DrumBeat: March 13, 2009

America's vanishing cars - Through recessions and gas shocks, the number of autos on the road every year has increased since the end of WWII. Until now.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- In another sign of just how far the U.S. auto industry has fallen, this is likely to be the first year since 1945 when the number of new cars bought will be less than the number of cars turned in to the junk yard.

Auto industry research firm R.L. Polk is forecasting a drop in total auto registrations for the first time since car plants were busy turning out tanks for World War II. This time it's economic distress and tight credit keeping purchases down.

Is Peak Oil Almost Here?

To a geologist, gauging how much coal the world has left to burn is a fairly straightforward, if daunting, business. Millions upon millions of drill holes have revealed where the coal is. So geologists can just evaluate each seam's quality and the cost of extraction. Add up all the coal worth mining and you've got lots and lots--within the United States, a century or even two of U.S. consumption; globally, 150 years' worth for the world.

But there's another, emerging approach to assessing coal resources that yields more sobering results. Rather than go into the field, these analysts go to the record books to see how fast miners have been producing coal of late. By fitting curves to that production history, they come up with a number for the total amount of coal that will ever be mined and a date for the greatest production, the time of "peak coal," after which production inevitably declines.

Number of active oil rigs drops by 44

HOUSTON — The number of rigs actively exploring for oil and natural gas in the United States dropped by 44 this week to 1,126, as weak energy demand continues to hamper oilfield activity.

Of the rigs running nationwide, 884 were exploring for natural gas and 228 for oil, Houston-based Baker Hughes Inc. reported Friday. A total of 14 were listed as miscellaneous.

North Sea firms plead for help to beat crisis

Oil and gas companies last night urged the UK Government to deliver them a Budget boost of tax reliefs – as they revealed the collapse of bank lending to smaller firms is threatening developments in the North Sea.

OPEC Faces Tough Choice On Production Cut

(CBS/AP) Slash oil output to boost revenues but risk deepening the world's economic woes? Rarely have OPEC oil ministers faced a tougher choice.

Canada: Auto makers push for higher-quality fuel

In January, 2008, the federal government first indicated plans to revise fuel consumption regulations for new vehicles. At the time, the U.S. government was going down the same road. Our emission, fuel economy and safety regulations have been in lockstep with the Americans because the same vehicles are either built in or sold in both countries, so the tighter standards made sense.

Hydrogen highway on track: Lekstrom

A plan to build a so-called "hydrogen highway" from B.C. to Baja is more than just hot air.

B.C. Energy Minister Blair Lekstrom said the project is on-track for 2010. "Everything looks very favourable to meet that time frame," Lekstrom said yesterday. "Things are progressing at a very good pace." The $89-million highway will allow hydrogen-powered vehicles to drive from California to Whistler, with hydrogen refuelling stops along the way.

Global warming vs. unemployment

Congress is gearing up for another run at a cap-and-trade law and opponents say it will cost too many jobs. Are they right?

Colorado, hyper-population, peak oil, energy: perfect storm

Each year, Colorado adds 100,000 people, net gain. In the past 15 years, an amazing 1.5 million people added themselves to this state. Nationally, the USA added 45 million in those scant 15 years. But no matter how many warning signs facing this country, no one will touch the issue of hyper-population growth.

Why? Because it’s caused by the sacred cow of legal and illegal immigration! Why? Because we wed 233 years of expansion, growth, religion and capitalism—with an entrenched ‘culture’ that thinks it can keep multiplying like a cancer cell.

As Kenneth Boulding said, “Only economists and fools think we can keep growing population without consequences!”

How We Can Save Our Roads: America's highway infrastructure needs money, manpower — and a new vision

When President Eisenhower signed the 1956 act bankrolling the interstate system, road-building was a national strategic imperative. No expense was spared. But later generations failed to invest in kind. “We just haven’t been keeping up with the maintenance and preservation,” says John Horsley, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). “Highways and bridges wear out.”

Today, our 47,000 miles of interstate highways are a half-century old—and look it. Other vital highways are at or near retirement age. AASHTO ranks one in four of our nearly 600,000 bridges as structurally deficient or obsolete. Meanwhile, the number of vehicles on our roads has quadrupled since interstates debuted. And more of today’s vehicles are heavy trucks, which pound the pavement far harder than vehicles of the past.

“We’re in pretty bad shape,” says Tom Warne, a renowned highway-engineering consultant based in Salt Lake City. “We’ve been lulled into thinking the system is always going to be here, always going to function for us. And it won’t.”

Cities’ Plans to Swap Cash for Stimulus Are Stopped

LOS ANGELES — Suppose the federal government gave you and your neighbor $500 each to buy a new bike, but what you really wanted was a $250 shopping spree for running gear instead. So you offered to sell your $500 federal check to your neighbor for $250 in cash so everyone’s dreams could be realized.

That is essentially what several cities in Los Angeles County planned to do with federal stimulus money, until the local transportation authority, its face slightly reddened, pulled the plug on the plans. A spokeswoman in Washington for the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure said Wednesday that the swaps would be illegal.

Put rail funds where they can help the most

There seems to be no doubt that improving the capacity and reliability of New York's freight rail transportation would help in many ways. But when it comes to passengers, the people who seem in a rush to spend the money should get some more information and take a closer look at the numbers they already have.

Drastic MTA hikes fare game again

ALBANY - The MTA is moving closer to pulling the trigger on its doomsday budget after a plan to rescue the agency's crippled budget with new bridge tolls appears to have derailed.

U.S. Gulf Oil Output Hurt More by Storms Than Thought, IEA Says

(Bloomberg) -- Oil production in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico was hit harder than previously thought by last year’s Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, the International Energy Agency said, citing updates to U.S. Minerals Management Service data.

The culture of consumer spending

Too few of us realize what scientists call the “stress beginnings” of contemporary society, namely the culture of consumerism.

As a background, we seem to forget that economic growth is vitally important for a majority of our population.

Growth creates new industries and generates the jobs needed to keep unemployment within reasonable limits.

The North American economy must grow by at least three per cent annually for that reason alone.

To achieve that goal, businesses and government, too, operate on the view that people can be programmed to have insatiable desires for goods and services, and along with that, ever-increasing expectations. Where does that lead? Author Thomas Homer-Dixon states that it entails “hyper consumers.”

Exxon Brazil Find May Hold 8 Billion Barrels of Oil

(Bloomberg) -- Exxon Mobil Corp.’s oil discovery off the coast of Brazil may hold enough crude to rival the nearby Tupi prospect as the Western Hemisphere’s largest find in three decades.

Gee says Ohio at turning point in history

Gee told the crowd of 300 the energy crisis will not be saved by a single piece of technology, and sustainability will not magically appear in a single eureka moment.

"Sustainability is a thousand small stories," like a scientist in Wooster figuring Russian dandelions can be a domestic source for renewable rubber, Gee said.

Cash for trash: Reuse stores make use of refuse

BOISE - Artist Cathy Mansell wants your old thread spools, your empty yogurt containers, your unwanted vinyl LPs.

She knows that even if she has no use for the yarn remnants, wallpaper samples, button collections or irrigation pipe unearthed during closet cleanings, someone will need them for an art project. So she's turned her office full of odds and ends into one of hundreds of reuse centers around the country.

Think Planning US Factory; Initial Production in 2010

Norway-based electric car maker Think plans to open a new manufacturing plant and technical center in the United States. The company is currently in discussions with eight states, including Michigan, hoping to host the facility. US production is expected to start in 2010, with the first-year volume of 2,500 units being available to pilot and demonstration fleet projects. Plans ultimately call for up to 900 employees and a capacity of 60,000 electric vehicles per year.

Jeremy Leggett: Let's bank on low carbon

We can bail out a bank with billions overnight, but it seems we can't decide what to do when it comes to energy.

Fish Tales: How Sustainable is That Tuna in the Window?

Enviro sushi lovers in the U.S should be celebrating—a Japanese company is now selling farm-raised bluefin tuna offering all the “buttery texture” without savaging threatened wild tuna stocks. So why are so many environmentalists still so upset?

IEA Cuts Demand Forecast, Non-OPEC Supply Growth on Recession

(Bloomberg) -- The International Energy Agency cut its 2009 oil demand forecast for a seventh month as the global slump saps consumption. Non-OPEC supply growth has stopped as investment drops and faults close fields, it said.

The Paris-based adviser to 28 nations reduced its 2009 oil demand forecast by 270,000 barrels a day to 84.4 million barrels a day. That represents a decline in demand of 1.25 million barrels a day, or 1.5 percent, from 2008.

“The demand collapse has been staggering, based on the whirlwind nature of the slump in the global economy,” the IEA said in its monthly oil report today. “The obvious flip-side to this is that lower prices also lead to a supply response.”

Oil spikes on rumors of Russian oil cuts

NEW YORK – Oil prices spiked 11 percent Thursday as rumors swirled that Russia, which vies with Saudi Arabia as the world's largest oil producer, would join OPEC in slashing crude production.

Weak US Oil Use Data May Prompt OPEC Cut

The U.S. energy secretary says OPEC needs to be cautious about considering deeper oil output cuts.

OPEC, instead, may listen to the U.S. oil market, which signals the taps need to be tightened further, to keep a floor under prices near $40 a barrel.

The latest data from the world's biggest oil consumer strongly argue the point. Current four-week U.S. oil demand is at its lowest level since early December, meaning it is still as weak as it was when the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed to its biggest-ever output cut.

Sunoco to cut 750 salaried jobs

Sunoco Inc. announced today that it will reduce its salaried workforce by approximately 750 positions in 2009, which represents about 20 percent of the workforce, in a move expected to save more than $300 million by year-end 2009.

U.K. North Sea Oil Operators Keep Licenses Even as Crude Drops

(Bloomberg) -- Fewer than three out of 100 oil companies granted exploration blocks in the North Sea last year responded to an offer by the U.K. government to give up their licenses, suggesting operators will press ahead with exploration even as oil prices plunge.

Cnooc Is Making Profit With Oil at $40, Chairman Says

(Bloomberg) -- Cnooc Ltd., China’s biggest offshore oil producer, is making profit with oil prices at $40 a barrel, according to Chairman Fu Chengyu.

“We are certainly making profit at $40 oil, only much less than oil at $147,” Fu told reporters in Beijing today.

China: Private refiners likely join oil reserve plan

Six private oil refiners, each with processing capacity above 200,000 tons, were proposed to the National Development and Reform Commission as choices for the oil products reserve tanks, according to Zhao Youshan, president of the oil circulation committee with the China General Chamber of Commerce.

Together, they can hold up to 2.3 million tons of refined oil products, Zhao said.

Analysts suggest that the government should talk to non-State oil refiners to use their idle storage capacity to take advantage of plunging crude prices.

2008 a bumper year for exports of Middle East crude to Asia

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - North Asia's crude imports fell last quarter from year-ago levels for the first time in nearly two years, as the global economic crisis hit demand, but China's increased purchases lifted Saudi exports to a record.

Iran dismisses sanctions, launches gas project

TEHRAN (Reuters) – President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed international sanctions against Iran as a "childish idea" on Friday as he officially launched a natural gas project in the Gulf, Iranian media reported.

Putin to waive Ukraine gas fines

Vladimir Putin, Russia's prime minister, yesterday announced that Moscow would go easy on Ukraine in enforcing the terms of their bilateral gas deal, in a surprise sign of improving relations between Moscow and Kiev.

The Russian leader said Gazprom, the Russian state-controlled group, would not impose penalties on Ukraine for failing to buy as much gas as it promised when the contract was signed in January, after a dispute that disrupted Russian gas supplies to the European Union.

The gesture may ease international fears concerning Ukraine's economic and political stability.

Belarus Seeks to Double Russian Gas Flows, Challenging Ukraine

(Bloomberg) -- Belarus is offering to double the capacity of its natural-gas pipeline network to lure transit fees away from Ukraine, through which Russia supplies a fifth of Europe’s gas, Belarusian Energy Minister Alexander Ozerets said.

Rosneft Planning Vankor Production in Second Half, O’Brien Says

(Bloomberg) -- OAO Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil producer, is planning to start output from its Vankor field in eastern Siberia in the second half and is considering acquisitions outside Russia in markets where it sells crude.

The company has been “nicely profitable” in the first quarter, Peter O’Brien, vice president for finance and investments, said today in an interview in London. On March 4, Rosneft posted a 64 percent drop in fourth-quarter net income to $775 million on lower crude prices.

PetroChina eyes refinery venture with Venezuela in '09

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's largest oil and gas company, PetroChina, will set up a joint venture refinery with Venezuela in 2009, Chairman Jiang Jiemi told reporters on Friday.

In May, the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA and PetroChina agreed to build a refinery in China's far southern Guangdong province.

Official admits BP withheld documents about oil pipeline spill

WASHINGTON—A top BP executive has acknowledged that the company withheld key documents last year from lawmakers who were investigating whether cost-cutting measures were a factor in the pipeline corrosion that caused Alaska's largest onshore oil spill.

The Bad Old Days

Most histories of America’s role in the Middle East, like Michael B. Oren’s Power, Faith and Fantasy,” focus on the naïveté and misguided idealism of a nation much given to moral crusades. Khalidi ­looks to interests rather than principles. His ­story of America’s active role in the Middle East begins in 1933, when the consortium known as Aramco signed an exclusive oil deal with Ibn Saud, the king of Saudi Arabia. Khalidi reminds us of familiar if ­squalid acts of American intervention, like the role of the C.I.A. in the 1953 overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh, the prime minister of Iran, who had championed the nationalization of his ­country’s oil industry. Khalidi also describes lesser-known ones, including the delivery of “briefcases full of cash” to Lebanon’s pro-Western president Camille Chamoun in order to help Chamoun rig the 1957 parliamentary election.

As Warnings Grow Louder About Global Data Center Power Crisis, Look for Some Companies to Profit

Apparently they’re like warnings on cigarette packages – clearly visible and pretty much ignored, often until it’s too late.

The latest warning about the data center power crisis that threatens to disrupt global business as early as 2011 comes from Siemens AG (Symbol SIE), which found in a new survey of major companies that less than half are working toward improving the energy efficiency of their data centers.

