DrumBeat: November 10, 2008

Total sees nuclear energy for growth after peak oil

DOHA (Reuters) - French oil and gas giant Total is targeting nuclear energy to drive growth long after oil and gas output peak, a top executive said on Monday.

"In the future, energy demand will be constrained by tight supply," Arnaud Chaperon, Total's senior vice president for electricity and new energies, said in a presentation to a nuclear energy conference in Qatar.

"Oil and gas will still play a big role in the energy balance. But in the electrification of the world economy, nuclear will play a major role, together with the development of solar and other renewables ... That is why Total is very interested in developing nuclear and renewables."

Russia to influence oil prices?

MOSCOW - RUSSIA'S Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said the country must act to influence oil prices hit by the global economic crisis, in what could signal a significant change of approach by the major crude exporter.

'We need to work out a whole range of measures that will allow us to actively influence the market,' he said in comments broadcast on television after a government meeting on oil production.

Oil price should stay above $70 a barrel: Qatar oil minister

DOHA: Oil should be above $70 a barrel to encourage investment in increased production capacity and avoid creating future supply crises, Qatar’s oil minister said on Monday.

Moves to bolster security of B.C. pipelines

VANCOUVER -- The recent attacks on EnCana Corp. natural gas infrastructure in northeastern B.C. have created skittishness across the industry, as other companies scramble helicopters to respond to perceived threats and consider design changes to bolster the security of future pipelines in the area.

"We're going to be looking for ways in our design to limit sabotage or anybody gaining access to [a proposed new pipeline]," said Darren Marine, president of SemCAMS, a Calgary-based sour gas processor that is seeking National Energy Board approval to build a 150-kilometre pipeline near the area where the attacks have occurred.

Energy Efficiency: Potential Fuel Savings Generated by a National Speed Limit Would Be Influenced by Many Other Factors

Reducing the speed limit does not necessarily mean that drivers will comply. In fact, in 1975, under the previous national speed limit, about half of the states reported more drivers exceeding the national speed limit of 55 mph than complying with it.

Moreover, a national speed limit would not affect many of the miles driven in the United States, such as those in urban areas, where most vehicles are already traveling at lower speeds due to lower speed limits or congestion. According to FHWA, fewer than one quarter of the vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the United States would likely be directly affected by a changed speed limit.

Tsunami Hazard Assessment at Nuclear Power Plant Sites in the United States of America - Draft Report for Comment

The Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004 led the NRC to take the initiative to examine its criteria for nuclear plant siting evaluation against tsunami hazards.

The Most Important Number on Earth

Now that we know how far we are past the carbon tipping point, it's time to freak out—and get to work.

Canada's dirty oil offers climate-change test for Obama

President-elect Barack Obama has inherited the inbox from hell, but you could practically smell the fear in some quarters as he listed his top priorities in his victory speech in Chicago: "Two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century."

There will be general rejoicing if he can end the wars and solve the financial crisis, but "a planet in peril" is shorthand for climate change, and some people's oxen will be severely gored if he acts decisively on the global warming agenda.

Think-tank values oilsands at $1.5 trillion

OTTAWA - The wealth in Canada's oilsands, even taking into account the recent plunge in world oil prices, is nearly $1.5 trillion, more than four times the $342 billion officially estimated by Statistics Canada, argues a Canadian think-tank in a report released Monday.

That works out to an $34,591 increase in the wealth of Canadians to $243,950 for every man, woman and child, according to the analysis by the Canadian Centre for the Study of Living Standards.

Obama Faces Hard Political Decisions on Oil Depletion

It will not be easy. Acknowledging oil depletion means finding more oil resources to keep our economy going. Shortages must be avoided. Put a lid on prices. Drill everywhere. No sacred environmental cows such as ANWR or the Santa Barbra channel. Make deals for oil with whomever is in charge of the big oil nations. Control the political outcome in the Middle East. Stay in Iraq to protect America's interests. Tough choices. High political risk.

But if Barack ignores oil depletion, then what? He runs the risk of cataclysmic failure . Because it is highly likely that sometime – during his administration - shortages and high prices will decimate America's economy. That means high unemployment. Out of control inflation. Voters will be mad as hell. Why – they will ask – did you let this happen to us?

Would Barack be less popular than George Bush? Doing nothing also means political risk.

Ecuador to ask OPEC for exception to cutbacks

QUITO, Ecuador — Ecuador's oil minister says his government will ask OPEC for an exception if the oil cartel moves to slash production for the second time in a month.

The president of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has said the 13-member cartel could further reduce output if plummeting oil prices aren't bolstered by last month's production cut of 1.5 million barrels a day.

Oil Minister Derlis Palacios says Ecuador deserves to avoid further cuts because its production is marginal and oil exports pay for about 40 percent of its national budget.

Nigerian Militant Attack On Oil, Gas Operations Repelled - Military

LAGOS (AFP)--Armed militants in Nigeria's southern oil hub Monday attacked a key offshore oil and gas producing facility but were repelled and lost eight of their men in the raid, the military said.

GM shares hit 60-year low on downgrade

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of General Motors Corp. plummeted to their lowest price in more than 60 years Monday on increasing worries about accelerating cash burn and mounting losses at the automaker.

First-Ever Layoffs Loom at Postal Service

The U.S. Postal Service faces a serious financial shortfall that is accelerating reductions in its workforce and raising the possibility of the first-ever layoffs of career employees.

...Increasing fuel prices have been a big factor in worsening postal finances, compounded by a legal restriction enacted two years ago against raising the price of most services beyond the rate of inflation. The cap on rate increases was a major victory for the big mailing industry, but combined with rising costs, it has seriously squeezed the postal budget.

Should Big Oil give up tax breaks — or get cuts?

We kept hearing from the presidential candidates about the taxes that the big oil companies pay. One side will give them more tax breaks and the other will increase their taxes one way or another. With another round of record profits by Exxon and extremely high prices at the pump, why would the oil companies be getting a break on their taxes in the first place?

Ethanol will curb farm income until economy rebounds, economist says

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Ethanol helped drive two years of record profits for grain farmers, but also will hold income down during a looming recession that has already sliced crop prices in half, a University of Illinois economist says.

Scott Irwin says agriculture’s fortunes are now tethered more to ethanol than food, making crop growers vulnerable to sharp price swings at filling stations rather than the typically slower cost shifts at grocery stores.

Greenpeace stops palm oil shipments from leaving Indonesia

JAKARTA (AFP) – Environmental group Greenpeace said Monday it had stopped several palm oil shipments from leaving Indonesia and called for an end to forests and peatlands being destroyed to make way for plantations.

Paradise almost lost: Maldives seek to buy a new homeland

The Maldives will begin to divert a portion of the country's billion-dollar annual tourist revenue into buying a new homeland - as an insurance policy against climate change that threatens to turn the 300,000 islanders into environmental refugees, the country's first democratically elected president has told the Guardian.

Tight credit slows food and energy shipments

The growing financial crisis is constraining world trade with a jumbled mess of frozen credit that could mean shortages of food and energy supplies for some countries.

Shippers of dry-bulk goods such as grain and coal worry that importers won't be able to pay for the goods they receive. And while some anxious exporters hold on to their goods, rates to ship those goods have plummeted to 10-year lows. Some ship owners are laying up their ships rather than operate at such low rates.

Governing the ungovernable

The reason I call this piece "Governing the ungovernable" is that I believe the problems we now face will not be solved at the central government level. They might be mitigated or exacerbated, but not truly solved. In essence, the world as currently constructed has become ungovernable. So, along with new ways of living, we must find new ways of governing, and I believe those new ways will emphasize the local and the regional over the national or the international.

This tempers my enthusiasm for the new administration about to take power in Washington, one with whom I already have many disagreements especially in the area of energy policy. To the extent that Barack Obama and the team he assembles inspire and empower people to act in their own communities to address energy stringency, climate change, food self-sufficiency and the repercussions of the financial meltdown, the next administration will succeed. But the real successes will have to be imagined and implemented closer to home.

Taxing our gas guzzling relapse

As gas prices fall, Americans seem to be using relief at the pump as an excuse to drive more. Could a gas tax bring unexpected benefits?

Well prepared

WITH the price of crude mired at half the peak of $147 it reached in July, this may seem like an odd time to invest in oil wells. Despite trimming its output along with other members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in an effort to prop up prices, that is just what the United Arab Emirates plans to do. Short-term price movements, its oil minister insists, should not distract from the world’s enduring thirst for oil. Indeed the collapse of oil prices, one of the few reasons around for economic cheer, may be setting the stage for another spike.

Funding for Pickens Plan appears to be slim pickings

Although T. Boone Pickens has become somewhat of a celebrity as of late – giving speeches and appearing on national television in interviews and commercials – the Oklahoma native is finding falling energy prices are making it difficult for his eponymous Pickens Plan to gain traction.

Peak Oil vs. Falling Demand

When oil hit $105 I thought that was it. I called for oil to pull back to $70. Fundamentally there was no reason for oil to be over $100, peak oil or not. The world economy was rapidly slowing and along with it real demand.

What I should have accounted for but didn't was one last wave of complete silliness by hedge funds, speculators, and everyone else wanting to get in on the commodity boom and the China story before it was "too late".

People were predicting "Next stop $200" or even "Next Stop $300". All I could say and did say was "wait". And so here we are.

Canadian Diesel Shortage and Stalled Oilsands Renew Canola Biofuel Interest

As the price of oil drops to around $60 per barrel and the pain subsides at the gas pump, drivers of the trucks and long haul carriers that carry 90 percent of the consumer goods across Canada are feeling just the opposite.

In a country of enormous petroleum resources, refinery shut-downs have caused diesel shortages that have put a vice-grip on the Canadian trucking industry. This supply constraint has threatened to create shortages of everything from holiday consumer goods to food on the grocery store shelves. This diesel shortage combined with the slowing pace of development in Canada's oilsands development remind us that alternatives to petroleum diesel should be pursued with vigor.

Offshore Rig Workers Call The Shots on Jobs

Industries world-wide are slashing costs and laying off workers. But one sector continues to recruit employees aggressively, dangling before them six-figure salaries, signing bonuses and job-training programs.

Energy crisis still exists

The energy crisis may seem far less urgent these days than it did this summer, when oil prices were nearly twice what they are now.

But, the time to fix the hole in the roof is not when it's raining, say energy officials. And the push to find alternatives to fossil fuels that reached a fever pitch this summer needs to continue, they say.

Boost economy with clean energy industry

Clean energy isn't a mirage. It's the fastest growing industrial sector in the United States. It is already generating $25 billion a year in sales and revenue, is growing at 30% a year, and has produced more than 500,000 new American jobs over the last three years. And that's happened with almost no support from the federal government.

Imagine the growth in jobs, technology, equipment, suppliers and productivity if the United States actually treated the development of clean energy as a national economic priority. And consider just as seriously the remarkable benefits to America's security, environment, economic stability and communities that would be realized by keeping at home the nearly $400 billion that we spend each year on oil from other nations, many hostile to our interests.

Beyond oil: Wind at our backs
Ronald Reagan let promising developments in alternative energy collapse in the 1980s, leading to the country's remaining in thrall to oil, its Middle East producers and the political instability of that region. With Barack Obama as president and Democrats in charge of Congress, can this country avoid another national disaster on energy policy?

The answer must be yes, no matter how hard that may be to achieve. A big factor for the positive should be Republican help.

Remember the oil embargo?

We've all become accustomed to having anything we want when we want it, but that's over for the time being. We will have to adjust to the new limitations but adjust we will. Those new, rather spoiled generations will have plenty to remember when they look back on these days, but they too will realize that it wasn't as bad as it seemed at the time.

Widespread job cuts expected in NASCAR

Automakers' struggles are likely to spell trouble for many stock-car teams.

Financing Crisis Could Saddle Airbus, Boeing with 'White Tails'

A severe shortage in aircraft delivery financing is threatening to leave Airbus and Boeing stranded with perhaps 200 "white-tail" aircraft they can't place with customers.

Libya to Start Building $5B Energy Hub in January

Libya will begin building in January a $5 billion economic zone for energy firms operating in the North African country, officials said on Monday.

The planned "Smart Energy City" is joint project between Libya's state Fund for Economic and Social Development and Bahraini Islamic investment bank Gulf Finance House.

Anti-U.S. sentiment grows in Syria after raid

Abu Kamal, Syria -- The U.S. incursion into Syria late last month put this eastern border town near Iraq on the world stage and many of its residents on edge.

"At the beginning of the war, we were scared. Then we got used to it. Now we're scared again - and angry," said Yusef Tara, who spoke to a reporter near the site of the Oct. 26 U.S. commando raid against an alleged al Qaeda in Iraq hideout that Damascus says killed eight civilians.

The price of our oil addiction

The true costs of cheap oil -- a vast military presence in the Middle East; environmental damage, including global climate change; the need to support corrupt "oilygarchs" -- have never been paid by consumers at the fuel pump. And a half century of "special relationships" -- or, more precisely, addictive codependencies -- have only produced Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, Libya's Muammar al-Gaddafi, Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and, in the end, September 11, Osama bin Laden's murderous response to the permanent deployment of American troops in the oil-rich Saudi holy land.

Peak Oil could trigger meltdown of society: "World oil production peaked in 2006"

According to a newly published global oil supply report to be presented by the Energy Watch Group at the Foreign Press Association in London, world oil production peaked in 2006. Production will start to decline at a rate of several percent per year. By 2020, and even more by 2030, global oil supply will be dramatically lower. This will create a supply gap which can hardly be closed by growing contributions from other fossil, nuclear or alternative energy sources in this time frame.

"The most alarming finding is the steep decline of the oil supply after peak", warns Jörg Schindler from the Energy Watch Group. This result, together with the timing of the peak, is obviously in sharp contrast to the projections by the International Energy Agency (IEA). "Since crude oil is the most important energy carrier at a global scale and since all kinds of transport rely heavily on oil, the future oil availability is of paramount importance as it entails completely different actions by politics, business and individuals.", says Schindler.

Environmental report predicts global 'energy crunch': Oil supply could peak as early as 2013, ushering in an age of global energy poverty

Will Whitehorn, chairman of the Peak Oil and Virgin Group representative said: “The first report of the taskforce is a balanced look at the energy risks and opportunities we face but it is also a wake-up call to the urgent actions required in the UK and other major global economies to overcome the consequences of the end of the era of cheap oil.”

Mr Whitehorn suggests that this crisis presents an opportunity for Britain to set a worldwide example by investing in renewable energy sources. However, Peak Oil argues that immediate action is crucial as after oil production has peaked, the necessary resources needed to instigate these developments will be unavailable.

Michael T. Klare: The Energy Challenge of Our Lifetime

Of all the challenges facing President Barack Obama next January, none is likely to prove as daunting, or important to the future of this nation, as that of energy. After all, energy policy -- so totally mishandled by the outgoing Bush-Cheney administration -- figures in each of the other major challenges facing the new president, including the economy, the environment, foreign policy, and our Middle Eastern wars. Most of all, it will prove a monumental challenge because the United States faces an energy crisis of unprecedented magnitude that is getting worse by the day.

Crude Oil, Metals Rise as China Unveils Growth Support Package

(Bloomberg) -- Crude oil and copper rose more than 5 percent after China announced a 4 trillion-yuan ($586 billion) stimulus package that may spur economic growth and demand for raw materials.

China, the world's second-largest oil consumer, said yesterday it will spend the money through 2010 on housing and infrastructure, boosting demand for iron ore, crude oil and copper. Oil also gained after Saudi Aramco, the world's biggest state oil company, told South Korean and Japanese refiners it would cut December supplies.

Jim Brown: China Stimulus Spurs Demand

If you follow this thought process to conclusion you will see this is actually accelerating peak oil rather than delaying it. There could be 10 trillion barrels but if the world only has access to 500 billion then 500B is all we are ever going to produce. National oil companies are notoriously badly managed, recover a smaller portion of oil in place and recover it over a longer period than international companies. It all boils down to flows. Peak oil is not about how much oil there is left to recover but how fast it can be recovered.

Saudi confirms oil supply cuts with Dec curbs to Asia

TOKYO (Reuters) - Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia provided the most visible evidence yet of adhering to OPEC's deal to curb output by telling refiners in Asia that it would cut December supplies by 5 percent, term lifters said on Monday.

State oil firm Saudi Aramco informed at least five customers over the weekend that they would receive about 5 percent less than their contracted allocations next month, the first cut-back in 14 months, industry sources with the refiners told Reuters.

Platts Survey: October OPEC Oil Output Dropped to 32.26 Mil. Barrels Per Day

LONDON /PRNewswire/ -- Platts -- The 13 members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) pumped an average 32.26 million barrels per day (b/d) of crude oil in October, according to a Platts survey of OPEC and oil industry officials just released. This is a 210,000 b/d decline from the September level of 32.47 million b/d.

North Sea Oseberg Crude Daily Shipments to Rise 12% in December

(Bloomberg) -- Daily shipments of North Sea Oseberg crude, part of the price benchmark for almost two-thirds of the world's oil, will rise 12 percent in December.

Kazakhstan set to slash oil export duty

ALMATY, KAZAKHSTAN (AP) - Energy-rich Kazakhstan could cut crude oil export tariffs by one-third in an effort to ease the burden on domestic producers, Energy Minister Sauat Mynbayev said Monday.

The Kazakh government introduced an export tariff in May in a bid to boost state revenues and tamp down soaring prices on the domestic fuel market.

With the sharp drop in world oil prices, however, domestic producers complained that the duty was eating their profit margins.

Ukraine PM to try to avoid Russian gas price rise

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said on Monday her government was working on a gas supply agreement with Russia that would keep the price at the current level. Russia has raised gas prices steeply since 2005, although at $179.50 per 1,000 cubic metres, Ukraine still pays less than the European market price. Russia's gas export monopoly Gazprom had suggested it could double that price to around $400.

