DrumBeat: August 9, 2008

Living simply provides economic shelter

CHICAGO (AP) — Keri Rainsberger isn't rich. She works in the nonprofit world for a relatively low-profit salary. Yet, as many Americans are scrimping for every penny, she hardly feels the pinch.

She still tithes 10% of her income to her church, even as other members have cut back. She rarely worries about rising gas and food prices. And she never bothers to balance her checkbook, because she doesn't come close to spending what she has.

"I live so far below my means that it doesn't really register," says Rainsberger, a 31-year-old Chicagoan with a wiry frame and unusually sunny outlook. "I don't have to think about money."

How is this possible?

For starters, she has no car and commutes by bicycle each workday. She also has no mortgage payment and chooses to live in an "intentional community," a partly shared space where $775 a month covers everything from utilities to meals.

Steve LeVine - It's Official: The Caspian is a Terrorist Target

The surprise isn’t that terrorists appear to be responsible for an explosion that has shut down the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline, and sent world oil prices up. It’s that no such attack occurred earlier in the Caspian Sea region.

Gunmen kidnap eight expats off oil vessel in Nigeria

LAGOS (Reuters) - Gunmen kidnapped eight foreign oil workers from a vessel off Nigeria's Niger Delta early on Saturday, bringing to 16 the number of industry workers seized in the past 48 hours, security sources said.

Kuwait says Iran nuclear dispute hurts neighbours

KUWAIT (Reuters) - U.S.-allied Kuwait urged Iran on Saturday to resolve tensions with the West over its nuclear programme, saying the dispute undermined the interests of Gulf states with which it shares a vital oil export route.

Peru miners fear energy shortage to drive up costs

LIMA, Aug 8 (Reuters) - Peruvian mining companies, the traditional backbone of the Andean country's economy, say they will face higher costs over the next year because of scarce energy supplies.

A drier than expected rainy season has slashed power output from hydroelectric dams, while the only gas pipeline that feeds thermoelectric plants is operating at full capacity. Its expansion will not be completed for another 12 months.

Drivers Strike Burdens Colombia

Bogota (Prensa Latina) Colombian drivers on strike nationwide for higher pay lower fuel costs continue to affect supply and exports.

Agriculture Minister Andres Felipe Arias said they will use police to stop the incipient food shortage and damage to exports, like the 180,000 sacks of coffee for export blocked in Buenaventura port.

Kashmir sees worst communal tension in decades

SRINAGAR: Occupied Kashmir is facing a shortage of food, fuel and medicine as the violence-hit region is gripped by the worst Hindu-Muslim tensions in decades, locals say.

Angry protesters in Hindu-dominated Jammu have been attacking trucks ferrying food, drugs and other essential supplies to the Muslim-majority valley, seeking to impose an economic blockade and defying a curfew.

Radical Hindu groups have told Muslims living in Jammu to leave and the latter’s houses have been set ablaze.

Nepal - End to fuel crisis in sight: NOC

Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) has announced that it has started pumping out a substantial volume of fuel in the market. If this is continued, and officials say it will, fuel availability will improve dramatically by the middle of next week.

“We are determined to restore normal supplies of petrol and diesel by Tuesday,” said Mukunda Dhungel, spokesperson of the corporation

There is more good news, though the technically bankrupt NOC may rejoice at it more than its customers for now. The price of oil has started dropping in the international market and credible agencies said crude prices could settle at around US$ 100 a barrel in the short term.

Firewood prices are heating up

Homeowners hoping to cut their heating costs by stoking the wood stove might be in for a shock.

Firewood — if you can find it — has soared in price.

Electronic data centres sign up to go green

Electronic data storage centres in Dubai are increasingly becoming conscious about their environmental impact and are planning to take steps to go green.

China dominates in list of world’s cheapest cars

In the market for a brand-new, no-frills ride for less than $4,000? No problem — at least, not if you live in China. The country is home to the cheapest car in the world, the very basic Jiangnan Alto, powered by a 0.8-liter, three-cylinder engine and selling for a mere $3,785.32 (25,800 yuan).

UK: 12 arrested after refinery protest

The activists were protesting against the use of biofuels made from crops which they believe harms the environment pushes up the price of food in developing countries.

A look at rising need of crude in energy rich nations

(MENAFN - Arab News) With the crude demand-supply balance definitely tight, the growing consumption in the energy rich, oil-exporting countries is under hammer, adding to the existing confusion on the future prospects of the industry.

Fresh data from the US Department of Energy show the amount of petroleum products shipped by the world's top oil exporters fell 2.5 percent in 2007, despite a 57 percent increase in prices and the rise in global consumption. And the trend appears to hold true this year as well.

Rising cash flow from high price crude have fuelled a boom in oil demand inside Saudi Arabia and across the oil rich Middle East, leaving less oil for export, some are now starting to emphasize. At the same time, aging fields and sluggish investments have caused exports to drop significantly in some of the exporting countries such as Mexico, Norway and, most recently, Russia.

Excess Oil Supply to Be Absorbed by Winter Demand

TEHRAN (FNA)- The global oil market is oversupplied but stronger winter demand should absorb the extra barrels later in the year, Iran's OPEC Governor said.

Mohammad Ali Khatibi told Reuters by telephone on Wednesday that the oil market was responding more to fundamentals after a price slide of around 20 percent in less than a month drove out some speculators.

The Risks of Falling Gas Prices

There's a national sigh of relief as oil prices fall and the cost of gasoline drifts down from record highs. Since peaking on July 17 at $4.11 per gallon, gas prices have dropped about 25 cents. Some analysts think fuel prices have a lot farther to fall. If so, it would be a welcome breather for a gasping economy.

But drivers probably shouldn't count on it. There's just as much reason for gas prices to go back up as to fall. Oil is obviously a volatile commodity, and it's prudent to plan for a worst-case scenario, not a best case. Plus, falling gas prices could reverse a few positive trends that have started Americans down the road toward energy independence.

Fuel tank tales

How people around Chicago are coping with gasoline prices.

Uganda: More Households, Hotels Adopt Renewable Energy Solutions

"Many people are buying solar energy for their homes or their businesses for they have realised that besides putting the dark days away, they can save money with the solar systems and also make more money with the solar business packs," he explains.

He says many innovative products are now on the market. For instance, he says that at Ultra Tec they have a solar household system with four lights capable of charging a phone and powering a small radio at as low as sh300,000 when fully installed.

He says they have also brought in solar DC computers that consume as low as 20w power and do not need investment on a solar panel, battery and inverter as compared to normal laptops and desktops. Other innovations include the solar fridges, solar '7' TV and lanterns that work for three to five hours non-stop.

NYC rail link study on track

For decades, rail enthusiasts pushing for passenger train service into the Lehigh Valley have been brushed aside as history buffs letting their dreams mask the reality that America's golden age of rail travel is passed.

But recently, with $4-a-gallon gasoline and highways crowded with thousands of people commuting as long as three hours to work, some of the Lehigh Valley's most influential leaders appear ready to make a down payment on those dreams.

Have we reached the end of the road for oil?

Petrol prices are set to fall this autumn, but David Strahan argues that oil is now so scarce that it may never be affordable again

...Contrary to the sanguine view put forward by Martin Vander Weyer in these pages yesterday, the facts are stark: the world has been discovering less for the last 40 years; for every barrel we discover we consume three; output is in terminal decline in 60 of the 98 oil-producing countries; and hundreds of billions of dollars in investment since the turn of the century have failed to stem declining production at many of the world's biggest oil companies.

As a result, it is widely agreed that oil production in the non-Opec world will "peak" - reach its maximum possible level - within two years, if it has not already done so. This means that the huge profits being made by multi-nationals such as Shell or ExxonMobil may turn out to be their last hurrah. "The days of the international oil companies are coming to a glorious end," said Fatih Birol, chief economist of the International Energy Agency, last month. "Their reserves are declining and they will have difficulty accessing new ones."

Unfortunately, this means that the global oil supply will soon depend on Opec as never before. Many analysts suspect that the Opec countries, which claim to hold three quarters of known reserves, have been exaggerating their size for decades - in other words, they too will soon reach the physical limits of production.

Iran in new oil money move to dodge sanctions

TEHRAN - Iran's government has ordered the state oil company to deposit oil revenues only in selected banks in a bid to dodge toughening sanctions over its nuclear drive, local media reported on Saturday.

Kurdish rebels threaten more attacks in Turkey

ANKARA, Turkey - Kurdish rebels threatened on Friday to stage more attacks on economic targets in Turkey, days after claiming responsibility for a fire at a key oil pipeline, a pro-Kurdish news agency said.

Analysis: Nigeria losing 650,000 bpd

Increased violence has caused Nigerian oil output to decline by 650,000 barrels per day, according to the West African country's vice president.

The losses incurred by continuing attacks by armed militant groups on oil and gas installations in the Niger Delta are costing the country almost $68 million a day in lost revenue, said Vice President Jonathan Goodluck.

Georgia declares state of war with Russia

Russian paratroopers entered the capital of South Ossetia on Saturday as part of a military operation that Russia said was intended to force the Georgian side to cease fire.

Separatist-backed South Ossetian sources reported about 1,600 people have died and 90 have been wounded in the capital of Tskhinvali after two days of fighting, but Georgian officials said the figure was inflated. The Georgians said they didn't have their own death toll, but it would likely be closer to 100.

Global Analysis: Russia Invades Georgia

As these words are written, Russian mechanized troops are moving against the Republic of Georgia. The Georgian leadership has been taken by surprise. They did not think the Russians would go this far. So the question has to be asked: Why is Russia invading Georgia now? What would a war between Georgia and Russia accomplish?

U.S. caught in middle of spat

There's more than meets the eye to the frantic U.S. efforts Friday to talk Russia and U.S. ally Georgia out of war over an obscure mountain tract most Americans have never heard of.

A look at the map and your gas credit card bill shows why.

Getting our heads out of the clouds

He explains that what has been happening in the markets is part of an epic transformation of the global economy, involving a massive transfer of wealth to emerging economies amid the proliferation of complex financial instruments, whose role in this transfer has been poorly understood by market participants. In typical fashion, these policy makers, regulators and investment professionals spend too much time looking in the rear-view mirror when they should be closely watching the admittedly bumpy road to a very different future.

Canada says science backs up its Arctic claim

OTTAWA (AFP) - Canada says it has scientific proof of its territorial claims over a vast portion of the Arctic, amid debate between northern nations over sovereignty in the oil-rich region.

Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn said Friday joint research with Denmark had found that the undersea Lomonosov Ridge is attached to the North American and Greenland plates, directly challenging a Russian claim.

Oil Springs, Ont., celebrates 150 years as birthplace of petroleum industry

Charles Fairbank himself said he believes the world has reached "peak oil" _ the point at which half the world´s oil supply is gone, and the rest is rapidly declining. No one, his grandfather included, likely could have imagined society´s dependency on the product today, he said.

Fairbank, who just bought two electric bicycles (his wife drives a Prius), said he hopes the anniversary reminds people about the value of crude oil and the need to preserve it.

"Three tablespoons, for instance, is the work of a man for eight hours," he said.

Thieves now hot for used frying oil

As the price of restaurant grease climbs with the popularity of biodiesel, companies that refine used french-fry oil say thieves are getting to Columbus restaurants before they can.

"Within the last year and a half, it's kind of become the new copper," said Chad Derr, the Columbus sales manager for Griffin Industries, a Kentucky company that refines restaurant grease for use in a number of products, including biodiesel.

Bio-fuels, lighter craft to aid aviation industry energy use, greenhouse emissions

Alternative fuels are not new. In the 1950s, the U.S. Air Force considered using liquid hydrogen and methane to power gas turbines. Even cryogenics were evaluated, but all options were more costly than fossil fuels — and remain so today. However, since the end of the Cold War, petro-politics have taken a vastly different turn.

Words of warming

As the world hots up, so does the market for books about climate change. Tim Flannery, author of The Weather Makers, looks at the latest works on the crisis, and sizes up their solutions, from nuclear energy to genetically engineered trees.

Population paradox: Europe's time bomb

The magic figure for demographers is 2.1 births per couple. That, allowing for the fact that some girls die before they reach child-bearing age, is the figure at which a population replaces itself. In Europe the last time that fertility was above replacement level was in the mid-1960s. But now, for the first time on record, birthrates in southern and eastern Europe have dropped below 1.3 – well below the 1.5 which the United Nations has marked as the crisis point. If things continue the population there will be cut in half in just 45 years. In Italy, one recent survey put it at 1.2. Cities such as Milan and Bologna recorded less than 1, the lowest birthrates anywhere.

Global warming threatens indigenous peoples: FAO

ROME (AFP) - Global warming and limited access to land and other resources threaten many indigenous peoples, the UN food agency warned Friday.

"Indigenous peoples are among the first to suffer from increasingly harsh and erratic weather conditions, and a generalised lack of empowerment to claim goods and services," said indigenous peoples expert Regina Laub of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Humans cause climate change, US body accepts

AS THE Bush administration enters its final months, the US Climate Change Science Program has issued a report concluding that computer models do effectively simulate climate. It also accepts that the models show human activity was responsible for the rapid warming of the 20th century.

As some of you may have noticed, SuperG has activated the <pre> tags for everyone. They are for preformatted text. Put <pre> before the text you want to be preformatted, and </pre> after it.

It will keep the spacing exactly as you see it while you're typing your post. Including the monospaced font, which keeps things like columns of numbers lined up properly.

Testing testing.

             \|/\/\|   .''`/:
     :\''.    \`'. |  ||  /  :
     : \ ||   |\ |||  || /    o
     j _\||__/__\||_\_||/___
        |  |   |   |   |  |

Go on, give us font now ;-)

All right, kids. You can test it by using "preview." No need to actually post it.

Preview quit working for me a couple of weeks ago.
Two different pc's, operating sys and providers too.

I think preview quit working correctly when the up/down voting arrows were added.

Have you two let SuperG know?

He's not psychic. He can't fix problems if he doesn't know they exist.

Preview works fine. But you can't post after you preview - the POST button on the Preview page does not work.

But you can copy your text after you Preview, hit the back button, paste, and then Post.

I've emailed support with the comments above.

Please don't be too harsh. The picture is cute.

And it's even on topic.

What I don't want is 50 billion other examples of ASCII art posted as "tests."

Is the modifications by Prof Goose the reason why TOD was down for a while today?

PG is not the one who does the tech stuff. SuperG is our web admin, and he made the change.

And no, this was not the reason TOD was down for so long last night. SuperG said it was a malicious attack. Bot-driven, and probably not personal. Just hackers looking for vulnerable servers. Ours isn't, but the traffic was enough to take the site down temporarily.

Hackers worry me. Saw a programme on Australian TV a few nights ago where some patriotic Chinese hackers are working out how to disable the West. Programme said there were several hundred thousand of them in hacking clubs and supposedly they disabled the power supply in North East US a year or so ago.
Guess the olympic games were boring to watch so they made their own fun.

These days, most hackers aren't doing it for fun. They're doing it for profit.

Interesting...the PC I'm on right now got it's first ever virus quarantined and removed by Norton AV last night as well.

i quit the window's world a long time ago. viva la gentoo :P

Monthly Averages of World Oil Production (Crude plus Condensate), With Monthly Average Spot Price:

Month &   Monthly Avg       12-Month Avg      Monthly Avg
Year      Oil Production    Oil Production    Spot Price
          Thousand bbl/day  Thousand bbl/day  USD
Jan-07    72,823            73,410             $54.51
Feb-07    73,066            73,366             $59.28
Mar-07    73,007            73,331             $60.44
Apr-07    73,249            73,308             $63.98
May-07    72,770            73,229             $67.49
Jul-07    72,905            73,136             $74.12
Aug-07    72,262            73,016             $72.36
Sep-07    73,073            72,988             $79.91
Oct-07    73,726            72,985             $85.80
Nov-07    73,434            72,988             $94.77
Dec-07    73,913            73,050             $91.69
Jan-08    73,991            73,147             $92.97
Feb-08    74,176            73,240             $95.39
Mar-08    74,286            73,346            $105.45
Apr-08    73,901            73,401            $112.58
May-08    74,481            73,543            $125.40

Source: US Energy Information Administration, July 2008 International Petroleum Monthly and Petroleum Navigator.

It works! Yeah! :o)


Wolf in YVR BC

If you can't get it up after 3.5 years, you've peaked :(

Does everyone who knows about these matters agree that those figures are accurate?

That is about the most easily read, concise, convincing argument for Peak Oil that I have seen yet.

Are there any remaining unknown unknowens?

The oil production numbers are often revised. From what I understand, the EIA data is among the best that can be easily accessed (approximately free). How accurate the production figures really are is difficult to ascertain.

Given that the recent crude-oil price spike to ~$133/bbl (WTI) average for Jun & Jul has occurred on a world oil production "plateau" and indeed may have happened during a slight upswing in production, one is left wondering what the price response will be when global production starts to decline. According to WT, the recent price rise is perhaps largely due to a "bidding war" over declining net exports. Net exports would likely decline even faster with diminishing production rates. Thus, sharply higher prices can be anticipated.

In regards to the data, I wonder how many of us on TOD will ever see Peak Oil in the "rear-view mirror." At a minimum, three to five years of production declines would likely be required to prove peak. It's an open question as to wether-or-not any of the agencies that provide oil production figures will still be functional five years after peak, and, if they are still operating, if the data will be freely accessible. There's also the potential for data manipulation (for the conspiracy-minded among us :o) In any event, what this means is that when Peak Oil has/is occurred/ing is largely a personal judgment based on the available information.


Wolf in YVR BC

I wonder how many of us on TOD will ever see Peak Oil in the "rear-view mirror."

You can already see 2 underlying peaks bounding the crude oil plateau:

Fig 1c: a peak in 2005
Fig 1d: a peak of hitherto growing countries shaping up now

I posted the graphs here:

It's an open question as to wether-or-not any of the agencies that provide oil production figures will still be functional five years after peak, and, if they are still operating, if the data will be freely accessible.

In that case the peak will have become self-evident anyway, even without looking at statistics.

I would disagree that these numbers, by themselves, constitute a convincing argument for Peak Oil. One only has to ask whether oil production has ever plateaued like this before. Reviewing the historical production numbers in the Energy Export Databrowser one sees that world oil production spent the first half of the 1980's in retreat and only regained the 1980 highs by the end of the decade:

Discrepancy between consumption and production represents the uncertainty in the numbers.

The early 1980's were years of major economic and political upheaval throughout the world accompanied by huge jumps in the price of oil. This combination caused a noticeable decline in the amount of oil consumed and, hence, produced.

Today we are once again in a period of major economic and political upheaval accompanied by huge jumps in the price of oil. It is conceivable, though I expect unlikely, that demand for oil could actually decline below current production capacity with a concomitant decline in oil prices. Such a development would cause many to disregard the message of Peak Oil if the argument for it is only based on production numbers or price.

So no. To me 17 months of bound-to-be-revised production numbers do not constitute a convincing or reliable argument. More information about historical trends in discovery, total production, production per well and national and per capita consumption rates are needed to make a scientifically rigorous argument that the availability of oil is about to decline. Taken together, these trends make what I consider to be a very convincing argument that cannot be discounted by a single month's or even year's increase in production or decrease in price.

Making the data behind these historical trends easily accessible is what I'm trying to do with the databrowser.

Happy Exploring!

-- Jon

"More information about historical trends in discovery...."

er...... discoveries have been declining more or less continuously since about the '80's.

Elwood made the point about discoveries, let me make the point about inventories and surplus. Oil **production** could decline because people were conserving, CAFE standards in the US had jumped and a lot of people wanted economical cars.

Most importantly, it could decline because there was a very large gap between production and consumption. Oil went to $10 dollars because OPEC had little discipline and worked against itself, the North Sea was producing a lot and Alaska was ramping up.

None of those things are true today. This plateau reflects maximum capacities being reached, not oversupply.

This is all pretty self-evident, I'd think, and should not be ignored while you seek your data.


Canada's tough talk over the Arctic is laughable and tragic.

Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn said Friday joint research with Denmark had found that the undersea Lomonosov Ridge is attached to the North American and Greenland plates, directly challenging a Russian claim.

The Russian bear is playing hardball these days. The Beijing Olympics is a backdrop to some pretty serious geo-politics.

Which begs the question, could Canada even challenge the Kremlin to a snowball fight and win?

Sigh... oh bring back the glory days of 1972 and the world of Canada-Russia Hockey. At least Canada had backbone then, even if it was sometimes focussed on skates.


What is being missed in the cacphony of "it's mine" claims are the following points:

1)The voices of conservationists are being virtually ignored.
2)Is is not certain by any means that the basins hold large qauntities of economically revoverable hydrocarbons.
3)The technical cahllenges of drilling in such an inhospitable place hav not yet been fully addressed

To me it's a ll a big rush to the unknown. Hydrocarbons 15+years away, at best? Maybe in 15+ years time we really will be desperate!