“If we do not start looking closely at our data centers now, 70% of the world’s data centers will have tangible disruptions by 2011 and the systems will experience world-wide brownouts over the course of the next five years,” Siemens warned.

China’s Big Recycling Market Is Sagging

BEIJING — Each morning Tian Wengui emerges from the home he makes under a bridge here, two large sacks slung over his shoulder. Through the day, and well into the night, he scours garbage cans for soda bottles, soy sauce containers and cooking oil jugs. Selling the refuse to one of Beijing’s ubiquitous recycling depots, Mr. Tian can earn $3 on a good day.

But good days are getting harder to come by.

Since Mr. Tian migrated from Sichuan province, the multibillion-dollar recycling industry has gone into a nosedive because of the global economic crisis and a concomitant fall in commodity prices. Bottles now sell for half of what they did in the summer.

Oil-soaked Australian beaches named disaster zones

BRISBANE, Australia – Authorities declared a disaster zone Friday along a stretch of some of Australia's most pristine and popular beaches after tons of fuel oil that leaked from a stricken cargo ship blackened the creamy white sand for miles.

The government of northeastern Queensland state denied it had acted too slowly to stop an environmental disaster, and threatened the shipping company with a multimillion-dollar compensation lawsuit.

Our Pigs, Our Food, Our Health

By last fall, Dr. Anderson was ready to be a whistle-blower, and he agreed to welcome me on a reporting visit and go on the record with his suspicions. That was a bold move, for any insinuation that the hog industry harms public health was sure to outrage many neighbors.

So I made plans to come here and visit Dr. Anderson in his practice. And then, very abruptly, Dr. Anderson died at the age of 54.

There was no autopsy, but a blood test suggested a heart attack or aneurysm. Dr. Anderson had himself suffered at least three bouts of MRSA, and a Dutch journal has linked swine-carried MRSA to dangerous human heart inflammation.

The larger question is whether we as a nation have moved to a model of agriculture that produces cheap bacon but risks the health of all of us. And the evidence, while far from conclusive, is growing that the answer is yes.

Communities Prepare To Be More Self-Reliant

Three Northwest cities have latched on to an environmental bandwagon that started a few years ago in Britain.

Ashland, Oregon and Ketchum and Sandpoint, Idaho are among 130 so-called 'Transition Towns' around the world. Those are communities that work to become more self-reliant and less susceptible to the vagaries of climate change and volatile energy prices.

'We need to make some changes to how we live'

"At a national and local level the cost of food will rise and the continued supply of food is not guaranteed," he said.

"The Government continues to assume that, as a trading nation, we can buy what we need on the world market, but that assumes there's something to buy and other countries will sell us their food instead of eating it."

A Strange New Dance-Related Conspiracy Game About the Apocalypse

Game designer Jane McGonigal invented this game as part of a futurist scenario where she was trying to imagine how people would entertain themselves in a future where peak oil and plagues forced would-be nightclub goers to stay at home. So she dreamed up the Top Secret Dance Off, a nightclub that you can go to via the web. So many people liked the idea that they started playing the game for real, and so now you can have post-apocalyptic fun before the apocalypse.

Electric Cars and Peak Lithium

From the Chevy Volt to the Tesla Roadster, cars that run on battery power rather than gasoline are fueling hopes for a cleaner transportation future. Even if we switched all U.S. cars to run on electricity from coal-fired power plants we'd emit less than we do now, according to a study from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

But, in terms of economics, are we trading peak oil for peak lithium? Lithium is, obviously, a primary component of the lithium-ion batteries powering the first generation of electric cars. The bulk of it is found in Bolivia.

Securing water resources

Protecting water resources should rank among the top priorities of a global deal to mitigate climate change as it will "secure the basis for food, energy, health and economic development, thereby ensuring a nation's ability to thrive," write Dr. Mark Smith, head of the Water Programme IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and Dr. Ger Bergkamp, director general of the World Water Council, in a March paper.

Energy efficiency – the Cinderella at the climate policy ball – can steal the show

Saving energy isn't just about insulation and new boilers - small changes in behaviour can make a big difference.

Japan to propose global levy on bunker fuel: source

The Japanese government plans to propose a global levy on marine fuel to fight climate change, an industry source familiar with talks under the U.N.'s shipping agency said on Friday. Skip related content

The proposal Japan will present to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in April also includes a plan to pool the charges and, as an incentive, refund part of the money to ships that improve their energy efficiency, the source said.

Energy Reform: Heavy Hitters Seek to Sway Cap and Trade Debate

As President Obama continues his push for a market-based cap on greenhouse gas emissions, an unprecedented number of powerful lobbying groups are preparing to leave their mark on the impending federal policy.

Cash-strapped rich nations shelving greenhouse projs: Assocham

NEW DELHI: Constrained for funds, the rich nations are holding back their plans to set up projects aimed at curbing greenhouse gases in developing countries, an Assocham study said.

"The reduced investment by the industrialised countries due to financial crisis is forcing them to shelve plans for building projects to curb greenhouse gases in developing nations," the chamber said, adding many such projects in India need huge investments for implementation.

Could Rising Seas Swallow California's Coast?

Imagine San Francisco Airport under water, or Long Beach Harbor in Los Angeles, the second busiest port in America, washed away. Picture Orange County's Newport Beach completely submerged under the encroaching ocean.

That's the soggy future that could be in place for California at the end of this century if climate change continues unabated.

Climate change effects seen in Antarctic winds

WASHINGTON – Changing wind patterns linked to global warming are altering the food chain in Antarctica and may lead to further increases in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The most basic food, plankton, is declining in the northern portions of the Antarctic peninsula reaching toward South America, researchers report in Friday's edition of the journal Science.

How communities can combat 'climate fatigue'

"Even though the resident of my region are very keen to talk about renewable energy and saving energy and energy efficiencies…the minute you start talking about climate change, they start arguing with you."

Perhaps that should come as no surprise. There were signs of a general climate fatigue amongst the public two years ago, and media coverage of climate change in 2008 dropped to pre-An Inconvenient Truth days.

Czech minister slams president over climate change

PRAGUE (AFP) – Czech Environment Minister Martin Bursik on Thursday slammed President Vaclav Klaus over his speech at last week's conference on climate change where he said the planet had been cooling for the past decade.

"I am sorry to say that in his public appearances Vaclav Klaus manifests a combination of activism and amateurism," said Green Party chairman Bursik, whose country holds the six-month European Union presidency.

Crisis 'nothing' compared to climate change: Prince Charles

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) – The current global financial crisis is "nothing" compared to the impact of climate change, Prince Charles warned Thursday as he called for urgent environmental protection measures.

"We are, I fear, at a defining moment in the world's history," he told a meeting of Brazilian business leaders and officials in Rio de Janeiro halfway through a Latin America tour.

"The global recession is far worse than any seen for generations," he said, adding that growing demand for energy and food created the potential for "political uncertainty in every continent."

But more menacing, he said, was that "the threat of catastrophic climate change calls into question humanity's continued survival on the planet."

WWF launches urgent appeal to save polar bears

OSLO (AFP) – Environmental group WWF on Thursday called for urgent measures to counter global warming in the Arctic, warning that the region's emblematic polar bear would disappear if the polar ice melts.

"No sea ice equates no polar bears. It's really that simple," WWF polar bear expert Geoff York told reporters.

Scientists warn of 'irreversible' climate shifts

COPENHAGEN – Hundreds of leading scientists warned Thursday that global warming is accelerating beyond the worst predictions and threatening to trigger "irreversible" climate shifts on the planet.

Saying there's no excuse for inaction, the nearly 2,000 climate researchers meeting in Copenhagen urged policy-makers to "vigorously" implement the economic and technological tools available to cut emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

FWIW added some comments on the tiny houses discussions in yesterday's DB

Thanks for the posts.

I had an old friend from England visit me in the US. I live in a 2000sq foot single family home - typical suburban dwelling for the US.

His Girlfriend (she's Finnish) saw the home when we pulled up the driveway and asked "Do you live here with other Families? Or is this just for you and your wife?"

The irony is that other folks in our neighborhood have moved out after having a 2nd child because their 2000 foot home "isnt big enough anymore..."

Its all about keeping up with the Jones's and the Jones's live in a 5000sq foot Mcmansion that they cant afford. Everything else is just an excuse.
Same for SUVs. Its not a very practical car, but "the Jones's have one and they seem really happy/successful..."

My house is technically 1500 sq feet, but only 750 sq feet will be furnished. The other 750 is going to be a workshop/garage... The benefits are that having it all as one building, I saved on building materials, the workshop is on one of the walls that would have been an exterior wall, and no having to walk between buildings to work on projects. :) If a woman comes into my world and we eventually decide that 750 sq feet isn't enough, I can always expand the furnished portion of my house into where my workshop was..

I can imagine lots of these large dwellings becoming partially housing and partially workshop. It's a great way to do things, no commute to work for one thing.

.. plus, your heating, lighting or A/C is supporting work and home.

Lots of benefits, but lots of distractions, too.

Well, now that Citibank is all good, does anybody want to buy a wheelbarrow (like-new)? :)

This image of the four bad bears from Calculated Risk shows that we are at the same point as in the Great Depression, month 17 from top of market. Now if we follow the same rally they had at just that point we should go along for a little while on this rally back up to only 50% down from the top and then go down to 70% drop from the top before jumping back up to the 60% line and then drop down to 80% befroe jumping up to the 70% line and finally rest at about 90% flat line at 36 month point in 17 months at market bottom, presuming a similar course of events to the Depression.


Denninger is sounding pretty reasonable today. Even talks about ratcheting down consumption and that in the end all we have comes from the sun.

Also says were nowhere near done on stock drops and housing drops....but that's no surprise to readers here.

  • http://market-ticker.denninger.net/
  • Denninger is sounding pretty reasonable today.

    And everything is alright.

    Except that:

    March 13 (Bloomberg) -- General Electric Co. may reduce its 2009 profit target for GE Capital after Standard & Poor’s lowered debt ratings and predicted “considerably weaker” results for the finance arm.

    “It is clear management’s outlook remains substantially too optimistic,” Citigroup Inc. analyst Jeffrey Sprague wrote in a note to clients.


    And it's lost none of it's gains from the past week,
    even though it's now AA+, using FDIC to fund it's paper,
    and GE Capital to lose $5 billion this year.

    America's whistlin' past the graveyard.
    GE's been nationalized.

    RE: HR 875: The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009

    I am getting e-mails sounding the alarm about this bill. The fear is that the bill as it presently stands is overbroad, and would not exempt household gardening and food preservation, community gardens, food banks, local farmer's markets, and small-scale market growers from the same burdensome regulations as the large agribusinesses and grocery chains would be subjected to. This, obviously, would be taking us in exactly the wrong direction, and would be disasterous.

    Food safety is a legitimate concern, and there is some room for some REASONABLE regulatory improvement. However, applying the same regulatory regime to everyone without exception or modification is insane and would be disasterous.

    I have written my congresscritter and asked him to make sure that language is added providing explicit partial or full exemptions for households, community gardens, food banks, farmer's markets, and small growers. I encourage you to do likewise.

    I have been working my a$$ off at great expense to increase local food production and now this.

    I have talked to several growers who have stated that the fines which are outlined in the bill scare the hell out of them, and they are certain it means increase in fees and such.

    Everyone is spitting mad and flooding Defazios office. I can't believe he signed on.

    One more issue where Congressmen have to balance the
    rage of Flyover Country with flood of $$$ from
    Monsanto (on this bill) and other Corporations
    with more rights than humans.

    Before anyone has a heart attack or some other serious calamity occurs, I would like to offer a somewhat calming link, where they do not think this is a catastrophe, even in its current form:

    “Internet Myth of the Week:

    Congress To Pass Bill That Will Outlaw Organic Farming?

    This week, we received numerous calls and emails from OCA supporters who came across alarming YouTube videos and emails circulating on the internet that claimed a new food safety bill (HR 875) introduced in Congress would make "organic farming illegal." Although the Bill certainly has its shortcomings, it is an exaggeration to say that is a secret plot by Monsanto and the USDA to destroy the nation's alternative food and farming system. In actuality, HR 875, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, is a limited-vision attempt by moderate Democrats and Republicans to craft food safety legislation to address the out-of-control filth and contamination that are inherent in our industrialized, now globalized, "profit-at-any-cost" food system.”


    Of course, this is a link to a link, but does seem to say that this is not as bad as it has been made to sound. Not that it wouldn't be interpreted that way in the future, but they will not close my "local" (14 miles away) farmer's market, which is already heavily regulated anyway. It cost about $2,000 in permits, fees and the like to run that market last year, where everything has to be local - Oklahoma grown except for Kansas border counties, since we bump up against KS on the north of our county.

    There is a simple response to this action, ignore it. There comes a time when the laws and actions of a disconnected, corrupt, and dysfunctional government legislative body is irrelevant.

    What's the term? ...Civil Disobedience!

    Time to be American again folks.

    Oh Yeah, I plan to.

    And so do many others. Watch as these unfunded mandates get issued
    from imperial DC.

    Who's going to enforce them?

    All they do is criminalize the populace, a tried and true
    procedure thru out Decaying World Empires.

    This is just one example out of a bureaucracy trained
    in pumping out mandates to aid corporations.

    As I've said, Mr O gets on a ten spot or the US fractures.

    And he's rapidly running out of time. Geithner's all alone
    in Treasury. The UK gets put on hold when they call.

    "Who's going to enforce them?"

    Rumors go around all these FEMA camps are ready for some disobedient civilians.

    "Rumors go around all these FEMA camps are ready for some disobedient civilians."

    The US hasn't got enough troops. And will they shoot?

    Just one Kent State.

    naked capitalism
    Why is it that the Daily Show is the only media outlet calling out CNBC on its, how shall we put it politely, less than stellar moments?

    Stewart nailed Cramer last night and not one word today.

    forget Afghanistan, Mr O needs those Iraq Troops back home now.

    And I've said so since Katrina.


