DrumBeat: August 17, 2008

Peak oil is coming, and we're unready

Has the world already reached peak oil, a time of permanently high oil prices and shortages that will profoundly change our way of life? The answer, I think, is likely yes, but the proximity of this catastrophe is not the most important question to ask.

Oil is a finite natural resource; sooner or later, the supply will peak. Jeroen van der Veer, chief of Royal Dutch Shell, earlier this year predicted 2015 as the year the world reaches peak production. John Hess of Hess Corp. said: "An oil crisis is coming in the next 10 years. It's not a matter of demand. It's not a matter of supplies. It's both."

Whether peak oil is already here or on its way, we'll have to deal with it.

Shock waves spread as oil bubble bursts

THE exposure of the oil price boom as a speculative bubble has been the catalyst for a change in world financial flows, and the ripples are now spreading through currency, commodity and financial markets.

Giving Our Children a Gas Crisis of Their Very Own

The class of ’08, having survived one of the most bruising college admissions seasons ever, will face an even tougher real world four years hence. Though Barbara Ehrenreich’s best-selling book on the ordeals of low-wage American workers, “Nickel and Dimed,” was required summer reading in high school, Sam grudgingly admits that he’s privy to a more affecting set of economic indicators when he punches the time clock.

Some of his co-workers have lost their homes in foreclosure; others have lost their cars. One young man parks his car at a different pal’s home every night — just a step ahead of the repo man. There are more and more employee scooters and bikes in the market parking lot. With no bus service available, some adult workers with families have begun the grim calculations as to whether they can afford to keep jobs half an hour’s distance from home.

Oil companies pull workers on threat from storm Fay

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Shell Oil Co and Marathon Oil Corp pulled nonessential workers from the eastern and central Gulf of Mexico due to the threat of Tropical Storm Fay, but offshore production was unaffected, the companies said on Sunday.

Shell said about 200 workers were evacuated on Sunday from the eastern Gulf, the same number the company evacuated from that region on Saturday. Marathon said the number evacuated from the central Gulf was not immediately available.

Drilling for Oil Way, Way Offshore

Whatever that means for offshore drilling in the U.S., the real victims of the global thirst for petroleum will be overseas — areas that, until the recent price rise, were too remote and forbidding to be worth drilling. Case in point: the vast, impenetrable western reaches of the Amazon.

Richard Heinberg: Losing Control

The trajectory of our relationship with control is about to change. With the end of cheap fossil fuels, and therefore the end of cheap energy, our ability to control our environment begins to wane. This of course has abundant practical implications, but also a collective psychological, even spiritual impact.

Once we lived with a sense of our own limits. We may have been a hubristic kind of animal, but we knew that our precocity was contained within a universe that was overwhelmingly beyond our influence. That sensibility is about to return. Along with it will come a sense of frustration at finding many expectations dashed.

Iraq likely to abandon short-term oil contracts - US

Iraq - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The Iraqi government is likely to abandon plans to sign short-term contracts with foreign oil companies, negotiations over which have been halting, a senior U.S. diplomat in Baghdad said on Sunday.

"It appears that on present form (the Iraqi government) probably won't proceed with most of these or all of them," Charles Ries, coordinator for Iraq's economic transition at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, told reporters.

Fiji: Canned food runs out on Rotuma

SHOPS on Rotuma have run out of canned food as a result of poor shipping services.

Itumuta villager and shop owner Kensington Fatiaki said most small shops have run out of tinned fish and meat.

...In June, shops and supermarkets on Rotuma ran out of food supply and fuel because there have not been any shipping service to the island this month.

Children had to walk up to 10 kilometres to get to school.

Green fuel for the airline industry?

Aviation is uniquely vulnerable to the consequences of peak oil – the point at which global oil production begins its inevitable decline. Whereas land-based transport could in theory be completely electrified, powered by batteries charged from renewable sources, there is no alternative to energy-dense liquid fuels for jet engines. There is a growing consensus that global oil production will peak in the next decade or so and then go into terminal decline. Some analysts believe it already has: output has been essentially flat since 2005 despite soaring demand, which is why the price is heading skyward. Even the traditionally optimistic International Energy Agency now foresees an oil “supply crunch” from 2012. For airlines the problem could soon be not just whether they can afford jet fuel, but whether there is enough of it to go round.

Global warming aside, fresh water dwindling

Climate change has the potential to alter both water supply and demand. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fourth Assessment report in 2007, increasing temperatures suggest increased evaporation and decreased stream flows, as well as rising seas that could contaminate freshwater estuaries and groundwater resources. Increasingly variable precipitation will likely mean more frequent high-intensity droughts and floods and less available rainfall in arid and semiarid regions, including Arizona.

A Push to Increase Icebreakers in the Arctic

A growing array of military leaders, Arctic experts and lawmakers say the United States is losing its ability to patrol and safeguard Arctic waters even as climate change and high energy prices have triggered a burst of shipping and oil and gas exploration in the thawing region.

The National Academy of Sciences, the Coast Guard and others have warned over the past several years that the United States’ two 30-year-old heavy icebreakers, the Polar Sea and Polar Star, and one smaller ice-breaking ship devoted mainly to science, the Healy, are grossly inadequate. Also, the Polar Star is out of service.

And this spring, the leaders of the Pentagon’s Pacific Command, Northern Command and Transportation Command strongly recommended in a letter that the Joint Chiefs of Staff endorse a push by the Coast Guard to increase the country’s ability to gain access to and control its Arctic waters.

Will the Power of 4 ($4 Gas) Fade?

When I sought guidance on what happened on the roads after the last oil shocks, Matt Wald, my longtime colleague and expert on all things that move, sent a link to federal data showing that indeed, driving declined after the 1979 oil disruption, but then resumed its long upward march.

Skyrocketing prices for road salt hammers local municipalities

County municipalities estimated they would need 20,000 tons of salt this winter, but the Central Salt contract does not require them to buy that much or, in turn, prevent them from ordering more if they need it. Most county municipalities wound up needing much more salt than they anticipated last winter, a development that led to severe supply shortages toward the end of the winter as Central Salt struggled to keep up with runaway demand here and across the country.

That supply shortage has carried over into this year, contributing to the higher prices, said Larry Googins, president of the Beaver County Regional COG. Also factoring into the increased salt prices are high fuel costs, which are making salt shipping more expensive, Googins said.

“It’s going to be a financial burden for a lot of our municipalities,” Googins said. “We’re not exactly thriving here, and none of the municipalities budgeted for this type of increase.”

Bus route changes help district balance budget

CORPUS CHRISTI — When Anne Benning learned a change in her son's bus route this school year would mean he would have to walk almost the same distance to the new bus stop as to the school, she decided she would stomach the high gas prices and drive him each day.

Asphalt shortage, skyrocketing prices challenge paving industry

Gas prices affect almost everything. Over the past year, skyrocketing fuel prices have boosted the costs of goods and services. Hailing a cab is more expensive in some places, as is buying a sandwich.

But the items transported along the country's roads are not the only ones getting more expensive. The cost of the roads themselves are going through the roof.

Driven by a combination of high oil prices and a drop in supply, asphalt prices have more than doubled since the beginning of the year. The sudden and drastic increase has left local paving contractors and municipalities trying to figure out how to compensate.

In Ukraine, Fear of Being a Resurgent Russia’s Next Target

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been high for years. Mr. Yushchenko, like Mr. Saakashvili in Georgia, has sought stronger ties with the West, including membership in NATO, which Russia has said would threaten its security. In early 2006, Russia cut off natural gas supplies to Ukraine, in a bold maneuver to weaken Mr. Yushchenko’s government.

Childbirth: Highway Proximity Linked to Birth Weight

They found that compared with living in a wealthy neighborhood farther away, living in a wealthy neighborhood within 220 yards of a highway was associated with a 58 percent increased risk of preterm birth, an 81 percent increased risk of low birth weight, and a 32 percent increased risk of being small for gestational age.

Champion Cyclist and Now Champion Guzzler of Austin Water

Say it ain’t so, Lance.

In July, Mr. Armstrong, who won the Tour de France seven times, used a whopping 330,000 gallons of water at his lush Spanish-colonial home, with an acre of gardens and a swimming pool, city water authority officials said.

This tremendous flow of H2O, which is 38 times what the average household in the city uses in the summer, comes as Texas is going through a dry spell and officials are asking people to cut back on watering their lawns.

Suffering is relative for inflation-hit Saudis

RIYADH (Reuters) - With inflation rising across the Gulf Arab region, Saudi Arabia's perennial problem of unequal distribution of wealth has never been so obvious.

While poor Saudis queue for hours to obtain water in the kingdom's second city Jeddah, others are able to take advantage of America's new-found disdain for gas-guzzling four-wheel-drives by snapping up imported cars.

Thousands of couples are cutting costs by forgoing individual weddings in favour of mass ceremonies carried out by a charity backed by Saudi princes. But the affluent are still going on holidays, albeit opting for cheaper stays in neighbouring Arab countries rather than trips to Europe or Asia.

Surging oil prices have triggered a turnaround in Saudi Arabia's economic fortunes and a return to some of the big spending -- by wealthy individuals and the monarchy -- that characterised the 1970s and 1980s.

But the economic boom has also stoked prices for food and fuel, leading to discontent in a rapidly changing country where around two-thirds of the 17 million-strong local population are under 30, educated and outspoken and aware of events abroad.

Georgian rail bridge blast hits Azeri oil exports

BAKU (Reuters) - Azerbaijan suspended oil exports through ports in western Georgia on Sunday after an explosion damaged a key rail bridge there.

Georgia accused Russian troops of blowing up a railway bridge west of the capital Tbilisi earlier in the day, saying its main east-west train link had been severed. Russia strongly denied any involvement.

McCain: Georgia conflict threatens energy supplies

COSTA MESA, California (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate John McCain on Saturday criticized Russia's military operations against Georgia, arguing the conflict poses a grave threat to world energy supplies.

In his weekly radio address, the Arizona senator said a disruption of energy supplies abroad could raise prices, "inflicting great harm on our economy and on America workers."

France Reaffirms Its Faith in Future of Nuclear Power

Here on the Normandy coast, France is building its newest nuclear reactor, the first in 10 years, costing $5.1 billion. But already, President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced that France will build another like it.

Flamanville is a vivid example of the French choice for nuclear power, made in the late 1950s by Charles de Gaulle, intensified during the oil shocks of the 1970s and maintained despite the nightmarish nuclear accidents of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.

Inflation gets right down to the real nitty-gritty

As energy prices continue to rise, even dirt isn't cheap anymore.

Ethanol byproduct makes cows happy

David Fremark, who operates a feedlot in Miller, S.D., said using distillers grains shaves about 25 percent off the cost of his feed bill. Distillers grains typically track corn prices but in recent weeks have been about 20 percent cheaper.

"The animals love it," he said. "I don't look at my local ethanol plant as an ethanol plant. It's a feed plant to me."

...Critics say distillers grains are no substitute for a plentiful, inexpensive feed corn supply.

Distillers grains are not readily available in the South and West and it's too costly to ship them there, said Colin Woodall, executive director of legislative affairs for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

Windmills split town and families: Fallout from green energy; 'Is it worth destroying a whole way of life?'

He hates the sight and he hates the sound. He says they disrupt his sleep, invade his house, his consciousness. He can't stand the gigantic flickering shadows the blades cast at certain points in the day.

But what this brawny 48-year-old farmer's son hates most about the windmills is that his father, who owns much of the property, signed a deal with the wind company to allow seven turbines on Yancey land.

"I was sold out by my own father," he sputters.

Airlines push for homegrown alternative get fuel formula

PHOENIX (AP): With the price of oil still above $100 a barrel, everything from wood chips to chicken fat is being scrutinized as an alternative to traditional fuel. But when it comes to airplanes, finding the right mix poses a special challenge. “When you’re in an airplane, you don’t want your fuel to start solidifying,” said Robert Dunn, a Department of Agriculture chemical engineer who is studying biodiesel jet fuel. The airline industry is aggressively pushing for homegrown alternatives to petroleum-based jet fuel, while leaning on customers with a variety of new travel charges to help control a projected $61 billion industrywide fuel expense this year. A number of alternatives to standard jet fuel have been studied for years, though aircraft manufacturers say the challenge is to find ideas that will work now.

Russia proposes tax hike, oil funds reform

MOSCOW - Russia's Finance Ministry unveiled a draft fiscal strategy to 2023 on Sunday, proposing to raise social security taxes from 2010 and reform the $162 billion oil wealth funds to back up the pension system.

Under the proposal, Russia's oil revenues will be redistributed between the liquid Reserve Fund designed to support the budget in case the oil price falls and the National Wealth Fund (NWF), earmarked for riskier investment.

Arctic Tribe Fights Oil Development in Refuge

OLD CROW, Canada—Tribal leaders here have renewed their fight against proposed oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge during a gathering in July, the Native American Times reports.

Russia's Georgia Invasion May Be About Oil

The conflict between Russia and Georgia is about borders and political power. But dig deeper, and you may find natural gas, oil and a stronger Russia vying for control of those resources are key factors.

"They [the Russians] sent a message that Georgia has been their backyard, was their backyard and will be their backyard," said Cliff Kupchan of the Eurasia Group, who has studied Russia and its economy and was a State Department officer during the Clinton administration. "And included in that is control of the energy transportation routes in that area."

Sour gas aftermath

For 20 years the gas pipe was not fixed to the wall properly. Now, after the propane blast, it's a problem.

Reduce oil consumption at home

Even if you think that climate change (and all that melting ice) is a hoax perpetrated by woolly headed tree huggers, traditional Yankee thrift would convince you that the smartest course is to cut down on our consumption. We use twice as much oil per capita as the other developed countries, so there is a lot of room to cut.

Kenya: China Strikes Wells of Hope in Kenya

China has spent Sh3.7 billion in an aggressive search for oil in Eastern Province and says initial tests show "positive results", the Sunday Nation can reveal.

Industry experts said Chinese optimism is not surprising: oil was discovered at Loperot, 100 kilometres South of Lodwar by Shell in 1992 and the Chinese are prospecting in the same basin.

Democrats waver over offshore drilling ban

Under fire from Republicans, top Democratic politicians in the United States are considering lifting a ban on new offshore oil drilling.

The issue is now at the forefront of the presidential election, as Republican candidate John McCain has made allowing new drilling one of the centrepieces of his campaign, claiming that it will help drive down petrol prices.

Book club participants' take on 'The Long Emergency'

It's one thing to assume that technology will find clever replacements to heat and cool us, and for the internal combustion engine to transport all 6 billion of us to our individual daily destinations. But it's quite another to imagine a replacement system for our present oil- and natural gas-based agriculture. In this respect, the agrarian practices of the 1800s will have enormous value to future generations, who will have to feed themselves without the incredible, portable power of gasoline and diesel to run tractors, tillers, threshers and the whole motor pool of modern agricultural equipment.

Part Two Of Frank Rich, Arianna Huffington, & Dwight Garner Are Liars, Deceivers, And Traitors

Peak oil has been kept a corporate and government secret since 1956. We could have been planning for it all along had not a cadre of corporate and government power brokers diverted our public wealth into their self serving strategies.

A secret kept for fifty-six years — and one that has to do with husbandry of the very planet and its ability to sustain life? Well, keeping a secret like that is made possible, says Goldman, because Americans, in general, seem averse to contemplating reality. Up until now it’s been easy to get away with it, for as long as energy was cheap we were all free to pursue personal interests and put most everything else out of our minds. But soon reality is going to confront us at every turn. For some, it’s already happening.

America, the next chapter

Global warming, economic stagnation and growing poverty for a majority of the population, plus peak oil, massive debt and misguided foreign policies are all ticking time bombs.

But now that we see them, let's cure them.

Some vintage-car buffs downshifting hobby

Classic-car shows across the USA are still attracting crowds similar or just a bit smaller than previous years this summer. Dream Cruise spokesman Don Tanner says the event is expected to draw more than 40,000 cars and 1 million spectators Saturday, about the same as last year.

But owners and organizers say participants are making adjustments, such as going only to shows near home, tweaking their cars for better mileage and skimping on hotels and meals.

US gets ready to blow its economy away

All the fashionable talk is of how fossil-fuels must be replaced by massively subsidised sources of "renewable" energy, such as vast arrays of solar panels, even though a recent study showed that a kilowatt hour of solar-generated electricity costs between 25 and 30 cents, compared with 6 cents for power generated from coal and 9 cents for that produced by natural gas.

What is terrifying is the extent to which America's leading politicians seem oblivious to the economic realities of what they are proposing. The readiness of Messrs McCain and Obama to posture in front of pictures of virtually useless wind turbines symbolises that attitude perfectly.

Climate change could sink much of Cape Town

Johannesburg - Climate change could lead to large parts of South Africa's most popular tourist destination being flooded, according to a new study quoted by the country's Sunday Times newspaper.

The area around Cape Town would, says the report, have to deal with a rapidly rising sea level along its 300 kilometer coastline, as well as waves up to 6.5 metres high within the next 25 years.

