DrumBeat: February 15, 2009

In rural Alaska villages, families struggle to survive

(CNN) -- Thousands of villagers in rural Alaska are struggling to survive, forced to choose between keeping their families warm and keeping their stomachs full, residents say.

Harvested nuts and berries, small game animals, and dried fish are the only things keeping some from starving.

To get to the nearest store, Ann Strongheart and her husband, who live in Nunam Iqua, Alaska, take an hour-and-15-minute snowmobile ride to Emmonak, Alaska. Their town does not have a store of its own.

Push for renewable energy may destabilise oil market

"The insistence of key consuming countries on supporting renewable energy, mainly biofuels, for purely political reasons that have nothing to do with market factors could adversely affect the oil market stability in the long term," the 10-nation OAPEC said in a study obtained by Emirates Business yesterday. "We believe this will deprive the traditional energy sector, including oil and gas, from funding needed for capacity expansions as massive funds will be channelled into the development of renewable energy sources… this will also increase the uncertainty surrounding demand for OAPEC's oil."

Stations pumped dry: Struggle grows as oil firms dump pumps

DELRAY BEACH — Shuttered, empty gas stations are becoming more common along the streets of South Florida. Crushed by lack of profits because of last year's high-priced gasoline, credit card fees and fewer snack and beverage sales, many fuel retailers are hurting.

Nationwide, the number of retail gasoline outlets fell by 2,500 in 2008 to 161,768, according to the industry publication National Petroleum News.

Dmitry Orlov: Social collapse best practices

Women seem much more able to cope. Perhaps it is because they have less of their ego invested in the whole dubious enterprise, or perhaps their sense of personal responsibility is tied to those around them and not some nebulous grand enterprise. In any case, the women always seem far more able to just put on their gardening gloves and go do something useful, while the men tend to sit around groaning about the Empire, or the Republic, or whatever it is that they lost. And when they do that, they become very tedious company. And so, without a bit of mental preparation, the men are all liable to end up very lonely and very drunk. So that's my little intervention.

...Here is the key insight: you might think that when collapse happens, nothing works. That’s just not the case. The old ways of doing things don’t work any more, the old assumptions are all invalidated, conventional goals and measures of success become irrelevant. But a different set of goals, techniques, and measures of success can be brought to bear immediately, and the sooner the better.

Venezuela says OPEC may need further cuts in March

Venezuela's energy minister says world oil inventories are too high and may require new output cuts from OPEC in March.

Minister Rafael Ramirez warns that past cuts have not balanced supply with demand, which continues to fall amid the world economic crisis.

Russia to raise oil export duty to $115.3 per ton from March 1

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) - Russia will raise export duty on oil to $115.3 per metric ton from the current rate of $100.9 per ton following a stabilization of oil prices on world markets, a Finance Ministry official said Sunday.

Saudi Arabia seen upholding dollar peg policy

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia's new central bank governor is set to keep the oil exporter's dollar-pegged monetary policy intact amid a harsh global economic crisis, analysts said on Sunday.

The world's top oil exporter named Mohammad Al Jasser governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) on Saturday.

Hamad Saud Al Sayyari asked to step down after 26 years at the helm of the Gulf's most influential central bank.

In Deepwater: Pemex Looks for Help from Foreign Oil Companies

Pemex is planning on foreign oil companies to extensively contribute to Mexico's deepwater drilling program, Pemex chief executive Jesus Reyes Heroles told Dow Jones.

Once rigs are secured in 2010, the company plans to drill eight to 10 wells a year in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

"Our strategy envisions the possibility to have other companies do the exploration," Reyes Heroles said at a recent industry conference. "We'd like to see Pemex's program duplicated with activity starting in 2010."

Threat of gas price rise as reserves run dry: Pipeline breakdowns and cold weather leave yawning breach in nation's energy security

Britain faces an energy crisis next month as vital gas reserves run dry, top energy analysts warn. The unprecedented emergency, which exposes a gaping hole in the country's energy security, is expected to lead to sharp price increases.

Centrica, which owns British Gas, told The Independent on Sunday late last week that, on present trends, its main reserve would be totally depleted in a little over three weeks. And though extra gas can be imported from Norway and the Netherlands to make up any shortfall, serious breakdowns have hit pipelines from both countries in the past week.

The crisis reveals an extraordinary failure to plan for the future as supplies of gas from the North Sea have run down, turning Britain into an importer of the fuel. Though now dependent on overseas supplies, it keeps only about a quarter as much gas in reserves as France, Germany and Italy, making it uniquely vulnerable to shortages and price hikes.

The Decline of the Petro-Czar

Plunging oil prices have created an unexpected diplomatic bright spot in the global recession by weakening unfriendly regimes.

Eyes On Saudis As OPEC Weighs Output Cuts

NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--Crude oil prices have plunged to near five-year lows, fueling speculation that OPEC may again slash production levels when it meets in a month.

Saudi Arabia, OPEC's kingpin and the world's biggest oil exporter, already has cut output by up to 2 million barrels a day from a 25-year high hit last summer when crude prices were soaring to near $150 a barrel.

But despite the Saudi-led cut backs, global inventories have swelled as the oil demand is shrinking worldwide, battered by the deepening economic crisis. OPEC frets that the growing glut is "likely to continue to disrupt the overall stability of the market," with the impact deepening as demand drops seasonally in the second quarter and refiners slow operations.

Things Explained: Gasoline Prices

The question I’m most often asked may be, "How is it that the price of oil can fall and yet the price of gasoline rises?" Somewhere along the way, most reporters covering the energy industry have convinced Americans that the price of oil and gasoline pump prices are somehow directly connected. Well, the connection is there, but it is a weak one; and certainly over the past few years, misinformation has confused the effect of oil prices on the price of gasoline and diesel.

Corn, ethanol industries respond to criticism

WASHINGTON — Comments made last week by the Environmental Working Group and Grocery Manufacturers Association groups are just another attempt to prevent the ethanol industry from decreasing the United States’ dependence on foreign oil, according to the National Corn Growers Association.

“These environmental groups are stirring up fear for the American public at a time when Americans are already struggling due to the faltering world economy, job losses and high costs of food brought on by some food companies’ record profits and greed,” said NCGA President Bob Dickey.

Coal at centre of fierce new climate battle

The debate over the impact of fossil fuels has been reignited by the imminent approval of a power plant at Kingsnorth, Kent. Could advances in technology provide ways of capturing dangerous emissions and make coal safer?

Take Peak Oil seriously - it'll be here much sooner than you think: No longer the purview of anti-social types, experts warn we must embrace a massive lifestyle change

While panic is not the prescription, experts are warning that the time to begin taking Peak Oil seriously is past.

"It's not about believing. It's about facts," said Gord Miller, Ontario's environmental commissioner. Miller has been warning about Peak Oil for years. He thinks we hit peak around early 2007.

"If we're not there, we're awful close," said Dave Hughes, a geoscientist who once ran Canada's national coal inventory.

Peak Oil doesn't mean we have run out of the stuff. It means that we have crested the top of a bell curve of supply. Then it's a roller-coaster ride down. Depending on who you ask, that ride will either be slow and uncomfortable or teeth-rattling and destructive.

"Depletion is taking somewhere between 5 and 6 per cent of (existing) world oil production per year," said Hughes. "The reason that oil price is where it is today is that the economy has reduced demand."

Meet the doomsayers of our time

For millennia, doomsayers have been predicting the end of the world as we know it. These days, theory dovetails with fact: oil is disappearing. Should we be listening?

Drilling activity continues to fall

HOUSTON -- The US rig count continued to plummet, down by 60 rotary rigs with 1,339 working this week, the lowest number since the week ended June 10, 2005.

That is down from 1,773 active rigs a year ago at this period, with cuts in every category, Baker Hughes Inc. reported.

Kuwait official: Oil not likely to pass $40 a barrel for now

KUWAIT CITY — A top Kuwaiti oil official says crude oil prices are unlikely to rise above $40 per barrel, even if OPEC decides to enact a production cut of as much as 2 million barrels per day at its meeting next month.

Moussa Marafi, a member of the Supreme Petroleum Council, the highest oil policy-making body in Kuwait, told Annahar newspaper today that oil prices are being pressured by a surging U.S. crude inventories quota, noncompliance by some OPEC members and continued pumping by non-OPEC producers.

Chevron close to deal on Turkish oil drilling-report

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey expects to complete talks with U.S. oil giant Chevron by this summer on a deal that may be worth at least $500 million to explore for oil in the Black Sea, the state-run Anatolian news agency said on Sunday.

Mystery deepens around secretive Ukrainian gas firm

KIEV, Ukraine -- When Ukraine and Russia ended their clash over natural gas supplies last month, resuming the flow to more than a dozen European countries, the agreement focused a spotlight on a mysterious firm that suddenly was cut out of the deal.

Over the four-plus years of its existence, Rosukrenergo - short for Russia-Ukraine Energy - had collected billions of dollars, much of it as the sole intermediary for gas pumped to Ukraine from Russia.

Indonesia outlines plans for new refineries, upgrades

LOS ANGELES -- Indonesia's state-owned PT Pertamina, aiming to reduce fuel imports by boosting domestic supply, plans to construct two new refineries and upgrade an existing facility.

"We still import fuels in a large volume," said Indonesian President Bambang Susilo Yudhoyono, adding that, as a matter of economic efficiency, Pertamina "will build three refineries within 3-5 years."

Indonesia sees oil prices at $40 to $60/barrel in '09

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia's Finance Minister said on Sunday that she estimates oil prices this year would be in the range of $40 to $60 per barrrel, and that Indonesia would stick to its 2009 budget assumption of $45 per barrel.

Kuwait revenue hit by oil price plunge

KUWAIT CITY (AFP) - OPEC member Kuwait earned 652 million dinars (2.25 billion dollars) in revenues in January, the lowest monthly income this year due to a plunge in oil prices, the finance ministry said on Sunday.

The figure compares to the highest monthly income of 12.9 billion dollars posted in August a month after oil prices peaked at more than 147 dollars before sliding to around 40 dollars.

Oil income makes up more than 90 percent of public revenue in the Gulf state which sits on 10 percent of global crude reserves and pumps around 2.2 million barrels per day.

Price not only condition for UAE gas deal - Iranian official

A senior Iranian official said UAE firm Crescent Petroleum must agree to a revised price as well as other conditions for a long-delayed gas export deal to go ahead, in comments published on Sunday.

Reza Kasaeizadeh, managing director of the National Iranian Gas Export Company, also reiterated a warning that Iran could use the gas from its offshore Salman field at home if the two sides failed to reach a deal.

Russia vs the market in battle of the ruble

MOSCOW (AFP) – It's a game requiring nerves of steel, strategic planning and the possession of huge financial reserves.

Poker? Roulette? Backgammon perhaps? No. The months long standoff between the Russian central bank and the foreign exchange markets over the value of the ruble.

The state of oil prices

According to Bell, there have been 12 recessions in the United States since World War II. Of those, 11 have been preceded by a spike in oil prices. Professor Michael Economides of the Cullen College of Engineering at the University of Houston, said the run up in oil prices was also a factor in the collapse and a lot of it has to do with market psychology.

"There was no rational reason for $100 oil as there is no rational reason for $40 oil now," Economides said.

Is America Ready to Quit Coal?

The coal industry, which powered the industrial revolution and supplied America with much of its electricity for more than 60 years, is in a fight for its survival.

With concerns over climate change intensifying, electricity generation from coal, once reliably cheap, looks increasingly expensive in the face of the all-but-certain prospect of regulations that would impose significant costs on companies that emit large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Now my farm will help teach the world to live without oil, says woman who banished plastic bags from her town

I was under no illusion that being a farmer would be easy, but last year's fuel crisis, with oil prices continually rising, was a wake-up call for me.

Our costs went through the roof - animal feed, diesel for the tractors, agricultural contractor bills - but the biggest rise was in the price of fertiliser. We use very little chemical fertiliser, but many farms were driven to bankruptcy.

With this in mind, I decided to make one last BBC documentary to find out if, and how, modern farming could survive the 21st Century.

More Annals of Global Greed Inc.

Halliburton and its former KBR subsidiary have agreed to pay $579 million in fines to settle criminal and regulatory charges of having bribed foreign officials to win billions in construction contracts. There may be some taxpayer comfort in the fact that this scandal was rooted in Nigeria, not Iraq, where the Halliburton megacorporation (you know, the one Dick Cheney ran before he became vice president) reaped multibillions as the Bush administration’s most favored no-bid contractor.

Still, there are a lot of unanswered questions about Halliburton’s practices in Iraq, with numerous complaints of overpricing and ineptitude. Its corporate conduct in the Nigerian scheme is hardly encouraging and should compel tighter scrutiny of its Iraq failures.

Electric car returns energy to the grid

The battery in this new breed of electric car can both give and receive, taking a charge and then, through the same electrical cord, sending some of its stored energy back to a hungry electricity grid, as needed.

Kempton’s is currently the only such two-way electric car in a regional grid that spans Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and some or all of 11 other states, along with the District of Columbia.

