DrumBeat: August 22, 2008

Geologist: In Terms of Supply and Demand, the Oil Peak Is Past

Jeffrey Brown is an independent petroleum geologist and analyst, who also manages an exploration program in West Texas. He has a major interest in the subject of "Peak Oil" and has used mathematical models to project a very grim future for the world's oil supply. We caught up with Jeffrey at his office outside Dallas.

Eli Neusner, reporter, HardAssetsInvestor.com (HAI): You've published some controversial research in the past. What is the gist of your analysis?

Jeffrey Brown, petroleum geologist (Brown): The basic thrust of my research is that the world has already arrived at Peak Oil - which is a condition in which the worldwide supply of oil cannot keep up with demand. We have used proven mathematical models to show that the top five net oil-exporting countries - which are Saudi Arabia, Russia, Norway, Iran and the United Arab Emirates, and which account for one-half of current world net oil exports - are showing an ongoing decline in net oil exports, continuing a trend that began in 2006. To give you an idea of where we're headed, Mexico - another former top producer - will see its oil exports hit zero in 2010.

Protests in India threaten world’s cheapest car

NEW DELHI - The chairman of the Tata Group threatened Friday to move an important auto factory out of India's West Bengal state because of violent farmer protests and strong political opposition, a move that could delay the debut of the world's cheapest car.

The pint-sized Nano, priced at $2,500, was scheduled to go on sale by the end of the year, but if Tata pulls the Nano factory out of West Bengal, the much-anticipated car would likely be delayed.

Ecuador a moderate in Andean oil nationalizations

QUITO (Reuters) - Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa is steering away from the energy nationalizations of leftist allies, Venezuela and Bolivia, in a show of moderation that could help him keep oil output steady this year.

Correa spooked investors last year by hiking a sweeping windfall tax and ordering companies to rework contracts, but in recent weeks he secured deals with investors that analysts say will help stabilize weak output after he shunned calls for more aggressive oil field takeovers.

Oil sands visit was not a shopping trip, says Buffett

CALGARY, Alta -- Warren Buffett toured Canada's oil sands with his friend Bill Gates this week to understand how the resources are developed, but the billionaire investor said on Friday he had no plan to buy into the sector.

Libya trims oil output slightly after tank fire

LONDON (Reuters) - Libya has lowered its oil output "a little bit" due to a fire in a crude storage tank at its oil refining and petrochemical site Ras Lanuf, the country's top oil official said on Friday.

Shokri Ghanem, chairman of Libya's National Oil Corporation, also told Reuters that the fire, which broke out on Tuesday during maintenance work, was not out yet. He added that force majeure had not been declared on exports.

Americans skip Labor Day trips as costs rise

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - After missing out on summer vacations because of high fuel prices and a weakening economy, many Americans won't be going anywhere over the Labor Day weekend either.

The number of people traveling 50 miles or more will drop by 0.9 percent this Labor Day weekend compared with last year, the biggest drop in at least eight years, according to travel and auto group AAA.

Cost of flying jumped 7.5 percent in July

NEW YORK - The average cost to fly one mile in the U.S. on a commercial airliner rose 7.5 percent in July compared to the same month last year.

The Air Transport Association of America, which represents most passenger and cargo carriers in the U.S., said late Wednesday that passenger yield — the average price a passenger pays to fly one mile, excluding government taxes and fees — was 15.7 cents last month.

Year-to-date passengers paid 7.1 percent more per mile than in the same period of 2007.

DNC will give solar industry a chance to shine

For the nation’s fledgling solar power industry, the Democratic National Convention’s pursuit of a green event is a huge chance to showcase the industry’s abilities and potential to delegates and decision makers from across the United States.

“It’s a coming-out party for the solar industry,” said Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association in Washington, D.C.

Greer: The tempo of change

One of the lessons of history is that change, no matter how drastic it appears on the pages of history books, is rarely anything like so sudden for those who live through it. Read an account of the French Revolution, for example, and events seem to follow one another like bangs from a string of firecrackers from the final crisis of the Ancien Régime straight through to the fall of Napoleon. For the man or woman in the French street, though, these happenings were scattered threads in a fabric of months and years woven from the plainer cordage of ordinary life.

...I’ve met far too many people who don’t know enough about plant care to keep a potted petunia healthy, and have very likely never put in an eight-hour day of hard physical labor in their lives – most middle class Americans haven’t, after all – and yet who nonetheless talk enthusiastically about the life they expect to lead in a self-sufficient rural lifeboat ecovillage as industrial civilization crashes into ruin a comfortable distance away. It’s all very reminiscent of the aftermath of the Sixties, when a great many people headed back to the land with equally high hopes; the vast majority of them straggled back to the cities a few months or years later with their hopes in shreds, having discovered that fantasies of the good life in nature’s lap make poor preparation for the hard work, unremitting discipline, and relative poverty of life as a subsistence farmer.

Raymond James Says State of Russian Oil ‘Much Worse than We Would Have Imagined 6 Months Ago’

Asked to comment, independent Texas-based petroleum geologist Jeffrey Brown said he expects that the decline in Russian oil production “will be pretty steep,” noting, “The Russians are highly dependent on old oil fields, with rising water cuts.” (The older a well, the more likely water is being pumped in so as to force the remaining crude to the surface.)

Alcoa `Optimistic' Aluminum Prices Will Rise on Power Shortage

(Bloomberg) -- Alcoa Inc. Chief Executive Officer Klaus Kleinfeld said he's ``very optimistic'' aluminum prices will rise in the next five years as producers encounter difficulty finding enough power to meet demand for the metal.

TNK-BP CEO Lodges Complaint with Russian Govt. Over Ban

The banned chief executive of BP's Russian oil venture TNK-BP has lodged an official complaint with Russian authorities over treatment of the firm in a letter, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters on Friday.

Henan tightens CNG supply to save gas for public utilities

INTERFAX-CHINA - Northern China's Henan Province, which is in the midst of a severe gas shortage, has tightened control over the amount of compressed natural gas (CNG) used by gas stations and has restricted the number of cars modified to use CNG so as to guarantee sufficient supply for public utilities, the Henan Development & Reform Commission (HDRC) announced on Aug. 20.

Airline fuel surcharges stay sky high

Airlines are failing to pass on savings from recent oil price reductions and are cashing in on fuel surcharges, travel companies say. Agents and tour operators are calling on British Airways, Virgin and other airlines to cut higher prices attributed to fuel to reflect a drop in the price of a barrel of crude oil from a peak of about $147 in mid-July to $114 earlier this week.

Petrobras sees sub-salt lifting costs economical

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazil's state-controlled oil giant Petrobras said on Friday that per-barrel lifting costs for sub-salt oil reserves off the coast of Brazil would be "extremely economical."

Natural Gas Fund Is Flaming Out

You see, unfortunately, there is really no practical way for a fund to invest in a commodity at the spot price unless it is able to actually buy and sell the physical commodity and store it in between. In the case of natural gas that would be really difficult. Therefore, these funds invest in the next best thing, which is the front month futures contract for the commodity, and as those contracts approach settlement they roll them over to the next month's contract.

America’s Oil Debate Heats Up Alaska’s Frozen Tundra

A fact-finding trip to a remote, oil-bearing chunk of Alaska had Republicans and Democrats clashing over one of the country’s hottest topics last week.

U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Fort Morgan, joined a contingent of Congressional Republicans, led by Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, to visit the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Hunger in our midst

She used to donate to the food pantry at St. Ignatius of Loyola. Now she gets 95 percent of her food from it.

Running dry

Everyone knows industry needs oil. Now people are worrying about water, too.

San Francisco Ponders: Could Bike Lanes Cause Pollution?

SAN FRANCISCO -- New York is wooing cyclists with chartreuse bike lanes. Chicago is spending nearly $1 million for double-decker bicycle parking.

San Francisco can't even install new bike racks.

Blame Rob Anderson. At a time when most other cities are encouraging biking as green transport, the 65-year-old local gadfly has stymied cycling-support efforts here by arguing that urban bicycle boosting could actually be bad for the environment. That's put the brakes on everything from new bike lanes to bike racks while the city works on an environmental-impact report.

6 Home heating alternatives

Staying warm this winter could get expensive. While there's not much homeowners can do about energy prices, there are some ways to reduce your dependence on traditional fuels.

10 easy ways to green your home

Some of the smartest green ideas are decidedly low-tech. Fact is, the sustainable homes of the future look a lot like those of the past.

Trading Places: The demographic inversion of the American city

In the past three decades, Chicago has undergone changes that are routinely described as gentrification, but are in fact more complicated and more profound than the process that term suggests. A better description would be "demographic inversion." Chicago is gradually coming to resemble a traditional European city--Vienna or Paris in the nineteenth century, or, for that matter, Paris today. The poor and the newcomers are living on the outskirts. The people who live near the center--some of them black or Hispanic but most of them white--are those who can afford to do so.

Rice's Energy Crisis: The Quest for Light...

Though Houston may be a good city for concerts, multi-ethnic cuisine and shopping, it is not for cheap energy. At the end of fiscal year 2007-'08, which ended in June, Rice's total energy costs rose $4 million, from $12 million to $16 million. Director of Sustainability Richard Johnson (Will Rice '92) said this jump is attributed to the rising costs of energy and not to increased consumption. For students, this jump in energy prices may show up in future on-campus housing costs, Johnson said.

Energy includes electricity; chilled water, for air conditioning; and steam, for heat, which service most of the buildings on campus. Johnson said Rice is not using any more energy per square foot than it has in the past, though due to the rising energy costs the school is under more pressure to reduce its energy consumption.

Former Shell president is the man with a plan

During an appearance on CNBC early in the summer, John Hofmeister made a startling statement: "Oil isn't a free market."

Soon after he said it, the show cut to a commercial and someone handed Hofmeister, who was about to retire as president of Shell Oil Co., a piece of paper. It was a message from Shell's headquarters in the Netherlands telling him he couldn't say that. He crumpled up the note, went back on the air, and repeated his statement.

...Hofmeister, who showed up wearing the official uniform of retirement — Hawaiian shirt, khaki shorts, black tennis shoes and white socks — spent his final years at Shell trying to explain the nation's looming energy crisis to the public. He feels that despite "town hall meetings" in more than 50 cities, he largely failed.

Now he's trying again.

LNG project delays may cut 100 million tons of supply

SINGAPORE (Bloomberg) -- Delays in liquefied natural gas ventures led by Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. may pare global supplies by 100 million metric tons, more than the annual demand of South Korea and Japan, the world’s biggest importers.

Projects in Australia, Nigeria, Algeria and the Baltics have been shelved or postponed, prompting the capacity shortfall by 2013, said Ian Angell, vice president of gas and power at Wood Mackenzie Consultants Ltd. The deficit, enough to power 250 million homes, will cause spot LNG prices to trade at parity or at a premium to oil, he said.

Golden image of corn-based ethanol shows some erosion

Industry supporters say opponents are overstating the impact of ethanol on food prices and ignoring other factors in driving up food costs — high oil prices and bad weather in exporting nations, for example. But they acknowledge that corn-based ethanol is not seen as the long-term solution to greater energy independence, but rather a transition to more efficient biofuels that may not benefit those farmers fueling current ethanol plants.

They also acknowledge that the explosive growth of the ethanol sector has contributed to increasing volatility in grain markets and in farming generally. The industry took off at the same time the world began consuming more grain than it was producing and oil prices surged. The result: tight supplies, high prices and unpredictable markets as food prices now are linked to energy demand.

Kindling new US energy resources

Barnaby Phillips, Al Jazeera's Europe correspondent, travelled across the US to find out what ordinary Americans feel about five key electoral issues.

In the final part of American Challenge, he looks at how US citizens and businesses are beginning to address the nation's energy crisis.

Who revived the electric car?

Hobby clubs are watching their membership rolls swell as environmentalists and business types join long-suffering aficionados.

Slow burn for a cash crop

But tobacco is also one of the most expensive crops to produce. Worried farmers say those costs are going up fast, raising concerns that they will not be able to fend off developers' bulldozers much longer.

The energy crisis has sent the price of diesel fuel for their tractors soaring. Propane gas used to help dry the leaves in the long tobacco sheds is way up, and organic fertilizer prices have nearly doubled in a year's time.

China warns on winter energy supply

BEIJING (Reuters) - China warned on Thursday that its energy supply problems were likely to last into winter as it struggles to ensure stable sources of coal, oil and power, the People's Daily reported, citing a senior official.

The pressure to secure raw materials will be "considerable", according to the report, which quoted an unnamed official of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the top government planning agency.

The NDRC did not offer a reason for the persistent tightness in supplies, but China is only now beginning to emerge from several months of its worst summer power supply crisis in four years, after surging coal prices turned power company margins negative, prompting many to curb supplies.

It has also battled sporadic shortages of refined fuels as cheap domestic pump prices and soaring global crude oil costs deter refiners from fully meeting demand.

China's oil thirst hits new high

China's oil demand growth hit a two-year high in July but the pre-Olympic spurt will likely fall off in the autumn, undermined by high prices, global economic woes and the end of official pressure to stockpile for the games.

Implied consumption rocketed 9.5% from a year earlier as the impact of a huge pump price rise filtered through to refinery output and oil companies made record fuel imports to prevent shortages while the world's eyes were on China for the Olympics.

But oil product purchases abroad will drop sharply after the end of the Games, industry sources told Reuters, as the government eases pressure on its energy players to guarantee supplies.

Are Oil Prices Rigged?

We've all read that speculators are driving oil prices artificially high — a claim that gets more interesting in light of oil's recent fall below $115. But maybe we're looking at it from the wrong perspective. Suppose that major suppliers in the oil industry are these manipulative speculators.

Is it possible that oil prices are rigged? You bet. Here's how...

OPEC output rising in August - petrologistics

LONDON (Reuters) - OPEC oil output is expected to rise in August by 450,000 barrels per day (bpd) due to higher supply from Iran and Angola, industry consultant Petrologistics said on Friday.

The estimate indicates the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is pumping almost 1 million bpd more than its target and comes as some members are voicing concern that world oil markets are oversupplied.

Gazprom Falls as Analysts `Shocked' by Spending Plan

(Bloomberg) -- OAO Gazprom, the world's biggest natural-gas producer, fell in Moscow trading after analysts said they were ``shocked'' by the company's plans to raise its investment budget to more than $40 billion this year.

Petrobras Buys Equipment for Pre-Salt Oil Fields, Globo Says

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil's state-controlled oil company, has started to buy and lease equipment to be used in the country's pre-salt oil fields, O Globo said, without saying where it got the information.

Petrobras is closing contracts to buy and lease drill rigs, boats and offshore oil rigs, Globo said.

Oil price hike shuts down 100,000 Mexican firms

MEXICO CITY: At least 100,000 small companies have been shut down in Mexico due to the soaring oil prices and new tax laws, the Latin American Organization of Small and Medium Companies (Alampyme) has said.

Duke passing on high fuel costs

Duke Energy Carolinas customers in North Carolina will see their bills rise as much as 8% on Sept. 1 because of increasing fuel costs. And S.C. customers can expect steeper hikes Oct. 1.

