DrumBeat: September 7, 2008

Cost of oil could dim a solar light

Mark Bent wrestles with oil prices. Never mind that crude futures have fallen $20 a barrel from their record in July.

Bent's company, Houston-based SunNight Solar, has seen costs for shipping its solar-powered flashlights rise by about 30 percent so far this year, and they show no sign of abating.

...SunNight's flashlights use small solar panels to power rechargeable batteries that last as long as 6,000 hours, compared with 15 hours for conventional disposable batteries. The powerful light-emitting diodes are bright enough to illuminate a room.

Bent sees SunNight as a way to take low-cost lighting to places that don't have electricity, such as parts of Africa and South America. The company's products often replace kerosene lamps.

The trick is to make customers — who may spend 30 percent of their disposable income on kerosene — understand that paying more for the light now will cost them less over time than what they spend on kerosene. Even a modest price increase can derail the careful equation, he said.

Charlie Maxwell to Barron's: $300 Oil is Inevitable

According to a Monday, September 8 Barron's article titled "What $300-a-Barrel Oil Will Mean for You", Charles (Charlie) Maxwell, Senior Energy Analyst at Weeden & Co., thinks $300 oil is "inevitable."

With three or four new Saudi oil fields coming on line soon, Charlie thinks supply and demand are roughly in balance for the next two years. Charlie predicts oil prices between $75 and $115 for awhile. After that, he sees prices soaring again.

Sailor killed as militants seize oil vessel in Nigeria: army

LAGOS (AFP) - Nigerian militants on Sunday killed one sailor and kidnapped another when they hijacked a vessel belonging to the Nigerian unit of Italian oil company Agip, a military spokesman said.

"The vessel Fulmar Lamnaco was attacked at Sambriero river off Bonny in southern Rivers state," Lieutenant Colonel Musa Sagir told AFP. "One crew member was killed while another was taken hostage."

Ministers agree to extend Arab gas pipeline to Europe

CAIRO (Xinhua) -- Oil ministers in the Arab gas pipeline project have agreed to extend the pipeline to the European market, the Egyptian MENA news agency reported on Sunday.

Whether to drill might be foregone

It makes elemental sense to me to hold some or all of those offshore and ANWR reserves for some future date when our national security, including food supply, is severely at risk. Perhaps a program that would allow us to explore, drill and cap those productive areas for emergency use - and not just an extra trip to Grandma’s house - might be in order. If that were the case, those of you who say "no drilling" would be sorely pressed to win your argument. I’m confident we have the skills to accommodate the caribou.

There are several reasons why we can’t retain "capped" oil for strategic purposes. One is that the oil will be sold on the world market.

Most astounding to me is that we have no plan. Though we know oil has "peaked" - T. Boone Pickens and Matthew Simmons say 2005 was the year - or will "peak" soon, there has been no plan on what to do when that occurs. Another is this: Could you possibly believe the oil industry sees billions of barrels of oil lying around at $150 per barrel and doesn’t want it? The game here for both the oil companies and countries for whom 90 percent their GDP is from oil is the same: They know it’s running out, and they want to sell the very last drop at the highest possible price.

Cheney Warns Russia to Reverse Its Course

Mr. Cheney has long been the Bush administration’s most vocal hawk, but his remarks on Saturday, originally intended to reflect broadly on Euro-Atlantic security, amounted to a sweeping indictment of Russia’s actions in recent years and a challenge to its leaders to reverse course. The speech, his aides said, was carefully vetted in Washington and reflected the administration’s deep anger over Russia’s incursion into Georgia a month ago.

He called for a continued expansion of the alliance to include Georgia and Ukraine, despite Russian threats, and a diversification of energy supplies, which, he said, Russia has wielded like a weapon to intimidate European nations.

Fuel supply to ease soon, says minister

KATHMANDU: Minister for Commerce and Supplies Rajendra Mahato has said that the government would ease the supply of petroleum products within the next 10 days as there has been a decision to provide Rs3bn to the cash-strapped state-owned oil import monopoly Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) for this.

New mines lag as coal booms

This is not your father's coal boom.

Record high coal prices suggest, and industry analysts and executives confirm, that demand for Appalachian coal is at an all-time high.

Yet that demand hasn't produced companies, jobs and new mines that a 1970s coal boom produced.

Newtown joins heating oil consortium

NEWTOWN, CT -- The town has become a member of the Cooperative Oil Purchasing Consortium because of the significant uncertainty in the fuel oil market, Ronald Bienkowski, the school system's director of business, told the Board of Education on Tuesday night.

High heating costs baffle even suppliers

Laura Borst, the co-owner of Borst Oil Co. on South Thompson Street in Schenectady, said she watches the cable news networks all day, every day, to see which news event will be the next to affect the price of her company’s product.

“[Earlier this year] Iran tested missiles, or something, and the price [of crude oil] went up like $11.50 in one day. It’s extremely political,” she said. “One day all of the forecasters will say the price is coming down and two days later they’ll say it’s going to go back up. The same forecasters will say the complete opposite thing.”

Police OK with new fuel policy

The policy takes effect on Oct. 1. Patrol officers are allotted 120 gallons of gas per month, which includes gas needed to patrol and drive the cars home. Patrol sergeants are allotted 65 gallons a month; investigators 75 gallons a month; drug investigators 95 gallons a month; and administrative staff 45 gallons a month. Any department employee who exceeds the specified amount will be required to pay for the cost of the gas it takes to drive the car to and from home each month. No officer will be required to pay for gas used to patrol, according to the policy.

Assessing the Value of Small Wind Turbines

Fascination with wind turbines small enough to mount on a roof is spreading from coast to coast. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York last month proposed dotting the city with them. Small turbines have already appeared at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, atop an office building at Logan International Airport in Boston, and even on a utility pole in the small New Hampshire town of Hampton.

These tiny turbines generate so little electricity that some energy experts are not sure the economics will ever make sense.

Vanishing Barns Signal a Changing Iowa

Thce tale of the disappearing barn, a building whose purpose shifted, then faded away, tells a bigger story too, of how farming itself, a staple in this state then and now, has changed markedly since those writers drove through.

What had in the 1930s been an ordinary farm here — 80 or 160 acres and a few cows and sheep and chickens — is today far bigger and more specialized to pay for air-conditioned, G.P.S.-equipped combines and tractors, so much fuel and the now-skyrocketing price of farmland.

Arctic Ice Hints at Warming, Specialists Say

Leading ice specialists in Europe and the United States for the first time have agreed that a ring of navigable waters has opened all around the fringes of the cap of sea ice drifting on the warming Arctic Ocean.

U.S. should stop selling off its needed natural gas

While the cost of natural gas has nearly tripled during the past five years, exports of U.S. natural gas to Canada have risen 155 percent. In fact, 38 percent of all piped U.S. gas goes to Canada. Another 33 percent is pipelined to three Michigan hamlets on rivers across from Ontario. Mexico does not receive quite as much as Canada.

Responsibility must lie in NAFTA and free trade. For by shipping our life-preserving gas out of the country during an energy crisis — and endangering the lives of her people during the winter — the United States is treating its own citizens no better than the English served the enslaved Irish.

McCain's energy follies

Global problems obviously require a global response. As the world's most profligate user of energy, and as one of its most technologically gifted nations, the United States should lead the way by developing more efficient vehicles and by expanding carbon-free energy sources like wind and solar power.

The John McCain of a few years ago understood this. He sponsored a bill with John Kerry that would have aggressively raised fuel economy standards, and another that would have put a stiff price on carbon emissions to encourage investment in cleaner technologies.

Unfortunately, that John McCain has receded from view. He has dropped his opposition to offshore drilling, pandered shamelessly by urging a gas tax holiday, and missed several crucial votes on bills extending credits for wind and solar power.

Drill: Domestic oil recovery creates domestic jobs

One thing you've got to say about developing more domestic energy sources: the jobs won't be outsourced. It will be American workers drilling in new oil fields and recovering natural gas reserves along the Outer Continental Shelf and on the Alaskan North Slope. American workers will recover the oil shale in Colorado.

MARSHALL ISLANDS: Responding to the Emergency

The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) has recently experienced unprecedented increases in the costs of imported fuel and staple food items. This high and sustained inflation in energy and food prices has had significant impacts on the economy and people of the RMI. This prompted President Litokwa Tomeing and his Cabinet to officially declare a State of Economic Emergency on July 3, 2008.

High cost of weekly shop to last a decade, warn producers

“We have been through a period of low costs. I don’t think we are going to see those again,” said Alan Lafley, chief executive of Procter & Gamble, whose products include Pampers nappies and Ariel washing powder. “Energy and commodity costs will be higher in the first two decades of the 21st century than in the 1980s or 1990s.”

Global resources essential

One of the world's best known economic forecasting and market analysis firms is headed by Dr. Horace "Woody" Brock. He recently spoke at a conference in Sydney, Australia (no, I was not there but wish I had been) and offered the best assessment of the oil market I have heard.

He gave three reasons for why the oil market is where it is. The first reason is increasing demand from all over the globe. Even though demand in this country has tapered off, other countries have made up for our weaker appetite for oil. The second reason is about peak oil. I wrote about this some time ago when we were just starting to see peak oil. A few years ago, several of the world's largest oil fields peaked in terms of production, not because of demand but because of supply. Brock cited the oil production in Mexico that is down 30 percent over the past four years as well as declines in other areas of the world such as the North Sea and Russia. The last reason is the most intriguing and controversial.

Novice farmers bloom in gardens

Heinberg believes that modern industrial agriculture — which relies on farm machinery, irrigation, pesticides and synthetic fertilizers — is particularly vulnerable.

