DrumBeat: February 26, 2009

The Peak Oil Crisis: A Turning Point?

Chinese oil consumption is no longer growing at 5 or 6 percent annually as it has been doing in recent years, but it does not seem to be dropping significantly either as Beijing is reported to be filling its first strategic petroleum reserve. The Japanese, who just reported a 45 percent drop in exports, imported eight percent less oil in January. The heavily motorized parts of Europe still seem to be consuming close to normal levels as are the oil exporting countries where the oil products are heavily subsidized. The rapid drop in prices has ended the stream of reports from small islands and the poorer Asian, African and Latin American countries about not being able to afford oil for power plants.

In short, it is not obvious exactly where the fabled drop in demand is taking place. The U.S. was down about a million barrels a day (b/d) a couple of months ago, but over the last few weeks consumption of most oil products, except jet fuel, have edged back up again. In a society such as the U.S., which is almost completely motorized, it apparently takes more economic downturn, especially in winter, to keep people out of their cars when cheap gas is available. In another four months, the U.S. vacation driving season will be on us - a time when gasoline consumption usually jumps about 500,000 b/d. Presumably those suffering financial hardships will be more circumspect in their vacation driving this summer even if gasoline remains in the vicinity of $2 a gallon.

Oil jumps for second day in a row

DENVER – Oil prices jumped for a second consecutive day Thursday as the supply of crude, for months a secondary consideration to rapidly declining demand, appeared to gain force as a market mover.

Traders have followed economic data that suggested producers could not cut production fast enough to match falling demand.

The government reported that imports over the last two weeks are more than 10 percent below the prior month's average, hinting that massive OPEC cuts may finally have reached the U.S. market.

Light, sweet crude for April delivery jumped 6.4 percent, or $2.72 to settle at $45.22 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

'Next oil shock will be far worse than $147 a barrel'

The world is breathing easy, now that oil prices are below $40 a barrel, down sharply from $147 a barrel in June. But, in fact, the current financial crisis and recession could accentuate the severe supply-side constraints that drove up prices last year to record highs, cautions Mikkal Herberg, research director of the energy security programme at the National Bureau of Asian Research in Washington and a veteran strategist in the oil industry.

"It's hard to say how long and deep this recession will be and how soon the global economy -- and demand for oil -- will recover, but when it does, in a year or two, it will immediately run into supply constraints," says Herberg.

Mexico awards $250 mln oil drilling contracts

MEXICO CITY, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Mexico's state oil company Pemex said on Thursday it had awarded three offshore drilling contracts worth a combined $249.7 million to privately held MexDrill and a unit of Nabors Industries.

Sewage spills foul San Francisco Bay over and over

On average, human waste spills into the San Francisco Bay more than five times a day, fouling the waters and shorelines of this environmental jewel and recreational treasure.

Decrepit pipes, outdated municipal sewage treatment systems and poor upkeep have been blamed for many of the spills into one the world's most famous and beautiful natural harbors. And some of the Bay Area's wealthiest communities have been identified as some of the most persistent polluters.

Obama Budget Hits Oil, Gas Companies With New Fees, Taxes

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration Thursday proposed raising at least $31.5 billion over 10 years from oil and gas companies, reflecting a repeal of tax breaks for domestic production and new charges on oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico.

The plans, outlined as part of a fiscal 2010 budget proposal, revive long-standing Democratic efforts to turn to the oil and gas industry as a source of funding for other priorities. Among other things, the Obama budget plan calls for about $13 billion over 10 years in new charges on oil and gas companies from the repeal of a tax deduction for domestic production.

Oil companies have been fighting to maintain the tax treatment, which they say keeps jobs in the U.S. by encouraging domestic production. Congress scaled back the tax deduction last year to help pay for an extension of tax breaks for the solar and wind industries, but stopped short of eliminating it entirely.

Chesapeake Energy to move, eliminate 215 jobs

Chesapeake Energy Corp. said Thursday that it will move or eliminate about 215 positions from its Charleston, W. Va., office in an attempt to cut costs amid tightening credit markets and falling energy prices.

The nation's largest natural gas producer plans to transform the office from a regional corporate headquarters employing 255 workers to a regional field office employing about 40 people.

Chevron Says 3 Projects Delayed, Raises Cost Targets

(Bloomberg) -- Chevron Corp., the world’s fourth- largest energy company, delayed the start of production at three Nigerian projects and raised cost estimates as much as 103 percent on some of its biggest new sources of output.

A trio of Nigerian developments will begin producing at least a year later than planned, San Ramon, California-based Chevron said today in a public filing. A plant refining Nigerian natural gas into motor fuels will cost $5.9 billion, more than double the previous estimate, and the offshore Agbami oilfield will cost an estimated $7 billion, 30 percent more than planned.

Power games - The final shape of the European energy market is emerging: an oligopoly

AFTER years of legal fights, hurt pride and face-saving compromises, the saga of Endesa, a Spanish utility, and Enel, an Italian energy giant, came to an end on February 20th. It had started when the Spanish government tried to engineer a merger of Endesa with another Spanish utility, Gas Natural, in an effort to create a national champion. The eventual outcome, however, is that Endesa is now owned by Enel, Italy’s leading energy firm. One lesson is clear: attempts by politicians to create energy champions can have unexpected consequences, and can make the governments in question look foolish.

China State Oil Firm to Buy Verenex

OTTAWA -- China National Petroleum Corp.'s international arm plans to buy Venerex Energy Inc., snapping up the latter's Libyan oil assets for 499 million Canadian dollars (US$401 million).

The all-cash friendly deal from CNPC International Ltd. is for C$10 a share, Verenex said in a statement Thursday, a 28% premium to the company's Wednesday closing price on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Russia admits Irish oil spillage

The Russian navy says its vessels were to blame for an oil spill in the Celtic Sea off Ireland about 10 days ago.

An investigation found "technical malfunction and human error" resulted in hundreds of tonnes of oil leaking from a tanker anchored near a warship.

Wind power output hits 1,000 MW in New York-grid

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wind power in New York for the first time reached 1,000 megawatts last week, the New York Independent System Operator said on Thursday.

On Feb. 19, the wind output reached 1,000 MW, providing close to 5 percent of the 21,000 MW of total system demand at about 6 p.m. EST (2300 GMT), the grid operator said in a release.

One megawatt powers about 1,000 New York homes.

Downturn to cost billions in aid to world's poor

LONDON - The cost to aid budgets of the world economic downturn is headed for billions of dollars, slashing assistance to the world's poorest people just as it becomes harder for them to make money for themselves.

John Michael Greer: The investment delusion

The long economic expansion of the industrial age has fostered the massive growth of what old-fashioned Marxists used to call a rentier class – a class whose money makes money for them. Even among people who work for a living, the idea of joining the rentier class on retirement, and living comfortably off investments, has become very popular in recent years. The problem, of course, is that the age of industrial expansion is over; it was made possible in the first place only by exponentially increasing the use of fossil fuels and other natural resources; like all exponential growth curves, it faced an inevitable collision with the limits of its environment – and that collision is happening around us right now.

We are thus entering a period of prolonged economic contraction – not a recession, or even a depression, but a change in the fundamental dynamic of the economy. Over the centuries just past, a rising tide of economic growth was interrupted by occasional periods of contraction; over the centuries ahead, the long decline of the industrial economy will doubtless be interrupted by occasional periods of relative prosperity. Just as a rising tide lifts all boats, a falling tide lowers them all, and if the tide goes out far enough, a great many boats will end up high and dry.

Obama Rejects Nuclear Waste Site in Nevada After 20-Year Fight

(Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama will block the 20-year-old project to store U.S. nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada and devise a new solution, the Energy Department said.

Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu “have been emphatic that nuclear waste storage at Yucca Mountain is not an option, period,” said department spokeswoman Stephanie Mueller. The federal budget plan Obama is releasing today “clearly reflects that commitment,” she said.

“The new administration is starting the process of finding a better solution for management of our nuclear waste,” Mueller said in an e-mail today.

The U.S. has spent more than 20 years and $9 billion on a disputed plan to develop Yucca Mountain, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of Las Vegas, as the nation’s nuclear waste repository. Obama’s decision leaves unresolved the long-term plan for nuclear waste, primarily from power plants.

Tony Hayward: Compromise Energy Policy Within Reach

Every U.S. president since Richard Nixon has expressed concern about America's growing dependence on imported oil. But effective action has proved elusive: Oil imports have more than doubled in the past 35 years -- from 30% at the time of the first oil shock in 1973 to around 65% today.

Yet the collapse in world energy demand and the fall of energy prices present a rare, once-in-a-generation opportunity. Congress and the Obama administration can work with energy producers to craft an energy policy that creates jobs, expands and diversifies the nation's energy supply, generates government revenue, and protects the environment.

Law must decide Arctic ownership: Russia

MOSCOW -- The battle for the Arctic's vast reserves of oil and gas can only be decided by international law, Russia and Denmark said after talks on Thursday.

Cuba Expects More Oil Prospecting in Gulf of Mexico

Cuba's government still expects that more oil prospecting will be conducted this year in its territorial waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the country's Basic Industry minister said.

"Our plan is that this year we should begin conducting the first new prospecting in the Gulf," Yadira Garcia said in statements broadcast Tuesday by state television.

Big Oil Again Pushes Congress to Open Offshore Acreage

Big Oil once again pushed U.S. lawmakers to open up the Outer Continental Shelf to oil and gas development, arguing Wednesday that resource estimates could be multiplied if the federal government would expand offshore drilling access.

Although a moratorium on offshore drilling expired last year in the face of political pressure fueled by high energy prices, Democratic leaders in Congress and President Barack Obama's administration are prioritizing alternative, low-carbon energy and have indicated they'll restore bans in many areas.

Ukrainian company seeks changes to Russia gas deal

Ukraine's debt-burdened company Naftogaz wants changes in a hard-won natural gas deal with Russia that ended Europe's gas cutoff, officials said Thursday, amid concerns of a renewed dispute between the two neighbors.

Naftogaz has asked Russia's gas giant Gazprom to allow Ukraine to buy less natural gas this year than previously agreed, according to Gazprom and President Viktor Yushchenko's office. The contract signed in January locks Naftogaz into buying 40 billion cubic meters of gas this year, but the company is asking to buy only 33 billion.

The Environmental Cost of Euro-Arab Scramble for Africa

The focus of this piece is to highlight how the selfish, unethical, and eco-hostile Euro-Arab ´investment´ in collaboration with tyrannical and genocidal Horn of African regimes is leading to apocalyptic and irreversible disasters on the environment, human lives and wild lives.

Nigerian Militants Warn of More Helicopter Attacks

Nigerian militants warned on Thursday of attacks on any helicopters being used by the oil industry to transport soldiers in the Niger Delta, a day after a helicopter travelling to an oil facility was hit by gunfire.

The Sikorsky 76 was flying between the Ogbainbiri and Tebidaba oil flow stations operated by Italian energy firm Agip when it was shot at on Wednesday, wounding one passenger. The aircraft later landed safely back at its base.

Oil Price Decline Pinches Iraqi Economy

(AP) Iraq signed a joint venture oil deal with a British-based company on Thursday in one of the largest deals since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, an official said.

The deal comes as Iraq's budget is increasingly pinched by a decline in global oil prices and officials seek to boost oil production and develop new industries to pay for reconstruction. But many major oil companies have remained in the wings until Iraqi lawmakers deal with a long-delayed proposal governing oil investments.

Mexico/U.S. talks on border oil fields could begin soon

MEXICO CITY: Initial exploratory talks between Mexican and U.S. delegations regarding development of cross-border fields could begin during the northern hemisphere's spring, an official source close to the process told BNamericas.

Arizona: The Grand Gas Prices State

Donati blamed two culprits for keeping Arizona's prices inflated. The first, she said, were California oil refineries making a conscious decision to sell less gas to Arizona in hopes of making more money from California's sky-high gas prices - the highest in the nation at $2.265 per gallon. Donati also claimed that refineries had previously tightened Arizona's access to gas in order to close the gap between supply and demand in the state, thereby preventing gas prices from sinking even lower than they did in late 2008.

Donati said this move caused an unforeseen price jump in January after one of the state's biggest gas distributors, Flying J, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

"Flying J was a major supplier of fuel to the state, and that caused gasoline inventories across the state to tighten," Donati said.

British Gas signals further price cuts as anger grows over parent company's £2billion profits

British Gas chiefs have signalled further price cuts later this year amid anger over profits at its parent company.

Centrica made operating profits for 2008 of almost £2billion, despite the fact that profits at British Gas fell by a third to £379million.

The British Gas figures were hurt by sharp rises in wholesale energy costs last year, however these have since seen an unprecedented collapse.

Myopic vs. Strategic Thinking

The cost of oil production from tar sands is one of the most costly means of producing oil, that and deep water drilling. The collapse in oil prices is making production from the Canadian tar sands less economical, and slapping emissions controls and other regulation will only raise the cost for Canadian oil exporters to the U.S. The article mentions above that roughly 600,000 b/d of new production that was supposed to come on line over the next two years has been scrapped, and slapping regulation on Canadian oil producers will likely lead to even further cut backs in new production plans.

While the goal of reducing the carbon footprint is a noble venture, Obama’s policies are likely to have unintended consequences. For example, who’s to say that instead of spending billions to meet possible future regulations on oil sands production that Canadian oil exporters don’t simply export their oil to China or other oil-starved countries?

After the crash, Iceland's women lead the rescue

Tómasdóttir says: "Our Björk fund is to focus on sustainable growth. Iceland was the first in the world into the crisis, but we could be the first out, and women have a big role to play in that. It goes back to our Viking women. While the men were out there raping and pillaging, the women were running the show at home.

"We have five core feminine values. First, risk awareness: we will not invest in things we don't understand. Second, profit with principles - we like a wider definition so it is not just economic profit, but a positive social and environmental impact. Third, emotional capital. When we invest, we do an emotional due diligence - or check on the company - we look at the people, at whether the corporate culture is an asset or a liability. Fourth, straight talking. We believe the language of finance should be accessible, and not part of the alienating nature of banking culture. Fifth, independence. We would like to see women increasingly financially independent, because with that comes the greatest freedom to be who you want to be, but also unbiased advice."

Nassim Nicholas Taleb: How Bank Bonuses Let Us All Down

One of the arguments one hears in the compensation debate is that the bonus system used by Wall Street - as John Thain, former Merrill Lynch chief executive, put it - is there to "reward talent". While I find this notion of "talent" debatable, I fully agree that incentives are the heart of capitalism and free markets - but certainly not that incentive scheme.

In fact, the incentive scheme commonly in place does the exact opposite of what an "incentive" system should be about: it encourages a certain class of risk-hiding and deferred blow-up. It is the reason banks have never made money in the history of banking, losing the equivalent of all their past profits periodically - while bankers strike it rich. Furthermore, it is that incentive scheme that got us in the current mess.

Monbiot: Cutting consumption is more important than limiting population

Population growth is but one factor contributing to pressures on resources and environmental damage. So why is it a hobby horse for so many?

Homes can generate, sell electricity

Energy Minister Eamon Ryan today announced measures to encourage the on-site generation of electricity in homes and farms across Ireland.

Among the measures is a guaranteed price of 19 cent per kilowatt hour of electricity produced.

This competitive feed-in tariff will apply to the first 4,000 micro-generation installations countrywide over the next three years.

GM loses $9.6 billion

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- General Motors posted a $9.6 billion net loss in the fourth quarter, a period in which its sales plunged and it needed a federal bailout to avoid filing for bankruptcy.

The company also disclosed that it burned through $6.2 billion in cash during the last three months of the year. The company ended the quarter with cash of $14 billion.

Ukraine, Russia face March gas crisis: report

MOSCOW (AFP) — Russian energy giant Gazprom has warned it will again cut off gas to Ukraine on March 8 if the country does not pay back 400 million dollars of new debts, a newspaper report said Thursday.

The Kommersant daily said the head of Gazprom's finance department, Andrei Kruglov, had warned a board of directors meeting the day earlier of his concerns about Ukraine's ability to pay February's bills.

"If 400 million dollars is not paid on March 7, then on March 8 once again we will have to cut off gas to Ukraine," an unnamed participant in the meeting quoted him as saying, the paper said.

Power shortages get worse in Central Asia

ALMATY, Kazakhstan (AP) — Kazakhstan announced Thursday it was pulling out of the Central Asian power grid to protect its energy supplies, a move that forced rolling blackouts and electricity rationing on Kyrgyzstan, its tiny, power-starved neighbor.

Kazakhstan said it had to withdraw from the power grid because Tajikistan — another small and cash-strapped Central Asian nation — was taking more energy from the grid than it was producing, threatening to disrupt supplies in Kazakhstan.

"As of Feb. 26, Tajik state energy company has made unscheduled use of 84 million kilowatt hours of electricity," the state-owned Kazakhstan Electricity Grid Operating Company said.

Zambia trims power supply to mines as demand falls

LUSAKA (Reuters) - Zambia's sole power distributor to the copper mines has cut supply by 15 percent to match lower demand from the mines as metals prices fall, a company official said on Thursday.

High oil price takes its toll of business

ISLAMABAD: High oil prices have affected business and economic activities in the country by substantially increasing the cost of doing business and making exports uncompetitive in the world markets apart from sending inflation to record highs while making common man’s life miserable.

The crude facts on oil and gas prices

With all the cutbacks in oil exploration, could there be a shortage of petroleum when the economy finally recovers?

That is certainly possible, and some economists think a shortage will eventually generate a spike in crude oil prices that could rival last year's jump.

