DrumBeat: November 24, 2008

We must plan a survival strategy for our species

The science of sustainability is a mess. In 16 years it seems to have gone backwards as the world rushes on towards a frankly terrifying future. It is time it got its act together.

...Earlier this month, I attended a week-long blue-chip scientific workshop on measuring sustainability, organised by the Ernst Strungmann Forum in Frankfurt, Germany. Some of the best boffins in the business were there to discuss how sustainably we use, or could use, water, land, energy and materials - what you might call the four horsemen of our environmental apocalypse.

But no-one could agree. Nobody even knew how we could measure whether we are moving backwards or forwards. It sounded at times like a gruesome postscript to Jared Diamond's book Collapse, on how civilizations fail. Because maybe that is what it was.

OPEC to announce output cut, but not this weekend

LONDON - OPEC looks set to announce a further output cut of up to 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) this year but will probably wait until its next policy meeting in December before making the move, a poll suggested on Monday.

Eight of 15 oil analysts surveyed by Reuters Nov. 21-24 said the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries was unlikely to announce any reduction at its informal gathering in Cairo on Saturday.

W.Africa Crude-Heavy Angolan crude in demand

LONDON (Reuters) - Heavier Angolan crude oil is in higher demand than lighter, sweeter West African grades due to improving fuel oil cracks, traders said on Monday.

Oil hunt reaches new depths

CHINA National Offshore Oil Corp is planning to invest 200 billion yuan (US$29 billion) with its foreign partners in deep-water exploration in the South China Sea, in what analysts said could more than double its net production.

Gran Tierra suspends work at 2 Colombian oil fields

Gran Tierra Energy says it has temporarily suspended production in the Costayaco and Juanambu oil fields in southern Colombia due to a general strike in the region.

Report: Iran oil industry needs $145 bln investment

TEHRAN (Xinhua) -- Iran's Deputy Oil Minister for domestic construction and engineering affairs Hamdollah Mohammadnejad said that at least 145 billion U.S. dollars is needed to be invested in the country's oil industry within a ten-year period, Iran's Energy and Oil Information Network (SHANA) reported on Monday.

Iraq agrees to connect Kurd oil fields to pipeline

ARBIL, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraq's oil minister and officials from its largely autonomous Kurdistan region agreed on Monday to connect two Kurdish oil fields to the main northern export pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, the minister said.

Iraq-Turkey Oil Pipeline Repairs Complete, Botas Spokesman Says

(Bloomberg) -- Turkey’s state-run pipeline company Botas completed repairs on an oil pipeline from Iraq following a blast three days ago, said Huseyin Sagir, a spokesman for Botas.

UK Treasury Cuts 2009 Oil Tax Revenue Forecast

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- A U.K. Treasury Monday cut forecasts for revenue received from a controversial North Sea oil output tax for 2009-10 as prices and production but said it was consulting the industry to incentivize investment.

Nigeria's oil savings up 60 pct at $22.75 bln since Jan

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria's federal savings from oil sales and taxes have increased by 60 percent from the start of the year to total $22.75 billion, according to a Finance Ministry document obtained by Reuters.

The reserves, which are made up of $20 billion held in U.S. dollars and 322.8 billion naira ($2.75 billion), could be key in next year's budget as the government looks for ways to fund its spending amid falling oil prices.

Indians: Oil sands development 'genocide'

EDMONTON, Alberta (UPI) -- A Canadian Indian rights advocate claims oil sands development in Alberta is akin to genocide from water contamination on reservation lands.

Somalia Pirates May Reduce Ransom Demand for Tanker

(Bloomberg) -- The Somali pirates who hijacked an oil-laden Saudi Arabian supertanker said they may reduce their demand for a $25 million ransom and vowed to defend themselves if an attempt is made to free the ship.

Shell Studies Possible Oil Projects in Iraq, CEO Says

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe's largest oil company, is examining possible oilfield projects in Iraq as the nation prepares to issue exploration permits next year, Chief Executive Officer Jeroen van der Veer said today.

Shell may bid for Iraqi fields in the first half of 2009, van der Veer told reporters at a conference in London. Iraq expects to award contracts by June in its first oil-licensing round since the U.S. invasion in 2003, Oil Minister Hussain al- Shahristani said last month.

Why Puplava Has Been Wrong On Crude Oil

This weekend's broadcast telegraphs why Puplava has been so wrong: The entire discussion of crude oil and energy is entirely focused on supply issues. The failure to consider changes in demand clearly accounts for Puplava's missing a really important call. Clearly it has been falling demand and the anticipation of further falling demand that has been the driving force behind crude oil prices since last July.

How Global Warming May Affect U.S. Beaches, Coastline

Several scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego are finding that sea level rise will have different consequences in different places but that they will be profound on virtually all coastlines. Land in some areas of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States will simply be underwater.

Stop taxing fuel efficient vehicles

Reagan said, “If you tax something you get less of it” and that is certainly true for the alternate fuel industry. That is why alternate energy vehicles should be tax free. No sales tax, no luxury tax, nothing.

Oil Is Cheap. Why Is Gas, Which Is Made From Oil, Even Cheaper?

There is a relationship between crude oil prices and gasoline prices, since oil is used to make gasoline. But there is not a simple, linear, one-to-one relationship. In the futures markets, a gallon of gasoline has been, on average over the last six years, 22 cents more expensive than a gallon of crude, according to John C. Felmy, chief economist for API, an oil and gas trade association. (A barrel of oil contains 42 gallons, by the way.) That 22-cent difference comes primarily from the costs of refining oil into gasoline.

Right now, though, the decline in gas prices is outpacing that in oil prices on the futures markets. In fact, a gallon of gas is currently cheaper than a gallon of oil on the futures markets in the New York Mercantile Exchange. Why is this?

OPEC source sees need for new 1 mil b/d cut at Dec 17 meeting

Dubai (Platts) - OPEC needs to cut its crude production by a further 1 million b/d at its December 17 meeting in Oran, western Algeria, an OPEC source said Monday.

The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the problem was less a question of oversupply than of consumer inventories which he described as being, at 55 days of forward cover in OECD countries, "at the high end."

He stressed the importance of full compliance with any reduction. "It has to be an actual cut," he said.

Iran risks spending squeeze in election year

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's government risks a squeeze on spending next year, when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is expected to seek re-election, unless oil prices bounce back to around $80 a barrel.

Despite the oil windfall it reaped as crude surged to $147 a barrel in July, economists say Iran has not saved enough to maintain spending levels now the price has tumbled to $50 and, due to sanctions, has limited prospects for borrowing abroad.

Kazakhstan cuts oil price forecast as crisis bites

ASTANA (Reuters) - Kazakhstan slashed its 2009 oil price forecast by a third to $40 on Monday, bracing itself for more economic pain as the global financial crisis continued to take its toll on Central Asia's biggest oil producer.

Kazakhstan has announced a $21 billion rescue package -- equivalent to roughly 20 percent of the economy -- to help its fledging banking sector survive the crisis but falling crude prices have threatened to erode some of these efforts.

Russia's Gazprom denies using gas as political tool

BERLIN (RIA Novosti) - The head of Russian natural gas monopoly Gazprom has hit back at Ukrainian politicians' claims that Moscow uses gas exports as a political weapon, saying the company meets all its commitments in full.

Tennis Shoes and Stolen Toilets

The performance of the Russian armed forces during the invasion of Georgia in August showed the dismal state of Moscow's military machine. Some Russian soldiers went into battle wearing athletic shoes because there were not enough boots to go around. Russian troops stole everything they could lay hands on--particularly from the Georgian army facilities they overran. Uniforms, beds, U.S.-supplied Humvees, and toilets were even pulled off the walls by Russian forces. "They had everything; the most amazing f--ing beds, amazing f--ing barracks with sealed windows," one Russian soldier was recorded saying in a short mobile phone video that was later broadcast--awestruck like Goldilocks when she stumbled upon Baby Bear's boudoir. Apparently living conditions for soldiers have improved little in the decades since Belenko's defection.

Cyprus Accuses Turkey Of Obstructing Oil Search

NICOSIA (AFP)--Cyprus on Monday accused Turkey of interfering in its oil exploration and protested that a Turkish warship had impeded a Norwegian-flagged exploration vessel off the island's coast earlier this month.

"We have made all the necessary protests and taken every conceivable action," Foreign Minister Marcos Kyprianou told reporters after the Nov. 13 incident was made public.

Uganda warns fuel companies over high price

The government yesterday warned oil companies against overcharging customers as the fuel shortage spreads to western Uganda, pushing the price of petrol up to Ush3,500 per litre.

Junior Energy Minister Kamanda Bataringaya delivered the warning at a press conference on Saturday morning in Kampala, which had been called to respond to growing public angst over the rising price of fuel and its intermittent supply.

Cold Day in Hell May Affect SD Highway Funding

AT ISSUE: For months now South Dakotans have been hearing about the shortage of funds in the state's highway fund program. This, with the reduction of fuel being used on our highways, has also caused a cut in the amount of gasoline tax the state gets from motorists. This, of course, adds to the problem of how South Dakota is going to be able to not only maintain its highways and bridges, but to repair and/or replace our highways and bridges.

The lack of funding also poses several interesting questions.

UK: Calls for 'Green New Deal' to tackle economy and environment

The Environment Agency today joined calls for a "green New Deal" to boost the economy and tackle climate change.

The Agency's chairman, Lord Chris Smith, said there should be a "comprehensive" strategy by the Government to invest in energy efficiency in homes and power generation from renewable sources such as wind and solar.

Bishop of Birmingham David Urquhart spreads the 'green gospel'

For the first time in history, city Christians are willing to think about everything from the coffee they drink to the gifts they consume – all in the name of the planet.

And the leader of Birmingham’s Anglican community thinks this is no bad thing as it’s important for everyone, no matter their faith, to address environmental issues.

Aramco drops $1.2bn Dammam project as crude prices plummet

DUBAI: Saudi Arabian Oil Co, the world’s largest oil company by production, shelved plans to upgrade its aging onshore Dammam oil field at a cost of $1.2bn amid falling oil prices, people familiar with the plans said.

In a statement emailed on Saturday, Saudi Aramco informed companies interested in developing the field that the “requisition has been canceled,” the people told Zawya Dow Jones.

Thomas Homer-Dixon: Deflation's big game

Most policy-makers and commentators understand that deflationary cycles are self-reinforcing. But few grasp another key characteristic: Deflationary cycles are, at their core, what social scientists call a collective action problem. And this characteristic has important implications for how we should respond.

Kurt Cobb: Timing is everything

Rushing to build an entirely new energy infrastructure may indeed not result in an optimal system and may saddle us with technology that will likely be superseded. Witness the efficiency gains in wind generators and the far greater knowledge we have today about where to deploy them compared to, say, 20 years ago. A gradual energy transition would clearly be much better in many ways.

The key question is whether we have the time for said gradual energy transition. Should the analogy be the computer revolution that took from the end of World War II to the middle of this decade to make ownership of a home computer all but universal in the United States? Or should the analogy be the American entry into World War II which led to a command economy directed by the federal government with the aim of winning the war?

