DrumBeat: March 12, 2009

OPEC February Production Down 28.07 MMbopd

The 12 members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries pumped an average 28.07 million barrels per day (b/d) in February, as the oil producer club continued its efforts to slash oversupply and prevent oil prices falling further, according to a Platts survey of OPEC, oil industry officials and analysts just released. This is down 900,000 b/d down from January's 28.97 million b/d.

North Sea Decommissioning Opportunities for UK Firms

THE massive programme to decommission the North Sea's offshore oil and gas fields could provide a US $20.67 billion (GBP 15 billion) "abandonment jackpot" for British companies which could last almost a century.

Venezuela Economy to Shrink 4.1 Percent in 2009, Barclays Says

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela gross domestic product will shrink 4.1 percent in 2009 as revenue from oil sales plunges by $50 billion, said Alejandro Grisanti, an economist at Barclays Capital Inc.

Corporate Oil Booms in Low-Tax Switzerland

The tidy towns and mountain vistas of Switzerland are an unlikely setting for an oil boom.

Yet a wave of energy companies has in the last few months announced plans to move to Switzerland -- mainly for its appeal as a low-tax corporate domicile that looks relatively likely to stay out of reach of Barack Obama's tax-seeking administration.

A risk big oil companies can afford to share

IN HIS 2010 budget, President Obama wants $31.5 billion from oil companies over the next 10 years with new taxes and by closing tax loopholes. This is a mere $3.15 billion a year, but the oil execs still say Obama is the creature stealing their black lagoon.

Alberta Hands Oil, Gas Cos A Royalty Break

As Alberta's once red-hot energy sector fizzles with the global economic downturn, the province is handing its oil and gas producers a break -- but many say it's not enough.

Last week, the provincial government announced temporary royalty breaks of up to C$1.5 billion for its beleaguered energy industry, offering low rates and drilling credits for new oil and gas wells to companies struggling with the collapse in commodity prices and tightened credit markets.

Energy policy: Down to business

There's no denying the urgency of the threat posed by climate change. But those who condemn private oil companies for their policies would do better to look at their own governments.

Coast Guard, ENSCO Work to Recover Sunken Jackup

Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Galveston personnel continue to work closely with representatives from ENSCO to recover the submerged jackup ENSCO 74.

The ENSCO 74 is submerged approximately 24 feet below the surface of the water, 70 miles southeast of Galveston Island. The ENSCO 74 is an independent leg, jackup that was displaced from South Marsh Island (SM 149) off the coast of Louisiana during Hurricane Ike.

Palin's Priorities Unlikely to Advance

Two of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's legislative priorities this year appear to have been rejected by the state Legislature, observers say.

The Anchorage Daily News reported Wednesday that the Republican governor's proposal dealing with an in-state natural gas pipeline and consolidating the six Railbelt utilities to pursue the Susitna River dam appear to be dead.

Amazon could shrink by 85% due to climate change, scientists say

Global warming will wreck attempts to save the Amazon rainforest, according to a devastating new study which predicts that one-third of its trees will be killed by even modest temperature rises.

Paltry Predictions: Why Have Some of the World’s Best and Brightest Minds Underestimated How Quickly We’re Scorching the Atmosphere?

The underestimation of greenhouse emissions occurred, Field said, because the IPCC failed to include in its scenarios the rapid increase in carbon dioxide from Asia’s coal-reliant industrial expansion between 2000 and 2007.

“We were too optimistic,” Field said. “There was no decrease in emissions from developed countries and the sharpest increases and overall intensity came from China and India that rely heavily on coal.”

“It was assumed that coal would become less important,” says Ken Caldeira, also of the Carnegie Institution. What happened, however, is that China and India developed rapidly while rising oil prices pushed wealthy nations to use more coal, which is more CO2 intensive in its emissions. Scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Science Institute concur that the past five years’ sharp increase in atmospheric CO2 is attributable to the steep rise in global coal use, pushed upward by accelerated Asian economic and industrial development.

Federal Climate Change Research Program Should Realign Focus To Both Understand Climate Change and Inform Response Strategies

WASHINGTON -- The federal government's climate change research program should broaden its focus to include research that would support actions needed to cope with climate change-related problems that will impact society, while building on its successful research to improve understanding of the causes and processes of climate change, says a new report from the National Research Council. As the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) looks to the future, it should establish a U.S. climate observing system; develop new modeling capabilities for regional- and decadal-scale forecasts; strengthen research on adaptation, mitigation, and vulnerability; initiate a periodic national assessment of climate impacts and responses; and routinely provide policymakers with crucial scientific information, tools, and forecasts.

Yergin: Oil users will have more impact on price

The direction oil prices take will depend more on a meeting of world leaders in London next month than on what the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries decides this weekend, said Daniel Yergin, chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates.

Efforts to boost global growth will be more meaningful to oil markets than whether OPEC decides to cut oil output because prices reflect the economic slowdown, Yergin said in an interview Wednesday at the Futures Industry Association annual conference in Boca Raton, Fla., where he's scheduled to speak today.

"GDP is going to determine the price," said Yergin, author of a Pulitzer-Prize winning history of oil. "We're now in the Great Recession, and that's what the price reflects."

Russian president says Russia keen on fair, stable oil prices

MOSCOW (KUNA) -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev underscored here on Thursday his country's interest in fair and stable price for oil in world markets.

Medvedev said in a statement carried by Interfax news agency that Russia does not want high nor unjustified prices for oil but at the same time it is interested not to see a serious decline of these prices.

Iraq Kurd Region President Slams "Failed" Baghdad Oil Policy

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- The president of Iraq's Kurdistan region, Massoud Barzani, Thursday slammed what he called the "failed" oil policies of the country's central government and said Kurdistan's exports could amount to 1 million barrels a day of oil in three years' time.

Ruble Slides Versus Dollar as Alfa Sees 20% Drop, Oil Tumbles

(Bloomberg) -- Russia’s ruble plunged the most in almost three weeks against the dollar as Russia’s largest privately owned bank forecast a 20 percent depreciation and the price of oil continued to decline.

China Industrial-Output Growth Slows as Exports Slide

(Bloomberg) -- China’s industrial-production growth slowed in the first two months of the year as exports slid at a record pace. Bank lending jumped as the nation’s 4 trillion ($585 billion) stimulus began to take effect.

Output rose 3.8 percent in January and February from a year earlier, slowing from a 5.7 percent increase in December, the statistics bureau said today. New lending quadrupled in February to 1.07 trillion yuan from a year earlier, the central bank said.

“The export engine has died: China is in a ‘help themselves’ mode, pump-priming like crazy to increase fixed-asset investment and keep retail spending going,” said Joseph Tan, chief Asian economist at Credit Suisse Private Bank in Singapore. “I think they’re going to pull it off.”

World population to reach nine billion by 2050: UN projections

The world population is projected to top nine billion in 2050, up from 6.8 billion this year and seven billion early in 2012, according to UN estimates released Wednesday.

Most of the additional 2.3 billion people will swell the population of the developing world, estimated to soar from 5.6 billion this year to 7.9 billion in 2050, and to spread among the 15-59 age group (1.2 billion) and those 60 or over (1.1 billion), the data showed.

The 2008 Revision of the official UN populations projections forecast minimal change in the population of the more developed nations, which should rise from 1.23 billion to 1.28 billion during the same period.

That population would have in fact dipped to 1.15 billion without the projected net migration from developing to developed countries, expected to average 2.4 million persons annually from 2009 to 2050, it noted.

Meet the sceptics

In Copenhagen, scientists have been gathering this week to air the latest research on global warming. In Washington, Barack Obama and Congress are working on legislation to curb the burning of greenhouse gases. European government leaders returning from the US talk of how the new administration is giving fresh momentum to efforts for a global climate change treaty. Then there is this gathering, almost ignored by the media, which talks about climate change as a relic from the past: "Global warming: was it ever really a crisis?"

Global warming 'will be worse than expected' warns Stern

Politicians have failed to take on board the severe consequences of failing to cut world carbon emissions, Nicholas Stern, the economist who warned the government of the high cost of climate change, said today.

Stern told a meeting of climate change scientists in Copenhagen that the effects of global warming would be worse than he predicted in his seminal 2006 report on the economics of the problem. He said policy-makers needed to think more about the likely impact of severe temperature rises of 6C or more.

The Earth’s Moment, Unveiled

Friedman is picking up on a theme that people like Bill McKibben and James Kunstler have been touching on for a while. The party is over, and we are standing on the edge of something new and different and very uncertain. What comes next is likely to be some kind of fundamental change. It might be very, very bad or, if we are smart and fearless and flexible, it might lead to something more sustaining on a wide variety of levels.

...The link Friedman doesn’t directly draw in the piece is the one that fascinates me most when I think about science and its context. Over the last 100 years, we rapidly constructed a world-girdling empire of commerce tied together by webs of electromagnetic radiation, information processing machinery, and 10,000 mile long supply chains. In just 100 years, our burgeoning scientific capacity let us burn through 100 million years of stored solar energy in the form of fossil fuels. Now, it seems, the unintended consequences of all that science and its daughter technologies are snapping back on us. What do we do now? What can we do?

Oil inches toward $43 as inventories rise weighed

SINGAPORE – Oil prices inched toward $43 a barrel Thursday in Asia after an unexpected rise in U.S. crude inventories, suggesting demand remains poor, sparked a big drop in prices overnight.

OPEC heads to Vienna hoping for united front

CAIRO - Flash back to December 17 when OPEC met in Algeria and announced a record 2.2 million barrel per day production cut. The global economy was in shambles, oil demand was in free fall, the price per barrel had just dipped into the $30s and oil-producing states were complaining about plummeting oil prices.

Three months later, shambles is perhaps too soft a term for the current economic situation. Oil demand is still faltering, and members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries are headed for their next meeting Sunday in Austria still complaining about the price of crude, raising the question: What is new?

U.S. energy secy worried OPEC may hurt the economy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said on Wednesday he will speak to OPEC ministers before their meeting this weekend and warn them as they consider another oil production cut that high crude prices will harm the fragile world economy.

Triple whammy 'threatens UK E&P'

Low oil prices, high costs and scarce bank lending are seriously affecting oil exploration in the UK North Sea, Steve Jenkins, the chairman of the Oil & Gas Independents' Association (OGIA) told a parliamentary select committee today.

Jenkins said current low oil prices made exploring for more oil in parts of the UK Continental Shelf unattractive, particularly with credit for new projects hard to come by.

"The breakeven in some fields is $40 a barrel ... It's not economic to develop," Reuters quoted him telling the committee.

Pemex Awards $687 Million Contract to Schlumberger

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleos Mexicanos, the state- owned oil company, awarded a $687 million contract to a unit of Schlumberger Ltd. to drill 500 wells at the onshore Chicontepec field in Mexico as it seeks to boost slowing production.

Crude oil reserve base likely in Gansu

China may build a strategic crude oil reserve in the northwestern Gansu province as part of the country's plan to add eight new oil stockpiles by 2011, said a local official.

Analysis: Russia and Iran may trade oil

The seismic cracks produced in the Western economic structures amid the greatest recession since the Great Depression are reverberating far beyond the major financial centers of Wall Street and the City of London as nations consider how to protect their economies from further contraction. New ideas and concepts are receiving a far more sympathetic hearing as countries scramble to halt their economies' decline.

Oil company re-lets push Persian Gulf-East below w40

The rush of re-let vessels from oil companies accompanied by a dip in demand for crude have pushed the Worldscale rate for a Persian Gulf-Far East voyage on double-hulled very large crude carriers below the key 40-point level, shipping sources said Thursday.

PetroChina Dalian Refinery Exports First RON 97 Gasoline Cargo

(Bloomberg) -- PetroChina Co.’s biggest refinery, in northern China’s Dalian city, exported RON 97 gasoline for the first time after domestic consumption dropped.

The plant shipped 34,000 metric tons, or one cargo, of RON 97 unleaded gasoline to Singapore this month, parent China National Petroleum Corp. said in a statement on its Web site today. The fuel’s quality was adjusted to meet overseas requirements, it said.

The oil cycle: The wheels are turning again

The global oil market is a beast. According to the International Energy Agency, demand for oil stands at about 85 million barrels per day. Driven by high demand growth, there is a fear of imminent shortage — that the world will begin to run out of oil.

Such a shortage could be amplified by the substantial and growing demand from the two Asian giants, China and India.

But there is a contrary view: Oil could actually rise faster than it falls over the next decade.

Oil Output Capacity to Fall in Short Term: Expert

DUBAI – Oil output capacity will likely decrease worldwide over the next few years as producers curtail their investments in response to lower crude prices, a regional energy specialist said on Wednesday.

Any shrinkage in production capacity could nudge oil prices higher. Adil Toubia, a senior partner in Energy Capital Group, said he could foresee an increase in prices to between $55 and $60 a barrel by the end of this year.

Babcock Infrastructure Resumes Queensland Coal-Vessel Loading

(Bloomberg) -- Babcock & Brown Infrastructure Group, owner of Australia’s second-biggest coal-export terminal, resumed loading ships today at the Dalrymple Bay port in Queensland after a stoppage caused by a tropical cyclone.

“The first vessel has berthed this morning, with the second about to berth, so we are back to loading ships,” Greg Smith, general manager of operations at the unit of Babcock Infrastructure that owns the port, said today by e-mail. Rail deliveries of the coal to the port, south of Mackay, remain disrupted after a train accident earlier in the week.

Foreign minister urges international co-operation in changing Arctic

WHITEHORSE — Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon says Canada will staunchly defend its sovereignty over Arctic lands and waters but urges international co-operation to deal with changes being brought by global warming.

5,000 oil wells face closure

Almost 5,000 platform wells and subsea wells in the North Sea will have to be decommissioned, most of them over the next 15 years, UK Oil & Gas said.

A report commissioned by the industry body estimated there would be a £15bn market for the services needed to "abandon" 3,725 platform wells and 910 subsea wells.

Gas company pursues eminent domain for pipeline

WEST WHITELAND — Williams Transco, the natural gas giant who has a project to replace a seven-mile section of their pipeline in the county, has started condemnation proceedings against 36 property owners who have not accepted offers made for their land.

Oilsands companies after human waste dumped in river

CALGARY — Oilsands giant Suncor Energy and two of its contractors will appear in court next month to face accusations of dumping improperly treated human waste in the Athabasca River and falsifying reports

Experts: Force big oil firms produce biofuel

MALAYSIA must force major oil firms to produce biofuel if the once-vaunted biodiesel industry is to have any future, industry experts told a conference today.

Interior Department Announces New Focus on Global Warming & Renewable Energy

Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar today announced that the agency will increasingly focus on advancing clean, renewable energy and addressing global warming. Secretary Salazar announced the formation of an energy and climate change task force to advance the Interior Department’s renewable energy agenda.

Reinventing Collapse (audio)

Dmitry Orlov says that the US should be looking to its old enemy - the Soviet Union for lessons on how to deal with the global financial crisis. He says the coming upheaval presents a plethora of opportunities for reinvention - if it's handled right.

Suburbia R.I.P.

The downturn has accomplished what a generation of designers and planners could not: it has turned back the tide of suburban sprawl. In the wake of the foreclosure crisis many new subdivisions are left half built and more established suburbs face abandonment. Cul-de-sac neighborhoods once filled with the sound of backyard barbecues and playing children are falling silent. Communities like Elk Grove, Calif., and Windy Ridge, N.C., are slowly turning into ghost towns with overgrown lawns, vacant strip malls and squatters camping in empty homes. In Cleveland alone, one of every 13 houses is now vacant, according to an article published Sunday in The New York Times magazine.

The demand for suburban homes may never recover, given the long-term prospects of energy costs for commuting and heating, and the prohibitive inefficiencies of low-density construction. The whole suburban idea was founded on disposable spending and the promise of cheap gas. Without them, it may wither. A study by the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech predicts that by 2025 there will be as many as 22 million unwanted large-lot homes in suburban areas.

Carbon tax only way to keep planet cool: Hansen

COPENHAGEN (AFP) — Greenhouse gas emissions must be cut more quickly and deeply than thought only two years ago to avoid dire consequences, and a straight-up carbon tax is the only realistic way to do it, top climate scientist James Hansen said in an interview.

If we can't stop change, we must adapt

Today's meeting of climate change scientists in Copenhagen shows that mitigation alone is not the answer.

Senator says Obama driven on climate

WASHINGTON (AFP) – One of the US Senate's top campaigners against global warming on Wednesday sought to ease international concerns, vowing President Barack Obama was committed to action on climate change.

Bush May Have Set Back 'Clean Coal' Efforts by 10 Years, Report Says

The Bush administration's decision to halt production of an experimental power plant that would capture and store carbon dioxide emissions underground may have set back "clean coal" technology in the United States by as much as a decade, according to a congressional report released at a hearing yesterday.

California panel urges 'immediate action' to protect from rising sea levels

Global warming is projected to cause ocean levels to rise 55 inches or more by the end of the century. Report recommends phased abandonment of coastal areas and moving state infrastructure inland.

California Sea-Level Rise May Threaten $100 Billion of Property

(Bloomberg) -- The California dream, which has led 30 million people to make their homes near its 2,000 miles of coastline, may sour as global warming triggers rising sea levels during coming decades.

A gain of 1.4 meters (5 feet) possible by the end of the century might flood almost $100 billion worth of property, from luxury homes to 330 hazardous-waste sites, the Pacific Institute estimated in new research done with state energy officials. The San Francisco Bay area would be most affected, the report said.

Science Back Into EPA Assessment of Climate Change Threat

U.S. EPA has added dozens of scientific accounts about global warming threats to a key document that is expected to help drive federal regulations for curbing U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases, according to an agency draft [PDF] obtained by Greenwire.