Ya, no backbone. Bunch of chicken sh-ts. How short is the American memory, and how tragic.

Most Americans think WWII was five years from 1941 to 1945. Sorry, but Canada was in there kicking some serious Nazi butt starting in 1939. And, Canada trained up the U.S. special forces prior to 1941 in covert training camps in Kingston. But that's ancient history.

I guess Canadians are such terrible whusses that the country is routinely ranked as the best country in the world to live - or in the top three- far ahead of the U.S. What hasn't been made clear in U.S. adolescent foreign policy is that if you have to make your point at the end of a gun, you've already lost.

The Natural Resources Ministry is simply countering the geological claims made by Russia and nothing more. Who ever mentioned anything about chest thumping, sabre rattling or aggression? Are you that devolved?

I guess we'll just run home and hide behind mommy's apron while taking all that natural gas and oil with us. Like I've said before, be nice to your neighbours, they've got you by the short ones.

And don't even ask about water...

It's all well and good to be progressive, intellectual, and "above" resorting to violence when times are good. You get to spend money on stuff other than the military, and pacifism sounds ever so nice and civilized.

But when an army shows up at your door, or sailing through "your" offshore fields, then what? Just because you don't resort to violence is no guarantee that other won't.

Current Events review. Canada happens to be in Afghanistan and losing soldiers too. You know, the other war. The one that was supposed to be about going after the terrorists responsible for 9/11. I will not stand by while someone else calls Canada "laughable".

We have been mostly responsible for keeping the peace around here. We were the only ones in Rwanda trying to avert the genocide while the other countries stood by the side lines because there wasn't oil or precious metals at stake. If anyone is feeling pangs of shame, they're not misplaced. But where it really hits home is some Americans wear Canadian flags when traveling abroad.

While living and working in S. American I would occasionally get the snide derision of "Gringo Rico". They didn't think I could speak Spanish (which is a natural assumption given the behaviour I saw from a few Americans on the project). I would respond with "No estoy Gringo. Estoy Canadiense." Then their faces would light up and I would have amigos wherever I went. I was known as the Canadiense, and people were happy to make the distinction.

What also hasn't been learned obviously is all the American aggression, interfering and military build up has, in the end, been very counter productive. Just look at the real cost of gasoline for Americans once direct military spending for oil assets and transportation are included. $8/gal, that's around the true cost. Great investment, real wise.

And the Ruskies can sail through our off shore fields all they like. We might even invite them in for coffee or tea.

Touche'. I actually like Canada and Canadians, though I did get laughed at a bit while doing my best to manage even basic pleasantries in French during a visit (heck, I figured I'd get some points for trying at least!). It'd been 20 years since French II after all!

I think Rwanda and Darfur were massive missed opportunities for meaningful intervention, and such examples are largely why I think our civilization will crash. If the UN can't solve battles involving primitive weapons how can it handle superpower struggles?

i met some canadians back in the late '60's and they were jealous that the american youth got to fight in a war. just macho teenage glorification of war, i didnt hold it against them.

I usually have a fleur de lis when abroad, and when questioned, say that it is the symbol of New Orleans. No problems EXCEPT when I was mistaken for a French Royalist !

Best Hopes for an end of the Bourbon Dynasty,


That is where all of things that GWB and the neocons are actively against come into play. Collective security, alliances, international law, United Nations.

You do exaggerate the abilities of military power. Oil infrastructure in particular is very fragile. See MEND in Nigeria.

I have seen "conservatives" make absurd claims about how easy it will be to clear the Straits of Hormuz from Iranian "interference", and even how easy it will be to take over their oil fields.


The problem is that global gov'ts (like the UN) suffer from the same issues a a nat'l gov't only worse -- corruption, vice, realpolitiking, lobbying, and popularity contests -- but on other people's dimes.

Destroying infrastructure is much easier than building it or protecting it, so diplomacy is the better path, but military deterrence is part of the equation as well. Still, my concern isn't our ability to accomplish diplomatic goals, but a growing fear that our world influence plan is just like our energy plan -- we really don't have one, and what we do have is a cobbled-up conglomeration of special interests without much cohesion or vision.

Please note that I put "conservatives" in quote marks.

And yes, some sort of deterrence is needed. And as Iran MAY have decided, and North Korea certainly has, teh easiest and most certain deterrence is nuclear weapons.

During WW II, the Swiss mined all the bridges and tunnels and would have destroyed all of the infrastructure before losing it. A "burnt earth" defense and deterrence. And one that works extremely well with oil infrastructure.


If you really think you need an army to protect your country, you have watched too much tv.

The only reason countries have (big) armies like they have today is that their government can go and bomb foreign countries and make a good tv appearance from it. And get reelected.

People don't need armies, governments need them. To get reelected.

are you replacing armies for the defense of country with armies for empire ?

the u s constitution , in it's preamble, clearly states the federal government's responsibility as in: "provide for the common defense".

doesnt authorize search for wmd's in a soverign country, however.

Sure it does. If a country has WMDs and is threatening us, it absolutely gives us the power to head off that threat. I don't see how that's not "providing for the common defense".

Iraq, on the other hand, didn't meet that criteria.

In a decade or two, a desperate United States might forget about that whole War of 1812 torching-of-the-White-House thing, and make a play for Canadas mineral wealth. We could possably see Canada/Commonwealth making an alliance with a resurgent Russia, and splitting the Arctic booty.

Or not.

I guess we'll just run home and hide behind mommy's apron while taking all that natural gas and oil with us. Like I've said before, be nice to your neighbours, they've got you by the short ones.

Having lots of natural resources and a long undefended border with the world's largest military power is a fine position while everyone is playing nice, but it could have downsides if TSHTF.

My sentiments exactly. I somewhat facetiously comment that there will come a day where the U.S. will enact "Abrams" diplomacy; that is, tanks lined up along the border. But then, they might only have enough fuel to make it to Vancouver. (30 miles). Then they'll hit the mountains and it will turn out much the same as Afghanistan.

I've learned a lot playing Sid Meir's Civilization. I've learned that to overtake a reasonably equitable civilization takes massive, massive amounts of resources and inflicts severe, severe costs. Plus, the chances of being significantly successful are at best a coin toss. Although I build up a huge military power, I can't always get to project my hegemony as I would like and find it better just to trade and keep out of conflicts.

I've also learned that if I build up a lot of military power, I want to use it.

I think it should be mandatory for all personnel entering foreign relations and Administrations spend their first two weeks playing this game. If this were policy were enacted, I guarantee Iraq never would have happened.

Actually, I think your biggest threat from the US in the future will be immigration. We will become your Mexico. As millions of Americans become destitute, they will stream North across the border, straining your resources.

Unfortunately, we may not be as hard-working and compliant as the Mexicans who currently come into this country (I generalize of course, but this seems to be overwhelmingly the case from what I can see), and may instead appeal to the US to pressure you into providing services etc. for us.

My point is, don't feel too secure. No matter what you do right, if the US becomes the largest failed state in the world, living next to us will be no fun.

In another blog some while ago I was chiding others that should the mass migration north happen we wouldn't put Americans to work as gardeners, house keepers and fruit pickers. One guy got piqued thinking we wouldn't provide jobs. No, we would treat our immigrants a little better is all.

There are members of the Vancouver Peak Oil Executive that have created high level plans for a population increase to 30 million in the northwest (our southwest BTW).

You're right Consumer, if the U.S. goes tits up it won't matter what we do, we're going down in the undertow as well. I spend a lot of energy emphasizing this point to other Canadians that think we will exist in relative isolation apart from the woes of the neighbour to the south. That's also one reason why I suggested the next BC Power Conference for 2009 rescope itself to include Cascadia - the far western region of the U.S. and Canada.

We're all in it together, especially with energy infrastructure.

I'm an aficionado of Civilization, too, and have thought similar things, especially the part about having people in certain government posts play the game to get a feel for the limits of using force to achieve one's ends.

In addition to what you point out about difficulty projecting military power, I have also noticed:

  • growth happens with resources. As I play the game (or run the simulation, if you will), I devote most of my time to identifying, securing and developing resources. "Growth happens with resources" may sound blindingly obvious but it's one thing to understand it intellectually and quite another to experience having that knowledge operating without conscious intervention.
  • I too have felt the strong pull of using the military when it's available. It's astonishing how often I find myself saying, "It wouldn't cost too many units to take over that city...I can certainly spare them..."

There is a PC demo available here and a Mac demo here for those who want to see for themselves.


Now we've done it!! Leanan is going to have to start a whole new section on TOD just for the Civilization junkies we've instigated. They might start an online Civ IV game room here, and then we'll all turn into despots.

Yes, I agree, acquiring resources is paramount to a strong and growing civilization. And, I never build coal power plants unless I absolutely need to. They got that part right too. Don't you love it when you get multiple oil finds though?

Might download Civ IV tonight.

Yeah, I was a Civilization addict, I hated it when the curbed research advancement in Civ III. What's wrong with having small but technologically advanced civilizations? British gatling guns against bamboo armor and spears was the key to taking the Suez.

If you enjoy civ you will love Hearts of Iron.

Don't forget Freeciv, the open source interpretation of the same game, which is available FREE for Linux, Windows and other OS here:


"I think it should be mandatory for all personnel entering foreign relations and Administrations spend their first two weeks playing this game."

Yup; and Rome-Total War. Makes the real world quite understandable.
Grab the resources, limit your enemy's growth.
For the first few years of Iraq, I thought somebody in the admin was playing Civ.

Don't forget Dieppe.

Yes it was unsuccessful, but it took some serious stones for those 6,000 Canadian infantrymen to hit the beaches of occupied France in 1942.

That was well before Germany had to strip western Europe and throw everything it had into the teeth of the Red Army.

Ya, no backbone. Bunch of chicken sh-ts. How short is the American memory, and how tragic.

BTW BC_EE, I'm a Canuck. And a proud & feisty one, too!

Yes, Canada has had quite the military track record. Yes, Canada's Department of External Affairs was during the 1940s and 1950s one of the top ranked foreign ministries in the world. We ended WWII with the world's third largest navy and fourth largest army. We have an accomplished legacy of peacekeeping. We used to have clout on the international stage.

What irritates me is that we have been riding on these coattails. Today we rank 55th out of 108 countries in terms of contribution to UN peacekeeping missions. External Affairs "aint what she used to be". And the only weight that Canada seems to muster these days is in trade.

