DrumBeat: September 6, 2008

George Soros: The Perilous Price of Oil

In January 2007, the price of oil was less than $60 per barrel. By the spring of 2008, the price had crossed $100 for the first time, and by mid-July, it rose further to a record $147. At the end of August it remains over $115, a 90 percent increase in just eighteen months. The price of gasoline at the pump has risen commensurately from an average of $2.50 to around $4 a gallon during this period. Transportation and manufacturing costs have risen sharply as well. All this has occurred at the same time as a world credit crisis that started with the collapse of the US housing bubble. The rising cost of oil, coming on top of the credit crisis, has slowed the world economy and reinforced the prospect of a recession in the US.

The public is asking for an answer to two questions. The principal question is whether the sharp oil price increase is a speculative bubble or simply reflects fundamental factors such as rapidly rising demand from developing nations and an increasingly limited supply, caused by the dwindling availability of easily extractable oil reserves. The second question is related to the first. If the oil price increase is at least partly a result of speculation, what kind of regulation will best mitigate the harmful consequences of this increase and avoid excessive price fluctuations in the future?

Change Everything Now: One of the nation's most mainstream environmentalists says it's time to get a lot more radical

It’s not surprising that Speth would end up in a wood-paneled office at Yale. What is surprising, however, is that he uses his bully pulpit in academia to push for a 1960s-style take-it-to-the-streets revolution. His new book, The Bridge at the Edge of the World (Yale University Press), is nothing less than a call for an uprising that would reinvent modern capitalism and replace it with, well, a postmodern capitalism that values sustainability over growth, and doing good over making a quick buck.

North Dakota: Gasping gas supply spurs talk of refinery

As a parade of more than 50 tanker trucks waited to fill up at a West Fargo fuel terminal Friday, Todd Jacobson talked about how he hopes to keep the gas pumping at his Sooper Stop station several blocks away.

“When you’re doing business in this town and not sure where your next load of gas is going to come from, if you’re in my business, that’s a scary thought,” Jacobson said.

Sporadic gas shortages at terminals in West Fargo and Grand Forks, N.D., prompted the Democratic candidate for governor to call for a new refinery and more pipeline capacity in the state.

“We have the oil right here in North Dakota, and we aren’t using it properly,” state Sen. Tim Mathern, D-Fargo, said during a news conference at the Sooper Stop.

Price increases push US soy beyond reach of poor

The cost of soy is spreading hunger on the country's main island of Java, where millions of poor and working-class families depend on tofu and tempeh every day. It is also devastating an entire local industry based on soy products. Hundreds of factories have closed, thousands of people have taken to the streets to protest soy prices and at least one soy vendor killed himself after falling into debt.

The lessons of the soy crunch, however, go far beyond Indonesia.

Over the past decade, Indonesia went from growing more than half its soy to relying on the U.S. for 70 percent of it. Now the poor among this country's 220 million people are going hungry because of changes thousands of miles beyond their shores. It is the same story for dozens of countries that came to depend on richer nations for cheap food, only to find themselves squeezed when prices start rising last year.

An urban legend to comfort America: crash programs will solve Peak Oil

This is the second post in a series examining “urban legends” about energy that comfort Americans. Here we discuss the second of five comforting myths about unconventional and alternative energy sources. These are excuses for not doing the hard work of gathering information, analysis, planning, and executing programs necessary to prepare for the multi-decade transition through peak oil to the next era (whatever that will be).

Modified Seawater as EOR Fluid Could Boost Oil Recovery From Limestone Reservoirs Up to 60%

Researchers at the University of Stavanger in Norway report that injecting a modified seawater fluid—“smart water”—into limestone oil reservoirs for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) could help boost oil extraction from those reservoirs by as much as 60%. Their findings are scheduled for the 10 September issue of the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.

Highway Fund Shortfall May Halt Road Projects

Not many months ago, federal officials expected the highway account to have about $4 billion by Sept. 30, the end of the federal fiscal year. Last Oct. 1, the trust fund had $8.1 billion in the bank, transportation officials said, but by Sept. 30, its expenses will have exceeded its income by $8.3 billion, creating a $200 million gap. (The Highway Trust Fund also has a much smaller account to finance mass transit projects, but it is in surplus at the moment.)

...Whatever Congress does in the short term, some profound policy issues will have to be addressed at some point. The shift to smaller, more fuel-efficient cars in an era of expensive gasoline is the very trend that is helping to deplete the highway fund.

Customers anxious about heating oil prices

Hurricane Gustav spared major oil refineries and depots along the Gulf Coast, but how much that will spare home heating oil customers remains to be seen.

EPA Approves Hurricane-Related Fuel Waiver for Six Counties in Florida

As a result of the disruption in the supply of fuel caused by Tropical Storms Fay and Hanna, Hurricane Gustav and the approach of Hurricane Ike, EPA has exercised its authority under the Clean Air Act to temporarily waive certain federal clean fuel requirements for six counties in Florida until Sept. 15, 2008. This waiver will allow greater flexibility for the fuel distribution system to be used to aid in the evacuation from Hurricane Ike and subsequent return of affected residents.

Some Petro-Canada stations still waiting to fill up

A month after a breakdown at Petro-Canada's Edmonton refinery caused shortages at up to 90 retail and independent outlets in western Canada, half the stations were still dry Friday, even though operations at the facility resumed last week.

Nigeria: Agoro Wants Yar'Adua to Imitate Gaddafi On Oil Windfall

Agoro who challenged Nigerian government's phlegmatic attitude on the groaning of Nigerians said instead of allowing Nigerians suffer unnecessarily hardship on fuel and kerosene scarcity, the federal government should make excess crude oil windfall to benefit Nigerians.

Driving down a road to self-destruction

Just recently, an economists' cliche has been popping up here and there. No great surprise, perhaps, in the circumstances. The wise folk call it "demand destruction", like nothing so much as a particularly thrilling video game.

It goes something like this. If a great many Americans decide that the price of gas is insupportable, they simply drive less. Self-evidently, demand falls - by approaching one million barrels of oil a day in the United States - and price should follow. Demand Destruction Auto, if you like.

What climate change will do to our province

A warmer climate makes B.C. more accommodating for once-exotic diseases, pushing health authorities to extraordinary measures to protect the public.

There are more frequent civil emergencies brought on by extreme weather events such as wind, snow and rainstorms, power outages and flooding. Warmer year-round average temperatures accommodate mosquitoes and ticks that spread diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, and Lyme disease.

Toyota to build batteries for its hybrids in N. America

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp will build batteries for its hybrids in North America eventually, as part of a plan to drive down the production costs of fuel-efficient models like its top-selling Prius.

Is California on the Brink of Environmental Collapse?

California has spared no expense to taxpayers or natural ecosystems to become the most hydrologically altered landmass on the planet.

The Failed States Index 2008

Whether it is an unexpected food crisis or a devastating hurricane, the world’s weakest states are the most exposed when crisis strikes. In the fourth annual Failed States Index, FOREIGN POLICY and The Fund for Peace rank the countries where state collapse may be just one disaster away.

When troops opened fire in the streets of Mogadishu in early May, it was a tragically familiar scene in war-torn Somalia. Except on this day, soldiers weren’t fighting Islamist militias or warlords. They were combating a mob of tens of thousands rioting over soaring food prices.

On top of the country’s already colossal challenges, a food crisis seems an especially cruel turn for a place like Somalia. But it is a test that dozens of weak states are being forced to confront this year, with escalating prices threatening to undo years of poverty-alleviation and development efforts. The unrest in Mogadishu echoes food riots that have erupted on nearly every continent in the past year. Tens of thousands of Mexicans protested when the price of corn flour jumped 400 percent in early 2007. Thousands of Russian pensioners took to the streets in November to call for a return to price controls on milk and bread. In Egypt, the army was ordered to bake more loaves at military-run bakeries after riots broke out across the country. Kabul, Port-au-Prince, and Jakarta experienced angry protests over spikes in the price of staples.

The End of the End-of-the-World Trade

I'm stealing this phrase from Toro, but the "End of the World Trade" is essentially long any and all combinations of commodities, and short any and all combinations of financials and consumer discretionary (the latter sector constitutes the most heavily shorted stocks as a percentage of float by far – despite what the SEC might make you believe). It has been one of the dominant momentum trades of the last year, and its reversal in the last six weeks has had serious consequences because of how far the trade had been pressed.

Goldman rejiggers oil ratings

Citing a preference for service companies linked to oil, as opposed to natural gas, Goldman Sachs on Friday rejiggered a list of stocks it's recommending and issued a fresh batch of rating upgrades and downgrades.

It's Time to Buy Energy

Oil prices reach a new all-time high of $147 a barrel and bring with them a crescendo of buzz from investors, corporations, and world leaders. It is the peak of Peak Oil claims.

US drilling activity falls from 23-year high

HOUSTON -- US drilling activity dropped from a 23-year high, down by 18 rotary rigs this week with 2,013 still working, said Baker Hughes Inc. That compares with a rig count of 1,814 during the same period a year ago.

Land operations accounted for the bulk of the decline, down by 19 rigs to 1,919 drilling. Activity in inland waters declined by 1 rig to 22. Offshore drilling increased, however, up 2 to 67 rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and 72 in US waters overall.

Report: Poland's Tusk calls for new debate over Baltic pipeline

Osnabrueck, Germany - Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has called on Germany to rethink the Baltic Sea pipeline project with Russia in light of the ongoing crisis over Russia's military presence in Georgia, German media reported Saturday.

Indonesia Turns to Current Account Deficit on Rise in Oil Costs

(Bloomberg) -- Indonesia recorded its first current account deficit in almost three years for the second quarter of 2008 as oil prices increased.

...Crude output in the country dropped about 40 percent in the past 12 years, turning Indonesia into a net oil importer. Crude oil prices almost doubled in the 12 months ended June 30, and fell 24 percent so far this quarter.

Oil fund could help pay fuel bills – SNP

SCOTS could be helped out of fuel poverty if the country had an oil fund like Norway – which is predicted to be worth $1trillion by 2020.

2 French hostages released in Nigeria

LAGOS, Nigeria: Nigeria's military says two French citizens kidnapped more than a month ago in the west African country's southern oil region have been freed.

Angola election forced into a second day of voting

LUANDA, Angola -- Angola's first election for 16 years goes into an unscheduled second day today after opposition parties condemned the vote as chaotic and demanded a re-run. The election, largely a race between the ruling MPLA and UNITA, has been keenly watched by the international community because of controversy marring recent African polls and Angola's emergence as one of the world's major oil producers.

Canadian oil company lays off workers

SHERIDAN -- A Canadian-based oil company that specializes in underground oil drilling is laying off more than half its work force, most of them in Wyoming.

The layoffs by Rock Well Petroleum Inc. resulted from a weakening economy and postponement of the company's plans for initial public stock offering on the London Stock Exchange, company spokeswoman Phoebe Buckland said.

High gas prices could cut vacation costs

Soaring fuel costs can potentially save us real money on our next vacation - if not in the short term, then down the road. The effects are already being seen across the board: hotel rooms, car rentals and counterintuitively, even airline tickets. If nothing else, paying more at the pump would have encouraged travelers to do things that will make travel more sustainable in the future.

Floating nuclear power plant gets new "birthplace"

MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti commentator Tatyana Sinitsyna) - In a couple of years, a new kind of vessel will appear at sea: the floating nuclear power plant (FNPP). The Academician Lomonosov, currently under construction in Russia, is only one project of several being developed so far.

Top 11 environmental songs

3. (Nothing but) Flowers, by Talking Heads Probably one of the first songs to anticipate peak oil, it describes a world whose factories, strip malls, and fast-food joints have been reclaimed by nature. “If this is paradise,” the protagonist sings, “I wish I had a lawnmower.”

2. My City Was Gone, by The Pretenders The catchy bass line to this song, which decries suburban sprawl and the hollowing out of the American downtown, serves as the intro to Rush Limbaugh’s radio program. Songwriter Chrissie Hynde allows Limbaugh to use her song, provided that the conservative talk show host makes the royalty checks payable to PETA.

Game Design Sketchbook: Crude Oil

Oil isn't like corn or some other renewable commodity, where the amount you produce and sell this year has no limiting effect on how much you might be able to produce next year. If you pump all your oil out today and sell it at today's price, you won't have any to sell at tomorrow's price. What if tomorrow's price is much better than today's price? Sit-and-wait starts to sound like a more attractive strategy than pump-and-sell, especially if we are on the verge of an emergency-scale oil shortage. Of course, you'd want to be grabbing as many leases as you could in the mean time, not to pump-and-sell, but to add to your will-pump-someday holdings. On the other hand, if you withhold supply too much, people will learn to live with less oil, demand will weaken, and the price bubble will burst. We saw that happen toward the end of this past summer, as demand reacted negatively to high gas prices. Hybrid cars are all the rage now, and oil just isn't selling like it used to.

Crude Oil is a networked two-player game that explores these issues.

Shame on you, Generation Excess

But is it all coming to an end? Are petrol prices and global warming just the tip of a melting iceberg primed to set humanity back on its heels, such that our kids won't enjoy anything like the fruits of life that we have? More worryingly, am I, and my generation partly to blame as the generation that tried to warn against all this in the '60s and '70s, but then said "wait for me" as the world took off again in the 1980s?

The Ultimate Race: Curse of the Billy Goat?

Anyways, the answer to why Peak Oil loses? Consistency. Yes, the Oilers have spectacular weeks, like when they almost hit $150 a barrel, and they look great on paper, like when hurricanes threaten to wipe out gulf oil refineries.

LaDuke emphasizes global warming in welcome address

LaDuke continued to address “peak oil” and energy, critiquing the Bush administration’s support of “clean coal” and nuclear power. She insisted instead that more time and money should be invested in renewable energy.

“It turns out that you can only invade so many countries for oil. We have to come to terms with the fact that we can’t mine fossil fuels anymore,” she said.

All fired up: American climate scientist James Hansen explains why he's testifying against coal.

Nothing could be more central to the problem we face with global climate change. If you look at the size of the oil, gas and coal reservoirs you'll see that the oil and gas have enough CO2 to bring us up to a dangerous level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Bill McKibben: Earth running out of time

CANTON — Bill McKibben has a number he wants you to remember: 350.

As in 350 parts per million, the number that scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere.

Ike menaces Cuba, Gulf

Hurricane Ike, a dangerous Category 3 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale and projected to grow again into a potentially devastating Category 4, appeared increasingly likely to hit Cuba and then target the oil fields of the Gulf.

While long-range storm tracks are subject to huge errors, Ike could potentially follow Hurricane Gustav, plowing through an area that produces a quarter of domestic U.S. oil, and slam ashore near New Orleans, which was swamped and traumatized by Hurricane Katrina three year ago.

U.S. Gulf energy output slow to return after Gustav

“The slow going recovery rate in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico may be reflecting operators' caution in bringing back their personnel or otherwise putting their rigs back into operation as they are still determining whether Hurricane Ike is going to hit the Gulf,” said Gene McGillian, an analyst at Tradition Energy, Stamford, Connecticut.

