DrumBeat: July 22, 2008

Peak Oil and Hunger

Diesel farming feeds the world. But what happens if the fuel becomes too expensive for the farmers?

Listen in to WYPR 88.1 FM public radio in Baltimore tomorrow morning (Wednesday, July 23) at 9:35 a.m. to hear my most recent "Environment in Focus" program. If you're not next to your radio, or you miss the segment, you can listen to a podcast on the WYPR web site.

Tomorrow's piece is about "peak oil" and world hunger. Back in the 1950's, Shell Oil's top petroleum geologist, M. King Hubbert, discovered that all oil production follows a bell curve, with a rising amount of new discovery of oil fields, a peak and then an inevitable decline. He correctly predicted years in advance that America's lower 48 states, then the world's largest producer of oil, would pass its peak production in 1970. And since then, 33 of the world's 48 largest producers of oil have also passed their peak, including perhaps Saudi Arabia. That means production will start slowly declining (some say the world passed its peak in 2005, others say 2015). Meanwhile, the world's population continues to grow -- and developing nations like China and India are buying more cars and trying to live American lifestyles.

Long-distance commuters’ road to nowhere

For Dollie Kinkead, the economic turmoil gripping the country translates into an 80-mile drive each work day from a house she can't sell to a job she thinks she's lucky to have.

For Danny Jesse, it means living with his parents and enduring a commute that is at times so costly and brutal that he would rather spend the night in his car.

For Brian and Ronda Mitchell, the combination of high gas prices and a housing market downturn has forced them to make the difficult choice to allow the home they have owned for seven years to go into foreclosure.

“Gas was, for us, the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Brian Mitchell said.

The weak housing market, high gas prices and iffy job market are proving a nasty mix, leaving many Americans stuck with long commutes, unwanted homes and few options.

Huge oil trading loss sinks energy trader SemGroup

NEW YORK — A $3.2-billion (U.S.) trading loss on oil futures and derivatives sank high flying energy trader SemGroup LP, which at one time billed itself as the 14th-largest private company in the United States.

The Tulsa-based SemGroup shorted NYMEX crude oil futures to hedge against a decline in the value of the oil it purchased as part of its 500,000-barrel-per-day trading business, according to court documents, before surging crude prices forced it to recognize billions of dollars in losses on futures positions.

GM, utilities join to study electric car’s impact

SAN JOSE, Calif. - General Motors Corp. has joined with more than 30 utility companies across the U.S. to help work out electricity issues that will crop up when it rolls out new electric vehicles in a little more than two years.

New Mexico: Residents asked to limit energy use

Xcel Energy officials are asking customers to limit power use Tuesday as expected electricity demands could outweigh production.

Xcel Energy spokesman Wes Reeves said the company shut down two generators Monday in coal-fire power plants in Muleshoe and Amarillo after discovering tubes in the boilers were leaking.

Iraq's parliament passes poll law, Kurds walk out

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's parliament passed a provincial elections bill on Tuesday, but a walkout by Kurdish lawmakers over how to deal with the disputed oil city of Kirkuk could mean the law will not be ratified by the presidency.

China's June crude imports from Iran at 18-mth low

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's crude oil imports from Iran in June halved from a year ago to its lowest monthly level in 18 months, contributing to the overhang of crude stored offshore in Iran, official customs data showed on Tuesday.

... The lower Iranian supplies came after some refineries cut back on costlier Iran Light crude to trim deep refining losses aggravated by state-capped domestic fuel prices, the trader said.

"Refineries are getting really picky as pressure is so huge to cut losses," said the trader familiar with Iranian supplies.

Preparing Australian aviation for a new world

For almost 90 years QANTAS has developed a cultural strength that enables us to cope well with crises. We have shown great resilience through numerous major shocks over the past decade alone.

But right now the global aviation industry faces, not a shock or a blip - not even a crisis - but a permanent transformation. The drivers of this transformation will be globalisation, accelerated by permanently high fuel prices. And the result will be a new aviation world order.

... Oil, of course, is a finite natural resource and whether or not the world has reached "peak oil" is a matter of debate. But there is no question that the cost of finding and extracting oil will continue to climb.

The race to own the top of the world

Melting icecap has circumpolar countries - including Canada - scrambling to bolster their claims to Arctic territory and the oil and gas riches beneath its seabed.

Africa's Last and Least: Cultural Expectations Ensure Women Are Hit Hardest by Burgeoning Food Crisis

On her way to the market, Lingani explained the ugly math: A year ago, she could feed her entire family a nutritious meal of meat and vegetables and peanut sauce for about 75 cents. But now the family gets much lower-quality food for twice the price.

She said the cost of six pounds of cornmeal has risen from 75 cents to $1.50. A kilogram -- 2.2 pounds -- of rice cost 60 cents last year and costs a little more than $1 now. Other basics such as salt and cooking oil have also doubled in price.

Fuel costs have more than doubled for trucks that haul food to landlocked Burkina Faso, helping keep food prices high.

Soaring gas prices drive U.S. scooter sales

NEW YORK–Record gasoline prices are fueling a boom in sales of fuel-efficient scooters across the United States, as commuters ditch their gas-guzzlers and don helmets and goggles to beat high prices at the pump.

U.S. scooter sales have risen 65.7 per cent in the first half of 2008, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council, making the industry one of the biggest beneficiaries of a more than 30 percent spike in oil prices this year.

Russia 'exceeds targets' for gas supplies via Ukraine to Europe

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine's state oil and gas company Naftogaz told energy giant Gazprom on Tuesday that Russia is supplying more natural gas to Europe via Ukraine than it is obliged to under existing contracts.

Russia to raise oil export duty to record $495.9/ton from August

MOSCOW, July 22 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's government has approved a rise in Russian oil export duty of $97.8 to a record $495.9 per metric ton as of August 1, the government press service said on Tuesday.

Export duties on light oil products will rise to $346.4 per ton from August 1, 2008, from the current $280.5, and duty on heavy petroleum products will grow to $186.6 per ton from $151.1.

Oil plummets $5 a barrel

Economy: Analysts said remarks by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and a huge loss posted by banking company Wachovia Corp. contributed to the perception that demand for oil will drop in a weakened economy.

"Reduced economic activity translates into reduced energy demand," said John Kilduff, energy analyst with MF Global.

Paulson, speaking in New York, called for Congress to pass a bill to shore up mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, saying they were the key to repairing the battered financial markets.

BP 'Reluctantly' Removes Technical Experts from Russia

BP has withdrawn 60 remaining technical specialists, formerly assigned to TNK-BP, from Russia. All 148 technical experts, who have been instrumental in making TNK-BP one of Russia's best performing companies, have now been withdrawn to be redeployed in BP's businesses globally.

Fiji: Fuel shortage stops water supply in Rotuma

ROTUMA is again plagued with shortage of water because there is no fuel to operate pumps.

Speaking from the island yesterday, Samuela Kafoa said the last ship to visit to the island arrived there two weeks ago but since last week there had been no piped water on the island.

He said the island had run out of fuel.

"Yesterday the schools on the island had to be closed after lunch because there is no water," he said.

Egypt: Drivers infuriated by shortage of affordable fuel

CAIRO: Taxis queued in front of gas stations across Cairo as the congested city suffered a shortage of 80-octane and diesel fuel, a crisis that reached its peak last week.

PetroChina to control fuel exports

PetroChina will extend its "strict control'' on fuel exports into the second half of the year as China, the world's fifth-biggest oil producer, seeks to ease a domestic petrol and diesel shortage.

Fuel supplies will remain "tight'' for the rest of 2008, President Zhou Jiping said.

Cost of shipping doubles in the past 12 months

The cost of shipping a container from Dubai to key destinations around the world has almost doubled in the past 12 months – sparking fears that rates could reach alarming levels.

What's driving the asphalt shortage

Yes, refineries are making more profitable products, but asphalt is in short supply not because the refiners are greedy, but because Congress during the Clinton administration passed legislation mandating Ultra Low Sulfur Fuels (ULSF) for gasoline and diesel.

Fewer days, longer hours

The shorter week, which some New England employers are exchanging for longer workdays, is being touted as the latest way to go green and lower energy costs. But while the trend seems to be catching on with government agencies, adoption by the corporate world is lagging.

Travel industry call for national energy policy

The Business Travel Coalition, along with former American Airlines Chairm and and CEO Bob Crandall are asking travel industry members to sign a letter to President George W. Bush calling for a special session of Congress "for the sole purpose of debating our energy alternatives and enacting a coherent national energy policy."

Fuel shortage will drastically reshape transportation

For cities, it's time to massively invest in public transit. More riders will need more buses to run more often, with more drivers, more shelters and benches, more convenient routes. The province as well as the federal government must get involved with the cities. In Regina, we welcome the transit review starting now, when citizens will be urged to give our views, and will be listened to.

Maintaining realistic expectations for more drilling

We didn't know from global warming in those days, and I guess we assumed the oil would flow forever. But about the time I quit doing oilfield work in the early '70s, the oilfields themselves began to stop working, as well, part of a long national decline in petroleum production.

In fact, the pinnacle of crude oil production in the United States occurred in 1970 at about 9.6 million barrels per day. Then a long, steady decline began and today petroleum production is around five million barrels per day. (By way of comparison, we consume about 21 million barrels per day.)

Even the most extensive exploration and drilling program is unlikely to raise petroleum production back to the 1970 level, at least for any length of time, and energy independence, based on more drilling, is a pipe dream. Ignoring global warming and traffic congestion, it would be nice to imagine that vast reservoirs of petroleum await our discovery, in spite of considerable indication to the contrary. We've been tapping the big reservoirs around the world extensively for decades, and common sense suggests that the oil cornucopia of the past can't last forever.

Why we need to keep gas above $4

On the surface, the market's behavior on certain days of June and July has been so illogical that my brain simply has refused to accept it. Double-digit intraday swings in prices of stocks without any material catalyst have become routine.

But last week's trading has finally explained what should have been clear for a while: Though current economic troubles may have started with lax credit and underwriting standards and the ensuing subprime-mortgage fiasco, they will likely continue or end based on the behavior of another, seemingly unrelated macroeconomic input: oil prices.

Crude Oil Prices, Monetary Stability and Credit Expansion

What so many commentators fail to grasp is that free markets, not taxes, conserve resources. This is really basic stuff. When the supply of any resource falls its price rises. Eventually the price reaches a point where the cost of producing an additional unit exceeds the demand. This is why we never run out of resources in a free market. If, however, the resource is treated like a free good, as in the case of fish, then complete exhaustion is possible. This is obviously not the case with oil.

The Strategic Vulnerabilities of Oil Dependence

Indeed, in a 2007 interview with The Futurist, former CIA director James Woolsey said that if the terrorists had gotten within mortar range of the facility, “they could have taken out the sulfur clearing towers. Robert McFarlane, President Reagan’s National Security advisor, tells us that would take six or seven million barrels of oil a day off line for probably over a year.”

Rick Bass’s “Why I Came West”

“And when the bleeding is all done and the oil is all gone—not just the peak oil, but all the oil, down to the last drop—and we lie buried beneath our history, still waiting for some greater salvation or redemption to ignite us…even then, another temptation will reside beneath us and around us: if not the fluid supple allure of oil, then the densely compacted chitin of coal, the old dirty brown Paleozoic swamps, each lithified like a charred heart into brittlecake seams of strata—ten thousand years’ worth of such brittlecake. And I fear that it will be the easiest thing in the world then to simply remain buried in this land of the fossil fuels, and to continue gnawing at the coal, worsening our problem tenfold with every sulfurous exhalation, and with the now acidic celestial dome or dark curtain above raining sulphuric hail, mercuric tempest, brimstone.”

Peak Oil or Peak Stupidity?

THE MESS; Over 50 years ago a geologist named M. King Hubbert accurately predicted that US oil production would peak in the 1970s. The arrival of peak oil inspired our political leadership to unleash all their resources of stupidity. They curbed the development of nuclear power, closed most of the American coast-line to exploration and extraction of oil and gas, placed a moratorium on the exploitation of our huge shale oil resources out west, put an end to refinery building for thirty years, and forbade the oil companies from disturbing Alaska’s sacred caribou. The development of hydroelectric power and wind power have been unsystematically impeded by tangles of environmental regulations and law suits.

Answer to energy crisis? Stop using oil

The main cause of rising oil prices is a simple supply and demand market issue. World supply is peaking while demand continues to rise, mostly in China. So, the easy solution would be to raise supply, right? The problem, though, is we can’t.

Eco-friendly homes not hard to find

These homes were constructed in 1988 following the second energy crisis and were built using 2-by-6 construction instead of the traditional 2-by-4's. The heating system consists of only a hot water heater, a small air handler/heat exchanger, and an air distribution system in the flooring between the lower and upper levels. Windows have six inches of insulating airspace instead of the traditional four, with window-insulating thermal shades installed between the storm window and inside window. By diligently using the windows and thermal shades appropriately on days of temperature extremes, one can be comfortable almost all winter and summer. Because the homes are tightly built, there is no need during the winter for a humidifier as indoor humidity is relatively high.

Utility experts warn against burnout at 50

Canada's ageing electricity infrastructure will need billions of dollars in investments to ensure its generation stations, transmission and distribution lines do not collapse under an exploding demand, industry experts said yesterday.

While the engineering experts refused to draw direct links between the needs and a pair of recent incidents that struck two of the country's largest cities, they warned that time was running out for many steel towers, electric poles, wires, transformers and facilities.

"You're now looking at [50-year-old] infrastructure that is in need of replacement," said Jatin Nathwani, the executive director of Waterloo University's Institute for Sustainable Energy. "These things may last 20 years, [or] they may only last two. You don't know, so there's a large unknown and uncertain gap growing in terms of understanding the integrity of that infrastructure."

Japan's Hokuriku reports record summer power demand

TOKYO (Reuters) - Hokuriku Electric Power Co said on Tuesday demand for the company's electricity hit a record high earlier in the day as a heatwave scorched central Japan and boosted use of air-conditioning.

Hokuriku is the first Japanese utility to report record demand this summer, and others may follow suit this month and next as a heatwave sweeps through the country, in line with hotter-than-average forecasts by the nation's official weather forecaster.

Tokyo Electric Says Smoke Detected at Niigata Nuclear Plant

(Bloomberg) -- Tokyo Electric Power Co., Asia's largest utility, said smoke was detected at a generator powering a radiation-monitoring system at its Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear complex.

Local fire fighters confirmed the smoke stopped at 11:26 a.m. local time after the utility shut down the generator, Tokyo Electric said in a statement on its Web site. No injuries or radiation leaks occurred during the incident, the company said.

China refinery losses widen to $850M

BEIJING - Refining losses for China's top two oil companies widened 47.9 percent to $850 million in the first half due to government controls that limit their ability to pass on high crude costs to consumers, an industry association said Tuesday.

"They are facing big difficulties," said Feng Shiliang, deputy secretary-general of the China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Association, quoted by the China Daily newspaper.

Pemex May Drill Outside Mexico for First Time If Reforms Fail

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleos Mexicanos, struggling as oil production declines, may drill for crude outside Mexico for the first time unless lawmakers approve hiring foreign partners for domestic offshore projects.

Chief Executive Officer Jesus Reyes Heroles said the company, known as Pemex, may court partners on the U.S. side of the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Cuba and in Latin America unless Congress adopts oil reforms proposed by President Felipe Calderon. Pemex needs foreign help because it doesn't have the technology to drill in water deeper than 500 meters (1,640 feet), he said.

Oil Production on the Rise

Oil production rose briskly from 2002 through 2004, before appearing to hit a peak in 2005. That peak fueled more discussion of peak oil theory. However, rising prices have induced additional supply...

Expert view: We have to learn to live with costlier oil

Worryingly, the impact of the price hike is still working its way through those systems.

Worse still, as Martin Christopher, Professor of Marketing and Logistics at Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield University noted in a recent article, high oil prices are here to stay and more significant price rises are inevitable. Further, we may be approaching, or have already have passed, “peak oil”, the moment when oil production enters a permanent decline.

Oil Myths, Oil Facts (video and transcript)

"We've got ourselves in a situation now where world wide demand is permanently outstripping world wide supply...

So, we're going to look at the conventional wisdom and arguments and try to give you a few facts...

Pickens talks about alternative energy

DOBBS: And the cost of conversion to natural gas for large vehicles, those dinosaurs or the gas guzzlers are the ones in many cases that are most readily convertible to natural gas, are they not?

PICKENS: I'm not interested in passenger car near as much as I am in heavy duty equipment. The government should move quickly to mandating that all new vehicles that be purchased by the government would be natural gas vehicles. General Motors has 19 different vehicles they make but none in the United States. All of them out of the country. South America and Europe.

Kuwait plans $132bn dream city

FUELLED by soaring oil prices, Kuwait has ambitious plans to invest $132 billion building a model city in its northern desert, complete with rail links to the rest of the Middle East, central Asia and China.

Russia's TNK-BP in surprise Venezuelan deal

MOSCOW (Reuters) - BP's (BP.L) Russian oil joint venture TNK-BP will sign its first deal with Venezuela on Tuesday, a Kremlin source said, after months of dispute between BP and its Russian partners over its expansion abroad.

Fun at the pump? TV entertains, distracts

MIAMI - In the midst of a cruel summer for America's drivers, there's a diversion: TV at the gas station.

The number of televisions atop gas pumps have skyrocketed since their introduction at a handful of stations in 2006. Now, three privately held companies have placed more than 20,000 screens at thousands of stations from the Massachusetts Pike to Southern California.

Population bomb 'ticks louder than climate'

Global population growth is looming as a bigger threat to the world's food production and water supplies than climate change, a leading scientist says.

Speaking at a CSIRO public lecture in Canberra yesterday, UNESCO's chief of sustainable water resources development, Professor Shahbaz Khan, said overpopulation's impacts were potentially more economically, socially and environmentally destructive than those of climate change.

''Climate change is one of a number of stresses we're facing, but it's overshadowed by global population growth and the amount of water, land and energy needed to grow food to meet the projected increase in population. We are facing a world population crisis.''

The LA Times has a special report on peak oil. In addition to the main article (discussed in yesterday's DrumBeat), there's a couple of sidebars:

Key terms in oil-supply debate

Oil Opinions

Resources: Peak oil websites

Pemex Oil Production Falls 11% in June on Aging Field

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleos Mexicanos, the state-owned energy company, said oil output fell 11 percent in June from a year earlier as new wells failed to keep pace with a four-year decline in the aging Cantarell field, the nation's largest.

Production dropped to 2.839 million barrels a day in June from 3.206 million a year earlier, the Mexico City-based company, known as Pemex, said today on its Web site.

Oil companies, refiners hurt by refining margins

The same historically high oil prices that are expected to contribute to massive profits for the major oil companies in the second quarter are dragging heavily, once again, on their refining operations.

And for companies whose primary business is refining oil and selling gasoline, second-quarter earnings versus a year ago could be ugly. Plummeting stock prices for many refiners reflect the difficult operating environment.

Australian oil production has peaked: report

Oil production in Australia has already peaked and the alternative fuels industry needs to be dramatically ramped up in response, an expert research group says.

After years of a stop-start approach to ethanol production, Australia is fast running out of time to end its love affair with crude oil, much of which is imported, the NRMA Motoring funded Jamison Group says.

"Oil production in Australia has already peaked,'' the group's report, A Roadmap for Alternative Fuels in Australia, warns.

Iran opposes OPEC oil output hike

TEHRAN (AFP) - Iran, the number two oil producer in OPEC, reaffirmed on Tuesday that it was against any hike in the cartel's output quota despite continued high crude prices.

"The market is in a good situation," Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari told reporters in Tehran on the sidelines of a petrochemical conference.

"In the next OPEC meeting we are heading towards winter. I think that preserving the current situation is the most appropriate one," he added.

Kenyan group raises health fears over exploration oil deal

NAIROBI (AFP) - Kenyan activists on Monday called for a Swedish firm's plans to search for oil and natural gas in the northwest Lake Turkana basin to be delayed, because of concerns about health.

...Previous exploration in the 1980s left waste that local people suspect polluted wells, causing infections among the Turkana people.

Feds to propose rules for squeezing oil from rock

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Bush administration wants to set the stage before leaving office for developing oil shale, rocky deposits in the western U.S. that could eventually yield 800 billion barrels of oil, according to government estimates.

The Interior Department is scheduled to unveil proposed regulations Tuesday for a program to sell oil shale leases on federal lands, similar to the leases sold now for oil and natural gas both on and offshore.

Pakistan - Record jump in oil prices: 'A move to crush public'

The latest increase in the prices of the petroleum products would impact directly the living cost of the commoners as it would not only soar the common man’s fuel consequent upon the kerosene price-hike but would also fuel the transportation cost for the commuters.

Consumers change buying habits, but will it last?

Every economic downturn changes shoppers in some way. But this time, experts say the new behavior — fueled by higher gas and food prices, tightening credit and a slumping housing market — are the most dramatic and widespread that they have seen since the mid-1970s.

So retailers, marketers and investors are all trying to figure out which habits shoppers will keep and which will they drop when the economy recovers. Will the people who switched to store-brand ice cream go back to Breyers or Edy's? Will shoppers return to department stores or keep looking for labels at T.J. Maxx?

Cheap air travel in peril in Mexico

Mexico City — Skyrocketing fuel prices are rocking the Mexican airline industry, leading to steep fare increases, the slashing of routes and what some analysts fear could be the end of low-cost air travel south of the border.

Food banks turn to gleaning in lean times

As grocery prices continue to rise and food donations decline, a growing number of food banks across the USA are turning to local farms for produce that otherwise might go to waste.

The process, known as gleaning, involves collecting leftovers after crops have been harvested. While gleaning has long been part of some food bank collections, the current economic downturn has brought renewed emphasis to the practice.

...The Society of St. Andrew reports overall food donations have declined from 46 million pounds in 2001 to just over 20 million pounds in 2007.

Breitinger says that market conditions, the growing use of corn in the production of ethanol, the rising price of gas, along with climate problems like drought and floods, are all partly to blame for the drop in donations.

