DrumBeat: November 6, 2008

The Peak Oil Crisis: Memorandum for the President-Elect

Right at the top of the truly important list, and more urgent than you probably realize, is to start the transition of the U.S. economy from fossil fuels - oil, coal, and natural gas - to renewable forms of energy as quickly as possible. If this does not start happening soon, then much of the U.S. and world economy is likely to start grinding to a halt well within the eight years you would like to remain in office. Moreover, if we rush to burn off all the remaining fossil fuel, primarily coal, in the name of economic recovery and growth, the world is likely to end up in a couple of centuries - and here opinions differ - anywhere from an unpleasant place to live to being nearly devoid of the higher forms of life.

We have heard all sorts of talk about energy independence in recent months usually coupled with calls for more domestic drilling, "clean-coal" or more ethanol. Such talk is meaningless since we are almost certain to become energy independent in the next decade or so simply because we won't be receiving most of the 12 million barrels of crude and oil products a day we are currently importing. They just won't be for sale, at least not to us.

Peak Oil: You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide From Higher Oil Prices

What does it say when the normally conservative International Energy Agency is even gloomier than already depressed markets? That this autumn’s relatively cheap oil is likely a flash in the pan—and that triple-digit oil will soon be a permanent fixture again.

Canadian Natural sees vicious oil sands cost cycle

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Canadian Natural Resources Ltd is concerned that oil sands producers will rush again to develop their deferred projects once oil prices rebound and costs ease, extending a vicious cycle, the company's president said on Thursday.

Stung by high costs, Canadian Natural is slowing down spending on the next phase of its Horizon oil sands project in northern Alberta as it ramps up output on the initial phase in 2009.

Oil and gas drilling to drop 10% in Alberta, industry forecasts

EDMONTON -- Oil and gas drilling will take a big hit in Alberta next year, with 1,350 fewer wells forecast by the Petroleum Services Association of Canada.

PSAC said Thursday that numbers are expected to decline across Canada by 10% to 16,750 wells, down from an expected 2008 tally of 17,400.

Gazprom to revise South Europe gas pipeline plan due to financial crisis

(PORTOROZ) - The current financial crisis could force Russia's Gazprom energy giant to revise its South Stream pipeline project, which is to link Russia to southern Europe, a Gazprom's official said here Thursday.

"The present financial crisis could influence to some extent the performance of any international company, and Gazprom is no exception," Stanislav Tzyganov, head of Gazprom's International business department, said wile presenting the project at a conference on energy investment in southern Europe.

GM dealers feel squeeze from GMAC

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- General Motors dealers are complaining that GM's "captive financing" arm isn't doing what it was set up to do - help them move cars. And if it continues, they say, they could lose their lots.

Oil thieves clash with military in Nigeria, one dead

PORT HARCOURT, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Gunmen in speedboats trying to secure safe passage for crude oil thieves killed a civilian during a gunbattle with the Nigerian security forces in the western Niger Delta, the military said on Thursday.

Around 20 speedboats launched a coordinated attack on a military position at Clough Creek in Bayelsa state on Wednesday before being repelled, military spokesman Rabe Abubakar said. He said the civilian was shot by the attackers at they retreated.

Ancient cave yields clues to Chinese history

WASHINGTON - A stalagmite rising from the floor of a cave in China is providing clues to the end of several dynasties in Chinese history.

Slowly built from the minerals in dripping water over 1,810 years, chemicals in the stone tell a tale of strong and weak cycles of the monsoon, the life-giving rains that water crops to feed millions of people.

Dry periods coincided with the demise of the Tang, Yuan and Ming dynasties, researchers report in Friday's edition of the journal Science.

In addition, the team led by Pingzhong Zhang of Lanzhou University in China noted a change in the cycles around 1960 which they said may indicate that greenhouse gases released by human activities have become the dominant influence on the monsoon.

OPEC exports to drop 310,000 bpd to Nov 22 - analyst

LONDON (Reuters) - OPEC seaborne oil exports, excluding Angola and Ecuador, will drop 310,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the four weeks to Nov. 22 and will have fallen 700,000 bpd from an August supply peak, an oil analyst who tracks future flows said on Thursday.

Seaborne crude exports from 11 OPEC members, including Iraq, will fall to 24.23 million bpd, British consultancy Oil Movements reported.

That is just 30,000 bpd short of this year's low in mid-September when many refineries were in seasonal maintenance, it said, signalling that group output cuts were eating into supply.

Oil Falls to 19-Month Low on Concern Slump Is Hurting Demand

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil fell to a 19-month low on signs that fuel demand will contract as the global economy slows.

Oil declined as much as 3.3 percent in New York as the MSCI World Index dropped 2.4 percent. European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said the global financial crisis may lead to an extended economic slump in the 15 euro nations. More Americans than anticipated filed first-time claims for unemployment benefits last week, a government report today showed.

``There's no good news on the demand front,'' said Chip Hodge, a managing director at MFC Global Investment Management in Boston, who oversees a $4.5 billion energy-company bond portfolio. ``We overshot moving higher and are doing the same moving lower. Prices could easily move into the $50s for a good while.''

Crude oil for December delivery fell $4.87, or 7.5 percent, to $60.43 a barrel at 11:24 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Futures touched $60.16, the lowest since March 22, 2007. Prices, which have tumbled 59 percent since reaching a record $147.27 on July 11, are down 37 percent from a year ago.

Conoco, Aramco delay Yanbu refinery construction

HOUSTON (Reuters) - ConocoPhillips (COP.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Saudi Aramco said on Thursday they halted bidding on the construction of the 400,000 barrel per day joint-venture Yanbu refinery in Saudi Arabia, citing uncertainties in the financial and contracting markets.

The New 
Cold Front

Countries such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Poland and the Czech Republic are now, their officials say, living in fear of the Russian bear once again. Nato’s failure to come to Georgia’s rescue and the weak response by the EU, which could not agree on imposing sanctions on Russia in the wake of its incursion, has added to that fear.

Energy security is the other elephant in the room. The ruling regimes in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – all oil- and gas-rich former Soviet republics, along with countries such as Ukraine, which is a major transit route for Russian energy exports to Europe – are all nervous. 

China and Sudan: There be dragons

FIVE boxes draped in blue cloth arrived in China from Sudan on November 5th. The ashes they bore were of dead oil workers, victims of what China’s foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, called one of the most serious cases in recent years of Chinese citizens being killed abroad. As China’s overseas investments grow, its companies are learning the hard way what is meant by “country risk”.

It is only this decade, when Chinese leaders have encouraged companies to “go out”, that China’s outward investment has taken off. Much of it has entailed a scramble for resources, often in conflict-torn areas. Chinese companies, which used to think of kidnappings and terrorist attacks as problems mainly for their Western rivals, are finding that they are targets too. Their risk-assessment and security-management skills are failing to keep up.

Russia clears 20 pct domestic gas price rise in '09

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's tariff agency has cleared an almost 20 percent rise in domestic gas prices next year as another step to bring the currently state-capped prices up to market levels in a few years, the agency said on Thursday.

Wholesale gas prices for industrial consumers will rise by 19.6 percent in 2009, Denis Volkov, the head of the agency's oil and gas department, told Reuters.

Australia - Power, water, roads at risk: climate report

THE country's electricity and water supplies are at high risk from climate change, and immediate action is needed to prepare for the threat, a report presented to the Federal Government has warned.

Dams, roads, power stations and even paved footpaths are all at risk of damage from the increasing number of droughts and bushfires and rising sea levels during the next 30 to 50 years, said the report by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.

U.S. carmakers may not be able to wait for Obama

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President-elect Barack Obama courted distressed U.S. automakers during his campaign and pledged to help them, but the industry's health is so bad it may not be able to wait for him to take office.

"He's not here until January (20th) and that's a long time in the life of these companies at the moment," John Engler, a former Michigan governor and president and chief executive of the National Association of Manufacturers, said on Wednesday.

US automakers can now apply for Energy Dept. loans

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House said Thursday that automakers are now able to apply for government loans from the Energy Department to help them retool older plants and equipment to produce energy-efficient vehicles.

The Energy Department on Wednesday night published rules for participation in the loan program, which now allows automakers to apply for financing, the White House said.

Enel, Russian railways extend power supply deal

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Italian power company Enel has renewed a contract to supply Russian Railways (RZhD) with electricity, it said on Thursday.

Enel said in a statement it had also signed a memorandum of understanding with Russian electricity importer/exporter Inter RAO for cooperation in the energy sector in Russia and other countries.

BP turning focusing on U.S. for its wind projects

BP will end its planned wind power projects in India, China and Turkey to focus on the onshore generation in the U.S.

BP has ended its partnership with China’s Goldwind Science & Technology Co, which aimed to build a wind power project in the northern province of Inner Mongolia, Goldwind said today.

Julian Darley: Putting On The Brakes

We are starting to grow used to reading about news of contraction, but the contraction is happening by accident instead of by design. For example, this week has brought more news of dramatic falls in the sales of new cars in the USA and globally. No matter what your opinion of cars and the wider car industry, this contraction undoubtedly means many people will lose their jobs. This will cause worry, sadness, and hardship on top of all the other news of an economic system in deep trouble. Yet knowledge of the future of global oil supply points to an industry which is about to undergo massive transformation and most likely painful shrinkage.

Oil prices would soar to $200 by 2030: IEA

"The world's energy system is at a crossroads. Current global trends in energy supply and consumption are patently unsustainable -- environmentally, economically, socially," it warned in a summary of its annual World Energy Outlook report.

"But that can -- and must -- be altered: there's still time to change the road we're on."

"The future of human prosperity depends on how successfully we tackle the two central energy challenges facing us today: securing the supply of reliable and affordable energy; and effecting a rapid transformation to a low-carbon, efficient and environmentally benign system of energy supply."

It declared: "Preventing catastrophic and irreversible damage to the global climate ultimately requires a major decarbonisation of the world energy sources."

Don’t Want to Spoil the Party over Low Gas Prices, But Robert Rapier has a Warning You Should Hear

While Robert Rapier is well known to readers of “peak oil” web sites such as The Oil Drum, his name isn’t nearly as well known as it should be among investors in general. As a former oil industry insider with many years of experience in the notoriously murky world of oil refining and marketing, Rapier is a pragmatist, not an ideologue, in his oil market analyses.

Thus is it worth noting that Rapier, on his web site, is warning that the current plunge in pump prices poses “a big risk for inventories. Keep a close eye on demand at these prices,” Rapier advises after noting that gasoline has been selling for less than $2 a gallon in parts of Texas. “If,” he writes, “demand picks up and inventories can’t recover, we will go into spring in position for gas prices to reverse in a hurry.”

Canada: Thieves cut brakes to school bus to steal fuel

Thieves have stolen thousands of litres of fuel from companies in southern Ontario, and the latest target is a bus company whose vehicles transport children to school.

Police say it's unclear if the cases are related.

In the latest heist, suspects cut the brakes of a school bus that was parked on top of a massive underground storage tank. They then pushed the bus out of the way, possibly using a truck, to access the tank's fuel.

India: You may have to pay more for uninterrupted power supply

MUMBAI: Despite the growing power shortage, which is almost 700 MW now, Mumbai has managed to get uninterrupted electricity supply through purchases from sources outside the state. However, costly power from outside has forced Mumbai's utilities to seek a revision in tariff by way of higher Fuel Adjustment Charges (FAC).

As a result, the overall power tariff could go up by 20% in case the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) allows revision in the FAC. Given that no power company would absorb the higher fuel prices on its own, a revision in FAC seems imminent.

Pakistan: Textile industry warned against excessive power load

LAHORE: Power distribution companies have started serving notices on the textile industry, asking it to maintain current power load in coming months when gas load-shedding will start and in a worst case they may face power outages, The News has learnt.

Time to go against the grain

Oil-dependent production of cereal crops could be replaced by a traditional method of farming that is cheaper, greener and safer.

Under Obama, Dark Days Seen Ahead For Fossil Fuels

WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- Under President-elect Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., the fossil fuels industry may face "dark days ahead," while alternative energy sectors are likely to flourish.

Although it will take years to engineer and implement, an Obama administration energy and environment policy marks a tectonic shift for the nation. He would move the U.S. away from petroleum as its primary energy source and towards renewable energy, advanced biofuels, efficiency and low greenhouse-gas-emitting technologies.

Market paralysis ignores uranium's compelling projections

The Melbourne-based financial services group BGF Capital Group says that the frozen minds of investors and developers may well see a critical shortage of uranium in two to four years time.

Toyota halves profit expectations

TOKYO (AP) -- Toyota slashed its annual earnings forecast Thursday to less than a third of what it was the previous fiscal year, the latest stunning sign that the global slowdown and strong yen are taking a toll on Japan's mighty automakers.

Toyota Motor Corp., which has been riding high on the success of its Prius hybrid and Camry sedan, reported that its July-September quarter net profit plunged 69% to $1.4 billion.

A contraction in the vital U.S. auto market, the credit crunch and recent jump in the yen from about ¥118 to a dollar a year ago to ¥100 levels -- which erodes overseas income -- have dealt a serious blow to Japan's biggest automaker.

"The financial crisis is negatively impacting the real economy worldwide, and the automotive markets, especially in developed countries, are contracting rapidly," said Executive Vice President Mitsuo Kinoshita. "This is an unprecedented situation."

The company said it would try to cut costs and adjust production amid "a variety of risks and uncertainties, including higher energy and raw material prices."

Energy Crisis? What Energy Crisis?

Greetings from New York, where the notion that the new regime is “bullish for alternative energy” is, to be perfectly blunt, the silliest notion I've seen since last summer, when I got angry (really angry) emails for saying the Ag stocks were in a bubble.

Crude is $65 a barrel. America has a dead consumer, a financial meltdown in progress, a massive deficit and the collective attention span of a goldfish. The only thing we don’t have, at least for the moment, is an energy crisis.

You can do what you want, trading-wise, but playing yesterday’s bubbles as an “investment” is akin to loading up on Beanie Babies in the hope that they'll start selling for $20,000 apiece again.

Total CFO:No Plan To Delay Long-Term Projects For Now

PARIS -(Dow Jones)- French oil major Total SA's (TOT) chief financial officer said Wednesday the company wouldn't hesitate to delay a project if its analysis shows it should, but added that it doesn't see the need to delay any projects at the moment.

"If our analysis indicates that we should delay a project then we will and it is that simple," Chief Financial Officer Patrick de la Chevardiere said during a conference call with analysts to discuss the company's third-quarter results.

Load shedding to end by Dec 2009: Pervez Ashraf

ISLAMABAD (APP): Minister for Water and Power Raja Pervez Ashraf on Wednesday said all out efforts were being made to overcome the energy crisis and the load‑shedding would end by December 2009. The minister while giving assurance to the Senate Standing Committee on Water and Power said that keeping in view the situation the government is bringing in rental power generation units and maximizing generation from Independent Power Pproducers (IPPs) to augment the existing supply.

He said that a debt of Rs. 400 billion had created problems for the power generation sector out of which Rs. 260 billion are receivables of the eight power companies while Rs. 140 billion had to be paid to the oil companies.

The power generation companies had no money to pay to the oil companies due to which the situation went from bad to worse, he added.

UGANDA: Fuel shortage hits aid work in north

GULU (IRIN) - Aid workers in northern Uganda could scale down operations if a fuel shortage persists, officials told IRIN.

"Our operations for the past two weeks have been severely affected, we can't get all our staff to work locations because of the fuel shortage," Alex Otim, Gulu district local government secretary for works and rehabilitation, said.

Hard times cut demand for big chrome custom car wheels

LAS VEGAS — The bling-bling is going out of the fancy custom wheels business.

After a decade in which shiny chrome rims ruled the streets — the bigger and more outrageous the better — consumers appear to be passing up automotive cosmetics in order to buy gas and groceries.

Vote for bigger hen cages for could cause big changes

SAN FRANCISCO — Californians' adoption Tuesday of a ban on restrictive cages for egg-laying hens will hasten changes nationwide, supporters say. Opponents say it will put California producers out of business, given consumer demand for cheap eggs.

Global Oil Demand May Contract In 2009, 1st Time In 26 Years

NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--For years, rising global oil demand was as predictable as the seasons. Not anymore.

A starker economic outlook has some high-profile energy analysts predicting the world will consume less oil next year than this year, notching the first annual contraction since the early 1980s as emerging markets, led by China, cool off.