Naomi Klein: Obama got Gustav wrong

In the combination of New Orleans and hurricanes, we have the most powerful argument possible for the necessity of "change". It's all there: gaping inequality, deep racism, crumbling public infrastructure, global warming, rampant corruption, the Blackwater-isation of the public sector. And none of it is in the past tense. In New Orleans whole neighbourhoods have gone to seed, Charity hospital remains shuttered, public housing has been deliberately destroyed - and the levee system is still far from repaired.

Gustav should have been political rat poison for the Republicans, no matter how well it was managed. Yet, as Peter Baker noted in the New York Times, "rather than run away from the hurricane and its political risks, Mr McCain ran toward it". If this strategy worked, it was at least partly because Barack Obama has been running away from New Orleans for his entire campaign.

Libya says oil market is oversupplied

TRIPOLI (AFP) - The oil market is starting to suffer from oversupply, the Libyan National Oil Corporation (NOC) chairman said on Friday, days before a key OPEC meeting on crude output levels.

"The market is well served and has even started to suffer from oversupply," said Shukri Ghanem, who also acts as the country's oil minister, adding that the Organisation of Oil Exporting Countries (OPEC) aimed to balance supply and demand.

"Prices have lowered and the supply is exceeding demand. The role of OPEC is to maintain the balance," he told AFP ahead of a meeting of the oil cartel in Vienna on Tuesday.

Is oil going back under $100 a barrel? Not if Opec can help it

Is it over? Was that the oil shock? Can we relax, sit back and expect our energy bills and prices at the pumps to tumble? It is true that the price of oil is down. In early July, the price peaked at $147 a barrel. Yesterday it hit $106. A fall of almost 30% in two months suggests the old rule that "nothing cures high prices like high prices" may finally be working in the oil market.

Russian units raid Georgian airfields for use in Israeli strike against Iran – report

The raids were disclosed by UPI chief editor Arnaud de Borchgrave, who is also on the Washington Times staff, and picked up by the Iranian Fars news agency. The Russian raids of two Georgian airfields, which Tbilisi had allowed Israel to use for a potential strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, followed the Georgian offensive against South Ossetia on Aug. 7.

Under the secret agreement with Georgia, the airfields had been earmarked for use by Israeli fighter-bombers taking off to strike Iran in return for training and arms supplies.

Drilling For Clean Energy (Jim Marshall and Roscoe Bartlett)

The controversial bans on drilling offshore and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge have preserved precious oil and natural gas reserves owned by the public. Thank environmentalists for this unintended gift.

But for these bans, we would have wasted the reserves without a strategic plan.

Is Peak Oil the New Y2K?

With todays oil situation and predictions of a peak just around the corner, is peak oil the next Y2K? Jamais Cascio reminds us in Peak Oil and the Curse of Cassandra of the lessons learned from Y2K; Disasters were avoided by listening to warnings and acting upon them.

Byron King: Western Oil Woes

Western nations — the U.S., in particular — are now experiencing the bow wave of a profound change in the current and future availability of oil. According to recently published data, oil output from all major Western oil companies is on an ominous decline trend. Exxon Mobil, for example, announced that its average oil output has fallen by 614,000 barrels per day in 2008.

It never hurts to be prepared for Armageddon

Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front, by Sharon Astyk (New Society Publishers; $18.95) is subtitled One Woman's Solutions to Finding Abundance for Your Family While Coming to Terms With Peak Oil, Climate Change and Hard Times. A few suggestions from Appendix One: - Urine is mostly sterile, and safe to add to plants. A person's yearly output can fertilize more than one quarter acre. Dilute the urine in a 10 to one ratio and use it on your garden. - Summer is a good time to toilet train children. Let them run around naked outside, where accidents won't be a worry. You'll do less laundry in the winter if you get this done now.

Pyrenees glaciers will melt by 2050: Spanish study

MADRID (AFP) - Climate change will melt the 21 remaining glaciers in the Pyrenees mountains before 2050, a group of Spanish researchers said Friday.

"The steady increase in temperature -- a total of 0.9 degrees Celsius from 1890 to today -- indicates that the Pyrenees glaciers will disappear before 2050, experts say," said a statement published on the SINC website, an official science news site.

Re: Ike tracking above.

I think it's still expected to recurve but New Orleans seems under threat again as of latest (5am EDT) update. The whole of Florida and from the panhandle right along the coast to the landfall point of Gustav is currently in the 5 day cone. Galveston will be in it soon enough unless the models shift back east.

Some more imagery links

Noaa http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/satellite.shtml

Navy http://www.nrlmry.navy.mil/TC.html

Hadar http://hadar.cira.colostate.edu/ramsdis/online/trop_ge_storm_relative_0....

Storm2k Ike discussion

I would think that evacuees are going to have problems getting the gasoline to drive away from the storm(s).

Even if they could, they won't.

"After a helicopter trip over the Baton Rouge area, Public Service Commissioner Jimmy Field said the storm knocked down 20 of the area's transmission towers that follow the Mississippi River along the 80 miles between New Orleans and the capital.

"This was a perfect storm, if you wanted to destroy as much of the generation and the transmission alley that we have," Field said.

Entergy Corp., the region's top power company, agreed with Field's prediction about the Baton Rouge. By contrast, the company predicted that power would be fully restored in New Orleans on Monday."




I'm putting Ike into Pascagula as a Cat 3.

Mobile, Cat 3

Bite your tongue. :)

Ed. Pensacola. No cats. One beagle.

Oklahoma City, Cat 1

Massive quantities of gasoline (some diesel) is going into generators. 31% of Louisiana w/o power as of last night. As power is restored, the generators often move to those still in need. Add the gasoline burned coming back and driving further to make groceries (I am fortunate with my 2.5 block walk).

OTOH, all but one refinery now has power and, according to Gov. Jindal, all went into "warm shutdown" that allows for oen day back into production once labor, natural gas, crude etc are available. Labor force is an issue at some refineries.

Distribution from refinery to station may be the weak link. Also "gas on the road" has been depleted.

Best Hopes,


11am update continues to make the threat to New Orleans more credible.

NHC just downgraded Ike to Cat 2 minutes before recon went in and found a strong Cat 3 with one surface reading supporting Cat 4. Looks very bad for Cuba right now.

Take care Alan (and everyone else in its path).

Been Lucky so far (knock on wood) this year, the 11am report has it going 162 miles south of me. Far enough that it should just be a little wind and we could use some rain.

Hanna took a nice curve off to the east around us before heading over to the U.S. We had about 30mph of wind from her.

Good Luck to all

5pm update is out. Ike track still homing ever more tightly on New Orleans vicinity. Latest NHC has a Cat 3 approaching the coast with the extrapolated track right over the city. Fortunately there's still a huge error cone but still...

As of now, Ike has just been upgraded again to a Cat 4. Someone is probably getting their arse kicked at the NHC for incorrectly downgrading it to Cat 2 earlier today without evidence. What is so unusual is that they normally would err too high with the comment "perhaps a little generous" rather than prematurely downgrade.

Alan, is their talk in NO of another evac yet?

I think Gustav and Ike are going to cause real inventory problems in every catagory

Over 90% of GOM oil production is still shut-in. With Ike heading for the GOM by Thursday will the operators bother to start up only to have to shut down again in 72 or 96 hours?

If Ike does come into the GOM and cause evacuations it could mean that GOM will be shut down for three weeks, if the markets can handle that disruption then we can say there is plenty of oil and NG in the market.

With respect to oil spot prices I wonder if some refiners have backed out of the market in the short-term, they lost a week of production due to Gustav, possibly another week to come, and the oil they had ordered prior to Gustav (as long as it wasn't GOM oil) will still be on the way.

I assume the refiners will try and make as much gasoline as they can in the next few days to help with the evacuation plans, it should help in New Orleans due to proximity, not sure about Florida.

Latest numbers from MMS (Sept. 6)

From the operators’ reports, it is estimated that approximately 87.5 % of the oil production in the Gulf has been shut-in. Estimated current oil production from the Gulf of Mexico is 1.3 million barrels of oil per day. It is also estimated that approximately 74.1 % of the natural gas production in the Gulf has been shut-in. Estimated current natural gas production from the Gulf of Mexico is 7.4 billion cubic feet of gas per day.

Most rigs / platforms now have crews (according to the same release)

Meanwhile, Entergy reports:

Total Customer Outages 400,611
Total Customers Restored since Sept. 1: 563,327 58%

Add back releases from the SPR. Enough to raise inventories to the desired level, slightly above MOL.


I tried to follow the Gustav predictions in TOD, but ultimately I found it very confusing -- were any of the models predicting Gustav behavior highly successful? Which ones worked?

GFDL. OHPC. And The Hurricane Center.

but they kept wanting to push gustav to the West.


Watch the models as an aggregate.


The CLIPS, SHIPS models are there to complete the spectrum, it
seems to me.

The relevant models are generally:



Thanks-- I've bookmarked them.

Ike's history from 01 Sep to 06 Sep 2008:

And a visible satellite image that's close to the time of the last statement depicted in the above graph (approx 1500Z):

The CDO appears to be washing out the eye to a large extent.



The eye has cleared out far more noticeably on the latest image (1555). Also recon finding pressure well down and winds well up. Consensus on storm2k is last NHC update (Cat 2) seems bad (which is very rare).

Edit: Recon just issued a corrected pressure reading "Minimum Sea Level Pressure: 959mb (28.32 inHg)...(Corrected)"

Further edit: NHC upgraded again to Cat 3. Recon now just supporting Cat 4 so they may have to upgrade again before it hits Cuba although it is likely to weaken quite severely over Cuba (unless it just skims the island).

EDIT as now redundant

Typed a longish reply then closed the tab. Bah. Keeping it short

Official stuff at NHC http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/index.shtml
Current as of (21:30GMT/UTC/Zulu) status is


MILES...220 KM.

WAS 949 MB...28.23 INCHES.

Real time updates are posted at Storm2k Ike discussion
Storm2k also has recon threads, model threads, met forecast threads but if you read the main discussion thread for a bit you'll find links to just about everything relevant.

Good satellite image collection at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/satellite.shtml

Thanks Undertow- appreciated.
I edited out my question as I did a bit of hunting around, but the info you have given me is very useful!

Interestingly Ike is currently heading dangerously close (to the south) of the British overseas territory of Turks and Caicos on its way to Cuba as a Cat 4 (when the NHC had dropped the forecast to Cat 2 earlier today).

Wunderground shows two weather stations on the islands which will be interesting to watch.

The HAM site shows a really grave situation:
HAMweather Tropical Center: Hurricane Ike Forecast Models

Winds of 144mph hitting Cuba, which is a very high Cat 4, and the expected track going unerringly towards New Orleans.

Looks like Guantanamo Bay may get a bit of Ike coming down on it. I hope the people are evacuated, but the structure is destroyed...

Does anyone know what the hurricane contingency plans are for Gitmo? I can't imagine those tents are hurricane-proof.

I'm sure Castro would let everyone just stay in his guest house! (sarconal added, of course)

Galveston will be in it soon enough unless the models shift back east.

And sure enough, the 5am update has Galveston in the 5-day cone of a Cat 3. The next 24-36 hours or so are going to be crucial in figuring out where this thing is going and what Cuba will do to it.

Florida Keys still in danger. Evacuation going ahead.

Three Years of EIA C+C Data, 5/05 to 5/08

Taking the EIA data--subject to revision, especially in later months--at face value, the world produced 74.3 mbpd in 5/05 and 74.5 mbpd in 5/08. I wonder how much money has been spent by the oil industry worldwide in three years in order to show an incremental increase of about 200,000 bpd?

Of course, as I have previously noted, another way to look at the data is to calculate the cumulative difference between what we would have produced at the 5/05 rate and what we actually produced--about 850 mb according to my calculations. What this measures is the industry's cumulative inability to simply match the 5/05 rate, and this deficiency has increased in 2008, albeit at a low rate, about 0.1 mbpd from 1/08 to 5/08, inclusive.

Or we can put it this way--despite the highest nominal oil prices in history, the industry has failed, on average, to match the 5/05 rate for the last seven months of 2005, all of 2006, all of 2007 and for the first five months of 2008.

I guess one question for the average consumer would be, is the oil industry, taken as a whole, producing the same amount of oil at higher prices, and simply taking out greater profits -- or are you making the case that it is costing more to produce the same amount of oil, and high profits are just a byproduct?

I've put it this way--The oil industry can and will make money by finding smaller conventional fields and by developing resource plays like the tar sands play in Canada, but it would be a mistake for oil consumers to assume that this will mean that the industry can meaningfully increase total production, especially when we plug in the net export aspect.

Thanks. I'm pondering the implications of that statement.

At first blush it would seem to suggest that all of us consumers would do well to learn to live with less petroleum -- and if we want to keep up the same level of "lifestyle" we will have to become more efficient.

Personally, I get more pleasure from my two Springer Spaniels than I do from any oil-powered toy, but occasionally we require oil to move us around further than we can walk. This I call joy-efficiency.

I guess one question for the average consumer would be, is the oil industry, taken as a whole, producing the same amount of oil at higher prices, and simply taking out greater profits -- or are you making the case that it is costing more to produce the same amount of oil, and high profits are just a byproduct?
At first blush it would seem to suggest that all of us consumers would do well to learn to live with less petroleum -- and if we want to keep up the same level of "lifestyle" we will have to become more efficient.

Yes to all three.

Some of KSA's middle-aged fields are likely producing oil at much the same cost as 5 years ago; that means more profit.

Some fields are much more expensive than typical production 5 years ago; an obvious example is oil sands, which has the triple-whammy of higher input (gas/steel) prices, higher labour prices, and overall greater difficulty of production. 20% profit at $100/bbl is a much larger number than 20% profit at $20/bbl, though, so profit does go up.

And, finally, it doesn't really matter whether you believe oil production is peaking right now or not; the demand pressures have pushed prices up are unlikely to abate in the next few years, meaning that oil is likely to continue to be expensive (vs. the 80s/90s). If standard of living is measured in terms of disposable income, high oil prices will lower that, and lowering oil consumption will raise it.

Personally, I get more pleasure from my two Springer Spaniels than I do from any oil-powered toy

One of the great reasons to not measure standard of living in terms of money.

What should we be producing now according to earlier forecasts like 2000 USGS? Collating a batch of those would make a nifty chart/presentation.

Small correction: If it cost $20 to produce then a $20 market is zero profit while $100 market is $80 profit. Big difference.

If it cost $20 to produce then a $20 market is zero profit while $100 market is $80 profit.

You've missed my point, which was in reference to the question "are high profits just a byproduct"?

The price of oil has gone up, but the cost to produce has also gone up. If both prices go up by the same multiple, then the profit margin stays the same, but all the numbers involved get bigger, including raw profit. For a fixed profit margin of 20%, profits in $-values will be much larger at an oil price of $100/bbl than at $20/bbl.

What that means is, yes, higher absolute profits can very much come as a byproduct of higher prices; a $3T industry is likely to have a larger profit than a $0.6T industry, simply because it's much larger. (This is only one factor, of course.)

