Introduction to a Series: Energy Policy Advice for The New Administration

A few months ago in a staff email thread, someone suggested compiling a summary list of '' energy recommendations for President Obama and the new Cabinet. After several days of emails, it became clear that our wide range of opinions and expertise formed consensus only on one fact: that oil supply was going to peak and decline much sooner than the mainstream energy media was aware and this requires change. Beyond that, even something as simple as improving energy efficiency could not be agreed upon without caveats, (in that case, Jevons Paradox).

All decisions will result in tradeoffs between the economy, energy and the environment. But asking the right questions in advance of making decisions is always advantageous. How quickly will low priced fossil fuels deplete? How do renewables measure up in terms of energy quality and scale? How large of environmental externalities (increased carbon emissions being but one) are we willing to endure to procure more energy? What role will efficiency and conservation play? What is all the energy for? Of the economic growth-energy-environment trifecta, must we 'choose two'? Etc.

There has been a vast wealth of energy information written and discussed on these pages over the past 3.5 years - over 2,000 articles, essays and posts. Not to condense some of this into recommendations to our nations policymakers would be a missed opportunity, especially given the confluence and complexities of the crises we now face. As such, in a series that will be posted here over the next 2 weeks, several of The Oil Drum staff are going to write individual letters outlining what we believe the President should focus on and be aware of regarding our energy situation.

Please stay tuned, and feel free to add you own recommendations below...

Given the lack of consensus and the ability to make only one consensus recommendations, it is no wonder that our nation's leaders cannot move forward either.

I would not worry too much about Obama getting the collective "wisdom" posted at TOD. He and his cabinet are well aware of the situation IMO.

Priority number one for him is fixing the mess left by the Bush Administration. Oil is on the back burner for now since supply exceeds demand for the immediate future. And if the past is any guide it could be 10 or more years before we see the economy and oil demand increase enough that the constraints of the Post Peak Oil world again begin to show.

He is a practical guy. If it looks to him that oil will not be a threat come 2012, he is not going to rock the boat with ideologically derived "solutions".

The overall decline rate (per IEA report) is 6.7%. But that includes new wells, infield drilling, tertiary recovery etc. If investments are not made now -we will be staring at a double digit decline rate in less than 5 years. Here is a paper linked in last weeks Drumbeat by reader 'Kalle" outlining the decline rate differences between old giants/onshore to smaller fields/offshore.

. . . 10 or more years

In 10 years, our middle case is that the top five net oil exporters will have already shipped about 80% of their post-2005 cumulative net oil exports.

In 2 years, North Ghawar may be effectively watered out (per Peter Wells at ASPO-USA) and Cantarell will probably be effectively watered out (extrapolating current trend). No worries--just the two largest producing fields in the world in 2005.

If US demand falls 25%, that would be the same as Ghawar disappearing off the face of the earth.

In order to keep our imports at a constant rate, our consumption has to fall at the same volumetric rate that our domestic production falls.

This is the post-peak "Import Land" quandary. It's the opposite of the "Export Land" quandary. For a post-peak exporter to keep their net exports constant, their consumption has to fall at the same volumetric rate that their production falls. If we go back to the Export Land model--2.0 mbpd at peak, consumption of 1.0 mbpd and net exports of 1.0 mbpd, with a post-peak production decline rate of -5%/year--for their net exports to stay constant at about 1.0 mbpd, their consumption would have to fall at about-15.6%/year over a 10 year period.

Here's the math:

Production in 10 years, with a -5%/year decline rate: 1.21 mbpd.

We want to then be exporting 1.0 mbpd, so consumption would have to fall from 1.0 mbpd to 0.21 mbpd, over a 10 year period, which is -15.6%/year (falling by half about every 4.6 years).

If we assume a -2.5%/year production decline rate, consumption would have to fall at about -5.8%/year, in order to still be exporting 1.0 mbpd in 10 years.

If US demand falls 25%, that would be the same as Ghawar disappearing off the face of the earth.

Similar - but the former is reversible, the latter is not...

...I'm not sure that oil demand has fallen significantly -has anyone got any figures?

Isn't it likely that given the recent dramatic falls people will return to BAU usage PDQ -much less than 10 years- I've already read Americans are buying SUVs again...

I suspect that with declines and a faster than expected rebound we will be hitting problems much sooner than most people realise.


Oil and oil alternative supply, demand and price

Energy Intelligence group/ Bloomberg supply and demand graph

Beyond 2010, there seems like there will be a significant and growing supply of $35-65 oil and oil substitutes.

1. Petrobanks THAI/Capri and other oilsand and heavy oil processes could make over a trillion barrels of oil affordable at $20,000 per producing barrel.

2. Multi-stage horizontal fracturing can be used to access oil in the Bakken Formation and older wells. Old wells in the USA have 360 billion barrels left in them, which have not been affordable to access. Multi-stage horizontal fracturing lowers the costs by 2-3 times.

3. Coal gasification and liquification is coming on stream and could be million barrel per day additions and growing from 2016+.

4. Third and fourth generation biofuel processes appear also to be on track to significant scale and affordability.

Having no expert knowledge in this area, please excuse my simplistic question: is the following scenario relevant to the current supply and price of oil.

For whatever confluence of reasons in the past year, oil went over $100 (briefly almost $150). If anyone had any means to pump oil out of the ground, they would pull out all the stops and pump as much as possible – 24 x 7 using every possible resource. Of course, it takes time (a few months?) for the oil to get from a hole in the ground to some productive end use. During this transit time, the SHTF in the financial markets and demand from industrial and motor vehicle uses dropped below the amount of oil supply eagerly flowing into the end-use markets. Now, it is a buyers market with lots of surplus oil available. Once the price dropped significantly, a couple of things happened. First, the oil producers decrease pumping; explorers decrease exploring and drilling; alternate energy projects go on hold; etc. - all because there is little profit motive. Second, the smartest guys in the room (with a few extra bucks), start buying and stockpiling cheap oil.

Going forward, the price of oil will be dampened for awhile because demand from industrial activity and associated transportation uses of oil will be less than the regular flow of oil from producers plus the oil the smart guys can sell as soon as they see a profit potential. After some time (what? A year or two?), industrial inventories of essential goods and services (even if not robust) will necessitate increased oil demand. But now the pipeline will have a decreased flow of oil, smart guy oil will decrease, and little work will have been done on new projects for conventional and alternative energy. In addition, a year or two of relatively cheap oil will perpetuate the NASCAR mentality and the average person will have done little to increase efficiency or conservation of energy. At that point, a new confluence of factors will lead to another spike in prices because, most likely, none of the fundamentals of oil supply have really changed – probably no magical technology break through, no vast new oil field discovery, no reversal of decline rates, and no significant reduction in population growth. More likely to occur is some unforeseen geopolitical event, which constrains the supply of oil that is technically available. So, in a few years (certainly much less than 10) oil will be back up over $100 a barrel – that is unless our most feared scenarios of collapse occur first and the entire way we look at energy now is irrelevant.


