DrumBeat: March 5, 2009

The Peak Oil Crisis: Oil in the Great Recession

Currently world oil consumption is only down by a few million b/d from the all-time high levels of 2007-8. If this level of consumption holds, then the current OPEC production cuts of 3-4 million b/d seem to be on track to reduce stockpiles and force prices higher. The other side of the coin, however, is that the global economic situation is deteriorating far faster than most expected. It is possible that world oil consumption could quickly fall from a high of 86 million b/d in 2007 to 80 or even 70 million b/d simply because consumers can no longer afford and industries no longer need oil products in such volume.

In this situation, a new set of forces would come into play. While OPEC seems to be able to cut oil production by 3 or 4 million b/d, deliberately cutting production by 10 or 15 million b/d seems out of the question. The economies of the exporting nations that are already in financial trouble would simply collapse if oil exports were reduced by 50 percent. The consequences would be political turmoil and likely changes of government. The over-supply of oil would force prices lower. Analysts are already predicting that if oil goes to $20 a barrel there will be widespread reductions in oil production around the world as many fields can no longer produce oil this cheaply.

Oil prices fall with global energy demand sketchy

Oil prices shot up Wednesday when the government reported inventories tightened unexpectedly, but another round of disappointing economic news Thursday ate away some of that 9 percent rise.

"People are taking a second look and realizing the fundamentals are still weak. Demand is contracting," Halff said.

Oil to Refineries, Ports Cut Off

Oil supplies to three refineries and the Black Sea ports of Tuapse and Novorossiisk were cut off by a fire and leak on a central Russian pipeline this week, Transneft said Thursday.

Venezuela delays Orinoco bids

Venezuela has postponed its biggest offer of proved reserves to private companies by two to three weeks, according to the Norwegian embassy in Caracas, whose largest oil company is one of the bidders.

Sinopec sales and cash flow reduced by crisis

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp (Sinopec), Asia's biggest refiner, said the global financial crisis and a slowing economy had reduced sales and cash flow.

Daily fuel sales in December reached a record low of 280,000 tonnes, chairman Su Shulin said at the sidelines of the legislature's annual meeting.

Cuba's influence in Venezuela is growing

Cuban influence in Venezuela is growing beyond politics in a broad range of areas, from agriculture and commerce to energy and education - and even presidential security.

Some 40,000 Cubans are now working in Venezuela, and the island has received millions of dollars in petroleum subsidies that sway between 90,000 and 130,000 barrels a day, according to some estimates.

Oil Funds Can't Buy Fannie Bonds

Russia banned on Thursday investment of its $220 billion oil wealth funds in bonds of quasi-sovereign agencies such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, citing needs of its own budget and pension system.

China to plough extra 20% into agricultural production amid fears that climate change will spark food crisis

China will increase spending on agricultural production by 20% this year amid warnings that climate change could spark a future food crisis .

Prime minister Wen Jiabao's announcement of an extra 121 billion yuan (£13bn) to boost farm yields and raise rural incomes was a central part of his annual budget speech at the Great Hall of the People.

The government's spending pledge also included extra money for renewable energy and improved power efficiency, but these environmental benefits were outweighed by moves to boost overall domestic consumption and a likely emphasis on intensive agriculture.

Arctic summer ice could vanish by 2013, expert says

OTTAWA, March 5 (Reuters) - The Arctic is warming up so quickly that the region's sea ice cover in summer could vanish as early as 2013, decades earlier than some had predicted, a leading polar expert said on Thursday.

Warwick Vincent, director of the Centre for Northern Studies at Laval University in Quebec, said recent data on the ice cover "appear to be tracking the most pessimistic of the models", which call for an ice free summer in 2013.

The year "2013 is starting to look as though it is a lot more reasonable as a prediction. But each year we've been wrong -- each year we're finding that it's a little bit faster than expected," he told Reuters.

Amazon's 2005 drought created huge CO2 emissions

OSLO (Reuters) - A 2005 drought in the Amazon rainforest killed trees and released more greenhouse gas than the annual emissions of Europe and Japan, an international study showed on Thursday.

The report said rainforests from Africa to Latin America may speed up global warming if the climate becomes drier this century. Plants soak up heat-trapping carbon dioxide as they grow and release it when they die and rot.

Carbon Trading Will Delay Greenhouse-Gas Reductions, Exxon Says

(Bloomberg) -- A U.S. carbon-trading program would slow reductions in industrial greenhouse gases as volatile carbon prices discourage anti-pollution investments, said Exxon Mobil Corp. Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson.

Since December, Tillerson has been publicly telling lawmakers that adoption of a carbon-trading system akin to that used in the European Union would be ruinous to the U.S. economy. A carbon tax would work better because it would eliminate most of the volatility inherent in buying and selling emission credits, he said today.

Exxon Targets Nine New Projects in 2009 Spending Plan

(Bloomberg) -- Exxon Mobil Corp., the world’s largest company, plans to start nine new projects this year that will pump the equivalent of 485,000 barrels of oil a day, enough to supply one-third of U.S. East Coast refineries.

Calgary-based energy firm seeks bankruptcy protection

Canadian Superior Energy Inc., a financially troubled Calgary-based oil and natural gas explorer and producer, says it has filed an application for protection from creditors.

The company said it has filed the application under the federal Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act with the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta, which was to consider the measure Thursday.

U.S. looking at interim options for nuclear waste

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said on Thursday that his department is now considering short-term options for storage of nuclear waste since President Obama does not support moving forward with the planned nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain.

The department will consider solidifying liquid radioactive waste that is currently held at 121 locations across the nation, as the government works to develop a permanent solution for safe nuclear waste disposal. Chu said the department could solidify waste at current sites without environmental risk.

"The interim storage of waste with solidification is something we can do today," Chu told lawmakers at a hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Ukraine Pays Gazprom in Full as Putin Warns of Cuts

(Bloomberg) -- OAO Gazprom, Russia’s gas exporter, said it received full payment from Ukrainian state energy company NAK Naftogaz Ukrainy for February supplies, after Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned of a possible cut in deliveries.

Hours after Gazprom said it was missing $50 million from a $360 million payment for February from Kiev-based Naftogaz, the two companies said in separate statements that all accounts for last month have been settled. Naftogaz had until March 7 to pay the rest under a contract signed in January.

Reliant shares plunge on commodity price worries

Shares of Reliant Energy Inc. on Thursday plunged after an analyst cut his 2009 earnings estimate to reflect the company's sale of its Texas retail business to NRG Energy Inc., and expressed concern that depressed commodity prices and economic weakness will hurt the energy provider.

Reliant shares slid to $2.24 per share, a new 52-week low and its lowest point since 2002. By midday the shares had dropped 38 cents, or 14 percent, to $2.38.

Nigeria Bonny oil output back up near 200,000 bpd

ABUJA (Reuters) - Output at Nigeria's Bonny Light crude terminal, operated by Royal Dutch Shell, has ramped up to around 200,000 barrels per day, a senior official with state-run NNPC said on Thursday.

Builder kidnapped in Nigeria

ARMED militants have kidnapped a Lebanese man working on a road construction project in Nigeria's southwestern oil-producing state of Bayelsa, the military said overnight.

The military spokesman for a special patrol unit in the restive oil Niger Delta, Colonel Rabe Abubakar, said that the Lebanese man was seized yesterday by "fully armed" individuals.

BP Delays Plan to Close $2 Billion Refining Gap With Rivals

(Bloomberg) -- BP Plc, Europe’s second-largest oil company, delayed a plan to close a $2 billion earnings gap with competitors in refining and marketing after cutting 2009 investment in that business by 20 percent.

Alberta to spend $40M to reclaim abandoned well sites

The Alberta government is putting an additional $30 million towards reclaiming abandoned well sites, Energy Minister Mel Knight said Wednesday.

Knight said he and his cabinet colleagues believe this idea will achieve two goals: keep people working in the oilpatch and reclaim old well sites.

Bloom fades for agrofuels

Although Brazil’s development of sugar-based ethanol and biodiesel from soy beans, as fuels for export as well as domestic consumption, has been hailed as a success by many, it is clearly not the solution to peak oil or, on the other hand, the path to energy independence or reduced carbon emissions. It is also proving to be an environmental, economic and human rights nightmare.

Energy-gobbling city home to biggest solar roof

(CNN) -- With its energy-gobbling casinos, Atlantic City, New Jersey, isn't exactly known as a city that conserves electricity. Its motto: "Always turned on."

This oceanside gambling mecca seems an unlikely place for a pioneering solar energy project. But at a ceremony scheduled for Thursday, city and state officials were to commemorate the city's convention center, newly powered in part by the largest single-roof solar-panel array in the United States.

The upside of moving back into your parents' basement

(CNN) -- Jeffrey Root was running out of money working a fast-food job when he decided to seek a last-resort remedy to his financial woes:

He quit the job and moved into his parents' basement with his wife.

Root, a 26-year-old from Springville, Utah, says that was one of the best decisions he could have made. He sees his story as proof the economic crisis has an upside: It can help people ratchet down on needless spending and focus attention on things money can't buy.

Pemex to lower its natural gas production in 2009

Mexican state oil company Pemex is forecasting that its natural gas production in 2009 will fall for the first time since 2002.

Output is expected to slip on lower associated gas production at the prolific Cantarell field, which is in its stage of natural decline, Pemex spokesperson Carlos Ramírez said, citing PEP authorities.

The company projects 6.45Bf3/d (183Mm3/d) natural gas production in 2009, down 6.76% from the 6.92Bf3/d average in 2008, Pemex E&P subsidiary PEP's deputy director of planning and evaluation, Vinicio Suro, said in a webcast.

The coming liquid fuels crisis: the natural gas (partial) solution

Recently, Dr. Robert Hirsch wrote an article titled "Peak oil - what do we do now?". This brief but content-laden article opined that Peak Oil was essentially past tense, and it correctly implied that little mitigation has taken place, to date. The last paragraph included some mitigation action ideas, but notably missing was any mention of natural gas. Perhaps it was simply an oversight; but with a future liquid fuels/transportation fuels crisis in the works due to Peak Oil, citizens of the United States of America - and their leaders - need clarification.

The truth is, current natural gas prices confirm that there is a substantial surplus of natural gas deliverability in the United States. This surplus is largely due to a rapid development of several huge gas fields which were only discovered in the last several years. These new fields are often referred to as "resource plays", or "shale gas", or "unconventional gas". They are termed "unconventional" because they produce from rock that was formerly not believed capable of being a reservoir, and also due to the fact that this rock forms both the source and the trap for the natural gas.

From shortage to glut, oil markets struggle to stabilize

A tightening oil supply in conjunction with a surplus in gasoline reserves is an indication that the slowing demand for oil and gasoline, a consequence of the global recession, is resulting in simply a shift in where the glut in American fossil fuel markets is being stored. Eight months ago, however, we were frantically searching the globe for places to tap for more oil; ANWR, the OCS, oil shale, tar sands, anywhere we could find it, no matter how difficult it was to extract. The prices in the commodities markets justified the exploration into new, more difficult areas of extraction. Today, it is a different story, the world cannot shut off the spigot and is running out of places to store the glut.

The 2008 oil price spike and the airline industry

The most significant conclusion of the foregoing is that there is a real possibility that global oil production and supply might indeed reach an untimely peak. Such a peak would be devastating, especially for aviation. Timely mitigation measures, namely reducing consumption and shifting to other sources of energy, could reduce the impact. However, initiatives proposed so far have not been implemented, and the current economic slowdown coupled with the fall of the price of oil has shifted the focus away to currently more pressing challenges.

Infighting ties up EU billions for energy security

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A plan to spend billions of euros on overhauling the European Union's energy infrastructure has become mired in internal squabbling that could deprive the region's struggling economy of a timely stimulus.

In January, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso proposed spending 3.75 billion euros (3.3 billion pounds) of "spare" EU funds to shore up infrastructure after this winter's gas crisis left thousands of East European households shivering.

Iranians consume 2.5 times average world energy consumption

Zahedan - Energy Planning managing director of Iran's Petroleum Ministry said here Wednesday consumption of energy in Iran at all sectors is 2.5 times average world usage. Mohammad Reza Khattatie who was speaking at Energy Conference held at Sistan-o-Balouchestan University added, "Last year, due to energy crisis, the energy consumption had a declining rate globally."

He added, "All the same, in Iran from the year from the year 1996 till the year 2008 the average energy consumption increased from 2.88 to 3.27 percent, that is 2.5 times average global consumption rate."

John Michael Greer: The End of Retirement

People nowadays invest for many reasons, but one of the most common is retirement. Ever since the American pension system and its government equivalent, Social Security, began to shed their reputation for stability and adequate funding, a growing number of Americans – pushed that way by large and lavishly funded ad campaigns – have placed their hopes for a comfortable old age on investments. The result is a huge fraction of Americans who are emotionally as well as financially invested in the hope that a big payoff from their assets will enable them to have the retirement of their dreams.

If you are among the people who cling to that belief, I’m sorry to say I have bad news. Over the next decade or so, the huge overhang of paper wealth that now floods the world economy is going to lose nearly all its value. As it goes, it will take your retirement funds with it.

Wal-Mart gets a sales surge

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Wal-Mart Stores reported a strong surge in February sales Thursday that trounced analysts' expectations, citing falling gas prices for helping boost its discount customers' shopping budgets.

Oil may touch $75 as China hedges US Treasury risk

MUMBAI: After falling from $147 to $35 per barrel towards the end of last year, crude oil has once again gained and touched $45 per barrel on increased speculation that China’s stimulus plan may spur demand for the commodity near term. However, some experts are of the view that this is not just speculation but real purchases driving the prices up.

China is said to be considering buying crude oil as part of its strategy to diversify holdings from US Treasuries. This is to hedge against the risk of US Treasury prices dropping and dollar depreciation in the long run, with the Obama government issuing government bonds worth dollar trillions to finance economic stimulus measures.

The Asian giant, which has been building a national oil stockpile since 2004, is planning to stock 100 million barrels by next year, Japanese business daily Nikkei reported last week.

$40 oil 'a boost for global economy'

The world economy will effectively receive a $1 trillion stimulus if oil prices stay around $40 a barrel for the rest of this year, the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA) said today.

The IEA's director Nobuo Tanaka made the claim in an interview with the Reuters news agency.

Lower fuel bills were now supporting an ailing world economy, and Tanaka urged the club of oil exporters, Opec, to be cautious before cutting oil supplies at a meeting on 15 March.

Ruble Devaluation Has Run Its Course, Rosneft Says

(Bloomberg) -- The ruble’s devaluation has “run its course” as the currency has weakened in line with the price of oil, said Peter O’Brien, vice president for finance and investment at OAO Rosneft, Russia’s largest crude producer.

“If you look at how it’s done versus the oil price over the past seven to 10 years, they seem to be now in line,” O’Brien said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “A month or two ago it still looked like the ruble had a ways to go.”

Russian Reserves Have Smallest Monthly Drop Since Georgian War

(Bloomberg) -- Russia’s international reserves had the smallest monthly drop since the war against Georgia in August after oil prices advanced and the central bank refrained from spending foreign currency to support the ruble.

The world’s third-largest reserves stockpile fell 1 percent in February to $384.3 billion. They advanced $2.4 billion, or 0.6 percent, in the week ending Feb. 27, Bank Rossii said in an e-mailed statement today. Reserves fell $4.7 billion in the week to Feb. 20, the central bank said.

Norway trims outlook for E&P spend

Norway's statistics agency cut its forecast for 2009 investment in the country's oil and gas sector by 5.5% to Nkr137.4 billion ($19.46 billion) and also lowered its 2008 estimates.

The forecast, based on input from oil and gas companies, followed months of falling oil prices which have strained the industry, forcing project delays.

"The decrease is mainly due to lower estimates for on-stream fields," Statistics Norway said in a statement.

This signals that oil and gas companies have prioritised cuts in investment aimed at prolonging or expanding production at fields in operation instead of curbing exploration spending.

Norway increases state ownership in StatoilHydro

Norway's government has reached its goal of increasing its ownership in national oil company StatoilHydro ASA to 67 percent by slowly buying 19.3 billion kroner ($2.7 billion) worth of shares, the oil minister announced Thursday.

The government saw its share in the company diluted to 62.5 percent after state-controlled Statoil ASA took over the oil division of domestic rival Norsk Hydro ASA in October 2007 to form StatoilHydro.

Talisman Energy Net Income Rises 83% on Derivatives

(Bloomberg) -- Talisman Energy Inc., the Canadian explorer with reserves in North America, the North Sea and Southeast Asia, said fourth-quarter profit rose 83 percent as derivative contracts shielded the company from falling prices.

Galp to Invest EU5.2 Billion on Tupi Find, Refineries

(Bloomberg) -- Galp Energia SGPS SA, Portugal’s biggest oil company, plans to invest 5.2 billion euros ($6.5 billion) through 2013 as it develops projects including Tupi, the biggest oil discovery in the Americas in three decades.

U.S. Energy Dept to fund $84 million for geothermal energy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Energy Department on Wednesday said it plans to provide up to $84 million in funding for geothermal energy projects.

The department said it plans to award as much as $35 million for 20 or 30 research proposals addressing development of advanced geothermal technology.

Cheaper solar seen spurring demand, hitting producers

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A dramatic fall in the price of solar panels has made the clean power source a better deal than ever before, but solar manufacturers' profits have dwindled thanks to that rapid decline and many may not survive to see solar bargains evolve into booming customer demand.

Skyrocketing demand for solar power was a bright spot in the global economy for much of last year until a pullback in solar subsidies in Spain and frozen credit markets dried up access to project financing choked off demand, sending panel supplies soaring and prices into a free fall.

Ford launches major debt restructuring

DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co on Wednesday announced a plan to cut its $25.8 billion in automotive debt by about 40 percent by offering creditors cash and new shares as it looks to slash financing costs at a time of plunging sales and tight credit.

Rich nations revise up greenhouse gas problem

OSLO (Reuters) - Industrialized nations have added greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the annual totals of France or Australia to a 1990 baseline against which cuts required by U.N. climate treaties are measured.

Emissions reported by 34 nations for the 1990 base year that underpins U.N. efforts to rein in global warming have risen 3.5 percent overall to 17.6 billion tons in the most recent annual data from 17.0 billion in the first U.N. compilation in 1996, a Reuters survey showed on Wednesday.

That difference -- adding about 600 million tons of gases emitted mainly by burning fossil fuels to the problem -- is more than the current annual emissions of countries such as Italy, Australia or France.

Thomas Friedman: It's worse than Gore said

MUNCIE, Ind. -- Global warming is one of the top five problems facing humankind, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman told Ball State University students Wednesday.

"It's more accurate to call global warming 'weather weirdness,' " said Friedman, a best-selling author and three-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize. "The hots get hotter, the droughts get longer, the colds get colder, the wets get wetter, and the most violent storms become more numerous."

"That's what actually happens with climate change," he said.

Natural Gas as Answer to Oil Decline Could Lead to Catastrophe, Says Leading Expert

Ploughing resources into the use of natural gas as an alternative energy supply could lead to global shortage within 20 years time, according to a leading energy expert.

Professor in Physics at Uppsala University in Sweden, Kjell Aleklett, says reliance on natural gas – believed by many to be a key source of alternative fuel for the future – would be a major mistake.

Whilst it could provide a short term solution to the energy issue, Professor Aleklett believes it is not the long term answer we need to tackle what he predicts will be a continuing decline in global oil production.

Oil falls to near $44 on continuing demand worries

Oil prices slumped to near $44 a barrel Thursday after large gains in the previous session as investors seemed disappointed with the lack of new stimulus measures by China and fresh data confirmed the contracting economy in the European Union.

Putin: Russia could cut gas to Ukraine on Saturday

MOSCOW – Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is warning that Russia will cut natural gas to Ukraine if the country doesn't make payments by Saturday.

Much of Russia's gas destined for Europe transits Ukraine. A dispute over payments caused a two-week cutoff of Russian gas to much of Europe this winter before it was resolved.

Ukraine's next payment is due Saturday. Ukraine's ability to pay is undermined by a severe financial crisis.

Venezuela's Chavez seizes Cargill unit

CARACAS (Reuters) – President Hugo Chavez seized a unit of American food giant Cargill on Wednesday and threatened to take over Venezuela's largest private company, renewing a nationalization drive as the OPEC nation's oil income plunges.

Deflationary Depression or Hyperinflation? - Depression is a far more likely outcome than Hyperinflation

The ultimate problem is that the engine of the world economy is no longer capable of pulling it. In simple English, the question is: Will there be sufficient industrial activity across the planet to generate the economic wealth required to feed, clothe and house the masses. (And a definition of the masses is difficult to agree, because we now have 2 billion additional people in China and India who form part of the new world economy, and 2 billion people in Europe the USA and Latin America who form part of the old economy).

Clearly, if there is double the number of people who need to be accommodated and we have passed Peak Oil, then the answer to the question of hyperinflation vs depression vs healthy economic growth will depend on one thing and one thing only: Will we find a new energy paradigm that is powerful enough not only to replace oil and coal, but that can provide DOUBLE the energy that oil and coal were able to provide in combination?

Iraq passes sharply reduced budget for 2009

BAGHDAD – Iraq's parliament has passed a $58.6 billion budget for this year after agreeing to sharp cuts amid falling oil prices.

