DrumBeat: August 19, 2008

The Great Oil Bubble?

The markets are rejoicing as the “great oil bubble” loses air and rapidly heads back to its proper double-digit price. The rejoicing may be a bit premature as the underlying supply and demand fundamentals do not appear to support “proper” prices for oil.

Between 2004 and 2007, global oil consumption grew by 3.9%, driven by emerging giants China and India (40% of the world’s population) and other rapidly growing emerging economies. While consumption has exploded, production has not kept pace. Non-OPEC production growth has slowed well below historical averages. And the only country with significant spare production capacity is Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately, Saudi spare capacity is not independently verified, and the vast majority of their current production is from the giant Ghawar oil field, a dowager now 57 years old which still produces nearly 5 million barrels a day.

Stagflation? Or just stagnation?

The inflation figures for July were ugly. But oil prices have fallen and the dollar has strengthened in August. Too bad a global slowdown is the reason.

Poland seeks LNG port as fast as possible

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland's government supported on Tuesday the construction of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) port on the Baltic coast as a strategic investment in the country's drive for energy supplies diversification. Poland uses around 14 billion cubic metres of gas every year but produces only about one-third of the amount and almost half of its gas import come from Russia.

Petrobras to Build $11.1 Billion Refinery in Ceara

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil's state-controlled oil company, plans to build an $11.1 billion low-sulfur refinery in the country's northeastern Ceara state.

The refinery will be able to process 300,000 barrels of oil a day, according to a release that Rio de Janeiro-based Petrobras distributed in Fortaleza, Brazil. Production is scheduled to start in 2014 with a processing capacity of 150,000 barrels a day. Full capacity should be reached in 2016.

Nigeria militants kill 3 in battle over oil turf

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria (Reuters) - At least three people were killed in a turf dispute between rival armed gangs in Nigeria's oil-producing Niger Delta, one resident and a security source said on Tuesday.

The gun battle over control of stolen oil in Sama, a village near the main industrial city of Port Harcourt, prompted hundreds of residents to flee early Tuesday morning, said a female resident who asked not to be named.

Libya Sees OPEC Holding Oil Output Steady

OPEC is unlikely to change its oil output at a meeting next month and a decline in oil prices will probably be temporary, the top oil official for OPEC member Libya said on Tuesday.

Iraq to Sign $1.2B Oil Service Deal with China

Iraq will sign a $1.2 billion oil service contract with China to replace a production-sharing deal agreed under Saddam Hussein, an Iraqi newspaper quoted oil minister Hussain al-Shahristani as saying on Tuesday.

Western GOM Oil, Gas Lease Sale Opens Wednesday

Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne will officially open the Minerals Management Service’s Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil and gas Lease Sale 207 for the Western Gulf of Mexico at 9 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, August 20, 2008 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Secretary Kempthorne will open and read the first bid.

Iraq Tops Alaska As US Relies More On OPEC

NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--The U.S. got more crude oil from Iraq than Alaska in June as imports from OPEC continued to top domestic production. A review of U.S. data shows that in 17 of 18 months dating to January 2007, crude-oil imports from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries exceeded U.S. production levels.

The figures shine a spotlight on the main points of the long-overdue debate over energy policy in the world's biggest oil consumer.

Fuel shortage prompts U.S. to issue Comoros travel alert

As the Union of the Comoros continues to experience fuel shortages, the State Department has issued a travel alert for the African nation. The department is concerned that the shortages may lead to civil unrest and demonstrations with violence directed toward foreigners.

Steel loads switch from road to canal

A Leeds metal firm has started shifting steel by canal rather than truck in an effort to save fuel costs and become greener.

Coal king Peabody cleans up

The supply crunch is delaying shipments, forcing utilities to scramble to keep coal-fired plants running. "We're having to work very hard to get our coal delivered," says Vince Stroud, head of regulated fuels for Duke Energy.

If the shortage persists into next year as expected, utility inventories will likely fall so low they might have to scale back coal generation, replacing it with pricier natural gas, says Seth Schwartz, a principal at consulting firm Energy Ventures Analysis. Alternatively, he says, utilities will face another steep price increase — up to 70% — for coal, further pushing up power prices.

Boyce makes no apologies for the exports, saying utilities "are competing on a global basis to buy that coal, and they've never had to do that before."

China power firms' coal stocks still low

Coal supply is tight as the increase in coal production capacity has failed to catch up with the expansion in power generating capacity, as well as surging demand from other sectors including steel and metal industries. The compulsory closure of small and unsafe coal mines has also compounded supply problems.

But a surprise hike in on-grid prices, unveiled on Tuesday and the second one in two months, could provide generators with more financial resources to stockpile the fuel they need and help China overcome the power crisis when demand falls in coming months.

On American sustainability - summary

Our American way of life is unsustainable; rather than attempting to perpetuate it, we must transition beyond it—quickly. Should we fail to do so, our society will collapse—in the not-too-distant future…

A Failure to Prepare for the What Should Have Been Expected

The U.S. auto industry has a long history of fighting safety, environmental and fuel efficiency measures. In recent years, they have consistently fought measures to improve vehicle fuel efficiency. They did not have the foresight to prepare for the time when oil would no longer be cheap. To their credit, Toyota and Honda came out with hybrids years ago and have worked hard on fuel efficiency technologies beyond conventional hybrids.

An unbiased analysis of oil production data over the years should have made it obvious that there was a coming problem. Unfortunately most people believe their beliefs rather than believing data. I've been warning about a coming oil crisis for 15 years or longer. To make people aware of the problem, I wrote a book which was published in 2005. Below is an excerpt from the final chapter.

Unraveling the Unraveling

Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain said: ”History doesn't repeat itself; at best it sometimes rhymes

There is evidence for this, but when it does rhyme it is because it is a different stanza from the same song. If we are about to rhyme with past events, that would suggest that we will not collapse into a great smoldering heap in a few months or years but a slow decline over several generations to a civilization more akin to how we lived around the end of the 19th century.

Recent disparate events have made me reconsider some of my beliefs.

Energy plan lacks clear goals

In July, the Department of Public Service released the draft Vermont Comprehensive Energy Plan. Like the climbers, the Department checked yesterday's forecast. The plan describes the current priorities as affordability, environment and (for electricity), reliability. It contains 27 strategies with 68 specific recommendations. If yesterday's weather continues and everything in the plan goes right, we may be just fine.

Riding the money train

Railroads are benefiting from the global commodities boom - and the fact that trains are more fuel-efficient than trucks.

Food waste buckets in the kitchen pricked town's conscience

With the town's reputation for gourmet eating, bi-monthly farmers' markets, an annual food festival and formerly featuring more Michelin stars than any town outside London, its people might have been expected to appreciate the value of food. Preparatory research had shown, however, that each household was throwing away 4.2kg (9lb) of food leftovers each week.

Within a few months of starting house-to-house food waste collections to fuel the anaerobic digester, the amount wasted by each family had fallen to 3.6kg. Officials are convinced that the introduction of collections made clear to householders just how much of their weekly shopping was being wasted.

Oil up on expected drop in gas supply

Crude jumped after an estimate from Platts, the energy research arm of McGraw-Hill Cos., predicted a 3 million barrel decline in gasoline stocks for last week and an increase in refinery utilization of 0.4%.

A rise in refinery production would drive up demand for raw crude oil.

A decline in gasoline stocks would indicate that refiners had cut production too much, according to Brian Hicks, fund manager at U.S. Global Investors in San Antonio, Texas.

"We've seen refineries pull back because refining hasn't been profitable," said Hicks.

Saudi oil subsidy at stake over Musharraf exit

SAUDI Arabia thrust itself into the Pervez Musharraf impeachment drama last night when it warned that a huge oil subsidy that provides life support for the moribund Pakistan economy was at risk unless he was given an "exit with dignity".

As a deadline tonight approached for the Pakistani President to "quit or else", the House of Saud's powerful intelligence chief Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz, acting as a personal emissary of King Abdullah, injected himself into the impasse.

One source described it as "banging heads together and trying to get all sides to see sense before the point of no return is reached".

Asia Seen Digging Into Middle East

- The Asian energy invasion of the Middle East looked set to deepen on Tuesday, with China's state-owned oil company reportedly close to an oil-service deal in Iraq--the first of its kind since the American invasion--while construction firms from Japan and Korea also hoped to get a slice of two big export refinery projects in Saudi Arabia.

China in particular has proven particularly eager to strike deals in the Middle East, at a time when it is looking to feed its booming domestic appetite for energy. Iraq could be its next destination, according to published reports, which said Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani as saying that he would fly to China at the end of August to discuss a $1.2 billion oil-service deal with China National Petroleum Co.

Government Says Still Paying Part of Fuel Bill - Jordan Times

AMMAN -The government says it has incurred around JD121 million to cover the difference between actual prices of fuel and the ones decided by a pricing panel since fuel prices were floated in February.

The announcement was made amid criticism that the latest update of fuel prices at 5 per cent was "disappointing" due to the relatively huge drop in the prices of crude oil on the international market.

McCain, Obama Promise Plug-in Cars as Detroit Charts a Timetable

Car-tech experts evaluate the stances of Senators John McCain and Barack Obama on America's future electric vehicles, including funding for battery research, tax credits and loan guarantees for a struggling American auto industry.

Solar power has potential, says GM exec

A senior General Motors executive says Australia should invest in cleaner energy alternatives such as solar power as a way to reduce the nation's dependence on oil.

GM vice president, R&D and planning Larry Burns says new sources of cleaner energy are the only solution moving forward, reducing the near dominance of petroleum-based energy in existing forms of transport.

Family rice operation goes solar in a big way

Family-owned Far West Rice has met the challenge of energy uncertainty by installing the largest solar facility at any rice plant in the country at its processing plant south of Chico.

The bold decision to put up an impressive bank of more than 5,500 solar panels on a four-acre piece of land between the processing facility and nearby rice fields is expected to improve long-term energy security and actually reduce costs.

How to Make 4 Alternative Fuels at Home: Goodbye, Big Oil!

Ready to make your own gas alternative? These products can give you a start—but energy independence won’t come cheaply.

Wasted Energy: Debunking the Waste-to-Energy Scheme

Like any other vampire, “waste to energy” technology, e.g., burning garbage for electricity, needs a good, swift stake to the heart.

Decades after garbage incinerators disappeared from U.S. cities, burning garbage with energy recovery made a dash for federal, state and city subsidies following the energy crisis in the l970s and ’80s. It had a brief flurry of activity but, by the time the ’90s hit, was on the decline. Only 30 of 300 proposed plants were ever built—the last ones in l995 as the result of some dubious political shenanigans in Syracuse, New York and Montgomery County, Maryland.

The scheme is more aptly described as “wasted energy,” as the energy produced through incineration at the plants is quite small compared to the amount of energy needed for extraction, processing and distribution, to replace the materials destroyed.

Bill Clinton: 10 Things the U.S. Government Should Do For Clean Power

The 42nd U.S. President, Bill Clinton, delivered a top 10 laundry list of actions that the U.S. government should take to help solve the energy crisis during a speech to kick off the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas on Monday night. Along with the list, which advocated various incentives to accelerate the proliferation of clean technologies, Clinton suggested some more controversial plans: he raised the idea of a single state, like Nevada, or an area like Puerto Rico becoming energy independent — he said this could “rock the world.” And beyond his concrete policy advice, Clinton also confirmed previous reports that his foundation is looking into helping build solar thermal projects in India.

Kunstler: Russia's Return Bites the Neocons' Grand Energy Scheme in the Ass

You have to ask what were they smoking over at the Pentagon and the CIA when they thought they could control Russia's close neighbor.

Kunstler: Suburban Legend

The American suburb was the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world… Why? Because it has no future, because we’re not going to be able to run it…. We don’t have the resource base to run it.

A lot of the delusions that are now rampant in the country all focus on the alternative energy scene. I want to be very clear about this, I am in favor of alternative energy. I think we’re going to do everything we possibly can. But the key to understanding alternative energy is this: First of all, we are going to be disappointed by what it can do for us, and second, it is not going to change the fact that we have to make other arrangements for all the important activities of daily life…

In Rural New York, Windmills Can Bring Whiff of Corruption

Lured by state subsidies and buoyed by high oil prices, the wind industry has arrived in force in upstate New York, promising to bring jobs, tax revenue and cutting-edge energy to the long-struggling region. But in town after town, some residents say, the companies have delivered something else: an epidemic of corruption and intimidation, as they rush to acquire enough land to make the wind farms a reality.

“It really is renewable energy gone wrong,” said the Franklin County district attorney, Derek P. Champagne, who began a criminal inquiry into the Burke Town Board last spring and was quickly inundated with complaints from all over the state about the wind companies. Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo agreed this year to take over the investigation.

Inflation flares 1.2% in July, housing starts drop

WASHINGTON — Wholesale prices took another unexpectedly steep jump in July and shot up at the fastest year-on-year rate in 27 years, according to a government report Tuesday that is certain to fan fears about a surge in inflation.

...The July price pressures reflected in part the big surge in energy costs during the month that pushed crude oil prices to a record $147.27 per barrel and sent gasoline pump prices to an all-time high $4.11 per gallon on average nationwide.

Crude oil prices have fallen by more than $30 per barrel since then, raising hopes the surge in inflation will abate.

But the price spikes in a number of areas seen in July raised concerns that the prolonged surge in energy prices is beginning to show up more broadly throughout the economy.

Algeria Pipeline Fire Injures 14, Stops Gas Flow

(Bloomberg) -- A fire in a natural-gas pipeline in Algeria yesterday injured 14 people and stopped the flow of the fuel, state oil company Sonatrach said.

The pipeline burst at 3:15 a.m. local time yesterday in a corroded section near Zemmoura in western Algeria, Sonatrach said in a statement published by state-run APS news service.

Venezuela to Call for OPEC Production Cut If Oil Keeps Falling

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela, South America's biggest oil producer, will propose that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries cut oil output quotas if crude prices continue to fall, Energy and Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said.

Fuel Oil Refining Margin to Rise on Lower Supply, Lehman Says

(Bloomberg) -- The refining profit, or margin, to make heavy fuel oil will rise through 2010 as production falls amid refiners' investment to make more expensive gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. said.

New York Harbor fuel oil's so-called crack, or margin, to crude may narrow to minus $10 a barrel in 2009 from an estimate of minus $22 a barrel this year, Lehman analysts Michael Waldron, James Crandell and Edward Morse said in a report titled ``Bottoms Up'' dated Aug. 18. Fuel oil is mainly used for electricity generation and to power ships.

Russian-Canadian energy deals possibly at risk

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper allowed on Tuesday for the possibility of commercial gas deals with Russia being put at risk by Russia's military actions in neighboring Georgia.

India may raise diesel prices for industries

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The government may charge higher diesel prices for industrial users and allow Reliance Industries to sell gas oil from its export-focused refinery to local retailers struggling to meet soaring demand, senior officials said.

Diesel sales have risen sharply despite the government's move to raise fuel prices by about 10 percent in early June.

China Lifts Electricity Rates For Coal-fired Utilities By 5%

China will lift electricity rates charged by coal-fired power utilities by about 5%, in an effort to help the state-run power producers offset rising fuel prices, the National Development and Reform Commission said late Tuesday.

Organic food sales feel the bite from sluggish economy

High gas and food prices appear to be nibbling away at the high growth rates long enjoyed by organic and natural food makers and sellers.

Hundreds Of Motorists Line Up For Gas At 35 Cents A Gallon

Over 400 motorists jumped at the chance to get gas at a price only seen in the 1970's, and David Knoche, owner of the Exxon, jumped at the chance to give it to them.

“We found out by the Maryland Environmental Program that we had to replace the tanks in the ground, and the expenditure was just too high for us to invest in new tanks, so we decided to have a going out sale and to do that we went back to the 1970s and got the prices up and sold the gasoline as long as it lasted,” he explained.

Thieves loot cemeteries for metal

Ghouls have made a resurgence in cemeteries throughout the United States, prying plates and ornaments from headstones and selling them to scrap yards.

A rise in metal prices is driving the thefts, detectives say. Prices for copper, brass and bronze — metals that are commonly found in cemetery remembrances — have in some cases quadrupled in price in the past four years.

Because the metals can be hammered out of shape, the thefts are virtually untraceable.

Looking For Energy, Google Goes To Hell

Google.org, the philanthropic arm of search giant Google, announced it would try to help spur companies to reach underground to produce clean electricity. It is investing a total of $10 million in a geothermal energy company called AltaRock Energy and a drilling company called Potter Drilling, and it is funding research and mapping efforts and a policy agenda.

More women 40 to 44 remaining childless

The number of women ages 40 to 44 who remain childless has doubled in a generation, the U.S. Census reported Monday.

In June 2006, 20% of women in that age group remained childless. Thirty years ago it was 10%.

"A lot of women are having no children," Jane Lawler Dye, the author of the report, says. "Also, the women who are having children are having fewer children."

The Economist Debates Our World Energy Crisis

"We can solve our energy problems with existing technologies today, without the need for breakthrough innovations."

