DrumBeat: November 15, 2008

Why the Energy Crisis Will Oulast the Credit Crisis

The long-term ripple effects of high oil prices could be far more serious than the $4-gallon prices that confronted American drivers last summer. As oil resources shift increasingly into government hands, there is less certainty that oil officials in various countries will reinvest the trillions of dollars needed to explore and develop new fields, and keep the world's oil flowing. "The immediate risk to supply is not one of global resources but rather a lack of investment where it is needed," says the IEA report. A fair portion of the world's proven oil reserves lie in countries with crippling poverty and deep social problems, including African countries such as Equatorial Guinea and Angola; Africa exports virtually all its oil and gas, and about three-quarters of African homes have no electricity. Such countries, warns the IEA, "lack the technology and skilled personnel to do much more than simply maintain existing producing assets."

Raise the Gas Tax

Energy independence won't happen if falling gas prices lead to a resumption of bad habits.

Reports on depletion of Saudi oil field denied

As per the ‘audit report Ghawar produced 5.1 million bpd of crude oil in 2007, down from a peak of 5.5 million bpd in 1980 (when the field’s capacity was fully utilised in response to the loss of Iranian production following the revolution), and a recent peak of 5.3 million bpd in 1997. The observed post peak decline rate is thus a mere 0.3% per year.

Ghawar is still at the plateau phase of production, the report underlined; taking steam out of the peak oil bogey.

Wind farm in doubt after backer quits

One of the UK's largest wind farm projects is in doubt after the credit crunch has forced a backer to pull out.

Statoil, the Norwegian oil giant, is now looking for a new joint venture partner to help develop the £700m offshore wind project off the Norfolk coast. If built, the 108 turbines would provide enough electricity for the homes of a city the size of Cambridge.

Green Is for Sissies

SIX years of relentlessly rising prices have showered the oil industry with record profits even as whipsawing energy costs have left many Americans alternately furious and baffled.

Now that the roller coaster ride appears to be screeching to a halt, one corporate giant remains confident it can weather the slowdown and uncertainty better than its rivals.

“It’s not that we like lower prices, but our competitive advantage is more obvious to people in a low-price environment,” says Rex W. Tillerson, the chairman and chief executive of Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest, mightiest oil company. “But in a high-price environment, our competitive advantage has been quite evident as well.”

Saudi King Pledges Global `Stability' in Oil Markets at G-20

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia will help alleviate global financial stress by maintaining stable oil markets and boost its own economy by funding infrastructure projects, King Abdullah said in Washington.

``We will continue to fulfill our role in ensuring the stability of the oil market,'' Abdullah said today in a statement after a five-hour summit with the Group of 20 leaders. ``We will continue the program for government investment in spending on basic projects and services.''

Abdullah said he expects infrastructure spending ``for the government and oil sectors to exceed $400 billion over the next five years.''

Shias call for Basra to be mini-state

BAGHDAD: Two Shia lawmakers yesterday called for a referendum on turning the oil-rich province of Basra in southern Iraq into a mini-state.

The push signals a renewed effort by Shas to grant regions self-rule in what would be a federalist system of government.

Big railroad: Fewer shipments, fewer workers

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- Union Pacific Corp., the nation's largest freight railroad, has laid off or reduced hours for 1,500 engineers and conductors since 2007 because of the struggling economy.

The Global Financial Crisis Batters Chávez

While Chávez built his "Socialism for the 21st Century" on a foundation of crowd-pleasing gestures, he scrimped on traditional investments—the ones that pay economic returns. So traffic crawls on Caracas' crumbling highways. An overtaxed power grid has led to three nationwide blackouts this year. Businesses, fearful of revolutionary taxes and confiscation, have trimmed investments to the bare essentials. And while the government says oil production tops 3 million barrels per day, industry sources think it's fallen to a mere 2.4 million barrels, down by a quarter from 1999.

As long as the price of oil rose, none of this bad news held back Chávez or his revolutionary ambitions. He was flush. As it turns out, it took the Wall Street collapse and the specter of the worst global recession in decades to drag down the oil market and hit Venezuela where it hurt.

Venezuela's Real Oil Revenue Could Fall to under $30 Billion in 2009

In the wake of the Venezuelan oil basket dropping to US$ 46.35 per barrel this week, Miguel Octavio, Executive Director of Venezuela's leading investment bank BBO, tries to see through the smoke and mirrors and take us through the real numbers.

Higher lows

Well, the bust has arrived much sooner than I anticipated. So, now seems like a good time to evaluate. To be sure, commodities--which have already taken one of the worst drubbings ever--may have further to fall. But the glee with which their fall has been greeted may be obscuring what current prices are telling us.

Food pantries facing increasing demand

ROCKLAND, Maine — The demands on operators of food pantries and soup kitchens in the state are increasing, causing concerns that there may not be enough food or that the hungry won’t have the fuel to get to the food.

...“In the 1930s, people could walk from their homes to the food kitchens,” he said. “Now we have people living in the woods 10 miles out who can’t get to the food.

American-built Prius may be on hold

If reports coming out of Japan are true, it may take longer than expected before you can buy a Toyota Prius with "Made in USA" stamped on it.

The Japanese business paper Nikkei reported that Toyota has decided to delay the start of Prius production in Mississippi from 2010 to 2011 at the earliest. The move was being made to save money at a time when Toyota, like other automakers, is suffering through a wrenching sales slump.

Low Oil Prices, Credit Woes Could Spell Trouble for UK North Sea

The combination of falling oil prices and the credit crunch spells trouble for oil and gas production in the U.K. North Sea, said senior industry figures.

The U.K. has been counting on steadily rising oil prices to make new projects in the heavily depleted basin profitable and is depending on a legion of small independent oil and gas companies to develop many of the remaining fields as major companies focus their efforts elsewhere.

However, the price of North Sea benchmark Brent crude has fallen by more than half since July to $56.24 a barrel Thursday and the profitability of many new fields is looking doubtful. At the same time, many of the smaller companies that could have developed them are struggling to keep their heads above water.

How low can oil go?

"We were talking about what's happening in energy and this broker, a fairly young guy with no oil and gas experience, says oil is going to $10 (U.S.) a barrel," recalls Ruus, who manages the Northern Rivers Global Energy Fund.

He couldn't believe such an extreme view. "It just underlined to me the panic going on in this market. It's just totally unrealistic. Canada would shut down as an oil producer at those prices."

Mexico's Pemex remains upbeat

Pemex previously thought the aging Cantarell field would decline by around 15 percent a year, allowing it to pump 600,000 bpd in 2012, but this year's more than 300,000 bpd fall in production has forced it to revise its view.

"The gas (in the field) is advancing. When it arrives at the wells, we have to shut them down and we cannot replace them quickly enough," said Morales, but he said new oil laws should help Pemex ramp up output elsewhere.

"With the reform we think we can get...to 3 million bpd toward the end of this government," he said.

Caspian energy powers split at anti-Russian summit

BAKU (Reuters) - Caspian Sea energy nations showed this week they remain close to Moscow's sphere of influence as some key producers declined to sign a declaration calling for a limit on Russian monopoly over export routes to the West.

The race begins for tide power bonanza

THE race to develop Scotland's seas into the "Saudi Arabia of marine power" is about to start, with plans for 500 underwater turbines in the Pentland Firth.

The Scotsman can reveal that an Australian company is already preparing a serious bid for the huge tidal farm that it says will power one million homes.

Australia: Thousands march to stop climate warming

Thousands have taken part in marches around Australia calling for action to stop climate warming.

Europe, Japan Face $46 Billion Global-Warming Penalty

(Bloomberg) -- Twenty nations including Japan, Italy and Australia may be releasing more greenhouse-gas pollution than they agreed to under the Kyoto treaty to curb global warming.

No Nintendo game this Xmas? Blame Somali pirates

LONDON (Reuters) - Alarmed at the growing number of attacks off Somalia, international merchant shipping is edging closer to doing the unthinkable in peace time: by-passing one of world's most vital trade routes.

Somali pirates have been plundering ships off the Horn of Africa for years, but the recent surge in attacks has spilled out into the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, threatening access to the Suez Canal.

Now big firms employed in moving everything from oil, gas and coal to toys, are urgently considering whether to travel round South Africa's Cape of Good Hope instead.

Crude continues decline despite signals from OPEC

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Oil prices slumped Friday, despite signals from OPEC that it may slash production again, with the markets instead focused on the most recent reports showing drastic cutbacks in spending and consumption by businesses and consumers.

Gasoline prices again fell overnight, prompting one analyst to note a "half price holiday sale on gas" with Americans fueling up for the Thanksgiving holiday at half the price they did in July.

Iran wants OPEC to cut output

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran wants OPEC to cut oil output by a further 1 to 1.5 million barrels per day when it meets in Cairo later this month, the Islamic Republic's representative to the cartel was quoted on Saturday as saying.

OPEC countries are calling for action to halt oil's slide as they face reduced revenues and a struggle to finance domestic projects. Oil prices have tumbled more than 60 percent from a record level of $147 per barrel in July.

Iran switches reserves to gold - report

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran has converted financial reserves into gold to avoid future problems, an adviser to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in comments published on Saturday, after the price of oil fell more than 60 percent from a peak in July.

Iran, the world's fourth-largest oil producer, is under U.N. and U.S. sanctions over its disputed nuclear programme and is now also facing declining revenue from its oil exports after crude prices tumbled.

The New Oil Paradigm No One Is Talking About

Offshore production is increasing, and the industry may soon be asked to reconsider its basic assumptions about oil. Over the past few decades, a number of industry experts and geologists have conducted research suggesting that the origin of hydrocarbons may be abiogenic, not organic. Stated simply, the abiogenic oil theory posits that oil is not formed from plants and animals compressed for millions of years in sediment rock. Instead, oil is a primordial substance created before the formation of Earth, and found deep underground.

IEA: WEO 2008 - Comments on the Oil Field Decline Analysis

EnergyComment, the new German expert site for oil markets and oil politics, comments on the oil field analysis, the centerpiece of the oil-related results of the WEO 2008.

Iran: OPEC members need oil price of $70-100

TEHRAN (Reuters) - OPEC members need an oil price of at least $70-100 per barrel to continue with their energy projects, Iran's OPEC governor told state television on Saturday.

"A price of between $70 to $100 is what (OPEC) members are interested to have in order to be able to continue with their daily and investment activities. They need this price," Mohammad Ali Khatibi said in an interview broadcast live.

Another Bum Signal

As our old pal Tom Petrie out in Denver puts it, the era of what he calls "Practical Peak Oil" has been delayed by the global recession. But it still looms in the not-too-distant future and promises -- or threatens -- to furnish a powerful lift to prices.

Deflation Hoax

A couple of days ago, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released its World Energy Outlook report. According to the IEA, our existing oil fields are depleting by a shocking 6.7% per annum and we would need to find an additional 60 million barrels per day of new oil supply in 20 years to meet global demand. Now, it is worth noting that it has taken our world roughly 100 years to produce 86 million barrels of oil per day and this includes crude oil, natural gas liquids, hydrocarbon processing gains and bio-fuels. So, it is highly unlikely if not impossible that we will be able to find new supply of 60 million barrels per day in 20 years time! Given the harsh realities of Peak Oil, I find it absurd that the price of oil has declined by roughly 60% in the past 4 months. In any event, I don't expect this correction in energy to last forever so this may be the final chance you'll get to load up on quality energy stocks which are being given away at today's prices.

Nigeria oil pipeline sabotaged in delta

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria (Reuters) - A Nigerian crude oil pipeline operated by U.S. major Chevron was sabotaged in the Niger Delta, but it was not yet clear whether production was affected, a military spokesman said on Saturday.

NASA, Spaceport against offshore drilling plans

WALLOPS ISLAND — When some rockets are launched from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility, the used motors are dropped from the spacecraft and fall harmlessly into the Atlantic Ocean.

If the federal government goes through with its plan to sell oil and natural gas drilling rights off the Virginia coast, officials would have to coordinate those launches with the placements of large drilling rigs off the coast.