Lawmaker Sami al-Atroushi says the budget was approved Thursday after political blocs reached a compromise to break a weeks-long deadlock.

Granholm: Hike gas tax to fix roads

LANSING (AP) — Noting that state roads are "the pits," Gov. Jennifer Granholm said Wednesday that she supports changing the state gasoline tax to raise more money as gas prices rise.

Granholm told reporters that the state's current 19-cent-per-gallon tax doesn't raise enough money to repair Michigan's aging roads.

"The roads are the pits. We have no long-term funding source to make sure the roads are smooth," she said.

Mortgage rescue squad arrives -- but this may only be the first emergency response

One of the best resources for understanding what's really going on in the energy markets is The Oil Drum. I'll call your attention to a report on Saudi oil production -- a closely guarded secret in the kingdom with the world's largest reserves -- but data leak out. They indicate that Saudi production peaked in 2005 and is now headed down. This is Huge, as Donald Trump would say.

Stelmach fires back against oil sands critics

Smarting from a National Geographic article that described Alberta's oil sands upgraders as "dark satanic mills," Premier Ed Stelmach fired back yesterday at critics of the province's most prized energy assets.

EPA considers tougher auto emissions rules

A simmering fight over auto emissions flares anew Thursday, and the outcome could boost the price of your next new car.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency begins hearings Thursday to decide whether to reverse its 2007 decision blocking proposed California clean-air regulations that would have the effect of a dramatic rise in fuel economy requirements.

GM auditors raise the specter of Chapter 11

DETROIT (AP) -- General Motors Corp.'s auditors have raised "substantial doubt" about the troubled automaker's ability to continue operations, and the company said it may have to seek bankruptcy protection if it can't execute a huge restructuring plan.

The automaker revealed the concerns Thursday in an annual report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Transition towns

I’m thinking we’re about due for another “British Invasion.”

This time, instead of fresh musical influences, look for the entrance of the Transition Towns movement, a set of exciting ideas for creating and organizing social change in response to the challenges of peak oil and global warming.

Electric cars could be allowed on more Colo. roads

(AP:DENVER) Colorado lawmakers are considering allowing small, slow electric cars on more roadways to reduce pollution and gasoline dependance.

The Senate gave initial backing Wednesday to a measure (Senate Bill 75) that would allow the cars on state highways with speed limits of 35 mph or less. Currently the cars, which can go up to 25 mph, are allowed on roads that aren't state highways or don't cross one.

Siemens teams up with Russia for slice of nuclear pie

BERLIN (AFP) – Siemens has become the latest German firm to up its game and tap into the renewed interest in nuclear power being seen all across the world -- but not in the company's own backyard.

'Albatross' gone, India offers hand to US

WASHINGTON (AFP) – With a landmark nuclear deal removing an "albatross" in relations, India says it is seeking new forms of cooperation with the United States -- and sees climate change as a prime area.

Brown: US must lead on economy, climate change

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Prime Minister Gordon Brown urged the United States to harness historic global goodwill to pull the world out of its economic slump and lead the charge against climate change.

"We should seize this moment because never before have I seen a world willing to come together so much, never before has that been more needed," he said in a landmark speech to a rare joint session of the US Congress.

Climate change bad news for most birds: study

The study, published in the online journal PLoS ONE, analysed data for 122 wild bird species, more than a fifth of the 526 species known to nest in Europe.

"We found that the number being negatively impacted was nearly three times greater than that benefit from climate change," said co-author Frederic Jiguet, a research at France's National Museum of Natural History.

Washington new center of global warming battle

WASHINGTON (AFP) – European ministers are flocking to Washington drawn by the new administration's pledge to help lead the fight against climate change, an issue largely put on ice for eight years here.

Ministers from across Europe as well as Canada are taking part in a whirl of meetings here this week to gauge prospects of Congress adopting key climate-change legislation ahead of a major UN climate conference in December.

Opinion: Let's Get Real About Renewable Energy
Robert Bryce, Managing Editor, Energy Tribune
We can double the output of solar and wind, and double it again. We'll still depend on hydrocarbons.

Of course, you might respond that renewables need to start somewhere. True enough -- and to be clear, I'm not opposed to renewables. I have solar panels on the roof of my house here in Texas that generate 3,200 watts. And those panels (which were heavily subsidized by Austin Energy, the city-owned utility) provide about one-third of the electricity my family of five consumes. Better still, solar panel producers like First Solar Inc. are lowering the cost of solar cells. On the day of Mr. Obama's speech, the company announced that it is now producing solar cells for $0.98 per watt, thereby breaking the important $1-per-watt price barrier. And yet, while price reductions are important, the wind is intermittent, and so are sunny days. That means they cannot provide the baseload power, i.e., the amount of electricity required to meet minimum demand, that Americans want.

That issue aside, the scale problem persists. For the sake of convenience, let's convert the energy produced by U.S. wind and solar installations into oil equivalents. The conversion of electricity into oil terms is straightforward: one barrel of oil contains the energy equivalent of 1.64 megawatt-hours of electricity. Thus, 45,493,000 megawatt-hours divided by 1.64 megawatt-hours per barrel of oil equals 27.7 million barrels of oil equivalent from solar and wind for all of 2008.

Now divide that 27.7 million barrels by 365 days and you find that solar and wind sources are providing the equivalent of 76,000 barrels of oil per day. America's total primary energy use is about 47.4 million barrels of oil equivalent per day. . . Here's another way to consider the 76,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day that come from solar and wind: It's approximately equal to the raw energy output of one average-sized coal mine.

Based on this, it appears that current wind & solar supply about 0.16% of total primary energy use. Of course, as a percentage of electricity, it's higher, I believe 1.1%.

We need to conserve and waste a lot less energy. One advantage of residential solar is that it helps a person understand how much renewable power is really available on a day to day basis, and how much their lifestyle is subsidized by fossil fuels.

Speaking of residential solar:
Solar incentive quickens payback

Instead of paying money each month to customers who install solar panels, the new incentive is upfront and based on the amount of power a home's panels would generate during its first year.. a customer who installs 10 panels, which amounts to a 2-kilowatt system, would receive an incentive of $3,600 from Focus on Energy and then another $1,800 from We Energies. Throw in a 30% federal tax credit, and a roughly $17,000 solar system would end up costing a homeowner about $8,250, Wolter said. He estimates the payback period for solar now stands at about 17 years for homeowners and about 10 years for businesses

This certainly puts solar in perspective but you should also consider capacity. First Solar, just one company, says it will have the capacity to manufacture 1.1 gigawatts per year by the end of 2009. Solar will contribute more and more.

We need to conserve and waste a lot less energy. One advantage of residential solar is that it helps a person understand how much renewable power is really available on a day to day basis, and how much their lifestyle is subsidized by fossil fuels.

Watching my battery bank voltage rise and drop as my production or consumption rises and drops makes one appreciate energy usage. I have 75 watts of peak solar power and 400 watts of peak wind power. During the winter I obviously don't get peak solar, and wind is always intermittent even though it does help top off the batteries. (Especially in March!)

It provides me the power to run my laptop all day, and run lights at night. It is the setup for my Airstream, and when I'm finished constructing the exterior of my house, I will have an additional 320 watts of solar power to add to the mix, which will allow me to power my front-loading washing machine and an efficient refrigerator.

The WSJ guy has 3kw of solar panels, which provides 1/3 of his power for his family of 5. That's double the amount I plan on having on my house long-term, which should provide more than enough power for me. He should consider reducing his consumption at least to where his panels provide 2/3 of his power. Obviously children are often not mindful of conservation..

At any rate, renewable energy can power our needs, if we're willing to cut back. If we set the A/C thermostat at 80F instead of 70F, set the heat at 60F (or even lower) instead of 70F, have well insulated homes, turn off devices when they're not in use, and have energy efficient devices, we could do it.. But people are unwilling to cut back.

My living in this 31 foot silver twinkie has caused me to appreciate that things like washing machines are truly luxuries. While my home will be "spartan" compared to most people's ideas of living, it will be lavish compared to what I have been doing for the past 4 months. (And heck, for a period of time I was living in a tent on my land.) What can I say, not everybody is willing to rough it...

However, when everyone becomes forced to "rough it" via power outages, no natural gas, food shortages, etc, I will have already adapted... Adapt now willingly, or adopt later unwillingly.

~Durandal (http://www.wtdwtshtf.com)

Thanks, Durandal.
I've heard similar reports again and again. Installing a bit of your own power generation makes many owners much more aware of wasted energy, and are then more proactive about finding negawatts, insulating, etc..

My Hot Air Panel is blowing 123 degreeF air into the house today.. it was already well above 80 by 8:15 this morning. Now I'm scheming to have it blowing through a brick conduit below the first floor, between the joists.. so there is thermal mass carrying some of that heat through into the nights. There's so much we can do right at home!


On come on...you're living the good life in the trailer. My wife, I and 2 cats spent 6 months in a 6x9' tent while I was building one of our houses. We showered using a rubber bag (heated in the sun) hung from a tree limb. The "kitchen" was a folding aluminum camp table under the trees. The only time it was a bummer was when we got heavy ran or snow.


An Airstream would be sweet. If I'd only managed my finances differently.....

Bathing right now is via a large pot of water heated on the stove, that uses propane so a sun-powered system is in order. This thing is probably about the same size as an Airstream, and back in the 80s I paid $500/month rent to live in something slightly smaller.

It's time to think about some kind of sun heated shower arrangement.

You live in the desert, right? If you want to keep things stupid-simple and are willing to take the hot water when its willing to give it, a "batch" heater would probably work rather well for you. Just find a couple of old water heaters (preferably non-leaking) and strip them down to the tank, paint the tank black...put the tanks in an insulated box with a glass face and you have a reservoir of hot water.

For the record, you have no idea where I live.

I escaped N. Arizona 6 months ago, and have been nomadic around the SF Bay Area, and I think I've found a place to settle down, here in Gilroy, CA. I will not define it down further than this town, Gilroy, and even that may be poor security. Around here though, no one really has a clear idea of where others live, since it's the Internet, where people are as ephemeral as soap bubbles and about as substantial.

No, it is not a desert here.

No, it is not a desert here.

Uhh! I used to live in New Mexico, but compared to California, that was a lush garden spot. Nothing like getting nothing but sun (never a cloud to be seen) for more than six months. It is a little less bad closer to the coast (summer temps are usually cooler there), but even in the Sierra, things can get exceptionally dry during the summer. This site talks a lot about growing your own food. But if you have to pay municipal water rates, there is no way you could grow any food cheaper than you could buy it. Wait a few more weeks, the green hills will turn into dried straw.

Gilroy is described as "Mediterranean" which is desert-y in terms of rainfall (to someone that lives in WNC anyhow), but I guess it's close enough to the coast to be moderated somewhat. Still, it's going to get what should be excellent inSOLation and shouldn't experience a long and lasting freeze that would say, turn a couple of tanks of water outside into a couple of bulging ice cubes.


If your plans go as expected...won't someone be able to roll into town and start asking people if they know of "That funny fella that plays the saw" and basically stroll right up to you? Does look like a nice place, though (Google maps are tied in to photo sites).

Ah, yes, fun with numbers.

Bryce's calculation assumes oil and electricity are, in essence, interchangeable. Well, not really. He should be comparing the amount of oil used to produce electricity, which is lost in his computation. Burning the oil to make steam and then drive a turbine results in more than half the energy in the oil going up the stack, so to speak. Furthermore, his calculation uses only the most expensive producer of renewable energy, that is, PV or wind, leaving out water power, which, as he notes, provides a substantial fraction of electricity supply. His calculation ignores the fact that some of the oil (and a large fraction of natural gas) is used to heat buildings or produce hot water, a function which could be directly be provided by solar thermal collectors. Using solar PV electricity to heat water to 120F is foolish.

Looks like another hatchet job from an industry oriented commentator. That's what we've come to expect from the WSJ.

E. Swanson

Although I am definitely not in any way an expert on electric power or national electric power usage, I was also somewhat skeptical of his conversion of electric power into a BOPD figure. However, what about his comparison for electricity generated from wind and solar to the total electrical usage in the US in megawatt-hours? Do these figures seem reasonable? Does it really amount to only 1.1% of our total electricity consumption? That seems pretty pathetic considering how much wind energy development there has been in the last few years. Additionally, you say that it should be compared to how much oil we use to produce electricity. My question is; are we actually still burning oil to make electricity in this country? That seems crazy to me. Anyway, if his figure that wind and solar power only make up 1.1% of our total electrical consumption is true, then I have to agree that it seems unreasonable that we can rapidly transition away from hydrocarbon energy with the use of renewable energy. Not that we shouldn't continue with renewables, but we should be realistic about their potential.

My question is; are we actually still burning oil to make electricity in this country?

Yes, but only in places where it would be difficult to find alternatives. Hawaii gets most of its electricity from oil-burning plants. Most of the rest of the nation switched to coal or natural gas after the '70s oil crisis, but apparently, that's not practical on islands.

They've tried geothermal, ocean thermal, solar, wind, etc., but so far, oil is the cheapest.

Also a number of Alaskan villages, Puerto Rico, peaking power in New England, emergency back-up just about everywhere.


Don't forget "peaking power" facilities. These are basically jet engines strapped to a generator and used for fast response power that the baseload can't adjust to. Very important in the grid and there are a number that are oil fired, in addition to NG and LPG.

I was attempting to point out that Bryce was comparing a primary energy source (oil) with a product (electricity) on an equivalent BTU basis. That comparison ignores the fact that oil is not electricity. The comparison should have been between electricity produced from oil and electricity produced by renewables. Since using oil requires more than twice as many BTU's to produce a BTU of electricity, a BTU of electricity produced directly from a renewable is the equivalent of 2+ BTU's of oil (or other fossil fuel).

Also, there are still many folks who use oil and kerosene for thermal energy. Where is his comparison between a BTU of thermal energy from oil with a BTU of low temperature thermal energy from solar? That's why I think he is biased.

E. Swanson

Many times here it has been stated that not all energy sources are created equal i.e. Wind and PV unreliable and electricity in general hard to transport. This may already have been argued many times as well, but as we slowly/quickly move past peak I have come to the conclusion that OIL is just way to important to continue to be used as a source of energy. Apart from reducing the world population to around 1 billion (which I know some will argue to do), how do we even begin to move off of an Oil based energy economy without using huge amounts of Oil in very things that will increase efficiencies and reduce our dependence on oil? For example at $500 a barrel what does that do the cost of thin film PV arrays and the blades for wind trubines? How many BTU's does it take to make a glass I.V. bottle versus one from a polymer? When you think about everything that oil does besides being used as a source of energy the interconnections are staggering.

I have to disagree with Westexas' numbers on solar energy. Most solar energy in use today is not electricity, but solar heat that does not trade and is therefore not part of the economy. This does not mean it's not actual energy that does an amazing number of things such as: heat my water, provide supplemental heat for my home (solar air heater, passive solar), dries my clothes, cooks some of my food (solar oven), etc. Using solar for heating things instead of for electricity is up to five times as efficient (around 60% for solar hot water, 12-15% for most PV), but heavily underutilized.

This is one of the major flaws of neoclassical economics: if it doesn't get traded, then it has no value. Hence, things like the environment, healthy relationships, quality of life, etc have no value. Unfortunately individual energy independence is "bad" for the economy, but good for everything else.

Stephen Hren

uprated 1,000

Don in Maine

"solar panel producers like First Solar Inc. are lowering the cost of solar cells. On the day of Mr. Obama's speech, the company announced that it is now producing solar cells for $0.98 per watt, thereby breaking the important $1-per-watt price barrier"

Not sure where this figure came from but, I have found no such panels at that price.

I am in the market for panels ... any link would be appreciated

That's the cost to produce, as opposed to wholesale or retail prices..
I've found this site to be pretty good with prices:
I have some Evergreen Solar panels I ordered from them.

This is HUGE news (if it passes)

from Reuters story last night: link (thanks Leanan)

U.S. oil and natural gas producing companies should not receive federal subsidies in the form of tax breaks because their businesses contribute to global warming, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told Congress on Wednesday.

It was one of the sharpest attacks yet on the oil and gas industry by a top Obama administration official, reinforcing the White House stance that new U.S. energy policy will focus on promoting renewable energy sources like wind and solar power and rely less on traditional fossil fuels like oil as America tackles climate change.

"We don't believe it makes sense to significantly subsidize the production and use of sources of energy (like oil and gas) that are dramatically going to add to our climate change (problem). We don't think that's good economic policy and we think changing those incentives is good for the country," Geithner told the Senate Finance Committee at a hearing on the White House's proposed budget for the 2010 spending year.

The Obama administration's budget would levy an excise tax on oil and natural gas produced in the Gulf of Mexico, raising $5.3 billion in revenue from 2011 to 2019.

A trader friend of mine says nat gas goes to $20 per mcf if this is enacted. Methinks the government is going to find out that 'renewable' does not connote 'equal' in short fashion....

Imagine a scenario where a well costs $7 mil to drill - $5 mil in intangible rig/day rates/frac crews and $2 mil in steel etc. Currently intangible costs can be used as tax credit – you can defer paying your taxes. For accounting purposes all 7 mil flows through amortization over life of well – for tax purposes it reduces cash flow. It will effectively slash cash flow which in a debt-starved environment will accelerate drop in cap-ex and drop rig count - making prices higher in future but higher threshold for EP profits.

I think this is pent up angst at big oil that dems have waited for their day in sun to penalize the XOMs and Chevrons of world. But the situation has changed so much since then -I'm hearing that the House is clueless about the impact this has on US E&P industry but some in Senate understand that it cannot pass.

In some senses it is brilliant because it will cause a plurality of US nat gas companies to go out of business or at least suffer greatly, which will happen anyways due to our economies inability to afford $/mcf prices high enough to go faster on treadmill. There will be huge consolidation - <10 survivors. It will also keep oil and gas in the ground for the future because it de facto raises the minimum price needed to drill by 25%.

The Senate debate on the budget will be very interesting.

In any case, based on the article uptop, if we start with wind & solar equal to about 76,000 bpd of oil equivalent, wind & solar production would have to grow at about +20%/year for 20 years to bring them up to about 10% of current total US primary energy consumption.

When you really down to their energy outlook, I'm not sure that the Obama Administration differs materially from Peter Huber--who asserts that our total energy consumption will increase forever, because we will always find new alternative sources of energy to offset older depleting sources. This is is my major disappointment with Obama, he is basically promulgating the infinite growth model, we will just power our auto centric suburban way of life with cool new green sources of energy.

I suppose the only real difference with the Republicans regarding infinite growth is that the Republicans seem to believe that we can power infinite growth with fossil fuels.

To me, I read this legislation as:
"In other words, on top of the increasing state gasoline tax, until I figure out how to power my car with wind energy I will pay more for gas as the E&P companies push through their cost increases. Alternatively, I likely cannot afford the prices E&P companies will need, so they will go out of business"

I'm not saying I agree or disagree with the legislation, but am saying that the facts of our looming energy trainwreck are coming to the surface.

ONLY solution is to reduce consumption.

Regarding consumption, I agree, which is why I think that we need to tax energy consumption at the retail level, offset by abolishing the Payroll Tax, and use the the tax revenue to pay Social Security + Medicare, probably plus electrified mass transit, and then continue to offer tax credits for wind & solar. But this basically forces politicians to acknowledge that we can't have infinite growth.

BTW, there is a certain logic to Obama's plan--if you accept the premise that ExxonMobil, CERA and OPEC are right that Peak Oil, worst case, is decades away and that when it comes it will be more of an "undulating plateau"--which is probably Obama's operating premise, i.e., that the biggest threat is Global Warming, in the context of abundant remaining fossil fuels.

In any case, based on the article uptop, if we start with wind & solar equal to about 76,000 bpd of oil equivalent, wind & solar production would have to grow at about +20%/year for 20 years to bring them up to about 10% of current total US primary energy consumption.

The recent growth rates of those industries have been about double that. So your twenty years becomes ten.

Now, I think the Obama hostility to oil/gas is foolish, both economically, and politically. Once scarcity prices reassert themselves, the howls of drill drill drill will be back stronger than ever. He should at least throw them some highly visable bones, so he can claim to have not been obstructionist to domestic production. But I don't think anyone in the administration wants to hear that now.

Evidence that while the American way of life may not be negotiable, it can come to an end?

Geithner's remarks are a start, but not complete. When we end percentage depletion on oil and gas, let's do so for coal and all of the other minerals which get such tax benefit. The list is available in IRS publication 535, on page 32, and include uranium, copper, coal, gold, and silver in the list where I counted 29 substances, plus oil and natural gas which are dealt with elsewhere. Surely if the administration wished to stop tax incentives for polluting substances, coal should be at the top of that list. Of course, the result will be an increase in electric rates probably before the ink could dry on such a proposal, so that is probably not going to happen. Since Illinois is, or was, a strong coal mining state, it isn't going to happen for that reason as well.

This suggestion was sent, by me, to WhiteHouse.gov at the time of the proposal to kill breaks for the oil and gas industry, and I haven't received any response as of this time.

We should kill all of the golden geese at the same time.