The Book Club responses to the Long Emergency were surprising - nothing about Prii dotting the landscape soon as our salvation, or Plans courtesy of Pickens Or Gore. Maybe they were still reeling from the impact? Or I'm too used to people on the internet dismissing JHK for his Y2K statements or jingoism. Other people I've foisted TLE on have been quite vehement that it was all BS, though.

This was just a short summary. There were some extensive postings (I was took the JHK was mostly right position). Trey Garrison took the opposite position. And we had a debate on the local NPR station in Dallas. Here is a link to the full discussion:


There is a public town hall meeting at 2:00 P.M. today in Dallas:

The Points Summer Book Club may be wrapping up, but you'll have one more chance to share your thoughts. You're invited to an in-person discussion of the book and themes discussed here on the blog:

Who: Book club discussion leaders Rod Dreher, Jeffrey Brown, Trey Garrison and Larry Allums -- and you.
What: The Points Summer Book Club town hall meeting, wrapping up discussion of James Howard Kunstler's The Long Emergency

When: 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday

Where: The Dallas Institute for Humanities and Culture, 2719 Routh St., in Uptown Dallas between McKinney Avenue and Cedar Springs Road

I've hosted and taken part in some book and documentary discussions on issues and peak oil, global warming, genetically modified food, etc.

An interesting dynamic happens depending on the mix of people in the group. The more diverse their views on the subject the more time is spent (wasted?) with each side trying to convince the other side that their view is the correct one.

But when the group happens to all share roughly the same view on the subject then the discussion is much more productive! It usually gets deep into ways of dealing with or combatting the problem.
(Maybe when widely different views exist within the group each side sees eachother as the problem and the "combatting the problem" energy is spent on eachother?...)

I've always wanted to particiapate in a good face-to-face group discussion on peak oil and energy issues with a group that shares my views on the subject. That view being that we will eventually muddle through by adapting our culture, economy, society and habits with some rather large and difficult changes. In other words, we will deal with the problem by gradually changing to a very different cuture. It's already happening...at least in my eyes ;-)

Greg in MO

Yes, I think that's why PeakOil.com created three special forums: Doomers Only, Moderates Only, and Cornucopians Only. It just got to the point where productive discussion was impossible. Someone would try to post an idea for mitigation, and the doomers would jump all over the thread, totally derailing it. And vice-versa: someone would post about how we are so screwed, and the cornucopians would show up, posting about how silly doomers are and how the free market will fix it all. After awhile, no matter how interested you are in the topic, covering the same ground over and over again gets tedious. The special forums were supposed to offer a place to get beyond that.

People hear what they want to believe.

All of our efforts here just work on the fringes of our individual existing mindsets. It takes a great deal of time and reinforcement to change peoples worldview by even 20-30%. Then spend a weekend with a charismatic cornucopian and it'll set you back 3 months...;-)

It's a good thing to have an open mind.... just make sure it's not open at both ends.

Yes, I think that's why PeakOil.com created three special forums: Doomers Only, Moderates Only, and Cornucopians Only. [...] After awhile, no matter how interested you are in the topic, covering the same ground over and over again gets tedious. The special forums were supposed to offer a place to get beyond that.

I don't frequent their forums, but don't they run into the problem we have in all political affairs, that almost everyone thinks they're "middle of the road"?

Not really. People seem pretty aware of where they are on the "Doomatron scale." And there are mods who will move or delete posts as necessary.

I was just looking at the PeakOil.com discussion boards and see lots of interesting topics, but absolutely no seperation by Doomer-Moderate-Cornucopian. Am I really missing something? Are the terms used there different? Do you perhaps see different discussion baords when you sign up and declare yourself in one group or another? Help!

I have admin privileges there, so I'm not sure how it works for ordinary users. But you cannot see the special forums unless you register and log in. They are invisible to guests.

Once you are registered and logged in, I think you have to sign up somehow to get into the special forums. But you don't have to pick only one. You can enroll in Doomers Only, Moderates Only, and Cornucopians Only if you wish.

There's not a lot going on right now. Like TOD, PO.com has seen traffic severely slow with the drop in oil prices. And Doomers Only is by far the most active forum.

I'm a member and logged in, and I don't see these forums.

This is supposedly how you sign up:

Hit the "Usergroups" link to the right of the "Search" link at the top of the forum, then choose the group from the drop-down menu.

Here was my central theme:

Are you better off than you were four years ago, and what about four years from now?

I have previously described the position taken by Kunstler, et al, in the 2004 video, "End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion & the Collapse of the American Dream" (available on Netflix). The parties that were interviewed specifically warned about collapsing suburban housing values and rapidly rising food & energy prices.

I have also previously described the position taken by Daniel Yergin in 2004--that oil prices in late 2005 would be back down to a long term price of $38 per barrel, as rising oil production forced prices down. In June, 2007, he predicted that oil prices in 2008 would be back down to $60.

Time Magazine, in last week's issue, had a chart showing the year over year change in housing prices for the top 20 markets (Case-Shiller monthly index). The index has gone from up over 15% year over year in 2005 to down more than 15% year over year currently. Now, while I concede that the primary driver behind the mortgage meltdown was the huge buildup in debt, I believe that rapidly rising energy--and thus food--prices have acted as a trigger, and as an accelerant, for the mortgage meltdown.

Regarding food & energy prices, just compare what we are currently spending to what we were spending in 2004.

So, looking forward to 2012, who are you going to believe--Kunstler, who was correct about his predictions regarding suburban housing values and food & energy prices--or Daniel Yergin, who has been dead wrong?

Several letters in this morning's Dallas Morning News about the Georgia situation:


Maureen Dowd of the NYTimes also wrote today on the Georgia conflict:


I think most people in the U.S. realize two things,

1) Russia's aggression against Georgia, just like the U.S.'s aggression against Iraq, has to do with the control of oil and gas, and

2) The U.S. and Europe's reaction of helplessness is due to two things. First, Europe is dependent on Russian oil and natural gas. Second, Russia has nuclear weapons.

As Dowd said, Russia is not Jamaica.

Is there any doubt?

"BAKU (Reuters) - Azerbaijan suspended oil exports through ports in western Georgia on Sunday after an explosion damaged a key rail bridge there.

Georgia accused Russian troops of blowing up a railway bridge west of the capital Tbilisi earlier in the day, saying its main east-west train link had been severed. Russia strongly denied any involvement."

BP stated yesterday that some oil was getting thru.

The problem for BP is that it must tell the world how oil is getting out of the Caspian.

And then Russia addresses the issue.

Today, zero oil is transiting Georgia.

A scary thought, Russia plus OPEC control about 80 percent of world oil exports.

One reason not to expect a crash in oil prices.

Qatar and Libya talked about reducing oil exports. Russia did something about it !

BTW, if one adds Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, what % of world oil exports is that ?


BTW, if one adds Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, what % of world oil exports is that ?

About 86%.

Ha! Ha!

Kind of like when Governor Sterling sent the Texas Rangers in to shut down the East Texas Field.

The natural gas scenario is even scarier.

If Russia can tighten its grip on Eurasia, it will control nearly a third of the world's natural gas reserves. If it can then cement an alliance with Iran, a Russia-Iran axis would control more than 50% of the world's natural gas reserves.


Just imagine controlling half the world's natural gas, combined with a nuclear arsenal to protect it.

Georgia's geographical position, sandwiched in between the two natural gas powerhouses of Russia and Iran, is rather precarious.

I would expect to see Russia not only flexing more muscle in Eurasia, but also deploying more diplomacy towards Iran. With Russia's backing, Iran should have no trouble continuing to thumb its nose at Europe and the U.S., uniting it even closer to Russia.

A Russia-Iran alliance is much more likely than a Russia-OPEC alliance. Iran doesn't have the huge investments in Western economies that other OPEC countries do. Iran's leadership does not rely on the United States to keep it in power as the Saudi Royal Family does. Iran is already at loggerheads with the U.S.

The only person I've heard who publicly speaks the truth is Alexei Miller, head of Gazprom:

"We see that production of hydrocarbons in the world is beginning to work on the basis of new principles. It is not the principle of supply and demand, but the principle of balance between price and production volumes. Today people are focused on achieving a maximum long-term economic return," he said.

"Georgia's geographical position, sandwiched in between the two natural gas powerhouses of Russia and Iran, is rather precarious."

Why I've said that Russia isn't digging in against Georgia but the US.

And if the US attacks Iran, Russian tanks will be on Teheran's
Northern Border withing hours.


From June 10,2008

Gazprom predicts $250 oil in 2009
Russia's Gazprom, the supplier of a quarter of Europe's natural gas, expects the price of crude oil to almost double within 18 months and to take gas prices higher with it.

"We think it will reach $250 a barrel in the foreseeable future," Chief Executive Alexei Miller told reporters at a presentation in France, adding high demand rather than speculation was the primary factor for high hydrocarbon prices.

A spokesman said the company, which is also one of Russia's largest crude producers, expected the price to hit the $250/barrel level sometime in 2009.

What is happening in Georgia is not a sudden hasty action by Russia. It is step one of Russia's response to the US missile defense shield recently agreed to with the Czech Republic and Poland. It has been years in the planning, and I expect that we are only at the very beginning.

When someone like Miller says $250 in 2009 I would regard this seriously, considering he is probably fully informed regarding Russian long term planning.

A severe recession with very high oil prices, someone needs to invent a new word for that! The 2010's are shaping up to be extremely 'interesting times'.

Darwinian, your post points out just how isolated the US is increasingly becoming, as the two biggest oil exporters get ever richer while doing pretty much whatever they want to do. It's power via oil wealth.

What I find fascinating is how impudent the US found itself in the Georgia vs. Russia conflict. Bush demanded Russia leave, however what could he do beyond some harsh rhetoric? Not much, because the world needs their oil. Without it the price would skyrocket and our economy would plummet. We have nothing to barter with beyond a cacaphony of words.

We have to take whatever OPEC and Russia decide to dish out, while the impending decline in oil production, via post peak oil, looms on the horizon.

For Russia it's one of those positive feedback loops.

Peak oil gave Russia the power and leverage necessary to do this.

This, in its turn, will give Russia even more power and leverage.

For the U.S. and Europe, however, it's a negative feedback loop.

Peak Oil's like a loaded gun. It's good or bad depending on whether you're the one aiming the gun, or the gun's aimed at you.

When you add the oil export problem to our financial problems, it doesn't look very good for the United States. If we could only get exports from Canada and Mexico (and whatever other few exporters are outside the OPEC-Russia - FSU group), our living standards would go way down. Repaying debt would be a real problem. Even US imports from Canada depend on Canada's ability to get imports to its east coast from Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries.

I think most people in the U.S. realize two things,

I think most people in the US are being misled by propaganda. While oil plays a role in the Georgian agression against South Ossetia (and the Russian counter-attack), I think it is a misread of the situation to think that oil is the primary driver.

The neocons in the US want to assert US hegemony over as much of the world as it can get away with. Access to oil comes with that hegemony (and is a part of the reason for it), but there is more to it than just oil. As such, the primary driver of the events in the Caucasus is the attempt to weaken Russia. The neocons would have got the Ukraine or the Baltic states to attack Russia if they could have (and they might yet get there; they love to get other people to do their fighting for them).

Now, I don't mean to say oil is not a part of the situation. I just think that the primary reason Saakashvili attacked Russian peacekeepers, the primary reason the US wants to get Georgia into NATO, and the primary reason the US wants Georgia to host US missiles is because the neocons see Russia as the biggest threat to American global dominance.

BTW, I think the Russian reaction has been reasonable, if a little harsh. Georgia attacked Russian peacekeepers from positions inside Georgia. Russia needs to make sure that neither Georgia nor other US proxies on its borders contemplate other attacks like that. I also think it makes sense for them to smash as much of Georgia's fancy new US & Israeli weaponry as it can while they is there. Saakashvili has been spending over 4% of Georgian GDP on a massive military buildup, evidently for offensive purposes rather than defensive.

The US could have played the Georgian situation so much smarter than it has (like back S. Ossetian independence, but demand that N. Ossetia be allowed to join it in independence). But in typical fashion, Bush has decided to back an aggressive authoritarian trying to crush a popular movement for independence. Unfortunately for Bush, he's done it to a much smarter agressive authoritarian, moreover one who holds $50 billion in Fanny Mae bonds, roughly 1/2 trillion in dollars, a large percentage of the world's natural gas reserves, and is principal supplier of energy to Europe.

The US needs to be very careful. There is no reason for Putin to be any more willing to allow the US to put missiles in Georgia than Kennedy was to allow the Russians to put them in Cuba.

Heh this is a replay of democrat scenarios during the cold war. "Russia's not comitting genocides and takeovers, it's just responding to western imperialism".

During those times, of course, western imperialism did not gain "the west" (that would be you too) 1 square meter, yet they won Russia countries half the size of the united states ...

But obviously we all know the difference between the american government and the russian one : the american government does not kill people for criticizing it, and the russian one does (and so do muslims and so does china).

So remember people "country X opposes western imperialism" means in reality that they're comitting genocides on innocents, like Iran, Sudan, Russia, and China are doing today. One day it will be your head.

What do you think you will hear when, oh say a muslim, places his "resistance" sword in your neck because, oh, say you're black ? The BBC will state how much you had it coming, and that because of screwing up the earth with global warming, you deserved to be slaughtered.

You know what the truly depressing part is ? After these cowards defend killing you, they too will get slaughtered, and after that, the muslims, Chinese, and russians will ...

Starve to death.

Isn't socialism grand ?

"where men hang their laundry out to dry under the twin moons of the planet Zembar" - Dave Barry

Now, if that doesn't get a person banned...

Now, if that doesn't get a person banned...

..we'll know that free speech is still permissible on The Oil Drum.

Oh, please. This is a privately held and run site. If you don't understand you have no rights here, only privileges, well... that's pretty remarkable.



The reaction from politicos(Neo-Con op ed writers) in the MSM has been to call for the immediate admission of Ukraine to NATO. These purveyors of "freedom" and "democracy" unfortunately do not respect the will of the Ukrainian people:

In regards to Ukraine joining NATO:
The poll revealed that 54.9% of respondents would vote against joining the military alliance if a referendum were to be held tomorrow, and that 22.3% would back joining NATO.


MSM accuses Russia of paranoia, apparently they have just cause to be paranoid.


McCain avers that the Georgian conflict threatens world energy supplies. This is based on a presumption that producers have an inherent obligation to keep the world supplied by energy. This is a tenuous thread upon which to build a future. As far as that goes, the very existence of the export land model, increasing domestic consumption by oil suppliers, threatens world energy supplies. World oil and energy supplies will continue to be threatened regardless of conflicts like we see in Georgia. The conflict in Georgia has a positive aspect to the extent that it is a wake up call to those who had not yet grasped that Russia has Europe, for starters, by the balls and this grip will be tightened and squeezed going forward.

So what does McCain recommend? That we increase our defense budget even further so that we can be prepared to force Russia to provide the world more energy in the future?

The better and more prudent response as always is to become less dependent upon the big, bad bear and the other countries of the world that have us by the short hairs. And that response is not drill here and drill now as the only conceivable chance the world has to avoid domination by the Russia's of the world is alternative energy.

Recently there was an article about how a German town was mandating that even existing homeowners install solar thermal. Many in the town objected as this seemed draconian and coercive. I wonder how that mandate is being viewed now after the Georgian conflict. Better to be coerced by the town council than controlled and whipsawed by the big bear.

McCain needs to get real. Or is his plan to invade Russia? Or how about Saudi Arabia? Canada? Venezuela?

Don't hold your breath waiting for politicians to "get real." Let alone when they're trying to get elected.

I don't expect McCain to get real. But the press should call him on his impotent bellicosity. I guess I shouldn't expect the press to do their job either.

????"The press" are part of this grand scheme of misinforming the public. Whether that misinformation is just pure ignorance or sinister manipulation is up for debate by the tinfoil hat society. Even so don't expect the press to get real anytime soon either.


McCain is simply pandering to his base, the less than college educated, by helping to make them feel like we can kick Russia's butt. Those masses feel like victims by way of higher prices (without realizing part of those increases is the result of bad US fiscal policy causing the dollar to plummet) but feel emboldened when a politician acts belicose, escpecially towards Russia.

McCain knows darn well we can do absolutely nothing except bark real loud, but also knows his base will rally to his side in the polls if he can bark loud enough.

McCain and Obama's stances on Georgia are pretty much identical. McCain's solution, if you read the article, is not to invade Russia but to drill, drill, drill here at home so we aren't dependent on foreign oil.

Yeah, it's lame, but no lamer than Obama's energy plan.

If they didn't have lame energy plans, they would not be the nominees.

The Dems energy plan is to emphasize efficiency and renewables. The GOP plan is to drill, drill, drill until America is completely drained before any OPEC country is. The GOP will also continue the mountaintop removals in Appalachia and strip mining of the west. They will also have regulators appointed who will refuse to enforce the law.

