DrumBeat: December 28, 2008

With gas falling, trucks come back

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- After nearly a year of flagging sales, low gas prices and fat incentives are reigniting America's taste for big vehicles.

Trucks and SUVs will outsell cars in December, according to researchers at the automotive Website Edmunds.com, something that hasn't happened since February.

Meanwhile the forecast finds that sales of hybrid vehicles are expected to be way down.

American Shores Face Threat of Rising Sea Level: Report Projects 4-Foot Rise in Global Sea Level by End of Century

An Iditarod without snow, Florida's coastal towns lost forever to the Gulf of Mexico, wheat farmers in Kansas without crops.

What sounds like the climatic end of days could be coming a lot sooner than previously anticipated.

Oil prices risk falling further next year

LONDON: Oil prices, which hit record highs above 147 dollars a barrel this year before plunging under 33 dollars, risk slumping more in 2009 as recession curbs the world’s appetite for energy, analysts say.

New Zealand Signs Options to Meet IEA Stockpile Requirement

(Bloomberg) -- New Zealand’s government has purchased options to buy oil and fuel to help meet its International Energy Agency reserve commitments next year.

The contracts, for the supply of 107,000 tons of gasoline and crude oil in the event of a fuel emergency during 2009, cover stockpiles held in Japan and the U.K., Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

Financial Crisis In Russia Holds Threat Of Social Unrest

The crisis had so far largely spared the Russian population, mainly because share ownership and private pensions are still rare. But ordinary Russians have begun feeling the pinch in recent weeks, prompting talk of looming social unrest.

"The crisis has only just reached the masses," says Marina Krasilnikova, a living-standards expert at Russia's independent Levada polling center. "The number of people whose salaries weren't paid in time, whose salaries were scaled back, or who were fired has doubled. Last month, these problems affected every fifth family in Russia."

Power shift

Britain was given a sharp reminder of the dangers to its energy supplies yesterday when Gazprom warned that western Europe could be hit by gas shortages. The Russian gas provider said a long-running row with Ukraine could disrupt supplies this winter.

The fears were raised 24 hours before Russia hosts a meeting of the world's major gas suppliers to set up an Opec-style production cartel that could push up the price of energy in Britain and elsewhere. Energy experts warned that the two events demonstrated that Russia was using energy as a political weapon, and argued Britain should accelerate its switch to renewable power in order to reduce its dependence on unpredictable carbon fuel suppliers.

Gas prices: Five-year low and falling

New York (CNNMoney.com) -- Gas prices fell for the ninth consecutive day, according to a survey of credit card swipes at service stations across the nation released on Sunday.

Kuwait scraps joint venture with Dow Chemical

The official Kuwait News Agency says the country's highest oil authority has scrapped a $17.4 billion joint venture with U.S. giant Dow Chemical Co.

KUNA says the Supreme Petroleum Council met Sunday and decided to "cancel the contract." It did not elaborate.

Natural Gas: Destined For Domestic Consumption Or Exportation?

A debate has been long brewing among Arab oil specialists over how to achieve maximum utilization of natural gas in the producing countries. Is it better to export it or use it in the future development and enhancement of the industrial process in that particular producing country? With time, the debate took on a different dimension. At first, local experts and international corporations disagreed over the necessity to make the most of the natural gas associated with oil, as it was all burned on the pretext that it has no economic value, with the assumption that separating it from oil is costly and unprofitable. The producing countries have thus lost millions of dollars, and the global economy has lost a key source of energy. Many laws were enacted in lots of producing countries against the burning of the associated gas. Nonetheless, it is still burned to this day.

Russia’s Putin, Ukraine’s Timoshenko Discuss Energy

(Bloomberg) -- Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Yulia Timoshenko discussed energy cooperation as Russia considers cutting off fuel shipments to the former Soviet state for the second time in three years.

Pakistan: Highway blocked to protest loadshedding

MANSEHRA: Angry people blocked the Karakoram Highway on Saturday as the frequent and prolonged power outages have affected routine life in Mansehra, Battagram and Balakot.

The hours-long suspension of power supply to Mansehra, Battagram and Balakot has resulted in lay-offs as various small and medium industries are on verge of collapse.

India: Fuel pump attendants became demigods

CHENNAI: At the dawn of 2008, nobody would have imagined that petrol and diesel would be rationed and that they would be greeted by ‘no stock’ boards everywhere. Though the fuel short supply persisted only for a few weeks during July and August, it had a deep impact on consumers in Tamil Nadu.

James Hansen on why scientists should speak out (podcast)

James Hansen was selected as the EarthSky Scientist Communicator of the Year – the scientist who best communicated with the public on vital science issues or concepts in 2008 – by a panel of over 600 EarthSky Global Science Advisors. Dr. Hansen is the director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.

In this EarthSky Clear Voices for Science podcast, Dr. Hansen spoke with EarthSky’s Jorge Salazar at a recent scientific meeting, where Hansen warned of Earth’s climate reaching a ‘danger zone.’

Scientists plan to ignite tiny man-made star

It is science’s star experiment: an attempt to create an artificial sun on earth — and provide an answer to the world’s impending energy shortage.

Fresh eggs, finances and fun: families flock to keep hens

Urban henkeeping has become increasingly popular in recent years, but breeders and suppliers are reporting an "astonishing" rise in the number of UK households buying hens in the last 12 months or so, fuelled in part, they believe, by the economic downturn and growing pressure on family budgets.

Russia look to control world's gas prices

The Russian national anthem blared over the loudspeakers as dozens of oilmen and officials braved the freezing cold to watch the tanker come in, celebrating the launch of year-round oil production from Sakhalin-2, the largest oil and gas project in the world.

They congratulated themselves and stared out to the sea with pride.

Yet this month's event will be dwarfed by one to come early next year, when the sprawling plant on the tip of Russia's Far Eastern island of Sakhalin begins producing liquefied natural gas, or LNG, a relatively new form of energy.

The advent of LNG may one day allow gas exporting countries, who gathered in Moscow last week to create a new organisation, to act as a cartel along the lines of Opec, holding sway over prices and supply, and thus consumers around the world.

Russia-Ukraine gas war again?

Moscow’s threat to cut off gas supplies to Ukraine unless a $2.1 billion debt is paid within the next four days is not an idle one. The Russian state gas giant Gazprom did it two years ago when the Ukranians were resisting a revision of the favorable gas prices they were enjoying. The suspension of pipeline supplies in 2006 had an immediate impact on Russia’s West European customers who rely on it for 40 percent of their gas. There are considerable concerns that other European customers could face further supply disruption if the flow to the Ukraine is cut off, since effectively Ukrainians draw gas from the same pipeline network that carries gas further westward.

Oil may witness strong rebound on high demand

Oil prices are expected to rebound and exceed the 2008 peak level in the next decade as a result of strong demand and narrowing spare capacity, according to a prominent international energy studies centre.

But Cambridge Energy Research Associates (Cera) said the new price spike could again lead to a fresh collapse if Opec tightens supplies to keep prices high, thus largely widening the available output capacity.

Saudi likely to have surplus budget but overshoot expenditure in 2009

A projected deficit in Saudi Arabia's 2009 budget is expected to turn into an actual surplus although the world's oil superpower will likely again overshoot assumed expenditure, a leading Saudi bank said yesterday.

The surplus, albeit small, could be achieved because actual revenues are forecast to exceed budgeted earnings since the Gulf Kingdom estimated a price of $36 for its crude while prices are expected to average $52 a barrel, said the National Commercial Bank (NCB), Saudi Arabia's largest bank.

China to produce 189Mn tonnes of crude oil this year

China is forecast to produce 189 million tonnes of crude oil in 2008, a growth of 1.61 percent over the 186 million tonnes last year, according to a recent report released by the nation's leading oil producer, PetroChina.

The production would rank the nation fifth among all the oil producing countries around the world.

Gwynne Dyer's take on 2008

In January, 2008, oil reached the $100-per-barrel mark for the first time; in mid-July it touched $147 per barrel; and by late December it was back down below $50 per barrel. This extreme volatility is exactly what is predicted by most models when we are at or near "peak oil," and it is entirely possible that we are there now. If not, we will certainly be there within a decade.

South Korea to Spend $28 Billion on New Power Plants

(Bloomberg) -- South Korea plans to spend 37 trillion won ($28.5 billion) building more nuclear and gas-fired power plants by 2022, to reduce its dependency on oil and meet rising demand for energy.

The country will build 12 more nuclear-powered plants, seven coal-fired plants and 11 fueled by liquefied natural gas by 2022, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said in a statement today. The projects are part of a government power supply-and-demand plan that outlines investment for the next 15 years.

Nepalis face 16-hour daily power cuts by February

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Nepal's crippling electricity shortage is set to worsen, with the Himalayan nation facing power cuts of 16 hours a day by mid-February, officials said on Friday, in a fresh blow to the Maoist-led government.

Power generation has fallen because mountain snows are not melting fast enough in winter and river levels are low, hampering an economy which has not recovered from a decade-long civil war.

U.S. Navy Cuts Energy Consumption 12%

Pushed by federal legislative mandates and the need to save money on energy costs, the U.S. Navy has reduced its overall consumption level by 12 percent as of this year, reports the Federal Times.

No additional funds were allocated for the effort, so the Navy is using “share-in-savings” contract systems: Companies pay for the energy upgrades out of their own pockets, and the Navy pays them back through resulting savings in its energy bills.

AAA predicts decrease in travel this season

AAA projects a slight decline in the number of Americans traveling during the Christmas holiday period. Nearly 63.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the Christmas holiday season, a decrease of 1.4 million travelers (2.1 percent) from last year’s total of 65.3 million.

This is the first decline in Christmas holiday travelers since 2002. AAA projected year-to-year decreases in the number of travelers for all five of the major travel holidays this year (Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas). Fortunately, those traveling for the holidays can expect gasoline prices and airfares below last year’s levels.

Stores ride gas volatility

Oil's ups and downs have been a huge challenge for gas retailers large and small, many who struggled with plummeting inside store sales volumes as gas peaked near $4.

Some smaller retailers struggled to merely pay for a 10,000-gallon tanker of gas when those tabs soared to $37,000 to $40,000 this summer, Palace said.

Then, as the price fell, less-vigilant independent retailers began struggling with a new harsh reality: Retail prices were falling quickly enough to undercut the prices independents paid to fill their tanks.

Act now to position NASA Langley for the future

Langley's atmospheric science team is a world leader in measuring and predicting global climate change. This team could provide much of the vital science the new administration will need as it decides on policies to both mitigate and adapt to climate change. The twin challenges of climate change and a post-peak oil energy situation will also demand a major reinvention of air transportation, a vital asset of our economy. Again, Langley has the expertise and capability to be a leader in this reinvention.

'On the verge of an energy revolution'

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- New technologies will move the world economy away from coal and other fossil fuels much more rapidly than experts from the energy industry would have the public believe, according to a new study by the Worldwatch Institute.

Hundreds of old coal-fired power plants that provide 40 percent of the world's power could be retired in the process, eliminating up to one-third of global carbon dioxide emissions, while creating millions of new jobs, the study asserted.

"We are on the verge of an energy revolution," said Christopher Flavin, president of Worldwatch and author of the report, "Low-Carbon Energy: A Roadmap," issued earlier this month.

Demand for oil will fall by largest margin in 25 years

Gloibal demand for oil in 2009 will fall by the largest amount for 25 years, according to the chief energy economist of Deutsche Bank.

Adam Sieminski said oil prices could hit a low of $30 a barrel next year, a fall of a quarter from today's price, because of the sickly global economy. He forecast an average price of $47.5 for the whole year for oil traded in New York. Deutsche Bank predicts global demand will contract by 1 per cent, or 1 million barrels a day, three times the fall seen this year and the biggest since 1983.

Sieminski is predicting much lower prices than most other analysts and even Opec or the International Energy Agency (IEA). He said that other forecasts underestimate how much the global downturn would reduce demand for oil. The IEA forecasts that global demand for oil will rise by 400,000 barrels per day next year, but is expected to slash its numbers next month after the IMF revises down its economic growth projections for 2009.

A Recent History of Oil Prices

The upshot will be a gap between the demand for crude oil and the limits of how much of it can be produced, a quantity that must inevitably fall beyond the point of arrival of “peak oil”, which will force the price up again. Thus oil will become a commodity that is both increasingly scarce and relentlessly expensive. The price of oil (and that of all commodities), is subject to major variations over time, since they are inextricably linked into to the overall business cycle. When the demand-supply gap is reached, oil prices will soar, but the commitments and habits that determine the energy use of oil-users will take time to adjust. It is time-consuming and expensive to introduce more production capacity in the near term, but in the longer run, both businesses and individuals will act to cut back their oil use in response to the driver of high prices. An optimistic economist might argue that high prices promote new investment in production and so new sources of oil will emerge on the market, gradually restoring a supply-demand balance.

Falling oil prices endanger alternative sources

Along with the drop in demand was the removal of investment dollars from the commodity markets. That should limit how much oil and gasoline prices can swing, since hedge funds and banks can no longer borrow money at low rates to speculate on energy.

"We're not going to see the kinds of spikes we've seen in the past," Alaron Trading Corp. analyst Phil Flynn said. "The days of [borrowing] easy money are over."