Even golden geese are partisan.
It could be that the rollback of the tax deferral for drilling is pushback against the "pork/earmarks" criticism that's been levelled against the latest bailout. Quantitative arguments about how all the earmarks combined amounted to an insignificant fraction of the total seemed to gain no traction. The more traditional approach may work better: threaten your adversary's sacred ox whenever he tries to gore yours.

That is exactly what I was suggesting. It is ironic, however, that the current administration is favoring coal over oil/natural gas.

The cereal business has long been used to explain the differences and similarities of the oil and gas deductions to other situations. If all cereal companies had to capitalize all of their development expenses, starting with the think tanks which develop the junk food-type of sugar laden cereals our kids are implored to eat, capitalize all of their market research, the naming of the product, and the test marketing to refine the business model to be used once it is operational, and then write off those costs over 7 years if the product was successful, it would be similiar to the tax treatment of oil and gas exploration and development. But ask the average Joe (not the plumber, for God's sake) and oil and gas gets all kinds of tax breaks. True, depletion is one break the industry does get, but as I pointed out, so does coal, sand, gravel, etc.

What we need is reasonable tax laws to have a reasonable business atmosphere. That is why I am non-commital as to eliminating percentage depletion for oil and gas, so long as the industry is treated like other extractive industries.

Woodychuck, you or I [or anyone else with a few thousand bucks to invest] may get percentage depletion if we make a well, but I believe this break is only available to independents. Don't get me wrong, a company can be quite large and still be considered an independent by the IRS, but eliminating percentage depletion is targeting the smaller producers not Exxon.

IIRC, depletion is available only on the first 1,000 bbls/d of pdn. Exxon, etc were put out a few years back. There was a difference in depletion for stripper wells, but it is/was dependent on price. Price at $15 Bbl, you got a higher rate, but not now. BUT - a lot of the domestic pdn is by independents since the big boys can't make money off stripper wells.

Percentage depletion is available to royalty owners as well as producers, and there are a ton of them as well.

And, a few thousand dollars won't get you much. I have to decide soon if I am going to drill or lose 2 leases. These would be shallow wells - 1800-2400' each - and my latest dry hole estimate is $45,000. I can drill these with an air rig except we may have to mud up for the last 3-500', which is usually where I punt. A few thousand won't do it anymore. I already have over $10,000 in each, for lease, damages, archealogical and various other surveys. BTW, the 45K dry hole cost is very low in the industry. I was told recently that a mud rig in N Texas brings $14.00 a foot, andy you pay for the water (in and out) and location, which is larger than for air drilling.

I hear you. I don't operate anything and never take more than 15 percent of anything which is how I personally get to the "few thousand dollars." If you can do anything other than the 500 to 1000 foot sands for 45k dry hole costs you are doing a good job of watching your expenses.

"We don't think that's good economic policy and we think changing those incentives is good for the country"

Yeah, right. What a joke. If Geithner really wants to change the incentives to consume energy, then how about:

- Abolish the mortgage deduction, a twofer removing the incentive to buy far more energy-guzzling house than one needs or even can handle, and the incentive to use far more energy-guzzling transportation (to get to said house) than one would use otherwise.
- Abolish FHA subsidies and other lavish handouts, for the same reasons. Limit any remaining safety-net subsidies to basic low-end housing only; taxpayers get socked enough without having to subsidize affluent peoples' heirs.
- Stop stimulus and other money going to reckless people now in over their heads. Override local zoning laws and make the houses affordable by converting them to duplexes and selling or renting the other half.
- Stop stimulus money going to new highways or highway expansions - if people buy (or rent) only what they actually need, instead of buying to speculate, there will be plenty of room for them in the duplexes. Exurban development will cease of its own accord and the highways will be superfluous irrespective of oil prices.
- Put an end once and for all to inane quasi-religious declarations from the government about "owning" houses. As someone pointed out in The Guardian (long enough ago that I can't find a link any more), if "ownership" were discouraged, people would become aware of the (utility) cost of housing, instead of thinking of it as manna from heaven. That would encourage them to consume only what they need.

Oh, wait, I was forgetting. Geithner has no plan except to keep his boss in power, so he's just into the usual feckless populist grandstanding.

Present your evidence that Tim Geithner is working to keep his boss (your words) in power. Put it this way, where is the evidence that Tim Geithner would not be in that job had McCain won the election.

What makes you think Obama is his boss? Who is Obama's boss?

What makes you think Obama is his boss? Who is Obama's boss?

Daar God, let's not start that stupid thread again.

Well exactly, but that's where all questions of what politicians will do about these issues that are beyond their control end up. They will do what is in their best interests, which may have nothing to do with making the situation better for us. And by and large these are people who have proved very good at taking care of themselves. I do not really think our government functionaries can do much about peak oil or climate change at this point, and the financial situation is mostly out of their control too.

Two great and interesting questions. TNX. I wish I were the fly on the wall and could listen to both sides of the telephone conversations. I rather doubt what we get here is anywhere near the truth.

The main reason I am a Doomer is the fact that the goal of politicians who control our destiny is only to get re-elected and that takes a lot of money.

The main reason I am a Doomer is the fact that the goal of politicians who control our destiny is only to get re-elected and that takes a lot of money.

The newspapers in Holland wrote a few weeks ago that Obama said they have to look for a new president if the stimulus plan is not going to work. Saying and doing is not the same but things could get so bad that he will regret some day having run for president.

I would rather see the oil and gas companies get the tax breaks than have Tax Cheat Geithners friends in the "Too Big To Fail" Industries get all the bailouts!

Any TAX on a company that is leveled by the Government in any of its sizes is a hidden tax on you. If you buy that companies product or buy from their customers you will be spending more money than you did before the tax was levied.

What Most Government folks do not think of is the simple pass the costs to the customers rule of every business. Raise the cost of doing business you raise the prices and or you increase the number of businesses that are there next tax season. Thereby giving the companies left more of the pie, and more ability to raise the prices for the consumer.

Great that they want to get rid of Big OIL because big oil seems to have been making more money than people want them to have made, but be careful. There will be a time when the USA might have to drill for OIL as a State Owned Oil company.

Which is even worse in my opinion. Ruins the way our country should be run.


Any TAX on a company that is leveled by the Government in any of its sizes is a hidden tax on you.


GM is paying no income taxes (and got all taxes paid in prior years refunded, "tax loss carryback" for 7 years). GM has not lowered their prices as a result of the refund.

Taxes on casinos, tobacco companies, etc. have no impact on me since I do not buy their products, and taxes on oil companies & utilities have little direct impact on me since I use little of their products.

And raising corporate tax rates by, say, 5%, is very unlikely IMO to raise prices.

All corporate income taxes collected for several decades cannot pay for the corporate bailout going on. Since we are GIVING corporations $1 trillion or so, can we expect them to lower prices ?

I see a very weak connection between corporate taxes and price levels.


Alan, I agree that cost of production and price are not that closely linked in the short run. In the longer term to the extent that marginal production that is slightly profitable can continue to work the tail of decline curve for a very long time. Marginal production that is slightly unprofitable will be plugged at some point. Everything else being equal, less supply will mean higher prices.

However, to your point, since marginal production does not generate a lot of income, the tax rate does not effect the economics much at the lease level, but a higher tax rate on oil companies will tend to stress the producers and depress supply dependent on new investments.

In happier [or maybe it should be "more oblivious" times] debt was the stock answer. This is the time of deleveraging. Caution is the order of the day.

You the term, only If you buy that companies product, then you will sooner or later be paying for any of their cost increases.

If you don't buy smokes, booze, Gas, Auto insurance, etc, etc, then you won't be customers of those companies.

I guest I should be more thoughtful when I state general thoughts.


No Worries, I don't have auto insurance, or Gasoline high on my buying chart.
I do smoke on occasion, and I do drink on occasion, so I do see those increases.

Nate, I am not certain why you believe bigger means lower cost or maybe I am reading too much into you massive consolidation theory.

The way I see it, the little guys who did not assume a lot of debt will do relatively better than the large independents or majors most of whose balance sheets are predicated on maintaining leverage to enhance ROI.

I have no interests in any unconventionial gas plays, but one of the operators I used to work with has a number of Barnett Shale wells that are several years old. At this point, they have paid out and are cash cows. It is very easy to get too enthusiastic and over leverage. Leverage makes everything look better until it stops working [which may be the new motto for the US and World economies.]

BTW, techniclly intangible drilling cost is treated as a deduction not a credit.

...nat gas goes to $20 per mcf

What's really interesting about this is that if nat gas requires a 75% subsidy as this $20/mcf suggests then gas companies are essentially government operations masquerading as a businesses.

Regardless the accounting tricks, before the price of NG approached anywhere near $20/mcf the economy would collapse [further] and we'd be burning the furniture to keep warm.

P.S. Inhofe's boys are probably loading bullets in the basement.

"A trader friend of mine says nat gas goes to $20 per mcf if this is enacted. Methinks the government is going to find out that 'renewable' does not connote 'equal' in short fashion...."

say what? $20 per mcf? this must be a wild speculation. we are at $4 per mcf now and it could shoot up 5 fold by enacting this? What are they trying to do do. kill us users?

The president wasn't lying when he said it's going to get worse before it gets better. but then, isn't that how it always is? of course it has to get worse before it gets better.
go to an alcoholics anonymous meeting, it always gets worse before it gets better.

but up 5 fold? good gracious!

where is my bailout?

i dont see the expensing of idc as a tax break. idc's have no salvage value and therefore, idc's are expensed.

idc's are sometimes appropriatly refered to as dry hole costs. despite all the science,3-d seismic,luck, skill and voodoo that can be brought to bear, dry holes are still being drilled. i just dont see any justification for amortizing these costs.

it's just the nature of oil and gas drilling that results in expensing a larger part of costs than other businesses.

I think that the Deflationary Depression or Hyperinflation? article linked above makes one critical mistake in arguing for a deflationary depression: we have a fiat currency, not a reserve currency.

If our currencies were representative of some real form of wealth, then we would need a floor in the velocity of money to avoid deflation. However, because our governments simply conjure up our currencies, they will be able to ensure inflation rather than deflation if they so desire. Put simply, if our money was backed by gold or grain, then governments couldn't simply print more of it to avoid deflation. However, since our currency is backed by the somewhat more ethereal "full faith and credit" (ultimately, a nice way of saying the State's claimed monopoly on the use of violence), the state can simply "print" more to avoid deflation (of course, this is no longer accomplished by literal "printing" alone).

Since the power to choose inflation or deflation of fiat currency is ultimately in the hands of the state, I find it hard to believe that states with heavy debt burdens, composed of governments elected from an electorate with heavy debt burdens, would not choose inflation. I could certainly be wrong, but I think it's important to at least agree that the real debate is whether the state will or will not make this choice, and not mistaking our currency system for a reserve currency (see Jason Bradford's outstanding post on local reserve currencies from last night)...

'However, because our governments simply conjure up our currencies, they will be able to ensure inflation rather than deflation if they so desire.'

NOT! Governments cannot insure inflation without the risk of destroying their own currencies and their credit ratings. As soon as the purchasers of treasury instruments get a whiff of printing they will demand, and get, more interest for treasuries.

All the printing done to this point has either been locked up in foreign central banks as swap lines or US large banks to 'balance' (I use that word loosely) their books or used to off set loses at AIG and some other companies...that money was thrown into a black hole and will not effect the real economy except as more government debt. Bernanke's plan is to get those funds back if the consumer economy shows some signs of life. If those funds are injected into the real economy inflation will sky rocket, interest rates on treasuries will skyrocket, and any businesses still operating in the US will not be able to borrow at rates that will allow them to stay in business.

Choosing deflation. You make me laugh. That is the last thing the US Gov will ever do for reasons that even Brian Bloom should know.

While "Not!" is compelling logic, your argument fails where it equates your opinion that governments will choose to preserve their currency's value with a fundamental inability to choose inflation. As many nations with fiat currencies have chosen, the state has the power to choose inflation. You may disagree with me about the liklihood of the US government choosing that option, you shouln't confuse that disagreement with the lack of the power to make that choice. Given the near term time horizon of our political system and our increasing ability to manipulate the money supply without literally adding zeros to our bills, I think it is more likely that we choose inflation. You can argue that this would be foolish, and I would agree, but when has this stopped us in the past?

They have not chosen the inflation option yet with the exceptions that I noted above. The reason that the big banks balked at taking the TARP funds was the extrodinarily harsh terms that went with them. Like, you hold these treasuries in your vaults but you cannot issue debt against them...and, if the economy shows signs of life those treasuries go back where they came from. All the banks got was the option of going bk or not bk and for this option they gave up some control.

The Chinese have already put the Fed/Treasury on notice of what will happen if their treasuries are reduced in value by printing.

If the government begins printing it will mean almost immediate suicide. It will not be a long drawn out affair.

I think they are currently choosing inflation. Look at MZM, the nearest analogue to the discontinued M3. They are also increasing this choice--one effect of our rising budget deficit. And, unless we have some brief recovery, I think we will continue this process. Government "stimulus" is almost the definition of our government choosing this path...

Greg Jeffers tried to quantify the debate with this post:


You gotta keep you eyes on what is coming, not what has been.

Calculated Risk discussion of Bank of England starting Quantitative Easing:


Britain's going down the road of hyperinflation again. makes me misty eyed for the 1970's ,where an inflation rate of 10% was regarded as low. Wonder if long hair and sideburns will come back?

Please, please, not the paisley bell-bottoms again.

They'd be way better than disgustingly low-slung jeans with designer underwear/*ss hanging out giving the overall impression of an over-full adult diaper.

The Fed can create all the money that they want but if it is sitting in banks with no velocity it is not inflationary. Many economists attribute the increase in MZM to corporations drawing down credit lines before they were cut off. Check out this link...


Are Money Growth and
Inflation Still Related?
G E R A L D P . D W Y E R J R .
A N D R . W . H A F E R
Dwyer is vice president in charge of the financial section
of the Atlanta Fed’s research department. Hafer is
an Atlanta Fed visiting scholar and a professor of economics
at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.
They thank Lucy Ackert, Mark Fisher, Larry Wall,
Warren Weber, and David C. Wheelock for comments
and Shalini Patel for research assistance.

Besides, MZM was much higher in Mar 07 than it is now as you can see from the charts at this link... This is a very good article and helps make your point, and mine...

'You could imagine this as a tug of war if you wish. On one side is the deflationary force of bad debt and falling aggregate demand. On the other is the Treasury, the Fed, and the Congress, using the triple threat of deficit spending, monetization of debt, and stimulus programs. The limits of the power of the Feds are the value of the dollar and the acceptability of Treasury debt.

There is no lack of debt that can be monetized. To think otherwise is fantasy. But there are limitations about how much the dollar can bear, which is why the banks and moneyed interests have shoved their way to the front of the line, and are gorging themselves now with a little help from their friends in the Treasury and the Fed. When the time comes they intend to throw the public agenda under the bus. Its an old script, many times performed with minor enhancements.'


I side with the gov't "choosing" inflation for one very simple reason: they quite simply see deflation as a hell to be avoided, even at the cost of their souls, their first borns, their dogs, their cats and their pick-up trucks. They fear deflation like some people fear death; they can't stomach having *less*. Growth or nothing.

However, I agree with TAE: the debt out there is so monstrously large that for a some period of time it's going to be like filling your pool up by spitting in it. The money is just disappearing. As the shakeout continues, businesses fail and the debt gets whittled down, you'll see inflation emerge.

At that point, they'll have put sooo much money into the system that they will have overshot. Hello hyperinflation.


Okay, ccpo:
This is the same conclusion about hyperinflation that most of us have reached before. The question is, when?

It'll likely appear as a wave building at unequal rates through the economy, starting with the price of food, then of fuel, then... who knows? Some assets, like commercial real estate, will catch up late or never. But do you see it coming late this year, in 2010, or further down the road? What strikes me about this crisis is the speed with which it's developed. I'd hate to get caught flat-footed.

The other question we could pose is about the rate of change - will the wave continue to build slowly, as for example in the steady rise of food prices, or do you think that after we pass an inflexion point everyone will run for the exits, leading the government to clamp down on deposits, à la Argentina?

What I'm soliciting here are your opinions, the more quantitative the better.

While I appreciate the implied vote of confidence, I'm no economist. My strength is in overall analysis, i.e. forest not the trees. That means I do better at taking the information put out there and seeing what it's really saying rather than parsing the data itself.

I see nothing out there that gives a clear indication of a time line. There's a sort of gut feeling building for sometime after '10, closer to '12, because '11 marks the end of the multiple peaks of the mortgage resets. Those waves seem to be the primary pushes to the system so far.

But, really, I'm just an English teacher. I get most of my info from the work of the people mentioned often on this site: Rogers, TAE, Schiff, Denninger, etc. The analysis is mine to the extent that I must, in the end, either agree, disagree or make my own calls. The above call is mine, so given the source (me), take it with a grain of salt.


I think they (and every other govt) are choosing inflation too. The people who comprise the govt. aren't finally loyal to their govt or their jobs. They're loyal to their bellies and their families and they do live in cities---they are the elite, remember? They don't produce food or any other of the products they require for their lives. When the products (especially food) require more energy inputs and the prices effectively go up then the people in the cities are screwed unless they can keep the flow of food energy coming in, which they can as long as they keep money flowing around. As the money loses its value progressively then these people will lose their loyalty to the govt---it becomes a burdensome entity. Tainter talks about this. People will stop being part of a govt (and cease being loyal to the govt) when they see no advantage at all, only disadvantages, in doing so. That is one of the central tenets of Tainter's collapse theory actually.It's just a matter of when. Since they want the flow of food to keep coming to where they are, right now they are thinking about how to best continue that. At some point it will mean diverting it away from others and that means using force possibly. They are trying to postpone that for as long as possible because it's so costly and so divisive and possibly dangerous. But the endgame is in no doubt. The selling of debt can't go on forever in a shrinking world economy. They'll print money rather than face a shortage of funds to pay their food bills.

Re the US dollar devaluation/inflation route, the European, British and even to a certain extent Chinese weakness at this point make it more possible/workable. IMHO USA interest rates will not jump as inflation rates increase-the acceptable level of price inflation will be adjusted in the USA and Europe. The other major currency is the Yuan and China has no problem with keeping it from appreciating against the dollar. As the article up top notes, China is buying more oil to diversify-not too long ago it would have been euros.

'IMHO USA interest rates will not jump as inflation rates increase-the acceptable level of price inflation will be adjusted in the USA and Europe.'

Do you believe there is a knob somewhere, maybe at the Fed, or, maybe at the treasury, that is labeled 'TURN TO RIGHT FOR INFLATION' 'TURN TO LEFT FOR DEFLATION'?

I am not trying to be an azz hat but no such knob exists and fine tuning interest rates at this point is totally out of the question. What are the Fed overnite rates now? Less than 1 1/2%. What are interest rates on AAA bonds now? Much greater than 1 1/2%. So called junk bonds, many of which are not junk, are paying over 10% already. Business cannot operate in a greater than 10% interest environment for long without going bk. IF inflation rates increase you can bet your bippy that interest rates will increase. Who is going to loan businesses money for less than the rate of inflation? Only a lunatic.

The plan is for YOU to loan businesses money for less than the rate of inflation-I guess you didn't get the memo.

IMHO gov'ts are way past "choosing."

Credit is not collapsing, it's disintegrating.

The US will have to honor existing FedRes notes.

Only when zero's are added to Ben Franklin notes
will hyper inflation be the problem.

But 1 quadrillion of derivatives is disintegrating.

Massive deflation.

"May 07, 2002

Revisionist View of the Great Depression - Part III
by Antal E. Fekete


The Pharaoh's Treasure
According to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus the treasure of no Egyptian pharaoh was comparable in either size or value to the enormous hoard of Rhampsinitos. His treasury was housed in a huge stone building adjacent to the palace, and it was considered burglar-proof. The door was sealed by the pharaoh's personal seal and manned around the clock by armed guards. Rhampsinitos was present in person every time the seal was broken and the building entered. Therefore it was extremely disturbing when the pharaoh discovered that his treasure was being pilfered, albeit without any sign of unauthorized entry into the building. To find out what was going on the pharaoh caused a trap to be placed inside to catch any would-be thief as he was approaching the treasure-bins. To his utter amazement, on his next visit the pharaoh found that, while the trap had done the job of catching the would-be thief, this did not help him one iota to solve the mystery. More treasure was missing, together with the head of the would-be thief. There was no sign showing how the missing objects had been spirited out of the building. The identity of the thieves could not be established. As if someone had the supernatural power to enter the building invisibly and pilfer the treasure without leaving any trace.

Pilfering the Wealth of Nations
The Great Depression seems to have presented a similar mystery. Productive enterprise came under pressure to liquidate debt and inventory, so excruciating had the debt-burden become. Those firms that could not liquidate fast enough were themselves liquidated. The Wealth of Nations was decimated as scores of firms that still flourished only yesterday were going bankrupt. There was no sign whatever that the loss of wealth might be due to plunder or pilferage. Governments purchased nostrums prescribed by Keynesian and Friedmanite soothsayers to prevent similar disasters from happening in the future in the belief that the destruction of wealth was due to natural causes. But as depression has struck Japan in spite of taking the prescription, and as other countries appear to succumb to the Japanese disease, the peddlers of nostrums are open to charges of being impostors. In the absence of an acceptable theory explaining the Great Depression the danger of future depressions looms larger than ever in the horizon.