In a recent report, CIBC World Markets economists Jeffrey Rubin and Peter Buchanan say that global demand for crude oil will fall about 1 per cent this year, and this (along with the precipitous fall in prices) will cause an enormous drop in the exploration and development of new oil projects.

Ice in east Antarctica a bigger threat long term

The report doesn't forecast immediate Antarctic disasters because of global warming. Scientists point out, however, that if the western ice sheet ever collapsed completely, it would add some 7 meters to sea levels worldwide.

East Antarctica's ice appears more stable than the west's — "I wouldn't say it's stable, but more stable," said Neumann — but it has the theoretical potential to add some 200 feet (60 meters) to sea levels in centuries to come, scientists say. Even a small, more immediate shift here could raise oceans significantly.

Study Finds Unprecedented Growth in Climate Change Lobbying

A new report from the Center for Public Integrity reveals that the number of global warming lobbyists has increased by more than 300 percent in the past five years. In the past year some 770 companies hired over 2,000 climate change lobbyists and spent an estimated $90 million to influence federal policy on climate change. We speak to the report’s lead author, Marianne Lavelle.

Water crisis alert in Middle East

The Middle East has five per cent of the world's population, but possesses only 1 per cent of renewable fresh water, an expert said.

According to the World Bank, renewable water will also decline by 50 per cent by 2050, said Saudi Aramco community services executive director Mazen Snobar.

Intel Says Cheap Computing Is the Answer to Cutting Energy

The way that Intel (INTC) Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Sean Maloney talked up energy efficiency at the Cleantech Forum in San Francisco this afternoon, one could easily have mistaken the world’s largest chip maker for a firm tinkering with the power grid. But there are connections between microprocessors and energy consumption — Maloney said that computing power is now cheap enough to be able to help old-skool industries like manufacturing, construction and transportation do the bulk of their design processes virtually, cutting the energy expended to create physical models.

Oil: How Low Can It Go?

As OPEC cuts output and oil companies shelve expansion programs, an oil shortage is coming, says Matthew Simmons. He is founder of Simmons & Co, an investment bank catering to the energy industry.

"Within the next few months, we'll have a sharp rebound in price," he said. "[Oil companies] don't have projects in the mill that can get them ahead of their blind curve. In measurable stocks, we're basically as tight as a drum. Unless we have a sharp rebound fast, we'll have an ever-steadier liquidation of useable petroleum stocks until it finally leads to shortages. "

Simmons estimates that serious shortages could quickly triple or quadruple the price within the next two years--and after that all bets are off. "Somewhere in the next two to five years, $500 a barrel," he said.

Oil rises on hopes drop in US demand is slowing

SINGAPORE – Oil prices rose above $42 a barrel Thursday in Asia as a lower-than-expected U.S. crude inventory increase sparked investor optimism that the collapse in demand may be slowing.

Benchmark crude for April delivery climbed 48 cents to $42.98 a barrel by afternoon in Singapore on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained $2.54 on Wednesday to settle at $42.50.

Are Gasoline & Crude Oil Price Patterns Actually Diverging?

Recently, we at EIA have received many inquiries about why gasoline retail prices have been rising compared to the New York Mercantile Exchange’s (NYMEX’s) reported price of crude oil. The national media have also run several prominent stories on this divergence in prices. In particular, EIA’s reported average retail price of regular gasoline in the United States rose from $1.61 to $1.96 between December 29th and February 16th. During the same period, NYMEX’s most reported price for crude oil was volatile, but had no clear upward trend. So what’s going on?

Energy companies see challenging 2009

The energy sector has been hit hard by a sell-off in oil and gas prices and the global credit crunch, forcing many companies to cut their 2009 spending and trim output to protect profit margins.

UAE cuts oil supplies

The United Arab Emirates' official news agency says the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company has announced it will cut oil shipments to customers starting in April, a move aimed at shoring up crude prices as the global downturn eats away at demand.

WAM reported Thursday that ADNOC will enact 15 to 17 percent cuts in supplies of its various crude grades, including Murban.

Iraq signs oil deal to boost production

An Iraqi Oil Ministry official says the country has signed a joint oil project with a British-based company in one of the largest deals since the U.S.-led invasion.

Amman Zouain says the state-run Iraqi Drilling Co. will hold 51 percent of the venture with Mesopotamia Petroleum Co. The deal was signed Thursday and will have an initial capital investment of $90 million.

Repsol Earnings Drop 11% on Lower Oil Price, Output

(Bloomberg) -- Repsol YPF SA, Spain’s largest oil company, said adjusted fourth-quarter profit fell 11 percent as crude prices slumped and production dropped.

Dvorkovich Says Russia to ‘Live Through’ 2009 Without Borrowing

(Bloomberg) -- The Russian government has sufficient oil fund reserves to “live through this year without borrowing,” said Arkady Dvorkovich, an economic adviser to President Dmitry Medvedev.

The government is in “no hurry” to sell bonds, though it plans to “monitor the market closely,” Dvorkovich said in an interview on Bloomberg Television in Moscow. “If market conditions will improve, then the government will start borrowing.”

Costa Rica’s Bid to Join Chavez Alliance Delayed by Oil Slump

(Bloomberg) -- Costa Rica’s bid to join Venezuela’s Petrocaribe alliance, which provides subsidized oil to Central American and Caribbean countries, has been delayed by the plunge in crude prices, Costa Rican President Oscar Arias said.

“I haven’t heard of Petrocaribe for the last few months, and don’t really know where it stands these days,” Arias said yesterday in an interview at the presidential palace in San Jose. “We need to ask Chavez if is he’s willing to continue with it.”

Nigerian militants: repelled army attack on camp

LAGOS, Nigeria: Nigeria's main militant group said it repelled military forces attacking one of its camps Thursday in the restive southern region of Africa's biggest petroleum producer.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said in an e-mail statement that three gunboats filled with army troops attacked the camp around dawn, but that militant reinforcements were called in to fend off the government soldiers.

Canadian firm may have cure for oil sands headache

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Alan Fair had been trying to solve the problem of oil sands tailings on and off for three decades, when 500 ducks died after landing on a pond of the waste at Syncrude Canada Ltd's Alberta site last spring.

Then the quest became more crucial for Fair, Syncrude's research and development manager. The incident attracted global criticism of the environmental impact of Canada's oil sands.

Co-op backs Canadian oil fight

MANCHESTER-based Co-operative Financial Services said today it was backing legal action by Canada's Beaver Lake Cree Nation in its fight to stop tar sand developments by oil giants including Shell, BP and ExxonMobil.

Virgin America hangs as its hedge fund owners get antsy

Its planes are packed with travelers who love its affordable, hip service. Still, 19-month-old Virgin America might be the most endangered airline in the USA.

Virgin America lost $227 million in its first 12 months of operation, far more than expected, thanks largely to last year's historic run-up in fuel prices. And now, the U.S. hedge funds that own 75% of the airline could be reaching for the rip cord on British billionaire Richard Branson's foray into the U.S. domestic market.

GM is running on fumes

GM's fourth quarter results and February's auto sales are likely to increase the need for the struggling automaker to get new loans in order to avoid bankruptcy.

How long until Ford also needs bailout?

So how is it that Ford, a company that was near bankruptcy during better times a few years ago, now has Detroit's deepest pockets? The answer is that CEO Alan Mulally had very good timing.

A little more than two years ago, Ford secured a $23 billion line of credit to fund its now-scrambled turnaround, then called "The Way Forward." Arranged by Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan Securities, and Citigroup, the massive deal securitized and then hocked almost all of the company's North American assets, including the Ford logo. Even at the peak of the credit bubble, Ford's double-down strategy was viewed as reckless. All three major rating agencies downgraded Ford's debt after the deal was announced.

Expect more hard-times car incentives

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Hyundai created something truly novel with the "Hyundai Assurance" sales incentive it announced at the beginning of 2009: An auto sales incentive that seems to actually be working.

Last month, just after the Assurance program was announced, Hyundai had the largest sales increase of any automaker, and it was one of only three with any increase at all. While sales plummeted 37% industry-wide, Hyundai's were up by more than 14% compared to January of last year.

As Latvian economy falters, unrest grows

Kalnins was one of a 1,000-strong army of angry farmers who blocked the capital of Riga with their tractors this month, leading Latvia's agriculture minister to resign.

Latvia, a former Soviet republic sandwiched between Lithuania and Estonia, has been wracked by demonstrations in recent weeks over its imperiled economy. In January, an initially peaceful gathering of some 10,000 descended into rioting when, a handful of protesters, after the crowd had mostly dispersed, attacked police and looted stores. About 40 people were injured in Latvia's worst violence since the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Protests deepen Pakistani political turmoil

ISLAMABAD – Anti-government demonstrators attacked banks and shops and lawmakers scuffled with police amid gathering political turmoil Thursday triggered by a court ruling barring two opposition leaders from elected office.

The conflict comes as Pakistan's pro-Western government faces strong U.S. pressure to crack down on Taliban and al-Qaida militants and a punishing economic crisis.

Okehampton follows Todmorden on road to self-sufficency

Residents of the Devon town of Okehampton could be forgiven for thinking the Dartmoor pixies have come down off the moor for a bit of mischief.

All over the town plots of derelict land are being transformed into thriving gardens, and there are apple trees growing on a roundabout.

But the real cause is far from supernatural. A local group, Growing Our Future, has acquired 16 sites in the town and is using them to inspire locals to become more self-sufficient by growing their own food – and enjoying themselves in the process.

Bartering booms during economic tough times

Even though Ron Giesler, 42, lost his job wiring oil rigs three weeks ago, the Seabrook, Texas, resident is still working as an electrician. He's just getting paid in trade: laptops, computer parts and other used goods.

When Christine Rietsch, 41, of Fridley, Minn., had her hours cut, she got creative so her two children could have a merry Christmas. She drew a portrait of a man's wife and son and received the Guitar Hero video game in return.

Giesler and Rietsch are among a growing number of people turning to bartering to help them survive the recession. In barter, people trade goods and services without exchanging money.

Number of households with kids hits new low

The percentage of American households with children under 18 living at home last year hit the lowest point — 46% — in half a century, government data reported Wednesday.

The trend reflects the aging of the Baby Boom generation and younger women having fewer children, demographers say.

Obama's energy future

During his run for the White House, Barack Obama pledged to transform the way Americans produce and consume energy. Such promises come cheap on the campaign trail. In the real world they cost money and political capital. This week, in his speech to Congress, Obama made clear that he is ready to spend both to combat climate change and reduce this country's dependence on fossil fuels.

Ignoring trains puts U.S. on the wrong track

The truth is that when it comes to rail transport, from subways to transcontinental lines, Americans haven't made much palpable improvement, at least not compared with our friends and competitors in Europe and Asia. It is as though we got fixed in amber someplace between the 1920s and the 1960s with our big cars, our slow trains and our crowded, legroom-challenged skies.

And while the rest of the world forges ahead with new and better ways of moving people from place to place - namely on super-fast trains - we are waiting in the tunnel for the train ahead to cross.

Old power lines block road to renewable energy

WASHINGTON - Across the Great Plains the wind blows incessantly, while in the remote Nevada desert the sun bears down without relief. Each holds the potential of a vast new energy resource.

While wind turbine and solar projects are ready to capture this new, eco-friendly energy source, where are the transmission lines to get the power to where it is needed?

Weak oil and imports turn EU biofuel boom to gloom

PARIS (Reuters) - European euphoria over biofuel has ended after slumping oil prices and cheap imports battered the sector last year, while the credit crisis has made the outlook even gloomier.

Producers say the fall in oil prices at a far quicker pace than agricultural costs has endangered the sector by slashing margins, although conditions differ between countries depending on the amount and means of government aid.

Duke Energy, BlackRock Back Obama Push to Cap, Trade Carbon

Bloomberg) -- Duke Energy Corp. and investors such as BlackRock Inc., the biggest publicly traded asset manager in the U.S., today backed President Barack Obama’s push for a “market-based cap” on greenhouse gas emissions.

After Obama appeal, Congress renews efforts on climate change

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US lawmakers this week took up the issue of climate change and how to address it after President Barack Obama made an impassioned plea for action on fighting global warming.

But even as the Senate and House of Representatives convened experts Wednesday who presented scientific bases for global warming, some scientists and political experts voiced skepticism over the need to combat climate change and the likelihood of passing any such legislation this year.

Australia seeks to cut animal gas emissions

SYDNEY (AFP) – The Australian government has announced a multi-million dollar investment in research on reducing gas emissions from farm animals as part of the fight against global warming.

Methane gas from livestock flatulence accounts for about 12 percent of the country's annual greenhouse gas emissions, Agriculture Minister Tony Burke said as he launched the 26.8 million dollar (17.4 million US dollar) project.

Rich nation 2020 greenhouse cuts seen about 15 percent

OSLO (Reuters) – Rich nations have converged on targets of around 15 percent for cutting greenhouse gases by 2020, but recession across much of the world could impede efforts to agree a new U.N. climate pact by the end of the year.

Cuts of 15 percent from current levels would fall short of reductions advised by scientists, but the recession is limiting government ambitions, analysts say.

Greenwash: Why 'clean coal' is the ultimate climate change oxymoron

The people who told us for years that climate change was a myth now say it's all true – but something called 'clean coal' can fix it. This is pure and utter greenwash.

CO2 rise in atmosphere accelerates in 2008

LONDON (Reuters) - Increases in the amount of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere accelerated last year, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) told Reuters on Wednesday.

The new data may dampen hopes that a slowdown in industrial output and carbon emissions, which started at the end of last year, will temporarily deflect climate change.

Some analysts had hoped that recession would give the world breathing space to reverse its impact on the climate. The new NOAA data showed that levels of carbon dioxide accelerated slightly last year.

N. Atlantic climate shift see-saws on South: study

OSLO (Reuters) - Any abrupt climate changes in the North Atlantic region have a quick see-saw effect on the South Atlantic and affect weather around the globe rather than just locally, scientists said on Wednesday.

A study of ocean sediments from the last Ice Age in the South Atlantic backed theories that a sudden cooling or warming of the Northern Hemisphere causes an opposite effect in the south, they said.

World lags in breeding climate-proof crops: experts

OSLO (Reuters) - The world is running out of time to develop new seed varieties to confront climate change and head off food shortages that could affect billions of people, experts said.

Marking the first anniversary on Thursday of the opening of a "doomsday" seed vault on the island of Spitsbergen in the Norwegian Arctic, they said that people in Africa and Asia were most at risk from a lack of climate-proof crops.

How to survive the coming century

ALLIGATORS basking off the English coast; a vast Brazilian desert; the mythical lost cities of Saigon, New Orleans, Venice and Mumbai; and 90 per cent of humanity vanished. Welcome to the world warmed by 4 °C.

Clearly this is a vision of the future that no one wants, but it might happen. Fearing that the best efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions may fail, or that planetary climate feedback mechanisms will accelerate warming, some scientists and economists are considering not only what this world of the future might be like, but how it could sustain a growing human population. They argue that surviving in the kinds of numbers that exist today, or even more, will be possible, but only if we use our uniquely human ingenuity to cooperate as a species to radically reorganise our world.

The good news is that the survival of humankind itself is not at stake: the species could continue if only a couple of hundred individuals remained. But maintaining the current global population of nearly 7 billion, or more, is going to require serious planning.

"Jobless claims jump unexpectedly".

Really? Unexpected? To whom?

  • http://finance.yahoo.com/news/667K-new-jobless-claims-apf-14476793.html
  • A random error would "unexpectedly" be high or low 50% of the time. When all errors are on the low side, generally with prior-period revisions upward, it smacks of purposeful sugar-coating to me.

    "Unexpected" is to gov't estimates today what the phrase "Nobody could have foreseen" was to the crash last year -- glossing-over of perfectly predictable consequences of perfectly purposeful gov't policies.

    Initial claims hit a 26-year high, and continuing claims hit an all-time high. Not sure why the experts were expecting an improvement over last week's numbers.

    There is also always a comment about "but the workforce is twice as big now as in 1982" or such. Of course that is another symptom of the decline of our civilization since then, since much of that growth was due to two-worker households rather than simple population growth.

    My wife and I are talking about collapsing purposefully to one salary again. We liked our life better when we last had that sort of household, and with marginal tax increases looming, lowering our taxable footprint makes sense too. Why work just to fund the government?

    A lot of families are making some tough choices now.

    How we're going to save more

    There's been much wringing of hands lately about the conspicuous overconsumption of the 1990s and early 2000s. Many people feel that we're simply being punished for buying all those flat-screen TVs. Maybe we could appease the angry money gods with a bonfire of surplus Prada bags.

    But guess what. Most Americans really weren't unusually self-indulgent. At the height of the boom, Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard Law School expert on bankruptcy and consumer debt, crunched the numbers. In 2005 the median-income family was spending substantially less of its income on clothing, appliances and food - even after including meals out - than families did in 1972. If it seems as though your closets have filled up with trinkets and baubles, that's partly because that stuff got a lot cheaper relative to incomes. Where the spending really grew was in the big fixed costs, including mortgages, health care, child care and college tuition.

    The author and his wife will be giving up private school for their kids.

    Houses are a lot bigger now, though. So are cars, even economy cars. I parked my mini Honda Fit next to an old Civic and the new model was much larger than the old one...and the new Civic is bigger still -- bigger than an old Accord used to be.

    Insurance, healthcare, college and private school certainly do take a bite, though!

    Houses are bigger, but also more shoddily made. Contractors say it's because they expect people to either move or remodel within 13 years, so there's no reason for the house to be built to last longer than that.