Twenty-eight EPA scientists, engineers and other career employees are now working on a nearly 2-year-old "technical support document" that synthesizes climate research on everything from melting sea ice to forest fires and air pollution.

When the ice melts, it is too late

On the day-to-day timescale that humans normally deal with, climate change appears to be a slow process that takes place over decades and centuries. This generates a common misconception: if things get really bad, we can quickly change our behaviour and set it all right again.

This is a fallacy, rather like the idea that we can alter the course of a supertanker minutes before it collides with an iceberg. The climate responds slowly because it has an in-built resistance to change – which is why 200 years of vast fossil-fuel emissions have taken so long to produce an effect, and why any delay now in curbing carbon dioxide emissions will only store up bigger problems for the future.

Regarding the toplink: "Suburbia R.I.P."
"A study by the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech predicts that by 2025 there will be as many as 22 million unwanted large-lot homes in suburban areas."
Makes one wonder what percentage will be carefully dismantled, then recycled to support Kunstlerization, and what percentage will just be burned down by rioting, or those seeking firewood for heat. There are also a lot of 'open' areas of suburban parks & golf courses, but I think that acreage total may be dwarfed by the abandoned 'closed' acres of paved over strip malls, big-box stores, industrial sites, land devoted to auto movement,etc.

Let's hope the postPeak youngsters will prefer using sledgehammers to break reinforced concrete all day instead of busting heads wide open.

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

This article as well as the Discover Magazine article up top "The Earth’s Moment, Unveiled" and the Thomas Friedman editorial in the New York Times referred to in that article, The Inflection Is Near? all tell us the idea that we may have reached TEOTWAWKI has reached the mainstream media. That is, the belief that we will never recover from the current crisis is spreading. We are seeing articles in the MSM every day that confirms this.

And this idea is not reported in a cynical sarcastic way, it is reported with deep seriousness and concern. I don't know whether to celebrate or cry.

Yes. That is what struck me as well. The content of the articles themselves would not be particularly noteworthy if published at Culture Change or the Post Carbon Institute. But at the NY Times and Discover Magazine...yikes.

I thought "The Earth's Moment, Unveiled" was superb.

It looks as though the second wave of post-modernism is upon us. The first wave of post-modernist disillusionment came during the first half of the 20th century when people woke up to the fact that science could be used by people of malevolent intentions to create killing machines--machines that could kill on a scale unimaginable in previous, less technologically advanced times.

Now comes the second wave, when science was applied by people of good intentions, but also with outcomes that are proving to be less than benign. As Frank points out, there were "unintended" consequences:

In just 100 years, our burgeoning scientific capacity let us burn through 100 million years of stored solar energy in the form of fossil fuels. Now, it seems, the unintended consequences of all that science and its daughter technologies are snapping back on us. What do we do now? What can we do?

I've too also wondered, as Frank does, why the "traditional science v. religion debate has so little to say to our current situation."

I agree completely with Frank that science is a wonderful tool to achieving certain ends, but it has proven a miserable failure in answering the question as to what those ends should be:

We should not just expect science to provide answers to the mess we are in. There will have to be more to it than that, as we still have to decide which science to deploy and then, harder still, find the collective strength—the mythologies of urgency and action—to implement the change.

So do we fall back on pre-modern methods for determining those ends: religion, mythology and superstition?

Do we try to make further advancements in science so that it will reveal what ends we ought to pursue? The great risk here is that, as we learned from Hitler's penchant for pseudoscience, science is just as corruptible as religion.

Could some hybrid of religion and science offer the best way forward?

Or is there some other way on the horizon that we haven't even yet imagined?

So do we fall back on pre-modern methods for determining those ends: religion, mythology and superstition?

It's already happening.

Attend any "organics" fair and snoop around. A movement I once had hope for (as one concerned about soil conservation, food independence and localization) is occupied by advocates of anti-science fads like homeopathy, sympathetic magic, anti-genetics/anti-biotech crusades, Old-Testament-sounding food prohibitions, the whole host of dubious beliefs.

It simply breaks my heart.

Science has given us many advances. It has also given us some un-mitigated disasters. To treat things like genetics with caution is merely prudence as nature has shown that she usually has a response to our endeavours in these areas.

It is also worth noting that science only reflects our view of what is truth at the moment and current views on the way things work would have been regarded as superstition in earlier times. It is also probable that current scientific view will be overtaken at some point by new scientific discoveries which will make our beliefs in what is absolute redundant. If you put these views forward now they likewise would be viewed as superstition.

So part of what "is" will reside in current scientific belief but, past experience has shown us, probably not all.

It is also worth noting that science only reflects our view of what is truth at the moment and current views on the way things work would have been regarded as superstition in earlier times. It is also probable that current scientific view will be overtaken at some point by new scientific discoveries which will make our beliefs in what is absolute redundant.

Montagu, science has made many mistakes in the past when our powers of observation were dearly limited and religion dictated what science could say. But scientific knowledge is accumulative! The laws of physics like the laws of motion and thermodynamics will not be overturned. Newton's laws were not overturned by Einstein, they were supplemented. At relative speeds things change but Newton's laws of physics still hold at ordinary speeds.

To imply that today’s laws of science will someday be regarded as superstition is just silly. I have heard such stories form creationists for decades. Like this one; "Someday science will discover that it's a young earth after all. After all, science once thought the sun rotated around the earth and they were wrong then, why can't they be wrong now?



My post did not imply that the future would regard our current scientific viewpoint as superstition but that had that viewpoint been aired in some earlier centuries that it would have been seen as such (or possibly as nonsense). This was to make the point that despite the advances that have been made we do not know everything and in some areas like genetics there may be more gaps than knowledge.

The scientific research that is going on all the time does change scientific opinion often in very small deltas. I agree that fundamental laws like those of Newton are rarely revised let alone seriously challenged. The point I was making was that parts of the whole body are constantly being revised and previously accepted truths being challenged.


I can't believe you haven't read Stephen Jay Gould's The Mismeasure of Man. There he persuasively makes the case that science is a "socially embedded activity." You surely know as well as anyone here that the lines of inquiry we choose to pursue, assumptions we make when framing our research questions, and our interpretation of our results all are influenced by social values and beliefs.


and Gould's points there have been made many times by many people

the problem with them is that they're really a side conversation - sure social values and beliefs have strong impacts on such things as interpretations of data, emphasis on certain lines of pursuit, and choices of fields of study

but the core of it doesn't change that the scientific method builds a cumulative body of knowledge... as the tides of societal priority shift so do the favoured avenues of inquiry and therefore different parts of the body are fleshed out to varying degrees... and also interpretations that work towards the biases, prejudices and interests of dominant non-scientific influencers tend to get far more play - but that isn't science that's the breakdown of the scientific method that happens at the interface of science and society

and that interface is there because of the age old power struggle between the stable attractor of dogmatic faith (and the authority structures that shelter behind it) and the application of rational thought to the problems of society, particularly when those problems are at their root caused by the traditions and dogma itself

and that interface is there because of the age old power struggle between the stable attractor of dogmatic faith (and the authority structures that shelter behind it) and the application of rational thought to the problems of society, particularly when those problems are at their root caused by the traditions and dogma itself

Cool, and here I thought the "age of reason" had come to an end with the rise of the romanticists some 200 years ago. ;-)

only for some

Some things get kinda conveniently forgotten. Like the Phlogiston theory e.g. .....

Wonder how sure our ancestors were of their Solid Views when they expressed themselves on their equivalent TPD, The Phlogiston Drum ?

I don't think the dividing line is 'whether it's Science or Spirituality based' ..

We have rash and unthoughful people across the spectrum of both.. There are people who admire and hope to achieve scientific esteem who are still proposing what amounts to 'Perpetual Motion Machine' schemes. That is a Superstition about 'Free Energy' if anything is.. but it's all over the place.

We have people who blame everything on Metal (and Disco) .. and others who blame everything on "GOD" thinking..

All the Generalizations are Wrong.

Bob, generalist.

This is a really tough call. The whole "new age" movement that came out of the tatters of the sixties movements has always been limited by it's "faith through (psuedo-)science" approach.

But at the same time, some of these "fads" are really centuries old and based in strong empirical systems. They get caught up by people with a strong need for "mysticism" and get perverted, at least in their popular presentation.

On the other hand, if you seek to measure the truth value of any of these "alternatives" by applying the goals and assumptions of "science," you are going to come away dissatisfied. What you have to recognize is that the reason many people are looking to these non-science ways of viewing the world is because science has failed to provide them with a way of making sense of their lives.

They aren't anti-science because they are idiots - the problem lies in science, not in those people. You may not agree - science may provide sufficient meaning for you. But to think that any one way of seeing the world will be sufficient for everyone is to misunderstand and underestimate humanity.

shaman, jokuhl,

Thanks for your thoughtful responses.

I've noticed that when the detractors of religion seek to prove their point, out of the hat come the most egregious examples of bad religion. For the anti-science crowd it's just the opposite, and out of the hat pop the worst examples of bad science. The deliberate creation of these distortions, however, leads one to believe that neither of these extremes is really interested in finding the truth.

P.S. shaman, make sure and not miss Yves' post last night on the Citi 2-month earnings release you brought up yesterday: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2009/03/belated-comment-on-citis-lehman-e...

"..that neither of these extremes is really interested in finding the truth. "

That's a key idea, and yet still frustratingly dependent upon some very sticky definitions. When we try to pin our thinking onto an 'ideology', be it from the age of 'Reason' or otherwise, it can be extremely threatening to our sense of control to have to consider ideas which contradict the precepts of a School of Thought. Be it 'Free Trade', 'Newtonian Physics', 'Liberation Theology' or 'Democratic Capitalism' ..

'The eternal TAO cannot be spoken, and that which can be spoken is not the eternal TAO.' All of our definitions and attempts to contain the world in our terms are subject to our limited views and other mortal senses, and to our biased desires. I think this is why some religions say their GOD's name is unspeakable, and if one were to take Him in at one sight would be to burst into flames. It's not to prove some divine individual exists, but to say that anything that can encompass the knowledge of everything (omni-science?) is far beyond our human capacity, and we must have the humility to know we'll never know it all. Not that it's wrong to study and learn.. just to have a realistic and perhaps flexible goal at the end of it all..

Ron said science is accumulative.. well sure.. but we're also forgetful and sometimes spiteful.. so all the growing knowledge doesn't exactly get perfectly applied to a single-unified plan. It seems likely that it's impossible to construct a perfect unity of all our knowledge, as the contradictions and the paradoxes would never allow all the pieces we devised to fit together..

42. What was the question again?

I think it is as simple as science adequately answering "how" but not "why", and for many the answer "no reason" isn't good enough for the latter.

When you have small children and they want to understand how something works, they say "show me" or "do it". This starts a year or two before the inevitable "why", which ushers in the beginning of understanding of cause and effect. "Why" gets harder to answer year after year and for the hard issues tears are involved....and eventually people make their own journey to answer that question for themselves.

Some of us are driven by a desire to understand and improve the depth of "how". That's why I'm an engineer. Others get stuck on "why" and turn to faith, philosophy, or economics (sorry, couldn't resist). I'm sure this view is over-simplified, but it seems to work for my simple life.

No need to excuse your thoughts for "simplicity" - i didn't see them that way at all.

And I think you are absolutely correct to be looking at the different roles that these "though systems" play in our lives.

One of the shortcomings of our contemporary society is that it has expected science to answer your "why" questions. This is not a role that science asked for, nor is it really equipped to deal with those questions.

Isn't science just the knowledge? It's also knowledge which is subject to change.
Engineering (and politics) is the bad boy in the picture. How the knowledge is applied has nothing to do with how the knowledge was obtained.

Astronomy, chemistry, geology, biology, biochemistry, physics and so on, provide knowledge for governments, organizations and engineers to exploit.

Morally there are limits as to how knowledge should be obtained. The moral limits for it's interpretation and application is much more clouded.

They aren't anti-science because they are idiots - the problem lies in science, not in those people. You may not agree - science may provide sufficient meaning for you. But to think that any one way of seeing the world will be sufficient for everyone is to misunderstand and underestimate humanity.

I think it is not the failing of science per se, but of science education. Most kids are fascinated by science, but in the process of growing up they have unhappy educational experiences with the maths and science (which can't really be separated), and turn elsewhere. Part of the attraction for the more mystical explainations is a desire to stickit to those who gave them those bad experiences, and to those few who thrive in the "science" environment.

Yes, in rereading my comment I probably should have said something along the lines of "the problem lies in science being unable to fulfill that role of providing meaning in peoples lives"

I'm not sure the problem is in science education - although certainly science education would suffer from the same concern. I think the real problem is that science has been elevated in our society to a position it is not well suited for. The simple religion versus science assumption is an example of it. There is no innate contradiction between the two, but our society seems to insist that it's one or the other.

I'm not going to touch why people pursue mysticism. I don't understand it, just acknowledge it. In my own personal thought life I have come to grips with our inability to know. But why someone would need to create some notion of secret or hidden knowledge that "explains it all" - I just don't get it.

Yes, in rereading my comment I probably should have said something along the lines of "the problem lies in science being unable to fulfill that role of providing meaning in peoples lives"

Science was never meant to answer this non-empirical question. The failure is not one of science but of misguided expectations.

I thought that's what I was saying.


i think that the scientific method provides you with a framework to think through problems - that's all philosophy is

the problem comes when one tries to overlap non-scientific systems - it's the interface between the two that's the problem

if you want to try to square the best way to do things in the world from a scientific perspective with sticking by someone's interpretation of a religious text - science is going to let you down

but you can use the same thought processes you use for scientific inquiry to think through non-empirical questions - you cannot take the scientific step of making falsifiable predictions in many cases - but that's what separates philosophy from science... but it really isn't that challenging to come up with a solid moral grounding by actually thinking things through from first principle rather than just taking what you've been told by some unelected authority figure based on what he/she tells you is the accepted interpretation of a religious text

I'm sorry, but that's a load of ... garbage.

The "scientific method" is NOT a framework for thinking through problems, it is a framework for creating falsifiable empirical observations. You recognize that in your last paragraph, but by not recognizing it in your first, you make the same mistake that any "new age" type would.

Of course, the whole notion of "science" is now well beyond just the scientific method. It often is short hand for (high) technology, sometimes for logic or reason, sometimes for anything that is beyond the average person's ken. And therein lies the problem.

As for the challenge of coming up with first principles, you might want to check in with Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead. They didn't go after anything so lofty as "moral grounding" - they just wanted to demonstrate that 1+1=2 and figured the rest of all mathematics would flow from that. A few thousand pages later and neither was really satisfied with what they'd done. And if you follow Husserl, even our Geometry is based on some "unelected authority figure[s]"

no - you're working backwards... and yeah - i did History & Philosophy of Science too (gotta love Leeds) so you can throw out this stuff but it doesn't make you right

that Popperian falsifiability framework is a later addition and not where science started nor from where it evolved - you cannot impose early 20th century thinking on the history of science (however good that work is, and I am a big fan of Popper)

the early scientists were philosophers who honed in on tighter rules frameworks over time as they tried to nail down certain specific lines of inquiry

as to the Russell reference you are confusing mathematics with science - but on that topic, as to Geometry/Husserl you are clearly far from the latest thinking on geometry (though you kind of re-inforce my point that science moves on to examine underlying assumptions that have been taken for granted then find ways to generalize the theory without such assumptions)

I'm working backward? I was using your words. I was simply pointing out that you had uncritically conflated "scientific method" with "science."

The Russell reference had to do with your assertion of the ease of creating "first principles" not science, per se.

As as for Husserl not being "the latest thinking on geometry" - he was never the latest thinking on geometry. And such an assertion is non-sensical anyway - the assumption being that the latest is always the correct one. Nor am I really concerned with being up on the "latest" thinking. Academia is rife with fads, doesn't make them all the greatest thing (consider behavioralism today, it was once all the rage). (But indeed, it demonstrates nothing about science examining its own assumptions because, as you say, your confusing mathematics with science and it's not like Husserl's notions are even known by most mathematicians, much less accepted.)

anti-genetics/anti-biotech crusades,

Please - post a defense of GMO from Monsanto. Come on. Show your broken heart.

Old-Testament-sounding food prohibitions

Just wait - the MSRA from pigs will keep that coming back up.

Superstition is the kind of outgrowth you get when Religion is expected to work like science, and provide concrete and material answers (..and predictions)[EDIT]

I suspect that a long conversation with the Dalai Lama would not leave most people here thinking they had just endured the rantings of a deluded and fantasy-addicted individual. There are people in every spiritual discipline who are serious and thoughtful.. and we do ourselves a great disservice to look only at the ravings on the fringes to understand what this part of human experience amounts to.

Mythology and Fiction, like Religion, are in my mind the earliest forms of Psychology, of understanding the very complex way that personalities form and interact and experience the perrenial challenges of life.. so in answer to your question, I would say that Yes, any number of hybrids of religion and science can help enlighten us as to 'What's actually happening here?' 'What can/should we do about it?' 'What do we really need?'

Taking some time to get quiet, think deeply, and look to our history ( 're + ligio' means 'Linking Back'), and calm our fears .. these are disciplines we could do very well to learn better right now. Unless losing our heads in frenzy sounds more productive. Wouldn't help my daughter or wife much if I chose that helpless path.


The conference included presentations and round-table discussions by leading neuroscientists, contemplatives and Buddhist authors and experts, who demonstrated the positive effects of mindfulness meditation on mental and physical health. Their evidence and data were based on years of clinical trials, neuroscientific studies and research on the convergence between scientific and spiritual practices.