“We’ve created a form of agriculture that was perfectly suited to the 20 th century with cheap fossil fuel, but I’m afraid it’s going to be a catastrophe in the 21 st century,” he said.

Bangladesh climate victims search for new land

Rough tides linked to rising sea levels have drowned 40 percent of the land on Kutubdia Island over the past half century, according to non-government organisation Coast Trust, which says the situation is getting worse each year.

The villagers who have fled the island are what scientists -- including those from the United Nations Inter-government Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) -- are calling Bangladesh's first climate refugees.

Gulf oil production poised to increase by 10 million barrels a day

Dubai: A massive $300 billion investment in boosting oil production is underway which could see the Arabian Gulf deliver a staggering 10 million barrels of crude a day in added capacity by 2015 more than half from Saudi Arabia alone according to project research firm Proleads.

"Recent analysis of total global oil production and development projects indicate that world crude production capacity from all sources has the potential to rise from 87 million barrels per day to as much as 108 million by 2015," said Emil Rademeyer, director of Proleads.

"Our analysis shows that if all current projects across the region meet their projected targets in barrels of oil a day, it would mean that by 2015 the hydrocarbon rich countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will be supplying more than half that future added oil capacity," said Emil Rademeyer, director of Proleads.

Drill now, pay later: The drive to tap oil reserves in Alaska and offshore overlooks our long-term need for petroleum

Upon recent discoveries of oil in the kingdom, King Abdullah ordered that those new finds be left untapped to preserve the nation's oil wealth for future generations. "When there were new finds, I told them, 'No, leave it in the ground, with grace from God, our children need it,'" the king said.

Behind the king's statement lies a plain truth: The Saudis prefer to sit on their oil, while we are rushing to deplete ours. The Saudi reserve-to-production ratio - an indicator of how long proven reserves would last at current production rates - is 70 years; Iran's is 82; the United Arab Emirates' is 90; and Venezuela's is 91. Iraq and Kuwait are at more than 100. How long does the U.S. have left? Eleven years.

Julian Darley: The Energy Secret - Understanding What Drives The 21st Century And Why Peak Oil Really Matters

There are at least two invisible things that tend to be ferociously difficult to understand. One is relations among humans and the other is energy. Especially when the former want more of the latter. And for some reason, understandable perhaps but also unfortunate, we are mostly loathe to try to comprehend where our energy comes from. Thus there is a kind of 'energy secret': we cannot see energy and we don't seem to be very good at understanding it, even though without it there is no life here or anywhere else in the universe.

Iran wants OPEC output cut to target quotas

TEHRAN (AFP) - Iran said on Sunday that OPEC members should cut output to the agreed target quotas in the face of falling oil prices, two days before the cartel meets in Vienna, state-run IRNA news agency reported.

"The market does not need more oil and there is no need for excess production given the fall of oil prices," Iran's envoy to the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Mohammad Ali Khatibi told IRNA.

"Members should return to the agreed quota and respect it. If a member does not want to go back to the OPEC quota they should have a reason," he added.

OPEC struggles with falling oil prices

LONDON - The question facing the OPEC oil producer group which meets this week is when, not if, to cut its oil production target as crude prices slide in the face of weakening economic growth, analysts say.

Gulf Arab States to Urge OPEC Not to Cut Oil Output

(Bloomberg) -- OPEC's Gulf-Arab members, which pump half of the group's oil, are likely to urge their colleagues to leave output unchanged when they meet this week as prices above $100 a barrel squeeze the global economy.

Saudi crude price hikes may offer Opec production hints

The latest term crude prices suggest Aramco may be starting to price in a period of lower output, even if Opec next week doesn't formally sign off on a production cut.

Mexico: Running Out of Oil and Options

As equities commence the dramatic autumn slump I've been anticipating in recent weeks, it is uninspiring to witness the standard of political debate in the US Presidential election. It seems that neither candidate is aware of, or at least willing to articulate, the tectonic shifts taking place in global financial power which threaten to severely limit the room for maneuver of the incoming administration. Roosevelt said America should talk quietly to the world but carry a big stick; now a big begging bowl is more appropriate. We hear references to Iran and Russia as geopolitical challenges, but nobody is talking yet about a bigger threat right on America's doorstep: the potential implosion of the Mexican state.

Putin predicts West won't cool ties with Russia

MOSCOW: Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin predicts there won't be any cooling of ties with the West because the West needs Russian oil, gas and minerals.

Don't Believe Industry Scam on Drilling Arctic Refuge

Unfortunately, patently false claims by the oil and gas industry continue to find traction in news stories across the nation. One of the biggest myths that industry would like the media and the public to believe is that drilling the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will require only 2,000 acres.

Bush likely to scrap nuclear deal with Russia

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is likely to scrap a civilian nuclear pact with Russia soon as punishment for its war against Georgia last month, a U.S. official said on Thursday.

Greenpeace proposes giant North Sea windfarm grid

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - North Sea nations could link their offshore windfarms via a giant electricity grid on the sea bed and bring huge benefits for Europe, according to a Greenpeace report gaining interest from the European Commission.

The environment group said on Wednesday the grid would build on existing infrastructure to link tens of thousands of turbines located offshore, helping to smooth out power fluctuations caused by turbulent weather around the stormy North Sea.

Demand for solar panels exceeds supply

The sun may set early on anyone trying to take advantage of expiring solar-energy tax credits this year.

Many solar manufacturers and installers say they can't take on more jobs for 2008 because they're either out of panels or out of time.

Chrysler showing off plug-in hybrids to dealers

NEW YORK - Chrysler LLC has been demonstrating plug-in hybrid prototypes to some dealers that are further developed than those previously shown by the automaker, the company's president said.

In comments Tuesday at the Motor Press Guild in Los Angeles, Chrysler Vice Chairman and President Jim Press said the vehicles are being developed by Chrysler's Envi unit, which the automaker created last year to create electric vehicles and other advanced propulsion technologies.

Biofuels War: The New Scramble for Africa by Western Big Money Profiteers

Biofuels war has broken out in Africa. Newspaper headlines have not proclaimed it but the gist of it is already out. Big money profiteers from Europe and United States are rushing to Africa in a new scramble for the continent, transforming large swathes of arable land into massive biofuels plantations.

Local but poor populations in many parts of Africa are increasingly being driven deeper into economic obscurity yet 60% of them still depend on agriculture for survival. Another 60% of that eke out a living by subsistence farming and animal husbandry.

Eat less meat to fight climate change: UN expert

LONDON (AFP) - People should cut their consumption of meat to help combat climate change, a top United Nations expert told a British Sunday newspaper.

Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told The Observer that people should start by having one meat-free day per week then cut back further.

Is our taste for Sunday roast killing the planet?

Your Sunday roast stands accused. According to the United Nation's chief climate expert, Rajendra Pachauri, that tasty piece of top rump resting on your dining table is the source of many of the world's environmental woes, in particular those involved in the dangerous warming of the planet's climate.

Our appetite for animal flesh is boosting fertiliser production, pollution and emission of greenhouse gases to dangerous levels, Pachauri has told The Observer. Give up meat - at least for one day a week - and we can help to save the Earth, he added.

Demand seen thin in first U.S. greenhouse auction

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. Northeast power companies likely will not race to buy permits to emit the main greenhouse gas in the country's first carbon auction later this month because the region's emissions of the gas have slipped over the last few years, experts said.

Research suggests refinery emissions higher than estimates

EDMONTON - A recently published report suggests that Canadian refineries are underestimating emissions of greenhouse gases and cancer-causing chemicals.

The study, which used a new method to track so-called "fugitive emissions" from pieces of equipment at an unidentified Alberta refinery, finds such releases of gases such as benzene are up to 18 times higher than previously thought.

EPA tightens lawn mower, motor boat emission rules

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Exhaust-spewing lawn mowers and speed boats will get a green make-over under tough new rules from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency designed to reduce smog and save millions of gallons of gasoline.

Gas-powered engines in lawn and garden equipment will be required to cut smog-forming emissions by 35 percent, while engines in personal watercraft will have to cut smog-forming emissions by 70 percent and reduce carbon monoxide emissions by 20 percent.

Speculators and water an uneasy mix

CANBERRA (Reuters) - On the cracked grey clay of an ancient lake bed on the edge of Australia's outback, Guy Kingwill is at the frontier of a global rush to commercialize water.

Despite a long-running drought, Kingwill, who runs the vast Tandou farm, 142km southeast of the mining town of Broken Hill, has just sold his property's critical water on a national market rather than pump it into irrigated cereal crops.

"The return on the water is higher," Kingwill told Reuters. "Where we are it's broadacre cropping. But the market now is driving significantly more per megaliter from horticulture than you can get a profit margin out of wheat and barley," he says.

Across the world, speculators are increasingly looking to water as a new profit engine as supplies dwindle, caught between booming populations demanding more access and climate warming threatening its very availability.

The world we avoided

The Montreal Protocol rescued the ozone layer, but also prevented drastic regional climate changes.

Global warming greatest in past decade

Researchers confirm that surface temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere were warmer over the last 10 years than any time during the last 1300 years, and, if the climate scientists include the somewhat controversial data derived from tree-ring records, the warming is anomalous for at least 1700 years.

"Some have argued that tree-ring data is unacceptable for this type of study," says Michael Mann, associate professor of meteorology and geosciences and director of Penn State's Earth System Science Center. "Now we can eliminate tree rings and still have enough data from other so-called 'proxies' to derive a long-term Northern Hemisphere temperature record."

That Arabian Gulf story about 10 mmbpd in new capacity says nothing about costs....