But add a few million more _ as Kempton and others predict will happen, perhaps within the decade _ and things begin to look a whole lot different.

Both sides miss truth of recession

Nevertheless, the Internet is alive with predictions of doom. Check out the Club Orlov blog if you need something to bring you down this afternoon. The high priest of gloom is James Howard Kunstler, who long ago wrote an interesting book called "The Geography of Nowhere," all about the unsustainability of suburbia and car culture and has since been looking for the deus ex machina that could make his darkest dreams come true. For a while he said it would be the Y2K computer problem, and when that didn't pan out, peak oil. Now (without giving up on the end of the oil economy) he's grooving on financial Armageddon.

"What we really face is a comprehensive contraction in our activities, especially the scale of our activities, and the pressing need to readjust the systems of everyday life to a level of decreased complexity," Kunstler wrote recently at his blog, which has a non-newspaper-safe name that means "messed-up nation." He makes some good points about simplicity and sustainability, but they're wrapped up in so much negativity that a lot of people will ignore them.

Study backs H-power growth

Expansion of the Kapolei H-power plant could reduce city landfill needs and increase energy production with no significant increase in health risks, according to a recently released draft environmental impact study.

However, the addition of a third boiler to the city's garbage-to-power conversion facility won't be operational until 2012, and at a cost to taxpayers that remains undisclosed. The study provides support for a critical piece of Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann's solid waste management plan, which includes expanding H-power, exporting trash and boosting recycling efforts.

Cycling Enters the Electronic Age With a New Gear-Shifting System

Although the battery-powered derailleur by Shimano promises to bring ease and accuracy to changing gears by enabling riders to shift with a light touch to two electronic switches, traditionalists worry that it may erode the basic tenets of the sport.

“People choose bicycles precisely because a bicycle’s motion requires only human effort, and nothing could be more simple, independent and autonomous,” Raymond Henry, a cycling historian in St. Etienne, France, wrote in an e-mail message. “Any source of external energy, however weak, runs counter to this philosophy.”

Study: Biofuels May Accelerate, Not Slow, Climate Change

A biofuel boom, which would cause farmers to seek more space to plant crops, can do more harm than good for the environment, says a Stanford University researcher.

“If we run our cars on biofuels produced in the tropics, chances will be good that we are effectively burning rainforests in our gas tanks,” warned Holly Gibbs of Stanford’s Woods Institute for the Environment.

Belgium opens new Antarctic polar research station

BRUSSELS (AP) — Belgium opened a new 20 million euro ($26 million) "zero emissions" polar science station in Antarctica on Sunday, returning to the continent to study climate change 42 years after closing its first base there.

The Princess Elisabeth research hub is totally energy self-sufficient and also aims not to emit any carbon dioxide emissions, according to the Belgian-based International Polar Foundation that runs the base.

George Will: Global warming in retreat

A corollary of Murphy’s Law (“If something can go wrong, it will”) is: “Things are worse than they can possibly be.” Energy Secretary Steven Chu, an atomic physicist, seems to embrace that corollary but ignores Gregg Easterbrook’s “Law of Doomsaying”: Predict catastrophe no sooner than five years hence but no later than 10 years away, soon enough to terrify but distant enough that people will forget if you are wrong.

Geo Will has been wrong since Nov 2000, at least.

No reason to change now.



USDA projected 4.2 billion bushels of corn will be used to produce ethanol in 2009/10, an increase from 3.6 billion bushels forecasted for the current year.

Overall, ethanol is forecast to command about 33 percent of the corn crop compared to 30 percent in 2008/09.

"While expansion in the ethanol industry continues, smaller gains for corn-based ethanol are projected, largely reflecting moderate growth in overall gasoline consumption in the United States," USDA said in its annual "baseline" report.



CO2 hits new peaks, no sign global crisis causing dip
Thu Feb 12, 2009 9:52am EST


By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

OSLO (Reuters) - Atmospheric levels of the main greenhouse gas are hitting new highs, with no sign yet that the world economic downturn is curbing industrial emissions, a leading scientist said on Thursday.

385 ppm was the Point of No Return.

we're at 392 now.

Only an immediate collapse of fossil fuel burn
can stop this.

Here's my reply in a comment on the Rocky Mountain News site:
George Will's comments repeat the usual anti-science denials of the conservative politicians. The references to the claims that there was a concern for cooling during the 1970's has little to do with today's science. Indeed, even during the 1970's, there was no consensus that an Ice Age was imminent, although there were several claims by non-scientists.

As for the situation regarding sea-ice, the Arctic has seen a dramatic decline at the end of the yearly melt season. All indications are that this trend will continue and result in complete loss of sea-ice in the near future. Mr. Will's comments regarding the data from the University of Illinois’ Arctic Climate Research Center ignores the fact that this claim has been clearly refuted in an article on that group's web site.

Of course, Mr. Will is more interested in playing politics by repeating Republican disinformation, completely ignoring the fate of the Earth and the billions of people now living or who will be born onto a damaged planet.
E. Swanson

As for the situation regarding sea-ice, the Arctic has seen a dramatic decline at the end of the yearly melt season.

Black_dog Perhaps it is too complex to communicate it to a public with little or no background in Science and Chemistry but the starkest proof for me about the all too real consequences of global climate Change are the undeniable properties of water:

Of all of the naturally occurring substances on Earth, water is the only one that appears in all 3 forms: Solid, Liquid and Gas. The specific heat capacity of water is 4.184 J/g degrees C, which is almost 10 times that of iron.

The properties of water are what keep the coast of So CA a comfortable 72 degrees in summer while it's 115 degrees in Vegas. Why can't people see the simple example of a glass of ice water staying cold until the last of the ice melts and then warming quickly? What do they think will occur when the ice caps melt?

Perhaps it's like a child that has to put his finger in the light socket. Theoretical instruction isn't going to do the trick!


Nature just published a paper on the effect of gravity on sea level rise. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet, through it's mass, has a gravitational pull that has created a bulge of water in the region. When this melts (and it is, quicker than any imagined), this water will also enter the equation, and North America will get an additional .5 meter raise in water level. It does not matter that some of this ice is on water, as it is the gravitational pull that is the issue.

It does not matter that some of this ice is on water, as it is the gravitational pull that is the issue.

How does that work? The gravity of floating ice wouldn't be any greater than the water displaced, even if the net direction of the force was inclined up slightly due to the bit that's elevated above sea level. Just curious, I'm sure Nature peer-reviewed the daylights out of it...

There is currently a huge mass of ice concentrated around Antartica, which exerts a gravitational pull on the surrounding ocean. When that melts, the mass will spread all over the world's oceans. So instead of the ocean being higher around Antarctica and lower everywhere else, it will be more even, resulting in higher ocean levels in the northern hemisphere.

The biggest change will be due to the fact that there's more water in the ocean. But the change in gravitational pull would add bit more to the sea level rise.

I was confused by the claims about the gravitation effects of the water mass. IMO the change in the earths rotation axis (moving the pole by about a half a KM IIRC, was the real culprit. That would redistribute water, raising it in some places and lowering it in other. In any case the loss of the West Antarctic Ice sheet would almost certainly take centuries, so it isn't an immediate threat.

This in addition to the 5 meter rise from the melting ice.
For a full audio explanation, google The Naked Scientist (a Nature Podcast), and download the current podcast. If you use Itunes, just set it up there.

Joe - To avoid the CC/AGW controversy I use often water and oceans instead of climate to express the urgency.

It amazes me that people think they can simply stick their finger in their mouth (or somewhere else), pull it out, hold it up and then expound their beliefs on global warming.

Oceans Warming Faster Than Realized


Ocean Acidification: Another Undesired Side Effect Of Fossil Fuel-burning


Global Water Study Finds Fresh Water Supplies Dwindling


Ocean Acidification: Another Undesired Side Effect Of Fossil Fuel-burning

Most of the 'we ain't warming' never have an answer to this one.

Why can't people see the simple example of a glass of ice water staying cold until the last of the ice melts and then warming quickly? What do they think will occur when the ice caps melt?

The ocean is not like a glass of water with some ice floating in it. It is more more like a large pond only inches deep, with some ice on one end. The transfer of heat from one end of the pond to the other is pretty poor. So the loss of sea ice at the pole won't directly affect the ocean thousans of milesaway. It will probably effect the atmospheric, and ocean circulation, with difficult to predict (model) effects, but that is different from the ocean suddenly heating up once the last ice is gone. In any case, what climatologists mean by Arctic sea ice may soon vanish, is that for a brief period at the end of the summer melt season it will vanish. Winter sea ice is expected to be around for many decades longer than the summer ice.

Joe, I like your common-sense example. Many more of those are needed to dispel the gobbley-gook science-speak. When they made public the expected melting rates of the Arctic region glaciers with the IPPC report, I thought, "Boy, those people have never watched ice melt in the Spring."

Once there is liquid on the ice, it accelerates. I forget the thermodynamics between the states, but you don't need a weather man to know which way the wind blows. I'll be able to fill y'all in later this Spring as our snow and ice melts here in northern BC. When it goes, it goes fast (that's engineer talk).

Black Dog - Hansen wrote an article in the Washington Post in the 70's claiming that an Ice Age was imminent (theory: particulates from things like autos was deflecting sunlight). Was he a scientist then? Is he a scientist now?

If so then he was right then and he is right now.

If we removed the particulates now we could get even higher temps.

All explained in a great MIT lecture linked a week or so ago.


Thank you ccpo. Mr. jblunt, please don't make claims you can't back up w/ citations (and conventional wisdom doesn't count).

The seasonally corrected level of CO2 for Hawaii was 386.66 Jan09.


Thank you. And Late Spring is always the
worst for CO2 ppm in the N Hemi.

BTW, why do we have to work so hard at this
while the billionaire MSM sits on their collective
fat asses talking about the 8 baby invitro
jobless mommy?

Could the juxtaposition be any greater?

Actually Nate Hagens has a post on that subject that he put up yesterday. Maybe Nate and theOildrum have finally arrived.

Up top: "Cycling Enters the Electronic Age With a New Gear-Shifting System"

About ten years ago, I think, Shimano came out with a group of shifters called "Airlines" mostly aimed at the downhill racing crowd. A canister with a bicycle tire valve on it could be pumped with air and little paddles on the handle bar controlled the shifts. Cool system but OMFG $$$$$$$$$! It uh, didn't last. I suspect the same from this. Might get some converts for racers and people with far too much money burning a hole in their pocket, but I don't expect it to be very wide spread. The problem with these types of things is generally as they wear, they become unbearably crappy. With regular shifters you can fiddle with them and still get the gear you want (I'm in the practice of "overshifting" my bikes to get a faster chain pickup). With something like this, you take whatever it gets you. Something I would like to try, however, is that "NuVinci" hub: http://www.fallbrooktech.com/08_Bicycle.asp A wee bit on the pricey side itself, being about as much as a decent bike by itself, but promising.

Might get some converts for racers and people with far too much money burning a hole in their pocket, but I don't expect it to be very wide spread.

I suspect the target market is more towards the casual riders. These are the ones who don't know when -or how to shift. Kinda like the, "I waited too long to downshift before the steep hill, now I can't shift it under load". This is probably more about minimal education and maintanence than fancy tech.

The other difference is the lack of the macho factor, I know I have done this portion of the hill in gear X, I would be a whimp to use X-1 today!

enemy of state,

I wanted to take this opportunity to pick back up on our conversation of the other day.

The ideology in which Geithner and Summers are steeped can be encapsulated in a saying that became popular some years back, which is this: “Greed is good.” If we accept that slogan and the philosophy that underpins it, then it follows that the things that Dick Fuld, Angelo Mazilo, Stan O’Neil, Jimmy Cayne and other titans of finance did over the past few years really weren’t that bad. After all, they were merely doing what the philosophy they embrace dictates—maximizing their own self-interest while casting all moral considerations to the wind.

So where did this ideology come from? What does it entail?

In the conference of scholars and scientists I referred to the other day was another presenter, an economist who teaches at UC Davis by the name of Gregory Clark. Clark gives a lecture in which he does a wonderfully thorough job of setting out the origins of classical and neoclassical economics, and what the key elements of those ideologies are:


And, as he shows, they clearly have some validity. After all, it was in northern England where the astronomical productivity increases began and not some other place or cultural setting. So it seems clear that the embrace of classical economic ideology played a significant role in bringing about the huge increases in productivity output that have been experienced over the past two centuries.

But neoclassical theory is now undeniably showing signs of failure. Why is this so? I attribute it to two principle deficiencies of the ideology.

First, it lacks morality. As David Sloan Wilson pointed out at that same conference, classical economics did not totally eschew morality. But neoclassical economics does. He makes the argument that this is not only morally reprehensible to many people, but bad science as well.

For additional discussion and background on some of the points Wilson raises, Darwininan provided a link the other day with a superb explanation of why the extreme individualism--the “me-only”, “screw the community or group and everything else” mentality espoused by neoclassical economics, is bad science. See the discussion beginning on page 130 entitled “The Problems of Altruism and Cooperation:”

So-called altruistic acts, such as sharing food or putting oneself at risk by crying out to warn others of an approaching predator, would appear to reduce the ultimate reproductive success of the altruistic donor while increasing that of its recipients and genetic competitors. Yet these and other apparently altruistic behaviors are commonly observed among animals.