For not being an "expert" you seem to have a rather thorough and accurate summery of the current state of affairs IMO. I'll offer one little tweak that that might seem counterintuitive. Even if increased demand destruction from persistent economic woes continues downward pressure on oil prices, we might begin seeing significant increases in NG prices as early as next winter. Though not directly related to oil prices, most of the US NG drillers are significantly cutting back their efforts. Given the recent significant contribution from the unconventional NG plays and their associated rapid decline rates, the cut back in those plays will likely be felt very quickly. Thus even as we might see a decrease in NG demand we may see increasing costs. And if the drilling slump persists for 12 to 24 months we may actually experience shortages even during times of reduced demand.

Time will tell.

Hi Rockman,

Thanks for the comment. After reading the book "High Noon for Natural Gas" it seems odd that we have not heard much about decline rates in that sector. To the contrary, we have folks like Mr Pickens urging us to use more NG for motor vehicles. Your view is consistent with the "High Noon" book.

  1. Think in terms of directing the decline rather how to hang on to sunk investments.
  2. "What is fair and who decides?" Our "representative" system isn't up to the task; community based mechanism might be.
  3. Legitimacy of government is at stake.
  4. The four letter word is "LESS".

"I for one believe that if you give people a thorough understanding of what confronts them and the basic causes that produce it, they'll create their own program, and when the people create a program, you get action." Malcolm X

cfm in Gray, ME

IMO the single most important message is to prepare for a world in which available energy will be less than it is today. This is very different from assuming that alternative sources of energy will be able to gradually replace FF's and allow BAU. Everything I've read, on here and elsewhere, suggests this replacement will fall way short. Probably the best analysis I've seen of this is the top-down approach of Odum the ecologist. But there are many others.

So for politicians the question becomes not how to manage an energy transition but how to manage an overall energy decline. What infrastructure to put in place and, perhaps most importnatly of all, how to encourage conservation (as opposed to efficiency) and reconcile it with current cultures.


We could be looking at a series of devestating recessions caused by energy price spikes where the demand always falls dramatically leaving lots of potential supply.

Given all the other 'stuff' that will be going on I'm not sure the current batch of politicians will be able to frame the inevitable Post-Peak chaos in terms of an energy decline -and untill this is fully grasped as the cause for which politicians can feel that they can be elected for we are onto a loser.


I concur:

Economy Staircase

1) Be VERY careful who you listen to, virtually everyone has an ideological axe to grind.

2) Money MATTERS. You have only so much to spend on solving this problem, $1 spent on a costly and ineffective solution is $1 you cannot spend on cheap and effective solutions. Think in $/kwh.

3) Acknowledge that many standard of living items may have to decline or not improve. It may not be practical to send every person to college when the marketplace shifts back toward manual tasks. It may not be practical to provide healthcare for everyone when there is a question of providing FOOD for everyone.

2) Money MATTERS. You have only so much to spend on solving this problem, $1 spent on a costly and ineffective solution is $1 you cannot spend on cheap and effective solutions. Think in $/kwh.

Take it a step further. Think in kwh/kwh. Money is going to be rapidly moving target and not matter as much as you think. But be careful who you listen to...

I think we are going to have to think "energy cash flow". We will only have so much energy in each year. If we lose imports, it will be a lot less than now. Building anything new will be an energy sink, at least during the time it is being constructed, even wind turbines and solar PV. We may need to come up with energy budgets, the way we currently come up with cash budgets.

we are going to have to think "energy cash flow"

I see this as a most crucial point that many people don't get and which is not conveyed by the customary "peak oil" term (which I consequently don't favour myself).
A bankrupt business (/society) is no less bankrupt for having lots of notional capital just a few years ahead. The global society could easily end up in an irrecoverable energy-insolvency within the next few years.

But a more crucial point I see in Gail's comment in the first of these posts, that her recommendations won't be implemented. From my studying of such matters, I conclude that the competence of these "leaders" is vastly overreckoned, not least because one of the few things they have any competence at is in being experts at fooling people that they are competent.

Some commentators here and elsewhere fail to grasp the vast distinction between knowledge of information and understanding of ideas. These "leaders" are among the most informed of people, but that in no way guarantees any soundness of understanding;; two people given the same facts can come to vastly different conclusions.

Personally, from too many years' experience of campaigning, I think these advice columns will be a waste of time. With our Planet Titanic already starting to crash into the iceberg, we should quit appealing to the captain and instead organise our lifeboats per the "campfire" series.

Ha, ha ha ha ha ha!

RobinPC, I'm laughing with you, not at you!

Since the lever is credit/investment capital, the new standard for investment must follow the Iron Law of Sustainability. For too long have liabilities hidden as 'externalities' (that consumption has been labeled as 'investments'). It's past time for these hidden liabilities to come out of the closet.

With the externaliites factored into investment calculations, it is easier to set investment priorities. It is inconceiveable that ethanol could capture investment when its effects of its production on soil and water are measured.

From my studying of such matters, I conclude that the competence of these "leaders" is vastly overreckoned, not least because one of the few things they have any competence at is in being experts at fooling people that they are competent.

Once it is clear that circumstances are driving the ship - if the recession isn't ended by the Obamaplan, for instance - then the opportunity arrives for Obama himself to change direction, or for others who can face the risks of unpopularity to replace him.

we should quit appealing to the captain and instead organise our lifeboats per the "campfire" series.

It's possible to do both, no?

Hear hear. It would be foolish not to, as long as there is a glimmer of hope we might only scrape alongside the iceberg instead of colliding head first into it. The former situation allows us time to man our lifeboats, the second has us tumbling over the bow due to the impact. (I hope I didn't take that metafor too far)

André+Egregious, Indeed one can do both but the experience of decades of campaigning, plus the context of historical experience, is that any time/energy staked on influencing the "leaders" is at odds as long as the uk national lottery (ie anyone with a sense of proportion would invest elsewhere). I certainly wouldn't like to be responsible for stopping a vital worthwhile effort, but I just don't see it as such. How much more evidence is needed of the utter uselessness of these leaders? In uk the regime is right now trying to force on the people (very far from just going along with the people) expanded airports and roads and olympic flying-pig-fleets and rescuing auto-osaurs, not to mention spending as supposed cure of a problem caused by excessive spending.