"We're in a new world now," said Kobi Platt, an economist with the Energy Information Administration, the analytical and statistical wing of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Demand in the most industrialized countries, static for years, tanked as oil soared to new heights this year. Even with U.S. gasoline now 42% cheaper than its July extremes above $4 a gallon, soft demand is expected to linger.

Against this backdrop, the world's oil-demand engine was supposed to be heavy industrial fuel needs and growing auto ownership in emerging markets, some of them enriched by oil exports. For the next several months, at least, that scenario is falling apart as the financial crisis bleeds across borders and challenges the theory that emerging markets have "decoupled" from highly developed ones. While expected to grow, emerging-economy demand may not offset declines elsewhere.

Financial Crisis To Affect Oil Cos 2012-2015 Projects - Report

HOUSTON -(Dow Jones)- International and domestic oil companies' projects with financing in place are unlikely to be held back due to the deepening credit crisis, but those programmed for after 2012 would feel the pinch, a report said.

"The vast majority of projects with finance in place due for completion in the 2008-12 time-frame are expected to move forward," said a report from research firm IHS Global Insight published Tuesday. The document analyzes the impact of the financial crisis and the economic meltdown on oil and natural gas exploration and production activity around the world.

However changes recently announced by several oil and gas companies to their mid-term investment programs due to lower commodity prices and the credit crunch would hit projects in the 2012-2015 timeframe, worsening the access to oil reserves, according to the report.

Threat to North Sea oil from low crude price and access to finance

Billions of pounds of investment in the North Sea is under threat because of plunging crude prices, the impact of the credit crunch and soaring costs, oil industry chiefs said this week.

Of the 170 new oil and gas exploration projects planned for the UK sector of the North Sea, up to 60 could be delayed indefinitely because they are no longer considered economic, Mike Tholen, economics and commercial director of Oil & Gas UK, said. “Around a third of these E&P [Gas Exploration and Production] projects feel very uncomfortable at current oil prices,” he said. “Where projects are marginal people will bide their time.”

Finance Hurdles May Stall Some Asian Gas Projects, Analyst Says

(Bloomberg) -- Natural gas production in developing Asian nations will be constrained by an inability for smaller petroleum companies to secure financing for projects, a senior director at Cambridge Energy Research Associates said.

Capital costs for petroleum projects have doubled over the last three to four years, causing some companies ``to think hard about the projects they are doing,'' Singapore-based Mark Hutchinson said today at a conference in Sydney. Deferrals of gas projects will benefit coal producers because of fuel demand from power producers, he said.

IEA Sees Oil Rebounding to Average $100 Through 2015

(Bloomberg) -- The International Energy Agency, an adviser to 28 nations, said it assumes oil import prices will rebound to average $100 a barrel between 2008 and 2015 and said the threat of a ``supply crunch'' remains.

IEA urges big spending to ensure world energy supply

LONDON (Reuters) - Massive investment of more than $26 trillion will be needed over the next 20 years to ensure the world has enough energy, the International Energy Agency said in its latest World Energy Outlook (WEO).

Given the context of oil supplies reaching a plateau, the high cost of bringing on new output and rising demand, the Paris-based agency assumes consumers will pay an average of $100 a barrel over the next seven years and higher beyond that.

"The world is not running short of oil or gas just yet," the IEA said in an executive summary of the WEO that will be released in full next week.

"The immediate risk to supply is not one of a lack of global resources, but rather a lack of investment where it is needed."

Oil falls below $65 on demand concerns

Oil prices slipped below $65 a barrel Thursday as renewed concerns about the severity of a global economic slowdown triggered an exodus of investor capital from stocks and commodities.

By early afternoon in Europe, light, sweet crude for December delivery was down $1.20 to $64.10 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Trading was volatile and the contract traded as high as $65.50 and as low as $63.70 earlier in the session.

Venezuela's Chavez hails 'strategic' relations with Russia

MEXICO (RIA Novosti) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has held up Russian economic cooperation as evidence of the two countries' "strategic" relations, the Mexican media reported on Wednesday.

"The establishment of a Russian-Venezuelan development bank, and an energy consortium involving [Russian energy giant] Gazprom and Venezuela's state-run oil and gas company Petroleos de Venezuela is evidence of our strategic relations," Chavez was quoted as saying at a meeting to support gubernatorial candidates in the western Venezuelan state of Tachira on Tuesday.

Jim Brown: Cutbacks Continue

Election night in the U.S. brought more than a changing of the guard. There were plenty of ballot initiatives brought before the people. Voters in California approved a $10 billion down payment on a major infrastructure project to develop a high-speed train system. This is not your grandfather's railroad but an 800-mile long, 200 MPH bullet train. Considering our future of peak oil this is a great initiative. Too bad it didn't happen two or three elections ago. The entire project is expected to cost $45 billion and could take 20 years to complete with the first trains up and running in about six years.

Myanmar stops disputed gas exploration - Bangladesh

DHAKA (Reuters) - Myanmar stopped oil and gas exploration in deep-sea blocks in disputed waters in the Bay of Bengal on Thursday, a day after Bangladesh had apprised China over the row, officials said.

"They have stopped exploration, but are yet to remove vessels and equipment from our (sea) territory," a Bangladesh navy official told Reuters.

Myanmar gas row highlights energy crisis in Bangladesh

DHAKA (AFP) — A simmering dispute between Bangladesh and neighbouring Myanmar in a hydrocarbon-rich stretch of the Bay of Bengal has highlighted Dhaka's desperate plight over dwindling gas supplies, say analysts.

KPC, Mideast suppliers struggle with naphtha deals

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Talks between Kuwait and buyers for December 2008-November 2009 naphtha supply are taking longer than usual to conclude, with expectations of deep discounts, as petrochemical demand has slumped, trade sources said.

Other Middle East supplier -- top-ranked Saudi Aramco and Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (ADNOC), the third-largest seller to Asia -- will also be negotiating term supplies this month, but will find it difficult to close the deals at a time of crisis in demand, seen lasting till at least second-half 2009.

Analysing OPEC’s plan to cut oil output

Details have begun to emerge on OPEC countries’ plans to cut crude production in line with the cartel’s October 24 decision to remove 1.5 million b/d from world oil markets beginning from early November. The reduction will be divided among 11 members and made from a baseline of 28.808 million b/d, which is derived by subtracting Indonesia’s allocation from the 29.673 million b/d 12-member ceiling set in September 2007. Iraq does not have an output allocation.

Role of national oil firms crucial

National oil companies' response as well as the handling of current challenges will play an important role in the stability of world energy markets, said senior executives of oil companies.

A study by professional services firm KPMG on the future of oil industry in the coming five years said the changes witnessed by the industry will force big players to adjust to the changed conditions over the next 10 years.

Officials, reacting to the findings of the study, said the concept of conflict between world oil companies and national ones no longer exists today since national firms are moving outside their geographical boundaries and are privatising some of their work and assets.

Report: Drilling on federal lands could be faster

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government isn't doing enough to expedite drilling in federal waters and on public lands, according to a report issued Tuesday by congressional investigators.

In a review of the 55,000 federal oil and gas leases issued to energy companies by the Interior Department from 1987 to 1996, the General Accountability Office found that the vast majority expired without being drilled, and an even smaller amount actually produced oil and natural gas.

"We do not agree that Interior is pursuing expedited development of oil and gas leases," the report reads.

Boost seen for natgas under Obama; setback for oil

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The election of Democratic Sen. Barack Obama to the presidency should be a boon to natural gas producers, but the forecast is turning dark for oil and coal industries already coping with falling prices.

The potential regulation of carbon dioxide emissions and the threat of a "windfall profits" tax on oil majors such as Exxon Mobil, Chevron Corp and ConocoPhillips have been two major themes of the Obama campaign. Both moves could erode the massive profits those companies have posted on the back of high crude oil prices, industry experts said.

Iraq-Turkey Pipeline Blast Halts Oil Supplies, Botas Says

(Bloomberg) -- An explosion late yesterday halted oil supplies through a pipeline connecting Turkey with oil fields in northern Iraq.

The blast, which occurred around 10 p.m. near the Turkish city of Sanliurfa, resulted in a sudden loss of pressure on the pipeline, according to a spokesman for the state-run pipeline company Botas. He declined to say whether a bomb may have caused the blast.

Kazakhstan reins in oil majors

MONTREAL - The Kazakhstan government, concerned about runaway costs and repeated delays in the vast Kashagan oilfield, has increased its role in the Italian-led consortium charged with developing the most important oil reserves in the Caspian Sea Basin.

Venezuela Faces Hard Choices As Oil Price Falls

Although OPEC announced production cuts of 1.5 million barrels per day last month, the oil price has failed to rebound, with the markets anticipating falling oil demand arising from the international financial and economic crises. In Venezuela, this has put pressure on both the government and state oil company PDVSA.

Russia's natural gas exports to Europe down 8% in Oct. - paper

MOSCOW, November 6 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's natural gas exports to Europe declined 8.3% to 12.6 billion cubic meters in October from a year ago as demand fell in the main consumer countries, a leading business daily reported on Thursday.

According to Kommersant, soaring gas price of $460-520 per 1,000 cubic meters, introduced from October 1, drove down demand in Europe, including falls in Gazprom's main European customers - Germany, Italy and Turkey.

'We need to catch them'

VANCOUVER — The three recent explosions at sour gas facilities near Dawson Creek in northeastern British Columbia provoked some explosive language from the provincial Energy Minister yesterday.

"Only a crazy person can think that by going out there and blowing something up they are getting their message across," Richard Neufeld told reporters in Victoria.

"Only someone that's deranged does that kind of thing. Because they put everybody's lives at risk ... it's crazy and it's stupid and they shouldn't do it. We need to catch them."

Worldwide oil reserves drying up, city warned

Edmonton - The city is hearing dire warnings to cut energy use amid fears of skyrocketing oil prices in the coming years – costs which would be passed onto taxpayers.

A committee of council today was cautioned the situation could get even worse once worldwide oil reserves begin to dry up.

The Great Solar Shakeout

In October it began to seem like there would be no end to the carnage on Wall Street. Unlike the prospective solutions, the cause of the crisis was very simple. Too many investors had begun to believe that some things always go up, like the price of a house or a barrel of oil, and other things will forever stay down, like the cost of capital.

You would think advocates of solar technology would know better, given the sun's somewhat obvious metaphor for how things move in nature. Despite expectations for rising sales, steadily growing demand over the long term, and another year of exuberant investment from venture capital, the solar bubble has been increasingly overdue for a correction and got a good one over the past month.

Britain burying huge amounts of potential fuel

Britain's biomass industry will miss targets necessary to meet renewable energy goals by 50% unless "blockages in the system" are removed by the government. In a letter to the new energy and climate change secretary, Ed Miliband, representatives from the wood industry say urgent action is required to put biomass back on track.

"For the government to meet its targets for generating 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, the UK needs to fully harness the potential for generating energy, heat and power through biomass," writes Craig White, chairman of Wood for Gold, a pressure group for the timber sector.

Lack of political will slowing Europe's renewables revolution, engineers say

The experts tasked with delivering Europe's green energy revolution have said that a lack of political leadership is their biggest single obstacle in meeting the continent's ambitious targets for renewable power.

Hoping To Change Some Attitudes

More than 250 neighbors of Constellation Energy's Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant recently toured the Lusby facility as the company opened its doors to the public for the first time since 2001.

The move could provide a public relations boost to the energy giant, which is seeking approval from federal and state regulatory agencies to build a third reactor.

End to fossil fuel subsidies urged

An end to the enormous subsidies paid to fossil fuel energy generators will be needed to set the world on a path of low-carbon generation, the International Energy Agency will say next week, writes Fiona Harvey.

The IEA will say that subsidies on energy consumption were $310bn for the 20 biggest countries outside the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in 2007.

Converting this subsidy to lower carbon energy sources could be the biggest source of support to low-carbon energy, including renewable sources, and carbon capture and storage.

Obama to Back Ailing Ethanol Makers, Follow Failed Bush Policy

(Bloomberg) -- President-elect Barack Obama plans to support unprofitable U.S. ethanol producers and pursue the same policies that failed George W. Bush.

Obama, the Democratic senator from Illinois, the second-biggest corn-growing state, will maintain Bush's goal requiring fuel producers use at least 36 billion gallons of biofuels in 2022, said Heather Zichal, the campaign's senior energy adviser. The ethanol industry, which loses about 66 cents a gallon at current prices, will receive at least as much support as from the current administration, including tax credits to spur consumption, she said.

Arnie Schwarzenegger may be Obama's Energy Secretary

ARNOLD Schwarzenegger is being tipped to become Secretary of Energy in Mr Obama’s administration.

The Austrian-born movie tough guy has been Governor of California for five years but must stand down in 2010.

Beekeepers seek cash to take sting out of disease

Three hundred white-suited beekeepers with veiled faces marched to Downing Street yesterday to demand increased funding for research to halt the extermination of millions of honey bees.

The British Beekeepers’ Association says hives are in such poor condition that stocks of English honey will run out by Christmas.

Canada Proposing Climate-Change Pact With Obama, Globe Says

(Bloomberg) -- Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is proposing a climate-change pact with U.S. President-elect Barack Obama that would protect Alberta's oil sands projects from potential new U.S. rules, the Globe and Mail reported.

Could Obama appoint a "climate czar"?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. environmental groups see Barack Obama's presidential victory as a chance to undo the Bush legacy on global warming, and one idea they are discussing is the possibility of a White House "climate czar".

Bill McKibben: President Obama's Big Climate Challenge

And so our eight-year interlude from reality draws to a close, and the job of cleaning up begins. The trouble is, we're not just cleaning up after a failed presidency. We're cleaning up after a two-century binge.

Barack Obama won an historic victory yesterday, and with it the right to take office under the most difficult circumstances since Franklin D. Roosevelt. Maybe more difficult, because while both FDR and Obama had financial meltdowns to deal with, Obama also faces the meltdown meltdown -- the rapid disintegration of the planet's climate system that threatens to challenge the very foundations of our civilization.

A new post on oil field size distributions. This analysis complements and perhaps replaces the log-normal, Pareto, and Parabolic Fractal.

I'm feeling a bit sorry for Obama. Everyone's heaping all sorts of high expectations on him; that's a lot of pressure right there.

Then I was listening to pundits talking last night & this morning on who they think his nominees will be. Already, the cry for spoils. I hope he ignores them.

I'm feeling sorry(*) for Senator Norm Coleman. Not knowing whether he won his reelection bid or not, and then facing corruption charges and having the investigation committee that he once headed turned against him if he wins. Having wasted all that time investigating the silly and stoopid Iraq Oil for Food "scandal" instead of real issues, he must be feeling isolated. It might be in his best interests to lose this election.

(*)Not really.

Crunch halts fundraising for Dorset gas-fill project

A £500 million gas storage project designed to reduce volatility in UK energy prices has become the latest victim of the credit crunch.
Fundraising for the scheme, to create one billion cu m of gas storage in underground salt caverns beneath Portland, Dorset, has been suspended after the Portland Gas directors said they were unable to agree acceptable conditions with lenders.
Portland Gas was granted planning permission in May to build the facility, which would provide up to 5 per cent of the country’s gas at peak times.


Nobody in the Government seems to have figured out that it is a good thing to take a strategic view on the security and cost of energy supplies.

It is increasingly obvious that massive price increases and cuts are inevitable in the UK.

What do you make of that humongous rate cut today?

The interesting thing is the rate cut size was supposedly 'unexpected'. However the currency markets didn't react. Given the rates have drifted lower over the past week, just how unexpected was this rate cut?

The rate cut benefits bankers, since they won't pass it on but will cut saver rates - keeping the margin. Strange that.

Soon they will be printing $100 dollar bills up in those tall Wall Street buildings and blowing it out of huge tubes into the street the way they do with confetti for parades.

It just means central banks are now more worried about deflation. The spread between TIPS and T Bills shows this as well as the falling price of gold.

IMO it's just official confirmation we are at Peak Oil, the more desperate the measures (this is the lowest interest rate since 1955, so much for 'the fundamentals are sound'), since none seem to work, the more evidence for PO as the ultimate uncurable cause - economic decline is a natural consequence of peak oil (or peak oil is a natural consequence of economic decline, we won't know which it really is for a few more years, but I bet UK C+C consumption, at least, is now declining!)

European Governments are much more constrained than that of the US by credibility problems.
If the UK gets too far ahead of the curve then the currency could collapse - the ECB has only decreased rates by 50 basis points.
Austria, Spain and Belgium have all had to pull bond issues.

The banks are going to do their damndest to hang on to as much of possible of the rate decrease without increasing lending, to make up for the money they have thrown away, in the case of British Banks particularly to 'developing' (submarining?:-)) markets.

