DrumBeat: January 23, 2009

$20 billion clean energy bill clears hurdle

WASHINGTON - The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday approved $20 billion in tax credits and related financial incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency — elements that are part of the Obama administration's plan to revive the economy.

The legislation's energy tax breaks would benefit the wind and solar energy industries, encourage energy-efficiency improvements to existing homes and help service stations recoup their costs for installing alternative energy pumps.

Oil up 6 percent as OPEC output drops

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices rose 6 percent on Friday as mounting evidence that OPEC is complying with the bulk of its record output cuts countered gloomy economic data that further dimmed the outlook for global energy demand.

U.S. crude rose $2.58 to $46.25 a barrel by 2:04 p.m. EST (1904 GMT). London Brent traded $2.35 higher at $47.74 a barrel.

The gains came after oil consultant Petrologistics estimated OPEC production would fall by 1.55 million barrels per day in January as part of the cartel's efforts to meet a 2.2 million bpd reduction agreed in December.

Oil Is Dead. Long Live Oil!

This brings oil back, on an inflation-adjusted basis, to the general zone of price levels that prevailed for about 30 years, from 1974 to 2004. Back to normal, in other words, despite the fact that world oil consumption has grown enormously over those decades.

And now the know-it-all commentators have completely, shamelessly, reversed themselves. Remember, six months ago, everyone—and I mean everyone, except me—was talking about the world running out. The slogan was “peak oil,” and they didn’t mean a peak oil price. They meant peak oil production. They’re talking about “peak oil” again now, but now they are talking about peak oil demand. I’m reading more and more “expert” opinion that we’ve seen the peak in oil demand from the United States and the rest of the developed world — forever. It’s never coming back.

Number of active oil rigs drops by 53

HOUSTON — The number of rigs actively exploring for oil and natural gas in the United States dropped by 53 this week to 1,515.

Of the rigs running nationwide, 1,185 were exploring for natural gas and 318 for oil, Houston-based Baker Hughes Inc. reported Friday. A total of 12 were listed as miscellaneous.

A year ago, the rig count stood at 1,747.

Tajikistan warns of possible water shortage crisis

Some Central Asian countries could be hit by severe water shortages this year because power-starved Tajikistan has been draining its reservoirs to generate electricity, the country's foreign minister said Wednesday.

To compensate for a shortfall caused by the suspension of electricity from Turkmenistan, Tajikistan is taking unusually high volumes of water from its main reservoirs to generate hydropower, minister Hamrokhon Zarifi said.

The reservoir supplies Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan with irrigation water over the dry summer months.

U.S. to get European proposal on gas emissions

BRUSSELS: The European Commission is preparing to call on the United States to create a trans-Atlantic system of carbon trading to limit greenhouse gas emissions and to press for the establishment of similar markets spanning the developed world, according to a draft document seen Friday by the International Herald Tribune.

The European proposal comes as the United States under President Barack Obama enters a period of intense debate over whether to adopt such market-based systems or use a more straightforward tax to limit planet-warming gases from industry.

Stimulus: Stuck on cars

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A major chunk of the stimulus plan dealing with transportation is drawing fire for focusing too much on building new highways and not enough on regular maintenance projects and public transport.

The House has budgeted $30 billion for roads and bridges and $10 billion for mass transport as part of a $550 spending plan designed to boost the economy.

While supporters of the plan say most of that money will be spent on repair and the money needs to be allocated quickly to jolt the economy, critics say it short changes public transportation and relies on an outdated distribution system that won't produce the kind of green transformation promised by politicians but rather more of the same mega-highway projects that got the nation into its energy and environmental mess in the first place.

"This is a pretty big disappointment," Robert Puentes, a fellow with the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Project, said of the plan. "There was all this momentum for some kind of reform, but when you look at what's in there, it just doesn't do that."

Petrobras Cut to ‘Equal-Weight’ at Morgan Stanley

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil’s state-owned oil company, was cut to “equal-weight” from “overweight” by Morgan Stanley, which said earnings estimates are too high given a weaker currency and declining oil prices.

Crude oil in New York will probably average about $50 a barrel in 2009, Morgan Stanley said, 14 percent higher than yesterday’s closing price and 66 percent lower than the record $147.27 in July. This means Petrobras’ earnings may fall 60 percent in 2009, more than the average 36 percent drop expected by analysts covering the stock, the brokerage said.

Why Europe Can't Abandon Russian Ga

While Gazprom may be feeling the pressure of the onset of a deep recession, its price dispute with Ukraine is grounded in Russian geopolitics. "There is a real sense Gazprom behaved in a way designed to embarrass Ukraine, rather than to get the gas flowing again," Julian Lee of the Center for Global Energy Studies in London told Reuters on Wednesday.

The problem facing Europe's consumer nations, however, is that there are precious few alternatives to buying Russian gas. European leaders have spent years developing plans to divert significant supplies of Caspian Sea natural gas from post-Soviet nations such as Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. But the construction of such pipelines has lagged badly — and may be imperiled by the tensions in the Caucasus in the wake of last summer's Russia-Georgia showdown, which shut the Caspian oil pipeline running through Georgia from Azerbaijan to Turkey.

Lessons from the Russian Gas Dispute

Exactly what the long-term implications will be are still rather hard to fathom. It doesn't help that many fundamental facts about the dispute remain clouded in controversy—including the key question of who was ultimately responsible for cutting off Europe's gas. While Russia accuses Ukraine of blocking Russian gas supplies to Europe during the dispute, the Ukrainians say that it was actually the Russians who turned off the taps.

Russian oil consortium in Venezuela to expand to Cuba

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) - A Russian national oil consortium created to run oil projects in Venezuela will also cooperate with Cuba's state-run oil company Cubapetroleo, a memorandum signed between the two companies stated on Friday.

Gunmen attack Exxon vessel, tugboat in Nigeria

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria (Reuters) - Gunmen ambushed an oil supply vessel and tugboat in two separate incidents on Friday, a military spokesman said, the latest in a series of attacks off the coast of Nigeria's Niger Delta region.

Africa's top oil producer has one of the world's highest incidence of piracy, second only to Somalia, with 10 attacks reported so far this year.

From 'catastrophe' to 'accident,' TVA edited coal ash spill information before public release

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The massive coal ash spill at a Tennessee Valley Authority power plant last month wasn't so much "catastrophic" as it was a "sudden, accidental release."

That's according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press that was prepared by TVA's 50-member public relations staff for briefing news media the day after the disaster at the Kingston Fossil Plant, about 40 miles west of Knoxville.

The nation's largest public utility has been accused by environmentalists and affected residents of soft-pedaling the seriousness of the flood of toxin-laden ash that filled inlets of the Emory River and swept away or damaged lakeside homes.

Drought spurs Calif. farmers to slash planting

SAN FRANCISCO - Some of the nation's largest farms plan to cut back on planting this spring over concerns that federal water supplies will dry up as officials deal with the drought plaguing California.

Farmers in the Central Valley said Thursday they would forego planting thousands of acres of water-thirsty canning tomatoes and already have started slashing acreage for lettuce and melons.

Honda’s Insight hybrid is a fuel-saving fanatic

Increasing interest in value should make the 2010 Honda Insight hybrid a popular choice, whenever people decide to start buying cars again. Once people open their wallets, they will likely do so with a mind to maximize their value, and the Insight will be waiting for them.

Americans driving less

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- As gas prices spiked last year, American motorists responded by driving less.

Motorists drove 112 billion fewer miles during the 13-month period between November 1, 2007 and November 30, 2008 compared with the year-prior period, the U.S. Department of Transportation said Thursday.

The average price of a gallon of gas on Nov. 1, 2008, was $2.46, compared to $2.91 a year prior, according to AAA. In the interim, gas prices skyrocketed to record highs, reaching $4.11 a gallon in mid-July.

Driving volume posted its steepest monthly drop in November since 1971, the DOT reported. Americans drove 5.3% less, or 12.9 billion fewer miles, compared with November 2007.

The steepest drop off in driving was reported in the South Atlantic region, with 6.4% fewer miles traveled in November 2008 compared to the same time a year prior.

Mexico's Pemex plans net borrowing of up to $3 bln

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's state oil company Pemex said on Thursday its plans to add between $2.5 billion and $3 billion of debt this year after two years of reducing its liabilities.

...The bulk of the investment program is targeted at the company's oil and gas production operations, where Pemex is struggling to reverse sliding oil output

Schlumberger Net Income Falls; Job Cuts Affect 5,000

(Bloomberg) -- Schlumberger Ltd., the world’s largest oilfield-services provider, said fourth-quarter profit fell 17 percent as a collapse in petroleum prices slowed exploration spending by customers. The company said job cuts “concern” 5,000 people worldwide.

Net income dropped to $1.15 billion, or 95 cents a share, from $1.38 billion, or $1.12, a year earlier, Schlumberger said today in a statement. Excluding costs associated with job cuts and a write-off related to a customer with “liquidity issues,” profit was 1 cent below the average estimate of 24 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Drilling Slows, Hits Panhandle Area Hard

Jobs affected, rigs closed. Our region's oil and natural gas business is taking a hit with the economic downturn.

More than 30 rigs have shut down since crude oil prices dropped this fall. That mean's more than 300 workers either lost their jobs or took pay cuts.

Take into account that most workers on the rigs make around 25 dollars an hour.

Now, you begin to understand the impact the downturn has had on our economy.

Obama unlikely to move soon on Arctic policy

Canadians are delighted at the prospect of a looming official state visit by U.S. President Barack Obama, but those hoping that he will move quickly on Arctic policy are likely to be disappointed.

Our Clean Energy Future Should Minimize Ethanol

Americans might be waiting long after 2022 for their five million green jobs and true energy independence if the pink elephant of alternative energy a.k.a. the Ethanol Lobby has its way. President Obama’s glorious plan for a “clean energy future” baffles environmentalists as it continues to promote biofuels, like corn-based ethanol, as an answer to our energy problems despite the facts.

The jury is out and the facts are in. The American consumer has voted with his money: the corn-based ethanol industry is not a fiscally viable alternative energy source and environmental scientists are stating that it’s production and use is actually contributing more to global warming than regular gas.

Bulgaria seeks restart of old nuclear reactors

SOFIA, Bulgaria: Bulgaria's parliament has approved plans to seek European Union permission to relaunch two old nuclear reactors mothballed when it joined the EU two years ago.

The Philippines should spend funds on real energy solutions instead of nuke plant

MANILA, Philippines - Instead of allotting funds for recommissioning the Philippines’ mothballed nuclear facility, the country should use its resources for “real and meaningful solutions to climate change and energy crisis."

This was proposed by the Philippine Climate Watch Alliance (PCWA), a group of progressive sectoral and environmental organizations that expressed opposition to Senate Bill No. 2665. The bill intends to re-commission the BNPP, “to address global warming" and the "shortfall in the electric generating capacity of the country in 2012."

US Fast Making Nuclear Power Core of its Energy Mix

RNCOS in its new research report, “US Nuclear Energy Outlook”, says that the US is expected to become the world’s largest consumer of nuclear energy in future, with total consumption nearing 917 Billion KWh by 2030.

The US is adding nuclear power in its energy portfolio to enhance the security and diversity of energy supplies. As the supply of traditional energy sources is disrupted, the US has increased focus on the expansion of its nuclear industry. Nuclear energy not only represents an important hedge against volatile fossil fuel prices, but also offers prospect of low and stable running cost.

The truth about Community Choice Aggregation

The running theme of the piece, by Peter Jamison, is that Community Choice Aggregation, an energy plan that would allow the city to be the wholesale buyer and provider of power to residents, comes with a high risk. In an effort to get greener power, the article charges, the city may wind up raising electric rates - "which could have a crippling impact on the city's poorest residents."

Of course, PG&E is going to raise electricity rates every year for the foreseeable future, and high PG&E rates are already having a crippling impact on poor people, small businesses and the local economy. But that's not addressed in the story.

The truth is, CCA is only "risky" if you (a) assume that PG&E, which has been in and out of bankruptcy and continues to seek rate hikes, will somehow be a risk-free source of energy in the future and (b) assume that there's no risk whatsoever to continuing to rely almost entirely on nuclear power and fossil fuels for our energy needs.

Fuel Cells For Cars With Current Technology Are a Non Starter Due To Natural Resource Limitations

The fuel cell in the Honda Clarity is the source of electricity for the electric motors that drive the car. The fuel for the fuel cell is hydrogen gas, which can be plentifully produced either by the simple electrolysis of water or by chemical processing of natural gas or ammonia both of which chemicals are widely distributed throughout our society. Why then is no one moving to create a hydrogen production and distribution system so that fuel cells of the type used by the Honda Clarity can be mass produced? It's simple; there isn't enough platinum to make such a move practical now or ever.

Coastal aquifer in danger of contamination, study finds

The Israel Water Authority is struggling to cope with a severe water shortage that has been made more acute by a continual deterioration in the water quality of the coastal aquifer, one of the two main underground water sources in the country, according to a new report.

Deffeyes: President Obama

It's still out there; world oil production has ceased growing. The Obama administration might be able to fix the banking and financial situation, but the financial freezeup is a symptom and not the disease. Oil production ceased to grow in 2005, as I predicted. I expected a gradual rise in the price of oil; the abrupt jump from 2004 to mid-2008 came as a surprise. Oil prices had already doubled before the first mortgage funds got into trouble. A gradual price rise would have caused a few homeowners at a time to become unable to meet their mortgage payments. The sudden energy price increase caused lots of delinquent payments, all at once. Even if the Obama administration puts in 90 percent of their attention and 200 percent of the available money to fix the financial structure, the world oil situation could turn around and trash the financial system all over again.

Russia's crude output down 0.7%, gas up 1.6% in 2008

MOSCOW, January 23 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's crude production in 2008 declined 0.7% year-on-year to 488 million metric tons (9.8 mln bbl/d), while natural gas output increased 1.6% to 663 billion cubic meters, the Federal Statistics Service said on Friday.

Oil production fell 0.9% year-on-year in December and increased 3.3% against last November.

Bolivia to seize energy firm Chaco - gov't source

LA PAZ, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Bolivia's leftist government plans to seize control of energy producer Chaco, controlled by Pan American Energy, a government source told Reuters on Friday.

Morales ordered Pan American Energy last year to transfer shares in Chaco to the Bolivian government so that state-run energy company YPFB, which holds a 49 percent stake, could become majority shareholder.

Resources Layoffs Bode Ill

Even if cutting some workers makes sense in a crunch, however, this is worrying, and not merely for the sector's employees. Until recently, investors in mining and energy were fed a diet of Malthusian predictions about peak oil, equipment shortages and a dearth of engineering graduates.

Instead, the cycle lives on. Consensus forecasts still point to a bounce back in the price of commodities such as oil and aluminum as early as this year. But if the pace of layoffs picks up, the unavoidable conclusion would be that the producers themselves don't share such optimism.

Ukraine President Plans to Seek Changes to Russia Gas Accords

(Bloomberg) -- Ukraine’s president plans to propose changes to a natural-gas accord with Russia that the two nations’ premiers hammered out to end almost two weeks of supply disruption for the European Union.

