DrumBeat: October 15, 2008

Depressed Canadian oil giants ripe for takeover

CALGARY - Canadian oil and gas companies are ripe for becoming merger bait -and we're not talking about the small and medium-sized shops. The biggies -- Suncor Energy Inc., En-Cana Corp., Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Talisman Energy Inc. and Nexen Inc. -- could all be targets for the world's super biggies.

"In case you didn't think there was money around, the super majors have lots," said Terry Peters, an analyst at Canaccord Adams, in a research note last week that riffed off an article in Petroleum Intelligence Weekly (PIW).

"The super majors have money, motive and opportunity and some of our larger Canadian companies appear vulnerable."

Gunmen attack Nigerian navy vessel near Bonny plant

LAGOS (Reuters) - Gunmen in speedboats attacked a Nigerian naval vessel anchored at a Royal Dutch Shell jetty close to a major liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal on Wednesday, a security source said.

A second source who works in the LNG plant at Bonny said he heard shooting which appeared to be less than half a kilometre from the living quarters of the facility, whose exports make up close to 10 percent of world LNG supply.

Plant-based fuel makers face tough test

MARION, Ohio - It may be one of the biggest green gambles of the century: a national goal of converting wood, grass, corn stalks and garbage into 16 billion gallons of cellulosic biofuels annually by 2022.

No commercial-scale refineries exist, researchers have yet to agree on the best technology for fuel conversion and there is no distribution network to handle fuel once it is made.

Add it all up and the country's not even close to meeting the EPA's renewable fuel standards a mere 14 years from now.

Incentives luring buyers back to pickups, SUVs: Declining gas prices also could swing pendulum away from smaller cars

Is history repeating itself in the automobile industry? The latest data on vehicle sales suggest that it might be.

Auto sales hit the skids in September, sinking to their lowest level in more than 15 years, as the faltering economy and credit crunch combined to squeeze the business. But amid the carnage, sales of large pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles held their own, according to Edmunds.com.

Yes, you read that correctly: trucks and SUVs, the very same gas-swigging monsters that Americans have stampeded away from this year as gasoline prices rose to record levels.

Oil dips below $75 as OPEC cuts demand forecast

NEW YORK - Oil prices dipped below $75 a barrel Wednesday, a new 13-month low, as OPEC reduced its 2009 petroleum demand forecast amid signs that the global economy is headed for a severe downturn.

Light, sweet crude for November delivery fell $2.95 to $75.68 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after earlier sliding to $74.57, the lowest trading level since Sept. 5, 2007.

Hurricane Omar gains strength, nears Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN (Reuters) - Hurricane Omar strengthened on Wednesday as it bore down on Puerto Rico and the small islands of the northeastern Caribbean, threatening to bring torrential rains that could trigger dangerous floods and mudslides.

The 15th tropical cyclone of a busy Atlantic hurricane season formed north of the Dutch island of Curacao on Tuesday, immediately disrupting oil operations in Venezuela and later at a refinery in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Global warming may make some spots inviting

Predictions about the rate of global warming vary greatly, but even by conservative estimates it's likely to have a big effect on travel. Many current tourist hotspots will literally be too hot for comfort, while others will lose their natural beauty, be prone to catastrophic storms—or simply be underwater.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the planet's average temperature could increase by as much as 3.5 degrees celsius by 2100, causing sea levels to rise nearly four feet. If the Greenland and Antarctic continental ice sheets then melt—as some predict—sea levels could rise by an additional 30 feet. Potential side effects include increasingly intense storms, catastrophic heat waves and global flooding on a biblical scale.

But on the upside, many previously undesirable locations farther from the equator, or at higher altitudes, could become much more inviting.

Memos tell wildlife officials to ignore global-warming impact

WASHINGTON — New legal memos by top Bush administration officials say that the Endangered Species Act can't be used to protect animals and their habitats from climate change by regulating specific sources of greenhouse gas emissions, the cause of global warming.

The assessment, outlined in memos sent earlier this month and leaked Tuesday, provides the official legal justification for limiting protections under the Endangered Species Act.

National Priorities Project: The real cost of oil

According to a new report from National Priorities Project (NPP), the United States is spending between $97 and $215 billion dollars annually on military action to defend access to oil and natural gas reserves around the globe. The Military Cost of Securing Energy provides a critical analysis of the military cost of defending U.S. energy concerns overseas. The report estimates that the military spends up to 30 percent of its annual budget to secure access to energy resources internationally.

Crude Predictions: A Look Back

One of the great things about the Internet is that it makes it a lot easier to look back at older predictions and scoff.

Pickens Decries Lack of Energy Plan

During a visit to Chicago, IL to drum up support for his so-called "Pickens Plan," businessman T. Boone Pickens said America's energy crisis is just as urgent as its current financial emergency and outlined a solution that makes liberal use of natural gas and wind energy.

"I got into this crusade because I think I'm the only person in America who understands the energy issue and I wanted to share that with you," Pickens told an audience of more than 500 people at Chicago's Navy Pier Grand Ballroom. "In this country, we are all to blame for the predicament we're in today."

Russia's oil output down 0.6% in January-September

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) - Russia's crude oil output declined 0.6% year-on-year in January-September to 365 million metric tons (2.7 billion barrels), the country's top statistics body said on Wednesday.

Oil: Remember Iran?

Aside from potential OPEC action in November, and the rapid shelving of many high cost production schemes curtailing medium term supply, the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran is rising again and stands at probably 30% plus.

Despite US diplomatic overtures, it seems that Iran has seen the current U.S. economic chaos as an opportunity to go for nuclear broke, and Russia in its newly aggressive mood, is assisting both with the reactor and advanced surface to air missile systems.

Refinery shutdowns limit diesel supply

A sudden diesel shortage has workers hitting the pumps a little earlier these days.

A scheduled turnaround at Petro–Canada’s Edmonton refinery combined with an unscheduled maintenance shutdown at the Strathcona Imperial Oil refinery, and an unscheduled shutdown at Suncor’s hydrogen plant has local service companies feeling the pinch.

Nigeria unions threaten strike over NNPC sale plans

ABUJA (Reuters) - Union members at Nigeria's state oil company NNPC will launch strike action on Thursday Oct. 23 unless the government clarifies plans to privatise some of the firm's downstream subsidiaries, union leaders said on Wednesday.

Venezuela Growth Forecast Cut by JPMorgan on Lower Oil Prices

(Bloomberg) -- JPMorgan Chase & Co. cut its 2009 economic growth forecast for Venezuela to 2.5 percent from 3.5 percent on lower oil prices and expectations of a global recession.

Should oil prices remain below $90 next year, Venezuela's current account surplus, expected to close the year at 14 percent of gross domestic product, could move into a deficit in 2009, analyst Ben Ramsey wrote in a report published today.

Venezuela's Chavez Talks Austerity As Oil Boom Softens

President Hugo Chavez has signaled that Venezuela's heady days of easy oil wealth are coming to an end, but many believe his tendency to spend will stay intact.

The president and his closest officers have insisted that "austerity" will be practiced in the 2009 budget to be released this week, as oil prices have fallen far below the level needed to sustain the state's fiscal purse.

Brazil Dethrones Mexico

Mexican lawmakers, scrambling to turn around their declining oil industry, have a model to follow in Brazil, which outshines other Latin American countries in new regional rankings.

For the first time, Brazil has surpassed Mexico in terms of proved oil reserves, according to the country’s hydrocarbons regulator, A.N.P. Brazil boasted 12.6 billion barrels at the end of 2007, compared to Mexico’s 12.2 billion barrels. What is worse, Mexico’s reserves have been declining for years, while Brazil has made steady improvements.

The reasons for Mexico’s slip are clear. The country cannot attract foreign investors while staterun Pemex, with its weak investment portfolio, is the government’s cash cow. Now that the prolific Cantarell field is in natural decline, Pemex is struggling to discover and develop new fields. Brazil, meanwhile, enjoys a competitive energy sector that has reported several worldclass discoveries in recent months.

Mexican lawmakers approve energy reform panels

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Two committees in Mexico's senate approved on Tuesday the first part of a package of energy reforms before Congress to allow more private investment in the country's flagging state-run energy sector.

The senate committees voted to create three independent panels, made up of government officials and outside experts, that would oversee the country's future energy policies by promoting energy efficiency, environmental protection and monitoring new oil exploration and drilling projects.

Pakistan: NWFP residents decry unabated power loadshedding

PESHAWAR: People from all walks of life across NWFP Tuesday while denouncing the hours-long and unscheduled loadshedding hold demonstrations, blocked the roads and used different ways to express their anger.

The residents of Gulberg locality of Peshawar have asked the authorities to end the ongoing unannounced loadshedding in their area. Talking to The News on Tuesday, the elders of the area complained that the prolonged loadshedding had not only affected their routine life but also the studies of their school-going children for the last several weeks.

Pakistan: Loadshedding hits agriculture sector

LAHORE - Unannounced loadshedding is badly affecting the country’s agriculture sector particularly at the time when the sowing season of wheat, canola and other crops is beginning throughout the country, agriculturists said on Tuesday.

They said that the country is facing severe water shortage following India stopped Pakistan’s water at River Chenab to fill the controversial Baglihar dam. Now loadshedding is adding fuel to fire and destroying the agriculture sector because there are 200,000 electric tubewells in the country to irrigate the land, which could not be run due to electricity shortage, said Ibrahim Mughal Chairman Agri-Forum Pakistan.

Zimbabwe faces collapse, starvation

Zimbabwe's children are fending off starvation by eating rats or nibbling inedible roots riddled with toxic parasites, says the Save the Children charity.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says it has found people who survive on wild berries and roots.

Elsewhere, many farm families are trading their last remaining livestock for buckets of maize or have eaten the seed corn intended for next summer's harvest.

Bangladesh: 68 fishing trawlers looted, 40 fishermen abducted for ransom in 4 days in Bay

Pirates looted 68 fishing trawlers and abducted 40 fishermen for ransom in different points of the Bay in last four days since Wednesday.

The pirates looted all valuables including fish, fuel, net, engine and spare parts and cash worth Tk 20 lakh from those trawlers and injured at least 11 fishermen by beating and chopping.

Fishermen have been panicked to go to the sea due to rampant piracy although huge hilsa fishes are being netted in Patuakhali and Barguna coasts for the last seven days.

Worst retail sales in three years

A steep 3.8% decline in auto purchases helped depress the overall sales for the month.

Even when volatile auto sales were stripped from the report, sales fell 0.6%, three times the 0.2% decrease economists had predicted.

The weak report shows that consumers cut down on everything except healthcare products and gas, according to Scott Hoyt, senior director of consumer economics at Moody's economy.com.

Hard times are good times at the pawnshop

At People’s Pawn in Springfield, Mass., the collection of DVD players, televisions and other electronics just keeps getting bigger.

As many as 200 a people a day come in to “sell all their stuff so they can get gas money,” said Efren Rivera, who works at the shop. “Some people have to pay their mortgages.”

The story is similar at EZ Cash Pawn in West Palm Beach, Fla., where the shelves are so stacked with electronics, musical instruments, guns, fishing poles, scuba gear — you name it — that people are being turned away.

“I have no choice," said Robert DeSantis, the shop’s owner. "I have tools in the warehouse now — every single tool you can think about.”

Your vote, your crummy highways

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The economy isn't the only thing falling apart in the United States.

Much of the nation's infrastructure - the highways, bridges, airports and transit lines that keep the American economy humming - is also crumbling and in dire need of improvement. Clearly, a top job for the next president will be finding the funds to fix these sprawling systems.

In fact, it would take $1.6 trillion over five years to address the nation's infrastructure problems, according to a 2005 report by the American Society of Civil Engineers, which gave the country's system a "D."

GM: Better off bankrupt

The automaker is in trouble, but even Chapter 11 would be better than hooking up with Chrysler.

British Airways follows Virgin and cuts fuel surcharges

British Airways has followed Virgin Atlantic in cutting its fuel surcharges as airline passengers finally benefit from the fall in the cost of oil.

Industry in upheaval: Plotting the future for PV

Predictions for the future global PV market vary dramatically, but a more accurate picture can be derived if market fundamentals are considered across the world's major PV economies. Gerhard Stryi-Hipp identifies the markets and the factors that will influence them over the coming years.

A president with an energy plan: Neither nuclear nor 'clean coal' will solve the crisis

Before most people had ever heard of commercial paper, they knew that high oil prices were squeezing both their wallets and the nation's economy, and the presidential candidates spent more time talking about gas tanks than banks. The financial meltdown of recent weeks hasn't just overshadowed the energy crisis, it has eased it in the short term -- gasoline prices have fallen because oil traders fear that demand will shrink in a global recession. Yet meeting our energy challenges will remain among the most important concerns of the next president.

That's why it's doubly disappointing that neither Barack Obama nor John McCain has a responsible energy plan. In pandering to voters in swing states, both have backed dangerous, dirty energy sources in contradiction of their own principles.

Pickens: $3 gasoline 'temporary'

Pickens' considerable wealth and power -- he's spending $50 million to press his plan -- has earned him audiences with both presidential candidates. Neither, he said, seem sufficiently alarmed by the energy "crisis."

Sen. John McCain wants to build 45 new nuclear reactors by 2030. Joked Pickens: "He'll be 110; I'll be 120."

Sen. Barack Obama's plan includes adding 1 million plug-in hybrid cars in the next 10 years, an approach that fails to recognize "the magnitude of the problem you and I are facing,'' Pickens said.

McCain's Nuclear Plan Would Be an Economic and Environmental Disaster - Report

Senator John McCain's plan to build up to a 100 new nuclear reactors could cost taxpayers an estimated $280 billion and presents a significant risk for the economy and the public, while doing little to solve America's energy problems, according to a new report by Environment America.

UK: Hard times bring barter back into vogue

Rising inflation, a credit squeeze, crumbling stock markets and a slowing economy with job losses looming have prompted an explosion of cyber markets where consumers can get what they want without spending any of their precious and dwindling cash.

Netherlands seeks steady oil supplies

DAMMAM – The Netherlands Minister of Economic Affairs, Maria van der Hoeven, currently visiting Saudi Arabia, said here Tuesday that Europe seeks the continuous import of oil from the Kingdom.

Addressing the Eastern Province Asharqia Chamber of Commerce and Industry here, Hoeven said Saudi Arabia was an important source of oil for her country and the rest of Europe. “Saudi Arabia is an important country for the imports of oil and gas now and in the future and thus for the supply certainty of fossil fuels in the Netherlands and in Europe,” she said. She underscored that the Netherlands is Europe’s hub for trade in crude oil and the petrochemical industry and plays a crucial role in the international trade of oil.

Pakistan: Power outages perturb industry

LAHORE: Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry has expressed concern over non-provision of electricity to the industrial sector despite withdrawal of subsidy and steep upward revision in tariff, saying severe shortage of power is giving a bad name to the government.

Driving Dinosaurs

This is a dinosaur of a car in 2008, knowing what we know about our energy future. I heard a presentation this week by the author Richard Heinberg (Peak Everything) and he said it was "a very real possibility" that the airline industry will be barely functioning in three years. Why? Because fossil fuels have peaked, and we don't have a real substitute for them.

But we're still fiddling while Rome burns, aren't we? And I'm part of the problem, choosing to drive that huge gas-guzzling Kia on my family trip just because it saves me money. It has a 4.6-liter, 375-horsepower V-8 engine under the hood, sourced from the Hyundai Genesis.

The News Blues

It was the “Peak Oil” theorists who warned of spiking oil prices and strains on the refinery system, only to be dismissed as amateur nerds and tinfoil-hat chiliasts—until $4-a-gallon gas and winter heating bills brought the new reality home. It was James Howard Kunstler, the author of The End of Suburbia and The Long Emergency, who warned with scourging wit and rococo imagery in his weekly online column that high gas prices, suburban sprawl, decaying infrastructure, the machinations of hedge-fund greedheads, and Wall Street necromancy were converging into a Hurricane Katrina–size “cluster****” that would deform the social and political landscape. In his August 25 column, Kunstler wrote, “I’m rather convinced that the carnage on the money scene will be so extreme this fall that the nation will seem to have been transformed from a superpower to a basketcase before November 4th, and that the blame for this state of affairs will be blindingly obvious: the people in charge for the past eight years looted the treasury, destroyed the currency, and left the machinery of capital a smoking wreckage.” Within a month, the carnage Kunstler envisioned not only got worse but gained velocity as mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae required an emergency federal bailout, fabled Merrill Lynch disappeared into the maw of Bank of America, Lehman Brothers went belly-up, A.I.G. was rescued, and the Dow lost 500 points in one day, the worst loss since 2001. Billions of dollars of bad loans devoured by boll weevils, thousands of well-paying jobs liquidated in a single stroke, stock portfolios turning into scarecrows before one’s eyes, and who knew what awaited over the next hill?

Brazil's offshore no challenge to Gulf oil producers

Some analysts now estimate the subsalt reserves of Brazil's deep offshore basins to total up to 80 billion barrels of oil. If proven reserves are correct and added to its current 14 billion barrels of proven reserves, Brazil would be launched into the league of top oil producers. Its reserves would be placed on par with the reserves of the oil majors of the Arabian Gulf region.

Are these discoveries the beginnings of a new North Sea province? Is Brazil likely to become a future market challenger to the Arabian Gulf oil producers? The answer is definitely no.

Angola sticks to budget plans despite weaker oil price

LUANDA (Reuters) - Angola's government on Wednesday said a drop in world oil prices would not derail its plans to spend billions to fight poverty and spur economic growth in the booming oil-rich African nation.

The ruling MPLA, which won a landslide in a parliamentary election last month, has pledged to spend $50 billion on housing for the poor and billions more on reconstruction of ports, railways and infrastructure damaged during a 27-year civil war.

Petrobras ADR Forecast Cut 38 Percent to $50 at Raymond James

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleo Brasileiro SA, the Brazilian state-controlled oil company, had its 2009 share-price forecast cut 38 percent at Raymond James & Associates, citing the prospect of lower crude prices.

``We cut our price target to reflect a revision of our crude price forecast for 2009 as well as lower earnings multiples than those when the stock peaked in May this year,'' Raymond James analyst Ricardo Cavanagh said in a telephone interview from Buenos Aires.

Gulf of Mexico Could Be in Serious Danger

After the last disastrous hurricane seasons, the federal government has begun taking steps towards determining the seriousness of the situation the United States will be facing over the next few decades. Global warming and climate change are believed to be the main "perpetrator" behind the intensified tornadoes and tropical storms that struck America these last two years. As repairs after the last storm are underway, teams of scientists are rushing into the Gulf of Mexico area, to collect data that might help prevent such disasters from reoccurring.

NY museum's climate change show dives into politics

NEW YORK (Reuters) - One of America's most renowned science museums dives into politics again this week with a new exhibition on climate change that curators say is an effort to separate fact from fear.

Three years after tackling the divisive issue of evolution in an exhibition on Charles Darwin, the American Museum of Natural History in New York is mounting a show called "Climate Change: The Threat to Life and A New Energy Future."

Australia's carbon scheme risky, say Japanese

THE federal Government's proposed carbon trading scheme is a greater risk to business than the global financial crisis.

This is the view of senior executives in charge of one of Japan's biggest offshore capital investments.

Climate Change Can Grind Down Plate Tectonics

Earth's changing climate has a spectacular ability to reface the planet. Shifting winds and ocean currents can turn rainforests to deserts and back again, while ice ages have covered whole continents in glaciers again and again through time.

Now, new evidence has emerged that, given enough time, climate change can even alter the course of plate tectonics.

Oil price run-up looks like just another bubble: In hindsight, analysts were 'suckered,' may have contributed to frenzy

COLUMBUS, Ohio - As oil prices zoomed toward an unheard of $147 a barrel this summer, it seemed every analyst prediction that oil would approach $200 was a self-fulfilling prophecy, until suddenly it was not.

Instead of $200 oil, oil is now $80. Instead of going up, U.S. demand has fallen at the steepest rate since the oil-shocked 1970s. Americans have dramatically cut down on driving over the past year.

Soaring prices for oil and other commodities this summer have turned out to be nothing short of another classic bubble, and the bursting may not be over, one analyst said Monday.

"It's just amazing that the market gets suckered into this," said analyst Stephen Schork of the Schork Report, who called the idea of $150 a barrel oil "an obscene number, a perverted, illogical number."

Oil Production Falling

I continue to hear people say that the financial crisis has postponed peak oil for years. I do not believe this to be true. What it has done is reduce the capital available for investment into oil. It reduced the ability of energy companies to raise money with their deflated stock and reduced the number of investors with cash to chase oil prices. With the proverbial bubble now deflated it will take some time for the excitement to rebuild. That could be a year or more. Every day that passes with decreased investment brings the peak oil date closer while any decline in demand pushes it farther away. As I pointed out in the Monday newsletter the IEA is still projecting demand growth in 2008 and 2009 even in a recession. That growth will just be a little slower. Meanwhile depletion never sleeps and always increases. The clock is working against those projecting a later date for peak oil.

Mideast grapples with oil price slump

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) — Vast, oil-fueled budget surpluses may cushion some of the Mideast's major oil-producing countries now that crude prices have plummeted. But Iran, Iraq and a handful of other nations face daunting challenges to make up the money in coming months because of the price drop and global financial crisis.

The differences are stark: developers in the United Arab Emirates — whose economy is more diversified — are still announcing multibillion-dollar building projects. But merchants in Iran went on strike the past few days over tax increases imposed to bolster the country's budget.

In Iraq, postwar rebuilding could be jeopardized if the vaunted oil-money budget surplus is smaller than expected; countries like Saudi Arabia may only need to trim more ambitious projects.

Oil Falls on Doubts Financial Rescue Plan Will Aid Fuel Demand

(Bloomberg) -- Oil fell below $77 a barrel on speculation a U.S. plan to invest $250 billion in banks will be insufficient to avoid recession and boost fuel demand.

``The world is in for a very torrid couple of years that are going to hit industrial demand and oil demand,'' said Peter Luxton, a London-based energy analyst at Informa Global Markets. ``The global bearish sentiment is dominating.''

Crude oil for November delivery fell as much as $2.58, or 3.3 percent, to $76.05 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It traded at $76.43 a barrel at 12:36 p.m. London time.

Prices, down 11.3 percent from a year ago, have dropped 47 percent from the record $147.27 a barrel on July 11.

Russian Stocks Tumble as Crude Falls, Investors Turn to Cash

(Bloomberg) -- Russian stocks dropped, led by OAO Rosneft and OAO Lukoil, as sinking oil prices hurt the outlook for the economy and investors sold shares to raise cash amid the country's worst financial crisis since 1998.