Buffett, Gates, mutant fish frame oil sands debate

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - In the high-stakes battle between the oil industry and environmentalists over the image of Canada's oil sands, it appears a pair of multibillionaires beats a two-mouthed fish.

‘A Whole New World’

For decades, tiny Barrow, Alaska, has been largely unknown and unnoticed. But with increasing global activity in the Arctic--especially from oil speculators--things are changing … fast.

Russians dig in despite promised Georgia pullout

POTI, Georgia (AP) — Russian troops manned checkpoints and controlled traffic on major highways across Georgia on Friday, Russian military trucks roamed the roads freely and Russian military helicopters buzzed overhead.

Despite Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's promise to have his troops out by now, Friday appeared to be yet another day of a Russian occupation with no clear end in sight.

Russia Values Oil More Than War

One counterintuitive feature of the five-day war between Russia and Georgia is its minimal impact on the energy flows from the Caspian to world markets. There is always a legion of experts who would confidently assert that "It's all about oil," and no amount of hard evidence would shake this petro-geopolitical article of faith. There were indeed reports about airstrikes on the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, or BTC, pipeline, eagerly circulated by The Wall Street Journal, but those turned out to be just products of the desperate Georgian war propaganda. Traffic involving small tankers from Poti and Supsa was interrupted, but these ports have never had any strategic significance on the European energy map since the supertankers carrying Caspian oil to Europe are loaded in the deepwater terminal in Ceyhan. The fact that Russia did not try to completely shut down the South Caucasus energy corridor invites a re-evaluation of risks and longer-term consequences.

U.S. sees much to fear in a hostile Russia

The president of Syria spent two days in Russia this week with a shopping list of sophisticated weapons he wanted to buy. The visit may prove a harbinger of things to come.

If the conflict in Georgia ushers in a sustained period of renewed animosity between Russia and the West, Washington fears that a newly emboldened but estranged Moscow could use its influence, money, energy resources, United Nations Security Council veto and, yes, its arms industry to undermine American interests around the world.

What Israel Lost in the Georgia War

"Israel armed the Georgian army," grumbled General Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy chief of staff of the Russian military, at a press conference in Moscow earlier this week. An Israeli paper had, last weekend, quoted an unnamed official warning that Israel needed "to be very careful and sensitive these days. The Russians are selling many arms to Iran and Syria, and there is no need to offer them an excuse to sell even more advanced weapons." As if on cue, on Wednesday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad arrived in Moscow hoping to persuade Russia to sell him sophisticated air-defense systems — and reportedly offering the Russian navy the use of one of its Mediterranean ports.

NATO ships enter Black Sea for exercises

Three warships — from Spain, Germany and Poland — sailed into the Black Sea on Thursday. They are due to be joined by a U.S. frigate, the USS Taylor, later this week.

They are "conducting a pre-planned routine visit to the Black Sea region to interact and exercise with our NATO partners Romania and Bulgaria, which is an important feature of our routine planning," said Vice-Adm. Pim Bedet, deputy commander at allied maritime headquarters in Northwood, England.

However, the move risks increasing tensions with Russia which has deployed ships from its Black Sea fleet to the Georgian coast.

Iraq, China to ink Ahdab oil deal next week

BAGHDAD - Iraq and China will sign a deal next week to develop the Ahdab oil field, restoring an agreement that was canceled after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, an Iraqi spokesman said Thursday.

Wind firm seeks strategy shakeup

One of Canada's up-and-coming wind power developers, EarthFirst Canada Inc. , has called in consultants to look for "strategic alternatives" after its key project in British Columbia was hit with cost overruns and a lowered estimate of potential energy production.

EarthFirst's predicament underlines the precarious economics of the wind business - especially for small developers - even at a time of booming growth for the industry.

Toronto's mysterious bicycle thief

Since Kenk's arrest, theories about his hoarding have proliferated. Because Kenk held a scrap metal dealer's license, Evans speculates that he was playing the commodities markets, waiting for another spike in metals prices before melting down the bicycles.

In the past, Kenk has said that he was accumulating bicycles in preparation for a severe oil shortage.

Making Terra Preta Soil: Ramona's Recipe for Home-Made Dirt

Banging on charcoal early in the morning on Sunday is the reason that my recipe for terra preta calls for either very understanding or else hard-of-hearing neighbors. Think drums, but without the rhythm or resonance that give drums their redeeming social value. Fortunately for us, no one called the noise police. I can tell you, we would never have gotten away with that in Germany, where I lived for two years (very **quiet** years – well, mostly), and where folks deeply resent it when people raise an unholy ruckus on Sundays.

'Clock ticking' on global warming: UN climate chief

ACCRA (AFP) - Time is running out in the fight against global warming, the UN's top climate change official warned as a new round of UN talks got started here Thursday.

"There is little time left to get a solid negotiating text on the table. Clearly the clock is ticking," said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

"People in a burning house cannot afford to lose time in an argument," he said, citing an Ashanti proverb.

Warming threatens crucial Himalayan water resources, forum told

STOCKHOLM (AFP) - Climate change poses a serious threat to essential water resources in the Himalayan region putting the livelihoods of 1.3 billion people at risk, experts said Thursday.

The mountainous region, home to the world's largest glaciers and permafrost area outside the polar regions, has seen rapid glacial melting and dramatic changes in rainfall, experts at the World Water Week conference in Stockholm said.

Re: Canadian bicycle thief:

ELS: Economize, Localize, Steal

Which will lead inevitably to: Economize, Localize, Shoot

No way, bullets are way too expensive

Economize, Localize, Hang

I wonder if Rock Salt shotgun shells will make a comeback, keeps repeat offenders to a minimum and doesn't leave you a mess to clean up. Biofriendly too. 1st shot salt, 2nd shot lead.

Quite practical at detering theives until lawyers thought of it as a source of revenue.

As discussed in today's NYT, energy has become a central issue for many people in the U.S.

Energy Politics Proving Difficult to Master

As the politicians continue to promise the Moon by offering supposed quick fixes for high oil prices, the pandering is likely to get worse.

E. Swanson

Russia's First move legitimate: US envoy

"The US embassador to Moscow, in a rare US comment endorsing Russia's initial moves in Georgia, described the kremlins's first military response as legitimate"


Sanity in the Whitehouse?

No, this has become the official line -- that Russia's initial response to Georgia's actions was predictable but that subsequent actions were disproportionate.

They were just following the U.S. military doctrine. Compared to our military doctrine of shock and awe, Russia's actions were arguably relatively proportionate. Message to Georgia: Don't even think about messing with Russia in the future. Besides, your supposed allies will abandon you in a heartbeat.

Anyway, in the tradition of 1984, Russia is the new, old enemy as the global war on terrorism has become somewhat tiresome and amorphous as a way to rouse the public.

You got that right. Perpetual war is the name of the game right now. If it is not terrorism then go back to what worked in the past. It is the best way to keep the US distracted and the populace will to give up more of its freedom. Seems to me like the US is trying for a replay of the early 80's. Cold war all over again. The problem this time around for the US is Russia now has the upper hand.

We have always been at war with Oceania, pardon me, Russia.

It appears Orwell was a optimist.
As a side note, the Orwell estate is suing BushCo for plagiarism.

I wonder where was the "proportionate" element in the NATO's offensives on Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon... Did these countries do to us what we did to them? Errm, nope as far as I can see...

IMO the policy of double standards some day will play a very bad trick to the self-contentious West. People in these countries are getting tired of all of the propaganda and intimidation their countries are subjected to. They won't forget it.

LevinK, IMO, the US is already paying the price for maintaining such double standards in our international relations. Double standards are nothing new here -- the US has been kicking its poorer American neighbors around for much of its history. What is new is that America is now perceived as being weakened militarily and economically. Simultaneously, other nations have begun to find their footing and are in no mood to put up with our continuing hypocrisy.

What is absolutely essential is that the US begins to see itself a nation among nations instead of "the world's only superpower." I'm convinced that were this to happen, we would actually find that our security was enhanced. However, I'm equally sure that we will never convince the reactionary populace to elect a president that is willing to take this approach to foreign policy.

What Nato offensive on Lebanon are you talking about?

Israel's (de facto NATO member) illegal invasion and the subsequent stonewalling of any international condemnation by NATO members of the UNSC.

This entire idea that Russia's reaction to the Georgian attack on South Ossetia troubles me. How is a large country supposed to react when confronting a smaller one? Who decides what is proportionate? Surely a massive show of military strength would end the conflict quicker, showing that resistance was futile, thereby saving Russian and Georgian lives?

Military strategy and tactics have for thousands of years been based on disproportion, hitting the enemy hard with as much as you can get organized at their weakest spot.

Were the Russians supposed to fight fair, like in the playground? This line of argument is infantile.

During the first Gulf War the allies lost around 250 men in battle, the Iraqi losses are reported to have been around 250,000, was that proportionate or fair? Alone on the highway from Kuwait to Iraq around 50,000 Iraqis were "massacred" by American airpower, with I believe zero casualities. This I think puts the conflict in Georgian in some kind of perspective.

I feel the Georgian people are being casually used like pawns on giant chessboard, isn't this always the case? The major powers are in a phase when they are carving up the world between them and bumping into one another in their frantic search for "influence" and access to vital raw materials, namely oil and gas. It's like watching gangsters fighting over territory in Chicago in the 1920's. But I guess rival capitalist barons have always been like that.

Well said. IMO, no different than the 'Battle of Kruger' on Youtube. Maybe someday, when the Overshoot whittles its numbers much lower, people will finally make Malthus their Bible, then keep their global numbers so low that there will be plenty of resources to go around for everyone, but I am doubtful:

REQUIEM by Jay Hanson, 02/20/98

What are the chances of yeast, upon being introduced into a bottle of grape juice, not turning it into wine ASAP?

The cost of a second or third child is around one hundred thousand dollars in the US. Make it two hundred thousand counting school and other social costs. The war in Iraq is killing many, many, American children. Far more Americans have died in Iraq than Iraqis.
This is not anecdotally true for the people on this board. We have more time than children, and so more money than we need to raise our nonexistant families. If you want to know the facts of the matter, ask your acquaintances (not friends in your socioeconomic set) such as the guy at the parking garage, the barista at your starbucks, the attendant at the gas station, etc, if they would have another child if they had the money.
The last time we had a baby boom the working class paid much lower official and unofficial tax rates.

"Far more Americans have died in Iraq than Iraqis."

You are out of your mind. What is your point, if any?

"Far more Americans have died in Iraq than Iraqis."

This is so insanely untrue, even in any skewed US official #'s, that I am going to be charitable and assume you made a typo somewhere in there.

Otherwise you are out of your flippin mind and living in a cave somewhere.

leaked memo from an anonymous source in Cheney's office

Subject: U.S. oil independence

Step 1: Issue American passports to residents of Fort McMurray

Step 2: ???

Step 3: Profit

My heart goes out to those freedom-loving Alberta-ians oppressed by the heartless, cruel Canadian regime. We need to bring democracy to their land! We need to establish a shining outpost of freedom in the heart of North America! I can see it now: OAF - Operation Alberta Freedom!

Jeez...don't give them any ideas.

"My heart goes out to those freedom-loving Alberta-ians [sic] oppressed by the heartless, cruel Canadian regime. We need to bring democracy to their land!"

True fact about Alberta: we have always been a one-party province, as ever since Alberta entered Confederation in 1905, there has always only been one dominant party in charge. First the Liberals, then the United Farmers of Alberta, from 1935 to 1971 it was the Social Credit party, and since 1971 the Progessive Conservative party has had strong majorities. The Socreds were the World War 2 era generation, and the Tories are the Boomer generation.

The EIA has posted the newest Monthly Energy Review for international production and consumption at:


These numbers have been adjusted from the previous version to reflect the same revision seen in the IPM back through 2005. Current version shows that the MAy 2005 peak was revised downward slightly. March 2008 and May 2008 both show higher monthly flows than May 2005 (though the May 2008 value is likely to be revised downward as noted previously).

Because this data goes back so far, this the data I typically use in my charts with the caveat that the most recent months, just as the IPM, are likely to be revised.

A couple more hours will decide where Fay enters the GOM.

Which will decide how far South of Pensacola,

which will decide if Fay goes into Lake Pontchartrain.


I live in western NY, and I didn't get my direct deposit today because my company's HQ, including payroll, is in the Third World protectorate lovely state of Florida.

Hooray for fragile interconnected systems!

OK, it's 7:15 pm EDT, and it appears that Fay's center of circulation has just crossed the coastline into the Gulf of Mexico at Keaton Beach, Florida (judging from the Tallahassee NOAA weather radar). On the path it's going, it will come ashore again in Franklin County, maybe near Carabelle. I know we have an Oil Drummer in Franklin County. With a little (bad?) luck, it cross over the Apalachicola delta, go back into the Gulf, and come ashore again before the Perdido River on the west side of Pensacola, making it the only tropical storm to come ashore on the state of Florida five times (Key West, Fort Myers, Flagler Beach, and ? and ?).


"MOSCOW, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Russian oil output growth is unlikely to exceed 2.2 percent next year and will slow to under 1 percent by 2011, the government said on Thursday, confirming earlier forecasts of a slowdown in production growth.
Falling oil production in Russia, the world's second-largest crude exporter after Saudi Arabia, has become a major concern for the government, which relies heavily on export revenues.
The government quoted the Economy Ministry's updated forecast for Russian economic development to 2011 as saying oil output could this year reach 492 million tonnes, or 9.85 million barrels per day, almost flat from 491.5 million tonnes, or 9.87 bpd, in 2007. This year, a leap year, has one extra day."

Sacre Bleu. That explains it. The leap year mystery!

Alternative energy source creating new zoning issues
This is an example of the myriad considerations one needs to take into account when planning alternative power for ones lifeboat.
- Minimum of 4 acres
- Decibel levels
- Light flicker
- Electromagnetic field interference
Needless to say wind is probably the most abundant resource in N.E. MI.

Washington Is Quietly Repudiating Its Debts

Will the U.S. Treasury repudiate its obligations to its creditors, be they citizens or investors around the world? Most observers would answer "no" without hesitation. But Congress, with the complicity of the White House and the Fed, has arguably embarked on a stealth repudiation.

In his famous treatise, "The Wealth of Nations," Adam Smith noted there had never been a "single instance" of sovereign debts having been repaid once "accumulated to a certain degree." We may have reached Smith's threshold.

We're in strange territory here, for me at least. Money is being destroyed at a rapid rate (i.e. we're having deflation). That would suggest bond rates would go down. On the other hand, the US has unsupportable levels of debt, and has huge obligations in the next few years that will push borrowing to unprecedented levels. Who is going to loan the US money at anything like current interest rates? It ain't gonna happen. So rates have to rise.

So, I think we're going to see rising rates in a deflationary economy. I have no idea what that will look like, but I suspect it will be ugly.

Can you explain the "money is being destroyed at a rapid rate" argument?