Five Russian oil majors form Venezuelan consortium: reports

Russia's largest oil and gas producers--Rosneft, Gazprom, Lukoil, TNK-BP and Surgutneftegaz - have joined forces in Venezuela, taking 20% stakes each in a consortium that will develop oil projects in the South American country, Rosneft President Sergei Bogdanchikov said over the weekend.

IFC Provides Financing to Peru's Oil and Gas Industry Amid Global Credit Crisis

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has disbursed a $15 million loan to BPZ Exploración y Producción SRL, supporting a growing Latin American oil and gas company in making use of Peru’s natural resources during a time of tight credit markets.

World largest oil company praises co-op with China

BEIJING (Xinhua) -- Saudi Arabia's leading oil firm is looking to step up supplies to and cooperation with China in anticipation of an emergence from the global economic slowdown, Abdallah S. Jum'ah, president of Saudi Arabian Oil Company, or Saudi Aramco, said on Monday in Beijing.

He saw the economic slowdown in China as short-term, and was focused continuous cooperation in the long haul.

Iraq Halts Kirkuk Oil Exports - Shipping Source

DUBAI,(Reuters) - Iraq halted crude oil exports through its northern pipeline to Turkey early Monday morning, a shipping agent said.

"They stopped pumping at around five thirty this morning," a shipping agent said referring to Turkey's local time which corresponds to 0330 GMT.

"We have not been informed of the reason for the stoppage, but it could resume later this evening."

N.D. town sitting on potential oil jackpot

PARSHALL, N.D. - In this tiny reservation town a hundred miles from the Canadian border where temperatures once hit 60-below zero, a Southern twang is sometimes heard over the din at the local diner and there is talk of Texas tea beneath the streets.

Roughnecks from Texas and Oklahoma have traveled here on hopes that they now share with the town's 1,000 or so inhabitants — that there is oil in Parshall.

Deutsche Bank views GM shares as worthless

LONDON (MarketWatch) -- Deutsche Bank downgraded General Motors Corp. to sell from hold, with a price target of $0, saying the car maker may not be able to fund its U.S. operations beyond December without government intervention.

Emirates First-Half Net Plunges 88% on Fuel Costs

(Bloomberg) -- Emirates Airline, the Dubai government-owned carrier that is the biggest customer for the Airbus SAS A380 airliner, said its six-month profit fell 88 percent on higher fuel costs.

Turning Oil Into Bullets Part Two

Alongside their military deals, the People's Republic of China and the South American nations of Venezuela and Brazil have been cooperating extensively in the oil industry.

Secret Order Lets U.S. Raid Al Qaeda in Many Countries

WASHINGTON — The United States military since 2004 has used broad, secret authority to carry out nearly a dozen previously undisclosed attacks against Al Qaeda and other militants in Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere, according to senior American officials.

These military raids, typically carried out by Special Operations forces, were authorized by a classified order that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld signed in the spring of 2004 with the approval of President Bush, the officials said. The secret order gave the military new authority to attack the Qaeda terrorist network anywhere in the world, and a more sweeping mandate to conduct operations in countries not at war with the United States.

Uniting Around Food to Save an Ailing Town

HARDWICK, Vt. - THIS town’s granite companies shut down years ago and even the rowdy bars and porno theater that once inspired the nickname “Little Chicago” have gone.

Facing a Main Street dotted with vacant stores, residents of this hardscrabble community of 3,000 are reaching into its past to secure its future, betting on farming to make Hardwick the town that was saved by food.

Australia: Carbon dioxide to be stored under seabed

Millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide could soon be stored deep underground under new laws designed to help tackle climate change.

The Offshore Petroleum Amendment (Greenhouse Gas Storage) Bill 2008 and related bills passed the Senate with several technical opposition amendments.

Global Warming Predicted To Hasten Carbon Release From Peat Bogs

ScienceDaily — Billions of tons of carbon sequestered in the world's peat bogs could be released into the atmosphere in the coming decades as a result of global warming, according to a new analysis of the interplay between peat bogs, water tables, and climate change.

Such an atmospheric release of even a small percentage of the carbon locked away in the world's peat bogs would dwarf emissions of manmade carbon, scientists at Harvard University, Worcester State College, and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology write in the current issue of the journal Nature Geoscience.

Here is a back-handed compliment if I ever heard one: http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11585&page=5 from the National Research Council

In light of this fact, it should be no surprise that the possibility that world oil production will soon reach a peak and then inexorably decline is a subject of great interest and intense debate. As noted by Dr. Greene, the “pessimists,” a somewhat pejorative label given to those who are convinced that the oil peak is imminent and that its consequences will be dire, assert that world oil supply is chiefly determined by the geology of oil resources.

The term "pessimist" has no meaning anymore. Can you still call a person who questioned the run-up of hedge funds and derivatives, not to mention the stock market for the last 10+ years, a pessimist without incurring any sense of shame? All the models in that world got built to advance one motive -- that of profit, brought about by no small part greed. No one really cared whether they made sense in some theoretical framework, and why should they, since human nature would constantly batter down the model's premises in search of escape clauses. This occurred all in the nature of one-upping the next guy ... in a zero-sum game of zero-summed optimism.

Optimism & Pessimism are two ends of a continuum. But which end is which depends on one's values. Unless one's values are clearly stated, the appellations "pessimist" & "optimist" are meaningless. And since values are arbitrary, the terms are meaningless in any case.

Pretty much everyone who is not in a constant state of psychotic euphoria is considered a pessimist.

Thanks, Web,

This is not only back-handed, it's depressing. It's hard to believe what I'm reading as coming from the NRC.

They talk around the point and give the impression - as if something people do (whatever) can actually change "the geology of oil resources" itself.

"These efficiency policies resulted in an alternative policy forecast for global oil consumption of about 107 million bbl/day in 2030."

Efficiency policies?

about that story about parshall, nd.

two words "waste gas", waste gas indeed, as parshall is flaring more that 11 mmcfd.

If you don't have pipelines, the gas is likely viewed as waste gas, no matter how much it is. Building pipelines takes a lot of capital, and long term assurance that the natural gas will be there. I doubt either of those are present, so no gas pipelines.

I presume the Parshall oil installation was put in place before the current credit crisis. With the low price of oil, it is hard to see how a company would get financing for production in the Bakken Formation.

it is waste gas because the state of nd industrial commission allows it to be flared. flaring gas in north dakota is forbidden, but the penalty for flaring gas is that the operator has to pay royalties on the flared gas after a one year free ride. so they are against it and they are for it. in some cases, the ndic will restrict production until gas sales are in place, parshall is not restricted.

flaring gas in the bakken is extra wasteful due to the nature of the reservior and fluids.

other states do not allow gas to be flared, except for a limited test period and developement seems to happen. wyoming is a good example and in the pinedale area, companies dont flare gas even during drilling operations.

financing is indeed a problem for some of the operators, it cost about $6 million to drill and complete some of these wells. parshall is an exception, most of these wells pay out in a few months at the current price. but outside the sweet spots, there will probably be a slow down in activity if the price stays where it is now. some of the smaller companies will probably get hit real hard, their expectations exceeding reality.

and the good news is that some of the wells are slowly being connected to gas sales. gas processing capacity is probably a bigger problem than extending a pipeline a few miles.

ND production vs. US total:

I inadvertently did this in monthly kilobarrels, not kb/d, fyi. Scale is the same. MT production has recently peaked - so much for shale formation oil. In re: credit: Boom or bust, a look at oil prices

Many believe the magic number is $65 dollars a barrel for production to stop in the Bakken formation — the nickname given to a massive oil reserve.

Ness said while Bakken formation drilling is capital intensive, the $65-dollar figure isn’t necessarily accurate.

“I don’t really believe there’s any particularly set price because of the productivity of the variations across the Bakken,” Ness said.

Ness said Mountrail County in northwestern North Dakota is one area where Bakken oil production has been so good it will not be affected by lower prices.

Areas where a decrease may take place are Divide, Burke, Mercer counties and parts of Dunn County, Ness said.

difficult to read your scale, but nd is producing a little over 165,000 barrels per day (165 kb/d)which is more than their previous 1984 peak. parshall field is producing about 30 kb/d, 1 million barrels per month.

and ness is basing his minimum price upon press release reserve figures. buyer beware.
generally, the available production data does not support the figures being cast about in almost daily press releases.


In your estimation is the bulk of Bakken flare gas a result of the potential to never getting access to pipelines or more of not wanting to wait for connections to get within reach? I'm guess that much of the drilling has gotten ahead of gathering system development. A true shame if they're wasting NG that might otherwise be sold in a year or two.

Last year I watched 20+ million cf per day of NG flared from a platform of the coast of W Africa. The operator even offered to lay a line for free to the mainland and give it free to the gov't but was turned down: the gov't didn't want to bother with building a distribution system. Truly sickening to watch it day after day.

parshall was isolated when it was discovered in '06 there was no pipeline close. as of august, there were 68 wells producing in parshall and 29 rigs running in all of mountrail county. so developement may have been less than orderly, but the ndic apparently doesnt wants to discourage the drilling of additional wells so they let the operators flare on. and who is going to wait for a pipeline connection to start producing when the company formerly known as enron can and will drill baby drill(and flare baby flare) and drink your milkshake.

i dont know why the company formerly known as enron cant see the foolishness of wasting that much gas. or why the ndic, whose mission is to prevent waste and protect correlative rights continues to allow that much gas to be flared.

probably because the company formerly known as enron is mainly interested in the bottom line on their next quarterly report. north dakota is a red state.

Like I said the chart gives kb/month, not kb/day, if that's what's throwing you. My point was to illustrate how minor a part the Bakken is playing in increasing US supply.


North Dakota Production is over 177,000 barrels per day in August, 2008. Barrels per well increasing from 1000 last year to 1400 this year. This does not include about 50,000 bopd from Montana or the Saskatechwan bakken oil.

April 2008 oildrum talking about 75000 bopd in 2007.

There may be a Bakken Pipeline spur

The "waste gas" could be used to generate electricity (rural electrification has put most of USA within a couple of miles of a medium voltage distribution line (capable of accepting at least 12 MW (often 18 MW) typically).

Cheap, portable ICE generators for smaller volumes (up to 10 MW or so) and gas turbines above that.

It ought to be against the law to flare NG like that ! More "climate change". If such a law depresses oil production slightly, then good. More oil later.

Best Hopes for Less Waste and Carbon Emissions,


hi afbe,

yes electrical generation would be an option. re-injecting the gas would be another, but that too would delay the almighty depletion. i told one poster that this is not 1900 and not spindletop either.

and are the small scale ice generatrors capable of generating 3 phase power in the 2-300 hp range ? if so, they could be used to supply power for electrical submersible pumps. the operators are capable of extending 3 phase power lines, even if they cant get a gas line built.

still, gas processing might be a problem as this is a rich h-c gas in the 1700 btu/scf range. the waste boggles the mind.

and 11 mmcf/d at 1700 btu/scf is the energy equivalent of over 3000 boepd. up in smoke.

Landfill gas (low BTU, rich in CO2, nitrogen, I think sulfur too) is used in gensets in the one to several MW range (1 hp = 3/4 kW roughly) at over 100 sites in the USA.

pdf warning

Waste Management has 39 landfill power plants, 179.4 MW (plus more that sell gas to largely industrial users).

Almost all (RARE exceptions) MW range power is generated in 3 phases (just easier from EE POV).

Caterpillar et al sell gensets in a variety of sizes, including 200 to 300 hp. I do not see where rich gas would be a problem in these gensets (they can be set-up to run on pure propane with minor changes)

Primitive gas processing could save some propane/butane mix for sale to local farmers & small towns. Surely low cost local production of home heating fuel (which is already set up for propane/butane mixes) would be attractive in ND.

As noted earlier, rural electrification has reached almost every rural farmstead (thanks to a half century of gov't subsidy). Few areas of the USA are more than a few miles from a medium voltage distribution line that can accept 12+ MW of generation.


Bolivia holds key to electric car future

To begin with the pilot plant will produce no more than 1.2 kilotonnes a year.
If an industrial plant is then built it may increase to around 30 kilotonnes by 2012, - thats just under a third of current production.
But most lithium now goes to small batteries for electronic goods.
Car batteries are far larger and Mitsubishi estimates the world will need 500 kilotonnes a year just to service a niche market. For electric cars to become the norm, it could need far more.
Mitsubishi predicts that there will be a supply shortage by 2015.


After their past history of exploitation, the Bolivians are not keen on the multinationals exploiting these resources.
Since the US, Japan, China and Europe will all be on the same side on this, I doubt that the Bolivians will be able to stop it indefinitely - Governments have been deposed for far, far less.
It will undoubtedly delay things though.

It's beyond me why the companies wishing to exploit these resources don't win 'hearts and minds' by offering to provide workers housing and other such infrastructure projects to help the locals and build things up.

I come from a town that was at the heart of the Industrial Revolution [Belper/Cotton Mills/Arkwright] and the town is littered with 'workers cottages', complex rail works, schools etc. built 200 years ago so this is not some sort of 'socialist fantasy' but good Capitalist practice IMO. Today it would probably be termed 'ensuring worker stickiness'...

(Noted the old-mill has firearms emplacements to keep out the Luddites... :o)


They were too cheapskate to pass on that much of the benefit, and US power and the IMF etc held them down too firmly to be compelled to.
My guess is that the Chinese and Japanese will be much more pragmatic, and will pass along enough of the goodies that the mines get built, but delays are likely to the introduction of EV cars in quantity.

Heavy sponsorship for attempts at destabilisation are also to be expected.

Car batteries are far larger and Mitsubishi estimates the world will need 500 kilotonnes a year just to service a niche market.

There is about 80g of lithium per kWh of storage and about 50kWh of storage in a high-performance electric car, so one needs about 4kg of lithium per car. Lithium production is usually given in lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE), which is 74g/mol of which 14g/mol is lithium. Accordingly, a car would need 4x74/14 = 21kg LCE.

500 kilotonnes/yr = 500,000,000kg/yr = ~24,000,000 electric cars/yr. That's a hell of a niche market.

I can't help but wonder if the BBC writer is misquoting Mitsubishi's estimate, as it doesn't remotely match a first-principles calculation, and that article is the only place I've seen that estimate mentioned. Other analyses also suggest the tone of the BBC article may be somewhat overblown.

Thanks. That is good to know.

On another subject, I wonder if you would cast your eagle eye over yesterday's Drumbeat? (9th)
There is a discussion there on the Hyperion nuclear battery, which is said to be 50% efficient in fuel burn, and also capable of running on thorium.
I thought a calculation on this basis of how much energy, or the number of years at present energy production, present known resources could provide if those estimates are right would be interesting.
It would also be interesting to work out how great the reserves of uranium and thorium would be at that burn efficiency if we moved to lower grade ores, and paid rather more for the fuel to run them - the base price estimated is 10cents/kwh, and the build cost at $25 million for a 25MW installation.
EROI and EROEI calculations would also be interesting.
I would be bound to miss too many of the needed factors to do a calculation - if you want an engineering calculation, it is usually best to see an engineer!
Anyway, any comment you have would be valuable.

I realise, of course, that this technology is not up and working yet, and problems could be encountered.

I thought a calculation on this basis of how much energy, or the number of years at present energy production, present known resources could provide if those estimates are right would be interesting.

I don't know the numbers, but Thorium is suposed to be four times as prevalent as Uranium. If the Thorium is completely used, not thrown away after a single pass, I believe the answer is thousands of years. Of course with exponential growth any large source will be consumed in logarithm of the reserves time (i.e. not many doubling times), but assuming we could give up on the growth thing, it would last a long time.

Went to KMART last week. They already have the Christmas decorations up and the usual Christmas music was wafting thru the store. Have a happy Christmas, you all! Next year, (as in January) you will probably be out of work!

E. Swanson

Denninger is calling for a revolution.

Roubini was on CNBC this morning. He's still predicting that it's the first inning of the end of the world.

Meanwhile, Obama is being promoted as an "agent of change" and he says absolutely nothing on the topic.

I'm expecting the bailouts to continue, and expand. The general consensus appears to be that the big mistake the government made was allowing Lehman to fail. Personally, I think this is deluded, but the politicians and financial talking heads seem to have decided that if only we'd bailed out Lehman, the crisis could have been avoided.

That being the case, they won't have the 'nads to let any other large corporations fail. Say, anything bigger than Circuit City. ;-)

Obama and his chief of staff hinted over the weekend that automaker bailouts are coming. And he has Jennifer Granholm on his transition team, making the rounds on news shows. Granholm, the governor of Michigan. No need to wonder what her stance on bailing out carmakers is.

It is a mess-AIG sucks up taxpayer money like it has a tapeworm-the problem is that these bailouts are going to the weakest, most corrupt and poorly managed corporations-attempts to fix these companies are half-hearted, they are just trying to delay the inevitable.

Obama and his chief of staff hinted over the weekend that automaker bailouts are coming...

I went to hear Naomi Klein speak this week in Madison, WI. She's a very interesting personality. Very laid back, very informal as a speaker... but sharp as a tack.

She made it a point (several times) to tell the audience that we tend to install narratives onto information gaps. And that we also rejigger narratives to suit our needs. This is obvious. But her examples were good ones. She reminded a very liberal, very progressive, crowd that it was Clinton who signed the legislation that enabled the derivatives to go unchecked. That it was Clinton allies, Robert Rubin, for example, who promoted the shift from Glass-Stiegel. She then reminded the audience that Obama is flirting with IMF and other market fundamentalists (Lawrence Summers in particular) as Treasury appointees.

In her view... Obama is a centrist. And she suggested that our new narrative of progressive government might be wishful thinking... unless we push really hard to move the center itself.

So yes... auto bailouts are coming. What they will accomplish is very questionable. I hope Obama requires more justification than we saw for the Paulson plan.

Obama is very much a centrist. He's about as wildly liberal as Bill Clinton. If that.

It will be interesting to see who he chooses for Treasury Secretary. That might be the most important cabinet position in the new reality. I'm hoping it's not Summers or Rubin. That would be putting the foxes in charge of the henhouse, after you've seen what they did to it before.