OPEC Cuts 2009 Crude Oil Demand Forecast for a Second Month

(Bloomberg) -- The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, supplier of more than 40 percent of the world's oil, lowered its 2009 demand forecast for a second month as the worst financial crisis since the 1930s threatens a global recession.

OPEC will hold an extraordinary meeting on Nov. 18 in Vienna, after its decision to trim excess supplies at last month's gathering failed to check a slump in prices, which have tumbled 49 percent from their July record. The group told members on Sept. 10 to strictly comply with production quotas, implying a cut of about 500,000 barrels a day.

``Dramatically worsening conditions in financial markets indicate strong fallout on the real economy is now inevitable,'' the report said. ``Ongoing financial market turmoil is expected to continue to impact oil demand well into the coming year.''

OPEC Is Likely to Cut Output 1 Million Barrels, PFC Energy Says

(Bloomberg) -- OPEC will probably announce a production cut of 1 million barrels a day at its November meeting, said PFC Energy, an industry consultant that correctly called the decision at the group's last summit.

Candidates disagree on oil companies' tax rate

ExxonMobil earned after-tax profits of $41 billion and paid $14.5 billion in worldwide income taxes in 2007 — the highest in corporate history in both categories. The world's largest oil company is on track to smash both records in 2008, despite a recent decline in oil prices.

Should it pay higher taxes?

Gas lines 'berserk' in Frederick

It's not a mirage.

The Costco gas price sign really reads "Unleaded -- $2.69."

The wholesaler's Monday holiday price was $2.92, dropping 23 cents in one day.

"Lines have been berserk," said Pete Barney, Costco assistant manager.

Kuwait Refinery Workers Threaten Strike Over Rights

(Bloomberg) -- Workers at Kuwait National Petroleum Co. are threatening to shut down the country's three refineries from Oct. 19 in a protest over equal rights.

Exxon Is Said to Shut Gasoline Unit at Fos Refinery for Repairs

(Bloomberg) -- Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest oil company, plans to shut a gasoline-making unit at the smaller of its two French refineries for repairs early next year, an official with knowledge of the work said.

Angola oil output dips to 1.6-1.7 million bpd

LUANDA (Reuters) - Angola's oil production has fallen to close to 1.6 million or 1.7 million barrels per day (bpd) from a high of around 2 million bpd earlier in 2008, Angola's oil minister said on Wednesday.

The drop resulted from an "accident" at the deepwater Block 18 field off the coast of the oil-rich Cabinda province, Oil Minister Jose Vasconcelos told journalists at the opening of the new parliament in Luanda.

Indonesia says S.Korea seeking LNG contract extension

JAKARTA (Reuters) - South Korea is looking to extend contracts to import liquefied natural gas from Indonesia beyond the current 2014 and 2017 terms, Indonesia's energy minister said on Wednesday.

Korea Gas Corp has a contract for two million tonnes a year that expires in 2014 and another for one million tonnes a year that ends in 2017.

Iraq underwater oil pipelines need urgent repair: FT

DUBAI - Vital Iraqi oil pipelines are in such dire condition they could burst at any time, which would disrupt regional supply, harm Iraq's economy and could cause an environmental disaster, the Financial Times newspaper reported.

The underwater pipelines that connect storage tanks near the southern Basra oil terminal to offshore tanker fuelling terminals need urgent replacement or repair, the newspaper said on Wednesday, citing a previously undisclosed notification to the US Congress.

‘The likelihood of a worst-case catastrophic failure, subsequent collapse of Iraqi crude oil export revenue resulting in a devastating drop in the Iraqi GDP, global economic market impacts and a possible ecological and environmental disaster should warrant concern,’ the document obtained by the FT said.

Mercedes Diesel SUV Makes Good Gas Mileage, No Smog, Happy Moms

(Bloomberg) -- ``Pee-yeew!'' my dad would call out the open window, ``You stink!'' This was a 1970s-era ritual played out every time we passed a rattletrap diesel-powered car trailing black haze on the highway. Not kind, maybe, but true. Those suckers stunk up the place.

Though I'm hardly the only American who has negative associations, diesel fuel has seen a major resurgence in Europe, the result of ultra-low-sulfur diesel and engines designed to negate emissions. The benefits are as much as 30 percent better fuel economy and 20 percent to 30 percent less carbon dioxide emissions.

Food Security - an issue for the UK too

For its annual World Food Day (Thurs 16 Oct), the UN Food & Agriculture Organisation (FA0) rightly focuses on the 923 million people suffering from malnutrition in the South - highlighting climate change as the key factor threatening their long-term food security. In the short-term, rising oil prices have led to increasing food costs and scarcities, provoking riots in over a dozen countries from Burkina Faso, Haiti, to Mexico. The diversion of land for biofuel crops has also been a factor - with the world’s largest grain producer and exporter, the US, diverting nearly 20% of its harvest to feed cars, rather than people.

George Soros on the Clean-Energy Economy

Last Friday, in an interview with Bill Moyers on PBS, George Soros, who has made billions of dollars based on his ability to read the ebb and flow of markets, suggested that investing in alternative energy technologies, refurbishing aging electricity grids and pursuing household energy efficiency, among other green strategies, could yet save the global economy.

Mr. Soros, whose prescient book “The New Paradigm for Financial Markets: The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What It Means,” was published in May, told Moyers that the business of green could serve as the new “motor of the world economy” — echoing a refrain he has used before.

Political Momentum Grows For US National Transmission Grid

WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- Momentum is growing in Washington for a federal high- voltage power grid to spark growth of U.S. renewable energy supplies and decrease the country's dependence on energy imports.

Lobbyists and regulators are urging lawmakers to create a national high voltage transmission system that they say would allow renewable projects such as wind and solar farms to flourish.

A growing appetite in Congress to constrain carbon dioxide emissions and a desire tap the nation's domestic energy sources to reduce dependence on energy imports will likely give a political boost to a federally-mandated national grid.

Although the country has substantial wind and solar potential, much of the generation capacity is located hundreds of miles from the demand centers. A corridor along the Rocky Mountains from North Dakota into the Texas panhandle, for example, could provide nearly a fifth of the U.S.'s power needs, but the largest consumers are located on the East and West coasts. The highest solar potential is in Southwestern states that have comparatively smaller populations.

"We have a chicken and egg problem," said George Pataki, former New York state Republican Governor. "Developers won't build a solar system because there isn't any transmission capacity to move it and utilities won't build the needed transmission because there isn't any generation," he said. Pataki and his consulting firm, the Pataki-Cahill Group, are pushing for Congress to establish federal siting authority that would overcome one of the major challenges to current transmission infrastructure: permitting.

Build wind farms near land to cut costs, UK study finds

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will fall woefully short of its own renewable energy targets unless the government allows wind farms to be built closer to shore, the Carbon Trust said in a report on Tuesday.

Only a quarter of the wind power capacity Britain needs to meet its target of getting 15 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2020 will be built unless controls on offshore turbines are relaxed to cut costs.

With Little Fuel, Eco-Racers Arrive in Las Vegas

Las Vegas — In a city accustomed to the catering to the strange and offbeat, the arrival Monday evening of Jack McCornack and Sharon Westcott in a topless, two-foot-tall green and yellow roadster at the front door of the storied Sahara Hotel-Casino still turned heads.

Gawkers couldn’t have known that Mr. McCornack and Ms. Westcott had just driven the vehicle more than 800 miles over three days from Berkeley, Calif., but many nonetheless noticed the plastic tank of vegetable oil — a.k.a. fuel — affixed to the back.

More Flexible Method Floated To Produce Biofuels, Electricity

ScienceDaily — Researchers are proposing a new "flexible" approach to producing alternative fuels, hydrogen and electricity from municipal solid wastes, agricultural wastes, forest residues and sewage sludge that could supply up to 20 percent of transportation fuels in the United States annually.

Thinking Anew About a Migratory Barrier: Roads

In recent years scientists have come to understand the marked changes brought by the roads that crisscross the landscape.

Some experts believe that habitat fragmentation, the slicing and dicing of large landscapes into small pieces with roads, homes and other development, is the biggest of all environmental problems. “By far,” said Dr. Michael Soulé, a retired biologist and founder of the Society for Conservation Biology. “It’s bigger than climate change. While the serious effects from climate change are 30 years away, there’s nothing left to save then if we don’t deal with fragmentation. And the spearhead of fragmentation are roads.”

Don't let crisis push climate off agenda: Barroso

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The head of the European Commission appealed to EU leaders on Tuesday not to sacrifice the fight against climate change to the urgent economic problems thrown up by the global financial crisis.

Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the credit crunch was no reason to go back on ambitious EU plans to combat global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, cutting energy consumption and promoting alternative energy sources.

"This is not a luxury we now have to forego. Saving the planet is not an after-dinner drink, a 'digestif' that you take or leave. Climate change does not disappear because of the financial crisis," Barroso told a news conference.

Rising Temperatures May Dry Up Peat Bogs, Causing Carbon Release

It’s increasingly clear that the effects of climate change will be felt — or are already being felt — in all corners of the globe, in all kinds of ecosystems.

Even, it appears, in peat bogs. A study in Nature Geoscience suggests that northern bogs may lose a significant portion of their peat as global temperatures rise. Organic matter in the peat will decompose, releasing carbon into the atmosphere.

I think most Americans don't realize how rapidly food security is about to crash onto the national stage for us too. World Food Day sounds like it belongs to far away starving people - but already the safety nets are crashing. One of my local food pantries has dropped back two days a week of distribution because there isn't enough food here - and we're right in the middle of harvest season. Meanwhile, demand has grown and grown and grown. With just over 1 in 10 Americans requiring food stamps, food stamps now operate as a basic subsidy in a nation where people can't afford to eat, pay for housing nad meet other needs.

The crash of oil prices has not been followed by a crash in food prices - unsurprisingly. It is worth remembering just how close we are to a food crisis here - and how many Americans are already having one.


Sharon: I would very strongly advise communities everywhere to copy what my town has done. At our community garden, half of the plots are dedicated to food bank production. Students from a local college provide most of the volunteer labor to plant and tend them. This is not a full solution, but a very good first step.

I've actually never been to a community garden that didn't have a substantial portion of its plots devoted to local food banks, as well as plots in which low income households were enabled to grow their own. I agree with you that this helps, but we also need more community gardens, more gardens in general, better agricultural policies (right now, regional food banks are dependent on industrial agriculture and offer them tacit support, for fear that people will go hungry - setting agricultural activists and anti-poverty activists against each other on the subject of things like the farm bill, which is disastrous - we need not only more food for the poor, but better food policy so that there are fewer poor), more food and housing security (there is no incentive to plant gardens and fruit trees in houses you will be evicted from shortly) and a host of other major shifts. I know you know this, but it is worth re-articulating.

Food has got to get on the front burner, ahead of most other things. Because there are plenty of good mitigation strategies out there for transportation and a host of other things. But the only answer to the coming food crisis is radical transformation.


You are absolutely right in my opinion. There is a problem, however, and that is that many of the people in need of food do not have the slightest idea of what to do with fresh produce.

Two generations of super-market food, agri-business, advertising, packaging, pre-prepared freezer food and a food stamp program that promotes all this (instead of the old commodities programs) -- plus, I imagine, growing homelessness which deprives people of cooking facilities has set the stage for a real disaster in the "developed" world.

NeverLNG, I agree with you. This is one of the reasons I argue that cooking the food may be more important than growing it - that is, we manifestly have a nation in which people go hungry because they can't cook cheap basic staples. Shifting diets radically and rapidly is going to be a huge social project - and it has to be undertaken, because hunger is already here and rising *FAST*.

Think about what icelanders will have to do if they are to eat the food they can produce locally, and perhaps what basics they can import. Cooking is one of those small things I mentioned in comments yesterday - and it is huge. The hand that stirs the pot, shapes the world.


"This is one of the reasons I argue that cooking the food may be more important than growing it..."

Great point and this is where I am now putting my focus as it also addresses processing and preserving, a HUGE issue.

I am putting together a cook book of sorts called "The adventures of SOUPERMAN - or How to cook anything."

I encourage making intense soups, stews, sauces then put them up.

I can't tell you how many people have told me they never liked eggplant until they had my Ratatouille.

Hey Souperman,
Maybe you could put up a few web pages to sample? I love soup, but have to confess that it doesn't usually turn out when I start from scratch.

The CSA farm in my area has programs to teach people how to cook the vegetables they grow.

Yeah, it's kind of a lifestyle change, learning to plan meals ahead of time. I didn't have a clue when I picked up my first CSA box. Fortunately my Grandpa, who grew up in the depression, was able to help me out. I think a local depression era recipe book would be an excellent find.

While "traveling" we got a lot of boxes of mac n cheese from food banks. We had a little propane burner and we ate off frisbees in the park, then threw the frisbees. Those were good times. The other day I picked up a pre-packaged donation bag at the supermarket and guess what was in it, mac n cheese.

Akin to cooking and perhaps more important, is preservation. I mentioned a garden I grew this year in an earlier post -- since that post I've had additional harvest but I also purchased a nice rear-tine tiller off Craigslist for $350 so my net for this year is -$172.51, or +$621.89 if I depreciate my hard goods over 5 years at a simple rate of 20%/year.

These figures are a little misleading however, in that they represent what I produced rather than what I consumed. I planted too much summer-squash/zucchini ("soft squash" hereafter), and although I love this kind of veggie, the 55.454 kg was too much for me to deal with. I ate a pound a day for a month -- but gave away the lion's share. In the absence of significant cold storage, I just couldn't manage this volume.

In contrast, winter squash (65.978 kg), requires nothing but an unheated room (no canning, drying, freezing, or refrigerating) and as such, represents a much better investment despite its lower per unit value, e.g., the value of my soft squash was $140.15 while the value of the winter squash, despite greater production, was only $109.02.

Let me get a point here. Aside from losing knowledge about how to cook, knowing what to grow is also very important and I made some mistakes in my garden. Certain vegetables preserve well and produce a lot of food: winter squash for instance, but are rather cheap (lower profit). Other veggies such as snow peas have a high value (my 6107 g were worth $80.48), but are impossible to preserve in a low energy fashion (freezing is the only option and I'm not interested in that).

I think one of the factors working against effective local farming, is that the price of those vegetables which can be stored without resorting to massive energy usage (cold storage), are also the cheapest in the market. In my garden, about 1/6 of the space was devoted to winter squash, and 1/30th devoted to snow peas. I'll enjoy the winter squash for a few months now while the snow peas were a transient (but delightful) experience. Still, the snow peas were really good "money" makers.

It seems to me that in order to succeed in our current market situation, that a market garden would need to focus on high value produce -- most of which is hard to store without high energy usage. A different way to think about this, is that with our current pricing structure for vegetables, a market garden designed to provide luxury items might work, but one growing staples is likely to be a poor investment. Sadly, it is the production of staples that would make a real difference.

Maybe that explains why no one in praetzel's community garden wants to grow vegetables that can be stored.

I think most vegetables that are poor keepers, summer squash included, are fine candidates for dehydration. A car parked in the summer sun is a very effective solar dehydrator, IME.

All the squashes, especially zucchini, make fantastic marmalade (basically ad lemon, pectin, and sugar along with whatever seasonings like cinnamon that you like). It keeps forever if you do your canning right, and makes for good unusual gifts.

I've been dehydrating lots of veggies, and I tried dried zucchini -- it wasn't very good in dry form (sweet in an odd way) and I didn't like it rehydrated. There are some things that are really hard to preserve well.

As for marmalade --- what would I do with 100 lbs of it? I think a better idea is to cut way back on the number of soft squash plants for next year.

Grate the extra zucs, and freeze if you have space.. makes a great soup or stew thickener.

When I plan my garden for the next year (as I am starting to do today, as it happens), the first thing I do is to list all the crops that I know I can grow, plus maybe a few experiments, and my expected yields per square foot for each. Getting good yield data is difficult, but there are several cooperative extension websites online that have some data; with experience you can substitute your own data.

Next, I try to figure out how much of each crop we can use for the year. I break this down between what we will be consuming fresh per week on average for however many weeks we can stretch the season (and season extension is a VERY important issue - see Coleman's Four Season Harvest for ideas), and how much we will be consuming from storage each week on average for the rest of the year. I also make notes on my storage strategy for each crop. From the fresh and stored figures I determine the total amount that I need to grow for the year. Dividing by the yield per square foot determines how much garden space I need for each crop - as a first approximation, anyway. It gets more complicated for that for some crops. For example, for some vegetables like lettuce you should be able to grow two crops in the same space in succession, which halves the amount of space needed. For some crops you need to allow extra in case of poor germination, losses to pests or drought, etc. If you grow some crops in containers (as I do), then you need to come up with some sort of square footage figure for the containers.

Some of us don't have enough space to grow 100% of what we need. Thus, if you add up your required square footage and it is way more than what you have, then you are going to have to cut back and prioritize. As a general rule, my first priority is to cover as much as possible of my fresh vegetable needs in season, if the vegetables are not too difficult to grow and I'll be growing enough of them to make it worth my while. As for storage, things that are easy to store, or that will be difficult or expensive to get during the winter, are my next priorities. The relative dollar values of the crops are a consideration as well.

Once you have identified what you are going to grow and how many square feet to devote to each crop, then you can proceed to actually plan out your garden.

This is a lot of complicated work, but is the only way I know to avoid the "feast or famine" syndrome that is so typical amongst so many gardeners.

'the "feast or famine" syndrome'
I have found that the only way to have enough is to go for more than enough. Being a gardener rather than a farmer I feel free to give away or barter (informally) with the surplus.
"The price of good food is too high to buy it and too low to sell it." Store that comment with your other economic paradoxes.
Plant zucchinis in the shade, only thing I know that keeps them down to reasonable production levels.

That is in fact how horticultural societies (societies that don't grow crops like grain, that can be stored) do it. They share any surplus with friends and family, and trust that friends and family will share with them.

When you cannot store food, you bank your neighbors' good will instead.

To give an idea. In the community garden which my wife and I run:
2/3 of the people are transient - often Chinese grandparents who are visiting for most of a year to help their kids with new babies. Language problems are a real issue. How can you enforce garden rules when you can't communicate?
Just to be different, other community gardens in town have waiting lists.
Theft is an issue. At least yearly we have people who stop by and just start picking things. After all it's a "community" garden and that means that you can help yourself right?
A small fraction is always well meaning, but never ending talkers, who plant very little and are forever asking for advice about everything.
Another fraction is always taking whatever they can - using the walkways, stretching their garden every way possible.
We've tried to set odd plots and unused space for the Food Bank - but people who are assigned to weed and water it do nothing. Trying to deal with the Food Bank is another issue. Fresh Food!?? What's that? You try to drop it off, but the place is close; they're only open wierd hours or don't know how to handle food that isn't in a cardboard box. It makes us wonder if it's ever used.

Many couples new to the country come and plant gardens - bringing varieties (and pests) which we've never seen. Very few gardeners are WASP's as it were. This is also true of big parks in town - English is a rarely heard language on weekends when the rich white folk escape to where ever it is they go with their kids.
Rarely do people in our garden plant crops that can be stored. This year the Chinese went beserk with the tallest sunflowers I've ever seen. Now we've got stocks from hell that don't compost ....
Of course we can't have composters (pile or box) because they get stuffed full quickly of weeds and plastic bags of dog droppings and refuse.
I'm the only one who planted potatoes and carrots and few planted onions and only 3 plots planted corn. The coons got the corn (my "indian" corn was attacked last and I was forced to pick it before maturity). Rutabaga doesn't seem to mind the hard soil and loved our Square Food Garden.

The soil is clay crap and we're bringing in (at personal expense) a 22 yd truck of mushroom compost. My spidey senses are tingling - I'm going to have to distribute it and work it into the soil in all garden plots. People will buy bags of weed seed infested "black earth" bags, but trying to get a group (transient) to pay for a truckload of compost is nigh on impossible for us. For the curious that compost is around $5/ton and delivery is about 2/3 of the cost (22yds is around 20 tons). It's dirt cheap compared to any other compost or soil ammendments.

My expectation is that these gardens will be pillaged if times get tough. There is nobody there watching over them.

I expect that food growing will move closer to home ASAP when things get worse - taking over the front yard, sidewalks ... Seed saving will become the issue. I'm working on that with potatoes this year as spring supplies go in just a few days.

If I was buying another house I'd buy backing onto a park and extend the garden into the park (I've seen that many times - and the city will do nothing about it - even if they fence off the garden) or onto power lines (we have a CSA which has about 2 acres under cultivation - all in the powerline right of way).

Thanks for your post from the frontlines.

Your problems seem to mirror those of society.

Sorry to hear of your bad experiences. This points out that you can't just plop down a community garden anywhere and automatically expect success. We have a much better setup in my town.

-First, it is a small town and not a city. US cities come with horrible social pathologies these days, and living in them presents one with constant challenges & difficulties in so many different ways. I really don't have a good answer for that. Life is just a lot easier in small towns; we have our problems, but like our towns they are smaller in scale and thus more manageable.

- We actually have a couple of people "in charge" that are there on an almost daily basis, and there are frequently college kids working on the plots during the week. We are also located in an out-of-the-way location that most people have to go to some trouble to get to, so we don't really have the problem of people just happening by and deciding to help themselves.

- Our relationship with the food bank is formalized, not haphazard. Actually, we don't deliver food to them. Rather, their clients are given vouchers which entitles them to come to the community garden and to harvest from the plots dedicated to the food bank. There is usually some supervision there when this is going on. I would like to think there is a little bit of dignity built in there when they have to make the minimal effort of at least picking the produce, rather than having it just handed to them.

- We've got some pretty extensive composting operations. There have been some problems with the wrong stuff dumped into them, but proper signage is keeping that pretty much under control. We are fortunate in being located immediately adjacent to our local riding stables, so we get all the free horse manure that we want. The gardens are located on flood plain parkland, so the soil is pretty good. Being located next to a river (smallish, we're very close to the headwaters), we've also rigged up a pump and distribution system, and have a number of storage tanks located around the site. Thus, we also have free irrigation water.

It really is an ideal setup. I wish everyone had access to such a good arrangement.

That's true. Food pantries are really hurting, with increasing demand and falling donations. Last year, there was an article in the Boston Globe, about children who were malnourished in winter because their parents could not afford both food and heat.

But...we waste so much food. Studies in the UK show a heck of a lot of perfectly good food is thrown away, and I suspect the numbers are as bad or worse in the US.