UK: Adapting for life in an oil-free future

ADAPTING to life without oil is the central concept of a project designed to transform the way Malvern works forever.

Transition Malvern Hills follows in the footsteps of other successful initiatives throughout the UK by attempting to cause a shift in people’s attitudes and actions.

Local Governments Can Lead the Way, Even on Transportation

With recent volatility of oil and energy prices adding to our country's economic woes, we're seeing a renewed focus on community energy planning. Energy planning is often relegated to state and federal policymakers, sometimes to the detriment of communities. Our organization, the Community Environmental Council, has a broad perspective on the pros and cons of the various levels of policymaking because we work on state as well as local energy policy in California.

Schwarzenegger orders climate change strategy

Sacramento, CA (AP) - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday ordered state agencies to begin preparing for the projected impacts of global warming on California's economy, people and natural resources.

The executive order calls on state officials to develop a "comprehensive climate adaption strategy" to cope with rising sea levels, higher temperatures, increased flooding, changing precipitation patterns and more extreme weather events.

New global warming law won't happen soon

WASHINGTON - Congress will not act until 2010 on a bill to limit the heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming despite President-elect Barack Obama's declaration that he will move quickly to address climate change, the chairman of the Senate Energy Committee predicted Wednesday.

Nepal's Himalayan glaciers at risk due to global warming

Kathmandu - The rise in global temperatures and climate change caused by greenhouse gases are posing risks for Nepal's Himalayan glaciers and glacial lakes, official media reported Wednesday. Global warming has affected northern Nepal considerably, causing the melting of glaciers, the state-owned Gorkhapatra newspaper said, quoting government officials.

"Global warming is causing the existing glacial lakes in Nepal's Himalayan range to expand and the possibility of them bursting," the newspaper quoted Purusottam Ghimire, joint secretary at the Ministry of Science and Technology, as saying.

Updating the Science of Global Warming

When the world's governments gather in December 2009 in Copenhagen to negotiate a treaty to restrain global greenhouse gas emissions, the science on which they base their decision could be as much as four years out of date. The United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) offered its synthesis of existing research in February 2007 and it was based on studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals only through 2005.

i suspect that we have seen the peak. we will probably fool around for a few years before it is acknowledged tho.

ELM in action. What is Venezuela's Domestic Gasoline Consumption subtracted from production?

In 2002, there were approximately 2.6 million vehicles in Venezuela. This has increased to 4.07 million vehicles as of Sept. 2008, a 56.7% increase. In 2002, PDVSA stated consumption was at 510,000 bpd, which would suggest that assuming no attrition in the fleet, current consumption would be 795,000 bpd.

So maybe "traffic crawls on Caracas' crumbling highways" because there are 57% more cars over a six year period. Infrastructure does not respond on the same timescale as consumer goods. The article "The Global Financial Crisis Batters Chávez" is nothing but the usual wishful thinking drivel. Chavez has been investing in his electorate and not multinational parasites. Now more cars on city streets is evidence of poverty in the 1984 media.

"Mr. Chavez, who has been spending Venezuela's oil windfall on a variety of conventional weapons, has bought more than $4.4 billion in Russian arms in the past five years and plans to add to this arsenal by purchasing $2 billion more."

Washington Times,Tuesday, July 22, 2008


" CARACAS, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Coffee has disappeared from many Venezuelan supermarkets, highlighting economic problems ahead of local and regional elections in which politicians allied with President Hugo Chavez may lose key posts.

Venezuelans go to the polls on Nov. 23 to elect state governors and city mayors in a test of support for leftist Chavez a year after he lost his first national vote since winning power in 1998.

Venezuela last year struggled with widespread shortages of staples such as milk and beef, which pollsters say contributed to Chavez's defeat in a December referendum that would have let him stay in office as long as he kept winning elections.

The government largely eliminated shortages earlier this year. But in recent weeks, shoppers have been unable to find coffee in stores, though cafes still serve it and street vendors are selling it at about twice the regulated price."

Lets add sugar & rice to the hard to find list. Some investment.

If you want to see what an "investment in electorate" can do look to Chile. Now the wealthiest country in South America,(Highest standard of living.) the fewest poor and check out how they did it.

The Rev. Moon Unification Church/cult newspaper is not a reliable source of information about Venezuela.


I suppose New Zealand is in on your evil wicked Moonie Coffee Conspiracy too.

I think there's an old, hackneyed lesson in the story that Americans have forgotten over the last few decades, and need to re-learn sooner rather than later: There Really Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. Dismissing that point with a snooty sneer will not make it go away.

One way shiftless people attempt to consume more than they produce, or attempt to consume at someone else's expense, is to enact price controls. Sometimes those controls are merely symbolic, but when they are strong enough to have an effect, that effect is almost invariably shortages. This is not exactly news, and has no specific connection to Moonies. Indeed, it was demonstrated in the US southeast not too long ago. But how fast we forget when we're wallowing in entitlement-mindedness.

Oh, and contrary to the views of both Chávez and the two major US political parties, people cannot consume more than they produce, or get lots of stuff for free, except for a short time. That time may have run out in both countries - we shall see. But so far, free houses and transportation to and from them in the USA; and free coffee, fuel, and consumer goods in Venezuela - neither seems to be working out scintillatingly well. Nor did the general concept work out overly well in the former Soviet Union. I guess things are tough all over.

Notice the byline says REUTERS?

It is not the habit of the Washington Times to mis-attribute wire stories to the wrong agency. And Reuters is not in the disinfo business.

Yeah, right. Like its "impartial" coverage of Saakashvili's attack on Ossetian civilians with indiscriminate barrages of artillery and MLRS. I remember Reuters bleating incessantly about how 90% of Kosovo was Albanian so the KLA was right in fighting for Kosovo secession. In fact, Albanians were 76% of the population and got over 90% by driving out 240,000 people from the province under KFOR's nose. If illegal migration and low intensity ethnic cleansing under Tito's dictatorship establish the legitimacy of Kosovo's independence, then Reuters hypocrites should shut up about South Ossetia. Unlike Kosovo, where Albanians were 30% of the population before WWII, South Ossetians did not squat on Georgian land and have a clear majority. It was the Soviet regime that split their country as gifts to Georgia and Russia. But the bloody ethnic conflict since the 1917 revolution has been confined to the part adjoined to Georgia.

You're right. Measured by per-capita GDP, Chile is the richest country in South America:

The following countries have rejected neoliberalism:

               IMF         WB        CIA  
Argentina     13,318     13,244     13,100 
Brazil         9,703      9,570      9,500 
Chile         13,921     13,885     14,300 
Uruguay       11,674     11,236     10,800 
Venezuela     12,176     12,168     12,800 

Colombia is the only country in South America that still
abides by the Washington Consensus:

Colombia       7,968      6,958      7,400 


Chile has had a leftist government for the last 19 years:

A former torture victim of General Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship, Michelle Bachelet, was elected the first woman president of Chile last night after her rival, Sebastián Piñera, a billionaire, conceded when exit polls showed her taking 53% of the vote in early returns.
Ms Bachelet, a paediatrician, is the fourth consecutive president for the ruling Concertación, a centre-left coalition that has governed for 16 years, since the end of the Pinochet dictatorship in 1990.

As the final votes were counted, tens of thousands of Chileans flocked to the centre of Santiago, dancing and chanting "Michelle, Michelle, Michelle". Samba bands thumped and caravans of cars blew their horns in spontaneous celebration.

The election of Ms Bachelet, a Socialist and long-time human rights activist, is the latest in a string of victories for leftwing presidential candidates in South America, after the December victory of Evo Morales in Bolivia.


$6.4 billion going to Russia and not the US for weapons explains the sour grapes whining.

The Venezuelan budget for 2007 was $68.2 billion according to the CIA factbook. Spending on Russian weapons has been averaging LESS than $1 billion per year, that is under 1.4%. The total defense spending is under 3% of the GDP. According to the Venezuelan government, social spending in 2007 was 41% of the budget. Get another propaganda leaflet.

Gordon Brown risks run on the pound, says George Osborne

Britain is heading for a “collapse of sterling” if Gordon Brown persists with trying to borrow his way out of trouble, George Osborne says in an interview with The Times today.

Gee, maybe vacationing in the UK will be affordable again...

May not be as much fun as it used to be tho.

Very interesting talk with John Gray author of Straw Dogs;


"Celebrated philosopher and critic John Gray is one of Britain's great thinkers. His books include Straw Dogs, Al-Qaeda and What It Means To Be Modern, and Heresies.

His new book is Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia, a powerful and frightening argument about how apocalyptic religion has returned as a major force in global conflict. He speaks with Alan Saunders - Sydney Writers' Festival"

Fascinating and thought provoking interview.

Thanks for the link.

I wholeheartly recommend reading Straw Dogs, Gray talks about peak oil and mankind's hubris from a very dark and gloomy perspective. I attended one of his talks here in Barcelona, and in person he is surprisingly less harsh than in writing, and he seemed to concede that at the end, technology could be used once again for humankind's redemption, that was in the Q&A, but I had the impression he just tried to end in a positive tone.


I've read 'Straw Dogs' and although I share most of Gray's views I find his works to be like the curate's proverbial egg -- good in parts. For example, his attacks on science and the scientific method are, to put it mildly, controversial.

Raymond Tallis on JG:

Ironically, science, the central tool of the enlightenment, is often invoked is support of pessimism. The combination of Darwinism and neuroscience is supposed to show us that our brains are hard-wired into the environment and, though we are unaware of it, our entire existence is devoted to ensuring replication of our genetic material. Homo sapiens is not wise but rapacious – Homo rapiens according to John Gray whose vicious but shallow attacks on the Enlightenment in particular and humanity in general have won him much celebrity and huge royalties. Human achievements to date are dismissed or are denigrated: the progress for the vast majority is overlooked and the still unalleviated suffering of the remainder focussed on. Where material progress is not denied as illusory or paltry, it is seen as spiritually damaging even to its beneficiaries: civilisation is intrinsically pathological.

And so on; and so bloody on.


in person he is surprisingly less harsh than in writing, and he seemed to concede that at the end, technology could be used once again for humankind's redemption, that was in the Q&A, but I had the impression he just tried to end in a positive tone.

This is called politics. I am sure if he wrote his books under a pen name they would have even been gloomier..

If you get the chance, read Straw Dogs - I can't recommend it highly enough.

I'd like to publicly apologise to Our Beloved Leader, Gordon Brown, and I really think that Eaun should hang his head in shame.

We totally erroneously concluded that there is a high chance of power cuts this winter, merely because on past demand projections supply is totally inadequate and if one power plant went down we would be in trouble.

We should have had more faith!

As part of the master-plan, it is now clear that factory lay-offs and closures are so big that perfectly adequate margins will exist. It is difficult to overstate how very clever this is, as it takes a real genius to take such direct action.
Of course, it might prove difficult with industry shut down and the pound on a death-spiral to pay for our energy inputs, but hey, lets look on the bright side and stop whining for once.

When all those dreadful pensioners can't afford to heat their houses, that should go a long way towards closing the budget deficit, as we can save on all those pensions, and on top of that they have an annoying habit of getting ill, so the savings on the health service should be huge - as a down payment on this process, it looks as though someone 'forgot' to order enough drugs for this winter, so that might give a useful first instalment of death.

It should be noted that many of them vote Conservative anyway, so the more that can be bumped off before 2010 the better Labour's electoral prospects.

Three cheers for our Gordie, whilst we still have the energy to do so!

LOLROFL ! Most amusing and clever. I hope we can all keep a sense of humor in the future.

Sadly, I am just re-stating the information in the newspapers.
It has become clear in the last couple of weeks that power cuts this winter now look unlikely, for precisely the reasons I gave- factories are being closed already for the Christmas period.
The shortage of medicines is also real, as are the chances of hypothermia when the poorest pay the highest power rates, as they are on key meters which cost much more than direct debit arrangements.