"Hedging is a waste of time," UBS analyst tells airlines

Singapore (Platts)-- The world's airlines should stay away from trading oil derivatives and hedging in general because the exercise had proven to be "a waste of time," the head of Asia transport research at Swiss bank UBS, Damien Horth, told a meeting of the world's airlines in China late last week.

"I would be of the view that hedging is a waste of time," said Horth. "Most of the hedging I have seen in the last two to three years has been speculative."

Venezuela Calls for Million-Barrel OPEC Cut This Year

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela will call on the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to reduce oil output by 1 million barrels before year-end, Energy and Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said.

Nigerian militants threaten chaos in western delta

LAGOS, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Nigerian militants threatened to bring chaos to the western Niger Delta by interrupting shipping and attacking oil and gas facilities run by U.S. energy giant Chevron unless a new military commander was removed.

The Ijaw Youth Leaders Forum (IYLF) said it wanted Brigadier General Wuyep Rimtip, commander of the joint military taskforce in the western delta who has taken a tougher line than his predecessor on criminality, transferred immediately.

"He has woken the peaceful sleeping dogs of the Niger Delta," the forum said in an emailed statement.

Russia's Gazprom says could sue Ukraine over gas debt

LIMA (RIA Novosti) - Gazprom has prepared documents to take legal action against Ukraine over its unpaid gas debt, a senior official at the Russian energy giant said, adding a compromise would be the better option.

Shippers seek naval blockade of Somali coast

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Shipping officials from around the world called for a military blockade Monday along the coast of Somalia to intercept pirate vessels heading out to sea.

Peter Swift, managing director of the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners, said stronger naval action — including aerial and aviation support — is necessary to battle rampant piracy in the Gulf of Aden near Somalia.

The consequences of low oil price

At first glance, we should celebrate lower energy costs. However, the short- term benefits of lower costs only postpone the world's long-term energy concerns.

A recent report from Wood Mackenzie found that more than four out of five oil refinery construction projects since 2005 have faced cancellation or hold-ups due to falling oil prices.

These projects, which take two to seven years to complete, are essential to meet the future energy demand of the world.

Fall in oil price getting "dangerous": Total CEO

PARIS (Reuters) - The sharp drop in the price of oil is worrying and could hinder investment in the industry, Total Chief Executive Christophe de Margerie said on Sunday.

"I think it is beginning to get dangerous. I think that ... we are getting to a level that will brake investment in a sector that is crucial," Margerie told LCI television.

Natural gas from U.S. shale could double

WASHINGTON (UPI) -- An energy association said Friday that production of natural gas from shale deposits in the United States could be doubled over the next decade.

The Natural Gas Supply Association said its calculations indicated that 25 percent of U.S. natural gas demand could be satisfied by the exploiting shale beds located in Appalachia, the Barnett Permian Basin of Texas and other areas of the nation.

Now is time to get energy equation right

The sudden fall in oil prices sure seems like a good deal. Please, don't be fooled. This temporary reprieve won't last. Sooner or later, the lure of cheap oil will vanish as the world economy begins to recover and sends the price of gasoline spiraling up due to increased demand. It has happened before and it will happen again.

Chavez Says Global Crisis Concerns Him More Than Oil Prices

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he's more concerned about the global financial crisis than the falling price of oil, which accounts for 90 percent of the South American country's exports.

Chavez said the price of oil is ``unpredictable'' right now. Venezuela is prepared to withstand the recent drop in crude oil prices, the president said after casting his ballot today in Caracas for the country's state and municipal elections.

Raymond J. Learsy: Oil Piracy, OPEC, Saudi Arabia, You and Me

With the highjacking of the Saudi oil tanker SIRRIUS STAR and its 2 million barrels of oil the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia Prince Saud al-Faisal was moved to comment "Piracy like terrorism is a disease which is against everybody and everybody must address it together." Spoken in the best Saudi parlance to which the most generous translation one could ascribe is, "Uncle Sam (with 20 plus ships operating in the Persian Gulf to east Africa including three super-carriers, the USS Abraham Lincoln, USS Ronald Reagan and USS Theodore Roosevelt) let me hold your jacket while you go ahead and tackle this mess for us, and when you've done what you've had to do, don't forget to thank us for helping you forgo a cleaning bill for your jacket."

The case for electric transportation

Why electricity is currently cheaper than oil for transportation. How electric cars would spur economic growth.

Does the car parking space levy make sense?

YES says CIARÁN CUFFE , who argues that Ireland's commuting patterns are not sustainable and the levy is one of a range of measures that will help reduce congestion and cut carbon emissions.

NO says CONOR FAUGHNAN, who states the levy is so poorly thought through that it will be a nightmare to administer and will not achieve its stated aim of reducing car use.

Lloyds TSB on... sustainability

We have a strategic six-step process in place. The six areas include resource efficiency, stakeholder engagement, risk management and new business. Each is examined along the three tenets of us as a business, the communities we operate in, and the environment.

Radical producers go free-range on farm policy

Joel Salatin is a small farmer with a big problem. Everything he wants to do is against the law or runs afoul of the "food police."

No, he isn't growing anything illegal.

His farm is not much different than farms in the olden days, when food was produced organically and sold locally, before the advent of industrial food processes and layers of government bureaucracy.

Fuel from food? The feast is over

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) — In future years we may look back at the Great Mexican Tortilla Crisis of 2006 as the time when ethanol lost its vroom.

Right or wrong, that was when blame firmly settled on biofuels for the surge in food prices. The diversion of American corn from flour to fuel put the flat corn bread out of reach for Mexico's poorest.

Two years later, the search is on for ways to keep corn on the table rather than in the gas tank. Moving away from food crops, the biofuel of the future may come from the tall grass growing wild by the roadside, from grain stalks left behind by the harvest, and from garbage dumps and dinner table scraps.

The right to eat: Earth faces starvation

More people – less food. This is what the world is heading into: millions are already dying from hunger, and this figure is set to increase tenfold if food and agriculture policies of mankind stay the same.

'Brown clouds' stir Asian conspiracy storm

MUMBAI - A controversial United Nations report claiming "atmospheric brown clouds" generated by Asia are harming the world's climate, agriculture and health has created a storm of controversy in India, which has slammed it as part of Western pressure on Asia's efforts to counter global warming.

Coal's return raises pollution threat

Britain is poised to expand its coal mining industry, despite fears that the move will lead to a rise in climate change emissions and harm communities and the environment.

Climate change may push more Vietnamese below poverty line

HANOI -- Vietnam is among the world's ten countries most vulnerable to climate change, which threatens to reverse the gains the countries has made in poverty reduction, the local newspaper Youth reported on Monday, citing a new report by Oxford Committee for Famine Relief (Oxfam).

Cities must curb emissions to meet goals: report

OTTAWA - Consumption habits and energy use in Canada's cities must change dramatically to meet climate change goals established by the Harper government, says a new report to be released on Monday.

The research, produced by a coalition of stakeholders from industry groups, environmental organizations and the government, noted that nearly half of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions are coming from sources in cities, and that these urban communities could play a significant role in building a new economy if the right policies are in place.

The solution to energy security: Work

America needs to enact a National Economic and Energy Security (NEES) work program. This would be an opportunity for the government to partner with business to create jobs, upgrade our infrastructure, move quickly toward energy independence, and grow the economy in all sectors. Three stages to the proposed NEES work program would help manufacturing companies and create jobs.

sounds like the ccc with a little looting of the treasury on the side. the wpa with halliburton as manager.


I see one rather large flaw with Stage 1. The gov't can pay to retool plants and hire all those folks to build new drilling equipment but he question would remain: who will buy all this equipment? I work in the oil patch and see daily there is no pressing need for more equipment. An occasional local shortage due to increased activity over he last couple of years. But the key problem now is the lack of skilled workers for the drilling contractors and service companies. The latest oil price drop and credit tightness has caused a major contraction in drilling activity. The industry solution is standard and been utilized for decades: cut back and lay off staff. The gov't the philosophy of "If we build it they will use it" is seriously flawed.

If they think throwing money at our problems they should throw it at alternatives IMO. I doubt they'll be effective at it but at least it has some positive possibilities.

I have a Kuwaiti friend who told me a story about his first job. He was brought to an office where they dragged in a new desk and chair to add to the dozens of others. A report of some sort would come in to the room and each person had to read then sign it. Soon it became obvious that none of the others read it so he asked about that and they said that the same reports are circulated over and over. In the months he was there they kept dragging in desks adding people until the room was packed then they expanded to another office.

He said that very soon this situation became so disheartening that he begged his family to send off to American university. He said he knows that if he goes back he will likely be promoted to the guy who brings in the report.

Obviously, there are many real positions in Kuwait but in much of the wealthy OPEC countries there is make work which is more detrimental to the human spirit than not working.

IMO over half the jobs in the developed world, perhaps 2/3s of jobs are makework. The FIRE industries, finance, insurance, realestate for example.

We need to get more creative in coming up with legitimate ways of occupying our time to deal with the massive unemployment that is starting to happen.

Give people back their dignity.

Getting people to work seems to require getting rid of machines, and a return to the pre-industrial age. Everyone agrees we don't want that (except Derek Jensen, etc. -- but he flies around on airplanes, so we can't take him too seriously.)

At first, we were told that machines wouldn't cause unemployment, they would increase efficiency. And they did.

Then we were told that machines had made so much stuff that we could all join the Leisure Class. Trouble is, we got leisure but no money, and the stuff piled up but no one could buy it.

So we had the Great Depression. Terminated, apparently, only by the wartime command economy --

Then they invented the "information society" because it was time to stop fighting and so they started a Cold War to do something with all those active minds. On the civilian side, there was still not all that much to do, so they invented "Foundations" to give "grants" and a new class of work arose-- Grant Writing. The successful grant applicants got some money and produced some stuff. Lots of reports and studies that no one ever looked at-- just like Kuwait?

All that activity produced the need for office buildings and computers and such, but what was actually going on in all those millions of offices in all the high rises of the cities of the world?

A few cartoon strips give us insight into the cubicle world-- but mostly its pretty isolating and lonely, I would guess.

But then, all that turned out to be built on gas-inflated seafoam, and it is all collapsing back into the ocean. It was such a pretty dream. I haven't really found the flaw yet, though there are a number of candidate flaws, of which "greed" might be the leading contender.

Good points.
Greed though is simply human nature and there are degrees of greed which vary from harmless to disastrous.

Who in the fifties or sixties dreamed that cell phones, Ipod's, cheap airfares, supermarkets, fast food, color television and commuting 40 miles a day from the suburbs would be as everyday as eating breakfast?
The only good thing to develop was the internet and it has come too late.

Basic human nature is to first establish our security....food, clothing and shelter and we achieve that to varying degrees of excess. After that we are basically pleasure seeking creatures. A major problem is that what "makes us happy" appears to have grown exponentially with the continuing availability of cheap energy.

What made us happy in the fifties or sixties or one hundred years ago was certainly far less energy intensive that what is expected now.

Like those things I mentioned above, they are all a part of our "developed/developing world" lifestyles.

The only way to curb our excesses is to drastically reduce our expectations of what we regard as being essential for us and our offspring to be happy.