My money's on Volker.

That would be a shock-my guess is Summers.

IMO Obama has been very hesitant to criticize financial fraud, which is to be expected when you look at who controls him. Skilling and Fastow were just wrong on the timing-in 2008 they would be getting a taxpayer bailout.

I understand that Tyson is being put up as a possible.

Does anyone know about her (the good, bad, ugly)?

She sure made the right decisions under the Clinton Administration, if one was into growth and globalization. The smarter of the Ruben/Tyson team.
However, if you see growth under the current paradigm as the problem, welcome to more of the same, just smarter and with more skill.

Latest Intrade numbers. I think Krugman is a short, even at 5. Maybe I should go long Volker @ 10?

Bloomberg 2.9
Buffett 5.0
Corzine 18
Geithner 41
Krugman 5
Paulson 6.5
Summers 42
Tyson 10
Volker 10

For those that don't know Intrade, you buy (or sell) at the current price, and get $100 if that outcome occurs and $0 if it doesn't.

Krugman was very supportive of Clinton and dismissive of Obama. That might be overlooked since he has made some good calls on the housing market and oil and such. But, I think he misses the damage done to prosperity by free trade as it is currently practiced. It is strange. He wants universal health care for efficiency and competitiveness reasons but does not see that this implies that we must bow to the lowest common denominator under his type of free trade.

Fair trade, where we impose duties to account for subsidies like health care or lax labor of environmental rules is much better for us in the long run and in the short run since we avoid poisoned pet food imports and such. Throwing away the rule of law by outsourcing our economy to corrupt and cruel regimes eats away at both our moral well-being and our livelihood.

Nothing wrong with universal healthcare, but we should have it for better deeper reasons than he gives.


regardless of who Obama chooses, even if it it's a bad decison, he will be given a pass. the media is on his side. Though the media loves to build someone up, they are also quick to cut below the knees. But not Barrack. I suspect that he will be far more popular than bill clinton, i expect 8 yrs of Obama, and he hasn't even sworn in for office yet. I even expect he'll change the laws to allow him to stay elected after 8 yrs after that cuz, he is a very good speaker, and he could probably convince the Eskimos to buy ice cream. and he will even likely offer a public referendum by each state to vote on him staying after 8 yrs.

He will easliy convince the public on anything he wants. so long as the media types shake at their knees when he speaks to them, then I am sure he will get what ever he wants. but i am sure he will be far more popular than bill clinton ever was.

the Shangri la is only beginning.

times are a changing.

The bailout, while probably a mistake and a waste of funds, is probably politically impossible to resist. Pissing off an industry and all those who depend upon it before one has even taken office would probably not get O off to a very good start politically. Personally, I think they should be retooled to build railroad cars and only autos over 40 mpg.

The only change Obama is going to bring will be the change jingling in peoples pockets - because thats about all the money most middle class people are going to have soon...
I do not believe 'middle class' is associated with the phraseology 'national socialism'.

I agree sampson.

I think timezup - regardless of who is president in 2009.

I really thought we had 2 or 3 years left, but now, the way the dominoes are falling - globally - I wonder if we will make it through the winter without a "bank holiday" (... followed by weekly standing in lines in the slush... oh the joy).

I'm actually getting to the point where I am hoping for a fast crash, at least as opposed to drawn out agony.
This would mean that the real, as opposed to rhetorical, change could no longer be avoided, and in the case of the US would have the merit of putting the blame where it belongs, with Bush and the neo-cons, and would stymie any attempt at passing the buck on.

".....as an "agent of change" ...."

he also said one president at a time and for better or worser, bush still resides at 1600 pennslyvania ave.

Denninger may be on track more than a lot of people give him credit. What "our" government is doing is very criminal, very criminal. John

I may have mentioned this little fact, more than a few times. Treason has not only been committed by your elected Nitwits in Washington for quite some time, it continues daily. The spineless Congress support the looting of your country, right in front of your eyes.

And we are surprised by the increase in Ammunition and Gun sales? Cabela's, in Texas and elsewhere are sold out on most ammunition, aside from 22's and shotgun shells. Go figure...

A hard rain is going to fall.

How would one succinctly explain this to a less informed person than those that read TOD?

Hi Paula,

This is an excellent and practical question, which I hope someone will volunteer to answer. Perhaps memmel :)

Thanks. I agree Memmel would provide an answer that I could easily share with others and some explanation that is easily understood is desperately needed. Thanks for the response.

May take on Denninger is pretty simple we have what are called fiat currencies but what they are really based on is trust. Trust that if I except a dollar in payment then this same dollar will hold similar value to what it has now. I.e I can buy a can of coke with it. Also that inflation will be kept somewhat under control its effectively the same thing.

And its about trust. This trust has been destroyed between the printers of money and the users of money.

Whats going to happen over the next few years is it will become obvious that the bailouts are not helping the economy and peoples lives will get worse as this happens the trust that was destroyed now will cause serious problems in the future.

In my opinion the governments actions today have effectively ensured we will see violent unrest in the US in the future.

Understand that at the moment few understand that their trust was broken right now but post facto people will certainly realize that a huge mistake has been made.

Hi m,

Is there a positive plan you support (like Denninger's plan?) - ie., is there something specific people can tell their Congresspersons to do?

In order to rectify, or, at least mitigate - the breaking of trust brought about by the bail out?

Report Says Sun and Wind Power Could Threaten Nation’s Electrical Grid

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation says in a report scheduled for release Monday that unless appropriate measures are taken to improve transmission of electricity, rules reducing carbon dioxide emissions by utilities could impair the reliability of the power grid.
The group also said that the carbon emission rules could increase reliance on natural gas, making power generation vulnerable to supply interruptions.

E. Swanson

A big part of the problem is that they've not yet developed methods to handle variable inputs. It isn't a technology thing, it's an engineering and operations thing, as I understand it. There are lots of wind projects out there, studies regarding interconnection are backed up because the methods in place now all presume a source that spins up and stays up for a controllable amount of time. I keep hearing this phrase "Smart Grid" in connection with this stuff ... maybe today's the day to read up on it.

The NERC report is out now. Here's a link to the press release for it. The report can be downloaded from the link at the bottom of the page. Sigh, more to read...

Our electric utilities are so used to running on baseload power that the renewables, with their variable production, are seen as a problem. To my mind, the solution should include storage located near the production site with the quantity placed on the grid being regulated to smooth the flow. One such solution might be to require that PV installations include enough battery storage to absorb almost all of the maximum daily production, with grid tied inverters running at a rate less than the maximum. The inverters would need to be controlled thru some sort of signal from a central dispatch. This approach could also solve the grid stability problem, as some extra power would be available from the storage without switching to expensive peaking supply, such as a NG fueled turbine.

Keeping the storage relatively small and modular would allow the use of cheaper lead/acid batteries and smaller inverters. Save the expensive high density batteries for use in transport systems, which might also be charged during the day time peak in PV output or with the off-peak power available from the grid tied storage. The owner of an individual home sized PV system would enjoy the advantages of an uninterruptable power system and the income from the electricity fed into the grid.

E. Swanson

The intro to the NERC report is not promising.
They are arguing for substituting NG for coal.
I don't know where they think it will come from.

On the rest of your argument I could not agree more with.
I don't know if you have come across Nanosolar's ideas for building solar power:

2-10MW installations, ground built to reduce both maintenance and build costs, and local so that not only would it not incur transmission costs but would not even need stepping down, sounds like a fine idea to me.

If this is combined with wind and biogas in rural areas, as in this German experiment, then it would make a substantial contribution:

I think your comment on using lead-acid for storage is the best idea, as it is far cheaper than vanadium flow.
If they overbuilt it to some degree, that massively improves life-span, as it is deep discharge that really ruins lead-acid batteries.
The situation could be further improved and short term spikes in power coped with by the use of banks of ultracapacitors:

We would seem to have a reasonable game-plan for a very substantial roll-out of renewables, especially in much of America.

I find it ironic that we may end up having tons of lead batteries in our neighborhoods, after all of the recent fuss and bother of meeting ROHS requirements for electrical equipment. My personal favorite battery technology is nickel-iron, as it is very durable with a very high cycle life.

At the moment the cost of lead-acid for stationary uses is way lower than any alternative, even if it is backed by capacitors.
I would not be too concerned about lead in the environment for the use we are talking about, backing up power from wind-turbines etc as it is much more controllable in this industrial use than when distributed in people's homes in electrical equipment and, God forbid, pipes for drinking water.

I also suspect that times are going to get a lot tougher, such that priorities change from safeguarding people from small risks in their environment into keeping them fed and warm.

It is reasonable to expect near 100% recycling of lead-acid batteries for such an application.

I would be unwilling to completely discount other battery technologies for eventual use, including improved nickel-iron or even vanadium flow batteries. In recent decades power density has been much more important than power cost, so the development of low-cost bulk storage has lagged significantly.

From marketing literature (hype?) I've seen numbers for vanadium electrolyte at about $50 per kwh, with almost unlimited cycle life (not necessarily true for the battery and membrane). How does that compare to bulk lead-acid?

I think nickel-iron can require electrolyte renewal, so even those legendary cells may require some significant maintenance. It's low-tech maintenance at least, which would seem to be a key goal for any mass-deployed storage technology.

Hi Paleocon,
the Vanadium batteries at the moment seem to come in at around $500/kwh:
And according to these links are good for around 14,000 cycles.

According to this link lead acid comes in at around $160/kwh:

This is rather old info and commodity prices have come off the boil since then, but you would still need to overbuild them and pay for capacitors to prevent deep discharge which is what knackers them.
The use of capacitors, at least in a car battery environment for a plug-in hybrid, is said to be 'four times that of a conventional lead acid battery'

As the EV article says, other technologies have not really tried to sell for less than lead-acid per kwh, as they have superior performance so can command a premium.
Firefly is interesting in this respect:

The fact that the famous vanadium redox battery on King Island Tasmania has not been replicated speaks volumes. Basically it costs too much for too little capacity and they still use the diesel generator frequently.

On the other hand I have a deep cycle lead acid battery in my garden shed connected to a photovoltaic panel (via a voltage regulator) on the shed roof and it has run faultlessly for five years. A stack of a few million of them might give up to a gigawatt hour inverted. Some say instead of a stack those batteries could be in cars or home UPS but I don't think the economics are right. Thus I believe batteries are best for 'stranded' applications not grids.

At the moment the cost of lead-acid for stationary uses

We have been recycling lead batteries for many decades. I don't see lead pollution as a show stopper. I do think the proposed requirement is nuts however. I also am more than extremely skeptical that end user storage with lead acid batteries is the most economical storage. At least flow batteries can have a capacity (not power:KW but energy:KW-hrs) as large as the chemical storage tank. And things like hydro, and using natural gas for peaking has got to be many times cheaper still. Cheapest energy "storage" is to change the way we use energy, giving up todays, all-the-power you want on demand, to use all the power when it is available. Varying our demand to match supply is a major paradigm shift fron BAU, but if we are to make renewables a large part of our portfolio is inevitable.

The grid in many place is quite OLD. Sadly, with the way that things work with the utilities is that things will not be replaced until they fail. Pro-activity is not in an electric utility's vocabulary, at least not usually.

Besides and engineering and operations thing, I think it is also is a funding thing, and a "who pushes this forward" thing.

One of the issues is how much of the handling of variable inputs is done by storage devices of various types, and how much is done by trying to spread the electricity out more through a grid with a stronger backbone. Either approach will be expensive and time consuming to implement.

The national grid backbone has the additional issue of likely making power more expensive in some parts of the country, since it would make it easier to sell cheap locally generated power elsewhere, evening out electricity costs. The result would be electricity rates with less variability from place to place. Consumers that currently have low-cost electricity may end up with higher prices. If the cost of the build-out of the new infrastructure is high, the new average cost could be significantly higher than the current average cost, making even more current consumers come out behind. It is difficult to "sell" congress on making such a change.

The NERC Report (PDF) is now available. I have only looked at the summary. It seems to be particularly concerned about the fact that climate change legislation is pushing fuel use from coal to natural gas. According to the report, we don't really have the infrastructure to do this--for example, not enough winter storage for enough natural gas to provide winter electricity in the Northeast.

The load on the grid could be kept to very manageable proportions with just one measure, the introduction of air-source heat pumps.
They are not suitable for all US climates in their latest incarnations, as they can operate far below zero.
So much of US electricity is used for space heating and air conditioning that a roll-out of heat pumps would more than compensate for any growth, which in any case would be much reduced by the economy.
They would still need paying for, of course.

EDIT:s/be 'they ARE suitable for all US climates'

Hi Dave,

I was hoping to install a second ductless heat pump in my home -- a Fujitsu 24RLXQ -- and, with that, eliminate virtually all of my remaining fuel oil demand, but this particular model had been on back order and by the time it arrived, the local distributor had jacked up the price by 26 per cent, ostensibly due to the recent fall in the Canadian dollar. As much as I like this Fujitsu, I can't justify the added cost, so I now have my eye on a Sanyo KHS1271/CH1271. This inverter drive Sanyo works down to -22C and has a nominal heating capacity of 4.2 kW -- more than enough to keep my lower level toasty warm. At -18C, output falls to 2.3 kW, but even at this bone chilling temperature the heat it provides is still less than half the cost of oil. Like the aforementioned Fujitsu, over the course of the heating season, it would supply an average of 3 kWh of heat for every 1 kWh of electricity consumed; at $0.1067/kWh, that's the equivalent of fuel oil priced at $0.31/litre or $1.18/gallon (82%AFUE). You could TRIPLE my electricity rates to $0.32 per kWh and I would still come out ahead, dollar wise -- plus I'll enjoy the peace of mind of knowing I'll no longer be jerked around by volatile oil prices (*).

This Sanyo unit retails for $1,482.35 CDN ($1,250.00 US) and installation and miscellaneous hardware will likely run another $500.00 -- a high efficiency name brand ductless heat pump for under $2,000.00 CDN is a remarkable value. As an added bonus, I get a 17 SEER air conditioner that I can run it in "dry" mode, allowing me to rid myself of my noisy, power guzzling, gotta-empty-the-damn--bucket-every-other-day dehumidifier.

Edit: In terms of power demand, it ranges from 0.25 kW to 1.165 kW depending upon the load, ambient air temperature and so on. With these two ductless units, I will now have more than enough capacity to heat our entire home on even the coldest days of the year, while drawing no more power than two 1,200-watt baseboard heaters.


(*) My tank was topped up October 29th at $0.969/litre ($3.67/gallon); in July, my fuel oil provider was charging as much as $1.419/litre ($5.37/gallon).

Hi Paul, I hadn't realised that they were so cheap 'over there'.
We get ripped off terribly for everything in Blighty.
At that rate then vast savings could be made, and load taken off the grid, at minimal cost.

This is like the discovery of a massive new energy resource, and means that we can both reduce CO2 and reduce energy use.
It appears to be political inertia rather than physical limits which are holding us back.

Hi Dave,

I had the opportunity to live and work in London and I was tempted to do so whilst my dad was still alive, but the cost of living was just too great. In any event, this is the web site I used to peg the retail price:


I'll be purchasing mine through a local wholesaler, so my cost will be somewhat lower.

With respect to CO2 emissions, our home is a 40-year old, 230 m2 Cape Cod and our winters are colder than even those of Buffalo, N.Y., and yet our combined space heating and DHW requirements come in at about 5,500 kWh/year, courtesy of the 3:1 ratio in heat output with a high efficiency heat pump.


Off topic, but you are in the business of helping businesses cut there power bills. Your examples IIRC correctly all seem to be in the manufacturing sector. I strongly suspect the biggest low hanging fruit lies in the commercial sector. I was astounding yesterday, visited the "streets of Brentwood", a large just opening open plan shopping maul near where I live. I was shocked that all these high-end clothing stores are light with rows upon rows of spot lights, perhaps one per square foot of ceiling. And PG&E marginal rates are at least $.36KWhr(US), so this has got to be a huge cost overhead -no wonder the merchandise is ridiculously overpriced. I guess if we are going to solve the energy crisis, and global warming, the first action should be to shoot all the interior designers!

Hi EoS,

My partners and I help clients reduce their lighting costs and, previously, the mix of commercial, industrial and institutional clients has been reasonably even. Of late, more of our attention has shifted in the direction of smaller commercial customers as the result of our participation in NSP's Small Business Lighting Solutions programme; this project is still in pilot and its parameters are subject to change, but right now it targets utility customers that use no more than 100 kW and 300,000 kWh/year.

As you've witnessed, most high end specialty retailers have extraordinary high lighting loads and typically employ some of the least energy-efficient technology (e.g., PAR38 halogens). State and local energy codes (e.g., California's Title 24 legislation) and industry guidelines (ASHRAE/IES 90.1-2001) are slowly turning this around. New and more "retail friendly" lighting technologies such as ceramic metal halide help too. Halogen has long been the "gold standard" because no other light source can match its sparkle, punch and colour rendering qualities, but Philip's MasterColour Elite CDM lamps are a more than capable alternative and their 70-watt T4.5 CDM lamp, for example, can effectively replace five or six 100-watt halogens, making the potential savings enormous (in most retail environments, one watt of lighting translates into an additional 0.3 watts of a/c demand).

For a good overview of this product, see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8sDLMOKpJOg and although the lamp in this video seems almost secondary, see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdCe1ehEiJk (they can be forgiven).


I'm very happy with my Sanyo 12KHS51, which has been replaced by the 12KHS71 in Sanyo's lineup. I've had it for almost three years now and have not a single problem with the unit itself.

However, after doing all my heat loss calculations, I purposefully chose the 12000 btu unit knowing that I would have roughly a dozen cold days each year in which I would have to put on another sweater.

Well, on those days an extra sweater does not do the trick — not even close. Since the model is from three years back its effectiveness plummets when the outside temperature is close to freezing and I get very little warm air out of it. Perhaps the 12KHS71 would do better, but I think I just mistakenly undersized it.

