DrumBeat: November 2, 2008

Saudi Aramco Names Khalid Al-Falih as Chief Executive

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Aramco, the world's biggest oil supplier, named Khalid A. Al-Falih as chief executive officer.

Al-Falih succeeds Abdallah Jum'ah, who retires after 40 years at the Dhahran, Saudi Arabia-based company and 14 years as its chief, the country's Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi said today in an e-mailed statement.

Ft. Chip residents, activists protest oilsands intrusion

Mike Mercredi is ready to fight what he calls the "slow industrial genocide" that oil companies are waging on the people in his hometown of Fort Chipewyan.

Last year there were over 20 deaths in the community of 1,200 people. Many were cancer-related deaths, which Mercredi said are linked to the oilsands activities in nearby Fort McMurray.

"Let's put a lid on it and slow things down," he said. "The graveyard is getting full."

Iraq's cash pile won't protect it from weak oil prices

BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraq's unspent cash pile won't prevent its economy from being hit by tumbling crude oil prices, endangering stuttering efforts to rebuild the war-battered nation, politicians and analysts say.

Chilean glacier will vanish in 50 years: study

SANTIAGO (AFP) – Chile's official water authority warned Saturday that the Echaurren glacier near Santiago, which supplies the capital with 70 percent of its water needs, could disappear in the next half century.

In a new report on Chile's glaciers the main water company -- Direccion General de Aguas de Chile (DGA) -- said the ice fields of Echaurren are receding up to 12 meters (39.37 feet) per year.

"These glaciers are vanishing," said Antonio Vergara of the DGA, who has worked on glacier research on the fields for 35 years.

Smart car is damaged when flipped by vandals

A multicolored Smart ForTwo coupe owned by Think Financial, a business located in the Cobblestone District in Buffalo, was vandalized sometime late Thursday or early Friday, a company representative told police.

Someone flipped the vehicle, which looks like a souped-up golf cart, on its side while it was parked in the company lot at 26 Mississippi St. The vehicle was damaged on its passenger side.

A Splash of Green for the Rust Belt

From the faded steel enclaves of Pennsylvania to the reeling auto towns of Michigan and Ohio, state and local governments are aggressively courting manufacturing companies that supply wind energy farms, solar electricity plants and factories that turn crops into diesel fuel.

This courtship has less to do with the loftiest aims of renewable energy proponents — curbing greenhouse gas emissions and lessening American dependence on foreign oil — and more to do with paychecks. In the face of rising unemployment, renewable energy has become a crucial source of good jobs, particularly for laid-off Rust Belt workers.

Global financial crisis will not cause crash in oil prices -- Kuwaiti expert

KUWAIT (KUNA) -- A Kuwaiti expert on oil expects that the global financial downturn will not lead to a crash in oil prices around the world.

Former Chief Executive in the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) Hani Hussain said that the fundamentals of the global supply and demand of oil will protect the market from any unexpected collapse. On the recent drop in oil prices, Hussain mentioned that speculators were largely responsible for the previously witnessed rise, which vanished after their absence affected by supply and demand and market needs.

He said that on the mid-term scale, he objectively viewed that supply will be less than demand which will in-turn create a balance in prices.

Exxon's Production Falls as Profits Soar

Third-quarter earnings jumped 58%, but production was off. With oil prices plunging, investors think the decline in output may be a bad sign.

Fear of Deflation Lurks as Global Demand Drops

With economies around the globe weakening, demand for oil, copper, grains and other commodities has diminished, bringing down prices of these raw materials. But prices have yet to decline noticeably for most goods and services, with one conspicuous exception — houses. Still, reduced demand is beginning to soften prices for a few products, like furniture and bedding, which are down slightly since the beginning of 2007, according to government data. Prices are also falling for some appliances, tools and hardware.

Only a few months ago, American policy makers were worried about the reverse problem — rising prices, or inflation — as then-soaring costs for oil and food filtered through the economy. In July, average prices were 5.6 percent higher than a year earlier — the fastest pace of inflation since 1991. But by the end of September, annual inflation had dipped to 4.9 percent and was widely expected to go lower.

Home solar energy systems on hold for better incentives

PHOENIX — Congress passed new and extended tax credits with the financial bailout package that are expected to prompt thousands of people to add solar- and wind-energy systems to their homes.

But the incentives for some systems are so much better than existing tax credits that many people also are delaying their home improvements until next year when the new credits kick in.

Firewood supply dries up under pest control rules

The luxurious warmth and crackle of a wood fire may become a pricey comfort this winter.

Firewood supplies are getting tight — some dealers are almost sold out — because of state shipping restrictions designed to halt the spread of invasive pests.

The Austerity Issue: don't panic

Amid the bewildering complexities of the global financial crisis, one simple fact stands out: the little we have left needs to go a lot further. Fear not! We'll show you how to endure the forthcoming recession with a bit of grit, some nous and the wise advice of our post-war forebears.

...Rationing and shortages affected almost every area of everyday life. Coal, petrol, cars, clothes, footwear, furniture, bedding, toys – all were hard to come by, being either strictly rationed or near unobtainable. "The greatest disaster is the inability to buy a handkerchief if one has sallied forth without one," bitterly complained one middle-class housewife to the research organisation Mass Observation; another objected that the fuel shortage "entails poor lighting on railways, in waiting rooms etc, with consequent eye strain and depression". But for most people, there was during these bleak years one supreme, overriding obsession: food.

Global pile-up ahead as US auto industry loses its drive

Ford, General Motors and Chrysler were once supreme; now with consumers rejecting gas-guzzlers and car loans drying up, the outlook is bleak for Detroit - and the rest of the world will soon feel the pain too.

Opening Up Mexico's Oil to Foreigners: A First Step

For months, the debate over opening up Mexico's petroleum industry to foreign companies raged in the streets. Thousands of riot police held back screaming protesters from invading the Senate. Mammoth rallies screamed that the president was a puppet, selling its nationalized oil wealth out to the gringos. Banner-bearing lawmakers opposed to the president's proposal camped with sleeping bags on the podium of Congress, shutting down the legislature for weeks, as the arguments went back and forth, for and against giving international oil giants the right to sink deep wells in Mexican territory and waters, long the sacrosanct monopoly of the country's national oil corporation.

Rail fare increase a step backward

Am I the only one mystified by why the fares are skyrocketing when gas prices are plummeting? Does this make sense when we ought to be trying to get people off the roads?

Just last summer they increased fares by 3 percent. That was unwelcome news, but at least understandable when fuel costs were breaking records. But now, when prices at the pump have fallen by more than a dollar a gallon in the past few weeks, why are we about to experience the largest fare increase in VRE's history, with another hike looming next summer? What's wrong with this picture?

Viet Nam: Nuclear power plan in pipeline

HA NOI — The Ministry of Industry and Trade has announced a plan to build two nuclear power plants in the central province of Ninh Thuan which will be operational from 2020 to 2022.

Why Pakistan shouldn’t manufacture solar systems?

Pakistan is facing the worst ever crisis of electricity shortage these days. It’s becoming extremely difficult for a common citizen to pay off his/her monthly electricity bills. The bills keep soaring day by day and there seems to be no respite in the foreseeable future. The electricity generated through the fossil fuel is very costly as its cost is linked to the cost of imported fuel. We are spending a hefty amount ($ 11 billion plus) on the import of oil annually to meet the country’s oil requirements. Hence, there’s a need to resort to other forms of generation of electricity, solar being one of them.

Zimbabwe: The grim reaper approaches

On the food front the situation has deteriorated sharply in the past month. Humanitarian agencies have full warehouses but cannot get the food to the people who need it. The reasons are that the agencies cannot access cash for their operations - hard currency transactions are still illegal and the cash withdrawal limits and other restrictions imposed by the Reserve Bank are making local payments impossible - they cannot pay for hotels or staff salaries and cannot pay transporters to take the food to where it is needed.

OPEC president urges members to cut, says Saudi key

ALGIERS (Reuters) - OPEC members have no choice but to implement agreed output cuts and inform customers of the reductions if they want a stable oil price between $70-$90 a barrel, OPEC President Chakib Khelil said on Sunday.

Khelil, who is also Algeria's energy and mines minister, told Algerian state radio that Saudi Arabia was key to the success of the reductions, and if the world's biggest oil exporter took its time over the operation the oil price could be affected.

"I think that's what the market is waiting for now -- to see that there really is a reduction in the market and not take at face value the declarations of the different deciders about a cut, or another cut, or about their intentions. It's what is seen on the market that will affect prices," he said.