Human nature will of course tell each individual to expect someone else to bear the "inconvenience".
I suspect there is no chance of an orderly powerdown.

I could not agree more, Antidoomer, but the Obama plan is idiocy. The building needs to be in things that will:

1. give people work, and the more the merrier
2. reduce consumption of fossil fuels
3. increase renewable energy generation

To that end, pay/help pay for improvements in efficiency/micro power generation improvements in every household. A large number of people would have to be trained to do design, building and installation of these projects. The would not do all the work, but help private citizens/communities to do this. This would provide a huge number of jobs, would make transition to an renewable electric system faster and more affordable as well as saving fossil fuels, and build community connections.

Rather than build roads (some money repairing what we have is OK, I suppose, particularly in cities) we should be building electrified mass transit - both short and long-haul. Obviously this would employ large numbers of people, but also would reduce consumption of oil in the long term by a large amount.

A massive back-to-the-earth movement to promote sustainable agriculture would do wonders. Natural farming methods act as carbon sinks. Small farms/"victory gardens" would ensure the food supply for the entire population - as well as shutting down Monsanto and their ilk. Further, large amounts of land could be cultivated using natural methods and the food exported, helping with the US trade deficit.

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

And all this would cost less, in the long run, than any form of BAU while at the same time creating communities, giving us a chance to avoid globally catastrophic climate change and moving in the direction of sustainable, steady state economics.


what does antidoomer's post have to do with obama's policy ?

and since you posted that it (obama's plan)amounts to idiocy, please tell us about it.

wouldn't your 1) work against your 2) ? unless you meant give people work tending gardens.

what does antidoomer's post have to do with obama's policy ?


and since you posted that it (obama's plan)amounts to idiocy, please tell us about it.

Involves growth as a given, for one, and too much focus on roads, for two. Etc.

Google it.

wouldn't your 1) work against your 2) ? unless you meant give people work tending gardens.

No. Why would you think so?


Curt Cobb in the highlighted article here says, "The key question is whether we have the time for said gradual energy transition."

A more important key question is: is there an energy transition to make?

The 1977 National Academy of Sciences study, “Energy in Transition 1985-2010.” http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11771&page=R1 concluded that the transition required the development of liquid fuels or storage batteries that could store much energy, like diesel or gasoline. Since 1977, no major advances have been made in these respects.

Kenneth E. Boulding (a NAS study panelist) made the following critique of the 1977 NAS study (page 617):

“In preparing for the future, therefore, it is very important to have a wide range of options and to think in advance about how we are going to react to the worst cases as well as the best. The report does not quite do this. There is an underlying assumption throughout, for instance, that we will solve the problem of the development of large quantities of usable energy from constantly renewable sources, say, by 2010. Suppose, however, that in the next 50, 100, or 200 years we do not solve this problem; what then? It can hardly be doubted that there will be a deeply traumatic experience for the human race, which could well result in a catastrophe for which there is no historical parallel.

It is a fundamental principle that we cannot discover what is not there. For nearly 100 years, for instance, there have been very high payoffs for the discovery of a cheap, light, and capacious battery for storing electricity on a large scale; we have completely failed to solve this problem. It is very hard to prove that something is impossible, but this failure at least suggests that the problem is difficult. The trouble with all permanent or long-lasting sources of energy, like the sun or the earth’s internal heat, is that they are extremely diffuse and the cost of concentrating their energy may therefore be very high. Or with a bit of luck, it may not; we cannot be sure. To face a winding down of the extraordinary explosion of economic development that followed the rise of science and the discovery of fossil fuels would require extraordinary courage and sense of community on the part of the human race, which we could develop perhaps only under conditions of high perception of extreme challenge. I hope this may never have to take place, but it seems to me we cannot rule it out of our scenarios altogether.”

Now 30 years later, there is still no indication that we can make the transition.

When I read this mass study in 1981, I knew we were in trouble, as I saw no way to make any transition.

The only hope would be extreme energy conservation and use of oil only for food production and distribution.

Otherwise, we would run off a cliff. We are now off that cliff. Peak Oil is now.

Kenneth Boulding's comments still ring true today. Storage is still a major problem, but one which is also tied into the fact that most of society still understands little about energy and our predicament. We've learned quite a bit about capturing and using renewable energy from the technical point of view and we've learned ways to use energy more efficiently as well. But, the public perception is still based on the fossil fuel model of consumption, especially the suburban model of living, which has a tremendous impact on out economy. What can be done is not what is being done and what can be done won't be the same sort of development path which has dominated the U.S. for the past decades.

Bolding's comment that we can't discover that which isn't there is not understood among the general public, which has been conditioned to think that science and technology will continue to bring forth newer and better gadgets to meet our needs. Our political class (mostly lawyers) exhibit similar lack of understanding, apparently thinking that all which is needed to solve a problem is a new law or regulation. The trouble is, the laws of nature can not be changed by man. Most economists also appear to have little understanding of this reality, as they assume that "growth" will occur as the result of their efforts. But, growth of material consumption on our finite planet must eventually reach limits and after that, begin to decline, even more on a per capita basis with population increasing.

As much as these ideas have been kicked around for more than 30 years, one wonders just what it would take to get these thoughts into the heads of our government and the common man. Well, one way might be for one of the car companies to go bankrupt, which would have a major impact on NASCAR and the culture of mindless consumption which it feeds. NASCAR teams are very expensive and without support from industry, they can't function. We can only hope for better times.

E. Swanson

We've all been surrounded by so much energy for generations now, and we simply cannot see it. To get in a 5000lb vehicle and go hurtling off at incredible speeds across hundreds of miles - this is access to an unimaginable amount of energy for most of human history. But to us, it is nothing. Yet there are very few primary sources of energy on earth, and we must ultimate return to using those in real time, de-rated by our limited ability to harvest and store them. I believe that's a hell of a lot less than we've all gotten used to, especially as we've gotten so used to just using the cheap, easy and concentrated stored solar energy of fossil fuel.

I know that lawyers are not stupid, and I know that "the common man" is capable of far more than is usually demanded. You question "one wonders just what it would take to get these thoughts into the heads of our government and the common man" has already been answered by the media and advertising establishment.

They have made people worry compulsively about body odor and germs on their kitchen counters, and they have made people completely indifferent to the perils of nuclear holocaust. That sort of power is available to make people wake up to the new energy regime, but it is still being misused.

There are a lot of explanations for this -- the "corporations" own the media, etc. But the fact remains, if you want something done, you have to get to people's core beliefs and modify those, and the advertising industry has the most practical knowledge of this.

We need more discussion of how to steer the advertisers and the media -- function will follow form if we succeed.

"...the advertising industry has the most practical knowledge of this."

them and the cia and kkkarl rove and the gop.

Industry spends 100s of millions of dollars to undermine markets. And when they turn to selling a candidate, they do the same thing. They want uninformed consumers to make irrational choices... So you undermine democracy pretty much the same way you undermine markets. That's the nature of an election when it's run by the business world and you'd expect it to be like that. There should be no surprise there. - Chomsky on DemocracyNow! 2008-11-24

cfm in Gray, ME

Agree completely.

However, they have the tools-- they just use them for anti-social ends.

Can't that be changed?

If it can't, the human species has a fatal, dead-end flaw. I guess I choose to believe that we can use our psychological knowledge in pro-social ways, but I guess that would have to be considered a "hope", and what Derek Jensen would call a narcotic.

Your attack on NASCAR folk is unfair.

The elite yacht club, jet-set, and travel folks like me have used up billions of barrels of oil more than the poor NASCAR folk.

Look at the hundreds of thousands of cabin cruisers and gas/diesel guzzling "yachts" and "sailboats" with twin 500 hp engines. Look at the private jets and prop aircraft. Look at the millions of vacations to Europe, Greece, Far East, look at all of the big Mercedes/BMW/Suburban/Toyota/Hummer/ and soccer mom SUV's, look at the jets trips to Hawaii and the Virgin Islands. And my month is Spain, driving from place to place :) Ahhhhhhhh, I just need some more $$$$ and I'll do it again. Wow! Look at all of the tony fashion magazines and stores and the enormous houses in the suburbs....... and I could go on for pages...............

Let's not pick on poor people.

When I was 17 I owned a used 1952 Jag XK-120 and burned up the highways and have never stopped :).

I knew about Peak Oil when I was 10 years old, as my dad worked for Atlantic Richfield as a lab technician and he and I knew what was happening then. I've conserved and recycled, but hey, let's get real-- the folk here in the USA use 10X the oil that most poor folk do.

We're all guilty, not just the poor NASCAR folk.

My next trips: driving from here in the State of Veracruz to the Yucatan, Chiapas, and Oaxaca.

Next year, if I get the $$$$, it's off to Greece, Italy, Turkey :)

We're all guilty, not just the poor NASCAR folk.

Maybe so but some of us are more guilty than others and unrepentant bastards like you more so than the rest, hopefully by some stroke of cosmic justice folks like you will get your just rewards. Unfortunately, I'm aware that the universe just doesn't work that way, so party on dude!

The 1977 National Academy of Sciences study, “Energy in Transition 1985-2010.”

It's actually really interesting to look at their projections for today and compare.

For example, their estimate of energy sources available to the US in 2000 under the "enhanced supply" assumptions are (in quads):

  • Oil: 19
  • Gas: 15
  • Coal: 37
  • Nuke: 30
  • Renew: 13
  • Total: 114

The actual consumption by source for 2000 was:

  • Oil: 38
  • Gas: 24
  • Coal: 23
  • Nuke: 8
  • Renew: 6
  • Total: 99

Roughly speaking, the prediction was that oil&gas availability would plummet, and it didn't. Without that, other sources stayed relatively low. (It's interesting to note that energy consumption was 10-15% lower than predicted, despite a population ~10% higher than estimated.)

the transition required the development of liquid fuels or storage batteries that could store much energy, like diesel or gasoline. Since 1977, no major advances have been made in these respects.

"Battery systems have undergone significant improvements over the past 25 years."

It would appear that the Journal of the Electrochemical Society disagrees with you.

One likely reason is the substantial level of development in rechargeable batteries, including not only new chemistries (NiMH and Lithium), but continued refinements to new and existing chemistries. Improvements in battery technology have made electric and hybrid-electric cars viable replacements for the internal combustion engine for huge numbers of people, not to mention enabling other technologies such as electric bicycles (of which more will be sold in China this year than cars in the US).

There are options available today that were not available in 1977, and were not forseen. One example of that is how the report includes an entry for solar but not for wind, despite the fact that wind energy is currently much larger, cheaper, and commercially viable, and last year generated about 200TWh.

That doesn't mean their findings should be ignored, of course, but it does mean that they're far from conclusive.

For nearly 100 years, for instance, there have been very high payoffs for the discovery of a cheap, light, and capacious battery for storing electricity on a large scale; we have completely failed to solve this problem.

I would argue otherwise.

For bulk storage, pumped hydro is about 70% efficient, and can store enormous amounts. For portable storage, lithium-ion is light and dense enough to make electric and hybrid-electric vehicles with essentially the same characteristics as oil-powered ones.