I don't necessarily disagree and many good arguments have been laid out that we are entering / have entered monetary deflation.

However, the recent US M1+M2 money supply data does not clearly indicate this:

Yes, US M1+M2 growth has slowed down, but perhaps not yet started shrinking (don't have data for the last month or so):

It is also seems true that 'broad money' (not really money in classic sense) M3 supply growth has also leveled off:

Debt is being destroyed, that is for sure. However, this really isn't money in the classical sense, afaik, even though it's been re-purposed and the line between money and credit has been seriously blurred according to some.

"Can you explain the "money is being destroyed at a rapid rate" argument?"


since 1985, money has been created thru derivatives.

All based on stored physical wealth and actual payments
on that wealth.

housing is the one everyone most readily understands.

The payments are no longer coming in on the physical wealth
which value is also being cut from 50-80%.

California already down 38%.

So that all derivative "money"(a quadrillion) is being destroyed.

MER just got a nickel on the $ for some of it's derivatives.

Everyday actuals get more valuable.

Your last sentence pretty much covers where I'm coming from. I believe that virtually all money is debt. Our fractional lending fiat money system requires that money be lent by banks in order for there to be money at all. As the debts are paid back, the money that was created by the loans is destroyed. This is fine, so long as new loans are being made faster than the old are being paid off. What we have now is a slowdown in lending at the same time as an increase in defaults. The process is just getting started. I expect all measures of money to head south soon.

Fractional lending is the big issue here and non-borrowed reserves have now fallen off a cliff.

Classically, "money" was cash and credit. Credit is being destroyed at an alarming rate. Of course, classically, credit was always very small compared to today.

As shargash notes, we are in "interesting" times (interesting, as in the Chinese curse).

Finally, a Telegraph article titled Sharp US money supply contraction points to Wall Street crunch ahead shows one reconstruction of M3 that indicates that last month we saw a tremendous collapse of credit worldwide and that this will ripple through global financial systems in the coming months.

One of many theories that I, and others, have suggested is that there was a method to the Bush/Cheney fiscal madness.

First, given Peak Oil/Peak Exports, there is no way that the previous federal debts would be repaid, or at least not repaid with dollars of the same purchasing power.

Second, if the debt can't be repaid, why not max out the credit cards, and in effect borrow money to deploy a large permanent military force to the Persian Gulf?

If (which is a big "if") the Neocons maintain effective control of the best remaining oil reserves in the world, in the Persian Gulf area, a lot of options are open to them--among them forcing other countries to take dollars of dubious value in exchange for real goods, or even an explicit debt repudiation.

The method to the madness was and is madness. Wrecking the credit worthiness of the United States of America is not a good long term strategy. As far as the military approach goes, our hollowed out manufacturing base cannot even supply the bullets required to enforce our hegemony.

The true method is short term gain for the numerous cronies and disaster capitalists both within and without the Bush/Cheney administration.

Lots of luck to Obama or McCain cleaning up this mess in the future.

"..our hollowed out manufacturing base.."

I believe the comments of Don Boudreaux,Chairman,
Professor; Ph.D., of George Mason University answers your "hollowed out" claim quite well.

Don Boudreaux:

Here's a letter that I sent today to the Washington Post:

Harold Meyerson insists yet again that America has lost its manufacturing, alleging also that investors are abandoning the U.S in favor of "nations with far cheaper workforces" ("Obama's Factory Factor," August 21). Mr. Meyerson predictably singles out China as one such nation.

Facts utterly contradict Mr. Meyerson's fantasies. First, U.S. manufacturing revenues (adjusted for inflation) reached their all-time high in 2006. 2006 was also a peak year for inflation-adjusted manufacturing profits in the U.S. and for inflation-adjusted U.S. manufacturing exports. And the U.S. accounts for the largest share of the globe's manufacturing output; Americans today produce 2.5 times more manufactured goods than do the Chinese. [See here.]

Second, in 2007 the flow of per capita foreign direct investment into the U.S. was up 13 percent from 2006, to $675. In China, it was up 14 percent - to $55. [I derived these these figures from here, here, and here; I got population figures from the CIA World Factbook .]

Harold Meyerson is a perfect example of the Beatles' "Nowhere Man":
"He's as blind as he can be / Just sees what he wants to see."

Donald J. Boudreaux

Interesting. How is the manufacturing output measured? How is manufacturing defined?

As noted in the letter, "manufacturing output" is measured in dollars. It would need to be defined in such a way as the finished product adds to US GDP, as in the final assembly of components as someone noted below. All one need do to determine the veracity of Mr Boudreaux's statement is look at what no longer exists in places like Pittsburg, Detroit, New York, Cleveland, Toledo, Chicago--the factories and workers that manufactured items from start to finish. To say the US manufactiures more than China when China's steel output is greater than the sum of all US, EU and Japanese steelmaking is preposterous. I think Mr Boudreaux needs to return the PhD he recieved and take a job with Fox news.

Well yes, that was what I was getting at. If one uses units of money to quantify it, then is it absolute or net? You could just categorize a firm as a US manufacturer and then count its sales, or you could subtract the value of the parts it buys to incorporate into its products, etc. There are plenty of ways to add this up that would lead to almost any result you care to show. So I wondered what methodology was used.

Clearly I am skeptical - I have worked for a design and manufacturing firm for 21 years now. I see the changes in the parts suppliers that call on us - we have not grown much, but now they are fighting hard for our accounts, and their staffing is greatly reduced. When we tell them we like to use local suppliers and consider long supply chains to be a negative, and believe in vertical integration, we usually get the stare and long pause followed by something like "do you know how unusual that is?".

Someone mentioned it below, but the other factor to be considered is military vs. consumer manufacturing. I believe I read somewhere that 80% of goods manufactured in the US was for the military, but I can no longer find the reference. I'd appreciate it if anyone could confirm or refute that. I believe that hardware manufactured for the military is of no value for the society directly - with luck they will never be used for their intended purpose, and will eventually be consumed and/or disposed of. Any benefits are secondary.

Karlof, I think your right on the money just typed his name in at sourcewatch.org
Should say PhD in Hackanomics. He says the free market can fix...wait for it....Climate Change. I've also found if you type names from people from the papers saying we can drill, drill, drill our way to independence they usually lead to think tanks funded by Exxon. Funny how the paper doesn't mention that. Wouldn't be fair and balanced ya know.

Right on-that rice bowl economy is way overrated-they are doing it all with smoke and mirrors. The mighty USA manufacturing machine has never been this powerful-you would have to be blind not to see it. Just the other day China passed the USA to become Japan's #1 customer-pretty soon this mighty USA manufacturing machine will be allocated to servicing Chinese consumers and we will have the upper hand.


I was thinking what would the Chinese do with way too many deflating dollars. My guess at this point is to use them to get a hold of hard assets and then they will have to start building factory's here in the US.

I think that may have no choice if they need to access the Europeian and Japanese markets.

While the U.S. manufacturing may be increasing, the rate at which it is increasing is smaller than the rate of population growth in the U.S. (source). So, yeah sure we've got record manufacturing outputs, but notice your guy doesn't give manufacturing outputs per capita, he only uses it when it makes his statistics look good. If you count investment per capita that China looks like there is less money being spent on manufacturing -- but china has 1.3 billion people whereas the U.S. has 300 million. If the per capita spending for the two countries was equivalent the U.S. would not be considered as a super power any longer because its economy would be dwarfed by China's.

In any case, your guy quotes "investment" but he doesn't say what they're investing in. Are they investing in services or manufacturing? Also he's only considering foreign investment. He doesn't consider the fuel subsidy in China in the investment numbers, or other government subsidized activities. They are after all, communist. I imagine their government invests quite substantially in economic activities.

Finally, as anecdotal evidence I can offer this: walk into a consumer oriented store, what percentage of the goods are made in the U.S.? Not as much as you might guess given that the U.S. manufacturing is supposedly so high. So where are all the U.S. goods going if we're buying mostly foreign made goods here?

US manufacturing consists mostly of what ought to be called Big War.

I just want to say one word to you -- just one word: "Hamburgers."

Americas manufacturing is strong.

The only problem is that the majority of the parts are made in china and assembled in Mex. R&D outsourced overseas. Tooling, Germany & China.Raw Resources pillaged around the world.

American Business motto for the last 10 years.

"Sell EVERYTHING, Produce NOTHING" The margins are better. LOL!

I worry about when we can't get ICs from Malaysia or Taiwan. They're in everything and you can't exactly setup a production line overnight like you can a machine shop if you have the tools.

Steel from Japan is another big concern...IMHO.

Are we counting computer software as being "manufactured?" (I know it is part of GDP)

Sure, we can crank out a billion copies of Vista or Dance Dance Revolution, (or whatever), but it's hardly being manufactured. It's being copied. Not quite the same thing as putting a Buick on the street, or even creating a television set.

I believe quite a number of you need a course in economics, say at George Mason.

Software is not manufacturing.
Hamburger flipping is not manufacturing. That wasn't funny, it was just stupid.
Ad hominem attacks distract from real conversation and debate. If you don't know what that means I suggest those who engage in them look it up along with data about American manufacturing.
The auto plants in Tennessee, Alabama, and the Carolina's sure fit the description of manufacturing. Alabama just landed a 2 billion dollar steel plant, by a foreign firm. My state of Louisiana just lost that one but, is in the bidding to get another German one billion dollar steel mill. Manufacturing is increasing in the USA and has been increasing for quite a while.

Manufacturers come and go. My home town boasted both a buggy manufacturer and a wagon/wagon wheel manufacturer. Both are gone now. Times change. Businesses that are not well run, think Ford and GM, tend to fall by the wayside while well run auto companies have moved plants to the US.

Finally, I am not picking on you Ben these remarks were aimed at a rather large number of posters before you that, quite frankly, base arguments on belief systems not supported by facts.

If you look at how the government calculates "manufacturing", you might be surprised and aghast. Yes, burger flipping, and many other "service economy" things are included.

So, while I agree with you that software and burger flipping are not manufacturing, the government disagrees with us.

Your parting shot about arguments based on belief systems and not facts was really uncalled for.

The thing is though, when any of us go into just about any retail store any more, most of the stuff we see is made in China or someplace else other than the USA. Most of us who are middle aged adults can remember when that wasn't the case. You can argue about whether that is or isn't a good thing, but most people are feeling very insecure in their jobs these days (those lucky enough to still have jobs, that is), and rightly or wrongly, most people do think that there is a connection.

Yes, and even the things that are "manufactured" in the US are often just assembled here. The parts were made elsewhere.

i bought a backup propane heater & there was a chinese brand & american brand [lowe's & home depot i forget which where].
i settled on the american brand & when installer took it apart to hookup it said it was made here, then it said 'assembled in mexico' ; & obviously shipped back.

it was a three years ago.

what a world!

My almost 20-year-old "Japanese" car was built in Ohio. Meanwhile, my next-door-neighbor, who only "buys American" has a truck built in Mexico.

of course, they all run on imported fuel.

Is a steel plant located in Alabama owned by a foreign firm considered American?

I would posit that the phrase "US Manufacturing" implies the manufacturing being done by US-based companies, not foreign firms who will offshore whatever profits they earn. Thus Honda and Toyota, for example, own and operate vehicle assemby operations in the US, but they aren't US Manufacturers, although what they produce is counted toward US GDP (and one very good reason why GDP is a very poor economic indicator).

Also, GM and Ford own plants in Mexico, Canada and Germany. Are they counted?

Speaking of people who base their arguments based on belief systems not supported by facts, let's see how yours hold up.

Not only has the United States shed between four and five million manufacturing jobs (depending on the survey), but there are 35,000 fewer U.S. factories than there were eight years ago. This is not some slow, productivity-driven event like the 85 percent drop in farm jobs from 1900 to 2000, but a largely trade-driven impact. As we will see, only half the problem is that other nation's manufacturers are "beating" ours; the other half is that, in industry after industry, U.S.-based large-firm customers -- think GM, GE, Wal-Mart -- are telling their American suppliers to increase their "offshore footprint."

Source, October, 2007 issue of Manufacturing News.

35,000 fewer factories and 5 million fewer manufacturing jobs in the U.S. from 1999-2007!

Okay, here we go. When I was young one of my first jobs was in the US sugar industry in Louisiana. There were about 46 sugar mills in Louisiana then. Even the smallest mill employed over 200 people during the processing season. The vast majority processed less than 2000 tons of sugar cane a day.If my memory serves me right production averaged about 4000 lbs of sugar per acre on a bit over 300,000 acres. Today there are 12 mills processing cane with over 415,000 acres producing over 7500 lbs of sugar per acre with a fraction of the number of people compared to 1960. The wages, adjusted for inflation are a lot better, too. I guess this is a great tragedy according to you with a significant loss of jobs.

I suppose the mills could go back to 1960 wages and technology and start hiring, huh?

The order to increase the "offshore footprint" does not only involve large U.S. based corporations that buy or sell manufactured goods. It also extends to service professionals (and by professionals, I mean those people who have at least an undergraduate degree in a technical field). Software engineering and support is a long-standing example of this, as well as most electronic engineering. But it is also becoming true of those who work in building/facility/plant engineering.

In the past, this sort of engineering was often traditionally quite relationship-based and local, since a client who needed a facility design tended to trust design firms that were local. But there are now firms that are buying out competitors right and left in order to establish a "presence" in a wide array of geographic market zones. They are also establishing offices in foreign countries where wages are low even for professionals. When they compete for jobs, they put forward a handful of resumes of "responsible engineers/architects" in their bid package, while their price is based on the expectation of outsourcing a lot of the work to foreign offices. The role of the "responsible professionals" is simply to oversee the work. The only thing stopping the complete outsourcing of construction engineering in the US is the fact that all 50 states still require that someone who calls himself an "engineer" and who practices in the U.S. must be registered as a P.E.

One other observation about outsourcing construction: One of the main reasons for the housing boom, in my opinion, was the fact that one couldn't buy a house made in China and have it shipped to the U.S. The construction boom was the one thing that couldn't easily be outsourced. But a partial outsourcing occurred anyway through the use of illegal immigrants for a lot of the grunt work - framing carpentry, masonry, drywall hanging, landscaping, etc. It's all part of the strategy of the rich masters of our economy: maximize profits by minimizing costs (use slave labor to make junk, pay very little, and finance the needs of the poor by steering them into a debt-based lifestyle).

There are some jobs going back to the US. Boeing recently announced that they were downsizing their operations in Melbourne (australia) and moving it to Sydney and the US.
GM and Ford are in deep sh*t in Australia with more job losses announced here in Australa this past week.
As far as whether US manufacturing is or isn't genuine American I can remember years ago when an American buyer purchased a Caterpiller Dozer over a Komatsu and then found out the Caterpiller was made in Japan (and the Komatsu in the US).

Generally I don't go in for ad hominem attacks, but I'm going to have to call you an ----- for saying that software isn't manufacturing. It is. Whether it's control software for a rolling mill, or for a blood cell analyser, or for a nuclear reactor, it is manufacturing. My dad has done all three.
Some software companies are service companies, but the software itself is a manufactured product in the way that a french fries broiler at McDonalds is a manufactured product. It saves you time, energy, or raw materials just the way any other piece of machinery would.