Prices may slow oil flow

"The more exposed a producer is to credit," said Michelle Foss, chief energy economist for the University of Texas' Center for Energy Economics, "the more difficult it's going to be for that producer to keep drilling."

Exploration plans for the area's producers vary widely.

"The large percentage are already starting to cut back," said Wink Hartman, owner and president of Hartman Oil.

Oil producers likely to revise investment plans

Oil producers in the Gulf and other regions could be forced to scale down their investments plans because of tightening crude demand, higher costs and fund shortages, according to Arab and Western officials.

As the world creeps into a recession and lenders reel under credit crunch, demand for oil could largely slacken while costly projects could be delayed because of lack of funding and low profit margins due to weak crude prices.

Where oil and water mix

PORT ARTHUR, Tex. -By the middle of the next decade, this weathered city in America's deep south abutting the Gulf of Mexico, will receive a flood of oil from Fort McMurray's oil sands plants. About one million barrels a day of Alberta oil will flow into the world's biggest refining market.

U.S. Oil Companies Paid, Collected More in Taxes Than They Made in Profits in 2006

American oil companies paid and collected more taxes ($146.8 billion) in 2006 than they made in profits ($131.5 billion).

OPEC for gas?

The most effective response by the United States to the development of energy cartels among overseas producers is to improve our domestic energy capabilities. That means moving aggressively, and in an environmentally responsible fashion, to further develop our oil and gas resources and restart our nuclear industry while pursuing development of the full complement of alternative energies, including wind, solar, biomass and geothermal.

Canada: Pipeline blasts work of locals, police believe

DAWSON CREEK, B.C.–Investigators renewed their call for the public's help yesterday as they continued to probe a third deliberate explosion targeting natural gas pipelines in northeastern British Columbia.

Crews from oil and gas giant EnCana, whose pipelines have been the target of all three blasts, were still at the scene near Dawson Creek yesterday, trying to stop the flow of gas from the latest blast on Friday.

A new era of cheap oil is just wishful thinking

Amid the turmoil, falling crude has been a comfort blanket. Many economists foresee oil averaging $50 a barrel over the next few years as the world economy slows. Some even predict $30 oil.

I don't buy this. Oil demand is down in the US and some other Western importers but not by much. And the insatiable energy needs of the emerging giants will continue to grow as their economies keep expanding by 5 to 8 pc annually, despite the credit crunch.

This demand surge must be set against a frankly rather scary supply picture. The Opec exporters' cartel just cut daily output by 1.5m barrels, almost 2pc of global production.

Oil prices called recession culprit

Historians are likely to pick July's peak oil prices as the force that pushed the U.S. economy into a recession that began with September's financial crisis, Mike DiGiovanni, GM's executive director of global market and industry analysis, and economist said Wednesday.

"When it hit $147 a barrel and damaged Americans' pocketbooks, it just really stretched the budgets and pushed us over the edge," DiGiovanni said. "As those things happened, they couldn't pay their mortgages ... So I think when we look back on it, the trigger point was oil."

Gordon Brown expects Saudi financial help

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Sunday he expects Saudi Arabia to contribute to the International Monetary Fund’s bailout reserves after he promised business leaders in the Gulf that they would have a say in any future new world economic order.

Brown is leading calls for oil-rich Middle Eastern countries to be among the biggest donors to the IMF’s coffers, which at $250 billion have already been depleted by emergency cash calls from Iceland, Hungary and the Ukraine totaling some $30 billion.

Brown warned not to treat Saudis as 'Milch Cow'

Gordon Brown has been warned not to treat Saudi Arabia like a cash cow as senior Saudi royals made clear that the kingdom already had plans for its windfall profits from the oil price surge.

Election to benefit some industries, harm others

WASHINGTON – Battered by the financial meltdown, America's business community is anxiously calculating how Tuesday's presidential election will affect it.

Energy, pharmaceutical and telecommunications companies could face tax and other policy changes no matter who wins the White House. The outcome also could determine how well alternative energy developers, generic biotechnology companies, stem cell researchers and others fare.

Iran says oil sales diverse, no floating stockpile

TEHERAN - Iran is maintaining diversity in its markets for oil sales and is not switching from Europe to Asia, a senior Iranian energy official said on Sunday.

Iran said on Saturday it had reduced sales of crude by 70,000 barrels per day (bpd) to a European buyer, France's Total, in line with a decision by OPEC to cut output by 1.5 million bpd. Iran's share of the OPEC cut is 199,000 bpd.

Nigeria: The Dark Side Is Winning

While northern Somalia is the site of much pirate activity, Nigeria has also suffered a growing number of attacks on its fishing fleet that, so far this year, 64 Nigerian coastal fishing boats have been attacked by pirates. Currently, eight of these fishing boats are being held for ransom. Unlike the oil companies, the fishing boats cannot afford to hire armed guards, and a very vulnerable to attack by seagoing bandits. The dozens of ships that service the offshore oil facilities now have armed guards most of the time. So the pirates go looking for less dangerous prey.

Great Lakes eyed for offshore wind farms

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - Imagine sections of the Great Lakes dotted with rows of gleaming, 12-story turbines, blades whirring in the stiff breeze as they generate electricity for homes and businesses onshore.

It's only an idea — for now. But government regulators are bracing for an expected wave of proposals for offshore power generation in a region that never seems to run short of wind.

County sets wind farm rules

The Natrona County Commission recently approved emergency regulations in anticipation of commercial wind farms, according to county development director Blair Leist.

"If we didn't have the regulations in place, a company could say 'We can build them,'" Leist said Thursday.

Expert: Amazon may lose 50 percent of tree species

BRASILIA, Brazil -- Global warming could kill off half of the tree species in Brazil's vast Amazon jungle by 2050, a leading international climate change expert said Wednesday.

A worst-case rise of 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit would wipe out half of the region's tree species by making the Amazon much drier and causing increased humidity in Brazil's non-Amazon southern region, said Martin Parry of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change .

97 months left

It may be that governments still entangled in the habitual rhetoric of free markets, are embarrassed by their new, unaccustomed role. It could be that, having outsourced the exercising of power to the market place, they feel unpractised and not sure what to do. But the climate clock is still ticking – even speeding up. And, they now have an enormous opportunity to do what democratically elected governments are meant to do – take responsibility and protect their people from disaster.

I saw an interesting and relevant comment from Obama the other day

The Rachel Maddow Show for October 30, 2008

MADDOW: There may be some policy fights ahead, particularly in responding to the economic crisis, that will have both a practical and an ideological component. If we are looking at economic stimulus, is there a possibility that you could see in your first term, if you are elected, that we'd need an economic stimulus program that felt to Americans a little bit like a public works program, a little bit like an FDR-style infrastructure building program?

OBAMA: Well, I've actually talked about this. And I haven't been hiding the ball on this. I think we have to rebuild our infrastructure.

Look at what China's doing right now. Their trains are faster than us, their ports are better than us. They are preparing for a very competitive 21st century economy, and we're not.

One of the most frustrating things over the last eight years has been the ability of George Bush to pile up debt and huge deficits and not have anything to show for it, right? So, if you're going to run deficit spending, then it better be in rebuilding our roads, our bridges, our sewer lines, our water systems, laying broadband lines.

One of I think the most important infrastructure projects that we need is a whole new electricity grid. Because if we're going to be serious about renewable energy, I want to be able to get wind power from North Dakota to population centers like Chicago. And we're going to have to have a smart grid if we want to use plug-in hybrids, then we want to be able to have ordinary consumers sell back the electricity that's generated from those car batteries, back into the grid. That can create 5 million new jobs just in new energy.

But, it's huge projects that, generally speaking, you're not going to have private enterprise want to take all those risks. And we're going to have to be involved in that process.

It sounds as if Obama is evolving. Investment in more roads and highways is money thrown away. However, investment in renewable, green energy infrastructure is the way of the future.

The fact that Robert Rubin is one of his top economic advisers is scary as hell. But clearly Rubin's not the only one that has the king's ear.

If the power of the Rubins of the world is to be held in check, it will be due to a grassroots counterforce that has its origin in internet communities like TOD.

Evolving? He wants to destroy our most important energy resource: the coal industry. His quotes are downright scary:
check it


For those of you that like electricity - 51% comes from coal - stop this clean and present danger!!!

A final note: the shoddy Newsbusters blog has been caught in the past simply fabricating news regarding the Chronicle's coverage. Our paper has demanded corrections for their fiction, but to no avail.

We contacted Bill Riggs, regional press secretary of the Republican National Committee tonight on his emailing of this erroneous report suggesting a ''hidden'' Chronicle audiotape to political reporters. His response: he didn't confirm it, or write the headline. He just sent it out.

