DrumBeat: February 4, 2009

Downturn ends boom in solar and wind power

NEW YORK: Wind and solar power grew at a blistering pace in recent years, and that growth seemed likely to accelerate, especially in the United States under the green-minded administration of the new president, Barack Obama.

But because of the credit crisis and the broader economic downturn, the opposite is happening: Except in isolated markets, like China, installation of wind and solar power is slowing, and in some cases plummeting.

Factories building parts for these industries in the United States have announced a wave of layoffs in recent weeks, and trade groups are projecting 30 percent to 50 percent declines this year in the installation of new equipment, a decrease that bars more help from the government.

$100 billion jolt of 'green stimulus'

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A short-term booster shot for the economy? Or a complete rethinking of the way businesses and individuals consume energy?

Those are the crucial questions as Congress debates the more than $100 billion in initiatives that are currently part of the nearly $900 billion stimulus package.

Scientists to provide Xcel with US wind forecasts

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Atmospheric researchers based in Colorado said on Wednesday they will provide Xcel Energy Inc with detailed wind forecasts every three hours to help maximize power generation from the alternative energy source.

"One of the major obstacles that has prevented more widespread use of wind energy is the difficulty in predicting when and how strongly the wind will blow," William Mahoney, the program director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said in a release.

Goldman Says Oil Market May Require Non-OPEC Cuts

(Bloomberg) -- OPEC oil supply cuts may not be enough to counter falling industrial demand, requiring reductions by non-OPEC producers to restore balance to the market, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said today.

January output must be curtailed by another 1.1 million barrels a day to reduce a surplus, commodity analysts Giovanni Serio and Jeffrey Currie said in a report. About 600,000 barrels a day will probably have to come from non-OPEC producers, with another 500,000 from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

“Prices will have to remain under pressure in the near term to force non-OPEC producers to cut supply,” they said.

UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia can
 Balance Budget at $45 Per Barrel

DUBAI — The UAE, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia will be able to balance their 2009 budgets even if oil prices stay at $45 per a barrel, while Qatar, Bahrain and Oman will require higher prices —above $60 per barrel — the latest research by Kuwait Financial Centre (Markaz) said.

Forecasting a average $45/bbl price during first half of 2009, Markaz said the country with the highest dependence on oil revenues was Saudi Arabia as 89 per cent of its 2009 revenues would come from oil sales while the country with the least dependency on oil revenues would be Kuwait with 69 per cent of its total revenues expected from oil this year.

Petrobras Will Receive 33 New Oil Rigs By 2012

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil’s state-controlled oil company, will receive 33 new oil rigs by 2012 as it seeks to boost output, an official said.

Petrobras, as the Rio de Janeiro-based company is known, will receive 11 rigs this year, head of Exploration Services Erardo Barbosa said today at a news conference in Rio de Janeiro. The company currently operates 40 rigs, he said.

“We can’t be conservative in our goals,” Exploration Director Guilherme Estrella said at the same conference. “We must be ambitious.”

Venezuela Union Says It Took Over 4 Helmerich Rigs

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuelan oil union Fedepetrol took control of four Helmerich & Payne Inc. oil rigs that the company was about to move out of oil fields, a union leader said.

“We’re not allowing the exit of the equipment from the zone” of oilfields in eastern Venezuela’s Monagas state, Sanchez, secretary general of Fedepetrol in Punta de Mata, Venezuela, said today in a phone interview. “Further, we are increasing our guard over the other seven rigs” operated by the Tulsa-based company, he said.

Mexico Carries Out `Extraordinary' Intervention After Peso Hits Record Low

(Bloomberg) -- Mexico’s central bank is buying pesos in the foreign-exchange market after the currency plunged to a record low today, the bank’s press office said.

A joint central bank and finance ministry committee decided Banco de Mexico would “inject liquidity,” according to an e-mail sent by the central bank’s press office. The intervention is an “extraordinary” measure beyond the bank’s normal offer to buy $400 million worth of pesos a day, the press office said.

Mexico inks pact to sell geothermal power to L.A.

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The city of Los Angeles, which has a goal of getting 20 percent of its power from renewable sources, agreed in principal on Tuesday to purchase Mexican geothermal power, Mexico's state-owned power monopoly said.

Regulator sets tougher green energy guidelines

LONDON (Reuters) - Energy suppliers must abate carbon emissions by at least a tonne for every residential customer signed up to "green" electricity tariffs under new guidelines set by energy regulator Ofgem on Wednesday.

Arctic storms seen worsening; threat to oil, ships

OSLO (Reuters) - Arctic storms could worsen because of global warming in a threat to possible new businesses such as oil and gas exploration, fisheries or shipping, a study showed on Wednesday.

"Large increases in the potential for extreme weather events were found along the entire southern rim of the Arctic Ocean, including the Barents, Bering and Beaufort Seas," according to the study of Arctic weather by scientists in Norway and Britain.

A shrinking of sea ice around the North Pole, which thawed to a record low in the summer of 2007, was likely to spawn more powerful storms that form only over open water and can cause hurricane-strength winds.

Disaster in the Senate

After today’s dramatic failure of the Murray/Feinstein amendment, which would have given $25 billion more to transportation projects in general and $5 billion more for transit specifically, I didn’t think matters could get much worse, but they’ve gone terribly wrong in almost every way possible.

Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and James Inhofe (R-OK) will introduce an amendment later today giving $50 billion to highways alone. No money for transit, and a lot of money going directly to states that will spend their funds on highways we don’t need.

Meanwhile, Senator Boxer is also coming close to endorsing a plan by Kit Bond (R-MO) to transfer $5.5 billion that would be for any type of surface transportation to highways alone. Hello?

Perhaps the cherry on the cake was the passage by voice vote an amendment by Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) that will allow consumers to get a tax rebate on payments on car loans.

White House role in slashing stimulus bill transit funding questioned

Who's responsible for allocations in the stimulus package? Who decided that roads would get $30 billion, transit would get $9 billion, and that the "smart grid" would get $11 billion? According to transit advocates who've talked with House transportation committee chair James Oberstar, D-Minn., it was Lawrence Summers, director of the White House's National Economic Council.

IEA May Cut Oil Demand Forecast Again, Newedge Says

(Bloomberg) -- The International Energy Agency, an energy policy adviser to 28 nations, is likely to reduce its 2009 oil demand forecast again, following changes to International Monetary Fund economic predictions, Newedge USA LLC said.

The Paris-based IEA calculates consumption using economic estimates from the IMF, which on Jan. 28 lowered its outlook for 2009 world economic growth to 0.5 percent, from a November forecast of 2.2 percent.

The IMF revision “will ensure that the International Energy Agency will once again slash its estimate of annual oil demand growth,” said the report by Antoine Halff, head of energy research at Newedge in New York.

Fuel emergency part 2: IEA plan

The issue of planning for and administering fuel emergencies is complex and multi-layered, involving a range of commercial interests, government agencies and a tangle of legislation, policies and jurisdictions, one of the largest and most influential of which is the International Energy Agency, an autonomous body within the framework of the OECD.

OPEC ready to cut more oil to defend price

LONDON (Reuters) - OPEC stands ready to cut yet more oil output at a meeting next month, its fourth reduction since September, to revive prices battered by the first demand drop in more than 20 years.

Saudi Arabia Raises All Prices for March Oil Exports

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest state-owned oil company, raised the official selling prices for all of crude grades it will export to customers in March.

Saudi Arabia increased the prices for its Extra Light, Light, Medium and Heavy crude grades for export to the U.S., Europe and Asia next month, the Dhahran-based company said today in a faxed statement. Prices were increased most to the U.S., by as much as $4.70 a barrel for the country’s Heavy grade.

Market elusive for US West Coast LNG imports

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Woodside Petroleum's decision to scrap a liquefied natural gas import terminal in California last month bodes ill for developers on the U.S. West Coast already struggling to bring projects to fruition.

Saudi, Iran make use of fuel glut

A glut of refined petroleum products in Asia has prompted the two biggest Gulf oil exporters, Saudi Arabia and Iran, to make unusual purchases of gas oil.

While Saudi Arabia is using the fuel for power generation and transport, Iran is stockpiling it in tankers. The national Saudi petroleum company, Saudi Aramco, has agreed to buy about 3 million barrels of gas oil from the Japanese trader, Itochu, under a term contract to deliver the fuel to the kingdom from March to December, according to Reuters.

Petrobras plans to sell 10-yr bonds

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil's state-run oil giant Petrobras plans to sell 10-year bonds in the international capital markets to help fund its investment plan, International Financing Review said on Wednesday.

US Kyrgyz base is pressure point

The closure of the Manas US airbase in Kyrgyzstan would be a severe blow to the conduct of the war in Afghanistan.

It is the only US base in Central Asia, and not only is it used for combat sorties - it is a key link in the supply chain which is expected to be used increasingly heavily as a build-up of US reinforcements into Afghanistan develops.

Tajikistan: Aluminum Plant Production Plummets

The Talco aluminum plant in Tajikistan has dramatically scaled backed production, as the country’s energy crisis is starting to bite. The struggling, indebted company is operating with nearly a third less energy, and employees are working for just one hour a day.

Coal and oil will make Magallanes “Chile’s energy centre”

Magallanes region in the extreme south of Chile is becoming the “energy centre of the country” based primarily on the development of coal resources and the exploration for hydrocarbons said Chile’s National Energy Commission president Marcelo Tokman.

New UK nuclear partnership formed

French energy group GDF Suez and Spain's Iberdrola have announced the creation of a partnership to build nuclear power stations around Britain.

Fourth Cyclone Brews Off West Australian Oil Region

A tropical low has formed on the remote west Australian coast on Tuesday and may develop into the region's fourth cyclone later in the week, the Bureau of Meteorology said, potentially threatening some offshore oil and gas fields.

Byron King: Unwinding Complexity and the Collapse of Societies

My take-away thought about this was how complex our society has become. There are layers upon layers of complexity and astonishing levels of technical expertise. There are so many different organizations, agencies, groupings of people and assemblages of equipment. It all costs a lot of money and consumes a lot of energy. When something dramatic happens, like an airplane crash, it all mobilizes and comes on-site. That’s OK when major disasters are one-off incidents. But what if several incidents occur in short order or close proximity? What happens when money, if not energy, gets scarce? The whole process could get overwhelmed.

Standing room only in Seaside event

"Within 18-36 months, we will have terrible trouble with oil and natural gas," said Kunstler. His prediction was not disputed by anyone present.

Rust belt cities such as Baltimore, Pittsburg and smaller towns and cities were mentioned by various panelists as prime candidates for renovation, re-densification and "urban in-fill." Heavily oil-dependent cities such as Phoenix, Las Vegas and Houston were noted by the panel as most likely not to thrive in the new economy.

Food, Finance and Democracy in Crisis

"But when you introduce markets in food, you introduce two very simple rules," Raj said. "The first rule is that if you have money, you get to eat." In fact, you can eat food from halfway around the world, if you like. If you have enough cash and you can pay for it, as the British did, then you can buy food from India and ship it half-way across the world so that workers in London, Manchester and Liverpool can have food to eat.

"And when you introduce global food markets, the second rule is that if you have no money, you will starve." That's exactly what happened in India. There are plenty of stories of Indian workers loading the grain onto the ships destined for Liverpool, and dying of famine on the docks. They didn't die because of a shortage of food; there was more food than ever before in India's history.

Saudi Aramco Wins Award for Clean Fuel Technology

The FINANCIAL -- Saudi Aramco has been awarded the National Oil Companies (NOC) Forum Environmental Stewardship Award for its groundbreaking research on Electron Beam Flue Gas Treatment (EBFGT) technology.

Alberta competitiveness study raises ire of some

CALGARY -- Alberta's energy minister says a new government probe comparing Alberta's energy rules and taxes to competing provinces is not about reopening the contentious royalty debate, but critics remain unconvinced.

Clean-Coal Debate Pits Al Gore’s Group Against Obama, Peabody

(Bloomberg) -- Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and his Alliance for Climate Protection say clean-coal technology is a fantasy.

Peabody Energy Corp., the biggest U.S. coal producer, says another prominent Democrat has pledged to make the technology a reality: President Barack Obama.

Merrill: Non-OPEC oil production may have peaked

Merrill Lynch on Tuesday said that crude oil production from non-OPEC nations may have already peaked, nothing that oil production decline rates were a function of investment rates, as well as the size and age of oil fields. 'All these factors point to steeper oil output declines going forward,' the firm wrote.

...'Should the credit crunch push decline rates to 6 percent, however, non-OPEC production could decline precipitously toward million barrels per day by 2015 from the current levels,' it wrote.

Also: Has non-OPEC oil production peaked?

Oil majors to keep investing to avoid past mistakes

LONDON (Reuters) - Many oil companies are slashing investment in the face of a $100/barrel collapse in crude prices but, keen to avoid past mistakes and emerge as winners from the downturn, the very biggest are holding spending steady.

Drivers seek mileage boost despite cheaper fuel

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The sharp drop in gasoline prices since last summer has not erased concern about pump prices or U.S. dependence on foreign oil, and most American drivers list fuel economy as important in future vehicle purchases, a consumer group said on Tuesday.

"The persistence of great concern about gas prices and dependence on oil imports shows a strong base of public support for significant improvements in motor vehicle fuel economy," said Mark Cooper, Research Director for the Consumer Federation of America.

Metals, oil prices set for weak 2009

PARIS, (AFP) – Depressed prices for metals and oil are likely to stay weak for most of this year given the worsening state of the global economy, but gold and agricultural commodities are on a firmer trend, analysts say.

Russia's debt rating downgraded by Fitch

Russia's debt rating was cut by Fitch Ratings for the first time in more than a decade because of falling oil prices, dwindling foreign currency reserves and record capital flight.

The rating was lowered to BBB, the second-lowest investment grade, from BBB+, Fitch said in a statement on Wednesday. Fitch maintained its negative outlook. Standard & Poor's Ratings Services took the same action on Dec. 8.

BP's unhappy marriage to the Russian oligarchy

He is committed to trying to make BP's joint venture with four Russian oligarchs work. This is a far tougher job than trying to fix the price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate. The oligarchy redefine the word "challenging". BP's joint venture in western Russia, TNK-BP, has been an unhappy marriage since it was contracted in 2003. It is of huge strategic importance for BP – a quarter of its output and reserves – and contains huge promise. Disappointingly, it recorded a loss of $700m in the last quarter of 2008, helping push BP's overall results into negative territory for the last three months of last year.

China auto sales seen surpassing US in January

China likely overtook the U.S. in vehicle sales for the first time last month, a trend that could make China into the world's largest auto market this year.

Official data for China's auto sales in January will not be out until next week. But they are expected to show sales at about 790,000 units for the month, Zhang Xin, an analyst at Guotai Junan Securities in Beijing, said Wednesday.

In the U.S., meanwhile, auto sales in January tumbled 37 percent to 656,976 vehicles, the lowest monthly level in 26 years.

Bulgaria wants new gas deal with Gazprom

Bulgaria's foreign minister says his country wants a new gas agreement with Russia's Gazprom so some intermediaries are removed.

Ivailo Kalfin says Bulgaria wants to replace the three intermediaries that deliver Russian gas to Bulgaria with just one, to reduce the price Bulgaria pays.

UK workers reject deal to end foreign labour row

LONDON (Reuters) - British workers rejected a deal on Wednesday to resolve a dispute over the use of foreign labour at a French-owned oil refinery in Britain and said unofficial strikes would continue.

Insecurity grows in Nigerian oil hub, 3 kidnapped

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria (Reuters) - Gunmen in Nigeria have kidnapped the wife of a former oil minister, a local employee of Italian energy firm Agip and an electoral official in recent days, police said on Wednesday.

The three separate incidents on Monday and Tuesday underline growing insecurity in the oil-producing Niger Delta, where gunmen last week shot dead the 11-year-old daughter of a Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) worker and abducted his 9-year-old son.

ADM ethanol production sinks 21%

CHICAGO (Reuters) -- U.S. ethanol producer and grain processor Archer Daniels Midland Co. said Tuesday nearly 21% of U.S. ethanol production capacity has been shut due to weak demand and poor margins.

U.S. ethanol plants with a production capacity of 10.2 billion gallons per year are currently operating, down from a peak of 12.9 billion sometime mid-to-late last year, ADM Executive Vice President John Rice said on a conference call with analysts.

MGP Ingredients to end ethanol production

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – MGP Ingredients Inc. said Tuesday it plans to leave the ethanol business and will temporarily shut down distillery operations in Illinois, requiring the temporary layoffs of 79 workers.

It also warned in a securities filing that it was in default of its credit facility and seeking additional financing "to continue as a going concern."

Alaska lowers oil price forecast, expects deficit

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - Alaska revenue officials said on Tuesday they have lowered their expectations for North Slope crude oil prices and are expecting a much bigger budget deficit than earlier estimated.

Prices for Alaska North Slope crude are expected to average $63.28 a barrel for the current fiscal year, according to the new forecast released by the state Department of Revenue. That is a substantial decrease from the $77.66-a-barrel average price that the department forecast in December.

Return of the electric car

At the recent Detroit motor show, one word raised a buzz amid the current doom and gloom of the global car industry: "electrification".