Our revisionist view presented here for the first time suggests that, far from being due to natural causes, the Great Depression was unquestionably the result of plunder and pilferage. The Wealth of Nations was being pilfered invisibly. Those responsible couldn't be caught because the thievery involved no physical movement of property. It is no less remarkable that whenever a dead body is found (such as that of LTCM, or that of Enron), the head is missing and the investigation of theft can proceed no further. Public opinion has been lulled into the false belief by the economists' profession and by the financial media that there is in fact no pilferage, and the phenomenon must be explained by the idiosyncracies of the capitalist system of production."


h/t Dan W at ashizashiz

Mac, good to hear from you again. You're one of the few on this board that understands what the flock is going on in the US and world economies.

Why, thank you, River.

And I'm glad that Louisiana has good folks
like you.

Maybe we can restart Arkla gas, eh?

More on the Russian threat to again cut gas supplies.

Disclaimer on this again. Don't take my word for this as I'm no gas expert but this is what I think I'm seeing.

This week's European Gas Storage figures are out. European storage withdrawals continue to run at about twice the normal rate for the time of year. My estimate is that there is about 100mcm/day (would be even more if it wasn't for increased Norwegian production and LNG imports) missing from the European gas network entirely due to cuts in Gazprom production. I also estimate that, unless there's a massive pick-up in Gazprom production, European gas storage might not be refilled beyond about 50% this Summer and that it could be empty just in time for Christmas. If Gazprom can't increase production as Simmons claims then we really are in very deep trouble.

European storage is now 7.206 bcm (252billion cubic feet) below the same period last year. That's about equivalent to US storage being about 500 billion cubic feet below last year as US storage is twice as large. As of last week US storage is actually about 230 bcf above last year.

100mcm/day is the energy equivalent of about 630,000 barrels of oil per day.

Still hoping some gas expert can show me where I'm going wrong...

Cut, Cut, Cut, the gas gently down the pipe stream,
Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, life is but a dream.......

Russians will have their day of reckoning when they are out of gas.

At least there seems to be one bit of good news today

Naftogaz pays Gazprom to avert gas cutoff

MOSCOW – Ukraine's energy company paid its February bill for Russian gas in full Thursday, officials said, moving swiftly to avoid a cutoff that could have affected deliveries to Europe.

The payment came just hours after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned that Russia would halt gas supplies to Ukraine if payment was not made by Saturday. Putin warned that the suspension might stop gas deliveries to other European customers, as well.

But it seems Gazprom is claiming it still hasn't been paid in full

Gazprom: Ukraine paid $310 mln for gas, $50 mln owed

MOSCOW, March 5 (Reuters) - Gazprom (GAZP.MM) has received $310 million from Ukrainian state energy firm Naftogaz for February gas deliveries and is owed a further $50 million, the Russian gas export monopoly said in a statement on Thursday.

'Deflationary Depression or Hyperinflation? - Depression is a far more likely outcome than Hyperinflation'

Leanan, Brian Bloom is a moron. Why do you post his stuff? There are some real economists out there that know what they are talking about.

So you are an expert on judging economists?
Wonder what Kunstler thinks of Wal-Mart’s 5.1% increase in sales?
Is that do to inflation or their increase in gas sales.

More people are shopping at WalMart, and sales are up.
During hard times people look for low prices on everything.

I'm not sure what the argument is about but I'll throw out a fact my sweetie (a WalMart manager) told me last month: WalMart sales are up but the value of individual purchasers are down. The Walmart analysis: regular WalMart customers are spending less but the company is gaining market share from the other retailers. Not too shocking a conclusion IMO. A lot of folks dis Walmart but then sneak in the back way through automotive to save some of their hard earned bucks.

This is occurring throughout the retail industry. My sister and her husband work for a large, nationwide retail clothing chain that sells clothes for roughly half the price of their competitors (price of the average item - for example a t-shirt). Throughout the holiday season they were consistently seeing a larger volume of customers making smaller purchases.

People are trying to stretch their dollars and stores like Walmart will likely benefit.

Also, Wal-Mart says their sales are coming increasingly from food sales.

It's a good place to stock up on flour, butter, salt, oil, canned goods, essentials like that. Want to fill a shed with preps? You'll save at least 25% by shopping for those preps at Wally's.

Yes, jumping to conclusions just doesn't work. For example, one might buy a couple of new toys for their kids rather than put them in daycare, or go on vacation. Wal-Mart is a source for "cheaper" whatever. The fact is that overall retail sales, vacations, childcare, jobs, cars sales, etc... are decreasing. Also, once you set foot there, you realize how much variety they have and are more likely to come back.

Also another factor perhaps to consider. In my mom's small city of 20,000, many of the independent stores that had managed to survive Walmart initially are now going under. So for things like sewing supplies, hardware, other specialty stuff, the local alternative to Walmart is disappearing, so you are forced to go to Walmart because nothing else is left.

And you'll save even more if you get in at the local restraunt supply house.

From 1999 to today - beans have more than doubled. Yet I can buy 100 lbs chick peas from Turkey for about $10 more than 20 lbs of us/canadian grown beans.

Yes, I am pretty good at judging economists. I don't care what Kunstler thinks, he is not an economist, he is good at what he does, he is a rabble rouser and a very good journalist. I am not an expert on Wal Mart and don't care how they came up with a 5.1% increase in sales. If you happen to have an real interest in Wal Mart, stock or corporate bonds, you should be more concerned with earnings going forward, share dividends and bond prices, than a sales increase.

Go look at my posts from Mar 4 if you are really interested in finding out what is going on with our economy.

I did and left a comment this morning.

Your assumption is like that of other economists who ignore the facts of energy. They look at their "Monopoly" game board and think all they need to do is pass pieces of colored paper from one to another, ignoring the fact that they can't move around the board without energy, especially the oil to run the vehicles. The service "industry" is a prime example in that it won't work if the service can't be delivered because there's no gasoline of diesel to run the vehicles...

E. Swanson

Black Dog...It's bike week here and I was riding with friends.

'Your assumption is like that of other economists who ignore the facts of energy. They look at their "Monopoly" game board and think all they need to do is pass pieces of colored paper from one to another, ignoring the fact that they can't move around the board without energy, especially the oil to run the vehicles.'

All well and good. We must have energy, but without a world economy the supply lines stop. Energy stops moving without those little pieces of monopoly money that we keep score with.

Go to this Baltic Dry Freight index and click on the '15 year chart' and you will see exactly what happend to shipping when the credit markets began to freeze up. No credit markets, no shipping, no crude/NG...


Last I heard, the Baltic Dry Index did not include oil shipments. Have fun in Daytona. I never made it to Bike Week, but did go south for Spring Break a few times, as well as working on a friend's SCCA race car which we ran there...

E. Swanson

'Last I heard, the Baltic Dry Index did not include oil shipments.'

You are correct about BDI not including crude shipments. That was not my point...my point is that almost every length of well casing, drill bits, motors, pumps, etc, for oil exploration and oil production are effected by the BDI.

Letters of credit were not being honored, banks were/are afraid of each other. The BDI went straight down...one of the most impressive drops on any chart I have ever seen.

River -

While I cannot argue with authority regarding his economic prognostications, I certainly do not get a good feeling about his grasp of energy matters, particularly when he says things like the following:

"In my view, there are three energy paradigms that hold out some hope:

Hydrogen – which is a long way away from commercial reality.

Electromagnetic energy scavenging from the environment – which the physicists are dogmatically arguing is impossible.

Gold in modified format may be able to store electricity scavenged by both solar and wind – but this, too, is in the realms of “hypothesis” at present."

These are "energy paradigms"? (A rather meaningless phrase to begin with.)

As has been pointed out ad nauseam here at TOD, hydrogen is merely a means of storing energy rather than an actual energy source.

"Electromagnetic energy scavenging" and "gold in modified format"? What in hell's name is he talking about?

Anyway, I hope this guy's understanding of economics is far better than his understanding of energy, which appears to be just about nil.

Joule, Brian Bloom is no more an economist than I am a man in the moon.

His grasp of economics is underwhelming. You are right to not trust what he has to say about energy or economics.

Was that a radio show?

He might have been saying 'A pair of dimes..'


His thinking on this is very childish. He might as well have the view that our energy problems can be solved using lemons and pennies to produce electricity. However, he is in tune with mainstream America in that he knows he is within his rights to spout any sort of drivel his mind has been filled with, well-considered or not.

I thought you were leaving, never to darken TOD's doorway again.

'I thought you were leaving, never to darken TOD's doorway again.'

That is not my recollection of what I said. What I said was: 'I will be back when you get rid of that moronic ratings system.'

Thanks for welcoming me back into the fold. :)

I agree about that rating system. It served as a tool for stifling dissent. Post content that's popular w/ the regs & watch it pile up the recs. Post something contra to the popular paradigm & watch it accumulate dis. Waste space w/ statements like "Best wishes for..." & become popular for personality, not content. The rating system was counterproductive for promoting divergent thinking & content over style.


Double uprated

I loved the rating system. It sent a message to people who continually posted moronic posts, like asserting that oil may not be of organic origin. It is a way of sending them a message without having to post and take up valuable posting space for nonsense.

But posters who post very absurd things are few and far between on this list. We only have one or two of them. However some people think everyone is a moron and post belittling post to everyone about virtually everything they post. It seems their chief joy in life is belittling other people and criticizing everything they say. That is very tiring and the rating system is a great way of voicing your disapproval without actually posting.

In short, the rating system probably saved at least a dozen posts per day.


'I loved the rating system. It sent a message to people who continually posted moronic posts'

Does this mean that you down rated some of your posts that were totally wrong and I called you on and you apoligized for?

'But posters who post very absurd things are few and far between on this list.'

You can include yourself in the 'absurd things category' for posting that there was no racisim left in the South and then had to back down when I posted the Jena, Louisiana story.

'That is very tiring and the rating system is a great way of voicing your disapproval without actually posting.'

The only people that used the ratings system are those that are too lazy to voice an opinion, too sneaky to challenge a poster with a reply, or too ignorant to have formed an opinion. According to Leanan the ratings system was not supposed to be used to downrate based on content. It was abused, by people like you Ron, from day one. You have never voiced an opinion, that I have read, that is out of the 'mainstream group think' that is prevelent on this board. This is not IBM, you can voice an opinion here that is what you really believe, without it costing you a promotion.

'In short, the rating system probably saved at least a dozen posts per day.'

Those dozen posts were probably from people like me, refusing to remain in a rating system with people like you. I have important information to post but it doesn't have to be posted here. I can go elsewhere and you can remain safe in your cacoon right here. That is a very good way to learn nothing...but, you will be safe from having your ego bruised. Oh, the horror, that some of your posts should be taken to task. Let in a little thought. We don't have a lot of time left.

I wish I could down rate this post.

I wish I could uprate yours.

Why should Darwinian downrate a comment made in error if he was later able to be convinced of that error? It's more important to show the working than the answer, as my Math teachers used to say. Full credit to Darwinian for being amenable to reasoned argument. It's a rare character attribute.

Ad hominem comments and unnecessary pejoratives are counterproductive, though. See this for a guide, and try to stick to level DH5 or above.

'Why should Darwinian downrate a comment made in error if he was later able to be convinced of that error? It's more important to show the working than the answer, as my Math teachers used to say. Full credit to Darwinian for being amenable to reasoned argument. It's a rare character attribute.'

Because it took numerous, numerous posts to get Darwinian to admit that he was in error. I provided the 'working' with links. Darwinian is not 'amenable to reasoned arguement', if he were, he would not post blatantly ignorant statements to begin with. Darwinian did no research prior to stating that 'there were no gas lines during 1979'. I explained to him, patiently, that there were gas lines in 79. He continued to insist that there were none. I dug up the old Time Mag stories and linked them to the discussion before he would, finally and reluctantly, apoligize for calling me wrong and calling me names...an ad hominim attack, if you will.

You consider this behavior on Darwinian's part 'reasoned arguement, and rare character attributes? Yeah, he is rare. But unfortunately, not one of a kind.


I became an active (and avid) reader and poster during your hiatus. After suffering only ~24 hours of your demeanour, I am starting to pine for that halcyon time.

I have important information to post but it doesn't have to be posted here. I can go elsewhere and you can remain safe in your cacoon right here.

If it is important, as you espouse, then you should have no problem with the rating system. Ultimately, it is the collective forum that decides whether your information has merit (and thank god for that). If you are consistently at odds with the views here, either due to your content or your attitude, then I heartily recommend you exercise your options as stated, because you are obviously dealing with fools and wasting your time.

Personally, it is looking like forgoing your "important information" will be a more than fair trade. If and when you post something of value, without ad hominem vitriol, I would be happy to change my opinion.

IOW, I suggest you get over yourself. As you rightly said, we don't have much time and this is all you will get of mine for now.

'I became an active (and avid) reader and poster during your hiatus. After suffering only ~24 hours of your demeanour, I am starting to pine for that halcyon time.'

The 'halcyon time' is on the Oprah show. You are living in the real world and it is crumbling around you as we sit here. You want to play nice, agree with all that is said, listen to the same discussions over and over? Thats fine.

I'm going to rock the boat occasionally, send a wake up call, if you are not up for that, perhaps it's you that needs to check out Oprah?

The only people that used the ratings system are those that are too lazy to voice an opinion, too sneaky to challenge a poster with a reply, or too ignorant to have formed an opinion.

Wow. You make *me* look like a choir boy. I've taken to task some of the touchstones here - Mearns, Staniford and AFBE, to name a few - and give absolutely no quarter to the utterly criminal ramblings of those damned anti-ACC twits, but, my, what an utter and complete arse you've made of yourself.


I think the ratings system makes sense when you have a lot of comments saying, "I agree" and having not much else, or "I disagree." However, I don't see what harm a + or - does to a post besides hurting someone's ego.

I was talking about in July.

River, you were on the verge of being banned when you left then. If you are willing to be civil (including when the rating system returns), you are welcome to stay. If not, this is not the web site for you.

Leanan, I am not here to 'darken your door'. I am here to let in a little light and fresh air, which is needed imo.

I might be a little caustic but I can back up my posts with links to real economists or other sites as necessary.

I suspect that I 'was on the verge of being banned' because I said what I thought about the rating system. When the rating system returns I will be gone again...if I am not banned prior to that time.

I post on lots of sites, mostly economic stuff, but some oil related. I do not do group think. I do not always play well with people that make rediculous statements. I have not been banned or even given a warning as you have just done. Maybe you should rethink your role.

It wasn't what you said about the rating system. It was what you said to your fellow posters. Being "caustic" tends to poison the whole well, making everyone mean and insulting. We don't need that now; people are on edge as it is.

That's me too - caustic.

I hate the self-censorship of "polite company" but too often I let my frustration or anger interfere with whatever good judgement I might possess.

I will try to refrain from being obnoxious and caustic on TOD.
I will try to refrain from being obnoxious and caustic on TOD.
I will try to refrain from being obnoxious and caustic on TOD.
I will try to refrain from being obnoxious and caustic on TOD.

Seriously, in the future we should try to post like an android - more data and less emo.

Few cut to a point as clearly, concisely and simply as you do, Leanan. And none here. You are in a class all your own.

I hereby grant thee the Hemingway Admin. Award for Brevity.


Leanan, In July I was saying, over and over, 'crude is in a bubble, look at the tankers sitting in the Persian Gulf filled with oil without a market.' Everyone and their in laws were downrating my posts.

In July lots of posters on this board were long oil and did not want to hear what I had to say. So, I backed up what I said...I went short oil at $146, and was out at $121 a few days later. I made $151K in a few days. Nobody wanted to hear that, either. Nor do they now. But I made $151K and that tells me something. Perhaps I was not so wrong after all?

If posters ask a question I am always polite and attempt to give them a reasoned answer if I happen to be familiar with what they are asking. But, when people make flat statemets that are dead wrong they will not get as polite a response from me because they are posting propoganda, talking their book, or are simply ignorant. These people need to be told firmly, maybe caustically depending on the situation, that they are wrong and links need to be included to prove to them that they are wrong...otherwise, they will continue to post garbage.

Hey, I am not always right but I attempt to be. I feel sure that if you look back at my posts that you will find that I have said 'my bad' when I am proven wrong. Unfortunately, you have some hard heads on here that really need their ears pinned back before they finally admit that they are wrong. So be it.

If you think people are on edge now wait till next year...and the one after that.

you have some hard heads on here that really need their ears pinned back

I STRONGLY disagree !

You are NOT in charge of enforcing your version of what is correct by your standards and with your preferred form of discipline.

And such an approach certainly warrants banning. It is simply contrary to the "meat grinder" ethos that has developed here at TOD.

I can be sharp, and often am, but there is a means of doing so that maintains basic propriety.


If Darwinian posts on this board that 'there is no more racisim in the South', you think anyone should stand by and let him get away with it?

You live in NO, Alan, why didn't you speak up? A statement that obviously ignorant needs to be challenged. When I tried to point out that racisim does still exist Ron continued to insist it does not. Had he said after his first post, 'sorry, my bad', the exchange would have gone no further.

You have an agenda here, Alan. You push electrified rail and I am all for it. The only time we ever disagreed was about the Metro system in DC which I happened to have worked on for seven years. Once I had explained to you what a screwed up managment Metro has and that the only people that were competent, when I was working on the system, was the contractor General Railway Signal Co., You did not even respond to that post. Why not?

You did not even respond to that post. Why not?

I do not remember reading either post.

Why not ?

I have some serious family health issues (just returned, my sister arrived a half hour after I left, then my aunt, then my younger brother and I will likely be there most of April. There is a level of care that simply cannot be hired).

I spent three weeks in DC/Baltimore and gave three speeches in January. Follow-up on that has taken time.

I am writing an article to submit to influential magazine.

I am helping renovate a house (supervising contractors, some design, buy most supplies).

Most days I simply do not have time to read TOD.

Best Hopes for 30 hour days, (this Sunday is a bummer),


By the numbers, DC Metro gets 8x% of operating costs from farebox +ads. A small % of the bus subsidy (and about 150% of the paratransit subsidy) goes to DC Metro. Rough memory is that subsidy dollar is split

Buses $0.83
Metro $0.10
Paratransit $0.07

Metro carries more pax-miles than buses.

I agree that DC Metro management is poor. Ed Tennyson also agrees (Ed estimated ridership for DC Metro, as a consultant, when original 103 miles were completed before Red Line opened. He was off by 3%). However, the mode is so good that it compensates for the short comings of management.

I agree with you Allen but please chill. The weather is too nice. Swing by CDM and grab you a cup and an order for me.

(Grew up near Broard & Canal)

The azaleas are at their peak, and I traditionally take a ride from one end of St. Charles to the other, and then Canal Streetcar Line to City Park.

Yes, the weather is ideal, and I need a break soon. Perhaps late Saturday.

Best Hopes for Good Coffee & Beauty,


What "rating system'? Did I miss something?

At one point there was a + or - you could give a post. Unlike, say slashdot.org, being downmoded didn't make the post disappear. Only the admins can make posts/whole threads go 'poof' and vanish into the ether.

There have been more than a few bannings - if one tries to look up the user info on a banned user - the server passes along the message that 'permission is denied' And you DO have to work to be banned.

Thanks Eric. I actually knew there was some sort of rating system but never bothered to learn the details. If being "graded badly" by others meant anything to me I would not have survived as a geologist for over 30 years.

Frankly it didn't bother me if I was upmodded or downmodded either. Some people got their nose bent all outta shape with 'I said that 3 days ago - why is he being upmodded and not me'

GM on bankruptcy?

Which is better???

1. GM goes bankrupt, and the creditors eat the debt, and GM starts over?

2. The gov't continues to bail out GM, and taxpayers pay the debt?

3. Gov't takes over GM and forces production of all electric cars?

What do you think?

GE is a toxic company, that does not "Bring Good Things to Life"---
Let it die, I will drink a toast.

I agree on GE, but what about GM?

Sorry, wrong dinosaur.
At this stock price, why not just buy the whole company and give it to the employees?
They couldn't do worse than the current management, and it would solve the Union issue, and
everyone would have a stake to make things work.
We could do this for about the money that AIG spends on hookers and blow for a few weeks----That said, I don't think mating dinosaurs have a future.

Ever hear of the 'bad bank'? They should just merge every crappy company into it and let it fly off into oblivion...

First start with the banks and financials:

JP Morgan
Wells Fargo
Bank of America


Add some other dinosaurs:


And let it just go bye-bye. Or give it to Warren Buffet for free. Whatever works...

According to Denninger two days ago someone purchased over 70,000 put options on GE at $2.50 a pop. GE would have to go to $2.30 by June 15th for these options to pay. Someone is making a big wager that GE is going under by that date or will be very close to bk.

Someone is making a big wager that GE is going under by that date or will be very close to bk.

The sad thing is is that GE is a very valuable engineering and manufacturing firm, stuck to a financial boulder. As long as the good part of the firm is still chained to it, the whole thing is on a rapid descent to the bottom.

That's the whole reason we should let it go bankrupt. In bankruptcy court, the strong assets can be sold off to the highest bidder, and the bad assets are disposed. The result is once again a strong company.

How much of GE's problems is from GE financing? Is it like AIG - most of the firm made money, but the traders in derivatives drove the firm into the ground.