    And I doubt cars are bigger. American cars were huge before the mid-'70s oil crisis. Fewer SUVs, maybe, but even poor people drove monster 8-cylinder station wagons and sedans.

    Average cars maybe not, but you could absolutely find cheap, tiny cars from '70 through the mid '80s. Suburbans and trucks were big then too, but not as prevalent. Vans were bigger, though.

    Shoddy and expensive -- expensive to buy, not necessarily to build. I continue to see arguments that house prices shouldn't necessarily reflect construction costs -- that's ludicrous to me. When did house construction turn into an investment/return industry versus a service industry?

    Build your own house by hand, home-school your children, sell the car, grow a garden, and don't get sick -- the formula for a least-cost modern existence?

    You could find cheap, tiny cars, but what was the point? A big, used car was cheaper and safer, and gas cost about a quarter a gallon, so wasn't even a consideration for most people.

    In any case, Warren isn't saying that we aren't getting more for our money now, at least in some cases. She's saying that overall, we aren't spending more than our parents.

    Lumber today is of poorer quality than it was in the past. It's hard to find clear (knot free) lumber anymore, as old growth timber has become depleted & the tiny remaining portion is often protected. This is a major contributor to shoddy construction.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but old growth timber did not "become depleted". People -- particularly greedy people at that -- cut it down. The passive voice is a shoddy veil for moral failure.

    When I say "has become depleted" what other explanation for the depletion of old growth timber can be inferred other than that greedy people cut it down? A mass invasion of beavers or termites? Must I tediously spell everything out in explicit detail?

    I know this sounds incredible ironic, but HomeDepot and Lowes usually seem to have stacks of straight lumber and refined woods. I've been told this is because they order so many board feet, that part of their contracts with wholesalers states HD and L get the best pieces first. Then the remains are bundled up and shipped to the mom and pops.

    As for knots? All wood has knots in it. The table I have my feet up upon, which I made myself, has plenty of beautiful knots in it. I went out of my way to make sure whole knots were included when I selected the boards. They do make knot free wood. It's called laminates. However, even most laminates include knots in the pattern because of the beauty and authenticity. Same with leather. They make perfect leather too. It's called Vinyl.

    Construction workers use whatever is on the pallete. Craftsmen will spent an hour dismantling a pallete looking for just the right piece. And sometimes an ugly six foot board has a five foot section which is absolutely perfect. And sometimes you plane off a few sixteenths and find your perfect board is rotted. Such is the life of the woodworker.

    And when you think about how truly cheap processed lumber is (you try making a warehouse full of decent woods in a variety of ratings for a few bucks a piece) it's pretty amazing what a volumne business like HD can perform. Wood is another example of the power of fossil fuels.

    As for wood being the cause of shoddy construction? Well tell that to my friend Dave. He can make a fine walking stick out of a pile of half-chewed toothpikes. Poor workmanship begins with poor worker.

    Sheet metal studs. Better building codes. More people caring about what they live in and how it is made. All those things can answer your poor wood quaility.

    Building became a fast paced race to get the next Mansion done for the lowest cost for the Highest price of sale. That is a method to make poor workmenship a habit and hiring the lowest waged workers does not help matters.

    You do not have to build everything with wood, you can do a lot of buildings without wood than you might think.

    There are also a lot of newer fast growing species that do not have the bad Knot problems that soft wood pines have in them.



    I found the formula for a "least-cost modern existence" includes emigrating out of the USA. In other countries there is an infrastructure that allows bicycles, buses, trains and walking. I commute to my job at a university by 11-year old Miyata bicycle. (Or I can take a bus for about $2 one way.) My husband and I have not bought any cars since we moved here 14 years ago---saving hundreds of thousands of dollars I guess--we have no plans to ever buy a car or own one yet thanks to all the trains we are fully mobile. There is national healthcare and federally-supported daycare. Public schools are very good. I have spent lots of time in Europe ---many of my relatives live there-- and it's not that different from here (Japan).

    Only America is different. It's a kind of outlier in high energy use and in its transportation options. I lived in the USA for many years (part of that time was in a city where I didn't need a car but was afraid of all the guns there and being shot accidentally) and I do not like cars or driving so it was obviously the wrong country for me (I didn't choose it). Luckily I could leave while I was still relatively young (30) and now I'm enjoying my freedom to not own or drive a car or pay for anything to do with cars. It's funny---despite all the discussions about Americans having so much "freedom"---actually when one lives in the US one's hands are tied. I feel much freer on my Miyata here, ironically in a country where few politicians ever discuss "freedom" much.........

    Only America is different. It's a kind of outlier in high energy use and in its transportation options. ... It's funny---despite all the discussions about Americans having so much "freedom"---actually when one lives in the US one's hands are tied. I feel much freer on my Miyata here, ironically in a country where few politicians ever discuss "freedom" much.........


    This is a clear & remarkable observation


    There's nothing like a bicycle for that "king of the road" feeling, I'd ridden and driven all kind of things from horse to sailboat to motorcycle to car, truck, van, airplane ..... None of 'em beat being in shape riding a good bicycle, feeling that power in your legs, it's the closest a human being can feel to being a falcon.

    Too bad almost everywhere in the US is so bicycle-unfriendly.

    Road bicycles, cross-country skate skis, 5-wheel roller blades on a smooth road, a kayak also fit the bill.

    Thank you and to take it one step further try this (somewhat mischieviously conceived) mental exercise:

    You are an American living in America. You suddenly decide to leave the US and you liquidate your assets and go to the airport where you simply take the first plane that leaves the good ol' USA. It doesn't matter where it is going: Paris, Shanghai, Rome, Singapore, Dublin, anywhere. You go there. You land and then you start managing your affairs as well as you can. You have certain skills and a certain education. You maybe have to start studying the language, maybe on the cheap. You might make job contacts and leave for provincial areas or you might hate the place and try another country (you're not allowed to go back to the USA)..........Well, in short, my contention is that you will probably do better ---a few years on--- than you would have had you stayed in the good ol' USA. Just because of the infrastructure. Just because of the basic healthcare probably available to anyone. Just because villages will be available and you can go to one where you can probably make friends and start working at something productive. Just because by taking one long flight you'll lower your per capita oil consumption by something like half. So try it, anyone out there, if you are into trying new cultures and new ways of life. Think of it as an adventure....

    ........Well, in short, my contention is that you will probably do better ---a few years on--- than you would have had you stayed in the good ol' USA. Just because of the infrastructure. Just because of the basic healthcare probably available to anyone.

    I wish I had learned this thirty years ago. At 57 I figure it is too late for such a move.


    Don't sell yourself short. As long as you're not pushing up daisies, it is never too late.

    The adjustment can be more challenging as one gets older, but as long as you don't take the USA baggage with you, people are surprisingly accommodating and you could easily add years to your life, or life to your remaining years.

    Having moved from the US to Spain 4+ years ago, I can say I feel a lot 'freer' too than when I go back to visit the US. All countries have laws, many of them stupid and many of them useful. Many laws are necessary for a smoothly-functioning society and I understand that. What stands out in the US is the unbending, relentless and aggressive enforcement of all laws - even the stupid ones - usually by armed officers. My Spanish friends can't believe some of my stories - their TV illusion of America The Free is shattered when they hear how nit-picky and oppressively our laws are enforced.

    Contractors say it's because they expect people to either move or remodel within 13 years, so there's no reason for the house to be built to last longer than that.

    No reason? Resale? So we should see a huge fix-it program starting sometime in the next decade. Exactly when we'll have the resources to support such an expense.

    Import cars of the 70s would probably have been smaller - before they were remodelled and produced from US-based plants. In Europe even now it is still surprising to see how small the old Minis, Fiat 500s and Fiat 126s from that generation are. Even the Smart Car is only just shorter than these old versions, and they had the advantage of having 4 seats vs. 2 in the Smart Car. Ok - the leg room was not so great, but the 126 would get me and my colleagues to the rugby games. Two of them were around 6'4" so it worked best if they sat in the front with the sun roof up!

    Actually, building codes are much tougher today than forty years ago, certainly in CA. It used to be that a couple of diagonal straps were sufficient for a wall's shear capacity, now houses are sheathed in 3/8 ply, and nailing requirements are more extensive and more specific... floors used to be planks nailed to joists, now they are tongue and groove both nailed and glued. Modern structures might be a 100x more rigid, certainly in their ability to withstand wind and earthquake. Similarly, my first house in CA had no insulation in the walls at all and not much in the ceiling, now houses are quite tight. Double pane windows are also the norm. Copper supply pipes and modern plastic drain lines are far improved over earlier cast iron and earlier plastics.

    No doubt builders cut corners with cheap kitchen and bath selections, but just because a towel holder falls apart does not mean the house is shoddily made compared with what was typical or even top drawer a generation or so ago.

    Insurance, healthcare, college and private school certainly do take a bite, though!

    Insurance -- much of it is misleading, even fraudulent and unnecessary. Some of it is nothing but a criminal protection racket.

    "healthcare" -- bloated, inefficient, corrupt. U.S. could easily do as well with about 1/4 of what we spend currently -- except that it accounts for 1/6th of the economy, and the political will to reform is absent.

    college -- once there were great public universities even in the USA which cost the students very little and didn't didn't impoverish the taxpayer, either. Such things could come back -- if there were the political will. The current institutions have moved a long way from their origins, however, and will have to reform. Hah Hah Hah.

    private schools -- great when they are only for the elite, or run by religious orders. When the average person gives up the dream of a public education for all -- that is the end of the Republic.

    This "economic collapse" could potentially be a good thing if we hit the reset button and build something new. I hope it doesn't just plunge us into another bloody French style revolution and class war.

    I've been saying that the 21st century will be one long exercise in giving up things.

    2009 is going to one short exercise in given up things are my house. I always said I would run with the current system until it blew up and cash out.

    Here is a small list of current possessions I have which won't be with me in a year and won't matter to me in the least.

    2008 Mercedes SLK Roadster.
    2007 Kawasaki Concours GTR
    2007 40' Diesel Luxury Motorhome
    2006 Prius ( I perfer to just bicycle most places ).
    House ?

    I'm keeping my two vans because I need the wheelchair lifts.

    I hear a lot of people whine about given up stuff, but I'm finding it quite liberating.

    I did just purchase a 26" electric bicycle conversion kit. And I'm also getting a 3 person pedicab to haul my family up to the store. I might put the electric hub on that. And my wife has artificial legs, so I'm going to get a heavy duty electric scooter and a hand-powered cycle. That will bring my bike collection to 8.

    All of this is just stuff. However, my family has the flu right now, and I'm as happy as anything to be able to stay home and take care of everyone. (Unemployment does have some advantages)

    In case you haven't guessed, I'm not exactly resource constrained. I saved heavily during the good times and I have a huge (5-10 year) buffer.

    My point in this post is that while statistically my standard of living is taking a 60% haircut, I not only don't feel 60% poorer. In fact, I feel better off than ever. 50 hours a month running, biking, and swimming has really calmed me down and I sleep MUCH better.

    So, if your socially excepted standard of living is giong down, I say enjoy it while you can. With any luck, you'll lose everything and can finally go get that $10 an hour job driving the food bank truck.

    Of course, this is all subject to change should the economy rebound and another high priced job offer were to appear.

    From Beverly Hills to shoveling manure on a farm

    Leah Bird and her husband, Ed Wright, have traded their comfortable two-bedroom apartment and jobs in Beverly Hills, California, for life in a trailer on a five-acre Oregon farm.

    ..."It's not necessarily a lifestyle that has ever seemed attractive to me," says 28-year-old Bird, between tending to the farm animals: two sheep, two Nubian goats, miniature horses and geese. "I always saw myself as more of a metropolitan person, but you know, without money, this was our best option."

    Ha - I live in a trailer now on a farm-ish junkyard-ish 5-acre place, in Gilroy. With sheep. Sheep are cool BTW. And yes just about every meal *does* include garlic, thanks for asking.

    Garlic and Lamb. Man o man thats eatin'

    Oh and you all got lots of atrichokes too right? Heaven!

    Hi Fleam,

    I thought you lived in Danville. What's the matter, Gilroy outlets aren't good enough for ya, you have to go up to blackhawk?

    Anyway, I live in Hollister, moved from Morgan Hill. We had Cotswalds. My wife spend her life in 4H and everyone knows her who has chickens and sheep. Her nickname is the Chicken Lady.

    Do you know if we have a local sustainability club or anything like that? Just curious.

    I have no idea where the idea I lived in Danville would come from. I think I may have driven through it, once, years ago.

    The Doomer who has this place had this old trailer, it's pretty 3rd-world so Mnyeah Mnyeah! I'm ahead of the curve! I do some chores, the idea is for me to have a safe, stable place after being continually on the move for the last 6 months, and a place to live where I can survive without having to panhandle. I do some chores for rent, essentially. No there is no way in hell I will identify the Doomer doing me this favor, I know how acts of kindness are hated here in the Empire.

    Winter, if you're poor and living marginally, is mainly just a time to survive. Hunker down and try to stay warm, dry, and fed. Assuming this place is as safe and stable as it's purported to be, I can look forward to a harvest of walnuts, acorns, etc various wild foods that I can store for next winter.

    For "cash money" since I dare not leave much of a paper trail, will consist of what odd jobs I can find, and things like going over to Santa Cruz or the Peninsula (sunnyvale, palo alto, mountain view etc.) and doing street performing of various types. I can also work on developing some trade that will be essential when the ships from China stop, making shoes or something.

    The idea is to live cheaply, grow/gather as much of my own food as possible, and basically keep costs down so that what "cash money" I do earn goes to those things that need cash like gas for the bike, insurance etc., some things like soap and shampoo, etc.

    So, for much of the last 6 months my mode of living has been:

    Panhandle --> Spend money on rent and food from Safeway, burger king, etc. --> stay alive

    Now it's:

    Do some chores, plant, harvest, gather etc do actual useful work --> stay alive

    I know how acts of kindness are hated here in the Empire.

    Acutely observed, sir or madam!

    I wish you well. Who knows -- in a few years you might be giving lessons in your new way of life.

    Have you been to the garlic festival? It was fun, once. Not sure I'd do that every year. But we did try the garlic ice cream. Something you don't see every day.

    You could do a lot worse than being in Gilroy. Like being back here, with hardy new england winters that don't mix well with a "mostly outdoors" lifestyle.

    And yes just about every meal *does* include garlic, thanks for asking.

    All that garlic? You should expect to live to 250. Hope the world of 2250 suits you better than todays.

    The author and his wife will be giving up private school for their kids.

    Right on. And one can hope that they will work as hard to make the public school work as they probably did for their kids' private school.

    The last couple of administrations have simply suffocated public education -- it's almost as though it was intentional......

    The nice thing about private school is 80% of the other parents really want the school to work as well.

    The hard thing about public school is that many of the kids and parents really don't care. You can't fix the other families, but you can try to self-sort into a better group -- which is why private schools exist and do more with less money than many public schools.

    Suffocated? Have you seen the increase in school spending over the past 30 years? Inflation adjusted, spending is up considerably and debt is up even more. It's not neglect, it's focus on the wrong issues.

    Since the early 1970s, inflation-adjusted federal spending per pupil has doubled. Over that period, student performance has not markedly improved, according to the long-term National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which is designed to measure historical trends.

  • http://www.heritage.org/research/education/ednotes49.cfm
  • Yes, suffocated. Suffocated by money. Suffocated by good intentions.

    I don't think there was a concerted effort to destroy public education until the Bush years, but the ever-increasing tendency of more "liberal" administrations to make the public schools responsible for righting every wrong in the culture and taking up all slack for negligent or ignorant parents was equally destructive.

    Most of that big increase in spending was in affluent suburban districts where spending per pupil can be 2 to 3 times that of inner city schools. Repugs like to say that more money won't make schools better while at the same time sending their kids to private schools at 5 to 10 times the per pupil spending of public schools. They don't want well educated minorities from the inner city to be future competition for good paying jobs vs their own kids.

    Where do you get this stuff?

    I'd like to send my kids to a 5x or 10x school, but there is no such thing. Here the city pays $7-8K per student, which is double my private school cost. The most expensive private school in town is $15K.

    I'd love to have EVERYBODY be well educated, as I don't want my kids to live in the same world with uneducated idiots.

    Probably when I add my kids events, lunches, and fund-raisers together I'm still $1-2K less than public school. Plus, I still pay more property tax than most.

    Look at how much the Obamas are paying at that private school for their kids. There are Catholic schools where per pupil spending may be lower than some are public schools because the nuns are willing to accept minimum wage. One place where a big difference between inner city and suburban schools is the Grand Rapids MI and East Grand Rapids where Jerry Ford once had a home. There was at least a 2 to 1 difference in per student spending depending on which side if the street you lived on.

    Actually, per pupil spending in private schools tends to be lower than in public schools both inner city and suburban.

    There are plenty of people in the 'burbs for whom the local public schools are there for credentialing, not education, and who indeed don't want minorities coming in. But in private schools that is usually not the case.

    I should note that our private school has an outreach to disadvantaged children as well as a number of international kids. There are no racial issues -- it's more integrated than most public schools on this side of town.

    As long as I don't have to pay someone with the first name of Dr. we are doing better than ever. We shelled out nearly $1200 to get our daughter's wisdom teeth pulled last week.

    While I disagree with some of what the authors of Your Money or Your Life advised, they were perfectly correct in their recommendation that people honestly add up the extra expenses that they incurr as a consequence of their employment, and subtract it from their take home to figure out what they are actually bringing home. I have no doubt that there are some people who are actually paying for the "privilege" of working.