Conservation or innovation? Practising what we know or pushing the boundaries of what we hope? Will the reduction of global energy consumption be enough to sustain current fossil-fuel reserves? Or should all efforts be directed towards discovering new technologies that broaden the world’s energy portfolio? Which option is the more important to support, in the near term, by providing additional resources and enacting strong public-policy initiatives? Given that both efforts are currently being explored in parallel, where should the centre of gravity lie?

Oil falls as storm threat eases

Oil prices briefly dropped below $112 a barrel Tuesday, extending the previous session's decline as Tropical Storm Fay avoided oil-producing infrastructure in the Gulf of Mexico.

By midday in Europe, light, sweet crude for September delivery was down 54 cents at $112.33 after falling as low as $111.78 barrel earlier in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Russia's oil exports decline 5.2% to 897 mln bbls in 1H08

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) - Russia's oil exports declined 5.2% year-on-year in January-June to 122.5 million metric tons (897 million barrels), the country's top statistics body said on Tuesday.

Peak oil: Mayberry, not Mad Max

Take one of the more pessimistic projections of the future, from the Association for the Study of Peak Oil, and assume that by 2030 the world will have only two-thirds as much energy per person. Little breakdowns can feed on each other, so crudely double that estimate. Say that, for some reason, solar power, wind turbines, nuclear plants, tidal power, hydroelectric dams, biofuels, and new technologies never take off. Say that Americans make only a third as much money, cut driving by two-thirds. Assume that extended families have to move in together to conserve resources and that we must cut our flying by 98 percent.

Many would consider that a fairly clear picture of collapse. But we have been there before, and recently. Those are the statistics of the 1950s--not remembered as a big time for cannibalism [as peak oiler Dmitri Orlov predicts as a possibility -- RD]. The world in 1950 used 10 million barrels of oil a day instead of our 85 million, and only a third of that increase is due to population growth. The rest is just us-- and it is mostly us in the West--driving, flying, buying, consuming, and discarding more in a month than our grandparents did in a year. The popular image of the '50s as an age of conspicuous consumption, suburban sprawl, and TV dinners misses the point. Those things were newsworthy then because they were new and unusual.

Consume like it’s 1969

Another question on which the ecological economists and the mainstream diverge is whether growth has a ceiling, or limit.

The ecological school says yes: Resources are finite, so growth can’t continue for ever.

The mainstream says no: “Technological advance allows us to work with given resources (labor, capital, raw materials) more efficiently,” Law said. “As long as we have technological progress, we can have growth in real per capita incomes.”

So runs the debate, but if the era of cheap oil is really over, as Farley sees it, the balance might shift.

OPEC likely to cut oil production

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries may decide to cut the cartel’s oil output quota as the price of crude risks falling under $100 a barrel, energy consultancy CGES said yesterday.

...“The CGES believes that OPEC member-countries, facing increased government spending and rising inflation, will not be happy to see prices fall far below $100 per barrel,” added the report.

China to get key oil reserve bases by year end

China will complete the construction of its first four strategic oil reserves by the end of this year, a senior government official said Monday.

"The progress has been smooth and all the four bases will be completed by the year end," Zhang Guobao, administrator of the National Energy Administration (NEA), said after a press conference in Beijing. "Their total capacity will amount to 16.4 million cu m."

China started to build its strategic oil reserves in 2004, in order to fend off the risk of oil shortages and reduce the impact of oil price fluctuations. The government plans to build strategic oil reserves in three phases over 15 years, involving an estimated investment of 100 billion yuan ($14.6 billion).

...The central government is now reportedly selecting locations for the second batch of strategic oil reserves.

China growth a clear oil price signal

Chinese economic growth can deliver a potentially massive boost to global energy demand with clear implications for long-term oil prices, Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher said overnight.

..."Japan consumes 14 barrels of oil a year per capita," noted Fisher, a former deputy U.S trade representative who helped negotiate China's entry into the World Trade Organization.

"If China used the same amount per capita as parsimonious Japan, Chinese consumption would total more than 18 billion barrels a year, an amount that dwarfs our country's 7.5 billion barrels," said Fisher,

Exxon Halts Gas Supply to Fertilizer Plant in Aceh, Bisnis Says

(Bloomberg) -- Exxon Mobil Corp. halted natural gas supply to a fertilizer plant run by PT Pupuk Iskandar Muda in Aceh province because of a broken pipeline, Bisnis Indonesia reported, citing company president Mashudianto.

Supply of 60 million cubic feet a day has been stopped since the first week of August and is slated to resume on Aug. 25 at the latest, the report said. Exxon is repairing the offshore pipeline, it said.

Oil tank catches fire at Libya's Ras Lanuf

(Reuters) - A crude oil storage tank in the area of Libya's oil refining and petrochemical site Ras Lanuf caught fire during maintenance early on Tuesday, the country's top oil official said.

The fire was still burning, Shokri Ghanem, chairman of Libya's National Oil Corporation, told Reuters. There were no injuries and exports of products have not been affected, he said.

With high oil prices, West Texas booms again

KERMIT, Texas - While most Americans are tightening their belts, scrapping vacation plans and getting rid of their SUVs, in oil-and-gas rich West Texas, folks are living large — again.

Most homes sell quickly and command premium prices. Hotel rooms are in scant supply. Gas guzzlers are rolling off auto dealers' lots. Jobs are plentiful in the oil and gas fields and the businesses that serve them.

Petrobras May Shift Exploration Drills to Brazil, Valor Says

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil's state-controlled oil company, is considering using drills in the country's oil fields that were initially planned for use in the Gulf of Mexico, Valor Economico said, citing executive director for exploration and production, Guilherme Estrella.

Middle East Infrastructure Projects Boom as OPEC Oil Exports Target $1 Trillion for 2008

Oil export revenues earned by member countries of OPEC are set to reach a record total of over $1 trillion by the end of 2008 and continue on an upward trend into 2009, according to estimates by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In the first seven months of 2008, OPEC members earned a record $642 billion for oil exports. Civil construction and power generation projects are growing at a record pace.

Fuel adding to all farm costs: SAFF

The South Australian Farmers Federation (SAFF) says high fuel prices are driving up the cost of nearly every aspect of farming, and could even affect interest rates.

The Federation has given a submission today to a select committee on the impact of peak oil.

Federation president Peter White says while petrol has fallen in price recently, diesel has not, and diesel is the main fuel used in farming.

Peru suspends rights in jungle protest regions

LIMA, Peru - Peru's government declared a state of emergency Monday in remote jungle regions where Indian groups are blocking highways and oil and gas installations to protest a law that makes it easier to sell their lands.

The 30-day decree published in the official gazette suspends rights to public gatherings and free transit in three northern provinces.

Cement grab by Socialist Venezuela

Venezuela has seized foreign owned cement plants on Tuesday, a show of strength as President Hugo Chavez moves forward with a plan to make South America's top oil exporter a socialist society.

The Secret Deal For Iraq’s Oil

Four months before the United States invaded Iraq, the Department of Defense was secretly working with Vice President Dick Cheney’s old company, Halliburton Corp., on a secret deal that would give the world’s second largest oil services company total control over Iraq’s oil fields, according to interviews with Halliburton’s most senior executives.

A Vision for Change: An American Energy Policy

There’s little difference between your "New Energy for America" and Senator McCain’s "Lexington Project," especially since you have now reversed direction on offshore drilling. Your proposed alliance with the Senate’s "Gang of 10" to allow increased drilling and to invest in renewables is not a visionary energy policy – it’s just more hot air. The truth about energy is that nothing proposed by you or your opponent will make one whit of a difference when we pull up to the gas pump, either now or in the future.

McCain, Obama Equally Gassy on Oil

We're changing our habits. We're driving less, and driving more fuel-efficient cars when we do. The market is working. High gas prices are altering behavior and nudging us toward more conservation-oriented transportation habits.

So why are our politicians tripping over themselves to keep prices low?

Timelinks designs city of the future

Dubai-based environmental design company, Timelinks, will unveil a city of the future at the upcoming Cityscape Dubai.

...The city, called the Ziggurat project, will be in the shape of a futuristic pyramid which, according to Timelinks, could support an entire community of up to one million people by harnessing the power of nature.

“Ziggurat communities can be almost totally self-sufficient energy-wise. Apart from using steam power in the building we will also employ wind turbine technology to harness natural energy resources,” said Ridas Matonis, managing director Timelinks.

Kuwait approves more anti-inflation steps

Kuwait's government has approved a set of proposals from a committee tasked with developing a strategy to fight inflation, including a recommendation of more subsidies, reports said.

Chinese oil firm targets coal-to-liquids

A subsidiary of a Chinese state-owned oil giant has thrown its weight behind an ambitious, $3 billion coal-to-liquids (CTL) project planned for South Australia.

Israel: To curb fuel costs, Kibbutz Be'eri runs cars on liquefied petroleum

When Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz sent world oil prices shooting up two months ago with his comments on Iran, the members of Kibbutz Be'eri were much less worried than most Israelis.

For the past three years, the kibbutz has been switching its cars to run on liquefied petroleum gas instead of gasoline or diesel, which is saving the community over NIS 100,000 a month in fuel bills.

Water expert slams biofuels at global conference

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - The winner of the Stockholm Water Prize on Monday slammed the growing use of biofuels and urged people to eat less meat - to help cut the amount of water used in food production.

British professor John Anthony Allan said the effect of the growing use of biofuels "is too frightening to even begin to realize."

Coal's toxic legacy to the Arctic

Coal burning in western Europe and North America has been a prime source of heavy metal pollution in the Arctic.

Scientists plotted levels of thallium, cadmium and lead in a Greenland ice core and linked them to other chemicals indicating coal as the main origin.

Tragedy of the global commons

What a fine pickle for humanity. On one side is the very powerful argument of global warming and its potential effects on climate, and the call for steps to stop either the process, or plan for the necessary adjustments and, the major polluters arguing that technology will see us through. On the other side, forget Kyoto and Bali accords, the mega consumption economies of the northern hemisphere are pulling out all stops to find and extract more oil and gas, the raw materials that will keep adding greenhouse gases to the overburdened atmosphere.

Australian PM urges more US climate change action

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd urged the United States on Tuesday to take more action on climate change and become more involved in the global debate on the issue.

As the only developed nation not to sign the greenhouse gas-controlling Kyoto Protocol, America's stance on climate change has made it easier for major developing countries to avoid acting, Rudd told the Australia-New Zealand Climate Change and Business Conference in the northern city of Auckland.

Japan to label goods' carbon footprints: official

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan is planning to label consumer goods to show their carbon footprints in a bid to raise public awareness about global warming, an official said Tuesday.

Under the plan, a select range of products from beverages to detergent will carry markings on the carbon footprint -- or how much gas responsible for global warming has been emitted through production and delivery.

Mideast to get abundant rains

Rainfall will be abundant in key parts of the Middle East in future, according to a new study of climate change in the region, contrary to earlier projections.

Sea levels could rise 4m this century: climate expert

The head of the climate change unit at the Australian National University and science adviser to the Federal Government , Professor Will Steffen, says he believes the scientific community is underestimating the speed at which the climate is changing.

Oil demand growth projected to continue in the MidEast, Latin America, and developing nations:


I think that September & October will be very interesting regarding oil prices. We saw a price decline in August last year, followed by a 10% rebound in September (average monthly prices, which peaked at $134 in June this year). With China's consumption presumably increasing, with the winter approaching in the Northern Hemisphere, and with an aggregate net export decline presumably continuing, I would expect an increase in oil prices, but I think that we are seeing a horse race between declining demand and declining net oil exports.

The only time in the last seven years that NatGas
didn't hit a yearly low in September
was 2005.

That year it was August.

That horse race = long term recession! maybe this will help us transition more easily!

The call in the UK to build more power stations is appearing in the press almost daily now. The right decision would be to build no more and make do with less and less energy through improved efficiency. However as the phrase goes, this is called political suicide.


Also, I cannot see how London would have the olympics in 2012 when the lights are out 4 hours a day.

According to the IEA: "...oil supply increased by 890 kb/d in July to 87.8 mb/d." (total liquids supply)

Oil supply was projected to grow through 2009.


ASPO had predicted that oil production might peak in 2010. Some have extended forecasts of peak oil to 2015. A surge of petroleum monies has resulted in increased investment in oil projects in new and exisiting fields all over the world. There are numerous projects that might be developed if the money will be available, including the Alberta-Sask. oilsands containing one to two trillion barrels of bitumen in place. Currently bitumen recovery projects are very expensive, but were long life producing at a constant rate for decades.

The demand for oil is linked to the price of oil.

A surge of petroleum monies has resulted in increased investment in oil projects in new and exisiting fields all over the world. There are numerous projects that might be developed if the money will be available, including the Alberta-Sask.

   This is one of the things that really leaves me worried. The more we do about the supply problems and "drill, drill, drill" to extend the plateau, or delay the peak, the steeper that drop off is going to be.
   But I guess that's the short-sightedness that led me here in the first place...

   Can we make a huge public case for leaving the remaining deposits for our descendants? Didn't KSA say something to this effect recently? (I've been trying to think of viral marketing ideas for Peak Awareness and saving something for the children.)


Can we make a huge public case for leaving the remaining deposits for our descendants?

The short answer is no.

We can currently support a population of 330+ million people in NA only because of fossil fuels. There is no way in the short term to replace our reliance on diesel, gasoline and kerosene.

Time is an incompressible limit - regardless of how much money or resources are applied, major changes are going to take time.

If we can manage a window of 30-50 years (or perhaps we need 100 years) we can electrify the rail system, move from trucks to rail, install streetcars, etc. And the power can come wind, solar, (my favorite) geothermal, or whatever.

It's not just a question of convincing people. The real engineering required is going to take time - lots of time.

I am not talking about BAU, I am talking about keeping farms and the essential transportation systems functional. SUV's are toast, and suburbs are probably toast.

Hopefully, we can maintain enough petroleum supply (oilsands, offshore, etc) to get to a sustainable future - IMHO, there aren't any other realistic solutions.

Definition of Engineering:

"Engineering is the art of creating what you require using resources that you can obtain."

We can currently support a population of 330+ million people .... The real engineering required is going to take time - lots of time.

Or the people in charge can opt to reduce the population.


Or the population can opt to reduce the people in charge.

Either way, we've got some reducing to do :)

Can we make a huge public case for leaving the remaining deposits for our descendants?

I would agree with "no." The oil that is left is very difficult for us to get out now. As oil availability drops, things that we take for granted now will become more and more difficult. There may not be roads, helicopters, or advanced drilling rigs. It will be much harder to build pipelines, especially for a very small quantity of oil. It will be difficult to keep refineries in operating condition.

I would argue that we aren't doing our descendants any favor by leaving them the remaining oil. It is likely that they won't be able to get it out and process it anyhow.

It is likely that they won't be able to get it out and process it anyhow.

If it's never burned...it might leave the earth in better shape for them.

Gail, this repeated refrain makes no logical sense. Nobody has yet claimed any collapse will be permanent. They never have been and likely never will be. In particular, if a result of collapse or power down is the eventual mastery of solar power, then the humanity will have essentially harnessed unlimited power. (This carries with it the assumption that population is stabilized within a sustainable social framework.) New technologies will rise that will allow the extraction of those resources as surely as they always have.

There are some things there are no good replacements of oil for, no? Maybe you are too caught up in the numbers to keep sight of simple, practical issues on this point, or do you really believe that a collapse at this point will be final?


Gail, this repeated refrain makes no logical sense. Nobody has yet claimed any collapse will be permanent. They never have been and likely never will be.

CCPO apparently you have not been paying attention. Claiming the collapse will be temporary is just another form of denial. Energy is only a small part of the problem. Homo sapiens are in deep, deep overshoot. The population of the earth is at least three times the level that the biosphere can support long term, even if we had unlimited energy.

In particular, if a result of collapse or power down is the eventual mastery of solar power, then the humanity will have essentially harnessed unlimited power.

Right, then we all live fat dumb and happy forever. No, our topsoil is being eroded away at over 100 times the rate it is being replaced. Water tables are dropping dramatically, fisheries are disappearing, the rain forests and dry forests are disappearing, rivers are drying up, lakes are either drying up are turning into cesspools. But if we could only harvest the power of the sun all these problems would disappear. Give me a break!

There is only one cure for overshoot. And we all know what that is.

Ron Patterson

Ron Patterson

CCPO apparently you have not been paying attention. Claiming the collapse will be temporary is just another form of denial.

Ron, don't be patronizing. I am as big a doomer as exists on these pages. That said, show me any evidence whatsoever, based on Peak Oil issues, that civilization will never rise again or that science and technology will simply stop and never start up again. This view is untenable and unsupportable unless you are going to throw in runaway global warming. But even then, I could see a future that is undersea and/or underground. Yes, it's a long shot, but to say it is impossible from the vantage point of today is hyperbole, don't you think? (If not, then you are claiming a level of precognition that could make you famous and rich! ;) )

Gail is in a field dominated by numbers. We tend to see things colored by our areas of expertise, so my comments were not meant as criticism. It is a legitimate question. I suspect she may see too much in the numbers, and not enough simple human common sense being applied in the future.