He got taken. And so did the rest.


As for "Newsbusters," look up Bozell and read about some of his fine works, such as this...

like electricity - 51% comes from coal - stop this clean and present danger!!!

Gee Jude - one day the coal won't be there. So why not move to Solar and Wind now?

Coal use also results in some of the largest CO2 emissions per unit energy. As a rough estimate, 1 million BTUs of coal is about 90 lbs, which when burned results in 257 pounds CO2. 1 million BTUs of methane is 853 cubic feet, which results in 104.5 lbs CO2, less than half. For oil, 1 million BTUs is 58 lbs (0.17 barrels?) = 155 lbs CO2.

Dude, you're new here, so I'll cut you some slack.

But you just posted this 10 minutes earlier. Do not keep re-post the same story over and over again. Once is enough.

"He wants to destroy our most important energy resource:"

i keep getting these robocalls from the gop. 1st obama was a friend of terrorists, then he wanted to raise my taxes, then later the financial melt-down was caused by the democrat congress elected in '06.

from this i conclude that many of mccain's votes will come from the less than dull normal.

i've engaged in political discussions here like many others, but an internet robocall ???

give us a break.

Someone at republican HQ has worked out that 50% of the population is sub-normal - if they get all those the result is in the bag!

Just for the record, a little more than a sound bite is called for. If this issue is important enough, that is.

Here's the transcript:

“I voted against the Clear Skies Bill. In fact, I was the deciding vote -- despite the fact that I’m a coal state and that half my state thought that I had thoroughly betrayed them. Because I think clean air is critical and global warming is critical.

“But this notion of no coal, I think, is an illusion. Because the fact of the matter is, is that right now we are getting a lot of our energy from coal. And China is building a coal-powered plant once a week. So what we have to do then is figure out how can we use coal without emitting greenhouse gases and carbon. And how can we sequester that carbon and capture it. If we can’t, then we’re gonna still be working on alternatives.

“But ... let me sort of describe my overall policy. What I’ve said is that we would put a cap and trade policy in place that is as aggressive if not more aggressive than anyone out there. I was the first call for 100 percent auction on the cap and trade system. Which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gases that was emitted would be charged to the polluter. That will create a market in which whatever technologies are out there that are being presented, whatever power plants are being built, they would have to meet the rigors of that market and the ratcheted-down caps that are imposed every year.

“So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted. That will also generate billions of dollars that we can invest in solar, wind, biodiesel, and other alternative energy approaches. The only thing that I’ve said with respect to coal -- I haven’t been some coal booster. What I have said is that for us to take coal off the table as an ideological matter, as opposed to saying if technology allows us to use coal in a clean way, we should."

I notice Jude hasn't come back, after posting the link in a half dozen threads in a few minutes :)

i don't know about your negative ratings,(which says something about the chickens here) but all i can say about Obama is: voting for Obama is like the chickens voting for Col. Sanders. This guy, Obama, is a marxist if there ever was one. He is a charlatan. I would like clean coal energy too, but it has a price. nonetheless, Obama is not what we want. he is promising the world, and i mean the world. Which can never happen. It isn't possible. Unless your really Jesus. but it's not possible after the $700 billion bailout.
He is promising the world to everyone, and will deliver absolutely nothing. it's all false promises. but what do i know? more bailouts are to come, and we are pretty much tapped out in terms of money, so to expect us all to give a little bit (Supertramp) more is going to crash this economy. We are maxed out on our money, and we haven't room to give much more. if any.

I am disgusted with Bush 2 as much as anyone. but Obama is not the marxist answer that we need. when it comes to national security, McCain is hands down better qualified, but Obama is going to be the next American Hugo Chavez.

tonight we will see if we are chickens or not. The middle east hopes so, russia hopes so. lord knows they have funneled plenty of money to the Obama campaign.

Bullets are hard to find in league city, texas. Academy along I45 south towards Galveston.

But, it's huge projects that, generally speaking, you're not going to have private enterprise want to take all those risks. And we're going to have to be involved in that process.

Does that make Obama a "Socialist?" Or do you you suppose he intends to have Government-backed no-bid contracts in the Bush style? Or something uniquely Obama. Perhaps more along the lines of the People's Republic of China??

I would say the Chinese have done amazing and admirable things -- but on the balance, their legacy may just come out the same as the USA as they exhaust all of their own resources in trying to get all the remaining resources of the Earth and finally finish in a gray goo of pure entropy.

With all these marvelously instructive examples to avoid, and with a fresh, young, first-class mind at the helm-- it is just possible that a new Administration can actually make a difference.

One of the main reasons that the US, unlike its OECD counterparts, lacks a modern railroad infrastructure, or a modern power grid is that such projects do not happen without government funding because the capital costs are just too big.

All developed countries practice socio-capitalism - it just a question if it is big S/little C or the reverse. After a long laissez faire period,
the US moved to emphasize the "S" in 1932 but reversed course in 1968. It would appear another course reversal is in the making.

Essentially true, I think. The capital costs are huge, and the value of a 90% complete project is usually far less than 90%. For a transportation project, one holdout landowner can scuttle the whole project, so you ultimately need the power of eminent domain to ensure that the project can be guaranteed success. If government is smart, they would use these powers as little as possible, of course.

The costs to maintain the current road network are going to grow ever higher as the years go by, and I wonder if many rural and secondary roads will revert to gravel as these are cheaper to maintain.

And two separate, incompatible cell phone networks, as opposed to Europe's system in which all phones work in any country.

i believe the us moved to L* in '82 then to a slightly smaller l in '92 and then to the biggest L ever in 2000.

*L = looting of the treasury

A real eye-opener re China. I found the pile of dirty broken Barbie Dolls particularly poignant.
Factory owners/managers site rising costs of materials too.

November 2, 2008

"Chinese factories feel the pinch
Guardian: As the economic downturn reaches China, factory workers express their anxiety"


A difference? Yes. A positive difference? I rather doubt it.

I suppose that would be better than building more highways.

But I can't help thinking that he's barking up the wrong tree. If anything, the current economic crisis shows the perils of very large interconnected systems. I'd rather move toward smaller, more resilient networks, rather than larger, more efficient ones.

Can large networks be built to be resilient? I would think so, but I'm not sure. Intuitively, I think it would be easier to build resilience into a large network (e.g. national electric grid, national rail system) than a small network (e.g. local electric grid, metropolitan rail), but I have an open mind on this topic. There is certainly a tradeoff between efficiency and resilience, and I agree we should lean toward resilience and put efficiency on the back burner.

True, large scale networks may be more efficient than small ones, but I question whether it follows that this greater efficiency must necessarily include less resiliency. For example, a big airplane is more efficient than a small airplane, but it is also more resilient due to the resilience of more redundant systems and an extra engine.

Many large organic networks are resilient. The human body is a network of hundreds of billions of individual living cells which can sustain the system for many decades. Trees can live for centuries.

So, yes, large-scale complex network resilience is possible. But resilience does not necessarily mean immortality or immunity from collapse.

In the early days of software programming they soon became aware of the pitfalls of monolithic programs. That is highly integrated software systems. The high level of integration was efficient, but not resilient, problems quickly engulfed such systems. Object Orientated design and programming resulted to correct the mistakes of earlier design methods.

I tend to view Globalisation as a monolithic system. So, through the lens of my own experience, I see the solution as being more object oriented like. That is each object has minimal integration with the rest of the system and any contact is through rigidly controlled interfaces. A family, a community, a village, a farm, etc. could be seen as objects.

I suppose the key is that failures at the interfaces are automatically handled without causing the object to fail itself. So say a family, farm or community were suddenly left without money, power or food for example, then they would be able to deal with it without failing themselves.

A nation could be an object, a failure in the US shouldn't cause a failure in China. So in answer to your question, I believe large networks can be resilient, and in the case of national economies, they cannot be made so without totally changing how they work.

IMHO, the economy of the United States is highly resilient. We have falling house prices, falling commodity prices, the derivatives fiasco, and what happens? One investment bank fails, and other financial institutions are bailed out as real GDP goes down a little bit. The dollar strengthens--now who predicted that one?

With enough expansionary fiscal and monetary policy it will probably be possible to manage the recession we're in fairly well. Again, IMO, the really hard times will not come until we face notable declines in net exports of oil. Once the decline in net oil exports begins, economic conditions will necessarily get worse, because there is no good substitute for oil, and oil in integral to modern economies.

Thus I still see Peak Oil as the Big Problem, and the current financial turmoil as relatively small potatoes. In other words, if you think 2008 is bad, wait until 2012 for some really bad news based on declining oil production. I don't worry much about trillion dollar deficits and the Fed lending money on junk collateral; I do worry about the Export Land Model and its implications.