And they seem to be using the special Saudi reserve assumptions, i.e., you can produce billions of barrels per year, with no reduction in proven reserves. If we just look at crude oil production, in just three years Saudi Arabia will have produced about 10 Gb of oil, which is roughly two East Texas Fields, the largest oil field in the Lower 48, which took decades to fully deplete.

If we use ExxonMobil's upper end estimate of a 6% per year decline rate from existing wellbores (which is below some estimates), the world would need about 50 mbpd of new total liquids production in 2015 that we didn't have in 2005--just to maintain flat production.

I don't suppose we have any way to know if that article's info includes decline, eh? Using the assumptions of 6% decline, as you state, 86mmb/d for '08 and only 1% increase in demand per year we would need 40,000,000mb/d by 2015. Using 2005, I also get 50mb/d needed.

It's critical to know if the writer and the study are including decline or not. If they are claiming those numbers with decline included, someone is lying through their teeth, or they are going to go all out then we'll have a massive crash in production.


Well, I don't know if it's any good, but adding up the upcoming production from the Gulf states mentioned in the megaprojects list would result in about 8.5 mbd new production coming online in the years 2008-2014. Assuming in good faith that the list has a minimum of completeness regarding major projects (and that my calculation isn't wrong) I think it seems not very likely that the proclaimed increase is decline-adjusted. But then, what do I know?

You probably know more about forecasting future oil production than Proleads does (but they know that marketing and promotion is the bottom line).

Will reports like this stifle any lingering speculative tendancies in the market and cause per barrel prices to drop to less than $100? If so, for how long? That is, would per-barrel prices remain low enough, long enough to create a resurgence in high-consumption levels? I don't know about the rest of the world, but Americans are quick to jump on any opportunity to over-consume, and lower per-barrel prices would give them just such an opportunity. That would increase depletion rates...so what then? How often can such a cycle be repeated? I think a lot of us thought the price events that occured earlier this year were the beginning of the end. Now they appear to be merely the end of the beginning.

BTW, some more Texas & Saudi comparisons.

If Texas had maintained its 1972 production rate (3.45 mbpd) for three years, we would have produced 3.78 Gb. We actually produced 3.67 Gb, a 3% decline in cumulative production, relative to the 1972 peak rate. Based on HL, Texas produced about 14% of remaining URR (crude oil) in the three years after 1972.

If Saudi Araba had maintained its 2005 production rate (9.6 mbpd) for three years, they would have produced 10.5 Gb. I estimate that they will have produced about 10.0 Gb, a 4.8% decline in cumulative production, relative to the 2005 peak rate. Based on HL, I estimate that Saudi Arabia will have produced about 13% of remaining URR (crude oil) in the three years after 2005.

There is no debate, that conventional crude production in the following countries/regions is in decline:

- Canada
- US lower 48
- Alaska (from 1.4 Mio. to 400'000 barrels)
- Mexico
- Venezuela
- North Sea
- Russia
- Indonesia
- Australia
- Vietnam
- Oman !

NOT in decline, yet increasing production comes mainly from the Arabian gulf:

- SA
- Iran
- Irak (no surprise)
- Kuwait

- Lybia
- Angola (no surprise since they started pumping only 10 years ago)
- Caspian Sea region

Where is the reason, that only the Arabian gulf nations are able to ramp up production whereas the rest of the producing nations (except Caspian Sea region + north Africa) are in terminal decline?
Is it a question of reliable data, which is not available from the Arab nations or what? Are they sitting on abiotic oil?

That looks like one of the hundreds of propaganda pieces coming out of the financial media -- long on assertions, absent of facts. Worthy of disregard.

Worthy of disregard

No, no, no, you missed the good news, there will be ~108 mbpd in 2015!

In order to consume that much more oil the price will have to come way down from the supply/demand balance point we have today at ~$110.

So much for the oil company windfall profits. /sarconol.

We will have a Hurricane Ike thread up shortly with Chuck Watson (from KAC/UCF)' initial estimates and forecast up shortly. Please try and put hurricane related resources and comments in that thread.

A prime example of preventive maintenance.

Excellent. A prime example of the opposite:

Here we go:

Then, last week, advisers from Morgan Stanley hired by the Treasury Department to scrutinize the companies came to a troubling conclusion: Freddie Mac’s capital position was worse than initially imagined, according to people briefed on those findings. The company had made decisions that, while not necessarily in violation of accounting rules, had the effect of overstating the companies’s capital resources and financial stability.

Indeed, one person briefed on the company’s finances said Freddie Mac had made accounting decisions that pushed losses into the future and postponed a capital shortfall until the fourth quarter of this year, which would not need to be disclosed until early 2009. Fannie Mae has used similar methods, but to a lesser degree, according to other people who have been briefed.

You got that?

Fannie and Freddie both said they had "more capital than any other time" and they were "well-capitalized" - this is from their CEOs - as recently as a month ago.

They lied."


That's a real whodathunkit!

I will not, however, be holding my breath for $2 gas.

We could get $2 of gas but it would come in a package with 20% unemployment. No, thanks.

And yet the MSM reports "No laws were broken".."This was all legal". I happen to know (GAAP) Generally Accepted Accounting Practices....You couldnt run a popcycle stand in this manner without arrest. Notice the MSM didnt say "All suspects are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law"???
N000OOOooo....they declared them innocent pretrail because there aint gonna be one! Talk about pre-emptive. hahahaha

Regarding article (Bush likely to scrap nuclear deal with Russia)

Likely Russia will scrap deal with America to continue
purchasing Fannie & Freddie mortgage debt notes.
I believe Russia is second only to China in this area.

Also news reports this morning say, "It will likely cost American tax payers collectively billions of dollars." This is true only in so much as a single trillion contains 1000 billions.
If I told you it would cost thousands of dollars for a
home and you found at closing the house cost 2 million
dollars, you wouldnt be amused when I explained I wasnt deceptive...as "$2 million is just 2000 one thousand dollar bills",or in essence, thousands of
This ruse will absolutely work as only a very small fraction of Americans realise that there are 1000 billion in a single trillion. The rest of the world isnt so mathematically challenged and thats why American tax payers will shoulder this burden. The rest of the world isnt buying BS.

Is it true that in Europe and England, a "trillion" is a billion billions? 10^12?

That was the traditional understanding of "trillion" in England, but nowadays it is understood to be 1,000 million. Not sure about the rest of Europe.
Anyway, now that we've moved to your "trillion", when are you going to graduate to the metric system ?

As soon as you start serving your beer cold.

What you call beer, we call lager. And it is always served cold.

Hey! We drink real beers now, yummy bitters, ales and porters(all delightfully cold). Only hoi polloi drink Bud and Coors...yuck.

Ales, bitters, porters and dunkels (dark lagers) served cold are entirely tasteless. You could as well drink Bud. Or serve ice cold red wine. "Ice cold" or less than 6 degrees Celsius is too cold even for most quality lagers, 6-8 degrees Celsius is about right for them. This of course is not a matter of taste rather than a matter of tastelessness: if you like your beer to have almost no taste, by all means serve it ice cold...

Of course, this being an energy site: do you really think there will be enough energy to cool beer 20 or 30 years down the line? Better adjust your tastes to tasty beer now. If you want tasteless, you can always drink water.

Piffle and rubbish.

I said cold; you said "ice cold". 45-48F is fine. Fifty-five may be cricket, but it is too warm for good beer; might make swill taste better.

As to the future of refrigeration? I live in the frozen north...we harvest ice all winter and drink(appropriately) cold beer all summer. Icehouse; two thousand year old technology, coming to a town near you soon.

We in Washington also grow the best hops in the world and world-class barley, and we are not too over-populated. The future will do it our way.

What is the point of drinking a bitter or porter cold?

The whole reason for drinking lagers cold is so you can't taste them. But a bitter is determined by its taste, if its cold you're missing out on the whole point of a beer that tastes of something.

It sounds as though you haven't tried a proper lager - they make fine ones, in, for instance, Budejovice!

I make 10^12 a thousand billion, which I think is a trillion. It is true the UK used to use a long scale system and a billion was 10^12 and a trillion was 10^18. It caused a lot of confusion, and still does with older references as the US and UK practices were both in use, it confused me when I was at school. UK government has used US short scale system since the seventies, apparently. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_and_short_scales

Also likely Russia to drop the Megatons to Megawatts program.

One-tenth of America’s electricity comes from fuel made from Russian nuclear warheads.

FACT MEMO: Don't Believe Industry Scam on Drilling Arctic Refuge


What would happen if Congress just stopped trying to influence Arctic hydrocarbon production, and in effect said "go for it, guys."?

What is the likelihood anything at all would happen in the short run -- given credit constraints, uncertainty of markets and difficulty of working in that environment -- let alone, difficulty of getting any product to market?

Shouldn't Congress be more concerned about fixing infrastructure, increasing energy efficiency, and improving Amtrak if they really want to preserve the "environment" -- if that is really what they are concerned about in all that blather?

I am discouraged by the fact that the press, taken as a whole (an unfair, unjustified lumping of non-similars) seems to be so resistant to applying critical reason to complex problems -- it's not like there aren't a lot of smart people in the American media. What keeps everyone so dumbed down? What is the secret to unlocking the human potential?

Those who write do not own.


The underlying reasons for promoting this are probably complex. Oil companies want to increase the size of their reserves. Probably gives them some financial benefit. There probably would not be a rush to drill quickly as there are constraints on drilling equipment, among other things. Possibly they are worried about future administrations not giving them as favorable terms on leases as the current administration or a John McCain administration would. Who knows what else.