You are right, I believe, about software. I doubled checked sector 44-45 and after re-reading the government-speak I am still fuzzy about what exactly they mean. The author + burning CDs, packaging = manufacturing. Before I retired I worked with several cousins; we wrote & supported software that ran just about anything a small municipality might want to do. Utility Billing, general accounting, city courts, section 8 housing and the like. We didn't burn, package, or manufacture software like Microsoft. I believe Microsoft is a manufacturer of software according to the government. I'm not sure we would be considered one.

Counting software as manufacturing doesn't detract from Boudreaux's argument. Check out how many people are employed by Oracle, Microsoft, and Electronic Arts, for that matter. Personally I would think most would prefer their child or grandchildren to work manufacturing software for Bill Gates than working on the line for GM.

Personally I would think most would prefer their child or grandchildren to work manufacturing software for Bill Gates than working on the line for GM.

Maybe the average American would. But many of us here think manufacturing "real things" is where the future is, because peak oil will mean the end of globalization.

Leanan, I have been reading The Oil Drum for a number of years and I am well aware of how you see the future. I have no desire to open another can of worms. Needless to say you and I don't necessarily see the future with quite the same eye. Just for the record I believe there is a finite supply of oil and there will be changes in how the world does things in the future.

What you cite is software for specific hardware, and in those cases I would agree - but I also think that software is included (in some form) to the final product (and thus part of the "manufacturing output" anyway. In short - those are bad examples.

A lot of software shouldn't be counted (like games), or should have a severely reduced impact (Vista). How the hell do you calculate the GDP of Linux for example? Linux is now on most embedded consumer devices (Linksys, D-Link - where software is again included in the final product), and major players of the Internet (Google, Youtube, etc). And the usual business model is software as a service. No stand-alone software should be considered manufacturing unless is attached directly to a hardware device. Most certainly not manufacturing, in my humble opinion.

And this is exactly my job - working on such software, and adding value, I think.

Either way, it's incredibly difficult to calculate. In my opinion the data on the workforce for such things is probably the best route - instead of GDP - however imperfect it may be.

I work for a small software company that develops a niche market application that is used by small to midsize manufacturing companies. We think of ourselves as developers and producers of an absolutely essential product for these companies. While we don't think of ourselves as manufactures of software our customers consider our product to be an integral part of their production process. Our product is as real to them as their machinery.

I would agree with you. Hamburger flipping is not manufacturing. Note that this was a nit-wit idea being bounced around by some of your esteemed colleagues in the economics community.

David Huether, chief economist for the National Association of Manufacturers, said he had heard that some economists wanted to count hamburger flipping as manufacturing, which he noted would produce statistics showing more jobs in what has been a declining sector of the economy.

That is a really good point. There was an article a few years back about an earth quake in Taiwan shutting down a company that sells (or manufactures forgot that part)computers in Texas for a few weeks. I could easily see the Strait of Malacca being closed by pirates suffocating American Electronic Manufacturing.

P.S. Sorry for being a jaggoff to you the other day a story came up in the paper in my hometown about a guy shooting his wife and killing himself a few months after buying a gun They were in their 20's and he had been suicidal for the last five months. There was no excuse for me blasting you.

I don't have a link but I think we are well past the point where it would have cost less to simply buy all of Iraq's oil than to invade.

Jim Kingsdale on 'Seeking Alpha' is explicitly utilising your ELM :

You are getting really mainstream!

The real news is that something as elementary as the ELM is news in the first place. World net oil exports, IMO, should have been the #1 story in the world a long time ago. The Economist Magazine, in an article about Saudi Arabia published in August, 2006, had the following remarkable statement (note that they did not even consider rising consumption in Saudi Arabia to be a relevant topic):

Saudi Aramco's proved reserves alone could keep the world supplied for several decades. But it is only exploiting ten of its 80 or so fields, so it will be able to pump at the present rate for about 70 years (out to 2075) even if it never discovers another drop of oil.

Just to meet absurdity with absurdity, at Saudi Arabia's current rate of increase consumption, they would be consuming 154 mbpd in 2075, versus their 2005 total liquids production rate of 11.1 mbpd.

To match your absurdity, at current trends China would be consuming the other 154 mbpd in 2075 so hopefully global production will be 308 to keep those two happy.

A peculiar form of madness: Dubai Ski World;

IMO, this image crystallizes the ELM into a soundbite.


I don't know if this has been posted, but it's an interesting article about Saudi Arabia trying to secure their future food supplies. Interesting change of tone by the Economist Magazine. I like the part about the Saudis "monopolising and limiting" their oil production--kind of the same way that the UK "monopolized and limited" their North Sea production.

Saudi Arabia: Buying the farm
Aug 21st 2008
Feeding its own people more cheaply

WHILE Saudi Arabia sets up its first sovereign wealth fund, ordinary Saudis are more preoccupied with the rising price of food. This is prompting the Saudi government to consider a new direction for foreign investment: buying farms in the poorer parts of the world. . .

If Saudis owned farms abroad, they might be more confident about the security of their food supplies. As well as injecting capital, the kingdom could also offer cheap fertiliser, which it can produce by using subsidised gas. But Saudi investors may be resented for buying up primary commodities from poor countries, while monopolising and limiting the output of their own special one: oil.

This item made me think of the resentment shown to British buyers of prime US ranch and farm land during the post Civil War years.

That is getting uncomfortably close to that old phrase "a snowball's chance in hell"

Burj Dubai: future world's tallest building
at lest until some other Arab country tops them

more images here

Ozymandius by: Percy Bysshe Shelley

There are nice excerpts about the neocon 'logic' for intelligence, strategy and denial of reality in the book Black mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia by the London School of Economics prof of European Thought, John Gray.

The thing works a bit like the 60's ideological blind chess games at RAND: assume an ideological position of the enemy, deduce from that what they will do, use that as intelligence and proof, and ignore any and all data from the real world from real field operatives. Plan, prepare and execute. If things fail, blame it on the evil-doers :)

A strategy similar to this employed by the neocons during the Reagan administration (and described in the documentary The Power of Nightmares) went like this: 1) We surmise that the Russians have developed a missile defense system due to our understanding of their technical capabilities and strategic incentive to do so, however 2) we can find no evidence of such a system, therefore 3) they must have developed a super-duper secret and sophisticated system which has evaded detection by US intelligence.


VO: The neoconservatives chose, as the inquiry chairman, a well-known critic and historian of the Soviet Union called Richard Pipes. Pipes was convinced that whatever the Soviets said publicly, secretly they still intended to attack and conquer America. This was their hidden mindset. The inquiry was called Team B, and the other leading member was Paul Wolfowitz.

Professor RICHARD PIPES: And the idea was then to appoint a group of outside experts who have access to the same evidence as the CIA used to arrive at these conclusions, and to see if they could come up with different conclusions. And I was asked to chair it, because I was not an expert on nuclear weapons. I was, if anything, an expert on the Soviet mindset, but not on the weapons. But that was the real key, was the question of the Soviet mindset, because the CIA looked only at—they were known as “bean counters,” always looking at weapons. But weapons can be used in various ways. They can be used for defensive purposes or offensive purposes. Well, all right, I collected this group of experts, and we began to sift through the evidence.

VO: Team B began examining all the CIA data on the Soviet Union. But however closely they looked, there was little evidence of the dangerous weapons or defense systems they claimed the Soviets were developing. Rather than accept that this meant that the systems didn’t exist, Team B made an assumption that the Soviets had developed systems that were so sophisticated, they were undetectable. For example, they could find no evidence that the Soviet submarine fleet had an acoustic defense system. What this meant, Team B said, was that the Soviets had actually invented a new non-acoustic system, which was impossible to detect. And this meant that the whole of the American submarine fleet was at risk from an invisible threat that was there, even though there was no evidence for it.

Reminds me of the not-so-old joke that goes something like this:

The British dig 20 feet under London, find copper wires, claim to have invented the telephone.

In response, the Germans dig 30 feet under Berlin, find glass strands, claim to have invented fiber optics communications.

The Russians then dig 40 feet under Moscow, find NOTHING AT ALL, claim to have invented cellphones.

May we continue the evidence-based discussion here on TOD... ;-)

I agree. Their actions make no sense otherwise. Any idiot knows a nation/empire cannot overreach, yet here we are. Any idiot knows a negative savings rate is a disaster, yet here we are. Any idiot knows war spending, after an initial boost, eventually drags on the economy, yet here we are. Any idiot knows tax breaks for the rich do not trickle down, yet here we are. Any idiot knows tax breaks while raiding the treasury is idiocy, yet here we are.

And, we know they are Peak Oil aware because Cheney outlined the issue in 1999, everything they did wrt Iraq was about the oil, etc., and here we are.

Wasn't it Cheney who said deficits don't matter? Of course they matter! ...if you're going to be paying off your debts.


Bernanke: Financial storm not yet over

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Friday that the problems in the nation's financial markets persist and still threaten the economy.

Bernanke said that the financial woes, coupled with record oil prices and the weakening economy, had created "one of the most challenging economic and policy environments in memory."

In prepared remarks at a conference in Jackson Hole, Wyo., Bernanke also said he is encouraged by the recent oil price decline, which may signal that inflationary pressures are on the wane.

Heh, I guess it's not possible to hide the truth :)

Level 3 assets for most US banks are still at really high levels compared to all assets

Mohammed el-Ariani thinks the credit crunch is only getting started and spreading

John Authers thinks 2009 will be worse than 2008

And everybody remembers those coming Alt-A resets/recasts for 2009, most insurance finance houses haven't even started posting losses yet and we haven't really started talking about RBMS bomb yet.

Now that real productive economy is also slowing worldwide in the developing world, my totally amateur arm-chair guess is that it's going to get significantly worse until it gets even steady, not to mention better.

The good thing is that relatively speaking this will cut into some of the oil use and give us a little breather - compared to if we had the same kind of growth boom as in the past 5 years.

relatively speaking this will cut into some of the oil use

A cut in oil use is what to expect after peak oil production/consumption - once we go past the peak we have to make do with less in oil importing countries since we can no longer afford to purchase as much as we used to.

Using less may or may not be a 'little breather' since it will likely go on and on and on - it probably will look like a recession even though it is oil induced.

The poorest countries in the world use little oil already but these are the people being priced out of the market at present - consider what it would mean to lose a large percentage of your oil consumption.

EIA data shows several countries in the world are already in this 'post-peak' situation, so it's probably a good idea to watch what they are doing and try and learn from their mistakes if possible.

Well, if they repudiate military pensions DC is going to look worse then the post office.

Re: China warns on winter energy supply (link uptop)


CERA (12/05):
"Rather than a 'peak,' we should expect an 'undulating plateau' perhaps three or four decades from now."

"Contrary to the theory, oil production shows no signs of a peak... Oil is a finite resource, but because it is so incredibly large, a peak will not occur this year, next year, or for decades to come"

OPEC (7/06):
"We in Opec do not subscribe to the peak-oil theory."

Regarding "No signs of a peak," taking EIA C+C monthly data (subject to revision) at face value, the cumulative shortfall--between what the world would have produced at the 5/05 rate and what we actually produced--increased in the second half of 2005, throughout 2006, throughout 2007, and through May, 2008 (albeit at a low rate in 2008), despite the highest nominal oil prices in history.

In the end, the primary difference between those that accept the urgency of Peak Oil and the deniers (you list above) is the conflation of the physical oil underground and the cost of growing/maintaining the flow rates. This disparity in something so basic is wide and going to surprise a lot of smart people who should have known better.

A lesser but also important difference is that the deniers were more famous, confident and well-funded, to societies detriment.

The China article reminds me of this excerpt from "Atlas Shrugged," (small irony, Rand was a cornucopian):

"Account Overdrawn," from "Atlas Shrugged," by Ayn Rand:

Winter had come early, in the last days of November. People said that it was the hardest winter on record and that no one could be blamed for the unusual severity of the snowstorm. They did not care to remember that there had been a time when snowstorms did not sweep, unresisted, down unlighted roads, and upon the roofs of unheated houses, did not stop the movement of trains, did not leave behind a wake of corpses counted in the hundreds.

I finally got around to reading that one recently. Strange ending, happy but sad..... like "all is lost and everything is gained". Struck me as a 1950's anticommunism rant also.

Your quote reminds me that cognitive dissonance seems to be appearing all over the place lately, some willful.

The truly sad part of that is that the folks who most ardently claim to follow her ideal are the ones who have strayed most dramatically from it. I have yet to meet a self-avowed Randian who was actively involved in actually producing anything.

So Petrologistics (above) say OPEC supply is rising in August but Oil Movements last quoted report suggested a decline. Hmm..

Yet Tanker rates are still plummeting even after tanker owners ordered them to slow down and are at their lowest for the year.

Has someone started up an oil teleport system to bypass the tankers?

Has someone started up an oil teleport system to bypass the tankers?

No, but the difference between production and tankers could be domestic consumption. Or refilling the tank farms.

IIRC, that is the difference between Petrologistics and Oil Movements. One estimates production, the other tracks exports.

Also, one predicts future production, the other estimates current production.

But most of the increase is accounted for by this statement from the quoted article.

(Iran) Output in August is forecast to rebound to 4.05 million bpd from 3.65 million bpd in July due to higher sales, Gerber said.

That seems to indicate real shipments - not production into storage.

Whatever the reason, it's not unusual for the oil forecasters to disagree, or to end up being extremely wrong.

Heck, even here in the US...the API and the EIA numbers often diverge.

Not to mention the TRRC and EIA figures!

Also, no one, insofar as I know, tracks monthly refined product imports into OPEC countries.

Re: Making Terra Preta Soil: Ramona's Recipe for Home-Made Dirt

Crushing or grinding charcoal, storebought or self-made is a messy, laborious and potentially deadly exercise.
For a meaningful amount required to add to a garden I quickly abandoned the authors method in favor of using a ball mill that I constructed from a light duty cement mixer.
The danger lies in the charcoal dust, it gets airborn in the slightest breeze requiring the use of a respirator.
In a confined space I imagine the charcoal dust could ignite causing a flash fire or possibly an explosion.
Charcoal was a component of gunpowder, I believe.

Also the addition of fertilizers, organic or otherwise doesn't replicate the results one can achieve if the charcoal is added to an active, aerobic compost pile prior to internment as you had posted earlier:

In a confined space I imagine the charcoal dust could ignite causing a flash fire or possibly an explosion.
Charcoal was a component of gunpowder, I believe.

This puts the barbecue into the term "backyard barbecue". Or, with enough charcoal, perhaps one could have a neighborhood barbecue.

I got interested in terra preta about four years ago. It was summer when I couldn't burn so I bought 150# of mesquite charcoal at the farm supply. I tried breaking it up with a metal tamper on the concrete floor of my shop without success. I finally put it through our chipper (outside) and it was just like they described - I looked like a coal miner.