By the way, I'm not an optimist; I'm a qualified doomer.

"The dollar strengthens--now who predicted that one?"

A number of people predicting that the US would enter into a deflationary depression have also predicted the strengthening of the dollar. A technical bounce which doesn't indicate strength or an assessment of US economic health.

"We have falling house prices, falling commodity prices, the derivatives fiasco, and what happens? One investment bank fails, and other financial institutions are bailed out as real GDP goes down a little bit."

Sounds a bit like the Banker falling from a skyscraper saying "so far, so good" when he's halfway down. What's happening now is unprecedented in its speed and size. The resilience of the global financial system is under stress and as each part fails under the load, the stresses pass further up the system. As central banks groaned under the load the problem passed to the State and as they buckle to the IMF. The economic fallout hasn't even hit yet, with world trade grinding to a halt and economies going down like dominoes.

IMO the financial fiasco along with Climate Change and Peak Everything will test the resilience of all economies to destruction (even the US). It's just a matter of how long we've got left to prepare ourselves for the economic destruction and a test of our own personal resilience.

Probably just a few years.

World trade grinding to a halt? I don't think so. Look at all the oil the U.S. imports--not a hitch there. The U.S. still imports a great deal from China, Canada, Japan, Mexico, the U.K., Germany, etc. with no problems. The U.S. also exports huge amounts of food and substantial quantities of manufactured goods--no choking off of these exports.

Economies are going down like dominoes? Which ones? I think you are confusing financial systems with real economies. The real economy of Iceland is in fairly good shape, despite its financial crisis. Iceland still imports most of its food and all of its oil; I have not heard of any Icelandic fishing boats stuck in harbor for lack of diesel fuel.

There can be humongous amounts of financial flapdoodle with relatively little damage to the real economy. Doubtless, the U.S. recession will get worse--but will unemployment rise to levels seen during the 1980-82 downturn? If so, when? I'd like to see some specific predictions rather than vague prognostications of doom.

I do agree that Peak Oil will put a huge strain on our economy as world net exports decline. Over the longer term, I think we'll be looking at unemployment in the 25% to 40% range, but our economy may be resilient enough to muddle through to a transition away from fossil fuels.

Personal resilience is going to be tested; once again I agree with you on that point. In my opinion, massive unemployment is going to test us on all levels.

2012 i think will be significant and also 2016 will be significant(the first year i am eligible to retire). after that things will be going downhill. maybe not quickly but every toboggan ride i was ever on started out slowly.

"I don't worry much about trillion dollar deficits..."

deficits mean one thing: not living within our means.

and deficits may be necessary and benificial in the short term, but 26 yrs running with ever increasing deficits(increasing as a percentage of annual gdp), in nominally good economic times ?

how does this relate to peak oil ? the world has been running for about 40yr with an oil discovery deficit. now, if discoveries amounted to consumption, in other words, the world living within its oil discovery means, would peak oil be a problem ?

Peak oil is going to be a problem to the real economy. Multitrillion dollar deficits and multitrillion bailouts are only a financial problem. The physical capital of this country is in about as good shape as it was thirty or forty years ago; the human capital is intact; and supply-constrained declining net imports of oil have not yet begun to bite--though I expect them to do so within three years.

I think the recession will get much worse. I expect Obama to become the most reviled president since Herbert Hoover, and we'll look back to the administrations of George W. Bush as "the good old days." In 2012 the Republicans will probably nominate Sarah Palin for president, and I can imagine her winning by a landslide if the price of gasoline is over six dollars a gallon and unemployment exceeds ten percent--as I think they will in 2012. From 2012 through at least 2020 I expect a Greater Depression--based on declining net oil exports--to happen on a global scale.

Agree, that's my take on the situation also. And to add more credence, we must remember the Winter Solstice of 2012 when the Mayan calendar ends. Kaboomba, Sarah doesn't even get sworn in. The kaboom is caused by millions of dems rolling over in their graves (actually spinning like tops) the gyroscopic effect is awesome.

Sarcasm Off: I gave up forecasting after reading Taleb's books about randomness. One little country get glassed over and the whole forecast is shot. A complete waste of time.

IMO, the prediction of a Greater Depression based on declining net exports of oil is a robust prediction. Not a certainty, of course.

For sure there will be wars. Almost for sure they will not be thermonuclear exchanges between the U.S. and Russia. In other words, I think World War III is unlikely over the next twenty years.

There are many predictions that can be made that have an almost 100% chance of coming true; for example, Robert Shiller made the prediction of a bursting in the speculative bubble of U.S. real estate several years before it happened. The exact date could not be predicted, but the fact that boom would lead to bust was almost a sure thing. No black swan can keep a boom going indefinitely. And no black swan is going to be able to stave off economic decline due to decling net oil exports.

You may forecast all you wish on any and all subjects from whatever information you claim to know. It is interesting but I just gave up forecasting because there are too many unknowns and too many places for Black Swans to enter into the picture.

if that happens this country or whats left of it becomes a theocracy. Also if we have not used nukes in the middle east it would be about then.

Why would the U.S. use nuclear weapons in the Middle East? We have a great superiority in conventional forces, and hence there is no need to use nukes--except as a retaliation, if nuclear weapons are used against American forces first. Even if Iran has nuclear weapons, I don't think they are stupid enough to attack the U.S. with them.

In response to a Greater Depression it would not be surprising if a great many Americans do turn to fundamentalist Christianity. Demagogues flourish as unemployment rises beyond 20%. Hitler would never have risen to power if Germany had not been hit hard by the Great Depression.

"The physical capital of this country is in about as good shape as it was thirty or forty years ago;"

i respectfully disagree: the national debt, as a percent of annual gdp is about twice what it was in '80. the interest on the national debt is now the largest single item in the budget.

the debt as a percent of gdp declined more or less continuously from the end of ww2 until about '80, from memory about 120% down to about 33%, through good times and bad, war and peace, democrats and republicans. then in '80 with the advent of trickle down (trickle on ?) economics. the debt to gdp has risen to well over 70%, with only a breif reprieve during the '90's. it is quite possible that this could reach over 100% in the next year or so. and no, obama wont be able to do much about it. but if we are going to turn this freight train around, we have to slow it down first.

debt seems to obey the laws of fractal geometry (self similarity between the microscopic and macroscopic).

we have piled up debt on an individual level, a municipal, county, and state level, all branches of the same national tree.

if we are planning to transition from a fossil fuels economy, the federal government won't be able to help, being hamstrung with crushing debt. so imo, if we are to make a transition from where we are now to a sustainable population, we need to first get control of this crushing debt.

if obama is elected and is able to make a difference, it will need be with policies very different from what he has stated in his campaign. with mccain, imo, all hope is lost.

and sara palin ?? she will need to loose that high pitched nazel tone. she was never qualified to be chair(person) of the alaska oil and gas commission. where is she going to get the experience in the next 4 years to be anything other than governor of alaska ?

sorry for the circular discussion.

Even without the debt, we're in worse shape than we were 40 years ago. 40 year ago, we were on the upslope of Hubbert's Peak. We were Saudi Arabia.

You are correct that in terms of natural resources the U.S. is in worse shape than forty years ago. However, in terms of physical capital, i.e., machines, tools, vehicles, buildings, the electric grid, rail stystem, highway system, water and sewer systems, telephone and Internet systems, I'd say that we are in about the same shape as forty years ago, and possibly in better shape due to technological advances. There was much pissing and moaning in the 1960s about how we had let our infrastructure decay.

Note that "natural capital" is an oxymoron. Physical capital is a product produced with land, labor, and (physical) capital. Natural resources, such as oil in the ground, are just that--natural resources and not capital at all.

I do wish peak oilers would quit making up terms such as "demand destruction" and "natural capital," when there are perfectly good terms to clearly express important concepts that have been developed over the past two hundred years.

Also it is important not to confuse physical capital with financial capital. The two concepts are entirely different.

thanks for the clarification.

but isnt a big part of our "physical capital" rapidly depreciating, e.g. vehicles and highway systems ?

we still have the car payment but the thing is up on blocks in the front yard, at least here in east des moines.

Vehicles and the highway system were depreciating rapidly in 1968, too. Also in 1968 we were revving up the Vietnam War, a far costlier war in terms of lives and fraction of GDP than the Iraq and Afganistan wars combined. Plus, 1968 was a year of assasinations and urban riots.

