DrumBeat: December 5, 2008

Return to $1 gas? Energy prices evaporate

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Oil prices hit four-year lows Friday as employers cut the highest number of jobs in 34 years. The continuing decline in prices is so dramatic and so sudden that it is raising the prospect that gas prices could soon fall below $1 a gallon.

...On Friday, light, sweet crude for January delivery settled at $40.81 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down by nearly $3 per barrel. Prices fell as low at $40.50, levels last seen in December 2004.

Gasoline futures for January delivery tumbled to 90 cents.

For gas prices to get close to a $1, oil prices probably would need to fall another $10 a barrel — something that would have impossible to fathom during first part of this year as oil prices soared near $150 per barrel.

Driving tax, border tolls among suggestions for funding R.I. road and bridge repairs

PROVIDENCE – A tax on every mile that residents drive is one of several suggestions from the state panel charged with finding money to repair Rhode Island’s ailing transportation infrastructure.

The Blue Ribbon Panel on Transportation Funding – in a draft report the 12-member panel discussed at its meeting yesterday – also proposed levying a $3 toll on all cars and a $6 toll on all trucks entering the state; imposing tolls on all bridges between Aquidneck Island and the mainland; raising the passenger-vehicle registration fee, now $60 every two years, to at least twice that; and raising the state gasoline tax by as much as 15 cents per gallon.

Iraq appeals to oil companies for investment

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Iraq launched its first public campaign Friday to attract investment from international oil companies, rolling out a red carpet - literally - for executives from as far away as Russia and Japan.

The oil minister said his country is now safe for business and desperately needs help in rebuilding its devastated oil infrastructure.

IEA Cuts 2009 Global Oil Demand on Slowing Economy

(Bloomberg) -- The International Energy Agency cut its global oil demand forecast for 2009 because of the world economic slowdown.

The Paris-based agency reduced its demand forecast by 170,000 barrels a day from its November estimate to 86.37 million barrels a day, analyst David Martin said in a phone interview today as the agency issued an update to its July’s Medium-Term Oil Market report.

The forecast for 2013 demand has been lowered by 2.9 million barrels a day to 91.25 million barrels a day from a July estimate of 94.14 million barrels a day, Martin said.

Deepwater Rig Rates Jump as Shortage Trumps Oil Drop

(Bloomberg) -- Rental rates for deepwater drilling rigs continue to surge as a worldwide shortage of vessels used to search the oceans for oil outweighs the biggest drop in crude prices in a quarter-century.

Many oil majors skip Iraq oil expo

BAGHDAD (AFP) – Many major global oil companies have stayed away from the first Iraq Energy Expo which opened in Baghdad on Friday, amid uncertainty about plans for oil production partnerships.

ConocoPhillips of the United States and Russia's Lukoil and Gazpromneft are among 40 exhibitors, but BP, Exxon and Total are absent although they say they want to return to Iraq after being thrown out by then dictator Saddam Hussein 36 years ago.

Shell Said to Plan 10-Day Repair of Pernis Refinery Fire Damage

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc is planning to keep a gasoline unit at its Dutch Pernis refinery, Europe’s largest, shut for about 10 days of repairs following yesterday’s pipeline fire, a person familiar with the situation said.

Petrobras CEO says oil price no hurdle to subsalt

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Petrobras Chief Executive Jose Sergio Gabrielli said on Friday the price of oil was not an obstacle to developing massive oil deposits that are difficult to access deep beneath the ocean floor.

The finds of potentially more than 50 billion barrels of light oil below a thick layer of salt could turn Brazil into one of the world's top oil producers.

Russia pledges to build natural gas pipeline by 2015

BELGRADE, Serbia — Russia today pledged to complete a strategic natural gas pipeline through Serbia by 2015 — despite the global financial crisis — paving the way for its immediate purchase of Serbia’s state energy monopoly.

Arctic pipeline faces 1-year regulatory wait

TORONTO (Reuters) - A regulatory panel weighing a proposal for a C$16.2 billion ($12.5 billion) pipeline to ship gas from Canada's Arctic will not complete its report for one year, spelling another in a long list of delays for the embattled project.

Hydrogen: The Emerging, Clean Energy Commodity

The world is sorely in need of a cost effective replacement energy carrier that can serve as a fuel for motor vehicles, aircraft, and all types of water transport. Moreover, this fuel that will power the future must be pollution free. All things considered, hydrogen does appear to fit that urgent need better than any other option. If that is so, it is fair to ask why hydrogen has not had a more prominent place in the public dialogue surrounding the world’s energy future.

...In an attempt to set the record straight, what follows is an examination of eight key claims often presented by detractors as evidence of the false promise of hydrogen.

Young People Choose Cars Above Greener Transport Options

Young people find the prospect of driving cars more attractive than other modes of travel that are kinder to the environment, according to research conducted by a researcher at the University of the West of England.

...The study concentrated on the views of young people aged between 11 and 18 years and the findings found an overwhelming desire by young people to drive.

Exxon Underscores Importance of O&G to Meet Global Energy Demand

ExxonMobil today published "Outlook for Energy: A View to 2030" in which the corporation predicts that global energy demand, due to population growth and economic expansion, will increase by an average of 1.2% per year. Even considering the significant strides the petroleum industry is taking to become more energy efficient and resourceful, the world's energy demand is expected to grow by 35%, or to the equivalent of 310 million barrels per day by 2030, according to Exxon estimates.

Although the energy perspective has shifted toward tapping into alternative and renewable energy sources to quench burgeoning consumption while reducing "carbon footprints," Exxon underscores that oil, gas and coal will continue to power the majority of the world's energy needs, meeting close to 80% of the world's needs through 2030. Exxon acknowledges that alternative and renewable methods, such as nuclear, wind and solar power, as well as low-carbon- and biofuels, will also rapidly develop over the next couple of decades as effective energy resources, but that traditional hydrocarbon resources will remain the most abundant and affordable.

Solving the economic and environmental crises

In a speech to the Confederation of British Industry two weeks ago, the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, Jeroen van der Veer, predicted that the current financial crisis would be a problem for a couple of years, "but the energy challenge will be a problem for at least 50 years."

He cited three reasons for the worsening energy crisis: an increase in global population from six billion to nine billion people by 2050 who will demand greater electricity and transportation; insufficient oil and gas resources to fuel this demand; and increasing greenhouse gases.

Gazprom, Serbia to sign energy deal by end Dec

BELGRADE (Reuters) - Russia's Gazprom will sign a final agreement on the purchase of Serbia's oil monopoly NIS by end of December, Gazprom's Chief Executive Officer Alexei Miller said on Friday.

Serbia's top officials signed an initial a deal with Russia last January giving Gazprom's oil arm, Gazprom Neft, the control of the majority stake in oil monopoly NIS in exchange for Serbia's inclusion in the South Stream pipeline.

Unrest Costing Nigeria 397,697 B/D in Oil Output

Unrest in the Niger Delta, the heart of Nigeria's oil industry, is costing 397,697 barrels of lost production a day, the Department of Petroleum Resources said Friday.

Some 113 oil fields -- operated by Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Chevron Corp., Mobil Producing Nigeria, a unit of Exxon Mobil Corp., Elf Petroleum Nigeria Limited, Canada's Addax Petroleum Corp. and the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company -- are shut due to security, community and operational issues, it said.

Pernis cat cracker to stay down for days-source

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A catalytic cracker at Royal Dutch Shell's Pernis oil refinery in Rotterdam will stay shut until the start of next week at the earliest following a fire at the plant on Thursday, an industry source said.

The unit, used to make gasoline at Europe's biggest oil refinery, was shut down for safety reasons after the fire broke out at a nearby pipeline carrying heavy diesel oil.

Fiji: State urged to remove fuel surcharge

The interim Government has been urged to intervene and remove the Fiji Electricity Authority fuel surcharge.

Can Obama keep energy promises?

President-elect Barack Obama has vowed to make energy and environmental issues a priority during his presidency. Through his comprehensive New Energy for America plan, he pledges to invest in alternative and renewable energy, end America’s addiction to foreign oil, address the global climate crisis and create millions of new jobs through green initiatives.

But can Obama really keep his promises?

Going hungry in the 21st century

As world leaders grapple with the global financial crisis, another equally threatening international disaster is unfolding - and begging for a co-ordinated international solution. The most acute food shortage in more than 40 years has, according to the World Bank, already left 800 million people "food insecure". Australia and other major food exporters are being called on to boost production.

Unlike recent food shortages, it is not confined to sub-Saharan Africa and is not temporary. Food supplies are declining in Africa, south Asia, Central and South America and the Caribbean. Food riots brought down the Haiti Government this year. Over the past 12 months China, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Egypt and others have temporarily banned rice exports to preserve local supply.

Carbon: The Biochar Solution

Burn almost any kind of organic material — corn husks, hazelnut shells, bamboo and, yes, even chicken manure — in an oxygen-depleted process called pyrolysis, and you generate gases and heat that can be used as energy. What remains is a solid — biochar — that sequesters carbon, keeping CO2 out of the atmosphere. In principle, at least, you create energy in a way that is not just carbon neutral, but carbon negative.

And the benefits only begin there. When added to thin and acidic soil of the kind found in much of South America and Africa, char produces higher agricultural yields and lets farmers cut down on costly, petroleum-heavy fertilizers. Subsistence farmers seeking better soil have traditionally relied on slash-and-burn agriculture, which generates greenhouse gases and decimates forests. If instead those farmers slow-smoldered their agricultural waste to produce charcoal — in effect, slash-and-char agriculture — they could fertilize existing plots instead of clearing more land. This in turn would reduce emissions in the atmosphere, and so on in a virtuous circle of environmental renewal.

Richard Heinberg: Memo to the President-elect on Energy Realism and the Green New Deal

Our continued national dependence on fossil fuels is creating a crippling vulnerability to both long-term fuel scarcity and catastrophic climate change.

The current economic crisis requires substantial national policy shifts and enormous new government injections of capital into the economy. This provides an opportunity for a project whose scope would otherwise be inconceivable: a large-scale, coordinated energy transition away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy.

This project must happen immediately; indeed, it may already be too late. We have already left behind the era of cheap and plentiful fossil fuels, with a permanent decline of global oil production likely underway within three years. Moreover, the latest research tells us we have less than eight years to bring carbon emissions under control if we hope to avoid catastrophic climate change. Lacking this larger frame of understanding and action, a mere shift away from foreign oil dependence will fail to meet the challenge at hand.

FACTBOX - Global energy investment hit by financial crisis

(Reuters) - The growing financial crisis and plunging energy prices have forced companies to scale back spending and delay projects, with expensive ventures in the Canadian oil sands hardest hit.

Below is a list of energy projects that have been delayed or scaled back in recent months, as well as other related news.

Saudi price rise surprises Asia

Singapore: Saudi Arabia's unexpected increase in its official crude oil selling price (OSP) differentials to Asia next month could keep refiners away from the spot market or force deeper discounts for rival grades as runs are kept low on weak demand.

Japan refiners to be stirred, not shaken, by merger

TOKYO (Reuters) - The merger of Japan's biggest and its sixth-largest refiners has resurrected hope that a long-awaited shake-up of the shrinking industry is nigh, but the scope of future activity may disappoint investors.

Hope of an integrated oil major emerging from the sector is likely to be dashed by top oil producer INPEX's reluctance to get dragged down by the refining business at a time of collapsing global margins; investors betting on more refining deals may be stymied by piecemeal sales or strategic Gulf investors.

Grand Theft Nautical

The tanker, owned by Aramco, the Saudi oil company, was carrying enough crude to supply New England with fuel oil for 10 days — in the winter. It is seven times the size of the Titanic and longer than the Chrysler Building is tall. How, then, could a dozen pirates in two puny boats armed with rifles and a grenade launcher board a ship this size?

Quite easily — as I found out after spending weeks on a nearly identical ship on a passage from Saudi Arabia to Singapore five years ago.

Why electric cars have stalled

Facing technical challenges and a weak market, many of Silicon Valley's electric-car startups are changing direction.

Climate change a worry for doctors

Climate change will bring to Australia an increased burden of heat stress, injury from fire and storm, social disruption and mental illness; in the developing world it will bring famine, water shortage and dislocation of populations with calls to Australia to assist resettlement. The coming disruption of ecological services that provide humanity's life-support system is likely to have far-reaching health impacts on food and water resources and on the spread of infective disease.

Some Carbon Candor: A climate guru rebukes his mates on cap and trade.

Liberal interest groups, think tanks, lobbyists, bloggers and other nuisances are inundating the incoming Obama Administration with advice, but James Hansen recently managed to say something interesting. Namely, the famous NASA scientist had the nerve to expose some of the global-warming fantasies widespread among children and politicians.

Economists raise doubts about alternative-energy spending

WASHINGTON — Prompted by public concern over the economy and energy costs, President-elect Barack Obama and Democrats in control of Congress are touting a two-for-one solution: spending billions of dollars on alternative-energy programs to create jobs and help lift the nation out of recession.

But some economists, such as Vincent Reinhart, a former Federal Reserve Board official now at the American Enterprise Institute, caution that funding energy projects could help the economy less than other forms of spending.

Even Obama's new budget chief, Peter Orszag, has expressed doubts. In his previous job as head of the Congressional Budget Office, Orszag wrote a report in January saying that some forms of alternative-energy spending "are totally impractical" for stimulating the economy and others "could end up making the economic situation worse" by adding to the federal debt.