Thankfully, we have the oil sands. Otherwise, I think we'd be completely voiceless.

And thankfully we do live next door to the USA -- affords us enough security to spout off pacifist and smug prognostications and other gobbly-gook and get away with it.

Our boys are exposing their backsides in Afghanistan. This, at least, gives us limited leverage with the US.

In the rawness of geo-politics nobody gives a hoot about your niceness. Canadians spend a lot of time navel gazing and patting ourselves on the back. Sometimes this sham of piety is nothing more than wishful drivel.

My point is that Russia will ride rough shot over our claims in the Arctic.

By golly, we do have backbone. For heaven's sake, we're the people who burnt down the White House (in the War of 1812). We whipped Soviet ass in 1972. We do have spunk! We have shown glimmers of audacity by times!

IMO, it's bloody time we stopped being wuzzes and stood up for ourselves. B/c if we don't, nobody else is going to do it.

End of rant.

Agree with you on those points. I actually up voted you.

And, I guess this is comes at a time of an end to an era. My grandfather fought in WWII start to finish as he had the misfortune to be in the Army in 1939 and the only one who knew how to operate the 50 cal machine gun in Western Canada. My grandmother was one of the "greatest generation" and persevered through the Depression and WWII while Papa was away and wounded three times. She passed away this afternoon.

The chapter is closing. Lest We Never Forget.

My condolences BC_EE. An old fashioned sentiment here: my prayers are with you. May she rest in peace.

Yes, we are at the end of an era.

Lest We Never Forget.

Dear BC_EE,

I'd also like to offer condolences to you and your family. Such an amazing span of history and change she saw and lived through, with what sounds like strength and love.

I put up a separate Georgia conflict open thread, since this continues to be a big issue. Nate has gone fishing for a few days, so I am helping out for a while.

Futures Chain for Crude Oil

To my surprise, despite the 20%+ short term decline and downward momentum, the futures market is pricing in slightly higher prices through 2009 (Mar 09, $116.46), and thereafter, a slight discount out to 2016 ($111.17). As a speculator, might it be wise to accumulate positions for a few years out, starting immediately? Barring a worldwide recession, I believe it would be unlikely to see crude fall below $80 or so given our tight supply/demand environment. Dips like these are where long term bulls should be accumulating positions.

For every buyer in the futures market there is a seller. Are you absolutely sure that you know more than that seller? Further, can you stand to be whipped around by volatile price, as the markets get closer to delivery? Margin calls comply with Murphy’s Law and always come at the worst possible time. Good luck.

I see it as more of a gamble than an investment, and not to be done on borrowed money. But if I had $11,500 to gamble with today, I might buy a super mini lot (100 bbl) expiring a couple yrs out, and dollar cost average by making subsequent purchases at 3, 6, and 9 months from now. If prices rise during geopolitical strife or natural disasters, take some profits, and sit on the rest of the contracts til they expire. I think the rewards of higher prices are greater than the risks of lower prices on a long term basis, but there are no sure things.

I would do it, but wait for a buy signal. We're starting to get signs of a bottom, but not a real buy signal yet.

Re: decreasing population in Europe up top. Not a crisis but a cause for celebration. Was Europe so bad back when it had half the population it has now? The challenge will be providing for old people but that beats the challenge of providing for an out of control population that will bump up against resource limits and cause mass starvation and dieoff.

Anyway, methinks those who think this is a crisis are primarily driven by considerations of nationalistic, cultural, and racial chauvinism. Not pick on the French, but they do have a pro natal policy. As if the world really needs to encourage more children.

Tainter notes that population growth slows or even reverses as a society approaches collapse. This is usually seen as a problem by the government of the society. They need more people: laborers, soldiers, taxpayers. So they try to reverse the declining birth rates using tactics like offering incentives to people to have children, caring for abandoned children, and feeding the breeding females at the expense of the rest of the population.

This time, I think modern contraceptives along with changing societal roles for women have a lot more to do with a lower European birth rate than anything else.

It seems as if motherhood has roughly the same attraction in modern societies as doing field labor. That is, when given the chance to not experience it, many people will take exactly that choice.

A choice which was unavailable for women even a century ago. Let's be honest - birth control was more or less illegal in the U.S. until the 1960s, a Supreme Court decision roughly in the same time frame as allowing marriage between black and white Americans. And the idea of rape within a marriage being illegal is even more modern than that.

The human population dilemma is two fold.

For half the world the problem is fertility rates are too high.

For the other half, the problem is mortality rates are too low.

For those of us who live in western countries, the near term population problem will be pension funding. One generation didn't replicate itself in sufficient numbers to support itself in its aging years.

While do-gooders may feel good handing out condoms and preaching birth control to the poorest of the poor of the world, it's the affluent boomers of the west who continue to squander and eat away the resources.

May be what the world really needs is an old fashioned pandemic. Seriously, it could actually balance things out.

war and disease has been the lot of concentrated populations since the development of settled agriculture, and Paleocon seems to think it will ever be thus. I don't buy that our reptile brains absolutely control the future of the world -- that is just one story.

There is still time for the human race to make some better choices -- but the options seem to be closing rapidly.

"If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice." - Rush (the group, not the talk-show host)

The irony is that those who would chose meaningful change will see the collapse coming yet be powerless to prevent it and will largely share the fate of those who are blindly ignorant and merely surprised when it comes. It's the curse of the prophet. To maximize time-value of happiness you have to be ignorantly optimistic, the resulting integral of "ignorance is bliss".

Good chance to clear something up here...

To decide is not the same as to choose. To decide comes from the same family of words as homicide, regicide, fratricide, pesticide, etc. and it means "to select after eliminating (i.e. killing off) alternatives."

It is a good tool to have in the toolbox but not the only one.

To choose is "to select freely after consideration" and does not rely on reasons, otherwise it would be deciding. Choosing is very difficult for humans to do. Even though we use the verb "to choose" often, it's just a synonym for "to decide" in the overwhelming majority of cases.

We're taught very early on that we must have a reason for everything we do, and that mental habit forces us into using decision. Even people who think they are choosing after seeing the distinction often are using decision but the reasons are just more hidden from their view.

So a better way for Rush to have expressed it would be: "If you do not make a selection, you have still made a selection." This gets choice and decision out of the picture unless one wants to meddle with the distinction between the two.


Ah, I have now learned something today! Is there an option for human choice to then be anything other than random, else devolving again to decisive?

I think the Rush wording is more lyrical, if less precise, but that's just bandying semantics. :) You could still choose not to decide, if the null were actually a free selection apart from the decision options.

To decide comes from the same family of words as homicide, regicide, fratricide, pesticide, etc. and it means "to select after eliminating (i.e. killing off) alternatives."

Hmm, who said, "I'm the decider."

But stop butchering Rush lyrics. That's unforgivable :-)

Each of us
A cell of awareness
Imperfect and incomplete
Genetic blends
With uncertain ends
On a fortune hunt that's far too fleet

But stop butchering Rush lyrics

I know, I know...I thought about that :-).


Is there an option for human choice to then be anything other than random, else devolving again to decisive?

That's an interesting question. I don't think so. The moment a reason comes into play, it's back to deciding. By definition choice must have no reason or you're actually talking about deciding.

I don't want to leave the impression that deciding is bad...it's not, it's actually incredibly useful and I use it often. But the mental process that is deciding can often bring people to the point where they think, "I have no choice in the matter" which is technically never true (because self-annihilation is always an option). But even if you were to modify the phrase to say, "I have no real choice in the matter," that too is a trap usually entered via the decision process.

Many, many bad things have come out of people thinking they have no choice in the matter...


This discussion is getting pretty rarified.

Most people I know "choose" what they feel is the best course, given the options they feel they have been presented -- the choice is made from their "gut" or intuition.

After the choice is made, they call it a "decision" and they use their rational faculty to justify having made it. Rationalism always seems to work backwards.

Neuro-anatomically speaking, this makes sense. The paleocortex is much better suited to rapid action in response to opportunity or threat. The neocortex operates more slowly, and is encumbered with functions of elaborate memory and some kind of super-ego function that judges action and decision in relation to historical and social inputs.

For social evolution to take place -- the only kind of evolution that can result in a gradual predominance of the neo-cortex -- we will have to "choose" leaders who do not instantly shoot from the hip. History is full of such people, and that is presumably why the ideal of progress remains with us, and in some respects, small progress is made.

Somewhere else Paleocon doubted any evolution other than strict elimination of unfit DNA through natural selection of individuals. There do appear to be epigenetic inheritance mechanisms that allow acquired changes to influence the subsequent development of a species as a whole. That discussion takes us far afield -- but I have some faint hope that our human species can transcend our current infatuation with violent "solutions" and that there is some intellectual rigor behind that hope.

Population decline is a given as women achieve political and economic rights, as has happened in Europe. Even a female reaching a 6th grade education in a "developing" country reduces the birth rate 50%.
It's not that sex is less common, or the need to put forth those gene packages into the future (children), but women have control and choice, and reduce forced births from a ignorant patriarchal culture (insert any religious society here).

It is interesting that increasing education leads to lower fertility rates even at postgraduate level. Female holders of PhDs have 1.0 children on average. Which is understandable - they are likely to delay childbirth until their early thirties, then have only one as they try to juggle childcare with their career.

Agree. If the U.S. has a 2.1 fertility rate, then it follows that the reason for our projected increase from 300 and some million people now to ~420M in 2050 will be due to immigration. I sympathize with the goals of poorer people wishing to improve their lot and also wishing to live with more freedoms, but it would better serve all for the U.S. to fund, provide expertise, guidance, persuasion, etc. for Mexico and other less-well-off countries to practice their own birth control (2.1 children per woman is the mark for population stability) and to create their own jobs in a sustainable economy and to promote governments that feature accountability, transparency, and personal liberties. This is surely preferable to the lazy approach of encouraging corrupt foreign regimes so we make a buck from their cheap resources and manufacturing (with lax labor and enviro laws) and to turning a blind eye to immigrants streaming across the borders, again so we can industry make a few more bucks from cheap labor and homeowners can save a few bucks from cheap yardwork and roofers, etc. Yes, it will be nice when the U.S. starts leading by example again...holding my breath for that happy day.