The other major deficiency of neoclassical economics is that it is completely devoid of any element or acknowledgement of providence. This is what is alluded to here by the theologian Reinhold Neibuhr:

For, from the late Puritans to the present day we have variously attributed American prosperity to our superior diligence, our greater skill of (more recently) to our more fervent devotion to the ideals of freedom. We thereby have complicated our spiritual problem for the days of adversity which we are bound to experience. We have forgotten to what degree the wealth of our natural resources and the fortuitous circumstance that we conquered a continent just when the advancemnt of technics made it possible to oranize that continent into a single political and economic unit, lay at the foundation of our prosperity.

--Reinhold Neibuhr, The Irony of American History

Note that while Neibuhr stresses “the wealth of our natural resources,” he doesn’t make the mistake of omitting the role played by “advancement of technics.”

Contrast this to Clark’s lecture, where he makes absolutely no mention of “the welath of our natural resources” (including any mention of energy resources) , as if these played no role whatsoever in our phenomenal increase in economic output. The subtext here of course is this: “We are so rich because we are so good.” Our opulence is a product of our own will and our own actions, and had nothing to do with our lavish inheritance of natural resources.

So if we look at the arguments that currently emanate from the finance industry, from its apologists and defenders such as Geithner and Summers, I think we will see that they fall into two broad categories:

1) The exculpation and perpetuation of a credo that holds that the individual and the maximization of immediate, personal self-interest trumps all, including community, group, the environment or anything else, and;

2) A belief that they did it all, that their individual success is attributable to their own efforts and their efforts alone, and that a lavish inheritance of natural or human resources had nothing to do with it.

These, after all, are the cornerstones of our regnant economic paradigm: neoclassical economics.

Funny I was about to respond to the same thread as well. The problem is that economics is a social science, all of which try to explain phenomenon that probably will never be completely explainable, and will never be able to show the best course of action in the future.

I'm currently taking a sociology class, and I can attest that economics sounds far more like a science than sociology. And how about psychology? I'd put Keynes' or Milton Friedman's record against somebody like Freud's record in terms of what turned out to be more accurate with decades of hindsight.

Thanks for plugging away at it DownSouth.

I for one know that I am more than my biology and have always tried to call BS when others atempt to rationalise imoral and unethical acts by stating "thats just how we are".


I think the "greed is good" arose from Adam Smith. His genius was noting that we didn't have to fight human greed in order to provide social good, but rather to set up the system so that people automatically provide for the public good when they pursue their own selfish motives. I think that is still a useful strategy. Clearly that should not be read as any goes, but rather that we should pay attention to structuring the dynamics of the system, such that it channels human behavior towards useful social ends. I agree with Neibuhr (which I am slogging through), that Americans have mistaken their good fortune to mean that they are uniquely worthy and therefore more deserving than others.

I also think that the rules that "optimize" economic performance may have to be occasionally revisited. As for example when we transition from a time of easy growth fueled primarily by expanding the use of primary resources, to a period where the limitations of those resources are painfully apparent.

Regarding Summers and Geithner. I think it is better to not assume they have taken their current positions in order to rapaciously expand their personal wealth. Even if they had some moral failings in the past, giving them a chance to rise beyond their past mistakes can often pay off. That doesn't mean, they shouldn't be monitored, just that we give them enough respect to be able to do good, if that is indeed their motive. As to Summer's, the little I know of him, his problem is not a moral failing, but a difficulting with managing human relationships. Such a weakness does not necessarily imply he can't exceed at an intellectual challenge, just that he shouldn't be managing people. I think the current economic meltdown is such a situation. If I were the coach, in this game I would use the players most likely to positively effect the outcome of the game, not those with the highest moral calibur (I'd save that for the regular non-crucial games).

I think it is better to not assume they have taken their current positions in order to rapaciously expand their personal wealth. Even if they had some moral failings in the past, giving them a chance to rise beyond their past mistakes can often pay off. That doesn't mean, they shouldn't be monitored, just that we give them enough respect to be able to do good, if that is indeed their motive.

Sutton's law seems appropriate here --"why do you rob banks? Because that's where the money is."

I certainly hope you are right, EOS, because like it or not, that's who is in charge. One hopes that whoever is "monitoring" them and setting up the "system" (Congress? President Obama?) has the public good in their goals. Doesn't look promising, I would say.

Doesn't look promising, I would say.

I would think it would be slightly more promising if we could say to them "we trust that you are good upstanding citizens who took the job because you want to do great things for the people". Of course the monitoring still needs to be done -but hopefully it doesn't need to be in their faces.

What a joke-in their faces? A lot of these guys should be doing hard time (which is the only way to ever get control of this mess).

Agreed. Expecting them to turn into upstanding citizens is like a battered spouse going up back to her abuser, hoping that if she really loves him, he'll stop beating her.

Doesn't look promising, I would say.

Unfortunately I have to agree.

Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism gave it to Obama with both barrels today and yesterday:

Obama to Neuter Bank Pay Restrictions

In case you think my headline is too harsh, consider the one at Bloomberg: "Obama to Work on Executive Pay Limits After Industry Complaints." So in case you were laboring under the delusion that widespread managerial failure among the nations' top banks, to the point of being dependent on taxpayer provided drip-feeds among the nation's top banks, would lead most thinking people to show those officers the door. Remember, these companies have been looted...



Another Sign That Volcker is Marginalized (And a Preview of His Program)

Last week. Bloomberg reported that Volcker, who many regard as the best asset on Obama's economics team, is sorely underutilized:

Paul Volcker has grown increasingly frustrated over delays in setting up the economic advisory group President Barack Obama picked the former Federal Reserve chairman to lead...

Volcker, 81, blames Obama’s National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers for slowing down the effort to organize the panel of outside advisers....Summers isn’t regularly inviting Volcker to White House meetings and hasn’t shown interest in collaborating on policy or sharing potential solutions to the economic crisis,

The usual denials ensued. But a story that corroborates this picture comes from the Globe and Mail, courtesy reader Marshall. Volcker is very much in favor where bank do the bulk of credit intermediation and focus on traditional lending. Effectively, he is calling for the re-imposition of Glass Steagall, the Depression-era legislation that separated commercial banking from investment banking. As we discuss below, this is a radical idea and is at odds with the program Geithner announced earlier this week:


Meanwhile, after raking Obama over the coals pretty good last week, Frank Rich is cutting him some slack this weekend:

They Sure Showed That Obama

Less than a month into Obama’s term, we don’t (and can’t) know how he’ll fare as president. The compromised stimulus package, while hardly garbage, may well be inadequate. Timothy Geithner’s uninspiring and opaque stab at a bank rescue is at best a place holder and at worst a rearrangement of the deck chairs on the TARP-Titanic, where he served as Hank Paulson’s first mate.


Clearly that should not be read as any goes, but rather that we should pay attention to structuring the dynamics of the system, such that it channels human behavior towards useful social ends.

I want to emphasize that one of the points that David Sloan Wilson and many others have stressed is that neoclassism is not the classicism of Adam Smith. Smith (classical economics) acknowledged some moral limitations on selfishness:

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

--Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments

Neoclassical economic thought, however, has purged any such ambiguities from its dogma. Greed and selfishness are untethered from any moral restraints whatsoever.

Neoclassical economic thought, however, has purged any such ambiguities from its dogma. Greed and selfishness are untethered from any moral restraints whatsoever.

Agreed on that. The Neo's took one of the fundamentals (i.e. a partial part of the theory), and elevated into a foundational dogma.

I think where the neoclassicists went really wrong, was the part about cleverly designing the system to harnest greed for the public good. This was distorted into cleverly designing the system to maximize the gains of the most greedy. Most people would consider this to be getting the most fundamental part of the method backwards.

"Contrast this to Clark’s lecture, where he makes absolutely no mention of “the wealth of our natural resources” (including any mention of energy resources), as if these played no role whatsoever in our phenomenal increase in economic output."

200+ years of slavery including at least 50+ more than any other competing Western society didn't hurt either! Put us in a pretty strong position...

From Enemy of State re. the battery-powered bike gear shifters:

Might get some converts for racers and people with far too much money burning a hole in their pocket, but I don't expect it to be very wide spread.

I suspect the target market is more towards the casual riders. These are the ones who don't know when -or how to shift. Kinda like the, "I waited too long to downshift before the steep hill, now I can't shift it under load". This is probably more about minimal education and maintenance than fancy tech.

The other difference is the lack of the macho factor, I know I have done this portion of the hill in gear X, I would be a whimp to use X-1 today!

EoS, if you actually read the article you would know it has nothing to do with automating the timing of gear shifting, or with gear choice. It simply increases the speed and reduces the effort of shifting. And that's why several professional teams are using it, because it gives them an edge in professional races, where a small advantage can make the difference between winning and losing.

It also (apparently) will fine-adjust the positioning of the front derailleur in response to shifts on the rear derailleur - something that we all did before index-shifting took off, and then became universal. With index shifting there's no capability to fine-tune the front-derailleur position.

That said, you will never see such a system on my bicycle (built on a Univega frame found in the woods in 1993). After disassembling it I never put a front derailleur back on it. Second, if your battery fails you're dead, you can't shift gears, there is no manual override. Not good when you're in the mountains of Vermont.

Dick Lawrence

EOS, I don't think it's for casual riders. Price tag given in the article was $4,000


What's price got to do with anything, as an example I am an avid kayaker and do not own the most expensive gear on the market.

However I have met more than a few folks who rarely if ever actually get out on the water but think nothing of dropping 5K on a Yak and accessories. I was in Kayak store that belongs to an acquaintance of mine recently when someone walked in and asked to see the most expensive boat in the store and he readily admitted that he had never kayaked before... he was quite offended when the helpful staff suggested he spend a whole lot less on an entry level but very nice kayak that would have set him back about half the amount of the other boat. People can be very strange.

People can be very strange.

I think it has something to do with following our dreams. Activity X would be really great to do. But, I've never done it, and don't have the time for a gradual introduction. I will get plenty of satisfaction staring at my fancy new toy, long before I get to try it out. I want that tryout to be perfect. Wouldn't want second rate equipment to spoil it would I.

I have had to check my impulses to do that several times. If it was a low cost activity, I'll just let the impulse win.

I think it's because they're afraid they'll regret not buying the best they could afford, and will have to shell out to upgrade in a few months. Buying the highest quality you can afford is not a bad idea, if you're sure it's something you're really interested in. The problem is when people lose interest. Though I suppose high-end items might hold their resale value better.

I know I wish I spent more when I first got into photography. I bought highly recommended entry-level lenses, but soon realized that they weren't good enough. I outgrew them quickly, and ended up buying better ones in only a few months. I'd have been better off buying the high-end ones immediately.

Here in WKY we are at day 20 of the Ice Storm.

I got power yesterday. I think it was due to my being on the same line as a neighbor who has quite a bit of need to be online. Others nearby are still waiting.

I have one really big 'takeaway' from this experience, well two actually.

1. Without a grid supplying you with electricity and you having no alternative means of such,,you will die off. You must have a lot of wood available in some form, some means of good transport,a way to grow the quantities of food needed. The list can go on but most is built on the 'scaffold of electricity'. Period.

When darkness comes then comes chaos. If you have no means of producing light then the darkness and what is in it rules totally.
Without means of preparing food you are in deep kaka. Water is the same. Very deep kaka.

2. Do not depend on some outside entity to come to your rescue. They may come somewhat later in the game but it might be too late. The National Guard came here and they might as well have stayed home. They did nothing. FEMA had no footprint. They just divey out the funds if pressed very hard. First responders react initially very very slow. They greatly need an infrastructure of their own to survive and operate. Take that away and there are NO responders.

I am still driving over many downed power lines laying across the roads. Line crews started leaving en masse three days ago. About 3,000 poles have been replaced in just my small area(say 15 mile radius),,my guess but based on hearsay.

One long line containing a three phase line and not that awful long was being priced at a cost of 9 Million I was told. The off site linesman I believe receive very good wages for this work. My hat is off to them for they performed very well. As did offsite church groups.

So at these costs then how much is the total cost for the rebuilding of our state? Multiple millions I would gues..yet Ky like others is in a world of hurt with its budget shortfall. Close to a half billion according to news. Such that they are increasing a lot of taxes.

These tax increases are really pissing people off around here.

There is a lot of very bad anger and hate for those who sit in areas of responsibilty and perform very badly overall. White hot anger I might add.

When you have to go to the woods at night in 5 degree above weather to perform you toilet duties its easy to see why people would be rather angry. Its not a fun thing to do. No lights. Freezing cold. Lucky if you have toilet paper. Then try washing your underwear with water you pack in from someone who can get it out of the ground someway. Your refrigerator smells like an open crypt. You eat dry crackers and whatever you have in cans.

I know Katrina was bad. I know IKE as bad. I now know bad , up close and personal. Some are still 2 weeks from power up.

