DrumBeat: January 8, 2009

Michael T. Klare - Oil 2009: Be Careful What You Wish For

Only yesterday, it seems, we were bemoaning the high price of oil. Under the headline "Oil's Rapid Rise Stirs Talk of $200 a Barrel This Year," the July 7 issue of the Wall Street Journal warned that prices that high would put "extreme strains on large sectors of the U.S. economy." Today, oil, at over $40 a barrel, costs less than one-third what it did in July, and some economists have predicted that it could fall as low as $25 a barrel in 2009.

Prices that low -- and their equivalents at the gas pump -- will no doubt be viewed as a godsend by many hard-hit American consumers, even if they ensure severe economic hardship in oil-producing countries like Nigeria, Russia, Iran, Kuwait, and Venezuela that depend on energy exports for a large share of their national income. Here, however, is a simple but crucial reality to keep in mind: No matter how much it costs, whether it's rising or falling, oil has a profound impact on the world we inhabit -- and this will be no less true in 2009 than in 2008.

Shell Stops Supplying Big West California Refinery With Oil

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s largest oil company, stopped supplying crude oil to Big West of California LLC’s Bakersfield, California, refinery after the bankruptcy of Flying J Inc., Big West’s parent company.

“We stopped selling crude oil to them Dec. 23, a day after the bankruptcy,” Shell spokeswoman Alison Chassin said today in a telephone interview.

Shell normally supplied about 10,000 barrels of oil a day to the 68,000-barrel-a-day refinery, Chassin said.

Oil sands admits PR failure

CALGARY — Canada's oil sands industry admits it has “dropped the ball” in terms of informing the public about the environmental effects of its developments.

Dave Collyer, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, says the industry has not engaged effectively with Canadians, as the group presents results of a months long public outreach campaign.

UK: Gas 'secure' but prices increase

Energy Minister Ed Miliband has said UK gas supplies are secure despite the continuing gas wrangle between Russia and Ukraine reducing supply to Europe.

But he told the BBC the longer the dispute lasted, the greater the risk that prices would continue to rise.

As the gas shortfall hits the rest of Europe, wholesale prices in the UK have risen by 26% in three days.

Richard Heinberg: The shape of the recovery

An article on the Bloomberg website today suggests that Asia will have a "V-shape" recovery from the current economic crisis, rebounding in 2010. This is opposed to a "U-shape" recovery, which would presumably take a little longer.

May I suggest another alphabetic possibility? What if the "recovery," not just in Asia, but globally, is shaped more like a big capital L?

No doubt the suggestion that we have reached fundamental limits to economic growth is as unpalatable today as was the initial forecast, issued back in 1972, that such limits would be met during this century. The famous Club of Rome report, which sold more copies than any other environmental book in history, was vilified almost immediately by pro-growth think tanks in Washington, which organized a highly successful PR takedown during the 1980s. Today, it is impossible to mention the phrase "limits to growth" in public without hearing a dismissive outburst from somewhere within earshot. Never mind the follow-up studies that have shown that the primitive computer-based analysis on which the original report was based was on the right track—which is to say that the freight train of industrial civilization is on the wrong track, and headed for history's biggest "splat."

Keen for a Revival, the Nuclear Industry Eyes the Stimulus Package

With President-elect Barack Obama signaling that energy issues should be at the core of any economic stimulus package, the resurgent U.S. nuclear industry—like so many others—is pushing to make sure it's well represented.

Industry representatives and lobbyists are asking lawmakers to use the economic stimulus package, estimated to be in the range of $700 billion to $800 billion, to help revive the country's long-dormant nuclear manufacturing sector, as well as to train workers for jobs within the industry, which is now precariously poised for an expansion. In recent years, more than two dozen applications for new reactors have been filed with federal regulators, after a 30-year drought in which no nuclear reactors were approved.

Recovery of US Economy Crucial to Increase Crude Oil Demand

"The recovery of the US economy is crucial for crude oil demand to increase as the US imports far more crude oil than China or India. Demand from these two countries alone is not enough to keep prices above US $100 per barrel as was earlier speculated when oil prices were at a peak of US $147 per barrel," Bettadapura said.

In terms of industry specifics, Bettadapura says that there will be cancellation of large oil & gas projects across the globe because of the decrease in crude oil prices. "However, the Southeast Asian region is not affected as most of the investments in oil & gas projects are government funded," he adds.

China Plans to Double Natural Gas Output by 2015, Eyes More Oil

China aims to more than double its annual natural gas output to 160 billion cubic meters by 2015.

The country also wants to increase its annual production of crude oil to 200 million tonnes by 2015, said chief planner Hu Cunzhi of the Ministry of Land and Resources at a press conference on Wednesday.

Gazprom Pledges to Restore Gas Supplies to Europe

Gazprom said Thursday it would restore supplies to Europe once international monitors were in place to check the flows in Ukraine. The announcement promises an end to the conflict which has cut off supplies to several European countries.

Ukraine sets conditions for Russian gas transit

BRUSSELS, Belgium — Ukraine's natural gas chief says he wants Russia to provide extra fuel to boost the flow of gas before his company can allow Russia to send the fuel back into a freezing European Union.

Steve LeVine - Ukraine and Russia: The Role of a Middleman

Russia has prickly relations with several of its neighbors, but all pale in comparison with its friction with Georgia and Ukraine. Last August, the former resulted in a full-fledged war, and pessimism about the security of the U.S.-backed oil and natural gas corridor connecting the Caspian Sea with the West. Now, the latter — Russia’s long antagonism with Ukraine — is provoking a similar recalibration of energy security, this time about natural gas supplies to Europe.

Analysis: Money at root of Russia's gas war

MOSCOW: Five months after Russia crushed the Georgian army in the foothills of the Caucasus, Moscow is once again embroiled in a conflict with a former Soviet neighbor — waging an economic war with Ukraine that has disrupted gas supplies across Europe.

This time, though, the Kremlin may be looking more for cash than political clout.

Pipe down

IT STARTED as an ordinary gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine, of the sort that has occurred every winter since January 2006, when Russia first cut off gas supplies to its neighbour. But it has since grown into the biggest energy emergency the European Union has seen in years.

WWF Turns Against Natural Gas Amid Russia-Ukraine Crisis

“So far, comparably clean natural gas has been broadly supported by WWF as a logical mid-term alternative to high-polluting coal in the power sector and oil in the heating sector,” the statement said. But “the Russian gas policy is highly risky as it fully undermines the public confidence in this low-carbon fossil fuel” and that made it “time to reconsider the role for natural gas as a bridging fuel to sustainable energy.”

WWF said it now wanted new laws in place mandating energy efficiency in buildings and far more promotion of renewable energy for the electricity sector.

Pertamina still in denial about fuel shortages

Jakarta - Despite a recent rare, strong public rebuke by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, state oil and gas firm PT Pertamina remains defiant there was never a widespread scarcity of Premium gasoline and diesel.

Dominican Republic: Electricity theft must be punished, Bonetti says

SANTO DOMINGO.- Young Industrialists Association (Anje) president Ricardo Bonetti today said the must penalize law electricity theft, because the measure would significantly invigorate the sector.

Boxer Calls for Standards on Coal Ash After Tennessee Spill

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer said she would press for regulations on coal ash, after 1 billion gallons of sludge were dumped from a Tennessee Valley Authority coal plant Dec. 22.

“It is critically important that protective standards for coal-ash waste be created,” Boxer, the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said at a hearing today.

Laurel bus, shuttle lines service cut

Laurel commuters relying on public transit to get to Baltimore or Washington, D.C., may have to get creative as the Maryland Transit Administration announced several reductions in its commuter bus and train services to begin Monday.

BMW Works to Clean Up Diesel's Rep

Convincing Americans that diesel isn't a dirty word won't be easy. While Europeans have embraced diesel cars, thanks to tax breaks and a cleaner emissions profile than in years past, Americans haven't yet warmed up to the idea. Never mind that overall car sales have been anemic.

"When people think of diesel, they think dirty, noisy and smelly. It's the complete opposite of anything that is associated with green," says David Matathia, planning director at GSD&M Idea City, the ad firm owned by Omnicom Group that crafted the campaign. It's an image that has been cemented into the psyche of Americans since the 1970s, when demand for diesel cars briefly surged because of the energy crisis.

Smart Seeds, Smart Crops

New drug- and drought-tolerant crops could mitigate the growing food crisis, according to Syngenta CEO Mike Mack.

As global crunch squeezes Gulf, debt defaults and ratings outlook downgrades mount

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) — Kuwait's biggest investment bank on Thursday said it had defaulted on the majority of its debt while Bahrain's two biggest commercial banks saw their ratings outlook downgraded, as the global financial meltdown pummeled an oil-rich Gulf Arab region that months ago was the focus of a much-hyped economic boom.

Further reflecting the troubles facing the region, Standard Chartered Bank on Thursday sharply revised down its outlook for economic growth in the region, citing the current global meltdown.

The announcement by Kuwait's Global Investment House marked a sharp blow for the firm, which had been meeting with creditors about restructuring what its managing director said in December was $3 billion in loans.

StatoilHydro shuts down Norway's Kristin gas field due problems with new lifeboat type

OSLO, Norway (AP) — Norwegian state-controlled oil company StatoilHydro ASA on Thursday temporarily shut down its Kristin natural gas field after tests revealed problems with a new type of lifeboat installed to help crew escape in emergencies.

The shutdown comes as parts of Europe struggle with energy supplies because all Russian gas deliveries through Ukraine were cut off this week due to a pricing dispute.

Cause of wind turbine damage unknown

LONDON (Reuters) - Green energy company Ecotricity is investigating what mangled a wind turbine in England over the weekend, a spokeswoman for the company said.

Press cited locals reporting a bright light at the time of the incident, in which one of the blades snapped off, and speculation that unidentified flying objects may have been responsible.

A $2 trillion bet on powering America: The stimulus plan might jump-start investments, which could drastically change how we use electricity

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- For years we've been hearing about the nation's crumbling and outdated electricity grid.

The 2003 blackout that plunged 50 million people into darkness was a wake-up call. Then this summer T. Boone Pickens, who's planning on investing billions in building wind farms, called for massive investments to revamp our nation's aging grid, so that it can handle wind power distribution.

More recently, Vice President-elect Joe Biden called for a similar investment, perhaps billions, to begin work on a new "smart" electric grid to replace the nation's old, fragmented and inefficient system, and it will likely be part of the stimulus bill expected from lawmakers in the next couple weeks.

Norway Sees Oil Production Falling 9.7% This Year

(Bloomberg) -- Oil production on the Norwegian continental shelf may fall 9.7 percent this year, declining for a ninth year, the country’s Petroleum Directorate said.

Crude output will fall to about 110.8 million standard cubic meters, or 1.9 million barrels a day, in 2009, from about 122.7 million standard cubic meters, or 2.11 million barrels a day, last year, the directorate said in a report. Production will drop to 94.4 million standard cubic meters in 2013.

Lower oil prices curtail Chávez's global, domestic influence

Caracas, Venezuela – High oil prices allowed Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez to spend freely to spread his Socialist gospel and challenge the US role as the dominant player in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The sharp drop in oil prices is imperiling those ambitions, analysts said Tuesday, a day after the Venezuelan government announced that it's suspending free heating oil to poor people in the US. Oil accounts for 93 percent of the government's export income and some 50 percent of its overall income.

Venezuela to keep sending free fuel to US poor

CARACAS, Venezuela – President Hugo Chavez will keep donating heating oil for poor American families in a costly decision that suggests the Venezuelan leader wants to keep to his pledges — and buttress his image — in spite of falling oil prices.

Strike hits India's fuel supply, delays flights

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India's energy supply was squeezed further and flights delayed at the country's busiest airport as a strike by officials at state-run oil companies that dominate domestic fuel supply entered a second day.

Unions leaders representing firms such as refiner Indian Oil Corp (IOC) and explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corp said, no solution was in sight for the strike over higher wages that has cut natural gas supplies by a third and reduced output at refineries and oilfields.

Russia and Ukraine still deadlocked after gas talks

MOSCOW/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Russia and Ukraine failed to resolve a gas row at a meeting in Moscow but will continue talks to end the dispute which has choked off supplies to Europe, a senior Ukrainian gas official said on Thursday.

"We are in negotiations," Ukraine's Naftogaz chief Oleh Dubyna told the European parliament after an overnight meeting with Alexei Miller, head of Russia's state-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom.

"I can see just purely economic gaps between Naftogaz and Gazprom."

Gazprom fully suspended supplies of transit gas toward Ukraine on Wednesday, saying there was no longer any point delivering the gas because Kiev had shut down the pipelines.

Italy Gas Reserve Levels Not Alarming, Scajola Says

(Bloomberg) -- Italy’s gas reserves are not at emergency levels and Russian supplies will resume before they are depleted, Industry Minister Claudio Scajola said today.

“It’s a delicate situation, but there’s no reason to be alarmed,” Scajola told reporters in Rome following a meeting with energy industry representatives. “We have enough gas reserves to get us through the crisis.”

Russian gas supplier warned to honour obligations

The head of Russia's monopoly gas supplier was warned today to honour the company's obligations to the European Union or face the loss of reputation and revenues as western customers looked elsewhere.

Factories shut, many without heat across Balkans

SOFIA/BELGRADE (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of people across the Balkans went without heating on Thursday and more factories closed as the impact on the hardest-hit region in the Russia-Ukraine gas row continued to grow.

Around 100,000 households in Bosnia were left in cold, about 80,000 people in Serbia's second largest city Novi Sad had their gas heating cut off and other Serbian cities were hit.

In Bulgaria, at least 65,000 households were without central heating when temperatures hit minus 10 degrees on Thursday morning. Some shops said they had run out of electric heaters, causing concern for electricity supplies.

Brussels to host emergency talks as tens of thousands lose heating in their homes

The EU, Russia and Ukraine will today hold top-levels talks in a last-ditch effort to resolve the increasingly angry political dispute that has cut off all Russian gas supplies to Europe through Ukraine.

Russia accused Ukraine of "blackmail" and Kiev blamed Moscow for halting supplies without warning as a routine price dispute spiralled into all-out political conflict - and tens of thousands, mainly in eastern Europe, shivered in sub-zero temperatures without heating in their homes.

Slovenia expects no gas from Russia till early Friday

LJUBLJANA, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Slovenia's main gas supplier Geoplin said on Thursday the country can expect no gas from Russia at least till 0500 GMT on Friday after the gas supply from Russia was cut off on Wednesday.

"We were informed by the dispatchers that there will be no gas supply from Russia at least until 6 o'clock (0500 GMT) Friday morning," head of Geoplin Alojz Stana told Reuters on the phone.

Cutoff highlights Europe's reliance on Russian natural gas

Despite the vitriol, most analysts anticipate an eventual compromise. Russia has been hurt by the global financial crisis, and Gazprom needs Europe's cash.