The whole undertone of that (and other such) articles is that declining birthrates will be some kind of catastrophe...nothing is further from the truth. WHat if a county shrinks its population to a sustainable level (say, 200M for the U.S.) and then supports a 2.1 fertility rate from then on? How about we do that now, and sustain the 300 and some odd million U.S. people now...all for the price of, on average, each woman having 2.1 children? Then change our technologies and lifestyles to have the services we want with less ecological footprint.

The problem always is, when one proposes population stability, a huge portion of the people balk at what they see as the prospect of 'stagnation'....no growth seems to equal a failed society to them, one without prospect of new achievements and with the prospect of diminishing stature and greatness. Stability of production and consumption is interpreted as not having any further new ideas, new inventions, new understanding and knowledge, and ultimately boredom, malaise, and decay. I call shenanigans on that poppycock.

The real issue is that the economic system is based on growth and we can't imagine any other paradigm. If the U.S. population stabilized, then we wouldn't have much demand to build new houses. Housing demand would turn on the number of houses that were damaged or destroyed every year from hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, fire, earthquake, accidents, and some amount due to general decay and disrepair. Perhaps even those numbers could be shrunk by building houses more robustly and siting them away from the greatest hazard areas. As people died their houses would be available for others. This prospect scares the heck out of KB Homes, Home Depot, and a lot of economists. The market for building materials, realtors, and so forth would decline and stabilize at a much lower level. The same could be imagined of the automobile market...no increasing population, combined with low-maintenance electric vehicles made of composites that do not rust = a smaller market for cars overall.

The idea of living like Hobbits on the Shire or even like Vulcans (in this case population stability combined with advanced science knowledge) is anathema to many people. They just cannot imagine stability in population, production, and consumption...they cannot imagine a no-growth World.

An equally scary corollary is that they cannot seem to understand that the World is finite and cannot imagine or accept the consequences of continual growth, or even worse, they may prefer to live in a growth-oriented society and accept that the cliff is coming and don't care.

The answers ares so close, yet so far. Small is beautiful.

There is a tragedy of the commons hiding here as well, in that any society (say, Europe?) that manages negative or static growth risks losing proportional influence versus massively growing but poorer countries. Immigration (whether legal, illegal, or with a wave of tanks at the front) seems to threaten the entire notion of localized population control.

The natural extension of this would be to answer the question, "How can you reasonably get the entire world to practice functional birth control"?

I am not sure you can, and that has long been the nexus of my feeling of "doom".

Exactly - the solution is precisely what Jay Hanson said way back when he ran dieoff.org - that humanity would need a world government with draconian powers to stop us from doing exactly what we were naturally selected to do. It's a horrible thought but if you realize what the ultimate alternative is, you realize we're caught between a rock and a hard place.

If the U.S. has a 2.1 fertility rate, then it follows that the reason for our projected increase from 300 and some million people now to ~420M in 2050 will be due to immigration.

Uhhh... this is not really true. If the fertility rate is 2.1, and immigration is zero, we would still experience population growth but possibly not up to 420M. It depends on the median age of, and proportion of, child-bearing women in the US. China's fertility is ~1.7 and I doubt they have much immigration, yet their population is going to grow until sometime mid-century.

He also sees evidence in the ice cores for the consequences of the Black Death (a drop of around two parts per million of CO2 as forests grew over abandoned fields, absorbing carbon from the atmosphere), as well as other historic events. [Toplink Words of Warming

If the Black Death caused a drop of 2ppm given the scale of human activity at the time, then - scaling up for current economic activity - perhaps something of the same order of magnitude and proportion might be what we need as a species. China's economic reductions locally around the Olympics - only worldwide - might also be the right order of magnitude. I don't have a clue how to analyze what the right future paradigm might be, but it's starting to feel like a lot less than the 2 billion number often thrown around.

And I really don't like where thinking like that leads me.

cfm in Gray, ME

Credit crisis triggers unprecedented response: Worst debt turmoil since Depression sparks government action

"We have a banking crisis and an agency crisis and a mortgage crisis and a coming credit card crisis. We've never seen anything like that before. And it all seems to be coming home to roost at the same time. That's never happened either," said Charles Geisst, professor of finance at Manhattan College. He said the Great Depression was the last time financial markets were hammered by such a variety of factors. "But we did not even have credit cards in the 1930s; there were no such thing as student loans," he added.

The breadth and speed of events have sent federal officials scrambling to plug leaks in the financial system. In the process, the government has bound taxpayers to the fate of a wide variety of banks and borrowers and could ultimately be responsible for losses in the tens of billions of dollars or more, according to estimates by congressional reports and interviews with regulators.

I haven't been able to find a free version of this article from the WSJ:

Fannie Cuts Support for Mortgage Market

Fannie Mae is reining in its support for the mortgage market, a move that will deal a fresh blow to housing prices and that underlines the conflict between the firm's public and private obligations.

On Friday, Fannie, the largest buyer of U.S. home loans, disclosed it is slowing its purchases of mortgage-related securities to preserve capital. The move will likely bring about higher borrowing costs for homeowners, and hurt the already hobbled market for these securities.

At the same time, Fannie said it would focus on snapping up larger-size residential mortgages that make up slightly under a quarter of the $10 trillion home-loans market. Fannie said it would focus on the so-called jumbo loan market in a move to shore up its profits.

another recent interview (released on August 9) with Matt Simmons can be found here.

at 15'15" he talked about the plan to build the biggest offshore wind farm (on 90 to 95 platforms) in the gulf of Maine with the equivalent electric generation capacity of 5 nuclear power plants.

at 17'30" in response to the interviewer's comment of that's electricity but "we have a liquid fuel problem", Simmons: we'll have enough electricity to create liquid ammonia from ocean water through electrolysis.

at 17'57" Simmons: "And once the liquid ammonia is there, we can then start experimenting of what you have to do to dilute the energy and actually to have a replacement for auto gasoline. So that is really the holy grail. Will that be odd that turns out that liquid ammonia from our oceans through electricity turn out to be the savior?"

the "dilute" part is confusing, not sure if I heard it correctly.

in the same interview Simmons also gave this opinion: if we put our act together, we can pull ourselves out of this deep energy hole in seven years. sounds almost like an antidoomer.

I think most of us here, even the doomers, think we can pull ourselves out. The question is if we will.

Obviously, Simmons believes there's a way out, or why would he spend so much time trying to warn people? If you really think there's no hope, you should do as Rainwater did, quietly set up your peak oil hideaway, and batten down the hatches.

Deffeyes, despite his "back to the Stone Age" comment, says in his book that he think peak oil will mean a bad ten years, then we'll adjust. So he, too, thinks there's a way out.

However, I'm not sure Simmons really understands EROEI, and I'm not sure Deffeyes understands how our economic system is tied to constant growth.

Even if we do get through this, what awaits on the other side is not BAU, and I'm not sure even Simmons understands this.

I actually meant to put it as a question so it should be a "?" rather than a "." at the end. if I really think there's no hope or any hideaways that can work for sure, would I even be here to point out, again and again, the way out? at least Simmons gets part of it. so there is some hope. unfortunately, he hasn't got the urgency of the climate change part yet.

OTOH, I am more sure Simmons and his people (unfortunately, again, he said one of them is the designer of the star war program) understands EROEI than you understand the solution itself. the wind in gulf of Maine in the winter as part of the polar winter cyclone is on the average of 3kw/m2 almost nonstop which will be used directly as electricity for the heating needs in Maine. in the off-heating season, the surplus of electricity will be used to produce NH3.

...which will be used directly as electricity for the heating needs in Maine...

Unfortunately, the power will be shipped out of state because operators can make more money selling it in CT and NYC than they can in Maine. It's called the Commerce Clause in the Constitution. And it's why both Bangor Hydro and CMP have built massive interconnects going out of state in the last few years. A membership owned co-op or muni could get around that but there would be no way under current law to prevent a multinational corporation from selling the power to highest bidder and leaving Mainers in the dark.

cfm in Gray, ME

I think most of us here, even the doomers, think we can pull ourselves out.

I question that statement. Most doomers, like myself, see the problem as far greater than just peak oil. Our topsoil is washing away, and being blown away, at about 100 times the rate it is being replaced. Water tables are dropping meters per year, rivers and lakes are drying up. Forest are disappearing, species are going extinct, pollution is killing off bees and other insects, the planet is heating up and peak oil and I could go on and on and on and.....

It is the synchronicity of all these things that will doom us, not peak oil alone. The world is at the brink of collapse anyway and peak oil will be the one thing that just pushes us over the edge, the straw that will break the camel's back. Or more correctly, the increased stress put upon the planet and its people because of the absence of cheap energy will push us over the cliff, the cliff from which we are already teetering at the edge.

We are deep, deep into overshoot. The planet cannot possibly support 6.6 billion people for very much longer even if we were to never have peak oil.

I know of no doomer who actually sees the big picture who still believes we can pull ourselves out of this mess without a massive die-off. And if you can actually find such a doomer, then he/she obviously does not see the big picture. He/she probably sees only the peak oil picture.

Ron Patterson

The world is at the brink of collapse anyway and peak oil will be the one thing that just pushes us over the edge

Ron, I hear Champagne and a bottle of sleeping tablets is quick and painless.

OTOH there won't be much doom when you get to heaven, so go to hell!! - Only joking Ron, I always enjoy speaking with you. Don't do it man!


A cynic is a person who realizes that realism and pessimism are synonymous.

I think there is a strong negative correlation with age and optimism.

Yes, ignorance is bliss, and it gets harder and harder to be ignorant as you get older.

So optimism and intelligence are mutually exclusive?

And youth is synonymous with ignorance?

That really is the biggest cloud of bovine gas i've ever heard!

Marco, lighten up, Consumer said nothing of the sort. He was just agreeing with you. And blind optimism is the bedfellow of blind faith, both both are children of ignorance. And by ignorance I mean simply "not knowing", and "not wanting to know any more about the subject under discussion".

In my lifetime I have seen the population of the world triple! I have seen most of the fish in the sea disappear. I have seen a thousand other things which most younger people simply believe is normal, business as usual. A person my age who is still an optimist simply has not been paying attention. He has blinders on because of he could simply not face the world without them.

Me... I can face the world, I have good bourbon.

Ron Patterson

Yes I need to chill some. Sorry Consumer about the cow gas remark.

I have seen a thousand other things

some amazing achivements and remrkable acts of humanitarianism aswell i'll bet!


Ah, yes-s-s..., the magic elixir!

Do you have grandchildren? For me, I cannot enjoy a state of bleak pessimism, as to rob my children of their time of youthful optimism and exuberance would be a worse crime still. The best I can come up with is to help them learn to keep their head up, their eyes open, be resourceful and self-sufficient, and reasonable in their expectations so they can enjoy life regardless.