There is a tendency to have nostalgia for the past. Forty years ago was not a picnic in this country, though we did have cheap oil back then. But we also had the Cold War, which is now over and done with. Back in 1968 we had a dozen or more B-52 bombers in the air at all times, loaded with hydrogen bombs and with preset targets in the Soviet Union. There was more fear and paranoia in 1968 than today; people were buying guns like mad.

By Fredrick Kunkle
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 27, 2008; Page A01

Americans have cut back on buying cars, furniture and clothes in a tough economy, but there's one consumer item that's still enjoying healthy sales: guns. Purchases of firearms and ammunition have risen 8 to 10 percent this year, according to state and federal data.

What's coming in the near future WILL make the late sixties look like a picnic. Why do you think the A**wipes in Washington have moved the Troops into a holding pattern inside the US? A little sunshine and R & R? There is no "nostalgia" about the past. Reality has a way of kicking a person in the face, when they least expect it. C_A

"Natural capital" has been around for quite some time (at least 15 years), and is perfectly proper. It refers especially to nature as a provider of ecosystem services. "Demand destruction" in the usual sense does seem to be a peak oil thing, but it has entered the general business lexicon.

Can large networks be built to be resilient?

The internet certainly seems to be. It was a design goal to be able to route traffic through whatever infrastructure survived a nuclear war. You can send TCP/IP over a barbed wire fence, and get to the destination subnet if it's physically possible.

Even birds...including a somewhat successful experiment in 2001 using carrier pigeons.

IP over Avian Carriers

it's resilient to a limited point, the system was designed to take small outages here and there. it has NEVER been tested in the senerio it was made for. I doubt the system will stand very well once 45% or higher of the nodes in the system go down.
Besides the system it's self is very energy intensive to run and maintain, and the vast majority of the public doesn't even know this because it's invisible to them.

Basically, despite how much you like it, despite it's supposed utility, the internet will be the first major system to go.

Well I'll agree that was the original design, I think we have strayed some distance from that. Show me data centers with multiple inbound and outbound bandwidth, from 3 or more different providers. I'll show you a bill from 3 different providers and 3 different fiber feeds all in the same cable, cut it and they are all gone. You always end up buying bandwidth from the telco. Whether you think so or not, they own the cable. This multiple redundant paths is a fantasy now.

Most of this happened when the net went commercial, prior to that there actually were seperate leased circuits, after that it was how much can you put on a single wire and charge for it. The net we started with is nothing like the net you have now.

We've had multiple counties in Maine, loose internet connectivity, charge card capability, and phone service because a single cable was cut.

Don in Maine

It was a design goal to be able to route traffic through whatever infrastructure survived a nuclear war.

And yet Cogent/Sprint customers were hosed last week.

Can large networks be built to be resilient? I would think so, but I'm not sure.

Sure they can, but such a design is not as profitable. (And what's the cost of failure? How much do you have to refund if you fail)

I'd rather move toward smaller, more resilient networks, rather than larger, more efficient ones.

I have included that criteria in
my present job search. I am making
use of keywords, e.g. transition

BTW, thanks for suggesting
bbcodeXtra. I've used it just a bit.
Much more to learn !

There's quite a bit I like in the person Obama, and in the idea that he will take over (though McCain's humor last night was liberating).

But then I see Barack time after time demonstrate his absolute cluelessness on economic matters, and I find that very scary. It's still all about preparing for a golden future, whether through building roads or building railways. Not an honest word, and no inch in transparent assessment, of the true state of the US economy.

There is no money left in America to do any of this. There is not even money to maintain existing infrastructure. On state, county and town level budgets are slashed in way perhaps never seen before.

This is one of many processes that have only just begun. America has a long and steep and deep fall ahead, and politicians who are either ignorant, in denial or purposely hiding the truth are a sure fire way to make things much worse than they will already inevitably get.

There will be no grand scale infrastructure projects, not under present economic and social circumstances. Slave labor could do it though.

It is accurate to say the USA is broke, but the USA has no chance of turning this mess around without growing the economy-there is no point pinching pennies when you are already too deep in the hole to save your way out. You could be right about nothing at all being done-everybody has big plans until the day they are elected.

But then I see Barack time after time demonstrate his absolute cluelessness on economic matters, and I find that very scary. It's still all about preparing for a golden future, whether through building roads or building railways. Not an honest word, and no inch in transparent assessment, of the true state of the US economy.

Let me ask though - let's say that he were lurking here and on your blog, and let's say that he found all of these arguments convincing. Could he really voice opinions such as this without completely blowing his chances of winning? The only ones who can say such things are the so-called fringe candidates who everyone knows have no chance of winning.

Or put it another way - let's say you were a politician running for office and your opponent tried to tell the voters that a golden future was impossible. Your own natural inclination would be to ridicule your opponent, and use such statements to your own advantage.

Ultimately the leaders we elect are a reflection upon the people in the country. The vast majority of people still want that golden future. I think the best we can hope for are highly intelligent leaders who at least have the potential of grasping that there is a problem, and lead us in directions that will be somewhat less crappy.

I agree, presidential candidates need to get elected first. No one in this country could ever get elected telling the truth. It would make us, TOD and TAE followers, feel much better about our chances in the future, but not to the average joe/jane on the streets.

What candidates do after being elected, for better or worse, is usually much different than the rhetoric during the campaign.

The major problem — one of the major problems, for there are several — one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.

To summarize: it is a well known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it.

To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.

To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem.



Ain't that just the truth !!

Thanks for the link - brand new to me, but I expect great things since they celebrate the Hitchhikers Guide ;)

Oh how I hate that lame old excuse that once they get in office THEN they can do the right thing.

It has absolutely ZERO to do with the individual.

Its about the group that is put together to address the issues. (not real excited about Obamas choices so far BTW)

So lets do away with the Supreme Leader/ Commander in Chief BS and elect a group of qualified, capable people who are uniquely qualified to address the problems we face and in fact even then insist that these unique individuals draw from research compiled by thousands of other uniquely qualified individuals.

I am not talking about Technocracy but its close to that. It needs to include all of what is currently considered esoteric elements of society too such as indigenous peoples representatives, naturalist, hell even realist, etc.

In fact I would go further and say that at this point our only hope is that Obama understands the issues better than he is letting on.

I think this is very likely, unfortunately whatever he really thinks he can't say it during the election cycle.

Right...it is unfortunate. You are really betting on when the candidate is elected and unleashed, what kind of decisions will he make? The New Yorker has a pretty decent write up on why they are supporting Obama:

The Choice

We cannot expect one man to heal every wound, to solve every major crisis of policy. So much of the Presidency, as they say, is a matter of waking up in the morning and trying to drink from a fire hydrant. In the quiet of the Oval Office, the noise of immediate demands can be deafening. And yet Obama has precisely the temperament to shut out the noise when necessary and concentrate on the essential. The election of Obama—a man of mixed ethnicity, at once comfortable in the world and utterly representative of twenty-first-century America—would, at a stroke, reverse our country’s image abroad and refresh its spirit at home. His ascendance to the Presidency would be a symbolic culmination of the civil- and voting-rights acts of the nineteen-sixties and the century-long struggles for equality that preceded them. It could not help but say something encouraging, even exhilarating, about the country, about its dedication to tolerance and inclusiveness, about its fidelity, after all, to the values it proclaims in its textbooks. At a moment of economic calamity, international perplexity, political failure, and battered morale, America needs both uplift and realism, both change and steadiness. It needs a leader temperamentally, intellectually, and emotionally attuned to the complexities of our troubled globe. That leader’s name is Barack Obama.

—The Editors

Perhaps this election will result in a movement to change the constitution and put in something like instant runoff voting

I agree, but that kind of thinking got us into the mess of the last 8 years. People thought that Cheney was the "elder statesman" to Bush and would provide needed advice. Well, Bush needed advice, but it seemed that the stuff that Cheney gave was terrible! Assuming the candidate will hire good people or knows what they're talking about is a bad idea.

However, let's reverse this thinking and take McCain's campaign at face value -- social policy-wise are we in for four years of witch-hunts for terrorists and voter registration purges of anyone who doesn't fit into pro-America?

Energy policy-wise, McCain has proposed 45 new nuclear power plants and to open Yucca as well as drilling. If you want to open more nuclear power plants, you have to have some place to put the waste, that is likely to be Yucca Mountain. Nevada has already sued EPA over their million year regulations, so it's likely that they will not go down without a fight and it will take a few years. McCain, as president, would have no more power to open Yucca mountain than he does now. Couple this to the fact that that U.S. will not be able to drill their way out of this mess, it shows that McCain has voiced no better ideas about energy policy either.