    I hesitate to enter these very deep waters, but I think the Europeans, at least as described in this article, might be right. There is a real need for an adjustment in consumption in the US, and I don’t think it makes sense for the US to attempt to replace excess household consumption with excess government consumption. One way or the other the US, along with China and most other countries that have contributed to one side or the other of the global imbalances, is going to have to accept a demand contraction."


    As Mexico Production Collapses. Cantarell pumping less than a
    mbpd yet?

    Why is it that the Daily Show is the only media outlet calling out CNBC on its, how shall we put it politely, less than stellar moments?

    Stewart nailed Cramer last night and not one word today.

    He certainly did. Well worth watching. Now up on the site at http://www.thedailyshow.com/

    It's interesting to have just seen Frost/Nixon several weeks ago and then see this. Is Jon Stewart the next David Frost? Someone that no one early one would ever have been seen as "cutting to the heart" in political interviews? Thank God there is someone out there doing this.


    I don't mean to burst your bubble, but I was really perturbed by the show. Yes, Jon Stewart, (and his staff) appeared to be extremely well prepared, and he could well be the next David Frost. He had Kramer dead to rights, but....

    What disturbed me was how Kramer just rolled over. I have no authoritative URL for this opinion but I also make no appolgies for my own views. As was previously posted, I am concerned by how there was little or no response by the MSM after they hyped the initial conflict.

    There was virtually no resistance. It was as if Kramer was instructed to take it on the chin, say his mea culpas to diffuse the situation, so, as Jon Stuart said, he could carry on making fart noises and silly faces, with the earnest? assurance from Kramer that he would do better. What was left mostly unsaid is that Kramer's previous and admitted actions are a violation of SEC laws.

    Stuart, IMO, is more than he appears to be, unlike his protoge Colbert. As humorous as Stuart is, he has also taken certain people to task, like dickhead John Bolton, on no uncertain terms. Colbet, as clever and as talented as he is, seems to be just a populist shill. Best wishes for him on his quest for the American Dream.

    I think, and I hope, that Jon is not done with CNBC and rightly so.

    There is a delicious irony that the "Comedy Channel" could perhaps be the best venue for relevant information.

    I agree that Jon should move on from CNBC. He does better when he doesn't stick with one topic too long, the debates and conventions aside. The great thing about Jon's show is his ability to pick a great set of supporting members on his team. I have not seen one that has really fallen flat (Colbert, John Oliver, Samantha Bee, Lewis Black, Aasif Mandav, etc.) He stole his bit from the good old days of Chevy Chase on Saturday Night Live and did it much better.

    John Oliver just has to speak one sentence and he's got me laughing up a storm. He is constantly trying to crack Stewart up too, which is entertaining in itself.

    "all these FEMA camps are ready for some disobedient civilians"

    Is this just another internet myth ?

    A link to there location/locations ?? google earth ?/

    Military bases not being currently used ??

    Like the 'invade Canada' warplans - yes the plans exist. (or I do not doubt the plans exist like REXX 80 (or is it REXX something else))

    But no one *I* know of can see the future - so its hard to know if the things known to exist are for "disobedient civilians".

    But - do you trust the people in power NOT to act in ways that would keep them on the top and you at the bottom? And, if YOU were at the top, would you act a whole lot different?

    I keep telling people they should have voted for me when I ran for President.


    And, if YOU were at the top, would you act a whole lot different?
    I keep telling people they should have voted for me when I ran for President.

    And how long would you have lived had you acted all that differently?

    There are no plans to invade Canada.

    Supposedly a draft law called H.R. 645 is in process; this is what everyone's referring to I think. Haven't read it yet myself but plenty of people are concerned.

    President O

    and Mister has a period (Mr.)

    This 'grassroots push' showing up all of the sudden might also warrant a 'follow the money' analysis.

    Everyone with an axe to grind these days tries to show that they've got a Main Street following.. but who would really be threatened, ie 'Billed' by this clean up your act bill? Ask anyone in upper mgmt at Peanut Corporation of America.. or their shiny-shoed neighbor CEO's at ADM, Monsanto, etc

    ..just a thought.

    I'm all in favor of REASONABLE food safety laws. However, there is a tendency in the US especially to make regulation a two-edged sword. Yes, the consumer gets "protected"; however, the regulatory system is run in a way which is definitely biased in favor of the big corporations that can afford to pay the registration fees, hire the specialist staff, and jump through the most exacting bureaucratic hoops. It is the small-scale operators, AKA "competitors", who get run out of business, as they simply don't have the ability to jump through all of those hoops. Meanwhile, since there is a revolving door between the regulatory agencies and the corporations, we end up with the appearance of regulatory activity, which is not necessarilly the same thing as effective consumer protection.

    The only way I see to avoid such an outcome (which we have in fact seen over and over again) is to have a two-tier system: 1) very simple, streamlined, minimalist regulations for individuals, households, and very small businesses; and 2) more extensive, stringent, loophole-tight regulations for the big corporations. I know that the big corporations will scream that this isn't "fair", but the way things are presently being done are hardly fair either.

    Both of my proposed tiers need to be informed by actual risk assessment and be outcome driven. For example, make the goal for peanut products to have pathogen levels below a minimum evidence-based standard, and give the processor some flexibility as to how to conduct their operations to achieve that goal. Don't make them all do things exactly the same way, especially if that same way is not necessarilly an effective and necessary way to achieve the desired result.

    Before anyone has a heart attack or some other serious calamity occurs, I would like to offer a somewhat calming link, where they do not think this is a catastrophe, even in its current form:

    “Internet Myth of the Week:

    Congress To Pass Bill That Will Outlaw Organic Farming?

    Thanks for that.

    I'm not surprised by the reaction. I'm pretty "intimate" with the "organic" farming crowd, and it has been my painful experience that they are a hysteria-prone, superstitious lot.

    It's plainly obvious: even if such legislation were enacted to "outlaw" organic farming, just the thought of trying to enforce such a law is hilarious. Like, get over it.

    It seems like to me that a lot of the food contamination issues relate to the use of animal raising and processing by-products in the wrong way. Like mad cow disease, failure to do whatever is the equivalent of composting of manure on a mass scale, etc. How do you legislate common sense? We will all have to use a lot of it in the future, on a personal level, but I have never had any problems with compost causing illness, so why does it do so in an "industrial farm" type of setting - is it just the scale - i.e., the fact that I am going to eat what I raise ?

    As to enforcement, the budgets for that are getting cut right now, and if more mandates are passed down, in almost any arena, there will not be anyone to enforce them. Issues like these will have to be dealt with on a local level or they will not be dealt with at all. If the Peanut Corp. was only local, the local folk would deal with it. If they get shut down, that comes back to the local folk as well. If shipping gets expensive enough, it will all be local.

    As someone who is "intimate" with the "organic" farming "crowd", I find them an extremely well-informedd, practical, can-do lot. I think your generalization is bullshit. I'm talking about actual growers.

    Though I agree - such a law would be unenforceable.

    I am a grower. I work at an organic farm, and I have grown my own food "traditionally" for over twenty years. I love my job, and my boss knows that I don't oppose "organic" methods per se, but the pseudo-science and the appalling marketing lies.

    Organic farming needs a drastic reform if it wants to survive the brutal realities of the marketplace. It needs to jettison the lies, superstitions, and hysteria, and refocus on the following big three, essential issues:

    1. Soil health and conservation

    2. Localization

    3. Relative independence, esp. in regards to energy and material inputs

    I'm no longer interested on hearing about the supposed "toxic" effects of low doses of chemicals.

    I'm no longer interested in the supposed "devastating" effects of "genetic engineering" and "frankenfood."

    I'm no longer interested in the supposed health "benefits," "superior quality," and even "healing powers" of "organic" foods.

    I AM interested in acknowledging the tremendous benefits commercial farming has given humanity, even though that model may be becoming rapidly obsolete. Norman Borlaug should be hailed as a cultural hero and scientific genius.

    Organics as it is currently practiced is a vile marketing scam: It limits the market with labyrinthine "certification" B. S., thus driving up prices; it tries to frighten people away from conventional foods; and it talks up its supposed "safer, healthier, more natural" produce.

    MY version of "organic" farming reform boils down to:



    & TOIL

    We've reduced the quality of the SOIL and the amount of TOIL on farms through the vast increase in the amount of OIL we've poured into farming. Any and all reduction in the amount of OIL--whether voluntary or through "forced conservation"--will automatically mean we have to scale up the other to assets: SOIL and TOIL.

    Whether this can be done on time, whether it is doable at all, is still a contentious debate.

    I no longer plan to wait around for the organics people to reform themselves, or to rely on the system to get its act together to shift to the new conditions of post-peak life.

    I'm growing my OWN food, now, with minimal fossil inputs (though it's a fantasy that oil-based inputs can be eliminated completely: I'm no 19th century Amish farmer).

    I'm working on a long paper exposing the horrendous amount of horsesh*t in organic rhetoric, but I don't know that I'll ever finish it.

    One last thing: If "organics" is indeed fatally flawed as it is currently marketed, what makes you think others won't expose it for the fraud it is, if we don't do it ourselves?


    I farm for me, not for thee.

    It seems to me you are conflating and confusing a whole bunch of issues and players, as if "organic" was some monolithic organization. We are clearly not hanging out with the same kind of people, to judge by your vitriol.

    It is the evil genius of our corporate system that it is able to co-opt just about anything and turn it into a marketing scam, and this is being attempted continually with organics. The certifications are in constant danger of being watered down and made meaningless, just like most food labeling has been down the years. This is not the fault of organics.

    You seem to have a huge chip on your shoulder with regard to "the organics people", whatever that means.

    It is hard to take your analysis and arguments very seriously when you are so vague with your terms, and you seem to have a real manifesto going here, you against the "organics people". Is there some personal vendetta going on? Seriously, your presentation is full of all sorts of absolutist, totalizing rhetoric this is not going to gain your ideas much of an audience.

    Why don't you calm down and explain just who you're talking about, for a start? Organic growers? Organic growing concepts themselves? The big organic marketing corporations? Groovy New Age health magazines? It's really not fair or useful to lump them all together in your blanket condemnations.

    “I AM interested in acknowledging the tremendous benefits commercial farming has given humanity, even though that model may be becoming rapidly obsolete. Norman Borlaug should be hailed as a cultural hero and scientific genius.” Posted by mikeB

    I remember long ago, while a freshman in high school (1967) the Green Revolution and Borlaug being explained in class. At that time the world’s population was something like around three billion, with about two billion at poverty/subsistence levels. Borlaug’s work was explained as the only way possible to feed this large and growing population. I raised my hand and when called on, said that Borlaug should be taken out and hanged, and the Green Revolution ended.

    For we had been studying Malthus just the week before, and so it was clear where the Green Revolution would end up, as I said in class at the time, we were just pushing the problem off thirty or forty years, and then we would have to deal with it then, only on a larger scale with more than double the overall population, and double the number of people on the edge of survival.

    Well this is how it has all panned out. It seems highly unlikely that there will be some new equivalent of the Green Revolution that will allow us to push this problem off another few decades, even if the planetary systems wouldn’t collapse under the strain of an additional 3-4 billion inhabitants. Truly, an epic tragedy that the Green Revolution was allowed to materialize and that we weren’t forced to confront this issue fifty years ago, before we had gone so far into overshoot, before our eco-systems had become as over-strained and overworked as they currently are.

    Antoinetta III

    Yes, it's tragic being human. Ask our friend, Darwinian, for corroboration about that. I become more and more "deterministic" the more I learn. We're a "rapacious ape."

    And yet I'm glad they ignored your plea, for we wouldn't be here, wasting all that coal as we type away on these electronic devices, would we, if the Green Revolution hadn't happened?

    Who is we? Tell that to all the future billions facing massive dieoff.

    I'm no longer interested on hearing about the supposed "toxic" effects of low doses of chemicals.

    Its a good thing that others ARE, and so the testing of the environment continues, water is being cleaned up, and the EPA exists to attempts to address the issues of chemical dumping.

    I'm no longer interested in the supposed "devastating" effects of "genetic engineering"

    Yea, heaven forbid you become educated on a modified Klebsiella Planticola that almost went to field trials.

    Just because you've made up your mind and want to remain ignorant doesn't mean others have to.

    It's all about triage. Toxic exposure may or may not kill you a few years down the line, but lack of food due to resource and logistical shortages will surely kill you in a matter of weeks.

    But it's not all about triage. It is only if we allow it to be, if that's how we set up our systems, to make short-term decisions and ignore the longer view.. Then we get to be all indignant and surprised when the gradual stuff finally comes to bite us on the rear.

    1937 - A danish scientist publishes a book, fluorine intoxication, describing hundreds of scientific studies indicating that fluoride poisons human and animal life, and especially affects the central nervous system.


    1939 - The first proposal to add fluoride to public water supplies is made by a scientist working under a grant from the Aluminum Company of America.


    1953 - George Waldbott, vice president of the American College of Allergists issues a warning that even small amounts of fluoride in water can cause acute and painful allergies. Whenever Waldbott's own patients stop drinking fluoridated water, they no longer experience headaches, muscle weakness, and stomach upsets.


    1989 - A laboratory study in Boston finds that rats given moderate amounts of Fluoride in their drinking water give birth to hyperactive babies, while baby rats exhibit retardation and other cognitive defects. Many Americans are routinely exposed to higher relative levels of fluoride than the levels administered to the rats.


    1997 - A total of ninety-two different pesticides were found in the ten thousand samples of food analyzed by the USDA. DDT was detected in 25 percent of food samples, even though it had been banned decades earlier.


    2000 - Physicians for Social Responsibility releases a report describing "an epidemic of developmental, learning and behavioral disabilities" affecting an estimated 12 million children in the United States. Evidence suggests the epidemic may be a result of toxic chemicals affecting the central nervous system of these children.

    - From Randall Fitzgerald's "The Hundred Year Lie - How food and medicine are destroying your health"

    Even the triage isn't really happening..

    # Why are studies showing that the number of children being born with both male and female sex organs tripled in the last decade?
    # Why is the incidence of testicular cancer in 2000 four times higher than 1950?
    # Why are more and more men seeking breast-reduction surgery as a result of drinking tap water?