They are assisted in this by the fact that many UK mortgages are fixed rate.
The Government does have the means to force reductions, as it owns shares, but I suspect the banks will out-fox them, by, for instance, reducing official rates but altering terms.

Where mortgages are only fixed for a term, then when they expire many will be backed by assets which are less than the value of the mortgage due to falling house prices.
In addition the banks are likely to raise the amount the customer has to provide, so if, for instance, your house value is now only 80% of the 100% mortgage that you had, and then you now have to find a 20% deposit, then you are stuck for around 35% of the value.
To bridge the gap even if you have a good income will likely require a loan at very high rates of interest.
There is no such thing as a non-recourse mortgage in the UK.

Many rates are also based on the LIBOR rates, which are entirely artificial as Banks aren't lending to each other, they can get the money far cheaper from their Governments.

Businesses etc will still be charged on the basis of points above LIBOR.

In short, it is going to be very difficult to get any money into the real economy, as the Banks will take it first to fill some of the hole from their losses.

It might be argued as Ilargi and Stoneleigh do that the right course would be to let the Banks fail, and set up new institutions to provide capital.
I find it difficult to see how Governments could avoid guaranteeing deposits in the Banks though, and simply have no idea how great the cost of that would be.
Getting the money through to businesses before they collapsed where their Bank had failed would not be easy either.

The official low interest rates in the US and UK will have much more effect on re-capitalising Banks than on providing more cheap loans.
In the UK and Europe though there are no ideological objections to outright nationalisation if the Governments get seriously fed up with the Banks, and that seems likely to me as the economy worsens.

outright nationalisation if the Governments get seriously fed up with the Banks,

The evidence is not good that the UK Government knows how to run any bank better than professional bankers - IMO the cause of the UK financial problems is either unfixable because it is due to peak oil or resides with the Government - but, because the cause and the cure can't be the same, don't plan on any Government intervention being a roaring success!

The UK Government has a record of incompetence in management second to none.
Gordon Brown's policy towards the Third World is to join it.
The malpractice and incompetence go far deeper than any one Government though, and are now built deep into the whole establishment, providing obstacles to progress not dissimilar to those in the Third World.

It is interesting however that the Nationalisation of Banks is, for many countries in Europe, perhaps the likely next stage of the alteration to a command economy.
Many here have argued that this is inevitable with Peak Oil and the cessation of growth, and although I would argue that capitalism has in fact survived many periods of low or zero growth a move further to the left seems inevitable, and in my view desirable, as it is clear that the model of allowing unlimited earnings at the top has in fact merely contributed to asset price inflation, and the benefits of large salaries attracting the very best financial engineers and bankers have not proved attractive.

Social housing will certainly make a comeback, which may be good from the energy saving POV.

When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. We may not have a solution in hand, Obama may make few policy turnarounds, and the Brit government may never figure out how to run a bank. But for pity's sake, let's stop rewarding the thieves and frauds in grey suits!

Yah, and then lets reward the glitterati and the feckless consumer instead and then use what is left to buy them and the suits all a B ship

If you find yourself in a hole change the direction you are digging. Dig from the sides and put it under your feet. Stop throwing to that pile on top,

I am a Swiss based citizen and I have to say that I am quite fed up with this Anglo Saxon and namely US hegemony for a long time. Bottom line: I think that the UK faces 100 times more problems than the US.

- the UK has the highest criminality rate within Europe, far higher than the US has.
- the UK has actually just 4 banks left (vive the free market!). The US has hundreds of independent banks!
- the UK is going to have massive problems with its limitless immigration, namely from muslim countries. If birthrates of the muslims stay at the level they are now, GB will be a muslim dominated country in no longer than 30 years. The US has no such problems.
- the discrepance between rich and poor is the widest in UK, compared to other EU countries and certainly to the US.
- Energy: Production from the North Sea fields in both NG and Crude are collapsing around 8% p.a. The UK has to import ever higher amounts of energy from abroud (Russia). The US on the other hand has tremendous possibility in cutting consumption by forcing people to buy European efficient cars as well as to go for LNG transportation.
- the UK is THE nanny state in Europe. Allowing Sharia rights, having the strictist anti smoking police... Hey, they have meanwhile over 4.5 Millions of video cameras whatching you every foodstep you make.
That would be impossible in the US and as well in most EU countries. Thousands of pubs are going bankrupt and close their doors forever.

Pub going Bankrupt! If that isn't a call for a vote of no confidence what is?

Some of the Moslems will leave their religion; such is not punishable by death in England. Islam is not a race, nor ethnicity.

A few rebuttals...

the UK is going to have massive problems with its limitless immigration, namely from muslim countries. If birthrates of the muslims stay at the level they are now, GB will be a muslim dominated country in no longer than 30 years.

And being a Muslim is a bad thing? (Not that I'm one, but I can see thinly veiled racsim)

Energy: Production from the North Sea fields in both NG and Crude are collapsing around 8% p.a. The UK has to import ever higher amounts of energy from abroud (Russia). The US on the other hand has tremendous possibility in cutting consumption by forcing people to buy European efficient cars as well as to go for LNG transportation.

US imports more and more of it's oil from abroad. In fact, we import from folks much more unstable or whose production is sliding more than Russia...

Let's go through these one by one...

Canada has tar sands (mostly) left, and ramping up production is not going to be possible with $60/barrel oil and a world in recession. Mexico's production hinges in the Cantarell oil field, which is massively collapsing; Mexico also has an exploding demand for oil, which likely will mean that they will consume their own oil and no longer be importing to us within 5 years. Saudi Arabia is mystery meat... No one really knows what their reserves actually are, and they could peak at any time. Venezuela has got that wonderful character of Mr. Chavez, who shows an intense hatred for America and would like nothing more than to see us go up in flames. And Nigeria... that's a gigantic mess, and considered a failed state in it's current form.

the discrepance between rich and poor is the widest in UK, compared to other EU countries and certainly to the US.

Economists measure this critter with something called the GINI coefficient. It measures how evenly spread a country's wealth is. Now, taking a peek at this, the UK has a coefficient of 34, and the US 45 (lower is better.)
You say one thing, and data says differently...

I would say there is plenty of room for improvement in both places-- especially since they both are so given to preaching about "liberty" etc. Something about "motes" in your neighbor's eye and beams in your own, etc. I don't know anything about Switzerland, though I doubt it is a paradise for immigrants and guest workers.

However, the British population in general seems more literate than the American, and the Guardian is still a better paper than anything in the USA.

And being a Muslim is a bad thing? (Not that I'm one, but I can see thinly veiled racsim)

Being a Muslim is by no means a bad thing. But a massive influx of any immigrants could easily lead to social unrest. Think abut what happened after the potato famine when the Irish began streaming across the Atlantic to the US. Think about when European colonists began arriving in the Americas in the first place.

Think about the growing tension among many in the US who are worried that to many immigrants are entering the US from Central and South America.

Large groups of immigrants can certainly be good for a region (it eventually helped make the US rather powerful) but certainly leads to problems in the short term.

The above text certainly feels more politically correct than this:

If birthrates of the muslims stay at the level they are now, GB will be a muslim dominated country in no longer than 30 years. The US has no such problems.

One might argue that since the invasions, Iraq and Afghanistan are christian dominated countries. Scholarly studies indicate that since 2003, 1,000,000 Iraqi civilians died violent deaths, most at the hand of American troops.

It's difficult to imagine an example of muslim dominance in GB that would compare to this.

If any of this information is new to you, chances are you will forget it by tomorrow.

Being a Muslim is by no means a bad thing. But a massive influx of any immigrants could easily lead to social unrest.

Immigrants of different ethicity are a net plus, provided that the assimilation policy is working. By that I mean that both the immigrant, and the culture of the country they are entering cross fertilize, with the better aspects of both cultures being choosen. This is probably happening with Muslim immigrants to the US, my impression (from the other side of the pond), is that this is not happening in Europe. If large numbers of immigrants don't assimilate you will end up with something resembling Balkinization. Also any culture that imports a very high fraction of immigrants with a substantially different set of cultural beliefs is taking a severe risk to its survival.

I think that the assimilation here in the US -- at least in the more metropolitan areas -- is easier because the country is pretty religious, and is fine with things like head scarves, yamulkes -- whatever. A Hindu vegetarian is interesting, but they're likely not the only vegetarian segment of any group. Some new Muslim families that I've met are pretty nervous about their daughters interacting with non-Muslims, but they often relax a bit when they see that their daughters' friends attend religious services themselves and have parents that are also vigilant about where they are going and what they are doing. So there is little need for most people to choose between following religious practices and fitting in at least at some level. We certainly have a fair number of agnostics and atheists, but these are very much in the minority. May well be more difficult for many modern Europeans to feel comfortable here than it is for Muslim immigrants.

i think ethnic assimilation is easy in america because we have 4% of the world's population and consume 25% of its resources. when most people don't feel undue pressure to compete for food and shelter, they feel OK to make room for noobs at the dinner table.

in harder times, people find all kinds of excuses to exclude people who look and act differently. it's not racism. they just need to push someone away from the table, and racism is one of the simplest excuses for doing that.

when i saw mccain/palin supporters screaming "nigger!" and "terrorist!" at rallies, my first thought was not that they are morally wrong (they were.) my first thought was that they must be a lot worse off than me.

I think that your facts are correct, and it's probably true that people are more welcoming of newcomers during times of feast rather than times of famine. But if the economic explanation is everything, I'd expect to see Muslims only welcomed by families making more than $200,000USD/year, since apparently most everyone else has seen stagnating wages in the last decade or so. What I personally see is that many of us who came of age post-60s went to school, played sports and worked jobs with a diverse set of people. It was simply the way it was, and the fact that all these laws had been enacted just prior to our starting kindergarten didn't look any different to us than if it had been that way all along. This generation are now parents, and it is our children that I see making friends with a diverse set of people without thinking much about it at all. Sure, kids still tease kids, but I see it less along racial/cultural lines than just the mean-spirited targeting of individuals that occurs within a particular racial group.

Power Play Emerges On House Energy Panel

In the first sign of Democratic intraparty strife since the election, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) has told colleagues that he plans to challenge the House's most senior member, Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), for the chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Waxman, who is chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, is the No. 2 ranking member of Energy and Commerce and one of the most liberal members of the House. In three decades as a lawmaker, Waxman, 69, has been a leading supporter of universal health care, tobacco regulation and environmental protections.

This is interesting for a couple of reasons. Dingell represents the Detroit area, and oftentimes is very protective of the UAW and the big 3. He has strongly opposed increasing CAFE standards for one.

Dingell is incredibly obstinate in his resistance to higher fuel economy and measures to reduce GHG. The sooner he's replaced on Energy and Commerce, the sooner we'll see progress there.

This is the next big story - if the Democrats are smart, they will swap out a few of their more outdated chairmen like Dingell and Rangell for more up-to-date and pragmatic folks to work with Obama

Rep. Waxman is infamous for having aborted the Los Angeles Red Line "Subway to the Sea". Wilshire Blvd. would have been a premier Urban rail corridor.

The LA Red Line could be the #2 subway line in the USA, and possibly rivaling #1 (Lexington Avenue in NYC), despite 2 tracks vs. 4 tracks.

I am not sure I see the improvement over Rep. Dingell,


A Detroit guy is just going to flush more of our tax dollars down a W.C. associated with a dying industry. Waxman is less likely to make that mistake, even if he did screw the pooch on a rail project.

I have bit my knuckles clear back to the elbow watching the counting in Alaska and Minnesota and this Georgia run off? Yikes ... sixty Senate seats hanging in the balance. We can't stand two more years of Roadblock Republican antics.

Alan, I believe that cost had a bit to do with it. I remember figures like 4.8 Billion being kicked around plus in the real world no rail project has ever come in anywhere near budget. (In the USA.) At some point cost vs. benefits has to come in play; not to mention operating costs. Most metro rail projects don't take in enough to cover operating costs.

the real world no rail project has ever come in anywhere near budget. (In the USA.)

BS !!

The majority (by a good %) of Light Rail projects in the US are on or under budget.

The Canal Streetcar Line (opened April 18, 2004) was budgeted for $160 million (5 miles, 24 streetcars) and came in at $150 million.


Allan I don't keep a score card on such projects but answer these questions, please.

Did the Phoenix light rail come in on budget? Do you think the current expansion will? Do you think $100 million a mile makes any sense what so ever?


What about Portland? As I recall they had to curtail bus service to pay for the operation of their light rail line.


As much as I love New Orleans Street cars but how many passengers is that 30 plus million a mile going to carry? New Orleans use to have electric buses and I think you could have bought a lot more buses and overhead wire with $160 million and served a bigger area, don't you?

Because the government gave New Orleans $160 for five miles of new street cars doesn't make it a good investment; no more than one world class school makes New Orleans Schools something to be proud of.

One other question, how many elevated homes could have been built with $160 million?

Pukawn, one question I would like an answer to is what is the difference in cost of building and maintaining an asphalt roadway for buses compared to a rail system. I also wonder how much steel it would take to make mini-rail systems? I keep looking at all those cars sitting in the driveways and think that if we were to melt them down to form rail instead of asphalt in front of our houses there would be lotsa room to grow things like cabbages and parsnips. Just think of it rail to ride and a parsnip in every pot, mmmm mmmm good! I can smell those parsnips and cabbages boiling now:)

I could not find the 2001 GAO report that showed seven Light Rail projects with zero cost over-runs (Bus projects had the worse history). But I found this summary:


DART built it's first 72 km of Light Rail on budget (some over slightly, some under slightly, net within 2%). The under construction Green Line has been hit by an increase in materials (I got a private 3 hour tour of the Green Line in my recent tour of Dallas), but otherwise under budget. Net less than +5% and hopes with collapse of commodities for on budget.

The Canal Streetcar Line was projected to carry 30,000 passengers/day (7 day week avg from memory, not just weekday).

I strongly suspected that farebox + ad revenue would pay for operation and maintenance (best bus route is New Orleans was low 40%) after first year teething issues.

Electric trolley buses simply do NOT attract the ridership of Urban Rail, and costs to operate are not lower than streetcars (likely higher). Their place is where streetcars simply cannot operate (Magazine Street for example) and for medium density routes that a step below streetcar lines.

Best Hopes for Facts,


I'd like to see a breakdown according to population served rather than numbers of projects, which is highly irrelevant unless one or more of them can serve as a realistic model AND help us understand why other projects go over budget.

I'm 99% certain L.A.s came in WAY over budget.


As noted before, the US funding model is "Ration by Queue", which raises costs and lets inflation erode cost estimates.

I'm 99% certain L.A.s came in WAY over budget

As of October 1, 2008, reports are that the current Light Rail extension in Los Angeles (Gold Line East) is under budget and ahead of schedule @ 87% completion. Gold Line Phase 1 was under budget (I remember a dust-up on what to do with the surplus; some wanted more light rail cars, others to spend it on Phase II or III, some on more parking @ stations).


Cost overruns get more press.

Best Hopes for MORE Publicity about Urban Rail successes,


BTW: Tunneling is the major source of cost over-runs. Sample drilling before hand misses a seam of wet sand or ...

Portland has a series of successful projects EXCEPT for the tunnel under the mountain west of town. Geology, not project management, was the culprit.

And the Red and Blue lines? No cherry-picking, please. I'm not being difficult, I really do want to know and don't understand how you can attempt to discuss costs without including the entire project...

To the poster below: I lived in So Cal at the time, and have for most of my life. They had a hell of a time with the tunnels flooding and collapsing, if memory serves (which it may not).


I thought that you were talking about the current lines (all good news with zero publicity).

The Green Line was on-budget and on-time.

The Blue Line was a couple of % over budget (could not find detail) but not dramatically. $877 million, 22 miles, 22 stations.

The Red Line was one of series of tunneling disasters (Portland was another) where geology was worse than expected. Rightly or wrongly, this has lead to an aversion to tunneling by public transit in areas without a lot of experience (not much of an issue in NYC). The Dulles/Tysons Corner extension in DC refused to tunnel despite equal costs to elevated and a strong preference by locals to tunnel (better TOD).

A map of Red, Blue & Green lines. Red is subway (see two station stub down Wilshire stopped by Waxman), the rest are Light Rail. The Gold Line I goes from Union Station (eastern terminus of Red Line) to Pasadena (Gold III goes from Pasadena to Montclair). Gold Line II goes east from Union Station (was going to be Red Line subway but funding prevented that, so Light Rail instead).


