DrumBeat: January 28, 2009

Tanaka gears up for 'double challenge'

The double challenge of cheaper oil and a global recession is to ensure enough is spent on new sources of fossil fuel and to grab the opportunity to get greener supplies, Nobuo Tanaka, the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA) said today.

Oil at near $40 a barrel has slowed investment in oil projects, he told Reuters, raising the possibility of a supply shortfall once demand resumes.

"The current price level has a negative impact on investment in new oilfields," Tanaka said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

"We are concerned about slowdown, slippage, cancellation of projects. When demand comes back, we may have a supply crunch," He added.

OPEC chief sees supply cuts enforced, demand weak

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - OPEC is expected to have fully delivered on its pledged supply curbs by the end of this month, said the group's Secretary-General on Wednesday, but a weak economy would continue to erode demand for fuel.

Abdullah al-Badri told reporters at the World Economic Forum in Davos that even an oil price of $50 a barrel was still too low to encourage investment in new supply. Oil was trading around $42 on Wednesday.

OPEC Optimism Over Production Cuts Jars With PetroLogistics

(Bloomberg) -- OPEC Secretary General Abdalla el- Badri said the group may achieve its new output quotas in full before the end of the month, even as tanker-tracking estimates suggest otherwise.

Shell Seeks to Sell Third Forties Crude Cargo Stored on Vessel

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc offered to sell a third cargo of North Sea Forties crude in as many days from a supertanker that’s been storing the oil off the U.K. since December.

Shell offered 600,000 barrels of Forties loading between Feb. 7 and Feb. 14 at Scapa Flow from the vessel Oliva at a discount of $1.60 to the cost of March forward prices, said two people who saw the offer in the Platts trading window. The crude is being offered on a ship-to-ship basis, meaning it will be loaded directly from the seller’s vessel onto the buyer’s.

That’s the third cargo of Forties from the 2 million-barrel Oliva Shell has offered this week. It sold 600,000 barrels to Vitol Group on Jan. 26 and Jan. 27.

Mexico's Pemex expects wider loss in 2008

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's state oil company Pemex said on Tuesday it expected its net loss in 2008 to be "significantly greater" than its 2007 results due to the sharp drop in oil prices in the fourth quarter.

Pemex did not provide an estimate of its expected loss in a statement filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, but it comes as the company has been struggling with sliding oil production due to falling yields from the giant Cantarell field.

Pemex looking away from US deepwater following reform

MEXICO CITY: Mexican state oil company Pemex does not need to consider E&P operations on the U.S. side of the Gulf of Mexico maritime border for the time being, company CEO Jesús Reyes Heroles told correspondents in response to a BNamericas question.

Pemex in the past was invited to participate in joint ventures in US waters but was waiting to see what changes last year's energy reform would bring.

Mexican Economy: Does What Happens in Mexico, Stay in Mexico?

Approximately 40% of the Mexican government budget is financed by oil exports and 32% of those exports come from the Cantrell field. In December, Pemex, the state owned oil company announced that production from the Cantarell field fell 33%, twice the official estimate. As a result, the government is devoting more money to fighting drug cartels and the main source of financing is disappearing more rapidly than expected.

Pemex Sells $2 Billion of 10-Year Bonds in U.S.

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleos Mexicanos, the state-owned oil company, sold $2 billion of 10-year notes in the U.S., a month after the Mexican government began a wave of emerging- market debt issuance by tapping international markets.

Petrobras Shuns ‘Expensive’ Dollar Bond Market

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil’s state-controlled oil producer, put off plans to sell bonds because the cost for borrowing on international markets is “too expensive,” Chief Executive Officer Jose Sergio Gabrielli said.

Canadian oil drilling seen dropping 21%

CALGARY, Alta -- Canadian oil and gas drilling could fall 21% this year on slowing petroleum demand and low commodity prices, the Petroleum Services Association of Canada said on Wednesday.

Cyclone Dominic Shuts about Half of Australian Oil Output

A cyclone off western Australia has shut down nearly half of the country's oil output, but some operators said output was likely to resume by Wednesday as the storm rapidly weakens.

Oil and gas firms operating off Australia's northwest coast, including Woodside Petroleum Ltd, BHP Billiton Ltd , Santos Ltd and Apache Corp, have in total suspended 218,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil production since Sunday -- accounting for about 45 percent of Australia's daily oil output.

ConocoPhillips, Valero, Slash Refinery Production

(Bloomberg) -- ConocoPhillips, the second largest U.S. refiner, expects refinery utilization rates near 80 percent during the first-quarter due to planned turnarounds and hydro- skimming economics.

Valero Energy Corp., the largest U.S. refinery, said yesterday average utilization rates for its fluid catalytic cracking units, which help make gasoline, are between 70 and 75 percent of capacity.

“I think they are smart business people,” said Peyton Feltus, president of Randolph Risk Management Inc. in Dallas. “Demand is down. Refiners have gotten a profitable crack spread back by reducing capacity, so why ramp up and ruin the market that they have worked hard to improve?”

Petrobras is ‘Best Positioned’ for Oil Rebound, Goldman Says

Goldman wrote in a note that Petrobras will continue to increase volumes organically at a “very competitive mid-single digit rate.”

Kenya: Oil marketers raise fresh alarm over fuel shortage

The move comes after biting fuel shortages experienced last month in which many motorists saw it as a ploy by oil marketers to hoard the commodity with the intent of hiking prices during the Christmas holidays.

Industry insiders, however, could not explain what was happening then, but it eventually emerged that in addition to the inefficient delivery system run by the Kenya Pipeline Company, the Government had in October hired a broke oil firm – Triton — to import the December supplies on behalf of the industry, but did not deliver.

Pakistan - Small dams no substitute for large ones: seminar told

“It is a tragedy that in the midst of a global energy and food crisis we are trying to reinvent the wheel without proper information. The reality on the ground is that Pakistan currently has 68 small dams with an average capacity to irrigate 8,500 acres of land. None of these dams produces electricity. Moreover, there are no sites for these dams in NWFP, Sindh and south Punjab,” he said.

A few dams, he added, could be built in northern Punjab though they would not meet agricultural water needs of the country and would certainly not produce a single unit of electricity. He said Pakistan needed three to four large dams of the size of Kalabagh or Tarbela to overcome the water and energy crisis and ensure food security.

An aftermarket haunting

In 2006, gas prices climbed to the $3 range and caused many in the aftermarket to see slowing sales trends as spending patterns and driving habits started to shift. The psychological shock of gas prices crossing the $3 barrier put in motion an extended period of declining miles driven (as shown in Figure 1), with year over year declines in 22 of 31 months from April 2006 until October 2008, with 12 months of consecutive declines since November 2007.

In hindsight, we think what began as a temporary deferral of automotive maintenance and repair services has perhaps led to a more permanent shift in pattern. Discretionary categories, such as truck running boards and lights, experienced an even more pronounced slowdown, followed by a decline in demand for such products as washes and waxes.

Plastic power

A startup has a new solar technology so light and malleable that it could charge your laptop - or light up a skyscraper.

Former railroad administrator bullish on Amtrak

MERIDIAN, Miss. (AP) - Former federal railroad administrator Gil Carmichael is bullish on the future of passenger rail service in the United States.

Carmichael, FRA leader under the first President Bush, tells Meridian television station WTOK that thanks to the energy crisis and gasoline prices skyrocketing, ridership increased on Amtrak significantly.

Organic food sales growth slows

LONDON/CHICAGO (Reuters) -- As the recession drives consumers to cut costs, their commitment to organic food has been tested. Although sales growth has slowed, sales haven't dropped - yet. How green are our wallets?

Obama's Fuel Economy Follies

Politicians want you to pay more when you drive. They just won't admit it.

Gore: Economy must spur action on warming

WASHINGTON - Former Vice President Al Gore is urging Congress not to be sidetracked by the current financial crisis and to take "decisive action" this year to reduce the heat-trapping gases responsible for global warming.

Gore, scheduled to appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday, planned to tell lawmakers that a bill capping greenhouse gas emissions is needed if the United States is to play a leading role in negotiations for a new international climate treaty.

Graduation "Speech" to the Class of 2099 Has Important Message about Global Warming

I can't be here in person to address you, since I passed into oblivion long ago. But as a member of the graduating class of 1971 at this esteemed university on a hill, I wanted to leave you with a brief message -- from the past to the future -- about global warming and climate change.

As the class of 2099, you are about to enter the 22nd Century in a few more months, and you will bring with you not only your Tufts experience but also your career expectations and personal anxieties as citizens living on a planet in the midst of a Long Emergency. I'm sure you've heard this term a lot these past four years -- "The Long Emergency" that writer James Howard Kunstler wrote about almost 100 years ago -- but you should know that in my days as a student we never used the phrase. We had not even heard of it yet!

Obama's high-wire electric act

To justify taking homes and farms to build the Interstate highway, President Eisenhower cited a security need: Military vehicles must move fast in case of war. Now President Obama, citing a need to curb global warming, wants new transmission lines across America to carry electricity from carbon-free energy sources. Will he also use federal muscle to take people's land, even wilderness?

The question hangs like a sparking high-tension wire over Mr. Obama's plans to plow $11 billion – part of his economic stimulus – into a "smart grid," which is critical to his ambitious goal to curb fossil fuel use by 2020.

Even without a need to help renewables transmit electrons, the nation's electric grid needs an upgrade. Its structure hasn't changed much from the days of Thomas Edison. Blackouts, such as the big one in 2003 that left 50 million people in the dark, are increasing. Its 164,000 miles of lines and 9,200 generating plants are ill-equipped to accept power from small-scale sources such as wind, geothermal, and biomass.

Yet Obama wants to double renewable energy within three years and bring it "to every corner of our nation." Without smashing through local resistance and environmental concerns to new transmission lines, he's unlikely to reach his goal.

Engineers give U.S. infrastructure poor grades

CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. roads, airports, schools, levees, dams, and other infrastructure are in overall poor shape and require a $2.2 trillion investment to bring them up to par, an engineering group said on Wednesday.

The American Society of Civil Engineers gave infrastructure a grade of "D" as U.S. President Barack Obama seeks $825 billion in extra government spending and tax cuts to ease the economic crisis.

Infrastructure earned the same dismal grade in 2005, but the group's estimated five-year price tag to fix it rose by $600 billion to $2.2 trillion.

Unitil gets an earful from angry residents left without power

FITCHBURG - Infuriated consumers delivered hours of angry testimony yesterday, asking state officials to consider banning Unitil from doing business here and accusing the power company of failing them in its handling of a massive outage after a December ice storm.

Friction over Edison rate hike

How's this for bad timing? As the economy keeps tanking, and as tens of thousands of people are losing their jobs, state regulators are preparing to vote on a rate hike that could grant Southern California Edison Co. more than $1 billion in additional ratepayer cash over the next three years.

Palm Oil to Rebound on Demand, Indonesia’s Manggabarani Says

(Bloomberg) -- Crude palm oil should recover to as much as $700 a metric ton this year on increased demand, according to Achmad Manggabarani, the head of plantations policy in Indonesia, the world’s largest producer.

“We are moving toward the equilibrium price” where supply balances demand at $600 to $700 a ton, Manggabarani, plantations director general at the Agriculture Ministry, said in an interview. The forecast compares with 1,800 ringgit ($499) a metric ton in Malaysia today and $560 in Rotterdam on Jan. 27.

State Farm to leave Florida property market

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Jan 27 (Reuters) - State Farm Insurance Co said on Tuesday that it would leave the Florida property insurance market within two years because it cannot raise premiums high enough to offset the hurricane risks.

The privately held company has been battling state insurance regulators for more than a year over proposed rate hikes that State Farm said it needed in Florida's hurricane-rattled property and casualty market.

New York City fears return to 1970s

NEW YORK (Reuters) - While many U.S. cities worry that their economies are deteriorating to the level of the 1930s Great Depression, New York City fears reliving a more recent decade that features strongly in city lore.

The 1970s were a low point in city history as a fiscal crisis almost pushed it into bankruptcy, crime rates soared, and homeless people crowded sidewalks as public services crumbled.

Almost a million people fled New York's Mean Streets during the decade for the safer, more stable suburbs, a population decline that took more than 20 years to reverse.

Cardiff women are worst offenders for binning unworn clothes

The equivalent in carbon emissions of all homes in Wales is produced by throwing away unworn clothes, says a survey.

OPEC Calls for Curbing Oil Speculation, Blames Funds

(Bloomberg) -- OPEC wants U.S. regulators to curtail oil trading by hedge funds and speculators who helped make last year the most volatile in crude oil markets.

Abdalla el-Badri, secretary-general of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, is seeking rules to “limit the level of speculation” by investors who buy oil without planning to use it. Oil surged 46 percent in the first half of 2008 to a record $147.27 only to plunge by the end of the year, prompting OPEC to make its biggest ever supply cuts.

“OPEC has repeatedly called for the need to reduce the role of excessive speculative activity in the market,” el-Badri, who will attend this week’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, said in an e-mailed response to questions. “Today, it is impossible to know who is actually buying and selling oil futures.”

Venezuela’s 2008 China Oil Shipments Miss Target, Data Show

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela petroleum shipments to China fell short of President Hugo Chavez’s target of 400,000 barrels a day in 2008, according to customs data.

December shipments of crude and fuel oil were as much as about 168,000 barrels a day, according to Bloomberg calculations based on Chinese Customs General Administration data.

Venezuela is seeking to boost trade with China to reduce reliance on the U.S. market. Venezuela’s failure to reach its announced goals for shipments to China likely reflect the country’s inability to increase output, said Luisa Palacios, an analyst at Medley Global Advisors in New York.

Weak fuel demand seen expanding US refinery work

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. refiners are likely to take more processing units down for longer periods during spring maintenance as prolonged economic weakness squelches demand for gasoline and diesel fuel.

Waves of job losses and the housing market meltdown have hit driving and spending habits of Americans, and that is expected to keep a tight lid on once-soaring demand for oil products, prompting refiners to take the extra repair time.

Baker Hughes hikes profit, paints grim picture for 2009

In a news release before dawn, Baker Hughes Chief Executive Chad Deaton was more focused on a gloomy short-term forecast that prompted the layoffs, including about 200 of the roughly 7,300 local workers.

“Looking forward, the outlook for 2009 has continued to deteriorate,” Deaton said. “The global economic recession, lower oil prices, and reduced access to credit will negatively impact customer spending globally. Many of our international customers are trimming their exploration plans.”

Exxon Plant Prepares for Possible Strike, Enterprise Reports

(Bloomberg) -- Exxon Mobil Corp., the largest oil company, is preparing to keep its Beaumont, Texas, refinery operating if negotiations with a labor union result in a strike at midnight Jan. 31, the Beaumont Enterprise reported.

Local and national union workers are negotiating with refiners, the newspaper said. One contract is for about 2,400 refinery workers at Exxon, Valero Energy Corp., Total Petrochemicals and Motiva Enterprises LLC, the newspaper reported.

Total bids $500 mln for UTS in oil sands drive

LONDON/CALGARY (Reuters) - French oil major Total SA has made an unsolicited C$617 million ($502 million) takeover bid for Canada's UTS Energy Corp, taking advantage of weak asset prices to try and expand in the oil sands industry.

Shares in companies focussed on Canada's oil sands have collapsed in the past year after operating costs soared and oil prices fell, squeezing margins and forcing many companies to delay projects.

Total says may delay Joslyn oil sands project

LONDON (Reuters) - France's Total said it may delay start-up of its Joslyn oil sands project in Canada, adding to a trend of companies reappraising and delaying plans in the light of lower oil prices and higher costs.

The oil sands industry enojyed a huge boom on the back of soaring oil prices in recent years, leading to a big hike in operating costs. Even before oil prices fell, some companies began to worry about long-term profitability.

Petro-Canada Reports Blast, Fire at Edmonton Refinery

(Bloomberg) -- Petro-Canada, the country’s second- largest oil refiner, said an explosion and fire occurred at its Edmonton, Alberta, crude oil refinery.

Shell to help harness Nigerian energy potential

LAGOS (Xinhua) -- Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCo) has said it has the technology to develop the integrated offshore and onshore gas projects necessary to harness Nigeria's full energy potential.

Chike Onyejekwe, managing director of SNEPCo, disclosed this in Abuja on Tuesday at the Offshore West Africa Conference taking place at the International Conference Center, reported the News Agency of Nigeria on Wednesday.

'Peak Oil in Latin America: Present and Future Perspectives for the Oil & Gas Markets'

Frost & Sullivan will host a live briefing on Tuesday, February 03, at 3:00 PM EST to provide industry participants an overview of key market trends in the Latin American Oil and Gas Markets.

Since 2003 we observed high oil prices (above USD$ 100 during 2008), that provide us with an excellent "laboratory" to understand the implications of the Peak Oil in Latin America. This situation obliged Latin American countries to increase investments in exploration and production activities, and also to increase investments in renewable energy and diversify their energy matrixes. Furthermore this scenario pushed towards petro-nationalism in countries such as Venezuela and Bolivia.

This analysis focuses on upstream and downstream activities, and how they could be impacted by energy policies in the different Latin American countries, driven by fears of the availability of fossil fuels, in a high price scenario. Highlights of the briefing include an overview on Peak Oil prices, different factors affecting prices, drivers & restraints of these market forecasts and trends.

South Korea: Refiners report worst sales for 2008

GS Caltex and S-Oil, two of the nation's major oil refiners, have reported some of the worst annual sales figures in their respective corporate histories.

The Future's So Bright I Gotta Wear Schadenfreude

There are prophets of hope. There are those who try avoid preconceptions, reading events as they happen. And there are the prophets of schadenfreude, that joy that only arises when someone else is suffering. These prophets have political handmaidens, too - cynics who would let the country fail to further their own political interests.

Then there's Homer Simpson, who agreed with his daughter Lisa that sometimes events have no point, no "moral," that sometimes they're "just a bunch of stuff that happened." I don't accept the Simpson Model of History, but I prefer it to that of those who seem to take pleasure in our rising tide of economic misery. Futurist Jamais Cascio calls this perspective "aspirational apocaphilia" and cited James Howard Kunstler as one of its leading proponents.