Inertia is threatening long-term energy strategies

Is the Energy Revolution, which seemed to have great momentum when U.S. gasoline prices topped $4 a gallon in July, going to be put on a sustained hold?

Could the stunning drop in oil and gasoline prices in the past five months, coupled with the brutal economic recession expected to extend deep into 2009, stunt energy advances and thus make us more vulnerable to unfriendly foreign oil producers in coming years?

The answer to both questions might well be "yes."

Blackout fear as UK power plants face axe

A TENTH of the UK’s power plants could be forced to close by the spring of 2013 – two-and-a-half years ahead of schedule, new research shows.

The revelation will stoke fresh concern that the government has not done enough to head off a looming energy generation gap that could lead to blackouts across the country.

Our Oil Reserves Are Depleted; It's Time for Utopia

With oil virtually at an end, what better time to re-examine the economic paradigm that allowed us to think we could use up finite resources and just "grow" forever? Isn't it time to rethink our blind embrace of the "grow or die" philosophy that led us down this self-destructive path?

Venezuela to seize gold concessions as oil falls

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - Venezuela will seize several gold mining concessions that previous governments granted private operators, in a bid to supplement falling oil prices with proceeds from state-controlled gold, President Hugo Chavez said Saturday.

No Russia oil duty cut, budget spending on track-Kudrin

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia should not slash oil export duty to zero and will keep on track its 2009 spending plans drafted during years of economic boom, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said on Saturday.

Phoenix opens $1.4 billion light-rail system

PHOENIX (Reuters) - With a hearty "All Aboard," Phoenix launched a sleek new $1.4 billion light-rail system on Saturday amid uncertainty people will hop out of their cars and onto the train.

About 75 people became the first riders of the 20-mile (32-km) system that snakes through a sprawling desert metropolitan area that includes the cities of Tempe and Mesa.

Planners project building 30 additional miles of light-rail lines by 2025, but it has yet to be determined if the area's love of cars will trump trains.

Charging ahead to push electric cars

Better Place envisions installing thousands of plug-in and battery replacement stations to serve drivers.

Growing More Corn for Ethanol Makes Pest Control Harder

As American farmers have grown more corn for ethanol production, concerns about the practice have increased, too. Critics say turning more acreage over to corn to make fuel can lead to higher prices for other crops, increased soil erosion and other negative effects.

Here’s another potential problem: biological pest control.

Food needs 'fundamental rethink'

A sustainable global food system in the 21st Century needs to be built on a series of "new fundamentals", according to a leading food expert.

Tim Lang warned that the current system, designed in the 1940s, was showing "structural failures", such as "astronomic" environmental costs.

The new approach needed to address key fundamentals like biodiversity, energy, water and urbanisation, he added.

Minnesota's iconic moose are dying off

It wasn't long ago that thousands of moose roamed the gentle terrain of northwestern Minnesota, affirming the iconic status of the antlered, bony-kneed beast from the North Woods. In just two decades, though, their numbers have plummeted, from 4,000 to fewer than a hundred.

They didn't move away. They just died.

The primary culprit in what is known as the moose mystery, scientists say, is climate change, which has systematically reduced the Midwest's already dwindling moose population and provoked alarm in Minnesota, where wildlife specialists gathered for a "moose summit" this month in Duluth.

An interesting article in the NYT about the regional and nationwide housing market, on Page 10 of the Sunday Business section. The odd thing is that I have been completely unable to find an online link.

NYT (12/28/08): Across the New York Region, a Clogged Housing Market

“Right now, we are all focusing on how bad it is,” he (Jeffrey Otteau) said, “but what we are also seeing is a historic reversal of home-buying demand away form suburban and rural areas to cities inner ring suburbs that are more walkable than drivable.”

“In 1985“ he said, “50 percent of households had children at home. In 2000, that was down to 33 percent. Today, it s 29 percent, headed to 25 percent . . . And that means that three out of four home buyers will have no interest in a house in the suburbs with a good school system, which pretty much what we’ve created over the last 50 years.” Mr. Otteau cited new study from Virginia Tech, projecting that a nationwide surplus of 22 million suburban homes on lots larger than a sixth of an acre will be languishing on the market by 2025.

The name change thing got me. I guess it's different editors for the paper versus the online versions.

They seem to have at least a similar article including the suburbs-and-schools riff here, or if that's behind a wall, try Google News on Jeffrey Otteau's unusual name.

Why is it always 'good schools'?

I have my doubts about this. I think its more like greed and they claim
"ohhh its for the children"...when they send them off to day care centers or hire nannies? Let someone else raise them?

For the children sounds like a good scapegoat to me.

Actually I think most schools are not very good and I say this with my daughter being a teacher with a degree in Instructional Technology.

I think the schools long ago quit quality teaching and instead just want to turn them out any way they can.

And why is it thought that city schools are worse than suburban schools and with the manner of allowing kids from the cities to go to the suburban schools? What have they escaped?


They don't want their kids forming important friendships with career criminals-some USA schools are more like medium security prisons, with the teachers in the role of the guards.

Yes, I think that's an element, too. School-age kids are very susceptible to peer pressure. At that age, peers are more important than family. So parents who care about education are naturally reluctant to send their kid to a school where a lot of kids don't value education.

And yes, crime is an issue, too. I never went to the bathroom when I was at school. I wouldn't drink anything all day, so I didn't have to. If you went into the bathroom at a rural or city school, they'd beat you up and take your lunch money. This generally wasn't a problem in suburban schools. Oh, they were just as mean, and just as into drugs, but they had enough money that they didn't have to beat up younger kids for loose change. (My mom used to sew secret pockets into my clothes, so I could hide my lunch and bus money.)

Uh, have you heard of the Columbine Massacre in Colorado? Way worse than stealing your lunch money.

Yeah, but that's pretty rare. And not limited to suburban schools.

There is a difference. My mom is a public school teacher, and she always considered the school system before we moved. Even in Hawaii, where funding is from the state and the playing field is more level than in many other states. The best teachers tended to avoid rural areas (too remote) and city schools (crowded, with a lot of behavioral problems). And the wealthy suburbs had the best schools, because even though they got the same money per student, the wealthy, education-oriented parents would buy stuff for their schools.

In states like NY, where property taxes pay for schools, the difference is glaring. In the Bronx, schools have serious problems like asbestos, leaking ceilings, and toilets that don't work. In Westchester, a few miles away, the schools have Olympic sized swimming pools, air conditioning, state of the art computer equipment, etc.

When I was in college, you could see the difference. Some freshmen already knew calculus, while others didn't have a firm grasp on algebra. My rural school didn't even offer calculus.

Money isn't everything, though. My kids private school costs about 60% as much, per student, as the downtown schools spend, yet the educational difference is staggering, with the "cheaper" school coming out on top.

Parental support, ability to kick out problem kids, and a focus on academics is the key. Of course, private schools don't support special-ed programs very well (though they may support gifted programs, rarely), while public schools are more likely the other way around.

There is no easy solution -- it's socially reprehensible to abandon any child, but attempting to adequately serve all puts a disproportionate fraction of spending on the marginal children at the expense of the mainstream. Does society get more out of pushing along the top 10%, pulling up the bottom 10%, or modestly improving the middle 80% at the expense of the outliers? It isn't easy (or cheap) to optimally motivate and prepare each individual child.

My high school split the difference. If you chose to avail yourself, you could have calculus, physics, and chemistry. Or you could choose shop and remedial algebra, and you could co-op with the Votech your senior year. Or you could drop out and take the GED, and many did. Only a few teachers really cared much which you chose, but if YOU wanted to excel, you could.

The private school my kids attend, though, presumes EVERYBODY is going to college. This isn't a workable assumption for the city overall, but it's really that expectation filter, shared by staff, parents, and kids, that makes all the difference in the outcome. Still, if you want breadth of sports and specialized electives, a suburban school offers more.

My rural school was simply too small to offer much. I was the president of the math club, and I remember watching our math league team fall behind, because we simply could not offer the advanced classes the larger suburban schools could. Senior year, there were about six of us who had taken all the math classes the school had to offer. (Only two years of math were required to graduate.) Because some colleges liked to see four years of math, they put us in a special "advanced" class. Basically, we were taught alongside another math class. The teacher let us study what we wanted, but couldn't teach us calculus. I'm sure she took it, back in her college days, but she no longer knew it well enough to teach it.

In my fourth grade math class (yes, we had a separate class for different subjects), there was a horse race. Along the border of the ceiling ran the illustration of the curriculum, all the way from long division to calculus. Each student had a marker that would trace his/her progress through the year -- nobody expected a student to reach all the way around the room to the end. Well, somebody did.

He was your typical nerdy stereotype who wore glasses, dressed conservatively, yet loved kung fu movies (no, he wasn't Asian).

Toward the end of the school year, it was announced that he and his family were being relocated to Virginia.

In a few years he might be arrested for the crime of rational thought...

My kids' high school graduating class was about 45. There were few academic choices, the district was not wealthy, but for various reasons, it was well-led, and most of the teachers were extremely motivated.

Of the three, one is a successful lawyer, one is a physician and one is a librarian. To be sure, none of them excelled in math or science, but they are all scientifically literate.

My small town high school couldn't offer a lot of high-end classes, but they had the sense to divert some of us to Community College (had to go to the next town over).

Senior year, I went to HS for 4 classes in the morning and a class or two at CC in the afternoon.

HS got rid of a trouble-causer for at least part of the day ;-)

For me, the nearest CC was too far away. It would have been a five-hour commute, round-trip.

We need a community college in every community. No-brainer. Not every one will have the same curriculum or even anything close to a full curriculum - whatever that might be. With all the teachers about to be laid off from the various state universities as they go catatonic and all the empty mall space opening up, it presents a huge opportunity for reskilling. No one will make any money off it, but so what? Otherwise unemployed teachers will take chickens and otherwise empty mall space will be occupied. Send that idea to Change.gov, fat chance.

I saw behavioral problems and educational level differences is my recent experience.

This was in a community college in a rural plain state in a trades program that has become more technical in recent years.

This secondary system has an additional dynamic at work which is a result of education being a for-profit business model.

Some consequences have been mentioned on this board, such as students in dire student loan debt.

Behavior problems range from disrupting class while in session to breaking/changing other students projects.

This was starkly evident in the younger demographic - for the most part.

RE: For the children..

Not to assume that I represent the mainstream, but my wife and I surely are facing this question. Our daughter could walk to a well-reputed public school for first grade next year, or we could choose a more 'outstanding' alternative program that would require driving or bussing her a couple/few miles. How much do you invest in early childhood education.. ie, the foundation of a lifetime?

So far, we have been able to keep the inputs to her from the most crass parts of mainstream media at a decent minimum, hopefully without becoming complete pariahs in our town.. but next year will be a dose of Barbies and Bratz and an endless stream of movies about murder and 'evil', supported with ads for Sugar and dry, air-filled fantasy.. and so wherever we end up setting her up, we will have to be extremely vigilant about giving her tools to put these skewed cultural messages into perspective.

We want to be connected with the full social spectrum of our community, and be as Local as we can be, but we also don't want to toss this little person into a legacy institution that might reward obedience and silent compliance over independent, critical thought, a place which will leave our girl soaking in a stew of sugar, cheap fats, sarcastic TV cliche' dialog, and the untreated angers and fears that express themselves in the maniacal obsession of being saved from pure evil by superheroes. Superpowers, Wonderdrugs, and Ultra Hot Chicks..

Tough choices.. but I'd say a lot of parents may not be as driven simply by greed as it seems from the outside. Even yuppified cityfolk.

I don't think parents are driven by greed, any more than anyone else.

Elizabeth Warren's research was telling. She found that parents were far more likely to get into financial trouble than people without children in the house. Why is that? If people don't really care about their kids, wouldn't non-parents be just as eager to overextend themselves by buying fancy houses? But that's not the case. People will spend money on their children that they wouldn't think of spending on themselves.

My neighborhood is an interesting example. It's an older neighborhood, built before school districts became such a big issue. And the street I live on is the border between a good school district and a bad one. The line literally goes down the center of the road. On the east side of the road, you go to the bad school district. On the west side, you go to the good school district. The houses are the same on both sides. Same age, same size, same lot size, etc. But the houses on the "good school district" side of the road are far more expensive.

There are still teachers who try to do the best job for the kids--at least there were when I retired a few years ago. I had the principal's encouragement to write my own courses and order whatever materials I needed--and this was in an urban school.

I quit when test scores became the only criteria for judging teachers, students and schools. That is where education went off track and became a test score industry.

My daughter was teaching high school science at another county near where I live. She had a degree as I said earlier in Instructinal Technology , which meant she was qualified to create lesson and study guide and work on criteria,etc...but she also had her teachers certificate...something that many teachers do not have but are there on a 'temporary' setup and seem to never get their certificates or at least thats the way it was back about 10 yrs ago that I speak of..and teachers were apparently in short supply.

So I went to her school,which was quite large, to fix a computer for her associate who was also her mentor there. I entered the classroom which had a lab attached and in the back was the supply area where damaged computers,lab supplies and so forth were kept.