   Well, unfortunately, I'm on the other side of this one. And it is an interesting question: Why bother trying to save the falling if there's nowhere to land? Not sure! I guess it's to save the environment for a "new native civilization".

   I came to the conclusion a bit ago that with peak everything, peak minerals especially, there will be a time in a few hundred years where we can't rebuild anything; computers, cell phones, solar panels, windmills (except wooden windmills to grind grain or maybe move water), and the human race will be back to, essentially, the stone age... plus some metals we can remelt from the dumps? But even that will be pretty low quality as it will be remelted from product.

  Undersea or underground? Those both take a lot of energy and, certainly for the undersea version, technology.

Ouch, did I write that out loud?

You may well be right, but it is far from a certainty. Perhaps the problem is the assumption of what technology is or might be. I'm not sure that cell phones are such a hot thing, for example, nor that losing them would be a loss. I can easily envision, assuming humanity doesn't burn of freeze itself mucking with the climate, a far more sylvan lifestyle coupled with a highly technical backbone underlying everything. In fact, I can imagine a world that to an alien species on first blush might appear backwards, nothing more than basic agrarian lifestyle, but that has simply learned to use technology in such an integrated, seemless manner that the technology is essentially hidden from the uneducated eye of the stranger.

How about new armor technologies? By doing nothing much more than layering and binding fibers a certain way, we can now stop bullets. Go back and tell that to Sir Gawain and see what he thinks of it! Why can't we slowly, eventually create everyday clothing that might have the same protective properties but be as, or nearly so, comfortable as daily wear today? This would be a quite simple and likely efficient way to reduce injuries from accidents and crime, no?

You can read my post further down thread for the broader strokes of my argument.


But even then, I could see a future that is undersea and/or underground.

I don't know about underground but I have a pretty good idea of what it costs to maintain a very few human lives underwater for short periods in very small habitats. I can assure you that the cost of maintaining an entire civilization in such conditions is way beyond unfounded science fiction.
Fernando Magyar, Hyberbaric Technician, Saturation HeO2 Diver, certified Sub Sea Oil 1978.

No doubt. Presently. But can you prove it impossible that some portion of humanity might survive that way in the future? (It was just a tossed out example, not intended to build an argument around, btw.)


ccpo, I'm with Darwinian on this one. Many of us think high-tech civilization is a one-shot deal, and if you don't realize this, you haven't been paying attention.

In 1964, astronomer and science fiction writer Sir Fred Hoyle said:

It has often been said that, if the human species fails to make a go of it here on the Earth, some other species will take over the running. In the sense of developing intelligence this is not correct. We have or soon will have, exhausted the necessary physical prerequisites so far as this planet is concerned. With coal gone, oil gone, high-grade metallic ores gone, no species however competent can make the long climb from primitive conditions to high-level technology. This is a one-shot affair. If we fail, this planetary system fails so far as intelligence is concerned. The same will be true of other planetary systems. On each of them there will be one chance, and one chance only.

I think he is right. Civilizations may arise again, but they will not achieve our level of technology. We only achieved it because of our one-time gift of fossil fuels. With those exhausted, it won't be possible to maintain or achieve our current level of complexity.

Look at the civilizations that rose and fell before ours. They achieved some remarkable things, but with only a solar budget to work with, their technology was limited. And when they collapsed, much of their knowledge - even extremely useful knowledge - was lost.

ccpo, I'm with Darwinian on this one. Many of us think high-tech civilization is a one-shot deal, and if you don't realize this, you haven't been paying attention.

Realize which? That it absolutely is a one-shot deal, or that some think so? In either case, are you seriously claiming precognition? The future hundreds, even thousands, of years hence is known to you?

Impressive! Truly!


See my comments further down thread.


Can someone explain the down arrows? Are we children voting down opposing viewpoints?



Ron, I would tend to agree that technological civilisation is pretty much a one-shot deal.
For many although not all resources I have tended to disagree with Limits to Growth type analysis (exceptions being fossil fuels, rare earths, helium etc.).
However you need plenty of energy to overcome the problem of going to lower grade ores, so unless you have plenty of cheap energy then Limits to Growth type analysis does indeed apply - you simply can't utilise the more plentiful lower grade resources.

Although quite a lot of scavenging could take place on the remains of our civilisation, going through the waste dumps, it is pretty difficult to see how you could build up a new civilisation sufficiently to utilise the lower grade deposits without first having access to the high-grade deposits we have exhausted.

To take one area critical to early industrialisation, the UK, even the move from wood to coal which started in around 1200 due to scarcity of wood supplies would not be possible.

Soil depletion, the reduced amounts of phosphates we have left, the depletion of oceanic productivity and on and on seem to indicate that in any time scale of less than 50 million years if we do go down we ain't coming back.

Modern solar and wind, not to mention nuclear power, all rely on a very sophisticated and possibly fragile support system - even solar thermal needs all sorts of technological gubbins.

Here are a few of the resource constraints to the development of another technological civilisation which would be critical in varying degrees:
Whale oil
Natural gas
The by-products of these industries - for instance sulphur
High grade deposits of virtually all minerals

If islands of truly high tech do not survive, it seems improbable that they can be re-created.

Aren't we being a bit unfair dissing ccpo like this. He never claimed the transition would be painless, or even that it might not contain a dieoff. His argument was about an end state of affairs, not the transient trajectory the system will take getting there.

In fact I think most TOD readers tend to agree with his point of view. Otherwise why bother to try and get our fellow citizens to commit to strategies which will result in a smoother less painful transition.

Bingo! A clear-eyed response, EOS. I am a short-, medium- and long-term doomer. I am not a till-the-end-of-all-time doomer. In fact, being so implies a level of arrogance even I don't subscribe to, and I've no shortage of opinion or confidence.

I did not discuss how many people there would be, their standard of living, life expectancy, etc., so to say I "have not been paying attention" based on the scant info in my post and my posting history is simply not accurate.

One thing I do believe in is cycles. They are everywhere in life, in history, in systems... they dominate. This is what was so exciting about Chaos Theory twenty years ago: it changes your view of everything subtly because you realize there is a pattern to literally everything. That pattern is often knowable in the broadest terms, but almost impossible to predict in the short term.

One pattern that dominates all of nature is the cycle of birth, growth, decline and rebirth. What we don't know is what the nature of the far future cycles will be. The assumption that new uses of energy, new ways of harnessing it, new ways of applying it, etc., will simply never again occur is almost ludicrous. It goes against what we know to be the nature of the very universe itself. However, systems do end, species end and civilizations end. We may well have ended ourselves. In fact I think it likely, but ONLY if we cannot adjust to climate change. An energy shift alone is not going to end humanity, so the cycles will continue less a planet we simply canot live on. At some point in the future, new, likely greater, civilizations will rise. Greater may not mean we live more technologically than we do now on a day-to-day basis, but it may well mean we live **better** technologically than we do now. I look at passive solar home design as an excellent back to the future example.

On a different note, I am not the most polite person on these boards. That is with intention. However, I do try not to be harsh simply because someone disagrees with me. I will be hard on people for their way of doing things. (The one exception is Global Warming which I have discussed previously.) For example, I used to give DaveMart a hard time on the nuclear issue, but it wasn't because he was such a staunch supporter, it was because every thread got twisted into a discussion of nuclear while he ignored some obvious problems. Dave stopped doing that and we have no problems. In the end, we learned from each other. But to tell someone they haven't been paying attention because they just disagree with you, with reasonable support of their opinions, is unjustifiably rude.

But it's not a big deal. I enjoy both Ron and Gail's work.



Canada and the US would be just over 330 million. All of North
America would exceed 500 million.

Matt Simmons suspects that the total liquids supply is getting a temporary boost from the blow down of gas caps in oil fields in terminal stages of depletion.

Regarding crude oil (C+C), it remains to be seen if 2008 average annual production will exceed the 2005 rate, but if we take current EIA data (subject to revision, generally downward) at face value, the cumulative shortfall between what we have produced and what we would have produced at the 5/05 rate increased in the latter half of 2005, through 2006, through 2007 and based on year to date average data, through May, 2008 (albeit at a slow rate in 2008). This metric measures our cumulative failure to simply match the 5/05 crude production rate, despite oil prices that are currently twice the 2005 average annual rate.

Meanwhile, assuming that Ghawar is in decline, every oil field in the world that has ever produced one mbpd or more of crude oil is presently in decline.

And the most recent annual data for Canada showed declining net oil exports.

NGL's were also expected from LNG projects nearing completion.

In the UK we have around 30BW of generating capacity due to retire within a few years.
Much of the rest of our power comes from natural gas, increasingly dependent on Russia and LPG imports, if any ever arrive.
AFAIK no-one including Greenpeace imagines that we can get by with just conservation, although they seem to think that we can do it with renewables somehow - but that supposes a still very substantial gas burn.

Have a look at some of Euan's articles on the UK power situation - the lights are likely to go out anyway, anytime from this winter on, even with more build and presupposing conservation.

UK power situation - the lights are likely to go out anyway

Hopefully the streetlights as i'm an avid astronomer!! This has actually happened in an England council, don't have a weblink.

My homebrew telescopes (excuse the spam!): www.geocities.com/telescopiman


It happened in Flagstaff Arizona too:


I used to work at the Lowell Observatory for a while many years ago, and am acquainted with one of the astronomers who pushed for this. It took him many years of persuading and cajoling, but finally he got it through. One of his biggest struggles was with a large distribution company that has a cookie cutter approach to their depots which included illuminating them as bright as daylight all night using broad spectrum lights that blasted large amounts of illumination straight into the sky. They refused to compromise on their design even though it would have saved them money. Eventually I think the parent company went bankrupt or similar and the depot was removed (or never build, can't remember the details.) The point being that it is hard work to fight against even the most absurdly wasteful practices at times.

I was back in Flagstaff for a visit earlier this year and it really is amazing - you can see the stars quite clearly from the town centre and the usual sight of ultra-bright lighting on commercial property is noticably absent. Maybe you could get together with like-minded individuals and push your local town for similar measures. Start doing astronomy parties, invite the neighbours and get them to sign a petition. Just shielding streetlights so they do not waste energy sending light upwards is a simple first step that is often not taken.

Our local council in Edinburgh (Scotland) beat us to is! They have now installed lowerer enegry downlighters that blast MUCH less into the sky and they are rolling them out across the city as they use less energy. This winter I might notice a difference - but it will be subjective as I will not have measured sky brightness before!

Kenneth Rogoff, a professor at Harvard is saying some "large US banks" are set to fail. But he won't name any names. Which ones is he talking about, anybody want to guess?

Heh. Maybe it's the Fed.

Lehman should go, but Lehman is joined at the hip with the FRB
as are several others in the list below.

whic means that the US drops to Aaa before they go.

The latter:

For those who can't wait to see my ultimate shorts, I will give you the complete list of what I call the "Deep Doo-Doo Banks". These are the banks that are steeped pretty deep in it. Are you ready? Can you handle the pressure? Okay, here we go!

Wells Fargo (WFC) - Popular Inc (BPOP) - SunTrust (STI) - KeyCorp (KEY) - Synovus Financial Corp (SNV) - Marshall & Ilsley (MI) - Associated Banc (ASBC) - First Charter (FCTR) - M&T Bank Corp (MTB) - Huntington Bancshares (HBAN) - BB&T Corp (BBT) - JPM Chase (JPM) - U.S. Bancorp (USB) - Bank of America (BAC) - Capital One (COF) - Nara Bancorp (NARA) - Sandy Spring Bancorp (SASR) - PNC (PNC) - Harleysville National (HNBC) - CVB Financial (CVBF) - Glacier Bancorp (GBCI) - First Horizon (FHN) - National City Corp (NCC) - WaMu (WM) - Countrywide (CFC) - Regions Financial Corp (RF) - Citigroup (C) - Wachovia Corp (WB) - Zions Bancorp (ZION) - TriCo Bancshares (TCBK) - Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB) - Sovereign Bancorp (SOV)

Now, I already released some of my work on one of the banks, chosen due to paper thin capitalization - along with a different view on leverage. Keep in mind, for the purposes of this blog, I'm just a resourceful individual investor - albeit one that is very lucky to date (this post was before Bear Stearns dropped 98%). Therefore, no one, and I really mean no one, should be taking my opinions on this blog as investment advice. It is not intended as such and should not be percieved as such.


I also suggest:

BoomBustBlog - lots of bank analysis

Credit Writedowns - more bank news

I agree as an armchair hobbyist-guesser that Lehman and Citigroup are pretty high up there. Then again, so are MS, ML, GS, JPM, etc.

And we haven't even started touching the non-US banks that are in dire straits in the UK, France, Germany, in Asia, etc.

It looks more and more like there's going to be blood on the streets before this is over. This just by reading the daily numbers and reports that are getting gloomier by each passing day.

Hang on... Are you Reggie Middleton?

Some knowledgeable investors are saying Wells Fargo is in deep but don't try to short them as they have some aces up their sleeve yet. Same investors are saying that the top shorts are Wachovia and National City right now. Given that I do not have access to the information that led to these conclusions, I can neither endorse nor criticize. I simply add these comments here as observations.

One thought: The FDIC will have funds to bail out the first few banks that fail. After that, the task will probably fall to the federal government, since the FDIC only has $53 billion in assets, and it is difficult to get much more money by assessing solvent banks.

Therefore, if you are going to have an account with a bank that fails, perhaps you are safest with one that fails early on. Or will the federal government be able to provide coverage for all of the others (plus Fannie and Freddie, pension funds, etc.)?

As with everything else, there is a blog that


To a degree it is speculation, but some of the banks listed there have definitely lost considerable amounts of money.

Great, WFC heads the list. I've spread my savings around to a couple local banks as insurance, my PSA Pangloss points to quotes like these as assurance WFC will weather the storm:

“The outlook for Wells Fargo remains quite positive,” Bove said, pointing to reduced competition in both the capital markets and in West Coast banking. He urged clients to “buy this stock aggressively.”

Their insurance arm acquired a competitor today, FWIW.

Look at the number of Level 3 assets of Wells Fargo compared to their all assets:

All in all not the worst performer, but probably not safe either :)

Fitch Ratings posted a study a while ago that looked at second mortgage holdings. (The potential loss on a second mortgage tends to be high.) I didn't keep track of the link, but if you ask the good people at Google about Fitch Ratings US Home Equity Woes I'm sure they could help.
It looks like this class of loans comes out to 178% of capital for Wells Fargo. The other thing that could affect them in the next reporting period is their change from giving 120 days before foreclosure to 180. The last report appeared to be a small improvement but they could end up with bigger write downs if their generosity doesn't work out. I know there are some famously conservative people who have a great deal of faith in them, but they may yet earn their place on the Deep List.

I worked for Norwest Technical Services (part of Norwest Bank) for 12.5 years. IIRC they bought Wells Fargo and kept the name. Last year my broker suggested I sell my WFC stock, which I did. Three long years from now I'll be eligible for my pension, which ain't much. Wouldn't surprise me if it's not there. Oh, and my broker is at Wachovia and my mortgages are with National City Mortgage. Yeah, I'm in great shape. :(

On a lark, I added up the total write-downs so far on Bankimplode.com.

1 Trillion 150 billion($1,150,000,000,000) with a few tens of billions slop.

Plan with Existing Technology

and add new technology as it is proven and is at least semi-mature.

(a comment of the Economist article & debate linked in header)

A half dozen years ago, I would have discounted a hypothetical Segway if it had been described to me as a "Silver BB"(it was then in secret prototype stage). I would have been skeptical that it could safely work, etc.

Most TOD readers will remember the hype surrounding the introduction of the Segway. "World changing" was not the most over blown claim.

Today, we know Segways work, and work fairly well, but they seem to have a small niche.

I now include Segways as a very small caliber silver BB in my plans for the future.

It seems foolhardy to bet the future of our society on some new developing technology. AND for those technologies to emerge on an "as needed" timetable. A brief review of the history of technology shows many promising ideas that developed into dead ends, or extremely limited niche solutions.

Plan for the future with existing mature technology, and as new technologies emerge and prove themselves, modify the plans to accommodate the new solutions. That seems to me to be the only rational choice.

Best Hopes for Realistic Plans,


I don't know if we can get it together, but the group that brought Simmons & Kunstler to Dallas in 2005 is working on a Electrification of Transportation (EOT) symposium for the fall, featuring Alan, with some speakers on North Texas commuter rail and the local mass transit system (DART), hopefully with a name luncheon speaker like Pickens.

My suggestion to readers. You might consider doing the same thing in your own communities. It would appear that rail transportation is an idea whose time has (once again) come. I suspect that by the time the election rolls around, politicians are going to be focused on one key word: JOBS. And EOT would be a way to put people to work doing real jobs--especially electric streetcar systems.

Sorry I can't travel to Texas Jeff. Alan has been convincing for years. Does anyone have any reliable "ball park" figures on rail road restoration and construction. I can't seem to find any good information anywhere. The only things I have been able to find are specific studies for some projects but the information is very hard to make sense of.
thanks ... Don

final report
National Rail Freight Infrastructure
Capacity and Investment Study.PDF

This study was prepared by Cambridge Systematics, Inc. under contract to the
Association of American Railroads. The major authors of the study were
Lance R. Grenzeback, David T. Hunt, and Daniel F. Beagan. The key contributing
staff were John Lewis, Siddharth A. Pandit, Jessica E. Tump, Thomas C.
Messer, and Nathan R. Higgins.