You seem to have some odd ways of paying for things in the UK. I've never heard of such a thing here in the USA, so if it exists anywhere at all, it's way down below the radar in some state I've never visited. Since some of the subtleties are not revealed by quick web searches, what are the practical up-sides and down-sides? Why would anyone go onto such a meter if the rates are higher?

Landlords install them so that they do not get stuck for the bill if the tenants default.
Poor people who have not got bank accounts have to have them.
Energy companies can't just cut people off, at any rate when they have small children, so if the customer gets into debt they switch to a meter, putting it at an even higher rate than it's normal extortionate charge until the debt is recovered.

Power companies love them , as they make even more profit than on normal companies, in addition to recouping the higher running costs - they made around £550 million on them last year.

It should be pointed out that in any case if you are a low user, you are charged at a far higher rate than heavy users - unfortunate for those who either can't afford much energy or have made investments to reduce their demand, but hey, that is the beauty of the free market.

Some charges rose by up to 70% recently.

Wouldn't you think that the more you use the more you pay per unit of energy is the sensible way to go? - surely that's the whole point of the regulators like OFGEM.

So, it looks like there isn't any real control of the market in the UK - deliberately so IMO, all political parties want growth, the people will vote for nothing else, you get what you vote for - garbage in, garbage out, the rich get richer the poor get poorer.

The words 'humans', 'yeast' and 'smarter' come to mind.

And here's another oddity: Plan to ban refunds on faulty goods. It seems as though every time someone tries to persuade me that people on your more-'socialistic' side of the pond are oh-so-well-"protected", yet another weirdness turns up that complicates that simplistic picture...


I want to thank you for the links to the two essays by John Michael Greer yesterday.

Surprisingly, I had never read any of his material before, but those two were real jewels.

Glad you liked them. Greer is probably the peak oil writer whose views are closest to my own (though I don't agree with him about everything). He's best known for this article:

How Civilizations Fall: A Theory of Catabolic Collapse

Among other things, it argues that a slow collapse might actually be the most doomerish scenario of all.

Wanna read up on old folk's memories of The Great Depression?

The Wall Street Journal is a good place to start these days!!

Memories of the Depression Still Sear

James Dickinson, 87, is Mr. Hague's friend and neighbor at the James Lenox House. Mr. Dickinson once worked on Wall Street, and for him the recent stream of economic calamities has been like watching a "horror movie," he says. "The horror is the people being pushed into unemployment," he says. "Bank managers, mutual-fund managers, hedge-fund operators, technical support people -- the horror is there are no jobs for these people."

[sarcasm]oh what horror, so they won't be able to afford their top of the line bentlys and bmw's. they won't be able to go to $1,000+ restaurants while some people have to scrape by with highly processed junk food. they won't be able to afford their private jets. how horrorable that they, now have to face the real world like everyone else[/sarcasm]

I for one DO NOT feel sorry for them considering they could give a rat's rear about anyone else while times were good. if they showed up on my door, they will either be shown the tip of my boot or the tip of my sword depending on how graciously they accept rejection.

His comments may not be as crazy as they sound. I have worked on Wall Street, and at least 80% of the people there are low wage worker bees just trying to get by. Just like when Enron fell, most of the people put out of work didn't have the slightest clue what energy futures trading was. They were just people with jobs. I found the same to be true on Wall Street.

Yep - the lowly paid workers will get shafted on Wall St, too. Who do you think will benefit from the 100s of millions in bonuses that will be paid out from the bailout money? Not Joe Average employee. Even if the highly paid execs lose their jobs, they'll be getting some nice golden handshakes... no need to feel sorry for them.

Financial crisis brings good times to an end

THE children of the economic boom, generation Y, are about to get a reality wake-up call.

...Demographer Bernard Salt said an economic downturn will prove a turning point for those aged between 15 and 30 as fewer job options in a contracting economy force them to make compromises for the first time.

After generation Y, I suppose, comes generation Z. After that .....?

generation A, of course. there's a new beginning for every generation. not all will have the privilege of standing on the shoulders of giants

Maybe not much of a generation B though.

ZZZ according to Dr. Suess. That is then followed by VOOOOM which cleans up the mess.

GM goes all out to persuade Washington to rescue it.....

GM Blitzes Washington in Attempt to Win Aid

General Motors Corp., hoping to sway the battle in Washington over an auto-industry bailout, has begun telling federal officials that a bankruptcy filing by the car maker would set off a chain reaction hammering hundreds of suppliers and dealers -- and in turn the company's Detroit rivals.

GM is attempting to set the terms for what looks to be a showdown among the lame-duck U.S. Congress, President Bush and the incoming Obama administration.

On the other side of the pond, different views prevail....

Saving car giants will cause havoc, Gordon Brown warns US

In a veiled warning to the next American President, Gordon Brown described protectionism as the “road to ruin” yesterday as international tensions surfaced at the start of the G20 summit in Washington.

The EU said that it was ready to take action against the US at the World Trade Organisation if aid for the stricken US car industry was judged by the European Commission as illegal under international rules.

The big 3 have been slowly dying for years. There was a famous Economist cover article several years ago that said their eventual demise was certain.

The credit crunch is just the coup de grace for an extremely sick group of companies.

Unless Obama et. al. are very smart, their bailout will simply create zombie companies that can never turn a profit....endless money pits.

Chart of GM since the 60s:

Boom and Doom?

This is just an over-view of where I think we may be heading. I could write for ever, but instead I'll stick to the wood and not the trees.

The bailouts probably won't workd because they are directed at the wrong end of the ecomomy. Trickle-down doesn't work. One needs to direct money directly to the bottom and let it slowly rise upwards. This of course is a direct challenge to prevailing dogma and class domination. It's far more than mere Keynes ever envisaged. That's if one believes it's possible to 'save' Capitalism from itself this time. I'm sceptical about this, sorry.

This is complex and difficult stuff and I'm simplifying for the sake of space and time.

The major economies of the West, the UK and the USA are too big, and are collapsing after the biggest speculative bubble in human history. Debt was created to stimulate or subsidize a capitalist model that was in deep trouble, as people's ability to buy the stuff they were producing was falling. Too much was being produced compared to incomes. So let's 'subsidize' the US consumer ability to spend using massive ammounts of debt, wonderful idea, but what choice did they have?

The UK and US financial economies are simply far too big compared to the real economy, but the profits were so much bigger, so let's just 'produce' money instead of real things!

The debt black hole is too big to control. It will swallow everything in its path. The US economy will probably shrink/collapse by a quarter or even a third in the coming years. This is a catastrophe, but probably inevitable at this stage.

The rest of the world has a problem too. Does one just bow and accept the US and UK demands for infinite credit and risk being dragged down into the debt black hole, or does one say 'no' 'enough' and cut them loose? Dump the dollar and save oneself? Is the US really too big to fall? And can it be allowed to cynically blackmail the rest of the world and demand more and more money, when their is virtually no chance they will ever be able to pay it back? Does the rest of the world call the US bluff or not? Should the creditor nations cut their losses?

This is where Dmitry Orlov's book, Reinventing Collapse, offers a peek at how the future might play out - bad, really bad. I see no light at the end of the tunnel at this point.


I see no light at the end of the tunnel at this point.

You are not at the right tunnel. I see a light. It is electric and attached to an oncomming train, but it is a light.

The US and UK have accumulated debt way beyond what they can ever hope to pay off.

It seems like a radical move by either us or our creditors, however, is unlikely. It's kind of like what we're seeing now with families that have gotten in over their heads--in many cases it behooves both the family and the bank to try to do some sort of a workout.

If we were a developing country and had gotten ourselves into this shape, the IMF or World Bank would impose harsh terms. We'll probably get out a lot lighter, however, or at least the tightening of the screws will be gradual versus the shock treatment that a developing country would receive. We do, after all, have the reserve currency and the world's biggest military.

One also has to remember that these loans were and are "vendor" financing. It's a little circuitous, but in a round about way many, if not most, of the liens and second liens we gave on our houses ultimately wound up in the hands of these foreign creditors. We got oil and consumer goods in exchange.

Now, for obvious reasons, our creditors no longer will accept those liens nor the mortgages they secure in exchange for oil or consumer goods.

But, so far at least, they seem to be willing to loan money guaranteed by the U.S. government.

Cruising the net about the financial crisis I stumbled across this
statement. I pretty much agree with it too.

"Everything since the late 70's,everything, has been a lie.Everything."

I paraphrased it a bit since I didn't recall it exactly.

But too me it rings rather true. The false claims of advertising. The false nonsense from the medical industry. The automakers bullshit. The politicians trash. All of it and every bit was lies. Lies,lies and damn lies.

We apparently are a society that thrives on lies and now? Now comes REALITY. Playing at a theatre in 'your' house.

We just went thru some of those massive lies with the campaigning of the politicos for election/reelection.

We know they lie but we act like we don't.

Tis a pity that it has come down to this.


Is this too a lie?


You should give a listen to the John Gray interview souperman2 linked to above.

He says that there is a Christian "belief in progress" that carries over into our "secular thought patterns". But he says there is no basis in reality for this optimism. And while my mind agrees with Gray, my heart doesn't. I suppose that's due to my father. Even though my dad wasn't a terribly religious man--he hated the church, and was never bashful about saying so--he nevertheless always told me that you have to keep faith. "It's all we have to live by," I remember him saying so very often.

One of the greatest testaments of hope of our time was that articulated by Martin Luther King Jr. He said that the method of nonviolence, which was the centerpiece of his political philosophy, "is based on the conviction that the universe is on the side of justice. It is this deep faith in the future that causes the nonviolent resister to accept suffering without retaliation. He knows that in his struggle for justice he has cosmic companionship. This belief that God is on the side of truth and justice comes down to us from the long tradition of our Christian faith."

But the Bible also seems to give some contradictory messages, such as this one cited by the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr:

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

And what about the philosophies of Giambattista Vico, also a devout Christian? After reading one of your comments yesterday, I felt perhaps it is Vico whom your philosophies are most in tune with:

Vico saw minkind--nations, civilizations, cultures--as going through progressive stages from bestiality to high civilization and then sinking back into barbarism...

Vico thus started the tradition of dividing history not by years alone but also by levels of culture that rise, stay fixed, or fall, or possibly rise and rise. From his studies he derived generalities and issued predictions. His most shocking one was that the second barbarism that engulfs civilization after it has reached its summit is worse than the first. The original barbarians possess rude virtues; the later have none left. He listed the marks of the second and how it came about. Crowded city life produces men who are unbelievers, who regard money as the measure of all things, and who lack moral qualities, particularly modesty, duty to the family, and virile courage. Emancipated from ethics generally, they live by mutual spying and deceit.

Jacques Barzuen, From Dawn to Decadence

The reigning philosophy of Vico's day was that of Descartes, interpreted to give method and logical demonstration authority over all human affairs. Vico argued that man is not all rationality and the other ingredient in his makeup is of equal worth with reasoning; indeed it is of immense importance.

Needless to say Vico's thinking didn't gain much traction in the dawning of the Age of Reason and has been pretty much forgotten. But your comment yesterday did remind me of him.

Yes , thanks I will read the Gray interview.

As to religion.I am spiritual but not 'religious'.

I am more likened unto a transcendentalist if I had to chose.

I believe that God may be different for each person. Or they see him differently.

Of late my spiritually has been on a very low ebb tide. Almost non-existant. I think due to what is coming.

So I tend to 'roll my own' in that regard and argue a lot with my friends who are ardent church goers.

I tell them. "Hey its not what you do in church that matters. Its what you do the rest of the time." They really don't like to hear that.

I have no real problem with Elohim. I have more of a problem with the Man Jesus.

Thanks for the thoughtful reply.


Be a pretty punk movie if everyone alla time wore white hats, in church or out, and I would be a pretty cheezed off god to have to sit through a thing like that, even if it were in technicolour and the girls were stacked;)

Sorry, I don't understand. I'm not seeing any reality anywhere yet. I think we are hearing more lies than ever, no? I mean really big ones now, starting perhaps with Condi's "no one ever thought of flying planes into buildings" to "smoking gun is mushroom cloud" to, well, pick just about any quote from Bernanke or Paulson in the last 24 months. Stakes are ever higher, lies are ever larger. Peak Lies??