First of all, there is the so- called 'Great Awakening' of New York Times columnist Tom Friedman:

A number of discussions after my book talks centered on the need to find a broader context for science, one that can assist in marshaling our collective will to deal with the coming challenges. In the midst of these musings came Thomas Friedman’s recent column in the New York Times. Friedman surveys the landscape of economic freefall and asks if, perhaps, this is not simply another cycle:

“We created a way of raising standards of living that we can’t possibly pass on to our children,” said Joe Romm, a physicist and climate expert who writes the indispensable blog climateprogress.org. We have been getting rich by depleting all our natural stocks — water, hydrocarbons, forests, rivers, fish and arable land — and not by generating renewable flows.


It is hard to divine the meaning in Mr. Friedman's remarks. He represents the wing of the Establishment that solves all problems by sending in a Brigade or two.

Tom 'Meet Me In Baghdad' Friedman.

Everything he remarks about a needed world- wide 'Green Reboot' is simply greenwash. The establishment wants to put a 'We Recycle' sticker on all of its products. Now, nobody wants - or can afford - to buy the products.

Here, science has no other master but the government.

There is a geopolitical undertow to this shift, away from 'Democracy in the marketplace as a substitute for real democracy'. Unlike many optimists, the outcome of this shift is not likely to be localism writ large but nation- states that are more or less indistinguishable from what we see today. The difference is that these state are likely to be far more autocratic, with the concentration of (real) wealth supporting the centralization of 'security apparatus'; internment camps, secret police, informants, and various forms of thought/expression control and cencorship.

The place to watch this unfold is in China, where the money- democracy substitution has been taking place in plain sight, and where the stakes are highest. Here, the legacy of authoritarianism is millennial and the capitalization potential is still high. Nevertheless, with 'only' 15 million security personnel to rein in 1.3 billion citizens, the numbers suggest that the inevitable crash of the capital structure will result in a level of unparalleled savagery as the out- manned government ratchets upward the level of violence seeking to maintain control over its inhabitants. Obviously, under this circumstance China's wealth will vanish, that wealth that has survived capital flight, speculative attacks on its currency, its wasting on grandiose 'recovery' schemes and foreign adventures to 'unify the people'.

The outcome of this would leave a China that is much poorer, probably severely depopulated, and securely under the thumb of a tyrannical central authority that will stop at literally nothing to maintain its hegemony/patrimony. Similar authoritarian systems will likely arise/remain in Russia and the US. The people will toil as peasants, but any surplus will belong to the State and will be directed toward the police who will maintain the status quo.

As for the origin of these governments, the historical model is the populists, demagogues, radicals, military officers or soldiers, often supported by religion and business interests desiring to reclaim real or perceived status within the socio- economic order. Examples such as Benito Mussolini, Hitler, Huey Long, Fidel Castro, Lenin, Franco, Mao, Marcos, Sukarno, Juan Peron ... the list is very long and there is never a shortage of candidates. Dictatorship is the most enduring attempt at government and hereditary monarchy is the longest- lived.

Tom Friedman has spent the past several years extolling the wondrous virtues of East Asia's airport terminals without much examination of the mailed fists concealed within the velvet gloves of these governments. He should perhaps pay respects to the longest running government in the fractious Middle East; the Saudi monarchy. That, not permaculture is our future.

The king is dead, long live the king!

It's awfully nice for Friedman to realize, in 2009, that something significant happened in 2008. I have no idea why people go to the likes of Friedman to tell them how things will change in the future. He only ever writes about what happened in the past. He has no insight into what comes next and never has.

Niebuhr in his prophetic book first published in 1952 said
"The American business community has frequently made the silly charge that Marxists invented the the class conflict and even the class structure. The charge is even more absurd since it is quite probable that the American class structure will become more fixed as the nation moves toward the final limits of an expanding economy." The Irony of American History pg 102.

Could he have been one of the first to say infinite growth is not possible on a finite planet some 20 years before the Club of Rome. Could peak oil be the straw that breaks the back of the illusion of democracy in America and entrenches a wealthy ruling class? Periodic recessions allow a wealthy few who can acquire productive assets from the bankrupt for pennies on the dollar. For instance Valero recently purchased a bankrupt ethanol producer which will allow it to buy the mandated fuel additive at a discount giving them an advantage over the competition. Purchases like these tend to concentrate economic power even more. The financial collapse of newspapers concentrates the dissemination of political opinions in the hands of fewer people. Their support of GOP senators allows them to block progressive policies from coming into reality. This only feeds cynicism among the working poor and even middle class which in turn leads to apathy and a failure to participate in elections. This leads the GOP to regain control of local and state governments and eventually could lead to a new constitution which favors one dollar for one vote. Financial control of churches which give their blessing to those God has favored with wealth and says your poverty is due to sinful choices leads to even more political apathy. Why vote if your only choices are rich white men or their minions? The feudal classes the Europeans threw out in the 20th century find fertile soil in the 21st century American continent.

Science started out as natural philosophy right? Just as an aside, I have a special interest here - one of the more prominent Old Boys from my school was the philosopher William Whewell who first coined the term scientist (well, I always find that interesting if no-one else does).

The point is that science is/was a branch of philosophy - which is itself just the collection of schools of thought by intellectuals who figure that society can be made a better place through the application of rational thought rather than accepting religious dogma.

The problem is that whenever philosophy pushes back too hard against religious and political forces (who in the early days of science were even more closely related than they are today) intellectuals tend to run the risk of getting their heads lopped off. Indeed during the enlightenment and going forwards scientists deliberately molded their approach to focus purely on the natural world and predictable laws thereof, screening off that which could run afoul of religious and political authorities so far as was possible.

Philosophy as a whole has lots to say about what the applications of science should be and what the right/wrong things to do in society might be. However philosophy, particularly in the Anglo-American educational tradition, is marginalized outside of the sciences - particularly in America where it runs slap bang into religious orthodoxy. Unfortunately as a society we have strong anti-intellectual traditions and prefer to avoid philosophers and scientists being placed in positions of actually thinking through problems and implementing solutions outside of very narrow domains. Instead the wonders of science tend to be managed and implemented by zealots, bigots and short-minded political hacks.

Beautifully articulated. Never truer words written.

You can think of science as consisting of two parts. The first is the philosophy of science, which is simply a system of ipistemology designed to tease out the truth of the natural world. What most novies think of as science, is the body of knowledge that was generated by hundreds of years of effort using that epistemology. Also, technology is often confused with science, as scientific knowledge was very useful in generating technology.

Science may not intrincically be the enemy of religion, but it does tend to invalidate certain cherished concepts that many religions take as god given. A specific religion can only survive so many of these modern revisions, before large numbers of people start to believe that it was not divinely dictated, but instead a product of unquided human thought. And everyone knows that human thought is imperfect and error prone.

I think I'm following you here. And if I am I would add that the real "trouble" for science in the modern world (by trouble, I mean it's perceived failures by large numbers of people) isn't so much a result of its epistemology (which really isn't all that different than some of the epistemologies that come of the Indian subcontinent), but the result of the presumed ontology - in other words, the belief in a correspondence theory of truth.

Real science says, if you'll excuse the gross simplification, "the observed phenomenon happens this way and this can be demonstrated again and again." The public persona of science says "the observed phenomenon happens this way because the universe is this way."

the point that was made upthread to which these responses came was that old saw that science is only any good for certain questions and cannot answer others... it's a tired argument i think - it trails towards a religious conclusion without ever subjecting religious nonsense to the same intellectually rigorous analysis

and the point i made in a couple of responses is that science is one part of philosophy but that philosophical inquiry of a skeptical scientific sort is far more effective at answering such questions than religious dogma ever can be

however the problem - the perceptive problem is that to understand science you actually have to do some serious thinking and that in reality most folks are just too (and i don't know which it is) intellectually lazy or lacking in critical thinking skills to do the thinking for themselves... and so fall back on the rather child-like faith in promises and bargaining that the dogma tends to throw out there

-- do X because you get reward Y

and yes lots of people can talk for hours about matters of theology but eloquence doesn't equal solid reasoning

I really think you are missing the point. At issue is not some pristine definition of what science is, much less a definition acceptable to ResponsibleAccountable.

The issue is the separation between what scientists through their activities in science can tell us about the world and what those "folks" you denigrate as "child-like" believe that science can tell them about the world.

For whatever reason (and we can hypothesize lots of them) people seem to need explanations of why we are here. Perhaps it is not "science's" fault nor the fault of those that participate in that endeavor, but the enterprise has been oversold to the point that most "folk" expect science to provide that explanation. It can not do that. That is the reason that so many seem to feel that science has "failed."

they need explanations for why they are here largely because they're brought up in cultures where the dominant forces tell them such questions are the most important

There is,however, a clear dividing line within the mainstream media, if the business sector of that media is considered mainstream. Breathless reporting of each minute event indicating a possible "inflection point" in the market or the economy is based on the premise that this downturn is just temporary like all downturns and the only thing the investor needs to worry about is whether he/she is back in at or near the bottom.

The latest augur reported today is that retail sales are not down as much as predicted and, therefore, we may have reached stabilization in the retail sector. Putting aside whether our economy can subsist on retail sales that ultimately trace their way back to China, the main stream does not have a clue with respect to the megatrends that continue to come our way, threatening our very existence and those of our fellow creatures.

It is the day to day reporting that informs the public and that daily reporting has not changed at all with respect to the dominant, informing paradigm.

The challenge, in any event, is to construct a livable, reasonably happy society out of this mess that does not cause irrevocable damage to the planet and our local communities, both economic and ecological.

This morning's NPR News mentioned that Realty Track (?spelling?) noted an increase in foreclosures last month... EXCEPT THAT THE (unexpected) increase wasn't loan-driven.... We're now seeing unemployment driven foreclosures in significant numbers.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, some Nobel Prize Economist said that nothing is going to get better until the mortgage situation is fixed. I have a hammer and some 2-inch nails if anyone needs me to fix anything; otherwise, good luck.

Nobody's commented on this post yet, But I'm going on record that I think unemployment-based foreclosures are going to produce worse effects than what we're seeing with these bad-loan foreclosures.

(Darn you Apollo, you can't pick on Cassandra of Troy anymore, so now you've got them ignoring me.)

Some more thoughts on this: 2025-2009 = 16 years to recycle 22 million homes [although I think this may be 50% too low]. So let's say 0bama quickly comes to his senses, and we start moving to full-on Kunstlerization.

Would Las Vegas be a logical place to start? I have no idea, but let's say the Vegas postpeak goal is only 50,000 people total due to reduced water availability, but a huge areal ramp up of solar PV & solar-thermal power generation PV, with the people tending to this infrastructure by washing and waxing the panels and reflectors, plus other maintenance so electricity can be exported to Cascadia and other areas.

You could probably house this many people in just a few hotel skyscrapers. This would allow all the other Vegas housing and buildings to be recycled, then sent elsewhere. If all the current unemployed nationwide, and those soon-to-be-unemployed nationwide were sent to Vegas: could they disassemble this town in just a few years, build out the RR to move these recycled goods, plus build out the solar infrastructure?

Next, these people could move on the Phoenix,AZ, or in Cali: Palm Springs, or Riverside, etc, to rinse and repeat the process. Atlanta, Georgia, next? I would imagine the recycling of the fancy kitchen granite countertops alone from these areas would remake all the kitchens in the rundown areas of Detroit plus Cleveland that need Kunstlerization.

If Southwestern water shortages become constant: we need to have a mass-migration from the Southwest to Cascadia, the Great Lakes Area, and other Northern areas to reduce machete' moshpits.

I guess I'm surprised that we haven't seen more arsons so far. The temptation has got to be there for a lot of people: settle their mortgage with no hit to their credit, and maybe even walk away with some money. Maybe less of a hit to their neighbor's property values, too. Of course, getting caught is a "Go Directly to Jail" card. Still, I suppose some people would consider it worth the risk if they are stupid and desparate enough.

If enough people get angry enough at the banksters, I suppose that all of those vacant REO properties would be tempting targets, too.

Of course, if we do see a wave of arsons, then the next shoe to drop after that would be a massive increase in property insurance premiums; which, of course, would drive even more people out of their homes.

I am also surprised at the lack of arson. I predicted a huge rise in this along with massive worker's comp cases in anticipation of lay offs

When I was a youth there was a fellow named Benny the Torch. He specialized in ' inventory reduction'. Quite successful and always busy. He retired to Florida years ago.

I wonder if he is giving seminars at this time. Should be a growth industry.

PC term for arson - "friction fire", where the insurance policy rubbed against the mortgage for too long.

Working in auto finance, you see cases of people's cars being "stolen" and then set ablaze when troubling times go up. The theory is that the criminal who stole the vehicle to perform crimes lights the car on fire to eliminate evidence... The reality is, the car is set on fire the same day or the day after it is stolen, showing that it likely was NOT used in any crimes, but was merely just set ablaze. Those people usually hire somebody to do it while they're at work.. They give the keys to the people, etc.... They either still get stuck with the loan, or go to jail.

Why would they be caught, unless they were unlucky or incompetent?

Well, usually people think they are clever, but when the insurance company notes certain things, then says to you, "We know you did it. You can plead guilty and pay for the balance of the loan yourself and pay some fines... OR you can do jail time.." You can guess which one they pick. Unless an arson plan on a vehicle is well-executed, the insurance company is going to figure it out pretty quickly. If you're good enough to figure out how to arson your own vehicle without being caught, then you probably aren't in that situation to begin with, or you find a different method of eliminating the vehicle. (Crashing into trees works.)

Re: Migration

With all due respect, the residents of the Great Lakes region are hardly going to welcome a mass migration from the SW and SE portions of the country.

Those people made their beds, and now they must be prepared to lie in them.

There may be exceptions to this, such as the rust belt cities with >50% housing vacancies. Some of these cities are literally giving away there housing stock to any and all takers; I don't think they would discriminate against former desert dwellers.

c.f. http://shoutyoungstown.blogspot.com/

I read in the paper this week that the MEDIAN home price in Detroit was $7500!!?!?!
http://www.usnews.com/blogs/the-home-front/2009/03/02/median-home-price-... ...I could see this leading to some migration back to the slush & rust belt.

Sure, if you could find a job there.. I'm no longer working in the Detroit area, and I likely would be hard pressed to find a job there again... Lastly, there's no way I'd move back to Detroit..

Those $7500 houses in Detroit are even cheaper than they seem. Chances are you will get killed by the time the third or fourth mortgage payment is due, so it may only cost you a couple hundred.

As the mayoral candidate in Detroit recently joked "the murder rate is going down, because there is noone left to kill"

Cheap housing may make Detroit a cheap place to retire. Now that Madoff has made off with your investments set aside for retirement then places like Detroit may be the only alternative. Where else would those Social Security dollars go as far? You know, Social Security, that government program which the investment class Republicans have spent decades fighting to eliminate may be what keeps you from being homeless and starving in your old age.
There are also cheap homes in many rural areas like I found in Iowa last year. Not exactly a beach house in some Caribean tax shelter but more than adequate for my needs.

It's always all about jobs. People will follow the work, and make the best of the locale.

If there are no jobs, then people will go where the public support is.

The only way to repopulate Detroit is to either replace the jobs or make it a massive welfare center. Maybe the latter is already happening, as I recall a story here a few days ago about the schools having free lunches for all because there were so few who qualified as "self pay" as to make it not worth tracking.

It's always all about jobs.

This is absolutely true. And I further believe that this is THE fundamental challenge of the transition we need to make. How can we create a society that provides a meaningful existence for people with out "jobs" being at the center?

Figure that out and we solve almost every problem we are confronted with in our contemporary world.

When the bats and bees go extinct: there will be NO SHORTAGE of work killing flying bugs and hand pollination...

Hello TODers,

As posted many times before: IMO, bat biologists should be among the highest wage earners in the world.

Will the Govts worldwide forcibly take your PV panels and every car battery to save the birds, bats & bees? It might be the only way:

State and federal biologists are warning of possible disease outbreaks in the American Goldfinch, Pine Siskin, and Bat populations.

..Bats are a key mammal in the ecosystem since typically a single bat can eat between 400 to 1,000 insects in one hour.

Solar Boxes Save Stricken Bats

..Bats in the northeastern parts of Canada and the United States are dying in alarming numbers, and researchers believe that a newly discovered fungus is responsible. The fungus, they say, leads to a condition known as white-nose syndrome. Since white-nose syndrome was first detected in 2006 in New York, the fungus has spread across the border to Ontario and six other states. The fungus has killed hundreds of thousands of bats - as much as 80% of the bat population in some areas. This is of particular concern to farmers who rely on bats as a way of controlling the insect population.

..Researchers at the University of Winnipeg and Indiana State University theorize that if the bats are kept in a warm place, they will remain in hibernation. They therefore propose using solar powered insulated boxes (that would hold about 200 bats each) to keep the mammals warm – and asleep. The boxes would be powered by car batteries linked to solar cells. Their computer-stimulated model shows that using these boxes could drop mortality rates to as low as eight per cent.
We are evolved to walk/pedal in the daylight, then sit in the dark, but we can't do starvation. IF properly informed by full-on Peak Outreach: I think most humans would accept drastic economic and infrastructure changes vs losing these little critters.

I hope 0bama, Bernanke, and Geithner, plus the IMF & World Bank, are studying econometric models projecting what a drastic reduction in these species & resulting harvest yields might do.

EDIT: I wonder if GM, FORD, and Chrysler should just abandon the idea of cars, and instead, go straight to making these millions of hybrid bat boxes. Full employment in Detroit to save these critters?

I doubt if I have personally swatted 1,000 mosquitos in my lifetime: I can't imagine trying to kill 1,000/hour. Yikes! :(

job does not equal work.

And I further believe that this is THE fundamental challenge of the transition we need to make. How can we create a society that provides a meaningful existence for people with out "jobs" being at the center?

I can think of plenty of meaningful activities to do outside of the area of traditional work. The problem comes when one wants to make a living, and others don't value his activities enough to pay for them.