And youth is synonymous with ignorance?

It certainly was in my case. I recently made a list of things I used to believe in, and no longer believe in. It was over 65 (not counting anything to do with Peak Oil or Global Warming). And I'm not even 40 yet.

And people used to accuse me of being a cynic even when I was 16, so it's not as if I was unusually gullible....

And youth is synonymous with ignorance?

Maybe not, however it does seem to have a direct correlation with lack of wisdom...

There are exceptions, of course, like McCain. At a certain point, the problem you identify may reverse itself due to dementia and alzheimer's. Poor memory can be a blessing as it helps you forget the bad stuff. I find that as I get older, I don't hold grudges as much. Maybe that is just because I forget what I was supposed to be pissed off about in the first place. Or maybe because I have become wiser. Maybe wisdom is just another word for memory loss.

Hi Leanna and nh3,

This is interesting, here we have some vague idea that we will pull ourselves out of this.

Yet there is no R&D, nor even a sketch on the drawing board.

Like most techno-fixes, there is little capital, time, or fossil energy to do this. This is a trillion dollar infrastructure development to develop the electric power for this vague plan.

The focus on squeezing a little more energy out of the earth distracts from a focus on contingency planning.

And worse, it gives people false hopes that we will pull ourselves out of this.

This is one reason why the average person ignores Peak Oil. Why worry if someone will come up with something?

Anyone want to buy a bridge I've got for sale over in Brooklyn?

Yet there is no R&D, nor even a sketch on the drawing board.

the R&D actually was done long (25+ years) ago as part of defense spendings.

what would be the suggested contingency planning for the people in Maine? all pack up and move to Mexico? chop down every tree to keep themselves warm for a short while?

What would be the suggested contingency planning for the people in Maine? all pack up and move to Mexico? chop down every tree to keep themselves warm for a short while?

More or less, yes. The problem seems to be defined as a "shortage of loggers". Not that the forests have already been cut over several times and are mostly spoken for. The Governor will hold spaghetti suppers to raise money for heating assistance. The political classes in Maine are not touched yet - except in the head.

Order the Guard home to lay rail, build community gardens and insulate homes. Require the utilities to include financing for appliance upgrades in the "standard offer". Strip corporations of "personhood" so that local resources cannot be looted. Ban most incandescent lighting. Not going to happen - at least not this year.

cfm in Gray, ME

Order the Guard home to lay rail, build community gardens and insulate homes. Require the utilities to include financing for appliance upgrades in the "standard offer". Strip corporations of "personhood" so that local resources cannot be looted. Ban most incandescent lighting. Not going to happen - at least not this year.

   Hey that's pretty good!

  I was just thinking the other day that "all we need" is to line the US Freeway System with electric rail, with "futuristic" high capacity power lines run underneath for the new grid, which may be able to run electric cars eventually (where's Tesla when you need him!), so that batteries could be used for the short trips around town and country drives.

Oh, and we need a few trillion dollars.

The Guard people already have jobs to return to, but I'm sure there would be plenty of takers for well-paying jobs doing the insulation and other infrastructure construction work. Like the people who AREN'T building houses right now!

Selling only higher-efficiency appliances and taxing incandescent bulbs while offering rebates for high-efficiency products would probably work fine.

I can't get behind the corporate part. Most corporations are law-abiding out of self-interest, but precisely so where it makes sense to be that way. Clear regulations work just fine -- you just have to get lobbyists and politicians to be decent, and that's WAY harder than getting a corporation to 'behave'.

ah but thats the thing. remove personhood and the corporations no longer have a legal loophole to have lobbyists lobby the government. not the mention there would be a gigantic new pressure for them to do things right the first time. thats because removing personhood would also make the shareholder's responsible for the actions of the company, this would cause them to be hyper sensitive about following the laws.

Hi Paleo,

re: "Most corporations are law-abiding out of self-interest, but precisely so where it makes sense to be that way."

Hmnn...Law-abiding...as in, making the laws that they then work within?

Or, interpreting the laws?

Or, changing the laws - and regulations - via the lobbying pf politicians?

The laws of the WTO, for example.

What about corporations "without borders" (so to speak)? What about the corporations moving their activities, such as manufacturing, to countries where "regulations" are anything but clear? (Or, perhaps the word is "enforceable".)

Examples and links. Air quality. Human rights. Wages.

Hi again Paleo,

I thought I'd better add at least one reference.


Water Privatization in Developing Countries: A Definition and Case Study

Multilateral Institutions Create and Maintain Reliance on Foreign Capital for Resources

Much of the blame for the problems of privatization lie within the fact that countries with a water crises are so far in debt that their only option is privatization, thus the lenders along with their corporations can effectively “take over” the resources of a country for private profit. Often, they build up only the water networks that are absolutely necessary and don’t focus on the host of surrounding problems that will eventually cause their privatization efforts to fail (corruption, urban migration, even questions about water and land ownership). For the purposes of narrowing the focus to a case study of a failed water privatization effort, this paper will examine the events in Cochabamba, Bolivia, where private Western developers with the approval of the IMF and World Bank attempted to capitalize water resources, thus moving away from the traditional municipal system that previously dominated.

I've been cogitating on these things, and have some thoughts and perhaps questions as well.

Let's take it as a given that corporations act in their interest, and their stockholders, but not anybody elses.

Let's take it as a given that most people (and almost all corporations) will play the game such that "the tragedy of the commons" (TOTC) is unavoidable.

I submit that there is no ready market cure for the TOTC without an additional externally imposed structure, as it requires decisions for the common good over individual desires.

What multi-nationalism and globalism help create is a larger field for the TOTC to play out upon, as even if "we" create a reasonable structure for the common good, other places may not, and it is not in the best short-term interest of the individual that such happens, so no new market entrant is going to be a leader for additional regulation.

It is interesting to note that it IS in the best interest of the individual to constrain everyone else, so there is the opportunity for a feedback loop. Unfortunately, that isn't any better, as a majority would form a clique to vote they get all the grazing rights and nobody else gets any, and you're back to the same problem only with some disenfranchised players until you end up with a group that can self-limit (a cartel or monopoly).

Each entrant to a green-field, then, has the vested interest of quickly forming a monopoly or cartel to keep out competition, so that there is no TOTC, but instead no "commons" at all. I think this is what your water example exemplifies.

What is needed is a longer-term view that causes the short-term self-interest of the individual to align with his long-term best interests while preserving free-market competition. Over the long term, no sheep farmer benefits from overgrazing (the classic TOTC) as soon as the marginal yearly decrease of the field across his fraction of sheep exceeds the cost of another sheep. All that is needed to collapse the TOTC is for each farmer to have to buy grazing credits, the number of which are collectively determined according roughly to the carrying capacity of the field. Each farmer can then decide, based on his marginal costs and projections, whether buying enough credits and another sheep will make him money or not.

I think this is not a new solution (hence the notion of credits overall), but it is a new realization to me. Capitalism with corporate influence can only be viable and efficient when constrained by regulations that favor the common good, while preserving the free-market forces that are capitalism's primary value.

Capitalism with corporate influence can only be viable and efficient when constrained by regulations that favor the common good,

AND- Corporate capitalism can't be constrained by such regulations because through its wealth and corrupting influence its members are more powerful than any government.
Hence corporations are incompatible with sustainable civilisation. And there is no need for corporations anyway. They are primarily a product of greed, rationalised after the fact with b.s. about economies of scale.
Hence there needs to be a prohibition of all corporations and companies expanding beyond the most basic unit of a factory, a shop, etc.

I'm afraid I'm going to lose track of this thread, but I had to respond.

If not corporations, then what would do the "big" projects? I think you either have billionaire oil or rail-road magnates (with all the same issues you have with corporations) or gov't projects (which are even more corrupt and inefficient to boot).

I fair to see how you can eliminate corporations without having something as bad or worse fill the void.

You fail to see because you are making the wrong assumptions.

Who says that the "big" projects need to be done anyway? People lived well and more happily for many centuries without them. I think you'll find the main reason for the arising of these big projects has not been human need but human greed and the male ego need to show off- a form of organ extension into the institutional sphere.

This is one of the ideological paradigm shifts of my lifetime. When I was born the preoccupation was with public versus private. Now people are coming to recognise that both public and private are unacceptable if they are big (USSR/US). The only way to a decent society is small and local, genuine community. One positive thing of the end of oil is that this will be enabled by a dictat of physics that overrules all dictats of mere governments!

I think there is impossibility of consensus, because each person has his own definition of "pulling ourselves out", with varying scopes and acceptable lifestyles.

If humanity survives with a technologically preserved future, that is "best case" for many. To some though it's more localize, and if Americans can live in suburbs and drive electric cars we're OK, even if Africa and East Asia see starvation and suffering. For others, if we can't sustain the total population of the Earth we'll have failed (heck, we've failed already). Still others will jump off a building when their Hummer get's repo'd and their 401K evaporates.

Each of us will predict and judge the outcome based on their personal mores, vision, education, and beliefs. It's really not worth arguing over qualitatively, so let's just settle on quantitative measures of doom?

Paleocon, arguing, or more correctly debating, is what we do on this site. If anything on earth is worth arguing over, it is the subject of survival.

Yes there are many definitions of "pulling ourselves out" but basically it comes down to only two basic catagories. Those two are:
1. There will be no massive die-off. (Cornucopians)
2. There will be a massive die-off. (Doomers)

All other scenarios are merely sub-categories of these two. For instance under the first case there are those who believe it will be business as usual forever. Then those who believe that we can all survive but only with massive hardship and so on.

Under the second category there are those who believe only fifty billion or so who can survive. And the numbers range all the way up to perhaps two billion or so. And there are those who think the die-off will take up to 100 years and others who believe it will happen in perhaps 20 years.

But you correctly understand that: Each of us will predict and judge the outcome based on their personal mores, vision, education, and beliefs. One journalist, Sidney J. Harris, put it this way:

Each of us perceives what our past has prepared us to perceive. We select and distinguish, we focus on some objects and relationships and we blur others. We distort objective reality to make it conform to our needs or, our hopes, our fears, our hates, our envies, our affections. Our eyes and brains do not merely register some objective portrait of other persons or groups but our very active scene is warped by what we have been taught to believe, by what we want to believe and by what we need to believe.

However you are dead wrong in saying it is not worth arguing over. If you can produce argument that will show I am wrong, I will turn on a dime. I know because I have done so before.