The Ukrainian side will seek to start consultations with Russia “no later than in the summer,” Oleksandr Shlapak, the first deputy chief of President Viktor Yushchenko’s staff, told reporters today in Kiev. The country will honor the contract’s terms because legally it can’t withdraw, he said.

New EU gas pipeline must avoid Russia: Hungary

BUDAPEST - Europe must give solid support for the ambitious Nabucco gas pipeline project, Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany said Friday following a crisis over Russian gas imports this month.

Slovakia scraps plans to restart reactor as gas flows to Europe

Bratislava - Slovakia scrapped plans to restart its Soviet- era nuclear reactor in Jaslovske Bohunice as Russia renewed gas supplies via Ukraine and the power grid was stable, an official said Friday. Slovakia abandoned its intention to restart the unit on the day when the Bulgarian parliament asked government to probe options for restarting Bulgaria's nuclear reactors that were closed as a requirement for entering the EU.

The reactor at Jaslovske Bohunice was shut down on December 31 as a condition for Slovakia's membership to the EU.

ConocoPhillips to Shut U.K.’s Humber Refinery for Maintenance

(Bloomberg) -- ConocoPhillips plans to shut units at its Humber refinery, the U.K.’s third-largest, for maintenance next quarter, cutting fuel output.

Sarkozy's proposal on fixing price deserves attention

Although the call came from none other than French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the call failed to generate the ripples that it truly deserved. The call was significant in more ways than one, to say the least. An opportunity seems open, waiting to be seized.

While talking to foreign diplomats based in Paris, Sarkozy came out with a rather unusual proposal: Fixing the crude prices at a level acceptable to both the producers and consumers.

"It is in everyone's interest to regulate the prices of raw materials, not just oil, not just gas, but all raw materials," said Sarokozy.

Oil production tumbles faster than expected

Global oil production is falling faster than market expectations as production cuts by Opec members coincide with a sharp slide in supplies from some producers outside the cartel, raising the prospect of a price rise.

In spite of the drop in supplies, oil prices remain stuck in the mid-$40 a barrel range depressed by weak consumption and worries about the economic crisis. However, traders in the physical oil market said supplies were now beginning to drop into balance with falling demand.

Crude oil tankers, which a month ago were proving unsaleable because of the glut in the physical oil market, are selling relatively quickly as refiners look for supplies to replace the oil they are no longer being offered by Opec countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and even Venezuela.

OPEC-11 to Cut January Supply 5%, PetroLogistics Says

OPEC will cut supplies by about 5 percent this month as the group implements production constraints announced in December, according to preliminary estimates from consultant PetroLogistics Ltd.

Oil supply from 11 members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries subject to quotas will average 26.15 million barrels a day in January, down from 27.65 million barrels a day, Conrad Gerber, the founder of PetroLogistics, said today by telephone from Geneva. From this month, members have a production quota of 24.845 million barrels a day. Iraq has no quota.

'A lot of OPEC countries are cheating'

The problem with the OPEC countries is the compliance factor. A lot of them are cheating—like Venezuela, for example. They’ve increased their budget for 2009 by 22%, so they need $60 oil to break even. Now you have to ask yourself, are they going to be compliant? Probably not. They’re going to have to make up the decrease in oil price with volume. The one interesting fact is that they are increasing the supply to the large offshore tankers. They’re filling them up and they’re waiting. So there’s a lot of supply just sitting there and the market is aware of this.

It’s different than what Putin is claiming in Europe right now, where he can control compliance because he shuts off the taps for the pipeline. So there will be a difference; you will see large differentials in the European energy markets with the natural gas and Brent Crude prices—it’s never been this high of a differential. Even the natural gas in Europe is much more expensive than in North America. So that’s going to be a continuation of 2008, where we’re going to see downward pressure on the energy commodity prices.

Peru oil ambitions get a reality check

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Low oil prices are forcing Peru's government to reevaluate $2 billion it planned to invest in an oil refinery and new pipelines in the Amazon jungle, the country's oil minister said Thursday.

Suspending the pipeline project could put Peru's ambitions to become a net oil exporter on hold.

Uzbek leader quells Russian gas fears, secures deal

TASHKENT (Reuters) - Uzbekistan pledged on Friday to support a new trans-Russian gas pipeline, easing Moscow's fears it would succumb to European pressure to bypass Russia with its energy supplies and reduce its influence in the region.

Venezuela and Argentina sign cooperation accords

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- The presidents of Venezuela and Argentina signed a dozen agreements Thursday to cooperate in energy, industry and agriculture - including a joint venture to develop oil fields in eastern Venezuela.

'Sustainable' policies vowed at Transportation

WASHINGTON - Former congressman Ray LaHood said Wednesday one of his priorities as transportation secretary will be to make sure the money Congress sets aside for construction projects to stimulate the economy is wisely spent.

One of two Republicans President Barack Obama picked to serve in his Cabinet, LaHood also signaled the new administration sees transportation as key to its environmental agenda, telling a Senate panel that all areas of transportation from roads to rails must be "sustainable" to "acknowledge the new reality of climate change."

Lawmakers consider energy measures in stimulus

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday was set to approve energy measures included in Democrats' economic recovery package, even though a leading Republican criticized the bill as too narrow.

The $825 billion plan would spend about $25 billion on renewable energy, energy efficiency and electricity transmission.

The package would also promote the development of so called smart power grid technology to support alternative energy use, plug-in hybrid vehicles and boost energy efficiency.

American Electric Sees More Profit Growth in Lines Than Plants

(Bloomberg) -- American Electric Power Co., the top U.S. producer of electricity from coal, expects to rely more on power lines for profit growth after the worst recession in a quarter-century, Chief Executive Officer Michael Morris said.

Japan's TEPCO inches closer to nuclear plant restart

TOKYO (Reuters) - Tokyo Electric Power Co, Asia's largest utility, will finish setting up turbines at one of its quake-hit nuclear generators by early February, as it inches closer to restarting part of the world's biggest nuclear plant, its president said on Friday.

The indefinite shutdown of the plant has forced TEPCO to rely more on thermal power output, resulting in higher fossil fuel usage.

But TEPCO President Masataka Shimizu said the firm still could not give a schedule for the restart of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant, shut since a major earthquake in July 2007.

Brown-Forman Director Matthew Simmons to retire

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - (Business Wire) Brown-Forman announced today that Matthew R. Simmons is retiring from the company’s board of directors, effective at the conclusion of today’s board meeting. Simmons, who has been a director since 2002, is leaving to devote more time to his business, Simmons & Company International, a specialized energy investment banking firm. “I regret that my other responsibilities require me to leave the Brown-Forman board, but I depart knowing that the company is in the very capable hands of CEO Paul Varga, Presiding Board Chairman Garvin Brown, an outstanding board of directors, and the exceptional management team that works with them,” said Simmons.

Simmons is also the author of the noteworthy 2005 book, “Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy,” which stated that the world’s oil production was nearing, or already at, its apex, making him one of the world’s preeminent experts on the “peak oil” movement.

Ethanol Lawsuit Proceeds against Oil Companies

NAPLES, Fla. -- A Florida lawsuit against six oil companies that alleges negligence for failing to warn boat owners of potential harm from ethanol-blended gasoline, survived a motion to dismiss from the defendants, NaplesNews.com reported.

It's big, expanding and has a carbon footprint to match

A riddle. It's invisible but ubiquitous, and growing exponentially. Even as it provides the capacity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, its own carbon footprint is ever larger. It is the fuel of clouds and the stuff that races through fibre optic cables at the speed of light.

It is, of course, the internet, or more specifically, Information and Communication Technology (ICT). At institutions as diverse as Melbourne University, and its counterparts in the University of California (UC) system in San Diego and Irvine, it frames the next generation of virtual meetings, with instantaneous transmission of image and sound, from near or far.

Wood and dung fires feed Asia's brown cloud

LONDON (Reuters) - Wood and dung burned for home heating and cooking makes up most of a huge brown cloud of pollution that hangs over South Asia and the Indian Ocean during the winter months, researchers said on Thursday.

The study in the journal Science solves the mystery of what makes up the soot in the brown haze linked to hundreds of thousands of deaths -- mainly from lung and heart disease -- each year in the region, they said.

Health concerns as HK pollution levels rise

HONG KONG (AFP) – Thick smog enveloped Hong Kong again on Friday, as scientists and campaigners said recent pollution had reached levels ten times above annual World Health Organisation guidelines for clean air.

The heavy haze descended on the city, blocking views across the financial hub's famous Victoria Harbour and raising serious health concerns.

OPG sees 27% fall in coal emissions

Ontario Power Generation has devised a strategy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from its coal-fired generating stations by 27 per cent in 2009, but industry groups say the target makes little difference until restrictions are placed on U.S. coal-power imports.

Japan launches rocket with greenhouse-gas probe

TOKYO – The first satellite dedicated to monitoring carbon dioxide emissions was launched into space Friday from a center in Japan, where officials hope to gather information on climate change — and help the country compete in the lucrative satellite-launching business.

Sanyo, Nippon Oil to Produce Solar Cells

Sanyo Electric Co. and Nippon Oil Corp. said on Jan. 23 they would collaborate to produce thin-film solar cells for large-scale power generation. The 50-50 joint venture will spend roughly 20 billion yen (US$226 million) to build a factory in Japan that can annually produce enough solar cells to produce electricity worth 80 megawatts.

Launch green economic revolution now, says Stern

Never mind the downturn, a green economic revolution must be launched within months, one of the world's top economists has told New Scientist.

"You do hear voices saying now is not the moment," says Nicholas Stern, former head of the World Bank, in an exclusive interview. "Now is precisely the moment to make the change" to a low-carbon economy.

Also: Time for a green industrial revolution

If Sarkozy's proposal is accepted and acted upon then you will have established an asset with a universal fixed price. If you have an asset with a universal fixed price then all fiat currencies will take a valuation in respect of that fixed price asset.

In essence the world goes onto a new gold standard but it will be a "black gold" standard.

Re Sarkosy,s Idea is what ASPO and Colin Campbell have been proposing for years. execpt he goes further where each oil consumer nation would cut it oil use by an agreed amount equal to depletion rate each year. Thus preventing the position where we are getting into today because of depletion rates and lack of investment due to low prices which will cause a quicker drop in production

We are in a world where governments can't agree CO2 cuts, despite the impact of failure.

The approach outlined is one, very sane approach to oil prices and oil distribution. However it requires a degree of sanity that is missing from world markets or world governments. In short there is more chance that urgent and wide ranging peak oil preparations will occur than this approach would be implemented and stick.

Too many people thinking they are a special case; too much opportunity to skim and redirect for 'special considerations'.

Too little role for power and the power players.

I agree Its been hard to get two or more people to agree on anything (even if it benefits all concerned) since the beginning of time. Eve did eat the apple didn't she? As long as one person thinks they can get away with a little or a big upper hand over someone else we'll just keep spiralling down. However, I like the Idea of world regulations on such commodities as like oil. It just makes sense. But it would be hard to convince so many to take it out of a free trading market. It would also put a real foot into the door of a real world government overseeing at least in this case the regulation of oil. Different subject. Does this blog discuss investment potentials or strategies for the up coming rise in oil prices??? Or does anyone know where a person could go to discuss that topic???

Pierre Trudeau tried this in 1979 in Canada, and even today the phrase "National Energy Program" can start a fight in a tavern in Alberta (see Wikipedia). One obvious problem is trying to equate the different types of oil. If you fix the price for all oil, then conventional does well but oilsands and offshore, with their higher costs, will hurt unless they get an extra differential.

Whoa, Sarkozy is on fire again. Oil importers don't want to pay the market price, they want to fix the price themselves!

OMG, we are getting past the first innings of the Collapse. They are getting desperate.

Yes. Only whether the collapse is planned or not is the only question.

We can start with Henry Paulson himself and Goldman, who allegedly was shorting bonds they had packaged up and were selling to customers in the next room over!

How about GS blacklisting Madoff who they knew was running a Ponzi scheme (who knows how many other hedge funds doing the same they are aware of) and the top guy becomes the Treasury head and the USA government does absolutely nothing to inhibit the ongoing fraud.

My thesis is that Madoff has got some serious connections with TPTB. I am not a lawyer, but I can't comprehend, how you don't get in the jail immediately if you commit a fraud of 50 billion $. Had you stolen 50 bucks, you would go there for sure!

Maybe this rant sound populistic, but I just see it like that.

"How about GS blacklisting Madoff who they knew was running a Ponzi scheme"

Katz, the General Council of GS, in 1996, pushes SEC to allow the
Madoff exemption (DeepCapture for details).

No wonder zero US banks got burned. They wrote the Madoff Exemption Rule.

By this afternoon, with nothing approaching Glass Steagal Repeal
and return to 1990 bankruptcy laws, it's over.

Obama will be seen to be a Hollywood front man. And be reacting instead
of ahead of the curve.

Unless volume goes to near zero for US Gov't manipulation it's over by the close

MetLife has broken thru resistance. Why did GE rally 10% yesterday?

"Unless volume goes to near zero for US Gov't manipulation it's over by the close

Since your making bold predictions today, why not define exactly the meaning of "it's over"?

"Since your making bold predictions today, why not define exactly the meaning of "it's over"?"

Gladly and "predictions make fools of us all", but I will not stand by
and watch the fools march us over the cliff.

There is only one US party now. The Power Party and you have no
representation unless you have some.

The Federal Reserve, and Wall St.

And Warren Buffett.

As for His role models Lincoln, FDR, and JFK, O should realize that Lincoln and JFK were shot going against the Fed and the Military and that FDR left the Fed alone and got Depression until he joined with the Military and got Pearl Harbor and WWII.

Buffett Says the US Is in Midst of an ‘Economic Pearl Harbor’ - Jan 19, 2009 19 (Bloomberg) -- The US is facing an “economic Pearl Harbor” that has spread fear throughout the country, billionaire investor Warren Buffett told Tom ... Bloomberg

The day after the PPT loses control of the Markets, we get a Bank Holiday.

you won't enjoy it. Pensions get Argentined. Empire losses, but reinforcements
sent in.

Riots in the ghettoes. Any unfunded Fed Mandates will go unheeded w/o
military backup.

The US has had puppets for presidents for almost three decades now, at least. I'm still waiting to see any evidence that this is no longer the case.


People involved with the "new" administration or transition team included Sam Nunn, Lee Hamilton, Zbig, Gates, HRC... Not much new there

Colin Campbell's comment in the latest ASPO newsletter says it all, despite the blizzard of name calling on TOD, it is still true

Obama is good news for the wind power industry which GE is into big time. They also have nuke designs waiting to be used. They also make the world's best locomotives. It might be now said that what's good for GE is good for America and vice versa.

GE also has trillions in CDS/SIV's.

GE is up to it's neck in AFLAC, GMAC, Citi deleverage/ mark to market toxic/fraud issues.

Exact case where a cram down is needed down to GE's death's door,
eliminate all investors' claims. Sorry
and enlarge all your above subjects.