"Everything since the late 70's,everything, has been a lie.Everything."

Yes, I saw something like this, too. Anyone know where it was? I think it may have been phrased as "everything since 1980" or since Reagan and Bush.

That is one of the thoughts I had when I first confronted peak oil.

My brother was a punk rocker and I never understood punk rock. But if you consider it was invented just after America's oil peak in 1970... and that they were the ones who said that peace and free love were a sham... it makes a little sense.

Since the 70s, anyone who cares must know that we are in permanent decline. Any message that avoids this is a lie, of sorts.

"Everything since the late 70's,everything, has been a lie.Everything."

It's probably worth taking a moment to contemplate Jimmy Carter at this point. He tried to gently introduce America to the truth and see where it got him.

Yeah, and Ronnie gave us the shining lie. See where that got him (sainthood).

As for 1970 being a turning point, I don't see it. Wasn't everything after 1920 a lie? (i.e. The Great Gatsby).

Wasn't everything after Julius Caesar a lie? Didn't Nero say, I'm a uniter, not a fiddler, read my lips? Didn't Moses say, the Promised Land is thata way (pointing away from Ghawar)? Didn't Eve say, bite this Adam dear, it's good for ya? We didn't start the fire ... Billy Joel.

No..those are other cultures..this is this one.

I was born at the end of the depression. I saw people,mostly , who tried to do the right thing. Yes I know..slavery etc...but still there was a vitality in the USA that couldn't be denied.

I remember lots had hopes. Lots worked hard. Lots were honest.
I remember the goodness of the Boy Scouts back then. Paper drives. Selling peanut brittle for to get some gear.Men who actually spent their time trying to help youngsters. Lots of good things I recall.

We drove cars that satisfied our needs. I myself and many others brought and used VW beetles. For many years and put my kids thru school with them.

We saved. We invested wisely and held it. Women tried to raise honest kids. Fathers too.

The media started in on us. The companies changed to corporations. Honest went south as ads and advertising starting a huge pack of lies just to make money.

The corporation I worked for had as it very first belief and principal this: "Respect for the individual"..the next was "To produce products with excellence and provide the best service we can". I paraphrased the last one.

That was our goals. Many business leaders really were patriotic and tried to do right.

It all changed markedly. I watched it. You can't jerk me around with history and the religious bone. Back to Adam? Give me a break.

I wasn't around then. I was around went it all started downhill and went the yuppies desires for everything overtook morals and doing the right thing.

It was a time. I figure it to be somewhere in the early , very early 80s. Yes I voted for Carter. Remember though that he espousesd his religion as well. Many overlook that in their zeal to bash religion.

I think Nixon really beat it to death. He lied and lied and lied. Clinton told outright lies. Our leaders lied to us.

Everything was then a big lie. You dare not tell someone the truth for you got your ass handed to you as you were fired or dismissed as irrevelant and so on.

Yes there was a time when with some plain honesty we might have seen the future coming and stayed with VWs or their offspring. We could have been sensible about many things but the lies prevailed .I suspect because most everyone was doing it.

And guess what? They still are. They won't quit until they see the blood in the streets and this nation on it's very knees. Then someone will appear to be the biggg truthsayer. Right now Obama is trying for that goal. I think he is a liar.A good one at that.
Well we will see and very shortly.

Even if he is an honest how can he stop the flood thats taking down the damns?

Airdale-too late for truth now, nice to see it once in a while though,
as I said before and again,,lots of lies from the pulpits as wellas the one the Pres stands behind.

To me, what you are describing follows perfectly the timeline of the introduction, rise and 100% saturation of television. It is the perfect vehicle to propagate lies, from the powerful to the powerless. 100 corporations control 80% of advertising and media. People think television, because of PBS or History Channel or whatever, can be educational or non-biased, but they are wrong. It is a mechanism to sell lies and to effectively manipulate enormous numbers of people. That's what's changed since the time you were growing up until now. Read "Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television" by Jerry Mander if this strikes a chord.

TV. I was going to say same thing. TV became an incredibly powerful vehicle for controlling group think, just as George Orwell predicted. Additionally, suburbia and the "nuclear family" worked as a divide and conquer technique. Everyone was isolated to the point where the TV was their only family or friend. Part of the message from TV-mercials was that lying is OK. Everybody does it, so why not you? Airdale is right. We (USA) did become a different nation and a different culture. I think the big change over came with the advent of TV and commercial sponsorship.

Thanks for the pointer to 4arguments

The US and UK have accumulated debt way beyond what they can ever hope to pay off.

The whole world of debt is way beyond what can be paid off. We're going back from credit to cash. Not only personally, but at larger scale. Pay now on the spot. No finance. And that still skips over what I personally suspect is the real underlying cause: the fact that nature never gets paid.

What has to be faced is that a decline in living standards in the US and the West generally is inevitable. Attempts at reindustrializing are futile and disastrous, given peak energy and therefore peak other stuff.

What's not inevitable is mass suffering. All the bailout money should be directed not at trickle down or trickle up either, but at orderly retrenchment and downsizing. This doesn't exclude short term measures like lengthening unemployment, a moratoria on foreclosures and all else that prevents disaster. But the thrust should be in rebuilding, redensifiying small towns, connecting them with agriculture and light industry, making them walkable, bikable, and as self-sufficient in basics as possible. Other appropriate adjustments in suburbs and cities.

Instead, all talk is about reviving consumption, another New Deal, and Obama as a new FDR. Can't possibly work. There's a cruel sense in which the neocons are more realistic: the most sinister of them also recognize that this is impossible, but there solution is to go whole hog on the military route to control what does remain of the underground resources and deal "firmly" with the resulting chaos as the masses sink into poverty.

And of course Obama hasn't altogether renounced that route either, unfortunately, despite the FDR like rhetoric.


I agree with you. A problem for the rest of the world is how can one 'force' the USA to live within its means? Is it even possible? Obviously, at least in my opinion, one can't just give the US an unlimited line of credit and de facto, subsidize the countries consumers, like the Chinese have been doing.

Of course it isn't simple, it's terribly complex. The world, as it's currently configured, needs the US to keep consuming and growing and the US market, but is this rate of consumption really sustainable? I doubt it.

I think the dollar is finished as the world's reserve currancy. There's a good chance the US will opt for massive inflation in an attempt to wipe out its debts, but this is incredibly risky and has enormous downsides built in. This is, in itself, a collosal challenge to the US world dominance and power.

Is the US, in realty, 'bankrupt', the dollar is hugely overvalued and so are treasury bonds, the real economy has been shipped overseas, the car industry is tottering on the brink, the entire financial sector is insolvent, what's left of real value, what still functions?

Apart from American popular culture, I think the only thing left that works is the US military, but for how long? Can one really afford such a great, bloated beast, swallowing probably in excess of 1500 billion dollars a year, when the rest of the economy is shrinking and disappearing? So many really hard and difficult questions and so few answers!

It's like Americans are waking up from a long, long, dream; blinking in the cold light of day, and suddenly realizing they've awoken into a nightmare.

For the last couple days I have been asking people what “Change” they wish Obama to project forward.

No one has an answer. They have not even thought about it. Most just say anything other than Bush is change enough.

In other words no change just a different head.

I am beginning to think that the collective “we” brought on the bush administration and all the deregulation that allowed us to believe we will all soon be rich. Our houses will increase in value forever and we can just extract equity when ever we need to.

By the same token “we” will create the future by the message we project to Obama.

Do we say power down, end empire, create a more equitable world.

Or do we say “make it morning in America again please” we want it all.

The rest of the world is telling us loud and clear that it is time for change.

Paulson's bailout money. which is overseen by Neel Kashkari, the Treasury official in charge of the bail-out, a 35 yr old guy. $700 billion, since when does a 35 yr old man (through life experiences) know how to manage $700 Billion? Seems like he keeps throwing money at places that don't need it. because it's not helping anything. but if the money had gone down to the people or simply payoff everyones credit cards , student loans, car loans etc. eventually the people would turn around and run up their credit as high or higher in a few years.
but then again that would encourage people to never payoff debt, because the treasury would bail them out. mis-management of money is rewarded with a bailout of money from the treasury (as approved by congress to be passed down to generations of taxpayers via tax increases), to allow continued mis-management of money.

oh, wait that just happened didn't it?
AIG, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae.

I don't think these treasury clowns (and I am being nice) really know what they are doing. I am not saying I could do better, but I'd at least be consulting a panel of economists as to what the hell i should do.

is this rocket science? or am i being too naive? I know it's a very complex subject. I am not into finance or macro economics but good gosh. I sincerely think some people in charge are completely out of touch with this real world.

writerman: start your own blog. since you like to write. i think you would have lots of visitors.

Re: GM, yes even their "seconds" have gotten into the act.

GM Collapse at $200 Billion Would Exceed Bailout Tab, Firm Says

GM Collapse at $200 Billion Would Exceed Bailout Tab, Firm Says

By Alex Ortolani and Mike Ramsey

Nov. 15 (Bloomberg) -- General Motors Corp., burning through cash as sales slump, would cost the government as much as $200 billion should the biggest U.S. automaker be forced to liquidate, a forecasting firm estimated.

A GM collapse would mean ``more aid to specific states like Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana, and more money into unemployment and extended benefits,'' Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Global Insight Inc. in Lexington, Massachusetts, said yesterday in an interview.

Behravesh's projection of $100 billion to $200 billion in costs dwarfs the $25 billion industry bailout plan that will be debated in Congress next week to prop up Detroit-based GM, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC. The drain on taxpayers from a rescue or a GM failure is a central issue for U.S. lawmakers.

Some truth to it I suppose, but they are talking liquidation and not re-organization.

If one of the major problems with Chapter 11 is securing finacing during the re-org then why doesn't the government guarantee/provide that funding instead of pouring $25B+ on the current fire?


Fears that thousands of workers will lose their jobs in the British car industry intensified yesterday, after finance companies refused to insure firms supplying two of the world's largest car-makers, Ford and General Motors.
The decision will force hundreds of manufacturers across the country to consider whether they wish to consider taking the risk of supplying parts to the US car giants, who have been hit by a sharp fall in sales.


This is insurance against risk of default by the big 3 American manufacturers, and is the normal system in Europe.
It seems doubtful that they will be able to get supplies for their European factories, which are fundamentally better businesses than that in the States, as they produce more fuel efficient cars.

So, things are even worse than I thought. In any event, I don't see how a bailout of the U.S. part of GM is viable given the wide disparity of total costs of compensation compared to companies producing in the U.S. like Toyota. And that is not even considering the disparity in cost strucuture that will occur when China enters the U.S. market. It is a wonder that GM has lasted as long as it has. In principle, I am not against helping a domestic company but not if recovery is virtually hopeless. A so called bridge loan is just money down the drain.

For starters, the big three should have been pushing for universal, nationalized health care a long time ago. That is another area where there is a tremendous cost disparity.

I'm no expert, but my understanding was that the new contract signed last year with the United Auto Workers was supposed to put the American carmakers on a much more even footing with the other automakers producing in the U.S., like Toyota. Once they are done giving the UAW money in 2010 for them to take over health care, presumably a large savings.

And newly hired workers won't get pensions, they'll get 401k's, for additional savings. And finally new hires will take a pay cut and get paid similar amounts to what the foreign makes are paying their U.S. workers.

The big catch is the "new hires" part. Their current workers will continue getting pensions and hirer pay, I assume. But in theory, the pay would eventually even out down the road when all the current workers have retired. Of course, that could be 40 years from now, but I expect it will be less. The automakers are laying off workers now, so I'd guess it's mostly older workers which had additional seniority that survived the layoffs.

How can they compete with Asian skilled labor at about $2.50 an hour; while the average GM assembly line worker got more than $25.00 an hour?