Yes, one reason for declining donations to food pantries is an economy that encourages grocery stores to keep leaner inventories and to sell unsold goods to dollar stores and such. But another is a recent lawsuit, that claimed donated food caused people to get sick from eating it.

Stores can't sell or give away food that's past its sell-by date, even if it's perfectly good. They throw it away, and often pour bleach over it in the dumpster, so people can't eat it. Look in the bin behind a grocery store or restaurant - the food waste is incredible.

Leanan-- do you have a link for lawsuits such as you mentioned? Or is that just urban folklore?

I suspect that most of the food destruction by supermarkets is done more to keep prices up than to protect against lawsuits -- but I could be wrong

I looked it up once, and there was a lawsuit. IIRC, it was Safeway that was the store in question. If you're really dying to know, I'll try to find it again.

The bleach, I suspect, is simply because they don't want to attract homeless people. (And to be fair, foragers often do leave a big mess after rooting around in the dumpster.)

No, I'm not dying to know -- the world is bizarre enough as it is without knowing that the threat of lawsuits prevents distribution of left-over food. Clearly, we are also at Peak Liability.

On the other hand, I always try to accurately source anything I might pass on. There is a lot of urban folklore out there -- such as, that the poor are responsible for the mortgage meltdown because they should have known better than to sign those mortgages. Now we are to believe that litigious poor people are responsible for their own hunger?

I don't have a link NLNG but I do have friends who work at Walmart who have verified the liability issue. The folks who would dumpster dive for food in their bins wouldn't being buying inside any way for the most parts. They have actually been having meetings about locking the dumpsters. The legal reasons parallel the reasons for security fences around private pools. The common legal term is "an attractive nuisence". In other words, if Walmart throws away food items that would be desired by others, Walmart is responsible for any injury occuring by retrieving those items as well as consuming them.

It's really bizarre to imagine guards watching over dumpsters just so the lawyers have plausable deniability in future legal actions.

I doubt that any of the "divers" would actually file a lawsuit in case of injury-- for a whole lot of reasons. I can imagine an ambulance-chasing lawyer filing a lawsuit "on behalf" of divers, however.

I have briefly checked Google. Most of the "diving" lawsuits seem to be about theft of privileged information or theft of intellectual property, not injuries to hungry people looking for food.

"I doubt that any of the "divers" would actually file a lawsuit in case of injury-- for a whole lot of reasons."

I, too, am suspicious of the "fear of lawsuits" reason for preventing dumpster diving for food. Dumpster divers and "freecyclers" have evolved their own culture and mores for diving, such as leaving good finds you don't want on top for someone else, not creating a mess, etc. It's in their self-interest to avoid creating problems that would motivate grocery stores to lock dumpsters, pour bleach over food, etc.


I once had a job in the warehouse of a supermarket chain. The waste food was kept secure until the disposal van arrived. I was told this was because they would be held liable if anybody ate the food and got ill.

I can't find the link, but after WWII the Italian refugees would crowd the allied soldiers' dumpsites to pick at the food scraps. Soldiers would deliberately leave food on their trays to help them, but this incensed the brass, who ordered that the food waste be bulldozed into the dirt. The lasting image of the soldier who wrote the account was of a crying child being pulled out of the dump by MP's, clutching a dirt-covered crust of bread.

The difference between the truly rich and the rest of us is that the rich are willing to sacrifice their children for the sake of increasing wealth.

Maybe more like the truly rich will sacrifice your children to increase their wealth.

Well, they're sophisticated enough to have a Plan A and a Plan B.

What I have noticed more recently is more and more of what we once termed 'hobos' out on the roads and highways.

I suspect this is the underbelly of our countries misfits and those who just can't make it anymore. I see them sometimes lugging a plastic milk jug of water and a few small items on their backs.

More of them standing by the edge of the interstate with a cardboard sign.

I used to pick up hitchhikers long ago. I even hitched myself while in the Navy. Once all the way from LA to St. Louis..a long long trip. Got picked up by two gypsy women but thats another story. Back then one could almost trust hitchhikers. Now? No a chance.

I also see more younger people who have almost nothing working as farm hands on a temporary basis. They come by the farm shop , one guy walked there, and ask for jobs. The pay is really just enough to get by on. There are very few cushy jobs that pay decent out here in the outback-flyover. Poor guy got his clothes are greasy and black the very first day and yet wore the same dirty clothes all the rest of the week.

You want to see folks just getting by? Its those who didn't do well in school,lost construction jobs elsewhere,have no real skills, and are right on the very edge of going under.

High food prices? Not because of worker pay out here. IMO the food industry has gouged us unmercifully and continues to try to blame it on crop commodity costs.

Hey we are looking at 4 dollar corn out here. Not too far from the breakeven point.

I have given up the modest amount of time I used to spend helping farmers with their electronics and comm gear. The pay wasn't worth it. I now do it only for a favor returned when one is given. My time is too precious to spend for the payback in almost worthless currency.

The cost of living has increased rapidly yet farm hands have never seen their wages increase, or very little if any. We are talking $7 - $8 per hour. Basically I suppose what a burger flipper earns.

This country has been screwed into the ground by the wall street types who are now being bailed out with hardworking taxpayers money.

It sickens me to think of the ego and greed that has spawned in this nation. Who taught these ugly values to our younger generations?
I remember the 60's where our young people dreamed of 'living on the land'. I still have all those Mother Earth News magazines to tell me how once the young folks had real dreams. Now most perhaps dream of a crack pipe and a good line of coke. A trip to the casinos later. Some porno of a lazy afternoon on the net via YouTube or whatever else passes for excitement out in Drugville,USA ,which is now twisting in the wind and going over the hump for perhaps good.

A grassroots revolution was how I remember the mantra about the Internet. What then has it become but a merchandisers paradise?
A spammers delight. Phishers dreams of ripoffs. Pharmers run wild.
Netbot controllers wage battles. Indenity thiefs working the DNS servers to send you to makebelieve banking sites. (Poisoned Cache hack)..


Pretty much agree, Airdale. However, I would beware excessive romanticism about the past.

A lot of the people I followed, and who followed me, "back to the land" were funded by family trusts and food stamps. They were gone when the money dried up, or when they got bored -- or when they finally landed a lucrative job in an investment bank.

I very much take umbrage to your characterization of the homeless as "the underbelly of our countries misfits." This sounds like something Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity or Bill O'Reilly would say.

With the current economic downturn there will be many more unfortunate souls who join the ranks of the homeless. And the social safety net in the United States has all but been dismantled.

I lived in downtown San Antonio some years back and the many homeless living on the streets became a "problem" because downtown SA is also a tourist destination. The city fathers began a program to systematically remove them. This caused a huge uproar from many of San Antonio's more compasionate citizenry. A huge public debate ensued and the end result was the city fathers ended up with egg all over their faces.

One of the things that came out then was that many of the homeless are not "misfits" or "the underbelly" but persons with mental or emotional problems. Under the "starve the beast" philosophy that has dominated our country's political scene for the past 35 years funding for mental institutions has been slashed, and many people who once had a place to live are now put out on the streets. Granted, this is just one facet of a very complex problem, but my point is that many of these homeless people are not on the street because they are "misfits" or refuse to work. Many, if not most, are unfortunate people with problems not of thier own making.

... and lest we forget:

More than 25 percent of the homeless population in the United States are military veterans...


One of the principal mentors in my life, who was a petroleum engineer and a great oil man from the old school, told me the following story:

His father, who was a driller and therefore not one of the first to get laid off when the Great Depression struck, would frequently comment upon seeing healthy, grown men idling on street corners: "Why don't they get a job?"

And then his father lost his job. Only then did his father understand why they didn't "get a job".

That reminds me of what Dmitry Orlov says, "our american/capitalist culture robs poor people of their dignity."

I suspect we are all much closer to destitution than we realize sometimes - expecially during times like these.

My mother, who's 91 years old and will turn 92 the end of this month, always told me that 99% of Americans (including ourselves) were just two paychecks away from homelessness.

Having almost starved to death during the Great Depression, she always taught humility. She believed she was put on this earth to serve.

Her's was a great generation.

A story from Zimbabwe...

A man, dressed in a suit, sits in a large skip as rubbish-bins are emptied in around him. He sifts through the "fresh" supply, finds something he "likes", puts it in his mouth and eats.

There are other stories, of course. And they are all very sad.

Regards, Matt B

Yes. It's very easy to see negative things in the people at the bottom, many of these things quite real. And there are going to plenty of negative things in the next wave of people who join those at the bottom. And the next.

It's only when you and I fall to the bottom that we will have the truly flawless there. :)

I think you misconstrue the word ,misfits.
To me it means those who can't or won't play the yuppie game(for this age/generation).
Some have been released from mental institution's for the simple reason that they 'march to the tune of a different drummer'.

Remember the movie "One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest"?

Back when I lived in Woodstock,NY(during the time of the festival) lots of hippies hitched rides. I always obliged.

NOW you might be picking up a guy who keeps body parts in his icebox.
Or someone lost on drugs and has bad communicable diseases.

Sorry for your sensitivity. Don't think we can afford it any longer the way things are going. It will soon be 'root hog or die' and then how will one classify those who come tramping down your lane? Those who wish to kill,rob and steal? Or someone looking for a handout?
No way to judge...not with the population and our culture of
'take all you can get, give nothing back'....(compliments of Johnny Depp and the Pirate flicks).

For me trying to live on what I personally grow and not asking for handouts ..will look with a very discerning eye those who would approach.

Airdale-"would you rather die with your boots on,or begging on your knees?"
(read that on some blog--but it made sorta sense..in a extreme doomerish manner

Some have been released from mental institution's

In the early eighties I lived in Central Louisiana. Pineville was the location of the state mental hospital. When the Reaganites gutted social programs, that had previously aided states providing mental health services, Louisiana (a poor state to begin with) closed down most of the hospital and most of the patients were evicted. Rather than putting them back on the street (where most of them had come from in the first place) officials in Louisiana instead bought them one way bus tickets to various cities in California.

California, now faced with intractable budget shortfalls, will have little room for social safety nets either. Ahnold, the Govenator, is trying to figure out how to sell bonds on future profits from lottery events to cover present shortfalls.

I vote in Nevada and this year there is a proposition to raise the sales tax to 9% 10% or 11% (depending on where you live). The government (already mandating across the board budget cuts of 30%)is reeling from lost gaming revenues. Las Vegas already has zero mental health and social services so where are they going to cut? The Potemkin Village is creaking under the pressure of "keeping up appearances".

Maybe it was to some extent Reagan, but the basic impetus behind the closure of the assylums was premised on liberating people who were not a threat for violence and was motivating by well meaning left wingers. Not a bad sentiment, but it has a considerable and continuing downside.

The liberals wanted to replace the asylums with half-way homes and assisted living. But the conservatives wanted to save money by closing the asylums and not redirect the spending elsewhere.

There is an assisted living home for about 11 mentally ill people two blocks down the street from me (1100 block of St. Andrew). Proud that my neighborhood accepts them :-)


Hi Alan. No argument from me that halfway houses are a better and more humane approach in many cases ... or that we would be better off as a society if that approach was more generally available.

However, the point remains that you can't keep someone in a halfway house for the mentally ill that is not a threat and does not want to be there.

The scads of Schitzophrenic and other patients who were put out onto the streets in the 1980s were not being liberated from a prison, they were non-swimmers who were dropped into the pool, and weren't even watched long enough to SEE if they'd float. It was tough love.. without the love.

"It was tough love.. without the love."

trickle down love ?

Sorry for your sensitivity. Don't think we can afford it any longer the way things are going. It will soon be 'root hog or die'...

Your prediction of what the future holds speaks volumes about your world view. I deduce from your comments today and yesterday that you are very much a believer in "rugged individualism," the "imperial self" and what Jacob S. Hacker in The Great Risk Shift calls the "personal responsibility crusade."

Don't be surprised, however, if the nation does indeed fall upon extreme times, that things don't turn out quite like you prognosticate.

In fact, when the Great Depression struck, the mood of the country turned in just the opposite direction. Frederick Lewis Allen, in talking of the many affected by the depression, asked:

...and to the men and women of all stations in life who had believed that if you were virtuous and industrious you would of course be rewarded with plenty--and who now were driven to the wall. On what could they now rely? In what could they now believe?

Frederick Lewis Allen, Since Yesterday

What they ended up believing is what he called the "religion of social consciousness":

What animated these men and women was the secular religion of social conciousness... Deeply moved by the Depression and the suffering it had caused; convinced that the economic and social system of the country had been broken beyond repair, that those who had held their chief economic power before 1929 had been proved derelict and unworthy, and that action was desperately needed to set things right...

The world you envision, however, sounds much more like this one:

The interregnum was the worst of times for the imaginative, the cerebral, and the unfortunate, but the stong, the healthy, the shrewd, the handsome, the beautiful--and the lucky--flourished...

Any nonconformity, any weakness, was despised; the handicapped were given not compassion, but terror and pain, as prescribed in Malleus maleficarum (The Witches Hammer),...

These victims were helpless and oppressed, but no one was really safe. In 1500 the eminent Alfonso of Aragon, son-in-law of a pope, was slain by his wife's brother; seven years later Alfonso's killer, who had become brother-in-law of the king of Navarre, was himself murdered by assassins in the employ of the Count of Lerin. Intrigue thickened in every princely court, liquidation of enemies was tolerated among all social classes...

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

The trick is discerning whether someone is resigned to the idea that we will go Medieval, not 1930s, or whether he is excitedly anticipating it.

Note that no one ever joined the Society for Creative Anachronism in order to play a serf.

Excellent point, super390.

I really hope you're right, but...

FBI: Justifiable homicides at highest in more than a decade

The number of justifiable homicides committed by police and private citizens has been rising in the past two years to their highest levels in more than a decade, reflecting a shoot-first philosophy in dealing with crime, say law enforcement analysts.

PostPeak, we, the taxpayers, cannot afford to spend millions like we did on the OJ Simpson and Scott Petersen murder trials.

The real problem is the increase in crime, I would say, rather than an increase in self-defense.

Here the police don't even respond or investigate crimes without assault -- no money, no officers, they say. Until a crime spree becomes newsworthy little effort is put into it. If you want to keep your stuff safe, you'll increasingly have to do it yourself as the police budgets get smaller and the crime levels rise.

All was not sweetness & light in the 30s. Attacks on "hobo camps" were commonplace. Some of them were quite violent. Many towns had signs that read, "If you're unemployed, keep moving. We can't take care of our own." I think what happened in the depression was that most people became more generous towards whatever they viewed as their "community" and much more ruthless towards outsiders.

Yes, but lots of people from those times have stories of people frequently showing up at the back door asking for food. Most people were good hearted enough to give them what they could. The thing is, helping ONE person is not that much of a burden, but helping LARGE NUMBERS of them is something else. It was when groups of dozens or more of unemployed started coming to towns every day that those signs started going up.

Down South,

I don't think you have a clue as to what my mindset is or what type of world I might 'envison'.
And I never did get into the Political Correctedness thing.

I post here what I observe in my world. Here in the flyover of Kentucky in a very rural area where I was born and raised. You can call it misguided or lies or whatever.

I was alive when the depression had devastated this country. I remember being slapped silly for not eating a whole slice of bread but discarding a portion of that slice. I remember hard times. I remember WWII.

I am not bragging.I was there.I lived it.You don't need to be telling me anything or assuming whatver you like. My brother and I had to beg for food or steal it during one sojourn in the bowels of St.Louis down in the seedy run down section of Chouteau Ave. All the while my mother was drinking and screwing and starving us to death.All the time my father and his 5 brothers were fighting for their lives overseas serving this country.

It was a relief to return to the farm.I vowed to never live in the filth and degradation of city life again.


You made it through - and you prospered. Not only in the material sense - but you've learned a lot and have a lot to share.

I eagerly read your posts - I value your insight. What you have built/are building is what I want to create for my family. I also follow Sharon's posts avidly.

I only hope I can maintain the dogged determinism required to push my vision forward.

Regards from a fellow doomer


Thanks Alakazaam,

Yes I did learn a lot. Here is how.

WIth all the able bodied men gone to war(WWII) all that were left were the ''oldtimers'. My grandpa mostly but others who I lived with as my brother and I were passed around a bit from time to time.

These 'oldtimers' became my role models. They were the salt of the earth. There 'word' was quite literally their 'bond'. If they said they would do something...then they actually did it. They never lied or played gamesmanship.

So I grew up in their molds.

I learned a lot from watching them. I never forgot those lessons.
I live that way myself,,as much as I possibly can.

Now I live alone. Wife refuses to live on the farm. Children prefer the 'burbs or a condo. Just me and my Jack Russells here.

I haven't a lot longer to live on this earth. Just survived kidney cancer and clean but I hold everyday I have to be worthy and I try to do the right thing ifn I can. Sometimes failing.

Its sounds trite but it gets me thru.That and kneeling in the good rich dirt of my garden or walking my woods.

Airdale-singing that old man's praises and the granmama who stood resolute by his side and never ever once bad-mouthed him...who cared for us when everyone else was too busy to care..and I minded that they had already raised 14 children on that 100 acre farm..

PS.People like that are not being made anymore these days I fear.

Airdale My father grew up in the Ozarks, the Missouri-Arkansas border, before the Depression. From his stories, it was just as rough in the preceding times. Mother dead shortly after his birth, no paying work, hauling firewood with goats because it was the only livestock most folks could afford. I visited that country long time ago, but recall it was beautiful, Merrimac? Springs esp. Huge freshwater spring, clear as a bell.

Hello Doug Fir,

Your Quote:"..hauling firewood with goats because it was the only livestock most folks could afford."

Compare with my earlier Zimbabwe photo of the worker moving 100+ pounds of firewood balanced on his head! Hopefully we 'Murkans are smart enough not to fall all the way back to TopTODer's HO keypost on the Nuahtl Tlameme transport scheme-->SpiderWebRiding anyone?

Hello, anybody there from Govt & Industry? Hello?!?...

Dallas did something similar, some years back, just before a big national political convention (don't recall which party now). Gotta make sure the city is "attractive" to all those folks from out of town, you know.

New Orleans opened the Riverfront Streetcar Line for the 1988 Republican Convention. I know one of the guys that worked 26 hours straight to make it happen on time.

A "poor boy" line at first (single track, using existing RR ROW (Port of New Orleans Public Belt RR) and used cars). Now rebuilt to a proper double track line, seven "Built in New Orleans" streetcars with wheelchair lifts and connected to the Canal Streetcar Line.

Best Hopes for Urban Rail,


New Orleans was able to house two large homeless camps; one in front of City Hall and the other under the I-10.

A very close friend was one of two psychiatrists that came up with, and implemented ,an innovative approach.

They would spend 2 to 3 hours with one homeless person, diagnose them and develop a treatment plan, and "get them into the system" (the city and State# recognized our mental health crisis) and then do a half hour follow-up.

After years of effort by these two (plus a couple of others), the majority of the homeless mentally ill in New Orleans are now sheltered and receiving treatment.

I cannot express how proud I am of her :-)

Best Hopes for those that try, regardless of the odds !


# Gov. Jindal made "the mental health crisis in New Orleans" one of his 4 priorities in his first legislative session.

I used to work with a street patrol run out of Anishnabe Health in Toronto, basically a soup kitchen and first aid/medical care on wheels for the homeless. We could get abuse from cops and passerbys for what we were doing. I was nearby hit by an irate thug who was furious that i was wasting his, the taxpayers' money (if so I'm a taxpayer too and our budget was peanuts). I used to tell people that we are all only one car accident with a head injury away from being homeless. That's in Canada that has a social net that's being worn away, best I can tell, in the US, most of the social safety net is gone.

New Orleans has two policemen dedicated to the homeless. Basically good guys, sympathetic (but one always gets near the front of the line when food is handed out, doing "quality control". I think it is useful to connect by being in the same line, joking with the guys and gals, eating the same food).

Too many people have suffered too much, the homeless are not seen as being so distant and the "other".

Best Hopes,


The crash of oil prices has not been followed by a crash in food prices -

According to a NY Times story today:

In the last year, producer prices are up 8.7 percent, a big jump and a sign of faster inflation. Even outside of gasoline, prices are up 4 percent for the year.


Interesting times we're living in. Residential real estate prices are down. Equities prices are down. Oil price is down. But the prices of most other things are up.

So do we have inflation? Or do we have deflation?

Things just keep getting curiouser and curiouser.

I think we have rising food prices and deflation, which is a very scary situation. Rising food prices can't compensate for the loss of money in the total economy, so we have deflation, but people aren't finding it easier to eat, but harder.

As Airdale points out, food prices for farmers aren't rising, particularly given the high price of inputs. And that is likely to lead to less food, not more - in the poor world, that's already happening, fields aren't being planted because people can't afford it.
I suspect it will happen here too.

Leanan, I agree there is a lot of waste - but food waste is one of those things that is likely not to decline that much in a Depression - we may find people allowing the hungry to eat expired canned goods, but there will be fewer canned goods going around, while more fields sit empty or aren't harvested and food is lost to lack of refrigeration by those who can't afford it or those who experience power losses. I really recommend everyone read this (I only wrote a bit of it, most of it is an excerpt from testimony given to congress about the food situation during the Great Depression).


I agree that strategies for reducing food waste are important - but I also think that the forces working to increase waste will be powerful, between people's ignorance at how to handle food without energy to varieties not bred for a low energy society to transport loss, etc... I am all for the reduction of waste where it is possible, but I doubt that most of the major gains in food security will be had there.


Disclosure: I'm no vegan activist!
But people in other countries do naturally consume less meat as they slip into poverty, and that alone will free up enormous food resources for the hominids.

But the US is in a unique and unenviable position, given the orgy of waste that we've been living through for the past half-century. Our ag system is so dysfunctional now that half the people are overweight while a growing minority is hungry; primary producers are perpetually hanging on by their fingernails while ADM and Monsanto expand mightily; and a serving of red meat may be cheaper than one of fresh vegetables.

Who here in the US is going to give up their Mickey D's for a bowl o' rice and a can o' beans? People under stress go for comfort foods, whatever that means to them. If you think it's hard to pry folks out of their SUV's, try to get them to change their diets for the better.

Part of the problem is that we subsidize things like corn which goes into high fructose corn syrup while we do not subsidize healthy fruits and vegetables. The nutrient dense stuff is cheaper. Quit subsidizing anything unless we give equal subsidies to everything.

If you think it's hard to pry folks out of their SUV's, try to get them to change their diets for the better.