And now look at DC and tell me the odds of that happening.

"In essence the world goes onto a new gold standard but it will be a "black gold" standard."

IMO that would require an audit of reserves. Impossible?

Couldn't the Saudi's pretty much implement this unilaterally? KSA could say tomorrow that their oil is available to anyone who wants it at a price of $75. Everyone would buy other oil first, but somebody would take some of it eventually. Over time, they would have a good idea how much would be taken, and adjust production accordingly. They would need lots of storage at first, however.

KSA has plenty of storage - they just open and shut the valves on the wells themselves. Probably loads a little slow that way, but ....

Sarconol off.

They have plenty of storage, and they do use it. Like when the US invaded Iraq to stop the Iraq invasion of Kuwait. They were able to meet the demand and then ramp up production.

Obama's strong dollar policy may be for real

"This time around the administration probably means it when it says it backs a strong dollar. They have to be dead serious about it," said Samarjit Shankar, a director for global strategy at the Bank of New York Mellon, in Boston.

"Trillions worth of U.S. debt is coming soon to the markets. Which foreign central bank or institution will buy this debt if they are not fully convinced the dollar will remain strong?" he added.

How are they going to strengthen the dollar when they're printing money like there's no tomorrow?

Counting on this, maybe:

"We are always worried foreigners could ditch the dollar. But they have no incentive to do that," he added. "The amount they own is so large that they can't get out of it without impacting their own currencies and economies in the process. And that includes China."

This makes Obamas economic appointments a little more understandable.
We see some of his influences. Voters walk, money talks.
These are some big foortunes to protect and these are only the visible ones.

But Geithner is talking out of both sides of his mouth.

At the very same time he is calling for a strong dollar, he is chastising China for keeping the RMB too cheap and the dollar too strong (see my comment below).

So which Geitherner is to be believed? The Geithner behind door number 1? Or the Geithner behind door number 2?

Every single country/area except Iceland wants to weaken its currency.

The Strong dollar headline could just as easily read-"Obama and Geithner in favor of increased risk of default on USA debt" because that is exactly what an actual strong dollar policy entails. Eventually, it is devalue the currency or default on the debt, because there isn't enough tax revenue to do neither.

Maybe they just say so to cover their acting otherwise. Can't believe a thing these bastards say and it's not worth trying to parse it. Does that mean Obama is lying through his teeth and will be better than he says? Not worth trying to parse it. Who Obama appoints tells us enough.

cfm in Gray, ME

Really you could argue that an inflationary posture IS in fact defaulting on the debt by another means.

The most reasonable position for Obama to take, given this MAD stand-off, is for China (and Japan) to voluntarily forgive a massive block of US debt, thereby maintaining the relationship. This would kick the can another decade down the road, and give time for China to stabilize its population and Japan to muddle through another decade.

It would buy us time to replace oil with other energy sources, which is going to be key for when the dollar devalues. We could exist as an export-import balanced nation, but not as an export-product/import-oil nation post-Peak. Of course our current mode, import-product/import-oil, is completely unsustainable.

I suspect, though, that either China will balk on bonds or we'll inflate much sooner (say, a couple of years), and we'll be stuck in a crushing oil price vice.

"It is because of what Comptroller General David Walker said, that after 2009, the ability of the United States to continue to service its debt becomes questionable. Although the average citizen may not understand what that means, when the United States can no longer service its debt it collapses as an economic entity. We would be an economically collapsed state."


What is our debt service? About 2% - 2.5% of GDP?

Walker's a loon.

I recently stuck my foot in my mouth on a drumbeat by giving some figures for US debt service related to Income Taxes collected.

I actually emailed Ellen Brown and asked her for some clarification. The following is what she reponded in regards to US Debt service:

Note: I added some clarifications that are contained in brackets []. These are not part of Ellen's original quote but added after the fact to make things more understandable.

Hi, it's [debt service] about $500 billion, but I'm not sure what the total income tax revenue is now. It [tax revenue] was over $900 billion when I first published Web of Debt, and debt service was about a third of that [$300 billion]. Best wishes, Ellen

Hope this helps to give you perspective that you're looking for.


If your long standing customer refuses to pay his giant bar tab, does it make sense to rip it up so that you can continue to sell him more booze? Only if your strategy is geopolitical, not economic. If China doesn't get payment for the goods already delivered, they aren't getting any payment down the road either. This reasonable position is like labelling the USA as a dependent ward of China.

If your intent is to keep your employees busy more than make a profit, which seems to be the position of China's gov't, it could make sense for a while. It's unsustainable of course, since they're essentially giving much product away for free, but that's the price to pay for China to keep their gov't structure intact (and maybe ours too!) with a low yen and a strong dollar.

Yes, you would be correct about the "dependent ward' aspect, except I think of it more like tribute. With the trade imbalance, SA is giving us oil for free, Japan is giving us cars for free, and China is giving us everything else for free, just nobody says that out loud.

This gets back to my point that all new investment and debt needs to focus on producing domestic energy cheaply and/or using less of it. Eventually the game will end, and we'll need to survive as a peer instead of a hegemonic lord, which means trading at par for what we need from the world.

Geithner sucks big-time. His appointment and confirmation show who is calling the shots for Obama, whether Obama likes it or not.

Geithner's little tax problem, and the way it is being handled by Congress shows who and what matters.

If you are working class and you make an honest mistake on taxes, the government will kick your butt big time, make your life miserable.

If you are wealthy and powerful and hobnob with wealthy and powerful people, you can cheat on your taxes and a Congressional Committee will handle you if kid gloves -- "Oh, we understand how such a busy guy could make a simple mistake and avoid paying thousands of dollars of taxes owed....no problem, pal -- easy to do..."

Geithner and pals pull numbers out of their butts at convenient times and places and tailor economic disinformation to fit plans for corrupt crony corporatists to commit obscene economic crimes. Of course, people who have to work for a living are squeezed to make up the difference between reality and the fantasies these guys spin.

Unfortunately, the Earth's Economic Household holds them and us accountable for their crimes.

Meanwhile, we just wonder who bought the government lunch or dinner today? Policy will benefit whoever did.

Real change is coming, but not this way -- not positive change, anyway.

They are printing, but to no avail, banks aren't lending.

I have all my cash in euros and I lost quite a bit in the last year against dollar (even more against yen). Of course, its better to have euros than pounds or icelandic krona, but the problem is, you can never know, which currency is going to crack tommorow. And euro has some serious challenges.

PS. They are counting on China for several years now. There will be one day, when China will step back. They changed their strategy lately (they bought short term treasuries, and sold a bit of long term treasuries). Sorry, no link.

Here's a link:

China Moves to Shorter Maturity Treasuries Out of Bond


Thanks, that's exactly what I was reading but I forgot where. Geez, I need weekend badly ;)

"The Economic Pearl Harbor
The Alarm Bells have been Sounded"
by Matthias Chang


"On January 18, 2009, the Associated Press reported that in an interview aired on “Dateline NBC” the Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., Warren Buffett said that the “US is engaged in an economic Pearl Harbor.”

"If the United States is engaged in an economic Pearl Harbor, it follows that there must be an enemy. Who is this enemy?"

As Pogo said. . . .

Economic mumbo-jumbo. Warren miscalculated the extent of the mortgage meltdown.

The Keynesian pump priming theory, whereby the government spends a little money into the economy to get it flowing does not work if the pump is broken. You cannot jump start a car with a bad alternator and expect to keep it running.

Funding industries that habitually fail to compete and succeed may have set a bad precedent. The subsidies and quotas for ethanol that may not be able to stand on its own as a fuel of first choice for the consumer is one example. Funding an insurance company that should have been shut down is misuse of public funds. To insure deposits in banks is the extent of the legal commitment of the Federal government to the financial industry. Promising hundreds of billions of dollars to executives who did not have a clue that the real estate they were using as collateral for loans was grossly overvalued is a bad mistake.

Chronic tax cuts with rapidly increased government spending is a ponzi schemes.

Canadian Dollars....it's very closely tied to the USD, but it's a petro-dollar. I think long run it has strength that both the Euro and USD doesn't have.

The U.S.A. is the "Alpha" Dog. The Alpha Dog with the Alpha Military. The Alpha Dog borrows in its Own Currency. It can't lose (until it's defeated.)

Canada is just a cold place to live.

Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) is alive and well!

Jeff Rubin is not a believer.

U.S. bailout package will spark inflation and shift the burden to foreign investors: CIBC World Markets

To pay for its multi-trillion dollar bailout and stimulus packages, the Obama administration will print money at an unprecedented rate, a course that will drive up inflation and drive down the greenback while shifting a large part of the financial burden onto foreign investors, finds a new report from CIBC World Markets.

The report predicts that like Argentina in the late 1980s and Zimbabwe today, the U.S. government will simply create more money to fund its plans. "If the central bank prints it, someone will spend it," says Jeff Rubin, chief economist and chief strategist at CIBC World Markets. "Already U.S. money supply is growing at a nearly 20 per cent rate in the last three months and the printing presses are just warming up. And there's no shortage of more troubled assets to monetize along with $1.5 trillion-plus federal deficits to keep money supply growth chugging along in the future.

"We are always worried foreigners could ditch the dollar. But they have no incentive to do that," he added. "The amount they own is so large that they can't get out of it without impacting their own currencies and economies in the process. And that includes China."

So the US is Too Big To Fail.

Now where have we heard that logic before?

Re: 'Sustainable' policies vowed at Transportation

One wonders exactly what the former congressman means when he says that now rather meaningless word "Sustainable".

I went to a meeting last night put on by a local political type. The focus was supposed to be renewable energy, but in the discussion it became clear that the real goal was: "How can we get some of that Federal stimulus money to provide jobs (and income) for the county?"

E. Swanson

Mr. Swanson - I commend you going to your local community meeting. Of course there are a lot of people both in and out of government who don't have a clue what Sustainable means.

With small local municipalities strapped for cash they will no doubt be focused on the immediate problem of "How can we get some of that Federal stimulus money..." But during the difficult times ahead with falling revenues and joblessness increasing perhaps this is an opportunity to remake how we structure our local economies and use energy.

Community leaders need to visit or be looking at local municipalities that can provide models of resilience such as Portland, OR and Palo Alto, CA. These are only two that come to mind but I'm certain that there are hundreds more across the fabric of the U.S.

Probably the fastest way to gear up local communities is to rehabilitate our existing homes and buildings through insulation and retrofitting energy efficiency. This is relatively low tech and it puts a lot of people to work Right Now! which is what we need. We need people (like yourself) with insight to begin to direct our community leaders away from further boondoggles such as bridge and road programs.

The easiest thing to do is to throw our hands up and walk away in disgust. I think that's what we used to call a Copout.


Or, how about any little community in Iowa? You know? The State with the 3.2% unemployment rate.

I'm almost afraid to "out" our county's Emergency Preparedness manager. He did all the Homeland Security required courses, made the county emerg. handbook, etc... as required by law. But he's working on community food security, ideas about creating a local butchering coop, getting garden plots in people yards, food preservation education, etc... What a gem. The 5,000 people under his "emergency management" will have more than biohazard suits if/when TSHTF. We are lucky!


What allowed him to such a job, connections or what ?

I'm job hunting from Lincoln NE, and since I lived in Des Moines once before ('95-'03), I am searching for jobs there.


Don't know if you'll come back here to check. I think every county is required to have some emergency preparedness work done- ala Homeland Security. Go and check with your local county to find out who is in charge of that and talk to them. Our guy was hired to write the manuals for 2 counties in our very rural, very low population area. Thankfully, the county found him some additional work (like some maintenance stuff) and he stayed on full time.

Good luck!

Inside the beltway, "sustainable" means that the program is locked into law and so protected by special interests that nothing less than a nuclear bomb or asteroid strike will get rid of it.

Here's a little gift from the folks at FEMA....


Something to do in your spare time......regarding nukes or asteroids.

Power Down.

"oil prices remain stuck in the mid-$40"

Funny peculiar and funny ha-ha that a few years ago $40 was considered a boom time, not a time for despair. $40 oil is hurting the Alberta oilsands badly but the junior petes here who drill for conventional oil out of their own cash flow are doing okay.

The psychology of commodity prices is a relative thing. After $147 oil, it is difficult to have to trade in that leased BMW and buy an older-model Honda Civic.

If oil prices average $50 in 2009, they would have increased at an overall annual rate of +12%/year in the 11 years from 1998 to 2009 (from $14 to $50), with two down years, 2001 and 2009 (the 2009 decline rate would be -69%/year), but consider the impact of a combination of voluntary + involuntary reductions in net oil exports (plus ongoing production declines in post-peak importing countries like the US).

Our middle case is that the top five net oil exporters have about 90 Gb in remaining cumulative net oil exports, but let's round off to 100 Gb. If we assume a current net export rate of 20 mbpd by the top five, they are shipping a billion barrels of oil every 50 days (20 mbpd X 50 days = one Gb). One Gb divided by 100 Gb = one percent every 50 days.

And we just had the pronouncement from CNBC, which broadcasts from an alternative universe where we can have an infinite rate of increase in our consumption of finite fossil fuel resources: "The Obama Administration has to find a way to boost US demand for autos to 12 million vehicles per year."

So 5000 days, if at this pace, before the last exported oil is shipped. That's a little over 13 years. Of course as you point out all the time, net exports dwindle exponentially.

Technically, an exponential net export decline rate would be good news; the model and recent case histories show an accelerating decline rate.

Because the net export volumes are so large around the peak, the bulk of the net exports are shipped in the early years of the decline. In the case of the top five, our middle case is that they approach zero net exports in 26 years from their 2005 peak (again, from mature basins). At the halfway point, in 2018 (about 10 years away), our middle case is that they will have already shipped about 80% of their post-2005 cumulative net oil exports.

Technically, an exponential net export decline rate would be good news

Yes, it would, lets say it is 10 per year, that means after ten years we still have 40% as much, after twenty 16%. An exponential decline never goes all th way to zero. But it would require that every year we learn to live with 10% less than the year before. But, ELM doesn't support that. A modified ELM, whereby the ratio of exports to internal consumption stays more or less fixed (with the export revenue needed to maintain the internal consumption), might. Of course we don't have any way to force the exporters to choose model B over model A.

NAPLES, Fla. -- A Florida lawsuit against six oil companies that alleges negligence for failing to warn boat owners of potential harm from ethanol-blended gasoline, survived a motion to dismiss from the defendants, NaplesNews.com reported.

Our legal system never ceases to amaze me. This was forced upon oil companies, and now they are being sued for it? Priceless.

Well, since our government policy, with the urging of the ethanolies, has failed us and has resulted in harm (allegedly), I'd say the legal system is working quite well. However, expect the next piece of legislation to be like the Price Anderson Act -- to hold refiners harmless or to establish a limit on legal liability. This will probably be another candidate for some kind of bailout.

Actually, that makes perfectly good sense. The whole point of having gov't standardized codes and rules is to smooth the legal playing field enough that the nation is a homogeneous market and prices for commodity products can be driven down.