Salazar says limits needed on offshore drilling

WASHINGTON – Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Tuesday the expansion of offshore oil drilling should be worked out with Congress as part of a broad energy blueprint and not independent action by his department.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Salazar indicated the drilling plan the Bush administration left on his desk likely will be scrapped. It would open the entire Atlantic and Pacific coasts for drilling.

Wind Power hits economic storm

WASHINGTON – Wind power has seen historic growth and the blessing of President Barack Obama — but it's far from recession-proof.

The American Wind Energy Association reported Tuesday that the amount of electricity generated by wind turbines grew by 50 percent last year and 55 new manufacturing facilities were built to make turbine components.

But the association sees storm clouds ahead.

Hawaii's clean-car bill applauded

The Clean Cars Act, introduced by Sen. Mike Gabbard, chair of the Energy and Environment Committee, would require vehicles sold in Hawaii to dramatically increase the miles that they travel on a gallon of gas.

EU Proposes Extra EU1.25 Billion for Carbon Capture

(Bloomberg) -- European Union regulators proposed an extra 1.25 billion euros ($1.7 billion) in aid to companies that store carbon dioxide underground, expanding a push for investment to fight climate change.

Kerry Seeks Action on Climate Pact

WASHINGTON -- Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry said Tuesday that it was "not critical" for the U.S. to begin regulating power-plant emissions in advance of renewed talks toward a global climate-change treaty.

The Massachusetts Democrat will be an influential player in efforts to forge such a treaty and reshape U.S. policy on climate issues.

Climate change setting penguins on march to extinction: study

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The emperor penguin, the species popularized in modern culture by the 2005 movie "March of the Penguins," are at serious risk of extinction in parts of their range because of climate change, according to a new study published this week.

Obama's Green Snake Oil: The president continues to ignore the cost of his global warming plan.

The justification for a cap-and-trade system (or a carbon tax, which likewise aims to shift the economy away from fossil fuels by making them more expensive) lies not in the jobs it will "create," which will be more than balanced by the jobs it will destroy or forestall, but in the bad consequences it will prevent. Obama alluded to those in his speech, saying "the long-term threat of climate change...could result in violent conflict, terrible storms, shrinking coastlines, and irreversible catastrophe."

To know whether Obama's cap-and-trade proposal makes sense, we need to know how likely those outcomes are and how costly they would be. We also need to know how likely it is that his plan actually would prevent the dire results of which he warns and, crucially, at what cost.

Geo-engineering 'useful' against climate change: study

PARIS (AFP) – Massive, futuristic schemes to spur land and sea into sucking up greenhouse gases may help the fight against global warming but are no substitute for reducing the pollution itself, scientists said Wednesday.

Once dismissed as daft or dangerous, some of these "geo-engineering" projects can be of use in fending off the juggernaut of climate change, but only if they go hand-in-hand with cuts in carbon emissions, they warned.

EU unveils climate change blueprint

BRUSSELS (AFP) – The European Commission Wednesday called for 30 percent cuts in greenhouse gases for developed countries from 1990 among other steps it hopes will provide a blueprint for global talks in Copenhagen.

The EU executive also proposed 15-30 percent cuts from all but the poorest developing countries below "business as usual levels" as part of international measures it says are vital to combat climate change.

Top scientists warn of catastrophic rise in sea levels

Dr John Church told the committee a sea level rise of 80 to 90 centimetres by 2100 seems likely.

He says strong action now will not stop significant coastal disruption.

"We cannot prevent all sea level rise. We will have to adapt to some sea level rise," he said.

Wells Fargo Takes 4th-Quarter Loss on Wachovia Deal

Wells Fargo reported a $2.55 billion loss for its fourth quarter on Wednesday, as the bank’s profits were weighed down by mortgage assets it assumed when it took over Wachovia weeks ago.

Even before the worst of the financial turmoil last fall, Wells Fargo was praised by analysts as one of the best-run banks, having mostly shunned the excesses of risky lending made by its peers. Now, the bank said that its loss, amounting to 79 cents a share, arose from having built up $21.7 billion in reserves to protect against further losses. The majority of that was likely to come from Wachovia, which recorded an $11.2 billion loss for the quarter.

Troubled Times Bring Mini-Madoffs to Light

Their names lack the Dickensian flair of Bernie Madoff, and the money they apparently stole from investors was a small fraction of the $50 billion that Mr. Madoff allegedly lost of his clients’ savings.

But the number of other people who have been caught running Ponzi schemes in recent weeks is adding up quickly, so much so that they have earned themselves a nickname: mini-Madoffs.

Some of these schemes have been operating for years, and others are of more recent vintage. But what is causing them to surface now appears to be a combination of a deteriorating economy and heightened skepticism about outsize returns after the revelations about Mr. Madoff. That can scare off new clients and cause longtime investors to demand their money back, which brings the charade tumbling down.


Wells-Fargo is being spun as "good news." Since they beat estimates and won't need more bailout money.

Wells Fargo is like GE, they have ways to hide to bad news.

The U.S. wants to buy toxic assets from banks, it might decrease the value of the dollar since the government does not have enough tax income to pay for it.

Even Denninger said the market would kick-up big time, and the Yahoo headers are trumpeting the positive action.......but the markets only up 100 pts. A few months back we had 500-pt swings on any rumors or news. Now we have 200pt days with masses of bad news or "good" news.

In my view, it's all bad for the country, and so the market shouldn't get very excited about a financial bailout that may salvage banks but without customers borrowing they'll just be zombies at best.

Maybe that's what we'll be seeing all over for the next few years -- zombies. Not the much-discussed armed zombies coming for our homes, but zombie corporations and zombie banks fueled by a zombie gov't using zombie dollars. All will lack life and vigor, but none will be quite dead either.

Planning for basics like water
Even a course as drastic as Hansen's wouldn't eliminate warming, which means people must prepare to live in a warmer world.

"It is correct that we have to live with some climate change, and so we must plan for it and adapt to the changes in a way that is not disruptive," said Trenberth. "We are not planning adequately for the changes that are already emerging."

He expects water resources to be "one of the big pressure points on societies." So water managers, for example, will have to find ways to save water in times of plenty for use in times of drought, Trenberth said.

Engineering our way out?
Some scientists have suggested drastic solutions — geoengineering projects that include launching balloons that would release sulfates to mimic the cooling effects of volcanic dust.

Trenberth, for one, is "not a fan of geoengineering at all." First, he said, there's "the ethical question of who makes the decision to alter climate deliberately on behalf of all mankind and all nations, some of which may benefit from global warming — think of Siberia and Russia for instance."

"Secondly, any such endeavor has major uncertainties on whether it will work," he said.

Climate Change (and related policies) continue to want to surface here on TOD, a site nominally about Peak Oil (and its consequences.) Yes, the two areas of interest are obviously related, but one (AGW) is definitely more of a hot-button item for the (US) public for now, if for no other reason than the political hay to be sown and harvested by the deniers.

Nowhere - have you read the IPCC 4th assessment reports? The PDF files of the documents are all online. There is an overview of expect effects including hydrological, up until the end of the century. A common problem surfacing for the SW of North America, the SW portion of the Eurasian continent, and parts of Africa, South America, and Australia will be the expansion of the arid zones poleward. This will affect important agricultural regions.

The US has in place a program (even under Bush, though not well publicized) to assess the affects of AGW upon the US. Recently the program office released several reports:
I expect the Obama adminstration to do a more thorough and timely update to these assessments than the previous administration. Nevertheless, doing anything is a matter of building a consensus in Congress and that means highly compromised approaches.

Climate change has been much more effectively marketed than Peak Oil.

Exactly, climate change "science" is just marketing by another name.
People will make billions of dollars off of so called solutions to global warming.
Al Gore is one who will profit big time.

The reason that peak oil is not marketed is because oil companies have squelched it.
How do you make money off of peak oil? You need a solution to sell, which are all owned by the oil companies now since they bought the patents. When the time is right, they will sell us the new solution for mega bucks. People will have no choice at that point but to buy in at outrageous prices. Can you imagine the gas stations being turned into battery stations, run by the old oil companies, charging high prices because they own the rights to the technology?

Exactly, climate change "science" is just marketing by another name.

The reason that peak oil is not marketed is because oil companies have squelched it.

Gut-wrenching irony.

You need to go visit the Wizard.


That link is political hype.

Nowhere -

So every member nation of the United Nations sent their folks to participate in the IPCC studies, and they used a variety of computer models to approximate what had happened, and once that was done, they turned those models loose to project those changes into the future. They were wowed, but still had to issue a highly compromised report )due to politics) which did not even consider the impact of “positive” feedbacks which they knew would have some effect. That is not marketing.

If you oppose doing anything to try and mitigate the impacts projected by that report, why not make a little more sense and just say that there is no reason to do so since every single person using TOD, for whatever purpose, will be dead before those efforts begin to have any positive impact on the world’s climate ??

Boy - woody, you sure are in love with models. You should have been working for AIG or the big investment banks that spent many more millions on their models, which were 1,000 times less complex than so called "climate models." But, the financial models were uniform in their results - they all crashed and burned - which is exactly what you can do with all of the climate models.

Greed is the greatest source of personal bias. The financial models were made by the greedy for the greedy, enthusiasm all around. There is far more money for the propertied classes in continuing fossil-based BAU than there is in shutting it down, so greed is on the side of denial.

Jbunt -

I only pointed out two areas where modelling, as I referred to the extensive analyses, were used. I doubt that any offshore drilling project is done today without extensive computer analysis, and their models have been tweaked over time to be very accurate. That same type of analysis is what produced the analyses used in the IPCC report.

I doubt that the financial modelling would have had enough of the variables included, or they would have come to the same conslusions that they could have read about right here on TOD, in enough time to save most of their bacon, and drastically reduced the amount of mud on their collective faces.

I for one don't read TOD for updates on climate change. Personally I think the facts are far more clear for peak oil than AGW.

acquapura - I agree. Can we have a poll as to whether or not the site monitors should post these garbage stories for comments every day without fail. Or start a new sister site called the Climate drum for those that are enamored by predictions that the penquins will die - even though Antarctica is getting colder and has been increasing its ice mass for over 100 years. [do not even mention west Antarctica where underwater volcano's have laid down soot that MAY have warmed the surface by 1/10 of a degree Celsius, but there are NO reliable weather stations that would prove even that.]

If you don't like it here, feel free to find another site more to your taste.

So you are saying the massive dieoff of penguins isn't happening? Huh, you should let the penquins on Gough island know they aren't dying off - somebody hasn't told them.

You could just ignore the climate stuff - I mean, you clearly don't understand it, so why bother reading it?

post these garbage stories...even though Antarctica is getting colder and has been increasing its ice mass

You must have missed the BBC story a couple days back sketching out the pending collapse of the largest ice shelf yet in antarctica. And the line dropped into the story about how the scientists have found that their previous understanding that antarctica was getting colder was in fact incorrect.

Part of "The Problem" is considering pieces of it in silos.

cfm in Gray, ME

Sorry, Dryki. All they have is 'evidence'. That's not nearly good enough!

New evidence on Antarctic warming

"We have at least 25 years of data from satellites, and satellites have the huge advantage that they can see the whole continent," said Eric Steig from the University of Washington in Seattle.

"But the [land] stations have the advantage that they go back much further in time.

"So we combined the two; and what we found, in a nutshell, is that there is warming across the whole continent, it's stronger in winter and spring but it is there in all seasons."

Yeah, one could debate what is the meaning of "colder", "evidence" and "is".

Actually, I agree that the policy on ACC posts is in need of revision, but forgive me if I apply logic to the issue rather than lies and B.S., will you?

1. The policy here is supposedly to support your contentions with facts and analysis that are legitimate. Given that is impossible for a denier to do, one wonders why denialists are allowed to post. So, yes, I wish they would enforce the rules.

2. The long threads on ACC occur here *because of* illogical and/or dishonest and/or delusional denialists. We have to repeat over and over basic facts so it doesn't give the impression that what you whackos say is in any way connected to reality.

As an example, someone posted some name-dropping foolishness about some old geezer who had worked at NASA, claiming he'd been Hansen's boss and implying that made him an authority of some sort. Well, no crime in being old, but there is a crime in being out of touch and in NOT doing research but stating a supposedly scientific opinion on a the subject in question. All of this is very straightforward and logical, yet you yahoos trumpet this sort of crap all over the internet.

And it's a concerted effort. Either that story or one on the new Antarctic temps paper, I forget which was posted all over the internet. Over and over and over. Obviously the person(s) responsible were not just honestly communicating with people on a board they frequent. They made a concerted effort at setting up an Appeal to Authority fallacy.

That is dishonest.

You all are, as far as I'm concerned. You must be, because otherwise you are mind-numbingly stupid, and to say that would be impolite, so I'd rather not. (/s)

In sum, if all you whackos would quit spreading lies and B.S. all over the internet, things would be much quieter. The conversations would go largely like this:

A: OMG! Another ice shelf is going!
B: Yup.
A: That can't be good.
B: Nope.
A: Think I'll move off the coast.
B: Me, too.
A: And R, R, R, all locally.
B: Been there, doin' that.
A: Cheers.
B: Cheers.


Per my comments the other day re. staying focused. This hilights the danger of becoming a site about everything possibly related to energy. Basically, it becomes difficult to control. Not only are we having a debate about global warming here, but now we are having a debate about the debate. And look at me now posting about it! I am very interested in GW but right now I am scrolling down trying to going stuff about oil and NG, which is what i come to the drum for.


TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for "profound changes" in U.S. foreign policy on Wednesday, including giving up support for Israel, during an address to thousands of people in the western city of Kermanshah.

Ahmadinejad also demanded the U.S. apologize for 'crimes' committed against Iran; specifically, criticizing and trying to block their nuclear program.

Since when is it a "crime" to criticize another country?
People criticize the US every minute of every day.
IMO we should allow Iran to build all the nuclear plants they want.


President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a firebrand, a product of his age. However, he does not have as much power in the Iran as the President in the US. Also he speaks in Persian, and you always need to take his public proclamations in terms of who the audience is. He needs to maintain domestic hostility towards the US to maintain what popular support he has.

Given the history of US interference in the politics of Iran (or Persia as was) over the last hundred years, he has every right to criticize your country.

This is simply diplomacy, ME style.

He criticizes us, and then says that it is a crime for us to criticize him?
We should both have the right to criticize at will.

Try reading a few books like Naomi Klein's 'The Shock doctrine' (amongst many others) and then define what 'crime' means in terms of international relations.

As I said, this is diplomacy, at best coded references, at worst meaningless noise.

I suppose the "crime" part refers to the sanctions imposed on Iran for their legal right (NPT) to seek nuclear power. That should indeed render sanctions not legal, ie a crime.

Maybe Obama will cut a new deal with Iran for the US to supply nuclear plants in Iran.
We could trade nukes for oil and gas.
Then we can be there and monitor it.
The plants are not a problem, it is the weapons.

Well, that means first by-passing the Russians who are deep into Iranian nuke devlopement.

As far as I know, the IAEA has full access to the Iranian facilities.

And they quit their weapons program in 2003, as far as all these US intelligence agencies, 16 to be precise, are concerned.

BTW, now I think of it, why trade nuclear reactors for oil? Better pull up these at home, no?

Or maybe, overthrowing a legitimate democratically elected government to install our own "man" as dictator?

Or maybe, overthrowing a legitimate democratically elected government to install our own "man" as dictator?

The really bizarre thing about that was that we were doing it as a favor for the British, whose oil concession had been nationalized. Earlier they had asked Truman to do it, and he said no, it would be unethical. Then later, after the Iranians had kicked out British intelligence agents as a precaution, they came to Eisenhower, and claimed Mosaddeq was a commie, that did the trick.

Amazing - we can afford to throw trillions of dollars in futile efforts to solve our economic problems. And a simple apology for something that happened half a century ago would cost how much?

All any foreign politician needs to do to get revenge on a local enemy is denounce him as a "commie" to the CIA. Almost impossible charge to refute factually, and vey likely to result in ruin.

It wasn't a favor to the British; it was a passing of the imperial torch from the British. Before Mossadegh, Britain had a monopoly on Iranian oil. You better believe the US got a cut after 1954, and that the men who planned the coup weren't doing it for charity.

Ahmadinejad is perhaps not always the most eloquent possible defender of Iranian interests. On the other hand, the media here have gone out of the way to distort the Iranian position. One major example is the alleged quote on wiping Israel off the map. Do a little googling to find out the story there.

On the nuclear front, Iran is completely within its rights according to the NPT to develop nuclear power. Our own NSC released a report saying that they discontinued efforts at weapons in 2005 (I think it was), but even the charge that they were building them before that is entirely unproven. We know that there is a Middle Eastern country that does possess nuclear weapons, never signed the NPT and does not admit having them.

And of course there is a country that did sign the NPT and has completely violated it. It is continuing to upgrade and develop nuclear weapons (so-called bunker busters). Moreover, it and the rest of the nuclear club are supposed to be moving toward complete nuclear disarmament -- that was the premise and inducement behind getting the non-nuclear powers to sign the NPT (that plus the right to have peaceful nuclear power).

Moveover, Congress and Senate openly voted funds for destabilizing Iran. And there's no particular attempt to hide those efforts. And of course there's the pop tune. "Bomb, bomb, Bomb Iran." So who are the terrorists here?

Can one really blame Ahmadinejad?

While I am a severe critic of US policy towards Iran, I think there was more than one power game going on here. As I understood it, Ahmadinejad is really powerless under the current system of clerical rule. Now if you're a young war veteran like him, with many former comrades now running the Revolutionary Guards Corps, how would you go about seizing real power?

Both Bush and Ahmadinejad needed a state of war to seize war powers and rewrite their constitutions. They needed each other. Without Bush, Ahmadinejad is stuck in peacetime, in a global depression, with his failure to keep his promises to the poor for greater redistribution of wealth.

As for Iran, it will presumably increase its regional power no matter who its next president is, because it literally is the only country that can rebuild Mesopotamia, and its neighbors are all in worse shape.

Both Bush and Ahmadinejad needed a state of war to seize war powers and rewrite their constitutions.