Ukraine — though buffered by a two-month supply of stored gas — is being pressured by the EU, which it aspires to join.

Why Has the Price of Oil Decreased So Significantly?

Why has the price of gas decreased so significantly? This seems way more than an incremental adjustment to supply and demand. Is there something non-linear going on?

Long term fundamentals favor oil and gold price rises

Crude may not see the highs of last year but will trade higher as 2009 ages and gold could test the highs as a result of actions being taken to deal with the financial crisis in America and the stimulus plans to restart the economy. While demand has fallen due to the current global economic crisis, the fundamentals for crude favor price increase rather than much lower pricing. Some of the same fundamentals that favor a price increase for crude will also have a similar effect on the price of gold.

Oil giants top dirty tanker charter table

SHELL, ExxonMobil and BP remained the world’s largest charterers of dirty tankers in 2008, responsible for 17% of all reported fixtures.

Analysis by New York-based Poten & Partners showed that the three oil giants were the charterers of just over 1,600 of around 5,400 spot fixtures for crude oil tanker transport.

US to head anti-pirate patrols off Somalia

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – A new international force to battle pirates off the Somali coast is being formed under American command in a bid to focus more military resources to protect one of the world's key shipping lanes, the U.S. Navy said Thursday.

But the new mission, expected to begin operations next week, will have no wider authority to strike at pirate vessels at sea or move against havens on shore. That raises questions whether it can significantly curb pirate flotillas after more than 110 ships were attacked last year.

Why you can't trust your gut in this market: Look closely. Do you see the onset of another Great Depression? Maybe it's all in your mind.

These studies reconfirm what psychologists have been saying for years now: The more we feel out of control, the more our brains imagine patterns that don't really exist.

Doing that, the theory goes, helps us manage our stress. Maybe we haven't come so far from the rain dances common in agricultural societies. It's precisely because they don't control the drops falling from the sky that many people construct elaborate rituals to pretend that they do.

China aims to increase coal production 30 pct by 2015: govt

BEIJING (AFP) – China is aiming to increase its coal production by about 30 percent by 2015 to meet its energy needs, the government has announced, in a move likely to fuel concerns over global warming.

Beijing plans to increase annual output to more than 3.3 billion tonnes by 2015, said Hu Cunzhi, chief planner of the land and resources ministry, said on Wednesday.

That is up from the 2.54 billion tonnes in produced 2007, according to the ministry.

Energy 2.0

Forget Web 2.0. Content generated by unpaid volunteers? That’s so 2007. It seems 2008 was a banner year for what you might call Energy 2.0 — electricity generated by unpaid volunteers.

Tokyo to exempt tax for next-generation green cars

TOKYO (AFP) – Tokyo's local government, seeking to fight global warming, said Thursday it planned to exempt taxes on next-generation green vehicles such as electric cars and plug-in hybrids once they hit the market.

Japanese automakers are aiming to put out electric cars -- which emit no carbon blamed for global warming -- as early as this year despite the global slowdown that has battered the auto industry.

Other ways of going green

'Greening" the automobile usually refers to improving its fuel economy and reducing carbon emissions. But there other things to be greened as well, particularly plastics.

Toyota plans to replace 20 per cent (by mass) of the plastics used in its cars with bio-plastics by 2015. Mazda has said it will make 30 per cent of the interior parts of the Mazda5 from bio-materials as soon as it sees higher strength and heat thresholds, which it identifies as bio-plastic's weak points.

Ford has begun its use of renewable bio-material by using soy-based foam in seat backs and cushions in vehicles. By the end of the 2009 model year, more than one million Ford vehicles will contain soy foam — which will decrease its use of petroleum oil by nearly half a million kilograms annually.

Auto sales outlook: Running on empty

More bad news for Detroit. Rising unemployment is likely to keep a lid on demand for cars and trucks throughout 2009.

Sustainable studying

The academic environment tends to be a sustainable one, for various reasons. Students surviving on government loans are usually forced to share living space, cook their meals at home, walk or cycle to class and lug around coffee Thermoses and reusable water bottles to save money. Also, whether you're learning or teaching, there's generally a heightened level of awareness about global issues, such as climate change.

At the same time, however, there are other aspects of university life that are inherently un-green, such as the paper waste that comes from thousands of essays, tests and notebooks, the energy that's drained from 24-hour computer labs and science equipment, the junky cafeteria food, vending machines and so on.

Environmental group backs canal for Calif. delta

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A national environmental group recommended Wednesday that California overhaul its water-delivery system by building a canal around the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

A report by The Nature Conservancy endorsed piping Sacramento River water around the delta, which is suffering from degraded water quality and declining fish populations. The conservancy said a canal could help restore the region's natural habitat.

NY Gov targets clean energy, health despite deficit

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York state should fight obesity, help more residents get health insurance and revive the upstate economy with a research consortium for hybrid car batteries and energy storage, Governor David Paterson proposed on Wednesday.

Can technology clear the air?

THREE hundred and eighty-five parts per million: that's how much carbon dioxide there is in the atmosphere now. Just 100 parts per million more than before we started mucking things up, yet the Arctic ice cap is already melting, weather patterns are changing, and plants and animals are migrating towards the poles to find their comfort zones.

We can't go on like this. In fact, some climate scientists, notably James Hansen of NASA, say that 385 parts per million is too high and that we need not just to slow the increase in CO2 but to clean up the mess we've already made. Three hundred and eighty-five invisible, colourless needles for every million stalks in the haystack. What are the chances that we can find and remove them?

Despite deep chill, global warming is still a peril: scientists

PARIS (AFP) – A cold front is sweeping across Europe after gripping swathes of North America last month, but the deep freeze does not mean the threat of global warming has abated, caution scientists.

"The major trend is unmistakably one of warming," Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), told AFP.

"If we look at the trajectory over the last 160 years, it overlays a large natural variability, and that's what causes confusion."

News just in from India...

First it was all the Truckers who were on strike... next the Oil company employees went on strike... now its the petrol pumps across the country who would pull their shutters from tomorrow... Severe transportation problems. The nation is coming to a halt. Buses and Aircraft are getting delayed due to unavailability of fuel. Food is getting expensive by the hour.

We're seeing a trailer of what peak oil would be like...

We're seeing a trailer of what peak oil would be like

Actually, I think the data will tell you the world is now past peak oil ... and that means economic chaos at the very least! ... is it the final peak? ... who knows? ... but, if this is the final peak then attempting to grow the world economy is probably futile ... ponder the implications!

I'm not sure I believe the LATOC-like view that the oil simply stops arriving at time 'T', therefore at time 'T+x' society ends and so whenever there is a strike caused case of oil decline I don't think you can simply extrapolate and say something like "this is how it will be..."

Under what circumstances are there NO deliveries? -that's not PeakOil, that's GST: Globally Succesful Terrorism.


I don't interpret his post to mean simply a shutoff of all fuel supplies, but the tangles that develop when once steady supplies grow intermittent.

I've been thinking of adding an addendum to my "PEAK OIL. Coming Soon to a Highway near you.. got options?" Bumper Sticker.

Something like '..but Gas is cheap, so back to Sleep! (cuz' it could never happen again.. preparation is for wusses!)' With maybe a Rumplestiltskin Graphic snoozing in the corner.


Hello GauharJK,

Having 20 shutdown I-NPK factories does not help either as your country is losing 50,000 tons/day of output:


Marathon Oil has completed a Woodford Shale well using a new money saving drilling and completion technology:


The article says "the world's first totally interventionless gas well completion." What is the signifigance of that?

horizontal wells present some unique challenges in performing stimulation treatments (frac's). this technology provides a means to isolate zones within the lateral such that they can be treated individually.


other methods include running a pre perforated liner, "swell" packers for zone isolation, or making multiple runs with coiled tubing.

older completions were either not frac'ed, frac'ed with a single stage or used diverting agents such as ball sealers or fine mesh sand.

Peak Ocean catch:

I figure the over-fishing, pollution, and acidification and warming of the World's oceans is not only a real problem but one that may be too late to solve once The Economist gets around to running a special series of articles about these problems:


Make fun of the costuming and much of the acting (with good reason), but the flick Soylent Green's underlying premise that man destroyed the biological productivity of the World's oceans seems prescient today. The timing may even be about right...if memory serves me, the great revelation about the state of the oceans was revealed when the protagonist (played by Charlton Heston) read the suppressed Soylent Corporation Oceanographic Survey of 2015-2019.

Oh, there I go succumbing to Doomerism again...I'm sure things will be much better in 2040 with 8.5 billion people.

My future grandkids: What's a fish?

Mother Jones beat The Economist with their Last Days of the Ocean series by more than two years. But who reads those libral pinko mags anyway?


May be related - may not, but dead is dead. Made it to NBC Nightly News earlier in the week about the Brown Pelican on the West Coast (California).




My future grandkids: What's a fish?

This is something I face everyday. As many of your will remember, we adopted rather late in life and currently have a 2 year old and 3 year old at home. The two year old is completely smitten by Polar Bears. So much so that for weeks on end every picture of a bear was a "polar bear." And yet, by the time she graduates high school it is likely that no polar bears will be living in the wild. How much poorer will her life be for that?

What the hell are you smoking? The Polar bear population in the wild has expanded from 5,000 in 1950 to over 25,000 today. Even the WWF just claims that they MAY become threatened in the next 50 to 100 years, which is ridiculous anyway. Stop scaring your kids.

And what right wing organization are you getting your information? Oh yeah, the bush administration.

The various presentations of biased reporting ignore, or are ignorant of, the different reasons for changes in populations. If I thought that there were more bears now than 50 years ago and a reasonable basis to assume this would not change, then no worries. This is not the case.

The bottom line here is that it is an apples and oranges issue. The early estimates of polar bear abundance are a guess. There is no data at all for the 1950-60s. Nothing but guesses. We are sure the populations were being negatively affected by excess harvest (e.g., aircraft hunting, ship hunting,self-killing guns, traps, and no harvest limits). The harvest levels were huge and growing. The resulting low numbers of bears were due only to excess harvest but, again, it was simply a guess as to the number of bears.


Ok - so replace Polar Bear with Siberian Tiger, Asiatic Lion, Orangutan, and we're talking only about the large "cute" fauna.

The reality is, irregardless of what is being smoked, that we are in the midst of a huge global wide extinction event and the human species is largely the culprit.

... The human species may end up being on the list.

..yea...at the bottom of the list. Since we are expanding by 70 million every year. But I think you are contemplating a rapid die off as a result of our vital resources falling over the cliff.

Add the saber tooth tiger and the wooley mammoth to the extinctions caused by a global warming that began after the peak of the Ice Age 20,000 years ago. The sea level rose 120 meters since then cutting off a land bridge between Siberia and Alaska. You can't stop global warming by driving a battery powered hummer.

No, to stop global warming you must change out all your light bulbs to CF! I thought everybody knew that ;-)

I suppose you thought that was really clever?

If you really think that you can pawn off an ill-conceived conflation of warming to end an ice age with our current circumstance then you don't have a very high opinion of the folks who read and post here.

He knows he's being an arse. We always do, do we not?

Nonsequitur B.S.

I say for the umpteenth time: show us the science or stop your sui-genocidal propaganda.

He can't. He won't. Too bad TOD doesn't erase their posts unless they've got science to share. Propaganda really isn't the domain of TOD, I'd think.

Ah, well. It's a tough balance, I suppose.


That's why scientists, writers and observers who know better should stop using the word "MAY" and use either a "will" or an explicit probability statement. A cautious scientist would use "may" right up to 99.9% probability. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. Because then someone else will come along and say "it's only a 'may' and not a 'will' and stop scaring your kids; that's child abuse. Sir, you must take this blue pill. Now."

The arctic IS on track to be ice free. Too soon. Probably - not MAYbe - within 5 years. All sorts of species ARE going extinct - including the polar bear. We humans ARE causing it. We humans WILL not be able to live with the result. Sue me.

Then again, "tomorrow" satisfies "in the next 50 to 100 years", doesn't it? Gaack!

Words matter. Words become thoughts. Thoughts become actions. Misdirection leads people to la-la land.

cfm in Gray, ME

The polar bear population rebounded when hunting was disallowed or strongly limited. Polar bear studies make this clear. The issue of change in the Polar Bear habitat due to AGW is a new one that will play out over the next century.

That you refuse to acknowledge that there are two issues here - hunting and AGW, simply shows once again that you really don't care for the facts, but rather would simply like to seek comfort in finding others who might share your beliefs.

The real physical world doesn't care about your beliefs. It is what it is.

The real physical world doesn't care about your beliefs. It is what it is.

So explain why denialists don't understand this? Hell, they don't even address changes in the physical world. Gore!! Imperfect models! Ice rebounded!!

Idiotic B.S. and propaganda.

I'm personally deeply saddened by the fate of the poor forgotten Gobi bear... Last summer I was prepared to hike in the desert for weeks just to catch a glimpse of one, but was told not to bother: they're all but gone, and the few that may still be alive should be left alone. Apparently most conservationists have given up trying to save this very special species.


Your children won't discover much about such old-fogey stuff as animals and plants if you provide them with the new revolutionary version of the Oxford Junior Dictionary, just out:

An analysis of the word choices made by the dictionary lexicographers has revealed that entries from "abbey" to "willow" have been axed. Instead, words such as "MP3 player", "voicemail" and "attachment" have taken their place.

Words taken out:

adder, ass, beaver, boar, budgerigar, bullock, cheetah, colt, corgi, cygnet, doe, drake, ferret, gerbil, goldfish, guinea pig, hamster, heron, herring, kingfisher, lark, leopard, lobster, magpie, minnow, mussel, newt, otter, ox, oyster, panther, pelican, piglet, plaice, poodle, porcupine, porpoise, raven, spaniel, starling, stoat, stork, terrapin, thrush, weasel, wren.

Acorn, allotment, almond, apricot, ash, bacon, beech, beetroot, blackberry, blacksmith, bloom, bluebell, bramble, bran, bray, bridle, brook, buttercup, canary, canter, carnation, catkin, cauliflower, chestnut, clover, conker, county, cowslip, crocus, dandelion, diesel, fern, fungus, gooseberry, gorse, hazel, hazelnut, heather, holly, horse chestnut, ivy, lavender, leek, liquorice, manger, marzipan, melon, minnow, mint, nectar, nectarine, oats, pansy, parsnip, pasture, poppy, porridge, poultry, primrose, prune, radish, rhubarb, sheaf, spinach, sycamore, tulip, turnip, vine, violet, walnut, willow

Words put in:

Blog, broadband, MP3 player, voicemail, attachment, database, export, chatroom, bullet point, cut and paste, analogue

Celebrity, tolerant, vandalism, negotiate, interdependent, creep, citizenship, childhood, conflict, common sense, debate, EU, drought, brainy, boisterous, cautionary tale, bilingual, bungee jumping, committee, compulsory, cope, democratic, allergic, biodegradable, emotion, dyslexic, donate, endangered, Euro

What a radiant future awaits our children!

