars on the streets for it to be robust enough, and either biofuels or fuel produced by the nuclear industry itself should provide enough.
In 3-4 years it should become clear for all to see that France has made excellent energy choices.

Andy Warhol would be proud of this piece of artwork.

India Bans Corn Exports to Control Domestic Prices

July 3 (Bloomberg) -- India, the world's sixth-biggest corn supplier, banned exports of the grain to boost domestic supplies and curb inflation that accelerated to a 13-year high. The ban, effective today, will be in force until Oct. 15, the directorate general of trade said on its Web site today.

Record raw-material prices have stoked inflation globally, prompting governments to take measures to safeguard supplies of food staples. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government has restricted exports of rice, wheat and cooking oils to ensure domestic supplies are adequate.

A future July headline?
Russia Bans Oil Exports to Control Domestic Prices

Russia, having fallen from the #2 oil exporter worldwide to the world's sixth-biggest oil exporter, banned oil exports to boost domestic supplies and curb inflation that accelerated to a 13-year high. The ban, effective today, will be in force until Oct. 15, the directorate general of trade said on its Web site today.

Record raw-material prices have stoked inflation globally, prompting governments to take measures to safeguard supplies of food and energy supplies. Russia's government has also restricted exports of wheat and cooking oils to ensure domestic supplies are adequate.

Note this is a what if scenario.

More of a "When" scenario than "what if", probably.

We might have a couple of years yet.

In order to ban grain exports, the US must declare a national emergency.

The Ozzie wheat crop will be key.

"The Ozzie wheatcrop will be the key".You would have to be joking.Have you ever travelled widely in Australia or researched the climate and soils?

Thirra, talking out yer arse based on assumptions is not very useful. Australia is a grain exporter. One of the biggest in th world. At least, they have been. Drought is playing hell with their grains production.


Drought is playing hell with their grains production.

And will continue to do so. The Murray-Darling river system is about to be Pronounced.

A leaked scientific report on the Murray-Darling Basin warns parts of the river system are "beyond the point of recovery" unless they get water by October.

The scientific panel presented the report to the Murray-Darling ministerial council in May, giving the politicians a deadline to act by October. But the ministers put the issue on the backburner until November, when they will meet to discuss the crisis.

Emphasis added.

Yes, but I don't think Sacramento really appreciates the importance of the issue. They're just trying to save face.

Sacramento is doomed, considered to have the highest flood risk of any major metropolitan city in the United States. Add bad air quality, heavy traffic congestion, galloping sprawl, record heat waves. Was enough for my wife and I to bail out - forgoing a state pension - and move to Oregon in 2006, just as the housing market was nosing over. Best decision we've ever made.

It probably won't make you feel any better, but I think you would never have gotten most of that California state pension anyway. Pensions may be the next domino.

My wife is partially vested in CALPERS, and we're keeping a close eye on it. If CALPERS tanks, then there will be big trouble.

We loved living in Sacramento, and it was very hard to leave. We lived downtown in an 1898 Victorian within walking distance of everything, had great friends and some family nearby. We had studied Heinberg, Kunstler, etc., and understood how the psychology of "prior investment" can be a huge barrier to action.

I'm thinking the same thing, only I live in Harrisburg, PA. This area of Pennsylvania is pretty much all sprawl, with very little in the way of public transportation. I've been wanting to move to Portland, Oregon for some time now, but I'm having trouble finding a job. I can't even seem to find work around here, and I'm just looking for a temp office job. I haven't decided if I'm going to sell my car and take the train cross-country, or drive myself. Staying in a coach seat, it would be much cheaper taking the train. OTOH, my car is paid off and only has 60,000 miles on it ('97 Nissan Maxima) and it would be nice to have a car out there.

I'm in Portland and I'm selling my car - too expensive to operate. It's possible to do without one here.

Two years from now, in 2010, a large percentage of interstate travel, shipping and air carrier service will cease to function. I will explain that in a minute. The exact percentage is unknown, but I would think it is over 50 percent. Also, a massive failure of the banking system of the United States will put most business in dire jeopardy. Furthermore, without interstate trucking there will be sporadic food shipments in the United States. In short, 2010 is the year that the US ceases to function as a nation and splinters into dozens of isolated regions without energy or food or work. The outcome is rioting, looting, murder and fear of everything. The local, state and federal governments will be helpless because they cannot respond to the scene or enforcement is overwhelmed.

I'd say this viewpoint is a bit far-fetched. Flights may become rare, but interstate travel won't dry up. Long haul truck routes may be transferred to rail, but regional trucking is still vital.
Remote towns will dry up. Ride sharing will become more common. We still have a stunning amount of waste that can be wrung out of the system. In my household, we've moved to a smaller house, bought MUCH more fuel efficient cars, and now consume about half the energy we did 2 years ago. Among all my friends, I'm leading this trend. Very few I know have taken these kinds of steps. I can cut another 50% without a radical change in lifestyle.
I'm going to put a clothesline, I'm riding a bicycle more, and am consolidating the car trips that I do make. I also am planning on a solar thermal collector for hot water.
If the nation really gives conservation an honest effort instead of having it be a talking point, I think a lot of people would be amazed at the result.

The Ouija board is never wrong-Gemini's moon is in Aquarius.

hey,, i own a ouija board.... anybody else? com'on raise yer hands..

holy macarel , better ixnay on the uijaoay oardbay eferenceray.

Hi Damac,

If we could have a nationwide concerted effort, you are right, we could have amazing results. Unfortunately, my neighbor will still want to haul his boat which I think of as a party barge to the lake every weekend, and sometimes twice a weekend, using up what you and I are conserving. He can afford to, so he does what he can. Until someone other than me gets him to change, he will keep it up. I've tried talking and charts and everything I know of, but I can't get through to him how negative an impact his actions are. And, I guess he has a point - he has a lot of other folks at the lake(s) with him.

Incidentally, if you want to get more attention, don't call that a clothesline - it is a hybrid clothes dryer. Solar and wind. I haven't used a clothes dryer in years except for long wet spells, and even then, I have a rack which will hold a small load in the kitchen to keep the "essential" laundry dry.


But you will never convince your neighbor or me the benefit of not using a boat/motorhome so that another Chinese driver can hit the road in a brand new Chery.

Trust me on this, the quicker we run out, the better.

I have solar panels on my roof, a Prius in my driveway, and 63 feet of diesel motorhome towing dodge sprinter at 5mpg. I spent a quarter million on the toys, and quite frankly, a dollar a mile isn't a material cost of ownership.

I also try to ride my bike to work, but there are too many cars driving too fast.

Everyone get a Hummer and let's be done with it already.

"Trust me on this, the quicker we run out, the better."

Pretty gutsy comment. Ever see a junkie go cold turkey? Got bullets? You're will need them to keep any toys.

This must be why so many of our ancestors adopted a nomadic lifestyle. Now the challenge is, how much gas will this guy have to store in his motorhome as he moves it from one secluded spot to another every few days? He might need to get with some other RVers and form a horde.

I'm surprised that after 15 months of posting people still don't get my point.

I don't really care about the motorhome. I would far prefer to bike down car-free streets 52 weeks a year to using the motorhome three weeks a year. That said, I have the motorhome so I use it and don't see a moral issue in that fact.

So here is my point one more time. This is an educational site with presumably smart people with both same and differing opinions. If I wanted a lecture I would call my Mom. I get it that Peak Oil is a probability in my lifetime, perhaps happening as we speak, and that the consequences of this event will be worse for those who can't or won't get it. So what? I don't look good in a robe so becoming a Monk is out of the question.

Now I'd be happy to be lectured by any of the following classes of people:

Those who don't own cars.
Those who do have one or more functional bicycles.
Those who have used said bicycles in the last 96 hours.
Those who haven't flown on a plane since 9/11.
Anyone who's contemplated a B.O.-free bus.
Those who donate 10% of their income to charity. The food banks are getting hammered.
Everyone who turns their computers off when they are done with them.
Anyone who knows that "Paper or Plastic" are NOT the only two choices.

The rest of you hypocrites can kiss my motorhome's diesel belching tailpipe. My BTU usage is way down over the last few years. Is yours?

"The Internet - Combining the reliability of anonymous hearsay with the excitement of typing! (Jon Stewart)"

That's funny - I don't come here to be lectured but because I enjoy the discussions. And I do fit in several of your "classes" of people. What makes you think others here don't? If you've been here for 15 months just to make that point then I'm glad you finally got that load off your shoulders.

"Everyone who turns their computers off when they are done with them."

I not only turn off mine, but I have finally convinced the hospital to not only turn off computers, but lights. They are thinking cogeneration, even.
However, it takes me 5 gallons of gas to go there and back, so no lectures.


jteehand writes:

Now I'd be happy to be lectured by any of the following classes of people:

Those who do have one or more functional bicycles.
Those who have used said bicycles in the last 96 hours.
Anyone who's contemplated a B.O.-free bus.
Anyone who knows that "Paper or Plastic" are NOT the only two choices.

I qualify for these. However I agree with you and perhaps Jay Hanson. Use it up as fast as possible. That gets everyone on the same page faster. That's what I see happening anyway. I just don't want to see our children dying for oil. That to seems unavoidable unless the sleep walkers awake.

Point taken.

He who is without sin throw the first rock, and all that stuff.

(Sorry if I mangled the line; I grew up Catholic but never studied the Bible.)

Well, I drive about 3 miles a week in a Ford Focus and my house is usually about 85 degrees. I don't know anything else that can actually save me money. And you are wrong to say I was lecturing you. I think you really will have to stockpile fuel and move your RV from one hiding place to another one day. I'm not saying it's better or worse than the things the rest of us will be doing by then.

Please, this is bullshoot. This is no more higher reasoning than, "I will if you will." There comes a point where basic morality comes into play. When our actions harm others, we are not free to act without consideration. Is this a better of two evils situation? No. Or, is it a case of using resources to protect you and your own a a point where it is recognized that all is lost? No. This is just hedonism and disregard for the rest of humanity and yourself. You have choices YOU can make regardless of what any other person does or doe not do. Tying your actions that you *know* to be wrong to what anyone else does is utterly without morality.

It also does not matter at all whether someone else is a hypocrite. The morality of the acts stand independent of anything else. If you can act to improve the chances of survival of yourself and your fellow humans, what moral stance makes it acceptable not to?

Now, if your values do not lie within the bounds of what is best for humanity - that is, you are essentially anti-social - so be it. But that is different from sloppy justification of your actions.


The imperfect, sometimes hypocritical, kick in your moral compass.

I don't want it dragged out either. Otherwise, I have no advantage in being better prepared than the sheeple.

I can't hoard a lifetimes worth of commodities [maybe if I was single + a big secure house..], so I want it to be revolution underway before my wine cellar/cous-cous stash runs down.

Personally, I'd rather have it dragged out. Gives time to adjust to changing circumstances. If it went the "super fast" crash method, I don't have enough bullets. I think everything would be burned by rioters and there would be nothing left.


Didn't mean to lecture you, only point out the folies of such a BIG target. "mea culpa". The RV would be quite attractive in such a scenario if you can get out of the cities before the riots start, otherwise I would want a gun turrent on top. I've heard the line "if it moves, steal it otherwise burn it" somewhere.

My daughter lives in a wheelchair. The motorhome has a wheelchair lift as does the Sprinter. It's quite impressive! That's the only reason I have it. We stayed home for 6 straight years until we got it because contrary to what the ADA says, the US does not accomodate us.

But I understand it's just a piece of crap like most of my other posessions and I really don't care if someone burns it down or not.

I'm just one guy doing the best I can as you are too I'm sure.

Really, what AM I supposed to do? What are any of us supposed to do? Are you absolutely sure the end of driving is near? To the point where you'll quit your job and abandon everything else?

I'm not that sure. It still seems a bit grey to me. So I hedge with the PV and the Prius, telecommuting, and a lot of bike riding. That's a lot more than the Bubbas who live around me are doing, but it's my limit until we get to the next leg.

I know you weren't lecturing me. I was just taking the opportunity to remind my fellow TOD citizens not to pat ourselves on the back too quickly. I don't like the idea of us going from ignorance to moral superiority in 24 months or so. It's unbecoming, as my mother would say.

"Really, what AM I supposed to do? What are any of us supposed to do?"

Well, Golden Rule says "love your neighbor as yourself" -- but not more than yourself. The way I figure it, reductio ad absurdum, I could give everything I own to the poor, but it would make me unhappy. At some point, looking at some extravagance or other (whether Prius or restaurant meal), you may as well thing to yourself, "I could spend this money on me, or save the life of someone I don't care about [think the "starving child in Africa" commercials]. And then choose yourself. So you skimp on luxuries to the limits of your own tolerances, whatever those limits are. Maybe you need your luxuries.

Hey, I might rather your daughter have some fun in your motor home than keep some African jerk alive (just because they're sick doesn't mean they're all nice people either).

Maybe you give up one cross country trip, maybe you give up one restaurant meal. You do what you personally feel you can. There might be conscience involved, but I wouldn't be the one to guilt-trip you.

Personally, I just bought a case of beer. That $30 could have meant a lot to some generic unfortunate I don't actually care about. But I need my beer. They'll just have to make do on the percent I donate every year.

JT - I have seen the talk before about how it is better if we run out faster, and it completely baffles me. Since this board is way too overloaded right now, can you direct me to the links which show why increased human suffering, incurred faster, is of any benefit to the world? I can see the advantage if you are in the solar energy business, but not if you are already below a subsistence level in caloric intake, which generally means from a nutritional standpoint as well. Suffer faster, suffer longer, maybe?

I mean, I don't have a compound and all, but I think I have pretty well started adapting to a quick demise of our systems right now. Nobody is going to dig up Einstein and get him to change the laws of Thermodynamics, so why run out now, versus a decline which may be fast or slow, but in any case, less of a cliff and more of a curve?

Unfortunately, my neighbor will still want to haul his boat which I think of as a party barge to the lake every weekend, and sometimes twice a weekend, using up what you and I are conserving.

if he's always been an energy guzzler than between the 3 of you you still are using less energy. more than likely it's someone in the developing world that's using "our" energy.

Hey damac, see my post downthread.
Also when faced with saving money, gas and the environment, many would rather save their time.
Apparently its too inconvenient to be concerned about the others.

I hear that. I'm a network admin by trade. I just picked up a few clients 2 miles away. I rode my bicycle there yesterday for the first time. It took 15 minutes (a couple of big hills in the way). So, round trip, at my billing rate, that time could have filled the tank of my Prius. In my case, as well, my time is worth a LOT more than the fuel it takes to get there.

But, I'll keep riding anyway.
1. It's the right thing to do.
2. If my life is so dependent upon squeaking out an extra 15-20 minutes of my day, something is VERY wrong.
3. I need to lose 20 pounds. :-/

Ultimately, I'm working on doing as much remote access as possible. My commute will consist of walking from the bedroom down the hall to my office. I'll have to lose the 20 on my own time.

You obviously meet the qualifications to criticize me.

Keep up the good work and you'll be well past Peak Fat in no time.

In my household, we've moved to a smaller house, bought MUCH more fuel efficient cars, and now consume about half the energy we did 2 years ago.

and have your life changed for the worse for consuming less energy? no! in fact your sound happier and you probably have more money. lots of people can do that and peak oil doesn't have to be a disaster.

I'm going to put a clothesline

probably the simplest way to save energy. using energy is more of a choice than we think.

I also am planning on a solar thermal collector for hot water.

good use of energy that is mostly wasted. think of all the energy that falls on our properties that we don't use. how many solar hot water heaters could fit on the average suburban lot? how many panels could we fit on the roof. most roofs are just sitting there doing nothing. how many yards could use the sun to grow food instead of grass you just need to use gasoline to mow every week or so?

Solar thermal collectors are something that should get more attention. Here's the best around:


These are rather amazing. They have a "solar diode" which will heat water even in low sunlight and cold ambient temps. You can also use them for room heating, even in below-freezing temperatures.

I have a 20 gallon electric water heater. This is a small unit, barely enough for two very quick showers. 50% of the US uses electric water heaters, probably a 40-60 gal unit on average. Even with my low use, I figure I spend about $400 per year on electricity for heating water. It is probably half my total electricity usage. At a discount rate of (a relatively stiff) 10%, that's a $4,000 budget you could justify on financial grounds alone. At a 5% discount rate, you could justify $8,000. Those discount rates don't take into account likely higher prices for electricity going forward. Plus, I bet you could get all sorts of subsidies, tax exemptions etc. This is a solar product after all.

Even for water heaters fired with gas or oil, this is a way to liberate yourself from gas or oil completely.

Unfortunately, I'm in a rental, so that dissuades me from swapping out the electric heater right away. However, if I did, I could cut my electric usage in half right there. That's interesting.

Hi Econoguy,

If your hot water needs are relatively modest -- e.g., 20 gallons/day -- it may not be quite as bad as you think. If your average cold water inlet temperature is 50F and your tank is set at 120F, your DHW demand is a little less than 3.5 kW/day (i.e. 20 gallons x 8.33 lbs/gallon x 70F delta = 11,662 BTUs or 3.42 kWh/day). The standby losses of a 20-gallon tank are likely to be in the range of 40-watts and that would bring your total to about 4.4 kWh/day; that's 1,612 kWh per year and if you pay $0.15 per kWh, say, your costs are $242.00. You can play with the numbers to better reflect your own usage patterns, cost per kWh, etc., but hopefully you'll be pleasantly surprised by the results.

As one point of reference, our low-flow showerhead has a flow rate of approximately 2.7 litres per minute (at its normal setting, it takes about 45 seconds to fill a two-litre ice cream container), so a 5-minute shower totals 13.5 litres, with the split between hot and cold water being roughly 90/10. I purge about 5 litres of water that has cooled sitting in the line, so I'm estimating a single 5-minute shower consumes about 17 litres of hot water and two back-to-back showers some 30 litres in total. Inlet temperatures vary by season, but I'm guessing an average temperature rise of 40C, so two daily showers represents about 1.4 kWh in demand (~ 510 kWh/year).


I figured on 40 gals per day. That is below typical US household use of about 60-70 gals per day. I have a low-flow showerhead, but it was so miserable in winter that we went back to the normal-flow one. Maybe I should try it again in warm weather. To use a low-flow showerhead in winter, it is important to have a toasty warm room or at least a toasty warm small enclosed shower. Plus, there is use for the kitchen, laundry etc. Lastly, my electricity price went up from about $0.145 to $0.17 recently, and it will likely head higher from there. That's where I got the $400/year estimate from.

By the way, I forgot to include depreciation in my capitalization estimate.

Hi econguy,

Thanks for the added info. I believe the DOE estimate is 62 gallons/235 litres a day and, frankly, this number amazes me because our two-person household uses an average of 75 litres a day for everything, including toilet flushing (i.e., 14 m3 over 188 days = 74.5 litres/day). I'm guessing our hot water consumption is roughly half that and it would be even less if I washed our clothes in cold water. There may be some potential to trim your hot water demand and these savings, in turn, could be applied to your space heating requirements; with room temperatures at 20F or below, I take it a little additional warmth would be welcome. :-)


and have your life changed for the worse for consuming less energy? no! in fact your sound happier and you probably have more money. lots of people can do that and peak oil doesn't have to be a disaster.

This is long-ish, personal, and kinda ranty. But, it was all inspired in part by my personal realizations of Peak Oil. Some of the consequences are unintended, but quite nice, indeed.

In a million years, I never would have dreamed that leaving my old house would make me happier.

I bought it in '98, and spent the next two years restoring it. (it was a real dump) I was lucky in the fact that a whole bunch of $1M+ houses went in on my road. I met my to-be wife and she and her kids moved in. After a couple of expansions, we looked at each other and realized we'd one too much. Even though it was beautiful, and everyone oohed and ahhed at it, the place was a LOT of work. Cleaning, mowing, painting, fixing, etc. It was also a bunch to heat, cool, pay taxes on, etc. Also, at that point, I was a real gearhead. Four cars and five motorcycles. THAT was a lot to keep up with, too.

I was a slave to stuff.

So, after some soul searching, the desire for a simpler, more sustainable life, and the dawning of the awareness of PO, The Change happened.

I pared it back to one car and one bike. The Explorer and Audi went away and were replaced by a Scion xB and a Prius. The house went on the market. Friends and family thought I was certifiable. Who on Earth goes down market>!? (waves hand, "Hello!")

We found our new place. It was only about a mile away. Much closer to the middle of town. Half the size, a quarter the land. Close to a bus stop. A nice roof with a perfect southern exposure. We took a real leap of faith and bought it before selling the old place. (This was just before the mortgage market tanked last summer.) We held two mortgages for 7 months. We got stretched really thin, and I'd thought we were financially ruined. Finally, we got a contract on the old place, only 7% off asking price. The buyers, a childless couple were downsizing from their 5K square foot place. (!)

Now the possessions had to be gone through. Only half of it would make the cut. This was hard. I was a real pack rat. Not one of those loony hoarders, but I hate throwing away stuff that's still useful. Goodwill, needy friends, Craigslist, garage sale - it was going out the door. I buried myself in work I needed to get done on the new place. I left my wife in charge of making the stuff go away. We'd had some really good, door slamming arguments over the whole process. I kept telling myself "I'm not making a mistake."

Settlement arrived, and the plan was falling into place. Eight signatures later, I was off the treadmill. I'd paid off my old mortgage, and the one on the new place, too. Debt free at 38.