As I stopped to watch the class from the back of the room I noticed what was written on the blackboard at the front. It said "3 feet equal 1 yard".....I was amazed as these were sophomores. I asked the fella ,who was her associate and also taught this class if I was seeing things!! He said...'No we have to actually teach this as many do not know that'...I was suprised at his response and he was quite truthful in the responses that todays youth are very academically challenged...

I looked over the class. Many were not paying the least bit of attention. Many were sorta 'doping off'. Almost none were taking notes.

So I fooled with the computers. Some were thrown out though they were not that old. He and my daughter said that most teachers did not know how to use them and most when broke were allowed to stay broke.

My daughter later left for another position in another state. She informs me that its pretty much the same all over. An 'old boy' rather and 'old girl' as well network. You go along to get along and if you stir something up you are an outcast.

Trying to do your best is not what its all about.

I am sure some schools are better but of my relatives I have seen some of them go all four years , graduate and I still cannot discuss much technically with them nor current events.

Airdale-I could be wrong,but I think our shool systems have been in trouble for some time now

Kinda reminds me of an old Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, where LaForge tries to help some Pacleds, a profoundly incurious race.

When he asks what the nature of their mission is, he gets the answer that they "look for things that make them go". When he asks more questions he gets the same answers.

Hi, Airdale. Up above, you asked,

Why is it always 'good schools'?

I think you just answered your own question. Details on the quality of schools - as on crime rates - are often treated like classified information for reasons of political correctness related to your original Marx-like riff on "greed". What's left for parents, especially if they have to move for job-related reasons and don't have years to become familiar with a region, is the cognitive shortcut, "suburbs". As per Columbine, it's no guarantee. But the gang- and bully-infested environment that often prevails in big cities - which is also tolerated for reasons of political correctness - is not something most people would wish on their children. So they do the best with the limited information they are permitted to have, and I don't blame them for it.

"Trying to do your best is not what its all about."

Today's Doonesbury:


The sad thing is, it actually started out to be about good schools!

30 some years ago when my kids were little, parents were active participants in the schools their kids went to. And the schools were all close by. The advent of mega-schools, insane "extra-curricular" programs, bussing all over the map, and in general, attempts to make schools the engine of social reform, rather than education have had predictably dire consequences.

I seriously doubt that private and charter schools will remedy the defects created by abandoning the notion of public education. Return to more compact city life might actually invigorate that discussion.

Its a looong time back but when we moved from the country,where I attended a very challenged school and was taught by the 'rote' method and spelling bees and such, we moved to the new startup suburbs,even then they had coal stokers to heat the burb houses with, and I walked, my brother and I , or rode a bike to the school in the smallish town. Then to the next level was a bit closer but still in that smallish town.

Then for Junior High and High School I was just two blocks away. But then when my wife graduated she was in the 'new' consolidated mega school many many miles from her home and many of her classmates rode buses a long long way..

So how was this 'neighborhood' related? It wasn't for then a judge had decided that the African-American youth were to be shipped from way off to this mega school...of course many fights broke out and so forth.

So if you were from the very poor areas you still went to that mega school...and you got bullies and nerdowells thrown in with all the rest...

Now I am talking 1955,1956 when this happened.And its even worse for my nephew way out in the county went to a very well provided school. The very best. BUT...guess what? They actually used taxi-cabs to bring poor black children out of St.Louis to that very school!!

The judge went rampant in St. Louis to force intergration.

So with integration by force of court...what does the very well off suburbanites get for 'good schools'? It is a dream..and they knew it was that way whilst buying their houses there in that area for it had been raging on for years and years. In fact started back when I was in High School.

Of course I wouldn't move into a poor area with poor schools for my children to be beaten up for lunch money say but after the courts ruling things changed markedly to the 'good suburban schools' that were so highly thought of..

But IMO its the teachers that have created the school 'mill' that I spoke of earlier. That and the courts.

How many parents today go to PTA meetings then? Not many I am sure.

How many volunteer as teachers aides as my wife did? Not many I am sure.


in general on this topic...

When basic education (5/6 - 14/16 years) becomes a service like a supermarket where parents can choose in function of their tastes, income, geo location, etc. and others cannot choose because they are broke, the whole, that is National, education system breaks apart.

It becomes like a country club, vs. a street-meet or desperate town hall thing, where the rich stay with the rich, the poor with the poor, and nobody besides few become educated - some exceptionally so for specific profession at top Unis, etc., such as tax lawyer, international trader, ha ha! ..

The system returns to branding for privilege and generational transmission, like in the Middle Ages.

The US and Britain, in the developed world, have the worst stats for social advancement, probably ever since 1960.

(Little known contrast: Afghanistan and Iraq were at one point equal opportunity countries, and had, for ex. far better women’s employment stats, including in top posts, as compared to many OECD countries. Hard to believe, I know, for Americans who have been drilled to demonize others on ‘human rights issues’ - of course the Taliban were, are, dire.)

Son of dr. becomes dr., son of millionaire becomes millionaire even though he can’t count, and ethnically challenged daughter of single mother becomes part time retail person, whore, unemployed, etc. Destiny, a class society, oppression.

The links below are all mainstream sources based on accredited or accepted studies:

Disturbing finding from LSE study - social mobility in Britain lower than other advanced countries and declining link

Log Cabin to White House? Not Any More CommonDreams

Social mobility lower in US and Britain than in other advanced countries link

Structural rigidities in the US and Europe link

This is just a generalization, but I think social mobility is greater when a society is uncrowded. High population leads to social stratification.

And of course resource constraints contribute to crowding -- more than an absolute density of people-per-square-kilometer.

Overcrowding is not conducive to good physical or mental health.This has been proven experimentally with rats and it is evident with humans.

Population is at the base of the pyramid of disaster we are faced with.The issue has to be tackled in an effective manner.This will be difficult given the cultural blocks plus the growth at any cost paradigm (greed).However,it must be done otherwise all the well meaning lifestyle changes and technical fixes will be for naught.

The BBC article on food production in the links is great as far as it goes but the writer appears to accept a world population of 9 billion as inevitable.

Overcrowding is not conducive to good physical or mental health.This has been proven experimentally with rats and it is evident with humans.

If you have any data about optimum population density for human health I would love to see it.
What I can say is that high population density Northern Europe scores higher on almost every health metric than low population density Wyoming.
The highest life expectancy countries include super-high population density Japan(#3),Singapore(#4), and Hong Kong(#6).

tommy , good points

from what I have seen for myself I cannot see how you can teach a child anything if they themselves are so bloddy minded as to not WANT to know what you are trying to teach them,

that lead me to beleive that really yes , there are people who cannot be taught , at all, ever.

getting rid of these children from our local school was a very very difficult time but the school did get better once it was known . that the expectation was set that "bad " behaviour was "zero" tolerance - yer out and you stay out, worked.

so I conclude that its the bit about not leaving behind any child thats the problem , so you can't exclude then, etc.

for those kids something else is required - just keep 'em out of my school thankyou until they can behave themselves.


is yeast smarter than humans?

well they don't beat each other up! ;)

Natural Gas Bonanza -- Haynesville Shale

Exco Resources has a well producing 22.9 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.


What's not pointed out is we are basically down to source rock - with laterals, etc one well is sucking the gas from potentially several square miles. And the depletion rates in Haynesville are up to 80% in first year. With higher nat gas prices, acreage there will continue to be economic for some time - but in a depression, even the 'good' prospects may be put on hold. I expect there is going to be a high standard deviation of well results depending on exactly where in the shale plays one drills. Unless we have an unexpected polar pig in January, we are going to be swimming in natural gas due to layoffs, factory shut-downs etc.

ytd monthly consumption is up slightly from '07 to '08, through october. october '08 consumption is flat with oct '07.

dry gas production is up about 7 %, 10 month ytd '07 vs '08.

So, Sieminski thinks global demand will contract by 1 per cent, or 1 million barrels a day next year. (he is probably using All Liquids).

My call is that non-OPEC supply, using the Crude Oil Only category, will fall to 37.1 Mb/day next year. Those are 1998 levels. My view is that Brazil, Canada, and Russia will finally join in with Mexico and the North Sea region. My target is June/July of 2009.

What's impressive about non-OPEC supply is its response to price. Flat for six years at just above 40 Mb/day, clearly all the price construction above 40.00 that started in 2004 was required just to keep supply flat. So, like cake showing through the icing, we are about to get reacquainted with the natural decline rate that has been masked since 2003.

For the first time in six years, monthly non-OPEC supply has slipped below the 40 Mb/day mark. As I have written elsewhere, non-OPEC supply is so fragile that it's the nature of non-OPEC supply to be vulnerable to hurricanes, attacks, taxation, and myriad other factors. So, in looking at the figures below, it's likely that AUG and SEP numbers are both hurricane responses but also the beginning of price responses.

2008 non-OPEC Production in Mb/day

40.689 January
40.708 February
40.599 March
40.465 April
40.519 May
40.372 June
40.739 July
39.702 August
39.152 September

From September, non-OPEC only has to lose another 2Mb/day to get to my target of 37.1 Mb/day by next June/July. Mexico and the North Sea are already doing exemplary work--much more than expected--to walk us down the supply ladder. Unfolding now are the world's Stripper Wells going silent, Brazil production, and Russia. Canada is about to join in.

Finally, oil at 40.00 is exerting notable psychological pressure on non-OPEC suppliers. That's hard to quantify but they are pulling in hard on the future.

If the global economy comes anywhere close to a muddle through case next year, that should be all that's required to get the price vaulting back to 100.00 by late Q3.


Well, of the financial pundits whom I respect, none of them see anything approaching a "muddle through" economy next year. In fact, they all see the potential start of Great Depression II, one as early as February or March, 2009.

I think the positive feedback loops showed during the Christmas shopping season where sales simply dropped regardless of what merchants did.


That's the way I see it. I have had to develop a filter to weed out fluff. From Greenspan on down, many are cheerleaders whose optimistic predictions need to be discounted by %50 or more. I don't think they are lying per se, it's just their job, as confidence is essential to the Ponzi scheme.

My feeling is that confidence has left the building and won't be back soon.

A telling point was how many stores were closed before Black Friday. This tells me that many more will close in the January/February timescale after any gains have been eked out, or at least losses minimized.

It is important to note that there is a commercial mortgage bubble still pending at a time that commercial properties are losing tenants. Ongoing restructuring/canceling of personal credit cards and credit lines will mean many won't be buying much, even if they still want to.

Positive feedback indeed!

Part of the "social capital" that has been destroyed in the past 40 years is the concept of trust. I date the organized effort to the Powell Memo, but I could also argue that we've been in resource decline since the late 60's or early 70's - Olduvai theory. It's even more than likely the two forces are related.

I am guessing that this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_Franklin_Powell,_Jr. is what you are referring to.

Very enlightening.

This position may have been valid years ago when most captains of industry had a sense of morals and integrity, but I think the erosion has been going on for at least a hundred years.

There was a time when the moneyed class in England would self-impose exile to America, Australia or South Africa if they were involved in even the hint of scandal or wrongdoing. A man's word was his bond, or, if you like, his "social capital". If it was questioned, it was worthless. Similar to Asset Backed Securities (Sub Prime), I guess.

This deteriorated into some directors and politicians resigning if things got too hot.

Now, people that have been caught as bald face liars or worse, pass the whole thing to the spin doctors or simply ignore it.

Whatever the intentions of the original memo, I think we are now seeing Orlov's stage 3 collapse in progress.


Katrina was likely the first big example of this process. The difference is that Katrina was lack of will and effort. Peak oil will be met with a simple lack of capacity/alternatives.

This is the Powell Memo. I'm not sure where you are going with "This position may have been valid years ago when most captains of industry had a sense of morals and integrity"; the Powell Memo was an opening move in big business' organized effort to reshape the way Americans conceived of business in the post-60s milieu. In the case of the Manhattan Institute, go as far even to the extent of what was linquistically conceivable. [Multiple sources on audiotape and written but not something I can easily reference here.]

Nor was Katrina any "lack of". The response - still ongoing - was deliberate.

Creative destruction (Friedman/Klein) is turning into collapse (Orlov) because there are no longer plentiful natural/low entropy resources. Every subsequent Katrina will be more an more confused. Neither those who wish to exploit it nor those who wish to "fix" it will find - under the best circumstances - the resources they need.

cfm on a small planet in Gray, ME

Hey Todd, you just created a very funny oxymoron..."financial pundits whom I respect" ;-0


So, we expect contraction in non-OPEC supply, quota reductions in OPEC supply, all coming out of net exports. Decreases in domestic production for net importers increase the demand for imports. It will be a lot easier for OPEC to maintain quota discipline if the entire burden of production restriction is not on their shoulders.

I don't see demand declining a great deal next year, not because the world economy will stabilize to any great extent (it won't), but because the low-hanging fruit of demand destruction has already occurred, and because (currently) low prices encourage discretionary consumption.

Nothing cures low prices like low prices.

Gregor, you are way too pessimistic. I follow non-OPEC production very closely and agree that they are now in permanent decline. However the September levels are due to the hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and maintenance in Norway. November and December non-OPEC production is likely to be well above 40 million barrels per day and the average for 2008 will be in the neighborhood of 40.3 mb/d.