Oil industry adjusts to lower prices

Houston – Oil's swan dive from a record high of $147 a barrel last summer to a trading price of $46.10 Thursday, the lowest level in nearly four years, has rattled America's energy industry. But it hasn't flattened it – so far.

What the price drop does mean is that some oil-patch wildcatters have packed up their drill bits as the rush for new domestic exploration has cooled since summer.

"Six months ago everything was roses, and nobody in this business had any inkling that oil prices would decline virtually $100 a barrel," says Alex Mills, president of the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers. Now, he says, "some people have already pulled back on their drilling programs."

'Lowest breakeven price of Oil is $30 a barrel'

Based in Calgary as BMO Capital Markets’ oil and gas analyst for Canada, Mark Leggett shares his home province with what’s called Canada’s “trillion-barrel tar pit.” Alberta’s oil sand deposits reportedly contain about 1.7 trillion barrels of bitumen in-place, comparable in magnitude to the world's total proven reserves of conventional petroleum and second in volume only to Saudi Arabia. The catch? It costs up to $25 per barrel to extract oil from oil sands, compared to $2 to produce Saudi crude—numbers that don’t work well with oil at $50 a barrel.

India cuts petrol, diesel prices - oil minister

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India has cut petrol prices by 10 percent and diesel by about 6 percent, the oil minister, Murli Deora, told reporters on Friday.

China to link retail prices to global oil price

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will indirectly link its retail fuel prices to international crude prices for the first time under a reform that will take effect from Jan.1, the country's top economic planning body said on Friday.

Iraq's Kurdish oil impasse rumbles on

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's oil minister on Friday again denounced oil contracts signed by Kurdish authorities with foreign firms as illegal, signalling that a bitter feud over oil in the semi autonomous northern region is far from over.

"We are in serious discussions with the (Kurdish Regional Government) about several issues, but the position on the contracts that were signed without the approval of the central government remains unchanged," Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said during an energy conference in Baghdad.

"Those contracts (have no) standing with Iraqi law."

Russia's Gazprom seeks state aid to fund power projects, cites difficult borrowing conditions

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's state-run gas giant Gazprom said Friday it will ask the government for 100 billion rubles ($3.58 billion) to help fund capital-intensive power projects next year, the state-run RIA-Novosti news agency reported.

The bulk of the money is needed to fund the development of TGK-1, a power utility in the northwest of Russia, Gazprom deputy chairman Valery Golubev was cited as saying in St. Petersburg.

OPEC to Cut Output If Prices Remain Below $60, Khelil Says

(Bloomberg) -- OPEC, the supplier of more than 40 percent of the world’s oil, will reduce production if crude prices remain below $60 a barrel, said the group’s president, Chakib Khelil.

“If prices remain at the current low level, OPEC will decide an important reduction,” Khelil said in an overnight interview with Algerian television, cited by the state-owned Algerie Presse Service. “If prices go above $60, it is possible that the reduction will be less important.”

Russia Weakens Ruble Defense After Record Drop in Crude to $39

(Bloomberg) -- Russia weakened its defense of the ruble for a fourth time in a month, pushing the currency near a three-year low against the dollar, as the price of the nation’s crude oil fell by a record this week to less than $40 a barrel.

South Africa drops planned nuclear plant owing to cost

Eskom had planned to build the plant as part of a strategy to reduce the country's reliance on cheap coal. South Africa has an energy shortage, which temporarily closed down the vital gold mining industry in January. It already has one nuclear plant.

The government said Friday it supported the decision. It said the projected fall in energy demand associated with the global downturn should ease supply pressure.

New York Commuters Take to Bikes, Can’t Find Spot to Park Them

(Bloomberg) -- It costs Jamie Fisher about $25 for parking, $8 for tolls and another $8 for gasoline on days that he drives from his home in Bergen County, New Jersey, to his job in midtown Manhattan.

When he bicycles the 50-mile (80-kilometer) round trip, the only cost is convenience. Once Fisher reaches his office at Fifth Avenue and 56th Street, he can’t bring his $8,000 bike into the building.

“The first 25 miles aren’t a problem -- it’s the last 150 feet,” said Fisher, 41, vice president of energy and derivatives for MF Global Ltd., the world’s largest broker of exchange-traded futures contracts. “No matter where you bike from, once you’re in the city, finding a safe place to put your bike is impossible.”

Proposed fee on smelly cows, hogs angers farmers

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – For farmers, this stinks: Belching and gaseous cows and hogs could start costing them money if a federal proposal to charge fees for air-polluting animals becomes law.

Climate change, drought to strain Colorado River

SALT LAKE CITY – Seven Western states will face more water shortages in the years ahead as climate change exacerbates the strains drought and a growing population have put on the Colorado River, scientists say.

"Clearly we're on a collision course between supply and demand," said Brad Udall, director of the Western Water Assessment at the University of Colorado.

UN says poor nations need $130B for climate change

POZNAN, Poland – The U.N. climate change organization has said the world's poor countries will need $130 billion dollars a year by 2030 to help them adapt to global warming and curb their carbon emissions.

The U.N. says rich countries need to increase their payments over the next 20 years to six times the funds available now, which is about $21 billion.

Climate history may explain empires' fall

CHICAGO (Reuters) - An analysis of rings on a stalagmite from a cave near Jerusalem reveals a drier climate in the region at a time in history when the Roman and Byzantine empires were in decline, scientists reported on Thursday.

November: Most jobs lost in 34 years: Payrolls shrink by 533,000, bringing 11-month decline to 1.9 million. Unemployment soars to 6.7%

Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had forecast a loss of 325,000 jobs in the month. November's monthly job loss total was greater than October's revised loss of 320,000. Payroll cuts in September were revised up to 403,000, which means two-thirds of this year's job losses have occurred in the last three months.

And then there's this:

There were tell-tale signs that the two sides had not seen eye-to-eye, with the United States worried that China might be losing the stomach to let its currency keep rising and China anxious over Washington's management of the U.S. economy.

In a closing statement, Paulson described the cabinet-level talks as "robust," while a senior Chinese official urged the United States not to neglect its biggest creditor as it strives to stabilize its banking system and revive growth.

Denninger now thinks Paulson never had any intention of paying off our foreign creditors. It was just an excuse.

Probably about time, or past the time, for a lot of people to start making contingency plans for extended family members to consolidate in one house, presumably one where a garden can be established, or extended.

Just to make sure we are preparing in the correct order. Should we make these plans before or after we prepare for 8$ gas on 8/8/08?

As you no doubt recall, I said to assume gasoline would be $8 on 8/8/08, basically as part of my ELP advice. I said, starting in 2006 and outlined more fully in April, 2007, to assume that your income drops by half and assume that energy prices more than double. I also said, in April, 2007, that we would see deflationary trends in the auto, housing and finance sectors with inflationary trends in food & energy. I would submit that anyone who sold their suburban McMansion to a Yerginite Believer, and moved to small rented energy efficient housing along a mass transit line, or close to their job (preferably in a job on the non-discretionary side) is in better shape than they would otherwise be.

April, 2007

In my opinion, the unfortunate new reality is that we are going to see a growing labor surplus--against the backdrop of deflation in the auto/housing/finance sectors and inflation in food and energy prices. By reducing your expenses now, while you can do it voluntarily, you will at least be better prepared for whatever the future may bring.

Having said that, am I surprised by the downturn in oil prices? Yes.

My question: What advice have you been offering over the past few years? Party on dude? Buy more SUV's and suburban real estate with 100% financing?

I say give the neighbors Prius envy.

I actually own a condo only a short mass transit from my job. I have no problems with some of the practice advice, and I agree with you on selling the suburban mcmansion and trading to a more practical vehicle. What I take issue with is fear mongering, and telling people that its past time they start preparing to live like the Waltons is just that.

What I take issue with is fear mongering, and telling people that its past time they start preparing to live like the Waltons is just that.

You have got to be kidding me. You must be living in a different economic universe from the one that the rest of us live in.

What's wrong with living like the Waltons anyway. They had a huge house, a barn, a workshop, and some land. That sounds pretty good to me!

Yah, but you would likely turn your brain to mush saying things like "goodnight Jim Bob" and "That was great".

Well you know it's not all bad. I ended up a "Brady" bunch. Tiny house, ended up a single parent with 2 boys. a few years down the line, I met a wonderful single mother with 2 daughters. Talk about insanity. Went from batching it, to a bunch of women. We had to make the deck a new room, 3 quick walls and a roof. put the girls upstairs and the boys in the basement. Wife and I got the new room on the ground floor. A tiny bit of seperation helps a lot. One bathroom saw a lot of traffic, and even some urgent pounding on the door. Not the guys, we all headed outside in a pinch.

Tolerance goes a long way, they all now are the best of friends. Grown to adults.

Pigs, chickens, good damn dog, all the kids remember this as heaven. Each has approached me, if it would be ok, if they are stuck to head back here. I think you all know my answer. I'm really proud they are all as strong as they are. Gawd talk about assets. Both boys can outshoot me. Better eyes.

Younger son's significant other is born to the crossbow. Not a one of us can come close.

Some days we used to get furious with each other, but threaten us all and we pull together. We do it now all the time. a touch, a hug, a hug for the plott hound. Darn dawg was another stray, we have a pile of strays here. Each says it in their own way. Damn dawg is on duty. Big time.

I clean toilets for work, to get cash. My life is some good.

Don in Maine

Oh by the way I beat you all to that job cleaning toilets, you get to be unemployed. Sounds cool right, you don't collect either.

The problem, and we all do it, is in thinking of prices in absolute $ values. If your ability to pay is dropping faster than the notional price is, then the cost is going up. Corrected for deflation, the cost of fuel has not dropped as far as it appears to have. I wonder what the cost of fuel looks like to one of the 533k who lost their jobs last month?

You advice was/is sound. The confluence of PO, climate change, and economic and political collapse is bound to be very complex and the timing of specific events hard to predict. It's amazing that some cannot even see it happening around them.

Also, the assumption that everything will happen at an even rate in all geographic and social regions is naive.

"Also, the assumption that everything will happen at an even rate in all geographic and social regions is naive."

I think that is one of the most important points ever made on this board.

I think one problem for the "average joe/jane" is they tend to think in terms of "all or none" happening everywhere all at once. But every locale has unique variables for their food and energy distribution systems, governmental functions, utilities/city services, ethnic mixes...

Each locale has different strengths and weaknesses based on "genes' (people) and the local environmental limitations (climate and resources) those 'genes' happen to be in.

So, you are absolutely right, The Symptoms of Collapse certainly will not be distributed equally over time or place.

All are at the mercy of The Real Market (i.e. Nature).

There is no "safe," only safer. And what is "safer" today may not be safer tomorrow.

Like Dmitry Orlov says (paraphrase), "it's good to make plans, but also plan to change plans frequently"

Unfortunately, employment tends to be binary, either you have a job or you don't and it tends to be a rather large variable in the survival equation.

Picture 533,000 newly unemployed w/wheelbarrows moving O-NPK, converting land into permaculture plots, building narrow-gauge minitrains and SpiderWeb networks to 'ribcage' support the buildout of Alan's 'spine and limbs' standard-gauge ideas, Terra Preta industries and reforestation work, plus building minimal water usage facilities:


Or will the US fiddle around until we replicate Zimbabwe's 90% unemployment rate and short life expectancy? Are Americans ready to balance 100lbs of firewood on their heads while walking barefoot through broken glass, thorns, and sewage?

My guess is that China will move in this more optimal direction much faster than the US. Recall previous weblink where they are racing to build lots of additional standard-gauge track miles. Will China start building out narrow-gauge minitrain and SpiderWebRiding networks soon? Much, much cheaper than asphalt at $100,000 per mile.

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

There's gonna be a lot more than 533,000 newly unemployed souls moving O-NPK...

Oh, and while you're at it, we can burn that asphalt with the right boiler (PDF WARNING!) and use our very roads to power our energy descent.

moving O-NPK... the story of my life

Remember when they thought we had too much broadband? Build it and they will come.

The actual number of unemployed in the USA is somewhere between 15 and 20 million. How many wheelbarrows are there in America?

And what happens if you lose your job and can't get another one?

Moving in with your parents or a sibling sounds like a good "Plan B" to me, whether they have a garden or not.

But isn't advising moving in with them now when they haven't lost a job (and may never) advocate panic reactions and serve to make the problem worse (as wherever they own now sits empty on the market)?

'for a lot of people to start making contingency plans'

We have contingency plans here in Florida in case there is a hurricane. I've never heard someone make the argument that planning for a hurricane, or for losing a job, makes the problem worse and invites panic reactions.

Usually quite the opposite.

I'm all for everybody craming into single houses with their extended family and growing their own food. That'll leave cheap and plentiful resources for me!

Also in Florida,,,,Yes, but it is truly amazing when a CAT 3 comes into range, the number of idiots out on the street and in the stores, that have not done a minutes worth of prep all year. Like the "Idiot Fairies" kidnapped them one night, and they just woke up in South Florida the next morning?????

Trouble is, a huge majority of people in this country will wait until it's too f**king late.

Trouble is, a huge majority of people in this country will wait until it's too f**king late.


Who cares? The government will bail me out tomorrow.

"Never do today what you can put off 'til tomorrow."

Why? Because by tomorrow it may no longer be necessary and so by having done it today you've wasted effort and likely fucked something up. For it's in the doing of things that things get fucked up. Procrastination is a virtue.

Fear mongering?

If the converging economic, climatic and energetic problems civilisation now faces doesn't scare the **** out of you, seek help.