Bad is coming our way...big time, for all of us , IMO.

Airdale-I will be more prepared next time. I was not this time due to some events beyond my control.

My area is mostly rural and is full of very productive farms...

And 99% of them will become "stranded assets" soon.

The joke will be on the city refugees who make it this far (about a tank of gas from several major metro areas).

They will find most of the locals are starving, their giant dairy and produce farms useless.

I love Mother Nature, she's such a jokester.

Glad to hear you got power restored in your area. It has been quite a mess.
Getting fresh water is a very serious issue. Deep wells rely on power to pump the water.
Those fortunate enough to have generators for back up power do well until they run out of
fuel and can't get any more because the gas stations are closed because they don't have
power to pump the gas. In some cases gas stations that had back up power to run the gas pumps
had to close because they had no more fuel because they didn't get their scheduled deliveries
because the delivery company didn't have power to fill the trucks because.......

These interuptions were mostly an incnvenience this time but next time? The time after that?
At some point the system breaks down and can no longer be fixed.

Hey man,

No we still don't have full power restored here yet. I haven't been over your way as yet so didn't know how bad you all were hit.

Its coming up very slowly and based on how close you are to the stepdown transformers that supply the line voltages to the individual residences transformers. Those close get power sooner. Those way off on a spur will be last.

I was near a responder who pulled some strings I think. Plus a wife in a very bad way. His wife,,not mine. I still live the single guy's style and I must say I enjoy it very much.

This idea of a man sans his wife and children being very lonely is a crock IMO. I can do exactly what I wish. No one else to holler at me and have to take care of.

Hope your ok. We gotta go get some good fish after this or bbq.
I will buy.

Airdale-missed you on TOD of late

Airdale, good to see you back up and running. Mulhenberg county got nailed very badly, but thats the next county over north from me. Electricty power is most paramount. wood will keep you warm, but one needs alot of it. and i mean a lot!!

like the boyscout motto: be prepared.

nonetheless, good to see you back!


That really good Muhlenberg County cured ham and bacon helped me thru the event. Cured pork will last easily without refrigeration.

Got some of the hock going now in a pot of beans on the stove.

I hear Hopkins County got really badly hurt.


“Law of Doomsaying”: Predict catastrophe no sooner than five years hence but no later than 10 years away, soon enough to terrify but distant enough that people will forget if you are wrong.

George Will has been able to parley a bow-tie, peach-fuzz (I bet he shaves with a warm wash cloth)and white-bread all American values (he wrote a best selling book about Baseball)into a ridiculously profitable career. Yet Will's most striking contribution is that he has blurred the line between independent journalist and political advocate. With the Republican party trying desperately to make a comeback they need to go back to the conservative stand-by of denying Climate Change and calling science hysteria.

I shake my head when I see a guy like Will, who doesn't know the right end of a hammer, getting traction attacking Steven Chu, a bona-fide Scientist, who learned an actual discipline. Political Science (will's specialty) is not actually a science...an art form is more correct. Political Science should be renamed Persuasion 101 and then promptly be relegated to a subset in a university's Communications and Media Dept.

On top of that Will is an unrepentant liar:

In a Washington Post column on June 5, 2008, Will stated that "Drilling is underway 60 miles (97 km) off Florida. The drilling is being done by China, in cooperation with Cuba, which is drilling closer to South Florida than U.S. companies are." This statement is false. It was later quoted and subsequently withdrawn by Dick Cheney after Congressional Democrats, backed by energy experts, pointed out the error. House Leader John Boehner also cited the incorrect statement: "Right at this moment some 60 miles (97 km) or less off the coast of Key West, Fla., China has the green light to drill for oil.

I believe that in order to comment on climate change or AGW you should as a minimum have satisfactorily completed one year of College Chemistry. That will keep a lot of blowhard slackers on the sideline.

Rant Off


Dear Joe,
Your entry requirements for CC/AGW commentary are quite interesting. Of course it would knock off that other well known blow hard slacker Al Gore off the podium.

I think you will see increasing amounts of dissent this year: and a good thing too

False analogy. Al Gore represents the consensus scientific opinion. To critique the consensus, one must understand it, which Mr. Will obviously has made no attempt to do.

Dear Barrett808
I have no particular axe to grind for or against Mr. Will, of whom I had never heard of until this day. However, I would like to point out that 'consensus' is definitely not science and science is definitely not consensus. As for the critiques - which are now coming in from all sides, I further suggest that the 'consensus' is in fact peeling away, albeit slowly. I would suggest that Mr. Will's little piece would not have even made it onto a drumbeat posting only a mere six months ago :-) , but of course, I could be wrong.

Did any of you here read the article by Dr Pope of the met office? It was posted last week on the Guardian of all places. In the article she stated that the outrageous claims of destruction and doom of the extreme AGW types was not helpful or based on science and was in fact damaging the study of CC. I suspect there will be a minor civil war in the Met Office and this was, possibly the first shot. The Met Office was / (still is?) a great proponent of the AGW theory. Perhaps, after the September 25th prediction of a 'warmer than usual winter', saner heads are finally prevailing.

However, the BBC still continues its hysterical output - in defiance of Pope's rejoinder for calmer, more balanced predictions and continues to repeat the Warming Hysteria of an American plant scientist. Unfortunately the scientifically illiterate reporter decided that 'negative feedback' looked better than 'positive feedback' because , well positive is nice isn't it?....


How does one get as dishonest as you are?

1. Pope was not decrying AGW, as you not-so-slyly attempt to imply, but decried what *she* considers (and note it is a personal, not scientific, opinion) too much emphasis on extreme future changes. It should be glaringly obvious that Pope has no more insight into the future than anybody else. And is dead wrong, imo (and many of her fellow scientists' opinions), in any case.

2. It HAS been a warmer than usual winter. And in the place it most matters: the Arctic. REally, who gives a damn if the *weather* in England is colder this winter than last (other than a propagandist)?

The snowy winter in England actually correlates with one of the other AGW predictions: reduction or complete stoppage of the "gulf stream" branch of THC.

(AGW also predicts a cooling in the stratosphere: heat is retained in the troposphere by greenhouse gases)

Here's the UK average temperature data as used by National Grid in evaluating electrical demand

As you can see we're still having a winter just a little below the expected average on the whole. That was about a 30% probability in the original Met Office winter forecast. Not the press release which I agree was moronically worded.

The consensus is straightforward thermodynamics. Before humans burned the coal and petroleum, Earth was in radiative equilibrium with space.

Humans abruptly added 500 gigatons of carbon to the atmosphere in the form of “heat-trapping” gases. Earth is now is radiative disequilibrium with space. For Earth to return to equilibrium, the atmosphere must warm. There is ample evidence that abrupt warming is very bad for the biosphere.

How can I be any more clear?

Gore took college chemistry classes. He wasn't exactly brilliant in them, but he did take them.

Dear Leanan,
Did he pass them? My understanding is that he took a few weeks of climate science and then went back to English. Of course, I could be wrong.

Of course it would knock off that other well known blow hard slacker Al Gore off the podium.

1. Lacking in logic, as Barrett noted.

2. Lying as Leanan noted.

3. Pointless obfuscation, too boot.

Three strikes, you're out!

I think you will see increasing amounts of dissent this year: and a good thing too

You've been saying this for a while. Since this cannot be based on scientific research because the flood of research supporting AGW is getting so fast it's hard to keep up. On the other hand, the trickle of research supporting anti-AGW is not even a trickle. There just isn't any.

One wonders what it is that leads to your conclusion. If it is not based in science, it must based either in delusion or collusion. Given that I believe you to be a bought-and-paid-for propagandist, I go with the second notion.

Let's look at this logically.

1. There is zero reason to expect a surge in anti-AGW rhetoric, yet you predict it.
2. There is a rush of new science totally refuting your stance - much of it likely due to the nexus of International Polar Year, the large melts over the last four years and the IPCC report in '07 - yet you keep up this mantra. Doesn't compute unless you add in an organized propaganda campaign.
3. You keep repeating this while offering nothing to support it.

Sounds like propaganda to me.

Or, perhaps I should just leave you with the FACT that you and your ilk's foolish crowing about the ice matching 1979 has been obliterated by further reality: trend now well below the '06-'07 record in the Arctic and below the baseline in the Antarctic.



I think you are what Lenin meant when he coined the phrase 'Useful Idiot'. You should widen your reading of the subject.(actually, you could probably do with just getting out more). If you like, I can make some suggestions for you, or would that just be a case of 'casting pearls before swine'?

You are developing nicely. The personal attacks are getting sharper. Welcome to the real you.

Anyone else made a little queasy that the entire middle stretch of the Arctic Ocean isn't 100% ice so close to the maximum extent? the next four weeks should be interesting.

Then, again, I didn't check this against previous years, so maybe it's normal.


I think it's a little deceptive how they use the color blue for 90% ice. It makes it look like there is lots of open water.

Huh? You can read a graph, no? And given water generally looks blue, I really don't get the critique. All the more so since they have three other modes to present the data in, which you choose yourself.

Deceptive? Criminy....

There is zero reason to expect a surge in anti-AGW rhetoric, yet you predict it.

I expect there will be a surge in such rhetoric. For the simple reason that crunch time with respect to determining if we are going to do anything about is here. The forces who oppose action to stop AGW are desperate, and I don't expect them to hold any stops. (I egree with your other points).

Good point. What I meant to make clear is that there is zero *scientific data* supporting any upsurge in anti-ACC/AGW rhetoric.


Yep. And he has a great track record too:

In a recent spiel, he (Will) wrote a hawkish piece of nonsense, entitled, "What Makes the U.N. Legitimate?" The article advocated, even before any White House policy announcement, a "preemptive" U.S. strike against Iraq. The UN was described by him as a "tar baby" to be avoided at all cost , and the few hearty Democrats, who weren't jumping fast enough on the War Band Wagon, were branded as Jeffersonian partisans, lacking vision, and "anti-nationalist."


What boggles the mind is how a guy like Will, who has been so consistently and repeatedly wrong on major policy decisions in the past, can even get an audience, much less a forum to spout his blathering nonsense.

George Will gets his forum because of who owns the forum not because he what he says is anywhere near being independently confirmed. He may actually believe what he writes. He actually believes that the GOP is the party of fiscal responsibility even though the only balanced budgets since the 1920s occurred under Bill Clinton.

G Will seems to understand the position of the Republican Party congresscritters who insisted upon ONLY tax cuts as the entire financial bailout package. Mostly, a group of folks who would have of understood what Marie Antoinette meant when she said let them eat cake, thinking that was a reasonable solution to the problem at hand. In each case, it turned out differently.

Political Science = civics for adults. (with all due respect for Prof. Goose!)

The Japanese wonder why we're fooling around with half-measures:

In Japan’s Stagnant Decade, Cautionary Tales for America

The Japanese have been here before. They endured a “lost decade” of economic stagnation in the 1990s as their banks labored under crippling debt, and successive governments wasted trillions of yen on half-measures.

Only in 2003 did the government finally take the actions that helped lead to a recovery: forcing major banks to submit to merciless audits and declare bad debts; spending two trillion yen to effectively nationalize a major bank, wiping out its shareholders; and allowing weaker banks to fail.

By then, Tokyo’s main Nikkei stock index had lost almost three-quarters of its value. The country’s public debt had grown to exceed its gross domestic product, and deflation stalked the land. In the end, real estate prices fell for 15 consecutive years.

But I wonder if nationalizing the banks will be enough. It's a different world now:

Rise in Jobless Poses Threat to Stability Worldwide

Worldwide job losses from the recession that started in the United States in December 2007 could hit a staggering 50 million by the end of 2009, according to the International Labor Organization, a United Nations agency. The slowdown has already claimed 3.6 million American jobs.

High unemployment rates, especially among young workers, have led to protests in countries as varied as Latvia, Chile, Greece, Bulgaria and Iceland and contributed to strikes in Britain and France.

But some people are lucking out:

Failed Banks Pose Test for Regulators

DebtX of Boston and First Financial Network of Oklahoma City, for instance, sell loans at auction to investors who typically pay 5 cents to 85 cents for each dollar of outstanding principal, according to Bliss A, Morris, First Financial’s president. It is unloading hundreds of houses across the country at bargain basement prices. In November, Lula Smith, 86, of Kansas City, Mo., bought a two-bedroom house across the street from her home for $4,000, one-tenth of its value two years ago.

It seems to me that a lost decade is just what the doctor ordered as Peak Oil kicks in. It would facilitate adjustment to declining oil supplies.

It's not a lost decade I mind so much, as the trillions of dollars of taxpayers' money wasted.

The Automatic Earth folks said that they were basically embarrassed to be on the same side of the stimulus debate as conservative Republicans. In any case, GOP Senator Tom Coburn reportedly put it something like this:

Never have so few spent so much, in such a short time, for so few results.

Never have so few spent so much, in such a short time, for so few results.