Full article here:


That's really depressing.

Extinction of experience and diminishing baselines and all.

Elizabeth Kolbert had an excellent article on ocean acidification in the New Yorker over a year ago. But who reads that snobby old rag?

The problem I have with the Economist piece is that it, like so many, take an issue and over-generalize.

To whit:

Greenland’s ice is on track to melt completely, which will eventually raise the sea level by about seven metres (23ft).

This assertion has not been proved to be true. Certainly as the Earth's surface warms Greenland is susceptible to significant melt. However, in searching through the literature there appears to be a significant variation among opinions about how fast and how much of Greenland's ice will melt. Now, even if half of it melts over a period of a couple of centuries that would be very significant. However, the readers should be told the truth - it doesn't have to be embellished.

Even if global warming really took off (like say 10C) there are still some pretty high mountains in Greenland, these would still retain glaciers.

Maybe they confused sea ice with GIS. That is a pretty common mistake. And journalistic standards being what they are.....

Quit with your intentional mis-characterizing. The phrase was "on track to." It does not, and cannot be construed to, mean "will," except willfully so. And nothing in the future can EVER be proven.

Now, even if half of it melts over a period of a couple of centuries that would be very significant.

Wrong. 1. Not only Greenland is melting. 2. If ALL of greenland's ice = 7 meters, then 1/7 equals 1 meter. That alone is enough to cause havoc.

Quit your propaganda because I can, and will, make you look silly.

Slightly dated, but "More than half of all New Yorkers had trouble affording adequate food in 2008." http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/Food-Poverty-NYC-Soars-Recession/s...

Rising number of young women trading sex for food in Swaziland, as the food crisis continues: http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=82246

Food Pantries relying on FEMA aid: http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/event/article/id/108982/

The cost of child poverty in the Recession (to add to other unfunded mandates): http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/Recession-Induced-Child-Poverty-Co...

Shelters are struggling accomodate rising number of homeless families:


My window was broken the other night and as I stood there talking with the glass guy and a police man they both said they had never seen so many broken windows in town. Glass guy said they were 3 weeks out and all other shops the same.
Police man said at several of the calls the guy who did it was standing there waiting for the police to take them in for free room and board.

My shop is on a corner with lots of very big ($$$) windows.

I don't know if I'm ready for this.

Make a little kiosk with a sign "For a warm bed, please break the little window and dial 911" and put an old cell phone inside. Old ones can still call 911, right?

cfm in a glass house in Gray, ME

I find this interesting, because as society begins to degrade chaos will reign, I am interested in where you are located. (In US?) Are there a lot of young folks out and about? During the height of the Baby Boom, my town had a lot of bored younsters and a lot of vandalism. If the problem is related to idle youth, that is one thing, but if it is from hopless and hapless folks breaking into stores that would be a different sign.

It sounds like they want a night indoors, shelter and food, even though it might be in a prison cell?

A bit of both I suspect.

We are a university town but the homeless population has increased too.

Hi soup,

Might check out what these folks are doing:

What is No-Frills Shelter?
Ashland's No-Frills Shelter is activated when nighttime temperatures dip to 20° or below. It is a collaboration of the City of Ashland and local congregations, volunteers and service groups. Ashland's No-Frills Emergency Shelter provides a dry and warm place to stay the night protected from the elements. CERT members and community volunteers host the No-Frills Shelter during extreme winter weather.

An extreme cold weather event brought 60 below temperatures to Alaska:


Just heard on CNBC: Chinese electrical use dropped 11 percent in December compared to December of 2007. That means Chinese growth has stopped and probably declining.

Also on CNBC, the word is that the Chinese are losing their appetite for absorbing the US debt. If they stop buying, and sooner or later they surely will, how will the US finance the new stimulus package? The US debt is expected to increase by $1.2 trillion in 2009.

My continuing thesis is that the decline in net oil exports, which started in 2006, is acting as an accelerant--like dropping napalm on a forest fire--to the declining credit inferno. And it is bringing us rapidly to the point at which the central banks are the buyers of last resort for government debt. The German central bank reportedly stepped in to buy the excess German government bonds which failed to sell yesterday.

I don't understand how German bonds "failed to sell" at auction.

Certainly if you paid someone 25% interest for 30 days or something they would sell.

I agree with you-- Bernanke has run the "Fed Buys the treasuries" up the flagpole foreseeing a time when no one else will.

At least there is some vision in there prepping people for what's coming without saying it.


I'm no Bond-market expert but my understanding is that -under normal circumstances- Governments would have to price the return on the Bonds so that got sufficient renumeration to consider them worth buying...

What's been amazing is that the US Govt. is able to sell 0% Bills -no return whatsover- such is the 'fear of default' that people are parking their money with the government rather than risk losing it.

The government is now buying up longer dated Bonds (sounds like printing money: FED buying Treasuries) and those yields are falling.

At some point (and an expert out there please correct any of this if its plain wrong) all that debt is either a) going to be bought by the offering government [leads to Inflation] or b) rates will rise so that other Govts and people will buy it [lower risk of Inflation but results in raised Interest Rates]


Noutram -

See my response, below - the US gov is able to sell 0% bonds because there is literally no other choice for the buyers - they have to take any interest rate the Fed's want to give them.

And don't worry about silly people talking about "monetizing the debt" - I leave it to enterprising TOD readers to figure out, based on the mechanics I have outlined, why the U.S. gov cannot do it and maintain non-zero interest rates.

edit - Just so it's clear, the U.S. Gov can do this because it is a sovereign currency issuer. The German Govt., OTOH, gave up that right to the ECB. It is essentially in the position of a U.S. State, that actually needs to raise funds on the market before it can spend them.

Investors are concerned on the return OF their money, not the return ON their money.
And that is exactly why low rates don't spur lending - There is a real crisis of confidence which is more wide spread and deeper than is appreciated by the mass media. And politicians can't say it....
Another way of looking at it is that, say, China, is a "forced lender". What are their options? Not roll their US treasuries and have their exchange rate go to hell, thereby killing exports? Even if they decided to no longer add to the pile of USTs and stop buying (and do who knows what with their excesses) likely we would have to offer a higher yield, thereby reducing the value of the Chinese holdings - potentially losing hunderds of billions of dollars in value.
When other countries are making noises about the US treasuries it's a signaling function (of unhappiness / concern) more than plotting a course of action.
But no, we can't play this game indefinitaly.....

When a central bank buys it's government's debt obligations, then that is "monetizing the debt". It doesn't matter if it is acknowledged as such or not, that is what it is. Monetization of debt is how governments inflate the money supply. Do enough of it, and they start down a hyperinflationary debt/death spiral.

I'm not sure if this is what is actually happening,
but the FED/USTreasury would be wise to purchase existing
high coupon long dated treasuries and replace them with
new debt at the current lower rates .. Just a straight
rate arbitrage trade ..

Triff ..

Actually, it would be wiser to simply stop issuing bonds and bills altogether, since they serve no real purpose and serve to breed confusion. Since the Fed recently started paying interest on reserve balances, they're halfway there. All they have to do is stop issuing longer term debt, let banks accumulate reserves in their accounts, and directly set the overnight interest rate at whatever they deem necessary. It accomplishes the same thing (interest rate maintainance) with a lot less fuss...

The Weighted Average Maturity (WAM) of USTs is already very short. Most debt is inside of 3years, and, if anything, pension funds and life insurers need long dated bonds to match obligations with assets.

Can't find the link but it is puzzling. Germany was one of the few countries with a budget surplus. Even if it had dipped I would have thought profligate countries like France and Italy would be the first to have trouble.

According to Reuters the decline was 6.4% YOY in December. There's a graph of Chinese production at

However power output was up 5.18% for the entire year

More info at http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/feedarticle/8206274

Could this be weather related ? Electric resistance heat.

I doubt that economic activity has dropped enough to cause that great a drop in consumption.


In cities north of the Yangtze River, heat is supplied by district heating systems using coal or natural gas. Electric resistance heating is found only in some southern cities as part of dual-cycle air conditioners or heat pumps, and is a minor source of consumption. Residential electricity use, after all, is only 13% of the total. Industry consumes 70% of China's electricity, so when consumption declines, it's definitely related to industrial output. The numbers for January and February will be distorted because of the early Chinese New Year this year (25 Jan).

It may be more to do with a touch of 'peak coal'.

China aims to increase coal production 30 pct by 2015: govt

Chinese coal production quadrupled between 1981 and 2007. That's a growth of 5.5% per year.

But the government is only aiming for 3.3 million tonnes by 2015. That's only 3.6% growth from 2007.

Surely they should be aiming higher, or have they twigged that their coal reserves are indeed limited and that production will have to peak some day?


Concerns about "China not buying U.S. debt" betray an ignorance of reserve accounting. A sovereign currency issuer has no need to "finance" its debt; in point of fact the mechanics of selling bonds for such an entity are not a "borrowing" operation at all, but instead a way to support non-zero interest rates.

Think about it: why would an organization that prints its own money need to borrow it from someone else? What really happens is this: the U.S. government spends money in one way, and one way only: by crediting bank's accounts at the Federal Reserve. When you cash your tax refund, or General Dynamics gets a $1B funds transfer for a submarine, all that happens operationally is that some numbers are changed in an account at the Fed. (When you send a check in to pay your taxes, accounts are debited) But such reserve additions have another effect: by adding reserves to the system, it causes the Fed Funds rate (which is the rate at which banks lend reserves overnight to each other) to fall to 0%. (Since all banks can do is move reserves around, not add or subtract them, an excess of reserves in the system means there is no demand for them - everyone will have all the reserves they need, and no one will bid for more). Thus, the Fed is forced to go into the market and sell treasury securities, which debits the reserve accounts of the buying bank and thus drains the excess.

All of which is a long winded way of saying that the U.S. gov creates money when it spends, destroys it when it taxes, and "borrows" in order to offer an interest bearing security as an alternative to a non-interest bearing reserve account. The Chinese central bank constantly accumulates reserves in it's account (since China sells us more than it buys and wishes to keeps it's currency at a low level in order to encourage exports) at the Fed (Central banks maintain foreign exchange accounts for each other), and the same mechanics apply: it can either keep them as non-interest bearing reserves or exchange the reserves for Treasuries. It can't "buy something else" with them; or, more correctly, it can - but all it will do is move the reserves to another account, and eventually they will have to be drained by either Fed open market operations or Treasury sales. In no case is this a "financing" operation - operationally, the Bonds and Bills can only be "sold" AFTER the money has been spent into circulation.

The only limits a sovereign currency issuer faces in it's ability to spend are the inflation that can result if it is bidding for resources against the private sector. (Not an issue in an environment, like today, where there are plenty of unused resources hanging around on the unemployment line. Solvency is nver an issue - and neither is "financing".

Doesn't this ignore the flip side of the coin, that China has no reason to hold its currency down if it sees no value in the dollars it will get? Even with a reserve currency it would seem to me that the Chinese are trading money in a US reserve account for valuable goods. When that account loses apparent value, the goods will rocket in dollar value, right?

If China were to decide to not accumulate dollars anymore, yes, the Dollar/Yuan exchange rate would fall. (and they would not be able to buy nearly as much stuff as they sold to us - that's why this sort of export oriented developemnt model is a loser's game). But that would still have no bearing on the U.S. gov's ability to finance any amount of debt it wants.

(BTW, it's not like China has a lot of other choices - most other countries in the world are persueing the same sort of shortsighted export-oriented development. In order for them to accumulate the sorts of external balances they want, they need a country that will run enough of a trade deficit with them to let them do it - we're the only one's who have stepped up to plate. That's why when we caught a cold, the rest of the world got terminal cancer...)

According to this site, the U.S. used 53% less LNG in 2008. Had read in 2008 that spot cargoes out of Trinidad were being diverted to Asia as the price of LNG soared.


It may have to do with demand being fed from US domestic gas drilling?

The Independence Hub was completed. There have been new project starts to increase take away capacity (midstream) in the Rocky Mountains, East Texas, Mid-Continent, and Gulf South.


Do you (or anyone else) know if there is any credibilty to reports that Rocky Mtn gas might be transferred through proposed Palomar pipeline to Columbia River port at Bradwood and liquified for sale to Japan?

Current proposals are for the pipeline to take re-gassified LNG (port of origin unspecified) from Bradwood to pipeline systems feeding WA, OR, CA.

Much, much up in the air. Future demand? Future supply? Capital for construction of pipelines and gassification (or liquification) plants.

Natural gas drilling peaked last autumn. Some areas may not be drilled when the price of natural gas is below $9 mcf. Some wells drilled have not been connected to pipelines yet. It is a free country. If someone wants to take NG out of the pipe, liquify it and send it to Japan for higher prices, let it be.

This bailout stuff is truly getting ridiculous. At what point do people notice the difference between 1 trillion and 2 trillion or 20 trillion or 200 trillion? At SOME point, even non-ecology literate will understand that money can be wished into existence and energy and scarce resources are what we have to spend, not some artificial ledgers.

Today, Bill Gross, one of the largest money managers in the world, outlined a 'strategy' in his newsletter how to profit from bailouts by investing in industries you EXPECT the government to help next. From Dow Jones:

"Anticipate, then buy what they buy, only do it first," said Gross in his
monthly investment outlook. He pointed to agency-backed mortgages, banks'
preferred shares and senior debt and AAA-rated asset-backed securities with
borrowings such as credit cards and auto and student loans.
"Shake hands with the government," Gross said. "Make them your partner by
acknowledging that their checkbook represents the largest and most potent
source of buying power in 2009 and beyond."


Almost as ridiculous (and I truly hope it was meant in jest), as this:
Adult Entertainment Industry Asks for Bailout Money

This has now past the point where I am 'interested' in what is happening and efforting to make change - I am now pretty sickened by it all. Yes we need jobs, etc. But what we really need is to look 2, nay 3 steps beyond the current crisis and make some solid decisions based on science, practicality and long term planning.

Three Worldviews

(1) The Infinite Earth Model--We can and will have an infinite rate of increase in our consumption of fossil fuel resources. This is conventional wisdom.

(2) The Peak Oil Model--We will see a low single digit decline rate in world oil production. The point of view is sometimes tolerated in polite company, but generally dismissed as something akin to a space alien cult.

(3) The Export Land Model (ELM)--We will see a net export decline rate that starts out in the low single digit range, but generally accelerates with time. This point of view is usually not tolerated in polite company. Space alien cults generally have more credibility.

It seems to me that we are facing an epic collision between Model #1 and the reality of Model #3, and as noted up the thread, I think that the decline in net oil exports which began in 2006 is acting as an accelerant in the current credit inferno. Increasingly, central governments and central banks will have to choose between draconian spending cuts and having central banks act as the buyers of last resort for government debt.