The Dems energy plan is to emphasize efficiency and renewables. The GOP plan is to drill, drill, drill until America is completely drained before any OPEC country is. The GOP will also continue the mountaintop removals in Appalachia and strip mining of the west. They will also have regulators appointed who will refuse to enforce the law.

So the democrats, in other words, expect us to transform the entire energy infrastructure NOW, and don't care about the problems with energy delivery that will create right now. (it can't work with current technology for reasons that can be found every day for the last year on the frontpage of "the oil drum")

The GOP, on the other hand is for what you say AND installing "renewables" (which aren't renewable, and can't produce enough energy for very long).

Therefore let's look at the effect of these plans. The democrat plan will mean disaster (massive economic recession) next year, this is due to the simple fact that current renewable technology can't fill our needs at any price.

The GOP plan means disaster (massive economic recession) in 10 years. Or say even 5 years, just enough to get through McCain's first presidency.

Now these plans, at first glance do not seam very different. However there is this thing called "progress". Maybe the missing link (a decent battery) will be discovered next year, or in 3 years, given that we MAINTAIN current economic situation and spend on research. Then again it might take 10 years, and then the GOP's plan can't save us at all.

But here's the catch : the GOP's plan presents a decent chance of saving the energy conundrum, while the democrat plan is immediately going to fail, without chances for repairing the mess afterwards. I know it's counterintuitive, but the democrat plan, without stripmining etc, is *more* damaging to the environment than the GOP plan, as obviously people will start ravaging everything there is when the shit hits the fan. Now THAT will destroy the environment, 99% of every last little animal is going to die (just visit Congo once, or better yet Rwanda, to see just how bad that situation is for the environment).

If you think people are going to follow the law when the choice is legal - but no food, or illegal - but food, then you're sorely delusional.

Therefore even if you are 100% right (and obviously you're oversimplifying), it would be a 100% certainty for my vote to go to the GOP. I prefer a chance for survival to certain doom any day. Yes it's not an ideal choice. Yes is sucks, whatever you say. However the best choice is to keep up doing what we're doing for as long as we can afford it. Saving stuff up will not buy us more than trivial delays (and renewables is really a way of saving stuff up)

And let's not forget that for a centralized control, like the democrats and lefties in general advocate, the only effective "lowering of the population" is going to have to involve more than just birth control. And I don't like the sound of that decision in the hands of democrats or lefties *AT ALL*.

it can't work with current technology for reasons that can be found every day for the last year on the frontpage of "the oil drum")

BS !!



And bicycles and shoe leather "require no new technology".


Well, according to the linked node/4301 article, maybe it's not quite so simplistic as just making a drive-by declaration of "BS!" and moving on. After all, the very title of said article correctly labels its contents - on electrified rail - as detailing only a "Silver BB". In addition, it will have become a fantastically expensive Silver BB - a Platinum BB, really - by the time it reaches enough of the US population to matter very much. And it will take ages to do so, if it ever does.

Likewise, in a technical sense, "bicycles and shoe leather" fill another small niche. They seem primarily suitable for fit youngsters who happen to live in areas where the arrangement of roads and sidewalks happens to make them somewhat safe (yes, I know: some genetically lucky 70-year-old who just did a 300-mile charity ride is going to write a flaming response, but genetic luck is not currently scalable.) And no quantity of "Share the Road" signs - which appear in the weirdest places these days - can ever make safe places to ride or walk out of the crammed-and-jammed sidewalk-free narrow high-speed cowpaths pretending to be roads and carrying enormous trucks all up and down the Eastern Seaboard. In addition, bones shattered from slipping on ice are not especially conducive to continued riding or walking, so throughout much of the country those things are supplementary seasonal transportation only, even in the areas where they are somewhat safe. Perhaps AGW will take care of the ice and snow, but I know at least one individual who counted on it for a couple of years of long-distance weekly commuting in the Midwest, had the bad luck instead to be socked with more snow than he or I could imagine, and eventually made other arrangements.

In other words, your suggestions do work in a technical sense, but in a social sense they fill only a couple of tiny marginally-scalable niches, and only at great expense in money or time. After all, very little of the USA is wall-to-wall people like the populated parts of France, a country where a quarter of the entire national population is crammed into high-rises. (I'm not even sure that such a huge proportion of even the New York Metro Area population is crammed into high-rises.) And very little of it has benevolent year-round weather, most places are too hot in summer to be safe for a lot of riding or biking, or for being stuck in an unventilated train under the merciless sun during a power failure; or too icy in winter to be safe for riding or walking even to a train stop, or both. (The latter is why doctors very often advise older folks to move to the far South where there is no ice, and will no doubt continue to do so until electrical unreliability causes as many injuries or death from heat in the South as occur from ice, snow, and cold in the North.)

Now, as I said once before, if we could all move to Wellington, New Zealand, which has no real winter and little or no real summer, then, problem solved.

Hello PaulS,

I back Alan's ideas 100%, but I bet in a true emergency [with everyone pitching in cooperatively--admittingly, a Big If]: we could very quickly bolt down over huge urban & suburban areas-- narrow gauge, lightweight SpiderWebRiding networks to help keep non-athletic people moving year round. It could probably be done in less than a year. See my prior postings on this subject.

Still cheaper and better than the advocated "Department of Defense" solution.

Please note that I added Segways and NEVs (neighborhood electric vehicles).

Your objections are vastly overblown and overstated. Perfect weather is NOT required to walk or bicycle in. What did we do before the Model T ?


What did we do before the Model T ?

Stay home?

And we did not have the internet and/or cable TV back then !

Best Hopes for Reduced VMT (vehicle miles traveled)


"What did we do before the Model T?

"We" simply did not exist before the Model T. Let me repeat that. "We" simply did not exist before the Model T.

What do I mean by that? As late as 1900, life expectancy at birth was only 46, and life expectancy at age 15 was only 54. And go back a little more and it gets even worse. In that sense, nearly half of the present-day population was not alive, did not exist. That half of the population tends to be very dependent on stable mechanized devices, temperature control, fancy drugs that interfere severely with temperature tolerance and other aspects of physical fitness, and so on. Ferociously expensive techno-coup toys like the Segway (the "It" that was going to redo the entire world) that require constant standing and good balance don't really count. And even the more robust half of the population is more dependent than it was 100 years ago. Back then, people who were not physically robust or who became injured often also became "dead". Or, at best, they became shut up in an attic somewhere, as in an Agatha Christie novel, because unless the household was rich enough to have plenty of servants, the resources were just not available to do any better.

Also, as Leanan hinted, people back then often simply stayed home or stayed within a few blocks of home. Even where there were interurbans, you only went where and when the interurban company felt like taking you, which is one reason why the old-timers so bitterly resented the rail companies that many were ecstatic to be rid of them once and for all. And I've said this before but I'll repeat it: years ago, I asked a very old-timer why a tiny church was located in a particular place just outside of Watertown, Wisconsin, when there was another such church right in town. And he patiently explained to me what a time-consuming expedition a trip into town was, with a family and kids, back in the horse-and-buggy days. And it was also slightly dangerous, it was not that unusual for people to get crushed under wagon wheels or severely injured by horses. So it was desirable to build a church in a location that, with the Model T in the past rather than the future, simply does not scan. Now, perhaps we "ought" to go back to such a crabbed, cramped, dangerous existence, but please do not expect it to occur voluntarily. Modern-day woolly-minded romantics forget how bad life was back then, because it has passed from living memory and the movies only show it in a distorted light that omits or glosses over most of the bad.

Oh, and people who slipped and fell on the ice and shattered a bone sufficiently to get a compound fracture simply died of infection. There were reasons for the short life expectancy and that was one of them. Problem solved. But solutions of that sort are no longer socially acceptable. By the same token, people routinely accepted that, in the process of building a public building of any size in town, most likely a couple of the workers would die of injuries, or, more likely, infections following upon injuries. That's not socially acceptable any more either, nowadays even one such death causes a really big political stink.

Now, as far as "perfect weather" goes, I didn't mention it, you did. I only mentioned the extremes - dangerous heat on the one hand, and dangerous ice on the other hand, although I forgot dangerous thunderstorms, which due to the location of the Gulf of Mexico are far more common in the USA than just about anywhere else on the planet. Most parts of the USA suffer from copious quantities of at least one of those dangers - it's nothing like the relatively equable maritime climate of many of the European places where Americans' families came from. And back before the Model T, people often just died of those things, it was simply accepted as routine. But nowadays, that's not socially acceptable any more - when it happens, it raises a huge political stink.

BTW all this is why I fully expect - like it or not - that most of the accessible coal, oil, and gas will be burned by somebody no matter how loudly James Hansen thunders "perdition" from his pulpit. I just don't observe that any alternatives are being ramped up anything like fast enough for it to be otherwise. We'd need 100 Pickens plans just for starters (and all or nearly all of them minus the natural-gas bit.)

The only caveat I would throw into your mix is that we have mis-used technology. Were we to apply it sensibly and adopt it slowly enough to know the full breadth of the benes and negs. We could then negate a number of the negs of a less technological society. For example, without looking into it, I'm fairly sure it wouldn't be too hard to continue making antibiotics. I'd bet a small sterile room at the local hospital or pharmacy could turn out enough to keep most of the population healthy. Also, we can make very healthy and safe homes from natural materials, which would go a goodly ways to preventing illness and deaths from weather extremes, I'd wager. Etc.

My point is, done right, there no need to abandon tech in simplifying our lives.

Nice post. We Back-to-the-Earth Doomers need to keep a clear head and eye with regards to the issues at hand.


For example, without looking into it, I'm fairly sure it wouldn't be too hard to continue making antibiotics.

You're right and wrong. You focus on one thing and proceed to tell us, correctly, that production is not the problem.

Did you know that medicine production existed in the Roman Empire, 2000 years ago, even before Christ ? Even before that medicine existed in the Hindu kingdoms (all the way up to the moment muslims started slaughtering them).

Needless to say, production of medicine did not stop just because "Vishu-city" (was levelled by muslims, sold for scrap, and corresponds roughly in location to today's islamabad) fell to the muslim invaders. The problem, as you say was not production.

It was transport. We cannot maintain transportation of even basic foodstuffs at current levels, nor at current speeds, without oil.

Therefore, even though you're right, production of medicines will not stop, you're also wrong, since said production will not be able to supply us. Therefore, from our perspective, production of medicines will have largely stopped, since we can't get to them in any reasonable way, nor in any reasonable timeframe.

I'd bet a small sterile room at the local hospital or pharmacy could turn out enough to keep most of the population healthy.

Best Hopes For Closer Readings,



Try as I might, I am unable to see the causal relationship between a Model T Ford and surviving an infection of a compound fracture of the femur.

"Without oil we all die young" - more Olduvai Gorge nonsense.

Then you're blind. Exactly how will you get medicine from the factory to the sick, without oil ? Especially given the, let's put it politely, "limited" rail network in the US ? How will you get them into Alaska, during winter when trains simply don't work ? And we can't make planes fly using electricity (and most certainly not a boeing, I've been hearing about some experiments using a basic hangglider, but that's about it).

I'd love to hear your take on this.

How will you get them into Alaska, during winter when trains simply don't work ?

The Alaskan Railroad operates all winter long. As does the electrified Trans-Siberian railway, the recently electrified rail line to Murmansk (an Arctic port), Swedish and Finnish railroads, etc.

This is a bit nonsensical. There will be enough oil to distribute medicine for a very long time in the USA (see Switzerland with a 100% six year oil embargo). And by the time there is not, we have had the option to build non-oil transportation over many decades.


First of all, railroad does not connect many places in the US, and while you *might* be right about medicines, you're not right about normal foodstuff.

Even medicine distribution will have to run at lower levels obviously, but yes completely critical medicines might be taken care of by the military.

Btw, it was strictly the army in switzerland, and it was only transporting absolute necessities, therefore you're totally wrong about things like TV's, building materials, ... They simply won't be transported.

First of all, railroad does not connect many places in the US,

Factually WRONG !

Name towns of, say 100,000, that do not have a rail spur.

Name villages of, say, 15,000, that do not have rail within 25 miles.

The USA has about 178,000 miles of operating rail track.

Add abandoned lines and the coverage is much greater.

Best Hopes for Fewer Strawmen,


you're totally wrong about things like TV's, building materials, ... They simply won't be transported.

Wrong. Transport them by electrified rail to the city. Run them (outside rush hours) on Urban Rail as trolley freight to local depots and use small electric trucks (or eTrikes for TVs) from there. Lead-acid batteries are adequate for 5 mile hauls.

Farmers go to the town (usually the county seat) twice a month on Friday (if the weather is good) using biodiesel if they have to. When they get too old to farm, they either move in with family or into town (closer to medical services, care giving, etc.)


This infrastructure you talk about ... doesn't exist. And even if it did exist, it would slow down transport by at least several days due to the need for scheduling being more burdensome.

This infrastructure you talk about ... doesn't exist.

Yes it does !

Just not in the USA.

My favorite example (I scanned the list and chose to focus on this one town) is Mulhouse France. Population 110,900 (metro 237,000 or 273,000, memory uncertain today) in the remote corner of France where Germany & Switzerland meet.

Zero trams in 2005. 34 miles by 2012. Recently 200 velibs (rental bikes, first half hour free). Temporary terminus of a TGV line in 2011.

In 2012, a resident of Mulhouse will be able to walk out of their home and catch a tram (or bicycle) to the main train station and be in Paris in 4 to 5 hours on a drop of lubricating oil. And anywhere in France (or London, Amsterdam, etc.) in a long day.

But they are the Can Do, Lets Get it Done French (despite taking the month of August off) and we are just Americans.


Okay it doesn't exist in the USA. And as you so aptly demonstrate, even basic connections will take over 7 years (ie. in 7 years it will not be anything like "every corner of the street"), and these trams by themselves are not sufficient.

The can do, let's get it done french ? Have you ever been in France ? You're joking, right ? Unless you mean "compared to the Saudi's" or something like that.

The can do, let's get it done french ? Have you ever been in France ? You're joking, right ? Unless you mean "compared to the Saudi's" or something like that.

Well is WAS meant to be a bit ironic.

But the French Bureaucracy is a superb model of efficiency and speed compared to GWB Republicans. I have seen both in New Orleans, doing the same task.

The French came into New Orleans as the water was being pumped out and asked "what do you absolutely need ?" The City said "Fire protection for the flooded areas of the city. We cannot protect 80% of the city from the a few stations left unflooded by the river". The French said "We cannot rebuild them all, let us look at a map and decide which ones to do."

Five fire stations were selected, and the French promised to get them operational in 30 days (in the immediate post-K chaos). One of the five took 34 days. They later came back and did two more fire stations.

Private (local & outside) charity did several more.

It took FEMA 19 months to fix seven fire stations and they are STILL not finished !


Vive La France !

And may G*D Damm Republicans !!


I was in Germany last year, and saw people of all ages biking to get around. I can't believe anyone thinks it takes incredible genetics for an adult to be able to bike a few miles or walk a short distance. The arrangement of roads in this country is a huge problem, but one that can be fixed at much less cost than what it cost to build all the highway by-passes planned for the next few years.

See, I knew it.

Yes, and I've been to Japan a couple of times, and, the first time, I too saw people of all ages biking around, and I was amazed. (But as one of the rotating statements on upper right of the TOD page says, "A third of humanity doesn't want to ride bikes anymore; that has profound geopolitical implications." So on the relatively recent trip I didn't see anything like as many; as I said once before, the bike parking at what is now Tokyo Lalaport was maybe 10% of what it had been only 13 years earlier.) But the ages were not distributed anything like evenly - the cyclists were very disproportionately younger folks, just as any reasonable, sane person ought to expect.

Of course that doesn't mean "it takes incredible genetics for an adult to be able to bike a few miles", provided that said adult is young and not suffering from any of the now-minor genetic or congenital issues that used to kill people back in the good old days when most had to do hard labor to survive. But oftentimes, by as early as age 45 or 50 - when a lot of people were already dead back in those good old days - the heart is becoming dodgy, bones break more easily and heal more slowly, the balance organs aren't what they used to be, muscular control is not what it used to be, fooling around with ice and snow is not such a good idea, and medical advice to depart from areas that have ice and snow - or at least to use the car for absolutely everything - is more imminent than it used to be.

Given the demographics of today's populations, I just don't think it's reasonable to be flippant about these things.

Why did China promulgate the car? Why not make great subways, trains, etc. specially in view of their crowded cities? As a country with a Communist past, and now a regime of state corporatism of the biggest and brashest kind? Maybe the problem is right there, the two don’t meld.

In 1993, China produced and consumed 2.9 billion barrels a day. Today its production is up to 3.7, and it consumes close to 10% of world oil. (From Klare, in this months issue of the London Review of books.) Imports rose from zero to 25, 30%; growing some x % every year...Now I’m not in any sense blaming China, nor do even vague oil nos. give any kind of overall picture of energy use in China (or the world), but why the car? What’s the growth of cars in China? One article I read said 20% per year.