I expect the average for 2009 to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 39.5 million barrels per day,possibly a little higher. Past non-OPEC production in thousands of barrels per day:

2001    2002    2003    2004    2005    2006    2007    2008--thru September
38,601	39,521	40,297	40,990	40,799	40,849	40,844	40,327

As you can see non-OPEC production has been on almost a six year plateau with 2004 the peak. If non-OPEC finishes 2009 with an average of 35.5 mb/d that will be a drop of about two percent from 2008 levels. That will be quite a decline and will leave no doubt, in my opinion, that they are in permanent decline.

1) the answer of whether you Ron, or Gregor is correct about non-OPEC supply for 2009 of course has much more to do with credit crisis than with geology.

2)If worldwide credit crisis/economic malaise deepens, it stands to reason that non-OPEC production will go down more at the margin than OPEC. As indicated in this (CERA) graph, non-OPEC oil is much more expensive. So as prices and profits drop, it will be the non-OPEC projects that are scrapped first, meaning non-OPEC production will drop faster than that of OPEC.

November and December non-OPEC production is likely to be well above 40 million barrels per day

For November it may still be below 40 mbpd using the preliminary OPEC and EIA figures. Total non-OPEC liquids production increased by 920,000 b/d according to the latest figures from the IEA and by about 540,000 b/d according to OPEC.

So The OPEC numbers might suggest a total non opec production of about 39.7 and the EIA about 40.1. Split it down the middle and we get 39.9 for November. But I admit this is more of a guesstimate as it's the EIA oil production figures we're trying to approximate using preliminary OPEC and IEA total liquids.

Just adding to the thread here is a quick review of my math. I am trying to gauge non-OPEC YOY losses from June of 2008 to June of 2009.

I take Bernstein's view that 40 dollar oil would eventually result in the US losing as much as 1.2 Mb/day from stripper wells. I think that is much too aggressive in both time and scope for the US, and surprising considering Bernstein is historically bullish on supply. I chop that down by 40%, therefore, and apply it globally because there is no question that small uneconomic wells the world over will go dark at current prices. So I do think the globally we could lose 800 kbd yoy by next Summer from small wells going dark.

Next I posit that Russia will be down 300 kbd by next Summer, and that Brazil will be down 200 kbd. Russia has a geology problem. Brazil now has a credit and money problem (but partly also due to geology). Actually, Russia has a credit and money problem too.

Mexico and the North Sea will combined see another 500 kbd loss by next Summer. (when I first started working on this in November, I did not expect MX to tank quite so hard. Also North Sea looks equally "more terrible" than I had thought.)

Finally, I think we will finally see as much as 200 kbd losses from Canada.

I know that my numbers are pessimistic, however, I would mention again that non-OPEC production tends to roll from one "temporary" problem to another. You string six of these together each year, and what you get is a trailing annual loss that always theoretically can be added back--until the next problem arises.

Even if September is a hurricane low of non-OPEC production, and we add back enough production combined with Thunderhorse to get us back to say 39.7 Mb/day, my 2 Mb/day losses still take non-OPEC down below 38 Mb/day. I doubt very much that non-OPEC production is currently in the process of recovering to its six year 40 Mb/day level from August/September. The bottom line for me is that non-OPEC is being pulled strongly towards 38 Mb/day by next Summer.

These current prices are hitting non-OPEC decision makers over the head. If oil prices recover in 2009 I believe you will see an almost defiant refusal by western producers to do anything besides devoting the increased cash flows to the balance sheet.

Here is the song I think you'll hear playing in the conference calls next year, even if oil was at 90-100: "Won't Get Fooled Again."

2009: Deteriorating economic conditions and credit conditions will equal loss of supply. Improving economic and credit conditions will also equal loss of supply. That's my call.

I think the buzz saw of price and credit conditions--and especially psychology--has lots more work to do on non-OPEC supply for another 12 months, minimum.

What's nice about non-OPEC is that it's such a great test-case for decline, price sensitivity, the cost of the incremental barrel, and the speed at which all these are moving.

If the US financial system does collapse next year, with a currency crisis, I would presume that even my call for 37 Mb/day from non-OPEC will still not be enough to outrun the demand side collapse.


Does anyone have an informed opinion on the survivability of striper wells, during a period of low prices? It is one thing, is they simply decrease production, or shut down until the price recovers. Or, does a shutdown mean that the well will have to be abandoned, and redrilled? Of course the decision to redrill would depend upon the owners estimation of future profits versus cost. Is lost stripper production merely delayed until better prices arive, or is much of this oil lost?

I doubt that many stripers will be shut in directly because of low price. Most have operating costs below $10 (my observations of the permian basin). What will happen is that as they fail, they won't be repaired. Unless prices go lower and stay there for a few years, I don't see this as a big issue.

uneconomic wells will be shut-in, especially the high cost, high water cut low gravity types. nobody wants to subsidize a cash disposal project. imo, operators will remember the good old days and try to keep the wells/leases/fields suspended, producing just enough to hold the leases and may be willing to loose money temporarily such that they can return to production when prices return to economic levels.

i wonder about some of the re-developement projects such as the north sea, yme comes to mind. some will probably be put on hold if not abandoned altogether.

Enemy of State;

It will / would take a protracted period of low prices for much of the stripper production to get shut in. The problem most small producers face is keeping their income up. For most, they simply do not have the financial sophistication to keep an accurate record of lifting costs. In addition, the cost to pump a well is low. The cost to perform well service work is where they (as in I) see the big costs, and that is where stripper production falls into a "shut-in" category. The problem becomes, over time, that a pulling job becomes more costly, due to deterioration while the well is shut in, and that is where production is lost. The equipment on the well / lease still has value, and will be cannabilized over time if prices were to remain low, so that is the rub: what will prices be over the next six to nine months. I see an undulating price until we hit "total" collapse, but do not have any idea what that price will be, either high, low or average.

Where I do see a problem with stripper wells is in financing. For stripper wells, it is already nearly impossible to get financing now, but will become more so in the future. Banks and investors want a stable price and a predictable return. If we continue the wild swings, I do not see much hope for capital for the industry, at my level, except internally financed projects. Even then, with little competition for coming up with low producing wells, it will become less attractive to drill sites which are low risk but low return as well.

Add to that the stated objective of the Obama Campaign to impose a "windfall profits" tax on oil producers, and there will be a further decline in the oil and gas industry at the stripper well level.

BTW, I have seen "propaganda" or educational materials which indicate that stripper wells account for some 15% of the U.S. domestic production, which probably does not account for the associated "refinery gains" since all of that would be processed domestically. If those figures were correct our domestic needs require that we maintain that production. It is a big part of the only secure production we have.

The Wikipedia page shows domestic stripper well oil production at 900,000 bbls a day, to put this in perspective. The National Stripper Well Assn. shows, internally at their website, production of 1.2 million bbls/day, but this is likely barrls of oil equivalent (BOE).

" For most, they simply do not have the financial sophistication to keep an accurate record of lifting costs."

b.s. i dont buy that statement.

and if it were true, the problem would take care of itself, evolution works that way.

It is true. It's not that it isn't possible, it's just that it isn't worth it to collect and analyze this data on a well by well basis. It would cost too much in equipment cost and especially in personel time and the data gained would not make a large difference in your decision. Even at $40/bbl, you aren't going to think about shutting in production unless it gets to 2-3 bbls/day. Even then, you may keep producing it if for no other reason than to put off plugging costs (~$30-50M) Granted this lack of data may result in some wells being unprofitably produced, but that is unlikely, and even if it happens, you are only talking about hundreds or maybe a few thousand a month... As noted above, for the most part, stripers will be produced until they fail. At that point, an engineer will take a look at it and do a back of the envelope calculation to determine if it is worth getting back online. What would be interesting is to know what % of stripers fail in any given year. My guess would be 10-15%.

state regulatory agencies generally allow the operator to place a well in si (shut-in) or ta (temporarily abandoned) status for an extended period of time. they are not in a rush to get wells plugged either.

yes, a lease has fixed costs, no matter how many wells are operated, but there are also variable per well costs for a contract pumper for example and costs based upon volume such as electricity or salt water disposal. if a well is not paying enough to pay the electric bill, i dont know why an operator would keep pumping it at a loss, they can figure that out by looking at the bill (unless they are buying power through primary metering).

amazingly though, sometimes the pumper may have a general idea of how much each well produces, oil and water perhaps by a bucket test. but if there is no test equipment on the lease, they dont have any real way to test. sometimes they can deduce the amount by how much is lost when a certain well is shut-in.

All I am saying is that Even at $40, these wells are certainly paying their marginal expenses until they get down to less than 100 bbl/month. My experience in Permian has been that marginal production costs are only 2-3$/bbl, even on high water cut properties, much less than the $10-20/bbl many like to toss out. On a lease with multiple wells, determining the financial viability of any one well becomes difficult. First of all, all the fluids are sent from the well to a central tank battery for processing and sales. Typically we will do a test of each well once a month, and allocate oil/water/gas back to the well based on these tests. This process is prone to error and is not very precise, but it gets the job done. So while you have an idea how much oil each well produces, it's not very precise. On the expense side, even if you do have electric meters for each well, nobody is looking at them. At best someone looks at the electric bill for the entire lease every month. There simply isn't enough personel. A few years back I was the financial analyst for about 20 permian basin oil fields, perhaps 1500 wells in total. I don't know if it's like that everywhere, but with finance staff spread that thin, you don't have time to worry about the possibility of losing a few hundred$ a month on a marginal well.... you worry about the big stuff, like the two drilling rigs burning through 50k/day or the latest gusher or dry hole. They don't pop out until the engineer gives you a call and says "do we have 200k to fix this well"? Perhaps the key here is marginal lifting cost, which in our case varied from field to field but was typically less than $3/bbl of oil with water cuts north of 80%. Prices have to get pretty darned low before we would start shutting anything in, and that's why most for most large producers don't worry too much about it. With labor for a good engineer around $100 an hour, I want him worried about the million dollar problems, not the hundred dollar problems. This may not be the case everywhere, but I doubt that in Permian these "low" oil prices will be killing many stripers prematurely.

Unfolding now are the world's Stripper Wells going silent

Could you expand on this a bit please? I presume you are suggesting that some are not economical at the current price?

See my comments upthread.

The economies of stripper wells depends on the sophistication of the producer. There are still a lot of mom and pop operations out there, even more family operations, and some small companies which can cut their operating expenses to the bone. I kept leases active through the mid eighties (that being 1980's, not the period with eighty dollar oil) with no employees, doing everything I could by myself, and just holding on. I could take things a little farther this time, since I now have no debt of any kind, including mortgage, and can go back to eating $ 8.00 beans, like when oil was $8.

An operator with three tiers of management, massive employment benefit programs, and buying new vehicles every year for their pumpers are already underwater on stripper wells, right now. Some will continue their losses, unless they have a lot of debt, and keep all of their leases active, but will not see maximum production potential until they see higher prices. With the consolidation in the industry, there are a lot of bigger stripper well operators who will suffer. It just depends on how capable they are of holding on.

And, in a period of bigger government, operating costs are influenced by increased regulations.

certainly some are uneconomical. let us take a look at an example.

let oil price = $ 35 (after adj for gravity and transportation).

we define a stripper well as 10 bopd or less. some govt. agencies use 15 bopd.

and production taxes =10% of gross revenue
and royalties = 17 %

then the economic limit operating cost in dollars/month is:

el = 300*35*0.83*0.9 = $7800

that may sound like a lot, but consider the costs: electricity, salt water disposal,chemicals, labor, supervision, overhead, maintenance, well repairs.

it is clear that water cut becomes critical because water cost a lot(electricity) to pump from depth and then to dispose of.

an operator needs to control expenses very carefully to make a $ under these conditions.

I found this too extremely interesting. By my knowledge no oil company has acknowledged peak oil this well. This is in Pengrowth Energy's presentation slide 9

World was nearing Peak Oil at 87 MMBbl per day and this
has not been changed by recent events
• Peak could be accentuated due to lack of development
and insufficient supply growth
• Rest-of-World production will decline more rapidly in
lower price scenario meaning that eventual peak will have
a larger OPEC component
• Continuing climate change could put pressure on
increased fossil fuel use, despite lower price
• After an interim period of “lower” prices, shorter than
previous cycle, demand will increase, creating supply


The story on the decline of moose in Minnesota is grim.

Does talk of bonds and treasuries put you to sleep?
Maybe we need to stay awake on this one.
If this change in direction for yields and prices indicates a future trend the great bail out may develope leaks of its own very quickly.
Remember last week there was some Japanese suggestion of cancelling USA debt. Some thought they meant defaulting on money owed to the USA but they were talking about letting the USA default. Never mind that the Japanese economy isn't strong enough to be able to do that. In any event it looks like the issue of the solvency of the USA is getting closer to the surface.

Oh, what a fragile web we weave, when we practice to... maximize efficiency:

Train derailment on key western route triggers bridge collapse

A freight train derailed Saturday in northern Nevada, triggering a bridge collapse and disruptions in rail service on one of the country's main east-west lines, Union Pacific officials said.

The nearest alternate route to the north runs through Portland.
The derailment occurred in a remote area along the Humboldt River about 10 miles west of Carlin and 260 miles east of Reno. Thirteen cars containing grain were involved in the derailment.