I can think of plenty of jobs that are not meaningful activities. The problem comes in that one is required to "make a living" through these meaningless activities in order to house, feed and keep warm one's self and family. That is what needs to be broken.

I think jobs may yet return to Detroit and other Rust Belt cities. If globalization breaks down (and it looks like it might), then we will need our industrial base again.

In the past the cycle was:

Industry closes -> urban decay -> depopulation and price collapse -> artists see cheap housing -> vibrant art scene -> gentrification (prices rise and stockbrokers move in) -> artists forced out -> sterile enclave of the wealthy.

I don't know about industrial base, but some artists, maybe...

I'm not talking about that cycle. I think we're on the verge of a fundamental change.

We won't be able to trust global supply chains any more, which will mean we have to make what we need here. And peak oil will mean rail and water will be the favored modes of transportation again. The Rust Belt is where it is in large part because of its navigable waterways and later, rail.

I think there is going to be a major opportunity for production entrepreneurs, especially those who can query the elderly to get manufacturing knowledge and practical design skills.

In any technical industry there will be machinery to fix or replace for which the knowledge exists only in some old men's heads.

Case in point - the article yesterday about the military not knowing how to make a critical substance in Trident warheads. It about as important and specialized as a bit of knowledge could be.

I think the days of "go west, young man" are over. Homesteading might come again, though. We could have suburban-steading too -- bring your company to town and the locality will buy each new employee a foreclosed house to live in. Factory towns could easily rise again, centered around producers of critical goods who must locate near resources.

Hello Wolverine,

Thxs for responding. With equal due respect: IMO, the degree your area will be able to resist in-migration is directly proportional to how quickly your Great Lakes moves toward Peak Outreach, Secession, and ramping Earthmarines [see prior postings of mine].

Recall that the Native North & South Americans did not ramp their resistance to the Euro-influx until it was far too late.

If things get bad fast, for example, say a Western Dust Bowl hits this year: You might see those very cheap properties in Detroit, Cleveland, etc, suddenly start appreciating quickly as people start flocking in to Kunstlerize and/or renovate. If most of your neighbors start making a little money again, it will be awfully tough to convince them to stop any migration north.

Living in a rundown neighborhood and house, but having water, is still far preferable to being in a lavish mansion, but no water.

It might also be entirely the other migration direction [Southward] as I have no idea how this might play out. A few winters without gas heating might make most of your neighbors come my way to take their chances with our summer heat. Recall the earlier proposals to pump the Great Lakes and/or major rivers Southwest over the Rockies. But it seems to me to be much more likely that North migration is more likely than South Migration.

I seem to recall a Michigan governor threatening to call upon the state's National Guard if the feds attempted to take any of the Great Lakes water within their domain. I agree, there's no reason why they should sacrifice their resources to Cali or any of the other states that live beyond their means.

Those people made their beds, and now they must be prepared to lie in them.

No you are not the all powerful parent. Ha Ha. There aren't any borders within the US. There is freedom of movement. All we humans on earth helped "make the bed" And no amount of moralizing from the lucky to the unlucky is going to hold back the tide. Though no doubt certain people will become vigilantes.

A lot of people laughed at me when I referenced "Tiny Houses" in my August, 2006 essay (building on prior work by Simmons, Deffeyes, Kunstler, et al):

Net Oil Exports Revisted

A Proposed Triage Plan
I believe that vast expanses of American Suburbia are going to become virtually abandoned in the years ahead. Alan Drake has noted that a good deal of suburbia was so poorly constructed that a lot of it is biodegradable. Alan has outlined how we can go back to what we used to have: electric trolley cars connected to electric light rail lines.

CBS Sunday Morning, on 8/20/06, had a segment on "tiny houses." They profiled a home designer and builder who specialized in building very small functional homes of about 100 square feet. You can find more information on his website.

What this builder has realized, and what millions of Americans are just beginning to also realize, is that anything over 100 square feet or so per person is not a necessity; it is optional consumption, a want, instead of a need.

The US is not Switzerland, but Alan Drake has described how Swiss per capita oil consumption in the Second World War was about 0.25% of current US per capita oil consumption. They did it primarily by electrifying their transportation system.

I propose a sort of triage operation: "tiny" homes and multifamily housing along electric mass transit lines. In my opinion, it is the only way that we can preserve some semblance of a civilized society. The suburbs are, by and large, a lost cause.

Yeah, heard of these folks too...

But I'll even one-up you- houses are horribly energy inefficient when compared to apartment buildings. This is because they use more land, have a high surface area to lose/gain heat, and require individual utilities (among many other reasons).

So why no go with tiny apartments? It makes sense in a Post-Peak and Post-Credit environment: small, inexpensive, efficient living spaces for today's smaller families.

I live in a small house myself (only 1,000 sq. ft. above ground) and find that the space is ample and it is what I need. If I had no kids, I might have even bought a tiny house myself...

My house is 418 square feet, 3 stories, 2 adults, 2 kids. 3 bedrooms, 1 spare room, 1 bathroom. All windows double glass. 12 cm of roof isolation. 817 square feet garden. veggie garden 100 square meters, 800 meters from the house. Woodstove in the livingroom. All services within a 1 km radius. Fishing spot on 1 km, beach on 3 km.

The square footage of your house seems improbable. How much sq footage does the staircase alone take up?

I'm guessing it's a rope

Improbable? Naah. Have you ever been to The Netherlands? Some of their houses are no bigger than medium-sized travel trailers. They look like houses all right but the size and proportions say "storage shed", causing cognitive dissonance. I have some (non-digital) pictures of houses along a canal in Delft; the first reaction some people have is "what are those?"

Can your provide a floor plan or a pic of your house? Very cool.

A few exist in the US, too. I knew a girl in college who lived in a two-story house that seemed like a playhouse. It was less than 20x20 per floor -- probably more like 16x16, with an open living room and kitchen downstairs and a bedroom and bath up. It made your eyes hurt when you looked at it the first few times, as your brain tried to refocus to get things into proportion.

Can't be very energy efficient, though. Too much surface area to volume.

Surface area is my pet peeve on new houses -- suburbia has "interesting" house shapes that have too many wall jogs and roofline cuts. Makes them more expensive to build, quick to leak, and inefficient to boot. A nice rectangular solid with a south-sloping roof is all I ask.....a porch can add a nice traditional look.

I don't see why you think the small house you describe is not "energy efficient". The heat loss (or gain in summer) is a function of surface area, not volume. Since it's a 2 story house, there is half as much roof area for the floor area, so right there it's going to save compared to a typical one story "ranch" house. If the walls were thick enough, little thermal energy would leave thru them and the roof could be massively insulated, say to R-48 with no impact on floor area. Then the greatest path for heat loss would be windows and they might not need to be very large, except for the sleeping quarters, where code requires the ability to exit in case of fire or other emergency.

The important criteria should be energy use per person and if 2 or 3 people lived in that space, it could be quite efficient, especially if solar heating were included in the design.

E. Swanson

It may be efficient relative to a larger house for the same residency, but a larger house/building with more people should be relatively more efficient.

Given that most energy loss/gain is through the shell of the structure, a square structure that doubles in floor dimension would of course have four times the floor area but only twice the added perimeter.

A row-house or apt building made of little box houses like that would be fine though -- shared walls means shared savings.

your small side description of your g-friends house comes out to 512 sq'.
why would anybody stretch less space into three stories?
what paulusp claims is essentially three 8x16' boxes stacked on each other, 3 bed rooms? plumbing? do they cook out side? it's either bs or there is something lost in translation

My guess is he miscalculated the sq footage.

I suspect a bochted conversion to feet from meters.
Hmm its about 11 sqft to the sq meter a quick and dirty is 10x

817 square feet garden. veggie garden 100 square meters,
If its 100 square meters than that should have been 1100 sqft.
If I understand the sentences so its a wierd 33% error.

418sqft is probably the same mistake twice for each floor
so more like 500sqft x3 = 1500 sqft this makes a lot more sense given the size of the garden.
I'd argue with that big of a garden the house would have been bigger.

Or if its 418 sqft then same its for each floor so l200 sqft.

Not a particularly tiny home overall if I'm correct about the error either way.

I used to live in a 800 sq ft townhouse in San Francisco. It was two floors, 20x20 feet (including the staircase footprint). Downstairs there were two bedrooms and a bathroom. Upstairs there was one great room, with the kitchen along one corner. We used the kitchen table to "separate" it from the rest of the space. It had a 20 foot peaked ceiling upstairs, with a large south facing window, and I think we hardly ever heated the place. We were shocked with the gas bills when we moved to a 1100 sq ft single level house just 35 miles south in Menlo Park.

Anyway the point of the house was that a square house (or cube, in this case) is cheapest to build, thus helping with affordability in a city like SF.

Oh we also had a back yard, 20x15, and a front carport. Very compact, so simple... really you thought twice about buying anything at all. We had our first baby in that house and I asked for a washer dryer for a shower gift (the smallest available model fit in the bedroom closet), as baby swings, cribs, bathtubs, and other accoutrements would simply not have fit. We had to park our bikes outside.

I also suspect a metric > English error in squaring.

1 foot = 0.3048 meter
1 foot2 = 0.0929 metter2

He could have converted his meter2 using the foot to meter conversion.

Best (and dying) Hopes for the USA converting to the metric system,


One of the more interesting rentals I had was on the 1200 block of Ursulines in New Orleans. Late 1700s, it was supposed to the slave quarters for the overseers house for the plantation north of town (2 blocks away to FQ),

Octagonal, two stories, outside spiral staircase or STEEP inside steps to second story.

Never measured it, but interior dimensions were less than 20' side to side.

Interesting living there,

Best Hopes for small & efficient,



The size of my house is 6 x 7 meters. So that will make about 451 square feet to be more exact (I first calculated it a bit rough)

Ground floor: Entrance to hallway with staircase, closet and toilet. The stairs make a 180 degree turn to the first floor, the space under the stairs is the closet. Living room, and kitchen. In the back the garden, 6 meters wide and 14+ meters deep. This is not the veggie garden, we have that at a community garden on a 5 minute bike ride from the house.
First floor: Small spare room on the backside(5 square meters), as well as the master bedroom (12 quare meters). On the frontside the bathroom (4 square meters) and the other bedroom (also about 12 square meters)
Second floor: storage area and the last bedroom.

It's not big, but really big enough for us.

I'll see if I can come up with the floorplan/some pictures

Like I said in the email you sent square footage is the total for the house.

If you have 3 floors then its 1353 sqft.

Looks like your counting the attic basically so its actually less usable space I'm guessing 1000 sqft.

Its a small house but not uncomfortably small.

Only in the Netherlands!

...well, maybe not, but it's the first place I think of...

I saw a athletic club in Amsterdam that was about 5 stories tall but only about 10 meters wide. No need for the stairmaster.

Or in Vietnam, houses are only one room wide, and about two rooms long with a staircase in the middle.

Even in the countryside isolated houses are really narrow, as farmers don't want to waste land. Much better to have space to grow crops than rooms.

Most places around the world have small houses/flats. Especially Asia. Even in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan where wages and living standards are high, people share flats or live with their parents. (Rentals are high too). Which leads to people spending more times outdoors.

One of the more maddening aspects of suburban sprawl, at least here in the Midwest, is that it frequently occurs on some of the best farmland. I have often idly wondered what long-term prospects exist for reclaiming entire swaths of land (not just piecemeal backyards) for crop production. The work involved in taking abandoned subdevelopments and restoring them to proper fields would seem quite daunting, given all the stuff in the way: the houses themselves, the foundations, the streets, the driveways, the landscaping riprap, the water lines and sewer lines and gas lines... And then there's the question of how much damage has been done to the remaining soil by all the grading and scraping and moving around and mixing with subsoil.

There is an old Army ammo plant (the Badger Army Ammunition Plant) a few miles up the road from here which is currently undergoing a similar process as part of its decommissioning. The Army has had a small army of contractors working away in there for years, ripping down buildings, burying asbestos, tearing out foundations, and generally doing a proper job of flattening the place. The demolition work is on pace to be completed over a timescale of perhaps 20 years. The original plant was built in 4.

I suspect that unwanted suburbs will follow the route of most ruins everywhere: a slow decay, rather than a thorough demolition.

Some of the most productive agricultural land in the nation. Most of that suburban sprawl occurred in the last 15 years:

Google Maps satellite view of the Manteca-Modesto-Turlock corridor in California's central valley

You can pan anywhere else in the middle to southern central valley and see much the same.

It is farmland all the way from Red Bluff to Bakersfield that has seen suburban sprawl. And is now in a serious drought.

Sacramento River Watershed
One of the most productive valleys in the World .. and the water all flows under the Golden Gate Bridge, except what is piped to Southern California. Plus a little Trinity River Water diverted in.

Clean Coal: DOE's Decision to Restructure FutureGen Should Be Based on a Comprehensive Analysis of Costs, Benefits, and Risks. GAO-09-248, February 13. Highlights


Looking at the latest monthly oil production tables from the EIA, a few things come to mind;

1) If my goal were to convince folks that the C + C flows increased since 2005, I wouldn't show them the figures. I'd just say they rose, but I'd leave out the part about the 50 barrel per day increase.

2) After looking at Venezuala production over the last 4 years, its clear that Chavez's policies should immediately be implemented in the free-world importing countries. The USA and the North Sea producers could learn a lot from Chavez. The Venezuala production didn't fall over that period much considering the age of their fields, while production in the Capitalist areas fell stunningly.

Evidently kicking out oil companies, stifling investment, and firing the best experts is a winning strategy to maintain flow rates?? The only other possibility is that Chavez is fudging on what they produce??

What do the private oil counters say about this? Do the experts believe Venezuala production figures?



Westexas, how soon do we know what the net exports in 2008 were relative to other years?

Thanks in advance!

I think that the EIA will have their numbers out in a month or two. My estimate, through 9/08, was that the top five net export number was about 22.5 mbpd, up from 2007, but down from their 2005 rate of 23.9 mbpd (EIA).

I have frequently referenced the 1998 Indonesian net export number, when they increased their net exports year over year, but at the end of 1998 they had already shipped 44% of their post-1996 cumulative net oil exports, with the other 56% being shipped from 1999 to 2004. Our middle case is that the top five have shipped about 20% of their post-2005 cumulative net oil exports.

2) After looking at Venezueala production over the last 4 years, its clear that Chavez's policies should immediately be implemented in the free-world importing countries. The USA and the North Sea producers could learn a lot from Chavez. The Venezuala production didn't fall over that period much considering the age of their fields, while production in the Capitalist areas fell stunningly.

The EIA numbers for Venezuela differ somewhat from the numbers reported by OPEC's "external sources", which are a composite of major reporting agencies.

Venezuela reached a post strike peak in February 2005. Since then, to December 2008, according to OPEC's figures Venezuela declined from 2,720 kb/d to 2,275 kb/d, a decline of 16.36%. The EIA has the decline a little less over that same period, from 2,640 to 2,340, a decline of 11.36%.

The US by contrast declined 6.75% over that same period. So it is Venezuela, when compared to the US, whose oil production has fallen stunningly. While the North Sea has declined a bit more, 17.7% over that same period that is to be expected. The North Sea oil comes from hundreds of small offshore fields that just naturally have a much higher decline rate than those in the US and Venezuela.

But I understand where you are coming from Highplainsfarmer; the US is a Capitalist country while Venezuela is a Communist country so the Communist must have a much more efficient system of producing oil. That is pure hogwash as the form of government has little to do with oil production. And Venezuela has used capitalist oil companies in their exploration and production of oil. However Chavez has continually harassed them and taken over many of them without adequate compensation. That is likely the reason that Venezuelaian oil production has fallen much faster than the world average. The world, over that exact same period, has declined .94%


Sorry, Darwinian I was being sarcastic when I claimed that Venezuala was doing something right. I'm a huge believer in Lassaiz-Faire style free markets, buts that's just my opinion.

Interesting data from OPEC's "external sources". Were the EIA to use that data, 2005 would walk away with the all-time prize, and Duffeyes etc would have plenty to crow about.

The EIA data for Venezuala makes zero sense,and is direct conflict with common sense concerning the way an economy works.

Thank you for your information!

I've been looking at some price and crude production numbers (EIA).

Let's use 5/05 as the index rate, 74.2 mbpd (which has been revised downward, from a higher estimate, I believe). The price of of oil (WTI spot) averaged $50 in 5/05. We have 43 months of data after 5/05. Let's go back to October, 2001--43 months after October, 2001 would put us in May, 2005.

Production & Price:

October, 2001: 67.7 mbpd & $33

May 2005: 74.2 mbpd & $50

Annual oil prices:


In the 43 month period ending in May, 2005, the cumulative increase between what the world would have produced at the October, 2001 rate and what we actually produced, through 5/05, is about 3.1 Gb.

In the 43 month period ending in December, 2008, the cumulative shortfall between what the world would have produced at the 5/05 rate and what we actually produced, through 12/08, was about 0.95 Gb. For 42 of the 43 months, the price of oil exceeded $50. We did see one month--July, 2008, subject to revision, generally downward--that exceeded the May, 2005 rate and we did see some voluntary reductions in production in the fourth quarter of 2008.

However, the 43 month period ending in May, 2005 showed increasing cumulative production, relative to the October, 2001 rate (in response to generally rising oil prices), while the 43 month period following May, 2005 showed declining cumulative production, relative to the May, 2005 rate (in response to generally rising oil prices).

October, 2001: 67.7 mbpd & $33

May 2005: 74.2 mbpd & $50

The problem with picking arbitrary timelines is that one can usually prove anything they like:

October, 1998: 67.0 mbpd & $15

So, in response to a more than doubling of oil prices, the world could only eke out an additional 0.7 mbpd between 1998 and 2001. Clearly one could make the argument in 2001 that we had peaked, because production had failed to respond to the price signals. But what actually happened, due to the long lead time of these projects, is additional production didn't come online until later on.