I've been trying to live up to westexas ELP recommendations and so far it worked out very well for me. I needed a new roof on my small house, created an extra storey in the process, and paid cash thanks very much.

...telling people that its past time they start preparing to live like the Waltons is just that (fear mongering)

"We’re going to keep trying to strengthen the American family, to make them more like the Waltons and less like the Simpsons."

- George Herbert Walker Bush, 1992

Actually, at least a couple of years ago, I wish there had been more fear mongering, and I wish this fear mongering had been in the main stream press. As bad as I thought the financial system might be, it is worse that my worst fears. Actually, the Waltons lived in a pretty big house as I recall.

And it wasn't so bad. They had large "people carriers" even back then :)

Fear mongering? Holy Crap. Does it even enter your thoughts that there is a huge difference between now and 1929. How many people make or sell things that people NEED???
This is going to be worse than you seem to understand. 533,000 jobs in a month. What are they going to do? A job selling holiday trinkets?
Just how easy is it to predict the future? Close is far better for everyone than what I see Paulson et al doing. Put your faith into the panic stricken leadership we have now if you want. Good luck - you'll need it. I think Jeffery has been insightful.

What trigged my comment was the following e-mail I sent out this morning to some family members (names deleted to protect the innocent). Fortunately, my daughter and son-in-law (who works in the energy services industry) followed my advice and did not buy a house. They are renting a townhouse along a mass transit line. (The designated fallback position would be our house.)

I believe that John Kenneth Galbraith said that the distinguishing characteristic of the Great Depression was that "The worst continued to get worse."

Lots of talk about lower oil prices. Natural gas has fallen to around $6, which is going to shut down a good deal of the unconventional natural gas drilling in the country.

I talked to a friend of mine yesterday. Because of high casing prices, they are drilling one more well in an expensive to drill and complete oil field. After that, they are shutting down until oil prices rise, and/or until equipment prices fall. They do want to look at some of our shallow drilling deals, since they suspended their developmental program.

I continue to think that a combination of involuntary net oil export and voluntary net oil export reductions will drive oil prices back up next year, but the scary thing is the rate at which demand is falling. The truly scary thing is that energy is probably the strongest sector of the economy right now.

Global trade is collapsing. Huge numbers of ships are being taken out of service because of a lack of demand and because they can't make money at current rates. Huge numbers of people are being, and will be, laid off in the auto, housing, finance and related sectors.

I suggest that all of us cancel plans for any expensive Christmas gifts that have not yet been purchased.

Hopefully, things will be clarified by the time that (names deleted) current lease is up in August. The problem is that I think that things may be clarified for the worse, but time will tell.

If things get really bad, we may need to think about consolidating in one house. Something like the Waltons.

If a family can do as well as the "Waltons" the next few years I'd say they will be part of the upper middle class

Part of it may be that everyone was jolted awake and suddenly realized that they already had all of the plastic crap that they really needed - more than enough, really. An economy based upon people just buying real necessities would be a much healthier one, but the transition will be hell for a lot of people.

WNC Observer writes "Part of it may be that everyone was jolted awake and suddenly realized that they already had all of the plastic crap that they really needed - more than enough, really."

That's where I'm at. I can't speak for others but that's why I haven't bought much in the last 6 months. Car manufacturers build cars to last longer. I probably won't need another vehicle for five years. Markets are saturated. The pain caused by harder-to-get-credit needed for getting more unneeded stuff is greater than the boredom caused by using what we have now.

That's me - I go and look at all the stuff I don't need.

How big will the suction from the downdraft be? This is my concern. Our business is healthy and debt free. But we are restructuring to meet a fully changed demand to necessities, and none too soon imho.

If I'm prepared to "live like the waltons" I'll be better off than most.

It's not only way past time that they start preparing but it is past time they actually started. Living life king size is all very well on borrowed money till the lenders realize that the IOUs they've been issued are little better than Charmin.


I was once told I was fear mongering, too.

It seems to be a reaction that occurs when the person making the statement isn't yet operating in the same context as the person providing the warning.

It's clear to me that you don't see what some of the rest of us see so Jeffrey's advice makes no sense to you. Of course, if and when your context changes, his advice will seem both prudent and prescient.

I stumbled across a remarkable CNBC clip, filmed almost a year ago. CNBC's Closing Bell interviews the CEO of Overstock.com, Patrick Bryne. (It gets good about 2:45 minutes into the video):

Dec 2007: 'We are living in a house of cards'

Bryne: I think that we're living at the edge of a 1929 kind of disaster... I think that we've been living in a house of cards for about 6 years. The American economy is like an old man in an oxygen tent that you flood with oxygen, but when you turn off the oxygen, he fades very quickly. Well the oxygen in our system has been cheap credit... We're on the edge of global financial meltdown.

The hilarity comes when the co-host, Dylan Ratigan, tries to steer the conversation into happyland. Ratigan's stammering rationalization says a lot about how and why humanity finds itself in the predicament it does.

Ratigan: But I always judge the market based on what it does. It's a self-evident machine. And if you look at the past five years, they have been spectacular. Not just in terms of the stock market performance, but in terms of the emergence of lifestyle on the Earth. Meaning that we've watched the construction of billions of large buildings etcetera. And the emergence of a digital culture of consumption and technological commerce, to which, by the way, you have been a tremendous beneficiary. So I find it curious that you don't give [this economic prosperity] more credit.

Bryne: Well I think that prosperity has largely come from [the fact that] we've been writing checks on the bank account of future people. In one way or another, the FED and the Treasury have been inflating this economy with cheap credit for about 5 years longer than they should have, and I think it's all going to come to a pretty ugly end.

Well, he's right we have 'spent a part of the future' -the issue is that a lot of people have come to think we can continue that model ad-infinitum. It's become written into the 'business case' of our society.

Now reality is hitting and the figures don't stack up any more...


A buddy of mine at work is trying to 'trade up' his 1k SF home about 30 minutes from work for a newer 2k SF home about 10 minutes further out right now. He's convinced it's a great deal....corner lot (more water and mowing!), hardwood floors, more space and all that. As he's telling me how much the home is 'really worth', I ask what if home prices keep dropping? He's already upside down in his current house.

He pauses for a second, then says he's sure it won't drop much more. He's not worried about the extra driving distance. I can't bring myself to nag him about it any more.

Maybe I should just print out your ELP article and leave it on his desk.

Do you think he'll be able to get financing? The bank may impose ELP, whether he likes it or not.

It appears likely, he's going through a credit union and they sound positive.

My mother, who has been a mortgage officer in Mississippi for many years, has said she's seen a lot of earnest money become forfeit because people got pre-approved but then couldn't get the actual loan when push came to shove. There are a lot of strange rules that have recently been imposed on borrowers.

We've laid off about 10% of our workforce here. I just can't imagine why, even if I didn't know peak oil from a hole in the ground, people would be looking at extending themselves finanically right now. Optimism runs deep, I guess.

Maybe he should do a Donald trump on the bank. Check this out. Chutzpah takes on a new meaning.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/28069720 See an excerpt.

"Those assertions are made in a fascinating lawsuit filed by Mr. Trump, the real estate developer, television personality and best-selling author, in an effort to avoid paying $40 million that he personally guaranteed on a construction loan that Deutsche Bank [AG 18.69 -0.66 (-3.41%) ] says is due and payable.

Rather than have to pay the $40 million, Mr. Trump thinks the bank should pay him $3 billion for undermining the project and damaging his reputation."

Apparently the Great Combover in the Sky is at the root (pun not intended) of his problems and he should be allowed a force majeure on his loan.


P.S. I think I managed to post this inadvertently down below where it is completely irrelevant


I don't think you need to feel any 'guilt' because you didn't prophecy the collapse of the oil price. It would have probably continued it's upward tragectory but for the dramatic decline in the world's economy, which isn't an excuse, rather an explanation.

I actually mentioned to a few of my friends, I can't remember if I said it here, that oil could fall in price, but only if the world entered a severe economic downturn, which I didn't think would happen so soon and so violently.

For the last two or three years I've been getting more and more nervous as the signs of imminent collapse became clearer and more obvious. My reaction was to sell almost everything I had in paper, buy a house with a big garden for cash and spend the rest taking my daughters around the world first class. I wanted to give them something good to remember in the hard times.

I often mentioned that if we enter a big depression the price could fall and buy us some time. Sometimes I didn't say it, though, and sometimes people forget that I said that. In any case, nit-picking the messenger wastes everyone's time and usually is done only to satisfy the ego of the person doing the nit-picking.

I'm not so sure this is buying us any time. I think it may be taking it away.

The financial collapse is taking away funding for alternate energy, from the global level to the individual. Nobody has the money to move away from oil...and the current low price makes it seem unnecessary.

This is our pattern: We go from shock to trance. After the Arab OPEC oil embargo of '73, and then the OPEC crisis of '79, when prices went up, we had this feeling of urgency. Then when the price goes back down, it dissipates quickly. We cannot allow ourselves to be vulnerable to that anymore.


This is the real nail in the cornucopian's coffin. Even if all the high tech pipe dreams were actually physically feasible, they are going to be financially impossible.

We're stuck in what is pretty much a "come as you are party" - make do with whatever inexpensive, low-tech stuff we can still manage to pull together.


At the macro level or if the wage earner lost their job you are absolutely right and funding will be a problem. But at the micro level of an individual, there isn't much holding back a lot of energy preperations. The thing I worry about is the availablity of parts, though to date there is no problem. My golf cart solar project will be done soon. Our half acre community garden area will be started this spring. The solar hot house may (???) be ready in time for the early planting. Lots can be done on the individual level. Consider that a great deal of luck will be involved. At 75 health issues are a concern though my wife and I are in excellent health now.

Also my 'Get up and GO, got up and Went and I forgot where.' :-)


Would you mind sharing some of the details of your hot house ? Climate it'll be in, size, materials, sort of stuff.

Similar to this


But longer, oriented east and west, with 30 black cubical metal cans (~10 gal each) filled with water along the south plastic wall two cans high. I will build shoji doors for it. I’m a woodworker. My preferred style is simple oriental and a little shoji touch will be nice.

It really isn’t much of a deal because PVC bends well and there are lots of fittings available to make the frame. A diagonal cable from the top of one end to the bottom of the other end making an ‘X’ will add tremendous racking strength. We sometimes have 50mph winds here.

You being a woodworker is what piqued my curiosity.

Years ago I made a chair and multi-level work table out of PVC . It's likely I'll be using PVC in my new career, HVAC/R also.

I hope the water filled cans work for you. I first learned of the Trombe wall concept in a book that was for passive solar engineering. Wish now I still had that book.

With 50 mph winds, is cold going to be a concern ?

Have you done any number crunching to get a feel for what to expect for performance ? Or is this a 'by-the-seat-of-the-pants' effort by someone who's seen one or two things before in this area ?

I gave up number crunching in favor of TLAR. Anything more complex than what you can draw on the back of an envelope probably won't work anyway. Everyone knows that a clear room exposed to sunlight will get hot. The black metal water cans (about a ton) will soak up some more and hold it for the night. If it gets too cold by morning ... add more cans. Duh! I am more worried about the other end and have some framed openings in the roof. I can screw one side of a piano hinge to the PVC and the other side to a wooden frame (claro walnut of course).

HVAC/R. My SIL works in that trade. Get used to black pipe too and coated black pipe and taped joints for gaslines underground. Lots of precharged copper too. You will learn a lot about various temerature controls too. Good luck with your new job, lots of hard work and lots of head scratching, WTF happened.

Perversely, I think if the price of fuel stayed high it might provide at least some market for the automakers (in fuel efficient cars for those well off and foolish enough to buy something new). Now, there's no reason to buy anything.

But I agree - this drop in fuel costs is really about the worst-case scenario. It pretty much guarantees we'll just ride the slope down, not even taking the obvious modest efforts that could ease the way a bit.

It's not the price that is important it is affording the price - forget the price in isolation, it just balances supply and demand - think affordability, that determines the actual flow rate! An out of work person can't afford much gasoline whatever it's price.

Post peak oil the downslope implies economic contraction - whether this is the final peak or not we are now in a post peak situation - as Westexas says a different set of rules will likely apply to the way we all live (for a while at least, and maybe a long while) - try spending a little of your day on contingency plans that you may need to enact quickly at some stage - thought costs very little.

Post peak oil the downslope implies economic contraction - whether this is the final peak or not we are now in a post peak situation

This is exactly right. I'm not sure that this reality has started to sink in even amongst many of the readers here. This is NOT a temporary downturn, prosperity is NOT just around the corner. We might level off from time to time during the descent,in stairstep fashion (as we have discussed here previously) - that seems to me much more likely than a continuous unbroken plunge. Don't be fooled, though: these will not be the beginnings of a recovery, only a pause for breath.

I don't know how far down we'll go, or what the timetable will be. I'm focused mainly on the remainder of my lifetime - the next 2-3 decades (if I'm lucky, or maybe not so lucky!) - beyond that is of academic interest only for me. Hoping that we can avoid a total collapse for at least that long (and we may not), I am thinking that the decline could bring us down to as much as 25% of present per capita GDP. That sounds like a pessimistic scenario, but it actually could be much worse even than that. Things might drag out for a while and it take longer than that to go that low, but I am doubtful that we can operate a sustainable economy at any higher level.

That 25% of present per capita GDP sounds terrible, but consider this: that is where the USA was in 1941 (in real present dollars), right before WWII. That is also about where countries like Costa Rica, Uruguay, and Cuba are today. Life is possible at that level, good living even. The psychological adjustment would be huge, but we may very well find ourselves having to make just such an adjustment. It would be prudent to begin now.