The 102-year-old bridge spanning the river collapsed a couple of hours after the derailment, and railroad officials are unsure how long it'll take to restore it.


It is frightening when one thinks of how few east-west railroads we have, and how much we depend on them. We can hopefully fix this bridge problem quite quickly, but as resources deplete and spare parts become harder to come by, it will be more and more difficult to keep all of the bridges in order and the rest of the infrastructure in place.

I was rereading your recent article on the cause of price declines and top 5 exporters
I know when you and Khebab did the original work you did a top down analysis - HL.

have you thought of revisiting it with all the data from the megaprojects database.
that is, do a bottom up analysis to see how it would support your original work


I personally like the HL analysis--especially since Khebab used 95% confidence boundaries--and the 2006, 2007 and 2008 data points are falling between the top five middle case curve (post-2005 cumulative net exports of about 115 Gb) and best case (post-2005 cumulative net exports of about 125 Gb) curve.

Saudi Arabia's post-2005 cumulative net exports have been about 9 Gb, through 2008. Our middle case is for post-2005 cumulative net exports of about 43 Gb, best case is for about 53 Gb. So, based on our work, Saudi Arabia has already (net) exported between 17% and 19% of their post-2005 cumulative net oil exports.

First off, I'd like to say I believe that I owe TOD (i.e., its unpaid(!) staff and the active community of readers) an enormous debt of gratitude. I first read Matt Simmons magnus opum, Twilight in the Desert only about a year ago. For my following comments to make sense, I should mention a couple of things about myself...First, I am a developer of Affordable Housing (multi-family, rentals so desperately needed during our recent and coming economic boom in northern Alberta). Our firm has chosen NOT to take an equity position in our developments, rather aiding municipalities and local Housing Authorities on a fee for service basis. I say this because our firm, while profitable, is terribly concerned about the sustainability of Edmonton's social and core infrastructure. We have even changed the focus of our core business (developing industrial/commercial real estate on behalf of pension funds) due to the latter. I have also lived in Fort McMurray where I witnessed people living in campgrounds in the dead of winter (sometimes dipping below -40 in Jan/Feb). I believe Edmonton, while 10x the size, will be facing serious issues in the coming (and prolonged boom) which will happen in northern Alberta.

A couple of things about Edmonton's current Zeitgeist.

1. When I describe my particular (and imperfect!) synthesis of thoughts to local business people here, most believe I'm out of my mind, and that the "good times" are over. If low prices don't kill off our oil and gas industry, the environmental lobby will.
2. Most Edmontonians (and Albertans in general) have absolutely no idea of what is about to happen because they have no idea that our fair Province happens to sit atop the world's largest hydrocarbon reserves, including:

a) With current technologies, some 315 billion barrels of recoverable oil in the oilsands (the most usual number thrown casually around is 174 billion, which is based on what is already considered legacy technology) - this is not an inconsequential fact! If this is true, and at the same time, the rapidity of the decline rates suggested recently by the IEA's WEO report of some 9% annually, Edmonton is in for a horrifically good/bad ride for the next few years. I'm not sure which, because it will likely manifest itself in both ways, and rather dramatically);
b) Since TOD readers are well aware that reserves in and of themselves are meaningless, the IEA "expects" that Alberta will be able to ramp up our current production from ~1.3 million bpd to between 7-8. How the IEA expects us to get to a sixfold flowrate like that is anybody's guess. But even if we only get to half of that, both oil and gas infrastructures and municipal infrastructures are estimated at some $500 billion (CDN) over the next decade in northern Alberta alone;
c) We also have some 500Tcf of CBM/NGC.

I must admit that I consider myself a regular schizophrenic about the 'meaning' of all this vis-a-vis our Province's future. On the one hand, as a business person, this abundance of riches is an aberration and almost an embarrassment of happenstance. On the other hand, the ferocity of global demand will be unprecedented. This is true for Alberta more than other places: geopolitically, the Province has had a conservative government, in perpetuity, for 4 decades. Our proximity to the US makes us a no-brainer export partner. We are its ally, regardless of past bumps in the federal Canadian political system. Our weather, albeit cold, is incredibly stable. We don't have floods, tropical storms, earthquakes, etc. We have sensible labor laws and are part of the Canadian banking system (the strongest system in the globe. We don't have to do much energy exploration. We know where our resources are. All this to say that Alberta, Canada is a no-brainer hydrocarbon producing area for many reasons.

But at what environmental cost? I would like to state first that oilsands "stats" are lobbed like nuclear warheads at an apparently sleeping oilsands industry by groups like Greenpeace. According to official Alberta gov't sources http://www.energy.gov.ab.ca/OilSands/pdfs/FactSheet_OilSands.pdf only a half a barrel of water is used to create a barrel of oil (i.e., 'net', since producers are required by legislation to recycle). Greenpeace likes to throw around the World Wildlife Fund's number (coming from God knows where) of 3 barrels. BTW, all oilsands producers current and future are allowed to draw an aggregated amount of 2% of the mighty Athabasca River's annual flow. Consider the environmental costs of the Hoover Dam... http://www.uga.edu/srel/ecoviews/ecoview040919.htm . Also, the carbon footprint of a synthetic barrel is only about 15% larger than a conventionally drilled barrel (on average). What about the most visually egregious problem of the open-pit mines? Well, mining oilsands is no different than any other type of open-pit mining such as coal. Oh, and the "toxic" tailings ponds? They are necessary for recycling! The most hated part of the industry is actually its most environmentally responsible, at least in terms of water ab(use). They are toxic to the extent that neither fish nor plants can live in them due to a very high salinity content. I have swum in the Dead Sea - should we "clean up" the Dead Sea because it is "toxic"? I have also personally seen the reclaimed land on which buffalo currently roam. Their herd of about 200 appeared to be positively peaceful. Oh, also, every oilsands producer is required by the Alberta government to carry revolving LETTERS OF CREDIT (i.e., money in trust) so that, should they go broke, every square inch of soil would have the financing in place for the costly reclamation process. In addition, the Alberta government is very serious, to the tune of $2billion, to become world leaders in CCS. And yes, CCS can be commercially viable. If it can be done in Algeria, it can be done in Canada... http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/dec2008/gb20081215_848581.... .

So...can we produce our resources in a responsible way? Environmentally speaking, I have personally witnessed huge efforts to do so. Alberta's unconventional oil and gas production is far from perfect, but relatively speaking, what social cost do oil importers ignore from producers in places like Nigeria (I have lived in Jos, Nigeria, which is a political mess that I have seen firsthand - much of it murder and mayhem resulting from a weak government unable to control extortion generated from oil revenue)? What is worse, 500 ducks dying in salty water or thousands of HUMANS dying? Such choices made by importers seem to be wholly ignored by the far-left environmental lobby. Our government, while a benefactor of royalty revenues derived from oil and gas, operates in a highly transparent way... http://oilsands.alberta.ca/4.cfm We are trying to balance a lot, and I have spoken to many political officials who share environmental concerns.

For what it's worth, most Albertan's consider themselves as "outdoorsy" sorts of people, regularly including skiing/skating in the winter and golfing/hiking in the summer.

I apologize if some of this seems incoherently described. If anything, this has been a highly cathartic first TOD post. Practically speaking, from my position as an Affordable Housing developer, the influx of immigrants into our Province from people all over the world, is about to go ballistic...Managing this urban influx is going to take efforts that are ingenious, heroic, socially conscious, environmentally conscious and politically valiant.

Any suggestions as to how we might do better, recognizing the gargantuan demands the world is about to place on Albertans would be warmly received.

nice thoughtful post, but
"What is worse, 500 ducks dying in salty water or thousands of HUMANS dying?"
Hunker down

What is worse, 500 ducks dying in salty water or thousands of HUMANS dying?

In the Grand Scheme of Things, I suppose the difference would be negligible.

I was about to agree with you, and in some ways I still do but...

As long as humans insist on living outside the ecosphere and ducks seem perfectly happy to exist inside, a loss of thousands of humans would be beneficial, whereas the loss of ducks would be a loss to the system as a whole.

So, my vote goes to the ducks. i'm not a Greenpeace member, I'm jus' doin' the math.

I agree with you wholeheartedly. The world is too populous, greedy and generally unsustainable due to our reckless exploitation of fossil fuel resources. Having said that, it currently "is what it is". I have spoken to Alberta politicians and energy experts who ALL believe that Alberta should use some of its revenues to develop commercially useful renewable alternatives. As TOD regulars will no doubt know, the shift from our addiction to fossil fuels will be painful. I would liken oilsands production to something like methadone. Not something an addict really wants long term but necessary to prevent death in an opiate addict during the (still painful) transition.

There is no doubt that Alberta will continue to see unprecedented investment. It is my hope that we will continue to invest some portion of our proceeds to help not only Alberta and Canada make the "Transition" but the world's.

We are a feisty group!

As long as humans insist on living outside the ecosphere and ducks seem perfectly happy to exist inside, a loss of thousands of humans would be beneficial, whereas the loss of ducks would be a loss to the system as a whole.

So, my vote goes to the ducks. i'm not a Greenpeace member, I'm jus' doin' the math.

Agreed. I was recently watching the Albert Barlett Video "Arithmetic, Population, and Energy" (Available on Youtube broken into 8 segments).

As he's discussing the population problem, he has a list of "things that help population to grow" on one side and "Things that help population decline" on the other.

Knowing that we need population reduction, and that it's going to happen one way or another, would you want to have a say in the method of population reduction that's used or would you be happy with whatever mother nature chooses?

He goes on to ask hypothetical questions....

"Who's going to go out and campaign for disease?" "Who wants the murder rate to increase?" All of the things that society deems to be "Good" are in the category of things that "help increase the population."

Probably the best active decision that can be made is to choose to limit our reproductive actions. I'm not convinced that, even it enacted today, that it would prevent the human suffering that is bearing down on us.

Once you see that you need to reduce Human populations, the question becomes, "How do you choose who dies, who reproduces, etc." Letting Mother Nature choose her method is probably the best in a purely Darwinian sense. Only the fittest survice. However, it probably won't take too long before a critical mass of people comes to this realisation on their own and decides that they want to be the ones to live and find a way to kill the rest of the Humans to get the total population below the carrying capcity of the earth. If you were one of "The Powers That Be" and you had control of the ability to reduce the Human population while excluding yourself as a casualty, would you sign onto the plan?

When Oil's decline starts impacting the ability of the world to feed itself, and the chaos erupts from this, what's the alternative if you are one of TPTB?

All this reminds me of the premise for the Tom Clancy book "Rainbow Six." In this story, there's a rouge group of doctors, scientists, etc. who have engineered a pathogen that will wipe out something like 80-90% of humans and they plan to distribute it at an olympics after the core group has been innoculated. Just food for thought.


Interesting points that are all uncomfortable, at best, considering that things seem to be accelerating.

Probably the best active decision that can be made is to choose to limit our reproductive actions.

I have no intention of limiting my reproductive actions, but I have taken steps to limit my reproductive success. :-)

I have no intention of limiting my reproductive actions, but I have taken steps to limit my reproductive success. :-)

Well, yes, I suppose you have a very astute point there. I've quickly rethought my position and agree with you. Limiting the reproductive success rate is what I "really" meant. :P


Probably the ducks. Like canaries in the coal mine, they are a leading indicator.

I'm not qualified to comment on the environmental effects of tar sand mining however I must ask you one question - What is the EROEI of tar sand mining.I suspect that it is not much better than oil shale.

I can see that you have a vested interest in the industry as a supplier of infrastructure.IMO 2009 will be the beginning of the time when many vested interests will face a perfect storm rather than just a little frigidity.

The EROEI calculations are, of course, driven by various methodologies of oil sands production. TOD recently posted a good (albeit partially estimated) report which can be found at: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/3839 from which the authors suggested that the EROEI was significantly positive for oilsands production in general. In that post, they also briefly describe a number of new technologies that will continue to improve our EROEI.

Hope that helps...

500 ducks dying in salty water?

You are either very ignorant or arrogant. You might do better by first educating yourself a bit on the adverse effects of the operation:

- Air pollution: respiratory illnesses caused by constant long term exposure to carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxides, ozone, fine particulate matter and sulfur dioxides. Deforestation cause by acid rain will become an issue in the long term as well.

- Land use: to date some 400 sq km of land has been stripped bare and polluted just for the production area. Only 1 sq km of this has been certified as reclaimed so far.

- Water use: between 2-4.5 units of water are used to create a unit of syncrude in volume. Despite recycling tailings ponds cover an area of 50 sq km. In time these tailings ponds will leach into the ground water and create a risk of a large scale catastrophe if the dams break and allow the tailings to run downstream. And yes, they kill migratory birds that land on them (a bit more than '500 ducks').

- Other effects: more development, support infrastructure, roads, housing, municipal services, pipelines, substations, tanker traffic etc.

But let us ignore those duck loving extreme-lefties for a while and concentrate on the real issues:

- EROI - Energy Return on Energy Invested - compared to conventional crude production, the production is immensely wasteful requiring the movement of enormous land masses, energy inputs of natural gas, vehicle fuel and electricity as well as energy for all the support infrastructure required. And just like any limited resource reservoir, as you scale up the operation and move to lower and lower grades, in time your EROI will deteriorate even further.