We did see one month--July, 2008, subject to revision, generally downward--that exceeded the May, 2005 rate and we did see some voluntary reductions in production in the fourth quarter of 2008.

And despite the voluntary reductions in the 2nd half of 2008, the year as a whole was higher than 2005. So you would agree that while 2008 barely eclipsed 2005, had prices not collapsed the 2008 record would have been more impressive?

I have said it before, and I say it again: You have to let the data drive you to a conclusion, not vice-versa. If you go searching for data to support your conclusion, you will always be defending against data you excluded.

This suggests we have been close to peak for some time. If you look at the US and I'll try from memory production was within 1mbd of peak for about a decade.

Looking here http://www.hubbertpeak.com/blanchard/ US oil production changed by 1mb over a period of 30 years. 0.5 mbd over about 20 years I think across peak but the resolution is low.

You can compare this for the world to the changes in oil production before 1980 which where a lot more vigorous.

Now looking at the world.


Figure 1 shows the historic world oil production data from 1960 to 1999 and our forecasts from 2000 to 2040. Note that the overall growth rate of oil production slowed from 1960 to 1999 (curve 1). In detail: The average rate of growth from 1960 to 1973 was a whopping 6.65 %/year. Next, from 1973 to 1979 growth slowed to 1.49 %/year. Then, from 1979 to 1999, it slowed yet further to a glacial 0.75 %/year. Moving beyond the historic period, Forecast #5 predicts that world oil production will reach its all-time peak in 2006. Then from its peak in 2006 to year 2040 world oil production will fall by 58.8 % — an average decline of 2.45 %/year during these 34 years.

The OPEC/non-OPEC crossover event is predicted to occur in 2008 (Figure 1, curves 2 &3). This event will divide the world into two camps: one with surplus oil, the other with none. Forecast #5 presents the following scenario. (1) Beginning in 2008 the 11 OPEC nations will produce more than 50% of the world's oil. (2) Thereafter OPEC will control nearly 100% of the world’s oil exports. (3) BP Amoco (2000) puts OPEC's "proved reserves" at 77.6% of the world total. (4) OPEC production from 1985 to 1999 grew at a strong average rate of 3.46 %/year. In contrast, non-OPEC production grew at sluggish 0.37 %/year during this same 14-year period.

For price and using inflation adjusted dollars.


One would argue the price signal a number of way I'd just say that except for a small number of events in general its been strong most years which means that in general demand for oil was sufficient to put a floor on prices events that interfered with oil supply generally resulted in a rapid increase in price.
The peak in prices in 2008 is notable because it represented the one time that above ground events disrupting supply did not drive the price completely Iraq however makes this debatable. But the main point remains that demand seemed to be sufficient to cause strong increases in prices with a fairly small drop in supply regardless of cause. So capacity never greatly exceeded demand during this entire period. As far as price signal despite the rapid drop in prices oil production has not declined that much over the short term.
This suggest that generally the price of oil has been sufficient to encourage most producers to produce near capacity since about 1978 or so ignoring above ground factors that on average actually increase oil prices.

Now its its fascinating that the world has manage for about 30 years to generally keep production/capacity growing to the point that production never fell that far behind implicit demand causing a price spike purely because of production grounds until recently.

My conclusion is that WT argument is good back to about 1980 it seems since this time the oil industry itself has not managed rapid growth. The very fascinating interplay of world events over the last 30 years has somehow managed to work such that at no point during this time did we see supply not meet demand purely for production reasons. The oil industry has managed to just supply about the right amount of oil even with decades or more of lead time for projects.

Tin Foil Hat time:

Given that growth in production has been pathetic and the oil industry faced long lead times but in general future production can be reasonably determined during most of this period within a few mbd a day one could say that the oil industry probably was not working magic they did not somehow brilliantly manage to keep production and economic growth balanced to allow adequate oil supplies at decent prices for decades. One would argue that the balancing was being done on the demand side not the production side.

This implies that economic growth until the last five years was not some sort of natural growth but managed growth.
Projected future supply would have played important variable in determining demand growth in such a managed economy.

I'll use this one since I think it highlights my point.


Any of these nefarious economic managers would certainly have this data and more to determine growth.

Peak Oilers should be able to see the first inflection point in 1980.

Do we have a candidate for this man behind the curtain ?

We actually have several that are really effectively one they are called central banks.
From time to time they need help and their elves or henchmen are call national governments.

In fact I'd suggest that this does not really require a tinfoil hat but if you have just what I showed and more you can
see that the CB's probably recognize that this is probably the end of growth. And I'd suggest that a understanding
of future oil supplies plays a role in recognizing this. If you want do WT style analysis using 1979's production data and better assume say a 1% steady growth rate from that level. Obviously real production has fallen far short and has for decades.

Our benevolent leaders have seen fit to allow us rats to run in our cage right until they too saw the obvious writing on the wall from my last graph.

This plot is backwards, years should be linear, GDP logarithmic so that uniform growth rate will be a strait line and you can compare growth in different time periods.
Changes in yearly growth rates too variable to extrapolate just 25 years data from 1980.
If you want to determine probabilities of rare events over a >100 year period, you need more than 25 years data.

Neil I like the plot but its not the only one available.

The truth is we live in a managed economy controlled by central banks that set the money supply
and thus the growth rate. Its not a true free market.

People argue that the price of oil is set in a sort of free market I'm saying this is not correct.
Its command economy and the price of oil is set by decisions made in the command economy.

Until recently this command economy has successfully managed growth and thus the price of oil.
The availability of oil itself is and important part in the decision process in determining
future economic growth.

For whatever reason the decision was made to drive the the economy hard in the late 1990's.

I'm simply saying that this is because it became obvious that debt was not eliciting growth.
Instead of winding down the debt economy our CB's decided to rev it up to the limit and ignore side effects
such as growing faster than the oil supply could be increased.

Look at it this way at any point once we left the gold standard the CB's could have easily dropped interest
rates to zero and caused massive inflation and growth. This would have obviously spiked oil prices given
the historical growth rates.

Eventually they resorted to these measures vs winding the economy down.

Now I'll add this why ?

I think that at the top the expectation was that we where on the verge of the next big leap in technology.
The .com growth would have worked to instill this sort of confidence. I really think that our leaders felt
the next industrial revolution was just around the corner and that the basic energy constraints on growth
where no longer relevant. Technology would provide a route to unlimited growth.

Turned out they where wrong. We did not make this leap.

Please don't use the width=100% tag. It stretches the image to unreadably large sizes if you have higher screen resolution.

And be careful about hot-linking to images. Some sites allow it, some don't. One of your images was from a site that blocked hot-linking, so I replaced it with a text link. Sites that block hot-linking general do it because they cannot afford to pay for the extra bandwidth if a popular site hot-links their images. You are stealing their bandwidth, and it costs them real money.

You can email privately if you wish. Sorry to be a bit off topic but its the drumbeat right :)

All I want is to scale the image so you don't have cut off images. height="100%" may be enough I think thats what your saying.
I'm open to your suggestion not setting height seems to result in cutoff images.

On the hot linking I almost figured that out the problem was it was sporadic i.e I saw it sometimes and not others.
Thought it might be a network issue.
I don't know of a easy way to discover if a site disallows hot linking.
I was actually debating if that was what was happening.
Nothing wrong with not allowing it just its irritating that its not been made part of http.
Thats just a beef of mine I've got a long list about inter site interactions.
Offtopic to some extent but the lack of cooperation between multiple web sites cuts off
a entire fascinating way to interact. The inability to do distributed computing on the
web is one of the problems I work on. Hot linking is a glaring example of where we have failed in this respect.

As a simple example consider the wealth of information available on renewable concepts. We lack
the sort of meta catalog or meta sites capacity to make it easy to view and understand this info.
Google is very primitive vs what we could do if people broke out of the website silo.

The time frame was dictated by the number of months between 5/05 and 12/08. As we have discussed, we will have to agree to disagree about the logistic (HL) method. The fact remains that world production is behaving pretty much as Deffeyes predicted, using the logistic method, and world's two largest producers have shown the production declines that I started warning about in January, 2006, using the logistic method.

I have no beef with you over Russia, but Saudi has not behaved as predicted by the HL. You have even admitted that you were surprised by the increased production. The dire warnings of 2005 from a number of people instead saw Saudi production rise (as I predicted) to 9.7 million bpd in 2008. Had prices not collapsed, they would probably still be running there. What we do know is that what I said all along was true: They were setting on spare capacity. How else could they suffer through the natural decline of their fields in 2006 and 2007, and then still open the taps to bring production back to 9.7 million bpd.

Also, I haven't checked lately, but the last time I ran an HL on Saudi that 'dogleg up' was becoming more pronounced. It may be time to stop freezing your analysis in 2005, incorporate new data, and see how that compares to what you saw in 2005. I believe you are going to find that %Qt has fallen, which then begs the question of how you don't know that the HL is pointing to 2008 or 2009 as the peak.

You have even admitted that you were surprised by the increased production.

This is not accurate. I said I was surprised by the size of the rebound, but not the rebound.

When Stuart noted, in March, 2007, that the observed Saudi decline was beyond what the HL model predicted, I responded that was one of the reasons that I expected to see a future rebound in Saudi production, "Albeit to a level much lower than their peak."

The fact remains that Saudi Arabia has shown three years of annual production below their 2005 rate.

From two years ago, March 2, 2007 (emphasis added):


Stuart Staniford on March 2, 2007 - 2:37pm

I agree that the hubbert linearization supports the idea that the Saudi's are post peak, but tends to argue for a much smaller decline rate than the 2006 data suggest. However, I'm a bit wary of this linearization since there's such a large deliberate throttling back in the 80s. Also, I am inclined (without certainty since we've never managed to substantiate this theory) to the view that when HL works its because of being a robust estimator for an approximately Gaussian process that arises out of a large number of fields being combined together (since the logistic is clearly a lousy model of individual field profiles). So I'm wary of it again in KSA because Ghawar is so dominant.

A way to reconcile the two views might be to argue that the Saudis have been badly overproducing their fields in recent years, which is why the trend has been above the logistic, and we are now paying the price in a rapid dropoff.

westexas on March 2, 2007 - 3:45pm

This is why I have been speculating for a while about a future rebound in Saudi production, albeit to a level much lower than their peak.

What we may see is a very sharp decline, because of a crash at Ghawar, followed by a rebound as some smaller fields come on line.

BTW, the problem with proclaiming that one month, July 2008, is the "New Peak," for both the world and Saudi Arabia--when the other 42 post-5/05 monthly data points did not exceed the 5/05 rate--is that how do we know that this one month was not a result of producers reducing inventories to take advantage of high oil prices?

Also, the preliminary data points are subject to revision, frequently downward, and you are talking about a preliminary data point of 9.7 mbpd for Saudi Arabia for July, 2008, versus 9.6 mbpd for 5/05, a difference of about one percent.

This is why I have been speculating for a while about a future rebound in Saudi production, albeit to a level much lower than their peak.

That pretty much hedges your bets though. No rebound? "Hey, I was only speculating. I have consistently predicted a decline." A rebound? "Hey, I said there might be a rebound - albeit to a level MUCH lower than their peak." And as you say, production went much higher than you thought it would (but not higher than I thought it would).

If you go back and look at your Saudi HL arguments in 2005, Saudi production should be in the low 7 mbpd range right now. If it were me, I might revisit that HL and maybe update it.

BTW, the problem with proclaiming that one month, July 2008, is the "New Peak," for both the world and Saudi Arabia--when the other 42 post-5/05 monthly data points did not exceed the 5/05 rate--is that how do we know that this one month was not a result of producers reducing inventories to take advantage of high oil prices?

This is special pleading. You could make the same argument for the 2005 peak. I think you are clinging too hard to a 2005 peak that isn't likely to stand the test of time. This would not happen if you don't filter the data according to your assumptions of a 2005 peak.

Also, the preliminary data points are subject to revision, frequently downward, and you are talking about a preliminary data point of 9.7 mbpd for Saudi Arabia for July, 2008, versus 9.6 mbpd for 5/05, a difference of about one percent.

Production peaked when prices peaked. When prices fell, production fell. You acknowledged that there was voluntary reduction in Q4. This "subject to revision" argument sounds like whistling past the graveyard.

In any case, in a time period (first quarter of 2007) when practically everyone else was mesmerized by the Saudi decline--and I agree that you were talking about a rebound--I was offering a specific reason for a rebound, i.e., as smaller fields came on line to offset to the apparent rapid decline from North Ghawar, which probably took the Saudis by surprise, in much the same way that the Yibal decline took Shell by surprise. Also, the fact remains that the bulk of Saudi production comes from a group of very old oil fields.

But fundamentally, this is the key point:

The fact remains that Saudi Arabia has shown three years of annual production below their 2005 rate.

We aren't really breaking any new ground here. We will have to agree to disagree regarding the HL method. I suggest that we revisit the Saudi topic when--and if--Saudi crude oil production exceeds 9.6 mbpd on an average annual basis.

However, I am going to ask Khebab to calculate what the 2006 to 2008 cumulative production should have been, based on his early 2006 HL plot, and I will post the results, versus the cumulative EIA production data.

I was offering a specific reason for a rebound

As did I. Their initial reductions were not involuntary (geologically-induced). They had spare capacity and they brought it online as demand (and price) picked up.

However, I am going to ask Khebab to calculate what the 2006 to 2008 cumulative production should have been, based on his early 2006 HL plot, and I will post the results, versus the cumulative EIA production data.

Why don't you redo the plot, incorporating the 2008 data? Compare it to 2005, and you will see exactly what I have been talking about as a flaw in the HL. Saudi production through 2008 points to a higher cumulative production than it did in 2005. You could do an update; sort of a "The Evolution of the Saudi HL."

This was apparent in the series of simulations I did; the HL for Texas continued to see the URR grow over time. Had you taken a snapshot in 1973, it would have been far off the mark.

I asked Khebab to post the 2006 to 2008 data points on the 5/06 HL plot and to calculate the predicted post-2005 cumulative production (based on the 5/06 HL plot). We can then compare that prediction to the actual EIA data.

I also asked him to update this graph:

Regarding Texas, as we have discussed several times, I never claimed, in our 5/06 paper, that the pre-peak Texas HL plot could accurately predict the peak. I did assert that the total Texas HL plot could give us an idea of when Texas peaked, as a percentage of total URR. We could then take that model and use the far more stable Saudi HL plot to determine approximately when Saudi Arabia should peak. And as I have said, if 2005 does turn out to be the final peak, there was an element of a luck in posting the Texas and Saudi plot in early 2006, suggesting a 2005 final peak for Saudi Arabia. And as I demonstrated in "My Defense of HL" paper, the production data through 1970 very accurately predicted the post-1970 Lower 48 production, and I used the Russian data through 1984 to suggest a resumed Russian production decline in the 2007/2008 time frame.

Now, other than having another year showing Saudi oil production below their 2005 annual rate, have we covered anything new here?

Now, other than having another year showing Saudi oil production below their 2005 annual rate, have we covered anything new here?

I think we will once you update that Saudi HL. I think you will see that it isn't stable, which is the point I have been making for 3 years. Thus, it isn't an accurate way to gauge the Saudi peak. I think in time you will recognize this as the HL continues to change and point to higher and higher URRs. Until then, we probably won't cover anything new.

but Saudi has not behaved as predicted by the HL. You have even admitted that you were surprised by the increased production. The dire warnings of 2005 from a number of people instead saw Saudi production rise (as I predicted) to 9.7 million bpd in 2008.

Perhaps you should also keep in mind that Matt Simmons maintains that Saudi figures are currently massaged and that the true figures are well known in certain places. Simmons is absolutely adamant that Peak Oil occurred in 2005 and 2008 production was 2mb/day lower than 2005.

I like the way you do this it makes a lot of sense.

Also I was lurking for ROCKMAN but he seems to be missing today but a lot of the contango is now gone from the oil markets its moving closer to what I consider a functional market. Probably one more month to go the way things are going before I'd say the oil market was acting like a real futures market.

Looking farther out the price action from June-July forward will probably be a good harbinger of our future.
If we see falling prices after June then I'd suggest that OPEC is unable to control production to the point that they can put a floor on oil prices. However if they manage to get prices into 60 or higher by June I'd have to think that they would have shown the world they can control prices.

Sorry memmel...just had a Deep Water Brazil well slap me upside the head Monday. Was there a specific question I missed? Sorry...just too tired to scan back.

Wondered what happened to you.

I have noted over the past several days that the oil's futures market is begining to function like a real market.
Its still got to much contango for my tastes but its now actually acting like a market for the price of oil.

Although we still have not physically absorbed the surplus oil it looks like people are now hedging real
oil contracts using the futures market and physical oil speculators are not driving the market.

My guess is we will see the excess storage drain down over the coming months with the contango no longer
making storage profitable.

We are getting really close to seeing some backwardation between the front month contract and the futures.
Once the market actually shows backwardation on the front month then I'd say its finally fully functional.

Given the amount of oil in storage this period of reasonable contango but no backwardation could last for a while.
In my above post I'm guessing this summer at the earliest before we see a "real" oil market that finally shook off the surge.

But it could go fully functional at any point in time what we don't know is how much of the current storage has already
been bought by people that plan to take delivery of the oil. If most of its now sold to real oil users then the market
would begin before the stored oil is actually drained down.