Denninger is freaking out about what's happening to GE.

Denninger says "Either way a major change needs to occur right here and now, lest we find ourselves with no pensions, no Social Security, no Medicare, no annuities and no government."

That would be awesome - I would not have to contribute to Social Unsecurity anymore ($5500/year), Medicare ($2000/year), Taxes ($20000/year). If I invested all that money in my own plans, I could be a millionaire by now.

Unfortunately, Denninger is predicting the government will seize your plans to fund its borrowing.

I have Ted Nugent style security. No one can seize my stuff.

That would be awesome - I would not have to contribute to Social Unsecurity anymore ($5500/year), Medicare ($2000/year), Taxes ($20000/year). If I invested all that money in my own plans, I could be a millionaire by now.

Yeah, but you would be jobless.

Or if you have money saved up, you can watch inflation go through the roof... And while you might be a millionaire on paper (eventually, due to compound interest), a million bucks would most certainly be worth much less by then.

Do not need a job, and do not save up money. Hard assets only.
Corporations and their "jobs" are the root of America's evil.
Corporations suck the life out of people then give all the money to the CEOs.

Nowhere... I am very confident that you will be the very well off in 10 years and able to adapt if things go as south as it looks. Why? You have mentally divorced yourself from the delusions of society, especially relating to the false sense of material paradise created by short term supplies of energy.

Good for you.

Getting that far down that road and you see roiting in the streets of people that can't afford to live anymore. There are a Lot of Older Americans Living off the SS retirement, Lots of other Americans getting far less than $12,000 a year to live off of because of SSD( social security Disability). There are people out there that can not work. There are people out there in need of help from others.

If the Whole Government were to go belly up like that, then get your guns and bug out bags ready.


If you had invested all your own money, you would be broke by now. Ask all the people with the retirement plans where they invested their own money how that is working for them now.

No, I would not have invested in stocks. Too many 401Ks are in stocks.

You can opt outta Social Security ya know.

Seriously? Legally?

Yes. You just notify SS that you do not expect their benefits and you wave any claim. So the time to have considered it was before you started paying in.

I don't think so. At least, not any more. You used to be able to.

For many years government workers in some, maybe all, catagories were allowed to opt out of SS. I don't know if this option is still open to them.

Or work for a railroad.

They had a retirement system that predated Social Security and they were allowed to keep it (consolidating various RR systems).


Best Hopes for RR Retirees,


Since at least the mid 70s career federal workers were covered under the CSRS(civil service retirement system) and contributed 7% of their salary. Around 1984 the FERS retirement system came into existence and new federal employees paid into SS. A couple of times since FERS came into existence CSRS employees were offered the opportunity to switch to to FERS if they cared to or remain in the CSRS until they retired. Employees in the CSRS system pay the medicare tax but do not pay into SS so if they have not worked in private industry for 10 years they will not receive SS benefits. For those who chose to remain in the CSRS if they do go to work for private industry and obtain 40 quarters of coverage they can receive Social Security at age 62 based on SS covered work. The SS benefits they receive may be reduced but not totally offset because of the WEP (windfall elimination provision). Obviously the CSRS system existed well before the mid 70s. I am only commenting on my personal experience with it.
As far as not paying Social Security taxes I expect the IRS may want to talk to you.

Before it was mandated Federal employees were not elegible for SS for their Fed employment time but were enrolled in a seperate Civil Service program. From the 1983 law new hires began to be enrolled in mandatory SS (under FERS) and strongly encouraged to enroll in stock investment through Thrift Savings with matching $.

Far as I know the SS part is manditory for all Feds now but w/o the 401k component the retirement will not match the earlier program for amount. Old Feds like me couldn't directly put anything in stocks before 1987. Since then we both have options within investment categories. Needless to say those in International (I), Small Caps (S), or Common (C) funds have seen their investments sawn in half or better just like most everyone.

If Denniger's warnings from today hold true it really won't matter which program anyway.

You can say that again, w/emphasis



Unless you reach 3rd World Status where the tail (vested interests) not only wag the dog (country) they even starve it for good measure.

When the CPAs put a "going concern" clause in their opinion, that is a very polite and formal way of saying, "This sucker's going down!" They simply don't dare put going concern clauses in their opinions unless the firm is truly on death's door; it truly is an extreme action. I am hard pressed to think of an example where it was done and then the firm recovered.

I'll be very surprised if GM is not in Chapter 11, at the very least, by the start of 2010.

I'll be very surprised if GM is not in Chapter 11 by the start of June 2009.

I expect that declaration comes as soon as the Fed Gov't announces GM will not be getting any more taxpayer money.

Will the Fed Gov't dare to do that? They've spread so much largesse elsewhere that I don't see, politically, how they could let GM go, no matter how hopeless a basket case it might be. Few other sources of lavishly paid unskilled and semi-skilled jobs remain. Politicians will want to go on purchasing votes by doling out those jobs.

GM = Government Money


"I'll be very surprised if GM is not in Chapter 11 by the start of June 2009."

Nobody, Nowhere, gets it.
A Chap 11 bankruptcy would use up lotsa cash, possibly $100 billion, so with the credit markets frozen the only place to turn to would be the govt.
Barney Frank complained just today that CONgress is becoming "fatigued" dealing with the autos.
So it is becoming increasingly likely Chap 7 liquidation is the path a GM bankruptcy would take.
I can hear the jackals yipping at the gates.

William Holstein, author of "Why GM Matters" was on NPR this week and described an anecdote about GM and post war Japan.
GM was poised to go into Japan, set up shop and become the dominant auto producer there until the State Dept. intervened saying it thought it important that the Japs develop their own auto market.
Fast forward to 2008 and GM has to beggar itself before slugs like Frank just to keep the doors open.

I am hard pressed to think of an example where it was done and then the firm recovered.

Lockheed. #1 defense contractor at the time, too valuable to let go.


Nowhere -

No. 3, Government taking over GM, is the least desirable. When was the last time the US government did anything that was even marginally profitable or remotely cost-effective?Such an action would immediately be transmuted into the worst kind of pork.

No.2, Continue the Bailout, may not be as bad as No.3 but will prove to be money down the toilet. (Or perhaps like giving a blood transfusion to a corpse.)

No.1, Let GM go Bankrupt, while painful, is more in accordance with what is going to happen anyway, so why stand in the way?

Overall, the argument about saving jobs is weak, because GM has for a long time been trying to get rid of as many jobs as it could, bailout or no bailout. It would probably be cheaper for the government to give every autoworker a large one-time gift of money than to continue with this slow hemorrhaging of taxpayer money.

If there is a certain size market for automobiles in the US, you can be certain that some business entity will supply that need. So, if GM does go under, we are not going have a new car shortage.

The US auto industry has had an uncanny ability to always shoot itself in the foot, and their shortsightedness and ineptitude has finally caught up with them. I have had personal experience in dealing with two of the Big Three, and I have never been very impressed.

I could see a viable truck and heavy vehicles company being spun out of GMC division and pieces of Chevrolet division. Maybe the Chinese or Indians would be interested in buying Saturn to get an instant "in" to the US market. IMHO, the remainder of GM - and ALL of Chrysler - are non-viable and not essential to the US economy, and can and should be liquidated. Sorry, but it is time for the US to be moving into survival mode and making some tough choices.

GM makes our military stuff, jeeps and tanks and stuff. I guess I should not be surprised if we sell that division to the Chinese.


GM isn't the overwhelming force in the U.S defense industry that you think.

There haven't been 'Jeeps' in our military for quite some time. Jeeps were part of American Motors (in the beginning, Wiley Post), then after A.M. Jeep has been a Chrysler brand.

Jeeps were replaced back in the 1980s by High-Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicles, HMMWVs, commonly called 'Hummers', and have been made from their inception until now by A.M. General, which is NOT a part of G.M. A.M. General has licensed the Hummer name to G.M. for the G.M. civilian knock-offs for folks who like to play soldier/road warrior.


G.M. has not made tanks for quite a long time. Again, since the 1980s, the only U.S. tank has been the General Dynamics M-1 Abrams (Actually the M-1 Abrams was created in the very late '70s by Chrysler Defense, which was quickly purchased by G.D.). GD Land Systems also makes the Stryker and the U.S. Marine Light Armored Vehicle (LAV).



The Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle is made by BAE Land Systems (BAE is a U.S. spin-off from the former British Aerospace): http://www.baesystems.com/Businesses/LandArmaments/index.htm



But what about military trucks?


In fact, it seems that G.M exited the defense business in 2003 when it sold G.M. defense to General Dynamics: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GM_Defense

The U.S. defense industry has consolidated massively since the early '60s...

The really sad thing is that if G.M. made tanks, trucks, Armored Personnel Carriers, and/or other defense 'Stuff', they would be deep in the black, since the USG has an insatiable appetite for this stuff and lets companies have cost-plus contracts and rarely cancels programs due to under-performance and being over-budget.

I keep seeing people write about how us losing our car companies would severely impact our defense industry/defense preparedness. Not so at all.


This is an excellent post. Thank you for taking the time, 'cos I learned a lot.


Yet another stinking example of the utter stupidity of GM management stretching over decades.

I know very little about the motor vehicle industry, yet it has been obvious to me for a very long time that GM's core business, the one place where it really had a chance to be good at and to establish a secure niche for itself is in the truck, commercial vehicle, and military vehicle market. It became quite evident by the early 80s that GM was neither able nor willing to successfully compete head-to-head against the Japanese on the low end or the Germans on the high end in the consumer automobile market, globally or even just in North America. That should have been their que to begin to exit those markets, and to refocus itself on the markets I have described above where it really did have the potential to build something for the long haul.

Instead, they continued to live in a 1950s dreamland.

Very misleading post.

GM converted their auto plants to war time production.
The military contracted GM to build Boeing, Grumman, Lockheed and other manufacturers war products using GM and other autos factory space.
The numbers of vehicles that the military needs today and what they would need should a worldwide, conventional war breakout could not be possibly met by the above manufacturers, just as they could not have been made by the original manufacturers back then.

WW2 wartime production.
198,000 Diesel engines for tanks & landing craft
206,000 Airplane engines
13,000 Complete bombers and fighter planes
97,000 Aircraft propellors
301,000 Aircraft gyroscopes
38,000 Tanks, tank destroyers and armored vehicles
854,000 Trucks, including amhibious DUKWs
190,000 Cannons
1,900,000 Machine guns and submachine guns
3,142,000 Carbines
3,826,000 Electric motors
11,111,000 Fuses
360,000,000 Ball and roller bearings
119,562,000 Shells
39,181,000 Cartridge cases
540,619,000 Grand Total

To this day, the government has not forgotten GM's contribution.

WNC Observer -

Sounds like a plausible outcome.

It's sad how the Saturn division has turned out to be such a big disappointment. When it was first created circa 1990 (?), there were high hopes that this was the way GM was finally going to competitively produce small cars. Then GM soon hopped on the light truck/SUV bandwagon, and Saturn started to be treated more and more like a step-child. The US auto industry never liked small cars and never got past Henry Ford II's dictum: "Small cars mean small profits."

While the US auto industry has been intimately entwined in American culture for over three-quarters of a century, this is not the time for sentimentality, as we are rapidly approaching a period of economic triage.

You left out option #0 and #4. Option #0 is the government contracts to buy large numbers fuel efficient cars which the poor could obtain by junking a gas guzzler in exchange for the car. Some of the cost could be offset by having those who get that new car agreeing to a tax surcharge if they are employed or a benefit reduction if they aren't.
Option #4 is an industry wide simultaneous bankruptcy which includes thousands of small non-union suppliers and dealers which constitute the majority of labor costs of putting a new car on that dealers lot.

When was the last time the US government did anything that was even marginally profitable or remotely cost-effective?

Spending 26 million to ship $8821 worth of LP gas in Iraq was way beyond 'profitable' for some parties.

And cost effective? Imagine if Glass-Siegle had not been repealed, not to mention actual SEC enforcement of Madoff - think of the cost savings there.

In all of my experiences with GM management, and talking with GM employees, it's the management. If you want GM to survive, you must purge ALL MANAGEMENT. All of them, middle managers, executives, etc. When you bring in replacements, only 1/4 of the number of people should fill the gaps. There is so much bureaucracy and waste at GM, it's absurd. However, none of this will happen. GM is doomed long-term, so bankruptcy is the only option, no matter how painful it is.

As with any other company that can not float along with the tide and make its way in the world they should do the bankrupt route and re-organize if possible.

We as tax payers should not have to pay for them or even half of the other companies and individuals we just bailed out.

Sure this method will hurt a lot of people. But maybe the Earth-Quakes will tell people what they should have known all along and were be hoodwinked by the EASY Money Futures they were being sold.

I have in the past invested in the companies 401(k) programs, but I have always taken the tax hit and used the money after I left the compaines, They were after all giving me 3% of my wage as a bonus. I never planned on it being my retirement fund, I am not that gullible.

Retirement is for those who are dead. Most of the people I know who are retired per se are still doing things and still making money, so they aren't living it large somewhere on the savings accounts.

GM should as it goes down hill be able to sell all those cars left over and spend that money on giving their workers a nice small going away present.

The Country will ache at not having X or Y Gm car out there, but the other auto places can design one like it in a few years anyway.

Bailing them out will not help them think how to better use the money they have been given so far. We end up just spoiling them.


GM Goes out of business & gets auctioned off and Ford (and maybe? Chrysler) have enough business to be able to survive and be profitable.
All three are NOT going to survive. Let the market decide who will fail and who will survive.

Best is what Orlov says---let the auto companies die and let remaining cars be hoarded after that, treated like the valuable dinosaurs they are in energy terms (each one embodies 90 barrels of oil in its production, someone said here once). Let unemployed people find work fixing up the old cars on the roads, increasingly rare spare parts will be a problem but I bet some people will start little shops to produce parts and equipment locally. Let people stop using their cars and let people start selling their extra apples or corn or potatoes out in front of their mailboxes because people who don't wanna drive their cars and risk wearing the precious things out will be happy to shop locally.

Let cars be used for hauling heavy things and when they can't be avoided, increasingly for only the most necessary trips-----taxi services will be a good local business maybe. So the most important thing is to stop new cars from coming down the pipeline...that will stop a much more severe crisis later because people will be more used to managing without a car. GM should go bankrupt ASAP and all the creditors should be out of luck so nobody tries going into this losing polluting business again.

Save power by unplugging your phone charger?

Is this true? Well yes, but the amount of power you save is absolutely miniscule. Basically you can tell how much power any device is consuming by the amount of heat it gives off, except of course if part the power is being stored in a battery. Over 99 percent of the power consumed by an incandescent light bulb is radiated as heat. Just wrap your hand around a 100 watt light bulb and you get an idea of what 100 watts of power being consumed feels like.

The same holds true for a phone charger or anything else. Feel your charger while it is plugged in and you will get some idea of how much power it is consuming. Not much. If you leave your TV cable or satellite converter box on and only turn off your TV, you are wasting several hundred times more power than if you leave your phone charger, or any other charger, plugged in while not in use. Place your hand on any converter box with your TV turned off and you can actually feel the heat.

Actual test were run by the Cambridge Engineering Department and they found the power consumed by a standard Nokia charger, with no phone attached, to be 472 milliwatts, less than one half watt.

The people running those stupid “unplug your phone charger” ads could put their time and money to far better use by telling people to turn off their converter boxes instead.

Phone chargers - the truth


there are lots of those people Ron - well intended but ignorant about the scale of the problem. It's like giving lessons on how to avoid jellyfish while swimming when Moby Dick happens to be coming up behind you - mouth agape.

Moby Dick meant well, he was really missunderstood. :)

True, but it is a mass quantity item. If we all turned off chargers, that would be millions of watts total savings.

Just think how much we could save by everyone turning off their TV, computers, lights, everything except the refrigerator?

Stick a timer on the fridge so it's off from say 11PM - 5AM.

....and thus kill of a large percentage of the population with food poisoning? Brilliant

Seriously how warm can food kept for say a week at a time and still be safe? I know my fridge only uses a ton of juice when the compressor is running probably works out to 5-10 minutes per hour, how warm would it get if I shut it off for six hours and how long would the compressor have to run to get it chilled down to the apporpriate operating temp (might just waste the energy savings for shutting it off if it has to run flat out for an hour)?

I've been thinking about Super-Insulation on the fridge, plus moving the Compressor Motor away from the box, and finally, positioning the parts so that the cooling surfaces and blower parts are easily accessible for regular cleaning.. you could save a lot of fridge energy with those steps.

I also wonder about using a cold-water line as a second-stage coolant besides acting as a preheater for your incoming water headed for the heating system.

A lot of pain-in-butt stuff, like most of the solutions. Heavy on setup and investment, but much smarter in the long-term. (Assuming for the above, that it's a workable plan anyway)


hmm.. could also heatsink the hot refridgerant coils to the ground if your kitchen is accessible to earth.. and also not blow that heated air into your A/C'd living space.

There are remote-compressor freezers and fridges, but they tend to be expensive commercial units. Walk-in freezers for stores/restaurants are often built that way.

An enterprising technician could probably separate the compressor and condenser by cannibalizing a couple of units. Hyper-insulating a chest freezer and moving the compressor/coil somewhere else seems pretty sensible to me.

Sunfrost has been building state of the art ultra high efficiency refrigerators for a number of years. They operate at a fraction of the energy consumption of even the most efficient major brands.


As the name implies, they are available in DC for PV power, as well as AC.

How much could be saved by shutting down TV stations, including cable and satellite services from 11 pm to 5 am? The typical over the air station uses a megawatt of power just at the transmitter. That frees up power to charge millions more EVs. Then there are millions of TV sets that would no longer draw from the grid. A similar shut down could also happen during peak cooling demand periods.

Get TV stations to shut down from 5:00am to 11:00pm in addition to your times and I'm on board too. Gave my TV away three years ago and don't miss it. ;o)

The idea may be more for illustrating that a phone charger wastes energy when not in use, so imagine that TV, or that cable box... I might also mention that today's phone chargers are now switching power supplies instead of transformers. Old wall-wart style transformers waste more power when not in use than the new style chargers, to the extent that it made little difference whether they were being used or not, just a matter of whether or not they were plugged in.

...to the extent that it made little difference whether they were being used or not,

Okay, you had me agreeing with everything you said up to that point. Actually it makes a tremendous difference whether they are being used or not. It may appear that because one end of the primary of a transformer is always tied to ground, that current must continually flow through the transformer whether the secondary is open or actually conducting current. Not so. If the secondary is not conducting then the primary is also not conducting.

A very tiny amount of current may leak through but nothing compared to when the transformer is actually being used, that is, current is actually being transferred from primary to secondary. The difference between being used and not being used is actually tremendous, at least a factor of ten but likely much more, depending on the transformer.

By the way, I was not aware that newer chargers were actually switching power supplys. I thought they were all still transformers with a diode bridge converting it to DC. Are you sure about that? Of course car chargers are totally different. Since their source is DC, they just use a voltage reducing network.


Yes, many are now switchers - you can tell them because they're too small and don't weigh enough to have an iron core in there.

This article is another example that show most people have absolutely no intuition about energy. we've all been awash in so much energy for so long we simply have no feel whatsoever for how much energy it takes to do things. Move a 5000lb vehicle down the road at 60mph? Cut down a tree? Burn a CD? Heat your home? Unplug a disconnected wall wart? they're all about the same aren't they?

I read somewhere that pedaling a bicycle full speed (full speed for a normal person, not a professional athlete) requires about 150W of power from the human body. This is a nice comparison when talking about energy and power. It nicely puts in perspective how much energy we are using practically for free.

Want to run your fridge (as above, 1kWh/day) for a full day? Pedal along at full speed for 6,5 hours, and you'll know how much energy it takes. Not to even mention the effort required to power a 2kW or a 6kW furnace or water heater.

Most ordinary people would not last even for 30 minutes biking for all what they're worth..

A horsepower is 746W. A star cyclist like Lance Armstrong can produce more than that for short bursts, and I think 260W or so for extended periods.

Racers, led by Armstrong, have learned to gauge their ability to win by W/Kg measurements, basically if you're able to produce so many watts per kilogram of body weight, you have the basic powerplant.

Take your kW/Hr useable per day and divide that by 200W or so and that should give you an idea of how many "journeyman" bicyclists would have to pedal away all day to sustain your use :-)

Lance could do 600 watts burst and could do 400 or so for hours at a time.

A fit person can do 200 watts. About 50 watts upper body

So one 200 watt solar panel is like having a slave's energy for the time the sun shines and works for 20 or so years. Its only because oil has been so damn cheap do we undervalue 200 watts.

The lithium batteries in newer phones require a strict charging sequence and shutoff to prevent meltdown and fire. The whole rectifing, switching and sequencing is done in a dedicated chip about the size of your thumb nail.

I bought one of those plug through meters that monitors the real time power draw from gadgets. The truth is that 'it all depends'.

I found that the biggest energy hog in the house was the fridge/freezer (1 KWh a day). Most small gadgets on standby took about 1-2watts. As a result I don't bother turning them off, I leave them on standby. However, our old HiFi system took 10watts on standby, and had been sitting there quietly burning money for about two years.... also the modem for our wireless network took 20 watts, and was also on 24/7. Now at least
I turn that off each night on the way to bed.