Gore's, Pickens' Energy Challenges Need Smart Infrastructure

Kurt Yeager, executive director of the Galvin Electricity Initiative, is responding to Al Gore's and T. Boone Pickens' proposals to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil with a call to action that is unfortunately relegated to the back seat in their plans.

While increased use of renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal energy should be everyone's goal, Yeager is calling for a stronger electric power grid as an essential first step that will allow for the full integration of renewables -- and meet our growing demand for energy in our homes and industries and for transportation.

Let's Have Some Love for Nuclear Power

While we may be at a turning point, one enormous question still hangs over this revival of nuclear power in the U.S.: Who is going to pay for it? The construction of reactors in the rest of the world is essentially a government enterprise. Private investment and even public approval are not always necessary. In the U.S., however, the capital will have to be raised from Wall Street. But not many investors are willing to put up $5 billion to $10 billion for a project that could become engulfed by 10 to 15 years of regulatory delay -- as occurred during the 1980s. The Seabrook plant in New Hampshire went through 14 years of that before opening in 1990. The Long Island Lighting Company's Shoreham plant began in 1973, but was shut down by protests in 1989 without generating a watt of electricity, and the company went bankrupt as a result.

The Global Credit Crisis

This year, Congress has repeatedly found itself stalemated over the renewal of renewable credits. Supporters of the credits haven't been able to overcome opposition by Republican senators, the White House and a handful of fiscally conservative Democrats, who won't vote for the credits unless they're paid for as they go. Supporters have tried paying for the credits by rescinding tax breaks for oil companies; they've also tried raising the funds by eliminating tax loopholes that benefit hedge fund managers. Even though oil executives and hedge fund managers are perhaps the most widely hated two groups in America, neither plan has worked.

UK: Coal-fired power stations will lock UK into a high-emissions future, say MPs

The government will come under increased pressure today to ban new coal-fired power stations such as the one planned for Kingsnorth in Kent unless they are equipped to trap and store carbon pollution underground, as a committee of MPs publishes a critical report.

The environmental audit committee urges ministers to make it clear that coal power plants that do not fit carbon capture and storage (CCS) equipment will be closed down. It says the government must set a deadline, after which the operation of unabated coal-fired power stations should not be permitted.

Is world's wettest place getting drier?

The town of Cherrapunjee, in the north-eastern Indian state of Meghalaya, is reputed to be the wettest place in the world.

But there are signs that its weather patterns may be being hit by global climate change.

Satellite cutbacks could leave us blind at the poles

In 1994, the US government decided to replace its separate climate and weather instruments with a fleet of satellites holding both. The National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System was intended to save money, but by late 2005, it was more than 25 per cent over its $6.5 billion budget. This triggered cutbacks that eliminated two of the six planned satellites and delayed the launch of the first replacement climate instruments by five years until 2013.

The burden of the cuts has fallen heaviest on climate scientists, and if the old instruments fail it will create gaps in data covering microwave measurements of sea-surface temperature, the hydrological cycle, and sea ice.

The Competition Bureau of Canada is intensifying a probe into price fixing at some Quebec gas stations:


In June, the Competition Bureau of Canada laid criminal charges against 11 gasoline companies and 13 people linked to those companies suspected of fixing prices in Thetford Mines, Victoriaville, Sherbrooke and Magog. Three companies pleaded guilty, while eight - including Esso, Shell, Petro-Canada and Irving - pleaded not guilty and will face a criminal trial in Quebec Superior Court this year.

The last line from the above link: Australian oil production has peaked: report

"Our lifestyle is totally dependent on cheap oil."

That is the one thing that has yet to sink into the consciousness of the world's people. Economists, as well as MSM, seem totally oblivious to the obvious fact that the current world recession is due, in large part, to the very high price of oil. And we will not pull out of this recession until oil gets cheap again. And that will never happen.

Regardless of whether you are a doomer or a cornucopian you must admit that our lifestyle is totally dependent on cheap oil. And though some argue that there are alternatives to oil no one can argue that there are alternatives to cheap oil. The EROI of all other forms of energy, such as they are, is much lower than oil.

Our lifestyle is about to change dramatically, and lot sooner than even most people on this list realize. There will be no recovery from the current recession, it will only get deeper. Well, that is unless there is a sudden surge in world production driving prices back down to their levels of just a few years ago. And what are the chances of that happening?

Ron Patterson

just to reemphasize :

"Our lifestyle is totally dependent on cheap oil."

the addiction term clinically means;


& i don't think it's addicted to oil; but our systems are dependent[addicted to] on 'cheap' oil.

we are just getting the slack[time lag] out of many parts of our system.

Transitioning from oil to 'alternatives' might be compared to making a transition from morphine to aspirin for 'pain management'.

Which of course would work just fine if we were a ways down the road to recovery, However...

the addiction term clinically means;


Just to push back against one-word psychology diagnoses. We are all apparently addicted to
-the earth's magnetosphere
-vitamin C, etc.
-sensory stimulation
-human interaction
The addiction metaphor, when used beyond throw-away rhetoric, is just another way of lazy thinking that makes us more stupid. Ah but perhaps we like the term because it allows us to place blame and guilt and to denigrate other people. No?

Stop calling fellow TODs lazy and stupid. It's rude.

The vehement objections to the addiction metaphor are astonishing. Use of the addict metaphor is a health field term not a political or criminal one and does not necessarily imply the negative judgements [blame, guilt, denigration] that you assume it does.


I think one advantage you, Airdale and I have as "oldsters", is that we have experienced life when energy use, and society in general, were different. Further, we have had contact with family members going back into the 1800s and what their lives were like. Younger people cannot envision the life we actually lived without mounds of "stuff"...and energy.

We also have the advantage of having acquired what we need to survive. I look at my life in the boondocks and know there is no way in hell that I could pull it off where I under the pressure of having to do it "right now" in order to survive. By this I mean not only the physical things but also the psychological adaptation necessary to live a different kind of life.


Hello Todd from the oldster(class of ,57) down 'chere in Western Ky.

The truth is starting to 'come down hard' here in the outback. Lots of
families are feeling huge effects. I hear from my banking buddy that some are liquidating much of their belongings just to afford gas for the vehicles.

Myself I barely caught the 'wave' on finding and buying a couple of yesteryears Honda Trail 90s. Had to drive several hundred miles to pick them up but it was worth it easily.

Now I can cruise the outback roads and off roads and make trips to town to pick up needed necessities. To take to the woods I simply shift into low range and can crawl up the steepest banks in granny low.

Gets about 100 mpg when riding the pavement.
Big luggage rack. Could possibly haul out a field dressed deer ifn need be.

Yep its all starting to come down as we oldsters thought it would.
To those not fully into their lifeboats at this time? Well you surely are in deep kaka and right now prices are skyrocketing to add to the pain.

My latest project , not started yet, is a outdoor(screened in porch) wood fired pompeii style oven. Forno Bravo has all the details on constructing such along with recipes for what they would say as the best pizza in the world.

Airdale-doing what needs to be done(living in a pole barn), growing my garden,etc........

PS. I was given two huge blown down red oak trees to saw up into this winters firewood and possibly enough for the next year...have laid in 3 wood burning stove that I got for almost free.

Hi 'ol Buddy,

Well, I was class of '56 so I got you by one (but I did have a big, black '57 Ford convertible in college my senior year). Anyway, I've got about 2 years of wood in and I'm going to have a lot more. We had a major fire (8k acres) a couple of miles from us a few weeks ago. As I look around I see I have to clear a lot of woods for fire protection. Some of it's small stuff but a good portion are trees 60-70' high. The trouble is I've got tons of other projects. Guess they'll wait.


Good to hear from you Airdale. Yes, the changes seem to be upon us. I hope we oldsters can weather the storms. By the way, one of those storms laid a huge oak tree on my house yesterday. Provided a lot of potential firewood and a chance to practice living without electricity. It will not be easy. (I am not enough of an engineer to maintain a solar electric system--or afford one.) Best to you! Hummingbird, Class of '56

Glad to see you're around on the net and kicking. If you decide to come back to my site, we've taken care of the spam problem. I found a good modification that worked well at keeping the spammers away.

~Durandal (http://www.wtdwtshtf.com)


I revisited WTD just a bit ago after reading your post. Will post as time permits. Glad to see the site is
still alive(as I am).

Actually I am in better health than I was 5 years ago as my blood chemistry had made me very sluggish and prone to low energy levels.

Back riding my Harley, working on my new(old) Trail 90, and doing all the things I need to be doing.


The generations in my family run long: one of my great-grandfathers was born in 1829. I can recall my grandmother telling about her daily chores. Her family had a large land-holding on the banks of the Missouri River directly south of Columbia at McBaine which was the rail stop at their farm. Although it was good rich bottomland, her father preferred to run cattle for the most part, and raise race horses. Every year they would have a horse race at which Frank James would fire the starting pistol. They had neither running water, electricity, nor indoor plumbing. Her main chore was to trim all of the wicks of the lamps in the house, and to keep them supplied with whale oil. This was from about 1900 to 1908. She went to Stevens College in Columbia, married my grandfather in 1912 and settled in Kansas City, where her first car was an electric car. Only in 1918 did she get a car with an internal combustion engine, and that winter she had to bring a pan of coals out from the house every morning and put it under the engine so she could turn the crank against the viscous, heavy oil, to start the car.


Just curious as to what you think the difference is between Mexico and Saudi Arabia, since both regions are highly dependent on one large field and since both countries are showing rising water cuts (or more accurately thinning oil columns) in key parts of their big fields, and since both countries have shown monthly increases in production,e.g., last month in Mexico.

Does last month's increase in production in Mexico mean that Pemex has been voluntarily reducing their production because of market conditions, or does it mean that post-peak regions can show both increasing and decreasing production at different time periods, but on an annual basis they don't match their final peak rate?

Just curious.

Jeff, I believe both Mexico and Saudi are producing flat out. Ups and downs are to be expected due to maintenance of wells and such. Saudi has much more leeway and are not as concerned with keeping production at maximum as is Mexico therefore Saudi has much more volatility then Mexico.

Mexico's small increases in the last two months are nothing to cheer about. They are still below their March level and except for April and May, they are at their lowest point in over a decade, since well before they peaked.

I do not rule out the possibility that Saudi has been manipulating their production for a purpose that has little to do with the price of oil. If they were producing every possible barrel in the summer of 05 and there were serious rumors that they had peaked, they might have deliberately cut production by a million barrels per day, then raised it by three fourths a mb/d, then it would look for all the world like they could, if they wished, raise it even further. Of course everything concerning Saudi Arabia is just a guess but I don't trust a damn thing they say. At any rate the next few months will be very interesting.

But Mexico is an open book. I only wish Saudi were also. Saudi an Mexican production for the last seven months, in thousand barrels per day. The Saudi numbers are from OPEC's Monthly Oil Market Report and Mexico's are from PEMEX's Monthly Petroleum Statistics.

... Saudi ..... Mexico
Dec 8,980 ..... 2,954
Jan 9,075 ..... 2,957
Feb 9,090 ..... 2,929
Mar 9,031 ..... 2,847
Apr 8,984 ..... 2,767
May 9,179 ..... 2,798
Jun 9,350 ..... 2,839

Ron Patterson

As a followup comment to Ron's, I highly recommend that people review the monthly data for the United States from 1968 to about 1974.

The annual peak is very obvious in there but the monthly noise is, well, noisy. I refuse to read too much into single month peaks as trends are more important and annual production figures tend to smooth out maintenance and other issues. The problem, of course, is that getting annual figures literally takes years. ;)

If Mexico can increase production for 4-6 straight months, then I might take notice, but otherwise no.

It will indeed be interesting to follow Mexico's production over the next months. Do you know the C+C consumption of Mexico? Assuming an 11% decline rate in Mexico over the next years, Mexico will become a net oil (C+C) importer in 2011 assuming C+C consumption in Mexico is about 1.8mbpd. If it is more, it could happen in 2010.

I don't think we can expect much exports from Brazil either in the future. The consumption there is about to take off. Vehicle sales is up a wooping 30% so far this year, there's a consumption boom never before seen in the country, the mood in the country is one of great optimism, and to be frank, a country with almost 200m people, reaching 220m in 2020 should have ample room for internal consumption. Expect Brazil's consumption to double by 2020. The country is exactly in the income level where internal consumption takes off, similar to the western world in the 1960s.

No, we are not dependent on cheap oil, we are dependent on cheap oil that gets cheaper and cheaper as time goes by - comparing 2000 to 1970 each barrel of oil in 2000 produced around twice the GDP, (or the price of the oil halved).

The cheaper and cheaper bit is the important bit as it allows more and more to be afforded/consumed - AKA economic growth!

For the last nine years in the absence of adequate alternatives the net-export price of the marginal barrel of oil has not been getting cheaper and cheaper, the pace of overall world economic growth (and things like banking which depend upon economic growth for success) must slow as a consequence!

In a post peak-oil world in order to continue BAU world economic growth any alternates to oil (and FF in general) will have to be competitive in unsubsidised price and become cheaper as a proportion of income over time - what can we use?

Are there absolutely no plans whatsoever to massively increase production of the huge ultra heavy oil bitumen resources in Venezuela? Is it a fresh water shortage problem that would make it impossible to even increase it to 1 mbpd in the foreseeable future?

Ron, your statement frames the problem perfectly, and this is EXACTLY why the term "addiction" is flawed, trivial, stupid and banal.

This is no mere addiction. Dependency and addiction are different, categorically. In fact, I'd wager addiction is a cultural myth, the mythical golden goose that has hatched a thousand recovery groups.

There. Is. No. "Recovery." From. Peak Oil.


To continue the metaphor re 'there is no recovery from peak oil':

Most politicians define 'recovery from peak oil' as returning to BAU: ie getting another fix from some forgotten hidden stash [offshore] or stealing it from some other [nation state] or switching to a substitute [coal]. They will fail.

Most addicts never recover, a lucky few do but the changes they make are thorough lifestyle changes. Thorough lifestyle change is not what most oil dependent states have in mind. They'd rather die.

And so they will.

Even a dead addict still fits the metaphor perfectly.


u obviously haven't read many coroner reports.

but yes ron is right a declining spiral at best with dropoffs & occasional flat spots & rare brief upturns ;

& maybe at some distant point the coroner's report on humanity that never gets written.

Great post Ron. "Our lifestyle is totally dependent on cheap oil."

That one line says it all. People can crunch the numbers ad infinitum, but the truth of that one statement is the viewpoint from oil's peak plateau. We've created a world dependent on cheap energy (oil). Transportation on all levels is most dependent on it.

However, whereas I was completely pessimistic a while ago, my sense now is that we still have enough time to make the transition to alternative energy systems, with an emphasis on small passenger electric vehicles. If we develop a modern electrical grid that is more efficient, allowing for connection from wind and solar, the US can act as an example to other countries to greatly reduce their dependence on oil. We can also use natural gas as a competing subsitute for diesel in commercial trucks.

If we can successfully make this transition, then other countries will follow suit and worldwide dependence on oil will be reduced enough to extend the years oil will remain abundant, until some day oil will not stand as such a crucial foundation to our lives.

Now this could very well mean a temporary lowering of standard of living. Maybe we won't thunder down the road in giant 4WD black internal combustion monster, but instead whine down the road in a tiny Chevy Volt. Maybe we won't get all the imported products we once took for granted while this transition takes place. But it sure beats capitulation to the socially depraved micro townships depicted in Kunstler's books.

I urge all peak oilers to optimistically back alternative energy production.

I urge all peak oilers to optimistically back alternative energy production.

Ok, I back it.

Now what?

So the NMRA acknowledges that Crude production in Ausralia peaked... some time ago (2000), and further acknowledge that our lifestyles are totally dependent on cheap Oil. Well, bully for them. They seem to be exhibiting Cognitive Dissonance, as they (and their fellow-traveller organisations such as the RACQ and RACV) are constantly calling for more money to be spent on building new roads/upgrading old ones.

Our motoring organisations came into being to campaign for safer roads. Then they campaigned for more roads. Then they campaigned for more, safer roads.
By 'safer', one can only assume 'safer at high speeds'. Last weekend I was in a car driving down The Range from my girlfriends 'farm', on one of the 'most dangerous roads in Queensland'. At the signed speed limit, it is not dangerous. If it rains, slow down a bit. The biggest danger to drivers is boredom, alternating with gawping out the side windows at the scenery. Yet the RACQ is constantly demanding more money to 'fix' this highway. Perhaps the RACQ could campaign for money to rebuild the abandoned railway line that used to run up the Range instead?)

Five kilometres from here, Main Roads is busilly ripping up several kilometres of National Highway, and adding extra lanes in each direction. I shudder to think what the final cost will be. And more locally, Main Roads recently spent the better part of Au$10-20 million to achieve what could have been achieved by simply painting new lines on the existing road.

Instead of funding a massive expansion in MT/PT, the Queensland Government subsidises Petrol/Diesel to the tune of 8c/L, adding up to $500 million a year! That's funding for about 50 kilometres of 25kVA electrified Heavy Rail, dissapearing into thin air!


"Population bomb 'ticks louder than climate'"

Isn't population the elephant in the room - the root behind all the other threats? It certainly is in the case of CO2, oil, water, etc. Admittedly there is a the multiplication factor of what each person produces, but the common element is that darn population figure that keeps rising.

How long before that hits the general conciousness? Peak oil is palatable by comparison.

You think people are in denial about climate change or peak oil? Well, the population question is one where people are *really* in denial.

My feeling is that people really need to fully absorb the two problems of climate change and peak oil. Then you can start to bring in other resources - fish, fresh water, wood, etc, and show that we are also depleting these in the same way that oil is being depleted. From this the conclusion that population is a problem is much clearer.

But each person needs to accept the basic ideas at each level before it makes sense to try and take them to the next.

Ericy - Totally agree.

Teach from what they know.

My sister who is a reading recovery specialist taught me this and it has greatly improved my ability to reach people.



I don't think people are in denial. If you ask anyone they would point to some other country that is overpopulated.... except theirs. (tongue firmly in cheek)

A lot of Americans think their own country is overpopulated. They blame immigration, of course, not their own families.

Thirty five years ago the US was on track to hit maximum population about now, at under 300 million. Immigration (two big rewrites of the law to increase legal immigration) is the reason we're over 300 million and still rising. People whose parents were born in this country have babies at less than replacement rate, albeit more than the Europeans.

That's the other form of denial. Industrial nations blame the 3rd world by telling them that they need to keep their populations under control. And 3rd world nations blame the industrialized nations by saying that they need to use less in the way of resources.

Ultimately both are correct, but finger pointing is ultimately unproductive. Especially if the countries involved decide to do nothing in the meantime.

Yeah, but did you see the article about the difficulties the lady in Burkina Faso was having feeding TWO DOZEN kids on a former police patrolman's pension (kids were spread over 3 wives). Yeah, I agree pretty much everybody deserves a "What, me worry" tattoo, but by any objective standard these people need it in caps. right across their forehead. How was something like that gonna work out even under BAU conditions. If things are gonna be bad for us in the west, I gotta think it's gonna be exponentially worse there, and not just because of some evil plot by the powers that be.

It said some of the kids were grandchildren.

Of course you don't find that out until more than halfway through the fifth page, if you get that far through the lengthy ramble. And despite that length, the overall generational structure is not very clear - I suppose it would have been Politically Incorrect to delve into it too deeply. If there is indeed a generation between the patriarch and his wives, and the young children, one wonders if that generation went AWOL, died of AIDS, or why the onus seems to rest almost entirely on the grandparents if that's what they are.

Be that as it may, even if it takes the population two generations rather than one to explode by a factor of ten, it's hard to imagine, in that not especially supportive physical environment, how they could ever get out from under even if oil dropped back to $20. If we got a working Mr. Fusion by three o'clock tomorrow afternoon, it still might not be enough.

Peak Energy is not a problem. Global Climate Change is not a problem. Financial Implosion is not a problem.

All of these are but symptoms - manifestations of the only problem we actually face: Population overshoot. That's why attempts to "fix" what we perceive as a problem will have no ameliorative effect. We're working on making the effects less offensive, all while the true cause continues unabated....until the problem corrects itself.

Then there is the snarky response heard here before: these are not problems, because problems have solutions.

I doubt that overpopulation is THE problem of human civilization. Actually, it is a problem NOW, for this generation, with this set of data. If the population was only half of today's number, clearly peak oil, global warming and ecosystem disaster would constitue remote future events. However, this doesn't change the fact that someday in the mid-term future the resources will become scarce, just as it happens these days. So this overpopulation theme is just a factor which drew closer these events on the timeline.
We are talking about sustainability and this can be reached only by modifying behaviour and not (exclusively) numbers. Changing numbers will only postpone the resource crisis.

I doubt that overpopulation is THE problem of human civilization.

It actually is, if humankind handles this wrong what few survivors, if any, will be etching out a living not to much different from nomadic hunter and gather's but in the shadow of the ruins of our current world.

I've yet to see any credible scenario painted that gets us from industrial civilization to the post apocalyptic fantasy that so many here seem to indulge in. Why does this meme never end?

You are a person after my own heart; about two years ago this was my final assessment. These are symptoms, the boils that appear from the underlying issue. Any of them might be a lot more easily "mitigated" if the underlying problem was not the cause. Our numbers.

Now, in this column are some of the things we should encourage if we want to lower the rate of growth of population and in so doing, help solve the population problem. Well, there’s abstention, contraception, abortion, small families, stop immigration, disease, war, murder, famine, accidents. Now, smoking clearly raises the death rate; well, that helps solve the problem.... We now have the capability of incredible war; would you like more murder, more famine, more accidents? Well, here we can see the human dilemma—everything we regard as good makes the population problem worse, everything we regard as bad helps solve the problem. There is a dilemma if ever there was one.

Excerpted from
Dr. Albert Bartlett: Arithmetic, Population and Energy (transcript)

Jim Kunstler is MIA. Does anyone have a clue what happened to him? I suspect that he's just taking some time off. But I also have an irrational fear that the secret service or FBI tapped him after his assassination comments in last week's CF Nation.

You mean this comment:

Nothing will avail now. Not even if Sirhan Sirhan were paroled at noon today and transported directly to the West Wing with a .44 magnum in each hand (and a taxi driven by the Devil waiting outside to take him to the US Treasury and the offices of the Federal Reserve).

from Event Horizon

Calling JHK, shining the Bat Beam...