Just to be clear...the machine is fabulous 355 days of the year. It was my mistake in undersizing it for the amount of space I have to condition.

I too pay about a 25 cents an hour to heat my home (no natural gas here). My wife and I have the lowest heating bills of any unit out of the sixty or so here. They all use baseboard heating although some are switching to wood.

I'm pleased to hear that. My three year old 14,000 BTU/hr Friedrich basically packs it in at -8C and suspends operation at -10C. As you approach these lower temperatures, there's a notable drop in heat output -- outlet temperatures are unmistakably cooler and the fan, if set to high, will slowly ramp up and down as it continually adjusts itself. That said, in more or less continuous duty, it can keep our home at a steady, comfortable temperature down to -2C or -3C, beyond which it starts to lose ground. In contrast, the 12KHS71 reportedly supplies more than half its rated output at -18C (0F) and soldiers on all the way to -22C; given the Sanyo's vastly superior cold weather performance, the combined output of these two units should see us through the worst that winter throws our way.

As mentioned here before, I closely monitor the weather forecast and if colder weather is on its way, I'll try to "bank" as much heat as I can muster (or, alternatively, comfortably withstand), then allow room temperatures to fall several degrees before turning on the boiler -- in our maritime climate, outdoor temperatures tend to bounce all over the map and by using the home's thermal mass, you can draw upon and subsequently replenish the considerable amount of heat that's stored within the shell and its contents. This approach works well during spring and fall and even through much of the winter, and helps compensate for the lower capacity of these smaller systems. If you can comfortably tolerate at least some variation in room temperature (e.g., a swing of 3C above or below your normal set point), this hands-on management can trim your energy requirements considerably.


I think also beyond the grid becoming smart, eventually the end usage will need to be smarter.

Similar to a program my city offers with 'off-peak' AC (your AC only runs 15 minutes an hour and they stagger different households), I think the next step is to have an off-peak household. Instead of only my AC being off-peak, extend it to my fridge, tv, computer, lighting, etc.

At some point businesses and households will need to be able to smoothly handle rolling brown outs. We will need to be more flexible to when power will be available. High energy consumers may have to schedule on short time tables, or build there systems to process when power is available.

We have become an 'instant on, always on' society when it comes to electricty and our usage. It will be very painful for some when this is no longer the case.

Thank you! I've screamed this one from the rooftops. Smart usage of power needs to happen. There's no reason why a person's AC should be running during the 8-5 hours if they are not home, beyond to ensure that the temperature doesn't exceed 90F. With vehicular charging of plug-in hybrids, they shouldn't charge unless it is off-peak or if it is "urgent" charging. Hot water heaters should heat the water to the desired temperature at 4AM or other pre-designated off-peak time for people's early morning showers, then cycle down during the mid-day. Time of use metering should be enabled for residential customers, as it encourages conservation, thus saving the consumers money, and reducing load on the grid.

There's no reason why a person's AC should be running during the 8-5 hours if they are not home, beyond to ensure that the temperature doesn't exceed 90F.

If this were actually done, there would be a humongous demand peak when people get home from school/work. This would greatly exacerbate the peak demand problem. Better would be to run the A/C more than needed to maintain the temps in the early part of the day (say 8am to 1PM) so as to bank the cold, and even out the morning/afternoon load imbalance. This would be especially useful if significant amounts solar electricity were added to the grid.

Report Says Sun and Wind Power Could Threaten Nation’s Electrical Grid

The title of the article has changed, to "Report Calls for Overhaul of Power Grid to Handle Sun and Wind Power".

That's less misleading, at least (as Gail points out, much or most of the report isn't about solar or wind power at all). I can't help but wonder if the author read any of the report before writing about it.

FWIW, Nova Scotia Power serves the electrical needs of 97 per cent of this province. It has 2,300 MW of generation capacity, the bulk of which is fossil based (85%), and most of that being coal. Geographically and electrically speaking, Nova Scotia is pretty much an island unto itself, with just one 345-kV line and two 138-kV lines connecting it to our sole neighbour, New Brunswick, and with inward and outward flows limited to 300 and 350 MW respectively (you don't get much more lonely than this).

Currently, about 2 per cent of our electricity is generated by wind, with an installed base of 61 MW. By 2010, we should have 311 MW in place and by that point wind will account for roughly 7 per cent of our supply. By 2013, we're projected to reach 581 MW and 13 per cent, and by 2020, those numbers could climb as high as 981 MW and 24 per cent. Given our current and largely unfavourable generating mix and our relative isolation, integrating these wind resources both economically and from the perspective of maintaining system stability is going to be a challenge as we push beyond the 500 MW mark. NSP has 377 MW of hydroelectric and tidal generation (relatively fast response) and another 385 MW of interruptible load at its disposal. However, with respect to the former, river flows, maintenance schedules, transmission restrictions and other constraints must be taken into consideration and, for obvious reasons, you'll want to avoid spilling water if at all possible (comparatively speaking, Hydro Québec is in a far more enviable position).

The good news is that NSP is a winter peaking utility and, happily for us, wind resources are strongest during the winter season. During these critical months, the capacity factor of our turbines varies anywhere from 35 to 46 per cent depending upon where they are situated within the province. On an annual basis, the capacity factor for the 10 per cent highest load hours falls between 38 and 47 per cent, again, as determined by geographical placement, and for the 20 per cent highest load hours, it's 37 and 46 per cent.

Good site selection practices (i.e., identifying the sites with the best wind conditions and ensuring a reasonable degree of geographical diversity), the development of more accurate wind forecasting tools (day and hour-ahead) and icing detection/response strategies are three areas that warrant particular attention as we move forward.


The article linked to, up top, Peak Oil could trigger meltdown of society: "World oil production peaked in 2006" is most interesting

"My experience of debating the peak oil issue with the oil industry, and trying to alert Whitehall to it, is that there is a culture of institutionalised denial in government and the energy industry. As the evidence of an early peak in production unfolds, this becomes increasingly impossible to understand", says Jeremy Leggett, the Solarcentury CEO and former member of the British Government’s Renewables Advisory Board.

As non-OPEC oil production tanks it is getting harder and harder for this denial to hold up. I believe we will be seeing a lot more articles like this one, a lot more.

Ron Patterson


This would certainly be one area where the Presidential bully pulpit could be put to good use initially. It's unrealistic to expect the CEO's of public oil companies to issue statements that would forecast a declining future for their operations. They'll continue to issue optimism whether prices or peaking or dropping at any given point of time.

The real question will be whether the new administration implements policies changes that will catch the eyes of our consumers. Talking about change and the need for adjusting our energy usage won't make the American people change their ways. The change will have to be forced upon them. Unfortunately, as long as the economy is hurting and energy prices are relatively low, it's difficult to imagine such force being exerted. Time will tell.

That's pretty much what I was thinking. If this report had come out when oil was $147, it would have had more impact. Now that oil is $60, we're back to "peak oil is a myth."

Obama's first priority is going to be the economy, not surprisingly.

There was an article yesterday, where Obama's priorities were laid out. As soon as the economy is fixed, he'll start working on energy.

I couldn't help thinking that that means never.

If President Elect (PE) Obama wanted to do anything and still get reelected, he better do it first thing. I know President Carter failed in his reelection bid in part because of his push for conservation, and went with it early, but not the first thing out of the box. It also fits very nicely with the economy. Slowing down, checking your tires, and getting a tune up costs very little but saves a lot in the vehicular arena. Replacing incandescents with thirty CFL's, probably more than the average person requires at home and at work, used for 5 hours a day, saves as much energy as a solar hot water system or a small PV system, and at a fraction of the cost - although they do not last 30 years, they pay for themselves in quick order, and can be staged in as the savings are realized. Energy Star appliances and set back thermostats can each make dramatic reductions in energy use. And, when replacing vehicles, considering smaller vehicles, hybrids and CNG alternatives, which are not the right choice everywhere, for both public and private use could help make a difference as well. If savings at the margins can impact prices (which they will), and buy time to seek and/or develop alternatives, we can certainly help ourselves. We just do not do enough, except for the real hard core folks, and even then, I personally freely admit that I could do more. It is a process, and if we start make changes, making other changes is easier.

That will take a lot of committment from the PE, but I am hoping he will do it. It is not revolutionary, and it is easy to get started.

It depends on how you frame it. If the frame is that we are reducing dependence on imported oil, and that we will be sending less money to countries that harbor terrorists, this will all be a much easier sell.

If you merely try and encourage conservation just for the greater good, then you get the Carter treatment.

CFL's... - although they do not last 30 years...

I have two compact florescent bulbs that are nearly 30 years old. We bought them when my daugher was a baby and she is 29 now so they are 28 or 29 years old and still working fine. Maybe they hadn't yet engineered planned obsolescence into them in those days.

Darwinsdog, My numbers for the comparison came from a Home Power Magazine, hard copy so I cannot link, but I checked the side panel on two sets of CFL's I have on hand and they show 8,500 and 10,000 "average hours" per bulb. The ratio I cited was from a chart in a HP, IIRC it was a 2008 issue, but I couldn't locate the chart I had seen. It seems that the solar Hot water was a cost of about $ 4500 and the PV system was about $8,000, and the savings from ten CFL's was about 1/3 that of either of the other two, which is where I arrived at the 30 CFL's. Some of these simple things work as well as sophisticated systems. I have as yet burned out two CFL's, and both were in high heat locations. I cannot remember when I started using them, but I know they were expensive then but I just had to try one. Now, I want to try out LED bulbs, but don't need the CFL's I have on hand at this point, and keep hearing promises that they are getting cheaper. Maybe by the time I need another light bulb, the LED bulbs will be reasonable.

Of course it means never, Leanan. The economy isn't money. The economy is the exchange of goods and services. The exchanging, production of goods, and servicing all require energy.

The ox-driven cart isn't moving because the ox is on its deathbed. So as soon as we fix the cart and get it moving, we'll attend to the ox.

The exchanging, production of goods, and servicing all require energy.

Are you suggesting the economy is falling apart because we're running out of energy? As they say, data trumps theories; what does the data say?

The current economic slowdown started in 2007, yet 2007 saw record quantities of coal produced, record amounts of natural gas, and oil production within +/- 0.2% of record (IEA says +, EIA says -). The increases in coal and natural gas (2-4%) were large enough that 2007 will have seen the highest level of energy production ever.

And yet you're suggesting that the economic distress which started in 2007 was due to a lack of energy? Despite there being more energy available than ever before? Despite lower energy production being a lagging indicator of global recessions?

Available data suggests that the current economic slowdown happened despite growing energy production, and would seen not to support your hypothesis. Do you have data which does support it?

you're suggesting that the economic distress which started in 2007 was due to a lack of energy?

Available data suggests that the current economic slowdown is possibly caused by an inadequate amount of affordable oil.

Coal and gas production certainly grew but, within the errors of the data, the oil production has been essentially flat for 4 years, it is the affordability that causes the problems not the volumes per se - oil prices have risen from ~$10 a barrel in 1999 to ~$140 a barrel earlier this year, but incomes haven't risen by anything like the same amount over the same period.

The massive lack of affordability of the oil preceded the recession by several years ... cause preceeds effect.

Hey Pitt,

Oil production has basically been plateaued for 4 years, the recent EIA data show a small increase and those recent data are not certain at all. At the same time global oil demand has been increasing at about 1 to 2 percent per year, and although the rate of increase has declined, demand is still increasing.

All oil producers are pumping at max, due to high oil prices, even now.

With high oil prices and high demand, flat production indicates that we are at Peak Oil and that is one reason the economy is falling apart. For example, with high gasoline prices, some folks did not have enough to pay the mortgage. High oil prices knocked out some airlines, travel, and thousands of jobs. Auto companies cut back on production. Construction was halted. etc, etc.

Peak Oil is here, and the economic decline that Robert Hirsch discussed is here now.


Cliff Wirth

Because your interpretation was not what I meant, I don't have the data to support the argument you thought I was making. Perhaps my statement was too general.

The economy, as defined by the exchange of goods and services between individuals, is enabled on one end and bound on the other through the environmental availability of materials (things, stuff, mass, matter) and energy (photons, electricity, chemical bonds). In this process of exchange, during the recombination of materials some energy is always made unavailable for useful work (thermodynamic loss), and on a fundamental level no materials are ever created or destroyed (matter conservation).

Any given exchange process will also rely on infrastructures of various scales and scopes, in which the required energy inputs are specific. People can’t eat gasoline, cars don’t run on uranium pellets, nuclear plants aren’t powered by sushi. While energy sources may be convertible, they aren’t equal for certain applications.

Energy from petroleum, coal, and natural gas are not interchangeable in our system at the scales we require. More coal and natural gas (excluding NGL) did not produce more gasoline, jet fuel, diesel, plastics, pharmaceuticals, latex, synthetic fibers, pesticides, etc. More coal and methane produced more electricity and a smattering of industrial chemicals, which are largely un-substitutable for our infrastructures of transportation, distribution, and food production.

So it wasn’t just “energy”. It was specifically petroleum energy combined with our heavy infrastructure dependence on it, plus the peaking and leveling of production. While beyond the scope of your question, we also need to consider the effects of declining EROEI, and the reduced net effects on total energy expenditure due to increasing resistance from overpopulation and climate change, wrapped in a complex system dependent on growth to solve the complex problems created by previous growth.

My original statement to Leanan was agreeing with her that attention needs to be paid to the system that is actually driving the economy, which involves energy. But not only energy, and not just any energy.

I would add that the undenied growth of world coal and gas consumption without a similar growth in oil consumption is a major symptom of something - possibly peak oil.

Hi xeroid,

Thanks for this important point.

As soon as the economy is fixed, he'll start working on energy.

We have to keep sending reports into Chage.gov, that support the thesis, that any economic package of necessity must be an energy package. I do have the impression, that this message has been received, but is it being given sufficient weight? The question is will it be only be half -or quarter heartedly implemented? We are going to have to keep harping on this issue, until enough of the policymaking apparatus gets it.

Would you care to share some of what you've been posting to change.gov? I'd like to see how you frame and phrase the issues.

It's probably hopelessly optimistic to think that policy will be swayed by the rantings of the Great Unwashed. Most likely they're simply keeping "a boot on the pulse of the people," as it were.

Would you care to share some of what you've been posting to change.gov?

So far I've only submitted two posts (no acknowlegement of receipt), and I haven't saved any of the text. The word I have fron Brad deLong, who is not unlikely to end up on his economics team, is that (for employement opportunities), they are looking for non-ideological people, who will honesty admit both pros, and cons of there argument. I am assuming that conforming to those standards (which I wholeheartedly agree with) will increase the odds of your message getting past the first level of screening. I try to be very parsimonious with my posts, as I assume his people are very busy, and I thank them for taking the time to read the suggestions. Winston Churchill allegedly spent something like a fifty to one ratio -of preparation to delivery time for his speeches, and at this level we should try to honor that tradition. I probably spent one to two hours thinking for each roughly half page comment I sent in.

I covered only fairly specialized subjects brief synopsis only:

(1) Stimulus should concentrate on oil demand reduction, as supply constraints should put a low ceiling on the amount of economic recovery possible. And I made the case that diesel demand reduction is more critical than gasoline. And gave some ideas for where to look for cost effective diesel demand reductions.

(2) I commented on the pending auto-industry bailout. Made the point that I don't think (automobile) demand would recover to precrisis levels. Gave some reasons why. Mentioned that that means capcity reductions, and other uses for the industrial capacity should be considered.

I think our odds of having an impact are likely to be improved by similar messages being written in a variety of styles, from a variety of submitters. Perhaps a screener will ignore an idea until after seeing it for the Nth time, he might think "If that many people are making this request, perhaps it is important enough to pass on".

Actually, I was pleased to see energy as his 2nd priority. Just because something is 2nd priority does not mean one has to wait until the 1st priority is fully achieved. Where did he or his advisors say we would have to wait until the economy is fixed? Give the man a bit of a break; he hasn't even assumed office yet.

Hi Leanan,

I don't know about news coverage, etc., but my sense from talking to people (in general) is that they don't know why oil went up, nor why it dropped so steeply.

My take on it is not so much that they think "peak oil is a myth", as...not understanding the connection - (nor the implications) - between "peak oil" and the economy, they hope energy-saving measures (or, even alternative technologies) put in place now will have some kind of payoff in the future. The run-up in price is a phenomenon not easily dismissed.

And, of course, the economic situation is frightening and overwhelming to many.

I wasn't talking about ordinary people. I was talking about industry experts, politicians, financial experts, etc. The drop in prices is now seen as "proof" that it was all speculation, that the free market works, etc.

There are no limits to human self-deception. Never underestimate the powers that underly the denial of Peak Oil. We shall see more rationalizations of declining oil production. ("It's really just a drop in demand." "It's just greedy OPEC turning off valves to boost prices." "It's merely a lack of investment." "It's not geological peak at all, just above-ground political factors." And so on and so forth.)

When will the fact of Peak Oil become conventional wisdom? I don't know, but I do not think it will be any time soon. CERA and its Daniel Yergin plus other authorities will deny, deny, and deny for years to come. TOD, if not exactly a voice in the wilderness, will be regarded as "fringe" and "extremist" for several more years, IMO.

Nate Hagens is right to emphasize neuroscience and evolutionary psychology in this regard. Facts never speak for themselves; they are always subject to interpretation. Denial of Peak Oil is now part of groupthink, and I fear it may stay that way for another half dozen years, even as oil decline gets into double digits in terms of percentages.

The ability of humans to deny ugly truths is powerful armor against paradigm shift. It is because of the powers of denial that I am a qualified doomer.

I do hope I'm wrong about my comments above; I'd love to be wrong.

"There are no limits to human self-deception. Never underestimate the powers that underly the denial of Peak Oil"

When one believes in a superstition based economic system, such as capitalism, or using monetarism to maintain this delusion, denial of peak oil is made much easier. Reason and critical thinking have already been degraded.

Voltaire would just smile.

