DrumBeat: July 19, 2008

Small, developing nations feel impact of food and energy crisis

The Marshall Islands said Friday electrical power in the small Pacific nation may be switched off in September when its fuel supplies are expected to run out, as high food and energy prices have begun to hit hard some developing countries, particularly small islands isolated from the rest of the world.

'Unless urgent international action is taken, the Marshall Islands will exhaust its present fuel supplies this September,' said Rina Targo, a representative of the islands at the United Nations. 'This is a dire situation in which we may be left without electricity for the foreseeable future.'

Growing risk of a shooting war over energy

Once again, the week's most important energy news has gone unreported by media in the U.S.

Most of the U.S. news media still doesn’t understand that the important energy news is happening outside the United States. Once again this week, cameras rolled as the White House and Congress bickered for partisan advantage, this time over offshore oil drilling. Meanwhile, half a world way, three events – one indicative of the growing risk of a shooting war over energy – were completely ignored.

Threat from lack of gas capacity, expert says

A lack of adequate gas storage has left Britain's energy market like a “house of cards”, more vulnerable to supply shocks than any other country in Western Europe, according to a leading energy analyst.

Four years after becoming a net gas importer, Britain still has one of the lowest levels of gas storage capacity in Europe - enough to supply consumers for about two weeks. That is equivalent to about 4 per cent of annual demand, compared with 20 per cent in both France and Germany.

Pakistan: Agri sector faces acute shortage of water

ISLAMABAD: Rising petroleum prices would affect the agriculture sector of the country as farmers are dependent on fuel to operate their tube-wells for getting water, which is the basic need for irrigation and growth of crops.

Fiji: Police deny fuel shortage claims

SPECULATION that the police vehicles at the Nabua Police Station were without fuel for the third night last night has been blatantly denied by the police.

A source told Fiji Daily Post that police officers working night shift at the Nabua Police Station had to patrol the area walking.

It was also revealed that officers could not attend to reports from nearby areas because there were no vehicles to take them.

India: Energy scenario bleak as country faces sharp decline in power generation

NEW DELHI: The lesser inflow of water into rivers and the declining levels in dams and reservoirs across the southern, western and north-eastern regions of the country have led to a sharp decline in power generation, particularly hydro-power. The gas-based stations have also been under-performing due to shortage of fuel, leading to outages, power cuts and blackouts in many parts of the country.

Vietnam: Exporters fear failure amid money, energy shortages

Companies air their grievances at a conference as tightened monetary policy and a power shortage have left them without money or electricity.

Pakistan: IJT stages protest against power outages at PU

LAHORE: The Punjab University students staged a protest against six-hour load shedding on the campus- for the second consecutive day- outside the press club on Friday.

Dozens of students, under the aegis of Islami Jamiat Talba (IJT), whilst holding placards, protested against the varsity's administration. They flayed the administration for failing to take steps to rectify the situation, as students were forced to take exams in scorching heat. The students also staged a sit-in outside the project director's office the other day, but to no avail.

Chevron-truckers union fray could cause fuel shortages, Nacional says

SANTO DOMINGO - Fuel transport from the Dominican Petroleum Refinery was still halted Friday morning and only the tanker trucks that take avtur to the airports entered, newspaper Nacional reported.

Why the gas tax could go up

Proposals for a gas tax holiday faltered over job losses - and now lawmakers need to come up with money to repair roads.

Utah DOT feels pinch in rising costs of asphalt

The Utah Department of Transportation is experiencing an asphalt shortage. Several of UDOT's road construction projects have already experienced delays. It is because asphalt is now in competition with gasoline. The material that makes asphalt used to be considered waste left over from refining oil into gas but now the greater demand for gasoline is causing refineries to more efficiently squeeze every possible drop of crude oil into the more profitable fuel.

It means there is not a lot of asphalt to go around. To make matters worse the polymer that binds asphalt together is in short supply because it too is a petroleum byproduct, thus, driving the cost up.

Pemex Plans Fuel Supply Reduction

In an unpopular move, Mexico’s state-owned Pemex oil company announced it will reduce gasoline supplies for Baja California soon. Ramiro Zuniga Salazar, president of the Onexpo Baja Gasoline Station Operators Association, said Pemex informed gas station operators in a July 7 letter that it would begin reducing gasoline deliveries of the Magna brand from 80 million liters to 72 or 74 million liters per month. A gallon is equivalent to 3.8 liters.

...Pemex’s decision was attributed to a 30 percent increase in demand for gasoline and diesel in Baja California during the past few months. Some blame the consumption surge on US citizens who drive across the border to take advantage of cheaper Mexican fuel prices and fill up their tanks.

Brazilian offshore oil workers end strike

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) -- Brazilian offshore oil workers said Thursday they will end a five-day walkout as scheduled, but warned they may call a new, nationwide strike against state oil company Petrobras next month.

Why gas prices vary from state to state

With regional differentials pushing the price much higher in some places, drivers and small-business owners are finding it hard to cope.

But which states' motorists get the best deal, and in which states do drivers pay the most to fill-up?

NYC taxi fleets may have trouble shifting to hybrids

DETROIT — This fall, New York City yellow taxis will start going green as fleet owners have to buy hybrids to replace the old Crown Victorias as they are retired.

The city's decision to mandate the move from an all-gas taxi fleet to a gas-electric hybrid fleet has received much applause, but as the effective date approaches, there's a worry: Inventories of hybrids have dried up across the country as gas prices skyrocket, leaving fleet owners to wonder whether they'll be able to buy hybrids for taxis when they need them.

How China's taking over Africa, and why the West should be VERY worried

Reminiscent of the West's imperial push in the 18th and 19th centuries - but on a much more dramatic, determined scale - China's rulers believe Africa can become a 'satellite' state, solving its own problems of over-population and shortage of natural resources at a stroke.

With little fanfare, a staggering 750,000 Chinese have settled in Africa over the past decade. More are on the way.

The strategy has been carefully devised by officials in Beijing, where one expert has estimated that China will eventually need to send 300 million people to Africa to solve the problems of over-population and pollution.

Energy crisis of 1973 left a lasting impact

The federal government began rationing diesel fuel to its own agencies and to private industry, including airlines and trucking companies.

Airlines started getting monthly fuel allotments based on how much they had used the year before. They were forced to cut routes and eliminate flights that weren't booked to capacity.

By Nov. 21, Kanawha County officials were considering operating schools only four days a week to conserve energy.

Six days later, both Kanawha County and Putnam County school systems were saying they soon might have to end student bus rides altogether.

UN warns on biofuel crop reliance

Biofuels are important for combating climate change, Mr Ban said, but new global guidelines needed to be established to maintain an adequate supply of food.

"The cost of inaction would be unacceptably high. Over 100m people could slide into hunger," Mr Ban said.

"We must act immediately to boost agricultural production this year," he added.

The impact of rising food prices on disparate livelihoods groups in Kenya

The sustained rise in food and non-food prices is expected to accentuate food insecurity among the most vulnerable livelihood groups especially the urban, pastoral and marginal agricultural households.

Robert Bryce: Iran Rising

The confidence that the Iranians displayed in Madrid is further confirmation of their growing influence in Europe and the Mideast. Indeed, their presence at the conference bolsters the belief that Iran may be the biggest winner of the Second Iraq War. And the oil and gas deals they are doing – with the Malaysians, Indonesians, Syrians, Venezuelans, Chinese, and others – provide evidence that America’s ability to influence global energy policy, particularly when it comes to policies that involve sanctions against Iran, is diminishing.

How to grab a share of the Gulf’s trillions

Spain made its fortune plundering South America. And Rome was built on the spoils of conquest. But the Gulf States are managing to accumulate the world’s wealth without even crossing their own borders.

U.N. Says Global Action Needed To Meet Food, Energy Crisis

New York, NY (AHN) - Urgent changes in global agricultural policies are needed to meet the threats of soaring food and energy prices, the United Nations General Assembly President said on Friday.

Reducing subsidies and lifting tariffs and other trade barriers would stimulate food production and offer a route to development for 180 million small farmers in Africa, Srgjan Kerim told Member States as the Assembly met to discuss the two global crises, a U.N. press statement said.

Argentina ends grain tax hike

After months of standoff with irate farmers, and a humiliating defeat in the Senate, the government rolls back the extra levy on farm exports.

Rising gas prices may stall school choice program

Rising gas prices will pose a tremendous challenge for the Lee County School District in this school year and the next.

The school district is already bracing for a $29 million shortfall — expected to be even higher next year after Amendment 1 changes the local tax roll — and constantly increasing fuel prices may bear a heavy burden on the budget.

High fuel costs top priority for farmers

LEE COUNTY, GA (WALB) South Georgia farmers say high fuel prices are their number one concern as harvest time approaches. They say record petroleum prices have caused almost everything they use to grow crops to skyrocket in price, and pass even rain as their top worry.

Fuel crisis of our own creation

Americans were convinced they had the right to cheap gasoline and no power in the world should take that right away from us. Now that the right has been sopped up, it ought to be clear that gasoline is an expensive commodity. Environmentalists warned every year that disaster was waiting just around the corner, but Big Auto insisted Americans wanted big cars and small trucks and especially SUVs, gas-consuming monsters rarely used either for sports or utility, but mostly to reinforce the masculinity of drivers. And Big Oil lobbeyed fiercely against any restraints.

McCain calls for tax credit to promote electric cars

WARREN, Mich. — John McCain on Friday called for a tax credit to help American consumers buy electrically powered automobiles as part of an effort to decrease the U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

Let the Sunshine In: Sick of high energy bills, our columnist investigates solar options

This month, I've spent hours tramping across my roof with energy experts. We've measured its pitch, calculated how closely it faces true south and used high-tech tools to determine what times of day and which months the rooftop will be shaded.

The goal: to figure out how much the sun's free power can offset my home's hot-water and other energy needs.

Global Heating: Why We Must Shift to Carbon-Free Fuel (Part I)

Even among the Merely Moderately Enlightened, Global Warming is no longer an issue. The Bali Roadmap of last December and the forceful reports earlier last year by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have, at long last, produced basic agreement that we have to get serious about fighting global warming.

The elephant in the room is, "How"?

Oil prices tumble in biggest weekly drop ever

With oil recording yet another drop on Friday, some industry experts who just days ago thought there was more juice left in oil's meteoric run are reconsidering.

"If this is not the bubble's implosion, than it's a reasonable facsimile," analyst and trader Stephen Schork said in his daily market commentary. "Time will tell. Nevertheless, for the time being we no longer care to hold a bullish view."

New Hampshire accepts Venezuelan oil: The state scorned the free assistance two years ago, but costs have risen

CONCORD, N.H. -- Two years ago, New Hampshire refused to accept heating oil from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the pro-Castro U.S. critic who once called President Bush "the devil." But with fuel prices rising, well, free oil is free oil.

Alaskans suffer nation's highest gasoline prices

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - Think you're feeling pain at the gas pump? Consider the residents of Lime Village, Alaska, an isolated Denaina Athabascan Indian community where gasoline prices have hit $8.55 a gallon.

The price is severely curtailing movement around the interior Alaska village, where four-wheelers are sitting idle, said Ursula Graham, administrator for the Lime Village Traditional Council.

Russia's energy drive leaves US reeling

Last week, the gloves finally came off the Dmitry Medvedev presidency in Russia. It had to happen sooner or later, but few would have expected this soon. It was crystal clear US President George W Bush administered a diplomatic snub to Medvedev on the sidelines of the Group of Eight (G-8) summit meeting at Hokkaido, Japan.

Los Angeles is home to new rush of oil drilling: As energy prices surge, hidden rigs trap fertile fields under city

Remember how Jed Clampett and his family struck "black gold" and moved to Beverly Hills? Today the black gold is IN Beverly Hills.

Beverly Hills is one of the most fertile oil fields in Los Angeles, producing nearly a million barrels a year. Many wells are camouflaged or hidden inside buildings. One on the property of Beverly Hills High School is covered in quilt-like floral blankets.

4 Dead, 7 Injured After Crane Collapse at Houston Refinery

HOUSTON — One of the nation's largest mobile cranes collapsed at a Houston oil refinery Friday, killing four workers and injuring seven others in the latest of several fatal accidents that have raised concerns about the safety of construction cranes.

How to beat 60% rise in gas prices? Wear two jumpers (sweaters), says energy boss

One of the UK's biggest energy suppliers came under fire yesterday after one of its senior executives said consumers struggling with record-high gas prices should keep warm by putting on two jumpers.

French nuclear firm admits uranium leaks at two plants

The French nuclear giant Areva yesterday confirmed there was a radioactive leak from a broken pipe at a nuclear fuel plant in south-eastern France, a week after a uranium spill at another of its plants polluted the local water supply.

The latest incident comes as an embarrassment to the French government as it struggles to contain environmentalists' anger and reassure residents near its nuclear plants that they are safe.

Solar cars race to promote renewable technologies

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.—Even as U.S. oil refiners scramble to increase the flow of Canadian crude from Alberta to Texas, a caravan of futuristic solar cars is racing that 2,400-mile route in reverse to show what transportation could look like without a drop of oil or gas.

Can plug-in hybrids ride to America’s rescue?

Davis, Calif. - If the United States breaks its oil addiction, a measure of thanks will no doubt be due to Andy Frank, who some have dubbed the “father of the plug-in hybrid” car.

Faithful Citizenship: Caring for God’s creation

Some 60 parishioners attended the presentation, "Energy Ethics in an Era of Global Climate Change and Peak Oil," during which Rauckhorst stressed the lead role that religious congregations must play in helping form both our individual and national conscience on energy and environmental issues.

Missing fossils could warn of extreme climate to come

Did the tropics overheat during the Eocene some 55 to 34 million years ago? The answer holds the key to how our planet will respond to global warming, according to one climate researcher.

As passengers on the Titanic were headed for the lifeboats, I wonder how many were debating politics. . . Peak Oil makes strange bedfellows. Interesting change for Boone, who has stopped contributing to partisan political programs, like the Swift Boat ads that he helped fund in 2004.

Pickens, Democrats agree in calling for alternative fuels

WASHINGTON – T. Boone Pickens says he's ready to give up partisan politics if it means weaning the country off foreign oil. . . As Democrats struggle to address high gasoline prices without opening more wilderness and coastlines to oil companies, Mr. Pickens offers a valuable partnership: a certified oil industry icon who says the country can't drill its way out of the energy crisis. "I can be most effective as a nonpartisan, and I think the Democrats know me to be an honorable person," Mr. Pickens said Friday, adding that he's talked to Al Gore and the two agreed on "95 percent of what we talked about."

. . . Mr. Pickens will appear next month in Las Vegas with several famous Democrats, including former President Clinton and former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, at an energy summit hosted by Mr. Reid and the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

It's all about the MONEY.

Now that his business model has changed, he stands to get more help from the Dems.

Probably true to some degree, but at age 80, having made more money since he turned 70 than his cumulative income prior to 70, I think that he is primarily motivated by his concern for the future of the country. In any case, from the linked article:

The ideas align perfectly with his business ventures, which appears to make Democrats enthusiastic – not cynical – about his pitch. "If Pickens can show it's very profitable, that's a very important point," said Daniel J. Weiss, director of climate strategy for the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.

"That will help steer investors toward those kinds of investments."

T. Boone Pickens is a mystery wrapped in an enigma.

Most oilmen, especially the old-timers, know that solar and wind will deliver about as much real energy as a cigarette lighter where energy is needed, that is in transportation.

The idea of using solar power to generate electric power in order to free up natural gas for transportation begins to look like Rube Goldberg, especially because the energy used in developing solar and wind would consume enormous amounts of oil and drive up the price of oil even higher.....hmmmmmmmmm.

Kind o makes me wonder what is goin on here??? :)

What if the real goal isn't to fuel cars, but to make some money while hopefully preventing the meltdown of the economy due to massive energy shortages overall?

For the American populace, saying "Gas prices are too high. Tell ya what, I'll invest a billion bucks to give you cheap electricity, and that'll free up some natural gas for car use, and that will drive down fuel costs nationwide" seems pretty upbeat and palatable.

If you say, "Over the next five years you will become unable to afford to drive your car, the nation's wealth will be sapped to pay to heat the NE during the winter, and then we'll all freeze together once that too is gone. But if we build my wind farm, you can keep your cars for another few years and then heat your house for a while after that while we work like hell to come up with something else" it just doesn't sound as good.

Coupling wind and CNG is just marketing -- the real point is building wind energy production at a profit. Everything else is spin or candy-coating.

But from what I've read numerous times here on the Oil Drum, is that we are likely to experience SERIOUS problems with Peak Natural Gas in the next few years. So just how realistic is this whole idea on any even medium-term basis?

Antoinetta III

Antoinetta III, you are right, of course.