Our family consumption has been creeping up again, now about 7KWh a day. I hope to get that down to 5 KWh a day soon.

Our charge here in Northwest Florida, (Gulf Power), is about 12 cents per KWH plus another $10 service charge. If I used 7 KWh a day my bill would be less than $30 a month. I use about 32 KWh per day in the dead of winter and thought I was doing fantastic. I have electric resistive heat, the most expensive kind. Without either heat or air conditioning, my bill runs $45 a month. It runs about $145 in the winter and a bit more in the summer.

Don't know what my frige/freezer runs but if it uses 1 KWh per day then it would cost me 12 cents per day. That seems a bit low.

Boy aren't I glad I live in a TV/Cable-Free household. We have a TV sitting just over my left shoulder from where the Computer is set up in the living room, but we watch movies on it, and don't watch tv on it.

One less bill. One less nibble of electricity. One less headache watching shows that kill my brain cells, after all I enjoy alcohol much better than most of the tv offerings these days.


Ps, Newspapers and the internet get me all the news I care to read.

I'd like to find a combination DSL modem and wireless router with an actual on/off switch. To turn either off I have to unplug them. Then I have to plug them in, in order (modem first), to use them. So I occasionally unplug the router but never the modem. It's just a pain.

My DSL and home wired LAN router are both plugged into a surge suppressor strip with a switch. It's been suggested here before :)

Well, sure, but my understanding is that the modem is supposed to be turned on first and given 30 seconds or so to initialize, then the router can be turned on. In the end, it probably doesn't matter and I'm worrying too much. Still, is an on/off switch to much to ask for? And is a combined modem/wireless router too much to ask for? I must be able to pick up 8 or 10 other wireless networks from my house and we're all doing the same thing: using a modem and a seperate router, all on 24/7.

Citigroup ready to go below $1. De-list it from the market now.
AIG at 40 cents. De-list it from the market now.
GM is next to go below $1.

I have lately been contemplating the following question:

"As oil, natural gas, and coal are finite, non-renewable resources, why should we be burning through them as rapidly as possible, rather than trying to conserve them as long as possible?"

I do not recall this particular question being asked on TOD before. Has anyone ever asked it? It would seem to be a rather obvious and fundamental question to be considered.

The obvious and short answer would undoubtedly contain the words "greed" and "shortsighted", and perhaps "folly" as well. This is the descriptive answer, why this has been done. It does not constitute a reasoned answer as to why it SHOULD have been done.

Q: Why did you rob the bank?
A: Because there was lots of money there, and I wanted it!

This explains why the robbery WAS done, but does not constitute a rational argument in justification of bank robbery. In fact, society has reasoned things through and come to the conclusion that robbery in fact is not something that SHOULD be done, so we have laws against it.

Were we to have applied a similar process of reasoning to the question of exploiting fossil fuels, I rather suspect that society might have concluded that burning through irreplacable resources as rapidly as possible can only be characterized as squandering them, and is certainly inconsiderate at least toward future generations; perhaps it would even be viewed as being every bit as much a form of theft as our bank robbery example. Thus, society might rationally conclude that the rapid-as-possible extraction and combustion of fossil fuels is something that SHOULD NOT be done, and instead a more moderated, conservative approach should be adopted.

Unfortunately, this is not what has happened. What we have actually had is a situation with regard to fossil fuel extraction and use that differs in only insignificant ways from a scenario in which bank robbery is a legal and accepted practice. Were the latter to be the case, it would be no surprise that little or no money remained for very long in the bank's vaults. It should similarly be no surprise that little or no fossil fuels are going to be remaining to be exploited for much longer. A society without solvent banks, and a society without remaining fossil fuel reserves, is not going to be a prosperous, improving society; on the contrary, it is a formula sure to result in decline and poverty - which is undoubtedly our fate.

Too bad no one thought to ask the right question and come up with the right answer soon enough.

I've put it in terms of the export situation (what else?). Indonesia's final production peak was 1996. Net exports fell in 1997, but rebounded in 1998, so that 1998 net exports were only about 9% below the 1996 rate. However, look at it in terms of remaining cumulative net oil exports at the end of each year. At the end of 1997, Indonesia has shipped 22% of post-1996 cumulative net oil exports. At the end of 1998, after a year over year increase in net oil exports, Indonesia had shipped 28% of post-1997 cumulative net oil exports (EIA).

Globally, we are seeing the same thing, albeit at a lower rate. Each year, we consume a larger percentage of remaining cumulative net oil exports.

For better or worse, one reason to burn through them rapidly might be that a lot of the infrastructure costs nearly the same to carry whether it's used at a high rate or a low rate. The tradeoff might conceivably be closer to "high rate vs. no rate" than anyone would know how to handle peaceably.

Read your post - then happened to scroll to the top of the page where my rotating quote was the following;

“Of all races in an advanced stage of civilization, the American is the least accessible to long views… Always and everywhere in a hurry to get rich, he does not give a thought to remote consequences; he sees only present advantages… He does not remember, he does not feel, he lives in a materialist dream.”
—Moiseide Ostrogorski (1902, 302-303)

Interesting comment, WNC. I think that this largely boils down to plain old human nature. I have had several conversations (arguments?) with a co-worker along the lines of your post. A bit of context: He is some 40 years my senior, and a die-hard cornucopian. Without apology, he routinely fires up his "land yacht" mobile home for cross-country voyages, burning untold quantities of fuel along the way. His employment history over the years has included some work down in the oil patch, and along the way he has become deeply convinced that energy resources are abundant. Period. Full stop.

During our conversations, I have observed two main themes to his comments. I'll attempt to paraphrase them here:

1. "If only ..., we would have all the oil that we need." Criticism is generally leveled at environmentalists, liberal politicians, and regulation, and oblique reference is made to enormous reserves that are sitting untapped because access has been denied.

2. "If and when the oil actually does run out at some point in the far distant future, we can turn to ..." Generally, the solution which is offered up is well out of reach, for now. Fusion is a favorite. Frustration is often expressed that we aren't promptly implementing such solutions, if I'm so darned worried about fossil fuels.

In summary: we don't actually have a shortage, and even if we did, it wouldn't be much of a problem. The human mind is extremely adept at conjuring up excuses for doing the things that we want to do, and, properly motivated, it can resist an awful lot of attempts at logical persuasion.

The lesson, to me at least, is that many people need to be clubbed over the head before they will recognize scarcity.

Me, Me, Me. I got my oil, let them find their own oil.

Seriously, I believe it has to do with the concept many economist believe in, that if 'X' runs short and the price goes too high, then 'Y' will come and take 'X's place. There is no end to replacement commodities. Of course that concept is wrong in a finite world.

I'm pretty sure this has been discussed thoroughly.

It is a collective action problem. Energy is fungible. If WE don't use it, THEY will. This works on an individual, community, national, and international level. Why not use up all the oil we can import if China is just going to use it to their advantage if we don't?

This is why I don't buy the argument that government always do things less efficiently than private enterprise. Maybe if you confuse efficiency with maximum short-term profits (as everyone does). But in the longrun, it doesn't make much sense to burn up finite oil in a Hummer just because you can... of course, we might as well, or the Chinese will get to. :)

Hello TODers,

Research Report on China's Chemical Fertilizer Industry, 2008-2010
Although I can't afford this report: the intro or abstract seems to give tantalizing hints that China may be a big grain buyer soon, [especially if their drought in grain crop areas continues], plus their internal move to growing more [cash-crop] fruits and veggies acts as an I-NPK need multiplier of 1.2-2.0. The abstract seems to hint that this will necessitate more tariffs to curtail I-NPK export flowrates. My feeble two cents.

Have you hugged your bag of NPK today?

Here's something that might interest you:

Nutrient Pollution Chokes Marine And Freshwater Ecosystems


Wasting P even as it rapidly depletes, and killing aquatic ecosystems in the process. What a clever ape we are!

The draw down of their aquifers is simply terrifying. Peak fresh water seems to be moving up the limiting resource ladder fairly quickly.

...for 122 wild bird species, more than a fifth of the 526 species known to nest in Europe.

"We found that the number being negatively impacted was nearly three times greater than that benefit from climate change,"

Add this contributor to bird mortality to those of habitat loss, bioaccumulation of pesticides up the food chain, plate glass windows, cars, feral cats & wind turbines. I get the impression that there is a lot of support for wind powered electricity generation among TOD posters, presumably because it's considered a "green" or "renewable" source of power compared to fossil fuels, and that concern about bird & bat mortality is trivialized. Populations of many bird species have already declined severely. Birds are significant predators on agricultural pests, or would be were their numbers sufficient. Perhaps today agriculture relies on pesticides, to the further detriment of birds, rather than on birds for pest control. But the times are changing. There are lots of folks looking to small scale localized agriculture in the post-peak future, to provide food for themselves & their families. Under those premises, we're going to need all the birds (& bats) that are available. What we don't need is windmills killing them.

Hello Darwinsdog,

Thxs for the info. I have stated before that for most people their eyes glaze over at the pro & con statistics of Climate Change. We could get more done for Peak Everything Outreach by lots more weblinks and discussion on habitat decimation and specie extinctions.

I worry quite a bit about the problems with bee and bat decline, too. I am disappointed that 0bama hasn't moved this way up on the priority list. We will have 100% employment again if we are forced by Nature to hand pollinate.:(

From feeble memory: we have some cacti that can only be pollinated by bats--it might be very painful if humans have to climb over these plants to hand pollinate.

From feeble memory: we have some cacti that can only be pollinated by bats--

Not sure about cacti but there are yuccas that are obligatorily pollinated by bats.

Sorry to hear about Macho B, the jaguar, they killed in Phoenix yesterday. :(

I worry quite a bit about the problems with bee and bat decline, too. I am disappointed that 0bama hasn't moved this way up on the priority list.

I hear you, but at least we got this from Obama: Obama Restores Scientific Integrity to Endangered Species Act, Says Science Group.

I support well-regulated and sited windpower.. the industry has been making improvements, and significant ones, but there is more to do. But it's hard or impossible to know just how much damage to birds the coal-fired sources are responsible for. The rain of mercury into the watersheds in New England are stressing and mutating the entire ecosystem here. Wind is imperfect, but convince me that it isn't an enormous improvement over the procurement and burning of FF's for our electricity.

This is the Audubon Society's current statement on windpower.

Protecting Birds and Wildlife: While Audubon strongly supports wind power and recognizes it will not be without some impact, production and transmission facilities must be planned, sited and operated in concert with other actions needed to minimize and mitigate their impacts on birds and other wildlife populations. Several federal and state laws require this and the long-term sustainability of the wind industry depends on it. Wind power facilities impact birds from direct collisions with turbines and related facilities, such as power lines. Wind power facilities can also degrade or destroy habitat, cause disturbance and displacement, and disrupt important ecological links. These impacts can be avoided or significantly reduced, however, with proper siting, operation and mitigation.

The Audubon Society's position/opinion is very rational and is based on research:

These impacts can be avoided or significantly reduced, however, with proper siting, operation and mitigation.

Feral cats have a much greater impact on bird populations than windmills, but no one dares talk about that.

It's been talked about a lot. Every time I mention wind turbines killing birds, someone brings up the fact that feral cats kill birds also, as if this somehow makes bird mortality by windmills okay. What with so many sources of avian mortality out there, I'd think that one more just makes matters worse. I guess that I don't follow the 'logic' that many preexisting bad things justify one more bad thing.

No, I didn't mean it *that* way, sorry. I just meant that the cats are a far huger problem, probably won't be tackled until we're much further along the downslope, when the number of pets goes way down, and feral cats are hunted more.

I'd like to see figures on how many birds are killed by each "predator".

(I should clarify: I'm a bird nut, can take or leave cats, but am always on the side of the birds.)

I read a paper a few years back that estimated that cats kill 9 million birds annually in the state of Wisconsin alone. It isn't just feral cats that kill birds, either. Pampered pet cats kill birds too, altho they may not eat them if well fed. Avian mortality by Afroasiatic wildcats (which is what domesticated cats are) is an enormous problem. Where I live the riparian bosque is teeming with feral cats, plus the pet cats that neighbors allow to run loose. I have considered shooting or trapping them but just can't bring myself to do so. Our indoor cat was a feral kitten from the bosque. She is not allowed outdoors.

I didn't mean to imply that you, personally, have the attitude that multiple wrongs justify an additional wrong. I only meant to inform you that the cat problem has been discussed on TOD in recent weeks, and that the cat rationalization of windmill mortality has been put forward by others repeatedly.

No feral cat problems around here... coyotes love 'em! :-)

When I was living in N. Arizona, there were coyotes aplenty but the place was still overrun with feral cats.

Sadly I think the only predator clever enough to control feral cats is Homo sapiens, who has to get re-acquinted with "the other white meat".

Coyotes can't catch cats in the Forestiera & Rhus thickets under the cottonwoods. I hear coyotes most every evening & their tracks run everywhere, yet I see the same feral cats for months & years. There are bobcats & foxes & rattlesnakes here too. Predators seldom get cats - far too seldom to put a dent in their population.

What's a conflict is, I LIKE cats, it's not that I dislike them, it's just that I know the feral ones (and even a lot of domestic ones) create so much ecological havoc.

Of course so many of our pets cause problems, feral horses, dogs, cats, pigeons, starlings, etc etc etc etc .... I think by this time feral cats are NOT going to go away .... all we can do is hope the damaged, comprimised, web of life can adjust and become robust again after most of us are gone.

Yep, Felis silvestris has successfully invaded the Americas, Australia & Europe. Maybe Lynx spp. will survive AME & come to control Felis populations in North America, or perhaps Felis will come to be the apex mammalian (or at least felid) predator. More likely, tho, is that all cats will become extinct along w/ Homo.

There is a room somewhere in Washington that does nothing but identify birds which collide with airplanes. They get on average 6 bird remains per day. During peak migration periods they get up to 60 birds a day.

Look at the scale.

Reduce window area of existing and replacement structures (very good for energy efficiency) and this will more than offset wind turbine mortality.

Boarding up McMansions is a very good first step :-)


Removing the windows altogether might be a better step - Providing new nesting habitat inside, while recovering materials that can be used for cold frames, extending the growing season.

One step at a time :-)

Best Hopes for fewer windows, and fewer McMansions,


This is a good idea removing the windows will increase energy efficeincy and help the bird populations.

But here's what I see us humans doing next. Hmmm...no windows well I did enjoy the view and being able to look outside, so if I buy these cameras and hook them up to plasma screens hung on the walls on the inside of the house then I still get the energy efficiency of no windows and only use twice the energy as before. Which pushes down the bird population due to air pollution.

I sadly feel there are just to many of us humans on this small rock and some kind of mass die off is what we are headed for, weather it be famine, wars, toxins, (insert your best guess here)nature will bring the population down to a sustainable level even if that's Zero.

I get the impression that there is a lot of support for wind powered electricity generation among TOD posters, presumably because it's considered a "green" or "renewable" source of power compared to fossil fuels, and that concern about bird & bat mortality is trivialized.

And when you were asked to produce actual numbers you slunk away.

So I'll ask you again - got numbers to back up your claims?

Here are a couple articles and links. I really am concerned about the industrial scale that the wind buildout is happening in.. but I also think that the high visibility of this source is also going to have it watched much more closely than something that does it's destruction with vaporized chemicals, raining down on us a thousand miles downwind. From what I've heard, the slower-rotation big mills, and avoiding glaring mistakes like the Altamont Pass siting in the 70's has done a great deal to address this problem. I am personally also more optimistic about the long-term reliability and appropriateness of Vertical Axis mills, which have efficiency disadvantages against equivalent swept area, but are mechanically more simple, cheap and durable, as well as having a range of other advantages.. but mine is still in the basement, waiting it's turn (tern?) on my busy experiment roster.

SMALL WINDMILL STUDY (Smaller usu. has guywires, and much higher rotation speeds)

“Evidence from this study suggests that the probability of bird and bat mortalities being caused by collisions with small monopod wind turbines is low,” Dr. Andersen said in his report. “At the TREC site, a diversity of songbirds are using the area daily without turbine-related casualties, and the same is apparent with bats that are active nightly during their seasonal occurrence.”

http://www.west-inc.com/reports/fcr_final_mortality.pdf (2.5mb)
Foote Creek Rim Final Bird and Bat Mortality Report
Avian and Bat Mortality Associated with the Initial Phase of the Foote Creek Rim Wind Power Project, Carbon County, Wyoming. November 1998 – June 2002. Final Report. January 10, 2003.

At a few specific locations, such as the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area (WRA) near Livermore, California, there have been higher levels of raptor fatalities than at other wind facilities (Orloff and Flannery 1992). However, in comparison to TV/radio and other communications towers, the number of bird mortalities in wind power facilities is thought to be relatively small (AWEA 1995, Erickson et al.
Based on wind development in operation at the end of 2001, it has been estimated that wind turbines cause 0.01 to 0.02 percent (1-2 of every 10,000 fatalities) of collision-caused bird mortality in the U.S. (Erickson et al. 2001).
Early wind energy facilities in the U.S., such as those in the Altamont Pass, were placed without
regard to factors such as avian use, and some of these sites are located where birds are abundant and
the risk of turbine collisions is high (AWEA 1995). As a result, higher levels of raptor mortality
have been reported there than at other wind facilities.
For all years combined, the annual estimated mortality per turbine is 1.50 birds/turbine (90% CI = 0.93 - 2.08) and 1.34 bats/turbine (90% CI = 0.20- 2.43).
The number of raptor casualties was very low during the study period despite high raptor use estimates for the site. For example, no golden eagle carcasses were located during the study, despite
the high golden eagle use of the area, approximately 40% of all raptor use (see Young et al. 2002).

.. they did report both Bird and Bat bodies found.. but where to draw the line on this power source against the others? and are there locations and techniques that we can still develop to improve their safety?

Listing of a number of studies, the above Foote Creek included..

Ahh, but you are not the person making the bird/bat deaths are a problem claim.

they did report both Bird and Bat bodies found.. but where to draw the line on this power source against the others? and are there locations and techniques that we can still develop to improve their safety?

And you ARE asking the right kind of questions. Another question - if we humans were not feeding the birds, would the total bird numbers be up or down? How would that number compare to the number if no humans existed at all? And, if we agree that the number of birds deaths is an issue, what plan could be done that would result in more birds such that the death of a few from wind machines would be overcome?

Bats are a far tricker issue - humans can make mines that end up being great bat housing, can block caves so bats can more safely use said caves and even build fake bat homes. But the white nose fungus is a problem, and I know of no way one can feed bats like one can feed birds. And while one can build things to help birds for cheap, there is no cheap and easy batcave.

"Ahh, but you are not the person making the bird/bat deaths are a problem claim."

True enough.. but I wanted to look at a real study or two anyway, hoped that posting a snippet would bring in some interplay.. so thanks for the 'At-bat'.. but we'll have to take it up again when the topic re-arises. And it will.

(Some Maine biologists just proposed putting heaters into batcaves to help protect them against the fungal plague (?) Whitenose. Knock wood that we can keep our meddling wise and benign.)

but we'll have to take it up again when the topic re-arises. And it will.

And you and I could, but the person who keeps brining it up should have the data or not bring it up.

The 'think of the birds!' smacks of the 'look at this new tech which will save us' posts by theantidoomer. The posts keep comming, but not an actual discussion over the why they should get listened to.

Hello TODers,

I would suggest that resomation is better than postPeak wood-chippers:

N.H. rejects dissolving bodies as cremation alternative

..It leaves behind a coffee-colored liquid with the consistency of motor oil and a strong ammonia smell...
IMO, these legislators need to read up on the earlier bone & teeth looting of Waterloo and European catacombs.

EDIT: People seem to always forget that we will do anything for NPK. We are evolved to sit in the dark and walk in the daylight, but we can't do starvation.

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

Hey guys, DJIA at -197 today!

Do you really think this thing isn't coming back?

Citi is below a buck.

Citigroup market capitalization is only $5.5 billion.
The Gov't gave $25 billion to a company for 40% of a company only worth $5.5 billion???
Somebody needs to go back to school and learn math.

you do...;-)

you have to look at enterprise value which includes all their bonds/preferreds and is close to 900 billion. though if you give appropriate haircut to their debt and preferred its closer to 400 billion or so.

But if you bought $55,000 worth of Citigroup stock in January, 2007, wouldn't your investment now be worth only $1,000?

Dude. You are so right. I'll one up you- just buy out and merge the bad companies and throw them off into oblivion. It will save so much money in the long run...

Hilarious Comedy Central video clip via Calculated Risk, reviewing CNBC's comments on GM and financial stocks:


Jon Stewart said that CNBC could have made you a million dollars, if you started with $100 million.

Of course, I thought that energy stocks were probably a good buy in early 2008, but I do think that my 2007 ELP Plan article had it basically right--deflationary trends in auto, housing and finance with inflationary trends in food & energy prices. Compare oil prices to GM and Citigroup for the past two years and past 10 years. In January, 2007 Citigroup and oil were both about $55.

Thanks WT, that is the funniest thing I have watched in years. I am going to save the URL and send it to all the investors I know so they will know where to get their investment advice. Well, that is not exactly true but they will know where not to get their investment advice.