IMO, pretty much the only thing that you can do at this point is try to save yourself and your family. I would personally be inclined to focus food and energy producing assets and gold. Just my 2¢ worth.

With all due respect these are not the only Worldviews, there are many many others, i'll propose one:

(4) The Transitional Energy Model - Through rapid advances in renewables, nuclear (fission and fusion), energy storage, and better city planning, a transition away from oil and other fossil fuels will take place in a orderly fashion.

But you forget the devastating effect renewable power can have on our alien friends!

UFO hits wind turbine

A WIND turbine stood wrecked yesterday with one of its giant 65ft blades torn off — after it was hit by a UFO.

Locals were woken by the 4am smash after strange lights were spotted streaking towards the 290ft-tall generator on a wind farm.

Baffled power chiefs said of the smash in Conisholme, Lincs: “We have a team investigating.” There was no trace of the missing blade. A UFO expert said: “We are very excited.”

Dodgy Blade Blamed For UFO Puzzle

Puzzled locals have set up their own 'X-File' into the case after claiming a UFO could be to blame for the damage.

A blade was torn off the turbine amid reports of "strange lights" in the sky around Conisholme in Lincolnshire.

Fraser McLachlan, chief executive of GCube, which insures more than 25,000 wind turbines worldwide, said that although it is unusual, this type of incident happens about five or six times a year.

So, wind turbines are UFO magnets?

"It does happen that a blade will sometimes just come off a machine for one reason or another," he said.

"The main reason is the blade may shear.

"We don't normally see things like aircraft - or UFOs - hitting them. It's usually a mechanical failure that causes the blade to separate from the main hub."

The freezing weather was another possible cause of the breakage, he said,
adding that it could cost up to £250,000 to repair.

Ahh... let the government coverup commence (or, on the flip side, let the hysteria begin.)

I wonder if losing a blade at speed weakens the turbine foundations significantly. The out of balance levered forces must be enormous.

True, it is a valid model.

Personally, I think the necessary conditions for Model #4 to play out without a significant ratcheting down of modern civilization aren't present, like sufficient time and/or sufficiently high rate of market penetration to make the transition.

I think when the dust settles it's going to be something like 10% Model #4 and 90% Model #3.

And of course at some point when events begin to run away from us, the move to #4 slows to a crawl. I don't think we're quite there yet, though (i.e. events running away from us). The stimulus plan, if it holds some smart projects in it, might get us to that 10% point.

Through rapid advances in evolutionary adaptation, our children will be able to eat wood and coal directly, thus obviating the need for food.

Wood and coal are too valuable..

Haiti's rising food prices drive poor to eat mud

Impoverished Haitians are increasingly resorting to eating biscuits made of mud as food prices soar in the Caribbean country.

The discs are made from dried yellow clay mixed with water, salt and vegetable shortening or margarine.

The mud, which comes from Haiti's central plateau region, is first strained and then shaped into biscuits which are left in the sun.

The pale brown biscuits, known by locals simply as "terre", have traditionally been eaten by pregnant Haitians and children as an antacid and source of calcium.

However, for some Haitians unable to afford even a plate of rice, terre has become their staple diet.

To heck with growing food... Let's just mine it.

So who is the "philosopher king" that is going to impose "The Transitional Energy Model"? The closer it gets to an obvious decline of resources the messier it is going to get.

So who is the "philosopher king" that is going to impose "The Transitional Energy Model"?


The Who said it best in "Won't Get Fooled Again": "meet the new boss, same as the old boss"

All my bets are now on model 3. I am firmly in the doomer camp not because I don't think we can change but because I think we wont. If a politician were to tell the American People that they would have to be happy with a living standard similar to Poland he would be tarred and feathered, and there lies the problem.

The events of the last 2 years remind me of the extinction of the dinosaurs.

See, the dinosaurs were dependant on their energy sources: plants. The sun provided energy to the plants, Plants fed the herbivores, and the herbivores fed the carnivores. A whole ecosystem was highly dependant on the energy source of the sun.

When the meteor hit, it kicked up a massive plume around the world and cut the sun out of the equation. No (or obscured) sun meant fewer plants. This meant death to the herbivores, which also meant death to the carnivores.

Credit (and easy money) is the sun here... As well as cheap fossil fuel inputs. When the credit crunch happened (and Peak Oil arrived), our source of money and cheap energy was cut off. The first casualties so far have been institutions that rely on credit (i.e. banks) and institutions that rely on cheap energy (the auto industry). But, the implications of 2008 will rip through the whole system... The 'industrial food web', as it were, is being broken at a breakneck speed... And modern society, as it currently functions, is what is facing extinction.

In the first place, dinosaurs aren't extinct. Only ornithischians & sauropod saurischians are. And in the second place, Darwinian will contend that the Chicxulub impact event didn't precipitate the extinction of nonavian dinos. His hypothesis is that massive basaltic outpourings in what's now India was the culprit.

You must have watched the History Channel last night....me too.

The Trillion Dollar buildout of the "SUPER GRID" will only make matters worse, and line the pockets of the PTB.

How many homes could be fitted with super insulation, passive and active solar with this amount?The Big O is going in the wrong direction. So is this country as a whole.

Super insulation, power down, the way to go. Local generation. Local consumption.

I agree. I estimate a micro-grid would cost half that, direct all those dollars into the real economy, reduce consumption starting immediately, and make households mostly independent of Big Energy.

build-out vs. the grid...


Antelope Freeway, 1/4 mile

Just think, if you lived here, you'd be home by now!


YES! – Local Generation, Local Consumption, Micro Generation, Efficient thermo solar via easy to produce cpc vacuum tube collectors (proudly made in the US – quit thinking China!), use of pelletized biomass fuels (quit thinking “just wood pellets – there is more, much more! EROEI of pellet fuels is in the range of 80%. Most of the energy for the processing goes into the drying and can be done carbon neutral using biomass.)

The Pellet Fuels Institute is offering a cute little tool for some direct cost comparisons.

Combining thermo solar with a pellet boiler into fully integrated and automated systems for residential and commercial applications is a very serious alternative, available for immediately replacing oil fired systems for instance. The technology is reliable and has been confirmed a few hundred times in Europe, i.e. Germany (sorry, this site has no English translation)

In stark contrast to that German technology, the solutions offered by our Pellet Fuels Institute are sadly lacking of any form of dynamics or modern technology.

Best hopes for taking manufacturing back home to America!

Timing? I need timing, Jeff.

All this talk about recession destruction and stalled projects in blowing my mind. Where are the updated charts I was hoping to find here?
We need some visual feedback on the new consumption trends and the likely production/export curve. How wide is the glut? Is it growing or shrinking?
In my mind, there are to factors effecting these curves. One, the elasticity of consumption (especially after the trips to the mall have been cut out). Two, the production cost of each project (may of which are not viable at current price, but they are hard to stop after you already spent the money on the shiny new rig).

I understand the desire to have more data, but don't you already know what you need to know? Start with the 2010 or 2012 peak model, assume something worse and go from there.

If you aren't in action already preparing, what more could Jeffrey say?

What we are engaged in, is an inexact science.

We are monitoring all the factors (current and past production, economy, etc.), and trying to predict the near and long term future. I feel like a weather man.
Can you imagine watching the weather on Tuesday then, without updated news, going hiking or something on the weekend?

There are different levels of preparing, based on the current TOD weather report. Do I pay my bills or grab my "GO BAG"?

Eastex, how about a midpoint - reduce your bills as far as they can go. Pay the ones you really need, but cut back on your use of power and other resources. Remember Dmitry Orlov's observation that falling out a window is a lot easier if you fall from the first floor than if you fall from the fourth - the more self-sufficient you can be, the less troubling the blow is. Have the bug out bag ready, but also be ready to stay in place, if your place is one worth staying in, and one you have a chance of keeping. Consider asking friends or family to join you to cut costs and give you more hands.

If you assume that you've only got a matter of months, this will focus you, but emphasize the things that serve you even if nothing bad happens. Remember, when this hits will vary for everyone - some people will lose their jobs and houses early, or already have, some won't. "When the blow strikes" is the wrong way of thinking of this for most of us - the issue is "when it strikes home." And no one can predict that for you. So do as much as you can, making choices that work for you even if you have a while - store food, pay down debt, get a garden going, have a plan if you have to leave, get connected to your community, work on preserving local safety nets (which you might need too someday).... These are good things anyway.



"Do I pay my bills or grab my "GO BAG"?"
-Assuming those are the extremes, my suggestion would be ..

Pay a bill, and Do a little bit today on fitting out this 'Go Bag'.

My go bag projects today include framing up a second Solar Hot Air Collector Box, and Framing up the roof for my 'Solar Chimney', on which the South slope is 45 Watts of PV, and the North Slope is a recycled Storm Window pane which will allow in sunlight from a tracked mirror and feeding daylight beams into a few rooms in my house that adjoin the old chimney shaft, including the Basement..

It might be a fairly heavy go-bag..


Can you imagine watching the weather on Tuesday then, without updated news, going hiking or something on the weekend?

Back in my avid peak bagging days, I don't think that I ever canceled a planned hike because of inclement weather. Neither did I fail to take Gore-tex shell or other gear because the weather was 'supposed to be' nice. I figured that the weather was going to do whatever it 'wanted' to do, and so was I. Hence, I never paid much attention to weather forecasts.

Do I pay my bills or grab my "GO BAG"?

In my view, we are still many years away from needing to grab a go bag. Social unrest would be in a dozen cities and we would be experiencing shortages already. The mood of the country (and world) would be dour and shortages would be common in everything from gasoline to key preparation products, like water filters, bulk food, etc.

And even were all the above to be the case, your situation might dictate that where you are is the best place to be (for a variety of possible reasons).

You've still got years left, I think.

Chaos Theory might argue otherwise.


I'm with you.

Our global (and local) economies have been dancing drunkenly on a tight rope for the past year. The dance might last a few more months, or years... or a black swan may fly by tomorrow morning...

If Samsam Bakhtiari is correct, we are already 2-3 years into 'Transition One' ['T1']...

Therefore, successive declines will occur over a number of 'transitions' --- the first of which is 'Transition One' ['T1'], followed by 'T2', 'T3' and 'T4' [5].

The very rough timeframe for each transition being between three to five years --- with an average of four years per transition.

Today (Oct. 2006) we stand at the very onset of 'T1'; even at this initial point of inception, everything has already changed, because our old 'Pre-Peak' rules do not apply anymore, and we are still at a loss over the new 'Post-Peak' rules.


The old rules certainly do not apply to the financial markets anymore - something our "leaderz" clearly do not understand since they prescribe the same medicine that caused the current economic disease.

We could all wake up tomorrow to find the Banks on Holiday and the Stock/Financial Markets "Closed Indefinitely."

Expect no warnings, Expect no mercy.

I wouldn't make the mistake of underestimating the speed at which things can get bad, especially in a city.


You may add that the phenomena of PO and the credit inferno are mutually reinforcing each other (fact). I rode this morning about a $ 2 trillion investment into our grid. Good. Who will be the sponsors exactly? Guess the Chinese will realize soon that they can stimulate their economy by investing their savings into their own infrastructure. I am afraid we are in a flat spin and accelerating with the compounding forces of our debt. If so, the only thing that can stop us now is the impact with the ground, and hell will come with that. Hell! As for Big O, he is still fiddling his spend-baby-spend melodramas whilst Rome is burning on every end and corner.

..what we really need is to look 2, nay 3 steps beyond the current crisis and make some solid decisions based on science, practicality and long term planning.

What's the point? We can't predict what's going to happen 2, 3+ steps into the future, hence any planning is apt to be useless if not downright harmful. Why not just quit obsessing and let nature take its course? I contend that natural consequences are preferable to any attempted human intervention. By what logic is the very thinking that got the biosphere into the mess it's in supposed to clean up the mess?

Okay, never mind. I guess this explains the all too human propensity to obsess & plan:

The more we feel out of control, the more our brains imagine patterns that don't really exist.

Doing that, the theory goes, helps us manage our stress. Maybe we haven't come so far from the rain dances common in agricultural societies.

What's the point? We can't predict what's going to happen 2, 3+ steps into the future, hence any planning is apt to be useless if not downright harmful.

Totally disagree.
1)because doing something, or attempting to, makes life meaningful (to most).
2)we CAN predict there will be energy and basic resource shortfalls in the not too distant future -it is already beginning to happen - so to switch the entire paradigm away from conspicuous consumption USING our knowledge of biology, neural wiring etc. takes advantage of the POSITIVE aspects of our evolution (meaning the potential emergent properties from the cooperative vs competitive aspects of a social species replete with language, mirror neurons, etc.)
3)optimism makes us healthier (on average - your outlook may make you get the same reduction in cortisol and other stress hormones because youre confident you know more about mankinds path than us idiots. I would hypothesize that whatever neurotransmitter cocktail I get by spending time on these pages - you get the same, but for different reasons.)
4)Belief systems notwithstanding, I believe one persons, or a group of persons action, can reduce the net present value of sentient suffering in the future (humans and other animals). You can believe what you want - its a free world (for now)

1) Life either has meaning or it doesn't. Attempting to "make" meaning where none inherently exists is futile.

2) So evolution has POSITIVE (and by implication NEGATIVE) aspects? Such a view constitutes pure teleology that you can't support with evidence.

3) Polarize the dichotomy between optimism and pessimism in some non-arbitrary way.

4) And by poor planning that one person or group of persons can likewise increase the net suffering of sentient creatures. What's to give me any confidence that your, or anyone else's, planning & action won't cause more suffering than if you just left things well enuf alone?

Life either has meaning or it doesn't. Attempting to "make" meaning where none inherently exists is futile.

Allow me to introduce you to another point of view.

Perhaps life has no inherent meaning to it. If you really look, it can't because meaning exists in symbolic language. Take away language and all that's left are atoms and molecules moving around. Some of those atoms and molecules are in the form of humans, some in the form of water, others in the form of pelicans.

Add language and now meaning can be expressed, such as the concepts "positive" and "negative".

Is it "good" or "bad" that the cheetah eats the antelope? It's nothing, actually. Add language, though, and it can be anything.

So it seems to be a distinctly human thing to be able to add meaning to life because, as far as I can tell, we are the only species to have access to the technology of symbolic language.

I agree completely.

But because 'meaning' is fabricated by means of symbolic language according to personal aesthetic criteria, it's idiosyncratic, arbitrary and not extrapolatable to other individuals or situations. The problem with such contrived 'meaning' is that those who indulge in making it up are apt to convince themselves that their own personally 'meaningful meaning' applies across the board. When that happens they may attempt to impose their own 'meaning' and the implications of that construct, onto me or others who may not value the idiosyncratic criteria upon which such 'meaning' is based. This is why I feel that the activity of imagining or inventing personal 'meaning' in an ateleological universe goes beyond harmless mental masturbation and becomes a liability to the wellbeing of others.