GM has 45 billion dollars worth of debt, almost half as much as Iceland, and their book value per share is negative 98 dollars, trading for 3 dollars a share.

If the autoworkers and executives were not so greedy they might have had a better chance. If you give GM billions to start, in a time they might be back needing billions more while companies making profits get asked to give more to the losers who learned how to run businesses at a loss and panhandled for govt. handouts. Taking away my taxes to give subsidies to millionaire farmers and overpaid investment banker execs who bet the farm and lost. Increasing corporate taxes to choke business expansions in healthy industries to try to bailout rust belt industry that cannot build enough robots or hire any cheap labor and whose management got overpaid for underperformance of human resources.

Regarding millionaire farmers.

I live amongst farmers. I work off and on for some of them. I am related to many. I own a farm ..or now just a piece of one..since I didn't want to waste my life caretaking a lot of empty fields.

Farmers then. Yes some are millionaires and they got that way by screwing everyone to the wall. Just like their city cousins at Wall Street.

Many farmers own expensive equipment but are in debt way way beyond belief. These are the ones who are going to be in very bad shape in the future.

The rest are those who failed because they didn't cheat like the others or refused to go into massive debt.

The millionaires sucked others blood. They are filth IMO.
They sneer at the rest of us. They deserve what they are going to get shortly.

So its a mixed bag. Good and bad and middle of the road. They will basically do whatever they can to make money. They have 'forgotten the faces of their fathers' , to quote S. King. Their fathers were content to try to live a good life. Not so with most farmers today. They work like slaves and just barely stay afloat. The rest hire workers and treat them like scum and roadtrash.

Just my observations but I could be wrong.

I tried honestly to take care of my land and threw the rowcroppers off it who were farming it on 'shares'. After divorce proceedings I had to sell a lot of it along with just about everything else I had collected , coveted or owned.

So I now live a more simple life and do not run myself ragged doing so. I don't consider myself a farmer anymore. I actually was a man who sold and worked in hay and grassland management.

I now live smack dab in the middle of what was my original farm. I am surrounded by those I sold some to who made me promises they promptly reneged on. They are lying people and stingy at that. I don't like most 'farmers'. I prefer country folk who try to live on the land and not harm it. Very few do I find.

Most farmers who continue to chase the dreams of riches would actually scalp the land to desert. Bulldoze every tree, burn them and bury the rest in the ground. They are greedy and not much different than their cousins at Wall St.

There are a few farmers who I will respect and who take care of the land and manage to make a living ,sometimes a good living on it.

Those I salute. They know who they are. They love the land and the critters on it. They remember the 'face of their fathers'...I suppose.

Airdale-however things are most certainly going to change..they need to in some areas, suburbanites who try to live the 'dream' are not much different IMO and they too will see massive change.

Let GM fail. that company has mis-managed everything about it. I just paid off my truck, and now I gotta pay tax to subsidize them too on top of my truck payment?
Oh hell no. thats complete BS. If they can't make a profit, then tough. It's not the unions fault. it the company's fault. It's managements fault. They should all be fired for even asking for taxpayer money. Let Honda or Toyota or someone else buy them out. Let the chips fall where they may.

If I had time to draw the cartoon right now, it would be Uncle Sam trying to give CPR to a fossilized Dinosaur, as the cliff where the bones were found trembles over the Would-be Saviour.


Fiat 500 ... fuel consumption is 5.1 liters/100km (46 mpg US) in the combined cycle...

2009 Ford Expedition EL ... Fuel Economy Range: 20 mpg Hwy, 14 mpg City

Ford Focus ... 24/35 mpg

This is probably a recession-proof job:

Spam Turns Serious and Hormel Turns Out More

AUSTIN, Minn. — The economy is in tatters and, for millions of people, the future is uncertain. But for some employees at the Hormel Foods Corporation plant here, times have never been better. They are working at a furious pace and piling up all the overtime they want.

There's a guy at PeakOil.com who works in a grocery store, and he reported last summer that sales of fresh food were down, while sales of Spam were up. I guess he was onto something.

Makes great soup.

Split pea

Got a ton.

I've got a lot, too. I confess...I like it. It's a Hawaii thing.

Haven't you even wondered about what goes into making that Spam?

I can guess you would rather not know.

Airdale-read Michael Pollan

I absolutely do know what goes into spam, sausage, hotdog, hash, etc. I have toured processing plants galore.

IMO you can put just about any part of the critter in the mix and I will eat it.

Its the industrial waste that has been deemed "edible" and added to our foods that will kill ya.


Spam saved our troops in the fields during WWII. salty? yes.
shoulder pork and meat! there are many uses of it. but if thats all i got to eat? then OK!

Khrushchev in his auto-biography said that Soviet troops made a variety of obscene jokes about Spam, but it was actually pretty good (especially compared to other field rations) and made a difference in keeping the Red Army in the field.


I use to buy it by the case at samsclub.
Now I can't touch the stuff, to much sodium. Sends my blood pressure threw the roof.

And yes, I do have a pretty good idea what's in it. I grew up eating scrapple.

{sigh} I miss spam.

You're worrying about the sodium levels in SPAM?? The meat in the can is the problem, not the scapegoat sodium.

Oh, puh-leeze. Give it a rest.

Use the spam as the salt in a soup of potato or legume that will dilute (which as we all know is the solution to polution).

bitteroldcoot: just in case you don't keep up with Spam technology ... they offer several varieties now, including a "Lite Spam", which is a lower sodium version.

There's a guy at PeakOil.com who works in a grocery store, and he reported last summer that sales of fresh food were down ....

I reckon that applies in spades to fresh organic food. The middle classes just can't afford it any more.

Organic farming: another promising victim of the upcoming Great Depression?

Or back with a vegence as pesticides and anhydrous ammonia become too expensive and rare. Those with the knowledge of how to farm organically could be among the most successful. There is farming skill involved there-- not just applying input as told by your ag chemical supplier.

We're taking 100 acres out of row crop (corn/soybean) and putting it into pasture for beef, goat, sheep, perhaps draft horses. One of the neighboring farmers drove into our yard the otherday. Sitting in his truck, arm through the rolled down window, sharing a beer with my husband after a fruitless day of hunting (the duck are evaporating-- listen people- ducks are gone), he said "I didn't say anything at the time, but when you told me you were taking that field out of cropping I thought 'what an idiot.' Now- you're starting to look like a genius." (due to corn price going below input price).

So don't be premature in calling for the end of organic....

Hi View,

This is interesting and I'd like to hear more. I hope if Todd gets his "TOD: Campfire" or "TOD: Agriculture" section going that you'll contribute.

Or, perhaps write up a guest article on ag and oil and what you've personally experienced.

OFF-TOPIC to Aniya:

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.

Hello Aniya,

This reply is very, very late so I put it in here.

To tell you the truth, I've not tried to do any big thinking on this. Part of the reason is that others are already, part is because I'm just not a futurist. I see what I see in sort of "real time." That is, when I see certain data, information or commentary, it clicks or it doesn't. It makes an impression or doesn't. My insights rarely come in the form of intentionally deep thinking, but more from intuitive knowing. It is times like this, when asked a question, that I have to stop and try to figure out what it is my subconscious/unconscious mind already knows.

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

This is easy in broad strokes, and has been done by others. Some form of steady-state economy. Put another way, trade of goods and services directly, rather than purchases. "Notes" could still be used, but would have to reflect real assets, and could not be used in any fractional form.

Profit implies an inherent level of greed. I don't think this can be eliminated - certainly not in the short term - but it absolutely can be controlled. There are societies, aboriginal, that live in a steady state mode, but they typically include no sense of individual wealth, community raising of children, birth control and population control through infanticide and expelling the weak/disabled/unable. This is just an example.

Another is the Jamestown colony, I believe it was, where one worked or one didn't eat. There are many ways to skin a cat, no?

One reason I support relocalization is to allow for non-monetary economic systems. These are much easier in smaller groups, I would assume. Also, social welfare is much better handled by friends and neighbors than by gov't.

I suspect a simplified legal system that leaves everything to the jury, as opposed to a complex, nearly indecipherable, legal codex would help a great deal. The wealthy, powerful and crafty often use the law to abuse others. Eliminate that with simplicity and faith in the jury. Ten laws. Let the jury sort it out. This would likely also require a completely egalitarian decision-making and legal process that would settle the vast majority of disputes long before the legal system got involved. If you're not sure what I am talking about, look at some intentional communities and how they are structured. (I'm most familiar with Dancing Rabbit.)

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.

The above egalitarian system covers that.

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

Rather more specific than I can deal with. However, I agree with those who think basic needs should all be publicly owned/administered.

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

I believe we call this trade. ;) Alan's push for rail and water transport would be important here, as would keeping some form of fast, widely available communication going. I vote for the internet, though both phones and telegraphs use little energy. I imagine current fiber optics and other cables are extensive enough for this to not be too great a problem, though the transition almost certainly would be.

I hope to relocate to a location with both rail and water relatively close by.

Food production quite simply has to be part of most homes, and needs to be natural and sustainable. They are renewing parts of barren areas in Africa with permaculture, for example. Don't listen to those who say we cannot feed the world with natural farming. Natural farming methods are an advance over the past, not a return to it.

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

I see no options. It would require a degree of cooperation this globewill never see in this century. That said, my oft-posted call for a localized buildout that would cost $500,000,000,000 and remove a huge percentage of electric demand from the grid might be a good start for the U.S.A. Doable and simple. Nobody has taken my plan and run the numbers, and I don't have the ability to, but I suspect we could back out a good portion of coal and use existing plants as the baseload and need to build no new plants. I'd love to see the numbers run.

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

There are lots of ways, of course. Conservation is a great one and could push demand below production for a few years, I'd guess. The answer to #6 would help. Relocalizing. Or, we could all just be good neighbors and help keep each other fed. I once postulated that if every middle class and upper class family/household (economically speaking) adopted one poor family/household, we would eliminate most of the negative effects of poverty pretty damned quick.

Imagine these families working hard to get by, losing a job and needing help with food and utilities for a while. Why can't others have them do chores or work around the house/business/etc. in exchange for the food and financial assistance? All voluntary, of course. Yes, I know, all very communist/socialist! Imagine! People SHARING! What will the world come to?

To summarize, without a paradigm shift to living within rather than vs. the natural system; to egalitarian, smaller communities; to cooperation rather than competition; to community rather than profit, there is no sustainable future. We actually have all the info we need to live sustainably, we just don't have the character and the will.


Hi ccpo,

Thanks for writing. Perhaps we could take this up on another Drumbeat soon.

I'd really like to hear more about this:

re: "That said, my oft-posted call for a localized buildout that would cost $500,000,000,000 and remove a huge percentage of electric demand from the grid might be a good start for the U.S.A."

What is the buildout? (Of what?)

Are you talking about a "distributed energy" type of thing (very local production via renewables - ?) and less "grid"?

I'm just not sure what you mean here, sorry. I'd like to know, though.

Are you talking about a "distributed energy" type of thing (very local production via renewables - ?) and less "grid"?

Yes. There was a discussion on these forums with, if memory serves, DaveMart. I took those messages as a basis for a blog post. I've linked to it many times, so didn't want to again so as not to irritate anyone.

It's not a well-developed plan simply because I don't have the time or the chops that others here do to do a decent energy analysis of the plan. The basics I know are possible: Joe Sixpack and friends/communities absolutely can build their own solar and wind systems quite cheaply. The 5 billion I mention is a high number, in my opinion, as I know that both wind and solar systems can be built for $1k each. Of course, some systems won't work in certain areas, but that is just a sketch. There are heat pumps, blah-blah-blah.

Here's the link:

Build out: The Grid vs. The Household - Towards a Community-based Solution to CC and PO


PS: I just noticed some pretty egregious errors... I need an editor.

PSS: I just made some edits. It should be more readable, more accurate and have less writing errors. Thanks for the reason to give it a thorough read

I can't believe it took me this long to figure out what your handle meant. Duh!