Jon Stewart, a voice in the wilderness? Sort of like Will Rogers, except for the dropping the f-bomb thing.
The video made me howl - with pain as much as with laughter.

Stewart can't even get his markets straight, Santelli works at the CBOT not Wall St.

Yeah, damn those comedians for not knowing exactly where each and every idiot in the financial world works. After all, they're in it for the laughs, but nothing's funny if the background data isn't just so. Talking heads we can forgive, but not those fouling our comedy with distasteful errors!



Stewarts brand of "humor" isn't just for laughs, it's pointed political satire.
Resorting to lies and distotions are just the ticket for keeping the willfully ignorant amused.

That's about as ridiculous a comment on humor as I've ever heard. Talk about missing the point. FYI, he makes fun of Obama, too.

Space out, dude.

Since I have to spell it out for you the big laughs and outrage was lumping Santelli w/Wall St.
Needless to say only the misinformed or willfully ignorant find such crap amusing.
Which one are you?

You are either woefully ignorant or an apologist.

Santelli's populist rant was pure posturing, regardless of his association with Wall St. IOW, it was noise.

What Stuart (and his writers) did was brilliantly expose the incompetents or bobble-heads that were complicit, willfully or inadvertently. The lie or assumption has been exposed. His impetus for the show may have been Santelli's cancellation of his appearance but his focus was on the general failure of the media at large.

This is a fraud of monumental proportions. There are many faults or errors to be shared.

Just what part of this collusion and dishonesty are you unwilling to acknowledge?

Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing Kramer shot at dawn. He is an unbalanced person who has no business being in a position of influence. IOW, he believes his own delusions as is obviously the case for a delusional mind.

My big question is: what are the motives of the so-called executives to keep him there? Yes, apparently he has made money in the past but every prospectus states "past performane is no indication of future returns".

The media industry is scrambling. Kramer or some of his ilk may survive but overall, Stewart was bang effing on.

Only when the bobble heads perish will we flourish because most people finally realize we are systematically being lied to.

You must be delerious.
Santelli is at the Chicago Board of Trade, the one that deals with bonds and commodities.
There was no way one can connect that market with the machinations of Wall St.
Santelli was responding as a taxpayer.
Do your homework before replying to me.

Please re-read my post before you respond more appropriately, because you obviously missed the crux of my post, choosing instead to rant in Santelli's defense.

Only then will I reply with any depth. I suspect even this much effort is a waste of time, but I am an optimist.

Did I really just see the Dow scroll across the screen at 6666.66?

Will it finish today at the number of the beast?

Let's say, just another beast of a day on the markets!!

It's hard to believe that the DJIA was above 12,000 last year at this time.


Down, down, down she goes, where she stops, nobody knows.

S&P 500 down ~4.5% to ~680 at ~15:40 EST

Denninger's got some prime doomer porn today.

Civil unrest will break out before the end of the year. The Military and Guard will be called up to try to stop it. They won't be able to. Big cities are at risk of becoming a free-fire death zone. If you live in one, figure out how you can get out and live somewhere else if you detect signs that yours is starting to go "feral"; witness New Orleans after Katrina for how fast, and how bad, it can get.

He also predicts that all pension funds will die, and that the government will have to cut off social security to fund the FDIC. And that tax revenue will fall so much the feds will be forced to seize 401(k)'s and other retirement plans to fund their borrowing.

Won't get my 401K - I'm seizing it first!

I just seized mine this week. I've lost all trust in the financial world.


Interesting. So I keep looking for a straight answer on this. After the 10% penalty off the top, is the rest of the 401(k) just taxed as ordinary income for the current tax year? Like if you had $100,000 in your 401(k) and make $50,000 in gross income from your salary, would it work like this?

$100,000 x -10% = $90,000 from 401(k)

$90,000 + $50,000 = gross ordinary income

$140,000 = taxable income for the year.

Or is the 401(k) taxed in some different way or at some different bracket?

Since I have my own business, I could conceivably temporarily lower my salary far enough to cash out some/all of my 401(k) and greatly reduce the tax risk, no?

I don't know about the maneuvers you could make in regards to your business, but otherwise yes, it works like that. You lose at your tax rate +10%. For now.

On the other hand, read Greer about retirement: http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2009/03/end-of-retirement.html

And GreyZone had a good graph of the stock market corrected for inflation some time ago.

Last, it's pretty clear to me that before this is done, our cleptocracy elites will take whatever they can find that still has value. There are no rules or laws that apply to them anymore, so they will get what they want (if there ever really were - on the way up there was no need to scavenge in the dumpsters for your retirement funds).

The whole retirement fund thing has been a great scam, and now that the game is up there is no reason for it to be maintained.

My deferred compensation plan was actually a 457 not a 401k. Aside from some minor differences, they are basically the same thing. I didn't have a penalty, but taxes were with-held. I'm also cutting back on work this year so as to minimize the tax liability. I'm using the additional time to prepare the house/family for WTSHTF.


At a certain point you have to wonder how long the people in the military are going to keep on taking orders from the civilian clowns. The brass have got to be starting to think that they would certainly be doing no worse at running the country, and probably a lot better without the constraints that our political system imposes.

I have a very hard time believing that will happen. I have been in the military for 20 years, and am still associated with it. I think that if some of the 'brass' attempted a coup that quite a few other military soldiers, sailors, marines, am airmen would gun down and possibly arrest the traitors. In essence, there would be an inter-military insurrection/civil war. Besides that, there are sufficient numbers of armed citizens to put down any attempted military coup...although some of the wackos would side with the coup-meisters. Back to the Civil War scenario, although instead of well-defined sides it would degenerate into a Mad-max free-for-all. Here's hoping to not become a banana republic.

Denninger seems to be even more shrill since receiving some award at the 2009 Conservative Political Action Conference. He seems to be lining up as Treasury Secretary in the Pallin/Limbaugh administration.

That is a cheap shot-the guy was a vocal critic of GWB, Paulson and the whole crew.

Sorry, calling as seen. I think Jon Stewart has pegged it with the image of Obama with the stock ticker scrolling over his eyes.

President Obama and the rest of the clown-car brigade in Washington DC - you have until Sunday Night when the Asian Markets open before this last charade likely translates over into those markets.

If that happens, and Europe has another day like it did today, the odds are we will open down so far off the support levels that were breached today that we will simply have no bid in large parts of the market - quite possibly including Treasuries and equities.

You own it Barack, along with the insane ramp in unemployment that will result.

Oh, and the GDP revision (which you knew about I'm sure) is already worse than the "stress test" you intend to impose; you are already running under too rosy of a scenario.

You've played smarmy politician one too many times Mr. President.

Hmmm. I voted for a President. Someone should have told us that we were supposed to be electing time-traveling superhuman omniscient market wizards.

IMHO you do not understand the arguments Denninger has presented, or the reasons why he is critical of Barack Obama-simply labelling the guy as a Limbaugh wannabe is lazy or stupid.

Do you really think this thing isn't coming back?

What I really think (and hope) is that we are getting close to the paradigm shift when the 'success' of our society/culture will not be measured by an index of 30 companies that via iterations and law of large numbers are the best of the bunch at extracting finite resources, innovating, marketing, and repeating the process - privatizing the paper wealth and externalizing the environmental and future generation costs.

I have written here and elsewhere that all time highs forever have been seen in US equity indices, but this all depends on how you define it. We could have DJIA 20,000 in 10 years with any combination of a)rampant inflation b)survivorship bias, c)new SEC rules d)smaller population e)much fewer stocks so less to invest in, f)stock market playing much smaller role in economy, etc. By todays rules, no, it is never coming back - if history is a guide though there will be some sharp 30-70% rallies but history may not be a guide this time as there is systemic lack of confidence in system.

Some new socio-political system is on the horizon - I am hopeful and petrified. And probably early.

It will come back because the manipulators never fail to use their favorite trick: comparing things that are different. The only stock that originally was in the Dow 30 and still is there is GE. Over the years all the rest were replaced, sometimes more than once.

This is also true of any stock index you can think of. The companies that fail, don't perform well enough or merge into other companies are replaced with the latest honey. The latest darling goes bad too, but not to worry, there is always another one sitting in the wings.

Then the promoters and spinmeisters start talking about how investing in stocks yields better than other things. No matter that the current version of the index being compared is completely different from the content of the old version of the index. And people buy it.

A trend gets started. Most traders/investors follow the trend because there is nothing else even remotely reliable since the market is looking at the future not the past. And it works until the trend reverses.

Traders want to have something to trade. They select whatever appears to be moving and in a trend. Sometimes it's commodities, sometimes bonds and sometimes stocks. Stocks will come into fashion again sooner or later, collapse or not. Maybe the new sweety stock will be some survivalist retailer or some such.

Someone has said: "Change is the only thing that is permanent."

thats what 'survivorship bias' means.

I think the economy might bounce back a bit this spring or summer. Low prices will tempt people to shop, whether it's for houses or clothes or stocks.

But in the long run...no, it's not coming back.

Stocks take another drubbing
Dow and S&P 500 fall to fresh 12-year lows as investors fret about GM, Citigroup and the global economy.

Stocks plunged to fresh 12-year lows Thursday as investors waded through more grim news: GM said its survival is in doubt, bank shares took a beating and Citigroup fell below a buck.

Adding to the global woes: China defied expectations by failing to boost its economic stimulus program.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) fell 310 points, or 4.5%, with 30 minutes left in the session. The Dow fell as low as 6,549.92, the lowest point since April 16, 1997.

And a little mood music, please...

What makes this recessions different from past recessions is how far back the lows are reaching. Over the previous 75 years the Dow never dropped lower than it was 5 years earlier according to an old broker friend. Now we are going nearly 12 years back.

...and we have yet to find a bottom.

Yes, I was noticing that, too. Twelve-year lows are quite spectacular.

During the Great Depression, the Dow fell to 41.22 in late 1932, very close to the 38.33 low-point established during the late 1907 crash. If that had been exceeded, then the next low waiting to be matched would have been 30.88 during late 1904. In any event, the Dow during the Great Depression reached approximately a 25-year low. To accomplish this today, the Dow would have to plunge to about 1,700. Ouch!



PS. Dow 4K sometime this year would roughly mark a two-decade low.

The Dow was considerably lower at the end of 1974 than it was in 1966. Adjusted for inflation it was lower still at the next big bottom in IIRC 1981. Much longer then 5 years.

The Dow did not exceed the 1929 high until 1954.

This is a nasty bear market, but so far nothing exceptional in terms of valuation extremes. Those extremes may or may not be in the immediate future, but the point is that on a PE basis we are nowhere near the valuations at the 1974 bottom.

How many people will have the spending capital to buy things besides what they normally buy?

Granted, I just bought something because it was cheap, but it was food. Though it was not something I normally buy, it was a good investment toward my balanced diet.

There might be enough employed Government workers to spend us out of the pit......


How many people will have the spending capital to buy things besides what they normally buy?

Quite a lot, I think. Most people still have jobs, and prices are starting to drop.

My guess is that there are a lot of people who could spend, but aren't. The savings rate has been spiking to levels that would have seemed impossible only a few months ago. That's money that could be spent instead. People are afraid, and are saving money. Even people who aren't afraid aren't spending, because it seems tacky when other people are so worried.

I come in under 9,000 dollars a year income. I don't live paycheck to paycheck, but I sorta don't live like most people on TOD either.

But you are right, people I know in my family are saving more, because they know that things are getting rough, or are bringing down debt.

When things get cheaper and they buy them, the sales figures for Items-Sold will go up, but the sales figures for Money-Made will have gone down.

Will that time be an indication of the markets getting near the bottom, or at the bottom?


Oh it can come back. An inflating currency can do that - raise even stock market prices.

In Colombia public order is not only under threat from the left (by
groups such as the FARC), but from the right as well (by groups like
Auc). This article details the presence of right-wing paramilitaries
that operate in the northern part of the country and survive by
trading arms and drugs with Panama and Venezuela:


The Auc gains new recruits by kidnapping children, mostly boys
between the ages of 15 and 17, and indoctrinating them into their


The article says that of the 2133 victims, 102 have been killed. I
suppose if the youths don't work out the Auc just kills them.

In Colombia, both right-wing and left-wing extremist groups claim to
be fighting for the people. They both gain footholds in the poorest
and most desolate regions of the country.

This seems to operate just the opposite as it does in the United
States, where, as recent economic events have shown, it is the
rich who pose the greatest threat to the society
and public order.

Also 60 Minutes had a segment on the growing violence in Mexico:


It says that 90% of the weapons the criminals use come from the United States.

The interview with Mr. Marti points out one of the falacies in the thinking of the rich in the United States. The rich always seem to think their gated communities will protect them. They won't.

I've spent a bit of time in Columbia, and it is by far the most dicy place I have been (and I have wandered the planet quite a bit). It is actually quite cosmopolitan in some areas (Bogota is a quite European), but you step over a line that has very different rules.

The Transition Towns Link made me think of something else, but they do have a better idea than what most cities are doing now.

They want to get together with the guys and gals around them and help change the city they live in for the best results down the road. Good thinking, basically what we all should hav ebeen doing all along not letting Big-Government do all the work. Because we mostly do not live in places that the KING decides how things are run anymore.

I was hoping there would be talk about how to make the inner cities form back up into what they should be. Walkable, Workable, Liveable, and Fun places to be on the Week-ends for out of towners to come and visit you. Everyone has a place to Garden, Their yards or Public areas. Everyone that needs a car can join car-share groups and if you must travel out of the center of town to other centered parts of town you have public rides on the buses, trams, trains, or the like.

But I could design the perfect world and if I had the money and power it would all work. Then as you closed the book where my little perfect world was you would relize just like me that you could never get it to work in the real world. So much for dreaming and living. I do my best to change what I can, but all by myself I won't get very much done.

So join now, sign up here, perfect world building group meeting at my house 7 pm march 7th 2034, Give us a ring if you need directions......


One big reason such ideas don't work is that land prices tend to increase the closer one gets to the center of a city. That fact means that it's too expensive to farm there or build low cost/low density housing there.

Sorry to say, you missed our New World Foundation meeting at "Shinning City on a Hill" community center back on 1 April 1984.

E. Swanson

But the inner city is often very cheap, because it's in the oldest section (the "bad part of town").

That is the idea behind the eco-hood. Old cities are often located in areas that are ideal for a lower-energy world. They have good soil, shelter, water, are along rivers or rail lines, etc. The topsoil was not scraped off as in a modern subdivision. The homes are small, the prices low.

I think you may be correct for houses in those older "Rust Belt" cities. As population has moved from these older cities to the newer cities in the Sun Belt, there may be more houses than people to live in them. The houses may be nearly worthless but the price of the land under them is much greater than the price of farmland away from town. Move to Detroit and buy one of those $1,000 houses. If one has a job or can pay cash, buying a house in an older city might look great. Until the next economic downturn.

I moved farther out, buying 2 acres in the mountains which was once part of an old farm. I have few neighbors and I haven't seen a soul so far today, except for the neighborhood dogs who came to visit this morning for our usual walk. Clean air, clean water from my well, lots of trees for firewood and near absolute quiet. Now, if I can only figure out how to grow some food on top of this ridge...

E. Swanson

Stair step raised beds, some wind breaks of dense hedges. Plants that grow in your region naturally. Find all the food plants that are in the wild, and see if you can grow some where you live. Raised beds. Rainwater collection. Get yourself a few 100 to 150 gallon containers like fish tanks, and raise any of a number of fresh water food fish. Plant yourself a Pond under Rainwater collection devices, and use that if you can't find large containers. Anything under 1,000 square feet should do nicely, especially if you can build it into several pools. You can grow food plants and pretty plants and fish all in the same place.

Lots of ideas streaming through my head.


I live less than a mile from a VERY big pond, but all the fish taste muddy. In hard times, Mississippi River catfish may be fished, but it will be VERY hard times.


This is perfectly suited to what you need, I'd guess. The full video can be bought, and probably downloaded via torrent.



Leanan, I lived for about a month in the San Jose ghetto (remember that for the last 6 months I've been constantly on the move, and I hope I have found a place to settle here, because a nomadic existance is very wearing and tends to make methods of making a living other than panhandling untenable) and there was nothing "eco" about that hood. The people there were actually less likely to garden or gather than average Suburbanites, and that's pretty bad. The main monetary inputs were welfare and food stamps, drugs, and various types of crime, such as theft and prostitution. Vacations were enjoyed in the form of stays in jail or prison of various lengths, or taking off "on the lam" from the law. If one did not have numerous tattoos (the only form of "wealth" and proof that one had some money, at one time) and an extensive criminal record, one was not a "full person" in the same way a 19-year-old in the suburbs would not be.

Food is cheap, if by food you mean fast food and snack foods. And beer. Vegetables almost unknown, and gathering "weeds" not tenable once you've seen the local crackheads piss on them. The neighborhoods are walkable, indeed, but bring a sap or pepper spray, and swagger like you're just itchin' to kill someone.

This is the population I expect to die off by at least 90%, and this is in the US, a country where I'd expect no more than a 75% long term dieoff. Sadly, the 90% dieoff worldwide, will be mostly borne by the third-world, and the US will fare relatively well I think. I'll not be surprised to see a 90-95% dieoff in these ghetto areas, and out-migration of the remainder. And as I talked about a few days ago, the area re-settled in the future by hardy farmer/gardeners who'll eat a weed.

The people there now are very fixed in their habits and that includes eating habits, their diet is actually less nutritious than the standard American diet, if that can be imagined. Their financial lifelines are all external to the area, and even basic goods like clothing and shoes are bought at thrift stores like the Salvation Army on Taylor St., cast-offs from Suburbia.

I feel the LA Garden is not all that is was hyped to be ....


You ought to plant trees fleam. When I was younger I spent several years as a nomadic treeplanter, spending the winters in the South & summers in the Southwest & Colorado. In the South I could routinely plant 2,000 trees per day, at a nickle per tree. $100 per day, tax free, wasn't bad for a hippie gypsy. I think that the most trees I ever planted in a day was 4,250. Out West conditions were tougher and I couldn't plant as many in a day, but got paid more per tree. I also logged, thinned, cut fuelwood on a commercial basis, and did trail maintenance. I never gave the contractor my real name or SS # ('cept for the logging company). Being up in the woods all the time was like a fringe benefit. Maybe things have changed but it would be worth checking out.

I may well plant trees gratis. I'm living the good life here, and ideally my musical-saw playing, making/playing simple "folk" instruments, etc should take care of what cash needs I have.

Speaking of trees, I'm reading up on Acacia trees and it's looking likely that the ones near my trailer, right now covered with yellow perfumy flowers, will yield some delicious seeds. And we're talking my bodyweight in the things - I'm thinking in terms of a year's needs for myself so I may end up trying them out as a coffee/chocolate/hazlenut tasting coffee substitute to sell and to give away. And I may plant seeds for these trees here'n'there "just to be nice".

Several Acer species have edible parts. Silver Maple has big windmill seeds in about 6 weeks from now. They are good dried, though you can eat them green, you can get a brust of mild maple juice if you find them just right in the green stage.

Also Honey Locust has big long bean like seeds, it is in the legume family. The seeds are edible from the green stage till dried. You can eat them out of hand while green.

I'd be willing to bet you have poke plants near by as well, but you might not.

Some Maple trees you can forage off the young tender buds just like a deer.

Find out what kinds of trees you got growing in you area and test them out for food value.


Only Acer species endemic around here is the box elder. There are only two mature individuals on my property. There is a silver maple some idiot planted before I bought the place and I've wasted a lot of water trying to keep that poor thing alive. Only endemic locust is Robinia neomexicana and that thing is an invasive monster of a "wait-a-minute" bush, if ever there was one. If it appeared on the property I'll fight it at all costs. Some larger locusts are grown around town as thornless ornamentals but they require a lot of water.

Pinyon pine is one tree native to the area that produces edible pine nuts. Those I planted over a decade ago are now between four & eight feet tall. I won't see nuts off them in my lifetime. Fruit trees haven't borne since '06 due to late frosts. I'm hoping they will this year altho I lost several young ones to girdling by rock squirrels winter before this past one. (Mock me for failing to protect them if you must.) In short, growing trees here is difficult. The soil is alkaline & it doesn't rain much. I do have irrigation water but many or most of the familiar trees across the continent just don't grow well here, if they grow at all.

I plan to keep my eyes and mind open to all kinds of goodies, even if I never need them, it's a way to lead a richer life.

Pinyon pine is one tree native to the area that produces edible pine nuts.
I have these in abundance in Crestone. One native american was using a shopvac in the neighborhood to get the abundant crop off the ground last fall.

Pinyon pine is one tree native to the area that produces edible pine nuts.
I have these in abundance in Crestone.

IIRC, pinon only give nuts every few years. You may have been lucky on the timing?

Try pistachios You might not get a harvest out of them but they should grow in the climate.


The pity is, you are right. The Culture has run down so far that in some places no one will be left standing that does not have a gun and is willing to kill for food. They won't be able to get past the fact that food does not have to come from a box with directions such as () please place in the middle of the nuker, press 1 min, turn half way through cokking press 30 secs, enjoy your din din ().

There will be die-offs for these Cultures.

But there is some hope that 3rd world nations are closer to their old ways of gathering food and might be able to not die-off at 90%.


Leanan -

The only trouble with trying to resettle the inner cities are the other inhabitants that are already there.