I was part of the business delegation that helped give Schwarzenegger political cover (from "Business") so that he could sign AB32, the carbon emission legislation. We were told later by his office that if we hadn't gathered the key business CEOs of Silicon Valley (Google, Intel, HP, Intel, etc.) to say that they were in favor of AB32, he "couldn't" have signed the legislation. (It would have appeared that "all of business was against it" which wasn't true but he needed to hear that.)

The same group of business leaders is forming once again (and gathering others) to deliver to Obama the same message: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which resists virtually everything that would preserve the natural world, is not speaking for all business. I am doing my best to get this group in touch with the information I know about oil and I'm in conversation with the key organizer...we think we see a way. I hope to report some progress in a few months. (Cross your fingers.)

This won't ever make it to the newspapers but there are surprising pockets of people out there who can influence matters. Is it a slam dunk? No. Will it go nearly far enough? Almost certainly not. But it might just influence some key decisions and help lessen the blow that's about to hit.

Now, where did I get much of what I've learned about oil and am making sure I pass along? Here on TOD. Wasn't that exactly what the founders of TOD hoped when they began the site?

André, Your reply exemplifies the problem which it's trying to disprove. The standard paradigm is that lots of effort is put into getting the "leaders" to agree some marvellous legislative wonder - and meanwhile the reality gets worse rather than better. In your case, they've agreed to those legislations, but in the real world the airlines have only contracted due to economic failure, the dependence on cars has continued to increase rather than reduce, the automakers haven't been told to find something more useful to do.

Just empty hot air as so often encountered in the uk too. Just one example, the Road Traffic Reduction Acts were passed after a huge campaign. The govt then just ignored it and carried on with actual policies that would obviously increase traffic. I repeat, these garbage people are not worth wasting your time talking to. And the Titanic is already crashing!

Hi, Robin.
Some of the people I have worked with here in California are wonderful committed people, not garbage.
Thank you sharing your opinion on the whole matter.

Dear Obama

I believe you have attained the highest position in the land at the most fortutious time in history.

I am certain that all other living Presidents are envious.

You get to deliver the speech that will be talked about for generations.

“Ask not what the Planet can do for you, Ask what YOU can do for your planet.”

Then talk about how we will address the massive issues facing mankind;

Peak Oil
Resource Constraints
Climate Change
Environmental Degredation

You get to be the first person in history to DECLAIR that the economy works for the people, not people working for the economy. And make it so.

Finally you are especially blessed with being the first President in history to be able to address the biggest threat to our species, POPULATION.

Congratulations, and know that you have the hope and support of the entire world behind you.

food is definitely going to be a critical factor. Maintaining soil fertility through the adoption of well established practices such a permaculture is definitely in our near future. look to the cuban model. time to start the victory gardens.


I'm already involved with two international projects aimed at giving advice to Obama!

One is being sponsored by the NYT at Andy Revkin's blog
Check out Question 10. Revkin says he will be sending these to an Obama aide. Haven't yet heard any feedback.

The other is sponsored by the British newspaper (online) The Independent. Organized by David Price, it is an argument mapping project. You can see the map at:
My part was in questioning how much science should inform or even direct policy formation in the Obama White house.

A third project is more open to just figuring out what all of us should do!
Global Sensemaking (also a David Price project)

In all of these I have had one overriding question: How do you plan to get this information to Obama? I guess what I am saying is how much of an exercise in futility is this if Obama or his advisers never see it and never respond to it?

As I understand it, the Obama team intends to implement an interactive web site for purposes of allowing everyone to have visibility into what is going on in the administration and to provide some kind of feedback. Based on the current site: I am not holding my breath.

Perhaps some effort might be put into establishing communications channels first and then soliciting suggestions. I only have so much time to devote to these exercises, personally, so it would be a real motivator to think that something I contribute might actually end up in front of the man!

I have it on good authority that at least one of his science advisers on the transition team has been reading my blog, but I doubt if he has forwarded any of my less than hopeful, politics-free comments to the president-elect.

On the other hand, if people here think this is a useful exercise, if for no other reason than exploring areas of consensus, then full speed ahead and ignore my concern.

Question Everything


We have a couple 'ins' to the administration and have talked about producing something official, but to believe anyone that is still advocating a giant corn-ethanol mandate will really listen to the ideas we have here might be far-fetched. But as the founder (PG) of this site has often said, 'we have to try' and 'who else is gonna do it?'.

This is more opportunity to highlight our diversity and the enormity of the problem and strive for first principles, and rigorous debate. There are a great majority who still believe economic growth must be continued at all costs, despite the fact it doesn't make us happier or healthier and transmutes low entropy quickly into garbage - (Another reason for the series is it gives us brief podium to use language that doesn't neatly fit into an analysis...;-)

We have a couple 'ins' to the administration and have talked about producing something official, but to believe anyone that is still advocating a giant corn-ethanol mandate will really listen to the ideas we have here might be far-fetched.

Well, the 20 senators (from the 5 big corn states and the 5 lesser corn states) have a lot more "ins" with Obama than any outside technical advisors (such as TOD) will ever have. Regarding attempts to fix the ethanol boondoggle: starting at the top, while very common among idealists, is not going to have much effect. Until you can change the local politics of those 20 senators, ethanol-antagonists will be frustrated.

However, I don't mean to imply that outside advice might have no effect overall. Campaigns to expand local rail service might gain some traction especially if cast in the light of helping American Cities rebuild themselves and their local economies. Direct Federal grants to cities to build infrastructure (that is less car dependent) and rehabilitate local communities likely could bundle together many constituencies.

Our economic system is designed to go only in one direction, for more growth, more resource consumption and energy usage.

Obama's economic team consists of the same criminals who helped perpetrate the financial disaster we are in, Larry Summers, Tim Geithner and Robert Rubin. These people believe throwing money at the problem and hoping it will go away is how we're going to cure the evils of overborrowing and overspending and little savings.

Our economic system is designed to fail the moment it hits the brick wall of peak oil and there's not really much we can do about it. I applaud TOD's efforts but like all other efforts in the last 50 years regarding peak oil, climate change etc, no change will take place until the people are hungry, jobless and angry.

Real change only comes from shocks to the system. America and the world need shock therapy to wake up from their growth induced slumber, hopefully the greater depression that is coming up will wake the masses.

I would be pleased as punch if Obama would meet privately with Herman Daly, or Bob Costanza, or Charlie Hall, or anyone who can let him know that there is another world view besides neo-classical econ. He might not be able to do much with the eco-econ story, but at least he would have been warned!