If you need your JHK fix for this week you can get his podcast on itunes!

That's not as far fetched as some might think.

Oh dear, looks like Mr. Kunstler's just another boneheaded traveller, burning jet fuel & leaving vapor trails and carbon fog across the sky. Note that he even insists to claim that he was "hassled" by the those alert Canadian security professionals who rescued his laptop from the airport checkpoint bin in which he abandoned it. Ah well, he wouldn't be your beloved Kunstler if he wasn't complaining about something.

Well, for those who need your curmudgeon fix, he has recovered his poor lost Mac and updated his site. No black helicopters to blame, evidently.

'Rampant Fraud & Felony Hires Amongst Mortgage Brokers' (Florida RE Fraud)

'Gary Kafka, former body builder with a long rap sheet and violent past, wrote millions of dollars in mortgages in South Florida without ever applying for a state license.

Fresh out of prison after serving time for bank fraud, he never went through a criminal background check before selling loans. He never took a competency exam.'


'• From 2000 to 2007, regulators allowed at least 10,529 people with criminal records to work in the mortgage profession. Of those, 4,065 cleared background checks after committing crimes that state law specifically requires regulators to screen, including fraud, bank robbery, racketeering and extortion.

• More than half the people who wrote mortgages in Florida during that period were not subject to any criminal background check. Despite repeated pleas from industry leaders to screen them, Florida regulators have refused.

• Confronted with a growing epidemic of mortgage fraud -- Florida now has the highest rate in the nation -- the number of license revocations declined over the last five years, leaving borrowers at the mercy of predatory brokers.

• During the peak of the housing boom, the Office of Financial Regulation ignored a state law enacted in 2006 that compelled it to perform nationwide criminal background checks on applicants. That failure allowed people convicted in other states -- and in federal court -- to peddle loans in Florida without any scrutiny.'

There is a lot more to the story. It can be found at the first link below...scroll down about 1/4 page.



Thousands with criminal records work unlicensed as loan originators
Miami Herald, July 20, 2008


Ex-convicts active in mortgage fraud
Miami Herald, July 20, 2008

Yesterday, Ilargi had a story about the FDIC taking over a failed mortgage bank, and running exactly the same sort of scam as caused the bank to fail in the first place. http://www.theautomaticearth.blogspot.com/

Ilargi: I don't think we'll stop talking about the FDIC for a long while. Here's a Wall Street Journal article, much longer than this little quote and worth the read, that paints the picture of the bureau that all Americans still believe insures their bank deposits, as a very shady mortgage lender.

FDIC Faces Mortgage Mess After Running Failed Bank

Federal officials heap much of the blame for the subprime mortgage mess on lenders, claiming they recklessly made too many high-cost home loans to borrowers who couldn't afford them.

It turns out that the U.S. government itself was one of the lenders giving out high-interest, subprime mortgages, some of them predatory, according to government documents filed in federal court.

It is beyond obvious that the entire government is being run as a criminal machine, and respect for the law is limited to those who have no power to flaunt it.

Whatever is to be done?

NeverLNG, If you can't lick em, join em.

Not only is the US Gov and it's various branches scamming the American People, it is scamming the governments and people of the entire world. Well, leadership and exemplary behavior comes from the top...look at the azz hats leading our country and setting examples.

get popcorn, roll film...

River -- consider what you wrote. I am not sure how to "join" a criminal conspiracy, because I have never learned to think that way. The only "joining" I could do would be to become their subject, which in fact I have. What little property I have is subject to the whims of a government which can at any moment find an excuse to take it from me. What little money I have is deposited in banks, and is subject to their whims about my ability to withdraw it. Long ago I gave up on the stock market when I finally realized it was nothing but a giant casino, with odds strongly in favor of the house.

Put your money in gold? -- easily stolen, and not so easily converted into money -- you need the services of a "broker". And so on.

My idea is that for the average person of a reasonable degree of socialization the only way is to form or join a local community that is mutually beneficial. And rules have to be established for the community that require the members put the group first. A completely un-American way of thinking -- our ancestors spent a lot of time, money and blood eradicating that idea from the North American continent when the got rid of the Native Americans. I am fairly certain the ancestors of the present-day Europeans did the same to indigenous populations about 3000 years ago, but that memory is lost.

NeverLNG, 'If you can't lick em, join em' is an old saying and my take on it is 'you can't fight city hall', or, 'go with the flow'.

I am not advocating breaking any law or stuffing a mattress with cash or whatever.

Recently I was accused by another poster of tax evasion because once I made a comment to the effect 'I have been dealing in gold for 45 years and have never paid taxes or commissions on trades.' I was furious and for good reason. The statement I made was a true statement but the reason is that I am incorporated and have gains and losses from other assets. Sometimes losses can be carried forward to off set gains and commissions can be written off as an expense in some instances...and, there is depreciation on equipment. There are always repairs and remodeling to commercial real estate (rentals). Anyway, I have been audited twice in my life and was not found in violation of any law or code.

What I am saying is one should position one's self to take the most advantage possible from the laws that are passed to primarily help the 'upper class'. Thus, 'if you can't lick em, join em'...

I am a member of 'mutually beneficient' society but we have no rules. We are bikers and we help each other as need arises. We are not a charity and if a member falls into crack usage or other folly we will not enable him/her in any way. Those of the group that continue to work and keep their heads above water we will help without being asked. I don't know if this system will work for a large society but it works for us. Our group is well aware that we cannot save the world and we are not trying to.

Our group is well aware that we cannot save the world and we are not trying to.

Tons of kudos for this approach. There is no one solution for everywhere/everyone which is why I believe in as much local control as possible.

Taxes In America - 30 years ago most everybody worked a regular job - and after taxes and social security lived on what was left over. Then as the tax laws got more and more complex people hired CPA's and tax attorneys to navigate complex tax laws which pulled more and more people out of the role of tax-payer. It occurred to a lot of folks that paying taxes was for suckers!

How has the U.S. Federal Government responded to this loss of tax revenue? Record deficits and profligate borrowing the consequences of which are only now starting to materialize.

The example of the French is instructive: By 1779 the French government through expensive foreign adventures (the support of the American War for Independence being only one) and Royal Extravagance left Louis the 16th and his ilk no choice but to tax the newly rising middle classes as the poor had nothing left and the (rapidly expanding) Nobility had by statute made themselves exempt from taxation. In response the Bourgeois threw their lot in with the poor and now we have Bastille Day in honor of the usurping of the Aristocracy.

Funny thing is we have an even more lop-sided situation today with 1% of the world's population owning more than 50% of the worlds' assets. They don't call them Nobility or Aristocracy anymore. How about "Invisible Ruling Elites'.

"How about "Invisible Ruling Elites'"

how 'bout looters of the teasury ?

How about Friedmanite Orthodoxy Chicago School of Economics Neocons.

Not very catchy...


joemichaels, 'How has the U.S. Federal Government responded to this loss of tax revenue?'

Joe, the US Fed Gov created the tax system and you are wondering about how the US Fed Gov should respond? Give me a break. The Gov has had ample opportunity to create the nitemare tax system and they have had ample time and opportunity to change the system. As usual, the gov has chosen to sit on their hands and do nothing while the wealthiest of the population garnered the most benifit from the tax system. After all, it was the wealthy that lobbied for the convoluted tax code that we have and the gov gave it to them.

When I saw that the Fed Gov was not going to change the system I positioned my family in a way that would, hopefully, keep us out of the poor house. If I had failed to do so and my family fell on hard times who would be at fault? I cannot change the damn tax code but I will attempt to keep my family out of bankruptcy court. BTW, my family and I are not wealthy and are doing our best to avoid becoming poor.

River - I encourage people to use every tax deduction short of fraud to avoid taxation. What I was pointing out is that average people (myself included) figured out how to use the system that was tilted in favor of the rich.

Should we feel responsible for this? Hell no! I am however concerned that if this economic system collapses the majority of pensioners who trusted the system, worked hard and paid their taxes will find themselves shorted. Remember the outrage of the employees and stockholders of ENRON felt? Multiply that by a factor of 10.

One thing I can say with confidence: The Gen-Xers are not going to pay for our retirement.

After WWII the US had a moderately progressive tax structure and, in hindsight, it worked pretty well as far as having more egalitarian income levels across society. Since the 'Reagan Revolution' the tax structure has become increasingly regressive to the point of being comparable to the situation in France ca. Bastille Day.

Now anyone who talks about bringing back the progressive tax structure is branded a commie-socialist. I'm afraid the bad guys have won.

river-- I'm not accusing you of tax evasion or anything else, and yes, "if you can't lick 'em...." is an old saying.

I'm merely pointing out that we need to re-examine some of the old paradigms that we accept without question.

To "join" in the sense of engaging in their criminal behavior is dangerous -- they will grind any challenger into powder. To join in the sense of "convert" to their paradigm -- well, by putting money in the Bank of America, I have done just that. But it is sort of like in the old days of being forced to convert to Muslim or Christian religion at the point of a sword. (Of course, we moderns don't require those forced conversions any more-- it seems to be easier to lead people to slaughter than to force them to it.)

NLNG, I do not like the system. I do not like the tax code...But 'Their' behavior is not criminal because 'they' have the law and tax code on 'their' side...That is not to say that 'their' behavior is not immoral...But immoral will get thrown out of court most of the time.

I am one guy with one family trying to make it in a system and tax code that is stacked against the 'little guy'. I will do whatever is necessary, within the law, to keep my family afloat.

If you have a better solution for my situation, that is legal, I would like to hear it. Thanks...

Might makes right, I guess. Extraordinary rendition is not torture. But if you or I were to attempt those procedures in say, collecting our bills, we would be put in jail.

No, the system sucks. But what is the alternative? Join or die, I guess. I have no better solution that is "legal", since legality obviously depends on who is doing it.

Some people get away with major tax evasion "legally." I once got in hot water with the IRS because my wife was bartering handspun wool without declaring any income. In the end, that was resolved when I agreed to stop the "illegal" activity (which didn't amount to $100 worth of stuff.)

I don't know WTF you people are talking about! A family of 4 making the median income in this country pays less than $300 a year in income taxes (Providing they do $4000 in an IRA or 401K) Don't believe me get any of the tax software packages and do the nums. That means half the country is not paying do diddly in income taxes
According to the IRS the top 1% is paying over 40% of the income taxes with 27% of the income, top 5% paying 60% with 37% of the income, top 25% paying 86% with 67% of the income. Top 50% paying 97% of the taxes with 88% of the income. Oh yeah the bottom 50% earns 12% of the income and pays 3% of the taxes.
Looks to me like the tax system is working pretty well. Keeping the rates reasonably low for the well to do keeps them from exploiting the tax shelters they run to when marginal rates get over 40%. Bottom line we all pay to much in taxes! Add them all together and alot of us work until about now just to cover our total tax liabilities for the year.

Don't believe me get any of the tax software packages and do the nums.

How can I do the "nums" without making a huge number of assumptions? Why don't you flesh this out with some details or provide us with a link to someone who has.

There are a lot more taxes than just the income tax.

Hard to argue with the numbers. However, you might want to include FICA taxes, which are now around 11% of income ($5280 for your "median income earner) for the lower brackets, but much, much less for the upper brackets, since there is an upper limit.

But that wasn't the actual subject under discussion. It was more along the lines of "what gives Bernanke and friends the legal right to raid the Treasury?"


FICA "taxes" (medicare & social security) are under 8% on each individual (the employer pays a like amount that is never seen by the individual). So, even for married couples 8% of each income is still only 8% of their total income. I put taxes in quotes since the Supreme court ruled that they are not taxes - they are insurance programs. So, like it or not, your surviving spouse and children get payments should you die, and if you reach retirement age, you essentially get everything back with interest. And, if you become disabled, you get disability payments. Not exactly a tax. If you still think it is, then you might as well include property, life, casualty, health, disability, and such other insurance payments as taxes.

Some people love calling these taxes merely because they want other people to pay these taxes for people they determine are too burdened by these payments. So, just take more money from somebody else and give it to them under some tax fairness. Might as well give them a car payment also. Just call a car payment an evil tax that some people cannot afford.

That is just plain wrong. "Self-employed people are responsible for the entire FICA percentage of 15.3%" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Insurance_Contributions_Act_tax I'm self-employed, and I know.

And they are indeed taxes, despite what the Supreme Court says. They are not voluntary.

And people who don't earn wages (trustifarians, for example) do not pay these taxes. And people earning over around $103,000 are exempt from additional social security tax.

NeverLNG - Hell, I did not know that we were talking about the self-employed who pay FICA on their profits. But, since we are getting technical, please look at line 27 on the front page of your FORM 1040 income tax return for 2008, and you will note that the self employed DEDUCT 1/2 of the self-employment amount. So, you do not pay the full 15.3% because you get to deduct half whether or not you itemize.

And, I guess everyone should do the same with everything that they disagree with - i.e., disregard the Supreme Court.

You mean like the IRS does?

First of all, federal income taxes are not the only tax; however, they are the most progressive. There are FICA, Medicare, property taxes,state income taxes, sales taxes, and various other local taxes and fees. Most of these are relatively regressive or flat taxes, and therefore hit the lower and middle classes disproportionately. Capital gains, and incomes over $103,000 are exempt from FICA tax for example. The social security fund, after adding it to the "Unified Budget" was enriched by a massive tax increase engineered by Greenspan during the Reagan administration, and has since then been used as a slush fund to sluice money into unpopular and expensive programs such as a bloated military, tax subsidies to the oil industry and a national security bureaucracy that is eroding our rights here and crushing them abroad. People are angry over taxes because in this country, the taxation "return on investment" is very poor, and people see little in the way of benefits coming back for the taxes they pay. All they see are rapidly increasing costs of necessities, government sponsored crony capitalism, and generally eroding purchasing power. The Europeans may pay higher taxes, but they get it back through superior infrastructure and a better health care system, among others.

how 'bout if we eliminated taxes altogether, who would loan us money then ?

I agree: You don't seem to know what they are talking about.

"Wages" are definitely taxed at higher rates than than "income" because the wealthy who write/purchase the US tax laws don't have wages they have income. FICA IS A TAX and with fed state and local wage taxes can easily take up a third of a paycheck. Worse, the social security system has been cannibalized by the big piggies so those paying the FICA will never see their social security checks in old age.

The wealthy in the USA can afford to pay A LOT more taxes, as they used to do, but now pay much much less due to legal evasions and porky perks their politician servants put into place for them: Their higher priced multi-million dollar property mortgage interest write-offs being one way to evade paying a lot of what they owe. Joe Apartment Renter can't write off the cost of his housing the way the Multi-Acre Gated Mansion dwellers do.

The corporate wealthy [and I mean the extremely wealthy not your average doctor or lawyer or small business owner who is co-opted/tricked into voting with them on tax reduction legislation], these top .5 and .1% are making OBSCENE amounts of money while they supress wages of the folks actually doing the work that brings in their CEO ballooned salaries.

KansasCrude: Your post sounds a lot like Rush's talking points. Try "Who Really Pays the Taxes" by Bartlett and Steele...from back in the 90's and things are only worse for middle and low income wages earners now.

Friends don't let friends ride Harley's, eh?

Friends don't let friends make ignorant posts.

Meh. Harley Davidson: Underpowered, Overweight, Poor handling, Bad gas mileage, great marketing (anyone for a $50 bag of HD jerky)

OTOH, they do have a brand lock on the poser biker set.

Right...I am a poser biker...since I began riding in 1957 at age 13 I have been a poser biker...You are a poor troll...But, I will agree with you about the latest Harley craze. I get a good laugh out of these new owners that come out of the Harley dealer with one or two new bikes and the 'Harley Uniform'. Usually they are like you, all hat and no cattle...and they are scared of their bikes.

On the other hand if you had logged any real mileage you would know that Harleys are comfortable, have plenty of hp in stock form to get the new riders killed in quantity, and handle very well. Weight is what makes them comfortable. I average 45 mpg and am happy with the trade off for weight and comfort.

So, what are you riding that is so much better than a Harley?

I am not claiming that my ride is better than a Harley. What I am saying is that by any objective measurement, I can show you motorcycles at half the price of a Harley that exceed most every specification. The motor company is just another bloated American enterprise propped up by Government largess (CHP, etc) and consumers blinded by marketing. Take away those props and they will disappear like Indian before them.

Me? I have ridden a kawasaki z750 (fantastic, durable motocycle), Suzuki GS500 (bulletproof), Honda Saber 750 (not so bulletproof), BMW (expensive to keep running, great otherwise), Kawasaki 500EX (my current squeeze). I ride daily, rain or shine. I don't wear chaps, chains, labels or any of the Harley uniform.

I have ridden on a recent model Harley (can't remember the model) and it was HEAVY and SLOW and cost about $20k. The beast scraped its pedals around corners and the owner kept complaining about stuff breaking off. I will say it was comfortable - hell, the thing was like a sofa with two wheels. The thing felt less powerful than my 500cc kwacker. And 45MPG from a motorcycle is ATROCIOUS. My wife's prius doe better than that and it cost just a bit more than the Harley I sniffed around.

I can lift my motorcycle from the ground - can you? This is the simplest test and best test of ownership.

1) Kwak z750: Nice bar hopper but you would not want to ride it more than a few hundred miles per day and would not want to ride it on a long road trip. Zippo trade in value.

2) Suzuki GS 500: See number one above.

3) Honda Saber 750: See number one above. Except I had a friend that had a couple of these. He used them to race the AMA road course and won some races. I helped him out in the pit when he was racing locally. He knew how to make it go fast but it broke a lot.

4) BMW...What model? This is the only bike you named that I would consider taking on the road. At $1,100 for a new set of jugs I would agree parts are a bit pricey. Resale is little better than Asian bikes unless one has a GS model.

5) Kwak 500 ex. Another croch rocket that keeps one bent over the gas tank like an ape waiting to take it up the kazoo. Real comfort to ride. I can see someone on one of these things going from Daytona to Alaska and back.

I ride daily rain or shine...So do I and millions of Harley riders. I don't wear chaps, chains, etc,...I have never owned a set of chaps in over 50 years of riding, I don't own any black leather, I do own a very old and frayed brown leather flight jacket that goes everwhere I go bungeed to the handle bars or on my back. I used to carry an extra chain master link till chains were no longer used (except on bar hopping crotch rockets). Less powerfull than my 500 cc Kwaker...probably so but there are these things called speed limits and sane people do not ride over the limits too long without a close association with the asphalt and/or hospital. My Harleys will run way above any posted speed limit all day and all nite long, rain or shine, day after day. That is what counts. 'My wife's Prius'...apples and oranges...If I want an econobox I can afford one. The 'real test of a MC'...Will it take you anywhere you want to go and bring you back, with only routine maintenance, without killing you or causing severe pain. That is the only test that counts.

'I can lift my motorcycle from the ground - can you? This is the simplest test and best test of ownership.'...I have owned lots of motorcycles that I could lift from the ground. I raced Triumphs in flat track competition that tipped the scales under 300 lbs but I certainly would'nt want to ride one for distance. Lifting a mc from the ground is good test for seperating those wanting a hernia from people that are actually sane. I carry a tool kit and know how to use it. If I have a flat I lay my bike on it's side, plug the tubeless tire, pump it up and go find a new Dunlop. I do not ride further than necessary on a plugged tire. Experience is a great teacher. The weight of a Harley is a great advantage while touring. You would know that if you did any touring.

So you sniffed around a Harley... :) Here is hoping that someday you have an opportunity to spend a month or two on a Harley. That is when you will learn what they are built to do. One can run a Harley all day in a driving rain and those soft Dunlops will not hydroplane like the cages one is passing. One can scrape the floorboards cornering in heavy rain without a major skid or worse. No bike telegraphs a coming slide like a Harley and no bike is easier to slide with and recover. All it takes is a rider. When you lean a Harley hard in a turn and the floor boards scrape and sparks fly the bike is sending you a message: enough. Do you really believe that Harleys are just for the posers? Harleys are for riders but unfortunately most are owned by folks that never ride any distance so the owners never find out what a great mc they own. Most Harley owners take out their bike for a Sunday cruise now and then and keep the machine spit shinned. My motto is chrome won't get ya home. I ride. BTW, I have had over a dozen Harleys and the closest to a new Harley that I have come to owning had 1,400 mi and change on it when I bought it. Only saps take the big depreciation hit on a new anything...even a Prius.

There are three MCs that I would ride for distance today. A big Harley. A big Beamer. A Goldwing. Resale and parts would kill me on the second two. Parts availability is another problem on the road...Harley parts and dealerships are everywhere. One entering a BMW or Honda dealership might be on a waiting list for parts and the parts are sky high.

The only new MCs that I ever purchased were a 1971 Honda 750...it was a great bike for bar hopping or street racing but not even a good day tripper. Round trip to work and back, 74 miles, was fine. From Annapolis Md to the Skyline Drive, cruise the drive and look at the foliage changing colors, and back to Annapolis was painfull. Second was a 1968 TR6C (single Amal high pipes) that I ran in the woods and gravel pits with friends that had similar bikes. Great fun...I wish I still had it. Both of these bikes cost around $1,700-1,900 at a time when I was making $32K plus lots of OT. Iow...They were almost pocket change.

The craze of MCs seems to go in circular motions like the economy. It comes, it goes. I wish it would go so my friends and I would not be lumped in with the 'new bikers' that are not really bikers at all. They don't know how to ride. To me, they look as if they are headed for a Haloween Party.

Hey, you are a rider so keep it in the wind. I don't care what you ride cause you are saving gas and smiling. But, don't knock what you have not been on for a long road trip. You don't really know anything about a Harley till you ride it for distance in nasty weather...and don't believe all you hear or read in MC Rags.

If you can, come down here and I will put you on my Fat Boy and ride beside you to Ashville and back. Then I will have some respect what you have to say about Harleys.

Fun to see someone ELSE having this exchange, hehe. A lot of fun bikes out there. I've done a few, and have a few more I'd like to try- the Kaw Concours 14 will be next up for me. Just about ready to tag an end of season sale.

Keep the shiny side up guys!

Concurs-14!! Yeah - that would be my weapon of choice for medium to long distance stuff. Whats that cost? $13000 new or decent price used.