(OK, maybe not quite. We ran up a modest balance on a credit card while carrying the two mortgages. So, let's say debt free 3 months from now.)

Damn, that felt good. Not as impressive, but all mine.

We moved. Things didn't fit where we'd thought it might, so we spent a month shuffling things around. We're settling in now.

I can say, with a hand on a stack of Bibles, downsizing was the best thing I've ever done. Expenses have fallen off a cliff. Stress is way down. I don't miss my stuff. Hell, I can't even picture it, anymore. I don't have to work nearly as hard- for money, on the house, supporting the house of cards, showing off.

I've given myself the gift of time. If you're thinking about scaling back, or going 'down market', don't be afraid. It's tremendously liberating. You may not have the luck I did, but to me, it's well worth it.

Even if another 3 Ghawars are discovered tomorrow and the price of oil plummets, I have no regrets.

I know how this all feels. I moved in with my fiancee last year, and we recently sold my house. The proceeds will be almost enough to pay off her mortgage. I have no car payment - she made her last car payment a few weeks ago (both VW diesels that get good fuel economy). No credit card debt between the two of us.

I too had a lot of stuff to throw out. Goodwill, Craigslist, or trash were the general options, plus I sold a bunch of old furniture to the guy I hired to do some painting. After I moved in, my fiancee started to get rid of stuff too (mainly to make room for the stuff that I was keeping).

I still have some more stuff to get rid of, however.

If I weren't out of town visiting family, I would go out for a bike ride to celebrate!

Reminds me of the George Carlin bit on "STUFF".

Also this quote:

"Man must choose whether to be rich in things or the freedom to use them." - Ivan Illich.

You hit the nail on the head there. Home energy production has little or no opportunity cost as in most cases the roof / wall is doing nothing. Likewise utlising garden space to grow fruit and veg has little or no OC.

In contrast growing biofuels have big OC's as we are all too aware.

Best hopes for water harvesting, home energy and food production.

That's one hell of a big "if"...

Those were the days - up to a few days ago, actually - when the fateful words "war" and "oil" would never have been aligned in the same sentence anywhere in US corporate media; the days when former defense secretary and Pentagon supremo Donald Rumsfeld insisted Iraq had "literally nothing to do with oil".

But now the US and European Big Oil majors that controlled the Iraqi oil industry up to the 1972 nationalization - today represented by Exxon Mobil, Shell, BP, Total and Chevron - seem to be back with a vengeance. Thus the New York Times, for instance, can redeem itself from printing Ahmad Chalabi-fed weapons-of-mass-destruction nonsense on its front page for months and actually engage in news that's fit to print.

Pepe Escobar, Big Oil's Secret Out of Iraq's Closet

Be still my beating heart.

Hold on to your hats boys and girls. The startling revelations are coming fast and furious.

And this on QUAD YERGIN Day. Truly this is the end of the world as we know it!

Truly this is the end of the world as we know it

But I'm feeling fine! (sorry, it had to be said) :-P

CNBC just reported some discussions of some US refiners shutting down operations because of very weak refining margins, which is something I have been expecting. With the possible exception of heavy/sour capable refineries, our problem is not too little refining capacity, but too much. Basically, I think that we are beginning to be outbid for crude oil cargoes.

Yes, I heard that. They they were talking about the crack spread. They said refineries were losing money on gasoline so they might just shut down. It makes no sense to make a product that you are losing money on.

This is caused by the high demand for diesel. To get enough diesel they must make more gasoline than they need. They get a shortage of diesel and a glut of gasoline, driving gasoline prices lower and diesel higher. As a result they are losing money on gasoline and only making a little on diesel.

They have been talking about this for days on CNBC. That is, the dramatic shortage of the "middle of the barrel products" such as diesel, kerosene and other middle of the barrel products.

Ron Patterson

Which is also going to cause even more consolidation in the airline industry (kerosene prices etc..):



The estimates job cut requirement for this year was already calculated at 22 000 people (US airline industry). That was with the price of oil at $120/barrel.

Things have changed since. It's going to be really ugly 2008/2009 for US aviation especially.

So, with a glut in one area, the rest of the fuel market suffers.

I wish you guys in the west would drive your SUVs again, so they don't stop making my heating oil.

westexas and Ron,

From what you understand about refining capacities and international oil bidding, is the US likely to face petroleum shortages (middle barrel products, etc.) in the near future?

I'm aware there are many variables at work - no one has a crystal ball. I'm asking for your best reasoned opinions. Thanks.

No shortages per se, as long as market forces are allowed to work, but lots of forced energy conservation.

Can someone explain to me again in layman terms why refineries are losing money? What exactly is the crack spread. I ahve definitions here in front of me, but I'm not connecting the dots quite right I think.

This is an important question for all the other lay-people out there who are pissed at the oil companies for gouging them at the pump even though the oil companies don't necessarily have anything to do with it.

($1.50 at the pump here in BC in places today... $0.02 fuel Carbon Tax took effect July 1, some places went down, some places went up... in all, price effect was nil)

Let's assume that because of declining net oil exports, refiners have to bid the price of crude oil up, and let's assume that it follows a geometric progression: $50, $100, $200, $400, etc. Then, let's assume that the minimum wholesale price per gallon that refiners can charge, and still stay in business, shows a similar geometric progression: $2, $4, $8, $16, etc.

At each doubling in the price of refined product, what happens to the volume of refined product that consumers in a given market can and will buy? It would presumably go down. Assuming minimal product exports, this would result in refineries curtailing their refinery runs, which we are seeing, and it would ultimately result in some refineries shutting down.

Now a possible wrinkle in this is the question of exported petroleum products, i.e., US consumers may not be able to buy all of the refined product, but others might, especially in oil exporting countries. However, it would be more efficient for the exporters to just refine the stuff at home, which we are increasingly seeing.

Wasn't sure where in this thread to put this question... A VLCC gets loaded with oil in the Middle East, Africa, etc. It then plows across the big pond and unloads on the east coast (USA) or in Houston maybe. Does it generally go back empty (only ballast water) or does a lot of gasoline get shipped back? It seems several of the major exporters have refinery bottlenecks, wouldn't that be a place to unload all the extra gasoline? It seems the shipping should be discounted vs going back empty.

The gasoline is going in the other direction. The rest of the world uses proportionately more diesel than the US. That means they have more gasoline than they need. Because the US uses more gasoline proportionately, it means we don't have enough gasoline after we've made enough diesel for domestic domand. The rest of the world sells us their "excess" gasoline, presumably at a discount. Since refiners lose money on gasoline (or at least don't make much), it pays for them to import it.

If we had excess diesel, the world would probably take it. But the EIA reports don't show much going out, while they show a lot of oil & gasoline coming in.

Here is a very good article I obtained from someone here on TOD re: Crack Spreads:


The crack spread is the difference between the price of oil and the price of refined products. When the crack spread gets too low, refineries lose money refining oil. You can get an update on the crack spread at http://zmansenergybrain.com/. Just scan down to a chart of the "Weekly Stat Wrap" and look for the entry titled "3-2-1 Crack."

Here is a 2008 Merrill Lynch analysis that explains the diesel shortage and refinery dilemna well: http://cfcr.ml.com/GetDoc.aspx?e=96GFIIQ37YRpmuDyDABTCKh0FYQdMVM60nzs%2f...

Here is a decent explanation of how much diesel you can get from a barrel of crude: http://www.cheaperpetrolparty.com/Oil_Price.php (Note the differences for different types of refineries.)

Here's another good explanation of the problem caused by simultaneous diesel shortages and shortages of light sweet crude: http://www.bi-me.com/main.php?id=19968&t=1&c=33&cg=4


Crack Spread is basically the margin that the refineries get. If the refinery buys a barrel at $150 and sell the end products from that barrel of oil (gasoline, propane, heating oil, tar, etc) for a total of $160, they have a $10 spread. If, on the other hand, they buy the oil for $150 and can only get $140 for the refined end products, then its a -$10 spread and they'll go belly up really quick.

An analogy I can make is if McDonalds buys lettuce, tomatoes, catsup, oinions, buns and a beef patty for a burger, and the total cost of all of these is $1. Then, they sell the burger for $1.50. They have a margin of $.50... That's the same idea as crack spread to refineries.

The refineries are losing money because it costs more to buy oil than what they are getting paid for the end products (Gas, heating oil, diesel, tar, etc.)

This is an important question for all the other lay-people out there who are pissed at the oil companies for gouging them at the pump even though the oil companies don't necessarily have anything to do with it.

BINGO! It's supply and demand. If there's not enough supply, the price will go up. The supply is set by geology and to some extent the producing countires/oil field owners. Since we can't change geology (i.e. move to Titan), and it's socially unacceptable (mostly) to 'steal' other's fields, we're stuck with what we have. And as for demand... That's going through the roof. Double whammy.

Hope this helps...

And a quote from Mr. Yergin...

"I think the producers, for the most part, don't want to see prices skyrocket because that will only create problems for them down the road and would also be a, you know, would be a very serious shock for a world economy that can't afford serious shocks right now." -Daniel Yergin

OK. I think GeckoLizard wins for best explanation, but thanks to everyone for all the info! That clears it up a lot for me.

Is it safe to say, then, that if the crack spread does not grow, ie... if refined products like petrol, diesel and the rest do not rise *faster* in price along with crude, then we will see refiners start to shut down.

It's very much analogous to the problem that the airlines have. If they can't make a profit in a given market (because of the rising cost of jet fuel versus the demand for tickets at a price that will pay for the fuel), they are going to curtail flights in that market, which they are doing.

So, we have a smaller number of consumers paying a higher unit price for a smaller volume of both refined petroleum product and airline tickets.

Since a variety of refined products come from a barrel of crude is there some threshhold where some of the crack spreads on the refined products go "negative" or is it an aggregate bottom line thing?

I mean, theoretcially, I think you coudl take a loss on refined gasoline if you were overall making money on some if not most of the rest of the products?


While you're on the topic of airlines, I came across this rather interesting article written in Oct 2005 on the precarious situation that airlines would find themselves in soon.


Some excerpts

"Interestingly, very few people know that world oil production is nearing its all-time peak, and today’s $60 barrel may seem like a bargain a few years from now".

"The traditional view of economists that the ever-insightful market will solve all problems is a fallacy. The supreme goal in all countries to raise incomes, living standards, and the GDP as much as possible, constantly and without any notion of a limit, is unattainable. On current trends, a country like China will be requiring 99 million barrels of oil per day by 2031, while total world production today is only 84 million barrels".

BTW, the airline industry in India which was growing at rates of 35-40% in the last few years is in danger of going belly up.


Meanwhile companies that entered the airport business on projecting these fantastic numbers into the future are now finding the going tough.


Srivathsa (from India)

I think the simplest explanation for a layman is simply that a refinery is a factory. It buys raw materials (crude oil) and manufactures and sells products (diesel and gasoline). No matter how much you get for your products, you can still go broke if your raw materials cost too much. Refineries have been unable to pass along enough of their increased costs to their consumers, so they are facing hard times like many other businesses.

The impact of a small or negative spread is lesser for a integrated company that both produces and refines oil. It has been suggested here on TOD that when BP or similar companies lose money on refining operations, this makes the large revenue on the production side a bit smaller, shielding them (somewhat) from additional cries for a windfall tax.

Smaller refineries that do not have "in house" sources of oil are likely to either shut down or sell to the integrated companies. In the long run, consolidation and reduced competition may not be a great thing.

wisco -

You've touched upon something which I don't think gets enough consideration in these discussions about prices, profits, profitability, etc.

As I understand it, most of these large integrated oil companies are organized along the lines of divisions or subsidiaries that operate as quasi-independent profit centers. If for example, Exxon's production division extracts oil from one of its fields for a total cost of$30/bbl and then 'sells' that oil to its refining and marketing division for a price of $140/bbl, then gross revenues of $110 goes to the production division.

If the refining division can maintain a crack spread of $25/bbl, then $25/bbl goes to the refining division.

In the above example Exxon may cry that it isn't making much money refining crude oil, which though technically true, conveniently ignores the fact that some of the oil which their refining division uses is not the $140/bbl market price oil, but rather $30/bbl oil coming from its own wells.

Now, the counter argument no doubt goes like this: Exxon's production division has a responsibility to get the highest price for its oil. It can do this by selling it on the open market or by making it's refining division buy it at or near the market price. But this is really six of one or a half dozen of the other. Exxon could just as easily have the production division 'give' the oil to the refining division, in which case the refining division would be enormously profitable but the production division would be doing poorly. In either case the total corporate revenues would be the same.

However, I think my general point is still valid: not all the oil that is refined by an integrated oil company is oil that cost the company anywhere near the going market price.

A corollary to a low refining margin/crack spread is that less refined product would likely be produced, if its less profitable. This would increase the price of refined product compared to crude, thus restoring the crack spread. The increase in gasoline pump prices has not kept pace with the increase in crude prices and some of this slack was taken up by the decrease in refining margins, this slack is now gone. Yet another piece of good news.

The situation is more or less the same with ethanol which many think is a debacle because of the high price of corn. "Debacle" does not seem to apply to oil refining for some reason although the situations are very similar. There is an energy loss in oil refining just as their is in ethanol production. Someone has posted that it is 20 percent of the energy in crude oil.

The publicly and some privately owned ethanol producers are similar to the oil refiners who do not have an in house oil supply and must purchase oil for refining. They may have a more difficult time surviving unless they are very clever at hedging their corn needs and ethanol sales.

Ethanol producers which are co-ops have a de facto in house supply of corn in that farmers that own the ethanol plants have in many cases agreed to sell a fixed amount of corn to the plant. These ethanol producers can stand a lot of red ink since the farmers who own them are making a gain on the corn they sell to the plant that offsets losses incurred in ethanol refining.

Geckolizard writes:

Crack Spread is basically the margin that the refineries get. If the refinery buys a barrel at $150 and sell the end products from that barrel of oil (gasoline, propane, heating oil, tar, etc) for a total of $160, they have a $10 spread. If, on the other hand, they buy the oil for $150 and can only get $140 for the refined end products, then its a -$10 spread and they'll go belly up really quick.

I was wondering why gasoline prices in the deep south (Florida and Georgia) were stuck at $4.00. With the talk of supply shortages for the gulf our prices here seem too low. Maybe with the reduction in refinery production caused by the crack spread we'll see higher prices in Atlanta.

Most of us in other business environments would probably use the term "gross margin" to describe that.

Chris, the crack spread is basically the difference in crude oil and the products refined from crude oil. That is, difference between crude oil and products "cracked" from crude oil. (Although simple refining does not require cracking, but that is another story.)

If crude oil futures are going for a given price, then gasoline and heating oil futures should be priced at a given point above that in order to give refineries a decent profit. Futures traders watch this spread and when it is too low or narrow, they will sell oil futures and buy gasoline and heating oil futures. If it is too wide or high they will do the opposite. Lately however crack spread traders have been burned. The crack spread was way too narrow and traders expected it to widen, it did not, it just got narrower. Well, at least the gasoline half got narrower, heating oil futures have have preformed somewhat better.

The problem is diesel. There are no diesel futures. There is a shortage of refined diesel fuel. The reason is that there are only so many gallons of diesel in a barrel of oil. And when you refine enough crude oil to supply the needed diesel, you wind up with too much gasoline. And they must mark the gasoline lower to get of that excess gasoline, driving down profit.

You must understand market forces here. If they price gasoline higher, in order to make a profit, they wind up with a glut of gasoline, driving down prices. If they refine less, the diesel shortage becomes even more acute. So what to do? If they shut down, they are just saying "screw it, we are not going to lose money just to keep the trucks running". What to do, what to do????

Ron Patterson

The problem is diesel. There are no diesel futures. There is a shortage of refined diesel fuel.

Perilous news for truckers. Think I'll go to the grocery store to stock up the root cellar. Who's up for hoarding?

Thanks Ron for your insights, too.

At PeakOil.com, someone who works as a grocery stocker was talking about this. He thinks people are hoarding. They can't keep canned stuff like Spam, gravy, and tuna on the shelves. Some of it might be the bad economy (fresh foods like steaks, that usually sell well at this time of year, aren't selling). But he says some people are hoarding. One customer of his buys seven cans each of Spam, tuna, and catfood every week. The Spam for himself, the catfood for his cat, the tuna for both of them. He's building an emergency store. Not necessarily because he thinks the shelves will go bare, but in case he doesn't have money to buy food for some reason. He's putting his money in canned goods, rather than in the bank.

Leanan, the story makes one wonder. I think the Peak.Oil grocery clerk may be right by noting changing behaviours. Hoarding is, after all, a survival instinct. Trouble is, those who get there first will have an advantage over late comers.

Really who can blame people? Particularly, the disadvantaged.

In my part of the world, food banks began in the 1980s as a temporary relief measure. They've continued ever since and are now part of the accepted social safety net. Meanwhile, the 1990s were viewed as prosperous times. Only problem now, demand is going up, and to no one's real surprise, supplies are going down. Even our communities cannot hoard enough.

As the Depression era songster sang so eloquently: "Happy days are here again."

My wife does that yearly during the hurricane season.

Takes us most of the offseason to get through all the "hoarded" peanut butter.


Spam. I can't help but recall the Spam Haiku's in this context:

Grotesque pinkish mass
In a blue can on a shelf
Quivering alone

Ah, the old spam haiku!


I was responsible for #s 9992 and 9993:



Its not hoarding, its a smart investment!

With the bleak market, low interest savings rates and rising inflation there is no good place to put your money!

Food is going up in price right? Buying food now and locking in a lower price will provide a better return on investment than about anything else.

"Its not hoarding, its a smart investment!

With the bleak market, low interest savings rates and rising inflation there is no good place to put your money!

Food is going up in price right? Buying food now and locking in a lower price will provide a better return on investment than about anything else."

+1 Very good investment at 20% inflation even if its a "survivalist" strategy.

"Buying food now and locking in a lower price will provide a better return on investment than about anything else."

calling food an investment is a stretch. the only way i can imagine to invest in food is to buy land.

on the other hand, i dont know what to invest in. resourse plays dont seem to be performing up to their potential. the best i can come up with is diversification.

I agree, just not very flashy.
Consider that your "profits" (savings actually) are not taxed it looks even better.
Buying ahead on all consumable items make entirely too much sense. Tires, TP, PT, soaps, clothes, motor oil, etc. etc.
I stock @ 10 cases of Chevron Delo 400 motor oil(diesel use) mark the price to $35.00, $38.00, $45.00, $56.00. My "savings" are not taxed.
You won't get rich but hey its better than the market right now.

He's putting his money in canned goods, rather than in the bank.

Reminds me of a quote from attributed to the Mogumbo Guru

Gold is for Optimists, I'm Diversifying into Can Goods

I encourage people to build up their pantry. The more people who are ready for the inevitable run on the supermarket shelves the better. This is especially true because no area of the country is immune from natural disasters. (To see a map of the counties and their natural disaster frequency, see http://www.postpeakliving.com/guide-to-post-peak-living/disaster-prepara...)

Here is a note I wrote on my Costco fieldtrip:

May, 2008

I went to Costco to assess how quickly they would run out of food if people quickly started to stock their pantries. I spoke to the supervisor and assessed 17 different items. Most of them were food but I also looked at rechargeable batteries.

Here is what I found for pasta.

Garofalo pasta in 6x500g packs are packaged 8 to a carton and sells for $7.29 a pack.

A skid has 6 cartons and is 3 layers high, which means there are 18 cartons.

A skid of pasta thus holds:

18 x 8 = 144 packs (of 6x500g)

Assuming that Costco rations pasta like they are currently doing for rice, some number of families less than 144 will empty the skid.

If the limit is 2 packs per person, the skid can provide enough pasta for 72 families. Given the traffic Costco has, this could be accomplished within hours of opening.

The supervisor said that they keep "one skid, sometimes a bit more, on the steel." By "steel," he was referring to the shelving above the ground floor. They do not have stock elsewhere in the warehouse; all their stock is on that shelving. I asked why there isn't rice other than Uncle Ben's (normally they have Basmati or Sushi rice), and his response was that they can't keep it in stock. It sells out the same day they put it out.

Our disaster prep officials tell me the Bay Area has approximately 3 1/2 days of food in it.


If the problem is diesel, then putting all of our biofuel eggs in the ethanol basket instead of the biodiesel basket was really, really stupid.

To err is human, but to really screw things up you need a federal government program.

With the surplus of sour crude and this sort of demand for diesel, why isn't there more of a rush to build appropriate refineries (like the one in Indonesia discussed recently on DB)?

RE crack spread

An additional twist driving down the crack spread is the fact that Europe uses proportionally more diesel and thus has extra gasoline that it ships to the US (among other places I assume) tending to keep the price of gasoline lower. Complicated marketing subject.

Ironic though, that various economic forces are actually keeping the price of gasoline *down* contrary to popular opinion.

Can someone explain to me again in layman terms why refineries are losing money?


westexas, your reply is much appreciated.

By "forced energy conservation" do you mean by public regulation? Or will the high price facilitate enough demand destruction to bring consumption in line with refinery output? Or would the US release some of its SPR in the event of a looming shortage?

I'm trying to get my head around this.

Let's break all consumers in all oil importing countries into five groups, ranked by income. At the bottom, a poor Third World consumer. At the top, Bill Gates. Let's assume an accelerating net oil export decline rate, with the oil going to the high bidders, and with the low bidders being forced to conserve.