Sure, it would be nice to have 90% efficient bulk storage instead of 70%, and batteries that are 1lb/mile instead of 5lbs/mile, but those are differences of convenience, not of necessity.

Fundamentally speaking, current tech can replace oil. The only issue is building out that tech fast enough.

Well, the fundamentals are there in some respects, but there is also the issue of affordability and durability. For example, I don't find currently available Li-ion batteries such as are used in notebook computers very encouraging. They're often toast inside of a year, they respond very poorly to deep discharge, and they're bloody expensive. Oh, and the fire issue is perhaps not quite fully solved (so it's hard to understand why the FAA allows them on passenger airplanes when much more innocuous items are forbidden even on cargo airplanes.)

Hi Pitt,

A heavy battery powered truck goes 40 mph on the level for 100 kms before needing a recharge that takes for 4-6 hours.

If the truck had to go up ONE steep hill for 2 kms, it would reduce the 100 kms to about 50, a guess.

We have not made great advances in batteries.

While improvements in battery storage haven't been great as hoped for, there's been major improvements in electronics. In your example, that truck going up the hill would likely be going back down the hill at some other point, thus, the potential energy added to the truck while going up hill could be recovered on the downhill side of the trip. Much of that energy could be returned to the batteries with electric braking. Even though there would not be a 100% return, the result would be much less energy used than you suggest.

E. Swanson

In addition to the considerations you mention, some bright sparks are even looking at regenerative shock absorbing suspension!

A while down the road, of course, but how neat is that?

Something tells me this is not sustainable...

Fed Pledges Top $7.4 Trillion to Ease Frozen Credit

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. government is prepared to lend more than $7.4 trillion on behalf of American taxpayers, or half the value of everything produced in the nation last year, to rescue the financial system since the credit markets seized up 15 months ago.

Surreal is an understatement-and the dutiful MSM still pretends that this will be a "loan". Only 296 times the request made by the formerly Big 3. Only 7400 times a headline grabbing guv support program for wind power (that would have to be debated for months).

The image in my mind is a 1972 Ford LTD jumping off a cliff at 90 mph. The moment the wheels leave the ground the engine races and the tires spin effortlessly ever faster. The passengers likely scream in terror as the car begins to flip in the air, eventually settling upside down while free-falling to the valley floor below. Perhaps there is a moment of serenity, when the screaming stops, a short prayer is offered, and then...

I've been around and I've seen some things
People moving faster than the speed of sound
Faster than the speeding bullet
People living like Superman
All day and all night
And I won't say if it's wrong or if it's right
I'm pretty fast myself
But I do have some advice to pass along
Along in the chorus of this song

Better not look down, if you want to keep on flying
Put the hammer down, keep it full speed ahead
Better not look back, or you might just wind up crying
You can keep it moving, if you don't look down
(B.B. King - Better Not Look Down)

I have to say, the more I see of the economists, financiers and treasury 'addressing' of the finance community breakdown - the more I think they really don't have a clue what's happening.

I get the feeling they are all working on a 'lever' view of life. Pull this lever here and this number over here goes up. Every approach to the gumming up of the works seems predicated on this. Often with an air of hope rather than certainty. Because they were taught that interest rates were connected to growth they merrily yanked away on the lever in the belief that things would change. However a moment's thought would have told them that the system has changed because of the way the system of self-delusion had broken. There's no connection any more.

Now we will have the 'financial stimulus' lever being yanked in the hope that will avoid the 'deflation' output - itself in the belief that that would be a highly negative output to be avoided.

Nobody seems to have a grasp of the big picture or how the system has changed and what that means. Fake money is being thrown around without any firm grasp of consequences.

What is the impact of this for peak oil?

Well its two-fold at least:

1) The collision between the global economy and declining oil availability will occur against a backdrop of an economy that's not working, and is probably still depressed. If you expect big investments; forget it.

2) The evidence is that governments and finance are incapable of actually seeing the big picture, even when their lives depend on it. Its probably wrong to believe that they will recognise a peak, or that they will take rational approaches to deal with it. Instead they will take that 'lever' view of life as their guide.

Therefore we can 'wargame' how it plays out, since all the players are understood. We already have a good view of the physical quantities, we know what the markets are, and we know the mental state of the governments. Options have been closed down sufficiently that we can now predict the forward path of the global system.

If you want a picture, it's the charge of the WWI cavalry brigades in an age of tanks and machine guns.

I get the feeling they are all working on a 'lever' view of life.

It's called 'operant conditioning' and, ironically, the process of undoing the conditioning is called 'extinction.'

700 billion here, 700 billion there, and pretty soon we're talking about real money :)

from where are they going to get that enormous sum?

from where are they going to get that enormous sum?

Fire up the printing presses.

i was afraid somebody would say that.
printing 7 trillion would flood the market with money. at the end of it all the real value would be only 2-3 trillion (just guessing)

In a deflationary situation firing up the presses may not be that bad an idea. But what needs to be included is a strong sense of equity in where the money goes. If the money goes to jobs for the unemployed and into greater public services, more teachers and police officers for instance, as well as buying shares of banks and auto companies.

from where are they going to get that enormous sum?

For the time being it's coming mostly from foreign investors, both foreign governments and foreign private investors. American investors have also sold investments in foreign countries and the dollars repatriated. Some of this repatriated money, with the dominant "flight to safety" mood, has probably also wound up in t-bills. Brad Setser layed it out in a recent post:

To complete the picture I added short-term t-bill purchases by private (foreign) investors to the long-term purchases and short-term official (foreign government) purchases. Total (foreign)Treasury purchases over the last 3 months totaled $214 billion. That’s huge.

Combining that inflow with $92 billion in net sales of foreign assets by American investors implies that the “flight to Treasuries” and “deleveraging” combined to provide about $300 billion in net financing to the US.


For the month of September, foreigners of all types bought $111 billion in U.S. t-bills. The Chinese government alone, in its drive to keep its currency from appreciating relative to the dollar, scooped up some $40 billion in short-term U.S. treasuries in the month of September.

The trillion dollar question: How long will foreigners continue to buy t-bills? If foreigners stop buying t-bills, and Americans run out of foreign assets to sell, that means Americans have to start living on what they produce. (Actually less than what they produce, because they will still have to service the outstanding debt, so their consumption will be production less debt service.)

And as Stetser points out our situation is fraught with risk: "The rising stock of short-term bills held abroad does potentially leave the US more exposed to a rollover crisis."

Leanan -

As the US government itself is many trillions of dollars in debt, it is in no position to lend anything to anybody.

It is, however, in a position to print $4.7 trillion of new money, and that is what it will do, even if the resultant inflation beggars those increasingly rare Americans how have somehow managed to save money.

It is painfully obvious that people who run the Fed and the Treasury are totally of, by, and for the banking industry. The pros and cons of the possible $25 billion GM bailout notwithstanding, I think it is quite revealing how these people poured many times that amount into the financial sector with blinking an eyelash yet endlessly agonize over the GM bailout.

I think Kevin Phillips was quite right in saying that the financialization of the economy is one of the early signs of an empire slipping into decline.

According to the Homer-Dixon article America better ramp up its consuming big time or else the rest of the world will turn its back on us.

Problem is if we debase the dollar to accomplish this the rest of the world will turn its back on the dollar.

I don't see an out here.

"I think Kevin Phillips was quite right in saying that the financialization of the economy is one of the early signs of an empire slipping into decline."

And also an increase in bureaucracy and paperwork (which is the sure sign of corporate death)

Yes, no paperwork is why Countrywide succeeded.

Something tells me this is not sustainable...

It isn't supposed to be sustainable, Leanan. This is an endgame move; meant to close out the field and snatch everything possible. Each time there is no resistance, they grab an order of magnitude more.

It's a deliberate bankrupting of the country - the globe actually - to insure that the wealthy keep as much as possible and to foreclose all avenues for real change [the faux hope/change stuff they'll let continue]. To make it as difficult as possible to reclaim any of that wealth for the average Dick and Jane.

I don't think I'm halfway as cynical as I should be; after all, what is going on we don't see? My POV is only an observation on what is happening repeatedly. Repeatedly. Repeatedly. How many times before a failure to recognize the established pattern is pathological behavior on our part? There's no problem here for the people walking off with everything. Except making sure we don't get antsy. A little hope/change dust power seems to help with that.

cfm in Gray, ME

At some point in time repetition becomes abusive. Yet there is something in people that make them go back time after time into the abusive situation with the "hope" that it will be "different" next time. I guess we are headed right back where we came from.

It may be a "deliberate bankrupting of the country" -- that's my take on it, too-- but it is also "perfectly legal". If you want to attack this corrupt system you will be marginalized unless you get violent, in which case you will be eliminated. You, not they, would be breaking the law.

BBC-1 has a great new series Little Dorritt. It hasn't come out on dvd yet, but lots of people are uploading torrents of the episodes. Dickens was a great champion of the underclass -- and he made lots of money doing so. I guess he served his masters as a sort of safety valve-- he never incited any sort of revolution. Nowadays we can shake our heads and murmur in agreement with him at how positively awful those Victorian financiers were----

"This is an endgame move"

A quick lesson in "fractional reserve banking". This is the basis of the current world banking system.

When someone deposits a dollar in a bank the banks are allowed to loan 10 dollars using the dollar as "leverage".
(This 10 to 1 ratio varies from country to country and among the various types of banks)

The 10 dollars was created out of nothing but the promise to pay it back in the future. The issue is that the borrower must also pay interest on the loan but that money DOES NOT EXIST!!

This means other people must take out loans to purchase enough of your products to pay back your loan AND THE INTEREST!
This is a "Ponzi Scheme" that must reset and zero out every once in a while so it can start over.

This is the "mother" of all resets!!

I don't think the fractional banking game in the U.S. is quite the same as a Ponzi Scheme. If the bank lends out the dollar you put in, but receives more as interest than what they pay you for the privilege of borrowing from you, then the bank makes money. When they leverage your dollar deposit and still pay you the same amount of intrest, they are essentially increasing the profit from the interest they charge on the folks who borrow from them.

In a Ponzi Scheme, the game depends on paying out a large return to the initial depositors, using the money from the next batch of greater fools. That game eventually fails when there are not enough new investors to keep up with the large payments to the early investors. In the case of banks, they are not paying out a large return to anybody except the stock holders, who may not be receiving much return on their investment either, most likely less than what a bond holder might expect.

Follow the money. I think that the big wealth transfers go to the corporate insiders, not the investors in common stock (in recent years that is).

E. Swanson

Yet surely there are gradations in the amount of gaming going on. Although fractional banking and the stock market don't qualify as full-fledged Ponzi schemes, they have many of the same characteristics. Instead of a Ponzi rapidly rising and then falling ONCE, the stock market can play over the course of years with a veneer of legitamcy given to it by the press. What if not a ratcheting Ponzi is the now almost daily ramp up and ramp downs in the DJIA? They are still trying to squeeze investors and everyone is playing along. I can only shake my head in wonder.


"When they leverage your dollar deposit and still pay you the same amount of interest, they are essentially increasing the profit from the interest they charge on the folks who borrow from them."