I try every day, with limited success. People think the cure for diabetes is a good insurance plan that will allow you to buy Januvia. Not eating better and getting out for a walk now and then.

Why get all worked up over the food crisis? I gave up trying to teach people to farm several years ago. People are 1. lazy and 2. prolific breeders. I put all the time and effort into creating a farm for myself years ago. Everyone else is on their own. Mr. Malthus is waiting patiently to thin out the herd.

So do we have inflation? Or do we have deflation?

Things just keep getting curiouser and curiouser.

There is about a 5-6 month lag between raw food input prices and prices in grocery stores and restaurants - remember early this year grain prices were flying but prices in stores were not going up? but then they did this summer? Minneapolis wheat was at $25 per bushel and now below $6. corn dropped more than half etc. - in a few months food prices will come down sharply, and probably with less options availabile...

It's a double edged sword, like oil prices.

High food prices are perhaps the only way to get folks to stop taking it for granted, to develop backyard gardens.

And everyone can get angry at the $4 box of cereal and the $4 bu of corn. Hard to afford to buy, hard to break even producing. It takes so much effort and work to produce good food, but no one wants to pay for it. One casualty, at least temporarily, I forsee is the local farmers markets. Fewer will want to pay that premium.

Putting myself through school, no loans, I learned in a hurry about dumpster diving, of getting so angry walking the unaffordable meat and cheese aisles of the grocery store. But it helped reinforce my aversion to waste, especially of food. Like getting off oil, this won't be painless, but it is necessary.

A WSJ story about UK food prices:

U.K.'s Rising Food Prices Hamper Economic Policy

LONDON -- The cost of food in the U.K. is rising at a faster rate than elsewhere, putting more pressure on an economy already squeezed by the credit crisis.

A 12.7% increase in food prices in September from a year earlier helped to drive overall inflation last month to 5.2%, its highest level in 16 years, the Office for National Statistics reported Tuesday.

Amid the global banking crisis, the high food prices are further crimping Prime Minister Gordon Brown's ability to adjust economic policy. Because they add to inflation, they affect the Bank of England's ability to bring down rates, and take more money out of consumers' pockets. Though Mr. Brown's handling of the banking crisis has boosted his standing from its lows a month ago, food prices are politically damaging: They're immediately visible and can make people feel poorer quickly.

Here's a local story I heard at a county Health Action meeting about one family's response to high food prices.

A 12 year old girl came to the local Boys and Girls Club to receive some of the charitable distribution of fresh fruit. They passed a plate of cut-up fruit around, but when it came to her, she held onto it. When asked to pass it on, she said, no, she needed it all. She said she never had breakfast or lunch. Every day, however, one of her parents would take her to McD's on the way home from school and get her a Big Mac and maybe some fries and a drink. That was her daily diet.

How do we meet these kinds of needs and take these non-solutions "off the table"?

Yikes. Wasn't she eligible for lunch and/or breakfast at school?

I wish I knew more details of the story. But it makes my mind spin about how we can make ends meet as a community. This Saturday our group, Transition Cotati, is holding a meeting to get action groups going. The economy and food loom large in people's minds, especially now. I hope we get a great turn-out and consolidate energy on moving into solutions. An ongoing quandary is how best to connect with the more disadvantaged in our town.

Hard to reply to such a story, for even if it's unsubstantiated, we know the truth of the story is out there. The images of famine throughout the world come to mind. Of the many possible replies-idiotic parents, misplaced priorities, causes of poverty, self-serving officials, etc, none seem to answer your question, paraphrasing, "What have we done?"

We all know the problems-overpopulation, greed, kamikaze governments, and on and on and on. Hoping not to sound too callous, knowing most of us could never refuse the girl pleading on our doorstep, we are able to intellectualize the abstract and dismiss it. There is a survival value in that. Much as being instructed to don your oxygen mask first during a flight malfunction as the only way to ensure other's safety, we should ensure that food by placing sufficient value on it. Something which your time and efforts, I would argue, help.

Where this falls apart, as I've written here- http://www.theoildrum.com/node/3652, is with climate change. We can run from or fight an advancing waterfront, but very few of us, even those hunkered down in peak oil "refuges", can handle the impact of shifting precipitation patterns. Grain belts are a fragile thing. And that is only the beginning. James Lovelock, whom I consider one of the true visionaries of our time, sees only encampments at the poles by the end of the century. I hope he is wrong.

"James Lovelock, whom I consider one of the true visionaries of our time, sees only encampments at the poles by the end of the century. I hope he is wrong."

At "one of the poles", surely!

Correct. no "s" above. Arctic to be precise.

I would have thought that parts of Antarctica, southern South America (see Andes mountains) and perhaps South Island New Zealand + Tasmania would be habitable in AGW gone wild.



Lovelock's quote is "billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable" by the end of the 21st century. Does not preclude your statement, but that is the oft cited quote.

For a recent short bio, see:


or the wiki entry:


"the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic" makes a good soundbite but is more rhetorical, it can't be what he really meant. The habitable parts would be North and South polar regions. Not at the North Pole as it will be water, but the Arctic circle. Clearly there is room for more than a few pairs of people, but his message is that the existing temperate zones will disappear, causing massive dislocation.

Lovelock's predictions are extreme and not currently scientifically justifiable, because we cannot yet accurately predict what will happen. It's a plausible scenario, since it has happened before in Earth's history.

More interesting I find Lovelock's comments about "tipping point" being misleading. He says the IPCC gives the impression that the tipping point is yet to be reached, and the problem is still fixable. Lovelock thinks we are already past that and are inexorably sliding down a slope. While the slope is currently shallow, we have no way of getting back up the slope. We may have initiated GW but we are now largely powerless to change it's course.

There are store brands of cereal selling for about $2 a pound, and some unadvertised brands at about the same price. Those are the ones we buy, when we want cereal. Mostly we use a store brand of bread that costs $1.70 for 20 ounces -- bread is just another form of cereal after all. I don't know how Kelloggs and General Mills manage to move their high-priced over-sweetened products -- advertising, probably. And the consumer pays for the ads.

I buy Post Raisin Bran, relatively healthy and slightly over 10 cents/ounce in the 25 oz box. I like the taste as well :-)


At $4.00/bu there's about a nickle's worth of corn in a box of corn flakes.

There's probably about $0.20 worth of diesel in the transport.

How much worth of sugar is there in a box of corn flakes?

Food is used for survival. People need to eat in order to stay alive. People eat when they are hungry. I expect over 90% of the people out there will agree with that.

Food is also used as a palliative, as a drug. People eat to feel better, for comfort, to provide a back-end solution to mental or emotional anguish, for problem generated generated from the bottom-up by lifestyle.

I would propose that most of the wasted food was wasted as a result of eating for comfort, and not eating for survival.

To solve the food-wasting problem, then, requires addressing the myriad lifestyle choices which lead to the need for the prevalent use of food as a drug. Things like stressful jobs, poor social skills, lack of community, little exercise, not enough sunlight, and bad sleeping habits, to name a few.

If we are unwilling or unable to address the problem's systemic causes, then we will instead push the problem into another area by finding other drugs people can use instead of food. Cigarettes, sex, church, pot, alcohol, and various entheogens are some available substitutes.

Failure to find suitable substitutes for food as a drug will yield a faster, sooner, more widespread food crisis.

For this reason, maybe we can investigate decriminalization of various "hard" drugs, to say nothing of the effect this would have on decreasing drug-related violence.

Firstly, I don't always eat when I'm hungry but often at the time when I'm at home so I can cook or when the people I want the company of want to eat. I think there has been some degree of people "eating when convenient" since the development of cheap clocks (since they corresponded to people starting to be paid for hours worked rather than job done).

I don't know about in the US, but I think a big part of the food wastage in the UK is "not eating enough": people buy what they think they'll eat at the supermarket and then don't finish the prepackaged portion and throw the rest away and have food that goes out of date/mouldy and gets thrown out. Ironically I probably waste less food (directly at least) than my parents partly because I live five minutes walk from a tiny inner city supermarket whilst they live in the suburbs. So they tend to do "the weekly shop" at a big store and buy things "in case" whereas because I know I can buy whatever I want immediately if the urge takes me, I can afford to wait until an urge does actually take me.

Dealing with food wastage (in the short term) is probably best tackled by working on people's planning skills and encouraging local stores.

I think most Americans don't realize how rapidly food security is about to crash onto the national stage for us too.


I really believe this is the most important statement. The first step has to be for people to fully accept that the reality they knew and believed in no longer exists. And, further, is never coming back. Yes, growing a garden is valuable but I believe it has to be done within the context of a permanent necessity rather than a temporary action or hobby while waiting for the good times to return.

My reason for saying this is that it (food production) will require actual diligence. A "Whoops moment" could now result in going hungry. That is far different then shrugging off the wormy tomatoes in the past reality.

But, of course, as we all know, the new reality means that nothing is the same. Living in the old paradigm won't hack it.


Whom someone bashed on a DB a day or so ago, spoke this way:

Clothes are to preserve body heat.
A habitat is used to alter outdoor weather.
A fire does the same by making it like summer.
Food does aught but create body heat.

All things revolve then around FOOD, and the rest is just to make it last or preserve the heat of the body. However out current culture uses it as a drug or addiction.

They would not be able to understand Thoreau's exposition.

Without food all the rest is just gilding the lily.

We have zero concern for out foodstuffs currently.
All that is about to rapidly change..IMO of course.

Those who grow food,and covet it are very aware of the work involved but its really what man was created for...(if you believe so)...to tend the Garden...know as Pardes. Actually produce from trees(the orchard) but with the downfall then the soil was where man obtained his needs ..needed body heat.

YVMD(your views may differ) and most likely do. I find some solace in the bible more of late than previously..and study it in Hebrew...slowlllyyyyyy


I suggested another poll with a 30% (+/-) spread when the last one was finished (on the 10th). But, the current trend might hit $65/barrel by the end of the week. Any ideas?


OPEC has published its Monthly Oil Market Report. There were only a few revisions to the August numbers, nothing significant. But for September total OPEC production was down 309,000 barrels per day. Big losers were Angola, down 100,000 bp/d, Iraq down 129,000 bp/d, and Saudi Arabia down 113,000 bp/d.

Saudi Arabia produced 9,377,000 bp/d in September, down from 9,490.000 bp/d in August and a recent high of 9,522,000 bp/d in July. Notice that the EIA has Saudi, and indeed all of OPEC, producing a lot more than this report says they produced. They have Saudi producing almost 200,000 bp/d more and OPEC producing about 1.75 mb/d more than this report says they are producing.

Ron Patterson

Ron -- you've probably seen my comments speculating that as PO becomes a greater factor we might see OPEC begin functioning as a true cartel: cutting back production in the face of demand destruction so as to keep oil prices relatively high (let's say $100/bbl). I've always added the caveat that potential political/military responses to such actions might impede such a step change. But now I wonder if the current global financial woes are effecting the exporters sufficiently to provide enough of an incentive for Saudi to take such risks.

You keep a close eye on the numbers: are you seeing any initial hints that the KSA/OPEC might begin such a true policy change in the near future?

OPEC has a problem, how to keep oil prices high without destroying the world economy. They have, in the last few months, seen oil demand drop as the world economy heads down the toilet. The recent run up in OPEC production was an attempt to correct that problem.

But now they fear that prices could drop too low and are making less an attempt to keep production up. Only Saudi Arabia has any ability to swing production as everyone else in OPEC is producing flat out. Saudi Arabia hit its highest production point since its peak in 1980, in June of 2005. In that month Saudi produced 9,540,000 barrels per day according to OPEC's Monthly Report. In September they produced 163,000 bp/d less than that amount.

I think Saudi is currently cutting back production but only slightly so. In truth I think they have little control over anything. While Saudi swings its production up or down by a few hundred thousand barrels per day, non-OPEC production is in a nosedive.

Just a note: OPEC less Angola peaked in September of 2005 and is currently producing about half a million barrels per day less than she did in that month.

Ron Patterson

And just the increase in consumption in Saudi Arabia, not even counting the other OPEC members, was probably on the order of 500,000 bpd from 9/05 to 9/08.

Ron -- If you think the KSA has little control are you implying that you don't feel they have the will to reduce production to force prices back up? I wouldn't necessarially argue against that point. I'm not sure they fear becoming another Iraq but, then again, it's not my neck on the line....it's theirs. It's difficult to imagine them hurting the global economy with a double whammy of reduced prodcution and mainting higher prices but. On the other hand, they've always used their petro wealth to maintain internal security. I suppose it's a question of who they fear the most.

The people in OPEC have the same human weaknesses as everyone else. When oil prices were high they found uses for the money; they got used to the income. Now they confront a pay-cut; even though they might be making more than they did 5 years ago, it's still something that human nature rebels against....

I think the KSA has a major social problem. Wealth disparity is huge. Much of the country is Shiite and receiving some kind of welfare. According to the film Crude Awakening, per capita income has declined from 26k/year to about 8k in recent years.

IMO, the KSA is sitting on a religious, social, and economic powder keg. They are keeping a lid on it partly with US military and intelligence aid and partly with a welfare program. If oil revenue drops enough to threaten the kingdom's social programs, I think they have a big problem. I would be willing to bet the Saudi Royals are more afraid of their own people than they are of Washington.

I'm not making specific predictions. I just think the king has a lot of tough decisions to make, and I'm not sure there is a good path forward (with the acknowledgement that "good" in this case is a very subjective term).

The oil producers aren't hurting too much. Oil is priced in dollars. In the last few months the dollar has risen strongly against other currencies. This will largely make up for the fall in prices.

From its low in July, the dollar has risen 13% against a basket of currencies. Oil has fallen almost 50%. I guess it depends on what one's definition of "largely make up for" is, but that doesn't meet mine. In addition, the USD is up against some currencies (most notably the Euro), down against others (most notably the Yen). A lot depends on what you want to do with your dollars. If you want to buy US assets demoninated in dollars, then it doesn't really matter.

Whatever the situation is in the KSA, I think the statement "the oil producers aren't hurting too much" is flatly wrong when applied to Russia.

OPEC has a problem, how to keep oil prices high without destroying the world economy.

That is unless OPEC's ultimate checkmate move to take down the West is to destroy the world economy.

Here's the OPEC table and world supply graph from the report

And forecast for 2009

why would Iraq be down so much? Controlled or unexpected?

RE: Thinking Anew About a Migratory Barrier: Roads

Some experts believe that habitat fragmentation, the slicing and dicing of large landscapes into small pieces with roads, homes and other development, is the biggest of all environmental problems.

Are they just NOW getting around to thinking about this?!?!? This was something that was so obvious to me as a HS senior that I was talking about it on the first Earth Day in 1970!!!

The Canucks have been digging tunnels for bears to bypass their roads for years - and now they're even making salamander tunnels:
Like inverted fish ladders on dry land.

Right. And it isn't just about wildlife. American cities are alomost unlivable because they are sliced and diced by "freeways."

One of the most attractive things about Vancouver, B.C. -- compared, say, with Seattle, is that they never allowed a freeway anywhere near the city. As a result, people live down town, and the place feels lived in. Also, you can walk anywhere, and the whole city feels like an organic whole.

Seattle is completely chopped up into pieces by the freeways. Although it is beautiful and interesting in the sections between the freeways, they don't connect very well with each other.

Jim "Mad Money" Cramer's latest recommendation

Cash-strapped consumers don’t have the same options struggling banks do. The Fed discount window doesn’t open for Joe Six-Pack. So when times get tough and credit is non-existent, a lot of Americans turn to a different window, at their local pawnshop, to raise money.

Sure, this one’s bulletproof and you have to scream at the clerk through tiny air holes to get his attention, but pawnshops do trade greenbacks for jewelry. And as morbid as it may sound, more and more people might be exchanging their favorite gold bracelet for cash as the U.S. economy continues its downward spiral.

This should tell you something. (OK, he goes on to talk about investing in pawn shops, but still. . .)

Several folks asked what I meant by the bond, stock markets
collapsing in 15(now 14 days).

Gail the Actuary among others. I replied to Gail to expand
on that premise. Here's another:


The Baltic Dry represents shipping worldwide.

that's a picture of cardiac arrest.

Any bulk commodity, think BHP, Rio Tinto, Vale, et al.

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Last Updated: 11:27AM BST 14 Oct 2008


Nuclear-armed Pakistan is bleeding foreign reserves at an alarming rate leading to fears that it could default on its loans.

There are mounting fears that Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Argentina could all now slide into a downward spiral towards bankruptcy, while western banks exposed to property bubble across Eastern Europe have seen their share price crushed.

The 10 year bond yield is rising with every move by the sovereign.

The last thing that "Main St" needs.

When no one wants any more US bonds, the US will have to default.
Then price won't matter. The Federal reserve note of Ben Franklin then becomes the US Gov't "bond".
0 Up Down
Edit | Reply |

Kazakhstan can get loans from either China and/or Russia (and when Kashagan comes on-line, they will be repaid).

Both nations want influence.

BTW, China has agreed to buy 100% of Kazakhstan's potash at world prices. So they have other goodies besides oil to export.


Alan -- could you tell if the potash deal included the right of first refusal. In other words, at long as China is willing to match any offer do they have the exclusive right to 100% of the production?

The wording (remember these are not native English speakers) lead me to believe that China committed to buy 100% of any and all production at whatever the world price would be. No time limit mentioned. (I suspect the same applies to oil *IF* Kazakhstan wants to export it all to China).

Also, I was going to add:

China is currently building a standard gauge (Kazakh railroads are Russian gauge) railroad from China to a Caspian Sea port in Kazakhstan. Good for exports (oil & minerals) back to China and onward to EU without a change in gauge.

Note: Iran (standard gauge) can rail oil to Caspian Sea, and rail ferries currently operate in the Caspian. Future plans are for a southern extension of the standard gauge rail line through Turkmenistan to Iran (and from there to EU via Turkey & Bulgaria/EU. The rail across Turkey is being upgraded (rail tunnel under Bosporus, bypass for rail ferry across a lake in western Turkey))

Northern extension from Kazakh Caspian Sea port would go through Russia and Ukraine to Poland/EU.

China sees fast economical exports by rail as a way of drawing export industries from the coast inland. This will reduce domestic strains between rich & poor provinces (domestic stability is all important in China) by encouraging export industries to locate in the poor inland provinces.

Bottom line, China wants a stable and friendly Kazakhstan and lending enough of their trillion $ in T-Bills to satisfy 16 million Kazakhs is a no brainer IMO.


China's greatest weapon in the capital-strapped future resource wars may be the world's finest army of cheap construction workers. If I ask America or even Russia to modernize my economy, they send contractors and subcontractors who try to steal all they can. The Chinese send bodies.

However, I would wish that someone sent trainers instead so I could have my own construction workers.

It is my understanding that is what the Kazakhs are requesting. Local jobs and local skills. This will not be the last new RR in Kazakhstan.


The Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Iran, and Turkey. The 4 most important
sovereigns in the world today.

"China has agreed to buy 100% of Kazakhstan's potash at world prices."

POT(Saskatchewan) has gone from $220 to 86.09 now.

The Baltic Dry is a smoking crater. Yes, China will be the new super power.

But China/Russia alone can't/won't keep the "World Economy"
going in a status quo ante.

Soros-"The market is unregulated, and there are no public records showing whether sellers have the assets to pay out if a bond defaults. This so-called counterparty risk is a ticking time bomb."

bomb has gone off and now we're looking for the casualties.

News-Ukraine to hold snap elections Dec 7.

Managed to dump the last of my POT at 236 - but it's at 82 and change now. No mystery - just unstable swings around a sensible valuation.

Foreign countries need US wheat, so they'll come up with a substitute for the useless letters of credit that are gumming up shipping now. And we'll always need potash.

So IMO this doesn't spell doom for the markets yet, it's just another squeeze that is an opportunity for the properly hedged to scrape off a little more profit.

Why bet on the end of the world? You can only be right once, and you'll never collect anyway.

Low oil prices causing trouble for Iran

At this point, Iran stands alone in its concern over the current price level for oil. But what is there motive? Is it simple greed - the higher the price of oil, the greater the revenues? To an extent, greed does play a role. However, there seems to be real fiscal concerns at hand for the Islamic Republic. Mohsin Khan, Director of Middle East and Central Asia at the International Monetary Fund, argues,

Iran’s break-even price is $90 a barrel, and that is a big issue in Iran right now. … If prices dip below $90 a barrel, and we have seen it touch $89 earlier this week, then they would have to tighten their public expenditure policy, and probably cut subsidies, which would be an issue for the government there – the public would not be content.

For other oil producing nations, Khan believes break-even threshold is much lower. “The UAE will have a fiscal balance at an oil price of $23, if it goes below they would run a deficit. For Qatar, the break-even price is $24 a barrel.” Saudi Arabia’s standard of $49 a barrel is the highest amongst the Gulf Cooperation Council countries on account of its high spending “on a lot of projects right now, and oil money is used to fund these projects.”


what's magic about 14 days?

Halloween. ;}

No, seriously, the exact number comes from the great depression of2006:


But it coincided with my feeling. The markets will clear this.
and they will do it soon. The flywheel analogy keeps coming back to me. And having it explode. There are other more serious problems than the market, believe it or not. Like harvest, prep for
winter, drought, labor vetoing(Boeing, UAW nixing GM's going out of bizness merger with Ford/Chrysler). None of these are waiting in the wings.

One way or another, the perps must be arrested, the bad paper
must be identified(quadrillion) and marked as worthless. Note that every time the market rallies the bond yield rises faster.

``The Fed's fear was that they didn't adequately monitor counterparty risk in credit-default swaps -- so they had no idea of where to lend nor where significant lumpy exposures may lie,'' he says.

Those counterparties include none other than JPMorgan itself, the largest seller and buyer of CDSs known to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, or OCC.

Counterparty risk can become complicated in a hurry, Das says. In a typical CDS deal, a hedge fund will sell protection to a bank, which will then resell the same protection to another bank, and such dealing will continue, sometimes in a circle, Das says....

``It creates a huge concentration of risk,'' Das says. ``The risk keeps spinning around and around in this daisy chain like a vortex. There are only six to 10 dealers who sit in the middle of all this. I don't think the regulators have the information that they need to work that out.''


Don't know if this is already posted here, but it's significant. Looking down the road, what is to come? Glenn Beck and Peter Schiff address this issue in the video below from the 12th or 13th.

Schiff and Beck: martial law? Hyperinflation?

SCHIFF: You know, what`s going to happen, of course, is as inflation starts running out of control and prices start going through the roof, the government again is going to focus on the symptoms and not the disease.