As forced energy conservation moves up the food chain, each of the higher income groups has vastly more income than the group below it, and a much greater ability to shift discretionary spending to non-discretionary food & energy costs, i.e., the bidding gets tougher as forced energy conservation moves up the food chain.

Presumably these two factors interact to produce a rapid--and probably accelerating--rate of increase in oil prices.

Offsetting this is an accelerating rate of decline (or more accurately crash) in the discretionary side of the economy, and so it goes--thus my long standing ELP advice to "Cut thy spending and get thee to the non-discretionary side of the economy."

westexas, it's starting to make a little more sense but in a bizarre way. Bear with me, I'm a slow learner at times.

In my own words, forced conservation means there will be no shortage of oil for those who can afford it. And for those who cannot afford it, it means they'll do without other things (i.e., the discretionary side of the economy) in order to purchase it. And if they are no longer able to afford to do this, they simply drop out of the equation.

As supply shrinks, the price rises. As the price rises, demand slows. As demands slows, supply and demand will find equalibrium. In other words, Economics 101.

Technically no shortage b/c people will not be able to afford the stuff.

Hardly a comforting thought for those at the lower end of the global and national economic food chain. Then again, this is not good news for anybody.

Hope I'm clearer on this. Thanks again for your input. This site is definitely an education.

Basically what was happening in some parts of Africa in 2006 and 2007, more and more people forced to reduce their energy consumption, is now happening in the US.

Scary stuff. Our indifference to their plight leaves little outside sympathy for our own.

As Shakespeare said, "What fools these mortals be!"

With continuing apologies. . . Ask not for whom forced energy conservation comes, it comes for thee.

I believe there are only three ways to allocate a scarce commodity:

a) by price, so that the poor and lower-added-value businesses are shut out, but some rational allocation occurs.
b) by formal rationing, with bureaucrats deciding how many stamps you are alloted in your ration book. Prices may be acceptable (except on the inevitable black market), and the poor may be alloted a share, but allocation is unlikely to be very good.
c) by scarcity. Price controls say that gasoline is $1 per barrel, you can buy as much as you want, but there is none to buy.

The poorest people on Earth use all their money to buy food and build shelter from packing crates. The next rung up buy food and fuel. The next rung up buy food, fuel, and health care. Then there is a big gap, then the rung that fly their private jets from one palace to the next.

When fuel and food are cheap, there is budget for the other things that give us a middle class existence. When they are no longer cheap, those things get squeezed out.

"As forced energy conservation moves up the food chain, each of the higher income groups has vastly more income than the group below it, and a much greater ability to shift discretionary spending to non-discretionary food & energy costs, i.e., the bidding gets tougher as forced energy conservation moves up the food chain."

Just so this discussion doesn’t become another academic thought exercise I feel compelled to point out that its LIFE energy we may as well be referring to here.

Please excuse me for pointing out the obvious but this is the socially accepted method for deciding who lives and who dies.

Just saying…

Hey, I got an idea lets come up with a better way!

Two comments: (1) Most Americans have not shown much concern about people "down the food chain" in places like Africa that have been priced out of the energy markets, and now forced energy conservation is knocking on their door and (2) I have been suggesting, begging and pleading for people to implement something like the ELP Plan.

"Please excuse me for pointing out the obvious but this is the socially accepted method for deciding who lives and who dies."

Shhh...! You're not supposed to say that, it makes people uncomfortable.

"Please excuse me for pointing out the obvious but this is the socially accepted method for deciding who lives and who dies."

Excuse me for pointing out that in the woods where I live this is a fact of life itself. Trees compete with each other for sunlight/water/nutrients, animals for food, this is nothing new.

Somehow we humans have decided that things should be different for us. I guess that is because we have (had) the luxury of thinking this way. I suspect the future will return us to this reality.

Yes, I heard that. They they were talking about the crack spread. They said refineries were losing money on gasoline so they might just shut down. It makes no sense to make a product that you are losing money on.

shouldn't that drive up gas prices and drive down oil prices?

Only if someone was willing to sell oil to them cheaper, and someone else willing to buy gas from them at a higher price.

If I understand correctly, the crack spread is the distance between the rock and a hard place (at least for the refiners).

Only if someone was willing to sell oil to them cheaper, and someone else willing to buy gas from them at a higher price.

with refineries closing that should bring down demand for crude and hence the price.

Maybe, but it would certainly reduce available quantities of the end product - refined fuel - causing dramatic price rises in the stuff people and businesses rely on.

I don't think it can be said either way without looking at the numbers - details. It could simply adjust the refinery utilization and/or make more use of gasoline imports. Cutting costs by closing refineries and improving utilization could improve the spread for them potentially without changes in retail price.

Might this possibly be the answer to my question yesterday about why propane has recently been the outlier on the weekly inventory reports? Since propane comes partially from NGLs and partially as a fraction from crude oil refining, maybe the NG fraction has been keeping propane up relative to the other petroleum fractions?

If these US refiners shut down does this mean that there will be signs on some pumps saying "No Gas" soon?? If so, how soon and where?

Unless they are able to import enough gasoline (blending components). Further drops in gasoline inventories should be enough to drive up the price of gasoline, preserving the spread. Between reduced driving and imports, inventories are holding at a low level even though this is peak usage season. I'm beginning to think we will get though the summer (barring hurricane damage) without incident. I'm less sure about being able to build enough inventories for winter heating oil.

For those of you in the Northeast USA, please consider learning about Permaculture. It's whole purpose addresses "energy descent".


The two week intensive is more expensive, but still less expensive than what many spend for a vacation. The weekend series has it's own advantages. There will be a great weekend series offered in NYC at the Open Center with Andrew Faust. Toby Hemenway, Larry Santoyo, and Dave Jacke will be at a course in the Catskills. Maine is hopping with PDC courses, as well (Yelton's up there). There are way more courses so check out the calendar page or the Permaculture Activist website for more details.


I'm not saying it will save your life, but it sure makes the transition to low energy much more doable, fun, and abundant. Not all of the courses need to be expensive. Talk to the organizers of the courses to see what can be arranged, if you need help.

For what it's worth, the Maine "Peak Oil Awareness" Meetup gets a showing of maybe 4-5 people, while the 'Permaculture' meetup apparently has some 150-200 people in its active membership.

Lesson gleaned.. it REALLY helps to serve food if you want people to show up at a meeting. (Oh, and focusing on the solutions instead of the problems seems to have some PR advantage, too)


That's an important observation - focus on what people can do now on a local level. That gives them something productive to do now that will help later.

It's the other way around down here in NYC. However, I get more than 4-5 people in my Permaculture "meetups", but the Peek Oil group, in NYC, has more than twice as many overall members. The Portland ME Permaculture Meetup has a stunning membership. I can hardly believe my eyes.


1. NYC Peak Oil Meetup Group
497 Members
2. The Portland Maine Permaculture Meetup Group
310 Members
3. Wildlife and Environmental Activist Network
246 Members
4. The New York Permaculture Meetup Group
214 Members
5. The Houston Organic Meetup Group
164 Members
6. Going GREEN in Orange County, CA
161 Members
7. SD Community Farms and Gardens Meetup Group
160 Members
8. The Montreal Environment Meetup Group
142 Members
9. Chicago Permaculture Meetup Group
117 Members
10. The Stockholm Oil Awareness Meetup Group
99 Members

Might have something to do with the lack of farming opportunities in the Big Apple. Yes, there are some community gardens, and some people have access to rooftops for gardening, but many don't even have space to park a car, let alone plant a garden.

I'm interested in permaculture, but as a renter who is not planning to stay here permanently, there doesn't seem to be any point.

There's lots of excess NPK floating around somewhere in the waterways and deltas of NYC. But the land will be really, really expensive :)

Who's up for $499.99/kg urban cucumbers? :)

I've just completed a permaculture design course in the UK. My girlfriend and I are currently renting in a city, and have no intentions of buying a house for at least a few years if ever (depending on the market).

We are hopefully in the process of buying a small two acre piece of agricultural land though to grow some of our own food on, and maybe a little bit of wood as fuel. This is within a couple of miles of my parents house (in a more rural setting), and we're expecting to move in with them at some point in the next 12 months. I think they're slowly coming to terms with the idea ;)

I think it's worth learning a bit about permaculture even if you can't put it into practice straight away, there's plenty of theoretical stuff to take in. We've been using our allotment for practice.

It sounds like you feel Permaculture is about gardening, but it isn't. The term did start as a contraction of the words "Permanent Agriculture". However, it may be more accurate to call it "Permanent Culture", especially for urban permies. There are things you could be doing that have nothing to do with gardening and still call it "permaculture". The idea is to be a part of an ecology, or at least to start thinking about the world in this way, both physically and metaphorically.

Organizing with your neighbors can be a part of a permaculture "design" or solution. Think about the "energy" transactions with your community: social, monetary, food coming in, "waste" going out, etc. If you can model it, you can start thinking about how to make it more "sustainable" through design modifications. In this case, a system that is "sustainable" is one that produces enough of it's own energy/needs to maintain itself, plus at least a comfortable margin of surplus for emergencies.

This isn't to say gardening isn't important to practicing permaculture. However, Permaculture still has something to offer an urban setting. FWIW, I'm in Manhattan, so can understand the perceived lack of gardening space. I found some, 1/4 acre, but it isn't very convenient to get to (developers never got the dynamite to it).

Climate more urgent than economy, say voters

I am sure that as soon as the depths to which the economy is about to sink becomes more widely known, that particular opinion will change.

Let's face it, most people think from one paycheck to the next

If folks want to get a preview of what their community will look like post-peak, take a gander at this link.

Everybody is on the take, everybody is looking out for themselves and there is apathy at the end.
While I view both Republicans and Democrats as equal and opposite evils, what is happening in this city is all Democrat action.
They occupy ALL levels of government and what makes this more repugnant is the Dems are supposed to be the Party of the People.
Instead what we have are a bunch of jackals tearing at a dying carcass for what scraps they can take.

IMHO the whole idea of putting down multi-generational roots in a community is totally overrated. Once you determine that Detroit is finished, you can't fix it, the best you can do is leave. North America is filled with immigrants who left losing deals behind.

Hi BrianT, thanks for the reply.
My hometown indeed has seen better days but I wonder how mobile we will be post-peak?
If ever their was a time to establish a viable, close knit community i.e. friends, family now's the time.
Of course name recognition in voting and family influence is largely to blame for the current mess, so it can cut both ways.
Looks like the Chimp has got it right, we're scewed.

Dmitry Orlov has some interesting thoughts about that in 'Reinventing Collapse.'

He observes that Russians were long forced into multi-generational living arrangements against their will because of a lack of housing, but this turned out to be a good thing during the collapse as larger family units were able to help each other survive.

In the US our families are scattered all over the place, and families that can't get along often just split up or avoid each other, so our society is unlikely to get as much benefit from family structures. However, Orlov thinks that we are much better than Russians at forming new living arrangements with roommates and friends, and that our natural American gregariousness will help get us through.

I have thought about this myself with regards to whether I should stay here in LA, go back to Nebraska, or move somewhere else. I do think one's social networks (not the virtual kind!) and community ties will be crucial in surviving the next phase, and I have a very strong network here in LA already.

I think many of us will end up depending on our friends a lot more than in the past to get through...look at who is around you now, who you can trust and who you can count on in a pinch, and who YOU would be willing to help out if they came to you. As the news gets crazier and crazier and the social fabric begins to fray, our friends and family are all we have...

I agree. Mike Ruppert ended up going home to Los Angeles, and I think he made a good choice. Unsustainable as LA is, if that's where he has roots, that's where he should be.

It's also why I'm considering returning to Hawai`i, even though I fear the Easter Island possibility is very real. My family is there. I'd rather convince them to join me somewhere on the mainland, but I don't see that happening. Like many kama'aina, they are very tied to the land and the culture there. The idea of leaving is just beyond the realm of possibility.

Maui and the Big Island actually have smaller populations than pre western contact. Of course, some ecosystems were much healthier then, especially the ocean, and upcountry was not as settled. But the lowlands of Maui and the Big Island had huge populations, and self sustaining.
I have mulled over the possibility of moving back also, as Hawaii is where I feel most comfortable, and I do have friends and still own a house in Kula. My brother lives in Guam, which is also a possibility, but my spouse would object. She loves Hawaii.

Maui and the Big Island actually have smaller populations than pre western contact.

According to the papers I've read, the Big Island's current population is twice what it was when they were up against Malthusian limits in Kamehameha's day. They've done some fascinating research on the soils there (comparing the soils under ancient walls, and soils that were presumably cultivated). They found the soil was basically exhausted, trying to feed a population estimated to be half the size of the current one.

Maui had over 200,000 people pre contact. See : "Stannard's (1989, Before the Horror) contention that the pre-contact population of the archipelago, as estimated by the accounts of early European voyagers and missionary census reports, has been vastly underestimated. Rather than a maximal population of ca. 250,000, Stannard suggests that a figure of as many as 800,000 is supportable on a re-evaluation of the ethnohistoric evidence"
The Big Island may have had similiar population numbers.
As to how long this was sustainable, it is up for analysis.

Stannard's work is, well, controversial at best. I think he's way off.

You might find this article of interest.

"Clearly, the Hawaiians were pushing agriculture to its limits," said Patrick V. Kirch, a professor of anthropology at the University of California-Berkeley and co-author of the Science study. "We can see that the fields on Hawai'i were getting smaller and smaller, and that there was no place for them to expand geographically."

According to Vitousek, the shortage of arable land probably played a role in the rise of aggressive chiefdoms on Maui and Hawaii in the 18th century.

"The Hawaiian Islands had a true class system led by chiefs who enjoyed elite privileges," Kirch noted. "To maintain the social order at the level they were accustomed to, the chiefs had to go into a mode of aggressive action. It's interesting that the really aggressive chiefdoms came from the highly intensified dryland systems on Maui and Hawai'i, where per capita yields were declining. They probably looked up the chain of islands toward Moloka'i and O'ahu and said, 'I'd love to get hold of those taro paddies.'"

They found that despite the large amount of real estate on the Big Island, relatively little of it was suitable for farming. It was too dry for taro, and much of it was too dry even for sweet potatoes, which were the staple there.

I am a bit skeptical of Stannard's numbers also. The evidence on Maui does support large population numbers. I think the future will tell. I have several anthropologist friends (as you know, development has to consider Hawaiian Artifacts, so it is a good gig for them)--
Anyway, it appears the population numbers have been underestimated in some areas.
With minimal population on Lanai and Molokai, I would bet they are at historical pre contact numbers (probably less for Lanai).
Kaho'olawe has no one, and historically was well populated.
Oahu is obviously overpopulated, and a wreck waiting to happen.

Here in Toronto, everything we eat is grown within 100 miles of the place. Post-peak, we can just live on the herds of Caribou, all 5.5 million of us. When the zombie cannibals are overrunning Hawaii, we will be fighting off the zombie cannibals pouring over the border from Motown.

Yes, but you can bring open pollenated corn seeds with you, and know that old native american trick about putting a dead fish under each hill. That one thing would probably increase carrying capacity substantially.

I can't find the link - but the counter-claim is that the fish story was a lie and told as a way to promote moving across the sea to a place where there was SO much excess meat you could use it to grow corn.

Not to mention how every preditor would dig up your corn to get at the fish.

I have been discussing the future of Hawai'i recently with two friends, one who lives there now but is relatively unaware of peak energy issues, and another friend who used to live there and is thinking about moving back.

My first friend, a curator at an art museum in Honolulu, seems like he'll be broadsided blind by the changes about to ensue.

My second friend lived off the land before and ended up buying a small off-the-grid property on the Big Island for cheap, so he is thinking about going back there. He doesn't seem too upset that the flow of rich tourists is set to decrease and looks forward to getting back to a greater degree of self-sufficiency if he moves back.

Leanan I'd be interested to know what you think of the wisdom of the latter choice. If you moved back yourself how would you live, have you thought about it?

My dad in an agronomist, and we have farmers and farms in our family. So if worst comes to worse, showing up on a relative's doorstep and offering to work for food is an option. But frankly, I don't like it. I think living in Hawaii will be like living in those isolated rural towns being killed by high gas prices, writ large. Assuming it doesn't go Easter Island.

I guess it comes down to community ties. If your friend has family there and is in good health, going back may be a reasonable choice. If he doesn't, he might want to reconsider.

For me, it's more about worrying about my parents, who aren't getting any younger, than trying to find a post-peak hideaway.

The Island of Hawaii is a very active volcano and the new vent at the Halemaumau Crater that is gassing sulpher dioxide in the air is expected to continue for the unseeable future. These emissions make it very difficult to breathe and can be destuctive on vegtable and flower farms.
With southernly winds all of the Islands are affected making air conditioners essential for anyone with lung disease (asthma,MCS). There is also discussions about the expansion of the geothermal plant in Puna that will also emit serious air contaminants. Homework is a necessary ingredient to make wise choices. Air quality is basic.

And don't forget that big crack that's a giant run-out landslide waiting to happen.

I would agree that Kona side is disagreeable from the vog. But usually Hilo side, Hamakua, Kamuela, etc have some of the purest air you'll find. Occasionally it'll blow the wrong way but not usually. I've never even smelled sulphur from my Fern Forest property in the times I've been there, even though it's just a few miles uphill from the Pu'u O'o vent. It's such a point source that it takes a fairly rare wind direction to blow it that way. There was an evacuation earlier in the year, but people live well in the shadow of volcanoes all over the world.

The geothermal plant in Puna may not emit much of anything; it's that misconception which has the local "greens" opposing it in favor of tanked-in oil. And even if it did emit a little, as you point out it's adjacent to the world's largest active volcano, a flea-fart at an elephant-pooping contest.

I worry a lot more about the fact there aren't any doctors there.

Leanan, it'd be good to have you out here; I'll gift you your first 50-lb bag of rice for hoarding. (hightrekker, one for you too!)

It's family that's keeping me here; my elderly mom needs care and I'm not enough of a cad to abandon her. Moreover, I think the element of luck may play a larger role than many think, in terms of how things roll out. And a truly intelligent effort (I'm thinking more along the lines of Machiavelli than grassroots) could possibly get a reasonable minority of people pushing for some resilience here. Maybe. Though I haven't made myself care yet.

In terms of carrying capacity and bad soil, you can still buy a BUNCH of NPK fairly cheap, and one would probably get into a lot less trouble hoarding that somewhere in nondescript fashion than food. I recently got 20 50-lb bags of 10-20-20 for $25 each delivered. That's really dirt cheap, so to speak. Treasure.

Also, while I know the polynesians had breadfruit and stuff, there would be an opportunity now to use fossil fuels to terrace farmlands and drastically decrease runoff, while planting a LOT of breadfruit trees, etc. I have been astonished at the amount of food my oahu backyard produces even when I ignore it, I never fertilize or do anything aside from initial tree-planting. The dang yard produces literal tons of coconut, avocado, mango and stuff which currently largely goes to waste, and if I cut down the junk fiddlewood trees and try to optimize it, there would be a lot more. I've been impressed.

Though a hint: if you've bought any oil options, the state of Hawaii takes a large cut of your capital gains, might want to have your legal residence be in some tax-free state. A $1000 crude call option bought a year ago will now buy a huge amount of NPK.


In the long run, I think cities like Detroit might do okay. Older cities were situated where they were for a reason.

Getting there from here might be difficult, however.

"While I view both Republicans and Democrats as equal and opposite evils, what is happening in this city is all Democrat action."

What do Detroit, Chicago, DC and Bush/Cheney have in common?
Each is a classic example of why the political parties need each other simply to counter balance their ambitions. Anytime a political faction doesn't have any opposition they get drunk with power and corruption.

I much prefer the Republicans and Democrats focusing on fighting each other, otherwise they'll focus on the rest of us. Let's hope we have divided a government for next 50 years. Neither party is trustworthy.

As Dmitri Orlov said, in the USA we have the Capitalist Party, and the OTHER Capitalist Party.

Older cities were situated where they were for a reason.

Blame the French.
They were lousy city pickers.
According to some history I've read Detroit has always been a pretty miserable place, swampy, prone to flooding; kinda like another city the French founded, New Orleans.
I'm sure Alan concurs. :)

Getting there from here might be difficult, however.

This is where the power of the paradigm comes into play.
We are so immersed in the reality of today that envisioning another life is a miraculous, revolutionary act.
It brings to mind a Zen koan I once heard "The future does not come forward to meet us, it streams from behind us, from over our heads."

Turning ones head to face the flow, even briefly, seems to be a gargantuan task.

"Oil prices neared $146 a barrel..."

is neared a word?

Ummm....yes. At least in English. ;-)

No, but that's never stopped an American.

Unless you think "to near" is a verb.
Let's see. "I near the gas station." That almost works. "I near you"--awful. "Near" is more properly and adverb so:
It should properly be "Oil prices drew near to $146 a barrel..."
(N.B. I am American.)

It has pulled back after the opening bell, but watch the action fly in the last hour of trading today!!

Ah...short session today. No huge "last 1/2 hour" move as has been typical. Still WTI closes at 144.42 and Brent pulls out by a nose at 145.60.

And the evil twins of high-priced crude ended:

Tapis 153.07
Minas 154.02

Still WTI closes at 144.42

Nope, WTI for August settled at $145.29, up $1.72.

NYMEX Crude Oil (Light)

Ya...noticed there was a "late kick" after all. Man...someone is running it up right before they shut the door in the last few days.

Here's an article with a carefully veiled reference to Peak oil by a Chevron executive.