The bailout comes when the rules are poorly written and the consumers require support. I suspect we'll see a quiet "Madoff Bailout" before too long, once clawbacks fail, since the gov't specifically exempted Madoff from rules and essentially created its niche.

Well, since our government policy, with the urging of the ethanolies, has failed us and has resulted in harm (allegedly),

Especially if you're in the Oil Bidness, as many of the Oil Drummers are.

Robert - deja vu all over again. Same thing as the MMBT (?) that it replaced.

I immediately thought of MTBE when I read this. Hey, I have no problem with allowing a lawsuit, just let them sue the lawmakers who didn't order enough studies done before they forced this upon everyone.

Anything that sounds like "methyl tertiary butyl ether" can't be good. Simple things like "dihydrogen monoxide" are much better. Seriously though, the idea of an "oxygenate" is total bullshit these days...you can't trick the computer controlled cars into running leaner - they compensate.

Yeah, except, of course, that MTBE is deadly poisonous. Oh, well.


I have a few biases that I will state up front:

1. The current economic downturn is a profound global event. Over the next months (if not years) we will see a significant contraction of fossil fuel demand.

2. Our fossil fuel situation has evolved to the point where exploration and development are necessary to keep fossil fuel supply from contract 5%-10% per annum.

3. Lack of demand and lack of available capital (due to debt delevering) means certain lack of exploration and development.

4. Lack of development and reduced consumption means less greenhouse gas emission for sure.

5. Greenhouse gasses warm, but only in the presence of thermal input. Historically global temperatures and CO2 concentrations have vacillated wildly. AGW is utterly real but not the only actor on the stage.

Given these considerations I wonder if TOD shouldn't change its focus a bit.

1. For peak oil, it is increasingly looking as if economics and finance are equally important as geology. In fact, the peak is probably already past. We need to talk about how the decline will manifest, including economic manifestation. Get finance back on TOD. We don't exclude agriculture as a separate albeit related topic.

2. Make an editorial effort to create space for a variety of climate views. There are many climate forcings, AGW is a function of fossil fuels and could slow, and the consequences of a cooling climate in a post peak world are profoundly signficant. Rather than argue if warming or cooling is happening, let's discuss how events could interact with BOTH of those scenarios.

1. We don't exclude finance. Nate and Gail write about finance, among others.

2. Probably not going to happen. We've decided that climate change is not our bailiwick. (Except for things like whether there's enough oil remaining to cause the kind of CO2 rise the climatologists are predicting.)

Thank you...

Let the people who hold the following views create their own web site:

  • germ theory denialists
  • climate change denialists
  • peak oil denialists
  • round-earth denialists
  • housing bubble denialists

This site is doing great, in my view.

I think all of the above already exist, sadly.
However gate keeping can stiffle good debate so in general is not a good idea. When we hold discussions in a restaurant occasionally the drunk at the next table will ahve somthing to say and all we can do is be patient.
Rational arguments we disagree with should be met by rational counter arguments.
Opinion should be identified as such and generally speaking needs no more than an "I disagree".
Spam and propaganda, when clearly recognized can be deleted and I think this is already happening here effectively.
But if we only let the choir into the church we wont make many converts.
Best hopes for the rabble in the back pew.

I don't think we'd make any converts, anyway, with regard to the climate change issue. That is a big reason we've decided it's not our bailiwick.

Climate change is not like peak oil. There are a lot of brilliant scientists working on the climate change problem, and a lot of money funding both sides of the debate. Maybe James Hansen is wrong, maybe he's right, but The Oil Drum won't be the one to prove it, either way. This will be settled by the scientists who have devoted their careers to the climatology field, and that is how it should be.

Peak oil is a different animal. There are no scientists specializing in peakoil-ology, not much funding, not much awareness. It's an area where amateurs can still make a difference. That is not the case with climatology.

I was going to give this a new comment, but figured it is better placed here.

I was really surprised to see TOD linked so prominently on the Yahoo News Oil and Gas page. Wow. When did this start, sure a sea change from a year ago. I hope it's more than a day link. Congratulations!


It's been there for awhile. Though sometimes I only see it if I'm logged into my Yahoo account. They must be tracking my wanderings on the web.

"Maybe James Hansen is wrong, maybe he's right, but The Oil Drum won't be the one to prove it, either way. This will be settled by the scientists who have devoted their careers to the climatology field, and that is how it should be."

Actually it will be the climate that settles it. Scientists will just measure and graph it and argue about why it is or is not happening.

If you accept that climate is a problem then near term PO is the hard left hook and long term, climate change is the right cross, or as Jesse Stuart would say, the "Haymaker."

Generally I agree that stifling debate is not desirable. However, there comes a time when debate should stop and action should take its place, in my view. Each person draws this line where they see fit.

I might listen politely to someone who says the earth is flat, but I will certainly not debate him. That is a waste of energy and I have other things on which I want to spend my time.

Such is the place I've come to with the other items I listed.

Further, debate doesn't change people's mind because it's a process that isn't suited to doing what actually needs to be done, which is removing what's in the way for people to see a thing clearly.

Instead, most debate is two sides with their heals dug in attempting to prove their view is right and the other view is wrong. Each side leaves more convinced of the rightness of their "position" — and that's exactly what each side has become positional (not to be budged). So debate sets things in place, when what's needed is for ideas that get in the way to be dislodged.

Minor re-direct: Agreed, debate doesn't have any effect on positions of the debaters. However, the audience is a different issue.

True, listening to a debate can be very edifying.


Since suggestions have been put forward in regards to this site's focus I just thought I would throw my own 2 cents. I wouldn’t change anything already in place & I think the TOD Campfire is a welcome addition. However one thing I think that is missing is a daily thread dedicated only to oil/natural gas production & decline (with strict moderation to limit digressions from the main topic). I know we have oil watch monthly, but that’s a long time to wait & it can be quite an undertaking to trawl through all the drumbeat posts for production/ decline related info (as entertaining as the other subject threads are). Just a thought I know you guys must have a hard time dealing with the work load as it is but I felt compelled to throw the idea out there to see if there are any other TODers in agreement.



There must be climate discussion sites/blogspots somewhere on the web.

Were you born Ignorant, or did you get that way on purpose?

Look at the left side of the TOD main page for one climate site:


(possible excess sarcanol ingestion mixed with irony noted)

E. Swanson

"AGW is a function of fossil fuels and could slow"

Yeah, with a 30 year time-lag.

Is Chimerica coming apart at the seams?

It appears the stress is builing. Or could it all be just posturing?:

Geithner Hints at Harder Line on China Trade

The statement, which is certain to anger the Chinese government, comes at a particularly sensitive time, with economies in both the United States and China weakening and tensions already rising around the globe over trade. The United States, moreover, is increasingly dependent on China to finance its ballooning deficit...

The objective would be to persuade China to let the value of its currency, the yuan, freely float — a move that would let its value rise...



China notes U.S. yuan charge, to hold anger in check

China will make clear its displeasure at U.S. accusations of currency manipulation but hold its anger in check in the belief that President Barack Obama is simply posturing, Chinese analysts said on Friday.


Niall Ferguson in this segment of the Ascent of Money helps frame the issue and put it in perspective:


Economic Armageddon? War? The consequences of Chimerica coming apart could be devastating.

I don't think anyone really gives a crap about what China thinks these days. They are the seller in a buyers market.

And I know this is a simplistic dumbass response, but if China would rather, we could stop buying $2B of their crap each day and they could stop buying $2B of our worthless treasuries. As for what we owe them, I think a Fedex Express Pack full of newly printed Billion Dollar Bills ought to just about cover it.

The person who owes the money always holds the power.

Maybe, after being exposed as a tax cheat, he just wants a few populist votes for his confirmation.

Today, I read (The Energy Bulletin) Dimitry Orlov's


and it reminded of all the denial I run into on any energy issues. I guess this means that most people live in their own dreams. Day of the Living Sleepers. ARGHHHHhhh!

I feel lonely. Nobody to talk to.


Thank Goodness for TOD.


I'm sure that feeling is familiar to many of us. Thanks for TOD indeed.


But ...


Failing to understand the process of denial, its foundation and multiple causes and interactions, means we all will continue to be stumped by the ineffectiveness of the interaction between Us and Them.

So ...

What is denial, where does it come from, and what is to be done about it?

I believe Nate has written keyposts in the past (a trio in April-June 2007) that have covered some aspects of this. I have found Robert Wright's The Moral Animal to be a great help in understanding how denial is a functional adaptation for social functioning.

What is to be done about it? Paging Greyzone...

Found Nate's posts:

Peak Oil - Whom to Believe? Part One - "There's Plenty of Oil, CERAiously"

"Peak Oil" - Why Smart Folks Disagree - Part II

Why We Disagree on Peak Oil and Climate Change: Part III - Our Belief Systems

Living for the Moment while Devaluing the Future

What is denial, where does it come from, and what is to be done about it?

I'l take a stab at that assuming it is a real question.

There is a branch of psychiatry dealing with substance abuse rehabilitation, and one of its more successful developments is "motivational interviewing". This is based on the theory of behavior change. You will find much detail at www.motivationalinterviewing.org.
In summary, the idea is that people tend to sit on the fence when it comes to behavior change. They know it would be good for them, but they resist change. Any argument that they should change ("you know smoking is bad for you") elicits a counter-reaction ("I don't really smoke that much"). So the solution is to ask questions, as non-judgmental as possible, and sit back as people talk themselves into behavior change. An example would be:

"Isn't it great that gas prices are down? Don't you feel better filling your car these days?" It would be amazing if the person diid not come back with their concerns about how the price is unstable, or how they have heard the supply may be dwindling, etc, etc... The job then is to stay in a listening stance, such that for example a person from another planet with no axe to grind would maintain. At no point is it useful to exhort, instruct, give advice, etc... etc..., unless one has explicit permission to do this.

Which I assumed from 710's line quoted above.

It was a real question, and thank you for giving a real answer. A process to deal with denial. Who would have thought such a thing existed?

Now we can get to understanding this process and mastering it as a tool in our arsenal. If you do not understand the process of skill mastery, I highly recommend George Leonard's book, "Mastery".

So this was an excellent start, thank you for being Paranoid.

As I look for Nate's posts from 2007, I still ask the TOD readership, what other research, analysis, or coping processes exist regarding denial?

As this is a common problem that we all face continually, which trips us up in our endeavors and obfuscates reality, we need to understand what is it, where does it come from, and most importantly what else can be done about denial?

The Socratic Method was probably the first formalized method to deal with denial and motivational interviewing seems to be a more refined version of it.

And there is the discipline of contextual transformation, or just transformation for short, which is the process of identifying and modifying the context in which one is operating. This is very different from what most disciplines deal with which is almost always about the content (more data, more experiments, etc.).

Altering the context is very powerful because it can make things visible that are completely hidden from one's view. To use a physical example, a black dot on a black background is invisible to the perceiver. However, change the black background to white and the dot is now visible.

The same can be done with ideas since they are just pattens, fundamentally no different to the mind than the dot example.

Everyone has experienced a contextual transformation when they have had an "a-ha" moment. Suddenly something that was hidden became visible. You'll often hear scientists say, "Everything was there for me to see, but for years I was looking at it the wrong way..." The content didn't change, but the context in which they viewed the content changed.

This is also called "breakthrough thinking" in the literature because it is by switching the context that most breakthroughs occur.

For denialists, there is a context that they can't see that is "running the the show," so to speak. That's why argument and debate doesn't work with them. It's not addressing the context so they can't see what there is to see.

Another great addition, thank you, aangel.

I remember that a derivation of the Socratic Method, the Maieutic Method, was used in the character conversation in Daniel Quinn's, "Ishmael", a very influential book.

What other resources are there out there? Has anyone read Robert Cialdini's "Influence: Science and Practice"?

According to Daniel Yankelovich, denial is an almost ubiquitous defense mechanism that poses major obstacles to sound judgment-making.

He says the process we use for imparting information in the U.S. does not facilitate the "working through" process, getting past denial being an important part of that process. We use what he calls "the Culture of Technical Control," an information-driven model that leads to...

...a concept of public education as a one-way process: the expert speaks; the citizen listens. Questions may arise about the best technique for grabbing the public's attention and conveying the relevant information. But conceptually, the model is simple and unidirectional: the expert's role is to impart information to the public skillfully and effectively; the citizen's role is to absorb the information and form an opinion based on it.

--Daniel Yankelovich, Coming to Public Judgment

The Culture of Technical Control assumes:

•that policy decisions depend essentially on a high degree of specialized knowledge and skills;

•that only experts possess this knowledge;

•that the American people lack the relevant knowledge, are concerned largely with their own pocketbook interests, and are likely to be apathetic to issues not directly related to these interests;

•that where the public does have a view it is accurately reflected in public opinion polls;

•that America's elected officials know what the views of the electorate are and, by and large, represent them well;

•that on issues where public understanding and support are mandatory, they can be achieved through "public education" where experts who are knowledgeable share some of their information with the voters;

•that the media, through vigorous consciousness raising, impart to the American public the information and understanding it needs to develop respnsible judgments on the key issues facing the nation.

--Daniel Yankelovich, Coming to Public Judgment

Yankelovich goes on to comment that:

In recent years my work has made me concious of the enormity of the gap that separates the public from the experts. As an interpreter of public opinion, I serve as a go-between for the two worlds of public opinion and expert policy making. Each year the distance between the two worlds grows greater...

[The experts']knowledge and interests are specialized. Their day-to-day contact with the general public is meager. They belong to distinct subcultures, each with its own outlook. Often they are graduates of elite colleges and universities, which indoctrinates them with a noneradicable feeling of superiority to the general public. Without questioning the depth of their attachment to democracy, in their personal lives many have adopted the outlook of a social ruling class...

They assume that they have much of value to communicate to the public, without imagining that the public has much of value to impart to them.

--Daniel Yankelovich, Coming to Public Judgment>

Sounds kind of like the antithesis of "motivational interviewing," no?

More worthy insights, DownSouth, appreciated. But this time they are group-based, rather than individual-based. Very large group-based.

It isn't so much that it's the antithesis of motivational interviewing, it sounds like MI is an antidote to the culture of technical control. The interviewing process is more bi-directional, counteracting the unidirectional flaw of technical control.

Yankelovich, however, is looking at the problem from the top down, while the confounding issues which define denial are built from the bottom-up.

Who said:"Any sufficiently advanced technology is, to the average person, indistinguishable from magic"?

It seems that can easily be extended to the average elected official and the sufficiently advanced policy matter.

Arthur C. Clarke

My own opinion is that people come to Peak Oil either from a place where they can accept it or not. What makes people accept it is a combination of personality type, experiences, education, likes and dislikes. For my own part, I came preset with a dislike for modern culture and free-market capitalism - it wasn't hard to convince me that our current ways of doing things would lead to disaster via peak oil. You have folks like Kunstler who hated suburbia, stumble upon Peak Oil and sure, it makes perfect sense!

I believe most of us, not being fully rational beings, come to something like Peak Oil via a state of mind we already exist in, and Peak Oil just "fits" with us. For others, it's a long hard slog of continually beating one's head against the wall until either one finally believes, yes, there's really a wall there, or they think they've conquered that wall. Such a process takes years, however.