    Especially the hour before work and the hour after.

    Bad meal habits as well. And who's taking care of your shelter
    in the meantime.

    Depending on a lot of factors, I can see collapsing to a one-worker household as a real win. One less car, lower tax bracket etc.

    If the non-worker could garden if you have gardenable land, or access to it, gather, basically become a gardening, gathering, Freegan as much as possible, you'd probably live better than on two incomes. It means the nonworker is not really a nonworker, they're working as hard as at most cash jobs, and should be appreciated and recognized as such,

    I can see it working out really well.

    Depending on a lot of factors, I can see collapsing to a one-worker household as a real win. One less car, lower tax bracket etc.

    If the non-worker could garden if you have gardenable land, or access to it, gather, basically become a gardening, gathering, Freegan as much as possible, you'd probably live better than on two incomes. It means the nonworker is not really a nonworker, they're working as hard as at most cash jobs, and should be appreciated and recognized as such,

    I can see it working out really well.

    This is basically what we stumbled into, when I lost my job, and now are consciously working at. He works the paying job, I do the gardening and food preservation. I gardened off and on for years before, but last year got serious and trained as a master gardener. This year I'm learning to raise chickens. And I'll host a bee hive for a neighbor and start to learn beekeeping.

    Honestly, going down to one car (which we could easily do - within walking distance of my husband's job, biking distance to shopping, etc), not having to buy work clothes, eating out rarely b/c I have time to cook at home (with the added benefit that it's more nutritious), lower tax bracket - I think quantitatively, we're no worse off. And qualitatively, better off - less stress, more free time, better nutrition.


    Whadya know - a larger than expected drop in manufacturing too!

    Separately, U.S. manufacturers saw orders for big-ticket goods plunge by a larger-than-expected 5.2 percent in January as global economic troubles cut demand from customers at home and abroad.

    The latest report on U.S. factory activity, released by the Commerce Department, showed orders falling for a record sixth straight month. The previous record of four months came in 1992.

    And Obama plans a $1.75T budget. And of course the market futures are up!

    Edit: Home sales are down "unexpectedly", but the market is going up!

    new home sales for January came in at an annualized rate of 309,000 units, which is down from the prior reading, which was upwardly revised to show an annualized sales rate of 344,000 units. Economists expected January new home sales to reach a rate of 324,000 units.

    The latest reading puts new home sales at a record low.

    At least the revision for last month was upward -- we're one for 3 on revisions today, I believe.

    Edit: The market ended down, so at least that part was rational. New GDP numbers say 4th quarter was much worse than "previously expected" and just a tad below that of 1982's recessionary drop. We'll see if Obama's grand plan will provide enough Hope and Change to offset the Cold Hard Reality we're seeing in the economy.

    Speaking of "unexpected"... A lot of people I hear (including Ben Bernanke) keep saying that we'll see a recovery in 2010; however, yesterday one Mercer County NJ official (Brian Hughes) said that he expected to see negative (not reduced, but negative) growth in municipal income in 2010 and was planning for it now... or at least that's what I thought I heard on the news yesterday.

    And I "expect" that we'll see a "law of receding expectations" take effect. In 2010, they'll be expecting the recovery in 2011. By 2011, they'll be saying that surely the recovery will come in 2012. In 2012, they'll be saying 2013 for sure. And so on.

    There are many feedback loops that will have to play out before there is any chance of economic recovery. The idea of a V or U recovery is absurd, much less in the next year or two. Even an L will have a downward sloping bottom for several years. Further, my expectation is that the best the "recovery" will be is to stabilize at the new, lower level.


    Actually, I'm betting that we'll be in an "L" for a few years, and then instead of a "recovery" we'll get yet another "L". I'm guessing somewhere around 2012-13 for the next big drop, but I'm less certain about exact timing than I am about the general pattern.

    I don't agree that the L will be flat or sloping down. I think there will forever be "irrational exuberance" and clever schemes plus technical innovation and energy finds which will create mini-recoveries followed by new slam-downs. If markets were capable if gradual slow-downs we wouldn't be where we are today!

    I think we've seen about 5 saw steps of this sort since 1970, and only just now are we really noticing we're at a lower level of existence.

    A recovery (or even a plateau) implies that all issues/feedback loops are at least, temporarily, stabilized. Given the number of issues, I simply don't see that happening. The issues are far greater in number than "the banks", energy and AGW (to pick a few obvious ones).

    As far as tech goes, I don't see that being of much help to stabilizing society. But, that just MO. In the case of irrational exuberance, I'm with Greer in his latest essay - get over it.


    I think the L makes the most sense. But I think it pretty likely that we will overshoot the vertical part. So it might sucker people when they see the bottom of the V or U pass, they will think "recovery to BAU", when I think we will have recovery to a lower level than we started. That way we can probably stay below the oil-supply ceiling (at least for a few more years). What happens after that depends upon whether we can grow some smarts, and prepare for a massive improvemnet in the efficiency with which we use scarce resources, or whether we remain stupid, and ratchet down as the resource ceiling lowers.

    Both "unexpected" and "previous period estimate revision" -- by a half!

    Not only was last month's drop [5.2%] steeper than the 2.5 percent decline analysts expected, but activity in December turned out to be much weaker. Updated figures showed a 4.6 percent drop in orders, versus a 3 percent decline previously estimated.

    You are now watching complete manipulation of
    the markets.

    Why not just say the S&P is at 1200. And be done with it:

    Dave Rovelli, managing director of Canaccord Adams, said the jobless claims and durable goods reports will be the "big catalyst" in morning trading, rather than GM, which "everyone has written off."

    "Prior to the jobless report, Rovelli said the "oversold" stock market is poised for a rally, so long as claims did not exceed 635,000. But later on, they came in much higher than that.

    Economy: The government said that initial jobless claims rose to 667,000 in the week ended Feb. 21, the highest level since October 1982. This exceeded the 625,000 claims that were expected by economists, according to a consensus from Briefing.com.

    Continuing claims, an important measure of the job market, broke the prior week's record with a total of 5.112 million, the government said. The number of people continuing to file for unemployment benefits had hit a record high of 4,987,000 in the week ended Feb. 7.

    The government's latest reading on durable goods orders - a measure of the demand for factory-made products - plunged 5.2% in January. This is more than double the 2.5% decline expected by a consensus from Briefing.com."


    Everything in the above was exceeded in the worst possible way,
    but still the markets stay up 1%, with treasuries rising 10
    basis points to over 3%.

    mcgowanmc -

    Market manipulation or just further evidence of the widening disconnect between 'The Market' and the real economy?

    It doesn't matter how much bad news there is if there are people out there with money to gamble and who believe that our current global economic mess is a great opportunity to collect bargains.

    A good friend of mine decided to pick up some bargains when the dot-com bubble started collapsing. Well, these 'bargain' prices kept on falling and falling, and my friend ultimately suffered a loss well into the six figures.

    However, all of the above in no way disproves the possibility that some big forces could be attempting to keep the sinking market afloat in fear that the whole economy could soon blow out. Oops..... thinking along those lines would constitute a conspiracy theory, and many here believe conspiracies simply don't exist.

    A fool and his money, eh?

    But then I'm scolded for not feeling sorry for
    all those folks losing their homes.

    For not understanding that these people are really trying to do the best thing.

    Meanwhile over in Europe-h/t Jesse's Americain:

    "Although people still think that commercial and investment bankers are primarily to blame, according to the latest FT/Harris poll of European public opinion 74% of respondents think central bankers were entirely or largely responsible (with less than 60% blaming regulators or governments)."

    A similar poll in the States, however, had very different results:

    Q: Who is responsible for the financial crisis sweeping the world?

    34% Whatever is wrong, Obama will save us.

    33% Will they reschedule American Idol because of the President?

    11% Sorry I'm in a hurry to buy 'supplies' and apply for a passport

    22% Can I have a bite of your sandwich?

    One might infer that the Federal Reserve and Wall Street have a much closer relationship with the mainstream media, among other things.

    Precisely. ;}

    You are now watching complete manipulation of the markets.

    I keep hearing this same old saw over and over. Yet no one has stepped up to the plate to explain exactly who is doing it or how it is done. Is the government buying equities and/or futures contracts? Or is it the Fed who is doing all this hanky-panky? And if it is either just how do they go about unloading them without having the opposite effect it had when they purchased them?

    It really rings hollow to keep jabbering about market manipulation without explaining just who is doing it and how they are doing it.


    Saw an ad yesterday to "buy gold now" on the TV....a few weeks ago I saw similar "we buy gold" ads. Somehow it seems that whatever ads I see are opposite the market motion.

    Maybe it's simply hedge funds doing what they do best -- betting on market moves and then using their strength to help it move that way? Looks to me like a big move from gold to stocks, and maybe some short covering. Sell into bailout enthusiasm once it goes up, and then short into the slide once the drama fades?

    I don't think it takes manipulation any more than the market always manipulates itself. It just takes a lot of people hoping the bottom has been reached, and some politicians and newsies who are willing to help them convince themselves of it.

    The ads you saw are private mints, like the Franklin mint, trying to make a mint for themselves by selling gold coins or medallions. There is a tremendous mark up in these items and that is how they make their money, not by manipulating the gold market. The purchase of these coins by the public has very little effect on the overall gold market. And the people trying to rip you off by selling you gold coins are not hedge funds. Hedge funds are not in the retail business.


    Yes, people constantly nag of manipulation, probably because it looks mysterious. They cannot find the reason for market action, so they believe there is some secret force manipulating (as we believed hundreds years ago that comets are act of unpredictable divine intervention).
    Market is by its nature - unpredictable. If it was predictable, you could never make any money (well, almost). All opportunities would be arbitraged and removed. Since you could not make any money, market would cease to exist. Why bother?
    Anyway, it's common for markets to rebound after bigger drops. However, exact moment and level is hard to predict. Cheerleaders on financial television also help to a extent plus government officials who are bullish by nature. I guess.

    "You are now watching complete manipulation of the markets."

    This statement doesn't pass the WTF test. Are you saying that TPTB and the PPT manipulated the market so that it would go down 50%? Who do you think may have authorized protecting BofA to the tune of $3 per share?

    Complete the following statement. "If we lose half of our money and bring the financial system to the brink of collapse, we will benefit by ..."

    If it were possible to manipulate a hundred trillion dollar system, I'm pretty sure the markets would go up .12% every day and would never crash.

    "If we lose half of our money and bring the financial system to the brink of collapse, we will benefit by ..."

    ...ending up owning 90% of the things we don't already own, because we're too big to fail, and the other guys aren't. They'll fail, we pick up their property for next to nothing.

    Recessions concentrate wealth.

    Edit: Two points.

    1. There is no conscious, planned manipulation.
    2. Wealth is measured in control of resources and command of labor power, not necessarily in [insert your currency here].

    Matt Simmons should really stop making these bold predictions about the future, he'll go Kunstler's way if he's not careful.

    Simmons' career & prediction skill is quite impressive from my viewpoint. He seems to be much better than than the combined research staffs of CERA, IHS, EIA, DOE, IEA, MMS, USGS, OPEC.

    Bob - totally agree with you, but I agree with Kiashu as well

    Within the next few months, we'll have a sharp rebound in price,

    What does he know about economy that others do not - AT LEAST for next 6 months, there is 2-3 mbpd spare capacity so a prediction of 'sharp price rebound' is prediction of economic recovery globally. Very few are saying it will happen in next few months. It begins to sound like a crusade. The fact that supply is going to be permanently limited should not blind us to other variables, which there are many. To be clear, I think the decline in next 5-7 years is going to be steeper than even ASPO is forecasting due to stealth EROI cliff and credit crisis - but that doesn't mean prices necessarily have to skyrocket.

    One of the talking heads on CNBC this morning said oil should be $33. There's a glut, and that is likely to continue for several months at least.

    Depends on where our civilization is going.

    1200 AD civilization won't need any oil.

    Getting every American to live like Britney Spears
    will take all that we have.


    Good points.

    However it is hard to argue from the available data that OPEC has not way overshot restraint to the downside.

    This is what happens on the steep part of the P vs Q curve.


    I agree with Nate. A rebound in oil price depends on a rebound in the economy. If the economy keeps on its present course, oil demand will continue to fall, or at least stay around the present price.

    I know that OPEC continues to cut and non-OPEC production is, at best, likely to stagnate if not drop precipitously. But I think demand is likely to drop even further. From 1979 to 1983 world crude oil production dropped a full fifteen percent. That is not peak month to low month but a yearly change. That is, the full year average in 1979 verses the full year average for 1983. The drop in oil production, 2008 to 2009 is likely to be around 3 percent or less. I expect demand to drop at least that amount.

    Oil prices may feint a jump but will fall back as the economy worsens. And I firmly believe that the economy has a long ways before it hits bottom. As someone wrote a month or so ago, the recovery will not be shaped like a V or even a U, it will resemble an L. Perhaps an L with a broken limb, slanting downward.

    Ron Patterson

    I think it will be a sawtooth sloping down....a quick drop followed by a slow rise followed by another deeper drop and rise...repeat.

    Something like this...
    The Staircase Model


    "Somewhere in the next two to five years, $500 a barrel," he said.

    Regarding oil prices being dependent on a rebound in the economy, I'm not so sure. Again, it appears that oil consumption in the Thirties only fell one year, in 1930, followed by rising consumption. And in constant dollar terms (the only price data I have), oil prices rose at an average rate of +11%/year from 1931 to 1937. In this same time frame, the US went from finding its largest Lower 48 oil field, capable of meeting about one fifth of worldwide demand at that time, to zero net oil exports in only 18 years--1930 to 1948.

    In five years, our middle case is that the top five net oil exporters will be down to net exports of about 15 mbpd (down about 40%), versus about 24 mbpd in 2005. More importantly, our middle case is that by the end of 2013, the top five's post-2005 cumulative net oil exports will be about 60% depleted.

    This pattern of the net export depletion rate exceeding an accelerating net export decline rate is exactly what we saw in Indonesia. Two years after their final production peak in 1996, their net exports were down by 9%, but their post-1996 cumulative net oil exports were 44% depleted--in two years (note that this is not an estimate; these are actual EIA numbers). In 1998, when Indonesia showed a year over year incease in net exports, they shipped 22% of their post-1996 cumulative net oil exports.

    I agree, WT. As you say, "Depletion marches on." At current production rates, the world is sucking up an East Texas Field about every three months (off-the-cuff calc). It also appears that demand in the US is recovering somewhat. I think one has to allow for the possibility that oil prices could spike even with the ongoing econopocalypse. This next spike would likely smash the global economy downward even further, causing yet another oil-price crash. The jagged stair-step effect, as paleocon mentioned.



    Here are the remaining post-1996 cumulative net oil exports by year from Indonesia and the annual rate of depletion in post-1996 cumulative net exports (EIA, final production peak, 1996, final year of net exports, 2003).

    Year/Remaining Post-1996 Cum. Net Exports at year-end (mb)/Year over Year Rate of Change in Remaining Cumulative Net Oil Exports

    1996 1,114 mb
    1997 / 905/ -23.8% per year
    1998 / 646 / -33.7*
    1999 / 425/ -41.9
    2000 / 245 / -55.1
    2001 / 115 / -75.6
    2002 / 37 / -113.4
    2003 0

    *Year over year increase in net oil exports (+6.3%/year).

    This middle column is very much analogous to the gas gauge in your car. It shows the remaining volume of (net) exported petroleum liquids. And the third column shows the rate at which the gas gauge falls from year to year. When Indonesia boosted their 1998 net exports at +6.3%/year, they shipped close to 30% of their remaining net oil exports (a depletion rate of -33.7%/year).

    And here are the Year over Year Rate of Changes in Remaining post-2005 Cumulative Net Oil Exports from the top five:

    2006: -7.3%/year
    2007: -7.4%/year
    2008: -8.3%/year*

    *Based on production data through 9/08 and based on estimated consumption data.

    These are my estimates (based on Khebab's work); Khebab is getting me some more accurate year to year numbers, but in round numbers, our middle case is that the top five have already shipped about one-fifth of their post-2005 cumulative net oil exports.

    A picture is worth a thousand words. From the Energy Export Databrowser:

    -- Jon

    That is a beauty, Jon! It joins my collection.

    Re: N. Atlantic climate shift see-saws on South: study

    About the story regarding the report in NATURE:

    Barker said the Gulf Stream carried warm waters north in what he called "heat piracy" from the south. A slowdown would mean more heat stayed in the Southern Hemisphere -- cooling the north and warming the south...

    I disagree. The Earth's energy distribution is uneven. There's more sunlight hitting the tropics than the poles over the year and thus there is a massive transport of energy from the tropics to the pole. The result is the weather we see, especially during Winter, when the contrast is greatest. A large fraction of the energy is transported by ocean currents such as the Gulf Stream and it's northern branch which makes up the THC.

    If the THC slows or stops, the rest of the Gulf Stream would continue, but would not flow as far into the North Atlantic. What would happen to that energy is a key question. I think one result would be an increase in the amount of energy moved toward the Poles by way of the atmospheric circulation. One result would be increased wind speeds and another would be increased storm intensity as the air would likely carry more moisture as well as sensible heat energy in the form of higher temperatures. While the areas around the North Atlantic which are warmed now would cool, it's not clear that the other high latitude areas of the Northern Hemisphere would also cool. Besides, the other side of the problem is that there would be local heating at higher latitudes due to increasing greenhouse gases. The net effect might be that the cooling would simply offset the impact of warming of Northern Europe, according to recent experiments with the latest climate models.