Bat-killing syndrome spreads in Northeast

ROSENDALE, N.Y. - A mysterious and deadly bat disorder discovered just two winters ago in a few New York caves has now spread to at least six northeastern states, and scientists are scrambling to find solutions before it spreads across the country.

White-nose syndrome poses no health threat to people, but some scientists say that if bat populations diminish too much, the insects and crop pests they eat could flourish.

Drought in Australia food bowl continues

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Drought in Australia's main food growing region of the Murray-Darling river system continues, with water stores near record lows despite recent rains, the head of the government's oversight body for the system said on Wednesday.

The long-running drought has hit irrigated crops such as rice, grapes and horticulture hardest, but has had less impact on wheat with good falls of rainfall in grain-growing areas to the north of the Murray-Darling River basin.

John Holdren, Ideological Environmentalist

Despite his early peak-oil proclivities, Holdren did acknowledge in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists back in 1975 that "civilization is not running out of energy; but it is running out of cheap energy." But even then, he was clearly convinced that energy supplies would become ever more expensive. More recently, Holdren has declared that even "peak oil" is debatable.

Australian city planning hurtles towards crossroads

The world's great cities are at a crucial tipping point in their development. London is finding it difficult to cope with the growth in demand for public transport, Beijing has serious air pollution and the infrastructure of US cities is collapsing. Australia's cities are rightly regarded as some of the finest urban environments in the world but they, too, are in trouble.

Tailpipe turnaround

Jan Lundberg, a former oil industry analyst turned activist and a former member of the San Francisco Peak Oil Preparedness Task Force, calls for even bolder steps: "The kinds of amelioration being talked about and offered are woefully inadequate. We should just get rid of car dependency. Most of the pollution involved — into the air, from the car — is not from the tailpipe. It's from the mining and the manufacturing associated with the car."

The Population Bum

Nothing in history suggests that a declining population benefits humanity. Everything we have experienced,though, indicates that humans move forward as their numbers grow.

Obama's Lincoln Thing

We’ve got two choices. One is the Lincolnesque way that Obama seems to promise: government subsidies for the larger corporations and banks (as Lincoln pushed in his day, especially for the railroads), refurbishing of the infrastructure (ditto), nationalization of the financial system and reckless printing of currency, increased centralization of the government and its hold on the economy, continuation and expansion of warfare and the war machine (all ditto). That is a continuation of the past, and it is amazing that the nation largely does not recognize it as a recipe for continued collapse. It is in fact not sustainable, nor is the environment in which it is floundering.

The other way is to rejigger, to dismantle, the entire system.

Abandon the empire (which we can no longer afford anyway, of course) and the war system that was begun in 1861 and has been in effective power since 1941 (of which Eisenhower famously warned us).

Denver drivers let up on gas and cut emissions

So far, results from tracking 160 Denver city vehicles and 240 private vehicles show that lightly tapping brakes, reducing rapid accelerations and not letting cars idle show an overall emissions decrease of 10 percent.

Climate bill seen possible "in weeks"

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate's top environmental lawmaker offered a preview on Wednesday of major component of climate change legislation she said could be introduced "in weeks, not months."

"We are not sitting back and waiting for some magic moment," Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, told reporters. "We're ready to go."

EPA may seek new comment on California waiver this week

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of the Environmental Protection Agency said on Tuesday she hopes to reopen the public comment period this week on California's request for authority to cut tailpipe emissions.

"I think very soon. ... I'm hoping that it will be in the next few days," EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told Reuters when asked if notice would be published this week in the Federal Register of regulations.

California Farms May Die With Changing Climate

Chu warned of water shortages plaguing the West and Upper Midwest and particularly dire consequences for California, his home state, the nation's leading agricultural producer.

In a worst case, Chu said, up to 90% of the Sierra snowpack could disappear, all but eliminating a natural storage system for water vital to agriculture.

"I don't think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen," he said. "We're looking at a scenario where there's no more agriculture in California." And, he added, "I don't actually see how they can keep their cities going" either.

This website was linked in an online NYT column on the 'burbs:


The Cul-de-sac Commune Project
Sharing resources in neighborhoods across America (and around the world…)

Come together with your neighbors and…share a compost pile ∙ plant a garden ∙ carpool ∙ share a wireless connection ∙ plant trees ∙ start a recycling program ∙ gather for weekly potlucks ∙ homeschool together ∙ share housesitting duties ∙ merge eldercare with childcare ∙ start a collective business ∙ barter services ∙ share extra storage space ∙ gather weekly for yoga or meditation ∙ create a hand-me-down program to share unwanted clothing and appliances ∙ start a knitting circle ∙ host a music event or theater performance for the neighborhood around yours ∙ share a security service ∙ construct a solar array or graywater system ∙ share pet care and dog-walking duties… Or anything else you and your neighbors cook up. Because there’s never been a better time to come together.

Some Graphics:


For some strange reason it reminds me of this week's Archdruid Report.
He talks about how people who persue 'utopian" ideals often miss the foundations needed for a harmonic co-existance.

I'm not knocking the listed suggestions, just saying that Greer's blog made sense.

Could someone please explain the Merrill Lynch article.
They analyzed the IEA report (IEA says native decline rate is 9%, but with investment it gets down to 6%)
and Merrill came up with a 4% decline rate, both in the past few years and going forward.

I know this whole area is "fun with numbers" but the differences are starting to increase.

what are the major camps, or schools of thought, and what are the assumptions that cause their estimates to differ?

IEA figures are for fields in decline. Not all fields are in decline...some are still at the plateau stage and some at the grow phase. Hence the 4%-4.5%-5%...global figure according to the analyst assumptions.

Some of the confusion lies in the categories of oil included, for example:

all conventional oil
all oil (including Canada tar sands, ultra deep water, etc.)

I think the biggest decline rates you will see, describe non-OPEC conventional oil (which excludes tar sands and deep water)

EDIT: But the biggest of all decline rates is/will be actual exported oil (the only kind we care about, because we can buy it).

In any case, depletion marches on, regardless of whether the production rate is increasing or decreasing. In fact, increasing production causes the rate of depletion to increase, especially for net oil exports. Indonesia's final production peak was 1996, but they showed a year over year increase in both production and net oil exports in 1998. But this year over year increase in net oil exports corresponded to them shipping 22% of their post-1996 cumulative net oil exports. After only two years, by the end of 1998 they had already shipped 44% of their post-1996 cumulative net oil exports.

ADM lost 111 million dollars during Q4 of 2008 in its ethanol distilling division. The industry has overbuilt production capacity, with more ethanol distillation units under construction. The ethanol bubble is bursting with a number of firms bankrupt.


California's population was about 22.4 million in 1977, thirty years later in 2007 it was 36.6 million people. With a California unwed mother recently giving birth to 8 babies in a day, California is likely to outgrow its water resources even if there were no climate change effect. The cities had political power and diverted water to their homes and away from farming districts.

I was curious about the breakdown of residential water use and found this report: http://www.pacinst.org/reports/urban_usage/. Lots of numbers to parse, but short answer is, nobody is innocent. Showers, toilets, dishwashers and lawns are all huge users of water. The first three correspond approximately to population, and old rental housing is likely to have the most wasteful plumbing. The last corresponds to size of the suburban lot.

I am wondering what the trend it ethanol production will be. Are we hitting "peak ethanol"? Leanan's article ADM ethanol production sinks 21% mentions that "nearly 21% of U.S. ethanol production capacity has been shut due to weak demand and poor margins."

Ethanol is a fossil fuel extender. It depends on adequate fossil fuels and high prices for fossil fuels. Once the high prices are gone, the economics goes to pieces, and it is hard to keep the industry going.

It will be interesting to see where this goes. Theoretically, congress could greatly increase subsidies, to make the economics "work" again, but it is hard to see this happening, with all of the other problems we have now.

There's no mystery..no peak ethanol.

Overall gasoline consumption is off slightly
and refineries aren't making low pollution RFG in anticipation of probable low summer demand--low demand low pollution.
Reformulated gasoline production has fallen
That's why ethanol is down.


Up above, rainsong talks about the bubble which is bursting. I think this is what is happening.

At current low prices, it is hard to see that importing ethanol from Brazil makes much financial sense, either, except maybe to mandated levels.

There is more ethanol capacity than is needed for current mandatory levels. More ethanol plants are under construction as existing companies are bankrupted. The efforts to make cellulosic ethanol, somewhat less profitable than corn ethanol might further wreck the economy. Government ethanol quotas and subsidies were ill advised.

Ethanol is a lousy idea when gasoline is $1.75/gal and corn is $4.00 bu.

It's a Great idea when gasoline is $2.75/gal and corn is $4.00/bu.

SO, the question is, "Will Gasoline stay at $1.75/gal?

NO, the question is "Will Gasoline stay at $1.75/gal? and corn stay at $4.00/bu.?"

That seems highly improbable. In the far more likely event that gasoline and farm "inputs" both go up as oil goes back up, ethanol remains "a lousy idea", a risibly expensive (both directly and via the many added indirect impacts on food prices) Rube Goldberg approach to Coal-To-Liquids. That receding horizon seems to be the conundrum.

We've probably had our weird corn price-spike event for awhile. Corn catches a "perfect storm" market like 08's about every 15 years. There's quite often a "flood" involved. The $3.50 to $4.00/gal range is probably a pretty good bet for most of the coming years.

You can hate corn ethanol all you want; it's here to stay. One reason everyone is having a problem with the "demand" production/imports equation is they're not factoring in the 10 Billion gal/yr of ethanol blending. This is included in the "consumption" stats, but not the "production" numbers.

$2.25 gasoline, and an "emergency" EPA move to allow 13% ethanol in regular unleaded, and ethanol will be in a much-improved situation.

The highways would be littered with cars that have died because of fuel system disintegration.

If a large organization wanted to conserve energy, I would assume they would need to hire specialists in energy efficiency. Has anybody here seen an example of how to implement an energy efficiency department?

No, but if you are serious about it, you might want to contact your congressman. He/she might have a list of examples you could reference. As a bonus you could discuss ideas for getting specific tax incentives which could easily double the savings.

How about this?

Fire some MBA bean counters and hire some engineers to replace them. Read David Halberstam's "The Reckoning" (1994). Ask the engineers to do an honest audit of all activities and implement their recommendations...

E. Swanson

Very few engineers, or what I call "Techno-droids", know how to break down a problem and simplify.

The desire to throw more techno babble at a problem has been beaten into their heads since high school. Now, they need to un-learn. Their world is built on go-go growth. More is better. You see it here in all of the posts with the gee-wiz, new fangled contraptions, created and built to work a simple problem. Most will try to beat it to death with a techno sledge hammer.

It's a rare Engineer to follow the rule of simplicity and work within the natural world.

Yes, it's rare that just one type of thinking will do a good job. I was trained as an engineer and have a natural bent toward it but I recognize its limits.

Several things have rounded me out. The first was being in business, which taught me the value of time, money and simplicity to achieve a goal to please investors and meet deadlines.
The second rounding was becoming an executive coach, which taught me how to work with people and gave me the insight that we're all basically the same machine with the same basic programming. This gives me a lot of freedom when people act like, well, people. (Not total freedom, I still get plugged in, too.)

The third rounding was learning about our environmental predicament. That showed me that I'm just part of a big system that's wonderful and profound (and also happens to be breaking down).

I wonder what the next area of my development will be? The ride has been great so far.

"That showed me that I'm just part of a big system that's wonderful and profound (and also happens to be breaking down)."

No, sorry, with all due respect. The "system" we are a small part of, is NOT breaking down. The Natural world we exist in, simply recycles our petty little attempts to change it. It is our little techno-babble way of living that is breaking. Our little ape mind is still in the Grasslands, even though so many think they have stood upright, with their clever little tricks.

Only when we can walk with the Natural World as our partner, not our enemy, will we be able to say we have evolved. Sledge Hammer techno (Thorium Reactors, Wooo Hooo!!) will not save one human. Drilling for energy, anywhere, anytime, is only slowing the train wreck a very tiny bit.

If one wants efficient technology, learn to turn out the light. In so many different ways.

I understand that point of view.

However, my research and work on the environment indicates (to me, at least) that we are fundamentally destroying "ecosystem services," in many cases irreparably in any timeframe that matters to my life and those of several generations after.

Yeah, but that doesn't mean they are "breaking down". They are responding, just not in the way we humans would prefer.

The natural inclination of any human is to solve a problem by introducing a system which does something with less of their labor. Mechanical tools were a solution, slaves were a solution, "powered" equipment was a solution. Every solution to a human production problem eventually led to leveraging cheaper energy. The idea that we have the opportunity to increase this leveraging is what got us wheer we aer today, in a world of cars, jets, iphones and washing machines.

Now, we may be coming up against a limitation on our current cheapest energy, oil and gas. Unless human kind wants to reduce our energy consumption through either die off or simplification of living (let's say 18th century as opposed to mud huts), the solution remains to leverage a new, higher EROI energy source. Thus, most solutions you will get look more "whiz bang" than current solutions. If it works and we somehow harness the energy of the sun or something better, great, we get 50-100 years more growth or more. If not, then we embrace a combination of simplification AND energy pursuit. There are alot of things we can live without and cost of living increases will expose them as energy prices rise.

We can probably survive without energy growth (assuming we kill off enough of each other), but the only truly "happy" society is one that can achieve growth, because everyone believes that its not a zero sum game in which we must compete against each other to survive. There will always be more tomorrow, so stop worrying about what you have today. If we truly believe we've lost that, we've lost the impotice to improve as a society and things will get nasty. I for one will cheer on those "techno babble" engineers trying to keep growth alive.

Hmmm....that means that technology is the solution either way: either to keep growth alive or to get people dead. The US seems to be quite proficient at both, so maybe we'll do OK?

I guess that the readily obvious to the per-capita energy problem. If you can't make more energy just have less capita?

This sounds eerily similar to "Rainbow Six" by Tom Clancy, or "Shell Game" by Steve Alten.


Its not a desirable position to be in, but I feel its the most likely scenario for mankind.

Growth or Death, hope for growth, prepare for death. Balance just isn't in us.

let's say 18th century as opposed to mud huts

Is that 18th century Marie Antoinette or 18th century landless serf?

Depends on your societal ranking. I'd get your cake eating done soon though.

Re: Is that 18th century Marie Antoinette or 18th century landless serf?

Mmmm. Head with no food, or lots of food and no head. Is there a min/max solution tree to determine the optimum choice? Maybe we should all avoid being French.

The first thing you need is management buy-in and a budget. Typically the low-hanging fruit will not require a lot of money, and the ROI will be rapid (you'll pick small, quick projects to start with so as to rapidly show success), but every dollar you need to spend to increase efficiency will be a dollar that other "top line" groups would like to spend. It is critical to have an up-front seed budget to do the first projects -- then you argue you'll pay for the rest out of savings.

I'm not big in having "departments", just a well-supported evangelist and few worker-bees and some contractors could do wonders for a 1000-man company. Make sure you can clearly document the savings and trumpet every success.

I'd say see what HereInHallifax has to say. His business contracts come from companies who have made efficiency a supportable goal, and he probably knows what works and what just wastes time. Mine just comes for tangential contact with companies who mostly failed to promote efficiency.

In excess of 12,000 employees. I don't think an evangelist would have the prerequisite knowledge to install/maintain solar panel, collect and pipe gray water, green roofs, choose insulation, etc... From my own experience at home, each step toward sustainability requires a steep learning curve.

Having built several new internal groups in smaller ($100M-$500M) companies, I can categorically state that technical expertise is necessary but not sufficient. Solving the communications, prioritization, and political issues within the organization are much harder.

Almost all the work will be done by contractors, I assume. Probably just a couple of people need the expert assessment and planning skills, unless you plan a very rapid program.

There are quite a number of LEED certified engineers out there. If you're looking for building enhancements you might look there. If it's a manufacturing or industrial shop, you will probably need to tap existing internal expertise for the process-specific design needs.

If you can, blend some high ROI projects with some longer-term but equally worthwhile projects into one project. The resulting ROI will be lower (being an average of the two), but it's one way to get money and time for the bigger measures. Instead of having a single lighting project returning (say) 65%, combine the lighting project with a water project and you can still get a respectable 35%.

Saving energy is a complex business. To be really effective you need to combine financial, engineering, maintenance and operational divisions of your organization.

Finance people are always looking for the best deal in a deregulated market and they almost always look at lowest first cost. That is how I get hired to do energy studies of buildings only 5 years old. But at the same time these people can help introduce buying policies (Office equipment, new process or HVAC systems) that take energy use into account.

There are very few good retrofit engineers available. Most look at retrofitting from an engineering only point of view... i.e. replace a 300 ton chiller with a more efficient 300 ton chiller. But there are some who look at a building inside and out and can come up with a plan to retrofit the systems to be energy efficient as simply as possible. A common mistake is to develop complex retrofit systems ( i.e water loop heat recovery), that are expensive, hard to operate and maintain. I have seen many taken out of operation.

Maintenance people are very important if you can show them the consequences of their actions; i.e. why it is important to calibrate a thermostat or installing a properly sized new high efficiency motor rather than rewinding.