Your opinion holds water, speek, and this breaks down the problem very well. Personality (INTP/INFP here), experience, understanding/context, and emotional states all contribute to guiding the path toward levels of acceptance and denial.

Great insight. I also have hated the way people adopted all sorts of technology without consideration of possible consequences on environment and health of planet, our bodies, animals, etc.. Peak Oil was something I instantly accepted the moment I discovered it 4 years ago when I read a book review of David Goodstein's book "Out of Gas" in the newspaper.

But family members I tried to explain things to are only now starting to wake up (as they watch their finances go south).(Not surprisingly they love cars.) I have been able to say "I told you so" many times now. I say it every chance I get. I don't spare their feelings because they didn't spare mine when I started warning them 4 years ago. But I keep it all separate from other things we talk about, not too personal.

What is denial, where does it come from, and what is to be done about it?

This is a pretty good definition IMHO.

Denialism is the employment of rhetorical tactics to give the appearance of argument or legitimate debate, when in actuality there is none. These false arguments are used when one has few or no facts to support one's viewpoint against a scientific consensus or against overwhelming evidence to the contrary. They are effective in distracting from actual useful debate using emotionally appealing, but ultimately empty and illogical assertions.


Granted that is really a definition of denialism and that isn't quite the same thing.
True denial is more of an emotional response a temporary coping mechanism when faced with overwhelming loss, such a death in the family or loss of a job. It usually dissapates with time and then reality and survival mechanisms kick in. Denial is understandable, Denialism is either the product of ignorance, peer pressure or the active pursuit of an agenda usually for financial gain.

Could it be that a "denialist" is just someone who doesn't believe the same nonsense as you?



Well, in order to deny there must be some kind of disconnect in agreement. So good job, I think that's on track. And if everything were nonsense or opinion, it would also be a fair assessment.

But maybe Pythagoras was on to something when he said, "All is number."

No, a denialist is someone who tries to provide arguments from ignorance for why something that is accepted as fact by the experts can not be so. For example a flat earther is someone who argues against the well established fact that the earth is an oblate spheroid.

Such a person may indeed be 100% convinced that that facts are nonsense and that the people who say it is a spheroid are saying so because of their belief system which the denier holds to be of equal weight to his own belief system.

However the denier is flat out fractally wrong because the spheroid earth theory, (theory in a scientific sense)is not based on a belief system at all, it is based on empirical evidence.



climatologists who are active in research showed the strongest consensus on the causes of global warming, with 97 percent agreeing humans play a role.


I was lunching with a professor of Economics recently. He was chairing the search committee for a new Energy Economics positions. I asked him about peak oil-- he had never heard of it. Just shook his head "no" as I explained peak oil.

VFH, that is the saddest thing I have heard in a while. The guy hiring Energy Economics profs hasn't heard of Peak Oil?

Krugman has a not-to-be-missed column this morning in the NY Times, if for no other reason than this quote by John Maynard Keynes that he includes:

“The resources of nature and men’s devices,” Keynes wrote, “are just as fertile and productive as they were. The rate of our progress towards solving the material problems of life is not less rapid. We are as capable as before of affording for everyone a high standard of life. ... But today we have involved ourselves in a colossal muddle, having blundered in the control of a delicate machine, the working of which we do not understand.”


Krugman is a big advocate of Keynesian stimulus. But I'm not so sure it will work (but for reasons very different than those posited by the adherents of the Austrian School). My reasons:

(1) I question the underlying assumption that the "resources of nature...are just as fertile and productive as they were."

(2) When Keynes made his prognostications, the United States had excess production and falling consumption. Today we have falling production and excess consumption.

All Krugman discusses is the short term i.e. firefighting plans. His economic ideas revolve around spinning plates on a stick-catch the one falling and keep it spinning. The USA economy cannot repay the current levels of debt, so why not double down to get over this rough patch. You could make a logical argument for rail, wind,solar and nuclear but the rest of the spending will just make things worse down the road-somebody will have to pay for the party cleanup. If the money spent now doesn't generate future income, it can't be repaid.

With regards to the French president’s thoughts on establishing a pricing platform for oil I’ll offer an oil industry view of such a proposal. IMO the industry would support such a measure and do so at a price lower then most might guess. First, a quick update on the current exploration process: oil and NG have never been as easy to find as it is today. It is true that there are fewer areas to explore and smaller potential fields, in general, left to find. But today’s technology can identify even small potential prospects in difficult environments (Deep Water, Arctic Ocean, great drilling depths). There will always be risks and failures. But such risks are generally identifiable and are thus factored into the process. Beyond geological risk, the single largest factor determining whether a prospect is drilled is pricing uncertainty. Once the reserve potential, costs and risks have been quantified a future price model is applied to determine viability. Even during high price periods as we saw last summer most companies were using an initial price forecast of $60 to $80 per barrel. And many actually used about a 10% lower price for years 2 and 3 with a slight escalation there after. Past unrealized price expectations keep the industry from ever being too optimistic in the long term.

To be effective in the effort to stabilize the process a guaranteed pricing platform would have to run at least 6 to 10 years. While this would allow increased exploration the biggest benefit would likely come from secondary recovery from existing fields. Such potential is typically already identified and companies are just waiting for a sufficient pricing environment to begin the process. Granted that whatever might be gained from such a predictable pricing protocol, PO will still continue to be in our future. But establishing a less volatile price/supply future will make the transition more palatable. The benefit to developing alternatives is obvious. A predictable future of increasing prices will allow confidence to invest in the very expensive process of weaning ourselves off of FF.

This is a very interesting thread. But it’s obviously clear to me that such an effort will never happen. The politics alone condemn any chance of success. Regardless of the proposed price platform one side will argue just as vehemently that it’s too much while the other side will argue it’s too low to be effective. Despite the Communist failure with price controls, I feel they can work if they are designed properly. But there is a better chance of convincing Al Gore we’re heading into another glacial age, IMO, then getting all the separate multination components to develop any sort of consensus. It would probably take several years to even organize the initial meeting of TPTB. And that first meeting might lead to global nuclear war. Or at least a good fist fight or shoe flinging.

I just bought the book Bless the Pure & Humble: Texas Lawyers and Oil Regulation, 1919-1936 but haven't gotten around to reading it yet.

I believe, however, that the scheme you propose is essentially the same one that came about during that era and lasted until the 1970s, when the U.S. reached peak oil.

What you propose is eminently logical, but alas, as you point out, probably politically impossible.

bless the pure and the humble...... and dont forget the texas company.

I'll have to check that book out DS...thanks. I suspect what you're referring to was the power the Texas Rail Road Commission (they regulate oil/NG production in the state) exerted on oil prices for decades. It is called the allowable system. The state has the power to regulate how much oil individual wells can produce: anywhere from 0% to 100% of their certified flow rate. When Texas held the swing control on oil in the world the TRRC could effective moderate the price of oil by cutting back on our relatively big volumes during those times. Essentially the TRRC was OPEC during that period. Unlike OPEC we could easily enforce the quota system with the help of the Texas Rangers. Yes…the Rangers still exist (ALL HAIL “WALKER…TEXAS RANGER”) and are the law enforce arm of the TRRC.

Since the 1970's the allowable has been set at 100%. The regulation still existS today. The TRRC could force oil production in the state to be cut 50% next month for whatever insane reason. At that point I suspect the state and Feds would get into a world class legal battle.

The insurmountable issues would be:
1) when the price covers production cost, who gets to produce? OPEC struggles with this very issue, and you could look at a global price target as a global OPEC.

2) if the price target doesn't cover production, how do you handle the shortage? To be effective, it seems more like a price floor, with escalation to encourage continued research and production development.

But if the price is always higher than costs, it ends up being a windfall for the oil producers alone, and no consumer nation will stomach that.

Maybe there is a tax based or token/credit mechanism that would work better. A good token system could provide individual incentives to conserve or shift while auctioning off production volume for reasonably fair profit. Surely somebody has devised such a scheme?

I agree Paleo...lots of difficult issues. I just threw out the political. The technical side is just as problamatic. Certainly it would have to have at least a two-tier system. Existing oil production would yield a wide fall if priced the same as newly drilled wells. But even if you priced new and oil production differently how would you handle cheaters. Not to difficult in the US but over seas a NOC could certify old oil like new oil and make that wind fall. And probably a few more regulatory issues I haven't thought of.

As I said the other day


something like Sarkozy's suggestion is what I expect the European politicians to propose in order to postpone peak oil, gas and coal for as long as possible or to mitigate the downslope effects.

We did it with food, it's called intervention and causes massive excess production and destabilises world markets. It resulted in so called 'wine lakes', 'beef mountains', 'wheat mountains' etc and eventually lead to the Governments bizarrely paying farmers to 'set aside' fields and not produce food.

For oil, by subsidising the size of the 'tap' enough, peak would definitely be posponed for a while but at a subsidy cost and completely ignoring the CO2 reduction targets.

In reality only the new wells need to be subsidised - once that investment is made they can be mothballed until required - instead of giving oil companies leases the Government could take control and hire in contractors to do the work .... hmmmm, where have I heard of that before?

Rockman - Let me make a wild ass guess - you WORK for an oil company, but you do not own one. Do you not remember when all rail rates were regulated, all trucking rates were regulated, all airline fares were regulated. Who in their right mind would ever invest in (own) these types of "investments?" Only taxpayers by force.

Yup. We'd much rather throw our social Security at Mr. Madoff and Lehmann and all the other unregulated bankers and financiers. That way they can just siphon the money directly from our accounts.

jbunt -- is your comment about regulation/deragulation or about better regulation for rail and various kinds of over-the-road transportation?

My point is that regulation and oversight are not good or bad, but need to be done with a fair amount of wisdom and with plenty of transparency and for the common good.

There never has been, is not, and never will be a free market, and so on and so forth....

We set markets up for reasons, and they seem to run best when they are not dominated by fraud, monopolies, or terribly small minorities of wealthy people oppressing many poor people. Markets tend to run in that direction, like it or not, so dynamic, responsive, transparent and careful regulation seems like a good idea to me.

Can you clarify your point? Maybe I misunderstood.

'Who in their right mind would ever invest in (own) these types of "investments?"'

That would depend entirely on the yield. If such investments yielded 10% (or higher) in inflation-adjusted terms, I definitely would allocate a large part of my portfolio, geographically diversified of course!

Regulated utilities used to be the standard investment for little old ladies because they were safe and predictable.

De-regulation has improved that by making utilities into the typical fraud machines that Wall St. likes so much. Progress!

interstate ng prices were also regulated up until about the mid '70's and dont forget tricky dick's price freeze of the early '70's.

Hell..no need to guess jbunt. Most everyone here knows what I do for a living. I've bored many into a comma with my run-on technobabble more than once. And I've been in the oil patch so long I remember when taking a crap was regulated (or is that regular).

But I miss the point of your question. Please clarify if you would like a brutaly honest opinion.

Not bored here Rockman - you are one of the posters with real experience in the underlying point of this site - I for one, always appreciate your technological approach to explaining the oil biz.

I appreciate that Mac. Just started a 12 hr tower that looks to be slow. Maybe I'll pen a couple of thousand words on some oil patch minutia and test the endurance of you and a few other folks.

Naa…just a playful threat.

And now, with deregulation, airlines and truckers have proven their ability to go bankrupt on a regular basis. Better to have been an investor or airline during regulation. It was a helluva lot more pleasant to fly as well. No doubt prices are cheaper but there is a downside to everything.

You don't reckon we could de-regulate government, do you? It is already bankrupt so we can cut out that step.

Krugman also talks about something that has been a topic of discussion here on TOD (and Denninger and TAE) for the past few days--how to solve the banking crisis:

In particular, he’s going to have to decide how bold to be in his moves to sustain the financial system, where the outlook has deteriorated so drastically that a surprising number of economists, not all of them especially liberal, now argue that resolving the crisis will require the temporary nationalization of some major banks.

So is Mr. Obama ready for that? Or were the platitudes in his Inaugural Address a sign that he’ll wait for the conventional wisdom to catch up with events? If so, his administration will find itself dangerously behind the curve.

And that’s not a place that we want the new team to be. The economic crisis grows worse, and harder to resolve, with each passing week. If we don’t get drastic action soon, we may find ourselves stuck in the muddle for a very long time.

In this I am in agreement with Krugman, Denninger and TAE.

This is the dilema facing the Obama administration:

The hard choice facing the Obama administration is between partially nationalising the banks, or leaving them in private hands but nationalising their toxic assets.


If Obama pursues the second option--leaving the banks in private hands but nationalising their toxic assets--it amounts to a massive gift to the management, stockholders and bondholders of the banks at taxpayer expense. This, lamentably, appears to be where the Obama administration is headed. From the FT article above:

According to reports in Washington, the Obama administration may be close to devoting as much as $100bn of the second tranche of the troubled asset relief programme funds to creating an “aggregator bank” that would remove toxic securities from the balance sheets of banks. The plan would be to leverage this amount up 10-fold, using the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet, so that the banking system could be relieved of up to $1,000bn (€770bn, £726bn) worth of bad assets.

Add Barry Ritholtz to the Krugman-TAE-Denninger chorus:

The Brits, soon to nationalize Barclays, have the right idea: Go Swedish. Wipe out shareholders, bond holders, and all the bad debt and junk paper these firms hold. Zero it out, spin out the assets with clean balance sheets.

If the behavior of these corporate executives is nothing short than egregious: Their embarassing attitudes, foolish excesses, sense of entitled greed is annoying but tolerable when its on their ownshareholders dime; when the taxpayer is footing the bill, it is utterly unacceptable.

To paraphrase a Mellon, its time to liquidate the banks, liquidate capital, liquidate shareholders, liquidate bond holders . . .


It's time to jump cut paradigms. This hanging on by fingernails is only going to make things so much worse. I've written here before about how critical it is to jump to the right paradigm - because anything short wastes more resources and means the "sustainable" paradigm is that much lower. K and R stuff I guess. The powers that be, the Obambi billionaires, the Krugmans - they cannot do the jump cut. FDR couldn't, but his people - like Henry Wallace and Hopkins - it seems they could. It's not only an issue of restructuring the economy - and the big players will lose big time because the game has to change - but it's an issue of changing what we consider the game itself. We don't want to nationalize the banks. They should simply go bust. Melonize and smash them.

Melons'a triage?

cfm in Melon Gray, Melon Maine, Melon USA

"a delicate machine, the working of which we do not understand.” Sounds like complex industrial, oil dependent, society.

Has anyone seen/read an analysis of the role that U.S. oil production played in our WWII and post-WWII economic growth? Seems that a lot of fortunate (for us) events fed a growing global demand for oil (and other then-plentiful minerals) at the same time that our domestic production was ramping up. Surely turning geology into a market commodity (making money from the raw earth itself) was a great source of economic stimulus, and as as suggested above, we are a bit more bankrupt in this regard today. Also, it seems that Alaskan oil came on line right about the time the early 80's recession ended. Coincidence?