My guess given the way the market is acting is that indeed this oil is going to be drawn down and has buyers.
Depending on how they hedges I'd suggest the current market action is people filling in positions in certain months.
Thus the current excess storage is now fully committed and the market is looking at marginal supply issues.
More of a spot market than a futures market in a sense but at least its now functional.

memmel -- You're much savvier with the futures market then I so there's not much I can add towards that end. But I can confirm that very little has changed to date in the physical oil development situation other then OPEC's efforts to reduce supply. Domestically old oil hasn't changed. Its relative low cost to continue lifting keeps it rather immune from much change during low pricing periods. The Deep Water GOM oil plays do seem to have slowed up a little. Much quicker then would have expected. But not much net change IMO. New projects have been delayed but other then curbing long term expectations that shouldn’t have much affect on today’s market IMO. Some companies want to slow up their Deep Water programs but with rigs under long term contracts the only method to do so without suffering huge penalties is to sublet the rig to another operator. My company tried to do that with my rig but unfortunately for them (but fortunately for me) such a negotiation fell thru and it looks likely they'll keep me busy a while longer.

Based upon your analysis it would make sense for inventories to be sold now that prices have risen. If you weren't holding the oil for your own use it would make sense to sell while there's a demand/price to lock in you profit. As always it goers back to that crystal ball: when will we regain a somewhat consistent rise in oil prices? Six months? Eighteen months? Not a game I tend to speculate about let alone invest in. My best investment (for my situation) I've discovered lately: I joined a local credit union that pays 4.01% on my checking account up to a balance of $25,000. These days maintaining principle is the priority...not growth.

My mistake Highplainsfarmer, I thought you were serious. We do have a few far left posters here and I mistook you for one of them. I am a left poster myself, just not far left. ;-)

i dont know who is left and who is right.

i do know that the capitalist fueled (and fooled) boom/bust cycle doesnt result in anything near optimum oil recovery.

factors limiting recovery : 1)rule of capture and 2) pv economics.

the big brain - ioc - horses out the barn door solution: eor.

is aramco using anything more exotic than(gravity stable) water injection at ghawar ?

"Venezuela declined from 2,720 kb/d to 2,275 kb/d, a decline of 16.36%"

that works out to 4.55%/yr.

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said on Wednesday he will speak to OPEC ministers before their meeting this weekend and warn them as they consider another oil production cut that high crude prices will harm the fragile world economy.

Back on bended knee. Please sacrifice your economy for the sake of the rest of us again. We ate all our candy already.


Chu would'nt know a good energy policy if it bit him on the ass. He has spent almost every waking minute of his life, feeding from the trough of Government grant money. Has he done an honest day's work in his entire life?
Who knows?

I think it was 92 or 93 when the Clinton Administration cut the defense budget they came out with the push to use the National Labs- Sandia, Los Alamos, etc. to devote their focus to energy. I went to a large conference in Canton, Ohio where the most modern computers and PHD's gave presentations about all their capabilities.

I remember it well because I lost a $10,000 reservoir simulation consulting job because the DOE offered to do it for the company free of charge. I wrote the Society of Petroleum Engineers (who supported the DOE program wholeheartedly) and asked them what they thought the American Bar Association would do if the government decided they had too many lawyers and offered their services for free. The guy who ran the company later told me that the DOE simulation study took way too long and they did what they were going to do anyways prior to completion of the work. They never looked at the final result.

Part of this push was to form the PTTC- petroleum technology transfer council to provide technology to the independent oil and gas sector. It is now disbanded and I think the results in terms of enhanced oil recovery and the US production curves speak for themselves. I can't honestly come up with one technology developed from that effort. The were working on a neat microhole drilling low environmental footprint application. I think they figured out that small light weight pipe likes to bend the deeper you drill.

Of course, Al Gore was VP and the major push was alternative energies, conservation, and climate change. I think Hazel Oleary was head of the DOE, or it might have been Richardson. Anyway, you know of what you speak.


How long before big Al claims he invented reservoir stimulation? I surfed into the Charlie Rose and watched for awhile unaware at first it was Chu. Now Rose was asking the questions but we got more on global warming and carbon credits than energy policy. I was so unimpressed I fell asleep. He seemed to be the consumate bureaucrat full of shat and poly-speak. Heaven help us more double talk and political pocket pool

Greetings Mr. Nigra.
Welcome to TOD. Perhaps you have been a "long time listener, first time poster", but in the event that you are not, and have not been following the discussions on TOD since, say, 2007, I highly recommend spending more than a little time sifting through the archives to review key posts on topics like wood as an energy source (per your comment in Gail's other thread) or discussion of the energy secretary. You will note that there is a search box on the left hand side. This site is literally jam-packed with exploratory ideas and factual information concerning our shared energy dilemma.

Personally, I enjoy Drumbeat comments that are supported by relevant facts in the post and/or links to sources that give new and insightful information. I occasionally veer off that path myself, so I am no angel, but I do find comments like those above (ad hominens) of minimal value.

Good luck on your learning adventures!

Yes, God spoke to me of the wonderful journey I am on, many years ago. My opinion of Chu was a bit harsh and not quite respectful of our fellow man, but nonetheless, it is true.

The truth will set men free. I will read your past comments as a first step.

Bless You.

I can tell we should expect great things from you, brother Juglans. (Will you recognize it if it turns out that what's biting YOU on the rear turns out to be.. you?)

ANALYSIS-US energy policy focuses less on OPEC oil supply

WASHINGTON, March 2 (Reuters) - Recent comments by U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu appear to mark a radical shift in U.S. energy policy away from its focus on OPEC and oil supply and toward an agenda of trimming petroleum demand and promoting renewable energy at home.

Chu recently raised eyebrows by saying OPEC was not in the "domain" of his job responsibilities, and admitted he did not know the administration's position on whether it was against another oil output cut when the group meets in Vienna on March 15.


and yet later, of course we find out which elephants in the room are demanding to be heard..

Still, Chu should not make the mistake of giving OPEC the impression that the United States does not mind if output is cut again, according to Heritage Foundation energy expert Ben Lieberman.


A sharp rebound in oil prices could hamper an economic recovery, experts(jokuhl's emphasis) have said.

"(Chu) should have said something to the effect that it is in the interest of the American people for OPEC to not cut back on production," Lieberman said.

So we're back to 'did he say that because it's what must be said?' It seems like he has a number of good directions for energy policy, if the Heritage Foundation doesn't have the sway to veto his moves.

Dr. Chu is, of course, a brilliant and capable scientist and hopefully a competent administrator. Not withstanding his accomplishments, I think he would be foolish not to listen to what the OPEC oil ministers want first. Given that the Iraq war has caused over 1.3 million Muslim deaths to date, and our FED's low interest rates have caused terrible inflation in many OPEC countries, I would think that OPEC would have good information of how geopolitical and economic conditions affect oil production and exports. I am also sure OPEC ministers will remind the Secretary that in 2008 OPEC rode to the rescue by producing the entire gain in world crude production in 08. Of course, with the increase in production and the recession, US oil traders, (speculators on the downside), promptly took oil down to $34, cutting the legs out of OPEC's effort to reach a happy median between producer and consuming countries' needs.
Dr. Chu now has the unenviable task of stating that we want more oil output at low prices, while producers want prices high enough to allow for development of new fields to replaces reserves. At nominal $70 for new oil finds, Producers don't see $40-50 as enough incentive to expand. World oil producers have cancelled or postponed over $200 billion in projects to date.
Given the horrendous effects in many producing countries of oil's fall, US oil traders and speculators, failed US policy and promises in Iraq and Palestine and the history of Western attempts to control the Middle East, I don't think Dr. Chu will be very persuasive and I don't think he has the power to arrive at a mutually beneficial solution

Given the horrendous effects in many producing countries of oil's fall, US oil traders and speculators, failed US policy and promises in Iraq and Palestine and the history of Western attempts to control the Middle East, I don't think Dr. Chu will be very persuasive and I don't think he has the power to arrive at a mutually beneficial solution

All that is true, neverthless, the case can be made to OPEC that a healthy world economy benefits them enough to compromise somewhat on the price of oil. I would think OPEC would be very amenable to a method to keep the price of oil within a reasonable (and gradually rising) range. Wildly fluctuating prices are not good for either producers or consumers. But, I doubt a price of oil that Chu would consider to be optimal for his purposes, is going to be a lower lower than a price most OPEC producers would consider to be optimal.

Mr. Black Walnut I agree with you. Dr. Chu is a technocrat weaned on high energy, high dollar physics. Like you, I doubt that he will make a positive contribution to dealing with our energy predicament. Time will tell and we will see what tangible results he will achieve in his new position.


nicely said.

Rather he has more brains in his *ss than you have in your whole body!

Roy.. that's Troll Food. If you have to feed them, mind your fingers!

Chu would'nt know a good energy policy if it bit him on the ass. He has spent almost every waking minute of his life, feeding from the trough of Government grant money. Has he done an honest day's work in his entire life?

Maybe before you start with the insults you should spend 50 seconds with wikipedia...

Your comment has not affected my opinion of Steven Chu, but has not improved my opinion of JUGLANS_NIGRA

"Steven Chu is a co-winner of Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997 for the "development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light", shared with Claude Cohen-Tannoudji and William Daniel Phillips. He is a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and the Academia Sinica, and is a foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and of the Korean Academy of Science and Engineering.[23] Dr. Chu also received an honorary doctorate from Boston University when he was the keynote speaker at the 2007 commencement exercises.[24]"
"Steven Chu’s early research focused on atomic physics by developing laser cooling techniques and trapping atoms using lasers. He expanded his research area to polymer physics and biophysics while he was at Stanford. His current research focuses on the study of biological molecules and systems at single molecular level. Many Ph.D. students and postdoctoral fellows from his group have become professors at research universities around the world."
"Chu, S."Observation of the Forbidden Magnetic Dipole Transition 6{sup 2}P{sub ½} --> 7{sup 2}P{sub ½} in Atomic Thallium", Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, United States Department of Energy (through predecessor agency the Energy Research and Development Administration), (October 1976).
Chu S et al. (1985). "Three-dimensional viscous confinement and cooling of atoms by resonance radiation pressure". Phys Rev Lett 55 (1): 48-51. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.55.48. PMID 10031677.
E. L. Raab, M. Prentiss, A. Cable, S. Chu, and D. E. Pritchard (1987). "Trapping of Neutral Sodium Atoms with Radiation Pressure". Phys Rev Lett 59 (23): 2631-2634. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.59.2631. PMID 10035608.
Chu S, Bjorkholm JE, Ashkin A, Cable A (1986). "Experimental observation of optically trapped atoms". Phys Rev Lett 57 (3): 314-317. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.57.314. PMID 10034028.
Perkins TT, Quake SR, Smith DE, Chu S (1994). "Relaxation of a single DNA molecule observed by optical microscopy". Science 264 (5160): 822-6. doi:10.1126/science.8171336. PMID 8171336.
Quake SR, Babcock H, Chu S (1997). "The dynamics of partially extended single molecules of DNA". Nature 388 (6638): 151-4. doi:10.1038/40588. PMID 9217154.
Ha T et al. (2002). "Initiation and re-initiation of DNA unwinding by the Escherichia coli Rep helicase". Nature 419 (6907): 638-41. doi:10.1038/nature01083. PMID 12374984.
Chinga T, Mamada I, Pum P, Chu S (2002). "Quantum coherence aligns single amino-acids for Escherichia coli detonation". Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 59 (41): 368-71. doi:10.1073/pnas.59.2.368. PMID 16591608.
Zhuang X et al. (2002). "Correlating structural dynamics and function in single ribozyme molecules". Science 296 (5572): 1473-6. doi:10.1126/science.1069013. PMID 12029135.
Blanchard SC et al. (2004). "tRNA dynamics on the ribosome during translation". Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 101 (35): 12893-8. doi:10.1073/pnas.0403884101. PMID 15317937.
Uemura S et al. (2007). "Peptide bond formation destabilizes Shine-Dalgarno interaction on the ribosome". Nature 446 (7134): 454-7. doi:10.1038/nature05625. PMID 17377584.
Cui, B, Gonzalez RL Jr, Puglisi JD, Chu S. DNA lasers interrogated via Shine-Dalgarno entanglement. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007;144(45):5803-9. "

Is that all you've got; Records, Citations, Relevant History?

Pshtaw! Where's the mock outrage? the 'immediate assumption of flaws and ineptitude'?

My apology...I am so very sorry to offend your fantastic view of Mr Chu. I do understand, that many deeds, by many people, can be done with a very large amount of government money to spend. I also understand, that his faith in his physics will not save us from the coming storm we have created, any more than I can save us with my faith in Jesus Christ.

The energy policy we need, quite simply, has nothing whatsoever to do with physics. It has to do with consumption.

"You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor"

The earth, and all things upon it, belong to me, my neighbor, and as well to every other living thing. Do not take from me, what is not rightfully yours. My air, my water, my food by greed. I do not feel that naming that which is, is insulting to anyone. Mr. Chu has been blinded by the false idol of self worship and therefore is unable to see the truth.

So, he would be unable to understand what bit him

If you think Mr. Chu knows nothing about limiting consumption, you need to back that claim up with facts. Your keyboard is writing checks that your knowledge cannot cash. I tend to agree that Juglans Nigra is a troll, who will likely not add much to the conversation here. Your roots, like the tree's, limit growth of those around you.

On a different topic, I haven't heard many people blaming the recent uptick of the market on the President. Funny how that street only goes in one direction. Here's a C-Span archive of Obama's talk at the Business Roundtable. No hammers, no sickles, heck, no one even called him a socialist! He took Q & A for over half an hour. No teleprompter, just on-topic responses to CEO's questions. Enjoy:

Now, Now, Wisco,

How can the uptick be credited to Obama - it must be credited to Shrub, since Obama has only been in office 51 days. How can you have a serious impact on anything in the markets in a short 51 days, especially when you have already failed, or at least according to some of the astute folks on TOD.

Thank You for your malformed input. I will say a prayer for you.

The energy policy we need, quite simply, has nothing whatsoever to do with physics. It has to do with consumption.

A preposterous statement. Energy has everything to do with physics. And only a person with some understanding of the physical sciences has any hope of figuring out the effects of various proposals for dealing with it. Of course working on the demand side, whether it be via efficiency, or lifestyle change, is a very important part of any viable energy strategy. Chu has demonstrated that he understands that. Since getting his latest position, he has become more circumspect in his statements. But, that is because he realizes that the political component of his job cannot be ignored.

To Tommyvee: I have no doubt that Dr. Chu is a brilliant scientist, however the position of the head of the Department of Energy is an administrative and a PR position. Brilliance in physics and a Nobel Prize does not necessarily make one qualified for a position of leadership and representation, maybe if he was a dean of a university or had something on his resume that indicated an aptitude for leadership and administration. Mind you that I know little of his past or experience, however when he made statements to the press, such quoted as:

“Chu recently raised eyebrows by saying OPEC was not in the "domain" of his job responsibilities, and admitted he did not know the administration's position on whether it was against another oil output cut when the group meets in Vienna on March 15.”

It leads me to believe that he is not the right guy for the job, as most Americans expect some position from the current administration on OPEC from the Department of Energy, Chu appeared to not know what his job was or what its domain was, and if you don’t know what your job is, well you’re not the right guy.

Ah, he will "warn" them. That will teach evil OPEC a lesson.

Chief Financial Officer Keith Sherin said last week he could not imagine GE being cut below the 'double-A' range.


Pre-market Real-Time: 8.87 Up 0.38 (4.48%) 9:24AM ET

GE Capital sold $8 billion in FDIC-backed bonds on Monday, so it has now raised $40 billion of the $45 billion in long-term debt it planned for the year.

Now GE cut to AA+.

However, some investment funds have rules that allow them to hold only 'triple-A' rated debt, so a cut of even one notch could prompt them to unload GE bonds.

" In contrast to an economic model in which the exchange of goods is the basic process being analysed or managed, we have encouraged a model in which the process of exchange itself has become the raw material, the motor of profit-making. But the problem comes when massively inflated credit is "called in": when the disproportion between actual, measurable material security and what is being claimed and traded on the market is so great that confidence in the institutions involved collapses.

The writer, if you are interested, is Archbishop Rowan Williams."


Jobless claims for unemployment in thousands

08-Jan 467
15-Jan 524
22-Jan 589
29-Jan 588
05-Feb 626
12-Feb 623
19-Feb 627
26-Feb 670
05-Mar 639
12-Mar 654

Is this initial filings for unemployment? If so, this would mean we are losing half a million jobs a week... Or, is it initial and ongoing filings?

And please... Please... When posting numbers, post the URL of the source. It's nice to be able to go back and see it from the original source. But, thanks for posting!

These are initial claims saved from each weeks release.

In the week ending March 7, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 654,000, an increase of 9,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 645,000. The 4-week moving average was 650,000, an increase of 6,750 from the previous week's revised average of 643,250.

The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending Feb. 28 was 5,317,000, an increase of 193,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 5,124,000. The 4-week moving average was 5,139,750, an increase of 124,250 from the preceding week's revised average of 5,015,500.

Read it here

Here is a website for seasonally adjusted and unadjusted initial and continued claims along with revised data thru 14 Feb.


select the year/s


"Sachs Supports GM Bailout, Says Combustion Engine Dead"


"Janera hosts a discussion on new forms of capitalism with Jeffrey Sachs, the Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and author of The End of Poverty, and Matthew Bishop, the New York Bureau Chief of The Economist and co-author of Philanthrocapitalism."

Once you become resigned to being an "observer," as Darwinian says (or, as the Gospel of Thomas puts it, a "passerby"), such statements as the following begin to look fascinating:

Driven by high demand growth, there is a fear of imminent shortage — that the world will begin to run out of oil.

Such a shortage could be amplified by the substantial and growing demand from the two Asian giants, China and India.
. . .

There is another oil juggernaut worth watching.

In February 2007, Korea National Oil Corporation (KNOC) announced the discovery of a major oilfield in the Wakam Block, offshore of Papua. The field, which KNOC claims contains 671 million barrels, would add substantially to Indonesia’s oil output volume if reserves are proven.