Ron Patterson

Ron et al:

"However you are dead wrong in saying it is not worth arguing over. If you can produce argument that will show I am wrong, I will turn on a dime. I know because I have done so before."

I tend to believe that debating a ‘given’ is useless. Most of the things that you gave in your post about soil, climate, peak oil, etc. and I see constantly debated here are 'given'. Thus to debate those things, make pretty graphs showing whatever takes time away from action. It is a nice trip for those interested in graphs to create one (in my youth I created many). What to do about the given predicament we are in is action. The differential about how many monkeys can live on an island with fixed food supply is not near as important to the grapher(s) as it is to the monkeys.

I have decided that with the current ‘given’, my action is to provide myself and my family, as best I can, with methods to survive a while longer. Since I don’t absolutely know what the future holds, my actions are probably overkill but then again they may be insufficient. Time, not a forcast, will tell.

BTW: I am one of those old guys that don’t have a whole lot of bliss in mind for the future of the status quo.


Ok, you're an old guy; Ron is an old guy, Airdale is an old guy, Hummingbird is an old guy and I'm an old guy. Yet we all see the future the same way - down the tubes. People might think that we, of any group, who have seen technology advance, should have a positive outlook. We have seen wars start and end. We've seen all kinds of change in real time that younger people think of as history. So, why aren't we cornucopians?

My personal feeling is that we've seen through the bullshit.


I agree completely with the value in arguing about predictions - how many will die, the price of oil over the years, geopolitical ramifications, etc. My point was that arguing over precisely where the line between doom and cornucopia is drawn is qualitative and even personal, while the various components that feed into that determination could hopefully be quantitatively defined.

So, rather than "doom vs cornucopia", let's continue the discussions along the lines of impacts, options, and actions. TOD has done a good job of focusing on the reality of peak oil and getting the message out (a long and tedious process, I'm sure!), but going past simple realization to meaningful action will likely be harder still.

Perhaps the old axiom is never more true:

Hope for the best and plan for the worst.

That works for me.

Yes there are many definitions of "pulling ourselves out" but basically it comes down to only two basic catagories. Those two are:
1. There will be no massive die-off. (Cornucopians)
2. There will be a massive die-off. (Doomers)

Suppose I believe that a billion or so people will die off, mostly in the Third World, but the First World will "only" experience a Great Depression, and after a couple of very scary decades we will roll out EVs, nuclear and solar to the survivors, and rebuild to a level of prosperity greater than that currently experienced?

Am I doomer, because I expect a die-off, even if I expect us to later recover sufficiently to create a sustainable economy with a higher standard of living than the present?
Or a cornucopian, because I believe that alternative technologies will successfully replace fossil fuels, even though I expect a billion or two to die during the transition?

"It was the best of times; it was the worst of times". WWII was hell on earth for those in the firing line - but there were people in Geneva and Rio who lived very well.

Likewise, in the coming decades, I expect famines and plagues and wars in some countries, and a huge death toll. But I expect life in Switzerland and Brazil will continue pretty much as normal, and when the worst is over I expect the countries that have come through strong will help the others rebuild (or will colonise them economically, if you want to be cynical).

Reality is messy.

Leanan -- I hope someday you'll favor us with some posts or articles. I look forward to your longer comments. The problem is that they got lost in the jungle of DrumBeat threads. These issues require a real article to develop one's thoughts fully.

The DrumBeats are invaluable, but maybe someday you'll have the time...

Energy Bulletin


And once the liquid ammonia is there, we can then start experimenting....

......using the properties described here:


An extract:
"Laboratory use of anhydrous ammonia (gas or liquid)

Anhydrous ammonia is classified as toxic (T) and dangerous for the environment (N). The gas is flammable (autoignition temperature: 651 °C) and can form explosive mixtures with air (16–25%). The permissible exposure limit (PEL) in the United States is 50 ppm (35 mg/m³), while the IDLH concentration is estimated at 300 ppm. Repeated exposure to ammonia lowers the sensitivity to the smell of the gas: normally the odour is detectable at concentrations of less than 0.5 ppm, but desensitized individuals may not detect it even at concentrations of 100 ppm. Anhydrous ammonia corrodes copper- and zinc-containing alloys, and so brass fittings should not be used for handling the gas. Liquid ammonia can also attack rubber and certain plastics."

those plus more and all have been studied and worked out. http://www.memagazine.org/contents/current/webonly/webex710.html

Quote from Lehigh Valley Rail story (linked in header)

Marin admits the time savings of rail service would be minimal until the system is electrified to allow for faster trains. But from the start, he argues, the commute would be more pleasant, more cost-efficient and more energy-conscious


It was an interesting read. It sounds like NJ Transit is already considering extending the line part of the way to Phillipsburg (right at the PA/NJ state line), but that decision won't come until the end of the year.

I noticed this somewhat related news item:


The Board awarded a contract to Bombardier Transit Corporation for the purchase of 26 dual-powered locomotives—which can operate in both electrified and non-electrified territory—at a total cost of approximately $310 million, including design, engineering, manufacturing, training and spare parts, with the option to purchase additional locomotives in the future.

More safe, clean, honest and open nuke power.

According to David Lochbaum, a nuclear safety engineer with the Union of Concerned Scientists, the triggering event in this case was congressional outrage at the NRC's concealment of a major "nuclear
safety event" in 2006 at the Nuclear Fuel Services plant in Erwin, Tennessee.

In that case, approximately 35 liters of highly enriched uranium solution leaked and spilled, creating the possibility of a criticality accident, i.e. an uncontrolled chain reaction. Yet "NRC failed to notify the public or Congress for 13 months regarding this serious incident," complained Rep. John Dingell in a July 3, 2007 letter to NRC Chairman Dale E. Klein.


While this certainly sounds like a screw-up, linking it to commercial nuclear reactors is not accurate. Commercial reactors don't use highly enriched uranium. HEU is only used in some military and research reactors.

And somehow that justifies the cover up?

I'm going to let my peak oil research simmer on the back burner until oil clears $150 (hopefully not next week!). However, I had these graphs on hand so I thought I'd share them.

A key measure of the amount of oil on hand is "Days of Supply". By that measure there has been no deterioration in recent years in the US. In fact, there has been a slight improvement. Below is an annual chart for the past few decades followed by a monthly chart which includes the recent data (available to May 2008).

Using less oil has the pleasant side effect of automatically increasing the days of supply that existing inventories represent.

These charts were generated by dividing inventory data....
by consumption data.....

"including SPR" is useful for strategic considerations (although if we ever have to draw down the SPR to the bottom of the barrel, demand will be forced down dramatically).

It has marginal to no value for commercial consideration. The
"uptick" was caused by further fills to the SPR (ended June 08 from uncertain memory) and declining demand amplifying the value of the SPR.

Those same charts, done WITHOUT SPR would be much more useful.

Best Hopes for another set of charts,


Here's a monthly chart going back to the beginning of 2000.

No deterioration...

For perspective, here's a monthly chart going back all the way to 1963

In the olden days there was a very obvious seasonal fluctuation that is less obvious now.

I am puzzled as to how one combines crude & product inventories--crude can't be used in cars, and gasoline isn't used as an input for refineries, so shouldn't you look at Day of Supply separately for total commercial products and for crude?

Also there has been a big drop in Crude Days of Supply from the early Eighties, presumably because of the SPR, down from about 30 days to about 20 days.

Finally, it's best to look at crude oil inventories in terms of Day of Supply in excess of MOL. Based on the metric, we have about two days or so of crude oil supply in excess of MOL.

In any case, as I noted in this article, I don't think tracking crude oil inventories--in most cases--is a good way to figure out what is going on in oil markets:


I do think that Gulf Coast refineries are having problems fully offsetting the ongoing decline/crash in crude oil exports from VenMex, e.g., some refineries had to curtail their runs because of a brief shutdown in the Houston Ship Channel.

Although there is nothing wrong with tracking them separately, the combined total days of supply matters because crude can be refined into gas and diesel! I'm looking at it from a consumer's prospective.

So, hypothetically if Hormuz is closed, the refineries continue to churn out product until their stocks are exhausted. But the cars and trucks don't run out of gas when the refineries shut down. The keep going until the end products run dry.

Of course, the reality would be much more complicated than that.

From my research I found that the MOL is not as big a deal as people make it out to be. The system certainly won't crash to a halt if we dip below it though there could be some temporary spot shortages. In fact, we are guaranteed to dip below it if demand keeps shrinking. In the past, the industry has run right at MOL for some time without any real worries.

WT, sometimes you sound like a doctor who tells a fat man he must lose weight and when the fat man does it, the doctor says "OMG! You are losing weight. You must be sick!!!"

If we are near or past peak, it's pretty obvious that the oil industry will shrink and fade away. It must. There won't be any panic about keeping above MOL. Instead, they will figure out ways to lower it.

When you talk about net exports, Jeffrey, you are indeed raising important issues and uncertainties for the nation, which it may have trouble dealing with. But one thing is absolutely certain: you are announcing the death of your own industry. Even if the nation weathers peak oil decently well, the oil industry is utterly doomed.

Don't mistake the death of the oil industry for the death of America.

In any case, regardless of to what degree MOL is important, it is important, for example as noted above when a short term shutdown of the Houston Ship Channel forced refinery curtailments, and there are MOL's for products also. So, we have a couple of days of crude supply in excess of MOL, and four days of supply of gasoline in excess of MOL (using 170 mb for gasoline).

Regarding the awl bidness, I have been predicting for a while that we would start seeing refineries in importing countries shutting down.

The oil industry will shrink for over a century before disappearing (barring social collapse).

Heating oil shale for lubricants and petrochemical feedstock (heating with off peak surplus wind generation ?) is a realistic possibility.

Don't mistake the death of the oil industry for the death of America

*IF* we continue BAU, the political organization of the United States of America may not survive the death of the oil industry.


If you take a look at the diagram below, I think the petrodollar effect is clearly visible.

Oil fell 15% while the exchange rate did not change at all. After the price of oil seemed stabilized at this new, much lower level, confidence in the dollar grew. This, paired with negatíve news coming from Europe led to the strenthening of the dollar.

In the last few days, the price of oil followed the exchange rate. The price of oil is moving the dollar, making it stronger at the moment.

Methinks after oil goes back up again the dollar will weaken -- again. No wonder: oil is priced in dollars and if you have to put a substantially bigger amount to the market to get your oil, that creates an oversupply of dollars, this weakening the currency.