One of the reasons for the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after WWII was the attempt to reduce the influence of communist unions.
Many of these were coal miner unions; they had the power to halt the flow of energy to the host nation.
The Marshall Plan provided financing that permitted the weak economies of Europe to purchase liquid fuels from US producers. This undercut the strength of the unions, and soaked up the surplus US production that was throttled back or capped.
Since the liquid fuels were lower cost than solid fuels there was an economic benefit to the importing nations. Since they also had to buy new infrastructure to use liquid fuels this increased demand for US industrial production.
It has been said that the allies floated to victory on a sea of oil. If had not been for the riches of east Texas much of Europe would now be speaking German.

Wrong. They would be speaking Russian.

yeah, my wife speaks German now - no thanks to you cowboys !

But, "Keynesian stimulus", i.e., spending by the Government in excess of tax receipts, is what the U.S. has been doing for more than 28 years. Remember that the Federal Debt inder Reagan/Bush41 went from $1 Trillion to $4 Trillion. The increase under Clinton was not so spectacular, but still an increase. Shrub really opened the taps and the Federal Debt now exceeds $10 Trillion!!!

The U.S. economy has become addicted to stimulus, IMHO. Of course, the successive bubbles in Internet and Housing finance only added more fuel to the unsustainable economic explosion, the fallout from which we are now witnessing. Mr. Obama will inherit the last budget from The Shrub, which will add even more to the Keynesian stimulus and increase the debit until Obama's first budget can begin on 1 October 2009.

E. Swanson

This is something that should be explored more, and which many talking heads ignore totally.

The institutionalization of excessive (more going out than collected by taxes) government spending, essentially a continual stimulus of the US economy by borrowing money from the future, has brought about a situation where the effectiveness of simply more gov't spending has been reduced. Now, to get the effect needed, we have to speak of trillions of dollars, not billions of dollars.

How this will play out in the face of limited oil supplies....? Could we see the rise of new economic theories that will replace (or rather greatly modify) the Keynesian approach?

I've seen proposals to abolish taxes and just have the govt print the money it needs. It is pretty much doing this now anyway and we would be rid of an odious, complicated tax system.

It's really $5 Trillion. The other five T is Soc Sec accounting mumbo jumbo.

Actually, the National Debt is more closely related to the money supply. Since all money is created as debt, the National Debt pretty much equals the money supply. So it is closer to $10 trillion. Check out Web of Debt if you want to really learn more.

If you really care to understand some of the SS "mumbo jumbo," then you might watch Chris Martenson's Crash Course. He'll show you that the SS liability is much more than your $5 trillion "mumbo jumbo."


I have no clue who "Chris Martenson" is, nor do I want to; but I do know that Soc Sec debt is exactly whatever the US Congress says it is on any given day. Period.

Well that's your loss. I suppose that's the price you pay for having a closed mind.


Krugman, bless his heart, assumes that nothing has changed since the depression with regard to population, resource availability, and carbon dioxide emissions. He does not explicitly assume that but it is implied by relying on an obsolete passage from Keynes.

It all depends on one defines "will work".

I think Krugman was a welcome and smart critic during the Bush years, but he, like many (most) economists seems to assume that fixing the economy is just a matter of having the right equations. Well, their equations do not take into account resource constraints. However, there is a large body of knowledge called environmental economics, which I took way back in the early 70s, which included the pertinent equations appropriate to an age of environmental degradation and resource depletion. Krugman seems to have largely ignored that body of knowledge.

After all years, Herman Daly is still relegated to the peanut gallery.

There is also this assumption that the United States still has the best brains and best workers in the world. Well, the unfortunate fact is that many of those so called best brains have spent their days scheming about how to create better derivatives and not products useful to the average consumer or the future of the nation.

Krugman, sadly, is an "idiot" in the classic sense. Or "Pond scum", as a bunch of my women friends would phrase it. That's not a comment on him personally, but on his class and the class interests he represents.

cfm in Gray, ME

Another phenomenon that Krugman picked up on--that has been discussed on TOD as recently as yesterday:

But Keynes’s insight — that we’re in a “muddle” that needs to be fixed — somehow was replaced with standard we’re-all-at-fault, let’s-get-tough-on-ourselves boilerplate.

Obama's rhetorical strategy seems to be that everyone is equally culpable in the financial meldown, as if they were just as much to blame as Richard Fuld or Bernie Madoff, and therefore everyone must pay, of course in the form of massive bailouts for the finance industry.

And so it shall be. If 2008 showed us anything, it showed us that people don't really oppose bailouts.

Misc. Energy Saving Tips

At the close of my Campfire essay, A Trip to Todd's, last Saturday, I noted there were additional energy saving tips. No one asked about them and I didn't want to threadjack another Campfire essay so I'm posting them here.

Quasi-triple Glazing
These could also be used with single blazing.

Clear vinyl sheeting - This is placed on the interior of sliding glass doors with the exception of our living room. It is 10mil and can be purchased in a variety of widths although ours are joined with clear tape due to the width of the doors. Around here, it's call "Hippie Glass." It is tacked with push pins at the top, tack strips on the sides and a piece of rebar on the bottom to hold it tight to the floor. Besides adding an additional dead air space, it almost eliminates air inflitration.

Friction-fit interior storm windows - Most of the glazing in my house is sliding glass doors but we do have six windows. I made friction-fit interior storms bt soldering up frames using 1" galvanized metal drip edge. A band of 1/4" faom was placed around the edge so it wouldn't damage the paint and to allow for irregularities in the opening. It is cover with heat shrink-fit plastic "glazing" from 3M. I leave them in place year around since we don't usually open the windows given all the sliding glass doors.

Bubble Wrap
This is a new one for me. I'm testing it in the bedroom this winter on two sliding glass doors (a 6'x6'8" one and an 8'x8' one). I used the wrap with the biggest bubbles (~5/5"x1" in dia.). The cheapest price was from U-Haul. I'd read that it can be stuck to the glass by wetting the glass and sticking it in place. I was chicken and taped it at the top and bottom. If it works, I'll spring for expensive 4' wide wrap for other doors.

Ecofan - These are thermo-electric fans that are placed on the woodstove surface to move air away from the stove. They don't really blow like a 110volt fan but do work.

Door kamb fam - Because our wood heater is in the center of the living room, heat needs to be moved to other locations. We use an Entreeair door jamb fan. These are 110volt fans. They are not quiet but do work.

Ceiling fan - Most people use these for cooling. We use ours to get the hot air at the ceiling (12' on the high end) to the floor where we are.

Motor Controllers
These have sort of gone out of fashion since they aren't cheap and only provide moderate energy savings. Their intent is to improve the power factor of motors so the motor runs more efficiently. We have them on our refigerator, one freezer and the well pump.

Outlet Insulation
BEsides the usual foam cover plate gasket, all exterior outles have been packed with fiber glass insulation.

HWH Heat Trap
These are copper loops that are plumbed into the water heater outlet. The idea is that hot water wants to rise but can't because it can't make it around the loop. I have no idea how much this saves.

Phantom Power
We do try yo put all those little cubes on switchable power strips.

Kill-A-Watt - it really helps to know how much juice something is using.

Infrared thermometer - A great tool to find where cold is getting in.

Cyberguys.com had the cheapest prices on these when I bought them. I'd suggest going together with friends since once you're done they just sit on the shelf.

Outside Combustion Air
If at all possible, duct in outside air to wood heaters, furnaces, etc. Think of it this way, in order for the fire to burn, it has to suck in air from some place - usually through your entire room. Well worth it if you can do it.

Weird Stuff
Adding acetone to gasoline - This was making the internet rounds a few years ago. I tried it and got 5-10% better mileage in my old car and truck. Be forewarned, it can dissolve old varnish and plug filters.

Roof runoff - I pipe all the roof runoff to an old, shallow well in lieu of a cistern. I don't know if it does much for the water in my well since the old well is only 150' and our current well is 450'. In any case, it makes me feel good..and the water goes some place.

Bread machine - Ok, not a big deal but it beats running a full-sized oven. I like it because it doesn't tax the PV system.

Time-Of-Use Metering - We've had TOU metering for over 20 years. It does save us bucks since we run on the PV system every sunny day. Our peak time is noon to 6PM. Newer toll rates are from 1PM to 7PM which wouldn't be as good a deal for us.

I hope this provides a few ideas you can use.


Todd, realist, you're 70. What happens with all your achievements when you leave us?

Thanks for all your input over the years.

Thanks for the kind words. I don't have time to "leave." There's too much to do and lots of new things to try. I drive my wife nuts because I've always got some new project going when I still haven't finished my old ones.


Great tips, Todd!

I've just started doing the BubbleWrap this year on the North Windows, and in rooms where we don't need 'the view'. Definitely has cut down on the cold sheet of air dropping down the glass.

Today, I'm working on rails that my shades will slide down in, to keep the bedroom windows from thermo-cycling cold drafts at night. Sealed at the sides and base, but open on top. Debating whether I should make the exterior face of the shades black, so when they're closed but sunlit, they can push some heat into the room.


Be careful with the black lining. I remember horror stories (and the odd picture) from the 70s about doing that on a sunny day in Feb or March. you need convection then.

Oh yeah.. did it. We started to put blocks of Tarpaper faced foam into the windows of our 1980 passive solar home at night, with no air gap at top (and such a gap would be fine enough even in the cold night air, as the convective pressure is downwards), so a couple heated up to oven temps and snapped the windows from corner to corner. That's some power, there!

No, as I said, I'd just seal the sides and bottom and leave plenty of heat escape above.. would have to work as the input too, on a day when we forgot to open things up.


I use the commercial insulation type (silver reflective coating on "robust" bubble wrap) on my windows. Part of my apartment savings.


Interesting. Gold is up $20-$30 today (depending on where you look). The markets are trying to claw their way back up, but they're still down, and oil is down too. Not much "confidence" appearing yet!

  • http://www.nymex.com/index.aspx
  • How did you come up with your moniker?

    The word "paleocon" to me conjures up visions of people like Pat Robertson, Jimmy Falwell, James Dobson, Jimmy and Tammy Fae Baker, William F. Buckley, Jr., Bill Bennett, Ronald Reagan or, more recently, Sarah Palin--atavists who believe carrying us back to some imagined 18th century Tory utopia is possible, and desirable.

    Or, as Robert Hughes humorously wrote:

    The GOP's "morality" was all about sex and honoring thy father, and it tactfully avoided other commandments, particularly the one against stealing. Thus one of the prototypical figures of the time was Charles Keating, a Cincinnati businessman with the lantern jaw, piercing eyes and strict ethical look of a risen cracker-salesman. Keating co-founded the National Coalition Against Pornography, with the intent of saving the innocent from Satan, and became a major agitator for "traiditonal moral values" in the Midwest. Only later did it appear why Keating was so interested in preserving American innocence: he cheated thousands of innocent people of hundreds of millions of dollars in his manipulations of Lincoln Savings and Loan, though--unlike most of his fellow swindlers in the racket--he went to jail for it.

    Reaganism did more to uncouple American business from its traditional morings than any political ideology in the country's history. This orgy, which culminated in the Savings and Loan scandal, went unchallenged by the public at first--mainly because the government kept the public in the dark about what was happening. By mutual consent of the rival parties, the unpalatable truth that taxpayers must now pony up several hundred billion dollars to bail out the S&L system was not announced until just after the 1988 election. But in any case, the numbers were so huge as to be beyond most people's grasp.

    The new business heroes, the corporate raiders and junk-bond merchants--Michael Milken, Ivan Boesky, Kohlberg Kravis--exploded the traditional business relationship between investor, employee and customer; the only interest that mattered, in the new atmosphere of leveraged buyout and tear-down, were those of the investors and their agents. This wasn't conservatism. It was more like Jacobinism--a wildly abstracted form of fiscal revolution-by-deed, in which every comany, whatever its grounding in former practice and principle, was led before the guillotine of credit. As Michael Thomas put it:

    In such conditions time istelf breaks up into discrete parts. An enterprise that may have sunk its roots in commerce and community over a century can be disassembled by a takeover artist in a matter of weeks. Continuum means nothing. Relationships mean nothing. The modern financier lives and dies by the transaction. Each day is wholly new, the wheel subject to endless reinvention. There is no need for coherence because there is no advantage to coherence. Action is all...Critical judgment is neutered by celebrity, censure collapses in the face of success.

    The 80s brought the fulfillment of Kenneth Galbraith's morose aphorism about America's recoil from the memory of New Deal policies. Private opulance, public squalor.

    --Robert Hughes, Culture of Complaint: A Passionate Look into the Ailing Heart of America

    Needless to say, judging from your comments, none of this seems to fit you. So what gives?

    I'll repeat here a comment I posted elsewhere today:

    The curtain is being drawn back, and we are now starting to see what Schumpeter’s “Creative Destruction” really means. Yeah, it’s destructive all right. And yeah, the destroyers are pretty creative about how they go about their work.

    Too bad we didn’t have anyone trumpeting anything called “Creative Construction”, as that would have been a much more promising way to go about building an economy that actually works for the long haul. And too bad we don’t get a re-do, like Presidential oath takers. We’ve had our shot, and we’ve blown it, and now all we’re going to have left is to live amongst the debris of a creatively destroyed economy.

    Are you sure you really want to know?

    Here's what Wikipedia intros for "neocon":

    Neoconservatism is a political philosophy that emerged in the United States. Its key distinction is in international affairs, where it espouses an interventionist approach that seeks to defend what neo-conservatives deem as national interests. In addition, unlike traditional conservatives, neoconservatives are comfortable with a minimally-bureaucratic welfare state; and, while generally supportive of free markets, they are willing to interfere for overriding social purposes.[1]

    The term neoconservative was originally used as a criticism against liberals who had "moved to the right".

    I consider myself a staunch fiscal conservative (and mostly a social one, too) and I took an early liking to the producer-driven ideals of Ayn Rand and the free-market competition pushed by Reagan. Low taxes/small-gov't, self-sufficiency, personal drive, and meritocracy are all good goals, IMHO. The problem is that most of the ways neocons go about things is exactly oppposite to the way I see things, and the reality isn't the same as the lofty visions they supposedly espouse:

    "interventionist approach" to international affairs -- I'm all for national interests, but to me that means running our nation in such a way as to limit foreign entanglements, rather than trying to manage all foreign entanglements for our interests. Though I favor personal charity, I'm not big on world-wide police actions, and less on invasions. I am big on defense, pushing hard for fair bilateral trade, and using trade as a policy/control tool.

    "comfortable with a minimally-bureaucratic welfare state" -- I abhor bureaucracy, and I don't much care for any welfare state. Certainly welfare is needed, but if "state" is going be part of the term, it should mean "state level or below". "Welfare country" is more accurate today. If income redistribution is going to be part of the solution at all (arguable, but I'd concede eventually probably) it should be from localities to other localities, with very little stopping at the national gov't in the middle.