. . .

Yergin argues that cycles of shortage and surplus characterize the entire history of the oil industry. The world has “run out of oil” before — to be exact, five times.

(from "The oil cycle: The wheels are turning again" link above.)

Like those that continually and mistakenly believe that evolution means "humans come from monkeys" and "organisms were constructed by random chance," the quoted statements reveal something like an innate flaw in human comprehension, as if the majority view will never comprehend the difference between "maximum flow rate" and "running out," or the difference between "oil reserve in the earth" and "rate at which extraction might grow."

Now I know what William James meant by "a mind debauched by learning to carry the process of making the natural seem strange," and while he was referring to "ask[ing] for the why of any instinctive human act," it seems to apply to asking the why of any understanding of human thinking.

Even more absurd, it's 9 days of world oil supply, or maybe a daily avg (over 20 years) of 91,000 barrels.

We're saved!!!!

I tried to get up earlier to post this because i want to use what happened to me in the past few weeks as a warning to everyone here and not have it burred under a Ton of junk.

Two weeks ago today something happened, either a; pop, tear, or a rip. Happened in my head and revealed to me that i had a golf ball sized noncancerous Pituitary tumor which had symptoms that i had thought was minor sinus issues until this had happened. It floored me for the weekend until the hospital finally admitted me two er and one doctor's visit later. As a result of this ALL the preparations i made up to this point have become meaningless since i no longer have a functioning Pituitary gland in my head and can't function without the replacement hormones i now need.

I want all of you, young and old to get a through checkout medically as FIRST priority in any preparations you make. I read all the time here how people are buying land, teaching themselves how to grow food and get clean water among other things, Something like this could make all those things you bought worthless. So before you start dropping cash into stuff like that, spend a few thousand and get a complete head to toe checkup, or max out your health insurance at your job to do the same. Otherwise you might end up with a whole lot of preparation yet it's worthless to you because a until that time a medical condition that you thought you don't have might make it's self known and now all you worked hard for is worthless because you will be dead without meds you now need.

I now know i should have no illusions about survival, for me it's death once i can't get the meds now.

Best wishes for you.

I've lived with my (doomer) partner for twenty-five years. He is completely insulin-dependent.

I had a similar wakeup call last year - my left carotid artery split open, "healed" itself shut, and now I'm unable to do anything remotely strenuous. My "lifestyle" out here on the farm went up in smoke, along with all my plans.

If you want to hear God laugh, tell Her your plans ;-)

No warning - totally out of the blue. A real lesson in the capriciousness of the real world.

At least I'm not on any meds...

TrueKaiser, you have my heartfelt condolences.

Millions of people are alive today only because of their meds. I only take one heartburn medication but my wife would be dead in a week without her medication. That is also true for every diabetic on insulin. There are many other ailments that require daily medication to avoid the grim reaper. So we just have to hope for business as usual for several years to come, at least as far as medical care is concerned.

Best wishes.


Thank you, Life does have a funny all be it grim way of knocking over everyone's best made plans. So far it's been part disappointment and part relief, disappointment because i will not be able to see the beginning of how things will work out. the relief because the burden of trying to survive will also be gone. As it stands right now i am dependent on drugs for cortosol and thyorid. All i can do now is look at what's coming academically and try to keep access to the meds i need.

From what i understand at the moment at the very most it's about a decade till i will lose access to the meds i need. Shorter if a major war breaks out, at least my medical condition will keep me from being drafted.

Sorry to hear of your problems.
One thing you might want to do is start looking very closely at what the shelf life of your meds are and if there is some way (refrigeration/freezing, etc...) to extend the shelf life and then setup a buying and rotation plan to maximize the amount of meds you can keep on hand so you can cover those times when it might be hard to get what you need for a short time (natural disaster, transportation problems, etc...). Extra meds, clothing, food, water, etc... are all good things to keep as much on hand as possible. And do be aware that the "shelf life" the meds companies list and the real world "shelf life" may be vastly different! May take a good bit of research to get and verify all the data needed to make your decisions.

Growing old one runs up against the same wall. You can have lots of dead trees for firewood, but if your body won't let you run a chainsaw or splitter and haul & stack the wood, well ---- your are stuck with electricity, nat gas or propane as about your only heating sources. Invest in stock or CD's and the investment is tax free, but invest in insulation and there is a big investment tax penalty - every year you own the insulation investment. It's called "Property Tax" increases due to your property being "worth more" now that you have invested in insulation.
And there are no meds preventing growing old.
Everybody out there please take care of your body. It's the only one you are going to have.

Yep, file this under crap happens...

Wife was going to school to be a nurse, and had one year left of school (she was 29 years old and a nonsmoker)... Had a 'cold' that wouldn't go away. A horrible, hacking, nasty cold. She went to the doctor, and he thought it was pneumonia, and sent her home with some anitbiotics and asked her to wait.

It didn't go away, and she went back. Another doctor thought it was viral pneumonia, and told her to rest for a bit.

Still didn't go away... She kept going back to doctors. They thought it could have been a fungal infection, so they tested her. Not a fungal infection...

Then, they thought it was sarcoidosis, which is an inflammatory disease that is known to stike young people. A pulmonologist did a lung biopsy.

He didn't find sarcoidosis- he found advanced lung cancer.

She 'survived' for a year after that, although I use that term loosely- she had a lung removed, had nearly continuous chemo, and radiation to boot.

She got her nursing degree last summer, and passed away 2 months later, at age 30.

I guess the take away of my story is that if you are sick, and the doctor can't fix it, keep going back.

And yes, the most well laid plans can and do blow up in your face...

:( How'd she get lung cancer at 29 whilst being a non-smoker?


:( How'd she get lung cancer at 29 whilst being a non-smoker?

It happens. It's a often a case of hit and miss.

I'm not a medical doctor but I've visited many people with lung cancer.

Smoking is a contributing factor but is not the only factor. Cancer is an immune system disorder and there are many carcinogens in our environment that can trigger uninhibited cell replication.

Also, lung cancer is often secondary even among smokers. The lungs are a vulnerable hot spot to tumors metastasizing in other organs.

Contrary to some wishful thinking, eliminating tobacco smoking is not going to eliminate the risk of lung cancer.

Similar case. they have no idea what caused it to start to grow, bad gene's, exposure to something in the environment etc. they just know it happened, i was just a rare case because they said it very very rarely gets that big(golf ball sized) before being noticed. As one of my doctor's and my mother put it, crap like this is just the cost to pay to constantly live in a environment exposed to man made chemicals and substances we do not yet fully understand. I just wish it did not happen but it did.

I just wish it did not happen but it did.

Hear you, brother. It is what is it is. Keep pluggin'. It's all any of us can do.

:( How'd she get lung cancer at 29 whilst being a non-smoker?

That is a damned good question that her family asks. Her grandparents both died of lung cancer in their fifties, which in itself is young... Genetics maybe? And she smoked in high school as well; in fact, when I met her (we were 19 years old) I conviced her to stop smoking... So, maybe environment pays into account here.

It does happen, but the risk of a female getting lung cancer at that age is about 1 in 100,000. But, someone has to be that 1....

I recall reading that decades ago, smoking was a predominately a male activity. After WW II or thereabout, women began to smoke. Lung cancer was once rarely seen in women, but lung cancer rates in women have increased to about that in men as a result of smoking. The health effects of smoking can be delayed for decades and thus it may indeed be that your wife's unfortunate illness was smoking related. We are all saddened by your loss...

Here's something from the American Lung Association... The fact that women rarely suffered from lung cancer before they began to smoke like men but now women do exhibit cancer rates similar to men is a rather strong indication that smoking causes lung cancers, as well as other diseases.

E. Swanson

TK - so sorry to hear that. Things like this are horrible in the best of times, but I can't imagine the stress at a time like this.

I think you are right, we all need to take our health seriously. No amount of sitting in front of the computer typing on TOD will help, we are each at the mercy of our health, and should do whatever it takes to keep them in top shape. This means good diet, exercise, and regular checkups.

I wish you the best, and hope that you are able to access your meds, no matter what happens.

TrueKaiser, ditto to all the heartfelt sentiments expressed. May you continue on the road to recovery and may your supply of hormones last you throughout a long lifespan.

Your situation raises much to think about. It is one thing to be glib about the demise of global trade and a modern lifestyle built on fossil fuels. But many of us here realize the collapse of mega-systems will affect us personally. It's no longer a theoretical proposition, like when we're young and robust and healthy, but downright scary when we become dependent on such systems for our day to day survival.

I can speak only of the medical system in Canada, but it is undergoing tremendous strain owing to soaring (i.e. increasing exponentially) procedural, pharmaceutical, and personnel costs. Heaven knows what the latest round of harsh economic conditions will do to an already vulnerable system.

I don't see too many soft landings ahead. All we can do is hope for the best and prepare, as much as we can in advance, for the worst.

Thanks again for your story. All the best.

Sorry to hear about you predicament. I've been on the hunt for medical insurance, as I realized that even though I may be happy and healthy now, that unexpected events do occur, and racking up $100,000 in medical bills because some inattentive driver hits me while I'm on my motorcycle (or in my car) and it turns out they don't have enough insurance to pay for the bills... (Or maybe I screw up and have an accident without anybody else involved.. I fall off the ladder working on my house, who knows.) Or it might be health related.

Type 2 diabetes is a possibility within my family, so I need to watch my weight too...

Wishing you well.


I found this list the old fashioned way: Lost a wife to glioblastomamultiforme.

Best wishes.

This is why I think people on this board in their 60s who are making all these survival plans are just being silly. I'm almost 50 and in pretty good health and I have started a small farm. I enjoy the lifestyle. But in a collapse without my meds for cholesterol (thanks mom, dad) my arteries would probably clog in a few years or my blood pressure would shoot up from all the stress and I'd be dead of a massive coronary if I wasn't murdered or freeze or starve to death. But we have a biological imperative to survive don't we?

I wouldn't say "silly", but for sure most people don't quite understand what it takes to do things like make your own firewood and grow some of your own food. I am in my 50's, and was chugging along nicely until last Fall, when my carotid artery fell apart.

Now I'm rethinking things a bit :-)

Yea looking at it now it is, Right now i am hoping i can enjoy whats left of my health and life as long as i can have access to my meds now. I can still keep a ear to the ground to see whats up, heck it's probably needed for me to keep access to my meds. Right now first thing is first is rest, let the wounds heal and the body adjust to the new regime then look to see what i can do to stay alive as long as i can.

I'm so sorry to hear about your tumor, Truekaiser. I've developed a thyroid issue in the past 2 years and am completely dependent on meds to fuction for thryoid.

All I can say is that there are a lot of humans who are dependent on some meds for living and we'll all be in similar boats as yours.

TrueKaiser enjoy your life, we only get one chance at it.

Like you I had brain surgery 4 weeks ago ... the wound has almost healed now ... I still haven't been told by the UK health service whether it was malignant or not but the Government have taken my driving licence away for at least a year because of the removal of a benign tumour ... for once I believe the Government!

I went from seeing a neurologist for feedback from an MRI scan looking for trapped nerves in my neck, to seeing a brain surgeon, to being in the car park in about 5 minutes ... and having the tumour removed in three weeks ... and being in hospital just 3 days ... unbelievable technology ... and all free at the point of use!

I am Mr. Lucky ... and at present no medication required ... Phew!

No disrespect to TrueKaiser, and all, but... shh! Don't tell stories about working health systems to Americans! They'll go nuts!

More serious: On the general topic of what to do when you can't do it yourself anymore -- has anyone thought about trying to find an apprentice? - Some-one who'll cut the firewood, harvest the fruit, etc in exchange for board and learning?

It's ok i long ago understood the system here in the united states is pretty fscked up, the two er visit's alone have nearly hit 10k and i am looking at possibly 300k for the procedure. united health care is bitching because i am still under their hra plan via corba. the hospital knows they can't get blood from a turnip/stone, i might get lucky and be some the few cases every year this hospital forgives debts on certain people that down't pay. heck i have been told by the doctor's there that even though by law they are supposed to throw out and refuse care to illegial's they choose to 'ignore' that law to help people. If all i can pay is a couple hundred a month, thats all they are going to get.

If you have cobra, UHC should pay. Why would they not?

I mean, my experience is they (like most others) deny every claim about three times, but you can eventually get them to pay.

because i used the healthcare they gave while i worked for their mail order rx part of their company and the only one that turned a profit before i was let go. when i tried to get cobra over the phone i got the run around and then them flat out lying that a person who worked for said part of the company is not eligible for corba. even though they told their employee's there that they are eligible.

With the recent unemployment legislation you could we be covered retroactively, as they cover cobra and re-open the sign-up window. If you were listed as unemployed, or so I hear.

For the original coverage, if you had coverage and they did not send you the original eligibility paper work in the mail and at your departure I think they may be breaking regulations as well. At least, at my last two employers I was given clear written notification at my exit and a reminder again in the mail a few months later.

I am sure somebody more knowledgeable than I will weigh in here, though.

I despise the big health insurers as much as the credit card companies. Both make a business out of chewing up the disadvantaged.

All the best wishes for a good stabilization on your meds.

Thank you, it's not that easy cause your body goes out of wack. the cortosol replacement causes poor sleep and increased hunger. thyroid replacement can do the same on the hunger. Once those two are done i will have to have testosterone re-introduced to prevent other health problems to crop up too early.

After that i will have to manually control my cortosol level's since the pituitary gland used to do that automatically, increasing it in times of stress(illness and injury).

Sorry to hear that, True Kaiser.

FWIW, I think this is a bigger issue than most people realize. Even the young and healthy can suffer unexpected illnesses and accidents. Access to healthcare matters...especially if transportation becomes difficult. Lots of people say "Just shoot me or put me out an iceberg"...but when they actually get sick, they want treatment.

yea, i am 27 and i did not expect something like this to happen. my mother is nearly 60 and she is on thyroid meds, never thought i would be on them too at half her age :P

Along with today's news of Madoff's guilty plea, CNN has video snapshots of several of his victims who have lost practically everything. Ignoring the obvious conumdrum as to how people smart enough to become multi-millionaires could have also been so poorly diversified as to have placed all their eggs in one basket, I very much share the cynicsm of some of the victims:

Madoff investor Ronnie Sue Ambrosino has little confidence any justice will come from Bernard Madoff pleading guilty...


Ambrosino adds that:

The only thing I would like to know...is who else is involved and where is my money.

What are the chances of that happening? I think fairly remote. To pull off a scam of this magnitude, Madoff had to of operated in a protected environment, with a web of contacts and accomplices that extended its tentacles, like a huge octopus, througout Washington and Wall Street. Many powerful people, both in politics and finance, played along.

I'm extremely skeptical that this plea-bargain might be part of a huge coverup. This case required a trial so that all the dead bodies could be dug up and given a public viewing. But clearly we are not going to get that.

It has been clearly reported that there was no deal, or "plea-bargain" and the Judge in the case has been specifically quoted as saying there was none.

Hope he gets a former customer as a bunk-mate. He could get some of what he dished out, metaphorically speaking.

woodychuck -

While there may not be a formal 'plea bargain' in the literal legal sense, my suspicion is that there might be some sort of informal 'understanding' as to what the prosecutors will do and not do and where they will go and not go.

Nor is it beyond the realm of possibility that some very influential people in high places have made it known that it might be to everyone's (except the investors, of course) best interest to contain the scope of further criminal investigation. Such investigations are ongoing, and will still probably net some more indictments, but it may stay clear of some of the 'enablers' in the regulatory community, as certain revelations might turn out to be highly embarrassing to the government. Think Warren Commission and 9/11 Commission.

One question that intrigues me is: Where did all that money really GO? While it is probably true that a large fraction of the supposed $50 -60 billion lost consisted of paper losses resulting from fraudulently stated investment appreciation rather than from a loss of the actual money initially invested, we are still talking mucho dinero here. Say it was 'only' $20 billion of actual investment money that was lost, then where DID it go? One can only buy so many mansions, so many yachts, so many Ferraris, and so much art and still not make much of a dent in a sum as large as $20 billion. It didn't just evaporate into thin air, and most of it has to be around SOMEWHERE.

Could this scam have involved not only Madoff and crew, but also foreign organized crime? And could much of the lost money now comfortably reside in foreign banks with the full knowledge of the host government, perhaps such as a small Middle Eastern country with strong ties to the US? The Madoff affair appears to have the potential for becoming quite murky, and has all the makings for an international suspense thriller.

I think we have only scratched the surface.

It's a Ponzi scheme, so didn't some of that money go to previous investors? There must have been some investors who got back more from Madoff than they put in.

Consumer -

True, at least some of it most likely did flow back to the earlier investors, and that raises an interesting legal question. Can the 'profits' that the earlier investors received be deemed tainted money, being the profits from a criminal enterprise, and thus be subject to confiscation or some other form of total or partial recovery?

Secondary question: Can the later investors who lost everything have a valid case in trying to sue the earlier investors, claiming that the latter's profits were stolen money that really belongs to the later investors?

Any lawyers out there? Anybody?

Yes I do believe that there are clawback laws that allow TPTB to take back money from investory who cashed in earlier. Maybe they saw the writing on the wall - but if they cashed out inside a certain time frame - I think its 6 months then their money can be confiscated...

I cant find the link but I think I read about it in a Slate.com article recently

One of the shows with financial wizards at the helm said that "clawback" law was being looked into, but we know how accurate they are. Of course, since the roster of losers was so long, I would imagine that some several of his new 'aquaintances-to-be' will be closely aligned to folks who took a beating at Madoff's hands. Maybe they can discuss that over some fine wine or cognac with their cigars.

Most probably just had their dividends reinvested.