The point I am trying to make is the "money" used to pay the interest on the first loan will originate from other loans to other people which will require more loans to other people to pay the interest on the this layer of loans etc.... IAW an expanding economy/slow Ponzi.

It's time to reset to zero and start again (the survivors that is)!

And where did they get the money they're prepared to lend?

I think the question is quite simple - Do we. as a society, produce enough of value to support the cost of our collective lifestyle? You could pose that in terms of energy, or the supposed stand-in called money, but I believe the answer is a resounding "NO", not by a long shot. And if the answer is no, then none of this can work.

So take our tax dollars, give it to banks to loan to other banks to loan to our local governments - and ultimately ourselves - paying interest all the way. All the while highly placed people at the top of the system pull out unimaginable sums for their - well, for nothing.

I cannot shake the feeling today that someday soon there will be hell to pay. The situation cannot be "fixed", but the actions being taken will certainly make it worse. People do not understand what is happening and why, because they never got a proper education and are not equipped for critical thinking (they don't even realize they're supposed to be thinking for themselves), but they're scared and angry and looking for someone to blame. All that is needed is for someone to supply the target and the justification. That's just too easy - too much available power, too great an opportunity. Someone will be along any time now.

They'll come along once average people can't feed their kids. The welfare state has to collapse too, before things get really bad.

The U.S. government is prepared to lend more than $7.4 trillion on behalf of American taxpayers...

We could have rebuilt every slum and ghetto in America.

We could have built good schools and well stocked libraries in every neighborhood.

We could have provided universal health care.

But NOOOOO....

This is utterly disgraceful.

The problem is excessive debt; therefore, the solution, obviously, is more debt, more debt than any of us can possibly comphrehend.

I have tried mightily to understand this and yet I still do not understand. And yet those who got us in this mess, or themselves into this mess, will continue to pull down their 10 to 100 million dollar salaries.

It is said that banks like Citibank are too big too fail. No, they are too big to exist. No one private entity should have this much power over our future.

I would like to think that this is not going to end badly, yet I still have serious doubts.

Assorted public housing buildings have been constructed in slums. They quickly got trashed.

Well stocked libraries: I do not see all the seats full when I walk into libraries. I'd say there's a lack of demand.

Good schools: The buildings do not make the students smarter or more willing to study.

By recent standards it is starting out to be quite the cold winter here in the Northeast.

Some ski resorts have had their earliest opening days in about a decade and some models are indicating that very, very cold air is poised to reinforce the chill on into early December.

I’m wondering about the implications with heating oil and nat gas in the coming weeks – any problems anticipated if this cold hangs on for an extended period and the boilers have to keep cranking out the BTUs ?

With the widely reported stalling of international shipping due to vanishing demand and lack of credit, is the transnational oil shipping business somehow immune? If shipments of all kind are dropping off, is oil the exception? Assuming it is-assuming that deliveries will continue at any cost- what does that say about the so-called "energy independence" of the 21st Century economy?

Citigroup saved
Government will guarantee losses on more than $300 billion in troubled assets and make a fresh $20 billion injection.

The U.S. government on Sunday announced a massive rescue package for Citigroup - the latest move to steady the banking giant, whose shares have plunged in the past week.

Citigroup shares rose 56% in premarket trading Monday.

First, the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) will backstop some losses against more than $300 billion in troubled assets.

Second, the Treasury will make a fresh $20 billion investment in the bank. The government has already injected $25 billion into Citigroup as part of the $700 billion bailout passed by Congress in October.

$20B + $25B = $45 Billion. One bank. Thank God that in a capitalist society, the profits are privatized while the losses are forked over to the public. Citi's chareholders must be ecstatic...

Short of an intervention, which appears to be very unlikely, these guys are on course to do to the USA what they have already done to the shareholders of Citi, Lehman, AIG and many other firms.

Ugh, looks like another huge fascist bailout in order to socialize more private sector losses.* I can't tell if this $300 billion is included in the original $700 billion or is on top of that, does anybody know?

What continually astounds me about these things is the large price tags, hundreds of billions of dollars. To put that in perspective, it took us five or so years to spend ~$570 billion on the Iraq war. The entire yearly budget for the NSF is around $6 billion, and the EPA is around $7.2 billion, $1.3 billion of which is the Superfund. How can anybody argue that environmentalism hurts the economy when unnecessary wars and bailouts for poorly regulated banks cost just as much or more? To get up to these kinds of numbers for a yearly budget, you have to go all the way up to social security which is $624 billion per year. However, that pays for itself and is not paid for out of the general fund from income taxes and is not in debt. Bah!

* I don't use that term lightly, as we discussed when they bailed out AIG, the policy of U.S. lately seems to resemble most a national socialist economy.

Embezzlement isn't socialism-I think there is a common misconception that the owners of firms like Citi are making out like bandits at the expense of the USA taxpayer-that is simply not the case-the owners (shareholders) have been defrauded and now the taxpayers are being defrauded. There is nothing at all about this that is socialist.

The thing is that, at least in principle, European style socialism is motivated by the idea of putting in place measures that, by aiding individuals in some circumstances, increase the success of society as a whole (eg, building and health & safety codes, urban renewal grants, minimum wage, nationalised healthcare, etc). Now often it doesn't end up working like that, but that is at least the aim. It's unclear that the costs of having the American taxpayer backstop Citi's debts is better for American "society" than the costs spreading out from Citi's fall? If a domino run is likely to start either way then it hardly counts as socialistic.

You are absolutely right brianT the money is going to a short list of very wealthy few.

Many of whom are being given or already have top positions in the new administration of hope.


Anyone have a list of the folks who actually "get" all those trillions?

Actually the list you need is the one for bonus accounting.

I'm amazed that of 435 congressmen and 100 senators and hundreds of thousands of shareholders, a gazillion lawyers... nobody is going after the compensation money paid for bogus performance.

And their home address? Perhaps directions to the front door?

Those people have invested their stolen billions in Swiss banks.
The Swiss banks then invested the money in American T-Bills.
Which we have now printed another few trillion of.
It's almost funny.

All the Wall Street people who took home billions over the last 5 years.

Including one Henry Paulson, who left Goldman worth about 485 million. One of his big responsibilities there was creating and promoting the very same securitized credit products that have caused a big portion of this mess.

I think Bloomberg wanted to know this. Uncle Ben thinks it is "counterproductive".


What is happening in the US is outrageous even by Indian standards. We have looting here as well, but that pales in comparison to what is happening in the US now.

There ought to be a warning to people not to have children in the US (and probably in the entire world) as the children will be cleaning up after us. We have been pushing all problems into the future. That future is now knocking at the door. And we are trying to bribe it into going away.

Some questions that come to mind

a. Why is that great bastion of free market capitalism (at least on paper) cheer when Citi gets nationalized?
b. Where are they going to get this 7.4 trillion from? Just run the printing press?
c. Why is there absolutely no accountability? These guys should be in jail for grand larceny.
d. Are we going to scrape through this time by the skin of our teeth only to find ourselves absolutely smashed in 3-4 years?

Is there no feeling of outrage in the USA?


Thanks for the perspective.

The figures this fall are thrown around without regard to their actual size-I think this is lost on many. We are now conditioned it seems, and barely bat an eye at the numbers.

We are well on our way to inflation unknown for most our lifetimes. The appellation of Bernanke as "Helicopter Ben" has been justified.

I found out a little more about this one, the $25 billion is coming out of the first half of the $700 billion. The NYT has a nice table up of what's been spent and on whom.

And wait, there's more...

Bush: More rescues like Citigroup possible
The president says he told President-elect Obama about government rescue plan for bank.

President Bush said Monday that the first step toward economic recovery is to stabilize the financial system - and that the government may step in to help financial institutions again the way it did with Citigroup.

"This is a tough situation for America. But we will recover. The first step is to secure our financial system," Bush said after meeting with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. "If need be, we're going to make these kind of decisions to safeguard our financial system in the future."

Bush's statement came within 12 hours of an announcement that the federal government would step in to help Citigroup (C, Fortune 500), whose shares fell 50% last week on a loss of confidence.

Brother, can you spare a dime?

The guy literally sounds like a 5 year old kid carted out to make a kindergarten presentation, having memorized what he was told 5 minutes before.

Yeah - Obama said the same thing in his speech. So, now we have two five year olds?

Well maybe. I think of it more in terms of fossils. Both Bush and Obama may be brachiopods, but Bush is in Class Inarticulata, while Obama is in Class Articulata.

And the shells are different colors, too. That is supposed to make a difference.

And Pandit (rhymes with "Bandit") gets to keep his job. . .

It's not entirely clear to me that Pandit can undo the damage done by his predecessors.

I would like to get the opinion of people here at TOD. Oil has dropped from $140, to just below $50. I do not believe we have seen a 60% decrease in oil demand. So why did oil drop so much? Is it really about the availability of that last barrell of oil?

Today oil is up along with the market. I guess someone could explain todays rise as the good news about Citi raises the market, suggests future improve economic health, thus increased oil demand, thus increased price rise. But I don't believe it.

While I believe in PO and future decreasing supplies, any more I am believing that oil prices are completely decoupled from the fundamentals and that price is completely in the hands of either speculators or just large amounts of money moving around in the market.

Your thoughts?

As several people have pointed out, price responses are non-linear. I think that in the short term, the decline in demand has outpaced the long term decline in world net oil exports (which surprised me), but I anticipate that this situation will change, probably as soon as next year--due to a combination of involuntary net export declines + voluntary net export declines.

In any event, one could also argue, assuming an average price of $100 for 2008, that the average annual price has increased at about 20%/year in the past 10 years (from $14 in 2008). Even if we use a current price of $50, oil prices have increased at about 13%/year in the past 10 years. In same time frame, the GM stock price has fallen at about -34%/year, from $90 to about $3.

Thank you for the reply WT. I guess I am questioning the extreme price moves. I can understand a yoy price rise based on an average when say the price last year was 50, the high this year was 80, the low 60 which averages out at 70, a 40% rise yoy. But this year we went from (forgot last years price) to $140 back down to $50.

Posted previously but very helpful visualization

I'm no analyst. Thinking the premise here is that the extreme volitility in price moves exists precisely because of the supply tightness brought on by peak oil. There were some posts by Gail and Nate that compared the whale oil decline and I hearken back to WT and Khebab on that too.

BTW oil is up 8% today and I would not be surprized if the relative movements of the two curves is already reversing.

shawnott - Commodity pricing has always been a mystery to most people. One too many and the price can collapse, one too few and the the price can sky rocket.

Let's look at the one short model. You are the guide on a camping trip for 5 billionaires. You erred and only brought 4 rolls of toilet paper for them. So you decide to sell the toilet paper. Assume that they have all brought plenty of pocket money. The retail price is $1 a roll. What do you think the last two guys will offer for the one remaining roll, assuming no roll equals using leaves?

In the real world, consider an offshore drilling rig in deep water that is being leased by an operator for $600,000 per day, and which uses 3,000 gallons of diesel fuel per day. At what price per gallon of diesel fuel does the operator say "screw it" it is too high and I am going to shut the rig down and just eat the $600,000 per day cost? Okay, so that sets the upper limit of a marginal gallon of diesel, since that is never going to happen. That is, almost everyone else will have to give up using diesel before he does.