I'm well enough convinced that we've essentially plateaued since '05, despite little spikes here and there.

What's much less knowable is the demand side. If the global economy cracks badly enough, the demand curve could get some distance below supply, even if plateaued or declining. Of course, even that cannot long drive price below costs, which cannot but rise.

It's also a mistake to pooh-pooh speculation, both physical (hoarding and dumping) and financial. It can have a huge influence in the shorter term.

And less knowable still is geopolitics -- war and the leadup thereto basically.

All in all, the global production curve may well not match the curve of individual fields and regions. Bored we won't be.

if true

Considering the URL reads "debka.com", that's a big if.

"if true"

Europe Insight
The Mysterious Mr White: a Spy Tale from Russia
Posted by: Jason Bush on September 01

Ever heard of Michael Lee White? Chances are that you haven’t. Unless, that is, you happen to watch the Russian TV news, where Michael Lee White has recently played a starring role. Or more specifically his passport has, in a mysterious case that seems to come straight out of the Cold War.

Last Thursday, 28 August, the deputy chief of Russia’s General Staff, Colonel General Anatoly Nogovitsyn, held a news conference in Moscow, where he revealed that Russian troops in South Ossetia had found a passport belonging to an American citizen called Michael Lee White. He displayed a copy to assembled journalists, revealing that the passport was issued in Houston in 2001, and that the owner was a resident of Texas born in 1967.

Nogovitsyn said the passport had been recovered in the ruins of a building, in a South Ossetian village called Zemonekozi, that was fiercely defended by Georgian Interior Ministry special forces during the recent Russian-Georgian war. Nogovitsyn said that he had no more information about White's identity or his current whereabouts. But that didn't stop the general from drawing dramatic conclusions. “I do not know why he was there, but it is a fact that he was in the building, among Georgian special forces troops,” Nogovitsyn said.


These convenient passports -- like the one that fluttered out of the sky in the WTC hijacking case.

Here we see that the Russians can play the same game.

Or is there something mysteriously indestructible about passports, something that makes them always rise to the top of a flood?

Hello NeverLNG,

When this first came out: I tried googling that passport's name for several hours, but since I am not an expert: I didn't find anything noteworthy. IMO, some google-expert in the NSA/CIA, or some other govt. agency [doesn't the State Dept issue these passports?], or the MSM press, could quickly debunk or validate this passport and the associated person. I also find it curious that the Russians haven't published the results of their passport research, therefore, it so far appears to be just standard propaganda.

Same curiosity arises why the US persists in using naval battlewagons for Georgian aid delivery when a small airlift sortie could deliver the goods much faster and probably with less cost.

I found 250,000 links on the subject as google only gave me 192,000.

Heres the near top of the google list and as we all know WIKI isnt a credible source as anyone can enter any info they want.


Your Wiki comment is an assumption based on, what?, that there are no honest people left on the planet and peer review is BS? The only study I know of on the accuracy of Wiki found it to be *equal* to encyclopedias.

Or do you think this site, for example, is full of nothing but BS, too, given anyone ca post here?

And, no, I do not post anything to Wiki, but it galls me the assumptions people make.



He didn't say it was "nothing but BS." He said it wasn't credible, which I read as "take it with some NaCl." Good advice for this site, too. :)

I do participate at Wikipedia from time to time, and pranksters are definitely a problem. Popular pages with blatant vandalism are corrected quickly, but less popular pages or pages with subtle vandalism may go unnoticed for a long time. Usually you can tell when something is a joke, but sometimes you can't. I would definitely double-check anything you find at Wikipedia, at least if the information seems...unexpected.

If it's something that's worth double-checking, it's worth double-checking regardless of the source. There is little, rather, no difference between "isn't credible" and "is BS" in the context he used, Leanan, particularly the phrasing he used. It's particularly suspect in the context of posting here given the Megaprojects site is an important adjunct to TOD.

Regardless of any of the issues you raised, at the end of the day you get no better from an encyclopedia. Considering you CAN rely on Wiki to that extent, it is a rather remarkable human exercise. Since it is one of those very few examples of humans cooperating on a massive, constant scale, all the more so.

I stand by what I said.


Regardless of any of the issues you raised, at the end of the day you get no better from an encyclopedia.

I disagree. Massively. Encyclopedias might have an error or two, or be outdated, but Wikipedia's pranks are a whole different order.

Last year, someone (or a group of someones) was targeting the Cincinnati Reds. Dunno if it was a disgruntled fan, or a division rival. But it was constant. They cleverly didn't made any edits at the top of the pages, where they're more likely to be noticed. Instead, they edited the lower portions. And they didn't attack the main page, they attacked related pages - the ones about the players, coaches, announcers, etc. And even Reds fans were so amused and/or sympathetic that they didn't bother to correct the vandalism very quickly. They just laughed. Except some reporters who didn't get the joke, and went on rants about how irresponsible Internet users are.

You're making my point for me: It was a joke. Seems most thought it a joke. They CHOSE to leave it as is, **even as fans.** And a few fell for it. Then it was corrected.

Sounds pretty reliable to me.


Totally disagree. The Reds fans who knew enough to correct it thought it was funny enough that they didn't bother. The people who actually needed the information would have no way to know it was a joke.

Wikipedia is great, don't get me wrong. It has advantages over an encyclopedia. It's cheaper, for one. And it has articles about subjects no encyclopedia would touch. Much greater range of information.

But there are drawbacks, too, and that includes reliability. At least no one is intentionally trying to make a fool of you with an encyclopedia.

And more than once, I've gone to a previously useful Wikipedia page to find that it was hacked, with the "edit" tab removed so you couldn't revert it to a more useful state. Yes, you can notify a staff member and it get it fixed, but it takes time, and it's a pain. At least with an encyclopedia, you don't open it and find the pages have been mysteriously changed to gibberish or been replaced with ads.

We're going in circles. you say it has values encyclopedias don't have, but you say it's not reliable. A comprehensive study said it was.

It is designed to be peer edited and peer managed. That's it's design.

Show me something important, not trivia, that has any on-going problem at Wiki.

This is about perspective, and we simply disagree. I will end with what I have already said: it works as designed and a formal study, as opposed to anecdotal evidence, finds it credible.


For one example, in my experience just about all the medical wiki pages treat the bigbiz establishment orthodoxy as "verified" truth, while all challenges to it are not even allowed to be mentioned due to their being supposedly "unverifiable" (i.e., recorded on "mere" heretic websites rather than the establishment's own publications.) The result is that on medical topics wiki is as good as utterly useless. It's highly unlikely that this sort of failure is confined to medical.

There's the further very serious problem that some pages, such as those about autism, get domineered by talentless non-entity egotists with nothing better to do who consequently have too much time to constantly bully all alternative views off the pages in question.

The issue is accuracy, not content. You want to post on acupuncture, is someone stopping you? (Not a rhetorical question.)


I am talking about the truth being entirely suppressed from wiki and falsehoods being presented as the only, supposedly proven, supposed consensus. You can't get more inaccurate than that. The instance of wacko ideas such as acupuncture is not the point, because the fields that are most infested by falsehoods are where genuine hard scientific research clashes against multi-billion bigbiz vested interests - such as anti-nutrition propaganda, the coverups of the vast scandals of fluoridation, mercury dentistry, the autism explosion etc. You have to put this in the context that the supposedly "verifiable" sources (med journals etc) themselves apply strong censorship against anything that challenges the corporate deceits, so the truth is often forced to rely on "unverifiable" "mere" campaigning websites and publications.

You are not talking about a Wiki issue, you are talking about a societal issue. That's a bit beyond the scope of this sub-thread.


Absolute rubbish ccpo. Wiki censors out the truth without even mentioning it does. The internet as a whole does not even do the censoring. It is something that makes specifically Wiki infinitely inferior to any normal websearch, in respect of these subjects at least.

The instance of wacko ideas such as acupuncture is not the point

Interesting you should choose acupuncture as your example of a "wacko idea", considering that real science has suggested there may be a statistically significant effect of using acupuncture for certain types of treatments.

the coverups of the vast scandals of fluoridation

Interesting that you should choose fluoridation as your first example of "suppressed scientific truths", considering that there's a lengthy track record of people misrepresenting scientific findings to claim it causes health issues.

When a belief doesn't become accepted, sometimes that's because it's being suppressed. Much more likely, though, is that it's just plain wrong.

I won't be replying to either of those because they are getting way off topic and need too much off-topic space to do justice. The full story of how the fluoridation scam was deliberately started by Andrew Mellon can be found elsewhere on the web. Meanwhile I'll just mention that in a superb triumph of wishfulthinking you can now pay a mere £260 to get acupuncture without those bothersome needles! (Almost certainly cures peak oil too.)

Curiously again and again I note that the most rigid arrogant incompetence on the web comes from people who dress themselves up with pompous historical names, as in this instance of "Pitt the Elder". Probably in reflection that they have nothing of distinction by their actual own name.

I note that the most rigid arrogant incompetence on the web comes from people who dress themselves up with pompous historical names

If you're trying to convince people that you're not a crackpot, responding to citations of peer-reviewed science with ranting ad hominems isn't a winning strategy.

I understand that that's it's design. The point is that design has certain flaws. This is why one of Wikipedia's founders is starting an "experts only" version.

Another example. I went to a page on a national park earlier this summer. Among the things mentioned was that some hikers had disappeared from the park back in the '90s, and never been found. I made a note to myself to stay on the trail and be aware of security.

I went back recently, and that information had been removed. Turns out it was a fake story. It was an elaborate hoax, with fake references to nonexistent news stories, fake quotes from the fake victims' fake relatives, details about DNA evidence, etc. And the information had been corrected by other Wikipedians (grammar, spelling, word choice, etc. fixed), none of whom suspected it was fake. Finally, someone from the area removed the information. He smelled a rat, because he knew it would have been big news in his town if it ever happened. But the fake story was up for weeks. Because why would someone who lives in the area be looking up the page? They already know everything about the park that you could expect to find at Wikipedia.

IMO, this is one the biggest flaws of Wikipedia: the people who are most qualified to provide information/corrections may also be the ones least likely to visit the pages in question.

Again, you are citing a non-central issue, i.e., one relatively few will deal with.

I have no problem that there are weaknesses. What in this universe doesn't? But you are not at all supporting that Wiki is less reliable, particularly with regard to widely cited material, than other standard reference. Hell, one of the problems I have with a standard encyclopedia, and a point at which Wiki is far better (opinion), is depth of information.

Anywho... I don't think it fair to make the sort of generally denigrating remarks the post I responded to made.

Amd, again, no dog in this hunt, it's just that my hackles go on autopilot when I sense something unfair/intentionally untrue going on.


it's just that my hackles go on autopilot when I sense something unfair/intentionally untrue going on.

Then you must hate Wikipedia. :)

This is why one of Wikipedia's founders is starting an "experts only" version.

Which, for some things, at least, would be a whole lot more useful.

For example, a friend of mine teaches statistics. While preparing lectures, she will occasionally check out Wikipedia pages for teaching material. What she's found, though, is that many of the pages on stats topics are simply wrong, containing minor but important errors in the technical content. That makes it largely useless for anyone trying to improve their knowledge of statistics beyond anything but the most basic of levels; anyone relying on Wikipedia for statistics knowledge risks learning things that are false, and potentially having those misconceptions cause problems for them far down the line.

It's not just in stats, either - that's simply an example where I have (second-hand) expert domain knowledge. Problems like these are all over Wikipedia, precisely because of how it's designed. The theory is that it will eventually converge to high-quality material, but there's no real reason to believe that.

Perhaps the biggest problem is that the people with the most knowledge are often not the people with the most time and desire to edit. My friend, for example, didn't fix the mistakes she found, as she simply didn't have the time. In contrast, though, frequent editors can get emotionally attached to "their" pages, and simply outlast someone trying to apply much-needed corrections. They may even be doing it out of the goodness of their heart; it's been shown that many people who are incompetent in a field are too incompetent to realize they're incompetent, and hence they may well think they're valiantly defending the "truth" of the page. (Indeed, something like this was referenced in one of the articles about Wikipedia's unreliability, where an author's birth date was wrong, was corrected, and then was "corrected" back to the wrong date.)

This doesn't mean Wikipedia is useless; far from it. It just has limited usefulness. It's good for a rough introduction to a topic, and it's good for getting enough information to find more information. The problem is that, even though 90% of what's on there is good, 10% is bad, and anyone who doesn't already know the topic isn't going to know which is which.

That's why it's unreliable, and that's why it can never replace vetted information sources. It's a good tool, but not a universal one.

It's good for a rough introduction to a topic,

I hate to sound repetitive, so this will hopefully be my last on this: That's **exactly** what an encyclopedia is, is it not? Thus, we really, really are just chasing our tails with this topic.


That's **exactly** what an encyclopedia is, is it not?

Not in my opinion, no.

An encyclopedia can offer details about the key parts of the topic, whereas Wikipedia can't be used that way, as there's a significantly higher chance that those details would be wrong. In fact, there's a chance even the overall shape of the entry will be wrong, biased, or misleading. Especially for contentious issues where emotions can run high, the shape of the entry can come down to who has the most time to spend editing it.

This will be especially noticeable with fringe views, as almost by definition the people with the fringe belief will see the issue as vastly more important - and hence worthy of their editing time - than the majority with the mainstream view.

Take, for example, alien abduction. Most people think this is nonsense, but the few who don't think that see it as enormously important. Unsurprisingly, then, the Wikipedia entry is largely concerned with telling their view of the issue; out of a 25-page-long entry, only 1 gives the mainstream (skeptical) take on it. A reader with no a priori knowledge of the issue would likely come to the conclusion that alien abduction is the majority view, rather than the fringe view it actually is.

Wikipedia is unreliable at all scales, from tiny details to entire topics consisting of multiple related articles.

CCPO: I accept you're rebuke, you are correct I could
have phrased that better. TV in its infancy was touted
as educational device of modern times without equal. We see now its a boob tube for mass mind control and manipulation. Its my nature to be suspicious. I always get alarmed when people get together and work collectively on a golden calf.
To be honest, my skeptical nature causes me to doubt even myself. I demmand 3 forms of I.D. when I write myself a check and wont accept remittance untill it clears my own account. I myself am a product of many humans cooperating on a massive, constant scale.
I offer as evidence my acceptance of your stern chastisement.
Ive been reading you and trying to figure out if you might be more cynical or pessimistic then I am. Please
dont take that wrong. I admire cynicism and pessimisim
as a measure of intellect and integrity, trust me on this!


I appreciate the response and the fortitude needed to post it. As for the cynicism, et al., I would not be surprised to be more so than you... and most. But I've also got this idealist tendency that won't let me go all the way to the Dark Side. I guess one way to put it would be, if we ever create a relatively fair, egalitarian, socio-economically just, etc., society, it will likely be by accident. But that don't mean one hundred monkeys typing for one hundred years can't...


Moonie newspaper reporting a story that seems like it should be toppest of top secret.

Is this somehow to be spun into the fabric of lies that will determine public perception of the need to continue The War?