And they`re going to impose price controls on energy, on food, on a lot of other things that are vital, which means shortages, which means long lines, black markets, civil unrest. All this stuff is coming if we don`t stop. [...]

BECK: Peter, let`s talk a little bit about martial law. Why would that even be a consideration?

SCHIFF: Well, I don`t think it was a threat if they had rejected the bailout Bill, but I think it is a possibility a few years down the line. We just spoke a little bit about price controls and the effect that they`re going to have.

If we have shortages of food, if we have rolling blackouts. And people are upset, and they`re hungry, and they`re cold, there could be civil unrest. There could be looting, rioting, and that might be the impetus for the government to declare martial law.

BECK: You know, I don`t think you`re a couple of years away from something like that. I mean, honestly, Peter, I mean, look at what`s happening. In a half hour, I`ve got a congressman on about — about the racism cries. I mean, there are people that are right now so disenfranchised, and I think being encouraged to be disenfranchised on both sides, that at any time this damn thing could break apart.

SCHIFF: Yes. And we`re giving the government so much power. And you know, you give up a lot more civil liberties. When you have martial law and you`ve got the military policing our streets, when you`ve got suspension of habeas corpus, you`ve got curfews, you can`t be out of your house after dark, and they can just pick you up and put you in prison and keep you there indefinitely without charges, and there`s nothing you can do about it?

I mean, we`re giving up one liberty after another, all to protect ourselves from this economic crisis, which needs to happen anyway, but it doesn`t need to be nearly this bad.

BECK: Peter, this is — I mean, we`re in Crazytown, USA. But my gut tells me that, two years down the road — let`s just use that number — this country is not going to look anything like it does today. Our world has changed; it just hasn`t caught up.

(Transcript from Alex Jones, unfortunately.)

Beck has been following up on the martial law thing. He had his staff call Rep. Sherman to request an interview, but they said Sherman is not talking to reporters about that issue.

Several folks asked what I meant by the bond, stock markets
collapsing in 15(now 14 days).

Puts scary back into Halloween. Only tricks, no treats!

I would not go running for the hills yet. Mcgowanmc has made a slew of 'scary' predictions that have failed to materialize.

I'm not usually a fan of these fringe theories, but the Kondratieff wave has a lot of underlying sense. In particular, it predicts debt builds up and collapses, which may be stating the obvious but provides inescapable logic. In this case, we have a huge amount of debt built up. This debt must at least lead to a stalling of the economy, at worst cause a crash.

I think it's also true that the seeds of a crash are set some time before the crash, this is typical of chaotic systems. Events that seem surmountable at the time spread and destabilise the whole system. Many think that the stock crash was the Great Depression, in fact it was the trigger that led to the Depression.

Regarding the question, "is it different time?" The financial creativity appears to have pushed the economy higher and faster, and thus into a more precarious position. There doesn't seem to be any provision made for anything to prevent the slide down, indeed the financial creativity has involved throwing the safety belts away. That leaves government, have they any new tools to manage the slide down? I don't think they have.

I am not running for the hills yet, but the prudent will already be packing a bag.

One of the major problems is that so many people are beholding to the financial industry that reality cannot be addressed, so we get terms like "financial creativity" instead of Fraud. It is not possible to build a sustainable business model or national economy based around Fraud, even though it is very attractive to many.

By financial creativity I was referring to all the markets in derivatives that have been created. The government decided these were valid financial instruments, so technically not fraud. There has been an element of fraud too, both with execs taking large cuts and people self-certifying for mortgages they cannot pay.

True Bob. But lottery tickets are also valid financial instruments not only certified by the gov't but also sold by the gov't. And the gov't also certifies that 99.999% of those "investing" in these instruments will loose 100% of their investment. One big difference is that no one put the real probability of success on the back of those derivatives.

Not true, the financial wizzkids thought they knew how to "manage risk", and so did the government regulators. Is it a fraud if everyone is in on the game? It's a fool's game, but everyone was willing to play.

I tire of apologists for fraud and theft. If you create something that is dangerous, you exploit it, you try to hide it, you try to keep it out of sight of regulators... you know you are doing something unsafe and wrong. Period.


It's incredibly naive to think the problem is caused by a few criminals and if we throw them in jail all our problems are solved. Childish, in fact.

Still, some people never tire of demagoguery. Pitchforks and torches will be available for all. Go ahead, burn Wall Street, and the White House if you like, see if I care.

I posted a chart here over two years ago showing the primary debt build/collapse that's afflicting us now:

Here we see what the debt/hedge fund money was in love with in the last bull/bear cycle and that was of course the beloved new internet with its technology. After that love affair was over, this money found a new object of affection. It wasn't the technology laden Nasdaq, as the above chart shows, but rather the beloved new BRIC with its commodities.

It is the resource stocks that are leading the charge down with forced selling dragging technology and everything else along for the ride this time. You could say the decline is now approaching the same magnitude as what tech stocks inflicted on the broad market back in '02, so it must soon be over. But this time around, you have a massively greater amount of creative debt instruments proliferated and intertwined into everything since their infancy in the 90s. You also have a much more precarious economy now than the relative soundness of '02, which was after a mild recession. There was no global credit crisis back then compounding the problem in the middle of a recession that may not be as mild. So the unwinding may be of greater magnitude this time. Also note that the primary victim of the previous debt unwind, the Nasdaq, went from 5000 to about 1200. The XLE and other resource indexes have much more to go to equal that decline.

Did you predict the Dow losing two thousand points in a week, Antidoomer?

Mcgowanmc has made a slew of 'scary' predictions that have failed to materialize.

Name them?

An astrologer friend suggests November 4th for the real bad day (he's stopped giving forecasts beyond that date).

So the opposition of Uranus/Saturn, combined with a squaring of Mars to Neptune on the 4/11/2008, and also with Pluto entering Capricorn for a long stay, sees also the destruction and regeration of institutions usually connected to power structures such as banks, governments and established religions, seems to offer an interesting cocktail of interblended troubles.

It could also be something bad to do with Russia, or an uprising like the French Revolution.

Or maybe the Internet collapses and we can't read TOD and TAE any more...


That's Election Day. If it's bad must mean Ralph wasn't elected.

"Pakistan may not be able to re-pay its debt or import anything," he said, adding that the country cannot assume that it will be bailed out for strategic reasons.

It is hard to see Pakistan escaping the trap that it has set for itself. It is a model for all consuming nations as it requires food and petroleum imports and has little to export in return but ideology and weapons.

Sounds like the USA ... swap market fundamentalism for Islamic fundamentalism and leave the rest.

I guess we still have Disney ...

I followed these stocks for years back when Dryships was trading a 7.

It cost nothing to run these ships. Between 5000 for a Handymax to a max 10000 for a Suez/Afrimax size. And they take in 20,000 to 50,000 a day for long contracts. These things print money.

If you set your BDI back to include 5 or 10 years, you'll see there is no emergency. This is a classic boom/bust index.

Behind a paywall, unfortunately...

Saudi Manifa Costs Soar

Aramco said this week that costs at its 900,000 b/d Manifa project -- its largest offshore upstream development -- have soared to $15 billion, making it the most expensive single scheme on the Saudi state oil giant's slate.

"Oil price run-up looks like just another bubble: In hindsight, analysts were 'suckered,' may have contributed to frenzy."

I believe this would apply to a large majority of the followers of The Oil Drum, too.

To wit:

Andrius Spokas on June 26, 2008 - 10:32pm

I would have to disagree. Oil prices have been cyclical for years. Why would it be different this time? Yes, they might continue rising in the short run and anything minor such as a hurricane threat could send them above $150 but it is only the matter of time before they are falling back down to $100.
Oil, like any other bubble such as tech or real estate has risen too much and too fast. It will also pop like any other bubble only to come back to its peak, but that won’t happen for years. So anyone putting their money in oil today would be making the same mistake as the people who invested in real estate a year ago. You are more likely to double up by investing in the beaten up airlines, which will sky rocket as oil will fall, than you are investing in oil today or shorting the market which is at its lowest point in two years.
-14 Up Down

Note the minus 14 and also check out the price of oil on that day, too.

Peak oil does not negate the laws of supply and demand and oil, in general, behaves like any other commodity. As for as his comment as taking years to rise back to $150; God only knows, if anybody was truly accurate at forecasting commodity prices I promise you wouldn't be reading about it..at least from them.

Some of the demand destruction is coming from me. I was topping off all my vehicles a month ago. Now I'm running them all bone dry as prices go down 5-6 cents a day. Nobody I know tops off when prices are falling.

I think people are underestimating how much the 600-700 million dollars a day decrease in the cost of oil, not to mention NatGas prices falling, is going to help the economy. At this rate, a billion less a day will be spent on energy. Just look at the surge in transports and you'll see what I mean.

As far as the supply/demand comment. These wild swings in price were long ago predicted as an indicator of peak oil. And, the Drumbeat yesterday had an article on China setting an import record last month. As your conclusion suggests, guessing tomorrow's price is just that.

For governments like India and China, the one bright spot must be having the pressure taken off of their gas price subsidies. China's government now can eliminate the subsidy entirely and redeploy cash to stimulating domestic demand for manufactures, though I think that's the wrong place to put it.

In my neck of the woods individual gas station owners are quick to raise prices but lower them gradually. I am seeing prices from 2.70 (this morning - may be lower now) through 3.35 on my commmute.

RBOB was 1.80 a few days ago, probably lower now. Retail is typically 60 to 70 cents over RBOB - the current spread is 1.20+ - I have never seen it this large. Therefore this is either paper oil market manipulation, or some margin expansion / profiteering in distribution (incl. retail)

The rest of the stock market is the usual manipulation. IMO 401(k) and IRA holders who switch to equities from cash now will participate in the mother of all rallies when the ship turns.

Still no relief for the TED SPREAD. It's actually UP 0.016 so far today.


That is really scary.

Yves at Naked Capitalism was a little slow out of the chute on this one, but her postings today indicate she believes the new direction the $750 bailout has taken will not loosen up the credit markets.

Soros, Roubini and Krugman have all indicated they are hopeful.

Dillinger certainly was not. I also read a CNN article yesterday by another economist who was not.

I continued reading Kevin Phillips' Bad Money last night. When one considers the enormity of the problem, the $750 billion really seems like a drop in a bucket.

Phillips has a table that shows the explostion of debt and current account balance between 1Q2001 and 1Q2007. Outstanding home mortgage debt went from $4,923 to $9,961 billion. Outstanding domestic financial debt went from $8,482 to $14,529. His conclusion was:

Pouring $11 trillion into housing and the financial sector obviously stimulated the value of financial assets and homeowner real estate.

Also I saw yesterday on a Bloomberg story where Roubini is now saying bank real estate losses will be in the $3 trillion range. Remember back six months ago when the doomsayers were saying they could reach $1 trillion? Amazing how much things can change in a mere six months.

I continued reading Kevin Phillips' Bad Money last night. When one considers the enormity of the problem, the $750 billion really seems like a drop in a bucket.

The US has HUGE problems. The current financial thing is just one of many, as is energy. TPTB have just let them pile up year after year, kicking the can down the road instead of doing anything about them. Even now, SOP is just to try to slap a band-aid on the crisis du jour, then kick the can down a little further.

This is the main reason why I am so pessimistic about the future. It is the combination of all these megaproblems, continually neglected, that is really doing us in.

It's an ugly story which, according to Phillips, occured not because of chance but because of design.

For the past 35 years, American Finance has been absolved of any responsibility or accountability because, Phillips says, the consequences of "collusions between political permissiveness and financial recklessness were, in fact absolved by alternating currents of government rescue and monetary ease..." He enumerates 13 different instances during that period where the U.S. government tossed a costly lifeline to the finance industry.

Reading Bad Money right on the heels of The Great Risk Shift, what strikes me is how badly the American public was lied to about risk. Wall Street financiers were portrayed as ingenious individuals who took great risks and created wealth. American workers, on the other hand, were dismissed as uncreative plodders. The reality was quite different. According to Phillips, Wall Street financiers never took any risks, their losses were indemnified by the U.S. taxpayer. In the meantime, the venues where workers might create wealth died on the vine because with "financial institutions channeling half of new lending to other financial firms, credit markets increasingly [were] being used less to facilitate economic activity and more to leverage bets on changes in asset prices."

In 1992, two Time correspondents, Michael Duffy and Dan Goodgame, in a book titled Marching in Place, had described the elder Bush's economic philosophy as favoring breaks for the rich, who were capitalism's creative force. In the meantime, burdens could be put on "ordinary Americans, who are not a crative force in the economy and who anyway have no choice but to work and scrimp."

Kevin Phillips, Bad Money


Back in 2003, President Bush said that it was the job of government to provide "the economic environment in which risk-takers and entrepreneurs create jobs." Apparently, he thinks the only folks taking economic risks are the well off and corporations, not everyday Americans.

Jacob S. Hacker, The Great Risk Shift

Somehow the USA government has been co-opted since the days of the ENRON trial. As far as I can see, what ENRON did and what many of these firms are doing is identical, with the difference that ENRON didn't get taxpayer funding to keep doing it. Hiding liabilities, overvaluing assets, overstating earnings, etc-somehow the law has looked the other way consistently-it seems to have been as easy as getting the hooker hound dog out of the way-maybe they have a file on every potential government troublemaker.

People still do not know the basic definition of "peak oil".
It is the maximum daily amount of oil that can be pumped out of the ground per day.
Peak is related to supply, and not to demand.
We can use less and not change peak oil. If oil costs less, it will not delay peak oil.
What it may do however is delay us from getting off of oil, and moving on to the alternatives.
When daily production is falling, prices will go back up.
The price falling hurts the industry because they cannot cover the cost of new infrastructure.
All during the 1990s when the price of oil was low, there was no money being made to fund new rigs.
Now we have a shortage of infrastructure. Also, we do not have appropriate levels of emergency supplies because of lack of storage facilities in the Southern US.

Sadly, the right thing won't be done to jack up oil/gas prices to help us from future dollar drains and to establish a floor so that alternative energy and conservation can flourish. I could care less about the oil industry; we need to use our increasingly limited resources on alternatives to what is a dying industry regardless.

It is the maximum daily amount of oil that can be pumped out of the ground per day.
Peak is related to supply, and not to demand.

Patently false. Peak oil would have occured in the 19th century if there was no demand outside of the quack medical cure and lighting sectors.

Without sufficient demand the price would have been too low for deep water production and tar sands and we'd have peaked a long time ago.

The oil price has moved downwards very much as I predicted in my postings in reply to the last 3-4 oil polls. I believe we should conclude that:

1. The very high oil prices this year WERE DUE to speculation and the weakness of the US Dollar and not due to supply/demand dynamics.
2. All the oil drum contributors who claimed that "Oil prices can never fall below 100 USD again" were completely wrong and not even close to the mark.

Once again I repeat, I believe that we are at Peak Oil. However, I believe that man's ingeniuity will solve the energy crisis: Eg. there are already indications that electric vehicles will be mass produced in the very near future.

I think that the world will be a better place in the future. We will all have to adapt our lifestyles slightly, but there will be no need to live in small communities growing carrots in the back garden!! Transport will still be cheap, but the sources of energy will be diverse and different from today.

By the way. Stopped doing the polls because "it's all about the declining dollar and specs..." WAS the right answer? :-)

I think that the world will be a better place in the future. We will all have to adapt our lifestyles slightly, but there will be no need to live in small communities growing carrots in the back garden!!

I don't know how you and your countrymen feel about your government but many of us in the United States have drawn important lessons from the crises of the past several years.

The first lesson we learned is that the government cannot protect us from foreign attack. The second is that the government cannot be counted on to help us to deal with natural disasters. The third and perhaps most significant lesson -- one that is still developing as the financial crisis is still unfolding -- is that the US government cannot be counted on to maintain the conditions of a stable economy.

We have seen panic at the gas pumps this summer as stations in the Southeastern US and in the Upper Midwestern US ran short of gasoline. How long will it be before we see similiar situations at the grocery stores?

You appear to have infinite faith in your government. I hope that you are not disappointed.

Oh, I firmly believe that the federal government has the capacity to protect us from foreign attack, it just doesn't have the desire to. After all, if we're not attacked, the US citizens tend to not want to become involved in conflicts outside the US.

Pearl Harbor
The Tonkin Incident

By now, any other nation should know that you don't awake the sleeping giant which is the U.S. The problem is, the military industrial complex WANTS the US to be woken up, grumpy, and demanding blood. Peace isn't good for business.

You left out "Iraq".

The M-I complex doesn't want the US to be woken up and grumpy, they want us to be scared shitless so we vote for militant-talking right-wing nutjobs. And it works!

You mean the "Tonkin False Flag?"

The most sensational part of the history (which was excerpted and disclosed by the NSA two years ago) is the recounting of the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Incident, in which a second reported North Vietnamese attack on U.S. forces, following another attack two days before, triggered a major escalation of the war. The author demonstrates that not only is it not true, as Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara told Congress, that the evidence of a second attack was “unimpeachable,” but that to the contrary, a review of the classified signals intelligence proves that “no attack happened that night.”

There will probably be another poll, when we get around to it. There's so much else going on now. The polls are basically filler, and we haven't needed much filler lately.

I don't think the oil price declines are supply and demand. I think there are a lot of investors who are being forced to sell everything to raise cash. Including oil and other commodities.

The very high oil prices this year WERE DUE to speculation and the weakness of the US Dollar and not due to supply/demand dynamics.

Baloney! World oil supply, since 1970, averaged increasing about 1.5 percent per year, averaging good years in with the bad. Now we suddenly hit a four year plateau with virtually no increase at all. All this happened when demand from India and China was growing dramatically. That was what caused the big run-up in prices. And now all those high prices has put us in a world-wide recession. And that is what has caused the drop in oil prices.

We are at peak oil right now. We may stay on the plateau for another year but no longer than that. Then we will see a small drop at first, averaging less than one percent per year, then ramp up to 1.5 to 2.5 percent decrease per year.....forever.

It is about the declining dollar, it is about the financial market going bust, it is about the housing bubble going bust, and all this is the result of peak oil at a time when demand in Asia was growing by leaps and bounds.

Ron Patterson

Agreed. The decline in oil prices isn't any more proof of speculation than was the run up.

As I posted the other day, the proof that it was not caused by speculation is iron ore. Iron ore prices increased 6x to 10x (depending on the period chosen) during the same period as oil and then crashed around the same time as oil, NG, coal, copper, and every other industrial commodity. The thing about iron ore is that there is no futures market and no speculators. Ironically, the iron ore buyers and sellers are trying to get a futures market created, so as to get less volatility and better price discovery, just as oil already has.

We're witnessing the pop of the biggest economic bubble in history as the American financial Ponzi scheme implodes. As a result, every industrial commodity is crashing in price. And the only explanation some people can find is speculators. /boggle

I think all the pumping of billions/trillions into the system (liquidity infusion) will hit as an inflationary backwash somewhere down the line. That is when commodities will explode once again.

Thats quite impressive! -10 score within minutes for arguing against the consensus! Or perhaps it was the carrots that did it? :-)

However, I've enjoyed reading many of the responses and since you've all been so enthusiastic I thought I'd add a few more comments:

As mentioned before I believe we are now close Peak Oil production. It is unlikely that we will manage to add production as quickly as production falls from fields which are currently depleting. But there are many marginal fields now coming online and as I believe oil prices will probably not go up again in the near future the incentive to increase production dramatically will also be greatly reduced.

During the last year we have seen that oil demand IS elastic and that it reduces VERY quickly in the face of rapidly increasing prices. People ARE now buying more fuel economic cars, using their existing cars less, heating their homes slighly less, letting the office get a little bit warmer before turning on the air-con, etc.

Didn't quite figure out why so many attacked my confidence in my government? Can't even remember mentioning the government. Actually. I would say I have confidence in the people of my country. (Norway). Despite being a significant oil exporter we have consistently voted for governments that have promised us HIGHER fuel taxes, HIGHER road taxes, HIGHER road charges etc. We have chosen to tax fuel highly so that the alternatives will become competitive and so that we will use less fossil fuels. In addition the government has introduced a hefty CO2 tax. What does all this mean? We are less sensitive to high oil prices and better positioned for a future of declining oil production.

So. Why did my last post cause so much consternation? Is there really anybody out there who is seriously arguing that the USD exchange rate does not influence the price of oil? Is there really anybody out there arguing that speculation doesn't cause overshoots both upwards and downwards? Interesting. As I have argued in the past I believe the underlying trend for oil prices is upwards, but that the underlying trend has only reached about 70 USD NOT 150 USD. So many alternatives become viable, and so many marginal fields become profitable at about 70-80 USD that there is little chance of oil prices rising very far above 100 USD in the near future.

So why do I think the world of the future will be a better place? Well, I believe that the current crisis will lead to a more even distribution of salaries, a greater use of pedal-power (I have cycled to work daily for the last 5-years), more ingenious solutions for public transport and working from home. But. I also think that we will harness solar energy, and expand nuclear energy, to such a degree that we will soon have plenty of cheap energy. Used to power battery cars (or hydrogen or compressed-air or whatever), this will give us cheaper transport than today.

Yes. I'm an optimist. I'm not stockpiling anything, I'm not growing carrots in my non-existent garden, and I'm not going to move to some "community" on the edge of society. I'm ready for the future and looking forward to it! Come on guys - brighten up! :-)

If oil prices don't go up, why would I want to ride my bike to work? As it is, at $2.79/gallon here at 28 mpg for a 8 mile round trip to work, it's dirt cheap to drive and much nicer than riding a bike.

Nothing wrong here, you are simply demonstrating the FYJ system on the individual scale.
Now scale that thinking up to families states and countries.
We have nothing to fear but.............(not fear itself)............it's human nature that is damning us

If oil prices don't go up, why would I want to ride my bike to work?

Because riding your bike will keep you alive and sitting in your car will kill you. Most Americans die from heart disease, stroke, and cancer, all diseases resulting from physical inactivity. Bike riding will increase your life expectancy 20x more than the minor increased risk of accidental death (too lazy to google the source, but it is out there).

Plus I think cycling is more fun than driving (opinions differ), especially if the option of cycling in a non car-dominated environment exists.

Nordic, I 100% agree with one point you made.
The world, in the future will be a better place and there is much to look forward to.
The questions remain: how many years will that take and how many people will enjoy it.