I only have so much time to devote to these exercises, personally, so it would be a real motivator to think that something I contribute might actually end up in front of the man!

I have it on good authority that at least one of his science advisers on the transition team has been reading my blog, but I doubt if he has forwarded any of my less than hopeful, politics-free comments to the president-elect.

In the couple of things I sent in, all I really hoped for was that the ideas would find themselves into the discussions of the policy formulating underlings. I think that is sufficiently ambitious.

Don't say or do anything that will cause the masses any hardship whatsoever or you will not get re-elected. Only then do what you gotta do. You should be able to skate for four years on BS but certainly not eight.

Since we are peaking (now or soon), since it will be downhill thereafter, since therefore metals and minerals will become ever harder to extract and produce, since industrialism is therefore on a downslope, it seems logical plan for it and encourage it: i.e. start investing in retrenchment, invest in restructuring our economy away from car-oriented (urb+sub)urbanism toward car-less agriculture-centered dense small towns. Large numbers of people could live comfortably by the sweat of their own brows at a teeny fraction of the cost of mainstream life if things were properly organized.

Millions of people are being thrown on the slag heap, millions more will be joining them. Now is the perfect time to start building such an alternative economy. And since the soil and water are the ultimate resources on which our future depends, no further despoilation of these resources should be permitted. I.e. existing wells and mines should continue being worked on the downslope, but no new ones permitted.

In a word, the old economy is going to shrink, has to shrink. A new alternative economy has to be developed. Right now, however, all attention is devoted to reviving growth -- which is impossible except in the very short run. No attention is being paid to encouraging our only hope, an alternative economy of the type referred to above (and discussed in my retrenchment post a few weeks ago.)

I doubt TOD can develop a consensus on these issues. At best it could develop a small set of suggestions that incorporate the more frequently held views (and may not include this one!). Consensus isn't needed. Healthy debate is far more important at this stage of the game.

It likely is true that our horizons will shrink, but the question seems to me how to best to manage the process. Here one encounters a plethora of questions: Wind? Solar? Agriculture? Transport fuels? etc etc. Each of these have their own subset of issues and complexities. Given the excess and waste that exists in our economics systems right now I am forced to conclude that the pricing signal is wrong.

Economists will argue forever about pricing theory, but it is inescapable that all of our current major fuel sources are non-renewable and viable substitutes are not even on the horizon. Denmark gives us a pointer with nearly 20% of its electricity wind based. On top of that they have built a vibrant wind technology sector and are supplying wind technology around the world. But this is only a pointer.

We need to harness the markets too. I believe substituting dollar for dollar carbon taxes for income taxes will go a long way to delivering the outcomes we need. Carbon taxes levied at the pit or well head (or on import) according to grade of oil, gas and coal will be cheap and simple to collect. Carbon pricing will work its way rapidly through the economy and the consumer will have more discretionary income from reduced income taxes to offset his higher energy costs. Conservation, efficiency and renewables will all be pushed to the top of the agenda and we will be able to survive much longer on our remaining reserves at little or no cost. We may even be better off and we might give ourselves the opportunity for technology to "solve" our problems.

Too offset the financial crisis governments could commence major Keynesian style infrastructure programs in rail, renewable energy and conservation.

The big problem with this is political will. Our current crop of leaders such as Rudd here in Australia, Brown in the UK, Sarkosy in France etc are the antithesis of what might be called statesman. They are small minded apparachiks whose strongest ability is understanding how to climb the greasy pole. The world waits with baited breath for Obama. While anything is better than the awful Bush, he has a lot to live up to if he is going to be the messiah who leads us out of the wilderness.

Is it another sign of a complex collapse that as things get ever-more heated and stressed, we cling irrationally to the processes and ideas which led us here, the very systems which were fundamentally flawed to begin with?

Why, in other words, would government be capable of being part of a solution, when it has always been part of the problem? With the inefficiencies, corruption, back-room deals, media manipulation, abuse of authority, conspiratorial agendas, and rampant mind-boggling incompetence, how can one man or one administration, elected by an ignorant, uninterested, convenience-dependent populace, address fundamental flaws years, decades, and centuries in the making?

This is not just a rant. Each one of these pieces in the complex system, such as limited human perception, limited social influence, frequent emotional and irrational behavior, specific infrastructure interdependency, all while we're running out of time, these all bind together a culture of ideas based in a primitive world-view formed thousands of years ago.

If you want a path not to follow, the path we have been following thus far is the path to not follow.

If there is a solution, it will involve some level of dettaching from the system in terms of water, food, resources, and exchange of local community support. We can do it proactively, or it will be done for us.

Our problems stem from complexity. The new level of thinking advocated by Einstein would involved simplicity or at least reduced complexity. Currently, our energy-, food-, water-, and resource-flows are dependent on millions of people spread across millions of square miles. Reducing complexity means that many people lose influence and resources, people currently with the influence and resources to protect their own assets, much as the petroleum industry does regarding climate change misinformation.

Reduced complexity, resiliency instead of efficiency, decentralization of control, reduced profits, understanding limits to growth, these are all anathema to the way the current system works. And there are not only governmental, but also industrial, religious, financial, and media interests which will fight to protect where their bread, butter, and water come from. Which is the current system.

The largest relevance the government, et al, have is what they might do to screw up localized solutions of simplicity or reduced complexity.

If there is a letter to be sent, it would read as such:

Dear Mr. President:

Please leave us alone to do our own thing.

Well said, with two caveats:

If you want a path not to follow, the path we have been following thus far is the path to not follow

You haven't read my letter yet...;-)

Dear Mr. President:

Please leave us alone to do our own thing.

I don't think you've quite thought that through. If there were such an edict (anarchy rules), 1/2 the population would be dead within a month, and within 6 months there would be thousands of local warlords scattered around the country. (9/5 odds that A. Schwarzengger would be one of them). I think you meant - if you instead meant, keep big government handouts, bailouts, incentives towards growing the wrong industries, and listening to economists saying that price will solve the oil problem, then I misunderstood you and agree.

1. Cut through the red tape on getting full scale new design nuclear reactors up so we can know what (if anything) actually works. Emphasize the use of Thorium which is safer and in good supply.
2. Make sure that investment in power (and other energy) isn't wasted: subsidize them where necessary to allow the price charged to fall towards the marginal cost of production [rather than having to also cover the costs of borrowed money].
3. An outbreak of peace would save the US a lot of money: (a) Europe can look after itself; (b) Arrange with Russia, China and Japan to create a united neutral Korea; (c) Let China reunite on the offered one country 3 systems model; (d) The supposed reason for being in Afghanistan is to stop it becoming a failed state host of terrorists: forget it, there are going to be lots of failed states soon. This will allow the military to concentrate on America's actual vital interests: i.e. keeping the oil (and fertilizer) flowing while all the plans for energy security are implemented. [2 more: (e) Make peace with Cuba - they're harmless; (f) Make peace with Iran and help them get their oil/gas industry going better and help them build a nice non-proliferating nuclear power system.] History shows that building bridges to totalitarian countries undermines them, while helping their rulers build barriers is insanely counter-productive.