    "One needs to wonder why in 1900, cancer was the tenth leading cause of death in the United States representing only three percent of all deaths, while these days it causes 20 percent of all deaths. Similarly, in 1900, diabetes was suffered by less than one-tenth of one percent of the U.S. population and today it is suffered by almost 20 percent."

    In 1900 the average of the population was far younger than today. People still died in epidemics like yellow fever, typhoid, etc. Also, the birth rate was much higher.

    On the other hand, a lot of the people had healthier diets with low fats and sugar. Of course, a sizable percentage was malnourished.
    People got much more exercise in 1900. They walked and bicycled more and did a lot of manual labor and played sports. Look at photos of people of the time. You will see muscular, physically fit bodies, including the women.

    Those are basically true.. and I've heard that until the 1920's, physicians were basically not seeing Cardiac Arrest as a result of Heart Disease and the all-too-common ArterioSclerosis .. that this condition was almost non-existant.

    One more snippet from Fitzgerald..

    2005 - A report by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of congress, finds that the EPA is failing to protect people from tens of thousands of chemicals. Chemical companies have provided health impact data to the EPA for only 15% of chemicals introduced over the past thirty years.

    In the largest study of chemical exposure ever conducted on humans, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds more than one hundred toxic substances in the bodies of the 2,400 people tested. Children are found to carry higher levels of these synthetic chemicals in their bodies than adults.

    We are all carrying a load of combined chemicals in our systems now that didn't even exist in 1900.. and there has been no comprehensive testing to warn us of the effects of the combinations of these known mutagens, teratogens and endochrine disruptive compounds.

    Sure, Exercise is a very important health factor, and has dramatically changed with our lifestyle, along with life expectancy, but we're looking at compounds that are accumulating in us, in topsoil, in fish, shellfish, grains, fats.. which are responsible for birth defects, for adolescent attention, learning and behavioural disorders.. these are not 'affluenza' and 'diseases of an aging population'.. we've seen detectable levels of Perchlorate in human breastmilk in 18 states.

    We're poisoning ourselves, and deciding that we don't have to listen to the CDC and the epidemiological evidence.. one more ticking timebomb.

    If you look at China as running the world's largest experiment in toxic exposure, they have no problem maintaining or growing their population. The health problems are undeniable, and we should be mindful of toxics for our personal safety, but on a macro-level, toxic exposure even at Chinese levels will not prevent a majority of the population from reaching reproductive age and propagating the species.

    Also, the people of 1900 and before were exposed to many toxic chemicals. The term Mad as a Hatter comes mercury poisoning from the chemicals that were used to create felt hats.

    Regarding changing lung cancer and other medical statistics, aging of the population has been noted in other posts but there may be another factor, During the first part of the 20th Century autopsies, lung biopsies, and lung tumor resections were not common. Some old time radiologists have maintained that lung cancer was under diagnosed during that period. Typically a lung cancer patient with a chest full of fluid would be signed out as pneumonia, dropsy or even consumption. Accurate records from that period are probably not available

    it has been my painful experience that they are a hysteria-prone, superstitious lot.

    I regret the comment. It is over-generalized. But it does come from experience. I worked at an organic fair farmer's market one summer, and I couldn't believe the stuff I heard coming out of people's mouths. Still, it wasn't fair of me to use that "they," which suggests "all" when more properly I should have said "too many."

    There is a strain of 'organic people' (for lack of a better term) who do hold the Gaia Earth Mother belief system, and environmentalists have that sub-culture, too.

    From time to time I also meet people who believe the stars have an impact on their gardens/farms (c.f. biodynamic agriculture). One farmer I met in Hawaii took the holistic aspects of biodynamics and left the astrology by the way.

    So, when ya going to offer up that spirited defense of GMOed foodstuffs?

    If I did, I'd first consult some friends who know more about genetics than I do: one works at Jackson Lab in Maine. The other works for a plant biotech firm.

    By the way--everything in my garden is genetically modified.

    For example, the melons I start in April were plucked out of their native Egyptian/Middle Eastern habitat centuries ago, selectively bred and hybridized for size and sweeteness, then gradually adapted to my climate here in New England.

    If I did, I'd first consult some friends who know more about genetics than I do: one works at Jackson Lab in Maine. The other works for a plant biotech firm.

    So yesterday you were talking about how people who oppose genetic engineering "break your heart" and today your position is 'I need to talk to others'? What happened to your breaking heart?

    Thanks for the misrepresentation.

    As for genetic engineering:

    Genetic engineering has allowed the gene responsible for making human insulin to be inserted into a certain type of bacteria. That bacteria now makes human insulin, a product that has been used by people with diabetes for years with no adverse effects. This type of "cross-breeding" between humans and bacteria obviously would be impossible without genetic engineering.


    My diabetic partner is now 56 and healthy, thanks to such insulin.

    Genetic Engineering:


    So what does Klebsiella-planticola do in root systems? The parent bacterium makes a slime layer that helps it stick to the plant's roots. The engineered bacterium makes about 17 parts per million alcohol. What is the level of alcohol that is toxic to roots? About one part per million. The engineered bacterium makes the plants drunk, and kills them.

    Summary of an actual expert, Dr. Elaine Ingham
    (VS some guy who has a few melons and therefore finds nothing wrong with genetic modification)

    Now - had the plan went forward (the US EPA had APPROVED THIS for field trials. As in outdoors. In the environment. ) man would be eeking out an existance fishing - if that due to the killing of most soil-based plantlife.

    I'd like you mikeB to explain how this would have worked out in the positive way you've chosen to put genetic engineering.

    Other not 'proven' (proven in the same way the earth is proven to be round not flat) concerns.
    http://whyfiles.org/shorties/gene_food.html (on potatoes)
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8436 (bees and GMO pollen)
    http://www.gmobelus.com/news.php?viewStory=113 (Karl Heinz Bablok)

    And Percy can't talk about the settlement:

    My diabetic partner is now 56 and healthy, thanks to such insulin.

    If your claim of your partner was 'healthy' - they would not be a diabetic. Being diabetic == not healthy.

    2009 - 37 = 1972.

    In 1972 Insulin was not from genetically modified bacteria.

    You may be correct that the insulin your partner takes today was via genetic engineering. But from 1972-1977(or 1982 - depends on dates one picks) the sick man somehow survived, with NO thanks to the very same thing you claim 'saved him'.

    Read what I said:

    My diabetic partner is now 56 and healthy, thanks to such insulin.

    Genetic engineering and radiation are both tainted by the "Hollywood Monster Movie Effect".

    Examine your own beliefs with regards to both and see if that is not true.

    In the area of the two where I do have formal training, I would note that without quite a lot of radiation you would not be able to see this very message.

    I personally think that Monsanto is too greedy by half to be trusted in the creation of GMO's, but this is a problem with Monsanto, not a problem with GMO's.

    I personally think that Monsanto is too greedy by half to be trusted in the creation of GMO's, but this is a problem with Monsanto, not a problem with GMO's.

    While you are probably correct, it really doesn't change the situation. The reality is that GMO's are being created as part of an industrialized agricultural system. Monsanto is a part of that system. Both are part of a broader global capitalist system that that sets the goals for the vast majority of humankind.

    We can imagine a world where socially conscious scientists create beneficial GMOs that do not endanger our seed stock. But we don't live in that world. We live in a world where GMOs are created to make money and any damage to the seed stock is an externality the company need not be concerned with.

    But again, the objection is to what modifications are chosen and how they are deployed, not to the fundamental concept of genetic engineering plants for desired properties.

    Tell me that Golden Rice is a greedy, thoughtless use of resources without concern for externalities. Go ahead, I dare you.

    Genetic engineering is a tool just like a hammer is.
    Just like a hammer, it can be used to create or destroy.

    Nuclear power can be a source for good, as well. So we strove to put in legal and other systems to attempt to restrain its use for good and not for evil. It has not worked out that way as the genie cannot be put out of the bottle.

    Given our current political system and its refusal to restrain the likes of Monsanto, even when they are taking away the right of farms to be fully organic, individuals farms are left to fend for themselves with expensive lawsuits to defend themselves against Monsanto. Almost our entire agricultural system has become dominated by GMO without any real public debate or democratic influence.

    Genetic engineering may be just a tool, but in the context of the way our society works, it will be used solely for profit with very little real concern for its potential benefits or drawbacks.

    Why do we not have a choice when we go to the supermarket. We cannot even get the government to require labeling of GMO products so people can make up their minds.

    The genetic engineering genie is out of the bottle as well.

    Best to simply assume that any product of any type that comes out of a Big Corporate Organization is cost reduced to the maximum extent that they can get away with from a legal and PR perspective. If it doesn't have pesticide spliced in, it has other contaminants either incidentally or deliberately put in during the manufacturing process.

    Focusing on particular technologies as "The Problem" completely misses the point that if it wasn't Roundup-Ready it'd be contaminated with plastic mock proteins, odd microbes, pesticides, or whatever else the "efficiency" of the moment demanded.

    The solution isn't to ban or restrict the inputs, it is to test the outputs to make sure that they are safe for human consumption.

    Better still, get the government out of the business of subsidizing large businesses in general so that agribusiness monsters are less viable. Wouldn't eliminate the problem completely, but it would certainly cut down on the damage any individual entity would be able to do with their greed.

    Get smart, get small.

    What makes the GMO "genie" worse than other "contaminants" is that the contamination is propogated from generation to generation, not just of the variety created, but with any variety downwind or nearby (depending on pollination process). It's not just the product that's contaminated, but the entire future of the species.

    I'm with you on the get small part. As I've stated elsewhere, my real concern isn't even with hurting these mega-businesses, there time is limited irregardless. My concern is for my great grandchildren who will have to grow food in a world where you never know what sort of garbage is in your seed's genome.

    Nuclear power can be a source for good, as well. So we strove to put in legal and other systems to attempt to restrain its use for good and not for evil. It has not worked out that way as the genie cannot be put out of the bottle.

    Thinking about the EPa and clean water - we used to have a 'genie' called Phosphorus in soap - did a magical job of cleaning. Yet, somehow the will was found to not use Phosphorous in soap. Same with CFCs in spraycans.

    So to say 'the genie is out' is a cop-out. (one I've used before BTW) If the 'bad' is considered 'bad' enough - humans will stop.

    I will suggest that Golden Rice is a classic high tech solution to a low tech problem. For years agribusiness with help of their friends at the World Bank have encouraged monoculture in especially the Third World. Traditional diets have suffered the consequence and the poor are forced to eat the only affordable calories available. If those calories come solely from white rice they will suffer from a number of deficiencies, including that of Vitamin A which will cause blindness. Mistrust of western medicine often prevents these victims from the simplest solution--i.e. a vitamin pill--but we will now cure the problem with our glorious golden rice. What would be wrong with some squash or carrots?

    Tell me that Golden Rice is a greedy, thoughtless use of resources without concern for externalities. Go ahead, I dare you.


    "Golden Rice is a greedy, thoughtless use of resources without concern for externalities."

    Now that I've humored you, humor me over the insertion of alcohol production genes in Klebsiella Planticola. Defend how the US EPA approved it for field trials.

    Beyond 'hammer to destroy'.

    Read the "Intellectual Property" section of the Wikipedia article. Looks to me like it's existence is essentially a marketing opportunity for corporate interests (including our friends at Monsanto). And with the limitation that it can only be used for "humanitarian" purposes and the $10k limitation - yeah, it wasn't created out of greed, but it's controlled by greed.

    We live in a world where public discourse is reduced to a pithy soudbite.

    Yes, GMO is a fubulously useful tool for pest and disease resistance, nutrient cycle improvement, aridity and salinity tolerance, etc etc.

    But it's clear that GMO crops are used as a tool by very big international businesses to effectively sieze control of the world's food supply.

    The story has over the years gone from

    • we're just having a field trial, cross-pollination is impossible
    • don't worry, they can't breed because of this suicide gene


    • your crop contains our patented genes (well ok maybe there was cross pollination but it's somwhow not our fault)
    • you owe us loads of money
    • you'll all have to but next years' seeds from us at a price we choose

    Ive heard stories of people going around to small mexican farms and impounding crops of ancient heritage varieties of corn because one of the hundreds of "field trials" upwind had contaminated the crop with patented genes.

    So clearly the technology has been hijacked by pirates for, suprise suprise, thier own ends.

    Again, we know the technology can give wonderful advantages. I met a guy from cuba studying genetics of bananas for use back home, I can only approve of resposible scientific efforts.

    But large corporations are manoevering themselves into a position where they will be the sole suppliers of a seed stock which in turn can only be grown with thier patented agrichemicals, so they control the price, gather much of the profit, and can pick and choose which of thier dependent farming countries they will allow to grow crops next year.

    On top of this, the location(s) where the GMO seed crop is grown represents a single point of failure for the world's food supply - a judicous application of a crop-duster-load of agent-orange or somesuch could wipe out next years soya or canola.

    So, in a world of pithy soundbites, I'd have to say I'm against GMO - but you critical thinkers out there know what I actually mean.

    And look at some of the heavy-handed tactics that Monsanto uses:


    Then check this out:


    Gardens rule! Grow your own food!

    Genetic engineering and radiation are both tainted by the "Hollywood Monster Movie Effect".
    Examine your own beliefs with regards to both and see if that is not true.

    Would this be the Hollywood movie where the monster is visited upon an unsuspecting population due to the search of profit/money of one party who misjudged the actual damage said monster would do?

    If you want to have a serious discussion about GMOs, please don't start by trying to confuse plant breeding for various traits with transgenic techniques for implanting genes from other species into crops. It is rather disingenuous.

    By playing loose with the definition of "genetically modified" you may assuage your own conscience, but you don't lessen the very real issues that we must confront with regard to gmo.

    A seed the result of generations of selective breeding is not the same as a seed the result of the laboratory insertion of genetic material from a completely unrelated species.

    I am not concerned with issues of "playing god" or any other such moral compunction - I am concerned about the viability of our seed stock in a post corporate ag world.