The cost of improvements needed to accommodate rail freight demand in 2035 is
estimated at $148 billion (in 2007 dollars). The Class I freight railroads’ share of
this cost is projected to be $135 billion; the short line and regional freight railroads’
share is projected to be $13 billion.

Thanks for this mcg ... I am looking for per mile costs for both upgrades and new construction. This report seems to cover upgrades and I will read it more carefully to see if that includes grade reductions, straightening etc as well as signal and control improvements. Thanks ...

You might try searching "Houston" on the subject. I believe they've just approved an expansion of the existing light rail system.

As a Houstonian I'm not sure if I should be happy or sad about this. I think the 5 mi of light rail we got in hopes of getting the Olympics cost around 5 billion. *sigh*

You have been listening to anti-rail propaganda.

The 7.5 mile (not 5 mile) starter line cost $272 to $324 million (depending on how financing & overhead was accounted for).

the first line has a number of one-time costs related to the barn, maintenance, etc.

The French plan to build 1,500 km of trams for 22 billion euros.

Of course, they are French !

The USA "rations by queue" which drives costs up significantly.

Best Hopes for Cost Effective Urban Rail,


Our organization, Transition Cotati, which is based on the Transition Initiative model from the UK, is doing an alternative transportation event on Sept 25. (That's just 2 days after the close of ASPO in Sacramento -- which is 2 hrs away from here!)

We'll have folks from local transit agencies, the local bike coalition, and the SMART train initiative speaking. SMART, which is diesel-based and would run about 75 miles from northern Sonoma County to southern Marin County connecting to a ferry terminal to San Francisco, is on the ballot once again this November. Now I'm wondering about its electrifiability. Any ideas?

Contact Alan. He will be in the neighborhood for ASPO.

Electrification of Transportation (Alan Drake)

Streetcars 100 Years Ago

Cities Rediscover Streetcars

As noted above, I suggest that readers work on their own local EOT conferences.

We may all be like Rhett Butler, in "Gone With the Wind," who made a futile effort to help a lost cause at the end of the War of Northern Aggression, but at least we can try to make things not as bad as they would otherwise have been--using technology that was basically perfected more than a century ago.

Alan Drake, a latter day "Rhett Butler"

Wouldn't it be great, that as we return to a technology over 100 years old, we had the population of over 100 years ago? With all the talk coming out of the pundits mouths, when it comes to population control, they almost all swallow their whistles. In the face of Peak Oil, Peak Coal, Peak Natural Gas, we continue to import millions of people every year. And now the immigrants are having so many children that our birth rate has recently gone back above replacement level. But the pundits have nary a peep to say about it. Apparently the resource problem is not really that great. Not only can 303 million Americans survive it, but 400 million, 500 million, in fact, the pundits have set no population limit so potentially a trillion Americans can survive it. Thank goodness for the very few pundits who were able to shake their indoctrination and have the balls to express the painfully obvious yet taboo truth regarding population control - like Albert Bartlett and Tad Patzek.

Pausing now for someone to chime in that there is nothing to worry about - population growth will stop at 9.5 billion.

More likely, we'll be like Scarlett: "Oh Rhett, Rhett, whatever shall I do?"

Alan, I've yet to understand what need the Segway fulfills but I don't live in an urban area. What do they do that a bicycle cannot?

Well this is timely. A friend called this morning, all excited about something call water 4 gas that he was watching on the net. I didn't want to get into it with him so I said I'd run it by my energy group (TOD). He sent me the link: http://water4gas.com/2books.htm?hop=mercury18 ... good grief, if it looks like a scam, smells like a scam, it's probably a scam. I then googled water 4 gas looking for reviews but saw nothing but sites promoting and selling. No critical reviews... okay, I gave up after looking at half a dozen.

Can somebody here give me some ammo to fire at my friend so he doesn't waste his money on this? I wonder how much money is spent on stuff like this. Is there a site that deals with debunking wild claims like this?


Water4Gas is NOT my invention. And it's not new. Based on old "forgotten" US Patents we have developed devices that use a little electricity out of your car/truck battery, to separate water into a gas called "HHO" (2 parts Hydrogen + 1 Oxygen). HHO, also called Brown's Gas, Water-Fuel or Hydroxy, burns beautifully and provides TONS of energy - while the end product is just WATER! Mobile Magazine says: HHO provides the atomic power of Hydrogen, while maintaining the chemical stability of water.

I'm no physicist but IMHO this looks like a 'perpeptual motion' type scam. For this to work it would have to defy the First Law of Thermodynamics (or the law of conservation of energy). You're essentially splitting water then recombining it again. At a theoretical 100% efficiency, the energy gained from recombining the hydrogen and oxygen would exactly balance the electrical energy input used to split the water. As no process is ever 100% efficient (some energy will always be 'lost as heat') you would actually lose energy doing this.

If you want to use electricity to increase your mpg you're better off with a hybrid.

Wikipedia Water fueled Car

A water-fuelled car is a motor car that is claimed to use water as its fuel or produces fuel from water onboard, with no other energy input. Water-fuelled cars have been mentioned in newspapers, popular science magazines, local news coverage, and the internet (YouTube); at least some of the claims were found to be tied to investment frauds.[1][2] This article focuses on those cars or motors which purport to extract their energy directly from water, a process which would violate the first and/or second laws of thermodynamics

Wikipedia Oxyhydrogen

Oxyhydrogen is often mentioned in conjunction with devices that claim to increase automotive engine efficiency or to operate a car using water as a fuel. Because the energy required to split water exceeds the energy recouped by burning it, these devices reduce, rather than improve fuel efficiency

It's 99% snake oil. Hydrogen-enhanced lean-burn engines are legit. In terms of EROEI, it's probably more efficient to generate the hydrogen from gasoline using an onboard reformer instead of from water.


It's probably a scam.

The basic problem is that water is a stable compound, and to separate it into component hydrogen and oxygen, you have to add energy. To add energy in means you don't get energy out of it. Likewise, to convert liquid water to gas, you have to add energy in (boil it).

For the cost of 1 Segway ($5,600):

Specs on the "Segway i2":
* Weight 105 lbs
* Tires 19"
* Footprint 19 x 25 in
* Max Speed 12.5 mph
* RangeUp to 24 miles

You can buy 6 of these "Zappy 3 Pro Electric Scooters" ($900):

Specs on the "Zappy3":
- SPEED: Up to 13 mph
- RANGE: Up to 24 miles
- MOTOR: 350 watt geared motor
- CHARGING TIME: 4-6 hours for pennies
- BATTERY: 2 Batteries: 36V 10.5 Ah
- BATTERY TYPE: Sealed lead acid (IATA Certified A67)
- TIRES: Pneumatic
- COLOR: White, Blue
- SIZE: 40*26.8*38.6 inches
- WEIGHT: 79 lbs.
- COMES WITH: Basket, Headlight and Horn

I just don't understand what the Segway is supposed to be good for, except proving that you can solve a fairly simple problem with a needlessly exotic and complex solution...

Or you can walk. Especially if you are a young, apparently fit woman as depicted in the picture. The U.S. has some of the most out of shape people on the planet and we need a segway?

I saw a Segway "in the wild" the other day.

There was a young guy (25-30) trying to navigate a Segway through a crowd of people taking their noontime walk on a beautiful sunny day.

IMO, he looked like a total idiot - I wouldn't be caught dead riding one of those things.

A few years ago I was down at the Mall in Washington DC on a hot (100+ degree) day in August. As I was walking around, sweating and sweltering in the humid DC air, a man in a blue serge suit glided by on a Segway. I thought I had finally seen a reasonable application for the Segway: someone who needs to go between buildings in DC in the summertime in a suit. I'm not sure that's enough of a business model to sustain a product, but it seemed reasonable to me at the time.

As a flat foot tourist on a hot humid Washington DC day, I encountered a small army of these and their occupants. Remided me of something out of Star Wars, kept looking for colossal helmets on the riders. Nope, just well-heeled tourists on a tour. I'd never seen one before, they sure took much more than their share of the sidewalk.

I don't think I have EVER seen a Segway operating that did not have a police officer of some kind on it.

About the only other time I've seen a Segway in the wild (see my post upthread) was at a convention earlier this year at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. A woman who supervised set-up & clean-up operations at various locations around the convention center could be seen scooting from one location to another. Like the "DC summer" use of the Segway, it also seemed like a reasonable use to me.

These 'Segue Supervisors' kind of invokes shades of the Nobility(Caballeros) and their Lieutenants watching on horseback over the common-folk in the fields..

The obvious ethnic difference between the supervisor and nearly all the workers was not lost on me.

Yeah, the bit I've never understood is that, theoretical segway max speed of 12.5 mph notwithstanding, in an urban area your speed is limited to about human walking pace anyway by people/obstacle avoidance. Now I often take public transport to somewhere I'm fit enough to walk to for time reasons (ie, 10 min bus instead of a 40 min walk), but to be spending all the time needed to walk somewhere and then not getting the exercise benefit strikes me as perverse.

Even those are needlessly complicated. With a max speed of 13mph, they're slower than the average bicycle rider. You'll end up cheaper and faster on a bicycle.

Motorizing transport for the able-bodied just isn't worth much until you're able to go 25-30mph. That way, the expense gets you something which you can't get from your own legs.

You all forget handicapped people (people who physically can't walk, or walk without difficulty). People with such limitations apparently love the things (and there are articles with such people trying to get them allowed in malls (they are banned in a lot of places).

As for myself - yeah, walking is what I'll do - or even better - running. Hilariously enough I've actually kept up with cyclists while running - they weren't obstructed by pedestrians - some people are just slow. In fact, in one instance I was even about to pass some woman on a bike (fairly physically fit) going up a hill; but she took one look at me (an angry look) and decided to go faster. Lazy bikers.

Different problem. A disabled person would probably have trouble standing on a Segway for extended periods, and you can already buy electric mobility scooters for $1000.

When the Segway was first released, part of the founder's vision was for it to be legal on both sidewalks and bike paths. They lobbied for it be licensed like an electric wheelchair or mobility scooter, but some cities balked at allowing them on sidewalks. The hype and arrogance surrounding the launch didn't help.

True. Given that Segways are directed by shift of balance I can only imagine the crazy spaghetti path my muscular dystrophy would send it off in.
I use a simple U framed folding electric bike - 15+mph and 25 mile range, goes in the back of the car and the luggage rack takes 30kg shopping.
I did remove the basket though, as I would advise the dude pictured above, otherwise you end up looking like a rampant cock.

I'll take a Segway. That model is pretty hot!


Or for $9,000 you could buy a Bad Boy Buggy, a beefy 100% electric powered 4x4 that can carry passengers and as I recall over 1000 lbs of cargo, and does regenerative braking. Saw one at the PHEV conference last month--I just wished I could justify buying one!


Your link appears to be broken.

Feh, forgot the http://!


First of all, sorry for blowing up on the DB a few days ago. Anyway, I fully agree that the emphasis should be placed on existing technology for a number of reasons.

First, old technology is proven to work. I believe that a good analogy is with pharmaceuticals where it is typically suggested to wait seven years to take a medication that uses new technology to be sure it is safe.

Second, old technologies will probably be less complex. It's sort of like the old pre-computer cars where anyone could actually repair problems.

Third, new technologies are often more far more expensive - although they may have a few more bells and whistles. It's sort of like the first PV system that I put in 25+ years ago; the little modified sine wave inverter cost about $600 whereas the inverters on the big system I put in nine years ago cost $4k each.

I think the limiting factors will be the time it takes to transition to even existing technologies and the cost. I know in my case that, approaching 70, that I could not afford to install what I have if I hadn't started almost 30 years ago. And, as someone who has developed a couple of rural properties, things take more time than you think.


"Plan for the future with existing mature technology"

So is everybody ready for the computer controlled coal fuelled steam car....

Complex electronic components are part of our future problems - they are not repairable and are typically obsolete in a matter of months, supporting products and keeping them running for years, decades and centuries isn't economically possible. A new 'simplify' paradigm is required urgently ... the exact opposite to what is happening.

Complex electronic components are part of our future problems - they are not repairable and are typically obsolete in a matter of months, supporting products and keeping them running for years, decades and centuries isn't economically possible.

I have an electronic calculator that is 34 years old and is still functional (It has trig functions, exponentials, logarithms, a memory). I still use it because I like the keypad size. The voyager space craft are still sending signals back to earth after decades of operation. Electronics can be made reliable. In the current economic environment the motivation for doing so is low. Everybody wants to expand sales volumes forever. They want you to throw away your old ipod and buy the latest and greatest version. Electronic products could be supported for decades if we made conscious decision to do so. The throw away society is not from everlasting to everlasting. Either we follow the path of voluntary simplicity and mutual support, or we follow the path of involuntary simplicity and the war of all against all as everyone tries to hang to their piles of toys and their luxuries for as long as possible.

You can have my old HP 11C when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers... :-)

I have an even older calculator. Does trig, logs, exponentials, multiplies, divides. No memory though, and doesn't add either. Called a slide rule.

I went through undergrad chemistry (quite effectively) with a slide rule. It was my father's from his MIT days in the 40's. I still treasure it.

My dad still has all his old slide rules as well...but he also has an early Sharp(?) calculator from the late sixties. It has these cool blue miniature lights which look like tiny fluorescent bulbs and the whole thing weighs ten or so pounds. About the size of a brick. It still works, although it only + - * /.

Maybe have an abacus/soroban class along with slide rule and you'd have uninterrupted Engineering. Can't use either, not my generation. (I use my cellphone calculator or the Ruby irb prompt) Certainly over time these mental tools will be important again.

Check your local listings, unless you have an Asian community present, you probably don't have abacus training available. There's one in Markham north of Toronto for kids. I know there's another in Osaka as an exchange with India taught in English too. Anyway, what do you think about championing a revival? There is an international school. Would anyone be interested?

This brings up Vedic (how to pronounce??) math, and math education in general as used throughout Asia. India has a long history of math education. There are sutras for math too and we'd be better off improving our mental powers. Yes, sutra just means 'rule' after all, although relating sex to math may improve attendance (if just for one day ha)

Apparently only hundreds of years ago humans could remember things amazingly well. Our toys' coolness has taken this ability away. Thus to get rid of the inevitable Cargo Cult Effect perhaps the end result of all this mess will be finding out that the human brain turns out to be pretty useful.

Hail The Return of the King Mind

Any Montessori-educated child can show you how to use an abacus. +-*/

I wonder what the airlines will say about OPEC defending the $100 mark?

It is fairly well accepted their current business model does not work with oil above $85.


I was wondering the same thing.
Seems like every year OPECs "target" price goes up - a LOT.

I guess the dealers are just as addicted to the cash as we are to the oil.


OPEC are planning on building greenback fired power stations.

Peak glitz?

No more nights at the Oscars for GM: it's dropping its sponsorship in the latest round of belt tightening.

General Motors drops Oscars sponsorship

"With the current business challenges and tightening budgets, we've decided to focus our advertising and promotional dollars on activities that reach customers in the most impactful ways," a GM spokeswoman said. "The Academy Awards was a very good platform in the past but is not part of our 2009 business plans."

GM had been centring its advertising around a handful of key events — including the Oscars and the Super Bowl — which attract a huge television audience and are relatively immune from the phenomenon of viewers recording shows to skip the commercial breaks.

The company has shed 53,000 jobs over the past two years as it confronts fierce competition from Asian manufacturers that excel in the increasingly crucial smaller-vehicles sector.

An analyst at Merrill Lynch warned last month that GM risks bankruptcy if the US market gets much worse. The company's shares have fallen by 55% since the beginning of the year and are trading at levels last seen during the 1950s.

Here's a story from today's NYT:

As Oil Giants Lose Influence, Supply Drops

The words "peak oil" are actually included. Could the message be getting thru? Apparently not as the author suggests that the only problem is those pesky "above ground" situations. Drill, Drill, Drill, sez he (with a little "help" from our friendly gun toting Army and Marines, of course)...

E. Swanson

Except that in the article Peak Oil is shown in quotes and is described as being a fringe view.

Perhaps that's because Peak Oil is still not widely accepted. Once Peak Oil becomes main stream, the obvious implications are that the World is facing a Game Over situation, after which, the rules of behavior must change, like it or not. The MSM, being part of TPTB, isn't going to admit that, at least, not until after the Presidential Election is over. After all, the MSM has no more ability to quantify the situation than do we here on TOD. Peak Oil, while it's a fact of life, isn't going to be clear until some time after the Peak is passed. The solutions required will mean drastic changes in everything we do in the West and nobody (accept for a few of us on the fringes of society) is going to willingly accept those changes until there's no other option left, IMHO.

Best hopes for a benign episode of supply disruption to give the politicians a bit of a kick in the butt without pushing lots of folks over the cliff.

E. Swanson


I don't think it will matter whether PO becomes mainstream and even whether people become aware that BAU is dead.