Sorry, this whole "it keeps its value" stuff is, IMO, bogus. Effective, point to point (talking about the 80% of the time) transportation does not require heavy iron. This means that the small and reliable will raise in price versus the big & slow.

Price, after all, is a lagging indicator - I do not see Harleys keeping their value vs. the rest of the top tier motorcycles.

I thought that you had friends. LOL

Then there is the SEC ruling that prevent all but a 'select few' financial institutions from profiting by shorting the market. These 'select few' (19 of them) can continue to do so.

Makes me wonder why the US govt. is diddling around with these silly half-measures. Why not simply determine who the real 'insiders' are and pass a law stating that " These guys get all the money, everyone else has to give up all their wealth."

This would save a lot of complicated game-playing and cut to the chase.

But it might finally open people's eyes to what is going on.

Then again, maybe it wouldn't. Rush would have his flock believing it was God's will.

Then there is the SEC ruling that prevent all but a 'select few' financial institutions from profiting by shorting the market. These 'select few' (19 of them) can continue to do so.

LOL. You are so distorting what the SEC did it is not even funny.

They simply imposed a rule that instead of a 'best effort' estimation that shares would be available to borrow for a short seller in 19 stocks, the short seller now has to actually borrow the shares before selling. These stocks are all heavily shorted and are termed "hard to borrow" it is very difficult to find shares to borrow so this rule seems very sane to me.

The short sale rules have been really relaxed over the last few years and this is just move back to how the rules used to be on 19 out of the thousands of stocks out there. No renewal of the uptick rule. If the US government really wanted to "prevent all but a 'select few' financial institutions from profiting by shorting" there are a lot better ways to do it than this rule.

Hey, but just because you are paranoid doesn't mean "they" aren't out to get you!

"These guys get all the money, everyone else has to give up all their wealth."

This would save a lot of complicated game-playing and cut to the chase.

I don't think those with all the money really want their names published. Get a hunter to describe the term "fair chase" to you. If their names are published, its not "fair chase" any more.

The fact remains that it is a Selective Enforcement of Regulation
and clearly designed to aid and abet the 'Market Makers' which IMO is a regulatory aid to the further concentration of wealth that is already going on.

ET you still do not understand. The rule applies to everyone! The 19 financials are those who no one can short without possessing the stock, or borrowing the stock. The bitch is that the rule should apply to all the thousands of equities traded, not just 19. And that is a legitimate bitch.

The rule cannot favor any "Market Makers" because the rule applies to everyone! But I already said that didn't I. I just hope you finally understand it now.

Ron Patterson

Darwinian, the rule SHOULD have applied to everyone, but enforcement has been, ahem, "lax," and now that it's hit the fan the regulators are acting hysterical in an attempt to divert blame for their own cronyism. They protesteth too much!

No, you are distorting what was done.

First off, the SEC Restricts Shorting 19 Financial Stocks as an initial act. The 19 stocks included every corporation that could borrow from the Fed's dealer window plus Fannie and Freddie.

Then, as a followup to that, the SEC Issues Order To Protect Those Most Responsible For Naked Shorting!! This was an amendment to the first restriction on naked shorting.

This second action specifically did the following:

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)--An emergency order issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission to impose new restrictions on short sales in 19 stocks will not apply to bona fide market makers, the SEC announced Friday.

The SEC amended the order at the recommendation of its staff to shield market makers from the new restrictions, which will take effect on Monday and could last for up to 30 days. It said the change was made to allow market makers "to facilitate customer orders in a fast-moving market without possible delays" that might come from complying with the emergency order "and to prevent substantial disruption to securities markets."

The SEC said the exemption covers registered market makers, block positioners and other market makers that sell short as part of their bona fide market making and hedging activities in the affected shares, as well as standardized options on the shares and exchange-traded funds that include the affected shares.

This list is nearly identical with the first list. What this means is that these companies can continue to "naked short" because they have been designated "market makers" but no one else is allowed to naked short.

Free market? Hahahahahahahaha. What a f#%#$#^ lie.

Thus, as I have just demonstrated, your assertions are wrong and ET's comment, which you claimed was distortion, is actually the correct one! I think you owe ET an apology.

This makes absolutely NO sense at all. Those exempted from the short sale rule are those who's stock cannot be shorted unless the shorter holds the stock. These are the companies who's stock has been driven into the ground because of massive shorting of their stock. Yet they, and no other, are allowed to short their own stock and others who are in the same boat. This is just dumb!

There is a gross mistake here somewhere and I suspect the one making the mistake is Mish. I await further clarification of this matter, from some other source. From the L.A. Times.


SEC Chairman Christopher Cox today surprised Wall Street with a plan to curb short selling in major financial company shares. In his initial comments he mentioned Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as two stocks that would get protection under the plan, but a list the SEC released late in the day also included 17 other big financial firms, including Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Lehman Bros. and Credit Suisse Group.

EDIT: I found it! ET was simply mistaken about the 19 equities on the list (or 17 without Freddy and Fanny), being exempt from shorting their own stock, and stocks of the others on the list. The list was amended but not in the way ET presented it.

The Wall Street Journal

The emergency order says traders need to lock up, or pre-borrow, stock for future delivery before they execute a short sale, or bet the stock will drop. The SEC says that will "eliminate any possibility" that the markets will be disrupted by naked short selling, which occurs when the trader never borrows the stock and then "fails to deliver" it to the buyer within three trading days.

On Friday, the SEC said market makers wouldn't have to pre-borrow the stock, but they would still need to deliver it within three days.

The Market Maker can short the stock provided they deliver the borrowed stock within three days. That was the amendment. Another explanation can be found here: SEC amends emergency short sale rule

Facing complaints from financial industry groups and exchanges, the Securities and Exchange Commission said on Friday it was granting certain market makers relief to help maintain order and liquidity in the markets.

The market makers affected would not have to pre-borrow shares before shorting the stocks, the SEC said.

Mish says:

Anyone in the above list can continue to naked short with full approval from the SEC. No one else can.

I have not found a list of those "market makers" and Mish provides no link. However I seriously doubt that the "market makers" are the same ones on the list "no short sale without stock" list. That would make no sense at all. But the important point is that anyone who shorts the stock must pre-borrow the stock except those on the list. They have 3 days to deliver the stock. That is the only change. And that is no big deal.

Ron Patterson

this is a bit above my 2 yrs. of intro to the stock market & i will be researching later tonite ; however,

is the SKF[ultra short financials ] stocks doomed at this point?

SKF has gone down a lot ,but this rally i believe will be relatively short.thanks.

to add to my previous comment:
i didn't see ron's post prior to posting mine.

it sounds like the SEC is mostly trying to use threat of enforcement to help the financials; along with slight advantage re ron's conclusion;

"But the important point is that anyone who shorts the stock must pre-borrow the stock except those on the list. They have 3 days to deliver the stock. That is the only change. And that is no big deal."

And Florida is emphatic about enforcing it’s laws against felons voting…The irony.

I have been lurking on TOD for a couple of years now. I am a Ph.D. trained ecologist and like many of my colleagues I have been warning of the huge issues faced by humanity in the 21st century. However, it has only been in the last few years that I have become aware of peak oil's looming shadow--I too readily believed the IEA, EIA, USGS and OPEC numbers. So although I knew fossil fuel recources would deplete this century, as of just a few years ago I felt we had a couple of decades to deal with the issue.

As that as a background I find this particular article noteworthy because it illuminates a simple fact missed or glossed over by many scientists.

In the article professor Shahbaz Khan states, ''Climate change is one of a number of stresses we're facing, but it's overshadowed by global population growth and the amount of water, land and energy needed to grow food to meet the projected increase in population. We are facing a world population crisis.''

While this statement is true--and vitally important this it is stated--I believe it misses a truth which is slightly more subtle. That is that climate change (I prefer to use the term biospheric entropy to encapsulate all anthropogenically induced environmental issues)and resource depletion, of which fossil fuels are the most pressing to individuals on this forum, are all signs and symptoms of a disease--human population growth. Thus resource depletion is not an isolated problem that can be solved independently, biospheric entropy is not an unrelated independent issue, both are fundamentally the result of overpopulation and overconsumption.

I think we scientists and informed individuals would be well served by framing the issues faced by humanity not as separate, independent and unrelated events but as outcomes of the underlying problem, our population is too large and we are consuming too many resources. I believe in this context solutions are more easily envisaged, the problems not seemingly so random, although the ultimate solutions much more controversial.

Tom Sawicki

Dr Sawicki, I believe your head and your heart are in the right place but any effort to inform humanity that there are waaay too many humans on this planet is not going to work out well. If only it were that easy.

I suspect that humans are not smarter than yeast (hat tip Bob Shaw) and that we will become simply one more species that is extinct. Of course there could be a black swan event that would delay extinction. Perhaps a new virus, a nuclear war, a big rock from space, that would leave some pockets of humanity to struggle on. Otherwise, to quote the Magambo Guru, we are all freakin' doomed! Have a nice day. :)

and...Welcome to TOD.

A little upthread:

Then there is the snarky response heard here before: these are not problems, because problems have solutions.

It occurs to me that not all problems have solutions in the frame they are presented. The circle can never be squared (in a three-dimensional world) with a ruler and compass. Population control can never be achieved by a species whose basic biological instruction is to "go forth and multiply."

We need a new paradigm, a new frame. Appeals to logic or "humanity" or "the environment" won't do it. And if it is to be sold to the masses who believe that water can be split into hydrogen to power cars (as in my local paper yesterday) http://www.dailyastorian.com/main.asp?SectionID=2&SubSectionID=398&Artic... , then we had better find some better way of explaining it than to talk of "biospheric entropy". Most folks seem to have a basic problem with the idea of the conservation of energy, let alone entropy.

I agree that integration is key to framing these issues, but to focus on "resource depletion" is a bit off target, IMHO. One of the major concepts of "peak oil" is that flow rates matter much more than stocks. Oil, water, food- we are becoming a global "just in time" society with grave consequences should disruptions come in the way of a much needed delivery.

I somewhat agree that someday, like almost all critters, humans will become extinct, but that realization is not particularly helpful in the near/mid term. The planet will help humans adjust their own consumptive flow rates- some of those deliveries will fail. The question is whether or not we can live with ourselves when this plays out in a grossly unequal fashion.

although the ultimate solutions much more controversial.

Great first post. And welcome to TOD. I think you get to win the Understatement of the Year Award.

I agree with you completely about the population issue. The current debate about ANWR shows what will happen as humans must choose between poverty or ecological destruction (even if it means greater poverty in the future).

I have a few questions on this topic for those with formal training in ecology and evolutionary theory: Won't humanity evolve around any voluntary limitations on population growth? Unless having fewer children is in some way "fitter" than having more children, isn't such an effort doomed to fail?

Up until now, we have relied on the fact that wealth seems to cause a lower fertility rate. And so no methods were needed to artificially adjust the fitness choices. We could just set the policy of getting every person wealthy. No disagreements from anyone.

Except those who realized it was never going to be possible to make everyone rich. Now we face peak oil and climate change and other limits which threaten to push the few wealthy countries back into high fertility poverty.

So what kinds of policies could be enacted that would be not be defeated by evolution in a generation or two and yet could be effective while the world slips into poverty? It is an honest question. I think about it quite a bit, but have no answers.

More and more I feel it is not a question of Are We Smarter than Yeast, but instead a realization of humility. That we are caught in a great river of energy flows and fitness equations which govern our behavior, and from which we cannot really escape. Any more than we can escape the fixed Newtonian orbit of our planet around the sun.

I know Dmitri Orlov has written extensively about Russia's post-Cold War collapse. Any idea why Russia's population crashed in their economic collapse instead of going to high fertility mode? Not that it's a desirable outcome, but it's something to study.

I haven't read up on the Soviet collapse but I intend to.However from what I have heard,a large number of people were going hungry and cold.Not a good scenario for the survival of infants,elderly folk or those with pre-existing health problems.I would guess that there was wide spread alcohol abuse amid a feeling of hopelessness.That would affect the birth rate.
However,to be callous,the reduction in population doesn't seem to have affected the viability of the nation.If anything,it may have enhanced it.
In the face of the urgent necessity to reduce the global population I hope that all nations can achieve that without the cruelty of starvation,disease and war.
I'm an optimist by nature but I won't be holding my breath waiting for that outcome.

You'll want to include this in your read about Russia. And if you really want to know even more, you can find this at libraries or used/new book stores.

Possible answers/outcomes:

Soylent Green?

Logan's Run?

Planet of the Apes?

There are always solutions...maybe not preferable to us, but there will be solutions!

And 95% of people will drown in de Nile in the end. Look at all the fools rejoicing now that oil has fallen a whopping 10 bucks a barrel...no one remembers what the price was in Jan 2001? Most of us have very short and very selective memories. Oh, ANWR, Jack 2 , Brazil, the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts, and the magic pink unicorns in Antarctica will bless us with untold, untapped riches of black gold replenished by elves abiotically forever and ever amen.

...are all signs and symptoms of a disease--human population growth.

...both are fundamentally the result of overpopulation and overconsumption.

I generally agree with you but I think that the above two quotes do not support each other. In other words, I think that population and overconsumption are two different things. You can have high population with low consumption or low population with high consumption. I think the problem is that we are trying to have high population with high consumption.

For a brief example, just using grain consumption. If the world consumed grain at the rate of Americans, there would be enough for 2.5 billion people. At the rate of Indians, there would be enough for 10 billion people (From Plan B 3.0). This is a simplistic example, and there are a lot of other factors, but I think the relationship holds. The number of people who can inhabit the earth for the long term depends on how much each consumes.

Feeding corn to cows and cars means less people can live on the planet without destroying it for everyone else.

Once you hit the carrying capacity, the only way you can have continuing population growth is with declining consumption to offset the increased population. Growth is the problem. You can paper over it for a while with declining consumption, but you'll still eventually come up against the limits to growth. Just because we might some day have the technology and policies that allow us to stack people like cordwood and shove a feeding tube in their mouths doesn't mean we should do it.

It is far more important to me to see a rising standard of living than rising population. To get that rising standard of living, we probably need to steadily reduce the number of people on the planet. Assuming we can do that through natural processes, it leads to a far more desirable future than a Soylent Green like world you get from ever-increasing population.

Sooner or later, and one way or another, human population will be limited. Why not limit it now, voluntarily, when we still have something of a world left to live on?


Our species and its related activities are now estimated to occupy nearly 40% of the earth's biomass. The damage we cause to ecosystems is extensive and many of these local and regional ecosystems are needed by us to live. You cannot measure our population limit solely by how many mouths we can feed. You have to consider what footprint we ought to have that still allows a high degree of biodiversity. That footprint should be as small as we can make it and you are correct in noting that such a footprint can support varying population levels at different consumption levels. But the problem is quite a bit more complex than just number of human mouths to feed.

While travelling I am often amazed how much empty space there is, living as I do in London where you can walk out the door and almost always see someone within half a minute or so...

If the world is a petri dish it's a very big one. Now for the first time in history more people live in cities -and I suspect the reason is that people LIKE living in cities otherwise they would not have expanded their numbers both in absolute and % terms.

Population growth is slowing and I believe the World is awash with resources and energy, so far we have just taken the easy option. It will be interesting to see if we can maintain the present setup if we are forced to move to less intense and concentrated sources of energy and resources.


While travelling I am often amazed how much empty space there is...I believe the World is awash with resources and energy...

I travel from Los Angeles (population over 6 million) to Las Vegas (population 1.85 million) and there are huge swaths of land that are vacant of people. Those lands however cannot support humans or agriculture having such few resources that "...even the birds are loathe to fly over..."

The disconnect for a lot of people is failing to make the connection that these thriving metropolises require millions of acres of productive agricultural land and they import almost all of their water from hundreds of miles away.

When I hear comments that indicate that we are "awash in resources" I have to shake my head. We are at "LImits to Growth" now. Although the rise in the cost of fish and chips is uncomfortable it is far from painful. However there are populations who are crashing right now due to resource depletion. Maybe they should eat cake!

Thank you for your input and a broadening of the “total” concept as compared to only peak oil we have been generally dealing with here.

I am a doomer. I don’t believe there is one chance in a hundred that anything will miraculously save the general population of the world from mass starvation, mass annihilation in resource wars or some other incomprehensible unknown (think 1917-18 type flu). The coming times will eliminate all the causes and symptoms mentioned above.

Even yeast have a few left over to repopulate the environment but there will be no basis for a oil rich industrial revolution. Just think, a world without so much plastic.

Unfortunately, your comment "Just think, a world without so much plastic." is in error.

According to this article “Except for the small amount that’s been incinerated—and it’s a very small amount—every bit of plastic ever made still exists,”

Tom - There is one statistic which I picked up from Derrick Jensen in Endgame: Volume II:

At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution the total weight of humans and their livestock was less than 1% of the total weight of all vertabrae species. Today we are at 98%.

I have no idea how to test the validity of that statistic but here is a short video that brings this point home:


"You're now looking at [50-year-old] infrastructure that is in need of replacement," said Jatin Nathwani, the executive director of Waterloo University's Institute for Sustainable Energy. "These things may last 20 years, [or] they may only last two. You don't know, so there's a large unknown and uncertain gap growing in terms of understanding the integrity of that infrastructure."

Jeff Vail often comments on how our old high EROI fossil fuel subsidize our current lower EROI fuels. I think this article does a good job showing how the subsidy happens.

We may have passed peak net energy several years back, but did not realize it because we were coasting along on embodied energy in all that long lived infrastructure. Now that the bill to replace it is coming due, we may not be able to support growth and replacement.

I agree. I think this is something that's under the radar of many who think we can switch to nuclear powered electric cars or what have you. The energy it took to build our current infrastructure is almost incomprehensible. Building it while on the upside of the resource curve was much easier than trying to re-build/maintain it on the downside will be.

Here in the US, we have not had significant infrastructure built since, well, peak oil USA. Much of it was built from 1930-1970. And now we are dependent on it, which makes it much harder to repair or replace.

Much of it was built with a 30-50 year expected lifespan. No one imagined back then that we wouldn't have the resources to replace it with newer and better when the time came.

This observation is profound. It means that everything we build we should build to last, because we can't really say whether there will be an option to rebuild it later.

This is of course the opposite of the NPV model that says that everything should be least-cost, as it can be replaced every few years as long as interest rates are low.

Yes. "An engineer is someone who can build for $1 what any schmuck can build for $2." Somehow, I doubt the ancient Romans thought that way.

This observation is profound. It means that everything we build we should build to last, because we can't really say whether there will be an option to rebuild it later.

This is perhaps why I don't see the demise of plastics as necessarily a bad thing. Our first VCR lasted 20years, the ones you buy not only make it 2years if your lucky.


I disagree, that is exactly how the Roman engineers thought. The Greeks built buildings entirely out of stone which took time, careful thought and a lot of marble. The Romans used cheaper brick and faced things with marble. Cheaper, faster, less robust design. You can see this everywhere in Rome today. Many of the original Marble and limestone columns are still around but much of the brick didn't last.

Well, you do see a lot of brick remains in Rome. All of the marble got stripped off and the underlying buildings damaged in the process.

What happened to the marble palaces of Rome?

It got 'recycled'--stripped off and burnt to make lime even though this was frequently forbidden by the authorities who wished to preserve Rome's ancient grandeur.

In fact, this was Rome's principal industry for well over 1000 years after the fall of the West.

The engineers who built this clearly intended it to last:


Talk about EROI! That structure is still generating revenue for the local economy. The article says it is one of the top 5 tourist attractions in France. 2000 years later!

I think this is an outcome of the Maximum Power Principal. When energy is scarce, societies can make the most of it by spending it on things that last. Then the energy stays in the economy a long time.

For societies with lots of nearly free energy, the way to maximize is to burn it directly as fast as possible. Building to last means going slow, and going slow limits the energy usage.

I think that is why you end up with counter intuitive events happening: We have energy to spare and could easily build everything to last 2000 years, but instead we build stuff out of petrochemical Styrofoam. The Romans had very little energy but they built much longer lived infrastructure. (This is just wild conjecture on my part. It could be many other factors.)

Reminds me of the Brooklyn bridge. Way way over engineered.

Weren't many of the four storey buildings in places like Florence built hundreds of years ago? How were they built?

That infrastructure was built with high-EROI human as well as petro energy: Slave, coolie, and convict labor opened up the West.

Interesting way to put it. I posted downthread about lax environmental and worker safety as another subsidy on infrastructure construction.

"The energy it took to build our current infrastructure is almost incomprehensible"

Very true.

And the maintenance/replacement costs can vary enormously for different types of infrastructure.

Railroad equipment is interesting because it often has the date of manufacture stamped into the metal. The standard track gauge in NA has been constant for over a century and I have often found railroad switches, bridges, tracks, etc that have been in service since the early 1900's.

Canals and hydro dams also seem to have functional lives lasting well over 100 years.

I suspect that we could build long-service nuclear plants based on Thorium if we applied the necessary resources. Cheap energy has created a "throwaway" philosophy of design which we can't afford any more.

keep in mind with radioactive elements. the longer the half-life, the less power it will put out compared to a shorter half-life element.

Thorium is not intended to be used as a radioactive source, but rather as reactor fuel. A reactor allows neutrons generated from (rare) sponatneous fission events, to be absorbed by other nuclei, and cause more fission events. This cranks up the rate of reacion to any rate deemed appropriate. The concept of halflife doesn't apply to that circumstance.

I'd also add much of this infrastructure was built with the additional subsidy of lax environmental and worker safety standards. Those are good things, but with rising poverty will come an inevitable lowering of standards.

The markets are bearish on oil for now, WTI down to $127 , $5 in a few hours. Obviously Dolly is not seen as a hazard.

Meanwhile, depletion marches on.

During George Bush's first four term, worldwide we used about 10% of all crude oil ever consumed. Based on Deffeyes' HL model, in Bush' second four term term we will have used about 10% of all remaining conventional crude oil reserves.

For the top five net oil exporters, my guess (based on our middle case) is that from 2006 to 2009 inclusive, we will have consumed at least one-fourth of the remaining cumulative combined net oil exports from Saudi Arabia, Russia, Norway, Iran and the UAE, (although I need to get a better estimate from Khebab).