    E. Swanson

    "If the THC slows or stops, the rest of the Gulf Stream would continue, but would not flow as far into the North Atlantic. What would happen to that energy is a key question. I think one result would be an increase in the amount of energy moved toward the Poles by way of the atmospheric circulation."

    CAT 6 storms become normal.

    NOGC slides into the MS Canyon. Fishing stocks collapse.

    For starters.

    humans won't like it, that's for sure.

    The Gulf Stream splits at about the latitude of Portugal, with the major portion continuing north and the minor portion swinging east and south to form a great gyre. Juvenile sea turtles must make the right turn and remain in the gyre where they feed & grow. Turtles that are carried northward perish. If more heat energy remains in the gyre, northwestern Europe will cool while the Sahara expands. Iberia, Calabria, the islands of the Med, penninsular Greece... will be taken by the desert. The gyre, being at lower latitude, won't cool & sink as fast, holding heat near the surface, diminishing the thermohaline deep ocean countercurrent. This will represent a positive feedback contributing to net atmospheric & surface ocean warming, even as northern Europe cools. A negative feedback component might be that the GIS & Arctic sea ice persists longer, increasing albedo, but I wouldn't expect this - feedback to countermand the net + feedback effect.

    "A negative feedback component might be that the GIS & Arctic sea ice persists longer..."

    That would be seasonal ice then because the arctic will be ice free by 2013 regardless.

    History of the THC
    Sediment data document that the THC has undergone major changes in the history of climate (e.g., [21, 22]). Three major circulation modes were indentified: a warm mode similar to the present-day Atlantic, a cold mode with NADW forming south of Iceland in the Irminger Sea, and a switched-off mode ([23]). The latter appears to have occurred after major input of freshwater, either from surging glacial ice sheets (Heinrich events) or in form of meltwater floods (e.g., Younger Dryas event). The most dramatic climate events recorded in Greenland, the Dansgaard-Oeschger (D/O) events, were probably associated with north-south shifts in convection location, i.e. transitions between warm and cold modes of the Atlantic THC. Recent simulations of such shifts show encouraging agreement with paleoclimatic data ([24]).


    That would be seasonal ice then because the arctic will be ice free by 2013 regardless.

    Yes, longer persistence of seasonal sea ice, and slower melting of the GIS contributing to a diminished freshwater infusion w/ consequent lessened impact on the "Great Conveyor."

    The analysis you quote is about as I understand things. As the Wisconsin Ice Sheet melted at the end-Pleistocene, vast proglacial lakes formed behind ice dams. As these dams floated or were eroded thru, enormous amounts of fresh water infused the north Atlantic. Since fresh water is less dense than sea water it didn't mix well, and established convection dynamics were disrupted. Abrupt melting of the GIS would have the same effect. Global climate change involves a large number of + & - feedbacks, some of which are poorly understood or haven't even been identified yet. Their net effect is difficult to model. What I'm saying is that a diminished contribution of warm water to the north Atlantic via the Gulf Stream could constitute both a + feedback to AGW by means of holding heat near the surface at lower latitude, and a - feedback by the mechanism stated above. No one can say for certain but my expectation is that the + feedback effect would override the -, accelerating AGW.

    No one can say for certain but my expectation is that the + feedback effect would override the -, accelerating AGW.


    The International Polar Year (IPY) survey found that warming in the Antarctic is "much more widespread than was thought," while Arctic sea ice is diminishing and the melting of Greenland's ice cover is accelerating.

    Rising sea levels and changes in ocean temperatures triggered by the melting ice also heralded shifts in weather patterns worldwide and potentially more coastal storm surges, scientists said.

    "We're beginning to get hints of change in ocean circulation, that'll have a dramatic impact on the global climate system," IPY director David Carlson told journalists.


    The Greatest Event in Our Lives.

    darwinsdog wrote:

    The Gulf Stream splits at about the latitude of Portugal, with the major portion continuing north and the minor portion swinging east and south to form a great gyre...

    From the link to Rahmstorf's site, we find this:

    The thermohaline circulation contributes only roughly 20% to the Gulf Stream flow...

    Much of the warming effect experienced by Northern Europe is the result of the THC flow, which carries warmer water into the Arctic Mediterranean. Changes in the THC represent but a small portion of the Gulf Stream, as most of the GS water turns back toward the south as part of the Mid-Atlantic Gyre. The waters of the Mid-Atlantic Gyre are warm and can not sink below the very cold, deep layers below at present. However, if the THC does stop, the salinity of the Gyre would increase and could result in a density high enough for sinking to occur. As Broecker pointed out, there is a net transport of fresh water out of the Atlantic into the Pacific via transport over the Isthmus of Panama and the salt must eventually be balanced. At present, there is already some mid level sinking of warm, salty water that has exited the Mediterranean Sea at the bottom of the Strait of Gibralter.

    If the density of the warmer waters of the Mid-Atlantic Gyre were high enough to begin to sink, this would warm the bottom of the Atlantic, with major consequences. For one, there's quite a bit of CO2 dissolved in those cold bottom layers, which could no longer remain if the water were to warm. Recently, those waters have slowly returned to the surface, allowing the CO2 content to remain more or less constant, before the Industrial Age, that is...

    E. Swanson

    Four years ago on TOD, Stuart Staniford published an article titled "Hurricanes: Trend or Oscillation?" that argued for steadily increasing storm power. In another article that I've not yet found (forgot to bookmark) Stuart argued that a slowdown in the THC was leading to more energy staying in the tropics generally.

    Basically, Stuart did his usual work of giving statistical substance to the same argument you are making here.

    Edit: The other article by Stuart that I was thinking of was "Dangerous Anthropogenic Interference".

    Indeed there seems to be a lack of joined up thinking on this. People often say that if the Gulf Stream failed Britain would have a climate like Newfoundland or Siberia. They seem though to be thinking of Greenland and Siberia in the pre-greenhouse World. If it warmed enough to stall the gulf Stream those places would be much more habitable. If the warm currents moved south would that hasten the Antarctic ice melt?

    If the THC slows or stops

    The presumption, is that the slowing will be self limiting, as the slower it is the cooler the N Atlantic polar waters. It is their warming which is primarily responsible for the slowdown. So if it plays out like that, N Europe won't get colder, they will just warm less than the rest of the world. A bigger concern might on the other end, tropical ocean temps. These don't have to rise much to make hurricanes stronger.

    You seem to have a basic misunderstanding here. The issue is less the temperature and more the buoyancy. Even if your statement is accurate, your conclusion is too pat. The warmth brought to Europe is substantial. (It comes from Caribbean, fer cryin' out loud.) If the THC slows significantly or stops, it *will* get cold in Europe. All you have to do is look at locations at the same latitude. The poles are still very cold places even with the warming. Arctic temps are still below freezing for most, if not pretty much all, of the year.

    The so-called Little Ace Age represented just a *slowing* of the THC.


    The period from 1645 thru 1715 was the Maunder Minimum in sunspot activity. I think that cooler temperatures during that period was likely the result. There were also several instances of large volcanic eruptions from 1450 thru 1820, which would also have cooled things a bit, but only for a few years...

    There have been several instances of major THC slowing found in the climate records (as well as recent evidence of short period variation in the THC). As far as I know, the Little Ice Age was not one of them. Can you present a reference for your statement?

    E. Swanson

    The period from 1645 thru 1715 was the Maunder Minimum in sunspot activity.

    And you and I both know the MM doesn't produce that radical a shift.

    There were also several instances of large volcanic eruptions from 1450 thru 1820, which would also have cooled things a bit, but only for a few years...

    You answered yourself.

    There have been several instances of major THC slowing found in the climate records (as well as recent evidence of short period variation in the THC). As far as I know, the Little Ice Age was not one of them.

    I may have brain farted this and conflated TLIA and the YD, but...




    Everything points to THC involvement being possible, but no generally accepted attribution as of yet.

    Hmmm... this one says it may have been water vapor:


    A 420-year history of strontium/calcium, uranium/calcium, and oxygen isotope ratios in eight coral cores from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, indicates that sea surface temperature and salinity were higher in the 18th century than in the 20th century. An abrupt freshening after 1870 occurred simultaneously throughout the southwestern Pacific, coinciding with cooling tropical temperatures. Higher salinities between 1565 and 1870 are best explained by a combination of advection and wind-induced evaporation resulting from a strong latitudinal temperature gradient and intensified circulation. The global Little Ice Age glacial expansion may have been driven, in part, by greater poleward transport of water vapor from the tropical Pacific.

    I was probably wrong to decouple temps and buoyancy... kind of hard to do... but buoyancy is lost with greater density (less salinity) and temps.

    I still think there will be a quite cold Europe should the THC slow significantly or stop.



    "Water is going to be more important than oil in next 20 years" Dean of Kellogg School of Business

    Las Vegas Running Out of Water Means Dimming Los Angeles Lights

    Just another reason why we need to redraw state boundaries based on watersheds as we go postPeak, at least here in the parched Southwest. Cali gets the bulk of the lower Colorado's water, but hardly contributes any rainfall to the watershed. Making state boundaries down the middle of a river is only asking for future troubles, IMO, but it will be very, very difficult politically to redraw the map.

    "Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting."
    "Water flows uphill to money."

    We need better ideas than these old sayings as we go into resource depletion.

    I'm in complete agreement that political boundaries should conform to the boundaries of watersheds, Bob. You & I are technically within the same watershed altho the Gila & its tribs (Rio Salado in your case) are pretty distinct from the upper Colorado watershed where I'm at. If your "Asphaltistan" had to rely solely on the Gila, you'd soon go the way of the Hohokam. No offense (my daughter & older son live there too) but that'd be fine with me. ;)

    Hello Darwinsdog,

    Thxs for responding. Overall, I am agreement with that person in Nate's linked article who said that most people in the Southwest need to get. the. hell. out. of. here. and move to Miss. or Louisiana, or anyplace that has more water. I have been suggesting for some time: Cascadia, or the Great Lakes, or maybe the New Vermont Republic, when the Secession trend goes bigtime. IMO, a young couple [with little kids to still raise] should not want to live in LA, Vegas, or Phx. Ozymandias on a gigantic scale.

    Hi Bob. My property came with senior water rights. Of course, I paid at least twice more for it than I would have had it not had water rights. The property is on one river but the irrigation ditch comes off a different, larger river - both tribs of the Rio de San Juan. So long as the ditch keeps flowing I'm okay. However, I'm near the end of the ditch and have little control over what happens upstream. I could conceivably pump or carry water up from the river below but I don't have rights to that water, the flow is intermittent, and it would involve a lot of energy or labor. Should infrastructure break down & the ditch cease flowing I'd be fukkered. Due to these considerations I've considered selling the property and moving to the Ozarks or Tennessee/Kentucky or southern Illinois/Indiana. But for the time being I like where I'm at. The Colorado Plateau is a harsh environment but it's beautiful, and biotically & culturally interesting here. I love the Sonoran Desert but can't tolerate the summer heat. My daughter & older son live there because they like the excitement of the city. Personally, I think they're crazy to live there year round. I just hope they can get out when the time comes. That's our situation for the time being. Best wishes.

    Tell your younguns to ponder the Cacti for awhile: these plants, such as jumping cholla, evolved to become ferociously weaponized to protect what little moisture they suck out of the ground. Should be an obvious machete' moshpit clue to what humans will have to do. Somebody needs to perfect Frank Herbert's 'Dune Suit' if lots of humans want to live in the Southwest. Yep, the Southwest is beautiful, but totally unforgiving for those out of water.

    I just bought property in the Rio Grand Water Shed (Crestone Colorado). The San Luis Valley has one of the largest intact aquifers left in the West, and I have a 14200 foot peak with a stream gushing by. I have also well rights, and one working now. Water will not be a problem.

    Hi hightrekker. I've been up Crestone Peak, Crestone Needle, Kit Carson & Humboldt Peaks. I recently heard that they're considering renaming Kit Carson, 'cuz Native Americans find the name offensive. The San Luis Valley is awesome but winters are brutal. Bob lives where summers are killer & you live where winters are the same. I'm in between. I've recently been analyzing weather data going back to the 1960s and have discovered that it very rarely exceeds 100^oF here or drops below 0^oF. On the other hand, I've only found a handful of times we've received >1" of precip in a day here. I've lived on the East Coast, the Midwest and spent winters planting trees in the South. Most places have their drawbacks & their charms. But compared to most, you, me & Bob live in a spectacular region of the world. From the Sonoran Desert up over the Mogollon Rim onto the Colorado Plateau, over the San Juan portion of the southern Rockies to the San Luis Valley & the Crestone Sangres.. I love it all!

    I grew up in California, but lived in Maui 10 years, Montana, Micronesia, Upstate New York, Seattle, Costa Rica and the Eastern Sierra.
    Crestone is brutal in the winter, but a solid community. I have a love of Highlands and Islands.

    hightrekker: you make me jealous. I have no problem with the snow and cold. The one year I had to live in Colorado Springs, I went to that every quite frequently. San Luis valley is pretty dry, I imagine its a pretty hardscrabble living.

    In other news, (from a friend), the two pure play gun manufacturers Sturm Ruger (RGR) and Smith and Wesson (SWHC) are up 45% and 50% respectively this week, while market is flat to down. While such news is probably more likely to discussed on LATOC I thought these uptrades rather sharp with no news. What's up with that? (other than the obvious)

    EDIT: I guess this explains much of it

    Deutsche Bank-North America analyst Grant Govertsen, responding to an FBI report earlier this month that January background checks on potential firearms purchasers increased 29 percent from the same month of 2007, said fear of coming federal restrictions is boosting sales.

    "Given heightened consumer fears of tighter gun control laws we would suspect an abnormally elevated level of firearms purchases over the next few quarters as consumers continue to stockpile guns, especially handguns and tactical (weapons)," he said.

    The wave of gun buying is lifting sales of firearms retailers, too. Last week Sidney, Neb.-based sporting goods chain Cabela's Inc. said its fourth-quarter profit beat Wall Street estimates, partly on robust gun sales.

    Cabela's expects the surge of gun buying to continue.

    "We are not seeing the demand slow down," Cabela's spokesman Joe Arterburn said. "Many (customers) are first-time handgun buyers, who have never had a handgun in their home but believe now ... is a good time to buy them. More women are coming in looking to buy handguns, as well."

    Obama to Seek New Assault Weapons Ban

    "As President Obama indicated during the campaign, there are just a few gun-related changes that we would like to make, and among them would be to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons," Holder told reporters.

    Why are we worried about Mexico's issues more than US personal freedoms? Wouldn't a fence help more?

    "I think that will have a positive impact in Mexico, at a minimum." Holder said

    How's this for "truth and accuracy" -- the details say that 90% of the rifles come from the US, but the scare headline talks about military weapons (which are most likely from the Mexican army):

    "Some recent Mexican army and police confrontations with drug cartels have resembled small-unit combat, with cartels employing automatic weapons and grenades," the warning said.

    Semi-auto rifles aren't the same thing as "automatic weapons and grenades".

    My solution would be to clamp down on border crossings and smuggling, not on rifle production.

    I will be really surprised if this bill passes though -- there is a LOT of public desire for these guns for protection, and I doubt it's a hill that Obama really wants to take.

    Any guesses how long before we see a 'Black Swan' such as a massive assault on El Paso from a Mexican gang looking at richer pickings in the US?

    Like a 'Wild Bunch' in reverse?

    Does art imitate life?

    ..a massive assault on El Paso from a Mexican gang looking at richer pickings in the US?

    Mechanized cavalry units stationed at Fort Bliss would make short work'uv 'em, don't you think?

    Don't worry about Mexico-Afghanistan is the real threat-those spooky cave dwellers are going to eat your children any day now. Mexico didn't even garner a comment during the big Kahuna's party speech the other day.

    In the the late 1980's Mexican car thieves infiltrated across the Arizona border at night and stole dozens of cars at once from a little town near the border and drove them back across the border. This evening saw two Latin American young men carrying backpacks walking along a highway towards a Spanish neighborhood. Obama stated we need to get control of our borders. If I ask for that it might cost a trillion more dollars. The worse deficit in history, like a banker on a derivatives buying binge, or Robert Mugabe trying to end a recession fast. Governments went bankrupt by spending on worthless programs. Are we in danger here? 1.75 trillion dollars of deficit, some of this for new cars and houses, instead of factories, farms, mines, tort reform etc.

    Maybe a lot of them are winding up in Mexico?

    U.S. Is Arms Bazaar for Mexican Cartels


    So? Maybe Mexico should have built a border fence, instead of pushing for a porous border?


    I doubt many of the weapons ending up in the hands of the major cartels originate here. Those folks have the sophistication to ship billions of $'s of drugs around the world. I'm sure they are just as capable as any of us (if we had the money and desire) to buy 5,000 AK's from China directly and have them shipped anywhere in the world they desire. Just a guess but I would bet they could acquire those arms for a small fraction of what a border gun shop would charge...especially these days. The local bad boys might have to swim the river to satisfy their needs though.

    Yeah, that'll really help.

    Maybe you can name one prison where walls and elaborate and intensive security has managed to keep drugs out of prisoners' hands.

    Organized crime is the biggest beneficiary of increased border security, since building and maintaining networks of infiltrators and people on the take requires organizational skill, and since their market power will be increased as the independent entrepeneur is constrained by the security apparatus.

    It won't hurt, for sure.

    Maybe you can name one prison without walls which has managed to keep criminals away from the public?

    The open prison in Kerala for one, but there are others around the world.