@Robert Smart: You have my vote for President!

From a 20-year military vet who has seen the light!

Make War - No More.

We definately need to stop the bad ideas.

1) Putting the entire US up for drilling will do very little.
2) Energy demand must be reduced (because demand _will_ be reduced forcibly in the future)
3) Wacky ideas like natural gas powered cars will result in Americans freezing to death at a quicker pace (read: don't do it)

Push the basics: Food, energy, water.

With how specialized our nation is, there is one thing that can hold us together economically and communally - communications. The cellphone, internet, and the combination of the two will keep us as a still coherent entity to some degree. You can guess where I work :). Without such things I'd certainly still be living in the dark (thanks to useless media). Awareness is still a major factor. Darkness is scary.

Would it be crazy to setup a very specific TOD site for practical help in these matters. I'm sure there are such sites - but aggregating the information would be very helpful. Things like growing/storing food, solar/wind/et al energy, boiling water. My fear rests in the fact that I have to fight all my friends and relatives to gain any ground on this issue - I've decided that I need to do this on my own, to some degree - I can boil water now! (using passive solar). - Still it seems like more and more people I read I getting the basic problem. A lot of economic blogs are becoming more hip to this jive.

Wacky ideas like natural gas powered cars
I think the wacky idea is using bailout money to make electric cars when people clearly want something like long range high load SUVs and pickups. The joy of taxes at work.

Long Range SUVs and Pick-ups are on a road to nowhere. Or haven't you read the statistics that document that 80% of Americans commute <35 miles per day? Therefore, 40 mile electric range Chevy Volts are fine (with the gas engine you can go cross state to visit Grandma); pure 100+ mile all-electric cars are do-able, they need to come down in price, hopefully from mass-production spurred by subsidies.

I, like several other poster on this board, have seen legions of empty-bed pick-ups and SUVs with one, maybe two people in them and without tons of crap in the back either.

For the occasions when people buy furniture or appliances or remodeling stuff from Home Depot, the stores can deliver for a nominal charge and one can rent a truck from Home Depot for a reasonable hourly fee.

For the real, no-kidding farmers, ranchers, and construction workers, have at it with your trucks, and drive hybrids...they can supply your job sites with some trons for power tools or light-alls. Even the US Army is moving towards medium and heavy transport trucks which will be diesel-electric hybrids...cause the Army knows better than anyone that it takes gas to haul gas across the battlefield, where there is a paucity of refueling stations. For the 80 % of the rest of the truck/SUV-owning 'urban cowboys and security moms', drop your delusions of grandeur and drive fuel-efficient cars to Wal-Mart and Chilis.

Gotta haul that boat/camper/snow machine/ATV/PWC? Get with the program, the end of BAU is nigh. Most of these luxuries can be rented at lakes/ocean shores, resorts/etc if you still have the money.

Have a passel of kids? Should have had two max.

BAU is over...accept that.

Stop the madness with rebates, which have the following features:

  • they tend to give money to people who were already going to purchase
  • they are very expensive per kW/h saved
  • they do not lower the barrier to purchasing enough because there is still a high upfront investment

Instead, implement on-bill financing (revolving loans) for businesses and individuals through every utility in the nation to quickly deploy efficient equipment (heating/cooling/cooking etc.).

In its favor, on-bill financing has the following features:

  • it is very, very cost effective because the money dispensed is completely recovered by the end of the program
  • many more people and businesses can participate because it eliminates the requirement of a high upfront investment — participants are being given a loan
  • the money to pay for the loan comes out of the energy saved on the utility bill — no impact on cash flow — some programs have even arranged for the loan to be net cash flow positive by stretching out the repayment term
  • in absolute terms, participants spend more money on efficiency measures because it costs them nothing to do so — they were going to spend the money on energy anyway, so why not buy some efficient equipment with it instead (which they get to keep at the end of the period)?
  • can be used by renters and lessees, too

I have come across no better way to deploy money toward efficiency. Every utility in the nation should offer these programs.

Check out the cost per kW/h saved and the low default rate of these two programs (these numbers are excellent, btw; don't forget that the money is completely recovered by the end of the program period, unlike rebates which is money gone for good):

Draft On-Bill Financing Real World

Hi Andre,

Can you recommend a place to start reading about this technique? There has been talk in Minneapolis about forming a coop to try to do a similar idea. But this sounds even more effective.



Hi, Jon.

Yes, check out:

I've also got a post about 80% complete on the topic (coming soon). I could send you a draft if you'd be willing to provide feedback on it before I submit it here.


Hi Andre',

I would be glad to give feed back. My email is in my profile. I will watch the spam filter just in case!


Ok I am not from america, not even from an industralized country but I can give a few words of advice.

Any plan that is based on business-as-usual (it includes thinking that a few years in future economy would be out of trouble and become like it was a few years ago) is not going to work. Reason is declining per capita energy consumption even in cera's plateau.

Any plan that increase number of roads would be total waste of money simply because those new roads (and even the old ones) would no longer be needed.

Any plan with primary objective to provide jobs is not going to work in long term. Focus should be on producing something of value, employment is a side advantage.

Any plan that is funded by foreign debt better not be implemented because of losses in future interest paid, increase of dependency, loss of pride etc.

Any plan that is funded by printing dollars more than the window provided by the deflation plus a maximum 10% inflation would be more harmful than beneficial as it would trigger dumping of dollars from foreign reserves of countries.

Any plan for providing false renewable energy (such as ethanol) is destined to fail.

Any plan for a pie-in-sky type of project (cold fusion, algae fuel etc) cannot be implemented because of very long time needed for any return on investment.

Any plan for true renewable energy (solar cells, wind mills) must be implemented keeping in mind that return in terms of gdp would take about 10 years and return to govt in form of taxes may not ever completely happen.

Any plan that is betting on "drill here, drill now" is destined to fail because there is really not a lot of oil left in usa. Even if all oil in usa is digged out in a single day it can't satisfy even one year's demand of usa.