I don't understand what you are so het up about.
Of course gas is going to get too expensive to use for transport for most people.
Keeping electricity up is a very good idea, we all need (like) fridges and washing machines and computers and more. Keeping the grid up and running any which way is smart. Going completely renewable (wind, solar and muscle) is even smarter.
It might even be possible to keep a few threads of our interconnected cultures alive...

What else is there to do? Wind is still one of the best choices. If transportation collapses, that is very bad, if the grid goes with it.....
And of course electric rail is the best choice for transportation .

I agree 100%. It doesn't matter what the marketing spin is, in the end if you get wind supply built, it's a net positive.

Consider the converse, what is the downside of building Picket's Plan? That an old man might make some money? Is there any other significant negative consequence?

Actually, you want the most money to be made by old people. You get a faster return on your investment through the higher rate of the estate tax vs. income tax.

Most oilmen, especially the old-timers, know that solar and wind will deliver about as much real energy as a cigarette lighter where energy is needed, that is in transportation.

Based on this real world comparison done by the Japan EV Club, usiing a Mitsubishi i MiEV and a Subaru R1e, the electric cars covered the journey using electricity generated by one sixth of the FF energy required by a typical Japanese gasoline car. Given a likely bias from the source, let's cut that advantage in half, to a third. Still a big gain in my book. Is it possible that, electrified transport will only require as much energy as a cigarette lighter?

Alan from the islands

Actually, I was a little disappointed by the Japanese numbers. They used about 160 watt/hours per mile. AC Propulsion and Solectria were putting up better numbers in the 1990s. But Hokkaido is pretty rough country; maybe there were a lot of hills on the route.

We've got to get it under 100 watt/hours per mile if we're going to put out affordable electric cars. The math says it's possible.

Damn right it's possible! After just about 100 years of tweaking and massaging the ICE, with millions of dollars spent on research and development, we're still stuck at about 30% maximum efficiency. No amount of electronically controlled ignition, fuel injection, variable valve timing, variable length intake manifolds, supercharging, turbocharging or (insert favorite technology here), has been able to get past the theoretical limit of efficiency set by the laws of thermodynamics.

On the other hand, electric drive trains, batteries and electronic systems have theoretical efficiencies that can exceed 80%. What will the efficiency of a typical battery electric vehicle be, after 50 years of R&D at the level that has been devoted to the ICE?

Alan from the islands

Not a direct thermodynamic limit per se, but a limitation of materials. You can make the heat to work conversion efficiency as high as you like by increasing the temperature at the hot end of the cycle.

The basic problem is that we don't have a (cheap) material that can take high temperatures while maintaining good mechanical strength and manufacturability. Metals have an upper operating temperature of about 1000oC give or take a couple of hundred, and that is what results in the thermodynamic efficiency of about 30%.

Ceramics take higher temperatures but are much harder to manufacture machine parts from and have crap tensile strength.

Hey Island boy,

Lets talk about moving real 18 wheel trucks, instead of little Japanese toys.

Okay, since you asked:

Brown Goes Green: UPS adds 50 new HEV trucks to delivery fleet

In case you think that's hot air, this one ain't no freakin hybrid

Brown goes green in NYC: Full-sized UPS EV truck

Neither is this one from the city of London

Modec truck looks great in UPS brown

For a little balance

FedEx puts 2 million miles on hybrid trucks, adds 75 more

Let's look at something a little heavier, the one in the background

Confirmed: Smith electric to build the Ampere and the Faraday II

Unfortunately you may not be seeing the above stateside

Bad economy prompts Smith Electric vehicles to curtail expansion

If you're gonna pick on a Prius, make sure his bigger Japanese cousin isn't around

Mitsubishi Fuso's new Green Truck

How about a real heavy duty hybrid

Volvo revving up its trucks with heavy-duty hybrid drivetrains

Here's a couple of hybrids from closer to home

Peterbilt shows off medium-duty hybrid truck
Eaton confirms order from Coke for 120 hybrid trucks
Peterbilt, Eaton and Wal-Mart partner on diesel-electric hybrid truck

Now, "about moving real 18 wheel trucks"

Heavy duty (really heavy duty) electric truck in use at LA port

All the above are not vaporware but actual working trucks, albeit most of them are being evaluated. They were all found by searching just one web site, Autobloggreen.com.

A google search for "electric truck reminded me that some of the biggest beasts of them all, the giant earth movers, have always been diesel electric hybrids. It was actually easier to use electric motors to transfer the huge amounts of power to the wheels, than to use a mechanical transmission. Many of the "stradle carriers" used in container terminals around the world to shuffle the containers around, are diesel electric hybrids as well.

With diesel fuel getting more expensive and in some places impossible to get, while batteries are likely to get better and less expensive, making the leap from diesel electric to battery electric doesn't seem too far fetched. This is certainly applicanle for short haul trips within a city or from a rail line to a factory or distribution center.

Alan from the islands

Alan - thanks for the links. You have enough material there for a guest post on this important topic - shoot an email to the editors box or nate@theoildrum.com if interested.

Just like I said, no 18 wheelers for long haul.

And what is the source of electric power -- 50% from dirty coal, 20% from natural gas, some from nuclear and oil.

And a 50% plus loss of fossil energy in power generation.

Then some loss in power transmission.

Then a 25% loss in the batteries.

Sounds to me like a lot of waste of fossil energy to get electric energy.

And what about the infrastructure for all of the electric economy, there are not even any plans for how to do all of it, and it would be trillions of dollars of infrastructure for the thousands of miles of highway.

Big capital costs in change over that will not be made in today's global bankrupt economy.

Seems like you solar folks are talking about what you dream about, rather than what is real.

And in so doing the above you are not looking at reality, the end of oil and time for risk management. We are moving at 100 MPH and the end of the tracks is just ahead, and you can't see it as you dream of what can never be.

This site is full of MEN, mostly MEN from the richest and most affluent societies on earth, who are obsessed with trying to invent technofixes to keeping things economic growth going, rather than careful analysis, which indicates that we have lost the battle with nature and can't keep this economy on the same path of everyone thinking they can have all the material possessions they want.

We've mostly used up our one time endowment of oil, and now you are grasping at straws, like solar and wind, which give us electric power, which we will have a surplus of when the factories, plazas, and airports shut down, this is happening today.

What will you do with spare electric power?

We have met the enemy and it is us, and ideologies and cultures of affluence, arrogance, and greed.

When the highways and power grid go out, so too will your solar toys.

What will you do with spare electric power?

Steel, aluminium, titanium, carbon fibres, cast metals, machined metals, hydrogen for fertilizer fuel and other chemistry, streetlights on bicycle paths, power plug-in hybrids, space heating via heat pumps, wooden furniture, power railways, semiconductors, solar cells, xmas lights, etc, etc.

In economic depression (coming to a movie theater near you soon) we will have spare electric power, more than is needed to do what you have above, and what do you do with it, can't store it or eat it. Hydrogen for fertilizer, not much of that being done. Power railways, nice idea, but we have few and no $$$ to build more. Sorry :(

Lets talk about moving real 18 wheel trucks, instead of little Japanese toys.

Just like I said, no 18 wheelers for long haul.

Huh? I'm sure everyone here is familiar with the work of Alan Drake. Just in case you missed it, he advocates the rapid build out of electrified rail for long distance freight haulage to replace big rigs and passenger transport to replace air travel. If trains are doing the longer distance haulage, electric and hybrid trucks could take care of the last miles.

Oh, and those Japanese toys would come in mighty handy for 10km trips to your nearest Walmart when it's raining down there in Mexico, assuming you've got enough wind and solar to charge one. At 86kWh for 859km or 10km/kWh, I'd guess about 5kW of solar PV should be sufficient to keep one micro EV in a sufficient state of charge and have some left over to run a small fridge, a computer, a radio and a few CFLs. If you've got good wind, you could buy a large fridge or set up a solar powered absorption chiller and become the local cold storage guy.

Alan from the islands

"He advocates the rapid build out of electrified rail for long distance freight haulage to replace big rigs and passenger transport
to replace air travel. If trains are doing the longer distance haulage, electric and hybrid trucks could take care of the last miles."

Advocating one thing, actually doing it is another. And where is the capital for this trillion dollar adjustment going to from when oil is $200, then $500, then $5,000 per barrel.???????????

I advocate the we should scrap the global consumer economy immediately, idle all cars, close all of the malls, stop eating packaged foors, stop drinking sodas, beer and wine, and get serious about using the remaining oil for survival.

Unfortunately, 99.99999999 percent of the people are laughing at my proposals.

And I am not giving up drinking red zinfandel wine!

I can see curtailing all automotive travel, but stopping all beer drinking - the State of Texas would NEVER go for that.Be careful CJ you might start another revolution with your proposals.

A missive from two years ago:

Open letter to Texas newspapers about peak oil: 'Why aren’t you listening?'
by Jeffrey J. Brown
April 2, 2006

Mr. Rainwater was profiled in the 12/14/05 issue of Fortune Magazine, “The Rainwater Prophecy.” Mr. Rainwater is deeply concerned about Peak Oil. In the article, Mr. Rainwater said, “This is the first scenario I’ve seen where I question the survivability of mankind.” Mr. Rainwater first became concerned about Peak Oil after reading “The Long Emergency” by James Howard Kunstler. . .

On November 1, 2005 the Greater Dallas Planning Council and the Southern Methodist University Environmental Sciences Department cosponsored a symposium featuring Mr. Kunstler and Matthew R. Simmons entitled “The Unfolding Energy Crisis and its Impact on Development Patterns.” Mr. Pickens, via BP Capital, was one of the lead underwriters of the event. . . . Mr. Pickens has publicly stated that he believes that the world is at peak oil production. Mr. Pickens has publicly suggested increasing the gasoline tax, in an attempt to reduce oil consumption, with offsetting tax cuts elsewhere.

I certainly don’t speak for either Richard Rainwater or Boone Pickens, but my impression of these two gentlemen--along with Matt Simmons and Jim Kunstler--is that they are American patriots, in the truest sense of the word, who are trying to warn their fellow Americans about the dangers posed by Peak Oil.

BTW, I proposed, and helped organize, the 11/1/05 event in Dallas, which brought Matt Simmons, Jim Kunstler and Boone Pickens together in one room, and the sole local media coverage was the SMU student newspaper.

I'm happy they appeared together. They are all human beings, all Americans, all probably family men -- at some level, all can find themselves in agreement with each other.

However, not everyone is ready yet to go where they seem to be going -- our local radio mouth was droning on yesterday how Obama and Gore are "anti-American" because part of their proposals involve changing our mode of transportation and our expectations for ever increasing amounts of stuff.

In the end, it isn't the survival of the human species that is so much at risk-- human beings can adapt to almost any Earth climate and geography -- but the survival of a particular high-energy, highly complex civilization, Western Industrial, or whatever you want to call it.

Then the question becomes, what part of that culture is worth saving, and who is going to decide what is to be saved and what is to be discarded? Do we need a White Knights to make the hard choices and tell us what to do, or can we more democratically build an improved culture from the ground up -- by individuals consciously making better choices?

Or do we just sit back and wait for the Invisible Hand of the marketplace work its wonders by default? The default option will certainly work, but it doesn't quite seem the best choice to me.

I don't think many 80 year old think too much about money. However, it is true that any businessman knows that for a project to be successful, it needs to be profitable. If I had a $1B to spend, would I give it away to charity, to be spent piece-meal to address immediate needs, or would I undertake a high-profile, high-risk project to set the world on a new course? Gates and Buffet went with the former, Pickens with the latter. I can't fault any of them, as they are still putting money with their words.

For wind to grow massively, as it must, there must be economies of scale coupled with overall profitability. If you had a choice of many projects to be a nation-leading pilot-project, wouldn't it only make sense to pick one that had a high likelihood of success, and then to work to ensure its success? Sure you would. And how do you make a major project successful? You market it -- to consumers (Picken's Plan website), to the media, and to local movers and shakers. In local politics, that means lobbying for favor and spending money to slant things your way. After all, you can be sure there is somebody sitting on a fair number of oil wells who has just been waiting for peak oil before they start pumping, and they're going to be doing their best to keep BAU.

To me, it's simple: oil is a dead-end. Wind and solar are the future. Any major wind project, however it's funded, marketed, or profited by, is still a good thing. This particular project appears to have a higher private-funding fraction than most energy projects, so let's get behind it and make it successful so other projects will follow.

Ask yourself, who will benefit if the Picken's project fails?

I don't think many 80 year old think too much about money.

That all depends. My 80-year-old grandparents thought about money all the time. That's because they didn't have much, and had to be very careful with the money they spent.

"don't think many 80 year old think too much about money."

That's just crazy.

My Uncle, Dad, and Father in Law are cited as case examples.

And if they're not thinking about money, then Power.

And I'm wondering why Big Oil is not concerned about that
increasing Low Pressure Depression SSE of Jamaica forecast to be in the GOM Monday.


300 PM EDT JULY 18 2008


Make that Two Uncles, a Dad, and a Father in Law- 8D

On the 16 July DrumBeat, I pointed to a mini tropical mess over Florida. It exhibited lots of circulation and the tight circulation on the radar image looked much like a hurricane. As it drifted towards the East, both NOAA and NWS let it drop off their area of concern. Well, this afternoon, the thing has popped up again off the coast of South Carolina. It even has been given a new designation, 03L. The disturbance is beginning to look like a real tropical storm, as it picks up steam (literally) over the Florida Current. Just a reminder that the O.C.S. off the Eastern U.S. is another spot likely to expierence hurricanes, etc.

E. Swanson

Everybody wants some money, a few people want power, but most people want recognition and respect, and to attain whatever their personal definition of success might be. I doubt for TBP it's money or power either one, but I don't know the man.

I think most of us wish we were better compensated for doing what we already do, but we're unwilling to change what we do to become better compensated. Perhaps that means that a good bit of our compensation is liking what already do, or fearing change too much to bother upsetting the status quo. Excuses are easier to make than changes.

I don't think many Very Rich 80 year olds think too much about money.

Paying the bills this month is certainly not an issue for T. Boone,


No, but if it's what you've always done, it doesn't mean you stop just because you have too much or get older. It's a game for those who do it. I'm not willing to assess his motivations, and probably none of us actually know them. But often we don't even realize our own motivations for some of our actions if we don't sit back and analyze them.

As they say, money isn't a problem, unless you don't have any.

I think he is most likely motivated by his legacy. And I don't know much about his children and grandchildren..but probably something there too with leaving them something. He touts his cause as noble...I tend to believe him...but no doubt his motives are multiple.

I have read somewhat scandalous reports about Pickens wind project, which is wolf in sheeps clothing ...or as some say putting lipstick on the pig to get his water company revenues:


Having dealt with many billionaires in my prior job(s), I assure you that he is motivated by the competition, the comparisons with his peers, and being right. The common denominator of these is a surge of dopamine vs a baseline.

I agree. Like the Donald says, "Money's just a way of keeping score."

My personal sample set is just two, but they would fit your description.

I know several multi-millionaires that get off on just getting good things done, though, too.

Never met a billionaire, but I expect the drive that got them there doesn't just switch off.

Plus, "Pickens has five children and twelve grandchildren", says Wikipedia, which may also be a factor, although surely 3 billion / 17 is enough to get through college?

After hydrogen, solar and wind are the biggest scams in the alternative energy area. Solar and wind yield electric power, which is not what will move 18 wheelers, tractors/combines, trains, buses, ships, airplanes, much mining equipment.

18 wheelers -- these can go away (and gladly so) in favor of Alan's electric trains.

tractors -- no great solution here, but any liquid fuel (even CNG) or batteries could work to an extent. For that matter, run them on power cables -- the irrigators go in nice big circles, and the tractors could too. Just not the way we do it now.

trains - Electricity works fine for this. Just ask Alan.

buses - first hybrid, then either battery or electrified trolley car or tram. Nothing fundamental about buses, but a switchover will be expensive.

ships - wind is the last resort (it worked for 3000 years or more). Coal and oil, in ever-more-costly form, will work for a long time if that's all that's left. Biofuel would work for this too. Nuke will work, but it's expensive (just ask the Navy!).

airplanes - these are toast. What is left will have to pay the premium for what's left of oil, or biofuel. This is where a negative EROEI isn't necessarily infeasible, just expensive.

mining - underground mining could use electrified rail and electric diggers (heck, it might now for all I know). Strip mining could move to gas or electric with cables, with electric conveyors and rail for transport out of the mine. Again, hard and expensive, but not nonviable, I think.

My take is that if we can have ENOUGH energy at a decent cost point, we can solve the energy conversion issue.

There are plug-in hybrid buses that are already deployed in the US. In some cities (Seatlle), the buses use electricity (overhead tran wires) when in the city and shut off their diesel engine.

It is really difficult to get a reality check on this energy thing when we are trapped in "irrational exuberence".

"18 wheelers- these can gladly go away, ships - wind...it worked for 3,000 years...airplanes - these are toast...trains - electricity works fine...etc."