    "generally supportive of free markets, they are willing to interfere for overriding social purposes." -- I'm completely supportive of free markets, with almost no "overriding" for societal purposes, especially at the national level. Solid, simple constraints, like limiting the freedom and lifetime of corporations, managing the use of public resources, and controlling public risk for private gain are needed, but not "social" as in "good for this group at the expense of that one", which is what we have today. Certainly "social purposes" shouldn't include "so that bankers and CEOs have a wealthier social life at public expense". Partners and investors deserve rewards, speculators do not. Entrepreneurs and businessmen deserve rewards, as do workers, employees, craftsmen, and farmers. Bureucrats, politicians, lobbyists, and activists do not.

    "originally used as a criticism against liberals who had "moved to the right"" -- which to me are still "liberals". I'm more a conservative who moved right, sort of in the libertarian way. I'd be pretty happy as a libertarian, if they'd be willing to take their heads out of the sand and see that the world is small and close by, and the planet needs some stewardship. Plus, it's stupid to be political in a way that has zero chance of affecting those very areas that mean a lot to you.

    So, in conclusion I'd say I'm an old-fashioned conservative but as a cross-breed mix: part rationalist, part libertarian, part objectivist, and part pragmatist. I'm for public projects, but against public doles. I'm for local taxes and investment, and against national taxes and international investment. I'm for usage-based fees and consumption taxes, but against corporate inheritance and generational dynasties. I'm for building for the future via infrastructure and design longevity, and against defined benefits and entitlements. I'm for studying the past and planning the future. "Good steward" would pretty much cover my expectations for gov't, financial, and social responsibilities overall.

    I took an early liking to the producer-driven ideals of Ayn Rand and the free-market competition pushed by Reagan.

    I loved Ayn Rand-- when I was 16. When you are 16, being a hero for being a total azzhole is very cool!
    But kidding aside, these are policies that have failed over and over again, and now cannot be taken seriously. Even Reagan's and Volker's (finally giving in to the St Louis Fed) adherence to these dreams just about put this country into the ditch. It was only after Reagan and Volker embraced Keynes (and tripled the deficit), did a anemic response happen. That and open the casino for capitalism 24 hours a day, the results which we are confronting with this "crisis".

    Yeah, the industrial hero and free-market conqueror view has tempered in value as I age, but it's not the ideals that have failed as much as the nature of man that is consistent.

    Free-market trade is like democracy -- it's not really any good, but it's better than anything else we've found. Nothing else sets man's nature for competition and success against his nature for greed and laziness quite so directly, nor does any other mechanism self-balance as robustly to address the needs of many diverse and disparate consumers.

    The problem, as I see it, is that capitalism works TOO well in advancing its own interests and when coupled with gov't there is an insatiable desire to re-balance commerce for political goals -- which tend to reflect the whims of the constituency on the "public" side (pandering) and the desires of wealth on the "private" side (graft).

    Keeping money and power close to home is always a good thing in my book. Your local plumber may bride the local gov't for business, and the local mayor may get sweetheart deals for his buddies, and the operator of the local shelter may abscond with charity funds before Thanksgiving, but it's all close at hand and individuals can both learn about it and do something about it. If a small local company goes astray in any unpopular manner, the local populace can punish or put them out of business through their personal actions. If a multi-national corporation hires sub-Saharan AIDS orphans for menial labor plucking bald eagle down to stuff cage-fed baby seal-skin pillows there's a good chance that only a few people in each remote corner will hear of it, and the buyers at Wal-mart won't know or care if the price is right.

    My point is that the problem wasn't free enterprise, but the lack of transparency, accountability and culpability for multi-national corporations coupled with a greedy and slothful legislature and a disinterested populace. I doubt there is a perfect solution, but it is obvious that regulators, congress, lobbyists, and businessmen all had a hand in the creation of bubbles and the current mess. None were acting in the public good, and that falls at the feet of Congress. Again I'm for "small" and "local". "Big" and "national" just super-sizes the corruption and risk. When we look at energy, the same is true. You can fault OPEC, big oil, and big coal all you want, but they're not charged with the well-being of the American populace. Congress needs to wake up and do its job.

    Note that various states struggled incessantly to reign in predatory home loans, other lenders, financial instruments, auto pollution, and other items, but was steam-rolled by the feds. Ever since Lincoln we've had a decline in Federalism with a growth in National gov't and a decline in State's rights. States used to compete, trying different solutions. Now they're all lined up at the trough, seeking handouts and favor from Washington.

    I agree, Capitalism has been very resilient, and does fit with our evolutionary fitness that has rewarded short term gains over longer term planning, heuristic thinking over critical thinking, and story and myth as a basis of reality, rather than reason and observation. This strategy has prover very effective (there are 6.7 billion of us), but it's future, along with capitalism is in serious jeopardy. I will miss it, as capitalism has been good to me.
    Capitalism is bumping against resource limits, and psychical restraints, that will seal it's doom.
    We need to use our imagination and wisdom to attempt this transition.

    I am sure there are far brighter experts than I who investigate alternative economic mechanisms.

    I wonder if unbridled capitalism cannot be traded for a zero-sum free-enterprise model? There will always be winners and losers, yet the notion of eternal growth needs to be eliminated. I'm not at all sure that growth is required for free-enterprise, but it certainly seems to be for fractional-reserve banking and debt-based GDP growth.

    Why can there not be vibrant free-market competition in the absence of mass debt? Even limited debt (to build new business, invest in new technologies, etc.) could be envisioned, though some existing business would have to fail or some current technologies would fall by the wayside to make room, on average.

    There will always be variability (weather, innovation, natural disasters, population growth/decline, people moving) to drive such changes, even if the population, energy, and money supplies were fairly static over the long term.

    Why can there not be vibrant free-market competition in the absence of mass debt?

    A good question. I think that the answer is to be found in the history of banking. Wherever a depositor wants to square the circle of keeping his money available and lending it at the same time, he will find a banker willing to co-operate via the 'miracle' of fractional reserve banking. People want it both ways: to make their money 'work' and yet to have it available on demand. To outlaw this credit-generating collusion between creditors, bankers and borrowers would be to inhibit freedom of contract, so it's incompatible with strict libertarianism. And when the masses become depositors, as is the case today, the result is mass debt.

    So I suppose the answer is that mass debt is inevitable in a free-market economy. Occasionally things go wrong and we end up with mass bankruptcies, debt-deflation and economic depression.

    Then it's back to square one a couple of generations later as the grandchildren forget the sins of their grandparents.

    OTOH, there might be no return to square one this time, it being TEOTWAWKI.

    Well I suppose there's room for you under the rubric of "paleocon."

    I looked it up on Wikipedia and it says that "paleoconservatives come from varying ideological origins, including Fundamentalist Christians, Calvinists, Traditionalist Catholics, monarchists, libertarian individualists, Midwestern agrarians, Reagan Democrats, and Southern conservatives."

    It's a mystery to me how you can lump libertarian individualists together with Fundamentalist Christians. But hey, what do I know?

    Maybe they'll start calling me palecon if I keep harping on morality.

    Anyway, I'll look forward to both crossing swords and finding areas of agreement in the future.

    I'd like to think I'm not quite as dogmatic and narrow socially as the Wikipedia definition appears to connote. There is a lot of overlap here between fundamental Christians and conservatism, expressed in votes in 1992 with Gingrich and such, but many have been sucked in by the neocon movement.

    The problem with all of these labels, and I've felt this all my life, is the weird "bundling" that goes on. So that if you believe this, well, surely we can count on you to believe that. The universe of political/philosophical positions is NOT scalar - it's a bizarro vector of all kinds of socio/politico/religio stuff, to the point that the labels are worse than meaningless.

    I have been frustrated by the simple polarization of "liberal" vs. "conservative" since I was in high school (late 60's, early 70's).

    It's worse than ever now. Ugh.

    The universe of political/philosophical positions is NOT scalar - it's a bizarro vector of all kinds of socio/politico/religio stuff, to the point that the labels are worse than meaningless.

    I have been frustrated by the simple polarization of "liberal" vs. "conservative" since I was in high school (late 60's, early 70's)

    I've been in a similar place. I think it is a problem for freethinkers. We end of choosing some from column A, and some from column B, and that confuses the partisans, who can't figure if we are for um or again um. But, whether it be because of the way ideas naturally group together, or just the groupthink effect of being surrounded by partisans, and (usually) having to choose one of the camps, I think it explains quite a lot of the politics of the plurality of the population. So we are kind stuck with it.

    At least Obama, tries to be, and hire freethinkers. Just maybe there is a chance that analysis can someday become as important as partisanship.

    And this, sgage, is one of the fundamental flaws with our present government. The two party system is an illusion of choice. In fact, there are absolutely no choices that the masses make that have any meaningful impact on government.

    Our political system is basically a contest to see who can raise the most money to spend on their campaigns, the winner usually elected. TPTB are the financiers of BOTH campaigns. Because the polititions on both sides are bought and sold for, it doesn't matter if republican or democrat is elected.

    Quite by accident, I developed an analogy that really puts this into perspective. If a kid isn't eating his vegetables, the Mom changes tactics and give the kid a choice. "Do you want peas or carrots with dinner, son?" The child has two apparently different choices and it appears that the power is all his with his "choice." But the underlying truth of the situation is that the kid is going to have to eat his damn vegetables no matter what he chooses.

    Our elections are no different. Vote Replubican, vote Democrat, it doesn't matter. We're going to have to eat whatever they force down our throats. Only now, we feel like we are responsible because we made this "choice."

    So bringing this back to your polarization of "liberal" vs "conservative," it's my opinion that the extreme polarization is completely manufactured to give the appearance of striking differences. What's really going on, is that this appearance of differences is used to strengthen the illusion of choice, and the apparent impact that the voter has. What most people don't realize is that everything is the same under the surface. It's like showing someone two cars, one red, the other blue. They look different but they've got the same motor, frame and transmission and perform the same functions. Political candidates are no different.

    You're wise to have seen the problems with these labels and how you are forced to identify with one of two parties. Yet there are things you hate about both of them. Maybe we should just all admit to ourselves what the real problem is. We all hate being force fed vegetables.


    To extend your analogy...

    In my household growing up, if I didn't eat my vegetables, one of my many siblings would!

    Hi, everyone. If you are a member of ASPO-USA, check your inboxes for the invitation to the Oil and Investment Summit 2009 in New York City on March 17.

    Just some of the speakers include:

    • Matt Simmons
    • Dr. Robert Hirsch
    • Dr. Roger Bezdek
    • Steve Andrews
    • Charley Maxwell
    • our very own Jeffrey Brown (yes, the audience will definitely learn about the Export Land Model!)
    • Dallas Kachan, The Cleantech Group
    • Chris Nelder, author of Profit from the Peak and Investing in Renewable Energy

    ASPO-USA members get to attend an informal meeting at the event as well. Attendees will get a veritable fire hose of the latest in oil and this new world of investing we are entering. Where do we need to put our money to make the most difference? Which companies are set up to win? There will also be a networking event at the highest level to take advantage of.

    Please use the link below to register so that you support ASPO-USA's great work (a portion of every registration goes to them):

    If you have any contacts in the New York area for local government, please let me know so that I can extend a special invitation to them. We (the organizers) are doing everything we can to get people educated and in action.


    Well worth to listen to these guys, except for Chris Nelder. He is THE propoganda minister for those shale gas/oil dreamers. He is just nuts.

    Not for me. $1,000 is too rich for my blood.

    euro, I will forgive your confusion on that point because it's not so clear to the outside world. But you have completely mischaracterized my position on unconventional shale.

    As I have not been active on TOD lately, it has only today come to my attention that you have been slandering me in a similar vein for several months now on this site. I hope you will now have the integrity to retract your comments as you clearly had no idea what you were talking about. To correct your claims, my articles appear on Energy and Capital, but it is most definitely not "my" site. My site is at GetRealList, where you can explore my analysis on energy matters since 2002.

    I have only written one article about the Bakken shale, which was a detailed and fairly pessimistic study of the USGS numbers and was behind the EAC paywall. In fact if you explore the archives you will find a number of readers wondering why I didn't mention it in many of my columns.

    I tried to explain the reasons for that apparent disconnect in my comment here:

    Regarding the Bakken Formation: One of the great things Angel Publishing is that I am given free rein to write whatever I want to write, with very little direction or oversight. As far as I know, that’s true for the rest of the editors as well. The company trusts us and doesn’t interfere with our work, even if we have different takes on things sometimes.

    The Bakken play is one of those things. I wrote a fairly detailed assessment (behind the paywall) of the Bakken play for the $20 Trillion Report, in which I concluded that “When fully exploited, estimates for the maximum flow rate from the Bakken range from half a million to one million bpd.” Therefore, from a peak oil perspective, where flow rates are really all that matters, it’s not that significant. Like drilling in ANWR and the continental shelf, it will only slow the decline rate and extend the tail of domestic production. That is why I have not written about it much in my big picture articles for Energy and Capital.

    For some of my other colleagues, the sheer amount of oil that remains in the Bakken and its high quality is exciting, so they choose to emphasize that. Some of them are not as concerned about the recoverability factor as I am, but as the saying goes, that’s what makes horse races. Hence the apparent mixed messages on the pages of Energy and Capital. That doesn’t bother me though, because if we all agreed on everything, it would get pretty boring. I wish you all could hear some of the great—and very congenial—debates I have had with Keith Kohl over beers.

    I think that when you get down to it, all of us editors do agree on the basic premise that whether there are 4 billion or 400 billion barrels recoverable in the Bakken, it will be produced, it will sell for a pretty penny, and the companies that exploit it stand to profit from it handsomely. So I have no objection to promoting the companies we have selected for the $20 Trillion Report, because I think they are bona fide good investments, even if they can’t change the basic shape of things to come.

    I have also mentioned the Bakken in passing, such as here:

    The much-anticipated production from relatively new finds in the Gulf of Mexico, Brazil, and elsewhere (including the recent announcement about the potential of the Bakken formation in the center of the U.S.) are all likely to come online some years after the peak, and the production rates they will achieve are unknown. No doubt every last drop of it will be welcome, and fetch a pretty penny, but in terms of the big picture, they can only help to buy us a little more time-a year or three-before global production starts to drop off.

    If you look more closely, you will see that what I write is not synonymous with everything published at Energy and Capital, no more than the totality of material published by the New York Times can be ascribed to a single journalist.

    I hope you now understand that I have taken pains to paint a realistic picture of the shales' potential, in contrast to some of my colleagues. As is the case with most jobs in journalism, I do not control or dictate how the company uses my editorial copy. You should read what I have actually written more carefully before making such accusations.

    Well, this is one campaign promise he's keeping:

    President Obama 'orders Pakistan drone attacks'

    Missiles fired from suspected US drones killed at least 15 people inside Pakistan today, the first such strikes since Barack Obama became president and a clear sign that the controversial military policy begun by George W Bush has not changed.

    Security officials said the strikes, which saw up to five missiles slam into houses in separate villages, killed seven "foreigners" - a term that usually means al-Qaeda - but locals also said that three children lost their lives.

    Oh, goodie. Now Obama is killing innocent children, too. Are we safer now?. I'll guess we'll never know. I guess Obama has to kill a few alleged terrorists early on to protect himself against any blowback if there is a terrorist attack.