Any plan about reducing military expenditures is destined to fail because of so many enemies usa has activated against it now. Many many people want to destroy usa and openly work on it. Usa can't afford to stop its military adventures now. A pull back of troops from iraq would give the same message to china and russia that the winter war had given to germany about russia. Fighting with weak bring you no benefit, if you succeed people would think you must have as you are powerful and this is no glory, if you fail people would know about your weaknesses and people of your size would seriously think about a serious adventure with you.

Obama simply have too little room to actually do something as bush had broken and sold all the rescue ships in his greed to make some money out of scrap metal. The real power of usa, its manufacturing base (remember usa emerged as super power after wwii due to its massive manufacturing base) is already gone. Weapons industry also make little money now because its not longer 1950s, most of the so-called third world countries (india, pakistan, iran etc) are now not only self-sufficient but also exporters. There are also rivals like china and russia. Ofcourse some very high tech stuff are still bought from usa but I doubt that it make more than 1 percent of gdp of usa (140 billion out of 14,000 billion).

I would recommend aggressive funding for advanced nuclear technologies, including small-scale nuclear reactors.

One of the big problems with the conventional nuclear paradigm is the tremendous lead time for siting, permits, approvals, and construction of huge GW-scale plants. Such time-lags limit our ability to respond to changes in the energy landscape. Compounding this problem are the issues of financial risk inherent to long-term mega-projects in turbulent times. Financing issues will also discourage the introduction of innovative reactor designs: who is going to be first to commit billions to a new type of plant never built before on a commercial scale?

We need to encourage more innovation and increase the ability of nuclear technology to respond quickly to the approaching twin catastrophies of GW and PO. I see mini- and micro-reactors as a way to make this happen by removing many of the problem barriers inherent with huge plants. With small mass-produced reactors, the financial risk is less for the manufacturer in developing new technology and the financial risk is minimized for the buyer. Being a standardized system, long certification time lags could be eliminated. Being small enough to be transported by truck or rail means a mini-reactor could be installed quickly anywhere it is needed. Being factory manufactured means there will be economies of scale in production to minimize cost per MW.

I hope the Obama Administration will place an emphasis on fast-tracking R&D, developing financial incentives and overhauling the regulatory apparatus for a range of next-generation nuclear technologies. Special attention should be payed to small-scale, inherently safe reactors that can potentially: lower financial barriers to innovation and technology introduction; introduce economics of mass production; provide more ways in which nuclear heat can be dispatched beyond electricity production (e.g. central plant heat for institutions, process heat for industry, district heating to replace N.G. in home heating, heat source for nitrogen fertilizer and industrial hydrogen production, heat-source to power trans-oceanic shipping, etc.)

I would recommend that he force the new Iraqi government to award field development contracts on very favorable terms to Lukoil, Total, ENI and PetroChina. Also limit the oilfield service providers to non-us companies. Pull Halliburton out.


Well, the doomers may not like this one, but here is my idea:


1. Nationalize the electric grid and build it out. This includes smart grid and HVDC lines.

2. Massive buildout of CSP in the Southwest. I would use a "build and auction" system. CCC or WPA (or whatever the new name is) builds the plants, then auctions them off to the highest bidder.

3. Massive buildout of wind.

4. Crash efficiency program. Huge incentives and loans for insulation. Strong efficiency standards, and subsidies for replacing inefficient appliances.

5. Massive electric rail building system. Again using the "build and auction" method.

6. Ban MTR coal mining and tax carbon.

7. Negative income tax ($6000 payment, 20% rate - plus bubble rates for super high incomes).

Hello TODers,

Need I mention SpiderWebRiding again?

Give me some Phx unemployed people to carefully dis-assemble the structural steel from the top floors of some of our skyscrapers and vacant big-box stores to provide narrow gauge track. Give me some more unemployed people to hammer out flatcars and weld SpiderBikes. The bottleneck I anticipate would be the forge to make the wheels/axle, but if Cambodia could do it for their Bamboo Network--I think Americans could do it too.

If really pressed for time and using minimal resources, we wouldn't even need switches because the people could just pickup the flatcar and move it to the next track to continue on, ala Cambodia again. Recall that these trains don't need to go very fast to keep people mobile--If you want to go faster, ride a bike.

I could easily picture a Peak Outreached, gung-ho for rapid change Phx converting fully inside a two year timeframe to where no cars are required to get around; the minitrains would easily suffice as a core 'ribcage' until Alan Drake's much larger, standard gauge ideas were gradually 'spine & limb' extended. But we won't take this logical track because by definition: the Iron Triangle can never be made Parallel.

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

You keep saying narrow gauge track. Why not standard or even double gauge. Make rail flat cars wide enough to handle the wheelbase of most autos. It would be a good way for electric cars to do intercity travel. No need for 40+ mile battery range.

On narrow gauge, the vehicles can be human powered.

Hello Thomas Deplume,

Thxs for responding. Recall appropriate scale. Any heavy or big loads can be moved on Alan's RR & TOD tracks; ie, to keep it simple-->elephants have big feet for a reason, but 'Spiders' should be small & light so their Web infrastructure is ecologically and energetically light too.

A typical vehicle is a 100-200 lb. two-legged spider trying to navigate from inside an 2-3 ton elephant. A 'natural' spider would seek to postPeak dance as lightly as possible across its self-built, small & light web.

A real spider [w/eight legs, no less] must laugh at how badly we currently dance with huge wastes of energy.

Take the analogy to the other extreme and ask why not monorail? Also why use mammal power when steam and stirling engines are so much more energy efficient especially when the energy of food production is figured in?

Flat cars are big enough to accomodate cars on standard gauge rail. Cars are transported by rail on two deck railcars.

In Switzerland thre are trains that take cars through tunnels to isolated valleys. Passengers drive their cars on from the loading platform. Passengers stay in their cars and drive off at the platform on other side of tunnel.

We need a plan that does not have failure as an option, and will automatically select the best solution even if most of us are wrong.

1...Implement a $100 billion / year R&D budget that pushes all technologies as hard and fast as possible. Steven Chu will know how to spend it. $100 billion / year is not much to solve the two biggest problems faced by 6.5 billion people, energy and climate change. The economic return for getting it right will be many orders of magnitude larger

2...Build demonstration plants of every technology as it becomes possible. If the first one fails, build improved models until the technology is proven to be useful or not.

3...Publish all the data.

4...Eliminate all subsidies. Note that R&D and subsidies are two completely different things. With R&D there is always the potential for a dramatic breakthrough that will change everything. Not so with subsidies.

5...Include all external costs for all technologies.

6...Allow the cost of energy to rise or fall to its real value on a totally level field.

7...Allow a well informed private sector of individuals and corporations to select the best technology for mass production.

This process will produce the best possible solution, whatever that is.

Dear Mr. President,

Poet is Now Producing Ethanol from Corn Cobs.