For a long time Western societies have had mixed economies that are not at all close to pure capitalism. To rail at (pure) capitalism is to tilt at windmills.

Bernanke's Fed is about as far from monetarism as you can get. Monetarism rejects the discretionary use of monetary policy.

Thus our problems are not based at all on capitalism or monetarism. To a large extent our failures are failures of government that come from the rational-ignorance effect, the shortsightedness effect, and the special-interest effect--all three operating together to prevent democratic government from dealing with change on the basis of reason and long-term goals. Corporations are a creation of government, and what they do and do not do is limited by government; thus I think it is a mistake to focus on the legal abstraction of "corporations" as being at the root of our problems.

Man is a political animal. Our failures are primarily the failures of government. Plato, in his "Republic" tried to imagine a way to get the best people to govern and to keep them honest and acting in the public interest. He knew his thought experiment was a failure, and at the end of his long life he wrote "The Laws," which is a much more practical guide to good government. BTW, Plato regarded population policy as issue #1 for the city-state. In a lot of ways, I believe our political thinking has gone backward since the days of Plato and Aristotle. Those ancient Greeks were very clear thinkers, and Aristotle went so far as to collect the constitutions of some dozens of Greek cities for comparison in an attempt to find out what worked and what did not work.

I could not agree with you more that people railing on "corporations" being the problem.
Corporations are just making capital more efficient, and breaking through barriers, removing the weak or stagnant from the system. Capital cannot stay still or it dies or is absorbed.
It is the delusion that, given the observable reality that capital needs to expand or die, it needs a infinite system for this to work. Capitalism has been remarkably resilient up to this point (it melds with our evolutionary history for fitness), but is now bumping into the restraints (a finite world) that will bring it down. It is the superstition of the premise itself that is the problem. As Kovel put it "Capitalism goes, or we go".

We need to use our imaginations to make this transition, or it will be made without any intelligence or wisdom.

I think it is a mistake to focus on the legal abstraction of "corporations" as being at the root of our problems.

And Don wrote in another post:

Again, my doomerish conclusions do not result from the laws of physics and geology but rather from the limitations of evolutionary psychology and our political institutions (which are built to accommodate our psychological needs).

And John Gray wrote in "Straw Dogs":

The destruction of the natural world is not the result of global capitalism, industrialization, 'Western civilization' or any flaw in human institutions. It is a consequence of the evolutionary success of an exceptionally rapacious primate. Throughout all of history and prehistory, human advance has coincided with ecological devastation.

I guess great minds think alike;-) However the point is the world is the way it is because of the way we are. We are molded by evolution to behave the way we do. We multiply to the limit of our existence, we fight for food and territory and our myopic minds concentrate on surviving today and at most a few months into the future because that is what all our hunter-gatherer ancestors had to worry about.

Oh a few people, a few minds, look to the distant future because there are always exceptions. But the great majority worry only of today because it is simply their nature to do so. We have multiplied our species great numbers and almost exhausted the supply of detritus that has nurtured our population boom.

It will end because it has to end. But still we deny. We deny because it is also in our nature to believe in magic.

Ron Patterson

In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists. - Eric Hoffer.

Good analysis, but the fun really starts when you have a family with a mixture of those who have myopia and are focused on surviving only today and those "few, who look to the distant future". Until now there were no ruptures, no seams. But now, as the economy starts its cascading failures, people related to each other suddenly find that they are not "on the same page". It is certainly interesting. I am no longer bored with the world, at least, as I was before peak oil.

Aren't you all no longer bored too? Admit it, Interesting Times are at least "Interesting", with a capital "I" and a capital "T".

I think sooner or later even those fixated on the only the immediate future will find their vision oddly vindicated when merely getting their hands on enough food for today and tomorrow does indeed become the prophecy fulfilled, the goal they were always only ready to meet anyway. The poor, for example, are now mainly focused on getting enough food today. And we will all be poor soon. And those who look longer term will still be rare.

While looking for an article about the origin of the ancient chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times"
I came across this longer version:

May you live in interesting times,
and attract the attention of important people,
and may all of your dreams come true.

At the time I didn't get how the last phrase fit into the curse.

I bet President-elect Obama does now.

There's a Persian curse that goes -

May all your wishes be instantly fulfilled.

I think this is just a re-hashing of an underlying belief/mantra that there is something intrinsically wrong with humans.

However, our individual human biologies do not accommodate endless growth. And the attempt at ongoing growth within a living organism is usually due to one of two things: an invader (as in infectious disease) or a malfunction (as in cancer).

Our civilized system has elements of an infection which promotes cancer.

What usually happens next is that the disease and ensuing cancer kill the hosts, sparing those with resilience, natural immunity, or acquired immunity.

If someone has an illness or a cancerous tumor, would we say that there is something intrinsically or fundamentally wrong with that person?

I suppose I should let Don answer, but it seems to me that you have grossly misinterpreted his missive. You have simply pasted your own beliefs over his comments and interpreted them in that light. I recognize that this is frequently a tactic in literary interpretation. But in this case, I don't think it moves the discussion of Don's musings forward.

The destruction of the natural world is not the result of global capitalism, industrialization, 'Western civilization' or any flaw in human institutions. It is a consequence of the evolutionary success of an exceptionally rapacious primate. Throughout all of history and prehistory, human advance has coincided with ecological devastation.

And capitalism is modeled after our evolutionary environment in which we have been successful. Simplified it is a competition of resource acquisition to produce a profit(the modern equivalent of a successful hunt) which has arguably aloowed for the greatest success for the most up until this point.

Now we are faced with a much different dynamic, one that will invariably lead to a great amount of misery for many and the end to all if pushed. There are no more lands in migrate to, no more new worlds with new batches of endless resources.

It's quite obvious to me that we need to scrap our competition based economic system which has made us successful up to this point because it is no longer useful for the survival of our species and in fact has become detrimental.

It seems to be fear and more specifically the fear of the unknown and that is controlling the lower brain of this hybrid humanoid species completely overiding its ability to think critically and then to perform the most critical function that has defined it since its genesis, to act. To act accordingly based upon the integration of new information.

It's time to evolve.

Is there a significant difference between debt destruction via bankruptcy for the economy and Malthusian decline for the population? Darwin's survival of the fittest might come to the aid of both domains, economic and population, but I'm quite sure we will not much care for the "solution".

"Thus our problems are not based at all on capitalism or monetarism"

Pure capitalism requires constant growth.

How is that not the core element of "our problems"?

Edit after reading Darwinian above;Capitalism is the ultimate system for an exceptionally rapacious primate to organize itself under.

Relatively pure socialism, as in the U.S.S.R., was justified to its citizens as offering faster economic growth than capitalism could. The emphasis on growth is not unique to capitalism, and capitalism does not require growth. For example, many non-growing ancient societies were capitalistic to a large extent--the big difference was that slaves were the main form of capital, just as they were in the southern U.S. prior to the Civil War.

Also, reference to "pure" capitalism is tilting at windmills, as I said before, because modern societies are a long long way from pure capitalism; we all live in mixed economies and will continue to live in mixed economies, mixtures of tradition, command, and market elements. Many of our problems are rooted in tradition, for example, limited opportunities for women or racial discrimination, or traditional religious views that assume Nature is subject to human domination, and that it is God's will that we must be fruitful and multiply.

The corruption of government is a far greater problem than are the excesses of capitalism. Indeed, these excesses would be impossible without huge failures of government.

For a long time Western societies have had mixed economies that are not at all close to pure capitalism. To rail at (pure) capitalism is to tilt at windmills.

Much along the same thought was expressed by John Ralston Saul in his book, ,Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West, published in 1992. To quote from page 373,

For those who manage and do not own, there is nothing so disturbing as the sight of one who does. The company owner is a reminder of the manager's false pretenses; a reminder that the latter has hijacked the occupation of the former, then deformed it to suit his own more comfortable needs.

The logic of the times has had something to do with what has happened to our economies, but the new elites - industrial and governmental - have also played a role. They have created both market conditions and regulations that discourage private ownership and small businesses, while favouring the growth of anonymously owned companies. Those who do create companies find it difficult in the current atmosphere to grow beyond a certain size without ceding to the buy-out opportunities offered by the large corporations circling around them.

The problem with that is that today "those who own" are just as big of mullets as the taxpayers. Their losses have been staggering, while "those who manage" have made off with the store.

Could that have something to do with the fact that a large portion of "those who own" are now made up of people with 401(k)s and pension funds?

Well said Sailorman!

Your comments on corporations as creations of gov'ts are precisely why I encourage the thought experiment of imagining a world without those laws that support the creation of corporations. Even just removing the notion of corporate personhood (and thus the ability to shift liability of of real persons) would alter everything.

This, of course, begs the question of the source of government power/authority to do what it does. And that is why I also am frequently encouraging people to think critically about the presumed political theory truths of the west - things like "the state of nature," property, and the state as the location of political power.

I was also interested in your comments on Plato. I first read The Republic in high school. Much of the self directed aspects of my education after that, one that included too many degrees in "political science" were aimed at finding a better solution that Plato could come up with. 3 decades later, I have found none and increasingly am coming to the conclusion that the Plato's disappointment might still be the best idea out there.

Hi Don,

Thanks for your posts.

Re: “Corporations are a creation of government, and what they do and do not do is limited by government; thus I think it is a mistake to focus on the legal abstraction of "corporations" as being at the root of our problems.”

When I’ve brought up corporations, it’s not as a substitute for looking at “the root” – meaning, the ultimate root – of “our problems”, as you put it.

It’s more of my interest in proximate causes, so to speak, and what practical means might exist to form a sustainable industrial civilization. (And what this might mean, if one were to qualify it.)

Re: “…what they do and do not do is limited by government…”

Well, this gets to a conundrum.

It seems (please correct me if I’m mistaken), corporations have found a way to circumvent the limitation.

For one thing, there is the flow of funds, as an example, into the election of candidates, with all the implications of same.

Then there is the enacting of new laws that weaken the power of, for example, local governments to enact laws contrary to interests of corporations. What is the degree of difficulty - (perhaps, impossibility?) - of reversing this process, once it’s been established?

Take the water holdings of corporations, as an example.

I found this interesting website,

“Thames’ pollution-friendly business model is being exported to the rest of the world as part of the increasing concentration and consolidation of transnational corporations pushing to privatize the world’s water.”

What’s really interesting is the section on AIG, which appears to be a few years old on the news – still, pretty dicey stuff.


It’s more of my interest in proximate causes, so to speak, and what practical means might exist to form a sustainable industrial civilization. (And what this might mean, if one were to qualify it.)

I think there are two elements necessary to have a civilization that has technology and is sustainable: no profit motive and no usury. Absent those two changes, we may as well be spitting in the wind.


Hi ccpo,

Thanks for responding, and my apologies for coming back so late to read what you wrote.

I'm interested in what you say here, and wonder if you might expand on it (I'm always encouraging people to submit posts to TOD or elsewhere.)

What would this no-profit, no usury system look like?

What about the idea of amassing capital, in order to invest in new projects? (Of any kind?)

How do you determine - or, how would you determine - what constitutes "profit" and what might constitute a reasonable return?

What I'm wondering is: Is there any way to do the following and if so, how?

1) Invest in human rights, legal rights of women and education of youth. One reason (pragmatic) is to have a foundation of legal rights of women: in order to make family planning a real option.

2) Look at the water system and supply and convert it to function with renewable energy technologies (for transport, filtration, etc.)

3) Ditto for...sewage (though with different particulars).

4) Re-localize food production, while maintaining the resiliency of longer distance supplies to cover local crop failures.

5) Encourage and make progress toward re-localizing agriculture.

6) Look at what types of contingency planning might be done for sudden shortfalls in oil and gasoline.

7) Look to see if there is any way to minimize the negative impacts of these hugely steep decline rates we're looking at...

And so forth.

I would really like to see how your requirements for a sustainable situation might translate into some practice.

You are correct that the executives of corporations do have political power--largely through camapaign contributions to political candidates. But our campaign financing laws permit special-interest groups (not just corporations) to give large amounts of money to politicians to get them elected. The problem is with our legislators: They are trapped in this money chase to stay in office, and few of them have the guts to support legislation to limit the abuses of campaign financing--abuses that amount to legalized graft in some case.

The people who do the giving are generally following the laws; the problem is with our lawmakers, and I do not know how to reform the existing system. My guess is that it will be destroyed by a dictator--which would be even worse than the corrupt system we now have.


Please enter your email address into you bio or contact WaveRider by clicking on my red colored name above for contact.

Dave in San Rafael


The God that made the world in seven days about 6000 years ago, and then convinced His people that all those fossils were just put there to incite wonder and prove His power will surely come up with something better than Peak Oil to end the world with. How could such people ever accept something a trivial as "Peak Oil" with such a powerful Creator?

You are right-- there are no limits to self-deception. On the one hand is the Creationist crowd, but on the other, there are the Technocrats who believe we can "reason" our way out of the trap with better technology. There is a limit, however, to the number of photons coming our way from the Sun. There is a daily limit that will constrain our "solar" technology, and a total limit over time-- stored as coal and oil, and a sort of intermediate limit stored as forests that constrain our "hydrocarbon" technology. It doesn't matter how smart we are, there are limits, and the Free Market is really a zero sum.

And yet, I don't see how any species can have any real innate knowledge of "limits"-- where is the adaptive advantage in that? From cyanobacteria to primates, the command is "go forth and multiply."

Although we human beings pride ourselves on the development of "reason", the faculty seems to actually have a much different purpose than to allow us to appreciate and integrate the concept of limits in our ordinary lives. Such things are for poets and seers.

People, like yeast, seem doomed to crash into the walls of their container, and then adapt or die. I think we will adapt -- but it is going to be a very different world from the one we know now. Could be better, a lot better. I'm not a "doomer" by any means.

I am not a doomer in the sense that I think industrial civilization is going to collapse back into hunting and gathering communities. I am a doomer in the sense that I expect a major dieoff of the world's population to result from declining oil production and also in the sense that I expect a Greater Depression in the industrialized part of the world caused by declining oil production. Again, my doomerish conclusions do not result from the laws of physics and geology but rather from the limitations of evolutionary psychology and our political institutions (which are built to accommodate our psychological needs).

Furthermore, my doomerism is qualified by the recognition that all civilizations have faced major challenges in the past, as Toynbee pointed out. How civilizations respond to these challenges is not determined by some inexorable fate--but rather by institutions such as family, religion, economy, government, education and science. These institutions change over time. For example, religion is a wild card--usually conservative but sometimes revolutionary. I am discouraged by the failures of our social institutions, but I do not absolutely despair. Change is possible, within limits set by neuroscience and evolutionary psychology.

Change is possible, within limits set by neuroscience and evolutionary psychology.

Maybe I was wrong above to suggest to Ron that he was misinterpreting your earlier passage. I was following right along with you until I got to the psychobabble in the passage above.

There are no limits set by neuroscience or evolutionary psychology. Both are descriptive sciences which attempt to put some sense to observed phenomenon. Not even the most enthusiastic practitioners of either field would suggest that the study of their field places any limits on the field itself.

But, if you were simply trying to make a shorthand reference to the things being studied and not the study of them, then your might get more of my sympathy. Still, does it really say anything to suggest that change is limited by our brains and and our heritage? Yup, we're homo sapiens sapiens, alright. But that doesn't really answer anything, it only sets the presuppositions.

I should have said the FINDINGS of evolutionary biology and neuroscience. Clearly the disciplines themselves do not provide limits to thought and action--but the findings go a long way to explain denial and groupthink.

Denial of Peak Oil is now part of groupthink, and I fear it may stay that way for another half dozen years, even as oil decline gets into double digits in terms of percentages.

I'm afraid it may be put off more or less indefinitely; but at the point it IS accepted mainstream, it won't be called "peak oil" but something else, a term which has not been widely used before then, even if it doesn't describe the situation nearly as well. A number of people have heard of "peak oil" and that it's a fringe movement, and that's how it will remain, frozen like the magnetic polarization of cooled magma. Peak oil flow rates will be called something else, and EROEI probably won't be addressed at all since it can't be compressed sufficiently to fit everyman's max meme-buffer size.

And that's just those who make a real effort to be non-delusional. As a model for accepting and dealing with peak oil, how about a comparison with something else for which there is abundant evidence: individual physical death. Some enormously wackily high percentage of humans don't believe that having their body die will curtail their social lives. A reasonable comparison might be "Alternative fuels = afterlife" perceptually, because the very possibility of non-continuance is rejected by the vast majority as nonsensical in principle.

To a reasonable first approximation, all humans are dysfunctionally insane when it comes to thinking about the future.

One of my favorite lines, from American Beauty:

"Never underestimate the power of denial."

When will the fact of Peak Oil become conventional wisdom?

Quite likely not until oil production actually peaks.

Remember, the (EIA) all-time high for oil supply was July 2008, neatly coinciding with the all-time high for price. Prices have since fallen, and so has supply, with suppliers explicitly stating they're lowering supply to prop up the price.

With that in our immediate past, the belief that oil supply is not in immediate danger is fairly rational.

We shall see more rationalizations of declining oil production. ("It's really just a drop in demand." "It's just greedy OPEC turning off valves to boost prices."

Are you suggesting that these are not true?

High prices and a weak economy have reduced demand; nobody will take you seriously if you deny that. OPEC has reduced production due to the steep drop in prices; they've literally said as much, and history and economics both say they're probably not kidding.

Peak oil may be important to you, but not everything is caused by peak oil!

Sometimes demand drops when not forced to by supply. Sometimes OPEC cuts production when not forced to by geology. Sometimes the things you derided as "rationalizations" are nothing more than the truth. Oil production will eventually peak and decline, but that doesn't mean it must be happening now, and that doesn't mean it's the hidden hand behind every world event.

Nate Hagens is right to emphasize neuroscience and evolutionary psychology in this regard.

Indeed he is; why do so many people here think they know the future? Why do so many people here think they have "special knowledge" that all the "sheeple" don't?