He may have not used the term PO but he's well aware of the concept. The last numbers I saw showed both Chevron and ExxonMobil unable to replace produced reserves for the last two years. Thus they are both at PO. Their situation is much the same as most major oil producing countries: their production base is so big that even a relative low decline rate is impossible to offset with new discoveries.

More evidence of decreasing demand:

Soaring fuel prices prompt consumers to reconsider overseas travel

The rocketing cost of fuel is influencing this summer's retail economic environment, with customers hesitating to travel abroad and instead choosing domestic train-based trips.

Sales of energy-saving air conditioners are also growing steadily, according to sources.

On Tuesday, the average nationwide retail price of regular gasoline exceeded 180 yen per liter. Electricity and natural gas prices also rose the same day.

Travel agencies are unhappy with the trend, saying the number of reservations for foreign trips this summer has decreased sharply. A Nippon Travel Agency Co. spokesman said reservations for tours to North America and Hawaii decreased by about 40 percent compared with the same period last year.

Surely demand for recreational international air travel has to be among the most sensitive items to increases in oil prices.

North Queensland tourism operators are screaming blue murder about Qantas/Jetstar cutting flights direct from Osaka (?) in November (and in a typical knee-jerk reaction, State and Federal Governments have hastily released a 'rescue package'), but that's what you get when you focus an entire regions earnings off a fickle industry.

This comment on Todd Benjamin's blog has been 'awaiting moderation' for several days:

July 1st, 2008 851 GMT
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Oil is now de facto the new ‘gold standard’ and will make attempts to inflate away problems futile, as fiat currencies such as the dollar will just sink and make imports more expensive.
Prices of $140/barrel make whole swathes of assets worthless.
The airline industry is not viable at that price, and long distance holiday destinations will rapidly go to terminal decline.
Hawaii is the canary in the mine in that respect.

So what will happen to property values?
It is not just in Hawaii, but exurbia where property values must collapse as the gas is too dear.

The devaluation of their collateral means that no banks will be solvent.

Other industries which cannot survive in their current form include all the big three American car manufacturers, and their suppliers will be hard hit.

The knock-on effects of this mean that millions will be thrown out of work, further hitting values of property and passing insolvency into the banking system.

Meanwhile the already lousy government finances in America will collapse.
In the 30’s there was a lot of slack in the system to pay for the New Deal. No such slack exists today.

If that sounds bad, the UK is far worse.
Both the budget deficit and balance of payments there are vast, and not only is oil an import but natural gas to supply heating.
Personal debt in the UK is over 170% of income.

Standards of living have to drop to at least half, probably to 25% of current to balance the system, money will have to be moved from personal consumption to infrastructure, energy supplies and insulation, and that has to be done with many of our current industries flat on their backs.

Employment in financial services is a symptom of inflation, with people making their money by appreciation of assets through inflation of fiat currency.
The oil standard for currencies will prick that bubble, and create a profoundly deflationary environment.


I am not usually very paranoid, but a couple of 'doomerish' comments to mass media outlets seem to have gone missing recently, and moderation has never taken this long before.
A 'bad news' filter?

Of course there is a filter. Who wants to know all this? Sounds like a terrible future. Would depress all the readers, who wouldn't come back to read again...... No tooth fairy to the rescue. How awful.

Oh, and you left out the "millions will die from starvation" part.

My post is up now, so my suspicions were unfounded - now if only that car would stop shadowing me! ;-)

I doubt that millions dying from starvation will make much of a spot on the news, if there are queues at petrol stations and power cuts to claim attention.
Darfur has struggled to make the news for years.

The INS,CIA,FBI,Secret Service,Interpol,TSA,NKVD,
Mossad, etc etc etc are all real.
The chances of me knowing which tooth I had a root
canal done on 5 years ago is as remote as me remembering what I had for lunch last Thursday.
Yet any of these agencies could produce my entire
dental records as fast as a mouse click.
And why is it the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms wears those lousy cheap nylon blue wind
Why do FBI agents wear polyester pants?
Why do CIA agents wear Victoria Secrets panties?
Bush #1 was CIA just like Putin was KGB.
The odds of you not being watched is remote.
Hell...Iam even reading every thing you type.
See how easy it is?
And the CIA panty jibe was a joke...we know you guys
wear fish net stockings.

Now that we are on the doom tip, anybody care to play a game of guessing which Cities will be toast first (let's try to rule out the Matt Savinar nuke scenario for now) :)

Hi, could you source that? I can't find the link.

Click on it.

Thanks. Apologies for the 'senior' moment! :-)

Within the USA, an easy pick, Las Vegas.

Phoenix/Tuscon ranks high, as well as any retirement and tourism orientated city, such as Honolulu or St. Petersburg.

Some depressed Rust Belt city that has been hanging on will also collapse. Perhaps Youngstown or Flint. Even Detroit (although they will likely have a rebirth).

Not such great hopes,


Alan: "Collapse" is pretty arbitrary. The Big Easy has a murder rate 20X that of Honolulu, and you love the place-you think it is a paradise. One man's dump is another man's Nirvana.

Quite true. But this is a forecast of the future. New Orleans has already collapsed. Been there, done that :-(

From what I know, the major economic supports are tourism, retirees and military. Assuming a collapse of tourism, very few new retirees and many of the existing ones becoming impoverished and a reduction in the military, adding increased cost of transport of goods to the islands, and I can see a collapse.

One very strong counterweight against collapse is a strong social network, which will probably be enough. Far fewer, and perhaps dispersed more, revived agriculture, but not collapse would be my guess.


I predict the military will be a booming business for quite awhile to come.

Ever visited Central America? Seen the guys hanging around with their sawed-off shotguns in front of banks, etc.? There's a growth industry for you. Paramilitary organizations will be a big supplier of jobs. Hey, how about "concentration camp guard", etc. for a new source of jobs? Who says capitalism doesn't work?

How about the underground economy: hiring people to go steal stuff for you? Or "Help out a vet. Will dig graves for food."

Easy pick. A city that is below sea level which relies on energy gulping pumps to stay dry.

Robert a Tucson

You mean Boston ?

Actually, it take very little energy to lift water 2 meters or so. Much more is required to lift water from the Colorado River to Phoenix, Tuscon and Las Vegas.


I think the concern is the quantity (and constancy) of water you have to lift, not the distance.

I thought that Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tuscon were downhill from Colorado. In fact, I even thought that the dams generated power. Silly me.

When I was visiting family in Phoenix, I was astonished to hear that 20% of the their electricity is used to pump water. Less than 1% in New Orleans (including potable water).

Click on the map and count the pumping stations




Read page 193. Tucson doesn't use any CAP water. We don't care if that hose breaks down. Phoenix I dunno about. Phoenix has sprawled out like Kunstler's worse nightmare.

When we need more electricity, we hang out another solar panel. What do you do in New Orleans?

Phoenix uses primarily Salt River Project water. Water is a huge issue in Phoenix (and the SouthWest in general), but there is also quite a bit of low hanging fruit.

The map I linked to above shows 6 pumping stations in Pima County, and the canal goes just west of Tuscon. I do not know if Twin Peaks, Sandario, Brawley, San Xavier, Synder Hill and Black Mountain are local landmarks, but those are the names of the pumping stations very close to Tuscon.

CAP water is injected underground at Pima Mine Road, Avra Valley, and Lower Santa Cruz.

If Tuscon does not depend on CAP water, then your suburbs do. And your CAP water is most energy intensive, being pumped the furthest and highest uphill.


PS: Your link states that you now use a mixture of CAP water and groundwater, after some initial problems with CAP water. Injecting CAP water underground also mixes the two types and allows for a slow adaptation..

Does that include swimming pool pumps? Just kidding (I think).

Boston? We have a dam on the Charles to keep the river level UP, so as to keep the water table in the Back Bay up and keep a bunch of wood pilings submerged. If that failed, we'd lose seriously beautiful neighborhoods, and Jim Kunstler would likely die of hearbreak, but it would not be that big an economic hit. The people made homeless would be our elite. They can deal.

You running A/C today?
What can your garden grow out there without help from pumped water?
Security Issues in Tucson might be considerable in a downtown downturn.

The Bell tolls for all of us in different ways..

"Slimy Mudhole? My HOME this is!" -Yoda

>You running A/C today?

Yep. Solar panels work great in Tucson.

>What can your garden grow out there without help from pumped water?

Cactus. What can your garden grow without pumped water?

I'm not optimistic about the future of Arizona agriculture. Actually, I'm surprised about how much agriculture there is around here. But we have solar power and copper to trade 4 food. It really doesn't take a lot of water to run a household. Lawns and agriculture are the biggest water hogs.

Actually, it's quite possible to grow a vibrant garden using only rainwater in Tucson. See Brad Lancaster's guest post on Rainwater Harvesting at TOD:Local.

Cooling is also a concern in Tucson (and the rest of the Southwest), but, then, heating isn't really a problem--somewhat a case of pick your problem. Arizona's energy requirements for cooling are largely a result of architecture that assumed cheap energy, much as the Northeast's energy requirements for heating come from the same assumption. Arizona's cooling requirement can fairly easily be solved through improved architecture.

Jeff, can you give some idea of what you mean by 'fairly easily' solving the cooling requirements by adapting architecture?
Coming from a cool climate I have little idea of the various options and costs involved.
Is there a cheap temporary fix alternative equivalent to just insulating one room in cold climates available?

Cooling in the desert is easy. It's so dry that the body's natural sweat mechanism works very well. If you stay in the shade, you can be cool even in 110F heat. Drink lots of water, and stay in a breeze, natural or artificial.

There's no cheap, temporary fix to existing "standard" suburban architecture. When I lived in Tucson, I lived in a small adobe home, and it worked remarkably well with no A/C except for about 2 months a year, when it was uncomfortable. A few architects today are working with very thick rammed earth or straw bale in the area with good results. Also planting shade trees is one part of an effective solution (both via shade and evaporative cooling of the entire area) but isn't quick.

I have seen one house in Tucson where the owner wrapped a standard home in straw bale--unconventional, but it seemed to work fairly well.

I think the best solutions are really only workable with new construction, or at least major renovation. Cooling towers, as have been used in Yazd in Iran (similar climate) for centuries, work very well. A new approach that I'm personally excited about is using a solar chimney to store "cold" underground by directing cold winter night air through a large, insulated thermal mass, and then using that cold mass to cool air being drawn in to ventilate the house in the summer (annualized geothermal storage).

The more conventional approach is combining highly insulating material on the outside of a building's shell with high-thermal-mass material on the inside (e.g. Straw bale with adobe interior walls and cement floor, or Rastra blocks, etc.).

Bottom line: Tucson's cooling and water problems are very solvable, just like heating problems are solvable in the Northeast, etc. That doesn't mean that there's an easy and cheap way to adapt existing sunk capital cost in current architecture, or to keep the current inventory of golf courses green. I personally think projections of doom for Tucson and Phoenix are overblown--I think there will be significant economic problems as snowbird/tourist economy dries up, and as current iterations of suburbia become less tenable, but I'm not sure they will be any worse than problems facing places like Boston (heating oil costs and huge sunk cost in poorly insulated buildings), Florida (the kind of cooling that works in Tucson largely fails in Florida because of water tables and humidity issues), and everywhere in between...

Hi jeffvail,
I think you are wrong about insulating older homes, adding 4 inch suds on inside walls with insulation is easy, same for adding 12 inches insulation in roof. Also evaporative air-conditioning in a well insulated house is low energy use, AC.

Another positive for SW states is that baby boom generation is about to retire, bones getting cold, a hot dry climate, where you can sit around, in retirement beats shoveling wet cold snow every time. A recession is not going to affect retired people provided economy doesn't completely collapse. If we have gasoline rationing? , could be a good source of income for the retired.
Agriculture is the big user of water and cities always can always out-bid irrigated agriculture.

As a confirmed bodger, I would go along with Neil!

Even simple things like painting a house bright white would help.
Attic fans are also economical and a good bet:

The simplest, least costly remedy for this problem is an attic fan. Properly installed, this fan will push the hot air out of the attic, so that cooler air can come in and replace it. If this "make-up air" is pulled from underneath the eaves on the shady side, for example, it is quite possible to lower the attic temperature below the sunny-side air temperature despite the successful harvest of inbound solar energy by the roof.


Since many of the hottest areas are water-stressed, then putting a rainwater tank underground would provide a handy source for a heat pump.
Reflective blinds should do wonders too.
Here is some cheap insulation they are developing for the third world:

The basic concept is straightforward: Use locally available agricultural waste, such as straw, held together with a binder made of local resins, to make insulating panels that can be installed right under the existing corrugated metal panels.


For more humid climates, work has started on desiccants which use a lot less power than traditional dehumidifiers:
NREL: Distributed Thermal Energy Technologies - Thermally Driven Air Conditioning

In tropical or sub-tropical climates,dry or humid,the cheapest way to build a livable structure is to use light construction(to avoid heat retention),plenty of windows and doors for ventilation,avoid windows on East and West sides to prevent direct sunlight into the building and verandahs or wide eaves on the North and South sides for the same reason and to allow windows to remain open in the rain.
Getting the floor off the ground on stilts is also helpful and if they are high enough you get a lot of useable space under the house.Insect screens are essential.Ceiling fans are not essential but are appreciated in humid conditions.
Insulation of ceiling and walls is adviseable.This type of construction in various materials has been used for a long time around the world and mostly without airconditioning.
Like a lot of solutions,low tech but effective.

In many hot climates, light and ventilated structures work best, but they're not universally the best choice. The key question is temperature swing between night and day, and between winter and summer. In the humid tropics, where it doesn't get cold at any point, thing walls with high ventilation are often best. However, especially in interior deserts where the nights can get quite cool, massive walls (e.g. adobe, rammed earth) are preferable because they moderate temperature swings. They can also be quite cheap and use locally available materials. In situations (like Tucson) where there are several months in the summer where it doesn't get cold enough at night to cool a massive structure, a different approach is preferable--either combine passive cooling (such as a cooling tower) or use a hybrid structure (highly insulated shell, thermally massive interior) that can capture cold from the coldest point of the night (or, in annual thermal storage, the coldest point of the winter) to moderate high temperatures. Still low-tech and inexpensive (though often more labor intensive in construction, such as manufacturing adobe on site). In some desert environments (like Tucson), keeping the house on the ground (slab-type foundation), but WITH some kind of foundation insulation, can be beneficial in expanding the available thermal mass. Of course, in hot/humid areas, that might be exactly the wrong advice--a good example of how hot/dry deserts and hot/humid tropics may require quite different architecture.

My 2¢ : New Orleans is one of the oldest cities in the U.S., it was first settled in 1718. Periodic inundation is a problem along with malaria, but I guess its location on the Mississippi ensures people will keep coming back and rebuilding after a fashion. With diesel prices continuing to increase, the trucking industry will be finished. River and rail transport will have to make up the bulk of the proportion of transport again.

Tucson has no such draw. Once the groundwater goes, Tucson goes.

Old in the US isn't very old at all.

I don't think the Mississippi will stay where it is in the post-carbon age. I think the end of cheap energy will prove Mark Twain correct:

10,000 River Commissions, with the mines of the world at their back, can not tame that lawless stream, cannot curb it or confine it, can not say to it, Go here or Go there, and make it obey; cannot save a shore which it has sentenced; cannot bar its path with an obstruction which it will not tear down, dance over and laugh at.

In the end, the Mississippi will move west, despite our attempts to hold it where it is. And we'll build a new port city to accommodate it.

Good point. Actually the Mississippi should have moved long ago but the Army Core of Engineers has kept it where it is. A good read about that is "The Control of Nature" by John McPhee

No longer true. The Corps of Engineers has been diverting 30% of the Mississippi River down the Atchafalaya Basin since the 1930s. The water spreads out over a 25 mile wide (it varies) basin, slows down and deposits silt for a couple of hundred miles to the sea.

The Atchafalaya Delta has grown out to sea and the basin has risen from silt deposits. The natural path is again by New Orleans.

The same strategy can protect New Orleans from sea level rise with minimal energy input. Just use mainly spring flood waters (every year) to deposit hundreds of millions of tons of silt.


Yeah, Tucson is dependent on our groundwater. So we keep a close eye on our groundwater. And use treated wastewater to recharge the aquifers. Tucson gets 12 inches of rain a year. Compared to 15 inches for LA. We aren't any worse off than southern california which doesn't prove they are going to make it either.

A lot of the country is mining their groundwater for agriculture. At some point the water will go and the crops will dry up. That's not a problem unique to Arizona. We got a million people keeping an eye on the water level. The family ranches are disappearing. The amazing thing is that people raised cattle in Arizona ever.

As linked above, see recent Rainwater Harvesting post on TOD:Local. Tucson's current pattern of water usage is quite dependent on groundwater, but Tucson can easily meet its water demands (for locally-appropriate food and other necessities, not golf courses) through rainwater alone. Will Tucson's draw as a tourist/snowbird location go away without golf courses? Probably, though I personally am drawn to the desert, not to the faux-lush golf courses...

I agree, I think that using what could end up being the most precious resource you have out there to make the desert look as lush as an english lawn just to hit little white balls around with sticks is one of the more bizarre things you could do on the face of it.

To tell the truth, most of my specific knowledge of municipal water strategies in arid climates comes from Albuquerque and the Ogallala. I have been to Tucson a few times but the groundwater comment was mostly a knee-jerk response to any question about the future of the west. I was pretty interested to read your posts about the specifics further up in the thread.

The other driver for that comment was that one problem with long-term sustainability out west, as I'm sure you guys know, there is a history of prolonged droughts that have a bad tendency to do in entire civilizations. Europeans are relatively recent additions. Beware climate change!

Rust belt cities may have their problems, but they are still close to agricultural areas (i.e. supplies of food and water). Yes, the manufacturing core may be lost, but currently housing is cheap. If you were retired, these cities could be good places to ride it all out.

Compare that to a place like Las Vegas. Without tourism, tons of jobs will be lost, and there are inadequate quantities of food and water anywhere nearby.

A lot of boomers are "boomeranging." They move to Florida or Arizona in the early part of their retirements, then move back to the northern cities they came from as they age. They need the family support as they get older and sicker, and they don't want to drive long distances to see medical specialists and the like.

And yes, rust belt cities are well-located. Good soil, water for agriculture as well as transportation, along railways or canals, etc. The manufacturing core may return, as globalization unwinds. It won't be the glory days of old, but it might be a lot better than Las Vegas or Phoenix.

The manufacturing core may return, as globalization unwinds.

I don't think that globalization will unwind I think it'll just correct. globaliziation is really all about costs. we moved too much manufacturing to asia from america. now that costs are crimping globalization we're moving back to something more sustainable. if that means we make products here and ship them to china that doesn't necessarily mean globalization is done.

globaliziation is really all about costs. we moved too much manufacturing to asia from america. now that costs are crimping globalization we're moving back to something more sustainable. if that means we make products here and ship them to china that doesn't necessarily mean globalization is done.

It’s costs that you claim that are crimping globalization. And what costs are these? Probably shipping! So, if after we relocate industries locally how the hell are we going to keep things cheap to global consumers by adding back the costs by shipping them back to China?

t’s costs that you claim that are crimping globalization. And what costs are these? Probably shipping! So, if after we relocate industries locally how the hell are we going to keep things cheap to global consumers by adding back the costs by shipping them back to China?

Shipping is but one cost and Cramer had an interesting monologue where he said we were in the shortage period of what he called the shipping cycle. costs are going up in more than just shipping. china is experiencing increasing costs and wages are going up. the dollar going down is making US goods cheaper just about everywhere.

Deleted. Screw it.

You're fighting a form of religion, you know.

That is why I have decided never to respond again to his posts. I'm guessing others will too. At least in college these guys disappear in a semester or two.

I decided the same thing a while back, but have lapsed a couple of times. Sometimes he just comes out with the most ridiculous pollyannish nonsense that I just can't help it.

Unrelenting Cornucopians, for whatever reason (belief, underlying fear, lack of knowledge, etc.) don't seem very likely to rapture up into a singularity soon enough, so the best course of action, whether replying or not, is certainly not to let unsubstantiated and unprovable claims get your blood pressure up too far. A little dramatic disbelief is nice (I like some drama now and then), but you gotta let it fade fast and free up for worrying about the things that ultimately do matter to you. I'm quite sure we've only begun to experience this religion.

Great work you're doing on your farm, by the way.

I guess I’m more sensitive to it because I was once a member of that religion. But the hypnotize that never lies wore off from life experience and observation. It’s kind of funny that Communists and Capitalists make the same error - thinking that each of their systems is an inevitable outcome of human behavior, when in fact it is a dogmatic belief system. Capitalists have yet to realize there “victory” over communists was a Pyrrhic one.

Committed cornucopians have a lot in common with committed doomers.
They both imagine that they can see the future perfectly - and far into the future at that.

Now it is reasonable to see oil shortages coming, but the response to them was unpredictable, and still is.
At one stage I would have deemed the unremitting stupidity of the American and British governments unlikely, but it has proved to be the case.

On the flip of the medal, there are a lot of very smart guys working on things as diverse as fuel from algae, polywell fusion and high altitude wind, any of which would be game-changers.
Apparently doomers are so smart that they know what none of these smart people who are expert in their fields know, that they are wasting their time.

Some of the predictions even go out 70 years, so for instance we will run out of uranium as although we know how to do a much more efficient burn that will not happen, and apparently none of the other technological possibilities will work now or in the future.