Look at the range of opinions on TOD of how the future might play out: transition to BAU Lite via renewables and "sustainability" (whatever that means), slow catabolic collapse, rapid collapse, rapid collapse with a dieoff, rapid collapse with WWIII followed by the end of the world as we know it.

Then we need to factor in the psychological aspects. Those of us who have come to grips with the possibility that society as it exists will end will be happy if there is only a little starvation. At the other extreme will be those who will be angry that they can't fly to Disneyland for a vacation.

It will take a shared view of the future and what is possible to even attempt action.


"It will take a shared view of the future and what is possible to even attempt action."

Anyone who has ever given a Peak Oil presentation can attest to the fact that people expect cheerful scenarios. An older woman approached me one night after giving what I thought was a PG presentation and she exclaimed: "What's the bright side of this?"

I was immediately reminded of the following fictionalized conversation between a purser and a passenger on the Titanic after striking an iceberg:

Purser: "Mr. Brinks! wake up we've struck an iceberg and the captain has ordered the passengers to get into the lifeboats."
MR. Brinks(wealthy industrialist):"My dear man don't be an hysterical ninny. Do you know what time it is? Why don't you get me a hot totty and then we'll go see about this iceberg."

PO by any other name. It's common for TPTB to rename a crisis, in part to avoid the told-ya-so's who would discredit them. But however you parse it, the words are those of Westexas and Khebab:

Oil production has begun falling at all of the major Western oil companies, and they are finding it harder than ever to find new prospects even though they are... eager to expand.

...much of their production is in mature regions that are declining....

...the five biggest publicly traded oil companies, including Exxon Mobil, said their oil output had declined by a total of 614,000 barrels a day....

Today’s 10 largest holders of petroleum reserves are state-owned companies, like Russia’s Gazprom and Iran’s national oil company.

And then the author goes on to deride "doomsday predictions" and PO "theories" in general!
Okay, fine, Bigfoot doesn't exist, it's just a hirsute eight-foot recluse, but can we please get on with our mitigation plans now?

A few years ago, this New York Times story by none other than don't-worry-be-happy NYT oil expert Jad Mouawad would have been unthinkable.

We've come a long way baby.

(Unfortunately, the path is downhill.)

By the way, Khebab's 2006 graph showing oil price volatility within a predictable band is looking pretty good in 2008:

From the post: How Periodic are the oil price fluctuations?

Makes the talk of the oil price "bubble" bursting look a little foolish, if you can predict these kind of swings based on past behaviour.
Looking at those bands, a fall to $100 per barrel over the next month followed by a spike to $170 by New Year would be consistent with observed volatility.

It'd be great to see an update of that chart...

Two columns in yesterday's Christian Science Monitor hinted of a new economic/energy reality -- one by Kathleen Connell and one by David Francis. Connell's column contained a quote that you won't hear in any presidential campaign platform but which I think is true nonethless:

Smart consumers should accept that the economy's challenges are long term, calling for a major downshift in spending. Current borrowing and debt levels are unsustainable. Recognizing the economy's new challenges, spending less will become a necessity.

David Francis -- who is peak oil aware -- placed the current Russian-Georgian conflict smack in the middle of a global scramble for diminishing energy resources.

So, yes, I think some in the MSM are clued in. But the background noise continues to drown them out.

Oil = money. Big money

Do you honestly believe that if there were any major prospects sitting off US shores that the drilling moratorium would have been allowed to go ahead?

Why is it that the folks promoting increased offshore drilling all turn out to be politicians? Why are the oil companies not beating down doors in Washington demanding access? If 10 billion dollars were sitting underwater offshore Miami do you not think someone would have figured out how to game the system, bribe the pols, do whatever it takes to get access? Is that not exactly how money grubbing free enterprise is supposed to work?

If there were a billion bbl prospect under the Lincoln Memorial they would be spudding the well through Lincoln's groin as of yesterday. But they won't cause there is not.

It's those ultra-powerful DFH environmentalists. Don't you know they run the country?

Offshore drilling ban makes a useful scapegoat in partisan politics.

I saw that yesterday (and Ace posted it in yesterday's DrumBeat). I was pretty disappointed in it. I was starting to have some hope for Jad Mouawad, but this is the same old, same old.

I think this is going to be the takeaway for most people:

My bottom line: Big Oil will continue to diversify into alternative energy. It has no choice. So before we start taxing its "windfall profits," we should remember that all that dough will increasingly go toward clean energy. And the private sector will do a much better choice vetting new technologies than Washington. But I also find it interesting that just as whole swaths of the globe are off limits to Big Oil—experts call this "geopolitical peak oil"—so are whole swaths of America, such as ANWR and the coasts of California and Florida. I guess this is self-imposed "political peak oil."

There is a giant chasm between how financial types view the world and how science-trained people view the world.

It comes as no surprise that financial types tell themselves financial/political narratives when trying to understand the world. (i.e., "Everything would be great if only we had true free trade, open markets, etc.")

Anybody for a new metric?

People are under the impression that since the US has these 70 billion barrels of oil waiting for us to tap on leases that aren't being used yada yada yada, that all we need to do is force these dirty scheming oil companies to build a couple of rigs in the GOM and presto! $2/gallon gas. (/sarcasm) They're wholly unaware that a deepwater offshore rig can only produce so much per day.

So how 'bout a measure of what a rig really can produce: The thunderhorse. 1 TH can produce 250 kb/d. Thus, for the US to make up for the loss of imports from Mexico, we'd need about 5 TH by 2014. From what I've gleaned the industry won't be breaking that production record soon, either, so it will in all likelihood hold for the foreseeable future.

Measurements that use a physical entity convey a point well, I think. The Jupiter, for instance. The visual of a rig listing over is effective, too. And as long as the price doesn't drop by too many yergins people will be concerned about energy prices, and should be aware of the limits we face in meeting these obstacles.

Beyond the Export Land Model?
I have been thinking about some things recently, trying to articulate and understand some ideas which are still a little fuzzy and needs further development. Perhaps this has been discussed before and I missed, or it is so obvious that it does not need to be stated. The thought is "What is the significance of the ELM countries going to zero and beyond?"

With the Export Land model (Thanks to Westexas and Khebab)we see that as Producing Countries increase their consumption, their consumption increase adds to their depletion rate to further decrease available quantities for export. As a case in point, Westexas has indicated that within a few years, as an example, Mexico will drop to zero exports within a few years.

Most obviously once their exports go to zero, there is nothing left to export. But it seems to me that beyond that point, every barrel of depletion that the country experiences has twice the weight of a barrel of depletion from a net exporter. Once the Export Land Country crosses over to the Import side of the house, they come into competition with all other countries fighting for limited available imports. The supply side of the market decreases and the demand side increases. Every barrel of subsequent lost production could be seen as having a double impact on the difference between supply and demand, which would seem to me at least to further accelerate the volatility in prices and supplies.

If the post Export Land continues to increase it's consumption rate as it continues to loose production, this increased competition for the limited supply even further stresses the system. This would indicate to me that the ride down the descent of Hubert's Peak may become increasingly bumpy. I would welcome any thoughts or suggestions for ways to restate or articulate this further.

The obvious example is the US. We were a leading oil exporter in the Thirties and during the Second World War, but shortly after the war we became a net oil importer, more than 20 years before our production peaked.

And of course the UK and Indonesia are two current examples. They went from combined net exports of 1.7 mbpd in 1997 to combined net imports of 0.22 mbpd in 2007 (EIA).

Another obvious example is China. They went from net exports of 620,000 bpd in 1985, to net importer status in 1993, to net imports of 3.7 mbpd in 2007 (EIA).

OFPEC--Organization of Formerly Oil Exporting Countries

Great Britain is a case study we can watch in real time. Preliminary results look pretty ugly, but how much of that is due to beoming an oil importer can be mooted.

Mexico might be a better example, since it's more dependent on oil income than Great Britain ever was. As Mexican net exports go to zero and then turn negative, you can expect a huge economic impact that results in more shrinkage and faster demand destruction than you'd see in a more diversified economy.

As the State goes broke, the "animal" slowly devours itself to fend off starvation, shedding its nonvital limbs, becoming paralyzed in its desperation to live just one more day. Non-state actors take over, the black-market economy grows, and all the while suffering steadily increases for almost everyone. This is happening today in the border region.

Now picture Saudi going the way of Mexico - It's no recipe for sweet dreams.

yes for saudi it's much worse. they have to import all their food. at least mexico even with respect to fertilizer needs etc can grow food a bit longer.

it's saudi for the win

Its been said before - I think someone studying the economic impact of decline showed the options for actions to negate decline decreases by 5 fold every gdp point within the decline cycle.

Meaning the amount of silver bb's we have access too is dramatically reduced at some point when we start sliding down.

I missed that discussion. Can you remember the name of the paper or the author?

I do believe this is true, but I would really like to see some analysis that discusses it.

Its Eastender - he said it


Midway in the discussions

Post export land economies seem likely to enter a world which has either very high oil prices or is suffering from depression which is restraining consumption.
In neither case are they likely to be able to sustain the very rapid increase in oil consumption characteristic of an export land country - they simply won't be able to pay for it.
Since typically oil exporters allow their own inhabitants access to oil at way below world rates, which is a primary cause of their fast increase in consumption, then ex-exporters will have to either provide ever larger subsidies to keep the petrol price cheap or allow prices to rise even more rapidly than world prices so as to eliminate or reduce the difference, which will soon halt the rapid growth in consumption and might even eliminate it.
In reality they will probably do a bit of both, and have both fast rising petrol prices and fast rising budget deficits.

In any case the rapid rise in consumption characteristic of exporters will halt, at least for the countries like Mexico where oil was a substantial part of their budget.

Small former exporters with other vigorous sectors like China will be less affected, and growth would depend on other factors such as the overall economic situation.

Yep, there are a whole bunch of post peak type effects that come into play to multiply the effective decline rate. Some others to think about:

1) There is a delay built into the system where expectations built into societies systems take a good few years to be broken down. Even if oil supply has peaked, the time taken to adapt IN ITSELF, can be enough to break those key societal systems. That goes double for exporters who become importers, they build up on the basis of a good balance of trade, then get a double hit on the way down from unsustainable systems and loss of earnings.

2) Most people will attempt to maintain their usage through spending more of their savings to maintain their 'position'. Unfortunately that means they have nothing to invest to adjust their system usage (can't afford to move, can buy a smaller car, can't install solar heating). They drive themselves up a one way street, and get stuck.

3) Some will attempt to migrate to leave their failing countries behind. However the rules post peak say people are a liability not an asset - so most likely the shutters will come crashing down, fast on the general decline. Those that get out are the ones with lots of money, further speeding the collapse.

Once the Export Land Country crosses over to the Import side of the house, they come into competition with all other countries fighting for limited available imports.

Excellent point!

Indonesia, of course, has gone from exporter to importer as would be expected from the ELM.

Dubai seems to be concentrating a lot of the Gulf's petro-dollars into one huge spending spree. They have the world's tallest building (designed to be extended if someone tries to outdo them), the world's biggest shopping centre, and an indoor ski slope with real snow. There is a second larger ski slope planned because the first one cannot handle the demand.

Dubai is an energy black hole.

Saudi Arabia has excellent prospects for large scale mining. In particular, if they go ahead with plans to build aluminum smelters, they would have a huge additional domestic energy demand.

The chances that producers are going to limit their own consumption are slim to none - and Slim just left town.

I wonder if the architects in Dubai have heard that the sea level might be rising 4 metres this century.


I think I'd be building a bit further inland.


I saw a program on the manmade islands in Dubai. I think it was Discover or History channel.

They made the islands out of compacted sand!
Wow! Was my thought. I also thought the same as you; did anyone in Dubai plan for sea level rises from global warming? Perspective is hard to judge via a TV, but my estimate is the sand islands were only 10 feet or so above sea level in the center. BIGTIME erosion problems in their future even with a sea level increase of 30 inches. Erosion would snowball dramatically with each increase of sea level above that. 4 meters is one projection by the end of the century...more than enough to submerge the islands. I just cannot imagine spending 10s of billions of dollars on a real estate project that will only last 75 years or so. I'm baffled!

I think the effect of smallish changes in export/import is linear, i.e. the difference in world market price of country A going from exporting 100kbpd to 99,999bpd is going to be very close to the difference from them going from 1bpd to zero, or from zero to importing a single barrel. Of course if they are the very last exporting country, then that wouldn't apply.

Realistically, for most current exporters, their internal consumption, and the increase thereof is powered by their local economy. If oil revenue is a big part of their economy, then as exports -or more precisely exports times inflation adjusted price begins to decrease, then the ability of their own economy to grow will diminish. So in most cases, as exports begin to decline, their internal consumption should be less than WTs simple model would predict. This doesn't mean they won't get to zero (or very small exports), just that if will take a bit longer.

Your mention of the Olympics,PaulusP, made me wonder whether we are now reaching Peak Olympics.
It seems unlikely that by 2012 we will be able or willing to expend the stupendous resources needed to shave a thousandth of a second off records, and therefore some of the present records will stand indefinitely.

some of the present records will stand indefinitely.

Nope. As long as the olympics can exist, there will eventually be some form of genetic 'freak' who will be able to beat a record.

Hello Eric Blair,

I would suggest the 'incentive' in this photo made this 'athlete' expend a greater effort to move 100 meters than Gold Medal Olympian Bolt's world record equivalent dash:


I am sensing a growing anger and paranoia, at least among Americans, that will make it hard to keep the Olympics free of crippling boycotts in the future. I was checking out a report on Huffington Post, a relatively liberal site, on the beanball incidents in the China-US baseball game, and it was like I'd entered a bar in Western Pennsylvania. People were practically clamoring for war with China over five beanballs. Now these people are more aware than most Americans that we don't really have a functioning Army right now thanks to President Junior, yet they wanted to pick fights with every country that disses America in front of a camera regardless of consequences.

I hate to think how much hatred is spreading against both Russia and China this week as Americans must begin to experience the petty humiliations that other lands have had to tolerate as part of the price of an American-dominated corporate economy. Our monopoly on power is over. We will not accept the consequences.

Americans must begin to experience the petty humiliations

The Japanese elite were motivated to commence WWII to overcome "petty humiliations" and regain their rightful status.

Hitler used the petty humiliations of WWI loss and the painful reparation costs as a means to bring the German people on side for WWII.

Another question on which the ecological economists and the mainstream diverge is whether growth has a ceiling, or limit.
The ecological school says yes: Resources are finite, so growth can’t continue for ever.

The mainstream says no: “Technological advance allows us to work with given resources (labor, capital, raw materials) more efficiently,” Law said. “As long as we have technological progress, we can have growth in real per capita incomes.”

I've never understood how efficiency gains can overcome depletion of
finite resources. Efficiency can at the most reach 100%, but some people apparently think you can sustain growth indefinetely.

Your confusion is likely due to the way traditional economists define "efficiency". They think in terms of output per hour worked, since in the old days, labor costs were a large fraction of the cost of production in the industrial system of Western Capitalism. The cost of energy per dollar of output was rather low, except in the few energy intensive industries. These neocon economists are looking back over history, where shortages in wood led to coal and problems with coal led to oil, then to natural gas. These guys usually don't have engineering or geology degrees and aren't likely to think about the realities of the available replacements for cheap oil.

Technology is applied science and there are no easy, cheap alternatives yet available and that's after more than 35 years have passed since the OPEC/Arab Oil Embargo spurred the search for alternatives. The idea that "technological progress" will always arise as shortages develop ignores the present set of scientific facts. Of the many alternatives known to be available, there's no cheap replacement for oil

One of the main reasons for that is the need for energy storage to smooth the difference between supply and demand. In some situations, solar thermal is already cheaper than oil, if the storage side of the computation is left out. The economists have never included the cost of the geological storage of fossil fuels, so the comparison is never going to be "fair and balanced" until they do so. If a scientific breakthrough appears, it is likely to be in the form of a major improvement in storage.

E. Swanson

It's a standard deception: Zeno's Paradox.
Focus on the increasing number of diminishing increments, and pay no attention to the ebbing of the total.

Lose money on every sale but make it up in the volumn.

I've never understood how efficiency gains can overcome depletion of finite resources.

There are different ways to think about "efficiency". The key is to think in terms of ratios, and to realize that the difference between 90% and 95% is in some sense the same as the difference between 10 and 20.

In particular, consider the amount of output that can be created from a fixed quantity of input. If on average that increases every year - even if only by 0.01% - then a constant rate of yearly output can be maintained literally forever on a finite resource base.

For example, if cars use 1% less (non-recycled) steel per year, and 10Mt of steel was used in the first year, then 1,000Mt of steel will be enough to satisfy the demand of car producers until the end of time. The reason for this is that the amount of steel used - 10Mt in year 1 + 9.9Mt in year 2 + 9.801Mt in year 3 + ... is a Geometric Series, and has a finite sum.

If one assumes that in the long run efficiency (output per unit input) will rise faster than demand (size of output) by at least a constant fraction epsilon, then it follows mathematically that the total amount of resources consumed over all time will be finite. Add resource-substitution to pad out the level of the scarcer resources (e.g., use some carbon fibre instead of steel for cars), and I suspect you have a rough approximation of the "technology will overcome" model.