Let's all get in the way-back machine to the days when wind power worked for boats. In the meantime what do we do with the extra 6 billion people?

I'm actually pretty doomerish, but I don't at all buy that we should sit and wait vs doing all we can to change the outcome. Watching and waiting is one more flavor of BAU.

Trucks CAN go away, though, as can airplanes. It will hurt economically, but fundamentally those modes add a speed value for transport (the time is money part of the equation) rather than transport itself.

The economy WILL optimize for higher energy, and there was a time not too long ago when barge and rail was a much bigger fraction of shipping and trucking was a lot less. 1950 wasn't the dark ages.

I know there is value in painting a bleak picture to get people's attention, but the intention must be to encourage production change. Depression is valueless, while apprehension can be channeled, and knowledge IS power.

We cannot say "none of these options is good enough, so let's get the dying started". We have to look at the options, and pick at least the top handful to undertake as best we can. Chances are some will not work out, but some will do better than expected.

And when it comes to the extra 6 billion, my goal is that my family is not part of the excess. Rational self-interest is a powerful force.

If you look at the current paradigm and you arrive intelligently at the conclusion that a collapse is imminent, why would it be a good use of resources and attention to try and prevent that collapse? The current system is built upon the premise of cheap energy. Cheap energy is over. Why wage a futile struggle to try and reform a system that is ultimately unreformable?

Collapse is not the end of the world but a real opportunity for change. Wouldn't it be a better course of action to prepare for that collapse in ways that will help people adapt to that change?

To me, collapse with a subsequent stable reality is merely change managed poorly.

If a system is not reformable, it must be so because the people that compose it are nor reformable, and that is the postulate I hope to refute.

With vision, leadership, and motivation, a population can accomplish amazing things. Maybe the majority will change course, or maybe not, but even a decent minority can drive significant change.

Again, collapse may occur, but why wait to see? Let's endeavor to change NOW to a sustainable target (however meager it may be) and if we fail and our society collapses, what harm have we done?

To strive mightily and fail is no dishonor, if the goal is just. To stand inactive in the face of impending collapse is at best lazy, and at worst evil.

As I write this here in my office in Huntsville, AL, I can see the Space Center with its Saturn V relic. If ever there was a testament to man's ambition and ability, that is it.

I am not a cornucopian, but I do believe in the power of concerted effort. The Saturn program did not succeed because of 100,000 talented engineers, but because of 100,000,000 people who supported the effort. I guarantee that the vast majority of the current populace can understand priorities and will struggle and sacrifice as required to maintain their civilization, even if they're absent-mindedly sitting at Starbucks slamming the US and self-flagellating their lifestyle today.

Maybe we can't fix everything, and maybe we can't save everybody (heck, we fail miserably at that already!), but hopefully we can make things better. We can't wait for anybody else to rescue us -- sacrifice -- including hard work -- always best starts at home!

To stand inactive in the face of impending collapse is at best lazy, and at worst evil.

I am in no way advocating standing idly by. Instead I choose to support alternative systems (permaculture, local communities, downsizing) rather than wasting precious resources maintaining a civilization that has promised "endless prosperity" in the form of consumerism. IMO that is a dead-end. If all you want is to keep the cars and trucks moving, globalization and maintain the suburban wasteland you can count me out.

If I talk to people about sustainable economics they think I mean "buy a Prius". When I tell them it involves riding a bike and growing their own food they immediately tune me out.

Maybe we are more in agreement except for terminology and magnitude. If by "collapse" you mean the current system goes away, I can agree. If you mean "it goes away in a week or two, people riot by the millions and die from pestilence and starvation by the 10's of millions", then I can't accept it.

Certainly there is a gulf of understanding that has to be crossed, but for most it will need to be in steps. Many people just do what the other people they know do -- they drive their SUV full of kids from their big house in the suburbs to their private school in the city and complain about the cost of gas while running errands and hauling kids to events because that's what they do.

Those people are not going to immediately and happily give up their lifestyle, but they will make incremental changes, and they will do it enthusiastically if appropriately motivated. Certainly a Prius is much better than the SUV, and you're seeing a lot of those these days -- that buys us a few more precious days of time. Everybody will have a garden when it's "OK" in their social circle to do so, and the first go-round they'll spend too much money and get little out of it, but eventually as it becomes cool to be I-NPK savvy all the soccer moms will be able to grow organic produce in their back yards just as well as they can tend exotic plants in the front yards today.

Most parents don't shuttle their kids to private schools or live in expensive suburban neighborhoods because they really LIKE big mortgages and lots of driving, but because that's where the good schools are, and they want their kids to be well-taught, well-behaved, and successful. Today the money flows to the best schools and out of the worst ones in a nasty decaying spiral. To fix this you have to be able to drive the worst elements out of the mediocre schools, and with the current social structures when that happens people will cry racism and class warfare. Regardless, as gas becomes short you'll have upper-middle-class kids going to neighborhood schools (public or private) and more local activities and fewer drives cross-town.

At the point where most people don't NEED to drive cars, the kids are already on a bus or walking to school, and grocery-shopping is a once-a-week again, biking will become an option that people will consider. The same people will still be willing to work and sacrifice to give their children the best possible, just they'll be doing it a different way. At that point a move to a smaller, more affordable house (utility bills will be extraordinary by then), at most one car, and more localized life will be a social upgrade -- then they'll be with all the other people just like them again (or still).

People like you are a decade ahead of the curve. Maybe I'm one year ahead, and maybe my wife is a year behind, but we're getting there. It's gotta be frustrating being the visionary and path finder, but really, would you want it any other way?

I am very happy to be able to long term influence local environmental policies etc to make the local society more sustainable, efficient and able to produce a lot more of usefull stuff for a post peak oil world.

Its not hopeless since so much already have been done, manny things are being done and being an curious engineer kind of person I know about hundreds of good ideas. I know that we dont have to be withouth electricity, nitrous fertlizer, gas and oil for chainsaws, fuel for local logistics, heat for the district heating systems and so on.

I expect some parts of the current consumption to become too expensive when oil prices go up, avialability go down and hundreds of millions of people work realy hard and enter the middle class and bid up the global prices for clothes, toys, cars, furniture components, etc, etc.

But that is not a scary change when we have lots of electricity, lots of fresh water, well functioning and growing cities and towns, a reasonable and growing rail network, production larger then the local consumption in manny industries that mostly use electricity and local mineral and biological resourcers as feedstock and have world leading know how in a handfull of industrial sectors.

The political system works ok in municipiality and state level and a lot of our politicians actually listen to scientific advice including economical advice and most of our lobby is from production interests and not an oversize legal system. The middle level that mostly run our healthcare is a mess and in realy bad times I expect that average life lenghts will fall by half a year or a year when we no longer can afford the utmost efforts for elderly patients. That will be a tough debate but you can not leave children and people who could regain life quality withouth health care.

Even if we would fall back to 1950:s level of prosperity with much larger houses and way better physical- and telecommunications and toys I expect it to happen in an orderly way with most of the people working realy hard to make it good times in another way then during the epoch of large and noisy.

Post peak oil is like the 60-80:s build to get most of the population to survive the fallout from a small or medium scale thirld world war, the 90:s reformation of the pension system, ongoing work like paying off the state debt and getting rid of the CO2 emissions and barely started work like reforming the levels of government to make the administration more efficient and handling the demographics with an aging population that will cause troubles in the 2020s. We only have to shift focus and apply the same mechanism and to a large degree the same solutions as adaptation is forced by market mechanisms or influenced by politics.

I am quite fond of our political system. Our previous government were socialistic and the then current prime minister made oil independance a prioritized goal. Our current center-right government is using its political capital to tear up and renew parts of the old socialistical systen that do not work. The oil independance efforts are left untouched instead of used for political pot shots and the parts that makes sense commercially or for lowering CO2 emissions are being intensified.

To see government, corporate and private investments constantly increasing in post peak oil relevant areas gives me confidence. I am a lot less worried then I were two year ago and a lot more can be done if investments are made easier and that includes small efforts like micro scale power production and new small scale farmers.

And the closest neighbours to Sweden are run at least as well or better. Other countries could do the same and you do not need such an abundance of physical resources if you have can-do sprit, social capital and a willingness to change. We have to push politically to get people to change and move from handouts to work and you have it in your culture in USA?

And then you looked at infrastructure cost, and the fact this 90% of what you are talking about is not even in the planning stage, and then you woke up.

Yup, and I immediately said, "Boy, it's late. I guess we best get busy planning and figuring out the infrastructure investments".

What better day to start than today?

Who knows, maybe a 10% decline in us driving and a recession in China might buy us a few more years, and we'd start the turbines spinning just about the time the peak manifests, and have Gore's terawatts before Ghawar goes away.

The nice thing about wind power is that the incremental return will start accruing as the first units come on-line. At some not-so-distant point the averted energy cost of oil could fund continuing expansion, with a positive marginal return with each new installation.

The highway system wasn't built all at once -- they built some, and liked it, and built more. It seems like we've built enough turbines (and PV, and thermal solar) to see that we like it. Let's build more.

Again, what else would YOU have us do? Start digging our graves and drawing straws?


You are right, let's do something without thinking, and let's start today to waste the little bit of oil that we can afford to buy on something, no matter if we waste it on something will give us electric power, which we will have a surplus of in the great depression looming, when all factories and plazas will be closed.

What the fuck, let's just do it!!!

Full steam ahead says Paleocon, who doesn't even know the first thing about the problems ahead.

CJ, I know you've been doing this for a long time, and I'm relatively new. What do YOU think we should do to prevent a mass-suffering collapse? Or to simply mitigate it? All I'm asking for is as optimal plan as possible to use the remaining FF for best future value. I KNOW it's going to be bad, that's the great value of this site so far. But we NEED to change directions, and SOON. Surely we agree on that?

I'm all for thinking and planning, that's why I said "let's start". If we don't start, we won't finish. We might not save everybody, but if we save some, it's still a job well done.

Alan presented one high-level plan. Pickens another. Gore another. It shouldn't be that hard for the millions of sharp people in this country to come up with a reasonable plan -- we do it all the time for all sorts of reasons.

If our oil is spent on any renewable, at least it's not up in smoke in a Suburban. The sooner we spend it on building wind towers or solar cells, the less likely it'll go in somebody's gas tank. How is that bad? How can doing less somehow be better?


The only thing that will have anywhere near any effect addressing the converging issues is a fundamental cultural shift in the developed world.

This would require a "Well Informed Public".

Do you see that in our near future?

If not then get your a$$ in gear setting yourself and your close ones up to be ready.

What does it mean to be ready?

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm... now there is a good question.

Well informed public? Everybody has the Internet. If they want to know, they can know. It doesn't take 2 days of looking into the cause of high gas prices to figure it out well enough, so I assume most don't want to know. But that doesn't fix things, does it?

Well armed, well provisioned, and well away from the city?

Paleocon -

"...18 wheelers -- these can go away (and gladly so) in favor of Alan's electric trains..."

"...trains - Electricity works fine for this. Just ask Alan..."

Are you suggesting we have an electric train depot behind every wharehouse, department store, grocery store, and restaurant?!
Just where is the money going to come from to finance such an endeavor?
Tractor trailors are the reason you have food on the table every night to feed your bambino's.
I suppose you want to use nuclear power as your energy source for 'Alans electric trains'.
Can we deposit the radioactive waste in your backyard instead of an Indian reservation?

If this is the best we can come up with we're screwed.

Before we had interstates, we didn't have 18 wheelers, or none to speak of. Barge to the docks, rail to the interior, truck to the destination. Local delivery CAN be done lots of ways, including with oil. But we CAN save a lot by getting trucks off the roads. It takes a driver and a 400hp motor for each container, while on a train it takes a handful of engineers and a few thousand hp to pull hundreds.

There USED TO BE trains by every warehouse. There can be again. Sure, it'll be painful and expensive, and there might be shortages. The point is there is still time RIGHT NOW to make such changes, and there are no shortages RIGHT NOW. Local businesses can still be served by local trucks (they're not 18 wheelers now unless they're coming from an interstate distribution center), which can be hybrid or electric. That's just a few years out, if that. Europe doesn't use 18 wheelers for delivery much at all, in the places I've been. Neither does India, and they still have restaurants and shops.

Money is the least issue. If it's creating durable value, it should be a net positive for the economy, since we have people out of work today. We just need to set priorities -- no more road budget, lots of train budget. No more welfare, lots of work. Much less bureaucratic entitlement jobs, much more private industry.

I figure we'll power it with coal/oil/gas/nuke/hydro, with a big shift to wind. It won't be as fast and flexible, but it'll be more efficient, and it will keep us fed.

Besides, there will be enough vestigial US oil for high-value uses (transporting food is high-value, even if there isn't much fertilizer left). Without trucks we won't have 20,000mile salads and South American bananas, but we'll still have corn and wheat.

I think Leanan was talking about nukes, not me, but let's go there. Let's reprocess the waste (forget about proliferation - that cat is out of the bag, just look at Pakistan) and do the Yucca thing for now, and decommission when we have enough wind and solar. This isn't a game with nice-to-haves and wishes, it's survival. Who cares whose back yard it's in, really? Nuke waste is already somewhere, and it's not going away, so 2x or 10x more is just a scaling issue, not a new problem.

I'm not saying I have all the answers, I'm just saying let's get busy and do something that has a decent chance of improving our future. Solar and wind are both decent options, IMHO.

Do you have a better option? Let's hear it. It seems that "we're screwed" is where we started. From there we can do little harm.

As far as what you wrote, no, I do not have a better option other than extreme conservation.Your ideas are fair to be sure.But the big question is will Americans be willing to live like the people of Europe or even India?
America's infrastructure is so spread out it would take a monumental and an unprecedented cooperation between all levels of government to accomplish a conversion to an electric railway system in a timely manner.Corruption could easily abrogate the endeavor; and we are all painfully aware of our track record.
Your priorities are good in that you see food deliveries as paramount, and I would assume that you would be in favor of cutting waste.
The arms industry, and perhaps most of global industry in general, is intrinsically wasteful.
But this again proves whats really in the heart of man in general.There are shortages of oil happening right now in many parts of the world and its affects are being felt in very high prices in food production which is exacerbating riots and violence in some areas.Most Americans do not seem to be troubled by these events; and I do mean most.

I think the real answer to the solution, ultimately, will be if mankind can somehow change his nature of being selfish, and in the current paradigm it is very difficult for an iconoclastic person like yourself to really make a difference.

Fair enough. Extreme conservation is a noble goal, and even modest conservation would be, for most, a new endeavor.

Even if the conversions get somewhat side-tracked (and they will, until things get bad enough to hang the guilty and put people who can do the job in charge), any progress will eventually save lives. I figure every SUV that gets traded for a hybrid saves as much gas as every Corolla that gets traded for a bike, and it's a lot more likely to happen. Every one of those likely will literally save a life somewhere, maybe even a life per tankful?

As for the heart of mankind, he is the noblest and the most primal of beasts, depending on the individual and the day you observe him. I doubt the nature will chance, but sometimes you can get people to move in concert and that is far more of a difference than any one of us can do alone.

I think whatever America does it will not be quite Europe or India, but the evolving result could certainly be much more efficient and frugal than it is.

To quote James Howard Kunstler "Nature doesn't negotiate". On the downside of Hubbert's Peak Americans are going to have very little choice as to whether they want to live like Europeans or even Indians. Had the US invested in renewables or Nuclear, like France or Germany and done so 10 or 20 years ago, things would be different. Now the peak is upon us and all bets are off.

To be honest, I am scared s#!tless about the kinds of things that are going to happen WTSHTF. Look at some of the stuff that's happening now that we're on the bumpy plateau. The decline hasn't even started yet and one of my worries is that with EOR, in many cases when the decline starts, I fear it is going to be precipitous. All I have gleaned in the few months since I have become aware of peak oil indicates, for example, that when the water cut at Ghawar starts going up, the decline there is going to be rapid and Saudi Arabia will have peaked. You know what Matt Simmons has said about that.

My pointing out technologies that might make things better than they might otherwise be is not naivety. I just sincerely hope that, technology will help the human population decline to a number that is in line with the available energy, in a peaceful, controlled manner. Do I think it will happen? No but, I would really like to live to see my fathers age (90), without having to endure terrible hunger and pain.

Alan from the islands

As long as you have hope hunger and pain can be endured.That might be easy to say with a full refrigerator, but it's what I know to be true.Hard times bring out the best in some people and the evil in others.I can assure you with certainty though, in the consummation of 'the long emergency', life is going to be better than OK for those who endure to do the just and right actions until the end.

I expect such local efforts to create export resources like paper products, steam turbines, fuel efficient wehicles, power distribution equipment, etc that will have an important positive effect for tens of millions of people or more.

much of the infrastructure alan's plan relies upon, no longer exists. most of it has been torn up by salvage company's who melt or rework the rails into other things and sell them. right now mainly to china.
it's a good vision of what should of been, though the time, resources, and energy needed to replace all of this that was torn up for the past 70~80 years of the car is better used elsewhere.