Operational people are the most important. There are processes such as retro-commissioning or continuous commissioning which look at things such minimizing outside air requirements, adjusting loop supply temperatures etc. They are also the ones that can be influenced to make the extra effort to shut off lights, adjust setpoints, reduce temperatures or air flows in little used areas. They know the building and typically the use of a building does not exactly match the design intent. It is not uncommon to reduce energy use in a building 10 to 15% by instituting a retro or continuous commissioning process.

Ultimately my experience (24 years) in the field has shown that in order to reduce your organizations energy use, you require the resources of a cross section of people inside (90%) and the assistance of some consultants (10%). You can design the most efficient system around and in the end it all comes down to how it is operated and maintained.

There's been a lot of good advice offered by others, so I'm not sure I can add all that much more to the mix. I should note that my job is made much easier by the fact that 80 per cent of the cost of my work is paid by our two programme sponsors and the remaining 20 per cent can be repaid, interest free, over a two year period by way of the customer's power bill; consequently, these upgrades always generate strong net positive cash flow from day one. For example, if the customer's co-payment over this initial two-year term is $300.00/month, say, the demand and energy savings will generally fall between $700.00 and $1,200.00 per month, depending upon the specific measures undertaken and the business's hours of operation.

A couple of random thoughts for what they're worth. Speak the language of your target audience and know what makes them tick. If you need to win the hearts and minds of the accounting folks, be prepared to speak in terms of the project's internal rate of return, net present value and so on. If it's senior management, you might mention the potential productivity gains and competitive advantage that can arise. If it's the company's employees, underscore the soft benefits -- e.g., improved comfort, enhanced worker safety, etc. If there are obvious deficiencies in the current system, easily understood by all, explain how they will be addressed. Keep the message simple and stay on target.

Speaking only as an external agent, things generally go more smoothly if you can keep the company's engineers at bay; the likelihood of a proposal jumping the tracks increases dramatically otherwise (more often than not, these folks are a little behind the curve, but if you do happen to find someone up-to-date with current technology and best practices, they can be an invaluable ally). Normally, whenever I hear the words, "looks great, but I need to run this by my engineering staff" I fear things have taken a sudden turn for the worse. :-)


Maybe one should start by bringing the engineers "up to speed" on the newest and latest. They are likely to be more easily educated, given their technical backgrounds. I suspect that it's just as likely that they haven't had any incentive to keep up to date, since the management and bean counters make the final decisions, not the engineers. Dilbert cartoons wouldn't be very funny if they didn't tend to mirror life. If you convince the engineers first, it would be much easier to go to management with a proposal...

E. Swanson

Forgive me, I couldn't resist yanking on some chains. Sometimes there is that quasi-dysfunctional dynamic of which you speak, at which point I'll look for the first graceful exit that presents itself. Occasionally, you're dealing with the very same people who designed or endorsed the original system that you are proposing to replace, or you're recommending something that management had been previously told couldn't or shouldn't be done. Or there may be a pet technology that although appropriate in any number of applications may not be the best candidate for the specific task at hand. We once had an engineer at a major aircraft company adamantly deny we could do the work we had proposed for the price quoted; we subsequently discovered that this person had chosen a different contractor to upgrade another part of the facility and that this other bid came in substantially higher than our own and concluded that he didn't want to embarrass himself in the eyes of his boss.

None of this is by any means unique to the engineering profession. It's more a case of each additional party adding another layer of complexity with their respective professional interests, personalities and points of view; if you can deal with just one decision maker, so much the better.

Oh, there's that last chain I wanted to pull, if I can just reach it.... **stands on tip toes**... ah, yes, here we go.... Did I mention the often healthy dose of professional scepticism supported by an equally robust ego? ;-)


A lot of times the engineering design depends heavily on who gets paid for doing what, and their respective goals. There are good, better, and bad engineers, but really most do a pretty good job of what they're told to optimize, and you have to be careful to state what you expect clearly. All to often a new installation is designed to minimize installation time, turn-up risk, and first cost in some order, and lifecycle cost and efficiency aren't even on the list.

Point taken. Most of what I mention is personality based and I'm probably adding more colour than required. But by nature or by training, most engineers are fairly risk adverse and we-do-things-by-the-book-around-here types -- admirable qualities with respect to bridge building, aircraft manufacturing and just about everything else, but it can make the change process a little more challenging. I don't mind building my case, in minute detail if need be, but there are times when I just can't penetrate the arms folded across the chest, this-is-the-way-it-should-be-done attitude I seem to hit in this profession more so than any other. All of this could very well be the product of my imagination and indicative of my own biases, so don't put a lot of stock in it.


Not so easy. How does that actually get set up in a client engagement? The initial contact is often with the business folks.

Also might "try" to get the financial decision-makers you report to understand that when evaluating "payback", there are two different types of situations. 1) Where the choice is a) do the project b) or keep the money in the bank. 2) Where the choice is a) do the project b) or spend an equal amount purchasing a comparable product / service, eg. on electricity.

You should be able to convince your decision-makers that energy manaement / efficiency projects fall into group 2) above, whereas all corporate types are only trained to evaluate group 1) above. The point is, whereas if a bank is paying you say 10% inteest on money on deposit, then yes its true that a project must "pay back" in 2.5 years to cover lost opportunity and risk etc. BUT, it is just as logical to take a MUCH longer view of a case where if the project is not done, then they must STILL spend the same amount of money within a short timeframe. (on utility bills). Example, a project which saves $22 per year in electricity and has an expected 20 year maintenance-free lifespan STILL makes a lot of sense if it costs $100 to install, approx. a 5 year payback, even in a company with a 2.5 year capital payback policy.

Continue to hammer home the 2 different "groups" of payback options.

Hey WT,

What is your take on Russian exports decline vs. production holding strong? Do you think that their economy collapsing will slow internal consumption this year?

The resident math genius in these parts, Khebab, insisted on showing a low rate of increase in Russian consumption--only +0.3%/year plus or minus 0.8% in our Russian model (modeling production from mature basins):


Our middle case is that they approach zero net oil exports around 2024. Assuming declining consumption and the best case production curve would give them until about 2029 before they approach zero net oil exports.


It looks like this recession is biting into the only good profits Putin was ever going to make. By the time the recession is over, Russia's exports will by cut in half.

What is your take on Russian exports decline vs. production holding strong?

Russian production is not exactly holding strong. Their production declined by .9% in 2008 and is expected to decline by about twice that amount in 2009.

Slowdown signs - Russia reduces oil and gas production in January


...the war system that was begun in 1861...

Obama's Lincoln Thing

I wish somebody would tell that to Mexico, which was conquered and occupied by the armies of Generals Taylor, Wool, Kearny and Scott in the years 1846 to 1848, and which subsequently surrendered more than half its territory in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

Kirkpatrick Sale gives us the perfect example of the gross distortion of history in the service of some pet ideological or poltical pursuit.

His goal? It couldn't be more explicit:

Dismantle the government-sponsored and –coddled corporate system of large-scale capitalism (agribusiness, Big Oil, Big Pharm, Big Chem, Big Silicone, the lot), overprotected (to keep the lobbyists in business and overregulated (ditto the bureaucrats), and return to a modern variety of an early 19th-century economy, which means small holders, family farmers, local businesses, individual enterprise, neighborhood artisans, community-supported agriculture and power generation, low taxes, and local empowerment.

Of course Sale's early 19th-century American utopia never existed anywhere but in Sale's imagination. For a much more accurate reading of the historical record, I recommend Kevin Phillip's Wealth and Democracy or Reinhold Niebuhr's The Irony of American History.

About the only thing Sale gets right is that one of the priciple reasons the Civil War was fought was because of the dispute over local control vs. central government, Lincoln taking the side of central government. But this is a dispute that began way before Lincoln came on the scene, that can trace its roots back to the founding of the nation and the competing visions of Jefferson and Madison.

And there has always existed an ambivalence concerning the issue. For instance, when Texas declared its independence from Mexico, the theme of local vs. central control was key:

The Texans had gathered in November of 1835 a convention that rejected the Mexican government under the pretext of its (the Mexican government's) adoption of centralism. It abstained from declaring independence immediately in order to maintain the favor of the Mexican federalists, who they considered anticentralists.

--Josefina Zoraida Vazquez, La Intervencion Norteamericana: 1846-1848

This however didn't impede the U.S. government, despite Andrew Jackson's declaration of "neutrality," from covertly funnelling arms and money to the Texans, nor from deploying the army of General Edmund Gaines to Nacadoches to intimidate the Mexicans. The doctrine of Manifest Destiny was to trump such petty concerns such as the debate over central vs. local control. Sale of course omits this unpleasant incident from his blinkered view of history, because it provides an example of where the advocates of conquest are allied with the advocates of decentralization, and slavery.

Many Mexicans, including Zoraida Vazquez, consider it poetic justice that only a few years later Texas broke away from and fought a civil war with the U.S. under the same pretexts that Texas declared its independence from Mexico: a fervent belief in local control and the permanent enshrinement of the institution of slavery (The Mexican government had banned the entry of slaves into Texas in 1823).

Downsouth, that's too quick a dismissal of Sale's basic thesis, that scale matters. The Counterpunch article seems off his usual theme. Only this included:

Dismember the bloated Washington system as we know it (keep it around perhaps for automated record-keeping, but not defense or diplomacy), discard Congress entirely, and return effective power to the states (or better, in time, to bioregions), keep government machinery small even at that level and amenable to true democracy, and, this time around, create prohibitions against a takeover of electoral and legislative machinery by aristocratic interests and corporate cartelizers.

One can find more of his thinking at vtcommons.org. I'm not sure why he bothered with Obama's Lincoln fetish. One could more fruitfully write of Obama's Reagan fetish.

cfm in Gray, ME

What Sale advocates certainly sounds appealling, doesn't it? He urges us to "dismember the bloated Washington system as we know it", "return effective power to the states" and "keep government machinery small even at that level and amenable to true democracy." It's a governmental paradise in three easy steps.

But what subtext underlies that beguiling message, made even more so by its amazing simplicity? Because for me, it harkens back to this:

You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968 you can't say "nigger"—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff.

Lee Atwater, in 1981 interview with Bob Herbert

Of course the problem began much earlier than that, and far transcends this rather crude recounting of the Republicans' Southern Strategy.

The puzzle of how to insure the rights of minorities in a democracy was a major concern for James Madison. He first confronted the issue in his struggle against religious majorities who wanted to "establish" their religion and/or persecute religious minorities. And he soon came to realize that it wasn't just religious majorities who had promulgated laws in the former colonies that favored their interests, but practically all majorities, such as "the holders of one species of property [who] have thrown a disproportion of taxes on the holders of another species." Whenever "a majority are united by a common interest or passion," Madison concluded, "the rights of the minority are in danger."

It was the religious battles, however, that provided Madison his insights into how to solve "an excess of democracy":

In all his personal experience, moreover, Madison had never been involved in a dispute that made it more apparent that the body of the people do not naturally divide into two polar pairs, such as the many and the few, but into a plurality of groups whose multiplex variety can pose a stubborn obstacle to the success of any partial interest. On this insight, which was strongly reinforced by his awareness of the pluralistic nature of divisions in the Confederation Congress, he was able to erect a new conception of the charcter of democratic factions. And in the outcome of the struggle over the assessment, he began to see how the apparent conflict of democracy and civil rights might be resolved...

The proper remedy, he said, was "to enlarge the sphere" of republican government

and thereby divide the community into so great a number of interests and parties that, in the first place, a majority will not be likely at the same moment to have a common interest separate from that of the whole or of the minority, and in the second place, that in case they should have such an interest, they may not be apt to unite in the pursuit of it.

--James Madison, Memorial

This, he argued, was "the only defense against the inconveniences of democracy consistent with the democratic form of government." It might, at one, "perpetuate the union and redeem the honor of the republican name."

Had the Presbyterians and the Episcopalians managed to cement their tentative alliance, Madison had seen, nothing could have stopped the general assesment. Jealousies between the sects had done what no appeal to principle could have accomplished. And differences among the many more denominations of a vastly larger, federal republic would offer multiplied protection.

--Lance Banning, "Madison, the Statute, and Republican Convictions," The Virginia Statute For Religious Freedom, Its Evolution and Consequences in American History

And it was the ideas of Madison, and not Jefferson--the champion of the advocates of local government--that were to triumph in our Constitution.

Except that now the Republicans and Democrats seem to largely agree that spending a ton of money is a good idea, and once they joined up, they not only squeezed out all the others but then made all of Jefferson's fears come true.

You hit it right on DownSouth. The problem with "local, local, local" is "nigger, nigger, nigger". I will point out, however, that institutionalized - sanitized - variations on "nigger, nigger, nigger" are just as bad as the local version. The devastation a powerful local family or local interest can wreak on a community are huge. Still, shifting the power to arbitrate "higher" doesn't work either. If there is lynching to be done, I'd rather it be neighbor on neighbor than institutionalized and industrialized. The former seems easier to overcome. And I'm not suggesting it can be overcome. Energy hierarchy is going to force it local in any case, so how do we plan for it?

cfm in Gray, ME

In the olden days, planning for this contingency that you mention, they kept a bunch of horses and swords (and crossbows etc.) ready and they had some samurai or knights or whatever trained and with armor.

(I wonder if the people back then didn't have more fun in this way of life than we do in our boring office parks and sometimes think that we have tried to use all the oil up as quickly as possible so that we could get back to having fun on horses and jousting with lances and playing Errol Flynn.....at least my acquaintance with 4 year old boys makes me think it's possible.)

I'm fairly sure that even our ancient ancestors, experienced fun and happiness in many forms.
Happiness is relative and could be scaled back enormously. We will eventually learn to be satisfied with less of nearly everything.
It's the high degree of energy required to entertain the modern human that is a problem.

I wonder if development of the rollercoaster and other rides at theme parks would parallel the increased energy requirement to provide entertainment and "fun".

Compare a wooden rollercoaster from early last century to the steel monsters in vogue today.
The cost to make a movie, stage a Broadway show, cruise ships, world travel, all increased hugely with each new generation of patron.

Could we still be happy without, Ipod's, cell phones, video game machines, PC's, big screen TV's or TV at all, three bathroom homes and Big Mac's.
Not long ago yo yo's, hula hoops, marbles and dragster bikes were fun. Everything the young generation needs now for fun needs batteries.

The link above The Population Bum is interesting. And it is also interesting the part Leanan chose to quote:

Nothing in history suggests that a declining population benefits humanity. Everything we have experienced,though, indicates that humans move forward as their numbers grow.

John Gray (and I) have the exact opposite view:

- The destruction of the natural world is not the result of global capitalism, industrialization, 'Western civilization' or any flaw in human institutions. It is a consequence of the evolutionary success of an exceptionally rapacious primate. Throughout all of history and prehistory, human advance has coincided with ecological devastation.
John Gray, "Straw Dogs"

Well, I guess you could say that humans do move forward but the ecological devastation they cause leads us closer to the cliff of ultimate collapse.

However the article does make one very important point:

Before writing off her recitation of the facts as an ugly example of Western hegemony or racism, consider that in 2007 a Norwegian imam gloatingly noted that in Europe "the number of Muslims is expanding like mosquitoes. Every Western woman in the EU is producing an average of 1.4 children. Every Muslim woman in the same countries is producing 3.5 children. Our way of thinking will prove more powerful than yours."

Which is the point Garrett Hardin makes in pointing out the Competitive Exclusion Principle:

And remember the competitive exclusion principle: if fertility varies in a population that is offered options in fertility, then as the generations succeed one another, the pronatalist elements in the population will, in time, displace the ones who conscientiously limit their fertility. You will have failed to internalize population control. (And unfortunately, some of the more competitive individuals may start thinking about violent alternatives. That means that you will get genocide secondarily.)
- Garrett Hardin, The Ostrich Factor

And we did get genocide as secondary in the Balkans.

Ron Patterson

The American fascination with the mythical destructive capability of Muslims is an interesting quirk. The USA is literally being invaded by Mexicans to the point where California is overwhelmed and still the scary Mooslim remains as the baddest Boogeyman in the American imagination-"they will outbreed us into extinction".

I wonder. Religious conflict seems to be the rule, rather than the exception. Maybe our usual obsession with race is what's the quirk.

So America's barbarian hordes are at the gate, but instead of coming on war-horses with spears they're coming legally as bank workers with $90K salaries and illegally as laborers for less than minimum wage?

I wonder what % of Bank of Americas bad loans were made to hispanics ?


Religion, race, does it really matter?

I think throughout history leaders have show an uncany ability to inflame or downplay whatever human differences exist, whatever works to the advantage of the ruler.

Just 4 more years and we'll see who comes along to fan those flames this time around.

Not substantiated by gov't numbers AFAIK, but interesting:

Twelve Americans are murdered every day by illegal aliens, according to statistics released by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. If those numbers are correct, it translates to 4,380 Americans murdered annually by illegal aliens. That's 21,900 since Sept. 11, 2001.

MS-13 probably kills more people than Al Queda?

An adviser for Family Security Measures, he estimates some 2,158 murders are committed every year by illegal aliens in the United States.