The problem here is too many conflate organic and sustainable. "Organic" is often no more than typical, FF-based methods but with poop/whatever replacing chemicals. I consider this to be only slightly more sustainable than current FF-based practices.

You get different results with natural methods/permaculture/etc.


Leanan -

Ah Spam ..... food of the gods!

Given its high sodium and fat content, my wife has made Spam a forbidden food around here, but I occasionally manage to sneak some in now and then. Makes for great emergency food.

I love Spam, and always look forward to power outages when I have an excuse to grill some on my gas camping stove on the back porch whilst stuffing myself with baked beans, all of which being washed down with generous amounts of beer or whiskey.

Gourmet food has its place, healthy food has its place ..... but so does Spam!

They make a low sodium spam now. Tastes much better.

Way way OT but this is for Prof. Goose.

Some mood music for your class.

"Rockabye Baby! Lullaby Renditions of Radiohead"


Centrica to review wind farms as costs mount

Wind farms are key to the UK meeting its targets to reduce carbon emissions and any suggestion that Centrica might delay or even shelve projects would alarm the Government.
Centrica insisted yesterday that it was committed to its wind farm programme, which had initial costings of at least £3bn. However, the company has been warning for months about the rising costs of labour, materials and ships needed to do the work on the offshore farms. In addition, the credit markets have seized up.


At £800 million for 250MW nameplate that works out at £3.2 million/MW nameplate, or more than £9 million MW of actual average output at 35% capacity, before much of the connection fees and back up.

Costs here, whatever may be the case on the Continent, are likely to go up not down as sterling falls, so in sterling terms materials remain expensive, as does the imported portion of the build.

In the present financial climate, it ain't gonna happen.

Ive been running around as of late, trying to prepare for what I believe is going to be a really tough near future. I was wondering if I was the only one who felt this way?

Ive had this feeling of impending doom for some years I must admitt. As of late though, Ive become convinced my portents of things to come has arrived. I hope Iam not making anyone nervous with my idle chatter, Iam quite serious in asking if anyone else is experiencing the same.

I have read this site enough to know that folks here are pretty intuned with current events and always looking forward, thats why I ask if its just me, or has anyone else got that heeby jeeby feeling?

Hey, if you think I should stock up on Prozac or Paxil or Wellbutrin, just let me know, I was going out for supplies anyhow. But if you concure, then I could spend the money on Scotch or other medicinal supplies, so depending on how you people see it, I will adjust my purchases accordingly...thanks in advance.

If it's possible, stock up on broad-spectrum antibiotics. Any medical personnel can comment on which antibiotics keep well, how to keep them well and which ones do they find the most helpful? Antibiotics are about the most useful drugs out there (as I try to throw off a drug-resistant pneumonia). Also keep your households vaccines up to date (note to self - am due for a tetanus booster and I grub around in dirt alot as a gardener).

I would get tetracycline and cipro. There is a military study that I saw that studied the efficacy of common drugs after prolonged storage. They were on average good for at least 3 times what the FDA recommended, and I remember tetracycline was a big winner of shelf life. Also, both are on the $4 list at walmart so easy to stockpile financially. Cipro is also good for anthrax, covers genito-urinary tract well, and has pretty good pulmonary coverage. As second line, I would put away smaller amounts of clindamycin and possibly rifampin, as they both have decent coverage against resistant staff, which I think is going to become a absolutely huge epidemic as hygiene and nutrition goes down the tube (I think it'll may be a top killer in the next 20 years even if we don't crash). Rifampin also has limited TB coverage, which could re-surge as well with poorer public health investment. Neither Rifampin or Clindamycin is horrendously expensive, but I don't know how well they store. I would reccomend vacuum sealing and refrigerating to about 40 degrees F. I would not buy much Zitromax, Cephalosporins (Keflex, etc.) or Bixin as they are currently way overused, and have fairly high resistance rates. In addition, they are really pretty much limited in use to pulmonary and the upper respiratory tract.

Being an MD, I disagree. I would have to think this through but I can tell you tetracycline is used for just about nothing. Cipro is useful, but has recently been linked with tendinitis. The question is which one of these infections (skin infections, urinary tract, pneumonia, ear infections in children) would actually be deadly if we couldn't treat them. I use antibiotics only as a last resort at home because I can't remember to take them, but I can tell you we would have been in trouble without amoxicillin, penicillin, sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim, and cephalexin.

edit - actually you could use "doxycycline" for pneumonia. Tetracycline often needs to be used 4 times a day, stains kids teeth, etc... so has fallen out of favor. Erythromycin is usually the drug of choice for pneumonia, but as it also needs to be taken several times a day, azithromycin has gained favor (Zithromax). Not a bad drug. Expensive, though, unless you have a plan to cover it. The question of how long these keep is extremely important, of course, and best tackled by a pharmacist.

Hi Paranoid,

A "paranoid" MD; I like that. :).

Some Qs: What about tooth infections? (you left those off). And...don't you need a prescription to purchase these meds? Also, you left off the STDs; I'd be curious to see an article or a list of the most common meds and what they're prescribed for...

Anyway, my Q: Do you see any leadership or interest in the health-care and medical communities about "peak oil", other than perhaps Dan Bednarz's work (which I'm not sure about, but looks good). Does anyone put "peak" on the agenda at professional meetings?

I'd sure like to see some regional manufacturing of the most common drugs and other (what might be) rational responses to what's ahead (or here, actually).

It seems like people diagnosing and self-treating might be a little bit limited. I mean, are all the docs going to disappear? :)

Do you see any leadership or interest in the health-care and medical communities about "peak oil", other than perhaps Dan Bednarz's work (which I'm not sure about, but looks good). Does anyone put "peak" on the agenda at professional meetings?

See also Dr. Peter Montague, editor of Rachel's. He frames peak oil, resource depletion, economic inequality and the rest of the horsemen as public health issues.

I have to agree. I am an MD pediatrician/epidemiologist in Canada and have tried to find other MDs in Canada with more than a passing interest in Peak Oil and Health (i.e. someone who is actively trying to interest government/academia/medical faculties, etc) and have not been very successful. There may be a few, but there is no structure to work with. When I give talks on the subject to medical groups, there is clear interest, and often a sense of 'what to do', but little action. I think one reason is that most health care professionals are swamped with immediate problems and lack the 'luxury' of considering the issue of Peak Oil in any depth. I have made that luxury available to me, but I have a very small clinical practice and am at a stage in my career where things like research grants and publications are not a great priority. There is a group based in Quebec that is trying to set up a workshop on Peak Oil and Public Health for next fall, so at least some level of interest is there, but at present it is very fragile. I think the situation is a bit better in the US, a workshop is being planned for the spring, but even in the US there are not many really active individuals. This is a pity because there are so many things to do.

If there are other physicians (especially, but not only, Canadians) who read TOD who want to discuss this topic off-line, please feel free to contact me (dspady@ualberta.ca) so we can perhaps start to develop a working/advocacy group that can push for the issue of Peak Oil, Health, and Health Care, to be a priority for policy makers, educators, and front-line health care professionals.

Don Spady

Thanks for both of your replies.

It's worth remembering that, when you give that Lloyd Bridges plunge, it's the temperature change that gets you.

I've lived in Mexico for the past seven years. The per capita energy consumption here is about 1/6 what it is in the U.S. And you know what? People survive. There are some indications the people here may even be happier than they are in the U.S. There's kind of a resignation and people joke about being los hijos de la chingada (the children of the rape).

But it's a rapid change in temperature that shocks the body. As Jacques Barzun pointed out, it was Edmund Burke that “demonstrated that stable governments depend not on force but on habit–the ingrained, far from stupid obedience to the laws and ways of the country as they have been and are.”

He goes on to observe that it “follows that to replace by fiat one set of forms with another, thought up by some impover, no matter how intelligent, ends in disaster. To expect such a scheme to prosper is unreasonable because habits do not form overnight. Change is inevitable and often desirable, but it serves a good purpose only when gradual–evolution, not revolution, yields betterment, if only because at any time a people is composed of several generations.”

We really don't know how fast the temperature is going to change. I'd say a lot of it depends on Gawar.

You should probably go to LATOC for your morning cup of doomercoffee.

The thread about M. Lewis's book about the end of the stock market is getting lots of attention.

I think we have lost many of the doomers and cornucopians have replaced them. The doomers having brought the message are too busy to try to convince others. They just watch the show and then go back to work.

But at this stage , with the exception of Leanan, I think its assured that we are into 'it'. She seems to have backed up of late. Me I am no longer wondering. Its here.

Denninger is now the first I read with each logon. Followed by Drudge
and then TOD. Somewhere in there I hit AutomaticEarth.

Airdale-if your not chopping firewood, perhaps you should be
if your seed corn isn't hung in bags on the rafters,perhaps it
should be....etc.etc....you get the idea...go do what needs to
be done then surf the net. Time is awasting.

I don't think it is necessarily that there are more cornucopians here now. I think its more a case of people joining that are new to the concepts often discussed here. Their understanding is still superficial and they don't yet understand the real depth of the problems we face.

Their beliefs are still rooted in the received wisdoms of modernity. They believe the problems can be fixed, if only we can get some more nut & bolts for the wobbling edifice of civilisation. All that need be done is slap on some wind turbines, add some electric cars and get everyone signed up to permaculture classes and its fixed.

Few seem to fully understand the radical changes they personally need to make to get through the coming bottleneck. That's the impression I'm getting.

I've been writing and posting about this stuff for years and years. Frankly, I've gotten somewhat tired of this. Further, on TOD, there has been an effort to limit posts re. "preparations" so there is little interplay about this topic. I was approached some time ago about sort of heading a new "channel" called TOD:Campfire dealing with these topics. But I never heard anything more so I assume it died aborning.


HI Todd,

Thanks for posting. I'd like to see this. And I'd like to help out. Could you email me?

And/or, perhaps write to the editors again.

Yup, busy doing, bite of the ax. Training a new plott hound, I think dogs can help a lot. Dog will kill anything after me and mine. Simple things like how a hand pump works, extra leathers, or how to make leathers out of that old belt. Chuckle, lost knowledge. There is a large group of thought that the druids saved much knowledge from the fall of Rome. Led to a new age of enlightenment. Made them a bit scary as well.

Recently, saw a new gold hoard discovered. Buried coins, I guess the gold hoard didn't help much. It was still buried. Water, food, shelter in that order. It continues, the fall of Rome and the people who hoarded gold or silver, never got it out of the ground.

Break it down to basics. Those basics are different for different areas. Heck CFM has a problem with turkeys, I do to, they are all over up here, free range, tasty, and a downright pain in the road. Awesome to watch as they head into the trees at dusk, real fat ones have to run for quite a while.
Then these fat things fly.

A little bird seed and they come back every day. Beats shopping.

Don in Maine

Durandal started one last year called WTDWTSHTF. Had a few interesting discussions, but nobody much seems to be going there.

Yes you should stock up on Prozac and while you are at it, buy a couple extra bottles for me.

Seriously, the stock market going down week after week and the subsequent losses of 401 and other retirement money are bound to cause psychological anxiety.

In our case, a large share of our income is Military Retirement and Social Security. Though we are completely out of debt and both incomes have some sort of COLA, it is never is enough to cover inflation (5.8% this year is about half or less of real inflation). Hyperinflation and/or complete financial failure scare us.

I build custom furniture in my one-man shop. That market will be shot as money tightens. Since my wife and I are “seniors” we probably won’t be around to see the very worst of civilization’s trip back to the primal plains. The world without oil, fertilizer, and other commodities cannot support many people. The transition without the products of the 1898 Sears catalog will be gruesome.

There are about a half million people here in the greater Reno/Carson area and nothing important to life is produced here … like food. When the white man showed up here there were about 3000 Indians and when we all leave 3000 Indians will probably still be able to sustain here.

Yep, Prozac while it is still being made may be required.