I too am optimistic. Today my girlfriends 10 year old daughter came home and announce she can't participate in 'family movie' night for 2 weeks. Their middle school (5-8th) announced 'off with electronic media'. For 2 weeks the students are not allowed to watch TV or use the internet. It was explained to them that while young adults, the left brain is where mathematics and other cognitive processing occurs - but while watching TV, the left brain changes so that 'we can't learn anymore'. I will have to look deeper into that particular claim, but I think its great that the schools are taking such initiative. I am well aware of the neural grooves that adults fall prey to, which will make slowing down all the more difficult in the years ahead. We don't have a TV but watch a movie (DVD) once a week so it's not too much of a hardship for her....

this is a good read
I think you'd get a kick out of it

-10 score within minutes for arguing against the consensus!

I did not actually rate your post down, though I think it deserved it. You did not actually argue against the concensus. In fact, there were no arguments in your original post at all. An argument is a logical set of steps, possibly backed with evidence and supporting arguments. There was none of that. You just asserted that you were right and everyone else was wrong.

I have no problem with your optimism (and I would never rate someone down for being optimistic). I just hope, when the TSHTF, that you're not at the head of the queue looking for a handout from those who did take steps to prepare for hard times.

You are living in the mist......
When we go to electric cars, what kind of energy will we use to make them?
What happens when battery components and metals hit peak?
We will go back to hand labor, which means less production, less food, and less people.

In order not to get too carried away with predicting 'mad' oil prices we should consider the price in terms of a % of wages. It seems obvious that if $100 oil is 10% of wages then it is really really unlikely that we will see consistent prices of £200 oil or more (at least in the short term) because a great deal of demand can be destroyed really quickly as has been shown -recession, car sharing, simply not driving...

That's not to say that spikes will not occur as we have recently seen but these high prices are self defeating. Low prices are also bad as they prevent substitution and much needed investment. IMO a 'happy band' is probably in the $80-$120 range. If we get reall supply issues the super-spike up is going to cause some real demand destruction affects and downright depression, that much is clear to me after the last 12 months (it's been a gift: a wake-up call and a glimpse into Peak-World...)

Regards, Nick.

I can see one error in your argument. If $100 oil translates to 10% of the average wage this is with vehicles averaging 25mpg. As people switch to more fuel efficient vehicles, say 40mpg, then $160 oil is now 10% of average wage.
Its difficult to separate the relative contribution of the sub-prime financial crisis and the high gasoline prices on oil demand. Mortgage and other debt payments are usually more than 10% of salaries, but more difficult to cut back than gasoline consumption.
The only wake-up call that will be acted upon will be permanent high oil prices, unless US follows EU and brings in higher gasoline taxes.

A Fine article from the FT

Walter Bagehot, the greatest of 19th-century writers on finance, was aghast at the stupidity of the directors of the discount house Overend Gurney, whose failure in 1866 was the cause of the last run on a British bank before the ignominious demise of Northern Rock. “They ruined a firm almost inconceivably good by business so inexplicably bad that it could hardly be much worse if they had of set purpose tried to make it bad,” wrote Bagehot.

NY museum's climate change show dives into politics

Good to see this. Unfortunately, this kind of show is still rare. A few weekends ago I was at the Atlanta Natural History museum (the Fernbank) and they had a special exhibit on Antarctica and the Arctic (sponsored by Coca-Cola with their polar bear mascots of course). This contained absolutely no mention of climate change whatsoever, even when they had stop action satellite movies showing the sea ice growing and shrinking year after year. I shouldn't be surprised, but I can't help but think that any exhibit on the polar regions ought to include what's happening to them. I suppose a large number of Georgia residents want their museums filtered the same way they want their news, as propaganda that comforts them rather than the truth.

I am going to try to make it down to NYC sometime to see this exhibition. I love natural history museums.

The American Museum of Natural History in NY is like church to me. My grandparents lived in Manhattan, and whenever I visited them as I was growing up, I would be dropped off at the Museum in the morning with enough money for lunch and the recorded guide thingies (sort of an early 60's Walkman precursor that directed you around and described the exhibits). They'd come and pick me up at the Museum store in the afternoon. (In the early 60's, this was not considered child endangerment.) I cherish the many hours I spent wandering around in that magnificent place. By the time I was 11 years old, I could have led tours of the place myself!

No doubt in my mind that it led to my career as biologist/forester/ecologist.

I hope you get to check it out. Heck, I should go check it out - it's been a long time. If you get there, make sure to take in a show at the Hayden Planetarium, which is a part of the AMNH and right there.

The Hayden Planetarium was totally reconstructed. Some things are better... others I deeply miss.



I've not been to the Hayden since it was redone. I probably never will, the way things are going. I will retain the memory :-)

You were a lucky kid. I bet you enjoy seeing "Night at the Museum". When I visit my sister-in-law in Manhattan, I usually plan a day futzing around the AMNH and then out and about in Central Park across the street. Pure day in paradise.

You bet. Paradise indeed!

Canada's election yesterday was, in the opinion of most commentators and talking heads, a bust.

Voter disengagement with the parties, the leaders, and the platforms was so high, that despite the spectacle of the worst economic crisis in a generation, only 59% of eligible voters came out to vote, the lowest turnout in Canadian history. Public pollsters were puzzled by the high number of undecided responses (1/3 to 1/2) in the days leading up to the election. What did the undecideds end up doing? They stayed home.

The results:
Conservatives 143
Liberals 76
Bloc Québecois 50
New Democratic Party 37
Independents 2

The popular vote revealed how fractured the electorate was: 37% Conservative, 27% Liberal, 10% Bloc Québecois, 18% New Democratic, 1 % Independents 7% Greens.

A few observations:

Electioneering by the Liberal Party on a "green shift" platform did not sit well with Canadians worried about the economy. The 27% popular vote for the Liberals was the lowest level in its long illustrious history. Throughout the twentieth century, the Liberals (a.k.a. the Grits) were known as the Natural Governing Party of Canada. Stephane Dion will likely be finished within the year. If so, Dion will be the only Canadian Liberal leader other than Edward Blake (leader 1878-1887) not to be prime minister sometime in his career.

Moral of the story: if faced between losing a job or lessening one's carbon footprint, the electorate will chose economic security first.

The Conservatives are precariously perched atop a minority government while facing a tsunami of uncertainty. There was tremendous anger expressed over the need for an election at this time. IMHO, Stephen Harper saw what was coming and wanted a majority beforehand. The financial cascade took him off guard. The Conservatives also have a sizable block of seats in the oil patch/tar sands province of Alberta. So if oil tanks, it may present difficulties down the road for the Tories.

The good news is that no opposition party is likely to pull the plug on the government early and feel the wrath of a disillusioned electorate.

If the leftist vote wasn't so divided, the Conservatives would have been in serious do-do. If they couldn't get a majority under these optimal conditions (fiscal conservative message, divided opposition, ineffectual leader of the opposition) they're not likely next time round either.

They know it, too.

To my American friends, my wish for you is that your upcoming election will be less of a bust.

Zadok, thanks for your post! (Especially the Alberta comments, I was wondering how that would go.) It's easy for Americans to get too self-absorbed so sometimes we don't pay as much attention to what's going on outside as we should.

Moral of the story: if faced between losing a job or lessening one's carbon footprint, the electorate will chose economic security first.

I fear that in the U.S. this won't even be an open question. If oil production goes south, after digging holes in every wildlife preserve in the U.S., we'll probably just all start driving electric cars and burn more coal to power them. This headline in the NYT cheered me up some:

Poll Says McCain Hurts His Bid by Using Attacks

Libel, slander and mis-characterization finally not working so well? Astounding! We'll find out in November, but there's some small hope that the Republican political machine that focuses on the permanent campaign and winning at any price is breaking down some.

Hi Tom,

I think your analysis is spot on. In past elections, I've held my nose as I cast my vote; this time around, I had one hand over my mouth and the other clutching my stomach. My riding is traditionally Liberal and, not surprisingly, Geoff Regan was re-elected with a comfortable margin. What struck me as odd was the stealth nature of this election. There were very few lawn signs, no canvassers or telephone solicitations and very little in the way of campaign literature. There was also surprisingly little talk about this election within my circle of friends, many of whom are political animals. Half my Liberal friends were highly critical of Dion whereas the other half were profusely apologetic; it's a shame he couldn't connect and engage the electorate in a more positive way. I also felt a little sorry for Elizabeth May and hope she and her party can continue to gain traction going forward.

More election coverage can be found here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20081015.welxnmay1015...


Hi Paul,

Here in Kings-Hants, Scott Brison won handily. This is a traditionally Tory riding but Brison jumped to the Grits over differences with Stephen Harper's neo-liberal (a.k.a. neo-conservative) approach. Brison is a socially-progressive fiscal-conservative (and yes to our American readers those are not always considered contradictory or mutually exclusive attributes).

Agreed. I think the quality of the local candidates trumped any national or party affiliations this time round. There was little fire in anyone's belly. Like you, most gripped their bellies to cast the ballot.

Talking to a returning officer at our nearby poll and he was saying numbers were way down. This is a rural Maritime constituency where politics is still taken very very seriously. That never happens! Most would rather sell their grandmothers than not vote. (And most still vote the way Grandma does, too!)

Here's hoping the political landscape in this country changes in the next few years to be even remotely connected to the people.



Hi Tom,

I can't honestly think of a more true-blue riding than Kings-Hants. Had the Liberals ever won this seat prior to Scott crossing the floor? What is perhaps even more surprising is that Scott is openly gay and, in fact, married to his same-sex partner, a French Catholic from-away no less. It really does speak volumes about the man and the good people of Kings-Hants.


A common misconception about rural life is that it is always narrow minded and regressive.

I would say folks around here are highly traditional but hardly reactionary. It is the traditional values of fierce loyalty to kith and kin and an endearing insistence of hospitality to strangers that defines their attitudes towards life.

Scott is a smart home grown boy who has done well for himself. The fact that he has a spouse named Maxime who's a guy who speaks with a heavy French accent is neither here nor there.... Scott's family and that's all there is to it.


And Paul, you are bang on when you say Kings-Hants is true blue. MPs from this riding have always been Tory as far back as I can remember.

Here's where loyalty kicks in. Scott Brison does them proud. Besides, most of the locals think he's PM material. And from the few times that I've encountered him, I tend to agree with them that he certainly has the right stuff.

He's forthright, honest, and diligent to detail and duty. Those are the old fashioned values that count most around here.



Everything you say, Tom, is true. I have family roots in the area so I know well of what you speak (my grandmother lived in Windsor, served as the town librarian for many years and was active in local and provincial politics). To an outside observer, any one the things I mentioned, politically speaking, would seem highly implausible; but here, as you correctly point out, the qualities of the man are what truly counts and Scott's personal integrity and his record of public service are second to none.


King's County in ages past produced another home town boy who did good. Sir Robert Borden, whose picture is featured on the Canadian hundred dollar bill and who held the post of prime minister during the tumultuous years of the First World War, was born in Grand Pré, Nova Scotia in 1854.

During the Unionist coalition years (1917-1920) he returned home and served as member of parliament for the riding of Kings.


The area has already provided one leader who rendered steadfastness and steely determination during a civilization shattering crisis. The locals figure they'll just pop out another one should the need arise:-)

Looks like the need may be rising pretty fast these days.


You've set some pretty high standards, Tom. I would propose to you that Sir Robert Borden did more to secure Canada's constitutional independence from Great Britain than arguably any prime minister before or after; he was also the principal architect of the constitutional groundwork that led to the formation of the British Commonwealth. It's unfortunate that so few Canadians recognize his name or his contributions to this country and the critical role he played in securing the nationhood of our counterparts within the Commonwealth.


Any Bluenoser (slang for Nova Scotian) who has ever elbowed himself to the top of the central Canadian establishment has to be one smart and tough cookie. Ditto for Borden's day as today.

There is good reasons why his face is on the hundred dollar bill. At some level there is recognition of his contribution.


In these uncertain times, we ought to be raising the standard. I do expect much from our public officials. That's what responsible and representative government is all about.

In fact, I would argue we can no longer afford to merely expect high standards. The time has come to demand a raising of the bar. B/c the stakes are astronomical.

That's why I think yesterday's election was such a disappointment.

Good luck resetting that bar, Tom. I don't know if this would be of any interest to you, but Borden's Marfleet Lectures which he presented at the University of Toronto in October 1921 can be viewed online.

See: http://ia340937.us.archive.org/1/items/canadianconstitu00borduoft/canadi...


Thanks Paul, it's so good to have another history buff on board! Then again we live in a part of North America that is immersed in it.

Most outsiders don't know any of its story, but Nova Scotia b/c of its strategic importance was one of the most fought over pieces of territory in the 18th century. Situated on the key water routes between Europe and New England and the Caribbean, the French built a fortress to protect it (Louisbourg) and the British played hardball with the Acadians so as never to lose it. During the US War of Independence, the mother country garrisoned it to the hilt. The locals, New England planters who settled confiscated Acadian lands, were sympathetic to the rebels. London didn't mess around. The infusion of thousands of loyalists exiled from the 13 colonies secured the long term allegiance of the province.

Nova Scotia was a chief link in the building and operating of the British empire. During World Wars I & II, Halifax was the launching site of thousands of convoy flotillas that provided Britain with a vital lifeline. In an earlier era, the vast lumber yards provided masts for the British merchant marine and the coal mines of the province helped fuel the might of the British navy. Still has strategic value. Millions of Americans flying to Europe from the eastern seaboard fly directly over head unawares of what's below.

Just like the Québeçois, Je me souvien. I remember.

We may be counting on those strategic links again in the near future.

As for setting a high bar, I genuinely think we do a disservice if we don't. By this I do not mean to set our leaders and public officials up for unrealistic expectations, but accountability and transparency are vital.

One of the reasons Canadians have been spared the initial fallout of this global financial meltdown was that we've kept the standards pretty high for our banking institutions. Deregualtion didn't catch on here the same way as it did elsewhere owing to genuine conservative leanings {not the same thing as neo-liberal} that demanded more from those who hold public trust.

What is often overlooked is that it was Conservative governments in this country who gave us the National Policy, the Canadian Pacific Railway, the CBC, the Wheat Board, the first old age pensions, and first trials at unemployment insurance. There is a strong dose of Disraeli Tory idealism in the Canadian psyche if one scratched the surface.

To whom much is given, much is required.

I'm counting on these standards to make life bearable if things really turn nasty. We may all want luck setting that bar. Cheers!

Tom, there's nothing more I can add, beyond offering my full agreement. I keep thinking you might be the next great national leader to emerge from Kings-Hants. Have you considered running for political office?


Thanks Paul, have enough of a public job already... party politics would not be my cuppa tea.

How about yourself? Would you consider running?

A lot of people are down on politicians, but I tend to echo John Turner's sentiment: there is in life no higher calling than to serve the people in a public capacity. It's tough and demanding but a necessary evil so to speak. The fact that there are people out there, genuine and caring people out there, willing to do it, I give them credit for their gumption and intestinal fortitude.

I live in Three Mile Plains just outside of Windsor. You're in Halifax. If you want to get together for a coffee sometime, we'll figure out a way to link up. Cheers!


Hi Tom,

I had a minor brush with politics back in my younger days as a red Tory, but eventually grew disillusioned with my both party and politics in general (politics is much like the proverbial sausage factory; whilst the final product may be palatable, the process is seldom appetizing). That said, I have the greatest respect for those who dedicate themselves to serving the public good and who remain true to their principles. Professionally speaking, my passions are lighting design and energy efficiency, and I'm extremely grateful to be able to pursue this line of work here, most recently on behalf of Conserve Nova Scotia and Nova Scotia Power through their Small Business Lighting Solutions programme; quite honestly, I can't imagine anything more rewarding.

Good news! I love coffee and there's a full tank of gas in the Chrysler. Fire off a quick note to: paul.eldridge@ns.sympatico.ca and we can work out the details.


Credit cards at the tipping point?

Dire times are coming for consumers who hold credit cards and the banks that issue them, according to a report released Tuesday.

...Misleading practices by credit card issuers will come back to bite them, say report author Gregory Larkin and Laura Nishikawa, as uninformed consumers who wind up facing surprise interest rate hikes and fees will be more likely to default on their loans. The report concludes that Capital One is most at risk, due in part to its aggressive marketing and "fee-trapping" strategies.

"The data points to an unsustainable business model based on penalty pricing, and the company is worst-in-class by Innovest standards," the report said.

My daughter said that one of her friends got a notice from a credit card company to the effect that there was "No upper limit on the penalty interest rate."

It is not unusual to have 30% rates plus $39 overlimit plus $39 late fees for tardy payers.

For a $2000 balance the yearly effective rates can exceed 50%. If the gov't really wanted to help the common man, it would crack down on these lenders, with a simple solution -- at any point a borrower can cancel a card for a fixed 10% rate with low-rate late fees (a small percentage of the payment) until it's paid off. They could even transfer these balances to the gov't for all I care, and let the IRS collect. They already have such programs in place for taxes, and the most efficient bureaucracy in the gov't.

"at any point a borrower can cancel a card for a fixed 10% rate with low-rate late fees (a small percentage of the payment) until it's paid off."

This is the most sensible plan to help the credit card-indebted population (a large population) that I've heard yet. I think it would be a very helpful policy.

The credit card companies have been engaged in outrageous usury for way too long.

Great! If the bank hasn't thrown in the towel yet, they will after their growth model is regulated out. :)

Who needs a growth model when you're a friend of Hank's?

Hank needs it for himself and our black hole of debt: Looking at the Dow plummeting again, it seems like the steam is already out of plan B. Got some $$$$ of cash to through in again?? We are burning thru that stuff mighty fast in these days! :(

If you miss a credit card payment they may accelerate the interest they charge. Better to pay them down or at least make bimonthly online payments so the minimum payment will not be lost in the slow mail. At one of my jobs I used to program mailings of dunning letters (debt collection). I have read some of them. The terms vary from state to state according to state usury laws. We had a program to check the state mailing address then insert the text in the letter about the amount of interest the debtor was faced with for having missed a payment.

"The credit card companies have been engaged in outrageous usury for way too long."

but only because their customers are too dumb to live within their means. a lesson here, i think, for our wise leaders.

Interesting idea Paleo but what would the net result be upon the credit card companies/banks? Maybe something equivalent to the sub prime blow up that's led to the current $750 million bail out. Or maybe letting these companies push more folks toward bankruptcy might achieve the same bad result. Do we know if there are a slew of derivatives generated from these debt accounts? I have no idea myself. But I have my suspicions that this particular leg of society's debt obligations may have tentacles reaching far beyond our concepts.

Does anyone have a clear picture of the true depth of the current credit card system with respect to the economy? Every debt is owed to a lender….is it possible that this trail might lead, at least in part, to the general public? No one thought the sub prime gambit would do so and look where we are today.

As far as I know, it's all unsecured debt. So if you owe $60,000 on credit cards, you could (in theory) walk away, and all they could do is put nasty notes in your credit file. I don't think they can come and take back all those dinners at Hooters.

At least, I hope not ;)

Hmmm....Hooters. Now you got me in the mood for one of their fried grouper sandwiches Ben. The bankruptcy side of the borrower is easy to understand. But who lost the $60,000? You can say the credit card companies but exactly who are "they"?
In theory, only the mortgage companies would loose money when all the sub primes default. Funny thing though: it didn't quit work out like that. Look at the $700 billion of TAXPAYER money thrown at the problem. Look at the other 100's of billions of $'s the fed has thrown at the associated problems. Look at the trillions of $'s the various world gov't thrown at the associated problems.

I think I just read that current credit card debt is around $10 trillion. If 10% doesn't get paid back that's $1 trillion not being earned by someone. Would that loss cripple the credit market/banking system just as we saw the sub prime fiasco generated? Would it destroy much of the credit market that the tax payers are current pledging to spend so much to salvage? These are the big questions I can't answer. One thing I know for sure: you don't hear anything much about it from the gov't or the MSM. And that silence concerns me greatly. I'm sure they know the answer to my questions and thus far would rather not address them.

I think I just read that current credit card debt is around $10 trillion.

Total consumer debt in the US is around $10 trillion. Out of that around $7.5 trillion is in mortgages.
The rest is credit card debt, car loans and student loans. I would guess that credit card debt is around $1.5 trillion.


According to the latest FED release, current outstanding consumer debt at the end of 2Q2008 was $2.6 trillion:


This would include other forms of consumer debt such as automobile loans.

Outstanding mortgage debt stood at $10.6 trillion. So it is a much bigger problem. Nouriel Roubini said yesterday he expects $3.0 trillion of that to be bad. This is up from $1.0 trillion only six months ago.

By far the biggest problem, however, is the money owed by domestic financial sectors (banks, hedge funds, insurance companies, primary brokers, etc.), the outstanding balance being $16.5 trillion. This money has been borrowed and much of it used to buy stocks, bonds, credit default swaps, mortgage-backed securities and a whole plethora of other complex structured financial instruments. The values of many, if not most, of these assets have plummeted. Now here's the rub. We know how much the financial sector owes--$16.5 trillion. But we have no idea what they bought with that $16.5 trillion or what it might be worth today. The financial sector is the blackest of black boxes. So you have $16.5 trillion in liabilities and only God knows how much in assets. Can you see the enormity of the problem?

There's also $10.9 trillion of debt outstanding owed by businesses, which also could come under stress if the economy turns down.

Then there's another $2.2 trillion owed by state and local governments, many of whom are also under great financial duress and may be forced into bankruptcy.

Thanks suyog and DS.

OK...at good bit smaller then the mortgage debt. But almost as much as the latest bad mortgages number. But the bank debt DS refered to: perhaps this is where the banks/credit card companies have financed a good bit of their credit card biz. In other words, the owners of the credit card companies didn't poney up the funds to pay off the retailers...they borrow that money and pay back from the credit card payments. Thus cut the cash flow to the CC companies and cut the CF to the banks. And did the clever boys on Wall Street develop some secondary layer of investments in this system?

This is what I was alluding to should a big chunk of credit card debt default or the gov't tries to force relief for the debtors: would such right downs be another big negative on our banking system? Granted the potential isn't as big as the mortg crisis but it could perhaps offer that one last tipping point.


You might find this helpful:


Should delinquencies continue to mount, it could impact a wide swathe of credit-card holders — even those who don't have trouble paying their mortgages or managing their finances. Credit-card debt, like mortgages, is sold to investors in the form of asset-backed securities. The more consumers default on credit cards, the more these investors have to lose and, much like the situation with mortgage-backed securities, they may start shying away from these investments. As a result, banks will be less willing to extend credit to consumers.

Here's the latest delinquency figures from the FED:


That's a great chart, but it would seem that the total magnitude of loans would play a role in potential losses as well. While today's numbers are nowhere near as bad as those of '87, the level of debt is much greater so the market pain may be at least as much already.