And God, that's what really burns. All of the BTU's burned, the forests cut, the land and water polluted, paved, mined, the human effort...and where did it go? Into creating a legacy of energy hungry McMansions, SUV's and other chrome penises, expanding suburbia, consumer products which will quickly find their way to a landfill, a clusterfuck of a financial and political system...all the effort went towards locking in future demise on pretty much every front imaginable.

Can you imagine a world where the last eight years and trillions of dollars and energy went towards creating a less energy dependent future? The past thirty?

Actually no, I can't imagine that, because it's so alien compared to the world we live in.

The ink is barely dry on the paperwork sent to the White House and this guy is already bemoaning the lack of results. If the GOP cares so much about the taxpayers then they should try to block any of this money being spent in their districts. Why is that spending that drives up the debt is bad but tax cuts which drive up debt are good?

Who are "the taxpayers" that you refer to who's money was wasted? Have your taxes gone up, or those of anybody you know? After rebates, earned income credits, child care credits, less than one half of adults pay income taxes. And you have pointed out that the rest got tax cuts from Bush. Is Obama going to raise taxes? The trillions from the Fed has just been increasing the size of the Fed's balance sheet. Are you speaking past tense or future tense? Of course, anything future tense would just be your guess. And, you are claiming to be a prophet? Wall Street, Americans, the World collectively could not forsee the financial future, but you claim to now be able to see the financial future? Please do not concern yourself about my taxes being wasted - I do not think that they will be going up, even though I am in the 1/2 that actually does pay income taxes (and do not qualify for any rebates, including last year's special refund).

Who are "the taxpayers" that you refer to who's money was wasted?

Airdale's stick is to play folkisy and when confronted with facts that challenge his position he tells people they are wrong or just know how to search google.

From: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/5105#comment-471638

Your replying to someone else's post in which I was not mentioned.

So you are going to be twisting my tail again? Thought you had given that up.

Do you wish to start a fight here on TOD? Just skip over my posts if they bother you and I won't start with the wordplay and namecalling.

And BTW its not often that I tell someone they are wrong. I might question but you will NEVER hear me ask for 'sourcing' which is your mantra and not mine.

If you wish to jab at me please do it as a response to one of my posts. And then I can refuse to rise to your bait.

Is it that your bored and nothing to do? Go google some more.

C'mon, Airdale, you've done the same to me, and with less reason.

I don't really give a damn, just sayin'... Goose, gander and all that...


Obama has already raised taxes. perhaps not on every american, only those that buy tobacco products. When he signed the State Childrens Health Program bill, on 04 Feb09.


However, the $38 billion cost will be picked from tobacco sales. 65 cents a pack increase. so, when then money drys up from tobacco sales, it will be picked up from another tax somewhere else.

The "trillions" aren't wasted. Just re-appropriated. Our masters think they need those dollars more than we do. And what is more, they have the power to enforce their ideas.

r.e. It's not a lost decade I mind so much, as the trillions of dollars of taxpayers' money wasted.

Dont worry, the taxpayers arent going to be paying this money back. Its waaaay to big to repay with tax revenues. If you have some treasuries or any assets denominated in US$, then maybe you should be worried.

So what happens in your view then ? Gov. default, war or something else - what ?

my best guess. hyperinflation, perhaps something like Mexico or Argentina have experienced. 10% to 20% yearly inflation of anything imported or with a petroleum content, but less inflation of wages and pensions. Wealth continuing to flow to the richest 1% and everyone else helplessly in debt. None of these things will happen linearly, there will be wild fluctuations in prices of everything; real estate commodities, foreign exchange. These wild fluctuations will catch everyone off gaurd including the goverment, the bankers, energy companies.

x - Like an iceberg in the water with only a fraction of it's mass peeking above the surface Peak Oil is being obscured by falling demand. Oil producing countries can't long afford to keep production low as their oil-dependent economies crumble.

Have you noticed how quickly peak oil was cast into the radical fringe as soon as gas prices fell. Even with gas being cheap a collapsing economy will reduce oil consumption in a hurry. But don't expect people to make the connection.


But the real issue is that no one is yet ready to take on the deeper underlying problem - the political power structure of modern finance. While this structure is a particular problem - and particularly obvious right now - in the US, all industrialized countries today share some version of the same problem. We supersized our banking systems, allowed them to load up on risk that could threaten the macroeconomy, and gave them a mindboggling put option - in other words, the taxpayer is on the hook for a vast amount of downside. Across the industrialized (and coming soon to the industrializing world), the message from bankers is the same: give us the bailout money, or your economy will suffer.
-- Baseline Scenario

Ireland is right on the edge. Credit dealt swaps are increasing. This should be another interesting week.

Ireland isn't alone;

Failure to save East Europe will lead to worldwide meltdown

Austria's finance minister Josef Pröll made frantic efforts last week to put together a €150bn rescue for the ex-Soviet bloc. Well he might. His banks have lent €230bn to the region, equal to 70pc of Austria's GDP.

"A failure rate of 10pc would lead to the collapse of the Austrian financial sector," reported Der Standard in Vienna. Unfortunately, that is about to happen...

...Almost all East bloc debts are owed to West Europe, especially Austrian, Swedish, Greek, Italian, and Belgian banks. En plus, Europeans account for an astonishing 74pc of the entire $4.9 trillion portfolio of loans to emerging markets.

Don't they say the only difference between Ireland and Iceland is six months and one letter.

My wife came downstairs from sleeping in this morning asking why I was shouting at the TV. (think I'll just turn it off in the future)

I can't remember which pundits it was now, one of the Sunday shows on ABC, CBS, or NBC. They were saying "Well Obama can't just sit around doing NOTHING! And, he can't NATIONALIZE the banks!". And I would shout "Yeah, he needs to spend some of that bailout money hiring bankruptcy judges! Don't nationalize the banks, just make them cease to exist!" ...

(think I'll just turn it off in the future)


I was up far too late last night and read your post as "shooting at the TV." I thought to myself, he must be speaking metaphorically, right?, but couldn't see that in the language you used...

Sleep, people, is a good thing. Maybe even more so in a world spiraling down the toilet...



The Japanese wonder why we're fooling around with half-measures:

Because we have a political system with an opposition. And the opposition exploits the fact that the public doesn't understand economics. (I'm not so certain how well the economists understand it either) So we end up compromising. Mix a full measure, with a no-measure, and we end up with a half measure. One of the problems with a half measure is that the efficacy of the cure is never fully tested, so the next time the situation comes around, two sides can fight over whether the measure works at all, resulting in yet another half measure.

A seekingalpha.com post:

Bank Nationalization: It's Just Plain Wrong

It's mostly over my head, but still seems to have a lot of nothing but hot air.

I have a question for those here who are seriously into gardening for survival and composting.

I posed this question via email to Steve Solomon but no reply as yet. I just posted it a bit ago.

I have access to quantities of sawdust. Fresh sawdust. I also have access to hay. Both bales and grass clippings/pasture clippings.

I wish to find the right amounts of each as to carbon(C) and nitrogen(N) in order to produce good quality compost.

Steve has formulas for C/N for composting but I didn't see the exact values of C and N for sawdust nor hay...as to volumes of each to produce the best decomposing and eventual compost.

Anyone know?

I also intend to do the rest of my soil amendments with wood ashes.
Both ones that have been leeched for lye and straight run wood ashes. Both from hardwoods such as hickory and oak..some ash a bit of hackberry perhaps.


I would just composite it, and then add some chicken manure to get the nitrogen up, and use this a base starting point. I do a lot of raised bed gardening (I had mustard greens and kale form the garden, along with garden potatoes, wild harvested oyster mushrooms, and blue squash for dinner last night).
I live in Marin (Northern California) and can garden all year long.


Do you have anything higher in nitrogen than grass clippings, or any high nitrogen substance available in winter?

I'd go with about 1/3 sawdust, 2/3 grass clippings. That should get you a decent C/N ratio, and the sawdust will keep the clippings from matting up so badly. You might also try 25% hay, 24% sawdust and 50% grass clippings, but I'd be concerned about matting: Be sure to put plenty of water in the pile as you build it, because that much grass is going to mat up and make it very hard to get more water into the pile. And a hot pile gives off a lot of moisture. By far my biggest cause of failure once a pile gets going is drying out.

With that many browns available, I'd really try to scrounge some manure or other high nitrogen source. You can just leave the hay to rot, it will just take 2-3 times as long, but you'd be amazed at how many years a sawdust pile can last so that's where to use your green clippings.

BTW, depending on how much wood ash you have, putting that in the compost pile is a good idea too. Many people have seriously messed up their soil pH by using too much of it. The compost will buffer it. If you use it directly, keep an eye on your pH.



I mix the hay left on the barn floor, after a winter of feeding, with either goat or horse manure. Cow manure doesn't mix well and so I don't use it. I don't compost in a compost pile, I put it right into the ground and let it sit for a year. I've had the best results with goat manure but horse manure works OK. Chicken manure seems to be too hot and so I don't use it. Alfalfa leftovers are best, but grass hay works OK too. My mix seems to work with my soil, which, as I've said before, is a very silty river bottom clay. I've never checked PH, but, I figure if the veggies grow, the dirt is right.

By the way, this year I've yet to accumulate an ice pile next to my stock water and it's the first year I can remember when I didn't have a sizable pile of ice next to my stock troughs. It's been quite an unusually warm winter. We've had very little moisture this winter as well. Best from the Fremont

According to Soloman's book, sawdust is 500:1 C to N, hay is 50:1. You would not likely get any good compost from sawdust. Soloman suggests that the heap start at an average of 25:1. For my composting I use garden/kitchen waste and coffee grounds (large amounts), too much straw or leaves tend to make a pile that does not heat up well.

I also use kitchen waste, and coffee grounds make great composite. You really need to add some additional nitrogen.

Coffee grounds are already a good source of nitrogen, with a similar C:N ratio to many animal manures. Compost is not my only source of fertility in the garden, I also make up Solomon's organic fertilizer.


Sawdust makes fine compost - after you've had fungi convert the complex carbs into protein. Oyster mushrooms are the common form.

Anyone know?

Yes, but you won't listen to me. So I'll send you to my teachers.

Frank Teuton Frank Teuton frank.teuton who's mail is gotten at SYMPATICO.CA or Jerry Guinn jguinn3 who's mail is gotten at peoplepc.com would give you the best answers of the ppl I know. If you go too hot, so long as you have with airation via either Mr. Guinn's rotating bin or via http://www.magicsoil.com/MSREV2/foreced_aeration.htm

I have often wondered if forced aeration composting can be combined with heat recovery ventilation to act as thermal mass / low grade heat source for a building.

In theory yes. Hot compost piles have been used for cold frames and large enough ones have been used as a way to warm water. The downside is you are cooling the pile and that has an effect.

The practice - I'm going to guess that the other chemicals, microbes and water vapor would plug up the heat recovery ventilation.

I have read somewhere that wood chips / sawdust is a nitrogen sink at first as the wood-decay microbes get started, and then as it rots it is a nitrogen source. Obviously it also releases any potash and phosphorus it may contain as it rots.

As for the wood ashes, I believe it takes a while for the pH to come down to where it is a useful source of minerals. Also obviously, if it has been leeched it will have less alkali, though the leeching process is not likely to be anywhere near 100% efficient. Nitrogen will be completely absent from the wood ashes, as the burning process would return it to the atmosphere.

Are you giving any consideration to experimenting with biochar?


Well there is a lot of limbs down. I usually use wood to heat with but I have a chipper and I might get into making charcoal for forging later.

But just to burn wood and throw the resultant output on the ground seems wasteful to me. I don't mean ashes, I mean partially burned wood. Charcoal I guess.

Perhaps using a big woodgas stove might produce sufficient quantities of bio char?

I have as yet no stock to produce manure. I have a field of cows next to me but shoveling up cow piles is not real productive ASAIAC. Yet I do that to some degree.

According to Solomon making GOOD compost is not that easy and sometimes a big waste of time and labor. Yet I have the materials of sawdust and grass/hay clippings. So I wanted to use them. He says chipping wood is a big waste.

Thanks for the inputs. I will store them away.


Airdale, if you have no-dig beds then you can use the woodchips as a mulch on the surface. Worms, etc. will eventually incorporate them into the soil for you and they will suppress weeds in the meantime. You can use them around the base of fruit trees also in the same manner.

I also add them to the compost pile as a layer between other materials. In the hen house, I spread them on the floor under the roosting bars, like a composting toilet (make sure the hens can't get at it).

The key is returning it to the soil in a manner that doesn't negatively effect plant growth. So I use different methods to achieve this result. In the end it all goes back into the soil. I'm currently considering simply spreading it onto the rotational leys (I'm an Organic producer) with a seed/fertiliser spreader or some such, if it can be done.

But just to burn wood and throw the resultant output on the ground seems wasteful to me. I don't mean ashes, I mean partially burned wood. Charcoal I guess.

Then go educate yourself beyond 'fire good - must burn for heat.' As I remember you mentioning in the past drought conditions - biochar is supposed to help water retention.
biochar@yahoogroups.com is an active maillist on the topic

Perhaps using a big woodgas stove might produce sufficient quantities of bio char?