On the other side, one too many has the same problem, only in reverse. Picture the music stops game with 50 chairs and 51 people. If you are the one who does not get a chair, you are screwed. So, you have one extra barrel of oil that no one wants. Well, forget about the "fixed costs" [all of the costs to find the oil, drill the wells, put in the pipelines, etc., they are sunk costs that you cannot undo - but you owe the bank for 50% of them]. Look at your variable costs. These are the costs that you are now paying to pump the oil and to pay shipping/pipeline charges to get it to a refinery. They are probably $10 per barrel. So you can reduce your bank debt, and the bank insists that you do, as long as you sell the oil for more than $10. In theory, this can drive the price of oil towards that level as the refinery will take your extra oil over that of anyone who sells it for more. In effect, you are able to buy a chair from someone else [who is now in your position] leading to rapid declines, until someone with no debt, says screw it, I will shut in my production - and you just created OPEC!!

My own take on this is this

a. The US has too much waste built into it. 6-7 billion barrels a year for 300 million people. I think 2 GB/year can easily go out of the demand equation over the next 4-5 years depending on how poor people are at the end of the financial and economic crisis.

b. The US and most of the "developed" world would not be worse off with an average per-capita income (today's $) of $10000 vs the $30000 today but with a lower Gini coefficient (better distribution of income).

c. Supply may have peaked at 86 mbpd somewhere in 2005-2008. The exact date/year is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. However the big question is whether the demand of 86 mbpd was really sustainable or driven to a large extent by all the wasteful practices which in turn were driven by the loose fiscal and monetary policies of the US.

d. Hence the level of demand itself is going to be very uncertain over the next 3-4 years depending on how the economic crisis is going to play out.

e. peak oil puts a limit to the size of the world economy and all the luxuries we have been used to. I think these latter two will be reset to a lower base in the next few years.

f. The transition will be painful

g. I could be completely wrong.


And how do you plan to get a lower Gini coefficient on Wall Street and Washington without torches and ropes?

Good point. With all this nationalization, are there any caps on salaries and bonuses? Or is it more organized looting?


It doesn't take a 60% drop in demand to get a 60% drop in price.

The relationship between price and demand is not linear. In other words, it is not as simple as that you can calculate price as

Price = Demand * ConstantFactor

If there is a formula to predict price, which I seriously doubdt, that formula must be very very complex indeed with all kind of chaotic non-linear effects.

One thing I think about the current low price is that, even though price is down, people / businesses are not necesarily buying more oil. Thus the demand/suply imbalance persists and price keeps heading lower. It will continue to go lower until either supply side cuts down enough to catch up with falling demand, or demand picks up again, or both.

We've always understood that the issues of peak oil, climate change, economic collapse, and political collapse were intersecting at roughly the same time. In my opinion they are all based in the root cause of over-extending due to excessive exploitation of fossil fuel, but regardless the confluence of all these problems was bound to become very complex. It looks like the economic collapse is dominating now, and that's not really a surprise. Short term changes, especially in signals as polluted as the market price, really don't mean much.

I expect it will mask the effects of peak oil for quite some time - probably years. But it's hard to tell, as it will likely reduce any investment in alternatives of all kinds - sources, infrastructure, means of consumption, etc.

The oil prices from Yahoo should be updated to CLF09.NYM whenever anybody has a chance.

I do not usually post my efforts, but I am unsure if that is the wisest policy. Anyway, these are my weekend developments.

This an eMail I just sent out.

Just to keep you up to speed (I am a bit of a loss on how to handle these).

1) I will be presenting paper at TRB in DC January 12th. I plan to simply stay in DC (sleep in Baltimore) till we get a better President !

2) Got eMail, then talked, with production guy at Discovery Channel who "wants to help", unsure how. He helps make "How Things Work". (His father "teaches" Home Land Security at James Madison Univ.) One result is concept for
new Green Channel:

Use a common metric (Millennium Institute T21-USA model) and compare all the different plans for energy & environment (Pickens, Hirsch, Gore, bio-fuels, etc.) Use a common measuring tool (GDP/capita, CO2, oil consumption) for every plan over 30 years. Lots of funding for work at MI.

3) Called friend, found out that he is now co-chair for Energy & Climate sub-committee for Sierra Club-California chapter. He liked the plan comparison concept and agreed to push it. (also found that there is friction between DC HQ & California Chapter; [delete internal issues]).

Also liked idea of mass media and may get letterhead letter to Green Channel and other outlets.

4) Also got unsolicited offer of PR help from semi-retired media (biggest cred was starting up Daily Mail newspaper in Australia, against Murdock). Asked to talk more
later with him.

Best Hopes,

Alan Drake

The common metric is, I think, an important idea !

Nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come, or more accurately, as an idea whose time has once again come, too bad we abandoned functioning electric rail transportation in so many areas. Dallas, at one time, had close to 200 miles of electric streetcar lines plus an electric Interurban system. Only a small part of this system had been preserved, the McKinney Avenue system, and it is slowly being expanded, although DART is working as fast as they can on expanding the new light rail system.

IMO, Alan is asking, and answering, a fundamentally important question, to-wit, How did we provide for transportation in the past, with little or no oil input?

With Coal? And, before that with "Wood?" And, before that with "Oats" for the Horses?

So let's assume that you can buy a Volt with a daily 40 mile range on the battery.

Why would you need an electric streetcar?

Electric cars have many advantages, but they do not replace urban transit. Electric cars still gridlock roads and require parking spaces, stealing space from all other urban uses and consequently pushing all destinations farther apart, generating sprawl just as gas-powered cars do.

Electric streetcars, buses and light rail also take up
land. With continual stopping and starting they also cause congestion.
The parking situation in towns is atrocious because of the population density, though you could build a lot of parking structures for cars.
Subways and elevated trains are noisy and very expensive.
In the vast majority of cities less than 10% of trips are taken by mass transit.
Why should there be any cars in the city when you could use bicycles, ped-cabs?
I think that reducing population growth to zero or slightly negative will eliminate the need for urbanization and increased energy/food production in developed countries.

That's the real path to sustainability.

Streetcars need not take up extra land, just take two travel lanes from the rubber tires (that's what the French do, works like a charm).

Giving red light priority to streetcars and Light Rail reduces the impact of auto congestion on Urban Rail. Traveling in their own private lane also helps.

Less parking rather than more means more space for people, less for cars. Since I am a "people" and not a car, I like that :-)

Subways and elevated rail are cheaper (and can be quieter) than cars and trucks (and pollute FAR less).

Car centric cities have low transit use, but this can change.

Best Hopes for More Urban Rail,


I would imagine that a lot more folk could afford a street car ticket than a volt at $20-30,000 plus dollars. I would bet that $20,000 would buy a lot of rides.

Ticket sales cover less than 20% of street car operating costs, buses are a bit more at 25%. Say you take a one way ride for $2; that ride is really costing the public $10.
It's also the case that less than 10% of trips in urban areas are made by mass transit. Not many people carry their groceries on mass transit.

The main reason people don't use mass transit is that they consider that the slow transit time with all the stops is a waste of their time.

Therefore if you enforced a real low speed limit like 30 mph everywhere people would accept mass transit, but in that case bicycles would seem to make more sense.

There has to be a certain amount of public transport just for people who can't drive but a big expansion doesn't make a lot of sense IMO.

Fares plus ads cover 80+% of the operating and maintenance costs of the St. Charles Streetcar Line (which operates cars built in 1923/24). The Riverfront Streetcar Line bounces around 100%. The Canal Streetcar Line was expected to also be around 90% to 100% when Katrina hit.

I see grocery bags (and occasional washing) on buses and streetcars all the time.

The speed limit on divided streets in New Orleans is 35 mph and other streets 25 mph. 3% of residents commute by bicycle.

More people commute to work by public transit in DC than drive alone (add car poolers and cars still > public transit by a few %). In 1970 3% to 4% took the bus to work (all that was available back then). Add DC Metro and see a very different (and more energy efficient) city than what would have sprawled without.

DC Metro gets mid80% of O&M costs from fares + ads. Paratransit gets almost (well half) the public subsidy that DC Metro does (the city buses get most of the subsidy).

If DC Metro had followed the Japanese model and bought land around the stations for future development (rent in Japan), they would be making a large profit.

The key to Urban Rail economic viability is building a comprehensive system. Line 1 has limited ridership. Add Line 2 and Line 1 ridership increases (lowering unit costs). Add Line 3 and ridership on Lines 1 & 2 increases. Add Line 4 ...

Unlike roads, the more Urban Rail is used, the less it costs/unit.


# Other factors are accounting for paratransit separately, distance based fares, higher than give away fares and getting at least part of the land value increase around stations


Like Alan, I grew up in New Orleans. I can tell you how the city buses operated quit well without oil when I was a kid: they were electric. The street cars running on rails are nice but then you're back to big dollar construction projects to lay more rail. The buses ran on overhead cables. Not sure but I think they may have had back up diesel engines. Worked great. Didn't need to lay rails or spend a fortune on trains cars. Houston went that route with light rail. They probably could have built at least 5X the line miles if they had gone with the electric buses. Our LR isn't any faster: it's at street level and stops at the red light just like the buses would. All it did was replace an existing bus route. Folks don’t make that commute any faster now then they did 20 years ago. If we are going to switch our primary motor energy source to electric then the buses make so much more sense IMO.

Electric Trolley Buses vs. Streetcars.

ETBs use 4x to 5x the electricity per pax-mile of streetcars.

ETBs use "free" streets. Public Works can tell you that bus route streets deteriorate MUCH faster than other streets. Long term (strange concept for Americans) rail is cheaper to maintain that streets.

ETBs use 2 wires, streetcars 1 wire (rail return). More expensive to build and maintain.

ETBs last 12 years (FTA standard), rail cars 30 years (FTA standard).

Streetcars can (and should) operate mainly on their own ROW.

Streetcar tracks (see Portland) can be built for $300/ft.

Best Hopes for the Best Long Term Solution,


Interesting numbers Alan..thanks.

i did a linear regression on price vs t for the period 2002 through oct. '08. and the data fits fairly well with the eqn. p=12.9 + 1.05t. t is in months with an r^2 of o.84.
and this fit includes the wild fluctuations for the period 08'06 to 10'09.

something happened in august '06 that sent the price down for the balance of '06 and until about 11 '07 and then the price spike up to the infamous $147/ bbl. in july '08 and now down to the $ 50 range.

the residuals for this period look like a wild sin wave and if the trend continues look for a price of about $ 107 in may '09 and on up from there.

wheeeeeee ! this oil forecasting is easy.


I wish you would post more of your writings in a place where the public can see them. TOD Comments is a great place to get some thoughts out, but the ideas need more exposure.

TOD articles are one place. Energy Bulletin would be glad to post your work too.

I hope the paper you are presenting will be online.

Note that posts to the Web do not have to be long and detailed. We've found that a series of articles of a few hundred words apiece can be more effective than one long article.

I have that other TOD commenters like Bob Shaw (totoneila) will consider expanding their horizons too.

Bart Anderson
Energy Bulletin


You have my permission to repost anytime on EB any of my feeble texts [please see my Tiger Woods posting at the bottom].