Russian units raid Georgian airfields for use in Israeli strike against Iran – report

Are these reports from DEBKAfile reliable? I seem to remember other people having problems with them.

Also, how reliable is Statfor.com and GlobalResearch.ca? What are the most reliable geopolitical news/intelligence sources?

IMO...no, they aren't reliable. Sometimes they're right, sometimes they're wrong.

I've found Stratfor is mostly wrong. (I'm still waiting for my $30 oil!) They strike me as being very politically biased, and it affects their analysis. (Still waiting for China to collapse, too.)

However here is the original source
Commentary: Israel of the Caucasus

Georgia also had a special relationship with Israel that was mostly under the radar. Georgian Defense Minister Davit Kezerashvili is a former Israeli who moved things along by facilitating Israeli arms sales with U.S. aid. "We are now in a fight against the great Russia," he was quoted as saying, "and our hope is to receive assistance from the White House because Georgia cannot survive on its own."
In a secret agreement between Israel and Georgia, two military airfields in southern Georgia had been earmarked for the use of Israeli fighter-bombers in the event of pre-emptive attacks against Iranian nuclear installations. This would sharply reduce the distance Israeli fighter-bombers would have to fly to hit targets in Iran. And to reach Georgian airstrips, the Israeli air force would fly over Turkey.

...Georgia, as Saakashvili saw his country's role, was the "Israel of the Caucasus."

Former editor of convicted felon Rev. Moon's (yes, that Moon) bought and paid for 'newspaper' is reliable?

Let's just say that 'reliable' is not a term I would ever think to use in connection with him. Interesting? Sure. You can find all sorts of things in the tall grass when wandering out in right field - because people like him never, ever, go into left field, ever.

Are you suggesting there's a right-wing Israeli/neocon plot to (falsely?) implicate neocons and Israelis for attempting to start World War 3?

Nope - I am suggesting that Borchgrave is roughly as interesting, and as reliable, as Lyndon LaRouche. And that his term as chief editor of the Washington Times was not exactly marred by charges of factual accuracy while avoiding an admittedly acknowledged conservative slant - unlike some organizations, convicted felon Moon's DC paper has never pretended to be anything resembling fair or balanced.

And Borchgrave's current association as editor at large of the convicted felon Moon's Unification Church owned UPI is possibly one reason, among several, that UPI bylines have grown rare over the years.

One could make a case for that.

Without trying to be either sarcastic or tinfoil-hat-wearing, I will be watching this development.

How quickly will this be "picked up" by Fox, and how will they spin it? Maybe Georgia should be turned over to the UN and it be declared some kind of Freeport. Anyone can bomb anyone else from Georgia?

The story is bollocks. As with all of these "stories" ( fantasies is a better description ) regarding Israeli plans to bomb Iran, it requires a large degree of geographical ignorance coupled with the temporary suspension of ones critical faculties to swallow.

For starters, it's worth pondering the fact that Israeli planes have to get to Georgia in the first place - it's rather a long trip and it requires getting, de minimis, the permission of Turkey for its planes to transit through its airspace to get there. Like Israel, Georgia doesn't share a border with Iran - you'd need to fly across third-party airspace ( ie Turkey, Armenia or Azerbaijan ) to get to Northern Iran, and then fly nearly 1000km through mountainous Iranian territory, passing at least 3 major Iranian air force bases, to get to the putative targets. All of this has to be done without anyone noticing what's going on!

For seconds, launching airstrikes isn't just a question of having somewhere to take off from, there are a whole host of advanced logistical requirements that need to be fulfilled for this to be possible, from the availability of high-quality jet fuel, support and maintenance crews, weaponry ( anyone really think that Turkey would allow bomb-laden Israeli aircraft to transit their territory? ), communications and a whole host of other advanced facilities/infrastructure that Georgia simply doesn't have.

For thirds, one of the key elements for any attack on Iran is surprise. There is no guarantee that the IAF can accomplish this when staging from home soil; trying to do such from third-party territory guarantees that operational security gets blown, which in turn guarantees that the IAF fails in its mission and loses a LOT of aircraft ( and more importantly, pilots ) to fuel starvation.

For fourths, one has to swallow that Georgia is perfectly happy to let Israel determine its foreign policy for it and is quite happy to be at war with Iran.....for as long as the Iranians wish to maintain that status.

For fifths, the Israelis have been talking about attacking Iran since 1995, but this is a smokescreen - their strategy has always been to get the US to do it.

For sixths, there is a marked tendency for "everything" to be interpreted/back-fitted via the lens of the pre-determined conclusion that Israel ( or the US ) is going to attack Iran. What is routinely ignored is that any and all of the third-parties who are presumptive Israeli puppets are, mystically, so enchanted by the Israeli mojo that they will willingly consent to be dumb, smiling adjuncts to actions that are clearly counter to their sovereign national interests. With the exception of Bahrain, ALL of Iran's neighbours have the standard range of diplo-political-commercial relations with their neighbour, and in most cases ( Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Qatar, UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Saudi ), these ties are expanding.

The author is certainly well connected.

Center for Strategic and International Studies

The current president and CEO of CSIS is John Hamre, former Deputy Secretary of Defense. He has held the position since April 2000.

The Chairman of the Board of Trustees is Sam Nunn, a former Democratic Senator from Georgia and longtime chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services. Its board of trustees includes many former senior government officials including Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, William Cohen, George Argyros and Brent Scowcroft. Its Transnational Threats Director is Arnaud de Borchgrave[1].

Do you mean that Cold Warriors of a feather flock together?

Yes, they do. Have you also noticed that none of them have held an active government post for more than a decade?

Things have been tough for Cold Warriors since the end of the Cold War, though they have been little busy bees trying to crank up some reason for why the interests they represent still require so many American tax payer dollars.

Kissinger, Scocroft, et al. have always had, and always will have (as long as they are alive), jobs. The Great Game never stopped. People with those types of experiences and connections are always in the mix. Call them what you want, but this 'shadow cadre' is not going away.

As with all of these "stories" ( fantasies is a better description ) regarding Israeli plans to bomb Iran, it requires a large degree of geographical ignorance coupled with the temporary suspension of ones critical faculties to swallow.

I find this amusing, since while I agree with your conclusion, all your reasoning is quite ignorant of any knowledge of warfare and you are debunking the Georgian-Israel-Iran angle with all the wrong reasons...

IAF does not need Georgia or any other country as a base to launch an air strike against Iran. While flying directly from Israel to Iran, they are perfectly capable of refueling their aircraft midflight before entering Iranian airspace. And anyway Georgia is only marginally closer to Iranian nuclear facilities than Israel itself. Irak for example is closer.

But here's my "story" of why this Iranian angle is BS in a few simple points:

IAF does not have the capability to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities. Unlike in the case of Operation Opera when bombing the Iraqi Osirak nuclear plant, in Iran they are faced with a modern alert air defense system and cannot simply 'fly-low' under radar unchallenged however surprising their attack might be. They need to 'open up' many corridors for entry and exit which would require them to disable a large part of Iran's air defense system, through both electronic warfare and conventional weapons.

And reaching to drop a few bombs on the nuclear facilities is just like throwing rocks at a hornet's nest. IAF does not have the numbers to damage Iran's nuclear program beyond repair. Most of it is designed to be bombed, located underground in bunkers and dispersed geographically with redundant facilities. IAF does not have strategic bombers and both their fighters and cruise missiles carry relatively small payloads of conventional explosives.

Finally it is not in the interest of Israel to strike Iran. Mainly because is not 1973 anymore. Israel is surrounded by Arab nations, sympathetic to Iran, with armies rebuilt since, with its airspaces, trade routes and water resources subject to be embargoed. Iran itself has a large modern military with strategic missile capability, with their conventional warheads possibly being able to evade Israeli missile defenses.

Israel needs the US - to carry out the attack to have a full and certain effect on the Iranian nuclear capability, as well the strategic missile capability - and afterwards to protect Israel from counter strikes and embargoes from Iran and other Arab nations. Unfortunately the US is weak now, with an overstretched military and a crippled economy, still dependent on Arab nations and other sympathetic nations to Iran such like Venezuela for its oil supplies.

There is therefore little if any chance of either Israel or the US from carrying out any actual military strike upon Iran. The more so however, we shall continue to here lots of talk and ranting and threats and military exercises and planted articles in the news to hide this disability from the public. The careers and ideologies of too many politicians and parties on all sides rests on this "story".

"There is therefore little if any chance of either Israel or the US from carrying out any actual military strike upon Iran."

how 'bout if the us carries out a military strike against an african nation just so the neocons can scare the american public into thinking how dangerous obama is ?

As with all things.. there is Wikipedia:

DEBKAfile (Hebrew: תיקדבקה‎) is an Israeli, Jerusalem-based English language open source military intelligence website with commentary and analyses on terrorism, intelligence, security, and military and political affairs in the Middle East.

On the whole Georgia thing - something that seems to have got about zip press coverage is that there were 1000 US soldiers in Georgia on joint exercises, which finished the day before Georgia took the actions which kicked all this into play... All based on openly available if obscure official info.


Given the reports from the locals of non-georgian non-russian speaking soldiers being involved, plenty of meat for conspiracy theorists to feast on.

In total, 1,630 servicemen participated, including representatives of the Joint Staff, Land Forces Staff, IV Brigade, the 41st and 42nd Battalions and Engineer Battalion Company from Georgia. From the USA, 1,000 military servicemen took part in the exercise including the United States Army Europe, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Expeditionary Unit, 1st Battalion 121 Infantry Regiment Georgian National Guard (Atlanta, Georgia) and 5045th General Support Unit. As well as Georgian and American participants, 10 servicemen each from Azerbaijan, Armenia and the Ukraine took part.

The conspiracy kook would be anyone who thinks American soldiers arent somewhere. Spin a globe and
toss a dart and you find it nearly impossible to miss an American military installation where ever the dart may stick.
Essentially America has soldiers and or bases in nearly every country ...or 75 % or so.

I'm saying in 5 to 10 yr.s we get World Made By Hand. Shrub and the Cheney mob have their acreage in Paraguay all picked out, so they could give a hoot. Time to start composting and setting seeds aside. Have to learn how to can tho. To my children, I'm sorry guys.


Behind a paywall, alas...

Aramco delays Khursaniyah output rise

Problems at associated gas plant stall plans for field to start full production of 500,000 barrels a day.

However, the commentary on the story is free:

Riyadh should welcome oil production delays

Riyadh may take heart from the fact its new production is not all coming on line while prices are below $110. Any further price drop and Saudi Arabia may regret chasing capacity.

From the second article

There are further potential delays for Aramco. The new, high-profile 1.2 million-b/d Khurais field looks set to face delays of more than six months, while expansion projects at fields including Shaybah and Nuayyim also look set to be put back.

Has anyone updated the Megaprojects entry at Wikipedia yet? It seems to me that megaprojects for 2009 are starting to disappear...

What another one of those amazing coincidences - price of oil sinking, and KSA still has a lot of productive capacity, which will begin pumping real soon now.

Any day. Really. More oil than the market can ever handle. Really.

Happy motoring.

Damn, MEED subscription's $1100/year. Pity since they regularly print intriguing stuff.

Aramco Confirms Having Brought 500,000-b/d Khursaniyah Field Onstream

These two things are not the same.

Sounds like the Saudi's have scaled back promises to bring online the 250,000kbpd of capacity they promised back in June (in advance of the gas plant being ready for the planned Jan 09 date).

So the price fall has its first consequence.

With 250kbpd out of the market, will the brokers take account, or are they too wrapped up in the Nov election?

I have a couple of questions for the oil field guys.
How many producing wells would a field like Khursaniyah have?
Over how much area are they concentrated?
Is building the network of pipelines that connect the wells to the processing plants one reason for the string of delays Aramco has encountered?
Terrain an issue?
Thanks in advance.

I don't know the exact number of wells, but it is probably around 50 producers, each an MRC well producing 10k barrels/day. This is for the 3 fields (Khursaniyah, Abu Hadriya, Fadhili). They are not large fields in terms of area, but there are multiple reservoir levels. All three are oblong dome structures and are about 7 miles in diameter. Producing wells are spaced more towards the center of the fields.

The delays are reportedly due to problems with the associated gas processing facilities. They don't want to just flare off the gas, as it has become too valuable to the Saudis.

Terrain is flat as a pancake.

Ethanol Controversy

Having reviewed recent ethanol news, the ethanol coalition seems complacent in as much as ethanol is cheaper than gasoline. Ethanol is being promoted as a substitute for gasoline when in reality its energy content is much lower than gasoline:

A gallon of ethanol contains almost 82,000 BTUs. A gallon of unleaded regular contains about 115,000 BTUs. A 42 gallon barrel of ethanol is the equivalent of about 30 gallons of gasoline.

Some studies have shown that the amount of energy invested in producing a gallon of ethanol may exceed the energy return from the gallon of ethanol. Other studies showed a very low return of energy invested.

Loss to the economy may be measured in record high corn prices, loss of stockpile inventory (2008), probable reduction of corn exports going forward, damage to livestock raising operational profits, and a burden on the taxpayer to subsidize an industry based on flimsy guesswork.

A Harvard Law Review article stated the combustion of ethanol released known carcinogens to the atmosphere. These carcinogens are formaldehyde and acetaldehyde.

Ethanol subsidies should be ended. Ethanol production quotas are socialistic in nature and interfere with a free market society. Manipulation of the energy markets by forcing purchase of inferior energy solutions created a problem that is not allowed to adjust back to normal as long as the law conforms to Stalinist-Marxist principles.

'Ethanol subsidies should be ended. Ethanol production quotas are socialistic in nature and interfere with a free market society. Manipulation of the energy markets by forcing purchase of inferior energy solutions created a problem that is not allowed to adjust back to normal as long as the law conforms to Stalinist-Marxist principles.'

Well, you can make the argument on energy grounds. But your economics are bullshit. There is no such thing as a 'free market society'. Free markets don't work. That has been proven. Before you were born. Neither do State run economies. What works are mixed economies. Everyone knows this. Everyone except the brainwashed free market fundamentalist sloganeers of The U.S. right wing. Every successful economy in the world is a mix of public and private economies. To deny this is to deny reality and hard won empirical evidence. Extremism doesn't work. Pragmatism does. Mixed economies work. If you are continually at war with the public portion of your economy, you will fail.

I could only guesstimate what % of the current USA economy is "free market"-maybe a third? Maybe less.

What would be in the "free market" in your guestimate? I can't think of much. Expresso stands, maybe.

With farming socialized by Big Ag, and energy socialized by ethanol and other subsidies, and now housing about to be socialized by Treasury takeover of Freddie and Fannie -- where is a libertarian to go for shelter?

Not even that. I used to import coffee, and is far from a "Free Market".
Even the cannabis growers prices are kept high from the government "war on drugs".
Capitalism is a government run program.

This isn't really socialism. The State doesn't actually own these entities; it merely guarantees their losses. It seems to me better described as textbook fascism - the state in service to the corporate class along with totalitarian and authoritarian enforcement. The class distinctions of "who benefits" make the socialist argument difficult.