- Oil/Tar/Shale will never be a solution to our energy problems since the flow rates are fundamentally limited by water use. Even now the Alberta projects are essentially stuck because of restriction placed on the water use.

And finally the "outdoorsy" people of Alberta are beginning to get sick of the foul air, increased traffic, all the side effects of development... Many of them liked the life they had before the oil companies moved in - you see, for some people money isn't everything. You cannot buy health, clean air or a community with money.

"You are either very ignorant or arrogant."

We shall see about the ignorant part...

"You might do better by first educating yourself a bit on the adverse effects of the operation"

Ditto...see more below.

"Air pollution: respiratory illnesses caused by constant long term exposure to carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxides, ozone, fine particulate matter and sulfur dioxides. Deforestation cause by acid rain will become an issue in the long term as well."

Actually, please follow your own advice on education:

The data seems clear. Albertan urban air quality is good by comparison to most other cities in north America. Fort McMurray's(!) is surprisingly good:


"Land use: to date some 400 sq km of land has been stripped bare and polluted just for the production area. Only 1 sq km of this has been certified as reclaimed so far."

That's true but misleading. Reclamation is a process that ENDS with a reclamation certificate. It can take several decades to complete. Syncrude alone has 46 sq km are currently undergoing the expensive reclamation process. Do they love spending spending this money? Of course not. Albertans have demanded some level of environmental stewardship from its oilsands producers.


I do not deny challenges. But people need to be told the whole story about the oilsands and rely less on rhetoric. Criticism is necessary and welcomed. For what it's worth, in situ production (about 80% of oilsands reserves are in situ) — the extraction of bitumen buried too deep for open pit mining — doesn’t require tailing ponds.

"Water use: between 2-4.5 units of water are used to create a unit of syncrude in volume."

You have some of the facts. 2-4.5 barrels are needed to process each barrel of oil, BUT these numbers INCLUDE recycled water...as I mentioned in my previous post, the NET amount AFTER recycling is 0.5 barrels or less. http://www.energy.gov.ab.ca/OilSands/pdfs/FactSheet_OilSands.pdf

EROEI comments...I have already mentioned the EROEI post which argued for significantly positive estimations for oilsands projects. I am not an expert, so I will leave those calculations to those who can properly make them...However, perhaps a few other comments are in order. Since EROEI is directly related to "carbon footprint", the following should be taken into consideration: it really depends on how you measure the full life cycle of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. You need to look beyond the production phase, because up to three-quarters of the emissions occur during combustion in vehicles. When you take this “wells to wheels” measure, consistent with California policy makers, the gap narrows considerably—the overall carbon footprint of crude from Canada’s oil sands is approximately 15% higher than Saudi light crude and actually less carbon intensive than some Venezuelan grades.

On the issue of "carbon footprint", let's also not forget about the debate about who should be responsible for emissions? The producers or the consumers? Again, I wish we could all drive hydrogen-powered cars, I really do, but this won't happen for at least a few decades.



"Oil/Tar/Shale will never be a solution to our energy problems since the flow rates are fundamentally limited by water use. Even now the Alberta projects are essentially stuck because of restriction placed on the water use."

If you read my whole post, I agree that fossil fuels are NOT the solution but should be rather considered a transitional strategy AWAY from fossil fuels.

Thanks for your responses.

When you take this “wells to wheels” measure, consistent with California policy makers, the gap narrows considerably—the overall carbon footprint of crude from Canada’s oil sands is approximately 15% higher than Saudi light crude and actually less carbon intensive than some Venezuelan grades.

Given there is strong evidence we not only need to reduce emissions, but actually go backwards, how do you justify increasing emissions by 15%?

That's nothing less than suicide.

Sad. When I began reading your treatise on the beauty of the development of tar sands, I thought you were actually going to talk about sustainable housing: earth homes of various types. But, you didn't.

Ah, well. More BAU! Or is that BSAU?



You say that in situ production doesn't require tailings ponds. So where does the water go? In situ is, after all "steam assisted gravity drainage". Steam comes from water. Where does the water come from and where does it go? Some SAGD projects use the equivalent of 3 barrels of water for every barrel of oil produced.

Just as importantly, SAGD is a natural gas hog. I believe it was Matt Simmons who said that it's like using gold to produce lead.

Have you read Nikiforuk's book in its entirety? I get the impression that you've just been reading industry brochures.

I don't like the rating system and never used it, but if I could today, I would give you a -20. I agree with some of what you say. Alberta is blessed; we are likely to have another boom, and I will benefit from it, at least indirectly. But you are so over the top that iI just couldn't stomach it. I felt I had to respond.

Where have you been for the past 15 years. Edmonton (and Calgary) have faced unprecedented growth and labor shortages for over a decade. What makes you think it is necessarily going to get any worse? Right now there is a downturn in the labor market and, until there is clear evidence of available credit and ultimately higher oil prices (in the hand, as it were), you are not likely to see much of a 'boom' in Edmonton. When, and if, it happens, we will view it with the ambivalence we viewed the previous 10 year boom.

You seem to think that the environmental lobby is totally against any development. In fact, the environmental lobby in Alberta has generally been quite responsible. Its concerns with tailing ponds are real. Its concerns with water are real. Its concerns with air pollution are real. Its concerns with animal and human lives are real. However, I think that many of them accept that there will be some development; just make it responsible. Frankly, after reading James Hansen's warnings, maybe we should just stop development; but that won't happen.

Tailing ponds are not just 'extra salty'; they also contain chemicals toxic to animals and humans, and they leak quite profusely (11 million liters of tailings water per day). Somehow, I can't see you swimming in these 'salty ponds' and surviving. Just like the birds cannot, and thousands each year die trying. (Estimates vary, but thousands is not out of line.)

Your estimate of 315 billion barrels may or may not be accurate, but just remember that total barrels of recoverable oil, doesn't mean that you can recover all of this oil. Somewhere earlier in today's TOD there was a comment about Alberta being lucky if it could maintain something under 2 million barrels a day of oil, and you are postulating 7 - 8 million barrels: at what cost. At what cost in terms of natural gas; at what cost in terms of water; at what cost in terms of a polluted atmosphere. The National Energy Board (I think this may be Greenpeace's "God knows where" source) states that the "water requirement for oil sands projects range from 2.5 to 4.0 barrels of water for each barrel of bitumen produced." This seems a bit more than what you suggest. They also state that the industry does try to limit this by recycling water, but they don't say how. Is this part of the tailing ponds? As well, the Athabasca river, which is the source of water for the oil sands, has significant potential for water scarcity, especially in winter, and climate change may make water flow in the summer equally problematic, and the life of a river, and all that is in it, depends on adequate flows; thus, just drawing the water from the river may not be an ultimately viable option

I think that most Albertans would not agree at all with your comment that we have a 'transparent' government. Just look at the efforts being made currently to revise our health care system. The minister has no intention of telling Albertans what is coming. Why not? In the energy field, the ERCB (Environmental Resources Conservation Board) has a history of being non-transparent, although it seems to be wanting to change that image. 40 years of the same government does not lead to transparency.

As far as the visually egregious 'open-pit mine'. You must think that all of us consider the sight of open pit coal mining as visually appealing, and thus of no consequence. We may live in the North, some of us in small towns away from civilization, however we still are Canadians, and we still know how to appreciate natural beauty.

As far as the buffalo roaming: Do they do it on the 104 hectares that have officially been 'reclaimed' by the oilsands industry; out of 40000 hectares that have been disturbed.

Finally you say "Most Edmontonians (and Albertans in general) ...have no idea that our fair Province happens to sit atop the world's largest hydrocarbon reserves..". Frankly, given that Calgary and Edmonton have based much of their growth on the petroleum industry, I find that line just so much bullshit; Albertans are acutely aware of their resources. They want them used responsibly, over a reasonable time frame, in a manner that benefits them and not just the oil industry, and in a manner that doesn't destroy the environment.

So, welcome to TOD. Please post. But don't try to snow us.


I have to agree with you, Don. As someone who lives in Red Deer and who has just read Nikiforuk's book on the tar sands, the 5.5 billion cubic metres of toxic sludge scares the bejeezuz out of me (witness the mess down south with the recent spill that volumetrically was peanuts compared to McMurray's mess)

It is good to read as much as possible...both sides have their critics. By way of example, Nikiforuk was publicly called out on a number of erroneous facts by the ERCB. This would at least beg the question of many of the other facts he claims:


Of course, each stakeholder has his/its own interests to protect. These are often the most helpful in reading between the lines.

5.5 billion cubic metres comes from the Pembina Institute and has also been cited by the Globe and Mail's Report on Business. That's 13 times the volume of Sylvan Lake! And it IS toxic sludge full of carcinogens that makes mincemeat of any life form that gets in its grasp.

Thanks for the warm welcome! :)

I have run out of time today to address some of your concerns...however, I have tried to respond to others above, of which some overlap more than a few of your comments. As an Albertan, I am concerned about many of the same things you are. It is our belief in the ability of gov't and industry to responsibly develop energy alternatives to conventional oil and gas reserves that we may rather disagree about.

Sorry to say,but there are not "two sides" to every version of the problems with the Tar Sands in Alberta. I drove thru that area in '06, spent a little time on my way to Alaska, and it made it ever more clear to me. You are killing us all.

There is only one side.


Power Down.

The dissemination of information is what TOD seems to be about. If you have some, please share it. If you have ideas, based on actionable means, please share them.

You drove through "that area", the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo? What tiny fraction of it? Fort McMurray? Fort Chipewyan? Cold Lake? The RM of Wood Buffalo is nearly 70,000 sq km...

I've lived in Fort McMurray. Never smelled anything strange, the water quality rivals Edmonton, from my experience.

I am killing everyone? Did you even bother to read any of my posts or the supporting documents I offered up?

I want to encourage an informational debate, not anger anyone. I understand that any type of industry, especially those based on the production of fossil fuels will garner the rancor of certain people. If you read my posts, however, I view the oil sand industry as more a necessary evil, akin to methadone for an opiate addict, than any type of solution. If you are a regular TOD reader, you will know that the coming supply shock will cause global problems that make the current credit crisis look like a veritable walk on the beach...We need a proven transitional solution from conventional fossil fuels (coal being the worst GHG emitter) http://www.canada.com/topics/news/national/story.html?id=1023609 but I have not seen anyone be able to offer such a solution on a global scale...

Thanks for your comments anyways.

Happy New Year.

If you have ideas, based on actionable means, please share them.

Did you not see the last two words in the post you were responding to? Pray tell: if I buy ten acres of unimproved land, build a strawbale home using all second-hand and/or recycled materials, grow my own food and build my own DIY energy systems, just how much do I need FFs?

If everyone does the same, or similar (as it would apply to their situation), how much FFs do we need?

How many more actionable ideas do you need?

The poster said: leave it there. Power down.

Pretty clear, I thought.



This late entry on Drumbeat has not received attention, which surprises me.

I would have thought financial collapse and constant news of job losses would have shaken the average American into some sort of rational, or at least cautious thinking, regardless of whether they are peak oil aware. I'm not even considering a new car and 3 ton pavement pounder is out of the question.

I ask myself; "What does it take for this delusional fantasy to end?"

Ditto that. These people who bought the trucks and SUVs will be screaming bloody murder when the prices go up. Obama said this is not the time to become complacent, to make the same mistakes we made in the 80s. Well, it's already happening and hear nothing from him that will address the problem. Obviously, the recession isn't bad enough yet. Gotta have that shiny new truck.

I've never understood "retail therapy" so maybe that's what I'm missing.

Madison Avenue vs reality and the jury is still out as to who will win.


Winston Churchill comes to mind:

America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.


You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else.

Did a search for the link, did not find it.


Along with Russia, Venezuela, Iran and the Dubai property market, add another name to the list of bubble economies hurt by the falling price of oil: the ethanol industry. And naturally, the ethanol lobby is looking for a bailout on top of its regular taxpayer subsidies.

All they have to do is apply to the Federal Reserve to be a bank and viola!...They are eligible for TARP funds. That's what GM basically did when GMAC, their financing arm, petitioned to be a bank and was accepted. This one act opens the floodgates of money into GM. If you're in the 'in' group, you've got nothing to worry about. I'm sure that because ethanol has such a low EROEI potential, the Fed would approve such a rule change. I mean the name of the game is "Change the rules to suit your cronies."


Bubble economy according to the bubbleheads at the WSJ. Keep on wallowing in wishful thinking. After all, according to Rove the reality based community is a thing of the past and what the US regime and media decide constitutes reality.

My New Year's Greeting ( and a bit of a polemic)

"Obviously, the recession isn't bad enough yet. Gotta have that shiny new truck."

I would be very much informed if we could get a link to the recent survey TOD completed concerning the demographics of the folks who post here.

Obviously, not many here seem to remember the 1970's much less the oft mentioned "Great Depression". I well remember the former, not the latter, and I must inform folks:

This so called "recession" is far from being "bad enough" or as bad as it could get.

Excepting the people who have lost their jobs and businesses (and there have been nowhere near as many of those per thousand people as there was in the 1970's) things are not that bad. Gasoline prices have dropped to an almost insanely low level. If the buyer of a new SUV would bother to set aside some of the money that they are throwing away on Wall Street to be managed by Madoff clones, say about $10,000 to $15,000 bucks, they can lock in their gasoline prices for the next 5 to 7 years (depending on driving habits). Frankly that is about as long as most of the currently built junk will last anyway.