KL Process Design is making ethanol from wood waste, and Verenium is utilizing sugar cane bagasse. Many others are at roughly the same stage of development with other feedstocks. Don't Drop the Ball.

We need E15 right now.

Thanks for listening (I'm sure he reads the Oil Drum:)

As Karl Denninger has noted, the best laid plans for the energy future of the USA will be wasted if control of the nation is not somehow seized from the grifters and fraud artists that have a stranglehold on the country-things have spiralled out of control dramatically since the days of the ENRON trial.

Dear Mr. President:

I humbly thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I beg your indulgence and apologize that my lack of clarity on these issues renders this message longer than I would like. I hope that its contents may, by some stroke of fortune, contain some small shred of useful thought. At the very least, I hope that its reading shall not too quickly move you to sleep.

The problems facing our nation and our world are staggering and, frankly, frightening. The changes required are enormous, in some ways made more so by the precarious nature of our economic circumstance.

That said, the current economic situation and the resulting demand reduction may also have given you a small window of opportunity where major change can be both socially and politically acceptable (not happily accepted, but accepted).

We are at a unique moment in history. You will be the first African American President. As truly remarkable and positive an accomplishment as that it is, it is not enough. Do not simply be a progressive, or populist president. That will certainly not be historic. Not nearly. Instead, be truly historic. Be the first honest President that our nation has had in many decades. Tell the American people the truth. Use your considerable communication skills to make them understand what the end of cheap oil really means to our nation and our world.

Make our people (in fact, the world) understand the level of sacrifice that will be required if we are to leave our children and grandchildren with even a glimpse of the world we have known. Once, not so very long ago, sacrifice was a truly an American quality. Somewhere between the freedom bought and paid for by the sacrifices of the Greatest Generation and the end of the Baby Boom, the willingness to put others ahead of ones self got lost. Like anything that has been lost, the longer ago the loss took place, the harder it tends to be to figure out where and how the loss took place, and to find that which was lost. Our willingness, perhaps even our ability, to sacrifice has been well and truly lost for a very long time. However, I, for one, do not believe that it has been destroyed. It simply lies hidden, waiting for someone to shine the light of truth into the dark corners that are the collective lack of conscience that define our ridiculously overindulgent and unsustainable lifestyles. Be that light.

Be honest with the people. Tell them the cold, hard truth. Tell them the cost of trying to maintain what cannot be maintained. Tell them what must be done. And tell them the sacrifices that must be made to do it.

But honesty with the people is not enough. You must be honest with yourself and to what you know is real. You must guide your policies and decisions based on the reality of a country that must (and will) change its way of life. It was once famously said that the American way of life is non-negotiable. That is fine, this isn't a negotiation. This is a collection. The bill is coming due and Mother Earth is going to collect, the hard way, or the unthinkable way... the choice is up to us.

If we are to minimize, to whatever extent is actually possible, there are three priorities that must drive everything. Food. Energy. Transportation. We must convert our agricultural system to a non-fossil fuel based system. We must convert our energy system (production and use) to an efficient, renewable, sustainable system. We must convert our transportation system (commercial and passenger), both where we go and how we get there, to an efficient non-fossil fuel system.

Individually, these are ridiculously difficult goals. Together, they are mind-boggling. And all must be done against the enormous weight of our collective debt, truly a Herculean effort. However, as my local football coach likes to say, it is what it is. These are the predicaments we face, and these are the responses we need. Let these goals guide your decisions. Put everything else on the table. Measure every decision of every federal decision maker dependent upon advancing these goals. Help the state and local governments do the same, for their burden will be even greater as they lie where the rubber (that is, oil) meets the road.

Lead by example. It will help us follow you and make the sacrifices we all must make a bit more palatable. Turn out some national monument lights. Grow organic fruits and vegetables in place of the White House lawn. Eat the food from your yard and, as I think Michael Pollan said, share the rest with your neighbors at the D.C. food banks and shelters. Save where you can, cut back where you can, to the extent that you (as President) can. In truth, these will be difficult times for our nation and our world, and, as the man in charge, you will certainly bear the brunt. I do not envy you or your family these burdens, but your burdens, like ours, are now more a matter of degree than of choice. Such are the cards. What must be done, must be done, and must be done starting immediately. And the first thing that must be done is that We the People must start to hear and to understand the truth.

Perhaps We will panic and crash and burn together, or perhaps We will digest the news and sacrifice and fight to provide our children with the best future yet possible. I prefer to believe the latter, but I know that my poor ability to inspire change is limited to only myself and, perhaps, a few others. You campaigned on a platform of change. Certainly, change is coming. You can, and must, use your greater abilities to make sure that we start along the right path, to make sure that the change leads us where we need to be. You will not be the last President to guide us down this road, but you must, most importantly, be the one to get us started because change is definitely coming.

Again, thank you Mr. President for reading this letter. I doubt that its contents will stand very tall in the company of wiser advice, which no doubt you shall have in abundance from all manner of sources more eloquent than I. Still, I believe that honesty and sacrifice were core to our American experience. If they can be made so again, then truly historic your presidency will be.

We remain,

Your humble servants,

We The People

(as transcribed by Brian :)

OK, but the closure is backwards...We the People are NOT the President's 'humble servants'. The President serves the people hopefully through reason, listening to good ideas, sound judgment, and inspired leadership.

Once again, I must say, the Monster of AGW/PO is alive and well, without any patience to be spared. The time for polite discourse has come to an end in this country. You are the one that "must lead by example". He is paid to do a job....You dare to apologize to this government employee, for criminal actions that he IS able to directly affect? The open Treason that will go unanswered in Congress and the past White House under the Big O's short stay in his very visible position, will be his undoing. Last time I checked, aiding and abetting is a crime. If you, do not hold them accountable, and simply bow your head, you are as guilty as they. The time to apologize to criminals is over.

Only when those that have a stake in BAU, as so many here do, are slapped in the face with reality, will real change happen. The ride down the mountain will be very bumpy and most will not make it.

But never, ever apologize to a government employee for yourself, being a Citizen of this country. That is what has brought us to the end we have now. Stand up! Get a backbone!

The time will come quite soon, that so many in Washington, and government in general, will be walking around saying to themselves, "what happened? Why are the people in the streets? Why can't they be civil about this?" "We TRIED to get them food, isn't that enough?"

Good luck with your submissive attitude towards the FED. You will need all the luck you can get.

The letter's tone was intended to be reflective of the more cordial correspondence of a much earlier age, not submissive. Perhaps you've mistaken an attempt at courtesy for submission. It's entirely possible that the attempt failed to convey my desired tone. If so, that is regrettable.