Making meaning is unavoidable for humans because our brains are associative machines.

You either take charge and do it yourself or you accept whatever your brain comes up with in the moment based on your past experiences.

For instance, you are interpreting "inventing personal meaning" as a liability. I can interpret it as a benefit or even a valuable skill.

The very fact that there are multiple meanings in this conversation (and any conversation imaginable) itself indicates that there is no "inherent meaning."

It's all made up.

Even every word I am writing. Now, isn't it better if we choose the meanings operate from?

Sorry to jump in the middle of this discussion but might I suggest that 'talking' does not solve the issue of 'what is the meaning of life' or 'does life have meaning?'.

Most sages would suggest, and I agree, that one must quit constantly talking about it and go sit and meditate. I mean really mediate.

Do a 'Yoda'?

A world exist outside of constant jabber.

You must go beyond language. There are many books on this and they NEVER tell you the big secret. They just tell you there is a PATH..go seek it.

For me its Tai Chi. Also a from of spiritual inquiry that at my advanced age works for me. It doesn't seem to work for the nattering crowds.

And I can suggest nothing...well perhaps the Kaballah? The Tao Ching?
The Godhead. Or perhaps the 'consciousness expanding of long ago hippiedom'?

What ever it is I would bet you won't find it here on TOD. A sorta backwater inlet in the sea of vast communications media. A nice place to visit and engage in but its NOT THE ANSWER for what the above appear to be seeking and beating up on others,not you, about their beliefs or lack of is also the end or road to any path except frustration. I have been there..in church and Promise Keepers and much more...

In essence..its a journey you must take yourself alone, you can carry no baggage and no one else can help you. You go alone. Some others have gone on before and their light may shine if you look hard,,and maybe find a few faint footprints....So Goodbye and Goodluck..for surely you will need it and talking wont' get you one single inch of the way. Its in the doing and not the talking IMO as always.

PS.Preachers and such are of little help except to possibly point a finger. Thats about all. In fact if you listen to them too much you might fall in a big ditch.

Airdale-no replies necessary..I am on my own 'walkabout'.

BUT I do find a Harley TwinCam can help you get a nice 'vision' sometimes and a good Amberbock or Killians Red before saddling up..but not too many! One is my limit..on occasion two at most. Good leathers as well. Nice shades...a young biker chik perhaps? Naw....
Forget the bike.

I know you said no replies necessary but what do you think is happening when you sit and meditate? Your brain works through things until it sees something it has never seen before. This is the same thing that can be done in conversation, but much faster especially if there is someone who walks you through it who knows what to show you along the way. It's no different than reading a book and having an "a ha" moment. A book is simply a conversation with one side that gets to do all the speaking.

The conversations we are having are not designed for this function but that doesn't mean those sorts of conversations don't exist. Going up to a mountain for seven years to be silent is a valid way to seek "enlightenment" but there are faster ways now.


A book is simply a conversation with one side that gets to do all the speaking.

I have had some of my best conversations with books written by great authors. Not, maybe on an equal footing, perhaps a teacher-student relationship, hence the term "engaging".


TOD may not be the answer, but by reading things here one can learn that it is not the answer, and hence it is a part of the answer. Whether it's "Where's Waldo?" or enlightenment, you won't find it if you're not looking, thus, TOD is as valid as any other path.


Not trying to be argumentative, just trying to add nuance. :-)

or according to Joseph Campbell,

'I don't think people are really looking for The Meaning of Life. I think they want to know they've had the experience of being alive.' .. and to me, this is what feels 'meaningful' to people. Being in the world, using your brain and body, being connected to other humans, helping someone.

Sure there are unintended consequences, but let's not let that paralyze us. Darwin's Dog has/had parents who obviously made some plans, which resulted in a boy who was fed, clothed and educated and has continued to survive now with his own inherited and earned assets. He reminded us that they once also had sex, and that he didn't happen to die, but that's not enough on its own for a child to make it in the world.


He reminded us that they once also had sex, and that he didn't happen to die, but that's not enough on its own for a child to make it in the world.

Well, I would contend that 'not having happened to die yet' and 'making it in the world' are synonymous.

Why are you here? Why do you spend time on this site? I can think of several reasons, but don't profess to really know:

1)to show off your expertise in biology, thereby attaining a feeling of superiority you might not get from spending the day shooting rock squirrels

2)for when things go badly, in whatever path, you can experience schadenfreude

3)to learn how/when/if things will get worse or better to improve your own circumstances

4)the novelty of cutting edge discussions


I am genuinely curious. By definition, unless they are paid in some other currency, the doomerest of the doomers should not frequent here, nor in fact be on the internet at all, but out either preparing or enjoying their lives. Which leads me to suspect one of the first 4, but feel free to share. You are obviously a bright man - I wish I had been exposed to the depth of biology you have, as a younger man, though the adaptation/psychology/neuroscience aspects of it are what interest me most.

P.s. I am almost done with an essay on 'The Ecology behind Socio-Economic Systems', which contains a great deal of biology references. I am looking forward to your comments, but expect them to be universally 'un-constructive'

"I am genuinely curious. By definition, unless they are paid in some other currency, the doomerest of the doomers should not frequent here, nor in fact be on the internet at all, but out either preparing or enjoying their lives."

Yup. I'm a big time doomer, but I'm here a lot. I'm pretty well set for just about anything the world wants to throw this way. I find it entertaining to watch all the other rats in the cage scurry about and squeak. Some days the squeaking gets really frantic. The rat plans on how to fix the cage are some of the best, almost as good as don't worry this cage is fine. I chuckle a lot when I'm here.

Don in Maine

What about the rats who are propelled forward by the PROCESS of fixing the cage, as opposed to its actual fixing?

SQUEAK Squeak squeak

p.s. you are welcome for the chuckles...glad we can be a vector for laughter....;-)

Ahhh Don...

An old timer told me once,"boy the day will come when you will be happy just for a good BM(he stated it differntly), a bite to eat and a place to lay your head for a while"....

For me though at our age I still find a tad bit of the ole
Joie De Vivre...like today driving back from St. Louis with a cup of Seattle's Best coffee to go from Steak@Shake and a 7 yr old Rocky Patel Vintage stogy ...and tooling down I-55 in the noon day sun...it hit me how much I still disliked St. Louis and me and the 2 Jacks couldn't wait to get back to the farm..and bottle of beer and a warm wood fire.

So life still has it moments but the sex thing? Gone about for good.
So what ..a big hassle and lots of money gone...

A sense of life..Joie De Vivre says it best.

Its the little things after all , for me it is. I got plenty of projects to do but ........well time is a wasting but I really don't give a shit.Iron to beat,banjo to pick, guns to shoot. Metaphysics IMO is living the experience and seeking enlightment ,sometimes in the woods,never in the city. Too much mind for me. I sip my whiskey with a ginseng root. I still honk at the chicks. I ride alone though.

Goodluck Don,,keep the fires stoked,

"A sense of life" I think and feel like that as well airdale. I am amazed I am still alive. Never would have thought I'd make it past 30 let alone double that. Everyday since 30 has been a gift of little things. I lost fear a long time ago, I think you did as well. People without fear scare other people. Sometimes I see a lot of fear here. I think we're more alike than not, I spend at least an hour a day in meditation, working with my inner energy. When I come out, I am very much one with everything around me. My stars at night and wind in the trees thing. We're all energy, all coming from one original source. Helps me keep the cancer at bay. Just different forms at different times. That's not mystic, that's physics.

I've spent the last 30 years living in the woods, it opens your soul. Boring, I know, but some days I just put the chain saw down and just walk away into the woods, loose time and thought and just be. BTW I had to get a new saw this year, my old 028 wood boss just got too heavy for me, geezerhood brings on a loss of upper body strength. I spent those years being responsible for my well being and my families well being. I've been responsible for my life. I don't worry about much, not very dependent on the outside world. It's OK it's there, there are a few thing I like to get there. If it goes away, I guess that's ok to. Not much I can do about it. I'm certainly not fearful of it.

I do like watching it, like fish in an aquarium, or a hamster in a cage. Damn hamster bites the squeeky wheel thinking he is fixing things. Rats in cage, if you grow them under artificial light, and overpopulate them, they loose their tails and exhibit strange sexual behavior. Hmmmmm. My own version of reality TV.

Tiny solar house, good water supply,good fuel supply, fertile soil, wonderful creatures around me, my wind in the trees, and the galaxies I see every night as I go out to pee on the compost pile. I am truly blessed. I am pleased with myself that I am actually able to see how well off I am. I don't yearn for a "better" life. Something just out of reach, the new version of Don in Maine. Not into that kind of thought. I am good, and I chuckle a lot.

I do Jim Beam, Airdale, 2 or three fingers before bed, as I load the wood stove for the night, I sleep like a baby. Best to you.

Don in Maine

I'm currently employed in agricultural research. It isn't my area of expertise - my dissertation involved the molecular phylogenetics & phylogeography of certain clades of neotropical armored catfishes - and it doesn't pay all that well, but it's close to where I live and I don't want to relocate. During the growing season I'm busy: on a tractor, scheduling irrigation treatments, collecting data, etc. In the winter there isn't much to do besides sit at the computer analyzing data. Hence, I surf the web looking for anything interesting. I find TOD to be interesting.

Like I've said before, as an undergrad in the '70s we studied Hubbert's peak and resource depletion issues. So I guess that I've always been "peak oil aware." I find it interesting that these common insights have acquired something of cult status on the internet in recent years. "PO" websites - some of which I've been banned from - abound. I find this trend to be interesting as a sociological phenomonon.

I don't consider myself to be "doomerish" or "pessimistic." These terms have normative connotations that to my mind make them meaningless. Given the lack of teleology the universe seems to exhibit, how one polarizes the continuum between pessimism & optimism, for instance, is based on arbitrary criteria. If one holds anthropocentric values, human extinction is "bad." A person who values biodiversity, on the other hand, might consider human extinction to be a "good" thing. I don't tend to think in terms of bad or good, in this regard. I just know that populations that exceed K crash and that they crash harder the more they exceed K. The subject of what K is for humans, worldwide and san fossil fuel inputs, is complex. By my own best reckoning I consider K to be in the vicinity of 200 million. Half a billion tops. I don't consider human extinction within the next century or two as either bad or good. I consider it inevitable.

I have a granddaughter. I'd like for her to have a decent life. But I'll be dead within the next few years or decades and won't know what happens to her, just as my deceased parents and grandparents don't know what's become of me. We always launch children & grandchildren into an uncertain future, PO or no. I have no confidence in technological fixes to energy & environmental problems and hence tend to mock technocopians in these fora. All technological innovation - arguably even contraceptive & military technology - has heretofore only served to directly or indirectly foster human population inflation. Why should I expect that further innovation won't do likewise? As for "preps," I've recently bought a 30-06 with a scope, built what I hope will be a predator proof poultry house, gotten rid of the internet at home, etc. But these are things an old working class hippie like me would have done anyway, PO aware or not.

As an undergrad zoology major I, too, was interested in neurology & neurochemistry, Nate. The zoology dept. at my school didn't offer any such classes so I ended up taking physiological psychology courses in the psych dept. Without actually intending to do so, I ended up with a psych minor (as well as a minor in chemistry). I haven't kept up with developments in the field to the extent that apparently you have, but I certainly understand nerve impulse transmission and what happens at the synapse, etc. Please don't take this wrong as I sincerely mean no offense here, Nate, but many of your posts smack of the very same sort of "pop neurology" that so annoyed me two & three decades ago. A bit more sophisticated perhaps but just as poppish.

Anyway, I hope this satisfies some of your curiosity about me. Feel free to ban me if you feel that my contributions aren't constructive. I promise I won't come back under an alt id, if you decide to do so. Best wishes to all...

That was well said. Thanks for explanation.

Regarding 'pop-neurology', I have learned a great deal in the last few years - I had never had more than an intro course to Biology until 2003. The dots that I am connecting; habituation, addiction, Libets unconscious decision making, fundamentalism emanating from certain brain adaptations, behavioural ratchet effects, hedonic treadmill, steep discount rates, mirror neurons and cultural imitation, are collectively over my head -my writing here tries to stir the pot and get large scale lateral thinking in other institutions going -because to me, 'progress', (which I define as less suffering and ecosystem damage) will only come from addressing the demand side of the problems we face, and likely only in the intersecting circles of the relevant disciplines. I know enough senior scientists in these areas (for example Peter Whybrow at UCLA), to know that my ideas are not 'pop-neurology'. Perhaps they are written here as such, but that is due to lack of resources, time, and ability of one brain to delve too far into any one subject. I am getting a paper on the origins of addiction and one on belief systems into peer review, but that process has about a 2 year turnaround so writing here allows for real time feedback and could be a catalyst to others more capable than myself.

I am not interested in banning you, but ask that since you find TOD interesting, and you clearly are a scholarly person as well as concerned about the future (if not for yourself then your granddaughter), that you push the discussion forward in ways that people learn from or are constructive. 'Constructive' doesn't have to mean that we have solutions, and it doesn't have to be politically correct, just civil, informative, educational, etc. One of the reasons I harp on declining energy surplus, and our human penchant for more is to leap beyond the petty arguments about this resource or that and get to the bigger, broader questions about 'what' and 'how' so that we accelerate the discarding of dead-end policy pathways so that we have more quality resources (and biodiversity) left for your granddaughter and her generation.

None of us are prescient. None of us 'know' what K will be because we don't know what the future lifestyle will be. Under current consumption patterns I agree with your estimates. 50 years from now, when your granddaughter is your age, wouldn't you rather her hanging around folks that explored and thought about the ideas tossed around on this site as opposed to those ignorant of evolutionary biology, multi-level selection, thermodynamics, strong reciprocity, etc.? If you take as given that there will be a K crash in the next 100 years, would you care at all what type of culture the surviving group espouses?

Stick around. I have no doubt this forum can benefit from your expertise.

p.s. I don't KNOW what our actions will result in. But I am reasonably certain that almost anything that accelerates departure from business as usual will do more good than harm

p.p.s. my girlfriend completely agrees with you, so it is possible that I am subconsciously debating you instead of her...;-)

I would like to add a comment about K.

Life is full of examples of limits. The trouble is, it is often difficult to know where they are until one has gone past the limit. Driving fast around a curve, the limit of traction can be approached but when it is exceeded, things can become dangerous very fast. The limit of traction on ice is much less than that of rubber on asphalt, so a sudden transition between asphalt to black ice can produce a near instant transition from a stable situation to one with catastrophic consequences.

The notion of a limit in carrying capacity is another such situation. We won't know where the limit is until it's been passed and we are looking back at it. And, at that point, just like the example of the number of cows in a large pasture or caribou on an island, there won't be any easy way to turn back. We can spend endless hours discussing a number for "K" and the possible combinations of resources and technology which will increase or decrease it, but a hard and fast number is unknown. I agree with Darwinsdog that most indications point to a future population exceeding "K". I think that reading/posting on TOD is valuable simply because doing so may spread the word about limits in the forlorn hope that there might be some way to stop the train we are riding on before we get to that cliff called K...