While that was probably true for Bush, I don't think that describes Ahmadinejad, I think he is a true believer. He is hoping to server until the twelveth Imam reappears and relieves him of his job. In any case the Iranian president serves at the pleasure of the (clerical) revolutionary council, led by Ayotallah Khomenei. At this point he is struggling to be "chosen" by them for re-election this year. Our feeble attempts to destabilize the country will have no such effect, but to give political ammunition to the hardliners.

To be fair, the little bits of his list of things to apologize for were relatively modern. I can't say I disagree with them. But politically I don't think (any of the requested changes) are politically feasible.

As expected, Denninger is not happy with Obama's bailout plan.

Obama's administration is supposedly going to announce in the next few days a "good bank / bad bank" scheme to supposedly "take the bad assets" off bank balance sheets.

They are apparently going to do two things that will lead to severe longer-term problems for our economy and Treasury:

● They intend to use a model approach to valuation (as opposed to the market) AND

● They intend to assume in that model that the government can borrow very cheaply over a long period of time in that model.

He thinks there will be a huge but short-lived rally, followed by massive collapse.

Fed faces uphill battle to hold U.S. yields down
Reuters, Tuesday January 27 2009

The Federal Reserve faces an uphill battle to keep borrowing rates down if it decides to do so by buying U.S. government bonds. Keeping borrowing rates low is critical to efforts to stabilize the slumping U.S. economy. Analysts forecast another $2 trillion of Treasuries will be sold this year to pay for digging the United States out of the financial crisis -- which comes on top of $5.8 trillion of outstanding government debt and a prospect that has already forced Treasury yields well above their mid-December five-decade lows.

A sustained spike in longer-dated yields would translate into higher mortgage rates, which could demolish the already badly damaged housing market and perhaps turn the U.S. economy's deep recession into a depression. "Any Fed move to buy long-term Treasuries would have to be sizable, perhaps even larger than the $500 billion (mortgage backed securities) purchase program, in order to be effective in bringing long rates down," said Mustafa Chowdhury, managing director and head of interest rates research at Deutsche Bank Securities in New York. But the longer term costs of massive debt issuance could unleash forces beyond the central bank's control, some analysts warn.

"If you have a global loss of confidence in U.S. fiscal management there is nothing they (the Fed) can do to drive rates lower," said Howard Simons, strategist with Bianco Research in Chicago.

". . . a prospect that has already forced Treasury yields well above their mid-December five-decade lows."

US will keep bailouts going until the Fed runs dry, then currency will crash,
and wars will start. Final result is that everyone's IRAs and 401Ks will be worthless.
Then who knows what will happen to Social Security?
A few elite will save their money by shifting to other assets.

Oh Well! Retirement is over rated anyway......

"US will keep bailouts going until the Fed runs dry, then currency will crash."

Did you mean the Federal Reserve? No such thing as running dry. The Federal Reserve doesn't need a source of money, as they are THE source. If you could have more money simply by imagining it into existence, do you think you'd ever run dry?

Unfortunately I think the rest of your post is quite valid.

He's right, I'd say. All the people who predicted this are also in accord that you don't fix the problem by using more spending on credit/cash to unhealthy institutions and immoral corrupt people. This is obvious on every level.

It reminds me of a home repair that was literally a black hole sucking money. A plumber had poked a hole down into either the sewer line or an old septic tank. He decided to fix it by filling it. With concrete. Lots of concrete, in the end. (My rear end, that is!) Didn't fix the problem. Eventually he had to work a sort of patch over it... which is what I suggested in the first place since we couldn't tell how much of a hole there was.

This is exactly the same. And The People need to ask: why is it right to limit The People's ability to escape their their debts and allow their lives to be ruined by misfortune (yes, there are deadbeats, but they are not the subject here) while Wall Street and the banking industry are suffering from nothing more than their own arrogance and stupidity, but must be saved, and with bonuses to boot? All resulting in The People being screwed all over again?

Complexity is a problem. The degree of complexity is so great at this point in history that it is impossible for any one side to exert its primacy based purely on the facts. It is too easy for nefarious individuals to skew the conversation. I suggest there is great value in simplifying the situation in order to make it accessible to the average Person.

Perhaps something like this:

1. Clinton got rid of controls on investment banks.

2. They basically gambled with the money by putting lots of mortgages - good and bad - together in one set and selling them as good investments. However, there was no way to put a real value on these because they were of many different sizes and unknown reliability.

3. The banks told each other their bags of mortgages were worth... a LOT! But they didn't know where the homes were, who had bought them, or whether they could make their payments.Still, people bought them and stuffed the mortgage payments in their pockets. Until the mortgage payments stopped.

4a. They stopped because Greenspan built a bubble by keeping rates SO low, virtually anyone could buy a house with zero down and little income. Why did banks do this?
4b. The money was free because the interest rates from the gov't/Federal Reserve were so low. They figured they couldn't lose money. After all, how do you lose money on free money that you invest and get a return on? So, who cared if there were bad mortgages in there?
4c. Banks make their money off of fees much more so than interest because... they package up the mortgages and sell them to... everyone else. (See above.) They don't care if it's a good loan or not.
4d. The BuCheney administration enforced the law about as well as you enforce your diet/marriage vows and resist a few beers/a good steak/the proverbial nobody-would-ever-know tryst with a stranger.

5. The New Economy - all the "growth" since '01 - was nothing but Monopoly money, as described above. How else did Americans (as individuals, not the government) collectively go into NEGATIVE savings during this Great New Economy? Because it was fake, and it all went to the wealthy while you used your home as an ATM machine to pay for a life you couldn't afford. But, you were going to be able to always have a job, always have increasing home values, and always be able to use your home as an ATM until your kids were grown and you could stop borrowing and start saving. Your home would be most of your retirement in the end. Because this was The New, Never-ending Economy.

6. Then energy prices went through the roof and it got even harder to cover monthly bills. This caused some of the defaults.

7. But the BIG problem came when those mortgages all started resetting at the same time at much, much higher interest rates. Ah, refi! Well, maybe if the bank still had your mortgage. But it sold it to Sven the investment banker in Sweden, or to a school district in a state clear across the country. They liked that big payment. They were not interested in your refi. Besides, they had no way to even know you wanted to refi. Neither did the bank. They weren't sure where your mortgage was in some cases.

8. The credit crunch started in earnest as more mortgages failed, the Monopoly money slowed down and nobody knew where all the bad loans were, exactly. It went something like this,

Bill: "Joe, lend me some money on these mortgage... thingies."
Joe: "Bill, how many bad loans you got in that there mortgage thingy?"
Bill: "Well, now, Joe, you know as well as I do I've got no flippin' idea!"
Joe: "Well, then, Bill, you know as well as I do you are SOL."
Bill: "Grrr! Aaargh! But I'm TOO BIG TO FAIL!"
Joe: "Tell me about it."

9. All fell down and went boom. Well, an awful lot did.

10. The gov't saw this coming, but didn't tell you. ("We've been working on this for weeks, months.") Then they blackmailed congress by telling them - Paulson himself, no less - there would be riots and martial law if they didn't pass the bailout with:
- zero control from Congress
- zero control oversight from the judicial system (i.e. above the law)
- complete and total secrecy
- the power to bail out foreign companies/governments

11. And all that money went to rich bankers. And changed nothing. How could it? How do you stimulate the economy by using Monopoly money to give to rich people to pay for their Monopoly money debts that they created? Since the wealth disparity is now as high as it's ever been (that means the rich are basically keeping all their money and all real income is going to them - remember, you have no savings and your Home ATM is gone...), how does giving them billions more help? Plus, are they going to go out and buy 110,000,000 loaves of bread? No. You would, though, if you had any money. And you would be spending the money for real stuff from real people, who would do the same... and stimulate the economy.

12. Put your head between your legs and kiss your butt goodbye, because we got a lot more stupidity coming where that came from. Tarp II is on the way. Or, get active. Talk to your neighbors. Talk to your reps. Start a velvet revolution where The People's voice is THE loudest voice.

13. Buy some tools. Learn to grow some food. If you don't have some land, get some or become part of a food co-op of CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Get back in touch with family and friends. Re-locate if doable to be with such people. Look into joining or starting a transition town in your area. Look into starting or joining a relocalization movement in your area. Look into Do-It-Yourself windmills, solar energy systems, etc.

14. Don't forget: climate change is real, is now, and is going to be rough. Plan accordingly. Stop using any energy you don't absolutely need. Buy local. Buy organic/renewable. Walk. Ride bikes. Take the bus. Go to your City council meetings and start the changes. (See #13.)

One might want to stop at #12, modified for your audience. But we need to talk to the vast bulk of the nation that doesn't get nor cares about CDOs, EROEI, etc. Apply the KISS principle.

I will likely put this on my blog soon, so suggested modifications to the above are welcome.


Jobs malaise starts to spread

Slashed industry budgets hit drilling activity in Alberta last year and are continuing to reduce activity, cutting the amount of work for oil field services companies. Already, the number of workers employed by drilling, both directly and indirectly, is down by 6,000 from last year at this time, according to Michael Mazar, an oil field services analyst with BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc.

Another 5,000 drilling-related jobs could vanish by summer. “The numbers will add up fast and quietly,” Mr. Mazar said.


Sweet! stop the drilling, and move on the other forms of energy.

Nowhere -

Well, at the very least, quit using computer modeling to determine where to drill - that is too much like the modeling used to approximate climate change.

If you oppose one, surely you oppose the other as well, right?

The modeling used for drilling is much better than the modeling used for climate change.
For instance, the models used to predict how fast the Arctic ice cap would melt were wrong. Much too optimistic. We thought the Arctic would be ice free in summer in thirty or forty years, but now it looks like five years.
You understand, this wasn't just the published models that wouldn't get the scientists accused of alarmism, it was their private models that were wrong, that underpredicted ice melt.
Every year the ice volume goes down. Less area, or less thickness, and this year it may be both a smaller area and also thinner ice.

Tell that to my brother-in-law working in the servicing of N. Alberta gas fields.

Windpower is turning out to be more expensive than planned and due to the credit crisis new projects lack funding:


If you offer them higher electric bills that are green, they might vote Republican, for more green in their wallets.


guys, can anyone take a look at that link and give an opinion about the technologies there? some batteries claim to be 10x better than current li-ion.

I didn't have time to read the whole thing, but it looks like an interesting source.

It is all to easy to get prematurely excited about a given battery tech. To be useful as a main store of transportation energy, a battery will have to meet several other criteria:

lifetime: How many charge/discharge cycles, can it take? does it age? Is it sensitive to environmental factors, say overheating, or freezing?

reliability: Will only a very tiny fraction of manufactured units fail in the field?


safety: Does it have a catastrophic failure mode? If it worked fine in 99% of vehicles, but caused 1% to be destroyed by fire, that wouldn't be acceptable.

I think establishing these criteria for any particular tech will take a long time.

It's a pretty good summary of the state of things and hoped-for progress over the next few years. I think some of the mid-range technologies (2 or 3x current laptop batteries) will be commercial within 5 years. The most impressive anode numbers are for nanotech materials that are still on a lab scale (less than a gram). No doubt some of them won't work out, or will be prohibitively expensive, but there are enough different promising chemistries being studied that I'm hopeful for some breakthroughs.

The most impressive anode numbers are for nanotech materials that are still on a lab scale (less than a gram) ... commercial within 5 years

Fantasy !

And we should *NOT* bet our future on unproven technologies !

Best Hopes for plans with only proven, mature technologies,


Come on, Alan.

We do owe it to ourselves to use well-established tools that work, but we also need to be exploring and researching to find new combinations as well. Our future will have some new and a lot of old in it. Even applying the older tools might hinge on a new approach.

We have Fantasy for a reason, and it can serve us well.


Fantasy does not serve us well if it distracts resources and attention away from what can work to pie-in-the-sky imaginings, and if it hold out dreams of continuing BAU without a hiccup. Yes, time and tech marches on, but let's place our bets on the somewhat tried-and-true.

We have a lot of bets to place. Many should be conservative, but not all of them.

I'm clearly on record advocating for the old and durable tools, and backing Alan's Electric Rail is one of them, even if it's one of the biggest structural investments we could take on, and its potential for monopolization or gov't mismanagement are great, daunting spectres as well..

But what we 'Fancy' might just as well be a revived agrarian New England, or some fine blend of Simple Electrical tools, Simple Economic Structures, and Simpler local politics.. the term Fantasy is a synonym with Imagine, and I fear we're so afraid of the coming storm, that we're beating our imaginations out of the process, just when we need them the most.


"Imagination is more important than Knowledge" Einstein

For PLANNING PURPOSES I advocate making plans with existing, proven tech and then modifying those plans to recognize advances as they develop and prove themselves.

I see all sorts of plans with timelines for all sorts of "vaporware" tech. Experience has taught me that technological advances (outside computer chips) do NOT come on-line in a smooth timeline as predicted.

The segway blind-sided me, I did NOT expect it ! It is NOT the big deal promised but it works and has a small niche in the future.

However, I would have opposed a plan that hypothesized a segway and claimed that this new invention would do ALL of things that the segway inventor/promoter claimed it would do.

Yes the segway works, no it is NOT the revolution promised.

IMHO, one should not "plan" on new inventions, but modify plans AFTER new tech, such as segways, has proven itself (or not).

Best Hopes for Skeptical Realism,


Regarding the article on the Schadenfreude of people like Kunstler above: Is there anyone else on this board who is sick and tired of having to face this kind of ad hominem innuendo from delusional optimists who simply refuse to face stark physical, geological, mathematical/fiscal realities out of a will to denial?

Refusal is a way of coping. Most would be on the ground in a fetal position screaming if they had a real grasp on the fragile state of their current position.

But isn't it reasonable to ask people to have a little bit of courage and maturity? Especially if they fancy themselves as having such in the first place?

I would hope so, but observation does not confirm people want to face this with any courage or maturity.

Man is a rational animal who always loses his temper when he is called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason. -- Oscar Wilde

on the contrary it seems 'man' as a species acts first. then uses the neocortex to rationalize what they already did. This was discovered in the first few decades of the 1900's when propaganda and advertising appealing to the more primitive parts of the brain were leaps and bounds more effective then appealing to the neocortex by just plain listing the technical differences of product a over b or why you should hate people x.

Ha ha. The not-so-subtle subtle argument, eh? I'll grant your position (or more likely a less dramatic version) may be correct, but definitely not because of irrational posts like this.

Hey Phil,

It's frustrating but there's not much that can really be done about it. I find that most people who are "denialists," are just myopic with their understanding of the world. If all they know is their own little part of the world, they'll not understand the "outside" forces at play in their life and you're apt to get a veiwpoint that doesn't accurately reflect reality. The more one learns and informs themselves of the various dependencies within our system, the more they will realize that it's utterly unsustainable. Ignorance is bliss. Most people in today's world have some inkling that something pretty wrong is going on. Making someone who has this inkling want to know what it is could be pretty challenging.

You can lead lemmings to Peak Oil awareness, but you can't make them open their eyes.


Most people are now aware of peak oil, however, most do not believe in the total picture.
Given time, they will believe in it sooner or later.

But then again, some people still do not believe in the holocaust.

Or anthropogenic climate change.

The PO denialists will learn soon enough.....You may not believe in Peak Oil, but Peak Oil believes in you!

I am just as sick and tired of the Kunstler types who want to see the world burn for their own pleasure. Let's put them all in the same room and lock the door.


remember this?

Writing this in April of ‘99, I believe that we are in for a serious event. Systems will fail, crash, seize up, cease to function. Not all systems, maybe only a fraction, but enough, and enough interdependent systems to affect many other systems. Y2K is real. Y2K is going to rock our world.

Our Fearless Prophet of Doom.

appears our friends above didn't even read the article:

Some of the points Kunstler makes are valid: We should consume less. We should consider the long-term effects of peak oil.

He's not writing about us, he's writing about K, his particular proclivities. Jeremiah was a bullshi**er.

Like his hating arabs.

Like his making fun of the poor "white trash" and "nascar morons."

When people actually begin to suffer and die, where will he be?

Ladeling out soup? Or signing books?

OMG Kunstler is spot on and this poor deluded character has missed the boat. JHK's main point is people have to be responsible, face the truths, and change behaviors. That our pathetic modern culture has trumped our educational system and our ability for critical thinking we've simply created a culture of mental midgets whose squalid lives are the poster child for mental depression and the rapid swirl at the bottom of the flushed lives toilet bowl. Illegitimacy rates running 50%-70% for Caucasions-Hispanics-Blacks. Climbing drop out rates, Skyrocketing incarceration rates. All exacerbated by the greed factor and the crass consumerism at the top of the food chain.
In many ways people choose to be stupid poor white trash, nascar morons, hip hop gansters or greedy insensitive pigs. Mostly because they chose to take the self centered immediate gratification path. A life that lacks discipline, responsibilty, compassion, and awareness.
Two weeks ago I was working on a volunteer Good Samaritan program that was providing heat subidies for those that were about to lose their utilities because of payment delinquencies. A middle aged gal game bouncing in with the usual tale of woe. Well dressed and in a hurry to get home to watch the tube. She was complaining about the cold and that it should be illegal for the Utility company to cut her off. I inquired as to whether or not she had winterized at all. NO, Turned your thermostat down? Well yes from 82F to 76F. She thought that was a huge sacrifice. I asked her if that had caused her to wear more clothing. She indicated that she was now wearing sweat bottoms instead of gym shorts and felt that was enough sacrifice. As I drove home to my 67F/65F night temp home just shaking my head...are we supposed to continue to subsidize this type of behavior? How can we survive perpetual stupidity. Most of the other applicants were single mothers, some pregnant again (don't ask) and a family of 10 (with 8 kids) Actually felt like they were doing the best they could except on the procreation front. Hard to not get a bit depressed about the holes we continue to dig.

67F/65F night? wow, that's luxury. Try 62F day/52F night. As we say here in rural WI, "Cowboy up mister!" You get used to it, just add clothes until you feel warm.

Gee -- you make me look like a piker with the thermostat set at 64 (day and night). We just sit around under a blanket in front of the wood stove until the room warms up.