Housing isn't going to be socialized by the bailout. It's the losses that will be socialized. Looting is the word that I'd use.

cfm in Gray, ME

It is textbook-it is following the United States of South America model to a tee. I assume this one means Detroit's bailout (throwing taxpayer money in the garbage) is a slam dunk, then the airlines can suckle next and on it goes-if they aren't cutting you a cheque, you have to pay for the whole scam.

Good article by Denninger on this one-basically these guys and guys just like them are supposed to guide the USA through the post peak period (while resisting the temptation to steal every dollar that isn't nailed down) http://market-ticker.denninger.net/

However, subsidies aside, if you're arguing that requiring nutritional information on all food items means there's no free market for food, then I haven't got much use for your narrow libertarian definition of free market.

I don't really understand that.

In my world, "nutritional" labels would be optional -- print them if you want, leave them off if you want. Sell what you can.

In the ADM world, honest nutritional labeling is forbidden. Mandatory nutritional labeling is o.k. if it conforms to their distorted standards.

The question boils down to what one means by "free market." To most people, "free" means "unregulated," but in classical economic theory, unreglated markets are not free, because they will suffer from the three broad categories of market failures. One of these is information - such as labeling. (The other two are scarcity power and externalities.) A market can be free ONLY if both parties to a transaction have all relevant information. Otherwise the market is distorted - distorted by internal forces rather than by external regulation, but distorted nevertheless.

>Sell what you can.

Indeed. Speaking of which, time for my cigarette, which makes me look sooooo cool and does not in any way cause cancer!

Ethanol's lower price compensates for the reduced BTUs. If it is not priced appropriately in your area do not buy it. This is often the case even in the Midwest.

Gasoline is full of carcinogens so no difference there.

EROEI studies are silly nonsense when they compare things that are different. Comparing things that are not alike proves nothing. All energy is not alike. EROEI is not analogous to $RO$I where the units out are the same as the units in.

EROEI is invalid because it ignores price as in the ethanol example cited. It also ignores unique characteristics such as renew-ability, utility as well as availability.

Energy is a name given to a group of commodities that are energy related. It is similar to other groups of commodities like grain and metals. Within these commodity groups are wide ranges of variations.

No one would even consider a concept such as grain out/grain in. The wide variation in grain prices, characteristics and usefulness makes the concept a joke. Likewise for metal out/metal in. Metals range from the abundant and cheap iron to the rare and precious like platinum. Anyone proposing metal return on metal invested as a stantard for selecting the best metal to use would be laughed out of town.

Energy has forms that are just as varied if not more so. Energy is not a uniform measuring unit like dollars. All dollars are the same (at least in one moment in time). Energy units may look concrete but they only exist in the abstract like bushels of grain or pounds of metal. Different forms of energy units can no more be compared or divided than bushels of corn and bushels of soybeans. Nor can pounds of iron be compared or divided by pounds of platinum. It would be silly nonsense.

When EROEI compares energy froms that are different, it proves nothing. It is silly nonsense.


Repeat it often enough, and maybe it just becomes true on its own..

The ONLY reason to compare things is because they have SOME similarities and SOME differences. You don't compare things that are completely identical. That's what 'Evaluation' means, to find comparative values, be they energetic, financial, etc..

Energy is not a uniform measuring unit like dollars

And all that work I put into learning physics in college was wasted. I should have stuck with economics.

I should have stuck with economics.

You should have stuck with acoustics, some sounds are more equal than others ...

You've demonstrated your grasp of the first law of thermodynamics; but your eyes must have glazed over when you reached the chapter on entropy and the second law.

Do you understand why low-grade heat cannot provide as much useful work as the same quantity of electrical energy?

Do you understand why batteries exist when all they do is convert electrical energy to chemical energy at a loss(in the form of waste heat with little abillity to perform work)?

EROEI studies are silly nonsense when they compare things that are different. Comparing things that are not alike proves nothing.

Um, people compare things that are not alike all the time. Do I want to spend my money today on a DVD, some train tickets or a hatstand? Well, it depends on lots of factors and it involves actually thinking, but it's not a silly thing to be thinking about.

I think you're looking for the concept of fungibility: things which are fungible, like hard currency, can be used without any differences for all of their uses; less fungible items incur costs/losses of some kind when being used in some ways. In some ways doing calculations is easier. But just because it's easier doesn't mean that it's sensible to declare "non fungible items simply do not exist". You should actually step up to the plate and engage in analysis about the difficult things. If you've got a problem with particular EROEI calculations then it would helpful to elaborate which of things you disagree with rather than engage in vague handwaving.

I tried to confirm what you wrote and failed. I compared reel to reel, 8 track tapes, cassettes to CD ,pressed vinyl records 33 and 45 rpm....well you get my point.

They were all different and yet similar. Thats why I compared them. I was going to compare women....but the wife walked in and looked over my shoulder while I typed this.

In some areas all you can get is ethanol blend. It is required by state laws. It is a shame that as ethanol was priced to sell some ethanol companies were losing money due to the high price of corn at the same time Tysons food reported quarterly loses due to the high price of corn chicken feed, ranchers were slaughtering their herds as they could not afford to feed them and fish farmers were draining their ponds due to high feed costs.

According to Lester Brown of the EPI:

"The U.S. corn crop, accounting for 40 percent of the global harvest and supplying 70 percent of the world’s corn exports, looms large in the world food economy."

If the United States used more than 3 billion barrels of gasoline per year. To switch to ethanol would require more than 4 billion barrels of ethanol (7/10 conversion factor). The United States grain crop was roughly 16 billion bushels (wheat + corn) Some ethanol distilleries in the world used wheat instead of corn.

16 billion bushels is the total U.S. grain harvest times 2.7 gallons per bushel yield = about 43.2 billion gallons of ethanol per year from all the grain produced. That is about 1 billion barrels of ethanol. Thus you might convert all the corn in Iowa and all the wheat from Kansas; and all other states' and territories' grain to ethanol. You might exhaust all your harvests and get about 1/4 of the gasoline BTU equivalent needs from all the ethanol you produce.

The United States corn harvest is expected to be 13 billion bushels this year; less than the 2007 harvest.

The EPACT law mandating ethanol use requires that grain ethanol production be capped at 15 billion gallons per year in 2015. If you divide 15 billion gallons by 2.7 gallons per bushel then you might need 5.5 billion bushels of corn from the 13 billion bushel harvest to meet your government mandated ethanol quota. 5.5 billion bushels greatly exceeds all U.S. corn exports. In 2007 the United States corn exports were about 2.25 billion bushels. Meeting your Federal grain ethanol caps might require you to pay inflated prices for food and have a ripple effect on the world economy. The ethanol requirements exceed the world corn export market. The law gives you an alternative of making cellulosic ethanol that has never been done economically to replace your high price energy inefficient grain ethanol with a less efficient more expensive cellulosic ethanol. In addition the United States is nearing a 10 trillion dollar debt level that may seem small to a Washington government official who gets paid after T-bills are auctioned. The interest on a debt of that size is quite high, while the monetary inflation associated with outgrowing the size of the lending pool might be disastrous if it were to occur.

Sounds like there's a corn Export Land Model in there.

"According to recently published data, oil output from all major Western oil companies is on an ominous decline trend. Exxon Mobil, for example, announced that its average oil output has fallen by 614,000 barrels per day in 2008."

It doesn't have to be ominous for the investor. Some interesting remarks from the GLOBE AND MAIL by Rob Carrick about Canada's energy markets, as below. Extracted from:

"According to Brooke Thackray, author of a coming book called Thackray's 2009 Investor's Guide, this month is unquestionably a low point on both Canadian and U.S. markets. ... Energy has been the second worst performer on the Canadian market recently, but Mr. Thackray's S&P 500 data found it to be a solid performer in September most times. ... "

October, despite its reputation for market crashes, is generally a better time to buy petroleum stocks. Dabbling directly in oil futures is a fool's game, but there are lots of junior petes who are quietly and steadily pumping oil from infill drilling or small fields abandoned by the Seven Sisters. I am into Alberta conventional oil companies at the 500 barrels/day level plus or minus; nothing spectacular but nothing to keep an investor awake at night either. Peak oil investing doesn't have to be a roller-coaster ride.

Alberta's conventional oil production peaked in the late 1970s, and is now one-third of what it was despite three times as many wells. (Numerical data from Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers at www.capp.ca) The only reason our total production has increased is because of the oilsands. There is still conventional oil to be pumped at a profit, albeit no more elephant fields.

Note that the oil exporters with unconventional resources have two hurdles to get over in order to show increasing net oil exports: they have to offset conventional (and for that matter unconventional production) declines from existing production and they have to offset domestic consumption increases (if the country is seeing increasing consumption).

The two largest sources of unconventional oil exports to the US--Venezuela and Canada--have both shown annual declines in net oil exports and current monthly declines in oil shipments to the US.

The two largest sources of unconventional oil exports to the US--Venezuela and Canada--have both shown annual declines in net oil exports and current monthly declines in oil shipments to the US.

Based on which data?

Taking net exports as EIA production minus consumption, we get 1.092Mb/d of Canadian net exports in 2007 vs. 1.024Mb/d in 2006 (and no previous years over 1Mb/d).

Gross Canadian exports to the US are also up month-on-month, although the data series is variable enough that the amount is statistical noise. It's down more significantly from spring, but (a) the data shows that happened in most prior years as well, and (b) US oil consumption has dropped (while internal production has marginally increased) which has led to much lower imports than last year, so it's not clear there's much that can be drawn from the monthly data.

You're largely right about Venezuela, though; their oil production has been falling rapidly (~25% over the last decade), due in no small part to political turmoil. Taken together, Venezuela's production decreases largely cancel out Canada's increases (together they've produced 6Mb/d for the last 10 years, but the split has gone from 60/40 to 40/60), so net exports have fallen by about 0.7Mb/d.

Venezuela has enormous heavy oil reserves, but - based on recent history - it's not clear those resources are going to allow significant production in the near future.

You are correct about Canada and the EIA annual net export data. The EIA has revised their 2007 estimate, which initially showed a 1.5%/year decline rate.

Venezuela has shown, on average a net export decline of about 100,000 bpd per year for 10 years. While their bitumen production is a wild card, at their current rate of decline, they will be approaching zero net oil exports in about 20 years.

In terms of oil shipments to the US, Canada is down for the last two months, versus the same time last year. In terms of year to date (January to June) they are about flat with the same time last year.

Oil shipments to the US from Venezuela are down about 14% January to June versus last year.

In any case, as I noted in my first post, the unconventional producers have several hurdles to get past in order to meaningfully boost their net oil exports.

Here's a question from a fairly regular lurker with no knowledge of energy issues except what I read here. I missed several weeks while we were on vacation--I hope I'm not asking a question that's already been fully discussed, but if so, maybe someone can point me to the discussion. The GOP is talking a lot about bringing down oil prices by opening up offshore and ANWAR drilling. If there really is enough oil there to bring down the oil prices, will those projects become uneconomical? In other words, are lower oil (and hence gasoline) prices incompatable with investments in more drilling?

You are on the right track. Oil suppliers have to cover their marginal costs of drilling. If some large, cheap supply (and/or crash in demand)comes along, market/economics theory dictate that price will decline and demand will increase. So therefore if some magic highly pressurized near-surface land-based reservoir of light, sweet crude is discovered in an easy to produce area, like Kansas, then oil companies will draw from that source and stop paying high prices to drill in the arctic seabed and dig up sand and cook the oil out of it and so forth. Or, if you are KSA, and demand softens, then you quietly convince OPEC to pull the throttle back gradually on their exports of relatively cheap-to-produce crude and maximize your long-term financial prospects. The game is to get as much price as you can from the market without killing the geese that are laying your golden eggs of oil demand. Interesting how oil tends to rise in a saw-tooth pattern of ups and downs, but the overall longer-term trend line is up. Frogs in a pot approaching boiling one degree at a time anyone?

There are quite a lot of issues. One is that the MMS estimates are very optimistic--they assume that 60% of oil in place will be recovered and 40% of natural gas in place. This is even the case in very deep water locations.

Another issue is that most of the supposed oil offshore is "next door" to oil we are already developing, and already in line to be put up for bid. Most of the supposed undiscovered oil and gas is in the central and west portion of the Gulf of Mexico, next to Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. The amounts reported as yet undiscovered are truly amazing: more than double what has been removed from these areas over the last 40 years. When one looks at the maps (large PDF) of these areas, they seem already to be mostly filled up with leases. Where is all of this extra oil to come from?

When one excludes areas already in line to be leased, the amount of undiscovered oil and gas supposedly available is 18 billion barrels of oil and 76 trillion cubic feet of gas. As above, they are figured assuming 60% of oil in place will be recovered, and 40% of natural gas in place. With these very aggressive recovery assumptions, the amount of oil in place come out to 2.4 years worth of US oil consumption, and 3.3 years worth of US gas consumption.

The actual amounts will be extracted over probably a twenty-year period, generally not starting until at least eight years from now, so are unlikely to amount to much in any one year.

Hello TODers,

As usual, I struggle to keep my postings as brief as possible, so I will refer my fellow TODers to explore my earlier discussions in the archives.

It sure would be nice if FEMA dedicated a staffer to outline on TOD their strategic postPeak plans going forward. Or are 'Brownies still doing a heck of a job' and just collecting paychecks with no effort or forethought to optimize our postPeak decline?

For example, if Ike is indeed targeting the GoM and/or NOLA, will the people be able to afford to evacuate again? Should FEMA just offer free credit so these people evacuating can get the gasoline, food, and hotel rooms for their familes? Is this tax burden fair to the rest of the taxpayers? Is there a better way to proactively design this recurring situation, or is haphazard, poorly executed, reactive responses the only governmental choice?

Nature readily provides a possible, mitigative solution: seasonal migrations as evidenced by the herds of animals traversing the Serengeti, the arctic terns and caribou herds, the penguins of Antarctica, Monarch butterflies of Mexico, etc.

We see evidence of this already in the Overshoot herd as much has been previously written about RV-snowbirds driving to optimal weather, the Deadheads traipsing after the band to catch the next concert, NASCAR fanatics pursuing the cross-country chase to follow their favorite racing team, Cesar Chavez's migratory farm workers, the '30s Dust Bowl migration, and the migration of Southerners to the industrial North.

The land mass and watersheds from the GoM to the Great Lakes should be thought of as the American Serengeti, and IMO, FEMA could do much to more cheaply facilitate a regular seasonal migration across this area.

AlanFBE's ideas, the conversion of lawns, golf courses, and other mono-crop areas to manual bio-intensive permaculture expanses, the building of free solar powered cooking, bathing, and laundry facilities, and O-NPK recycling could do much to lower our civilizational overhead. Imagine trains heading north each spring carrying people and their winter accumulation of appropriately seasoned humanure and compost for dispersive distribution.

Other workers could be involved in the biosolar habitat redesign of Detroit, Cleveland, and other currently non-functional areas. IMO, if the drought in Atlanta worsens, or the GoM grid becomes highly Olduvai problematic: FEMA's early preparation up North could do much to reduce the scale and duration of our machete' moshpit tendencies.