A amp of future plans for Central & West LA. Red, Purple and Pink are subways, all others Light Rail. Several lines continue off the map (Gold, Red, Blue).


Best Hopes for More Tunneling,


I'm 99% certain L.A.s came in WAY over budget.

Do you have any reliable references to support this?

Phoenix is on time and budget, thank you very much. The northwest extension is particularly expensive because property must be acquired for the entire line. Even though the line itself will be in the middle of the street, they are taking property to maintain the number of traffic lanes on either side. Most light rail systems up to this point in the US have been built along railroad rights of way (abandoned or active) or along wide streets. We have narrow arterial streets in Phoenix. The starter line (20 miles) was built along some of the widest (plus a short section of abandoned railroad) so there wasn't as much property acquisition for the line itself (mainly for park-and-rides and the Operations and Maintenance Center). The northwest extension is 3.2 miles and requires property acquisition along its entire length. We are paying for poor (read non-existent) long range planning.

I'll also add that due to the narrow streets, all of the utilities are jammed in a small area as well, so massive relocation of them is necessary too. That also takes most of the time. The starter line was a 4-year project. The track, catenary and stations were all constructed in the past year, prior to that it was 3 years of utility relocation. I'm told that under Central Ave. they found utilities that didn't even appear on anyone's maps. Every one had to be traced, and everything (water, sewer, gas, telecomm, electricity) was completely replaced and upgraded so they won't need to go back in for a long time). Essentially we are buying: 1)a light rail line, 2) a completely new street sidewalk to sidewalk, 3) a totally new utility corridor.

Here's a little background on Waxman and the Subway to the Sea. He did finally lift the ban last year. Better late than never, I guess.


It's the same story in lots of places. Upper middle class residents fight transit to keep the riff-raff out. Now West LA is choking on cars, and regular unleaded hit $4.65 here last summer.

Here's a few things I've picked up over the past few days from some meetings I've attended:

1. I'm on the board of directors of a local non-profit that serves low income seniors meals on wheels and has after-school programs for teenagers. The reserve fund is down over 20%. The city is going to contribute less. The donor base has been hit by the stock market as well. And of course they have more and more people that need help with food prices staying high. The only good news was that the fuel for the meals on wheels vans was a little less, but they are not reducing the budget line item because we can't be sure how long it will stay. Early next year, we're probably going to have to cut into services unfortunately, and despite very good financial stewardship by the financial officer.

2. I serve on a citizen advisory group about waste and recycling issues in the city. The commodities crash has hit recyclers very hard. The markets for paper, plastic and metal has essentially dried up. The domestic market is working off inventory of both finished products and raw materials. The export markets are doing the same or just prefers virgin materials (oil, timber, metal). They can't give the stuff away right now. Luckily the city has long term contracts in place, but at some point the recyclers are going to go out of business (a few small commercial haulers already have). The truckers that service the recycling industry are not getting much business and they may lose their trucks soon.

It feels to me like the great unwinding has begun. But everyone at both meetings talked about current events as something that will obviously quickly reverse itself in a year or two. I don't think so

Thanks, very interesting post.

I think the economic volatility is going to be our biggest problem. Who is going to want to shell out for an electric car that costs more than a normal car and has much less functionality - when gas might be much cheaper in the future? Who is going to be able and willing to make such a car in this economic environment? With governments staggering under debt, will they be willing to take on new infrastructure like rail and power lines - when the demand might not be there?

For this reason, some peak oilers think "job one" is not energy, but the economy. Without a working economy, there's little we can do on the energy front.

But how do you "fix" the economy? The traditional fix is to encourage growth and consumption. But is that a good idea in the post-carbon age, assuming it's even possible?

How do you "fix" the economy? First, the economy is an ongoing system of mutual support and exchange. Talking about the "economy" gives the impression that it is a static thing that you can take apart and put back together. It doesn't work that way.

Second, given that it's a system, when the economy is not functioning correctly, there aren't a limited number of pieces that have to corrected. The entire system must be addressed.

This would be the approach to follow. Now all that remains to be done is the hard work.

The way the economy has been addressed before through encouraging growth and consumption, this solution falls in the category of "procrastination, half-measures, soothing and baffling expedients, and delays" that Churchill referred to.

Any change will be superimposed against a backdrop of declining resources, so the "hogs at the trough" will howl that the changes themselves are the cause of the continuing - and worsening - economic downturn in the coming years. There's no way to disprove the claim - to demonstrate how much worse it could have been were the needed large-scale economic changes not implemented. I fear that Obama's choices are thus limited to making small tweaks to the system, or facing his own Jimmy Carter moment.

I agree with this sentiment.

Craft policies to build infrastructure in the U.S. that changes the fundamental economy over time. Develop a smart electric grid, lots of wind and solar electric production, build in electrical storage capacity, and link all those to more use of electrified trains and manufacturing as a way to shift some base of the economy from fossil carbon to electrons.

Simultaneously we need to increase efficiency for all the things that use carbon fuels; cars, trucks, houses, businesses, etc. This can be done at the same time we keep extracting carbon from the ground via drilling/mining but also renewable crops. Keep the supply of carbon fuel sufficient as you build the non carbon replacements.

This type of "growth" will mean making and buying new machines and components for both business and personal use. Maybe people in the near future will get excited about putting in super insulation, solar hot water, and high efficiency washers the way they have been encouraged to buy Big screen TV's, Ipods, and plastic toys (for both children and adults) by the current administration's "go shopping statements". In both cases consumption (growth) is taking place but by focusing on the energy purchases both the economy and the individual is building in less consumable cost (energy purchases) for the future. This leads to more disposable income and savings over time.

IMHO this kind of spending and investing is what will make a sound economy that will ultimately put a floor back under investments and banking valuations. Invest money in the physical, structural economy instead of the banking system and the banking system will become healthy. Propping up the banking system as a way to keep the structural economy healthy will do neither.

I *hope* that people will become excited about conservation vs. consumption. But so long as it looks like Puritanism -- and is voluntary -- I doubt it. I think that there might be a way to encourage more energy-efficient consumption however. Two examples from my personal life:

1. When our last round of family desktops started to die (yes, we each have our own), we replaced them with laptops. The energy savings is noticable in my electric bill, and the laptop is a far better product in every way.

2. After our first winter with a hot tub (We super-insulated our house as penance for installing it), we saw our electric bills in the winter showing the same increase profile as in the summer air-conditioning season. Since we are both engineers, we went and took a good hard look at the hot tub. Supposedly, it was insulated. The design of the insulation -- other than the cover, upon which snow doesn't melt -- was very poor. So we put styrofoam insulation under the plastic hoses, and used pieces of fiberglass insulation to close the "chimney" crack that existed around the entire edge of the tub. Also filled the tub cavity with it (leaving plenty of air space around the motor!). Last winter, there was NO increase in our electric bill during the winter months. (After all, how many minutes is the cover REALLY open to use it?)

My point being that there are valid ways to sell conservation to those with the capital to spend and who tend to be energy hogs. But Puritanism likely won't fly.

Disclaimer: We're actually NOT energy hogs due to many other lifestyle choices, but COULD be. So just trying to make a point.

i've installed an insulation blanker on a water heater recently and imo, it is a lot of effort for not much benifit. it is dificult to retrofit and the instructions say not to inuslate the top and not to block the air vent at the bottom. and i am wondering why the manufacturers dont just incorporate adequate insulation in the first place ?

and if you want a model less than 40 gal, you have to special order. it seems the typical american household cant get by with less than a 20 min. shower.

i suppose as long as the consumers continue to buy them, that is how they will be made. same with the refridgerator.

Ill never buy another hot water tank, ill be going tankless next.

At one point I was considering a relocation, and I talked to a big time national home builder (beazer homes - named and shamed). Wow. they had no clue about any energy saving ideas at all. I wasnt asking for passive solar designs or a grey water system - all I asked about was a tankless water heater - they thought I was crazy. I guess it didnt fit inside their cookie cutter.

Why won't "Puritanism" fly ? Too much advertising ?

Anyway, I bought a Mac Mini (guts of a laptop, supply your own keyboard, mouse, screen) for $599. 31 watts.

And gas tankless hot water heaters have a bit of status locally. Since I have helped several people install them, my comments are sought.

Best Hopes,


The Puritan ethic appears to trade fun, joy, creativity and excitement for austere, saintly suffering and purity. (May be satisfying to some, but pretty unattractive to most.) Advertising professionals have associated these virtues -- and joy and creativity are virtues -- with endless consumption, since that's how they (and their coworkers) get paid. From your examples, though, I see that you get my point -- people can be sold on a tankless hot water heater that will reduce their costs and help the environment. They still want hot water, though, so they care enough to find out what will work for them.

We keep our house in winter at 63F -- good for the gas bills, and we all like sweaters. But when we invite people over, it's good to invite lots of people. That way, they heat up the house quickly and if they are shivering for a bit, at least they're probably laughing about it. (I wonder about the EROI of sugar cane when it is used to make cookies and those cookies are fed to visitors who's visit helps heat up the house?)

A lame attempt at humor...

I read one recent study that found productivity dropped sharply if the room temperature was below 72F.

In my office, they tried lowering the thermostat to 68F, but people complained their hands were too numb to type on a keyboard. So they raised to 70F as a compromise.

Perhaps it depends on what you're used to.

I would believe that, and I'm sure my good friend from Jamaica would agree. People do tend to be pretty sedentary in the office, and they can't drape an afghan around themselves like they can when watching TV at home. It's good to have a door on the home office to let heat accumulate too. (My office is off the laundry room; can be incentive to get the laundry done if I get too cold. Also was incentive to put up a clothes line, since running the dryer in the summer made the office too warm.)

Technology comes to the rescue of the modern Bob Cratchet:

On a skeptical note, USB can only supply about 3 watts, about 10 BTU per hour.

If that's true, why do people insist on air conditioning down to 65F in the summer?

I believe that is a bogus study.

Said by Leanan:
In my office, they tried lowering the thermostat to 68F, but people complained their hands were too numb to type on a keyboard. So they raised to 70F as a compromise.

I routinely type at my computer keyboard with a winter house temperature of 60 F without any problem. When the temperature is below 50 F, my fingers eventually become cold.

The traditional fix is to encourage growth and consumption.

There in lies the problem. The"Economy" as we now have it is dependent upon continuous growth. When economies are based on credit and borrowing, and interest that is associated with it, we must borrow into existence the wealth to pay the interest. We borrow from the future, and require growth to create that future wealth.

How can we grow the economy in the face of decreasing available cheap energy? I don't believe it is possible unless we are willing to surrender many of the comforts and conveniences of our current standard of living. Yet across the board cuts in standards of living is a game of musical chairs. As we consume less, someone will be left standing when the music stops. Perhaps we can't fix this economy. All we can do is make a conscious decision to stop playing the game.

I think it is more than that. I'm finally finishing up The Shock Doctrine and I think what we are facing is end of the Chicago School model. All the evil policies of dismantling the middle class and creating mass poverty in "developing nations" is now backfiring as it has worked its way into our turf. They have destroyed demand or discretionary income or whatever you want to call and the system is collapsing.

The problem is that the propaganda of "free market capitalism" is so ingrained in our thoughts and global economics, that trying to undo what's been done and transition to a steady state economy or more socialist system will be logistically impossible.

What I haven't figured out yet, is if TPTB are freaking out as they lose control, or rejoicing in the final phase of their plan.

Either way, Obama has a 100,000,000,000 ft vertical wall in front of him.

Said by TtheD:
... transition to a steady state economy or more socialist system....

I do not think socialism is possible under peak oil. There needs to be an ever expanding economy and workforce to support the freeloaders. If we can not make a steady state economy function, then I expect the government to become more authoritarian.

"freeloaders" is a very emotionally charged word, what exactly do you mean by it? Helping those who through no fault of their have fallen on bad times is a hallmark of civilized people. With systemic changes, the niche many people occupied will no longer be there. There really is no dishonor in a trip to the poor farm, food and shelter. A chance at a new beginning. Are you saying they should have been smart enough not to live in that niche? I'd really like to know.

Don in Maine

"If we can not make a steady state economy function,......"

what exactly do you mean by a steady state economy ?

i would consider a steady state economy one that includes "living within our means" that would not describe any economy since about "quarter past trickle down" (1982).
we nearly reached a steady state wrt debt in the fy ended 9-30-2000, the debt increased by $ 21 billion. about the same as an average day in oct, 2008.

Perhaps we can't fix this economy. All we can do is make a conscious decision to stop playing the game.

Good luck on that one. I love the idea, but it's the execution of the idea that seems a bit flawed.

Especially when the tax man comes around stating that not only are you definitely part of the economy, but you owe it some obscene amount of money for the "benefits" you gain by being a part.

I'd like to suggest that what we are going through now is "fixing" the economy.

There was never a chance that we were going to come up with some plan that would get us from a growth to a sustainable economy. So, the only fix is that the internal contradictions of the growth economy play out to their conclusion.

Painful? you bet! (you betcha?) So, we all should have been heeding our own advice and preparing. Came a little earlier than I expected, but we're pretty far along in our preps. But that's not going to mean it's easy.

The people's instinct is to batten down the hatches and prepare for a difficult future. The governments of the world are trying to restart consumption-oriented economies. Who's right? The people.

However people prepare for the future by saving money. This does NOT work for society as a whole. For society as a whole to prepare for the future it must: (a) stockpile useful stuff [mostly commodities, particularly food and liquid energy]; (b) build new infrastructure.

Unfortunately we keep getting lawyers as leaders. They believe that there is no such thing as the truth, only arguments and beliefs. So we can bet that infrastructure will be chosen for political rather than engineering reasons.

Here's my fantasy: Governments create a "Ministry of Truth". The name is a deliberate reminder of "1984" where the Ministry of Truth was only about spin. This real Ministry of Truth would be staffed by engineers and scientists, with excellent mathematical understanding being the prime requirement [unfortunately I've disqualified myself by some postings here]. It would have substantial powers to investigate company secret information. It would be tasked to figure out what will and won't work. It should conduct mostly open inquiries. It should be prepared to change its mind. It shouldn't attach recommendations to individual investigators. Motto: "No Spin". First job: investigate all the renewable energy proposals.

Yeah, and let's add a Ministry of Peace to that and get out of Iraq.

Since you brought it up, there's already a movement for the department of peace:


The markets for paper, plastic and metal has essentially dried up.

Maybe this report from the UK is of interest to you.

Councils left with recycling mountains as prices dive

Yeah, I just stepped down from the board of a non-profit where I kept the books - and still will for a while. Income is down by half. Everyone else thinks it's a temporary thing. They'd look at me like I was Cassandra with three heads or something when I talked about projections and need for paradigm shift. Other parts of the non-profit sector are unwinding too.

cfm in Gray, ME

I am on two non-profit boards and we have the same story re. declining revenues with increasing need. However, all the board members see this as the poop hitting the rotary blades and know what is meant by "the long emergency."

But I should add that I am not part of traditional social service organizations, more like non-profits established because of or now geared towards mitigating the effects of peak oil sensu lato. I have been thinking it might be good to make the argument to other community groups that "this is not just a cyclical downturn."

Yeah, I recently heard that a few people in my area are now stuck with scrap-metal filled shipping containers sitting in their back yards.

Enterprising bunch... I guess.


Continuing the conversation from the November 5th Drumbeat about communicating a TOD energy plan to the Obama administration

From Gail and others:
"I think we need to engage our neighbors."

Agreed. Keep doing more of that. However, if we think these kind of sea changes in energy policy are going to solely come about from a grassroots effort, we are mistaken. Soon-to-be President Obama will own the Bully Pulpit and his party controls both Houses of Congress. The time to insert our ideas is NOW.

"Obama is clueless about our energy problem" (several posters):

I do not completely agree on his total cluelessness. He seems to be a very intelligent, samrt person. So educate him as best we can. Don't just say he is clueless and go to to talking amongst yourselves (preaching to the choir).

"Obama supports clean coal and ethanol and nukes" (various posters): Energy policy will need to include a complete mix of options, for now. Remember that politics is the art of negotiation...any President who throws big oil and king coal under the bus is politically dead in the water. Bones have to be thrown. The important thing is to mollify the Drill Baby Drill crowd...I would support drilling 10,000 wells in ANWR and 100,000 wells in the OCS area if we concurrently moved out with a 100M roof PV initiative and doubled CAFE and the feds mandated buildout of long-distance transmission lines for massive wind farms, on and off-shore. You have to do a little dealing with the devils in order to get our long term goals moving out to the point where afuture administration could not reverse them (solar, wind, geothermal, energy efficiency). Also, do not think Obama is dumb enough to go Jimmy Carter on us...the message is HOPE, not the President addressing us in a sweater and telling us that life is going to suck from now on. Use some marketing skills, people, unless you want President Palin in 2008!