Thanks Bob. I follow your comments when I make it over to DrumBeat. Unfortunately, I often am not able to read through the entire DrumBeat - my otherwise indulgent wife insists that I do thing with her from time to time.


I have twice sent in suggestions to Prof Goose for a TOD article based on this


without response. I could do an EB article instead (or both ?)

Best Hopes for Useful Public Works,


Thanks Alan. Prof Goose and the TOD editors may be overwhelmed, as I often am (I have been sitting on a submission from westexas for a couple of months ... but I'll get to it!)

We at EB would be interested in publishing some like your 2007 article. Would you want to update it? You can email us through the contact form at the EB website.

EB and TOD readers don't require an explanation of peak oil, so you can get right down to the specifics of electrification.

And actually I thought some of your posts at TOD have the right tone for the web - informal, clear, not intimidating.

One thing I suggest to potential writers is to get a personal blog and post things there first. It's easy to do. It provides a repository for your work. And it makes it easier for us editors since it gives us the option of linking to your work.


One thing I suggest to potential writers is to get a personal blog and post things there first. It's easy to do. It provides a repository for your work. And it makes it easier for us editors since it gives us the option of linking to your work.

Very much agreed. The comments of someone else's blog are a poor place to post anything you want anybody to be able to refer to later. They're nigh impossible to find again, and very difficult to link to.

DownSouth is another one I wish would get a blog. His long, detailed posts deserve more permanence than DrumBeat comments can give them.

Can Solix Cut the Cost of Making Algae by 90%?

The Durango, Colo.-based company, which can trace its lineage, in part, back to the algae projects at the National Resources Energy Lab in the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s, says it has come up with a way to lets CO2 essentially enter and swirl inside the tank in a relatively passive manner. As a result, Solix claims that it has cut the costs of growing algae by around 90 percent to 95 percent.

Great, so we need to generate more trash so we can burn it for energy.

All these trash-to-energy plants are obsolete already. We need to stop making the trash in the first place.

Next thing you know, we'll have programs discouraging recycling so that more of what could be reused will instead get burned. Oh. Wait...

cfm in Gray, ME

I see. So diesel in Portland Oregon is currently $2.60 per gallon because it is competing with biodiesel which is over $4 a gallon?

Yesterday, the filling station on my corner had gasoline (E10) at $1.77, and Diesel 57% Higher at $2.77.

I can't imagine why biodiesel would be over $4.00 gal in Portland (soybean oil is $0.33/lb. That should make for biodiesel in the $2.00 range (after tax credit.) Maybe there's not enough biodiesel to meet the existing mandates, thus leading to "scarcity" pricing.

Theantidoomer -

Getting the CO2 to the algae in the most cost-effective manner is largely a traditional mass-transfer problem. However, it only represents one component of the total cost of production.

So I am more than just a little bit skeptical of Solix's claim that better CO2 transfer will reduce the costs by over 90%.

The real quantum leap in improving the overall economics of fuel from algae will come when someone demonstrates a way to successfully grow high-lipid algae at a reasonably high rate in open ponds rather than in enclosed transparent bio-reactors or covered ponds. As there is about an order-of-magnitude difference in capital cost between the two methods, a successful open-pond method would represent a real break-through.

Whether that happens or not is open to question, as the highly specialized strains of high-lipid algae are prone to getting mugged by other naturally occurring microorganisms if not grown under carefully controlled isolated conditions.

I read that article also, seems they said they could lower the "growing costs" of the algae 90-95%. I wonder what was included, excluded, as "growing costs". Title appears misleading at best.

A look into the future today.

This scene has stuck in my mind ever since I read it. I can't help but project out to the despiration. I have been to some gleenings primarily of farming which I $upport and their is always a bit of urgency which increases with the number of people but this must have been gruesome.

"40,000 Swarm Farm To Gather Free Food"


Makes you wonder how the total cost of gasoline burned compared to the retail value of the food. Long,long ago I watched a field being gleened. Unless the farmers had a very inefficient harvest I suspect it was a net $ loss for the participants. Nice sentiment on the part of the farmers though.

Plattevile appears to be only 35 miles round trip from Denver. Round trip in a fuel efficient car, that's a gallon of fuel = $2.05 right now? That's small potatoes, if take home a few dozen big potatoes.

$2.50 X 40,000 = $100,000.00

Do you think there was a hundred thousand dollars worth of potatos in that already harvested field?

It could be that some people have more time than $$$...

Hello TODers,

As most would expect, 40,000 [400,000 soon?] of the urban poor desperately gleaning a golf course would yield far less usable biomass than a farmer's field. A hopeful sign of change:

GM ends 9-year endorsement deal with Tiger Woods

The cash-strapped company said in a statement that it is looking to reduce costs, and that Woods also wants more personal time as he expects his second child.
IMO, this presents a golden opportunity for John Deere to sign Tiger up for the plowing of golf courses and the introduction of Tiger's signature brand of Nike garden tools.

If home gardening, then relocalized permaculture is the fastest growing economic trend as we go postPeak: Tiger's financial advisors and the Nike marketing managers would be remiss in not pointing out this marketing opportunity to Tiger as the golf market shrinks along with our economic collapse.

Please email Tiger's website if you haven't already:


[The 'contact us' button is on the bottom of the webpage.]

I would hope that as Tiger's family grows: he will think more about saving Tigers + Woods + other species + food for his future generations. If his mindset can be changed: it could have global ramifications. Time will tell.

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

Some more [delusional?] thoughts:

I can think of no better way for Obama to signal to the 'Murkan & global masses that BIG CHANGES are required for postPeak mitigation than to have Tiger Woods plow up the White House lawn into a veggie plot, then moving the tractor to Augusta National {site of the Masters].

IMO, this would instantly make both Tiger & Obama into full-blown international heroes. Obama would probably have the highest approval ratings of any new Prez, and the sales of Tiger Tools would be so rapid that Tiger's net worth would double practically overnight.

I can picture Obama & Tiger saying to the media:


We are going postPeak in everything--we must all adapt. In earlier times, our tribes were forced into slavery--this WILL NOT happen again, to anybody. Everybody better get mentally adjusted to the idea of mutual cooperation, in all things, to save our little Blue Marble.

The White House veggies signal global changes, read Peakbooks and websites like TOD,EB,LATOC,Dieoff.org,etc. Tiger will now move on to plow Augusta National so that the rich homeowners that own this land can get started on learning to be Master Gardeners themselves. They WILL NOT force future generations of blacks, or any minority, into slave-tending these fields. Any workers hired will get the majority of the profits that their sweat & blood generates -- so let it be written. Any worker can demand to see the accounting ledgers to insure that equity & justice prevails fairly for all.

The friendly handshake of the future will be two well-caloused hands meeting in the joy of shared physical labor. The friendly future talk will occur on trains, and among the crowds on bicycles and SpiderBikes, NOT PERSONAL CARS.

The wheelbarrow crowds will sing as they easily transport the I/O-NPK one direction, and then again as they wheel harvested foodstuffs the other direction. If you doubt me: balance a bucket with five gallons of water on your head, then try to sing as you stagger along. We WILL NOT revert to the iconic pictures of moving things on our heads, or heavy loads on our backs-- we are smarter than that--we understand how simple tools like a bicycle with baskets, or a wheelbarrow can make life much easier.

We Will be moving to close the Circle of Life--Have you hugged your bag of NPK today? I-NPK, manufactured, or extracted, then primarily moved with FFs will get increasingly unaffordable--We Will be requiring everyone to have a compost pit as We Will be closing the landfills as former Pres. Clinton recommended.

Earlier today, I read a post on TOD entitled "IEA WEO 2008 - Wikipedia Megaproject Update" or something like that.
Now, I can't find that post anymore. Am I confusing something (reading and surfing too much all the time ...), or has that post disappeared?

They put it up, then took it down to make revisions. It will probably be re-posted tomorrow.

Thanks, Leanan.

Where to locate solar panels? Here's one idea!

A Spanish city has found an unusual place to generate renewable energy - the local cemetery. Santa Coloma de Gramanet, near Barcelona, has placed 462 solar panels over its multi-storey mausoleums. . . There are now plans to erect more panels at the cemetery and triple the amount of electricity generated. The cemetery was chosen for the project because it is one of only a few open, sunny places in the crowded city, which has a population of 124,000 crammed into 4 sq km (1.5 sq miles).

Oil tanker rates crashing http://www.tankerworld.com/index/ even with there go slow's in play. Aint much oil out there and heading into a cold winter... could be real interesting.

I don't get it. If shipping has collapsed all over the world, then some part of the chain of bringing goods to market obviously has completely frozen up due to lack of credit. How could that happen without it causing big disruptions in other areas of society? Shouldn't the store shelves be empty? Shouldn't the railroads be quiet? Shouldn't the tractor-trailers all (instead of mostly) be off the roads? It's five weeks until Christmas, and all the gifts are imported.

I don't think anyone has said things have frozen up, but rail shipping in the U.S. and Canada is certainly down:

U.S. carload traffic continues slumping

(For some bizarre reason it's up in Mexico).

Potentially important issue - all who take the time to consider it and respond will be appreciated:

I'm curious whether any of you see a significant risk that potentially rapidly declining net oil exports could trigger a limited or full-scale nuclear exchange?
(Not a one in a million risk per year, but on the order of one-to-several percent per year.)

I hope this would be a very unlikely outcome, but I can't help thinking it is indeed far more likely than is healthy with respect to the probability of humans surviving the next one to five decades.

If severe shortages develop more rapidly than energy efficiency/conservation and/or alternatives (to the extent they are feasible and turn out to have a decent EROEI) can be implemented, it appears likely that large oil importers with significant military power such as China, UK, US, France, and India will go to great lengths to secure future supplies.

Additionally, it may turn out that not only oil and natural gas will be in short supply over the coming decades, but also several metals, perhaps high-grade coal, as well as fertile farmland where sufficient water is still available (falling water tables, changing climate, and soil depletion may result in sharply falling food production independent of problems that would result from a growing lack of fossil fuel inputs such as diesel and fertilizer).

During the Cuban missile crisis, we saw how quickly the situation escalated to the point where a full nuclear exchange almost took place. And this happened during a period without significant resource shortages. Are humans far wiser and more careful now than in the 1960s, such that a period of severe shortages of vital resources will not trigger an escalating international battle over the remaining deposits?

I'm very interested in hearing the thoughts of the community with regard to this scenario. If the catastrophic scenarios are avoided, humans may at least have a chance of transitioning to a future where civilization survives. If a full nuclear exchange takes place, there may be zero human survivors left on the planet within a few months or years due to the lingering aftereffects.

I take it that only a portion of the TOD community are likely to see this post, so I intend to repost it under a couple other suitable articles in the future. I am not trying to spam anyone, and will only repost very few times - the only purpose being that most people at TOD get a chance to see my question and consider a potential response.

Below are a few useful articles dealing with the likelihood and impact of the scenario I hope will never be realized.

I wish to thank everyone at TOD for their work analyzing the world energy supply situation.