Errr No.
WoodGas@yahoogroups.com will give you all kinds of hints.

I have as yet no stock to produce manure. .... According to Solomon making GOOD compost is not that easy and sometimes a big waste of time and labor. Y

You have the material to grow earthworms and use their fecal material (called vermipost) Using worms allows them to do the mixing of the material.

http://www.wormdigest.org/ is one of the better places to find out about worms. Just avoid the Kelly Slocums and B&B's of the world.

(and you are welcome on recommending Frank and Jerry.)

re: eric blair
Yes, please go educate yourself.

Biochar is quite limited in it's benefit.

And the chances of a beneficial implementation are slim.

Blair took some shots at me up above. I hate to play tit for tat but AFAIK he likes to play googlemeister and stun everyone with his erudite comments.

Would not be so bad but he has this trait of making smartass comments within his replies.

However its news to me that biochar is 'quite limited'. I will check your links. Thanks.

I also note that William Albrecht states in one of the book on SoilandHealth.org that certain tribes used to burn a lot of wood in order to create favorable planting conditions. I think this was more due to the ash content of the piles rather than the charcoal aspects.

Very good reading BTW...this is from the 1938 USDA Ag Yearbook.

I am very interested in placing P and K in my garden via wood ashes. I have just this winter stored a 55 gal drum half full and more to go.

Airdale-yes I guess I am 'folksy'instead or 'folkisy' (whatever that is). Being folksy is not a bad term to me.

Biochar is quite limited in it's benefit.

Yet you didn't comment here when you had the chance. Any reason?



In their study, charcoal was prepared and mixed with forest soil,

Forest soil != cropland. Not quite sure how you got "quite limited" out of one study you can't even bother to link to, but whatever. (Did the study normalize for exposing the soil to O2? )

Yet these pictures and their studies show benefits for crops.

And the chances of a beneficial implementation are slim.

Really? What makes you claim that? As opposed to all the OTHER reasons man is going to destroy the environment you are going with Biochar?


Your counter argument is gorillas? The threat of hungry men with guns leading to bushmeat harvest strikes me as the big problem. But hey, if you want to use charcoal as the argument, go ahead.


Your counter argument is cooking fires?

If you have Elaine Ingram's opinion on the matter - do post that.

As things stand now, I'm in line to receive one of the early waves of "Mad Max" hungry zombies WTSHTF. I haven't actually done much gardening, but live in a house with a "dog lady" who won't pull weeds at all (though dog sh1t is all over the back yard, and I suspect it's not bad organic fertilizer after it has settled for a while) So I'm not really a gardening expert.

But several lifetimes ago, a close friend introduced me to the writings of Ruth Stout and I'm sort of an armchair student, having been born of a depression-era dad who always kept a garden, and a grandfather who subscribed to the radical communist output of the Rodale Press :-) A long story, but I have long since lost contact with the close friend.

At the present, with a chemistry degree and most of a life doing computer-y things for a living (chemistry looked dangerous and scary and I was over the pyro thing by the time I graduated), I have read about biochar here, and agree, it seemed like a waste of carbon fuel at first. At second look, it seems sort of complicated to build an autoclave or whatever and roast the biomass without using the carbon fuel.

But the articles on TOD have convinced me, if I were living in the country and growing my own food, I might try amending some of my soil with little charcoal sponges. On the third look.

From your account of life in WK, I can also see the value of a solar array and a large battery farm. (I grew up in S-In) I'd place it back off the road, so random passers-by won't notice it, but if I could afford to install such a thing, I would.

Airdale: It looks like you have a lot of information from all over the country. I might add just a bit. Each soil is different in Ph, minerals, N, moisture holding capacity, etc. so what works here won't work there. Our soil here is very base while your soil is probably more acidic.

A soil sample is fairly easy to take for a garden area. Take several small samples from various places in your garden typically about 4" deep and put them in a bucket and mix them up. This way you will have an average. Take two cups of the sample to your county agent in a small bag. While you are there pick up a handful of special sample bags. The county agent will run the sample for you (couple days) and then tell you what you should have for each type of plants that you want to grow, Some like acid, some hate it, some like lots of N, others hate it, so figure out where you are going to plant what and fertilize accordingly.

The "Gardening when it counts" book you recomended a couple days ago tells all about composting. He doesn't like wood in the mix and the Complete Organic Fertilizer (COF) he makes is very good and easy enough to make. Even though I have a furniture shop, I do not use sawdust for anything other than holding weeds down between the beds. Sawdust from some woods is very bad stuff (i.e. Cocobolo and some other exoctics) allergy wise.

If you approach Gardening just like any other complex engineering project you will end up with success (If you're Lucky). :-)

Cheers and glad to see you have the electricity back on.


I have done a lot of soil sampling using a GPS to set virtual stakes so I can perform repeatable tests. I send them all to UK here which has a very good College of Ag.

You might try WSS as a means of checking your soil types. NRCS has put this up. Quite handy. websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov

I have a friend who has an industrial grade workshop and I keep his electronic speed controls on his huge ripsaws running. He makes about 3 bobcat truck loads in a around every one or two months. I get it all free. As well as use of his 4 foot planer, straightline saw and other tools. I hauled a 1 ton 20 inch jointer over to him last summer but we have not hooked it up as yet. Three phase.

We have soil that needs amending with lime on a regular basis. It used to not be that way back when ag was farming and not a big business venture.

Solomon I think says that wood ashes will amend acidic soil.I will have to recheck.

I have been cruising downed trees for some good timber for sawing out on my chainsaw mill. Most are worthless due to the way the twisted.


Re: Biofuels may accelerate, not slow, climate change. Up top.

Why does so much anti biofuel rhetoric come out of Stanford?

The article starts off with an hypothesis contrary to fact: "If we run our cars on biofuels produced in the tropics...we are effectively burning rain forests in our gas tanks."

Firstly, the "we" can not include the United States since little of our ethanol in imported due to the 54 cent tariff on imported ethanol.

Secondly, it is preposterous to say Brazil, for example, is burning rain forests in their tanks since once the rain forest is destroyed by burning it can not be destroyed for a second or third time. After the rain forest is destroyed, sugar cane is grown on the land thereafter. A case can be made the former rain forest is actually more productive at least from the point of view of man after it is destroyed. Man unfortunately is part of the environment and has been ever since he evolved from that environment.

Then the author introduces the bogus concept of carbon debt wherein burning rain forests increases carbon. Ignored is the fact that burning fossil fuels also increases carbon and there is no way to partially offset it with next year's crop of sugar cane.
The burnt fossil fuel introduces carbon by removing it from deep below the ground with no offsetting mechanism to even partially restore balance. Doesn't matter to the author though.

Then she makes the terrifying leap that takes my breath away. Sugar can takes 120 years to repay the debt according to her. Lower yield crops like corn and soybeans may take up to 1500 years she says. Now wait a minute, corn and soybeans are not being used for ethanol production on cleared rain forest land. They do not grow well in the climate of Brazil. To use Brazil's rain forest destruction as an argument against biofuels grown for the most part on the Midwest prairie leaves me aghast.

She gets even further from reality and states that growing biofuels on poor land many be environmentally positive. What planet does this person live on?

It is another world were growing biofuels on rich ground is harmful, but growing biofuels on poor ground is beneficial to the environment. Stanford must exist outside the planet I know.

Brazilian sugarcane is not grown in the tropical rainforest areas.

By creating a demand for cleared land, whether it be for previously cleared land to not be allowed to revert to jungle, or for new land for more sugarcane, with biofuel production we will end up with less forest. And the forest sequesters more carbon, than the farmland. That is where the net emissions from biofuels comes in. If you want biofuels to be near carbon neutral you need to use the non-food parts of food crops for the fuels. This may someday be possible, but it isn't the current practice.

Then we need to face the issue. Given a finite supply of biomass (of whatever composition), what is the best use for it. Energy uses include, ethanol, other liquid fuels, biogas, or biomass? We shouldn't push one use over the others based upon our historic addiction to liquid fuel.

I think biogas has strong potential as it can use a wide variety of waste products and non food crops, fast growing grasses, seaweed, prickly pears etc.
It can also make use of the existing natural gas infrastructure, if the vehicle fuel of choice is going to move towards natural gas, then it offers good potential for substituting biogas into this mix.
Also the biogas is an ideal fuel for combined heat and power applications, a high area with high population density could run district heating off biogas from sewage waste.
It also completes the loop on nutrient recycling and can provide on demand renewable electricity to complement the variations in wind and solar output.

Biofuels will never be more than a small wedge, but they meet a lot of the BAU ideals so will chased by politicians and farming lobbies but if we are going to do it at all IMO it makes sense to use the technolgy based on existing infrastructure, which returns nutrients to the soil and is an effective waste disposal option.

By creating a demand for cleared land, whether it be for previously cleared land to not be allowed to revert to jungle, or for new land for more sugarcane, with biofuel production we will end up with less forest.

So far the sugarcane expansion in Brazil has not resulted at all in less rainforest. And, why would you want previously cleared land to revert to jungle???

And the forest sequesters more carbon, than the farmland. That is where the net emissions from biofuels comes in. If you want biofuels to be near carbon neutral you need to use the non-food parts of food crops for the fuels. This may someday be possible, but it isn't the current practice.

The difference in "sequestering" carbon between forest and farmland is a matter of cycle and not a fundamental one at all. Forests are not harvested every year, farmland normally is. Ultimately what carbon that was temporarily sequestered in a forest will come out again. By growing biofuels, less carbon will be needed from fossil oil and that's why biofuels like sugarcane have the most impact on reducing carbon emissions. Unless these forests, once harvested, would contribute in replacing fossil oil, they have virtually no impact on reducing CO2. Biofuels do so year after year after year, etc.

Ultimately what carbon that was temporarily sequestered in a forest will come out again. By growing biofuels, less carbon will be needed from fossil oil and that's why biofuels like sugarcane have the most impact on reducing carbon emissions.

The problem is in the relative amounts. Most of the carbon sequestered by the forest is underground in the soil. The farm land will have less standing biomass AND less stored in the soil. The claim is that the net loss is equivalent to many years worth of biofuel production. Also there is the problem that biofuels are there to continue unsustainable BAU. In order for biofuels to make sense, we have to significant reduce our consumption of carbon fuels fossil and bio. Currently the hype about biofuels serves to propagate the cult of BAU. It doesn't need to be that way, but currently that is how they have been used in the US. Of course different farming practices will result in different amounts of carbon sequested per acre. It takes many years for the equilibrium to be reached. For forest reclaiming former agricultural land it is on the order of a century. With knowledge of carbon the sequestering ability of different farming practices, and a carbon tax/credit, it ought to be possible to tweak the methods to increase the carbon sequestered under active farmlands.

Most of the carbon sequestered by the forest is underground in the soil. Nonsense.

In order for biofuels to make sense, we have to significant reduce our consumption of carbon fuels fossil

Biofuels DO reduce our consumption of fossil fuels.

re: x
They don't grow Soybeans in Brazil?
You're kidding, right?

Furthermore, where's all this biomass going to come from?

And is 0.13% solar efficiency really something worth pursuing?

Also, a lot of people also tend to forget that farmland, fresh water, and fertilizers are scarce commodities.
Anything that increases demand for those commodities, increases their cost.
As such, biofuels would significantly increase food production costs.
Is it really moral to do that?

"“Law of Doomsaying”: Predict catastrophe no sooner than five years hence but no later than 10 years away, soon enough to terrify but distant enough that people will forget if you are wrong."

This is a subset of Stephen Leacock's Law. He was a humourist who, back in the early 1940s, remarked that you should never predict anything that will happen in your lifetime, only after you are safely dead and cannot be embarrassed by a wrong prediction.

Hamsters On Treadmills Provide Electricity

Could hamsters help solve the world's energy crisis? Probably not, but a hamster wearing a power-generating jacket is doing its own small part to provide a new and renewable source of electricity.

Problem solved! ;-)

sarconal_off: maybe this will have some impact on wearable electronics down the road.

Here's something more for you guys on How To Live Without Cars:


Hmmm...if I'm a visiting tourist burning big bucks at the customarily obscene rate, and if my travel agent has picked me the right place to stay (bad European hotels, like bad European chain restaurants, being some of the worst of the worst), then this sort of thing would have a certain charm. OTOH, many of the pix show an extreme level of decrepitude, and I can not only see the ubiquitous decay and mildew, I can almost smell it. So it's one thing to romanticize this remotely from a dry and comfortable room, or close-up with a nice hotel to return to. However, it might be quite another thing altogether to have to put up with the mildew, decrepitude, and provincial social isolation day in and day out for year upon year upon mind-numbingly boring year...

Oh, and if and when I grow old enough to become creaky, the need to walk to do absolutely anything, rather than be able to drive, might become quite a misery. A lot of this romanticized stuff (and that also includes the slightly fatuous American farmette meme so popular around here), seems designed for use exclusively by highly fit youths. Not that this ought to be a surprise, since in the old days, i.e. the first time around, very few survived even to what is now thought of as middle age, and then only the strongest ones, and never mind old age...