    A seed the result of generations of selective breeding is not the same as a seed the result of the laboratory insertion of genetic material from a completely unrelated species.

    Thanks for stating the obvious.

    And yet I hear a little question-begging, a little assuming that, perhaps, there's something WRONG, JUST WRONG, with "insertion of genetic material from a completely unrelated species." (All "species" are "related," by the way. This was Darwin's discovery.)

    It's perfectly natural, you know. Ever hear of Cross species gene transfer?

    And "viability of seed stock in a post corporate ag world" is a separate issue from genetic modification. No one has stopped me from saving my own seed yet. I like it.

    Monsanto absolutely and aggressively stops you from saving your own GM seed, as I'm sure you know.

    Let's just blow it off with "all species are related, this was Darwin's discovery". You really aren't serious. Or maybe you're just a troll.

    Or maybe you're just a troll.

    Thank you for the pleasant end of our conversation.

    You are welcome.


    Monsanto specifically creates seeds that cannot be saved. This is part of their business model. Go ahead, try to save your Monsanto GMO seed. Then see if it will grow anything next year. In addition, these seeds spread to neighboring fields and contaminate those crops that can be saved. This is the reason that so many farmers, including those in India, are so outraged by this monster.

    Monsanto is out of control.

    This is hardly a separate issue and my guess is that you know very little about the issues surrounding GMO seeds.

    Monsanto is out of control.

    I agree.

    It is still a separate issue.

    The issue you're concerned about is "corporate control."

    I don't buy seeds from Monsanto, and I save my own when I can.


    He's a troll, and neither knows nor cares about the issues surrounding GMO seed, except perhaps insofar as it affects his Monsanto stock. He is just trying to get a reaction. There is no point in engaging him in debate. I quit.

    Could you provide a citation on that? I was under the impression that the terminator gene proposal was scrubbed and never brought to market. Are you talking about something different?

    I was going to ask the same, but then thought the comment was about hybrids and didn't bother.

    It's perfectly natural, you know.

    Nature is filled with many toxic things. Stuff that is bad for you.

    Now did you have a point you wanted to make? Because the last time *I* checked - the argument over GMOs is about *HARM*.

    No one has stopped me from saving my own seed yet.

    And your point? How about you battle Monsanto like Percy did?

    I like it.

    Then you haven't faced Monsanto. Or other actual bio-tech firms that believe they can patent a sequence of genes.

    Does someone REALLY need to explain to you the difference between "the behavior of corporations" and "the science of genetics"?

    So that is your response? Nice attempt at redirect. At least this time you didn't tell me to fuck off, so that is progress.

    Thus, the 'science of genetics' as implemented by 'the behavior' of 'a corporation' should not be discussed - because you want to talk about melons?

    I've posted examples for you to actually respond to. Do show your "broken heart" and respond to them.

    And yet I hear a little question-begging, a little assuming that, perhaps, there's something WRONG, JUST WRONG, with "insertion of genetic material from a completely unrelated species." (All "species" are "related," by the way. This was Darwin's discovery.)

    What you're hearing is the sound of your own straw man.

    What you're hearing is the sound of your own straw man.

    Thus showing taking genes from man and putting 'em in grains to make straw-men is just wrong.

    And the moral of the story is....

    This is what happens when you question the irrational beliefs of others. I think there is a valuable lesson in this thread, and that is that change comes with people kicking and screaming all the way.

    To reiterate:

    A great portion of the "organics" movement harbors superstition, pseudo-science/anti-science, and marketing lies.

    I'm involved in this, passionately, because I've practiced "organics" methods for a long time, and I see their value in a post-peak world. But I've been part of organics fairs, talked with organic aficionados, and read many organics books that spout the most unbelievable claptrap.

    Can anyone really countenance such beliefs that conventionally grown food is harmful to your health, that residual amounts of pesticides are "toxic" to humans, that a carrot grown "organically" is "more healthy, more nutritious, and healing," whereas a carrot grown with conventional methods are "toxic," or, as a famous Maine organic farmer says in one of his books, "You can taste the petroleum in them?" This same person says that plants grown "organically" will repel pests "naturally," because such plants are "more healthy." He is saying, in effect, that pests don't attack healthy plants.

    There is so much to this movement that needs to be acknowledged as specious, and to preserve the issues I mentioned at the outset: Soil health, localization, and reduced fuel/material inputs.

    I'm more convinced that such a revolution will only begin in backyards, and not with the current organic market, which is more interested in spreading lies to drive up prices than in anything related to the constraints that will visit us after peak oil.

    If I would apologize for one thing, it's for perhaps even giving an impression that many organic farmers aren't the "can-do" people a poster above says. I'm sure there must be others in this field that must be uncomfortable with some of the claims they see promulgated. I know the people I work with are extremely hard-working. My boss is in his seventies and he's up at 7 in the morning picking kale.

    Mike Bendzela
    [insert adjective beside "organic"] farmer

    that residual amounts of pesticides are "toxic" to humans,


    Toxic \Tox"ic\, Toxical \Tox"ic*al\, a. [L. toxicum poison, originally, a poison in which arrows were dipped, Gr. toxiko`n (sc. ?) poison for smearing arrows with, fr. toxiko`s of or for the bow, from to`xon bow, arrow. Cf. Intoxicate.]

    Of or pertaining to poison; poisonous; as, toxic medicines.

    Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)

    Depends on the 'pest' in pesticide. Some insect pesticides are not considered toxic to humans (but even chrysanthemums are "low toxic" it seems Will have to look into the flower as used in tea VS bugs and VS cats for yucks. Neem oil is also human low toxic). Most rodenticides are toxic to humans - what with similar places on the tree of life.

    Permethrin is an older, early generation, pyrethroid insecticide. It is widely used and has recently enjoyed an upswing in homeowner popularity since diazinon was taken off the US market. Permethrin has many uses from landscape pest control to head lice shampoos, flea, tick and mosquito control on dogs, and mosquito control on outdoor clothing and camping gear (right). Permethrin is relatively low toxicity (permethrin is, however, highly toxic to cats) but like any insecticide should be used sparingly and with care.

    A poison is a poison and is toxic. 1 molecule or billions - if it is toxic, it remains toxic.

    False. It is directly dependent on dose.

    Is aspirin "toxic"?

    It depends on how much you ingest.

    While the substance itself may readily be referred to as a "toxin," the whole point of testing is to see the effect of amount.

    Agreed. "The poison is in the dose," as Paracelsus said. Too much of anything, even water, can kill you.

    It doesn't make the water less toxic. Toxin's effects on the body is dependant on the bodies ability to process the toxin and somehow be rid of said toxin or the effect of said toxin.

    Pure water would be made salty and removed via sweat or urine. Heavy metals get passed out, and poisons that are poison via oxidation/reduction would do the oxidation/reduction damage then be changed into another form which may not be damaging.

    They are still TOXIC. Just not enough to kill.

    And to argue 'too much water is toxic' moves you into the 'toxic sludge is good for you' camp.

    Amazingly my congress critter has not gotten back to me with the reasons they are a co-sponsor.

    Don't forget to add bees to the exemption list. GMOed pollen (not human edible) mixed in would render all my honey production not consumable. I don't know for sure, because I don't test. If I tested, I'd not be able to sell it.

    Why does GMO pollen matter a whit in the quality of honey? I'd eat the grains with few reservations, and the honey with none at all.


    When the case became public, a district court in the Bavarian city of Augsburg ordered Bablok to stop selling, or even giving away, his honey. As a result, he became Germany's first beekeeper who delivered his honey to a waste incineration facility.

    "Karl Heinz Bablok" is the search string....

    You have hit upon one or the aspects of the end game that ticks me off, perhaps more than any other.

    I know that in the world my great grandchildren grow up in that there will be no Monsanto and the like. There will be no GMO seed industry. Indeed, there will be no food industry as we currently know it.

    Still, my great grandchildren will have to deal with the impact of these monstrosities. The genie is out of the bottle and every year we further contaminate the open pollinated seed world.

    The damage done to corn, alone, is criminal. Once the most useful and valuable crop in the world. By the time these morons are done I'd be surprised if you could grow a single plant with any certainty of what you are actually growing.

    Okay - I'm going to push the soap box aside, it's unbecoming.

    Yes, you are right....the damage done. That's why some have kept the faith.

    "The Svalbard Global Seed Vault (Norwegian: Svalbard globale frøhvelv) is a secure seedbank located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen near the town of Longyearbyen in the remote Arctic Svalbard archipelago.[1] The facility was established to preserve a wide variety of plant seeds from locations worldwide in an underground cavern. The Seed Vault holds duplicate samples, or "spare" copies, of seeds held in genebanks worldwide. The Seed Vault will provide insurance against the loss of seeds in genebanks, as well as a refuge for seeds in the case of large scale regional or global crises. The island of Spitsbergen is about 1,120 kilometres (700 mi) from the North Pole. The Seed Vault is managed under terms spelled out in a tripartite agreement between the Norwegian government, the Global Crop Diversity Trust (GCDT) and the Nordic Genetic Resource Center (previously named the Nordic Gene Bank, a cooperative effort of the Nordic countries under the Nordic Council of Ministers)."

    The IEA's new Oil Market Report is out this morning.

    Non-OPEC supply growth for 2009 is revised down by 380 kb/d to zero, following a reappraisal of ongoing problems at Azerbaijan’s ACG fields. Non-OPEC supply for 2008 is kept steady at 50.6 mb/d, as fourth-quarter upward revisions to UK North Sea production were offset by weaker non-OECD output. OPEC NGLs, however, should add 0.3 mb/d in 2009.

    Non-OPEC growth has been revised down to zero! Looks like the IEA is finally getting the message. Non-OPEC production was down 479,000 barrels per day last year verses 2007 and down 761,000 barrels per day since its peak year of 2004. (Using EIA's figures.) These figures include Indonesia which is now among non-OPEC nations.


    Indonesia is still a full member of OPEC. No longer an oil exporter, but still a member

    April 2008 58 pages PDF http://www.opec.org/library/what%20is%20OPEC/whatisOPEC.pdf

    Indonesia is still a full member of OPEC.

    Wrong! Your link is dated April 2008. Indonesia was, at that time, a full voting member of OPEC. They ceased to be a member of OPEC January 1st, 2009. Google Indonesia leaves OPEC and you will get thousands of hits confirming this. One of them: Indonesia leaves OPEC, organization cuts oil production by 520,000 barrels


    Well all right I was wrong. But when I search the site for "members" that link was the first to show.

    If their oil reserves are as reliable....

    Understand that when a country either leaves or joins OPEC, their historical production data is moved also. This is necessary to show consistency of the data. This was done when Ecuador and Angola joined OPEC. Angola joined OPEC January 1, 2007.

    Had Angola’s historical production data not been placed in the OPEC totals, OPEC would have shown a huge 1,510,000 mb/d jump in production that month. So in order to keep the data consistent, the historical numbers must be included. That is why I listed Indonesia in the Non-OPEC column. All reporting agencies will do that with their January 2009 numbers.

    Fair enough. I don't want to argue with you (was just trying to be smart, which I'm obviously not)

    So Non-OPEC zero increases, and OPEC on-going production cuts. That's a downslope.

    I'm sure you're smart, Paulus. It's understandable to be put a bit on the defensive when someone has to correct you by YELLING! it at you.

    Sheesh, Ron. Settle down.

    That's OK Bob, I'm much less of an investigator then Ron is, and I'm unable to do anything more with a computer then the obvious. I'm registered at this site only 5 weeks shorter then Ron and so I don't take any offence. I learned a lot from him. I also understand why he gets involved in flaming wars now and then; he was hoping to be safely dead when TSHTF, but he won't, so he's tirelessly trying to hammer the message accross.

    In any case, they hit zero net oil exports in 2004, eight years after their final production peak in 1996.

    When I compare the IEA report to the EIA STEO there is a big divergence in Q4 2008 demand. EIA has Q4 consumption rising by 1.6 mb/d from 84.7 to 86.3. IEA has demand down in Q4 compared to Q3 by 0.2 mb/d. I think the EIA might be too heavy with their demand forecast, imports did not go up by that much and inventories rose.

    There is another divergence in Q2 2009, EIA has consumption going down by 3.2 mb/d compared to Q4 while the IEA has demand going down by only 0.8.

    Who is right? It will be interesting to see revisions over the next 6 months.

    From Statistics Canada, released this morning, the latest Canadian unemployment figures as below:

    National average = 7.7%
    Ontario = 8.7%
    Alberta = 5.4%

    So far Alberta seems to be ducking the bullets. Our advantage is that most of the layoffs are expatriates, who go back east and are counted in the statistics for Ontario or the Maritimes.

    The Calgary 7-Eleven index (number of Help Wanted signs at 7-Eleven convenience stores) is showing fewer signs but stores are still offering $9.50/hr, and one of them as high as $11.

    $9.50 an hour? That reminds me that when I first worked in the oil business as jug-hound in Alberta in 1981-2 our hourly rate was $4.75. So salaries have doubled in 28 years. I have since left and returned to the UK, so shouldn't adversely affect unemployment stats in any of the provinces or territories!

    Re: Our pigs, our food, our health. Up top.

    The report that hogs are infecting people is very disturbing. My place is surrounded with about a half dozen hog factories similar
    to the one pictured in the article. There seems to be no end to the building of these things. Even with cheap pork and expensive corn the expansion continues. These places have the feed mixture supplied by semi trucks that come from feed mills long distances away. A new one near me was build last year. It's operating full blast now.

    There is plenty of corn since exports from around here have almost stopped. The ethanol plants and hog/chicken factories take nearly all of it now. How they can make any money at current prices is beyond me.

    I have railed against factory hog farms similar to the one pictured in the article many times. The primary reason I hate them is the stench, especially when they clean out the pits. Second was the waste of energy when corn is fed to animals. But the revelation that hogs are giving people heart disease really puts icing on the cake. Kill the hogs! Save the people!

    Pigs, along with birds and horses may pass their influenza virus to humans. There is also rising concern that domesticated cats may be disease vectors for H5N1 influenza. H3N8 influenza cases in dogs have been recently recognized in the US. Raccoons have also been shown to be able to transmit various influenza viruses.