    So, you don't think it'll hurt to increase the power of organized crime.
    Why am I not surprised.

    Will it increase organized crime? It might. It might not. It WILL decrease contraband and fugitive crossing, and increase the cost of same. Overall crime will go down, and centralized, organized crime can be fought as well. Big money leaves big trails, and just a few special ops teams could but a big dent in it once we decide to operate in Mexico. Mexico will be a nuisance to the US, but it won't "invade" except the way it has for 30 years -- one immigrant at a time.

    Reducing the market on this side of the border for both contraband and people would help as well, and I'd do that too.

    Like GW and peak oil, immigration as an issue lost its luster with the economic crash. Unlike the other topics, it will come back with a vengeance as unemployment runs out for millions of legal Americans, and welfare dollars stretch thin.

    Note that the open prison "works" because of a carrot-and-stick model (miscreants will go back to a bars-and-fences prison) and hand-picked inmates.

    I don't think the same model will work with international drug smugglers who have access to helicopters and false IDs.

    Let me get this straight, I'm supposed to give up my arms because my government (who thus far hasn't shown the skill or judgement to run a bake sale) can help another government (that borders on being a failed state)? I dont think so, in fact I'd venture to say the idea sucks.

    The number of gun shows is increasing YTY quite a bit.

    I spoke to one vendor who was selling hi quality camping gear. Like bush hats and so forth. I asked him how business was as I purchased a very nice 'Merican made bush hat...He said that on a weekend he could hit 6 shows within easy driving range of his home.

    He was chalking up very good sales. Very busy.

    I brought a nice Yamaha practice guitar for $100 as well.

    Didn't buy guns. Was looking for camping gear. But the sellers had a huge amount of firearms. The parking lot was quite crowded. I picked up several flyers for more shows. In fact another at the same location just 4 weeks later.

    Yes folks are stocking up big time as far as I can see. They think they know just exactly what Obami and his congress critters are going to do.


    Obama forecasts $1.75 trillion deficit this year.


    Wasn't the forecast $1.3 trillion just a few days ago?

    Not sure. But I know it was $1.2 trillion when I wrote this post last month.

    Creating money from thin air is hard work...

    Sheesh, at the rate projections are rising, this year's deficit is going to end up being $6 trillion..

    Being able to borrow a lot of money is quite useful...even more so if you don't have any intention to actually repay those debts.

    I have read at many places "get out of debt soon". Oh really? While I don't have any debt, I wonder if that's the best idea out there. One might rather live like a king and default with some style. It will hardly make any difference in the end anyway.

    I read somewhere that if you manage your money perfectly, you would never run out, but the check that you wrote for your funeral should bounce.

    That goes in my "aphorisms" file - just beautiful!

    I just hope my parents don't read that.

    When is your money not your money? When it's clawed back:

    If you have the foresight to exit an investment account before it fails, and a judge later decides that the fund operated fraudulently, you can be sued to force you to return the money you took out - your principal as well as any profits - years after the fact.


    Many lawyers expect that Irving Picard, the court-appointed trustee charged with liquidating Mr Madoff’s assets and returning cash to defrauded investors, will try to retrieve the money paid out by Mr Madoff to investors in the months – and even possibly up to six years – before he was shut down.

    While Mr Picard has not specifically said how he plans to handle “clawbacks”, some lawyers say they could become the biggest single source of cash.

    Under the “preference” rule, anyone who received money in the 90 days before Mr Madoff’s December 11 arrest has very few legal defences, even if they withdrew principal, rather than profits.

    Courts have ruled that investors who had suspicions or had seen “red flags” about the fund could be forced to give both principal and profits back.

    Usually the lawyers get a percentage of what they recover, so they're motivated to claw back as much as possible.

    Takeaway lesson: Eat it, drink it, or sink it all into your residence, where nobody can get at it, even in a bankruptcy proceeding.

    Lawyers and crime tend to together, one way or another.

    The new Tupperware...

    At 'gold parties,' women sell off old baubles

    Now that frugal is fashionable, inviting friends to your home to buy something they don't need or want seems almost cruel - and makes as much sense as arranging a caravan of Hummers to carpool them to a climate-change rally. But asking them to bring their unwanted loot and walk away with cash instead of spending it?


    Stage 1: gold jewellery, the family silver
    Stage 2: laptops, flat-screen TV, the second car
    Stage 3: clothes, shoes, Tupperware, the first car
    Stage 4: firewood, the fillings from your teeth
    Stage 5: your body, your children's labor

    Yeah, I wonder when we are going to start seeing neighborhood plasma donation parties?

    These people aren't doing it for the money. Yet, anyway. They're doing it to de-clutter and simplify their lives.

    I think part of it is today's smaller families. We have more stuff, and fewer kids. So what do you do with the family heirlooms? For many people, they've become a burden.

    I've thought of this a lot recently because my mother is giving me treasured possessions...decluttering her house and cluttering mine. She tells me I better not give them away.

    So what am I going to do with them? I have no kids, and am not planning to have any. (Unless Derek Jeter begs me to be the mother of his children. ;-) My sister is probably not going to have kids, either. So what should I do with this stuff? I seriously doubt it would have much meaning for anyone outside the family.

    Fortunately, I've moved enough times that I can claim that the stuff is still in a box somewhere, or we lost in in one of our floods, or the mildew got it, or it was broken during one of the moves, or etc., etc.

    That is the tragedy of our times - stuff. I'm seeing it now with the death of my grandmother and my parents aging. They spent a lifetime acquiring "stuff" and now they realize that it is only things to be disposed at garage sale rates. Dust to dust, ashes to ashes I guess...

    There are a few valuable family heirlooms, but most of it gets donated.

    This is why I advise people with the "tombstone test". Take a walk through a cemetery and see how many bank balances or list of possessions are listed there. None, a born-died and the few kind words the engraving can afford is all you get - good bye.

    The enduring wealth lies in the heart, not in the pocket book. This an old and often repeated lesson. I hope we get out of this society of "stuff", (and yes, I've seen the video), and move onto real value. BTW, you can take my plasma TV away from my cold, dead hands!

    Stage 6: Sell your teenage daughter.
    Stage 7: Sell your wife.
    Stage 8: Sell yourself.

    Stage 8a. Left kidney.
    Stage 8b. Right lung.
    Stage 8c. Bone marrow....

    They're lying to save face. An old sofa is clutter. Fifty pairs of shoes you never wear are clutter. The betamax player is clutter. A thirty year collection of National Geographic magazines is clutter.

    Gold family heirlooms are not clutter.

    Come on, a shoebox will hold about 4 litres. Does anyone think any of these women have more than a shoebox full of gold jewelry?

    They need the money.

    They're really not getting very much money.

    I know a lot of women who are doing this. And they don't need the money. Not the relatively small amounts you get by selling used gold jewelry, anyway.

    Clutter is more than physical. It's emotional, too. What do you do with jewelry given to you by an ex? For many women, it just brings up painful memories. They'll never use it again. If you have children by your ex, you could give it to them, but if you don't...why keep it? What would you do with gold heirlooms, if you had more yesterdays than tomorrows, and had no children?

    And jewelry goes in and out of fashion, just like clothing. The "Mr. T" look that was hot in the '70s is tacky now, especially for people old enough to have worn it back then.

    I think the fact that they are selling it via gold parties shows that they don't really need the money. If they needed it, it wouldn't be sitting around in their jewelry boxes. They'd have sold it already, via eBay or a pawnshop. They're selling it for scrap value at parties because it's convenient.

    Mayor Villaraigosa Drives First Heavy-Duty, Electric Port Drayage Truck off the Assembly Line at New Harbor City Factory

    An initiative of the Port’s Clean Air Action Plan, the development and demonstration of the Balqon electric truck was co-funded by the Port and South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) at a total cost of $527,000. Designed specifically for short-haul or “drayage” operations, this heavy-duty truck can pull a 60,000-pound cargo container at a top speed of 40 mph, and has a range between 30 to 60 miles per battery charge.

    on an annual basis, more than two million truck drayage trips take place between the port terminals and rail and warehouse facilities within five to ten miles of San Pedro Bay.

    This is a superb silver BB. Between such trucks for local hauling and Alan's electric trains, diesel semis could be largely relegated to scrap. Now we just need the US Gov't to electrify mail Jeeps and FedEx and UPS to go electric....so much easier to start with fleet vehicles than private cars for the EV transition.

    Just west of where I live there are two enormous coal fired powerplants and the Navajo Nation wants to build a third. The air is filthy due to these abominations. The pall of pollution is readily visible from space. Electric cars & trains only displace the pollution from the cities to here. Keep your pollution local, I say.

    Or build wind and solar. Both would work much of the time for an app like this.

    I don't support wind generation unless the turbines can be made safe for birds & bats.

    I'm all for decentralized power generation in principle. PV has it's drawbacks but in general I support small scale PV generation. To my mind, all the roofs in the world should have PV panels on them. But how are you going to charge your electric car from a PV setup at night? What are those who live at high latitude supposed to do in winter? I don't see electric cars as being much more than expensive playthings & status symbols of the rich.

    As for electric trains, what's going to power them? Filthy coal fired powerplants? River killing hydroelectric facilities? Life inimical nuke plants? No thanks. People are just going to have to do without mass transport of goods over long distances. Such was our past and so will it be our future, like it or not.

    In the near future, if we need to get somewhere we're just going to have to ride a bicycle or horse, or walk. In other words, lower your expectations about getting very far from where you're at, anytime soon.

    I think we'll mitigate the impacts where possible, and live with destruction otherwise. We'll have bird-killing wind turbines, coal plants (as long as the coal lasts, maybe with CC), nuke plants of various sorts, and all the dams we have now and them some. The only thing that will limit such is population decay, not any newfound decision to live on less on purpose -- we'll settle for less because we have to, and kick and scream all the way down.

    PV and wind load-shifting will be accomplished eventually, via batteries, NH3 production, or other means. It just adds to the cost, but when it costs less than oil it'll still be viable. Cars don't drive most of the time, and there will a long period where there will still be some NG and oil that will fill the troughs for solar and wind, with nuke/coal baseline.

    EVs might be for the rich long-term, but there will be plenty who can afford one at $40K versus giving up their lifestyle for the next decade or two, IMHO.

    In winter high latitudees will have less PV, but they'll still have some wind, nukes, and who knows what else. They'll make do with less, but they'll use all the sources they can manage to harness.

    Unless nuke war or mass disease knocks out 80% of the world's population quickly, I fully expect that we'll use every useful scrap and leave little but waste behind. Nothing in history says otherwise, from what I've seen.

    Well, if you look at that "Deep Impact" chart downthread, we'd better be building all those new coal & nuke plants, dams, wind farms, etc., pretty quick. Otherwise, how are we going to pay for them?

    As long as the depression continues, I figure we'll patch all the old power plants regardless of how gnarly they get, just like in Belarus. Windfarms at least have small step-in costs, if there is a load nearby. PV will likely be home purchasers eventually -- those lucky enough to have income. At $1 per watt a lot of things are still do-able a little at a time.

    Again, there won't be "enough", but what there will be is likely to be varied in nature. IMHO.

    Plus, once we default on the debt the issue won't be money and credit, but what actually has an ROI. Last year I mused about sovereign default. Now I'm expecting it.

    I'm more of a PaleoRadical, but I agree with your expectations.

    Markets ignore many important things, but people react pretty quickly as goods and services move along the price performance curve. Coal is dirty, but there is a gasoline price that will have people running their vehicles on coal-fired electricity soon enough. Similarly there is a coal price that will cause utilities to invest heavily in wind and solar thermal.

    Over the years I've watched a lot of "worn-out" US technology get used for a couple more generations in Latin America (50 year-old BlueBird school buses, ancient tractors, stoves and refrigerators...).
    Before Mad Max, I think there will be a long period of DIY junkyard salvage, with many hacked-together and interim systems (most of the world already lives this way).

    Sadly, I expect oil shale to be burned in thermal power plants (as Estonia already does). For all the high-tech oil shale gasification plans, burning oil shale like crappy coal could be done in thermal power plants today ( with massive environmental impacts).

    "I don't support wind generation unless the turbines can be made safe for birds & bats."

    You can't be serious.


    "But, as with birds, the number of fatalities due to wind turbines is extremely low compared to collisions with other man-made structures...

    "bat collision mortality during the breeding season is virtually non-existent, despite the fact that relatively large numbers of bat species have been documented in close proximity to wind plants. These data suggest that wind plants do not currently impact resident breeding populations where they have been studied in the U.S."




    If all you are looking for is a negative interpretation, then that's all you will find.

    If your computer is using any of the power from those coal-fired plants, but you aren't satisfied with 'imperfect solutions', then why is it still on? (How much Avian distress is caused by these Coal-plants, and the ecosystems and watersheds they poison?)

    Do you want to try to make things better, or just complain that they're not perfect?

    PG&E Announces Plans to Develop 500 MW of Solar Power

    Native Wind - http://www.nativewind.org/

    “Wind energy is the fastest growing energy source in the world, and Native communities have an excellent potential to be a part of that trend,” said Winona LaDuke, Executive Director of Honor the Earth, a nonprofit group that supports environmental activism and sustainability in Native communities.

    Pretty impressive chart from Drudge:

    And remember you use the GAAP on it and then it's x10 or 11.


    The real 2008 federal budget deficit was $5.1 trillion, not the $455 billion previously reported by the Congressional Budget Office, according to the "2008 Financial Report of the United States Government" as released by the U.S. Department of Treasury.

    I hope you know that Jerome Corsi is a wing nut.

    GAAP can not be applied to government. The purpose of GAAP is to determine profit or loss in dollars for an enterprise. Since the government has the power to create unlimited dollars if it wants, it could appear very profitable if it just created money. GAAP would be satisfied but the end result would be disaster.

    In any case, people like the author of Obama-nation and the swiftboating of John Kerry love to calculate the future obligations of the government by picking and choosing. They love to choose Social Security and Medicare because it suits their right wing agenda. Why do they not choose the obligation of the government for defense and tax cuts and extrapolate that out to infinity?

    Defense spending is no less a government obligation than SS and Medicare. The same goes for interest on the debt and many other expenditures. Tax cuts are an obligation by the government to fore go revenue until the end of time unless reversed. The whole idea that future obligations have to be assigned a present value to determine the best course of action is rubbish. GAAP can not be applied to government because it is different from private enterprise. Comparing government to private accounting is fallacious reasoning.

    If individuals were to use GAAP, no one in his right mind would get married or have babies since the present value of the future obligations are so great. I believe if people were to calculate the present value of their future obligations we would have even more suicides given the very low interest rates.

    GAAP have a specific purpose and can not be applied entities that are not profit motivated.

    There is a separate GAAP that applies to governmental accounting. State and local governments have to follow it. The FedGov should, too.

    Look, aside from Corsi, whom I don't like either, social security and similar programs are definitely a long term problem.

    Defense spending, however, is handled on a year by year basis. Many entitlement programs, like social security, are clearly future promises to pay, similar to a bond (but without the legal standing of a bond). If the US government issues a 10 year bond they have to pay it off in ten years. What's the defense spending going to be in 10 years? Beats me. Could be up, down, or sideways but whatever it is it will come out of that year's budget.

    Programs like social security, if honestly handled, have to be accounted for like any other pension or retirement program in the private sector. As obligations rise, the government should be setting aside those funds for future payouts. Instead it has been robbing the social security trust fund and replacing it with IOUs which then force additional borrowing downstream to cover them.

    Look, there's nothing inherently wrong with individuals OR government saving for the future if they actually save. But the federal government, under both parties and for the last 80 years has done nothing but spend beyond its means and spent its savings, with the exception of a few years here and there.

    That simply cannot go on forever without either (a) spending yourself into debt slavery or (b) defaulting on payment promises that you can simply never keep. And it doesn't matter if it's a Democrat or a Republican in the White House or who controls Congress. Neither party has demonstrated much restraint when it comes to spending. In fact, right now we are seeing how much those Democrat calls for fiscal restraint were really worth - not one thin dime.

    One of the sad points of Keynesian economics is that we never really had a chance to try Keynesian economics. Keynes wanted government to deficit spend during economic downturns to help turn the economy around quicker. But Keynes also wanted government to pay off those debts when the economy was healthy. Instead of paying off those debts and operating with close to zero long term debt, we've simply spent when it was bad and spent when it was good. No one will ever know if Keynes was right because homo sapiens appears incapable of possessing the discipline necessary to test the thesis.

    Actually I'm not sure the gov't or the individual CAN save, when counted en masse. The flux of Baby Boomers retiring would drive down 401K stocks, topple savings capital ratios, and otherwise skew the workforce and monetary system as they act in unison. In the end you still have a smaller number of young workers striving to produce goods and serve a much larger number of oldsters -- in the end the value of their savings will rebalance to accomodate the available supply.

    I'm no economist and I could certainly be wrong, as I've never heard anybody else view it this way, but that's long been my take on things.

    They love to choose Social Security and Medicare because it suits their right wing agenda. Why do they not choose the obligation of the government for defense and tax cuts and extrapolate that out to infinity?

    Defense spending is no less a government obligation than SS and Medicare. The same goes for interest on the debt and many other expenditures. Tax cuts are an obligation by the government to fore go revenue until the end of time unless reversed.


    Except defense is actually a gov't responsibility enumerated in the Constitution.

    I think the Founding Fathers specifically mentioned Afghanistan and Pakistan and lots of other stans.

    "Except defense is actually a gov't responsibility enumerated in the Constitution."

    great ! now please explain how the search for wmds, maintaining the flow of oil from the mideast and a global military empire amounts to defense.

    and for that matter "promote the general welfare" is enumerated in the constitution as well.