Why not free bicycles, great modern mopeds /electric light vehicles, super modern mass transit? Efficient long distance regional trains? And what about planes?

Is this just copy catting the US economic expansion? A stab at status, defined by the car? A desire, or need, to give the ppl their wishes, show that the State is furnishing part of the aspirations of the rich, and middle class?

More blindness to peak oil? (it certainly is that.)

Chinese leaders and Cheney seem to be on the same page!

I guess, finally, building cars and roads is easy to do. It requires little expertise, not much thought, the blueprints are all out there.

You forget one salient detail ... what, exactly, are those roads that the bikes drive upon made of ?

Ooops ... it's ... oil. In other words, while, yes, biking uses less oil than driving a car, it's nowhere near 0 oil. Especially not if you've got to connect every last remote house to the road network it takes quite a bit of oil.

Well built asphalt or concrete bikeways have indefinite life spans (as long as sand and not salt is used in winter).

Bikes also work well on other surfaces such as sandy dirt, grass, gravel, etc.

Venezuela tar (or Canadian tar sands) can supply our bikeway needs for many centuries.


So the democrats, in other words, expect us to transform the entire energy infrastructure NOW, and don't care about the problems with energy delivery that will create right now. (it can't work with current technology for reasons that can be found every day for the last year on the frontpage of "the oil drum")

I don't understand this observation. My reading of the Dems plan, is to try to begin a serious transition towards renewables. No serious politician is proposing we go cold turkey on the existing energy production, any transition is expected to take decades. Both plans are inadeqaute to the challenge. This is a product of the fact that the vast bulk of the voters, don't understand the urgency of the issue. Both Dems, and McCain talk efficiency, the Dems with higher priority, but both even McCain, give it lip service (probably more than that even). I'd give the Dem plans a somewhat better chance of preparing us for the needed changes. That doesn't mean that there isn't danger, that as things begin to bite, that desperate people won't make stupid decisions.

If we had a true autocrat (such as the much maligned Putin), we would have the possibility of an aggressive plan, but in our system, the need for change must first be sold to a skeptical public. That means our response will lag the appearance of the problem.

If we had a true autocrat (such as the much maligned Putin), we would have the possibility of an aggressive plan, but in our system, the need for change must first be sold to a skeptical public

Or a gifted and charismatic orator ?


Or a gifted and charismatic orator?

I had been thinking that way a few months back. But the most gifted orator in the world won't move an audience that has been primed to subconsciously distrust him. This is what the rightwing slime machine does. They are very good at it. If he squeeks through and wins the election nevertheless, they won't let up. True partisans don't hesitate to try to destroy the presidency of an opposition party.

There's just one problem with that. The rightwing slime machine is *right* on a lot of counts about this "messiah".

If we had a true autocrat (such as the much maligned Putin), we would have the possibility of an aggressive plan, but in our system, the need for change must first be sold to a skeptical public. That means our response will lag the appearance of the problem.

And what if we had a true autocrat who DID NOT feel like cleaning up the environment (such as the much maligned Putin), and he killed you instead of limiting co2 production ? Or he simply killed you as a means of limiting co2 production (that would, obviously, help) ?

Because that, it seems to me, is an infinitely more likely scenario if you do get an autocrat in power.

You really ought to read how & why the Shah of Iran was deposed, and why a "progressive" revolution started executing homosexuals.

There's just one problem with that. The rightwing slime machine is *right* on a lot of counts about this "messiah".

Well, Redstaters are correct that it will be end to the 8 year of criminally irresponsible Republican rule.
Obama will permanently end the reign of the K street crooks(Abramoff, DeLay, Reed, Norquist), an illegal Justice Department, the national disgrace of a War-on-Terror, the most wasteful, corrupt war in US history,
the increasing bankruptcy of the government, the increasing ruin of the middle class, the conitnuing enrichment of Ultra High Net Worth Individuals, etc.

But this isn't quite fair. Isn't the real 'messiah' in fact John McCain,
the war hero, the Great White Hope, the Court-stuffer, the Panderer, the non-Elitist elitist, the Maverick?

McCain is the Last Hope to people like religious conservatives who are always looking for the Messiah(religious figure like Hagee) to lead them around by the nose? Or phoney 'values-voters' whose real values are recycled xenophobic and racist paranoia.

And what if we had a true autocrat who DID NOT feel like cleaning up the environment (such as the much maligned Putin), and he killed you instead of limiting co2 production ? Or he simply killed you as a means of limiting co2 production (that would, obviously, help) ?

We HAVE had a true autocrat over the last 8 years in Pres. Bush.
Somebody who ignores the Congress and the Courts, who denies science, who thumbs his nose at the world.

I suppose we were lucky that Bush was not
also homicidal maniac like Stalin or Hitler but then most autocrats (like Franco or Juan Peron) aren't homicidal maniacs.

But that won't satisfied conformist individuals who lust after a military leader to stand up to America's enemies.

(Where do you think Putin got the idea of becoming the next Czar from?)

You really ought to read how & why the Shah of Iran was deposed, and why a "progressive" revolution started executing homosexuals.

Those are Iranian values-voters just like you, not like 'progressives'.
There's absolutely no difference between you and a Basji mullah in your thought patterns.

If they didn't have lame energy plans, they would not be the nominees.

I'd like to click the up arrow a dozen times for this very observant comment.

Paris for President!

Anyone besides me find the film "Idiocracy" more poignant every day?

(After all, Brawndo has what plants need...)

"Or is his plan to invade Russia ?"

i think his plan is to buy as many votes as possible.

Wasn't it Barack who wanted to invade Pakistan ?

Could it be the head of Gazprom, Alexei Miller, knew something we didn't know when he made his predictions of $250 per barrel oil back in June?


I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that Miller sits down to lunch on a regular basis with those who have the power to make $250 per barrel a reality.

Last night, I listened to Jim Puplava's interview with Matthew Simmons on financialsense.com.

One thing that I picked up on was Matt's summary of US supply (ballpark numbers):
- 5 mbpd domestic crude oil production
- 11 mbpd crude oil imports
- 4+ mbpd refined product imports

What struck me is that about 75% of end-use product is dependent upon imports. Tightening crude supplies on the world market are also going to start affecting the availablity of refined products as well.

Politicians never address the issue of just how totally dependent the US economy has become on energy imports. Presenting increased domestic production as the solution (drill,drill,drill) is totally bogus - if domestic production were to *double*, over 50% of liquid fuels would still be imported.

There needs to be a real sea-change in American public perception away from the *cheap gas* mantra. Unfortunately, I just don't see it happening in time to prevent a major societal *experience*.


Definition of the word "experience":

"Experience is vital knowledge that you gained shortly *after* you really needed it."

"drill,drill,drill" is only slightly less shortsighted than "deplete the spr".

what little undrilled teritory we have left is also an spr. the r part is the wild card, we just dont know how much or how little.

and everytime conservation is spoken, it is labeled blasphemy. on an individual scale,it is the only weapon one has, both effective and immediate.

But it provides a delay. A delay that *could* (I admit that's an if, and an uncertainty) help us find the technology necessary to actually free us from oil.

We need a viable battery, and I think a number of research programs are close, but not quite there yet. We need more time. Likewise for better solar panels and construction of factories for the types of solar panels that we already know. And, for a long shot, if God feels really generous, he might even let ITER get operational.

Blowing up the infrastructure today (cutting oil, raising prices, ...) will guarantee our failure with 100% certainty. And while I admit the republican plan still guarantees failure with about 80% or so (and that's optimist), it clearly makes the republican plan the better choice.

I know people like to think we can just make anything happen using "technology" (e.g. "solar panels"), when in reality it's beyond obvious that we can't (solar panels cannot provide base load capacity to solar grids without massive energy storage buffers, which we don't have, not even theoretically). We can't make the US run on solar power, and even if we did know how today (and we don't), we'd still need 3-4 years to build the factories and infrastructure (not true, we need 20 years, but we could prevent the worst disasters in 3-4 years if necessary).

In other words, given these plans, I'm voting for the republican plan, even if it seems to destroy more environment in the short term. You should visit Rwanda, and check out what happens to the environment when people are left without power or transportation. It's not pretty. There's nothing (and I mean NOTHING) left.

We need a viable battery...

No we do not !

Did you even read the links I put up ?

We can electrify about 34,000 miles of main-line railroads (and expand their speed & capacity) in seven years. Trade 20 BTUs of oil for 1 BTU of electricity. Run all that I could hope (Urban + Inter-City) for in a dozen years on 3% of the electricity that we use today.

VERY easy to save that 3%. Start with un-repealing the appliance energy standards that GWB repealed.

I published a list of "on the shelf" Urban Rail projects that could start construction in 12 to 36 months. After that, we could what the French are doing, build light rail in every town of 100,000. Then go back in history and build them in towns of 25,000.

Look at the fuel economy (using electricity) for Urban Rail


2,000 mpg (using electricity) good enough for you ? NO BATTERIES REQUIRED !

Our Republican President, after almost a decade of planning, effort and political compromises by Virginia, killed a project that would have saved 20,000 to 25,000 b/day of oil less than 3 weeks before ground breaking and the start of construction.

I have quoted the Swiss, who transport 1/3rd of the freight ton-km and 1/6th of their pax-km with just 3% of their transportation energy (all electricity) on electrified rail. The other 97% of the energy was almost all oil (some electrified trolley buses). Do a little algebra.

BTW: the Republicans refuse to think and consider alternatives. That is why they will be a far worse choice.

Best Hopes for Logical Analysis,


That's great. Say ... does your local walmart have a rail connection ? No ?

Seems to me that would be a hell of a lot of very manual labour to get that amount of stuff from the train station into the local walmart.

Obviously that would mean that the local walmart would not do it, as it's not economically possible without said rail connection. So it's simply going to ... close.

And stuff like amazon, etc. simply ceases to exist, obviously.

You are delusional if you think that with a transport network a few thousand times less dense than the road network you'll be able to accomplish the same. Do you seriously disagree with this ? What you're suggesting means a massive recession, back to the economic levels of the 1960, or at best the 1970.

And you won't find many volunteers. Heck, I don't even think you'll volunteer yourself.

You can trade off handling costs against oil costs.
If you do most of the miles by train and then transfer the containers to truck for the last few miles to the store instead of sending it the whole way by road you cut petrol usage greatly.
Should further economies be needed then electric trucks do fine for railhead to store transport - they are impractical for long distance, not local:
World's Most Powerful Electric Truck : TreeHugger
Powerful Electric Trucks to be Manufactured in Los Angeles

For home delivery from the store electric delivery vehicles do the job very well:
English electric trucks heading to America | Diesel Progress North American Edition | Find Articles at BNET.com

In another post you mention concerns about asphalt for roads being produced from oil.
Concrete can also be used, and some versions produce little CO2 - a lot of the damage is caused by heavy trucks anyway, so roads should last a lot longer if heavy goods traffic is restricted.

A combination of rail and electric delivery vehicles should be able to keep goods flowing.
All far from BAU, but hardly a a total cessation of activity.

You change the goalpost ... I said a "massive economic recession".

And now you claim I'm wrong because I claimed "a total cessation of activity", which is not what I claimed, admitting that it's "All far from BAU" (Business As Usual), which is what I claim.

But it *will* be a massive economic recession, don't you agree ?

But it *will* be a massive economic recession, don't you agree ?

Certain if GWB/ R policies stay in place.

Quite possibly not if improved D policies are implemented.

I am lead author on a peer reviewed paper submitted to a division of the Nat'l Academy of Engineering that addresses that as part of a larger overview of transportation policy.

Hint: Drill, drill, drill is *NOT* the answer.

World class econometric modeling shows that current policies lead the USA to 3rd World status (and exploding CO2 emissions). Better policies (D+) lead to higher GDP/capita, -50% CO2 and -62% oil consumption.

I would agree that a very large economic recession is going to happen anyway - the cessation of activity I was referring to was because you seemed to think that it would not be possible to supply stores such as Wall-Mart without long distance road transport, and this is the position I would disagree with.

"But it *will* be a massive economic recession, don't you agree ?"

This is a fair comment.

My take is that we are headed into a recession.
How massive it will be depends on two things:
1. Whether we can recover from the banking crisis sufficiently to get funding for next generation transport in place before peak oil hits
2. War. If we are stupid enough to get our oil supply shut off artifically before decline kicks in around 2012 then we will just collapse. Not two ways about it.

The interesting point is how much can be done in time.
We have about three years till decline kicks in and we're headed into a recession right now.
Judging by recent history we have only barely started to pick up the ball on this.
Here is my personal take on our scorecard so far:
We have a B- on getting going with renewal electricity and we have a B+ on progress with batteries and an A- on progress with electric vehicles. We have a D- on installation of electrified rail infrastructure and we have an F on construction of economy-scale of electric vehicles.

How much can be done in three years and how will the consumer hold up?

I don't think it looks like we will make it. We need to cover our distribution and agricultural transportation fleet at a minimum functional level by 2011. The personal transportation fleet of 200 million vehicles cannot possibly be covered in time. To keep the economy functioning we also need non oil dependent buses. Can we build 10 million electric buses or fuel 10 million biodiesel buses in three years?

But it could be worse. We could be completely sitting on our hands. At least we are moving in the right direction.

Fingers crossed that we don't get a war.

That's great. Say ... does your local walmart have a rail connection ? No ?

Actually, the port railroad runs about 120' away from my local Walmart (a 7 block walk from my home :-)

If they had thought a head of time, it would have been very cheap to add a rail spur. Today, perhaps $250,000.

PS: I took an on-line survey (on my receipt, chance @ $1,000). One question is how many miles did you drive. Smallest option was 1 to 5 miles (I am <1 mile) and no option for walking (which is how I got there). So I clicked 100+ miles :-)


And you won't find many volunteers. Heck, I don't even think you'll volunteer yourself

I am living the lifestyle that I promote. And enjoying it :-)

Best Hopes for Low Energy Urbanism,


"That's great. Say ... does your local walmart have a rail connection ? No ?"
It doesn't need one. Electric 12.5 ton trucks with a 200 miles range exist right now.
They are about double the up-front cost of a similar sized diesel powered truck but they have 1/3 (or less) running and maintenance costs. Net net the electric truck is cheaper over the lifetime of the vehicle.

So let's add in a 50% buffer. If you have a walmart within a 50 mile range of a railroad you can get deliveries to it.

As for manual labor? I personally lugged a fridge 800 yards on a dolly from the local Sears in the middle of winter (it was -20 outside). The only problem was all the rubber neckers stopping traffic to get a look at what I was doing.

As for "road network a few thousand times less dense" this is a straw man.
The road network is going nowhere.
Even if we don't figure out how to use the interstate network for long distance, we certainly can use sections of it for short distance freight and the local road network will be going nowhere and will be used when I'm an old, old man.

Unless we decide to fight a war and get our oil supply shut off before we actually get a chance to do any of this of course. But that's another story.

calgarydude -

The thing that I find the most disturbing is the 4+ million bpd of refined product. I didn't realize it was that large. Do you happen to have a break-down of what countries these refined products are obtained from?

Unless a high percentage of it is from friendly (so far) Canada, then this single statistic is cause for worry. It suggests that in the event of say an all-out war in the Middle East, tapping into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve might not be able to make up for the shortfall because we might not have sufficient spare refining capacity to make up for the interrupted imports of refined product.

It appears that the US oil companies have little interest in increasing domestic refining capacity due to low margins and would seem to prefer to act as a wholesaler between overseas refiners and the US consumers. This might make perfect business sense, but is very short-sighted from a national security standpoint.

"Do you happen to have a break-down of what countries these refined products are obtained from? ... Unless a high percentage of it is from friendly (so far) Canada, then this single statistic is cause for worry."

A good source of statistical data about Canadian petroleum is the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers Website at:

Canadian oil exports are currently 1.7 megabarrels per day, presumably all to the USA, mostly from Alberta. The wildest, most optimistic scenario is that the Alberta oilsands could get up to 3 megabarrels per day by 2010 and 5 megabarrels by 2020. Given the long lead times for oilsands production, few people in the industry believe that.

Alberta's conventional oil production peaked in 1979, then fluctuated on a plateau for a decade due to secondary recovery methods, then fell off a cliff. Today our conventional oil production is about one-third of what it was at peak despite three times as many wells producing. The oilsands are the only thing preventing peak oil in Alberta but at a tremendous cost in infrastructure and environmental problems.

The really crazy thing is we also export a lot of finished products to the point where net finished product imports are about 2.5Mbpd http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/hist/mtpexus2M.htm

This next link tells you where those exports go, http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/pet_move_expc_a_EP00_EEX_mbbl_m.htm

The really crazy thing is we also export a lot of finished products

I think this attitude is an example of letting emotional thinking lead towards economic nationalism. We are already seeing this with some countries banning food exports. The reality is that it makes economic sense to import some, and export some of the same product. Most of our finished product exports go to Mexico. Cut off their refined products, and they would cut off our oil imports. With an long urbanized border with Canada, it makes perfect sense, that in some regions finished products are exported North, and in other regions South. To not do so would be inefficient.