The Mexican situation should be scaring the hell out of the rest of North America. Maybe the coming chaos in Mexico will finally wake up the masses here. The Mexican situation may take a few more years to develop but they will collapse sooner if the world economy goes. I think our government (Canada) realized that the economy is about to go bad in a big way and has just called a federal election hoping that the vote takes place before the real trouble starts. In this they are following the hopes of the Bush people. So far today all the leaders are pretending that their policies will be implemented in a world of business as usual. To borrow from Kunstler, the winners in Canada may simply be getting the biggest boobie prize in our history. I think that tthis will be the last "normal" elections that both the USA and Canada will see.

And the SPPA continues. MexAmerica isn't considered to be a problem for the elite.

If we want to cripple the criminal element of the narco-state, then we must de-criminalize drugs.

It scares the hell out of me. For some time now I've been thinking that after 2010 we'll see a surge of illegal immigrants like we've never seen before. However you feel about that you have to admit that will be hugely disruptive.

I'm not an expert on Mexico, but when you see that their oil exports will fall to zero within two or three years and it is reported that the Mexican government relies on oil exports for a third of its income you have to believe that something extraordinary is about to happen and it won't be pretty.

The power players promoting the merger of Mexico and the USA are quite aware of the situation and not only are they not scared, they are quite excited at the opportunities they perceive.

Exactamente. Millions of potential slaves huddled masses, yearning to breathe free. The fact that such economic and political refugees will be willing to work like dogs for a hot meal + cot and will undercut any American-born worker is a *wonderful* thing (if you happen to belong to the elite class). The Richistanis really do inhabit their own nation-within-a-nation.

I think our government (Canada) realized that the economy is about to go bad in a big way and has just called a federal election hoping that the vote takes place before the real trouble starts.

Too many booby-traps on the horizon for the Harper government->

the US and UK financial sectors are tanking, ergo Canada's economic performance is likely to be seriously compromised;

Canadian mission in Afghanistan is looking worse by the day;

George Bush is finished as Prez & whoever replaces him may not be so inclined to called Mr. P.M. "my good friend Steve."

The Conservatives (under R.B. Bennett) won a whopping majority in 1930 just as the Depression spread across the border after the 1929 Wall Street Crash. The loss of reputation by 1935 meant the Conservatives were shut out of office for another generation. The searing memories of the Dirty Thirties secured for the Liberal Party its long-standing status as "the natural governing party" in Canada. Among the elderly the slogan "Tory times are hard times" still carries some weight.

Conservative strategists may want to throw this election. But Mr. Harper is a neo-liberal policy wonk who knows he has to win to keep his job as party chief. And pride always goes before the fall.

History sometimes repeats: first time as tragedy, second time as farce. Time will tell.

It feels like yesterday I went to sleep in capitalist USA and woke up in communist USSR:

Treasury to bail out Fannie and Freddie

The Treasury plans to put Fannie and Freddie into a so- called conservatorship and pump capital into the companies, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank said in an interview yesterday. The government would make periodic capital injections by buying convertible preferred shares or warrants, according to a person briefed on the plan.

Meaning billions of taxpayer money will be spend to save those same assh@!*s that got us in the housing mess at the first place. What can I comment? At least the money the communists pumped created jobs and some social stability, while our money here will see no other use than filling some balance sheet black holes. Sorry for the rant, but this is already getting obscene...

You must have had a long nap-this is just one of the dominoes.

And it fell on Friday. :)

Seriously, there's quite a bit of discussion in Friday's DrumBeat, and some in yesterday's, too.

Sorry about that. I was out of touch with the news for a couple of days and this one came as a real shocker.

I'm already looking forward to next Friday's intrigue.

Paulson & Lockhart (Fed Housing Finance Agency) speaking right now. Live on Bloomberg + BBC. CNN seems to be sticking with Late Edition discussion. They look and sound very nervous. Not confident at all.

Why should they be confident? The largest transfer of wealth in history?

Doesn't it make you sick that no corrupt and high-profile housing/mortgage/banking CEO who enriched himself during the bubble has been arrested yet, while the US taxpayer is now on the hook for hundreds of billions in losses?


$7 trillion.

Just $793 trillion to go.

Not only during the bubble but also now they are being paid millions to go. IMHO they should have zero payoff and lose their pensions.

It is finally sinking in, after all these years--

I went to sleep in capitalist USA and woke up in communist USSR

are two sides of the same coin. Capitalism is a government enterprise.

Corporations originally served their shareholders the government. Nowadays, they are more likely to be served by the government and their shareholders, but since it is apparent that they are all the same people, it isn't of much consequence to insist on those fine distinctions.

Kudos to the brave people in Denver and Minneapolis who stood up to the machine when it mowed them down while just expressing their constitutional rights. So far as I can determine, not a single jailed individual was arrested while committing any violent act -- they were jailed for the thought crime of disagreeing with the rulers. Even now, though, I believe that the Government governs by the consent of the governed. We theoretically don't have to tolerate these abuses, but at the moment, it appears that taking abuse is preferable to standing up to it, at least for most people.

I don't suppose it will always be the case that toleration of abuse trumps opposing it, but it is as hard to predict any tipping point in a human population as it is to predict an earthquake or a hurricane. Too many variables.

We haven't even begun to suffer like medieval serfs and peasants, but it looks like history is closing the loop again.

Where is the evidence that the bulk of American voters mind the suppression of dissent? The governed have consented to having the governors commit any crime necessary to keep the goodies arriving, and do not want to hear that this is evil.

At least when the Germans turned to Hitler they did it because they were facing starvation. What's our excuse?

What's our excuse?

Any crime necessary to keep the goodies coming. You restate "The Grand Inquisitor".

Chomsky likes to say something along the lines of "sometimes even the mindless herd senses disaster". I think the herd does understand - at some prehensile level - that the criminality is necessary for the goodies. What do they do? Put up another flag. Every time Caesar crosses another Rubicon (I had no idea there were so many) the general population hangs out more flags.

Perhaps something smells funny in the amygdalla. A few more Glade fresheners and a few more flags please.

cfm in Gray, ME

Capitalist? Communist? Those are now largely meaningless, emotionally-laden words. Neither ever really existed outside the imagination. Privatized profit for the elite, socialized costs for the rest of us. Corporatism is what we've got and it's what we've had for a long time; it's just now you can really see it for what it is.

No surprise there:

In the U.S. the profits are privatized and the losses are socialized. That is how an oligapolistic economy works.

I think fascist is the more appropriate political system we are heading too. Add in the coming currency collapse, and will be marching right down the german path towards global war.

Even fascism requires economic growth. We know there are physical restraints that will make that very difficult in the future.

However, even some Nazis seem to have thought that fascism was merely a statist preparatory stage for a feudalistic (no-growth?) future. Himmler (not much of a policy wonk) dreamed that France would be carved up into feudal estates lorded over by SS Teutonic Knights, and worked by deported Russian serfs. There are echoes of that in Franco's version of corporatism. Maybe the Khmer Rouge too.

Once the current system can no longer be bailed out, the business elites will be relabeled as Barons and Earls, their stock converted into land holdings, and our debts enshrined as feudal obligations.

This is not so alien to America as we might think. The European feudalists started out as big landowners who contributed to a "common" defense and in gratitude were put in charge of that defense with all the political power that came with it. As the Southern plantation owners degenerated from Jeffersonian principles to a nostalgia for Medieval aristocracy in the early 1800s, they fronted militia units which they naturally commanded, yielding titles such as "Colonel" and "Captain". More so than in the North those titles were a monopoly of the political elite.

Now that I think of it, we could be facing a simple reversal of what Germany and Japan did during their industrialization, ordering feudal landlords to become (or marry their daughters to) factory owners.

Of course, if it happens I will change my name to Nat Turner.

Yes I agree with you---and let's also add a place at the table for the Generals and the other armed forces officers whose cooperation will be necessary in the transition to a land/feudal based power.

Fannie and Freddy were essentially created to lower borrowing costs for housing which was made possible by the fed's implicit guarantee that they would be bailed out if the company failed. That made Fannie and Freddy's borrowing costs about the same as the federal government.

If Fannie and Freddy fail, you could expect MASSIVE increases in borrowing costs for homes--exactly what we don't need during the biggest housing recession since the depressions.

Disaster Capitalism at its finest-create a problem, then swoop in to "fix" it with the shmucks' money after your cronies have made out like bandits.


"...created to lower borrowing costs for housing"? Show me some credible evidence they accomplished their mission in any meaningful way, and I'll consider your point. Even former Fed chief Alan Greenspan admitted Fannie and Freedie *at best* shaved a fraction of a percentage point off borrowing costs for consumers. And at their worst? We're seeing the results of that now.

RE "MASSIVE increases in borrowing costs for home": you are aware that artifically LOW interest rates (thanks to Greenspan Fed), combined with criminally LAX oversight at the GSEs, OFHEO, HUD, and a myriad other supposed "regulators" is what caused this colossal mess in the first place, right? And that easy money policy + shifting the risks to taxpayers inevitably leads to credit bubbles?

The absolute WORST thing for the housing market right now is a return to fraudulent, easy-money lending. Housing prices are still too damned high, based on supporting incomes and the rents (cash flow/ROI) those properties can generate. And the more the government tries to socialize losses or prevent necessary price declines, the longer the inevitable correction will take and the greater the pain for the truly blameless: sidelined homebuyers, who must wait even longer for truly "affordable" housing (not suicide loans), and homeowners who own their homes free-and-clear or didn't recklessly borrow, and now must also help pay for the bailout of Wall Street.

The absolute BEST outcome for ordinary taxpayers and consumers would be for government to remove all taxpayer guarantees/backstops, let the "private" GSEs fail, let sane lending standards return, and let prices fall to levels that incomes and rents can support. Unfortunately, such an outcome is only possible in a true free market economy --where recklessness is not rewarded and losses are not socialized. Not in the U.S.