Better yet zone your home and let the empty portions turn off (or down to safe lows like 40F).
I have 3 thermostats around the house. At night the master bedroom is down to 59, and we use an electric blanket. Its better to just heat the bed than to heat the whole room. Of course in Georgia having a T stat set to 59 at night doesnt necessarily mean that youll drop that far!

All the houses in my neighborhood were built with 3 zones and fully programmable T-stats. Every time I visit a neighbor I end up giving a tutorial on how to program them. I know next time there is a power cut they wont go back and restore the settings... One neighbor just complained about his heat bill to me, hes paying more than double what I pay.

Somewhere Jimmy Carter is reading this thinking "tell me about it"...

You all are better people than me! My bride threatens me with the lifestyle of a monk if I crank it down below 64F. This gals Natty Gas bill exceeded the bill for my all electric home.

"Cowboy up mister!"

Oh gawd, can't wait to try that one out with my gay friends. :-)

Prior to starting on high blood pressure medication, I was perfectly fine at 15C/59F lounging about in t-shirts and shorts and 13C/55F with long sleeve shirts and pants. Hardly ever wore a coat or jacket when working outside, even on days when most folks were slipping on two pairs of thermal underwear. Then, *BANG*, the next winter was spent cloaked in an electric blanket with my body wrapped around a cast iron radiator in a virtual death grip; let me tell you, that one little pill sure kicked the swagger out of my step. I'm better now, but those old days, sorry to say, are gone for good.


i have been on bp meds for a few years now and i believe i have cracked the code for lowering blood pressure, for myself at least => walk 6 miles/day. my doct has always encouraged me to exercise and he was happy with my walking 2 miles/day, well that wasnt working as my bp was still elevated and i was not loosing weight either so i recently started walking more and viola ! my bp is down to normal, although i am still taking the meds. i plan to see the doct tommorrow i hope to wean myself off the meds. i dont like the side effects of bp meds either.

Congratulations; that's really great news. Proper diet and exercise would no doubt help immensely, but I lack the self-discipline to see it through. With regards to side effects, my doctor is most concerned about potential kidney damage, which I assume is one of the known risks of taking this particular medication. Consequently, I go for blood work on a regular basis and, thankfully, so far, so good. The odd thing is that my blood sugar, cholesterol levels and everything else is well within acceptable limits and I'm otherwise in good physical health.... (for a man of my age, as my physician likes to say).


It always makes me cringe to read posts vilifying the poorest among us, partly I think because that's just how I imagined "them" before I spent 20 years working with poor people in medical clinics. The only remaining feeling for me at this point is respect. These people are survivors of conditions, throughout childhood and adulthood, that, for all I know, might have driven me to jump off a bridge.

Consider that your young woman's 82F apartment, because it is probably small, has a lesser carbon footprint than my 64F/58F night, 2500 SF home, and the other woman's 8 kids likely have fewer toys and clothes (and bicyles, scooters, DVDs and well, books, too...) than my 3 lovely offspring.

Yet 'm the PO aware, AGW believer, local food enthusiast, TOD reader...

What strikes me is that almost all developed world citizens are so incredibly unaware of just how much of our daily lives simply has to go.

Like his hating arabs.

Like his making fun of the poor "white trash" and "nascar morons."

When people actually begin to suffer and die, where will he be?

Ladeling out soup? Or signing books?

OMG Kunstler is spot on and this poor deluded character has missed the boat. JHK's main point is people have to be responsible, face the truths, and change behaviors.

Kunstler's right about many things, but sorry - he is racist, classist, and ethnocentric. I hear World Made By Hand is pretty sexist, too. Haven't read it, but judging by some of his throwaway comments, I can believe it. (I've been to his talks in three different states.)


"Is there anyone else on this board who is sick and tired of having to face this kind of ad hominem innuendo from delusional optimists who simply refuse to face stark physical, geological, mathematical/fiscal realities out of a will to denial?"

You just described the VAST majority of people.

Where are all the others hanging out? ...cause thats where I want to go.


I agree that Mr. Kunstler's derision and stereotyping of southerners is off putting. Not just the racist overtones and the arrogant superiority of it, either. As my mother used to say, ‘You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.’ It’s hard to win people over to your position while you are kicking them in the face. So Mr. Kunstler’s audience is people who already agree with him. Not much outreach there.

Ironically, the people who will fare best in a post oil economy might be the ones who Mr. Kunstler despises, i.e., those on the bottom of the social ladder. To borrow a paraphrase from a recent article by Mr. Orlov, ‘There’s not far to fall if you are already on the first floor.’


As a pseudo-southerner with roots into the deep south, I actually think JHK is not too far from the truth a lot of the time. In the rural south I'm surprised at how often the conversation turns to "those city people" who when the SHTF will come walking down the road with guns to take away their food. I don't make many friends when I tell them that with the nearest large city some 100 miles away there is absolutely no way a roving band of inner city lowlifes is going to show up, and that they should be more concerned with making sure their neighbors are in good shape because THEY are the ones who know where you live and what you have in your garden or pasture.

Back to the track though -- I agree that JHK is not going to change any minds with his rants. But I never thought that was his point. I binned him under self-aggrandizing, arrogant, and highly entertaining. Could his vision of the future come to pass? -- sure. Is it likely? -- I think a slow slide into a lower standard of living (like we have been seeing for the last 1-2 decades) is a more likely scenario.

Ironically, the people who will fare best in a post oil economy might be the ones who Mr. Kunstler despises, i.e., those on the bottom of the social ladder. To borrow a paraphrase from a recent article by Mr. Orlov, ‘There’s not far to fall if you are already on the first floor.’

No kidding!!! This is something I think about a lot these days. I hate NASCAR, but a lot of those good old boys know how to fix just about anything, make stuff out of junk, hunt and dress wild game... They may be ignorant about peak oil, but they know how to survive.

What we need to do is respectfully befriend these people - we can learn from each other.


I think both extremes can be pretty delusional.

Kunstler deals more often in catharsis than in science.

The truth is somewhere between these extremes.


Over the last year my thinking has come to be what some might consider pretty extreme.

For one thing, I don't think the model below can last very long before it collapses completely via the destruction of the fiat currency.

Economic Staircase

And, just as many climate change folks have asserted that great and worldwide social turmoil will occur from a warming globe, I unfortunately cannot rule out the same consequence from peak oil. In fact, in my personal preparations I am assuming it will occur "soon."

Put the two together (plus add depleting soils, ocean acidification, loss of biodiversity, breakdowns due to lack of maintenance in basic infrastructure like water mains, sewers, transportation networks and a whole lot more) and the 21st century is shaping up to be rather, um, interesting, no?

For one thing, I don't think the model below can last very long before it collapses completely via the destruction of the fiat currency.

I think that a lot of it would depend upon how long the level bits last, and how deep are the down bits. The greater the drops, and the closer they are together, the harder it becomes for people to adapt and for society to hold together.

An irony: In their frantic, futile, counterproductive efforts to jump start the economy into a fast return to BAU, TPTB may be setting us up for a very short plateau and a quicker and deeper drop to the next level. In trying to save BAU, they may killed it.

WNC Observer,

are you saying that collapse is avoidable? It seems to me unavoidable, that the end game is built into the system and it's just a matter of when we reach it.

But if you can show me a way we can avoid financial collapse, I would very much like to learn about it.

I don't know if collapse is avoidable or unavoidable, inevitable or not inevitable. The truth is, until it happens, we really won't know, and even then, it will be hard to work through all the what ifs and counterfactuals with any degree of certainty at all.

I am as sceptical as one can be, just short of absolute certainty, that getting BAU back on track and resuming the exponential trajectory onward and upward is anywhere within the realm of possibility. The future, as best as I can tell, is going to have to be different than the past, and in a way will likely leave most of us poorer rather than richer. That is about as much as I feel confident to say, however. There are a wide range of possible scenarios that fall between even stagnation and total collapse, and I'm not willing to close my mind to most of them.

i have the same thoughts aangel.

1.very serious financial collapse can happen very fast-days/weeks[orlov points this out]; eventually the destruction of fiat[trust in promises].

2.the way collapse will attempt to be mitigated will be to make major change; bailout, nationalization of banks/autos/oil, currency change, or even war, etc..

3. timing & slope[of the stairs down] are the unknowns; but we need to recognize could be very soon & could be a fast slope down [to fiat collapse]; then some type restart, war, etc.

Two things of late convince me that we are in much worse shape than acknowledged;

the serious deflation Ben said he would never allow has had serious traction & momentum ,& that even most 'doomsayers'[economic] predicted only some deflation[a whiff by jim puplava for example] then inflation.

the inflation part is the fed/gov/central bankers control mechanism & it has so far been impotent.

very, very powerful, potentially collapsing forces are afoot financially.

truth is apolitical and amoral. saying truth is between your defined x extreme on the one side and y extreme on the opposite is the same as claiming truth is politically correct and doesn't offend anyone.

No, the middle ground offends LOTS of people. It offends people holding extreme and unbending positions, suggesting that they have to consider the answer is going to be complex and have aspects of all sides involved.

'Truth' is not a fixed thing at a fixed place, but it is a way of understanding what's going on around us. People locked into rigid ideologies are going to have a tough time fitting a malleable and shapeshifting world into the Idealized form that they insist MUST be 'reality'.

Compromise is considered betrayal to an ideologue. It gets called 'Infidel', 'Unfaithful', or 'PC'.

'Truth' is not a fixed thing at a fixed place


Some say the Earth is round. Some say flat. The "truth" is somewhere in between? The "truth" is not a fixed thing?

You see this on the news constantly as they try to be "fair" and "balanced". Someone says it's white, so they find someone else to say, no, it's black, and then the talking head leaves you with "well, there you have it. Maybe somewhere in between." Not.

People's perceptions of the truth might not be fixed, but surely there is a physical world out there that cares not one bit what we perceive.


Reality is what happens whether you believe in it or not.

People glibly say things like "oh, that's your truth, but it's not mine".

Utter nonsense.

This is not to say that truth is always easy to discern, or that we necessarily can even work out some kinds of truth given our cognitive tools.

As old Terence used to say, "where is it written that talking monkeys should understand the Universe in all its glory?".

Reality is what happens. Sure.. but we're all blindfolded and we're touching different parts of the elephant. 'My Truth' and 'Your Truth' might come from the same elephant, but it could take a while to consolidate the evidence.

We've got a lot of self-righteous absolutism in our language lately.. both sides (many sides) and it's not going to help get us there.

Weasel says "Black v. White" and you answer Absolutely. Well, it depends. There actually is such a thing as fair and balanced, even if Fox has wholly misappropriated the notion.

I agree. My point is that there is such a thing as truth - I sure as heck didn't claim that anyone has it all wrapped up! Truth in the sense of physical reality. If you jump off a cliff, you go splat at the bottom, no matter what you believe.

I think you're confusing the truth with styles of arriving at it. There is such a thing as fair and balanced seeking of the truth and evaluating truth claims, for sure!

And for sure, everyone has their biases, and sees what they want to see for the most part. Or describes only their part of the elephant.

My only point was that there is indeed an elephant out there. Even if we never figure out what it is in its totality, it's still an elephant.

We're talking about 'Doomers and Cornucopians', ideological differences and extremism. Going back to some fact we now all know (Round Earth), but which took a few centuries to convince most ground dwellers.. basically, "Truth" is not about a particular fact like that. It's the mix of all sorts of competing pieces of information.

"We're all screwed" is just as unrealistic and unhelpful as "Everything's Fine".

"Republicans have all the answers." is no more accurate or INaccurate than "Democrats have all the answers."

"Abortion is Murder!" vs. "Death Penalty is Murder!" Both have a point.. we still have to make choices on them, often case by case.

"Above Ground Factors" , "HL" , "Undulating Plateau.."

Our arguments have a lot of complexity to them, and just siding with your favorite 'Team' doesn't buy you tickets to having it all right.

Of course, as with with your second example, if I have to tell you that there are actually shades of gray in the world, I guess I'm wasting my breath.


If you don't realize you just contradicted yourself then i feel sorry for you.

Agrees. Kunsler types generally don't know a whit about science or engineering, just learned enough of the jargon to fool the PETA crowd. No respect.

I have to admit that I know a few college-aged people who got turned off from the entire PO arguement after reading Kunstler's comments on college kids who believe ethanol will save the day. I used to reference his site to people interested in PO, but now I mention less opinionated/less fiery sites.

Kunstler has good points, but his presentation style isn't universally appreciated.

You might send your friends this interview and ask them to ponder what happened to suburban real estate and to crude oil supplies and prices in the three years since this interview:

Published Nov 1 2005 by KERA/Energy Bulletin
Simmons-Kunstler interview

MITCHELL: Jim, in your book you describe this as being a darker time than the eve of World War II. That was pretty dark. Why is this darker?

KUNSTLER: Yes. Well because in a way the challenges we face are much more intractable. World War II was in some ways a fairly simple struggle between good and evil between fatuous authoritarian government and democracy. Between particular tyrannical figures like Adolph Hitler who had declared his ambitions. So it was a clear-cut struggle. This is going to be a tremendous challenge to the United States in particular because we have developed a way of living that is a tremendous liability for us. We have this living arrangement called suburban sprawl which we have invested all of our post-war wealth in and which we now believe we are entitled to live in forever and keep on expanding and moreover to have an economy that is mainly based on the increasing production of more suburban sprawl which is to say “a living arrangement with no future.” And this presents tremendous psychological and economic problems for us. For example…think of suburbia as being the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world, because it is a living arrangement that really doesn’t have a future. Okay. Well, you put so much of your own wealth and your own spirit and your collective resources into this infrastructure for living that you can’t imagine letting go of it. And so what we’ll see is I believe a tremendous battle to maintain the entitlements of a way of life that really has no future. And it is going to be a tremendous act of futility. It’s going to take all of the effort that we should be putting into a much more intelligent response to this permanent energy crisis. All of the effort we could be putting into that is being diverted into a defence of suburbia and it’s going to be a very unfortunate and tragic thing.

MITCHELL: If we assume that there is no creamy nougat center in the Earth Matthew, when will the oil run out?

SIMMONS: The oil will actually never run out. One of the reasons that too many people scoff about the notion of peak oil is that they immediately think that we are running out of oil. The problem isn’t running out, the problem is peaking. And the problem of peaking wouldn’t be a big deal if we created a world where demand was also peaking. The problem is - and while Jim is talking about the United States I worry a lot more about the whole world - we have created a world that’s on a road map to needing at least 120 million barrels a day of oil to be daily consumed by 2020, which is only 15 years away. We could easily by then have a world where the supply has dropped from 82 million/83 million barrels a day now down to 70 or 60. At 60 million barrels a day we haven’t run out of oil. We just have an enormous gap between what we needed and what we can use.

BTW, Matt's book was published in 5/05 and Jim's book, TLE, slightly earlier. Since 5/05, based on EIA data the cumulative shortfall between what we would have produced at the 5/05 rate and what we have actually produced worldwide is on the order of 885 mb (C+C).


These weren't "friends," just some young adults who were curious about PO and who knew that I was into researching it. I really haven't kept in touch. I mentioned Kunstler's site, and that week Kunstler expressed his opinion on the college students who believe in ethanol. BTW - the first person to recommend Kunstler's site to me was a college student who had gone to one of Kunstler's lectures and thought that he had good points but was "too preachy."

I'm NOT attacking Kunstler's message; I'm just saying that he is (usually) abrasive (towards someone) in his delivery of it. I'm aware of that; it's doesn't bother me; I don't always agree with some of his adjectives/messages/predictions but I still read his articles anyway; his articles give me good food for thought.

But some people are sensitive toward certain things. I understand that also.

this permanent energy crisis.

First point. Above quote is an error. I grant we face Peak Oil now. I do not yet grant that we face a "permanent energy crisis". There's only two ways for that to happen 1) We CHOOSE to ignore broadly sufficient sustainable alternative resources proven available to us. 2) Our economic system cannot sustain the transition.

The second is definitely unproven to me at this time, despite a lot of "Maybe's" and "What If's". No solid proof.

I agree with you, except that I consider #1 to have a probability of around 99.5%

And it is going to be a tremendous act of futility. It’s going to take all of the effort that we should be putting into a much more intelligent response to this permanent energy crisis. All of the effort we could be putting into that is being diverted into a defence of suburbia and it’s going to be a very unfortunate and tragic thing.

It would seem to me that Jim pretty accurately summed up, three years ago, what is currently happening, with regard to the multi-trillion dollar effort to bail out the auto, housing and finance industries.

Everything I see says #1 is happening now - and will probably continue to do so

How many molten sodium reactors, windmills and pumped storage and solar thermal in the Mojave could we have build with the $ dumped into propping up banks that made horrible bets? How much electrified trains and streecars and subways could have been built for the cost of the Iraq war?

as for #2, that too apears likely - look at the lack of investment $ available out there and tell me we will find and build the solutions we need.

But every society is constrained by its "rules". Those rules have been gamed so that money can only go to certain places and be spent in certain ways. To show you how quickly the rules can be changed and made to seem eternal, consider Eisenhower's Military-Industrial Complex speech. Only 45 years later we already were putting two wars off-budget because they were untouchable, even as our own country fell apart.

Similarly, the culture of American business had already decreed that financial scams based on perpetual growth were less risky than tree-hugging alternative energy. Since the great powers of the private sector would not spend on alternatives, and the government was busy carrying out its accepted role as warmongering mass murderer, there was no place else to go. The public, including the politicians, simply will not believe that their advisors, the suits and the uniforms, have completely worthless priorities.

Eskow, despite his awareness of poverty issues, remains an apologist for BAU. He just thinks we have to do "better." This is a fairly mainstream American liberal viewpoint.

Kunstler, is a self promoter. Maybe he believes in what he writes, maybe not. But, like many, I find his "style" so abrasive as to dissuade me from reading him. Still, he is also a fairly mainstream American liberal.

Here's how I see the various American political groupings (recognizing that there are many subgroups and all group names should be read with quote marks around them);

Techno enthuses - BAU is fine for now, the future will be a bigger better BAU
Conservatives - BAU is great, we need more of it.
Liberals - BAU is great, we just need to fine tune it
Apoclyptics - BAU is falling apart, we're all going to die
Greens and other Radicals - BAU is falling apart but if we work real hard we can save some of it.
Shamans and other enlightened beings - For us all to truly live, BAU must die.