Best regards,

Chris Normann

The following three articles are written by professor Hellman at Stanford ( http://www-ee.stanford.edu/~hellman/ ). Note that he is not even considering possible energy/resource shortages in the future and the impact they would have on the risk of major conflicts developing:

http://nuclearrisk.org/1why_now.php (6 sections)

A small selection of papers/presentations/animations on the likely effects of both a regional and full nuclear exchange:


Should efforts to substitute for oil with other high EROEI sources such as thin-film solar and high burn nuclear energy be unsuccessful I would consider a descent into endemic warfare including nuclear to be inevitable rather than probable, at least on the evidence of history for responses when resource limitations are hit.

That is my primary area of disagreement with those who advocate vastly reduced energy use, and feel that we can transition relatively peacefully to some kind of sustainable balance using renewables only.

Fortunately at least technologically speaking it would seem we have the capacity to power our society by these means. Whether we will manage to do so quickly enough is what is undecided, and perhaps unknowable.

The energy supply situation seems to me to be the critical one, and given abundant and relatively cheap energy then we may be able to work a passage past other constraints such as water shortage in relatively good shape - I emphasise relatively.

Should these resources not be developed then in my view massive conflict is unavoidable.

"other high EROEI sources such as thin-film solar"

given our great dislike for dirty hydrocarbon fuel and fearful of nuclear energy, we would have transitioned to a EROEI energy source the very first second that it becomes available.

We haven't been able to make the transition, thus, thin-film solar isn't the EROEI energy source.


Your reply does not really make sense.
It takes time to adopt anything, it can't be done at the snap of the fingers.
Here is the recent costing of one form of thin-film solar:

Please note that at this time the cost to produce a watt was already down to $1.29.
I trust you do not imagine that thin-film solar has an unfavourable EROEI, as it is radically better than traditional crystalline silicon.
Building factories takes time, and creating the integrated systems needed to exploit the power source can't be done instantly.

Not everything we need is currently to hand, but we do know enough to be sure that we can get to the requisite performance.

When you have progress on a broad front, rather than being dependent on any one technology, then improvement is much more secure.

thin film solar cells IMHO is a no go, because all variants of this technology use rare Earth elements. Virtually all of them uses some combination of CIGS - Copper (probably exception here), Indium, Gallium and Selenium. They have lower efficiency ~7% to 10% according to wikipedia

Rare Earth elements by their nature cannot be applied to any technology that have to scale up 10s, 100s or 1000 times.

When companies, governments or capable individuals see a promising technology or energy source, they will pounce on it. No need for promotion. think semiconductors, "smart" weapons, oil fields etc. We spy, steal, fight and die for these "wonderful" things and will continue to do so, right or wrong.


Are you talking about III-V or II-VI semiconductors? Or dopants in poly or amorphous silicon? Last I heard, silicon is still valid as a thin film solar cell, and Si just needs a dopant.
Indium and Gallium are p-type dopants as I recall. Copper is not rare earth but makes an effective wiring. I must be way behind in following tech.

Please see WHT's reply. Before pronouncing the 'impossibility' of something, it is usually a good idea to acquaint yourself with the basics of the technology.
It is similarly a good idea to check out what the lead times are for widely deploying new technology.

Would those who have downrated my comment care to enlighten me on my error, and how in fact new technologies should be instantly expected to replace conventional generation?

Thing is Dave, I think most people are tired of arguing with you. A sort of Sisyphian task I'd imagine.

As usual, beyond a general wish to disoblige, you actually have nothing whatever to say which is actually germane to the point at issue.


And how are you coming along with the 30year update to the Limits to growth?

Until you bring yourself up to speed with everyone else, they have little motivation to argue with you again and again.

Nobody expects new techs to instantly replace ff's. That's a complete strawman. Who wants to argue with that crap yet again? But if you'd bother to read the latest limits to growth you'd see that (and others even more dubious) is the sort of assumption you need to make to get mankind back on a sustainable track.

And the name of the game isn't let Dave post whatever thought breezes through his mind and everybody else correct him. Nobody else pulls that crap with that regularity. Its tiresome and It doesn't surprise me in the least people have grown weary of doing it.

But this in the nth time I've tried to explain this all to you. I'm sure it'll have as much impact as all those times before.

I was responding to a comment which stated:

given our great dislike for dirty hydrocarbon fuel and fearful of nuclear energy, we would have transitioned to a EROEI energy source the very first second that it becomes available.

Therefore I was not arguing against a strawmwn.

As for comments about you must read so and so, I find them about as worthwhile as people who advise me that I 'must read Watchtower to know the meaning of life'
If those who are convinced that this contains everything they need to know cannot marshal the arguments there set forth to represent them in a coherent fashion, it probably means that they have not understood them very well.

Anyway, I was curious if anyone actually felt that it is possible to instantly roll out a new power system, and it is apparent that you have nothing to contribute on the subject, and so resort to ad hominem attacks and entirely extraneous argument on subjects irrelevant to the point of debate.

Yeah Dave, its all my fault people are sick of your crap.

It boggles the mind you can be so immune to any new information that might upset your world view.

Would it really kill you to at least scan through it? It doesn't contain the secret to life but it contains a lot of knowledge you are (intentionally?) ignorant of.

Since your point in this dialogue is to make yourself objectionable rather than to carry out any meaningful discussion, I will discontinue it.

You are not an attractive advert for whatever positions you hold, nor an eloquent or even comprehensible advocate of them.

Since you apparently cannot formulate the concepts in your 'essential reading list' but instead insist upon others reading it as a prerequisite in your view for discussion, then in fact you create a disinclination to bother with your 'authorised text', which has perhaps contributed to your illiberal attitude and narrowness of mind which enables you to feel that you are entitled to instruct others on what they 'must' read.

Unbelievable. Its like you are a parody of yourself.

The issue is will those with problems see nuclear bombs as solutions to those problems.

Perhaps strictly limited use (demonstration explosions at sea), but rational actors will see little gain beyond that point.

LOTS of "gaming" analysis was done in the 1950s and 1960s (how does one deter Stalin ?). Today, expansionism is not the dominant goal, but conserving existing gains is. And this trend is likely to intensify with shortages of resources.

I do want a focus on productive, "problem solving" responses to post-Peak Oil.

One little considered risk is the demographic implosion of Russia.

Hope that helps,


"Gaming" is what this is. I would rather get some real modeling done. In particular, trying to figure out how much we have left. Norman and Hellman really ought to be putting their skills into something else.

You need to talk to Jay Hanson.
He's REALLY sure there will be a nuclear war based on his analysis of human behavior.


If this has been answered here before, please let me know.

On the November 22 Financial Sense NewsHour, Jim Puplava had an energy analyst on that said low natural gas prices were causing some projects that drill or mine for natural gas to be shut down. He then said that it was impossible to bring these projects back on line once they were shut down.

Can anyone explain this? Is all that natural gas really gone for ever? Is this for all natural gas wells or just certain types? Thank you.

"Mining" Old Bossy:

To date, BioEnergy said three dairy farms have agreed to supply biogas to the network. The combined herd of 6,500 dairy cows is expected to produce 615,000 cubic feet of natural gas per day, enough to power 3,000 homes.

When the nine-farm network is completed, BioEnergy said it may include as many as 26,700 cows to produce enough natural gas to power 12,000 homes.

It's an "Organized" Gas.

Let's see, it takes Two Cows/House, and we have 100 Million Cows and Calves . . . . . . . hmmm

Gotta figure out how to catch and hold all the gas. I'm sure PVC would be uncomfortable, rather motion restricting and probably constipating. But just think, two cows, enough to heat our house in winter. In summer, get the gas, compress it and have CNG for the pickup all year. All this not even counting the milk money. I'll get my two grandsons to each milk a cow twice a day. I would imagine you could feed a cow for about $10 a day. What a deal.

My good friend said when he was a teenager his dad gave him a cow. The dad said, “I don't care what you do or how late you stay out but that cow has to be milked in the morning at five o'clock and again in the evening at five.” That cow kept him straight all during high school. :-) Maybe it would work for my grandsons as well. Since they will do well in school and go to college and get a masters degree in economics, go to Wall Street Financials and rip off the proletariat.


Since I didn’t see the report I’ll just have to guess what he’s talking about. And I have no idea what he’s talking about. First, NG prices are not low. They are down a good bit from the price spike last spring but that's a red herring. They are close to the high price of last January and winter is just beginning now. As far as shutting in a NG well it can go back into production at anytime. There are low pressure NG fields which require a lot of expensive compression to produce. Some of these fields could be abandoned if the become uneconomic. This would be especially true is some areas like OK. Due to a limited market some areas, like OK and parts of the Rockies have seen very low local prices at the well head.

A much bigger impact on NG drilling has been the difficulty/expense of financing such projects. I consult for on of the largest unconventional NG operators in the country. We just cut our 2009 budget in those plays from $1.2 billion to less than $700 million. Not because of pricing but because the cost of borrowing shot up. We’ll be just spending our income on new drilling projects. But we have thousands of locations that will be drilled eventually. This is just a delay. The unconventional gas wells deplete quickly. No public company can delay continued development too long or their asset value will drop dangerously fast.

Very little current production is being abandoned for any reason. But many projects are being delayed. My best guess is about 24 months until drilling picks up significantly. It will be a function of economic recovery and, to a lesser extent, winter temperatures IMO.

So far 7.7 trillion has been transferred from the taxpayer to the banking sector-it could have paid off in full 50% of all USA mortgages (which would have been socialism unlike the bailout frenzy) http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/

But don't worry. Easy-credit ripoffs coming our way:

U.S. plans program to aid credit issuers

WASHINGTON - The U.S. government is working on a new loan facility to help companies that issue credit cards, make student loans and finance car purchases.

The Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve will unveil the program Tuesday, according to people familiar with the plan. They spoke on condition of anonymity because a formal announcement has yet to be made.

Lots of items in the DrumBeat today, lots of comments, too. Makes for lots of reading so I will keep this as brief as possible. A couple of tiny morsels for thought:

Bad news first:
Since money is simply a symbol of promissory obligation to repay then all of the money in the world cannot possibly have more cumulative value than the cumulative value of the real world grand total of ability (or capacity) to repay... no matter how many billions, trillions, or gazillions of (dollars/euros/gold doubloons) are brought into existence. So how much is that, and is that enough to see us all through?

Good news second:
Have you any notion how much ABILITY is lying around fallow right now? I absolutely guarantee that if you put aside your prejudices and social stigmata for a while and just interview ALL of the people around you (even the scary ones) that you will be thunderstruck at how much raw talent, priceless experience and hidden knowledge is right there no further away than a "Good morning, ..."

I highly recommend and strongly advise one and all to start doing exactly that. Talk to the people you see every day who you have not yet spoken to.

My take on Obama and his team is that Barrack is a really nice guy, who has wisely chosen a team of battle hardened ivory tower geniuses whose training, experience and thinking is totally inside of the box. Their plan to put business as usual on a diet of pure steroids is ridiculous, and doomed to fail with spectacular consequences... but may forestall that collapse by a few months or even a year or two if for no other reason than the layers of total bamboozlement we will have to decipher in order to realize that we have been destroyed.

Better make damned good use of that time.