Read the last page of Animal Farm - "from pig to man and from man to pig and from pig to man again: but already it was impossible to say which was which".

Also - "All animals are equal but some are more equal than others".

Capitalism is good as long as the owners of capital make money.

If you go bust and want a bail out you will be called a Welfare Queen/King. Newt Gingrich will want you to take personal responsibility. The same rule obviously does not hold true for FM and FM.


Here is the inside skinny on how the UK government obviated usual bank bankruptcy procedures to grab taxpayers money for the bail out on Northern Rock:
Northern Rock Crisis: Old and New Solutions - Seeking Alpha

And here is how they have been laundering bad loans through Ireland to take advantage of ECB swap facilities:

Trichet Announces New Rules For ECB Funding - Seeking Alpha

Iran wants OPEC output cut to target quotas

OPEC struggles with falling oil prices

'Aramco may be starting to price in a period of lower output'

Didn't take them long to get fed up with oil at <130USD. I suppose playing subbuteo with real football clubs isn't cheap.

It occurs to me that a lower oil price is less about global economic stability and more about profit, a higher price is less about preventing investment into alternative technologies and more about increasing market volatility.

What drama will unfold on Monday WRT Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac...

These giants stride across the world moving their chess pieces into position for the End Game.

Stop the world, I want to get off.

Article Whether to drill might be foregone:
Here is an issue that has been bouncing around in my back brain for some time and I have not in my lurking ever really seen it addressed on TOD. We have the “Drill Crowd” personified by Idiot Kudlow and we have the “No Dill Crowd” personified by the enviros. I reckon you can see were I hang by the adjective of the former. I have often thought that if I was President (and I have more experience than One-heart-beat Palin) that it might be wise to do a bit of nationalistic hoarding in the event that our children and grandchildren just might need to have some oil. Why is it that there is seldom (One time in this article) anyone or any group that actually sits down and talks about the need to hold on to some of our national treasure? It would seem to me that this would be the bigger discussion and a discussion that almost every country on the earth would now be having. Do we really believe that we are entitled to consume all crude oil in our generation? Do we believe in out hearts that there are actually replacements? Why can we not have the discussion on nationalistic hoarding as something that is imperative? There must be well educated individuals in third world countries that fully understand that when their one resource depletes they will all (but smaller population) be back to herding camels, goats and rabbits—and I suspect that also includes us. Is nationalist hoarding something that needs to be discussed? Is it off limits? Is it non-globalization? Help me.

It's often discussed here at TOD. Most of the rest of the world doesn't see any need for hoarding. The stone age didn't end because we ran out of stones, and all that.

However, Gail points out that if we don't extract the oil now, we may never be able to extract it. Rust never sleeps, as Matt Simmons likes to say. The oil infrastructure in place now will not last forever, and oil industry experts are retiring and dying (they have a very old workforce). It may be that when that rainy day comes, we will no longer have the equipment and skill to produce the oil. There probably isn't enough oil in ANWR to make it worth anyone's while to build a new Alaska pipeline, for example.

OTOH, drilling now brings the oil to market at far less than maximum utility. Hypothetically 700,000 b/day has *FAR* more utility burned in farm tractors, garbage trucks etc. than 1.5 million b/day burned to keep the last of our SUVs going to soccer practice (by those rich enough to afford it).

Burning less oil later can be good for reducing the speed of Climate Change.

Even at the risk of producing less oil, we would be MUCH better served by waiting.

The goal should be maximum utility for our remaining reserves, NOT maximum production (Gail's criteria). Maximum utility is not "Drill Now".


I asked the original question more in the tone of wanting to know if governments, our own included, have ever, or are now, or will ever, actually consider, in overt or covert ways to stash some of our oil treasure. I can understand why they may not want to acknowledge doing it because it would not fancy too well with countries whose oil we are rapidly depleting with our outrageous consumption. I know what it looks like on the surface and I know many think we are all idiots just burning it up until it is all gone and then, bingo, we will pull new sources of energy out of our hind ends. I am talking about sitting on Texas oil, low hanging fruit that is still out there. I am talking about holding back production covertly and using the oil others. Are there policies around, or even concepts of taking such action? Is it something for the next administration to consider? I am aware of all the economic consequences of doing this but, I am curious. It is very difficult for me to believe that with all of these various think tanks of all persuasions , and all the intellectuals of the oil persuasions and all the international strategist that there is not on going discussions somewhere about covering our backsides.

Who told you it was your treasure? Those think tanks have more important things to worry about than cheap gasoline for your SUV. Do you really think the USA would have gone from 60% of global GDP in the 60s to 19% today if the elite were obsessed with taking care of the sheep?

The parliamentary opposition in Kuwait is demanding that only a fixed percentage of the remaining official petroleum reserves be extracted each year. However, Kuwait isn't really a functioning democracy, what with all the leaders of the ruling party having the last name "al-Sabah".

In any case, you just tweak the "official petroleum reserves" to whatever it takes such that the fixed percentage thereof is what you want to extract. T'was ever thus.

I am talking about holding back production covertly and using the oil [of] others. Are there policies around, or even concepts of taking such action?

That's not how the "free" global markets work.


Imagine yourself as an Easter Islander suggesting to your fellow islanders that "we" should hold back on lumber harvesting and Moai head sculpturing.

Why that goes against the very fabric of our society, you would be told. It is incomprehensible to suggest that "production" should be constrained, held back, and that "growth" should be reigned in for the sake of our children. What would the island gods think? They would be offended. Surely they would destroy our island civilization if we even contemplated such a heretical idea.


Now imagine yourself back here in the "modern" world, on Island Earth. Our religion is that of worshiping the market and economic gods. What you are suggesting is pure heresy. Surely, The Market and The Economy would be offended by your very proposal. How can there be anything but perpetual "growth" and dividends paid out to infinity and beyond? Drill here. Drill now. Then take the bountiful wealth from your operations and invest them in the inevitable technologies of Tomorrowland. That is the only "sane" thing to do. Anything else would be, why; mad.

(And for those who will counter with it, yes, I know about the "rats ate the roots" theory for Easter Island. That's not the point here.)

Imagine yourself as an Easter Islander suggesting to your fellow islanders that "we" should hold back on lumber harvesting and Moai head sculpturing.

I think the problem there was not that it would be an offense to the island gods. Gods can be remarkably adaptable when required.

The problem was that if we don't harvest that lumber, someone else will. And if we don't make big stone heads, everyone will see it as proof of our weakness, and all the other tribes will target us for attack.


Very good. That's kind of where I was heading with that first salvo: economic and political inertia.

On this hypothetical Easter Island, "we" have invested a lot of ourselves into keeping the system going. The lumber cutting tribes have borrowed beads to buy more saws and hire more hands for the expected prime cutting season. Lumber union members have purchased new huts based on their expectations of having a good working season coming up. Ditto for the rock quary union members. The government has put out much propaganda to the masses on how "we" will be victorious in our war against nature if we properly please the Moai gods with a "surge" of head carvings. Holding back is a non-negotiable non-option.

Regarding government role, in drill now, or save for later. I don't think we have a government controlled by an intelligent process. We have competing political and economic interests. Most of these interests are narrowly focused on their own, usually short term goals. Then we have the whole elections game. As low information voters dominate the process, pandering to the desires, and misconceptions of these voters is far too important for members of the political class (least they get voted out of the game) to pay more than passing attention to rational long term goals.

Leanan, or perhaps Gail,

If there's not enough oil to rebuild the Alaska North Slope pipeline, why is there enough gas to build a gas pipeline from the Arctic to North Dakota? Oil, especially in energy terms, is more valuable than natural gas.

It is not clear there is. Without big subsidies, it is not clear the natural gas pipeline will be built from Alaska to North Dakota. If properly accounted for, the cost of the gas through the pipeline will be very high. Government subsidies can hide the fact that some projects are unreasonably expensive- cost more in resources than they deliver.

I do wish people would stop talking about drilling in ANWAR and just say "The North Slope". The envior groups keep showing pictures of beautiful mountain valleys. Also, there's no evidence I've seen that drilling upsets wildlife. a Canadian wildlife biologist said on CSPAN that the decline of the Canadain herd was due to over hunting by natives.

maybe you would also like to start calling yellowstone national park "the west slope" of the bighorn basin.

read some of david love's works for details.

Have you been to the North Slope? PS. ANWAR is not a national park.

As you seem to think you know so much about it, you could at least get the abbreviation right. It's ANWR, not ANWAR.

Are you aware of the nature of your country? You can't be serious-there will be "nationistic hoarding" just as soon as GS, JPM etc can take a nice big slice off the top, and not a moment before. If you can't afford the fuel it will be tough luck for you.

As I recall there was some discussion a couple months ago here on the Oil Drum of a statement by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia regarding reserving some currently undeveloped oilfields for future generations.

Antoinetta III

Not to be disrespectful, but I think your discussion is at wide variance with reality.

First, it is merely a political talking point to posit the "drill, drill, drill" crowd as polar opposites of those concerned about the environment. It is not an either or issue. The environmentalists are not opposing drilling anywhere at all, only in some areas. The areas that they are trying to protect do not hold enough oil to materially affect our consumption of oil, but they might hold enough to benefit some companies who hire lobbyists.

Second, I admire your concern about the long term interests of this country but I doubt very many politicians worry about this. They are driven by their donors and the need to win the next election. There may be some heros in Congress, but I doubt a majority. Public sentiment has been against drilling in ANWR, and that is what has kept it off limits to drilling. If the vast majority of Americans did not support them few would vote their conscience on this issue (or many others).