E. Swanson


"Existence has no given significance. This precisely is what makes our situation so interesting." ~ Edward Abbey


1. Then give up now and avoid the rush.

2. It is positive to survive, negative to go extinct. Sometimes the mechanism of evolution doesn't work, and species become extinct, negative. We are still here, positive. We may plan to avoid extinction and learn from our mistakes, positive. If you don't agree, see item #1.

3. Optimism and pessimism are emergent views, from fulfillment of expectations based in pursuit of pleasure (hope) or avoidance of pain (dread), when insufficient information, energy, and resources exist to plan or implement alternate views or strategies.

4. Learning will involve mistakes. Mistakes will involve some level of discomfort or pain, but only when they persist do they become suffering. Discomfort and pain persist when learning is blocked. If you are concerned that another's plans may adversely impact you, you may enact your own plans or else see item #1 above.

This all boils down to 2 things:
1)how we each spend our own lives (subjective but relevant)
2)the scientific evidence (see Wilson, Wilson Journal of Biology 2007), that humans at least have the ability (I'm NOT implying likelihood), to overcome our biological constraints and live in a culture that has different, less harmful objectives.
Regarding being certain and the neurotransmitter cocktails it engenders, I cite:

A)the fact that Westexas above (and often) suggests there is flat world view, peak oil view, and net export view, even though 1)Hallock et al paper in 2002 showed that peak oil would involve lower exports (meaning this idea is and has been part of the the peak oil worldview/discussions and 2)the low cost of exporting nations (particularly middle east) suggests that if world economy stays intact, a greater % of oil production will be from exporters in next few years, as opposed to lesser %, due to cost.

B)On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not
The book explains why the "feeling of knowing" which can be elicited through electrical stimulation, does not reliably correlate with facts or reality.

Reminds me of old Alan Watts' book _The Wisdom of Insecurity_.

I realize that debating who said what, when and where is akin to debating precisely who had the best estimate of when the Titanic would sink, but if memory serves Hallock, et al's paper was pretty vague about time scenarios--across a range of decades if I remember correctly. I also would dispute the view that net exports has been an intrinsic part of the Peak Oil worldview. The only one of the mainstream Peak Oilers that I know that came close to addressing the net export issue prior to 2005 was Matt Simmons (On second thought, I think that Dr. Bartlett may have also addressed it.)

IMO, the difference between a low single digit exponential decline in production and accelerating net export decline rate is the difference between respectively jumping out of a airplane with a parachute versus without a parachute.

In any case, regarding net export declines, the math is relentless. If consumption stays flat or increases in exporting countries, once their production starts declining, they will show an accelerating net export decline rate.

WT - declining net energy trumps and subsumes net export decline -especially since presumably energy surplus is declining faster in importing countries. We'll see. In any case I agree with you re Titanic analogy - but just found it silly that you presented 'three' world views.

. . . but just found it silly that you presented 'three' world views.

I disagree.

Since I think it's safe to assume that neither one of us subscribes to the infinite world view, let's consider the Peak Oil versus the Peak Exports models, and let's go back to the original Export Land Model.

Let's assume that Export Land is the sole producer, and they consume half of their production at peak production of 2.0 mbpd and export half of their production at peak. Then production declines at -5%/year (roughly the same rate as the North Sea decline) and their consumption increases at +2.5%/year.

Nine years later, world oil production is 1.3 mbpd, but net oil exports have fallen from 1.0 mbpd to zero. This is the difference between the Peak Oil Model and the Peak Export Model. From the point of view of an importer, which of the two numbers is more important, world oil production of 1.3 mbpd or net oil exports of zero?

I think that a long term accelerating decline in net oil exports is basically a threat that is hard to overestimate. Yet even at this late date, most Peak Oilers focus on the top line production number, not on the volume of net oil exports.

BTW, this is a case where I now think that it is a mistake to focus exclusively on flow rates. For example, Indonesia, at what appears to be their final peak in 1996 had 100% of their post-1996 cumulative net oil exports in the ground. In 1997 they had 78%, in 1998 they had 56%, and so on. Note that these are actual numbers, not estimates. The real killer here is the disconnect between flow rates and remaining cumulative net oil exports. In 1998, Indonesia's net exports were only 9% below the 1996 rate, and up over the 1997 rate, but they had already shipped close to half of their post-1996 cumulative net oil exports by the end of 1998.

In my opinion the ELM will eventually apply to resources other than oil, and possibly within national borders. A good example would be a future point in time the USA, broke with a weakened Federal government, Texas may decide not to export their oil to other states at the expense of their citizens having fuel. Perhaps Wyoming will decide that they have more right to water from the Snake river than Californians do?

Which of the four Texas regions will secede from what?
Snake river drains to Washington and Oregon. The liberal and rich side of the states have plenty of water. The conservative and poor sides of the states are the ones that use Snake river water. Ditto California. The conservatives in the San Diego, Orange County, Riverside County, and Imperial County are the ones that import Colorado water.

1)there is no single Peak Oil camp - there are thousands of viewpoints under the Peak Oil umbrella - some see it as great opportunity to transition to renewables - others are stocking up on slingshots -many are in between.

2)Peak Export Model is ONE derivative viewpoint, which you are personally and professionally attached to (in the same sense I suppose that I am to net energy cliff, though I would prefer to be very wrong and labeled an idiot - a hedge to my lifestyle). The only way I see Export Land Model coming into play is IF world economy continues trucking along and demand in exporting countries does outstrip demand in consuming countries AND if importing countries continue to pump at same trajectory as before credit crisis. I think both of these assumptions are tenuous. If the exporters had the HIGHEST cost production at the margin, then I could see their exports dropping faster. As it is, in a world depression, I think its more likely that production is dropped by marginal cost. If this is the case, then exports (though dropping overall) will actually increase as % of total world liquids.

3)Does the drop in price reduce revenues so much that oil exporting countries economies (oil much higher % of GDP), reduce demand for oil at faster pace then ROW? What is the delta between this aspect of reality and original ELM notion?

4)Who cares? You are a smart and good man and have contributed a great deal to this educating people in this important debate over time. But is it so vital that Export Land Model - Author - Westexas permeates the blogosphere via daily reminders? Is it THAT important to be right? We're on the same team here Jeff. Is there any evidence that an understanding of Export Land Model as opposed to any of the dozen other ancillary theories surrounding peak oil will change the policy responses and get us out of avoiding energy train wreck? Maybe so - I don't know.

If you'd like to build on your theme, pls write up an analysis showing a)price elasticity of oil demand since credit crisis began for oil exporters vs oil importers and b)estimates of which countries the drop from total peak production of 86 mpbd (due to drop in demand) will come from. Then we'll see where it pans out 12-18 months from now.

Got a problem at home today Nate? You seem just a bit testy. Are we all out of control and its time to exert some control? Walk outside, let the night sky come into you, and chill fella. This site is the people who post, and post in their own way. It isn't really the top posts, they are great, but the heart and soul of the site is the people who post in the drumbeat, without that you have no audience. Don't spin your wheels too fast, you know how physics deals with that. You're a cute smart kid, there is an abundance of those. Relax.

Just run around the cage a bit, use up some energy, squeak some more, then sleep it off. Maybe you're upset you didn't see the ELM, you're smart enough but you missed it. No big deal, not worth it, let it be, maybe you need to power down for a bit, walk downstairs and trip all of your breakers, then come back in a week or so. Add to the disscussion don't detract.

Don in Maine

It isn't really the top posts, they are great, but the heart and soul of the site is the people who post in the drumbeat, without that you have no audience.

Attached to the DrumBeat as I am, I wouldn't go that far. TOD existed before the DrumBeat did, and had an audience. I imagine it would continue to exist, with an audience, even if the DrumBeat went away.

Good advice.
I rarely post/read drumbeat (except for Leanans links)
However, when I see something I feel is egregiously off base, I speak up.
But you are right - gonna give it a rest and go run around the cage- it's snowing..
Cheers - N

Regarding price, note that the Indonesian net export decline corresponded to an average US oil price of about $28, and oil prices did not cross the $40 mark until Indonesia was a net importer.

Regarding economic slumps, as I have previously noted, it appears that worldwide oil consumption only fell one year in the Great Depression (in 1930) and as Downsouth noted, there were three million more cars on the road in 1937 than in 1929.

In any case, I am interested in case histories of major oil exporters that showed: (1) declining production and (2) that did not show a long term accelerating net export decline rate. There may be some examples, but I haven't seen them yet.

Regarding my focus on Net Oil Exports, guilty as charged--the evidence is, as you noted, overwhelming--but I guess my question is why isn't everyone focused on Net Oil Exports? IMO, the case histories and mathematical models could not be more compelling.

And returning to the top of the thread, my point was that the conventional wisdom Infinite Earth Model is on a collision course with, IMO, the reality of a long term accelerating decline in net oil exports. From the point of view of importing countries, the global production number is virtually irrelevant. And BTW, the US is a prime example of an exporting country that showed a collapse in net oil exports to zero (in the late Forties), even as its production was increasing.

Also, as we have discussed, Mexico is an ongoing example of net export math. I estimate that their production has fallen at about -5%/year from 2004 to 2008 while net exports fell at about -16%/year. I estimate that Mexico, our #3 source of imported oil, and which probably shipped around 1.0 mbpd of net oil exports in 2008, has already shipped about 80% of their post-2004 cumulative net oil exports. Like Export Land, Indonesia and the UK, Mexico was consuming about half of their production at their final peak, and like the other three examples, it appears that Mexico will approach zero net oil exports less than 10 years after its production peaked.

Again you put people in one of two (maybe 3?) camps, either they have to believe in infinite fossil fuels or they have to believe we'll go down flames cause of the ELM. BS, there are many in betweens, many shades of grey, and I alluded to upthread and Nate alluded to when he said having 3 worldviews was "silly".

And don't forget the abiotic oil model.

In any case, your response is a prime example of why I think that we are in trouble. As I noted up the thread, the possibility of a low single digit decline rate in world oil production is occasionally discussed in polite company, but the possibility--and IMO, the near certainty--of an accelerating net export decline rate is generally given less credibility than space alien cults.

Agreed....flat production would be bad enough, a low decline rate is worse, and ELM is an unmitigated disaster...

There you go again making up lies again, assuming cause I believe in technical solutions then I must believe in Abiotic oil. You play that game in everything you do.

I've sometimes thought you a bit of a twit and argumentative, but not stupid.

Did you really not get the abiotic as sarcasm?

Or maybe it's me who is being stupid and WT was being an idiot...

Oh, nevermind....

CCPO, Sarcasm or not, it was cleary an attempt to imply that I believe in something I do not. It is a typical Westexas tactic and to be honest I kind of always thought of you as a huge twit!


I do not see you as a Cornucopian.

I do not see CCPO as a doomer.

Can we please just discuss the issues and not engage in ad hominem attacks?

Discussions on point are the only way we will fix this, assuming that there is a fix.

Personally, I strongly feel that there is only mitigation, but that's just me.

Both of you are bright, but no brighter than many people here.

I have had my share of snits, (mea culpa) but there is a bigger picture out there.

Cheers, and get yer effin sh%t together and address the problem. You two sound like the Congress and the

agreed i should have risen above and ignored ccpo's personal attack.

I'm sorely disappointed! I clearly was not being personal, merely tweaking you a bit, a-doom. I clearly stated you were not stupid. By implication, you were being churlish. This is what I was pointing out. Or, I thought you were only being churlish, but you seem to think WT was serious. That surprises me. WT has a history of strong sarcasm in his posts. I think you know this.

Anyway, I allowed he might have been serious with my disclaimer. I even attempted to, at the same time, point out how pointless the tit-for-tat was with said disclaimer. Humorously, I thought. Apparently I failed on all counts.

Take two shots of laughing gas and call me in the morning, churlishly or not, as you see fit.


Nate life is meaningful only to those with the time and intellectual capacity to contemplate it.

We really are governed by our instincts and personalities.
When a crowd is trapped in a burning disco with only one exit, the meaning of life is not considered.
Near enough to all of the bodies will be found close to the exit.

They are the ones trampled by the heroes and altruists, they wish to live another day to publicly display their humanity. In a burning room all pretense of our conjured up altruistic human nature is put aside.

In short when push comes to shove and we are starving and our children are starving, we won't be considering the meaning of life. You will be trampled or you will trample others in your attempt to survive.

What a sad and negative view of life you have. One that I'm sure you would say is not one based in meaning.

But here's the problem I see in your "explanation" - you write as if the individual is the focal point of meaning. This is both narrow and probably predictable if you are a "modern" (or "post-modern") born and raised in a western culture.

Your death may be meaningless to you, but it does have meaning for those who live after you. Meaning is created in a social setting and you might see the world differently if you stopped thinking the "individual" was the only unit of interest in the universe.

And if you really think life becomes meaningless when you are starving, perhaps you should consider why the starving person would want to live. You have mistaken meaning for introspection.

aha! therein lies the rub. We are n o t y e t quite at point where we are starving and our children are starving so considering these ideas and maybe following through on them still has potential. Clearly if the clock strikes midnight then you are (largely) correct. But we're not there yet.

You and I share at least one thing in common - we spend (in my case considerable) fractions of our life in this forum. As to the 'whys' and eventual externalities, we can only guess.

Nate life is meaningful only to those with the time and intellectual capacity to contemplate it.

I assert that making meaning for humans is inescapable and is present whenever we are awake. Not just for people with time to contemplate it. Even for something as simple as going shopping, I must have made it mean that it was "better" to have food than not to have food.

"Making meaning" is the built-in programming for humans.

We really are governed by our instincts and personalities.

Yes but only in part because we move between instincts and purposeful action from moment to moment.

And what are "instincts and personalities" other than actions derived from the meaning used to navigate the world? If a person has a "bubbly personality," what are the set of meanings operating that has the person respond in that way?

The bottom line is that we are swimming in a sea of meanings but most times we accept what our brain throws at us without using any sort of filter to say, "Is that meaning going to serve me?"

Natural to say I don't agree with you or Shaman.
I may be wrong but I'm fairly sure you both believe in a sky fairy.

I don't and so that belief doesn't cloud my understanding of human nature. I don't need life to have meaning other than understanding we try to survive and procreate (to pass on our genes).

What takes place between life and death is not ordained, it's varies due to circumstances and chance, so why bother with meaning.

I understand though your inability to see what I see, is the same in reverse for me.

I'm an atheist born and bred, yet I, too, think that people need meaning, and constantly create it. They're fooling themselves, since as you note, the universe is random. But that's what people do.

Agreed Leanan.
I know people seek and want meaning, it is I believe due to belief and faith and a perception of reality.