On the other hand, for the folks in the NIFF (Near Infinite Fossil Fuel) Party (which consists of both liberals and conservatives), a trader on CNBC this morning said that every dip in financial stocks was a buying opportunity, and he said that the increase in defaults at American Express and the decline in credit card spending even by their top spenders was a strong buy signal.

As Denninger pointed out on 'Market Ticker' recently: 'The financials are not worth shorting now. They are too close to zero and the chances of getting caught in a short squeeze are too great. There are lots of other stocks out there that are currently flying high that offer much better opportunities for shorting.'

I agree with Denninger. The stock market, as long as I have been following it, has seldom acted in a rational manner compared to the remainder of the economy.

Anyone seeing weak credit card use by high rolling card holders and calling it a 'buy signal' is delusional or a cheerleader.

I got out of stocks because I believe that a DJ bottom of 7,000 is not out of the question. I also believe that what we are seeing now, especially in financials, is a dead cat bounce in a very, very strong bear market. As soon as the herd figures out that the banks reported stronger than expected earnings by moving more garbage into level 2 and 3, and extending what is considered a 'delinquent loan' from near infinity to near absolute infinity, the crack up boom will continue.

get popcorn, roll film...

The you are clearly a Communist sympathizer. All true, red blooded Americans should head Larry Kudlow's call (circa January, 2008) to go out and: SELL OIL! BUY FINANCIALS!

Kudlow is the best contrarian indicator there is. A complete idiot.

If Kudlow took his own advice he better have some deeeeep pockets. :)

Kudlow’s salary from his employers should be determined by the accuracy of his advice. He might be wearing a barrel by the end of the year.


actually, i did pretty well in the last few weeks doing just that, but to take my profit i had to sell financials as well.

havent taken any profit yet on selling oil. waiting for the real story to come out about bakken. (short bexp).

The play is to short the indexes.

The August contract also expires today. Another bearish factor is that China has removed the equivalent of around 2 million cars from the roads for the Olympics.

Looks like we need a new Poll

Oil dropped below $126 today http://nymexdatardc.cme.com/

How do you like those DEC 2010 contracts @ 128.30?

The markets are bearish on oil for now, WTI down to $127 , $5 in a few hours.

A lot of system-trading speculators got a signal to short today.

But commercial buying has also been weak. Probably another inventory build coming, especially in diesel.

No Hurricane Dolly? No crash? How sad. And oil price dumping? You mean the run-up in oil prices might not be sustained? You mean people cut back on consumption?

She's officially Hurricane Dolly as of 4pm CDT.

Dolly seems to be tracking towards the Texas-Mexico border as before. The intensity is much greater than was previously predicted. The Corpus Christi refineries are within the region of a hurricane warning. There were a few offshore operations at the southern end of the gulf. It is not a major threat to oil or natural gas production unless it swerves to the north.

If the Russians cannot respect BP's interests in BP-TNK Russian ventures, foreign interest in investing in Russian business ventures might diminish.

If the United States is reducing consumption of oil, how much more were nations with less wealth reducing consumption of oil?

There is an argument that 301 million Americans consume more of the planet's resources than the bottom 50% of the world's population.

Without a doubt the present high income societies like the US and Europe that consumed much of the world's resources in the 19th and 20th century for their modernization, polluted the earth, including being responsible for much of the greenhouse gases, need to be made to pay for the clean up.

The problem is, is that enough without a major population decline worldwide?

It is undeniable that the entire world is aspiring to American or higher levels of consumption, which is inherently unsustainable.

So how about a steep "consumption tax" on people (regard of place) that consume disproportionate amounts of resources --- regardless of where they live, they ought to pay this tax every time they build another mansion, travel, eat, etc.

Even better, lets tax medical and other services that extend life beyond a certain point beyond someone's productive years and get us the wonder of people who consume 90% of their lifetime medical expenditures in the last year of their life. Let's also tax medical services that result in huge disproportionate consumption - like for keeping a brain dead individual connected to a ventilator, or vast sums spent on disabled, including those wounded in combat, that would have been better off to be allowed to die quickly on the battlefield.

Let's have a open, candid discussion about how wealthy societies waste (read consume) to keep the grim reaper away!

Population growth will have to at least, stabilize, and then perhaps decline to a level that this planet can support on a sustainable basis (with a decent safety margin).

Living standards at the high end have to come down, and standards for the remaining population have to come up while overall population drops.

How about a global "cap" on the maximum number of children per woman? Let's start with a cap of 2 per woman and then for the 3rd, the rights are "tradeable" from women who elect to have less than 2. Let's heavily tax (read raise the price) of the right to have a child in a high income society (which consumes much more) and have a progressively lower tax for lower income societies.

The cap can be intelligently set for each income group, with the highest income group having the lowest cap(2.x per child or replacement), and for other income groups, consistent with what is necessary to achieve zero population growth.

Incentives can be offered to those at the bottom of the global income scale in the form of pensions for those who elect and can be proved to have zero children. The pensions will be paid for by a tax on the top 20% of the global high income group.

Mind you, for this to really work, it would have to be based on a global "consumption standard" because the wealthy in a poverty ridden society can often live much better than the middle class of the richest societies!

In terms of stick policies, countries that elect to go above the cap would then be denied the benefits of things like trade, immigration, markets, or even the right to travel outside. If they want to become their local Rwanda or Easter Island that exhausts their resources, don't expect their neighbors to deal with their refugees.

Indeed, from this perspective, the present international system for settling and helping refugees need to be replaced with another where, hard nosed as it sounds, those who degrade their environment have no right to resettlement. They will have to die, in situ, like what happened to Easter Island. There will be no savior from afar.

At the same time, measures that reduce the mortality rate (without a commensurate decline in birth rate) need to be rethought as a "god given right" and only be introduced into a new population if there are ways to reduce overall population growth.

It is gospel that if, e.g. a vaccine that reduces death from x cause were a good thing, it would be "bad" to not have programs that spread it regardless on its consequences on demographics.

Finally, some religions / cults that promote high birth rates, none need to be specifically mentioned, but ones where it resulted in massive overpopulation and emigration like the Philippines, or cults that require polygamy to reach the highest level, or places where abject poverty and or vast youth unemployment is combined with exceptionally high birth rates ---- read much of sub-Saharan Africa, and places like Egypt, etc.need to be dealt with --- either the religious leaders decide to do an about face and reinterpret their religion to become sustainable, or else.

Well, this comment ought to get all the anti forces out.... lets hear it!

I think falls in the "solution outside the frame" category. People just don't want to think about it. Heck, I don't want to think about it, even though to a truly dispassionate observer, it's probably obvious.

Jared Diamond sort of tiptoed around it in Collapse. He noted that a "grassroots" approach could create and maintain a sustainable society...if the society is very small. For a large society, strong central control is needed to avoid the Tragedy of the Commons.

In our case, it would have to be global, because things people do on one side of the world can affect people on the other. We'd need an iron-fisted, authoritarian global government. I think a lot of Americans would rather perish like yeast in an overcrowded petri dish. Or at least, that would be their first reaction to the idea.

I'm reminded of the Newbery Medal-winning children's book, The Giver, by Lois Lowry. Lowry presents a post-apocalyptic world where a central government strictly controls the population. Each family lives in a nice house, and has one boy, and one girl (bred by the government and assigned to couples to raise). Anyone who doesn't measure up - babies who don't meet certain milestones, adults who fail at their jobs (also assigned by the government) is humanely killed. She meant it to be seductive, yet horrifying, and it is. I imagine it might be even more seductive if the alternative is catabolic collapse that lays waste the earth.

D111, Leanan is correct. All the things you suggest would require a one government world with a ruler who has dictatorial powers. You and I can sit around and propose "solutions" until the cows come home and at the end of the day all those solutions will not be worth a bucket of warm spit because there would be no way of implementing those solutions.

The world moves to the will of 6.6 billion people. And all those people are of different minds and move in different directions. Those who believe they can influence the minds of more than a tiny fraction of those 6.6 billion people truly have visions of grandeur. So just watch what is happening and abandon any delusions of changing the world.

The one thing you can do is to take what action you deem necessary in order to increase your chances of being among the survivors.

Ron Patterson

Typically humans, when faced with a shortage, have three options:

1. Everyone makes a sacrifice, and all survive.
2. Nobody makes a sacrifice, and many perish.
3. Kill those who want you to sacrifice, and thus have plenty.

People tend to choose option 3. There are still people who choose 1 and 2, however.

It doesn't matter if you choose option 1 or 2. If somebody else chooses option 3, you're f**ked.

Not necessarily true. I'm willing to try other options, but if someone shows up with option 3 on their mind, I'll be prepared. Until recently I never owned a gun. My wife and I discussed the matter of defending ourselves given the deteriorating situation, and we purchased a Mossberg 12-gauge pump shotgun with a short barrel and a short stock. First round is birdshot, the next rounds are all buckshot. We've been practicing in the woods and feel pretty comfortable with the weapon. Times are changing, and this is one change in our life we both agreed was necessary.

I thought about that, it works until somebody comes around with a bigger gun.

What then?

Then you do your best. Would you rather "die with your boots on" or begging on your knees?

Then you die. But the same could be said of germs and hurricanes. You defend yourself from what you can, and don't let the perfect become the enemy of the good. Too much learned helplessness goin' around!

I thought about that too. The only ones with "bigger guns" around here are the U.S. military and the National Guard. I'm not worried about either of them, they are far too few in number. Take a look at Katrina. Besides, the National Guard is made up to good extent of my neighbors, and if anything they will rally to protect our community.

I'm not even too worried about private security forces - they just don't exist around where I live. One thing I'm pretty sure about is that there are others in my neighborhood who have arms that would not stand for any outsiders trying to take anything or anybody by force (police obviously excepted).

liferaft, it looks like your personal info needs updating. Do you have an updated email address?

I updated my profile, email is liferaftx@yahoo.com

We'd need an iron-fisted, authoritarian global government. I think a lot of Americans would rather perish like yeast in an overcrowded petri dish.

People tend to choose option 3. There are still people who choose 1 and 2, however.

Who would want to live under an iron-fisted autoritarian goverment? I don't see a huge migration to Russia on this forum, so the west must have something good.

On the old or terminal:
I have no problem allowing old people the right to die with dignity at home instead of waiting for the reaper in a hospital for 10 years with tubes stuck down your throat. All good ideas have to start somewhere and this is a good one for alot of reasons. Let the patient decide if he/she wants an OD of morphine. I think most of us would be pretty grateful for this option.

For soldiers, the wounded deserve every possible chance at life. Society OWES them, not the other way around. Systematically letting men die on the battlefield will lead to no military honor and then you're on your own. Wonder if any Marines would volenteer to protect Frisco if the invaded just the city, not very likely. "Let's just let the locals bleed for a while"

I think we're hardwired for #3. I don't see anyone volentarily giving up any thing (#1) as long as sacrifice is unequal. To give up your share when someone else is taking 3X theirs is foolish and pointless. Small groups may be able to accomplish #1 due to shame, but large groups never. Adding chorine to the gene pool is the job of the four horsemen, mother nature and lady luck will decide as they always have. I feel better about my chances with them than some all powerful bureaucrat/dictator.

They can have Frisco, TX. But what would we do without San Francisco to keep us smiling?


Adding chorine to the gene pool is the job of the four horsemen, mother nature and lady luck will decide as they always have. I feel better about my chances with them than some all powerful bureaucrat/dictator.

Well someone is planning on a LOT of somebody dying. Did any of you see this news piece on about 1/2 million plastic coffins being made and stored in Georgia?

Amazing. As I said, on the surface it seems someone is getting ready in case they need a million or so coffins in a hurry.

Half a Million Plastic Coffins?

Yep, these are cheap plastic coffins. Hundreds of thousands of them. Don’t believe it?
Why coffins? Why in the middle of Georgia?

Well, apparently the Government is expecting a half million people to die relatively soon, and the Atlanta Airport is a major airline traffic hub, probably the biggest in the country, which means Georgia is a prime base to conduct military operations and coordination.

It is also the home of the CDC, the Center for Disease Control. I don’t want to alarm anyone, but usually you don’t buy 500,000 plastic coffins “just in case something happens,” you buy them because you know something is going to happen.

These air tight seal containers would be perfect to bury victims of plague or biological warfare in, wouldn’t they?


Thanks for the link, I hadn't seen this.

Wonder if the local mil surplus shop has gas masks?

There is also this...from Investors Hub...

Unprecedented Demand Cleans Out Major Storable Food Supplier Through 2009

Learn How to Pack Your Own

July 21, 2008
By Holly Deyo

It came to our attention today, that the world's largest producer of storable foods, Mountain House, is currently out of stock of ALL #10 cans of freeze dried foods, not just the Turkey Tetrazzini. They will NOT have product now through 2009.

This information was learned by a Mountain House dealer who shared it with me this morning. In personally talking with the company immediately after, Mountain House verified the information is true. Customer service stated, "I'm surprised they don't have this posted on the website yet." She said they have such a backlog of orders, Mountain House will not be taking any #10 can food requests through the remainder of this year and all of the next.

Mountain House claims this situation is due to a backlog of orders, which may very well be true, but who is purchasing all of their food? This is a massive global corporation.

One idea: the military. Things are certainly ramping up with Iran and debates abound on news segments whether or not to implement a preemptive strike in conjunction with Israel.

This guess is further underscored by our experience at the Internet Grocer. In early June we placed an order with them for Red Feather Real Canned Butter. We brought this same canned butter back with us from Australia – at about half the price. Now it's looking good at any price. It took 6 weeks for the order to arrive due to a major buyout from "the feds". Here is Internet Grocer's posted message:

We're told that the feds bought the entire container of canned butter when it hit the California docks. (Something's up!) Butter arrived first week of June. Get your Butter order in NOW to have yours set aside. We're working to fill back-orders now.

If you dig further on the Internet Grocer site, you find that the military did indeed purchase a large quantity of Mountain House foods, too. Internet Grocer however, is out of the loop on the extent of Mountain House's backlog saying the delay will be 20 weeks, when it is now extended to 76 weeks.

These companies are not alone. People are finally awakened that time is running out. In late May, Fox News aired a live preparedness seminar and they warned people NOT to expect emergency supplies to be provided by the government and that they need to be self-sufficient. Will you be prepared?


1. Some Mountain House dealers may still have #10 cans available. You will need to locate them and contact them directly.... Search Online Dealers.

2. You might check with The Freeze Dry Guy at 866.404.3663 (FOOD) to see if he has supplies available.

3. Always a great option, buy your own bulk foods and pack them for long-term storage. It's easy and you'll have the knowledge at your fingertips whenever you want to set food aside. It eliminates having to depend on vendor, trucker and gouging grocers. You pack what you want to eat and in the quantity that works best for your family.


Eat your neighbors; well,
Their children's hell will slowly go by,
And feed on them your dreams
The one they pickled, the one you'll not buy.

Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh, and know you'll love them.

This is completely off topic, but I just got Sirius satellite radio in my car, and am really digging the 24/7 Dead channel. It's channel 32, and plays a good selection of live stuff. I highly suggest it.

Leanan -

This is a children's book? Sounds like a great cozy little bedtime story!

Any attempt at mass population control, particularly one aimed at a major reduction over a relatively short period time will surely be ugly.

If the goal is orderly major population control, then that would automatically require some form of totalitarian rule, such as in the case of China's small family policy. It cannot be done in anything resembling a free society.

Any attempt to rely on incentives, such as paying people not to have children, in addition to being marginally effective, would be inherently unfair, as the incentive would be much stronger on the poor rather than the wealthy, would could easily ignore it.

Then there is a mindset quite prominent among ultra-conservatives and fundamentalist Christians that it is Man's destiny to go forth and propagate and to subdue nature. I personally know of one individual who believes we don't have to worry about the earth getting too overcrowded because we'll be able to colonize outer space. (I also recall that Rush Limbaugh once 'disproved' the notion of global overcrowding by pointing out that the entire world's population, even if put in detached houses on small lots, could easily fit within the state of Texas!) So, this is the sort of thinking we'd be up against.

I fear that for many people the idea of population control is to control 'those people over there', but not 'us people over here'. The logical extension of this mindset is ethnic cleasning and outright genocide. And this is not just the lunatic fringe either. If I recall correctly, none other than that great humanitarian, Dr. Henry Kissinger, once said something to the effect that it should be the policy of the West to decrease the population of the Third World. Perhaps empty out Africa to provide lebensraum for Americans and Europeans?

Thus, I think that if we ever do embark on a massive population reduction, it will be done the old fashion way: war, genocide, and pestilence. Maybe all that bio-weapons research the US and others have been doing won't go to waste afer all. Use it or lose it .... right?

It seems we're missing the point of D111's market-based cap & trade system: it offers incentives for the voters of poor countries to sign up, thus making world dictatorship unnecessary. It's a form of wealth transfer. So then the problem is getting the wealthy to accept the incentives on their end. Heck, a lot of rich people can't be bothered to raise their own children anyway. They may want to have children for some bizarre status reason. Lately Hollywood celebrities seem to prefer adoption from really poor countries; maybe D111's idea needs to be expanded to take nation-to-nation child exportation into account. Then there won't be any remaining incentives for the rich to reproduce at all.

Then there won't be any remaining incentives for the rich to reproduce at all.

How silly. There is a long history of wealthy males being highly interested in bedding select females of whatever financial status. The history of behavior of wealthy females is mixed and confused by a complex history of social norms, but its really doubtful that interest in reproductive activity will simply die away.

Yes, wealth can be inherited, but the laws of inheritance of wealth are very different from those that apply to an interest in reproductive activity.

"There is a long history of wealthy males being highly interested in bedding select females of whatever financial status."

Yes, but these children are almost always "officially" the children of the lower class that their mothers belong to.

Well yes, their official class status is a mixed bag, but they all add to the problem of over population.

As much as I despise Kissinger, I suspect he's too comfortable with the status quo to imagine a new age of colonization. What people like that want is for the population of the 3rd World to not outstrip the meager rewards of the current system of Western domination. Fast growth could cause overshoot and the rise of revolutionary ideologies. Which eventually means revolutionary states with limitless pools of soldiery. His fear, in short, is an American Gulliver tied down by too many Lilliputians.

Fast growth could cause overshoot and the rise of revolutionary ideologies.

What do you mean "could"? I think the cats already out of the bag.

His fear, in short, is an American Gulliver tied down by too many Lilliputians.

Should be everyone in the west's fear, not just Americans. We're already hopelessly outnumbered if the ballon went up. Honestly though, I think they'll take Russia first, more resources and less people to worry about.

"Honestly though, I think they'll take Russia first, more resources and less people to worry about."

I disagree. I would come after America first. If you were trying to overrun a country, who would you want setting the rules of engagement against you: Obama or Putin.

Putin is a scary dude. I would rather mess with the Americans myself.

I disagree. I would come after America first. If you were trying to overrun a country, who would you want setting the rules of engagement against you: Obama or Putin.

Putin is a scary dude. I would rather mess with the Americans myself. <\blockquote>

You got a point Consumer, Putin, unlike our politicans actually cares about his country. Of course, he wouldn't bother to fight a PC war either. We couldn't hope for much in that situation, I don't think Obama has the nerve....too many
"present" votes.

Actually, Russia is one of those 3rd World countries (briefly, under Yeltsin) that overthrew its exploitation under Kissinger's drinking buddies. So indeed the cat is out of the bag. In Ken McLeod's science fiction books, a brutal American-run global surveillance state enforced by killer satellites collapses due to a virus written into the world's most popular PC operating system, and the subsequent dark age of near-feudalism is in turn overthrown by an anarchist movement of nanotechnology-wielding workers coming out of the relatively advanced factories of Russia and China. I find it quite entertaining.

This is actually a standard issue children's book. It is basically Brave New World Children's Edition, and may have sparked my life long love of dystopian novels. Next time you are at the bookstore or library, consider picking up a copy, it is a quick read.

As to the population, it seems to me that a political solution like the one mentioned has proverbial snowball's chance of working. Having a large, closely knit society has a lot of benefits beyond religious reasons. Whats more tightly knit than family? The human experience seems to be that the larger the society, the more safety. This is probably an impossible idea to purge from people's minds without a "tough love" solution.

In the past, when a society's resources ran out, they either expanded, or people die from resource starvation or fighting over the remaining resources. This time there is no more expanding to do, and the tough love that planet earth will give us isn't going to be pretty.

Dr. Henry Kissinger, once said something to the effect that it should be the policy of the West to decrease the population of the Third World. Perhaps empty out Africa to provide lebensraum for Americans and Europeans?

Wow! That's really stupid! How did he imagine he could get Americans to move to Africa? ;-)

I've often marveled that they managed to convince any white folks to move to Africa, but apparently they did. Who the hell would want to move from Holland to Africa?

Lots of people --- from colonialist in the 18th and 19th century, to modern day fortune seekers who have found the good life there.

The trouble is that a world government would be controlled by the Asians, since they have more than half the World's population. It would do what was best for them, like procuring what resources there were for China and India.

Weatherman,you are assuming that a large population gives some sort of advantage.That may have been the case 100 years ago before weapons of mass destruction.Now,a large population relative to resources is a major disadvantage because of the effort that has to go into feeding and housing.
China and India may be the flavour of the month with the Boosters Club but they have feet of clay.
It is anybody's guess who will win the coming resources wars.Once the H bombs come out of the bag,probably nobody.
Cormac McCarthy's "The Road",is looking increasingly prophetic.

"The Giver" was a great read, and easily accessible to young people.

What all the Grand Planners fail to realize is that it's already too late - Overshoot is here. China has already instituted the most important component - the one child rule - and it not only reduced the number of babies, it also cut back disproportionately on the number of female children.
But it was already too late twenty years ago. The people live too long - There's no way to get the existing demographic bulge through the system without some kind of dieoff.

You sound as if the reduction in the number of female children is a good thing. A society with a large excess of men is bound for trouble. Imagine if your country had vastly more men than women. Not pleasent for either sex.

personally it looks like to me, anything done before the collapse will most likely be confiscated by the government. in a frantic attempt to keep themselves in power.
like the gold seizure during the great depression.