It will be interesting to see how much worse it gets.

Well, with credit cards being an unsecured loan, the risk of non-payment is priced into the interest rates and fees. Of course, in an economic crisis any previous estimates of default rates based on creditworthiness go out the window.

Two years ago my mother in law called me with a problem. She had 25,000 in credit card debt.

She was 90 years old and judgment proof so I had her stop paying on one of her credit cards, $12,000. She's payed off $7000 of the other $13,000 so far. But not a dime to C. This week they sent us a collection letter against her estate, except she's still alive and doing fine at 92.

As for me, I'm off the Island and have been up here in Delaware for the last month. I'm doing a real fast doomer setup here as I'm not sure if my place in the Bahamas will be the place to be depending on which way things work out in the near future. So I decided to have two places set up.

I did get the new wheel barrel(replace my 1972 one) and stockpiled the garden supplies.

I feel I would rather spend the money and not need all this stuff then to need it and not be able to get it.

It's hard when I can't give an answer to someones question when they ask me why I bought something? Like I replaced all of our gardening equipment, hoes, rakes etc, with heavy duty stuff. They don't have a clue and I don't know what's going to happen in the future, I may be wrong.

The credit crisis is happening much faster then I thought and it's not looking very good.

Driving around here it's looking like about 10% of the small storefronts in the strip malls are empty now when all of them full only 4 months ago. I'm the only one I know who's spending any money right now and that's about to stop.


Good point dwcal. I'm sure all the folks who wrote those sub prime loans thought they had covered the spread from bad loans too. As with any biz venture you fail or succeed by the validity of your underlying assumptions.

I had a friend who had a retail business in Santa Fe, New Mexico and with the downturn in sales she got behind on her credit card obligations.

She said it was horrible. She said she was getting up to 30 calls a day.

After several months of that she finally liquidated her business and paid everybody off and the nightmare finally ended.

Yes, I understand they can be quite persistent. I was kidding about spending $60K at Hooters, although they have some good food and usually a ball game on the TV, so I can understand why someone would like to go there.

A couple of weeks ago, in the DB I think, we had a video of the "house cleaners" of Foreclosure Alley in Southern California. They would be taking out what looked (on camera) to be new furniture, computers, art, etc. and throwing it in the dumpster, since they were under a deadline to empty the home and could not easily give it away.

I speculated that most of that "stuff" was purchased with credit card debt, and the owners were leaving these bills behind just as surely as they were leaving their underwater mortgage behind. You don't care as much about packing up that fine art if you didn't pay for it in the first place.

This has got to be adding up, nation (world?) wide, and it appears that those of us who do pay our bills will be stuck holding the bag.


".... at Hooters, although they have some good food..."

right, the breasts are especially good.

Somebody has to get his pound of flesh...

A preview of winter?

Cold temperatures set several new record lows this weekend, including a low of 22 Saturday in downtown Pendleton that broke a 118 year-old record of 24.

Good for nat gas prices.
Bad for Al Gore...

It's flipping 83 in DC today. :O

Low natgas prices are good prices.
Most of the cerebrally capable can differentiate between weather and climate, and know that a warming climate leads to temp extremes both high and low.

Colin Powell Is Ready To Endorse

When Colin Powell turns off his TV after the final presidential debate, he will have learned everything he is going to learn about the candidates vying to succeed his former boss, George W. Bush. Powell has made it clear that he has been thinking about an endorsement for a long time but wanted to hear more from the candidates before making his choice. It now seems beyond doubt that Colin Powell will endorse Barack Obama and thereby hammer the final nail in the coffin of the Republican campaign to hold onto the White House. 

The recent ugliness of the McCain-Palin rally audiences cannot be lost on Colin Powell. And Powell is not one to ignore a 14 point lead in a New York Times poll. But most important for Powell and the press will be his explicit rejection of the Bush-McCain approach to Iraq, Iran and the rest of the world.

Powell's endorsement will be perfectly timed to dominate a news cycle or two. It will give Obama the one thing he still needs more of--credibility as Commander-In-Chief. And Sarah Palin's speechwriters will be hard pressed to come up with a condescending quip about it.

Thanks for the link. Let's hope it is true, this endorsement would put Obamas chances of winning at 95% or greater and be the final nail in the McManiac coffin.

How exactly does Obama winning improve the state of this nation? I grant that McCain winning is just more of the same so we know what that picture already looks like. But how does a Barack Obama presidency help fix what is wrong? How does a Barack Obama presidency directly address oil depletion, general resource depletion, aging infrastructure, climate change, etc.?

And please, no mumbo-jumbo for answers. Either the man has a substantive plan to address such critical issues or he does not. Claiming that he can't be any worse than the alternative is a pretty poor reason to vote for him. If that's all he has going for him, I'd rather vote for Mickey Mouse.

Real change is only going to happen via a limited number of avenues in the United States. Voting for one of the mainstream candidates is not going to cause useful change.

I sort of know what you mean, but voting for a not-mainstream candidate at this point amounts to pissing up a rope. One of these guys is going to be president, and it matters which one, even if only a little bit.

I am not one of those bedazzled by Mr. Obama, but he is so clearly the more highly qualified to attempt to keep our national shit together during the upcoming troubles.

McCain/Palin would mean the end of the Republic, in my opinion. Palin is a lunatic, and could easily become president - Mr. McCain is not really all that well. I voted for McCain in the NH primary, but I feel his choice of Palin as a running mate is a national disgrace, and an abdication of his career as an independent-minded "maverick" politician. Cynical in the extreme.

Whipping up racism, fear, and hatred just as hard as they can. If McCain/Palin loses by a huge margin, I just might feel hopeful for my nation again. If not, not.

Strange days indeed.

sgage....I was going to write in a name just to show frustration with no candidate aware of the real big issues facing our country. But in the end, I will vote for Obama because of the kind of person he appears to be and the kind of campaign he is running. How long has it been since we've seen a campaign NOT bogged down in slamming their opponent?

I'm getting quite a few Obama ads that attack McCain here. I really don't understand why. I always thought attack ads were for the underdog.

How exactly does Obama winning improve the state of this nation?

Well, he kinda looks like he could be the model for those Easter Island moai:

When things aren't going well, elect a bigger stone head! ;-)

You have said that several times over several days. What do you think Obama or whoever is elected President should do?

They should have voted against the bailout. It's evil incarnate. Either they're stupid, or they're complicit.

I'm not sure which is worse...

They are not mutually exclusive...they can be both!

After years of being down this rabbit hole here at TOD, I would have thought you would realize that the US presidency is not the real power, nor is the congress. The real power just got another 25 billion more in their accounts for free and collect interest on the back end for that investment.

They are now going to go shopping for more real value assets while we all basque in the deflationary meltdown left in the wake.

Yes, I realize that. But it plecks me off that they aren't even pretending it's a democracy any more.

I'm going to vote third party, so I can preserve my right to say "I told you so" later on.

Could this lead to Powell's rehabilitation and eventual nomination as Sec. of Defense?

Pretty sure that's the idea :-)

I hope he's headed to State. What I've read about Powell is that he has the world's most powerful Rolodex; no matter what happens anywhere in the world he knows exactly which power broker to phone to make a deal. However he doesn't have much of a personal ideology or agenda. He was keeping the lid on all kinds of foreign messes for his ungrateful bosses until he resigned, and it is no surprise that Rice and the administration have been overwhelmed since then. I trust him more than Brzezinski, who is smarter but definitely has an agenda that he is trying to impose on the world, one that can't possibly accomodate the return of Russia as a great power.

You know, I liked Powell before he became a puppet for Bush. He always seemed like a very decent, honest person. I would love to see him in the Obama cabinet somewhere.

I think the pimping for the Iraq war that he did in the run up to it haunts him terribly. I think he basically is a decent, honest person, and wishes he had paid better attention to his instincts at that time. Oh well. I think he's learned an important lesson, and would also love to see him in the cabinet.

do you suppose his part in the Army's coverup for Mai Lai haunts him as well?

I don't think nearly as well of him - I think, like McCain, he will say and do whatever it takes to advance himself - and I think his actions haven't changed much since Vietnam

I'd forgotten about that, and you do have a good point. It's hard to know what's in a politician's head. Especially a good-soldier-polititian.

I don't trust him. "Colin" sounds kind of Irish to me.

I don't trust him. He's a big reason the Iraq war happened. It was Powell who convinced a lot of the reluctant Democrats to go along with it.

And he really should have known better, what with the "Powell doctrine" and all.

Of course he knew. He was just obeying orders. I'm of the opinion that no one in the military should ever be allowed into any position in civilian life. I don't want trained killers from Iraq on my police force; I don't want them in Congress or running for any public office. And now that the military seems to have figured out how to dehumanize them even further - to up the "willingness to kill" ratios - I don't want them voting, shopping next to me, driving on the same streets or programming TV and radio. It was officers at Powell's level that bulldozed the child holding the bread, that covered up My Lai. Yes, I'm painting with a very broad brush, but our society is already way to militarized and we don't need to lock ourselves into a path that makes it ever worse. Blind obedience and authoritarianism are the last things we need.

cfm in Gray, ME

Iraq wasn't the first time Powell was involved in official lies - his involvement in the US Army cover-up for the Mai Lai Massacre set a precedent for these sorts of lies.

I don't want him anywhere near an Obama White House. A little more truth-in-government is what I'm hoping (but not really expecting) for.

that said, I wouldn't be sorry to see Powell endorse Obama - anything to get the neocons out of control...

"And now ... the military seems to have figured out how to dehumanize them even further - to up the "willingness to kill" ratios..."
I believe that this sort of manipulation leads to a higher level of psychological dysfunction among veterans .... along with having fought in a war that the country, if not repudiating, is still not very enthusiastic about.

Paul Krugman linked to a calculated risk post who have a nice chart of U.S. retail sales -- it ain't gonna be a nice Christmas for the retailers: (I think that's probably for the best, Christmas just has a little too much mindless consumerism for my taste.)

It's interesting that this data shows that growth in retail sales has been declining since 2005ish, which is around when oil prices started rising more quickly. (They broke $40/bl about mid-2004.) Whatever the cause, it kind of looks like our current economic crisis has sources that have nothing to do with the most recent chain of events, i.e., it looks like some things have been declining for a few years now.

I was just paging through the September data from the bureau of labor statistics on my lunch break. I found this, which kind of amazed me: manufacturing jobs have been in nearly constant decline for the last decade, and now service sector jobs are declining as well:

So it's true we don't make anything in this country any more.

For Christmas, my father promised us, a punch in the nose, we were always happy we didn't get anything for Christmas.
All these decades later, I still cherish the present I recieved, can't be lost, can't be broken, and makes me chuckle still.

I think this year the most desired present will be "a lump of coal".

Except to Totoneila. He wants a lump of sh... Um, O-NPK.

There is always room for expansion in criminal/vice industries, so those who are being expelled from the service sector shouldn't be concerned -- they will just need to adapt to different forms of service.

"So it's true we don't make anything in this country any more."

Statements like that are just plain silly & false. I live in South Louisiana and a boat manufacturer up the bayou recently delivered a 150' fast offshore supply boat that will work in the Gulf. They are building another one as I type this. Although they are not saying where it will be delivered it is assumed that this one is going overseas. In the other direction the port with direct access to the Gulf is filled with cranes and projects as are most the ship yards along the Gulf coast.

Just what do you call all those auto plants in the South anyway?

In light of the relatively recent phenomenom of completely turning the management of the USA to grifters, the McCain nuclear article up top is interesting. I am not advocating his nuclear plan, but in the worst case scenario 15000 high paying jobs are created, 280 billion of taxpayer money is spent and the USA has all these nuclear plants. Paulson can drop this much in a couple days and he is back at the cashier for another cheque with NOTHING accomplished. The contrast with China at this point is stark-the Chinese market is down 64% and this has done nothing to stop their plans, economic, energy and otherwise.

The problem is that many new nukes cannot be built (safely & economically) in the USA.

A Dept. of Energy study examined the issue and concluded that the USA could build 8 new nukes in a decade (skilled manpower was the limiting factor).

I add a bit of Murphy and suggest 6 or 7 new nukes in a decade, and then speed up the build rate. We SHOULD build this new nukes; we SHOULD NOT expect them to be more than a small silver BB for 15+ years.

Best Hopes,


My questions / thoughts / opinions:

1. Are Dept. of Energy estimates as "good" as EIA estimates?

2. Do these assume BAU? What would be possible under emergency, WWII-type mobilization?

3. What about small, modular nuclear reactors (<< 100MWt ), e.g. Toshiba 4S or Hyperion nuclear "battery"? The idea behind them is that they can be factory manufactured to exploit economies of scale, and shipped pre-fab'd to sites where they are to be used for process heat, hydrogen production, electricity, district heating, etc. I would expect such standardization and mass production would represent least possible cost for manufacture, installation, permits / approvals and financing.

If we (society) write nuclear technology off as a small silver BB based on past assumptions, we could be making a big mistake. The energy density of nuclear vs. renewables has a huge impact on construction material inputs per unit power output. One credible estimate pegs nuclear at an order of magnitude less steel/concrete for each continuous MW delivered. That must be a BIG factor to consider when looking at building an alternative energy supply infrastructure during a time of crashing energy supplies with which to build it.

I think we need to look at nuclear technologies with many possible innovative design configurations beyond the multi-billion-dollar behemoths of the previous generation that took years to approve and construct. I think it is possible nuclear could represent a lot more than a silver BB if we give the advanced science and engineering a fair hearing despite the anti-nuclear political environment. I have a hunch we'll need everything we've got over the next 20 years...

What would be possible under emergency, WWII-type mobilization?

More unsafe, uneconomic nuclear reactors.

See a repeat of WHOOPS, TVA, Zimmer, several times over. Tens/hundreds of billions wasted. Money better spent elsewhere.

construction material inputs per unit power output. One credible estimate pegs nuclear at an order of magnitude less steel/concrete

Beer can aluminum vs. aviation grade aluminum. Both aluminum, yes, but VERY different resources.

Wind turbines can use beer can grade materials (except gears perhaps, although they just need good quality steel, not landing gear/surgical grade steel).

Nukes require aviation grade material. The very highest quality control, equal to aviation quality (nuke QA mimics aviation QA).

Nukes are a follow-up, second wave alternative AFTER our Rush to Wind and pumped storage.

Best Hopes for a Rush to Wind and a safe, economical build-out of new nukes,


I don't know what the point of these posts are. Production cost of nuclear grade steel/concrete isn't that much different in cost than regular grade steel/concrete except nonutilization of scrap. You just document the sources and the pedigree. Most of the increased cost is the value add of alloy production and forging. Then you're closer to talking about the finished product anyways.

2. Do these assume BAU? What would be possible under emergency, WWII-type mobilization?

France's nuclear buildout is illustrative. We likely wouldn't get much done in 10 years, but get a whole lot done in 30.

We could probably build a whole lot of nukes in fifteen years if we were willing to do away with the zero risk tolerance mentality of nuclear power production. I'd be fine with that as I see the risks of nuclear power accidents comperable with the risks of coal power production anyways, but no way is that going to happen. Nuclear is still very scary to most people.

What about small, modular nuclear reactors (<< 100MWt ), e.g. Toshiba 4S or Hyperion nuclear "battery"? The idea behind them is that they can be factory manufactured to exploit economies of scale, and shipped pre-fab'd to sites where they are to be used for process heat, hydrogen production, electricity, district heating, etc. I would expect such standardization and mass production would represent least possible cost for manufacture, installation, permits / approvals and financing.

Nice idea. First order of business is to design a modular reactor, which means it can't be a light water reactor because they dont scale down well without using highly enriched uranium. So that means you got to spend several years designing this new reactor and then spend a whole lot more time fighting with the NRC to get the damn thing licensed.

I've got hopes for fluid fuel reactors eventually being modular, 50-100 MW mass produced models that have low costs, but its decades away from actual deployment and you'd have to have some friends in politics to pretty much destroy the NRC as it is now.

I have a hunch we'll need everything we've got over the next 20 years...

Well, yeah, we've got a whole lot of coal still.

Japanese complaints about carbon trading affecting their new LNG plant in Australia are both garbled and predictable. I should explain the gas will be pumped 800km from a neighbouring State (W.A.) to a city (Darwin) based LNG processing plant and sea terminal.

For starters the scheme will only affect emissions on Australian soil (eg from gas cleanup) not exported. Yet ironically if there was an international carbon tax LNG would get an advantage over coal. The Australian cap and trade scheme will run as a fixed tax for the first two years. At say $20 per tonne of CO2 domestic coal will be penalised about $50 a tonne and LNG $25. Relative to pre-ETS prices the hit on LNG is much smaller than coal, yet export customers won't pay it.

However the Japanese depend on a lot of imported thermal coal for electrical generation and coking coal to smelt iron ore they also get from Australia. The higher cost of LNG means it is unlikely to displace that coal dependence. I see they are looking into 'biosequestration' near where the gas comes onshore, meaning unverifiable tree planting offsets in some remote area. Fearful of trade cutbacks Australia's gullible politicians will then probably allow inflated deductions.

All of this carbon reduction program was initiated years ago. Yet the Wall St crisis only weeks old is being used as an excuse to stall it. This makes me angry with finance industry fat cats; they blackmailed their way into bailouts and now they want to blackmail their way out of carbon cuts.

Avoiding A Blackout is an interesting article. It's not a bunch of supposed kooks talking about permanent electrical blackouts but is instead written for hard headed businessmen talking about the current sad state of the overall US electric grid and what will be needed to restore it to safe and proper functioning.

It's amusing (to me) that the business world is becoming interested in the exact same problem that Duncan predicted in his Olduvai scenario.

Thanks greyzone. Excellent article, even if it is in the trashy IBD. It's good to see you are still posting here.

Interestingly "opposition from well-funded environmental groups" is what they consider the biggest roadblock to getting the grid up to date.

Like Deffeyes says, "their hearts are in the right place ..."

Hello TODers,

Good read from ScientificAmerican:

Go Ahead, Say It: Shit--There, Now We Can Seriously Discuss Sanitation

What inspired this book? Why toilets?

It was kind of a gradual process. … I was introduced to Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak of Sulabh [a non-governmental organization devoted to sanitation] in India. He was a Brahmin [member of the highest Hindu caste] who devoted his life to saving untouchables [the lowest caste] from the horrible job of cleaning dry latrines with their bare hands.

Right now, 2.6 billion people have no toilet, not even a bucket. That's four in 10. And diarrhea kills more children under five than TB, HIV and malaria combined...
As posted many times before [and now echoed by Pres. Clinton]: I suggest we start O-NPK recycling. It also can greatly extend depleting and ever more costly I-NPK to grow our food.

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

Toto... Glad to see you here.

Are you suggesting that the shit should hit the field before the shit hits the fan?

LOL! Yep, it would help greatly,IMO. Imagine how quickly 'The Governator' could balance the CA budget if the entire state went to full-on O-NPK recycling and minimal use of potable water. All those that can't bear the thought of giving up their porcelain Throne would quickly be on the move to Cascadia and other areas.

I just wish my Asphalt Wonderland would move first to wholesale recycling--it might reduce our Overshoot and the resulting machete' moshpits when we move to re-enact 'Asphaltistan'.

Instead, the frenzy is in full force to plant the winter lawns at resorts, golf courses, and the upscale malls and neighborhoods, plus the carwashes are busy removing a micro-layer of dust so that people can proudly parade their gleaming chrome penis with the currently reduced gasoline prices.

Sadly, it will be a real hassle swinging my Excalibur, the 'Mazda Miata Machete' fast enough so that it goes Zoom, Zoom, when I am older and it is 115 degrees F in the shade. Hopefully, my much smaller and lighter dagger 'RAV4Blood' will be effective first as I scream my battlecry-->You got it,Toyota! /rant off

TED SPREAD is now at 4.40. Up from the open of 4.30 and the low of 4.20. Seems to me, that there is a chance to see a new all time high.
Scary stuff!


Hello Euro,

I had no idea what the heck you were talking about so I wiki'd it:

TED Spread

On October 10, 2008, the TED spread reached another new high of 465 basis points. The longterm average of the TED has been 30 basis points.

Scary indeed!

spudw: Essentially this means, the money that was loaned by the tax payer, to bailout Wallstreet, is being charged intrest, FROM THE BORROWER TO THE LENDER

Thats right, Mr & Mrs tax payer, not only WON'T you see a return on your INVESTMENT but you will be charged a fee to LEND your money to the BANKS who BORROWED it from YOU!

The term "Rubbing salt into ones wounds" doesnt begin to describe this situation.

"Peeling someones skin off and dropping them into the ocean" approaches, but not by much.

Might as well kiss that money goooood bye!

A fed reserve chairman and a wallstreet banker are sitting on a park bench, a beautiful girl walks by,,,
The banker remarks "Boy I would like to screw that".
And the Fed chairman says "Outta what"?

Tap...tap...Tap..hello??? is this thing on??? (crickets chirping) creeck, creeck, creeck

My version of "Imagine"

Apologies to John Lennon's Estate:

Imagine there's no banking
It's easy if you try
No savings & loans
No credit unions either
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no credit
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to lend or borrow
And no interest too
Imagine all the people
Living without debt. . .

You may say it's a nightmare
But it's where we're headed
I'm afraid someday you'll join us
And cash & barter will be the only way. . . .

The Dow closed down over 730 points today, making it down about 800 for the week (and it's only Tuesday), effectively wiping out most of Friday's rally. 4 trillion dollars doesn't buy you much of a rally these days.

Gimme more margin!

Hello TODers,

I wonder when the Donald will start quacking like a duck for his taxpayer bailout? Trump Entertainment [stk symbol: TRMP] has plummeted from [May 30,'06 @ $22.33/share] to penny-stock status around 58 cents.

I suggest he moves the 'Apprentice' tv show to a farm to quickly find himself an expert permaculturist plus paying Tiger Woods an appearance fee to drive a farm tractor. His attractive daughter would look terrific in her 'Daisy Dukes' while wheelbarrowing some fresh chicken litter. I tell ya-->it would be a ratings bonanza!

Then he could tell them 'You're Fired!'.

(Btw, he could use the tractor to work on his combover.)

He has fired right himself to hell. He is bankrupt! Kaputt!

A good harrowing might get the job done ;-)

Why not? The auto loan industry is lining up for the handouts. Basically, the government just rang the dinner bell, and every indigent company in the world is going to be jostling for a place at the feeding trough.