If you'd like to attack it, attack it like you'd do any model - at the assumptions. In particular, the assumption that efficiency (including recycling) can continue to increase over the next century and the assumption that resource substitution can alleviate shortages in any one resource.

If this claim is true, yet another example of Man soiling its own nest.

ACRES U.S.A. Are you familiar with the Mark Purdey theory on bovine spongiform encephalopathy?
ANDERSEN. Which one was that, the one about the cause being organophosphates?
ACRES U.S.A. Yes, rather than the tainted meat being fed back to other animals.
ANDERSEN. Right, that’s the work from England that I mentioned. Yes, I am familiar with his theory.


Return to Mayberry?

The article referred to in the link up top, Peak oil: Mayberry, not Mad Max overlooks several critical points. If the author had only read Thomas Homer-Dixon's "The Upside of Down" he perhaps would have a different slant on the problems of a 50 percent decrease in oil production.

While it is true that oil consumption has increased 850 percent since 1950 while the population has only increased 260 percent, that greatly oversimplifies the problem. And yes, as the author points out we are "-driving, flying, buying, consuming, and discarding more in a month than our grandparents did in a year."

So all we have to do is return to the economy of our grandparents and everything will just be peachy, except for a slightly harder life. Well, not quite. As Homer-Dixon pointed out, all that extra energy has enabled growth! Growth produced more TV's, washers, dryers, refrigerators, computers, cars and thousands of other trinkets which we buy with all that extra cash a growing economy has given us.

A growing population requires a growing economy to employ all those extra people. And mechanized farming produced more and more food every year to feed that growing economy. But the economy had to grow much faster than the population because of urbanization. That is, people pushed off the farm because of the efficiency of modern agriculture moved in droves into the cities. But no problem because growth provided jobs for all of them.

So all we have to do is consume less? Yes, we will consume less, much less of everything. We will consume fewer cars, computers, and everything including vacations and other goods and services. And the millions in the U.S., and billions worldwide, who produce those things and provide those services, will be thrown out of a job. And these unemployed masses will consume almost nothing causing a snowball effect in the unemployment rolls. It will be a worldwide depression of biblical proportions.

While almost never ending growth provided jobs for an ever growing population, never ending shrinkage will just as easily eliminate those jobs.

What will be the consequences of well over half the world's working population being unemployed...and hungry, desperately hungry? I shutter to think about it.

Yet the current wisdom is that we should pander to denial. Don't depress yourself or other people, we're told, with negative and scary messages. But there's one big problem: we're not going to crack through the hard shell of chronic denial by downplaying the dangers we face. Thomas Homer-Dixon, "The Upside of Down".

Ron Patterson


I couldn’t connect to the link but from your response I have a pretty good idea of its weaknesses. I grew up in a Mayberry. You either left in order to make a life for yourself or you waited for the manager at the Dairy Queen to die so you could get his job. I see it as you do: the economy will adjust to PO as it is forced to. Unlike much of the world we’ve focused on a service oriented economy. We’ll still buy those cars, appliances, etc you refer to eventually. But much of consumer spending is discretionary. I think this as our strength and weakness depending on your position in the food chain. We do have a lot of fat in our spending profile: Starbucks, pizza deliveries, IMAX theaters, and the list goes on and on. I also include the expansion of the “bigger house” market as part of this expendable excess. I, like may others, am very fortunate. I can cut my expenditures by 30% and not come close to feeling deprived. But, as you point out, there are 10’s of millions of folks dependent upon those expenditures to feed and house themselves.

But those of us on the greener side of that fence aren’t completely free of the repercussions. As folks slip through the economic cracks they’ll require more and more public assistance. We might ignore that pressing need but at what expense? This can lead to the Mad Max world to which some ascribe but I’m not one of them. My greater concern would be the potential for the government’s reactionary efforts to screw things up for the rest of us. I really don’t worry about roving gangs of spaced out bikers. I do worry about roving gangs of bureaucrats, despite their best intensions, creating an even worse world for the rest of us. So far, as I view the gov’t response (as well as lack of response in some cases) to economic difficulties these last few years, I think my concern is warranted.

This can lead to the Mad Max world to which some ascribe but I’m not one of them. My greater concern would be the potential for the government’s reactionary efforts to screw things up for the rest of us. I really don’t worry about roving gangs of spaced out bikers. I do worry about roving gangs of bureaucrats, despite their best intensions, creating an even worse world for the rest of us.

With all due respect Rockman, I don't think you see the big picture. Your post leads me to believe that you see the economy, and the bureaucracy, getting very bad but then settling out at this one "bad" level. Then we will have to deal with this bureaucratic mess from now on. God could we ever be so lucky? There will be no "bad plateau". In fact there will be no plateau at all, just a gradual worsening of things as each year passes.

To get a better picture of things imagine oil production dropping....forever! And in a few years all exporting countries completely stop exporting any oil and natural gas. Then hoarding of coal begins. The lessons learned on oil will not be forgotten when it comes to coal. All coal exporting countries stop exporting coal. Countries with virtually no fossil fuels at all, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and many others, will either go to war or watch 95% if their population die.

Globalization ends and the world experiences dozens of resource wars. And all the while the world's cache of fossil fuels get a little lower each year.

But I don't see a Mad Max scenario either. There will be no fuel for those hot rods or bikes.

Ron Patterson

You are also missing a few big pieces of the big picture. National governments are just one player in the global power game, often not even the major power on their own turf. You are describing a future where national governments reign supreme (coal exports cease)-maybe. There are a lot of very powerful persons working against this vision. The USA had a stranglehold on the global economy 40 years ago and gave it away because giving it away was a far better deal for a lot of powerful interests-maybe this will reverse like you predict-I wouldn't hold my breath.

The USA had a stranglehold on the global economy 40 years ago and gave it away...

I think this is a common view that I'd attribute to our inability to stop looking at the world through the goggles of the nation state. In actuality, the same group of people who had a strangle hold on the global economy back then, still have it today. However, that "economy" is much bigger now - geographically it now really is global and thus not as centered in the U.S - and in size of population and wealth and thereby the membership in that controlling group has expanded.

You are spot on about national governments - they are but one tool that that controlling class uses to control.

The parasite has outgrown its "host body"?

But I don't see a Mad Max scenario either. Darwinian

The references to Mad Max Scenarios have become a cultural adjective. In homage to the creator George Miller it would be useful to explore this groundbreaking trilogy (with the 4th installment Mad Max 4: Fury Road in pre-production).

George Miller is an Australian Film screenwriter/director/producer born 3/3/1945. His Mad Max films made Mel Gibson an international star and put Australian films on the map. His conceptions of Mad Max occurred to him during the time he was working as a medical doctor in an emergency room seeing first hand horrendous injuries and deaths from gunshots and car accidents. Later he met an amateur filmmaker, Byron Kennedy, and they produced a film titled: Violence In the Cinema which was critically acclaimed.

They collaborated on the the first film Mad Max. This film depicts future Australia as a bleak, dystopian and impoverished society that is facing a breakdown of civil order primarily due to widespread oil shortages. The cause of the shortage and societal breakdown are blamed on a nebulous "nuclear holocaust".

In the second film Mad Max II: The Road Warrior Kennedy is producer leaving Miller the writing and directing chores. This film fills the holes from the first Mad Max film by explaining the collapse of society due to oil depletion (early Peak Oiler?) through a lengthy narration at the start of the film:

My life fades, the vision dims, all that remains are memories. I remember a time of Chaos, ruined dreams, this wasted land…but most of all I remember the Road Warrior. The man we call Max. To understand who he was you have to go back another time when the world was powered by the black fuel and the deserts sprouted great cities of pipe and steel…gone now swept away…For reasons long forgotten two mighty warrior tribes went to war and touched off a blaze which engulfed them all. Without fuel they were nothing. They had built a house of straw. The thundering machine sputtered and stopped. Their leaders talked and talked and talked but nothing could stem the avalanche. Their world crumbled, the cities exploded, a world-wind of looting, a firestorm of fear. Men began to feed on men. On the roads it was a white-line nightmare. Only those mobile enough to scavenge, brutal enough to pillage would survive. The gangs took over the highways ready to wage war for a tank of juice.

And then from the decay ordinary men were battered and smashed. Men like Max, the warrior Max, who in the roar of an engine had lost everything and became a shell of a man…a burnt out desolate man… a man haunted by the demons in his past…a man who wandered out into the wasteland. And it was here in this blighted place that he learned to live again.

In the 3rd installmentMad Max Beyond Thunderdome Miller picks up the travails of Max in the desert driving a camel-powered truck. After his truck is stolen he stumbles into a human settlement known as Bartertown:

Bartertown is the only nearby human outpost in the wasteland that remains — the seedy community of Bartertown, founded and nominally run by the ruthless Aunty Entity (Tina Turner).

In Bartertown, electricity, vehicles, functioning technology — all almost unheard of in this post-apocalyptic world — are made possible by a crude methane refinery, fueled by pig feces.

In the 3rd act it shifts gears having Max leading the lost children (Moses leading the Israelites) to the promised land but never actually arriving himself, left to an uncertain future wandering in the desert. The movie provides additional backstory to the first two installments (Mad Max I & II)showing a Nuclear War following the Energy Crisis>

Currently Mad Max fans (myself included) look forward to Miller's return to roots in the upcoming fourth installment Mad Max: Road Fury leaving the family fare of Happy Feet in the con-trails of dystopian splendor.


I really think that the Mad Max series was just an excsue for Australians to indulge in their favorite fetishes - namely having bad teeth, cackling, destroying the last remnants of culture in order to poke the old country in the eye by being as different as possible, being 'manly' and sweating a lot. Into leather trousers.
Just my 2c.

I don't see any of these things as being an unreasonable response to the collapse of Anglo-American petrocivilization. Also a lot more fun than reading Kunstler.

orbit500 "I really think that the Mad Max series was just an excsue for Australians to indulge in their favorite fetishes - namely having bad teeth, cackling, destroying the last remnants of culture in order to poke the old country in the eye by being as different as possible, being 'manly' and sweating a lot. Into leather trousers."

Interesting fact: Mel Gibson went to a drinking bash the night before the Mad Max audition and he got in a violent brawl which left him swollen, bruised and purple. He thought he's never get the part so 3 weeks later he was surprised when he was asked to come back for another reading. When he got there his wounds were almost completely healed and George Miller hardly recognized him.

Well I guess Mel passed the audition in spite of that.

Also Mel was the only actor in the film who wore real leather trousers the rest wearing vinyl. That sounds a tad kinky but the truth is they had very little money so they could only afford Mel's leathers. Also they could only afford a couple of police cars so they would have to shoot the same police car over and over to give the illusion that they had a lot of them.

Globalization ends and the world experiences dozens of resource wars. And all the while the world's cache of fossil fuels get a little lower each year.

Interesting note. Everytime Globalization comes to an end, there is a major war. If you look back even into ancient times, everytime nations stop trading with each other, they go to war. The last two times Globalization falled resulted in WW1 and WW2. Can Civilization survive another collapse of globalization?

Actually Ron, after 33 years working in the oil patch I think I have a pretty good view of the big picture. In the oil patch we’ve been working with and adjusting to PO for over 20 years. Most of my efforts during the 90’s focused specifically on that actuality. And, no, I don't see things settling out to some bad level over the long term. The plateau I envision is that relative stable period (5 to 15 years) before we begin that long continuous slide you refer to. I just didn’t carry my tale out to this point in time. Like you I see a continuous slide with various rate changes along the way. I see the potential bureaucratic intervention as just one possible acceleration point. With regards to the exporters limiting production to maximize reserve life/revenue stream I feel we're getting very close (a couple of years...maybe a few more) to that point now. In fact, if Mexico had the political will, a good point could be made for them cutting back Cantarell right now. If they did, it would be very interesting to see if the KSA upped production to claim that market share or if they would just ride the wave while keeping an eye out for too much demand destruction. I also see coal as the next battle ground. Last time I saw the stat China was cranking up a new coal fired plant every two weeks (as well as killing 10 Chinese coal miners a week). I don't think it will be much more than a decade or two before a good bit of the world says to hell with global warming and starts cranking up coal utilization. And I suspect England may well be in that pack.

And when I refer to the bureaucratic reactionary efforts I also include military conflict under that somewhat benign phrase. Just one more step change in the long downward slope.

I think one of the big things the article misses is the role of debt. It we had just spent what we had, and no more, we would be close to all right now. If we had spent less than what we had, and put away some for a rainy day, we would be a little better off.

Our problem is that we have gotten ourselves into debt up to our ears, and beyond. If growth had continued, we might have had a chance of paying it off. As it is, that won't possibility happen, so we have a financial crisis besides all of our other problems. It is likely to make it virtually impossible to finance all kinds of new construction in things that might save energy. We will have to get out from the old debt and start using cash flow to finance new investments.

There is also the question of how the debt was used. One of the better descriptions of debt I have read is that it is neither good nor bad, but it acts as an accelerant--it gets you wherever you are going at a faster rate.

If we had borrowed money for things like nuclear power plants, electrification of transportation, wind power, etc.--rather than what JHK calls "The biggest misallocation of resources in history of the world"--we would be in a lot better shape. Instead "we" borrowed money to finance a consumption fiesta. Of course, some of us--having experienced oil patch deflation in the Eighties--sat out the party, which doesn't mean we won't get stuck with the bill (e.g. Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac).

Interesting comment.

A commmon answer to the energy crisis has been the substitution argument.
Substitution requires financing, and I think you are right about the debt crisis amplifying the situation.

"The Upside of Down" was one of the best books I've read (and I've read quite a few about resource depletion, collapse, overshoot, etc.). It was an enormous flop in the US. Chronic denial, indeed.

I have the perfect answer Ron.
Electrify the railways, quadruple the tracks, extend them everywhere. More urban rail.
Don't concern yourself with who is going to use them or pay for construction and ongoing costs.
We need to visit grandma and go to Disneyland.
Build the railways, electrify everything so we can continue BAU.

Straw man.


From the article above...

"Those are the statistics of the 1950s--"

How many times do we have go through this childishly naive, superficial, nonsensical scenario? How about exploring this stupidity a little deeper...

In the 1950s, what was the US population ? The world population?

In the 1950s, how much competition did the West have for oil, gas, metals, food etc, from China, India and the rest of the developing world in the 1950s?

In the 1950s, how much of our oil, gas and other resources came from WITHIN the US borders?

In the 1950s, did the the US have a strong, gold-based currency - were wethe Lender of Last resort? And now is our currency fiat paper going into it's hyperinflationary death spiral as the Fed's printers run overtime trying to save failing banks?

Mayberry vs Mad Max

US population

1950 150,520,798
2008 304,914,562

What shall we do with the 154,393,764 extra people? 103% increase in 58 years.

World Population

1950 2,555,982,611
2008 6,688,888,440

What shall we do with the 4,132,905,829 extra people? 262% increase in 58 years.

What will be US and World population in 2030 without petroleum?

What will be US and World population in 2030 without petroleum?

It will be higher. Matthew Simmons thinks we are at Peak Oil. Matthew Simmons doesn't say a peap about population growth. T. Boone Pickens thinks we are at Peak Oil. T. Boone Pickens doesn't say a peep about population growth. With all the slide rule maneuvers that take place on this site - very little number crunching is done with population figures. It's all about finding out how to survive with less fossil fuels - and more people. The Emperor's New Clothes doesn't seem so silly in the world of Peak Oil discussion.

I would have thought Kunstler was in the "silent on population growth" crowd too, since he seems to talk endlessly on only one subject - suburbia - but doing a google search I was pleased to find this from him:

"A fourth event / story, related to the preceding, is the runaway population growth in precisely those nations that are already suffering horribly from poverty, disease, and ecological devastation, and social breakdown. In the United States, both ends of the political spectrum have recklessly ignored the issue of overpopulation -- the right wing with its anti-birth-control propaganda, and the left with its kindergarten gestalt therapy celebration of "multiculturalism." Putting aside the obvious current catastrophes of Africa and the potential ones of Asia, we face serious problems close to home.
The fact is that the Southwest United States is becoming culturally an outpost of Mexico. Read Robert Kaplan's "An Empire Wilderness.") Americans are very conflicted about controlling our borders. (And even more conflicted about dealing with immigrants who crossed the border illegally.) My guess is that we'll continue to fudge it until Texas, California, Arizona, and New Mexico become demographically and culturally Mexican, with all the political ramifications implied. By the way, this should not be taken as a racialist view, but simply a reflection of how things really stand. And keep in mind it's not ordained by God that the United States maintain its present shape in perpetuity anymore than Dynastic Egypt or the Holy Roman Empire of Frederick Barbarossa maintained their boundaries forever. "

"Sea levels could rise 4m this century: climate expert."

Something missed in nearly all articles regarding global warming, is a phenomenon known as 'thermal inertia'. As more heat energy is trapped in the atmosphere due to increases in greenhouse gasses, it penetrates the oceans, a process which takes 30-40 years. Since the oceans contain a 1,000 times more energy affecting worldwide weather than the atmosphere, as that inertia progresses the world will continue to heat up. Meaning, we could stop emmitting greenhouse gasses today, yet we would experience a rise in worldwide temperatures for 30-40 more years.