I keep wondering whether, if we insist that we're going back to the past, we aren't going to have to restore the demographics of the past in order to make it work. Certainly that wouldn't be very pretty, as the heated discussion on the campfire page today might suggest...

A lot of villages in the Mediterranean (southern France, Spain, Italy, Greece...) are like that: lots of small buildings (3-4 storeys tall) on a hill, with fields around the hill, where the land is flatter. Building houses on hills has quite a few advantages: easier to farm on flat ground, protection against frequent flash floods during the late summer/autumn, and better view of any conquering army (most villages date from medieval times).

Most of them have been converted into flats with all that modern life can provide, and they're still much better build than modern houses: being compact and made of stone with thick walls, even in the hot Mediterranean summer, there's no need for air-con. You can argue that a paint job and some restoration of the exteriors might be needed, but that's only for aesthetic purposes.

And the Mediterranean is a region of the world with some of the highest life expectancy on earth, partly because of the diet (lots of olives and tomatoes?), partly because old people still walk around. There are lots of people above 70 who still walk up and down stairs all day.

Funny how the car culture means that walking up a few stairs is now exclusively for highly fit youths.

UAW Objects to GM, Chrysler Plan as Deadline Nears

Feb. 14 (Bloomberg) -- The United Auto Workers union is objecting to proposals from General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC to modify a retiree health-care fund as required by the U.S. so the automakers can keep $17.4 billion in aid.

The UAW stopped negotiations with GM last night, a person familiar with the talks said. Chrysler still is talking to the union, though the talks haven’t been substantive, said another person briefed on those discussions. A delay in the talks could risk the automakers missing a Feb. 17 deadline to show progress in a government-ordered plan to cut labor and debt costs. It’s not clear what that would mean.

Here's Denninger's take on this.

"The UAW stopped negotiations with GM last night, a person familiar with the talks said. A delay in the talks could risk the automakers missing a Feb. 17 deadline to show progress in a government-ordered plan to cut labor and debt costs. It’s not clear what that would mean."

Oh I disagree - the meaning of that is crystal-clear.


Denninger could be right but maybe not. The UAW might be betting that if the nuclear option actually seems imminent, Congress and President O will prostrate themselves to give the UAW everything it wants and more besides. It's a high-stakes gamble, but it's worked that way oftentimes over many decades, helping to make what's left of Detroit the fossilized featherbedded place it still is today.

Crude oil is getting cheaper -- so why isn't gas?

"Right now, in an unusual market trend, West Texas crude is selling for much less than inferior grades of crude from other places around the world. A severe economic downturn has left U.S. storage facilities brimming with it, sending prices for the premium crude to five-year lows.

But it is the overseas crude that goes into most of the gas made in the United States. So prices at the pump will probably keep going up no matter what happens to the benchmark price of crude oil."


Gas is sold on long term fixed price contracts so although gas prices follow oil, there tends to be a long lag between the two prices.

Thousands of villagers in rural Alaska are struggling to survive, forced to choose between keeping their families warm and keeping their stomachs full

I think it would be fair to say that we are no longer talking about the simple hunter gatherer groups of former times that include: Inupiat, Yupik, Aleut, Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, Eyak, and a number of Northern Athabaskan cultures.

Their populations have exploded just as all mainstream cultures have as a result of oil consumption. When they were hunter gatherer's their populations were stable for thousands of years. (See r/K selection theory) Not so presently. When you drive high powered snow-mobiles and live in modular housing you should lose favored cultural status.

To allow these "native" peoples unfettered access to killing threatened wild populations is the snow job. Maybe they need to have the "corrupted" natives move to the misery of the cities like the rest of us and let the "Real McCoys" go back to their traditional lifestyle sans the comforts of modern civilization.


Maybe they need to have the "corrupted" natives move to the misery of the cities like the rest of us and let the "Real McCoys" go back to their traditional lifestyle sans the comforts of modern civilization.

That is in fact happening. I posted an article a few months ago, about how Alaskan city schools are seeing massive spikes in enrollment. People are moving from the rural areas to the city, because of the high cost of food and fuel.

Alaska is a special situation, with its extreme climate and lack of infrastructure. Still, I expect this to be the norm in the rest of the country, perhaps for generations. My guess is that when confronted with the difficulties of life without fuel or electricity, people will move to where supply lines are more reliable, rather than setting up to go without.

people will (do X), rather than setting up to go without.

Yup, and with the appetites of the Americans (along with the normal sense of entitlement humans have) it does not end well.


I really enjoyed the two articles:

Meet the doomsayers of our time


Both sides miss truth of recession

The dogmatism and imperialism-of-thought exuded by hard-core survivalists like Paul are real turn offs. The romantism of the communitarian, back-to-nature types like Laurie Varga is truly delightful.

Even though I'm not quite as pessimistic as either Paul or Laurie, it was John Michael Greer I believe who recently wrote that we should encourage a diversity of ideologies and world views. After all, it might be the survivors of one of these two strategies that get to plant their seeds in a new world, thus insuring the perpetuation of the species.

A Coal Question

I noticed something on the EIA country chart. Production & consumption are in terms of tons, but net exports are in terms of BTU's. Net Exported BTU's have fallen much more sharply than tons. My guess is that we are producing and exporting lower BTU per ton coal. Anyone know for sure?



Net Exports (Million Short Tons): 60
Net Exports (Trillion BTU's): 1959


Net Exports (Million Short Tons): 47 (Down 22%)
Net Exports (Trillion BTU's): 296 (Down 85%)

If my math is correct, 1,000 trillion BTU's is equivalent to 1,000 BCF of gas (about 18 days of current US dry gas production).

Axelrod: Housing Plan to be Announced Wednesday

From the WSJ: Axelrod: Obama Has 'Solid' Housing Plan

Speaking on "Fox News Sunday," senior adviser David Axelrod said the plan that President Barack Obama plans to announce on Wednesday will aim to provide immediate help to homeowners who are "right on the edge" of foreclosure, and ultimately help in "raising home values that have been plummeting."

A comment:

Mr. Randy Middleclass writes:
We're a modestly young median income family in St. Paul ready and willing to pull a trigger on a house and not deplete our savings and to have the payment on a house near to what we're paying in rent. It's really hard to do...is the idea to keep housing prices high by simply not allowing any to be sold? I guess we're just priced out forever...and I guess the people who own these houses better plan on living in them forever because I'm unwilling and unable to buy at their incredibly inflated/hallucinatory prices.

We have a real problem in this nation with the truth. We believe that government can fix all that ails us, when in fact government has never done a decent job of fixing anything. All government has managed to do is make promises they cannot keep, while bloviating and interfering in the process of markets finding equilibrium and thus clearing.

There is a price for a given house, a given MBS, a CDO. It is the price negotiated between a willing buyer and a willing seller - nothing more or less. So long as the government continues to actively interfere in these markets and try to "prop up prices" (no matter where it is) you will see spreads widen and markets remain frozen.

The longer markets remain frozen due to government interference, the worse the damage to our economy, the more people will be laid off, the more businesses will fail and the lower the stock market will sink.

Its really that simple, and that the people in Washington DC, including both McCain and Obama, are too tone-deaf to understand the basics of how markets work, is outrageous.

That we as Americans allow this claptrap to continue instead of recognizing the fundamental truth of how markets work and why interfering with them in this fashion can never succeed is even more so.

Karl Denninger at 15:28


when in fact government has never done a decent job of fixing anything.

When you flush the toilet, where does it go, and who fixed the pipes that carry it away? For most Americans, the sewage system was built and fixed by government. Yet, blatantly false and ridiculous statements like the one above pass unchallenged.
Those who believe that "government has neve done a decent job of fixing anything" really need a vacation to Somalia or any place else without a functioning government to see how much government really fixes every day. I know the comment is a repeat, but so is the brain-dead claim that government has never done a decent job of fixing anything (published on the internet which was developed with government ARPANET funding, powered by electrons from a government-regulated utility and distribution grid) the irony just goes on, the commenters comment on, oblivious to the forces that sustain them while they deny the force's existence.

I'd agree, and government's built a few things, too. The Interstate Highway System, for example.

I'd add that building the Interstate Highway System may have worked too well. Those high speed freeways made it possible for people to move further out of town and build on low price farm land. So, today we have many people living in suburbs driving cars everywhere and using lots of fuels made from oil to do so. And, now that those suburban foundations are in, Peak Oil is just about on top of us...

E. Swanson

Complete waste of money...

tommyvee - Too true. When there's a plane crash people expect bureaucrats to leap into action and have an accident report within 48 hours. Civilization as we know it is a product of effective government - not free markets.

OTOH I think that a relatively effective government will lead to a catabolic collapse (slow, gradual) which in the end will simply denude the ecosystems and biodiversity to the point that it will lead to a mass extinction event that will take hundreds of thousands of years to recover not to mention the extinction of Homo-sapiens.

Contrast that with a catastrophic collapse which might give a higher probability of biodiversity as well as the survival of our species.

George Carlin said it best:

When I hear about a fire raging out of control threatening large swaths of suburbia I don't want people to get killed but at the same time I take ownership of that fire.

So leave my fire alone!


Depending on how bad we screwed things up, recovery might take longer than hundreds of thousands of years. Following the Permian extinction, the world remained impoverished for millions of years into the Triassic. A few so-called disaster taxa thrived, everything else barely held on. (On the other hand, the modeled CO2 spike and global warming for P/T are far beyond what we can possibly reach without wiping out our civilization, so it's unlikely to be comparable in magnitude.)

It is also possible that diversity has peaked and we are on the downslope of the age of animals regardless.

Or try living in Mexico where I do.

I too wish these anti-government types had to live in a country where their libertarian fantasies were a reality. They truly have no idea of what they speak.


I am very curious as to your take regarding the stability of Mexico. There are many reports up here regarding the drug wars and police corruption, and of course, the media wouldn't lie would they? ;-)



I'll just copy and paste a letter I sent some friends a few weeks ago, since it pretty much sums up my evaluation of the situation here. Since I wrote that letter, there have been a couple of developments. First, I think it's become much clearer what the U.S. response is going to be if Calderon can't get this thing under control. The US Joint Forces Command issued a report that said the greatest risk of a "rapid and sudden collapse" lay in two places on the planet. One was Pakistan; the other was Mexico. Then there's talk like this:

So what could be the next step by the States?
Direct military action. Outgoing US National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley has claimed that Mexico's worsening violence threatens its democratic existence. Any rapid descent by Mexico into chaos "would demand an American response", says investigative reporter Michael Webster. "Mexico as a failed state will require US military intervention." As Walter Mares says in the Eastern Arizona Courier, US intervention is tolerated elsewhere in the world, so why not Mexico? "America doesn't need to be a bully, nor must it become involved in secretive operations in Mexico. The US can be very up-front about calling for, and doing, all it can to bring about long-needed reform by our southern neighbour's government."


Second, public opinion is changing very rapidly here in Mexico. The drug lords bring over $20 billion dollars U.S. per year into this country, probably more than what the country earns from either petroleum exports or the remesas sent home by immigrants working in the U.S. So drug revenues are very important to the economy. And the drug capos have in the past have been lionized as folk heroes, honored with ballads, becoming the stuff of legends. But with all this Al Capone crap, that is changing very rapidly. They are losing the public relations battle. Calderon, despite all his problems, has immense popularity--more than 70% approval. Last week the army ambushed and killed 20 putative drug operatives in one foul swoop. And the people applauded it. Only a couple years back I think the people would have been up in arms due to the civil rights violations.

Kidnapping has also become a big problem. I went by to visit a friend of mine who has an antique store the other morning. He had this customer come while I was there and it was like a parade--the van the guy was riding in, a car in front and a car behind plus a police escort. There were a total of four vehicles and something like 10 people in all including him and his security detail. I guess when it touches you or a close acquaintance that's what is called for. I know one of my landlady's neighbors lives the same way. When I'd go to pay the rent I'd always notice there would be three or four guards outside. I thought maybe he was the governor or something. But no, he is just a businessman who suffered the loss of a son who was kidnapped and killed. They're even kidnapping poor people here for ransoms as little as $4,000 or $5,000 dollars U.S.

So I think that, even in the short time since I wrote my letter, we've moved a lot closer to a Columbia-style solution being acceptable with the people.

Anyway, here's the letter:

Dear Friends,

I saw this in the NY Times about how the violence in Mexico is escalating:


As you know I travel frequently to Columbia. I have many friends there who talk about how bad it was there 15+ years ago. It's greatly improved now (at least in the major cities), as Columbia applied the mano duro to the drug trafficing and kidnapping and most of it moved north to Mexico. Now it looks like Mexico is in for it. The political insurgency (guerilla) is still not as well organized in Mexico as it was in Columbia, but if the economy continues to worsen, that may not be long in coming. It is this nexus of drug trafficing with Marxist politics that made the situation in Columbia so intense.