    Of course we are safer. We have not been attacked by terrorists during the entire Obama administration. I credit the President.

    That's because he has been appointing them to his Cabinet......

    "A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear. The traitor is the plague."

    Cicero's moral speeches were too much for the abitious who executed him. Mark Antony was enraged by Cicero's snitching.

    The Al Qaeda unholy Jihad in Afghanistan is not condoned. This conflict has gone on since about 9/11/2001. Getting to be a very expensive military action in Central Asia. It is like Vietnam, possible to survive in heavily fortified fire bases, with risks to convoy movements. The enemy trying to infiltrate the entire countryside. A foreign people resentful of a foreign presence and enraged by bad doctrine and false teachings.

    Pretty well sums up the current situation.

    tstreet - Think of how "lucky" Hitler would have been (and I guess also you, based upon your comment)if the world's response would have been not to do anything because some innocent children would be killed. Or the Japanese leaders for that matter. But, you probably would be okay if you are not Jewish, or a gypsy, or gay, and have blond hair and blue eyes, or are handicapped, or have a mental defect, etc. At least we would not have to put up with the French - who I assume would now all be speaking German. And we would not have to be worrying about the Russians either. Ah, if only your view of Utopia could be realized.

    Excuse me, but you comparing apples and oranges and seem to be assuming that somehow I would have been fine with having Hitler overrun Europe and much of the world. Not.

    The fact is our war with Hitler was clear and it was clear when he was defeated. It took us awhile to get into the fray, but when we did our goals, objectives, and results were clear. We stopped him in his tracks.

    You have no idea whether the loss in children's lives during this most recent attack was worth the targets presumably acquired.

    WWII is not a good comparison to the war on terror or this recent action by Obama or the previous actions by Bush. We don't really know who we are killing, nor do we know whether these targets will have much of an effect on this endless war.

    The fact is that Obama must speak out loud and long about terrorism, regardless of whether it is a real threat to the United States. My comment still stands. We, the people have no idea whether these covert actions make any sense. For all we know, these attacks are based upon the slimmest of evidence. And when will this war be over, pray tell.

    In this sphere, I am far from a utopian. I don't think the war on Hitler and the war on terror are comparable. And I don't think you or anyone else here knows whether or not it was worth it for these children to be killed. We directly and indirectly killed thousands of children both during and before the latest Gulf war. There are those like Madeline Albright who thought it was worth it before the latest all out war. I don't think so. Which puts me in good company and hardly implies that I would have been an appeaser during the second world war.

    Your comments about me or anyone else not being Jewish are just dumb.

    I understand your sentiments ts. But I don't try to make distinctions between one war and another. All are obviously full of heart breaking suffering. But TPTB always make decisions that are double edged. Why war should always be the last resort.

    BTW: during the first week of the Normandy invasion approx. 40,000 French civilians were killed by Allied forces. Many children and elderly of course. Not known by most. Why? We were attacking the Germans. The Germans occupied the French towns. French civilians lived in those towns. Choose to kill the Germans and you accept killing the French. Time can make such terrible choices seem more sterile to some. And not to others who have witnessed similar horrors first hand.

    The subject reminds me of a statement made by some forgotten general after WWI. Effective he felt major wars would never occur again now that air power could bring death and destruction to a country's civilian population. He felt no country would ever subject its masses to such a nightmare. He was wrong, of course.

    Dumb, dumb dumb. The Russians would have beaten the Germans without us. The Germans were finished after Stalingrad, two years before Normandy. All we managed to do was to keep the Russians from controlling all of Europe.

    You two do realize that Germany declared war on us, right?

    The Red Army without 90% of it's trucks, many aircraft, tank chassis design for the T-34, food (read "Khrushchev Remembers"), and without a second front (first North Africa, then Italy, then Normandy) and a third front (air war took 900,000 men from the front plus production losses) would have lost at Stalingrad, and would have lost the war.

    BTW, most historians see Kursk as the decisive battle (many German military also saw that as the "War is lost" point).


    RE: Stimulus: Stuck on cars

    There's a summary of the latest proposal to spend lots of money which is available from the House Ways and Means Committee. Here's the link:


    There are some tax breaks for renewable energy, including small scale stuff, which might interest us average folks.

    E. Swanson

    The November report for Traffic Volume Trends in the US is out. Travel YOY still down in all sectors, more sharply in urban areas than rural for this month. October showed a marked uptick. In general monthly patterns are holding even with the overall decline in VMT.

    Based on preliminary reports from the State Highway Agencies, travel during November 2008 on all roads and streets in the nation changed by -5.3 percent (-12.9 billion vehicle miles) resulting in estimated travel for the month at 230.4** billion vehicle-miles.

    This total includes 77.8 billion vehicle-miles on rural roads and 152.6 billion vehicle-miles on urban roads and streets.

    Cumulative Travel changed by -3.7 percent (-102.1 billion vehicle miles).

    The larger changes to rural and urban travel are primarily because of the expansion in urban boundaries reflected in the 2000 census. Travel estimates for 2004 and beyond will also reflect this adjustment.

    I don't know if this has been posted. Here's the key quote: “Many young people live with the unbearable knowledge that there is no future.”

    New age of rebellion and riot stalks Europe

    Each flare-up touches on a separate aspect of the crisis. In Greece it was partly about the failure of the education system (as in 1968). In Vilnius it was over high taxes. In Iceland it is about massive debt. In Russia unrest in Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok was about dearer car import duties.

    But there are common threads. Across Europe, protesters demand a change of government. Politicians in wealthier countries can try to prop up banks and industries, but it does not work in heavily indebted nations with bloated and exposed financial sectors.

    And there is a shared shock that the good times have gone. “The explosion conceals a compressed desperation,” the Greek psychology professor Fotini Tsalikoglou said of last month's outburst in Athens. “Many young people live with the unbearable knowledge that there is no future.”

    Meltdown in Iceland

    ICELAND HAS become the first European country in which a government has decided to have fresh elections after the international economic crisis provoked continuing street demonstrations and violent incidents over police retaliation.

    Other countries too are feeling the strain of social protests as the recession bites and governments respond with public spending cuts and tax increases. In the last two weeks Latvia, Lithuania and Bulgaria have seen this happen, while in Greece the violent demonstrations that broke out last month over the shooting dead of a young protester by a policemen have continued sporadically and have now been taken up by farmers. They were sufficiently serious to convince French president Nicolas Sarkozy not to introduce a school reform for fear of provoking a similar student protest in France.

    WT, I think that this is one of the most significant and thus-far overlooked realities of our time.

    Bill Moyers wrote in his article "There Is No Tomorrow" that we are stealing the future from our children and grandchildren.

    We know this, as do the young people. We work hard to deny this, but beneath the demonic drive for ever more rapacious consumption and warfare is this very real nihilistic despair.

    Moyers article is online at:


    Here is Moyers' most salient comment, in my opinion:

    "I read all this and look up at the pictures on my desk, next to the computer - pictures of my grandchildren. I see the future looking back at me from those photographs and I say, "Father, forgive us, for we know not what we do." And then I am stopped short by the thought: "That's not right. We do know what we are doing. We are stealing their future. Betraying their trust. Despoiling their world."

    And I ask myself: Why? Is it because we don't care? Because we are greedy? Because we have lost our capacity for outrage, our ability to sustain indignation at injustice?

    What has happened to our moral imagination?"

    Moyers wrote that in 2005.

    This reality is what haunts me more than anything else: we know exactly what we are doing; it is obvious to anyone paying any sort of attention at all. Many young people I know are confused and frustrated because on the one hand they are told to plan as though they will live in a world much like the one we have lived in for the last 50 years, but then they can see the rug being pulled out from under them.

    My daughter has been accepted to a superb local university, with very good -- and well-earned -- scholarship help. She is frustrated though, because with the tanking economy and the violent and volatile geopolitical situation and the deteriorating ecological environment, she feels as if the possibility of the life she has been socialized to strive for within our dominant culture is being torn out of her grasp even though she has worked very hard to learn and to do all the things she needs to do to succeed in our culture.

    She is an excellent student and citizen, and is exceptionally motivated and responsible. Many others her age are even more confused and frustrated because they are overwhelmed whenever they peak out of the bubble of popular entertainment that keeps them occupied and relatively compliant so far.

    Class warfare is a big deal, but inter-generational warfare will be an even bigger deal as young people realize more clearly that catabolic collapse means that we have been devouring their futures in order to maintain the status quo until now.


    I am most likely warping my poor children, but I remind them not to take for granted anything in their lives-- the electricity, heat, bananas, school bus, etc... My husband and I made a major shift from hip urban core to rural farm life. My oldest is in 3rd grade and recently had "futurama" as school. Her classmates talked about all computer run homes (hey that was around when I was a kid), homes with every wall covered in tv's. My daughters tells the class "We are entering another Great Dilemma (believe she meant Depression- but Dilemma works) and we're all going to live like in Little House on the Prairie." Hmmm.

    but inter-generational warfare will be an even bigger deal. . .

    I think that JHK described it this way, younger people are going to tell the Baby Boomers to "Crawl away f---kers and die."

    Older people feel the same way. My sister, an Xer, once said that following the Baby Boomers is like following a herd of elephants. Everything consumable has been consumed, and there's nothing left but piles of crap to clean up.

    However...at the root of the problem is population. The greenest thing your parents could have done was not have kids, so don't judge them too harshly.

    + 5
    (To the original post. I have no idea where this will end up)

    I saw this graphic on CNBC the other day. I looked for it online, but couldn't find it. Mish posted it today.

    Look at Citibank...

    It's market value today vs. market value in 2007.

    Interesting coincidence: Two years ago, in January, 2007, you could have bought a barrel of oil for $55 and one share of Citibank stock for $55.

    Today, oil closed at $46, down at a -9%/year rate (a percentage decline of 16%), while Citibank closed at $3.47, down at a -138%/year rate (a percentage decline of 94%).

    I want some Tarp!

    Did you all see that NYT photo of Pres. Obama sitting with congressional leaders to talk about the latest bailout/"stimulus" package? The caption was (hilariously) "Confidence in the Economy".

    How about (more honestly now)
    "No Confidence in the Economy"
    "Not Confident at All About the Economy"
    "Confident but not About the Economy"
    "Confident About Everything Except the Economy"

    New Way To Produce Hydrogen Discovered


    Three of the aluminum clusters produced hydrogen from water at room temperature. "The ability to produce hydrogen at room temperature is significant because it means that we did not use any heat or energy to trigger the reaction," said Khanna. "Traditional techniques for splitting water to produce hydrogen generally require a lot of energy at the time the hydrogen is generated. But our method allows us to produce hydrogen without supplying heat, connecting to a battery, or adding electricity. Once the aluminum clusters are synthesized, they can generate hydrogen on demand without the need to store it

    I must say this sounds intriguing and I'll be waiting to see if can reproduce the results after it's published. For the time being, I'm skeptical. It instantly makes me think of the Cold Fusion fiasco.

    Do post more of this topic when you come across it.


    That fiasco is more about politics than physics.

    The blind spot in this case is the fact that we don't have a 'Theory of Everything' yet. What don't we know ?

    Regardless a breakthrough in and of itself won't help, and may even hurt.

    Even if the breakthrough were adaptable quickly enough to "make a difference," it would delay any world wide reckonning with the limits to infinite growth within a finite system. I'm intrigued with the article, but I'm also recognizing that it wouldn't be the best thing for our predicament. It'll just slough off yet another problem onto a future generation.


    theantidoomer From your link:

    This research was supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

    This is probably more important than the scientific work itself.

    DARPA is pulling strings on BlackLight Power.

    There was a time, when I was a kid, that the gov./military was the only entity that had a computer.

    See a pattern ?

    The War Machine gets first dibs on any technology because of it's funding capabilities. The civilian will get the trickle-down, maybe.

    Also...the military has been known to fund really stupid things that never actually pan out. Just in case. Millions of dollars of taxpayers' money went to fund psychic research...just in case Miss Cleo really could track submarines or locate missile silos.

    I think that's a good thing, though. They can afford the research that will almost certainly fail, and so would never be able to get private funding. But if it works...

    How do define pan out ?

    Weather you can buy the applied results in the form of a household device at the Wal-Mart ? Or maybe be how many people can be killed and leave every other object untouched ?

    I remember the Discovery programs of the mid '90's with the Russians demonstrating various abilities that are generally placed under the label psychic.

    It was those abilities that were identified as potential national security threats.

    SRI's remote viewing program was developed as a result. Experiments were conducted under scientific methodology. Results were analyzed and found to be statistically significant.

    I'd call that panning out. But I wouldn't use that as the sole criteria of whether it was stupid or not.

    Far from my knowledge base but this sounds like research for a specialized fuel cell. I also suspect it's not about producing energy on a commercial scale. Notice they say nothing about the energy requirements to make those very special and unique aluminum molecules. Obviously they don't exist in nature...hard to survive in this world if water reacts so with you. But interesting enough for us gadget geeks out here.

    We alway knew that someone would be able to violate the second law of thermodynamics just in time to save industrial society.

    What does "sarconol" mean?

    No, don't be fooled, it's just normal research chemistry, people looking for a grant from some sucker so they can continue, the 2nd law isn't broken (for once!).

    Energy has to be provided to make the aluminium clusters and they are left poisoned with the hydroxyl group which has to be removed in some way - they don't know how yet! - so at present it isn't a catalyst it is a one way reaction with prepared chemicals!

    There are many ways to make hydrogen from water, all require more energy in than you finally get back at some stage.

    Loading up at a filling station with a big block of aluminium with pre-embedded energy (or something similar) to generate hydrogen from water when needed sounds a lot safer than loading up with hydrogen itself which is very dangerous stuff when mixed with air.

    Sarconol is the TOD fluid/substance that contains sarcasm - if you write something sarcastic try putting /sarcasm at the end so people are sure.

    Thanks X...confirms my suspicions. And thanks for the sarconol explanation. Thought it was just another point I slept thru in org chem class.

    Sarcasmic ethanol, if you will.

    Hello TODers,

    Special zones urged for people who sleep in RVs, cars in Venice

    .."The community has been going ballistic," Rosendahl said. "They can't park their own cars. Some of the folks who live in their cars and in campers defecate and urinate outside and create other issues of quality of life and health."

    ..Residents complain that some RV occupants defecate in alleys, party into the wee hours, and dump waste into gutters and storm drains.
    The civic leaders need to set up sound humanure recycling practices and training classes so that they don't have to worry about an outbreak of disease and/or cholera. This will only get worse as we go postPeak, IMO.

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

    Hello TODers,

    [3-page PDF Warning]

    World fertilizer prices begin to move higher
    Weekly Fertilizer Review for Jan. 23, 2009

    Fertilizer prices have confirmed a move higher on international markets this week, as cutback in production have finally reduced supplies in line with demand as farmers around the world begin booking supplies for spring...
    Of course, there are other weblinks predicting that prices are still headed down, but I think that is in much smaller market geographies where the wholesalers are still trying to move inventory bought much earlier.