I honestly don't need and think there is "meaning" and I think there are many others like me.

The native asks "would I have gone to hell if I was not aware that I was sinning" and the missionary says "no" and the native asks "why did you tell me"?
Are you a savage or a non believer if you are not aware? (just a little sidebar, no bearing on the conversation)

"I'm an atheist born and bred, yet I, too, think that people need meaning, and constantly create it. They're fooling themselves, since as you note, the universe is random. But that's what people do."

Its my belief that those how have no desire or belief in immortality or life hereafter will find that there IS 'nothing' and their belief system will so reward them that.

Its my belief that those who wish for immorality or believe in life hereafter will find that their belief system will reward them accordingly.

To me life is richer with the second belief. That is where I go.
Its to each his own.

And Quantum Mechanics , read The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Gary Zukav if you so wish....according to him ...we actually create our own creation by observing..for without observation there is NOTHING.

The act of observing then creates. Double slit experiment..etc....

I sorta like this take on things. I have worked a large part of my life on electronics and still do but still no one can explain the reality of an electron. Its changes. By observing it,it changes. Or exists because our instruments affect it.

This is about as close to the Godhead as we can come...again...my philosophy after reading many spiritual tomes and as much in physics.

The search then is futile. Its the belief that counts.
Or put another way....Your faith is what saves you..

Notice I never spoke the name of a deity in the above. To each his own and Godspeed.(God is NOT God's name. Also there is no letter J in Hebrew,nor Latin, nor Greek nor in English until quite recently ..say 4 or 5 hundred years ago..We used I instead...According to my research...and no sourcing on it but it yields if you google it. Some may differ. I won't differ with them differing!

Airdale-all life is just an opinion..someone said or maybe it was all thoughts and discourses were just opinion...I forget and really don't care...so why did I post this? I really don't know. Oh to express an opinion?


Its my belief that those how have no desire or belief in immortality or life hereafter will find that there IS 'nothing' and their belief system will so reward them that.

You sound like my (Catholic) college boyfriend. He used to tell me that I would be like the atheist in Piers Anthony's On a Pale Horse. Death went to collect his soul to deliver it to heaven or hell, but when the atheist died, poof! His soul vanished.

I am an atheist.

Meaning == language

The two are inseparable. We wouldn't be communicating without meaning.

I think you are thinking meaning is some "deep purpose." I am using the term more generally.

Your stated "non-belief" is itself a belief. You can't escape that. You "believe" that life is not ordained (all though why you seem to think that belief entails predetermination is beyond me). You "believe" it varies due to circumstance and chance, etc.

It is not that I do not have the "ability" to see what you see. I see it well enough and see where the fallacy is. You "believe" that you have seen through to the last level of "reality" and can therefore see through the levels of "meaning" that shroud that reality. Of course, to think that you have some special insight into the "real" is merely self-delusion.

Non belief is a belief......you are an idiot.

Don't go where there are big crowds.

Watch out for politicos and those in authority. They are real 'Pushy'.

They will be doing the trampling.We are the trampled.

Airdale-best to stay in the country, where the real noise is the coyotes singing to the rising full moon..and the hoot owls snarking at each other down in the hollers...far enough to not hear 'traffic' or horns.

I think the universe is a random place. There is no reason for anything. There is no prime mover, or if there is, his existence was an accident, too, which makes everything he does equally accidental. Universes ‘just happen’ periodically due to the laws of chance and probability. In other words, given enough time an unlikely (but not impossible) event like a big bang will happen. And it will eventually happen again and again infinitely. If anything at all can be said to have existed prior to anything else, it is the chance that those things might exist. Oddly enough, ancient philosophers called this the Void or Chaos. Maybe they were on to something.

This universe seems to be governed by the laws of chance, physics and chemistry. So here we are, by accident. Brains (insect and otherwise) operate by taking streams of random information in, processing them and producing appropriate responses back out again. ‘Appropriate’ meaning those which insure that this brain continues to exist and propagate this behavior (I.e., natural selection.) And in the primates called homo sapiens? Our brains accidentally got a veneer of extra tissue which goes a step further. That tissue is the justification engine of the human brain. It analyzes what’s going on in the input-process-output circuit and makes up stories to explain why that is. These stories are called myths, religions, folklore, customs, cultural biases, food taboos, sex rituals, superstition, self justification, propaganda, jingoism and a whole host of other intricate and clever literary fictions. If we hear a partial story about something, we can’t rest until we either hear the remainder of the story or make up something. How do you thing urban legends start? All are based on the mistaken belief that there is a meaning behind everything.

For this reason I suggest that genus homo sapien should be better known as homo-mythgenerien. Man the myth maker. Why has science and the scientific method apparently escaped this trap? Well, laying aside that fact that scientists do their own share of making things up, I would say that science trumps the myth making response because science is based on two premises: The universe runs according to laws and the human brain (myth generator and all) is capable of discovering these laws using the scientific method. This philosophy has proven to be remarkably flexible. If this ceases to be true then science will cease to function.


As I've mentioned before, supporting the adult entertainment industry could be a great example of the government " stimulating the private sector ", at it were!

Porn has always had that mysterious disclaimer..

If I were in charge, sites like The Oil Drum would be the places that started you off with the ambitious aviso that this is 'For Mature Audiences'. I think this place is far more stimulating and arousing than any cheezy skin flick I've ever seen anyway.

"Love yourself. It'll be the beginning of a lifelong romance!" Oscar Wilde

I dunno know man. I mean Kate Beckinsale in skin tight black leather?
Like in Van Helsing?

Or the Underworld..was it?

Airdale..but that is not porn..that is appreciation..

Oooh.. dont get me started on Beckinsale! (It'll be over too quick..)

But that's not me being a 'Mature Audience' .. Just a happy one.

Nate, the harsh reality is that any superpower has use every resource possible to remain on the throne. Of course I agree that USA could behave more justly or more logically, but historically speaking it sure doesn't help relative fitness to be smart and humble. If it were so, buddhism would be major world religion, not christianity or islam and other aggressive religions.

If it were so, buddhism would be major world religion, not christianity or islam and other aggressive religions.

Excellent point. People base reality on story and myth, short term goals are favored over long term planning, and critical thinking is discouraged over heuristic thinking.
With these evolutionary survival traits (which have worked well until recently), Buddhism will be discounted, and surviving mostly in a superstition state like the rest.

If it were so, buddhism would be major world religion, not christianity or islam and other aggressive religions.

Buddism IS a major world religion. It is the state religion in Thailand. Thinking otherwise is (Judeo-Islamic-Christian)-centric. Remember not so long ago Islam was a unknown religion to many in the west. A few wars changed that.

By the by buddist based armies are just as violent as any other kind.
Many martial arts have been developed in buddist instutions

By the by buddist based armies are just as violent as any other kind.
Many martial arts have been developed in buddist instutions

A good reminder. In Japan, pre Meiji, it was frequently the Buddhist monks who would would torch the capital as a way of objecting to the imperial/shogunate edicts.

But "buddhism" is quite a bit different than the Buddhist churches, just as "christianity" is quite a bit different than Christian churches. In fact, at heart, both are philosophies of personal acceptance of a painful and unjust world. Whereas the churches have been among the biggest perpetrators of that pain and unjustness.

Someone once said
"Christianity begins where religion ends."

For some one(Ieosus) who espoused 'the truth' so often it is rather sad that so many untruths are spoken in those religious buildings. Mostly for ego and greed. In Catholic as well as Protestant. I spent a lot of time in both. Mostly I find other ways to spend it now.



On the investment into the US power grid: It's my understanding that the power grid in the US is owned by private corporations. So this large investment to develop a "smart grid" is taking public money and improving the property of private business? Is that correct? If so, this sounds profoundly unfair...so I must be missing something. Could someone clear this up for me?

It's a private investment that benefits the general public... Kind of like when the government gave railway land grants when they wanted to have a railway that links east coast to west coast... The private industry benefits (there's no doubt about that), but the public benefits even more.

The government had a "kicker" in that.

All government shipments by rail were done at a severe discount. With 90% of ton-miles by rail in WW II, the RRs argued (with THEIR accounting backing them up) that they had paid for the land many times over with the discount and got the post-WW II R Congress to waive the discount.


Alan not sure if you saw this yet:


U.S. Transportation Chief Backs Dulles Rail Project

U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters gave the final federal seal of approval to plans to extend Metrorail to Dulles International Airport last night, ensuring that the $5.2 billion project can move forward without restrictions

There was a 2nd story worth noting:

Rail Gains Momentum As Purple Line Pick

Despite its substantially higher cost, light rail has emerged as the clear front-runner among Maryland officials as they prepare to choose a transit system that would link Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

After more than 20 years of debate, a 16-mile rail line is the widely popular alternative to a rapid bus system, even though light rail could cost three times as much to build and 50 percent more to maintain and operate, according to state estimates.

I guess good news is in the eye of the beholder. I read "After more than 20 years of debate..." and am tempted to go shopping for tombstones.

Alan, how do you think they came up with their maintenance numbers? I thought I got the impression from your postings that rail was much cheaper to maintain than buses?

Here is a good place to start reading about how BRT advocates misrepresent things to make BRT sound good:


Without analyzing the numbers for this specific project, it is hard to say how they arrived at them. I did find this though:


Where they have an alternative matrix, and they list a low, medium and high investment BRT options.

With BRT, it is easy to low-ball the thing by having the bus run on the regular streets, which sort of reduces the whole thing to just an express bus service more than anything else.

Standard nomenclature is "per pax-mile" in transit.

New Orleans is unique in that we can run a streetcar cheaper/hour than a bus#.

The streetcar carries twice as many people, faster (most transit costs are per hour, not per mile) and will attract more customers. And FTA standard is buses last 12 years, rail vehicles 30 years.


Also, the more you use rail, the cheaper/ride. Not true so much of buses.


# Bus costs do NOT include wear and tear on streets. According to New Orleans Public Works engineer, bus route streets have over twice the wear of non bus routes. NO puts in thick concrete pads at each bus stop just to reduce the wear. Not accounted for.

Brief History of the US Railroads during World War I

I can see some analogies with what may be coming soon to a siding near you.

Not sure if this is the best "solution", but it seemed to work then.


Radical cheap: $1,000 homes
In places like Detroit and Cleveland, banks are unloading rundown homes for next to nothing. And they're tremendous bargains, even after factoring in renovation costs.

The real estate market is so awful that buyers are now scooping up homes for as little as $1,000.

There are 18 listings in Flint, Mich., for under $3,000, according to Realtor.com. There are 22 in Indianapolis, 46 in Cleveland and a whopping 709 in Detroit. All of these communities have been hit hard by foreclosures, and most of these homes are being sold by the lenders that repossessed them.

"Foreclosures have turned banks into property management companies," said Heather Fernandez, a spokeswoman for Trulia.com, the real estate Web site. "And it's often cheaper for them to give these homes away rather than try to get market value for them."

Better than rent?

You've got to start wondering what the salvage value is for those things, even if the copper wires and pipes have already been yanked. There's some employment opportunities out there for some people.

I think any salvaging worthwhile will be done by people who don't buy the houses. Why pay the taxes?

I heard on the radio that fire departments are now marking the empty houses so that they don't die trying to enter them when putting out fires. A fireman died recently entering an abandoned house that was on fire.

At some point, somebody may come by and snap them up in bulk, if they can think for a good use for the land (factory or such).

I'm surprised that the banksters haven't figured out yet that they can donate these properties at a higher appraised value than they can be sold for (i.e., > $0) to fire departments to use for training burns. The fire departments might as well do a controlled training burn - it just lessens the number of potential arson targets.

If someone snaps them up that someone may be stuck with property that nobody else wants.

No, they're not going to let you buy those houses just to strip them of valuables and leave them gutted. Many of these sales attach a requirement that the house be brought up to code by the buyer within a short timeframe. In Detroit, they're called ACR's.

They name those cabins Homes!!! Laugh! Hundreds of cucharaches are welcoming you in your 1000 $ home. Cheers on US quality construction.

Great! but who wants to live in a very cold place with no jobs, and gangs for neighbors?

Obama calls for 'dramatic action'

President-elect Barack Obama on Thursday said Congress must take "dramatic action" on his economic aid package as soon as possible, warning that a failure to do so would have devastating long-term consequences for the nation.

"If nothing is done, this recession could linger for years. The unemployment rate could reach double digits," he said.

"For every day we wait or point fingers or drag our feet, more Americans will lose their jobs. More families will lose their savings. More dreams will be deferred and denied. And our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse," he said.

Translation: "America, we are totally f*cked and I am praying the stimulus will work." Keep the faith, Big O, Keep the faith...

My translation: "America, we are totally f*cked and I know the stimulus won't work, but I'm praying you won't notice, then I'm gonna blame the fall on everyone but myself. Including you."


I may not think all his ideas will necessarily work but compared to the outgoing government, there are at least two things to appreciate about Obama:
a) he is talking straight to people rather than sugar-coating it
b) his commitment

Both are necessary in this situation before anything else.

In contrast to GW Bush-

a) he has the appearance of having no idea what he's talking about (for example, claiming weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, followed by a long and near futile war there)
b) his commitment... to keep doing that which does not work.

And his ability to string two words together without spinning out grammatical and semantic absurdities and embarrassments. What am I saying, even a single word could throw Bush into a tailspin. Remember "mis-underestimate"? You can't say he wasn't linguistically creative.

All this may be true, but doing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons but with good intentions and clear diction is still doing the wrong thing.

I haven't heard the speech, but the key points in the headlines sound an awful lot like the TARP pitches -- gotta do something quick or it'll get really bad, but it might get bad anyway!

TARP is not working it was rushed through, is not working did nothing more than allow for bonus payments to the executives, because the provisions regulating executive compensation only applied to those newly hired.

Mr. Obama may get one or two large spending bills through but what will that do?

We have gone through a tech bubble and then a housing bubble, the next will be a government spending bubble, it will be as unstainable as the other two, the only difference wil be that if the economy does not come back the government will be too poor to do much more than try to collect taxes.

Whatever Obama and Washington choose to do at this point, I'm just holding onto the JF Kennedy slogan from so long ago,

"Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country."

We know there seem to be some well-established blind spots in the Business and Political cultures. I think it will be important to really identify and name them, and then choose actions that can clearly demonstrate us operating in a different framework in our lives. (ie, if 'Corporate Personhood' is the one you see, or 'Privatization of Water', 'Ethanol Subsidy'.. then is there a way you can show the contradiction to this in your actions?)

How can you take the lead and be a visible example for one of your pet themes?

The President cannot save us, and the US government cannot save us.
Somehow people still believe that it can save us.
Take a quick look back through history to see how many governments failed,
and were replaced by another who had a different failure.
We must save ourselves from whatever comes our way.
D.C. is way behind the curve of peak oil. We are past the point of government action.
Only the smart, fast, and strong will survive!

We must save ourselves ...