I have been shopping for a home that is closer to where I work to reduce the amount of fuel I use. Even when gasoline was $4.00 per gallon it would have been essentially a "move of conscious" and not for financial reasons, given that the cost of the home plus interest would have far exceeded the cost of the amount of fuel I use.

Now with gasoline prices having fallen by over half, such a move would be financially insane. Home prices have declined slightly in our area, perhaps 5% to 8%, but given that that they had more than doubled in price in our area in the prior 5 or so years, that's not enough to make any real economic difference.

Yesterday CNN showed a list of the worst 10 real estate markets for 2009 based on current projections. 9 of the 10 were in California, with the 10th being Washington D.C. (which always happens after an election year due to incumbants moving out of the city, more houses are on the market to be sold. They will be bought in many cases by the incoming administrations hires)

This is a "media" recession, with the decline in the stock market hurting the once godlike "masters of the universe" in the financial community on the east coast and the real estate collapse crippling the "golden states" of the west coast. We must recall that to the U.S. media, nothing exists out in the outback of the country that is move that 100 miles from either ocean. Since the U.S. media reaches the rest of the nation it must be remembered they can do great damage by way of the airwaves. They are currently talking down the U.S. economy in an effort to see to it that the whole nation suffers the pain they and their overlords are suffering. They may yet succeed.

The media hysteria has already caused most regional and local banks to lock down credit. This has been hard on businesses who were having no difficulty whatsoever even when gasoline was $4.00 per gallon. It has caused consumers to pull in spending and wipe down debt. This is not a bad thing, but causes a painful contraction when everyone does it at once. I myself in an effort to "play it safe" have basically wiped off most debt and can wipe it all out in the first quarter of next year even if I become unemployed. I know many folks who have done the same.

The worst effect will be the "hangover". We can assume that many people are now terrified of the stock and "risk" markets, meaning they will earn investment returns of less than 2% or 3% for a long time to come. Whether or not these folks know it yet, that will lead to a much leaner retirement than they may have originally envisioned.

There is a real "crisis" of confidence now. Everyone is asking themselves "Exactly who am I taking investment advice from anyway? Why should I believe anything they say? Where was the 'financial press' in this whole mess, and what value is what they publish given that they saw nothing coming before the fact?"

The endowments of universities, charities, foundations and other non profits will take years to rebuild and some never will recover. This means valued institutions with a history of supporting education, the arts and medical and humanitarian causes will not be able to assist others as they will spend most time and resources attempting to guard their own preservation.

But the greatest tragedy may be individual: People who have had years and years of invested money stolen from them will probably not live long enough to see it returned by the natural progression of the business cycle, and live the rest of their lives in that peculiarly American "semi-poverty" that means month to month, hand to mouth, nervous and frightened by any hint of bad news anywhere.

Notice that I used the word "stolen" above, and that is what happened. There was no cause for the current situation except outright theft and incompetence.

Many in the trade and their many apologists are now trying to use so called "unavoidable" circumstances to cover their misdeeds. "It's the computers, they make volatility unavoidable"..."it's resource constraints, this is what happens when you near peak oil, gas (aluminum, tin, cattle, grain, copper, scrap metal, nickel, on and on and on?) "It's overpopulation...it's anything except what it is, pure and naked taking from the masses to concentrate the wealth to an unregulated, mis-educated (who will now throw the textbooks and curriculums of the business schools into the garbage or better yet burn them for energy to avoid them doing anymore harm), it's anything except what it is, the most vile mechanations of the most incompetent and currupt financial class in the known history of Western Civilization.

People speak often here on TOD of "relocalization". I have expressed my doubts concerning the pollyanna views of those who see a return to a Norman Rockwell world of little towns and little farms. There is a reason that humans have left the farm over the centuries.

But if we are going to relocalize, let us begin with something that matters: MONEY. Invest closer to home. Take your investment advice closer to home. Recent history should stand as proof of the myth of "Wall Street know how" and we can disavow the advantage of education gained at the elite and "Ivy League" business and financial schools. They have disgraced themselves and the system that created them. As the endowments of Yale, Harvard and the other "elite schools" disappear, let them think of the type of people they have unleashed on the world and the things they were "taught" in their formative years at these "schools".

Support your own banks, support your own instate colleges, and support the local businesses in your community. There are ways to relocalize without returning to a shack in the woods. We have seen that the "elites" have little to offer except graft and curruption.

Lastly, I ask my fellow baby boomers to really look at what matters. Look at yourself, look at the your nation. Remember our youthful idealism, our love of music and the arts, our support of the things that don't "pay" in the normal sense such as archeology, anthropology, our love of the heart of culture. Money and for that matter energy are not ends in themselves. They are tools to gain for us a real experience of life.

Thank you for all I have gained here at The Oil Drum, for the great minds I have been blessed to meet and have a chance to read the thoughts of and most of all the opportunity to rethink things over and over and reexamine my own thoughts concerning over and over. All communications with everyone here have been to my benefit (even the "strained" ones :-) and I am grateful for each and everyone I have communicated with and the things I have learned.

Thank you all and Happy New Year, and just remember, we ain't licked yet...:-), we still have things to do!

Roger Conner Jr.

This is a "media" recession

That's just humorous. I'm curious as to how you've come to the conclusion, apparently, since you are claiming this is a media recession and comparing it *now* with previous recessions even though this one is just getting started and those are finished and known, that this recession is essentially at its trough? We are now seeing 500k+ jobs lost a month, with expectations of 1M /mo to come. Home prices are down @20%+, and set to go another 20%.

To call this a media recession is bloomin' silly. The media denied there was a recession until the financial crisis hit in full force, and even then many denied it until it was officially declared - a full 11 months after it began. It is even sillier given that those who called it, and are calling for far worse to come, were hardly media darlings: Denninger, Schiff (I've seen commentators actually laugh at him, though now they fawn over him), Jim Rogers and a few others.

Your perspective is strange, to say the least.

The media hysteria has already caused most regional and local banks to lock down credit.

Please. It was Paulson who went to Congress and blackmailed them with threats of collapse, unrest and martial law. Your claims are easily dismissed just by looking at the most basic facts of the situation.

I have expressed my doubts concerning the pollyanna views of those who see a return to a Norman Rockwell world of little towns and little farms.

Let me express my doubts about your comments as you have more than once misrepresented re-localization. There is no Pollyanna approach here. We are facing a choice: live sustainably, and move toward that with as much cooperation as possible, or suffer severe consequences. Who, pray tell, has claimed this would be easy? Or that it must mean going backwards as opposed to forwards? My own conception of a possible future is one where resources are husbanded such that technology is not only kept alive, but advanced. However, not in such a way that it overwhelms society or drives it to growth for the mere sake of bigger, better, faster.

Lastly, I ask my fellow baby boomers to really look at what matters. Look at yourself, look at the your nation. Remember our youthful idealism, our love of music and the arts, our support of the things that don't "pay" in the normal sense such as archeology, anthropology, our love of the heart of culture. Money and for that matter energy are not ends in themselves. They are tools to gain for us a real experience of life.

How does this not contradict your stance on re-localization? According to what I see of people who encourage it, what you describe is exactly what they are aiming for.


Completely agree. If anything, the media is trying to whitewash the economic news. It's far worse than they're letting on.

First allow me to say that I know my views are (and usually have been) unpopular regarding the economic situation (as well as on the energy price issue when I warned my friends not to put everything in oil stocks and futures when oil was already over $140 per barrel. Some of them listened thank goodness. Others...:-(

I cannot address each of your refutations as I am due to go to the county seat in a bit and ironically pay property taxes. But I will speak to the issues that stand out:

First, unemployment. Where I am employed we cut staff by about half. So I guess you would say "see, the recession got 'um." But as in so many of these cases, that is not what happened. Most of the staff cuts were before there was any hint of a recession over a year and a half ago. Our firm, which had never had a losing year, was purchased by a group of 4 hedge funds who immediately began a massive cost cutting binge to make us "competitive". As I said, never a losing quarter, but long time teams and staff were dismissed across the board without regard to performance. Recession caused this unemployment, or this kind of abuse before the fact helped propel the recession? I don't have to tell you what the evidence shows me. The people let go have been replaced by Indian subcontractors.

House prices. I frankly must tell you that saying "Home prices are down @20%+, and set to go another 20%" is the type of misleading crap the media has been pushing from the start. I have searched for a house recently and in most of the south and midwest houses are down hardly any at all, and the ones that are happen to be high end homes built in expensive neighborhoods. There is an old proverb that says "If you have one foot in boiling water and the other foot in ice water it can be said that 'on average' your pretty comfortable. The abuse of house pricing statistics render them to the point of garbage. If you take out the worst 20 or 30 markets I would not be surprised if house prices are not flat or even up slightly. In the areas I have shopped, from just outside Louisville KY to Lexington KY to just outside Birmingham AL and some brief looks at Wisconsin (too expensive so I gave up and looked at moderate priced homes and even condos in Chicago) I certainly have seen no measurable discounting.

The credit lockdown: What a freakin' disgrace by our media and yes, if you want to attribute it to Paulson have at it, I consider him to be the worst of the worst at fear peddling. Just before the hysteria campaign I know of at least three mortgages among friends that were let with no money down and in one case a young couple expecting a baby who had never owned a home were given a loan on a home, could not raise the closing costs so a second bank was called who gave them a small personal loan to pay the closing costs!!!

My perspective is "strange" because it is the perspective at street level. I went shopping just before Christmas and almost couldn't get into and out of the mall for the traffic. I went to a restuarant (because since no one is eating out, it would be nice and comfy for once right?) and finally took curbside a rack of barbecue ribs to take home and eat because I would have had to wait another hour for a seat!

Now if you read the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, CNNMoney, Forbes, Barrons, Fortune and the rest (and I read them all, at least online if not in print) you would believe that the above scenes COULD NOT be possible! The country is doomed, ground to a halt.

I do not deny that there is a real slowdown in many places. But to conjecture that the whole country is represented by markets that have seen house prices rise by 400 and 500%, and now when prices drop back by let us say 40%...and that broke the country? Bullshit.

I do not deny that there has been a rise in business failures. If you terrify the customers long enough on the news, yes, they will stop spending. Duh.

I do not deny that there has been increased unemployment. As I said, businesses who have long been looking for an excuse to lay off it's older most expensive employees and to contract the work overseas have always seen Paulson, Bush and Chaney as friends. Before they left, they delivered. Blame it on the recession, it was unavoidable, right?

Have I covered most of what we discussed? Oh yes, relocalization. I live in a town of 1200 people. It's great, except that at least half of the people have no health insurance, laborers wages and no invested money in anything. Most of them have children who will never see the inside of a university. These are the "future" of our nation as it competes with high technology nations in the "information age"? Not unless we reach out and pull them into the 21st century. I hear people who have never lived in the country tell me how great it is to "relocalize", produce everything in the town you live in, etc. etc. If you choose to do so, assume there is a price to be paid. To repeat, there is a reason people leave the farms if they can. Now if your alrady wealthy, sure, it's not a bad thing to be a "gentleman farmer". If you have nothing, you will probably still have nothing 30 years from now, and when your health starts to fail, what are you going to do? Still be out there on laborers wages? Yeah right.

Now let me say, as I said (and you ignored) that there is a way to make relocalization work, and due to the outragous conduct and disgraceful behavior of the financial community, we now have a chance to do it: Move your money closer to home. In my area you could have bought stocks in our local banks, bought local state and municipal bonds, and bought local property and you would be fine right now. THE MONEY LOST IS THE MONEY THAT WAS SENT TO THE "DEMIGODS" ON WALL STREET. The money lost was the money that was invested per the advice of the "business press". Get the investment closer to home. Put it in the GUTS of America, by which I meant the real guts, out away from the coastal areas, out where the mills and farms and foundries and thousands of small shops and producers still operate.

Per your last paragraph, I have nothing against smalltowns or against living in the country. I just want people to understand that there is a real issue in living there, and that issue is MONEY. Move your investent into the heartland even before you move yourself into the heartland. Warren Buffet does just fine in Omaha, thank you, while the cadre of thieves peddle their whipped up hysteria on the coasts.

I will NOT accept the lies spread by the business press, by the media and by the "experts" who are paid by elitist theives. And i admit, YES, I have followed their advice before, and yes, I have subscribed to their lies before and yes, I was one who accepted their "authority" and even bought into their cult of "superiority" before. But the time has come to break them, to bring them back down to Earth. They are not fit to be invited to any civilized gathering. Let us just say it, they are thieves and incompetents. We as a nation need to disavow them and disavow the schools that trained and "taught" them. We need to free ourselves by disavowing thier "mock" depressions and their mock "crisis". We need to disavow their sponsers and thier mouthpieces. There is a "crisis", that I accept, but it is a whipped up dog and pony show with a purpose, and with an audience.

And once more, this so called "crisis" was whipped up by them for no other purpose than to reduce the wages of the masses (that is happening, reduce the savings of the masses (that is happening) and steal back the property of the masses at a discount (that is happening). This is nothing more than a dog and pony show to break the biggest investing class in world history, who until the thieves got to their money had the biggest nest egg in world history, ripe for the stealing.