It's comforting to feel you're "misunderstood" by a world that "just doesn't get it" and that "someday they'll be sorry they didn't listen" - that's the angst that's spawned a million crappy teen melodramas. I don't really care if buying into that is what makes you happy, but it sure as hell isn't a valid basis for reasoning about the world, and I object to people trying to pawn their adolescent fantasies off as "Important Truths".

Got data? Great - happy to read it, happy to learn.
Got angst? Don't be surprised when someone digs up a little data and bursts your bubble.

Data trumps theories. That doesn't just apply to data you like.

Data tests theories. There has been no significant increase in net oil exports since 2005; we see global rates of growth declining. Of course correlation does not prove causation, but economic theory says that rising oil prices will tend to slow down and eventually reverse economic growth. Can you deny that the huge price increases in oil over the past five years have had a great deal to do with slowing down the rate of growth everywhere except in oil exporting countries?

In my opinion Peak Oil did not cause the credit crunch and had essentially nothing to do with the speculative bubble that was the sufficient prerequisite for the crunch and for the recession that much of the world is in right now. However, it is folly to overlook the geological limits on the flow of oil production when trying to understand why economies are turning down and why the current recession may well turn into a Greater Depression. BTW, I know that others disagree with me as to the causation of the credit crunch; some say the rising price of oil was the straw that broke the camels back--but I think that hypothesis cannot be proven.

I agree with westexas who says that geology underlies declining net oil exports--geology plus increasing oil consumption in exporting countries.

Indeed he is; why do so many people here think they know the future? Why do so many people here think they have "special knowledge" that all the "sheeple" don't?

Your stance is that no person, ever, has been or will be able to predict any future event? I know I have certainly been able to do so. Why should I doubt myself because you lack the ability to understand that predictions are made and do come true? While past success is no guarantee of future success, it is plainly foolish to not listen at all to those who have shown the insight to make right guesses.

Are you willing to stand by an assertion the future is absolutely unknowable? If not, you have no business insulting people for expressing their opinions about future events.

You further claim data is all. Truly? Aren't you a ACC denier? The case for and against wrt the science is at least 1000:1 in favor of ACC. You are contradicting yourself, no? Data, btw, is not the be all and end all. Intuitive leaps and educated guesses are at the heart of every major technological breakthrough - ever. Period. Relying solely on data is a fool's errand, for without intuition, that data sits in a file gathering dust.

Let me illustrate: I predicted the invasion of Iraq and the melting of Arctic ice at far faster rates than had been suggested by anyone. How, pray tell, did I do that? Intuitive insight bolstered by observable changes and scientific data. Not just data.

You are wrong. Data does not trump theories. Data exists because someone made an intuitive leap or an educated guess then created the data.

Your constant contrarian dismissiveness is getting boring.


As non-OPEC oil production tanks

Define "tanks".

Per EIA numbers, world non-OPEC C+C YTD is down 1.2% over the same period in 2007, and 0.7% over the same period in 2006. Looking at total oil supply, non-OPEC YTD is down 0.2% over same period 2007 and up 0.2% over same period 2006.

Per IEA numbers, world non-OPEC oil supply is down about 1.5% vs. 2006, but up fractionally vs. 2007.

The fact is that aggregate non-OPEC oil production levels simply aren't changing very quickly, notwithstanding the few countries which are seeing rapid changes (e.g., Norway, Mexico, UK). Rather than "tanks", a more accurate description would be "ebbs". (Which is good, as retooling to do without something is much easier if it merely ebbs away.)

Thanks Pitt for your big-picture thinking. To repeat, Colin Campbell is still predicting an average all liquids annual decline rate of less than 1.7% (82 Mbpd in 2010 to 55 Mbpd in 2030).

Hello Pitt the Elder,

IMO, it is impossible to know the exact amount, but I suspect we have seen some significant amount of total net energy decline from decreasing ERoEI while on the Hubbert Plateau [2003? to Now], and it will only continue to get worse as time passes and global population continues to increase at roughly 70,000/day. [Energy + resources]/capita may be declining even faster than [Coal, natgas & FF]'s ERoEI.

Joe Costello,

This is the second installment of my response to your article that was published in Asia Times:


In the first installment I made the case that the current financial crisis is the result of a moral failure, and thus merited a moral response.

I would now like to review some of the moral imperatives of our forefathers to see how these have evolved over time—and how they now leave us in a moral dilema. I’d then like to speculate as to what sort of moral vision we might articulate for the future.

In this segment I rely almost exclusively on the insights of Reinhold Niebuhr. Niebuhr was perhaps America’s greatest 20th-century theologian. His wisdom was seminal in the formulation of Martin Luther King’s philosophies, and King cited him frequently in his writings. Current-day disciples include Andrew Bacevich and president-elect Barak Obama, who had this to say about him:

[Niebuhr] is one of my favorite philosophers. I take away [from his works] the compelling idea that there’s serious evil in the wold, and hardship and pain. And we should be humble and modest in our belief we can eliminate those things. But we shouldn’t use that as an excuse for cynicism and inaction.

Now on to the chase. In regards to natural resource depletion and global warming, I foresee three principle areas where moral contradictions seem unavoidable:

1) Prosperity and Equality vs. Global Limitations:

The moral vision of our forefathers entailed both unlimited growth and equality. Reinhold Niebuhr explains:

The Declaration of Independence assures us that “the pursuit of happiness” is one of the “inalienable rights” of mankind… The hope was that the earth could be transformed from a place of misery to an abode of happiness and contentment. The philosophy which generated this hope was intent both upon eliminating the natural hazards to comfort, security and contentment; and upon reforming society so that the privileges of life would be shared equitably. The passion for justice, involved in this hope, was of a higher moral order than the ambition to overcome the natural hazards to man’s comfort and security…

[T]he decay of traditional and unjust political institutions and the remarkable success of the scientific conquest of nature unloosed the hope that all impediments to human happiness would be progressively removed. In the words of (the 18th-century chemist Joseph) Priestley, “Nature, including both its materials and its laws, will be more at our command; men will make their situation in this world abundantly more easy and comfortable, they will prolong their existence in it and grow daily more happy… Thus whatever the beginning of the world the end will be glorious and paradisiacal beyond that our imaginations can now conceive”…

[But, as Niebuhr goes on to add,] there are evidently limits to the achievements of science; and there are irresolvable contradictions both between prosperity and virtue, and between happiness and the “good life” which had not been anticipated in our philosophy. The discovery of these contradictions threatens our culture with despair…

Both the Puritans and the Jeffersonians attributed the prosperity (of the United States) primarily to a divine providence which, as Jefferson observed, “led our forefathers, as Israel of old, out of their native land and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessaries and comforts of life”…

From that day to this it has remained one of the most difficult achievements for our nation to recognize the fortuitous and the providential element in our good fortune… For, from the later Puritans to the present day we have variously attributed American prosperity to our superior diligence, our greater skill or (more recently) to our more fervent devotion to the ideals of freedom. We thereby have complicated our spiritual problem for the days of adversity which we are bound to experience. We have forgotten to what degree the wealth of our natural resources and the fortuitous circumstance that we conquered a continent just when the advancement of technics made it possible to organize that continent into a single political and economic unit, lay at the foundation of our prosperity…

[I]t is certainly the character of our particular democracy, founded on a vast continent, expanding as a culture with its expanding frontier and creating new frontiers of opportunity when the old geographic frontiers were ended, that every ethical and social problem of a just distribution of the privileges of life is solved by so enlarging the privileges that either an equitable distribution is made easier, or a lack of equity is rendered less noticeable…

Yet the price which American culture has paid for this amelioration of social tensions through constantly expanding production has been considerable. It has created moral illusions about the ease with which the adjustment of interests to interests can be made in human society. These have imparted a quality of sentimentality to both our religious and our secular, social and political theories. It has also created a culture which makes “living standards” the final norm of the good life and which regards the perfection of techniques as the guarantor of every cultural as well as of every social-moral value.

Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History

Now come resource depletion and global warming. What do they mean? And how do they change the moral road map originally envisioned by our forefathers?

Do they even exist? There are many, including most economists and many oil industry insiders, who deny their very being.

Do they mark the end of unlimited economic growth?

Will technological and scientific advances provide a way out so that unlimited economic growth can continue?

Is the militarization of energy policy, the route embarked upon by the Bush administration, a viable solution?

If resource limitations and/or global warming indeed spell the end of unlimited growth, what then becomes of the other moral imperative articulated by our forefathers--equality?

Will it be possible to transition to a new cultural norm which does not make “living standards” the linchpin for every cultural and every social-moral value? What might that new cultural norm look like?

Will the end of unlimited economic growth mark the end of capitalism? Of democracy?

In a new era of scarce resources and global warming, what moral vision should we articulate now?

My contention is that the person or group that articulates the most compelling moral vision is the group that will gain dominance in the political arena. It is that group that will see its policy recommendations enacted.

As just a passing observation, I see and hear many prophets of doom and despair. This, as Niebuhr points out, is also a moral vision that is, at least partially, grounded in Christian ideology:

The Biblical conception of man’s unique freedom, which distinguishes him from the other creatures, assumes his right to have dominion over nature and to make natural forces serve human ends…

Man becomes involved in evil by breaking the harmonies of nature and exceeding its ends…

Man’s dominion over nature is declared to be a rightful one. Divine jealousy is aroused by man’s refusal to observe the limits of his freedom…

Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden of Eden because the first pair allowed “the serpent” to insinuate that, if only they would defy the limits which God had set even for his most unique creature, man, they would be like God. All subsequent human actions are infected with a pretentious denial of human limits. But the actions of those who are particularly wise or mighty or righteous fall under special condemnation. The builders of the Tower of Babel are scattered by a confusion of tongues because they sought to build a tower which would reach into the heavens. The possible destruction of a technical civilization, of which the “skyscraper” is a neat symbol, may become a modern analogue to the Tower of Babel.

Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History

2) Strong Central Government vs. Individual Autonomy

The dilema between a strong central government (along with the concomitant central planning) and libertarianism is also one which we inherited from our forefathers. Madison was the champion of government. Jefferson was the champion of the individual. Again Niebuhr gives a concise explanation:

Jefferson, and his coterie including Tom Paine, had a vision of an harmonious society in which government would interfere as little as possible with the economic ambitions of the individual. These ambitions were presumed to be moderate; and their satisfaction without friction with the neighbor would be guaranteed by the wide opportunities of the new continent…

Madison feared the potential tyranny of government as much as Jefferson; but he understood the necessity of government much more. The Constitution protects the citizen against abuses of government, not so much by keeping government weak as by introducing the principle of balance of power into government… The important fact is that the necessity of a strong government was recognized. Madison was much more conscious than Jefferson of the peril of what he called “faction” in the community. He had no hope of resolving such conflicts by simple prudence. With the realists of every age he knew how intimately man’s reason is related to his interests. “As long as any connection exists,” he wrote, “between man’s reason and his self-love, his opinions and passions will have reciprocal influence upon each other”…

[T]he political philosophy which underlies our Constitution (Madison’s) is characterized by a shrewd awareness of the potential conflicts of power and passion in every community. It knows nothing of a simple harmony in society, analogous to the alleged reciprocity of the free market (the Jeffersonian conception)…

The debate between those who want to plan and those who want to remove as many restraints as possible from human activities transcends the limits of the political controversy between the industrial workers and the middle class by which it is best know in modern life. But that controversy offers a perfect illustration of the “ideological taint” which colors the reason of each type of thought. Middle-class life came to power and wealth by breaking ancient restraints; and the more successful middle classes fear new restraints upon their sometimes quite inordinate powers and privileges. They, therefore, speak piously and reverently of “the laws of nature” which must not be violated; and they endow the unpredictable drama of human history with fixities of nature not to be found there.

The industrial classes, on the other hand, found themselves in an unfavorable situation in this celebrated “free” world. They were involved in a vast social mechanism which periodically broke down; and they were not consoled by the belief that these crises were necessary for society’s health. They lacked the personal skills to enter on even terms in an individualistic competitive struggle; and they were confronted in any case with consolidations of power which they could not match. In fairly honest democracies they saw the possibility of organizing both economic and political power to match that of the more privileged classes. In the less healthy democracies or undemocratic nations, their fears and resentments found assuagement in the Marxist scheme which envisaged not only a “plan” of justice for society but of redemption for the whole of mankind…

The controversy between those who would “plan” justice and order and those who trust in freedom to establish both is, therefore, an irresolvable one. Every healthy society will live in the tension of that controversy until the end of history; and will prove its health by preventing either side from gaining complete victory.

Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History

Neibuhr’s comments were made in the context of using the power of government to achieve equality. But what about using the power of the government to plan for the eventuality of Peak oil? Global warming?

These were the “ironies” Niebuhr warned would beset us as we go about weighing up conflicting moral imperatives: Freedom vs. Equality; Freedom vs. Energy Sufficiency; Freedom vs. the Environment; Freedom vs. the Economy.

Andrew Bacevich wrote in The Limits of Power that “freedom is not so much a word or even a value as an incantation, its very mention enough to stifle doubt and terminate all debate.” I would take it a step farther. I would say that the meaning of “freedom” in the United States has become so debased that it now signifies the license to engage in a hedonistic, narcissistic orgy of self-indulgence while sending the bill to someone else. And we should not forget that those who chant “freedom, freedom, freedom” are all too often the same ones who, when it comes to the conflict of Freedom vs. National Security, have no qualms about sacrificing freedom on the altar of their hallowed national security state.

Again, our morals and values will play determinate roles in deciding which side to come down when weighing up these paradoxes.

3)Theory vs. Common Sense

In resolving moral conflicts in the past, common sense has always trumped over theory in the United States. Niebuhr explains:

Any modern community which establishes a tolerable justice is the beneficiary of the ironic triumph of the wisdom of common sense over the foolishness of its wise men. For the wise men are inevitably tempted to follow either one or the other line of “rational” advance of which the bourgeois (“libertarian,” in today’s vernacular) and the Marxist ideologies are perfect types. The one form of thought regards all social and historical processes as self-regulating. In this case it is only required to eliminate the foolish restraints and controls which former generations have sought to place upon them. This is, on the whole, the conception of rational politics and economics of the bourgeois era since the French Enlightenment. The alternative type of thought conceives a social or historical goal, presumably desired by all humanity, and seeks to “plan” for its achievement..

Power, in the thought of the typically bourgeois man, is political. He believes that it must be reduced to a minimum. The earlier bourgeois man wanted to eliminate political power because it represented the special advantages which the old aristocracy had over him. The present bourgeois man wants to reduce it to a minimum because it represents the effort of a democratic society to bring disproportions of economic power under control. In the shift of motive from earlier to later bourgeois man lies the inevitable degradation of the liberal dogma…

Marxism is so formidable as a political creed precisely because it expresses the convictions of those who have discovered the errors in the liberal-bourgeois creed in bitter experience. Marxism is so dangerous because in its consistent form it usually substitutes a more grievous error for the error which it challenges. In this debate between errors, or between half-truth and half-truth, America is usually completely on the side of the bourgeois credo in theory; but in practice it has achieved balances of power in the organization of social forces and consequent justice which has robbed the Marxist challenge of its sting.

The triumph of the wisdom of common sense over these two types of wisdom is, therefore, primarily the wisdom of democracy itself, which prevents either strategy from being carried through to its logical conclusion. There is an element of truth in each position which becomes falsehood, precisely when it is carried through too consistently. The element of truth in each creed is required to do full justice to man’s real situation. For man transcends the social and historical process sufficiently to make it possible and necessary deliberately to contrive common ends of life, particularly the end of justice. He cannot count on inadvertence and the coincidence of private desires alone to achieve common ends. On the other hand, man is too immersed in the welter of interest and passion in history and his survey over the total process is too short-range and limited to justify the endowment of any group or institution of “planners” with complete power. The “purity” of their idealism and the pretensions of their science must always be suspect. Man simply does not have a “pure” reason in human affairs; and if such reason as he has is given complete power to attain its ends, the taint will become the more noxious.

Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History

I would say that the meaning of “freedom” in the United States has become so debased that it now signifies the license to engage in a hedonistic, narcissistic orgy of self-indulgence while sending the bill to someone else.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And thank you again.

I find it amazing that many in America fail to realize that there is nothing free in life.
Just imagine the poor fellow in his over-inflated McMansion who attempts to renege against the Federal Reserve Bank who now holds the title to his house.
It's not going to happen - it will not be allowed - the brankruptcy laws have been changed recently.It is the Federal Government the people will have to negotiate with, not some regional institution.Whomever you are indebted to you are a slave to.When people begin to realize they cannot abrogate their agreement with the terms of the loan there may be a state of shock that metastasizes among the irresponsible careless masses.

Very sad indeed...But they had it coming.

I'll give you what for you tyke....

DownSouth -

Some heavy stuff for sure!

I am largely in agreement, but would like to add just a few comments:

1) I tend not to be too much in awe of our Founding Fathers. While the rhetoric of the Declaration of Independence, the concepts embodied in the Constitution, and the Founders various writings are works of genius, the reality of our early Republic was quite a bit different. Most of the Founders were members of the moneyed elite, and a good many were slave holders. In reality they had little interest in sharing much power with the masses. For many years, indentured servants couldn't vote, people without property couldn't vote, and of course women and blacks couldn't vote. For the longest time, US senators were not selected by popular vote but where selected by state legislatures. Well, into the 1800s there were many rebellions of poor tenant farmers against the established landowners, who controlled vast tracts of land. For the average poor working slob it was hardly a democratic paradise.

2) People tend to construct their own morality around their own selfish interests. Hence the militarization of US energy policy (which can be crudely summed up by the expression, 'Kick their ass and take their gas!') holds no moral contradictions for most Americans. So what if it's their oil, we deserve it because we Americans are better people! The people who really run the US are in total denial that the only logical endpoint of our efforts to militarily dominate the oil-producing regions of the world is global warfare, warfare with a not insignificant chance of going nuclear.