Should we make these plans before or after we prepare for 8$ gas on 8/8/08?

Regardless of my occasional difference of opinion with Jeffrey, I think this is very sound advice. Limit your exposure to high gas prices by planning for the possibility of higher gas prices. This is very good advice. I had this debate with my CEO last night. He was telling me how much higher gas prices had cost him to fuel up his Expedition. I said "Maybe you don't need an Expedition. Maybe you need to plan for a return of high gas prices. That way you are prepared next time."

Limit your exposure to high gas prices by planning for the possibility of higher gas prices. This is very good advice.

See my post above, I completely agree with that statement. I drive a 40mpg car for crying out loud. What I have a problem with is big scary silly statements like grab grandma, grandpa, your cousins and be prepared to pack in a shack and grow tomato's in the front yard to survive.

What I have a problem with is middle and upper middle class people who haven't been touched by the problem suggesting that common sense things like sharing housing with your family and growing food to cut your budget is wild-eyed radicalism. Have you visited your local food pantry lately? How many people are in line? How full are the shelves? Checked out the soup kitchens? Noticed the folks losing their homes? Had they gotten Jeff's advice ahead of time, they might not be in this situation.


Hey! I grow tomatoes in my front yard...what of it? And I share housing with my non-nuclear family.

Frankly, you seem so sure things are not going south, you sound every bit as dogmatic as those you criticize.

You may not need to yet, but it already happening to some people. Here in relatively-less-affected Midwestern College Town USA, one of my employees was just telling me that she and her son are moving into the basement of her sister's house to reduce her utility and rent costs, share on grocery bills, and so that what she is paying in rent will help her sister (just lost her job) and brother-in-law (construction worker/no work) to try to keep making their house payments. So it may be premature hyperbole to some, but definitely not to all.

Why don't you give her a raise? Sounds like she could use it, you cheapskate.

Should I also employ her sister and brother-in-law?

EHT; Why certainly if you can use them productivly, If not the give her a 20 cent per hour raise, that would at least help a lot. Maybe that would be a bit much, $64/week, then half that would at least be something.

the old hermit

You guys jump one step into a problem and try to 'solve' it by putting the economic burden on this one employer. We're talking about a huge systemic change that's hitting our culture. It seems like EHT's employee is experimenting with how much the family can adapt to make things work.

I just remembered that one of the few pieces of Vinyl that I still carry with me is 'The Walton's Christmas' .. I think I might have to rip it down to MP3s and take a listen.

Goodnight, John-boy. Goodnight, Pa. Goodnight, Momma!

Math skills kind of rusty, old hermit?

.20 * 40 is $8.00
subtract ~25% for taxes, etc leaves about $6 / week raise

The thought is nice, but I don't think that will be a big lifestyle boost for someone living in the Midwest US.

Also, frequently at .EDUs, an immediate supervisor can't give a raise for the hell of it.

Do you have something to contribute here? You don't know what her salary is.. but you decide you can call EHT the source of a problem that [he] related to discuss this problem.

What's with you?

Maybe there's a better way to describe people who are issuing warnings than to call it fear-mongering, a term which is clearly overused and underdescribed.

I have to say that your well-established reputation for 'hit-and-run optimism' by issuing unclarified posts about possible tech-developments has probably earned you the title of 'Dream-mongering'

Either kind of 'mongering' would seem to be hollering out an ideology without evidence or reasonable backing.. but these warnings aren't unreasonable, unreasoned or unwelcomed.. WT and others provide no small amount of the evidence of smoke they are looking at before choosing to tell the other theatergoers that there might be a fire.. that it might be a good idea to find a seat closer to the exits and consider an evac plan.

Saying that it's irresponsible to consider this possibility and set up some contingency plans sounds to me like it is itself a fear response. But believe me, I understand.

"We have nothing to fear but fear itself."

People like Roubini and Mike Shedlock, and Kunstler have been warning about the financial meltdown for several years. They've been ridiculed as "fear-mongers". Amazing how prescient they have been. Has anyone called it perfectly? No, antidoomer, so get over it. I have personally made many financial decisions based on the evidence presented by the people I've mentioned above. If I had listened to the idiots at CNBC, Morgan Stanley, Chase, Paulson, and Bernanke et. al., our savings would have been absolutely wiped out. People at work now chuckle about my rantings concerning the economy, but they listen, shake their heads in agreement, and are clearly as uncomfortable about their own futures as well as I. Jeffrey, you have helped many by sharing your insights about our energy and related financial difficulties.

People like Roubini and Mike Shedlock, and Kunstler have been warning about the financial meltdown for several years. They've been ridiculed as "fear-mongers". Amazing how prescient they have been.
I have personally made many financial decisions based on the evidence presented by the people I've mentioned above. If I had listened to the idiots at CNBC, Morgan Stanley, Chase, Paulson, and Bernanke et. al., our savings would have been absolutely wiped out.

I have a tendency, when there is a lack of certainty, to weight the different scenarios. Unfortunately that meant I only somewhat lightened my stock and bond holdings, whereas with hindsight a wholesale retreat would have been in order. I also had the mistaken belief, that it would primarily be a catastophic fall in the dollar, and was heavily weighted in foreign equities, which have fallen even faster than US equities.....

Jeff I think we are talking weeks, ecen here in Canada. january may be a very black month as all the retailers and everything connected to them realize Christmas didn't save them. Canadian jobless numbers are matching yours. On top of that we have a cat fight going on at the federal level and none of the parties has a clue about how serious it is. All the best for you ansd your family. ELP will be mandated.

I wish people would get off the "No one knows how the future will play out" treadmill and start to approach if from a risk management(RM) basis. RM starts from the proposition that while we, indeed, can't know the future (that's why it is called risk), we can assign gross probabilities to future events, their impact and what might be done to mitigate them.

RM can be as simple as playing a "what-if" game such as: What if I lost my job? What if I couldn't find a new job for a year or more? What if inflation wiped out the value of my savings? And, so on.

It can also be used for mundane things such as: If I have to produce much of my own food, what skill sets and supplies do I need? If I produce my food, what skill sets and equipment do I need to preserve it?

This sort of "game" can obviously go on and on but it is worth it in the end.

I've been doing this sort of thing for years and taking actual action. But, what I and others like me have learned is that there are limits and it's best to determine these limits when time is not of the essence. For example, I have a couple of year's worth of fertilizer on hand. I recognize that this will eventually run out. However, it gives me time to go to Fertility Plan B.


"In the old days" -i.e. my grandma and partly mums generation- people had savings, used cash not credit and where more self reliant.

As we have got 'richer' the banks have spotted a nice little earner in enabling mountains of debt at the same time Nations molly-coddle us into thinking they will save us all. Result: zero or negative savings rates, ruinous debt levels and social/financial imprudence at every level.


If this credit crunch starts people thinking about getting a bit of a financial cushion then it will help out -what doesn't help is massive State level indebtedness, it simply shifts the debt upwards to the level of 'too big to fail'. But of course Nations can -look at Iceland, look at Zimbabwe, look at Weimar Germany.

It seems to me that all we are doing is pushing this great 'day of reckoning' a little further into our future...

Regards, Nick.

I too have concluded that a shock is the only thing that will burst the protective bubble around most people. $147 oil was a small shock...perhaps an extended bout of 10% unemployment (official figures, higher in reality) will alter how people view the world.

As Schlesinger points out in the upper-right corner of TOD, "we have only two modes — complacency and panic."

In the risk management department there is a common error which we seeem to be prone to: we forget to factor in the cost of an decision or detection error.
The probability of tshtf was maybe very small in the minds of our financial overlords ...... but it seems they never thought of the cost of being wrong ...... however improbable.

This is one reason I used financial risks as the initial starting point. For an individual/family the next areas would be water (personal, household, agriculture), medications (Will I die if I stop taking my medication), food (Am I dependent upon the food system, should some be stored and how much, can I produce any significant quantity), shelter (if push came to shove could I live in a vehicle or tent) and, finally, things like clothing, home schooling materials, etc.


The idea of living with lots of family members sounds good in theory: save money, pool resources, etc. Living in Japan, I find that things are still done this way quite a bit. Often the people who do this are at the lower socioeconomic end, running family businesses in farming, construction, fishing or a shop. Needless to say, the grandparents are a huge help with the grandkids. Without the income provided by both the working mother and father, the family couldn't make ends meet. Even though there's government run daycare here it ends around 6pm and having the grandma oick up the kids lets the mother work longer.

But as soon as people don't have to live this way they don't. Most people generally don't live together with extended family. Actually, personally, I would really not want to live with my mother-in-law. I don't hate her, actually we get along, but still I think there is a lot of intergenerational friction avoided by separate living arrangements. The older generation tends to dominate discussions on the basis of seniority and experience. It's annoying, to say the least! If there are other options they should be considered too.

The second link in your post appears to be broken. Was it this story? There's a bit more added to the end of your link.


E. Swanson

I have said for over a year that the right thing for America to do is to force all of the bad debt into the open, default that which must default, and then go after each and every individual involved in any part of this massive fraud, no matter who they are and who they work for.

While this would not have prevented the losses (indeed, it would have forced them to the forefront) it would have demonstrated to the world that (1) we are a nation of laws, and lawlessness will not be tolerated, and (2) it would have provided a buffer (foreign and domestic victims could go after the malfeasors both personally and corporately) against any argument that our government was officially sanctioning these acts.

I whole-heartedly agree with this part. Unfortunately, by the time the dust settles, we probably will not have time or energy left to hunt down the guilty, and our financial credibility in the world will already be destroyed.

The least we could do is begin by shoving a sword up Greenspan's azz to compliment his Honorary Knighthood. Preferabley, in a nice ceremony on Wall Street.

(also, thank you leanan for continuously posting updates and comments by denniger and by automatic earth - they should both be in the financial links at the left of this page, IMHO)

Yeah and the pretty people on CNBC this morning, after the number hit, said that "people leaving the workforce" in the same time period was over 400,000. How convinent of those folks to do that in light of the death march of jobs. I believe one of the examples were people going back to school. I have never seen such blatent manipulation of data.

Just to add one thought to the mix - in this economy, working conditions become harder, and some people may quit their jobs (going back to school is always a good excuse) because the strain is just too much. This is where I got to. Maybe under other conditions, the management where I worked would have been more inclined to see my requests as valid, and to see the somewhat unconventional ways I was contributing to a rich work environment. For example, I had vastly more experience as an MD, was by far the best Spanish-speaking medical provider in the clinic, etc... These qualities had been celebrated in the 90's during the internet bubble. But now, all the management could prioritize was trying to simplify their workload and increase mine.

By the way, this ultimately led to my being able to focus on the present crisis and options for transitioning this family to one of the more hopeful energy-constrained scenarios, and even blog about our transition to a local food based diet (www.ecoyear.net). I see welcoming my sister and her kids as a real possibility at some point in the future. Between my three boys and her two, we should have the food-growing manpower we need.

Retail Sales Are Weakest in 35 Years

The nation’s retailers turned in the worst sales figures in at least a generation on Thursday, starting the holiday shopping season with double-digit declines across a broad spectrum of stores.

This 6.7 % is only the official number mind you. It doesn't include people with part-time jobs, nor the ones that gave up looking for jobs.

From further down in the article:

The so-called under-employment rate, which counts those part-time workers, as well as those without jobs who have become discouraged and stopped looking for work, soared to 12.5% from from 11.8%, setting the all-time high for that measure since calculations for it began in January 1994.

AFAIR there are six different official unemployment levels in US stats, ranging from the narrow U-1 to the broad U-6.

The U-6 level is currently 12.2%.

"U-6 Total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers."

[hat tip: blackswan at Mish]

The good pollyannas - sorry, people at CNBC think that this(the massive job loss) is a sign that the worst is OVER.


It's all very well to look for that elusive silver lining but I have a nasty feeling that the really bad stuff is just beginning. I think only the first 100 of the 1000 dominoes have fallen. The excesses of the past 15 years can't be wiped out in 10 months.


The Holiday Shopping Season is so important for many retailers that they will do anything possible to make it to Dec. 24. After that, watch for many "out of business" signs to start popping up in the malls and on mainstreet. Seed catalogues start coming out in January, so at least all those former cashiers will have something to plan with...

For some of us, the catalogues have already begun to arrive. Totally Tomatoes and Vermont Bean both came in my mail this week. Usually, the seed catalogues start arriving closer to Christmas, so I was a little surprised, but very happy, to see these.

Just got my Fedco catalog! Pretty much the only catalog I need, though I glance through a few others now and then.


It does seem a tad early, but I don't mind.

You mean you just got your Fedco Catalog. [Just doing my bit to support a local co-op business.] I'm ordering early.

cfm in Gray, ME

Fedco is the absolute bomb! The best seeds and the best prices and it is a coop. Order early is right! Been a loyal fedcoite since the nineties.

CNBC sound like used car salemen to me (bad ones) always harping that they have a great deal. Much like someone trying to pawn off a Boss mustang in about 1980.

I used to say that one could probably do pretty well by just shorting whatever is featured on the cover of Money Magazine. Pretty much the same thing could be said for whatever CNBC is touting.

For the real dirt on the unemployment rate, the site to consult is John Williams' Shadow Government Statistics:

Chart of U.S. Unemployment

According to SGS, the current true unemployment rate is approx. 16%


No offense... but that's just bunk.

In order to get to 16% they include people who aren't working... aren't looking for work because SGS thinks they should have a job.

If I remember the last time I reviewed their work, that included those in jail, some retirees, etc.