However, I have an advantage since I heat with wood that I cut on our property. There is always a lot of little slash (I use everything down to about 1") that has to be burned to get rid of it. I now make little ~6x6x6' piles rather then one big one which is too hot to get near. As my little fire burns I rush forward (the fire IS still hot) and rake out the glowing coals and shovel them into a covered metal pail. Since the pieces are small, I can break them up in the pail with a pointed spade. They are further broken up when I run a mini-tiller through them when they are added to the beds. This has worked well for me.

I'm sold on terra preta.


PS Somewhere in TODs archives is a post of mine about "Todd's Black Gold Method."

The danger lies in the charcoal dust

Why not just add a little water?

Ball mills work better with slurries than with dry material...IIRC in a ball mill dry material tends to "classify itself and "avoid" the balls. I would think a slurry would be easier to distribute to the garden as well.

Thanks for the tip.
Charcoal is extremely hydrophobic, probably due to the large surface area it contains.
The link I reposted above, mentions that months of incorporation with an active compost pile saturates the char as well as giving microbes time to colonize.
Perhaps tumbling in the mill will not only help to keep the dust down but speed the water uptake as well.
I'll let you know.

Charcoal is still used in gunpowder.

Front page news on today's Independent.

The population timebomb

Dramatic evidence of Britain's rapidly ageing population emerged yesterday as figures showed that the number of pensioners now exceeds those under 16 for the first time.

The landmark demographic shift promises a future of pension shortfalls, a greater burden on the NHS and steadily increasing retirement ages. The research, from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), was held up as proof of Britain's failure to prepare for an era when the over-80s represent the fastest-growing section of the population. The nation's make-up has shifted dramatically in 40 years.

In 1971, a quarter of the nation was under 16, while 15 per cent were of pensionable age. Now, 11,561,500 people are of retirement age – 19 per cent of the population. And crucially, there are 52,000 more pensioners than under-16s. The annual growth rate in the number of people reaching retirement age, which had stayed at less than 1 per cent for 26 years, has doubled in the past year to nearly 2 per cent.

The over-80s are the most rapidly expanding demographic, making up 4.5 per cent of the population, compared to 2.8 per cent in 1981.

Will having an aging population to support make it much harder to finance all that new post-peak infrastructure? How long before average life expectancy begins to decline significantly? Will I ever be able to retire? :(

As others have pointed out, retirement is an odd anomaly in human history.

The aging population is a good thing. It means the population growth rate is slowing. Yes, there are problems that go with that, and the government is likely to see it as a negative rather than a positive. They're the ones running the pyramid scheme, after all. But it can't go on forever, and it's probably better to end it sooner than later.

Leanan, I believe you're right: population reduction is for the best in the longer term, but getting to a lower population level won't be pretty. The current set-up has no long-term (maybe even short-term?) future, especially as the 'baby boomers' are now entering retirement age: it's another one of those things that will make a smooth transition into a new paradigm even more unlikely. I suspect a lot of people will be very confused/angry when the future they were promised simply fails to materialise. I see care for the elderly becoming more of a family affair, as it was in the past, with people having less access to the drugs and technologies which currently extend old age for many.

For the record, I'm currently in my mid-twenties and I'm not expecting to have any kind of 'retirement' (if I even live that long).

I see care for the elderly becoming more of a family affair, as it was in the past, with people having less access to the drugs and technologies which currently extend old age for many.

Yes, I see that as likely, too.

Though that might put pressure on people to have more kids. It's a problem they're facing now in China, with the one-child policy. Couples are now finding themselves having to care for two sets of parents, which is a serious burden.

If your "retirement" is your children, you will probably want to have more...just in case.

Around here, only a couple of generations ago, it was customary among certain ethnic groups that one child (often the youngest daughter) did not marry, so she could care for her parents.


China's situation is even a little more convoluted. I adopted my daughter in China in 2000 and got to see their cultural attitude first hand. The one child policy has led to the abandonment of many baby girls who are born first. In Chinese society the boy is expected to care for his parents eventually. His wife will also help him care for HIS parents. The girl's parents are not considered the responsibility of her and the husband. Essentially a boychild is their social security system. Thus they commonly abandone girls if they are the first or second born. The girls are, essentially, of little to no value in the parent's future retirement plan.

The youngest child would not marry and stay home and take care of the parents. In return, she would inheirit the family home and mortgage that to pay for her retirement.
My granduncle Paul agreed to take care of the old folks when all the rest of the kids moved out, and was going to get the farm and house in return. Both my great grandparents died quickly without needing long term care, so he sold the house and farm and divided up the money among the other granduncles and grandaunts (and my grandparent) of that branch of the family. Grandpa and grandma used the money to buy the farm in the Imperial Valley that my father grew up on.

In my grandparent's generation (1890s) seven was the typical family size (if they survived childhood).

In my parents, and my generation, 1 - 3.

I am 46. My generation has fathered one child between four of us.

We are doing our bit to reduce overpopulation, but I don't think I will be collecting a pension.

Amazing. My two sets of grandparents had 8 kids total (10 if you count half siblings). My parents' generation had 5. My generation has 0 so far. I'm mid thirties, and I'm the oldest.

Bloomberg: South Africa to Curb Uranium Exports to Ensure Supply

I wonder how soon these beginnings of resource 'hoarding' nationalism will spill over into the non-energy sectors? e.g. basic industry and import substitution (reversal of globalization to avert shortfall risk)

This is a link to Bloomberg's article;

South Africa to Curb Uranium Exports to Ensure Supply

I agree with Nate. I think we are going to see more and more hoarding of a variety of materials that are in short supply. This will lead to more Liebig's minimum situations for those thought they could import everything they needed.

Found out something interesting about Google News: when you search the archives for articles, you can display them in a timeline form. This is the result with searching for "fuel shortage":

I was looking for that feaature, it's in the news archive in fact:


Yeah, I took a gander at the results for "peak oil" too. Unfortunately contemporary blogs that mention a date in the past get counted as hits on that date, making it hard to find the earliest real uses of the term.

It's interesting how stories mentioning "fuel shortage" seem to be on the increase for some reason...

From the "San Francisco Ponders: Could Bike Lanes Cause Pollution?"

Is it just me or will some people oppose anything? Its no wonder that infrastucture is falling to pieces or gets built anymore. The attitude of some NIMBYs is really amazing.

Re: Golden image of corn ethanol shows some erosion.

I can not let Bob Christensen get away with the hypocrisy of his comments in the article.

Christensen Farms is a large local hog factory promoter/employer with over 150,000 sows producing piglets which are shipped around Minnesota and Iowa for growing in hog factories six of which surround my home place. They are a stinking environmental disaster.

Not only that Christensen Farms is nearly finished erecting a giant $15 million feed mill and distribution facility only 3 miles away from my home farm. A worker with a Spanish surname fell 150 feet to his death while the cement towers were being poured earlier this spring.

It sticks up out of the corn fields along with the hundreds of FPL's wind turbines. These two projects have turned the local countryside upside down. The traffic is unbelievable and the quiet pleasant even scenic view is gone for good.

In the article Bob Christensen bemoans ethanol's affect on his hog factories. Poor baby. He cares little for the effect his hog factories have on those around them who have to breath air borne pig poop. Nor does he care for the thousands of small hog farmers he put out of business with the resulting denuding of farmsteads from the rural landscape.

He rightly says food prices will rise and people will be shocked. There is no way we can have high oil prices and cheap food prices as many posters here over the years have pointed out since modern food production is oil dependant.

It is not ethanol's fault. It is Peak Oil. It seems that oil producers never have to take the blame for the lack of oil supply or high oil prices. Nor do they have to share their bonanza with anyone else. They are untouchable and above it all for some reason.
But ethanol producers seem to be more vulnerable and are attacked with abandon.

Christensen's final quote where he says that those who's business depends on subsidies should not be surprised when they fail because of the good times on the way up is so hypocritical that it makes me gag. Christensen Farms was able to grow for years due to corn subsidies that made crazy expansion of hog factories possible. Without the decades of high corn subsidies and low corn prices Bob Christensen would not be the multi-millionaire that he is.

Now that he has to pay a more fair price for corn to feed his energy wasting hogs he doesn't like it. He blames ethanol for his own failed business plan which was founded on cheap subsidized corn. His $15 million erection sticking out of the plain of North Central Iowa will be a cock up of monumental proportions.

Precisely how many cents/lb of pork does the US Treasury subsidize hog producers ?

And how many lbs of pork are USA consumers required to eat ? (Perhaps vegetarians get an exemption).

And how high is the tariff on imported bacon ?

Get rid of the 51 cents/gallon subsidy for corn ethanol and the requirements to sell adulterated gasoline and I will stop much of my criticism of corn ethanol.


Well, let's see. That pound of bacon represents 3.6 lbs of corn. The hog producers Were buying it at about a $.02/lb subsidy for a long time. So, a two hundred pound hog was getting about a $14.00 subsidy.

A "Hog King" that was moving 100,000 Hogs/yr would be getting about $1,400,000.00/yr in subsidies, I figure. 30 years, $42 Million. And, there's a Lot of hog "kings." And, Chicken "kings," and cow kings, etc.

Merril Lynch figures Ethanol is knocking about $20.00 off the price of a barrel of oil. I think this breaks down into a savings of something like $70 Billion/Yr for American Consumers. Not a bad price to pay for having the price of a hamburger go up a nickel.

Tell me how you're going to be able to make the oil companies blend ethanol without the mandates. The same way you were going to get AT&T to lease lines to 3rd party vendors like MCI. You're not.

As for subsidies: Why not ask the oil companies to give back the $32 Billion Tax Credits they're taking advantage of.

(I'm not American, I'm just hoping Britain keeps pulling back from food to fuel jiggery-pokery.)

One point that aren't making is that whatever the "$X saving/Yr" isn't spread equally between consumers, it's redistribution from those that drive less to those that drive more. That may be the policy goal one wants (particularly for politicians if they're a vocal voting group), but to come out with one undifferentiated figure for "American consumers" gives a misleading impression.

The supposed "corn subsidy" was going to those welfare queens, the corn farmers, not the honest hog farmers, who get no subsidy.

I was always against farm subsidies anyway as part of BAU (MAYBE drought insurance). Beef farmers do as well with no subsidies as dairy farmers with massive subsidies and price controls (to keep the price of milk high for consumers).

Competition will get some gasoline sellers (say WalMart, etc.) *IF* there is demand for diluted adulterated gasoline (I would not buy any).

There is no national benefit to corn ethanol, so if zero is sold, well OK :-)

You "$70 billion" savings is absolute "corn processed at a feedlot", but the I do know that the increase in the price of milk ALONE is costing me more than the increase in the price of diesel in 2008.

Best Hopes for an End to Farm Welfare,


"IF* there is demand for diluted adulterated gasoline (I would not buy any)."

Why not? Ethanol is the best fuel there is for IC engines -- runs cooler and cleaner, engines running on straight ethanol will last 3X as long as those running on gasoline. Ethanol is great, I love it -- I run E85 in my '91 Toyota 4x4, no modifications, and no, it is not a "flex-fuel" vehicle. I'm planning on modifying it at bit, however, by adding a turbo and a Megasquirt computer so I can run straight ethanol and get the full benefit of it's 125 octane.
Of course, making corn from ethanol is just plain stupid -- it's only because of the massive subsidies that corn "farmers" get that anyone thought of using it for ethanol -- there are many much more efficient feedstocks. Corn maybe will give you 300-400 gallons an acre with huge fossil-fuel fertilizer inputs. Cattails will give you 1500 gallons an acre with no inputs, only plant once, no herbicides or insecticides. Buffalo gourd will give you 800-1000 gallons an acre in dry sandy areas.
OTOH, back before they started making ethanol out of corn and biodiesel out of soybeans (another idiotic feedstock), those crops were just piled up and left to rot because so much was produced for the subsidies and no market for it.

Issues with long term storage and water accumulation (I do not drive much, filled up in January & June this year, in a VERY humid climate). One of several reasons I drive a diesel.

Lower energy/volume (how far can you go in stop & go traffic for 8 to 16 hours during an evac ? Refueling is simply not an option. Run out of gas, then try & hitch a ride).

I have moral objections to burning food.


"Issues with long term storage and water accumulation" -- is a myth propagated by Big Oil.
"One of several reasons I drive a diesel." --- fossil diesel has those problems as well, algae starts growing in tank, etc. BTW, diesels run fine on ethanol with a 20% biodiesel mix.

"I have moral objections to burning food" - I have moral objections to eating oil. The best way to produce ethanol is to use non-food crops like cattails and buffalo-gourd. Or even sugarcane, sorghum, jerusalem artichokes. But the thing is, that even if you make it out of corn -- whatever feedstock you make it out of, you still have just as much food left when you're done. There is no food lost in ethanol production. In fact you take a really crappy food like corn -- starch and sugar -- remove those and turn that into alcohol by fermentaion with yeast, and what you have left over is a much more nutrious food, very high protein and very digestible. Corn makes cattle sick, they were not evolved to eat it. Spent mash however makes them gain 17% more weight and gain it faster than the original corn.
There a lot of lies being propagated by Big Oil, they even pay crooked scientists like David Pimental to do fake studies on corn/ethanol. And pay the MSM to promote those lies.

Just a ethanol propagandist.

E10 does pick up water easily and that is why it cannot be pipelined (ethanol must be separately railed (or barged) and mixed locally with pure gasoline to make E10; more energy input than pipelines), E10 would not be safe to use if one only fills up every 5 or 6 months and lives in a humid environment, as I do.

There is no food lost in ethanol production.

BS !! Cows can use, and put on weight, with the same sugars and starches that yeast metabolize into ethanol.

Distillers grains have low limits on how much cattle, hogs and chickens can eat (and the USA is nearing those limits). Unsure about catfish. Corn is not perfect but large volumes of distillers grains give cattle scours (diarrhea).

Best Hopes for no more corn ethanol,


David Pimental is honorable, you are just a shill.

"E10 does pick up water easily and that is why it cannot be pipelined (ethanol must be separately railed (or barged) and mixed locally with pure gasoline to make E10; more energy input than pipelines), E10 would not be safe to use if one only fills up every 5 or 6 months and lives in a humid environment, as I do."

More nonsense -- before E10 came along, everyone who lived in a northern area regularly added "heat" -- alcohol -- to their gas tank to get rid of water and prevent gasline freeze. Ethanol absorbs the water and lets it mix easily with the gas and then get burned up.

"S !! Cows can use, and put on weight, with the same sugars and starches that yeast metabolize into ethanol."

Cows get very sick from eating the amounts of corn they are normally fed in feedlots, some die, many need vet help. It's not only extremely common, it's a given.
"So most people think of a cow as something that's out grazing, and then is taken to the slaughterhouse.

... No, not true. Cows see very little grass nowadays in their lives. They get them on corn as fast as they can, which speeds up their lifespan, gets them really fat, and allows you to slaughter them within 14 months.