Jimmy Carter tried to raise this subject and he lost the Presidency to Reagan whose platform was "let's burn the furniture to keep the lights on and the party going." (my opinion). Since then politicians have been very nervous about discussing any sort of belt tightening even though Jimmy Carter probably lost for other reasons.

I have heard this called "Drain Now" by the "Drill Now" opponents.

What will we do in 40 years when the oil is gone ? No one knows

A comment from a Kazakh surgeon (Public Health student at Tulane) when I picked him up from the airport as he returned from his Gustav evacuation.


I don't care, because at that time I'm not on the earth anymore.
That's something our children must handle.

Gee, thanks Dad.

In spite of the negative ratings, I think the last sentence bears some thought. I often think that with my kids, and wonder if I shouldn't refrain somewhat. Since they will have to live in it, I think their response should count for more than us old farts. And they are quite worried. Along the same lines, I get pissed when our government keeps dumping all this debt on them.

The problem is that climate change is advancing much faster than we imagine, it'll get us older folks before we're in that warm, warm ground.

Well, well, why are you rating euro down???

For writing out loud what 99% of the people are secretly thinking? At least around here everyone seems to live a hundred percent in the Now, consuming the planet to death. If you ask them about the future, they call you treehugger or worse and claim not to have the time to discuss such BS.

what 99% of the people are secretly thinking?

That's unlikely, as altruism is hard-wired into our brains (see, for example, here). Caring about the welfare of others is the normal state in humans.

We may not be very good at planning for the future, but the evidence is clear: by and large, we do care about others, especially family. Accordingly, it's highly unlikely that most people (much less 99%) will be thinking "I don't care about a situation that my kids will have to deal with".

Based on altruism research, I would argue that most people would think the opposite, and would care about the state of humanity after their own deaths. I would also argue that the heavy negative rating on euro's comment is evidence that most people here care as well.

I agree that "altruism is hard-wired into our brains". However, there a huge difference between caring about the welfare of others now and in the future, as well as between caring about present and absent people.

Choosing the Now over the Future is also hard-wired into our brains and sadly enough often overrules our altruistic behaviour.

Plus, we are programmed to ignore inconvenient truths that we cannot change easily. We would not survive if we had to think about all the misery in the world 24 hours a day.


How do you explain that every single American or European is endangering our children's future by tampering with the climate?

How do you explain that most people buy clothes that obviously have been manufactured by children?

How come that more than half of the toys are manufactured under awful conditions.

I agree that most people think "I DO care about the situation that my kids will have to deal with", but soon afterwards they figure out that they simply cannot do without SUV, flying, heating, consuming etc. and simply repress the problem.

Oh, common, who among you can seriously say "I am truly altruistic: I emit only 1 ton of CO2 per year, I don't benefit from child labour, wars, dirty financial tricks..."

Altruism is hard-wired...but the problem is that we have Stone Age brains.

Whose Life Would You Save?

Morality is hard-wired into our brains. The problem is that it's a Stone Age morality.

there a huge difference between caring about the welfare of others now and in the future

Indeed there is; however, large-scale future affects will also impact one's kin, meaning concern about those effects stems from both our altruistic and our selfish tendencies.

How do you explain that every single American or European is endangering our children's future by tampering with the climate?

Lack of awareness of non-moral facts.

Suppose Bob Belgian is contemplating a plane trip. Should he forgoe this trip in order to protect future generations? Some reasons he might reasonably not do so:

  1. He's unfamiliar with the climate change issue.
    If he doesn't know what the possible ramifications of this action are, he can hardly be said to be unreasonably discounting them.
  2. He's been presented with only a very biased and misleading view of the issue.
    If all he's heard on the issue are Rush Limbaugh's Belgian podcasts, he's not in possession of the facts required to come to a reasonable conclusion on the issue.
  3. He believes carbon capture and storage will be highly effective, transforming this into an economic rather than environmental issue.
    He might be wrong, in which case this situation is much like the above; however, he might be not only right, but well-reasoned and well-justified in his belief, in which case he could have an excellent command of the facts and still come to a different conclusion than you.

The same person can come to very different conclusions based on the data they've been presented with.

How do you explain that most people buy clothes that obviously have been manufactured by children?

"Obviously"? Do you think they have tags saying "this t-shirt sewn by brutal child labour"?

Again, lack of awareness of non-moral facts: I strongly suspect most people simply don't know whether their clothes have been manufactured by children or not, and that the vast majority assume that they haven't been.

Don't posit malice where ignorance is more than sufficient.

I agree that most people think "I DO care about the situation that my kids will have to deal with", but soon afterwards they figure out that they simply cannot do without SUV, flying, heating, consuming etc. and simply repress the problem.

If you're saying that most people have trouble fully understanding the implications of their ideals and living up to them, then that's certainly true.

I think perhaps you may be glossing over too many of the details in many people's lives, though. For many, the SUV is for taking kids to soccer practice, flying is to take them to see grandma, heating is to keep them healthy in the winter, consuming is to ensure they're not deprived, and so on. Short-term concerns typically trump amorphous long-term concerns, even if both are taken seriously.

Now, you could argue that many of these attempts to provide for their kids are misguided (since when do kids have TVs in their bedrooms?), and you might have some good points there.

That's just another disagreement over non-moral facts, though, namely how best to provide for kids. If we all knew everything, much of this would be tremendously simplified. We don't, though, so people have to make their best guess based on the information they have. They're often wrong, but that's unfortunately very difficult to avoid.

It's also, incidentally, why I'm so hard on people who push false information. Bad information means bad decisions means people suffer, and being too lazy to prevent suffering is not a reasonable decision. Anyone I've hassled here in the last two years? That means you.

Hard as it sounds, that's just a rephrasement of Keynes' "In the long run, we are all dead", which, when taking into account the physical limits to growth, is implicitely followed by "and we don't give a @#$% for those who will be living then."

To put things in a little perspective. I believe this is the feeling of most people in the US. My friend lives in a real McMansion in an exclusive gated neighborhood a ways out of Reno. He is well read and an electrical engineer.

I asked: "So what happens when we run short of crude? Should we be cutting back?"

His answer: "No sweat, we will come up with something when we get short of crude. No reason to cut back, we will just get to the next level sooner."

I believe it will take a two by four right between the eyes to get their attention. Rant Off ...

That is what Dr. James Schlesinger said at the ASPO conference in Cork last September, "Americans have to be hit in the head with a two by four."

I heard that exact sentiment from a McMansion dweller just the other day. I gave up trying to make any points, as the smugness was too much to bear. I didn't even say anything when it was suggested that we could just switch our cars to hydrogen.

I'm inclined to think in at least this case, the unwillingness to consider Peak Oil to be a problem is related to a sense of self-worth that comes from affluence. Wealth is society's way of demonstrating that they are better than average (from a previous discussion with this same person, NOT my belief). Any suggestion that the system that rewards them is based on a failing assumption implicitly means that they might not be so extraordinary.

Any suggestion that the system that rewards them is based on a failing assumption implicitly means that they might not be so extraordinary.

hubris, a.k.a. pride goes before a fall

Isn't this the most amazing thing? As an electrical engineer he had to take at least a few physics courses in school and yet he can't see with his own eyes.

My personal opinion is that this is just human nature. We have a world view that is supported by myth, politics, society, friends and relatives. We don't often think about it critically. This is what lets a scientist study thermodynamics in the lab and not apply it to daily life. They are two different worlds. Once you get beyond scientists and engineers it becomes hopeless. It is not that most people are not capable of participating in thinking about the world, it is just really difficult if the political and social powers are not supportive.

Look at the various bubbles that have occurred over time. What possessed people to think that a single tulip could be worth as much as a home? How could they think that various dot-com stocks a decade ago were worth those fantastic amounts? It certainly wasn't careful analysis of the facts.

this is just human nature. ... We don't often think about it critically. ... Isn't this the most amazing thing? As an electrical engineer he had to take at least a few physics courses in school and yet he can't see [PO, energy crisis] with his own eyes.

The same kind of criticism can be doubled back at most of us.

In school, we studied biology. We studied evolution.
Many of us can name the 4 major chambers of the heart or the bones in the human hand.

And yet, what do we know of the human brain and its evolution? Oft, we smugly say, "it's just human nature". We don't know who or what we are.

We're not what we think we are.

Hi Lynford,

Maybe you should have said something like "So, when we run short of crude and the economy goes into decline, could I/(we) move in with you?" Or, probably more apt, "Well, when we run short and the economy begins its relentless contraction...you can always live with me/(us) on the homestead."

(Trying to make a joke but maybe also a point.)

I am curious, though, what did you say next?

Port Fourchon More than $1 billion worth of oil and gas per day is not reaching US markets because of damage done by Hurricane Gustav

I think oil will continue to fall if they can't produce it.

Assuming all 7 BCFD comes through PF, at 7.80 per 1000, that's 50 million dollars a day. That's leave 8.8 Million barrels a day at 108 also coming through PF.

As the infamous Mr. Clown once said, "Homey don't play that."

I guess math isn't in big demand these days.

Global oil supply (total liquids) was 87.8 mb/d in July (IEA).

At this rate the world is using about 32 billion barrels of oil/liquids per year.

China has raised gasoline prices and sales taxes on SUV's and light trucks while cutting sales taxes on compact cars in an effort to reduce dependence on oil imports. Late summer Chinese auto sales growth has been the slowest in years, whereas auto sales are down in Europe, India, and North America.

In a recession businesses reduced inventories in order to try to survive periods of lower sales. Reduction of oil inventories during a time of high prices is a means of survival.