"TOD is not a lobbying organization" (Gail):

OK, it is your forum, as you wish. However, after reading this forum for a while, you could have fooled me.

IMHO, Energy policy is JOB ONE. As long as the Dems stay away from third rail social quixotic quests, they have a shot at implementing sound energy policy so that we don't have to keep shipping $700B+ per year (or whatever) to ME countries so they can buy arms to kill each other and us. Maybe our top 10 arms companies could make up for some of their lost revenues by investing in alt energy? Hey, GE makes wind turbines!

If TOD wants to wring its collective hands and talk amongst itself and cry that no politician will ever 'get it', then TODers are not any more than a minuscule part of the solution.

Also, keep in mind: Do NOT let perfect be the enemy of better, or good enough for now. Don't come out swinging scaring the red state folks with hippie talk of communes and ox carts...let us take some giant steps in solar concentrating plants, PV, wind, geothermal for now, along with some rail reinvigoration. The Pres should make the master metric as "number of barrels of oil imported", and chart out progress to the American people every month. Keep it simple, stupid. A lot of Americans aren't that intellectually deep...keep the message simple and truthful and verifiable.

Off to work...

any President who throws big oil and king coal under the bus is politically dead in the water. Bones have to be thrown. The important thing is to mollify the Drill Baby Drill crowd...I would support drilling 10,000 wells in ANWR and 100,000 wells in the OCS area if we concurrently moved out with a 100M roof PV initiative and doubled CAFE and the feds mandated buildout of long-distance transmission lines for massive wind farms, on and off-shore. You have to do a little dealing with the devils in order to get our long term goals moving out to the point where afuture administration could not reverse them

Absolutely. A broad base of support is needed to move forward, even if that means some ugly ornaments on the Christmas tree.

Agree in principle - but ANWR is a bad example. We'll never get it back to a pristine state once it's despoiled. It's our Serengeti - and our grandchildrens'.

Agree. There's lots of 'sacred' places that will be at risk if/when people get desparate.

Just out of curiosity which grandchildren are going to be traveling to ANWR post peak oil?

Places like that are not simply saved as Disney-like tourist traps, they are saved because of the viability of flourishing species that thrive within them. There's no need to despoil a place simply because of our addictions.

Really now,,,how many readers here have ever been to ANWR? How many people in the whole of the US have ever been? Or, would entertain the thought of getting out from in front of the BOOB TUBE to venture into a place where the animals will eat you? Not many. I have been there, have you? Save it? Why not save the Missouri Breaks? Why not save the Cahokia Mounds area? ( an Interstate went right thru it) Why not save the forest where your house is built now? Turn it back to the original state. Not drilling there is one thing, but not drilling anywhere, should carry the same mindset, the same attitude. "Saving" something for the wrong reason is the height of hypocrisy, and that is something we have way too much of here, even on TOD.

Since I think that it's inevitable to drill in ANWR, I'd like to see the following: rather than allowing the small population of Alaska to gain a large benefit from drilling it, (and most of them are no closer to ANWR than Washington DC is to the Great Lakes), I'd want to see that a sizable chunk be earmarked to the upkeep of parks and wilderness areas around the entire US (including Alaska) and off the coasts, to cleaning up Superfund sites and other despoiled areas, and so forth. This would help animals and environments all over the country, and create jobs everywhere, not just up on the North Slope.

Just a thought.

Not drilling there is one thing, but not drilling anywhere, should carry the same mindset, the same attitude.

I don't think anyone is saying "don't drill anywhere", that's a strawman. There are a tremendous number of oil leases that are not being developed, so whining about ANWR is hypocritical and diversionary.

Oooo, will I get coal from Santa this year?

The decision as to exactly what our response should be is still being discussed by TOD staff. I think it would get difficult to get TOD staff to unite behind a very long list of proposals--we are too diverse.

You can try to agree on however many or few proposals as you can, use that as a base, and then each staff member can carry that base forward with their own views and projects.

Like a tree, agree on a sturdy trunk, and grow as many branches as possible in as many directions as possible.

I agree, start simple.

We have hit an iceberg. Lets not argue over how many minutes it will take to flood a specific compartment, or how big was that iceberg anyway? Start with simple messages, we hit an iceberg and the ship cannot be saved - head for the lifeboats.

It is difficult, but if it was easy someone else would have done it by now.

Sorry, but I'm not even sure there's agreement that we've hit an iceberg. And if we have, some of us want to patch up the ocean liner rather than head for the lifeboats.

Leanan, you are probably aware of this line of thought, but I want to make it clear.

I believe it is a mistake to view "patching up the ocean liner" and "heading for the lifeboats" as mutually exclusive.

There are many ways that these can be viewed synergistically.

For example, those who build lifeboats with such actions as community gardening, energy and water conservation, getting in the habit of riding a bike, etc. are relieving some of the load in the ocean liner, helping it to stay afloat longer while patch work is being done.

Furthermore, the longer the ocean liner can be kept afloat, the more time everybody has to think pragmatically about what to do rather than run around scared, uncoordinated and ineffective.

Many people engage in both lifeboat building and ocean liner fixing and redirecting. I feel it is wise to be flexible and encouraging of both kinds of investments in time a resources.

In the long run, I expect that social and ecological stability will require that more and more people live in ways that resemble lifeboats even if a series of staggered collapses doesn't force us that direction. It would be nice if policy recognized this and framed the discussion in palatable ways accordingly.

For a more complete discussion of this, I would recommend David Holmgren's recent work. We talk about this point in one of my interviews with him:

Resources sunk into attempts to fix the ocean liner are resources diverted from the life boats. Those resources are too precious to waste. The liner is going to sink anyway. Attempting to keep it afloat awhile longer is futile.

Yes, that's the argument against "silver BBs" as well. No problem if resources are unlimited. But if there's a silver shortage, you have to choose which BBs are worth making, and which aren't.

Indeed, if there's a copper shortage, building many more copper filled devices, such as electric cars and wiring every parking space with a charging station and inverter to hook the electric car's batteries back to the grid would seem to be a problem. Recycling can only go so far and copper is being shipped to China at a rapid clip, thus leaving less to re-wire America. As energy becomes more expensive after Peak Oil, all resources become more expensive, as the energy used to concentrate that which is still left in the ground drives the cost calculations. I think that demonstrates the big flaw in the economist's world view of substitution of other resources as one becomes more expensive in the market.

E. Swanson

Good point. IMO, electric cars are a BB to be avoided at all cost. Light rail is another story.

Why do you need to travel more than walking/cycling distance? Most of the rest of the world don't do it because they can't afford it, IMO it would be wise to plan on staying local in the medium term.

That's un-American.

Will that attitude change with the new administration -- doubtful. I don't travel much, and people think I am some kind of crank. My daughter flies from Washington D.C. to Eugene Oregon for a long Thanksgiving weekend -- thinks family values requires it. I'm aghast, but silently.

Said by xeroid:
Why do you need to travel more than walking/cycling distance?

Have you ever visited an American farm? There are large distances between things out here in rural America. Huge amounts of farm land spread over vast distance are needed to feed all the urbanites. We can not do it without transportation. Some urbanites going to work can walk, ride bicycles and use public transportation, but rural America can not unless we drastically reduce population. A plumber needs to transport his tools and parts to the work site. These are reasons why I advocate PHEV's and electric rail to transport goods.

Yes, I've lived in the USA (and worked for a US company all my working life, though mostly throughout Europe and the Middle East).

Current Western agriculture practices are extreemly unsustainable and wouldn't be helped by things like light rail even if they were.

The non-OECD world doesn't use much energy per capita, have you ever seen how they live? - mostly on the land.

When US companies like GM, Chrysler and Ford don't have the money to develop fuel efficient ICE cars and people can't afford to buy ICE cars either, I am dubious that the rollout of EVs will be anything like adequate.

Bear in mind that if something can't happen then it won't, we don't know what the future will be but we can tell some things it can't be - IMO, what is left isn't anything like the status-quo most are hoping for.

I'd argue for throwing away the gun and starting a discussion on what sort of bow we should be building.

If your choices are to listen to the orchestra and help rearrange deck chairs, or try to patch the hole, I would say the lattter is more productive.

In other words, DO SOMETHING at least!

Except I would counsel against chopping holes in lifeboats as an activity, yet that seems to be the preferred gov't approach to motivate people to agree to "patch harder".

What if you are utterly convinced that the hole is irrepairable? How is it "productive" to waste time, attention, and resources on it? Try to find a lifeboat if you can, or make your peace.

I'm not a "make my peace" kind of guy. I'm a "do not go gently into that good night" sort.

The interesting analogy is that all the passengers who care to observe can see the ship is sinking, but the Captain and crew say it's not, and they work diligently to prevent access to lifeboats.

Then all you can do is search for Plan C -- which is TOD in a nutshell. Time to get busy building a raft.

You can at least ask the ocean liner crew to not get in the way of lifeboat building. Right now many of the steps we should be taking are illegal or socially discouraged.

What if, in contrast, the crew of the ocean liner was actually promoting lifeboat activities?

See, for example, this group that wants a garden on the White House lawn, just like in other times of crisis:


Excellent post, MoonWatcher.

Something that struck me the other day when I was looking at this post...


...and the accompanying comments is the level of aversion many of the scientific, technical and "nuts and bolts' types have to politics. I suppose there are some who would even like to cleanse TOD of political discussion and focus soley on the hands-on aspects of peak oil. That approach certainly would eliminate some of the rancor and ugliness that are part and pacel of political discussion.

However, even though this might make for a kinder and gentler TOD, peak oil is inextricably interwoven with morality, economics, politics and society. It should concern the TOD community that the economists and the sociologists have a prominent seat at the nation's policy table, but the engineers and scientists don't.

Many important aspects of our lives appear to be depoliticized. Creating this perception has been deliberate. Robert L. Heilbroner elucidates the phenomenon in a discussion of the "science" of economis:

[T]he economist does not engage in his analysis from a wholly disinterested position, indifferent to the conclusions to which his analysis may lead:

[T]he social investigator is inextricably bound up with the objects of his scrutiny, as a member of a group, a class, a society, a nation, bringing with him feelings of animus or defensiveness to the phenomenon he observes. In a word, his position in society--not only his material position, but his moral position--is implicated in and often jeopardized by the act of investigation, and it is not surprising, therefore, that behind the great bulk of social science we find arguments that serve to justify the existential position of the social scientists.

There are many examples of the staying power of belief systems despite their internal weaknesses. Perhaps the best known of these is the conflation of the physical agencies of land and resources with the social claims of "Land" and "Capital." At least since the time of John Stuart Mill, economists have understood the difference between the contribution of actual land and resources to production and the claims of their owners to a share in the product. The fact is, however, that economists continue to anthropomorphize property, speaking of land and capital as if they were embodiments of will and energy who would not perform their tasks if "they" (not their owners) were not motivated or rewarded by income. In this way, "land, labor and capital" are identified as the "factors of production," thereby tacitly eliding the crucial social difference between labor and property.

It is in this manner that economics spreads its ideological veil over capitalism, shielding from inspection its regimelike character and allowing us to see instead a depoliticized and desocialized "price system." The belief-systems by which we perceive capitalism in this manner present for our analysis very different kinds of problems from those that would strike us if we perceived it as otherwise. By screening out all aspects of domination and acquiescence, as well as those of affect and trust, it encourages us to understand capitalism as fundamentally "economic"--not social or political--in nature....

That which remains unacknowledged...is the substratum of beliefs that causes us to structure our perceptions in terms of an "economy" rather than a sociopolitical order; or to see "individuals" rather than individuated social beings; or two realms rather than a single unstably constituted regime. If I am correct that capitalism is moving through a period of difficult adjustment, perhpas the discrepancies and inadequacies of its regnant belief system will intensify, leading to a differently constituted, more historical and self-scrutinizing set of conceptual building blocks. But that is no more than a possibility. Dogma and increasingly rigid orthodoxy are responses to challenge as much as reflection and adaptation.

Robert L. Heilbroner, Behind the Veil of Economics

the level of aversion many of the scientific, technical and "nuts and bolts' types have to politics.

Hardly surprising. Many people choose science and engineering because they prefer to deal with ideas and things, rather than with people.

I suspect the reverse is also true: people who are drawn to politics have an aversion to science and engineering.

Older people seem to be the best at integrating both sides, perhaps because as you get older, you get bored with the things that fascinated you in your youth.

Very perceptive insight, Leanan.

I, being an engineer and part of the nerdy set, was apolitical until I was well into my 40s.

But now I find all that technical stuff so boring.

Politics, society, history and morality, however, now interest me greatly.

Not really my insight. I read it in some books about Myers-Briggs personality types. (Which I was forced to read in school. On my own, I probably wouldn't have read them. Understand other people? Why would I want to do that? ;-) They found that as people got older, their personality types softened. People who were extreme introverts grew more interested in other people as they aged, for example. A scientist who hated the idea of leaving her lab at age 35 might enjoy being a manager instead by age 60. And the motivation seemed to be boredom. After 20 or 30 or 40 years doing one kind of thing, you're ready to try something different.

I saw it happen with my mom. She's a teacher, who specialized in reading. I remember her hating math and science when I was growing up. But she got more and more interested in science as she got older, and ended up being a very good science teacher. She'd never have believed it 20 or 30 years earlier.

On a historical note, I happened to recall this:

A last example: Newton virtually gave up science during the last third of his life and spent his time studying the book of Daniel to find the truth about Armaggedon and the end of the world.

Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence

Before the end of days, you might learn that Daniel was not about Armageddon. The book of Revelation was considered to be forged by some of the early church. They wrote that it was not written by John the Apostle but by a false pen as many falsely contrived works signing the names of famous leaders to them. This book Revelation was said to be part memory of bits and pieces of other writings and part dream, and dreams do not always come true.

Newton did write much about Christianity and physics.

Newton was also an alchemist and searched for the philosopher's stone that would transmute lead into gold. He was an odd guy, while he was studying light he once stared at the sun too long and nearly blinded himself and had to sit in a dark room for a while. He also inserted a blunted needle-like tool in between his eye and socket as far back as it could go and pushed on one side to study the dark spot that appears on the opposite side of one's vision. He walked a fine line between great scientist and crackpot sometimes.

She's a teacher, who specialized in reading. I remember her hating math and science when I was growing up. But she got more and more interested in science as she got older, and ended up being a very good science teacher.

I'm feeling a bit that way (in reverse) myself. I was always big into math/science and against literature, politics, and poetry. Now I'd like to make up some of the lost ground.

...as you get older, you get bored with the things that fascinated you in your youth.

The only things that really fascinated me as a kid were critters, & critters are the only things that really fascinate me now.

If one were inclined to contact the president-elect during the formative period of his administration, one might start here:

Obama's transition web site

Share your ideas and concerns

Tell us your story and the issues that matter most to you. Share with us your concerns and hopes. – the policies you want to see carried out in the next four years.

The specific page for sending concerns and ideas.


Project censored does the top 25 censored and/or under reported stories every year.

Not a peep about Peak Oil

"Top 25 Censored Stories for 2009"


#1. Over One Million Iraqi Deaths Caused by US Occupation

# 21 NATO Considers “First Strike” Nuclear Option

I see that Dianne Feinstein fell out of Project Censored's Top 25 this year:

This is what we face in trying to bring Congress to heel: Billions in payoffs competing with vague moral prerogatives. Most of us care more about taking care of our own than "doing the right thing" for the Great Unwashed who may be doomed anyway.

I hate to say that I'm guilty of the same kind of selfish behaviors - minus several zeros, of course. I'm already set up better than so many, but there's always that next project, one more moat to dig, to secure the fate of the family just a little bit more.

But that very selfishness is one reason why my genes survived and I prospered, allowing me this time to reflect and regret.

Peak oil relies on many different disciplines in order to understand the threat. It's hard to see for many, except apparently for people like us.

Hi Soup,

Campbell and Laherrere made #21 back in 1999.


I believe the Hirsch Report made it right off the bat in '05 (out of time to look for it at the moment).

Thanks for that Aniya

Lets see what kind of press the up coming IEA report gets.


Retailers report steep October sales declines

NEW YORK - The nation’s retailers saw their sales plummet last month to what is likely the weakest October level in decades, as the financial crisis and mounting layoffs left shoppers too scared to shop.