It's reasonable to challenge government statistics (since they too have a horse in the race)... but this guy sometimes just makes it up as he goes along.

It seems reasonable to me to expect that retirees will be looking for work when their pensions are cut, then cut again. Repeat as required..

And if/when they do... they can count as unemployed if they can't find work.

See how simple that is?


Thank you for your comment, much appreciated. I confess that I haven't examined the SGS data in detail.

There is no doubt a subjective element in the definition of 'unemployment' and so the figures can to some degree be 'inflated' or 'deflated' for awareness-raising or awareness-reducing purposes respectively.

There is no doubt a subjective element in the definition of 'unemployment'

No doubt... but the accepted definitions cover the gammut pretty well without having to make things up. If you think that someone who has a job is unemployed if he has a part-time grocery job when he used to be a FT engineer... there's an existing measure for you.

But if you think that you should include people who can't work (the disabled... the incarcerated... etc.) that's just silly. The point of measuring "unemployment" is to judge the relative strength of the job market. it isn't an economic problem that someone can't work.

Heck, IIRC he even makes an adjustment for the percentage of the aduly population that he thinks should be working and counts any shortage as "unemployed". He obviously knows better than they do whether they need a job.

So what if it's not 16% now ?

But why don't we just split the difference and say the true rate currently is closer to 12%...

Doesn't the trend of that line give you any confidence that we might hit 16% in the (very near) future - I sure don't see any signs of moderation in that slope...

Hell - we'll probably give 16% a pass and go straight on to 18 or 20%.

Doesn't the trend of that line give you any confidence that we might hit 16% in the (very near) future


Not even close to it.

There is a minimum rate of unemployment that represents transition between jobs and a small unskilled population. It used to be that this was thought to be about 6%. We now think it's lower (say 4.5% to 5%). So the U3 unemployment attributable to the poor economy is 2% to 2.5% - That will almost certainly grow (as will the alternate measures of unemployment).... but 16% (overall)?

Highly unlikely. I'd say that the top U3 unemployment will probably be about 8-9%

Denninger's theory would go along with the "Super-Imperialism" view of history by economist Michael Hudson that I have been promoting lately. Again, the central thesis is that, for decades now, the U.S. has used its foreign and government debt as the VERY MEANS whereby to enforce dollar and general economic hegemony over the rest of the world. That would certainly help to explain Paulson's apparent attitude.

Here is a link to the reviews of the book championing this thesis at amazon. I would be grateful for some thoughtful feedback. (The book itself is unfortunately quite expensive.)


Yes, but you have to remember that the "U.S." in this context isn't the standard of living of the average USA resident (far from it). Obviously, the last 25 years have been very lucrative for the extreme upper echelon. As an economy and nation, the USA once possessed actual hegemony-it was dismantled as the dismantling was a better deal for the owners of the country.

To me the really impressive thing about today's report was the massive upward adjustment of the Sept. and Oct. numbers. From 284K to 403K for Sept. and from 240K to 320K for Oct. That's a skyrocketing rise of 41% for September and 33% for October. Splitting the difference, down the road can we expect an "adjustment" for November of say 37% up to 730,000!!?? Now THAT'S an awesome number.

I'm too lazy to look back and compare but are 33% and 41% upward adjustments more or less normal or is the web of lies just bigger each month?

The percent change comparison is irrelevant (an adjustment from 20k lost to 40k lost would be 100% but would still be of little import).

The numerical adjustment is quite high. It is, however, a normal function of a declining economy (revisions tend to be downward as normal assumptions turn out to have been optimistic). You should expect upward revisions of prior months after it turns around (whenever that it).

This says as much as anything, if it is true.

"One in 10 American homeowners fell behind on mortgage payments or were in foreclosure during the third quarter as the world’s largest economy shed jobs and real estate prices tumbled. "


Ten percent of ALL US homeowners in trouble? That is alot of trouble, for it must include free and clear properties and old mortgages issued prior to the subprime mess. Approx one third of all homes are free and clear.

Couple this with the decline in commodity prices, and we'll be seeing a crash of farm and rural land values next spring. As I've been saying here for quite some time, rural land is way overpriced and headed for a fall. The idea may be appealing to some to sell their burb home and rush out to buy rural land, but the wiser ones will rent for awhile, if they can sell. As we seesaw through oil prices and peak, there just isn't much room for rural values.

Ten percent of ALL US homeowners in trouble? That is alot of trouble, for it must include free and clear properties and old mortgages issued prior to the subprime mess. Approx one third of all homes are free and clear.

I take it you mean that since a third of homes are free and clear, that for 10 percent of ALL HOMEOWNERS to be in trouble, then approx 1 in 6 mortgage holders are in trouble?

That's how I interpret the article. So take off the old 20 and 30 year standard mortgages, and it's even worse. It is hard to believe, that this number are either foreclosed or 30 plus days delinquent.

Not to be too cavalier, but I always wondered how so many folks could have so many items or lifestyle that seemed unaffordable, at least to my perception of their income.

As I've been saying here for quite some time, rural land is way overpriced and headed for a fall.

If you think of farm land, if it isn't overpriced then the average farmer would be in so much ag debt with no hope to ever be able to sell his way out of it when he retires?

An interesting point. First, there's a huge range in how, and how much, different producers use debt. I know of both ends. Just as an observation, it seems younger folks are more likely to get overextended in trying to build large operations. But from what I've seen, farm debt is more likely to be local, or through various farm credit services, the old PCA's. As a broad, broad brush, these lenders have worked with the producers for years, know the operation, and don't push the money at them.

And there is a completely different valuation used than what most folks will encounter when they go to buy their 40-100 ac rural spread. Here the valuations have been in the home market, that's what the seller wants, and the valuations may often be 3 or 4 or more times that as agricultural or timber land. Joe Blow may be looking to buy that 100 ac farmette fixer-upper at 4K/ac, and his commercial bank may loan on that, but it's a long ways from the perhaps 1K/ac actual value. From an ag perspective, that place will valued on the number of crop acres, and their soil and productivity. With falling commodity prices, these production based values are falling again.

This is the trap I'm afraid many will be lost in as they flee their suburban home for a go at sustainability or ELP or whatever moves them. Peak oil will destroy these high non production values, and the ag or timber values will drop also. Older farmers will pick properties up for peanuts, for once long commutes and second or vacation homes are over, no one will want them.

Thanks, one thing we can't predict is the exact timing of this transition

And as the news was announced that some 533K jobs were lost, the stock market closed up 200+ points today. Wall Street is no doubt happy that all those workers who are nothing more than costs to management are being taken off the books...perfect time to out-source that work to some folks halfway around the world who will do the jobs for chump change, with no environmental or workplace safety laws.

as the news was announced that some 533K jobs were lost, the stock market closed up 200+ points today. Wall Street is no doubt happy that..

I think thats a tad unfair. I think whats really going on, is the market searching for capitulation, with market timers believe is a sign of a bottom. In this case, I think they are looking in vain for any positive sign.

A bit more on the Baltic Dry Index closing at 666 yesterday and its probable implications (my bolding)

No bulk turnaround this decade: Keith Denholm

Singapore: Pacific Carriers’ commercial manager Keith Denholm, traditionally one of shipping’s more bullish characters, sees no turnaround for dry bulk shipping ‘for the next two to three years’. Speaking to Seatrade Asia Online the Scot, based in Singapore, cited the huge volume of capesizes and very large ore carriers still to be delivered as the impending ‘biggest disaster for bulk’ combined with miners around the world slashing output. With the Baltic Dry Index closing yesterday on 666, Denholm is certain it will plunge lower still, especially when taking into account the perilous state of the banks. ‘There’ll be no trade finance, credit or liquidity for Q1 and Q2 next year,’ he said, adding, ‘Futures for Q1 and Q2 are a dead man’s heartbeat.
With capesizes now being fixed for as little as $1,000 a day, Denholm warned, ‘There will be a lot more blood spilt.

Does anyone have an idea of the actual ongoing decline in shipping by tonnage?

That's what I have been wondering.

My second question is "Does anyone have an idea of what our grocery store shelves will look like by spring?"

Everyone will have an idea of what our grocery store shelves will look like by spring..

I work in shipping.

Figures will not yet be known for a while; it takes time for this data to be collected.

What I can say is that there is a pretty strong slowdown going on, especially in the container markets.

However my impression is that especially the larger vessels operating have been hit hardest. That is also, I think, why the Baltic Dry index is is low. It is composed of a basket of rates for transporting good in bulk, IIRC. But I can tell you that my customers, operating smaller vessels (up to 10000 Grt) are feeling it, are suffering, but is still going not too bad. IOW, they are still operating profitably, and empty shelves due to low shipping rates are not impending

Edit: Obviously the Baltic Dry index is low. Car sales crashed. Steel mills are cutting production (here in Holland Corus is cutting 30% of production). So demand for iron ore and cokes also crashed. These make up a large percentage(how much I don't know) of bulk shipped.

The Baltic Dry Index has fallen to roughly 5% of its high, i.e. one twentieth. Similarly shipping rates for a 40 foot container from Asia to the US west cost were around USD 30,000 and are now 1,300.

The steel mills cutting back shows they expect around one third less steel needed next year this indicates to me that we have more hard times ahead.

The steel cutback is not just because of the auto industry but also housing and commercial construction.
I dare say as much steel if not more goes into a house as in a care esp if you include appliances. Also a
lot is used in commercial construction. Next is the ship construction industry itself obviously building ships takes a tremendous amount of steel. The them is about any durable good market requires a lot of steel. Also generally the durable goods are bought with long term credit. Note even if you buy the washing machine on the credit card generally its paid off over a long period of time. So even when revolving credit its used its effectively a long term high interest loan.

So in my opinion you have a very tight link between steel/copper/aluminum and long term credit problems.

Concrete should also be getting hammered along with plastics to some extent.

So we for sure have a long term credit crisis on our hands at the moment.

Long-term graphs on Baltic Dry index are here:


In short, the Baltic Dry Index bottomed at 845 in the 2001 recession. That means 666 is bad, but it's not Armageddon.

it's not Armageddon

Has it bottomed yet?

666 is bad, but it's not Armageddon.

...but...but...it's the number of the BEAST! Must be Armageddon :-o

Wasn't long ago that human population surpassed six billion, six hundred and sixty million. That's a really scary number. Makes me think that all the fundies & thumpers are right about this being the "end times." ;)

I wonder if the maximum of a smoothed logistic fit to the eventual global oil peak will fall anywhere close to 6 June 06?

That's my dog's birthdate. Should I be worried?

Re: Economists raise doubts about alternative-energy spending

Even Obama's new budget chief, Peter Orszag, has expressed doubts. In his previous job as head of the Congressional Budget Office, Orszag wrote a report in January saying that some forms of alternative-energy spending "are totally impractical" for stimulating the economy and others "could end up making the economic situation worse" by adding to the federal debt.

So, how much did the increased trade deficit add to the present economic mess and the resulting jump in government debit? All that flow of dollars out of the U.S. did not have to happen if the U.S. had invested in local energy sources, including renewable energy. The Federal Debt is likely to balloon a few trillion dollars more this year and next. Gotta love those economists!

E. Swanson

Oh it's the "End Times" alright...it's just that there ain't gonna be no "Rapture". Sucks to be them.

The Foxes who were Guarding the Chicken House are now offering advice for reviving the chickens..

Hard to make out exactly what they're saying when their mouths are full, however.


They recommend welfare and unemployment increases?

'The Beatings will continue until morale improves'

I don't understand the thinking behind slowing down energy projects. Wind, solar, and nuclear have high capital costs offset by low or zero fuel costs. When the price of commodities get absolutely crushed like they are right now, the economics of renewable and nuclear energy look much better if you don't change the long term projections on coal and natural gas prices. Obtaining loans for these projects has never been an issue, as companies were always planning on using government loans for these projects.

There is no better stimulus than cheaper energy plus the electricity sources with low fuel costs usually have high labor costs. That equals lots of jobs.

In other words, the time to build is now, while energy costs are down.

Energy costs are down because people don't have money coming in. Including money to invest in alternate energy endeavors.

Yeah, kind of a conundrum, eh?

Exactly why the Government should be doing it, with made up money.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but... one Yergin, anyone?

Yeah, I have been reflecting a bit on the "Yergin Indicator," i.e., the observation that Yergin is almost always wrong about oil prices. When Yergin started talking about $100 plus oil prices being justified, based on the fundamentals, we should have all realized that it was a massive sell signal.

In any case, Yergin's assertion was that rising production would drive prices down. I believe that EIA preliminary data (subject to revision) show that world crude oil production, through August of this year, is up on average by about one half of one percent (basically within the margin of error) over the 2005 annual average.

Perhaps Yergin was right, but for the wrong reasons? Either that, or he's two steps ahead of everyone else, which would be a hard pill to swallow.

Yergin almost perfectly predicts the future... Or rather, the complete opposite of it. I'd love to hear what he has to say about the current situation...

Yergin isn't always the perfect contra-indicator.

Remember about a month ago when Jerome a Paris felt that something yergin said meant that oil was now a strong buy?

IIRC, crude was about 40% higher then than it is now.

It seems to me that those people saying it was all speculative money inflows (hedge funds) where basically 80% correct. Once these inflows evaporated the price was bound to collapse back down with little support.

IMO: we are now in undershoot territory. Whats the 'fair price' at this point? Anyones guess but its probably closer to $80 than $30... I don't expect it will stay low for too many quarters -oil is far too useful.