The problem with this system, or one of the problems with this system, is that cows are not evolved to digest corn. It creates all sorts of problems for them. The rumen is designed for grass. And corn is just too rich, too starchy. So as soon as you introduce corn, the animal is liable to get sick.

It creates a whole [host] of changes to the animal. So you have to essentially teach them how to eat corn. You teach their bodies to adjust. And this is done in something called the backgrounding pen at the ranch, which is kind of the prep school for the feedlot. Here's where you teach them how to eat corn.

You start giving them antibiotics, because as soon as you give them corn, you've disturbed their digestion, and they're apt to get sick, so you then have to give them drugs. That's how you get in this whole cycle of drugs and meat. By feeding them what they're not equipped to eat well, we then go down this path of technological fixes, and the first is the antibiotics. Once they start eating the [corn], they're more vulnerable. They're stressed, so they're more vulnerable to all the different diseases cows get. But specifically they get bloat, which is just a horrible thing to happen. They stop ruminating.

You have the image of a cow on grass of the cow ruminating, which is chewing its cud and burping a lot. In fact, a lot of greenhouse gases come out of the stock as methane emerges from their mouth as they eructate -- it's a technical term. And they bring down saliva in this process, and it keeps their stomach very base rather than acid.

So you put in the corn, and this layer of slime forms over the rumen. You've got to picture the rumen. It's a 45-gallon fermentation tank. It's essentially fermenting the grass. Suddenly your slime forms and the gas can't escape, and the rumen just expands like a balloon. It's pressing against the lungs and the heart, and if nothing is done, the animal suffocates.

So what is done is, if you catch it in time, you stick a hose down the esophagus and you release the gas and maybe give the animal some hay or grass, and it's a lot healthier. But it's one of the things that happens to cows on corn. ...

Not all cows get bloat. They're prone to bloat. It's a serious problem on feedlots. They also get acidosis, which is an acidifying of the rumen. ... And when the animals get acid stomach, it's a really bad case of heartburn, and they go off their feed. Eventually, if you give them too much corn too quickly, it ulcerates the rumen; bacteria escape from the rumen into the blood stream, and end up in the liver, creating liver abscesses.

What do we do about that? Another antibiotic. ... Most cows on feedlots eating this rich diet of corn are prone to having their livers damaged. So to prevent that, or limit the incidence of liver disease, we have to give them another antibiotic."


"David Pimental is honorable, you are just a shill."

Pimental was exposed by the great investigative journalist Jack Anderson as being a paid, salaried employee of Mobile Oil at the time he did his supposed research on ethanol. Pimental was also hauled before a Senate committee headed by George McGovern investing his lies. Pimental admitted he was a Mobil Oil employee, later Mobile Oil took out a full-page ad admitting and defending their employment of Pimental. Pimental's absurd research has been thoroughly debunked --- read David Blumes book "Alcohol Can Be A Gas", he devoted a chapter to Pimental.


"(how far can you go in stop & go traffic for 8 to 16 hours during an evac ? Refueling is simply not an option. Run out of gas, then try & hitch a ride)."

What is this "evac" crap anyway? Where the heck do you think you are going to be able to "evac" to? When TSHTF, believe me, people in the countryside are going to be coming up short of resources as well, and will not at all welcome huge numbers of urban refugees. Most likely they'll just shoot you for whatever you have -- or just for the way you look or talk. Or maybe just for the hell of it. It might even be organized -- I read a near-future novel awhile back, can't think of the name, but the plot was essentially the local militias doing a lot of "ethnic cleansing" of urban refugees. Or more like "cultural-cleansing". Bosnia comes to post-TSHTF Amerika.

" ... yet who nonetheless talk enthusiastically about the life they expect to lead in a self-sufficient rural lifeboat ecovillage as industrial civilization crashes into ruin a comfortable distance away."

Speaking as a farm boy who is now a city slicker, I always laugh when people tell me how they want to live a self-sufficient life on an acreage. Even in my grandparent's days of homesteading, they still depended on store-bought goods. I think back to my boyhood and remember all the tractors, combines, pickup trucks, grain trucks, power grain augers, dugout pumps, and all the rest that ran on fuel, not to mention that every modern farm is heavily reliant on rural electrification.

If I were to go back to farming, I would try canola, the oil of which can be used as a substitute for diesel at less expense than ethanol.

I like Greer. Of all the peak oil writers, I think his view of the future is the closest to my own.

That said...I don't find his "stories we tell ourselves" scenario that interesting, or that convincing. (For that reason, I probably won't be buying his new book, even though I generally enjoy his writing.)

I've no doubt that cultural narratives influence our thinking, but I don't think he's really got a handle on peak oilers. Yes, there are some who expect to be among the few survivors, blissfully planting corn and milking goats in a new Eden. But IME, those are a distinct minority. A lot more fear greatly that they will not be among the survivors. Expect it, even.

I think his attempts to tie "doomer" beliefs to Christian views of the apocalypse are tenuous, not very convincing, and not terribly useful.

I also like Greer, and while I disagree with some of what he's written, I think there is a lot of wisdom there in general. My disagreements are mainly:

1. In using historical patterns as a guide, I'm not convinced that he's properly taking into account the difference that fossil fuels have made. There is certainly much to be learned by looking at how things have happened before, and understanding that in many ways we are not unique, but FF have allowed an incredible acceleration on the way up - could that not lead to a proportionate acceleration on the way down? In other words, one could argue that things actually HAVE been very different this time around, due to the discovery of how to extract the energy of fossil fuels, and therefore the decline may be different too.

2. I'll agree that mythic narrative may lead to incorrect conclusions if one is not careful - still, that is how people think. Rather than fight against it, maybe it is better to develop a narrative that contains an accurate portrayal. If it leads to a useful understanding and behaviors that are beneficial, then what does it hurt? As Greer has pointed out, religions have used the tool for ages to encode behaviors considered desirable.

But overall, I think his latest article is very good, even if he perhaps overdoes it in his portrayal of peak oil adherents. I experience this continually, where events seem to happen at once incredibly slowly and amazingly fast. Each day is not that much different from the one before, but look back a couple of years and the world is vastly changed. I do not expect to see the end of the movie, which is difficult because it's an incredible story and I'd love to know how it's going to turn out.

There is certainly much to be learned by looking at how things have happened before, and understanding that in many ways we are not unique, but FF have allowed an incredible acceleration on the way up - could that not lead to a proportionate acceleration on the way down?

Maybe...but so far, it's not happening. Instead, BAU is still prevailing, more or less. Bernanke is somehow keeping all the balls in the air, when many thought it would be all over by now. And that seems to hold true for other elements of our FF-dependent life.

And not just here. Even in the hardest hit places, like Zimbabwe, BAU is continuing.

I'll agree that mythic narrative may lead to incorrect conclusions if one is not careful - still, that is how people think.

I'm not sure I buy that. Narrative, yes, but mythic, I dunno.

Honestly, I think most Americans are more influenced by what they see on TV than by religion. Hence our tendency to believe things will happen fast (for good or ill). The story has to wind up by the end of the hour.

We share the same religion as most of Europe, but the European view of peak oil tends to be quite different. Cultural differences, definitely, but not necessarily religious in origin.

But, I, too, quite liked his latest article. It reminded me a bit of Connie Willis' "Daisy, In the Sun." Even in the face of the most momentous of tragedies, the business of life goes on...even the tedious and trivial bits.

Maybe...but so far, it's not happening. Instead, BAU is still prevailing, more or less. Bernanke is somehow keeping all the balls in the air, when many thought it would be all over by now. And that seems to hold true for other elements of our FF-dependent life.

True, so far. But so far isn't all that far yet. I have a sense that things are aligning for one of those stair-steps down, but it will be interesting to see how long the momentum of the current system will prevail, and if it results in a local step change or a more gradual transition.

Oh, and I shouldn't have use "mythic" - I meant to describe merely narrative thinking.

I have a sense that things are aligning for one of those stair-steps down, but it will be interesting to see how long the momentum of the current system will prevail, and if it results in a local step change or a more gradual transition.

Greer himself said something similar. That even though he believes the collapse will be slow, there will be some moments that are a lot more exciting than others, and we might be approaching one. (IIRC, he was thinking of the credit crisis, but nothing really came of it, at least as far as the average Joe is concerned. Yet, anyway.)

I have a feeling the longer we manage to put off that stair-step down, the bigger the drop will be.

But who knows when it will happen. Maybe tomorrow. Or maybe I will one day use the IRA I am still investing in.

I think we've already taken a few steps down. I see that quite a few retail stores and restaurants have closed or are about to close permanently. I drove into a large sized town recently to have lunch with a friend; since my last trip there 3 months ago I noticed that the mall parking lot was 2/3rds full instead of being packed during mid-day. The new young co-workers I speak with tend to invest their time in simpler hobbies (i.e., biking, running, etc.) than the co-workers of my generation did (i.e., boats, cars, flying lessons, etc.). The younger folks believe that their retirement pay won't be anywhere that today's retirees get... and they say it too.

But I don't think that's necessarily a sign of the peak oil crash.

We've suffered recessions before, many worse than this one is (so far). Restaurants are always among the first to close their doors. This could be seen as part of the natural business cycle, rather than the first stair step down.

Indeed, I've often wondered if recessions (caused by high oil prices) will disguise the peak so we never know peak oil happened.

In recessions of the sort we have regularly seen in the last 200 years the recession eventually ends with growth to a higher level than before the recession started. Most people thought the housing bubble was 'different this time', but now the crash has started the recovery is expected to be 'just like usual'! ... such is human psychology, ever hopeful!

IMO in the case of a peak oil induced recession, in the absence of an adequate alternative source of energy, any recovery will be to a lower level than before the recession started - a staircase of ever lower steps, deflation, definitely something that economists don't know how to counter, and most definitely not BAU.

So, if the current recesion recovers to a higher level than before we will know we are not yet at peak oil, thank goodness ... time will tell, but how much time will we need? ... I suspect it depends where in the world you live ... and Leanan I can't believe you think there is BAU in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe's annual rate of inflation has surged to 2,200,000% in July 2008, IMO that isn't BAU, even for Zimbabwe.

I'm more worried. One of those "stair steps down" may just be the first step of a stumble down a long flight of steep stairs. Who will be able to get up and dust themselves off at the bottom?

I think his attempts to tie "doomer" beliefs to Christian views of the apocalypse are tenuous, not very convincing, and not terribly useful.

Leanan, I really recommend you read about John Gray's book 'Black Mass', which discuss exactly this issue of Christian ideological heritage of apocalypse, end of history, political progress and utopia.

In New York Times:

The belief in progress is just a secularized form of Christian theodicy, infecting even those minds that otherwise seem combatively atheistic. Apocalyptic impulses are coded into every ideological genome.

And it gets worse. The coming century, Gray argues, will be one of ecological disaster and resource wars; technological improvements that will be promptly turned into instruments of destruction; and mutually reinforcing tendencies toward anarchy and violent order.

In Chronicle:

The worm Christianity planted in the apple 2,000 years ago: the myth of heaven on earth, the belief that either God will swoop down and engineer the perfect world or we'll accomplish it on our own, perhaps peacefully, more likely through a spasm of cleansing violence.

In the 20th century both communism and Nazism warmly embraced the idea of salutary violence. But Gray carries the argument further, arguing that "faith in the liberating power of violence" links both Osama bin Laden and the American architects of the Iraq War to the Jacobins and to the age-old utopian mindset.

Gray is not the first to see the Iraq War as rooted in a naive right-wing utopianism. What's impressive is the way he embeds present political trends in a larger framework going back to the beginnings of Western culture.

In Guardian:

The Enlightenment, Gray's big bugbear, imagined it was rejecting Christianity but "its eschatological hopes did not disappear. They were repressed, only to return as projects of universal emancipation." The utopian right, as he calls it, led by America's neoconservatives, is a modern millenarian movement, and its drive to impose western-style democracy upon the world, a drive towards utopia that came to a juddering halt in Iraq, was as deluded and foolhardy a project as any past scheme to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. Likewise, the "war on terror" is a symptom of a mentality that anticipates an unprecedented change in human affairs - the end of history, the passing of the sovereign state, universal acceptance of democracy, and the defeat of evil. This is the central myth of apocalyptic religion framed in political terms, and the common factor underlying the failed utopian projects of the past decade.

While the above quotes give a taster of the book's arguments, I think they also simplify and even distort the message. The book itself is both an eye opener and a good laugh :)

I find Greer, in general, a much more interesting thinker than Kunstler, though I'll admit to enjoying Kunstler's prose much more.

But this - 'If the scenario I’ve outlined above is anything close to the shape the future holds for us, we can expect to witness economic, social, and political turmoil beyond anything the industrial world has experienced in living memory.' is again just a bit too silly. World War II, especially in places like Japan, Germany, and the Soviet Union, is still in liviing memory, and whether slow crash or fast crash, not too many people in Europe were able to avoid economic, social, or political turmoil.

This remains a problem for me - in general, an American-centric view is simply not representative of the world we live in. The same applies to 'industrial society' - America has a consumer society, arguably the first in history, and has been dismantling many facets of an industrial society for a generation. Facets including unions for workers, education oriented to the demands of industry (no, financial engineering is not an industrial skill, nor is a legal education), or even a basic awareness of the basic physical laws which constitute what most citizens of most industrial societies consider 'reality' - such as evolution being a major component of modern biological science.

I keep watching the number of solar panels, both PV and hot water, grow steadily in the village I live in, along with the number of houses where additional insulation is being added. Wood is being harvested sustainably, and one emphasis is to ensure an adequate drying period (around 2 years), since seasoned dry wood provides considerably more heat - thus requiring less wood to be burned, which is to everyone's benefit.

Our current consumer society is likely to die in our lifetimes, and many people will mourn the passing of a golden age, when buying shoes with a symbol made by semi-slave labor was as easy as swiping a piece of plastic at a counter and then driving home.

This is not quite the same thing as industrial society, however. I do expect the European rail network to keep functioning for generations, for example, even while I realistically question whether America will ever be able to build one equal to what it had in the 1940s. America is not the measure of the world.

'If the scenario I’ve outlined above is anything close to the shape the future holds for us, we can expect to witness economic, social, and political turmoil beyond anything the industrial world has experienced in living memory.' is again just a bit too silly. World War II, especially in places like Japan, Germany, and the Soviet Union, is still in liviing memory, and whether slow crash or fast crash, not too many people in Europe were able to avoid economic, social, or political turmoil.

I am expecting the socioeconomic effects of peak oil to be worse than WWII. Though perhaps not in my lifetime, so perhaps I will not witness it personally.

WWII was part of our rocky transition to the oil economy. I fully expect the transition from the oil economy to be much worse. Simply because it's going the wrong way thermodynamically speaking, and because there's now a lot more people, and lot less resources, and a lot more weapons.

I will only agree that we will undergo massive problems on a scale beyond World War II if we start discussing war here, a subject we pretty much avoid - a very reasonable perspective, I might add.