Once you let that understanding sink in, it's easy to realize we've cooked our goose. Deperate situations require desperate action. The only way I can see to avert major tipping points, is the geo-engineering idea to place a shield between the Sun and the Earth at the LaGrange (gravitational midpoint) to reduce energy reaching Earth by whatever fraction is needed to compensate for the trillions of tons of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Do it soon, or live with the consequences.

Another way to do it would be to inject aerosol particles in the upper atmosphere thus cooling the Earth. Adopting high-sulfur content jet fuel would be one way to achieve that.

IMO placing an enormous shade in space would be prohibitively expensive. Either way I'm not sure that we wouldn't cause bigger harm by using technofixes. I'm quite concerned of the unintended consequences any of them might have.

Global Acid Rain.

I was sure there must be something to it. It could work if we use ordinary dust though, emulating volcano eruptions.

Note I am *NOT* advocating any of these "technofixes", just trying to list and evaluate all the options. To all those that automatically denounce any "technofix" - let's try to get real for a moment. The human species will not stop burning FFs, at least not until we run out of them or until we find something better (not very likely IMO).

In this situation maybe we should be prepared with some plan "B" in case things get really desperate.

I can imagine a future in which we're forced to take extreme steps to mitigate warming. Once the CO2 is in the air, we won't have any other options, except to wait a few centuries for it to come down on its own. However, any global mitigation will have undesired consequences, some predictable (like acid rain & ocean acidification), some unpredictable. Global ecosystems will already be stressed by climate change. Even a small undesirable side effect to such mitigation steps could make a bad situation even worse.

IMO, these are desperate measures that should only be taken if we are truly desperate. It will be far better to not put the carbon in the atmosphere in the first place. Given that, of course I see geo-engineering in our future.

"(like acid rain & ocean acidification)"

I.e., global ecosystem collapse. Geo-engineering is a crazy idea. For a tiny, tiny fraction of the cost, in dollars and ecosystem threat, we can figure out how to move away from burning FF.


Madness indeed. However, I will lay good odds that we're going to do it eventually, madness or not.

One thing is: who's we? suppose Splatvia (to avoid real countries) wants to tackle things that way, but Plotvia doesn't it done what happens? We haven't done well with even relatively painless things like Kyoto treaty. Does Plotvia get labeled a rogue state and beaten into submission?

Yeah, but having trashed the earth's surface and atmosphere, where else is left for us to mess up but near-earth orbit?

Plan B is to simply move back from the coast. The technofixes represent an apex in hubris. We have no idea how to intentionally engineer the global climate to mitigate against greenhouse gas climate warming.

The notion of dumping stuff into the upper atmosphere is insanity.

Rather than rearrange our lifestyle, we talk about orbiting solar shields, dumping stuff into the atmosphere, iron in the oceans to induce plankton blooms, etc.


That's kind of short-sighted. It's very likely that rising sea-levels will be the least of the problems we are going to face. It is no certain at all what will be the impact of climate change on the ecosystem, on the agriculture and food availability, on the ecologic diversity loss, deforestation, desertification etc... And this doesn't even go into the various tipping point scenarios like an ice age caused by the shutdown of the thermohaline circulation.

Overall it is a risk management task - we don't really know what the effects will be, because the system is so interdependent, but there is a great probability the impact will be huge and adverse.

I have a hunch that rising sea levels plus a few well-placed storm surges will take care of removing populations from low-lying coastal areas.

It could work if we use ordinary dust though, emulating volcano eruptions.

Volcanic eruptions work on climate primarily through the injection of SO2 into the upper atmosphere. The dust doesn't stay in the atmosphere long enough to cause much cooling. So we are back to emulating high sulfur content volcanic eruptions.

The amount of sulfur actually needed isn't that high, only a few percent of what we currently pollute the lower atmosphere with. The stuff we put into the lower atmosphere via everyday pollution gets rained out fairly quickly, so it has mainly regional climate effects. In theory we could cut overall sulfur emissions, but make sure we put them high up in the atmosphere. That would actually decrease acid rain. But the effect doesn't exactly cancel out the greenhouse cooling, in some regions it would overcompensate, and in others undercompensate. But overall the climate with CO2 plus geoengineering would be more similar to what we have today, that CO2 without geoengineering. Of course the temptation to say, we can always use geoengineering, lets burn all the fossil fuels, is a real danger.

It sounds to me that both these solutions would push the solar constant down and wreck the profit margin on solar power.

Sure, let's carve an even bigger stone head!
This techno-arrogance has to end somewhere, hopefully before the environment is utterly shattered by our global-scale experiments.
Why don't we do what our ancestors did in the face of rising sea levels, and (immediately) start migrating away from the coasts?

Sure, let's carve an even bigger stone head!


Last week I gave a Peak Oil presentation to a small group (mostly retirees with nothing else to do)and after the presentation I met a lady who was not only Peak Oil aware but had been walking the walk for a long time (over 20 years). She gardens, produces most of her own food, bikes and lives a life with a very small carbon footprint. I was really caught up with her unbridled enthusiasm. I mentioned population overshoot and she completely disagreed with any notion of die-off. She said there is plenty of resources for everyone and there doesn't need to be any die-off. I listened patiently and emotionally I wanted to believe her.

Finally I asked her: What do you see as the biggest challenge to this new paradigm?

She frowned as she thought about this and replied: "Greed!"

I then remembered a Jared Diamond story about Indonesians who trap monkeys with a very easy trap. They take a box with an opening just big enough for the monkey to get his hand in to grab the bait but once they grab the bait they cannot remove their hand. Even though they could release the bait and easily escape their "nature" prevents it and they are easily caught.

That's the end-game. We (homo-sapiens) have our hand on the prize (fossil fuels) and our nature (greed) will not allow us to escape even though intellectually we can easily see our predicament.

You would think with all of the attention given to energy and climate change that everyone would be looking for answers. For the most part I'm not even encountering denial. Instead what I see is a rampant cluelessness! As a result I have given up any pretense of saving the world. Now I'm just looking for lifeboats and those willing to get into them.


In the end, we will do whatever "economically" for us.
For now, it's still somewhat economically for most of us living peacefully together and respecting others' needs. But it wasn't that long ago that the best mean for some was to rape and plunder nearby towns and villages. Your old friend live in a good part of time -- compared to thousand of generations before her. But that can't be said of our children's children.

The scary thing is not PO -- but what after that?

On the Oilwatch Monthly thread the topic of growth came up...and Dr Al Bartlett was mentioned as someone to listen to on this topic. I had heard about him, seen the website..but never watched his video. Did today. Hoo boy! If you could have your elderly lady friend do the same ... well


This is one of the best lectures for population, peak oil, or energy depletion. I strongly recommend it's viewing for all.

Back when TOD allowed taglines for posters, one had Barlett's quote and often linked it. I don't it see it here much anymore.

From the Nothing New Under the Sun dept:

"We should get as many holes drilled as possible to get the proven reserve"

William Simon, Aug, 1977
Energy adviser to President Ford

My tag line used to be "The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." - Dr. Albert Bartlett

I believe a few others used it as well.

Bleh. There will always be doomers among us. Not that many decades ago there were respected scientists who said we couldn't launch a rocket into space because the amount of fuel required would weigh too much. They published all sorts of silly equations "proving" their theory. I tend to be a doomer actually, but after Y2K I'm reluctant to jump all the way onto the bandwagon.

When I go visit my friends family out in Alvin, just outside of south Houston, I marvel at how they've built a mini-Thailand/Cambodia in the country. They don't depend much on petrochemicals to do what they do, but they manage to supply stores in Houston (and wholesalers from far away) with a lot of asian vegetables. They are remarkably efficient at growing vegetables and make quite good money doing it. Yes, society will change, but as someone said long ago.. change is the only constant.

1. The math on the rocket boosters was based on single-stage-to-orbit. That's why we had to come up with disposable multi-stage rockets - actually, Tsiolkovsky figured that out 100 years ago. Which are great for one-shot propaganda extravaganzas, but they've become a barrier to the goal of airline-like space travel.

2. If the gardeners are growing anything south of Houston, they may not depend on petrochemicals, but I bet the petrochemical industry left behind some juicy toxins in the soil. We may have to live without technology, yet be burdened by the cost of past technology.

Not that many decades ago there were respected scientists who said we couldn't launch a rocket into space because the amount of fuel required would weigh too much.

Name one.

That one changed my perspective permanently...everyone should view it. It's awesome, for us non-math or physics people.

It is a lot easier to let go of the really big, tempting things when your really have to - when your life depends upon it - if you have practiced the discipline of intentionally letting go of lesser things even when you don't really have to. Just like so many things, there is value in training.

WNC Observer

It is a lot easier to let go of the really big, tempting things when your really have to - when your life depends upon it - if you have practiced the discipline of intentionally letting go of lesser things even when you don't really have to. Just like so many things, there is value in training.

Nice! My wife is a practicing Buddhist so I really appreciate those words. Thank-you

If 98% of the world becomes vegetarian, we could easily support 12 billion. She isn't far off. Greed is the enemy.

If 98% of the world becomes vegetarian, we could easily support 12 billion

Sounds like a good argument against being a vegetarian.

Anything but face the real problem.

I wonder if he's from the same school of thought that said we would have no arctic ice this summer... and lo and behold the arctic ice grew. Then there is the evidence that all the planets in the solar system are heating up. Global warming may be nothing more than a natural cycle. Watch out the carbon police are coming...

How much blood is on your hands if you're wrong, versus how much blood is on my hands if I'm wrong? Oh wait, the blood would be on the invisible hand of the marketplace. Which is infallible.

Your vocabulary study for the week, student:

Seasonal variability


Grew (Hint: the season isn't over and both the Antarctic and Arctic are below the baseline, i.e. adding to the downward trend.)

Intentional stupidity turns my stomach.


Intentional stupidity turns my stomach.

Then your entire life must be one giant Pepto-Bismal moment.

The concept of Global Warming (not the new and improved label: Climate Change)is no more controversial than saying you'll be warmer if you put on a sweater.

The concept of denial however is much harder to fathom.

I rather doubt that any educated citizen, as well as the Al Gores of the world, will not accept in the solitude of their minds that there is a finite limit to what this planet can carry - a function of basic population dynamics and biology.

Last summer I took my wife on a day trip to the mountains to get some "fresh air" and get out of the city. I took her to Palomar Mountain. I needn't have bothered trying to escape. Everyone was there particularly thousands of "freedom" riders on their Harleys with their machines announcing their relentless "freedom" echoing off of the canyons. There was a bluish haze draping everything smelling like Napalm. When I finally got to an area that was quiet and away from it all I was sitting on a rock trying to soak in some peace and solitude and some techno-a-hole shows up with a short-wave radio. As I was leaving I looked closely at the trees in the forests and I said to my wife that the entire area looks like tinder. A week later the fires started and most of the areas around there burned. The news stories covered the grief of families fleeing burning subdivisions and the endless "human tragedies". Nobody gave two lines to the notion that perhaps we should restrict development in these fragile areas and learn how to steward correctly.

We can Yak night and day about whether Peak Oil is here or not with complex graphs extrapolating oil depletion until your eyes roll into the back of your head and it won't make a bit of difference. Look at the landscapes and see how fragile things are. The tragedy of the commons is here right now and you don't need a slide rule to measure it.

We'll run out of air to breathe long before we run out of fuel to burn...Rant Off!

Joe, could you give us the source of your above blockquote? It looks interesting and I would like to read the whole article. I did a "Find" on clips from the article and came up with nothing? Googling on it gave me nothing also.

Ron Patterson

Ron - Here is the link. http://www.trinidadexpress.com/index.pl/article_opinion?id=161365585

Leanan had posted it this morning: Tragedy of the Global Commons


Leave the rant on, Joe. I thought it quite to the point.

I think concentrating on peak oil or global warming in and of themselves typifies our modern cultural take on "problems." Its akin to concentrating on the sneeze or the cough. They are symptoms of a failed way of life. We aren't going to get anywhere until we start addressing that underlying issue - our worship of economic growth and materialism.

Nearly everybody is materialistic, just to different extents. I remember sitting in a macroeconomics course and my professor was trying to make a point and I couldn't help but blurt out, "Bulls@#$!" Maybe not the wisest thing to do, but I don't buy into absolutely free markets or pure capitalism.

Every system has it's weaknesses, but we're not just going to cast aside thousands of years of human culture and genetic predispositions. We have to find some kind of balance. People will adjust to the circumstances of the world in which they live or natural selection will take it's course.

Nearly everybody is materialistic. Or, at least, you could create a scale of materialism with obsessive upper middle class Americans at one end and Buddhist monks at the other end and argue that everyone is on that scale somewhere.

What marks the modern global capitalist milieu is that the one extreme is held up as the quintessential definition and purpose of life. We view the multi-million dollar salaried CEO as a cultural hero - at the same time that our envy decries his (yes, almost always a he) "excess" - yet that same CEO hasn't seen is children in a week, treats his wife as a trophy to be paraded around at social gathering, and wouldn't think twice about eliminating the livelihood of 1000s to make sure that his salary (and bonus!) is secure.

This is not a situation typical of human culture. It is a relatively recent aberration.

Last weekend it was over 100 in the Willamette valley so I took my family camping on the upper McKinsey river.

Late afternoon sitting on the bank a warm breeze coming up the river, around sunset the breeze stopped then a big gust of warm air came up the river really stirring things up for a minute then died completely.

A few minutes later a cool breeze came rushing down the the river stirring things up again then dead calm.

All this took place in such a short time it gave us the impression of a great inhale and exhale leaving us feeling calm and close to nature. Resting in the bosom as it were.

A truly physical experience.

All in all a much needed break from the so called “real world”.


I have a friend who is so enamored of the McKenzie River that he named his daughter after it!
Uh, McKenzie, not River.

I had a very similiar experience this weekend as I retreated to the banks of the Salmon River on Mt Hood to escape the heat. The valley forms a wind tunnel there and the winds direction oscillated throughout the day. It was like nature's A/C, becoming instantly 15F cooler as you descended the small embankment to the rivers edge.

You have some good points, we definitely should be better stewards of the planet. If we fail miserably enough, then humanity will have forfeited their "right" to survive. But regarding fires, that is part of nature's cycle of birth and death. It is entirely natural. There are and there always will be natural events which we must contend with wherever we decide to live.

There is a certain psychological profile that is more prone to the doomerish outlook on life and you will find plenty of that here on TOD. Scary headlines and predictions tend to get a lot more attention than positive ones. I'm not saying there aren't serious problems. I'm just saying that serious problems are natural and a part of life, rather than proof of certain doom.

Too many people, with too many energy slaves at their command....

In the article on Russian Oil there are some oil statistics


The Russians say (in mbpd) :

2007                                2008
total liquids   exports   total liquids   exports
11.4                5.2           11.3                4.9

production is down 0.5% but exports are down 5.2% ... on the face of it ELM in action from the #2 exporter. But are they talking aples to apples or apples to oranges?

and yet the EIA estimates :

total-liquids   exports>
9.87                 7.02  

This is what I mean when I say the EIA data is poor - can anybody explain the ~35% discrepancy in exports?

The definitions are a little slippery. We have gross and net crude and product exports, and then combined crude & product exports, gross & net. I think the 5% year over year decline number refers to gross Russian crude oil exports. The EIA net export number refers to net petroleum (crude + product) exports for 2007.

The definitions are a little slippery

That's an understatement! They're deliberately so IMO!

But I agree the Russian -5.2% figure is likely the 'crude' exports and that is what I use - it doesn't paint a pretty picture!

So, you are saying the Russians are comparing apples to oranges and the EIA use pineapples and grapefruits?

The EIA 2007 figure of 9.87 mbpd is for everything including the kitchen sink! ... so what is included in the Russian total figure to make it ~+11.5% in error - this is a big producer and the EIA/IEA figures are out by large margins (for other nations too, including KSA!)

Using the data supplied by the Net Oil Exports blog, which uses data supplied by the EIA, Russian exports averaged 7,156 kb/d, January thru July of 2007 and for the same period this year they have averaged 6,993 kb/d. That is a drop of only 2.28 percent year over year.

I don't really understand what is going on here. Can we believe anything coming from the EIA these days?

Can we believe anything coming from the EIA these days?

I think there are good reasons for Governments and their data providers to be 'economical with the truth'.

The OECD way of life simply must have economic growth ... so, all the Governments will do their utmost to continue that growth until, inevitably, it won't.

A coherent data-set hinting that further world economic growth is not possible and that all we can expect is contraction isn't welcomed by anybody in power ... if we don't/can't make one nobody knows the real facts ... party on ... buy stuff!

Our President would lose his job -- w/out a doubt he is the biggest global salesmen we have. Every time, he (or Sec of State for that matter) goes aboard, he always ask others to buy more of our American-made stuffs and asks them let us have any material-resources they might have. "Want 10 jet fighters? how about a few tanks or a gunship? Oh -- by the way, we want that oil."