In regards to your comment #1, I am reminded of what Jacques Barzun wrote:

But despite the ringing preamble of the Declaration, is it a fact that the struggle was the outcome of enlightenment ideas? The utterance did suggest a vast modern nation asserting its right to govern itself on advanced principles unrealizable in the old world. This interpretation was congenial to progressive Europeans. The truth was different. The American population of 2.2 million was still crude in manners and mode of life. It was not a nation, nor was the fundamental temper of the colonialists that of the philosophes. The Americans fought and cheated the Indian tribes on their borders and the southerners lived off the toil of 200,000 African slaves. Despite the admiring regard of the primitivists and the prophecy of Bishop Berkeley half a century earlier, it did not seem as if Europe had much to learn from the people overseas...

Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence

And regarding comment #2, I choose to remain cautiously optimistic and hope that Andrew Bacevich might be proven correct:

Realism in this sense implies an obligation to see the world as it actually is, not as we might like it to be. The enemy of realism is hubris, which in Niebuhr's day, and in our own, finds expression in an outsized confidence in the efficacy of American power as an instrument to reshape the global order...

Hubris and sanctimony have become the paramount expressions of American statecraft...

Yet ironically Iraq may yet prove to be the source of our salvation. For the United States, the ongoing war makes plain the imperative of putting America's house in order. Iraq has revealed the futility of counting on military power to sustain our habits of profligacy. The day of reckoning approaches.

Andrew J. Bacevich, The Limits of Power

DownSouth -

I sincerely hope that Andrew Bacevich is right.

However, I think we could probably agree that there is no shortage of hubris in the US.

I think the question is: Will the coming bad times bring the US down to reality, or will it propel us to even higher levels of desperate self-delusion and hubris, and hence downfall?

The pessimist in me suspects the latter. Blame will be thrown everywhere except where it rightly belongs.

Tom Clancy’s EndWar Review

A global energy crisis has left Russia in a state of economic boom while the US and the newly established European Federation are locked in an escalating arms race. This leads to a three-way Cold War as long-standing battle lines are redrawn between the world’s three competing superpowers. Only the lack of a catalyst stands between the current state of strained tensions and open warfare on a global scale. EndWar’s opening cutscene and subsequent playable prologue paints in broad strokes the lead-in to World War III.

Curious how often you see the idea of peak oil in video games. Perhaps because they can be edgier than other forms of entertainment? Or because many game designers are "older Xers," and thus grew up during the first oil crisis? Even the granddaddy of first person shooters, DOOM, was based around peak oil. Story wasn't really much of an element, but the corporation that let the demons loose was, among other things, trying to replace the depleted hydrocarbons of earth. Which was supposedly why all those exploding oil barrels and pools of radioactive waste were all over the place.

I don't buy the idea that most people are unaware of or in denial about "peak oil." No one I've ever talked to claimed that petroleum resources were infinite. The issue has always been "when" - and how precipitantly - global petroleum production would decline, not "if" it would ever do so. In 1970s college environmental science courses Hubbert's Peak was discussed; it isn't as if this knowledge is some repressed secret. In my experience it hasn't been that people don't know that inexpensive, easily obtained petroleum would eventually run out, it's that they don't believe that anything can be done about it and hence simply don't care.

"Don't care" is not what I see and hear. I've been surprised how many people I've spoken with lately ARE really worried. Not just the choir, either. It's not that they don't care, it's that they don't know what to do and continiue doing BAU. Some have bought more efficient cars and ride the bus more. It's like people expect a storm but like you said, don't know when it's coming. They don't know if it will be 'fire or ice' and don't know how to prepare. Nobody's leading...yet.

Yes, you're right: "don't care" is poor phrasing. It isn't that people "don't care" about PO and all its implications for their lifestyles, it's more that they have the attitude "there's nothing I can do about it so why worry about it"? My main point wasn't that people don't care, it was that the idea that people are unaware of PO or in denial about it is largely a myth.

I agree with your main point. Personally, I don't think "there is nothing I can do" but sometimes I think, "there isn't much I can do." I'm conserving at home and I'm engaged locally in a number of ways but it's slow motion, baby.

Hello Darwinsdog,

IMO, evidence of Peak Everything acceptance + the opposite reaction of "there's nothing I can do about it so why worry about it" occurs when everyone has zero, one, but no more than two offspring. I also think we are currently a long way from achieving below replacement birthrates. That is why 'in belief' I hew close to the line in Jay Hanson's Thermo/Gene Collision prediction timeline, but work to achieve Universal Peak Outreach and Optimal Overshoot Decline strategies.

I hope everyone will take the time to view the David Suzuki video speech below:


He ends by saying, "We have got to start putting our bodies on the line".

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

Hi Bob. First of all, I appreciate your efforts to inform TOD readership of NPK depletion issues. This is a very serious problem that is tied up w/ PO in some ways and yet constitutes an enormous threat to humanity's ability to feed itself, in its own right. Keep up the good work!

My wife & I have three grown children and one grandchild. We also lost a child as an infant. Mine is undoubtedly an unpopular opinion with TOD readers but I wish we had a larger family. I'm a hypocrite, I know, in that I realize the imperative for reducing population via a reduction in the birthrate, yet I want my kids to give me more grandchildren. Darwinian fitness is the only nonarbitrary criterion of "success" an organism can claim, after all. But beyond that, my kids as older children, teens and young adults provided a lot of labor - not to mention entertainment - when they were home. It's hard to accumulate sufficient O-NPK precursors without strong backs manning the rakes & pitchforks.

Two of my kids live in the greater Phoenix area and I fear for their well being when the CAP pumps & siphons run dry. I love the Sonoran Desert... in winter. But I can't live there and neither can the ecoregion support anywhere near the population that currently infests it without pumped water stolen from the Colorado watershed. I live in the Colorado watershed & resent this theft to support the unsustainable. Along with my kids, you'd be well advised to get out while the getting's good.

I don't buy that there is a real problem with NPK, only one that is manufactured and/or/results from inaction. Natural farming doesn't use it, or uses it very, very little. Thus, like PO, the answer is to shift behavior rather than figure out where to get more NPK.

Massive shift to natural, et al., methods = no NPK shortage.

As with everything, it's getting people to understand and act that is the problem.


There is a great quote--is it correct, do you think, in Kunstler's column today: "Most Americans have bought their last car, they just don't know it yet". Yes I would agree with it. I hope he is right. I will have tears in my eyes (happy tears) when the automakers finally crank out their last car, and I hope I live to see the day (I'm 43 so I think there's a good chance). I think the pollution cars cause is absolutely intolerable and unconscionable, when they were invented the people in charge should have directed the inventors to put them away forever. Then we'd still have almost all the oil that has been used up. We wouldn't have been sucked so quickly into a consumer culture (believe me, it's hard to buy a lot without a car, I know, we don't have one and we have 2 kids and 2 adults so we have a lot of places to go and things we "need".) We wouldn't have caused global warming or developed suburbs so quickly, we might not have seen such explosive population growth, or the development of a huge "financial" industry and all the credit bubbles. Millions of people injured and killed in car accidents wouldn't have been (of course this reasoning gets a little silly, probably many wouldn't have been born, including maybe me, and perhaps people would die from other things like not getting to the hospital without an ambulance). Anyway, Kunstler could yet be wrong, if people find other ways to power their little beastly engines, and god knows they're trying.

I'm not sure about most of America.

But I think I've bought my last car. Indeed, I bought it assuming it would be my last. It's one reason I chose a Corolla. It's known for its reliability, and it's one of the most popular cars in history...which means plenty of spare parts available, for years to come.

And car thieves like it too.

Not really. The theft rate is not that high. (Though the number stolen might be, just because there are so many of them.)

Though I imagine that could change, if the market changes.

I planned for my low mileage 1982 M-B 240D (manual transmission) to be my last car. Multi-fuel and very durable with minimal maintenance. IMHO, in 2030, it will have fewer problems than a 2006 model would have.

Best Hopes for old W123 models,


The wildlife killed by cars alone is sufficient to cause me to hate cars with an absolute passion. I certainly hope Kunstler is correct about this.

There is one huge benefit of cars: For many families the choice is between owning a nice new car and having another child. Most families decide on the car, when they have the choice. This principle seems to be a cultural universal, though more strongly seen in some societies than in others. The Volkswagon, for example was clearly designed for exactly two adults plus two children. Societies such as those of the U.S., the U.K. and Italy all had drastically falling birthrates as the prospect of owning an automobile became powerful enough to sterilize most families after one or two children.

Where you don't find cars, e.g. in village India, one finds high birth rates. And in the least motorized societies of all, in much of Africa, you find the highest birthrates of all. Thus it is not correct to view cars as an unmitigated evil; they are bad, but their bad effects are mitigated by the drastic decline in birth rates that goes along with the ownership of cars.

Don, I'm surprised to see you caught in a post hoc ergo procter hoc like this one:

"Where you don't find cars, e.g. in village India, one finds high birth rates. "

Poverty and disempowerment of women are IMO more causal to high birthrates than mobility in general or car ownership in particular.

At its root, the reason poor people have so much willy-nilly sex is because it's free.

They don't have access to reliable birth control technology-there is no evidence Indian villagers are having more sex than e.g Italians.

They do have access to reliable birth control technology. Government brand condoms are nearly free in India and universally available. Sterilization is free in government hospitals and encouraged. At one time (seventies and eighties) financial incentives were offered to people who underwent sterilization. Maybe the incentives are still there.

Actually the population growth rate in India is not that high - it is around 1.6% and falling. The birth rate would have been dramatically lower if it wasn't for the fact that female literacy rate in rural India is pathetic.

No, the cars leading to low birth rates is not a post-hoc ergo propter-hoc fallacy. Sociologists have written about cars leading to lower birth rates for half a century or more. A famous British sociologist, speaking of English society, wrote at the end of the nineteen fifties: "The prospect of owning a motor car is sufficient to sterilize most couples." or words to that effect. By the mid nineteen sixties it was almost a cliche of sociology that owning cars led to lower birth rates, all other things staying the same. Note that the prospect of owning a car, as a sterilizing agent, is much more powerful than the message (e.g. of Roman Catholocism) not to use birth control. Catholic Spain, Catholic Italy, and Catholic Ireland have some of the lowest birthrates in the world, and it is no accident that, for examples, Italians love their cars almost as much as they do their children.

People make choices. If the only way you can afford a car is to forego having children, then you'll probably forego having many children, regardless of what the Pope or the imam says.

As China gets lots more cars on the road, they will find that their birth rate declines--and for that very reason. I challenge you to name a single country where most people have cars that also has a high birth rate. Of course car ownership is not the ONLY factor that lowers birth rates; education of women is also important. Thus, for example, in the poor Indian state of Kerala, where most women do receive an education, they also have much lower birth rates than in Indian states that do not educate women. Also urbanization lowers birth rates. But do not underestimate the car as a causative factor in lowered birth rates.

I always assumed it was the extent of high speed internet access in a society that was most highly correlated with lowered birth rates.

That's on the path to Scott Adam's (Dilbert) Holodeck Assertion: Human technology growth can not go beyond invention of the holodeck (StarTrek virtual reality stage), as after that point all sufficiently adept technologists will be too busy with virtual babes to make further advances.

That and a preference for sushi or pasta or speaking French in North America.

Somebody's been at sea too long.

I think you are on to something. TV kills the sex drive, and so does Internet addiction. I have often speculated that people with active sex lives do not post much on TOD, and vice versa. One women friend put it to me explicitly: either TOD goes or she goes. Well, she went, and here I am back on TOD.

However, sex has surprisingly little to do with reproduction. People with the most active sex lives often have the fewest children, and families with lots of children often find the parents with little time or energy for sex. Indeed, there is a conflict between having small children and having a healthy forty hours a week of wild passionate sex. To some extent you have a choice: Have a lot of kids or have a lot of sex, but you can't have both. Also, men who have extremely active sex lives have low sperm counts; if you want to have a child your best bet is to refrain from sex for a couple of days before the fertile period in the female to build up sperm count.

Who knows, if we can't afford to go places in cars, TVs don't work, and the Internet breaks down, we may have a lot more high quality sex in our futures. See for example, Bronislaw Malinowski's "The Sexual Live of Savages in Northwestern Melanesia" for a good description of a culture lacking cars, TVs, the Internet where everybody has great sex all the time--even couples who are married to one another!

Don Sailorman-

Come on ..... ya gotta be joking!

The relationship between cars and birthrate has to be at best a very indirect correlation, much akin to that between ice cream sales and urban crime rate (both being much higher in the summer). By your reasoning you would have to conclude that ice cream causes crime.

The real common causal factor here is very most likely prosperity. Prosperous people generally have less kids than the poor masses. Cars are just a side effect or trappings of prosperity. Hell, you might as well try to relate birth rates to video rentals, gym membership, cosmetic surgery, or whatever.

Some of the places with the lowest birthrates have comparatively low car ownership rates - crowded cities in developed countries, for instance, such as Seoul or Hong Kong.
Prosperity correlates better to birth rate than car ownership, and things like health care and women's secondary education even better.

Prosperity is another important economic variable; other things being equal, more prosperous societies do have lower birthrates than do poorer ones. However, that does not change the fact that car ownership (particularly the prospect of owning a car) is another independent variable: When cars become accessible to the majority of people in a society, then birth rates fall for the economic reason that both cars and kids are expensive; there is an explicit tradeoff.

There are some books and scores of articles in the discipline of sociology on the social impacts of the automobile. One of the impacts is lowered birth rates. In American society it is typical for a young couple to have two cars before they have one child. Childbirth is delayed by the economic sacrifices made to purchase cars. Postponed births often never happen. You'll find a lot of childless young couples nowadays, but you'll hardly ever find a carless young couple--except perhaps in New York City.

If you think about it for a few minutes, the logic of how and why mass car ownership greatly lowers birth rates probably will become clear. If not, I could dig up some references for you, though all my books are packed away at the moment.

To steal a slashot meme:
Correlation != Causation

And one step more: you can never, ever, prove causation. You can make a very strong case for causation, but we should be careful not to confuse that with proof.

You can't prove causation the way you prove a theorem in geometry. But if you are satisfied with induction as a foundation for causation, then I think Mills' methods are adequate to "prove" causation. By its nature, induction can never be certain the way deduction can be. But of course deduction depends on induction to "prove" the truth of its premises.

I don't know if your reasoning is correct. Frankly if there are a lot of cars around it's hard to manage small children. Kids are always running into roads, dashing across parking lots, running headlong out of shops and into oncoming traffic. And if I lived in a village with access to food and no cars around at all I can imagine that taking care of children is quite stress-free. (I'm not saying I would have more kids in that situation!) Actually a 5 year old can keep an eye on a toddler, freeing up the mother to have more kids.

I think people in developed countries don't have many kids because they want more stuff in general---not just a car, but vacations, lessons, clothes, pets, houses, books. They want to work and get out of the house. Staying home with small children when there is no village for company is quite isolating in my opinion. Many people I know use daycare (we have great public daycare here, licensed and subsidized but rationed) so they can get out and talk to people at a job.

There is a great quote--is it correct, do you think, in Kunstler's column today: "Most Americans have bought their last car, they just don't know it yet".

I think it is correct. Just think about selling your house, or recovering that lost 401 cash... (laughs hysterically)

Gonna put another $30K in the driveway?

Don't think so.

Of course I should have added that I hope the sentence is also true for other countries!! I don't just want Americans to be the lucky ones with the clean air and clear water, riding their horses all over their picturesque landscape, only pausing when they must somehow pick their way across a broken section of an I-95 overpass that fell down, a chunk of cement yards wide with cracks all through it. "Who built this CRAP anyway???" Will be the thought.

I believe that our family has bought its last car. My husband, however, doesn't. I live in a mixed household- one peak oiler (me) and one mainstream cable watching, music downloading, oil burning dude. I'm stocking up on seed and shelf stable food. My husband is promising our 4-year olds their own four-wheelers and buying more farm equipment (and I'm not talking draft horses here).

It is a bit of a balance. My wife has heard me talk about peak oil, and parts of it she gets. The doomerism that runs through this subject really upsets her however, and she prefers to not hear it. One day she was surfing the web and hit Kunstler's site by accident, and found it quite disturbing.

For us, our first phase of preparation is almost done - financial de-leveraging. No debt. No mortgage, no car loan, no credit cards balances. My decision a few years ago was that I didn't want to take on debt to buy things like solar panels or even more efficient HVAC. First eliminate the debt, then save up so I can buy the things that make the most sense and pay cash. For me I guess it was a bit easier in that my wife isn't into buying lots of consumer crap either.

We have bought 3, 86' tercel wagons..and want more for parts..couple of re-built engines.I am just finishing building a 1970 chevy 3/4ton that runs on propane for my "farm' truck.Wife wants a 3-wheel trike[cushman] for getting to mass transit/job/transport.[I will change it to propane when/if we get it.]

You go with the flow.I have never owned a "new" car.Its a waste of money.I have bought a few 3 year old rigs...

Saw a nice little burro rig a while ago.May build one...

Seventy-six percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday disapprove of how President Bush is handling his job.

That's an all-time high in CNN polling and in Gallup polling dating back to World War II.

"No other president's disapproval rating has gone higher than 70 percent. Bush has managed to do that three times so far this year," says CNN polling director Keating Holland. "That means that Bush is now more unpopular than Richard Nixon was when he resigned from office during Watergate with a 66 percent disapproval rating."


Last night on PBS with Bill Moyers interviewing Kevin Phillips. Here's the link.


Here's a not-so-brief part I thought was interesting.

BILL MOYERS: Pat Buchanan said this week the conservative era is over. What do you think about that?

KEVIN PHILLIPS: Well, I think it's over in the sense that supply side and trickle down economics is gone for a while. I think that's fair to say. It's also clear that we have socialism coming in a big way. But it's socialism for the rich. You know, the profits go to finance but the liability of something goes wrong, well, that's the taxpayers. You know, that's the so what you've seen is conservatism in the old sense of free markets was totally trashed by Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson, you know? Not your everyday garden variety Riverside Drive leftists.