The stunning drop-off from an already weak September performance is further darkening the outlook for the holiday season and dimming hopes for any industry recovery until at least the second half of next year.

As merchants reported their dismal sales figures Thursday, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, proved to be among the few bright spots as it benefits from shoppers focusing on buying basics at discounters.

I wonder if there might be a bit of a Christmas rebound, though. People don't seem to be quite as panicked now as they were last month, and of course, gas prices have fallen quite a bit.


The strength in Wal-Mart sales isn't too surprising. A friend in their management told they've been tracking a trend for a few months now: same store sales have increased but per customer purchases have declined. The interpretation: they are taking away customers from more upscale stores but are actually seeing less buying by their base. This makes sense: as folks are pinched economically they look for the best bargains. I'm sure many who have been critical of Wal-Mart practices sneak in when their friends aren't watching.

I'm sure many who have been critical of Wal-Mart practices sneak in when their friends aren't watching.

Not me. It's too far away.

Oh, I could afford the gas, and if I bought enough, it might even save me money. But I'm too lazy to drive that far just to shop.

I dunno. Friend in Honolulu just laid off from Toyota (he's worked for them for years.) Another friend in Austin, who works for Dell, said they are being offered severance packages and the company is offering to willing employees 5 days unpaid leave. He can't do either as he needs the job for a mortgage on a 5 story condo building which he and others are building and plan to live in. I was offered a place at the table, but declined as I think it is lunacy. They don't even have the construction loan yet.

I, too, feel like the unraveling is beginning. And more people will experience first-hand and second-hand what that means. And many of the second-hand experiencers (new word!) are in line to be first-hand.

Two of my five sisters work for an Austin reprographics company that does printing/copy work for builders. One sister is low on the totem pole and her husband is disabled from a stroke. Their medical expenses are outrageous. Before the new bankruptcy laws, she had a chance to declare. Wouldn't. Work ethic. They're screwed.

Lucklily, today I close on selling off 10 of 20 acres which will mostly pay off the mortgage (I'm coughing up the balance... and I do mean cough!) Tomorrow I'll worry about the other property mortgage which is due to reset 10/09. Yeah, I'm one of those who bought with a 5 year interest-only ARM. I did it, however, with a sizable down payment. Trying hard not to lose either property.

The 10 acres fetched 10K/acre and is hill country limestone with shallow soil. I have 8.5 acres further south (part of my parents estate) that is good soil, ag-exempt, grass pasture. Asking 8K/acre. No offers. Go figure.

Massive investment of more than $26 trillion will be needed over the next 20 years to ensure the world has enough energy, the International Energy Agency said in its latest World Energy Outlook (WEO).

"The immediate risk to supply is not one of a lack of global resources, but rather a lack of investment where it is needed."

Left unsaid is why, all of a sudden, we need massive investments to ensure enough energy. We never needed such big investments in the past, why do we need them now?

It's certainly amusing in a rather macabre way that IEA's knickers in a twist statement last week, about FT's story on the leaked 2008 WEO, was apparently much ado about nothing. The final decline figure - the key figure of course - was 8.6% rather than the earlier 9.1% figure.

This is of course huge news, and is not even being discussed on CNBC or in other mainstream media (yet). People just don't seem to get it.

At 8.6% decline from existing fields, we need well over 6 mbpd to maintain existing production, let alone actually go higher. The next year or so will apparently be okay, depending on how quickly the global economy recovers. After that, it looks really really bad.

It's also worth noting that the 2008 WEO apparently projects nominal oil prices over $200 a barrel by 2030, up from about $100/barrel in last year's WEO. This in itself should be huge news.

The meta-story here is that the IEA/EIA trends are clear: they are getting closer and closer to the peak oil crowd. They still pooh-pooh geological peak oil, but as we know the flow rate is the important thing.

FYI - IEA has for years been calling for very significant investments in new oil projects.

Not only that, but if the IEA is saying 9.1%, then 8.6%, what was the original number? They have a consistent track record of working hard to promote the cornucopian view, so my guess would be their actual initial findings exceeded 9.1%, and the grunts were pressured to work their numbers as much as possible to make them respectable/acceptable.

Regardless of whether the number is 9.1% or 8.6%, it matter which fields are being considered in this average. It is my understanding that these averages are just for fields that are actually in decline, not those that are increasing or on plateau. We need to understand exactly what the numbers represent, and to do this, we will probably need to see the report itself.

Gail, the news reports so from "existing fields," so it seems it would be all existing fields. I agree, though, that we need to see the full report before making any strong conclusions - or at least the summary.


I'm not sure I understand your statement regarding the lack of massive investments in the past. The energy we produce today as well as that we’ve used for the last 60 years or so has been the result of investments worth 100's of trillion of $'s (adjusted for inflation of course). Given the increased costs associated with finding energy today vs. 50 years ago I would guess the $26 trillion figure is an underestimate. But more importantly, I have some doubt that there will be a sufficient number of projects in the future that would require such monies.

Denninger's on a tear today:

More Bubblenomics and The Big Idea

Bankruptcy is in fact a cleansing mechanism in that it removes debt from the system and thereby reduces overall systemic leverage. While it is painful for the organization or individual who goes through it, and the knock-on effects frequently produce even more pain, it is the only way to eliminate excessive debt when one can no longer pay it down through growth.

The sooner we recognize this threat the less pain we take in total (not in the short term) extricating ourselves from this mess.

If we wait too long there is no extrication possible; we are then compelled to strike the singularity of a monetary reset, where the monetary system of the United States fails.

That event has a near-certainty of producing a political failure in the nation at or near the same time.

History tells us that nations caught in this mess, if they pass the event horizon of monetary failure and are representative governments, never escape without passing through a totalitarian regime.

He is a smart guy, but he misses or doesn't mention the fact that the monetary resets are underway-the plan is to devalue all the main currencies. This is the reason for record purchases of physical metals-gold and silver. A "failure" of the US dollar will be hidden as long as the Euro and Yuan move down in lockstep, as it appears they will. Published "inflation" stats can pretty well be anything you want them to be.

I don't quite understand where Denninger is going here.

Is he appealing to Marx? Or to those who fear Marx?

The notion of a society which achieves social harmony by prudence and a nice balance of competitive interests, is challenged by communism with the strategy of raising "class antagonisms" to a final climax of civil war. In this war the proletariat will "seize the state power" and thereby "put an end to itself as a proletariat" (Engels).

Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History

Or is his an appeal to the French Enlightenment and the American Creed?

The idea that men would not come in conflict with one another, if the opportunities were wide enough, was partly based upon the assumption that all human desires are determinate and all human ambitions ordinate. This assumption was shared by our Jeffersonians with the French Enlightenment... The same idea underlies the Marxist conception of the difference between an "economy of scarcity" and an "economy of abundance." In an economy of abundance there is presumably no cause for rivalry. Neither Jeffersonians or Marxists had any understanding for the perennial conflicts of power and pride which may arise on every level of "abundance" since human desires grow with the means of their gratification.


Either way, those who made similar predictions to those Denninger is now making have, in the past at least, been proven wrong:

European nations, on the other hand, frequently judge us according to our traditional theory. They fail to recognize that our actual achievements in social justice have been won by a pragmatic approach to the problems of power, which has not been less efficacious for its lack of consistent speculaton upon the problems of power and justice. Our achievments in this field represent the triumph of common sense over the theories of those social scientists who are still striving for a "scientific" and disinterested justice. We are, in short, more virtuous than our detractors, whether foes or allies, admit, because we know ourselves to be less innocent than our theories assume. The force and danger of self-interest in human affairs are too obvious to remain long obscure to those who are not too blinded by either theory or interest to see the obvious. The relation of power to interest on the one hand, and to justice on the other, is equally obvious. In our domestic affairs we have thus builded better than we knew because we have not taken the early dreams of our peculiar innocenty too seriously.


In this regard one should go back and listen again to Obama's speech Tuesday night:


Whoever wrote this speech was absolutely brilliant. Its appeal to the American Creed, to American Exceptioanlism:

It's the answer that led those who have been told for so long, by so many, to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful about what we can achieve, to put their hands on the arch of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

does not descend into demagoguery. This is so because those appeals to idealism are balanced by equally fervent appeals to commonsense:

The road ahead will be long. The climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term... It can't happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.

By the way, I agree 1000% with Denninger about the need for bankruptcies.

One for the engineers. I normally wouldn't post something from ABG, but I thought this was really interesting. What do the engineers among us think?


I think if you could build a linear generator around one of those (as shown), you could just as easily build one around a Stirling cycle engine. Then you could use the cold end of the engine for the air conditioning system.

Thats not a terribly new idea, ive been seeing that kicked around for some years now.
One immediate limitation that I see is that they rely on two stroke combustion. 2 strokes are typically quite a bit dirtier from an emissions perspective.

I havnt had a chance to play with one, but I imagine that with a lack of rotating mass they probably suffer when it comes to controlling speed. One still needs to reciprocate at the correct frequency to achieve 60Hz output, so presumably when extra load is applied the engine must increase effort to maintain "speed". That speed must remain within a fixed window of nominal.

In addition a rotating crankshaft splash lubricates the pistons, so in this case some secondary method would be required (or fuel/oil mix could be employed as per smaller 2-stroke egines) - although thats a minor technical challenge.

I will say this though, the main reason that typical engines/generators are only about 30% efficient at best doesnt have much to do with the conversion of reciprocating engergy into rotating energy, that part is very efficient. Most of the losses are due to the "cycle" efficiency, and thermal losses, which would remain in a design like this. So in other words this wouldnt represent a massive shift in efficiency - even if all the other challenges could be overcome.

If the engine's task is to charge batteries then frequency is not important.

If the engine's task is to charge batteries then frequency is not important.

That would be my take on it, the electricity is going to be rectified, converted to direct current for charging. Perhaps it might first be put through a transformer to change the voltage -but most transformers can operate under a range of frequencies.

Of course thermo-electric generators could be used to recover up to ten percent of the waste heat, and a natural use would be charging a hybrids batteries. But that is likely to be a rather modest efficiency bump.

One problem I see right off the top: this design needs to use the less efficient 2-stroke combustion cycle unless you have mechanical linkages and whatnot that reintroduce the mechanical losses of the conventional IC engine.

Small gas turbines would be a good choice for hybrids, as would 6-stroke engines if the engineering issues with either can be resolved.

Small turbines have efficiency problems, but they are mechanically simple and can be produced down far further than they are practical. That said, the mechanical simplicity makes them easy to produce and service, and they can run on anything that burns and won't tear up their fuel pump.

6 stroke IC engines add a steam power/cooling stroke to the currently standard 4 stroke cycle, the problems here are cold weather issues with the water supply and corrosion issues.

This design doesn't pass this (admittedly electrical) engineer's BS detector at all.

I agree with r4ndom. In a 2 stroke engine, up to 30% of the fuel leaves the combustion chamber unburned. This is a huge liability.

Also, I would say most of the friction losses in an engine are in the valve train and piston rings. The other big loss is in compressing the charge. The friction of turning a crankshaft alone is minimal; you can easily turn one by hand on even the largest engines I've had apart.

I don't believe the efficiency of a modern engine is limited by converting linear motion of the piston to rotary motion. It's really a matter of converting the heat of combustion into a force downward on the piston-something this design doesn't address at all, imho. It's thermodynamics and how the temperature of a gas relates to its pressure. Dang, I wish I remember more from my thermo class! Any pertenant info from a bona fide engine designer would be welcome at this point, but it would take some convincing to get me to change my assessment from "thumbs down".

Direct injection eliminates the problem of unburned fuel going out the exhaust.

I'm not an engine designer but I am an aerospace engineer so I can offer something on the topic of thermodynamics.

The main issue with combustion engines tends to be one of Enthalpy. Enthalpy, in a nutshell, is the amount of useful work that you can possibly extract from a given volume of fluid. In the case of an engine, that fluid is hot exhaust gas immediately after ignition.

Combustion increases the enthalpy of the gas in the chamber, thus increasing its temperature and pressure. This creates a huge difference in pressure between the top and bottom of the piston head, forcing it downward (I apologize for the lesson, just trying to help the point I'm about to make). The point is, the more the exhaust gas expands inside the combustion chamber (the longer the stroke), the more energy is extracted from it. That's a big part of why diesel engines are more efficient (higher compression ratio).

Some schemes like this may get a marginal increase in efficiency, but the limits of energy extraction from temperature gradients dictate that it can only go so far. This bit of information suggests that a more prudent approach would be to use better materials to allow the engine to operate at a higher temperature.

A seperate issue is the loss of heat via conduction, i.e. the hor gases lose heat to the cyllinder walls. Ideally the post combustion gases would expand adiabatically (i.e. with loss of heat), but the walls of the engine conduct some of the heat away. I think this is a big pert of the poor scaling to small sizes.

Interesting stat not promoted: China monthly auto sales are now 66% of USA totals (552000/838000).

Another interesting stat I've seen only once: GM makes more profit from one vehicle model than all their other models combined. It's a dinky little 4-cycl station wagon they build and sell in China. Now if they could just ditch all those US car models.

GM makes and sells weanie cars around the world, but the macho Americans, including many women want a BIG MONSTER of car, pick up, SUV or maybe even a friggin earth mover -- just to go back and forth mostly in town. GM buys the the 800 cc Matiz from Daewoo and sells it in Europe and Mexico, and prolly lots of other places, but not in the U.S. Not only do U.S. consumers want a BIG MONSTER, but it must have an enormous V-8 or even V-10, even though no car or pick up needs more than a V-6, usually a small one.

In USA, roughly all new car sales are matched by one scrapped (1% annual growth ?)

In China, a couple of years ago, I read 9 new for every one scrapped (and that one is usually totaled in accident).

So Chinese new cars are mostly new demand.

Not Such Great Hopes,


Hello TODers,

Does the ongoing Credit Crunch indicate that we will have less to munch?

Brazil Cuts Soybean, Corn Forecast on Fertilizer Cost (Update1)

Soybean output in Brazil, the world's second-biggest producer, will unexpectedly fall next year as farmers lack credit to buy more expensive fertilizer, the government said.

..The global credit crunch came as farmers in Brazil sought financing to finish buying fertilizers for planting this month. The lack of credit means some regions will cut planting, and the reduced use of fertilizers may trim yields, Conab said.

Next link is on the Chinese fertilizer forecast:

Market analysts at China's leading B2B search platform, Himfr.com, with more than 10 B2B industry websites to its name, pointed out that the close relationship between chemical fertilizers and crops dictates that the growth rate of fertilizer sales will maintain or surpass its current 5.9% pace into the future.

Himfr's analysts forecast that in 2010 the domestic use of chemical fertilizers will reach 60.7 million tons, while in 2007 the domestic fertilizer use rate was only 51 million tons. So in the next three years, domestic demand for fertilizer will at least maintain the growth rate of 5.9%.

Cultivation industry's changes dictate fertilizer industry's future

As market changes have caused domestic plantation structures to change, the ratio of land used for crops has declined, and the proportion of cash crop area has increased. Cash crops have become the main reason for fertilizer consumption. The four major food crops (wheat, rice, maize and soybeans), saw their proportion of fertilizer consumption drop to 47%, while cash crops' fertilizer consumption proportion rose to 53%. Among these, vegetables and orchards are the main consumers of fertilizer, accounting for 34% of total consumption.
From this info: evidently, China is not expected to have the farm credit problems that Brazil and other countries are undergoing.

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

Obviously if China's leaders intend to prevent social unrest they must protect grain production at the expense of other crops. Does anyone know what China's main efforts have been in finding substitutes for chemical fertilizers, other than reverting back to manure? Do they have any biochar research? I would certainly be interested in any research involving bamboo.

Mr Totoneila Sir,

I have begun to write in earnest regarding fertilizer issues:


I should very much like to quote you in future works in this area ... assuming you approve?



Great story in the link. A question I would like to add (since we are changing administrations) is as follows: Are government subsidies for farmers a good or bad thing? On the pro-subsidies side, this ends up creating more food at a lower cost, hence our (America's) ability to export food worldwide and feed the world. On the anti-subsidies side, subsidies promote an increased supply of food and therefore a decreased price. This decreased price hurts small farmers and pushes many of them out of business.

What's your take?

Are you asking whether ag subsidies are bad as practiced now, or in principle? They could be used to guarantee price floors so that farmers would be encouraged to plant even when commodities crash - or they could pay farmers to not plant. So as usual, total laissez-faire might give as bad an outcome as a command economy, but to work any better, an intelligently managed system would require, well, intelligence.
Peak brains?