Here are some statistics that bear out this report:

# Ninety-five percent of warrants for murder in Los Angeles, Calif. are for illegal aliens.

# Eighty-three percent of warrants for murder in Phoenix, Ariz. are for illegal aliens.

The placement of statistics can be very political (whether the comparisons are intended or inherited)

If we get from this that 'EEEK! They're killing us (White Euro Americans) off!' .. Then what can we say about the auto deaths, the mis-prescribed drugs, the emphysema and pulmonary deaths, etc?

Of course we need to know who these murder Victims are, as well..



Number of deaths: 2,448,017
Death rate: 825.9 deaths per 100,000 population
Life expectancy: 77.8 years
Infant Mortality rate: 6.87 deaths per 1,000 live births

Number of deaths for leading causes of death:

Heart disease: 652,091
Cancer: 559,312
Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 143,579
Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 130,933
Accidents (unintentional injuries): 117,809
Diabetes: 75,119
Alzheimer's disease: 71,599
Influenza/Pneumonia: 63,001
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 43,901
Septicemia: 34,136

2005 Murder and Negligent Homicide - 16,692 ( 5.6 per 100k )

Shel visits the deathbed of his lifelong friend Avi, and passes a Priest coming out of the room. Avi is fondling a Rosary in his hands. "What'd you do!" Shel demands.. "I converted, Shel. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, but I thought maybe it would be better if one of them died."

Now we're back to the marginal cost of improvement, then. Of those causes which can be mitigates, at what cost can each life be saved?

Obviously those for which the cost would be negative would be where you should start. Are immigrants cost-positive or cost-negative from a societal perspective? Is healthy eating cheaper or more expensive? Would less/slower driving save money or cost money?

The nice thing about stopping immigration is the hard part is borne by other people. Factors under our own control are always less palatable.

At least there is no strong basis for gun control in those stats!

In a thread that started with the Perceptions of Muslims taking over via birthrate, placing a stat on 'Immigrant propensity for murder' needed to be put into a bit of perspective, lest the echo of the Balkans Ethnic Cleansing (and no fault to Ron for bringing it up) be misapplied to this murder stat as some kind of nefarious plot to weaken 'our' hold on America.

"The nice thing about stopping immigration is the hard part is borne by other people. Factors under our own control are always less palatable." - That makes it sound as if stopping immigration itself isn't a 'hard part'. I don't think it's even desirable to stop it, though it surely needs to be well regulated, like electricity, handguns, monetary policy and any other hazardous energy carrier.

"Illegal Immigrant" or "Citizen", like "Traitor" or "Patriot" is often largely a question of timing.

Agree completely with the "control" aspect, though that is not a simple proposition or popular position.

It's hard to separate morality and profit. You'd think immigration would have a long-term perspective well understood and managed through the centuries, but it's as fickle as any other piece of the economy. You'd also think that illegal immigrants would work hard to stay invisible and not commit crimes, yet they do. Humans are odd creatures.

"Humans are odd creatures."

Just ask my wife.. (Rim shot)

Then there is always the potential for things to escalate:

  • http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,487911,00.html
  • In November, along the border with Texas, Mexican authorities arrested drug cartel leader Jaime "el Hummer" Gonzalez Duran — one of the founders of "Los Zetas," a paramilitary organization of former Mexican soldiers who decided there was more money to be made in selling drugs than in serving in the Mexican military.

    I'm not sure I'd be happy living along the border (either side!). With heavy Mexican Army defections, a likely drop in the drug trade revenue (I'm sure those bankster bonuses weren't all going for condos), and faltering economies on both sides of the border the turf wars are likely to heat up.

    Controlling immigration is hard because immigration is supported by an unholy alliance of the left and business.

    What? How about "an unholy alliance of the left and right".

    It seems lately there is a trend to spin stories as rightwing talking points.

    Are you suggesting that the right has some sort of association with business?

    You firebrand, you!!

    (nice catch BTW)


    Not substantiated by gov't numbers AFAIK, but interesting

    is a bit of a weird thing to say for an educated person. IMHO, the numbers quoted belong on a tabloid along with photos of the baby with two heads.

    But anyways, here are some more well-researched numbers. The following is a paper from someone who has studied the issue in depth. I admit I have no expertise on the topic, other than extensive one-on-one anecdotal contact with undocumented immigrants (by the way you get very different sources when you googling "murder undocumented" and "murder illegal alien").


    Something else I came across when I was researching gun murders in San Francisco, (sorry, no source here) is that there is a very strong correlation between the race of the victim and the race of the murderer. The article I found back in the early 90's showed that folks almost always seemed to be shot by someone from their own race. There was also an issue of Time Magazine with photos and stories of all the gun murders that took place within a week. I read each one and was struck by the fact that these people were killing people a lot like themselves, a lot of the time, and people they knew fairly well, too... and that it was almost random, in many cases, which one of the two shot the other on any given day. My thoughts on that sad topic...

    That is because violent criminals are extremely territorial-you can be some blueblood preppie from New England, but if you decide to settle in South Central LA or Watts you will find that your perceived invisible cloak of protection derived from your race stats doesn't apply.

    Yeah, sort of, and that is also because most blueblood preppies have a variety of options other than South Central LA, which for a host of reasons, ends up being more "appealing" to non-bluebloods. The "choice" thing, you know...

    Anyway, back in my youth, I thought maybe that's why so many people who don't seem to care about racial injustice are also anti gun control. (I do understand now that there are many types of people who oppose gun control, but the thought did cross my mind, back then). Certainly looking at the sea of African-American faces in that Time Magazine gun murder issue could lead some to the conclusions that the issue is not that relevant to them.

    Illegal alien = undocumented immigrant


    Drug dealer = unlicensed pharmacist

    I live in Steve King's district but have never considered him my representative. You would be hard pressed to find a more blatant racist and anti scientific mind in all of Congress. There is a big difference between accusations of a crime and convictions. The GOP Justice Department spent 8 years chasing bogus claims of voter fraud and came up with only one conviction. It was of a women who registered one fifteen year old who never voted.

    i think the fraud was committed by the supreme court.

    Well, I don't see that fascination anywhere. In fact there is far more concern with Mexican immigrants than with Muslim immigrants. I have not seen, in any MSM, any concern with Muslim immigrants whatsoever however the news is filled with concern over Mexican immigrants taking American jobs. So I have no idea where you got your information but please post your links if you have any.

    But in my opinion it should be Europe that is concerned, not America. Though we have had 9-11 but nothing since. However what happened in the Balkans simply cannot be denied, no matter how mythical you claim the threat to be. The US and the UN, acting as the world police, finally stopped the genocide in the Balkans but the emotion still seethes. And that seething emotion seethes all over Europe. Just go to YouTube Muslim Demonstrations and you can find dozens of Muslim demonstrations in Europe but NONE in the US.

    It appears for all the world that it is Europe who is fascinated with the....er....mythical destructive capability of Muslims, not the US.

    Ron Patterson

    But in my opinion it should be Europe that is concerned, not America.

    I think the experience of both the host population, and of the immigrants is quite different in the US versus Europe. Of course the already existing US population has near replacement birthrates, so the prospect of wholesale changes in demographics are much lower than in Europe. Most Muslim immigrants into the US come for economic opportunity. Like most legal immigrants they are more qualified than the average, and do well. I think Europe gets large numbers of unskilled Muslims, who largely end up concentrated in poor communities. They also don't feel like part of the host society, so they want to emphasize the differences. In this country, they are dispersed much more geographically, and religion aside are not averse to assimilation.

    The theme you've been working on lately, Ron, I think is a good one.

    We're not doing anything WRONG, we're doing actually everything RIGHT! Exploiting the resources available to us to increase our numbers. Appropriating resources from others when necessary. Multiply and repeat.

    We've killed all the terrestrial predators, only thing that can still eat us is a few remaining sharks. Having been raised with a 'biological' point of view, it's completely natural and normal to me. It really comes down to a question that many people can't/won't/don't face: Aren't we just another animal?

    Yeast, lemmings, whatever; we all have much more in common than most will admit. We consume, we kill, we breed - whoops, too much! - why is anyone surprised??

    Hey Brian - Mexicans are already Americans - It's called North America, you know? And by the way, they didn't cross the border... the border crossed them.

    Wouldn't it make sense, since birthrates go way down once folks come here, to throw open our borders in an effort to decrease population growth?? - it's impeccable logic.

    Oh yeah - "mythical fear of Muslim violence" - wasn't there some big buildings that got knocked down recently with thousands killed?

    Have a nice day everyone - surf's up - gotta go!!

    There's a trick I like to play on people...I ask them something like "Is Gordon Lightfoot an american?" and (if they even know who the hell I'm talking about) they go "No, he's Canadian." and I thusly respond "Ha ha, but he is american! North american!" Gets a lot more groans than laughs, but is a good mental excercise.

    #2 on the list of knocking down buildings and killing the occupants is a lilly white US Army veteran from Buffalo NY.

    Leaders exploiting racial, ethnic or religious differences is a method of social and political control that is as old as the hills:

    'Unless,' wrote an alarmed Benajamin Franklin in 1753 of the German immigrants flooding into Pennsylvania, 'the stream of importation could be turned from this to other colonies...they will soon outnumber us, that all the advantages we have, will in my opinion, be not abile to preserve our language, and even our government will become precarious.'

    --J.H. Elliott, Empires of the Atlantic World, Britan and Spain in America: 1492-1839

    The current controversy over the Mexican population is certainly not a new one. In the 1920s:

    Eugenicists pointed out with alarm that Mexicans were not only intellectually inferior--they were also quite "fecund." Imaginative calculations were formulated to drive home the point. C.M. Goethe, president of the Immigration Study Commission, speaking of a Los Angeles Mexican with thrity-three children, figured that "it would take 14,641 American fathers...at a three-child rate, to equal the descendants of this one Mexican Father four generations hence." One journalist who traveled through the midwestern and Rocky Mountain states in 1926 reported that this type of hysteria--what he called "statistical terrorism"--had gripped the region. "Nearly every streetcorner nativist could prove," wrote the journalist tongue in cheek, that "the last Nordic family in the republic will have to choose between starvation and emigration to Greenland on or about October 17, 2077 A.D."

    --David Montejano, Anglos and Mexicans in the Making of Texas: 1836-1986

    The level of cool, Machiavellian calculation--as well as the total lack of any internally consistent logic or morality--that is inherent in leadership's manipulation of these racial/religous schisms is revealed in the details of Portugal's expulsion of its Jews and Muslims in 1497:

    The centuries-old community of Portuguese Muslims was in this way brought to an end overnight, but at least the children of the Portuguese Muslims were spared the dreadful fate inflicted on the children of the Jews.

    De Gois is utterly frank when he comes to explain why this surprising concession was made by the Portuguese authorities...

    In case we are censured for carelessness in not explaining why the King had the Jews' children seized, whereas the children of the Moors were not, especially since the reason both of these groups were being obliged to leave the country was that they had refused baptism and rejected the teachings of the Church, it must be borne in mind that no harm could result to Christians if they took away the children of the Jews. Jews are scattered all over the earth, and have no country of their own, no lordships, cities or towns, and indeed in all the places where they dwell, they are transients [peregrinos--perhaps "outsiders"], and payers of tribute, so they lack the power and authority to execute their will against those who do them harm and injury. The Moors, on the other hand, have, for our sins, and in order to punish us, been permitted by God to occupy the greater part of Asia, Africa, and a good part of Europe too, and in these places where the Moors have empires, kingdoms and great lordships, there live many Christians held captive by them. It would have been very prejudicial to all these peoples to take away the Moors' children, because those subjected to this harm (agravo) would clearly not fail, after expulsion had been inflicted on them, to seek to execute revenge on those Christians who live in Moorish (Muslim) territory, and above all to take revenge on the Portuguese, who would incur special blame. This is why the Moors were allowed to leave the kingdom with their children, whereas the Jews were not. (Harvey 1984)

    --Damiao de Gois, 1497

    --L.P. Harvey, Muslims in Spain: 1500 to 1614

    'Nothing in history suggests that a declining population benefits humanity. Everything we have experienced,though, indicates that humans move forward as their numbers grow.'

    In the past, increasing populations have indicated greater surpluses of stored food and more people freed for leisure pursuits, and more minds devoted to innovation. It created a 'success feedback' for a society that could generate the surpluses. In declining populations, often the first thing to go is the segment with the free time to innovate.

    Examples of population decline due to collapse are far more numerous than counterexamples, giving this statement a lot of weight. 'Nothing in history', however, goes a little too far. Japan's efforts to successively re-invent its island economy and society to cope with scarcity stand out as a success (though by no means perfect).

    I would argue that the recent huge economic expansion of China owes a large part of its momentum to population limitation policies of the late 60s early 70s. The re-alignment of people and resources caused by draconian population restriction made possible a situation where more Chinese than ever could envision improvement in their wealth, security, etc. The ability to share an expanding economic pie has helped China's political elite remain in power. Again, China is far from perfect seen as a whole, but they have shown it is possible to improve economic well-being by restraining population.

    I doubt any single society in history provides a complete example of sustainable development. We'll need to pick and choose elements from societies that have had success, and probably come up with ideas (new paradigms) we hadn't thought of before.

    I agree that Garret Hardin's Competitive Exclusion Principle is spot on. More than anything else, the persistence of this phenomenon threatens overshoot and collapse. Ultimately, sustainable development will require restrictions on population. China's example seems awfully harsh, although the people seemingly have adapted to it.

    I would advocate, as others have, an enforceable limit on births per woman, with a system of tradeable permits for child-bearing. This would ensure that pro-natalist elements of society transfer wealth to those who elect to have fewer children, and it would place a clear price on the right to have a child. I would be much more at ease with Miss-Octuplets-with-Six-Already-at-Home if such a system were in place.

    Population restrictions run very much against the grain of human experience, but need to be part of the sustainable paradigm.

    "Japan's efforts to successively re-invent its island economy and society to cope with scarcity stand out as a success (though by no means perfect)."

    You are joking here? Right? You must be.

    Ron and Leanan, where is that YouTube video comparing the reproductive capacity of drunken "hicks" and intelligent yuppies? That was very illustrative of the thought that nature prefers unintelligent to intelligent reproduction about a zillion to one.

    You might be thinking of the intro to the movie, "Idiocracy".

    Yes, homo contracipiens doesn't stand a chance against homo progenitivus, unfortunately.

    Another good article on the subject here:

    Worth examining is whether there is a negative association between the education, secularism and modernity of a population and its propensity to breed competitively. Such populations are the most likely to have small families, the very condition that makes them poor contenders in the population competition and ultimately threatens them with the status of a shrinking and defensive minority. In short they are of the species the author calls "homo contracipiens," unwilling to change their ways and fated to be dominated and ultimately excluded by "homo progenitivus."


    So the Professor concludes that we shmucks have outnumbered and thus dominate the numerically inferior members of the Skull and Bones. The billionaires must really be shaking in their boots, outnumbered 4.5 million to one.

    Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending January 30, 2009

    U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged 14.3 million barrels per day during the week ending January 30, up 205 thousand barrels per day from the previous week's average. Refineries operated at 83.5 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production rose slightly last week, averaging about 8.7 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production remained relatively unchanged last week, averaging about 4.2 million barrels per day.

    U.S. crude oil imports averaged 10.0 million barrels per day last week, up 329 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 9.8 million barrels per day, 165 thousand barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 829 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 177 thousand barrels per day last week.

    U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) increased 7.2 million barrels from the previous week. At 346.1 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 0.3 million barrels last week, and are in the upper half of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories decreased last week while gasoline blending components inventories increased during this same time. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 1.4 million barrels, and are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased last week by 2.9 million barrels and are in the upper half of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 1.4 million barrels last week and are above the upper limit of average range for this time of year.

    What was expected:

    Analysts expect a build of 2.9 million barrels in U.S. commercial crude-oil stocks in the week ended Jan. 30, a survey by energy information provider Platts showed.

    The same analysts also project a build of 1.3 million barrels in gasoline stocks, and a decline of 1.2 million barrels in distillate stocks because of strong demand for winter fuels amid uncommonly low temperatures across the U.S.

    The inventory build continues

    yet further down we read:

    Gasoline demand is only down 0.5% over the same period last year
    Distillate fuel demand and jet fuel demand is the real demand destruction story and down 3.7% and 13.1% respectivley.

    However Jet fuel and Distillates combined dont add up to much more than half of gasoline demand so the total reduction in demand is 2.8%

    I cant seem to wrap my head around the inventory build - simply based on demand dropping 2.8%!!

    Oil imports are down only 1.7% compared to the same time last year.

    Is it too simplistic to view this as hoarding? People are clearly buying the oil at todays low prices - but then are storing it?

    The market reacted with a $1 per barrel increase in price!

    Hoarding would be the opposite, buying and building inventories during price rise. The problem with oil is that you cannot easily get rid of the surplus. Throwing it into the ocean is not the wise thing to do. So you have to store it. Everybody is waiting for Saudis to cut production, because most other world producers are desperate for cash these days and continue to pump. And I guess putting field offline is not just pressing the button (there are costs associated with it I believe).
    Raising inventories on price falling means price discovery, balancing supply and demand. Either the consumption will go up because oil is cheap enough for consumers or producers will be forced to stop because they have no cash flow anymore. However, this will not happen in a day.

    IMO the build up in inventories is the normal seasonal thing that begins about this time of year. Perhaps it is more pronounced this year because of the big price decline.