Here is what I would like all of us to consider - Given the choice between avoiding the loss of your material well being and avoiding the loss of your innermost self (soul, if you like, but I want to avoid the religious connotation), which would you choose?

This is the choice we face. Saving BAU is confining the essence of what it is to be human to the trash heap. Only by accepting the relative material "deprivation" that goes along with the end of BAU can we hope to witness the reascend-ence of the human spirit.

a fairly mainstream American liberal viewpoint.

Of course it is, because "liberalism" is at root an economic philosophy based on unbounded growth. Everything comes from that, whether in Democratic or Republican flavors. It's obsolete, but still dragging us all down with it.

Your breakdown of the typical american flavors is pretty good. There are so few "radical greens" you might as well call them shamans.

Still, I don't think I'd call Kunstler a liberal. A communitarian, a congregationalist maybe. No way a liberal. His wonderful attitude, that's New York showmanship and I, for one, appreciate it. We need humor.

cfm in Gray, ME

Liberalism is an economic philosophy? Based on unbounded growth? If everything comes from that you'd think that Wiki might have something about it but I couldn't find it. Curious position to take.

If I were to call Kunstler anything it would be an iconoclast because that's the only consistent thread I find. I also dismiss the notion that his impact has been small. Check his itinerary and the shell shocked look of many of those leaving his presentations. He's planted a lot of acorns in influential places.

If not in wikipedia, then try a good dictionary. Or google 'liberalism and growth'. First reference, not particularly well written. Looks like class notes. Schumpeter goes into it in detail. Monbiot has a rotating quote here on TOD addresses it anecdotally. Essentially, rising tide lifts all boats and obviates the need to address scale or distribution. Free market solves all. Man uber nature. Neoliberalism, chicago school, obama, etc.... There are references everywhere.

It's more than trivially important, because society's fundamental political philosophy (or religion if you will) has failed. Everything that comes out of that - including human rights, womens' rights, rights of any kind - is unhinged.

cfm in Gray, ME

The roots of modern-day classical liberalism can be traced back to the 17th-century Enlgish Puritans. In the 18th century the rationalists repackaged the Puritan creed, stripping it of its overt religiosity, but that did not alter its escense. Barzun explains:

Later historians' secular minds prefer to read about free trade in Adam Smith than in Lilburne and his parable of the talents. It is easier to credit John Locke than some obscure Anabaptist preacher for the thought that all men are born free and equal...

This failure of understanding and sympathy marks a great divide in the Modern Era. It takes place neatly around 1750, the midpoint of the 500 years. Religion, it is true, did not disappear along with the Puritans themselves; but the progress of science made Nature more and more convincing than Revelation as a source of truth. God went into respected retirement...

--Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence: 1500 to the Present

Modern-day classical liberalism (also variously known as neoliberalism, neoclassicism or libertarianism, and not to be confused with what we call liberalism today), however, has been stripped of the subtleties, ambiguities and caveats that liberalism once had. Even though modern-day classical liberals lay claim to the liberal tradition, what remains is but an empty shell of the liberalism of Adams, Ricardo and Mill, much less the seminal Puritan credo.

To begin with, there was a recognition of resource limitations in 18th-century liberalism:

In a country which has acquired that full complement of riches which the nature of its soil and climate, and its situation with respect to other countries, allowed it to acquire; which could therefore advance no further, and which was not going backward, both the wages of labor and the profits of stock would probably be very low.

--Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations

These sentiments are echoed in the writings of Ricardo and again in the 19th century by Mills. Heilbroner thus concludes:

[T]he logic of accumulation of early capitalism was emphatically not one of indefinite growth, but rather of growth limited by finite, exhaustible investment opportunities.

--Robert L. Heilbroner, Behind the Veil of Economics

And secondly 18th-century liberals seem to have had second thoughts about completely purging their economic doctrine of morality:

How selfish so ever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him.

--Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments

Second thoughts such as those expressed by Smith don't seem to plague modern-day classical liberals. Homo economicus has thus evolved into a hedonistic, ego-centered, greedy and selfish pleasure seeker. Stripped from modern-day classical liberal thought is the recognition that numerous acts that are pleasurable are also immoral.

Thank you for putting that together, DownSouth.

This bit fascinates me

Modern-day classical liberalism (variously known as neoliberalism, neoclassicism or libertarianism, and not to be confused with what we call liberalism today), however...

because I do feel that they are very very much connected. Largely through the "rising tide lifts all boats" concept. That's why we hear "liberals" today preaching opportunity and free-market. The concept of liberals supporting a pluralist society comes from that too, in that liberalism - by protecting economic activity from the state - preserved a place for dissent.

RealID and the surveillance state in general pretty much mock that bit of liberalism - the separation of the state and economic interests. So does the concept of the "market state" - even though the function of the state is to enhance "opportunity", that turns into an exercise of bought-and-paid-for-power.

But what really interests me about this is the fact that there is no longer any sort of coherent philosophy underpinning much of western society. It seems all ad hoc hedonism and we shift into a world of limits and LESS not without a moral compass, but with one that points in the wrong directions.

I was at a training workshop recently for Transition Towns. Other participants brainstormed the values that were in the way. I made the observation that most of those items, stuff like "individualism", "free-market", rights and so forth were largely Enlightenment values associated with liberalism. I'm not sure what to make of it. Can we have womens' rights and gay rights in a low EROEI regime? [Rights being formalized and not same as non-issue or tolerance.]

I'm looking for a moral and philosophical framework for descent. I don't want to try to judge the path based on the liberal values that created the problem.

cfm way out in left field in Gray, ME

cfm in Gray, ME

I too am on my own quest. I don't know how to answer other than to share some information that I believe to be relevant:

What Shaw and all the other publicists who agitated the social question helped to precipitate was the onset of the Great Switch. It was the pressure of Socialist ideas, and mainly the Reformed groups in parliaments and the Fabian outside, that brought it about. By Great Switch I mean the reversal of Liberalism into its opposite. It began quietly in the 1880s in Germany after Bismark "stole the Socialists' thunder"--as observers put it--by enacting old-age pensions and other social legislation. By the turn of the century Liberal opinion generally had come to see the necessity on all counts, economic, social, and political, to pass laws in aid of the many--old or sick or unemployed--who could no longer provide for themselves. Ten years into the century, the Lloyd George budget started England on the road to the Welfare State (And as Kevin Phillips points out in Wealth and Democracy, it was the decline of the British Empire that provided the political capital necessary to accomplish this.)

Liberalism triumphed on the principle that the best government is that which governs least; now for all the western nations political wisdom has recast this ideal of liberty into liberality. The shift has thrown the vocabulary into disorder. In the United States, where Liberals are people who favor regulation, entitlements, and every kind of protection, the Republican party, who call themselves Conservatives, campaign for less government like the old Liberals reared on Adam Smith, they oppose as many social programs as they dare.

--Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence: 1500 to the Present

The classical liberal paradigm decrees that the market(the economy) operates independent of social, political and cultural influences, and vice versa. The wealthy, therefore, according to classical liberal theory, have no more political power than the poor. Etzioni challenges this assertion in his book on morality and economics:

We shall see that power differentials are gained both by applying economic power (the power that some actors have over others, directly, within the economy) and by exercising political power (the power that some actors have over others, indirectly, by guiding the government to intervene on their behalf within the economy).

--Amitai Etzioni, The Moral Dimension: Toward a New Economics

Niebuhr also discusses this extensively:

Power, in the thought of the typically bourgeois (classical liberal) man, is political (as opposed to economic). He believes that it must be reduced to a minimum. The earlier bourgeois man wanted to eliminate political power because it represented the special advantages which the old aristocracy had over him. The present bourgeois man wants to reduce it to a minimum because it represents the effort of a democratic society to bring disproportions of economic power under control. In the shift of motive from earlier to later bourgeois man lies the inevitable degradation of the liberal dogma…

The debate between those who want to plan and those who want to remove as many restraints as possible from human activities transcends the limits of the political controversy between the industrial workers and the middle class by which it is best know in modern life. But that controversy offers a perfect illustration of the “ideological taint” which colors the reason of each type of thought. Middle-class life came to power and wealth by breaking ancient restraints; and the more successful middle classes fear new restraints upon their sometimes quite inordinate powers and privileges. They, therefore, speak piously and reverently of “the laws of nature” which must not be violated; and they endow the unpredictable drama of human history with fixities of nature not to be found there.

The industrial classes, on the other hand, found themselves in an unfavorable situation in this celebrated “free” world. They were involved in a vast social mechanism which periodically broke down; and they were not consoled by the belief that these crises were necessary for society’s health. They lacked the personal skills to enter on even terms in an individualistic competitive struggle; and they were confronted in any case with consolidations of power which they could not match. In fairly honest democracies they saw the possibility of organizing both economic and political power to match that of the more privileged classes...

The American Labor movement...was a pragmatic movement, born of the necessity of setting organized power against organized power in a technical society. Gradually it became conscious of the fact that economic power does try to bend government to its own ends. It has, therefore, decided to challenge a combination of political and economic power with a like combination of its own.

Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History

And to respond specifically to the "rising tide that raises all boats:"

If class war and race war are to be avoided, the nation will do once again what it has successfully done in the past; it will revitlize its traditional ideal of equality of opportunity. This is the only strategy that has worked in the past to reconcile the conflicting interests of liberty and equality, rich and poor, rural and urban, North and South, East and West, employees and employers, men and women, young and old, Catholics, Protestants and Jews, and above all, the ethnic minorities who form the pluralistic core of American life.

At the start of his brief presidency, Jack Kennedy spoke of his faith in the "rising tide that raises all boats." In the decade that followed, Kennedy's metaphor was proven more than hollow rhetoric. In the 1960s and 1970s, the rising tide did raise many boats. Not surprisingly, young people with college educations were able to improve themselves and make good livings, but so too were young workers without college educations.

--Daniel Yankelovich, Coming to Public Judgment: Making Democracy Work in a Complex World

But that has limitations:

Both the Puritans and the Jeffersonians attributed the prosperity (of the United States) primarily to a divine providence which, as Jefferson observed, “led our forefathers, as Israel of old, out of their native land and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessaries and comforts of life”…

From that day to this it has remained one of the most difficult achievements for our nation to recognize the fortuitous and the providential element in our good fortune… For, from the later Puritans to the present day we have variously attributed American prosperity to our superior diligence, our greater skill or (more recently) to our more fervent devotion to the ideals of freedom. We thereby have complicated our spiritual problem for the days of adversity which we are bound to experience. We have forgotten to what degree the wealth of our natural resources and the fortuitous circumstance that we conquered a continent just when the advancement of technics made it possible to organize that continent into a single political and economic unit, lay at the foundation of our prosperity…

[I]t is certainly the character of our particular democracy, founded on a vast continent, expanding as a culture with its expanding frontier and creating new frontiers of opportunity when the old geographic frontiers were ended, that every ethical and social problem of a just distribution of the privileges of life is solved by so enlarging the privileges that either an equitable distribution is made easier, or a lack of equity is rendered less noticeable…

Yet the price which American culture has paid for this amelioration of social tensions through constantly expanding production has been considerable. It has created moral illusions about the ease with which the adjustment of interests to interests can be made in human society. These have imparted a quality of sentimentality to both our religious and our secular, social and political theories. It has also created a culture which makes “living standards” the final norm of the good life and which regards the perfection of techniques as the guarantor of every cultural as well as of every social-moral value.

Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History

Dryki is absolutely correct in his assessment of Liberalism. Of course, there is more to it than can be summed up in a few sentences. But the 19th century gave us two significant political/economic theories that drive nearly all current political and economic theory. They are "Liberalism" and "Socialism," each with any number of flavors. Please understand that "Liberalism" is not the same as a contemporary liberal (and Limbaugh's misuse of the term "liberalism" to label the thinking of those he opposes is simply wrong - he no doubt knows better, but keeps using it anyway because being entertaining is more important than be truthful).

And here is the link to the Wikipedia article;

One way to look at it:

We've heard the terms "neoliberal" and "neoconservative" a lot in the last 15 years. But where does the "neo" part come from? Is it a revision, or a revival of the original meaning?

If you explained the basic agendas and constituencies of Bill Clinton and G. W. Bush to a time-travelling H. G. Wells visiting from 1890 London, he'd probably have no trouble calling Clinton a "liberal" and Bush a "conservative", but he'd mean something very different than what we're thinking. The Democrats would remind him of decades of Whig liberals who let British corporations rape the earth in the name of free trade, but then shook their moralistic fingers that the corporate agents were sleeping with local girls in India. Their crowning glory was the Opium War; free trade in narcotics forced at gunpoint. Bush would remind Wells of the Tory jingoes who used imperial enforcement jobs to buy off the working class, and clung to every vestige of the class system as a sort of pyramid that would be extended to capture the entire world.

That's not really much of a difference, is it? Which is exactly my point. Early liberals and neoliberals supported expanding opportunity at home via the revenues taxed from corporations plundering the world, and early conservatives and neoconservatives supported dealing with the inevitable rebellion against such policies by converting the system to an armed police state ruled by an infallible Christian hierarchy. You could even say that the US is recapitulating the ideological development of Britain, or is converging with it.

Wells seems to have been sufficiently disgusted with what he saw to become a socialist instead.

If history starts with FDR and Truman you have a case but the roots of Liberalism go back a lot further than that. The statement was rash and still unsubstantiated in my view but this is about oil, not the rather loose and liberal connotations of Liberalism so I'll leave it there. Growth as such is not beholden to Socialism or Liberalism that I can see. Socialist growth punched the bulk of the wells that make the FSU the largest exporter of petroleum last I heard. Growth happens - or not. See China.

Good on you then, Petrosaurus. But if you would just read some of the posts above and check out the links you've been given. You might actually learn something and not back yourself into a corner where you just appear defensive.

Other participants brainstormed the values that were in the way. I made the observation that most of those items, stuff like "individualism", "free-market", rights and so forth were largely Enlightenment values associated with liberalism.

You might find this quote germane:

The trouble lies not in the deep commitment to liberty. One may share it in full but still recognize that the neoclassical paradigm lacks the concepts and perspective required to understand the sociological and psychological conditions under which people are free, and liberty is preserved. Individuals can reason best, and are least subject to manipulation and to government intervention, when they are members of a community, when they can rely on their bonds to their fellow citizens, on their We-ness, for psychological anchoring and social support in resisting ouside pressures. That is the reason the Founding Fathers feared the rule of the mob, a mass of "free," unrelated individuals, whipped into a frenzy by demagogues. That is why, from Alexis DeToqueville (1840) to Eric Fromm (1941), the observation has been advanced of the merit of a society in which individuals are members of viable communities and voluntary associations. This is the often discussed merit of pluralism. This is why the mass society, one in which individuals have lost their place in a social fabric and are on their own, "atomized," has been found to be vulnurable to totalitarian movements, and subject to manipulation by charismatic leaders and the mass media (Kornhouser 1959). In short, to be free requires individuals that are not socially isolated, cut off from one another; they must be linked to one another and bound into a community, to form a We, and to be able to sustain one another's emotional stability and inner security. It is on these psychological and sociological foundations that people fully develop and freely express their individuality. When the commons are experienced as oppressive, the group as a They, people can still assert their individuality, but never as fully and as free from distortion as they can when, by transforming their commons from a They to a We, they turn it into a responsive community.

--Amitai Etzioni, The Moral Dimension: Toward a New Economics

Were I cynical, I'd connect that to Leanan's post that it's Obama that wants to extend the conversion to digital TV, the better to keep the obambis uninformed. It wouldn't do to have them reading his speeches, to try to figure out what they mean. Or to have them reading TOD or TAE when the TV doesn't work.

I believe that life is in the day to day living and struggle and much of meaning (certainly not all) comes from community and aiding others (and graciously accepting aid). The primal pleasures of life; laughter, meaningful sex, good food, aesthetic beauty, music should be indulged in and enjoyed. OTOH, conspicuous consumption for social status or other reasons is a void.

I have found that BAU in New Orleans provided me meaning and fulfillment, and post-K New Orleans even more so.

What I strive for will, IMO, provide more options for most Americans. What they make of these options is their choice, not mine.

Best Hopes for Wiser Choices,


"The primal pleasures of life; laughter, meaningful sex, good food, aesthetic beauty, music..."

Why is it that us wealthy folks are always saying that this is all we need?

All that above and being wealthy is all anybody needs. Whats the big deal?

nicely done, souperman!

Something tells me you might know something of the Lower World?

You picked up only on the secondary issues, overlooking community and helping others. Fulfillment dos not come from the primal pleasures, but I see little virtue from forgoing them. And all but the poorest can enjoy these pleasures.


There must be some other categories or clusterings that could be added to your list (which is, nevertheless, a good and interesting effort). I'm not sure that I fit anywhere on it. My position?

Things change, so any effort to keep things the same (BAU) always was bound to be futile. If it wasn't PO, or AGW, or the financial implosion, then something else would have come along to mix things up. It is pretty clear that we have been living beyond our means on multiple levels and that couldn't go on in any case. An adjustment to some sort of more sustainable level is past due and unavoidable.

There are some ways in which our modern society (BAU) is better than times past, and ways in which it is worse. Utopia it isn't, neither did we have utopia in the past, nor will we have it in the future. With any luck, maybe we learn a few things and apply that knowledge to make life somewhat better for somewhat more people, but that's about the best we can hope for.

The sooner that we can face up to our situation, accept it, and get on with trying to adjust and make the best of it, the better off we will be. Unfortunately, that is not what those in positions of power are doing, and thus almost everything they are doing ends up being counterproductive and makes a bad situation worse.

So what do you call THAT political grouping (if there is in fact anyone grouping around it)? "Realism"?

No doubt there are other "categories" that could be added. Or you could go back and slice the whole cake in a different direction. My point was really to generate some discussion on what I think is an important point - the loss of our humanity engendered by our modern way of life.

Not to disappoint or offend you, but I consider your description of your view to be a typical American liberal viewpoint, leaning toward Green. Consider that while you profess to understand change will occur, your measure is what comes along to change BAU, interupt or disrupt it. Your solution is essentially to fix it, albeit and a likely lower level of wealth. You couch this in terms of "facing up" and of adjusting (getting to keep some of it).