The biggest resource we are lacking is will.


I expect peak oil leading to slow +40 m long +24 wheelers with combined cycled diesel engines that burn FT-diesel, methanol, DME, ethanol or biogas and use the heat in the exhaust. They make sense for rural logistics including transporting logs and other biomass from forests.

Are you suggesting we have an electric train depot behind every wharehouse, department store, grocery store, and restaurant?!

In stages, almost yes.

Every warehouse, almost without exception.

Local deliveries of a half mile to half a dozen miles by electric trucks are quite doable.

Trolley freight, running freight on streetcar tracks outside rush hour has been done, and can be done again.

A freight railroad runs down the middle of 5th Street today across the river in Gretna. Once tracks went through city streets throughout the Warehouse Districts of almost every city.

The speed on transition will depend on many factors, but the USA has made a couple of dramatic transitions in twenty years before.

From 1897 to 1916 the USA built subways in all of their largest cities and streetcars in 500 cities, towns and villages. And from 1950 to 1970, we trashed virtually every price of prime commercial property (called "downtowns") and many well built, established neighborhoods (called "inner cities").


Interestingly, the rise of highways destroyed the downtown here that it was intended to serve. The massive interstates went through middle-class housing, and drove out quiet-loving families on both side. Over time, one side joined with the "wrong side of the tracks" into blight, and the downtown was abandoned for the new suburbs. There are still valuable mid-town areas on the "right side of the highways", and that area is growing in popularity.

Many local sidings have been torn up in recent years as fill-in development increased traffic in manufacturing and industrial zones. It is a shame, since some of those tracks that inconvenienced drivers went the same direction the drivers do.

I would think that package freight could be delivered at night or early in the morning, freeing rail for passenger work during rush hour. But then, I think highways could be made truck-free during rush hour as well, but they're not.

And we did so in an era of abundant, cheap energy and an energy supply that was "growing." We are now entering an era of energy, and economic, contraction.

I'm thinking the two eras aren't exactly equal.



1897 to 1916 was *NOT* an "era of cheap, abundent energy". Coal was mined by hand with pick & shovel, a few tons per 12 hour shift. Horses and mules hauled it to the surface. Children and women sorted out the coal from the waste above ground. It was more dangerous to be a coal miner than a soldier or sailor in WW I. The price of coal was, adjusted for inflation, several times what it is today.

The result was a much lower GDP, about 3% to 4% of today (for 1/3rd to 1/4th of the population). Technology was primitive (simple hydraulic jacks would have made curving rail MUCH easier, instead they used brute force, sometimes aided by a fire or coals) Yet we STILL built the subway I took to ASPO-Boston (in 1897) and streetcars in 500 cities, towns and villages !

Best Hopes for not romanticizing the past,


1897 to 1916 was *NOT* an "era of cheap, abundent energy".

Yes, it was. A new world of natural resources was being exploited. There was a reason people were streaming to America. It wasn't because it was resource-constrained.

Energy was not "cheap and plentiful" !

Comparatively, the USA had more resources, but with the technology of the time (and lack of long lived infrastructure such as hydroelectric power plants), it took much more effort to extract those resources.

I suspect that USA produces as much energy with almost no effort today from hydroelectric plants as we mined coal (BY HAND WITH PICKAXES AND SHOVELS and mules) in 1900. And that hydroelectric energy is in a much more useful form.

Energy today is "cheap and plentiful", not so in 1900.


On 1900, the USA mined 51.2 million tons and shipped from the mines 45.1 million tons of anthracite (rest used in mining) and bituminous coal 205 million tons was mined (no mine use stats given).


In 2006, the USA mined 990 million (metric ?) tons of hard coal and more lignite (plus oil, natural gas, hydroelectric).

Comparatively, the USA had more resources, but with the technology of the time (and lack of long lived infrastructure such as hydroelectric power plants), it took much more effort to extract those resources.

What matters, IMO, is the ratio of resources to population. That has changed drastically since 1900, and not in our favor.

I think it's ludicrous to compare our frontier past with the resource-constrained future.

What matters, IMO, is the ratio of resources to population. That has changed drastically since 1900, and not in our favor

In the 1900 census, 76,094,000

http://www.census.gov/popest/archives/1990s/popclockest.txt, a bit more than 1/4th of today. Assuming equal ratios of mine use for bituminous coal as for anthracite, we have as much coal/capita today as we did in 1900. But today we have effortless hydroelectric power, oil, natural gas and growing wind, geothermal etc.

But we make MUCH better thermodynamic use of this energy today. A major use of 1900 coal was for railroad steam locomotives that were often in single digits thermodynamically. A modern coal fired plant can have 40+% thermodynamic efficiency and "to the wheel" efficiency on an electric loco of 36% - 38% or so (how does one account for regenerative braking in electric locos vs. waste in steam ?). More than 4x as much useful work from the same coal !

I think it's ludicrous to compare our frontier past with the resource-constrained future.

Yes, it will be MUCH easier in our resource constrained future, with equivalent human effort.

You do not seem to appreciate the massive amounts of work that went into pre-WW I industrial society. That coal was mined by hand, in 12 hour shifts, and hauled to the surface by mules, sorted for waste by hand. YET we built subways in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, elevated in Chicago, and 222 miles of streetcar in New Orleans, etc.

As noted, a half dozen 100 ton hydraulic jacks can do more than 100 laborers. And hydraulic jacks will not disappear. The same is true of all the other advances in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, materials engineering and computer controls, etc. for at least the next few decades.



Leanan already hashed this out before I saw these posts, so I'll let taht do for now, but just want to say you took me too literally. I was referring to the Petroleum/Carbon Man Era, not just those years. As Leanan pointed out, relatively, it absolutely WAS an era of cheap, abundant energy, and, as she also pointed out, one of GROWING abundance. That last point meant one could be reasonably assured of getting something back on investments. Can we say the same looking forward? Will large outlays for infrastructure see a return into the future? There is some doubt as to the viability of the global system, so...

As for your comparisons of labor... good lord, alan, do you rally think it's a sure thing to do the same for the support of 6.7 BILLION?

I hadn't thought you lacking in objectivity, but am slightly less certain of that now. I hope you are not getting too wedded to your dream.


relatively, it absolutely WAS an era of cheap, abundant energy


The only means of extracting the two primary energy sources of 1900 America were pick & shovel in a hellhole of very deadly mine, hauled out by mules and sorted by hand or with an ax and/or "misery whip" in the forests, skidded out by horse or mule. That was it !

The human labor required to extract energy in 1900 America made it neither cheap nor abundant. One consequence was a GDP/capita about a tenth of today (think 2008 Bolivia = 1900 America), another was much longer work weeks and much shorter life spans.

The raw energy available/capita was several times less (coal & wood vs. Coal + Oil + Gas + hydro & wood today) and the useful work that could be extracted from that energy was about an order of magnitude less/capita.

The American frontier closed in 1890, so the primary source of increasing wealth (in those days), farmland, had been shut down (later Bureau of Reclamation irrigation schemes in the West were still a couple of decades in the future then). The other source of increasing wealth, technology (aka progress), was just beginning to make itself known.

Expectations ? I think it is difficult to transport ourselves back into that era. Urban Rail was a revolution, dramatically enhancing affordable transportation (people moved from Manhattan to Queens & the Bronx & commuted to work for example).

The motivations of the USA from 2009 on will be quite different from USA 1900, but we will have several times more energy/capita and MUCH more effective use of our resources because of technology, so a much smaller comparative effort will be required to have a dramatic impact.

Could the USA, by investing in large amounts of long lived energy efficient & renewable energy infrastructure (and restraining population growth) support a population of 335 million in 2100 at 11% of today's GDP/capita ? I think that we could. I could see 250 million at a third of today's GDP but with an overall higher quality of life than today.

Could the world do so (7 billion @ 11% of today's GDP)? No.


Hardy any building is cheaper to build then a warehouse. Automated goods handling equipment is a lot more expensive but it can be moved to a new warehouse.

I expect large scale goods handling will be moved with a few years lag time after fuel price increases since it is a very competitive market. And the local large scale businesses is handlig this in an encouraging way. A few years ago Ikea even started their own rail freight company for goods to and from their main warehouse since they were displeased with the local rail freight market. (Its now sold and their rail freight is increasing. )

Regarding Ikea they stated in early summer that they are contenplating starting local manufacturing of sofas close to their stores since volume inefficient freight from a few global factories is starting to be too expensive. A well lubricated organization like Ikea can probably sort out such a change within two years.

Yes, oil is primarily used for transportation and I agree that hydrogen looks to be a bad choice for a transportation fuel. However, in spite of your repeated rants, electricity can provide transportation, just not with the same sorts of equipment as we are accustomed to use at present. With electricity, you can run machines in factories to make more systems to replace oil and solar and wind are the two main renewable alternatives. Of course, if society wants to accept the risks associated with nuclear electricity, such as a total authoritarian society, then that will happen too. And, lastly, with electricity, one can run HVAC equipment, even in Winter. Running a country on electricity is technically feasible. Whether it is economically or politically acceptable is another question entirely.

E. Swanson

do yourself a favor and look up things like the chemical and pharmaceutical feed stocks. but i will give you a hint, it would be hard for you to go through a normal day without touching something that needs a dirivitive of oil to be made. by need i mean it can't be made without it because there are no substitute material's. this would not even be a issue if it were 'just' a transportation issue.

Solar Heating is a direct offset of transportation fuels, particularly in the northeast where Heating Oil is still heavily relied upon.

A 'Scam', CJ, is something which doesn't work. Solar Electric and Wind are both extremely reliable technologies. They are fairly expensive, but that may be a message about the actual worth of incoming power, and an indication of how preciously it must be spent.

Your objections to electric trains remain unclear to me. You go into 'Rube Goldberg' terms again, but as a heavy lifter of both People and Goods with a simple and clean drive-system, it seems your objection must be ideological and not physical.

Out of Money? We're never out of money.. it's merely a symbol of exchange.

Expect a resurgence of Sailing Ships.. Does that not count as another of Windpower's potential for offsetting fuel use?


Jokuhl... I believe that it is possible to build steel hull sailing ships that will rival the speed of convential steel hull ships powered by bunker/diesel ice coupled to steam turbine.

Information can be found about steel hull wind powered cargo haulers in many places but if you check the links below, notice that the last of the strictly wind powered steel hull vessels averaged 16 kts. Compare this to the modern container ship which, depending on width, length and displacement averages speeds of 'For ships in the size range of up to 1,500 teu, the speed is between 9 and 25 knots, with the majority of the ships (58%) sailing at some 15-19 knots. The most popular speed for the 1,500-2,500 teu ships is 18-21 knots, which applies to 70% of these ships. In the 2,500-4,000 teu range, 90% of the ships have a speed of 20-24 knots. 71% of the 4,000-6,000 teu ships have a speed of 23-25 knots.' Of course, some of the really fast wooden hull sailing vessels such as the 'Flying Cloud' and 'Cutty Sark' often turned in average trip speeds of over 20kts. Wooden ships were limited to overall length by wooden construction. When sailing vessels began using iron frames they could be made longer and the speed increased. Total steel construction increased speed even more. A totally modern design from scratch could probably compete in speed with modern bunker/diesel fueled cargo haulers...imo.

Of course some compromise would have to be made regarding deck loading of containers on sailing vessels but modern shipyards and marine designers can overcome the problems even if designs require containers to be below deck. This would allow for a sailing vessel to manuver and handle in the wind much better than would containers on deck. Cargos would be less but speed would not be compromised a great deal with sail. Little compromise would be needed for sail powered bulk liquid carriers or dry freight carriers...these ships could compete without compromise with their modern counterparts.

Once large sailing vessels are at the harbor mouth they would be manuvered into place by harbor tug, much as the current steam turbine ships are in many locations.

Shipping might slow 20% at most but commerce could continue. The jit model would suffer...But so what? The economic model is going to change anyway. Switching back to sail will take time...but, so will switching from trucks to rail. We have a lot of adjustments to make but I see no obstacle that cannot be overcome in shipping and rail. What is of vital importance is to direct gdp to segments of the economy that will add to gdp. The market is good at making this sort of adjustment if the meddeling hand of government is kept out of the directing. For a good example look at the current housing mess which was not created by the 'unseen hand' but by idiots with control over the economy that they should not have had. Common sense, iow.

'The barque rig can outperform the schooner rig , can sail upwind better than full-riggers, and is easier to handle than full square rig. The usual cargo capacity was 2,000 to 5,000 tonnes. Usual windjammer cargo was bulk, such as lumber, coal, guano or grain. The largest windjammer ever built was five-masted full-rigged ship Preussen, which had displacement of 11,600 tonnes. She was also one of the fastest, regularly logging 16 kn average speed on transatlantic voyages.

Windjammers are often confused with clippers, but they are two different breeds. A clipper is a sailing vessel optimized for speed; windjammers are optimized for cargo and handling. Most clippers were of composite construction, full rigged and had cargo capability less than 1000 tonnes; windjammers are of steel construction, usually barques and have far greater cargo capacity. The clippers had already begun to disappear when windjammers emerged.'



why not have the rigging mount onto a container that snaps in with the strapdown stuff? I mean those containers are tied together just a little bit of smarts I bet sails could be fitted with little effort and be removable to allow for normal container removal.. Or am I just insane? Vasa comes to mind if I am wrong ;-)

However I do think that it could be done steel is incredibly strong.. Small engine by comparison to hook it all up via hydraulics and it could be manned with little crew. I bet it would work :)

Instead of flying spinnakers downwind you could use giant kite-sails as well. Once you get them up high, the wind is strong.

Were there ever any major ships built with steel masts? The sailing ship of today could vary from the ships of yesteryear as much as the America's Cup boats have. Even massive catamarans could be envisioned to maximize sail area and control.

Plus, with GPS and satellite weather, many of the issues with doldrums and storms could be evaded. Plus, you could always carry bunker fuel for emergencies -- it would just deduct from profit when you had to tap into it.

All to often I've seen JIT turn into NQIT (not quite in time) with more spent for expediting than inventory stocking. For a lot of cargo the inventory carrying cost is not that high. Plus, as mentioned before, globalization is going to decrease so remaining cargo will tend to have more intrinsic value, else it will be replaced by local offerings.

I believe container shipping will decline but not so with bulk liquid and dry freight. Think about what is shipped in containers and what will be shipped in containers as the economy evolves. Local manufacture will be more attractive. It already costs more to ship a load of iron ore to China from Brazil than the cost of mining the ore and getting it to port by rail. Shipping costs rise with FF costs.

Container ships when loaded are subject to crosswinds and would be difficult to manuver with the 'additional stationary sails' of containers high in the air above deck. The cross section of hull combined with cargo needs to be low in comparison with sq ft of sail. Containers would work against the sails for they are stationary.

We have excellent marine engineers and architects to design new vessels. They would be models and thoroughly tested in water tanks prior to construction. Lots of talent chaffing at the bit to take on a project like this. It is doable.

River - I lived aboard in San Rafael in the SF bay for many years. Was the last in the marina with a gas powered gray marine aux. with up draft carb (insert multiple curse words here IRT that carb).

I have several patents around sail power and even marketed through west marine (Wal-Marine)for several years but don't hold that against me.

Take a closer look at the fully battened Junk rig, in particular Colvin designs for shoal draft, bilge keel, steel hull cargo schooners.

IMHO they are the most efficient sail craft on the water.

I'm sure CJ can speak for himself but what I think he's saying is not invalidating the legitamacy of solar or wind as viable technologies rather that the notion that they are the antidote for peak oil and climate change is patently absurd and that could be considered a Scam.

I can't see how they won't help peak oil and climate change, though such would be just one part of a solution. The elephant in the room is over population, but outside of that renewable energy and sustainable farming seem to me to be key, and cheap electricity will better enable a differentiated technological society.

Again, I'm not saying it's a panacea, and I see myself closer to doom than cornucopia, but I think we owe it to our society (and my children, for me!) to make the crash least-bad.

If a train is headed to a switch, and you can see it's switched the wrong way, thereby heading the train to a disaster, and you don't know now to throw the switch, what do you do? Stand there and watch helplessly, or try to do something to the switch anyway? Until the train is passed, there is still hope.

Maybe the reality is that many of you believe we're past the switch point, while I still think it's worth trying the switch. Heck, even if you throw it as the train is going by you'll wreck the train but some will survive.

Years ago when I was in the Air Force stationed at a TAC base in LA there was an A-7 squadron jet with a gear up emergency. He had his wing-man verify that his gear were not down and he did two fly-bys to verify. He had no choice...he was going to crash land...no way out! If he could have ditched it in the swamp he would have but then he could drown or be eaten by alligators. He took the other option to dump fuel and land on a runway after we soaped it. When that pilot landed gear-up you could see the sparks from the next town. Good call however...the pilot walked away. The aircraft however was done.