    Pollan has written a good bit on this, and his visit to the Beef Feedlots for 'Omnivore's Dilemma' should be a warning shot to anyone about to buy a burger on the street, or a package of meat at the grocery store. We've got a pig from a local farm in the freezer, and actually visited them last summer to see what their setup was like. New Farm, being run by some young, motivated 20-somethings who'd done their 'residencies' and were making a go of it.

    I hope you've got neighbors who are doing this in Iowa, too. My wife has family in central Iowa, and some of them are moving over into organics and alternate practises..

    "Eating is a Political Act"

    My interest in the topic traces to two moments, in 2000, when I learned how our food is produced.

    One was driving down Route 5 in California and passing the Harris ranch, which is a huge feedlot right on the highway. It's a stunning landscape. I had never seen anything quite like that.

    Miles of manure-encrusted land teeming with thousands of animals and a giant mountain of corn and a giant mountain of manure. And a stench you can smell two miles before you get there.

    Most feedlots are hidden away on the High Plains. This one happens to be very accessible. Then I visited an industrialized potato farm in Idaho and saw how freely pesticides were used. The farmers had little patches of potatoes by their houses that were organic. They couldn't eat their field potatoes out of the ground because they had so many systemic pesticides. They had to be stored for six months to off-gas the toxins.

    .. and an alternative way .. (but much smaller scale by necessity, and more diffuse.. like Solar Energy! Hmm.. But it does use fermented corn, too!)

    When the heavy cows tread on their nitrogen-rich manure and on the carbon-rich bedding, packing it together, they allow the mixture to ferment (anaerobic composting). By adding corn to the bedding, Salatin entices his pigs to turn the bedding into compost: When the cows return to pasture in March, the pigs dig through the densely packed bedding, searching for the tasty fermented corn, aerating the pile and turning it into compost for the spring.

    Hog farms and chicken farms, both are sources of extreme stench and disease. There are plenty of chicken farms in this area, and I dread it when I must drive by one... Occasionally the stench from a cow pasture wafts past my place, but it is nothing compared to chicken and hog farms. (They're grazing cattle, as opposed to grain-fed cattle.) The best thing I can suggest to do is vote with your dollars... Even so, I do occasionally have a burger with bacon on it, or a chicken sandwich. When I'm at home, my meals are usually vegetarian.

    Sorry, but sometimes I can't help myself. Why not place the blame and punishment where it really belongs?
    Kill the people, free the hogs!

    Hopefully you see also that this article is making some very loose associations that could be understood a number of other ways. Correlation does not demonstrate causation. Eating a lot of factory farmed pig would get you an early heart attack just on the basis of omega-6 fats, MRSA aside.

    The skin sores they mention are related to Staph aureus carriage (in the nose, as referenced article mentions) but not necessarily MRSA. Here in Boulder, on the other hand, MRSA is very prevalent (compared to what I was familiar with in the Bay Area), but pig farms are not.

    Don't get me wrong, I am wildly opposed to all factory farming. We eat very little meat at home, we get heritage chickens from a man who lets them walk around (NOT "barn-roaming" as per Whole Foods latest designation) and no fish for environmental reasons. We get our omega-3 from pastured, grass-fed cow milk. Turns out grass eating cows make milk with different omega 6/omega 3 ratios than corn fed immobile cows, though they make far less milk.

    But here's another angle. My patients with MRSA are almost all diabetics - except in the case of one family with stress levels through the roof. Pre-diabetes rates in the US are reaching 26% for adults over age 20 (http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/statistics/#pre-diabetes). I am not sure whether anyone here realizes the enormity of this disaster. It takes my breath away. We will all be dying from early heart attacks and bacterial infections if we don't get this under control. The pigs here may just be the tip of the iceberg.

    All of that manure can and should be going into anaerobic digesters to produce biogas (methane). That would definitely help our energy supply situation (low tech, inexpensive, scalable, great EROI), and would keep the methane (which will be produced anyway, one way or the other) from being released into the atmosphere (a potent GHG, 20X as powerful as CO2). Plus, the volume is reduced to more manageable proportions, and really should be incorporated back into the soil; that should help out farmers with their fertilizer bills and maybe with irrigation as well (soil with more organic matter retains more moisture). That we are not doing things this way is incredibly short-sighted and stupid, quite apart from the ethical and public health issues wrt the livestock itself.

    Mexican politicans are up in arms about the recent inclusion by Forbes magazine of the head of the Sinaloa drug cartel, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, in its list of the world’s richest people. The outcry from Mexico’s political class has been ubiquitous with criticism coming from both senators and congressmen, as well as president Felipe Calderon:

    El mandatario lamentó "profundamente" en un foro de negocios la escalada de una campaña en la que "la opinión pública y ahora hasta las revistas no solo se dedican a mentir sobre la situación de México, sino a exaltar a los criminales".

    The leader deeply regrets the escalation of a campaign in the business forum in which “public opinion and now even magazines not only dedicate themselves to lie about the situation in Mexico, but to exalt the criminals.”


    Oh well, I suppose the best defense is always a good offense. I’m reminded of how quick Mexican officialdom is to cast aspersions on their neighbor to the north when reports of mistreatment of Mexican immigrants by U.S. police agencies surface. (And please don't interpret my comments as a defense of human rights abuses by U.S. officials.) Much of this is little more than a cynical ploy to distract attention away from the fact that Mexico has the most corrupt prison system in all of the Americas, and no one, no one treats Mexicans worse than its own government:

    La mayoría de las cárceles en América Latina son espacios en los que reina la “inmundicia” y el ocio, abundan las drogas y el alcohol y la seguridad interna está en manos del crimen organizado; sin embargo, la sobrepoblación en el Reclusorio Oriente de la ciudad de México no es comparable con ningún otro penal de la región, lo que propicia que los internos convivan en condiciones infrahumanas, aseguró Florentín Meléndez, presidente de la Comisión Interamericana de los Derechos Humanos (CIDH)…

    “En general, —señaló— hay una precariedad inaceptable, inmundicia por falta de sanidad y cárceles en las que la seguridad interna está en manos de mafias, a pesar de que la obligación de los Estados es establecer normas y aplicarlas para evitar todos estos problemas”.

    The majority of the prisons in Latin America are spaces in which squalor and idleness reign, drugs and alcohol are abandant and internal security is in the hands of organized crime; however, the overpopulation in the Reclusorio Oriente in Mexico City is not comprable to any other prison in the region, in that the inmates live in inhuman conditions, assured Floretin Melendez, president of the the Interamerican Commission of Human Rights...

    In general, she said, there is an unacceptable precariousness, filthiness due to a lack of sanitary conditions and prisons in which internal security is in the hands of mafias, despite the obligation of the state to establish norms and apply them to avoid all these problems.


    And when the criminals are in control of the criminal justice system, as is the case in Mexico, you get situations like this, where those who want to visit family members in prison must pay a mordida (bribe) in order to do so:

    …familiares quienes acudieron a visitar a internos este sabado, denunciaron que persiste la corrupción. Hoy en la puerta “de la mordida” personas tuvieron que pagar entre 300 y 500 pesos para poder ingresar.

    ...family members who came to visit prisoners this Saturday decried that the corruption persists. Today at the window “of the bribe” people had to pay between 300 and 500 pesos to be able to enter.

    --Arturo Morales, “Pagan 300 y 500 pesos para poser visitar a reclusos del Neza-Bordo,” Milenio, September 13, 2007, p. 13

    The first sentence of the following article provides an insight into the absurdiy of all the faux indigation by Mexican politicians:

    El hombre mas buscado en Mexico...

    The most wanted man in Mexico…


    Politics in Mexico is all about smoke and mirrors. Everybody knows about the ubiquotous corruption, are quick to denounce it, but nothing ever changes. Instead, when Mexican politicians get the chance, they blame the United States. Guzman is free for one reason and one reason only, and that is because those very same politicians who are raising the hue and cry are also bought and paid for by Guzman.

    Just like politicians in the United States are compromised by a criminal banking class, politicians in Mexico are compromized by a criminal drug-trafficking class.

    Transition II Bahktiari-

    "...the great fear at this point is that asset sales engage in a debt-deflation cycle of the kind outlined by irving fisher -- which effectively inverts the effectiveness of asset sales in repairing systemic balance sheets by driving down asset prices through illiquidity so deeply that asset writeoffs outpace cash raised and debt paid down.

    this is the sort of thing that is hoped to be avoided by changing the solvency rules for the banks. and perhaps it will help.

    but the eventuality will be that banks, on receiving whatever cash flows they will from their loans and securities, will be faced with trying to lend that money back out. these securities are not 30-year bonds -- most substantially retire in a few years' time, so this will be a problem almost immediately. beyond the slice of society that just won't borrow for anything and never did, there is simply little to no chance of sufficient demand for new loans from high-quality borrowers; even lower-quality borrowers will be focused on defaulting."


    that's a very nice site you link too, but doesn't direct to Mr. Bakhtiari's transitions.

    No it doesn't. That was me stating where we are in
    Bahktiari's Transition IV Phases.

    Byron King of Gunpowder Whiskey has a conversation
    with Mr Bahktiari.

    One of these sites should get you there:

    Remembering and learning from a legend | Energy Bulletin
    The Saudi Arabian case has been masterfully exposed by Mr. Matthew Simmons in ... Whiskey and Gunpowder (8/25/06), by Byron King, quoting Bakhtiari directly ...
    www.energybulletin.net/node/38183 - 24k - Cached - Similar pages
    The Four Phases of Transition
    Author Image for Byron King. Prior to joining Whiskey and Gunpowder, ... Mr. Luo Ping, director general at China’s Banking Regulatory Commission, ...

    DS -- sounds like you have a pretty good handle on the current situation in Mexico. Can you confirm or knock down the essence of some stories I've seen lately: While there has been a long history of local corruption in Mexico, the increased violence has made corruption as much a matter of survival as monetary gain. Either take the bribe and do as told or die. The increase in the assassinations of law enforcement is offered as evidence. Some reports suggest this extortion has reached very high political level…perhaps even well up the chain in the federal gov’t.

    Perhaps the stories are exaggerated but the increase in manpower and fire power might be forming a shadow gov’t of sorts. It’s difficult to imagine most of the politicians in Mexico (or anywhere else in the world) not playing ball if they felt they and their families were in immediate danger. How much could one trust private or gov’t security knowing the ability of the gangs to reach those same personnel. Along the same lines there were unsupported rumors a few months ago that Chavez had “imported” Iranian special ops for his internal security because he was sure he was still the highest bidder for his local security. It may not be as bad as some portray but given the decline in gov’t revenue as depletion/price collapse takes its toll, perhaps such a day is not too far in the future.

    Your thoughts?

    Either take the bribe and do as told or die.

    The father of my best friend here in Mexico is a former attorney general of the state of Queretaro. According to my friend, the situation is exactly as you describe.

    This can be interpreted in two ways:

    1) It is true, or

    2) It is a rationale to justify one's own corrupt behavior.

    I believe Mexico has recently been dubbed the most dangerous country in the world for journalists. There was a case of a journalist in Cancun who exposed the involvement of the governor of that state (Qunintana Roo) in a drug trafficking operation. Powerful people like the governor have other ways of punishing people besides having them killed. In her case, the governor cooked up some false charges and had her thrown in prison.

    You have to understand that, for the ruling class of Mexico, the criminal justice system is as much of a tool to stifle political dissent as it is anything else. There are numerous cases of this, including the one of Magdalena Garcia Duran, an outspoken advocate of the indigenous poor:

    De acuerdo con el indice AI: AMR 41/028/2006, elaborado por Amnistia Internacional, Magdalena fue arestada arbitrariamente en San Salvador Atenco. La organizacion internacional escribio un reporte especial entregado a Felipe Calderon y al governador mexiquense, Enrique Peña Nieto, en el cual asegura que la detencion de la mazahua es motivida politicamente y totalmente injustificada.

    According to a report written by Amnesty International, Magdalena was arrested arbitrarily in San Salvado Atenco. The organization wrote a special report and sent it to (President) Felipe Calderon and the governor of the State of Mexico, Enrique Peña, in which it assured that the detention of the mazahua is motivated politically and is totally unjustified.

    --Diego Osorno, "La Unica 'Presa de Conciencia' en el Pais," Milenio, September 4, 2007, p. 11

    Magdalena, who cannot read or write, and from her picture looks to be about 50 or 60 years old, was imprisoned on May 4, 2006 on the charge of "kidnapping six state police officers." None of the six have come forward to file charges. But despite the absurdity of the charges, and the fact there is no evidence against her, at the time of the writing of this article (Sept. 4, 2007), she remained in prison. The political class in Mexico uses these outrageous miscarriages of justice to send a clear message to the people: "We operate with impunity. You screw with us, you're going to pay a very, very dear price."

    The main crime of most of those in prison in Mexico is being poor. Criminals with money can typically buy their way out.

    I also want to point out that, if someone observes suspicious behavior that might be linked to drug trafficking, the chances of them reporting it to the police are very slim. After all, one never knows who the police may be in the payroll of. And by going to the police one might be bringing a world of trouble down upon themselves. In Mexico the criminal justice system is to be feared as much or more than the narcos.

    That makes a lot of sense DS. It's easy to assume that the drug cartels can directly control many of the gov't officials. I doubt very few of them can support the type of security needed to give them immunity. As you point out, TPTB already have merciless control over then genpop. Now the drug cartel has merciless control over most of TPTB. Perhaps the best we might hope for the average citizen is that the druggies might be more sympathetic towards them then TPTB.

    A correction to the story I cited about the governor of Quintana Roo: I was recounting what a friend told me who said he had seen it on TV a couple of days ago. I did a search and came up with this which is a little different than the story he recounted:

    1) The journalist was not reporting on drug trafficking but on a pedofile ring

    2) The incidents did occur in CanCun

    3) It wasn't the governor of Quintana Roo but of Puebla who arranged for her arrest

    In the spring of 2005, Cacho published a searing exposé of the child abuse and pornography rings flourishing amid the $500-a-night resorts and sugar-white beaches of Cancun. Her book "The Demons of Eden: The Power That Protects Child Pornography" chronicles in cringe-inducing detail the alleged habits of wealthy men whose sexual tastes run to 4-year-old girls.