Try this and see if it fits; when you say that the "best we can hope for" is to "make life somewhat better for somewhat more people," how are you measuring "better"? My guess it is materially based. How would you react if I suggested that we (especially in developed countries) currently are already worse off then we have ever been before. That that even an unplanned, unmitigated crash of the modern global capitalist system would result in a better world (at least for those who survive)? Would you understand what I was measuring?

"How am I measuring better? Materially?"

No, not necessarilly. I would judge it better that most of humanity no longer views the involuntary enslavement of people different and less fortunate than themselves to be a perfectly normal and acceptable social arrangement, to give just one example.

"How would I react to your suggestion that we are worse off?"

In some ways I would agree. I would tend to view it more as a mixed bag. There are aspects of modern life that clearly are worse, others that are better. Things are, overall, different from the past, just as the future will be different from the present. I am sceptical about the whole idea of Progress (with a capital "P"), especially as some sort of secular religion. Nevertheless, on a more limited and particular basis, I am also sceptical about those who would deny that there has ever been any sort of improvement of any aspect of life for anyone at any time.

"How would I react to your suggestion that we would be better off after a crash?"

I'd say that in some respects we would be better off, and in some respects we wouldn't. It will still be a mixed bag, just a different mix in a different bag. I'd also say that our ability to determine our outcome is limited, but not absolutely nil. We might have some ability to make some choices that might result in outcomes that will be less or more regrettable by those at the other end.

"Would I understand what you were measuring?"

Sure. There are more important things in life than stuff. "Man does not live by bread alone." "Money is the root of all evil." And so forth. And I agree, a world in which this sort of mindset is more common and the type of lifestyle that cultivates it flourishes would be better. There are things about this modern world that get in the way, and getting rid of them would be no great loss. I also suspect that there are a lot of artifacts of this present world that, if lost, would be sorely missed by those that follow us.

I doubt very much that many people who self-identify as "liberals" would find much in the above to agree with.

As far as wanting to keep or fix (or salvage, I guess) some subset of the present BAU (or whatever you want to call it):

While our present society is very different from those that preceeded it, while the discontinuities are very profound and obvious, there are also continuities, often perhaps less obvious. Human life differs from one time or place and another, and life in the future will be different for the people living then than it is for us. But there will be things that won't be all that different from how they are now. BAU? I'd be more inclined to talk in terms of the continuity of life, the natural life cycle of the human species, and so forth.

WNC - thanks for the thoughtful reply.

Slavery was made anathema before the modern global capitalist system was more than a nascent set of ideas. I don't really consider that to be an issue with regard to our current situation - unless you want to talk about wage slaves.

"In some ways I would agree," "mixed bag," "in some respects we would...in some respects we wouldn't," "Sure there are more important things in life than stuff."

If that isn't contemporary "liberal" thinking I don't know what is. I'm not sure that any of this changes how I would have read your earlier post. If I might summarize - "We're in for trouble, there's going to be some bad stuff, but maybe we can make some good out of it if we ..." Listen to Al Gore, he's telling you the same thing!

As for continuities and discontinuities, I guess all I'd say is they are in the eye of the beholder.

Given the choice between avoiding the loss of your material well being and avoiding the loss of your innermost self (soul, if you like, but I want to avoid the religious connotation), which would you choose?

Sorry, why are these the only two options?

Who told you that it is impossible to have a soul and have material well-being? (Soul in the non-religious sense.)

And why did you believe them?

Sorry. Probably my fault for not being clearer in getting my point across. I did not mean to suggest that you couldn't have both. What I was trying to suggest is that it is BAU that is killing our "soul"

Yes, however that's just another form of the same mistake.

The trap is that people think that their sense of fulfillment has anything to do with circumstances. I assert that one can change the circumstances any way imaginable and it won't make a difference.

Fulfillment is not a function of circumstances because if that were true it would be universally true. But we know it's not universally true because I can find very rich people who are thoroughly unfulfilled and poor people who are happy. There has to be something else at work.

That then leaves the prime question: if it's not circumstances, what is the source of fulfillment?

What is the source of fulfillment ?

From an earlier post, a partial answer:

I believe that life is in the day to day living and struggle and much of meaning (certainly not all) comes from community and aiding others (and graciously accepting aid).

Ignored by souperman & shaman, oh well.


Alan, I have a lot of respect for the work you do. And most of your posts, even when I disagree with them, are cogent and express well your viewpoint. But, I've got to say, in this case I think you need to get over yourself. It is you that missed the point of souperman's post, not vice versa. Open up your thought process and let that possibility sink in, please.

In the particulars of what we are talking about, what you believe is scarcely the point. More power to you if you can live your life that way. But even if you are, you must realize that it is because you are essentially living in the cracks of social setting around you.


you must realize that it is because you are essentially living in the cracks of social setting around you.

I am unclear by what you mean as "cracks in the social setting".

I live in New Orleans for several reasons, one is the social freedom to do as I please (New Orleans has a unique lack of social pressure to conform) coupled with a rare system of social rewards for good deeds.

I chose to be engaged in the community at several levels. My lifestyle is, in several ways, a life of "voluntary simplicity" but is a life also with luxuries I chose (good food & music among them).

I chose to live in a cheap apartment (6'6" ceilings) in an area of rare urban beauty. Aluminumized bubble wrap over the windows coupled with Jazz Fest tickets.

I have a diverse and eclectic set of friends and friendly relations with many more. I routinely have bizarre and fascinating experiences here. I have learned to receive as well as to give here in New Orleans.

If I live "in the cracks", then I am one of many here. I have seen emphasized with great suffering post-Katrina, but I have also gone around with a great grin on my face as I enjoyed life amidst the overwhelming misery and despair.

IMVHO, fulfillment is rarer than happiness. And I have that fulfillment

Best Hopes for Fulfillment,


I'm not sure how you can profess not to know what the "cracks in the social setting" are when you proceed to describe exactly those cracks.

The increasingly totalizing system we live in does not really care if individuals or even whole cities or peoples "choose" to eschew the primary values of that system. It only cares that the resultant "enclave" can then be used to it's own ends. Consider, for example, the Rastafarian movement which professes to hold values as close to possible as diametrically oppossed to the dominant values. How does the "rest of the world" see Rastafarians? As reggae music, a commodity. As quaint "natives," a tourism destination. As a source of ganja, another commodity (albeit a black-market one).

While it is perfectly possible for individuals to achieve some fulfillment within our current social setting, that does not address the very real social issues (that include those who do not choose "simplicity" but are born into grinding poverty engendered by our social structures).

I suspect, though I have not been there so this is strictly conjecture, that what you are experiencing in New Orleans and makes you say that you are "one of many" there, is that you are seeing a very special circumstance specifically because of the disaster. In such a setting, people will pull together, will help one another, and will find a special connection as their goals and values get re-focused on their special situation. It is, in a sense, a suspension of the rules that allows an older, more communitarian set of rules to come back into effect. Will that continue when life returns to "normal" in New Orleans? If you are very lucky. But make no mistake, every day your city gets pulled deeper back into that totalizing system.

Gautama's life is certainly a good example of what we face. He also lived in an increasingly totalizing (and it happens, city based market oriented) society. He left the cities and wandered in the open areas (not wilderness, at least not completely) for years before he had shed enough of his social expectations to be able to see another path. We know that path is there. And individuals are certainly capable of following it. But that does not mean that society's impact on most people in int isn't "soul deadening."

You may not realize it, but you answer, in part, your own question - "people think that their sense of fulfillment has anything to do with circumstances."

So, unless you think we can all become buddha's and understand and accept the "emptiness" of our existence, then you've got to deal with what people think.

But perhaps more importantly. You continue to want to measure this "fullfillment" on the basis of material well being. The fact that rich people may not be fulfilled and the poor may be is precisely the point! Our modern world capitalist system is not intended to deal with achieving fulfillment. Indeed, that someone who is successful by the measures of that system might not be fulfilled is part of the criticism. But I would go further, that system not only doesn't provide fulfillment, it intentionally works against it. It is fundamentally based on the creation of ever out of reach needs and desires.

So, here, in short is the issue with your formulation of the problem - you define "circumstances" as material well-being, thereby limiting your understanding of fulfillment. Circumstances is far more than that, it is the entire social setting. And our fulfillment is most definitely tied to that.

Let me see if I can restate my view on this. It is not material well being or even wealth that limits our fulfillment, it is the social structures of modern global capitalism that tie us to a set of social beliefs that define fulfillment as something always out of reach. It is how it gets us to work, to buy, to attend school, etc.. It creates demand (and not just for material goods) by promising that fulfillment is achievable, but there is always something more. And that is true whether you are Warren Buffet and desire to own one more company, or if you're some kid in a poor inner city area who just wants enough to buy some fries at McDonalds.

I'm not defining circumstance as material well being, that was just an example.

When I say "circumstances" I mean everything that is not inner life.

My point is that none of that has to do with fulfillment.

Here is the description of how most people live:
When I'm 15 I'll be happy when I can drive. Now I can drive but I'm not happy yet.
Maybe I'll be happy when I have a girlfriend. I'm not happy so maybe I'll be happy with a job.
I'm not happy so maybe I'll be happy when I'm married. I'm not happy so maybe I'll be happy leaving my current job and getting a new job.
I'm not happy with my wife so maybe I'll be happy when I leave my wife and I'm single.
Single isn't so fun so maybe I'll be happy with a new wife. I'm still not happy so maybe I'll be happy with retirement.

All this is The Human Hamster Wheel. And I assert that everything you say is just more running on the wheel or at best changing the color of the wheel.

One does not have to be a buddha to understand that it is a false connection to link one's fulfillment to circumstances.

Human Hamster Wheel

Ah, so we are really saying exactly the same thing with regard to what the problem is. (Although I have some differences with your separation of circumstances and "inner life" they do not impinge on moving this discussion ahead.)

Here is the difference. You have universalized this behavior as the human hamster wheel and thus the only way out is by super human individual effort.

Where as I am saying that our current social structures specifically mitigate against those super human efforts, indeed make following your hamster wheel the goal. Further, there is a very real possibility that changing those social structures (by design or chance) could result in a social setting that not only more readily allows for those super human efforts, but actually could encourage them.

You seem to be saying that the hamster wheel is the "natural" state of human beings. I am saying that the hamster wheel was implemented by humans, that our current society has perfected it and makes escape nearly impossible.

One does have to wonder, though, if the hamster wheel really were the "natural" state, how could anyone ever expect to escape?

While you are correct to say that one need not be a buddha to understand the false connection - understanding it and living it are two completely different matters.

(cute picture, by the way)

I think what has us stay in the hamster wheel are fundamental, long lived conversations that have been with us since we got language. As far as I can tell, modern circumstances make no difference to those conversations (or narratives or stories or myths).

So yes we implemented the hamster wheel but it comes from fundamental language constructs that were invented very early on, like the language construct "that's right" or "that's wrong." Once those became established, the rest of language was boxed into a way of thinking that we still have today. For instance, most people think there is "the truth." If you can't get rid of that trap, nothing else matters.

The only way out of the hamster wheel is to retire or at least view with less value these ancient conversations and introduce new ones. And that has nothing to do with whether I am living in Roman times or the 21st century.

Well, I think we have reached the point where we have defined the ground we share and can respectfully agree to disagree.

While I would agree that language is critical, I think to hold on to the notion of "fundamental, long lived conversations" is to make the same truth error you note. But that's me.

Agreed. Aangel has some exellent things to say and is doing some excellent work, I think most here would agree. However, equating language with reality, or even language with thought is equally incorrect as equating grammar to language.

Language is a tool, and there is an interaction between it and thoughts/concepts, but the two are not identical.


"Only by accepting the relative material "deprivation" that goes along with the end of BAU can we hope to witness the reascend-ence of the human spirit."

Not to worry Shaman whether people accept the material deprivation or not. They will have too. Falls under the catagory of: "Deal with reality ...". Human spirit will adjust while sliding down the Big Rock Candy Mountain. Some will be fine and others will not (Sorry Bout That). Can you imagine a Valley Girl having to dig potatoes by hand?

BTW: Reality here north of Reno is that I finished my germination box. It is 18"W X 36"L X 16"D made from scraps I had around the shop except the thermostat that I had to buy. I have about completed testing and it so far works like a champ. I am at least 6 weeks early for it to start little plants, as we are not frost-free here in the high desert till June. Now it is on the grid but it will soon be on solar. I really hate to spend the money for solar panels but I will bite that bullet ($2000) in the next week or two. We need to charge the golf cart (mobile power supply) and provide a couple hundreds watts for the well pump.

An interesting time point is the winter solace 2012 (end of Mayan calendar). We (US) will have completed another election. IMHO Valley Girls (above) won't get an attitude adjustment till about then.

Can you imagine a Valley Girl having to dig potatoes by hand?

Just reading a novel set in the transition period in Iran from Shah to Khomeni. Your attitude reads surprisingly close to that of many jealous misfit revolutionaries who preferred to use radical religious discipline to "chasten" desireable women who they had no hope of attaining in any case.

So when does it become legally mandatory to impoverish and whip ourselves in compliance with the dictats of the "Church of Kunstler"?

Please accept my apologies. That was sexist. Valley Girls will have no problem digging potatoes with their bare hands.


Jealous Misfit Revolutionary

BTW: Reality here north of Reno is that I finished my germination box. It is 18"W X 36"L X 16"D made from scraps I had around the shop except the thermostat that I had to buy. I have about completed testing ....

I commend your resourcefulness! We only get a few days below freezing a year here (in fact, I don't think we had any the previous two winters). But last week it dropped down to 25F and killed my tomatoes and basils. Some of my TAs and my tropicals don't look too good either (40F turns the bananas brown). But I'm looking forward to the kale, now, as it loves the cooler weather. Still, I was not even half way through the tomato crop (about 30 plants) and the Brandywine's were only just starting to ripen. The fruit froze all the way through and is now just mush. Never even considered getting row covers before, but with the extremes of temp we seem to be getting, perhaps I will now.

Shaman: Sorry about the tomatoes. Here we expect frost any month of the year so we keep a close eye on the evening temperature and cover the tomatoes and other veggies as necessary. When they get to be six feet tall it is a challange to cover them but we have extra bed sheets to do the job.


Subcommittee Testimony on Electrified Rail Scheduled for 10 AM today

Phil Longman of the New America Foundation (and author of cover story @ Washington Monthly) is scheduled to testify. I have extensively briefed him and I will speak at New America event this Friday shortly after noon as well as have a Thursday strategy lunch with him.

However, both Baltimore and Washington DC are enduring ice storms and the Federal Gov't is operating under a "Liberal Leave" policy.

I assume this means that the remaining Republicans want all the liberals to leave for the day so that they can complete unfinished business left by GWB.

In any case, I have canceled plans to travel from Baltimore to DC today.

Best Hopes for Limited Damage,


Good Luck Alan!

I am in Bucharest, Romania for a 4 month gig and they have an ill planned but diverse number of electrified systems and if you need any specific information about operations, let me know.

OT but give him his due; John Updike rest in peace

Book Passage
Corte Madera, CA
Jun 9th, 2006


"John Updike talks about Terrorist. The son of an Irish-American mother and an Egyptian father who disappeared when he was three, Ahmad turned to Islam at the age of eleven. In New Jersey, he feels his faith threatened. When he finds employment with recently immigrated Lebanese, the threads of a plot gather around him, with reverberations that rouse the Deptartment of Homeland Security. Updike's highly acclaimed novels include Rabbit, Run and Rabbit Redux. He has won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award."

here's one about conoco:


difficult to justify a windfall profits tax on that. most of the loss was due to a writedown of reserves based on price.

and not to leave exxon out:


pardon moi if these have already been posted.

AWEA reports wind power grew a record amount in 2008!

Almost half of nameplate capacity addition was wind.
See details at:



Great post today on the oil speculator debate, especially as to futures and contract deliverability:


Excellent link, Matt. Definitely alters my preliminary position (I was tentatively blaming the hedge funds for controlling the price of oil). I still think that the massive betting on margin by them in the non-deliverable market, though perhaps not affecting the delivered price, still exposes our economies to unwarranted high risk of boom / bust / crash in any event where a minor downturn somewhere else forces the untimely unwinding of positions which would not otherwise be unwound. We should limit the activity to "no-margin" betting, which would re-stabilize a LOT of things.

Question for Leanan about the email subscription to this daily posting: I used to receive the daily drumbeat via email (as well as the weekly summary), both of which I believe Tom Whipple also edits or sends out. Suddenly I no longer receive either the daily details or the weekly summary.

Are these still being sent? Is there some way to re-subscribe?



Sorry, I haven't a clue what you're talking about. Tom Whipple does his own news rundown, but I don't think it has anything to do with the DrumBeat.

I thought you worked with Tom W (or v-v), since I noticed many of the articles in drumbeat were also in his newsletters. Also he refers (I believe) to specific posts in Drumbeat.

Anyway, I'm not sure how to contact Tom, since the newsletters are always sent with a "no reply" address. Is his address freely available somewhere on TOD? I know he writes for the Fairfax VA paper so I could try there too.

It's been well over a year since I have subscribed and don't even remember how I did that (I thought it was somewhere on TOD). Does anybody here know how to do that (maybe I could try re-subscribing, although someone else just replied that their subscription had stopped coming too).


I don't know anything about Tom's newsletter. I know he does one, but I have never worked with him and never subscribed. I'm sure there are many articles in common, just because peak oilers tend to be interested in the same subjects. Maybe he reads the DrumBeat and quotes from it sometimes, like Bart of EB does. That is fine, and encouraged; we have a Creative Commons license that allows people to use our work, as long as it's attributed.

I think you want ASPO USA which publishes Tom's weekly roundup.

Yes, I've noticed my subscription has died, too :-(

Do you remember how you originally subscribed aangel?
Maybe we could try doing that again.

That's it. Thanks. I'll go check there to see what's happened.