A lot of people are saying that we are already past Limits To Growth. The point of this blog, TOD, is to make accurate, intelligent observations about where we are in relation to peak oil, resource depletion and overpopulation. Are we past being able to salvage infrastructure? Is a crash imminent?

If you believe it is then the logical question is can we mitigate the crash or will it be out of control? Fear can be a good thing. It keeps us alert. But at the same time we need to start making some real good decisions - Fast.

Perhaps we should be a lot more worried than we are. No?

I would not count on getting money from the dems, repubs or government going forward. We are the dems, repubs and government. Funding is going to become problematic and fast. It is all about the economy. Ask yourself this question...Why is this administration suddenly willing to talk to Iran and agree to a timeline for troop withdrawal in Iraq? Check this out:

'Taxpayers Can Bear No More'

This story is from the UK but the same situation applies here: Taxpayers can bear no more, admits Alistair Darling.

Taxpayers are at the limit of what they are willing to pay to fund public services, the Chancellor has said in an interview with The Times. In his gloomiest assessment yet of the state of the British economy, Alistair Darling gave warning that the downturn was far more profound than he had thought and could last for years rather than months.

He revealed that he told Cabinet ministers this week that there would be no more money for schools, hospitals, defence, transport or policing.'...snip...


".....Mr. Pickens will appear next month in Las Vegas with several famous Democrats, including former President Clinton and former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, at an energy summit hosted by Mr. Reid and the Center for American Progress Action Fund...."

I think T-Boone should forcefully predicate Matthew Simmons protocol of conservation as the best way to handle the energy crisis during his trip to Las Vegas.He should say something like - "...You know Harry, the best way to handle the onset of peak oil is conservation...I humbly submit to you that the best thing society could do is curtail its unnecessary use of fossil fuels - namely in industries such as entertainment and superfluous retail.Just think of all of the oil that could be directed towards functions of society that would be beneficial to its health such as farming and housing for the poor.Energy = money Harry.All you would have to do to help alleviate the peak oil crisis would be to close down Vegas, you know, turn off the switch....Don't worry about work for the residents of Las Vegas - we could relocate them and have them do more productive work for society in general...The strippers could find jobs picking fruit or something similar, since they really do not have an education or skills to speak of.On the plus side for all of the perverts - they could still play with tits - they could milk dairy cows by hand all day if they wish....
I think this would be a good start on the road to truely finding an answer to our energy dilemma.Wouldn't you agree Mr. Reid...?"

Interesting development on the political front.

Idea of gas-tax holiday runs into a dead end.
Talk now is to raise tax a dime a gallon to fund road improvements


Imagine that paying for things as you go. Could this be the dawning of the new Age of Reality?

I'm thinking about writing a short post entitled "I Demand A Congressional Investigation into the Decline in Energy Stocks". Energy stocks, as measured by the EPX index declined 25% in last month. This week alone the financial index rallied 20%+ and energy index was down 15%.

I'm of course being facetious, but all this debate and handwringing in congress to lower oil prices and at the same time pull out all stops to buttress financial stocks sometimes seem a bit misplaced (and frustrating). Energy, not finance, adds value to our economy and social system. The short-termers in Washington continue to ask the wrong questions. Yes we need a healthy banking system, but the more get out of jail free cards that are passed out (new rules on shorting financial stocks, possible government equity injections into FNM and FRE, etc.), the further we are from real, lasting solutions with accountability.

Energy and finance are of course linked, and without healthy banks and high energy prices, energy companies might not get loans, financing, etc. for important new projects that will lessen the future decline rate we face. But the core issue is energy, and too much effort is spent on 'lowering' energy prices and bailing out banks and not enough on the root problems.

Well the next election is probably the most important one in the last 50 years. A Mcain victory is important for the neocons. If they can make people believe its happy times through Nov then people will probably go with Mcain.

You gotta be kidding. You really think there's a difference?

I don't see this election as being important at all. Which party is in the Oval Office is only important for social issues. (Gay marriage and that kind of thing.) President McBama is going to be swept along by events when it comes to things like energy, the economy, and foreign affairs.

I think its important for the Neocons. I don't disagree with what your saying. But getting Mcain in would allow them to move faster. I think that they recognize that the situation is unstable enough that they need to consolidate power fairly rapidly. Its not the final outcome thats in doubt but the rate at which we change.

Mcain means a fairly rapid consolidation of power while Obama would slow the process down as more people need to be bought off.

Disagree. I think Obama's just as likely to roll over for the neocons. He's got to prove he's tough enough.

He's not exactly drawing a line in the sand over FISA, is he?

He's got to prove he's tough enough.

Obama survived and thrived in the bare knuckle politics of Chicago and Illinois and trust me, the issue of whether he is tough enough is misplaced. I don’t know where this idea that he is some kind of starry-eyed idealist originated. Now what his real politics will be is another matter.

See this article: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/07/21/080721fa_fact_lizza/?yrail

I heard the author interviewed on NPR.

Oh, I agree. Obama is a typical Chicago politician, and anyone who's surprised to discover this is a sucker.

But it doesn't matter. He's a Democrat. The Mommy Party is always going to have their bona fides questioned when it comes to defense. Even war hero Kerry was not immune.

Kind of an "only Nixon could go to China" kind of thing...

From over here, the main difference between your parties are their logos (brand).

I paraphrase Douglas Adams, "the purpose of the democratic process is to draw attention away from who really wields power".

I am almost done reading "The Shock Doctrine" by Naomi Kein - just starting the Disaster Capitalism Chapter - and so may be unduly under "her influence".

I assume that the intersection and union of the neocons and Friedman-style Chicago School of Economics practitioners are nearly one and the same.

It seems as if during the Clinton years - certainly the early years during the Russia "experiment" transitioning from the Bush 1 years - that the neocons were still quite in control.

However, according to the book, that particlular "experiment" was notable because of what the IMF and Treasury did NOT do - as in dangle aid for sweeping economic reform to a deperate Russia and former Soviet States. It was the Chicago School "boys" at the IMF and Treasury who made that call and Clinton went along.

Forward to the Asian experiment - let's call it what is was A DISASTER - where the experiment was predicated on the idea of manufacturing a crisis. This started wholly under Clinton years.

The result of the Asian disaster seemed to be a backlash to this type of economic (and political?) engineering at the WTO talks in Seattle in 1999.

Thus, I believe according to Klein, was the evolution of Disaster Capitalism as I will read about in the next few chapters. Start a war - wars - under some pretext that serves as the shock in order to dangle IMF Chicago School economic "reforms".

My point, I suppose, is that under McCain the use of war as the shock is probably more likely - consistent with Bush 2. But equally under O'Bama I am not comfortable that the neocons would be stopped from messing around and messing up the world.

Perhaps the neocons and corporatists are TPTB that are often referred to. It is them and that way of thinking that seems to be the common denominator for many of the word's ills since at least Reaganomics ( Trickle Down Economics aka Voodo Economics).

All IMHO - I could be wrong.


well, you think that USA would go in Iraq if Gore won the 2000 election

Yes. It was inevitable. That's where the oil is.

Just like robbing banks?

But why the single-minded focus on more oil, which everybody will want, versus alt energy, which seems to have little competition? I see no reason we could not be the world leader in composite wind turbine manufacture and deployment. We could shoot for dilithium-inventium battery leadership or whatever as well.

In business, I have learned that a company that wins a growing market share in a declining market only deceives itself as to its success. And we're likely going to have declining market share in oil reserves, so we're deceiving ourselves doubly so.

It's time to move on, and find a different market to dominate.

Oil may be declining, but it is still #1 business in the world. I am not exactly sure, if Gore would go to Iraq, but I will say one thing:

Every media nowadays says Iraq is a failure. What failure? Oil deals are being signed, it is mission accomplished.

France are the biggest scoundrels of alll, they opposed the war in 2003, fast forward today, Total is signing a deal in Iraq. France is here portrayed as an ideal country postpeakwise, however they are undoubtedly most self-centered nation in Europe.

I also fail to comprehend, what will be tgv used for in coming neofeudalism.

Lieberman was Gore's Cheney

This is of course all thought games, and does not show what each person truly believe in, but here goes:

Focus on oil grab, because
IF peak is near (high probability)
AND IF decline is relatively fast (medium-to-high probability)
OR IF there is an added downside, like ELM, terrorism, political production curtailing (medium-to-high probability)
AND IF alternative liquid fuels do not scale fast enough (very high probability)
AND IF economy is highly dependent on oil lubrication (extremely high probability)
THEN oil 'grab' is the short-to-mid term solution, regardless of alt energy.

It's contingency planning for current energy systems, current businesses, current politicians in power - in general current BAU.

ALT energy can come later, if the system to build it (BAU) is still here, working and able to decide, plan, finance and build it.

Again, it's just a thought game. I don't necessarily believe it myself, just show that such a model has been brought up by various writers.

This makes sense, if one leg of a stool. A one-legged stool isn't terribly useful.

If there were currently funded plans for development alt-energy and pointedly encouraging conservation, it would be a stool one could sit on.

Ah...most milking stools are one-legged and they are quite useful, but I know what you mean.

Good point. Useful, but not terribly stable!

I've seen one legged stools at racetracks. As with anything you shouldn't dismiss things out of hand just because you are not used to them.

Just like robbing banks?

Not quite. I don't believe the neocons actually wanted to steal Iraq's oil. That might have been a nice bonus, but what they really wanted was a secure footprint in the Middle East. A base from which the US could project its power throughout the region and protect the oil fields and oil transportation routes.

The Saudis weren't going to let us expand our bases there. Instead, they told us to get our bases off their land. That was what ticked off bin Laden: US bases on sacred soil. I believe the neocons honestly thought invading Iraq and moving our bases there from the land of Mecca would reduce the risk of terrorism.

Would Gore have bought that line? Maybe not. (Though many were disappointed and surprised when Clinton got us into the Bosnia war.) But whether Gore went along with it or not, it was going to happen eventually...until it was proven not to work.

But why the single-minded focus on more oil, which everybody will want, versus alt energy, which seems to have little competition?

IMO, this illustrates why alternate energy will not let us continue BAU. If alternative energy is so great, why isn't it used more? The answer: it isn't so great.

And no, I don't expect President McBama to admit this. It would be like saying the American way of life is over. Even if they know this to be true, they aren't going to say so.

My "robbing banks" was intended to be a touch of humor "because that's where the money is". But your response is insightful nonetheless.

I think the aspect that I have personally come to grips with is that a much less consumptive lifestyle, but with a stable economy and society in which to raise my children is infinitely preferable to continuing BAU with the promise of constant war followed by economic collapse. Wind and solar energy "isn't so great", but it beats the other options and vastly beats the BAU future. Let's go gangbusters that way while still seeing what else some smart people might invent to make things better.

Rolling back to 1950 levels would be better than 1800, in any case.

I think the aspect that I have personally come to grips with is that a much less consumptive lifestyle

You have, but the rest of the world has not.

And much of the rest of the world would be ecstatic to have a US 1950s standard of living. Indeed, what led Matt Simmons to the idea of peak oil was realizing that the world might not have enough resources to bring China to even the level of Japan in 1960.

a stable economy and society in which to raise my children is infinitely preferable to continuing BAU with the promise of constant war followed by economic collapse.

I don't think wind and solar can provide a stable economy. I think each generation will have a lower standard of living than the one before it. The reverse of the American dream.

Wind and solar energy "isn't so great", but it beats the other options and vastly beats the BAU future.

I'm not so sure about that. As someone here used to say, I foresee a lot of nuclear energy or a lot of poverty in our future. Possibly both.

Rolling back to 1950 levels would be better than 1800, in any case.

It would be, but I'm not sure either is possible.

Umm, you're not help my "bargaining phase" very much. Maybe my "acceptance" is not yet complete?

I take it as a given that we'll have more nukes, CNG cars, lots of hybrids, and all sorts of other stuff during a long, painful transition period.

I can't see that ramping for nukes will be less costly or more successful than ramping wind, though I'm willing to see the evidence to the contrary. I see low costs for nukes in the $5-$8 per watt and high at $24 per watt once decommissioning is included, vs $2-$5 for wind and $3-$10 for PV.

But I also know that the high numbers are from antagonists and the low numbers from protagonists, and all have a stack of assumptions.

Still, given our massively lopsided addiction to oil, the only sage answer is to do ALL the other options, as it'll still be cheaper than paying $250 gas (and we're there now, if you listen to those who add in war costs, inflation, etc.).

As for a society for my kids: harder work than I had isn't too bad. Harder than my parents and grandparents had is survivable too. I'd like to not go back to sharecropping and feudalism, in any case. Most of all, I don't want basic medical (vaccines and antibiotics, and emergency surgery) to go away.

I think it's too late to shoot for any more growth (and eternal growth is a fallacy all by itself), but some sort of managed decline and soft landing would be far better than mass starvation and riots in the streets.

I take it as a given that we'll have more nukes, CNG cars, lots of hybrids, and all sorts of other stuff during a long, painful transition period.

The question is...transition to what?

IMO, this is the most important question, and one most people avoid (either because it doesn't occur to them, or because it's just too depressing to contemplate).


I understand the sentiment but I don't agree with it. It makes a difference what kind of fascism you have. Mussolinis and Hitler were very different.

If we had gone in with the U.N. and bought off the French, Chinese and Russians by honoring their contracts for Iraqi oil, it would have been a major not a minor difference.

With Obama we will have cooperation among the imperialists for the domination of the Persian Gulf. With Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld we have had a unilateral domination that makes a world war very likely. If McCain gets elected dig a bunker.

If we had gone in with the U.N. and bought off the French, Chinese and Russians by honoring their contracts for Iraqi oil, it would have been a major not a minor difference.

Disagree. I don't think it would have made a whit of difference.

Leanan "I don't think wind and solar can provide a stable economy. I think each generation will have a lower standard of living than the one before it. The reverse of the American dream."

There appears to be two mind-sets on TOD. One POV looks at a collapse as imminent and the other POV is that we can manage the collapse or avoid a collapse altogether. There appears to be a lot of name-calling (doomsters vs. cornocopians)that is counter-productive.

One thing that might be helpful going forward will be to arrive at agreements on reality such as:

1. Peak Oil is either here now or will arrive in the near future.

2. Current population and resource consumption is un-sustainable.

3. The U.S. Govt has overreached in an effort to sustain the unsustainable.

4. The modern global economy in it's current form is likely to fail in the near future.

IMO Collapse is not the end of the world but offers the opportunity for a change in consciousness in how we relate to the planet.


personally, i think it's a mistake to think the collapse will be liner when all the systems leading up to it are not.

i would like to submit the earthquake as a example of how i think this will play out.

IMO Collapse is not the end of the world but offers the opportunity for a change in consciousness in how we relate to the planet.

This is either profoundly delusional and romantic ... a return to The Garden of Eden perhaps ... or you are using "Collapse" in a sense that differs from how most people understand the word. Collapse (by any reasonable measure) would be catastrophic, and lead to the deaths of many millions of people, and impoverished lives for most of the remainder, probably for generations. It is not likely to be some voluntary, community-based effort, where six billion people head off happily to their tree-change or sea-change field of dreams.

Well, since we're already in the process of collapse (albeit in the early stages), I'll concur with you: so far it doesn't seem particularly romantic to me.

There appears to be two mind-sets on TOD. One POV looks at a collapse as imminent and the other POV is that we can manage the collapse or avoid a collapse altogether.

Strongly disagree. I think collapse is inevitable, but not necessarily imminent.

And that postponing the collapse may actually be the worst thing in the long run.

This does not look like some "opportunities" to me:

According to energy investment banker Matthew Simmons, global oil production is now declining, from 85 million barrels per day to 60 million barrels per day by 2015. During the same time demand will increase 12%.

This is like a 45% drop in 7 years. No one can reverse this trend, nor can we conserve our way out of this catastrophe. Because the demand for oil is so high, it will always be higher than production; thus the depletion rate will continue until all recoverable oil is extracted.

Alternatives will not even begin to fill the gap. And most alternatives yield electric power, but we need liquid fuels for tractors/combines, 18 wheel trucks, trains, ships, and mining equipment.

We are facing the collapse of the highways that depend on diesel trucks for maintenance of bridges, cleaning culverts to avoid road washouts, snow plowing, roadbed and surface repair. When the highways fail, so will the power grid, as highways carry the parts, transformers, steel for pylons, and high tension cables, all from far away. With the highways out, there will be no food coming in from "outside," and without the power grid virtually nothing works, including home heating, pumping of gasoline and diesel, airports, communications, and automated systems.

I used to live in NH, but had the opportunity to move to a safer place. Anyone interested in relocating to a nice, pretty, sustainable area, good climate with much rain and good soil?

Also, see my comments here today on surviving in the Northest U.S. It is not pleasant to think about, and I don't see many opportunties.