Commercialisation of river water: everybody says how great it is. The government even buys some water back for the fish and the ducks having overallocated the irrigation rights in the first place. However it's like winning a game of poker on the Titanic since eventually most people are going to lose. The rich will buy water for more wine grapes but families will pay more for basic food items. The relentless combination of climate change and population growth means there will be less on average. But we're supposed to feel better since our reduction in material comfort is based on 'the market'.


You made some comments last week regarding the Middle Ages that I found quite objectionable. I wanted to respond at the time, but needed to do a little research beforehand. My impetus to respond soon fell to the wayside, but then yesterday I read an editorial in the New York Times about the McCain/Palin energy policy that spurred me on:

Mr. McCain’s choice of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate raises even more worrisome questions. Her strategy is drill here, drill there, drill now.

She would open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in a heartbeat — something Mr. McCain continues to oppose. She has sued the Bush administration for declaring the polar bear a threatened species, fearing it would interfere with oil exploration in Alaskan waters. She has questioned whether humans are responsible for climate change. Governor Palin’s views are alarmingly out of touch with reality.


In order to understand Palin and her disconnect from reality, I believe it is necessary to place her within some historical and philosophical framework. By this time her religious and philosophical inclinations are pretty well known.

Recently there has been a deliberate and well orchestrated attempt by many Christian apologists to do two things:

1) To whitewash the Dark Ages, making it seem they were not nearly so bad as they really were, and

2) To rewrite the history of the United States so that it bolsters their viewpoint that it was founded as a “Christian nation.”

Western history begins with the Roman Empire and its subsequent fall. As Bryan Ward-Perkins has pointed out, there is one

change that did impact on the entire post-Roman world and the whole period between 250 and 800: the spread, and momentous triumph, over the older religions of Rome and Persia, of two great monotheistic cults, Christianity and Islam.

Bryan Ward-Perkins, The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization

The "Middle" Ages were, therefore, undoubtedly the “Christian” Ages, and the efforts by Christian apologists to whitewash that era are thus quite understandable. Ward-Perkins has this to say:

The new Late Antiquity (the historical interpretation preferred by the Christian apologists) is fascinated with the history of religion… I have sometimes wondered whether it has found particular favour in the United States because religion plays a much more central role in modern life there than it does in most of Europe.

When I read your comments the other day they struck me as being very similar to those of some Christian apologists, such as the following by the Catholic writer Christopher Dawson:

To the secular historian the early Middle Ages must inevitably still appear as the Dark Ages, as ages of barbarism, without secular culture or literature, given up to unintelligible disputes on incomprehensible dogmas… But to the Catholic they are not dark as much as ages of dawn, for they witnessed the conversion of the West, the foundation of Christian civilisation , and the creation of Christian art and Catholic liturgy. Above all, they were the Age of the Monks…

So what’s the danger in this sort of historical bias? Ward-Perkins expresses it thusly:

…the post-Roman centuries saw a dramatic decline in economic sophistication and prosperity, with an impact on the whole of society, from agricultural production to high culture, and from peasants to kings. It is very likely that the population fell dramatically, and certain that the widespread diffusion of well-made goods ceased. Sophisticated cultural tools, like the use of writing, disappeared altogether in some regions, and became very restricted in all others.

My worries about the new Late Antiquity, however, go deeper than a concern that it is so restricted by its religious focus as to be deceptively wrong. I also think there is a real danger for the present day in a vision of the past that explicitly sets out to eliminate all crisis and all decline. The end of the Roman West witnessed horrors and dislocation of a kind I sincerely hope never to have to live through; and it destroyed a complex civilization, throwing the inhabitants of the West back to a standard of living typical of prehistoric times. Romans before the fall were as certain as we are today that their world would continue for ever substantially unchanged. They were wrong. We would be wise not to repeat their complacency.

William Manchester also paints a bleak picture of the Middle Ages:

...there was no room in the medieval mind for doubt; the possibility of skepticism simply did not exist. Katholikos, Greek for "universal," had been used by theologians since the second century to distinguish Christianity from other religions...

Saint Vincent of Lerins had written in his Commonitoria that the Church had become "a faithful and ever watchful guardian of the dogmas which have been committed to her charge. In this secret deposit she changes nothing, she takes nothing from it, she adds nothing to it."

Subsequent spokesmen for the Holy See enlarged upon this, assuming, in God's name, the right to prohibit changes by those who worshiped elsewhere or nowhere. Overstating this absolutism is impossible. "The Catholic Church holds it better," wrote a Roman theologian, "that the entire population of the world should die of starvation in extreme agony...than that one soul, I will not say should be lost, but should commit one single venial sin..." Even to "appeal from the living voice of the Church" was "a treason," wrote a cardinal, "because that living voice is supreme; and to appeal from that supreme voice is also a heresy, because that voice, by divine assistance, is infallible."

William Manchester, A World Lit Only by Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance

You took exception to this portrayal of the medieval mind as follows:

The point was that the 'medieval mind' was nothing like as monolithic and absolute as the first quote you gave implied, and nor was it inhumanly certain.
DaveMart, DrumBeat Setp. 3

I would argue that, in order to debunk your contention, we have to look no farther than the treatment of well-known men of science such as Nicolaus Copernicus (book banned that stated that the earth is not the center of the universe) , Giordano Bruno (burned at the stake) and Galileo Galilei (convicted of grave suspicion of heresy for "following the position of Copernicus,” forced to renounce those beliefs and placed under house arrest for the rest of his life), much less that of the leading philosophical and intellectual lights of the Renaissance:

The intellectuals were usually without champions, unarmed in a Europe bristling with weapons, and at times it seemed that every man’s hand was against them. Very few were to be untouched during the disorders. Some, like Erasmus, fled from one asylum to another; some were executed; others survived torture but were horribly maimed, their noses torn away, foreheads branded, hands cut off at the wrist, or nipples plucked out by pincers.

William Manchester, A World Lit Only by Fire

So who were these intellectuals? In short, they were the humanists. And humanism, the Holy See would bitterly learn, led to the greatest threat the Church had ever faced. As early as A.D. 166 Lucian had defined Christians as “men who are persuaded that they will survive death and live forever: in consequence, they despise death and are willing to sacrifice their lives to the faith.” Belief in a life everlasting lay at the very center of Christianity. To true Christians, life on earth was almost irrelevant. The thought of living for the sheer sake of living, celebrating mortal existence before God took them unto his own, was subversive of the entire structure.

Abandoning the past’s preoccupations with eternity, humanists preached enrichment of life in the here and now. Their message, reversing ten centuries of medieval solemnity, was hearty—an expression of confidence that men would learn to understand, and then master, natural forces, that they could grasp the nature of the universe, even shape their own destinies. Humanism, by its very character, implied a revolt against all Christian authority.

The Renaissance was only the beginning of a long process of throwing off the chains of Christianity. It took over two hundred more years of religious reformation, counter-reformation, inquisition and sectarian war to sufficiently loosen those chains so that the ideas of the Enlightenment (reason, nature, science, freedom) could finally triumph. And it is the tenets of the Enlightenment, and not those of Christianity, as many Christian apologists would have us believe, that dominated the thinking of our founding fathers when they crafted the Constitution.

But the ideas of the Enlightenment have recently come under tremendous strain. Our secular/civil/political institutions in this country have become so corrupted that they seem to be almost beyond repair. The confrontation between the contradictory national ideals of equality and liberty is raising its ugly head. Scientific materialism, never offering any solace for the heart, now faces failure on its own terms. It gained a dominant position in modernism because it has proven so efficacious in permitting those who master its modes of knowing to exercise a great deal of control over the human environment. But with looming energy shortages and global warming, will it be able to do so in the future? Doubts, uncertainties and disillusionment abound. And in an increasingly complex world, people start casting about, looking for something to believe in. And for many, fundamentalism fits the bill—it's primitive and it’s simple, without doubts and without uncertainties. As Jacques Barzun put it:

The late 20th century has resumed the battle. Fundamentalism is Luther’s Biblicism in a new phase, and throughout the West, sects multiply as they did 450 years ago—there are 172 such groups registered in France alone, most of them Christian. And the results of this renewed search for faith are the same now as then. The modern stirrings are of course less root-and-branch efforts than those of the 16th century. They demand a full-scale return to the conditions of the early church, sounding the theme of primitivism—back to the basics! When people feel that accretions and complications have buried the original purpose of an institution, when all arguments for reform have been heard and have failed, the most thoughtful and active decide that they want to be “cured of civilization.”

Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence: 1500 to the Present

The same sentiments are echoed in the writings of Ward-Perkins:

My conception of Roman civilization, and its demise, is a very material one, which in itself probably renders it unfashionable. The capacity to mass-produce high-quality goods and spread comfort makes the Roman world rather too similar to our own society, with its rampant and rapacious materialism. Instead of studying the complex economic systems that sustained another sophisticated world, and their eventual demise, we seem to prefer to read about things that are wholly different from our own experience, like the ascetic saints of the late and post-Roman worlds, who are very fashionable in late-antique studies. In their lifetimes, the attraction of these saints was their rejection of the material values of their own societies, and our world, which is yet more materialistic and ‘corrupt’, seems to find them equally compelling… This is a much more beguiling vision of the past than mine, with its distribution maps of peasant settlement, and its discussion of good- and bad-quality pottery.

So when one looks at the religious and historical tradition in which Palin is steeped, I believe her disconnect from reality is quite predictable. And her appeal to her supporters, likewise steeped in that same tradition, stems from the following yearnings: a flight from the harsh realities of scientific materialism to the comforts and assurances of faith; a return to primitive Christian absolutism where there is no room for doubt or uncertainty; a religious-based solution to the rampant corruption that pervades our secular/civil/political institutions; and an escape from what Max Weber called the “iron cage” of objectivism--its imperialist and arrogant claim to be the only valid for of knowing--that imprisons the heart and soul of our civilization.