    But her book was just a middling seller, and her fight against child abusers was getting little attention until one afternoon in mid-December 2005 -- the afternoon the cops showed up.

    On that day, seven months after her book was published, Cacho says, police officers from the far-off state of Puebla shoved her into a van outside the women's center she runs on a crumbling side street well removed from Cancun's gaudy hotel strip. They drove her 950 miles across Mexico, she says, jamming gun barrels into her face and taunting her for 20 hours with threats that she would be drowned, raped or murdered...

    "Well, yesterday, I gave a [expletive] whack on the head to that old bitch," (Puebla Gov. Mario) Marín tells Nacif.

    Nacif thanks his "precious governor" for ordering Cacho's arrest and says he will send Marín "a beautiful bottle of cognac."


    Marin is still governor of the state of Puebla:


    There was an interesting article about Mexican narco-corruption in Rolling Stone not long ago:


    Sounds like things are pretty bad. All of this was totally predictable however... Prohibition leads to violence, corruption and the massive strengthening of organized crime sure as night follows day. I'll reiterate what I posted in the Mexico collapse update the other day:


    The fact that the US, despite its financial troubles, is willing to throw billions of dollars down the toilet every year locking up drug users is a sure sign that the status quo will be fanatically defended, no matter how counterproductive and intellectually bankrupt it is.

    Amatai Etzioni in The New Golden Rule states that laws "without a firm moral undergirding, 'unbacked' laws, tend to harm the community more than serve it." In this category he places the drug laws and concludes: "The war against controlled substances is corrupting law enforcement, the lower courts, jail personnel and border guards, and, in many countries, the military and the elected officials."

    On the other hand, the legislature will not pass laws that do have the backing of the people:

    When laws lag significantly, and on a broad front, behind changes in the moral culture, the result is similarly debilitating... Cynicism was extensive in American society in the early and mid-1990s because elected officials often ignored the moral voice of American society. For instance, the public widely agreed that the flood of private money into the election coffers of politicians should be curbed, but Congress did not act. The overwhelming majority of the public favored gun control, but Congress refused to pass most gun control measures. Corporate welfare was allowed to continue in face of broad-based public oposition. In short, national lawmaking is often out of synch with the core values of most Americans.

    --Amitai Etzioni, The New Golden Rule

    Thanks a million for the link to the Rolling Stone article.

    Excellent article that really captures what's going on in Mexico.

    From the article it becomes all too clear that our government and the people it has monitoring this thing in Mexico are clueless. Either that or perhaps they have another agenda that really doesn't include fighting the drug trafficking.

    Either way our government is totally complicit, either by commission or omission, in the slaughter going on in Mexico.

    "Backgrounder" from the article makes an excellent point:

    It is America's insatiable demand, after all, that has created the market for narcotics in Mexico. Likewise, it is Washington's fixation with the War on Drugs that has pressured Mexico to wage a shooting war within its borders to stem the flow of illegal substances north of the border.

    Integrating this with Etzioni's comments concerning how the law has to be in sync with a community's moral voice, one has to ask: "Is there a moral commitment on the part of the Mexican people to fight and die to resolve a problem mostly for the benefit of their neighbor to the north?"

    John Ross offers some observations on this:

    The War on Drugs is not logo'd a war merely for propaganda purposes. The Pentagon mindset is that, in the words of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, North America is under "air, sea, and land attack" from criminal Latin cartels who are trying to seduce and destroy American youth. "It's like we are the U.S. troops sitting on the Yalu river during the Korean war--we're well-trained, well-disciplined, and well-equipped, but we face an enemy with unlimited resource and safe bases," is how former Customs Commissioner Willy Von Raab encapsulated this sense of siege to Time magazine reporter Elaine Shannon.

    The sense of urgency is a bit distinct on the other side of the Wall. Although drug traffic is criminalized one is punished here for "crimes against health" and use is not epidemic. Polls conducted by the National Psychiatric Institute since 1989 demonstrate only a slight rise in drug use--only 3% of the sample admits to having tried drugs and, for 75%, that drug was marijuana. Although Mexico is a major heroin producer (25 to 30% of the U.S. supply), only .09% of those surveyed had ever tried it. The popularity and availability of cocaine, which has actually been a Mexican import since the 1950s, is, however, spreading among "juniors" (the offspring of the affluent), and its use is pandemic in drug police circles.

    According to Ernesto Zedillo's health minister, the ration of U.S. and Mexican users is about 70 to one. Secretary Juan de la Fuente asserts that 72 million North Americans have admitted to using an illegal substance at least once in their lives--as opposed to 1.5 million Mexicans...

    The most seriously abused drug among the poor is alcohol, which takes a catastrophic toll in violent deaths, vehicular slaughter and the destruction of families--the social security health system calculates that 16 million citizens abuse alcohol, about a fifth of the population, and five million Mexicans are permanently damaged by this perncious drug.

    --John Ross, The Annexation of Mexico

    The US gets a "margin call":

    China "worried" about US Treasury holdings

    China's premier didn't say it in so many words, but the implied warning to Washington was blunt: Don't devalue the dollar through reckless spending.
    "Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I'm a little bit worried," Wen said at a news conference Friday after the closing of China's annual legislative session. "I would like to call on the United States to honor its words, stay a credible nation and ensure the safety of Chinese assets."

    Although the article referred to the "stimulus" spending, I wonder if Wen Jiabao was also referring to the "quantitative easing" going on in the Federal Reserve.

    Related article:

    China Finally Diversifying Out of the Dollar?

    And as Bloomberg writes today:

    “We have lent a huge amount of money to the United States,” [Chinese premier] Wen said at a press briefing in Beijing today .... “Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am a little bit worried. I request the U.S. to maintain its good credit, to honor its promises and to guarantee the safety of China’s assets.”

    China should seek to “fend off risks” as it diversifies its $1.95 trillion in foreign-exchange reserves and will safeguard its own interests, Wen said. Chinese investors held $696 billion of U.S. Treasuries as of Dec. 31, an increase of 46 percent from the prior year.

    “We have adopted a principle of diversification with our foreign-exchange investments,” said Wen. “So far, our holdings are generally safe. China will mainly use the reserves for outbound investments and trade.”

    There it is, straight from the horses mouth. China appears to finally be diversifying out of the dollar.

    Sounds like a really good time to put a massive dump of new Treasuries on the market to finance the "stimulus" and bailout plans - right when buyer #1 decides they aren't very much interested in buying any more. Brilliant.

    Buyer #1 does not have the funds to make more purchases. Consumer #1 has stopped buying product so no income accrues to Buyer #1. Buyer #1 then has to devote resources to taking care of Buyer #1.

    And since all the OECD countries (Germany apart) are seeking to borrow, one is left asking who is to do all the lending?

    Expect interest rates to start to climb and watch the impact on what is left of the domestic housing market.

    Or you will buy them (you just won't be notified).

    Oh, I do expect to see those interest rates to climb - a lot, as in double digit territory. So much for any "recovery" (which was a vain and bogus hope in the first place, this is just the final nail in the coffin).

    I can see this coming form a mile away, and I'm not a professional economist. Amazing that all of the "best and brightest" seem to be so utterly clueless.

    so what you are saying is that I should search now for a low rate re-fi to bring my mortgage payment down, then move my savings back into short-term/liquid products and be ready to finally start earning REAL interest on CDs, etc. Yay! The War on Savers might finally be coming to an end!

    So let me get this straight...the Chinese have decimated the American manufacturing base over the past 2 decades through a policy of keeping the yuan artificially low compared to the dollar. Now they have a giant mountain of dollars that they want to maintain the value of, and it's our responsibility to make sure the dollar stays high, so their plunder retains its value?

    Ha! I say, if China wants to keep the dollar up, let's see them start spending those dollars on some more American exports and stop whining. The yuan/dollar ratio is a huge problem, and I'd say their strategy has progressed past the point where they can avoid it's backfiring on them. And the longer this goes on, the worse it will be for both countries.

    Anyway, if we see our leaders keeping the dollar high for the benefit of the Chinese, we'll know who they are really responsible to.

    No. The whole undervalued Yuan story is BS. You could raise the value of the Yuan 50% and it won't bring one job back to the USA in those industries decimated-the wage differentials aren't anything like 50%.

    The Chinese don't own a mountain of dollars. They own a mountain of promises to pay dollars. And the US has been too crafty to provide real goods and services to China to extinguish those IOUs.

    China has every right to worry that we will pay with Monopoly money dollars. And we should exect a drill in the kneecaps if we do.

    They perfectly well knew the gamble and the game. They get employment growth and an opportunity to rapidly join the industrial age -- we get purchasers of our debt.

    They gambled that they could life their lifestyle to the point that a transition to self-consumption amid a world state in which they were a key player would happen before the US collapsed.

    Neither side bet on the frailty of the global finance market or the limits of oil hitting quite so hard. Now the US will fight for economic survival and China for political survival.

    The next still likely be that China will offer to buy US assets with dollars -- that will support real-estate and the dollar while recycling bucks for more purchases and giving China influence while getting them out of a dollar stash.

    JMHO -- nothing researched to base any of this upon.

    "They gambled that they could life their lifestyle to the point that a transition to self-consumption amid a world state in which they were a key player would happen before the US collapsed."

    I agree. It worked for Japan. Japan was the economic juggernaut in the 70's due to low labor costs, hard work and high quality, and they lifted themselves into an excellent position. Now we coexist nicely. I'm sure China believed they could do the same thing, however the difference in scale is immense. There don't exist the natural resources nor the markets for China to complete their grand undertaking, and what we appear to be left with is a hollowed-out US economy and 1.3 billion Chinese with a glimpse of western prosperity but not the wherewithal to complete their transition to it. They'd best be working on increasing their own internal consumption to keep their manufacturing capacity utilized, because our shortsightedness is going to ensure constantly decreasing purchasing power for us for a long time to come, and we will be undependable as both consumers and as a place to invest.

    Our strategy is going to need to be: how can we avoid everything in the country from being bought up by foreign dollar holders at fire sale prices, and how can we maintain our global hegemony? Good luck to us all.

    Our strategy is going to need to be: how can we avoid everything in the country from being bought up by foreign dollar holders at fire sale prices, and how can we maintain our global hegemony?

    The problem I see with your line of thought is that you haven't yet fully incorporated the globalist logic into your thinking. When you say "our strategy" it would appear that your mean the United States as a nation and economy. That daydream ended with the Trilateral Commission back in the 1970s. "The" strategy is to extract as much wealth from the global economy as possible.

    But you are not (at least not likely, for I don't know you personally)a member of the "our" that owns that strategy. The sooner you recognize this, the sooner you will understand that there is no danger of your country being bought up by foreigners - it's already been bought up. Just because some of them happen to live within the same state system boundaries as you doesn't mean that they share your interests.

    Oh, I didn't mean to present a problem that had a solution...that's been a lost cause for quite some time now. That's why this depression is quite global and very synchronous. It's hard to see how we could be more entangled in the mess, but I'm sure we soon will be.

    Maybe we need to posit a distinct "people's strategy" - not the one being followed by the FedGov and its corporate puppetmasters, but one that we the people can implement on our own without depending upon orders from on high.

    What the Chinese say and what they do are different.

    They are diversifying into ... what, exactly? Rouble? Euro? Swiss Franc?

    The Chinese are busy propping up their stock market and bankrupt banks:

    It was estimated in 2005 by Earnst and Young that the Chinese bad debts were about $900 billion. My view is that with the problems of the AMCs, the debts incurred during the boom, and the present 'stimulus' package, is that they are twice that. May be as large as their foreign reserves. Like Russia which had reserves of $500 billion, but their banks owed $400 billion.


    Plus, the shit hasn't hit the fan in China ...yet:

    14-year Commercial Real Estate Supply In China

    By Rodman’s calculations, 500 million square feet of commercial real estate has been developed in Beijing since 2006, more than all the office space in Manhattan. And that doesn’t include huge projects developed by the government. He says 100 million square feet of office space is vacant — a 14-year supply if it filled up at the same rate as in the best years, 2004 through ‘06, when about 7 million square feet a year was leased.

    “The scale of development was unprecedented anywhere in the world,” said Rodman, a Los Angeles native who lives in Beijing, running a firm called Global Distressed Solutions. “It defied logic. It just doesn’t make sense.”


    Inside China: A Sculptor's View

    (Mish Shedlock writes:) I have been exchanging emails with Bill Hopen, a sculptor who frequently travels to China, often for months at a time. Bill writes ....

    I've been to China a lot Mish, spent many months at a time there for the last eight years. China is already in a massive overcapacity real estate bubble. They are building three apartments for everyone that is lived in. Most apartments are empty and those that are rented do not come close to paying the interest on the loan.

    There are huge department stores with products loaded on the shelves and staff everywhere and no one is shopping! Staff outnumbers customers five to one. It's surreal. They are ready, waiting for a great wave of shopping to come, but no wave is coming.

    Eventually this "borrow and build" economy will be a pop heard round the world. China runs on construction, build build build, but there is no reason for that many places and spaces and big mall businesses with no consumers.


    Sound familiar?

    The thing people don't understand is, that by the Chinses not buying the flood of Treasuries that are going to be unleashed on the market, that will drive those Treasury prices down and yields up. Which will drive US interest rates in general up. Which will drive the value of the US dollar up. Which is how the Chinese will preserve the value of their stash.

    You see, as long as the US is spending money that we don't have, we are in one hell of a bind. You can shuffle things around all you want, but that one fundamental fact doesn't change, and it is a killer fact.

    If interest rates start climbing, the US Government can just buy up treasuries on the open market and exchange them for cash, in effect monetizing the debt. This will eventually lead to inflation, but will keep treasury prices down in the short term.

    So let me get this straight...the Chinese have decimated the American manufacturing base over the past 2 decades through a policy of keeping the yuan artificially low compared to the dollar.