Actually, I'd argue that the new nuclear plants will happen on their own because there doesn't seem to be a substantial portion of the population willing to stop it any more, and the drilling won't help so Obama's plan is the better choice because that infrastructure is badly needed and maximizing wind power is not a bad idea because it's clean and renewable and will reduce our CO2 emissions.

There is no money left in America to do any of this. There is not even money to maintain existing infrastructure. On state, county and town level budgets are slashed in way perhaps never seen before.

I agree that our economic problems are very serious. But this comment ignores history. Railroads were built across the US using almost entirely human and animal labor. In historical terms the current US is extremely wealthy, so wealthy that most people are employed doing non-productive tasks and the average person spends 4 hours a day watching TV. If 300 million people stopped watching TV and did something productive instead, tremendous amounts of infrastructure could be created with minimal money required. After the Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps harnessed the available energy of the unemployed in this manner. Plenty of beautiful stonework from the 1930's still endures today (not quite the Inca Trail or the Great Wall of China, but human-created infrastructure can be very durable and useful for generations {in Italy I walked over a bridge built by the Roman Empire that still connected the two banks of the river in a mountain village for daily use, many centuries after the builders were dust} If the builders of that ancient infrastructure had convinced themselves that these tasks were impossible it would have been a self-fulfilling prophecy and therefore true).

Ah........... the past, pick an era and apply it to today....makes you feel good but is nothing like the reality of the woes of the present.

The past had fewer people, more resources, wild game, people working the land and so on.
Less than 1% of the population of the US feeds the rest.
Solve that and you might catch up to the present.

In any era, self-defeating pessimism is a loser's belief system, and some will choose to adhere to it.

If people in Africa wake up every morning and get about their days with 1% or less of the material possessions that the average US citizen has, it is pathetic and sad that some people in the US with their vast material assets believe that nothing can be done.

The "something that can be done" might be as simple as repairing a bicycle to avoid spending scarce cash on gas, darning a sock, or it might be organizing to invest community resources in alternative transportation or energy efficiency/production. All those things are happening in my community, but people who believe it impossible are not the ones doing it.

The fact that 1% of the US population feeds the rest means that the US has vast reserves of available labor to devote to other tasks, if the leadership and organization are available. I believe Obama is vastly more likely to provide appropriate leadership than John "drill-baby-drill, no gas tax & kill Amtrak" McCain.

I know where you are coming from but it's a function of denial.
If you are going to equate Africa (all of Africa?) with a future America you maybe correct but if you think a transition to that state will be orderly and peaceful you are dreaming.

Most know that "something can be done" like building a million windmills or covering the country with electric railways or maybe like you say darn a sock or repair a puncture. The problem is, associating facts and a can-do attitude with reality and human nature.

Just the simple statement you made "The fact that 1% of the US population feeds the rest means that the US has vast reserves of available labor to devote to other tasks, if the leadership and organization are available". shows how totally disconnected you are.

Just a few easy questions please...........
Where exactly are "vast reserves of labor" coming from, who and where are they, what skills do they have?
Who is going to pay them? To do what?

Ultimately I think the ideal is a set of resilient networks that are interconnected. People oftentimes point at the internet as an example - it can easily route around a damaged segment, and the only thing that people may notice is some network congestion.

To a degree the interstate highway system is kind of like this - a bridge falling in somewhere doesn't really affect the usability of the network if you are far enough away from the thing.

It is the highly centralized networks that are probably the most vulnerable. I can't think of a good example of a completely centralized network - perhaps the phone system is to a degree as if you central office goes down, then all of the customers are essentially cut off until it is repaired. In reality networks have varying degrees of resilience and varying degrees of centralization.

Ultimately the private sector will not invest in resilience unless there is a financial incentive. For example the electrical utilities have reduced the amount of time they spend tree trimming. This means that power outages become more common as tree limbs take down wires. The cost to the power companies mainly involve lost sales for when the power goes out. The externalities (such as businesses that must close or food that must be discarded) aren't borne by them - they are borne by the ratepayers. The investors of the power company may approve - this is more "efficient", but the general public will see it differently.

I think you need both. Large connections (smart grid, improved rail networks) and local resilience (walkable, bikable cities with locally generated energy and food).

People should walk or bike to work, and take the train to a vacation. A car should not be needed at all.

When we are talking about electricity, a larger network could be made more resilient. A small network has such a large reliance upon single power generation point sources, that if one goes down, the amount of load to be shed is a pretty high fraction of the total network. Of course we still need some local storage, and smart grid technology, i.e. so the grid can respond to an unexpected outage, by shedding load appropriately, rather than catastrophically. If we are indeed running out of fossil fuels, and must increasingly rely upon variable renewable sources, then both a smart grid, and long distance transmission are necessary to make that work.


Not too many years ago the food-market scene was dominated by small networks like IGA (Independent Grocers' Association). Individual stores were individually owned, and the local stores had great resiliency due to their being embedded in their local communities.

Nevertheless, with few exceptions, they succumbed to a larger, more "efficient" network -- Wal-Mart, Costco, etc. Safeway Inc. had some kind of makeover a couple of decades ago after they nearly went bankrupt, where they changed from something like the IGA model to something like the World Domination model.

I believe an interesting study is in the making -- who ultimately is the more resilient? Can Wal-mart cope with a changing business environment, or will the IGA's come back?

In my view, the jury is still out.

As in most things - Probably a "Hybrid." I notice that Walmart is carrying a lot of locally grown produce, for ex.

I'm not much interested in "which is a better business model?" - because BAU is not sustainable.

I also think Wal-Mart and its ilk have been enormously destructive. They are the reason for "food deserts." Nobody wants to supply small stores any more, because it's easier and more profitable to supply the suburban big boxes. And the places cut off from the distribution system are generally the places peak oilers consider most sustainable (the very rural or very urban).

Totally agree. However, the question is not which is the better business model, but which "system" is more resiliant. Wal-Mart has shown a great capacity to change with changing environments, and to profit from those changes (remember that when they started, they proudly featured only "made in America" items).

Their network model may include enough resiliance to survive all exigencies. They finally become the nucleus of the human ant colony.

The difference, IMO, is that resilience from a corporation's POV is not necessarily resilience from the customer's POV. The people who have already been cut off from food because of Wal-Mart don't care if Wal-Mart is a more resilient system.

That made in America thing was a scam. 99% of the items with that label were made in a us territory, they are 'techinicly' in the us. though it was not subject to the same set of laws, so in effect they get to promote their patriotic values with that, while at the same time still making the hefty profits they have before when making them in china because they can still treat their workers the same.

'Nobody wants to supply small stores any more,..'

By Nobody, of course you mean no 'supplier', and yet I know that there are consumers in any food market who want to see real local Grocery stores getting up and running again. Here in Portland, our little Natural Grocery Store, 'Whole Grocer' got upstaged and undercut by Wild Oats, and then that was the big, bad-guy store for the local, natural foods crowd, until Whole Foods came in, bought out the Little Store, and ultimately bought up Wild Oats as well.. and we're left with a single Big-Box Boutique who buys 'some' locally grown foods for super-cheap, marks them up to more than the local growers had ever dared to charge (and also to a level where they don't sell much, anyway..)

There is constant pressure to create new local startup groceries, and at some point I believe they will have the advantage again, as JIT and Shipping make the Big Boxes fall hard.

I don't think other models are necessarily 'BAU', they're just B.. and people ARE going to keep finding ways to buy and sell food. We probably get 1/2 to 2/3 of our foods outside of grocery stores, using Coops, Bulk-ordering, CSA's, our own garden, local Beef, Pork and Poultry farmers.

Both the TCP internet network and national railroad networks show that large interconnected systems can be more resilient than smaller, non-interconnected networks. The internet can route around localized connections problems (and does so continuously, one reason you can read this comment), and similarly a national railroad network can route around a damaged bridge or tunnel (while a single short-line railroad or local area network cannot).

Whether large networks are resilient or not depends on design decisions (ie., the packet systems on the internet rather than the centralized switching on traditional phone lines,etc.).

Investing in grid connections from high wind areas to high energy consumption areas will add resiliency to the current single-source (fossil-burning) power system. Investing our limited material and energy resources in the regions with greatest return on investment makes much more economic and environmental sense than building millions of small and inefficient turbines in low wind regions, or putting lots of solar in cloudy regions, even after the costs of transmission are accounted for.

And we're going to have to have a smart grid if we want to use plug-in hybrids, then we want to be able to have ordinary consumers sell back the electricity that's generated from those car batteries, back into the grid.

Earth to Obama. Earth to Obama! Say what, dude?

It's called V2G. He should've said electicity that is STORED in the batteries, but at least he's close.