The story of an Oklahoma cotton picker who became a Bakken oil field billionaire:


To justify taking homes and farms to build the Interstate highway, President Eisenhower cited a security need: Military vehicles must move fast in case of war. Now President Obama, citing a need to curb global warming, wants new transmission lines across America to carry electricity from carbon-free energy sources. Will he also use federal muscle to take people's land, even wilderness?

Better to take what Eisenhower created--replace the roads with electric transmission lines (if we really need them)

No, we don't need anymore electric lines running anywhere. The "SMART GRID" is just BAU for more money for the Techno-droids, hell bent on putting money in their pocket.

Look out the window, if you are in the Midwest. What do you see? Think a "Smart Grid" would be better than what you have? Not so much? Local power/local distibution/local generation....super insulation...basic stuff.

I mentioned a few weeks ago about how many of you have a Disaster Preparedness Plan? What is your plan for 1 day without the big E juice? What is it for 1 week? 1 Month? Mother Nature could care less about Global Economic Meltdown. You must prepare. You must have a plan!

Wait...is that a Thorium Reactor driving up your road to cut away the downed trees? Maybe we should wait for Barney "Bailout" Frank, to bring you food and water? Oh, that's right, sorry, my mistake, you actually planned for a Power Down Scenario, and have food and water stored, and you have your house prepped for Power Down....

Other than deploying my solar panels, to use for 12V , I'll start my diesel generator with 320 hours of fuel. Inverter for all 110V needs.

Then I add my stored provisions and sail west for 7000 miles.

Just put the new transmission lines in the Interstate corridor. The government already has the right of way and the lines will need road access. Roads and electric lines co-exist all over the country.

If there are no Interstate roads for right of way, use state highways. I do not see why it is necessary to do much property condemnation. Most property owners will take a nice check as compensation for electric line easements. At least they do around here.

Even better, build electrified rail along those new lines.

I agree. Always thought this was a good idea. Use and modify existing infrastructure whenever possible, especially the interstates, us highways and some state roads. Wouldn't they be of some use for mass transit if we are hell bent on hanging on as long as possible?

Transmision lines should be laid out with efficiency as a prime consideration. Increased transmission losses are inevitable as transmission distances increase.

Roads -- even major highways are routed to achieve objectives other than having a straight line / shortest distance between two points. A road might be sited to run through or a particular town. In addition,although much steeper grades are acceptible than for a railroad, there are limits that don't really apply to transmission lines. Finally in a lot of cases a road merely followed the path of a pioneer or even a particularly well travelled cow path -- careful consideration would have resulting in another layout entirely.

In addition a road might not be where the power needs to be delivered.

Your comment is a valid one in that everything is a compromise. OTOH signing on for additional line losses for as long as a line is in service is not something that should be done lightly.

Hello TODers,

This was not unexpected, as Kunstler, Jay Hanson, and many others predicted this years ago:

Boeing to Chop 10,000 Jobs
The aerospace giant more than doubles its planned layoffs in light of a $56 million net quarterly loss and signs of trouble ahead

I hope these skilled people can be transitioned to making windmills or solar setups. At the very least, I would appreciate it greatly if they used their extreme metal-working and carbon-fiber skillsets to help produce the Tiger Woods Signature Model wheelbarrow. I would appreciate a very light and balanced titanium/carbon fiber model when I need to move it like this guy [photo below]:


He must pedal quite fast as he feels it is important to align the aerodynamics to produce maximum downforce as is commonly done in racecars and dragsters!

I bet Lance Armstrong would have a tough time beating this guy in a race.

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

Hello Bob,

Boeing 10,000 and counting: Starbucks misses estimates, cuts 6,700 jobs

I am afraid our entire global economy is just a Parade of Ponzis. These numbers make me feel sick because in reality they are not numbers but an endless line of individuals and families, fellow citizens who have been misguided by madoffissimus maximus.

Gloom is deepening among business leaders and economists, casting a pall over this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos

“You have to realize the size of the problem confronting us today is significantly larger than in the ‘30s,” George Soros, the billionaire hedge-fund owner and philanthropist, said today. “The situation will continue to deteriorate.”

The cost of the bank bailout is likely to be much higher than $700 billion.

"The amount of working capital you'd expect the government to take into this would be around $3 trillion to $4 trillion," said Simon Johnson, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and author of its Baseline Scenario financial crisis blog.

I am trying not to be a doomer today.

Growth is not an option! Tom

Hello Homosapiens and Ricky,

Thxs for responding. Great photo, Ricky! I hope postPeak Phoenix will have sufficient water, so that when I finally get done wheelbarrowing O-NPK Humanure all day, that I can really rinse the cargo-bucket out good before I invert it onto my head for the pedal home. :(

The ice has stopped forming here in WKY but the temp means none is melting.

The ice is so thick that many electric poles are down or leaning over at a steep angle,,,like the ones running to my farm and the one my transformer is on. This means when the ground thaws those poles will come down.

Riding down the road are far as I could on my Honda Trail 90,,just less than a quarter mile in each direction I saw those who had powerlines down in their driveways. Trees crashed down so bad they can't get out even if the roads were cleared.

We have no trees left to speak of. Just toothpicks sticking up and the tops broken out of them also. The rain last nite formed ice icles a foot long everywhere so that the overhead telephone cable pulled the siding off my barn from the weight.

We will be weeks getting this all repaired. The ambulances and EMTs can't get to those in trouble. Temps in the low 20s and pipes busting everywhere.

If I had no wood in the barn I would be chopping as much ice as wood.

We are very low on gasoline in town. Nothing open since can't run the lights or cash registers. On my scanner they say the convience store will open for one hour just for 'responders'.

I have never seen anything like this ever. Its mindblowing. Yet appears to be IMO something from the possible future as nature might be becoming so disparate that blows after blows will cause havoc all over.

Cattle right now can't be attended to unless they are near enough. All fences are down.

I see that mostly Arkansas and Ky got the brunt of it.

I have 24% battery power left in my laptop and only turn my cellphone on once each hour.

There is the ice, covered now by some 3 or 4 inches of snow. What comes next I have no idea. Those who venture out end up in ditches further straining all public emergency services.

Its quiet here now that the explosions of snapping trees and falling limbs has stopped. The woods just sits there shorn of most limbs. Its like a battlefield must look after a shelling. Twice yesterday I was almost hit by falling limbs as I cut trees off the roads to get home or run for gas. The generator never came to life. I am living like I thought I might. Its not all that bad. I am used to it.

I conserve my precious wood. No way to go cut more. Let the fire go out at night. Use it to cook with and heat water or tea as needed. Tomorrow this will all seem normaland routine but then when the power and lights suddenly come back on? It will seem 'strange' and life will appear odd and unusual. Perhaps I should just cut the main breaker on my outdoor load panel and live this way. Well ...not quite yet. Have a few more items on my list. Beehives for instance.
More insulation and a leanto greenhouse and root cellar. Then I can 'powerdown' for good.Oh...the PV panel and wood gas stoves.

Hello Airdale,

My heart goes out to you and your neighbors in this time of trial; My best wishes to you.

Sadly, today in my Asphaltistan, most Phoenicians are reveling in our forecast high temp of 72 F, clear & sunny. They are too busy golfing or shopping, parading around in just washed cars, hitting the tanning booths, boob implant/facelift, and liposuction clinics, or burning gas in the fast-food drive-thrus to give a damn about your deteriorating situation. Afterall, keeping up appearances for the social galas of the Barret/Jackson Car Auction, the FBR Golf Tournament parties, and this weekend's Superbowl is truly priority #1 in our area.

The delusion is celebrated as high art here. Nobody pedals their golf clubs to the Country Clubs, much less backpacks them over 18 holes--> no way to gain status among peers by this method.

Compare to my photo linked upthread: this construction worker pedals his tools to/from his job, which is probably 5 miles or more away over rough, rutted, dirt/mud/sewage roads. He is my non-FF Exosomatic Hero doing his best to provide for his family.

Will postPeak Americans expend the same effort? Will we pedal away with a wheelbarrow on our heads? Will we head-carry 100lbs of firewood Zimbabwe-style? Or will we choose guns, then machete' moshpits first?

Best of luck to you, airdale. Stay safe and work within your limitations until conditions stabilize.

Like our good friends in Maine, we've had our share of nasty weather of late. The snow has started to fall, but looking at the satellite image it appears we'll dodge the bullet this time around.

Our local forecast, as at 16h00 AST: Cloudy. Snow beginning early this evening changing to freezing rain or ice pellets and then to rain overnight. Snow and ice pellet amount 10 to 15 cm. Rainfall amount 10 to 15 mm. Local blowing snow late this evening. Wind southeast 20 km/h increasing to 40 gusting to 60 this evening then becoming southwest 40 gusting to 60 overnight. Temperature rising to 8 by morning.


Should have kept my big, fat yap shut -- the lobster claw has closed.


Ha ha! Pride goeth before a fall. :-) I'm in central NH, and we have a nice fresh foot + of fine, very dense snow - and it's still coming down quite steadily. At least we didn't get the freezing rain stuff. We had a helluva ice storm last month, and don't need another this year...

Good luck, and I hope it stays snow for you...

Ha ha! Pride goeth before a fall. :-)

I was kinda counting on the hyper-inflated ego to cushion my fall. ;-)

Good luck, and I hope it stays snow for you...

Thanks, but living on the coast almost guarantees otherwise. It's now a freezing rain/snow mix, with temperatures slowly creeping upward (currently, my outdoor thermometer tells me were at -2C). No real accumulation to speak of, but it will be interesting to see how it ultimately plays out; we've lost power on three separate occasions this past month due to weather, so there's a little bit of paranoia at work here.


Chuckle Paul, took me over an hour to go 17 miles tonite. I was 2 cars behind a plow truck when the plow itself went right off the side of the road, still plowing at that, so much for those mail boxes These roads right on the coastline twist and turn like mad, and he just slightly misjudged one of those 90 degree turns. Next to no visibility. No high beams, just a whiteout if you use them.

Winds are really picking up now, don't have much of anyplace left to pile snow. Seems to be quite a pounding this winter, between the extreme cold and then more snow, (rinse, repeat) I'm getting kind of tired of digging out the firewood.

Snug and toasty now though.

BTW add me in to the statistics, just had my hours cut by 50%. I work for a contractor who had a contract with the local hospital, well tuns out the hospital investments went in the dumper, and they are facing bankruptcy. Major layoffs and cutbacks and the contract I worked on is one of them. Not good as my wife is a cook there, still has her hours so far. No big deal as we have been planning for this for years. Starting to look like I won't have to drive to work in horrible weather. There are positives in everything. Maybe cut more wood and sell it. We're flexible, spend more time in the gardens, I keep thinking about opening a simple wood fired bakery, wife is a great baker, and I take direction well.

Tip of the Jim Beam, ( 3 fingers ) to Airdale, Paul and all affected by this next storm. Looking at the news it looks like there are tons of people without power.

Don in Maine

Glad you made it home OK, Don. Looking at the satellite maps, I could see you were getting gut punched yet again. The winds at the airport are supposedly running SE 55 km/hr, gusting to 71, but it's eerily calm here at the moment and the snow/rain has stopped. It almost feels as if you're walking through the woods and being tracked by a pack of wolves -- you know they're out there, but they're staying out of sight, waiting for the right moment to make their move.

I'm truly sorry to hear of the financial troubles at your hospital and cutback in your hours. There's some comfort knowing you're well-equipped to deal with whatever life throws your way. In any event, I do wish you and your colleagues the very best.


Don, what hospital? Can you email me off list - see my profile. There are a number of them in trouble. I've been thinking the hospital system was likely to crash about the time new school and town budgets go into effect.

cfm in Gray, ME

Hi Don,

Shortly after logging off last night, the high winds hit and not long after that we lost power (not a big surprise given our tin foil and papier maché distribution system). We're back up again, but this is the fourth extended outage in the past month, with a few minor ones sprinkled in for good measure. Oh, yeah, someone forgot to tell the autoreclosers to give up after the third try. :-(


there is no limit to human greed and folly(tm).
the man enslaved to wealth can never be honest.
as to jhk, he tells others what to do. he does not do these things himself. basically, message is consume less so he can have more. jhk will either be the last to change his life style or be one of the first to die WTSHTF.
jhk flies all over the world. he rents monster SUV's. he spends times in air conditioned hotels riding up and down elevators. interesting concept. tell others to live as savages while, he lives the life of elite privilege. in short BAU.
more snow and ice in northern new jersey.
my grid tied 3004 watt PV solar array has little or no output. luckily i have my wood burning stove. how will i know when things are bad? when people start stealing each others wood. in other news my town just hired a new administrator for $120,000 per year. the tax assessor got a $60,000 workman's comp payout because his office has mold. i got an offer for a skilled machinist job for 20% less than my laid off job. trillions for the elites and nothing for rank and file.
i kid you not, the manufacturing sector is not a pretty place to work. unsafe, unhealthy, down right dangerous and low wages.
when i can get 40% more then i will know things are going in the right direction. obama better get some hope and change happening very quickly. the elite slogan,"good paying jobs? not in my backyard".
stick a fork in uhmerica's buttock. turn it over. we is done. -1

Humbaba "The man enslaved to wealth can never be honest"..............
That was the best post for awhile.
It is what we need though....honesty.
It's okay to propose engineering to to save the day as long as we admit we are being elitist and attempting to preserve BAU and save our own skins.

What does a person looking out their glassless shanty window in Sao Paulo or Madras say..."oh I wish they would build an electric railway so I can be saved". What would they say on the reservation, what would the Hatfields and McCoys say?

As long as we recognize our proposals will service the already rich or the new elite, which will be those employed and provide them with the means to continue life in the manner to which they have grown accustomed.

The unemployed or slave labor employed with no prospects, will not benefit one iota from the electric cars or railways, (unless the thinking is all the new transport will allow BAU to resume) they will be condemned to be collateral damage in the die-off and best not thought about.

All we need is honesty. IF we get honest and only then, can we tackle the whole of the problem. We need to think ahead in the game, population increases, employment, food, clothing, shelter and security. Stop thinking about what it takes for us to to be satisfied now and think about what it will take for us to be satisfied in the future, it is NOT one and the same.

If I say I propose an electric car for everyone who needs it or access to electrified transport to those who need (or afford) it and all the rest can look after themselves, I'm being honest.

Lets not pretend we want or even consider that we can help everyone. Say what you mean and let us dissect the intent and ramifications of the proposal or decision. Tell us who will benefit but most of all who WILL NOT, see if we can live with our conscience when we are honest.

Now if I am honest, I think it doesn't matter what we do or don't do, the outcome will be the same, the time-lines and players may vary but inevitably the system will go down and those remaining or rising from the ashes will simply be the outcomes of circumstance.

The argument here is "we don't know the future", "a singularity could occur", "there may be a good black swan", "our mitigations may work and benefit most", "we have to do something, we can't just sit around"..............

When it comes to the future we all have opinions, we are mostly individual and think differently, it's what makes us human.
And now it turns out, being human is quite a big (insurmountable) problem.

I got into a rant and as I'm being honest I'm embarrassed but not sorry.

What does a person looking out their glassless shanty window in Sao Paulo or Madras say..."oh I wish they would build an electric railway so I can be saved". What would they say on the reservation,

Actually it would make a significant difference in their lives. Access to jobs, more competitive shopping, lower freight costs for supplies, like food.

I cannot go into details, but EMU service on freight rail lines to a reservation was considered as a significant benefit in a larger plan. Isolation and high transport costs work against many reservations.

IMVHO, the benefits are diffuse and vary from one future scenario to another. NOTHING can benefit everyone equally and to make that a goal is fanciful.

I do not worry overall on exactly how the benefits will shake off, because it quite frankly cannot be properly calculated.

Best Hopes for Pro Bono Publico,


In a World full of a dizzying amount of data there is probably just a handful that we really need to make decisions about the future:

As an interesting aside, one may note that the present US debt of US$10.5 trillion easily exceeds the value of ALL circulating currencies in the world PLUS the value of all gold ever mined! A naive person may wonder just exactly how the American government ever intends to pay this debt off...

What is the analysis on this statement from a large energy firm trying to build an offshore windfarm.

Energy firm Centrica says wind costs 6 times nuclear power.

To those who strongly support wind have any view/reaction/opinion on what Centrica says wind power costs ? I have no problem with wind power getting built at 6 times the cost. I just have a problem with those who say wind and solar and hydro and geothermal are the only things we should build and/or depower. Supply chains and capacity for all of the non-coal power sources have to be built up.


The Financial Times reported at the weekend that Paul Golby, chief executive of E.ON UK - which owns 30 per cent of the Array venture - says that "the economics [of the Array] are looking pretty difficult".

Offshore windfarms like the Array are much more expensive to build and maintain than onshore ones, costing roughly twice as much. The FT quotes energy major Centrica as estimating the cost of offshore capacity at £3m per megawatt, more than double what it costs to build nuclear stations.

The cost of the electricity produced is even worse than this figure indicates; wind farms' average output over time is around 30 per cent of their capacity, whereas nuclear stations typically run at 90 per cent. Thus, it costs more than six times as much to build a given level of power production using windfarms as it does using nuclear.

I'd like to see a nice mix of wind in appropriate spots, lots of solar thermal in the Mojave, solar pv spreading to houses and businesses as costs and efficencies improve and some modern, assembly-line style nukes go up.

The one nice thing about wind is it is ready to go right now, and whether you agree with it or not, nukes take a LOT of time. Could the times be brought down on nuke? Probably, especially if we pick one very good design and go with that everywhere - but we are still talking about 8-10 years to even start getting them done. In the meantime, throw up lots of wind - use all that metal that isn't going into autos - heck, use the assembly lines and workers from Detroit to build them - we could be putting a lot of windmills up very quickly. Increase pumped storage - seems like a "shovel-ready" project right there. We could also start building up a lot of solar thermal in the desert of the southwest - pretty hard to argue against it I would think, and again, we could start building very quickly, employing a lot of out-of-work construction folks, and electricians.

Nuke should be part of the mix, but I don't think you need to so consistantly trash other options (other than corn ethanol) - we all understand the wind doesn't blow all the time and the sun isn't up 24hrs a day...

I agree with making as much nuclear, wind, solar, geothermal etc...as possible. I also know that coal will still be built for a while going forward as well.