Imagine the following: We have to scenarios. Oil costs USD 150 or USD 120. Net exports stand at roughly 45 mbpd. So:

If WTI (or FOB) = USD 150, that's 6.75 billion dollars per day
If WTI (or FOB) = USD 120, that1s 5.4 billion dollars per day

You buy the same thing (oil) with more or less of the same dollars. But there is a more than 1 billion USD idfference there. So what happens?

Oil trades for USD 150 ---> lot1s of dollars into the pockets of the exporters. It means there is an oversupply of dollars on the market, that tends to devalue the dollar. On the other hand, the exporters are still either spending or investing all these dollars. So what happens when oil goes to 120? There is a relative scarcity of dollars on the market in comparison with a few weeks earlier. Scarcity means the value is bound to go up: Hence the dollar strengthens.

You can follow this on the above diagram, I think.

WTI spot traded for USD 145 on July 11th. It was 116 yesterday. In the meantime, the dollar strenghtened, too. So what happened? Here is the full period:

Exchange rate adjusted oil lost almost 20%, while the dollar strenghtened 3.6%

But how did this happen? Let's see 3 different periods:

1) July 11th - July 25th
2) July 25th - August 4th
3) August 8th - August 9th

It is clearly visible from the numbers, that in period 1) the exchange rate didn't change at all but the dollar fell. In periods 2 and 3 the dollar strengthens (the above mentioned petrodollar effect), and oil changes in parallel with the euro. See the tables below.

So basically there was a sudden change in supply and demand between July 11th and July 25th? What was that? Supply remained basically the same. So it has to be demand then. May and June data for the US economy? The Chinese buying less oil (diesel) on the import markets due to the Olympics? I don't know.

But it's pretty obvious to me that demand weakened before the 25th of July, and the strenghtening of the dollar is a result of this (and the negatíve news coming from the EU). Later on ,the strengthening dollar is pulling down oil.

Just my 2 cents. I see no speculative effect here. At all. Only supply and demand and some changes in the exchange rates.

So what's next? I'm not sure. But I think:

1) After the games China comes back into play
2) Lower prices will make people and nations buy more oil
3) There is an OPEC meeting in early September
4) Heating oil comes into play in early October

All in all I think prices will remain relatively low in August and early September, but we will see a sudden jump come October. I don't rule out USD 150 in November.

the man behind the curtain became confused as to which string he was pulling ?

Anyone catch the Olympic opening ceremonies last night? Absolutely stunning.

I was reading some of the comments up thread regarding population growth. It reminded me of a statement by one of the commentators last night. They were remarking about how many 10's of thousands of people that were needed for each of the performances...and that there were no repeat performers. When the genius behind this extravaganza, director Zhang Yimou, was asked about how he was able to get so many talented performers his response was, "People are plentiful in China." Indeed!

Also interesting, one of the performances dealt with, in an artistict way, the issue of resource depletion.

This Olympics reminds me of the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany. The birth of an Empire. (Not the real birth but the official one.)

I have a very bad feeling about this.

To the extent China succeeds, it will just have done a much better job than the U.S., for example, in perfecting the corporatist, fascist state. Its surveillance of its citizens makes the folks in 1984 look like pikers. There is virtually no escape from the prying eyes of the totalitarians. U.S. cities are not far behind but China has taken the routing out of dissidence to a new level.

Most of the recipients of this fascism will be glad to oblige if their living standards continue to increase. Take that away and the overwhelming success fo the fascist state would probably start to erode.

I criticize China but, in doing so, at not letting our fascist state in the U.S. off the hook.

Why the complacency in the U.S? The antidepressant drug culture adopted by the majority of our citizens. Just a hypothesis, to be sure, but I find it difficult to explain our collective apathy any other way.

Remember when the U.S. accidentally bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade? 3 Chinese journalists were killed at the time.

Well, I was in China at the time, and it was to put it mildly a rather awkward moment for all Westerners. In some areas, there were demonstrations and riots (and in tourist hotels in some cities they would tell people to stay away from the windows so that the demonstrators weren't tempted to throw objects or worse yet storm the hotel). We were in Hangzhou at the time - and things weren't very bad there, but we still didn't go out much. A few days after this we went to Guangzhou - as we were arriving we saw truckloads of Chinese troops pulling out. But in the days before this, demonstrators had trashed the German embassy. I guess the upshot of this is that at the time, we were actually relieved to see the Chinese police. The evening that we arrived in Guangzhou, we felt comfortable enough to wander around on our own as the demonstrations were over and there were still police all over the place.

Some had said that the Chinese government had tacitly encouraged these demonstrations. For example, somehow there had been chartered buses to bring people into towns for the purpose of demonstrating, and the Chinese government probably could have blocked this if they had wanted to.

One common trick that had been used in the past by Americans to try and defuse such situations was to claim to be Canadian. But that didn't work this time - the Chinese were ticked at all Western nations. Especially NATO countries.

Ah yes-s-s-s,... the old Canadian trick. Just like Bruce Willis in "The Jackal". Who would suspect?

"The antidepressant drug culture adopted by the majority of our citizens."

in an earlier time religion was " the bromide of the masses ".

I have a good feeling. They have over 1 billion people, so they will surpass the US in almost everything. I guess that we can attribute much to their "emphasis on education" and "family values" [politically correct], but on average they are smarter than your average nation. And, really, they have not been an agressor in major wars for well over 200 years. So, in fact, I think that they will be a big help to the US in the coming years. After Nixon, in effect, opened up China to the West, they have prospered tremendously - and, they know that our desire for consumer products has allowed them to more quickly move into the 21st century. I think that the average Chinese really likes us - at least all of them in the US that I have met seem to.

for those who have been looking into this. it's become pretty obvious the situation is shaping up for a u.s. vs china war over who will be a super power. Iraq was most likely the first shot.

China makes no secret of its ambition to get a foothold in Australia's rich mineral resources. A couple of days ago Prime Minister Rudd and President Jintao met; Rudd wanted to talk human rights and Jintao wanted to talk about watering down foreign investment rules. I believe China would like to use increased ownership to transfer LNG, nickel, iron ore, uranium and other commodities at below open market prices. I was surprised to see some executive level Chinese nationals at a new nickel mine near here; no doubt they would also like to replace some of the local blue collar work force.

If China is also facing a looming coal shortage that could be another target. My guess is that China views vulnerability to raw material imports the way the US views oil.

Didn't watch the games, but I've just returned from a trip to Xi'an in China. One of the things that struck me from a PO point of view was that any non-work vehicle (ie, not a taxi, truck, etc, which were often quite old) I say in or in the immediate vicinity of the city was maybe 95% likely to be a large, high-class modern vehicle with about 50% being what I'd classify as an SUV. Clearly most of the people couldn't afford a car, and many were unable to afford a powered bike, but those that could were going for big. Xi'an is the capital of one of the subregions so I was seeing the top percentiles of the income levels, but it does make me think what'll happen if China keeps getting richer (even if more slowly in coming difficult economic times) and more of their population can afford motor vehicles.

I hope JHK is reading this:

It´s mostly within the boundaries of the Oil Heritage District, southeast of Sarnia, that people are aware of the aptly named village of Oil Springs, Ont., and its cherished status as the site of North America´s first commercial oil well.

Indeed, it was an enterprising Hamilton man and his crew who touched off the continental oil rush in 1858, one full year before U.S. prospector Edwin Drake began drilling for oil in Titusville, Penn.

I emailed JHK about a year ago offering a historical correction to a widely held belief to which he responded "Drakes our man!"

This is not to disparage Jim, but to illustrate a larger disturbing condition of U.S. society. Seeing the evidence proofed discussions going on TOD is encouraging, but unfortunately it is the exception. While living in the U.S. it became apparent to me that it was more important to believe than to know.

As a previous boss used to say, "Don't confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up."

And here we start to dissemble just what the hell is going wrong. A long look backward will probably reveal that the prime mover of American society has been the "dream" or the "myth"; which, is now evidenced by Disney, "cartoon country living", and pimped up H2's that will never see so much as a gravel parking lot.

I'm starting to think the American experiment has been one long ad campaign. Of course I am talking in generalities, but is it really that far off the mark.

And yet...there's a bright side. The American advertising industry has proven that they can convince millions of people that they desperately need products they never knew existed and cannot afford. Even products that are actively harmful to them. That power could used for good. Maybe even to convince people they have to use less energy, be less wasteful, have fewer children, etc.

I would agree if share holder's perpetual profit growth isn't on the line. So-o-o-o, what you're saying is we need propaganda, Pravda, more MSM cheerleading and mal-information... Just kidding.

In principle it makes sense, but so far all I've seen is the green-washing around products that are desperately trying to maintain BAU. The auto industry is the biggest sinner in this category.

I did see the public health and safety message propaganda work in the '70's when the U.S. started cleaning up their roadways of litter. For about 10 years there was a stark contrast between Canada and the U.S. as we would travel around Washington and Oregon. Then came the "Crying Indian". Yes, it does work; but the nut of the matter is the proper message getting out there?

havent seen this posted:


the keystone pipeline is being sued, alledgedly, because they didnt obtain the proper environmental reports. the permit was issued by the state dept ?

and if it hasnt been posted, i'm real surprised because after all, it was published in the thriving megopolis of williston, nd

Swiss neutralise car industry

Switzerland’s hatred of the car could be about to move up a notch after the youth section of the country’s Green Party proposed a law to ban all vehicles weighing more than 2.2 tonnes or those emitting more than 250g/km of CO2.

The proposal would outlaw Lamborghini, Ferrari, AMG, M division and most Porsche vehicles in the country that gives us the Geneva motor show every year, leaving only four and six-cylinder cars, and superminis.

Your headline isn't supported by the story. Just because the youth section of the green party proposes a law on the ballot hardly means that the Swiss have neutralized the car industry. Even if this initiative passed, banning the autos in question would hardly neutralize the industry.

Having said that, I wish them well. I don't harbor a hatred of the car industry, but do despise the high carbon, high fuel consumption end of the market. The gas guzzler tax doesn't go far enough.

Peace Dies In The Dark

August 9, 2008: The lights have gone out, literally. Over half a century of poor maintenance and neglect, the power grid of the Central African Republic has collapsed. The capital has gone dark. Two nearby hydroelectric power stations, which provide most of the nation's electricity, have failed from years of neglect. The government is calling on foreign aid donors to fly in generators for hospitals and other essential services. Generators that have been brought in previously have not been maintained, and wear out quickly.