It is usually justified with some sort of quasi-religious appeal to alleged first principles, that we are out of balance with the planet, or the population is 'too high' or whatever.
It is equally absurd to claim that people will overcome every difficulty by the pure force of will, and the counter-God of technology.

All of these folk have difficulty reconciling themselves to the few things we do know about the future - that we are mortal and we don't know what the future holds.

Tell me what the result of the 3.30 race will be, and then I will be a believer.
Since they can't do that their longer term certainties don't work.

We all form our guesses, but they get hazier the further out you go, and the first stage of knowledge is to know what you do not know.

Does anyone who marked the argument down, thereby proving that they are incapable of understanding what the rating system is for, wish to actually argue their point?

Obviously not.

So you listen to Cramer, eh? That explains a lot.

I think most rust belt cities will do fine (Cleveland and Pittsburgh come to mind), but those whose infrastructure, social network, economic base and demographics have been worn down, may not be able to stand another strain. Flint and Youngstown come to mind.


I Live here in Cleveland right now and moved here
from Lake Norman in North Carolina.
I believe the proximity to fresh water of rivers and
great lakes, rail roads, coal, natural gas, fertile
agricultural lands, lack of high pop density like LA,
NY, Chicago, abundance of hard woods, nuclear plants
like Perry Nuclear, RTA (rapid transit) public transport, Erie canal, access to ocean thru St Lawrence seaway, and many reasons more lead me to think its a good place P.O.
I was born here over 50 yrs ago.
The people here are ethnic diverse salt of the earth.
They have a toughness thats generational.
Plus I can be in Canada by boat in an hour or 20 min
by air.

Rust belt cities may have their problems, but they are still close to agricultural areas

and they have lakes, rivers, the erie canal and railroads.

I'd go along with the port cities - transport by water is still going to be cheaper than on land.
Those with good access to the railroad system would seem to have the advantage.

Providing insulation is, in the end, much easier than making up for water shortage or isolation.

The 'old' folks own all the assets ..

Best to hang out/provide services to the
aging affluent ..

Resort and college towns with rail and water access ..

Triff ..

Tucson is a college town with good rail infrastructure. Water we have to be careful with. At one time, Southern Pacific was the town's leading employer and we have a marshalling center here. We got Amtrak service west to LA and east to NOLA. Then you can catch the pacific coast liner or the Spirit of New Orleans to Chicago. The Amtrak service sucks as it does everywhere but someday it might be important.

Ah, sorry. Here it is again (the image itself should be clickable):


The image was meant to stimulate conversation, I doubt the data itself is more than guessing.

To prevent misuse of data, commercial exploitation, or property speculation, the project coordinators are withholding names and specific details of the first phase of world’s collapsing cities until further notice. See table below for general information.

With little information on how they have weighted their criteria, this is rather like the prospectus for the South Sea bubble:
'a company for carrying out an undertaking of great advantage, but nobody to know what it is".' (Wiki)

What a load of cobblers!
(But thanks for the interesting link!)

I'm a subsistence farmer and an ecologist; I find their evidence concerning water, climate and topsoil pretty compelling.



The Nevada History books say there were about 3000 indians in the Reno, Carson, Tahoe area before they were discovered by a white guy. This large area can support 3000 after most of the million or so people leave. Where? They are all going back to California where the weather is nicer, the soil is better and the crops grow longer. Most everything important in this area is shipped in by rail and truck. There will be mass Nevada migrations in the years ahead but for different reasons than the past fifty to one hundred years.

That was one of the reasons I left the Reno/Carson City area. Donner Pass closes for three days and the stores are empty.

Notes from Rural Ontario

So I went in to my fav boookstore in the local Burg fairly late yesterday. The evening shift was on. Two teenage girls, one of them looking very glum, and the other bored. I asked if they had Demitri Orlov's new book. After some munging around they found it in the back of the store filed in political history, beside 'History of the Persian Empire'. Seemed appropriate.

Walking back up to the front, I said 'He's in favour of boondoggles'. She looked quizzical. 'Oh you know, big expense silly projects that do nothing like The Hydrogen Economy, Star Wars, Iraq, ethanol. Stuff that has to fail in some big costly way. You should put it right up front on display. It's an important book.'

We get back to the counter. The two have a short chat and the other asks "So what's it about?'
I say 'Well how to help the collapse of the US.'
She says "I'm not sure sure they need any help. They're collapsing just fine as it is."
I say ''Well Demetri thinks they could collapse so much better with a little help.'
They burst out laughing and said ''Up front it goes.'

Just so you know,


Re: Free Hydrogen.

We seemed to have learned nothing from the corn ethanol debacle. Government is OK at identifying problems, but pretty crappy at mandating solutions. I would rather see coal, oil and nat gas priced appropriately, taking into account their externalities, and then let the market find the proper energy replacement.

"Government is OK at identifying problems, but pretty crappy at mandating solutions. I would rather see coal, oil and nat gas priced appropriately, taking into account their externalities, and then let the market find the proper energy replacement."

+1 I agree, they've done such a great job so far. Just look at Dept of Homeland Insecurity.

let the market find the proper energy replacement.

I assume you meant a proper replacement for liquid petroleum. That being said, your statement makes the assumption that there is a proper replacement for oil. It also assumes that the market is all powerful and can, if let alone, will seek out and find a proper replacement for gasoline, jet fuel, and all the other products such as asphalt and plastics.

I don't mean to rain on your parade but there is no such replacement. That is, no other product can even come close to the EROEI of crude oil and natural gas. The belief that we can run the world and feed 6.6 billion people on energy from agricultural products is just a pipe dream and a very silly one at that.

Ron Patterson

I don't mean to rain on your parade but there is no such replacement. That is, no other product can even come close to the EROEI of crude oil and natural gas. The belief that we can run the world and feed 6.6 billion people on energy from agricultural products is just a pipe dream and a very silly one at that.

Hmmm... That's not what I heard from Mr. Yergin...

"It's extraordinary how inventive one can be with ethanol right now." -Daniel Yergin

"Within four or five years the US might be getting 10 percent of its gasoline from ethanol - that would be like creating a new Indonesia." -Daniel Yergin

Are you saying you are wiser than he who predicted $38/barrel oil?

And besides, the Chinese are developing a direct solar-to-ethanol process as we speak...

I don't mean to rain on your parade but there is no such replacement. That is, no other product can even come close to the EROEI of crude oil and natural gas. The belief that we can run the world and feed 6.6 billion people on energy from agricultural products is just a pipe dream and a very silly one at that.

Little doubt on this one, but it would be nice if we didn't have another agency wasting energy/resources that could be used elsewhere.

Yes there is.
Check out the EROI estimates for nuclear, which anyway are usually pitched low if they use the absurd storm-Smith misrepresentations, then adjust them for the far more common thorium fuel and burning them in a half-efficient way, for instance in the prospective Fuji reactor:
Next Big Future: thorium

then you have multiplied the EROI by around 50.

Alternatively you can use thin-film solar, which has a massive EROI.

Factor in that electricity use is several times as efficient as ICE, and that for heating you can multiply efficiency by 2.5-4.0 times by the use of air heat pumps, together with the excellent EROI of proper insulation, and EROI calculations are fine.

None of that means that it will be easy getting there, but high EROI alternatives are at hand.

then you have multiplied the EROI by around 50.

I agree that nuclear power has very large energy return, but it includes the whole infrastructure. If you focus only on the ore reclamation currently nuclear power has an energy return of 500 based on the Rossing mine data. When you account for plant lifetime, energy cost of the plant, enrichment and so on, you come down to some energy return number of 20-60 which wont change even if your ore is free. The biggest energy saver in the nuclear fuel cycle would be the elimination of enrichment requirements.

However, you're shortchanging the benifits of using a molten salt regime. It doesn't use 1/50th the ore, it uses 1/200th, and it can thorium which is three times as abundant as uranium, giving you a resource base 800 times larger than light water reactors with a waste output less than 1/1000th of light water reactors with a half life of the waste of 30 years as opposed to tens of thousands. These are huge political advantages.

In spite of these big numbers, they don't particularly affect the bottom line much. Fluid fuel reactors are likely to be competitive because of low pressure operation, no fuel fabrication requirements, high power density, and greater options for scalability at different power regimes.

From everything I've read, molten salt thorium reactors have many benefits as you've described: close to 100% burn-up, scalability, proliferation resistance, on-line reprosessing with disposal of fission fragments only (short half-life). Scalability means the potential to exploit economies of scale using mass production of standardized designs. Furthermore, they have very high specific energy, i.e. power output per ton of steel/concrete of plant equipment, which will be very important in our coming age of scarcity.

This could be the basis of a "World Reactor Design."

Lets get to work on this!

I get the impression that this thorium stuff is not weapons grade stuff. If so, wouldn't it be perfect for marine applications, panamax ships and the like?

Alan from the islands

Agreed that there is no one replacement for crude oil; it is a wonderful substance that does many things. But each of those things can be substituted for, if not all by the same method. Crude moves cars down the road, this can be done with electricity. Crude flies planes, this can be done with CTL. Crude moves freight, this can be done lots of ways.

I'm not saying that it would be easy to price things appropriately. This is an extremely difficult calculation, but we could at least try to move in that direction, having that as our goal. If the cost of the war in Iraq were priced into crude, rather than borrowed/taxed from income.

Right now, if my dad works an hour of overtime (he's about the last person I know who still gets overtime pay), the government charges him about $12. However, his working that hour didn't cost the government anything (or at least less than $12). If he buys a gallon of gas, the gov charges $0.18, where as it costs them god knows how much for defense, state dept, EPA etc.

That is, no other product can even come close to the EROEI of crude oil and natural gas.

Actually Ron I do not remember your exact words, but even you admitted that if something say like Bussard Fusion became a reality, it would "change everything." Speaking of Dr. Nebel the Scientist who replaced the late Dr. Bussard dropped this little exciting nugget recently:

1. We're getting data.

2. We might as well build the next one in that size range

Source: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/7/1/203528/4445

Actually Ron I do not remember your exact words, but even you admitted that if something say like Bussard Fusion became a reality, it would "change everything.

Actually Anti, I don't remember saying any such thing. I am remember very well the 1960s when fusion energy was "just around the corner" and occasionally "within ten to twenty years". Now I am hearing "perhaps in 50 years". Well, I seriously doubt it.

Every possible way to produce fusion energy has been tried, all with negative results. I remember just a couple of years ago when blasting little packets of frozen hydrogen with lasers was supposed to do the trick. What happened to that? At any rate Anti, if you are putting your money on fusion energy, you will very likely have a very long wait.

Ron Patterson


Anti, when Bussard Fusion becomes a reality then I agree with you. Unfortunately I suspect when that day comes we will all be dead.

I am fair, so I did include that you didn't think it would happen in time, but you did say that if it did happen soon, then you felt that Fusion could be a replacement.

You're right Ron. My gut tells me that fusion is never going to happen. Far too high tech and far too much resources required just to do research. Plus when we fuse atoms of one element to form another element we will start depleting reserves of that fuel and if we remember Prof Bartlet we realize that, at some stage, we will face depletion.

I now realize why ancient people worshiped the sun and built monuments like Stonehenge in pursuit of their worship. The sun is and shall ever be, the source of sustenance for life on earth. When all the FF are gone, we will have to look to the sun again for most of our energy and I think that most of it will not be from high tech sources, like PV, in the long term. Think passive solar, CSP and biofuels. Get used to it!

Alan from the islands

Oh c'mon Alan!
I don't personally think the type of fusion that is being attempted by ITER will work commercially, but you are really stretching going for fuel running out with fusion!

The sun 'depletes' at some stage too, everything does.

If a deuterium reaction was got going, then supplies are good for a few billion years, longer than the time that it will take for the sun to burn off all life on earth, most probably.

These kind of 'ultimate' arguments drive me nuts - in the long run, we are all dead, so why worry?
Before someone starts in with 'what about the children' stuff, in the long run they will die too, so for me doing something practical that sees us through the next hundred years, and thousands maybe, is good enough.

Nuclear fission, with some useful help form solar, will do it very nicely if we just get on and build the damn things.

I brought up depletion because nuclear fission was once held up as the silver bullet, as if we could never run out of uranium. It seems our insatiable thirst for energy has changed that and some people now talk about Peak Uranium. I take your word for it that, the human race will never have to worry about Peak Deuterium but, neither will we have to worry about peak sunshine.

so for me doing something practical that sees us through the next hundred years, and thousands maybe, is good enough

Here's where we differ. I don't think it's going to be possible to finish the fusion experiment in an era of declining energy resources, making it not practical. If we don't finish it now, when are we going to finish it, when we've figured out how to harness the energy of that big fusion reactor in the sky?

On the other hand I'm not saying I think our future is going to look anything like the pre industrial revolution past. We have learned some tricks that will allow us to maintain a much higher energy future than the pre FF era. I don't think we are remotely close to Peak Solar Energy use. Of course this is just my gut feeling.

Alan from the islands

Some people (I do not mean you) who have an almost religious dislike of nuclear power have indeed put around figures which purport to indicate that there would be great problems with uranium shortage.
They are mostly based on Storm and Smiths quite ludicrous misrepresentations - for a discussion see here:
Nuclear Power Education - Energy Lifecycle of Nuclear Power

All this ignores the fact that thorium does just fine as an energy source anyway, and that is around four times as abundant, or the fact that molten salt reactors would use the resource of thorium around 200 times as efficiently as present reactors - just reprocessing as the French do would mean that you got four times the energy, but uranium is so cheap that it is not realy economic to bother.

I've got nothing at all against using solar energy where practicable, but for baseload and in northern latitudes nuclear power is the practical alternative to coal.
Far fetched 'concerns' about running out of fissionable materials are an attempt at obfuscation.

We need all the energy sources we have, and should use them according to practicality and cost in different areas.

Such theorising already means that we are bound to run short of energy here in the UK in a few years, and things are going to get very cold.
I am afraid I am entirely out of patience with such theoretical obstructionism, which aside form the many who will die of hypothermia very soon has already caused heavy coal burn in Germany,with attendant CO2 emissions, as all the money spent on renewables currently only supplies a fraction of the needed power.

I was in th UK for 14 weeks last year and do agree that solar would make very little sense when energy use is highest, in the winter. I must admit, when I am here suffering in the heat, I sometimes forget what it's like in the northern latitudes. The UK seems to have very limited options.

Alan from the islands

Here is what seems to me the definitive evaluation of renewables for the UK:
Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air (withouthotair.com)

They might help, but they can't do the job, and unless you are talking about specialist off-grid applications solar PV is frankly nuts for what it costs at this latitude.

Off shore wind looks like costing at least £10/watt of actual average energy generated, which is hugely more than nuclear, and if the wind drops in a cold snap in February may be unavailable.

So far the fantasies of renewable power that Labour have been indulging themselves in for the last ten years do not look like keeping us very warm.

Nuclear power may have risks in theory.
In practise the failure to deploy it is certain to kill a lot of people.

This may sound stupid and/or crazy, but I've always wondered about uncontolled fusion (H-bombs). Set aside any envionmental concerns (which I think will happen soon enough). What happens if you detonate an H bomb in something underground like a salt cavern full of water. Can you do something like modified geothermal or run a steam turbine at the surface or something? Would the efficiency just be so terrible that you end up wasting the excess energy liberated by the fusion cycle vs. just using the fission trigger in a conventional nuclear plant? It just seems like we can make some pretty big H-bombs that release a whole lot of energy, with relatively little fission as a trigger. I think I've read that over 99% of the energy released by a high yield H-bomb is fusion, which would be a hundred fold return on the fission "investment". Anyone out there even in a position to hazard a guess? Just a wild-ass idea I've always harbored.

Lunacy. Complete, utter, florid, psychotic lunacy.

Sorry. At least you're thinking outside the box! ;-)

We have a perfectly good, very stable and dependable fusion reactor up and running, and it's just where you want it - 93 million miles away. Good for several more billion years. Perfect!

Ha, ha. Actually the voices tell me it's an excellent idea... (but they say you might be screwed, so get your own H-bombs!)

The voices tell me all kinds of things... unfortunately, they contradict themselves all the time. I don't know WHO to believe anymore... :-)

I do seem to recall that way back during the bombmaking heyday, there was a proposal to generate power like that. I think the idea has every month or so you'd drop down another bomb.

They actually did one blast/test, where they used the underground cavern created by the blast, and the cracked rock around it to liberate NG. But the NG had too many radioactive contaminates to be commercial.

I brought up depletion because nuclear fission was once held up as the silver bullet, as if we could never run out of uranium. It seems our insatiable thirst for energy has changed that and some people now talk about Peak Uranium.

No one that understands it. Uranium has a log normal distribution and a total resource base of 40 trillion tonnes. Thorium is also fissionable, and has a total resource base of 120 trillion tonnes. In liquid fluoride reactors, if you burned this resource base as fast as possible, meaning as fast as you could without melting the planet from the waste heat or 10000 times more energy than all of civilization uses, it would last millions of years.

Here's where we differ. I don't think it's going to be possible to finish the fusion experiment in an era of declining energy resources, making it not practical. If we don't finish it now, when are we going to finish it, when we've figured out how to harness the energy of that big fusion reactor in the sky?

Why would we be in any era of declining energy resources?

Gentle cough!
Stonehenge is a primitive calendar so that they could know when to plant their crops.

That's one big @$$ primitive calendar!!! I was just going off some speculation I saw on a program on the Nat Geo channel. I did see a headline recently that someone had figured out the purpose for Stonehenge but I didn't get around to reading it. My bad. IIRC the tv program I watched did highlight the importance of the sun and the seasons to the early largely agrarian civilization that built Stonehenge.

Alan from the islands

I'd be willing to take a bet that we already have fusion. Black project. Already achieved. Ain't that a kick? Now how long til it is allowed to be deployed? Best news we'll have. Ever.

It would seem highly unlikely that Robert Hirsch wouldn't know about it if we did. And he's not expecting practical fusion in time.

That is ridiculous postured pessimism, Ron. Sorry for being so direct, but occasionally it is required. It may not be popular here and clearly doesn't fit the dearest wishes of several, but there is no reason to predict total doom simply because petroleum production goes into gradual decline. (It is blindingly obvious for econonic reasons to predict that the people "inside" the industry who have the actual information and make investment decisions in things like refineries, pipelines and tankers etc. will stop investing and thus create shortages well before an actual forced decline, in order to make sure they can recapture the capital invested in their refineries, pipelines and tankers. That's just simple econ101. What you're seeing now is the "created shortages", the decline will be much more gradual than most here predict.)

The BLINDINGLY obvious replacement for liquid petroleum is electric batteries. Electricity is presently generated and retailed by nuclear facilities, and hopefully in the near future by comparable solar capacity, at 1/10th the price-per-kwh of gasoline. No further developments of battery technology are required. All that's necessary is a painful re-structuring of the transport vehicle industry to shift the majority of personal transport off gas and diesel to PHEV's, and some serious extensions to computer intelligence to the electric grid system so that every customer can also become a supplier in direct and equal competition with the big central guys (modification of a few regulations, systems already designed and published and passed criticism, google IMEUC).

It's going to be a painful transition, esp. for smallish investors who lived on their stock portfolios, but otherwise there's no need to commit suicide.

And I am NOT a cornucopian, I've been a Cassandra on this for a long time and have now invested my entire personal net worth in prototyping a new low-temperature solar-powered engine-generator, just going into testing.

near future by comparable solar capacity, at 1/10th the price-per-kwh of gasoline,

Absolute optimal case IMO is thin film sees cost/KWH parity with liquid fuel not before 2015.
1/10th not a chance. Forget current polycrystalline as silicon prices are perilous and thin film uses far less. And that is me being optimistic here!

Worst case scenario is we can't even manufacture solar cells due to (ironically) energy problems.


That is ridiculous postured pessimism, Ron. Sorry for being so direct, but occasionally it is required.... snip

The BLINDINGLY obvious replacement for liquid petroleum is electric batteries.

Lengold, I am truly pessimistic when contemplating the future of the human race. And to posture simply means to take a position. But I believe there is nothing ridiculous about my position.

However, the idea that batteries can replace liquid petroleum is truly absurd. I don't think ships or airplanes will ever float or fly on batteries. Asphalt will never be created with batteries. And batteries require plastics, they cannot create it. And battery powered farm equipment? I would have to see that.

But these BLINDINGLY obvious shortfalls of batteries are not the whole story. 80 percent of electricity is generated with fossil fuels. Some of this can be replaced with wind and solar but not nearly as much as we are using today. Then there is the little thing called EROEI. I understand that most people simply do not get the connection. About 100 years ago the EROEI on oil was in the area of 100 to 1. Now most old oil is still well over 20 to 1. New deep sea oil and tar sands oil is much lower however.

Batteries are very expensive to build and maintain. Ditto for solar and wind power to charge those batteries. You can expect a very low EROEI, likely 2 to 1 at best. Now I know you probably do not understand what this would means but animal power from horses and mules has a better EROEI. It would mean the collapse of our economy even if we could convert to batteries.

All that being said you might like to read a couple of folks who agree with me.
This was posted yesterday: The End Of Civilization

And this is my very favorite:

Energy and Human Evolution by Dr. David Price

Ron Patterson

To me this is not the right way to look at substitution.

Yes, electric power may never fly a plane. Buy there are alternatives to doing the stuff that planes do. You can have intercontinental travel and war without planes, it's just not as much fun, and takes longer.

As far as asphalt, if you aren't driving big trucks around all the time, you can do with a lot less of it, and can substitute gravel and concrete.