Yergin said a recession would bring oil prices back down.

We have a recession. Prices are back down.

And I am sooooo reassured.

Behind the WSJ paywall, but you can get in through Google news:

Supply Chains May Shorten

In the age of globalization, conventional wisdom holds that supply chains prioritize labor-cost arbitrage over mere distance.

Geography, however, could make a comeback. Triple-digit oil provided the first intimation of this. Jeff Rubin, chief economist for CIBC World Markets, estimates $150 crude oil boosted the cost of shipping imports to the U.S. by 11%, costing roughly as much as trade tariffs in the 1970s.

Crude now trades under $50 a barrel, but the crash reflects faltering demand more than rising supply. When demand recovers, oil prices will, too.

...One answer will be shorter, regional supply chains -- a phenomenon observed in changing sources of U.S. imports during the 1970s oil shocks. That ought to have positive implications for exporting economies such as Mexico, while China could suffer.

They do use the words "oil and gas" in the article so it's not too far ot;

"Noisy, Acid Oceans Increasingly Harmful to Whales"

(they should have said and to all ceteceans)


"Airguns used in seismic surveys generate "colossal" sounds peaking at up to 259 decibels and can be repeated every 10 seconds for months. These sounds travelled more than 3,000 km from the source. There are 90 seismic survey ships in the world, the report states, and a quarter of them are in use on any given day."

"In addition, there are an estimated 300 naval sonar systems worldwide able to generate pressure sound waves of more than 235 decibels. Pings this loud are over one billion times more intense than the 145 decibel upper limit deemed safe for humans."

"The more acidic the seawater, the less low-frequency and mid-frequency sound it absorbs, said Hester and his team. The changing chemistry of seawater may mean that currently it is 10 percent less absorbent of low frequency sound than it was prior to the Industrial Revolution."

(they should have said and to all ceteceans)

And all the small spiney things in the sea. Plankton, krill, coral. I don't know if they care about the noise, but the acid is a major problem. A ten percent change in ability to absorb low frequency sound due to acidity is astonishing.

I was listening last night to this wide-ranging discussion of the Peak Oil "singularity":

M. King Hubbert's peak is a perfect mathematical abstraction, and gliding over the top at speed might leave one with a giddy feeling of momentary weightlessness, but according to Albert K. Bates, the reality described by the mathematical object is more of a rocky mountaintop than a glassy smooth parabola, and moving over it's jagged topology won't (doesn't) feel much like gliding. [C-Realm podcast, KMO talks with Albert Bates 1hr mp3]

Among the points made, we are "giving Gaia a lobotomy" just when we need every bit of skill she can muster to maintain stability.

"Maybe god himself needs all of our help."

cfm in Gray, ME

Well intended remark perhaps, but Hubbert's peak is the furthest thing from a perfect mathematical abstraction that comes to my mind. Heuristics such as what Hubbert originally came up with are not math abstractions unless they can be derived from some physical model. In other words, mathematical abstractions are the analytical embodiment of a real model. Heuristics are oftentimes mindless curve fitting based on hunches. Hubbert had good intuition but never came up with an analytical form that he derived from first principles.

and the us supreme court recently ruled that sonar was necessary to keep the terorists out.

(i made part of that up)

With oil now around $40 a barrel, OPEC will almost certainly cut another million barrels.

More importantly, what are non-OPEC producers doing? Many newer projects just can't make money at these prices. I realize that oil majors plan with conservative oil price estimates, but my understanding was that they were planning projects with price estimates around $50 or $60 (which seemed conservative over the last two years).

I'm originally from Louisiana, and my parents down there tell me that rig workers are beginning to get pink slips. So anecdotally, production is being slowed in the gulf.

With the way things are going a $7,500.00 Hummer may be the perfect thing to sleep in! John

Foreclosures soar 76% to record 1.35 million
Nearly 3% of homes were in foreclosure in the third quarter, up 76% from a year ago. Homeowners continue to fall behind on their payments, driving delinquency rate up to nearly 7%.

A record 1.35 million homes were in foreclosure in the third quarter, driving the foreclosure rate up to 2.97%, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Friday.

That's a 76% increase from a year ago, according to the group's National Delinquency Survey.

At the same time, the number of homeowners falling behind on their mortgages rose to 6.99%, up from 5.59% a year ago, the association said. The weakened economy and mounting job losses are expected to push that number even higher.

"We have not gone into past recessions with the housing market as weak as it is now, so it is likely that a much higher percentage of delinquencies caused by job losses will go to foreclosure than we have seen in the past," said Jay Brinkmann, MBA's chief economist.

The Daily Show takes aim at Peak Oil, Environmental Degradation, Overpopulation etc. and how nerdy this whole thing can get.


In the segment they try and find a cure for "being a liberal". Very sad but verrrry funny!


talisman announced the start up of song doc off vietnam.


32% or 16% annual depletion rate depending proven or proven plus probable. fractured volcanic reservoir.

Thanks for the update elwood. That’s a project for which I missed the contract. Would have been interesting geosteering horizontal wells in volcanics. Notice the 25,000 bopd rate vs. proved reserves: they deplete proved in 120 days and total P+P in 240 days. Maybe they’ve low balled the reserves or those horizontal holes will do just that good a job. Unless they’ve presold the production you can imagine how the price drop has killed their joy. Timing is everything.

Re (from links above):

Some Carbon Candor: A climate guru rebukes his mates on cap and trade.

Unrealistically, Mr. Hansen also favors a complete phase-out of coal-fired electric power, arguing that it be replaced by advanced nuclear, which could be capable of recycling radioactive waste within a decade.

He adds: "It is essential that hardened 'environmentalists' not be allowed to delay the R&D on 4th generation nuclear power." We'd like to see him debate Al Gore on that one.

How about instead of debating Al "change-a-bulb" Gore, Hansen debates someone in the "hardened environmentalists" camp that actually has credibility, intelligence, is informed, and is not a attention-seeking celebrity fraud.

Come on... Al needs the speaking fees to pay for his $30,000 utility bill... I just find it ironic that he made an Oscar Award winning movie about global warming and neglected to look at his own contribution... But, I digress.

On the flip side... I am pro nuclear. Why? radioactive waste is much easier to contain and control than greenhouse gas... and much of the spent fuel can be reprocessed. I know, some of this has a long half life, but much of the stuff with the long half life (Uranium, Plutonium, etc.) can be recycled. Also... As for a reactor metdown (like Three Mile Island and Chernobyl), many of these issues have been resolved. Three Mile Island would never have happened if it were a pebble reactor, and Chernobyl happened because... And pardon my french... the Russians on duty were complete dumbasses and were doing things with the reactor they never should have (the best equivalent I could give is if you decided to run the Indy 500 with the family station wagon and drained out all the oil beforehand). Nukes beat Carbon, at least as far as I'm concerned.

Three Mile Island didn't "melt down" like Chernobyl. The damage was the result of operators who didn't understand the problem, so they followed the book as they were trained to do. Trouble was, the valves on the Emergency Core Cooling system had been left closed after maintenance. So, the pumps were running, but the core wasn't cooling. As a result, the accident left 20 tons (40,000 pounds) of damaged fuel rods inside the reactor vessel. It took about 8 years to get to the bottom of that mess, as I recall.

E. Swanson


As I recall, there was also a faulty sensor that was known to be unreliable and it was showing that water was actually flowing to the core. It kept getting pushed lower on the "to do" list.

Also, one of the more unusual cleanup issues was that algae grew like there was no tomorrow in the very highly radioactive water and it was a real pain to filter out.

I did like the radio jokes: tomorrow's forecast - clear and 3000 degrees and the five day forecast was two days.

The damage was the result of operators who didn't understand the problem, so they followed the book as they were trained to do.

I remember those times. I knew someone who did reactor accident simulations for a living. He said they were pretty astonished at TMI, they only ran those sorts of operating conditions under the heading sabotage. But I guess that shows what rote learning -as opposed to understanding the physics, will do to you.

"Come on..." yourself. Flogging a nearly 2 year old story (from Feb. 2007) to support your dislike for Al Gore makes you look as blind to facts as you obviously think he is.

In November 2007 the U.S. Green Building Council awarded the Gore home a "Gold" LEED rating, their second highest level. That was after the bulk of the renovations and improvements that had been ongoing for nearly 3 years were completed.

LEED ratings are based on 8 criteria, including sustainability, water efficiency, energy efficiency, material selection and use and waste minimalization and management. Since then some additional work has been scheduled and/or completed and the home will be resubmitted for further LEED evaluation.

According to this July 2008 earth.com article Gore's home now consumes at least 40% less energy than at the time referenced in the article you link to, with most of the remainder coming from green sources - for which the Gore's voluntarily pay higher rates.

BTW, a year after the anti-global warming, anti-environmentalist group provided the numbers cited in your article, they provided an update that seemed to show that Gore's house was using even more electricity than before. However, as noted in my link, the initial round of renovations and energy conservation measures were not completed until November of 2007, so the second report, like the first, reflected electrical usage that occurred while the "greening" of the 80 year old house was still incomplete and underway, with contractors and their equipment on site.

Up-to-date facts should not only be used in trying to ascertain the current and future trends in the world's energy picture, they should also be used when slamming disliked public figures.

Point taken. Thanks for the correction.

What correction?

Gore decided to actually practice what he preaches only as an AFTER THOUGHT - to avoid further public embarrasment.

Gore did the very least he could do... literally.

Gore did that very least he could do for one reason - to appease the media and save face. He is DESPERATE for attention.

The Gore defenders do not care about credibility. They also probably defended the Auto Execs for taking private jets to Washington, and did a standing ovation for the same execs when they came up with the "Driving a Hybrid to Washington" PR Stunt.


What a screed. You are not interested in communicating.

Gore's home now consumes at least 40% less energy than at the time referenced in the article you link to,

So you're saying that he's only spending $18,000 a year on energy now?

Do I get credit for "green"-ness if I opt to purchase a personal jet with twice the efficiency of normal personal jets? If my only use for a vehicle is commuting two miles to work each day... am I "green" if I buy a hybrid luxury SUV?

Sorry phototaxis, you get credit for "window dressing" environmentalism only if your name is Gore, or you are some dimwitted but popular celebrity that will lend your fat face to the cause.

No need for credibility, half-hearted attempts with good image-management is all that counts.

You really seem to have a huge bug up your ass wrt Gore. He is what he is, and has done a lot of good work, over a long period of time, in trying to understand and present the issue.

I hate to tell you, but if celebrities don't get behind some of these issues, they will never penetrate the popular imagination.

Gore is a bug in the ass. He did do good work for a long time... to bad it took him so long to actually put his money and his lifestyle (at least at a very modest, token-level) where his message was.

"He is what he is" is correct. An extremely wealthy man from an 'old-money family', a member of the donkey side of the "elites," who has not made any sacrifices - just a few token changes to his lifestyle.

But of course, maybe I am expecting too much from someone who is used to living like a king ... I mean, do we REALLY expect the wealthy to change in a way that might inconvenience them?

I certainly don't mind celebrities lining up behind a cause - as long as they are true to their cause.

You need a celebrity? Try Ed Begley Jr.


I'd say you get credit for being 'Green' if you are Teaching, Learning and Working to improve your consumption habits, your skills, and are helping your neighbors (the more the better, obviously) to do the same. I think this argument brings Mr. Gore pretty far into the Legitimately Green category.

How many people have heard and seen him and know of his consistent advocacy?

"How many people have heard and seen him and know of his consistent advocacy?"

Isn't the point here that he hasn't been consistent?

I don't have a dog in this fight, as I really don't care about Gore one way or the other (other than I wish he had won in 2000), but it seems to me that he made the changes after his personally wasteful lifestyle became a public embarrassment. That said, Al has pissed so many people off, that even if he moved into a yurt, they would find something wrong.

I think this highlights a major problem with all of this environmental and sustainability stuff. People only want to do the fun parts. I know lots of enviro types who go alpine skiing and snowboarding (two of the planets most wasteful activities possible).

It's easy to do the fun parts if you have enough money (buy organics, solar panels etc.) it's another thing to do the going without (picture Al Gore living like Sharon Astyk). Maybe that will be one advantage of the economic downturn: people might realize that they don't need all of the stuff they thought they needed.

People tend to frame this as an ethical lapse on Gore's part. I think it is more likely that Gore believes we can have it all as long as we invest in the right technology. Gore's pitch is that we can solve global warming and have abundance as well in the form of increased GDP. This is also, in part, a political strategy on his part. Gore knows that telling people they will have to be denied part of what they see as their right as Americans is a losing strategy to get something done politically about global warming or anything else. I happen to disagree with him but appreciate what he has done to get people aware. No one, however, has figure out how to get people to take the next step, other than token efforts like CFLs and turning out the lights.

The WSJ on the other hand, says Hansen is being stupid or naive to be honest about a tax that is designed to reduce CO2 emissions.

The problem with WSJ, IMHO, is that they can never say anything nice about anybody. Always totally snide remarks.

This is a hit piece in which they claim that no one has noticed Hansen's position on politics of global warming and then go on to say the unnoticed position is totally misguided and stupid. There are so many stupid remarks made every day in America, why single out this particular, unnoticed one for ridicule?

Why not instead propose a workable plan? Ah, that's not their job. They are journalists, not thinkers.

but it seems to me that he made the changes after his personally wasteful lifestyle
became a public embarrassment.

No, he was already in the process of installing solar panels, etc., when the story hit the news. His spokeswoman said that was one reason his energy use was so high: they were doing construction work.