The idea of using those batteries in an electric car for anything besides moving the car is a serious flaw, IMHO. Hooking the car to the grid should be for charging the batteries, not for removing energy from the car. What happens if the user decides to drive the car after the batteries have been drained in some situation where there has been a big drain on those batteries? And, to feed energy back to the grid, an inverter must be available, which is not usually included in an electric car.

I do think that it would be a good idea to charge the electric cars whenever they are parked. In a typical commute or shopping situation, the vehicle is parked for most of the day. The batteries could be charged during the day by solar PV or thermal, when there's lots of energy available, instead of charging the batteries during the night. Wind may be variable such that the extra energy for charging might not be available at any one time of the day, but, as long as there was enough wind energy, the cars could be charged when ever it was there.

Am I missing something here?

E. Swanson

The grid runs plants in load following capacity, but they also have some plants for providing a much faster response to regulate the grids frequency (60Hz US / 50Hz UK) V2G systems can provide this response which should be enough to maintain grid frequency long enough for the other plants on the grid to meet the extra demand. Example if a single plant drops out for some reason.

Coupled with smart meters, real time pricing with frequency responsive non essential loads the reliability of a grid with a low margin (reserve plant) and / or lots of variable generation will be greatly improved.

The idea of using those batteries in an electric car for anything besides moving the car is a serious flaw, IMHO.

I would agree, if the power company expected to take charge from your battery on a regular basis. As an emergency grid stabilization measure it might have some value. Batteries have a limited number of charge discharge cycles before their performance degrades, and regular use as V2G components would be a disservice to the car owner. The simpler, and less difficult measure, of turning off the charging during times when supply is insufficient for demand (or extra demand would require using expensive peaking sources) should be sufficient for most usages. I signed up for similar controls for my A/C.

Until we add a lot of solar to the grid, the period of cheap available power is overnight. I expect we will acquire a significant number of plugins prior to having enough solar capability to move the time of scarcity to the nighttime.

Energy storage is one key to solving the problem. Electricity is not easy to store and the day/night differential is the result of our present mix of base load and peaking power plants. Also, many of the older base load plants, especially nuclear, were built decades ago and the capital costs were paid with dollars that bought much more back when they were built. If there were enough low cost storage available, the utilities would simply shift production from night time to the day time peak and scrap their higher cost peaking plants.

There are already dedicated battery systems available which can do this and the idea of using the vehicle fleet for this purpose seems a bit far fetched, especially for commuter usage. The battery charge in the electric car would likely be most needed during the daily commute, that is, during the twice daily rush hours. To drain the car battery during the day would severely reduce the energy available for the end of the day commute home. To maintain the cars' batteries at a charge level sufficient to meet the needs of the evening commute, less energy would be available to be fed back to the grid during the day or the commute distance would need to be strictly limited. Why should the owner of the electric car be burdened with the cost of the extra large battery capacity when he/she might not be able to use it? And, during the process of hauling around that useless extra battery capacity, more energy is used to move the extra mass.

In short, why bother?

E. Swanson

AFAIK the load balancing that cars could help in would be for periodicities of seconds and minutes, perhaps extending up to an hour or so in some exceptional circumstances.
The wear on the batteries should be OK as many of the new designs are very long life.

For longer storage overnight good old lead acid batteries overbuilt and with capacitors integrated to reduce deep discharge are about the cheapest and very long life solution available at the moment:

For all those Americans that enjoy their particular way of life. Get this information out.


Obama wants to bankrupt the coal industry. Mr. Obama wake up: that is where we get 51% of our electricity. Do not let this happen!!!! Biden says let China use Clean Coal Technology - we fighting for our way of life here fellow energy experts. Keep on this. Do not let Obama take away our most important energy resource.

Oh, by all means click the link, but click this one too.

It's not true.

But the Drudge Report, the Republican National Committee and apparently even GOP VP candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin fell for completely fabricated news from a shady website called Newsbusters today suggesting the San Francisco Chronicle has ''hidden'' audio with Sen. Barack Obama regarding his statements on coal.

Welcome to TOD, Judy! Stick around, lots of good information here.

Let's be very clear: the Chronicle did not, and has never, hidden any interview, audio or video, of Obama from its readers.

The truth: the paper's January editorial board session with Obama included comments about coal. The entire interview has been in the public domaine, available on line to the public -- and to the McCain campaign -- since early January.

''How can anyone suggest that we hid an interview that we did, immediately put up on the web -- and advertised to our readers,'' said editorial page editor John Diaz Sunday, regarding his hosting of Obama at the session. ''We promoted it like like hell...and I'm sure the Clinton campaign and the McCain campaign scrubbed it. You can still find the whole 48 minutes and 33 seconds on line.''

Its so nice that you've joined the oil drum to talk about coal.

Now, care to join a conversation about moving to solar energy in the NOW VS using old solar power as expressed by coal?

One of I think the most important infrastructure projects that we need is a whole new electricity grid.

Thank for posting that. It was one of the most encouraging things I've heard from a politician in years.

Oil prices are the funnel, the queue built up over the last few months, and then it popped. It seems that liquidity was the key to keeping the Ponzi scheme from collapsed. When people started spending less on gas, it became just a matter of time?

Green prisons farm, recycle to save energy, money


"We try to model prosocial behavior," said Vern Rowan, business manager for the Oregon Department of Corrections. Being sustainable "is something that everybody should be doing, regardless of where they're at."

I don't think they will have any problem "sustaining" a prision population in fact they will have sustained growth LOL.

Actually, I thought the ironic implication was that most of us on the "outside" not practicing sustainable habits were the anti-social ones.

With regards to that article about an Opec for Natural Gas, I found this recent article:

Marcellus gas estimate swells

They are saying the Marcellus shale contains about 13 times the amount of natural gas the US uses in a year. Anyone have any idea if this is true? If the US makes significant moves into geothermal, solar, nuclear, wind etc. does this mean we could export this natural gas?

I think the plan is to use natural gas as a transport fuel. There's an initiative on California's Tuesday ballot to allocate public monies to promote such a policy.

Chesapeake's Aubrey McClendon and T. Boone Pickens were probably the two people most responsible for putting it there.

There's been quite a bit of discussion on the topic of these shale gas plays here on TOD.

Some, like myself, are quite skeptical of the "from shale to shining shale" panacea being promoted by McClendon and Pickens. I have many questions, probably the most compelling at this moment being, with Henry Hub Spot natural gas price hovering around $6.25/MCF, can this shale gas be developed and produced profitably at that price?

I have also on numerous occasions challenged EIA's figures for both domestic natural gas production and domestic natural gas reserves here on TOD. I think that somehow the EIA has fallen under the optimistic spell of Pickens and McClendon. As soon as Q3-2008 financial statements are available for the ten biggest US natural gas producers, I will probably again try to demonstrate that their production doesn't paint quite as rosy a picture as that being painted by Pickens, McClendon and the EIA.

Somebody seems to think so. Although not because of Marcellus shale, but some other apparent giant gas finds out west, suddenly the Columbia River LNG import projects look like they may be reconfigured for LNG export!

But changing market conditions have prompted the developer of at least one planned West Coast LNG terminal to switch from plans of importing LNG to exporting it.

That's led opponents of the controversial gas projects on the Columbia River to question whether the LNG terminals are designed to help California, as they initially asserted, or Korea and Japan.

Interesting world, indeed. And how accurate can these gas estimates really be? Everything I used to know has been revealed as smoke and mirrors.

Well, NeverLNG, it is hard to know about those pesky shale gas deposits. I have read on here that the EROEI for gas shale is barely over 1 to 1, but I think that includes the upfront infrastructure costs - pipelines, separators, dehydrators, compression and the gathering systems - which can be used for other development as a project is fully developed. I have been trying to glean enough info to make a reasonable judgement, but cannot find enough facts. Unless each of the shale gas projects has a positive EROEI, I do not think we will see it fully developed. I am confident that the various companies doing the developing think that these projects will be profitable or they wouldn't be developing them.

So, as to the accuracy of the estimates, everybody will have to make their own judgement. It looks like to me that many people are coming up with estimates based on the theory that mine is bigger than yours. The Marcellus original gas in place estimates would look suspect if made as detailled in the article linked above, but I have also read that the Haynesville shale gas play is the second largest in the world. My best guess would be that if we have that kind of a surplus of gas, the price part of the related supply and demand equation will probably restrict any export all by itself.

By my count, there are at least 10 substantial deposits. If all are economical, we are going to have something to use for fuel for a long time.

Is anybody familiar with these people? http://www.royaltyclearinghouse.com/

They are some group that does Oil and Gas Acquisitions.