The government of Mexico is much more corrupt than that of Columbia. The entire criminal justice system--police, prosecutors, judges, prisons--is one huge criminal enterprise. Its mission, at least by Anglo standards, is perverse: its primary purpose being not to protect and serve the people, but to protect and maintain in power a small, powerful and wealthy ruling elite. This includes persecuting politcal dissent. So the criminal justice system in Mexico is worse than useless. Many in Mexico believe the army can be deployed, as it was in Columbia, to resore order. But I am not so sure that's an option, as there are already many reports that the drug trafficers have infiltrated the army as well. So the problem in Mexico could be much more complicated, and much more difficult to exorcise, than it was in Columbia.

I suppose much hinges on how entrenched the ruling elite in Mexico is and how the United States would react if the elites of the drug world were to make a move to displace the current oligarchy, which is US friendly. If the drug lords made such an attempt and were successful, this would result in a full-bore narco state, an outcome I don't think the US would relish. So they might send in the US assasins, as they did in Columbia, with the invitation of the Columbian government, to eliminate the dissident drug capos. This is not something I believe would be politically possible in Mexico now, but if the country suffers through a few more years of escalating violence, the people might welcome such an intervention as they did in Columbia. The situation is of course very fluid, with many moving parts, so an array of outcomes is possible.

Meanwhile I'm biding my time here. Sometimes I feel like one of those benighted characters from Tea with Mussolini. If something were to happen to me, with all the warning signs, I'd feel very foolish. If it weren't for the fact that the oil business is now also in the toilet due to the global recession, I'd move back to Texas and go back to work. Lacking that option, I suppose my next best move might be to Columbia. I don't like the people there as well, they're much more formal and uptight than Mexicans (Columbians are a lot more like Americans than Mexicans are) but I do believe it's safer. And the physical beauty of the country is absolutely breathtaking.

So I'm going to keep monitoring the situation here, but with economic hard times eclipsing the country, I don't see the security situation here going anywhere but downhill for the next few years.

Muchas gracias Senor Sur

I appreciate such a complete and forthright reply. I always try to dig deeper than the MSM, and I am glad that my assessment was about right. To be clear, I am not glad about the situation, but I am pleased that my BS filter seems to be working fine.

A couple of notes, or perhaps anecdotes:

I find some irony that the US government's war on drugs, and support in Columbia put the problem literally in their own back yard. The proximity will likely trigger a disproportionate, and largely inefficient response, if Iraq and Afghanistan are any indication.

I had a conversation with a friend about 3 months ago, regarding the fragility of Mexico and Pakistan. He knows I am a doomer but he "tolerates" my rants. Two days ago he sent me a link to an MSM article discussing "Mexico on the brink of collapse?" or some such hype. I didn't bother to read it, but now, in his eyes, I'm a frikkin' clairvoyant.

With the oil depletion (Cantarell et al) and low oil prices, Mexico's revenues are going to take (are taking?) a huge hit, and thus so is their ability to support basic facilities and maintain order. As Mexico goes sideways, how many US resources can be diverted to stem the problem? The US played a large part in the last bailout, supporting Vincente Fox. Will it be the US again, the IMF or who? The last time I looked, the US is not exactly flush.

I have spent many pleasant weeks in Mexico, so I wish them no ill; I have found most Mexicans much more civil than many Americans, but I wonder if they are not a petri dish, or a template for what is to become of various countries as the resources are depleted. Where I live, it is the typical small/medium city with no rampant or obvious homelessness, ghettos or street gun battles, yet the police are finding armored suvs, TEK-9s and night vision equipment. As the resources of the state diminish, will the mano duro be overcome by the moneda dura?

A bit of trivia which is not trivial is the origin of the term "technicals" as used in Somalia. A jeep, truck or SUV with an attached machine gun. The name came from cash received from the Red Cross for so-called "technical support" which was a thinly veiled reference to extortion.

Of course, that sort of thing only happens "elsewhere", never here, right?

Please keep your perspectives coming.



I debated on whether to include the first paragraph in the comment,though I didn't agree with it.
It was after all part of his comment.

IMO the stimulus bill may provide 1 job for each 10 that are lost over the next year. I expect to see another 6 MM jobs lost over the next 12 months.

To generate real jobs a plan to use high speed rail on the Interstate right of way should have been considered.

IMO the stimulus bill may provide 1 job for each 10 that are lost over the next year.

I figure it is more like 1 out of 2. Most of these will not be new jobs, but rather jobs that were saved from the chopping block.

In any case, with the deep recession only partly blunted by the stimulus, there will be plenty of ammunition for both sides of the argument to claim proof. The pro-stimulus folks, will claim the stimulus reduced the depth of the depression. The antis, will claim that since the depression continued to deepen after the stimulus was applied, that it either did nothing, or made it worse. So we will be back to the same ideological intellectual impasse next time a similar situation arises.

Global warming 'underestimated'

The severity of global warming over the next century will be much worse than previously believed, a leading climate scientist has warned.

Professor Chris Field, an author of a 2007 landmark report on climate change, said future temperatures "will be beyond anything" predicted.

Translation: Give me more funding so I can write another report for you. This economy is tough, and I don't want to have to work you know!

Translation: Give me more funding so I can write another report for you. This economy is tough, and I don't want to have to work you know!

That is a false application of the follow the money doctrine. Climate scientists make about half as much money as similarly trained people do in our economy. And, they work harder. In some disciplines, scientists have an opportunity to branch off into a commercial venture. But, this is almost entirely lacking in climate science.

Not to mention

1. the only people shown to have been paid for their "scientific" opinions have been denialists, by Exxon and related "think" tanks,

1b. all the while decrying that it's just a conspiracy to get the gov't into our pockets!!... despite the fact that the whole time they've been making this idiotic claim there was a denialist administration in the WH that was suppressing climate science and

2. what "science" the denialists have come up with is actually 90%+ reviews of, and unethical attempts to tear down, legitimate climate science while they produced almost no actual research, and

2b. what research they have produced has been published in non-peer-reviewed journals and/or been showed to be flawed when peer reviewed.



Hello TODers,

Private golf clubs struggle amid economic downturn

..Nationally, between 10 to 15 percent of all private clubs in the country are defined as “at risk,” with memberships down 29 percent and the amount of golf rounds played down 22 percent. More than half of these clubs are operating in the red, according to James R. Kass of the National Golf Foundation.
I wonder if these private courses will get preferential first access to mortgage & financial bailouts ahead of the average underwater homeowner? It would seem par for the course...consider Zimbabwe's private clubs still operating as the rest of their society implodes.

IMO, it would be alternatively better if Tiger Woods leads the charge for plowing up these uneconomic plots of US land. I can't think of any other forms of real estate that is more 'shovel-ready' for permaculture conversion.

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

Sorry doomers but new technology does have an affect on energy supplies. This is an intriguing example that might work:

AMSC, NREL to Collaborate on Superconductor Wind Turbine

Yes, it might help significantly about 2020 or 2025. This is a technology development exercise, just shy of research.

But it's re-solving the part that works -- the turbine. It doesn't solve the parts that don't -- grid and storage.

But it's re-solving the part that works -- the turbine. It doesn't solve the parts that don't -- grid and storage.

It (assuming it succeeds), allows for the incremental increase in turbine size and cost efficiency to continue a little longer. Of course it doesn't address other problems. But, this is largely the case with large scale systems. Individual contributions tend to be evolutionary tweaks to only a small part of the overall problem.

A direct drive generator only eliminates the gearbox. Those have been a source of problems, so doing without should increase reliability. There should also be a slight improvement in efficiency, since there are losses in the gear train. Provided, that is, the reliability of the cooling system is up to the task of keeping the generator very cold 24/7.

E. Swanson

Farmers urged to order fertilisers

..The Australian Fertiliser Services Association (AFSA), which represents 240 spreading contractors across the country, is sounding the alarm about a potential crisis in fertiliser logistics this season, unless farmers move quickly to take delivery of fertilisers in coming weeks.
As discussed in my many prior postings: I think this advice goes for farmers/gardeners everywhere. Supply chain logistics and FF/I-NPK latency can have a tremendous flowrate affect. Let's hope nobody misses the critical seasonal timeslot.

Fertiliser Report

"Producers in Russia and the Ukraine have raised their price ideas following an increase in gas prices which will test the market in the coming weeks," says Calum Findlay, Gleadell Agriculture’s fertiliser trader.

.."In the Middle East, producers are using the two arguments above to push up prices further although, February tonnage is fully committed, and they are now only offering for March shipment. "The Imported AN and Sulphur situation remains tight and prices of ammonia have strengthened on the back of fresh demand.

.."The nationals and the blenders have reduced prices to encourage demand and, once the market takes off, a massive logistical problem will occur."

Japan’s GDP Shrinks 12.7%, Most Since 1974 Oil Shock (Update2)

...“The economy is in terrible shape and the scary part is that we’re likely to see a similar drop this quarter,” said Seiji Adachi, a senior economist at Deutsche Securities Inc. in Tokyo. “All we can do is wait for overseas demand to pick up.”

...“The best we can expect for this year is to see the collapse stop,” said Kyohei Morita, chief economist at Barclays Capital in Tokyo. For Japan to recover, “we’ll need the U.S. and Chinese economies to take off first.”
Sounds like cornucopian wishes to me. IMO, Japan would be better served by moving to Optimal Overshoot Decline strategies. If I was a Japanese author: writing about their Edo Period should be a sure fire best-seller.

From Leanan's sourced article
Take Peak Oil seriously - it'll be here much sooner than you think

In relation to Peak Oil, David Hughes said in the article that "If we're not there, we're awful close".

From Colin Campbell's ASPO Jan 2009 Newsletter
Crossing the Summit

Campbell forecasts that peak oil, excluding bio-fuels, was passed in 2008 and says

It looks as if we have indeed passed the long predicted inevitable peak of production as ultimately imposed by natural depletion. It is obvious that the production of any finite resource starts and ends, passing a peak in between. Given the central role of oil in fuelling the economic expansion of the past Century, it looks as if the Second Half of the Oil Age will be marked by economic contraction. Empires have waxed and waned throughout history so there is nothing unusual about the present pattern of events, difficult as the transition will undoubtedly be.

Assuming that OPEC-11 will comply with 75% of its 4.2 mbd cuts since Sep 2008, I'm forecasting that peak total liquids, including bio-fuels, passed in 2008. According to the IEA, total liquids production in 2006 was 85.4 mbd; 2007, 85.6 mbd; and 2008, 86.6 mbd.

My supply forecast for 2009 is 84.4 mbd which means that the peak supply plateau which started in 2006 has ended. It is possible that production in 2010 might exceed 85 mbd but I'm not hopeful because there are simply too many countries in decline.

Supply, Demand and Price to 2012 - click to enlarge

ace: The growing number of megaprojects that have been scaled back, postponed, canceled, or never even moved off the drawing boards or out of imaginations has got to start taking its toll within the next year or two. It was only going to be a few years at most before capacity additions started to perpetually lag behind depletion, like a dog chasing its tail. Now it looks like that moment is being moved up to real soon, or maybe even - RIGHT NOW?

RE: TOP POST: Things Explained: Gasoline Prices

"Of course, as we have found out in the last three years, speculators in the market can drive the price of oil sky high."

This was debated back and forth here last summer. My impression from the debates on TOD was that speculators could not have driven the price up last year.

IS this thinking being reexamined? Or is it still garbage.


I've seen reports which do seem to point to speculators having a big impact. What swayed my thinking alone those lines was the huge increase in option buyers who were not potential physical buyers of crude. I forget the exact numbers but 100's or perhaps 1000's times as many contracts were bought by those folks compared to previous times. It struck me as the same type of force that drives the price of a stock down when much of the market starts shorting it. Whether or not the stock is actually worth less might not matter much to folks if they see the rest of the market downgrading it in the futures market. More then just a self-fullfilling prophecy....a self directed prophecy perhaps.


As I'm sure you know, physical delivery of product enough to sway markets was demonstrated as impossible. And many here made the argument that futures were a zero sum game-those bidding up had to be balanced by an opposite position.

You have any links for your thoughts on options buyers-amounts involved, how it would work, examples? At this point it's hard for me to believe any position--I more or less go with the declining inventory levels, esp the lack of increased production over the years in response to price, and market perceptions of scarcity. I suppose that option position is just a manifestation of market perception, but is it sufficient to triple the market price over a few years?

Sorry doug but no links. But I was referring to 2008 only. The report I saw claimed there was a tremendous increase in 2008 contracts by buyers incapable of taken physical delivery compared to previous compared to prior years. I'm with you on declining inventories over the last several years causing the price climb.

Yep...I agree it is a zero sum game. But the theory goes that the physical crude purchase market tended to follow the futures in tandem to a degree. Such matters are beyond me. But the fact that oil prices collapsed so much faster then the supply/demand numbers could have changed. I take this to mean there was some form of artificial support of those high prices. Maybe the future players…maybe some other unseen manipulators. But I have seen the consumption and production curves over the last half of 2008 and they do not support the price drop we saw IMO.

Is that opinion just a gut feeling or is it based on a reasoning? Even if you've got no links, I'd like to read about the reasoning as well as what data and/or assumptions it's based on.

Even if you're not Rockman, please post if you've got anything halfway solid on price elasticity.