Mr. Cole's Axiom:
The sum of the intelligence on the planet is a constant; the population is growing.


Brains peaked long ago. It's a well known fact that intelligence (measured as IQ) and fecundity are strongly negatively correlated. Fisher devoted the entire 2nd half of his famous 1930 book to the implications of this correlation. Since mean IQ is set at 100, an IQ of 100 today is the equivalent of 90 several generations ago. Just exactly when did brains peak? It happened when cultural innovations began to preserve the lives of those selection would have weeded out for stupidity.

I think that this is an 'economic' question and I use it in the same sense that I would use the word voodoo.

We face dramatic, wrenching changes due to peak oil, global warming, and the financial collapse. Our gardens are one line of defense but we need to treat our agriculture in a similar fashion at a national level, fertilizing, literally and figuratively, and pruing things back where needed. We'll just have to see how subsidies go, but our foolish engagement in this so called 'free market' has wrecked us - let's not have a repeat of that on the food security front.

Hello SCT,

You, and all my fellow TODers, have my permission to quote me as desired with proper attribution. I am a big proponent of leveraging Peak Outreach ideas over the WWWeb for the benefit of all as long as original creation credit is extended to the author [or at a bare minimum: the writer at least admits that he/she recalls something read earlier somewhere, but cannot now remember or find the author].

Admittedly, there will always be some occurrences of deliberately intentional, willful plagiarism by some lazy writers overeager in their non-weblinked 'cut & paste' zeal to help virally-spread a good idea, so in the long run: even this is good for society, but devastating to the plagiarist.

The power of search engines makes it much easier to find plagiarism, but IMO, any writer should be proud to give sourced quotations or information, as we all stand on the shoulders of those that have gone before. It enhances the trustworthiness and reputation of the writer to give credit where credit is due. Try to imagine submitting a long and detailed book or report without a bibliography and footnotes: the potential publisher would throw the author out of the meeting.

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

Hey there totoneila,

As an ecologist, and an organic gardener, and a teacher thereof, I surely appreciate and resonate with your messages down the years. I suppose you could call me a fan.

But I have to ask, and I hope I'm not out of line here, but just what the heck does "totoneila" mean? :-)

Hello Sgage,

Thxs for asking, but my webname is not a topic for discussion. :)

Also, just to make sure I give credit where credit is due in my earlier post: "standing on the shoulders of others that have gone before"--Fig Newton? :)

“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”

Isaac Newton quotes (English Mathematician and Physicist, "father of the modern science", 1642-1727)

You rascal! :-)

Toto is an alien named Ot Ot.

How do I know?

Read his name backwards.

Hi Bob,

re: "but cannot now remember or find the author"

With a line like "Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?", we will never, ever forget you.:)

Permaculture Course Starting Nov 22-Last chance to register


Please contact us ASAP if you want to register for the upcoming Permaculture Design Certificate Course at Camp Epworth, High Falls, NY. Contact: Joan or Wilton at 845-687-7646

TEACHERS: Ethan Roland, Andrew and Shenaqua Jones, Kay Cafasso, Rafter Sass, Anya Raskin and Friends.

DATES: Arrivals Friday evening or Saturday morning, November 22-23, December 13-14, January 10-11, February 14-15, March 14-15, April 4-5

COST: Sliding Scale $800-1200, $700-1200 for commuters and students who bring someone else. Non refundable deposit of $100 plus at least partial payment of full tuition.

DONATIONS: We would be very grateful for any donations people would like to offer toward a scholarship fund to assist students who might not otherwise be able to attend the class.

Checks for your fully tax deductible donations can be made out to Green Phoenix Permaculture, 8 Epworth Lane, High Falls, NY 12440.

Vote for bigger hen cages for could cause big changes

Ha, go California! When I lived there, I was surprised by just how different California is from the rest of the U.S. -- I thought it strange that they had signs on the chemical treated lawns that they were treated with potentially harmful substances and that pregnant women in particular should take care. They had the same signs up in the laundromats (from bleach maybe? I'm not sure) and a few other places. I wondered what pregnant women were supposed to do, because those signs seemed like they were everywhere! As silly as they can seem occasionally though, I have to say that they more often than not stand by their principles and force change. This is a great case:

The measure, which takes effect in 2015, will require egg farms to give hens more room than the standard 67-square-inches each. Producers say the resulting expenses will drive egg prices up and make their eggs uncompetitive with those from other states and Mexico.

The farmers have six years to replace their cages with bigger ones and I'm sure there will be a cost attached to it (probably more from the decreased number of cages for a given henhouse than the cages themselves), but I bet the consumers that voted for this will be willing to pay the extra cost for the bigger cages as long as they knew which were which.

I've often wondered if they would ever secede during times like when the federal administration is stonewalling them on limiting their carbon emissions, or threatening to take away the medical practitioner's license for any doctor that prescribes marijuana, which is legal there. If California was its own country, they might do alright assuming they were left in peace -- It would be the fifth largest economy in the world.

Im worried that consumers wont pay attention and during a time like this where folks are penny pinching they may just buy out of state produce becuase its cheaper.

If I am an egg farmer in CA right now (Joe the egg farmer?), im probably wondering how Im going to compete with egg farmers in AZ or NV. They will be able to farm more intensively and undercut my prices.

The end result could be californian egg farmers (along with other types of farmers) going under, and californians getting their food at the end of an even longer supply chain - and still using the intensive methods.

The law of unintended consequences?

But dont take this to mean Im not in favor of animal rights, or more humane conditions.

Black swan eggs?

Yes! Yes! If California secedes, I will move back to the US. The other 49 need it FAR more than it needs them. And we are treated like dirt by DC no matter which party is in charge: Republicans ignore/harm us because we didn't vote them in and Democrats ignore us because they know we won't vote Republican. The high-speed rail project will be the ultimate test: we are counting on 200% buy-in from the Feds to make the project a reality.

From McKibbin's Toplink:

"The melting Arctic is the call from the repo man.

Any hope of succeeding will require Obama to grasp, deep in his guts, the fact that climate, energy, food, and the economy are now hopelessly intertwined, and that trying to solve any one of these problems without taking on the others simply makes all of them worse."

McKibben's cautiously optimistic for Obama, noting Obama's quote:

""under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket" -- which is a sign of someone who is aware there may be a reality to come to grips with. "

I see much of the solution will come from another toplink: Time to go against the grain

"Powering the whole system was grass.

The pasture field acts as a vast solar panel, capturing solar energy in the chloroplasts of leaves and using it to build sugars from atmospheric carbon dioxide. Not only did grassland produce copious amounts of food, it removed carbon from the air into the soil and slowed climate change."

Report: Putin may return to Kremlin in 2009

MOSCOW - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev could resign from his post in 2009 to pave the way for Vladimir Putin to return to the Kremlin, Vedomosti newspaper reported on Thursday, citing an unidentified source close to the Kremlin.

Medvedev Wednesday proposed increasing the presidential term to six years from four years, a step the newspaper said was part of a plan drawn up by Vladislav Surkov, who serves as Medvedev's first deputy chief of staff.

Under the plan, Medvedev could implement changes to the constitution and unpopular social reforms "so that Putin could return to the Kremlin for a longer period," the newspaper said.

From today's TTAC:

Why the GM/Cerberus/Chrysler Bailout is bad for taxpayers and doomed to fail without the benefits of a Chapter 11 filing for both Chrysler and GM

Cerberus Capital, a highly secretive NYC-based vulture investment fund, wants the U.S. government and taxpayers to bailout its failed investment in Chrysler and its failing investment in GMAC. Its partner in this raid on the US Treasury is General Motors, a woefully insolvent automobile manufacturer whose CEO is paid $40k each day. Here’s why a bailout for GM and/or Chrysler is a bad idea.

Full article at: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/editorial-why-the-gmcerberuschrysler-ba...

given GM's role in pumping up the housing bubble, which has now been popped to obscure peak oil, it's only fair that they should be rewarded with a taxpayer bailout.

Results 1 - 10 of about 116,000 for ditech GM

Despite advertising efforts, ditech's loans and mortgages have been categorized as subprime lending products. Ditech was a pioneer in offering 125 percent loans, in which the borrower could get more than the property was worth. It specialized in low-documentation mortgages, or state income loans where, unfortunately, many borrowers falsified their income.

ditech wikipedia

pictures of "ned the banker", who complained 24/7 for years that he "lost another one to ditech", have been purged from the internets. the below is the only surviving return from a google image search of "ned ditech".


...and we cant overlook the usefulness of knocking oil prices down by 60% in preparation for a horrific spike when hormuz is closed in the iran war.

Schwarzenegger: $4.4B in tax hikes to cut deficit


Economic news is pretty dreary today.

It's increasingly job losses, rather than bad loans, driving foreclosures:

Mounting job losses fueling foreclosures

There's increasing fear of inflation:

Deflation: the new threat

The rate cuts are so severe, though, they suggest that the issue isn't the absence of fear about inflation. Rather, it's that bankers are worried that the destruction of trillions of dollars of wealth in the collapse of the housing and stock markets will stem demand for goods of all sorts, creating the kind of falling price environment not seen here since the 1930s.

Central bankers "are really scared now," says Lena Komileva, an economist at financial information broker Tullett Prebon in London. "It won't be long till deflation becomes an everyday concern."

Many economists say there's no reason well-managed modern economies should ever have to fret over the prospect of deflation - a drop in the money supply that, by making cash more valuable and lowering prices, slows economic activity and increases the debt burden on people and companies. As Fed chief Ben Bernanke infamously noted in a 2002 speech, a government pushed to the brink has a surefire remedy for falling prices: the printing press.

But the events of the past year have made clear that the mere threat of cranking out more currency isn't enough to restore debt-engulfed economies to equilibrium.

Fortune thinks Lawrence Summers is in the lead for Treasury Secretary:

Once and future Treasury Secretary?

Boo if it's true. Summers, along with Greenspan and Rubin, made this mess.

Oh, and the Dow is down about 450 points.


I think you meant to write: "There's increasing fears of deflation."

On a more important point, we need to recognize that monetary policy works with long and unpredictable time lags. This problem of long and variable time lags between the implementation and the result of monetary policy is one of the central insights of Milton Friedman, and if you accept the fact of these time lags it is a strong argument against the discretionary use of monetary policy and in favor of monetarism.

Probably the Fed will overshoot in its fight against deflation, and the likely result will be an abrupt increase in inflation, six to eighteen months from now. (Friedman argued that sometimes the maximum effect of monetary policy was felt after thirty-six months).

In any case, we should not expect rapid results from expansionary monetary policy.

Deflation for homes & durable goods. Inflation for commodities. The worst of both worlds for the "consumer."

The consumer is going to face declining standards of living (as conventionally measured) for at least the next fifteen years and possibly twenty years as oil production declines from the plateau that it is now on.

In other words, I expect a Greater Depression as a result of declining net oil exports. When will this Greater Depression end? When and only when we make a successful transition away from oil and gas. I cannot imagine such a transition in less than fifteen years.

Fortunately, I'm used to eating rice, beans, cabbage, and peanut butter, and I own a good set of long underwear. My own standard of living peaked a few years ago, and for the rest of my life I expect to seen nothing but further decline. For now my pension and Social Security income is ample, but as the years go by I'll probably become economically dependent on my children.

Long underwear is the key to making through the New Hampshire winter. With the right clothes, Winter is quite doable.

Ancient Russian proverb: "No such thing as bad weather - only bad clothing".

More and bigger stone heads. Rising tide.

I'm leaving the "Impeach" bumpersticker on my car.

cfm in Gray, ME

I'm getting a new one; "Prosecute"

CNN is reporting that the new Treasury Secretary could be Tim Geithner.

CNN also has a story about Obama's energy program. It looks to me like it's all about conservation, conservation, conservation.


Predictable problems for casino companies in Vegas:


I guess Adelson didn't get the memo to "Cut thy spending and get thee to the non-discretionary side of the economy."

Nov. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Las Vegas Sands Corp., billionaire Sheldon Adelson's casino company, fell the most in New York trading since going public after saying it may default on debt and face bankruptcy. The casino owner, which had $8.8 billion in long-term debt at the end of June, said in a regulatory filing today that it probably won't meet the requirements of loans arranged by Citigroup Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. unless it cuts spending on developments, boosts earnings at its Las Vegas Strip casinos and raises more capital.

The reversal of fortune is a black eye for the 75-year-old Adelson, who was once America's third-richest man on the strength of his Las Vegas Sands holdings. The Las Vegas-based company's dwindling cash flow is threatening $16 billion worth of developments in Macau, China, and Singapore, where Las Vegas Sands is building resorts to cater to wealthy Asian gamblers.

The Dow is down 431 points for the day. I was following the ticker live in the final seconds, and it was down 451 literally two seconds before 4pm, and down about 490 one to two minutes before the close. Can someone explain this to me?

Its actually down 443.48 for the day. The last minute jump of 50 points seems to correlate with the market's apparent floor of around 8700. If we can break this bottom for more than a week , then who knows where we go from there. Also, its important to note that November 15 is the last day for an investor to pull money from a hedge fund for the 4th quarter. Apparently, many hedge funds are already being slammed with redrawl requests and are freezing their accounts.

Won't news of widespread freezes result in a run on the funds?

GILD Arbitrage, Baltic Hedge Fund, Halts Redemptions Until May

GILD Arbitrage , the first registered Baltic hedge fund, will halt redemptions and subscriptions until May 5, citing ``market turbulence.''link

Blue Mountain Freezes Its Largest Hedge Fund

Blue Mountain Capital Management froze its largest hedge fund after clients asked to pull a “meaningful percentage” of their money.link

Hedge fund Autonomy Capital halts withdrawals

We are witnessing Hedge Fund Meltdown. Hedge funds are being forced to liquidate their equity positions to cover redemptions. Over the next week we will witness a hedge fund 'bank run'.

NYTimes shows it down 443.48 at close.

This appears to be the document that all those news articles are based on:

IEA World Energy Outlook: Executive Summary [PDF]

Still not the complete report, but interesting.

Yes, this is just one of them.

Energy agency forecasts oil reaching $200

Global oil production is set to sputter by 2010, with a lack of fresh investment and the depletion of oil fields likely to trigger another big spike in prices, the International Energy Agency said yesterday.

It should be pointed out that the very first paragraph of the IEA summary reads as follows... (the bold type is theirs)

The world’s energy system is at a crossroads. Current global trends in energy supply and consumption are patently unsustainable — environmentally, economically,socially. But that can — and must — be altered; there’s still time to change the road we’re on. It is not an exaggeration to claim that the future of human prosperity depends on how successfully we tackle the two central energy challenges facing us today: securing the supply of reliable and affordable energy; and effecting a rapid transformation to a low-carbon, efficient and environmentally benign system of energy supply. What is needed is nothing short of an energy revolution.

Since I began following this issue in the summer of 2006, there has been enormous advances in officialdom's recognition of the energy situation. In fact, there is clear evidence that the EIA in the US started to get religion in the fall of 2005. Soon after that, in their next world outlook, their high price case predictions suddenly changed to indicate no increase in conventional oil production for the next 25 years.

It has taken the IEA at little longer to get on board, but they have gone further and made it their base case.

Yeah, but the rest of the report doesn't match that opening paragraph.

Most of the executive summary is used to outline their Reference Scenario. This is explicitly "more of the same". i.e. not changing anything or as folks like to say: BAU.

from page 2:

More of the same: a vision of a laisser-faire fossil-energy future
In our Reference Scenario, world primary energy demand grows by 1.6% per year on average in 2006-2030, from 11 730 Mtoe to just over 17 010 Mtoe — an increase of 45%. To illustrate the course on which we are set, this scenario embodies the effects of those government policies and measures that were enacted or adopted up to mid-2008, but not new ones. This provides a baseline against which we can quantify the extent to which we need to change course. [italics added]

They believe the Reference Scenario is unsustainable.

To me, it reads like a report put together by a committee. Which of course, it is.

the truth about anything this important is pretty much intolerable.

Yes. The document pulls in various directions. For instance: they want to pressure OPEC to invest more upstream (more oil). But want emissions tightly controlled (less oil).

The reference case sounds like advocacy at times. There is no blunt talk about conservation in the sense of simply cutting back. The hand of the Dark Lord is still felt.

Heard/saw on CNN that the Obama-Biden transition team has a new web site up: change.gov

There's a place to submit your thoughts, ideas, etc and (can't find it now), but a place to submit a job application.

A blog too...not sure it's really up and running though.