Peak oil, as such, will lead to lots of changes in America. It is much less likely to lead to huge changes in countries like Germany or Poland. Life will change, of course, and a lot of commonplaces - cheap flights to Spain for the weekend - will disappear. Some other recent commonplaces, like microwaveable frozen prepared food, will also disappear. Along with entire retail chains supporting the consumer society we all believe represents an industrial society.

I remain convinced that Greer simply hasn't lived anywhere that existed before oil, and will be able to survive afterwards.

If German collapse is represented by no more Mercedes speeding down the autobahn, well, then collapse is fairly reasonable to assume. If collapse means that the town I live in will no longer auction off the fruit tree harvests and firewood from its orchards and forests (generally grown without any fertilizers, pesticides, or fuel use beyond that required for chainsaws and small diesel tractors), that is also possible - but it won't be because of peak oil, per se.

It will be something along the lines of how much of the town's forests were clear cut by the French at the end of World War II. And then replanted using 'serf labor' - that is, the inhabitants of the town that could do physical labor were required to spend three days planting trees. And then, Christmas 1999, most of those trees were blown down.

The future will have lots of ups and downs like that - also not really an American perspective.

Which is what Greer's article insightfully explored. I was merely pointing out that the massive destruction of political systems and cities in World War II is still in living memory, and peak oil alone is unlikely to match that.

I was merely pointing out that the massive destruction of political systems and cities in World War II is still in living memory, and peak oil alone is unlikely to match that.

I think Greer is well aware of the magnitude of WWII. But he thinks "worse than WWII in Europe" is likely. He was merely pointing out that even in WWII, people had to be concerned with the day to day business of making a living.

Greer is clearly not talking about "peak oil alone." He's laid out his vision of the future, and it involves massive warfare.

'If the scenario I’ve outlined above is anything close to the shape the future holds for us, we can expect to witness economic, social, and political turmoil beyond anything the industrial world has experienced in living memory.' is again just a bit too silly.

Yes, yes, how silly of so many of us to think that peak oil will have any real dramatic effect on our way of life. We will simply switch to solar panels, wind power and other alternatives and continue business as usual. Yes, denial is nothing more than a river in Africa.

Folks, exported oil will drop to near zero in most of our lifetimes, especially your lifetime Leanan. There are many countries with little or no fossil fuel. These countries, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and many other Asian, European and African countries will be faced with hundreds of millions of starving people. What will they do? Will they just go quietly into that good night? Don't bet on it.

I find it absolutely astonishing the level optimism, the level of near certainty that billions of people will simply find other means of feeding themselves when the resource that currently keeps them alive simply disappears.

Tut, tut, isn't this all just all a bit to silly.

Ron Patterson

Folks, exported oil will drop to near zero in most of our lifetimes, especially your lifetime Leanan.

How do you know?

I could get hit by a bus tomorrow. You aren't expecting oil exports to drop to zero tomorrow, are you?

Well excuse me but I was assuming you would live for at least 25 more years. We do not make projections expecting to get hit by a bus tomorrow. We just buy life insurance and hope and expect that we will not need it until our very old age.

But you got the drift of my post.

And I understand your position Leanan. My three sons have the exact same attitude, "nothing really bad will happen in my lifetime!" I understand, God how could I not understand. I deeply love them and feel for them, and cry for them sometimes. I really wish I could learn the fine art of denial. I would probably drink a lot less if I could.

Ron Patterson

And I understand your position Leanan. My three sons have the exact same attitude, "nothing really bad will happen in my lifetime!"

I don't think you get it. My comment was not trivial. Nor am I thinking as you say your kids think.

We're talking about whether people think they will survive peak oil. I think I may not, and I don't think I'm alone in that. Come on, you're the one always talking about massive dieoff...yet you think I'll live another 25 years? Even without dieoff, I'm not sure I'll live another 25 years. Or even another 5 years. You never know how much time you have.

Really, that's what Greer's article is about. When you're concerned about a big event like peak oil, you tend to forget about all the other things. I could imagine some peak oiler blowing off a colorectal screening or Pap smear because, hey, the end of the world is coming, and besides, I need the money for solar panels. Then dying of cancer, long before peak oil is a serious problem.

I am most certainly not "sure that nothing really bad will happen in my lifetime." Rather, I'm not sure what the future holds. I don't know, and no one else does, either.

Rather, I'm not sure what the future holds. I don't know, and no one else does, either.

That's about as true a statement as there is. While many of us disagree on what we think the future holds, ultimately you are right, none of us know exactly what is going to happen. Table top fusion could be invented tomorrow making the whole energy debate futile, or a undetected meteor could blast the planet apart, who knows.

Sorry Leanan if I misunderstood your post. To be honest I had not read the Greer article. But I will. I will and get back to you tomorrow with any ideas or opinions. Thanks for the exchange.

Ron Patterson

It's really all about rate of change - damn derivative! It's one thing to understand what must ultimately happen with regard to our supplies of oil, coal, and NG, what the impact of the release of the carbon stored there might do, and what that means for our ability to support population. But when and how fast do these changes occur? That is what determines how hard it will be.

Come on, play fair. You know what he meant. If you are in your early forties, statistically speaking you have another 40 years to live. Global oil exports will fall to zero in another 22 years. So unless you are in your sixties or older, you will see the end of exported/imported oil.

Japan & S. Korea import 97% and 99% of their oil and around 70% of their food grains. I am trying to imagine what they will go through in the next 20 years. It will not be BAU for sure.

I know what he meant, but I don't think he knew what I meant.

When I said it may not be in my lifetime, I was emphasizing what I said earlier: many of us don't think we'll necessarily be among the "chosen few" to survive peak oil.

Global oil exports will fall to zero in another 22 years. So unless you are in your sixties or older, you will see the end of exported/imported oil.

I don't think you can say that for certain. That's if current trends continue. Whatever happens, I think we can be fairly sure that current trends will not continue. We've already seen demand drop due to high prices/recession, and I expect that will continue.

Many of the oil-producing countries also import their food, so they cannot let oil exports drop to zero. They will be forced to get their people to conserve, one way or another.

Of course, none of us will live long enough to see how this thing really plays itself out all of the way through. We are talking about one of the epic turning points in human history, the ramifications of which will work its way through human societies for at least a century, and probably for several centuries. Whether it is a fast crash or a slow decline, each of us will be exiting the movie long before the credits start rolling.

I think that there is a lot of talking past each other here due to different people being focused on different time horizons. Some people are looking at the big picture over the next century or more, while others are focused more on what is going to happen over the next decade or two.

For myself, I know that even under the very best of scenarios, the chances of my living past 2050 are vanishingly remote. Even the odds of living much past 2030 are against me, not even taking into account all the many ways that life could and probably will become worse. I don't have kids either, so for me personally, I only need to seriously concern myself with a time horizon that goes out to 2030 -2050 at the max. That is not to say I am uninterested in what happens after that; it is interesting to speculate, but it is also purely an intellectual exercise, because it won't impact me one way or the other.

On the other hand, just like Leanan said, I could get struck by a car and killed walking home tonight. Or maybe the fast crash dieoff doomers are right, and I'll be murdered by a looter in the next couple of years as civilization is disintegrating around me. Who knows?

I DO know that it is actually a lot more difficult to try to plan and prepare for the slow decline scenario. If the fast crash happens, then for me, at least, it probably won't be survivable. Thus, I don't really worry myself about that scenario. If it comes, it comes, and I'll cope as best as I can up to the end.

Dealing with a society that is in long term decline, with an economy that is suffering chronic breakdown - that is a more difficult challenge, though. It is quite possible to have to live through that for years, even for the rest of my life. Planning and preparing in the face of the huge uncertainties we might be facing under that scenario is quite difficult.


'it is actually a lot more difficult to try to plan and prepare for the slow decline scenario. If the fast crash happens, then for me, at least, it probably won't be survivable.'

i agree, but if prepping for fast crash is a lot easier - why not some prep?

i have kids & grandkids, so i have done most of what i can re fast crash; but now struggle with the seemingly more mundane - settling on what it'll be like to have less purchasing power [as an extended family], job loss, lose a home, etc.

Yes, they will be forced to conserve, in the same way that blood is forced from a stone. No blood will be produced and the stone will be destroyed.

Curtailing the world's oil supply, when massive amounts of the infrastructure of everything rely on it, will be like continually curtailing the supply of blood coursing through the human body.

For a while the body gets weaker, the decline.

Then the body starts reducing the blood flow pre-emptively to conserve blood that's being lost, and less blood to the brain produces an euphoric mini-recovery where it seems everything's not going to be so bad.

Then suddenly the body shuts down, the abrupt, fast collapse.

In regard to the Hard Assets interview, following is an email that I sent to the Energy Bulletin. And of course "my" research should be our (Khebab/Brown) research.

Sometimes some of the nuances don't come across too well in an
interview. I think that crude oil production has probably peaked,
while total liquids will probably show an increase this year, but in any
case I think that we are practically speaking presently at a peak

Regarding net oil exports, I think that we definitely peaked in 2005.
Regarding Mexico specifically, the EIA shows net oil exports of 1.5
mbpd in 2007, and I estimate that the average 2008 rate will be about
1.0 mbpd, so the trend is pretty obvious. In any case, I estimate that
they will approach zero net oil exports as soon as 2010, probably no
later than 2012.

For anyone interested in our net export work, following is a link to a
recent video presentation at Sandia Labs, which was videolinked to
other national laboratories. There is about a 40 minute presentation,
followed by a 20 minute Q&A. You should see two windows, one with the
video and the other with the slides.


Jeffrey J. Brown

And since the ELM is in the news so much this week, here is a summary of how things have transpired since I introduced the term in January, 2006:

In my January, 2006 post, where I introduced the ELM, I noted that the top three net oil exporters at the time--Saudi Arabia, Russia and Norway, accounting for about 40% of world net oil exports--were (based mine and on Khebab's HL work) much more depleted than the world was overall. If you throw in some rising consumption, it seemed to me that we were on the verge of a permanent decline in net oil exports. As of January, 2006, we only had partial data for 2005. Here are the EIA net export numbers for the top three (mbpd), with year over year rate of change:

2004: 18.1 (+5.1/year)
2005: 18.7 (+3.3%/year)
2006: 17.9 (-4.3%/year)
2007: 17.2 (-4.0%/year)

Of course, Saudi Arabia, in 2008, is showing a year over year increase in net exports, while Russia is showing a decline, but I estimate that Saudi Arabia's net exports in 2008 will be on the order of 8.4 mbpd, versus their 2005 rate of 9.1 mbpd. We shall see what happens in 2009.

Been seeing your name mentioned in a quite a few articles in the recent drumbeats
Get any calls from CNBC yet?

I'd say that the chances of me being on CNBC are about the same chances that we will see Daniel Yergin on CNBC admitting that their "Undulating Plateau" model is wrong.

To be fair, Yergin may have gotten half of the 'undulating plateau' guess right: yes, we may experience and undulating plateau - we might even be on that one right now. However, it is quite unlikely to be "30 to 40 years away" based on current data.

Even a broken clock, etc...

In the article, you supposedly defined peak oil as demand exceeding supply. Isn't that a different definition that we have seen here and elsewhere. That is different from peak supply, which is how it is usually defined. Under your definition, production could continue to grow but we would still have peak oil. If I am missing something, please steer me right.

Paraphrased from memory, then simplified more: Don Sailorman's short definition [I miss him]:

Demand: We would all like to own a personal Ghawar.

Quantity Demanded: What you can actually afford; what you are willing to buy at the moment.

Important to keep the difference in mind. I think Sailorman's Econ textbook had more a precise econ-jargon phrasing for the two concepts, but I think many people confuse the two. The archives have Sailorman threads on this.

As I said, a lot of nuances are lost in transcribing an interview. I define the peak in terms of volumetric production.

Rare Earth Constraints for Electric Motors?

Automobile manufacturers have been actively developing electric-powered vehicles including hybrid, electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, following the escalation of gasoline prices and tightening of CO2 emission regulations. Developments of motors, inverters, secondary batteries, etc are required to be accelerated more than ever for these vehicles.

For example, there is a concern about motors, which use neodymium magnets that rely heavily on rare metals. The dysprosium necessary for enhancing coercive force of neodymium magnets, in particular, is nearly exclusively produced and entirely supplied by China. If the market of electric-powered vehicles is expected to grow, development of motors that use a minimum amount of neodymium and dysprosium is a must.


Just about every effort to mitigate the effects of peak oil, not just electric cars, rely on the much more extensive substitution of electric motors for oil and gas powered ones.

Has anyone got a handle on how severe the limitations of rare earth supplies are, their potential to be substituted, recyclability and so on?
In particular the near monopoly of China in Dysprosium would seem to warrant some concern.
With thanks.

Rare Earth Elements are not rare. The name is a misnomer because they were so hard to separate using classical chemical technology. We use resins these days and it's pretty easy. Lots of reserves and more if anybody goes looking for them.
We should be building the refining facilities and the factories for them, though. Can't argue with that.

Just like peak oil has nothing to do with reserves, neither has the supply of rare earth elements. Do not assume that the rare earth elements are available in affordable quantities!

Electric motors can be made without magnets, using electromagnets (coils of wire) for both the stator and rotor. Most AC motors are made that way. DC motors are simpler with magnets, but if the magnets become too expensive then DC motors can be re-designed. For one thing, with modern electronics, the DC power can be converted to AC before being fed to the motor, if necessary. (Probably some other control tricks can also be used to feed the DC to various windings in the motor in pulses.) Of course, extra windings of copper wire are not cheap either, although aluminum can replace copper, with some disadvantages.

That said, I don't think we'll continue "happy motoring" with EVs. Perhaps e-bikes and e-busses, not to mention Alan's e-trains. But the personal automobile is dead. Even if it needed no motor or fuel, just the ton of steel tied up in each "car" is going to become unaffordable for private use. Heck, they're stealing steel manhole covers in the USA now. (And only Saint Amory can afford carbon fibers.)

Thanks for the input guys.
Without a technical background it is often difficult to evaluate the seriousness of any difficulties - and the engineering types often disagree!
The article I linked to seemed pretty level-headed, with the guy presenting it as something to be dealt with rather than a show-stopper, but in view of some degree of concern for a number of resources it seems reasonable to to try to get some evaluation.

As regards to a smooth handover to an EV or hybrid future, I would tend to agree that that is unlikely, although not primarily for technical reasons.
The models suggested of selling the car and hiring out the batteries seem to give the possibility of pure EV cars not being more expensive than current cars, albeit with some reduced convenience compared to ICE cars.

The financial black hole we seem to be disappearing down and the rapidity of oil's decline seem to preclude a smooth BAU change though.

Just the same I would see mobility as being a great deal higher than some commentators, both because of the e-bikes and scooters you mention and because of the simplicity of using computer technology to call a cab which will arrive within 3 minutes and which will pick upo more people en route:
Taxibus | Intelligent Grouping Transportation
(with thanks to aangel for the link)

Electric trucks to move goods from Alan's railheads and electric delivery vehicles also seem relatively straightforward, as does greater localisation so that you don't have to go so far to shop and work.