The big countries for exports are Mexico and Canada. I believe that some of this is that we import some of their oil, refine it for them, and re-export it to them.

These numbers are not very accurate.

First 39 weeks of 08 Crude imports averaged 9868 M brls per day.

Domestic production of crude is about 5.15 Million Brl's per day plus 2.3 Million Brl's NGL's and about 1 million Brl's of refinery gain. That's equivelant to about 8.5 Million Brl's of domestic production.

Current total product demand is running at about 20.2 Million Brl's. So 8.5 plus 9.87 leaves about 1.85 for product imports.

Current week imports
Crude 9655
Total motor gasoline 785
Kerosene Jet fuel 74
Dist fuel oil 136
Resid fuel oil 311
Propane 166
other products 1130
Total product imports 2602
Product exports 1474
Net product imports 1128
Crude exports 27
Total Net imports 10756 M Brl's per day

Not close to 4 million Brl's of product

EIA Data

Dip--2/3 of that refinery gain is from refining imported crude oil, and thus is an import as well.

True: However due to the fact the refining is done in the US the gain is not counted as imports.

Refined product imports include refinery gain but not crude. Also imported crude is less than half of total petroleum product consumed.

dipchip -

Well, if those product numbers are correct (and these days it's hard to know which numbers to trust), then 2.6 million bpd is certainly much less of a cause for concern than 4+ million bpd. I feel better already.

However, if indeed there is a trend for the US to increase the percentage of imported refined product, then from a national security standpoint it is still a trend in the wrong direction.

In support of this notion are the rather blatant threats by the US to blockade shipments of refined product to Iran if it does not comply with US/Israeli demands that they cease uranium enrichment. I bet the Iranians now wish they had invested in additional refining capacity rather than put themselves at the mercy of others.

Thats a interesting angle on a an Iran/US/Israeli conflict. Assuming once it started that no refined products would be allowed into Iran they would have serious economic problems fairly quickly.

I could not find any recent data on food imports but older data indicate that they are a net importer of food also.

American actions in the region north of Iran may also have the desire to blockade Iran as part of the goal.

Georgia would be important as a base for a full Iranian blockade.

Azerbaijan exports refined products as well as crude oil via Georgia. Now it can either redirect these products to Russian Black Sea ports or to Iran.

There is a closed Azeri-Iran rail link through Armenia (friction between the Armenia and Azerbaijan). Iran and Azerbaijan are in advanced planning for a direct rail link.

There is a quite active rail link between Turkmenistan with access to Russia and Kazakhstan from there. Refined product could come in that way. Not sure what the Kazahk refinery situation is,

Soon (months I think) there will be a rail link to Pakistan and on to India. Rail trade between Pakistan & India is "limited". How much spare refinery capacity does Pakistan have ? Will Pakistan import products for trans-shipment ?

And then there are open rail links to Turkey (volume limited by rail ferry across a large lake, land bypass in planning) and two rail links to Iraq under construction (mainly on the Iranian side).

I assume that Iran has a lot of product in storage. If I were in charge of product procurement in Tehran, my first choice would be to buy Azeri product and rail ferry it across the Caspian Sea to an Iranian port with rail. they are looking for a market ATM.

Product via rail ferry across the Caspian can be imported directly from Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan into Iran.

As of 2006

Then get some from Pakistan, a lot via Turkmenistan and at least a little via Turkey (from Iraq via Syria & Turkey ?)

A soluble problem IMHO,


Yes, these are much better numbers than those I quoted.

What I am trying to get a handle on is the level of vulnerability to supply disruption. The domestic transportation sector runs largely on gasoline, diesel, and kerosene which (AFIK) are currently derived mostly from crude oil. My previous post was intended to highlight the dependencies on crude oil.

Interuptions of some supplies (propane?) might cause only minimal damage to the economy.`But others, like diesel or gasoline, would likely have major repercussions with only a modest decrease in supply. There is also the separate, but important, issue of dependency on imported fertilizer components (44% for ammonia, IIRC).

One way that supplies can be reduced is by the simple application of brute force as we are currently seeing in the Caucasus. Certainly all the *stans are now unlikely to try sending their resources to the west.

Another way is simply by outbidding western countries on the open market. China, India, and several others now have the financial clout to do this.

Finally, internal consumption is going to remove whatever supply remains. I watched a 1 hour special on Dubai last night. It's twice as insane as China.

No miracle that I can see will bring enough secure supplies to support our current lifestyles. So then, it is our lifestyles that are going to have to change.

That's the big issue that none of the candidates want to talk about.

Thanks for your reply:

I have been sitting outside sipping suds and talking energy issues for the past 4 hours so I am in no condition for an intelligent reply.

"That's the big issue that none of the candidates want to talk about."

This was the Jist of most of our conversation.

We are in a heap of doo doo, however I expect things to unravel at a much slower pace than some here are projecting.

So what does McCain recommend? That we increase our defense budget even further so that we can be prepared to force Russia to provide the world more energy in the future?

McCain claims, correctly I might add, that either we do that, or we accept that people will die-off en masse.

Now you might say "oh no we'll save". But let's not forget reality : saving even 50% of the energy per capita buys us about 2 years, and there's no way in hell we'll ever decrease that by 50% in 2 years without endangering people's lives, or even outright killing them.

So what's you alternative ? Don't say birth control, as it's not enough by itself.

Spend the money instead on a crash Non-Oil Transportation system.

Electrify our main-line rail lines, build out Urban Rail even faster than the French are, promote bicycling (the fastest non-oil alternative), build out walkable neighborhoods with 1/3rd mile of Urban Rail on a crash basis. And a tax credit for Segways and NEVs. Some electric trolley buses.



Raise gas taxes $1/gallon immediately and then 3 cents/gallon/month for twenty years.

Ban the sale of any car (and all SUVs) with less than 28 mpg.

Have license tag taxes of up to $2,000/year, based on mpg.

Crash insulation and better windows and solar & tankless hot water heaters to free up natural gas (and some oil) for specialty transportation (buses, garbage trucks).

Keep building wind turbines. Raise appliance efficiency standards.

All better, and cheaper, than the Dept of Defense "solution".

Soon, we could have a backbone Non-Oil Transportation system.

Best Hopes for non-Dept. of "Defense" "solutions",



It's late and I am livid over this:

Have license tag taxes of up to $2,000/year, based on mpg.


Lots of us really need big 4x4 trucks. I'm old and can't afford two grand for tags. Maybe we should have a similar tax on an any a$$holes that live below the water level.

You want to buy me a new 4x4 truck with high gas mileage? If not, shut up.


Todd, I suspect Alan's comments were targeted at the 95% of SUV and truck owners who don't have a legitimate need for them. I think exceptions for certain work uses, by region for weather types, number of vehicles in the family, etc., might be workable.


So "you're only going to take them from the assholes". Of course this will all happen without people lying about what they need, without political corruption and without people getting favors from local police or military.

Because we all know, republicans aren't exactly known for being 100% free of corruption. But they are known for being less corrupt than democrats.

These politics were tried in the Soviet Union, and we all know how they ended.

Have you sold YOUR OWN car already ? (and before you ask : I can't do my job without my car, so I'm not going to)

Have you sold YOUR OWN car already ?

I keep it for hurricane evac and occasional use. My goal is less than 60 gallons this year (and less than 3,000 kWh). Ahead on one, behind on the other.

But they are known for being less corrupt than democrats

BS !!

Eisenhower is long dead. Today's Rs are MORE corrupt that D's (and the neo-cons did have to work hard to catch up, but GWB has done it !)

New Orleans has been a honey pot for GWB's friends. Only one GWB Cabinet member caught so far, but get a D US Attorney here and the numbers will grow. Jerkoff in "Homeland Security" among them.

I was a Republican from age 19 till age 49-52 till GWB cured me,

Best Hopes for Opening Your Eyes and Seeing Reality,


You neglected to answer the real question : who decides who loses his/her car ?

Unless you simply want to raise the price and only have "the rich" have cars. Meaning you probably won't have one either.

My personal favorite would be to tilt the tables away from the Gov't subsidizing automobiles and Suburban sprawl as they do today, and tilt the other way.

Have gas taxes pay 100% of the cost of road maintenance (no more property taxes for city streets that Suburbanites get to use for free) plus a good % of schools, fire, police, military, medical care paid for out of gas taxes & car fees.

Any new roads and many older roads turned into toll roads.

Congestion charges where good Urban Rail exists (and build Urban Rail FAST !).

Make federal aid for Urban Rail contingent on zoning changes that encourage TOD (Transit Orientated Developing) within 1/3rd of a mile of Urban Rail stations.

Add a risk surcharge to any federally supported home mortgage depending on the distance from Urban Rail. +0.75% higher interest for most of Suburbia, +0.4% if within 5 miles of an urban rail station, +0.2% if within 1 mile of a station, 0% premium if within 1/3rd mile. Make redlining legal again for car dependent Suburbia.

Special high property taxes on parking lots (dead space that spreads communities further apart). If a shopping center builds assisted living housing on a corner of the parking lot, their property taxes should not go up (as much property tax on assisted living (a social good) as there was on the asphalt (a social bad)).

Convert as much car parking to bicycle parking as needed to make sure that !00% of the time their is available bicycle parking. If not enough left for cars, too bad.

Convert some two-way, two lane city streets into one lane, one way for cars and two way two lane bike lanes. Say one in four on a grid.

Higher license tag fees.

You will be quite free to keep your car, you may just not want to.

*ALL* of the above are MUCH cheaper than invading and taking someone else's oil ! Morally superior too (I know not a consideration for Rs).

Best Hopes for "tilting the other way",


In Switz. gas tax, road tax (very small, 40 dollars a year for a private car), car tax (staggered in function of HP, zero for the small eco-friendly), truck tax to cross the country, pays for all the roads, and some of the trains: the argument there is that subsidizing the trains, or investing in new train (>tunnel) infrastructure keeps car traffic more fluid, makes driving bearable, or even possible. So far nobody has objected.

In Geneva we will soon vote on banning SUVs (it’s more complicated than that, the limits are fixed according to mileage, CO2 emissions, weight, many limousines will have to go as well) and we have new urban terrarists who let the air out of SUV tires, and put a photocopied screed on the windscreen:

NOw YOu CAn WAlk is the message.

Will all this PC agitation, and the Gvmt., it has to be said, keeping the accounts more or less straight, have any effect beyond making or forcing ppl to be more eco-conscious in a trivial way? Will consumption of oil (about half comes from Lybia and is sold by Lybia here) or electricity lower?

No way.

Ppl just junk their SUVs, sell them to Poles or Russians for what they can get and buy two or three Smart Cars.

In other words, only cars for the rich. You can talk it up all you want, but you know that's what a hell of a lot of people will say ...

and ...

they'll be right, obviously.

Many rich people live in the French Quarter without cars. Quite happily too. Some rich (mainly elderly) live w/o cars in my neighborhood as well.


Because we all know, republicans aren't exactly known for being 100% free of corruption. But they are known for being less corrupt than democrats.

Jesus I get sick and tired of the cons/neo-cons falling back to their agenda bull crap. Talk about the issues and leave your politics up yer arse where they belong. And if you're going to lie, do it with someone else. I've no patience for it. The worst part is, if you can make such a blatantly false statement with apparent sincerity, how do you expect others to take **anything** you say seriously?

The world is going to burn. How far will your truck get you then? There are larger issues afoot. It is time you figured that out. And, perhaps, found a way to live without the truck.

I now drive an LPG vehicle and am down to using it about once a week. I hope to be driving no vehicle within a year.


Have license tag taxes of up to $2,000/year, based on mpg.

I too don't like the idea of high license fees based upon mpg. In the past I've owned both 4*4 and efficient commuter vehicles. So the 4*4 should not pay a large tax, unless its usage is such that is causes a large amount of uel to be burned. Thats why a gasoline/oil tax makes the most sense. High license fees, simply makes the ownership of a specialty vehicle, for specialty usage only uneconomic.

In any case, I shouldn't have been so snarky.


In Texas and Nebraska farm pickups have special registration rates. In fact a tandem axel farm trailer plate in Texas is registered For $5. Don't get caught hauling oil field equipment.
In Nebraska the pickup plate says
Not for Hire.
I'm not familiar with other states.

Several ways to do it. If you have a farm or commercial tag, much lower tag fees.

But if you "need" it to haul your boat to the lake on weekends, and the alternative is war to grab somebody else's oil, do without.

Not all taxes are fair. In fact, someone can be found for each and every tax, that will claim that particular tax is unfair.

This list was created when someone was OK with spending money on grabbing someone else's oil "because there was no alternative".

I have read about the Swiss experience's in WW II. They got down to using less oil in a year than the average American uses in a day.

Oil for the Military (they were surrounded on all sides by Nazi Germany), medical, police and what was left over went to farmers, but the farmers got very little. Civilians were drafted for farm work. Most took the tram or train out to the countryside, and then walked or bicycled to their assigned farm for day work. During planting and harvest they may sleep out there in the farmhouse or the barn.

IF THE ALTERNATIVE IS WAR TO GRAB SOMEONE ELSE'S OIL do you grow enough food for sale to justify having a gas guzzler ?

I do not know.


Please note that this thread started with tomc's claim that the USA had "no alternative" to spending more on war to grab someone else's oil. That we will all die if we do not steal their oil.

My list was not for any real world scenario, but to this extreme straw man he created to justify neo-con policies.

A little while ago I got into a friendly conversation at the gas pump with a guy who was filling his pickup. He remarked that he would get a small car if he didn't need his pickup. I said "Oh, are you in construction or farming?" His response was "No, I need a big vehicle to pull my snowmobiles and my 4-wheeler."

Now, I'm not berating his modes of recreation, but I will say this. When TSHTF, many of us will define our "needs" very differently.

I suppose another thing I could draw from this is there is a large amount of demand destruction that can occur without society becoming unglued.


If we don't force Russia to give us energy there will be massive die-off? What comical fun!

Newsflash: War with Russia will get you there a whole lot faster.

Newsflash: Russia's output is already falling. Down to squeezing turnips, are we?

What I find fascinating is this idea that other people's resources are ours to take. Where does this thinking come from? Is it embodied in the Constitution? No. Is it embodied in the founding father's ideology? No. Washington said beware of foreign entanglements. Is it embodied in the DIY, pick-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps mentality of our forebears? No. Is it embodied in the idea of free trade? No. Where, then, did this sense of entitlement and ownership of all we desire regardless of location, morals or ethics, come from? And why does it apply only to ourselves? If we have a "right" to the lifestyle to which we've become accustomed, why doesn't everyone else have the same right, or even the right to have our lifestyle? What makes us special that we above all others deserve to live, and live well?

It is not something you hear from your typical American unless prompted, really. You ask Joe if he wants a handout, and if he's one who believes in hard work and not asking for charity unless absolutely necessary, he'll say no. But ask him to do without oil and tell him THEY don't want us to have OUR way of life and see how greedy for a handout he is. If my neighbor has a garden, do I assert Neighborhood Eminent Domain an just go take what I want, or even need? Why is it different on the international level?

This belief that everything is ours for the taking goes against everything this nation was founded on. How do people not see that?

Where it comes from may be explained by the myth of American exceptionalism and superiority. It may come from so many Americans being so ignorant of the world outside of the US, making it easy to objectify and dehumanize others. It may come from simply believing the lie that those other guys just hate us and want us all dead - there's plenty of oil! It may come from the intentional Big Business-created media blitz to convince Americans debt and consumerism is THE American way.

It may be that so few Americans have any clue what is written in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Federalist Papers and what has been spoken by those that have gone before.

Why are Americans so afraid to compete? Have we lost faith in our ability to do so? Or, are we just that lazy now? Are we not willing to save our own arses by the grit of the dirt beneath our nails? Can we not step outside, look at our neighbors and just set to building some windmills, some can and bottle solar air heaters? Etc.? Can we not collectively just turn off the AC, open the windows and fold ourselves a fan out of yesterday's newspaper?

Show me a room of 100 people and I'll sow you a room with no more than a handful of people that are truly Americans by the measure of traditional ideology as propounded by the Founding Fathers. Hell, I'll bet it's less than 1/100.


What I find fascinating is this idea that other people's resources are ours to take. Where does this thinking come from? Is it embodied in the Constitution? No. Is it embodied in the founding father's ideology? No. Washington said beware of foreign entanglements. Is it embodied in the DIY, pick-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps mentality of our forebears? No. Is it embodied in the idea of free trade? No. Where, then, did this sense of entitlement and ownership of all we desire regardless of location, morals or ethics, come from? And why does it apply only to ourselves? If we have a "right" to the lifestyle to which we've become accustomed, why doesn't everyone else have the same right, or even the right to have our lifestyle? What makes us special that we above all others deserve to live, and live well?

Having just read a good portion of Howard Zinn's "People's History of the United States" I would say that this thinking that the resources are ours to take has always been part of the American mind set! I think Americans, by and large, throughout history have inherited the mindset of the old Viking raiders: "Never earn by sweat what you can take by blood."