Warm regards,

The gloomiest of doomers, :)

Clifford J. Wirth

I think Leanan is being far too pessimistic about solar and wind etc. I think any nuclear buildout will be too modest in scale to make much of a difference. Wind and Solar aren't that bad, they are among the few energy techs where improvements in the technology are bringing down costs faster than commodity price inflation is bringing it up. But, it will be a tough transition. The post transition world will not be as wealthy as the current one, and because of lack of preparation we will likely undershoot (become poorer than the eventual post transition equilibrium economy). The post FF transition economy, will be different in at least two fairly profound ways from BAU. First it will not be based upon growth of the materialist part of the economy. The second is that energy availability will be time variable, and we will have to arrange our lives and our economy around this (not entirely predictable) variability.

Modern politics are nothing more than tried and true mellifluous Hegelian dialectics.

People who support and follow any politician need to find some common sense....

Or a life.


Big money is more concerned with FNM/FRE than with PO. Sure, they know about PO, but since it is not an immediate threat, they don't deal with it. OTOH, they cannot just let the housing market to fail overnight. There is still some money to be made.

I stumbled into this title at cnbc: With all this insecurity going on with FNM/FRE, lock your mortgage rate now. What a friendly advice, huh ;)

i am trying to be a journalist, but my editor doesnt care what I am talking about, he just cares that the text is read by as much people as possible so he can sell more advertising space.

it is a sick world...

Nate -

I think devling into this topic would be fantastic. Personally, I would title it:

"I Demand A Congressional Investigation into why Congress is in Paralysis to do anything about our Energy Situation".

Seems that between the two parties we have the following IMHO:

- Burn the speculators at the stake - likely to pass legislation
- Drill here there and everywhere - unlikely to pass legilation
- Sue OPEC - what the hell
- Steal the Oil Companies profits - not likely
- Renewable and Nuclear bills - I am not aware of any bills being proposed here.

Note that there is nothing regarding forced energy conservation...that I am aware of at least. What other things SHOULD they be discussing.

Oil prices tumble in biggest weekly drop ever

It seems like we are back to happy times again... :P

Of course not... Thats what politicians think.

yep, looks like the $140/ barrel stuff sopped up all the loose change, credit card limits and the few dollars a day earned by folks in the poorest 90 or so countries. Next time it will get some of the rest of us living on the margin. What a ride!

Because of late planting and replanting after the MidWest flooding in several states, there is now danger of an early cold snap that might cause further damage:


Catfish farms were closing as high feed costs have taken away profits.

Raising corn in Colorado now costs about $4.00 a bushel:


Corn futures have been falling due to the commodities sell off.

With ethanol investors yet expecting profits, expect the amount of corn needed for ethanol production to escalate and grain prices to escalate as well.

With ethanol investors yet expecting profits, expect the amount of corn needed for ethanol production to escalate and grain prices to escalate as well.

Pls explain.

This weeks falling corn prices do not mean better margins for ethanol producers. Ethanol prices are now tracking corn prices at a constant crush margin range of only $0.10 - $0.25 a gallon, holding operating margins below 5% for most producers (and negative for many). Ethanol futures prices should stay depressed for the rest of 2008, in the range of $0.50 - $0.65 below the price of RBOB futures. Between expected 2008 U.S. ethanol production and imports, there should be over 500 million ethanol gallons placed on the market in excess of the RFS which will probably force ethanol prices to remain unlinked to crude oil prices.

Nate, there is an interesting chart at The Big Picture. It is titled 'The Ethanol Death Watch Map'... Scroll down page about 1/3, click to enlarge...

Ethanol DeathWatch Map
Posted by Barry Ritholtz on Friday, July 18, 2008 | 11:00 AM
in Commodities | Energy | Taxes and Policy
Regular readers know I am no fan of ethanol -- over-subsidized gasoline substitute that has helped to drive food inflation aggressively higher (and, it gunks up my engines!)

With the price of Oil down $18 over the past week -- off 12% from the $147 high -- perhaps its time to pull out the BioFuels/Ethanol DeathWatch Map.

Its a terrific Google Maps Mashup (via GigaOm) that shows the various biofuel plants that are having "hiccups."...snip...


I said years ago, I will consider biofuel sustainable when they can produce fuels profitably without subsidy and fuel trucks no longer deliver fuel to the farm.

Since ethanol only has about 2/3 of the BTU's as gasoline, a gallon of ethanol is not the same as a gallon of gasoline or diesel. Some ethanol producers are presumed to be operating profitably using corn stockpiled when corn prices were cheaper. We have not seen the full impact of higher corn prices in the markets yet as the retai price sometimes lags the wholesale price. The effects of some states requiring mandatory blending of ethanol with gasoline regardless of costs and some foreign countries striving to replace petrol/diesel with ethanol may continue to affect the price of corn, sugar, wheat and whatever else they used to make ethanol with. The full impact of corn prices on the price of meat is not expected yet. Livestock feeding operators have been selling off livestock and there is not yet a tremendous shortage of meat.

I clicked on a couple of the plants near me in North Iowa. I knew about the Poet plant near Glenville being cancelled. There is already an ethanol plant at Glenville and I was surprised that another one was planned so close by.

At the time they said it was because of approval delays which have taken up a year already. They were going to invest in Indiana instead, if I recall correctly. Poet is a large privately owned company and also has a plant in nearby Hanlontown.

Poet has been making ethanol for 20 years or more and was started by a Minnesota family. They have deep pockets and have seen worse than this.

The other icon I happened to click on was the one for the ethanol plant at Wesley. It was heavily promoted locally including by one of the co-ops in which I have a share. I am happy to hear that it has failed.

They were trying to raise $200 million for a 100 million gallon plant. This is about double what plants cost to put up a couple of years ago. I do not see how that plant would have survived even if they had been able to raise the money. They clearly got carried away.

Ethanol is like any other commodity. There is always a struggle for survival since the product is standard. Oil refiners are in the same type of situation with rising crude prices. Those who are poorly financed, have low volume or obsolete plants, high cost new plants or make management/hedging mistakes may not survive.

It is all good news for corn farmers like myself. The last thing I want is shaky ethanol producers who can't afford to bid up the price of corn. Those who survive the anti ethanol Jihad, high corn prices and low ethanol prices will be the best of the lot.

Reports of ethanol's death are highly premature. It is as sustainable as gasoline if not more so. Ethanol will still be around long after the last drop of crude has been extracted from the ground.

Ethanol is sustainable only if it can be produced without taxpayer subsidies and fossil fuel inputs including chemicals and synthetic fertilizers. A sustainable farm harvests the energy from the sunlight of this year's growing season and does not use fossil sunlight energy.

So name a farm or any other enity that is "Sustainable "

Many organic farms are sustainable. A good healthy soil, managed with good crop rotations, with good composting practices and inputs from integrated livestock operations and biomass from the local woodlot are productive into perpetuity.

When I was about 10 we visited my old family homestead in Europe. It was about a 20-acre farm (more or less) with a barn full of cows and the rest fields, plus a 300 year old farmhouse. Every day the cows were mucked into an underground pit (who knows how old -- the barn looked ancient to me then), and once or twice a year a specialized tractor would come suck it all up and spray it on the field, as they were doing when we arrived. It stank terribly, but the crops had grown there for generations, and there was always milk, eggs, and occasional meat for the table.

I imagine today the farm has been modernized, and in 30 more years it will back to the way it was.

I am a registered Organic Farmer and know of no "Sustainable Organic Farms"

Perhaps you can enlighten me ... Link ?

It is all good news for corn farmers like myself. The last thing I want is shaky ethanol producers who can't afford to bid up the price of corn

In Chicago, your mindset is reflected by the unofficial motto for the town - “Where’s Mine?“ Kind of sums up your motivation for backing ethanol.

I find it rather amusing that CNG is praised to the skys while corn ethanol is unmercifully slammed at TOD.

It takes 33974 Btus(34 SCF) of Natural gas(mainly drymilling and fertilizer) if you factor in the animal feed coproduct, to make a gallon of ethanol containing 75,700 Btus. This seems only fair as we will continue to eat meat, drink milk no matter what the price of food.


The Honda Civic GX CNG car gets ~30 mpge with a 250 mile range.
The 200 bar tank holds 664 standard cubic feet of gas.


An E85 car gets 72% of the mpg of gasoline so a similar Honda Civic
might get 21.6 mpg of E85 with a 12 gallon tank will get you 250 miles, so you get about the same out of a tank.

If you used the same 664 SCF to make corn ethanol instead of burn in your car you would make
19.5 gallons of ethanol (664/34), enough E85 for 1.91 cars
(19.5+(.15x19.5)/.85=22.4/12=1.91--assuming you can get the 15% gasoline(which seems likely for many years).

In other words out of the same size vehicle with comparable tanks
you'd get the same performance but by making ethanol you produce almost twice the fuel.

So again we have the triumph of cheap energy(relatively cheap NG)
over renewables in the market place.

CNG praised to the skies? Not here. You must be mistaking us for some other site. Maybe Pickens'?

Hi there TODers!

I've been looking for an excuse to break with my longtime lurking here and actually post something, and lately the increased pace at which things are coming unwound has neccesitated the channeling of a portion of my angst into something creative instead of the usual substance abuse! So without further ado (and with apologies if someone's already done this), here's a TODed-up version of a tune I'm sure we're all well aquainted with:

Oh great it's worse than an earthquake,
Try to fuel an aeroplane,
Uninformed means unafraid.

Eye of a hurricane, listen to the gulf churn,
World needs its oil needs, we won't have the world's needs.
Falling off a sharp peak,
Up then down,
The latter really matters no control down hole.
Mired in a fire while we're playing stupid games,
We got Blackwater for hire at the combat site.
Such a mess and getting grim, unequal to the people taken down a step.
TV news reporters baffled,
Bribed, muzzled dumb.
Look at what they're saying! Fuck them!
Uh oh overflow, population overload
See it yourself,
Save yourself, by yourself.
World grows the wrong weeds, listen to the earth bleed.
Worry not - the rapture 'fore disaster says the right - right?
The idiotic, cellusosic non-crude, mood food, feeling pretty screwed!

It's the end of the world as we know it. And right on time.

Doomsday clock - final hour, suitcase nukes and foreign powers.
Lesson learned our turn, fiddling while Rome burns.
Lock 'n' load, now invading, you're burning, we're getting.
Ready now to escalate, tankers to incinerate.
President's aggressive motive, step down, you clown!
Saudi's fields gush, gushed. No more this means,
War near there and here, media make fear,
Excrement, the excrement, the excrement we'll buy!
I see no solution save for radical alternatives and broad decline.

It's the end of the world as we know it. And right on time.

The mess that we're already in, mentioning it now a sin.
Who can lie through a grin?
Daniel Yergin!
He and his friends have, bended truth and dreamt up games,
Keep the party don't wait, hell he means doom!
Lack of tonic economic, means our neck, right? Right.

It's the end of the world as we know it. And right on time

Hey, good poem there buddy.

It's the end of the world as we know it. And right on time

I, hereby, honour you with the title Sir Fubard the Scaremongerer. :P

C'mon man, the world can't end so soon.. I am not even rich yet.

GauharJK - Just think, if McCain is elected and cuts taxes even more, you'll get to keep more of that when you do get rich !

So, you don't have to be rich to support tax cuts, just gullible.

heh heh hey it's not really even my line. This isn't a poem, it's a peak oil re-imagining of R.E.M.'s end-of-the-world song! Play the tune and sing along! :-)


I guess only poetry can really capture my true feelings. NICE JOB!

Every day I get up and read the headlines on TOD and see that Wiley Coyote has run further over the cliff. And yet the average person knows absolutely nothing. There is only one precedent that adequately captures the times we live in---- The Phony War. From September 1939 to May 1940 French citizens went on with their lives while German Panzer brigades assembled at their border. Everyone continued to live their lives ignoring the inevitable end of the world as they knew it.

Now we have have a Phony Economy
Phony Dollar
Phony Democracy
Phony Media
Phony Oppositional Party(The Democrats)
Phony Food Market
Phony Transportation
I have no idea what is going to end this false existence. Will it be run away inflation, a run on the banks, bombing Iran, declared martial law, a stock market crash, a sudden drop in oil production from Saudi Arabia---- I don't know what will cause the end of the world as we know it. I just don't think this slow squeeze we've been experiencing will last. Eventually reality will hit.

yep that's the source of my discontent these days as well. Not so much that people are looking at the same things I am and reaching different conclusions - more that I can't get them to look. At all. Even with things worsening to the point that this stuff is beginning to make the evening news, they're not interested.

I was unable to get my own mother (who actually spend '02-'04 in KSA for pete's sake!) to read Twilight In The Desert. She *devours* books, but she gave that one back 8 months later, unopened. I even told her it was really important to me that she at least skim it and tell me what she thought, but to no avail.
I've explained all this stuff to my dad dozens of times over, but he still drives his SUV everywhere and seems convinced that some magic goop he adds to his tank to marginally improve his mileage will pretty much save the day. We'll see how that works out for him I guess.
My brother says he's glad I'm thinking about this stuff so he doesn't have to. He's in sheet metal, so the decline of commercial real-estate and associated construction amid all this is apparently outside of what he "has to" think about.
My best friend of 20+ years refuses to look into things at all, says simply "when the government throws massive amounts of money at solving a problem, it tends to get solved", and goes back to playing videogames. He's off in la la land, and I simply can't reach him there.
I've about given up on my friends and family at this point. They know nothing about this, and they absolutely do not want to.

So I guess I need to make some friends here! Hey, anyone wanna start an ecovillage? :-)

Ford has a better idea. Remember that one? Just finished watching a bit of Motor Week on PBS this morn. For '09, the Ford "Flex". 16mph in the city, 22mph on the hwy. WTF? In America, we are raising incompetence to new levels. They've had 3 yrs to notice the world is experiencing energy issues like never before. Message to Ford..."This oil $ trend is not a cycle". I just can't believe this. Is there some other space / time continuum that American auto makers exist in? F.O.R.D: Failure Of Research & Development.!


I just had relatives over to Canada visiting from the UK. While here they saw an ad on a US channel for a Ford vehicle. Apparently one of the selling points was that it did a massive 24mpg. Even taking the different gallon sizes into account, they were completely stunned that this was considered to be something to brag about.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this is the point I have been making in many of my posts here. Where I live 25-35 mpg is considered average, 35-45mpg is considered good and excellent is reserved for 45mpg and up. Around here people who drive big V8 powered trucks are assumed to be successful business people, professionals, entertainers or gangsters. A guy on a salary would have to be retarded to drive one.

I get the impression that the many North Americans would not believe it if you told them that, an ordinary four door, four passenger automobile could travel more than 45 miles on a gallon of diesel but, that sort of fuel economy is commonplace in Europe and Japan (eg. VW Jetta TDi). The irony is that some of these high efficiency vehicles are made by overseas arms of GM and Ford.

Alan from the islands

Cars are not just about transportation, certainly not in the "between the coasts" parts where Ford and GM dominate. The not-coastal middle class has had it tough for the past 30 years or so. They cling to the "I'm a good ol' boy with a Big Willie (I mean Truck)" image. It makes perfect sense for tradesmen who need to carry loads and travel long distances to use a Suzuki mini-truck, which at 45mpg has about the same mileage as a Prius, has 4 wheel drive, and is half the cost of a Prius. This is what tradesmen in Europe and Japan drive, more or less. They don't have a Big Willie (I mean Truck) fetish. But, people in the U.S. do, and Ford understands this, because they've spent the last ten or fifteen years in the Big Willie (I mean Truck) competition. Just look at 1995 model trucks (Toyota included) compared to 2007 models. Ford sees a market for a Big Willie (I mean Truck) that gets a little better mileage, and understand that their core market is likely to pay up both in purchase price and gas expenses to maintain their I'm a Good Ol' Boy with a Big Willie (I mean Truck) image.

With that said, I think that in three years, gas prices will be so high as to pretty much drive the entire Big Truck culture over a cliff. At that point, a creative between-the-coasts middle class tradesman might drive a Suzuki mini-truck during the week, and a big-ass Harley (bought used for VERY cheap from some bankrupt dentist) on the weekends, for 1500 miles a year, and be perfectly happy with his new Big Willie (I mean Truck) substitute.

When you get down to it, a Big Bike is way cooler than a Big Truck anyway. So, let's call it an improvement.

Uh, econguy, how are these suzuki minitrucks even an option at this point?

I found http://www.americasminitruckcenter.com/suzuki-japanese-mini-trucks/ - is that what you mean?

#1 - they aren't legal for road use
#2 - they have less load carrying capacity than my mini-van (but 45mpg does sound good)
#3 - many guys I know that have big trucks have legitimate reasons for them, such as pulling trailers with heavy equipment (construction or farm), lots of tools to haul along, or they use the crew cab to haul multiple co-workers.