But I also agree that his message really isn't that we need to reduce our consumption. It's more like, "Shop green!"

40% less than what he originally consumed is not impressive. He needs to reduce that original level of consumption by AT LEAST an order of magnitude for him to be morally credible, as far as I'm concerned.

I.e., if he really put his money where his mouth is, he would move into a modest middle-class style home and adopt a genuinely middle-class way of life. The energy consumption rates of someone of his social class simply cannot be morally justified - especially for someone who champions the causes he does.

I don't think that's reasonable. It's not a family that lives in that mansion. It's an organization. Or several. With Secret Service protection.

Good point. Comparing his home to other residences is like comparing the dairy down the lane and a major paper mill, for they are both businesses.

And taking on the life style issue, do others suppose he's really supposed to become an aesthetic and live in a cave? How much credence, and flack, would that garner? He's been harping on this issue for longer than many here have been able to type. He's not singing to the choir, he's trying to convince mainstream and the powers that be, in TOD lingo.

You may dislike him for political reasons, but climate change should not be one. He's fought longer and harder, and done more to bring the issue mainstream, than any individual I can think of. And rather than him being a celebrity using climate change to advance personal gain, I think the opposite is true.

The people who got so bent out of shape over Gore's "hypocrisy" were simply looking for something to latch on to in order to divert the attention away from the real issue.

Al Gore could burn bales of plastic and coal in a drum out back to heat his house and fly back and forth to the supermarket and have an absolutely negligible impact on climate change / CO2 emissions. But the people who are deniers want to string him up - not about his impact to the planet though - because remember we're not the ones changing the climate anyways - it's all natural. They're just fired up about his hypocrisy - not his carbon footprint

If there's one thing the Rush Limbaughs of the world can't stand it's hypocrisy ! Yeah right - what a joke.

No actually, we just can't stand Al Gore or Rush Limbaugh. Both of the make me sick to my stomach for the same reason....Hypocritical blowhards. Not much good for anything other than an example of the need for birth control, to prevent these kind of mistakes.

California May Pay With IOUs for Second Time Since Depression

(Bloomberg) -- California, the world’s eighth largest economy, may pay vendors with IOUs for only the second time since the Great Depression, State Finance Director Mike Genest said.

In a letter to legislative leaders Dec. 2, Genest said the state “will begin delaying payments or paying in registered warrants in March” unless an $11.2 billion deficit is closed or reduced. California, which approved its budget less than three months ago, may run out of cash by March, state officials say.

Sun + Water = Fuel

With catalysts created by an MIT chemist, sunlight can turn water into hydrogen. If the process can scale up, it could make solar power a dominant source of energy.

Not this again.

They still haven't scaled this up or explained where all the cheap and cheerful hydrogen storage will come from.

It would also appear to only be practical on the fringes of the problem (where solar sits already anyhow).

Energy storage for "night or a cloudy day" simply isn't enough. Most areas can see multiple days of overcast weather.

We can use a tried technology for hydrogen storage that is quite mature. Chemically bound to carbon nanorods hydrogen is in place untill combustion. We normally call some types of this hydrogen storage diesel fuel.

Of course the most competitive way to make it isnt from electricity but reforming carbon that happens to be in oil deposits today, followed by carbon that happens to be in coal deposits, so it will be quite a while before we're doing the sunlight to electricity thing, especially when you start playing with real capital costs for this sort of endevour.

In light of all of the data on how conventional energy sources are depleting, there is one explanation for falling prices that I have not seen discussed here, but would qualify as the 'black swan' type of event, only in sort of a 'contrarian, positive' way.

That explanation, or possibility, is that there is completely new technology based on a currently publicly unknown energy source. I bring up this possibility, not because I know how this works, but because of the following article.


Only time will tell if there is indeed a 'vacuum' energy source already developed.

Nikola Tesla Quote:
Ere many generations pass, our machinery will be driven by a power obtainable at any point of the universe. This idea is not novel. Men have been led to it long ago by instinct or reason; it has been expressed in many ways, and in many places, in the history of old and new. We find it in the delightful myth of Antheus, who derives power from the earth; we find it among the subtle speculations of one of your splendid mathematicians and in many hints and statements of thinkers of the present time. Throughout space there is energy. Is this energy static or kinetic! If static our hopes are in vain; if kinetic — and this we know it is, for certain — then it is a mere question of time when men will succeed in attaching their machinery to the very wheelwork of nature.

I think the most dangerous form of religious belief is that technology and science will save us. The belief is that you put money in one end and out comes the solution to your problem on the other.

But science is at least as much about what is impossible as what is possible. Relativity has as at its base the notion that information cannot be transmitted at more than the speed of light. Quantum mechanics says the determinism is limited, there is an ineradicable indeterminism at the bottom. Thermodynamics long ago demolished the possibility of perpetual motion machines. Mathematicians proved that mathematics cannot be mechanized. The earth sciences have begun giving us at least a glimpse of the physical limits of earth and the biosphere.

No one can prove that there won't be some deux ex machina that will solve the energy crisis. But since the discovery of fission and fusion, physics has come up with nothing that is deeply relevant to our energy needs, despite great progress in understanding so-called elementary particles.

Einstein showed in 1905 that the smallest speck of matter contains huge amounts of energy. It was in the late 30s that it was discovered how to convert a small part of that into energy via fission. Not long after it was learned how fusion might be exploited, or exploded rather, but to this day, after more than 50 years of intense effort, it cannot be extracted in a practical way. Nature abounds in energy, quite true. But it is not readily accessible to us. And that's lucky for us. Were it easy, nature would find ways to release it and we'd be toast.

But even if there were some boundless source of energy, and even if we somehow managed to avoid turning it against ourselves directly, its consumption would lead us to press up against other limits, the limits of minerals and metals in the ground, the climate, and so on.

The thing science is showing us these days is that there are limits to what the earth can sustainably supply us (even though we do not yet know precisely what they are in many areas), and that we ignore them at our peril. And what we need science to show us going forward is how we can best live within those limits. But first, it would seem, nature or events or the fates, whatever, is going to have to give us a good thrashing in order for us to develop the collective will to deal with what we already know.

A good example of what you are talking about is that we've known that lightning contains electricity for 200 years, but still haven't found a way to harness it.

We have already discovered the Aladdin's Lamp of free energy - Oil and Coal - and it lit the flame that pushed us to the edge of the cliff. The success of modern civilizations ability to feed 6,741,506,667 (for the most part) daily is a remarkable feat. But at what cost:

Habitat destruction (deforestation)
Invasive species (over 50,000 worldwide)
Population growth(human)
Overharvesting (hunting and fishing)

The simple acronym HIPPO is from the renowned biologist E.O.Wilson who has labored tirelessly into his eighties to represent the small constituents (insects and plants) that have no voice in this grand experiment of civilization yet do the heavy lifting of cleaning the air and water and pollination that makes this living planet hospitable. We are now seeing an extinction rate of 1-5 species per hour: 20 to 50,000 species per year. That is a rate of extinction that makes the Cretaceous (the latest mass extinction event 65 million years ago with a net loss of 73% of species over 10,000 years) seem like a minor event. The Late Quaternary Extinction is happening at a rate of 20 to 30X previous mass extinctions.

When we approach 9 billion people the world is going to appear more and more homogenized and we will watch with helpless remorse while we continue to exploit non-renewable resources in order to feed more and more humans with a projected loss of 50% of world species by 2050. Lots of people, dogs, cats and cockroaches.

People love equations. Here's one:

Human population x Technology divided by
= Problems

Extrapolate that!


In light of all of the data on how conventional energy sources are depleting, there is one explanation for falling prices that I have not seen discussed here, but would qualify as the 'black swan' type of event, only in sort of a 'contrarian, positive' way.

I often thought about this as well. One thing that was extremely interesting a month or so ago was the report that Blacklight Power device had been confirmed by Rowan University (a top tier school) in the Northeast. Sure it's possible that it isn't all its cracked up to be, but considering the experiment was confirmed by Rowan, perhaps Dr. Mills has stumbled onto something.

very impressive...fast is one thing...distance records are better. wonder how far this one can go. Wonder what the distance records is for an electric vehicle.

This idea is not novel.

This idea is also known as a 'free lunch'. Mankind has, indeed, been wishing for this for a long time. If this little quotation is a fair example of Tesla's thinking, it is no wonder that Edison had more success signing up investors.

I have discovered a new, much cheaper way of getting to the moon: jumping! Yes. I've tried it, and can already do 6 inches. A young person in good condition can do several feet and can undoubtedly get a better view.

It's just a matter of scaling up, as is said.

If you improve at 3% a year, how long before you get there? And how do you land?

About 900 years, out of breath.

Rough guess. 2 billion doublings.


"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function."- Albert Allen Bartlett

32 doublings... starting with .5 foot, and getting to 410,000 miles (the moon is about 240,000 miles from earth).

Not to rub, but the exponential function is why we're in the mess we are in. And why it's difficult to see the mess until it's too late... If things start to rapidly go in the toilet because of overpopulation (another exponential function), it's already too late to deal with it... And, most evidence points to the fact that there is a gross overpopulation problem.

Right on the years, wrong on the doublings.
That exponential always tricks people.

384,000,000 meters to the moon, starting jump .15 meters

.15 * 2^^n = 384000000

2^^n = 2,560,000,000

n is about 32. (2^^32 is common in computer science).
So you only need 32 doublings.

You are right. I knew somebody would catch me out somehow. I calculated 2^31 (My HP 48 says 2^31 (y^x)= 2,147,967,296
That is where I got the about 2 billion doublings; should have been 2.6 billion 6 inch leaps (not doublings) at a distance of 250000 miles. I used 31 to calculate the time. Wasn't thinking when I wrote it.
My calculator gives 2^32 as 4294967296; not 2560000000.

Isn't it interesting how we can waste our time on trivia.


Isn't it interesting how we can waste our time on trivia.

Yeah, everyone worked on the math; no one thought about the real world impacts that would come into play around the fifth doubling. That's why I posed the question, so you could all slap yourselves upside the head with a 2x4 full of rusty spikes.

One cannot jump to the moon. That's the special domain of magical cows and silver-forked-tongue politicians.

EDIT: bosuncookie, at least, is looking outside the box.

cfm in Gray, ME

And how do you land?

You dummy! If my legs can withstand the takeoff, they can withstand the landing. You're so negative. :)

I've heard of quantum leaps, but I really think you are taking the concept to the extreme. Why don't you just use a long ladder ?

In the old days, it wasn't so hard to reach the moon, at least according to Italo Calvino:

At one time, according to Sir George H. Darwin, the Moon was very close to the Earth. Then the tides gradually pushed her far away: the tides that the Moon herself causes in the Earth's waters, where the Earth slowly loses energy.

How well I know!--old Qfwfq cried--the rest of you can't remember, but I can. We had her on top of us all the time, that enormous Moon: when she was full--nights as bright as day, but with a butter-colored light--it looked as if she were going to crush us; when she was new, she rolled around the sky like a black umbrella blown by the wind; and when she was waxing, she came forward with her horns so low she seemed about to stick into the peak of a promontory and get caught there. But the whole business of the Moon's phases worked in a different way then: because the distances from the Sun were different, and the orbits, and the angles of something or other, I forget what; as for eclipses, with the Earth and Moon stuck together the way they were, why, we had eclipses every minute: naturally, those two big monsters managed to put each other in the shade constantly, first one, then the other.

Orbit? Oh, elliptical, of course: for a while it would huddle against us and then it would take flight for a while. The tides, when the Moon swung closer, rose so high nobody could hold them back. There were nights when the Moon was full and very, very low, and the tide was so high that the Moon missed a ducking in the sea by a hair's-breadth; well, let's say a few yards anyway. Climb up on the Moon? Of course we did. All you had to do was row out to it in a boat and, when you were underneath, prop a ladder against her and scramble up.

Short on cash, some put a price on themselves

Seeking quick cash in a tanking financial market, would-be sellers of a variety of body products — sperm, eggs, blood plasma, even human hair — are filling waiting rooms and swamping agencies with inquiries.

Or a price on the kids...

U.N.: Child Sex Trade Will Rise Amid World Financial Crisis

More poor children may be driven into the sex trade as a result of the world financial crisis and the spreading use of the Internet by predators to find victims, participants at a U.N.-backed conference said Wednesday...

"Poverty contributes to it," Veneman said in a telephone interview from Rio de Janeiro, where U.N. agency is a co-sponsor of this week's Third World Congress against Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents.

"You are more likely to have demands on children to drop out of school, and if they are young girls, they are very likely to end up in prostitution or being sexually exploited."

The good news: the government wants to provide free broadband. The bad news: they want to censor it.

Maine has a "service" like that, through the University I think. My understanding is lots of libraries won't use it even though it's free, precisely because it is censored. A lot of schools do, though. I've found it to be crippleware because so many sites and services are unavailable. It's really offensive on a class basis as well. More or less on the lines of "the proles get free pap, like on TV. Shopping will be allowed. Moyers and TOD won't be. Download an mp3 and you're busted. Assuming you even have that capability. I wonder if they will allow ssh and tunnels?

Nor is it clear how far behind the regular commercial services are in terms of surveillance; sadly, the internet is being rebuilt for surveillance, largely driven by marketing. Which is why I'm less than confident it will survive peak oil. Were the net sticking to its roots in open systems or free software, or even morphing along the lines of creative commons, I think it would be more resilient and better able to function at a lower trophic level.

cfm in Gray, ME

The bad news: they want to censor it.

As long as they don't ban doomer porn, I'll be OK.