Submit "your vision":


I'd encourage all here to send a message of your version of power down, rewiring, spider-web rails, O-NPK recycling, a national lifeboat plan...

I just sent them my version of a TOD inspired message.

Mr. President-Elect,

Paragraph Omitted

I am not immediately concerned for my job; I feel that it is stable. However, I am concerned that even this incredible company, a hallmark of American ingenuity that I have recently become a part of, may face a shortage of business in the coming decades, perhaps much sooner.

The global financial crisis and looming recession are not the cause of my concern. Rather, they are the symptoms of the cause. I implore you to consider addressing the issue of declining world oil supply directly and openly with the American people. I have been researching the problems emerging in the oil industry for a limited amount of time, and already I can see the scientific validity and terrifying implications of oil depletion.

On a more positive note, many of the solutions to address oil depletion are the exact same solutions needed to address anthropogenic climate change. I am speaking of rebuilding our freight and passenger rail infrastructure (to include electricified rail), modernization of our power distribution systems, construction of sustainable energy infrastructure (especially wind power), and a transition to more sustainable agriculture (perhaps the most challenging task on my list).

I would also like to note that the, "coal-belt" regions around Pennsylvania and Ohio will benefit more in the long term from a transition in their economies toward accomplishing the goals I have outlined than a ramping up of their coal mining operations as you have subtly hinted at throughout your election campaign.

On the subject of coal, I would like to note that it is a potentially effective solution to our energy depletion problems, but a serious detriment to any efforts to slow or reverse climate change. Clean coal technology is not proven, and you should not attempt to stimulate its growth unless it soon becomes proven. The primary unsolved problem with coal is what to do with all that carbon dioxide.

On a final note, I would also like to point out that the American people, myself included, are ready to make sacrifices far exceeding checking our tires and buying compact fluorescent bulbs. If we don't make sacrifices now, we will face dire consequences in the near future. I urge you to ask the nation to implement widespread energy conservation strategies as a first step in solving our energy and climate issues.

Thank you for your consideration.

Joseph M. Basile

On a note unrelated to current events and more related to TOD itself:

Is it possible to change the threads so that when you load up a story, only the replies to the story itself are expanded, and all sub threads are collapsed. That way, the pages with hundreds of replies and discussions, like the daily drumbeat, would load much faster. This could also help the website keep up with traffic... especially once oil prices go back up. ha.

Has this been suggested before?
Is this possible to set up?
Is it a good idea?

Feel free to rate my comment up or down as to whether its a worthwhile idea.

you could do this: hit the "permalink" button or the "parent subthread" button of the post you want to navigate back to.

the url of that post will appear in your browser window.

paste that into an application that makes urls clickable, along with a note describing the post.

for instance, this post i'm replying to is "http:// www.theoildrum.com/node/4733#comment-430861 TOD navigation"

when i want to come back to that post, i can go to my primitive little database and click on the url.

Re: Arnie Schwarzenegger may be Obama's Energy Secretary

I would like for Obama to appoint Al Gore.

I am impressed by California's project for a high speed electric train but distressed at it price of $45 billion to $60 billion for 800 miles of track and 20 years for completion. Peak oil demands greater economy and urgency.

Downsouth, thank you for the encouragement!

ccpo, Enzwell, Freeyourmind: Thank you for posting the potentially useful links to President Elect Obama's transition team 'suggestion line' and for sharing an example letter!

I plan to send a letter to this site this weekend, and write Congressfolks, starting with the new, Blue NM delegation, and the Governor. My pitch to Jeff Bingaman (might be the new Energy Secretary), Tom Udall, Ben-Ray Lujan, Martin Henreich, and Bill Richardson is to advocate a national energy plan with one of the motivators being bringing jobs to NM. NM has very ample, bright sunshine...plenty of wind in the Eastern part near TX...geothermal sources...and is the home of Sandia Labs and DOE energy labs...we can develop wind, solar, geothermal and nuclear power. Hopefully it will spread to AZ so that they close their dirty coal plants that create a lot of the green smog that drifts our way. Maybe we could close the Four Corners coal plant while we are at it. We should save coal for non-fuel petrochemical uses anyway.

NM should court electric/hybrid car companies as well (we tried for the Tesla WhiteStar plant, but it went to San Fran (if it ever gets built)).

Alan, we have the Albuquerque Rail Runner from Los Lunas through Albuquerque to Bernalillo...extending to Santa Fe next year. My wife and I rode it to a wine fest...very nice. They need to run this line from El Paso to Cheyenne, WY along I-25...eventually morph it to high-speed rail. Next we need better bus service...no more of those huge articulated monsters...more smaller buses like the stretch vans that serve as airport shuttles...make these electric. More, smaller 'buses' that serve more stops in more neighborhoods more frequently. Weather is almost always nice here so several shuttle bus transfers are no big deal, as long as they run on schedule. We need to add more pull-outs for buses so as not to snarl the car traffic...which hopefully would decrease with better bus service. Trains for longer city-to-city distances (at least less than 500 miles apart) and buses in town (cheaper and more flexible to change with demand).

I would encourage everyone to write letters (emails) to all the Congressfolks, the governors, the President, the newspapers, etc. to push the move away from oil, starting with making enough alt energy electricity to fuel electric vehicles so we get off the teet of ME oil. This can be sold as a nationalistic, national security and create American jobs goal to a certain crowd, and a reduce greenhouse gases and reduce environmental damage to another crowd. In reality, both messages should resonate with a significant union of both these crowds. I would rather smelt and use Copper than burn oil...at least Copper and other such materials in electric cars and wind turbines etc. can be recycled...oil turns to CO2.

This first step can be sold as a win-win to the masses, and even better, we aren't fibbing to them. It has been said that there is enough wind energy in the Dakotas to power current US demad...that the entire US demand could be satisfied with a 100 mile square (10x10 or 100x100?) array of 18% efficient PV cells. Energy storage for wind and solar remains a challenge, as well as building a new, more extensive smart grid, but we can solve it with enough ingenuity. And we haven;t even touched the idea of off-shore wind proximate to major coastal population centers, or wide-scale adoption of ground heat pumps for residential use (more oil saved, esp in the North East).

This is an exciting time...if we can't get some of these projects moving in the next administration, we might as well drop back five yards and punt!

Here's to communicating with the folks in government to foment positive change!


While I certainly agree for National Security reasons we must be much more energy independent, the real question is how do we go about achieving that goal? Several of the articles mention wind, solar, geothermal and even Hydropower projects should all be looked at in the short term. But none of them are suitable for automobiles, farm tractors, etc. I think nuclear is a bad option for three reasons, the incredible costs associated with these plants, they don't have an adequate solution for the waste and is a terrible legacy to leave our children, and finally they will always become potential terrorist targets. The one true clean and and almost unlimited source of energy is Hydrogen as it is the most abundant element in the known universe. Hydrogen can be made from saltwater, the most abundant resource on planet earth. It could very well replace all hydrocarbon based fuels in the future and be completely non-polluting and reduce the effects of global warming. I still have a problem with that one because no one has explained why the polar icecaps on Mars are also melting, but that is another story. I wrote this article several years ago and I hope someone finds it interesting enough to look into why Hydrogen is not mentioned more when it comes to becoming energy independent. With a cheap, clean totally renewable source of energy we can move our economy forward. We conceiveably could become an energy exporter instead of an importer. Hundreds of thousands of good paying new jobs would be created directly and indirectly as a result. I apologize for the verbose nature of the article but there are many more aspects that I would like to touch on but won't here. With the energy that could be provided by Hydrogen, America's best days could still be ahead. We just need someone with the vision to make it happen. Here is the article I wrote and how I would expect us to achieve energy independence. It will not happen as someone on a talk show in Boston said recently that thousands of inventors working in their garages will come up with an idea that will make us energy independent. Only the Government has the resources and manpower to make it happen and only under an agency similar to NASA can make it work. I would hope that the oil companies would get on board and be major developers, contributors and conduits for the creation and distribution of new Hydrogen stations that would replace our current gasoline stations. Three Hydrogen powered vehicles recently visited us here in Maine and they ran on actual Hydrogen and not fuel cell batteries that some people have envisioned. A reporter in one of the States they had previously visited even drank the water from the tailpipe of one of the vehicles, and yes she is just fine. This proves the practicality of Hydrogen powered vehicles and the benefits for the environment. We may need to attack energy independence from many different angles but Hydrogen holds out the most hope for a cleaner earth and a reduction in tensions due to a dwindling supply of fossil fuels. Don't let the new Government Jimmy Carter us into believing we can't solve the energy crisis or improve ours and the world's economy, we can. YES WE CAN!


On October 4, 1957 a full-scale crisis erupted in the United States when the Soviets launched Sputnik 1, the world's first artificial satellite. This had a "Pearl Harbor" effect on American public opinion, creating at least the illusion of a technological gap and provided the impetus for increased spending on aerospace endeavors, technical and scientific educational programs, and the chartering of new federal agencies to manage air and space research and development. Congress and the President of the United States created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on October 1, 1958. NASA's birth was directly related to the pressures of national security. Then on May 25, 1961 President Kennedy announced before a Joint Session of Congress the dramatic and ambitious goal of sending an American safely to the Moon and back before the end of the decade. This decision involved enormous human efforts and expenditures to make the July 20, 1969 moon landing a reality, only the Panama Canal in peacetime and the Manhattan Project during wartime were comparable in scope. I doubt few would argue that the moon landings would not have been possible during that time frame without the creation of NASA to oversee and manage one of mans most ambitious undertakings. We face a real crisis today of greater proportion than the early space race between two superpowers, and that is the energy crisis. Even if we forget about the global warming debate for now, we know that asthma and other lung diseases are a big problem for children and the elderly, particularly from smog in California and acid rain in the Eastern States from coal burning power plants in the Midwest. It is obvious that even if we can find more fossil fuel by drilling off our coasts and elsewhere we will only continue to pollute the atmosphere and speed the pace of global warming.

We are told that spent fuel rods from nuclear power plants remain lethal to humans for thousands of years. Is this a legacy we want to leave our children and their children? Also the threat of terrorist attacks against nuclear power plants makes this choice an unwise one, at least for now. Is it sane policy to continue giving billions of dollars to unstable terrorist regimes in the Middle East such as Iran, while they continue to develop nuclear weapons to possibly use against Israel or the United States? Not only Iran but also other supposedly friendly rich oil producing countries in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia secretly donates millions of dollars to extremist and terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Clearly we must stop giving billions of dollars to these countries, and the only way to do that is by becoming energy independent. If the sputnik was deemed to be such a national security issue that it necessitated the creation of NASA, doesn’t it also just make sense that a similar agency be created to handle the very real energy crisis and by extension global warming? It may require a new separate agency or maybe dual roles could be created for NASA’s scientists and engineers, which would give it a goal and sense of direction that it seems to have been lacking for some years now. Space exploration may be important and necessary but if the planet becomes uninhabitable because of wars or global warming such exploration would seem superfluous. The scientists and engineers that enabled us to reach the moon should now turn their many talents to developing new sources of clean, renewable sources of energy, to ease the threat of global warming, and to cut off the funds that are now being funneled to terrorist organizations. One of the most promising sources of renewable energy that is available now, is Hydrogen. The world’s oceans cover three quarters of the earth’s surface making it one of the most abundant resources on the planet and an almost unlimited source of Hydrogen. Most people are aware that the byproduct of burning Hydrogen is water, what could possibly be cleaner or better? We are told that currently it takes more energy to produce Hydrogen then is returned, but that is just an engineering problem that could be quickly solved. Think of the Wright Brothers and the first Airplane. Everyone except a few, thought it would never get off the ground and after it did, that it would never be of any practical use. Hydrogen should first be used to replace coal burning power plants in the Midwest, which along with producing electricity also produces air pollution, acid rain and a host of health related problems here in the East. If handled properly Hydrogen is no more dangerous than gasoline or any of the other flammable gases and liquids routinely used in this country safely, each and every day. It would still be far less dangerous to this country than a nuclear Cherynoble would be, if that were to happen here, whether due to human error or a terrorist attack. Some experimentation is already taking place with Hydrogen fuel cells to power automobiles and some talk in Congress about developing other energy alternatives, but no comprehensive plan of action or set timetables to bring this to fruition. The creation of an Agency similar to NASA is not just one way to achieve the goal of energy independence; it may be the only way. For example imagine if we had worked on going to the moon the way we are now working towards energy independence, it is unlikely we would have ever made it into outer space, let alone have landed on the moon. NASA has been an agency in search of a mission these past few years, why not change their mission from going to dead planets to saving this one from becoming a dead planet. If not NASA itself then Congress to should create a similar agency that has total energy independence within ten years as its stated goal. Much like the space program the research into Hydrogen and other renewable and non-polluting sources of energy will lead to new spin-off industries and technologies that will pave the way for future high paying jobs and as yet unrealized but almost certain opportunities.

So what are the problems concerning the creation of such an agency? It appears that not only this President and his administration, but also much of Congress are in big oil’s pocket. With billions of dollars in profits being declared by the oil companies they have never been richer or stronger and that buys a lot of loyalty on both sides of the aisle. There is little or no incentive for them to change the way they are now doing business, other than the fact that they live on the same planet as we do. The oil companies should be invited by the government to be at the forefront of developing cheap, clean and renewable sources of energy but only under the auspices of a newly formed (EIA) Energy Independence Agency. But any foot dragging by the oil companies would lead to the implementation of excess profits taxes that would be earmarked for the new Energy Agency and to fund the research and development into Hydrogen and other forms of clean, renewable energy.

In order to facilitate cooperation instead of confrontation at the international level we should invite India, China and other emerging energy hungry nations to contribute monetarily as well as with research and development. If Global Warming is a reality as some seem to think, than we all have a stake in finding a worldwide solution that could result in solving our energy needs in a sane rational manner and that leads to a better future for all.
Footnote: I started this letter over a year ago when the price of gasoline was about $2.36 a gallon. Since then gasoline is expected to hit $4.00 a gallon by Christmas. Where are our leaders, not only nationally but also locally? Why aren’t any of them putting forward serious proposals to reduce our consumption, other than of course to raise the price of gasoline? We should look at the resumption of rail service, particularly as a way to get long haul tractor-trailers off the roads and onto railroad cars. We would save millions each year in road repairs alone. We should reconsider busing millions of kids hundreds of thousands of miles a year. Children should not only be allowed but also encouraged to attend schools closest to them. Why aren’t any of our leaders even talking about increasing public transportation alternatives? I believe many of us would welcome public transportation if it were made efficient, clean, safe and reliable. It should be something that people would want to travel on, Disney developed people movers and monorails and most people actually enjoy riding on them. My point is that our leaders have failed all of us miserably by their partisan bickering and corruption instead of looking for ways to solve our most pressing energy needs. We need leaders with the guts and vision John Kennedy showed back in 1961, we gained the world’s respect and admiration by the creation of NASA that enabled us to go to the moon. We can achieve energy independence while laying the groundwork for continued prosperity for our children and their children. We must stop the hemorrhaging of our dollars to terrorists in the Middle East and a wanna be dictator in Venezuela. The development of Hydrogen is our best hope to address global warming while providing the impetus for research into other areas of renewable resources based energy businesses. Much like what the space race did for Silicon Valley, the offshoot of a concerted effort to achieve energy independence and its subsequent research and development should provide expanding bubbles of opportunities that will form the basis for ours and the world’s future prosperity. Regardless, it is clear we cannot continue the way we are going, we need leaders that understand the risk this country is facing and like John Kennedy did, act decisively and quickly.

We are told that currently it takes more energy to produce Hydrogen then is returned, but that is just an engineering problem that could be quickly solved.

Not really. It would be extremely difficult to get anywhere near unity in producing the hydrogen from another energy source, so it is more on the lines of a law of physics, and in any case you still have to get the energy from somewhere in the first place.

It would also be more likely that people will read more of what you have to say if you used normal-length paragraphs and put spaces in between.


Rumors of tomorrow's "important changes" at GM have approached a fevered pace, but the latest one we've heard is coming directly from someone who's directly related to someone who could be directly affected if the rumor is true. So, it must be true, right? Anyway, we've just been told by the family of a Chevy Volt engineering team member that not only is the untouchable Volt program on hold, GM's even letting some of the engineering team, aka "the chosen people," go.

Just a rumor at the moment. I guess we'll find out more tomorrow.

I have been reading Oil Drum for a while now, and this is my first comment. Seems to me that the two core threads in all of this are: (1) We cannot 'consume' ourselves out of this. (2) Population matters.

That about sums it up.

But don't expect to hear it from Washington or from the media.