My cynical observation for the day.

Perhaps Zinn would say I was ranting about human nature, not American nature.


No, I think your original post was correct...there are discernable differences in national "characters," manifested in their respective actions (watch what we do, not what we say). As many here have noted, technically many of our energy dilemmas are solvable, we just lack the will to do so. It's useful to examine the psychological "barriers" that prevent us from even recognizing the true nature of our predicament, IMO.

"McCain claims, correctly I might add, that either we do that, or we accept that people will die-off en masse."

Bull pucky. If we try to grab Iran's oil and Russia blockades oil going west then we will have to share the remaining dregs with Europe and Japan. We will die off THEN.

In any case, let's take your argument at face value and imagine that it were true:
IF we are really so screwed that we have no solution of either reducing our energy usage while maintaining an acceptable level of transportation (but we do) then "saving us" for a couple of years simply means we die a couple of years later.

If you really believe that line then it is a waste of time trying to save ourselves because most of our civilization is doomed (you can count north america, most of europe, china and much of latin america here)
Thus taking the logical step to save as many humans as possible (only those currently not using oil can surive) the sensible thing to do is start a large scale nuclear exchange between North America, Russia and China.

Do you advocate this logical extrapolation of your comments or in the face of other evidence and arguments presented on this site do you concede your point has no basis as a sensible policy?

re: the story about corrsion of ng pipe.

in most of the us, black pipe is mandated by building codes. and the reason is that while galvanized is stronger, it is more brittle and subject to fatigue.

black pipe is ductile and for residential ng use, oxygen corrosion and strength are not critical. ng is delivered at low pressure in residential use. if the pipe is underground, it needs to be coated.

Here was another story I heard on the radio yesterday afternoon:

Car designer Chelsia Lau talks to Carrie Gracie on The Interview

Chelsia Lau grew up on an island off Hong Kong which has no cars -- yet somehow she found herself studying car design in the United States.

Now she is a top designer for the Ford Motor Company and thinks cars are the highest form of design. She recently took part in a Creative Hong Kong exhibition in London.

Currently based in Shanghai, she tells Carrie Gracie what makes four wheels beautiful.

Frankly I found this story difficult to listen to. To me this woman is the epitome of a telephone sanitizer. She talks about how they design cars to get people to fall in love with them so that they want to purchase right away.

The interviewer asked her whether she had concerns related to global climate change or not. It sounded like this was an uncomfortable question - finally she said something about biofuels, but she didn't say it convincingly - she made it sound more like just a talking point.

Here is a good article that demand destruction is minimul and is more equated to economic destruction.

I think 2008 might very well look different in 2009 than it does now.

memmel has alluded to this, and I see evidence of it also, that on the supply side there are telltale signs of manipulation, the extent of which probably will not be known until 2009.

And on the demand side, if herd behavior and speculation drove oil to an unreasonable $147 and natural gas to over $13 per MCF, then that same herd has now piled on the other side, driving oil and gas below where they fundamentally should be.

This latter idea, by the way, doesn't reflect my opinion on the subject, because I don't know enough about trading to develop an opinion. It was instead expressed here:

Yet if the key dynamic is instead a Bursting Leveraged Speculating Community Bubble, entirely different dynamics are now in play. Enormous short positions have built up, the vast majority as part of “market neutral,” “quant” and myriad risk hedging strategies. If today’s dislocation develops into a significant unwind of these positions, the market immediately then becomes vulnerable to a disorderly “melt-up” followed almost inevitably by a sharp reversal and disorderly decline.


Matt Simmons' daughter got married yesterday.

Guess that's why he's been too busy to talk up the price of oil. ;-)

Doesn't seem that the daughter or husband or in-laws have read Matt's book nor listened to his thoughts on the coming energy crisis as evidenced by their professions: an event planner, residential sales broker, furniture reproduction importer and an IT specialist. Not one farmer in the bunch! Nor any hints of ELP! It's a good thing that Matt has deep pockets.

Oh, really, LeeAnn!

How would you know?

Maybe one is a "Peak Oil Event Planner," the IT specialist is planning for "Post Peak IT Solutions," the real estate professional is selling high-buck bug-out homes, and the furniture importer is .... well, maybe looking for another line of work.

You never know, unless you do, and then you don't need to speculate at all.

Not that speculation isn't fun, sometimes.

Being a Doomer, I find speculation about future scenarios to be debilitatingly depressing. Speculations about the lives of the "Peak Oil Rich and Famous" might be mildly entertaining for some, but I am entertained only if such speculation involves absurdly imaginative caricature. Not that the real lives of those related to the Stars of Peak Oil Enlightment might not be terribly dim and mundane, I just do not know.

It is said that the Reverend Billy Graham's son was rather wild -- with a love of booze, drugs, automatic weapons, and the like -- until time to take over his Holy Daddy's Evangelical Empire. Who knows? there is no National Enquirer for the Religious Right or for Peak Oil Perfect Practitioners.

We are all the poorer for this, no doubt.

So life was one big booze, coke and whore party until it was time to lead the Empire for Billy's kid? Who does that remind us of of?

1925 Doble Series E Steam Car

This is a video presentation by Jay Leno describing one of the stream cars in his collection. The Doble cars used a boiler that heated from the top down and could be underway just a couple of minutes after startup. In the video, Jay drives the steam car on California freeways without difficulty and he compares the experience to driving a car with automatic transmission.

External combustion engines should be able to accept many more types of fuel; perhaps powdered coal (or powder suspensions), kerosine, methanol or whatever else might be available. Steam power for cars (trucks, tractors, etc) is probably another forgotten technology that should now be revived.

Far out. Figures that since steam locomotives barely lost out in performance to diesel that some well built cars were designed as well. Attractive looking as well. No, I'm not a telephone sanitizer...these things looked like your Packards or Rolls, not some Model T variant on Old 97.

Damn Interesting » The Last Great Steam Car

Perhaps most impressively, the Model B was amazingly swift. The prototype could accelerate from zero to sixty miles per hour in just fifteen seconds, a feat described as "remarkable acceleration" by Automobile magazine in 1914. The contemporary Model T from Ford took about forty seconds to reach its top speed of 40-50 miles per hour.

I spent some time trying to build a steam powered car back in the early 1970's. After much effort, including 6 months playing in a machine shop, I re-discovered the old truth that the basic Rankine steam cycle is not as efficient as the Otto or Diesel internal combustion engines. And, they tend to be larger and heavier too. Not having lots of funds to spend, I gave up on my idea before I actually built an entire machine. I did build a burner that was sort of a cross between what's inside a jet engine and the burner used in an oil furnace.

As I recall, GM built a prototype of a modern steam car back in the 1960's. That was about the same time that Chrysler built their gas turbine car. Both didn't get into production and I think one reason was the relatively poor fuel economy. What we need now is efficient transportation, not neat techno gadgets to wow the neighbors. Sorry, guys, there's still no free lunch out there...

E. Swanson

Black_Dog -

I can appreciate the problems you must have encountered in trying to build your own steam car. I was once toying around with the idea of building a small and crude steam tricycle that I could putter about in the yard with, but after making some preliminary design drawings I gave up on the idea as being too difficult to pull off.

Like a lot of things, a steam propulsion system is simple in concept but extremely complex in execution. This is even more true for an automobile which, unlike a stationary or marine power plant, requires the ability to handle intermittent and rapidly changing loads plus the ability to shut down and start up in a reasonable amount of time.

I have a technical magazine in which is a reprint of several pages from a White steam car's operating manual. Man, that car was a bewildering maze of pipes, valves, controls, and all manner of auxilliary components like boiler feedwater pumps, lube oil pumps, condensers, etc. It was far more mechanically complex than even a modern ICE auto. It is no wonder that the steam car lost out to the ICE.

During the late 1960s, Bill Lear, the creator of the Lear Jet and super entrepeneur, put his considerable talents and money toward creating a practical modern steam car. As I recall, he managed to make a fairly powerful and light-weight steam engine that could reach full steam pressure in but a few minutes. (If I recall correctly, he may have used something other than steam for the working fluid, but I'm not positive.) However, Lear never could overcome the poor fuel efficiency inherent in a steam engine. After spending much time, effort, and money he abandoned the project.

While I love steam cars, I also have to face the fact that for automotive applications steam power is a technological deadend. If one wants to go the external combustion route, then a sterling engine is a far more promising route, but even that has its own set of drawbacks. When you get right down to it, the ICE is perfectly suited for the automobile. Now if it weren't for that pesky little problem of finding liquid fuel........

BTW, my statement yesterday on a CAT 3 in the GOM
was not meant for Fay but for the fact that there will be a CAT 3 in the GOM.

Cienaga del Zapata/Cuba (the peninsula SSW of Habana), the RAMSAR wetlands site, is key to Fay.

If Fay gets to the West of it the Model Tracks diverge.


Right now they look almost 50/50.

Even though THC says Naples.

By 5 PM E we should know.

Currently predicted to track further west towards the panhandle area.

National Hurricane Center, USA

Track has moved to the West.

Apalachicola is now the target.

But most Model Tracks have it going to the Bay or West.

It'll be interesting watching oil going down Monday.


I do *NOT* like CLP5 and CLIP !

Best Hopes for no more than a Cat 2,


Still an outlier, but what is interesting me-

is that only one track has Fay moving over Florida and
that one has it turning back.

Still the National Hurricane Center has it going in
N of Tampa.

7PM Update 17 August 2008
Fay is continuing to move mostly west and slightly north, remaining south of Cuba, the forecast track has shifted a bit west, but remains at a very odd angle, so unfortunately any position along Florida may be impacted. The watch area needs to begin preparations, and the rest of Florida needs to watch closely.

The relatively weak and broad nature of the system is causing difficulty trying to keep track of the center of circulation, this system is a huge headache for the National Hurricane Center trying to forecast it."

Tampa needs to get ready for a Cat 3.

All the models that scrape up the West Coast are far worse for Tampa than the previous track.



What this sort of situation (different models predicting wildly different paths) means, is that there is a great deal of uncertainty as to the future trajectory. The officially predicted path, that you see on the map, is the forcasters best guess at an educated compromise among the different model paths. In any case substantial land interaction, and expected windshear means that the probablity of Fay becoming a really bad storm is pretty low. That doesn't mean that people who are in the potential path can simply relax, they still need to be monitoring the storm, and if indicated they may need to take action to minimize damage/danger.

Rest easy. The clipper tracks are climatology. XTRP is simply extrapolating current motion. These trajectories give the forecaster a baseline as well as something to compute forecast error against. NOLA will sink another day.

Rested easy. 8D

Woke up to another(!) different forecast model.

So far, if you take the tracks from Hispaniola,
you get the current location.

24 hrs. late. Slightly West of Cuba original landfall.

That said. Here's the nightmare scenario:

Fay hits Tampa crosses to Jacksonville, stalls,
then moves WSW back across Florida.


NOGAPS is the only model moving Fay out and over to NC.

Crude Oil Rises as Tropical Storm Approaches Gulf of Mexico

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil rose for the first time in three days in New York as a storm near Cuba prompted evacuations from rigs and production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.

US Icebreakers

One of the two 1976-78 icebreakers is out of service requiring serious repairs and the other "requires increased maintenance". The larger (16,200 tons vs 13,300 tons) but less powerful (4.5' thick ice vs. 6 ' thick) Healy is in it's prime.

A fourth icebreaker is privately owned by a Louisiana firm. Smaller (6.500 tons, 3' ice) USS Palmer is at mid-life. Currently leased to the NSF I believe.

Options are rebuilding the existing icebreakers for life extension or new, possibly nuclear powered, icebreakers.

I would support a twin of the Healy (the Coast Guard representative for it's construction lived a couple of blocks away from me) and building a nuclear powered icebreaker(s) instead of the next new aircraft carrier at Newport News. This could provide valuable experience for nuclear powered container and bulk cargo ships.

Best Hopes for some Arctic and Antarctic capability,


Comic relief:

Hummer 2 Smart

The oil mega projects database is expecting extra 500k barrels per day from Iraq for 2009, I believe this assumption is based on the long talked about short term technical contracts, which today seems Iraq will not sign as indicate by the story mentioned above :


Accordingly, we can safely take out the extra Iraqi production for next year and probably push it a couple of years into the future.

What is important is that the Iraqi production was supposed to represent 11% of the new capacity coming online next year, a capacity that just went away…



Thanks for your important comments! The 2009 Megaprojects currently shows Iraq's peak oil capacity additions at 460 kbd, down from 500 kbd, which will probably be revised further downwards. Nevertheless, there remains cautious optimism that Iraq will increase production in 2009 as the Taq Taq field, at 200 kbd peak capacity, will increase production, as agreement is expected soon between the Iraqi Oil Ministry and the Kurdistan Regional Government Energy Ministry.

The IEA's Chief Economist, Fatih Birol, also has important concerns about Iraq's ability to increase production, as he stated last year in an interview with Le Monde. (bold is mine)

And Iraq?

If production does not increase in Iraq in an exponential way between now and 2015, we have a very big problem, even if Saudi Arabia meets its obligations. The figures are very simple, you do not need to be an expert. It is enough to know how to do a subtraction. China will grow very quickly, India also, and even Saudi Arabia projections of the 3 Mb/day will not be enough to meet the rise of Chinese demand.

But, considering the current situation in Iraq, it is very improbable that this country will reach its optimal production capacity just like that!

If this situation improved radically, how long would it take for the Iraqi oil industry to reach its optimal capacity?

Iraqi Officials mention about 3 to 5 years. They know better than me. Even if what they say is correct, and that all goes well in Iraq, it will be in any event a long process.

Thus I repeat, the oil industry will face a very serious test between now and 2015: with the decline of non-OPEC production and the peaking of growth in China, the gap between supply and demand will widen to a significant degree.

The further delays in six Iraq short term petroleum contracts, worth around $3 billion, will make it harder for Iraq to reach a target of 4.5 mbd by 2013, as stated by the Iraq Oil Minister Shahristani on June 30, 2008.

However, it is important to distinguish these six short term technical contracts from "the long term development contracts that dozens of foreign energy companies are expected to bid for on the country's largest producing oilfields."

An example of a short term technical contract, which may be abandoned, is the $500 million technical contract between the Iraq Oil Ministry and Shell to boost oil production by 100,000 for the entire Kirkuk field within two years. This contract is also being frustrated by Kurdistan's claim on the Khurmala Dome, in the northern most section of the Kirkuk field. Khurmala Dome is currently producing 30,000 bpd but could be producing 100,000 bpd if an agreement could be reached between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Iraq central government.

Iraq may have significant remaining oil reserves but extracting that oil is not easy.

Iraq has produced about 32 Gb of crude & condensate to Dec 2007.
OPEC Annual Statistical Bulletin http://www.opec.org/library/

The creaming curve for Iraq below indicates a total URR of 130 Gb.

source http://www.oilcrisis.com/iq/iraqLaherrere.pdf

The black line in the chart below shows that Iraq could produce up to 8 mbd peak plateau, assuming no constraints. This is highly unlikely.

Colin Campbell has dropped his forecast peak production rate for Iraq from 4.5 mbd in December 2002 to only 2.65 mbd in June 2008. Campbell's peaks are assumed to be peak plateaus in the chart below.

The Iraq Oil Minister hopes that 4.5 mbd can be reached by 2013. The forecast below delays this production rate of 4.5 mbd by one year to 2014.

Given the instability in Iraq, these further contract delays and the need to drill not just production wells, but also requirements to build necessary infrastructure, lower and upper bound peak plateaus of 2.65 mbd and 4.5 mbd, respectively, appear reasonable.

These further delays in Iraq petroleum contracts, causing Iraq oil production to increase more slowly, increases the likelihood that world crude/condensate peak plateau production of 74 mbd will end in 2008.

Hello Ace,

I don't know how you do it, but please keep up the great work--Much Appreciated!

Indians Trapped by Debt as Easy Money Dries Up

"The monetary policy actions that have been taken during the past 12 to 18 months, following the financial crises in the West, have dampened the overheated land markets," said Arvind Virmani, chief economic adviser in the government, in an e-mail. "Some effect on consumer credit and related purchases of durable goods is also to be expected. The 93 percent rise in oil prices has however made it extremely challenging to manage inflation and growth."

Marketing and retail brand strategist Harish Bijoor says that Indians are now buying, vacationing and dining out less. In Mumbai, the country's unofficial commercial capital, the frequency of dining out has dropped by a third in the past three months.

While it is true that the rising interest cost has impacted on the Indian urban middle class households, I would point out that this category of people constitute a small percentage of the population.
The majority of Indian population which is rural and agriculture oriented is more affected by drought, coupled with debt burden of small farmers, impact of agricultural imports on small and marginal farmers etc.
This is the reason that countries like India are deeply embroiled in the WTO stalemate which primarily relates to conflicting views on agriculture.