Imagine millions on bicycles pulling a small trailer behind--wouldn't those thermo-plastic vault-boxes [see earlier DB] make ideal, low cost shelters at night, then serve to move your small possessions daily?

FEMA: please post your future plans anytime--Thxs!

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

so I will refer my fellow TODers to explore my earlier discussions in the archives.

How can they possibly find them? You are a prolific poster, who usually posts many posts every day, on a zillion different topics, and have been for years. How can they possibly find the relevant "earlier discussions"?

This is why I encourage you to post your "discussions" in your own blog. You can attach keywords to each one, making it easy to find "earlier discussions."

You can post them here, too, if they're not too long. You can hide your e-mail address and turn off the comments at your blog if you don't like responses you're getting. But you really should put your work in your own blog, because posting it in the DrumBeat comments bit by bit over the years is pretty much like throwing it into a black hole. How is anyone going to find all the pieces and put it all together?

TOD wouldn't be the same without Bob and his somewhat offtrack posts.

But Hey! We need those type of posts.

I read all his posts and don't intend to search for them but if I did and wanted to are you telling me that the search function won't hack it?

Blogs are ok but IMO what he says is relevant to the discussions on DB.

Is not DBs designed for just this purpose? Yes it takes bandwidth. All posts take bandwidth. They have a halflife of about 2 days. So whats the problem?

Airdale-keep it up bob,,I appreciate your posts

I'm not saying he shouldn't post here.

I read all his posts and don't intend to search for them but if I did and wanted to are you telling me that the search function won't hack it?

YES. Searching the DrumBeat comments is nigh impossible.

Is not DBs designed for just this purpose?

NO. What he's using blog comments for is not what they were designed for.

They have a halflife of about 2 days. So whats the problem?

That is the problem. He's putting a lot of work into posts that have a half-life of 2 days. Then suggesting that people refer to them later. That just doesn't work. It's not what blog comments are meant to do.

There is a whole lot of impassioned wording being created and posted here on DB and as comments to other posts all for a viewing half-life of two days or so. I thought that TOD was both a near real-time discussion forum and a repository of everyone's thoughts. Without an effective and efficient search function, though, it is more like a daily pressure relief valve...kind of like opening the window and screaming 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore', but without the cops coming by.

Bob's stuff is more than impassioned. He spends a lot of time on research, and provides links, etc.

But after two days, down the black hole it goes.

Bob Shaw - Do you have a file with all your posts in it?

Aangle has a pretty extensive collection of TOD posts maybe he would host you.

Or someone else.

IMO its too good to loose.

EDIT: Hey TODers out there. Setting up and maintaining a blog is easy for some of you but it is still a considerable task for most (please don't post how easy you think it is).

There are other considerations too.

Is there not anyone out there that would archive Totoneila to their site and link?

Betcha it would increa$e traffic.

Hey TODers out there. Setting up and maintaining a blog is easy for some of you but it is still a considerable task for most (please don't post how easy you think it is).

Sorry, but it is easy. Easier than posting here. If you can post here, you can certainly set up a free blog at Blogger and post to it. Like Bart said, there is no excuse.

Creating your own blog is a much better solution than asking someone else to host the stuff. Trust me, it's a lot more work for someone else to do it. Hosting someone else's work is a PITA, especially if they update/post new material a lot. Every time they want to add new material or edit the old, they have to contact the person doing the hosting and ask that the changes be made. Then the updates have to be proofed, corrected if necessary, etc. If the person doing the hosting is busy, sick, or otherwise not available, you're out of luck. If they lose interest and stop paying their hosting fees, your work goes away, and there's nothing you can do about it.

If you run your own blog, OTOH, it's as quick and easy as posting a comment here. And if you need to make corrections, you can, as easily as you can edit your post here. And you can do it whenever you want - unlike here, where once someone replies, or the thread is more than a week old, no more edits can be made.

"Sorry, but it is easy."

I know I had one for a while.

Called Link-N-Blog. Cute huh?

The problem is that this issue keeps coming up sooooooooo?

I just think that Bob might be afraid that he will lose his place here at TOD if he sets up somewhere else and I for one would not like to see that happen either.

IMO Totoneila is a treasured person in the TOD and PO community not that there really is a community but we all like to think that there is one and that we are apart of something.

Just a thought, back under my bridge now

Sincerely - Big Uguly TOD Troll

I just think that Bob might be afraid that he will lose his place here at TOD if he sets up somewhere else and I for one would not like to see that happen either.

There's no reason to fear that. Many people have their own blogs and post here, too. Including the staff of TOD. JoulesBurn, Khebab, Robert Rapier, Engineer-Poet, etc., all have their own blogs. I have one myself.

you forgot me

Only one post though - I found it too hard....;-)

That's the hard part.
Doing it day in and day out.
The masses want constant fresh new meat.

Doing a single first post to your new blog is easy.
Doing the 100th? ... pricey

I wouldn't host Bob's work but I would gladly give him a tutorial on how to set up a blog. He really needs to be in charge of his own content, per Leanan's comment above.

With screen sharing from any number of places, realtime computer tutorials are very easy to do now.

Adobe has one which is pretty nice and includes live video:

Then there's DimDim

and Yugma:

All are free for small numbers of users; my current favorite is DimDim.

Bob, let me know if you want to take me up on my offer if starting a blog is interesting to you and currently a roadblock.

Leanan is 100% right.

If you are serious about your writings, get a blog and post them there. Otherwise your work will be lost or inaccessible.

This is the most common advice I give to people who want to contribute to Energy Bulletin. If someone has a blog, it demonstrates to me that he/she is serious and worth paying attention to.

I agree also that Bob has the potential to be more influential. I often follow up his leads (for one thing, I share his obsession with fertilizer).

Blogs are free and easy-to-use. Really, there is no excuse!

Energy Bulletin

Really, there is no excuse!

With due respect Bart, not everyone has inborn programming ability.

For some of us it comes easy.
For others, you can "train" them over & over again and it never sticks.

As Rex continued to pedal on the highwire and under the giant circus tent, a nagging thought kept recurring: This was a new trick; and after all, he was an old dog.

ZERO programming required. Blogger is set up to appeal to the lowest common denominator. When I said it's easier than posting a comment here, I was not exaggerating. I meant it literally. Blogger is set up so even a young child can use it.

I don't think tutorials are even necessary. Just click the "create a blog" button, and they walk you through it.

I link to the comments here frequently. It gives you an idea of what Khebab is working on next. Yet, I also had a hard time finding a particular graph that he had posted several weeks ago. Fortunately I did eventually find it, and I will learn to keep link notes next time.

I agree. I'd like to see at least one post from Bob and one from Ilargi/Stoneleigh each day, even if they have their own blogs.

I second Leanan's point - searching the Drumbeat comments is virtually impossible, even when you use Google's advanced search and have a good idea of the terms and timeframe.

Preserving your thoughts on a single blog will actually allow a resource to be built up which would, possibly as a surprise to some of those who read some of your earliest posts, be quite valuable.

Gosh, this all could have been said so much nicer:

Bob, we value your input so much we wish to subscribe to your newsletter. So go get a blog and write write write! We all want to read more. Me included.

Not being sarcastic.

Someone asked Bob for basics on NPK, and the reply was worthy of a keypost or blog FAQ in of itself.

Thanks, Bob, for all your posting. I once tried to search for info you had said a while back. Took me ages to find it again in TOD! Let us know if you do plan a website. If you get a blog, I fully expect it to also be linked in the margin on TOD.

Bob, why don't you simply open your own blog, then copy and paste items from it to here?
That way if someone wants to check back on your work, all they have to do is check out your blog.

Leanan is right, your work is far too important to allow it to disappear, and if you did it this way little extra work would be involved.

If you tag the items, you will shortly have a searchable resource of great value.



Information is most valuable when it's:
a) relevant
b) easy to find

Bob's posts easily meet a), to my mind, but don't meet b).

Bob, you can create a blog at www.blogspot.com in seconds. A few hours of copying and pasting and you'll have a really good corpus to start with.

Your comments can be found easily here http://www.theoildrum.com/user/totoneila/stories_with_comments

I'm quite sure you'll get a good number of people following your work in no time, especially if you turn on the RSS feed (it might be on by default).

Perhaps we are going to see more frequent and more destructive hurricanes in the N.O. area, among other areas. The people in NO may even have to evacuate again in the coming week. Many, having seen the quality of predictions last time, may hesitate to move. Not advisable, since if the big one really does hit, we could have a repeat of something like Katrina. Anyway, the damages are still in the billions of dollars and these damages will probably be recurring in the years ahead. While it would be politically unacceptable to deny these people federal aid, there must be some limit to the expenditures available given all our other problems, the pending demise of fannie and freddie, for example.

I don't know if your seasonal migration idea is feasible, but I think that funds should be expended to encourage people to relocate from areas like New Orleans.

If a river flooded on a continuing basis, we would expect people to relocate or not move there in the first place. We would provide incentives or disincentives to get people to move to higher ground. Insurance companies, certainly, would begin to refuse to insure houses built in unsafe areas. New Orleans should not be exempt from this approach.

Anyway, in the mean time, I would suggest portable housing like this for those living in New Orleans. http://www.martinhousetogo.com/

Between the torpical storms, hurricanes, and political intrigue one might miss that the Friday Closer struck again:

Silver State of Nevada Is 11th U.S. Bank Collapse This Year

And as a "bonus" this was slipped into the mix:

Paulson Plans to Bring Fannie, Freddie Under Government Control

Destruction is all around us and in many forms...


Lotta discussion on this in yesterday's DrumBeat.

"Capitalism is a government run program"
It has never existed without out a strong central state to enforce it's rules (occasionally violently).
This has been true, as it arose in the 15th century Italian States, and has increased it's need for central government as it has expanded.


Awww ... c'mon you guys. Surely not !

"I love the woman," the pilot on our flight shouts over the noise of the engine, "especially what she wants to do with oil, we just have to drill more, there is no alternative. What's the point of leaving it all in the ground?"

Returning Evacuees Screw-Ups

A fairly large number of public assistance evacuees (in New Orleans, walk to one of 17 pick-up locations with suitcase and gov't takes over from there) are being returned too early. Special needs (dialysis patients, wheelchair, etc.) are being returned too soon, and those unwilling to sit in the heat without power are being brought back too soon. More a problem outside of New Orleans.

Massive scramble and lots of cross-parish transfers (New Orleans has more electricity (>90%) than any other urban area except Shreveport and we are taking a fair number of the "OOPS" returnees in makeshift shelters.

An effort is being made to get psychiatric and other care for the returning homeless and into half-way homes instead of just returning them to the streets.



I found these two web sites when I was searching for maps that would show the effects of sea-level rises:

Effect of a change in sea level on worldwide topography

Sea-level rise modeling using Google Earth maps

Re: Toyota to build batteries in the US (at the top)

They mention in this that they are aiming in this for a range of 8miles for the plug-in.

Hands up those who think as I do that this is a far smarter move than GM going for 40miles?

The Volt is using a battery of around 16Kwh, and it costs a lot - they already admit that they are going to loose money at first, but are angling for the government to foot the bill in a bail-out.

The price also looks to be fairly high, at $30-40k.

The PHEV Prius though will be able to get by with a battery of around 3kwh, with all that that implies for cost.
They may not be able to do quite as well as that implies, as they have to get a similar amount of flow from smaller batteries as the Volt gets, but their designs are going to be optimised for this.

The lower all-electric mileage won't suit everyone, of course, but the premium is likely to be pretty modest and there are a lot of people who either do less than that per day, or could re-charge at work, or simply run it for a small extra mileage with the petrol engine kicking in and still get excellent overall mileage.

At 16 miles a day for 300 days and 8 miles a day for 65, you come out to around 5200 miles a year all-electric (I'm assuming that on many non-work days it would not be convenient to re-charge, although doubtless many half way houses will happen, so that you do some shopping, go home, and part-charge it for a couple of hours to run the kids out to an activity.

Rounding down to 5,000 miles per year, and assuming that you have retired a car which does 25 mpg at $4/gal, your savings are about $800/year,as the cost of the electricity is minimal and even above your electric range limit the mileage would be far better than your old 25/gal car.

Currently the lithium batteries cost around $1-1.5k per kwh, (Toyota hope to reduce that to around $500/kwh after a few years, from memory)
So you have saved the extra cost of the car after 4 or 5 years, and most of us here feel that petrol prices will continue to rise.

It doesn't sound like a bad deal, and far better than the Volt.

For a large majority in my neighborhood, 8 miles is more than the ROUND TRIP commute (with a side stop to make groceries, pick-up dry cleaning, etc.).

Best Hopes for TOD neighborhoods,


Same here in Bristol.
Somehow I can't see it prising you from your beloved '82 Mercedes - that is darn good in a strong wind, too!

I just can't see the delta in the Volt, or see many people wanting to pay the extra.
Maybe at $20/gal.....

I would think it would make sense to offer, higher capacity batteries as an option. Those who will benefit from say a 16mile range (i.e. the savings in fuel from the increase from 8 to 16, is greater than the increase in cost associated with the bigger battery), could buy into the extra range. My working asumption (presumption?), is that the cost of extra storage capacity should decrease with time. It would be nice if the product would accomodate the variation in customer needs, and the fact that within a few years the economics may change enough to make an upgrade economical.

That's more the field of custom conversions.
If you check out the link to Toyota, they specifically mention that space for batteries is one design consideration - they are trying harder than GM to keep total weight and size down, so it is also economical in petrol mode.

Basically there will not be anywhere convenient to put them.

Lets keep things in perspective.
GM will market the car initially in the USA, with its considerably greater geographic dimensions, not foreign countries like Great Britain or New Orleans.

GM will market the car initially in the USA, with its considerably greater geographic dimensions

Red herring - the size of the country doesn't matter, just the layout of the local area. If you're living in New York or Seattle, it doesn't matter how far away the other one is.

Data available from the BTS shows this. In particular, consider their survey of daily trips; 73.5% of those trips were 8 miles or less.

That survey was in 1995, but it's unlikely that fraction has dropped too far (average trip length then was 9 miles, vs. 10 miles today). Accordingly, it's likely that about 2/3 of car journeys in the US can be handled by an 8-mile electric range, which would lower total gas-powered mileage by about 25%.

(For reference, a 40-mile range would cover 95% of car journeys, and lower gas-powered mileage by about 60%.)

My wife and I have both a conventional automobile and an XB-600 Electic Bike. The bike has a range of 25 miles and a top speed of 20 mph. In practice, the range is not a problem for us because we have transitioned our local driving to the bike, reserving the Prius for trips that exceed the range of the bike. We also plug in the bike for partial charges whenever it is not in use with the result that we often greatly exceed its nominal range during a given day. I guess the point I am trying to make is that at least the way it has worked out for us, the addition of the XB-600 (at a cost of about $1,000.00), has reduced our gasoline consumption in a big, big way, even though it has not replaced our automobile. I think electric vehicles could wind up being very important in this kind of way. They need not *replace* conventional automobiles.