Nephilim- I, like you, have the heeby jeebies. I've been stocking up like never before and analyze each purchase in terms of how it will serve a post-collapse world. From clothes, to medical supplies to food. My husband is a barometer of popular culture and is just plain irritated at my planning and purchases. Although he gave some lip service to repairing our cistern as I'm concerned about access to water.

I will say, however, I'm one of the few people of my generation (X) who has lived through economic collapse in the US. As a middle-class kid I lived in a northern mining town that lost the only employer in town. More than 60% of the people left their nice little homes. Everyday another house boarded up as I walked to school. Until it was my family's turn to board up and leave looking for work. My parents never recovered economically and otherwise.

So I have a proclivity to look for collapse.

Thanks too everyone who responded. I especially appreciated the response concerning the anti-biotic recomendations by johno. I concure with the Cipro and Clindamycin and have taken the effort to stock up on these in abundance, along with a slew of medical supplies. I have set back quite a bit of material that will never go bad and has no need for storage issues or concerns.

ViewFromHere; I also look towards the future whenever making a purchase or decision, not really a new modis operandi for me though.

I can't recall if it was Tzun Zu of another old warrior who told me..."Choose the hills you die on with care"....."The battle can be won or lost on your choice".....peak oil has that curvature too it and looks like a hill, or maybe Iam reading a Rorschach inkblot into it.

The survey really couldnt be answered by me on many several questions, I did the best I could though. The question of education could have included the answer choice of (none). The age thing was difficult also. The children question and income level werent easy either. I understand TOD wants to plumb the audience and make adjustments. The reason I post is simple (community) and (social) The same reasons I read every post made by everyone and glean what they offer....even when they dont know they are offering anything of value. The part where it asks if you think yourself more intellectual then the group was disturbing too me. I suppose in a post peak world, some will still want to puff up and display that "My PV array is bigger than your PV array" or "My worm compost bin is more productive than your worm compost bin"

Do Amish men compare beard lengths? Do Menonite women become jealous of other Menonite womens shoes? I emagine they do, but its still a sad comentary.

As for your last question. Of course they do. They're only human. However, those kind of comparisons would be regarded as prideful (I forget the High German technical term) and subject to severe social disapproval. In an Anabaptist society, puffing up about one's farm might obligate one to share more with the needy of the community.


i too was disturbed by the intellect question. in fact i think/feel tod is too focused on such; independent of the survey- & look forward to the posts & comments that lay out instinctual , & feelings/intuitive alongside reason.

i categorize such constructs as instincts/feelings/thinking weighted heavily in that order as far as how we operate; & the distinctions are somewhat artificial in everyday experience.

also re heightened sense about 'there' in terms of bad things escalating/coming. yes i have a increased sense about the serious pain none of us will be able to avoid; but as others are at least bothered by the daily news i feel calmer as have done lots & i am not nearly as alone with my concerns.

re the meds stocking. are there ones available thru vet supplies -nonprescript- that are good re antibiotics, etc. i have been told there were- which ones?

Nephillim, I've had the "heeby jeebies" for about 35 years now following an epiphany while stuck in traffic on the Bay Bridge between San Francisco and Oakland. I just wanted to go home, in something less than the usual couple of hours, up over the hill at Hayward, and on to Livermore. It occurred to me in a very big way that it was all going to fail, all of it. Every single bit of our civilization was going to come apart. But, I had no idea when. I quit my job, and headed back to the Mountain West where I had grown up, even though as a youngster, I had dreamed of leaving the boondocks for the big city. So, here I am now, on my little homestead; goats and mules, and a big garden. I'm happy here, and my simple life has been rich and rewarding. I'm glad I'm here. But, the "heeby jeebies" haven't gone away, in fact, they're worse now than ever. I hope for the best, a soft landing but, my practical side will not let me believe that there will be a happy ending to our experiment with industrial civilization. A graph of world population growth, along side a graph of fossil fuel use tells the whole story. Without abundant and cheap fossil fuels there will be a lot fewer folks competing for space on this old orb. I do believe the present financial crises is just the opening curtain to what Kunstler has so appropriately called The Long Emergency. Best from the Fremont

India's rich lose 60 pct of their fortune as stocks dive: Forbes

MUMBAI (AFP) – The fortunes of India's wealthiest have been slashed by more than 60 percent due to the global financial crisis which has sharply pulled down stock markets, according to a new rich list.

Hello TODers,

Consider the following links, then my comment:

Thrift Stores Thrive With Tough Economy

Retail sales plunged by a record amount in October. While department and specialty stores scrape the barrel, thrift stores are having a hay day.

"The more everyone struggles with the economy, the busier we're getting," says Lisa McCauley, manager of a Sioux City Goodwill thrift store. "It's been a fantastic year for us. It's just like night and day from last year.

Bookstores Feel The September Pain, Too

Last week, we told you about the 2.0 percent drop in revenue reported by major publishers for the month of September—now the U.S. Census Bureau has put out its figures for that month, which say that bookstore sales dropped 4.5 percent... although sales for the first nine months of 2008 are still up 1.8 percent over the same period from last year.
Recall my earlier post where I suggested renting/selling Peakbooks to those waiting in the very long gasoline lines in the Southeast after hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

IMO, bookstores, such as Barnes & Noble maybe in for tough times. They, or perhaps some nimble entrepreneurs, should consider niche marketing strategies such as selling Peak Everything and related books outside Goodwill & Salvation Army stores, as many of these people may not be able to afford web access anymore to buy on-line from Amazon and other web retailers.

Another good spot may be where people are queued up at unemployment offices, or the huge crowds at job fairs, where they are all competing for less wages for the few jobs available.

I think it would provide a public service to help these people through Peak Outreach so they can understand why they are being forced to be frugal as the economy shrinks.

Another excellent selling spot would be at major golf tournaments with their giant crowds, but I bet the Iron Triangle sponsors would have you thrown off the property in record time.

EDIT: NASCAR events too, but there again, they will probably boot you off the premises.

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

Here's a couple who may well not be Peak Oil aware, but who show that even the most unlikely can make some pretty impressive lifestyle changes. If more of us lived like these folks, maybe the decline wouldn't be so steep. http://www.columbiatribune.com/2008/Nov/20081115News007.asp

Hello EHT,

Thxs for responding. A concept from an old posting of mine is for all TODers to print out small cards: one side listing a few Peakbooks with the flip side listing the FREE Websites [this is important to print out] such as TOD, EB, LATOC and DIEOFF.org. IMO, we all need to be Peak Outreach 'Johnny Appleseed'. :)

Feel free to list your favorites, then hand out or leave these cards all over the place. For example: when I get gasoline--I tape a few to the gas pump by the price meter. Or leave some inside magazines at a doctor's or dentist's office.

My favorite is to hand a card to a cashier or some other employee, then tell them the info on the card might save themselves or their families' life in the years to come.

Just the other day, when I was getting a prescription filled for my mother: I handed a card to the drug store pharmacist giving my usual spiel. But I also suggested he could could increase his sales by taking advantage of cascading blowback synergy: I told him to sell books like Paul Ehrlich's 'Population Bomb' or books on STDs by placing the books right next to the condom and other birth control items. The sales can crossfeed to sell more of both.

Related to my first posting, just more proof that I am not the sharpest pencil in the box as others, as usual, out-think me:

Bookstore finds home at Goodwill

More jobs, an expanded inventory and a breakthrough bookstore.

Goodwill Industries officially opened a new location in London yesterday with a spate of good news.

My brother, the blacksheep of the family, was homeless for many years, drugs, booze, violence, etc. has worked for goodwill for 20 years now.

Worked his way up to a very comfortable position.

The extended family, both his and his wifes, in the area (Monterey bay area CA.)have never respected this position and belittled him at every chance.

They are all realestate industry and hurting very very bad, I mean loosing millions. He is doing very well (and surfs every day lol).

People also want to be frugal and prepare for a difficult future. The attempt to restart non-essential consumer spending is completely wrong. Yes we're in a liquidity trap, so that people are tending to only spend on essentials. That's exactly what we need.

We need to stop spending our limited resources on pedicures, SUVs, swimming pools, etc. We need to start spending our limited resources on: public transport, new energy infrastructure, electrification of anything that can be electrified, high rise housing close to train stations, etc, etc.

OK we have lots of expertise and infrastructure for pedicures, building SUVs and swimming pools, etc. How's it going to work out if we want to start doing something completely different? The answer is: badly, very badly, but a lot better than any alternative.

There are two basic perception problems outside TOD. One is thinking in terms of money as if it was a real thing, instead of looking at the real economy underneath. The second problem is that the pressure from the energy crisis doesn't come as a steady pressure, but as massive hammer blows that hit us whenever the economy sticks its head above the parapet (how's that for a mixed metaphor). We're still reeling from the last blow, but now that the pressure is off people deny the problem. It seems like there is no energy price problem now, so obviously the current problem is just lack of confidence. And by the way government revenues are drying up so let's not build that new train line, and energy demand is down so let's not build that new power station, and fossil fuel is cheap so let's not bother with nuclear and renewable energy...

Hello Robert.Smart,

Thxs for responding and well said.

A good way to help spread Peak Outreach is to regularly practice the 'Peakoil Shoutout' whenever your favorite yeasty beverage glass reaches half-empty--I am constantly encouraging all TODers to practice this to help make it a new cultural tradition internationally. If someone asks you why you did this: you can them present them with the info card and life-altering discussion.

If the person is listening long enough: be sure to mention that they need to google Jay Hanson's Thermo/Gene Collision, the ArchDruid's Catabolic Collapse, and Dmitry Orlov's scenarios. IMO, this is especially effective on young adults, and will hopefully induce them to consider adopting 'Optimal Overshoot Decline' strategies and tactics.

Another idea I just had on cascading blowback synergy: selling Peakbooks outside gunstores, rifle ranges, or big gunshows maybe profitable too. One of the largest public shooting ranges on the planet is in my Asphalt Wonderland, and a very large Scottsdale gunstore also offers a shooting range where the rich participant can fire a full-auto .50 cal from a moving military Hummer as it careens through the desert course [detailed in prior postings]. I think they are getting ready to defend their exclusive neighborhoods WTSHTF.

Hello Leanan,

Please tell SuperGoose to patch the TOD survey software: I took the survey using Firefox, no problem. Next I tried to take the survey again under Firefox--it told me that I had already taken it by the SurveyMonkey screen.

Next I opened TOD using IE browser--> It allowed me to take the survey again, but I DID NOT as I didn't want to skew the survey data.

I suggest opening up the survey post to comments. My comment would be "I didn't like my options on qustion 8 (and to a lesser extent on some other questions)".

Robert - the questions are not perfect.

We can't open for discussion because that would invalidate any statistical work we intend to do (by biasing people who haven't taken survey yet). We will post the results and then open it to discussion. thanks.

I don't think there's anything that can be done about that. That is typical behavior with online polls. Delete your cookie, and you can take it again.

How long will the poll be open? I hope the results would be posted at some point?

Antoinetta III

Thanks Bob - it will let you take it again but only the first survey from each specific IP will be counted in tally.

...only the first survey from each specific IP will be counted in tally.

Doesn't that sort of make it pointless, since in some cases you will see an IP address specific to a particular reader, but in others - for example anybody whose ISP-uplink setting is DHCP or who otherwise doesn't have their own IANA-registered static IP address - you will see a proxy address possibly shared by many readers? I imagine that might tend to skew the tallying against readers on large ISPs. I wonder how that would skew the results...

Edit - or someone might realize that if they log on again, they will probably show a different proxy IP...

Yeah, I agree. I think it's a big mistake to give too much credit to Internet polls. All the ways of trying to keep people from voting more than once are seriously flawed, and it's amazing what people will "stuff the ballot box" for.

This one is preliminary and will be followed with a more detailed survey by email. thanks.

E-mails? You're going to e-mail everyone who's registered here? o_O

well what way do you purpose for doing a more accurate survey?

He's not going to be conducting any surveys by e-mail.

Personally, I think surveys over the net are highly suspect, for many reasons. Mostly because people tend to lie over the net more than in real life. Because they can, and because people are reluctant to post personal information, even very general personal information, on the net.