There are a lot of advantages in burning all that oil. You need energy to make junks. Everything can go to hell but the machine must not stop.

Is there inventory / commercial stocks data available for Russia's crude oil that is even semi-reliable?

Think you have miscalculated something. The russian source says:

Rosstat reported on Monday that oil output in Russia declined 0.8% year-on-year in January-July to 283 million metric tons (2.07 bln bbls).

From Jan to July there are 7 months and precisely 212 days.
2,070 / 212 = 9.76 mln.bbd

This number is in sync with EIA estimate - and represents a 1% decline from the 2007 average for the whole year. Russian source says 0.8% measured towards the same period (Jan-Jul).

Yes, you are correct for that, my mistake - everything else is for 6 months except crude which looks like it might be over seven months. Thanks for checking my math, the Russian crude figure not matching EIA didn't make sense. But the production is in decline which isn't good news.

I was fooled by the headline 'Russia's oil exports decline 5.2% to 897 mln bbls in 1H08' and assumed the whole thing was for 6 months.

So, it looks like The Russian figure for C+C exports is correct (not the EIA 2 mbpd day more which is 'all liquids' exports) and is indeed big time ELM.

off topic,petrobas gave their july production # out today,liquids were flat with june and up slightly from july/07.in megaprojects they should have brought on almost 500,000bld production are their depletion rates that high or is the roncador field having problems?

Do you have a link for that please?

their roncador projected production is said to ramp up to 360,000bld,which is the bulk of late 07 early 08 production,as per wiki mega projects.i noticed a story this morning on bloomberg an oil analyst mentioned it looks like they(petrobras)will not reach their 08 crude oil brazil only goal of 1.95mbd.

Tuned in KPOJ, Portland's commercial lefty talk radio station, in the hopes of hearing some local news, and was altogether startled to hear an API Ad advocating the need to build domestic energy supplies - including, natch, more offshore drilling. This, of course, runs completely counter to the message of the DJs themselves. It'd be like the Savage Nation running an ad for the Folsom Street Fair. The station must be hard up - or has abandoned its principles - or the API is throwing around some serious bucks.

It's the "Times Are Changing" ad on the API page.

Let's hope it's an exercise in irony by the KPOJ producers who trust the intelligence of their audience.
OTOH, I cut off support for KQED in San Francisco right after they started running ads from Lockheed Martin.

"Four-legs good. Two legs better. Baaaahhh!" The Sheep. George Orwell, Animal Farm

The order was given to turn cows to whoppers
Enforced by the might of ten thousand coppers
But on the horizon surrounding the shoppers

...Came the deafening roar of chickens. in choppers

We will fight for bovine freedom
And hold our large heads high
We will run free with the Buffalo, or die

Cows with guns

-- Lyons Brothers Music

From the story above, "Oil falls as storm threat eases",

Oil prices briefly dropped below $112 a barrel Tuesday...

Oil is up over $115 now. If the hypothesis is correct that a pre-Olympic reduction in Chinese demand was behind the drop in industrial commodities (including & especially oil), then one would expect oil to find a bottom shortly after the drop was in place. In other words, such a drop would be a step down to a new stable level, not an ongoing decline.

Yesterday was the first day that oil closed (barely) below $113. It has been bouncing off that level for a week or so. I think if today's rally holds & oil closes above $113 again, I might be prepared to call a temporary bottom in oil prices (while also being prepared to look like an idiot when they keep declining). Oil could decline a bit if the dollar resumes it's rally, but I don't think that changes the basic idea that supply & demand may have come into a new balance at current prices. My guess is prices will head up from here, but probably not till soem time in September. It will be interesting to see what effect tomorrow's inventory report has on prices.

We're probably looking at a September-November timeframe for a big jump if there is an "Olympic effect". I, for one, am sure there is an effect due to the Olympics. I talk with a lot of people in China and know about the shortages that exist. Global recession or depression is the only likely thing I see that could keep demand down. The effects of the financial crisis will probably need another year or year and a half (at least) to manifest. I think next year will make this year look like good times by comparison.

Here's our government's response to mounting domestic problems:

NYPD's "Operation Sentinel" Will Photograph Every Car Coming to Manhattan

"Operation Sentinel,"is the plan to photograph every single car coming into NYC. The NY Times reports that the goal is to "strengthen the city’s guard against a potential terror attack." Vehicles would be photographed, license plates scanned, and checked for radioactivity.



If this is referring to the same system I read about a couple of months back it’s more than just photographs. I read they were going to install in NYC the same system that’s been running in London for quit a while. Their camera system can record license plat numbers in the dark and heavy fog. More importantly, the location and timing of the license plat is stored indefinitely in the system. Some time ago there was a bombing in London. After ID’ing one of the suspects they used the computer to track his movements (his car movements actually) around London for over a year by just keying in his license plat number. I believe they have over 60 such cameras in London. This led to certain address and other autos they subsequently tracked historically. In the end, they quickly ID’d the members of the cell and their locations. I think it was just a mater of a few days for them to make all the arrest. For good or bad, this is something of the Ultimate Big Brother being able to backtrack anyone’s vehicle movements by just typing in your license plate number. Literally it takes less than a second for the computer to ID every camera intersect a particular license plate has made over an indefinite time period. You rob a bank and the computer can ID every time your license plate passed one of the cameras.

Ah yes, the genius of government.

Salon had an article by an airline pilot trying to bring a butter knife onto his own plane - exactly the same kind of knife handed out by the airline to first class passengers. I presume they were worried that he was going to attack himself.

Ask the Pilot

There are those moments in life when time stands still and the air around you seems to solidify. You stand there in an amber of absurdity, waiting for the crowd to burst out laughing and the "Candid Camera" guy to appear from around the corner.

Now, do I really need to point out that an airline pilot at the controls would hardly need a butter knife if he or she desired to inflict damage? ... the idea of seizing a piece of standard airline cutlery from a uniformed pilot is lunacy.

On the subject of government inefficiency, a friend of mine used to say:

Aren't you glad that you don't get all the government that you pay for?

Peak Government might do us in before Peak Oil ever gets a chance.

From an oil platform, McCain touts drilling agenda

Filed at 3:14 p.m. ET

ABOARD THE CHEVRON GENESIS (AP) -- Republican presidential candidate John McCain visited this oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday to call for increased offshore drilling that he claims would lower the cost of food and heating homes.

McCain traveled 130 miles by helicopter to tour the massive facility, which produces 10,000 gallons of oil each day. He criticized his Democratic rival, Barack Obama, for not supporting such a plan.


lol that rig only produces 238 barrels of oil per day...

Wow, one platform yields 238 barrels per day.
US imports 10 million barrels per day. So, with a mere 42,000 new platforms like Genesis, we could be energy independent! Hooray! Drill here, there, there, and there, and over there, and there, and there (etc.) now!

Note, if that's a NYTypo, then maybe we only need 1,000 new platforms. Whew.

Note also that the Genesis oil and gas platform is on site developed following a 1988 exploration drilling:

The offshore ban did not apply to this site.

An American Cultural Revolution, through which we change fundamentally both our distorted worldview and our dysfunctional resource utilization behavior, is our only sane choice…Energy Bulletin

While drawing a black vision for the future this author at the same time takes a clean punch at the jaw of most of the supposed enlightened (self included) individuals here on The Oil Drum. Example: I read brilliant and important analysis of energy and resource depletion, sustainable societies, climate change etc on the oildrum... and in the next sentence I'll hear the author suggesting how we can reform the current system: Switch to electric/hybrid vehicles, reduce our meat consumption, install solar power, use video-conferencing and in the meantime learn how to hyper-mile while we're waiting for these nifty solutions to take hold. Where is the Revolution in that? If the models of runaway climate change and environmental degradation hold any credence (I think they do)then the above prescription is one of the few to make any sense. It will also fail to get a rise because we are addicted to Capraesque happy endings. If I heard a politician talking like that I don't even think I'd vote for him.

Speaking of politicians I heard the hot-button issue presented to our illustrious candidates (Obama/McCain) yesterday: When does life (human) begin? Has it occurred to more than a crazy fringe that human overpopulation is the problem? To call this political discourse moronic would be an insult to morons everywhere.

Is it any wonder that a growing consensus of disaffected Americans are giving up and simply looking to find a safe place to watch the collapse?

Hello Leanan,

Thxs for the toplink:

Bill Clinton: 10 Things the U.S. Government Should Do For Clean Power

...Clinton suggested some more controversial plans: he raised the idea of a single state, like Nevada, or an area like Puerto Rico becoming energy independent — he said this could “rock the world.”
[See TOD archives]: to me the key concepts are Maximal Peak Outreach plus Foundations [Asimov's predicted collapse and directed decline for Optimal Overshoot reduction through the Dieoff Bottleneck], the Hirsch Report [Fifteen Favored Detritovore States], reasonable geo-political boundaries based on watershed demarcation, initialization, then gradual enlargement of biosolar habitats, SpiderWebRiding to avoid the reversion to the Nuahtl Tlameme backpacking scheme [see TopTODer HO's Keypost], and Earthmarines vs Mercs for focused conflict and best-case scenarios for other specie protection.

I would disagree with Nevada, or even Arizona, being the initial effort of Clinton's proposal: resolution of the 50 million or more American Southwest plus Mexico migrational invasion into Cascadia and other northern areas with more water resources needs to occur first. As detailed in my earlier postings: IF Pearl Harbor can avoid being pounded below sea-level in a full-on Nuclear Gift Exchange, then IMO, Hawaii is the logical place for the first implementation of Pres. Clinton's 'rock the world' biosolar habitat proposal.

Forbidding tourist travel to the islands would be a great start. Shifting the Hawaiian economy in preparation for servicing Pacific tall ships hauling Non-Substitutable I/O-NPK products seems to be a logical end goal to minimize cannabilism and possibly foreclose the option of another long and decimating War of the Pacific. IMO, modern Barbary P-iratism, with an outpost Hawaii-based, offers the possibility of extended postPeak geo-control to main profitable sealane trading.

Okay, that's enough--my greatest fear is when you delete my posts for length. :(

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

Bob - For what it's worth (very little I'm afraid) I look forward to your posts and I respect your opinions.


Hello Joemichaels,

Full Credit should go to Jay Hanson and those others* trying to advance his work on the Thermo/Gene Collision [8-Page PDF Warning]:


*Darwinian, Nate Hagens, Matt Savinar, Dawkins, Leblanc, Dr. Duncan, AngryChimp, Reg Morrison, Great Scott, et al [by the thousands now].

I consider myself a 'Humanimal gnat' in the Humanimal Ecosystem: well below average in every category. Hell, I cannot even convince Google to post the unlucky button, or get Tiger to plow a golf course.

My hope is that the true geniuses will rise to keystone predator levels for optimal decline assertion and sere transformation rates just as the remarkable re-introduction of wolves into Yellowstone is reforming that ecosystem. Time will tell.

IF Pearl Harbor can avoid being pounded below sea-level in a full-on Nuclear Gift Exchange, then IMO, Hawaii is the logical place for the first implementation of Pres. Clinton's 'rock the world' biosolar habitat proposal.

You're kidding, right? What fraction of its current population could Hawaii feed without imported food? What fraction of the shipping capacity needed to bring the imports for food and shelter for its current population could Hawaii build out of its local resources, even assuming a return to wind-powered vessels? What goods and services would Hawaii trade to other parts of the world in exchange for the resources -- eg, copper for winding generators for wind turbines -- if tourism is removed from the picture? Granted, I'm assuming that because Bill Clinton is a politician, he is implicitly talking about energy independence while still maintaining much of our current level of technology: television, universal phone service, modern diagnosis and treatment of diseases like cancer, etc.

I would suggest that several states, including Texas, Louisiana, Wyoming and Colorado are already "independent" when measured in terms of net energy production. It's not all in the right form, of course, but the shortages are petroleum and that could be fixed if you don't care how dirty or inefficient the conversion from natural gas or coal to liquid fuels is. And it's almost all fossil fuels -- but without exports, Wyoming has enough coal to provide for its total energy needs for a LONG time.

Hello Mcain6925,

Thxs for responding. Those continental inland states you listed are the 'detritovore' states in the Hirsch Report Update [156-page PDF Warning]:

Economic Impacts of U.S. Liquid Fuel Mitigation Options
Start reading about page 110, then on about Generic states A,B,C,D...

It only makes sense for eventual postPeak clustered consolidation around the remaining FF resources [consider my SuperNAFTA posting series too]; the detritus of the last ancient sunshine. Therefore, I agree with some of your points. This is no different than the action of wild animals in the Serengeti, and other places, clustering around the few remaining watering holes during the drought season [see 'Battle of Kruger' on YouTube].

Hawaii does not have FFs, therefore IMO, they will best be served by taking a different biosolar tack. Obviously, if Peak Outreach saturates the Hawaiians-->Many would opt to move to the mainland before the dire effects start kicking into force.

Slow boats stopping for a rest in Hawaii, or a harbor from a storm, will gladly trade essentials for fresh water & food, booze, and an embrace from a native. Sailors will not desire to go back to scurvy, beri-beri, and other nutrition deficit afflictions if they can help it. The captains will have more productive sailors too.

I will leave the specific speculation as to the details of Hawaii's postPeak transformation to others as I have never been to these islands. Leanan, and other TODers, have discussed this in detail before.

And don't forget, mcain, that Texas was never a US territory. We were a recognized country which voluntarily joined the Union with certain provisions. Such as the US gov't could never own land in Texas (yep...no Federal parks or BLM here.) Also, unlike the other states, the Texas flag is not required to fly lower than the US flag. But the best provision (according to urban legend) is the ability of Texas to succeed from the union should they choose to.

p.s. Everyone should smile regarding that urban legend. But many here do beleive it. And they do have more guns the the rest of the country combined.


Read a report predicting 4.1 billion bushels of corn will be used for ethanol this year. The corn crop was expected to be about 12 billion bushels, significantly lower than last year's harvest. The numbers fluctuate and there is increased worry that an early freeze might damage plants as flooding delayed planting in the MidWest. In June of 2008 the corn inventories were about 26% below the previous year's levels. June soybean inventories were down YOY in spite of a record soybean harvest in 2007. Wheat inventories were up YOY. Beef cattle inventory numbers are significantly lower than this time last year. Up to 60% of the cost of raising a steer might be attributed to corn costs. Profits in the beef raising industry are down adding to worries of financial insolvency. Corn shortages might also affect ethanol distillers.

Hello TODers,

Punjab runs short of 600,000 tonnes urea

...The minister said the department under his supervision conducted 283 raids and got registered 260 cases against the hoarders, and dealers of sub-standard fertilizer with relevant police stations, besides arresting 95 persons in this regard...
Too bad the wealthy in Pakistan didn't read my earlier posting series whereby they become cooperative biosolar investors with the farmers by mutually stockpiling I/O-NPK for mutual benefit [especially back when I-NPK was cheap]. Those non-farmer hoarders should have anticipated eventual police confiscation, then proactively moved to a better paradigm a long time ago. I hope the US can do better....

The increasing cases of counterfeit I-NPK is very worrisome to me as it creates cascading blowbacks that consequently ripple throughout the entire job specialization construct. Someone could get filthy rich inventing a cheap way to quickly certify the Elemental contents of I/O-NPK bags.

Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

EDIT: http://thepost.com.pk/CityNewsT.aspx?dtlid=178679&catid=3
LAHORE: To check hoarding and artificial shortage of wheat flour in the market by flour mills, and the resultant increase in the prices of this vital commodity, the Punjab government is considering taking the mills under official custody...
Make us your slaves, just feed us! I would expect lots of future Tadeusz Borowski, #119198.

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

Dramatic price increases

Get ready for another big increase in production costs. Gary Schnitkey, farm financial management specialist at the University of Illinois, forecasts that corn and soybean producers will see significant price increases for all input costs next year.

Fertilizer is singled out as the input with the largest cost increase...

Schnitkey says all indicators point to continued high input costs for 2010 as well. “Right now it is very difficult to project what fertilizer prices will do,” he says. “I don’t foresee a price decline unless there’s a dramatic drop in energy prices. And I don’t see that happening.”
Besides the mantra of 'drill, drill, drill', I would suggest the MSM talking hairdos need to start promoting O-NPK recycling and 'garden, garden, garden' to hopefully reduce the scale and duration of the coming machete' moshpits.

Upon my first discovery of Dieoff.com back in 2003, I immediately sent a email to the National Parent-Teacher Assoc. [PTA] asking them to convert the playing fields to veggie plots and chicken coops. Sadly, no reply & no change: thus, we have already lost a young generation from the learning of essential permaculture survival skills. :(

Anecdote : Friends of mine are building a house of straw in eastern France (OK, actually a bioclimatic wood-framed house, walled/insulated with bales of straw).

The price of straw this year is double that of last year. That's no big deal for them (it's like 200 euros instead of 100), but it's a huge deal for regular straw consumers, e.g. dairy farmers.

According to the papers, cereal producers are trying to recoup higher costs by pricing what was practically a waste product previously. Digging deeper, what's happening is that many cereal producers are ploughing their straw back into the ground as fertilizer, because the cost of chemical fertilizer is too high.