That is the sort of transport which I see as being really important in greatly reducing petrol use.
You still keep your car, but it spends most of the time in the garage.

What would be good to see is some electric trikes being introduced, so that, for instance, a mom can put a child in the back and go to the shops without getting wet.

It is probably more difficult in the US then elsewhere, due to safety standards, but in a low-fuel future would make a lot of difference to mobility without costing much at all, and using less electricity than even an already very economical full electric car.

It's all a heck of a lot better than walking everywhere, or moving everyone from the 'burbs to some sort of slum accomodation in the city centres.

I agree with this, and this is alot of what Civil Designers should be thinking about moving forward. That is to say designing living communities with short hop distances to centralised resources, shops etc. Imagine that instead of mega-malls spaced 10Km apart (20Km) round trip, that instead 4 smaller mini malls were placed 2.5Km appart and instead of 6 lane mega motorway, a 4 lane for cars and 2 lane for bikes had been 'designed in' a few years ago. What a difference this could have made, 2.5Km is bikeable, and 8 / 10 trips could have been avoided. Keep the car for the big stuff and long trips. What a huge difference to total consumption and it would work.

How do I know? Well I am Australian and am used to driving big distances, but I now live in Holland and it's been amazing to me just how much I now bike. I bike to work, to the shops, to the movies, to dinner, I take the kids on the bike, even to the shops. We have a car of course and use it when we need to. I would say we use the car up to 80% less than we would otherwise. In Holland with like US$9/Gallon Gas equivalent it pays to find ways to reduce your car useage. This is only possible because Holland happens to be designed in this distributed fashion with lots of smaller communities and is totally setup for biking. Ok, it's not because the dutch looked ahead and thought hey lets peak oil proof ourselves by designing our living spaces this way but it does give a living working example of what can be done. Sure holland is flat making biking easy but this is where a small electric motor can make the difference by increasing the terrain and distances that can be considered bikeable. This really has to be part of the future because as all here at the oildrum know the only way forward is to reduce consumption not find more oil. This is the most pragmatic way I can think of to achieve this and well after all the dutch are very well known to be pragmatic.

I liked your comment---except for the "we have a car of course" part!!

Because we don't have a car. We bike everywhere or bus or walk or even occasionally (once a month) a cab.

we bike carrying all sorts of things: heavy toddlers, pets, saplings from the nursery, groceries.

We have had family members apply pressure to us to "get a car" because we lack this status symbol.

We are also lucky to live in a country where you can pretty much bike everywhere if you want. It is safe up to a point and there are lots of bike trails in many towns.

Cars are pretty much doomed in the future as far as I can see. Who will have any money for all the steel and engineering? To be truthful, I'm not even replacing my ten year old bike even though I had plans to do so!

GM and Ford want govt funds to subsidize factories to build small cars. But it's a case of receding horizons. By the time they get such factories built, people won't be able to afford anything except rickshaws and bicycles......of course.

I liked your comment---except for the "we have a car of course" part!!

Well thats the pragmatic part isn't it. We have a small call ( like much of europe ) and I can tell you it's not much of a status symbol.

I think your car-less lifestyle is admireable but 80/20 pragmatism is going to be far easier to 'sell' than all out elimination.

If you could reduce consumption of the average person by 80% but still let them keep a (small) car that would creep into the relm of sustainability.

I mean it's just not going to happen that the car is going to up and vanish. There is just so much infrastructure invested in it. I have lived without a car for some time also and can tell you that having access to a car for the 20% of transport needs that really requires it transforms your lifestyle but after that 20% of use the added value drops off dramatically and a bike does just fine.

I agree with this, and this is alot of what Civil Designers should be thinking about moving forward. That is to say designing living communities with short hop distances to centralised resources, shops etc.


I bought a good one at Walmart for about a hundred bucks and its range is about 10 miles. Of course its battery is 75 years old. :-)

E5 (5% ethanol mixture) can be used to recharge the battery after a 10 mile ride.

Best Hopes for Biological Consumption of Ethanol,



Someone does not like beer.


I've bumped you up.

In 24 hours you'll be in the 72 hour cone of a predicted Cat 3 based on current NHC track. Doesn't that trigger another mandatory evacuation of New Orleans just based on that fact alone or is there more to it?

MUCH more than that goes into either a voluntary or mandatory evacuation. Probabilities, likely damage & levee failures (depends on path & intensity). The edges of the cone have very low probabilities.

Nagin is turning into a control freak, which raises the risks of another evac. But low probability ATM. I quoted a friend 8%-10% mandatory, 25% voluntary.


Ok but I think it was Mayor Nagin who made the statement about the 72 hour cone in a tv interview though. Perhaps he meant that they work on the assumption a mandatory evac will be needed but don't issue the order if they slip outside the cone over the following 24 hrs or so. Will be interesting to hear what he says today...

Best of luck.

Edit: Latest models now in. I guess Ike will have its own TOD topic soon.

Click image above for Weather Underground.

Still quite a spread for landfall, but it looks like it will affect oil production.

Might be severely weakened by passing over Cuba, though. Probably because of that, it's been downgraded to Cat. 1 at US landfall.

I saw the projection as weakening to Cat 1 coming off Cuba and then up to Cat 3 in the middle of the Gulf.




INITIAL 07/0900Z 21.1N 72.2W 115 KT
12HR VT 07/1800Z 21.0N 74.2W 120 KT
24HR VT 08/0600Z 21.2N 76.6W 125 KT...INLAND
36HR VT 08/1800Z 21.8N 79.0W 85 KT...INLAND
48HR VT 09/0600Z 22.5N 81.1W 65 KT...INLAND
72HR VT 10/0600Z 24.5N 84.5W 80 KT
96HR VT 11/0600Z 26.0N 87.0W 95 KT
120HR VT 12/0600Z 27.0N 89.5W 100 KT

100Kt is unfortunately Cat 3

Looks like Ike will rake the whole length of cuba in the next few days.


Hang in there NOLA.

The negative comments about the notional Chevy Volt are curious. Let us make these assumptions: 1) The Volt appears on Schedule for 2012. 2) The Volt runs, on average, 40 miles on the electric charge alone. 3) The Volt can carry four adults is reasonable comfort, maybe a 5th younger person belted in the back middle if need be, plus a reasonable amount of cargo (10-15 standard loaded paper supermarket bags or such) 4) the Volt is reasonably well styled and available with a decent sound system and climate control and such. 5) the Volt is at least average, preferably above-average in reliability.

Why wouldn't people snap these up at $40K each (2012 dollars)?

I know lots of people who spent $30-40K for unnecessarily large pick-up trucks and SUVs between now and many moons ago. These people were not farmers, ranchers, construction workers, nor did they have any other pressing requirements for such large, heavy vehicles. They were office workers and 'soccer moms' who reveled in the 'luxury' of their Lincoln Navigators and bought into the 'like a rock' Chevy ads imagining themselves imbued with the spirit of the cowboy frontier, or their psyches demanded that they ride with a commanding, towering view over other, lesser vehicles, or they thought they were safer, or their neighbors had one and they thought it was a status symbol. Of course the Hummer/Range Rover crowd imagined themselves to be on safari or GI Joe or whatnot. Then there are/were the folks who bought the 'vettes and Mustangs and such because they never grew up or were having a mid-life crises or who knows what.

No one put guns to these people's heads and forced them to buy these excessive, environmentally unsustainable vehicles at $30-40K per pop (today's dollars) or more. Not only were these vehicles fuel hogs and expensive to purchase, there was nothing special about their reliability or durability either.

So I'm a little perplexed at all the hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing over the idea of people buying fuel-efficient vehicles. After all, if people really were that price-conscious, they would reject all the gold-plated bells and whistles the Auto companies lard up their chariots with: Super-premium sound, sun/moon roofs, leather seats, over-size/alloy wheels,GPS systems, and on and on. It smacks of fake outrage staged by the BAU folks in this country: "Those eco-panzies are trying to take our liberties away and make us all drive these econ-boxes"..."those demoncrats are trying to tell everyone how to live"..."All we need to do is drill, baby, drill...as soon as we defeat those green pinkos we can have Americun energy independence, there is enough oil and gas for all of our needs (present population and 400M by 2048 apparently) to last 60 years!"(current TV commercial) (or is is 300 years, according to the anti-Tom Udall radio ads being run ad museum in NM?) (or is it a million years, like my bud in the military said and believed [God is continually creating oil underground for our needs])?

I have seen so many good ideas and words about sustainability here at TOD, then all this specious Volt-bashing about payback periods...when have most Americans ever given a warm bucket of spit about payback periods? The old marketing saying is that you can sell an American anything as long as you correctly answer two questions: How much down and how much per month (and many times these are of little importance either if you 'need' the toy to satisfy your ego).

Saying all that, it is fair cynicism to wonder if the Volt is vapor ware, or if the specs and or price points promised will be met or not, and if the machine will be reliable or a maintenance lemon.

Basically it has nothing to do with technology, but the fact that the economy is going down the pan.
How bad it will get is a matter of opinion, but at minimum credit is going to get a lot tighter than it has been, so the economic environment is likely to be a lot tougher.

Hence my preference for solutions like inexpensive electric trikes and so on for most use, with the old gas-guzzler kept for very occasional use, and for the cheaper, lower electric range Toyota PHEV over the Volt.

My bet is that the Volt's main mission is to keep investors convinced that GM has a future. This is the reason for all the press coverage of the development process (which is easy to manipulate as the reporters have no idea what they are observing). It will help to justify the bailout too - "We can't let them fail, they're just about to save the world!".

I strongly suspect you will never see enough of these on the road to make an appreciable difference in the amount of fuel used for automobile transportation, nor on GM's profitability. The impact of economic downturn on fuel use will be far higher.

The Volt is more of a marketing vehicle than an electric vehicle.

The Volt has been a PR exercise since it's inception. I strongly suspect that is it's primary purpose.

Best Hopes for Toyota & Honda,


$40 thousand in 2012 dollars. That is a curious concept in so many ways. Dollars, 2012 and that somehow you think it sounds sensible.

Assuming that there is a need for these vehicles, there will be a much bigger need for alternatives that do not cost $40 thousand. Lots of people won't have that money. [Leaving aside all the other systems that need to be there, like roads and bridges.] What is $40k and the average income?

Then there is the dollar question. I think AutomaticEarth quotes WSJ on there being something like $800 trillion in financial instruments floating around. I'm not sure how that ties to any one person getting a $40k car,
but I DO know that there is no way to spend all that money in our current economy. Our current economy comes nowhere near that size. So we have all these dollars derived from chewing up resources, but we have no more resources left to build everyone a Volt.

Which is where 2012 comes in.

Bikes are good. But bikes need good roads. Around here in Maine, the paving projects I've seen of late make it worse for bikes. Only anecdotal and only a few. But I don't see a road bike as lasting long when roads are not well maintained. The potholes do in the wheels. The cracks, gullies and missing shoulders force the rider unpredictably into the road. Impossible in the dark.

cfm in Dark, ME

OK, I'll play here...then buy the ~$26K Aptera (Google it and watch the video). Carries two people and five surfboards, or equivalent groceries/golf bags, etc.

Actually classified as a motorcycle, due to having three wheels.

Not yet in national distribution, but I see no technological hurdle why it couldn't be.

Unlike bikes, it keeps the rain and sun off you, you don't have to be in super shape to negotiate hills and many miles of rubber on the road, and you can actually carry some groceries or whatnot.

Yes, I agree and strongly suspect the Volt is PowerPoint engineering and that GM's future is uncertain.

BTW, the median US household income is right about $40K right now, so what is the point? Does that mean that folks aren't buying $100K + houses (yes, I know there is a housing/mortgage crisis).

Cars are not going to go away, but they will have to transform into something like the Aptera. Houses aren't going away either, but they could become smaller, more efficient, and use factory-built modular construction.

Cars resembling Apteras can serve to take you to the store and back and to the short, medium, and long-range train stations. Perhaps Aptera-like vehicles could be provided by companies for short-term rentals similar to the ZAP-car concept (rent the cars by the hour all expenses included, reserve on the Internet, pay with plastic debit or credit). That way people can have car-like efficient vehicles but everyone doesn't have to spend resources owning one. As I mentioned, people can do much of their traveling on metro buses and various light and heavy passenger rail, with Aptera-like vehicles filling in the gaps.

And bikes for everyone...but the transportation infrastructure will have to change...right now in most parts of the US riding a bike amongst traffic is a death-match and the biker is poised to lose. Dedicated bike paths with road cross-over/unders are needed...bike lanes on busy roads are no protection to getting blind-sided. Most American garages have several unused dusty bikes in them right now..without bike paths and local (within a few blocks of every house)stores, they will stay unused.

The Aptera is a fragile, impractical techno gimmick, completely unsuitable for the likely road and driving conditions of our future. As an engineer designing products that have to last in the real world, and someone who's spent way too much time working on cars, I find the Aptera to be pathetic. There is a very big difference between building a one-off and zooming around a perfectly paved parking lot (as in the video), and a fully developed, manufacturable, practical, durable, useful vehicle.

It's the classic "There, I made one work in the lab, the design is done!" attitude. Not.

The irony is that the potential Aptera buyer (maybe 5000 miles per annum) doesn't have a looming fuel cost problem anyway (maybe 200 gallons a year = approx $800.

I know lots of people who spent $30-40K for unnecessarily large pick-up trucks and SUVs between now and many moons ago.

I know a lot of people desperate to sell this type of vehicle today and they are finding that they'll lose a ton of money if they do. Think they'll fall for that again?

But, as long as we have super cheap credit (like we did when Suburbans were selling like hotcakes) the automakers shouldn't have a problem selling some of the new gizmo.

Dob ryy djenj, Good day.

Russian oil firm Rosneft must delay a key project increasing the likelihood that Russia will finish the year with lower output than it had at the start of the 2008.

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/article/600/42/370661.htm (Moscow Times)

Russian imported auto sales rose 54% in the first six months of 2008.

http://www.canada.com/calgaryherald/cars/story.html?id=61572be7-2188-41c... (Calgary Herald)

Looks like the MSM is finally noticing.


Some illusions have also been lost. For many Americans, the exciting young candidate who won the Iowa caucuses had the promise of being a new kind of politician entirely -- better than and different from the political norm of bitterness and calculation. Those hopes now seem -- in the words of a famous Democrat -- like a "fairy tale." In this convention, Obama "matured" into the spitting image of the typical Democratic politician. And this raises a question about Obama himself. Between Iowa and Denver there is little consistency except talent and ambition. Is there anything more to this candidate than talent and ambition?

It is the conventional wisdom that this transformation is politically brilliant: In an election year of massive voter discontent, a Democrat who sounds like a Democrat will surely win.

That may be correct. But Obama seems determined to test the theory in full. The Democratic ticket consists of two of the most ideological liberals in the U.S. Senate. It includes no reasonable governor, no candidate with Southern roots, no member with a military background (for the first time in decades). And now it offers the purest message of partisan aggression and class resentment.

Let the depressing battle begin.

That is not the MSM. Those are the words of Michael Gerson, a speechwriter who specializes in indoctrination and mind control through the repetition of certain phrases. Over and over and over.