The supply chains and money in general are not overlapping.

Building a nuclear plant does not prevent 5000 wind turbines from being built.

On an individual project basis the utility is not considering a choice between nuclear plant and wind farm. The characteristics are too different.

Just as a company looking to buy a fleet of cars is not considering building a train and track. Technically both a fleet of cars and a train are moving stuff, but they are so different in terms of the flexibility in how they are used that they do not compete for most projects. Either I want a train or I want a fleet of cars. The question becomes which maker and supplier of trains.

Long term government policy and infrastructure build can effect the mix. But in the short term (up to 10 years or less) conditions are relatively set for planning purposes.

Westinghouse was not going to make wind turbines if China or Florida does not give them a nuclear plant order. When nuclear plants get cancelled in general someone is firing up natural gas or coal. See Italy, Germany etc... A utility either wants more baseload or they are adding some green power.

So since there is no overlap, then whether it takes 5 years, 8 years, 10 years or 15 years. It does not matter when comparing different energy sources. The projects need to be in motion now so that come out completed at the other end sooner.

How long it takes is more of a separate question for each power source and different companies competing for orders.

A wind turbine factory or component making company will get orders if they have available capacity sooner and can deliver faster and more reliably.

Nuclear can be increased in the short term with power uprates.

Get companies and governments to fill the order books for wind turbines etc... just as it was in 2006 and 2007. But then you still hit supply chain limits and end up with a backlog for turbines and components etc...

It does not take that long to build 1 car either, but it takes time to scale up factories and the supply chain and the businesses and the financial markets to go from 10 million cars to 15 million cars/year etc...

I think onshore wind, Nuclear, Fossil CHP, CSP / CCGT hybrid plants should be the focus of our new generating capacity with more attention paid to demand side, frequency response and energy efficiency measures.

Onshore wind can be constructed, pay its energy back ten times over and turn a profit before a new nuclear plant is connected to the grid. Granted over 40-50 years the nuclear plant will produce ~6 times as much energy as the the wind farm does in its operational life (3x capacity factor 2x operational lifetime approximatly) for roughly the same build cost. However the interest paid on the build cost of the nuclear plant means the economics tend to favour wind power as no private capital is used to build nuclear plants. I personally think we should be building as many of both as possible, as relying on a single technology is a bad idea. A balanced grid should have a mostly nuclear baseload with renewables, pumped storage and load following fossil fuel plants making up the balance, somewhere along the lines of 20% Nukes, 20% CHP 20% Wind, 20% Coal and 20% CCGT depending on the country and resources etc.

whereas nuclear stations typically run at 90 per cent.

"Typically" is pro-nuke propaganda. In the USA, it takes a decade or two or three to reach that level. From memory, UK nukes are far short of that %.

"at best" is more truthful, with plenty of examples of multi-year shutdowns with 0% capacity. Brown's Ferry I has about 30 years of 0% capacity.


Brown's Ferry I has about 30 years of 0% capacity.

After bailing out the banking industry we need to put unemployed carpenters, dog walkers, and real estate agents to work building more of these. Safe, clean, no radiation nuclear!! Who would have thunk? Only the naive fail to understand the eternal beauty of such enterprise.

Brown Ferry 1 is at 77.6% in its second year of actual operation.

Wind turbines or anything else that does no get finished has 0% capacity.

Here is an example of one of your precious transit projects. Cincinnati's subway has had about 100 years of delay and 0% capacity.

"typical" is Alanfrombigeasy propaganda.

"Typically 90%" was the pro-nuke propaganda words, not mine. True less than half the time.

Browns Ferry 1 went commercial December 20, 1973 and operated with typical low start-up capacity till a fire on March 22, 1975. Repaired and restarted in 1976. Shut down with BF 2 & BF 3 in 1985.

BF 2 was returned to service 1991, BF 3 in 1995 and BF 1 in 2007 (22 not 30 years at 0%).


Overall capacity factor for all three reactors in their first 30 years of commercial operation ?

2008 was NOT the "second year" of operation as claimed.

New nukes may well run like Palo Verde, but Browns Ferry is also a distinct possibility (especially since the experience has died or retired).

Best Hopes for Recognizing the "Commercial Risks" of new nukes, success is NOT guaranteed,


BTW, Cincinnati was never completed, like (from memory) over *40* US nukes.

Over the past two decades, nuclear power plants have achieved increasingly higher capacity factors with the same or greater levels of safety. The average capacity factor for U.S. plants in operation in 1980 was 56.3 percent; in 1990, 66 percent; and in 2007, 91.8 percent.

1994 analysis as the capacity factors were being improved.
Costs went up in the 1980's because regulations doubled staffing.
Management improved, best practices were shared and technology improvements were made to reduce

-demineralized resins to increase heat exchanger life
-erosion/corrision control and monitoring
-improved steam generator chemistry to prolong steam generator life
-improved motor operated valves


Capacity Factors

Production costs are driven to a large degree by capacity factors. As would be expected, a very positive story can also be shown here. The following observations can be made:

* Countries already at the top of the capacity factor league table – Finland, Germany, Belgium and Spain – are holding steady at around 90% or above.

* US capacity factors are now pushing up towards the best of the European fleet.

* The US capacity factor improvement in the 1990s has added the equivalent of 23 1000 MWe plants to the grid.

* Russian and Ukrainian reactors have made noteworthy output improvements.

French capacity factors continue to be lower than technical and operational standards would indicate, due to the surplus nuclear capacity in France and the limitations on exporting the surplus to neighbouring countries.

Ukraine had capacity factor improvement program with the US. Learn international best practices and procedures.

So higher capacity factor reasons- better components and the whole industry learning and sharing the best way to run things. So unless your reactor design limits what you can do then getting to 85% is definitely doable and that is why 90% is the average.

There was learning but the whole industry learned. Plus there was the spread of quality management programs throughout business.
There was also component improvement as noted. Just as there has been improvement in the quality and life of components in cars and TVs since the 70s and 80s.

The history of car warranties

1967 2 years and 24000 miles
1970 reduced back to 1 year and 12000 miles
1981 2 years and 24000 miles, chrysler 5 years and 50,000 miles
1987 3 years/unlimited miles to 6 year/60,000 miles
2003 up to 10 year/100000 miles avg 4.7 years 55,000 miles

A modern/new nuclear plant does not have to relearn the wheel and all of its people and management are not starting with a blank slate and 1975 tech and practices.

1) I am not aware of a single new nuke (CERTAINLY not the majority) that got 90% capacity factor "out of the box". A decade of maturation & operating experience with that particular nuke seems to be required.

2) Nukes were built with the best quality components FROM THE BEGINNING ! MY GOD, do you think nukes operating today were built with GM quality components ! CLOSE THEM ALL DOWN ASAP !!

There has been *NO* improvement in quality per se (thus analogies with GM are false). Analogies with Boeing might be valid; aircraft are built with the BEST quality components, like nukes. Does Boeing build better quality components today than in the 1970s ? Only to the extent that technology improves, and there has been little R&D to improve nuke plants. I do accept that new tech that you listed has improved reactor quality operations.

3) A modern/new nuclear plant does not have to relearn the wheel and all of its people and management are not starting with a blank slate and 1975 tech and practices

They will be starting with LESS than they had in 1975. a pool of people with experience building quite a few nukes were available in 1975, those nukes built in the 1960s and early 1970s. Several dozen nukes built before then gave an experienced pool of workers and managers.

One reason Palo Verde turned out well is that it was one of the last nukes and cherry picked from a pool of experienced labor & managers that were being laid off from completed and half finished nukes (TVA canceled 11 nukes, WHOOPS 4 nukes, etc. freeing up experienced workers)

Today, only people that have not worked on a new nuke for 20+ years and a small group that finished Watts Bar (only later phase work) and/or rebuilt Browns Ferry are available (TVA used much the same work crew for both, see need for experienced workers and managers).

Less, MUCH less, experience than 1975, NOT more !

Not Much Hope for a Well Run New Nuke Build today,


See problems caused by inexperienced work force in Finland building first new EU nuke in a decade,

Re: Finnish nuke

It's really becoming a joke... Finns are generally used to things happening more or less as scheduled, and this is just not going anywhere:

Finnish utility Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) has indicated in pre-arbitral correspondence it feels entitled to damages of about 2.4 billion euros from France's Areva and Germany's Siemens, the latter company said in a legal proceedings addendum to its interim report on Tuesday.

A consortium comprising Areva and Siemens is building a nuclear power station for TVO, with the project running 38 months behind schedule.


This is a well-written article. Nukes seem like a really bad economic bet to me, on top of all their other problems.

Bad Reactors
Rethinking your opposition to nuclear power? Rethink again.

The operators and managers of the nuclear reactors during the 1960s and 1970s came from coal power plants. There were various articles and books that look back at the early days. they had almost no nuclear power plants, so where did the staff and managers come from. They came from coal plants and they ran them like the coal plants that they came from. minimal paper work etc...

Then the procedures became more formalized and regulated over time, and especially after three mile island. Practially no one had more than 5 years of experience in 1975 because there were almost no nuclear plants before 1970.

There is the global pool of skill managers to be tapped now. Someone who was rolled off building a westinghouse AP1000 in China etc...

You should read that article.

Post Office Could Cut a Delivery Day

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Massive deficits could force the post office to cut out one day of mail delivery, the postmaster general told Congress on Wednesday, in asking lawmakers to lift the requirement that the agency deliver mail six days a week.

If the change happens, that doesn't necessarily mean an end to Saturday mail delivery. Previous post office studies have looked at the possibility of skipping some other day when mail flow is light, such as Tuesday.

Faced with dwindling mail volume and rising costs, the post office was $2.8 billion in the red last year. "If current trends continue, we could experience a net loss of $6 billion or more this fiscal year," Potter said in testimony for a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee.

And somewhat off topic, but could have some interesting effects on people...

House Defeats Bill to Delay Digital TV Switch

Two days after the Senate unanimously approved a four-month delay of the digital television transition, the House of Representatives did not pass the same proposal on Wednesday, “leaving the current Feb. 17 deadline intact for now,” the Associated Press reports.

“The 258-168 vote failed to clear the two-thirds threshold needed for passage in a victory for GOP members,” according to the AP.

The legislation’s failure means that the nation’s television stations will have to switch from analog to digital broadcasting by Feb. 17, unless Congress takes other steps to delay the transition.

“Instead of delaying the transition to ensure that the most vulnerable among us have the ability to prepare for the transition, they have made certain that far too many consumers across the country will wake up on February the 18th and find that their television sets have gone dark and access to news, information, and vital emergency alerts will be unavailable,” he said. “It did not have to be this way — this situation was unnecessary and avoidable.”


far too many consumers across the country will wake up on February the 18th and find that their television sets have gone dark and access to news, information, and vital emergency alerts will be unavailable

Who is lobbying to delay this? The advertising industry?

If people stop watching TV, the research tells us they get smarter and better informed.

cfm in Gray, ME

Obama was pushing for the delay. Basically, because they aren't ready yet. They ran out of coupons for converters. And smaller stations that are planning to buy the used equipment of larger stations can't do it until the larger stations convert, so they're looking for a more gradual changeover that would allow that.

The House voted along party lines for the latest bailout today. Why is it that only the House Republicans seem interested in voting their constituency? Barack might look back to 1992 and think hard about his strategy.

The Republican strategy is obvious: if the bailout "works", Obama will get the glory no matter what, and "going along" gets the Republicans nothing. If the bailout fails miserably, the House Republicans can raise heck in 2010 with populist backing.

Where's Newt these days? This seems more like his skill and wisdom than any Republican in the past 10 years.

Bush "won" for years with that Iraq war vote. Obama needed that same support now, for top cover, and doesn't seem to have it.

Hello TODers,

I wonder how many farmers are unaware of Webb-Pomerene, FFs & I-NPK cartels, FF/I-NPK latency, JIT pull-supply infrastructure, and Peak Everything?

Who will blink first in the '09 fertilizer game of chicken?
Myriad factors influencing marketplace; farmers weigh purchase options

New Survey: Fertilizer Prices Show Little Movement

UPDATE 1-Intrepid Potash slows production to trim inventory

Russia to abolish fertiliser export tariffs

..But the government said domestic fertiliser sales fell 36 percent year-on-year in November 2008. Exports of fertilisers also fell 16.3 percent in October-November from the same period a year earlier.

This forced producers to halt some of their production facilities, the government said in the statement.

"In the current global situation, the dropping of export tariffs should not be viewed as a measure of regulation of external trade, but as a form of direct financial support from the state to the fertiliser sector," the government said.
IMO, the I-NPK supply chain is working damn hard to prevent a distributional global collapse. Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

A large Russian potash mine disappeared into a giant sinkhole. Took out the railroad tracks when it went down. A major loss. I think there are hundreds of thousands of acres of potential potash land in Canada and elsewhere that might be developed. They got ADM and some Asian companies for price collusion some years ago. Might have to look at POT's business practices. Price fixing is illegal. NPK bag hugging, is that not sane?

Hello Rainsong,

Thxs for responding. Yep, I am aware of much of what you have posted in your reply; in fact, I have posted many weblinks detailing such info. Yep, price fixing is illegal [no argument from me], but Webb-Pomerene [and similar legislation in other countries] allows info-exchange so that these companies don't drive each other into bankruptcy [again, it's not the reserves, but the flowrates]--it serves no good purpose to have the I-NPK global supply chain collapse-- Recall Borlaug's Warning.

Look at this photo of POT's topdog Bill Doyle:


I am sure that he is not happy laying off employees while one billion are suffering from inadequate food from insufficient affordability of I-NPK [source:UN FAO]. IMO, he is getting that postPeak 'thousand yard stare' haunted look as he realizes what this means on the Hubbert Downslope. I have posted much before about his deep concern for preventing this:



Bill Doyle photo comes up in IE, but not in Firefox.


Looks like a 1,000 yards minimum to me.

Hello TODers,

I am still willing to be Tiger Woods postPeak financial advisor [I want a really cool, hi-tech wheelbarrow, too]:

The economic downturn cast two more tournaments into an uncertain future Wednesday when Ginn Resorts abruptly ended all professional golf sponsorships.

.."There's some concern, for sure" about the future of professional golf, veteran Mark Calcavecchia said...
I wonder if Peak Outreach has saturated the PGA yet.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that there's a lot of hydrofracking going on at the moment. I guess it's a lot cheaper than drilling. I've got this information from industry insiders, but cannot offer any hard proof that this is actually happening. Maybe someone in the know can confirm or deny this.

i am having a little trouble interpreting your post. and i assume you are refering to hydraulic frac'ing of horizontal wells. the general trend is toward more frac stages and longer laterals.

frac stages are isolated throughout the lateral length using "swell packers" such that individual segments of the lateral can be frac'ed separately. this practice results in more efficient flow paths to the wellbore. but on the other hand, these staged frac jobs are expensive.

brigham exploration recently stated in a presentation that each stage (in the williston basin bakken) was running $200k. and for a typical ~ 2mile lateral, they were using 20 or more stages. at some point, the benifit of more stages reaches a limit. and imo, the jury is still out on whether more stages results in better well economics.

i remain doubtful that more stages will result in significant additional reserves. certainly, more stages will result in faster depletion and that may present better pv economics, maybe not. brigham also recently stated that the added cost of drilling and completing a 2 mile vs 1 mile lateral was about 3 weeks of rig time and the cost of the additional steel pipe.

the company formerly known as enron (eog) continues to drill ~ 1 mile laterals in the flagship of the bakken developement, the parshall field. and the reason for this is apparently that parshall is more intensly naturally fractured (higher effective permeability) and the economics just work out that way.

British man runs 2557 miles across Australia... with a wheelbarrow
A 65-year-old British man has almost completed an epic 2557 mile run across Australia, while pushing a wheelbarrow.
I hope this link help TODers understand why the Chinese considered their invention of the wheelbarrow as a key strategic and logistical weapon. Recall that they killed those they suspected of trying to steal the design of wheelbarrows and rickshaws.


Have I mentioned before about a postPeak need for America to have Strategic Reserves of Bicycles & Wheelbarrows?

Busy day, big storm. Just some thoughts on the thread, a bunch of labeling going on. Liberal, conservative etc. I've spent the better part of 60 something years divesting myself of labels. They mean nothing, are of no use. Neo this or that, means nothing. Much of this is over thought, like dissecting the kitten to see where the purr comes from. That's fine but you never hear the purr again, and you have to deal with a dead cat.

I've found the best label is someones name, it is who they are.. not anything else. I don't label Euan or Airdale I listen to what they say. Labeling, placing people in blocks, in tiny places to define their thoughts just does not work. Culture of fear. Spinning wheels, and the idea you can define something in language, that actually means something. Heads up, it doesn't.

Debate that all you want, if you do you have not yet felt the full fury of the way things will be, your thoughts and feelings will go away so fast when it becomes about how you stay warm and eat today.

Pointless crap. Large smelly piles. Exercise in futility. Waste of posting space, define the individual through wikipeia. Like that means anything. You folks have some problems.

Don in Maine

bunch of labeling going on. Liberal, conservative etc. ...They mean nothing, are of no use.

+8 (<--- Closest I could get to infinity.)

From my experience, when one say's there is no left or right, that it no longer applies, I always find a strong right turn.
Just sayin-----

Well, you know what they say:

Two wrongs don't make a right, but three rights make a left :-)

The Awesome Power of a African Wheelbarrow:

Community heroes rewarded

Njuki was nominated by Hajat Aisha Sserunkuma, his grandmother and Mr John Kaddu, a resident of Kawempe Muslims Parish for his contribution towards raising the level of community health and hygiene by collecting garbage from people’s homes and the streets.

He also fills potholes and cleans the village roads that are covered with silt and rubbish whenever it rains.

Despite his multiple disabilities, Njuki, an 18-year-old orphan has for years been using this wheelbarrow to transport garbage from people’s homes to gazetted dumping sites at a fee to support himself.

He is partially deaf, partially blind, and has difficulty with speech in addition to being mentally retarded.

..He used to carry the sacks of rubbish on his head..
Any American should never whine, bitch & moan, or complain ever again as we go postPeak. 'Nuff said.

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