Decreasing EROEI just means that energy will become dearer, and we won't be able to waste nearly as much. I guess that is the whole point of this blog, to figure out how to feed people without wasting so much energy. If we were only using oil for plastics and pharmaceuticals, we won't run out for a VERY long time.

Ron, whilst it is now clear that there will not be any smooth or easy transition, some of your statements about possible energy sources omit most of the best approaches to supplying power.

Ships can use both wind, likely as kites, much more efficient than sails, and solar.
Here is the current state of play for shipping assisted by kites:

For aeroplanes I agree with you, and only very expensive flights will be available for the foreseeable future.

Asphalt can be substituted by concrete, and low road traffic together with most freight going by rail or water would mean that only a fraction of the present road system would need maintaining.

Coal can also provide plastics, or they can be made from biomass.
Agricultural machinery can also reasonably use bio-fuels - biogas is much more efficient than ethanol, and the production of it would be local.

Without re-iterating arguments I made upthread on the very high EROI of nuclear power - for instance just re-processing as the French do would multiply it by around 4 - the statement that you only get an EROI of up to 2 form solar is just plain inaccurate.
Thin-film solar technologies repay their energy costs in very short order.

We are in deep doo-doo, but there is no need to imagine it as worse than it is.
As Laura Ingalls-Wilder's mother remarked in one of the 'Little House On The Prairie' books: 'There is no great loss without some small blessing'

And on the frontier as that time. people were familiar with loss and suffering.
We are going to need some of that pioneer spirit.

"Sky sails" can help a little bit with reducing the energy cost of a diesel powered ship. They simply won't do as a sole source of motive power. As for solar power, you'd need massive battery banks on a ship to store up solar power. Ships often go long periods without sunlight, and a ship simply can never be without some kind of propulsion.

IMO, the optimists on this thread are grossly underestimating the hurdles involved in moving off oil. Certainly, some mitigation will happen. But to think all we have to do is crank up some nuclear reactors, roll out some solar panels, and make everything battery powered is too pollyanna-ish for words.

"Sky sails" can help a little bit with reducing the energy cost of a diesel powered ship.

skysail+simply slowing down=probably a 25-50% decrease in the amount of oil used. that's big savings. who knows what kind of ships or engines they'll design?

It would be nice if your replies to my comments had some bearing on what I actually said, instead of an imaginary construct of your own.
What part of 'assisting shipping with wind' did you not understand?
We are not going to run out of all fossil fuels for a while yet.

My primary reason for the post was to correct grossly erroneous low estimates of EROI for solar and nuclear, and name some other alternatives which had not been considered for other uses.

Since you only detailed rebuttal was to correct something that I had not argued in the first place and I specifically stated that grave difficulties lay ahead so accusations of Polyanna thinking are also grossly inaccurate I find your overall appreciation of risk of limited interest, as your judgements seem to be entirely founded on mistaking the argument.

It would be nice if your replies to my comments had some bearing on what I actually said, instead of an imaginary construct of your own.
What part of 'assisting shipping with wind' did you not understand?
We are not going to run out of all fossil fuels for a while yet.

I don't know what imaginary construct you're talking about I just simply put into context how much sail+slowing down would yield in fuel savings. is there a problem with that?

My reply was to Shargash, not you, as you would have seen had you looked at the indentation.

Come on Shargash.Read some maritime history.Sail was used exclusively for world trade right up till about the mid 19th century and survived well into the 20th.The Germans were using 5 masted steel vessels of about 5000 tons right up to the 1st World War in the nitrate trade from Chile to Europe and the grain trade from Australia. They were crewed by about 20 men using machinery to handle the heavy sails and running rigging.
With modern technology and materials I am sure we could better the performance of these ships.
It certainly won't be at the level of huge container ships and bulk carriers but with the inevitable downsizeing we won't be needing so many of these vessels anyway.
I can also see nuclear power being used in merchant vessels provided the silly prejudices against this can be overcome.Right on,Dave Mart.

I suspect a dichotomy.

Larger powered ships use less power/ton as they get larger (it may be by the square/cube law, but I am not sure).

It appears that 4,000 to 5,000 ton 5 mast schooner rigged sailing ships are optimum for sailing ships (7 masts too many, 6 masts not as good as five is what the decided at the time). Tonnage came from mast and sail size that was practical then. Modern materials may result in an 8,000 or 11,000 ton 5 masted schooner.

The post-2014 Panamax container ship can carry 12,000 20' containers, about 160,000 tons, large enough for nuclear power. Perhaps one reactor and a FF backup to limp into port with if it breaks down. Would sail assist make sense for a nuke powered ship ?

Post-2010 Suezmax is definitely big enough for nukes (dual reactors ?) and anything bigger will be as well. Suezmax is @ 150,000 tons today and soon larger (2 more meters draft I believe, no restrictions on length and 70 m on width).

Some oil will still be transported by ship, as well as food of many types, bauxite, iron ore, steel and manufactured goods.

One can speculate about many new trade patterns, and which cargoes will go by sail and which by nukes.

Bananas from Honduras and coffee from Columbia by sail to New Orleans and railed from there ?

A 12,000 TEU nuke container ship (filled with goods collected by rail from Argentina and Chile, including out of season fruit that is refrigerated en route) leaves Valparaiso Chile, transits the Panama Canal and docks in New Orleans for rail distribution across the USA and Canada east of the Rockies.

If a cargo of 160,000 tons can be gathered together for transit from A to B, I can see nuke. The economics of a larger, faster vessel are compelling. Smaller and not time sensitive cargoes by sail.

Cuba and Jamaica get oil from Venezuela by sail ?

Coffee by a mix of container nuke ships and sail ? Sugar ?

Lots of speculation for two ship types that are not currently sailing the seas. But I can see both post-Peak Oil.

Best Hopes for Ocean Shipping,


If you have an oil powered ship, you could still supplement it with wind/solar. When there is sun/wind available you don't try to store it, just try to make as much speed as the power/traction allows. Then when you don't have the interrmittent form(s) of power available, you can choose what speed is worth the oil consumption to go. In the worst case, you only burn the oil in an emergency -say you need to get out of the path of a hurricane, otherwise you simply wait for wind/sun to be available. It's really just a matter of the cost tradeoffs, how much time are you willing to waste in order to save X amount of oil. Clearly the tradeoff changes as the price of fuel rises, and/or the value of time changes.

For aeroplanes I agree with you, and only very expensive flights will be available for the foreseeable future.

I saw somewhere that at current (a month or two ago price) fuel was only something like 27% of the cost of a flight. Now replace .85mach jet, with .5 or .6 mach turboprop at about twice the efficiency. We can then absorb a several fold oil price increase for a doubling of ticket price. And with severalfold increase in oil price, between conservation, and probably eventually some sort of biosourced fuel (in limited quantities) should be available. I don't see flying going away, but becoming more expensive and less common.

Perhaps the increased cost of liquid fuels will fianlly enable a comeback of the Airship, eg. Hindenburg. Certainly a more civilized way to travel long distances. Probably not though, powering curent-technolgy aircraft with liquid hydrogen is just too easy and cheap (relatively).

That 100:1, even 50:1 eroei stuff was so much like "free" energy that it enabled the boom of the last 100-150 years. It allowed us to in essence suspend the laws of thermodynamics. As we slide down the eroei scale energy gets(I want to say nearly infinitely more expensive but at even 10 or 15:1 the return is still very good but not "free" anymore) exponentially more expensive.

The laws of thermodynamics will not be denied.

Some of this can be replaced with wind and solar but not nearly as much as we are using today.

The US Department of Energy appears to disagree with you.

Their study says that not only could the USA generate 20% of its electricity from wind by 2030, it would result in only a tiny increase in cost, even before accounting for externalities (e.g., lower health costs from less coal pollution), and there are no plausible resource constraints (e.g., it would require only a tiny fraction of the world's steel).

You might argue that 20% is "not nearly as much", but that's only a rather modest goal for only one generation source. The numbers they give suggest that a significantly larger fraction would be achievable, and indeed much more ambitious plans have been presented in detail for other energy sources (solar, in this case).

So if your position is that none of these detailed plans from smart people are feasible, it would be useful to demonstrate exactly why they're not.

Ditto for solar and wind power to charge those batteries. You can expect a very low EROEI, likely 2 to 1 at best.

No wonder you're so pessimistic - you're reasoning based on incorrect information!

EROEI for wind is 20-25; you may have missed it when it was discussed on TOD.

I don't mean to rain on your parade but there is no such replacement. That is, no other product can even come close to the EROEI of crude oil and natural gas.

we can use electricity to power cars.

John1.5 said-"we can use electricity to power cars."

Yes and also use electricity to power;

home heat for tens of millions
everything else

all at the same time as electrical generating capability will be hitting the same PO limits.

Try and look at the big picture please.

all at the same time as electrical generating capability will be hitting the same PO limits.

Try and look at the big picture please.

I am. right now cars is the thing and we can make the before things like coal and etc. start peaking. there is always conservation and DIY solutions.

all at the same time as electrical generating capability will be hitting the same PO limits.

Very little electricity in the West is generated via oil, so peak oil is largely irrelevant to generation.

Projected decline rates (e.g., ASPO's) show tens of millions of barrels of oil per day available for decades to come, meaning oil will be available for critical functions such as grid maintenance, meaning peak oil is at most a minor cost increase to the medium-term future of the electrical grid.

Accordingly, what exactly are the "PO limits" you suggest will be impacting electrical generating capacity?


Keep in mind also that electric cars are enormously more efficient than oil-burning cars. Burning gasoline in a power plant to make electricity to send to a house to charge a battery to drive an EV will get you about twice as many miles as putting that gasoline directly into the tank of an otherwise-identical car with an internal combustion engine. There's a fairly good discussion of well-to-wheels efficiency here, although it's a touch specific in places.

The corollary, of course, is that non-fossil electricity, such as nuclear, solar, wind, etc., is vastly more efficient for powering cars than gasoline on a per-btu basis.

At 0.25kWh/mi for an electric car (above) vs. 20 miles from 40kWh in a gallon of gasoline, the electric version uses about 1/8th the energy of the gasoline version, meaning that using 1% of the 4,000TWh produced yearly in the US would allow electric cars to log 40TWh / 0.25kWh = 160 billion miles, or about 500 miles per resident of the USA. Replacing oil-burning cars with electric cars, then, would require anywhere from 25% of the current generation of the US grid (12,000 miles per person) to 10% (if Americans drove like Europeans).

Given the enormous amount of coal in the US, not to mention how perfect vast fleets of batteries are for soaking up wind or solar power, finding enough electricity for a hypothetical fleet of electric cars is the least of the US's oil-related concerns.

I agree.

Energy is Money.

Handing out free hydrogen would have about the same effect as free money; it would encourage inapprpriate consumption, inefficient technologies, and overpopulation. About the only thing it wouldn't cause is inflation.

The closed-loop economy is going to be very different from the fossil fuel economy, in ways we can't yet predict. Imposing consumption on it at the outset is a bad idea and only makes the transition worse.

Fear not. Our wise leaders have spoken (if you're in the UK that is).

We must end our oil dependency, says chancellor

Chancellor Alistair Darling today warned that the UK must become less dependent on oil by replacing nuclear power stations and investing in renewable energy, as he described the soaring cost of crude as a "huge threat" to the economy.

The warning came as oil jumped to fresh record levels, threatening to push inflation higher and bring more pain to consumers and businesses.

Speaking in London this morning, Darling said high oil prices are feeding inflationary pressures in Britain and around the world, and called for a rise in production as well as a raft of measures to lessen Britain's dependence on oil.

That's right. We need more oil to reduce our dependence.

If only energy were as cheap as talk, all our problems would be solved.

Eurozone rates increase to 4.25%

Meanwhile, the dollar had sunk to a two-month low against the euro.

Elsewhere in Europe, Sweden's central bank also put its main lending rate up to 4.5% from 4.25% in a bid to combat inflation.
"Inflation has risen substantially and is at its highest level since the mid-1990s," the Swedish Riksbank said in a statement.
It also signalled that more interest rate rises could be on their way if world oil and food prices continued to rise.


Everyone had been expecting this rise, but still the dollar gained more than 2 cents against the euro. I don't understand financial markets.

There is a good chance that a large number of people in the Northeast could die this winter. Some may say this is nonsense, but I have lived in New York all of my life and I've seen it happen before in times where snowfall made oil deliveries difficult, or people fell so far behind in heating bills they were cut off from further supplies. In New York, the only people exempt from this action are families with children.

The cost of home heating fuel has now reached epic proportions, perhaps not for the well to do, but for the vast majority of Northeasterners earning less thatn $10.00 per hour or the elderly receiving a token SS benefit, the situation will be dire, indeed. Kerosene is now $5.00 a gallon, over a 40% jump since spring ended, keeping pace with diesel fuel with, in my particular area, was $5.05 a gallon when crude was still $130.00 a barrel.

Yet, knowing this, all I here on the internet is lip service. All I see from politicians are attempts to push the severity of this situation under the rug by giving a few sound bites to make it look as if they are doing something about it. Well, they better get off their asses and start earning the money they take from us every year in taxation, because this situation could wind up being a can of worms that will be far worse than their wildest nightmare.

We have only three and a half months left before the temperatures drop to a point where home heating fuels will be necessary. It's one thing not to be able to fill your car up with gasoline every week, it's quite another not to be able to keep your children warm during a cold winter. Unfortunately, many of us have tried to switch to lower cost fuels, but we find ourselves being steered from one blind alleyway into another. You drop #2 fuel oil and go to natural gas, the price increases become proportional; go to wood, the price skyrockets, try to switch to electricity and you risk the grid coming down when it can no longer handle the strain of so many new customers incorporating electric baseboard heaters, and so on, and so forth.

If a rebellion is going to start in this nation, there is a good chance it will be initiated in the Northeast States unless State and Federal agencies get their act together on this matter rather quickly. While HEAP was a welcome relief to many for the past few years, it will take far more than that to quell the savage beast in the winter of 2008/2009 if the price of crude oil, natural gas, and even wood chips keep rising. Keep in mind, our national economy is starting to tank. Thus, further deficit spending on the part of Washington to increase HEAP levels will not go over very well with the general public, particularly in a presidential election year. As a result, many politicians will try to postpone action until after the general election in November. If we have a cold, early winter, November will be too late for many of us. Temperatures below zero are unusual for the end of October, but not unheard of, particularly in the North country.

Some people on the internet seem to think this problem is insignificant, being under the impression that something will be done about it eventually, but consider this. If you, and your family lived in Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, or any other State that exists in the snowbelt, would you be willing to let the future of your family dangle on governmental action that 'might' happen, perhaps in as little as a week before disaster struck? I don't think so, not if you care for them. Keep in mind, this is not like a normal situation where there may be alternatives. In this situation, if the government fails to act, alternatives are a moot point. Children can't go home to mama when they can't heat their home, because mama is freezing to death in her chair, and in New York State you can't even drag a dead tree out of a public forest without going to jail and paying an enormous fine. Real life doesn't emulate hollywood. The calvary doesn't always arrive on time?

If our politicians and appointed public officials wind up leading families in these areas into hell through their incessant bullshit rhetoric, then they had better remember that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and lady liberty will do whatever is necesary to take care of the problem effectively, and the results won't be pretty. They could, very well, affect the entire future of this nation, something everyone should be interested in.

Well, I've had my say. I only registered on this blog to air my opinion. I, most likely, will never enter anymore.

Back in the old days before central heating, not all rooms of a house were heated. Oftentimes you had a warmer central room, and other rooms were cooler.

Remember the old nightcaps (the thing you wear, not the thing you drink)? In that era, bedrooms weren't as warm as they were today, and the caps were designed to keep the head warmer.

Remember the canopy beds? They were initially designed for a purpose and not for aesthetics. They were used to try and contain the warmth.

Most people have forgotten about this sort of thing, but in the long run, these things could help to reduce energy use. Personally I am a fan of electric blankets as it uses far less energy than trying to heat the whole house up to 70 degrees.

Now on the other hand, a house without any heat whatsoever would get to be far too cold. The pipes would freeze, and people trying to live there would suffer from health problems..

not trying to be snarky here but...one of mankind's greatest inventions, the 0 degree sleeping bag. I have two of them, live in a big city in NM (yes it gets very cold in the desert at night in winter at 5000+ feet), keep my thermostat way low in the winter and unzip and unroll one on the bed over my covers in addition to sleeping in thermals. Cats crawl under as well, and I am way warm. Not a solution to your problem, but it could be a life saver.

Yeah, I have seen these things. If it weren't for the danger of freezing pipes, you could make a case for them. Mornings would be a drag though - get out of bed and try and get a shower..

I don't know what the minimum indoor temperature could be to avoid these issues. You need some safety margin as some pipes are in exterior walls. I guess it depends on the outdoor temperatures...

Is it possible to have separate plumbing zones in a house? In other words in the winter, you just route water to a downstairs bathroom and kitchen, draining the other parts of the system in the fall, and then in spring, open up all the plumbing?

Not saying that this is a viable solution for people already in their houses, just wondering if it could be designed.

Yeah, I have seen these things. If it weren't for the danger of freezing pipes, you could make a case for them. Mornings would be a drag though - get out of bed and try and get a shower..

I don't know what the minimum indoor temperature could be to avoid these issues. You need some safety margin as some pipes are in exterior walls. I guess it depends on the outdoor temperatures...

This won't help if you are on well water i.e. need an electric pump to keep water flowing, but if not, in the event of loss of heat in the winter moving water resists freezing, so keeping taps open at just a "dribble" will often prevent freezing and bursting.

Most toilet tank fill valves have a fine tuning adjustment screw which can be tweeked (or you can bend the arm to which the float is connected) to keep a small constant flow of water through the toilet for the same purpose.

Obviously a wasteful solution, but better than busted pipes in an emergency without having to shut off and drain the whole house...

Not to be snarky either, but there's also electric blankets. With about 120W you can keep two people warm with no heat in freezing weather. I may live in sunny California, but I had to use one for the one week of freezing weather we get every winter. My apartment only has weak electric space heaters. They probably use 1000W and can't heat up one room when it's freezing outside.

Getting out of bed in the morning is no fun, but it sure beats the inconvenience of freezing to death or going broke paying for heating oil.

The best bet is to simplify the piping system.
If you can't afford to put heat in them, no point in having radiators in the system, or extra bathrooms.

Cut them off and drain the pipes, then lag what remains very well.
For windows you can buy bubble-film like plastic used in greenhouses, and tack that up for the winter.
For the walls buy sealed rolls of insulating material, and tack them to the walls until you can afford to have a new layer of plasterboard fitted..

Even if you have to sacrifice a bedroom to do it, put at least 250mm of insulation above your 'warm room'
For cooking use microwave, slow cookers or an induction plate.

You should be able to keep the place heated just with your minimal cooking and the TV on.

Another solution to cold houses: everyone in the family sleep together in one little room. A tiny electric heater should surfice even if it's below freezing. The more people, the warmer it gets. The rest of the house is left cold. (Cats always come in to sleep in this one heated room, they DO NOT close the sliding door which they open with their tiny paws!)

During the day, wear lots of sweaters and even a hat inside. Cook stew. Drink hot tea. Wear thick socks. Stay active. You won't even think about the cold. You might come to like it.

For five years I lived in a 100 year old Japanese farmhouse (uninsulated) in a region where it often snowed. Inside, I had little gloves that covered my hands and left my fingers free. Yet I really adored this house and now that I live with insulation in a modern dwelling, actually I miss the natural cold feeling of existing with nature in winter.

Hi pi,

Whilst most of us could adapt to living at much lower temperatures, the elderly and infirm may have a tougher go of it. Prior to starting my high blood pressure medication, I was very comfortable at 15C/59F wearing just a golf shirt, 13C/55F in long sleeves and 10C/50F in a sweater. The first winter on blood thinners, I kept the thermostat at 25C and constantly complained about the cold (meanwhile, my partner, the supportive soul that he is, is shouting "hallelujah, we have heat!"). I'm a lot better now, but that experience opened my eyes.


We replaced our old galvanized and copper pipes with PEX...it may freeze solid this winter, but it won't break!

Keep poison handy - plastic pipes get gnawed through by rodents more easily.

Have to be some rodent to gnaw through 1 inch pex! Have you seen this stuff?

Yep. I've installed it. I prefer copper, but then again I can solder - the plastic is easier to install.
You would be surprised what rodents can do. Check with a plumber - that is where I got the info.

"The calvary doesn't always arrive on time?" - I love unintentional double-entendre's.

Where's that Hannukah oil when you really need it?

Stick around, Portals. Drive bys are fine, but a good chat is much less lonely.


Great comment jokuhl. But, what perecnt of the readers understand the difference between "the cavalry" and "calvary?" I think not many.

There's probably a comment somewhere about Custer getting his crosses wired...but it eludes me :-)

On topic, we're looking at fitting a solid fuel cooker/water heater (Rayburn) in our 1930's-built house in the UK as a secondary to the main gas direct hot water and central heating system, as the gas system will go down when electricity outages stop the pump (or when the gas goes off completely when the UK gets its "OK, let's see who REALLY won the Cold War" moment).

The Rayburn will replace a woodburner in the kitchen, which we'll move to another room that currently has a gas flame effect fire that I put in before become PO Aware (darn, darn, darn).

Not perfect but it will give us one warm room and, unlike the woodburner, allow us to cook and heat some water.