Thank God McBush keeps moving further and further to the extreme Right to remind us how we got into this mess.

How bad must things get before the people who have run this country into the ground stand condemned as they stood condemned in 1932 and 1992? Screw reasonable governors - Bush was a reasonable governor in a state overrun by Christian maniacs. Screw Southerners, who overwhelmingly supported the war. Screw military background, after the Swift-boating of Kerry proves that you are not judged for your service in war, but for your support for all war.

Partisan aggression and class warfare are already embedded in the White House - against me. How bad must things get?

Swift-boating (i.e. of Kerry) is just another name for brain washing and mind control.

Try to pay attention to the tactics used at the Republican Convention (RNC).

1. Big screen.
Constant images of the flag (red and white stripes, represents the blood and the in line moral majority).
Every speaker is wrapped over by the image of the waving flag and its large red and white stripes.

2. Repeated chants
Everyone wants to be part of the "in crowd".
They all chant "Drill here, drill now".
Here and now sounds like sound logic especially when resonated by the we-are-success crowd.
USA USA --either you're with us or you're against her.

3. Repeated knock down of those who are not amongst "my friends".
Every other phrase out of Plain and McPain's mouths starts with "my friends". Psychologically that drills a mixed message into your head. Either you are one of the friends or you are one of the enemies. You don't want to be an enemy do you?

Swift boating is alive and well (used) in the McPlain campaign.
Are you paying attention?

Obama is not paying attention.
He's going to go down just like Kerry went down, just like Gore went down.
Swift boating works.
It works because our primitive brain is blind to it.

Keep denying you have a primitive brain. Denial is the friend of the Swift Boaters.

Regarding the "Change Everything Now: One of the nation's most mainstream environmentalists says it's time to get a lot more radical " link above.

Aren't they satisfied with being pariahs already? Anyone have a countdown to balkanization clock?

jrc, I don't understand your problem with the article (other than perhaps the unneccessarily provocative title, which I assume was the author's doing). Speth simply stated that the Growth paradigm is unsustainable. Isn't that why we all spend so much time here? Discussing sustainability? Did I miss something?

I just bothered reading the article. I kind of assumed it said what, in fact it said. I cannot agree more with him. However, even he is not talking it far enough. He does, however, nail the underlying bogeyman in all this: unending growth.

What is astounding, however, is his call to action: get into the streets. The problem is, it's not till after the new administration is in. If the call were made now and heeded, it would alter the election.

Also, he just doesn't see enough (at least as far as that article says. I've not rad the book.) The call to action needs to outline how dire the situation is. Unless you outline just how massive the storm we face is, people will not act. Americans (as opposed to US administrations) act when they must, not before.


A few months ago, Kunstler wrote a prediction to the effect that the dollar was in for a major tanking and this would make it impossible for Americans to afford oil in the quantities to which they have become accustomed.

My question: Is this Freddie Mac-Fannie Mae bailout/takeover scheme going to set this process in motion sooner rather than later?

We will therefore see $200 a barrel oil, but a 50 yen dollar (yen carry trade unwinds in a big way from now on) so the impact of higher oil prices is not felt abroad that much. Possible? Probable?

And Kunstler says that this will set off shortages in USA (As US consumers are outbid). It sounded so drastic and doomerish when he wrote it but now I'm not so sure.

The Automatic Earth folks' comment:


So the whole train is still on track, and it's the taxpayer that will be wrecked. The biggest transfer of wealth in human history continues on schedule, and it will leave in its wake poverty on a scale that has not been seen in a very long time in the western world.

Read urbansurvival, he's been predicting October 7th for sometime now.

Got bullets? You're going to need them if there are riots.

For starters, we are going to need massive more borrowing. Don't count on either McCain or Obama to raise taxes to pay for this. I expect the dollar to tank big time.

I'm not sure what's going to happen. Some say this is a disaster in the making, some say it's good news.

But I think we now know why this was done now (instead of months ago, or after the election). They found out that Fannie and Freddie were lying. They are in far worse shape than they claimed. Once their creative accounting was known, it left the government with no choice.

The system is showing systemic signs of sickness. Its apparent, acute and cronic. "Consumption" was in the not to distant past, a term used by doctors to describe an all encompassing terminal illness. Today
consumption is marketed, as a good thing.

If a little is good, more is better, to much is just enough. Bigger home, larger mortgages, no down payment
no credit check, no problem. Bankruptcies okay, get cash at closing. How about another sucker...er...I mean customer over here.

Creative finance, creative marketing, creative book keeping...how that "Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002." working out for you now folks?


Why the public thinks accounts are dull and boring...
thats what they want you to think. Show me a a CEO who isnt a either a lawyer or accountant or both and I will show you the Holy Grail.

Usually bad news for the great unwashed masses is good news for the markets. Like massive layoffs. Companies are seen as leaner and the stock rises before or on the news. This past week the selloff was
blamed on higher unemployment. Its all smoke and mirrors, thats why its easy to be confused.

The heads of Fannie and Freddie will get a bonus and rewards...mark my words. They will get pardoned faster then Mark Rich or Scooter Libby.

creative book keeping...how's that "Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002." working out for you now folks?

I've been railing against "accountants" for years here.

People fail to see the inherent conflict of interest.

Accountants work for the boss and can be fired by the boss.

Arthur Anderson worked for their boss, Enron. (Who's AA you ask? Why they were one of the Big 8, or Big 7 or whatever that number was which is now shrunken to the Big 4 or 5 --easy to lose track. But the giant accounting firm of AA no longer exists because they went down in flames when Enron burned into the pages of infamy on the history books with its own flame out.)

So when the boss says, "Make me look good",
accountants do everything in their power to make it seem so.
Otherwise they lose their jobs.

"Creative accounting" is the way to make the boss look good.
Internalize profits and externalize losses. Make the losses disappear from the books. Now everyone is happy. The good times are here and will always stay because GAAP says so (Generally Accepted Accounting Practices).

Too bad Enron couldn't have held on for a few more years-if they could have made it to 2008 the schmuck taxpayers could have bought the whole company.

They weren't lying, Leanan, they were drinking the koolaid.

And don't forget, they were forced to drink more of it by this administration. Oh maybe 6 months back when the administration changed the rules, lowered limits and required them to buy more crap. Now it looks like their implosion will at least double the national debt.

This is no disaster. This is working just fine.

Michael Hudson: What do you mean “failure”? Your perspective is from the bottom looking up. But the financial model has been a great success from the vantage point of the top of the economic pyramid looking down? The economy has polarized to the point where the wealthiest 10% now own 85% of the nation’s wealth. Never before have the bottom 90% been so highly indebted, so dependent on the wealthy. From their point of view, their power has exceeded that of any time in which economic statistics have been kept. [more]

cfm in Gray, ME

Dryki: Definitely. The USA is being systematically looted and it is happening under the radar of the majority of the population. IMO this is the main problem for the USA in the post peak period-not the lack of oil supply but the oil depletion combined with the growing rot of the central government.

Well, it isn't entirely clear to me that it is the American taxpayer that is getting a shellacing. This may just be "payback time" -- from the NY Times:

Along with Treasuries, China has invested heavily in mortgage-backed bonds from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the struggling mortgage finance giants that are sponsored by the United States government. Standard & Poor’s estimates China’s holdings at $340 billion.


By buying United States bonds, the Chinese government has been investing a large chunk of the country’s savings in assets earning just 3 percent annually in dollars. And those low returns turn into real declines of about 10 percent a year after factoring in inflation and the yuan’s appreciation against the dollar.


To keep the banks strong when they were getting such little interest on their reserves, the central bank has kept deposit rates low. The gap between what banks are paying on deposits and the rates they are charging ordinary customers to borrow is several percentage points. This amounts to a transfer of wealth from ordinary Chinese savers to the central bank and on to Americans who are selling their debt to the Chinese.

Let's see...if Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are TBTF (too Big to Fail), and Chrysler and Lockheed were TBTF way back when, then what makes anyone think that the USA isn't TBTF wrt the World, and specifically China? It is a dance of co-dependency...we sell our debt and use the proceeds to buy their stuff. We go under, and who do they sell all their stuff to and what employs their Billion-plus people? We (US) don't make anything anymore and without us the Chinese have not much of a market to sell their wares. The ROW would be drug down into the depression abyss too.

Don't get me wrong...I believe that the finely tuned house of cards will fall someday if things are not changed for the better (sustainable society principles as discussed on TOD and plenty of other forums). But I don't look forward to that day. I imagine the USG has plans to contain the ensuing mayhem, and enacting those plans will not likely be citizen-friendly.

It wasn't that long ago that your comments were applied to Japan (totally dependent on exports to USA). Currently, the #1 customer of Japan is China.

A few things.

  1. The EU is a larger market for the Chinese than the USA.
  2. The Chinese are busy creating a huge internal market for a billion people.
  3. As long as oil is traded in dollars, US inflation will be spread over all of the consumers rather than kept in the US. Everyone has to buy dollars first.

The key terms to look out for in the media are "the chinese consumer", with respect to china and "diversification" with respect to the sovereign wealth funds from opec countries.

As they say in Finance:

"If the bank loans you $100,000; the bank owns you. If the bank loans you $100,000,000; you own the bank"

I didn't quite make my point clear...the G8/WTO/EIEIO will keep things glued together untill the point when everyone fails.

Well first of all the dollar index has rallied strongly in last 2 months -from 1.60 to 1.42 on euro - and a 10% rally on pound sterling and nearly 18% rally on Australian and New Zealand dollars - over 10% vs Swissie, etc. So its NON-americans that are currently paying more for oil. But I wonder if the concerted central bank intervention in currencies was/is anticipation of FNM/FHLC bailout so there is a buffer? We shall soon see. More likely that people just got too negative on dollar - a few months ago you couldn't find someone bullish on dollar.. (These other countries aren't in much better shape)

No one actually regards the debt/fiscal situation of Switzerland and the USA as comparable in any way.

"I wonder if the concerted central bank intervention in currencies was/is anticipation of FNM/FHLC bailout so there is a buffer?".

I've been wondering the same thing, it seems a strange coincidence.

Anyway this intervention is an incredibly inflationary development, I sold out of oil when it broke 136 but will begin to gradually accumulate commodities now.

It doesn't seem fair that bankers and hedge funds (People's Central Bank of China and PIMCO are two of the biggest holders of Fannie and Freddie debt) are being bailed out at the expense of dollar holders/earners.

Also the claim this will support the economy seems unconvincing to me. I see the extra liquidity seeping into the commodities markets, resulting in pain simply being shifted from Wall Street to Main Street.

Hey Nate !
I'm a great fan of you and the other people who really do "make this site happen". On the other hand, you lose credibility when you lump together: the UK, Switz, Australia, and New Zealand. The UK is in perhaps a worse position than the US, energy- and debt-wise. But the other 3 ? Are you kidding ?

The ruling political party, Moderaterna (liberal) is preparing a more radical proposal for maximum carbon emissions in future cars (2020).

At the moment, cars sold in Sweden have one of the highest carbon emissions among EU countries, although some argue the not taking into acount fewer carbon emissions from ethanol cars (imported Brazilian sugar-cane ethanol and wheat-based ethanol with energy from biomass) is misleading.

The new proposal would limit carbon emissions to 95 g/km. That would translate into an average of 65 g/km for all cars sold in 2020. The present EU proposal is for average emissions not to exceed 130 g/km by 2012. Thus it would further cut in half the current EU proposal.

http://www.svd.se/nyheter/inrikes/artikel_1680107.svd (in Swedish)

Not really much of a surprise, but neighborhood gardens in the UK are getting ripped off.

Gardeners fear that with economic conditions worsening and household budgets under strain, people are stealing produce in order to save themselves money at the checkouts.

A series of raids have prompted the Ottery St Mary allotment committee in Devon to launch evening patrols, with members visiting the set to keep an eye out for suspicious characters.
He said: "In times gone by, we occasionally had thefts of produce or equipment but it was negligible. It's definitely the case that over the last three or four months we've noticed that a lot more produce has gone missing.
Ayesha Wilkinson, from the South West Counties Allotment Association, said: "Thefts are becoming more common. It's produce more than anything now because of the price of food. It's definitely got worse over the last few months."

Mrs Wilkinson said it has been difficult to protect crops from produce thieves as most allotments are not very secure.


Not much talk about IKE tonight. In my opinion, it doesn't really need to do anything to shut down the gulf other than look menacing on Monday. The MMS report today shows the bulk of the Gulf still off-line and by Monday the helicopters full of workers will be making u-turns back.

I think Bubblevision is going to crap when the see the 735 oil report on Wednesday and realize the bulk of the GOM is taking September off.

Sorry Alan, but you may need to pack again.

The last time it was this hot in September on the coast of California was 2005.

MMS Report 9/6/2008 - http://www.mms.gov/ooc/press/2008/press0906.htm

I think the big issue with Ike right now is what it will look like coming off of Cuba. Gustav got pretty torn up when it exited Cuba. If the core of Ike stays over Cuba very long, the chances are it's not going to be able to regain much strength in the GOM to do much damage to oil infrastructure and coastal communities. If Ike's path pushes a bit north (and there has been a slight shift north this morning) and the core stays out over the ocean, probabilities go way up for a cat 3/4 cruising unimpeded through GOM.

There's a "wait and see" attitude going on right now.

I disagree in part.

A Tropical Storm can reform to a Cat 3 in two days under favorable conditions, and northwest of Cuba are some warm waters.

What weakened Gustav was NOT "being torn up over Cuba" but ingesting dry air on the East side 18 hours before landfall.

When a hurricane passes over a large land mass, I see it as being"new born". What it did before landfall has little impact on what develops on the other side.


on the wire tonight

Shell Halts US Gulf Redeployment On Hurricane Ike

NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA) said Saturday it
suspended the redeployment of personnel evacuated from offshore oil and gas
production platforms ahead of Hurricane Gustav due to a possible threat from
Hurricane Ike.
"Shell is not, at this time, redeploying all personnel who were evacuated
prior to Gustav because of the possibility that Hurrican Ike might enter the
(Gulf of Mexico) next week and require another evacuation," the energy company
said in a press release on its Web site.
Shell said it currently has 615 workers at its offshore platforms out of the
1,400 who are usually staffed in the region, which accounts for a quarter of
U.S. crude oil output

I guess those Helicopters can turn around quicker than I thought.

The big problem with personnel transport is there aren't enough chopers available to move everyone in a coule of days. Normally there are around 25,000+ hands offshore GOM at any one time. Most crews change on a 7 day cycle which is usually split over 6 days. Probably at least half those workers are not needed to keep production flowing. There is an endless string of elective maintenace projects that can be delayed a week or two w/o effecting production.

Just as big a logistic problem is getting some workers back after they evac'd w/their families. Most won't leave the family sitting in a motel in N. La. and rush back to work.

Zogby is pretty good-right now it looks like the flock wants Sarah Palin to lead them through the post peak period http://www.zogby.com/news/ReadNews.dbm?ID=1548

Yep, I just wish I could watch it all from some far-away galaxy.