Guys, I want to save my family. I don't want them to be a target of some silly food riot.

Which is the safest country to live in during this crisis?

1. Canada - Has plenty of Oil and Gas reserves, and will be self-sufficient for atleast a decade.
2. UK - Has smart leaders, strong public transportation, good rainfall, and food production can be ramped up quickly. Also, access to Europe becomes very easy.
3. Australia - Smart people, large area of fertile land where farms can be grown. Decent public transportation.

Please help. I can see a huge crash coming my way in a couple of years...

Stay where you are! :-)

The US grows more surplus food than those three combined.

From the countries listed, I suspect this person (and his family) are citizens of a commonwealth country (the commonwealth being the remnants of the old empire, over which the sun always shone...)

If he needs it to be a Commonwealth country, how does Belize look?

Yes, and with agribusiness that is totally dependent on oil and NG.

1. Canada: Cold - Got wood?

2. UK: No resources - got electricity?

3. Australia: Getting hotter - Got water?

UK: facing acute natural gas and electricity shortages within 5 years.

Austria: facing acute water shortages now

You could try New Zealand, not too crowded or polluted. Temperate (in parts), far enough away from major land masses to avoid the zombie hordes. Clueless government, but aren't they all?

Guys, I want to save my family.

Good for you.

I don't want them to be a target of some silly food riot.

The advice from a taoist would be to not own any food and therefore you can not be a target.

Which is the safest country to live in during this crisis?

A country implies a government. What governments will you be safe from? If you are planning on moving, how will you, the newcommer, be treated?

If 'things' get 'bad' - almost no where will be safe from your fellow man. The farther away from the mass of population and the less you seem to have should me the safer you are, but that is just a guess. Yet, the father you are means the less help you can call on if there is an actual preditory group of humans. So, no matter what path you choose, there will be risk.
(Examples of bad would be a future as imagined here:
http://europebusines.blogspot.com/2008/07/world-war-iii-nears.html )

It's not a country, but if one is looking for "freedom" from government, one could give "The Mesa" in New Mexico a shot:


A great place to raise a family!

You would really have to research individual regions in detail. I can just add a few general observations:

  1. Canada - Best area is Western Canada because of energy supplies, low population and substantial food production.
  2. UK - I spent a winter once in the north of England and it felt colder than anywhere that I have lived in Canada. Much more densly populated than NA and I don't believe that food production could be increased a whole lot. Maybe someone from the UK could comment about the "smart leaders".
  3. Australia - Sounds good, but there seems to be a long-term drought underway. My main concern would be population migration from Asia if conditions got severe.
  4. Overall, I think you should be should be looking at regions rather than countries. For example, North Dakota will have many of the same advantages/disadvantages as Saskatchewan; Montana will be similar to Alberta; the west coast from Northern California to BC and Alaska will likely face similar issues.

    There is a book written by Joel Gareau that describes the Nine Nations of North America. You maybe should decide what region you feel most comfortable with.

    One thing that doesn't get discussed very much is the long-term political realignments caused by reduced energy supplies. Maintaining coast-to-coast nations requires the ability of people to travel long distances without difficulty. Don't be surprised if less energy leads to much stronger regional alliances.

Maybe someone from the UK could comment about the "smart leaders".

My smart leader just made a speech to the Israeli parliament, in which he told them that the UK would do everything necessary, and take leadership in preventing the Iranians from developing their nuclear weapons program (that's the same program which the IAEA and the most recent American NIE, say doesn't exist).

He then went on to condemn the abhorrent threat of Ahmedinejad to wipe Israel off the map (a threat which he never made)

We are on the verge of a catastrophic natural gas shortage, and have incurred the justifiable hatred of the world's second-biggest exporter.

That's how smart my leader is.....

Regards Chris

Maybe not Australia...

Drought threatens drinking water for a million Australians

SYDNEY (AFP) - Up to a million people in Australia could face a shortage of drinking water if the country's drought continues, a report on the state of the nation's largest river system revealed Sunday.

The report said the situation was critical in the Murray-Darling system, which provides water to Australia's "food bowl", a vast expanse of land almost twice as big as France that runs down the continent's east coast.

"We are in real trouble in the Murray-Darling basin," Climate Change Minister Penny Wong told Channel Nine television.

The New Zealand suggestion is a good one.

I'd steer clear of the UK. They've got big fuel issues coming, and I question whether they can ramp up food production enough to feed 60 million people on that little island.

Oz and Canada both have potential, but they're big places and you want to choose wisely. I'm figuring you want a job in your field, so that makes it harder. Tasmania for instance, and Atlantic Canada seem like good geographic choices, but making a living either place is already an issue. Many of the Ozzie cities are already seeing big water issues. A smaller city (London, Guelph) in southern Ontario perhaps. I'm not familiar enough with BC to hazard a guess.

To all those potential emigrants - Stay where you are - you broke it,you mend it.

I've always considered that the US thought of Canada as their piggy bank - to be raided when needed. As such I'd suggest you want to put a minimum of 3000 miles between yourself and a fracturing states.

The UK has too many people in too little space. It also has a dumb energy policy and the hoards of europe on its doorstep.

Australia has apply resources for power and plenty of land. Water is a problem, but one that could be addressed if the politicians could be given a good slap.

New Zealand is best for food and population density, but their energy situation is poor.

Best bet I'd suggest is the Australasia region, but with a boat on hand in case things get hot.

Argentina is a good country to be. A lot of space, plenty of food and not many people.
Brazil, self sufficient in food and a lot of energy as well.

The Europeans are conquering "hordes" now? It's not like we're talking about Genghis Khan. These folks actually think most wars are a bad idea, unlike one country I know of, the one that refers to Europeans as "surrender monkeys".

This reminds me of a scene in the BBC miniseries "Fall of Eagles", in which two German generals in late 1918 bemoan the collapse of the Western Front. "Perhaps the Chancellor will defend Berlin by conscripting the 'army of homosexuals' he's always complaining about."

2. UK - Has smart leaders, strong public transportation, good rainfall, and food production can be ramped up quickly. Also, access to Europe becomes very easy.

That doesn't sound like the UK I live in, apart from access to Europe, which works both ways.

Ha Ha!

Before we even get to the 'smart leaders'.

Lets just consider the following:

1. UKPop is officially 'guestimated' to be 62m. Some actually think much higher at closer to 68-70 millions. Tesco think so, so do many in the Water and Sewage business. And I would sooner believe engineers who deal with sh1t, than politicians who spew sh1t.

2. We are only 50% food sustainable. Even in the Second World War with a population closer to 45 million we were not 100% food sustainable - even with rationing, central control and a massive expansion of garden and allotment farming.

3. In about 5 years time we fall off an energy cliff as nukes are demobilsed along with old coal powered stations that fail EU regulations.

4. The bulk of our industry is services. Once we traded staples for value added goods. Now we swap paper.

5. Oil and Gas is past peak

6. The native population is almost certainly going to come to blows with recent immigrants at a civil unrest level in most major cities in the next 5 years: The lid was held down in the last 15 years of illusionary 'prosperity'. Watch the lid blow off when mass unemployment hits the UK. When it kicks off, dont be anywhere close to a major conurbation.

I could go on :-)

As for smart leaders , see points 1-6. This lot have squandered the last, vital, 10 years.

If you MUST come to the UK then Scotland is your best bet

Yakutsk, Russia It's in Eastern Siberia at about the same latitude as Anchorage, Alaska, and sits on the Lena river Map Wikipedia page Yes, it's cold in the winters, but it's one of those places of future refuge from Gaia's Revenge Dr. Lovelock refers to. Russia and this region are resource rich. The Ruble will eventually become one of the strongest currencies, and the Russian language really isn't too hard to learn. And as in Alaska, the growing season may be short, but it can be very productive.

The grass is always greener on your neighbor's lawn.

Canada: cold and filled with people who don't remember how they coped with the cold before oil.

UK: leaders are smart but groupthink ridden and delusional. The land is overcrowded and infested with chavs.

Oz: Smart people. Land where lots of stuff can grow so long as the rain falls. Nobody knows where the rain will fall.

GWB has already picked out Paraguay...

Canada: too cold (I know; I live there)
UK: possibility of Gulf Stream reversal (ie, too cold)
Australia: too hot and dry (and getting drier)

What about New Zealand?
Or the Gulf Island of Canada's west coast (maritime warming influence)

Wait! I know this one! Um... Idaho?

Canada has plenty of oil and gas, but it it attempted to refuse the US access to it, Canada will end up being occupied real quick.

UK - they were not able to grow enough food during WWII with a much smaller population. What makes you think that has changed?

Australia - the killer is it is an extremely dry place. Lack of water limits how independent it can be.

3. Australia - Smart people,

I beg to differ. We have more deadsh*ts per hectare than any other country on earth. Even Rednecks in the US earn their keep, by and large.
Finishing Grad 10 or 12 does not mean someone is smart.

As for our land, most of Australia is arid and unsuitable for crops. Most of the farmed land is only useable because of the enormous quantities of fertilizer and pesticides used (as well as sucking the Murray-Darling dry).

A quick observation on Mexico's oil production. The decline of Cantarell production is faster than the overall production decline, meaning non-Cantarell production is actually increasing. In fact non-Cantarell production has grown almost 30% over the past 3.5 years. (1.4 to 1.8mbpd.) These fields alone are actually keeping ahead of internal consumption growth.

Is there an analysis that has been done on these other fields to indicate their expected future production, ie can we expect to see the overall decline in Mexico flatten out at around 2mbpd or even start to increase as Cantarell slips away and these other fields become increasingly significant? Or are they too expected to go into overall decline soon?

Pemex started saying around the middle of last year that the country had enough proven reserves for 9.x years of consumption at then current rates. Sorry, no links, (I read all about it down here in Mex. in Spanish) but the story was carried in the WSJ in the US, among others at the time. So based on that it would appear that Mexico's other fields will also be declining. They are pushing them like hell to make up for Cantarell, and Pemex has just announced that they will be reducing the amount of liquid fuel that is normally budgeted to the northwestern border area with the US.

I'll try to answer this, but I'm no expert on Mexican oil production.

My understanding is the bulk of Mexico's recent increases has come from the ramp of up the KMZ offshore fields. These new fields masked the decline of Cantarell for most of last year. Unfortunately KMZ is fully online now, so Cantarell's decline is once again showing through in the overall production figures.

The next step for Mexico after KMZ is deep water fields in their section of the gulf. Unfortunately they don't have the equipment, expertise, or money to do this. This is where the big arguments in the government about Pemmex reforms are coming from. If they allow Pemmex to become a more modern company/partner with IOCs then the deep water gulf fields might become accessible.

Even then, if US deep water gulf is any example, it won't make a significant dent in their overall decline.

Ford responds to peak oil with a highly efficient car:

Ford of Europe Introduces Fiesta ECOnetic; 63.6 mpg US

Ford of Europe introduced the Fiesta ECOnetic—the most fuel-efficient model in the European range—at the British International Motor Show in London.

Powered by a specially-calibrated version of the 90 PS (66 kW, 89 hp) 1.6-liter Duratorq TDCi, combined with coated Diesel Particulate Filter, the Fiesta ECOnetic offers fuel consumption of 3.7 L/100km (63.6 mpg US) with CO2 emissions of 98 g/km. Extra-urban highway fuel consumption is 3.2 L/100km (73.5 mpg US). The Fiesta ECOnetic accelerates from 0-100 kph in 12.3 seconds and has a top speed of 178 kph (111 mph).

Available this fall in Europe.....

We'll see this vehicle in the US when? I won’t hold my breath. If I was more cynical I’d believe that US manufacturers are trying to develop something different for the US market that is more costly with a higher profit margin to replace their cash cow SUV’s.

I'm in Germany right now and the streets are filled with small and presumably fuel efficient Fords and Opels. The Fords are made in Germany and Opel is wholly owned by GM. There are both models that are sold in the U.S. and models that are not sold in the U.S. at all or any longer.

I've asked before and probably end up asking again, why don't we have these models in the U.S.? I'm sure there are differences in efficiencies, emissions and safety regulations, not to mention changing the speedometer out, but these are minor modifications and I can't imagine that these things are going to stop the American car companies from using these designs. There must be something else, unless there is a technical barrier I don't know about, maybe it's a political one (they aren't allowed to export cars into the U.S. from Germany) or it's willful on the part of Ford and GM.

My own personal cynic tells me that marketing departments are running these companies, and that the marketing departments haven't yet decided that fuel efficiency can sell cars in the U.S. but power and roominess still command their undivided attention.

Hah! I was right:

Ford of Europe design chief Martin Smith explains. 'It used to be clear. I went to Detroit and gave a presentation about [the European design language] Kinetic Design. Peter Horbury [the U.S. design chief] gave one about Red, White and Bold [the U.S. language]. They were completely different.' But Smith says the demarcation is breaking down. Cars with one design theme will be sold in the other market.

The marketing department is running Ford!

In any case, at the time of that article was written (2007) they seemed to think the Fiesta was going to be sold in the U.S. again, following the European release by a few months. That's encouraging to read, it means maybe these guys weren't caught by the oil prices completely with their pants around their ankles.

Marketing is a profit center.

Can I get Freedom Fries with Red, White and Bold?

The only barrier I see to European cars is cost. How the heck can folks over there afford $30,000 for a small car? I don't know how much of that is VAT or other taxes, or inefficiency in the dealer chain.

I assume that GM and Ford use these designs in many 3rd World markets, and have or are planning some factories in those lands to build them. I noticed that Chinese Buick seems to be using Australian Holden designs, and is highly successful.

So maybe the game plan is to wait until Americans are so desperate for cheap cars that the normal protectionist pressures on Congress will fall away, and the floodgates will be opened to Chinese Fords and Buicks. I think this is a mistake. We should be preparing to only open the floodgates to Chinese electric cars, because this huge potential market would encourage Chinese companies to sell electrics to their own people while they have not yet rebuilt their lives around long commutes. In fact, our government should be negotiating with Beijing on how to make the transition in both countries without burning every coal brick in China.

"The only barrier I see to European cars is cost. How the heck can folks over there afford $30,000 for a small car?"

I assume the same way that people in this country could afford $30,000 for large cars. Of course, a lot of people couldn't afford them but bought them anyways.

super390 wrote:

The only barrier I see to European cars is cost. How the heck can folks over there afford $30,000 for a small car?

You are perhaps forgetting that the decline in the dollar means that what costs $30,000 today would have cost $20,000 a few years back. That said, I fondly remember my last new car, a 1970 Datsun 510, which cost me about $2300 cash. It got great gas mileage, since it had a 1600cc single overhead cam and a 4 speed...

E. Swanson

Yes, but ordinary Americans didn't get any pay raises while the dollar was losing 33% of its value. Combined with the inability to get good value trading in their old SUVs, and I don't see how they can swing a deal.


How the heck can folks over there afford $30,000 for a small car?


I don't have to afford the car, just the payments.

I was in Germany in 1989 getting out of the USAF. I had a BMW 525 I wanted to bring back. To do this I had to change out the front window glass, all 4 doors, and a few other minor things that I don't remember any more. I didn't bother.

The EPA, DOT and a number of other agencies have their hands in the import vehicle market. I'm sure some of it was encouraged by the big 3 so they had less competition.

Mid 2009. Well, kind of. Ford will be introducing the North American version of the 4th generation Fiesta, to be built in Mexico, for the 2010 model year, which probably means a June or July 2009 release. The U.S. model probably won't have the diesel engine available since most European diesels don't meet the stricter U.S. and California emissions standards but should have the same gas engine choices as do the European models. The car is expected to cost between $15,000 and $20,000 depending on the engine and trim level selected. The gas-engined versions of the car will get around 40 MPG.

I could live with $15,000. I got a new Focus a couple months ago,

$16,000 minus
$3,000 Texas state voucher for trading in an old Cadillac
$3,000 rebate

So I paid ten grand. I'm only driving on weekends, though, so the superior fuel economy and the diesel option of the Fiesta is not yet an issue. Doesn't sound like I could trade a 2008 Focus in for the 2009 Fiesta without throwing in some cash.

1. We have formed a TOD Readers Group on Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com

Linkedin is basically a networking site that allows folks to connect with people who are thinking about or working on similar things. If you'd like to be a part of the list, go to linkedin, login, and pull down the search box to groups and type in The Oil Drum or peak oil.

Other social media links: http://twitter.com/theoildrum and http://friendfeed.com/theoildrum.

Twitter is a mini-blogging site that allows folks to text. Friendfeed is a social media accumulator. Any further explanation would take a page. :)

2. Remember the social bookmarking sites (which can be accessed through the ShareThis button to reddit, digg, stumbleupon, etc.), they're simple (as long as you are logged in to the respective sites). Thanks for helping spread our work and efforts around. If you have a blog, or are a member of a messageboard, or play at a link farm like metafilter or anything else, the more you plant links to our stuff that you like, the more eyes it gets...it's that simple. Every little bit helps!

3. We really do need and appreciate your support. That and educating folks about the problems we face is what keeps us all going.

Thanks for hanging out, and thanks for making this all worth doing. I learn something here every day--and I apologize for these incessant reminders of things.

Re: Utility experts warn against burnout at 50

I guess those of us in the northeast will get to stress test our power systems later this year with the effects of $5.00 a gallon heating oil and if my local distribution system is any indication, it will go down in flames (literally). One winter when temperatures dipped below -25C, the line transformer outside our home exploded and we went without power for four or five hours as the utility tracked down a suitable replacement (our street operates at an embarrassing 2,200-volts whereas everyone else is served at 14.4 kV). At 07h30 yesterday morning, we lost power for 45 minutes and it it went out again earlier today for another couple minutes. This happens so often, I don't even bother to reset my clocks.


A Difficult Road Awaits For Energy Conservation

As usual for the WSJ, it's behind a paywall, but you can get in free via Google News.

The last time the country was clobbered, 1979-1983, Americans cut way back on driving, bought far fewer and smaller cars and dramatically reduced the use of oil. It's natural to assume that we can do it again.

But conserving our way out of this crunch won't be so easy. Here are five key reasons why.

They are:

1. The easy stuff is done.

2. We're bigger, busier and wealthier now.

3. And yet, globally, the U.S. matters less.

4. This time, it's supply and demand.

5. Recessions help.

"The easy stuff is done." This is key. Demand destruction gets continually more difficult. Geological depletion does not.

Demand destruction gets continually more difficult.

I remain unconvinced of this. As time passes better tech becomes available. See upthread for a new Ford vehicle (coming this fall in Europe) that will do 75 mpg on highways.

Say your personal project is to cut gasoline consumption by 1/3 just by switching vehicles. When would it be easier to do that? 1998 or 2008?

As time passes better tech becomes available.

Yeah, but declining marginal returns applies.

When would it be easier to do that? 1998 or 2008?

I think the point is when would it be easier, 1974 or 2008? That's what the article is about. In 1974, a lot of people were driving huge cars. Even poor people, because gas was so cheap. The tiny Japanese cars were just becoming available. But if you switched from a Chevy Bel-Air station wagon to a tiny little Honda Civic, you saw a big drop in gas consumption.

Now, if you switched from a regular Honda Civic to a hybrid Civic, or a Prius, your gains would be much smaller (and the cost much larger).

There is an error here in the comparisons:

But if you switched from a Chevy Bel-Air station wagon to a tiny little Honda Civic, you saw a big drop in gas consumption.

Note in this example we are moving from a very large car to small car. It was considered a huge inconvenience at the time.

Now, if you switched from a regular Honda Civic to a hybrid Civic, or a Prius, your gains would be much smaller (and the cost much larger).

But here there is no change in size. No inconvenience. So, something's off.

I think what you are labeling a decline in marginal returns is simply the result of the industry neglecting fuel efficiency for a couple of decades, not some limit on technology. {Though of course, those limits may bind at some point}

What if we compare a regular Honda Civic with the new Ford car? The gains are very substantial.

Remember, too that today's cars are bulked up with all kinds of stuff (safety, comfort etc) that wasn't available in 1974. It adds weight and expense and we have to adjust for that to make the comparison more valid.

I'm rooting around for data on the cost of vehicles now versus 1974. But in general, the global automotive industry (think Tata) is capable of producing vehicles far more cheaply than in 1974.

We are talking technology here, so regulatory barriers have to be set aside when making comparisons.

Note in this example we are moving from a very large car to small car. It was considered a huge inconvenience at the time.

Not really. Some people worried about safety, but mostly, they were just new-fangled things that most people weren't used to. (And weren't too sure of. Funny as it seems now, back then, Japanese products were assumed to be cheap junk. Kind of like Chinese products now.)

But here there is no change in size. No inconvenience. So, something's off.

Or...it's declining marginal returns. You can't keep shrinking a car forever. The low-hanging fruit is picked first.

I think what you are labeling a decline in marginal returns is simply the result of the industry neglecting fuel efficiency for a couple of decades, not some limit on technology.

I think it's the opposite. If you compare a humongous SUV with a Prius, yes, it seems new technology offers big benefits. But if you compare the most efficient car available in 1998 with the most efficient car in 2008, there's really not that much of a difference.

It's true that in the US, we used technology to build more powerful engines, rather than more efficient ones, but the rest of the world did not.

In any case, as the article makes clear, the low-hanging fruit in the US was not cars. It was switching power plants from oil to natural gas, and making buildings more energy-efficient. That's what made the big difference. For the most part, those have not been rolled back, so they are perhaps a better test of what technology can do. And I don't see us repeating those gains now.

In any case, as the article makes clear, the low-hanging fruit in the US was not cars.

Agreed. But now the low hanging fruit are cars. And the tech is there for massive efficiency gains. It's already in the pipeline.

But the "massive" efficiency gains will be less than we achieved after the '70s oil crises. Assuming they materialize.

No they will be greater. (ie. Measured both as change in fleet efficiency and in savings in total gasoline consumption in bpd)

It's right in the numbers (get out your calculator!!). The new Ford car won't be the end when it finally comes to the US at some point. It's just example of a new class of vehicles. (And we are not even talking about EV's and hybrids here, just good ol' fashioned crude oil based fuels)

My feelings exactly.

Alan from the islands

Actually todays small cars get less mpg than those of twenty years ago, at least those made for the American market.