    Refiners and speculators are buying cheap "straw hats" that they will sell dear during the summer driving season. The same type of thing happens in grains in the fall. Sellers like myself and some speculators sit on the grain until buyers are willing to pay which usually is around planting time but not later than the 4th of July.

    The buy low, sell high necessitates a build up in inventory until prices rise. Prices will probable peak in July albeit at a lower level than last year of course.

    All this is rather counter intuitive to some since classic econmics supposes that increased supply (inventory) results in lower prices.
    But it is who is holding the supply that really matters. It is the commercials (oil companies) and speculators that understand the game IMO.

    They will hold out until demand pushes up prices this summer before taking their profits. Gas prices around here are already up about 25 cents from the low.

    Inventories are compared to seasonal trends, not month on month or week on week. Now inventories are higher then last year in the same time and also higher then 5-year average of this time of year. Also the actual consumption is taken into account, so the best measure is "days of coverage".
    Now inventories are building because of contango arbitrage. Inventories are rising because there are enough people speculating that price will rise soon to engage in going long in futures, thus giving spot buyers hedge in their contango arbitrage. This works because spot is less than later futures, giving physical holder risk free profit.
    At some point either consumption will pick up or production will be cut as rising inventories are not sustainable (not an equilibrium). There is now surplus in the market, pushing price down and inventories up. It's not relevant who is holding oil. Only the trend in inventories is relevant.

    Greeting TOD'ers-
    All the event since September have caused me to start contemplating a route forward most would consider quite foolish...but I'd like to get your thoughts on the matter.

    Up until recently, I like many, believed that the best way to ride out this storm is to buy some land and build one's own little lifeboat, or join a community that is doing the same.

    The more that I see things unfolding, the more I am thinking the best way forward is to have NOTHING. No traceable or taxable assets, and to not be pinned down to any geographic location.

    Isn't the most likely outcome those people and places with $ and things having to give up what they have to keep the wheels spinning?

    Would not the likeliest chance for survival be to own next to nothing and be able to move from one area to the next on a second's notice?

    Would I be a complete idiot to sell everything we own, buy a small RV, throw on a veggie oil kit, a modest PV system on top, two EV scooters on the side, and cash and food tucked into every nook and cranny? Cause it sounds pretty smart to me right now.

    Wouldn't you still need to have license, registration, and insurance?

    Of course. Those are minor. Regardless of how destitute the gov't gets, I think a beat up old RV (from the outside) is way down the list of assets they'd be after (as opposed to land, gold, 401k's, etc).

    If you want to travel down this path, then Dmitri Orlov might have the best idea of all: get a sailboat, learn how to sail it, and live on it. If worst comes to worst, one can just hang out off shore for a while, or even move on to someplace else.

    In the UK you wouldn't get five miles without police controlled traffic cameras tracking you're every move. Although it is estimated that 10% of British cars are driven without valid insurance, it is only a matter of time before the police join up the databases and start tracking down the vehicles in real time. Best way of avoidance is to clone the number plates of another vehicle of identical colour and model design, and hope you don't get pulled for their infringements...

    I don't think the point is hiding, but that they're not going to be looking for you in the first place.

    Not everything flying under the radar is going to be a worrisome target.. much would be seen as chaff to ignore. Might be helpful to know how to mimic chaff. NYC subway riders can often turn it on and off at will.

    I would just say that in addition to the low-profile of assets, to keep very much IN contact with people on the ground. Trade Favors, get to know people well. Social Networks can be both tenacious and flexible in ways Veggie Buses and PV panels (as much as I dote on them) never can.

    Also pick up some book on edible wild plants and start reading it. We mow and trample a lot of perfectly good forage out there.


    I get your point TtheD but not my way though. But if you do go gypsy you might consider holding up in Texas. We have no state income taxes but big real estate taxes. But the last I heard your RV isn't considered real estate. And then when TSHTF and westexas leads the revolt with TX succeeding from the Union we'll have all the oil/NG gas you'll ever need.

    p.s. Be sure to bring your guns...can never have too many down here.

    Texas would be our first stop. My wife's family and many of my college friends are down there. Her grandparent's grew up poor okie cotton pickers and have a lot of wisdom from tough times I'd like to learn. Plus, everything in Texas is so cheap.

    There are probably more than a few people in the Alaska outback, squatting on federal land, and living something along the lines of the invisible lifestyle you are suggesting.

    My wife can hardly handle the black bears up here in Colorado. I don't think she'd do well with grizzlies.

    If we start having problems with money, I wonder how things would work out. Without money for fuel, you would be stuck where ever you are. I am not sure you could get electric connections for your RV and EV scooters, either.

    What do you do for food, after the little bit of food in your trailer runs out, if you have little to barter, and no source of your own?

    Good question...one would be dependent on the generosity of others. That might work at the beginning but the sheer number of people executing the same strategy (whether intentional or not) may mean the generosity gets turned off rather quickly. I suspect the word "leach" would start to be employed before long.

    There have always been those who had some specialized trade or skill who would travel from place to place, setting up shop and doing some work for the locals for a short while in exchange for payment in cash or in kind, then picking up and moving on to the next settlement. They would make the rounds again sometime later, maybe next year. This model works especially well for those types of trades that provide some sort of necessity, but for which there is too little or too infrequent demand in any one location to support oneself.

    Places like the Dakotas have been getting so depopulated that there are probably already quite a few towns and villages that no longer have the full complement of skilled trades and crafts people that used to be typical. There are probably opportunities out there for people that have the requisite skills and who would want to take up that sort of nomadic lifestyle.

    Good point.

    Regardless, I still can't shake the notion that the sheer number of itinerant people, skilled or otherwise, could overwhelm people's generosity not just in giving food or shelter, but also the acceptance of squatters, shantytowns, etc.

    Or we may just get used to it and adapt, which is just as likely.

    I think for that nomadic lifestyle, a couple of horses and a tent would be more reliable than a used RV and EV scooters.

    I take it you've never owned horses. "A thousand pounds of glass."

    That's the crux of the problem. We'd need to figure out a way to be a resource to each group we stopped at, or at least a way to earn $ or food along the way.
    What will people NEED that I could provide?? Whether it is information, goods, or services the answer is out there somewhere.

    You guys act like we will soon be living in a world like that movie, "The Postman".
    I don't think we will get there in our lifetimes.

    I don't know...does anybody here have REAL job security??? It seems like most institutions (gov't, private, non-profit) are tapping into reserves that won't last more than a year. Everything is so interconnected and so many people are being laid off already.
    And in my case, I've got the land. Is it worth it to pour everything I have into making it resilient, just so in the near future (3-4 years tops) uncle sam can take it away from me?
    Putting plans into motion takes time. To me, there is little time to waste. I'm going to listen to Orlov now.

    It ALL comes down to who exactly is 'we'. (Kimosabe)

    It doesn't mean everyone or everywhere or even forever .. but with all the job losses, defaulted mortgages, etc.. I'm sure it is in the realm of a growing number of Americans already..

    Many others are opting (again) for smaller, simpler living, like this..




    Then definitely not "Children of Men," right?

    Darn, I was going to start a company manufacturing Quietus. I thought it was a sure bet.

    We might not see "the Postman", but I do indeed expect to see traveling tradespeople like I described above. They might already be out there for all I know.

    Reminds me of this article from the other day, which claims having food delivered is better for the environment than shopping locally.

    My grandmother used to buy food from vendors who drove around her rural/suburban neighborhood selling from their trucks. Kind of like an ice cream truck, only with fresh vegetables.

    We had a produce truck serving our neighborhood in small-town CT when I was a little kid. Also ice deliveries. The ice man would chip off little pieces of ice for us kids on hot summer days. This was late-50's early-60's.

    That's starting to be a long time ago.

    In the 1950s, families didn't need two cars. Local grocers would deliver food and milkmen would deliver dairy products. You may have seen the little doors through the walls of houses, where milk products were left. (Door on inside; door on outside.) Not great for insulation.

    We had home milk delivery right through the 60's, and maybe into the early 70's. We had a back entry way/mud room where the milk would be delivered. We occasionally had a broken bottle due to freezing in the winter.

    Heck, in 2000 we had a milkman who'd bring milk, juice, eggs, and butter (probably other stuff if you'd remember to order it on time). They came twice a week, 5:00 a.m., and just left it in a wooden box on the porch. You just had to remember to take it in before you left for work, at least in the summer.

    I think an enterprising teenager could make that work now, as an alternative to lawn mowing. It really was convenient and it didn't cost much.

    Edit: and they used glass bottles, too, picking up your empties when they dropped off.

    And people used to leave money in the glass bottles to pay for the milk.

    In the early 1950's, milk was delivered to our house by a horse-drawn wagon which used ice blocks to keep the milk cold.

    At Christmas, people used to give drinks to the milkman to celebrate the season. One year, the milkman was so drunk that he was standing in front of our house for half an hour having a conversation with his horse.

    Of course, it didn't matter if the milkman was drunk - the horse would just find his way home even if the driver was asleep.

    With cheap labor this is, in my view, likely going to become commonplace, and the delivery person might hope to make a little extra in tips.

    Agreed. See my earlier posting on the half-blind, half-deaf, retarded, orphaned wheelbarrow worker moving trash from homes and streets in Africa. Another exosomatic, heroic, non-FF-powered role-model as we go postPeak:


    Are 'Murkans postPeak ready to be this efficient and effective, or will we prefer to 'dance the Rwanda' in machete' moshpits?

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

    I'm old enough to remember milkmen and home deliveries. There were a few places around the US where they continued up through the 1970s, I'm not sure there were still any after that. If I understand correctly, dairy delivery is still common in parts of the UK. In fact, many of the vehicles are now electric, which is great.

    I don't remember seeing many houses with those little doors. More common would be some sort of box on the front steps or porch.

    All the milk and cream (and even OJ, I remember that being available for delivery too) would be in glass bottles.

    There would be other delivery vans, depending on the community. Someone mentioned produce merchants. I remember my grandparents being visited by a van that sold bread and other baked goods. I also remember a company that was in business for a while at one place we lived that delivered big tins of potato chips door to door; I remember them being exceptionally fresh and tasty.

    I don't remember the ice merchants, that business was pretty much gone with the wind by my time. I don't think that most Americans today realize how BIG the ice business was in its heyday, though. It employed huge numbers of people, both to harvest the ice from lakes and to handle the storage, transport and distribution.

    Foodstuffs were not the only things that would be sold door to door. The "Fuller Brush Man" lives on in Americana, but was a standard fixture of most communities. In the early days Avon was mostly a door-to-door business. There used to be a constant stream of people selling stuff door to door, back in the days before so many people lived in gated communities with "No Solicitors" signs. It was not just adults, either. Door to door sales would be a good money making opportunity for some kids, and of course there were also the newspaper delivery routes.

    Between all of these door to door sales and home delivery services, the Sears catalog, and the usual assortment of small shops even in most small town downtowns (within walking distance), One could usually get about 95-99% of what one needed without ever needing to get into a car, even in towns with no mass transit system.

    I don't think it's gated communities and "no solicitors" signs that spelled the end of the door to door salesman.

    It was the two-income family. There's nobody home now to answer the door when Avon's calling.

    Scrambling for a living

    Every Saturday morning, Barry and Teri Jones wind their way through Milwaukee County's South Shore in a maroon 2006 Scion, leaving fresh eggs and frozen chickens on porches and doorsteps.

    Customers put out coolers the night before. Empty egg cartons are swapped for cartons filled with a rainbow of eggs...The delivery charge is a quarter. Eggs are $2.50 a dozen. Payment is cash only, but the honor system works, too.

    I don't mind girl scout cookie pushers, school raffle sellers, and the occasion Schwan's guy, but the endless stream of magazine salesmen who look 22 but say they're 18 and just need 3 more sales to get a free trip to the Bahamas I can do without.

    I would absolutely use a dairy service, fresh veggie service, and even a grocery staple service if they were available and reasonably priced. Just having a recurring order would be fine by me -- I can tweak it and forget about it until the eggs pile up or the butter runs short.

    Heck, if I get laid off maybe that's a family business I could start.

    I think that's certainly the case for some types of sales. More broadly there may be another factor. Nowadays, cheap travel has randomized many people's schedules. We have 24/7 childrens' sports with constant trips halfway across the state that come up at random depending on game outcomes. People vacation on the other side of the world opportunistically at the drop of a hat. Businesses and universities frivolously fly people to "conferences" so they can watch TV in giant lecture halls instead of watching the same images on screen at home or at the office - or to "meetings" to "shake hands" redundantly, given that oftentimes most of the jet fuel is expended on mutual congratulations after the deal is already signed, sealed and delivered.

    In a world such as that, who needs perishables (or anything else) showing up on their doorstep on a regular fixed schedule even at a non-work hour like 5AM? They don't even know if they will be around to retrieve them (never mind use them), and if they aren't, they might as well be putting up a "burglarize me" sign. Or, if they order less and run short, they'll be going to the store or farmers market anyhow. Either way, and aside from nostalgia, what's the point?

    The trouble is, if we're going to live in the past, we may have to reproduce some of the past's less-wanted features in order to make it work again. Regular deliveries require a receiver and regular consumption. Who's going to stay home all day to take deliveries, when women, who had been bearing much of the brunt, have expended great effort over the last 40 years to check out of that box? Who's going to cut back drastically on the travel and kids' sports, when they've gone to huge trouble and expense to "broaden their horizons" in those respects (and when they may be quite delusional about the kids' actual abilities)?

    I don't think that's much of a problem. People used to call or leave a note, modifying their orders. And in the days of the Internets, you could modify your order online or via cell phone.

    Reliable refrigerators and freezers might have more to do with it. Now you can buy a week's worth of food or more, rather than shopping every day.

    Mostly, though, I think it's the car culture. No more walking and carrying back your purchases. (And liquids, like milk, are the heaviest and hardest to carry.)

    The trouble is, if we're going to live in the past, we may have to reproduce some of the past's less-wanted features in order to make it work again.

    Peak oil could take care of that. The study I referenced was about greenhouse gases, but that correlates to energy consumption. If gas is expensive, it may become worth it to have food delivered rather than to go to the store.

    There's also the issue of "food deserts" - people who live in neighborhoods, often rural or inner city, that have no grocery stores. These people end up buying overpriced junk food at convenience stores, or eating at fast food places (which are nearly as cheap as grocery stores, but not exactly healthful). They've had very good results with vegetable trucks in such neighborhoods.

    Peak oil and the Greater Depression will probably put an end to traveling all over the place for kids' sports. (It already is; I've posted several articles about how schools have been forced to cut back sports or form new local leagues due to high fuel prices and budget cuts.) But I don't think that's really an issue. The issue is the car. People who want food delivered are generally people who don't drive. Elderly shut-ins. City people. People who can't afford cars. I suspect there will be a lot more of the latter in our future.

    PaulS, the world you describe is the world of yesteryear - the world that ended around mid-2008 or so. That world is gone with the wind. There are still quite a few people that haven't gotten the news yet, or are still thinking that we are just experiencing a temporary interruption. It isn't temporary, though, it is permanent.

    Forgot all about the Fuller Brush Man! We had regular visits from him. Brooms and brushes and other cleanup products. I think I may still have an actual Fuller Brush somewhere.

    And the Avon lady... "Avon calling". And Amway.

    As far as newspaper delivery, I had a huge paper route that I put together by taking over routes from older friends as they "retired". I made pretty good money for a kid, though it was a bit of a yank to have to deliver papers after school before I could play with my friends. My town was served by two neighboring city papers, and both of them had a morning and afternoon edition. Our own town had a local rag that came out on Thursdays and Sundays.

    Now, newspapers are well on the way to being anachronisms. I'm not even that old, but I feel old sometimes.

    I can confirm that we still use milkmen in the UK with reusable bottles and electric milk floats. In fact we tend to get expanded to deliver eggs and bread kind of competing with Tesco internet groceries. Can't get through snow very well though. Is there much internet grocery shopping in the US?

    If I understand correctly...

    Indeed you do!

    ...dairy delivery is still common in parts of the UK. In fact, many of the vehicles are now electric, which is great.

    Yes, at least in our area (though diesel-powered vehicles have replaced some of them as the length of rounds increases to maintain their viability). What is also great is that our local milkman now delivers locally-produced fruit and veg, which arrives on our doorstep far fresher than was our previous experience of veg box schemes. I think they did it more for profitability than environmental reasons, since some of the other stuff they sell is crap. Still, if it cuts
    CO2 emissions and supports local farmers, then I'm all for it.

    I'm old enough to remember milkmen and home deliveries.

    I can remember the Iceman. We had an icebox that kept the food cold. If my memory is correct, a 100 pound block cost a quarter and a 50 pound block cost 15 cents. We lived in the country and the peddleing truck ran once a week. It was usually and old school bus converted into a rolling store. You could get flour, coffee, candy and all the basic staples.

    Heck, I can rembmber the days before the Iceman ran. We sometimes kept stuff cool by lowering it into the well in a basket. Of course we milked every day, morning and evening, so the milk did not need to be kept cool for very long. But mom made butter only about once a week or so and that had to be kept cool.


    I can remember the Iceman.