Any "apologies" were simply a matter of politeness, and not in any way expressing either regret, sorrow, forgiveness or acceptance for any kind of previous wrongdoing (legal, ethical or moral). I certainly never apologized for "being a citizen". It was simply an attempt at civil discourse, as commonly practiced for many decades in this country (although not as much for the last half century or so). Clearly, you feel that the time for such civility is past. I would argue that the time has never been more critical for such civility. We will apparently agree to disagree on this point. We do seem to agree on the urgency of the situation. And we agree on the need for accountability.

Tone and style aside, the gist of the letter was supposed to be:
1. The people need to be told the truth. Tell it.
2. Hard times are coming. Prepare. Now.
3. In short, do your job as intended, not as recently practiced.

Shorter. Less "polite".


I do, understand the polite manner of speaking sometimes needed, and required when talking about a problem. Mostly, used for childrenor adults who need to be educated. Many here on TOD are but children, to be educated about the wild Bear in the woods, what happens when you beat a chained dog, stuff like that....

These Children in your government are well past the point of polite discussion and now, really need to go to the wood shed for a bit of the willow branch. That should be the least of their punishment, but I fear much, much more from the people when they finally, finally have had enough and take to the streets. Trouble is, that will be too late. The animal will be out of the cage and very hungry for blood.

But Ok, then you can argue til your blue in the face at the LOOTERS in your neighborhood for "civility" and "discourse". Write and tell us how the "cordial correspondence" goes when they are 3 streets away.

They will come when the food runs short, remember now, 3 days to chaos, per FEMA and every other reasonable estimate, when the fuel is not there for the trucks.

I mean no disrespect to you, or to anyone that truly wants to make a change, but if you think a soft pedal will get your voice heard now, amongst the Hurricane wind that is blowing, you are only pissing on the Forest Fire. Nothing of a true change, will take place in your government until it is forced upon them, by events they cannot control.

I mean no disrespect to you ...

None taken, and the same.

Nothing of a true change, will take place in your government until it is forced upon them, by events they cannot control.

Sadly, I tend to agree. As much as I would like to see meaningful action aimed at sustainable change, I don't see it. The powers that be, political and financial, are fully vested in the status quo. This does not stop me from making an argument, sometimes forcefully, sometimes cordially. May not make a difference, but probably doesn't hurt. But, like you say, that's my choice and other people will choose for themselves.

BTW, the part about being prepared for more than 3 days... actually, the FEMA info I've seen says that you should have enough to survive 2 weeks... that is their outside estimate on being able to actually arrive with help during a major catastrophe. So, I'm not too worried about the third day, but the third week.

I hope we won't need them, but good luck with your preparations.

I'd start with two recommendations to help north american energy security:

- import tax on fuels coming from outside north america to keep the price of oil at $50/bbl
(include mexico and canada to maintain production from mexico and spur development of oil sands)

- use the next $350 billion of the tarp to build energy infrastructure. Instead of disappearing
another 1/3 of a trillion dollars into the hungry maw of the banking industry, we should at least
buy something tangible like 100 nuclear power plants or 50 nuclear power plants and 50 wind turbine
factories and 50 pv panel factories with the raw materials to operate for 10 years.

Now this is infrastructure spending I can sign off on...NOT exclusively blowing money on roads, bridges, and other car-based projects.

Here's some recommendation.

What George Bush will be singing one week from today:

Shine on me sunshine
Walk with me world
It’s a skippidity do da day
I’m the happiest boy, in the whole U.S.A. . . .

Thank you oh Lord for making him (Obama) for me
And thank you for letting life turn out the way
That I always thought it could be
There once was a time when I could not imagine
How it would feel to say
I’m happiest boy, in the whole U.S.A. . . .

Keep it simple -

1. Buy a bike for every American, and stop building of all highways. Ford and GM could make bikes.
2. Shut down all coal burning power plants and replace with Hydro, Wind and Solar.
3. Cut the military budget from $500 billion down to $50 billion, and no more bank bailouts.
4. Put in heavy conservation incentives - for all resources. Stop taxing income.
5. Make it illegal to have un-secured debts, shut down all credit card companies, zero the balances.
6. Send Hillary to her new office in Afghanistan permanently.

If these 5 things are done, the rest of the issues will correct themselves. #6 lowers the hot air in D.C.

Allow bad business to go out of business, stop wasteful spending, stop fighting wars, clean the air.
People would be healthier on bikes, and it would lower the cost of health care.
Only debts left would be backed by real assets, and could be paid by the sale of the assets.
Food and water would improve with less pollution. People of the World would like us more!!!

Still at it, Nate? There are far more productive uses of time than tilting at windmills, sir.

In my view, he is not tilting at windmills. See my note above.

define 'productive'.
but yes, I'm still at it.

Allow 179 deductions for Solar PV, Solar Thermal and small wind.

Dear Mr. President,

These are times that try men's ideologies (and women's too).

In this great and united country of ours we have a department for just about every subject one can conventionally conceive of.

We have a Department for War (a.k.a. DOD) and a Department for Peace (a.k.a. State).

We have a Department for Health and a Department for Education.

A Department for Energy and a Department for Labor.

Our Compartmentalized Government and its alphabet soup list of departments and agencies seems to go on for almost ever and ever, without missing a single thing.

And yet we don't have a Department of Homer's Catch Alls and Black Swans (DOH-CABS) for catching all those things, those little things; that seem to fall between the cracks and for which we cleverly say to ourselves, Oh never mind, I never did sweat the little things or the Black Swans. Doh!

What are these little black swans that swim deftly between the cracks of our great and compartmentalized federal government?

I could start making a long list for you; a list that would include Peak Oil, Peak Fertilizer, Peak Water, Peak Free Market Capitalism, and on and on. But then I would be usurping the very purpose of the Department of H's Catch Alls and Black Swans.

Most of all, we don't have a department of self examination, self criticism and self mockery. We take certain truths to be self-evident and thus beyond review. We think too highly of ourselves. Your greatest accomplishment might be to reveal our weaknesses and foolishness rather than to merely tout our strengths. A nation and a civilization can be no stronger than its weakest links. Right now our weakest link is our belief in our inevitable triumph and forward progress. But that triumph cannot come if we let the little black swans sneak undetected through the cracks in our compartmentalized way of life. Only too late, we say to ourselves, D'Oh!

So in summation, I urge you to create a Department of Homer's Catch Alls and Black Swans (DOH-CABS) for catching all those things, those little things; that seem to fall between the cracks and become our undoing.

--Another concerned citizen whose thoughts will probably slip through the cracks