Even under far better economic times, doing such 'homesteading' was always a dicey and often dangerous enterprise, particularly if one has kids. It's no fun worrying whether your high-school age kid is going to get stabbed or beaten to death. Ditto for you car being vandalized, your home robbed, or your wife being mugged in broad daylight on her way home from food shopping.

And I'm not talking about gentrification, wherein a huge infusion of yuppie capital was able to transform slums into high-end neighborhoods. No, I'm talking about taking one's chances and actually living amongst the natives. It takes lots of guts to be an urban pioneer.

There are very good reasons why houses in places like Detroit are so cheap. In the end, there are no bargains.

That's my point. You have to wait for the "natives" to dieoff, kill each other off, the remainder migrate, before you come in an resettle. If you try it before, it *could* work, but remember ghetto dwellers can't feed themselves but they're very good at violence and killing. They'll do their best to kill you, *then* starve. Remember one competent farmer/gardener is worth 100 ghetto-dwellers (or just non-farmers, non-gardeners) and calculate accordingly. The losses are likely to be unacceptable.

The idea is not to be a pioneer, but to get a group together, like you might for co-housing, a community farm, or other such project. As with gentrification, the first ones in would probably not have children.

Leanan -

So then, are you saying that homesteading in blighted-out urban areas is only for those who elect not to have children?

If so, then that doesn't sound very 'sustainable', does it?

Don't you see, there was a reason why during the post-war era many families, even those with long-standing strong roots in urban areas, fled to the suburbs. Quite simply, they just couldn't take it anymore. It's no different than algae migrating from the dark side of the rock to the sunny side. People may be ignorant, but they know the difference between what's good and what's bad for them.

In rural poverty nature tends to be your main enemy; but with urban poverty your fellow man is your main enemy. Big difference.

In the event that TSHTF, an urban inner city is the very last place on earth I'd like to find myself. Worse than rural Mad Max.

You wanna buy a nice cheap house in Detroit, be my guest.

So then, are you saying that homesteading in blighted-out urban areas is only for those who elect not to have children?

No, I said the first in would likely be the ones without children. That is how it usually works with the other options, too.

The Eco-Hood is not meant to prepare for Mad Max. It's meant to be a greener way of living, assuming BAU continues more or less as usual.

Which is pretty much the case for co-housing, communal farms, and even transition towns. They are not designed for a Mad Max world.

The Transition Towns movement is building rapidly because it brings together a variety of people who have been active over the year for some sort of societal change focused on either more justice, more ecological thinking, less television, what have you.

I am involved with Transition Boulder County and recently took the basic Transition training. I can say this: the movement has some important strengths, especially in that it does not claim to have the solution to anything. The basic idea is to get together with your neighbors and think about how to increase the resilience of your community to whatever may threaten, be it low fossil fuels, climate change, or economic instability. Principles borrow from permaculture, use behavior change analogies, and introduces new ideas, such as that of the "initiating group" planning at the outset, for its own replacement or evolution.

In my mind, given the uncertainty, those of us who have decided that one of our strategies will be community-building should find a role within Transition.


It is a way to build the stoop life of the years gone by, where you knew everyone around and had hands ready when things got tough for those living by you.

No one knows all the answers, and for each little burg or area the answers change. sitting down and talking about things and brain storming with those you will have to live with when the tough times come is a lot better than looking over your shoulder and totting your gun out everytime the knock sounds at the door.


Residential Construction Trends in America’s Metropolitan Regions (EPA, 2009) (PDF)

US Census residential building permit data for the 50 largest metropolitan regions was examined over an 18 year period (1990 to 2007). Specifically, the amount of permits issued by central cities and core suburban communities was compared to the amount issued by suburban and exurban communities. The main goal was to clarify: 1) if there has been a shift toward redevelopment; and 2) in which regions the shift has been most significant.

The permit data showed that, in several regions, there has been a dramatic increase in the share of new construction built in central cities and older suburbs. Specifically, in roughly half of the metropolitan areas examined, urban core communities dramatically increased their share of new residential building permits. For example:
• In fifteen regions, the central city more than doubled its share of permits.
o In the early 1990’s, New York City issued 15 percent of the residential building permits in the region. Over the past six years it has averaged 44 percent.
o The City of Chicago saw its share of regional permits rise from 7 to 23 percent over the same period.
o Portland, Oregon went from 9 to 22 percent.
o Atlanta, Georgia went from 4 to 13 percent.
• The increase has been particularly dramatic over the past five years.
• Data from 2007 show the shift inward continuing in the wake of the real estate market downturn.

they would show an increase in both Little Rock and North Little Rock Arkansas, all off it within sight of the River, IE downtown.

But the cost of the living places is in the high end $, and not what Leanan called Eco-Hood types of projects.

Someone has to live there, but these two cities HATE homeless people with a passion. I don't see this area improving into a gardening-homesteading area anytime soon.


Hello TODers,

IMO, this is an excellent rant:

Our troubled country: for lack of water, I'm so dry, I can't spit

..Connecting the dots...unchecked, rampant population growth..

I lived in Atlanta for most of my life. I used to hike in the woods next to the Chattahoochee River, in an area inside the Atlanta City limits which still had woods when I was young. We used to go water skiing on Lake Lanier after the Buford Dam was built. Some years later, after living in California during the drought in 1975, I returned home to find that Atlanta already had a big water problem. It's only become worse over the years and last summer, during the drought, there were thoughts that Atlanta would need to be evacuated if the lake ran dry because there would be no way to extinguish fires without water.

It's been known for decades that the Colorado River water flow was allocated during a period of high flow, thus under normal conditions, there would not be enough water. Since then, the population using that water has exploded and it looks like there's going to be a severe drought this year. Good luck on getting more rain. It's spring, the beginning of the Dry Season...

E. Swanson

11% of mortgages are troubled
More than 1.5 million homes are seriously delinquent and close to foreclosure.

More than 11% of all mortgages are either delinquent or in foreclosure, according to an industry report released Thursday.

The percentage of borrowers at least one month behind in their mortgage payments - but not in foreclosure - rose to nearly 8% during the fourth quarter of 2008, according to the National Delinquency Report from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). This is the highest rate of delinquency ever recorded by the survey, which began in 1972, and reflects a record 13% jump compared to the third quarter.

And we haven't even hit the foreclosure wave yet...

If this doesn't show how bad things will get, I don't know what will...

The McPaper rounds it up to 12% of all mortgage holders:

A record 5.4 million American homeowners were either behind on their payments or in foreclosure at the end of 2008, the Mortgage Bankers Association reports.
That translates to almost 12% of mortgage holders, up from 10% in the July-September quarter and up from about 8% a year earlier.


So, it took three quarters to rise from 8% to 10%, then one quarter to rise from 10% to 12%.

Is this trend -
a) parabolic,
b) exponential, or
c) hyperbolic?

Vote now!

Bus driver has $800,000 home foreclosed on
"Bail me out, Obama!"

Minta Garcia and her family bought an $800,000 home that they could not afford, using speculative lending as a lever. The value of the house has dropped to $675,000, and now Garcia faces foreclosure.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Her message to the president…
GARCIA: Stop with the foreclosure.
ACOSTA (on camera): Stop the foreclosures?
GARCIA: Yes. Right now, because if people are losing houses, losing jobs, what are we going to do?

Um, well, I have a housing option for the Bus Driver...

High end housing areas, but That house was huge, a Whole lot bigger than I'd have bought for only having two kids. What were they thinking is the big question.


Gades, where were they taught these values? Who do they think they are to assume everything will go just fine in the future? I guess I learned from my parents who grew up in the depression, hedged their bets and only got into debt when they could afford to get out in a timely manner and without risking the roof over their head.


Half of the population is below average.

It used to be the job of a banker to prevent this kind of mistake. Nowadays, it seems the bankers have been jumping the line...

A banker today might be as honest as the next guy, but banks in general want to make money, see the depositors as money on wheels and eat them alive.

Some of these foreclosures are just going to have to happen, and people are going to have to take the hard knocks. You do learn when life hits you hard. Or you would hope so anyway.

GM bites the dust and 2 million foreclosures bite the dust, then when the dust settles we go in and get loads of cheaper things from the results.

I guess all I want to do is rant and rave about this whole mess.


Rees's Thesis

"We act instinctively on the immediate short-term interest," says Rees. "We pretend we're a science-based species, but in fact we are being driven by survival instincts." We receive a generous-if fleeting-shot of endorphins every time we crack open shrink-wrap packaging. We're obsessed with happy endings. And into this Blue Light Special wonderland comes Dr. Doom, his cart containing peer-reviewed science proving that all the things that we hold sacred are, in fact, leading us into "a collapse from which there is no recovery." Thank you for shopping. Have a nice day!

So where's the way out? First, says Rees, we must enroll in a kind of society-wide 12-step program and admit that we have limited control over our emotions and instincts. We need to arrive, collectively, at the understanding that not only are we hard-wired as a species to expand to fill all available space but we prefer the path of least resistance. We need to legislate ourselves away from these instincts. We also need to get behind the idea, in large numbers and as quickly as possible, that there might be a viable alternative to the relentless quarter-on-quarter growth we've built our dreams around.

Long, rather personal piece on Dr. Rees of "ecological footprint" fame. Pessimistically optimistic.

"admit that we have limited control over our emotions and instincts"

I love that line, but doubt more than 1% of the population would understand or accept this. Too many believe in "free will" and "in god's image" and too few understand biology.

"legislate ourselves away from these instincts"

A great idea IMO, but it can't work if 99% of the population does not understand the "legislation" under consideration - and if their god tells them otherwise (e.g. population control - ask catholics, russians or iranians ...).

IMO, as conditions get worse, we are much more likely to act on instincts and much less likely to act on reason.

Agreed. Though even before things were falling apart, the world was too complex for most people to engage it on anything other than automatic responses, reflexes, and conditioning.

Good article, but I have say...the bit you quoted sounds like it's more about Americans than about humans in general. Few societies are as in love with large vehicles as Americans. And obsession with happy endings...I don't think that is hard-wired. (Seeing British and Japanese TV shows for the first time was quite a shock for me...even the children's shows don't necessarily have happy endings.)

The "separate from nature" part I'm not sure about. At the very least, it's far more pronounced in the west, and in particular the US. For example...if a society believes in reincarnation...that suggests that humans are not apart from nature. If you start out as a cockroach and work your way up to human, obviously humans are privileged...but not separate.

To understand the Empire you have to understand that it's a Calvinist, Godly Empire, its people the People Of God (other than adulterers, homosexuals, and probably the descendents of the Biblical character Ham, who all need to be exterminated, in a Godly way of course) and We of the Empire have been commanded by God to go forth and conquer the Earth and wipe out all who are Un-American or Anti-American etc.

It really explains everything. For instance, the way we treat the poor. You can be living the ideal All-American life, running a small biz and raising 3 kids, a football player, a baseball player, and a future engineer, going to church every week, etc and if you get sick, it's seen as God showing disfavor towards you. Watch all your friends turn their backs on you, and be prepared to deal with our punitive laws against the poor. If God doesn't like you, who'd want to be seen around you? Screw you, you're bad!

Sound extreme? A shockingly large proportion of the people in the US think this way at the subconscious level if not consciously.

If you start out as a cockroach and work your way up to human..

I think you may have this backwards.

It's a typical human misconception to believe that an oversized brain must make us the greatest of all beings and therefore it shouldn't be surprising at all that the last stage of the reincarnation-cycle is said to be a hairless chimp suffering from an insatiable urge to collect useless stuff.
But I am repeating myself.

Anyway, William Rees seems to be a reasonable guy, though I doubt that his dream of avoiding a catastrophic outcome and creating a zero-material-growth economy will take roots in reality. And even if it would, how long would it take before we switch back to the growth-meme?

Few days back I posted an article about the decline in the Iraqi oil production and the government decision of sending a “high level” committee to investigate, today we get the recommendations:

IRAQ. A high-level committee set up by Iraq's Oil Ministry to look into the causes of a sharp fall in southern oil production has presented a US$200 million accelerated action plan to try to reverse the trend amid expectations of a more than 100,000 bpd fall in production capacity from the south in 2009.

A copy of the Accelerated Plan presented to Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani was the subject of a detailed report by energy analyst firm Platts. It designates the fields where capacity can be boosted by using internal resources. The committee was established in December 2008 and is headed by deputy prime minister Barham Saleh and includes two former post-war oil ministers, Thamer Ghadban and Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum.

The decline in southern production, according to Iraqi Oil Ministry official figures obtained monthly by Platts, occurred during the second half of 2008 and coincided with the steep decline in oil prices. The figures showed that production fell from an average 1.93 million bpd during the period May to August to an average of 1.8 million bpd during the last quarter of the year.
Full article:

Also of interest from the article:

Iraqi oil production has been below 2.5 million bpd since August last year, when production averaged 2.538 million bpd. Iraqi oil sources told Platts that the main reason for the decline in output has been a fall in production from southern fields, where some wells have been shut because of high water content, as well as the shortage of water for injection in the Rumaila oil fields and the absence of a water injection scheme for the West Qurna oilfields.

I have always held the believe (from my experience as an Iraqi as well as having my father working in the ministry of industry in the 70s and 80s) that the Iraqi oil production will collapse in the next few years due to the EXTREME state of corruption and neglect that exist in the country today, further more the ethnic and political divisions are paralyzing the country ability to go ahead with any significant oil development projects as the various factions fight to control as much as they can from the promised oil riches; and once the US pulls out of the country, whatever remaining production is likely to collapse as the prospect of civil war is VERY real, the relative calm of 2008 was largely the result of the government disbursing billions of dollars of oil wealth throughout the country, hence creating the biggest well fare state in the planet with close to 80% of the population dependant directly or indirectly on government jobs, jobs which the government can not afford at $40 oil.

As for the future of Iraq after the US pull out, here is a small glimpse from today’s news:


Interesting. Thanks for the insider view.

'the relative calm of 2008 was largely the result of the government disbursing billions of dollars of oil wealth throughout the country, hence creating the biggest well fare state in the planet with close to 80% of the population dependant directly or indirectly on government jobs'

Nawar...What is so different about the current welfare state and the welfare state of Saddam Hussain? I have read and seen video of terrible things that the dictator Saddam did. But, wasn't Iraq more stable under the dictator than it will be after the US leaves? I cannot see where this 'war on terrorisim', or whatever it is currently called, has done any good for the Iraqi people or the US. How do you view this? Thanks.

You raise a very good point. Since Nov 5 there has not been much discussion of that extreme form of Marxism practised by President Bush -- giving everyone in the country the same-sized handout.

It seems to me that this method is the fairest way to stimulate the economy. Much more fair than selectively trying to shield ailing corporate dinosaurs from Schumpeter's "Gale of Creative Destruction".

Any comments, anyone?

I would say that Bush was more of a Stalinist, and the last 8 years equate with 1935 in the Soviet Union, where dissent was squashed, superstition and ideology instrumented, and the intellectual and educated class removed from power.
His executive power proclamations equate with Stalin securing power during that period.

has anyone forgotten 9/11? and how pissed off this country was? we were after blood. kill'em all, let Allah sort them out!

I am hearing on radio there is push to try Bush for war crimes. the other day the Dali Bama released documents and tapes concerning torturing practices etc. which i thought was a slap in the face of an exiting president helping to phase in the new president during these difficult times. Bush did't have to help the transition for the Dali Bama at all. Bush could have just walked away, and let the Dali Bama figure it out himself.

so if this war crimes against Bush comes to trial, i would imagine there would be protests in the streets.

so if this war crimes against Bush comes to trial, i would imagine there would be protests in the streets.
I agree, but it would probably be for a guillotine to put his head in, which I don't think would be productive.
I think we need a truth commission, like in South Africa or Rwanda, to expose the crimes and let the country heal and move on.
But the truth of these crimes needs to be made public and recognized, before the health of the Nation can be restored.

War crimes: OK.

Prosecuting them: Not.

Cognitive dissonance: Priceless.

River you touch on several points, from a political point of view Iraq was indeed more stable under Saddam, however this stability came at a very expensive price of harsh oppression and extreme limitation on individuals freedom; Saddam had to be taken out, but not through an external intervention, he had to be taken out internally from forces inside the country, the US idea of importing democracy to Iraq was and is a failure, simply the country is not ready for it, and the fragility of the democratic system does not allow for the efficient control of such a fragmented country (not that we need necessarily dictatorship to control it), but what was needed in my opinion is a natural evolution toward democracy and not an artificial leap into one.


Khebab, and Rembrandt
I have a fundamental problem here. I keep coming back to Khebab's chart that he reverse engineered from the IEA data. It shows rapid decline, to approx 69MBD from 74 MBD by 2010. That is 9 months away
The decline looks to have started last year (depending on how you magnify the chart)

Yet Rembrandts monthly oil report shows NO decline of global production or global total exports - pretty much the bumpy plateau. So what gives?

Is the IEA data flawed? possibly
Is khebab's math incorrect? I doubt it
or is Rembrandt's data in error?

And if the decline does start, everyone is going to say - oh its OPEC cutbacks, its not real

But the key question is, going back to Khebab's chart - why have we not seen the drastic declines???

If there is one big 'take out' I have learnt from the last 12 months its that all my assumptions and the price of oil can "turn on a dime".

With this sort of volatility, money creation and general voodoo crap going on the only thing about the future that is predictable is its unpredictability -we are in the eye of chaos IMO.


I'm banking just a little bit on the assumption that Solar Radiation and being known as a handy inventor/fixit guy will be less unpredictable than the future of the dollar or the price&availability of Oil. Planting seeds in decent soil still has a fairly good chance of giving a return, too.

I know it's OT from where you started.. but I'm trying to build my list up of the things we can generally still rely on.

I am finding it difficult to believe the demand numbers. It is nonsensical that world demand is down so little YOY. My head says the number must be right. My gut disgrees.

At some point the Saudi kingdom will be in serious trouble. Beyond the revenue problem their investment assets, like every ones, is shrinking rapidly. In the end the schizophrenic nature of the Saudi state, extreme religious and cultural conservatism combined with vast wealth and privilege relies upon what amounts to paying people off.

Just got downsized from my job a few hours ago. I worked for a oil/gas drilling equipment manufacturer. Basically, orders just dried up about six month ago. About 20% of the employees that were there early last month are now gone. Is this a taste of the future?

Sorry to hear that. I lost my job a few months ago, and haven't found anything yet.

Sorry to hear about the layoff, Frugal. It has been happening around me, where other operators are cutting back, parking vehicles, shutting down wells, etc. I can't see shutting all of them down until I absolutely have to, but drilling equipment is different. I heard of one drilling contractor, confident thqat things were going to come back, parked 17 air rigs but kept a crew on for a couple of months to carry out all maintenance operations, but let them go when there was still no business.

Good luck, and I hope something pops for you.

Frugal - Sadly, it indeed is.

My small biz died a couple of years ago now, and I've been living "underground" because of unpayable debt and taxes, but I've kept my feelers out for jobs and it went from Damned Few to Damn There's Nothing.

CEOjr says he lives like "few here" because his income is 9,000 dollars a year, I'll vouch that's true, he makes about 5X what I do!

Read here, talk, and learn. Learn to stock away preps frugally, live frugally, be able to work doing odd jobs for $3 an hour and get by on that, etc.

People can't afford $40 oil as well as they could afford $120 oil two years ago!

I know a lot of people that seem to get by on a lot less than I make, most of them don't have computers at home, they go to libraries to use the internet. But still most of them do have cell phones, or at least know whom they can borrow one from.

I told my dad today that if I paid all my bills 5 dollars each I'd be unable to live. The fall of 2005 I was dead for all practical purposes and my medical bills stemming from then till now pass 250,000 dollars. No way to pay them back.

My 3rd ex-wife lives on less than I do. I do pay most of her major living expenses still because she is knocking on death's door and unable to work and unable to live off of what Social Security pays her. She was homeless when I first met her, at least now she has a roof over her head.

May you find peace in your living arrangements and live under the radar as long as you can.


Yeah, times are tough. I've not had full time work since 1986 and my last part time situation died in 1992. With a small inheritance, I moved out to the country, where I lived in a camper for 7 winters as I built a house. I just hope that SS will still be available if I live to 70, as it won't pay much when I reach the normal age for SS at 67.

Hey, I've got an old 24 foot Airstream Argosy you can have. It needs a new floor and hasn't been moved for 10 years. Too bad I'm 2,500 miles away. I've got a line on a large factory building that needs filling too, if you have any thoughts for "creating" jobs. We've been trying to find something to build, possibly something which would fit in with the Stimulus Bill's funding. There's lots of idle hands out there that could be put to work to fix things. Any ideas on building parts for the "Smart Grid"?

E. Swanson





Sorry, as well.

Yeah. The future is definitely now. Aside from the resume' and the cold calls.. you might consider writing up a bit of your thinking on 'big stuff' .. what's going on around you, what it seems like from your perspective here and now.. what's important for you personally.. think about goals and dreams, the more 'out there' the better, just put it all down. It might spur some useful notions on where to go from here, and it might be a really interesting view from a totally unique place in history.

Just a thought. Hang in there!

Drudge Headline:


I'm not sure that only $500 Billion deserves headline status. Personally, I think that only spending increments of $One Trillion or more deserve headline status and discussion.