    I can remember the ice house and all the seasonal labourers required to cut out ice blocks from the lake, haul them with horse teams to the ice warehouse where they were lifted to the rafters by steam winches and covered with sawdust for insulation.

    The CPR had a spur line down to the ice house and the ice blocks were hauled into Montreal to be used to ice the "reefers," the railroad cars used for hauling produce and perishables.

    This was back in the late fifties, early sixties. It says something about the degree to which cheap FF have displaced whole swathes of economic activity. The reefer cars of today have small gen sets and use liquid fuels in place of ice. I was eight when I saw my first backhoe; up to that point all house foundation excavations were performed by horse teams dragging a wood bucket. I think a lot of this "old technology" will return within the next fifty years. JHK needs to put out a sequel: "World made by Horse."

    I can remember before there was an iceman, we used to have to salt everything and it tasted pretty lousy after it'd been sitting around for a few weeks, especially in the summer.

    But that was also the days when we had to walk ten miles to school, up hill, both ways, in the snow.

    I can remember before we had salting, when you had to smoke the woolly mammoth and dry it in the sun.

    Oh, who am I kidding, I had an Atari when I was a kid.


    Can someone explain why this comment is ok but my comments today aren't. It's very difficult to work out when one gets no feedback other than the comment being pulled.

    Or is it just that you (or someone at TOD) doesn't like Benny Hill? I am at a loss to understand why my comments are being deleted and other humourous comments late in a drumbeat are ok.

    If you don't post an e-mail address in your profile, it's kind of hard to get in contact with you to explain.

    Heck shaman,

    I can remember before there was salt. We used to have to rip off a chunk of mastodon and eat it fast before it went bad.

    maybe that is what makes you a good geologist, you are as fricken old as the rocks you study !

    Yes - the milkman still makes deliveries to my house 4-5 times a week. And yes the electric vehicle is very quiet early in the morning so as not to rouse the office workers unduly from their slumber. It also supplied an uninterrupted service this week despite the 8 inches of snow that saw all the buses and trains halted.

    A little history always helps.

    During the Soviet Union times, people in Romania lived two different life styles. The people living in the big cities were forced to live the full truth of Communism with Russian style apartments, etc. The small villages, farthest from civilization, were left to their own devices. These folks lived on their grandparents land and were left pretty much capitalist and barter system.

    The problem with trying to follow this logic will by technology. If Google has it's way, the government will find you and fine you any were. When you can't pay the fine, you will find the true meaning of indentured servitude.

    Hell, don't chicken out now. Get two industrial strength mountain bikes, front and rear panniers, the finest survival gear you can find, and go live off the land. You can go whereever the food is that year and enjoy yourself while you do it. Don't forget a fishing pole.

    If you haven't already, you might want to read "Reinventing Collapse" by Dmitry Orlov. He's a native Russian who witnessed the collapse in the soviet union. He now lives in America and he pretty much advocates a similar strategy. He notes that if you hoard food and property, those can and will be taken away from you, one way or another. If you have nothing, they can't take anything away. It's not the OWNERSHIP of resources that's important for enduring collapse, instead it's the ACCESS to resources that makes you or breaks you.

    Dmitry now lives on a sailboat and thinks this is the best bet for surviving the collapse because it gives him the flexibility to move around the globe using wind energy. He stores what he needs on the boat and, in his opinion, a less likely target, than having immovable real-estate.

    Dmitry has also been interviewed on the C-realm Podcast several times. Here are links to those episodes.

    Reinventing Reality, a C-Realm Special
    Episode 20: Closing the Disinfo Gap
    Episode 21: Space
    Episode 72: The Long Emergency
    Episode 79: The Red Queen
    Episode 96: Kollapsnik and the ripping yarn
    Episode 98: Beyond Civilized and Primitive

    Other guests appearing on the C-Realm Podcast Include:
    James H. Kuntsler
    Catherine Austine Fitts
    Kathy McMahon (PeakOilBlues.com)
    Albert K. Bates
    Cliff Davis (Ecovillage Training Center)
    Thomas Homer Dixon (The Upside of Down)
    Albert Bartlett
    Nate Hagens (Yes our own Nate Hagens from TOD!)- Episode 67: The Shift
    Bill Mckibben
    Doug Fine (Farewell my subaru)
    Ellen Brown (Web of Debt)
    Steve Alten (Shell Game)
    John M. Greer (The Long Descent)

    The host, KMO, does a really great job on these interviews and I highly recommend them to all of you.

    Incidentally, I've had some email dialogue with KMO, and he's expressed an interest in interviewing Gail the Actuary after he read her recent piece tying the financial crisis to peak oil. Gail, if you're interested, I can help put you in contact with KMO.


    I know many of Orlov's points, but haven't gotten around to reading the book yet. It is on my list.
    C-Realm is awesome. I'll listen to the Orlov interviews today. Thanks!

    It's not the OWNERSHIP of resources that's important for enduring collapse, instead it's the ACCESS to resources that makes you or breaks you.

    I think that sums things up perfectly.

    Thanks. I could probably do an interview, if you want to put me in contact with him. My e-mail address is shown when you click on my name at the side.

    I was a little confused as to who/what KMO is. I take it the interviewer goes by the pseudonym KMO. At first, I thought it was a radio station.

    OK Gail, I'll send you the info. "KMO" is his moniker. ;)


    Edit: Email sent!

    Mobility will certainly help in the future. In truth, survival mostly depends on the ability to run. A convoy also provides some safety.

    A sailboat works very well to fit all needs if you are a sailor. Also no taxes if you document with the coast guard.

    If you roll to Texas in a 'bago you'll do as well as anyone if it all comes apart, but you might consider that probabilty that the govt. will keep creating jobs until everyone works for them. That system works in NZ where 34% work for the govt, and 34% are on the dole.

    Stay safe, Dave

    Interesting Jan Lundberg quote from one of the articles above: "Most of the pollution involved — into the air, from the car — is not from the tailpipe. It's from the mining and the manufacturing associated with the car."

    So, what does it mean if we are to convert the fleet of automobiles to electric cars?

    This is one of the reasons why I have not been anxious to go our and replace my 1990 Honda Civic and 1995 Subaru Imprezza. We are driving them so little (~5K miles/yr for the 2 combined) that we are pretty confident that we can keep both running for many more years. Yes, we could get slightly better mpg with something newer, like a Prius, and quite a bit better energy efficiency by replacing the Civic with a GEM NEV. However, because we drive so few miles, the payback period would be impossibly long regardless of the energy efficiency savings. On top of that, there is the imbedded energy in the production of the new vehicles. That, so far, has convinced me that keeping what we have running has been the better course of action.


    You’ve reminded me of a question I've meant to post on TOD: long ago I read a report stating that the amount of green house gases produced by farmers across the globe burning their fields for re-fertilization exceeded the amount generated by all other industrialized activity. Having just driven across S La through the haze produced by the burning of 100’s of thousand of acres of sugar cane stubble brought the question back to mind. I've never accepted the proposed magnitude of such activities but a while ago I did read a well documented report showing that the burning of organic matter produces a tremendous amount of GHG's per unit compared to other hydrocarbons.
    Was that just another urban legend or does someone here have the facts?

    The thing to remember is that the CO2 released from burning crop stubble will be fixed again the next growing season.

    Deforestation is a larger contributor, since it results in a net, long-term reduction in biomass.


    There is no doubt that the large-scale burning of agricultural fields creates a massive amount of air pollution, mainly in the form of particulate matter and hydrocarbons. However, its contribution to GHGs is somewhat less straightforward.

    Keep in mind that most of the organic matter in the sugar cane stubble was produced from CO2 that had just been removed from the atmosphere within the last growing season. Therefore, burning it just releases much the same amount of CO2 back into the atmosphere (minus the amount that was actually made into sugar, but most of that itself eventually gets back into the atmosphere in a variety of ways). Thus, at least theoretically, it looks like a wash.

    However, it gets much more complicated if one compares the CO2 released immediately through the burning of fields to that released if the sugar cane stubble were just left in place. In the latter case, a certain fraction will undergo bio-degradation, both aerobic and anaerobic, and thus both release CO2 to the atmosphere and create simpler organic compounds, some of which will also eventually degrade. But another fraction will become part of the soil organic content, and its equivalent CO2 content will remain trapped therein for quite some time.

    So, I think it becomes more of a time-scale consideration. In the short term, the burning of fields will definitely worsen the CO2 burden as compared to leaving the stubble in place; but over the long term, the comparative contributions are less easily quantified. I'm sure there have been studies on this subject in the environmental and agricultural literature that would hang some numbers on it.

    Well, I guess I really haven't answered your question with a clear YES or NO, but I hope I've at least shown that it's not all that simple of a question.

    No...a good answer joule. I had not thought about the natural cycle. Makes perfect sense. Though it might be a major source of emissions it is also a major sequestration (though temporary) process.

    Part of that answer is how easy it is to retrofit a gas car to electric. A lot of the wheels already built can be kept rolling without forging and shaping a whole new chassis/body.

    jokuhl -

    As one who has messed around with cars from time to time over the years, I would have to say that as far as modern cars go, my experience has been that it is not easy to retrofit ANYTHING, even such theoretically simple things as swapping a larger high-performance gasoline engine for the original.

    Nowhere is the old cliché, 'the devil is in the details' more true then when it comes to retrofitting a non-stock item into a modern car. A slight mismatch or incompatibility of even small simple components can cause many time-consuming and expensive headaches. Even if done correctly, there always seems to be some unexpected problem that crops up. As such, I cringe at the thought of trying to retrofit an electric motor and battery system into a modern car. While it can physically be done, ending up with something that is competent, durable, and trouble-free is something else again.

    Not only with regard to cars, but also in many other areas it is often easier and cheaper in the long run to start from scratch rather embark on a retrofitting project.

    Well.. easy is relative, I'll admit, but there is now a considerable cottage industry out there for EV retrofits, with testimonials aplenty.

    I can't attest to it from personal experience yet, but here are a few dozen who can..


    A great many conversions seem to cost these people in the $10-12k, sometimes including the donor vehicle. Connecting to the drivetrain seems to be less of a problem than finding the most reliable Controller and Charger equipment, and packing in the batteries in a safe and balanced way.. but many plans for standard autos are out there, with custom-fitted parts on the market as well.

    I'm really disappointed at the way the Corbin Sparrow/now Myers Motors NMG has gone. First, Corbin designed it as a single seater - which in the history of the world has never been a good move - it's always more fun to share an experience and you can't even give rides to show it off! Then, Corbin went bankrupt and it was picked up by Myers Motors and the price basically doubled. It's a small, efficient design which means that the battery pack is substantially smaller for the same range - but it has basically squat in terms of utility. I'd love to see a version of the VW 1 Liter under electric power.

    My Thorium Power investment is up 50%! Thanks TOD! Anybody know what the big move is about?


    Too bad I only bought $150 worth, but I've made $80. That almost makes up for the job I lost.

    Your $150. purchase might have caused a buying frenzy. Often these penny stocks go out of business after they tried to dump millions of more shares on the market to raise more capital in efforts to stay in business. Only a few phenomenal successes in this category. Many lost fortunes in backing ventures that were not well planned, that no amount of capital could have saved. Thomas Edison was a genius inventor, but he lost a fortune backing an iron mining venuture.

    Denninger thinks people are putting their money in the Bank of Serta:

    To Obama: Confidence Levels Critical

    A "Demand Deposit" is a checking account, basically. Its the "I want it now gimme my money" account at your local bank.

    But notice what has happened to this series since the New Year - money in demand accounts is, essentially, collapsing, at the same time Bernanke has been shrinking The Fed's balance sheet.

    But The Fed has been printing up new reserves, hasn't he? Why yes he has. So what's happening to all those nice dollars that have been deposited in demand accounts?

    Where are they going?

    Here's the real information.

    M2 (narrow) "money" supply jumped $36.6bn to a record $8.257 TN (week of 1/19). Narrow "money" has now inflated at a 20% rate over the past 18 weeks and has jumped $794bn over the past year, or 10.6%. For the week, Currency jumped $3.7bn, while Demand & Checkable Deposits slumped $55.2bn. Savings Deposits surged $97.4bn, while Small Denominated Deposits declined $2.0bn. Retail Money Funds fell $7.1bn.

    Nothing is disappearing except the truth. The 55B decline is notably moved into savings. These numbers are entirely average, with the exception of the 11% rate of growth, which will be hugely inflationary in the not too distant future. Checking always jumps at the beginning of the month and slides shortly thereafter as rent and mortgage checks are cashed, and towards the end of the month, with the exception of any snapshot on or around the 15th. He should, and probably does, know that.

    You should include this link every Monday.

    Credit Bubble Bulletin - http://www.prudentbear.com/index.php/commentary/creditbubblebulletin?art...

    Injured man dies after rejection by 14 hospitals
    Case of 69-year-old man in Japan underscores country's doctor shortage

    TOKYO - A 69-year-old Japanese man injured in a traffic accident died after paramedics spent more than an hour negotiating with 14 hospitals before one admitted him, a fire department official said Wednesday. The man, whose bicycle collided with a motorcycle in the western city of Itami, waited at the scene in an ambulance because the hospitals said they could not accept him, citing a lack of specialists, equipment, beds and staff, according to Mitsuhisa Ikemoto. One of the 14 finally admitted the man when the paramedics called it for a second time.

    It was the latest in a string of recent cases in Japan in which patients were denied treatment, underscoring the country's health care woes that include a shortage of doctors.

    By chance does Japan have universal healthcare?

    Why yes they do (Wikipedia):

    Since 1973, all elderly persons have been covered by government-sponsored insurance. Patients are free to select physicians or facilities of their choice.

    In Japan, services are provided either through regional/national public hospitals or through private hospitals/clinics, and patients have universal access to any facility, though hospitals tend to charge higher for those without a referral. Public health insurance covers most citizens/residents and pays 70% or more cost for each care and each prescribed drug. Patients are responsible for the remainder (upper limits apply). The monthly insurance premium is 0-50,000 JPY per household (scaled to annual income). Supplementary private health insurance is available only to cover the co-payments or non-covered costs, and usually makes a fixed payment per days in hospital or per surgery performed, rather than per actual expenditure. In 2005, Japan spent 8.2% of GDP on health care, or US$2,908 per capita. Of that, approximately 83% was government expenditure.[4]

    Of course one testimonial does not a statistic create. YHCMMV (your healtcare mileage may vary)

    A honest assessment would consider the number of people who die "because of" universal healthcare vs. the number who die "because of" the primarily private insurance situation here.

    In most measures, the system here is failing miserably and I'm quite sure one could find people here who don't go to a doctor because they can't afford it then die.

    I think "corporate insurance" is more apt than "private". There is no "free lunch" for health care, but there are multiple ways to pay a lot and get crummy results. I argue we know of two: existing corporate-centric plans, and existing national plans.

    The better approach would be to have reasonable well-off people who manage their own money and care responsibly.

    Better for the reasonably well-off people, right?

    The better approach would be to have reasonable well-off people who manage their own money and care responsibly.

    Several weeks ago I made a similar comment that it should be the responsibility of the individual to manage their health care - not their employer or the state. For that comment I got penty of -1 marks, etc. I'm all for some kind of safety net for the destitute and elderly, but what ever happened to personal responsibility?

    The issue isn't "personal responsibility" - it's how do you get a decent level of health care to the broadest number of people. Given our current health care system, leaving it to individuals to buy their own insurance (cause they sure as heck ain't going to afford it on a piece meal basis) would mean that most people would either go without or have to take the money from other expenses like food or housing.

    Is that really the goal? I would think getting efficient and high-value care to all people would be the goal.

    "Decent" seems to imply that slovenly and expensive but generally adequate for most is somehow good enough.

    How about this: institute a fractional-rate negative income tax for those needing welfare, feeding personal health-care spending accounts and food stamps first. That way any community funds would first feed and medicate the individuals before handing out cash, and there would always be an incentive to earn money (not generally the case with today's welfare systems, which penalize crossing thresholds).

    Those with jobs would of course have HCSA's as well, but self funded.

    Either group could choose to use the funds to pay for insurance (any private, but approved, plans), co-pays, approved care items and services, etc. Some people may choose (or be forced by circumstances) to go for higher options and pay for them out of pocket.

    Health expenses should be a personal deduction for income, not a corporate one. It's backwards today (unless you're unfortunate enough to cross the 7.5% threshhold).

    efficiency? Depends on what you are talking about - efficient in solving medical problems? Of course, but that would be "decent care." But, if you're talking monetary efficiency, forget it. We already have a highly efficient health insurance system - highly efficient at lining the pockets of insurance companies.

    Nor am I really interested in high value care. What I'm interested in is people having access to the care they need. We are already "up sold" on medical care just as we are on most everything else.

    As for your "plan" - it has about as much a chance of becoming a reality as mine does. That's just the way it is. What your plan doesn't consider, though, is cost. It doesn't matter if you give those on welfare money or a non-transferable "spending account" if the amount you are providing doesn't cover costs. (And I won't even go into the moral quandary over why you (or the gov't) knows better how that persons money should be spend than they do.)