    Did you notice any Chinese tip toeing around in the night removing US factories? Or was it a case of US industry making the decision to abandon the US workforce, and its high wages, and move all production offshore? Offshore first to Canada, then to Mexico, Ireland, the Philippines and finally the ROC.

    And then that Son of Sam friend of the US consumer known as Wallymart began demanding all of its suppliers deliver prices equal to what Walmart could obtain from ROC suppliers. So another entire level of suppliers abandoned the US.

    What were the Chinese to do with the huge waves of US cash that arrived in their country? This was US FDI that was needed to build the factories to produce the product that was once produced in the US. What was basically a farming economy became a consumer products economy within the 20 year timeframe you describe. But it was the investment decisions of US firms and US citizens that drove this process, not some canny Chinese bureaucrat.

    The Chinese learned the lessons taught by the Asian Crisis of late 1990's. Hot foreign cash, primarily dollars, fled Asia like a reversing tsunami. The only protection against such a shift was for central banks everywhere to stock up on dollars to protect themselves from a similar run on their currency.

    Americans have this problem with not understanding how the world works and then deciding to change it and make it "better."

    Meanwhile the outsourcing of US government jobs continues unabated under Obama's leadership http://wtop.com/?nid=596&sid=1622618

    There was a report a week or two ago of Microsoft terminating US citizens and retaining similarly skilled employees working on H1B visas.

    What do you think the reaction of government would be if the citizens demanded lower taxes though sending deskloads of bumpf work to lower cost Mumbai?

    Bet you a $ that there would be very learned arguments against globalization in such a case. But of course no problem at all when it is just a lowly private citizen who gets offshored.

    I didn't see this posted up top, apologies if I missed it. The Dot Earth blog, about possible population reduction from AGW:


    Absurd to be spending taxpayer dollars on highway infrastructure and bailing out the auto industry and presuming to call this "leadership."

    From the Brazil find article, above:

    Exxon Mobil’s Azulao-1 well tapped a reservoir that could contain 8 billion barrels of recoverable oil, said Luiz Lemos, a partner at TozziniFreire Advogados, a Brazilian law firm that represents foreign energy companies with projects in the South American nation.

    At current energy prices, 8 billion barrels of oil is worth about $380 billion, which exceeds the economic output of Taiwan, South Africa and Ireland.

    The Brazilian prospects cover an area the size of the U.S. state of Florida about 170 miles (274 kilometers) offshore under more than 16,000 feet of water, rock and salt, Lemos said. The region will require $500 billion in investments over the next few decades for pipelines, production platforms, gas-processing plants and other infrastructure, he said.

    Claiming a find of 8 billion barrels from a single test well strikes me as a wild guess. At least some of the people interviewed said it's too early to tell. I wonder who will invest $500 billion to develop the field, if the recoverable oil isn't even worth that much? Or am I reading something wrong?

    You got it right more or less SW. I've played these word games myself for over 30 years. "Could contain" is vastly different then "does contain". And "does contain", when based on limited data, isn't much more then a very rough educated guess. And the word "potential" has no practical meaning whatsoever. I didn't read the article but the "Florida sized" area is probably referring to the entire Santos Basin...not the XOM field. Likewise, the $500 billion is probably just a WAG for the entire basin. Don't worry...XOM will drill enough expendable wells to confirm the commerciality of the field. And even after the XOM field been drilled up and put on production the ultimate recover will still be an educated guess....easy to be high/low 10% to 20%.

    And don't swallow there math game re:economic output. It might be a big chunk of change but it might take 20 to 30 years to recover the entire amount. I suspect the are talking about just one year's eco output of those 3 countries.

    Thanks for the clarification. I knew the comparison to "economic output" was apples to eggplants. And yes, it looks like the area in question is indeed the whole Santos Basin, including Tupi, etc.

    Even if there really were 8 billion barrels, that's only enough to fuel the USA for 11 months. A billion barrels is a lot smaller than it sounds:

    1 million barrels = one hour of USA consumption c.2009
    1 billion barrels = five weeks of USA consumption c.2009
    1 trillion barrels = one human lifetime of USA consumption c.2009

    This week's European Gas Storage figures are out. I decided to put the figures in the form used by the EIA. Keep in mind that European Union storage is about half that of the US.

    Working gas in storage was 534 Bcf as of Monday, March 9, 2009, according to estimates. This represents a net decline of 61 Bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 280 Bcf lower than last year at this time.

    Switching back to metric. Stocks are now approximately 8 bcm below last year (last week was 7.2 bcm lower than the same week last year - get the picture here...). European storage is now down to about 30% as compared to about 46% this time last year. Storage continues to decline at a rate of around 100 mcm/day faster than last year and has done so ever since the Russian production collapse.

    Storage in France is now below 20%.

    The low level of storage in the UK was raised in parliament last week. Shadow energy and climate change secretary Greg Clark said:

    Hansard: 5th March Parliamentary Debate Gas Storage

    For the second time in only four winters, we almost ran out of gas, and almost did not have sufficient gas to meet demand. According to a written answer that the Minister gave me only this morning, only the depressed state of the economy, due to the recession, saved us from running out. Even the official regulator thinks that we do not have enough storage. In the Energy and Climate Change Committee, my hon. Friend the Member for Bromsgrove (Miss Kirkbride) asked the regulator whether he thought that enough storage was being planned, and he said:“I am not happy to talk about this...we were hoping that storage would have doubled in the past five years— “and we have barely moved.”

    The government responded by accusing the Conservatives of "rumour mongering". Nasty talk. Maybe Gordon Brown will start locking opposition politicians up if they don't agree to keep quiet.

    Very good point:

    Storage continues to decline at a rate of around 100 mcm/day faster than last year and has done so ever since the Russian production collapse.

    And again, because Russia's consumption as a percentage of production is so high, very small declines in production produce large declines in natural gas exports.

    The 2006 numbers (EIA), rounded off, were production of 63 BCF/day, consumption of 45 BCF/day, and net exports of 18 BCF/day.

    A 5% production decline, and a 5% increase in consumption (in a cold winter) would cause net exports to fall by about 30%.

    Hello TODers,

    Haiti still struggles with hurricane mud

    ..This fragile country is on the brink.

    Haiti’s despair, continued

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has decided to continue an ill-advised Bush administration policy of deporting illegal Haitian immigrants. Haiti, already desperately poor, was devastated by storms last year. It is hard to see how an influx of up to 30,000 homeless, jobless people — the number of Haitians facing deportation from the United States — would do anything but further destabilize the country as it struggles to recover from what has been called its worst natural disaster in a century.
    Evidently, during these times of financial hardship, the best way to cut costs for the FEMA camps is just to deport people to the luxurious Caribbean hideaway of Camp UNFED. I hope Madoff and other corrupt elites can be put on these boats to Haiti. It would be fascinating to read of their struggles to survive as the next hurricane season approaches...

    I think their wading through the mud and crap would give them a deep appreciation of resource limits and Overshoot as Nature is immune to Ponzi schemes.

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

    Yesterday I attended the conference “Peak Oil and Health” held at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University.
    The conference was partially sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control. Unfortunately, I was afflicted with food poisoning and unable to fully engage in the conference. Nonetheless, here is a quick report for TOD readers:

    I would estimate there were ~ 50 participants on-site. The conference was also live on the web. (I don’t know how many participated in virtual space.) Of the participants I interacted with, they hailed from DC, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Minnesota (myself), Alberta, and Ontario. Most were in Public health; a few were physicians (including myself).

    Overall, the talks covered the details of Peak Petroleum thoroughly, and touched upon related issues including other resource depletion, climate change, and ecosystem degradation. A repeated theme was noting the nation’s poor foresight regarding the built environment.

    In general, I felt none of the conveyed information was new (though, in general, I feel well informed regarding peak oil). I was surprised (and pleased) to hear speakers use language that mirrored some of the more doomerish of commentators on TOD (and reflective of my own level of concern).

    Dr. Brian Schwartz, a professor of Environmental Health Services at Bloomberg and Internal Medicine/ Occupational Health Physician, gave the opening overview of the day’s speakers. Of note, he described Westexas’ Export Land Model though he gave no credit. (Sorry Westexas!)

    Congressman Roscoe Bartlett was unable to attend the conference in person due to a scheduled vote at Capitol Hill, but he spoke in a pre-recorded speech as well as phoning in for a question and answer section. This was the first time I have heard him speak, and I was impressed. He hit all the key points regarding the science of oil depletion as well as argued for aggressive action.

    An economist, Matthew Roberts from Ohio State, introduced himself “as the token representative of the Man.” Notably, before becoming an economist, he was a commodities trader, and before that, a used car salesman. He represented the opposing view, largely arguing that though oil will certainly reach peak at some point, peakists falsely assume linear demand and a plethora of societal and technological changes will moderate peak oil’s impact. A revealing comment he made was regarding the current mortgage and credit crisis: “I don’t think anyone could have seen what has happened in the last six months.” Followed by (and without a hint of irony), “Humility is an important trait for economists.”

    I began to feel increasingly ill after the economist’s talk (related or not, who’s to say?) and I missed several talks I was looking forward to, including, Drs. Dan Bednarz and Robert Lawrence.

    A white paper on peak oil for the public health community is planned to be written in a closed session today. PDF files of the talks are available at the website linked above.

    EDIT: Another comment: Congressman Bartlett specifically referred conference participants to 2 sources: Twilight in the Desert and TOD. Nice endorsement!

    I attended, too, and it was very good. The material on peak oil was to the point, the impacts (more or less) clearly stated.

    The economist gave the typical economist language. 'The market signals will do their job, etc.' No sense that his theories were all created during a period of abundant energy, no sense that oil, being the driver of the world economy, might have a special role in keeping everything going.

    It's important to note that the standard economic theory really is drilled into MBAs and economists, as far as I can tell from the conversations I've had with them. And for the most part the standard theory is correct.

    Until it isn't.

    Quite an irony to be ill with food poisoning while attending a public health conference. Sorry about that!

    Most of the time, the news follows the pattern of anthropogenic plunder and doom that fits my mental model. But two times now this week, I feel I have some new information to integrate.


    Plenty of caveats attend the story: they are only talking about reducing the cost of the 'capture' part of CCS; sequestration remains just as costly and site limited. Also, the need for increased water could become problematic.

    Nevertheless. Link that up with notional models suggesting coal production could peak in 10 years and decline in 40 (i.e. after a long plateau), possibly confronting us with .... 'peak climate forcing'??

    Wow. Coal may get to play out its string after all.

    Some levity to end the day:

    I'm grading exams for my secular bible class, "Excavating the Bible."

    I learned today that the earliest copies of the Hebrew bible are called "The Ancient Sea Squirrels."

    Also, ancient biblical writers wrote on "papayas."

    Finally, Moses received the law at the top of "Mount Cyanide."

    I wish I were joking.

    I think I read that in dude-aronomy.

    Bonze Age Fiction is, well, Bronze Age Fiction.
    How can one embarrassing Creation Myth be graded down by content of another, no matter what the story?
    They were all cartoons.

    Hi Mike;
    Didn't realize it was you till late this evening.

    Here's a string of High School Metaphors that try to live up to the reverend example of the Squirrels..


    # He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

    # She grew on him like she was a colony of E. Coli, and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.

    # She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

    # Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

    # He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.

    # The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.

    Bob Fiske - Portland

    Run-away spell check.


    Last September, the Bush administration defended the unusual secrecy over an anti-counterfeiting treaty being negotiated by the U.S. government

    Errr, how can a supreme law of the land (a treaty) be secret?

    A very busy day in energy and climate news:

    Wind Shifts May Stir Carbon Dioxide From Antarctic Depths, Amplifying Global Warming

    Natural releases of carbon dioxide from the Southern Ocean due to shifting wind patterns could have amplified global warming at the end of the last ice age--and could be repeated as manmade warming proceeds, a new paper in the journal Science suggests.

    Solar Water Heating Pays For Itself Five Times Over

    An analysis of the engineering and economics for a solar water-heating system shows it to have a payback period of just two years, according to researchers in India.

    Air Pollution: Clear Sky Visibility Over Land Has Decreased Globally, Indicative Of Increased Particulate Matter

    Two solar component developers cut 20% of staff

    More than 2,000 people were laid off by leading developers of technology for power and control systems for solar and other industries

    Scientists discover 9-second lithium-ion recharge

    Forget what you know about carbon emissions

    Scripps scientists are developing the tools to pinpoint the source of emissions, potentially making carbon taxes a more feasible instrument than cap-and-trade systems. Another Scripps researcher is highlighting a phenomenon that calls for cheap modifications to diesel engines and factories that could take a 15 percent hit out of today's greenhouse emissions—if only some of the wording behind emissions regulations can be altered.

    Hello TODers,

    I guess bailout banks like to really kick the unemployed when they are down:

    Another twist for the unemployed: Debit card fees

    .."Fees should not be attached to unemployment benefits that the taxpayers are paying to help Americans," Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-New York, told CNN. "Particularly, these fees should not be attached by banks that are getting TARP money and are being supported by taxpayer dollars."

    CNN asked some of the major banks involved in the debit card program for a response. Spokesmen for JP Morgan Chase, Wachovia, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo all directed us to the individual state governments for comment.

    This could get ugly:

    Japan warns it may shoot down North Korean satellite launcher
    • Pyongyang says response would be act of war
    • Regional tensions rise over missile launch
    Although I am not a rocket scientist, I believe the best chance to shoot it down would be early in its boost phase when the rocket is slowest and most unstable. If it turns out that this is NOT a satellite mission launch: once it gets going sufficiently fast, it would only be logical for the North Koreans to have programmed-in an randomly oscillating flight trajectory to make it much harder for a Patriot ABM to counter target.

    Once a rocket gets going sufficiently fast it becomes very difficult to maneuver it on a controlled oscillating (weaving) course. This would require a complex choreography of vernier rockets and/or a complex-control-law-software-driven thrust vectoring main engine nozzle. This is very difficult, even for advanced space powers. The KNs are just in the stage of hoping the rocket goes 'straight' down the ballistic path they intend.