Hmm, I always thought it interesting that a small strata of society that, when compared to the median income, unlike the upper class is merely extremely wealthy rather than ludicrously wealthy.
This is the definition of middle class ? How odd. I'm sure they enjoy driving around their 40-years-average wages car back to their 500-years-average wages house waving to the not-quite-middle-class-people on the street earning $60 a month.
What a load of utter crap.

Not sure who your rant is directed at - the main article or PSudarsanam's comment! Which part is the "load of utter crap"?


The concept of an Indian 'middle class' is a complete misnomer when 90% of the population earn $60 a month yet the country is awash with billionaires. Since the median is so low the middle classes are essentially elites as their lifestyle is beyond the imagination of the dirt-poor majority.
The goverment allows the rich to monopolise the education system and spends money on nukes and manned space missions whilst children starve.
Only China and Brazil are better playgrounds for the fuck-you-all capitalists. That's my rant and I'll take it all back when I see India's Gini drop below the OECD average.
Incidentally there's no better illustration of the hijack of our society than the UK's move from the low .20s in the 60s up to the .36 of today. Your parents could afford to have one earner and buy a house, we needed two earners and parental help, our children won't have a chance in hell.

The chickens always come home to roost don't they? Many urban Indians have been living life king size, believing the India Rising and Shining story. Many took on huge mortgages (to the tune of USD100,000 and more) to buy fancy apartments and even fancier cars. The interest rates on those loans have gone from about 7.5-8% a couple of years back to about 12% today. That is a 50% increase in interest costs.

If you look at loans taken on EMIs or Equated Monthly Installments there are two components - principal and interest. In the early years of the loan tenure, the EMI is heavily weighted towards interest. And so if the interest rate goes up the interest burden goes up. And if you want to close the loan early by prepayment, the principal amount is still very high. This is hitting urban Indians hard.

The Indian governement and in general the polity has a huge problem on its hands to deal with. The % of Indians under 15 is quite high at 31.8% - that is the whole of the US and a bit more. This means that over the next 20 years - 300 million jobs will have to be created to absorb this lot. If the 9 and 10% growth does not continue, we are going to have a very frustrated unemployed population. The 9-10% growth depends a lot on affordable oil and the US Economy doing well.

I don't see a very happy ending.


I humbly disagree with the view that the high percentage of young population is a problem. It is an asset but for which the Indian economy would not have grown as it has today. Only challenge for the Indian Government is to channelise the youth power into productive employment (not just only into Call Centers and BPOs but) in small and medium enterprises in semi rural and rural centers. With all its pit falls and leakages, the National Rural Employment Guarentee Scheme initiated by Dr. Manmohan Singh is a great step in this direction.

It is an asset but for which the Indian economy would not have grown as it has today.

That is what Alan Greenspan and others have said about US population growth.

The problem is that peak oil is very likely to mean the end of economic growth. Like economist Kenneth Boulding said, "Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist."

Once oil supplies stop increasing, we'll be facing a zero-sum game. No one can do better unless someone else does worse. Then all those young people who want jobs and cars and families will be a problem, not a solution.

"Once oil supplies stop increasing, we'll be facing a zero-sum game. No one can do better unless someone else does worse."

Sorry Leanan, this is just not true.

I have two major disagreements with the "we can't have growth" idea.

The first is that the line "we can't have infinite growth on a finite planet" and the second is that economies always grow.

I'll answer the second first:
Economies grow and shrink and industries within those economies grow and shrink. It is not a process of continual growth. Like nature, sectors of an economy and individual firms go through birth, slow growth, take off growth, maturity and decline.

Now to the first question:

Consider Japan compared with the United States.
They both grew their economies but in very different ways.

Profit Growth comes from either using more resources and selling more product (USA) or else from selling the same number (or less!) at a higher margin through more efficient use of inputs.

There is a tendency of the doomers to assume that the economy can only grow by the first method of using up ever more resources (like the USA). There is no reason why we cannot make better use of resources instead. Smaller, lighter, less efficient. We have done this in electronics for years. We can do this with energy too (and we are doing it).

If we get to the stage where we cannot grow resource utilization any more then we can grow the economy by non-resource-intensive methods like services.

I don't buy it. While there can be some increases via efficiency, there's a hard physical limit to that. It cannot continue forever.

Worse, it makes the entire system less resilient...more vulnerable to failure. Increased efficiency may delay the crash, but it will only be that much harder when it comes.

"While there can be some increases via efficiency, there's a hard physical limit to that. It cannot continue forever."
Yes it can.
This is the classic problem (often replicated by peak oil theorists) of only considering one model.


Many of us are familiar with the algae growth curve: add some nutrients, algae grow till they use up all of the nutrients and then the population crashes.
THIS is the model we are considering (along with a host of assumptions) will be for both the economy and the population.

There are, however, several other models.
One is an undulating down curve.
Another is an S-curve leading to a steady state.
Another is a bumping up against the limits with up and down gyrations.
Another is an undulating cycle of booms and busts following a regular pattern.

These patterns are replicated in the stock market and other markets.

It is my hypothesis that the only way we will follow the crash pattern is a war where (alec scarrow's last light scenario) the oil is suddenly cut off.
Otherwise I expect either a cycle of booms and busts or else bumpinig up against the limits.


I am not sure if you live in India or an NRI. The % of young population is not the real problem. It is the number.

I don't have any data on how well or badly the NREGS is doing. But our government seems clueless on how to tackle pretty much any problem.

The government is taking the country to the brink of economic ruin with their petroleum subsidies. Inflation is at 12+% - if this is the figure admitted by the government you can only imagine what shadow statistics would suggest. Chidambaram lives in a fantasy land of his own where all things will improve in 6 months.(And I am not a BJP supporter - I am left of center in my political leanings and generally prefer the INC as the party in power).

After 61 years of independence, our farming sector for the most part depends on good monsoons. One failed monsoon and we are in real trouble. Irrigation and farming have been neglected by politicans all these decades. Our tier 2 cities provide hardly any good employment opportunities. We are adding 25 million babies each year to our 1.1B population with hope as the only plan.

please tell me how I am supposed to feel optimistic about things.


Apparently the view each of us see is whether the glass is half full or half empty.

Incidentally I am a citizen of India living in India and am proud to do so.

In 70s India was begging for wheat from USA under PL-480 programme.
Today despite the increase in population, we are well stocked food stocks in the central pool, and stands at 30 MMT — 13 MMT of rice and wheat 17 MMT of wheat. This obviously was not achieved by divine faith alone but by hard work by the indian farmers.

India's inflation rate is high no doubt but far below the 20s of the other booming economy viz. China.

Foreign direct investment (FDI)(which is another index of the confidence of hardnosed foreign financial investors in the economy of the country)rose in the fiscal year ended March 31 to about $16 billion from just $5.5 billion a year earlier. This is obviously not an emotional contribution of an NRI living abroad but mostly by multinational industrial giants.

From a situation in the 70s when the country had to pawn the gold stock to get some foreign exchange to survive, today India holds over $300 billion FE reserves ($305 billion to be precise). The invisible inflow by way of remittances by Indians living overseas is NOT the bulk of this reserves.

I know we have lot of negative aspects to be sorted out (poor infrastructure development one of them). That does not mean we go on criticising the country as if it is a banana republic!

Psudarsanam, the crux of the matter is whether the trend of
rapid economic growth will continue.

As food, fertilizer and energy becomes more and more expensive, water resources get more and more stressed, while the population grows at the rate of 18 million per year, what do you see happening in the future?

India already has rolling shortages of fuel, pretty bad shortages of fertilizer and load shedding that appears to get worse every year.

What is your outlook for food production and industrial growth when oil is $200/barrel, imported coal is $400 per metric tonne and imported natural gas is $20 per million BTU?

I am sorry that you are unable to appreciate the point I had made.
In 70s there were doomsday predictionists who said India is doomed with the level of cash and food crunch facing the country. See where we are now.
I am for a moment not diluting the need to tighten up on various critical issues such as population growth, corruption at all levels, bad infrastructure, limited energy resources and so on.
Energy is going to be an area of concern not just for India but for the majority of the nations (with about only 8/10 countries controlling 90% of the global oil and gas reserves).
As far as agriculture is concerned, I am confident that with the research on new varieties of wheat, rice etc. India can produce enough food in the years to come to feed its population. But lot of social changes need to take place since the agricultural land is highly fragmented among many farmers and hence of low productivity.
I would conclude that India like rest of the world faces huge challenges, but I still believe that with a larger percentage of youth in its population India will continue to grow stronger. I am an incorrigible optimist!

I see your point: the situation appeared hopeless in the past, but we have come a long way. If we could overcome problems in the past, we can do so now.

My point is that unlike in the past when the oil supplies were disrupted temporarily for political reasons (1973, 1979) and the main issue was bad governance (the "license raj"), this time the problem is resource depletion.
This time the problem is global and permanent.

Food and energy will continue to increase in price and decrease in availability for the forseeable future. Do you agree or disagree? I am afraid the new varieties of rice and wheat will not help much if fertilizer is unaffordable or there is not enough diesel/electricity to pump ground water or the water table is too low. I am concerned about permanent and widespread shortages of fuel for cooking (LPG cylinders and kerosene) appearing the next 3-5 years. I am also concerned about disruption of transportation networks affecting the transport of water and food. I am also worried about the ability to maintain existing grid, water and sewage infrastructure with decreasing availability of oil & natural gas. After all, they had a hard time maintaining it even when oil was $10/barrel.

I agree that this is a global problem but India faces certain unique challenges. It has a vast and extremely diverse population with a history of violent social conflict even during the best of times. I think differences of caste, religion and language will rear their ugly head when everyone realizes the pie is shrinking, not growing.

I presume you live outside India.
There is no denying the fact that India is going to face lot of challenges in the coming decade. The moot question is whether the country is capable of facing them. I strongly feel that India can do so and my optism is based on the following:
1. Notwithstanding all its faults and bad political leadership, India is a vibrant democracy where no Party can take its strength for granted.
2. Despite the number of bomb blasts that had taken place, it is remarkable that the purpose of the mischief makers viz. to create riots did not take place. Many tend to forget that India is the second largest Muslim populated country in the world (next on only to Indonesia). This again is an indicator of a maturing society. Afterall Indian democracy is just 61 years old.
3. In the past we had no industrial base. Today India is becoming a hub for meeting the world's demand for small cars ( which are more fuel efficient than the fuel guzzling SUVs). Steel production has also reached a point of taking a quantum jump.
4. Yes. Fertiliser can be an issue for sustaining food production. Today increasing quantities of fertiliser is being produced from Natural Gas rather than Naphtha and bulk of the Gas comes from local producers. Gas from East Coast offshore by Reliance will improve matters.
5. India has coal reserves which can last over 200 years. We need to adpot quickly clean coal burning technologies so that coal can be the staple fuel for electricity production.
We can achieve better results if only we can pack off all the present political leadership over 45 years to Andaman Islands!

If you look at loans taken on EMIs or Equated Monthly Installments there are two components - principal and interest. In the early years of the loan tenure, the EMI is heavily weighted towards interest. And so if the interest rate goes up the interest burden goes up. And if you want to close the loan early by prepayment, the principal amount is still very high. This is hitting urban Indians hard.

I am trying to understand this. Did they have the option of locking the interest rates for 15, 20 or 30 years when they borrowed money? Or all mortgages in India adjustable rate? If they are adjustable rate, then how often does the interest rate adjust?

Most loans are now floating rate loans. Which means that interest rates rise and fall based on the interest rate policies set by the RBI (the Indian equivalent of the Federal Reserve) based on its monetary policy. In the last 2 years interest rates have been increasing as the RBI is trying to battle inflation.

People do have an option of going in for a fixed rate - but that would usually be about 200bps above the floating rate. And fixed does not mean fixed forever - banks can revise them up as well. A heads I win and tails you lose approach. Strange but that is the way it is.

Hope that helps.


Thanks. I am a NRI living in the US since 1986. Loans were not available when I was growing up and so we never had these problems :-)
Shows that easy and cheap credit is a double edged sword.

Here in the US, until 5 years ago, most mortgages were 30 year duration loans with interest rate fixed for the entire period. Unfortunately during the last 5 years adjustable rate mortgages became popular and we are paying for it now with a huge real estate bust.

We may not be able to regain control, but we can take charge. Inch our way up along the sustainability spiral:


Can anyone say definitively when the oil megaprojects task force began its work?

I'm looking to complete this paragraph (any other errors?):

"Since [month], 200x, the Oil Megaprojects Taskforce has been compiling data on worldwide oil projects and publishing their results in Wikipedia. The goal of the project is to provide an accurate picture of the oil production activity around the world up to 10 years into the future and some years into the past.

Currently, to be considered in the database, a project must have a planned production capacity of 50,000 barrels per day or greater of any type of crude oil, including oil from tar sands."

Here is Stuart's Megaproject starting post:


It looks like it began just a week or so before that post according to his text.

Thanks, Jon.

Hello TODers,

I am not a search expert, so I still haven't found the latest UN FAO Fertilizer Update, despite spending much time at the website:


...perhaps the FAO has decided to delay the release date because it contains real bad news?

Most TODers are already familiar with my prior Peak Everything analysis of their last report [57-page PDF Warning]:

Current world fertilizer trends and outlook to 2011/12

Anyhow,from this FAO newslink:

About 50 million more hungry people in 2007
Hunger on the rise due to soaring food prices
Of course, that was last year [2007], and we are already deep into a more terrifying 2008:

Can the food supply sustain population growth?

...Josette Sheeran, the newly appointed head of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), warned about global hunger, which she said the world was experiencing for the first time...

...According to Sheeran, 250,000 people die of starvation every 10 days. Since last year, rising food prices have paved the way for 100 million people to fall under the poverty line, the most terrifying number ever, she said....
I think it is safe to assume that those starving in 2007 are already dead as you obviously can't go a year on starvation. Also recall that FFs & I-NPK prices were much cheaper in 2007. This year, according to Sheeran:

250,000 X 365 days = 91,250,000-->where she gets the 100 million Darwin Award Winners extinguished in 2008. :(

So we have doubled the global death rate in one year [No cause for celebration,IMO], but it takes time for the FF-to-I-NPK latency to work it way through the system, along with the rapid rise in global transport costs [68-page PDF Warning]:

Robust economic growth in offshore economies is expected to keep the
cost of shipping high through 2008. With current market conditions, increases in freight costs are being passed through to potash customers.
I would add: if you are worried about starving to death, you will gladly pay the I-NPK transport costs, if you can. Since Physics is fixed, obviously the higher the elevation and far-inland distance from a seaport can have a dramatic effect on the transport cost. Nepal's looming postPeak starvation beckons [see prior weblinks by Leanan & yours truly]. Let's hope they rapidly ramp O-NPK recycling and ZPG, or else I would expect a long and nasty machete' moshpit to whittle down the Overshoot.

2007 was 50 million, 2008 is on track for 100 million, and with the recent troubles, such as the BTC pipeline, and other cascading blowbacks: Is 2009 forecasted for 200 million or more [energy costs & shortages, plus wars + starvation]? Yikes!

I hope some TopTODers and other statistical wizards can further examine my speculation.

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

Bob,I can't comment from a technical angle on your "speculation"

However it seems to me that, reasoning from first principles,the gorilla at the bottom of the garden is indeed,extreme food shortage.

Two basic problems - we have far overshot the global carrying capacity and degradation of agricultural land will result in less food production,not more.Throw in a pinch of climate change to spice things up and we have a real witches brew.

Hello Thirra,

Thxs for responding. Yep, I gotta agree. I read this info below, from this expert, that he is not very optimistic for the poor at the bottom of the food chain:

..."The thing to remember is that farmers both here and abroad have not been confronted with these extremely high potash prices. The demand destruction will be substantial, but it has not occurred yet," said one industry expert, who asked not to be named.

...However, even skeptics concede that with a tight supply situation and no new major potash capacity coming on-line in the next few years, it is extremely unlikely that the price of potash could collapse in the near-term.

..."No matter how you look at it, the world's inventory ratios for grain are dangerously lean ... So next year, we are looking at another very strong year of fertilizer application," said Ortslan.
Bill Doyle, POT's topdog, has stated that we need record global harvests from here on out to avert famine, and Borlaug has said that without I-NPK, it's over. I don't think the farmers are like Olympian Michael Phelps: a new world-class record in every race, every time, on each arable acre across the planet...

Hi Bob,

An article today on the bbc talks about Brazil feeding the world saying plenty of unused land, however it mentions "a high level of dependence on expensive imported fertilisers."

So, even with available land and good climate it still needs fertilisers.

Richard Heinberg postulates that the environmental crisis may lead to a revival of religious practice.He may well be right as it is always safe to never underestimate the power of human stupidity.

There is a history of disastrous irrational behaviour due to religion over thousands of years.

I think our best hope lies in rational thinking with scepticism as a base,not belief in the supernatural.

I hear that praying for lower gas prices is really the hotness right now....


We all think and type at the same time but...

it is always safe to never

Great circumlocution. :)

There is a history of disastrous irrational behaviour due to religion over thousands of years.