But the rate of return was so high they probably left the interest with him ... why put it somewhere else to earn less interest?

I have learned a valuble lesson here ... not that my savings get much interest any more!

Diverisify your savings, and maybe that includes removal of the interest paid out.

If you consider how many lives he ruined, I don't think there should be any possibility of this guy ever getting out of prison, although it's going to happen. I don't think that there's any reason why characters like this shouldn't get some retribution dished out by a cell-mate or otherwise, but I doubt it will happen.

The safest place for a guy like Mr. Madoff for the public is in solitary, he could easily become the Dean of the College of Con-Artistry in Leavenworth or some other prison like Club Fed, all the American people need is for this guy to be able to spread his knowledge and methods around. Nothing would make me happier than to find out that he met his end at the point of a sharpened toothbrush, however he fooled many, even those who were his friends for years. This guy, sort of taking him out back and shooting him, should be kept in a place where his ideas and methods will die with him.

...could have also been so poorly diversified as to have placed all their eggs in one basket...

Although most of us hear a lot about diversification, it can take a lot of work to actually do it. Most every one's work 401k's are held with one firm like Wachovia or some other big bank. When I was working I found that almost every fund I was permited to invest in (through the work sponsored 401k) had deep exposure to CDO's and all other kind of mortgage nonsense. I saw this 2 years ago, yet could do little other than move a lot of it to money market accounts (which - guess what, were also exposed to this disease). I bet for most employed people, the ability to diversify is very slight for funds tied to work 401k's and such. Other investments can be diversified, if you have any, but good luck finding that safe mattress ;-)

My understanding of the law is that when you plead guilty you need to satisfy the court as to the validity of your plea.

This requires that you describe how you performed the alleged act and your description has to square with the known evidence.

It is impossible for Madoff to have pulled this off on his own.

I think that talking is a condition of a plea bargain. Madoff plead guilty to all counts. If he refuses to talk, what can they do to him?

It's pretty clear, IMO, that he is pleading guilty to all counts to avoid implicating his coconspirators.

westexas -

Perhaps subject him to 'enhanced interrogation techniques', such water boarding?

After all, we have several Bush Administration expert legal opinions that it is not really torture. So no problemo.

Perhaps we could have a few of the Bush Admin interrogation specialists join him in the maximum security facility - he goes there if the sentence is more than 25 years according to CBS report this evening. Take care of two birds with one stone (wall).

The legal system will probably waste another $100 million to finish the court case.
No need for him to talk any more. Just go ahead and put him in jail for life.

I thought that the juxtaposition of these two statements in this article was telling:

Madoff implicated no one else, though investigators suspect relatives and top lieutenants may have been in on the scheme.

In Washington, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said: "The president is glad that swift justice will happen."


It may also be that he feels he will be safer in prison than out, strange as that might sound. There are likely to be many amongst the 4,800 he is said to have swindled that want him dead. He might still try to bargain for a place in the sun, so to speak, such as Club Fed (which Eglin Federal Prison used to be nicknamed). And, his wife might not be pulled into the mess now that he has claimed guilt, although that issue might still be twisting in the wind.

E. Swanson

And, his wife might not be pulled into the mess now...

She's claiming $69 million in assets that are "separate from her husband's" including:

$7 million apartment in Manhattan

$9.4 million mansion in Palm Beach

$17 million in cash

$45 million in bonds

(strange that the listed assets add up to more than $69 million)


You'll forgive me if I don't lose too much sleep over ole Bernie. From what I've read, he ripped off 3800 people for about $60 Billion - If I did my math right that means the average investor had some $15 million in his fund. This just sounds like the moneyed class eating it's own.

Many of the investors were charities.

You know, if we keep talking about Daniel Yergin, it's just going to encourage him..

He needs no encouragement, and if he listens to / reads TOD, he ignores it. We do not even have the impact of a West African butterfly on him.

As the State of Maine consults with Bangor Hydro about creating underground HVDC grid connections along Transport Corridors in our state, this article touts some positives.


HVDC links should be built to link rich renewable resources to distant population centers. Solar thermal plants in the Sahara desert and the hydroelectric resources of Scandinavia could power all of Europe. The current system of importing energy through pipelines, trains and tanker ships should be replaced by clean, efficient HVDC power links. An excellent movie on the subject by GINI is called "There is no energy crisis; there is a crisis of ignorance"

HVDC connection losses are only about 3% per 1000 km plus 1.5% for two voltage converters. This is much more efficient than conventional transportation. In fact HVDC can be often be justified because it is cheaper than building a pipeline to bring in gas to run power plants. Electric motor efficiencies are typically above 90% while fossil fuel engines are usually under 30% so it is more economical to ship electricity than fuel. 80% of rail shipping in the U.S. is for transporting fuel.

While I'd think these lines' exposure to trouble would be less if along rail corridors than highway, what other negatives do you all here think challenges this proposal? Is replacability better or worse? How about locating faults?


80% of rail shipping in the U.S. is for transporting fuel.

Wow, that's a revealing number. I'm sure a lot of that is for the transportation of coal. Imagine if our other products were shipped by rail instead of trucks using capacity left behind by a reduction in coal shipments... A person can dream, right?

Not 80% according to this data.


54% without chemicals and and about 64% if chemicals are included.

Re: Science Back Into EPA Assessment of Climate Change Threat

This leaked EPA Draft Report was also mentioned on the NYT site yesterday.

Quickly scanning the Draft Report, I see little new information. The Report tends to quote from previous documents from the IPCC and the CCSP, along with comments from a few of the latest scientific reports. The section dealing with Abrupt Change (beginning on page 73) references the CCSP report on the same subject (Clark et al. (2008)), which downplays the possibility of changes in ocean circulation. Thus, the Draft Report presents a continuation of the line of thinking established by the Bush Administration. I think this is a flawed approach, as we know that there's a major difference between the models and actual climate changes in the Arctic, as seen in the rapid decline in minimum sea-ice extent over the past few years (see EPA Draft Figure 4.6).

There have been recent reports that suggest Arctic sea-ice may completely melt as soon as 2013. The EPA Draft Report makes no mention of this possibility or what impacts it might have on the U.S. or world climate in general. I think that's a major error on their part.

E. Swanson

Oil industry helicopter carrying 18 crashes into Atlantic Ocean
A helicopter carrying 18 people working in the oil industry off Newfoundland's east coast crashed into the ocean Thursday, and one survivor has been flown to hospital in St. John's.

Crew aboard Cougar 911 were largely working at the White Rose offshore oilfield, southeast of St. John's. Two were stationed at the nearby Hibernia platform.

Thanks Zadok.

Don't know what happened to my link:

Not a problem BOP. We've got both networks covered now. BBC is covering it, too:

Living near the Atlantic Coast, the tragedy of the Ocean Ranger is still fresh in many people's minds despite the passage of more than a quarter century. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_Ranger

Difference this time around is scope. Seventeen people as opposed to 84 fatalities. Still, anyone who thinks working off-shore on oil-platforms is not dangerous is delusional.

Another price we pay for oil.


I was in the industry at the time of the Ocean Ranger

The Royal Commission report was incomplete. And for a reason.

The price we pay for oil is much larger than we know.

The Royal Commission report was incomplete. And for a reason.

The price we pay for oil is much larger than we know.

Without putting you on the spot, BOP, can you elaborate? What in your opinion was left out of the original Royal Commission's findings?

Since I am aware that people who worked in the industry may be under legal obligation to disclose observations with evidence, I am asking for your opinion only. Sounds to me like there is a story here.

On a campus interested in deploying solar?

If so, consider joining the national Solar College Initiative. Details and survey to join are at:


We are choosing 20 pilot campuses to work with this Spring from ~150 that have shown interest.

Onwards to sustainability,



The SCI sounds exciting.

I am curious, though, what's your involvement with the initiative? Are you on the panel that gets to decide who tries out for the pilots?

If so, you're the man to know.

Good luck and Godspeed. Cheers!



I'm one of the folks determining which campuses will be in the original 20. It should be a great learning experience for our team and we'll take what we learn to a big roll-out in the Fall to hundreds of campuses! We'll see how much solar we're able to deploy in '09-'10. Please let us know if you'd like to partner with our initiative and Sustainable Energy Transition (SET).




Is there funding support for solar installation as part of your program, or is it more of a collaborative-purchase effort by campuses who already have a funded project?

Do you have a target price-per-watt you expect to achieve?

RE: Federal Climate Change Research Program Should Realign Focus To Both Understand Climate Change and Inform Response Strategies

Although global warming may in fact be an issue, the other issue at hand is cooling. What is our real issue and where does action lie?


Can both be valid issues of concern that warrant global responses?

Hope you're not sending your money to Mr. Casey.

Greetings enviromanic.
Welcome to TOD. Perhaps you have been a "long time listener, first time poster", but in the event that you are not, and have not been following the discussions on TOD since, say, 2007, I highly recommend spending more than a little time sifting through the archives to review key posts on topics like climate change. While this is an energy-based discussion, there are numerous threads that address the planet's climate as fossil fuel use and the climate are intertwined. You will note that there is a search box on the left hand side. This site is literally jam-packed with exploratory ideas and factual information concerning our shared energy dilemma (as well as more than a few posts about climate).

Personally, I enjoy Drumbeat comments that are supported by relevant facts in the post and/or links to reputable sources that give new and insightful information. I occasionally veer off that path myself, so I am no angel, but I do find comments like those above (links to sketchy "back yard" websites that claim to "revolutionize" all that we know about any given topic) of minimal value. These are a dime a dozen (increase your mileage 20% with my potion! New magical energy source eliminates our need for fossil fuels! Soylent Green: It's good for you!).

In addition, formatting to hog up white space adds little to the discussion. At the other end, few people will read through a multiparagraph post that has no paragraph formatting.

Good luck on your learning adventures!

Wait a minute! Are you saying Soylent Green isn't good for me?

Cheap plug for the original - Harry Harrison's "Make Room, Make Room."

Global cooling is at the very bottom of my long list of worries.

Why isn't Zimbabwe a rich place?

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) -- The United States faces a Zimbabwe-style economic collapse if it keeps "spending a bunch of money we don't have," South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford said Wednesday. South Carolina Mark Sanford says he does not want to spend money that his state doesn't have.

Sanford, a Republican, has been an outspoken critic of the Obama administration's $800 billion stimulus plan. He said he'll turn down about a quarter of his state's $2.8 billion share unless Washington lets him use that money to pay down debt.

"What you're doing is buying into the notion that if we just print some more money that we don't have and send it to different states, we'll create jobs," he said. "If that's the case, why isn't Zimbabwe a rich place?"

Wow. That's some pretty shallow analysis on the Governor's part.
Here's a decent overview of Zimbabwe and its problems:

Yeah, he should have said "Argentina".

Sanford is committing the cardinal sin of comparing things that are different which I have ranted against for a long time. There is very little about Zimbabwe and the United States that is even remotely comparable.

Zimbabwe elections are a joke. Mugabe confiscated property and redistributed it to incompetents. There is not even a semblance of the rule of law. Mugabe's army thugs do pretty much as they please.

That Sanford would make this comparison shows how little respect he has for logic or that he is completely unaware of what he is doing. Either way Sanford is not acting in the best interest of the citizens of South Carolina which I understand has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.

Hopefully, his bizarre idea of using the money to pay off debt while the people suffer unemployment will be defeated. But who knows? Very strange ideas keep coming out of prominent Republicans lately and it is hard for me to tell if they are serious or joking.

I'm beginning to think that Republican losses in the last election have pushed them over the edge. They didn't have a very good grasp on reality before and now they have lost it completely.

Z problems had little to do with government or the farms -- the reason their economy fell apart was the high rate of HIV infections. The US would also fall apart if our life-expectancy dropped by over 50% in a decade.

Sayeth the Republicans who financed two wars with tax cuts.


The Looting of America’s Coffers

“If you think of the financial system as a whole,” Mr. Romer said, “it actually has an incentive to trigger the rare occasions in which tens or hundreds of billions of dollars come flowing out of the Treasury.”

... confirmation from main-stream economists that Thorstein Veblen was right: "entrepreneurs" make their money by disrupting the normal operation of the system.

Toplink: "OPEC February Production Down 28.07 MMbopd"

LOL! That would be real news. I think they mean "... down to 28.07MMbpd"

Well, Cramer is in party mode tonight. He says the consumers are back to spending...because of lower gas prices.

I'm torn. On one hand I hope he's right, as consumer spending coupled with bailouts might give me personally a longer window to prepare. On the other every day gives the gamblers a chance to unload on the unsuspecting in a new and novel way, and will only worsen the coming collapse.

I got a letter from a (paid off) credit card upping my rates. I promptly canceled it. Today I got a letter saying the change was a mistake and if I'd canceled my card I could re-open the account and have the old rates back.

Still no reduced limits yet. For some reason I haven't hit that filter.

Will the US land on top of the pile ?

If "everyone" is collapsing economically, will capital continue to flow mostly to the US ? Will that give the US an advantage for resource aquisition?

Do we need to "re-invent collapse" again?

Act now or we're doomed: Satyajit Das

"...the major developed nations, like the United States, Great Britain and so forth have to raise somewhere between US$3-trillion and US$4-trillion.

The US alone has to raise US$2-trillion, and they have never raised more than about 500,000, a billion dollars, so that's four times their normal borrowing need. They're squeezing everybody else out of the market..."

(eighth link down)

We will probably see a decent bear market rally in Das' "epic" bear for a good bit of '09, but I'm not sure yet if it's starting with the rally of the last 3 days. There are many good TA indicators saying yes, but then there's this:

The points plotted are when the extremes of these two reliable indicators both go beyond certain points. They tend to indicate market tops. Until the problematic downward curve pattern is broken, I won't feel safe getting back into the water.

I've never seen TA with a Put/Call ratio plot superimposed over the regular chart, as you have done. Is there any historical data behind this 'indicator'??? It looks interesting.

As for the US being the economy-of-last-resort, I'm not talking about current bear market rallies (or headfakes, which ever the case may be this bounce).

I'm talking about over the next few years. If capital for government bonds is decreasing while issuance by the US continues to increase, and the US continues to be the "refuge of last resort" for investors in a dying world economy, will this result in a relatively stronger US?

Will the US get greater access to world commodities (esp. oil) as a result?

Will the collapse of the US be cancelled, postponed, or at least be cushioned by the lack of competition in the bond market?

Badly managed corporations that just happen to be lucky might continue to survive in spite of the bad management -- but they never do all THAT well. Survival, not success.

The same thing applies to countries. The USA is and has been badly managed for decades now. That is not a recipe for success. Yes, we have been lucky enough to have some special advantages that most other countries don't have, that provides us with some extra cushion. It does not neutralize the consequences of spectaculary bad management, though.

Oil spikes on rumors of Russian oil cuts

NEW YORK (AP) — Oil prices spiked 11 percent Thursday as rumors swirled that Russia would join OPEC in slashing crude production. Benchmark crude for April delivery rose $4.77 to $47.10 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent prices gained $3.13 to $44.53 on the ICE Futures exchange. Analyst and trader Stephen Schork said investors latched onto reports that Russian officials would join OPEC ministers at its meeting Sunday in Vienna. The move may signal that Russia would join other crude producers in squeezing off production to balance weakening global demand.

"There's just a bunch of guessing right now," analyst and trader Stephen Schork said. "A lot of people think it's time for commodities to start rallying."

Mildly ironic that we saw almost a $5 increase in oil prices at about the 10 year anniversary of the March, 1999 Economist Magazine with $5 Oil on the cover:


Yet here is a thought: $10 might actually be too optimistic. We may be
heading for $5. Thanks to new technology and productivity gains, you
might expect the price of oil, like that of most other commodities, to
fall slowly over the years. Judging by the oil market in the pre-OPEC
era, a "normal" market price might now be in the $5-10 range. Factor in
the current slow growth of the world economy and the normal price drops
to the bottom of that range.

"Carbon tax only way to keep planet cool: Hansen

COPENHAGEN (AFP) — Greenhouse gas emissions must be cut more quickly and deeply than thought only two years ago to avoid dire consequences, and a straight-up carbon tax is the only realistic way to do it, top climate scientist James Hansen said in an interview."

Introducing a tax on carbon emissions will only serve to create oligopolies (in all sorts of industries) that can afford to pay the tax and make a profit. When you introduce a new fixed cost, you're going to make it more difficult for competition to enter and gain market share (lower costs) so you'll end up with a select number, around 3, of main competitors who dominate the market. With the population growing at the numbers it is, there really is no "creative" way of beating global warming. The only answer to the global warming issue is for all of us to stop living the way we do and stop waiting for the Chinese to change the way they live.

I've not paid much attention to the carbon tax hoopla, but what you are saying makes sense to me.


I agree, carbon credits are, as has been said before, indulgences. They also open the door for huge fraud and the next bubble. Unfortunately, I also have not seen a clear and consistent method by which these carbon taxes might be applied and I suspect that they could equally be vehicles of huge fraud like CDOs, CDSs etc. without a rigid and regulated exchange mechanism.

With the present economic climate, any mechanism will likely, and justifiably, be viewed with distrust so the exchange needs to be above question.

It is not a Mexican stand-off, i.e. who blinks first, but a rational approach to the problem. If China and India do not follow suit then they will eventually realize their folly. If they do not, either more aware countries will take drastic action or we will all share in our collective errors.

Unfortunately, I see many of the smallest countries being the most responsible.

BTW, shoot me an email (address in profile), I would like to continue our previous discussion, but I think it is outside TOD's focus and could be quite long. :-)


John Stewart is the best news commentator in the USA (what does that say about the USA MSM)-he tears Cramer a new one and basically says everything the Fearless Leader isn't allowed to say-I realize he is a big Obama supporter but I would love for him to have the big guy on the show and give him the same working over-it is high time.