However, surveys in real life are quite difficult to get right, too. And it's getting harder. People just don't have the time any more.

That will probably introduce a minor skew of its own, since (like a substantial number of people) I use a "garbage can" email address when some web-thing that doesn't intrinsically involve email wants an email address.

Now I know it's coming I'll probably root it out, but if I hadn't known I'd never have seen it.

He's not e-mailing members of TOD. He was talking about e-mailing people who are interested in energy issues but aren't here, to get them to take the survey, too.

And how are they going to know if they are smarter than the average TOD reader?

The problems are inherent in the process of voting, whether for a candidate or an idea or to provide feedback. The problems aren't because of their specific implementations on the Internet.

I want to commend whoever constructed the TOD survey -- most multiple choice lists mostly make make me want to check "none of the above," and this one did only a couple of times.

Once was the question, What am I doing about my peak oil and climate change worries? Less than I'd wish. I'm 77, retired on Social Security and a small pension, living in a rented flat in Queens NYC, and I can see little I can do. I can't even imagine what's about to happen, in order to prepare for. What I've done is to get out of investments (hoping our Credit Union is sound), and to email my five kids about once a month to say Please Please Please give some thought to how you can survive the next ten years.

I figure the status quo will just about barely out last me. My young spouse (50 on thanksgiving) and my kids, all give-or-take 40, will have to deal with more of the troubles. So an honest answer to one question might be, I read TOD for entertainment -- but I hope that being better informed will make me more useful to people I talk to. We know almost all the Democratic politicians in our part of Queens, and I keep trying to derail the ingrained assumption that BAU awaits on the other side of the present crisis.

Thanks for sharing.
You are not alone. Many of us out here are just hanging on --living from paycheck to paycheck (or SS to SS check)-- and feeling like there is not much we can do to stop the tsunami.

But you can still talk. You can wait for the opportune moments when those more in power are open to receiving the warning signals.

Look at Joe the Plumber. He was a nobody. However, for one shining moment the cameras were rolling and a receptive Obama was listening and responding. If it can happen to Joe, it can happen to you. One never knows.

“The era of cheap hydrocarbons is over. We can see that due to the disparity between supply and demand. Oil companies are underinvesting in the sector. The deficit of oil which was the prognosis for the medium term, will apparently happen earlier than expected.”


Hello TODers,

Recall my earlier speculative firestorm postings:

Los Angeles fears blackouts as wildfire burns
Is Cascadia ready?

Unhappy people glue themselves to the television 30 percent more than happy people.

The finding, announced on Thursday, comes from a survey of nearly 30,000 American adults conducted between 1975 and 2006 as part of the General Social Survey.
I would suspect the same is true of those addicted to videogames, DVD movies, and IPODs.

Hello Bob, or Mr. Totoneila Sir, (to borrow from SCT),

Thanks, as usual.

And with your question about Cascadia, you provided me an opportunity to list one of the most creative, amazing organizations going:

Check out their newsletters and lists. And the interview with Amanda Ripley and Lucy Edwards is nice, as well.

I keep thinking - this is one of the most relevant actions happening, even though not formally (or, even informally, I suppose) linked to "peak oil."

Some members are using the ideas of long-term shortages (oil? gasoline? Water? electricity?) as a way of doing further organizing and planning.

Cool stuff.

The Golden Years, Tarnished

“Older middle-class people have made plans based on a set of assumptions of how the world works, and the world has gone crazy,” said Alicia H. Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. Those assumptions once included the notions that bank accounts and corporate bonds were secure, and blue-chip stocks were the best long-term investments.

I think retirement is going the way of the dodo. It's going to be a scary time for people who are already retired.

Earlier this month, the state of Wisconsin sent out letters warning retirees that their pension checks would be cut. I don't think they'll be the only ones.

Also earlier this month, the governor of NY, David Paterson, hinted that some changes to the state pension system would be necessary, because the budget is so screwed.

In many states, it's not as easy to cut government workers' pensions as in Wisconsin, but it's probably coming. Taxpayers who are losing their own jobs, health insurance, and retirement plans aren't going to be too sympathetic to government workers.

Unfortunately, I think retirement plans will revert to what they were pre-401k and pension: offspring. Kids were the original pension plan, and may be the plan of the future. That does not bode well for resource depletion/ecology issues.

I assure that given my parents are reaching retirement age I've been actively working with them to ensure they keep their retirement and make careful investments. The recent stock market crash finally brought them around to my point of few.

I'd suggest anyone who's parents are approaching retirement get involved in their plans if you don't want to end up being the retirement plan.

The thought of spending another 20 years living with my parents spurred me into action.

I've been thinking the opposite: that it would be good to live with family again, including my parents, if TSHTF. Blood is thicker than water.

I think it varies. Sometimes it works very well. Sometimes it works so badly that it leads to physical or mental abuse, in which case the authorities may step in and break up the household.

For example, some parents simply can't live with their adult offspring without trying obnoxiously to run every detail of their lives and their spouse's lives. That sort of thing destroys marriages. And nowadays, it has a completely unprecedented amount of time in which to do so: people live 30 or 40 years longer than they did as recently as 1900. If 'TSHTF' for real, it will come to the fore in many, many households as endless decades of second-guessing and nagging, strongly exacerbated by financial stress (which is well known to destroy relationships even at levels that are far short of TSHTF.) In all too many cases, said nagging may well go beyond unremitting shouting matches and come to a really bad end when someone snaps.

There's really no one-size-fits-all.

Mines not that bad but I don't want to go deeply into my family but a lot of inter generational respect has been lost on all sides of the coin. I realize in dealing with people in their 70-80's that they don't pry if you will into other peoples issues. My wife is from Taiwan and we lived with here parents when we moved back and it was pretty tight but the culture is to keep private matters private.

I was somewhat joking but having lived in China and in chinese culture I see a lot of connection between how they live and how people in their 70-80's live.

We lost something after that. In my opinion the problem is my parents did not take care of their parents so they don't know what they don't want to inflict on their children. Just like any child that now has children I have some things I'd like to do different with my children.

In the US we have broken this chain and it will be painful to reform it.

It will be painful for many families to go back to multi-generational living.

I assure everything is not rosy even with the Chinese but my wifes parents have dealt with taking care of their parents so if we end up taking care of them they have been on the other side of the fence. Not so with American families.

I remember reading a study one time that most old people are actually a lot happier living with their children. In countries with more traditional (and poorer) societies, like Mexico, elderly parents living with the kids (or the kids with the elderly parents) is actually the norm.

Kids don't leave the nest until they're much older either. Many Mexicans I've talked to are amazed that parents in the U.S. want the kids out of the house, and the kids want to be out of the house, when the kids turn 18. I'd say it's the norm here for kids to live at home until they're between 25 and 30 years old, especially if they are going to school.

Then there is care and respect for elders, something called respeto--respect for experience and continuity, less than awe at change and novelty. This respect is not limited to old age in itself; in a basically oral culture, the old are the ones who remember stories, who have the store of memory. One could almost say that when an old man or an old woman dies in the Hispanic world, a whole library dies with that person.

And of course there is the family--family commitment, fighting to keep the family together, perhaps not avoiding poverty but certainly avoiding a lonely poverty. The family is regarded as the hearth, the sustaining warmth. It is almost a political party, the parliament of the social microcosm and the security net in times of trouble. And when have times not been troubled? The ancient stoic philisophy from Roman Iberia is deep indeed in the soul of Hispanics.

Carlos Fuentes, The Buried Mirror

My mom is so incredibly helpful and makes life easier. When she's here she's cooking, playing with kids, and is not afraid of mice and rats (I'm afraid of them). A helpful trait on a farm. Practically speaking, older generations can help quite a bit with domestic and farm work. This farm has been the home to multi-generational families- for mutual aid and survival.

The experience of the older generation has always been valuable. According to the "Grandmother Hypothesis," that is why human women experience menopause. In most other species, the females are fertile until death. They may even be more fertile the older they get. Chimpanzee males vastly prefer older females to younger ones. They will ignore a young female in heat if an old one comes by. If chimps were human, they'd be drooling over Hillary Clinton and barfing at the idea of boinking Paris Hilton.

The species where females go through menopause are all highly social species with long childhoods - ones where helping children and grandchildren may be a better reproductive strategy than having more children of your own.

And if things get really bad, the experience of the older generations will be even more useful. My mom, who was raised by her grandmother, knows how to do things like kill and dress chickens. She hates it, but she knows how to do it. While for me, chicken has always come from the store.

This is actually why I was skeptical of the whole "Peak Oil" thing at first. It seemed like too perfect a justification for the grandparents to tell us youngsters "See, I told you that you would need real skills in life, like I had when I was young, and not just your video games, MTV and internets". That was about 18 months ago. I did my research...now I need to ask my grandma how to darn socks "Yes, Grandma, you were right, I shouldn't be so wasteful"

Advice from Japan: Keep on spending

TOKYO — Richard Koo has a message for G20 leaders gathered in Washington to deal with the global financial crisis: spend, spend big, spend till it hurts and when you are tired of spending, spend some more.

Mr. Koo has devoted much of his career to studying how Japan coped with its own financial crisis in the 1990s. He says the lesson is clear.

“Japan has proved to the world that you can use fiscal policy to keep GDP from falling,” Mr. Koo, chief economist for Japan's Nomura Research Institute, said in an interview at his Tokyo office. “And that lesson is a big one for mankind.”

For years, Mr. Koo was a voice in the wilderness, taking the unpopular line that Japan's much-criticized solution to its decade-long downturn – massive public spending – actually worked. Now, with the world experiencing a financial debacle much like Japan suffered, his views are getting a closer look.

Massive public spending on wasteful huge useless infrastructure projects was done in Japan in the 1990s as a response to the bubble bursting here. Low oil prices became a way to employ millions operating bulldozers etc.

But if every other country tries it now the price of oil is going to SOAR as millions of bulldozers throttle into action across the planet. And that will make that sort of project suddenly way more expensive than planned.

Actually lots of cement (in the form of shops, roads, etc) is showing itself to be increasingly useless here. Lots of closed down cement buildings---how much better to have never built them at all!!

A huge train station near me shut down its attached 7 story mall. Many pachinko parlors (kind of unnecessary gambling) are shut down, with huge empty parking lots. Stores are shuttering. Office buildings have high vacancy rates.

I was talking to my friend about this yesterday and she said "Kawari ni midori ga ii". ("Instead (of abandoned cement and parking lots) green (nature) is good.")

Huge abandoned cement complexes will be worse than useless as no grazing of animals is possible, no farms can be built on them, so they can't provide any sustenance to future and even current generations. How foolish will previous generations look for having built them !!!!!

I am not saying don't build railroads though, I don't count useful railroads as wasteful cement garbage......

there is no limit to human greed and folly (tm).
the man enslaved to wealth can never be honest.
here in new jersey it is business as usual. high property taxes require anyone to be a wage slave. a car is a necessity as there is extremely limited mass transit. the change here will be swift and brutal. no one will change until the system collapses. no one, NO ONE, speaks about it.
every one is on mind altering drugs. i see it when i go to Target to payoff my credit card. i see it at the super market when i buy food.
it scares the crap out of me. and nothing can be done. all the money is
invested in the system not changing. because "i got to get my slice of the pie". who can say what the real state of the world is? we sure are going to find out very soon. stick a fork in the usa's buttocks. turn it over. we is done.

Ahhh ..a 'sign of the times'...suddenly absolute mindnumbing "honesty".

Amazing. Most here I think try to keep up 'appearances' and sorta shade the truth..maybe outright lie about it, wanting a pretense of having it made but still just ego.

Thanks for sharing your honest opinions. I went to NJ once to work on a mainframe at Bell Labs that was killing them. I observed New Jersey for the first and last time. BTW I walked right past the cubible Dennis Ritchie was working in. His C hadn't came out yet.

My opinion then of NJ was about the same as yours but yours is far more advanced,or rather less advanced morality wise.