    “ We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence,[1] promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

    'and for that matter "promote the general welfare" is enumerated in the constitution as well. ..'

    FYI, The originalists have rephrased the wording in that to read
    "Promote the Welfare to Generals"

    FWIW, "Posterity" has also been revisionized to become "Posterior"

    .. That should explain a few things. See Why, eh?

    Rex quondam, rexque futurus

    When you look at it that way, then the promise to cut this deficit "in half" by 2012 starts to look a lot less impressive.

    what version of the deficit is drudge using ? the la la version, it appears.

    The source is cited. I assume you think the 2009 deficit estimate is too small?

    no, the la la of the past 26 yrs, enron budget accounting. i recommend a look at the national debt for the last 8 or so yrs as the source of any meaningful recent numbers.

    and the "source" for the last 8 yrs is kkkarl rove.

    The source is the CBO. The current "estimate" from Obama is $1.75 trillion. Of course, 30 days ago he estimated $1.2 trillion. And in Bush's final days in office, during the first quarter of the fiscal year, the estimate was $1.1 trillion.

    Now what has happened? During the first quarter (Oct-Dec. '08) we borrowed over $500 billion. But the Bush administration said that borrowing for the next 3 quarters would be $600 billion total, or about $200 billion per quarter. Now, as we approach the end of the second quarter, we've found we've borrowed almost $600 billion in this quarter alone. So the first half of the year is $1.1 trillion right off the bat (with March left to go). The assumption of the Obama team is similar to that of the Bush team. Obama is assuming that we'll borrow about $300 billion each in the 3rd and 4th quarters bringing the total to $1.75 trillion.

    Now honestly, how realistic is that? How many of you think things are suddenly going to improve so much that we cut our quarterly borrowing in half? The more likely scenario is two more quarters in the $500-$600 billion range. And there is a possibility that it will be even higher. But even at $500 billion each for the 3rd and 4th quarters, we'll hit $2.1 trillion, which is even higher than the CBO estimates.

    P.S. Obama's budget director claimed that we need to do all these things so that we don't have $9 trillion budget deficits annually in 10 years. That guy is smoking something pretty potent. We'll be bankrupt before then and no one will loan us a toothbrush if we're that deeply in debt.

    The Fed is ready, willing and able to buy bonds.

    And if we start monetizing the national debt in earnest (which is what the Fed buying bonds does), then the Chinese are ready, willing and able to start selling their stash of bonds. They have already made that about as clear as polite, diplomatic language can make it.

    I've thought for a while that Peak Oil/Peak Exports is acting an accelerant in the deflationary firestorm--kind of like dropping napalm on a forest fire--pushing us along faster to the point at which the Fed starts monetizing in earnest.

    I have been obsessing over the bond market this week. $92 billion or so in issuance this week? Unbelievable. Interesting article from Reuters:

    Gentle persuasion ensures home grown demand for U.S. debt

    My favorite quote:

    This symbiotic relationship between primary dealers and the government has always existed. Primary dealers sought that status in part because it gave them clout. Bidding for Treasuries seemed a small price to pay to be seen as part of an inner-circle of top-ranked financial institutions.

    But "if they choke the stuff down and can't offload it to investors in the market, then who backstops the banks? The taxpayer," Simons said. "Writing a check to yourself is a sign of a mental disorder: it's not a sign of an economic plan."

    If and when the Fed steps in to buy Treasuries directly then the charade becomes even more transparent. You're not even putting the newly printed money through a rinse cycle at that point.

    As for continued foreign purchases,
    China to stick with US bonds

    Luo Ping, a director-general at the China Banking Regulatory Commission, said after a speech in New York that China would continue to buy Treasuries in spite of its misgivings about US finances.

    Mr Luo, speaking at the Global Association of Risk Management’s 10th Annual Risk Management Convention, said: “Except for US Treasuries, what can you hold?” he asked. “Gold? You don’t hold Japanese government bonds or UK bonds. US Treasuries are the safe haven. For everyone, including China, it is the only option.”

    Mr Luo, whose English tends toward the colloquial, added: “We hate you guys. Once you start issuing $1 trillion-$2 trillion [$1,000bn-$2,000bn] . . .we know the dollar is going to depreciate, so we hate you guys but there is nothing much we can do.”

    Well, they can push up the yields, for one. But it's true, they're in this deep. "Chimerica" indeed.

    I've been gripped by the bond market for a bit over a year. When this thing unwinds the us is unarguably a 3rd world nation.

    "The source is the CBO."

    enron accounting at it's best, off-budget items like wars and money "borrowed" from the ss trust fund but not counted.

    the past 8 budget deficits add up to about $ 2 trillion. how does the debt over that time increased by more than $ 5 trillion? it's easy, enron accounting. and the "surpluses" of the late '90's......la la la la la.

    whatever obama's budget director is smoking, he could switch to the higher grade $hit the cbo is smoking.

    The "January projection" is about at the $1.2 - $1.3 trillion level. Now Obama is saying $1.75 trillion & Drudge chart sets "Potential revision" at $2 trillion. If projections continue to grow at the current rate, it will be $6 trillion by the end of the year. Ridiculous? We would have thought the same of the prospect of a $1 trillion deficit not long ago.

    I have a short memory, but I can remember when predictions that the financial meltdown would end up costing "1 or 2 trillion" were seen as outrageously exaggerated.

    Ahh, the good old days ... only six months ago.

    There will be a tipping point when the interest on the debt is half of the year's budget.
    That will happen when the National Debt is $17 trillion.
    The current debt is $12 trillion, so in less than 5 years we will hit the tipping point.
    As a homeowner, we can only go to about 36% of income in debt payments.
    Most people go bankrupt after reaching 50% in debt payments.
    I guess currency re-valuation may happen too.

    Nowhere - Obviously you do not understand government economics. If the tipping point is when the interest is one-half of the year's budget, it is apparent to me that we need a bigger budget. Then - No tipping point !!

    Problem solved. ( I wish they were all this easy. )

    The John Michael Greer piece makes a great point but doesn't take it far enough IMO.

    "...the belief that it's possible to have your money make your living for you is basically a delusion; it's likely to be a fairly persistent one..."

    I believe it will be the death of us. No one is willing to give up on this and most are willing to go to great lengths to "preserve" and enhance their wealth.

    Case in point "New Report Shows Explosive Growth in Climate Change Lobby" they represent all industries including finance and represent Billions focused on stoping climate change legislation that might harm their profits.

    There are so many hundreds of billions/Trillions that simply need to disapear for the sake of humanity.

    To steal a quote from another forum;

    Mother Nature to Humans - Your Money or your LIFE.

    Alternative Energy Is a Giant Capital Pit, Kedrosky Says: "There's No There There"


    a good find and I have to agree with his sentiments, thanks.

    Natural gas storage falls 30% less than normal last week - sending inventories to almost 12% above the five-year average!


    Looks like natgas prices are poised to fall further in the short-term...

    What do you think?



    '08 indusrtrial demand was a little more than '07, although december was down about 10 % from a year ago.

    dry gas production was 58 bcfd, the highest since sometime in the '80's. probably a result of >1600 rigs running in july '08 and production returning post ike. the big ? is when will we start to see the decline in dry gas production as a result of nearly 40% of the rigs being laid down.

    well given that its been pushing 80 during the day in Albuquerque this week (20 degrees above normal) and my heat hasn't come on at nite (set at 60) I guess we are using less nat gas. One advantage of climate change?


    OTOH we ran our air conditioner for a bit last night in Houston. And it's not even spring time here yet.

    electric power consumption of dry ng averaged 18 bcfd for '08, about 31% of total. peak electric power consumption occurs in june,july and aug. july '08 electric power consumption was 25 bcfd, a relatively cool summer, 31 bcfd in aug '07.

    you can probably use a swamp cooler when albq gets too hot?

    Yes I have a swamp cooler, water consumption is more of an issue with that than electricity I bet. No precip at all in Abq in January and February will be a trace. This non-winter makes me dread the coming fire season. Forests in Southern NM were closed for fire danger last year in March, probably will be again this year.

    Coolerado units use water to chill fresh, outside air, without adding moisture to a building, and consume just 15 percent of the energy used by traditional air conditioners, according to company executives.


    appears to extend the range of a swamp cooler. colorado is also a high and dry climate.

    how well is that unit going to work in houston ?

    SW USA drought threatens the hydroelectric grid and water supplies to seven states (Bloomberg):


    California may need more water ration plans (Palm Springs Desert Sun):


    Californian areas under severe water rationing:


    22% recovery of reservoir levels in Northern California, at Shasta and Oroville from recent precipitation:


    speaking of drought, Hays county Texas, just south of Austin, TX is having a drought, there is a high burn ban going on now and it's stilll February, and the drought has been going on for 18 mos.

    bear in mind, this is expensive land, 20K per acre on average, depends on the hill country view, (west of I-35) where the soil is really limestone or sandstone rock. can't do much with the land, except raise goats. a bit like Greece, more rocks than dirt.
    That is a place where rainwater harvesting is taking shape, but the problem is, if you don't have rain, you get no water. and no water means no crops, cleaning clothes, bathing, drinking.

    Now, go on up to Kentucky, or as Airdale would say: (Can-tuck-eee), south central region. around Bowling Green. fertile land, lower taxes, lower land prices, plant most anything you want, it'll grow. more cows than you can shake a stick at. though they need more Longhorns! Laid back country living.

    only problem is they don't have mesquite to smoke their pork. Over in Texas, they run over pork to get to the beef. Thats one thing i miss!
    oh, and good smoked sausage!

    For those outside the UK unable to see the excellent Peak Oil farming programme just shown by the BBC there's a copy at A Farm for the Future

    Educational Use only...

    Thanks alot Undertow. U are my man in the UK !
    I was high and low after this the other day, but no proxies penetrated the BBC.
    I love the BBC, I can sit for hours and just stare at their logo

    *** EDIT/ finished viewing now :
    That was a brilliant piece of programming and even better: it added the idea of hope and possibilities. UK is a fertile place, good for you.Interesting observation ; obviously cows used to live in the woods way back and the vertical grazing habit is in their genes, just like mooses or deer survive on eating leaves from threes, etc.


    Rapidshare has pretty crappy software. They can't even determine whether you actually downloaded a file or not. I canceled my download to download to a different program and now am forbidden from downloading anything else.

    This is a program I may never see, unfortunately. Arses.


    Rapidhare servers probably interpreted that as an attempt to use a download manager/accelerator on the free account (and perhaps it was from your description) which they only allow on premium accounts. The faq suggests just disabling the download accelerator and trying again. Maybe you have to wait a bit though. The faq's at http://rapidshare.com/faq.html and there's always the option of buying premium access for a day if you're really stuck.


    1. Read the FAQ.

    2. Googled.

    3. Still SOL. No useful info at all.

    I have no idea whether there is any acceleration going on nor what to do about it, if so.

    This was a TV program, right? Thus, free? C'mon... someone torrent the damned thing.

    Oh, and our Korean credit card has never worked outside Korea. Probably because I'm a foreigner. Seriously. They have different rules for us ferriners.


    Rocky Mountain News closing after Friday edition

    Too bad. They had a lot of energy and peak oil coverage.

    rocky mntn news and denver post merged in 2001. so i would assume the denver post will pick up the rmn coverage, such as it was.

    Stat of the day: Including non-recurring items, GM lost $85 million per day in 2008.


    from Ensco conference call courtesy Seekingalpha.com
    In Saudi Arabia, Saudi Aramco is cutting back on oil drilling given the much publicized OPEC cutbacks and recently released two of our rigs. We believe that Saudi Aramco will require more gas rigs, but that will not be enough to make up for the expected reduction in oil drilling.

    heard that stat this morning on CNBC. How the heck is this company staying in business?!

    I guess GM could say that their loss per day was only about half of what Fannie Mae lost, about $160 million per day in 2008 (from Calculated Risk):


    heard that stat this morning on CNBC. How the heck is this company staying in business?!

    Just following that old saw, losing money on every sale, but I can make it up with volume!

    "Who me? I didn't vote for Obama!"

    Thats what many say they are told who are asking around town here. Can't find anyone now who will admit they voted for him.Even those who previously said they did.

    A sign of ...what? I think before long its going to get very dirty.

    Myself? "No I didn't vote for him!"

    And I didn't.


    Right. In Kentucky, Obama got 35% in the primaries against Clinton's 65%, and Obama got 41% against McCain's 58% in the November election. So, yeah, folks in your neck of the woods did not vote for Obama. Tell us about Kentucky's growing importance for American domestic and international affairs.

    I don't understand your reply.

    Why should Ky care about domestic and international affairs?

    I prefer they instead try to make my state workable. Do what they are supposed to do. Quit pissing money away on ignorant programs.

    I believe in states rights. I don't like the big and growing Federal Gumment. Never did. Am I a neo-con then and despised? I think the only way out of this growing quagmire perhaps rethinking the role of the Feds.

    If California say has a problem? Well thats their problem. Not Kentuckys.

    Big Government is coming. No way to stop it since the dancing in the streets has yet to die down.


    Fine. But some people still view this as a union of states. If the people of KY want to sleep this out, then I would hope they keep their complaining to themselves. It's very easy to sit back and criticize, especially when you aren't doing anything under the notion that "well, I didn't elect that guy, so to heck with it".

    So pray tell, what exactly CAN I do other than bend over and grab my ankles? I complain weekly to my Congresscritters, who at least voted against most of the bailout crap, and it happens anyway.

    I've taken my money out to help the banks fail, and I'm working to reduce my tax liability so I can help the budget fail. I'm selling properties to help depress the housing market. How else can I help?

    Get involved. Run for office, or help someone you know and like run for office. School board, city council, county...in my limited experience, there are far too many uncontested elections to call this a healthy democracy. There are also numerous appointed committees and boards if you really dislike campaigning and elections. Often in government its the same people serving on multiple committees because they are the only ones who show up regularly. Many of them are exhausted, and some are not up to the task.

    Organize. Get involved in a taxpayers league or similar watchdog group. Create one at your local level. Find out how the stimulus money is actually being spent in your city/county/state and publicize the good, bad, and ugly, while offering workable suggestions for improvement. You wonder why your sole weekly complaint gets nowhere. It could be because your voice is drowned out by coalitions, corporations, and conglomerations. Find a choir that's singing your song.

    Do things in your community. Help serve a dinner at an emergency shelter. Adopt a park and help keep it clean, plant a tree or two.

    Share facts. Go beyond posts on this and similar forum; give a talk to an economics or civics class at your area high school; volunteer to write a regular column in your newspaper. Get on the radio. Explain our energy situation in ways that more people might understand.

    If after you've done all that, and posted your experience here, and received some feedback, and you still want to complain about Washington D.C., then by all means do so.

    I'm active in a professional organization and my kids activities. No more spare time for me besides work until my kids are off. I do share facts with a small cadre. Professional organization experience is rewarding because it puts me in contact with oldsters and youngsters, and helps bridge the generations.

    While I agree with needs at the local level, that doesn't at all address the massive Fed problem. I'm staring at Obama's $25K per person plan, and it probably overstates income and understates expenses.

    I in no way see that a list of works is necessary before complaining about DC. As long as there are those who champion big gov't, I'll have to champion small.

    I voted for President Obama and am darn proud of it.

    Lots-o-Luck getting your man 'Bobby' 'The Exorcist' Jindal and/or your gal Sarah 'Word Salad' Failin Palin elected next time. Maybe the bloated drug-addled gas-bag Limbaugh should make a run of it and show us all his good ideas (?) in action.

    Wow, using 2004 data published on the web 'Red State Socialism', Ky gets back $1.51 from the federal government for every $1.00 in federal taxes it contributes.

    So can your whining and fix your own state with the money you get from others. How are 'they' supposed to make your state workable? Programs are not ignorant, people are.

    Obama is saber rattling at North Korea over missile lauches. Did you expect that? Of course he's really making a statement to Iran, who is turning up a reactor now.

    What's the chance of that reactor going critical before it is bombed into oblivion? What better time to risk a war than when gas is so cheap?

    Why do you resort to calling neocons names? It only cheapens your points, and irritates those who view things differently.

    Just because a state gets back more than it pays doesn't mean it doesn't come with strings attached, nor does it mean it's a lot of money compared to what the gov't spends. It just illustrates that the gov't like to be in the loop, as a middle man siphoning off a few percent of every flow.

    My state gets back more than it pays in if you count military bases. Sure, it helps support the local economy, but it's not a case of state welfare per se, and the dollars are disproportionately large for a small state budget. Plus, costs are lower here than say CA, so it saves money to put bases in the "empty states".

    Why do you resort to calling neocons names? It only cheapens your points, and irritates those who view things differently.

    There is a kind of basic intelligence lacking in this sort of PC crap. If I had a penny for every time someone made such an idiotic comment but then failed to address equally critically the lies, obfuscations, propaganda and/or stupidity that engendered it, I'd be retired by now. And I say this to anyone who says this to anyone else, regardless of ideology or stance held. It's just intellectually hollow - or perhaps emotionally weak is more accurate - to decry some "rude" words while failing to decry unethical or immoral actions.

    You wanna know what's wrong with the world? This sort of thinking is.