So we now have socialism on right center. And I don't see that we come back to the free market stuff for quite a long time. But I would say is the bailout liberal? Is the bailout conservative? Or is it some hybrid? Or do those words not mean anything?

BILL MOYERS: State capitalism.

KEVIN PHILLIPS: Well, the bailout is state capitalism. But opposition to it, some of it's "conservative". Some of it's "progressive". And maybe these people in the end will have more in common than they realize and will start to vote together on some things. That could be an unexpected breakthrough.

BILL MOYERS: Quickly connect the dots of this recent era for us, ballooning debt, sliding home prices, recurrent money supply expansion, growing inflation, peak oil, crumbling dollar, stagnant wages. What do they have in common?

KEVIN PHILLIPS: Well, I think they're all part of something I'm starting to think of as the mega bubble, 25 years of just pumping up the money supply and deregulating and not worrying about the ordinary person but sort of faking him or her out with friendly statistics and feel-good stuff. We are in an age of disappointment. And I don't think that's going to be eradicated easily. I'm not sure it will be at all. And I think all of these things you mentioned point in that direction.

BILL MOYERS: The book is "Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism". Kevin Phillips, thanks for being again on the Journal.

We've really managed to come full circle, haven't we? It's like living in a monarchy--economic power and political power united under an imperial presidency.

"Freedom" is its religion and, just like communism, it couches its religion in the name of "science."

Where is Huey Long when you need him?

Greenpeace stops palm oil shipments from leaving Indonesia

1 hour ago

JAKARTA (AFP) — Environmental group Greenpeace said Monday it had stopped several palm oil shipments from leaving Indonesia and called for an end to forests and peatlands being destroyed to make way for plantations.

The ships were about to leave from Dumai, Indonesia's main oil export port, to Europe.

"Greenpeace activists painted the words 'Forest Crime' and 'Climate Crime' on the hull of three palm oil tankers and a barge full of rainforest timber," Greenpeace Southeast Asia Forest Campaigner Bustar Maitar told AFP.

"The government and businesses should stop the rapid conversion of forests and peatlands into palm oil plantation in order to combat climate change," Maitar said.

A Greenpeace activist was also chained onto the anchor chain of a ship carrying palm oil owned by the Wilmar group to stop it leaving for the Netherlands.

"Deforestation will continue without strong commitment," Maitar said, adding that meeting demand for palm oil was possible without further deforestation.

As gas prices fall, Americans seem to be using relief at the pump as an excuse to drive more. Could a gas tax bring unexpected benefits?

Both Hansen and Gore have called for a tax to force consumption down. Hansen would have a 100% dividend going back to the people while Gore favors tax shifting: reducing the FICA tax for example. It seems to me that a good stiff $300/barrel tax would produce too much revenue for the government to really handle efficiently. If we displace most taxes with that, we end up with a tax structure that will collapse as soon as the oil runs out anyway. Rebating that level of carbon tax, say on an annual basis, puts a big strain on family budgets even if they use less oil than average and stand to gain a little. It could be done, and it might be effective, but it seems to have a problem of scale. Energy is too large a portion of the economy so that a tax could end up being bigger than the government.

But, it is important to discourage investment in expensive-to-produce oil so that we don't end up with economic collapse because we have allowed our energy sources to become expensive in their own right (regardless of the level of taxation). To do this, I think that rationing the existing supply makes the most sense. If we use our Stand-by Gasoline Rationing plan which has a white market in rations, we still see the reward for conservation that the Hansen plan has because people can sell their unused rations. But, we don't see the government becoming dependent on a revenue source that we want to see disapear in short order in any case. People who keep within their rations should see a low fuel price if we ration strongly enough so there is an added economic benefit there as well.


Personally, I like putting in oil and coal taxes, and raising the standard deduction to $100,000. It would make tax filing much easier for most people.

I would raise both slowly, say starting with $0.25/gallon, increase this $0.10 per year, and raising the std. deduction by $2000/year.

This would have to be adjusted if we go into hyper inflation.

That would sure save having to figure out the mortgage interest deduction. But, if we go slow, the price of oil is going to do much more than the tax I think. So really, we want a big effect now to drop the price of oil and then measured continued tax increases to keep ahead of depletion. We've cut oil consumption about 5% with a price increase of about a factor of 3 so we probably want to go to $300/barrel to get close to a 15% reduction in consumption, which might be enough right now to drop the price to $20/barrel. Going slow is too little too late I think.


I am trying to get the conversion factor of human work to a barrel of oil. I recently read that 1 barrel of oil was equal to 12 men working 10 hours days for an entire year. I asked this question to the Energy Bulletin and they suggested i pose the question here. I would appreciate all contributions to the question thank you in advance

You might find this page helpful.

Or this?


Starts with the numbers you mention and then has many comments on the subject.

Bob Shaw, WNC Observer, and others in the Asheville, NC area.

You have my condolences. It would see that the bar has become a bit higher for wishing Tiger Woods would help plow Augusta National (The Masters) into fertile farmland.

$3M for a homesite!?

Tiger Woods' Golf Course


Hello Ptoemmes,

Thxs for the link. I am still hoping that the 'Peak Everything Aware' ESPN reporter who is also a TOD Member gets a chance to interview/question Tiger Woods on his Thermo/Gene stance for the postPeak future prospects for his offspring.

I also hope all TODers have already emailed their postPeak concerns to the PGA website, same with the websites of Tiger Woods & Phil Mickelsen.

IMO, Tiger & NIKE can make much money by selling Nike-brand garden tools, wheelbarrows, etc, as ever more people are priced out of the golfing market. It will be considered the greatest marketing shift of all time, especially if it is kickstarted by Tiger plowing the White House lawn for Obama, then plowing Augusta National.

If this occurs: I suspect the papparazzi photos of Yergin loading a new wheelbarrow with seeds and NPK products at Home Depot will be published shortly thereafter.

Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

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

I noticed the International Petroleum Monthly was out on November 7th (though I got my email from the EIA at 1445 EST on 11/10/08). It shows a slight downward revision of the "new" July 2008 C+C peak as well as a substantial dropoff of preduction in August (more than 1.1 million BPD of C+C and about 1 million BPD of all liquids).

Of course, a portion of the drop is from the US (Hurricane Gustav) at the end of August 2008 with 100% of all gas and oil shut-in. But almost all of the decline is non-OPEC.

Oil prices were already in decline by this time (monthly composite aquisition cost was down to $113.71/bbl from 129.03 for the month of July) though WTI spot prices started August at $125.03/bbl and fell as low as $113.10 during August.

Given the combination of oil prices falling and the decline in production, it looks like the combination spike was a last-ditch/last gasp before the "bubble" suffered a blow out. It just took more (this time) for price to kick into a severe demand destruction cycle. When one graphs the past 20+ years of data, the final run-up and collapse of oil prices really stands out. It looks (remarkably) a bit like the DJIA plot.

I've got my new plots up and posted outside my office. I'll put them online tonight.

From the top.

$34,591 increase in the wealth of Canadians to $243,950 for every man, woman and child, according to the analysis by the Canadian Centre for the Study of Living Standards.

I think they get their stats from Monday Night Football. I wonder if they would allow me to leverage this amount and I could buy a ten acre farm.

Afghan governor: US military killed 14 Afghan security guards

An Afghan provincial governor said Monday that US- led coalition military forces killed 14 security guards working with a road construction company in eastern Afghanistan, while the US military claimed those killed were militants.
President Hamid Karzai condemned the incident and warned that these kinds of incidents in which civilians die would erode public support for the Afghan government and for the presence of international forces in the country.
There has been a series of incidents in which the US-led coalition and NATO-led forces have mistakenly or based on false information attacked Afghan security forces.


There go another fourteen hearts & minds.

More like another 14 family/tribal groups more like it...that region is known for long memories of harms done too...

Don't forget the multiplier effect of family and friends. - Rev. Karl

...and the effect - (though, of course, markedly different, yet real)- on the perpetrators (justified or not) and on the family and friends of same.


Russia has been holding meetings in order to discuss lowering export duties that have reduced exports by 25%.


Hello TODers,

What a damn shame IMO:

Girl of 13 becomes youngest suicide bomber in day of carnage
She could have been made Peak Aware, then she could have spent countless hours promoting Paradigm Shift and ecosystem protection. How many bicycles & wheelbarrows = $USD investment in a suicide bomber jacket?

It just goes to show how little we understand what is going on out there. What is it that gets people into this place?

A "damn shame" isn't even close to the horror of it. There is a point that we're missing, repeatedly it seems.

There is a kind of desperation going on that we can't even fathom. At least, not yet.

We certainly can't grasp what's going on in the bombers' minds, or even imagine the kind of impotent rage that it would take to fuel their actions.

They don't think that they're throwing away their lives - On the contrary, the act significates an otherwise pointless existence. My guess: This 13-year-old lost her husband and/or father to US-backed aggression and had no one left to support her.

Her final act was empowering, if destructive - her only chance to tell the occupiers what she thought. And we still don't get the message.

"Her final act was empowering, if destructive - her only chance to tell the occupiers what she thought. And we still don't get the message."

I think you have said it as well as it can be said. And yet, and yet, we STILL don't get the message.

Yes, as you wrote:

We certainly can't grasp what's going on in the bombers' minds...

I think the main reason for our Western lack of understanding is that the Islamic world view is so different from our Christian oriented belief system. As Raphael Patai pointed out in his book, The Arab Mind, they are simply living out the world view which their religion dictates. In this view, all of their efforts in this life are directed toward their transition to a heavenly life after death. They believe that dying in a jihad will give them a ticket straight to Heaven. As such, they are not "throwing away their lives" as they are not concerned with their part in this life.

Her act was not "empowering, if self destructive". She was earning her ticket to Heaven, no questions asked. This Islamic world view is what makes our fight so difficult. We are actually attacking their religion, their way of life if you will, not just taking over the nation's government. Thus, we continue to find fighters from other lands who are willing to go to Iraq and attack us as "Crusaders". I fear that as long as our government continues to ignore their world view, we simply won't be able to "win" (what ever that means).

E. Swanson

I don't think that's correct. I don't know about this particular instance, but studies of Palestinian suicide bombers show they are not necessarily particularly religious or desperate. Many who survived attempts (the bomb didn't go off, etc.) said afterwards that they didn't believe the religious crap. That wasn't their motivation. The bombers were not all very young or very poor. Often they were well off and well-educated. Some were doctors.

I think if we were in their situation, we would probably behave in the same way. Even the atheists among us.

IMO, suicide bombers are doing the same thing "vigilantes" do here in the US. Like the father who shoots the accused molester of his child, they're fighting back the only way they can, because they don't trust the system to handle it. Religion doesn't really enter into it; people do it even if religion tells them they'll go to hell for it.

Many who survived attempts (the bomb didn't go off, etc.) said afterwards that they didn't believe the religious crap. That wasn't their motivation.

I think most of them were only semi-willing. Someone else decides to use them in this way, and they are in a social situation such that it is just too costly to say no. I've heard from a college who knew a man who was slated to be a Kamikaze, but the war suddenly ended. No way he wanted to do it, but to refuse the order was unthinkable. Of the foreign jihadis who infiltered into Iraq, we probably have the closest approach to the jihad for entry to heaven motivation. But these people were deeply disallusioned to be (mostly) assigned to blow up soft civilian targets.

I think most of them were only semi-willing.

I don't think so. At least in the case of the Palestinians, they have more volunteers than they know what to do with. They have to turn people away.

The Motivation of Suicide Bombers

...Although many of the populations from which these suicide terrorists are drawn might be affected by poverty and desperation, the people that are actually chosen to carry out an attack will be the best and brightest of their population.

Part of this is involved with the fact that there are so many people, unfortunately, willing to make these kinds of sacrifices that the organizations can pick and choose from among a number of different candidates. And so, given the option, they will tend to select those that are more educated. This may make sense: A more educated individual with a university degree is less likely to mess up. They probably will speak a second language and they can more effectively blend into a civilian population. A Palestinian with a university degree in all likelihood speaks Hebrew. An Iraqi with a university degree in all likelihood speaks English.

And the ones that fail are usually upset, not relieved:

MIA BLOOM: Well, when I wrote my book I included in the book a number of interviews with failed bombers. And very often one of the things I found compelling is that they never expressed grief at what they were about to do; they expressed a certain amount of concern for the fact that they had failed.

And so they are very disappointed when they fail. And, in fact, they are not feeling remorse -- oh, I should have never been involved.

It's not religious:

RAY SUAREZ: Professor Pape, as someone who's been studying suicide attackers for a long time, can you say that there's a profile? Is there a set of variables or underlying motivations that many of these bombers hold in common?

ROBERT PAPE: We can. But it's not the profile most people expect. I've studied 462 suicide terrorists from around the world since 1980 who actually completed the mission. Over half are secular. The world leader is the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka: A Marxist group, a secular group, a Hindu group.

What causes suicide bombing is occupation. Not poverty, not Islam. Iraq had no history of suicide bombing until we invaded.

I agree with most of your statement, but many bombers do not attack Americans, so it is hard to say it is "occupation" related only. Most seem to attack other factions, and perhaps some of the lack of system trust is in the police and infrastructure mechanisms put in place by Americans, but perhaps some is due to re-opening of long-standing conflicts between factions, aided and abetted by outside agents.

Under Saddam, you probably didn't see Syrians and Iranians crossing the border to foster attacks, as the gov'ts wouldn't support it. All deaths -- American, Sunni, Shiite, whoever -- in Iraq are laid at the Americans' feet politically, so the incentive to keep people dying is large for many other regimes.

If we were occupied I probably wouldn't shoot many Yankees or Coasties, tempting though it might be. I wouldn't do suicide bombs either. I'd do IEDs, sniper shots, and patrol ambushes. All of those we see against us in Iraq too, but it doesn't explain (to me, at least) the civilian bombings. Only politics explains that.

I think the reason we don't see Americans targeted as often is simply because it's too difficult. We did get attacked at first, but now the troops have wised up, and they have the means to protect themselves from suicide bombers. So the bombers are going for softer targets.

I wouldn't do suicide bombs either. I'd do IEDs, sniper shots, and patrol ambushes. All of those we see against us in Iraq too, but it doesn't explain (to me, at least) the civilian bombings. Only politics explains that.

No, tactics explains that. The Palestinians used those methods...until the Israelis came up with counter-measures. The targeting of civilians, and reliance on human bombs, is a reaction to the hardening of military targets and increased vigilance against unmanned bombs. (Israeli cities have trash everywhere, because trash cans have been removed. Too easy to hide a bomb in them.)

Suicide bombing is a desperation tactic by forces without resources to conduct homicide bombing, which is a far more efficient means of killing civilians.

Near the end of WWII, America killed hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians with homicide bombs - mostly firebombs meant to incinerate Japan's wooden buildings. American casualties were quite low because Japan's air defenses had long been destroyed.

Kamikaze suicide bomb missions had near 100% casualties, and resulted in a total of a few thousand American military casualties.

Homicide bombing is the tactic currently used by America in its wars against Syria and Pakistan. Since robot airplanes are used for these missions, roughly zero Americans are killed in each sortie, which results in about 50 civilian deaths.

The suicide bombers who fight back have near 100% casualties, and seem also to kill about 50 civilians in each strike.

I doubt the girl had any "statement" to make beyond an obvious "life sucks". While there is chance she did not value her life, it is more likely that she was forced or duped by some cowardly adult who valued his life more than hers, at least that's been the case with some of the other children and women bombs. The Down's Syndrome young woman was one that really got me.

Note that rarely do the bombers kill American soldiers. This one, like most, appears to be inter-factional terrorism.

I'd go along with most of that.
By the same token about inter-factional terrorism, it should be noted that whether it was the American troop surge which was primarily responsible for the reduction in violence is doubtful.
It is just that by that time ethnic cleansing had done it's job, and most people had moved from mixed neighbourhoods, and also that the locals had got fed up with the brutality of Al-Queda.

the powers that be are very good at supplying a narrative to events, but it is often pure spin.

China's once fast growing economy, starts to sputter. Car sales up little more than 3% YOY compared to 22 percent annual growth in 2007.


India's car sales are an indication of a fast spreading global recession:


Russian car dealer crushed by debt, needs to refi:


Lower car sales, less driving = lower oil demand. Whether a peak or a trough in global production, the oil industry is in for hard times.

Flat Chinese, Indian and Russian auto sales imply quickly growing oil demand.

Why ?

Because none have sold cars in large volumes (2006/2007 levels) for long enough to start scrapping many (accidents will always take a few % each year).

SWAG, China bought 5 million cars last year, it buys 5 million this year. But it scrapped less than 1 million/yr in both years, so total vehicles on the road grew by 4+ million each year.

4+ million additional cars > More oil demand.

Not much hope,


We've been hearing a lot of grinding and cracking as the pressure goes up. We've had one righteous *pop* in the form of Iceland's crash and there are a whole lot more of those pending. Pakistan is the one that worries me ... it's the sum of all fears - nuclear armed, internally fragmented, nuclear armed opponent, water stress and water dispute, load shedding affecting key industries, and 450 times the population of Iceland.

"...the oil industry is in for hard times."

well, that may be, but the hard times i recall were 1994 and 1998 with oil in the $ 10 range, ng in the $1 - $2 range.

prices declining but so are costs, these are the best of times, the worst of times.


Shhhhhh....kept quiet.

For those wishing to help us po' folks in the oil patch please send your donations directly to PoorOleRockman.com

One of our nuclear bombs is missing.

Maybe we'll find it when Greenland melts...

No worries!

The view was that...the radioactive material would dissolve in such a large body of water, making it harmless.

Given that we've vaporized tens of thousands of times more material that is far more radiotoxic far closer to major population centers during the days of atmospheric nuclear testing, I'd worry about something else.

In case I'm not the only person to ever find this confusing...

Jay Hanson and James Hansen both write very interesting pieces wrt. the current situation. They are also two different people.