One major reason being Federal Safety requirements such as front impact safety cages, air bags and side impact counter measures have significantly increased the weight of autos.

Most of the low hanging fruit, improved aero, six speed tranmissions, cylinder deactivaton etc. can produce only minor improvements in fuel economy and/or barely offset their added weight.

You can forget about seeing major efficiency gains in relation to vehicle weight.

As for electrics and the Obama of the industry, the plug-in, high cost and low availability of rare materials insure low production and low market penetration.
So they will have little impact for many years out, if ever.

p.s. The Ford pictured in the post above is going to the European market.

Good post.

Though of course...we could roll back the safety and environmental requirements.

But even if we do, I don't expect we'll get the kind of fuel efficiency improvements we saw in the '70s. Improving fuel efficiency was actually pretty easy back then. The new Japanese compacts were cheaper than the cars most people were buying already.

Now, there is some low-hanging fruit (the people who have trucks and SUVs). But a lot of us are already driving small, fuel-efficient cars. Usually because they are so cheap. Improving mileage for them means spending more money for a marginal benefit. They're not going to do it in a bad economy.

I gained a huge increase in efficiency by giving up my car entirely.

By walking or taking the bus I am richer, healthier and happier. Plus, I get to meet more people and see what's going on in the world.

....and see what's going on in the world.

That is sooo true. You never get to know an area at all until you do you a lot of walking in it.

But if you compare the most efficient car available in 1998 with the most efficient car in 2008, there's really not that much of a difference.

Actually I believe this is not the case.

But I need you to help me....

Here's link to the EPA data:


It's possible that the Prius is at least 25% more efficient than the most efficient car with model year 1998.

Can you find one to disprove this?

I don't think you can compare them using government statistics. They changed the fuel economy rules recently, and I suspect they did not go back and re-test old models.

Perhaps comparing the Prius with other models from the same year (that were available in 1998) would be more accurate.

In any case, I don't consider 25% "massive," as VTPeaknik pointed out.

. They changed the fuel economy rules recently, and I suspect they did not go back and re-test old models.

They did indeed change the rules. The new rules are more strict. So that works in favor of a 2008 model such as the Prius because they are being judged by stricter standards. ie. If we did go back a retest the old vehicles by the new rules they would score lower.


In any case, I don't consider 25% "massive," as VTPeaknik pointed out.

The gain is actually likely greater and it will grow substantially in future years.

Why the resistance to the data? Is it Kunstler?

I'm actually not sure how the rules changed. I've heard the results are both better and worse, depending on whether you use the highway, city, or both. Never actually checked, since I am not planning to buy a car (hopefully ever again).

From the Union of Concerned Scientists:

Fixing the EPA's Fuel Economy Tests

Regarding the new rules:

The EPA approximates that the city fuel economy estimates of most vehicles will drop on average by about 12 percent and by as much as 30 percent. The highway fuel economy estimates will drop on average by about 8 percent and by as much as 25 percent.

It says it will lower the fuel economy of "most" vehicles.

I think the comparison should be from cars from the same model year. It just doesn't make sense to compare them when the measuring standards have changed.

Also, I suspect the most fuel-efficient car from 1998 is a diesel. Does that count, or does it have to be gasoline?

I think the comparison should be from cars from the same model year.

How could that work? Over a 10 year period an individual model almost always undergoes a massive revamping.

Diesel is fine.

I don't think the revamping has been so massive as to change the fuel efficiency that much. But here's some numbers:

Most fuel efficient car from 1998:

Geo Metro, 44 City, 49 Highway

Most fuel efficient car from 2008:

Toyota Prius, 48 city, 45 highway

I was wrong. It wasn't a diesel.

Good find. But completely differently class of vehicle. One that doesn't even exist in the US anymore really.

It's too bad that the Geo Metro wasn't continued.

But that does give us a point of comparison for the new Ford Fiesta Econetic.

Now what do you think could be done with the old Geo Metro if we turn the scientists loose on it?

BTW: The EPA now gives the 1998 Geo Metro a much lower mpg.

Now what do you think could be done with the old Geo Metro if we turn the scientists loose on it?

Not much. Scientists in other countries have been working for decades on fuel efficiency. We haven't, but we don't have a patent on human ingenuity. That's where the Metro and the Prius came from - other countries where fuel economy was still valued and people were still working on it.

I don't expect to see Mooresian improvements in fuel efficiency. The technology is fairly mature (though it doesn't seem like it to us). Some improvements, sure, but I think they'll be minor compared to, say, trading your Hummer in for a Prius (or trading your Bel-Air in for a Datsun, back in the '70s). Or moving so your one-hour commute is a 10-minute drive (or even better, a 10-minute walk).

Don't get me wrong. I think Stuart is right. Auto efficiency can make a big difference. Much bigger than electric rail. But only as a transition, and again I ask: transition to what? If it's nuclear or solar powered cars and continued happy motoring, I think it's going to be a disaster.

In reality, I think demand destruction (due to recession) is going to make a much bigger difference than fuel efficiency.

Not much.

If that's true than how do you explain the existence of the new Ford which kicks it's ass?

Let's just say I have a different idea of @$$-kicking than you do.

Well, the trick is to quantify it, to put a number on it.

I don't think it's any great stretch to say that FF cars will soon be available that give double the mpg of the Chevrolet Metro. (using new EPA rules)

Unfortunately we don't have EPA numbers for the new Fiesta (it's a European car) so we can't say exactly how close we are to that.

I think VTPeaknik did a pretty good job of quantifying it. Let me try...

In the '70s, my uncle actually did trade in his Chevy Bel-Air (about 12 mpg) for a little Datsun (about 50 mpg). Assuming 1200 miles driven a month:

Chevy: 100 gallons
Datsun: 24 gallons
Gas saved: 76 gallons a month

So, if you have a Prius or an old Metro today, assuming 50 mpg, you're using only 24 gallons to drive 1200 miles. You cannot actually get a 76 gallon savings via increased fuel efficiency, unless your car somehow creates gasoline while you drive.

If you double the MPG of the Metro...call it 100 mpg. For 1200 miles, that's 12 gallons saved. Very small compared to, say, trading your Hummer (13 mpg) for a Prius (which would also be roughly 76 gallons saved).

I think you might be saying that on a per capita basis there are less savings to be realized now (measured in gallons) than in 1974. Note: that is true in principle just because we use less per capita. If you use fewer gallons per month than in 1974, you have fewer gallons of potential savings. No argument there! The goal is to have no potential savings at all after having completely abandoned oil.

But your point might be: If we all switched to the most fuel efficient car on the market, the savings are less now than they were decades ago. Maybe.... but the point above applies: the idea is get those potential savings down to zero. Therefore, it's hardly alarming that they are shrinking. Since some vehicles don't use FF at all, complete escape from oil is not impossible.

Here is what would alarm me: not being able to see further gains in fleet efficiency in the pipeline. There is no sign of that at all.

BTW: 2 person vehicles that get 300 mpg exist.


What I'm saying is that Tainter's declining marginal returns applies to efficiency. Very much so. The low-hanging fruit is picked first. And was probably picked in the '70s.

That is why I'm not impressed with 75 mpg, and why I don't expect Mooresian improvements in mileage. Assuming 1200 miles driven a month:

  25 mpg      48  gal
  50 mpg      24  gal    24  gal
 100 mpg      12  gal    12  gal
 200 mpg       6  gal     6  gal
 400 mpg       3  gal     3  gal
 800 mpg     1.5  gal   1.5  gal
1600 mpg     0.75 gal   0.75 gal
Each improvement is going to have a higher cost and lower benefit; eventually, it just won't be worth it any more. For me, the Prius is already past the point of diminishing returns. I considered it, but I don't drive that much, and just wasn't worth the extra expense. I bought a Corolla.
The goal is to have no potential savings at all after having completely abandoned oil.
And the disaster would be having no potential savings at all...while still being dependent on oil. As it is, if something happens - a hurricane, a terrorist attack, etc. - we can cut back. We can carpool, use more efficient cars, drive slower, etc. If we're already doing all that, and suddenly we wake up one day to hear Ghawar has collapsed...we can't cut back any more. We're screwed.

Leanan you are making a simple conceptual error and it can be seen in your table. (Ask somebody about this who is accustomed to working with numbers if it doesn't click)

If we attained 1600 mpg, we would have left oil far behind for all intents and purposes. Again, get a calculator and work it out for any likely sized US fleet.

Each improvement is going to have a higher cost and lower benefit;

The data show the opposite. The cost of a car that would be roughly equivalent to the Chev. Metro (which are widely available outside the US) is now far less than it was 10 years ago. The cost of efficiency has fallen dramatically when adjusted for inflation.

It's a gedanken experiment, meant to illustrate why we should not be pinning our hopes on ever-increasing efficiency. It's not the cost of efficiency that counts, it's the cost of ever-improving efficiency.

Am I saying that better mileage won't happen, or that we shouldn't try for it? No. I'm saying that the low-hanging fruit has already been picked. In the '70s. As the WSJ article said - it will be harder this time. Not impossible, but harder.

It's a gedanken experiment, meant to illustrate why we should not be pinning our hopes on ever-increasing efficiency. It's not the cost of efficiency that counts, it's the cost of ever-improving efficiency.

It actually shows precisely the reverse. It's shows how increasing efficiency would free us from oil.

There is logical fallacy here.

Let me state it clearly: work an example with numbers for the fleet as a whole. Take a fleet of 100 million vehicles for instance and apply your gedanken experiment to it.

It's a very low level mistake you are making (like an addition multiplication error).

I think you're missing the point. We aren't going to get the entire fleet to 75 mpg. And we don't have to.

For the past decade or so, the average new car in the US has gotten 21 mpg. That can be significantly improved - without new technology. That is the lower-hanging fruit. Not as low as in the early '70s, when the average car got 13 mpg, but the technology is here and now.

We aren't going to get the entire fleet to 75 mpg.

Actually, we are. Oil production is going to decline to the point where someday it isn't used in personal vehicles at all. Isn't that what oil depletion is all about?

And we don't have to.

If we don't have to then peak oil will be a breeze. That would mean that there are ready substitutes to oil. My impression was you don't believe that.

The reason I press these points in this thread is that so far nobody has presented (as far as know) a depletion forecast showing it to be unlikely that US will not have a personal vehicle fleet of say 200 million cars 50 years from now. A forecast with numbers that is. There is no end of hand waving in peak oil circles. Most of it, I can't make sense of.

HOWEVER, I have discovered there is plenty of data to bring to bear on this. I'll bring it up in future drumbeats. For instance: we can plot the effective efficiency of the US fleet on a monthly basis and track it in some detail. It may be possible to make some projections.

Actually, we are. Oil production is going to decline to the point where someday it isn't used in personal vehicles at all. Isn't that what oil depletion is all about?

Nobody driving is not the same thing as having a fleet of 75 mpg cars.

If we don't have to then peak oil will be a breeze. That would mean that there are ready substitutes to oil. My impression was you don't believe that.

I meant we don't have to to get the benefits of reducing gas use. The point, both mine and the WSJ article's, is that the low-hanging fruit is picked first.

IOW...I think we'll reach the point of no personal vehicles (or vastly fewer of them) long before we achieve a fleet of 200 million 75 mpg cars.

Look at Japan. They've been working on this fuel economy thing since the '70s. And their average fuel efficiency is about 30 mpg, IIRC. Much better than our 21 mpg, sure, but a far cry from 75 mpg.

I think you seriously overestimate the benefits of improved mileage, and underestimate the ease of achieving it.

I think you seriously overestimate the benefits of improved mileage, and underestimate the ease of achieving it.

Technically I haven't provided an estimate yet. I'm still in guess-land. But I am moving toward an estimate.

We have to get beyond the point where we are using words like "hard" and "low-hanging fruit" and get into the data and attempt to quantify things.

The reason for this is that words like "hard" are too vague.

For instance, "hard" for the WSJ means roughly "will impede but not prevent growth in the US economy".

What does hard mean for you? Same as WSJ? Of course not. That's why we have to turn to numbers.

That the low hanging fruit will be picked first is elementary. Nobody argues that. But "low hanging" is dependent on what tech is available (at what cost).

Of course, I'm more optimistic RE tech compared to you. That's obvious and not very interesting. But of course, we need to get beyond that and actually attempt to derive future scenarios using the data. There are tons of things we can track and project wrt technology. I hope to get into that more.

Let's assume that we have a relatively low cost very light weight vehicle that would carry four people and get 75 mpg. What would happen to world demand for petroleum?

If the price of oil trends ever higher, I don't see demand increasing that much. i.e. The net effect of the improved cost and efficiency would be to offset the decline in oil production. The cost of car travel (fuel-wise) would not return to late 90's levels. Instead it would just continue to be affordable. But the same dynamic we are now observing world-wide would continue: OECD using less, developing world using more. There is an oil price, of course, which causes demand to stop growing even in the developing world. Then they are in the same position we are in now.

I think you are ignoring the rising cost of gasoline in your table. Thus the dollars saved may not decline with the gallon decline:

25 mpg 48 gal
50 mpg 24 gal 24 gal 4.00 $96
100 mpg 12 gal 12 gal 8.00 $96
200 mpg 6 gal 6 gal 16.00 $96
400 mpg 3 gal 3 gal 32.00 $96
800 mpg 1.5 gal 1.5 gal 64.00 $96
1600 mpg 0.75 gal 0.75 gal 128.00 $96

Edit: Can you tell me how to make charts look decent?

This is a good place to start.

25 mpg 48 gal
50 mpg 24 gal 24 gal 4.00 $96
100 mpg 12 gal 12 gal 8.00 $96
200 mpg 6 gal 6 gal 16.00 $96
400 mpg 3 gal 3 gal 32.00 $96
800 mpg 1.5 gal 1.5 gal 64.00 $96
1600 mpg 0.75 gal 0.75 gal 128.00 $96

That was a lot of work.

I think you can just put the data into an excel spreadsheet and then save it as html. Then take a look at the html source in notepad, say. There will be table in it which can be copied into a comment.

It certainly is indisputable that fuel cost per mile is rising. Actually, it's a statistic very worth tracking as the US fleet changes in response to peak oil.

I'm not ignoring it. Like I said, it'a a gedanken experiment. Obviously, if gas gets to be a million dollars an ounce, then even small improvements might be "worth it" measured in dollars. In reality, we will give up using gasoline long before that happens.

The quick 'n dirty way to do tables here is to use the "pre" tag. That keeps the monospaced formatting you see while you're typing.

This is a very interesting thread. Thank you all.

It seems to me that once mileage gets much above 75mpg, the overall efficiency of the vehicle is such that other energy supplies could readily come into play.

For example, at 75mpg for a hybrid, the likely energy density and cost shift to go to pure electric would be small.

The interesting aspect of this thought experiment isn't what the long-term price of oil might be, but the long-term price of energy. If we assume that vehicles can somewhat fluidly shift between energy sources (plug-in EV power, hydrogen fuel cell, gas, diesel, CNG, Ethanol, or whatever) the market will shift to ANY source before totally abandoning the suburban topology. This perspective predicates sufficient total supply of energy and some liquidity in consumption of various forms. Obviously any shifts are expensive and painful, and with peak oil/coal/gas there would still be a need for massive new alternative sources.

Today you can get a Civic CNG that gets about 25-30mpg using fuel that costs (here) $.96 per gallon equivalent. To match this with a gasoline care would require well over 100mpg, yet few people buy them today. Why? A concern that some trips will exceed the useful CNG range, with travel limited by available pumps. The same concern goes for EVs, plus a lack of fast-charge options today. I personally suspect that people will get over the worry about range, especially for multi-vehicle families, and will buy a high-mileage "commuter car" EV before too long.

50 miles per day is about 18,000 per year, enough for most daily commuters. What cost of energy will be required before this typical commuter could not maintain his lifestyle?

If we can answer that question, then those the go past 50mpd usage will have to shift earlier. Already I imagine the hour-plus commuter is a dying breed, though if 'everybody' can afford 25-50 there will be some who will sacrifice to afford 100 or more.

Folks may require only 50 miles per day on average, but they always plan for contingencies.

What are some of the frequent reasons for buying an SUV?

"What if I get in a crash?"

"What if I need to tow a boat or Uhaul trailer?"

If we get into statistics (likelihood of a crash, number of SUV owners that actually tow a boat) these reasons make little sense. But, that doesn't stop folks from using them.

Same reason they make us take our shoes off when we go into the airport. One chance in a billion is still a chance.

I guess my point is, if someone thinks they may make a 500 mile trip, they will buy a car that is capable of it on any given day.

An EV would not be practical for my once every 4 or so years hurricane evacuation.


New EPA data on the Chev. Metro 1998:

City 36, Highway 44

new data on the 2008 Prius:

City 48, Highway 45

Prius gets:

33% better in the city. Slightly better on the highway.


Here's a conundrum for the sys admin....

How is it possible to have a reply that is dated earlier than the post being replied to?

The comment above is time stamped: 5:06pm

It replies to a comment stamped: 5:27pm

However, truth be told, the comment above was originally to Leanan's comment here:

And then it somehow got moved.

It didn't get moved. Comments here are threaded. The comment directly above yours is not necessarily the one it is in reply to. That's what the indentations are for - to show you which messages are in reply to which. If a subthread generates a lot of discussion, the next reply could be pushed 100 messages down the page.

If you're having trouble telling which message a comment is replying to, click on the little speech balloon with the single up arrow (among the icons in the upper right of each post). That will take you to the "parent" - the post that generated the reply.


So comparisons can be made between 2008 and 1998.

The big problem with the older rules was due to the high numbers for highway driving, which did not match experience under real world conditions. That was due to the fact that the cars were tested on a dyno with a simulated LA freeway driving which resulted in an average speed of about 49 mph. Obviously, most people don't average 49 mph on the freeway, even if the initial speed up and final exit slowdown are included. Then too, the speed limit WAS 55 MPH. The newer simulation includes higher speeds on the highway section of the test. I think the other difference was the result of running without A/C, since the 1975 cars tended not to have A/C, which was an option. That's not likely today as most cars include A/C as standard, I suspect.

E. Swanson

The big issue was testing on a dyno. They weren't actually moving, so there was no air resistance.

As I understand it, the EPA required aerodynamic data for each model of car. Then, they program the load on the dyno to simulate the aerodynamic drag. There was a loophole or two, as "hatchbacks" were given a reduced drag coefficient.

A couple of years ago, the EPA asked for comments on the new rules and I tried to understand the way they did things with the goal of presenting a comment. The test is designed to measure pollutants and fuel economy was an after thought. Here's a link to the latest round of EPA rule making.

E. Swanson

Amory Lovin contends more can be done with building energy and industrial efficiency now than in the 1970s, even starting from a post-70's design level. Improvements in technology (and the trade knowledge necessary to utilize it) have come along quietly, and the "best" building today are far better than the "average" ones.

He would say the same about cars. If we're talking about overall utility, there are many improvements still to be made which will save energy. If we're talking about "fixing" the commuter's problems, the answer is probably a much smaller and lighter car.

For vehicles, the most critical item is simple - lower the weight. We will never again see cost effective 5,000lb vehicles carrying one person to work. I do think we will see 1,200-1500lb carbon fiber vehicles carrying 1 or 2 people quite effectively, combined with an increase in mass transit for longer commutes.

The crying shame is that we're only just now getting busy with building 100mpg cars and figuring out rail (and barely that). If we'd done it 1980 we'd still have decades of cheap oil for flying while or cars shifted to PV and wind electric.

I think the problem now isn't IF we can save 80 or 90% of the energy we spend without completely disrupting our lifestyles, but if we can do it quickly enough to not bankrupt our country and ourselves.

Price is at least as important as "inconvenience".

"What if we compare a regular Honda Civic with the new Ford car? The gains are very substantial." - not so. The savings (in gallons, for the same number of miles) going from, e.g., 40 MPG to 60 MPG is much smaller that going from, e.g., 10 MPG to 30 MPG (or even to 20).

Here's the math in case anybody needs to see it: Assume 1200 miles driven (a month's driving for a typical driver in the US).
At 10 MPG: 120 gallons. At 20 MPG: 60 gallons. 60 gallons saved.
At 40 MPG: 30 gallons. At 60 MPG: 20 gallons. 10 gallons saved.

(Americans could gain so much understanding by moving from the "MPG" nonsense to a "gallons per 100 miles" measure, as the Europeans do...)

Tata can make a cheaper car by making it even smaller and lighter, with little acceleration, and without the safety feature Americans think they have to have. Here come the "inconveniences"...

You can reach virtually infinite MPG if you take it far enough. It's called a bicycle - the most useful tool ever created by humans.

How long will it take before a huge amount of Indians can afford the Tata? 5 years? 7? The Indian economy has steady growth of 8% a year. That would mean that several hundred million people will be able to afford that Tata very soon. What would that mean for the consumption of crude in India? The Tata is tiny but it has substantially worse mileage than the Ford mentioned above. The oil consumption would take off from the paltry 0,8 barrels per person currently in India. It really doesn't matter that much what America does, the demand for crude is on the march like never before seen in human history.

The Tata Nano will cost about 1 lakh (100,000 Rupees). This is around the same as an auto rickshaw and anyone who has spent any time there can tell you that rickshaws are pretty much everywhere.

Good post, and you're right about MPG vs. GPM.

I think I posted this before, but here it is again:

The Illusion of Miles Per Gallon

The Tata is way, way ahead of the rest of the global auto industry in price reduction. The 2nd cheapest car in the world is a $3000 illegal Chinese pirate ripoff of a Daihatsu (now that's the way to cut development costs). After that you quickly get into $6000 cars. None of them can pass a US crash test.

But since the crash test is the law, we can't make it go away in order to carry out your conservation miracle. An awful lot of technological resources will be tied up in making safe lightweight cars. It will not be easy, though there are some developments I'm tracking.

If we look at cars Americans can actually purchase, we find that the $1999 Chevette Scooter of 1979 should cost maybe 4 times that much based on inflation. In fact, I just went shopping for a small car, and I would have bought a new Chevette for $8000 if I could. Instead I had to choose between Korean cars, Chevy Aveos (crap) and my Ford Focus, all of which cost about $13 grand or more new and had about 23 mpg city and 32 highway. If I wanted to go past 35 mpg I had to get the more advanced Japanese cars. Don't be fooled by advertising, you cannot get a Japanese car in Houston for less than $17,000. I can't imagine how much worse it is on the coasts.