Before we get contacted by petroleum landmen seeking to lease acreage, we frequently hear from Royalty Clearinghouse wanting to buy the same minerals. I have also heard from them in instances where other operators are planning on doing drilling in an area where most of the acreage is under lease. Because of this, I have long felt that they have connections with the folks involved in the projects which tend to come along so quickly thereafter. They may just be or represent astute investors, however. Sometimes you can see if anything is cooking through National Association of Royalty Owners whose website / buletin board used to be free but I think it is open only to members at this point. Search for NARO is you do not find anything for the full name.

Call this a crisis? Just wait

(Fortune Magazine) -- Staring into the abyss always focuses the mind, which can help you avoid falling in. So let's take a look at the potential catastrophe that awaits us once we survive our current crisis.

Too many trees to see the forest? – Analysts keep missing the key element when talking catastrophe it seems. Interesting article, just add peak-oil: Shudder!

Keep in mind that the article is right-wing blather.

Our government has borrowed from Social Security in order to pay the bill for war and interest on loans to cover the general budget.

These articles calling for a "return to responsibility" are almost always a ploy to scare people into signing their retirement away to the same folks who brought us all of the toxic paper that got us into the recent "financial flapdoodle" as another poster called it.

Fortune generally runs articles as factual and complete that leave out the most important information and analysis. Kind of like the current administration. Resulting in manipulative dis-information.

I don't buy it.

We are in bigger trouble than Fortune would care to allow its writers to consider. The pseudo-economy we have built is set up to enrich a relative minority at the expense of the planet and the poor. This will result in greater violence to keep the status quo going, and eventually the planet and the poor will react in a way that will not be pleasant for the editors and writers of self-serving drivel at Fortune -- or for any of the rest of us.

"Iceland, Mired in Debt, Blames Britain for Woes"

The troubles between the countries began three weeks ago when Britain took the extraordinary step of using its 2001 antiterrorism laws to freeze the British assets of a failing Icelandic bank.

... Icelandic foreign minister, Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir, said in an interview, describing her horror at opening the British treasury department’s home page at the time and finding Iceland on a list of terrorist entities with Al Qaeda, Sudan and North Korea, among others.

“The immediate effect was to trigger an almost complete freeze on any banking transactions between Iceland and abroad,” said Jon Danielsson, an economist at the London School of Economics. “When you’re labeled a terrorist, nobody does business with you.”

Icelanders say that it is now nearly impossible to get foreign currency into or out of the country. Many banks have refused even to transfer money to Iceland.

“Kaupthing was the last, best hope of the Icelandic banking system, and it was killed there and then,” Andres Magnusson, an editorial writer for Icelandic Financial News, said in an interview. “This really was the last straw. A lot of Icelanders are asking, ‘Excuse me: who’s the terrorist here?’ ”

Who indeed.

Well it didn't take long for this to completely devolve into economic warfare.
I think I smell a whiff of something in the air, how about escalating with some nice tariffs, and a little protectionism?


Oopsie, forgot the linky:
You may have to go thru Google news to get past the paywall.

Vietnam's decision to build two nuclear plants affirms that all is not well with coal. I recall a commenter here saying that China was leaning on Vietnam to export its coal to them rather than use it domestically. Other coal exporters Indonesia and South Africa may not be in a position to continue exporting. I'm not sure about Russia and Poland. Within ten years only Australia and the USA may have coal export capacity but in theory both of those countries will have domestic carbon caps in place. In a year or so I'd like to see if coal's recent 6.5% annual growth has continued.

An electrified 1,500 km rail line (standard gauge, although all other local rail lines are Cape gauge) in under serious discussions from Botswana to a port in Namibia for 20 million tonnes of new coal exports.




Hi All:

I really hate to say this because it will cause so many bad vibes. Obama, McCain, politician 'whoever' will listen only to the heavyweights and not TOD. We may have many of the answers required for a better transition to a new world but TPTB will only listen to Greenspan, Paulson, Benake, etc. Even as bad as they are and couldn't see a black swan in a flock of whites, they will run the country's economics through the politicos by some sort of incomplete economic model of BAU. We may talk about the power of logic and how great we are but the bottom line is we are a tiny voice in the forest. How many of you, like me, have been met with "Eyes Glazed Over".

Sorry bout that. Better to put effort into preparing yourself for the transition ahead because IMHO you will not get any, nill, zilch help from the feds.

BTW: This Morning we harvested three wheelbarrels of baker apples from one tree and have to put them up. So far two great big thick apple pies, warm out of the oven with milk. Almost enough to make me give up Double Stuffed Oreos.

I don't read anything into the story about a Smart Car being flipped onto it's side in Buffalo, New York. Absent any other evidence, it sounds to me like it was just some young stupid guys that did it because they could, not as an anti-green statement.

I don't think it was an anti-green statement, but I do think small cars are more prone to such vandalism, just because they are small. It reminded me of my school days, when one of my teachers had an ancient Honda Civic. The old ones were really small. The kids would routinely pick it up and move it someplace he couldn't find it.

Heck, we used to do that with VW bugs, back in the day. A neighbor had a narrow driveway, and one time we picked up his VW, turned it 90 degrees, and he couldn't go anywhere. But we always put it back the right way for him after enjoying seeing the look on his face when he discovered it. No statement of any kind, other than mischievousness. :-)

I was on the first streetcar after Katrina. After leaving the Riverfront terminus (live on the Today Show) we found a car (Texas plates) parked on the tracks.

In an very symbolic moment, the passengers got out with the motorman and bounced the car off the tracks. The Riverfront Streetcar line goes along the floodwall and we placed the car in a position that would be impossible to get out of >:-)


so i got this 3kw PV grid tied system on my roof. lots of problems with
inverter. seems to put out about 2kw average. the worst investment ever to make. if the grid goes down due to civil, technological, natural or
man made disaster i lose the advantage of having panels. what a joke!
sunnyboy makes a dual grid tied and battery charging inverter. any ideas how i can hack this baby? i have a 45 watt solar panel that can charge a 600 watt battery in 12 hours. i suspect that a 3kw PV array can charge
12kw battery bank in as many hours (of sun, of course!). willing to invest in lead, both batteries and bullets. THE END IS NEAR!!!
those two clowns running for president....dont depend on either of them.
they are scammers trying to get themselves rich(er). expect dead meat in the street(tm). yours and mine. somebody better stick a fork in uhmerika's butt and turn it over. we done!

Do you have a Sunnyboy Grid/Batt inverter, or are you considering replacing your existing one with that? Which inverter have you got? What kind of climate do you live in?

Don't forget that the Nameplate Capacity is generally the Peak Power, ie, an ideal production of the panels. But 66% might mean your inverter wasn't well matched to the panels. What is its capacity and efficiency?


I now have two 3-Kw grid-tie photovoltaic systems on my roof.
Absolutely no problems, no maintenance, they just sit there and
silently generate electricity.

One of the systems uses a Sunny Boy inverter. Aside from the
fact that my wife didn't like the bright red color, no problems.

Inverters, including Sunny Boy, are usually guaranteed for at
least 5 years, up to 10 years.

When you say "seems to put out 2 kw average", that is not a problem,
but typical. The 3 Kw rating is maximum, and you usually get less
than that -- especially because the output of the panels is
multiplied by the cosine of the angle between the sun and the
surface normal of the panels. Just as when you shine a flashlight
on a wall at an angle, the light spreads out and there is less

Clean coal is only in the spotlight because the swing-states like Ohio needs to be reassured that the coal industry wont go bust in a carbon-constrained economy. It's political suicide not to mention that hyped "technology", but politics is one thing and reality something else. There is no way we will ever have clean coal and Ohio and the other coal states better get used to it.

Yes, but on the other side of the coin, I was heartened by the story above about the former Maytag workers in Iowa who were now making blades for wind turbines. When something is real enough that good numbers of jobs are involved, some of the fears that many people have about renewable energy seem to go away.

Re: Great Lakes eyed for offshore wind farms

From the wikipedia article on wind power:

In addition, the wind resource over and around the Great Lakes, recoverable with currently available technology, could by itself provide 80% as much power as the U.S. and Canada currently generate from non-renewable resources.[61]

Yes, we should build as many wind farms there as we can. Wind is something that it's still not clear (to my mind) how much of our current generating capacity it will be able to fully displace, but I think we're pretty far from the point where we've maximized it. For example, for hydroelectricity we've already dammed up most of the good sites and the remainder like the Grand Canyon, are worth more as parks than as hydroelectricity generators. No new growth there, but it seems we've barely scratched the surface with wind.