Are you even listening to what you're saying?

"We" implies an organized populace.
An organized populace is a government.

If you are truly against an organized civilization, you would have said:

"I must save myself from whatever comes my way. ... I am past the point of government action. Only the smart, fast, and strong will survive! [Oh oh, that means that the drug lord across town with the guns and the gang will survive and thrive, not me. Me needs "we" to survive which is why me said "We" in the first place. Oops. I take it back. Government --of the well run kind-- is the answer. Going it alone is not going to work.]"

"Take a quick look back through history to see how many governments failed"

OK, let's. Well, since we are clearly talking about the US, umm, I think it has been in continuous existence for 230 some years. Now let's look around for some examples of other institutions that have lasted that long in the US. In the same time period, how many corporations have failed, even enormous and powerful ones--thousands, tens of thousands??

If your point is that all human institutions eventually fail, this is obviously and uninterestingly true. But picking out gov implies that there are some other sets of institutions that have proved to be more successful in history. I don't see them anywhere.

It is true that the current admission which came in with exactly your philosophy has probably come the closest to destroying our government. Ever heard of self-fulfilling prophecy?

But I do agree that we should not just wait around for the gov to do something. It may succeed in preserving itself without preserving many of us.

TARP, by the way, succeeded perfectly in fulfilling its unspoken purpose--to put tons of money into the hands of those primarily responsible for our crisis.

I submit that a large part of the problem has been the deficit spending by U.S. politicians for more than 25 years. In that sense, the U.S. did not collect enough taxes to cover the deficits, even during boom times. The result is a nation hooked on fiscal spending, addicted to "stimulus" if you will. All those fools who voted for Ol' Ronnie RayGun and his "cut taxes, raise military spending and balance the budget" scam still seem to think that paying for what we consume is a bad idea. Well, now the banks are tapped out and borrowing has dried up. Maybe it's time that the Government actually starts to collect enough taxes to pay the bills. Since most of us are out of money, that would mean increasing taxes for the rich, since that's where the wealth is. Prez BO could include a big tax on fossil fuels. Or would you rather give the money to the Saudis and the Ruskis??

E. Swanson

Regarding the 'stimulus' package of GWB vs Obama's. I really don't see any difference. About the same amount. One did nothing..this one won't either.

GWB did a tax cut. O sez he will too.

I am waiting to see how this all works out.I bet in the end we will be cussing one as much as the other. Merkuns are like that.


He may truly believe that modern civilization is salvageable. I did for a long time.

And in most cases, it really is a matter of habit that has people quit before the final bell goes off. "Successful" people have the opposite habit, of trying harder when things get tough. They aren't always successful in every endeavor but for the most part they are more successful than people who give up at the first appearance of difficulty.

In this case, however, I think the failure of the complex system we've built, supported by virtually limitless cheap energy, is the way this game is going to end.

Now, if he said, "This system of never ending growth can't continue. Let's switch to another system" he would have all my support.

He would also likely be assassinated quite quickly.

There are a range of possible futures, and the factors directing that future are complex and SOME of them are changeable.

I am trying to promote "solutions" that will mitigate under almost any circumstances. Make things better than they would otherwise be.

And I do not give up easily.


Pass shutdowns in the Northwest certainly nothing new. But now we add I-5 so commerce will be severely cutailed for awhile. We get a heavy rain on heavy snowpack early in the year much more now with GW effects. Flooding like now more frequent. Snowpack loss and fire problems ect. Just about every major east west road cut off now or sometime in the last two weeks, I wonder how long post peak, post meltdown, the highway system can be reliably maintained. Another ELP kinda day.

I-5 Shutdown
Snoqualmie Shutdown

Hey xburb - Both my big suppliers called and announced no deliveries for a couple days. All passes closed + I5.

Fortunately I had a new (new to me, 30+ years in the area) grower come in and sell me 50# of assorted winter squash, 50# sweet onion, 30# leeks, and 50# satina potatoes so we gots lots a soup.

Hey Jeff that is really cool about the local grower. Specially with everything shut. Good local relationships you have.
We'll catch you next time through. Thanks! Sorry to hear about your window. This guy maybe just an outlier. Once he's out of business it may quiet down? Still quite intense that deal...
anyway on the passes we'll use the Gorge. Seee you next time.

Super Chinook floods going down the Missouri are going to be immensively destructive because of Global Warming. Katrina was not even a patch on 1927, and that wasn't a hurricane.

Did you guys see the story about the expected 9.7% decrease in Norway oil production in 2009?, I know Norway has been on the decline for a while, but I didn't know that they could hit almost 10% a year, this is not much better then the average for Mexico, further more they mention $50 to $70 as the economic level to produce there, with prices where they are today, the decline could be sharper then 9.7%...and to top things of, Norway is one of the largest oil exporters out there...

all this and traders who can't see beyond the 5 min chart are bidding oil down to $40...talk about the efficent market hypothesis!.


Has hoarding begun?

Citigroup's Philbro (commodities trading part of the bank) has parked a tanker of oil off of Scotland in order to profit from contango. I think this story is in Bloomberg today.

Hoarding may happen first on a large, industrial scale like this then in a year or two (or maybe less) it will "localize"....

But this development is significant. Something has changed. According to the news item, more major investors are considering this plan.

Should you hoard the stuff now?

Interesting market signal in my opinion!

Yeap, everyone will make loads of money... just in time for when money will be worthless.

(I don't know what made me say that. Maybe I should delete this by pressing this here "save" button.)

Citigroup's Philbro (commodities trading part of the bank) has parked a tanker of oil off of Scotland in order to profit from contango.

Yeah, and whatever happened to that Saudi tanker (The Sirius Star) that Somali pirates hijacked? I have a feeling someone in the Kingdom figured that it might be more valuable if it just stays put, and really doesn't care about getting it back immediately...

Not really, just a simple contango play...buy oil at current levels and sell the futures when the 'carry' is no longer there..Say a tanker hire on a vlcc, plus oututrn loss, cost of capital etc is $1.00 per bbl per month...buy oil now at $42 bucks sell the top of the carry curve Jul futures at $54, less 6 month storage costs $6 , deliver into the Jul contract, sell the oil buy back the futures and pocket $6 per bbl. The only market signal it gives is that current prices are cheap compared to the deferred which implies a prompt over supply.

NPR had a piece on Fresh Water supply today , and the speaker mentions how T.Boone Pickens has been buying up a lot of water rights in Texas.. that's the hoarding that frightens me the most, no matter how benign the intentions may (seem to) be.

1:00 pm: Alternative Radio
The talk is entitled Peak Water by Maude Barlow, the National Chairperson of The Council of Canadians, Canada's largest public advocacy organization, and the co-founder of the Blue Planet Project, working internationally for the right to water. Barlow is the recipient of the Citation for Lifetime Achievement, Canada's highest environmental award. Her latest book is Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis.

related story

I may have missed discussion of the natural gas element to the Israeli govt. attack on Gaza. But here's another article in addition to the article Leanan posted on the DB 4 Jan 09.

I can't imagine a country that would attack another just for their resources under the pretense of terrorism. For those of you that are bored feel free to read Ronald Wright's book "What is America?" I find that it puts my mind at ease when you compare atrocities.


[That was very dry. For us slow-witted ones, feel free to trumpet your use of Sarcasm.]

Israelis are Americans with better excuses and fewer resources. So yeah, there will be more Injun Wars.

A generation adjusts as teens confront a harsh economy

Perhaps never before has a generation that has wanted for so little — these offspring of acquisitive Baby Boomer parents have amassed cellphones, iPods, laptops and a perceived sense of entitlement — been forced to give up so much.

But far from paralyzing teens, the new fiscal order finds them embracing these leaner times. Instead of tuning out, teens are eager for parents to share the sober details of family finances. Instead of whining, they're clamoring to help by cutting back on outings and getting odd jobs. And instead of moping, they're shifting expectations for the present and banking lessons for the future.

...Finding a rainbow in this fiscal storm is proving a teen strong suit, says Madeline Levine, author of The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids. She says parents may be surprised by the therapeutic effects of tough times.

"Kids will rise to the occasion," she says. "Teens not only want to pitch in, but also prove they can take care of themselves."

Best news I've heard in a long time, if true. Maybe they've spent this last decade feeling that a lot of secrets were being kept...

I don't think that's it, exactly.

Kids are people. And people need to feel useful. This economic crisis is allowing them to do that, perhaps for the first time in their lives.

I think that's something a lot of modern kids miss out on. They have all kinds of material things, and their schedules are packed with dance lessons and sports practice and music class. But having everything given to you isn't a very satisfying life.

I'm a kid! Practically all I do is think about peak oil. Well, sort of. I also go to highschool, which sucks because all my friends are morons when it comes to this stuff, but whatever, I think I am going to try and get a job on an organic farm this summer. I also consume little compared to most of my shopping obsessed friends. The last thing I bought: a pocket knife.

Good for you Ashton. A good pocket knife will do a lot of things. Keep it sharp and it will do what you ask of it.

I have to get a new one about every ten years because I use it a lot and keep it very sharp.

One of the worst things for me about post 9/11 flying is being without my pocket knife for the duration of the trip when I don't check luggage.

I see no reference that any of these helping kids are hungry? Being down to your last few thousand is a lot different than being down to your last half meal.

About the "Meaning of Life" thread above. It is pretty simple if you are here and now. My next breath comes easily, working in my garden is simple, only when I wonder what 'O' (either Obama or Oprah) will do does the meaning of life become complicated.

Does this mean no more tattoos then? Letting their hair grow?

I don't believe it.

Without the Ipods they are dead.

Today about 50 % of the truckers I saw on I-55 were all talking on their cellphones. The ones I could see that is. Scary..real scary.

The rest problably on BTs.

I have a CDL. I let them leave a voice mail when pushing 80,000 lbs down the roadway..No Ipods either. I just use the old reliable tape cassetes...farm trucks have little amenities.


Hello TODers,

Obviously, I can't afford to buy these detailed forecasts:

Datamonitor´s Fertilizer: Global Industry Guide is an essential resource for top-level data and analysis covering the fertilizer industry. It includes detailed data on market size and segmentation, textual analysis of the key trends and competitive landscape, and profiles of the leading companies. This incisive report provides expert analysis on a global, regional and country basis.


The global fertilizer market grew by 16.3% in 2007 to reach a value of $46 billion.

In 2012, the market is forecast to have a value of $99 billion, an increase of 114.6% since 2007.

The market grew by 5.1% in 2007 to reach a volume of 145 million metric tons.

In 2012, the market is forecast to have a volume of 183 million metric tons, an increase of 25.9% since 2007.

Nitrogen segment accounts for 56.7% of the global market value.
It would be fascinating to know if this I-NPK forecast was written with the likely effects of the Credit Crunch and Peak Everything included. I wonder what the forecast is for global O-NPK recycling by 2012; are they projecting any major cities to have fully converted to Edo-period Japanese-style humanure recycling by 2012 [recall MacFarlane PDF]?

My guess is that this report is just more extrapolation of BAU & JIT. Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

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

I'm going to a Ag Extension meeting next week regarding Soil Nutrients and next years plans as well as a paper on Online Soil Maps. A big ag chem outfit guy is providing dinner...a kinfolk of mine.

I will be getting a lookahead at what the Ag Profs are forcasting for next year. Then the next week is the same on Winter Wheat...

I think things in Ag are starting to get a bit shaken up.


Hello Airdale,

Thxs for responding. I hope you will ask your kinfolk and the AG profs if any of the I-NPK companies are planning for postPeak decline, and if they expect to gradually move much of their capital into O-NPK recycling.

As a helpless city boy: I don't get the chance to question those in the actual fields..

Non-OPEC oil production may falter in 2009:

Russia has an accelerating decline in production. (down ~150k/d?)
Mexico to continue drop (down ~175k/d?)
UK " (down ~100k/d?)
Norway " (down ~200k/d?)

Can US, Brazil, and Azerbaijan make up for much of the decline or will production fall more than '08's ~310k/d total non-OPEC drop?

It's gonna be interesting to see how this plays out with the 60+% lower incentive to produce (price)... See a daily perspective on it at:

Onwards to sustainability,


..(Some of the current tunnels are dug more than 20 metres down.)

..The Qassam rocket is a rudimentary missile that is put together in common metal shops. It uses sugar and fertilizer as propellant, and fertilizer and TNT in the warhead...
IMO, it is sad that we will go to such efforts to kill others vs using the same resources to grow food and hand-dig energy efficient housing and transport networks underground. Such is Thermo/Gene Collision life..

I still hope that Chicago eventually decides to rejuvenate and greatly enlarge their sixty miles of narrow-gauge tunnels, and I hope my Phoenix can start digging too before A/C and transport fuels become too expensive. IMO, Spiderwebs [both above & below ground] will be essential to augment and reinforce the buildout of Alan Drake's ideas.

Western prosperity is based on resources that are running out -- Hervé Philippe


All current growth-based economic models imply massive use of non-renewable resources and environmental degradation. These models are not sustainable, even in the short term.

As early as 160 years ago, John Stuart Mill affirmed that "the richest and most prosperous countries would very soon attain the stationary state" (Principles of Political Economy Longmans, 1848). In contrast to that time, when resources were being used up at a rate that was several orders of magnitude slower than today, a phase of economic degrowth is necessary before a stationary state can be reached. It would be a major achievement of economics to achieve such a degrowth without social and political disasters.

"degrowth", now there's a word. One of the keys to "degrowth without social and political disasters" is for the pain to be transparently shared. So far there's not much sign of an increase in transparency, however the President-elect has used the word.

Pres. Obama has spoken!!

He's getting more specific as he gets closer to being the POTUS. In discussing energy today while discussing the economy...

He said he wants to double renewable energy production in 3 years.

Can he do this? How? (I always cringe when folks talk about 'creating' energy, but let's let that one pass...) I'm eagerly waiting to see what he'll do for solar, specifically. Anyone?

If he said 'doubling energy surplus' and 'halving energy externalities', I'd be more excited. Look at the hundreds of alternative energy companies that have bitten the dust with oil price drop - 'renewable' does not connote 'better', as most of us know...

But it's a start. I just hope that 2/3 of his mandate isn't biofuels...

Anyone got a hand basket. I think the world is going there, and I need one to put it in.

Gees, I have never in my life seen so much bad news on the economy. It's abyssmal! Toyota closes all of its manufacturing for one full month?! Alcoa closes 6 plants? Macy's closes X number of stores? These are not the kind of companies one would think would do bad in almost any circumstance. There was an estimate today of 150,000 stores closing around the country (US). German auto makers are having trouble? I think its getting worse, not better. What stimulus package or Bernanke/Paulson move has changed the course of this economy? Not one. It's tanked and it seems to be sinking faster with each passing day.

I really think we're due here soon for another huge loss on the Stock Market. How can stocks be gaining with so much bad news afoot? Maybe Monday.