That was my prior position, but as Taleb in the 'Black Swan' says it is advisable to look for things which could falsify your position, not confirm it, and so checking out the rare earth supplies is only prudent.

Losses will increase if electromagnets are used instead of permanent magnets so electric motors without permanent magnets generally use more energy. Size is also important large electric motor are usually more efficient than smaller electric motors.

China is the only real producer of REE because of the Bayan Obo iron deposit. Moly Corp used to run Mountain Pass in California, but the grades are a lot lower than Bayan Obo. All through the seventies and eighties China stockpiled REE as the mined the hematite ores. They took a while to figure out the refining necessary to achieve the five nines(.99999) purity.

Incidentally, Bayan Obo is really cool! It is a carbonatite...a magmatic system that produces carbonate minerals; limestone and dolomite lavas! How cool is THAT! I have a little specimen from an igneous flow at Bayan Obo, it is a banded flow of Fluorite, Hematite and Bastnaesite(the REE mineral); bands of purple, silver and white...awesome.

Annual production of some of these elements is measured in pounds...think suitcase-full.

Hello TODers,

Will Peak Everything make people abandon the farmland? I have no way to verify this teaser excerpt from article posted below:

African food crisis is part of a ‘silent tsunami’

...Judith Melby, an African specialist at Christian Aid, said it was also working on projects in the Horn of Africa to encourage people to farm the land, and to promote better agricultural tech­niques. She said the rise in global oil prices has had a devastating effect on the region.

...A Christian Aid report, Fighting Food Shortages: Hungry for change, released in July, said that large numbers of people had migrated to cities in Ethiopia in search of work, which meant that only about 30 per cent of farmland was being cultivated. The report estimates that about 862 million people worldwide lacked sufficient food before the current crisis.
Since job specialization depends upon food surpluses: abandoning 70% of the arable farmland, then migrating to the cities doesn't make for a very good survival strategy. Picture a former farmer becoming an urban bread-baker, then wondering why he can't find any flour! Can you say rapid Overshoot decline?

Maybe it is just Hans Selye's General Adaption Syndrome [GAS] kicking into high gear as the global population becomes genetically sensitized and conditioned for the coming eradication of the Overshoot? I found it telling that these advisors were trying to Encourage these people to Not Leave for the cities, but to keep farming--but it now appears that most feel limbic-brain compelled to sleepwalk to their doom. Such is life.

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

The really amusing one is here: any old "James Robinson" gets extra scrutiny just based on the name, but call yourself "Jim Robinson" or "J Pierce Robinson" and there's no problem:


Yep...my wife's name is on the watch list (common name). She cannot check in online and must show up at the counter with ID. The last time we flew, the attendant said she should just put her middle initial in when she reserves her tickets online next time.

Go figure...

Khebab -


As I said yesterday, I think that Bill Clinton was happy to see George Bush succeed him in much the same way that Roman Emperor Tiberius reportedly wanted Caligula to succeed him--Tiberius reasoned that after a few years of Caligula's rule, people would look back at Tiberius' reign as the "Good old days."


All surviving sources, except Pliny the Elder, characterize Caligula as insane. It is not known whether they are speaking figuratively or literally, though. Additionally, given Caligula's unpopularity among the surviving sources, it is difficult to separate fact from fiction. Recent sources are divided in attempting to ascribe a medical reason for Caligula's behavior, citing as possibilities encephalitis, epilepsy or meningitis. The question of whether or not Caligula was insane remains unanswered.

Good Theory, but I have to disagree....
1) Tiberius spent most of his later years on an island (? Capri ?) just being a dirty old man. I don't think he cared about his reputation.
2) I think Tiberius chose Caligula because Caligula was Tiberius' only able relative who Sejanus (Tiberius' bodyguard) didn't get Tiberius to kill.
3) Caligula watched most of his family killed off by the intrigues of the Imperial Court... I think he hated the power elite and the disguise of "insanity" allowed him to enjoy getting things out of his system.
4) Caligula rarely harmed the "common folk" - or so the records seem to indicate. As an example, I refer to the incident where Caligula asked - during a speech at a temple - a common citizen of Gaul what he thought of Caligula. The citizen replied "you're a humbug," and Caligula just walked away.
Which reminds me... Nero (Caligula's (?)cousin(?)) also got a bad reputation after he was removed from power; while the common citizens of Rome seemed to like Nero's philosophy of avoiding war with Persia, this policy got the Roman generals upset... who then removed Nero... and then went on to remove each other.

I think the generals were insane.


Nice! A Caligula denier! :-)

Hey, a guy who makes his horse the co-regent of an empire can't be all bad!

Agreed! I'm thinking of making my horse my heir, should I pre-decease her ;-)

Horse as co-regent isn't that bad; after all, we have a Horse's Ass as President.

What's wrong with the American government?

That's sort-of a loaded question isn't it. You might ask the reciprocal: What's right with the American government?

I can provide a very long-winded answer, but I will distill it to one word--Empire--and expand that by adding--Empire, it's pursuit and maintenence, and the political-economy that's been devoted to that policy since WW2. The foundational policy for the past 65+ years of political-economy is Keynesean-Militarism--the use of the military industrial complex as the Empire's economic engine, which can only be perpetuated if you're constantly in a state of war driven by fear of the enemy du jour. It helps to remember your Orwell. There's the complicating aspect of the peculiar system of government established by the Constitution that has resulted in the monopolizing of political discourse by two factions of the business party that arose as the result of the foundational political-economic policy. (If you carefully read your US history, you will note that there were two distinct political parties each containing very active factions that promoted quite divergent policies on most every issue, which has shriviled ever since the Republicans stopped their opposition to the forming of a National Security State in 1947.)

Ask yourself this question: You're an elite member of Big War, but there are no more big and easily propagandized as evil enemies left to justify the huge amounts of socialized monies you recieve--note, you know very well you do not EARN those dollars--so what do you do? Understand that Big War also includes Big Oil, Big Auto, Big Steel, Big Ag, Big Pharma, Wall Street, and so forth; all are subsumed within Big War as in a Venn Diagram. The decision to use debt-financing for the foundational political-economic policy created the Greed is Good syndrome that has now eaten out the core of the Empire's financial strength and with time will destroy the Empire and destabilize its core. The links you post are evidence of the US government's preparations for its internal collapse. (The US has always exerted totalitarian control over those regions it controls outside of the Metropole, and it is now unconstitutionally trying to control its citizenry using similar methods, with almost no opposition from either political party.)

So, "What's wrong with the American Government?" It's preparing for the coming class war between the few--5%--remaining Haves protected by the State from the remaining HaveNots. That it is doing so proves how deeply wedded Big War and Big Goverment are to the policy of Keynesian-Militarism and its Greed is Good outgrowth.

In the 1930s, the American people had the good sense to elect representatives that worked very hard to make it impossible for the US to become involved in another World War, and they were very right to do so as it was proven that Big War pushed Wilson to lie and enter WW1. The public's preference for Peace is/was derided as Isolationism, which is pure bullshit. The demand by the public for the rapid demobilization after WW2 pushed Big War to enact the National Security Act of 1947, which established the CIA and what's known as the National Security State, or simply the Warfare State. Billions of dollars are spent annually to psychologically convince US citizens of the rightness/goodness of waging war so there won't be a return of the 1930s and post WW2 pacifist movements (peacniks have always been branded as Commies and Pinkos since the 1930s--thus the Code Pink movement).

So I became longwinded and yet only touched on a few points. There are many books that explain all the above in great detail and provide the requisite footnotes. Most are not found on any reading list for university-level history, political science, or political-economic classes--even post-grad classes. The student may find a prof who will act as a guide, but first the student must know which questions to ask and to be confident enough to approach the prof in the first place, but our Indoctrination System doesn't promote that sort of thinking and questioning.

George Washington said we should stay out of "foreign entanglements." I guess somebody forgot that little bit of advice.


No further comment.

One of the interesting facets of the Constitution upon its approval was the office of Vice President, to be occupied by the presidentail candidate garnering the second most electoral votes; remember, there were no established political parties until 1796. The two executive officers were modeled on the Roman Republic's Twin Counsel format, where one exercised veto power over the other, an aspect that wasn't included in the Constitution. But despite lacking the veto, it can be seen rather easily how the office of Vice President was to be a part of the Balance of Powers formula. The XII Amendment cahnged that formula as esplained here, and the change made possible the eventual formation of an oligopolistic pair of political parties that have accumulated enough power to exclude any potential rivals. This is what makes it possible to read the policy proposals of Obama and McCain and see no real difference. I've often been asked when did our "democratic experiment" first start to fail. I point to the XII Amendment, and the sectional rivalry that soon developed as a result. Having to share power with the top member of the opposing faction would hypothetically make rash policies almost an impossibility. Also take note that it was during Thomas Jefferson's administration that the XII Amendment was adopted. Allowing the executive branch too much power is where the US's constitutional form of government has failed. The XII Amendment's removal of the one internal check of that power was a big mistake.

Wow. Learn somethin' new every day.

Great post.


In Stalin's days, one could end up in Siberia based on such flimsy "evidence". Good thing the USA does not have prison camps, uh?

Yeah, in what some of the lefties would call American detention centres instead of cruelly freezing detainees like the Russians do they keep them amused by interesting water sports!
I'd love to see some of the folks called to testify about how humane these practises are demonstrate their skills at waterboarding and coming up smiling!
If it isn't torture, presumably those interviewed and their lawyers would not object to taking part in the fun, and being waterboarded when asked for their testimony!
I can dream.

The first guy clearly is a terrorist - after all, he converted to Islam.

The second guy criticized the president - very unamerican. Deserves to be on the list.

Third person had a similar name as an alleged terrorist. Good enough reason for me.

Fourth person has a high level security clearance. So he's at the very least a potential terrorist.

So what's wrong with you Khebab? Are you unamerican?

/end sarcanol.

For those of you who think the above was outlandish, think back 6-7 years. Anybody in the US who questioned anything by the administration was silenced with the patriotism argument.

It happened once and it can happen again. And don't think you are not vulnerable to this bias, just because you are not American or live elsewhere. This is a classic political ploy and has worked well all over the world.

So, look sharp and stay frosty :)

My apologies to Khebab for using his excellent post as mock-target practice dummy.

Don't look now kids, but the WSJ is reporting that the Detroit 3 are conspiring to ask for a massive, $25-$50 billion, bailout from Congress:

The Next Bailout: Detroit

You call that massive? That's just a couple-three month's worth of the Iraq "war".

From the September issue of Nat Geographic
All about our soil crisis
Haven't read it yet looks frightening.

Hello Oscillator,

Great Nat Geo article! TODer Todd has stated that he believes in Terra Preta, Bio-Char, Charcoal, other names...It's all O-NPK good! Todd has high credibility with me.

Also, the Acronym MEGO--> My Eyes Glaze Over....I think a lot of Peakers even suffer from this when soil science, I-NPK, and O-NPK recycling topics come up on TOD, yet job specialization is only possible with food surpluses.

The exact psychological opposite of MEGO occurs when you try to tell people to Humanure vs the ceramic throne-->'poop on the grass, not on the rocks'[source: Thermo/Gene Collision]. Then their eyes become full of anger and/or abject horror.

Obviously 'Ramona's recipe' per top link is not going to scale up to commercial farms, what with store bought charcoal and beer inoculant. What I think could work is thin surface spreading of crushed charcoal from nearby wood burning. Add a smidgin of synthetic urea. I tried spraying a charcoal slurry from the back of a pickup but I found it was easier just to shovel out a dry mixture in broad sweeps. At just maybe 500 grams per square metre in one season it has helped pasture growth on thin compacted soil.

Yeah I agree. Maybe we need a few propaganda posters. Got a few suggestions:
When you poop in a toilet, you poop with Hitler!
If your dog is smart enough to do it why not you?
Toilets are for sissies! Real men crap in the woods.
Hmm this could actually be fun.


'The exact psychological opposite of MEGO occurs when you try to tell people to Humanure vs the ceramic throne-->'poop on the grass, not on the rocks'[source: Thermo/Gene Collision]. Then their eyes become full of anger and/or abject horror.'

yeah i know. if i'm around when i know we'll Need the compost maybe i'll just clandestinely plug up the septic system!

though i do have a basement so maybe i'll tiptoe into the discussion/arguing for a clevis multrum. i'm sure more important projects will be pointed out.

almost always gets a very emotional response.

Noncommercial or speculative
investment funds on the New York Mercantile Exchange increased
their net short natural gas futures exposure to a record high
for a fourth straight week, the Commodity Futures Trading
Commission said in a report on Friday.
~: record high 147,136 contracts and eclipsing the
previous high of 129,229 contracts set the prior week

There has been a huge rise in the noncommercial short position in natural gas since May. It has been accompanied by a mirror image plunge in the commercial short position. The commercial short position hasn't been this small since July of 2005! This makes me suspect that some large players got reclassified from commercial to noncommercial, similiar to what happened in the crude oil market.

Hello TODers,

10 Polar Bears Are Seen Swimming in Open Water

....One was 35 miles from shore and another one 50, but neither was more than 20 miles from the nearest arctic ice.
IMO, that is certainly a clear example of how the other creatures 'debate' global warming. I bet a lot of the bears in denial of climate change have already drowned. :(

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

Adaptive Polar Bear: It's real, you fool, listen to me! I will make my 'lifeboat on land' by learning to eat berries, fish, caribou, rabbits.

Delusional Polar Bear: You are wrong and a total idiot! I will prove it to you by coming back fat from my seal gorging [plunges into the ocean, then swims, and swims, and swims...]

The fossil record is full of creatures that did not make it. Unfortunately the polar bear sometimes preyed on humans. The lion is also extinct in many areas where it once ruled.

Yep...very sad toto. I've seen the polar bears after "feasting" off the land during the warm months...not a pretty sight. On the other hand, with much arctic sea ice gone maybe the fishing industry can throw a little their way. Perhaps a PB royalty on all that extra catch. I was lucky enough to make it to Churchill some years ago and watch the PB migrate thru. What I always remember is how they had absolutely no fear of man. Dumb PB's.

OK... please forgive me... i'm feeling much less serious than i normally do, and yammit, this site is sometimes just too damn serious... and so, with that.


I printed off some posters and banners today for our local community "event"... biggest one of the year, and we will be having a "Climate Change" booth there... I'm adding a little Peak Oil for added effect. I hope it's good.

The work on this website is just bloody amazing. I wish everyone could have a mind open, and frankly sophisticated, enough to recognize the level of analysis that goes on here... but yet if they did, we wouldn't have this problem would we.


PS. Yammit, that ended up sounding a lot more serious than I originally intended. Damn this website again! I'm of the feeling lately that we have entered a new period of "Detente". Russia vs. Europe/US. Ahhh geez.. it's the Scramble scenario that is shaping up isn't it? Bloody human nature.

I'll keep doing what I can at the local level. I don't know why, but the fact that I live in a very secure little valley with tall, granite peaks around me and a Deep Sea Inlet really does give me comfort.