There is a heavy doomerish mood over at Finacial$ense today:

Losers in the Casino of Paper Money


The failure of our credit based capital markets and our democratic process is symptomatic of the changes taking place on our planet. The bankers’ system of paper money has so undermined all commercial activity along with our political institutions that the flaws of both are now obvious to all.

The bankers’ system of credit and paper money began in England in 1694, was moved to the US in 1913 and from there spread to the rest of the world, much like STDs. Debt and worthless money like sexually transmitted diseases are unintended results of initially pleasurable activity, in this case, economic expansion.

Unfortunately, there is no penicillin that can cure our ailing economy; and the ones responsible, the bankers, are mistakenly hoped by many to have the answers. They don’t. They made the problems and will only make them worse. Wait and see.

At the end of eras, institutions are found incapable of providing the solutions and answers they once did. Capitalism, which drove economic expansion for 250 years, is now stumbling and has fallen on its own sword, debt, which it once used to enslave others; and, democracy, previously the hope of mankind has become a caricature of the hope it once promised.


The end of eras are always succeeded by the beginning of another. Endings, however, are meant to clear away the old in order to make way for the new. We are seeing the collapse of that which is familiar. It has been an extraordinary era and its ending will be no less so.

Buckminster Fuller in his introduction to The Critical Path in 1981 wrote:

Twilight of the World’s Power Structures

"Humanity is moving ever deeper into crisis—a crisis without precedent.

First, it is a crisis brought about by cosmic evolution, irrevocably intent upon completely transforming omnidisintegrated humanity from a complex of around-the-world, remotely deployed-from-one-another, differently colored, differently credoed, differently cultured, differently communicating, and differently competing entities into a complete integrated, comprehensively interconsiderate, harmonious whole.

Second, we are in an unprecedented crisis because cosmic evolution is also irrevocably intent upon making omni-integrated humanity omnisuccessful, able to live sustainingly at an unprecedentedly higher standard of living for all Earthians than has ever been experienced by any;

..that humanity now—for the first time in history—has the realistic opportunity to help evolution do what it is inexorably intent on doing—converting all humanity into one harmonious world family and making that family sustainingly, economically successful."

In 1981, Fuller predicted our present crisis. He also predicted its successful outcome. We are now in the crisis he predicted. You will not survive by hanging onto the old. You will survive by letting go.

Some of that is not unlike what Martin Luther King said:

I am convinced that the universe is under the control of a loving purpose and that in the struggle for righteousness man has cosmic companionship.

Martin Luther King, "Pilgrimage to Nonviolence," Christian Century, April 13, 1960


My brother sent me the link to the new Zeitgeist addendum movie:


I find it better than the original as he steers clear of some of the more controversial items and focus on 'Money and Power'.

The first half is mostly about our Money system and its power structure.

The second half is about a proposed utopian replacement system.

I am interested in people's thoughts on this utopian system - can such a system exist(star trek like)?

My 2 cents is that there would always be the need for bartered exchange (assume we kill the debt engine). And, in a bartered, resource based economy - I can't see it being much larger than a local system and definitely unlikely to support the populations we have.


Anyone heard anything about this yet:

Harvard`s Black Silicon: 100 to 500 Times More Powerful Than Old Solar Cells

Kept in secret until yesterday, a newly appeared company, named SiOnyx, unveils an invention of some Harvard researchers, that is going to revolutionize the whole industry. Harvard has been studying their “black silicon” for almost ten years, but nothing has come out of their lab, due to internal policies regarding the output of their discoveries to commercial companies.Now, SiOnyx has the exclusive rights to commercialize the invention.

Here's a more indepth article:


Here's what the surface of black silicon looks like under a microscope:

See article here:


Makes sense to me to have a varied surface to absorb light of varied frequencies.

Good luck to them.

Let's hope they carefully recycle the sulphur hexafluoride gas:

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, SF6 is the most potent greenhouse gas that it has evaluated, with a global warming potential of 22,200 times that of CO2 when compared over a 100 year period--SF6 is very stable (for countries reporting their emissions to the UNFCCC, a GWP of 23,900 for SF6 was suggested at the third Conference of the Parties: GWP used in Kyoto protocol).[2] Its mixing ratio in the atmosphere is lower than that of CO2 about 6.5 parts per trillion (ppt) in 2008 versus 380 ppm of carbon dioxide, but has steadily increased (from a figure of 4.0 parts per trillion in the late 1990s)[3]. Its atmospheric lifetime is 3200 years.
I wonder if the sour crude & sour natgas extractors of sulfur will hoard their stockpiles even more to get the maximum price. Recall that fifteen-fold price increase in a very short timeframe.

SF6, AFAIK, is only used for high voltage electrical switchgear & transformers. It prevents arcing due to humidity in the air.


I think I read something in sciencenews yesterday. Sounds like it may be useful for detectors, and displays. Best case for PV would be a modest improvement in efficiency, the current models don't reflect all that much light. But the main issue for PV is cost, as well as fieldlife. You clearly can't be 100 times as efficient as a 15% efficient solar cell, so that claim is bogus (or taken from a different spec). Note that things like detectors and displays could pay a price per square meter that would be prohibitive for PV, so we don't know if this will be usable for energy generation (assuming it is useful for anything at all).

SEC Agrees to Accounting Shift Sought by U.S. Banks

Banks in limited cases may account for so-called perpetual preferred securities as debt, letting them wait to write down their value, SEC Chief Accountant Conrad Hewitt wrote yesterday to Financial Accounting Standards Board Chairman Robert Herz. Hewitt's interpretation can be used immediately in valuing the securities, which are issued without maturity dates.

Securities? Debts? What's the difference?

Basically, the banks are hiding huge undeclared losses on their books. Because of that, no one knows who is solvent and who is not. This is what is causing the credit markets to freeze up.

The banks begged the FASB (Financial Accounting Standards Board) to delay the new accounting rules, so they could continue to hide the toxic crap on their books. The FASB said no, so the banks went to the SEC to get them to overrule the FASB.

So the banks got what they wanted. They can keep hiding the losses. People still won't know who's solvent and who's not. The credit markets will stay frozen.

For some reason, the government is doing everything it possibly can to keep people from seeing how troubled the banks really are. The inescapable conclusion is that they must be worse than we're even imagining. Trust is essential in finance. Paulson seems to think that "Trust me! I'll take care of everything" should be good enough. It's not, especially considering Paulson's (and Bernanke's) track record in this crisis.

Whoever the posters here have been blaming oil/gas selloff and that US equities are outperforming Europe due to our 'plunge protection team', please step forward.

Either there is:
a)no such thing
b)they are idiots
c)they are waiting to see the whites of the markets eyes before pulling the trigger
d)they have been in there 'protecting' but the markets guns are bigger than theirs.

I vote a) (second vote would be b)

Note: I am aware such a 'team' exists in currencies, for good historic reason. But not in stocks.
Note 2: 95% of the most volatile days in market in last 5 years have come in since addition of SEC ban on short selling. Dozens if not hundreds of hedge funds are being liquidated - the doors just aren't large enough. I expect tomorrow and Friday will also have 10%+ daily ranges...

I vote d)

They had a meeting yesterday, but the most recent public statement I can find is here.

Bush specifically referred to and praised the Working Group by name yesterday then introduced its two key members Bernanke and Paulson. At the very least it seems their recent press release takes credit for the bail-out plan.

The press-release timing right at the point many traders though they were intervening suggests to me that they may have wanted to create the impression they were doing something whether they were or not.

"They had a meeting yesterday"

So the market crashed today. With friends like these...

Leanan - that is FRBs "Working Group", not the "Plunge Protection Team" which supposedly buys 10,000 lots of SP Futures when market is going down to stop/slow its descent, etc. Though one would think with all the other ammunition listed on your link, it wouldn't be TOO much of a stretch for them to announce a guarantee of 10% a year on everyones retirement account.

What is that famous quote - 'you can't solve a problem with the same thinking that got you into it'? Or some such.

No, it's the plunge protection team.

I don't think anyone ever said exactly what the PPT did.

They are 2 different entities -at least as much as the financial conspiracy sites indicate. While there is a Working Group, there is no evidence that they intervene in equity markets or gasoline markets (which has often been suggested here). Those who believe that stocks and oil are manipulated for the election blah blah attribute this to the PPT 'arm' of the working group. I just don't believe that - not that it matters other than credibility. If such a team does exist, I suggest now is the time.

e) they are shorting the market massively and covering their tracks very well. Paulson has the credibility of Pinnochio IMO.


on friday , i believe it was ,a key analyst on cnbc during one of the early 600+ point changes up in 4 minutes is my memory- exclaimed ' surely that's not just the PPT'; they then switched over quickly to a different camera/analyst.

so d.

also a drumbeat poster said PPT was referred to on Bloomberg- i believe towards end of the week.

Actually, the shit should hit the fan before hitting the field. Too much manure in one place will burn the vegetation below it; additionally, too much in one place prevents the plants from getting any sun. Having cleaned up behind two horses for 14 years, I speak with authority!

Although it may come to using municipal solid waste as fertilizer, it must be recongined that MSW concentrates heavy metals which then are uptaken by the plants.

With all the new technology coming out for airport detection systems I'm sure waste dumps could sort out aluminium, lead, copper, phosphors, radioactives and so on. My local garbage collection doesn't provide for separate waste streams, hence I'm accumulating CFL bulbs, printer cartridges etc not knowing what to do with them.

Put it all in a big container and label it "TIME CAPSULE" inside leave a note explaining the religious artifacts were considered holy relics in your era.

That ought to mess with their heads, and you get a good laugh out of it now.

"Too much manure will burn the vegetation below it."

Absolutely will. Thats why one need a good chain harrow. You hook your team (or small IH 140) to it and drag your fields. Breaks up the manure piles,scatters it over a wide area,allow the sun to destroy the worm eggs within the manure.

All around goodness. A good chain harrow is a very nice tool to have.

I have explained this to horse people and cattle people but they just get a glazed look in their eyes. The cattle and horse then graze the pasture down to the short stuff and thereby ingest the worm eggs sitting on the grass stems.

Land management is not that high tech.

In the fall you scatter grass seed on the pasture and the animals 'trample' it in the soil. Voila...no cultipacker necessary.
Wise men scatter square bales with viable seeds within and gain new forage growth thereby. Simple, no?

Then you want to seed your pasture with some Keeneland Clover. That fixes all the nitrogen you would need. Again just a medium size PTO drive 3pt hitch mounted cyclone seeder is all thats required. Pull the chain harrow behind it if you like. A small pull along disk set straight works good too.


DJIA -733.08 !!!

Syria Seeing a Decline in its Domestic Petroleum Production

Syria expects production of 385,000 bpd in 2008.


In 2007 Syria was estimated to have average production of "446 thousand barrels per day" -- EIA.


Syria is trying to open more land to exploration and has negotiated with Russia for natural gas supplies. In 2009 Syria might need to import oil.

Syrian oil production peaked in 1996 at about 585,000 bpd.

World recession fears mount

"The decline will be deep and protracted. It has already started. Nowhere is the economic house in greater disorder than Euroland, although some may argue that Japan is a bigger mess."


re: "depressed canadian oil giants ripe for takeover"

a quick calculation of the market value of talisman's reserves says about $ 12/ boe proven. if you have some extra cash around.... and you dont have to buy the whole company.

edit, if you add in the debt, that comes up to $17.5/boe

I am posting this comment which I read in a farmers forum a bit ago.
Here it is:

"I might be venting a little here but after today's price decline in commodities, we are looking at a farm crisis that is going to make the eighties look like a party. I have a feeling that we can complain, whine and @#&^%% all we want and it will fall on deaf ears in Washington because it pails in comparison to the Wall Street fiasco. This time, we in agcriculture will have to survive without goverment intervention (Which some have been wanting all along). You wont be able to sell your equipement fast enough to get out. Inputs have got to come down to levels not seen since the late nineties to be profitable in ag for 09". I for one will not buy anything until that happens or commodities come back up substantually. There is just to much risk in forward booking this year. Thanks for letting me vent."

Airdale I've posted a few times on how inflated farmland prices are. This is another bubble thats going to burst. A lot of if is from money being poured in by hedge funds so we can expect this farmland to start going for firesale prices soon.

This will of course impact the ability of all farmers ability to borrow since land is part of the collateral.

On top of this I fully expect Oil prices to experience a strong return fairly soon right now I'm estimating 160 by December 2008.

In any case even if I'm off a bit I think a full blown farming crisis is in the works for 2009.

In one area I'm looking at moving Oregon I've noticed that the farming has focused on high value food items such as berries that are shipped by air around the world. Along with things like Easter Lilies and Christmas trees. We can expect these markets to tank going forward.
Also for Oregon its a still a big lumber area so its getting hit by the housing crisis.

Overall I expect Oregon to experience a pretty serious crisis as its agricultural and lumber industries go down hill.

Eventually of course since the land in Oregon is good it will rebound as localization takes hold and it has good ports to get food esp dry foodstuffs shipped around the world but this is a ways away.


You and T. Boone are pretty much on the same page.

I see in the story linked above he says:

"It's temporary, I guarantee that,'' Pickens said of the price drop in Chicago Tuesday. "This time next year [oil] will be back to $150 a barrel."

You and Pickens are brave men making such bold predictions in light of everything that's going on.

But to the person betting against Pickens I'd only ask: "Where do you want the body sent?"

As I wrote in this hasty rant 3 weeks ago, the short selling ban and other rule changes will cause massive volatility in this market - an unintended consequence (and also peak oil to be in the past tense). SAC, which runs $14 billion or so and typically accounts for 4% of US stock exchange volume is 100% in cash. Many other of the behemoth hedge funds are doing the same (John Paulson runs $35 billion and is largely in cash). It seems Hank Paulsons sentiment that was related to Dick Fulds colleague in an email in yesterdays 'WSJ' 'Hank wants to kill the bad HFnds + heavily regulate the rest' has also had unintended consequences -forced liquidations for many, and sit on sidelines for many. Just minor headaches for the rest. I wonder if/when the history books are written what % of the blame will fall on Alan Greenspan for opening up the easy credit spigot at a time when world net energy was peaking and how much will fall on Hank Paulson for changing the music too fast while the ballroom was filled with elephants. Less leverage is a good thing, if we can make it through the gauntlet first.

Large-scale Iranian Air force exercise simulates attack on Israel, Oct 15, 2008

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the drill beginning Thursday, Oct. 16 in northern Iran, is Tehran’s rejoinder to Israel’s big aerial maneuver last June.

According to Iranian media, the entire range of Iran's fighter fleet will take part, including US-made F-4, F-5, F-7 and F-14 fighters and domestic Saegheh fighters. Mid-air refueling will be provided by Boeing 707 aerial tankers.

The Iranian Air force also aims at deploying more than 100 warplanes for the exercise, matching the number Israel used in its maneuver four months ago.

Tehran has timed this large-scale drill for just three weeks before the US presidential election on Nov. 4, in response to speculation rife in the West that Israel may use the window between the US election and the swearing-in of the new president in January for an attack on Iran’s nuclear installations.

My guess is that either Israel attacks Iran's nuclear facilities before the US election on Nov 4 or else will not attack.

Why Israel will hit Iran soon, Oct 15, 2008

I suspect that Israel will launch an attack against Iran's nuclear facilities not later than one week before the U.S. presidential election.

I'm led to my conclusion by a number of facts that are probably not in dispute: Israel has good reason to fear a nuclear-armed Iran, and is unlikely to let it happen. Israel has previously attacked nuclear facilities in Iraq and Syria. There is no reason to believe that it will not do so in Iran. The only question is when such an attack is likely to occur.

Taking everything in to consideration the danger of and attack on Iran is probably code red from now until after the new President is sworn in.

Given the fact that Mcain is behind in the polls I continue to feel that a pre-election attack any day now is highly probable.

If Mcain wins then we will probably have one a bit later.

Understand that three things need to happen if the US decides to effectively enter into a long term war of occupation in central Asia.

They need to eliminate Iran and they need to institute the draft and they need a willing president.

Attacking before the election then having Bush institute the draft as a lame duck president meets all of these criteria. Assuming that the US will go with Mcain instead of taking a chance on Obama if we are at war.

Regardless of the reasons behind the pushing down of oil prices its a pretty safe bet that they are starting to reach their lows and I saw and earlier post stating that Iran really needed 90 dollar oil prices I think thats high but the current prices are quite painful for them.

Assuming no war we can still expect a price rebound and Iran to profit from it.
The point is the price of oil is right or close to as good as its going to get to support a spike in prices from and attack on Iran.

On the economic side control is in place to deal with the economic blow back and most people agree that we are heading for the next great depression anyway so and attack on Iran primarily changes the timing not the final result.

Will it happen who knows if it does not then we should all be thankful.

great! now you got me all scared again. I just got used to the stock market roller coaster.

In order to go into Iran there needs to be a preparation of the US public, especially those who might object. Do you remember the behavior of National Public Radio and the New York Times prior to the invasion of Iraq? No, the lack of propaganda preparation is a sign that it's been taken off the agenda (for now).

That kind of preparation would imply that we were the ones going in, but we are supposed to be surprised by Israel's preemptive attack.

Don't worry-Chimpy says the money given to Wall Street will come back even bigger and better-the cheque is in the mail http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aE.0UWHCQuck&refer=home


Are you around? I saw this notice and thought of your idea for a more formal (scientific) bio-char/terra preta experiment.

I think a lot of people are asking: how do I navigate through this mess? do i grow garden? do i raise cattle? What should I do? and rightly concerned. but a direction is what they want. so what is it? what direction should they take?

There are many possible futures, some more likely than others. Unless you are independently wealthy, you have to live with one foot in both worlds - the existing one - and the new paradigm to come (which we don't know what it is yet, other than lower standard of living on average if there remain 6.8 billion people, and less surplus energy).

So what you can do for sure is change your mind set. Try to find things to do that you enjoy that don't require travel, money or energy. Reducing your desires does every bit as much to increase your 'wealth' than does increasing possessions.

I know a great deal about peak oil and human nature (meaning typical human responses to various stimuli). I've decided the best plan for me is to live a barbell strategy - on one end live for today - enjoy all the things that humans can enjoy - your list is different than mine. On the other is to prepare for the future, the way I see it. That means preparing myself, my community, my region, and the world for whats ahead. Preparing 'yourself' is much easier -writing on theoildrum (in addition to learning from the community) is my small piece of trying to steer then entire planetary ship - but I'm increasingly spending more time on things within 50 miles of where I live.

I can't give you specific recommendations like 'buy gold' or 'raise cattle' because I don't know who you are or what your situation is - growing a garden will be a good decision in almost any future scenario. A)it takes you away from hustle and bustle and gets you back to the earth for an hour or so a day, B)it reduces your dependence on system wide failure of food delivery system, were that to occur C)it allows to learn at and become skilled at something real - so many of the jobs in our world are just trading paper for something of fluff and D)it will slow down your brain at the margin, meaning alot of other options (after a while) become less attractive.

Good luck - the biggest advantage is to be psychologically prepared - you need to answer what that means to you personally, well...personally..;-)

Very good points Nate. In particular the psychological preparation. The details run the whole spectrum of lifestyles out there so, in the end, each has to find their particular course. But those decisions can only be best made with clarity of thought.

I hadn't thought about it for quit a while but long ago I was a firearms instructor. Marksmanship training was always easy: I could train someone, who never held a weapon before, to be sufficient in self defense in just a few hours with a few hundred rounds. But long before we would get to the range I would have extensive interviews with potential students. As you might guess many were not psychologically prepared for such responsibility and, more importantly, the emotional repercussions of using deadly force. I would guess that I accepted at most half of the applicants for actual training. (an aside: women were typically more emotionally prepared then men IMHO). Too many had either poor preconceived notions of what they where attempting or had not given any serious thought to the matter. Your comment shines a light on what I’ve noticed: we see the same parallel with PO. Think back on so many of the responses we've seen on TOD which indicate a similar disconnect with reality often based upon emotional miscues. Your point is applicable to every person out there.

Great! Now we don’t have to chat about all the “what ifs” anymore. Thanks Nate.

What direction?

I think when you're starting out it's best to go with something small and easy. Not cattle first, get a rabbit. When you've tried that successfully, breeding them feeding them, then go up to a goat, etc. Or fixing things yourself, start small; a bicycle basket with holes can be mended with wire, or try sewing some leather that is broken, like a dog leash. The more you do the more sure of yourself you'll be.

Hello TODers,

Looks like another potentially ugly day on global stock markets:

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso kept up pressure on the United States to inject more cash into its troubled banks on Thursday, saying collapsing global stock markets were a sign that Washington had not done enough to build confidence.

Tokyo's Nikkei share average .N225 fell 11.4 percent on Thursday and the government said it was monitoring the world's second-largest economy for signs of strain from the stock market slump.

European markets still open as of this moment, but on the downswing:

Britain's blue chip index fell 3 percent on Thursday, led lower by energy and banking stocks, as fears of a global recession and sliding commodity prices forced equity investors to rush for the exit.

Every time I hear the word "confidence" it makes me think of men running "confidence games" that formed the basis for "con men".

To me it is not reassuring to have a significant aspect of our economy based on "confidence", and I doubt that any amount of money will fix that anyway. Transparency of holdings and operations, simplicity of instruments, separation of the various types of finance companies, down-scaling of company size, and low margin with mark-to-market operation of the investment markets would seem like a good start.

I agree Paleo...it's not to reassuring. But I think it's a very critical factor. Who would buy stock in an existing company or IPO if you weren't confident the company would succeed. Who would buy into any investment fund if you weren’t confident in its management? Who would even buy a US bond if you weren’t confident in the ability of our gov't to repay the loan to you?

This confidence factor has been bugging me ever since Bush et al started all the chatter about the economy being on the verge of collapsing if the bail out wasn't approved TODAY!!!! Now, almost a month later, even with the bail out approved, no concrete steps have been taken to begin to fix the system with that $700 billion. The Fed has been throwing money into the system but it's difficult to tell if it really had that much positive effect. I remember when the politicians and MSM would jump all over anyone who said anything "to talk the market (economy) down". Maybe I missed that story but has anyone questioned that a factor, at least partially, in the plunge in the market may have resulted as much from the very negative words of most of our political leaders?

Put another way, if a public company, regardless of how reasonable its balance sheet might look, were subjected to the same amount of negative headlines as the US economy was from our officials how would expect the public confidence in that company be shaped. Again, I'm not saying we didn't have some serious problems owing to some horrible policies. But how much better might Wall Street and the financial systems be doing right now if the public had not been intentionally pushed into a panic to support the bail out.