So in the real world, economy is expensive.

Japanese kei-class mini cars are affordable and have decent crash protection if not quite up to US standards.

They're not $6000 cheap, but not stupendously expensive like the Tesla or Volt. Safety is relative. On a motorcycle or scooter, safety is a helmet, leather jacket and your own wits.

super390 - what you say may be true if you are looking to buy new.

However, I recently bought a 1995 Honda Civic for slightly more than $3000, and it gets 37 mpg (this is my average over the 20k or so miles I have driven in it). Not a luxury ride, but it is a solid car. It made more sense than buying a Prius (though the carpool stickers would have been nice). Economy doesn't HAVE to be expensive. (I live in California)

On the flip side, I used to drive a Honda Insight, and got 54 mpg. I leased it in 2000, and to actually buy it at the end of the lease would have been quite expensive. I did not buy it in 2000 since I was worried, back then, that it would not hold value, or might have issues with the batteries. Lesson learned.

Advancing technology has the potential to make a given choice easier (as in your example), but this doesn't make the second choice easier than the first (otherwise it wouldn't be the second choice). Don't get me wrong, we have a lot of "low-hanging fruit" to pick in the US. However, better technology tends to run up into limits of actual physical work that must be performed. Can technology increase efficiency faster than depletion over the long term? Maybe--this is one of those fundamental peak oil questions that remains unanswered. Rising prices over the past decade are one example of evidence to the contrary, but it's yet to be seen if this is an issue of time-lag-to-market or fundamental inability to improve efficiency faster than supply/demand equillibrium.

After they have destroyed their credit by walking away from their McMansions and private assault vehicles, how will they get the credit to spend $25,000 on a small European diesel? The average American car now lasts 14 years. People will buy used to survive, and all the used small cars are already taken.

Trade-ins. Your useless McMansion should make a reasonable down payment on a small car. Live in the SUV.

A little perspective

My 1960 Morris Minor convertable got 35 miles to the gallon and gas was 35 cents. I forget what it cost, maybe $1200. One time we went from Tucson to San Diego and back for about $5. Of course at the time, I only made about $20 per day. Fun car to drive and we were very happy with it. Our main car was a Chevy and cost about twice as much and half the gas milage.

Equating that to present. Now a Captain on flying status makes over a $100K so the equivalent of $25K for a fun car and $50K for the main car is realistic.

Of course, as a fighter pilot I never expected to live to retirement let alone 75 (yuck, growing old is a real bummer). Live fast, die young, make a good looking corpse (or crispy criter), "see you on the other side", save for the future; what future?. Not a bad philosophy facing peak oil and the resultant chaos danger. WTF, over.

I think this is relative. I would say that the easiest stuff is done, but there is a lot of easy stuff left to do. Drive by the local suburban mall parking lot, and you'll see what I mean.

Last night there were so many planes landing that I had to pause the TV every thirty seconds so I could wait for the noise to go down.

My coworkers still drive their SUV's to get cheeseburgers everday for lunch.

"The easy stuff is done." Not even...US has a long way to go to catch California, and we still have a long way to go.

LOVINS: Others have noted that the term is accurate, though it obviously raises the question: when we are addicted to drugs, we're supposed to reduce the supply, so when we are addicted to oil, why are we supposed to increase the supply? There is a cure, and it is painless and profitable. In 2004, my team prepared for the Pentagon a detailed road map for getting the U.S. completely off oil by the 2040s, led by businesses for profit. Half the oil can be saved by redoubling the efficiency of using it, already doubled since 1975. The other half of the oil can be displaced by a mixture of saved natural gas and advanced biofuels. We would end up doing all the things we now do with oil at only a quarter of the cost and with uncompromised performance and improved safety.


Hi Leanan,

On the other hand, I see so much waste and inefficiency everywhere I turn that I have to believe we can do much better. I'm working on a proposal to convert a manufacturing plant equipped with 1,100 460-watt HID fixtures to 6-tube T8 high bay fluorescents that will provide the same amount of light at just 217-watts. If the client grants their approval (and with attractive federal and utility rebates I can't imagine why they would not), we will reduce this facilities energy needs by more than 2,300,000 kWh/year -- enough electricity to supply the needs of some 200+ homes. Now that there's a stronger economic incentive to use energy more wisely -- and, correspondingly, a greater recognition of the need to properly manage these costs -- I expect our energy performance to improve considerably.

On a down note, we source many of our high bay fluorescent fixtures from a manufacturer in Ontario and it normally takes two to three days to have them arrive by truck. Unbeknownst to us, our most recent order was shipped by train and we're now ten days and counting. :(


No doubt, there's a lot of fat we can cut.

But I have doubts about efficiency as a goal. In the end, efficiency only makes us more dependent. (Which is why Thomas Homer-Dixon says we should strive for resilience, "wasteful" as it is.)

I think we Americans might actually do better than Europe in the early part of the post-carbon age. Because we are so wasteful, it would be relatively easy to cut back.

But we can't keep doing it forever. It's good for the transition...but we need to ask ourselves, "Transition to what?" If greater efficiency means we keep driving an hour a day to our exurban homes, except the cars will be Priuses and the McMansions super-insulated and lit by CFLs...eventually, we're going to hit the wall.

I get the feeling a lot of the "efficiency" mantra is coming from people who see it as a temporary stopgap, until technology comes along and lets us resume the happy motoring. Just something to tide us over until The Singularity arrives. If the Singularity doesn't arrive, the crash will even harder, since it will be extremely difficult to cut back any more, once we are all "efficient."

I agree. Eventually, we'll hit the wall when we can no longer extract greater savings and in that sense we may end up perpetuating a system that, albeit more efficient, is no more sustainable. And if it misleads us into believing we have resolved the problem when we have not, I guess one could rightfully argue we would have been better off had we done nothing at all. I have no good answer -- I can tell you that if I were onboard the Titanic I would still be throwing deck chairs over the side rail in a desperate effort to reduce draft, knowing full well this ship's going down.


I disagree with Leanan on this: How can having better infrastructure make the crash worse? If we actually super-insulate those McMansions now, for example, we'll be better off at all stages later. E.g., when 3 families have to share that McMansion to make ends meet, rather than 6 families.

But I agree with the comment above that most people will not be financially able to buy new, expensive tech even if it shows up.

Hi vt,

Perhaps the key point is that many of us (myself included) believe changing a light bulb, putting on a sweater and turning down our thermostats a few degrees, or trading-in our gas guzzlers for more fuel efficient models will solve our problems when, in fact, the issues run much deeper. By framing our understanding largely in terms of various technical "fixes" we continue down an unsustainable path -- then, at some point, now physically exhausted and without daylight, we lack the strength and means to turn back.


I seem to recall a graph showing that insulation improvements had the best EROI of any other technology (it was for carbon emissions, but I think the same principle applies).

However, even an insulation retrofit can be expensive...though it might look cheap in 5 or 10 years.


The point is that there is a trap at the end of the energy efficiency trail. Jeff Vail makes the point above that "...better technology tends to run up into limits of actual physical work that must be performed."

For grins, say that we achieve 99.999% efficiency converting energy into useful, economically desirable work. At that point, if energy available declines you must commensurately decline economically useful work. The corollary to "We can produce $X of GDP with Y Joules with 100% efficiency", is "You MUST have Y Joules to produce $X." What happens the next year when energy available declines? What happens to an aircraft when Power Required < Power Available? You lose airspeed and / or altitude in a quick hurry. Hopefully you don't run out of the second before you get the first back under control.

The point that I make in my own PO conversations is that the opposite of 'efficiency' is 'resiliency'. To be resilient a system will have redundancies, back-ups, and alternative pathways. These represent inefficiencies. It's a classic trade-off situation.

And just to finish on the airplane analogy. We do have quite a bit of 'parasitic drag' in the overall system that can be removed quite easily. We all know of storage lockers that are lit 24 / 7, single-occupant SUV's, etc. That's where we may have an initial advantage: we waste so darn much energy to begin with. So as P(avail) initially declines in earnest, we can reduce P(req) at a faster rate and thus stay ahead of the curve. But at some point we will be as aerodynamically clean as possible. And when P(avail) goes down yet further, you either slow down or descend.

I don't think that airplane analogy holds, since it's not a "fly or crash" (sink or swim) situation. We're going to become poorer, in available energy. There's no way around that. But if we invest in insulation, efficient appliances and vehicles, etc, then at any future level of energy supply we'll get more human utility out of it.

There's different kinds of efficiency. A brittle, just-in-time inventory system may be financially efficient, but not necessarily energy efficient.

I see efficiency as a temporary stopgap too because we need all the time we can get to rebuild everything for a world without cheap oil.

Hi Leanan,
Your comments about efficiency need to be challenged. Stuart Staniford's post Feb 11, 2007, shows that the recession caused a temporary reduction in VMT but there was a >10year dramatic improvement in vehicle mpg from 12 to 19 mpg based on total gasoline/total VMT.
Efficiency improvements can be responsible for very large reductions in energy use, and here its oil and NG that are critical. Home insulation can give 90% reductions in heating and cooling, lighting 75%?. If all cars and light trucks in the fleet(average 25 mpg) were replaced by the most efficient vehicles we would be looking at perhaps a 25% reduction in fuel use. Total renewable and nuclear ( ie non-carbon ) sources of energy are increasing so there COULD become a point where renewable energy supply meets declining energy demand due to conservation.
This alone will not solve the need for replacing liquid fuels, but will buy a lot of time so that new technologies, such as PHEV and BEV can replace most transport needs for oil.

You are correct that going from 50mpg to 100mpg efficiency save a lot less than going from 12.5mpg to 50mpg, but with a fleet average of 50mpg we don't have to save as much because we are using much less.
This effect has been hidden by the increase in VMT. Some of this increase has been due to structural changes in where people live and work, but also demographic, high employment of post WWII baby boomers due to small family size and high women participation, increasing wealth of this group as it approaches retirement. This will change, retired people won't drive as much,wealth will decrease and leisure driving will be much more responsive to fuel prices than commuting to work.

The second factor is that gasoline prices are still very low compared to Europe, or as a proportion of US incomes. To go from lots of oil, and low prices to almost no oil at prices that are not affordable for 99% of population we have to pass through a very dramatic price squeeze, where the average consumer will have to dramatically reduce VMT or replace vehicle with twice or three times fuel efficiency. A post at TOD a few months ago showed that only 23% of driver time was for work commuting, so could expect at 50-75% reduction in VMT and a X2-3 increase in fuel efficiency, reducing gasoline use to only 10% of present consumption.

The third factor is that efficiency improvements can be introduced quickly, especially insulation, appliance efficiency, and even vehicle efficiency because 0-6 year old cars and light trucks are responsible for 50% of VMT. Compare this to the time to build coal to liquids, or build new nuclear generators. Unlike a recession, improving energy efficiency also create local employment and can have a rapid payback period, freeing income for more energy efficiency, as technological improvements area available.

1. The easy stuff is done.

dont totally agree with that, but whatever, that means we have to do the hard stuff.

2.We're bigger, busier and wealthier now.

then we need to get smaller, not so busy, and we probably wont be as wealthy.

5. Recessions help.

i dont see how a recession will prevent us from conserving.

1. The easy stuff is done.

dont totally agree with that, but whatever, that means we have to do the hard stuff.

The article points out that half the cut in oil consumption achieved after the '70s oil crises was due to switching power plants from oil to coal and natural gas. That was pretty painless (especially since we had plentiful coal and natural gas then). Obviously, that cannot be repeated.

2.We're bigger, busier and wealthier now.

then we need to get smaller, not so busy, and we probably wont be as wealthy.

IOW, dieoff and poverty. Sounds like fun.

5. Recessions help.

i dont see how a recession will prevent us from conserving.

If you read the article, it explains that the recessions caused by the '70s oil spikes were a big reason we so successfully conserved back then.

The economy is not nearly as bad now, and apparently the article's author doesn't think it will get that bad. He could be wrong about that one, I'll concede.

"The economy is not nearly as bad now,"

superficially not as bad. but the national debt*, as a % of gdp, is about twice as bad.

makes me wonder how the govt is going to finance a response to po with no money in the bank, no credit and no way to raise taxes.

* and please dont anybody try to explain how the public held debt is ONLY $x.x trillion.

5. Who'd like to take a bet on a recession? My bet? It's on the way!

2. and more indebted

1. When Americans can look at an add for a Chevy Cobalt that touts 24mpg as best in class and think, "what rubbish". When GM and Ford have models that outsell the Toyota Corolla an Honda Civic in their market segment. When GM sells the Chevy Spark and Ford the Fiesta in the US. When the Ford Econoline is replaced by the Ford Transit. IOW, when the US consumer has abandoned their big car mentality, then "the easy stuff" will have been done, at least in terms of transportation fuel.

I should also mentioned that an adoption of Alan Drakes's rail plans is needed as well. Gotta get those long haul big rigs on to short haul duty. Scrap the sleeper cabs.

How much CHP(combined heat and power) is being used in the winter months. Like someone upthread said, time to do the hard stuff.

Alan from the islands

Cobalt XFE selling faster than planned

Chevrolet apparently has a hit on its hands in the form of the new XFE model of its Cobalt compact car. Relatively easy tricks such as revised gearing, low rolling-resistance tires and some computer reprogramming was enough to boost the XFE to 36 miles per gallon on the highway, up from the standard model's 33 mpg.

Now that's what I'm talkin about!

Alan from the islands

I bet my car could get up to 36 with some of those "low rolling resistance" tires and a new computer chip.

I'm talking city, though, it already gets 32 in the city. And it's almost 20 years old. Not much to look at, though.

Say Crude Oil hit 126 today and CLQ08 hit 125.XX

The point of CL hitting 126 before it hits $154 from the last oil poll

Pop goes the bubble.


A lot of specs who system trade got a signal to short today.

And I got an email from Sen. Tim Johnson today asking me to support legislation against oil speculation, lol.

So how far do you think it will fall Jack?

Who knows, 2 weeks ago I didn't think we would see the mid 120's again, but after last weeks price change I think different. I thought we might see a drop to the 110's this week, and I posted about this a couple days ago, but I think it was deleted. I regained confidence that 130 would be the floor price on Monday. Always go with the first instinct. This is a hell of a shakedown and the bubble mentality is really taking hold.

I'm not too worried though, I'm in the ETF for the long haul, and I'm convinced the fundamentals which get spelled out on a daily basis here will send the price roaring north within 2 years.


I am gazing into my crystal ball and I see...bubble, bubble, toil and trouble. (hat tip to The Bard)

I got my crystal ball from a genuine sooth sayer in Casadega, Fl...a town full of soothsayers. In fact, if one is not a psychic, spiritualist, palm reader, et al, one cannot reside in Casadega. Since it was used with a few scratches I got it for nine bucks and they threw in a few sooths. Sayers were optional, but pricey.

This ball has never been right about anything but Casadega offers guarantees on nothing. Soothsaying, weather forecasting and Larry Kudlow all seem to have much in common.

Pop goes the bubble.

ROFLMAO! Oil hasn't even dropped 20% from it's all-time intraday high, and it's only done that because the world economy is going down faster than a 1.6 gallon flush.

Wake me up when oil drops more than the S&P500.

Edit: My apologies. That sounded much harsher after I re-read it than I originally intended it to be. I just think it is a little early to be calling oil a bubble, or saying that it has popped in the unlikely event that it turns out to have been a real bubble.

No problamo shargash. I would also ask all those chatting about the bubble bursting to mark the last week of Aug on their calendars. The price that just dropped was for Aug delivered future oil contracts. Check the current numbers being thrown about now to what oil is actually selling for on Aug 31. If it’s up to $135 or more than you should be able to hear the tears fall from the folks who just lost 100’s of millions of dollars on their contracts. But that sound may be drowned out by the cheering from the folks that made 100’s of millions of dollars who can sell their contracts at $10 to $15 dollars over the price the sad folks just paid for theirs. There is no win-win in the futures market…except for the brokers who make their same commissions whether the trader wins or looses.

Stocks climb as the price of oil drops


Dead Cat Bounce

The poll will be forthcoming at 6p EDT...

how about a poll for how far we are pushing the peak out with current rate of demand destruction?

This is interesting. I have been thinking of this recently. I would think a serious world depression would delay terminal decline by a few years to a decade, just off of the top of my head. Figures, just as PO is getting mainstream play, boom, knocked off the radar by prices coming down. Another interesting question is how high would prices be if people were not losing jobs left and right and still had access to their HELOCs?

Right now I'm listening to a webcast by a natural-resources expert at a discount broker. To his credit, he at least presented Peak Oil on one of his slides as a driver for current oil price - calling it "Peak Oil Theory," and listing its importance last, right behind the Green Movement!

His charts show the dip in global production that began in 2005, but, like any economist, he believes that supply will increase again in the out years, simply because price is high. No mention of EROEI in reference to tar sands, deep offshore, or corn ethanol.

So the official mouthpieces are still bullish on energy and other commodities, especially steel and copper. Sure, the current inflationary cycle isn't over just yet, but does that constitute a megatrend? All you have to do is google the prices of commodities in the 1929-1931 range to see what will happen when the wave breaks and the deflationary cycle takes over.

I can't emphasize enough how valuable the insights of Ilargi and Stoneleigh are that appear on http://theautomaticearth.blogspot.com/

Scathing satire of a Chevron "Human Energy" commercial.


YouTube version.

The "remixer's" own website: Rebellious Pixels.

I just watched both the remix and the original.

I was stunned by the original. My god was that (unintentionally) doomish.

I posted an unreferenced claim regarding organic food yields a couple of days ago.
In the developed world, going organic reduces yield by 20% but does not reduce nutritional content.
In the developing world, going organic increases yield by 90%.

source: Guy Dauncey, quoted in Gardens of Destiny 2008. Youtube segment from about 3 minutes in.

Whole video is available via Youtube or as a DVD.

Further development of the China vs. Exxon contest here that also provides some history unknown to most Westerners about the recent battles between China and Vietnam and Chinese expansion. Map of region referred to in article.

Older article that provides additional background on the contemporary African situation with a lot of focus on Nigeria.

Item from the above publication's current edition Peak Oil and Energy Imperialism that provides a wealth of references to studies and papers done by US centered strategic think tanks impacting past and current policy direction. IMO, anyone concerned about the implications of Peak Oil ought to read this item.

We need to realize that a very dangerous "game" is being "played" in the pursuit of something most of us accept as untenable--further economic growth to support an already unsustainable level of population, and the power such growth provides those able to reap its "benefits." The above articles provide information enabling readers to reach that realization.

What a Kidder!

Bush to media: 'You've been thrown out of better places'

In a driveway near the main house, where Barbara Bush waved from the kitchen window, was a Smart Car. And around the corner, of course, there's a windmill that the family had installed several years ago.

"We didn't put it up to generate electricity," Bush quipped. "We put it up to kill cormorants so they wouldn't eat the fish."

Should note that this is Papa Bush, not Baby Bush.


Interesting indeed:


Another good article in my neighborhood paper on scooter and motorcycle commuting. You can save a lot on energy, parking space and traffic congestion, but you'll need the survival instincts of a fighter pilot in LA traffic.


Texas oilman: Clear path for wind power

WASHINGTON - Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens asked Congress on Tuesday to "clear the path" for his plan to boost use of wind and natural gas for U.S. energy needs.

Pickens has been on a $58 million publicity tour to promote his plan to erect wind turbines in the Midwest to generate electricity, replacing the 22 percent of U.S. power produced from natural gas. The freed up natural gas then could be used for transportation.

See: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080722/ap_on_go_co/pickens_energy_2

Russia's government has approved a rise in Russian oil export duty of $97.8 to a record $495.9 per metric ton as of August 1,

There are 1000 kilograms in a metric ton.
495.9 devided by 1000 = $0.4955 per kilogram.

There are 8.4 pounds of oil per US gallon. 8.4 times 42 gallons per barrel = 352.8 pounds per barrel devided by 2.2 = 160 kilograms per barrel.

160 x $0.4955 = $79.28 export duty per barrel of oil!

Holy Batmobile! that is a lot of tax on a $125 barrel of oil???

$495 per ton
One ton is about 7.3 barrels
From http://www.eppo.go.th/ref/UNIT-OIL.html

I make it just less than $70 a barrel, still significant. Perhaps the money can be invested in CCGT's to run large heat pumps to keep the permafrost frozen. Maybe new rail lines to bring the resources from the Arctic to Central Asia.

The LA Times peak oil article was in the dead-tree version of the paper, and it was on the front page.


The article is now in the business section online. It has received quite a bit of attention based on the fact that there are 99 comments at this point. I breezed through about 30 or 40 (I'm in a hurry and have to leave for home). Most of them were "relatively" sane and informed comments with a few of the brain dead types mixed in as you would expect. I think that the article, it's tenor, and the comments etc, illustrate that the concept of peak oil is definitely working its way into the national dialog. There seems to be an evolution to the discussion with the "speculation" cause vs the "drill more in US" so-called solution vs the "supply/demand" argument jockeying for acceptance of the mainstream. BTW, I saw a bumper sticker on a car in our office parking lot that said something to the effect of "drill more to pay less for gas." It's becoming a hot topic to say the least.

So Wachovia posts a $8.9 billion quarterly loss, cuts 10,750 jobs and the stock rises by 27%, this sums up what is wrong with America.

Incredible! T Boone Pickens pitching his plan in the Capital on CSPAN today. This guy can sell.

It was pure poetry , music to my ears, finally a real discussion in Washington about the energy policy. Hubbert's curve, Kunzlter, Peak Oil, the dude was a talking Oil Drum!!

It was the greatest single act I have seen to date to try to engage this problem. T Boone has elevated the game to a new level. I liked Senator Lieberman's interaction with him. I almost felt like there was hope of doing something in Washington today...but alas...we know it will linger.

bush wants to open up colorado oil shale. you can call this another bush dry hole. bush cant seem to drill enough dry holes, iraq being his greatest effort, so far.

earlier in his career, he made quite a name for himself by drilling dry holes when he was running harken energy.