    And same goes your "self-funded" HCSAs - your plan would make the choice for health care compete with other basic expenditures. I'll use my self as an example - employer provided (and negotiated) healthcare costs about $12000 a year for my family of four. Most of that ($8000) is paid by my company, but it might as well be considered part of my salary.

    So now let's suppose that my family had the median income in the U.S. of $45,000. In the present world health insurance takes about 10% of that income when you add in dental and eye care. Now, imagine my employer no longer is going to provide health insurance and I'm responsible for the full amount - It's now taking about 30% of my income. And I'm already not saving on an income of just 45K - where does that extra money come from?

    You might argue that companies would turn that cost into a higher salary for me, but you know that won't happen. And then, you have to add in the lose of negotiating power. My company got insurance for 12K because they guaranteed thousands of customers. When I'm on my own, I have no leverage.

    And remember - health insurance (or an HCSA) is not going to pay all health care costs.

    Here's the truth: the country is never going to have enough money to give everybody the healthcare they wish to have, because the cost is potentially boundless.

    What we can do is provide the amount of money we believe, as a country, we can afford for each welfare recipient and let them spend it as best they can. I think categorizing it as healthcare, food, shelter, and cash makes sense, else otherwise deadbeat parents would squander their kids healthcare money on cigarettes and booze (just like some working parents do).

    I also fully expect any system would have graft immediately come into existence.

    And yes, your company looks at your pay as "total compensation". They might not offer you a raise, but you could look for another job and negotiate exactly that.

    We will need to learn to die with dignity from many expensive-to-treat illnesses, and that goes for many working people. We have actuarial tables for Worker's Comp, and most people's lives are not worth what they think.

    And for me, monetary efficiency IS the key point. The rest can be worked out by the markets, but nothing can make the gov't efficient.

    With regard to your "truth" - you need to ask your self, where does the "wish to have" come from?

    Otherwise, the difference between us you sum up well - for you, money is everything.

    "Wish to have" comes from human nature. People may wish to live forever. They may need medical care to maximize their attempt to do so. The former is not realistic, and neither is the latter if there is no money. My wish should not be somebody else's demand, yet that's what income redistribution becomes. Actuarial risk-balancing is a shared value......charity is a personal value....income redistribution is a scourge to be limited as best possible.

    Who is going to be able to go to school for 10-15 years to be a good specialist without heavy compensation? It's simple net-present-value of money -- that many years of money and sacrifice cost a lot and are worth a lot.

    I see in other comments you have a negative view of docs. Like any profession, some will be bad, but why do you view them so poorly? All the docs I know are pretty good guys. Ditto for big-pharm reps. Their companies sometimes suck but the individuals are decent humans.

    I Heart Paleocon!

    No one has a "Right" to extort ANY good or service from anyone.

    I may think I have a "Right" to petrol at a price of my choosing, or even free if I am out of money. Unfortunately, the petrol station owner does not agree. He says it would be robbery if I took petrol from him without paying - he had to pay for it and has a slim profit margin.

    So maybe I should demand socialized petrol. Meaning the government should pay for my petrol. Of course there is no such thing as government money. All of the "government" money was confiscated by threat of force from my countrymen who worked hard and managed their assets better than I did.

    So I am really demanding that my more diligent countrymen (not my family or friends or affinity group) buy petrol for me because I couldn't be bothered to work and save on my own. Brilliant that is. Since I can get petrol without working, there is less incentive for me to work. Let the losers do that and pay the taxes while I party.

    Pretty soon, the roll is full of bludgers who are driving all about on their socialized petrol. The cost of the petrol benefit soars. So the government has the brilliant idea of controlling the price of socialized petrol. Except when the price for socialized petrol drops below the wholesale price of the fuel, the petrol stations start closing. Evil petrol station owners, they were just in it for the money!

    So the government has to take over the petrol stations. They have a fixed amount of money petrol to spend on petrol each week and they give it away for free. Great system. Except they run out of petrol on Saturday. They they run out of petrol on Friday, and so on. Pretty soon everyone has to take Monday off from work because that is the only day the station might have petrol, and they need to wait in the queue all day.

    Pretty foolish. Yet many people who think that socialized petrol is absurd think socialized medicine is a great idea.

    And then one day you go down to your service station and discover that you need a specialized petrol which requires a separate refinery run plus you need specialized hardware implanted in your vehicle and specialized technicians to handle the installation and the refinery run and the cost to you is just a tad over $1,350,000 payable upfront and you had better raise the cash quick cause you will be dead by Monday. At this point socialized petrol starts to look mighty fine.

    I'll start with a simple observation - you do not know anything more about what "human nature" is than I do. To claim your view of something is correct because it is "human nature" is to arrogate to yourself a fundamental knowledge about existence that is simply not possible. In a discussion or debate, reversion to such a statement is most typically an attempt to end discussion or to admit to an unwillingness to question your own assumptions any further. It is no different than saying "because god made us that way."

    Beyond that, your defense of the market is fine, except that you have only considered half the equation. Sure, your wish shouldn't be someone else's demand. But because you are considering that question from the assumption that the market is the natural order, you fail to see the true implication of your statement. Someone else's wish is already, that's right - already, your demand. You were born into a society that already put excessive demands on you and defines the space of what you can do, think, believe, etc. Indeed, your belief that you should be able to keep all that is yours without fear of it being taken and redistributed is itself "your demand" on others.

    You have clearly tried to set up this discussion as a simple division between left and right or socialism and market. I am not interested in that discussion as they are two sides of the same growth worshiping coin. I would destroy the whole bloody thing, but I'm also not under the delusion that I can actually do anything to bring that about - and probably don't need to as the internal contradictions will bring an end to the whole mess anyway.

    As for doctors, I don't have anything against them as people. I do have something against the horrors that the "profession" has perpetrated on us - most especially the appropriation of responsibility for our "health" and the placement of that responsibility into institutions that "the profession" controls. (Perhaps it is ironic, then, that it is now insurance and pharmaceutical companies that are resting that control from the doctors.)

    It's simple net-present-value of money -- that many years of money and sacrifice cost a lot

    Money is just an abstract. Religion, really. It's power exists in your belief. Some of you people seem to forget that money is nothing but a concept rather than an immutable law of nature. We do not, I repeat, NOT have to use it at all. So, maybe we do without money. Some societies do. They share everything, or almost everything. And some of them are apparently QUITE happy.

    Giving money the prominence it has today as a talisman rather than just a convenient way to trade? It's a choice, and a bad one, imnsho.

    and are worth a lot.

    Anything and everything can be said to be worth a lot. Nothing is inherently so. It always comes down to values and available resources.

    We can choose to live differently. The idea that these things are absolutes is bull poop.

    It's way past time to think outside the box. Or maybe just re-learn what we have forgotten. Or look to more nature-attuned societies.


    IMO, the problem of health care expenditures is a lot like many of the other problems we discuss here at length. The solution lies in thinking outside the box, in this case, you have to do what you can to keep people as healthy as possible FIRST. This is a matter of public policy, agricultural policy, culture, city planning, etc, etc... Meanwhile, I guess you need to ration healthcare according to principles "society" agrees upon - which is what we don't come close to doing. It would be hard for society to "agree" - I give you that.

    Do note that the problem of "dumping" - that is, refusing patients from emergency rooms for unacceptable reasons - was such a large and shameful problem in Our Fair Country, that we had to pass legislation to outlaw it. Meanwhile, studies still show that insurance status influences the care of even newborns, where one would hope "responsibility" for getting good insurance should not weigh so much (http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/100/3/e8).

    This system we have is possibly the worst in the world, though it allows incredible miraculous advances to be pioneered, and makes them available to whoever is lucky enough to need AND able to afford them, while somehow, the health status of the population as a whole is worse than that of many third world nations. (And no, I am not moving there, as many have suggested, because I was born here, after all, and prefer to work to change things).

    I've labored in clinics constrained by "what is available" for low-income folks for two decades. First we diagnose, then we choose from the array of tests and treatments that are "allowed". At no time does the human being in front of me seem remotely less "deserving" than my own child. Yes, some are illegal aliens (like my grandfather was, once upon a time, in another country...), or addicted (like some family members of mine...); "There but for the grace of God go I" has been my motto, and I am an atheist.

    We have a rotten, racist, classist, and wasteful system. Period. (Ask me how I really feel about it).

    Health care insurance costs should be a verybroadly distributed expense. Too much incentive for large for-profit insurers to force high-risk-not-their-own-fault people down thru the cracks.

    "...but what ever happened to personal responsibility?"

    People generally don't want to really talk or think about responsibility - they want to be adolescents their whole life. Freedom and the pursuit of happiness is where it's at. No mention of the responsibility that should be closely associated with freedom.

    Most people will require medical attention at one time or another through no real fault of their own, and some poor souls throughout much of their lives, but the majority of "illness" could be avoided or greatly reduced by increased responsibility for one's health, a little education and some self-restraint/discipline. It is a nice thought, but not realistic given the current pharmaceutical system (take a pill to get better) and our cultural bias.

    Come on, "personal responsibility" for the toxic waste put up as "food" in the supermarkets? If it was in the typical consumer's personal right to blow up the supermarkets, then yeah, I could see his taking personal responsibility for the crap he had to eat if he didn't blow it up. But short of that, he's no better than a cow in an industrial feedlot. If he gets sick, that's profit for the disease care industry. Nor is it only the supermarkets, but the whole system under which every possible cost is externalized.

    cfm in Gray, ME

    Being "personally responsible" may be part of the problem. Life expectancy has increased in recent decades because more and more people exercise, have healthy diets and don't smoke. Instead of dropping dead quickly from a massive heart attack or stroke in their 40s or 50s they are living into their 80s and suffering from chronic slow death disorders like cancer, Parkinsons, and Alzhiemers. It is those chronic disorders associated with age which consume a large percentage of health care resources. I just heard about some old friends in Michigan who have lived exemplary lives who are now battling cancer. One is undergoing a series of chemo and radiation treatments that will last until June. Having followed the conventional wisdom of investing in stocks they now have no money left to pay for treatment. Perhaps they should send the bill to Bernie Madoff because he made off with their life's savings.

    Are you arguing that to achieve good healthcare, all we need to do is make sure that everyone is well-off, reasonable and financially responsible? Crikey. I thought my politics were idealistic, but that's ridiculous!

    There are millions of reasonable (by which I think you mean "amenable to reason" rather than "affable") people who, despite careful management of their personal finances, simply cannot afford to pay for necessary healthcare in the USA. I'm intrigued to know how you suggest making them all "well-off"?

    Not by chance Paleocon. By design. So people can point to that story and say, see, universal doesn't work.

    Of course one testimonial does not a statistic create.

    And I don't think you want to start comparing the Japanese hospital problems with those in the U.S. Wasn't it just last summer that we had the stories about L.A. hospitals "dumping" indigent patients - literally driving them to some back street and leaving them on the sidewalk?

    I've lived in Japan and the health insurance system there is superb. The hospitals definitely leave something to be desired, though. Much of the daily maintenance tasks for a patient (e.g. changing of sheets) are handled by the family rather than by hospital personnel. Some of that is cultural, but it is also the result of a severe labor shortage. Young Japanese just aren't willing to work that hard for the money they'd make at something like an orderly.

    Of course, their are thousands of Filipinos who would be willing to emigrate to take what would be, for them, high paying wages. But the Japanese are even more afraid of the "other" than white America.

    Isn't that the same problem -- patients for which there is insufficient remuneration to warrant their care?

    Actually - the article you quoted suggests that the Japanese man was turned down because of a lack of space or expertise. Only in the "free market" version is the decision made based on remuneration possibilities.

    In a free market with adequate remuneration somebody would make space and would have compensated a larger pool of expertise, at least in general.

    Again, one instance is a testimonial, not a valid statistic, but it's fun to debate the background.

    In a free market with adequate remuneration the poor get refused or dumped on the street.

    Ok, here is the truth.

    When people working in medicine were compensated for their long training periods, irregular hours, and stressful responsibilities with:
    1) good pay
    2) social respect
    3) good facilities
    There were no serious shortages of health care people. In a crisis, we would gladly work 100 hour weeks if need be. We were honoured professionals, and we strove to serve our grateful communities in return.

    In New Zealand, the nationalized health care system has been getting worse for decades. Now the jobs feature low pay, disrespectful clients (often violent gangsters), and decaying facilities. The social contract with us has been broken.

    So there is a severe shortage of health care workers. Many leave the country or just leave the field to do something else. Many of those low quality, poorly trained, people that remain follow the old Soviet motto - "they pretend to pay us and we pretend to work". I didn't realize that Japan was in the same situation.

    I used to work in health care. Although I have another 15 years of potential productivity in me, I left the field. It just wasn't worth it.

    It isn't rocket science people. TANSTAAFL If you build an economy where are the benefits flow to corporate fraudsters and real estate hucksters, where the social and economic benefits of practicing a demanding, high accountability, profession have vanished, this is what you get. If you don't want to support health care workers, call your realtor or mortgage banker when you get sick.

    MH - while I understand your frustration, I would encourage you to curtail your righteousness. Your bias shines through when you claim the a nationalized system leads to violent gangsters being a significant problem. Such a claim is absurd on the surface. But your umbrage really rankles when you start talking about fraudsters and hucksters. The "health care" profession has long been the refuge of some pretty unscrupulous types. And the manner in which the medical "industry" has arrogated power to itself by claiming a monopoly of "Truth" about health borders on the outrageous just as much as it endangers our health.

    If you build an economy where [all] the benefits flow to corporate fraudsters and real estate hucksters, ... this is what you get [a deteriorating health sector].


    Many of us hear and understand your angst.

    Alleged "shortage" of nurses/doctors is just corporate double speak for keeping the labor pool full of low-wage idealistic youngsters and under-trained immigrants.

    TV shows that glamorize medicine (ER, House, etc.) are just more corporate double speak.

    However, no one "built" the economy. There was no "Intelligent Designer". It was just random evolution that, for one brief shining moment, appeared to be functional and sustainable.

    I heard one right-wing on-the-radio huckster (sitting in for Rush Limpbrain the other day) trying to explain how a "free" market; if left to its own devices, would "self-correct".

    What he neglected to mention is how the "free" market had "self-erred" when left to its own devices, and how there is no time limit on this "self-errorring" behavior or limit on the magnitude of the "self-errorring" free market.

    Collapsing medicine and runaway real estate are but two examples of how free markets work their magic.

    Banks borrowing from the Federal Reserve 1919 - 12/2007

    Banks borrowing from the Federal Reserve 1919 - 12/2008


    If anything, scarier than the graph is the general tone of the comments linked to
    ( http://seekingalpha.com/article/115525-the-scariest-chart-ever?source=ar... )

    Many are of the form:

    "Meh. Seen worse in the past, and it all turned out OK, so what's the big deal?"

    One admitted they could not read the graph, so maybe it's a case of "If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs.... maybe you don't understand the situation"


    The graphs do not appear to be inflation adjusted which exaggerates the recent spike.

    From the original source of that chart: Inflation vs. Deflation: The Quantity Theory of Money - M & V and their comment on it:

    The above charts suggest that we are currently seeing deflation concerns because banks are increasing their excess reserves faster than the Fed is expanding the monetary base; in other words, all the additional money printed by the Fed is getting soaked up by banks and the consumer is seeing decelerating inflation. This trend is bound to reverse suddenly and drastically once credit thaws, though. At that point do you think the Fed will be able to drain excess cash from the system fast enough to prevent massive inflation?

    In other words the reason we are not seeing runaway inflation right now is that all that fed money is being soaked up by the banks and none of it is being distributed to the public. Well hell, that is not doing the economy any good. But when the money is released we are likely to have runaway inflation. Well double hell, that will be even worse for the economy.


    That money is replacing fictional bank assets, assets that have recently evaporated like the Cheshire Cat.

    I don't see that this money can ever be released, unless the Cheshire Cat reappears. Who knows, may it will...

    The banks will start lending when the extra money from the Fed is not needed to balance the losses in home prices and loans on the left side of their balance sheets.

    And those home prices will stabilize when the people get loans.

    Sounds like "Catch-22" to me.

    Only worse, as the lack of bank lending for businesses is also resulting in fewer jobs, thus more people out of work and more people who can't pay their mortgages. As pointed out many times, it doesn't matter whether your mortgage is for a $500,000 McMansion or a $50,000 doublewide, if you don't have a job (or other income), you are going to default. This scenario suggests that we are in the midst of a long downward spiral to the point that only the barest basics in the economy will continue to be traded in the markets and new home buyers will have a very difficult time purchasing even those houses already built.

    E. Swanson

    The banks will start lending when the extra money from the Fed is not needed to balance the losses in home prices and loans on the left side of their balance sheets.

    And those home prices will stabilize when the people get loans.

    Home prices will stabilize when they become affordable based on the peoples income. When that happens, banks will start to finance the loans, because then they know that that loans can be repaid.

    Home prices will stabilize when they become affordable based on the peoples income.

    And since there are significant and rising numbers of people with no income the relative price of housing will remain expensive and prices will continue to fall. An increased portion of the housing stock will revert to the lender and this will have a negative impact on bank balance sheets and will curtail lending. Low incomes and a lack of available credit will maintain the high relative price of housing and require a further price decline to achieve affordability. I do not see how a few trillion dollars injected into the banks will avert this deflationary cycle.