Jesus was crucified on c a l v a r y because the c a v a l r y did not arrive in time to save him :)

Calvary - from "calvarius", Latin for "skull". So Calvary sort of means "Place of the Skull".

Portals- Come back again soon. We need to hear these things.

And while I agree and sympathize with heating oil, the exact same things could be said for Natural Gas. That heats my neck of the woods (Wisconsin) and my apartment. We're heading in the same direction as Heating Oil with respect to this... I have 2 small children, 3 and 5 years old, that need a warm house. I can't just toss a wood heater in, or go electric... There are costs. And as for wood, I live in a decent size city and can't just wander off and cut down dead trees for heat. This is a very serious issue... Looking at the past, people used to heat their houses with wood they gathered off of their land (until they found coal). There aren't a whole lot of people with land full of wood anymore... And inversely there are more people. Huge supply and demand problem.

What really sucks is that my kids are growing up in this world. They will open up books and read about the time that their parents could heat their house, when their parents could hop in a car or hop in a plane, when their parents could buy cheap food from across the country or across the world... And wonder why they can't have that, what broke, and how society failed us...

So, yeah, come back... :)

And ending with another of Yergin's delusions...

"A more relevant description would be a plateau in production capacity that might be reached in the fourth or fifth decade of this century." -Daniel Yergin

See, the little boy with the killer boomerang in "The Road Warrior" wasn't bitter at all. He just thought barbarism was natural. It's the ones old enough to remember the comforts who will be cranky for life.

Reference: "The Days of Perky Pat" (novella) by Phillip K. Dick.

At the risk of taking hits due to pointing out a somewhat USA-centric take on energy prices, I might note that here in Canada heating fuel has been in your apocalyptical price range for a long time, and the winters are a LOT colder. Many of us however, still live!!

"If a rebellion is going to start in this nation, there is a good chance it will be initiated in the Northeast States unless State and Federal agencies get their act together on this matter rather quickly. "

Lots of revolutions/civil wars get started by cold or hungry people. That being said, you can blame the NIMBYs in your mist. Those of us in energy producting states feel pretty lucky that we are at the start of the supply line and that energy production is in our backyard.

I'm from Maine orginally and follow events in NE pretty closely even though my mom moved locally last year. Noone up that way seems to understand that energy has to come from somewhere, they are against every proprosal to build anything. I feel really bad for those that will be cold this winter because of your "environmentalist" politicians.

When mom sold her house last year, the biggest attraction was 4acres of dense woods and the wood stove. Some people are understanding it, but I don't think its your politicians whose solution to all problems is raise taxes.

Not sure what you'd suggest building in the NE. Nuclear may help, but has its problems. (Not trying to re-open that debate here now...) Other than that, there isn't a lot we can do here for energy sources. Yes we can and should build solar and wind, but they won't keep us warm in winter. The two things that seem most promising are: wood, and conservation. Wood is being used more and more, and the danger is destruction of the forest. Conservation can include insulation, closing off rooms, and sharing houses. In the long run, new super-insulated houses would not need almost any heating. But we're stuck with old houses and a collapsing economy, that's the real problem, not NIMBYs.

[edit:] Oh, there is one thing we'd love to build around here in Vermont: small-scale hydropower. But federal laws, not NIMBys, are making it impossible. The cost of applying for the needed permits just to add a turbine to an existing small old dam is hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is insanity right up there with the Western version: the recent decision of the BLM to suspend applications for solar power projects on "their" lands.


Been awhile since I've been up that way but atleast in So Maine, everyone is already sharing houses due to economics.

Most of my attention is focused on Maine and Mass due to family & friends, so the recent uproar over Cape Wind and a power plant in Mass (I forget where) sure makes it look like NIMBYism on the part of politicians. People who actually care about the environment deserve some slack, but the politicians sure don't. I don't know if Maine Yankee or Seabrook are still online, but I remember quite a controversy about them when I lived up there. Been a few years though.

Wood can be renewable, you just have to do it right ie cut one, plant two. Yes, its ugly but better than freezing. The new woodstoves can be remarkably clean as well. I sympathize with the economy, its definitly not the late 90s up that way.

We're putting in so many turbines here in Oklahoma that two factories are now in Tulsa. Once an energy state, always an energy state it seems.

Yep, instead of having to put up with the 'dangers' of nuclear, the people in the North-East have been saved, except for the old or poor who will freeze to death or contract hypothermia that is.

If they stop fannying around with the vapours then people there could have an energy source which would keep everyone warm.

It might take a few years, and during that time a lot of people are going to die.
Of course, in practise umpteen have already died from emissions from the coal burn which has taken place instead of nuclear power, so that should be added to the bill for such 'principled' objections.

BLM is backing down and is accepting applications again. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/03/us/03solar.html


Yeah, if only those crazy treehuggers would let us drill New England's abundant fossil fuels.

This comment is ironic because one of the best things politicians could have done, starting 20 or 30 years ago, would have been to RAISE TAXES on gasoline so that demand growth was curtailed. I am astounded by the number of Americans who are just plain fucking stupid.

Logically, the pressure group most likely to take up your cause is the American Association of Retired Persons. Both summer and winter extremes threaten to kill a lot of elderly people. AARP may not be making much money off of anyone that poor, but claiming to selflessly act for a larger cause is a good ideological trick and AARP certainly has power to spare. That AARP news magazine gets into a lot of houses and is a good way of spreading winter preparedness to the slightly senile.

We've been here before. I can remember the energy crisis days of the late 1970s. Back then, even more people in the NE were heating with oil, and the whole nation was really worried about whether there would be enough fuel oil to bring everyone through the winter. It didn't help that we had some super cold winters then, too.

Thanks Portals.

Many folk here use the expression 'demand destruction', well sir, you have humanised this concept, real people are affected.

I wont insult you with words of advice: you know what you must do to survive.

Fare Thee Well

Former resident of Hamilton County NY here. Excellent rant. Few people are aware how cold it gets up there. I remember -52F reported at Old Forge one morning, twenty miles through the woods from my home(-39F in Wells where I resided, according to my thermometer reading). BTW, Old Forge is not infrequently the coldest spot in the lower 48.

Hits -30F at least once or twice every winter. -20F maybe five-ten times. Those are thermometer readings, not wind chills or misery indexes. Lethal cold. Most people have wood stoves, but unless you can gather your own firewood has, not surprisingly, risen quite a bit this year according to mom.

Well, it is certainly true that most people would rather die of the cold, as a result of not being able to feed their 1000-gallons-a-winter stupidly inefficient heating system, than to actually get up off their a$$es and do something different. I've spent many nights camping in subzero temperatures, with no external heating. If you had to, you could make it through the winter with a -20F sleeping bag, which you can buy new for less than $100. If you don't have $100, you could hack something together from blankets or shredded newspaper or what have you. The only real requirement is that it be about 8" thick.

Maybe this winter, people will finally try looking for some new solutions. They might find that they like the new solutions a lot better than the old. For rural upstate New York (where I live), a modest amount (two cords for the winter) of wood is easy to come by. That plus an old (or better yet, a new high-efficiency) woodstove will keep one room very toasty.

Personally, I'm going to spend most of the winter in front of my computer, with the only room heat provided by a 175 watt under-the-desk heat lamp, which will cost a whopping $9 a month for 10 hours per day usage. My bedroom is unheated, but stayed above 50F all last winter due to good insulation (which will improve this winter with the addition of an extra layer of R-38 fiberglass above the ceiling). For me, this isn't even difficult. I suppose other people will have to go through their denial-bargaining-acceptance phases.

In all seriousness, I have bought ultra low temp sleeping bags for everyone in my family. Last year I slept on my back porch one night when it was 10 deg F. Had to unzip the bag in the middle of the night as I was covered in sweat. Cost me less than 300 dollars for 6. I feel comfortable stating my kids will never freeze. Now if only starvation, disease, and mutant zombies were only so easy...

Sort your plumbing out before you switch off the heating.
Kids you can replace, burst pipes are expensive! :-)

I'm re-doing my plumbing this fall so I can control water flow from a main panel to segregate different portions of my house, with valves to allow drainage of the pipes that are in unheated areas. I’ll also heavily insulate the walls separating the back rooms from the front. This way I’ll be able to shut off the heat to a third of the house I’m not using. I installed a setup like this in my building in Chicago so I could lower the heat in unoccupied apartments. Unfortunately I forgot abut the radiator system in one and had it burst during an unexpected sub zero cold snap in early March. What a mess! Had to take apart the radiator and install new sections. Lesson learned

If it were possible for you to document your work in as much detail as possible this would be a real service - this is information which a lot of people could do with and could make a real difference to them.
I don't know whether this site would be the best place to publish it if you were willing to go through the work, but otherwise I would suggest posting it at:
Popular Mechanics

If you save one family from getting their heating cut off, or their children or old folk suffering, then you will have made a great contribution.

Sorry, I see the sleeping bag angle was already covered. Not allowed to edit out my above comment. My mistake for not reading down the whole thread before replying.

I used to winter camp in the mountains. Human powered antarctic expidetions were made in conditions where the warmest day was very much colder than it ever gets in New England. With a little bit of planning most people are able to survive much tougher conditions than you can imagine. Of course some would be unwilling or unable to do what they need to do. But they notion that a large portion of the population will freeze isn't realistic. That doesn't mean people will be happy about it. Since cheap oil isn't going to magically appear -and subsidizing any particular usage simply prices out others, the only effective strategy (near or long term), is a aggressive insulation program.

Agree that most people could make it through without most of the comforts that they think they need, but your Antarctica example doesn't scale to population: elderly, children, pregnant women, etc.

Feel free to air your opinion more often. I bought a Mr. Heater Big Buddy propane heater and have two 5 gallon propane tanks for emergencies (winter blackouts? - due to increased electric load in winter from electric heat and plug in hybrids). Also am getting some electric blankets since their electric usage is relatively low for how well they can keep a person warm.

The drought monitor was updated this morning:


and the southeast US has a severe drought again this summer.

Last summer, the water supply for Atlanta ran dangerously low, and while the level has recovered somewhat, it is dropping again:

Here's another chart showing how much worse things are this year than last year:


What boggles my mind is how quickly the panic was forgotten and restrictions were loosened as soon as the level started rising for the winter. It's as if the leaders have no grasp of the fact that water levels are seasonal. Of course these are the same leaders whose previous attempts to address the problem seemed to revolve heavily around petitioning the almighty, so perhaps it is not so surprising.

Just finished watching a copy of a CNN Student news special CNN Presents Classroom: We Were Warned: Tomorrow's Oil Crisis again. I was originally broadcast on January 1, 2007, at about 4:10 a.m. ET. Dotted throughout are fictional reports of a "great energy crisis of 2009". What is scary is that, much of what was proposed as happening in October 2009 looks like it could actually happen a year earlier. They dream t up a terrorists attack on Saudi oil installations while it seems that the neo-cons are dreaming up an attack on Iran. If CNN broadcast that feature today the title would have to say "Today's Oil Crisis"

Sorry, I couldn't find any links to view or purchase the feature. I got my copy through unauthorized sources, which I'm sure I shouldn't even mention here. Those who know them, can use them if they choose.

Got a similar feeling when I recently watched the BBC special from their "If" series, "If... The Oil Runs Out" available om youtube in 6 parts starting with


These people obviously didn't think that,, at these prices things would almost seem BAU, at least to the man in the street!

Alan fron the islands

Oil Surge: Is Key S&P Commodity Index the Cause or Effect?


Mention of the "Peak Oil Crowd" ... still a good discussion of the commodity market

I am getting a little frustrated at the Amero-centrism of almost all the analysis I see on oil. The GSCI is heavily weighted in Nymex. Even if it were driving up crude prices by it's affect on Nymex futures (which I agree it is not), how could it drive up TAPIS or MINAS, when it doesn't own any futures on those exchanges? And if it is just somehow magically pulling up those exchanges, why are futures are those exchanges so much more expensive than Nymex? I can kind-a, sort-a forgive the American in the street for not considering the rest of the world, but there's really no excuse for the ignorance shown by the Richard Suttmeier quoted in the article.

Re: Glenn Beck: Your gas money for a flat screen?

Glenn Beck sounds less and less like a moron. Does this mean I'm going crazy? I pretty much agree with most of what he said.

O'Reilly and Limbaugh make Beck look good.

It just occurred to me that the biggest way I can conserve energy lies not with the house I live in, how many air miles I travel, or what kind of car I drive.

Want to conserve energy and save humanity?

Not to be cute, or funny . . .

Get a vasectomy.

Did! After four kids.

In my defence, at two kids per spouse (I'm slowly getting the hang of this matrimony thing), my branch of the Half Empty clan is technically 0.2 offspring short of population replacement level. My brother's spouses had 1.5 children each (it's complicated), so again a sub-optimal population performance.

We are teaching them all we can about conserving food and energy - in the long run the job of building a sustainable post-fossil-fuel world will fall on their shoulders.

"Get a vasectomy."

Do you really want to leave the world with noone to learn lessons from this age? The only way to really influence the future is to have children and teach them what knowledge we have learned so they don't repeat history.

Not having children means that you don't have a personal investment in humanity surviving, so why are you worried about it? If you just plain don't wan't kids, its understandable but drop the "save humanity" soapbox, there are no selfless motives unless you are a soldier throwing yourself on a grenade. Humanity won't care either way and having to look at your kid will keep you from doing deplorable acts if you're desperate. Not thinking of our children is what got us into this mess.

Consider adoption.

Not thinking of our children is what got us into this mess.

Actually, having children is what got us into this mess. There is no solution without population management.

Actually, having children is what got us into this mess.

"There is no solution without population management."

Population is getting ready to return to managing itself. Until FF, mother nature did just fine, she will again.

North and South America are one of the least populated areas, Asia and Africa are the ones that should be really worried. I think we've been the least "busy" out of all the continents.

Population is getting ready to return to managing itself. Until FF, mother nature did just fine, she will again.

Whenever I hear lines like this, I am amazed. Getting from here to there I guess never means the people likely to be affected will be "my family" or "me" (of the person saying it).

I'd rather use all my Mugambo Guru gold and silver to get 10 other people vasectomies. Me, I'm planning to fill a compound with young-uns. Somebody's got to pull guard duty when I'm old and half demented. Sarcanol off

I think population control will take care of itself post peak. Human populations work the same as all animal populations do: if there are abundant resources the population expands, when resources become more scarce the population declines. As individuals we may be able to control our reproduction, but as a whole population the above statement will always be true. Peak oil and other depleting resources suggest we have reached a precipice and are headed toward an age of less abundance and greater scarcity. World War or a catastrophe are not necessary to reduce population: mortality rates just need to exceed fecundity rates, something that may manifest itself in less optimistic couples having fewer children and life expectancy rates decreasing a few years.

something that may manifest itself in less optimistic couples having fewer children and life expectancy rates decreasing a few years.

As is witnessed here in the tropics, optimism has less to do with it than the level of education. I can never forget the picture of an unskilled laborer on a hotel construction site here in Jamaica, telling the television cameras that he was striking because his casual laborers pay was not enough and that he had to support thirteen children.

If I did some digging I could probably find the data for how many lower income girls have children before they are 20 but AFAIK teenage pregnancies are a big problem here. In the ghettos, it is not uncommon for an unemployed woman in her early twenties to have 2 or 3 kids with 2 or 3 different fathers. Only god knows how they hold things together. I believe a somewhat similar problem also exists in lower income communities in the developed world it's just that they represent a smaller percentage of the total population. People with limited opportunities seem to have difficulty making the link between recreation and procreation;-)

Here's hoping for the enlightenment of the masses.

Alan from the islands

They don't know they're carrying out an evolutionary strategy based on the requirement of high infant mortality rates. They only know custom and culture. When the mortality rate dropped quickly, the customs and culture did not change quickly. The point of custom and culture is that you don't understand why you do the things you do, you just conform to the behavior of those around you, and either your horde beats the other hordes or it is beaten.

If you just plain don't wan't kids, its understandable but drop the "save humanity" soapbox, there are no selfless motives unless you are a soldier throwing yourself on a grenade.

There are few things that sickens me more than the holier-than-thou of (some) parents. In what way does you selfish act of getting children (don't tell me it is for the benefit of mankind!) give you the right to preach to those who choose not to have kids?

This kind of thinking reminds of one time a few years ago when two of Jehovah's witnesses knocked on my door. What commenced was an almost hour-long discussion about faith. I think one of them understood that it is possible to like trees and see the beauty in trees (for some reason trees became the example used) even if you don't believe that trees are created/designed by "God". The other guy couldn't fathom the thought.

(Today's rant over.)

We're not parents, just hopefuls.

BTW, nothing sickens me more than the holier than thou attitude of anyone, regardless of subject. The "save humanity" is just another soapbox. Humanity will be just fine, even if the new beginnings start with what are currently uncontacted tribes in the Amazon after we Git-R-Done.

Funny, I thought God created all things, Darwin just found the method. The two views of life are completely compatible, despite what evangelicals think. Too bad most religions don't recognize that. Even trees are intelligently designed.

Bottom line is that without faith/belief in something greater than yourself, there is nothing to live for. Pretty lonely world.

just hopefuls.

Best of luck (I mean it, I am an uncle of two girls (even though only one is 'human' so far, the other is just one year)). What I mean is that it's a choice and which one is correct is very much individual.

Bottom line is that without faith/belief in something greater than yourself, there is nothing to live for. Pretty lonely world.

Lets agree to disagree :).

Please read,with an open mind,"The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins.
Humanity won't be just fine and the fundamental reason for that is the disconnect between man and nature.Excessive population is a basic part of that.That doesn't mean that we should stop having children.It is just that you can have too much of a good thing.Restraint is needed here,as in all things.
Re your bottom line jrc9596,there is plenty to live for and you don't have to believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden to realize that.

Yes! End of Faith by Sam Harris is good too.

Even trees are intelligently designed.

If Humans (for example) were Intelligently Designed, our eyes wouldn't be upside down, we wouldn't have lower back problems, giving birth wouldn't be so deadly, our knees would probably bend the other way, and our ankles would be more robust.
The only support for the ID argument that I can see is Boobs. ;)

My observation is overall people with kids tend to make the least realistic choices about how to mitigate effects of peak oil (etc.). Something about not being able to conceive their children could possibly have a life just like they expected them to have.

Like a great many people who now know about Peak Oil, I'd had my children before I found out about it, so the question of whether or not to start a family in the face of PO was, for me, moot.

Your sweeping generalisation about people with kids being unable to conceive a different future for their children is frankly ludicrous. We are just as capable as you are of imagining the challenges of living in and adapting to the enormous changes ahead - and we will have to do it while looking out not only for ourselves but also for vulnerable young people who - whether you give a flying f*ck about it or not - will eventually, hopefully, form the post peak society, whatever it may look like, which I guess most of the readers of TOD hope to live in and if possible enjoy.

And what ARE the realistic choices about mitigating the effects of Peak Oil? Deciding its a kinda adults-only thing and tying plastic bags over our kids' heads before it really kicks off? Changing our donations srom Send-A-Cow-To-Africa to Send-A-Cyanide-Tablet?

The bottom line is that Peak Oil + Overpopulation = Total Shite for billions of people. Young, old or in between. At this stage, going around making witless generalisations about parents vs singletons is about as useful as arguing about how many angels you can fit on the head of a pin.

And please don't try to tell me that I'm more to blame than you because I've got children. Charity begins at home - phone your own parents and blame them first. You and I are both only here because some shortsighted morons who, incredibly stupidly, hadn't heard of MK Hubbert at the time, decided to have children.

Rant off

Problem is I think it's pretty likely that having an extended kin structure that will support you and you can trust will be a marked advantage post crash, even if you are pretty poor. That seems to be the case today even in a destitute, near crash place like Gaza. Even Leanan, who has a pretty unbranching lineage, I've heard, wants to get back to Hawaii to have the support of kin. Yeah, everybody would be better off if everybody would stop reproducing, but individually its probably pretty advantagous, so you get a prisoner's dilemma situation. BTW, adopting a high infant mortality pattern may not just be a cultural throwback, maybe it's just be getting a jump on the future.

Well, then I guess you're hardly one of the optimists-despite-evidence I find the far large majority of them to be. I'm sorry I struck a nerve. It sort of struck one in me a few messages up saying "without children or god" there was not much point in living. I certainly don't believe that.

I think we are mostly on the same page. It was not a blame game. It was an observation. Indeed, I don't believe we really shall not mitigate much. But we'll talk about it endlessly, the evidence is certainly in favor of that, isn't it?

But the peak oil folks with children I have observed and was thinking of are really struggling to find ANY way to continue business as usual for as long as possible. I don't know that's the best survival strategy really, it leaves them open to be blindsided a bit more than considering changing the way they live their lives now.

Mind you, people without kids do rationalize behavior away too. Pretty much across the board it happens. That subconscious vs conscious thing.

You had kids before peak oil, quite understandable. What is there to say to someone who understands it is a shit storm starting now but is still choosing to having children right now? I feel sorry for those children. I don't understand that at all.

My own experience with people with kids is that they worry about what will happen to them, and to their kids. I even worry about my own grandkids. Frequently, pre-birth control, like "the pill", people didn't plan to have kids. They were a side effect of another part of human activity. Those people obviously knew nothing about the Zero Population Growth movement back in the 70's, but that was post birth control.

Do you really want to leave the world with noone to learn lessons from this age?

I don't have to have children of my own to leave the world with lessons. Are you telling me you're only willing to pass on stuff to your own spawn, the heck with everyone else? I hope having children doesn't give everyone such a narrow focus. Even though I tend to be fairly pessimistic about human nature, I still have the idea that most people care at least a little about everyone, not just their own.