Bruce Hoffman (formerly of the RAND Corporation) gave his earnest opinion that:
“The Internet, once seen as an engine of education and enlightenment, has instead become
an immensely useful vehicle for terrorists with which to peddle their baseless propaganda and
manifold conspiracy theories and summon their followers to violence.”

Next up came Mr. Mark Weitzman (of the Simon Wiesenthal Center) who gave a PowerPoint
presentation of websites which fuel terrorism, and among sites applauding the act as a victory
for Islamism, he inserts Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth (www.ae911truth.org) – a
non-partisan coalition of licensed and degree holding professionals who use their expertise to
refute the official story of 9/11 and call for a new investigation.

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

    First They Came for the Jews, attributed to Martin Niemöller

Hello Zadok_The_Priest,

Thxs for reposting this timely warning to tickle our synapses. The inverse is of course readily available from #119198:

by Tadeusz Borowski, #119198

We say that prisoners leave in a delicate, gray smoke through the crematorium chimney, and that Jews from other countries whose transports are unloaded from the ramp every day float out in black smoke. A group of prisoners known as Canada in camp jargon works here. The work of these people was hard, physically exhausting, and psychologically not to be endured by the occasional actor. The work continues without a break for several hours, several days, several years. Lasts without a break through four and a half million burned people. However, those who loaded them into the gas weren't bad people. They were Jews whose families were also burned.

They weren’t bad people, they were simply ACCUSTOMED.
Sadly, we are already 'accustomed' to burning through more than 50,000 children [5 & under] per day:


What is the likelihood of us being 'accustomed' to burning thru 250,000 children/day?

What is the likelihood of us being 'accustomed' to burning thru 250,000 children/day?

All too readily.

Bob, my simple answer is all of us should forget about making any plea for innocence. None of us have a monopoly on virtue or vice. Like most people, I wrestle with the question of evil.

Your illustrations show poignantly how blind and numb we are to the reality of man's inhumanity to man and our complicity in it by way of active participation and/or passive ignorance.

Absolution, the earthly variety, is rarely fully realized and can only be granted after genuine confession, contrition, and repentance. And this means not just acknowledging evil in the world, but actively working to counteract it's dire effects.

"See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil", is a sure recipe for disaster.

Kevin Carter's picture probably did more good than all the grandstanding speeches by diplomats, generals, and bureaucrats combined. Mind you, Rwanda UN forces General Romeo D'Allard took heroic efforts to bring attention to the genocide taking place roughly around that same time. Like Mr. Carter, he too had to contend with the darker demons of his soul in the aftermath of facing such horrendous horrors.

No matter how bad things become, my personal hope is to have the strength, the courage, the conviction, and the compassion to be a source for order and decency and justice to those around me, as imperfect as that may be. Life is messy and cruel enough and yet we have the freedom not to add to the suffering but instead to confront injustice and to bring peace and joy where possible.

Ultimately that's all any of us can do.

Reminds me of an oddly related factoid that came across my path last week..

Fritz Haber, who discovered the process for Fixing Nitrogen/Hydrogen into Ammonia was also the German chemist who created their early Chemical weapons, and enabled explosives production..

Haber also served his country in the most basic sense with his process of ammonia synthesis. Not only was ammonia used as a raw material in the production of fertilizers, it was also (and still is, for that matter) absolutely essential in the production of nitric acid. Nitric acid is a raw material for the production of chemical high explosives and other ammunition necessary for the war. Having helped to make Germany independent of Chile and other countries for necessary materials, Haber perhaps served his country in the greatest capacity. Without his process, Germany would never have had a chance to win the war.

Another contribution Haber made to Germany's war effort was in the development of chemical warfare. With strong purpose and great energy he became involved in the production of protective chemical devices for troops, but more infamously, directed the first gas attacks against enemy troops. Haber is often referred to as the father of modern chemical warfare as he organized and directed the first large scale release of chlorine gas at Ypres, France on April 22, 1915. Although figures reported vary, somewhere between 5,000 to 15,000 Allied troops were wounded or killed that day, with loses among German troops due to the gas, in the hundreds. Gas warfare, while a psychological weapon, never was a decisive factor in the war. The allied forces immediately improved their protective devices and retaliated with attacks of their own.


Chemistry giveth, and chemistry taketh away, I guess. Sad story, and I guess his wife's was as well.

Hey Zodak,

I'll lend you some bullets that way you can hold the bastards off at the 300yard line when they come for you. One condition, I get whatever bullets they don't manage to shoot at you, I need trading stock.

"Ain't too many problems you can't fix, with 700 dollars and 30-06."

There is a related quote from a concentration camp survivor in which he imagines the impact each individual could have had if they had fought those that came for them in the middle of the night. If they had responded with knives and guns when they each heard the sounds of boots in their foyer.
If each innocent had been able to injure or wound a Nazi at the time their door was kicked open.
I don't imagine myself worthy to judge the poor souls that were carried into the night but I believe our challenge is to correctly identify the threat and take appropriate measures to defend ourselves against it.
Peak oil, financial crisis etc

"Subcultures of conspiracy and misinformation. Terrorists recruit more effectively from
populations whose information about the world is contaminated by falsehoods and corrupted
by conspiracy theories. The distortions keep alive grievances and filter out facts that would
challenge popular prejudices and self-serving propaganda."

"Strategy for Winning the War on Terror", National Security Council

Let's not forget that, to almost everyone, peak oil is one of these conspiracy theories.

This fellow lives off grid in a yurt.

Pretty damn fancy yurt.

My wife has a lot of health problems and while she may outlive me yet, it isn't very probable. So when she dies, I plan on renting out our house and living down below near the river in a teepee. The only stipulation is that the renters leave my library alone and allow me to take a shower once or twice per week. A yurt would probably suffice but I have no experience with yurts. When younger I used to do woods work (thinning, logging, commercial fuel wood cutting, trail maintenance, etc.) and often one of my fellow workers would have a teepee set up. I was amazed by how comfortable they are when set up correctly, even in winter. The liner reaches the ground and is folded over against the ground and the fold covered with rugs. The shell doesn't quite reach the ground and the space between them acts as a stovepipe, keeping the interior smoke free below the top of the liner. A trench covered with flat rocks & dirt brings in air from the outside to the firepit in the middle. The teepee is warm, dry, and not at all smoky. This is how I intend to live out my elderly years, if I live that long.

I met this fellow three years ago and he told me the total cost was around $50000. The wood stove would be more efficient the an open air fire and you would require as much wood. He placed the yurt on a slope in a valley by a stream. The wind turbine provides electricity to pump water to the top of a hill where a storage tank that feeds his water needs by gravity. He has a rain catchment around the yurt that supplies his drinking water. He claims that it does get cold midwinter. I think if he could run an overhead fan it would be more comfortable. He works as a guide for a variety of provincial parks in Ontario.

Have been a regular reader here for about 6 months now. Really appreciate all the work you guys have put in. Thanks a lot. Keep up the great job... (for however long it can be done)

We will keep trying, thanks.

Hello TODers,

WEEKLY FERTLIZER REVIEW: Fertilizer Prices Collapse to Multi-Year Lows
[see included charts please]
This only makes sense as I-NPK is basically 'transformed energy' at 3-5 embedded gasoline gals per high potency X:X:X bag. The factories should be able to pass much of the fuel price savings on thru to the farmer/gardener, yet still have the same flowrate plus still remain quite profitable to expand future flowrates.

The problem is the credit crisis making it harder for the farmer to buy, thus forcing the factories to choke off I-NPK flowrates. As Bill Doyle, POT's Topdog has stated, this is not good overall as global food reserves continue to shrink. Recall previously posted weblinks of I-NPK factory curtailments.

Thus, Brazil's proposal to nationalize, then internally fund & develop their P & K reserves makes sense from a national security standpoint because food reserves allows job specialization. Throwing Govt funding into real assets makes more sense to me than the US policy of throwing taxpayer funds into non-real banking to instantly vaporize away.

I hope that the sugarcane growers move to pyrolysis of the cane bagasse, then narrow-gauge minitrain and/or pedaling Spiderweb networks to move this Terra Prieta back to the topsoil. IMO, this could help time-extend their small P & K reserves [reduce depletion rate] until full-on O-NPK recycling predominates from city back to the farm and permaculture plot. This Optimal Overshoot Decline strategy is better than wading thru sewage, cholera, and starvation ala Zimbabwe--my feeble two cents.

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

Thanks for the heads up last spring on higher fertilizer prices. Even though prices were 50% higher than the prior year I purchased five tons of Urea for $656 a ton.

With natural gas prices down to five to six dollars I'm again looking to buy more Urea, but my supplier is quoting $1150 a ton, a 75% increase over last March.

The problem is a lot of high-priced inventory. No one will buy at $1150 a ton and the supplier doesn't want to take a loss on his inventory. The supplier won't buy new inventory, so plants are closing down. What a bottleneck. I wish I could get some of that Urea at the Gulf that is going for $221 a ton.

Your welcome. I believe once crude and natgas prices turn back up [timing uncertain-->mere months to many years?] that $600/ton will still be seen as cheap. Recall that potash hit an inflation-adjusted for today of $14,500/ton back in 1914 [$500/ton back then] when pop. was much lower, and manure was everywhere:


Wall Street in late day rally
Stocks recover after a morning slide on a brutal employment report. Tech and financials lead the way.

Tech and financial shares gained Friday afternoon, helping the market erase morning losses sparked by a government report showing the economy lost 533,000 jobs in November.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) jumped 100 points or 1.3% with 50 minutes left in the session. The Standard & Poor's 500 (SPX) index added 1.6% and the Nasdaq composite (COMP) gained 2.5%.

"The report this morning confirmed the fears, that the economy is worse off than economists had expected," said Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist at Schaeffer's Investment Research.

"But we're kind of seeing the reaction today that we've seen over the last few days, where there's extremely negative news on the economy, yet the market manages to hold its own."

Hey! We lose over half a million jobs in a month and it's a good thing? Wow. Now, can Wall Street hand me that Kool Aid as my boss gives me my pink slip?

These people are so out of touch...

At time it annoys the poop out of me too, but then I realize the level of the DOW, S&P, or NAS has has littel bearing on the real economy most of us live in - if it ever had any.

Kind of like the price of oil or the cost of gasoline is not truly reflective of the peak energy jam we are in. Low price is good right? Not!


These people are so out of touch...

The dislocation from reality is universal. After hearing that the manufacturing sector in Ontario is being gutted (66,000 job losses in one month) and slowdowns are beginning to show in the Alberta tar sands box, the Toronto Stock Exchange rallied to close slightly up.


The leisure class must be elated that leisure is spreading: parliamentarians go idle yesterday only to be followed by blue collared yeomen today.

A picture perfect pastoral scene complete with the smell of manure.

Time for an elementary school math test. Ready, folks?

If a loss of 500000 jobs leads to 100 point rise in the Dow Jones industrial average, how may job losses does it take to achieve a 1000 point rise?

Put on your thinking hats ...


Just a straightforward cause and effect relationship, of course.

In 1974 there were huge job losses following a massive oil price rise. In 2008 there were huge job losses following a massive oil price fall.


De-icer shortage threatens flights


A 99-day strike by Canadian potash mine workers forced companies to halt production of runway de-icing fluid. Potash is a form of potassium, a primary de-icing ingredient.

Hello Skylar,

Thxs for this info--fascinating how a Liebig Minimum instantly translates into a cascading blowback of more enviro-damage, higher chemical costs, and potentially reduced flights cascading into more problems...

Hi Bob

I was thinking of you when posting.

It's been an awakening to me to discover how closely integrated all these seemingly disparate elements are.

It would be great if you could put together a fertilizer "guest post." Perhaps top-TODer RR could edit for you?

Hi skylar,

This is a great idea, if I do say so myself (having previously suggested it.:)

I have a new suggestion, in case Bob is reluctant. Namely, offer to be the editor and/or co-author. The idea would be to read over as many of his posts as you could, and write up in a short, coherent article, with references. Cool.

Hello Skylar & Aniya,

Thxs for your concern, but Bill Doyle's regular updates w/graphics and the UN FAO reports would be hard to improve upon because they both have armies of statisticians and analysts. I try my best to condense these down with a Peak Everything perspective.

POT's Topdog latest [32 page PDF warning]:


Another graphically dense PDF by Jeff Holzman, Market Research Manager:


Other good links are the IFA, USGS, etc that I try my best to report on regularly because things are changing [too?] fast in our NPK & food supply chains.


I do read most if not all Bob's posts,but unfortunately I don't have the background to properly edit such a post.

That is why I suggested RR who is a chemical engineer.

Hello TODers,

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Among the many decisions awaiting President-elect Barack Obama is what to do about the $30 million left over from his election campaign.

Other Democrats want to tap into the funds to help pay off their campaign debts but they also don't want to appear greedy or ungrateful. Obama aides are torn between using the money for the party and using it to build a grass roots program in support of the president-elect's agenda.
I would suggest the surplus $30 million for Peak Outreach. Btus and calories respond the same if you are Republican or Democrat, rich or poor, or one of many different ethnicities or beliefs. Imagine ASPO, TOD, and EB getting checks in the mail to transform themselves into professional non-profit PR and research orgs.

Part of the U.S. meat industry is bankrupt due to the high cost of corn feed after grain ethanol quotas were enacted in the United States and abroad:

U.S. largest poultry producer bankrupt after higher feed costs

The dark side of laws forcing unprofitable conversion of grain to fuel:

Food vs Fuel, A Global Increase in Hunger and Starvation