I know this won't go down well here, but I prefer to see religion as a symptom, rather than a cause of human irrationality (humans being fundamentally irrational creatures). Religion is a core feature of every tribe and civilisation that's ever existed so there's little prospect of it ever being eradicated. When you suppress religious behaviour it tends to resurface in strange and perverse ways: witness the puritanical zeal of atheists such as Grayling and Hitchens. I tend to agree with John Gray, who in his book, Heresies likens the suppression of religious urges to the Victorian prudery over sex.

History also has examples of disastrous behaviour based on 'rational' thought systems (Communism in the USSR, monetarism in Chile). Any system of thought has the potential to take on religious significance.

Religion is like alcohol or drug use-it is not necessarily bad or damaging to the user, even though overall a lot of problems result. The war mongering type which is popular in the ME and the USA is obviously a global problem.

An article about talks about a food shortage in Rotuma, Fiji. I looked this up, and it is a remote island, 500 kilometers (310 miles) north of the rest of the island group.

The most remote locations are likely to get hit first, and this island is definitely remote.

I've been following the Rotuma story for months now. There's not much information, but near as I can tell, the problem is a lack of supply boats. Being a small and remote community, suppliers aren't exactly rushing to their doorstep. Their usual boat ran into some kind of trouble. Wrecked in a storm or just died of old age, I can't remember. The company that ran it wasn't in a rush to replace it, because the high cost of fuel made the business unprofitable. I think the government ended up providing a boat or a subsidy or something, but that doesn't fix the underlying problem. With fuel no longer cheap, it's no longer profitable to service communities like that.

Remote communities in Alaska are suffering a similar problem.

I think the happy motoring will continue for quite awhile...except at the ends of the supply lines. The collapse may be quite catastrophic there, while the party continues elsewhere.

Good points Leanan,

I would guess that if the Caspian 'Stans have any crude refineries, with the Georgian pipelines & RRs now down, that gas and diesel suddenly got a lot cheaper in these countries. Unless the flow was easily rerouted through Russia by now.

My Asphalt Wonderland of Phx is a 'giant desert island' at the ends of the CA & TX natgas and refined fuel pipelines [no refineries in AZ]. At some future point: someone will disable for a long time their operation, or rust alone may do the job. Then CA & TX might enjoy $1/gal fuel costs for a period, while our costs might skyrocket to above $20/gal. Glad I got a bicycle & scooter in preparation of this event: I might have a very small chance to escape to Cascadia, but probably not.

Too bad we can't export our many, hugely wasteful golf courses, swimming pools, and asphalt parking lots in exchange for energy. :(

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

Maybe we can figure out how to refine our asphalt parking lots, and use the oil for other purposes.

Hello Gail,

Thxs for responding. At that point in time: probably the only way to achieve a positive ERoEI is to have humans swinging sledgehammers and pickaxes, and pushing heavy wheelbarrows too, to recycle/extract the energy. That won't be much fun in our scorching summer heat for those 'volunteers' to that task. :(

Re: Losing Control or, Did We Ever Really Believe We Had it?

It is ironic that upon clicking upon The Oil Drum for my first time in two and one half days, I read the headline feature on Drumbeat, August 17, 2008 at the time I looked, “Richard Heinberg: Losing Control”

I say that it is ironic because I have personally just experienced an episode of “losing control” in my own life, or it would be more correct to say that I was reminded of my lack of control in very vivid terms.

Two and one half days ago, I experienced my first ride in an ambulance, and my first overnight hospital stay. The exact cause of my experiencing these “new” things in my life has not yet been determined, being thought to be either a possible heart attack (no evidence of such, but always a first guess when dealing with middle aged men who do not have near perfect lifestyle habits), a gall bladder attack or problem (long suspected but always hard to prove) or possibly a hernia (another possible suspect but hard to find and harder to fix).

Richard Heinberg, the author of the short but thought provoking post quoted in the post says, “As a species, we’ve developed remarkable power over our environments.”

The above statement is often given as truth, but is it really true? It is often assumed that with the astounding power of science (or so it seems to us, or so we have been taught) there really is very little humanity cannot control, simply because there is very little we do not know everything about.

Often it is fun to learn a bit about how little we have learned to this point: I recall that in high school, I was once informed by World Book Encyclopedia that humanity had been sailing in sail powered boats upon the rivers, lakes and seas of the world for a very long time. Fascinated I read the article to see just how long. Imagine my surprise to read that humans had been sailing, according to the expert writers of the article, “…for some period existing between 200,000 and 6 million years.” (!!!)

It was one of my earliest intellectual “coming of age” experiences to realize that despite the expensive degrees and long and complicated essays and articles one sees written in historical journals, what “we” as human beings “know” is easily dwarfed by what we still don’t know about our own history.

But of course, that’s history, and we all know how cynical many people are when it comes to the “soft sciences”. Indeed, there are people who will tell you that they are not science at all.

Surely we will see different results when we turn to the “natural sciences”, those that really first on pure observation, practiced since the days of the pre-Soctratics.
Let us quote a line regarding insects, a fascinating area of biology, as quoted from Wikipedia’s article about insects:
“Insects are a major group of arthropods and the most diverse group of animals on the Earth, with over a million described species—more than half of all known living organisms[2][3]—with estimates of undescribed species as high as 30 million, thus potentially representing over 90% of the differing life forms on the planet.”

How about this count of fungi:
“Based on observations of the ratio of the number of fungal species to the number of plant species in some environments, the fungal kingdom has been estimated to contain about 1.5 million species. [4] Around 70,000 fungal species have been formally described by taxonomists, but the true dimension of fungal diversity is still unknown.”

I do not have to explain to any educated person the value of the one form of fungi, Yeast. It has been one of the most valued of natural gifts to human, capable of facilitating the creation of everything from beer and wine to a faux gasoline type of alcohol called butanol.
There are about 1,500 species currently described…Yeasts do not form a specific taxonomic or phylogenetic grouping. At present it is estimated that only 1% of all yeast species have been described.

With only a few moments of thought, it should be obvious the radical impact that human lack of knowledge as opposed to knowledge will have on the human future in every aspect of our relationship with nature, with climate, with energy, with the way in which humans live and may be able to live in the future. Most of the change we will see is “off book” and cannot even begin to be conjectured about. Humans simply do not have the knowledge to easily know where to begin.

It is easy to see that the “control” of nature, of the world, of existence that humans sometimes like to proclaim they have is only accepted as fact by those who have not properly educated themselves to the real level of “control” that humanity actually has.

I think of these things as I look back on my first trip in an ambulance, on my first overnight stay in a hospital. I of course hoped that the doctors would know more about what was causing my pain than I knew, and would know more how to stop it than I knew. Was that a blind faith in the “control” of human science? I do not think so.

All I could hope for is some relief at that moment. Science, for all of it’s shortcomings and for it’s lack of real knowledge, was at least a better and more workable alternative than any other that I could turn to at my moment of need. I did not know if I would be successful, but I did know that action based on a small amount of knowledge is sometimes better than inaction waiting on perfection.

The events of the last few days have caused me in retrospect to consider an alternative educational program for the youth of America and the world: Science often begins with an explanation by the teachers, “this is what we know.” It would be very interesting to begin science classes and texts with the very honestly stated sentence, “here is what we do not know” The textbooks and the curriculums would be astoundingly large, but the claims that "we know what will happen and why" would become infinitesimally small.

I teach environmental/ecological science courses at the college level. What I tell my students is to watch out for a confusion of description for explanation.

what “we” as human beings “know” is easily dwarfed by what we still don’t know

Boy, ain't that the truth.

I hope, whatever is the matter, you make a full recovery.

But, if you need to convalesce for a while, you might pick up The Black Swan, by Nicholas Nasim Taleb. He has a great discussion about what we don't know, and why what we don't know is often more important than what we do know. His section on Umberto Eco's un-library is excellent.

Thanks for the good wishes, and yes I will always be willing to check out a fellow Umberto Eco fan! I have read reviews of the book the "The Black Swan" but to this point never gotten around to ordering it...something to do during down time! :-)


Good observations...thanks for taking the time to write that.

Best wishes for fully-functioning innards,


One of my old favorite writers is the French professor of jurisprudence, Jacques Ellul,

He has written about a number of issues, especially technology and the recent state of what we often call Western Civilization. Ellul thought that the unknown consequences of technology would far outweigh the known consequences of technology -- both the intended and unintended.

My own experience is that we humans sense reality through a very limited aperture and operate rather clumsily based on our perceptions.

When I recently took my first course in welding, the experience of donning the old-fashioned welding mask to begin to try to weld reminded me of the old Biblical quote "we through through a glass darkly." If you've never put on a welding mask, try it some time. then try to actually work with the welding torch. The sense of having a very powerful tool combined with very limited ability to see what one is doing with it is a wonderful lesson.

We humans are big-brained apes indeed. Very powerful, but also still strangely limited by our belligerence as well as our ability to see only a very small slice of reality, and that with a very limited range of focus.

The coming Ecological Bottleneck will likely be an acute and painful episode which will remind us of our limitations as Heinberg has eloquently noted.

Perhaps we will all cry out for some version of "Cosmic Ambulance" to take us away to some place where "A Cosmic Someone" can take our pain away.


Here's a great quote from Wiki:

"That which desacralizes a given reality, itself in turn becomes the new sacred reality".


"Modern technology has become a total phenomenon for civilization, the defining force of a new social order in which efficiency is no longer an option but a necessity imposed on all human activity."

Or, how about this:

"Not even the moral conversion of the technicians could make a difference. At best, they would cease to be good technicians." In the end, technique has only one principle, efficient ordering.


The sense of having a very powerful tool combined with very limited ability to see what one is doing with it is a wonderful lesson.

That is so true...and applicable to so much of what we hairless primates do.

Ellul thought that the unknown consequences of technology would far outweigh the known consequences of technology -- both the intended and unintended.

I have thought the same since elementary school. Time has borne out the observation.


Beggar. Jacques Ellul should be a household name along with Charles Darwin. The fact that it isn't can be taken as a measure of the distance we have yet to travel before we can even understand the problem we've created.

As I see it, humanity doesn't understand the problem and will therefore continue to confuse the problem as the solution. This does not bode well for the outcome.

Even here on the Oil Drum, much discussion is about promoting the problem as the solution. That's one of the reasons that I choose to go for local solutions rather than trust in society as a whole to fix the problem. In my view, humanity cannot change its course voluntarily and it will be down to Nature to make the changes. I just hope Nature's solution isn't extinction of the human race.

I know this is gonna annoy people but, what really gets me about this viewpoint is that it conveniently ignores the way the same criticism about other aspects of life. How about

"Religion has become a total phenomenon for civilization, the defining force of a new social order in which observance is no longer an option but a necessity imposed on all human activity."


"Social conduct has become a total phenomenon for civilization, the defining force of a new social order in which behaving to the prevailing norms is no longer an option but a necessity imposed on all human activity."


"Law has become a total phenomenon for civilization, the defining force of a new social order in which being law-abiding is no longer an option but a necessity imposed on all human activity."

There are lots of issues with technology, but I think more of them are issues about being generally very imperfect humans that apply to anything we do.

RC: I can only assume they checked out your appendix (if you haven't already had it out)-you don't want to play with that one.


Thanks, the indication was that the appendix is o.k...at least that's what they tell me and I pretty much have to take their word for it!

The two "suspects of interest" right now are gall bladder and hernia.

The gall bladder is a fascinating device, I have known at least a half dozen people who fought forever to get doctors to just get rid of it, and NOT ONE has ever regretted it, it seems the gall bladder is about as useless as the appendix but at least as painful when it acts up! So for now, investigation continues...thanks to everyone for the good wishes!


Coal-gasification plant gets OK

AMERICAN FALLS, Idaho -- Eastern Idaho officials have approved a special use permit for a $1 billion coal-gasification plant to be built west of American Falls.

The Power County Planning and Zoning Commission last week unanimously approved the first phase of the plant proposed by Southeast Idaho Energy that will convert coal to fertilizer...
By fertilizer --I assume they intend to mostly make [N]itrogen products such as ammonia, urea, etc. Maybe sulfur & Bio-Char products too? Remember, Idaho spuds are more energy dense than oil shale.

Maybe Southeast Idaho Energy has decided that I-NPK is more profitable postPeak than selling electrojuice--We are evolved to sit in the dark, but we will pay any price for food.

just a heads up for those who are interested. the discovery channel will be showing a show in which they try all the geo-engineering so called solutions. just for the camera. yes they include the stupid ones such as dumping iron filings into the oceans in a large scale and injecting surfer dioxide into the upper atmosphere.

surfer dioxide?

Is she the result of all those iron filings?

I was listening to a broadcast from Aug 9th on Financial News Sense (http://www.financialsense.com/fsn/main.html)
where they interviewed Matt Simmons.

Simmons was talking about his favorite pet project these days, the Wave Institue, and the idea of making liquid ammonia from ocean energy and electrolysis.

I was curious, I don't hear a lot about this one. Read this from wikipedia...seems like a possiblitity:


As a fuel
Ammonia was used during World War II fuel shortages to power buses in Belgium and used in engine and solar energy applications prior to 1900. Liquid ammonia was used as the fuel of the rocket airplane, the X-15. Although not as powerful as other fuels, it left no soot in the reusable rocket engine and its density approximately matches that for the oxidizer, liquid oxygen, which simplified the aircraft's design. Ammonia is proposed as a practical, clean (CO2-free), alternative to fossil fuel for internal combustion engines.[21] In 1981 a Canadian company converted a 1981 Chevrolet Impala to operate using ammonia as fuel.[22][23] The use of ammonia as fuel continues to be discussed.[24]

The calorific value of ammonia is 22.5 MJ/kg (9690 BTU/lb) which is about half that of diesel. In addition because of the high hydrogen content of ammonia, in a normal engine, in which the moisture is not condensed, the calorific value of ammonia will be about 20% less than this figure.

The best-known application of Lamm's ammonia power system was the Saint Charles Avenue Streetcar in New Orleans. The line was established as "The New Orleans and Carollton Rail Road Company" in February 1833, and a service began in 1835. Through the early years the cars were successively powered by horses, mules, overhead cables, Lamm's ammonia engines, and steam engines; none were very satisfactory, and it was finally electrified in 1893

2.5 blocks from my home. Service started by my home (Canal Street upriver to Jackson Avenue) in 1834, not 1835.


Best Hopes,


Hello Peak_a_Boo,

I will leave it to the expert TODers to thrash the eng. & sci. details, but the receding horizon to vastly improve upon Haber-Bosch in time to help the Overshoot population, either with cheap ammonia products or as a transport fuel, is absolutely brutal:

Amid food price spike, Nobel laureate eyes fertilizer

One of the reasons food prices have risen sharply is the cost of fertilizer: Nearly 2 percent of the world's energy goes into fertilizer production, which is becoming ever more costly as fuel prices rise...

...One of those is MIT's Richard Schrock, a Nobel laureate who has been working on the problem for nearly 30 years...

...Schrock says he hopes chemical engineers will get involved with the effort to make the work practical for commercial use, though he believes that using his catalyst to commercially produce fertilizer is still "a long time off."
I hope he and his staff can get lucky, then crack this nut--a breakthrough will instantly make them Super-Mega-Riches$$$

Here are some more links:



The big no free lunch hurdle is that it just takes a huge pile of energy to make a ton of ammonia [PDF Warning]:

Impact of Natural Gas Prices on Ammonia Prices

...Natural gas is the primary raw material used to produce ammonia. Approximately 33 million British thermal units (mm Btu) of natural gas are needed to produce 1 ton of ammonia. Natural gas accounts for 72-85 percent of the ammonia production cost, depending on the size of the ammonia plant and the price of ammonia (TFI(a)). Ammonia prices were weakly correlated with natural gas prices before 2000, but became strongly correlated after 2000.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?


Somehow, not quite rationally, the great and ever swelling tide of petroleum had inspired such confidence in Van Kirk that he even felt he could do without fuel if need be. And maybe, I thought, that’s just how it is with us. Peak oil is a doctrine of depletion confronting a nation that only knows itself through abundance, and if the M. King Hubbert Chair for Petroleum Supply Studies, for God’s sake, can’t bring himself to contemplate an imminent decline in petroleum supplies, small wonder that almost everybody else is in denial.

That is a pretty good article about peak oil. Especially considering that it's in GQ.

Here's a link to the first page of the article:

World Without Oil, Amen

Long article - but well worth the read

About an hour later, with the needle on empty and the fuel warning indicator lit, I was backing into a parking spot near the School of Mines. I checked the gas-tank button—still no dice. Then I locked the car and walked off, filing the problem away, as perhaps most Americans do when faced with an impending energy crisis, as something to deal with later on.

I liked the ad next to it: "The Upgrader: A life-altering guide to the world's best stuff."

That's what I meant when I expressed surprise at finding such an article in GQ. It's a magazine devoted to the kind of stuff that is definitely not ELP-friendly.