The Europeans have significantly larger diesel units with only marginally worse economy. This Volkswagen range gets 36-46 mpg (const. 56mph. UK gallon), depending on the body type, roof height, engine size and transmission. They are available with a trailer hitch as an option and can tow up to 5,500lbs. braked or 1,650lbs unbraked. One of it's competitors is the Ford Transit, not to be confused with the Ford Transit Connect coming to North America in the summer of 2009. There are others from Vauxhaul (GM UK), Renault, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota.

Alan from the islands

I'm by no means defending the US automakers, who have been living behind protective taxes and subsidies for years (light trucks, anyone) and by all accounts should fail, but I think the situation at large is more challenging than just the inability to do R&D.

The product cycle of the fastest big automaker in the world is seven years.

These are big, slow, clunky ships based on economies of scale and very tightly refined processes that they hate to take apart.

They know how to build some X very fast and efficiently.

But when the environment around them changes too fast for them and that X becomes irrelevant, what can they do?

Keep on building that X, hope for the cycle to 'normalize' and when it does not (three years wasted waiting), they start the next 7 year product cycle.

At this speed, the big automakers (sans Toyota) will have 'wised up' by c. 2015. Toyota has wised up or lucked out faster. Small and boutique makers can turn ship faster.

Coincidentally 2015 is the year when Mercedes has said they won't be producing anymore conventional gasoline engine cars.

Even though the environment and the consumers are shouting for new the new thing, we are not there yet.

Breakthrough of the best technology out of the laboratory does not mean it magically replaces every 'obsolete' conveyor belt in each factory in the world.

That takes several years, sometimes decades to roll through the whole value chain.

This is something I have very hard time getting across to some of the really hard line techno-cornucopians who are always eager to show off the latest breakthroughs of technology as the thing that will 'fix' whatever challenge we are facing, and fix it tomorrow and cheaply too.

Changing massive physical construction systems takes time and a costs lot of money. Execs and boards hate to make those kind of decisions, because they are always a big gamble. I don't understand why some people fail to 'get' this.

What's worse, is they HAVE to make the change at a profit. At least the gov't can choose to legislate for other goals, but a company cannot. When willing buyers choose big trucks, that's what they all sell (including Honda and Toyota, who no doubt had to suffer through years of "losing" truck sales to the Big Three, with much executive pain).

The reason Toyota and Honda will be successful is that they chose to take a risk on serving a niche market, and were initially rewarded by eco-sensitive buyers. That primed the production pump so now they are aligned for success with energy-sensitive buyers. Really their market has broadened, and it's a windfall opportunity (or prescient positioning - take your pick).

What each of us individually can do is to look toward the future and make purchasing decisions that will help the post-global, post-oil world:
- if you can, sign up for alt-energy electricity, though at a premium. Reward the wind risk-takers
- buy a hybrid. That'll save gas now, but more importantly it drives battery innovation.
- buy energy-efficient products, whether home appliances, light bulbs, or whatever.
- be an early adopter of new tech -- buy a few LED bulbs, consider a GSHP unit, install a solar hot water heater.

By choosing to swim upstream against least cost, you can personally reward investments in a more plausible future path, and thereby help start the economies of scale that will make it economically feasible.

In the end, we all still have choices. Let's make good ones.

You'll see some really nice 4 cyl. engines coming out from Ford, and G.M. in the next couple of months. They Might even catch the Japanese by surprise.

I was able to capture the first 1.5 minutes of Congressman Roscoe Bartlett speaking to me about Congress and Matt Simmons yesterday on video before my battery ironically conked out - 7/18/08 Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, Peak Oil, Frederick MD.

I pushed him and later his staffers to institute feed-in tariff laws in Maryland and Nation-wide.

I think I spoke to you at the conference just before he came around for photo ops. I was talking with you about my 3kw of grid tied panels that I installed myself and getting into the PV industry. I spoke to the DOE guy about implementing better standards/codes for housing.

RE: New Hampshire accepting Venezuelan oil.

You folks familiar with the Free State Project?

It's a major libertarian effort to take over New Hampshire by persuading enough libertarians to move there that a critical mass is created politically.

But with New Hampshire's poor beholden to Chavez, how is that going to work??

"Live free or die."

Easier said than done.

There are more Dems moving in from MA than libertarians.

N.H...Well, I have been to some Laconia MC Rallys there and have many friends in the state. I have also toured the state top to bottom several time and been to the Great North Woods Blessing of the Bikes. Beautiful riding in N.H. with the chain of Conneceticut Lakes, miles of woods with no buildings. Go slow for Moose and deer crossing the 2 lane highway. One change I have noticed in N.H. over time is that a lot of HA (Hells Angels) have moved into the state and co-opted local MC clubs.

A combination of Libertarians, Dems ,Republican right wingers, poor and Hells Angels...strange brew. Oh, and if you don't believe there are many on the extreme right in N.H. read the Manchester Union Leader for a few weeks. It must stick in their craw to accept cheap energy from Chavez. :)

But with New Hampshire's poor beholden to Chavez, how is that going to work??

probably about as well as it currently is. That project was never very effective (dare i say stillborn?). I think a lot of libertarians see the party as a way to push issues in to the mainstream parties. A decent chunk of the coveted "Independent Voter" block seem to have libertarian ideals, so it's not that unreasonable.

in a slight hijacking of this thread, is it possible to be a free-market, techno-cornucopian doomer? For example, believing that the free market is the best way to find a sustainable solution, and technology will come along to give us a better solution to fossil fuels. The problem is that it will happen in a time frame that most people don't want to wait for.

A TOD regular, Clifford J. Wirth, was interviewed about Peak Oil impacts on the nationally broadcasted program, "51% The Women's Perspective," by Susan Bartlett of WAMC Northeast Public Radio:


Right on Cliff (great doomer name) :)

Seriously, why Mexico? Unless you've found a really sweet spot I can't think of a good reason to be there.

Maybe a preemptive salmon approach? Swim upstream before the river of migrants even starts?

Where I live in Mexico is very sustainable, small town which is beautiful/colonial, the town plaza is alive with families, kids, balloons and kids stuff for sale, ice cream, hot dogs, almost no crime, good services, big city 10 kms away, walk the streets at any hour, politically stable, working with the town in planning for Peak Oil, elevation 4,000 feet, rain 2000 centimeters anually, very scenic, a small expat community which I am organizing with the town and coffee growers, got some folk from U.S. coming to live/retire here, the best coffee in the world for $7 a kilo, maybe 50 coffee shops, good inexpensive restaurants and hotels, high speed computer connection, COSTCO and Walmart 10 kms., inexpensive living, bought 12 acres on a river now planted in coffee, to be added: macadamia, citrus, figs, mangos, horticulture. He come visit, see, chat with other Americans/Europeans. I can direct you to photos. Great place for a vacation. Come on down. clifford dot wirth at yahoo dot com

Yes, I have a great name for a doomer and a gloomer, Cliff, drop over sometime

What part of
"50 coffee shops, good inexpensive restaurants and hotels, high speed computer connection, COSTCO and Walmart "
are "Sustainable " ?

What makes the town/area "sustainable" ??

What parts?

Water Supply, Arable Soil, Compatible Cultural/Social Setup, Secure Geography. Those are mine. I disagree almost manically with Cliff on some familiar points, but I don't disparage his choices in this regard at all. As soon as that Electric Rail junction is close enough to both our homes, I'm hoping to set up a Coffee/Maple Syrup swap.

There are supplies even at a big, dumbass Walmart today which will prove thoroughly invaluable to have access to for a while yet. Best of luck to us that we can find durable alternatives to the ones fully dependent on oil and the oil trade-routes.


Hey Bob,

Thanks for thinkin o me, but there will be no rail connections working anywhere after the highways and electric powergrid go out.

In June I took a trip to Albany to talk to 3 audiences on Peak Oil impacts. In the group that invited me, the Capital Regional Energy Forum CREF), is a physicist who teaches solar energy at RPI, and who had served in the Peace Corps.

He has solar powered just about everything, including a solar powered canoe which we went for long ride in on a lake in the Adirondacks, and a PV solar powered house and pump for his well. He repairs about everything on his house himself and he heats much with passive solar. So the guy knows his stuff. He is no ivory tower academic.

We talked for hours about survival in the northeast after the last power blackout.

It looks like hard sledding.

Eventually batteries and even the solar panels deteriorate. He thinks that he could store dry batteries with the liquid stored in glass to thus get "new batteries" after they conk out. But eventually the batteries and solar panels give out.

Cutting and moving wood without trucks, horses, and wagons will be "challenging." There are not many horses around and it will take decades to breed enough horses to go around. Horses require food, care, vets, and medicine. No one is making wagons these days locally.

Wood stoves break, just like everything else. You could keep one or 2 extras, but eventually you have none and can't get more, because there is no transportation on the highways.

Asphalt roof shingles need to be replaced, and houses need to be painted and maintained.

Food must be grown in with a short growing season, and all of the farm stuff that used to be in a 1890 Sears catalog is no longer available. Last summer I took a tour of a farm and saw how dependent farming is on oil -- transportation and manufacture of plastic feeding bowls, containers to store grains/feeds, straw, roofs for animals and storage areas, wire, rope, wood boards, cement, fencing, antibiotics for animals, asphalt shingles etc. Seed and hardware used to be available at the local hardware store, no more.

Then there is clothing which is manufactured and transported from afar. Making cloth is a major operation from growing cotton to making cloth. I have studied the textile mills of Lowell National Historical Park in Lowell, MA for years, as I used it as an example of the confluence of capital, technology, and labor for a course I taught on Global Urban Politics at the University of New Hampshire. I know that the parts in those factories were manufactured in many places with a vast transportation network. Those factories will not be built again after the last power blackout. And there are not many sheep around, nor animals to make wool or leather cloth out of. Eventually down coats and comforters wear out, as do blankets. It sounds like just keeping warm will be a major problem.

Potable water is another problem, and sanitation.

And there will be no modern pharmacies.

Two weeks after talking with the RPI professor, I got an email. He said he and his wife talked and decided their best option was to buy land here where I live, and they plan to visit. I said come on down. I also cautioned him that he needed to make sure that he and his family can connect to the land that they buy.

After auto and air transport end (which could be next week if there is some "untoward activity" in the Middle East), there will be no way of getting here, or from here to there. Bus and train reservations will be backed up for years. You know the old Maine joke, "can you there from here?" Well this time the answer will be no you can't. I keep reading in the newspapers that some of the folks over there in the Middle East are tired of others getting most of that oil, and that they are trying to shut down the flow of oil to us (:

Wasn't it that guy Murphy who said that if something can go wrong it will. Yikes alive.

Bob, come on down and visit, and bring some maple syrup with you. My jug from a friend's farm in NH,is running out.

Warm regards from the gloomiest of doomers, :)


clifford dot wirth at yahoo dot com or give me a phone call which operates here as my old NH number, with Vonage service.
603-668-4207 I'm often here, but if not leave a message and I'll call you back as the calls to the U.S. are no additional cost with this service, or if anyone is interested send me an email and I'll call you in the U.S. Canada, or Europe.

You are right, this is not sustainable: "50 coffee shops, good inexpensive restaurants and hotels, high speed computer connection, COSTCO and Walmart "

The COSTCO and Walmart are 10 kms away. The folks doing the other stuff are going to have to change, and I'm trying to get them moving to change -- tourism will obvious hit the skids soon.

Nice job. You are truly an asset in our efforts to educate the public. I've read your paper at peakoilassociates and have shared it with many people. Keep up the good work.

Hey Pico,

Thanks, many peak oilers "don't get no respect," as Rodney Dangerfield once said.

CJW: I have missed the part about the Army Corp saying we are past peak as you stated in your interview. Anybody have a link on this?

Man, that's enough to make you cynical, isn't it?

Imagine, if we actually LISTENED to the Corp of Engrs we wouldn't have had Katrina or Peak Oil.

It's criminal that so many people knew absolutely that peak oil is upon us, yet the gov't and media talk only in platitudes and vague eventualities.

By any measure, we could be more than 3 years down the road toward other energy sources....that's long enough to have plans made, funding arranged, and work underway.

We're burning daylight. Best get at it.

Actually, the US Army hid flaws known only to them from the public and other government authorities. Too much "value engineering", too much butt covering, before and after.


I am VERY surprised by the negative ratings. This is the most "pro-Peak Oil" US Gov't document I have read.

Saudi Arabia maintains that it has excess capacity and can increase production to meet demand. Unfortunately, Saudi Arabia has not been able to increase supply above its monthly production peak of April 2003 (EIA 2005). Iraq may also have significant excess capacity if it could be brought into production (EIA 2002). Meanwhile, domestic oil production in both the lower 48 states and Alaska continues to decline. Many non-OPEC oil producers have also passed or are currently reaching their peaks of production.

Petroleum experts Colin Campbell, Jean Laherrere, Brian Fleay, Roger Blanchard, Richard Duncan, Walter Youngquist, and Albert Bartlett (using various methodologies) have all estimated that a peak in conventional oil production will occur around 2005. The corporate executive officers (CEOs) of Agip, ENI SpA (Italian oil companies), and Arco have also published estimates of a peak in 2005. These reliable estimates all project that conventional oil peak production will occur within the next few years (Campbell and Laherrere 1998; Youngquist 1997; Campbell 2004). Reduced demands caused by high prices may delay the peak slightly, but the peak is certainly within sight. Note that the peaking of conventional oil should not be confused
with total oil production. Total oil production includes such commodities as natural gas liquids, deep water oil, and polar oil. Inclusion of these will delay the peak to 2008 (Aleklett 2004). Estimates of peak production are not without controversy. The estimates cited above are by those considered “oil pessimists.”

Best Hopes for reading before judging,


Hey Alan,

The reason that the comment with link got such bad ratings is that when I posted my comment last night I said nasty things about looking up the link yourself, and I got bad reviews on my nastiness :(

Then this morning I edited the comment so that fewer people would see that I was a jerk :)

That explains the the negative rating.

Same thing happens to me.

I've gotta keep to the message and try not to be too snarky. I am trying, CJ.

I had been expecting a sharp pull back in oil prices this last week, but I wasn't expecting it to be this sharp. What alerted me to the probable pull back in prices was the fact that all other commodities were rising along with crude oil and this is indicative of massive hedge fund mobilization. As quick as they can make the price rise, they can make it fall even quicker when they all move out. Such a sharp downturn in prices may have sealed the "bubble" mentality into investors for some time. We could see oil getting short sold and sold down to the 110's next week. I never thought it possible to return to that price level but it wouldn't surprise me at this point. Watch out when fundamentals start pushing the price north of 130 and not hedge funds. When this happens the hedge funds will no doubt move in hard and fast pushing the price well north of $150 before October me thinks.


No one can know because the amount of money dwarfs the amount of oil. We can't predict which financial institutions might have massive long or short oil positions in the future, only follow the trend and the underlying fundamentals. ANY price is possible in a short term scenario. $80. Even $50. Or $300. Pricing at the marginal barrel with funny money will lead to some monster swings in the years ahead.

I posted a comment yesterday about the current oil price decline. It might be due to a lessening of tensions in the ME. The US is sending a high level statesperson (Burns, I think) for discussions with Iran. Long ago we were hearing talk of a 'war premium' included in the crude price. Perhaps the decline in crude prices is nothing more than a hair cut to the war premium. Something to consider.

We should pay attention to see what, if anything, comes of the talks. If talks fail and crude prices shoot up again it could be considered an indicatior of a war premium on crude.

In reply to how are the talks going....

Iran Snubs Western Efforts to Suspend Its Nuclear Enrichment

Iran snubbed Western efforts to get it to suspend nuclear enrichment at international talks in Geneva today, setting the stage for new sanctions if the Islamic Republic doesn't respond to an existing proposal in two weeks.

``We did not get what we were looking for,'' European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said at a press conference following four hours of talks with Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili.

Iran needs to give a ``clear'' answer within two weeks to the so-called freeze-for-freeze plan or risk ``further isolation,'' U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said in an e-mailed statement in Washington after the discussions.

An empirical test of the theory - I like that!

I guess we'll find out Monday.....


I know you are well-versed in financial matters and if I'm reading you right it seems that you are of the position that simply speculation/money can drive the prices in a major way.

This seems to contradict what others here have said. Others here have said that at contract expiration someone must take delivery of the oil and therefore the future contract price must collapse to the spot price. Of course, if you could hoard physical product and keep it off the market you could manipulate the spot price but the volume and storage trouble of doing so with oil seems like that would be difficult.

Of course, with stocks speculators influence the price since there is no delivery of a physical product but simply a piece of paper upon which people speculate its worth. Right now people think they are worth around 14 times actual cash earnings, but they differ by industry and the like.

Real estate had a physical product, but the housing bubble seems to have occurred through changes in lending standards. Houses used to only be lent out with 20% down and 36% debt-to-income ratio--restricting the price of houses to be in-line with wages. This went to 0% down and even higher debt-to-income. This allowed more money to be borrowed, and more potential borrowers into the market, inflating the price of real estate above the normal for wages which kept real estate prices generally even for many decades.