    A: Thou has called that man a liar! Thou art unworthy to debate publicly, sir!!
    B: Um, he lied. Repeatedly.
    A: But thous should not SAY so, sir!
    B: OK, what about his lies?
    A: To each his own, sir! Every opinion must be heard, and all are equal!
    B: Um... why should lying be heard, and how can it be equal to the truth?
    A: Sir!! Have you no decency! A gentleman must always maintain decorum, Good Sir! The manner of one's address identifies thee as a Gentleman!
    B: Are you not offended by his lies?
    A: Don't be daft! However else could the world function?
    B: ......
    A: Well, sir? Cat got your tongue, has it?
    B: Ermm..... No... it's just... I'm trying to find the right words...
    A: Out with it, man! A man of slow wit has no place in civil society!
    B: Okie-dokie: you're an idiot.



    What's the chance of that reactor going critical before it is bombed into oblivion? What better time to risk a war than when gas is so cheap?

    As there are several thousand Russian technicians completing the commissioning of the reactor right now, I think the chances are pretty good it won't be bombed!

    From Airdale: A sign of ...what? I think before long its going to get very dirty.

    Does this statement represent your not-so-thinly veiled wish for insurrection or some kind of harm to come to someone?

    If so, you are no patriot, sir.

    Predicting it is not the same as wishing for it. Harm WILL come to many. It already has to some.

    What the hell are you talking about? The nation was born via insurrection! There is nothing more patriotic than fighting for country.

    Well, except not needing to because of active patriotism to begin with...


    I didn't vote for him, because I didn't want to spend the next 4 (or 8) years regretting my vote.

    Kinda hard to believe the denials of those with Obama '08 bumper stickers on their cars, though. . .

    I voted for Obama and it still feels good. :)

    I'm happy about my Obama vote too!

    I'm ecstatic about my vote against McCain/Palin!

    i proudly voted for obama and biden.

    i'm as happy as can be that we didnt elect the fascist ticket (mccain/palin). i dont understand why it was even close.

    i am also very happy we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, an end to the looting and corruption of the last 8 yrs.

    and i am happiest of all to hear the cacophony of stuck pigs squeeling, the wha wha wha, the crying and whimpering of the right wing whiners in congress, on fox news, cnn and here on tod.

    I didn't vote for either one. I am happy that Obama won over Palin. Too bad McCain made such a bad pick. What I am most unhappy about is the democratic Congress. Reid, Pelosi, Frank, Schumer all make me ill. Don't get me wrong though, I can't stand many of the Republican Congress people either. They are just on different sides of the trough.

    That said, keep living, you will see that in the end, Obama and Congress, who now have the last chance to save this thing, are doing exactly the wrong things regarding bank bailouts and out of control spending. Illargi and Stoneleigh have called it correctly.

    Myself, I am a true "doomer" believer. Buying some precious metals, some guns, much ammunition, and tools. Looking for the right small farm, selling my way to big house, buying the "right" books.

    I recently unexpectedly lost my wife, but I will continue on. I now am the sole support of my 25 year old autistic son...so not being prepared is not an option. Best of luck to all.

    Best of luck to you. Sounds like you are in a tough situation - but are trying to stay positive. I think that is the best thing.

    If I may suggest, you can save yourself a hell of a lot of money by not buying a farm, but buying the land. There is a LOT of land in the US for 1k to 5k/acre. If you've only got yourself and the boy, then 2 acres can provide all you need, including grains fruits, everything. You don't even need good land. Following permaculture/natural farming methods, you will build your soil yourself.

    This suggestion comes with the following caveats:

    * You would enjoy building your own home.
    * You are looking for a sustainable lifestyle.
    * You either A) think you have 1 - 3 years to develop your soil or B) are willing, and can afford, to lay in basics for the same time period, per posts here wrt storing fod and/or buying storage provisions from a company that packages such things
    * You will be following natural farming/permaculture methods for food production.

    Ideally, imo, you'd do this with other people or find a decent town or small city to live in or near.


    I just completed a lighting audit at our local SPCA. I thoroughly enjoy my work, but this visit left me emotionally drained. The dog adoption room had a number of dogs that were clearly excited to see a new face, each one vying for my attention, some raising a paw to say, in effect, "hi, pick me". I pray all will find a loving home soon. I don't want to say too much about the dogs and cats in the rescue room, many of whom will be euthanized because they are too weak, sick or physically and mentally abused to be offered for adoption; it broke my heart.

    If you know someone who may be interested in obtaining a companion pet, please encourage them to visit their local SPCA or animal shelter first. And if you love animals, consider a cash donation or volunteering a few hours of your time; it can really make a world of difference in the life of these animals.

    Of the six collies who have graced my life over the years, three have been rescues and each one has enriched my life in ways I can't even begin to describe. It's not fair to single out one for special mention, but I lost Kelsey last March and he's very deeply missed. That little fella touched a lot of hearts but he really stole mine.


    I was just going through my linen closet, picking out old sheets, towels, pillowcases, blankets, etc., to donate to the local ASPCA.

    I love animals. (More than most people. ;-) But I have just one elderly cat now, and when she goes, I probably won't get any more pets. I am not sure I will be able to care for them properly in the coming $#!+storm.

    Hi Leanan,

    I was going to mention blanets and towels, play toys, pet food, laundry detergent, office supplies, whatever you can offer I'm sure would be greatly appreciated. I made a honour/memorium in memory of my sister-in-law's mother who recently past away; when given the "charity of your choice" option, I normally choose the SPCA.

    In the Halifax-Dartmouth area, the two main animal shelters are the SPCA (http://www.metro.spcans.ca/index.html) and Bideawhile (http://www.bideawhile.org/). Both do very good work.

    We currently have two collies; Cameron, who is lounging in the chair and Jeanie, below. Jeanie comes to us from Maggie, our good friend and neighbour in Toronto who passed away from breast cancer earlier this summer.


    My local SPCA is always grateful for donations of canned pet food, leashes, collars, bowls, used or new sheets/blankets, etc., bleach, and paper towels.

    If I were in the market for a new pet, I would definitely adopt an adult from a reputable shelter, rather than buying a puppy or kitten. If you adopt an adult, you can chose your pet's personality. I've found it's very difficult to predict what kind of a cat a kitten will turn into; the sweetest, most affectionate kittens can grow up into mean, unfriendly cats. But if you adopt an adult, you know what you're getting. You can choose one that fits your lifestyle (a friendly dog-like one that follows you everywhere, an independent one that doesn't mind being home alone all day, one that's good with kids and other pets, etc.)

    I echo your wisdom about adopting adult pets. Besides knowing what their personalities are like, one doesn't have to worry about spade/neutering as they mature into reproductive adulthood. Wise advice also to pick a pet that suits your family and household routine. If you're someone who's never at home, don't accept a pet that requires a lot of attention.

    I am pleasantly surprised by how much animal care is provided through private and personal generosity. Some people have hearts as big as mountains for creatures great and small. For example, our local farrier, out of his own pocket, rehabilitates abused or neglected horses. It is a heartwarming to see him handle these horses as he walks them up and down the road for exercise. It is one less expense that the SPCA has to cover and the police know who to call when they rescue horses.

    The sad part is realizing that any of this care is necessary.

    All rescues here, 8 wonderful cats and the newcomer is a plott hound. He's taking over caring for the cats after they lost their black lab. 24 years old and I held her as the vet gave her the shot. I give her much credit in the raising of my children. She was their nanny and protector, broke my heart the first time oldest son stayed out all night, and she stayed right by the door waiting for him.In the later years had to build a ramp for her to go in and out.

    New young fella in enthusiastic for sure, loves the woodstove and the cats, all of a sudden he has a bunch of nice new friends.He has his specific nap buddies, and they look like roadkill all spread out and snoring by the stove. We had him in a dog crate for his first few days, and he was a little upset, the cats slept right up against it and on top of it so he did not feel alone. Took 3 days, and he said this is so kewl and became a part of the household. The cats seem very happy to have a dog again.

    Now, as I wander outside, he paces me, stays right by my side. He adores my wife, he thinks every word she speaks is spoken to him.

    Our local shelter had a good idea, they have a bottle drop for returnables, pull in drop them off and you're supporting the shelter. It's always overflowing. Good town I live in.

    Creatures make you whole. This is one I've said before, probably say it again, some days the most important thing I do is pet the kitten.

    Don in Maine

    My "Furry Baby" is a calico cat.

    A few months ago we found her wandering the hallways of our mega-complex apartment building. We took the darling kitty in for a few days "just until we locate her owner". Then it turned out that she was a soon to be teenage mom, who probably was abandoned because she was pregnant.

    Now we have one "root" furry baby, and two "sub" furry babies.
    As the human baby has been postponed for a few years the furry ones get a lot of love.

    I think that they really help with my husband's job stress. But I worry about the supply of food and kitty litter. Its all imported, either from Brazil or the US, and I have doubts about the Brazilian's quality. Things that are imported are subjected to sudden price leaps, and lack of availability.

    I plan to train the fuzzies how to use the toilet as a litter box, and I try to keep them accustomed to a variety of foods (liver=nom nom!). They occasionally down a flying cockroach, and show interest in the rodent sounds in the garbage room, but I worry that they'll ingest poisons or take a flying leap, so I try and distract them from hunting.

    If the "Furry Baby" momma is a hunter, then the kittens will be, too. And she'll teach them using cockroaches or anything else creeping or crawling.

    The patience, agility, and skillfulness of cats' hunting is fascinating to watch. Too bad about the dangers -- but that's apartment living -- perhaps consider them to be country mousers gentrified.

    As Don in Maine says, no day is complete without patting your pet. Sounds like a godsend for your husband's job stress.

    Good luck and Godspeed with teaching the furry and sub-furry babies to use the toilet. I've heard of it being done but haven't seen it in action myself. I've got one furry guy who likes the toilet bowel for another reason entirely :-)

    Three rescues here - 2 border collies and a ??? (lab-shepherd mix?). The collies were adopted after a notorious puppy mill around here got shut down, and they suddenly needed homes for a bunch of collies. Awesome dogs. Crazed, but awesome. And yes, we have sheep for them to work with...

    I love animals. (More than most people. ;-) But I have just one elderly cat now, and when she goes, I probably won't get any more pets.

    I'm with you there. My babies were Rottweilers, which if brought up right are incredibly attentive and gentle. Down to one rather old female now. Will take her for her three block walk (thats about it for her old legs), when I'm done here.

    Hi Paul,

    Every time I go to the SPCA, I end up with an extra pet at home. That's why I don't go there any more.

    At three cats, two of whom were feral rescues, we have all we can handle without leaving a smell in the house.

    One of our neighbours has over twenty cats in her barn. Stray and feral cats and dogs are a big problem in rural areas. City or town dwellers drop pups or kittens off at the side of the road in farming communities.

    Figure they would give them a fighting chance for survival, perhaps??? Or perhaps a car ride with litters is considered less expensive than going to the vet's office for neutering/spading or putting down the unwanted offspring?? No matter the reason, the consequences are heart-wrenching to see.

    I still remember leaving kittens home with my grandmother on Sunday mornings(we always had mice and therefore always had cats) only to find them gone when we returned from church. Myteriously, they would find themselves trapped in an old sock and drown in a nearby pond. As cruel as that may sound, it was far more merciful than watching them starve. There are only so many mice and my parents weren't fond of buying pet food.

    Over population is not just a human phenomenon. Be kind to your animals. Get them fixed.



    Hi Tom,

    As I was walking through the front door, I was worried I might be coming home with another little guy or gal (thankfully, no collies!)

    We have friends in St. Ann's who rescued a beautiful, gentle and very affectionate German Sheppard they call Shadow. Shadow was about six months old when he was abandoned along the side of the road in the dead of winter; he was so weak he couldn't walk and had to be carried to the car. I can't understand how anyone could be that cruel.

    And, I agree: pets should be neutered or spaded; it's the responsible thing to do.


    Paul, such disturbing stories are all too common. Domesticated animals are not equipped either physically and emotionally with abandonment on roadsides. Unless they find sympathetic people who will/can provide food in a sheltered place most will die of starvation and hyperthermia. Occasionally a cat will make it's own way on field mice and birds for a while; feral cats, though, don't live very long. Dogs sometimes will pool together with other strays to form wild packs -- a menacing danger to everything in their way.

    I know a local woman who takes in roadside strays; she's not well off herself so she relies on the assistance of neighbours to help her with her personal quest to give basic subsistence care to these poor creatures. She can't afford much more than a weekly purchase of a big bag of hard food. Her cats and dogs live in an open-ended uninsulated shed. The local SPCA is overcrowded and underfunded. She does what she can, but it is on an ad hoc and threadbare basis.

    It is far less cruel to have unwanted pets euthenized than to abandon them to the wiles of nature or man. They are called "domesticated" animals b/c they are dependent on people for their survival and quite defenseless on their own.

    I, like you, don't have much patience for either willful or negligent cruelty.

    Btw, Paul, did you and Ed adopt Shadow?

    Hi Tom,

    I couldn't imagine abandoning a pet and, like you, I would prefer an animal be euthanized than to suffer needlessly. Maggie's biggest fear was that Jeanie would be neglected or abused, and I think she took considerable comfort in knowing that Ed and I would never let that happen.

    I would have been thrilled to have welcomed Shadow into our home. I have a fondness for German Sheppards and this guy is incredibly charming (he's such a big wuss) but, happily, Harold and Donna are taking very good care of him. I don't visit Cape Breton all that often, but getting to spend time with Shadow is always a pleasure.


    Sounds like Shadow has a fresh start in a new home. A happy ending:-)

    Wife and I - and my daughter - are part of a German Shepherd Dog rescue organization.

    We have to GSD rescues - one is actually a 'foster failure' on our part. My daughter who fostered for several years now has her forever GSD foster failure.

    One good use for our full size Chevy van is that ever so often I pick up a bunch from the Miami Dade Animal control and whisk them to rescue organizations on the west coast of Florida. A labor of love.


    Pete, great to hear of your 'labor of love.' Keep up the good work.

    Curious, though, what is a GSD foster failure? (given that GSD stands for German Shepherd Dog, I presume)

    Also, what happens to the dogs after they are delivered to rescue organizations? Are they adopted out to reputable homes?


    Yes, GSD = German Shepherd Dog.

    A foster failure refers to a dog (actually the person) that is placed in a foster home and the foster so falls in love with the dog they cannot part with it and adopt it. :-)

    Most rescue organizations - esepcially the one we are affiliated with - take as many dogs as possible from the pounds (often death row) and place them in foster care until the dog can stabilize and often heal and then put them up for adoption. If the dog needs critical care then it will go - as in our case - to the rescue organization home base for recovery.

    The rescue organization we are affiliated with (Heidi's Legacy near Tampa, FL) will not have a dog euthanized unless it is suffering and untreatable. There are several dogs there that, for example, just never got adopted (sadly usually becasue they are older) butwill live there life out neglect and suffering.

    My wife and I once drove 700 miles within Florida in a single day top rescue one dog from near Jacksonville. We got there, got the dog, and learned that this county gasses them and then throws them in the - literally - adjacent landfill!

    I've gotten carried away - thanks for asking.


    And thank you, Pete, for your great work.


    I've got a question that I've been pondering for some time now and I'd appreciate anyone's input or answer. I always hear that fires, emergencies and unplanned shutdowns at refineries cause the price of crude to jump. It does not make any sense to me other than that the traders on the NYMEX have no idea that crude oil isn't produced by refineries but is purchased or used by them. If anything, I would expect that the price of crude drop as there will not be less demand if supply is held constant. Anyone have any input on this matter?

    Traders at the NYMEX trade gasoline too. That's what jumps during refinery fires, not crude.

    No, Apuleius, Anas is correct. Crude does jump when there are refinery problems.

    Anas, it is a mystery to me as well. I think this was the first question I posed here on TOD, and there is no logical reason, but my opinion is that the traders think that if products jump up then crude will as well, so they buy there. Possibly because of things like the boutique gasoline blends for particular markets or something.

    Hansen puts feet to the street:

    James Hansen of NASA, America's foremost climate scientist, will join hundreds of activists, many of them college students with the Power Shift climate movement, in an act of civil disobedience outside the coal plant that powers the US Capitol. Hansen has argued that preventing catastrophic climate change requires an end to new coal plants; now he will get arrested to make that point. "If there are young people sticking their necks out, how can old geezers who caused their problem hang back?" Hansen told The Nation. Wendell Berry, Bill McKibben and Gus Speth are some of the other environmental luminaries who plan to get arrested in the action, which is being spearheaded by Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network, Ruckus Society and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

    When will the sheeple follow?

    Techno-fix news of the day:
    Hottest Cleantech startups

    From clean diesel engines to personal solar panels, investors had a wide range of new technologies to peruse.


    The technology behind our products is the patented Trochoidal Gear Engine used in an organic rankine cycle to turn 150°F to 400°F liquid or gas input into electricity. Our systems are the most efficient, cost effective and durable way to convert low temperature heat (<400°F) into electricity in contrast to a number of technologies that only use higher temperature heat (>400°F). In most cases, our customers using waste heat as an input see less than a two or three year payback on their investment.

    Veranda Solar
    No info on pricing, which I think is the most critical issue. I've long hoped for something like what they claim, a solar panel with built in alternator and control circuitry -just put in the sun, and plug into an outlet. Of course cost per (peak) watt matters, and I see no mention of it. There about us page, seemed to be more about artists, and marketing types. What about engineers?

    From How to survive the coming century:

    "Still, if we should find ourselves in such a state you can bet we'd be working our hardest to get that green and pleasant world back, and to prevent matters getting even worse. This would involve trying to limit the effects climate feedback mechanisms and restoring natural carbon sequestration by reinstating tropical forest."

    ... proves that Karl Marx didn't use up the world's supply of hopeless naivete about human nature.