In short, what Palin is advocating is the turning away from a secularist approach and towards a faith-based approach to solve our many problems.

Wow! Quite an essay! I am pleased that you found my response stimulating!

However, most of your response is based on false premises, and the attribution of opinions to me that I do not in fact hold, together with a presumed connection between some hypothetical entity called the 'medieval mind' and what you assume to be Ms Palin's philosphy.

This entity, which it is contended is without doubt, then persecutes people who were alive at the time, such as the intellectuals, and I would suggest the Cathars - since they were medieval people, how did they come to be excluded from 'the medieval mind?'

The answer is, of course, that they were an inherent part of it, and objectivised the doubts and conflicts inherent in it.

Absolutism in whatever form, is riddled by suppressed doubt, so that the Sunni created the Shia, the Catholic universally the same 'heresies', continually suppressed, and continually born anew, dragon's teeth to the men of faith, seeds of hope to the rest of us.

I don't know Ms Palin's intellectual framework, but I suspect that she has not thought about much of it at all, as people of business and politician's often don't.

Personally, I find the apparent framework she operates from horrifying, and, contrary to that which you assume, I am myself very much a child of the enlightenment and, from an age and more ago, Greek humanist thought.

Many who attack Christian apologists though find themselves in the unfortunate position of Satan, who with God dead had to assume the role.
I believe the Communists found themselves in this predicament.

In short, if you imagine from my response some sort of sympathy with the fundamentalist right, you are widely mistaken.
However, to have bought into absolutists self-description as unified and doubtfree, whether now or in the Middle Ages, is to have bought a pig in a poke.

Reading Chaucer should immunise against any thought that the Middle ages were anything like the way some of the Popes thought they should be, and lay bare some of the emotional and intellectual conflicts of the time.

Interesting discussion, gentleman -- "off-topic" or not. Thanks for your thoughts.


Thank you for your response, and sorry if I lumped you together with some of the Christian apologists.

And your observations that the medieval humanists were just as much a part of the "medieval mind" as their persecutors, that the medieval mind was not at all monolithic, is received and acknowledged.

I think the above type of conversations are important because, if as many on this board assert, scientific materialism has run its course and can no longer deliver on its promise of forever increasing worldly comfort, then what?

If material gratification diminishes, will there be a turning inwards, filling that void with quiet meditation and spiritually?

Or will the response be more muscular--wars and pogroms to seize the material posessions of others?

Will we fall victim to demagogues and their false claims?

Will the ideas of the Enlightenment and our great experiment in democracy and liberalism all prove to have been a fleeting historical abberation?

It's pretty scarry, and people like Sarah Palin, from my perspective, embody pretty much the worse possible response.

There's a lot at stake. As Richard Bernstein wrote in Dictatorship of Virtue,:

The plain and inescapable fact is that the derived Western European culture of American life produced the highest degree of prosperity in the conditions of the greatest freedom ever known on planet Earth.

Thanks for a stimulating discussion.
You will have to pardon me if my 57 year old brain has trouble keeping up at times!

On the points you raise, I am afraid I am rather pessimistic.
I can see no evidence from history that a response to great material shortages will be other than the use of force.
It is notable that Ghandi's dreams of a peaceful, spiritual India ended in the bloody partition.

Briefly, my take on our predicament is as follows:
Both doomers and cornucopians seem to me to be assuming that the future is more predictable than it is, and their knowledge greater than it is.
Even supposing we were working within a Newtonian, perfectly predictable system, no-one could possibly have the knowledge to make accurate predictions - if your expertise is in technology, then finance could falsify your predictions, if in finance, ecology, and so on.
We can at best make limited predictions on the simplest elements, for instance geology shows that oil will peak fairly soon,
If we try to generalise that even to the statement that fossil fuels will soon be short, the argument breaks down and becomes indeterminate, with assumptions built in about whether underground coal gasification is possible, or the exploitation of methane hydrates.

In fact though, the situation is far from a narrow, Newtonian predictability, with whole flocks of black swans flying about, form someone pressing the button for nuclear war to high altitude wind breakthroughs providing cheap energy.

Given widely uncertain outcomes, then the issue than becomes one of BAU in some form, or a more ecological turning away from growth, and making do with less.

In fact, these ideas are not as far apart as it at first seems, as there is no conceivable BAU which would not involve a great deal of amendment to out current practices, nor, I will argue, a green approach which does not rely on a great deal of BAU continuing.

Simply, there are far too many of us for any of the proposed 'green' solutions to work without a great deal of BAU
The middle ages, and the ancient world, had something like 200-500 million people.
Now better technology, more on that in a moment, might indicate that more could be supported, but environmental degradation surely counters that, but supposing we are generous and assume that 2 billion people could be supported with some sort of organic, windmill and solar powered society, anyone who thinks that the other 4.5 billion people will disappear without fighting does not know history or human nature.

This means, in my judgement, that any solution which tries this 'ecological' solution implies a population far, far lower than that in the ancient world or middle ages - even without nuclear war, just the chaos of endemic warfare would ensure that almost everywhere no such systems could be set up.

In any case, to support an 'ecological' society, a vast BAU structure is needed.
Both windpower and solar, for instance, rely on the mining and processing of vast amounts of materials, and the great dispersion of both power sources alone make the provision of the needed power doubtful if they are the sole energy sources.
If it is argued that scrap could be used , well, for a sustainable society, that does not seem a very sustainable solution.
Both power sources in their production also rely on the full panoply of our technical resources, with nanotechnology important for solar energy.

It also seems apparent to me that BAU without substantial modification is impossible, as it would destroy the environment on which it depends.

Perhaps cynically, perhaps with the same pragmatism as the slave-owning George Washington, I would feel that Enlightenment itself is a product of some material distance from the struggle for survival, and that a purely idealistic future path is precluded by present realities.

Again pragmatically, even if it seems unlikely that we will meet with success, what is the point of making doomer assumptions and basing our actions on that? I am persuaded that in the event of a breakdown in our society, the least likely outcome is some relatively pleasant half-way house, and that the death rate will laugh at personal preparation and conservation.

Muddling through is the very best we can hope for, with severe damage.

Sorry for the long post - it was an attempt to reply with the same level of thought as you put into your post, but my brain may have died in the effort!

I would agree that, when it comes to looking for solutions to the twin problems of oil depletion and environmental degradation, neither the doomer nor Cornucopian outlook is helpful. We need to acknowledge the problems while at the same time maintaining sufficient optimism to continue working for solutions, to not throw up our arms in despair.

I would also agree that the most favorable outcome will be acheived with a reliance on, as you say, the "full panoply of our technical resources."

Thus far, however, the response from the U.S. has been anything but encouraging:

1) McCain and Palin seem to have become totally captive to the oil and gas industry and are promoting the fiction that the only thing we have to do is unleash the oil companies so that they can drill, drill, drill and we can continue consuming like always.

2) The search for effective solutions by Obama and the Democrats, on the other hand, has been coopted by a hunt for scapegoats. It's those evil speculators! It's OPEC! It's the big oil companies!

3) The Republican and Democratic stances have one thing in common, and that is they both rely on the fantasy that these problems have easy solutions, sparing us any painful choices and absolving us of any personal responsibility.

4) When a 1% or 2% change in either supply or demand of oil or natural gas can cause huge swings in the prices, it should be rather obvious that "free markets" (an 18th-century concept closely linked to Enlightenment ideas) are not conducive to a constructive solution.

5) The invasion of Iraq was a direct response to the looming oil shortages. To me this was the worst of all responses.

6) There is a strong resistance in our culture to deploying our "full panoply of our technical resources." As I pointed out in my essay, I believe this tendency has its roots in our long history of Christian fundamentalism, and I believe Sarah Palin to be fully steeped in this tradition.

"Belief in a life everlasting lay at the very center of Christianity. To true Christians, life on earth was almost irrelevant."

Quite on the contrary, because your eternal fate depends on how you live on earth!

Or, if you followed orthodoxy, on whether you could get absolution from an authorised pardoner at the point of death.
He had paid the Church authorities heavily for his authorisation, direct from heaven, and had to screw people terrified of hell for as much as he could get to pay them and live in the style he wished.
The Holy See had various wars to suppress heresy and so on to pay for, and conveniently could rope all the forces of heaven in on their side.
Considerable ingenuity was expended parcelling out and re-bundling to retail this bounty from heaven.

La plus ca change....

The people of the middle ages were far from blind to these absurdities.


Urban survival is getting more doomerish by the day, George is now quoting Orlov's book.

Coping: Security Mindedness
There's a big section in Dmitry Orlov's book "Reinventing Collapse", that deals with how everyday people during the collapse of the Soviet empire, found themselves engaged in a whole lot more thinking about personal security than they ever had in the last. The idea went to the notion that if you had anything of value, you would need people to help you keep it. And, if you didn't have something, you could sell your service - like in a protection racket - not to take it.

I mention that because as we head into future events, there's a whole lot of development that has been going on in the field of 'security' in general and a headline like "Bulletproof designs add style to growing Mexico security industry" begs for comment. I mean beyond the obvious: "Designer and Kevlar being used in the same sentence, who would have thought?

Got friends? Got bullets? Have a spare clunker to loan out to your neighbors? Its looking more like Aregentina every day.

Cheers to living in these interesting times and having a ringside seat to the end of this world.

If you are a member of the present political and business establishment, it is called 'Blackwater'.
The framework has already been established in the US and UK with anti-terrorist legislation to discard habeus corpus.