But I feel commodities are different. Especially consumables like oil. If a billion people want gasoline and other oil products tommorrow, won't they all have to bid against each other each day for a supply that is stagnant? I understand that the price can become disloged from the fundamentals in the short term based on trader perceptions, but once stocks are low are not those same traders forced to buy to prevent disruptions in supply?

Now I guess either the contraction or inflation in the total money supply could affect the notional price, but you would have to see the same in almost all goods and assets across the board. Right now, we are seeing house prices drop, stocks drop, and lending tightening so money supply has been going down while price of oil is going up. This looks like supply and demand.

Of course the Fed's liquidity from their alphabet soup facilities of about $400 billion loaned to banks increased the money supply somewhat, by about 3.2 trillion assuming $8 loaned for $1 of reserves, but most went to commercial banks, not the investment banks, just to keep up their reserves so they could make loans and therefore wasn't invested in oil futures. The amount of deflation in the housing market seems to at least wiped out that increase in money supply so oil price should have been going down along with everything else. Even currency debasement isn't enough because oil price in Euros is going up too. The other price inflation is simply a derivative of oil prices--but the notional price of all assets across the board are deflating.

Anyways, I just wanted to pick your brain on this to get your view to help me understand. This is important to me because even though I've been preparing and learning new skills like gardening, paying down debt, etc., many of those in my community think I'm nuts. To avoid the title of bearer of the tin foil hat, please explain how this could happen without a change in supply/demand.

Yesterday there was a post on Drumbeat about increased energy use in India due to the failure of the monsoon. As more energy is being used to pump water for irrigation, power cuts are becoming more frequent. In addition this will accelerate groundwater depletion.

I checked in with a former exchange student of ours who lives in Gujarat and received the following email this morning.

"There are no power problems here in Gujarat actually the power is
almost never out here! But the problem of rains is there. We are
sitting in the middle of monsoon with no rains. Actually it gets so
hot here that sometimes it feels as if summer is going on here! I
think there is a lot of climate change. The winters have been more
cold and summer more hot and no rains."

Given the already dire status of food stocks, this does not bode well for the coming months.


the U.S oil industry is so primitive, it makes me sick

I am at a loss to understand why you think this is primitive. These are "milker wells", wells draining the last few barrels from a very old and already depleted fields. Why do you consider these efforts primitive?

In Los Angeles, there are three challenges: The fields are old, there's too much urban sprawl to drill easily, and there's a lack of rigs and crews. Also, the oil here is much heavier than the stuff they pull out of west Texas, meaning it's less profitable.

Now if this were ARAMCO they would put in a few MRC wells and use massive water injection. They would get a whole lot more tan 10 barrels per day per well, but from many fewer wells and for a much shorter time. And there would be a lot of oil left as fractures cause water bypass. However installing hundreds, even thousands of wells, in a field and slowly pulling the remaining oil out will eventually get a much higher percentage of the oil out. It works, it works really great and there is no better way of getting the very last dredges from very old depleted fields.

Ron Patterson

your saying that this method can recover more oil than water injection? hmmm i don´t think so..i doubt about it...the well distance isn´t even organized...

Yes, you can definitely remove more oil without water injection, it just takes a lot longer. Water injection always leaves a lot of oil behind due to bypass. There is always water, pushing up from below as the oil above is removed so even with this method you get a lot of water with the oil. Without water injection there is also subsidence. But slow manual pumping will drain the field much more efficiently than super fast water injection. Water injection tries to "sweep" the oil toward the wells. The harder you push, with water injection, the faster the oil comes out. That is why this method is called a "superstraw". But the sweep often leaves pockets of oil behind.

The distance is not organized because it is an urban sprawl! It is kinda hard to put a well in the middle of a WalMart parking lot or in the middle of a freeway. And the yield per well is not great enough to justify long distance horizontal wells with down-hole electric pumps. And even if it were, this would create a mineral rights nightmare as many would claim that the horizontal wells were "stealing" the oil from under their land. So they just put the vertical wells with donkey head pumps where they have land available. But that is usually close enough to get most of the oil out...eventually.

Ron Patterson

Actually, Ron, there are ways to influence the oil brought in with all kinds of floods - water, N2, and even corrosion-inducing CO2. The most common is to use polymers. Used both on the producers and injection wells, the polymer changes the water flows. The water patterns change over time, and we have gone backwards some as well, breaking the polymer down with bleach, and started over again with decent results.

File: Unintentionally funny headline:

Growing Risk of Shooting War Over Energy

Apparently no shots have been fired in Iraq.

Bad-mouth a bank and lose $10k?


In case you're wondering whether growing pressure on the nation's financial institutions could cause your neighborhood bank to crack, you might want to keep it to yourself.

That's the message of little-known statutes on Georgia's and many other states' law books that threaten fines and imprisonment for falsely stating that an individual bank is in financial trouble or is about to fail. Georgia's law prohibits false statements about a bank's assets or liabilities or fibbing about its "solvency or ability to meet its obligations or as to its soundness." Likewise, the law bars verbal or written statements that incorrectly "cast suspicion upon its ... ability to meet its deposits."

Infractions are a misdemeanor in many states, but Georgia's statute sets a higher penalty: up to a $10,000 fine or one to five years in prison. It provides an option to prosecute an infraction as a misdemeanor.

I wonder it this will ever be used?

From Paul Krugman's blog:

Oil Outlook

Right now the price is at P1. But over time, as high prices take a larger toll on demand, the price should — other things equal — fall to P2.

Now, other things won’t be equal. China is still growing; the supply of oil could either rise as some new fields come online, or decline (how peakish are you feeling?). But from the demand side, at least, there might be some relief coming.

Edited to remove the "100%" tag. It blows it up to insane sizes on most displays.

I think it's narrow enough to fit any reasonably sized screen.

"How China's taking over Africa, and why the West should be VERY worried"

Wow, you've got to admire their sense of scale. While the US is obsessed with a miserable little flyspeck like Iraq, these guys are taking over a whole continent.

That hasn't been done since Britain colonized Australia, or Britain/France/Spain divided up North America or Spain/Portugal divided up South America.

Not to worry - Chinese is already the third most widely spoken language in Canada.

Got to go now because "Wǒ de qìdiànchuán zhuāngmǎn le shànyú" *

China - linked from today's DB

* "My hovercraft is full of eels"

Um, how did they achieve this success? Massive fertilizer subsidies. Somehow the massive use of fertilizer and a couple years of good rainfall doesn’t inspire much hope in achieving a self sustaining solution.

Let's see; Even without advanced seeds, irrigation, pesticides, herbicides, modern transportation, or equipment they were able to produce an extra $300.00/acre worth of corn with $150.00/acre worth of fertilizer. And, no one is starving, now. And, they're exporting corn.

That's the bottom line. It doesn't matter who "paid" for the fertilizer. Perhaps, after a few harvests the farmers will be able to pay more of the price themselves.

You're right it doesn't matter who paid for the fertilizer, but it does have to be paid for and increasing the demand for it increases the cost of it. Nuking marginal land with massive fertilizer inputs will certainly cause the price to rise. Look at fertilizer prices lately? Moreover, as Bob Shaw always points out, the stuff, such as phosphorus, isn’t in abundant supply. In addition, there is a greater strain on natural gas supplies. I’m beginning to think ethanol support is a form of insanity.

Phosphorus is in the same "abundance" it always was. It's just in different forms, and distributions. It's like oil in that the cheap (read: easy) phosphorus is going away. It's going away with, or without, biofuels (corn for ethanol was something like 2% of global grains last year.)

If phosphorus is fed to humans, or livestock, it is passed in fecal matter. If corn (sorghum, whatever) is processed for ethanol the phosphorus is retained in the distillers grains. These can be fed to animals, or put back into the soil.

It's all good, Bruce; no good Chicago boy should be so "Doomerish."

Phosphorus is in the same "abundance" it always was. It's just in different forms, and distributions

Very empty statement. That like every piece of iron and steel that rusted away is still there. But is it recoverable, and at what cost?

If phosphorus is fed to humans, or livestock, it is passed in fecal matter

So? Are you proposing to reengineer every sewage system at a very high cost in the US to collect phosphorus? If not, then why bring it up?

What would you know about Chicago? I spent over fifty years there. Living in a working class neighborhood on the south side full of miscreants in the shadow of the stockyards taught me to know bullshit when I see it. It also taught me to be ready for the unexpected. The streets were a good education.

That like every piece of iron and steel that rusted away is still there. But is it recoverable, and at what cost?

Not really a good analogy. Iron is Iron, Steel is Steel, and Phosphorus is quite different.

So? Are you proposing to reengineer every sewage system at a very high cost in the US to collect phosphorus?

Yes, we've already started doing this. Right now, they're concentrating on the Methane; but, we'll get around to the "fertilizer" next.

Phosphorous is different indeed. Once it gets excreted from humans, it goes down the river into the sea, where it feeds algae and then fish. Some of the fish are caught by birds, and some of their excrement accumulates on some islands. The accumulation process is much slower than the rate at which we're letting the phosphorous go down to the sea.

here in Massachusetts there is already a business selling fertilizer from fish processing waste. So there is some hope for organic P.

This is great for Malawi. It is a great triumph of common sense over free-market religion.

But Liebig*s law of the minimum still applies. The fertiliser would have been useless if one other necessary input had been in short supply.

For most of the grain-producing world, the input in short supply is water. Globally, this shortage is predicted to get more widespread and more intense.

* Apologies to grammarians; the apostrophe key on my keyboard is playing dead.

The NYT article demonstrated that if you pump up severely depleted land with enough subsidized fertilizer, including subsidies from foreign counties you can increase the amount of corn grown on a given plot of land. It is also clear that farming in Malawi is not economically sustainable even with fertilizer unless the cost of that fertilizer is subsidized. It is not the land that it is productive; this land only serves as a medium. Even with increased productivity, these farmers can't sustain themselves.

And what happens when their population expands to take up the increased product? There will be decreasing marginal returns from expensive fertilizer until we have a new crisis.

I TOLD YOU not to read it.

From Kdolliso's link above.

Malawi's super harvest proves biofuel critics wrong - or, how to beat hunger and produce more oil than OPEC

Wow! OPEC is going to be put out of business, their oil will be replaced with corn oil from Malawi. Why we ever worried?

Truly people, this article just shows how gullible some people are to really believe such crap. I don't doubt that progress has been made in Malawi, but it was accomplished with massive injections of subsidized fertilizer, fertilizer produced with fossil fuel. And they were very lucky to have lots of rain that year. This is just one year of feast, amid many alternating years between feast and famine.

When the subsidized fertilizer is gone, and rainfall returns to normal, Malawi will be back to to its cycles between feast and famine. And,....as fossil fuel produced fertilizer becomes extremely expensive, it will be mostly famine.

But producing more oil than OPEC, boy that one takes the cake.

Ron Patterson

Just out of curiosity I looked up some more information on Malawi. Ye gods! Look at the population growth! No wonder they’re in a pickle.


Pop. Density: 282/sq mi. Less than half that of Germany, in a tropical climate with tons of water. Not too bad.

Bruce, their problem is they're poor, and uneducated. Eventually, maybe they'll learn how to make their own fertilizer. (as will we all.)

By the way, Here is the article I thought I was linking to; and, Here is an

Article about "Micro-Dosing.

Have you ever read the book “How to Lie With Statistics”? I’m sure it’s required reading for the ethanol lobby. You’re comparing populations densities of a very urban industrialized country versus a rural one. By the way, Malawi is one of the most densely populated areas in Africa in regards to ARABLE land. The issue is whether for that country their population growth has created stress. Most social scientists agree that it has. You claim Malawi has no problem with water. Funny, it seems they often have drought problems. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E03E6DB1F30F930A35757C0A... Make fertilizer? How? When you use all the available land for food production, where do you get the compost? I have about six plus acres of pasture I use for the organic matter for my one acre plot, so I have an idea what I’m talking about. Also, organic farming doesn’t scale up so well, especially when you are talking about poor or depleted soil. By the way, being in a tropical climate is a bad thing - too many diseases to control.

The biggest problem with people like you Kdolliso is that you have no concern for the truth but only seek to mislead. The old baffle them with bullshit routine. The old Oildrum was a lot better than this. People may have disagreed, but seldom did they outright mislead. As with John15 I will never again respond to one of your posts. As it is I will be signing off from the internet entirely soon in any case. Its’ outlived its’ purpose.

Ah, my friend! You need todban! A greasemonkey script that simply makes people that are abject trolling wackjobs go away! Works for me...

Please tell me how! I don’t use Firefox anymore because I am now on dialup, but now I’m willing to dedicate my phone line for an hour or two to get it.

Search the site with the googly thing over to the right for "todban". There was a post recently with an updated version that works with the latest OilDrum software. I don't think I could stand it here without it!

I said, "They have TONS OF WATER." See: Lake Malawi (3rd largest lake in Africa.) Perhaps, they need to do some irrigating. Build some pipelines. Use "drip" irrigation.

Assuming they're getting about 75 bu/acre. They could refine every other acre into ethanol, and this would yield about 20 gallons of ethanol for every two acres. This would leave 1300 lbs of pretty good soil amendment (650 lbs/acre.) They could, also, remove about 15 gallons of corn oil for cooking, sale, etc. Tomorrow we'll figure out how to get them some nitrogen, and we'll be in bizness. Okay?

Oh, they're going out of business, alright. When the oil runs out they're out of business. That's the whole point of this website, right?

You don't need fossil fuel to make fertilizer. That's just the route they're (we're) going now.

It's been 3 years, now.

Malawi's had a lot of famine. I don't recall reading about any "feast" cycles, there.

I know you're yearning for the "dieoff," Ron; but, you'll have to wait for the Glaciation. (don't lose Cliff's phone number; you'll need it when the big Iceberg comes rolling down.)

Malawi's super harvest proves biofuel critics wrong - or, how to beat hunger and produce more oil than OPEC

Wow! OPEC is going to be put out of business, their oil will be replaced with corn oil from Malawi. Why we ever worried?

It's the recent but little known Malawian technology that allows them to extract 1200 barrels of oil from each metric ton of corn. That way they can feed their hungry populace and put OPEC out of business at the same time.


I am strapping on my rose-colored glasses for the continuing build up to a strike on Iran. It looks like some of the adults have stepped in to tell Cheney and the rest of the children that they can't use their toys on Iran.

Mullen and an Ex-Mossad chief are saying what everyone knows---that bombing Iran is absolute insanity. Maybe the fix isn't in. Keep hope alive.



Hello TODers,

Recall TopTODer JeffVails earlier keypost plus my previous postings on Morocco as you consider this breaking news:

U.S. Approves JDAM For Morocco
Middle East Newsline
July 18, 2008

WASHINGTON [MENL] -- The Bush administration has approved the sale of advanced air weapons to Morocco. The Bush administration has relayed to Congress a Moroccan request for $155 million worth of air weapons from the United States. The Defense Department said the weapons included air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, general purpose bombs as well as the advanced Joint Direct Attack Munition.

"The proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by enhancing Morocco's capacity to support U.S. efforts in the global war on terrorism, as well as supporting Morocco's legitimate need for its own self-defense," the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency said.

In a July 11 statement, the Pentagon agency said Morocco has requested 30 AIM-120C-5 Advanced Medium Range Air-to Air Missiles, 60 AIM-9M Sidewinder missiles, 20 AGM-88B/C HARM missiles, eight AGM-65D/G Maverick missiles as well as 45 AGM-65H Maverick missiles.
As I have warned before: please do not underestimate the postPeak potential for sealane control, Modern Barbary P-irates, and ruthless NPK Wars. Recall the War of the Pacific, Guano Wars, dead-heading bones, First US Patent, etc, etc.

We are evolved to sit in the dark, but nobody survives starvation. Job specialization is only possible with food surpluses. Borlaug [paraphrased]: "Without I-NPK, its over."

EDIT: Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

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

Between one refresh and the next I had the little buttons that collapse or expand threads disappear. Has anybody else seen this? Is it new behavior of TOD?

It sounds like script blocking either from your browser settings, a security program, or a script blocking add-on.

That $20 drop really cleared this place out.

At least the boss has got her doom on again, made the DB for me today.

Welcome back.

Al Gore's recent speech was pretty good and I am going to support his campaign. The odds may not be great considering all the vested interests who are threatened by change, but without change the future is bleak.

As for the analysis about wind, we could fully fund a project 4x this size by simply getting out of Iraq. It would help the economy recover from a situation that does have much hope right now. There would be a new industry to provide a lot of jobs and maybe make it through what is coming.

Realistically, I tend to think the things that need to happen won't happen. However, maybe enough people are on the verge of waking up, if we can get the politicians and news organizations to take a different course. That is the real challenge.