    Yes, and the sooner the prices bottom, the sooner crisis will end. I don't see much point in artificially raising the home prices beyond the level of affordability. You can throw as much money as you wish, however the fact is that people cannot afford that price level. They are bound to default.

    Well said. It makes no sense to me either, except to help the balance sheets of the banks. I wonder if something more sinister is at work:

    Default can be profitable, as long as there is more than a token down payment. This has been shown with vehicles. Some used car lots have sold, repoed and resold the same car many times. IIRC, in the case of a repo, the financier is not just entitled to the shortfall on the loan, but to the entire title of the vehicle.

    In the case of real estate foreclosure, I believe in most areas the lender sells the property and any proceeds in excess of the mortgage balance must be returned to the buyer. Of course, procedural "fees" etc, can easily eat this up and of course, the person foreclosed on has no money to contest anything.

    This little enterprise can only be profitable if the house prices are maintained at an artificially high level, ensuring the default level stays high, as you said. Otherwise the lender will get a haircut on each foreclosure until house prices bottom.

    It has to unwind and delaying the inevitable only makes it worse, except for the bank(sters).

    The damned hockey stick again. In Odum's system of modelling - a variation on analog circuitry - that would be a pulse of destruction.

    cfm in Gray, ME

    Whadya know, the imminent crisis is back:

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama said Wednesday the recession will turn into "a catastrophe" if the economic stimulus is not passed quickly, lobbying anew for the plan as its price tag climbed above $900 billion and drew more criticism.

    The president rejected several complaints about the plan, including arguments that tax cuts alone would solve the problem or that longer-term goals such as energy independence and health care reform should wait. Obama opposed such piecemeal approaches.

  • http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Obama-Catastrophe-coming-if-apf-14250882.html
  • Yeah, it's the shock-doctrine all over again. Pretty soon it's going to be like crying wolf. (I think we're there already) I think the economy and financial/monetary system needs to collapse to stimulate any possibility of beneficial change. So Obama's comments to me are like threatening the rabbit that you'll throw him in the brier patch.


    There was a very thoughtful letter-to-the-editor in today's NY Times that expresses my sentiments exactly:

    I am an independent who embraced Barack Obama’s candidacy with great enthusiasm. Not only did my wife and I vote for him, but we also made a modest financial contribution to his campaign.

    I go not by what people say but by what they do. Unfortunately, on this subject it is beginning to look like business as usual.

    I am very sad. I did not think that I would be disappointed so soon after the glow and the promise of the inauguration.

    Bilsel Alisbah


    Not to be excessively cynical, but you have only your self to blame for your disappointment. Obama said or did nothing during the campaign that suggested he was anything other than another tool of the moneyed class. "Change" was a slogan only and you should have known that.

    I hate being right.. i warned against what i saw was false hope and got the stingers and barbs to prove it. Yet when i am proved right i feel no joy.


    Can't remember who said it:

    "The only thing worse than being proved wrong, is being proved right"

    Yesterday I made a post about NH HCR 6 that is being considered. This resolution would declare the state's sovereignty under the 10th amendment of the US constitution.

    Add the following states to the list as well:

    WA (HJM 4009) (pdf)
    MO (HR 212)
    MT (HB 246) (pdf)
    AZ (HCR 2024)
    CA (SJR 44) Passed in 1994 but not as focused as the NH proposal.
    OK (HJR 1089)

    I'm starting to see a pattern. About time!


    Add another one:
    MI (HCR 4) (pdf)

    And it Appears that there is a movement to enact a brand new constitutional convention.

    As I noted in this column a few weeks ago, proponents of assembling a new Constitutional Convention are a scant two states away from achieving that monstrous reality...

    ...As I noted in my previous column on this subject, "If called, a modern Constitutional Convention could declare the U.S. Constitution to be null and void, and could completely rewrite the document. For example, former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger once declared, 'There is no effective way to limit or muzzle the actions of a Constitutional Convention. The Convention could make its own rules and set its own agenda.'"...

    Here's an article that outlines the different states claiming sovereignty under the 10th ammendment.

    It's saddening that we're two states away from have 20% of our states claiming sovereignty, yet there is NO reporting of this through the MSM.

    IMO, the best basis for re-organizing and shrinking the size of government is to redraw the resulting smaller states and/or smaller orgs along watershed boundary demarcation. For example, see the Colorado River watershed:


    This could do much to reduce future violence when we don't have the energy and resources to maintain far-flung irrigation, potable water & sewage infrastructure anymore. I have much discussed this topic in prior postings.

    Looks like THIS might be a big part of the reason for these claims of states rights.

    E. Swanson

    It was an economic crisis in the 1780s which motivated the states to form the first constitutional convention. I would like to see the senate limited to confirming appointments and ratifying treaties. We have let any group of 41 senators stand in the way of the needs of the people for too long.

    If I was an CEO of a big bank, who to the TARP bait, and now severely underpaid, I would drive that bank into the ground. This would lower the competition for my new bank opening down the street (without TARP money, thank you).

    Funny thing is, if they'd had that limit in there to being with the original $350B wouldn't have been spent, nor the rest of the bail-outs.

    Gov't money always comes with strings attached, and more grow while you have it. Still, I can't bring myself to be least bit sorry for them.

    If an actual $500000 limit had been put in 10 years ago many of these banks wouldn't have been destroyed. A lot of the motivation for fraudulent accounting is because upper management pay can be increased this way. What is interesting about this current limit is that as far as I am aware, not one shareholder (owner) of these firms feels that this pay limit will cause "talent" to leave or perform poorly.


    The banks have already been driven into the ground by the CEO's! All this TARP and Bailout effort is undertaken to hide this reality for as long as possible.


    "I don't think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen," he said. "We're looking at a scenario where there's no more agriculture in California." And, he added, "I don't actually see how they can keep their cities going" either.

    A pair of recent studies raise similar warnings. One, published in January in the journal Science, raised the specter of worldwide crop shortages as temperatures rise. Another, penned by UC Berkeley researchers last year, estimated California has about $2.5 trillion in real estate assets -- including agriculture -- endangered by warming.

    This is fantastic. The US Government finally starting to tell it like it is. Using very scary language. The end of cites. The end of agriculture. Thank Goodness for scientists in critical positions. You Go Dr. Chu!

    Hopefully we will start to see this kind of frankness about peak oil.

    Hello JonFreise,

    Is Cascadia, New Vermont Republic, and other survival areas ready? I would require any potential immigrants from Cali, AZ, and Vegas to bring real assets and large amounts of them, too. Let's say someone from Riverside or Phx would have to produce 500 bicycles and/or wheelbarrows before being allowed to settle in Portland. Someone from Palm Springs or Tempe might be required to bring 50 tons of I-NPK before being allowed to settle in the Columbia River valley. How about bringing a couple of miles of dis-assembled structural steel suitable for SpiderWebRiding before being allowed to live in the Seattle area?

    My guess is if someone seeking to emigrate north has a few dozen high quality sniper rifles, and is willing to be a ruthless Earthmarine, than he will be heartily welcomed into the Cascadian [or other area] lifeboat. Time will tell.

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

    I don't know if any area is ready for Southern California to migrate! Dust bowl run backwards. Yikes.

    No shortage of sniper rifles up here in deer hunting country (Minnesota). But I love your idea of demanding rail lines as payment. Maybe we can get the whole Dallas Light Rail system when global warming smokes them out!

    Three charts to look at:
    Year over year change in Auto Sales for January 2008-2009

    Historical Vehicle Sales January 1967-January 2009

    Home Sales from January 1963-January 2009


    OTOH the current pace of combined Chimerica auto sales is higher than any year prior to 1987 (and this is a global depression pace of sales volume).

    China is not just beating the US in autosales:

    China is poised to be world's largest installer of wind power in 2009.

    See details at:


    I bet they will be the first to build-out strategic reserves of bicycles & wheelbarrows & rickshaws, adopt full-on O-NPK recycling, and build many miles of narrow gauge SpiderWebRiding Networks to augment their huge buildout of standard gauge railway,too. Never forget this Chinese photo as we go postPeak:


    Hello TODers,

    I bet OPEC wished they could slam shut 16% of their oil well production in one month [3-page PDF Warning]:


    U.S. marketable phosphate rock production in November was 2.17 million metric tons (Mt), which was 16% lower than that in October, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Phosphate rock production for the period January through November 2008 was 3% higher than that in the same period of 2007.
    Phosphate rock used in the United States in November was 1.71 Mt, which was 31% lower than that in October. The large decrease corresponded to a similar decrease in phosphoric acid production in November that was caused by a drop in world demand for phosphate fertilizer products. Phosphate rock used in January through November 2008 was 3% lower than that in the same period of 2007...
    Recall that the above link is backward looking. I have posted many weblinks since last Nov. of further I-NPK production curtailments. Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

    Some more speculative thoughts: If Cali agro-production collapses due to drought restrictions, this could be a powerful driver for higher produce prices across the nation. The key question is: will lots of people start gardening strawberries, tomatoes, carrots, radishes, apples, pears, etc? Or will they instead go for increased consumption of pork rinds, Cheetos & Fritos, Twinkies, Little Debbie Snack cakes, soda pop, and other poor nutrition, but cheap foods?

    Once OPEC curtailments start kicking in, I would expect this to be an additional cost kicker to the 1500 mile Caesar Salad, but it will also make I-NPK more expensive too. Will Obama encourage Victory Gardens, chicken coops, and composting to help provide decent nutrition? Or do the lobbyists have more clout to insure that increased sales of junk food and high fructose corn syrup is the path forward?

    Devon's Q4 2008 profit was $0.67 per share vs. $2.92 per share in Q4 2007. The company took a 6.8 billion dollar one time mark to market loss on the declining value of its oil and gas reserves.


    Here's a rather long but complete explanation why you're seeing such big markdowns:

    "The cause of the loss was a non-cash charge resulting from something called the "full cost ceiling test." As a company that uses the full cost method of accounting, we are required by the Securities and Exchange Commission to perform a ceiling test at the end of every quarter. Under those rules, we must value our oil and gas reserves at the end of the quarter using actual prices received on the last day of the quarter, held flat forever and then discounted at 10 percent. The value calculated in this manner has little or no relationship to the market value of our reserves in the real world. However, we must take that number and compare it to our accounting value for those assets. If the accounting numbers are larger than that figure, then we must take a ceiling test write-down. As all of you know, on Dec. 31 oil and natural gas prices were very low, and those low prices resulted in the requirement to take this non-cash charge.

    Naturally, none of us really believe that oil and gas prices will never increase from the Dec. 31 level. Using a point in time price to value projects that have operating life spans sometimes approaching 25 years makes little sense. As a result, the SEC has reconsidered its rules and is changing them, but not until the end of 2009.

    What is important to understand is that the ceiling test charge is an accounting artifact and nothing more. It does not decrease the inherent value of our proved reserves or reflect the value that we ultimately expect to realize from those assets. We own just as much oil and natural gas in the ground today as we did before the ceiling test adjustment. The charge has no impact on our cash flow, no impact on our borrowing capacity and no impact on our outlook for the future. In fact, because the ceiling test adjustment has no cash implications and does not affect the operating results of the company, oil and gas analysts typically exclude this non-cash charge from their corporate evaluations. Similarly, our banks exclude the charge from the financial tests contained in our bank lines.

    So, when you read about today's loss, do not be alarmed. Given our considerable financial strength and our deep portfolio of opportunities, we are better positioned than most companies to weather this current period of low prices. In the interim, we will tighten our belts, manage expenditures and remain positioned to continue to grow our company and prosper when prices recover."

    Now day 9 in WKY. Things are about the same. More and more linesman and their vehicles rolling in from other states. One convoy has almost 30 bucket trucks and the name on them was PIKE.

    Spoke to a line crew from Tennessee early this morning. They asked if I had brought them some of the coffee I was sipping. I said' Here take mind and I will go get mine replaced." He demurred. He said they were mostly sleeping three to a room or in large halls on army cots.

    It was 5 degrees above zero on my thermometer when I got up. I could see my breath in my living quarters and the inside temp was 33 degrees. Tonite more cold weather, a slight warm up then another cold front and snow coming in as per NOAA weather.

    Down my road I stopped and talked to a crew cleaning up down trees in a neighbors yard. They were from S. Carolina and from a Baptist Church there. They couldn't work the county or state roads so they worked on folks yards and around the house. They had driven a semi with a lowboy and had a very large Gehl Bobcat and 12 men and boys yielding chainsaws and making fast work of the downed timber and limbs.

    Funny my own church down the same road was doing zero. Nada. Nothing. A shame. Not even giving out coffee in the fellowship hall.

    Still no power and the crews are moving slow in the cold. Nothing much from up north did I see. Mostly southerners. Friendly too.Hard working linemen.

    FEMA is not visible. There is one location manned by N. Guard handing out free 4 gal contains of K-1 kerosene. There was no line but I pulled in behind another guy and he had to present his drivers license and sign papers. I then pulled out of the lot and decided I could pay for my own and to hell with doing the ID BS.

    There is no signage up indicating to anybody where any free services are. So how do you inform the county residences? Signs.

    The town church had a feeding and warming center going but what did the big display in the lot say? "Oh thanks for the donations and thanks to the National Guard." Then some stuff about Jesus. Not a word about coming in for a meal and a place to sleep or warm up!!!!

    The county execs are too busy I guess doing tv and radio spots to worry about informing the residents. This is not a good way to run an emergency or disaster IMO. Bad marks all around.

    The local store here is busy gouging customers. Their sign out front says "Propane,Water,Generators,Chainsaws"...I went in. One generator and priced at $900..about 400 over normal prices. A cheapie generator.

    I was told later that a couple had brought two of them and it immediately killed their big HDTV. They had to drive 40 miles to get a better one. Spiky output can kill a lot of electronics.

    Tomorrow I have to go fix a server at a business I maintain. The power supply is likely shot and it was on a UPS.

    We are now in for the long haul of no power. Other areas are coming up slowly. No sign of the equipment for my co-op. We are many miles from their offices.

    Someone spoke of using inverters. After all this is over I intend to buy a good name brand generator with a Honda engine in about the 5,000 range. I might even then go off the grid and only use it on rare occasions. Put saved money into a few PV panels and some decent large batteries. I have some angst regarding the Co-op that serves my area.

    I have no words of advice other than:
    Get a good generator.
    Find the best way to store a good supply of fuel.
    Put your freezer outside in the winter. Empty your refrigerator.
    Buy some good oil lamps.
    Buy a decent wood heater,,better if you can cook on its top.
    Lay in a very good wood supply and under shelter.
    Buy a good Stihl chain saw. A MS290 is a goodly size with a 20" bar.
    Learn how to hand sharpen it. Get spare chains and a bar and sprocket.
    Buy a few good double bit axes and learn how to maintain them.
    Save your corncobs to soak in kerosene as the best fire starter
    A lot more could be said especially about water..but it can get voluminous.

    Also. Own your land and living quarters outright. Buy a good .22 for same game. Some good pressure canners. A pyrolysis stove or two.

    All this is for unexpected disasters and also for the long haul when it comes to that but then you are at least started on the path you need to be on.

    City folks? Your goals may differ but I am no longer one so this is my advice for those who can be all alone for a lengthy time or maybe for a very long time,,in the outback of the large flyover that politicians once in a while glance out of their jet' windows at.And as well as rich banksters(rhymes with gangsters).The unforgotten few. The wretched few. The leftbehinds. The dregs and drudges. The voters who hands they shake and then apply the sanitizer lotion forthwith to their own. The ones who don't know you later. Who conveniently forget to pay their taxes but may sit on the committee that enforces and creates those rules and regulations. Those ones.


    I just checked the Kentucky weather and it seems alot of single digits for a night following more than a week without power. Hang in there.

    Our longest recent winter stretch without power lasted 8 days. You have that beat. We got along alright with candles, a propane heater-just heat one room-and a Coleman gas camping stove. In that we have gravity feed spring water, it was quite a plus. Kept a trickle on to prevent pipe freeze. Just flushing the toilet was a big leg up.

    One thing on freezers-just keep them shut. If they are full, they'll be fine in the winter temps. Ours are in the basement, which became one of the "warmest" places, low 40's, and it all kept fine.

    Written by airdale:
    Put your freezer outside in the winter. Empty your refrigerator.

    Leave your refrigerator in your house. Fill plastic bottles about 95% full of water. Put them outside at night during the winter to freeze the water. In the morning put them in the refrigerator creating an ice box.

    For the freezer add salt to the bottles of water to lower the freezing temperature and do the same thing.

    Do not use glass bottles because the water could freeze solid and break them. 2 liter soda pop bottles, 24 ounce plastic peanut jars or 1 gallon water jugs work well.

    you could also lower the energy consumption of your moonshine still by freeze drying the jugs.

    Hello TODers,

    This is certainly not breaking news to regular TOD readers, but it might start to have a ripple effect among the huddled masses:

    D-Day for Gordon Brown as he says world is already in a depression

    EDIT: Donald Trump on Larry King Show:

    King: What about the whole concept of bailouts?

    Trump: Well, it's a little bit different. A lot of people are not in favor of bailouts. You know, we talked about all the different things going on in this country. Let's face it, Larry, we are in a depression.