Years ago I told my sister on a trip to Louisville, "look at the tallest buildings. It is a historical fact that those with the tallest buildings have the most power, whether they be priests, warlords or businessmen, look a the buildings." Like most cities, the tallest buildings in the city were owned by the financial community and the medical community. I told my sister back in the mid 1990's "What we are seeing is a contest. We are seeing a contest between the medical community and the financial community for the biggest nest egg in world history, as to who will get to it first." My sister said "The medical community will, they will have to spend it on health care as they die." I said don't count on it, the financial community will try to keep that from happening. She could not understand, How would they do it? It was invested money wasn't it? How would they be able to get it?


(I admitted to a polemic in my prior post. You wanted a polemic, read it and argue with it...Happy New Year
(P.S. In the interest of full disclosure, I personally did not lose a red cent in the recent "crisis". I lost some after the terrorists attacts of 9-11 and saw the game that was being played starting even then..."We need more Americans owning their own homes..." G.W. Bush

Now, I am talking to friends...I would take all the gasoline futures I can get as a hedge (if I don't make money I will still burn the gasoline) COMPLETELY wiping off all credit card debt (return at least 8% to 12% and will take utility bonds, TVA bonds and moving all the money I can to credit unions instead of banks (if you quality for a credit union, get there) The only stocks that interest me right now are high dividend yield propane distributors) This is NOT investment advice, I take no responsibility for it, but just by way of telling you what I am thinking...we will see where we are next year at this time!


Everything you stated from

First allow me to say...


...you would believe that the above scenes COULD NOT be possible! The country is doomed, ground to a halt.

is logical fallacy. t ain't happening where I am, so it ain't happening! Yet, the claim that the downturn has been stated to be consistent and universal to all places and all people is just hyperbole on your part. I haven't heard even the worst of analysts make such a silly claim. This begs the question, why do you?

Now let me say, as I said (and you ignored) that there is a way to make relocalization work, and due to the outragous conduct and disgraceful behavior of the financial community, we now have a chance to do it: Move your money closer to home.

I did not ignore it. I asked how you square your criticism of re-localization with your statement of what you think we ought to value when the two are the same. I did not address your suggestions because.... that's localization, which just makes your comments all the more strange.

All you are doing is calling for BAU Local. It won't work: advocating investing equals inherent and assumed constant growth, fractional banking, etc. And the assumption that local = safe is also fallacy. The same fallacy you made above. I, of course, agree with your screed against Wall Street and its ilk, but if all you want to do is localize/regionalize it, what have you gained? None of that is sustainable.

And once more, this so called "crisis" was whipped up by them

You have expanded "them" from the media to Wall Street and the media. I can't be held accountable for responding to what you wrote.


I admitted to a polemic in my prior post.

Indeed. I don't fault you for it.

You wanted a polemic

I did? Sheesh... be careful what I ask for, eh? He-he..

read it and argue with it

I always find conflicting internal logic interesting. At the same time, I always have a strong response when an unfair or inaccurate characterization is made. I found your statements about re-localization inaccurate and unfair, so I responded. Everything else was secondary.

There is much we agree on, but it seems your view does not yet go far enough... at least from my perspective.

BAU, in any form or to any degree, is suicide.


o.k., I will make it easy and simply disavow my own words on relocalization based on the possibiliy that I have misread so many posts here on TOD and in other places concerning it. I accept for the purpose of discussion as valid whatever version of "localization" you accept, o.k.? That works for me since I have been familiar with the concept since just after 1980 when Alvin Toffler first discussed it in his book "The Third Wave".

What other complaints, let's see "You have expanded "them" from the media to Wall Street and the media."

I had hoped to have made clear in my original post (and several before this one in fact) that I pretty much consider the mainstream media as paid mouthpieces for Wall Street (and I admit that "Wall Street" is an unfair generalization but I did not want to make the effort of trying to name each of the firms and individuals who behaved most shamefully, and most people understand the general term "Wall Street".

The so called "logical fallacy"you accuse me of, "ain't happening where I am, so it ain't happening!" There is some truth in your charge. However in one way what I am accusing the media and those who are peddling widespread panic of is the same fallacy, that being "if house prices are down this bad here in California or in the overpriced suburbs of certain cities that indicates THE ECONOMY is bad. I will accept the charge that I do not believe that. On the other hand, I had thought I had avoided the problem on my part by pointing out that yes, in certain areas and certain industries things are indeed bad. I am glad I do not own a home in California (at least in the hardest hit markets) but I do not accept that as reason to attempt to create hysteria and lock down the function of banks, scare consumers away from the stores etc, nationwide. Why does the media not make the distinction between the hardest hit markets and the rest of the nation? I admit that I think because it does not suit their purposes.
You say,
"I always find conflicting internal logic interesting. At the same time, I always have a strong response when an unfair or inaccurate characterization is made."

That is a good thing. You may (or may not, I am guessing) wonder why I feel so strongly about this issue and why I make the argument that the whole nation is now being misled by "unfair or inaccurate characterization".

My motive is simply this: What we are seeing, by the accumulation of news stories, press releases, and government statements, is an attempt to cover the tracks of what is the greatest robbery in history as something that was unavoidable, that was just a part of business, and caused by some great unseen forces. My view, from all I can find out (and yes, street level personal experience would be considered by me as one source of information)is that the current crisis (and yes, NOW there is a real crisis) was not caused by some unseen force, but was caused by wilfull actions on the part of a relatively small group who intended to benefit from it and by a relatively larger group who were so incompetent they acted (for the most part unknowingly) as lackeys for thieves. These same parties have been more than willing to attempt to cover their actions by playing to an American "guilt" issue: "it's because you people want to drive decent cars, or take vacations, or live in decent housing, you want to live beyond your means!" So by playing on the puritan guilt of the American people for even a meager lifestyle, they walk away with the wealth of kings.

What has astounded me most of all is that the American people seem to have no capacity for outrage. That is scary. What would it take to anger the public? We have become docile, and therefore defenseless. In times gone by, the theives would at least attempt to hide their acts our of fear of retribution. Now we play endless logic games, and endless self blame and curse our own desire for, what is the hated term, "BAU".

You state that BAU (whatever that means) is impossible. Possibly true. A nation that can invest without fear of theft would be "BAU" I suppose. A nation that hopes for a decent lifestyle in decent homes could be I suppose. A nation that assumes that if they save and are diligent year after year they will have a chance at a decent retirement would be "BAU" I suppose. I don't know, perhaps not.

As for me, I am only able to do one thing: REMEMBER. Remember how the financial community and the political class who acted on their behalf treated us. I mentioned several business publications in my prior post. I will not subscribe to them anymore, simply because they are worthless. As I said, I will deal with credit unions instead of banks whenever possible, and will deal with local banks first before national ones. I will continue to look for other ways to remember those who have acted shamefully in their treatment of the American people, and treat them with the level of regard and respect they deserve. Does that make "logical sense"? Probably not, but at some point, we must be as correct as we can be by our own conscious.

You make one more statement that I must confront, and I do this with all the honesty I can:
"None of that is sustainable"

In the greater scheme of things, that is true, since we are all going to die. Our life is not "sustainable". But as for this "unsustainability" issue, I think at the cultural level, you are right in one way: Nothing is sustainable for a nation of people who have no guts. We are told that "this economy can't be sustained", and enough of the public are starting to buy into this determinism that it will become true...because the American people have essentially given up.

I assure you that the wealthy and the powerful don't buy into it. They will sustain the lifestyle they choose. And there are more than enough "resources" on the Earth to do it. The rest wil not have the guts to be outraged and will sit by the roadside in their own shit watching them drive by in limos. We are becoming a slave nation. Peak oil...when it comes it will not degrade us. We have already degraded ourselves in servitude. As a people we will have nothing to lose, having long ago given it away without a fight.

Every generation says of the one following it "Boy I hate to see shape of the world when they get in charge."

This was said of the baby boomers (of whom I am one), my father and so many fathers of baby boomers said it, as it had been said by their fathers. There is one difference. This time, our fathers may have been right. Sorry, that's just the way it is.


Re: relocalization. Fair enough.

I pretty much consider the mainstream media as paid mouthpieces for Wall Street

Fair enough. I was focused on the relocalization angle and may have missed it.

The so called "logical fallacy"you accuse me of, "ain't happening where I am, so it ain't happening!" There is some truth in your charge. However in one way what I am accusing the media and those who are peddling widespread panic of is the same fallacy, that being "if house prices are down this bad here in California or in the overpriced suburbs of certain cities that indicates THE ECONOMY is bad.

But "the economy" **is** the whole, or the average, so...

I had thought I had avoided the problem on my part by pointing out that yes, in certain areas and certain industries things are indeed bad... I do not accept that as reason to attempt to create hysteria and lock down the function of banks, scare consumers away from the stores etc, nationwide. Why does the media not make the distinction between the hardest hit markets and the rest of the nation? I admit that I think because it does not suit their purposes.

I am no fan of the mass media, but to my way of thinking they have been doing the opposite of what you say. I see stories and comments on it being a great time to refi, where to get the best car deals, etc., all over the place. I suspect this is self-selective for the two of us. You obviously have a bias toward preserving the status quo/BAU to some degree or other, while I see an epochal shift in paradigm as not only good, but necessary for the survival of social fabric, if not homo sapiens. Given my outlook, we are years behind where we need to be. (Hansen, Hirsch, et al.) Hysteria would be a good thing. Controlled and focused, of course.

My motive is simply this: What we are seeing, by the accumulation of news stories, press releases, and government statements, is an attempt to cover the tracks of what is the greatest robbery in history as something that was unavoidable... So by playing on the puritan guilt of the American people for even a meager lifestyle, they walk away with the wealth of kings.

Won't argue with this. I do see it a little more as being portrayed as really crappy and unfair, but necessary (those silly rich folks messed up, but GOSH it was all innocent) rather than covering up, but certainly both are happening.

What has astounded me most of all is that the American people seem to have no capacity for outrage. That is scary. What would it take to anger the public? We have become docile, and therefore defenseless.

No doubt. Troops **assigned** to take out their own, and hardly a peep. I and many others warned of this. NSPD51 was all you ever needed to see to know this day was coming.

You make one more statement that I must confront, and I do this with all the honesty I can:
"None of that is sustainable"

In the greater scheme of things, that is true, since we are all going to die. Our life is not "sustainable". But as for this "unsustainability" issue, I think at the cultural level, you are right in one way: Nothing is sustainable for a nation of people who have no guts. We are told that "this economy can't be sustained", and enough of the public are starting to buy into this determinism that it will become true...because the American people have essentially given up.

No, I mean it literally is not sustainable. 174B barrels of oil a year for everyone to live like the US does. ALL oil would be gone in 17 years, and that's if you allow for the remaining URR to be 3 trillion.

However, you are addressing your comments to the US only while I address mine always to the global condition. (No, I don't want a one-world gov't.) But then you are engaging in the same behavior as those you rail against. There is no difference between the rich in the US sucking their fellow citizens dry and the US sucking the world dry.

I assure you that the wealthy and the powerful don't buy into it. They will sustain the lifestyle they choose. And there are more than enough "resources" on the Earth to do it.

Well, sure, if you essentially feed, clothe and house the top 5%. I agree this is why they are so arrogant, greedy, etc. They see themselves as worthy of living high while all others perish, by and large. Darwinists might agree, I suppose.

Every generation says of the one following it "Boy I hate to see shape of the world when they get in charge."

This was said of the baby boomers (of whom I am one), my father and so many fathers of baby boomers said it, as it had been said by their fathers. There is one difference. This time, our fathers may have been right. Sorry, that's just the way it is.

Well, let's be fair. The architects of this disaster are largely from the first few years of the Baby Boom and just prior. (Bush '46, Cheney '41, Wolfowitz '43, Gramm '42, etc.). They really are a product of a different age from those of us, like me (probably in the last 99.9th percentile), from the end of the Baby Boom. The consumerism that the Baby Boomers were raised with was also a product of the time before WWII. How do you separate the victim from the criminal in such cases, the dancer from the dance? Who knows...

Either way, we are screwed. I encourage you to re-examine your attachment to your version of BAU. Allow me to overstep a bit and psychoanalyze: you're a bit pissed you didn't get your piece of the pie. Me? I'm looking to bake up an entirely different dessert.


What the world needs now, is stability, sweet stability...

As 08 is coming to a close, overall I'd say the bi-word for this year was 'instability'. Oil & gas prices, stocks, real estate, mortgages, currency exchange, interest rates, etc. Nothing seemed to hold steady for any length of time.

We went from being told the mortgage meltdown was a bump in the road to an all out disaster on a global scale, while cringing every time we filled up at record fuel prices, to realizing our mortgages were in many cases greater than our equity, to understanding just how far the dollar had fallen in relation to the Euro, while many others got caught by rising ARM's that sent them packing for rentals.

Please, the bi-phrase for 09 must be, 'Steady as she goes!' Let's steer our financial ship with a steady keel. Lean into the wind, trim the sheets, pick a heading and stick with it.

I think the bi word you are looking for is bifurcation. And there should be many of them.

Note: this is not a good thing to live through.