Posted this in the tail of yesterday's DB. Haven't seen it anywhere else.

U.S. lifts block on solar applications for public land

The federal Bureau of Land Management reversed an earlier decision to turn away new applications for solar energy projects on public lands until May 2010.

Bob (jokuhl) made a call on this in a post in the July 1 drumbeat. ( http://www.theoildrum.com/node/4237#comment-371968 ) I doubt he really thought it would have been reversed this quickly!

Alan from the islands

That is great news, thanks for reporting. I think people were pretty quick to see the BS in this. Now it just remains to be seen how fast they act on processing these applications.

Heh-heh. After seeing that thread and then this, almost makes you think some of TPTB check in here every once in a while.

Ready or not, here comes hurricane season. From Jeff Masters' blog:

Bertha has good organization and a favorable environment for intensification, and should continue to slowly intensify today.

The hurricane season of 2008 sets a new record
Today's formation of Bertha at 25° West longitude is the farthest east a tropical storm has ever formed in the Atlantic so early in the season. It is also the farthest east a tropical storm has formed in the month of July. Reliable records of Eastern Atlantic storms go back to 1967, the beginning of the geostationary satellite era.

Is the formation of Bertha a harbinger of an active hurricane season?
Probably. . . .


Is the significance of it being so far east due to the fact it will have a much greater time to pick up energy?

What is sea suface temperature anomoly like in the Atlantic just now?


Typically in the past...depressions that form that far out will swing north and miss the Gulf of Mexico.

Typically in the past...

We've sure not been having "typical" weather in much of the world this year.

I don't trust anything to go as it has in the past.

I have some mixed emotions about an active hurricane season this year. NC is in its second year of severe drought. What we need is a couple of storms to 'weed wacker' up the coast and dump a significant amount of rain on this parched state.

Is somebody available out there in the US to help me reg. clarification of different measures such as barrel, Liter, Tonnes and gallones?!

1. China is adding in 2008 about 6,6 Mio. new cars on its roads (+17% year over year)

2. India is adding in 2008 about 1,5 Mio. new cars on its roads (+12%)

3. In China (no info reg. India), the average utilisation of a car is 45'000 kilometers per year.

4. I assumed, that the average car in China is consuming 10 Liters per 100 kilometers.

Bottom line: How many barrels of oil are needed for this new carownership per year?


I really have to question your assumption of 45,000 km/year usage of an average car in China. The average for privately owned cars (i.e. sedans) is more on the order of 10,000 km/year. Trucks and buses are another matter.

Many reports on China's vehicle sales mistakenly translate "vehicles" as "cars". The number actually includes large, medium and small trucks, buses, taxis, fleet vehicles, and personal cars.

Based on my research, my rule of thumb is 20,000 b/d of gasoline demand increase for each 1 million cars sold.

Tesla, the North American electric car maker, has announced plans to manufacture an electrically powered four door saloon. Called Model S, the mid-size, Ford Mondeo-scale car is scheduled to go into production in 2010, at a US price of $60,000, or £30,000. That price is considerably less than the $109,000 the company charges for the Tesla Roadster

that's a good development. they almost cut the cost in half. I hope they do it again.

What I find very surprising is that Mercedes is interested in their battery system, which basically uses umpteen laptop-type batteries wired up together.
I would have thought there would be much more efficient ways of doing things.
Anyone got any technical insight into what is going on?

I don't know where they are with their battery. Here is a link to "An Engineering Update on Powertrain 1.5":


A very low-cost and efficient single-speed gearbox mated with a continually improving motor, inverter and battery is the core competency of Tesla’s powertrain team and it is also our roadmap for future vehicles.


We also have a Roadster with a prototype 1.5 powertrain that we are now driving regularly. The higher torque is really phenomenal. I have many hours behind the wheel of the 1.0 powertrain and this is simply much better. The motor torque is improved by a bit more than 30% beyond what was already great and the ¼ mile time for the car is now in the 12.9 second range. The top speed of the vehicle remains over 120 mph.

Here is a quick refresher on what the powertrain 1.5 is and is not:

* An improved inverter (PEM) to deliver higher motor current
* An improved motor to handle higher current and torque
* A new single-speed gearbox
* A new motor to gearbox coupler and an improved motor cable
* Upgraded vehicle firmware
* NO changes to the battery pack


We have significantly reduced the complexity of this gearbox by getting rid of the need for shifting or speed matching between two gear sets. There is only one set of gears that is always engaged with a ratio of (8.2752:1). There are no clutches and we have also done away with the need for an electric oil pump and instead integrated a very efficient gear-driven oil pump into the gearbox. All of these simplifications have saved a great deal of mass and the new gearbox is approximately 45kg instead of 53kg for the old two-speed design.

My take on all this is that an electric car is more than simply wiring up a battery to some motors. That's why I am glad to see different companies tackling it. Tesla seems to be going brute force with the batteries, but doing a very nice job with the rest of the drive train. Other companies may make improvements in battery technology. There is always hope for ultracapacitors (which would also be great for renewable energy storage).

There are still relatively few people who can afford a $60,000 sedan. Maybe electric will always just be more expensive than ICE. Or maybe mass production can bring the unit costs down. If any company can get all the pieces to come together, they may be able to make a go of it.

Since it is the battery system which sounds like the weak point of the Tesla, it is doubly surprising to me that that is supposed to be the bit Mercedes is interested in.

Most of the expense of EV's and hybrids is because at the moment car companies are trying to make something which replicates the performance of ICE cars.

For that you need expensive lithium batteries, which cost around $1,000kwh capacity, so for the 16kwh volt, good for 40miles, you are laying out $16,000 just for the batteries, which you are then putting into a car which has all the present mod-cons of current American cars.

Toyota plans on a 10 mile range for the plug-in Prius, which would do large numbers of Americans if they recharged at work:

But hold on; 29% of commuters apparently require less than ten miles of battery for a round trip, and another 22% would be satisfied with twenty.


People will also reduce their commutes as much as they can, so these percentages should increase over time.

That reduces costs for the lithium batteries to around $4,000, and Toyota hope to reduce costs with mass production to around $500/kwh

Could this cost be reduced further?
The same article indicates that lead/acid is around $160/kwh, and that Firefly advanced lead acid also come in at about this price - they have a long life and far better deep discharge characteristics, and are much lighter too.
That would knock the extra cost down to around $640

Until they became more widely available it would also be possible to use conventional lead-acid in conjunction with capacitors to prevent deep discharge, the bane of lead-acid batteries, although to supply enough power to avoid the deep discharge you might need to have a another couple of kilowatts as well as the cost of the capacitors.
I don't know how much the capacitors cost, but here is an indication of their excellent performance in this configuration:
UltraBattery sets new standard for HEVs (Media Release)

For the lucky folk who still have an income it seems that there is no reason why a fair degree of mobility might not be possible, and since many will not have an income the grid is unlikely to be overloaded.

Since a lot of the mechanicals would be simpler, low range EV's should be well within the price of current cars, and as the article suggests some might include the option to add more batteries and range as funds allowed.
Electric trikes and bikes would be cheaper still.

I think Tesla just takes the A123 batteries, and uses enough of them to be able supply both their desired maximum power, and range requirements. For a plugin hybrid there is a tradeoff battery capacity versus cost. I would hope they would offer the same model with more than a single battery capacity. If you have a short commute, it only makes sense to purchase a small battery. And Dave is right, Li-Ion are probably going to be the no holds bars choice of people with money to burn. Once the improved leadacid batteries become available, I expect them to be used for the econo-plugins. Lower performance/range/heavier battery, but much more affordable.

For that you need expensive lithium batteries, which cost around $1,000kwh capacity, so for the 16kwh volt, good for 40miles, you are laying out $16,000 just for the batteries, which you are then putting into a car which has all the present mod-cons of current American cars.

16kWh will get you about 80 miles to 100% DoD. From what I hear, GM will be limiting discharge to 50% in daily driving, getting us back to the 40 miles you quote.

Some Chinese LiFePO4 manufacturers have quoted as little as US55c/Wh, making $16,000 a 29kWh proposition (if my Maths is correct), good for 145 (72) miles.

I've pointed this out before in a post a few days ago. The technology in the Tesla was liscensed from a small Calfornia outfit called AC Propulsion (link in my post below). They offer a conversion for the previous version of the Scion XB that cost about 50k. They do not mass produce their electronics and can sell the Power Module to DIYers for about 25k

If economies of scale were to be applied maybe this unit, it could be much less expensive. When electric cars are being produced in the numbers that ICE powered cars are being produced in I bet they'll be less expensive. For a better idea of how prices will compare watch out for the electric Smart Fortwo (undergoing testing in th UK), the Mitsubishi MiEV and the Subaru R1e undergoing trials in Japan.

Alan from the islands

Thanks for the info.
I hope it is the battery management rather than the battery that Mercedes is interested in.

I agree that EV's are potentially cheaper than ICE cars, but we have some way to go yet.

The Th!nk is a fairly limited two seater vehicle, and is due out shortly in the UK for around £14,000, plus you have to pay around £100pm for the battery hire.

At the moment we are in a very tough cost environment, with things like steel prices rising rapidly, and the shortage and high price of oil leveraging higher prices throughout the system, so I would be doubtful that in this environment the advantages of mass production will do more than help to reduce what the price increase would be.

Basically it seems likely that real purchasing power will decrease to 25-50% of existing, so everything will seem expensive.

The challenge is to substitute for oil and gas so that they are less influential on costs, and so standards can improve again.

I am agnostic as to whether this will be achieved, and certain that it will not be done without grave suffering.

There are still relatively few people who can afford a $60,000 sedan.

yes, but it's a lot less expensive than the first tesla that everyone said most people couldn't afford. it also leaves just a little bit more gasoline for the rest of us.

It may be that they're interested in the "system" part. Tesla has made significant improvement to the AC Propulsion technology they licensed. I think the construction of their actively cooled battery pack is of interest and I think they monitor the state of charge and temperature of the battery groups much closer than AC Propulsion ever did. They have this PDF at their website.

Alan from the islands

Something Big is Going On

The following statement is written by Congressman Paul about the pending financial disaster. He will introduce this statement as a special order and insert it into the Congressional Record next week. Fortunately, we have the opportunity to debut it first on the Campaign for Liberty blog. It reads as follows:

I have, for the past 35 years, expressed my grave concern for the future of America. The course we have taken over the past century has threatened our liberties, security and prosperity. In spite of these long-held concerns, I have days—growing more frequent all the time—when I’m convinced the time is now upon us that some Big Events are about to occur. These fast-approaching events will not go unnoticed. They will affect all of us. They will not be limited to just some areas of our country. The world economy and political system will share in the chaos about to be unleashed.

Though the world has long suffered from the senselessness of wars that should have been avoided, my greatest fear is that the course on which we find ourselves will bring even greater conflict and economic suffering to the innocent people of the world—unless we quickly change our ways.

America, with her traditions of free markets and property rights, led the way toward great wealth and progress throughout the world as well as at home. Since we have lost our confidence in the principles of liberty, self reliance, hard work and frugality, and instead took on empire building, financed through inflation and debt, all this has changed. This is indeed frightening and an historic event.

The problem we face is not new in history. Authoritarianism has been around a long time. For centuries, inflation and debt have been used by tyrants to hold power, promote aggression, and provide “bread and circuses” for the people. The notion that a country can afford “guns and butter” with no significant penalty existed even before the 1960s when it became a popular slogan. It was then, though, we were told the Vietnam War and a massive expansion of the welfare state were not problems. The seventies proved that assumption wrong.


Too bad he doesn't stand a chance due to the MSM. One of the few politicians who truly gets it.

"If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issuance of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered." Thomas Jefferson

Ron Paul has made some good speeches in the last year, especially about the current finance situation. Unfortunately, like Roscoe Bartlett, their peers are not listening. To their detriment, I guess, when the masses storm the House and the Senate (that was a joke, seriously!!).

I wanted to see Dr. Paul as the Republicat to debate the Demopublican choice because there would have been a debate/national discussion on various matters like the money situation.

Unless, somehow, Dr. Paul is picked at the natl. convention, that shall not happen.

Today by chance I looked back at a financial forecast by Gail the Actuary for 2008, posted here back on January 9: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/3382

Congratulations to Gail - she absolutely nailed it. All but one of her 16 or so predictions have come true, and that one (government may have to bail out Fannie May and Freddie Mac) might yet occur before the year is out.

Housing market seen getting worse

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have also cut back their lending to stressed subprime and Alt-A borrowers with low incomes and high loan-to-value ratios.

"Freddie and Fannie are capital-constrained. They are battling their own problems so they are not a source of funding for people losing their homes today," said Zimmerman...

Home prices, which had been falling at a reasonable pace over recent years, have accelerated since late last year.

"We were declining at an annualized rate of about 5 to 6 percent but prices starting dropping very rapidly and we're now at a 20 percent annualized rate. That's the mode we're in right now," he said.

And to commemorate this housing shock, yet another quote from Daniel Yergin...

"But that's not enough: To maintain energy security, one needs a supply system that provides a buffer against shocks. It needs large, flexible markets. And it's important to acknowledge the fact that the entire energy supply chain needs to be protected." -Daniel Yergin

Belatedly, thanks. I don't always get a chance to read Drumbeat the day it goes up, but try to look at it later, if I can.

I will have to do an update articles. I am waiting for some of the second quarter results to come out first.

I'm looking forward to seeing if many people travel over the 4th of July holiday, because with oil at these levels any drop in distillates could mean a sharp rise in gasoline week over week, probably $0.10 or more.

Yesterday, someone suggested converting retail space to housing. They're not going that far...yet.

The new church? Turn left at Victoria’s Secret

Community college classes in the old mall movie theater. A DMV office across from the Starbucks. Maybe a local library between the Victoria's Secret and the Gap.

Mall and strip center owners are turning to untried and untraditional tenants to brighten dark storefronts as the sluggish economy sends more retailers to bankruptcy or forces others to scale back their expansion plans.

i see big box stores as futures places to grow food.

Actually my feeling is that one could build greenhouses adjacent to power plants so that one could use waste heat to raise fresh produce in the wintertime.

And how are they going to use big box stores to grow food?

And how are they going to use big box stores to grow food?


Do you have any idea how energy-intensive indoor hydroponic agriculture is?

No, I didn't think so.

Indoor hydroponics is the opposite of where agriculture needs to go...

I guessed right! I guessed right! I just knew that's what you were going to say.

Yes, I knew that was going to be your answer (in law school they say never ask a question you don’t know how it is going to be answered). Ever grow with hydroponics indoors John? I have - extensively over the years. And growing them in a “big box” building requires lights. Lights which eat tons of electricity and throw off tons of heat. Don’t talk about LEDs, because they don’t throw off enough light or in the proper spectrum even with the CREE versions; recently I tried replacing my outside halogens with LEDs and they were insufficient, I resorted to multiple high powered par38 compact fluorescents. Also with sodium or halide lights they have to be replaced regularly as they lose output. I changed mine once a year for maximum effect. More cost. Even when they are working at maximum output it doesn’t compare to the sun on a cloudy day. Take a light meter and put it up to a 1000 watt sodium lamp. Now pull it three feet away. See the huge drop off? I can peg the meter as I am presently doing holding it near the window, and its lightly raining. Were talking lots of lights, lots of heat, and lots of ventilation. Ventilation is the downfall of most setups; I found that to my detriment one hot summer. Ventilation requires more power. Unless growing expensive 9things like orchids) or elicit crops (you know what I mean) lights are inefficient and not cost effective. They are best used as a supplement to a greenhouse or starting seedlings on a small scale. Now you could strip off the roof of the “big box” and put in a translucent one, but you would have a building that cast shadows on the periphery of the beds, and very costly for the translucent materials. Not very efficient. I’m not going to get into the various hydroponics systems such as ebb and flow, deep water, etc., all have their advantages and shortcomings. Very good production per square foot. Nutes are expensive, as are most of the various setups even when handmade

... or at least as warehouses to store food ...

We do this regularly in the UK, where there are a lot of buildings of architectural interest and density is high - here is an example from my home town of Bristol:

This would also be high density housing, making transport easier for refugees from the exurbs.
Providing that finance can be found then it would seem that conversions like this could help America a lot.

Another good one at FinancialSense...

PEAK RESOURCE SUPPLY & WORLD ECONOMIC CRISIS - Looking Back on the Race to the Summit by Andrew McKillop (Author & Consultant) - July 3, 2008

Below is the last section:

Sustainable Resource Transition of the OECD Economy

In an easily measurable timeframe of no more than 2 or 3 years from now, by 2011 or 2012, OECD decision makers will have to ‘bite the bullet’ and accept, firstly, that Energy Transition is a serious, real-world challenge to the survival of their economies and societies. Cheap Oil has totally disappeared already, and will never return. Other fossil energy resources are in catch-up phases of price growth, spilling over to the whole resource complex. Cheap food and agroresources have gone the same way as cheap energy, and any respite due to a ‘short sharp cut’ in global economic growth is relatively unlikely, and extreme high risk for any apprentice sorceror wanting to bring it on.The multiple implications of this are treated by myself and various contributors to my book ‘The Final Energy Crisis’ (Pluto Books 2005 and 2008, ISBN 0745320929). They range from the economy, transport, food supply and habitat through to cultural values and how society deals with a radically changing future.

Models for change away from fossil fuel burning exist, including the Kyoto Treaty and possible transition programmes based on the IMF framework for Special Drawing Rights, for member countries confronted by short-term financial and budget crisis. The SDRs, as we know, are based on a complex formula including the member country’s size, economic conditions, and previous performance. On a directly comparable base, « Oil Drawing Rights » and « Natural Gas Drawing Rights » could be set and allocated, with oil and later natural gas removed from conventional market trading, and national consumption rates decided by an international secretariat holding all the powers needed to carry out its functions. In brief, the basic need to reduce energy intensity will become, or has become clear and this will entrain the creation of many new enterprises and activities not concerned with supply, but with energy demand.

The objective would be to achieve large cuts in oil and natural gas intensity, measured in barrels/capita/year, and boe/capita/year, in a short period of time. The timeframe, in fact, is shrinking as we move into full Peak Oil, with Peak Gas coming fast behind. Outline targets for demand compression, depending on country and the depletion rates accepted by oil and gas producer countries, could be as high as 5% or 6% per year, perhaps more, and would apply on a long-term or in fact ‘permanent’ basis.

The investment and revenue implications of International Energy Transition extending or replacing current and ineffective Kyoto Treaty attempts to achieve a shift from fossil to renewable energy, basically through supply-only measures, can be imagined. Some analyses of even limited Energy Transition in the OECD countries, published by McKinsey & Co and aimed at cutting oil intensity about 30% by 2020 generate very large spending forecasts, but with each year that Energy Transition is set back, needed spending will increase.

More important is that energy transition will be only one part of transition to the sustainable economy. This will require a system-wide reduction of resource intensity, rather than increased recycling and production of resources at lower unit energy intensity and lower unit environment impacts. The process will have to start in the OECD countries, indicating we have some way to go before this need is clear enough, accepted widely enough, before action starts – and time is short.

...there is much more good stuff in this article. I highly recommend you read it ALL!!

I guess the reason the Onion is so funny is that their made-up stories simply state the bloody obvious:

Report: 98 Percent Of U.S. Commuters Favor Public Transportation For Others

WASHINGTON, DC–A study released Monday by the American Public Transportation Association reveals that 98 percent of Americans support the use of mass transit by others.

"With traffic congestion, pollution, and oil shortages all getting worse, now is the time to shift to affordable, efficient public transportation," APTA director Howard Collier said. "Fortunately, as this report shows, Americans have finally recognized the need for everyone else to do exactly that."

Here is wishing the readers of TOD a festive 4th of July.

I may have a clue (thanks to The Oil Drum) about where energy prices may be going but I am clueless about what to do about it.


another intersesting 200+ mpg car.


now if we could only get a plug-in...

The VW 1 liter car is a great design, but we could wait forever for VW to build it. Why not study the design and build it as a kit car? It's a relatively simple design, and since you mentioned it, it could even be built as a kit car with the plug hybrid option with a bit of redesign.

This brings up an interesting question: Why have so few "super mileage" kit cars been built over the years? I remember in the 1970's Popular Mechanics used to advertise plans for various super mileage kits, but I don't know if any were actually built and used. I know I have never seen one. What are the possibilities?


Got here late to read the posts. maybe a limit on posts for each poster is in order, I see DaveMart and I scroll, ended up scrolling thru the whole drumbeat. Makes me wonder if he has a life. Enthusiasm is great but constant gets old.


I'm sure you have a life. Probably as lonely and sad as mine. But as long as we have TOD there's a reason to get out of bed and not finally pull that trigger which would finally give such blessed relief.

Happy holiday Dave et al!!!

Left the war thread after a few reads – not invalid points just the usual ones, which they would have to be from the suppositional perspective of what Obama might do 8 months form now.

On the related topic, “new boss same as the old boss”, the current situation has never held more hope. The self-serving Washington (scum, ignorants, poll driven spokes people, vacuous) – (your choice) politicians are no longer in control. The most extreme measures put forward to fight global warming are now in place. A worldwide energy transition to sustainability has begun if we can keep coal use from exploding. The north pole is melting (even normals seem to get that one) and we have a legend in Hansen leading the charge against coal use without sequestration. I dare to hope.